Archive for June, 2010
Let’s explore. Here are two grafs from the AP story on today’s firing of Florida Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez.
Graf 1: “We owe it to our fans to put this team in the best possible position to win,” [Marlins] owner Jeffrey Loria said in a statement. “Everyone knows how I feel about winning. That’s the reason we’re making this change.”
Graf 2: When last season ended, Gonzalez’s job was considered in jeopardy because Loria was upset that the Marlins failed to make the playoffs, although they finished 12 games above .500 with the smallest payroll in baseball. Several times this year Loria denied Gonzalez should be worried about his job security, most recently at the start of a trip May 7 in Washington.
To review, some key clauses: “We owe it to our fans to put this team in the best possible position to win” and “finished 12 games above .500 with the smallest payroll in baseball.”
This has been another installment of “How to Tell if Your Team’s Owner Is an Asshole.”
This weekend, your favorite blogger attended the American Craft Beer Festival at the Seaport World Trade Center here in sunny Boston, Massachusetts. I’m a professional writer, but I’m struggling to come up with the words to describe the childlike joy that fills my heart every time I walk through those convention center doors and see 86 craft brewers pouring more than 400 different beers. It’s enough to make you believe that there just might be a providential force benevolently watching over us, dedicated to helping us achieve happiness in this existence.
Every year, I print out this master list of all the brewers and beers, and try to highlight the ones that I absolutely must try. For whatever reason, I completely forgot to do that this year, so I was flying blind. Every year, I also promise myself that I’ll take notes and blog about the experience, and every year I fail to get it done. Not this time! Using a streamlined, no-frills approach of using simple annotations on my handy Beer Fest guide, I was able to create a bare-bones record of my experience. I won’t lie: the tasting cup is tiny, but you can sip as many different beers as you want in three and a half hours, so my note taking um, suffered as the day progressed. But let’s take a walk through and see if I can’t tell you a little bit about my day and some of the excellent beers I tasted.
# The toast of last year’s fest was the relatively new Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project, a brewer based out of Cambridge (although they don’t have an actual brewery, so they’re not quite based anywhere). In fact, by the time I made it to their booth last year, they were all out of beer. This time around, I made sure I went to them first. I’ve had their Jack D’Or American saison before, so I tried the Fluffy White Rabbits, which is described as a “hoppy Belgian triple” (get it?) I scribbled down “light, hoppy, sweet,” but for the life of me, I can’t recall anything else about it. Chalk that up to it being the first beer I had. The good news is, I wouldn’t have bothered to write anything down if it sucked.
# The craft beer industry is the craft beer industry because none of these breweries can even touch the big guys like Anheuser Busch–InBev and MillerCoors. The Boston Beer Company, maker of Sam Adams, is the largest American-owned brewery, and they famously tout in ads how small (something like 1 percent?) their share of total beer sales in America. All this being said, there are still some big guns in the craft beer community: Brooklyn Brewery, San Diego’s Stone Brewing Company, Boston’s Harpoon Brewery, Delaware’s Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Vermont’s Magic Hat Brewing Company, and California’s Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, to name a few.
These are breweries that, honestly, have nothing to prove. They’re the prime movers of the industry, and some of the most reliably innovative brewers out there. That said, some stood out and some lagged behind on Saturday. Brooklyn offered a virtuoso lineup of brews: I started off with a taste of the Brooklyn Summer, an English “light dinner ale” which, out of the tap, is my second favorite beer ever. I immediately got back into line to taste the Sorachi ale, a dry-hopped saison. (A saison, also know as farmhouse ale, is described by the good fellows at Beer Advocate as “a very complex style; many are very fruity in the aroma and flavor. Look for earthy yeast tones, mild to moderate tartness. Lots of spice and with a medium bitterness. They tend to be semi-dry with many only having touch of sweetness.”) This one failed to disappoint; if you know Dangerous, Dirty, and Unfun, you know I appreciated the extra touch of hops. I also had a sip of their Dark Matter, a brown ale aged in whiskey barrels. Just think this, with an actual whiskey aftertaste. Delish!
# Harpoon was a sponsor of the event, so they got a prime location with additional taps. Good, because if the Brooklyn Summer is my second favorite beer, then the Harpoon IPA is Numero Uno. (I rhapsodized about this nectar back when I thought I was leaving Boston forever.) This time around, I sampled their 100 Barrel Series offering, Pott’s Landbier, an easy, not-too-hoppy not-too-malty session lager that was vaguely reminiscent of another of Harpoon’s 100 Barrel beers, the kellerbier, a truly tasty style that for the life of me, I can never find anywhere.
# I was a little disappointed with Stone. These guys make notoriously hoppy (and delicious) beers liek Arrogant Bastard and Ruination. When I said up top that there are brewers that don’t have anything to prove, the corollary is that they can take some risks. And the corollary there is that some risks blow up in your face! Stone’s booth featured their cask-conditioned IPA, each dry-hopped with a different variety of hops—Centennial, Chinook, Amarillo, Nugget, and Columbus. It was an interesting experience, tasting how different types of hops affect the taste of a beer you’re already familiar with. However, not every type was a hit, and being cask-conditioned ales at a beer fest, the brews came out kind of tepid. Other people can disagree, but I find that my beer tastes better cold. It was sad, because looking at the Stone offerings in the guide, I was really looking forward to having my hair blown back. It was not.
# I’m not a great food/taste writer. I just have a hard time describing how things smell and taste. Things taste the way they taste. What do you want from me! I say all of this because I really liked the Shipyard Summer Ale, an American pal. But the best way I could describe it was that it had a feety, socky taste. In a good way! Anyone that’s ever eaten a piece of cheese knows what I’m talking about.
# Every time you go to one of these beer festivals, you run the risk of discovering a completely new style that you never knew you liked, but thereafter can’t live without. I got a taste for the aforementioned saison style at last year’s beer fest. This year, the honor went to a style that I had never even heard of: the black IPA. Apparently, in the beer community, there’s a bit of a controversy as to whether the black IPA represents a new style or simply a fad. (I’m apt to agree with the Idaho Statesman’s take.) The fact remains, though, that the stuff is tasty. I tried two types of black IPA on Saturday: one from Clown Shoes, which is actually contract-brewed out of Mercury Brewing in Ipswich, and one from Blue Hills Brewery in Canton. The virtue of the black IPA (or Cascadian Dark Ale, as a vocal faction of beer enthusiasts want to call it) is that it combines the malty taste of a stout, with the light body and hoppy character of an IPA. The Blue Hills iteration leaned in the IPA direction, while the Clown Shoes leaned toward the stout. Both were excellent. I’m very much looking forward to more examples of this delectable brew trickling eastward.
There’s a bunch more beers that I tried and loved, but this post is getting a little long. If there’s a demand for more insight, let me know in comments.
‘We shamble through our day to day and never really live. I think that’s pretty scary.’ An exclusive (for now) interview with film maker Sam Platizky
If there were a zombie apocalypse, what would you do? What if you just happened to be a huge zombie movie fan, itching for the opportunity to prove your mettle under the most zombierific circumstances? My old Bayonne High School buddy, Sam Platizky, is the writer, producer, and star of Blaming George Romero, a feature length horror dramedy that will attempt to answer these questions and many more. I interviewed Sam during the first week of shooting.
Timmy: So give me the Readers’ Digest version of what Blaming George Romero is.
Sam: Story-wise, Blaming George Romero is a movie about four pop culture junkie friends who would prefer a zombie apocalypse to their present lives. So when it looks like there’s been a “zombacalypse,” if you will, they jump at the chance to do what it takes to survive, and on the way they learn that there’s more to living than just surviving
Timmy: We can talk a little more about the content and the zombie genre later, but I’m actually really interested in the process of film making. How are you getting this done?
Sam: I am getting this done because I must be one of the luckiest people on the planet. The camera, I bought, but everything else is coming from some fantastic people. Doug Youmans is our lighting guy, and he has a wealth of his own equipment that he is willing to share with us along with his knowledge and experience. Joey Mosca is our sound guy who came to us with his equipment (boom mic, recorder/mixer, lav mics, etc.) Without them, I would be lost, and the best thing is we all get along really well and we all share a passion for the project.
Timmy: Where did this idea come from?
Sam: Without getting too deep into the twists and turns of the movie, the idea came to me in two parts.
Timmy: No spoilers, please.
Sam: First, I love the zombie genre, but I was getting tired of movies where it seemed like the protagonist had no idea what a zombie even was. They would go through the movie with people dying and becoming zombies and it wouldn’t be until the end that they figured out what the deal was. To me, it seemed crazy. I mean, they must have at least heard of zombie movies, but no, people get bit and are turning into zombies in front of them and nothing. No recognition, no survival instinct. So i wanted to create a zombie movie where the protagonists knew what they were doing. Enter the pop culture junkies
Timmy: That’s funny. As a viewer, you can suspend your disbelief to accept the walking dead, but some chump that doesn’t realize he’s in the middle of a zombie infestation? It takes you right out of the narrative!
Sam: Yeah. I guess, on some level, I have just taken the whole notion of zombies for granted. It’s like, “Oh, ok, zombies. Let’s go,” and my characters express that same sentiment, to extremes at times.
The second reason I wrote it was, I had just written a massive WWII horror screenplay that I would never have the budget to shoot, and I wanted to write something reasonable.
Timmy: Wolfenstein 3D: The Motion Picture?
Sam: Haha. Not quite. Its called Langsomer Tod. I’d love to get back to it some day, but right now, it isn’t feasible.
Also, i should mention that I’d just found this website, Indiegogo, for crowd funding, and figured i could potentially use it to help fund the project. Once that was in the equation, the project came much closer to reality.
Timmy: Yeah, I was going to ask about that. I’m on Facebook, and I can’t scroll two inches without seeing the Blaming George Romero logo. How successful have you been in leveraging social media to get this project going?
Sam: Well, “successful” can have a lot of meanings. We haven’t reached our funding goal yet, but I’d say we have been very successful. The word is out there, and we’ve raised one-third of our goal amount. People seem to be interested,
Sam: And i thank you for that, sir. We also have our website www.BlameRomero.com, currently being worked on by Brad Resnick and a mutual friend of ours, Jason Goldstein.
Timmy: What do you want to be the end result for this film? Will you be entering into festivals?
Sam: Yessir, that is the goal. Once we are out of post production, we’ll be entering film festivals and trying our luck there. From there it’s a matter of seeing what happens, you know? Whether people take to it, if someone wants to distribute it, or even if it just gets our names out there. In a lot of ways just finishing this project will have been a huge undertaking.
It’s funny, going back to the idea of social networking. We had people interested while we were in pre-production, but I think there may have been the notion in the backs of some peoples’ minds that this wouldn’t get done, but once the first production stills were out after the first day of filming, it was like people realized that this was happening.
Timmy: Sometimes all it takes is a slick-looking headshot.
Timmy: Why a zombie movie? You said you love the genre, but is there anything else to it, in terms of telling the type of story you wanted to tell?
Sam: That is an interesting question. I think its part of the zeitgeist right now. There’ve always been movies, but now there are books like Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, The Zombie Survival Guide, World War Z. I actually heard a high school had Pride & Prejudice & Zombies on their curriculum! I think it’s definitely something that’s very prevalent right now.
As for why, beyond the fact that its entertaining, I think there is an aspect of zombies that is terrifying, more so than most movie monsters.
Timmy: We could all be zombies, if it came down to it.
Sam: Yeah, and to an extent, we are. Not to get too philosophical, but beyond the basic zombies craving flesh, they’re like a dark mirror to us.
Timmy: Get as philosophical as you want, pal.
Sam: They wander aimlessly, all they do is consume, they aren’t really alive, and I think to some extent, there is a part of that in many people. We shamble through our day to day and never really live. I think that’s pretty scary.
Timmy: Movie zombies, especially in George Romero flicks, are notorious for representing some sort of dark aspect of our own nature.
Sam: Yeah, Romero was great with that. He wanted to tell a story about racism, or society, and he did it with zombies. So much subtext. It’s like a spoonful of sugar: you get the message, but here, have some zombies to go with it. Which is one of the reasons i loved P & P & Z. It’s a classic piece of literature, not changed at all, except there are zombies in it. What a way to get people interested in reading classics.
Timmy: I actually didn’t mind the regular Pride and Prejudice. But I’m an English major. It’s my job to not mind it.
Sam: Haha. I hear you, but for those people who mind it just because they’re intimidated by the year it was written, it’s ingenious.
Timmy: My understanding is that there aren’t any zombies in the movie at all?
Sam: I will say this, without spoiling too much, there are zombies in the movie in one form or the other. However, a good deal of the conflict is trying to figure out whether or not there is in fact a zombacalypse going on.
Timmy: And you’re calling it a dramedy? Or am i making that up?
Sam: Ha, no, you aren’t making it up. I hate labels, sometimes, especially for this movie, but there are aspects of drama and comedy in it. For that matter there are some horror aspects as well. But yeah, dramedy, because some parts I think are downright hilarious, while others are really deep, and (I hope) will make people think.
Timmy: A lot of zombie movies are like that.
Sam: Yeah, I think they are unique in that respect. It’s another reason to utilize the zombie.
Timmy: Tell me about the cast. I know these folks, but my readers don’t.
Sam: They are a great bunch of people. The four leads are myself, Robert Lise, Loarina Gonzalez, and Dan Gregory. I have worked with Bobby for about 11 years now. He’s one of my closest and most trusted acting friends. Within the last two years, he actually started gravitating towards directing, so while i wrote the part of “Bobby” for him, when it came time to find a director, Bobby became that as well.
Loarina is his girlfriend, who we both met acting in college. She is really terrific. Very subtle in her delivery, but very powerful too. And Dan only recently started acting, although I’ve known him since high school. After working with him on a film last year, I wanted to write him a role in this movie.
The rest of the cast is rounded out by my brother, Isaac, who is an amazing actor; some of my former teachers from college, Anderson Johnson and Adria Firestone; and some other wonderful actors I have had the pleasure of working with before: Chris Lucas, Christina Garced, Ramy Shedid, John Trigonis, Eva Visco, and a few more. I just filmed a scene with Christina yesterday, and watched it tonight. Every take was hilarious. I love working with these people, and I love watching the results.
Timmy: I’m a writer, and I’m constantly entrusting my stuff to editors who are responsible for the finished product. How much easier does it make your job when your director is a trusted friend
Sam: It’s very relaxing. I can take a step back and just trust him, you know? And at the same time, if we disagree, we can go from screaming at each other over the smallest thing to actually getting a better product because of the argument. And no hard feelings, because we’ve just been doing this for so long.
Timmy: It’s a beautiful thing.
Sam: It really is.
Timmy: Day of the Dead is my favorite of George Romero’s movies. Explain to me why I’m not crazy.
Sam: Haha. I cannot do that. Night of the Living Dead is my favorite. Followed closely by Dawn. Day is good, but it always struck me as the black sheep of the Dead family. I think the setting being so drastic is what does it for me. Why is it your favorite?
Timmy: That drastic-ness, I think, is the key. It explores a logical extreme of what would happen if the zombies inherited the earth. It’s more a big picture movie than Night or Dawn.
Sam: Hmmm. I see where you’re at with that. I just don’t agree. However, if you want logical extremes and big pictures, I can’t recommend Max Brooks’s World War Z enough.
Timmy: What’s that about?
Sam: It is about a guy interviewing survivors in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse, and their stories from all over the world and all different people at various stages of the apocalypse. It’s so well thought out.
Timmy: I’m putting it on the list. You’re in the middle of filming. How is it going?
Sam: We are two days in. It’s going really well. We all work well together. The first two days were fairly simple shoots, though. We have some more difficult ones up ahead.
Timmy: Where are you shooting?
Sam: Bayonne, NJ mostly, but also Blairstown, Stewartsville, Weehawken, Jersey City. All in NJ.
Timmy: Blairstown. Home of Camp Crystal Lake, no?
Sam: You are absolutely correct! I went there with some friends a year ago, and we found this great area. We’re going to use it next week.
Timmy: If I was going to film a horror movie, it’s one of the first places I’d think of.
It might be time to wrap up. I’m giving you free rein for plugs, promotions, boastful claims, acknowledgments, whatever you want.
Sam: I have to say I couldn’t do this without a terrific cast and crew, our amazing supporters who have donated to www.indiegogo.com/Blame_Romero, and even our fans on Facebook and Twitter who help spread the word. They are the best of the best. I hope people stay with us throughout the production because it’s going to be one hell of a ride. And I want to thank you, for the opportunity to spread the word to more people.
Timmy: We Bayonnaise have to stick together.
Sam: Hell yeah we do!
I completely forgot that yesterday was Bloomsday, which is like, the Super Bowl for English majors. Bloomsday being June 16, the date that James Joyce’s masterpiece Ulysses takes place. In commemoration, here’s a story I wrote a few years ago about a Bloomsday celebration in Boston. Enjoy!
Ah, it seems like only yesterday that I was forgetting that my website was one year old. But we can’t keep the retrospective going forever, so tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward, upward not forward, and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom.
But before we do, I’d like to hear from you guys and gals, my precious, treasured, dearest readers. What have you liked about the blog in the past year? What are you favorite features? What do you is just terribly sucky? What sort of subjects do you want to see more of? What do you think I should get rid of? Let me know! I’m here to put out the best product for you all, so let her rip in comments.
Before I go, listen to this feature’s namesake, set to some Marissa Cooper clips from the OC (for whatever reason.)
Dangerous, Dirty, and Unfun knows which side its bread is buttered on. You’re not here for the trenchant political commentary. You’re not here for the feeble displays of passive aggression. You’re here for Gossip Girl.
Regular readers of DD&U know that Gossip Girl is my favorite show on TV right now. It’s not even a contest. It’s the reason I’m able to make it through my weeks in the fall and winter. And considering how fortuitous the circumstances that led to me watching the show were, I thank my lucky stars that I have Gossip Girl in my life in the first place.
See, I knew that Gossip Girl was coming. I knew that it was from the creator of the OC. I knew there was an OC-shaped hole in my heart, but I had no idea if Gossip Girl would be able to fill it. I didn’t really have feelings about the show one way or the other.
My friend Meg and I were already fans of America’s Next Top Model, which was on Wednesdays on the CW. Even though I was committed to the show, I was sort of put off by Cycle 8, which saw Jaslene, who I thought looked like a garment bag filled with bones, win the contest. But like I said, I was committed, and when I commit to a show, I commit. I watched Cavemen, people. Every episode.
Cycle 9 premiered on September 19, 2007. I should have known the night was going my way, because I was introduced to my precious love, Heather, the prettiest girl to ever appear on ANTM, whose eventual ouster from that show led me to initiate a lifelong boycott. Because it might be true that when I watch a show, I commit to that show. But don’t ever cross me, or else I’ll move on to a show that rewards my loyalty more.
So that season premiere of ANTM ends, and we start seeing promos for this new show, Gossip Girl. I was at Meg’s place, and we were both a half a bottle of Chuck deep at that point, as was our weekly tradition. We decided, what the hell, let’s check this out.
The rest is history.
I wasn’t the only one watching Gossip Girl. The show immediately captivated Jessica Pressler and Chris Rovzar, writers for New York magazine’s Daily Intelligencer blog. Pressler and Rovzar are famous for their weekly Gossip Girl reality index, but I’d like to direct your attention to a New York mag cover story they wrote called “The Genius of Gossip Girl.” Read it, and you’ll begin to understand why I love this show so damn much. (I also stole the “Greatest Show of Our Time” moniker from them. It’s an homage!)
I’m a regular reader of the Daily Intel GG reality indices, in which the authors go through every episode, adding and subtracting points from based on how authentically “New York” it is. A clever gimmick! I wish I had the cleverness or the capability to go through with something like that myself. But alas, I had to steal a bit from Bill Simmons (who stole it from, I dunno, Norm Chad?), and do the whole running diary thing. I think this is the first one, although I forget if I did one on the old .mac site. Irregardless, it’s become one of my favorite parts of DD&U. Forces me to watch the show more critically, come up with the wittiest (one-way) repartee I can. I’ll be honest with you, precious readers: the diaries aren’t a service to you. They’re a service to Gossip Girl watchers. If my dear readers and Gossip Girl watchers are one and the same, then great! If not, they should be! Just start watching, and you can stop skipping the weekly diaries.
For those of you interested in a little inside baseball w/r/t your favorite blog, Gossip Girl is responsible for the most random hits to Dangerous, Dirty, and Unfun. Since July 15, 2009, when I started tracking statistics using Google Analytics, a search for “omgbse”, or some iteration thereof, has been responsible for at least 186 unique visits to dangerousdirtyunfun.com. (I’m not counting the sundry versions of a search for “dangerous dirty unfun,” because those are, obviously, obvious.) “Omgbse,” of course, is something one of Blair’s minions uttered in a Season 3 episode, which is translated “Oh my god, best sleepover ever.” (You’ll also recall the clarifying update post I wrote.) Thing is, it’s the middle of June, and the top search term sending people to Dangerous, Dirty, and Unfun is STILL “omgbse.” So either there are a ton of people still watching old Gossip Girl eps and wondering what the hell is going on, or there are a ton of vegans who are just shocked at the idea of bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Either way, if you’re shopping for your favorite blogger, this wouldn’t be a bad choice.
Here’s a few links to some of my favorite posts, which, if I actually wrote about them individually, would incite an insurgency of readers furious that I don’t actually produce original content any more. We don’t want that. Try to enjoy yourself.
# Looking back, I’m a little surprised that I actually had so much to say about that stupid “wedding procession to the Chris Brown song” video. I just got into a flow, and it all came out. Sometimes I wish I had more critical-thinking type things to say about Internet memes, since I’m probably more qualified to write about those than anything else. Maybe I’ll try harder in DD&U.com’s second year, eh?
# I’ve had occasion to write a lot of posts titled “Sad news,” unfortunately. It’s morbid to say that I have a favorite, but I liked re-reading this Les Paul remembrance, if only because he was such an amazing guy. Go down and turn the video on, then read.
# A Zelda Warriors post, within a Zelda Warriors post? I’ve just blown my own mind. I got a bunch of sports-related stuff off my chest here. As I write, I’m actually having a conversation about how much I enjoy watching professional athletes show each other up, so don’t think I don’t live what I write.
# Finally, I know it was only a few weeks ago, but in case you’ve forgotten: Paste.
Where did Music Is My Imaginary Friend come from? I really wish there were a captivating story behind this one, treasured readers, but the fact is that posting a music video at the end of the day is a common convention on a lot of political blogs I read, and I straight up stole it.
The first-ever MIMIF, from back in my Blogspot days, was a live rendition of This Providence’s “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing.” I since learned to try to steer away from live videos, just because they often lean in the crummy direction, and if I’m trying to share some of my favorite tuneskis, I want them to sound good!
As soon as I made the switch to DD&U.com, I wasted no time posting a Cure video. I can’t really tell you what put me in a particularly emo mood that day, unfortunately. If only there were some venue for me to have written that down somewhere . . .
As for the title, what do you think? That there’s a not lame story behind it? Ha! Remember that commercial, from when the iTouch first came out? I was looking for a song about music to name my little feature after at the time, and this delightful song by Cansei de Ser Sexy fell right into my lap. What luck!
Anyway, in the grand tradition of MIMIF, take a listen to “Music Is My Hot Hot Sex.”
It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.
When I think about it consciously, I try not to get too sentimental about baseball. I like baseball, and I think it’s fun, and it brings a lot of joy to my life (both from cheering for the Yankees, and passionately loathing the teams I hate, which is pretty much every team that isn’t the Yankees). At the end of the day, though, baseball is just a game, and its consequences for our daily lives really are minimal.
And yet we all know what I just wrote is bullshit when the rubber hits the road. Baseball fans can’t help but get sentimental about the game. It draws us in, it incites us to irrational devotion, and, as former commissioner Bart Giamatti says above, it always breaks our hearts.
That heartbreak takes different forms, and I hope you’ll indulge a Yankees fan mustering the audacity to describe his personal experience. There’s heartbreak caused by moments, like watching an improbable Luis Gonzalez bloop touch the grass in 2001. There’s heartbreak caused by a series of moments, like watching the Yankees blow a three-game lead in the ALCS against the hated Red Socks in 2004. There’s heartbreak that only manifests itself in retrospect, like looking back on the career of a Yankee great like Don Mattingly and shaking your head at his conspicuous lack of a World Series title.
If you’re like me, you’re feeling something entirely different, and maybe entirely unfamiliar, today, as you forget all your impotent rage over Armando Galarraga’s almost but not quite perfect game, and it starts to sink in that Ken Griffey, Jr., just retired.
You can go elsewhere to read about the Kid’s signature smile or signature stroke, which turned “the sweetest swing in baseball” from a banal observation to a Homeric epitaph. Nor will I spend much time addressing Griffey’s pundit-bestowed role as a beacon of goodness and fair play in an era tainted by the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs. Nor will I lament what could have been, had Griffey not spend so many games during the prime of his career on the disabled list. His career is what it is: excellent, irregardless of our dashed hopes and expectations. Instead, I’ll just tell you why the day that Ken Griffey, Jr., retired, even though we all knew it would come at some point, was so sad: because when I came to love the game of baseball, he was there.
Like a lot of young boys, my dad taught me how to throw and catch, and I spent my summer weekends on a Little League field. But my archetypal, Sandlot-esque pastoral experiences with the game happened in the Lincoln School parking lot in Cranford, New Jersey, playing with tennis balls and metal bats with my brother and cousins. Everybody got to pick the player they wanted to be. I was a second baseman when I played organized ball, so I would be Ryne Sandberg. My cousin Chris called Mike Piazza, and his brother Matt called Frank Thomas. And my older brother, who always let me tag along when he and his friends would play wiffle ball in front of the warehouse across the street, or hit cherry pits over the fence in his buddy’s yard around the corner, and who I looked up to since I was first able to look up, would be Ken Griffey, Jr. Every time.
Sandberg is gone. Piazza is gone. Thomas is gone. And now Griffey, the greatest of them all, the guy that history will redeem as the best player of a generation, is gone. It’s enough to break your heart.
This is the way the game was played in our youth, and in our fathers’ youth, and even back then—back in the country days—there must have been the same feeling that time could be stopped. Since baseball time is measured only in outs, all you have to do is succeed utterly; keep hitting, keep the rally alive, and you have defeated time. You remain forever young.
While the invoice from my hosting company should have been ample reminder, I completely forgot that May 29 was the one-year anniversary of dangerousdirtyunfun.com. What a horrible blogger I am. Where’s the romance gone? Sure, at the start, there were rose petals leading from the door down the hallway and right to my laptop. Pretty soon, though, the posts got less frequent, the writing got a little skimpier, until finally I’m forgetting our anniversary. I’m sorry, dangersoudirtyunfun.com! Let me make it up to you with a special Dangerous, Dirty, and Unfun Event.
In the coming days and weeks (because let’s be honest, precious readers, DD&U doesn’t do week-long events), I’ll be going through the past year’s worth of posts, picking out some of my favorites, providing some commentary, basically playing around in the archives. I’ll do my best to provide some fresh content so this isn’t some exercise in blatant narcissism. But then again, you people will read anything I post, right? Right?
Anyway, here’s the oldest post I can possibly point to: the first one, from May 29, 2009! It’s extra cute, because I talk about all this crazy customization I planned to do on the site, and reference all of these old details that are long defunct. Ah, capricious youth. The most substantive bit here is the origin of your favorite blog’s title, which isn’t really that substantive, but hey! Cut me some slack, it was my first post!
Way back when I was a junior in college, I and a group of dear friends took a road trip out to sunny South Bend, Indiana, to watch the mighty Eagles of Boston College vanquish their bitter rivals, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. On the way home, two of our group attained other means of transport home, so it was just Michelle, whose car we were in, Katie, and myself splitting driving duties. I remember being behind the wheel and blazing through Indiana in a pelting rain storm. I don’t recall how long it took us to get back to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but I do remember driving through the night, and trying to get some shut-eye in the backseat, which wasn’t necessarily easy.
So there we were, on the Massachusetts Turnpike, 15 or 20 minutes from home, going through a tollbooth. Michelle was driving, Katie was in the passenger seat, and I was in a half-catatonic state in the back. Michelle called our attention to an advertisement on the divider between toll booths. I think it was for Boston’s public parks. Anyway, it hyped up Boston’s playgrounds as “Safe, Clean, and Fun!” This wasn’t inherently hilarious. But then Michelle said “Of course they’re safe, clean, and fun. What are they supposed to say? Dangerous, dirty, and unfun?” This wasn’t inherently hilarious, either, but for whatever reason, be it the sleep deprivation, or maybe the residue of the copious amounts of fermented spirits I had imbibed hours before, I laughed harder than I ever did in my entire life. All the way home, I couldn’t stop laughing, gasping for breath, clutching the seat in front of me, wheezing “Dangerous, dirty, and unfun! Ha!” After that, the term became something we brought up in conversation, and it also became the title of the memorial mixtape of the trip that Michelle made for me.
So that’s it. I just thought it was a fun term. Is there any inherent meaning or application to the blog? I don’t know. You tell me.
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