Fireworks Stink

I’m pretty impervious to most things. Make fun of me or insult me? Whatever. Punch me in the face? Eh, it’s hurts but I’m not too beat up over it. Set off a series of loud sudden mini bombs and have them crackle and bang for what seems like hours after? Murderous rage. A lot about this country confuses me but nothing makes me want to take a knee more than Americas obsession with supercharged candles that spit fiery colors. Why does every event in the American summer have to conclude with them? This holiday, July 4th, is the perfect holiday. No matter what day it falls on, it’s an excuse to start drinking at 10am, eat hot dogs and burgers all day long and dress up in red white and blue. I participate in nothing patriotic ever, and every year on this one day I’ll ‘MERICA it up with the rest of you. It’s a truly amazing day. But FUCK whoever decided to ruin it by having it also be an excuse to blow up everything. Are we not in year 17 of a war with the sole purpose of stoping things from blowing up? If we truly want to “Make America Great” let’s do ourselves a favor and save our hands and fingers from being blown up, stick to bud lights and hot dogs, blast some Springsteen and enjoy one of the years great days without any heart attack inducing explosions.

Do Not Hug Your Friend After Striking Him Out

*This is apparently a few days old but I just saw it today*

Are you KIDDNG me? I don’t care how good of friends we are, I don’t care what we’ve been through in life together, do not, I repeat, do NOT, EVER, hug me after a strikeout. This could be Game 7 of the world series or a JV scrimmage. The fact that this kid did not beat the pitcher senseless is the truly amazing part here. I don’t wanna hear about sportsmanship, friendship, not a thing. This dickhead pitcher trying to be a good guy has now caused a video of his “friend” standing there in the box with his bat sitting right on his shoulder like a god damn parrot on a pirate. Thats bad enough. Then he’s gotta see himself get hugged in what turned out to be a statewide TV audience. Guess what buddy, you do that to me, we’re no longer friends. You just struck out my state championship dreams, then you gave me the last hug you’ll ever give me. I don’t think theres any way you come back from that as that hitter. Your friendship and now your baseball career are over. Welcome to the real world, bud.

Another Mental Health PSA

I set up this website and blog and podcast all in the name of comedy, so I won’t spend too much time on this. I just have a few thoughts.

In the wake of two pop culture icons taking their own life this week, your timelines and feeds have most likely been riddled with thoughtful tributes to the departed, most of which follow up with reminders that if you or a loved one seems to be experiencing these emotions, to address it and get the proper help. So allow me to reinforce that, yes you absolutely should do that. It is critical that you do that. Mental health has taken a backseat to physical health for the better part of history, and its been time for that to change. It’s a disease, and I honestly don’t know its cure. I’ve been open about my battles and my successes and, more often, my failures in treating it. I’ve been open about it for a number of reasons. One, it feels good. Not gonna beat around the bush about it. I feel relief in knowing that people know where I stand. I spend the early part of my battle very much bottled up and trying to self medicate, and that only proved to be more damaging. Another reason, and this one I don’t necessarily know if it does what I think it does, but I like to think that sharing my struggles may bring someone peace in knowing they’re not alone. Maybe it’ll give them the courage to speak up and seek the help they need. I don’t know. I like to think so though.

Anyway, enough about me, who is not the point of this piece. I don’t claim to have answers for anyone. It takes time. You need to find the right thing for you. I’ve been through a number of therapists before I finally found one I love and finally felt like I was making progress with, and that took me almost 10 years to do. I can’t even really say “just do what makes you happy and you’ll be fine”, because if you take a look at people like Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, they were people who were doing just that. We look at celebrities like these people who are immune to pain or criticize them for struggles because “they have everything, what do they have to be depressed about?”. Maybe they don’t have a particular “thing”, but they have a condition. Something that takes a costly toll on people when its not met head on. Thats not to say they weren’t doing that, but clearly it wasn’t enough in the end.

I feel like whenever the news breaks about a suicide, we all have a somber moment. In all the tragedies we’ve seen, whether its a school shooting or a lunatic driving a truck into a parade, we all get rightfully upset and disgusted, but we don’t feel the pain of that event. We can’t even fathom it so for the most part we’re just starting at the TV screen in disbelief. Particularly with the guns, we’ll even get right into the arguments about it and how we’re going to label it or who’s fault it is. But with something like a suicide, I think we all have this universal moment of reflection. I didn’t know Anthony Bourdain or Kate Spade. Or Robin Williams or Kurt Cobain, or any of the beautifully talented people who have lost the battle to themselves. But I know what they went through. I’ve been at the edge that they were ultimately thrusted over by this devastating condition. And we have this moment of somber unity because maybe you or someone you love has been there too. We all feel it when the reason for a tragedy is depression. Because despite your race, political affiliation, religion, etc., we can all relate to feeling hopeless and just thank heavens that we or the person we love had the strength to hold on, at least for now.

I’m proud of the way some of the world seems to be going when it comes to confronting this epidemic. And while I wish there were another way, I think it’s important to take events like these and try to produce a positive change in your life or someone else’s. Until we find a way to make everyone happy, just find a way to make sure people know you love them. And most importantly love yourself. If you don’t, find a way to get the help so you can. Stanley Kubrick once said, in so many words, “however vast the darkness, you must provide your own light”. It starts with you, it starts with everyone. Lets beat this thing.

I hope this made some sense to somebody.

I Almost Caught A Ball At A Baseball Game

For those of you who are loyal listeners of The O Show, you may recall that in episode 8 (if you haven’t listened to that or any of them, head over to iTunes and get on it), I ranted and raved about how I have been going to baseball games all of my life, hundreds at this point, and have never once left with a game ball. Not one of any kind. No foul balls, no pre-inning warmup balls, not even a batting practice ball if I got there early enough. I mean for fucks sake they just pass those things out during batting practice. Not to me though.

So yesterday my roommate and dear friend Anthony approached me with tickets to the upcoming Mets/Orioles game. As a Phillies fan, I had no dog in the fight but I love a good game and I have an Orioles hat that I happen to look really good in, so I happily accept his offer. After a subway ride to the game that included delays and, according to the MTA, “a customer struck by an oncoming train”, we arrived shortly after the first inning began. What got me particularly excited for the game, aside from my appearance in the hat, were our seats. 16 rows behind the third base side dugout. Prime ball territory. Maybe not for every foul ball, but prime territory for a flip into the crowd by a player who made the last out of the concluding half inning. With all the impending possibilities, my senses were heightened.

Fast forward to the third inning. I don’t remember who was hitting or what team it was, but who the fuck cares because thats not what matters. The unidentified batter fouls one up to the third base side. My eyes widen. But the dream quickly dwindles when I soon realize is trajectory is at least 10 rows behind us. But then, as if god himself heard my podcast, no one in the 10 rows behind us caught the ball. It landed in said row, but took a friendly bounce back toward the closer rows. Specifically, row 16, seat 8. Right at me. All of the sudden I was 12 years old again, still having hope for my life and for the world itself. While the ball was in the air time stood still. The stadium fell quiet. All eyes and lights were on me. My heartbeat was incalculable. My time had come. Nothing and nobody was getting in my way.

Until someone did.

My “roommate and dear friend” to my left in seat 9.

The blatant and shameful pass interference caused the ball to skim off my right index finger, plummet in to the seats, and bounce rows forward in to the unworthy hands of some hopeless Mets fan. The ball, gone. My Hope, Gone. I’m 22 again. Overweight, miserable, hopeless. The debate raged on as to who’s ball it actually was, with Anthony believing it was his to make a play on. It was mine, and only mine. And I let it slip through my fingers like a good opportunity.

I will never get that moment back, and I believe that may really have been my only chance. The beauty of life is that you do get those opportunities, with the kicker being they only come once.

So I leave yet another game, ball-less and hopeless, and now I wait for the next big moment life throws me that will inevitably skim off my finger.

It’s Time To Put Bacon In Its Place

The internet is a place of trends. Wether it’s a dress, a dance, a meme, you can almost recount history and remember where you were based on what viral sensation was all over our timelines and feeds at a given point. For instance, the world famous black/blue/gold/white dress was peaking in March of 2015 and I remember this because that was the month I dropped out of college, shortly after someone gave a full length presentation on the phenomenon in my communications. And these trends seemingly have no end, until the next thing comes along and you forget it ever existed. It’s the beauty of the internet, no one thing is too big for its vast and countless opportunities for the next big thing.

Except for one.

One trend that seems to be picking up steam with every video on Facebook that features some swanky new spot in New York City or every single recipe video out there. Mother fucking bacon. I want to say this before I go any further, I like bacon. It tastes good. It’s a nice option to have for breakfast or a cheese burger. But here is my gripe: not everything is made better by adding bacon to it. I’m sorry, it’s just not. I am so sick and tired of the bacon craze. I’ve said this before and will say it now for all of you to hear, the baconization of America has been and will continue to be its downfall. I know we have more important issues to confront and take care of in this country, but lets nip this one in the bud early so we can focus on that important stuff. The other day on Facebook I saw a video of someone making bacon s’mores. BACON S’MORES. This innovation would “change s’mores forever” they said. No it won’t. All you did was take a perfectly fine sweet treat and wrap it in pig back fat and called yourself a genius. You are NOT a culinary mastermind if what you’ve contributed to the field is taking something that already exists and replaced a key part of it with bacon, or simply added bacon to it. Bacon puts asses in the seats, I understand that. But America, I beg of you, wake up and do not be blinded by the endless fad that is pig ass.

It’s a real shame to me too because the pig is such a versatile animal when it comes to cooking. We hold the fat, greasy bacon up on a pedestal but we forget how much the swine truly has to offer us. For instance, as far as barbecue food goes, the pig is simply unmatched. I’ll put BBQ pork ribs and pulled pork at the very top of any typical barbecue menu above things like brisket and barbecue chicken. A well prepared pork chop may not beat out a fine cooked steak, I’m not that insane, but against a roasted chicken? I’ll have the chop please and thank you. As for breakfast, the next time you head to the deli for a bacon egg and cheese, I highly recommend making the switch to sausage. Not only is it tastier, but its more volume, giving you a bigger and more satisfying breakfast. I have personally boycotted bacon at the breakfast table for years now.

To conclude, my goal here is not to eradicate bacon from the world. It DOES have it’s place in the world. That place just isn’t mixed in with every conceivable dish we come up with. I think that together this country can make a real difference if we all come together and take part in the de-baconization. If we as a nation see that we can work together on an issue as pressing as this, just imagine the possibilities. America, put bacon back in its place.

We Are So Goddamn Lucky

As predicted, and as it should be, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors are in the finals. Again. This matchup, now in its fourth installment, has been met with much dissent by basketball fans across the nation. To those fans, I ask: what the fuck are you complaining about?

The Warriors are the best team in basketball history. Theres really no solid argument to the contrary. This is the most talented core we’ve ever seen in basketball, and possibly all of sports. They’re just so goddamn good, that the coach just says “fuck it” and lets the players do the coaching for a quarter here and there. Where else have you seen that? Their reign of terror has really only lasted these past four seasons, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but it sure does feel like a very long time since we weren’t 100% sure they’d win the finals or at the very least be there, doesn’t it? And while some find it repetitive and boring to see the same faces and hear the same names called year after year, I find it to be exhilarating knowing that I’m watching the game played at its absolute best by some of its best players. I ask myself, is there anything in basketball as exciting as this? is there any team or player that makes this sport as fun to watch as this team?

Yes.

The Philadelphia 76ers.

But they’re not here right now, so we’ll go with the next best thing.

LeBron James. The greatest basketball player ever. If you think anything else, especially if you’re my age, you are an idiot. You’re so caught up in hating him for “The Decision” and how you’d NEVER leave your team with an owner who you hated in a city like Cleveland to go play with your friends in Miami for a lot more money. Yep, you’re such a TEAM GUY that you’d never do that, and therefore you’ve looked at LeBron through a clouded lens and watch too many highlight videos of an old man with gambling debts jump over far inferior athletes and declared him the greatest. And then there are the Kobe people, who I dismiss entirely. ANYWAY. LeBron did come back to Cleveland and thus they are in the finals yet again. A team that without him, would certainly be looking to trade away the #1 pick they just received in the lottery. I mean holy shit are they bad. But, they’re here. Competing for a championship. Why? Because when you have the best player ever, that’s where your team goes.

So we have two very different teams here. The Warriors, at their core, have not changed all that much since the first installment of this matchup in 2015. All they really did was add arguably the second greatest player ever to their already dominant team. Also managed to fill their supporting roles as perfectly as a team could do along the way. As for the Cavs, yikes. Yes, much of their “core” still exists, but with the exception of LeBron, this “core” is really a shell of its former self, and the role players added along the way just never worked out the way it was supposed to, aka, they just stunk. The second best player took a better offer and left the team, so LeBron is left with little to work with. And yet, here we are.

Game 1 in Oakland. Seemingly a lock for the hosting Warriors. And what did we get? A true shootout. The best team ever and the best player ever battling it out. While it ended in defeat for the king due to a costly blunder by one of his hazier teammates, you cant help but walk away from that game thinking, “holy shit, this really is the best series we can get”.

As I write this, Game 2 is two hours from tipping. I can’t wait to sit down and not watch the Celtics against the Rockets. I’m gonna watch the NBA Finals, where I am so lucky that I get to see this happening, and you are too. We all are. Whatever your take is now, you’re going to be telling your kids about how we had (at least) four straight years of this matchup.

The Cheesesteak Experience

One night a few years ago, I had my friend Devin over for dinner. It was an NFL Sunday and I was making cheesesteaks. I prepared one for him and myself and afterwards I asked him how he liked it. “It was very good”, he said. He then asked “so why do I have to go all the way to philly just to have this same thing?”. My answer wasn’t one I put much thought in to, as it was a difficult one to make. On the one hand I’m not about to sit here and discredit the fine work I had just done, but I’m the other I wasn’t about to put my replica on the same pedestal as the definitive dish of my birth town. All I could come up with was:

“Because, you just do”.
His question was a valid one, although I haven’t thought about it for years. Why SHOULD he, a Long Islander, hop in his car and drive 200 miles through treacherous roads like the LIE and the Belt Parkway, before inching across the Verrazano and Goethals bridges, fight through the hell that is the Jersey Turnpike, to eventually arrive in Philadelphia, frazzled from the war on the roads, just to eat what, at its core, is simply minced meat and cheese whiz on an Italian hoagie roll?
To answer the question I’m going to have to take you on a journey with me to South 9th street and East Passyunk Avenue in Philadelphia. The two streets intersect with one another and at its center, the two landmarks of Philadelphia cuisine. On one side, you’re surrounded by the orgy of neon lights that is Geno’s. With its enormous sign and walls lined with photos of famous customers and badges honoring police officers in and around Philadelphia, the restaurant is a true homage to the city. Across the street on the Passyunk side, a much less ostentatious and less frilled spot. Although it’s appearance is more modest, Pats King of Steaks seems to know exactly what it is.
Okay so now we’re at Pats and Genos. If you’re from the Philadelphia area you’ve on multiple occasions been asked which one you prefer. If you’re not from the area, let me save you the time of bothering someone and just tell you the differences. Aside from the appearance of both spots as I just described, Pats has red tables and benches out front and Geno’s tables and benches are orange. Also Pats meat seems to me like it’s a little more finely chopped and Geno’s has a softer roll. But that’s just me.
Alright. So back to the question. WHY have I taken you here. Now that we’re here let’s plop ourselves in the month of January. It’s a freezing cold night and there’s no reason for you to be out waiting outside on line for a sandwich, and yet it makes all the sense in the world. It’s January and it’s a late night, you’ve had a few drinks and so have the groups or people coming from the Sixers game that just ended. Most likely they’re celebrating a win, and the whole street is excited. Someone in a Brian Westbrook jersey is yelling obscenities at you and your friends and families all around, but that’s all part of the charm. After waiting your turn you get to the window, “one whiz with” you ask. Quick side note, this is how you order. You simply say what you want on it. They only sell cheesesteaks, you don’t need to let them know that’s what you came for. So by going up to the window and saying “whiz with”, you’re saying “Hello Sir/Madam, I’d like one of your finest cheesesteaks with cheese whiz and grilled onions on it”. Very Simple. Anyway, you order your sandwich and in no time it’s in your hands. You head over to your table, sit, and open the wrap. And there it is. You’re greeted by a foot of finely minced beef, cascaded by liquid gold and all hugged together in a soft, squishy hoagie roll. You take your first bite and for a moment, the chill of the night is washed away. You’ve got a smudge of whiz on your upper lip, and a stream of cheese and grease begins to flow on your fingers and down to the paper from which the sandwich came. “Oh no!” you think as you see this puddle grow, “Im losing all my cheese!”. Fear not, because as you get to about the half way point of your cheesesteak you’ll realize this puddle is your ally, and you will dip your next bite in to it for even more gluttonous flavor. In the midst of all this you may notice a playground next to you. During the day, this park is filled with the young minds of the city as they swing, slide and shoot hoops. But this is the night time, and you realize that whatever activities going on in there are probably that of Philadelphia’s prosperous.. uhm… “off the books” economy. But guess who doesn’t care? You. You’ve got your cheesesteak and thats all that matters in the world.
If you’re still wondering what I’m getting at, you’re probably a New Yorker. Let me put this in terms you may understand. While Philadelphia is my birth town, I did grow up on Long Island. I live in Queens. I know a good slice of pizza from a bad one. You may have heard me on my podcast talk about how you can find a good slice anywhere (if you have not, go ahead and download and subscribe to The O Show on iTunes), and I was right, you can! But why is a slice from New York so highly regarded? because there’s an experience to it. Mozzarella, tomato sauce and bread put together is good wether its from 7/11 or from the best spot in Manhattan. You’re gonna like it. What you chase after is the experience, which is what going to Philly for a cheesesteak is. Cheese whiz, chopped beef and a hoagie roll is going to be good every time. If you get too food critic-y about it you’re gonna miss the point. Here let me explain, for this past super bowl, which was won by the Philadelphia Eagles, I again made cheesesteaks for my girlfriend and I. She said they were very good, but it was nothing like the steaks we had as Genos this past weekend when we travelled down there. Not because of the taste, but because there’s something about waiting in that line, having it made for you by a native Philadelphian, sitting at those tables and going through the exact journey I took you on before. This is a city that is proud of its food. Its proud of it’s people. So by having me make you a cheesesteak you may get to taste a little bit of what that is like, but to feel that, to feel  that pride and like you’re a part of this, you have to go there.
So to answer your question Dev, why do you have to go all the way to Philly just to try this?
Because, you just do.