Sunday, June 27, 2010

Guest Blogger John Heydinger: Notes from the Last Frontier, pt.2

John Heydinger (pictured) is a fellow '08 Carleton grad and a native of St. Paul, MN. John was my Freshman year roommate and has been one of my best friends ever since. An avid naturalist, he has trekked the world immersed in the bush (fucking giggle). He recently spent last Summer/Fall leading trips for Round River Conservation in Namibia, helping college students track Rhinos in Africa. Since late May, John has been stationed somewhere in Alaska, tagging grizzly bears on the ground and tracking via helicopter. When not being a bad-ass, John enjoys watching basketball, reading great works of philosophy, and eating/making a mean nachos. When his Dad took a look at the name-card of his roomate pre-freshman year, his reply was, "Oh, a Jew!"

This is the second in a series of notes from his Alaska journey. Enjoy.


I started the night thinking about poetry as genre and the role, or lack-thereof, it plays in my life.

On the eve of President Johnson's announcement that he would not seek re-election, peace candidate and Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy was said to have remarked, "tonight is a night for poetry." Though he was esteemed a dangerous man for the position of president by Bobby Kennedy, McCarthy was, to say the least, one of the most liberally educated men in government and would have lent a very different tenor to the presidency than the election's eventual winner, or, really any of the men who have held the office since. (That he was at the time and remained always a long shot is not of my concern.) But this is not about the presidency, nor is it about Eugene McCarthy.

I have thought for sometime that an appreciation of poetry is really a mark of someone with a well-rounded education and exhibits an appreciation for the written word and human experience in a certain vein. And I can state unequivocally about myself that this is not an appreciation that has taken root within me. What strikes me about McCarthy's reaction from that March night is simply how I cannot imagine reacting to any event, either large or small, that would cause me to call upon the genre of poetry for response. For some reason this has especially bothered me, as though I am lacking some fundamental sympathy.

Earlier today I was in the Moose Pass library and came across the collected works of Robert Service. What I knew about Service was limited to his love of the Northlands and prolific output - this much was confirmed by the volume's scanty cover-flap biography. As I was otherwise in the dark I wanted to check out the work to, first, see what the fuss was about and second, give poetry another shot.

Yet at the second point I came up short, thinking that it would just sit on the table because I can never screw myself up to sit down and read poetry. I generally feel that I just don't "get it." With time on my hands in the admittedly sleepy town of Moose Pass I gave it a shot.

Fast-forward to that night. I was feeling a bit anxious about many things and opened my freshly borrowed collection of Service poems:

Ye who know the Lone Trail fain would follow it,
Though it lead to glory or the darkness of the pit.
Ye who take the Lone Trail, bid your love good-by;
The Lone Trail, the Lone Trail follow till you die.

Among other subjects Service primarily tackles man's desire to wander and be set apart from that which drives us mad. For me it is always comforting to know that others have wrestled with the same angles that I encounter. It seems that I have wanted to feel from poetry that it could speak to certain aspects of my spirit.

Tonight, a kernel was found in Robert Service.
Perhaps I have my in-road to poetry.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

On Being Nice

Fuck you guys!

How did that feel, friends? Did it feel like a hug in the face, or a kick the soul? My bet is whatever it is, it didn't feel good. You know why? It wasn't very nice.

Hey Max! Dat wah'nt vewy nice!

Last Wednesday evening, my friend Josh K. and I arrived at a local bar to enjoy a couple of Ice Cream Sundaes after doing an hour of fantastic two-man improvisational comedy. We were famished, and really wanted to kick back and enjoy the success we had accrued with each other, in front of each other. As we approached the bar, which I'll pseudonym-ly call, "The Red Factory," Fortune delivered us two early Channukah presents. The first was that it was a beautiful, clear evening. The second was that The Red Factory had comfortable outdoor seating.

Josh and I decided that the best way to enjoy ice cream success was outside, our feet kicked up, enjoying the summer breeze and each other's continued company. Calmly and inquisitively, we sought the simplicity of a table and two chairs. We scoured the Factory's sidewalk seating, searching for even the smallest nook where we could park ourselves. I remind you, just the two of us. Looking for one table, two chairs, and a couple of Ice Cream Sundaes.

Curses! All tables were occupied.

Up and down the street we walked, searching for a spare chair here, an unused table tucked away there. No luck. We were about to give up and accept an indoor air-conditioned fate when low and behold appeared two tables set up side-by-side horizontally. On the left-hand table sat two apparently lovely women. On the left hand table (with accompanying chairs), no one!

What luck!

Hmmm, so one might think. We had encountered a somewhat awkward situation. Social norms prevented us from simply parking it at this table, since it was technically connected to the table these two ladies occupied, and thus the whole apparatus could be considered "their table." However, given the circumstances and our strong desire for outdoor Sundae Time, we decided to throw caution to the wind and offer a compromise. Assuming the second table was unoccupied, we approached cautiously and offered this:

"Excuse us, ladies. Would you mind if we moved your table slightly over and sat there? We promise we won't bother you, we just really want to sit outside and noticed that no one is sitting at your adjacent table."

I want you all to closely read what ensued, because it was hard for me to believe as I lived it.

"We won't make it awkward," I said half-jokingly.

The girl with the purple hair, half-smoked clove cigarette, and bad attitude replied,

"You already did."

This was, proverbially, not the half of it.

What followed was, I can honestly say, the greatest, boldest, most honest move of pure dickery probably since Brutus decided to gather his buddies and fucking kill Caesar.

Looking down and with disgust in her beaty little eyes, she kicked the table towards us, reminiscent of how one would throw a quarter at a begger's feet out of pure spite. She fuck you-ed us not with any words, but with a simple and complete motion of undistilled assholocity. Kicked the table at us, folks.

Her words and actions are best illustrated by a combination of this:

and this:

Nothing more was said.

Josh and I were so astounded, we could say nothing but walk away.


(from here on out, this post will include alerts)

Almost immediately, the couple seated directly in front of these girls, with the same empty-table situation, offered us seats at their empty table.

"You can sit with us, guys!"


Once we were situated, our server, Kathy, asked for our order. We ordered two Vanilla Sundaes with chocolate sauce and cherries.

"Sure thing guys. We don't have chocolate sauce or cherries, and we might not have ice-cream."

"Oh, really. Well, that's fine, we'll just have-"

"But I'll make you them. Don't worry, I'll find something and make you a couple of Sundaes."


They were so delicious, we ordered two. And gave her a huge tip.

And so I am led to the thrust of this post:

people can, should, and must, be nice.

people should be nice.
people should be nice.
people, nice, should be.
be nice, people. Ya should.

Why did the first woman at the table treat us the way she did? What struck her, at that moment, to make the choice towards the dark side of social interaction? Was it something that we said? I can't possibly believe that, since I am neither exaggerating nor embellishing the politeness of our inquiry to them.

Was she having a particularly bad day? Perhaps. Does this excuse such behavior?

Is this how she was raised? Did she grow up in a family of dicks, and she knows no other way? I suppose, but I noticed that she had a friend with her. She has a friend! At least one, perhaps one who shares her interest in being an absolute fuckwad, but a friend nonetheless.

Antisemitic? She didn't know our last names.

simply enough, I just believe she wasn't being nice. for the sake of not being nice.

The energy she expended being not nice in that situation greatly exceeded that which was required to be nice. A simple "sure", or even a head nod, would have been a nice gesture, and we would have sat down and enjoyed our evening, separately and on good terms. Instead, she pressed the Turbo button on her bitch reserves, shifted into high gear, and kicked that fucking table perilously towards my Birkenstock-clad, and thus vulnerable, foot.

Please allow me to pause and present an historical list of individuals, in no particular order:

Ghengis Khan. Jay Leno. Hitler. Nero. The dude who came up with The Middle Passage. Richard Nixon. The dude whose idea it was for the Vietname war. Alex Rodgriguez. Sarah Palin. Judas.
Henry VIII. Carrot Top. Joseph Stalin. Andrew Dice Clay. Ashton Kutcher. Ivan Drago. Stephon Urkell. Scar. The dude who moved the Dodgers from Brooklyn to LA. P. Diddy. Celine Dion. Mother Theresa.

All huge, throbbing dicks. Assholes. Cocksuckers. Cunts. Bitches. Fuckwads. Douches.

I know what you're thinking. I know, I know. Maybe not Hitler.

Why are people assholes.

People should be nice.

I've been called an asshole a lot in my life. A lot of people think I'm not a nice person, or haven't been nice in the past. This I accept and probably would agree with sometimes.

You know what, we're all human and sometimes we just are not nice.

But we don't have to be, and should never have to be. I've been making a conscious effort in my life to be direct, clear, blunt, but nice. Polite. Considerate. Friendly. With a smile on my face as much as I can.

Oftentimes my not-nice-ness has been assumed due to my being from New York City. This is an incredibly off-base stereotype. From personal experience, I say to you that not all New Yorkers are assholes. In fact, most aren't. There is nothing inherently asshole about New York, or New Yorkers. We are as nice as the general population. Are we in a hurry a lot? Yes. Are there aspects of living in that city that make us grumpy, like traffic and chronic poverty due to overpriced everything? Yes. But I've known lots of nice New Yorkers, some mean ones too. But it's not, NOT, a New York thing to be not-nice.

And, of course, I'd be remiss in not addressing this whole "Minnesota Nice" thing. That too is an incredibly off-base stereotype. Simply doesn't exist. Minnesotans are nice, and Minnesotans are not nice. All in the same ratio as the general population. The passive aggressive thing is also a stereotype, as that trait affects the population as a whole as well.

In fact, I hate the notion of geographically associated moods or levels of friendliness. It bothers me that because I'm a NYer, it is assumed that I'm a jerk and because you're a Minnesotan, you're assumed to be nice or passive. Come on!

My friend Jill Bernard posted here a few weeks back that something she likes about living here in Minnesota is that people smile at you when you pass them in the street. I enjoy this as well. Everywhere. It's a nice thing that some people do.

I like it when people smile. I like it when people give you compliments, and offer to hold the door for you, or carry stuff for you, or understand but don't say anything when stuff goes wrong.

I like helping people out. I like putting my hand on someone's shoulder just cuz I like them. I like encouraging people, telling them honestly when I think they've done something I disagree with. I like listening and being listened to. I like when people make eye contact with me.

Big hugs are nice, and kisses are nice.

Having sex with someone is a nice thing to do; of course, under a highly restricted set of circumstances.

Being a dick is so easy and so mean.

I hate it when people ignore what you're saying. I hate it when people disregard what you say, or enter conversations with assumptions or stereotypes. I hate when people look away when you're talking with them, when they make stupid jokes at someone else's expense. I hate when people don't say thank you.

This is getting long. Let's all try and be nice, even if we're faking it. That's okay with me, actually. I'd rather you fake being nice than actually be a fucking dick.

All of this being said, these are some of my favorite asshole things that are said:

go fuck yourself.

blow it out your ass!

blow your ass!

go blow your ass!

lick my balls.

stick it in your ass.

shut the fuck up, you.


i'd love to. but i hate you.

you suck at that.

go shit in your hat.

(that thing you just said) ass!

you can blow me.

suck a nut.

The iPhone sucks and I don't have one but I still just know it sucks and AT&T sucks. I know all of this but I don't have one.

suck a bone.

We only have Pepsi, no Coke, sorry.

suck a hole.

eat a dick.

piss on your (thing).

go bake a cake with that.

what do you want me to do with this (usually a piece of paper), wipe my ass?

I'll wipe my ass with this.

Seriously, you only have Pepsi? I'll just take a water, then. Go fuck yourself.

i politely disagree with you.

you, sir/madame, have erred.

i believe you're wrong.

quit bein' a douche.

quit bein a douche rag.

you're a dick.

You're so awkward.

You're so random.

You are ridiculous.


Do you know how fast your were going?

you're being a dick.

fuck yourself in the ass.

Oh, you do improv? Do some improv for me right now!

i really, really just fucking hate you.

That's about it, I think. For now.

Thank you for reading today.

I've now seen these "party buses" driving up and down Hennepin several times over the last three weeks, and here's what I've noticed:
1. You need to have passed an MCAT-level difficulty exam of Douchebag Studies in order to ride on one of those things.
2. You must be fearless in shouting out stupid shit at people trying to drive or walk on the street while reading one of those things. Probably covered in the training course for #1.
3. You must have the worst job in the world to have to soberly be paid what must be minimum wage to drive those douche-mobiles around. Probably a pre-requisite is auditing one of the classes of #2.
4. I seethe with anger just looking at one. Even parked, with nobody in it, because I know those guys were in it at one point and will be in it again.
5. Some buses should Suddenly Explode sometimes.

I love my new job. More on that later.

PS 3
At Chino Latino, they legit cook and serve Guinea Pig. Putter says, "Fuck you, Chino Latino!"

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Social Media Hierarchy

Note: I will be live-tweeting the writing of this blog post.

My friend Jason told me in late April that I was "kicking ass on the internet right now." This is quite a compliment. Why? Allow me to illustrate with some analogy:

That's like He-Man saying, "your biceps are kicking ass right now."

That's like LeBron James saying, "your crossover is kicking ass right now."

That's like Walt Whitman saying, "your seminal work, Leaves of Grass, is kicking ass right now."

That's like Henry Winkler saying, "your 'eyyyyyy', is kicking ass right now."

That's like Stephen Hawking saying "your conception of the Universe is kicking ass right now.

That's like TJ and Dave saying, "your two-man improv show is kicking ass right now."

That's like Optimus Prime saying, "the way you're leading the Autobots is kicking ass right now."

That's like Hitler saying, "your unprecedented genocide yet complete and utter failure at world domination is kicking ass right now."

That's like Sir Ian McKellen and Elton John both saying, "your Gay-British artistic career is kicking ass right now."

That's like God saying, "your omnipotence is fucking kick ass right now."

I hope at least one of those illuminates my point. My friend Jason rules the internet. He knows virtually all the cool websites, is all over social media, and essentially knows how the Web will continue to dominate the world in the coming decades. I look to him as the online oracle, a streaming prophet, if you will. I sometimes ask him how to Google things just so I can hear his answer.

I believe he gave me the aforementioned extreme-to-the-max compliment because of my recent embrace of social media in the last several months. Indeed, I have been utilizing Facebook, Twitter, and this blog incessantly, updating statuses, commenting on wall posts, and bloggin' like a blogger in heat.

And I love it! Keep in mind, folks, that this is a guy (me) who was off Facebook for almost two years; I thought Twitter was completely stupid and inane; I considered a blog an online self-administered handjob.

But after returning to Facebook late last year, opening up a Twitter account in February, and starting this blog soon after, I am indeed a social media whore. AND, DID I MENTION, LOVING IT?! I just think it's great. Why the hell not connect with people in an entirely different universe? Many would debate whether the online discourse holds more or less portent, and consequences, than real-world interaction. Jesus, I'm not sure what that last sentence meant, but my point is that we all think of the online world differently. What I think we do agree on, however, is that while the internet culture is different than our real-life one, the two been integrated into society and we cannot go back. This is a terrifying and exciting concept, and so I have decided to jump in Tweet first.

I do three things:

1. Blog 2. Facebook 3. Twitter

I am so glad I listed them in that order. This is because that enumeration leads me into the main focus of this post: hierarchy. Now, hierarchy could denote several things, but I am going to focus mainly on the vague concept of "importance."

If we define online communication "importance" as the stuff we and our peers care about, then I believe the order of Blog, then Facebook, and then Twitter is a fitting hierarchy. Allow me to explain the merits of these in reverse order of importance.

What a concept! Here's a social forum that is the online equivalent of millions of people standing under one roof, each with a megaphone, shouting phrases of less than 140 characters, to anyone who will listen! And if you'd like, you can put on special headphones that will only listen to those you want to listen to, and use a special microphone to only talk to the people you want. Brilliant. I say this in complete earnest.

A lot of people tell me that Twitter is worthless. Just blah, blah, blah, who cares, right? That's right! Who cares? Who cares is the point of Twitter. Honestly, I do not read most of the Tweets that are delivered to me. Most of the ones I read, I don't care about. But herein lies the beauty: every once in a while, I'll see a Tweet, and love it. I'll be interested. I'll laugh. Some examples of this:

I follow Snoop Dogg, and I recommend you all do too. The other morning I woke up and Snoop rolled out, "What it do my Twizzles?" I mean...that's just amazing.

I follow Levar Burton. The guy is really endearing. I don't really read most of his stuff, but he often will say shit like, "Helped an old lady cross the street, reaffirms the beauty of life and everybody pitching in." Wonderful, Lavar! I'm happy for him and his career, wherever that is.

Also, I believe the above picture of Levar was taken as he was actually composing and sending a Tweet, using that eyepiece apparatus.

LL Cool J inspires me on Twitter. He motivates me to be a better man and Emcee. The other day: "Follow your heart, but be quiet for a while first. Ask questions, then feel the answer. Learn to trust your heart." I re-tweet him often, and copy-paste his messages into my own personal diary where they'll stay forever. Mama said knock you out, with inspiration.

See what I mean? The beauty of Twitter is there are literally, no stakes. Sure, a lot of people will Tweet, "eating delicious sandwich. mmm" But honestly, if someone said that in real life, would you care, or would it even bother you that much? Not really. So you set that aside, and just live your life, waiting for the occasional diamond in the rough. Twitter is no pressure. No one cares unless they want to.


Everybody does it, and for good reason. It's a great way to just fucking connect with your friends. And it's a damn good thing it exists, because otherwise we'd have to see people so much more than we do now. I wasn't a big fan of the News Feed when it came out, but now, like Twitter, I've learned to ignore what I don't care for.

If you think about it, social media is like doing pushups for your ignoring muscles.

The thing about Facebook is that the stakes are higher. You are seen and heard only by people you care about, or at least know even in the most passing sense. A Facebook account has more class, is more personal, is more reflective of your actual personality. Status updates are, hopefully, far less frequent than Tweets. People seem to take Facebook communication more seriously, and that's why I'd rank it higher in "importance" than Twitter.

1. Blog

Your journal! Your diary! But public. Unless your blog is about stupid shit, it's really important, and the readers of your blog know that. You don't blog that you have an itch on your balls. If you did, no one would read your blog, and that means no one cares what you think. Notice how, in the case of Twitter, the point is that no one cares what you think. But when you're bloggin', you want the respect, you want the love. I feel like I blog stuff that I like and want you to like, and so I rate it highest in importance.

So. Isn't this all pretty interesting? Three different kinds of social media, each with totally different conventions, yet each with the same goal: connection. As I continue to be medially social, I am aware of this trichotomy and observe it as we move closer and closer towards a world where we exist only to type to each other and too see another human being in the flesh is far less common than seeing the Albino squirrel.

Thanks for reading today.

Foursquare is complete bullshit. But don't take my word for it, try it yourself. I did it for all of one day and quit immediately. I don't need to "check in" anywhere, and neither do you. It's creepy. And if I want to Tweet or Fbook, I'll just do that. Let's leave FourSquare to our memories of recess in 4th grade. (Which by the way I dominated, and forgot to include in my list of athletic accomplishments.

For the fourth time in about two weeks, somebody told me that my speaking voice is almost identical to John Mayer's. I've checked on it, and I think it might be true. Decide for yourself. Tomorrow I am calling up Jen Aniston for a late-night booty call, and we'll really find out what's what. I like my chances, considering I plan on mentioning that her body is, in fact, a wonderland.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Guest Blogger John Heydinger: Notes from the Last Frontier, pt.1

John Heydinger is a fellow '08 Carleton grad and a native of St. Paul, MN. John was my Freshman year roommate and has been one of my best friends ever since. An avid naturalist, he has trekked the world immersed in the bush (fucking giggle). He recently spent last Summer/Fall leading trips for Round River Conservation in Namibia, helping college students track Rhinos in Africa. Since late May, John has been stationed somewhere in Alaska, tagging grizzly bears on the ground and tracking via helicopter. When not being a bad-ass, John enjoys watching basketball, reading great works of philosophy, and eating/making a mean nachos. When his Dad took a look at the name-card of his roomate pre-freshman year, his reply was, "Oh, a Jew!"

This is the first in a series of notes from his Alaska journey. Enjoy.

Very recently I've gotten into distance running.

I thought remote Alaska would be the perfect place to get some good running in. Trails abound near our base and because the sun essentially never completely sets there is ample time after work to fit in a two hour run. Now, I am up here specifically to look for Grizzly Bears, therefore I am well aware of their presence and potential danger. I also know that locals up here do not recommend hiking alone, running in the woods (as it stimulates the bears' prey response) or being quiet while you are hiking. Trail running by myself would be doing all of these things - and its a pain in the ass to carry bear spray.

So I'm out for probably my third or fourth run since I arrived and feeling pretty good having passed the two hour mark. I'm barreling down a hill of reasonable steepness and really focusing on finishing the run strong. As I come around a corner I am about twenty-five feet from a 500-600 lb. male Grizzly sniffing after me up the trail. I've thought about situations like this before and how I would handle it, and now I can give a definitive answer. The best description I can give for the noise I made is something like one of the sand people from Star Wars being strangled. Something kind of like a guttural, "HUAH!" Luckily, I saw Yogi at the same time as he saw me and was surprised to see something running towards him and making sand people noises. The big fella took one look at me and booked it down the trail the other way.

After collecting my heart from my feet and checking my shorts I tracked the bear, slowly, down the trail until I was sure that he had veered off in another direction and away from me. I was lucky in a number of ways, not least of all that we saw each other at the same time. Now, I want to keep trail running, yet every time I go out hiking I seem to come across another bear. Maybe I'll run on the road for a while.

And I'm getting a handgun.

Till next time. Its easy to keep on the sunny side when it never sets.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Athletics, Pt.2: Famous Jewish Sports Stars, Me Included

OK, so back to sports. Sports, sports sports.

I was born in the year 1985, to two Jewish parents, who were the children of more Jewish parents, and back and back along the way to the ultimate First Jew, who I guess was Jesus' dad, God. I digress, but what I am trying to illustrate is that I come from Jewish blood. Hence the title of this blog. My Jewish identity comes with many cultural norms. Those do not include physical strength, agility, or athletic prowess. Not at all.

One of my favorite lines in the movie "Airplane" comes when an elderly woman, sitting in one of the aisles of the plane, asks for some reading material for the flight. The stewardess replies, "Here, we have this pamphlet: "Famous Jewish Sports Stars." The pamphlet is literally as thick as two loose leaf sheets. I think that's about right.

I'd like to name some of these aforementioned Jewish Sports stars. Let's start with basketball. Interestingly, the NBA began with a league comprised of mostly Jewish players. This is because at the time the NBA was founded, the mid 1940's, the players of the sport were mostly composed of the lower economic classes of society. The street people. At that time, Jews were just in the warm-up stage of taking over the world, and controlling all the money, and were in fact pretty poor, particularly in New York City, where basketball was mostly played. And so the first New York Knicks basketball team was composed almost entirely of Jewish players. The most famous Jewish athlete I can think of from that era was Red Holtzman, who played for the Knicks and won the Rookie of the Year in 1948, going on to become a legendary head coach for the franchise. Going down the historical line we have Dolph Shayes, an unreasonably tall Jew who played center, and whose son, Dan, also played in the 90's. All the rest of the Jews have since become general managers.

Football? Yeesh. Sid Luckman is probably the most famous, a quarterback for the Chicago Bears in the 40's, considered by most to be the best Jewish player in NFL history. The picture to the right is of Sid at his Bar Mitzvah. He came ready to play. More recently, Mike Rosenthal played for the Giants for several seasons as an offensive lineman. And of course, who could forget:

There has never been a Jewish hockey player ever.

And of course, baseball. I could not in good conscience start anywhere but Sandy Koufax, our hero. Sandy Koufax (born Sanford Braun) was a Hall of Fame pitcher for the LA Dodgers in the 60's. His most famous moment was sitting out Game 1 of the 1965 World Series against the Minnesota Twins, in observance of Yom Kippur, during which Jews don't work or eat all day. I assume he also sat out the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating contest held that day. This was a seminal moment in Jewish Sports History; an athlete sitting out perhaps the most important game of his career in religious observance. He made Jews happier than if they were to suddenly come upon a mountain of toasted poppyseed bagels in the middle of the desert. After sitting out Game 1, Koufax pitched 7 solid innings in Game 2, which the Dodgers lost. Notably, the Dodgers ended up beating the Twins in seven games, with Koufax winning Game 7 on two days rest. This began a long history of Minnesotans getting totally pwned by Jews.

Other notable Jew baseball players included Hank Greenberg, and more recently, Shawn Green, Gabe Kapler, and Alex Rodriguez.

Oh! Almost forgot! Mark Spitz, legendary swimmer, whose record of 7 gold medals was recently eclipsed by some fucking stoner.

This leads me to the most famous Jewish Sports star of all:


As mentioned, I grew up playing sports a lot. Even in the big city, I found fields to play baseball, soccer, even flag football. Of course, there were plenty of basketball courts around. I would play tennis in the Central Park courts, and biked a lot. I roller-bladed and even dabbled in roller hockey.

My athletic career began in earnest at the Upper West Side Children's Athletic Training Society, abbreviated CATS. Yeah, I didn't realize how gay that abbreviation was at the time. At age 7, I was thrilled to arrive at an old building on West 73rd street, the basement of which had been turned into an all-purpose indoor fieldhouse, where we played b-ball, soccer, and baseball. It was awesome. Wait, actually, before that I attended the Columbus Gym on 89th and Columbus, a few blocks from my apartment, where as a pre-schooler I dabbled in gymnastics. I was the semitic Nastia Liukin, alright.

I went to a summer camp, Camp Mah-Kee-Nac (pronounced mackinack) in the Berkshires. While activities at this camp were mostly sports, I was relieved to discover that almost the entire camper population was made up of other Jewish kids from the Tri-State area (NY, NJ, CT). I will get into how much I hated kids from NJ and Long Island in another post, but I fucking still hate those kids.

So by age 13, I was pretty good at most sports! Despite the fact that I went through a pubescent phase of fat-kid-itis, I could run pretty well, had good agility, some quickness, and a bit of strength. Sure, I wouldn't have survived a day among athletes made up of people of color (not racist, let's be real here folks). But at MahKeeNac, I was pretty darn good. In basketball, I made the "tournament team," which played against other camps in tournaments. I played in a number of soccer leagues, excelled as a defenseman in roller hockey, and was ranked about 10 (of about 50) in the tennis ladder rankings. At the time, theater held no appeal for me, although I did it at camp, and quite well, being the star in the plays and musicals we produced with our sister camp, Camp Danbee. I obviously don't need to describe how awkward we all were with our Camp "Sisters", but suffice to say I didn't really talk to the girls much.

In middle school, I played on the Cathedral School of St. John the Divine (my middle school, not entirely composed of Jews) basketball team. Our team was pretty good from 5th-8th grade. I played the 3-spot, which was a lot of running for a fat kid. A lefty, I had a good mid-range jumpshot and my large body was effective at driving to the hoop. Basketball was cool.

My baseball career started at the Jewish Community Center league, where I began my career as a First Baseman, the only position I have played ever since. I was a lefty and a very talented fielder, handling grounders with ease and even scooping throws from across the diamond in the dirt. My dad was also a first baseman, and taught me all the fundamentals.

I continued but my career withered and died in West Side Little League. The above picture is not of my team. For those who don't know, this was the premier little league in Manhattan. Pretty competitive, they sent a team to the Little League World Series every year. I started out doing pretty well in this league, but ultimately my career ended due to extremely poor hitting. Indeed, in my entire career, I believe I got one legit hit. This I refer to as "The Hit," literally because there was only one. Playing on the Dragons, I clobbered a slow fastball into left center for a sluggishly ran double, much to the joy of my frustrated father. Mostly though, I was afraid of the fast pitches, struck out a lot, and retired soon after. I now relive those days on the Brave New Workshop Softball Team, the Skirt Turtles, where I excel among the other Theater fags.

The only notable moment in my soccer career occurred in 7th grade when I broke my rib running into the opposing team's goalie. That was pretty fucking funny to watch, I'll bet.

To close, my athletic career ended with a thud during the first week of high school. At age 14, I had had seven good years of sports, and decided to take it to the next level. In one of the worst decisions I've ever made, I tried out for the Riverdale Football Team. I lasted a whole one day. I realized three things about football that day: 1), you need to run a lot, 2) the other guys hit you, really hard, and 3) football players and coaches are complete and total assholes. I returned my virtually unused pads to Coach Kreso before Day 2, explaining that I wanted to focus on my studies in my totally meaningless freshman year. He laughed at me, then proceeded to make fun of me for the rest of the year as my gym teacher. An example of this happened when we would go for jogs around Van Courtland Park. Riding alongside us in his douchemobile of a golf cart, he would see me panting for breath and yell, "Hey Leibowitz, you gonna quit? You gonna run home to Mommy like you did with football?" I hope that guy has since drowned in his own diarrhea.

Soon after football, I performed in a play and, most importantly, tried out for the improv group. I made it on my first try, and the rest is history.

So sports will always have an important place in my heart. I like knowing more about sports than most Thesbians. It makes me appear to be much less gay, and I like watching sports a lot. I can also do some pretty damn good Sports-related improv scenes!

Thanks for reading today. You've taken one for the team.

P.S. I also did fucking Karate, I almost forgot. For two years, my Dad would take me down to World Seido Karate HomBU on 23rd street and 6th avenue. I started as a lowly white belt, advanced to blue, then yellow, then green then advanced green, which is one below brown, which is one below BLACKBELT! There was a really hot sensai named Sensai Stephanie who I really wanted to roundhouse kick in the face. And by roundhouse kick, I mean bang. So add that, too.

PSS My Dad has included a list of Jewish sports athletes I have missed:

Marty Glickman- Hitler objected to him competing in the 1938 Olympics so the U.S. pulled him out.

Bernie Kosar (QB)
Allie Sherman(QB)
Bennie Friedman (QB)
Jack Kiviat

Ken Soloman
Aaron Krickstein

Max Baer
Bennie Leonard
"Slapsie"Maxie Rosenbloom
Barney Ross

Nat Holman
Howie Komives
Neil Walk

Moe Berg- was also a spy for the United States while playing in the majors.
Butch Wynegar
Art Shamsky
Ron Blomberg- first designated hitter in baseball

Thanks to Lenny Leibowitz for the updated list!