Mustache Sighting – Oh When the Staches Go Marching In

This is real.

On President’s Day (this past Monday 2/20), The American Mustache Institute (this exists!) presented their plan to hold a Million Mustache March (in April 2012) to support the STACHE Act (Stimulus To Allow Critical Hair Expenses). The STACHE Act calls for a $250 annual tax refund for the care/upkeep of mustaches (on American upper lips).

The Mustache lobby claims that mustachioed Americans earn 4.3% more money (on average, per year) than their facial hair-less compatriots. They argue that government incentives backing facial hair growth would subsequently help the economy.

No idea about that argument, but I will continue to support stache and beard growth (I was raised by a dad with a BADASS mustache. So.. yeah.). Scruff supporter or not, you might find this video explaining the Mustache Movement amusing:

Subway Thoughts – Creative Madness

Weeeeee.

If you have been scooting around the NYC boroughs via subway, it is likely you’ve seen the “falling man” posters for the upcoming season of AMC’s Mad Men (COME BACK NOW, PLEASE). What has appeared even more recently are creative revisions to these posters (Don Draper approval pending), both in the stations and online. I love them in a makes-me-snicker/devilish-grin sort of way. At the very least, these revisions rate far better than torn-out eyes on movie posters (creepy as hell) or Sharpie-fitti’ed penises.

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Gridiron of Time.

The Super Bowl commercials maybe weren’t as funny as in years past, have been labeled underwhelming by some, and overtly political by others (Karl rove was “offended” by the Chrysler/Clint Eastwood “Halftime in America” spot… SIGH). But now that these spots are in full rotation, and I’ve gotten to see them over (and over) again (how bad are you starting to feel for tiny “Wego” having to lug all those Bud Lights in his mouth to lazy assholes at pool parties?), I have to say that the NFL’s Timeline spot featuring a visual evolution of football players through the years, running and leaping and smashing across a time-warped gridiron, is pretty damn cool.

Moneyball.

“It’s hard not to be romantic about baseball.”

A tear was dribbling down my cheek when Brad Pitt’s Billy Beane (General Manager of the Oakland Athletics) spoke this (DAMN good) line in the Oscar-nominated film, Moneyball. If the tear admission didn’t cover it, I couldn’t agree more with the sentiment.

Baseball, for those who have never felt any connection through playing or otherwise, is what I’m sometimes told is “incredibly boring”. I will not fight those who are of this camp; I pity them. I apologize if that sounds pretentious (I’m lying, I do not apologize), but not everyone is going to love baseball – it’s just that if you do, you get it. You get why this marathon of a sport plays on our collective flair for the dramatic, for rooting for the underdog, for wars waged between heroes and villains, for triumph of spirit or sheer talent, for comebacks, for getting to watch grace under pressure emerge in front of you. In each season, for each team, there are trends, streaks – and they read like very different chapters in a lengthy book.

As a lifelong sports fanatic and athlete, and almost-as-long romantic, Moneyball, for me, captured the intricacies of both. It brought to life the minutiae of baseball (statistics are an integral part of the story), provided characters whose lives revolve around the game, while still being identifiable humans outside of it, or at least adjacent to it. The film’s dynamo and star, Beane, searches for what it means to do anything meaningful. And your guts (and heart) get tied up in this mystifying journey with him, his team of castaways (specifically former catcher Scott Hatteberg, played by Chris Pratt) and assistant GM Peter Brand (Jonah Hill’s portrayal earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination) during the Oakland Athletics’ 2002 season, whether you know what happened or not.

Baseball lover or hater or indifferent football fan, watch this movie. And maybe find something to love. After all, how can you not be romantic about baseball?

Goodbye, Joe.

I have been struggling mightily as to what I want to say about Joe Paterno. He passed away due to complications from lung cancer one week ago (January 22, 2012).

Most people, I feel, are still chewing on the former coach’s role in the Jerry Sandusky horror story, the fact that Paterno didn’t go to the police when a confession of witnessing an act of child abuse was brought to his attention. I am still chewing on it myself. I am chewing on the fact that Mike McQueary, the aforementioned direct witness, did not call the police himself, passing the information to Paterno instead. I am chewing on the fact that had Paterno reported what McQueary told him to the (State College) police, Paterno would have been giving the police hearsay information. I am chewing on the fact that Paterno did report McQueary’s confession to Gary Schultz, the head of University Police, which has jurisdiction over all crimes committed on campus. I am chewing on the fact that when Schultz failed in his duty to investigate, Joe never followed up.

There are so many foggy, intertwined emotions swirling in my gut regarding Joe Paterno’s connection to his undoing as a coach. I’m not sure how long it will take for me to find a place to land, or if I ever will. But apart from these unresolved feelings, I do know that Paterno was a man who so deeply loved Penn State, and more importantly, the people who passed through it. He cared about people. He valued academics in a culture that quite often puts athletics first, and on a pedestal. He and Sue, his wife, donated over $4 million to the university, which included funding for the library on campus as well as for the erection of a non-denominational spiritual center. He was part of one of the first major college programs in the US to embrace black players, a program that fought for all of its players to be on the field in segregation-era games. He left this program with the number one academic ranking among the top 25 teams in the country in 2011, as graded by the New America Foundation (which also showed no achievement gap between black and white Penn State players – a rare feat in Division I-A football).

And he wanted all of that to be his legacy. Joe was not a hero, but Joe wasn’t a villain either. He was a human.

Goodbye, Joe.

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2011 : What I’ve learned (about life, love, loss, and living in a big city).

Another year has spun its way past, through, and around me. Despite the fact that over half a month has ticked away in the new year, I have in no way become used to writing “2012”. We’ll see how long that actually takes.

I started this rumination last year, and it helped bring a year’s worth of everything into something. For as much as I remember in this life (and I do admit an affinity for details), I struggle to place things on specific dates or within certain years. I cannot tell you how old kids are when they’re in third grade or what year in which I attended third grade. My brain just does not work that way. But sometimes it is prudent to remember what happened within a specified 365 days.

I started 2011 with a year and a half’s worth of living in New York City (‘s outer boroughs) tacked onto my experiential resume. The burgeoning, brisk early-year months of 2011 crackled with change. A new job sparkled with possibility and became reality, a Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl loss disheartened me (with still-bitter fans jeering my jersey-clad friends and I postgame), and a birthday trip to Fuerza Bruta (a show I recommend to anyone who has ever felt something/anything passionately) shone through the bluster.

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Winter melted away into the chirpy mildness of spring. I helped clean up a Harlem park for Hands On NY Day, and I learned that it feels empowering (and somewhat wrong to be so prideful) to know how to rake leaves more efficiently than your co-volunteers (thank you, Dad). I flew to Phoenix, AZ (for the first time) for a work trip and met cross-country coworkers, learning the difference in speed and general demeanor between those living in perma-sunshine and those of us who live here. Once situated back in New York, I attended emerging-artist art shows, explored the mysteries and idiosyncrasies of Bushwick, bonded with felines, and began rating the quality of nachos with coworkers as part of an appropriately-named social club. I learned that without completely paying attention, I was falling for a new city.

Half of those are mine. What.
Heart out of light, intended or not.

The temperature began to rise, and the sweaty summer was upon me once again. I grilled on my roof. I experienced a second season of summer softball (and we won a lot, which was refreshing), playing on fields hidden in pockets of green across the boroughs. Work took me to Las Vegas (FOR TEN DAYS) where Ellen DeGeneres hosted the show we were a part of and Taye Diggs (a performer in the show) physically bumped into me at the bar in our hotel. While I was away, New York was celebrating Gay Pride, and an even bigger rainbow-related news item broke – same-sex marriage was legalized in New York state. I learned how much pride I have in New York, how proud I am to be an official resident (even if it still feels like I’m cheating on Pennsylvania).

A summer meal with Lady Liberty on the horizon.

As summer began to slink away, I traveled briefly to a small section of North Carolina beach to spend time with my family.  I returned to the city to help produce several shoots that post-production magic would turn into a series of 9/11 Memorial PSAs featuring Robert De Niro. I celebrated a cherished personal milestone. I made my way back to leaf-laden State College (prior to everything Sandusky-related), drinking cider, eating tailgate-prepped breakfast sandwiches and drinking mimosas, connecting with friends in the place that bore our friendship. I flew into my hometown for Pie Night and remembered how much I love making my parents laugh over coffee in the morning, with glasses of wine in hand at night. I learned that fall is fleeting, that the things that warm you can slip away so easily.

The Memorial at night.

The days became darker, denser, but not altogether that much colder. I walked shelter dogs around McCarren Park on calm Sunday mornings. I traveled to Pittsburgh for Christmas, to a home I learned won’t be there for me to travel to much longer, absorbing the reality of closing that chapter of my life. I sought out live music, in Brooklyn, at bars, at bookstores. I took myself on dates to the movies. I learned that New York City does not hold your hand, but does not withhold its wonders either. You have to go out into it, and live and try and explore. It is up to you, what you get from New York.

City Hall Park.

On my journeys through the streets of neighborhoods I’d never been to, from conversations with strangers and friends over beers, over books, contemplations in my head over beers, over books, I learned that though life is adversity, love, in all its forms and above all else, is something I believe in. I learned that what I believe in, I fight for. No matter what.

Somewhere in Greenwich Village.

Standing in a bookstore near the dawning of 2012, I read a line that, upon its consumption, left me with a final lesson from 2011 – “Fling yourself into it headfirst. Everything can change, but only with abandon.”

Teach me something, 2012.

Subway Thoughts – The Writing on the Pole

I always look at the poles in subway stations. I’ve seen a few lines written, scratched or tagged on them that are so much more appealing to stare at than the skittering rats on the tracks below (gross). I can’t decide what I think this (see below) means to me, but I keep thinking about it.

14th St. F/M station.