Saturday, November 18, 2017

Nurse the Hate: NFL Week 11

There are things that must be absolutes to be able to live a tethered life.  There must be some sort of foundation or there is chaos.  One of the only things I can recall from the three sociology classes I took was the concept of “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs”.  The idea is that life is a pyramid where the most basic physical needs must be addressed first, like air to breath and a water supply.  From there it goes to shelter/safety, love and belonging, to esteem all the way to the lofty goal of self-actualization.  The interesting thing about that class was that I took it with a girlfriend that betrayed my trust in the midst of learning this.  I was able to see that while I thought I was scratching towards “self-actualization”, with a swift turn of events I tumbled well below “esteem” and was left picking up the shattered pieces of “love and belonging”.    

We did that thing where we sat as far apart from each other as possible in the class and pretended the other didn’t exist.  Meanwhile we both almost blew out our eye sockets straining to see out of the corners of our eyes looking at each other for a sign of weakness.  It was a sick and counterproductive final few weeks of the semester.  Probably because of the personal drama I was involved in, I was always able to remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Each moment of the lecture I was able to narcissistically apply to myself.  “Yes!  Maslow you’ve really got it figured out!  You know exactly what a horrible woman can do to a man!”  I must have listened to a lot of slow Cure records during that time.  Thank God I didn’t know about The Swans then.  Or heroin.

The fact remains that there must be certainties in life.  You need to feel like the earth is solid below your feet as you try to become the best version of “you” that is possible.  Life is like a wobbly house of cards.  At any moment it can collapse and you can be forced to re-evaluate back from the bottom.  There needs to be at least something that is known to be true.  However, no matter how far you tumble down the pyramid, there is solace in knowing that the Cleveland Browns are terrible and will remain so ever more.

The Browns feel really good about themselves after their game with the Lions.  They played, easily, their best game of the year.  At times they appeared to be a competitive NFL Football Team.  What has been lost in this feel-good story is they still lost by 14 points and the Lions easily covered the spread.  Now the Browns are at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a team that has been slowly building themselves into a defensive force with high draft picks.  The Jags are sort of like the anti-Browns, where the players they have drafted have turned out to be good.  The Jags hit the QB so often that the team has earned the nickname “Sacksonville”.  This is not good for the sore ribbed DeShone Kizer.

Jacksonville has real issues in the receiving corps with anyone with experience injured.  They are going to run out there with “a bunch of guys”.  I don’t think that will be a big issue as the Jags will likely combine a strong running game with dink/dunk passes to the RBs and TEs to methodically score 24-28 points in dull fashion.  With the spread, that means the Browns will have to somehow score three touchdowns to cover the spread.  No way.  The Browns are somehow worse than their 0-9 record indicates.  Just to be safe though, I’m going to buy down a point and take Jacksonville -6.5 at -155.

There are too many games with uncertainties out there this week.  The Patriots play the Raiders, normally a game of great interest.  However, the NFL put the game in Mexico City.  I’m not touching that.  How do I know if Tom Brady doesn’t go out to see Lucha Libre on Saturday night and get all fueled up on mescal?  Maybe he decides to buy a bunch of street tacos and spends Sunday shitting out everything he has eaten since 2007.  Too much left to chance.

The Bills are starting some shitty backup rookie QB thinking that will give them a jumpstart.  Has a team with a winning record inserting a guy into his first game midseason on the road ever worked out?  (see Manziel, John for reference)  At least the guy gets to play on the road in front of a disinterested Los Angeles crowd (or lack thereof).  Still, I’m not touching that game with a spread of six.  How about Miami and Tampa with no Jameis or Tannehill?  Nope.  You want Ossweiler and the Broncos at home giving two and a half?  OK, then take the other side with the Bengals getting the points on the road at Denver.  Yeah, that’s not so good either.  I have no clue as to who is starting in that Houston v Arizona game.  The Ravens and Packers game might not even be televised, but since everything else looks so awful I am going to wade in there.

Baltimore has always been a bad road team.  Well, not always…  Back when Ray Rice was knocking out the ladies and Ray Lewis was “allegedly” dumping blood soaked clothes in the trash they were really good.  That was a long time ago though.  They are 3-8-1 ATS in their last 12 on the road.  The Packers, who screwed me last week by beating the Bears, just might have found out how to cobble together an offense.  Not a great offense, but probably enough to win.  I feel slightly ill that I am betting on this game.  I am not even going to watch it.  This is certainly a cry for help.  I am a long way from self-actualization here.  Green Bay -2.5.  
Season Record:  10-12-1

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Nurse the Hate: The Skydiver

When I was very little my family lived in a small town outside of Philadelphia.  When you are that age your friendships are constrained by the geographical limitations of being five years old.  I had a range of three houses for a potential pool of friends.  There were four kids that fell into that potential peer group for me.  Next door were the Kern kids, Alan and Cindy.  Alan was a year older but a delicate boy that shunned any type of danger.  Please note that a five year old’s definition of “danger” is rolling down a grassy hill, not underwater cave diving.  He behaved like a middle manager of a corporate banking concern even as a six year old.  Alan was always ready to squeal to adults of any behavioral infractions he saw.  Hence, we shunned Alan and made him the neighborhood pariah.  I bet he turned out to be a little shit.  

Alan’s sister Sandy was in my grade.  I had no experience with girls, so she was like a different species.  I could have used some extensive training on how to deal with these creatures.  Even now I could use a refresher course.  However, at five years old I had no understanding that if a girl hit you as hard as she could in the back it translated into her liking you.  Sandy had a punishing right hand.  I do recall playing some version of doctor with Sandy once.  She and I were completely naked standing in my closet wearing our sneakers when Sandy’s father discovered us.  I think it is accurate to say he “freaked out” in the parlance of the times.  Prior to his opening the door, Sandy and I were inspecting each other’s genitals with great scientific curiosity.  It was a great mystery to me how she peed out of that setup she had, and she was equally mystified as to mine.  When the door flung open it was the first time I really understood the phrase “being caught with your pants down”.  I think her father calmed down when my mother pointed out I didn’t have an erection so it was all probably innocent goings on in that closet.  Having a five year old’s penis the size of a button mushroom probably helped too.

With my access to Sandy all but eliminated except for daily punches at the bus stop, I was left to hang out with Christopher and/or Michael.  Michael was the youngest of six kids.  His parents had all but given up trying to control the kids by the time Michael came along, so it was like playing with a feral dog.  Michael was up for anything and had almost no concept of consequences.  He was an outstanding playmate for a five year old.  There was one downside to Michael.  We had to be consistently vigilant in keeping an eye out for his violent and unpredictable older brother Victor who had a feud running with Michael I am assuming from birth.  We would build forts.  Victor would find them and destroy them.  Repeat.  It was a cycle of madness.

Christopher lived at the outer edges of our world.  He was three houses away.  In his front yard was an enormous tree that we would climb.  I remember feeling like a daredevil when I climbed up one more level of branches then was our limit at the time.  Michael, suddenly realizing this was a potential point of honor, proceeded to climb to the entire top of the tree like a spider monkey.  It seemed like he was fifty feet off the ground, but he was probably fifteen.  This was an era when kids normally fell out of trees and broke limbs, so no adult considered it odd that a five year old was swaying around a big oak a couple stories off the ground.  Now I assume all the kids would be swept up in protective services and the parents sent off to work camps if anyone even caught wind of something like that.

That tree became our hangout.  Each one of us had a favorite nook amongst the branches to hang out, talk, and sort out the problems of being five.  Occasionally Christoper’s brother would try to climb up in the tree and join our group.  He was a year or two older and really pudgy.  He couldn’t make it up the first limb, so he would be left flailing around on the ground trying to come up with some miracle method of getting in the tree.  Christopher, being sensitive to his brother’s failures, would sing a song whose melody I can still remember.  “Don’t have to hang with the weirdo, with the weirdo, with the weirdo.  Don’t have to hang with the weirdo, he’s too fat to get in the tree.”  That’s the joy of being five.  You let other folks know where they stand with crystal clarity.  There’s not much nuance in the life of a five year old (with the exception of the meaning of the girl punch).

One day while the three of us were sitting in the tree we looked up and saw a man with a parachute falling in our direction.  This was absolutely insane as we lived in what would definitely be classified as a suburb.  It was impossible.  We leaped out of the tree and stood looking upward mouths agape as the man in the chute fell towards us.  He changed directions at the last moment, veering right of the tree and swung across the road to land in a neighbor’s front yard.  The three of us stood still, unsure of what to do.  Christopher panicked.  “I’m telling my Mom!”  As he raced off, Michael did the same thing screaming out “Mom!  Mom!” as he ran home.  I just stood there staring at the man with the parachute.

I can remember how strained the man’s face was as he gathered the white chute.  He was wearing a blue jumpsuit and a white helmet.  He ignored me completely, gathered the chute into a bundle he could carry, and then walked swiftly away as he looked in both directions.  I didn't know what to do in the midst of this extraordinary and unprecedented event.  I was five and a man in a parachute had just fallen into my three house radius.  What a world!  By the time Christopher’s mother had arrived the parachutist was out of sight.  Christopher’s mother, understandably confused, tried to sort out what had happened as Christopher wildly jabbered on pointing out the exact location of these incredible events we had just witnessed.  I think she only half believed him.  I just stood there.  Then it was over.

Over the years memories fade or twist into being what you want or need them to be.  I can remember the smell of the woods where we used to play.  I remember the feeling of humidity in the rec room of that house.  I can picture the view from the nook of that tree.  I remember the white lace at the edge of Cindy’s socks as she stood naked in front of me.  I remember the smell of the after shave on Mr. Kern’s face as he grabbed my arm pulling me out of that closet.  I can still see the furrowed eyebrows and grim set mouth of the parachute man as he gathered his chute trying to make sense out of where he landed.  I remember all of it.  I just don’t know if it happened.          

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Nurse the Hate: The Last Magnificent

I watched a film on Jeremiah Tower last night called "The Last Magnificent".  Here's the quick plotline.  He was a chef that was instrumental in developing the “New American” cuisine, which is essentially the punk rock revolution of cooking.  He was working at Chez Panisse in Berkley in a kitchen full of hippies that were all fucking each other trying to duplicate French cuisine.  While that was probably all kinds of fun when they weren’t working, it wasn’t that satisfying being a tribute band to French cooking.  That’s when the light bulb went off and he thought, “wait… we have great ingredients here!  Why apologize because these aren’t French sourced oysters or French wines.  Let’s show off our best with great technique!”.  Ta-da!  At about the same time bands across America were thinking “Why are we trying to be Yes and sings songs about wizards and shit?  Let’s do our own thing.”, something like minded was going on in restaurants.

The guy is really fascinating.  He was brought up in an emotionally detached home, sent to horrible sounding English boarding schools, and lived a double life as a closeted gay man in the 60s.  As times changed, so did he.  Always an iconoclast, he was perfect for his time.  He rejected Harvard and the blue blood East Coast lifestyle, did tons of drugs, and drifted to the West Coast where he just happened to walk into Panisse as a self-taught chef.  He is clearly a big shiny personality that is also a world class pain in the ass.  After tremendous success at a restaurant called Stars in SF, he dropped out of sight.  Poof.  Gone for 15 years.

He resurfaced to take on the daunting challenge of running Tavern On The Green in NYC.  A huge restaurant with too many tables, too many owners, and too much stacked against greatness, Tower also had a long list of enemies that were looking to seek payback over slights he had made to them in what appeared to be some sort of coke fueled decadence in the 80s.  Why?  Why would he put himself in a position so likely to fail?  He quoted Proust.  “Work while you still have the light.  Let the flesh grow old, crumble… what are my great expectations and what have I done? Well, that remains to be seen.”

Tower is interesting in that he appears to be the lead role cast in his own movie in which only he has the script.  He is taking chances with his art, if that’s what we can call cooking and restaurant presentation (and I think we can).  He is performing with the highest stakes in his profession knowing full well that scorn and shame are the most likely outcome.  Yet, he still goes for it.  And he fails.  The film shows him being cast out and leaving his small New York apartment with an oil painting from childhood and lucky amulets from his travels.  He presumably heads back to Mexico to take stock if he still has any remaining light.

Tower is like a once great athlete that decides on a comeback.  Against all odds, he worked to get back in position to simply walk back up to the plate and compete against the toughest competition.  His competition was not only the New York restaurant scene but also his significant past.  In the end his failure to succeed to the impossible expectation level set for him was not so much tragic as inevitable.  While he might not have hit a home run, I respect the man for picking up the bat and taking his cuts.  

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Nurse the Hate: NFL Week 10

I’m feeling very fancy today.  I’m having a reflective espresso, listening to Wagner “Dritter Aufzug-Act 3” from The Ring Cycle.  I will admit that was a bit of a shock as it came through in a random shuffle after Johnny Cash’s version of “Rowboat”, but I’m going with it.  I still use my iPod.  At this point it makes me a “product laggard”, though if I wait it out long enough I will become “ironic” in my embrace of outdated technology.  I held onto all of my records in much the same way.  Who’s laughing now you smug millennial hipster shits?  While you are paying though the nose for vintage punk records, I can serenely put my original colored vinyl copy of “Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables” on the turntable with the $3.99 price sticker plainly visible on the cover.  It’s the small victories.

The iPod made another radical left turn into The Cure.  For some reason I have been hearing a lot of Cure records in bizarre places.  I was looking at a shelf of aged Riojas in a fabulous wine shop in Newton MA when “Pictures of You” came across the store sound system.  “Friday I’m In Love” hit me walking into a restaurant yesterday.  When Sugar was driving us home in the van after a gig a couple weeks ago we had an “All Sugar, All Request Cure Blitz” that lasted about 90 minutes.  Those guys have a stack of great songs.  Are The Cure back in cultural good graces?  Did that happen without anyone telling me?   

I was listening to “10:15 Saturday Night” when an article in the Times caught my eye.  Apparently the new tax cuts, which were going to shower us all with untold wealth, need to be modified by Congress.  It turns out if no one pays taxes, the government can't pay for all the things they bought.  In even more surprising news, the Middle Class will have to pay more taxes.  Here's the good news.  The ultra high earners and corporations will receive a massive windfall of cash.  Who could have seen that coming?  What are the odds that a bunch of old rich white guys that hang with and are funded by corporate goons would take care of each other and fuck the rest of us?  I looked it up.  The odds were 100%.

That’s the key.  Knowing the odds.  For example, the Patriots are 20-4 after a bye week.  This week they get to play the Broncos with The Brock Osweiler Experiment entering week 2.  I watched the Broncos get their dicks kicked in by the Eagles last week.  I had money on the Broncos with the basic assumption that no one could be worse than deposed QB Trevor Semien.  I was wrong.  I was very, very wrong.  Brock Osweiler will not transform the Broncos into a legit top tier team.  He will instead throw into triple coverage and miss open receivers.  Meanwhile the Patriots have quietly fixed their defense.  They are making all the adjustments they always do and are favored to win the Super Bowl again.  Always bet the trend, not against it.  You will pay more taxes and the Patriots will win many football games.  

I am going to tie the Patriots into the Chicago Bears on a parlay.  I normally don’t bet on the Bears.  I also don’t watch many Bears games as they haven’t been interesting since 1986.  However, they get to play the Packers at home this week.  Before Aaron Rodgers got hurt, the Packers were fearsome.  Now they are something to be pitied.  I feel sorry for those husky men and women in Wisconsin in their little cheese hats.  Backup QB Hundley looks totally out of his element.  I got a job at a restaurant once as a “cook”.  I felt qualified to do this job as I had spent four months as a line cook at Schmidt’s Sausage Haus in Columbus.  Note the use of the word “Haus” in the restaurant name.  It’s how you can tell cooks steeped in Old World Tradition (like myself) would serve you authentic cuisine.  With that confidence I swaggered into the new cook job at some shitty spot near my house.  They asked me to make the quiche of the day.  From scratch.  I had the same expression on my face that the Packers Bret Hundley has on his face.  I got a call at home after my shift ended letting me know they “wouldn’t need me”.  Hundley will receive a call like that in a couple of months from the Packers.  Bears/Patriots moneyline.

I am going to bet on the Chargers again.  The Chargers are something you can bank on.  They scratch and claw their way into almost winning all of their games.  They only win about 40% of them, but they are almost always close.  It’s because they reliably finish 6-10/7-9 that The Public assumes the Chargers are terrible.  They aren’t terrible.  They just aren’t good enough to win that often.  The Chargers have beaten Jacksonville the last six times they have played them though.  I am not completely bought in on the Jags yet.  They beat the shit teams like they are supposed to, but they have that scent to them of those Texans teams that always get smoked in the Wild Card game.  I bet the Jags win this game by a field goal after a gut wrenching mistake made by someone in a powder blue jersey.  The good news is that the Chargers are getting five and a hook.  Phillip Rivers will be looking pissed off while walking off the field, but it will be all smiles in NE Ohio.  Chargers +5.5   

Season Record:  9-11-1