Friday, June 20, 2008

Oh my freaking god.

Be warned, the following Jay-Z GIFs will make you laugh until you cry. Is this for a movie or something? Is he being a character? Or does he actually own these glasses? Does Hov REALLY roll deep with Ricky Gervais?

I could stare at the second one on a loop for the rest of my life. It could lull me to sleep at night, especially with the reflected lights making him look like he's wearing rhinestone fake eyelashes. He looks like he witnessed a murder and is trying to shake the gory memories from his mind.

(From, btw.)

UPDATE!!!! It turns out that Jay is actually NOT Mos Def in "A Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy"; he's merely rocking back and forth at a Coldplay concert. Because obviously, CLEARLY, that makes a ton of sense.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Why this draft was so dang important.

I should preface this entry by saying that the time between April 7th, 2008 and today, May 20th, 2008, has been very difficult for me. This is surely the norm for all fans of the Memphis Tigers, especially those of us who were born and bred to love them.

If there is one thing I have learned since I moved to Boston two and a half years ago, it is that it's not at all ridiculous to have your hometown sports teams be an integral part of your core identity. Here in Boston we've got a lot of affiliations to choose from. The Bruins suck these days but they've definitely got their obsessed fanatics, sitting on the Red Line during rush hour wearing team jerseys and cursing at the sports section of the Metro. There are the Pats fans, whose 18-1 pain I alternately mock for its snobbery and deeply empathize with in a way no other sports fan probably does. Then there are the Celtics, whose killer year has brought all sorts of weirdos out of the woodwork. I made the mistake of deciding to take a discount fabric shopping trip to Cambridge on Sunday. My transfer point is directly underneath the Garden, and for some reason I thought that game 7 was on Sunday night, not afternoon. So here I am, trying to transfer from the Green Line to the Orange Line on a packed ass train car, my arms filled with pastel tulle (I'm making tutus for toddler girls, don't ask), and it's about ten minutes before game time. I end up siting next to this really agitated and nervous Celtics fan with an awful case of halitosis who asks everyone on the train if they're going to the game like he is, then throws his hands in the air, exclaims that he is "wicked excited" and has waited his whole life for this, and starts screaming "GO CELTICS!!!" in the middle of the train car. Even though I was hiding beneath a mountain of puffy tulle I couldn't help but high five him, because he made my heart want to jump out of my chest. How he felt is a really recent, bittersweet sensation that I shared only a few weeks ago when my Tigers beat Texas to get to the Final Four: they had come so far, and, in my wildest, most out there dreams and idealistic possibilities, might maybe just go even further.

Most of all, here in Boston we have the Sox. The Sox are omnipresent everywhere, whether it's October or January, game day or no, sunshine or brutal New England snowstorm. You feel the Sox every place you go in Boston. Some days it's because you're stepping on the T and catch the tail end of an argument between members of the Red Sox Nation and some poor guy in a Yankees hat who had the misfortune of getting in the wrong train car. Some days it's because it's game day and you forgot to hold off on running that errand by Fenway. But mostly there's just this energy in the city. When the Sox are doing well, people are happy. When they're tanking, people want to crawl under a rock and die. The Red Sox are Boston, and Boston is the Red Sox. You cannot speak of one without speaking of the other. The true Boston experience is a cloth made from the fiber of both.

This year I had the pleasure of watching game 4 of the World Series with my roommate at Doyle's, an old school Irish pub in my neighborhood where JFK used to hang out. We made friends with all these random people; expensive whiskey was bought for us (I remember saying that one brand of $30-a-glass whiskey tasted like the Mid South Fair, because I tasted hints of cotton candy, sweat, and mosquito repellent; the drink buyer was duly unimpressed) from die-hard fans who were hoping to relive that one-time glory they'd experienced three years before. When the winning pitch was thrown and landed in Jason Varitek's mitt I got to see a type of chaos I'd never experienced before. People dropped their glasses, threw massive amounts of money onto the bar, made out in the corner. It was insanity, and it was magical.

Eventually my roommate and I drunkenly traipsed back down Washington Street to our apartment, watching cars drive by and honk, seeing Dominican kids being dragged out of their beds at one o'clock in the morning to stand on the corner and wave their Dominican flags in the air for Manny and Big Papi. It was a story that, even in my inebriated state, I stored in my long term memory to tell my future grandchildren. The entire experience was completely new to me, and even as a partial outsider it broke my heart a little.

As Tigers fans, this was supposed to be our year. We knew it all season long, but most of us didn't dare to say it out loud for fear of cursing ourselves- and now we're all pretty heartbroken. I talk to my mom about it; I talk to my dad. I talk to my best girlfriends back home, as well as my platonic Boston boyfriend who lives in Korea now but has become fiercely devoted to my Tigers because I spat devoted poetic verse about them constantly when we were roommates. Honestly, this loss has made me feel a little like I got dumped by someone who I thought I was going somewhere important with. I try to console myself, but nothing makes me feel better. The only thing that seems to help, for some reason, is Boston sports fans.

Sadly, Boston sports fans are accustomed to losing. The Patriots were one of the worst teams in the NFL until a few years ago, and now they're a dynasty (yeah they lost the Super Bowl, but they won quite a few before this one). The Celtics are on their way back up, after being up and down and up and down for so long. And then there are the faithful members of the Red Sox Nation, who sat through a championship drought from 1918 until 2004.

I think that is why the draft is kicking me so hard in the gut right now. Unlike the Pats and the Sox and the Celts and even the Bruins, the Grizzlies are not a part of Memphis's fabric. I've got their backs just because they're in Memphis and because they represent bigger possibilities for my hometown, but I have no real connection to them like I do with my Tigers. That is why the draft could have been, should have been so cosmic. It's not just about getting a stellar number one pick, i.e. Derrick Rose or Michael Beasley. It's about trying to transfer some of that Tigers magic to the Grizzlies, and giving them a valid, deep-rooted reason for being in Memphis at all. I really wanted to have a reason to genuinely love the Grizzlies, not just to exert a lot of energy trying to love them.

I dunno. Maybe I am feeling unusually down on Memphis these days, and I can't even fathom the whole of it all the way. All I know is that I am officially done with basketball, college and pro, for quite awhile after the draft picks are announced. 2008 has officially been the most painful sports year of my life.

(I say this now.)

In other news, I wrote the following post on my Myspace blog.

Monday, May 19, 2008


this was the final question, worth between 20 and -5 points based on your wager. I insisted on betting it all.

According to the Rock And Soul Museum, what international city is mentioned in the most songs ever? It's mentioned in over 800 songs, and the answer is not New York.

I immediately grabbed the paper, wrote down Memphis plus the most points we could possibly wager, threw the paper across the table, argued my answer with friends until the time was up (the Rock And Soul Museum is in Memphis; Memphis is mentioned in hundreds of blues songs, as it was the Mecca of the Mississippi Delta; Memphis is the central compass point of every musically important thing in pop cultural history), then put my face on the table and tried not to think about it.

But obviously I was right. How could it be anything else?

It is eternally weird that Memphis is so important to the rest of the world. I don't think I will ever fully understand the gravity of that, even though I was definitely raised to know it and be proud (see blog entry about the jukebox on my back porch).

But Memphis, I guess I just wanted you to know that I'm always thinking about you and representing you, and standing up and hollering and throwing my arms over my head like a fool when the trivia night DJ says your name out loud, and feeling like a traitorous bitch for not being there. I'll never be able to shake you off. And I'll be back forever someday. I can't imagine following a path that doesn't lead right back to you. Anything otherwise would be karmically fucked.

It hurts not to be there. Even worse, it hurts to think of the place that I love more than anywhere else and to feel like I'm not supposed to be there.

So maybe this explains my eternal torment a little, non-Memphians. Try to empathize, or something.

Never mind, then.

Fifth pick.

Kill me now.

Memphis is clearly on a hellmouth and our luck will never change.

I'm back.

I've been absent from the blog for awhile; I think I just needed a mental break from obsessing about writing about basketball after having my heart broken back in April.

With that, we've got 17 minutes until the lottery, so here are some quick thoughts before it all goes down.

*I don't wanna hear another word about how the Heat has more at stake than the Grizzlies. If the Grizz don't get a 1 or a 2, they might as well just pack up and ship out of town now. The Heat has Dwayne Wade. We've got... Rudy Gay?

*If the Grizz actually eschew their ill-fated luck and manage to draw the first pick but don't choose Derrick Rose, I am officially going to burn down Michael Heisley's house (Only kidding! Don't call the police on me, please!). If they can't realize the significance of this kid to the city then, unlike the Tigers, they officially have no connection to the fabric of Memphis and should just leave. If this happens, Memphians won't be merely ambivalent about the Grizzlies anymore; I truly believe that with a Beasley pick at number one, the city's only big time sports team will be actively disliked by much of the city. Selecting Rose is a way to sell tickets and to boost interest; more importantly perhaps, it's a way to help the city get past how the season ended for us. I understand how and why Michael Beasley is a technically better fit than Derrick is, but in this case the emotional/cultural impact is way more important.

I realize that my entire last bullet point was a total girl thing to say, but I do not care because it's the patent truth. I also realize that I shouldn't be wasting my time writing about this when the ping pong balls are still rolling around in the hopper. So with that, bring on that number one pick and bring on Derrick Rose.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Memphis, you HAVE to stop breaking my heart.


(Memphis, Tennessee) A public high school principal who posted the names of two boys on a list of students believed to be couples, revealing their relationship to their parents as well as other students and teachers, violated the students’ constitutional right to freedom of association, the American Civil Liberties Union charged Tuesday.

In a letter to school board officials in Memphis, the ACLU demanded that the school reprimand the principal and take steps to ensure such actions never happen again.

In September of 2007, the principal at Hollis F. Price Middle College High told teachers she wanted the names of all student couples, “hetero and homo,” because she wanted to monitor them personally to prevent students from engaging in public displays of affection.

The two students now represented by the ACLU, Andrew and Nicholas (who have asked that their last names not be revealed), were two A students who had been seeing each other for a short time and were attempting to keep their relationship quiet and private.

The principal heard about them through another student, then wrote their names on a list she posted next to her desk, in full view of anyone who entered her office.

One of the boys’ mothers personally witnessed the list when she met with the principal a few days later.

“I couldn’t believe it when I went to meet with the principal and that list was right there by her desk where anyone could see it,” said Andrea, Andrew’s mother.

“African American people face enough obstacles to succeeding in this world and I want my son to have every opportunity he’s worked so hard for. Our schools should be helping our children do well, not tearing them down for something like this.”

Although the boys had never been observed by any school staff engaging in any sort of display of affection, the principal called Nicholas’s mother Nichole.

According to Nichole, the principal said things like “Did you know your son is gay?” repeatedly and went on to say that she didn’t like gay people and wouldn’t tolerate homosexuality at her school.

Both students say they’ve had to deal with verbal harassment from both teachers and students since word got out around the school about their principal’s actions.

According to Nicholas, he also suffered another consequence of the principal’s discrimination. He had submitted extensive paperwork and several recommendations from teachers for a school trip to New Orleans to assist in rebuilding efforts.

Having a long history of community service, he was considered a shoo-in to be selected to go before the incident, but then a teacher told Nicholas some faculty were afraid he might “embarrass the school” or engage in “inappropriate behavior.”

A few days later, another student who hadn’t even applied to go on the trip was selected in his place.

“We never bothered anyone or did a single thing at school that broke any of the rules,” said Nicholas, a junior and honor student. “Every day I feel like they’re still punishing me, and I’m worried that this is going to hurt my chances to get into a good college.”

“The principal’s outing of these two students to their families, classmates, and teachers is unacceptable. Its only purpose was to intimidate not only these students but all gay students at Hollis Price,” said Hedy Weinberg, Executive Director at the ACLU of Tennessee.

“Educators should be focused on educating their students and not on harassing them because of their sexual orientation or the people with whom they associate.”

School officials have already confirmed the existence of the list to the ACLU in prior meetings held in an attempt to resolve the matter privately the union said.

In Tuesday’s letter to the Memphis City Schools Board of Commissioners, the ACLU points out that the principal ordered the boys not to even walk or study together at school.

“This is a public high school that runs on taxpayer dollars. As such, it is part of the government and must obey the Constitution in dealing with the students entrusted to its care each day,” said Bruce Kramer, a partner at Borod and Kramer in Memphis who also is working on the case.

“This school has no business singling these boys out and taking away educational opportunities against them simply because they were dating.”


It is important to note that the school where this took place, Hollis F. Price Middle College High, is a college preparatory high school on the campus of LeMoyne-Owen College, Memphis' only historically black institution of higher learning. This high school is for students who thrive in an accelerated learning environment, and it's a privilege to be accepted for enrollment. There aren't many other public school options for students from the inner city of Memphis who want to have a guided path to higher learning. Simply transferring to another school isn't a fair or valid option for either of these teens- not that they should have to do this, anyway.

While I am currently unsure of the local plan of action (if there is one), here is where to go to voice your opinions about this horrible incident.

The Principal is:
Daphne Beasley
(901) 435-1765

The school's address is:
Hollis F. Price Middle College High
807 Walker Avenue
Memphis, TN 38126

The Memphis City Schools Superintendent is:
Dan Ward
2597 Avery St., Room 214
Memphis, TN 38112
Phone: (901) 416-5300
Fax: (901) 416-5578

Memphis folks, please keep me abreast of the situation. This makes me totally sick.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

So, So Sad.

Seriously, what gives?

It's absolutely awful. It happened yesterday on the basketball court behind the field where we all play kickball every Sunday afternoon; it is certainly not the type of thing people in this part of JP are used to, as it's one of the "nice" (read- middle/upper middle class) areas of the neighborhood. I walked by the basketball court today on my way home from work and all these kids were sitting there yelling and moping and drinking and piling up empties in the spot where this kid was killed. They had spraypainted graffiti all over the court and on the backboards- two words in Spanish (a name?) and "BANG BANG". A bunch of people were sitting around filming and/or gawking at them, which I found to be tacky at best, and one lady had the audacity to look at me, roll her eyes, and mutter something under her breath about "those kids in gangs", as though I would return her remarks with a knowing nod or a smirk. I just shook my head at her and walked away. It was so disrespectful. Gang members or not- some sources are reporting that was a gang-related shooting- it doesn't make those kids' pain any less real or traumatic.

I admire all those kids for being able to unite and return to the spot where their friend was murdered, to reclaim their space. Let's certainly hope it doesn't lead to more violence. Those kids are certainly in my thoughts tonight and I wish I wasn't so broke, otherwise I'd drop off a case of Heinekens.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Coach Cal, CDR, and Antonio Anderson were in BOSTON TODAY!??!?!?

Who says you can’t go home again?

Former University of Massachusetts basketball coach John Calipari was back in the Bay State today with a pair of his Memphis Tigers basketball players — including Lynn native Antonio Anderson.

The former Lynn Tech standout played for Calipari in last week’s NCCA national basketball championship, which the Tigers lost in overtime to the Kansas Jayhawks.

Anderson visited all three Lynn high schools and City Hall with his roommate, Memphis star Chris Douglas-Roberts.

Calipari and the players also made a stop at the Statehouse, where the coach says he hasn’t been since he sought money for UMass.

Calipari coached the Minutemen from 1988-1996.

I am so freaking sad that I missed trying to find them at the State House today!!! What the eff, dude!!!

(Why in the world did they go to the State House?)

Tomorrow I have to go downtown to run some errands and you BEST BELIEVE I will be keepin' my eyes peeled for some extremely tall dudes with some very specific tats. Maybe Coach Cal will hit up a nice Italian spot in the North End.

Tyreke Evans

Tomorrow (today, really; it's 2 AM) at 3 PM Tyreke Evans (nice old school "Sesame Street" theme song sample in that link, btw) will announce his school of choice.

Sources are saying he's headed to Memphis. Columnists are saying he should pick Memphis. I've been trying to get my mind off of the hell of last Monday night by following these rumors all week, as well as the ones about Derrick Rose now officially heading out of Memphis and into the draft.

Tyreke Evans is no Derrick Rose- i.e. he's a shooting guard, not a point guard, and he doesn't have nearly the same hype that Derrick did at this time last year- but he won't be a bad replacement by any means. At this point it looks like it's gonna be us, Texas, or Villanova. At first people were saying he'd stay local and go to Villanova, because his brothers- i.e. the men who have shaped his career, much like Derrick Rose's brothers did- wanted him to stay local. Now it looks like they want him to get the hell outta Dodge.

So with Villanova seemingly out of the picture, that leaves Texas and Memphis. If you were Tyreke Evans, who would you pick? Texas, or the team that walloped them en route to within seconds of a championship title?

When the local press in Memphis and the national press are saying Tyreke is picking Memphis, it looks good. I am hella superstitious about counting my chickens when it comes to Memphis basketball- literally, EVERY TIME IN MY LIFE I've assumed they'd win a big game, they've lost it- but this looks good.

I, however, will not jinx my team and make any assumptions.

Maybe CDR will stay if he knows he's got good support in the back court. Here's hoping, anyway.

Either way, I'm throwing the hoodie back on right now.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

mi amor

Dolly was wrong. Love is not like a butterfly. Love is like dis.

Only safe for work if you have the sound off.



You know, I was seriously thinking about trying to see them play on tour this summer. I was going to call up my sister, see if she can leave the kid with my bro-in-law for an evening, and whisk her away for an experience we never got to live out as children- seeing New Kids On The Block in person. She'd probably say no anyway- she is a much more pragmatic, mature Donnie Wahlberg-type of a girl, while I was in love with doe-eyed Joey McIntyre- but it was going to be worth a try. Obviously seeing them now is not gonna be nearly as awesome as it would have been when I was nine, but I can't lie- I still get these weird, pre-pubescent fluttery feelings in my tummy when I see Joey Mac and his stupid hat with no top in their "Hangin' Tough" fake concert footage.

Either way, I felt like it was worth a shot... until I heard there was new material. And then I realized it would be a serious waste of a lot of money once I heard the first song. Why, for the love of God, are they in the studio making new songs? Here's a big, obvious hint, New Kids: nobody wants to hear the new songs. For that matter, we never even cared all that much about the songs themselves in the first place. It was all about the unbuttoned vests over t-shirts, the rat tails and the floppy haircuts, the baggy pleated pants, the muscles (or, in my favorite New Kid's case, the severe lack thereof), the frenetic dancing and the choreographed finger-pointing. It was about impressing into my long-term memory that Joey's favorite female singer is Anita Baker, and that his favorite beverage is water with a twist of lemon. Basically, it was all about obsessing on something seriously idealized and, honestly, fucking bizarre. While this is certainly a reunion I've eagerly anticipated throughout my adult life, this isn't a freaking Smiths reunion we're talking about here. Former Blockheads are not going to this show to see where Danny Wood is at artistically these days. We're going so we can start squealing like we're eleven year olds again and feel no shame about it. And, honestly, we're going so we can gawk a little.

Maybe I'll go to their Boston concert, but probably not. There's something to be said for seeing them perform in their hometown, but eh. I mean, eventually I'll stop into some store on Centre Street and run into Joey picking up a carton of milk like everyone else in JP has, and that will be enough for me. I'll be sorry that I'm wearing frumpy clothes and look like a hot mess, but I'll get to fulfill a childhood dream come true. For now I'll just comfort myself by remembering the time that I pushed a stroller past Joey's childhood home on Orchard Street, and a man standing outside who looked a hell of a lot like an elderly version of Joey Mac started singing a Frank Sinatra song to my todder friend and me. The first thing I thought was, "Hey, I remember, Frank Sinatra is Joey's favorite musician of all time."

"Secret Lives Of Women"

My roommate and I are both pretty obsessed with the WE tv show "Secret Lives Of Women". The title is pretty self-explanatory; each episode has a different theme, usually of a socially deviant nature; during the episode we meet some women who identify with its theme, and we get some insight into what their lives are like. Past episodes have included cutters/self-mutilators, women with obsessive-compulsive disorder, polygamists, sex workers, and lipstick lesbians. This weekend we watched a new episode with Sean called "Fetishes And Fantasies". One of the women featured on the show is Kailey, a woman who lives her private life as a two-year-old adult baby named Baby Ella.

As with most "Secret Lives Of Women" episodes, Kailey gives a spiel at the beginning about how she's normal by day, but lives her "secret life" by night. When Kailey is Baby Ella she wears footie pajamas, sucks on a pacifier, plays with her dollies, and has a daddy who feeds her peanut butter ice cream when she's good, but spanks her when she colors on the walls.

I'm very open-minded about fetishes that don't hurt people, no matter how out there they may be. I say, more power to those wacky adult babies. I wouldn't wanna sit around all day in a dirty diaper with a pacifier in my mouth, but if somebody else does- dude, totally go for it. That is not my problem with Kailey. What I find disturbing is that during the day, Kailey works at a day care center.

It's not that I think she's a pedophile; I highly doubt it in fact, because she's wrapped up in the mentality of BEING a baby, not sexually objectifying them. But if someone identifies with babies, are they the best people to care for them? She seems to have a pretty warped idea of what babies are like. Two-year-olds aren't even babies, really- they are toddlers, and they are some of the most complicated, stressed-out human beings in the world. They don't just get to lay around in their cribs all day drinking out of bottles, receiving nonstop positive attention and playing fun games. They are constantly struggling to verbalize their feelings and be understood by adults. They tire and become frustrated very, very easily. Toddlers are delicate, complex little humans.

I spend four to five days a week working with toddlers, and it's the most physically and mentally challenging job I've ever had. Even though I get to do fun things like have dance parties with the kiddos, take them to the zoo, and color pictures all day long, it's not a cakewalk by any means. Every toddler has a different vocabulary, and every toddler becomes frustrated by different things. Every toddler has a different standard of cleanliness, which means that I have to remember that while one child will happily bury her hands in a bowl of potato soup, another may have a freak out if his face gets dirty. Some toddlers are terrified of strangers. Some are afraid of climbing too high on the jungle gym at the playground, or of climbing the stairs without feeling my hand firmly clasping theirs. And while I'm focusing on all of this, never turning my back for a second, trying to teach them about the world, indulging each kid in their favorite song, favorite animal, favorite crayon color, etc- I'm also making sure they don't come near the stove when it's hot, changing diapers all day long, and spending ten minutes putting on coats, hats, and mittens. I'm comforting them when they break down in tears because Mommy left, because they tripped over the toe of their shoe, or simply because they didn't have a long enough nap.

I started doing this job because I love kids and was specifically interested in toddlers. Now I do it because I fiercely love each of the kids I nanny for each week, and would do pretty much anything in the world for them. I don't do it because I want to live vicariously through toddlers. I'm not sure I can say the same for Baby Ella. In fact, I'm very curious to know if she still has her job after the airing of this episode.

See more of Kailey/Baby Ella here-

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

NBA Draft-talk time.

It's time to move forward.

After spending almost two whole days consoling myself with tears, memories, phone calls, two cans of Miller Hi-Life, photos of kittehs with funny captions, and a bag of goldfish crackers, I'm almost ready to move on. I'm not ready to turn on the news or, god forbid, ESPN quite yet, but I can start letting go. I think.

Seriously, the kitchen is a wreck and I can't tackle it. It's my turn to buy household essentials- coffee, cat litter- but I can't drag myself out of bed on my random day off, because I was up until 5 AM writing about the Tigers and fretting about the Tigers and, well, just being really, really sad. Also, I really wanted eggs this morning but my roommate eated them, and because I'm so sad about Our Tigers I would rather just mope about the eggs than go down to the corner store and buy more.

(I love eggs. Love them. If someone wants to win my affections, leave my mailbox full of eggs a la the Tic Tacs scene in Juno. Just package them very carefully, or hard boil them first, cos egg goo all over my magazines and Netflix might actually work to your disadvantage.)

So I'm gonna be all theraputic and write about the draft. Granted, I am 1. Not Yet Ready To Focus On Anything Sports-Related Other Than My Tigers, and 2. Not The Biggest NBA Fan In The World. If there weren't Tigers surely being drafted and if there weren't a possibility of at least one of them staying in Memphis via the Grizzlies, I wouldn't even be writing this. So this will be all about feelings, with a little strategy thrown in.

(I make no claims to be an NBA expert. Mostly, I've just cleaned their players' and coaches' bathrooms at my old job.)

For the first time since it happened, I am entirely overjoyed that Darius Washington Jr. decided to declare early for the draft in 2006.

Darius Washington will always be one of those Memphis characters who will be emblematic of how unlucky our program- hell, our city- has always been. He was (is) a talented kid who helped lead Memphis to the Elite Eight in 2006: but unfotunately, he will always be remembered for this moment, where his missed free throws cost Memphis our only shot of making it to the NCAA tournament that year. His decision to declare early for the draft ended sadly- he wasn't drafted in either round, nor was he picked up as a free agent. He ended up playing in Greece last year, then covered for Tony Parker of the Spurs for a few weeks earlier in the season, but that ended quickly and they didn't even send him back down to the D league. Now he's back in Greece, presumably trying again to get picked up by another NBA team.

Had he not left when he did- had he stayed with the Tigers and been a part of last year's team that made it to the Elite Eight, but may have gone even farther with him at point guard- he would have almost certainly been drafted by the NBA last year, maybe even in the first round. He wasn't patient, he got too cocky, and it blew up in his face.

There are a couple of reasons I'm glad he's gone. For one thing, I think that had they had D-Wash, as we called him, running the point during the 2006-2007, the hole we needed to fill at that position wouldn't have been as obvious and Cal probably wouldn't have been as desperate to find a perfect point guard: i.e. we may not have ended up with our magical missing piece of the puzzle, Derrick Rose (although D-Wash wasn't a true point guard in my opinion, but that's another story). Also, who wants to see a kid stay with a team when he doesn't want to be there? Nobody wants a half-assed point guard.

But mostly, I'm glad he left when he did because his story serves as a cautionary tale for our current Tigers who aren't ready for the draft but may be itching to declare early. Out of the Tigers' five starters, only two are likely to be back next year- juniors Antonio Anderson and Robert Dozier. Neither are ready for the NBA, least of all Antonio, but either of them could get a little cocky and declare early. Fortunately, both of these kids played their freshman year with D-Wash at point. They remember.

On another note, did anyone watching the CSTV coverage of Memphis all year think it was extra creepy that they had Darius Washington's #35 jersey on display in the glass locker in the background all year long? Maybe they cursed us.

I shoulda been at the Deli.

(From my Yelp! page.)

Champion's Sports Bar & Restaurant

Categories: Sports Bars, Restaurants
Neighborhood: Back Bay

110 Huntington Ave
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 578-0658

So let's say you're trying to pick a sports bar to watch The Biggest Game Of Your Life in. Your team is playing in the NCAA championship game for the first time since 1973. They've never won before. It's huge for you, your family, your friends, your hometown. You have waited your whole life for this.

You randomly decide on this place.

So then let's say that upon getting there you find a bunch of other fans to buddy up with, which is a nice surprise considering that you're homesick as hell right now. Let's say that you ask if you can switch tables so you can sit with these people. Your current waiter, a very cool and understandable guy, is ok with it; the psychotic waiter in the section you want to sit in says no.

So finally after bribing him- first with guilt trips about how this is the moment you've waited for your whole life, which doesn't work and gets an eyeroll, and then with actual money- you sit down with your new friends. You're excited, because The Game Of Your Life is about to begin. You sit down at the one empty table in the area. Psycho Waiter says that nobody is allowed to sit in that table, ever. You say that, as a former waitress, you understand how seating assignments and table numbering goes, but you would really like to sit down and is that okay? Psycho Waiter says nobody is allowed to sit in at that table. It remains empty.

So you stand, and the place starts getting packed for the game; meanwhile, that fucking table remains empty and every time someone dares to sit in it, Psycho Waiter comes back and starts hollering again about how Nobody Is Allowed To At That Table Or In Those Chairs, Ever.

But you're not gonna let it dampen your spirits, because your team is gonna WIN! Everybody is so excited! This is our year, finally!

And let's say this group of fans happen to be from a city where we're born and raised with particularly strong accents, and people with the aforementioned accents are unfairly stereotyped as being moronic, lazy, slack-jawed, and inbred. Let's say this city is, oh, Memphis, Tennessee. Let's say that the large majority of people there are apparently in town for a conference for the children's cancer hospital and research center where they work and are staying in the hotel where the bar is located, but Psycho Waiter still treats them like they're idiots. No, better yet- Psycho Waiter treats them with contempt.

Let's say the game is finally starting, and the starters are running out onto the floor. Let's say that as they're galloping out with expressions of joy and glee on their faces that you want to impress upon your memory for the rest of your life, as soon as the most important player this year (Chris Douglas-Roberts! Memphis Tigers! #14! GO TIGERS GO!) runs out onto the court and you all start cheering, Psycho Waiter comes and stands in front of your tv set, blocks your view, starts waving his arms in the air, and says the following:


You miss it.

Let's say the game begins and you're watching every move like a hawk; Psycho Waiter keeps haranguing you every time you don't have a drink in your hand. Let's say he harasses you enough times that you finally switch from beers and order a Jack and Diet just to shut him up so you can watch this extremely close and intense game, and he asks you- "Will that be a double?" Hey, guess what Psycho Waiter? If I wanted a double, I'd ask for one.

Then he brings your drink, and it's the weakest Jack and Diet you've ever had in your life. But whatever, Psycho Waiter is off of your ass. Then your friend arrives and wants to order a drink, but Psycho Waiter is nowhere to be found. Lovely.

Then let's say your Tigers totally have the game locked up, but somehow let it slip between their fingers. Let's say that you're so devastated that you can barely hold yourself up and in a moment you'll basically have to be shuttled out the door by your friend and forced not to gape at the red and blue confetti raining down on the screen. Let's say that before this happens, despite the obvious horror and disbelief and pain that is emanating from your face and your lips, Psycho Waiter comes up, gives you that now familiar haughty look of contempt, and asks you one last time- "Jack and Diet?" Just to make you feel that much worse.

I could understand this behavior at a restaurant or even a regular bar, but this is THE BIGGEST COLLEGE BASKETBALL GAME OF THE YEAR, IN A SPORTS BAR, IN A HOTEL FULL OF TOURISTS WHO WANT TO WATCH NON-LOCAL GAMES. Thanks, Psycho Waiter, for making my miserable evening that much more miserable. If my Jack and Diets had actually had any alcohol in them, I probably would have just proven your redneck stereotyping of me to be abso-fucking-lutely correct and straight up smashed my weak-ass Jack and Diet over your head, then puked on your shoes.

Gangsta Boo knows the deal about the Tigers.

And she said it best in this blog entry:

Next year our remaining Tigers will come back a lot wiser, and they'll be hungrier than they were this year.

A lot hungrier.

Listen. I know what you're thinking- we're almost definitely gonna be without Derrick Rose. We're probably going to be without CDR.

We'll be without Joey.


Seeing all the pictures of Joey standing at the podium today thanking the city for loving him so much, with his head hung so low, looking everything other than huge and beastly for the first time ever: it fucking killed me. I had some teary moments before, some of those classic "one manly tear wiped away before the kids could see" seconds here and there throughout the night and today, but seeing Joey standing there like that gave me the sobs.

Even if we win a championship next year or in five years or in ten years, it won't be Joey's.

So yeah, notice my conflicting emotions here. I want to be positive. I want to be optimistic about the future. But it literally torments my soul to see My Boys standing there looking so miserable and guilty, like they did something wrong because the championship trophy they were holding onto during the last two minutes of regulation literally slipped through their enormous, nimble fingers.

As though they hadn't tried as hard as they could.

As though they hadn't done that all year long.

These thirteen college-age kids, most of whom aren't even Memphians, brought the entire city together despite our famously severe race and class divide. And they still felt like they owed us something, that they had let us down.

It just breaks my heart.

And I want to be positive, to tell my friends and my family to keep their chins up, but it's so hard when I can't even entirely do it myself.

I don't want to leave you with the words that douchebag frat boy dads and wannabe white G losers exchanged with me at the gym where I take the kid I sit for to playgroup.

So I will leave you with this, because it's all I have right now.

But it's something.

Yesterday I had time to burn before the game so I walked around downtown Boston beforehand, trying to use up some of this nervous energy that's been accumulating all weekend- hell, all year. I walked past one of the charter schools down there, and a bunch of teenage guys were standing outside of the school talking shit and holding basketballs. As I walked by, one of them went "Holy shit! Look at that girl!" I thought they were trying to holler at me, so I picked up the pace.

Then they all started screaming.

Turns out they were looking at my hat.


I turned around and threw my fists in the air, then ran back down the block to high five them. "YEAH! YEAH YEAH YEAH! GO TIGERS! YEAH YEAH!"


So these thuggin' ass basketball playing black kids, and me with my heavily-accented cracker ass: for about ten seconds we were jumping up and down together in the middle of a major street in downtown Boston cheering for our Tigers.

And when it was over and I walked the rest of the way down the block, I ran into some of their friends and it happened again.

This never would have happened two years ago, or last year. I suspect it never would have happened any year other than now.

The tide is turning. And while you'll definitely hear commentators and columnists and writers reverting back to their original racist, classist theory that our Tigers are a bunch of street ball playin' thugs who are too moronic or undisciplined to run plays, we have some new friends and allies; kids who play ball in the same streets of Boston where Antonio Anderson grew up know Memphis now. And they seem to love it.

Like it or not, the Tigers are no longer a local phenomenon. We're national, baby. Coach Cal recruits players who polarize the general public: playground ballers, kids who look like they single-handedly keep campus area tattoo shops in business, goofy boys who get in club brawls and- most famously of all- wind up in a heap of trouble for standing on bars and makin' it rain. Instead of calling for them to be disciplined or expelled, we fall head over heels in love with them- because wow, they sure are a lot like we Memphis kids are, aren't they?

So who would you rather have pulling for the Tigers? A bunch of yuppies who sit on their couch and root for the same boring Big Ten and Big 12 schools every year, or inner city kids all over the country who watch TV, see themselves in our Tigers and decide that it's better to play ball like them than to sling rocks on their corner?

I know whose side I'd rather be on.

Let's keep it up, Memphis.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

my body hurts so, so badly.

I can’t stand up straight. Part of it is physical, because all of this stress and tension and emotion has literally manifested itself as horrible muscular pain. And, of course, part of it is serious dejection.

I thought, in those last three minutes before we went into overtime, that we had it.

I counted my chickens.

Sometimes when I walk down the street streetlights flicker or go on and off when I think of certain things or get angry or sad. Tonight literally every second or third street light went off. One of them sizzled out with this loud pop and made sparks.

But you know what, Memphis? I know that electricity can’t be gone. The city can’t lose this unity and this fever over one loss. We are still 38 and 2. We are still a city of folks who united over the fact that the entire country was judging our basketball team for having tattoos, for talking in thug slang, for being from the inner city, for wearing their hats to the side.

Basically, the whole country thought we weren’t shit because our Tigers are black- and stereotypically so at that. And we stuck by them and we defended them and we pulled for them to win it all. And we didn’t do this because we wanted to win. We did it because we knew it was fucked up and wrong.

We did it because we fell in love, and because that love made us question everything we’ve ever had drilled into our heads. And if we were wrong about "these types of young men", we might just be wrong about everything else, too.

It might just be time to let some shit go and to move on.

Don’t forget about this, friends. Don’t forget about how far we have come in a handful of months.

Don’t drop the ball. Please.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

My Tigers.

This was one of my favorite songs to listen to when I was the tiniest of little girls, twirling around on my dusty back porch in the blue sequined tutu that my grandma sewed for me. We had a jukebox that sat propped up against the yellow wood-paneled wall, underneath our bathroom window in the middle of nowhere in Mississippi. One of my first ways to show that I could read and write was to punch in my favorite songs on that jukebox. I quickly learned that A5 was "Hound Dog"; A7 was "Great Balls Of Fire". And somewhere in the Cs and Ds, baby Robin found the Stax.

I was raised on Carla, Al, Elvis, Jerry Lee, Johnny, and, above all, Otis. I'm pretty sure I spent every warm day before I turned four watching my mama and my daddy sass each other back and forth with "Tramp", indulge their sad side by hollering "Fa Fa Fa (Sad Song)" while carefully turning over racks of ribs on the barbecue, and, my God, wailing the saddest of sad songs while the fireflies blinked out the rhythm and the cicadas chirped the bass. God bless 'em, I love my mama and my daddy, but neither of them are vocally brilliant. Nevertheless, they howled those songs like patriotic Memphians. Sober or partying, night or day, weekend or weekday, they sang their hearts out all summer long. When I was a choir kid I never had to be coaxed out of the cruel trap of getting stuck singing in the back of my throat or the inside of my sinuses. I never understood what that meant, because I just hollered. I hollered and I hollered and I hollered. I hollered until I passed out from feeling like my lungs were going to turn inside out and roll out of my mouth.

Reaching up on that jukebox and punching in an Otis song was a bit of an internal dare. Otis challenged me. I didn't understand love or loss yet, but I knew that just hearing the sound of his voice made me feel like somebody was punching me in the gut hard enough to knock the wind out of me and send me flying. I literally fell to my knees every time his voice emanated from that thing. I was naive, but I was studious. My tiny ears listened attentively, and I heard him hit about thirty different notes in one second. I tried to warble like Otis into my portable tape deck, but it never sounded right. I couldn't wrap my academic little brain around it. I smashed my face against the wasp nest-covered speaker of that jukebox, but I couldn't replicate what I was hearing no matter how hard I tried.

Twenty-plus years later, I totally get it. I completely understand how he made his throat do what it did. Otis was vulnerable enough to completely stop controlling his voice and to let it go where it needed to go. Otis was the co-pilot, and his heart and soul did the steering.

This performance is widely regarded as his most brilliant, and it was supposed to be what propelled him to fame and glory.

He died in a freak accident four months later.

This just seems to be how things go in Memphis.

Today it is time for that tide to turn. GO TIGERS.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

"Into The Wild" is lame.

I just finished watching last year's critically acclaimed "Into The Wild", directed by Sean Penn and starring Emile Hirsch. I thought I'd like it a lot, because any movie about traveling tends to be at least vaguely magical to me, but I really, really do not.

This film is based on the story of a young man, Christopher McCandless, who grows up in an affluent household, graduates from Emory University in Atlanta and decides that he wants to drop out of society and travel around the country. He gives away $24,000 to OxFam in the form of a cashier's check and hits the road, neglecting to keep his family updated on his travails. The film skips around a bit, alternating between showing him on his various journeys, his frantic parents and sister wondering where the hell he is, and his final journey in the Alaskan bush where he eventually starves to death.

It's basically your typical story of a rich white boy who adopts a silly, inappropriate moniker (in his case, "Alexander Supertramp"), sets a pile of money on fire (literally) and bums off of people who are nice enough to take him under their wing along the way- and by virtue of his privileged and sheltered life he has no idea what the fuck he's doing. He gets a pretty brutal beatdown from a guy working security in a train yard because he doesn't know how to hop trains. He drives his car into a flash flood because he doesn't know how to drive around them. And finally, he starves to death in the Alaskan bush because he went out there with nothing but a field guide to edible plants.

I am tired of watching film after film about self-indulgent rich white boys who graduate prep school and/or college, decide they're bored with their position in society, and go on these ridiculous journeys toward self-enlightenment. Sean Penn basically puts this kid on a pedestal, romanticizing and slobbering all over him like he's Jesus or some shit. Meanwhile, as a working class woman who would pretty much kill for the pile of money he burned in the desert, I just rolled my eyes the entire time. What kind of moron goes into the freaking Alaskan bush in the dead of winter without a map or proper supplies? What kind of a cruel asshole just disappears off the face of the earth without telling his family where he's going, much less sending them postcards from time to time alerting them to the fact that he's still alive? The film tries to make a case through flashbacks that he had a traumatic childhood and was attempting to escape it, but it doesn't look too much worse than anybody else's I know.

The most painful part of the movie is watching Chris shoot a beautiful moose, hack it into pieces, then letting it rot because he has no idea how to cure the meat. What a waste of a life- two lives, really.

Justin Timberlake was a dork.

Everybody in Memphis who is between the ages of about 25-30 either has or has heard some crazy stories about the childhood of Justin Timberlake. For example, the security guard at the women's clinic I used to volunteer at went to elementary school with him in Millington and says that he had terrible acne, used to play basketball with the girls cos the boys didn't want him, and signed his name in big bubbly handwriting. That's funny stuff, considering how cool he allegedly is these days.

So it is with great pomp and circumstance that I present this video that my friend Sarah dug up at her mom's house awhile back. I think it's friggin' spectacular. Although I'm the hugest Justin Timberlake fan in the world, I find myself perpetually annoyed by how he tries to claim the musical heritage of Memphis as his own, or as something he's had some part in creating or nurturing. Not so! The boy is a Garth Brooks-loving, two-stepping hillbilly from Millington at heart.

The best part is at the end, when he receives his award and gets all flustered and drops his hat and doesn't know what to do. It's pretty adorable.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Tiger Tattoos

When you watch more than thirty college basketball games for one team during a season, most of which were blowouts of ridiculous proportions, you inevitably start to focus on some weird details- the types of rituals players have at the free throw line, how much certain coaches and staff members sweat during games, and trying to decode plays certain finger symbols denote are historically popular ones for me. This year I am all about the tattoos. This is one tatted-up group of kids, I’ll tell you what. Every game there’s more and more ink to spot. It’s been a battle just to keep up with everything. Here are some of my favorites.

The most interesting case study of tattoo evolution has come from Memphis’s arguably best player, Chris Douglas-Roberts. While he sported plenty of ink coming into the season, he made some very visable additions this year.

His first in-your-face tattoo was this little number on his neck.

Who is Judy? I’m not sure we’ll ever know. All I know is that unless it’s his mama or his grandmother, I’ll be pretty enthusiastic about watching him in the pros for years to come, waiting for the day I see a close-up of him on TV with a big black bar slapped across his neck.

A few weeks ago, CDR emerged with this new piece.

I’m not sure what this is. A chapter from the Old Testament? A benevolent witch’s spell written on parchment paper? Now when he’s at the free throw line he methodically bends his knees and touches the tattoo a few times with his left hand, a move also executed by former Tiger Steve Ballard in the early 90’s (while it’s doubtful that CDR is directly mimicking this move, it’s a fun nostalgia trip for those of us who remember it from before). I suppose that this is a superstition or luck thing; he’s deriving a bit of strength and skill from the words that are permanently etched all the way down his right bicep, whatever they may be. Coincidentally (or not), the entire team’s free throw shooting is improving massively in the tournament.

Robert Dozier got an interesting new tattoo on his upper left bicep: a simple outline of the state of Georgia, with the words "Georgia Boy" scrolled above and below it. You can kind of see it here.

Despite its relative simplicity, I think this is my favorite of all the Tigers’ tattoos. I am a big fan of state tattoos; Dozier’s is clean, simple, and to the point.

Who would have thought Pierre Niles, famous nationwide for slapping a rowdy UAB fan dressed as Larry The Cable Guy across the face, to be a religious man? He has the prototypical set of praying hands on the inside of his left forearm, as well as the word "SON" going down his right arm, and "GOD" going down his left. The letters are extremely puffy and a little odd, and look slightly like cruller doughnuts- and if you’re not focusing hard enough the GOD looks a bit like GOO. I’m not sure exactly what Pierre is trying to convey with this tattoo statement. Is he a big fan of Jesus, or does he think he’s the second coming? All I know is that I better not knock a guy as big as Pierre too hard, especially since he’s also got the words "North" and "Memphis" tattooed across the backs of his arms. Whoop that trick, indeed.

Shawn Taggart, aka the most underrated Tiger, in my humble opinion, is one of those kids who seems to well be on his way to sporting a billion tattoos that are seemingly unrelated to each other and don’t create a cohesive theme. Nonetheless, they’re fun to look at.

Check out the fist clutching wads of money, the very tired tribal flames, and the 301 on his hand (hometown area code?). He also has a name tattooed on his neck; you can’t see it here, but it begins with an "N". Naomi? Nana?

Curiously, Memphis’s allegedly biggest and scariest thug, Joey Dorsey, has no visible tattoos that I can see. I’m anxiously awaiting a sweet right arm piece with the words "make it rain", accompanied by an entire sleeve of money showering from the top of his shoulder.

And finally, no discussion of Memphis’ 2007-2008 team tattoos is complete without mentioning Derrick Rose, the quietly imposing freshman phenom who has been the missing piece of the puzzle this year for our Tigers. Derrick Rose is terrified enough of needles that he refused stitches for a pretty nasty cut he received over his eye a couple of games ago, but he apparently had no fear of getting lots of work done this year, most noticeably this monstrosity etched on his arm for all eternity:

With that, all I’ve got left to say is: Go Tigers. Thanks for beating so many of your opponents so handily that I had the time to give a shit about your tattoos.


I have been in shock and sort of on emotional autopilot all day long. I think I prepared myself not to feel it if Memphis lost, because it would have genuinely hurt so badly. So now I am just sitting here staring at the walls of my apartment and trying to absorb everything.

This is, so far, the greatest day of my life as a sports fan. Yet all I can manage to do is text message people about beers and vintage dresses and write snarky reviews of Memphis’s fake abortion clinic on

Maybe it’ll sink in tomorrow.

I am going to throw up on my shoes.

In less than ten hours Memphis will take on Texas in the battle to win the South Region in the NCAA tournament.

I think I am going to throw up.

I haven’t been able to sleep well for weeks solely because of basketball. I know this is a sore point of contention amongst my friends in Boston. People either think it’s annoying- because I make plans that revolve around my basketball schedule- or they think it’s cute and quaint because it’s Just So Odd for someone like me to be so invested in something like a bunch of dudes throwing a ball that swishes through a hoop at the perfect moment.

Let me explain it thusly.

My first memory of life is of shopping for the birthday cake on the day of my first birthday party. I was about to be a year old. I loved Bert and Ernie, and so they were to be on my birthday cake. I remember being tiny; I remember everything being huge; I remember holding my dad’s hand as I teetered through the parking lot of the Big Star on Summer Avenue, knowing it was my special day and that I was going to get a cake just for me. I recall looking at the fancy display of cakes, pointing out the one that was mine, and watching my daddy exchange money for My Cake. There’s a blur between then and the happy birthday song, but I remember blowing out the candles while my family sang the song to me.

My second, third, fourth, fifth and beyond memories are all of Memphis Tigers Basketball. Somewhere in there is a memory of my sister being born. In my child mind I rated them all as being of relative importance. For some reason that is beyond my grasp, my memory of meeting my baby sister for the first time is in the same mental file cabinet as watching Keith Lee take Memphis to the Final Four in 1985.

And that is how it goes. My childhood constantly revolved around the Tigers. Every game came on local syndicated television and we watched them religiously. I can still recite the local commercials (anyone remember the commercials for Big Daddy’s Bowling Alley in Poplar Plaza? They had a free dinner for the kiddies! I know this cos I can still picture the fat girl customer stuffing her face with corn from the all-you-can-eat buffet). I memorized starting lineups. I memorized plays. If I hear the announcers (Dave Woloshin and John Albright, bitches!) now on the radio my brain shuts everything else off. Their voices are comforting to me the same way it’s comforting for some people to go to their parents’ houses and cuddle with their childhood teddy bears.

There were many minor players, but as far as the major stuff goes here is the rundown.

Elliot Perry was a little too short to be an NBA phemonenon, but his goggles were cool and he was a fucking star. As a result of his amazingness I copied his style and wore my swimming goggles all over the place from about 1989 to 1991 (this was before contact lenses were the shit, you see), just cos Elliot Perry did it first. I lived too far out in the country to have a basketball hoop, so I wore the goggles Elliot-style and dribbled my ball in circles in the loop of our driveway, doing it so many times that I remembered where each large rock was in our driveway that could send my ball flying into the bamboo bushes or towards the catalpa trees.

Penny Hardaway was obviously the most amazing phenomenon to hit Memphis since Elvis, but he was cooler ’cos he was local and kept it real. The day he announced that he was going to play for the Tigers he got shot in the foot. Not that you would know this, but THAT IS SO MEMPHIS. It was fucking depressing. Plus his grades sucked, so his whole freshman year was spent on the bench. After that wait though it was magic. Memphis went all the way to the Elite Eight during his junior year- what was that, 1992? I remember peeling the shot from Sports Illustrated of David Vaughn going up for this amaaaazing basket out of the magazine and putting it up on my wall. Memphis lost to Cincinnati in their bracket, which was especially painful, but what a fucking year that was.

I remember regularly seeing Coach Finch at Ike’s at Eastgate Shopping Center and, thanks to my mom’s encouragement, waving at him and congratulating him on his good year while he pushed his shopping cart out to his car, politely smiling and nodding at everyone in his path along the way. I remember feeling like I was a part of something special because he thanked me for acknowledging him. I remember how his smile towards me felt genuine, and I remember how when I watched the next Tigers game it felt like I had something to do with it.

I remember my parents screeching and hollering about The Great Name Change, how it would always be Memphis State to them and how their diplomas would always say that. Sure enough, they still call it Memphis State from time to time even fifteen-plus years later. Haters call it Memphis State all they want, but it makes me smile every time I hear it. I remember Coach Finch being unceremoniously fired and how it made the entire city so, so angry. I also remember how Tic Price was the biggest douchebag that the city ever had the misfortune of dealing with, and how it was like the second coming of Christ once the Tigers landed Coach Cal.

I remember watching and watching, but nothing happening. Then I remember the 05-06 year, going to RP Tracks with Lauryn a month or so before I moved to Boston and sitting with her and Hillary and watching Memphis come So Fucking Close to knocking off Duke in the preseason. It was something. I remember watching this mysterious but amazing number 14, this Chris Douglas-Roberts character, and hearing everyone in the bar murmuring, "who the fuck IS this kid?" I remember doing the math in my head. These kids are all freshmen and sophomores. The next two years will be sweet, but 2007-2008 will be their year. Something big is going to happen.

In a lot of ways, Memphis is a crappy city. Segregation is still alive and well, and as a result the crime is out of control. The poverty is sky high and it’s easy to grow up there and have extremely low expectations for your loved ones and yourself. Honestly, I don’t think I don’t know anyone who hasn’t lost a friend because a robbery went wrong. That’s a horrible thing to have to say, but it is true. When you are raised in a town like Memphis you’re just set up to either be an incredible survivor via suffering horribly or to be an extremely sheltered and mediocre human being.

If Memphis wins the championship this year, it’s not just about a fucking ball going through a fucking hoop. It is about forcing the entire country to acknowledge what it means for a city in a shitty position to overcome mid-major status, financial obstacles, extreme racism and classism, and eternal underdog status. Memphis Tigers basketball isn’t just about a basketball program at a college in the city of Memphis; it’s a perfect emblem of the city itself. If the Tigers win, it’ll be like we hit the fucking lottery. It means some kids in Frayser and Orange Mound whose parents never graduated high school are gonna get a free ride to the University Of Memphis. It means that our parents and grandparents are going to get to experience something they never thought they would- seeing the Tigers cutting down the nets. It means that all these schools/cities/states that think they’re better than us will have to man up and accept the fact that on a basic human level, we’re all pretty much the same.

Memphis kids are in a class by ourselves. We grew up with our parents forcing their versions of their local hipster bands in our ears constantly, which turned out to be The People Who Fucking Invented Rock And Roll And Soul Music. As a result we have impeccable taste- basically, it’s in our blood to know when something’s good or when it sucks. Right now the entire city is rumbling like the big earthquake is finally settling in under its feet. We all know this is special, even when we’re a thousand miles away from home.

This is big.

I don’t think I’ll have to eat my words in a few hours. This feels real.

Third Time's A Charm

I was at the zoo yesterday with one of the kids and when we stopped off at the tiger exhibit I got a little nervous cos this random grandma next to us was hollerin’ at the kitties. She kept making kissy sounds at the tiger who was sitting and relaxing, trying to get him to turn around and look at her. ’Come here, kitty! Look at me! I wanna see your face! Turn around!" It was so patronizing. Meanwhile I’m all, there’s just a crappy chain-link fence separating us and two really fierce animals. Is this the best idea? I’m not sure I’m ready to throw my body on top of a toddler today in order to ensure his survival. Eventually the tiger did acknowledge her presence by turning his head slightly to the left, then made slight eye contact, turned his back to her, got up and prowled towards the door where the zookeepers leave his pre-butchered tasty dinner.

Memphis is in the Elite Eight for the third year in a row. This is the first year that I have confidence that they’ll run with this momentum. Fuck what the pundits say; Memphis has it going on. I can’t explain it with statistics or anything like that. It’s just feeling. When you’re a fan of Memphis- or hell, just from the city, period- you are accustomed to being a pessimist and expecting the worst from your people. This is the year that things are different. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t feel like there was some sort of a mystical energy guiding my gut instinct right now.

Call it fate. Call it a program, a school, a city getting off of its knees and owning their shit. I have no idea. All I know is that I am ready to be emotionally invested beyond Sunday morning. And I feel like there’s a reason for that.

This is what I’ve been waiting for since I was five years old and watched Keith Lee take Memphis to the Final Four on the big screen TV at my aunt and uncle’s house, thinking he was so huge and amazing and special. I watched Memphis fall to their knees about a hundred times since then, so I know what it feels to get my heart broken in that especially painful basketball way.

I’m pretty certain that It’s Time.

Nerdy Basketball Sentence 1.

Funnier than cheesy softcore porn: watching Bob Huggins and Coach K embracing and whispering into each others’ ears after the WVU/Duke game.

What a couple of assholes.

Part of me can’t wait until March Madness is over and I can resume my normal life in its entirety. Is it terrible that I stayed home last night to try to catch three minutes of Memphis’s cake walk first round game, even though they never even showed any of it beyond like two highlights? Is it equally terrible that I’m considering staying home tonight to watch the Mich State/Pitt game so I can see who Memphis plays next weekend, assuming they get past the Bulldogs (In my house, Mississippi State = "The Bulldogs"; I am massively sad that Memphis has to play them, because the spot in my heart that they maintain is squishy-soft)?

I have too much emotional investment this year. When my friends’ teams lose, I want to help them plan symbolic Viking funerals at Jamaica Pond or down the Mississippi River. When my friends’ teams win, I call or text them to congratulate them. If or when (please, not when) Memphis loses, I’m going to be pretty crushed. It’ll be about the same feeling as being dumped by someone I had really high hopes for going down a long road with. Seriously, I’m not exaggerating.


March Madness Methodology

DISCLAIMER: When reading this blog entry, one should know that I’m completely aware that I’m pretty insane between the months of November and March, and completely off the wall nutso from mid-March until early April.

The art of filling out NCAA brackets is a complicated science. There are many factors to consider when writing your predicted winners on your bracket lines. Here is my methodology, which I have used on and off for the past fifteen or so years of my life. You probably won’t use it, as its science is very specific to the type of person I am: stubborn, old-fashioned, obsessive, fiercely independent, and heavily influenced by geography. That is not the point. The point is that talking about annual traditions like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and March Madness is something we should all do more often, as it helps us instill a sense of loyalty to tradition.

The parameters:

First, I make one and only one bracket. If I participate in different bracket pools, I make different copies of the exact same bracket. I think it is unholy to make more than one set of predictions. March Madness is all about who you believe in; even if one doesn’t care about a game or has a difficult time predicting an outcome, one should make a decision and stick to it. Multiple brackets are for wafflers, people who are too scared to make choices.

Second, when making the initial bracket I draw it out myself with a ruler. I do this sometime during the weekend before announcements are made on Sunday. It is very therapeutic and helps me relieve the stress I feel when I think about the possibilities surrounding the University of Memphis’s place in all of this. If it’s a year where Memphis isn’t going to the Big Dance, I am usually feeling pretty bitter and upset. If it’s a year where Memphis is definitely going but their seeding or regional placement is in question (i.e. this year), I am stressed and will take hours to make sure that the lines measure out perfectly, as I am feeling obsessive. If it’s a year where Memphis may or may not be going to the tournament, I am extremely stressed and will take many, many hours to complete this process. I may use pre-printed forms from newspapers or the internet as second copies of my bracket (and to write down my friends’ brackets), but I always use my original bracket as my blueprint, my master plan. This original bracket goes everywhere that I go for the duration of March Madness, and I mark its correctness or incorrectness wherever I hear game updates. By the end of the tournament it’s usually folded into fourths, falling apart, covered in food and beer stains, and completely wrinkled and smushed to bits from traveling around in the bottom of my bag for three weeks.

When Selection Sunday is nigh I try my hardest to be in front of the television when the announcements are made. Like most people, I fill in the initial portions of my bracket as the teams are announced one by one. Usually I’ll go ahead and make some instant predictions, like picking all the 1 seeds to beat the 16 seeds, or knocking off teams that are seeded way too highly. I write my first round of predictions in ball point pen.

For my second round of predictions I usually use a pencil. This way I can erase any mistakes I’ve made. Constant erasing and rewriting usually means my bracket is covered with tiny eraser holes once I’ve made my final decisions. When making my choices I don’t pay too much attention to what sports commentators say, as I rely on my instinct and am usually pretty knowledgeable about the records and styles of play of most of the teams in the tournament. I pay attention to all of the important details, like how the teams have fared later in the season rather than overall, and how previous match ups between teams may come into play. I pay particular attention to the locations where the games will be played. For example, this year a lot of people have Pittsburgh beating Michigan State and then going on to beat Memphis. While I am certainly a pessimist about Memphis’s ability to win tournaments, I wonder how many Memphis naysayers are taking into account the fact that this hypothetical game will be played after Memphis will have played two games in Little Rock, which is a mere two hours away from Memphis and is often referred to as its sister city.

(You may be interested to know that I have never picked Memphis to go any further than the Final Four. I always have a stopping point for their glory. When I decide where that stopping point is, I always feel a huge surge of guilt of a treasonous nature. I feel a twinge of this every time I glance at my bracket.)

I make it a point to finish my bracket by Tuesday night before the play-in game (and yes, I make a prediction for the play-in game), and demand the same behavior from anyone who is comparing brackets or competing with me. If I am having a stressful or busy week, I will predict the play-in game first and finish the rest of my bracket by Wednesday night, as the first games are played on Thursday.

As teams are eliminated, I mark off my wrong choices with a big black marker. When a team I’ve picked to go further than the current game is eliminated, I mark off all future games as well. When I make a correct decision I circle it with the same big black marker (although some years I use a highlighter).

By the time Memphis has been eliminated, as they have been every year they’ve made it to the tournament, I lose a lot of interest in my bracket. I cease to genuinely care about the outcome of the tournament, even if I have a fair amount of money invested in it and it looks like I may win some. The sky gets a little darker. Food doesn’t taste as good anymore. My mood begins to sour. People avoid me. I close my door and throw things. I am bitter for at least two weeks, maybe longer. I lie in bed and remember the best plays of the season, and try to focus on Memphis’s certain and possible entries (if any) in the upcoming NBA draft.

When the tournament is over I compare my bracket with other peoples’, and eventually it gets thrown away. When the year comes that Memphis wins it all, I’ll frame my bracket and put it on my wall. Until then, I don’t want to be reminded of ugly basketball games and seasons that ended in disappointment. I just want to remember the good times.

With that said, GO TIGERS GO. THIS IS YOUR YEAR. For the first time ever, I am picking you to win it all. Don’t prove me wrong.

Anyone who wants to compare brackets with me, send ’em along with your email address and I’ll reciprocate.

About Me

Jamaica Plain, MA, United States