Wednesday, September 27, 2006

On the New York Football Giants

The game of football is as close as any sport can ever come to being in a war. Sure, things like boxing or MMA are close in sheer brutality, but not so much in purpose. You see, football is a sport where eleven strong, highly trained men step onto a field with the specific purpose of defeating their enemy in any way possible. They are directed by a man who is older, more experienced, and who has access to more information than they do- the Coach. It's not the that eleven on the field aren't smart enough to handle said information, but that they must be more concerned with working as a team to directly defeat their enemy; they will not be able to take a step out of the action as it develops and see the overall picture like someone outside the battle can.

The Coach is the general, the players, the soldiers. The general tells the soldiers where to be and at what time, and the soldiers do the actual fighting. Seems simple enough, right? Well, it isn't. If you want a living, breathing picture of what can go wrong with this system, then take a look at the New York Giants.

I have been a Giants fan all my life. I've watched them since I was two months old, and my father used to sit me in front of a TV on Sundays, where I would contentedly watch Big Blue play for the full three hours. They were legends back in that time (for you old timers, I'm sorry, but I'm only talking about 1984-86). Lawrence Taylor ran around destroying backfields and clubbing quarterbacks, Little Joe Morris tore through opposing defenses, and Phil Simms would throw beautiful touch passes to old war horses like Mark Bavaro and Phil McKonkey. This all happened under the watchful eye of the man who was the absolute, clear cut authority on this team: Bill Parcells. He is famous for breaking troublemakers, for taking an old school approach to coaching the game of football. He who does not practice, does not play. If you suck it up in the game, you will be benched. If you mouth off, you'll be lucky to even get in the locker room to get your shit after you've been cut. His team was a disciplined, tough, blue collar type team that got three yards and a cloud of dust on every play, and did it well. Like the Army of the Potomac under U.S. Grant, they would simply pound you down until you were too tired to continue. Nothing all that fancy, just sheer guts and determination. With him, they won two Super Bowls, and fielded some of the most rugged teams the NFL had ever seen. Like

And oh, we lament how things have changed. The defense now is not as good as they once were; there are huge holes, and the guys themselves have barely played together longer than a month. The offense, however, has more talent than any former Giants offense has ever had. Though the young Eli Manning still is but a kid in a league of men, and Tiki Barber is getting a bit older, they still have more than enough talent to make a good playoff run that takes them to a Super Bowl. Of course, lack of talent is not where the true problems lie.

The problems lay with the attitudes of everyone on that team, including the glorious Coach Coughlin. The players are prima donnas of the worst type, between Shockey throwing his little bitch fit on the sidelines and then calling out Eli in the middle of the field because he was apparently open (forgive Eli for not having six fucking eyes, huh Jeremy?). He calls himself "emotional". I call him an asshole. He flouts the rules constantly, snipes at Coughlin, calls out Eli, and then he's the one throwing a hissy fit? Paul O'Neill was emotional; Shockey is a baby. To top it all off, he doesn't even produce. If you want to be like T.O. (minus the suicide attempt) and be a "tough guy", then you better put up his numbers. Otherwise, Jeremy, shut the fuck up and sit down (who knows, he might even read this, being as he's the arrogant pric type that searches his own name on Google every night when he gets bored). If I ever, ever hear anyone compare this punk kid to the warrior that was Mark Bavaro ever again, I am cutting someone's fucking throat.

Another one is Plaxico Burress. He didn't want to workout with the Giants this offseason, he wanted to go down to Miami with Shockey. Well, you can tell, because Plaxico is doing as much of a piss poor job as Shockey is. Yes, the second game was an awesome one. But he is another one who is a classic troublemaker, always making comments about things, the coaching, and whatever else crosses his mind, but he himself rarely puts up any numbers worth mentioning. Where were you the last eight games of the season, you 6'5 bastard? You should have been conspicuously hard to miss- instead, it was the old war horse Amani Toomer who stepped up last year, as he is doing again this year. And he's getting paid a lot less than you are.

So the soldiers aren't performing as they should. There are certain ones who are fleeing like rabbits from a fox, and yet I'm not really surprised. The guys talking shit are the ones who always have...and they are always the first ones to run from bullets (or footballs).

And what have we to say for the general? Well, Tom Coughlin is finally getting what's coming to him. Some men can pull off the Marine drill instructor routine, and they somehow inspire respect from their players because of it. The players know that this coach knows best, and, though he may be harsh, what he is telling them here will make them win the upcoming game. It is not unlike Patton or Stonewall Jackson- hard driving men who demand respect because they know how to win, and they know they know how to win, and you know they know how to win. Eventually, this inspires a rare kind of passion and strenght that becomes the backbone of most armies, and wins battles for those vastly mismatched.

But there is a point where this is useful, and a point where it is completely ridiculous. Coughlin doesn't just say, "Get to this meeting on time", he says, "Get here five minutes early". If you're actually on time for the meeting, but not five minutes early, you get locked out and fined $500. Are you kidding? That's not "disciplinarian", that's irrational. A boss like that will never keep any good workers under him- they'll quit in less than a year. In Vietnam, officers like that got fucking shot in the back, and often.

Now, I don't believe all of Shockey's bullshit about the Seahawks throwing all kinds of new things at the Giant, because it’s simply not true. Eli already said that it was nothing new, and Toomer said the same, except he was the only one to admit, “We just didn’t execute” (how about that one, Shock? A guy actually taking blame for not performing instead of dumping it onto the coaches lap.)

Yet, I do have to say that Tom Coughlin has got to stop treating the Giants like a high school team. Not only are these grown men that he talks down to so often, but they are professional athletes who kind of know what they’re doing. This isn’t the draftee army- this is the Special Forces. Don’t treat them like bumbling idiots off the street, or you won’t get anywhere.

Instead of inspiring respect, it has inspired hatred; in place of loyalty, disgust. Coughlin must get away from this tough guy persona and treat his guys like men. At the same time, the Giants need to listen more to people like Eli and Toomer, and start making an effort to shut assholes like Shockey up.

No army will fight if they don't respect their leaders, and no team will perform if they hate their coach. They'll do just enough to keep themselves alive, but certainly won't go out of their way to win. If things don't change, we Giant fans can expect another ten years of “rebuilding”... and Coughlin just might get shot in the back.

Friday, September 15, 2006


Working class hero- a steam engine mechanic from the 20's.

He was probably a tough SOB.

I bet he was a Democrat, too.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Triple B

I work in the loading zone of a garden center, mostly with cement and stones. I load patio blocks, loose boulders, bags of rock, bales of hay, fill propane tanks, etc. It's not bad as far as staying in shape goes; I consider the job all the endurance and GPP work I'll ever need (as long as you remember it's GPP that I do while smoking a cigarette and most likely hungover- there's nothing better than having a racous, wild Saturday night where you drank so much you woke up naked having pissed yourself, and then having to go into work at 9 in the morning on a Sunday.)

There always manages to be some old fucking guy who snuck around the gates and is there at 8:55, ready and waiting to bombard me with questions. They are always chipper, walking while swinging their arms like he's trying to fucking fly, with an enthusiastic, "Hey how we doing today!". It's always the same.

It's kind of funny to me, because I tend to already be on my third cup of coffee, trying in vain to sober up, unlit cigarette hanging out of my mouth because I either think it's lit or I lost my lighter the night before and have no means of fire; I also know I reek like booze. My answers to their asinine questions are normally slow and drawling, simply because I can't manage to get them out any quicker, and the words stumble around my pulled down Boston hat and squirm into the air.

Sometimes, I'll get people who I actually recognize because they have pissed me off so badly in the past. One that comes to mind is the woman I refer to as the "Triple B", which is an acronym for "Broken Bag Bitch".

You see, when you get ten or twelve trailers of bagged stone in a year, a few of the bags are bound to break, either by mishandling, the ride in from Pennsylvania, etc. You can't do much with them, and most of us that deal with them end up throwing them out. As a last ditch attempt of getting rid of them, we give them out two-for-one, which is really a decent deal for the consumer. But no, there's gotta be a couple assholes that ruin it for everybody. One of these assholes is the Triple B.

She drives in innocently enough, in her beat up white Dodge Caravan with black hubcaps. When I see people like this come in, I give them breaks, being as I figure they are working class fucks like myself. This bitch? Absolutely not.

She gets out of her truck, short, squat, with grey hair that came too early, waddling towards the wet pallets of mulch and stone, and utters that phrase, "Do you have any broken bags of anything?". She seems nice enough at first, but as you get to know her you can tell this broad ain't playing with a full deck. Flighty is not the word for what she is.

If the guys that work there remember who she is, she doesn't get helped at all; eventually she gets tired of being ignored and starts dragging the bags to the front of the yard herself. I'd like to say I feel bad for her, but I've moved thousands of pounds of rocks for her over the years, and never gotten any kind of tip; in the book of the hourly laborer, this puts you in the first circle of hell, right next to Judas.

I've worked there for so long that I have seniority over all the other guys that work, so I don't ever have to help this bitch anymore. No more lifting heavy shit for this freaky, cheap broad; no, I make the younger guys do it. They learn, the same way I did, that she is a cunt- they load all the rocks of all different types into her car, only to get a half-aware wave and an absent minded, "Thanks".

Once, just once, I'd like to grab her scream, "Well bitch, 'Thanks' doesn't pay that bar tab, or put a dollar in that strippers' G-string, or pay my fucking car insurance; so pull out your damn wallet once in a while and throw us a couple fucking dollars for helping your decrepid, pathetic ass out."

One day....

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Reactions to my Moroccan Plans

Most people have, at this point given me a pretty uniform response when I talk about my plans for a North African trek: "Why the fuck do you want to go there?"

My cliched but honest response has been, "Well, why not?"

Africa, and specifically Morocco, represents a frontier that has been long gone from America. It is a civilized country, and tourism there is actually starting to increase, however slowly. There aren't landmark sites like there are in France or England- there isn't really a Big Ben or Eiffel Tower.

It's more of an aura that the country has that seriously attracts me. The sections along the Atlantic Coast are big cities with lots of history, names that the American Media has romanticiszed, like Casablanca and Tangiers. The Straits of Gibralter are here, the gateway to the Mediterranean that was once seen as the ends of the Earth. Farther south it turns into Desolation Row- the mountains, and beyond them, the mighty Sahara Desert which runs to the Southern section of the dark continent.

I've been researching the whole thing heavily, and I'm finding out a lot of interesting things. Jack Kerouac was in Tangiers in the 50's along with other beat writers like William Burroughs at a time when nearly half of the population there were American expatriates. This makes it even more ironic that it was my first destination of choice, because apparently it was on Kerouac's list too. It seems that this is the country where the writers amble to when America dissapoints them too much...

There are bars on the sandy beaches, tight alleyways coursing through the old Medinas, camels offering passage through the greatest of all deserts. It is civilized to a point, but still wild to the point where you might be able to kill a man and still get away with it.

This, my friends, is what I've been waiting for.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


That is the country that I've decided on. I get out of college in January, and I figure if I work for a year I can have a few thousand saved up. Being as Morocco is a kind of last frontier, and the currency exchange rate is 10:1, that country is looking like my favorite.

The more I read about it, the more I want to go there. Though I have never seen the movie, just the word, "Casablanca" weighs heavily on me. Tangiers is the city on the Straits of Gibralter, formally seen as the ends of the Earth...the more I read, the more I want to go there.

It seems like a place that has a good mix of everything- enough European country that it's nearly settled, and has easy ways to get around, but enough of that uncivilized wonder to the point where you could kill a man and get away with it.

I'd like to elaborate more on my feelings about this place, but I fail now. All I can say is that the more I read, the more I want to go.

Soon, I will be drinking with the Mediterranean to my back and the Sahara desert to my front.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


A couple of weeks ago I saw a movie called Second Hand Lions that may have had a profound and lasting affect on me. The premise of the thing is that a shady woman leaves her son in West Texas with two great Uncles while she goes to "school" in Las Vegas with her boyfriend. These two uncles have somehow come across a tremendous amount of money, and some say it is through their wild lifestyle that they acquired all this wealth, while most have no idea how it came to pass and just made up stories about how they got it. Either way, this mother, upon learning of this massive soon-to-be inheritance, decides to leave her teenage son with them for an extended time.

The moral reason for leaving him there was so he could have a positive male influence on his life; of course, as she drives away leaving the young lad with two strange men, she whispers, "See if you can find out where that money is" and takes off.

What the young man initially finds is two hardheaded old bastards (Robert Duvall and Michael Caine) who come off as horrifically callous and unbelievably crude. What he eventually realizes is that these two guys, especially Duvall's character, have lived more than anyone he will ever meet. Leaving Texas in 1914, they arrived in Europe shortly before World War I erupted. Instead of leaving the continent, as more sensible men might, they decide to try and stay a step ahead of the Kaiser, staying away from the wavering fronts at all times in their tour, but still enjoying Europe's elegant atmostphere. After a night of drunken revelries, they somehow become signed up with the French Foreign Legion and spend a good deal of time in the Middle East as brawling, wild Americans in a foreign land. As the movie continues, more and more is learned about the adventures that these two guys had back in the early days of the American century.

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Immediately after watching it, my mind drifted to the life that I am bound to lead. I realized that I have written so little in the past month because I have had nothing to write about. I read six or eight different books during the summer, and even they couldn't move me to any thoughts that I hadn't had before. What I need are the experiences, and the actually sights and sounds of these places.

I love the epic tales crossing continents, dimly lit bars in foreign lands where palm trees line the open windows and History weighs down heavily on those that tread there; conspiracies and money and lies and cigarette smoke and life, hard shots of odd whiskey that can take the stain off a table. If I am to write anything that will be remotely interesting and different, than I must lead a life that is interesting and different. That, unfortunately, does not mean moving out of Wayne, only so I can work for thirty years just to be able to afford moving back to Wayne; I'd rather burn that house with the picket fence down sooner than live in it.

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As I walked through Barnes and Nobles today, I realized what all of the books I read have in common- one man traveling across the country or the world, writing from a nonfiction perspective, about the people and places that they come across. One book was David Horowitz's Confederates in the Attic, where he delves into the odd world of those who are still obsessed with the Civil War by touring battlefields in the South with "hardcore" reenactors (a strange brood they are). Another was a book (which I already forgot the name of) about two college dropouts, one of which played poker, the other sold T-Shirts outside Fenway Park. They were so heartbroken by the Red Sox loss in the 2003 ALCS that they decided they were, in fact, losers, and that they had to get out in the they took the first flight to Baghdad. You Shall Know Our Velocity is another about two men in the streets of a far away African country; On The Road is a classic story of hitchhikers in the uptight American 1950's. A Star Called Henry and its sequel, Oh, Play That Thing, about an IRA hitman who must take to the sea for America after the Republicans turn on him...

I am seeing the trend my life is taking, and I don't like it. It seems like it may be too easy to get caught up in a regular job, getting benefits, getting paid well, and then end up never leaving New Jersey for the life I'm looking to lead, namely, that of a writer.

My world will be a world where I actually have something to write about that other people haven't often experienced. This blog may in fact be a vehicle to stay connected when I embark on this journey. What I can say is that I think it will happen at the end of next year sometime.

If anyone has any ideas for any interesting places to go, drop me a line.