Reporting, Recording and Relaying - But Always Telling It As I See It

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Kick Them Out!

Lenore Skenazy…might be crazy. She may, however, really be unto something. Lenore proposed that this past Saturday, parents should take their kids to the park – and leave them. Unfiltered opinion would quickly cry “ARREST THIS LOON!” If you can get past media hype and message board paranoids, she has an excellent point. Basically, she contends that kids are 1) cooped up too much in the house, and 2) guarded over by their parents, rendering them unable to sort out the world on their own. Her premise, unlike the accusations cast her way, is not to drop your kids at the park and head out for a relaxing spa weekend. Rather, it is to take them to the park and get out of their way. Let them play, meet friends, settle disputes and goof around.

When I was my kid’s age, I had mastered the 16B bus. Talking it many, many days into Pittsburgh to see a movie, stop at the arcade or go to Three Rivers Stadium to see a Pirates game. (My buddy Mark and I would walk real slow past the porno shops in town…trying to steal a glance at the magazine covers.) We didn’t live in a plan, so going to a friend’s house meant hotting the streets…sometimes more than a mile away. Amazingly, we survived. We learned to find our way, avoid trouble and had adventures every time.

A couple of years ago, my kids and some friends wanted to walk to the local convenience store; which meant cutting through a few fields and walking down a fairly busy road. Of course there was some apprehension on my part but I looked at it like this. Letting them go did two things. First, it established trust between us; that they would go to the store, not act like idiots and come home without incident. Two, they learned to watch out for themselves and each other and basically figure things out (like not getting lost in the woods and how to outrun the mean neighbor who hates when they cut through his field…afraid they are going to trample the waste high weeds. I’m not a proponent of trespassing; I am a proponent of pissing people off who are mean to kids.)

Lenore may be considered a lunatic by some, but it is my feeling the people who would label her as such are the same parents who bitch to the coach that their kids don’t get enough playing time, believe their kids always tell the truth and think a bad grade is the result of poor teaching. In fact, I’d send my kids outside right now, but they just got done spanking Mt. Lebanon in lacrosse…so I am going to join them on the couch to watch some TV.

(As usual, there is always an equal and opposite reaction to things…check out this miscreant who left his kid at a restaurant to, of all things, go to a Pirates game!)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What Kind Of Pro Athlete Does This? (I name names!)

Ryan Boyle, professional lacrosse player and a principal in Trilogy Lacrosse, is a menace and a threat to professional athletes everywhere. Someone in our lacrosse association had the gall to turn him loose on our children last night. In doing so he completely obliterated, in a few short hours, everything my boys have come to learn about pro athletes.

For example; he strode into practice, fresh from Manhattan, and spent an hour and a half lecturing and drilling the boys on the finer points of the game. Then, he split them up into smaller groups so he could; get this, work with them on a more individual basis! The real topper came after practice though, when he joined the 6th graders at the high school field to watch the varsity lacrosse game. Believe it or not, he spent the entire game surrounded by these kids…talking to them! He told them such crazy things as “find someone you can look up to!” I had to rub my eyes because I couldn’t believe what I saw next from this miscreant. He whipped out a Sharpie and started to sign things; shoes, sticks, jerseys…he signed everything!

He couldn’t just leave when the game was over…NOOOO. He had the audacity to tell the kids, “come out to my car, I have a bunch of posters I can sign for you.” What!? He marches about a dozen kids out to his car, whips out a box of posters and signs one for everyone…until no one is left! Then, he gave a few to our coordinator for “the program!” He shakes everyone’s hand and says, “Have a good night.”

What athlete does this sort of thing? What pro-player has the time between abusing women, smoking dope, shooting themselves and travelling with a posse to spend a couple hours with their fans…kids no less! Ryan Boyle has a long way to go to become the total jerk most athletes are.

(You can't tell from the picture, but Ryan is seated in the middle of this madness, surrounded by his new fans.  There is a game going on the background; I am pretty sure he saw zero minutes of it.)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Gray Man

I actually saw a gray guy today. Not dressed in gray…gray. I was cutting through Market Square which in the midst of a huge construction project that will surely amount to very little if the current track record of this city has anything to say about it. He wore a scowl…which I guess I would too.

He was such an odd shade that I wasn’t even sure of his race. Was he a black guy with an awful skin condition or a white guy with one mucked up tan? He looked like something you would paint…or Picasso would paint. I will say this; he was uniformly gray…not blotchy or anything. He was just a nice shade of gray; if such a thing can be said about a person. It looked like someone applied a nice, even coat of Krylon to him.

Then I started thinking, “Is he the undead? A zombie?” I have read about zombies in Haiti, and let me tell you there is some weird shit happening in the hill country down there. He was that spooky. To further add to my paranoia I started to wonder if anyone else saw him. Was he visible only to me? Was it a ghostly gray spirit that was sending me a signal to dial back my internet “research” I do when everyone goes to sleep?

I wish I could say I turned around and he dissipated into the surrounding ether as he looked over his shoulder and cracked a crooked smile in my direction. I can’t…I was looking to catch a ride back to my office.

(Lest anyone think I am mean spirited and think all I do is make fun of people – which may be true – let me say that YOU would have noticed too. I am quite sure more than a few people are telling this same story tonight; unless, he was only visible to me. In that case I am fucked!)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

USA vs. Russia 1980, Seneca Valley vs. PYLAX 2010

Herb Brooks would have said before the boy’s lacrosse game today, “If we play PYLAX ten times they might beat us nine. But not today. “ About a month ago, in the sleet and wind we travelled to Fox Chapel Middle School, the apparent training ground for the team known as Pittsburgh Youth Lacrosse (PYLAX). PYLAX is a well coached, fast, fundamentally sound group of athletes who on that day pasted our team 11-2. We were on our heels all day…pass, pass, score. It was brutal. The ride home across the PA Turnpike produced one excuse after another. The solution was just this simple, that PYLAX squad was some wicked good players.

My best hope today and the hope of many parents was that we would play hard and not be embarrassed. We didn’t take into account the fact that at twelve years old, boys have long memories, and were not about to be hounded again. On the field yesterday, after their thrashing of Mars, they were all talking about PYLAX. They were pissed.

Not long after the opening face-off, PYLAX came down and scored. A sinking feeling crept across the stands. PYLAX, undefeated, seemed on the brink of taking this one to the bank. Our team felt otherwise. From that point forward, the game turned. The boys played the most physical, inspired lacrosse of the season. What they lacked in finesse, they made up for with big hits, stifling defense and grinding, hard work. They ran down PYLAX players like lions on the Serengeti.

In the fourth quarter, PYLAX went ahead by one, 5-4. SV battled back to tie the game, followed shortly by the end of regulation. A four minute, sudden death overtime saw PYLAX gain control of the face off and move into our end. A blocked shot ended in a scrum in front of our net. Our mid-fielder scooped the ball, dashed down field and passed to another advancing mid-fielder who thundered a perfect, bouncing shot passed the goaltender and into the net. Game over.

Our boys were beyond elated as they gang tackled the goal scorer and handed PYLAX its first defeat of the year. I would paraphrase another Herb Brooks line, “I am sick and tired of hearing about what a great team PYLAX is.” Actually, it could be summed up better by a member of the winning team, “Undefeated my butt!”

Friday, May 14, 2010

Stupid In HD - A Contest (with a prize!)

At Fortune’s Coffee today, I was chatting with the owner and my buddy…we will call him Mongoose. We were talking about my silly blog when I said, “It is amazing the stupid shit that goes on around you. I’m just a historian.”

Mongoose said, “But you see some particularly stupid stuff around here.”

“Yes, you do,” I said, “its like stupid in HD.”

So, without further ado…Contest Number 3! In as few or as many words as you would like…provide me, in the comment section below, an example of something really stupid you have seen someone do. I am not adverse to foul language or foul content…I am adverse to stories that involve me (though that won’t disqualify you.). A grand prize winner will be chosen at random and get something worth $10…not sure what yet…but that is sort of fun, right?

Don't forget your name!  I can't send anything to "anonymous"!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Woman Peculier

I tried, but failed again to mind my own business last night while I was sitting at Houlihan’s nursing a beer waiting for lacrosse practice to be over. These two women of moderate looks and stature slide into the seats next to me and immediately begin perusing the glossy drink menu. They ask the bartender about their signature “skinny” drinks. How fun would it have been if he said, “We have them, but they are reserved for skinny girls.” But he didn’t, of course, so they settled on something like a purple-razz-mojito-tini. Fine by me, my Sam Adams Light was working…the grilled shrimp Azteca, not so much. (Somewhere in the near past, the suits at Houlihan’s decided they needed to upscale their menu, so they settled on trendy “small plates.” I can see the junior ad exec jumping up from his Power Point presentation now. “I’ve got it! Shrimp…stay with me…with some sort of a corn infusion…we’ll call it Shrimp Azteca!” With much drizzling of sauces and some roasted corn and cilantro you end up with…three shrimp on a corn husk.)

But let me get to the point. After the gals finished their delightfully pink-ish cocktails and some more deliberation over what type of flavored vodka they want in their next drink, they settle on the apple-choco-rita or something like that. And here is the difference between men and women; before anymore orders can be placed, there has to be a polite discussion about who is paying for what, accompanied by much flashing of credit cards. “Why don’t I pay for this round and you pay for the next round?” “Or, do you just want to pay separate?” “You pay for this round, I will leave the tip and pay for my own drink, plus tip for the next round if you pick up the tax.” It wasn’t quite like that, but damned close.

With guys, paying for drinks is a no-brainer, I have picked up many, many bar tabs and likewise have had thousands of rounds bought for me. With guys, there really is no difference between footing the bill for a twenty-five cent draft or a twenty-five dollar lap dance. The theory is quite simple, we are lazy fucks when it comes to keeping track of our money with our friends. I have never “split,” “divied-up,” or otherwise itemized anything with my friends. “You bought dinner? Drinks are on me.” “You need to go to the ATM, screw that bro, on me tonight. Get me next time.” Kind of like the cliché about horseshoes and hand grenades, you just have to be close.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

How To Be A Mom

Despite my efforts to the contrary, Bonnie has managed to shimmy and wedge the best of motherhood onto our two very fortunate sons. Because of her, their gruff, black and blue exteriors shield their hearts with the kindness and compassion only a mom can provide. Their gentleness of soul comes from her unfailingly kind words, not from my shortness of temper.

I know I would protect my kids, but this woman would slay a dragon for them. You certainly know the line, “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” Well, I would posit, “Hell hath no fury like Bonnie if you fuck with her kids.”

Being a dad, I feel like part of my job is to be somewhat of a menace to them. Unless someone is knocked unconscious, has an obvious broken bone or is bleeding to the point of needing medical care, I’m not too concerned with their well being. Many times when I talk to the boys, it starts with a command like a drill instructor at Parris Island. Bonnie starts her sentences to them with, “Honey,” and “Schnooky.” Being well-mannered, they listen to both of us; me to shut me up, her to please mom.

I will take some credit, because of me they are learning to cut the grass and understand the subtleties of a squeeze bunt. But I know full well their quiet, sympathetic nature, love for their family and respect for their friends comes squarely from the devotion and endless love they get from their mother.

Dylan and Chris would be far different without her…we all would be. She gives a lot, but she takes too. Mostly, she has taken two boys and is turning them into fine young men…and doing a far better job than I ever could.