Friday, July 31, 2009

Gadgets for your Workout Routine...

Along with stairs, there are other things I use to vary my workout routines.

The first is this jump rope from This is the best made and the most versatile rope I've ever used. You can adjust the length, adjust the weights that slide right into each handle(or use it with no weights) and you can change the rope itself from the regular plastic bead covered nylon to the wire rope for more intense speed workouts. The handles also have a nice grippy, ergonomic shape, making it very comfortable to use.

I would not recommend any other rope.

Next we have some products from Nike Sparq Training. This is called the Carlisle Speed Box, and it is great for working on foot speed as highlighted by the Youtube video below-

The Speed Hurdles are essential for developing explosive leg speed...

...and the Speed Ladder for both leg and foot speed.

Power Bands help develop side-to-side speed, important if you play basketball

Resistance Parachute for improving sprint speed...

...and that's it for now. My aim is to help anyone who is looking to get into shape and would like to engage in activities that are a bit different than what you would find at your local gym. Also, what is great about these workout routines is that you don't need to be a member of a gym to get the full benefits. All you really need is some open space away from vehicular and pedestrian traffic-an urban workout, if you will. An empty schoolyard or a running track will do.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I don't take steroids...

I DO...

Eleven flights of stairs, eleven steps each flight, and the gradient is tremendous. By the time you've reached the fifth flight, your thighs are burning and you're left gasping for air. These stairs are an absolute killer, and there is nothing like it.

I happen to think this particular workout has a lot of potential-there are so many different routines you can do, it's just a matter of motivation and creativity. When you start you don't have to go all the way to the top for every rep. You must build up slowly to avoid injury. Running stairs gives you a combination lung/leg muscle burn not found doing flat surface sprints or logging big miles on a track.

You can also vary the routines by using "HeavyHands" hand weights. The weights can be interchanged depending on your workout and level of fitness. This is excellent for sprints or vertical leap workouts where you jump 2 or three steps at a time focusing on explosive power. If you can't find a set of stairs this steep where you live, you can utilize hallway steps or outdoor bleachers.

In a few days I'll be highlighting other gadgets to use for your workout routines. Variety is the key to avoid getting burned out and/or bored, plus its' good to mix things up just for the hell of it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Film Recommendations of the Week...

This is a new segment of my blog, where as the title suggests I will nominate every week two films from various genres that I believe are thought-provoking and worthy of consideration. Tune in every Sunday night for continuing installments in the series.

UMBERTO D. (1952)

This film belongs in the vanguard of post war Italian neo-realism, which dealt with the cruelties of life in an unflinching and unsympathetic light. Here is a synopsis from the Criterion Collection website-

"Shot on location with a cast of nonprofessional actors, Vittorio De Sica’s neo-realist masterpiece follows Umberto D., an elderly pensioner, as he struggles to make ends meet during Italy’s postwar economic boom. Alone except for his dog, Flike, Umberto strives to maintain his dignity while trying to survive in a city where traditional human kindness seems to have lost out to the forces of modernization. Umberto’s simple quest to fulfill the most fundamental human needs—food, shelter, companionship—is one of the most heartbreaking stories ever filmed and an essential classic of world cinema."

Along with the heart-wrenching relationship of Umberto and his dog Flike, there is the story of the young lady mentioned in my very first blog posting, the incredibly beautiful Maria Pia Casilio-

She plays the harried servant of the landlady, who is looking to kick the old pensioner out of his room to transform the space into a parlor. The young lady tries her hardest to be a comfort to the old man, while her own situation remains precarious-unable to return home, facing employment termination and shunned by her lover, who seems unwilling or incapable of facing his own responsibilities.

Death of a Cyclist (1955)

This film takes the viewer into the claustrophobic and inbred world of Spains' ruling class during the era of Fransisco Franco and remains to this day a shocking indictment on the vacuous morals of the elites. We are privy to their petty, selfish personal ambitions, intrigues and dishonesty. A great film. Here again is the synopsis from the Criterion Collection website-

"Upper-class geometry professor Juan and his wealthy, married mistress, Maria José, driving back from a late-night rendezvous, accidentally hit a cyclist, and run. The resulting, exquisitely shot tale of guilt, infidelity, and blackmail reveals the wide gap between the rich and the poor in Spain, and surveys the corrupt ethics of a society seduced by decadence. Juan Antonio Bardem’s charged melodrama Death of a Cyclist (Muerte de un ciclista) was a direct attack on 1950s Spanish society under Franco’s rule. Though it was affected by the dictates of censorship, its sting could never be dulled."

Director Juan Antonio Bardem is the uncle of award-winning actor Javier Bardem whose films include Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona", The Coen Brother's "No Country for Old Men" and the amazing spanish film "The Sea Inside".

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tómalo, Cabrón!!!


Today Alberto Contador stood on the top step of the Tour de France podium for the second time in his illustrious career. At the age of 26, he has accomplished a feat that has eluded the giants of the sport-he won all three grand tours(France, Italy and Spain) in the span of only 18 months.

No doubt this would of been his third Tour win had his team been allowed to participate last year, but he made the best of the exclusion by winning the other two grand tours with panache and style.

But this is not just a matter of celebrating the great Spaniard's victory so much as it highlights the obvious personal and professional shortcomings of one "Juan Pelota", aka Lance Armstrong.

Armstrong comes equipped with an army of crushingly dim-witted and jingoistic American fans who have gravitated towards his story like maggots to roadkill and hold him up on a pedestal that rivals Gandhi.

The Armstrong cult is rabid, and voraciously chomp down the rancid chum thrown out by his propaganda machine as the gospel truth. Lance leads them to the Kool-Aid and they slurp up in mighty, heaping gulps all the bullshit that has become a staple of his media-contrived persona.

He lied about his testing program with Dr. Caitlin. He lied about the support role he was willing to play on the team, talking up his possibilities deep into the third and final week of the race, still harboring ambitions for the top spot when the yellow jersey was already on Contador's back with team protocol clearly dictating that he had to work for the leader.

He whined about Contador not following team orders as if Alberto was supposed to lay down, play dead and acquiesce to his ambitions of winning an eighth Tour. Even the television commentators jumped on the bandwagon, admonishing Contador for daring to drop a teammate of his who could not keep up on a mountain stage. This is the first time since I've been following the sport that I've heard anyone say the team and race leader had responsibilities to the riders who are paid to help HIM win the race. But no matter. The road dictated who was stronger, and with quiet dignity Contador went about the job of staking claim to the leadership of the race.

Armstrong was an absolutely disgraceful teammate. He disregarded the blind and unflinching loyalty that is due the race leader and disrespected Contador with thinly veiled, passive-aggressive remarks in TV interviews and on his Twitter page. All the while heaping phony, disingenuous praise that clearly resembled hypocritical bitchiness.

But Armstrong was unable to ride his own race because he simply was not strong enough. Yet the fanboys demanded miracles. They wanted to party like it was 1999, the year of his first win-you know, the one where a few years later lab technicians re-tested samples of all the top-ten riders and could not find one clean sample out of the whole bunch, including those given by Lance himself?

Bob Roll, the VS channel cycling commentator(who sharply resembles the disgusted, constipated visage of a shaved gerbil prior to insertion into Richard Gere's rear end)continued with the man-crush and slated Armstrong to win the last time trial, disregarding all common sense and the fact that he clearly was not the rider he once was. He came in 16th place that day. And still he would not concede defeat.

Well, that is all over now. Armstrong is off to form his own team with a manager willing to put all his eggs into the basket of a rider who is past his sell-by date. Next year he will be 39 and Contador 27, heading into his peak years as a rider while Armstrong has 2 years left tops. The years he has left are no longer at the top level of competition. But the fanboys declare that for Lance all things impossible are mere obstacles that us mere mortals clearly do not understand.

This is going to be the scene on the last day of the Tour for the foreseeable future-

You can hate all you want, Lance-it's not going to change reality...

And this is why-the photo below shows Contador and Andy Schleck coming in together on the Mont Ventoux stage the day before the Tour ended. In the background, on the right in the blue and white uniform is Mr. Livestrong himself with his younger competition ahead of him. There is no way next year that this picture somehow reverses itself next year, when he'll be racing in the Tour a couple of months shy of his 39th birthday.

For the sheer lack of class Armstrong has displayed towards his teammate all year, from patronizingly assessing that Contador has "a lot to learn" when he lost the Paris-Nice stage race earlier in March, to disputing team leadership almost until the very last day of the Tour, to the verbal attacks and criticism in the media over how Contador was racing against team orders, to not attending the Astana team party meant to honor Contador on his triumph, to holding the cancer community hostage with his "comback" message that was 100% about his ego and not about them, and for disrupting a team that was doing fine without him to the point where it will be disbanded and left in tatters, Lance Armstrong receives the prestigious Busting Chops first annual "Asshole of the Year" award in sports, narrowly beating out Manny Ramirez which in and of itself is quite a feat.

Congratulations, Lance-you worked hard for this award. You need to leave the racing to the younger generation. They can "Livestrong" without you.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I Got Your Asterisk, Right Here...

I have a message for the sportswriters covering Major League Baseball who are outraged over the alleged "Steroids Era"-take that asterisk and shove it up your ass.

Listening to twats like Jay Mariotti and my all-time favorite assclown Rick Reilly of ESPN rant about there needing to be a new wing of the Hall of Fame for suspected and known steroid abusers is like listening to prostitutes complain about their pimps when standing on the same street corner during downtime.

These idiots love their asterisks. They are obsessed with them and want to put them beside any and every baseball record they feel is "tainted". They have no idea when the so-called "Steroid Era" began(Brian Downing, anyone?) or even if it is indeed truly over, which it is not. Manny Ramirez aside, if these sportswriters would stop spewing disingenuous, self-righteous vomit and started doing some actual investigative reporting they would realize how easy it is to beat a urine test for performance enhancing drugs, especially when the testers tell you way in advance when it will take place.

What is most tiresome is listening to these morons fetishizing baseball's "hallowed" past. We've had fierce segregation, amphetamines, which were a clubhouse staple ingested like candy by the likes of Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, spitballs, illegal wagering and the throwing of games by players, the list goes on. Steroids is just a natural extension of human nature-the drive and desire to cheat. Baseball is not a sanctuary from the ills that plague society, but if you were to listen to the outrage vehemently excreted from the sphincters of these jag-offs you'd think the steroid issue is comparable in level of moral outrage as someone operating a crackhouse out of the Vatican.

Bud Selig is a stumbling, bumbling, empty-headed cretin, but this issue is not solely his fault. He owes his position more to institutionalized corporate inbreeding and his talents at schmoozing the owners than to any ability he may or may not possess as an administrator.

He is the perfect foil for the owners, whose only interest was filling their stadiums after the players' strike of 1994 drove fans away from the game in complete and utter disgust. So while everyone was marveling at the incredible home run chase of 1998 driven by these two freaks-

-the sportswriters of America went along for the ride. They never dared question what was so obviously in front of their faces for fear of losing access to the clubhouses and players they were paid to cover. They lost their objectivity and whored their journalistic integrity for a chance to purchase a ticket to the carnival. The freaks were not only on the baseball field, they were also in the TV booth and in the press box.

So now they want to hold summit meetings on the steroid era to declare who was and who was not cheating. They cannot be selective with their condemnation after the fact when there is scant little proof over who was and was not on the juice. There are some obvious suspects, but what about all the others, the ones who have escaped scrutiny because Barry Bonds was made the exclusive poster boy for steroids in baseball?

It is too late for these numbskulls to feign mock disapproval at what went on right in front of their faces, they who spent most of the last 10-15 years suffering from "Head-In-Ass" disease when it came to the topic of steroids in baseball-

Those members of the media are just as complicit as the owners who ignored the problem within their own clubhouses and the commissioner whose only master is not the integrity of the game but the sports' financial bottom line.

Let us not forget that despite all the outrage over the effects steroids have had on the game, Bud Selig got a raise for presiding over this era. That tells you all you need to know about what the powers that be think about this issue.

These sportswriters can put an asterisk right next to my balls, and they are welcome to build an extra wing in the Baseball Hall of Fame to house them in a glass case once I've been inducted.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Babe of the Week for July 24, 2009 is...

Adrianne Palicki!!!!!!!!!!!

This beautiful young lady starred in the recently canceled TV series "Friday Night Lights". This was one of the best programs on TV, and the fact that it was canceled is not a reflection on the quality of the storylines or the acting, both of which are top-notch. I am a big fan of the show, but especially of Adrianne. Tall, beautiful and a very good actress-she is definitely worthy of "Babe of the Week" Status!!!!!!!!!

"Friday Night Lights" covers many aspects of the upside-down world of high school football in Texas from the coach and his family, the boosters(Buddy Garrity has to be one of the best all-time characters on any TV show) to a few of the players and the issues they face as they make the transition from high school to college.

Anyone who is a fan of quality television shows(as they really are far and few between) should check this series out. It is highly recommended. But the lovely Adrianne Palicki, man does she look mahvelous!!!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Beatles Remastered...Release Date 9/09/09...

On September 9th of this year, The Beatles will be releasing digitally remastered versions of their complete catalog. For audiophiles this is a breakthrough, as previous releases have fallen woefully short on sound quality. But that's not all...

A short film will be featured on the each of the remastered albums(thirteen in total). Each film is narrated by the Beatles and Sir George Martin and illustrates how that particular album was created.

There will be separate mono and stereo versions available as separate CD's or as a box set in their original UK release format. Here is a quote from the Rolling Stone article:

A crew of engineers at London’s Abbey Road Studios have spent four years working on the remasters using new technology and vintage equipment, the press release says, in an effort to preserve “the authenticity and integrity of the original analogue recordings” and ensure “the highest fidelity the catalog has seen since its original release.”

This is great news. The meticulousness of this project will ensure that the quality of these recordings will be first rate. If you are an audiophile and a Beatles fan you will be excited, as I am. Now, when will Jimmy Page do the same with the Led Zeppelin catalogue?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Get used to it, big boy...

The Lance Armstrong Era is officially over. It has been since he stepped off in July of 2005 with the last of his seven consecutive Tour de France victories. In a compelling speech delivered from the the top step of the podium he chastised us, the skeptical viewing public, for not believing what we were seeing for those last seven years.

We were remonstrated for daring to question the myth, the tightly woven inspirational tale of his comeback from testicular cancer all the way to record holder for most overall Tour victories with 7, shattering the record shared by the giants of the sport-they, Miguel Induran, Jaques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and the greatest cyclist that ever lived-Eddy Mercxx, all left behind with 5 each. This is the miracle Armstrong wants us all to believe but fails to mention he owes his success more to the genius of Dr. Michele Ferarri than to hard work, determination and talent.

Here is a quote from his farewell speech-

Podium farewell speech, Tour de France, July 24, 2005

"But finally the last thing I’ll say to the people who don’t believe in cycling, the cynics and the skeptics. I'm sorry for you. I’m sorry that you can’t dream big. I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles. But this is one hell of a race. This is a great sporting event and you should stand around and believe it. You should believe in these athletes, and you should believe in these people. I'll be a fan of the Tour de France for as long as I live. And there are no secrets - this is a hard sporting event and hard work wins it."

Dr. Ferarri is a mysterious, powerful figure in pro cycling, one arm of the "UnHoly Trinity" of infamous Italian doctors/trainers ("preparatori" in Italian, meaning one who helps to "prepare") along with Dr. Cechinni and the Godfather himself Dr. Conconi sitting at the head of the table. Armstrong had a "non-compete" clause with Ferarri during his run of Tour wins, which meant the good doctor was not allowed to counsel or train any other cyclist competing against him at the Tour de France. Armstrong's exclusive involvement with Ferarri, one of the popes of modern-day doping in pro cycling, assured his success at the one and only race guaranteed to bring him the type of wealth and recognition beyond the grasp of any other pro cyclist who ever lived.

Yes, there were racers throughout cycling history with more distinguished and diverse palmeres. But Armstrong, with his singular laser-like focus, became the Gordon Gekko of the cycling world. He eschewed the Spring Classics, the other two grand tours of Italy and Spain and whatever happened after that last week of July. For him and his rabid fans, the cycling calendar began and ended within the three week span of the Tour de France. Any race leading up to the Tour was seen as preparation/training, and any race after it was...well quite frankly it wasn't.

Funny enough, his two companions on the podium that day in 2005, second place Ivan Basso of Italy and third place Jan Ulrich of Germany went on to cement their own infamous legacies with their involvement in doping scandals. Ulrich, deciding he'd had enough, retired before the hammer fell on his head while Basso took his 2-year ban like a man after lying through his teeth and getting caught.

Yet there is Armstrong, telling us we are too cynical to believe in miracles, especially his. For those of you who don't know about doctors like Ferarri, the only thing you need to know is these guys get paid a king's ransom for one thing and one thing only-to set up a doping programs that will:

A) Provide maximum efficiency for a rider's target races throughout the year, and most importantly...

B) Keep the rider in question from tripping up the doping tests, thus risking a two-year ban for a first offense.

This is what this man Ferarri has dedicated his life to, he and many other nefarious figures that operate outside the confines of sporting law. This is the man Armstrong had paid to make him rich and famous, the most recognizable cyclist on the planet.

Yet at the same time he was admonishing us, he had already left the wife of his three children. The man who made such a commotion over the importance of family left his behind to strut around with b-list has-been rock star Sheryl Crowe. Never in the history of the Tour has a rider paraded his girlfriend around like this guy did, only to unceremoniously dump her and then beg the public to respect his privacy during this difficult time.

Much more dignified was Miguel Indurains' wife, who always avoided the media at the Tour out of respect to the work her husband was engaged in, while Crowe never once turned down an interview or an opportunity to get face time in a sport she knew nothing about.

So after 4 years Armstrong comes back to try to dislodge the young Spaniard Alberto Contador from a team in which leadership should of unquestioningly gone to him and him only. The sheer hubris of the guy to try to take something that did not belong to him, while every day he would make thinly veiled comments about his own ambitions...

Well that is now officially over. Contador took off on an attack in the mountains last Sunday that Armstrong could not respond to and even though he is holding second place he no longer has the form to cut the mustard as top dog.

So get used to seeing this, Lance...

and this...

Lance, if your monumental ego won't allow you to do the right thing and help the leader of the Tour all the way to Paris, do us all a favor and just get the fuck out of his way. You had your time. Alberto Contador is younger and stronger than you are. Deal with it and move on with your life.

Isn't there some anorexic b-list Hollywood celubu-whore you could be banging instead of making a fool of yourself like this?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Babe of the Week for July 17, 2009 is...

Federal U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Sonia Maria Sotomayor!!!

Berzin, pero why? Here's why-she is going to be confirmed as the 111th United States Supreme Court Justice. Her confirmation hearings began last week and unless videotape evidence of her "making it rain" in a strip club suddenly surfaces, she is a shoe-in.

She is the first latina and only the third female to serve on the court. Maybe someone can do a video of her life and sell it out on the streets-you think it will sell as well as the Alpo and Richard Porter Story? Not in the Bronx!!! LOL!!!

*(For those of you who don't know, Alpo and Richard Porter were two notorious drug dealers from the 1980's that young men from the Bronx still speak of to this day in hushed reverence-go figure.)

Denizens of the Boogie Down, feel free to scrap your "Free Larry Davis" t-shirts circa 1986-a new hero has emerged!!!

Check out her resume-

Princeton University(Summa Cum Laude)

Yale Law School

Assistant District Attorney for 5 years in NYC

Boards of Directors-Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund

Board of Directors-State of New York Mortgage Agency

Board of Directors-New York City Campaign Finance Board

Nominated-U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by President George H. W. Bush in 1991.

Nomination confirmed in 1992.

Congratulations, Judge Sotomayor!!! You have made your mark!!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Babe of the Week for July 10, 2009 is...

Kristen Stewart!!!!

Congrats, mami!! Tu si esta buena coño!!! I don't know what she does or how she does it(rumor has it she's an actress, but I'm not sure), but "Babe of the Week" status doesn't hinge on actual talents or accomplishments. As long as the babe in question loooks mahvelous, dahling she is worthy of consideration. And she does loook mahvelous!!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Robert S. McNamara, dead at the age of 93...

If you don't know who this man is and the impact he had on national and foreign affairs from World War II to the Vietnam War, I don't know what to tell you. You seriously need to educate yourself. McNamara passed away yesterday, June 6th at his home in Washington in his sleep. Here is a write-up the New York Times did on his life and the controversy that swirled around him literally until the day he died.

If you want an unflinchingly look into his life and work(from his involvement with the firebombing of Japanese cities during WWII, the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War) feel free to check out Errol Morris's 2003 documentary "The Fog of War-Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara.”

I'm not interested in arguing politics with anyone, this is just a suggestion to educate yourself on US political science, and foreign affairs. When writing the history of the US(especially the critical moments of the mid-to latter half of the 20th century), this man cannot be denied his place at the head of the table. He is that important.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Babe of the Week for July 5, 2009 is...

I promise to keep this updated every Friday...this week it slipped my mind.


As far as I'm concerned, she is the quintessential latina beauty. Lovely olive complexion, sultry eyes and a smile that can send a nuclear reactor into meltdown mode. I'm not sure about her unfortunate movie choices, because I feel she can do better than the stereotypical tough latina/sexpot roles she usually takes on(the ultimate rock bottom had to be her onscreen/off-screen romance with Vin Diesel) but does it matter? As the Billy Crystals' character Fernando would say, "It's better to look good than to feel good and you Michelle, you look mahvelous!!! Absolutely Mahvelous, Darling!!! Si Señor!!!

I actually knew a chica who looked just like Michelle, unfortunately she was the craziest young lady I've ever met in my life. But my goodness was she fine...

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Monsters We Create, We Deserve...

What is the difference between Bernard Madoff and Manny Ramirez? They are cheaters on opposite sides of the spectrum in terms of importance. One man dedicated his life's work to enriching himself, his family and close friends/associates while stealing billions of dollars from unwitting investors, leaving many penniless, their lives ruined beyond repair.

As a psychopath, Madoff will never show the amount of remorse commiserate with his crimes. How could he? The scale, breadth and depth are beyond what we are capable of grasping. One thing we are pretty bad at is empathy, and the bigger the catastrophe the less we care. That is human nature.

Ramirez, on the other hand, committed no such crime against his fellow citizens. All he did was test positive, but for what? The only thing we know for certain is that his testosterone/epitestosterone levels were 4 to 10 times higher than normal, which suggests some pharmaceutical hank-panky was going on.

The details don't matter. What matters is that during the first couple of weeks of his suspension, he was on pace to get the most votes for the 2009 All-Star game. Mannywood, the section in Dodger Stadium dedicated to him in right field, has reopened and will go back to selling fake Manny dread-style wigs and overpriced Ramirez replica jerseys. This section has been renamed to celebrate all things Manny and sell a product-the comic book character created in Boston that everyone refers to as "MANNY BEING MANNY"...

This "MANNY BEING MANNY" persona has been labeled an "idiot savant", a care-free, charismatic play-dough character come to life whose only concern is hitting a baseball and occasionally catching one if one is hit his way. And if he fumbles a routine fly ball, well that's part of his shtick isn't it? Any defensive miscues will be forgiven with a mighty swing of the bat.

Going into the Green Monster for a bathroom break during a game?

Playing a fly ball like one of the Keystone Cops?

Irrational demands to be traded?

Announcing to the media after a playoff game that if they don't win, "tomorrow is another day"?

That's just Manny Being Manny. It's his world, and we're just watching him live in it as he bemusingly wonders why people don't have anything better to do with their time.

But somewhere along the line things changed. Ramirez, the happy-go-lucky Dominican schmoo with the Hall of Fame swing, turned into an asshole of unprecedented proportions. He wouldn't run out routine ground balls. He flung the Red Sox traveling secretary to the floor(a man in his 60's, mind you) because he couldn't come up with the number of tickets Ramirez requested so his people could attend a game. He faked injuries and would forget which leg to limp off of. Manager Terry Francona was not allowed to say anything to this preening prima donna, so he did the only thing he could do-he bit his tongue and pretended the problem did not exist to the point where he was suffering from massive ulcers that went unreported in the press.

Lord only knows what other stunts Ramirez was pulling that got him removed from Boston, all because they would not discuss picking up his contract option for the forthcoming year. But those stories may never be revealed due to the "sanctity of the clubhouse" mantra that baseball players stake their very lives on. And now he becomes LA's headache.

But is it really a headache having an unrepentant cheater to cheer for when it is obvious that neither he nor his fans really care? Does it matter that he has defrauded the very game that made him rich beyond his wildest dreams without a hint of remorse?

Au Contraire. It wasn't the game that made him rich, it was we the baseball fans. And with the colossal sense of entitlement we bestowed upon him, he knows that regardless of how he behaves he still gets this... long as he keeps doing this...

In his latest press conference, Ramirez obnoxiously smirked at reporters, mocking his fans and anyone who loves the game of baseball by refusing to answer questions about his drug use, all the while smugly smacking his lips with every sip of water loud enough to be picked up by the microphone he derisively sat away from. He left over 7 million dollars go down the drain and came back snickering about the suspension like it was no big deal. Because in Mannywood, it's not.

He will continue to reap the rewards bestowed upon him by a morally vacuous, hypocritical, idol-worshiping society that sought to "support" Ramirez through this very trying time as if he were somehow the victim in all this. We will continue to manufacture kings out of court jesters once Manny is gone from the public eye. We will continue to forgive him for doing the very things we would claim as moral outrages if they were perpetrated by say, a neighbor or a best friend.

In the end, Ramirez and Madoff have learned the same lesson-that nothing you do to achieve fame and wealth can really be taken away because they know we wish we could be them. We'd sell our souls to the Devil to live their lifestyle for one day. They are morally repugnant human beings, no doubt-but it is we who are worse for granting them immunity from ever having to develop a conscious by forgiving their sins as long as they gave us a glimpse into a lifestyle of celebrity, hubris and excess that we continue to salivate over ever since Robin Leach brought us the show "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous".

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Streetball Legends Pt. 2...

Karlton Hines was a legendary streetball player form the Melrose projects in the South Bronx. This story is personal for me, because I played with this cat once at the courts right by Yankee Stadium when I was quite young. This is one of those days that I remember like it was yesterday, and it wasn't because I was star-struck because at the time I had no idea who he was.

That particular day I had called next on the court but there weren't any guys around to get a starting 5, so I figured I'd wait until guys showed up or would choose 4 from the losing side that was already playing.

The courts were across the street from the stadium down a small, grassy hill separated by two fences. An SUV pulls up and out pops 4 guys. They don't bother taking the long way around, they just jump both fences directly onto the court. They weren't allowed to park in front of the stadium so the drove right up on the sidewalk and kept it moving.

Karlton comes over to me and asks me if I had next. I said yes.

Karlton-"You got five?"

Me-"Nah, I need four."

Karlton-"Ah-ight. Us five then..." as he points to his crew.

In streetball there is a method to getting and staying on the court. You can bring as many guys as you can round up and go together, guys who you know can play. If you're missing a player or two you go to the park and hopefully spot a cat who has a decent enough rep so that he'll fit in to what you're trying to do, which is stay out there as long as possible without losing, because most of the time if you lose your first game it's over-you might as well go home because there will be so many other guys who have next that it'll be hours until you can get back on the court.

So I was a bit leery about having to play with guys I've never seen before. Would they be any good, I wondered?

After that first game ended, it was out turn. This is when the afternoon turned surreal. Karlton takes the ball and says, "Hit or miss on me" and shoots the ball from a couple of feet inside the half-court marker, way to the right. The ball swishes through the hoop without touching iron.

I tried to play it off, but it dawned on me that this guy was something else. Exactly "how" something else I was about to learn. The competition was a bit tougher this time around for the winners of the previous game and as it proceeded, things got heated.

It was impossible not to notice the fluidity with which this guy dribbled the ball in between and around 2 and three defenders with the ease of someone performing tricks with a yo-yo. Every time he shot the ball it would arc perfectly towards the basket without fail. The guy had perfect form, a form I've never seen before, certainly not out here on these courts which were at the time famous for the level of competition city-wide.

Only places like Rucker Park in Harlem and 8th Street in the Village had a stronger reputation, but that's because those courts had organized tournaments where many pros and ex-pros came to give it to each other. We always had top high school talent from the local area coming to play at the stadium courts, ballers home for the summer from junior college and a few division-1 programs, and super-talented cats who for whatever reason(usually due to the lethal ghetto cocktail of bad grades and an even worse attitude) never made it out. But this guy was the best I've ever seen, and this is no exaggeration.

During a break in the action at halftime, Karlton came over to me and says, "Hey lefty, when you see me underneath(the rim) just throw it up. I'll get it". I thought, "Yeah, whatever". When the game resumed I purposely looked for him and threw him a few alley-oops, which were terribly and hopelessly off-target, but it didn't matter. Hines just jumped and got it like he said he would. Didn't matter how bad the pass was, he out jumped everyone and either dunked it or caught it and, in traffic, would put it up against guys taller than he and lay it in off the backboard right in their faces.

I've played with plenty of talented ballers, but this guy left us all wondering the same thing-"What is this guy doing here? Shouldn't he be at a big-time college or the NBA?" He was head and shoulders above even the best that I've ever played with in the streets of NYC...

I found out all about him shortly before he was murdered. After not graduating from high school(he dropped out with 4 months left of his senior year and turned his back on an athletic scholarship waiting for him at Syracuse University) and spending some years as the leader of a drug gang, he supposedly was trying to get back on track to play in the CBA with an eye towards catching on with an NBA team. That dream died in a hail of bullets courtesy of "Pistol" Pete Rollack, the leader of the SMM Crew(Sex Money Murder) from the Soundview projects.

One of the reasons why I bring this up is not to glorify a guy who wasted his talent because he preferred the life of a street hustler. Very few people get to see something like this up close and personal, a guy so talented that he seemed like he was from another world. Despite the fierce pride we all felt as ballplayers, no one from the losing teams we played that afternoon really took it too hard, because they knew they had gotten hit by a category 5 hurricane.

A hurricane that unfortunately left this earth way too soon.

Here's to you, Karlton-the baddest motherfucker I've ever seen play ball in my life.

Here's the video-

Streetball Legends Pt. 1...

Many big-time ballers from the streets of NYC never make it to college or the NBA, but their reputations live on. Case in point, Richie Adams, a.k.a. "The Animal" who lived in 3050 Park Avenue(the particular building in question has been known for years as "Vietnam" for the constantly violent ruckuses that are a daily part of life in a typical South Bronx housing project), the same building where former middle and super middleweight boxer Iran "The Blade" Barkley lived.

The first and only time I saw Rich was during a snowstorm one night in the winter of 1995. I was helping an older friend dig his truck out of the snow on 156th street and Concourse Village West when this really tall brother comes walking up the hill sporting the typical ghetto winter uniform-a goose-down jacket with fur-lined hood and brand new Timberland boots. My friend gives him a shout out and asks when he's going to play ball again. Rich turns and says. "I don't know, I'm still waiting for that call, baby!!!"

I asked who that was. My friend replies, "You're too young to know, but that dude is Richie Adams, The Animal. He played at UNLV and was drafted by an NBA team. Word has it that the day he was drafted he was arrested on Fordham Road for stealing a car and never went to the league". (He actually did show up for an NBA tryout but got cut.)

I asked around and the story was confirmed by a few people who were old enough in the early 80's to remember watching this guy play in streetball tournaments all over the Bronx. This guy WAS an animal, but he wasn't very bright and had drug and alcohol abuse problems that lead to his inevitable downfall.

Months later as spring came around I vividly recall this incredibly voluptuous puerto-rican girl walking across the Grand Concourse heading downtown. This young lady stopped traffic she was so fine. A friend of mine turned towards me and said, "Can you believe that girl's only 14 years old? And she's a drug dealer over in Vietnam".

I didn't believe it. No way that's true. Well, turns out it WAS true. I found out when I saw her picture in the New York Daily News later that fall, a grainy, poorly developed facial photo of a young latina who was killed in one of the buildings of the Andrew Jackson projects.

Turns out Richie Adams had murdered her over a money-related dispute. The story goes that he owed her money for drugs, hadn't paid his debt and was after her fiending for more drugs on consignment. There was another story that he was in love with her and she told him she didn't want to hook up with a washed-up crackhead. Whatever the truth was, the argument turned violent and he stomped her to death.

I'm not trying to make excuses for this guy, but from all accounts he had a weak will, always followed the wrong crowd and had a severe learning disability that went undiagnosed. Mix that up with an acute drug/alcohol problem, there is no amount of talent in the world that will save you from yourself.

If I could field a basketball team just from my neighborhood of guys like this, I wouldn't even have to coach them. I would just throw the ball out and let them tear everyone they play to shreds.

The Orlando Magic...

Courtney Lee, an up and coming guard with a decent upside, Rafer Alston, a veteran point guard who filled in admirably chemistry-wise in the absence of Jameer Nelson and 6-10 point forward Hedo Turkoglu who is a a double threat on offense(a nightmare to guard because of his size, shooting ability, playmaking abilities) are gone from the Orlando Magic. The first two via the Vince Carter trade and Hedo will leave as a free agent.

They have been ostensibly replaced by the venerable Vince Carter, who at 32 is an overpriced addition to the Magic and on his last legs. Why do I say this? Vince Carter's game revolved around his athleticism. I say that in the past tense because he can no longer rely on his quickness and leaping ability to dominate his opponents or get his shot off. I've seen him in person playing in Madison Square Garden, and all he has left is a 3-point shot, which is what the Magic had with Turkoglu, only two years younger, 4 inches taller and with arguably better offensive skills.

Their weak point isn't Turkoglu but Rashard Lewis, who at 6-10 is about as one-dimensional as they come. He is limited in what he brings to the court offensively, cannot play defense or rebound and was exposed during the Finals as a guy who shrinks under pressure.

The Orlando Magic have eliminated themselves from championship consideration because of these stupid moves. Not that it would of mattered, thanks to coach Stan Van Gundy(a.k.a. Ron Jeremy without the sword).

This guy can find more ways to lose than any coach I've ever seen.

Case in point-in the Magic's overtime loss to the Lakers during the Finals, when they were leading deep into the fourth quarter, Van Gundy made two stupid moves-benching Rafer Alston for the whole quarter and into overtime in place of a monumentally rusty Jameer Nelson, and not attacking the Lakers' big men, who were all in big time foul trouble.

As a point guard who can slash to the basket, Alston was key at this point. And where was he? On the bench. And where was Jameer Nelson? Watching Derek Fisher hit the game-winning 3-pointer right in his face.

Game over, series over. And to think that with a better coach the Magic at this point could of been up 3-1 in the series...