Monday, November 17, 2014

Gargoyle and the AfroSquad Wrestling Promo

While perusing the vast illustrious digital video depot known as YouTube, I found an old wrestling promo video I was a part of. This video was filmed in early 2011 when I was frequently attending All-Star Wrestling in Tampa. On this particular Friday evening, the regular crowd was joined by pro wrestling superfan "The Gargoyle", who had traveled from the Florida Panhandle to check out the Tampa wrestling scene.

Being a bit of a character myself, with my 3-foot afro, The Gargoyle and I clicked immediately. We clicked so well, we knew we had to shoot a wrestling style promo outside of the venue. Joining us was wrestler Colby Godwin, aka BTY.

I don't go to as many wrestling shows as I used to, but these were fun times.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Southern Darkness Fest in Tampa 8/23/2014



On August 23rd, I checked out the first Southern Darkness Fest held in Tampa. The multi-venue hard rock, metal, hardcore, and punk show was the first festival of it's kind to be held in Tampa. According to the founder,
Southern Darkness is unique for a couple of reasons: the festival actually presents a coherent narrative and it’s exceedingly cheap show for so many bands.
Between 28 bands and 3 bars, there was a lot going on and of course, I was unable to catch it all. But I wanted to give a quick review of what I did see. Instead of going into a longform narrative, I'm breaking the review into chunks and give each part a grade.

1) Music - A : This is a no-brainer. I wouldn't be going to the show if I didn't want to hear the music. That said, however, I wasn't familiar with hardly any of the bands. As a matter of fact, I had only heard of three (Black Tusk, ASG, and Weekend Nachos), and that was because they had songs on a Relapse Records sampler I picked up. So I had heard three songs from the catalog of 28 possible bands. Maybe less than 1% of the total music?

(Compare that to the Soundgarden show I saw recently where I had most of the songs in my collection for 20 years.)

Every band was new to me and none disappointed.

Here is where I have to admit I missed half the festival. I only saw 5 bands total, only one song from one of them. I saw Scrog (half their set), Weekend Nachos, Black Tusk, Bongripper (one song), and Pelican. I didn't realize the festival began at 3pm. I thought it began at 8pm. But what I did see was badass.

Of these, Black Tusk was the most imposing, Weekend Nachos had the most energy, and Pelican was the most groove heavy. Each band brought something different to the table. I felt a little old for Weekend Nachos (I wasn't the only one), but their show was really good. Stage diving, mosh-pit slamming, and high energy.

Black Tusk is described on Wikipedia as "swamp" and "sludge" metal. They were more "grown-man" metal than the somewhat punk vibe of Weekend Nachos. With their tattoos, long beards, and Black Sabbath-esque riffs, Black Tusk looked like they could be part of the WWE's Wyatt Family. I was impressed and even picked up a CD.

Pelican also impressed me a lot. They were the headliner, so of course they drew the most attention from the crowd. And they did not disappoint. All instrumental groove-metal songs. I've often critiqued some bands by their lead singer. I've dug the music, just not the tone of the singer. With Pelican, I didn't have to worry about that as there were no vocals at all. Just over an hour of instrumental heavy metal. Good stuff.

2) Venues - A- : The Southern Darkness Fest was held in Ybor City's Orpheum, Crowbar, and Ritz Ybor. I had seen shows at each of these venues and knew each were good places for live music. Of the three, Crowbar was the most crowded and with Weekend Nachos, it was the most energetic venue. Orpheum was a bigger venue and its dark vibe suited the doom metal bands that played there very well. Of the three, Ritz Ybor was the least impressive. Instead of their main stage, Black Tusk was in a side room. The room held a decent size crowd, and Ritz probably realized Black Tusk wasn't going to pack their 500 head main room, but being stashed in a side room was a little disappointing. Thankfully Black Tusk did not disappoint.

Another spot for improvement would be give each concert-goer a venue set list, perhaps with a genre listing next to each band. When I walked from one bar to the next, not only did I not know who was playing, I didn't know what type of metal it was. Each bar was a crapshoot.

3) Ticket Prices - A : The total festival cost on the day of the show was $45. No processing fee, no handling fee, just $45 for 28 bands and 10 hours of music. And had I bought the ticket a day earlier, the cost would have been $35. And had I been there on time, I would have seen more music for the price I did pay.

But I paid $15 each for 3 bands and 4 hours of music. That's still not bad.

4) Concessions - C : Most bands had a merch table, which was awesome, but what was missing was a festival t-shirt. I was hoping to buy one. The only merch the overall festival had was a small poster they were selling for $10, which I thought was overpriced. If it was a larger poster I could hang on a wall, then perhaps, but I was not going to buy a small poster.

Maybe next year, if they do a second Southern Darkness Fest, they will have festival t-shirts or large posters. Some room for improvement there.

5) Overall - A : I had a good time, drank some beer, and rocked out to some metal without spending an arm and a leg. That's a good night. I hope there is a second festival next year and they book similar bands. Next year, I promise I will get their earlier.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Thoughts on Ferguson and the Militarization of Police in America



The situation in Ferguson, Missouri continues to dominate social media. What started as a sad situation when a police officer killed a teenager has turned into much more with protests, demonstrations, looting, and an increased police presence that borders on an occupation.

I am far from Ferguson. I have no first-hand experience nor first-hand knowledge of the situation. But I did want to organize my thoughts in regards to the many discussions going on. Twitter and other social media platforms might be great for news and rapid responses, but social phenomenon and analysis are not done well in 140 characters.

Why I have this blog.

I am going to skip the incident that caused the situation and the racial makeup of Ferguson versus the racial makeup of the powers that be in area. That has been discussed in length in many other places. There are many angles to that situation that I don't know.

What I want to discuss is the concept of power.

International Affairs professor Steve Saideman wrote a really good piece today for OpenCanada.org where he compared the situations in Iraq, Israel/Gaza, and Ferguson. Saideman writes that in each instance, the trust in government and use of power was not correct. He writes that each situation boiled down to deterance and assurance - the ability of a government to deter a bad thing from happening and its ability to assure the populace that only the right amount of power will be used.

According to Saideman,
deterrence is a threat with a promise —that if you do nothing bad, nothing bad will happen to you
When America was first created, long ago in the days of our "Founding Fathers", the nation was built on the premise that power should be controlled. That the central government should not have the amount of power used by the British crown. This is the philosophy behind many of the amendments. The Constitution by nature is a restrictive document.

But Saideman states that perhaps even here in America, democracy has lost its power to control power.
Democracy is seen as the solution to this problem of combining effective governance and restrained governance.  Indeed, some of the chapters in our book make that quite clear.  Yet, even in democracies, the balancing act continues with swings towards too much coercion and too little assurance leading to tensions and conflict.  The situation in Ferguson in the U.S., where protests and even perhaps a riot have followed the shooting of a young, African-American man, illustrates this.  We need police to have the capability to use force, but we need that use of force to be limited and targeted or else the police lose legitimacy.
Which brings me to my second point, that the most extreme insurance against the imbalance of power has been eroded to the point of ineffectiveness.

"Open Carry is White Privilege"

Earlier Wednesday, I saw several tweets comparing the situation in Ferguson - where an unarmed teenager was shot - to situations in Texas, where 2nd Amendment supporters are carrying their rifles on their shoulders as they go to Wal-Mart, gas stations, church, etc. The tweets said this was a clear example of "white privilege", that the rifle-carrying persons were not seen as a threat because of the color of their skin, while the unarmed teenager, who was black, was seen as a threat solely because of the color of his skin.

I disagree completely. Open carry is not only a "white" thing. Never has been.

Prior to 1967, the Black Panther Party frequent patrolled the streets of Oakland armed with rifles. According to PBS.org,
The Police Patrols had become an integral part of BPP community policy. Members of the BPP would listen to police calls on a short wave radio, rush to the scene of the arrest with law books in hand and inform the person being arrested of their constitutional rights. BPP members also happened to carry loaded weapons, which were publicly displayed, but were careful to stand no closer than ten feet from the arrest so as not to interfere with the arrest.
The rifles were not necessarily to shoot cops, but to portray legitimacy, that the Panthers could deter and assure. According to a University of Virginia website,
The gun was a rhetorical tool, deployed to impress black urban audiences and to warn law enforcement officers and other outsiders. Newton described the emphasis on the gun as “a necessary phase in [the Panthers’] evolution, based on Frantz Fanon’s contention that the people have to be shown that the colonizers and their agents—the police—are not bulletproof



Unfortunately for the Black Panthers, their power was neutered with the passing of the Mulford Act, which restricted open carry ability in California. This bill, like many other gun control bills in America, was designed specifically to restrict the power of African-Americans.

(Of course, notice the racial undertones of the image to the right. "Invaded" by a "Armed Negro Band".)

Community Leaders

Armed or not, the Black Panthers had something the people in the streets of Ferguson do not have: leadership - specifically organized local leadership to either continue protest or negotiate on the streets. While organizations such as the NAACP and national spokespeople such as Al Sharpton make their faces shown, there should be church leaders and neighborhood spokespeople who can control, speak for, and when needed, police communities. Of course, neither the right-wing mainstream media or the left-wing mainstream media dare mention the ability of a community to police itself using guns. They believe either a) guns and should only be used by those in power or b) only be used to protect homes and individual persons.

That's what most people believe and what most people have voted for.

And that's why the power pendulum has swung so far to the system and out of the hands of the people.

To quote Boots Riley of the controversial rap group The Coup: "I got faith in the people and they power to fight / We gon' make this struggle blossom like a flower to light"

Examples of Power

Slowly but surely, I am starting to see more people comment on the "militarization of police forces" in America. This has been the case for a while, but if the situation in Ferguson promotes change, then I'm glad people are finally on board. Even non-news media are talking about it.

(Bill Maher had an interesting take here. A few too many bad punchlines, but good points.)

During the 2012 Republican Convention, I was shocked to see pictures of the security forces. The police and security forces were not the usual run-of-the-mill beat cops, they were heavily armed, SWAT troops. As well, blocks around downtown Tampa were blocked off and people had to show identification cards in order to enter the area. There was even debate whether drones were used. All this for a convention.

Less than a year later, after the Boston Marathon bombings, hundreds of police swarmed the streets armed to the teeth, looking for one man. There was no way the bomber could have had enough firepower to topple the Boston police force. Impossible.

Trust of the populace

One of our biggest problems in the US is trust.

Not only do we not trust each other, the powers that be do not trust the populace. There is the assumption that the populace is "up to no good". This is a really bad assumption. It is what got the US military in trouble in Iraq and Afghanistan. It wasn't until the Petraeus doctrine was enacted and counterinsurgency modified to integration not occupation, did US forces start developing bonds of trust with local populaces.

We have police forces in the United States that don't understand that. Forces can be all-white, all-black, all-Asian, all-Hispanic, or all from Mars, if they don't understand the concerns of the populace, then any effort to be seen as positive contributors will be lost. Police need to be seen as a positive presence, not occupiers. In Ferguson in the last few days, with their tear gas, armored personnel carriers, bullet proof vests, shields, batons, and attempts to silence the media, the police are definitely playing the role of occupiers.

Which brings me to another interesting point. We have in a sense, dehumanized the police. They are the authority, the power, The MAN. But I wonder what goes through their heads when they stand their with their armor and their shields. Are they scared? Are they nervous? How much has their training become instinct? When they make a mistake, it is because they were trained wrong, or because they panicked and did what they thought was right?

We have to understand both sides are human. It is easy to humanize protestors. But we also have to remember in many cases the people in uniform also have families and children and the same concern for human life. Unless they are cold-hearted, jack-booted thugs, which may be possible. Then again, some protestors may be anarchists or wannabe martyrs. But the odds are small of radicals on either side.

Solutions

Again, I am not there. I have no idea the political situation or the personalities involved. But I don't like analyzing something if I am not going to give a "now what?".

Hopefully based on the bad public relations the Ferguson police force received, police forces across the country will review their doctrines and processes. Maybe increase their level of work with community leaders to establish boundaries, processes, and equipment use.

Maybe governors across the United States will put limits on police force equipment acquisitions. The US has limits on personal weapon capabilities. Why not limit the power of the authorities to match or be slightly above the degree of average weaponry owned by the people of the community? Weapon restriction is a state issue or something that can be handled at the local level. I wonder if that is a platform that would garner support in an election. Would people back a candidate who says they are going to reign in police? Better yet, could they?

In the meantime, a short term solution could be a legal person accompanying the police in every action. This legal representative would ensure laws are followed and rights are respected. If this is too consuming, perhaps ridealongs should be mandatory only while forces build relationships within communities.

As for Ferguson, Missouri, they need to take their relationship with the community back to square one. It is broken. There is no way the police will be trusted there again. Their credibility is shot. So too is their ability to deter and assure.

Just some thoughts.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Portrait of Young LOOGY



I've often written about my early days on the ballfield. Days where I was the Jamie Moyer of the Eau Gallie Little League - a junk-balling control specialist with a a good change-up and an uncanny ability to locate my league-average fastball. Up and down, in and out, I kept the other 12-year olds off-balance.

Facebook is funny sometimes. Amidst the pics of high school classmates' kids and vacation selfies of still-single friends, sometimes a nugget of memories emerges. Two weeks ago, one of my old little league teammates posted a "Throwback Thursday" pic that took me by surprise.

I played in the Eau Gallie Little League from ages 10 to 14. So this was my second to last year. If I remember right, this team won a few games. I pretty sure I pitched a game or two. I know I played a lot of right field in those days.


These days, my 6-year old nephew plays on the same fields I played on. He's also left-handed. If he stays with the game, I hope he does better than I did.

He already hits a lot better.

(By the way, if you couldn't tell, I'm the kid with the glasses in the left end of the front row.)

Friday, July 11, 2014

Since I returned from Afghanistan



Has it really been that long?

Seems like yesterday I was flying back from London to Miami - 13 hours cramped in an airplane over the Atlantic. I remember I watched "Wreck It Ralph" on the flight. I watched other movies as well, but I don't remember which.

A year and a few months ago, a TSA security guy in Miami gave me a hard time. I had a long beard and a one-way ticket from Afghanistan. He asked what I did over there. I told him I couldn't tell him. He didn't like that.

Then I told him I wanted to get to Orlando to see my family. He finally let me go.

Jerk.

It was over a year ago that my parents and my nephew greeted me with "Welcome Home" balloons, big hugs, and smiles. My nephew grew a lot over the 14 months I was gone. Unsurprisingly, he has continued to grow since I've been back. I'd be more worried if he stopped.

It was over a year ago that I pulled in to the Sea View Motel in Melbourne Beach, Florida. That was the perfect place to bring life back down to the lowest gear. My only regret is that I didn't spend longer there. The owners were great, the room was great, and the view on the beach was phenomenal. I need to go back.

I would like to make an annual trek to the Sea View Motel, at least for a weekend, just to unwind and reflect on everything I accomplish in a year's time. Sort of like a growth chart. Maybe I will go from one night in the cheapest room to a week in the most expensive as the years go on. That would be growth.

The first months after my return, I lived a nomadic existence. One relative called me a "gypsy". I had everything I needed in my trunk. That was of course, after I traded in my pick-up truck of six years. People ask me how I like driving a smaller car as compared to a full size truck.  To be honest, had I not been gone for 14 months the transition would have been more awkward. But as it was, I only drove my truck for two months before trading it in.

I felt good about that deal as well. Which still strikes me as weird. I am so used to getting fleeced by companies and for a car dealer to give me almost exactly the deal I wanted was an accomplishment. I only had to go up $1,000 or so from my low offer, which was about $5,000 off the marked price. So I walked out with a deal and a new car.

After a summer in over a dozen hotels, several weeks at my grandfather's house, and assorted nights and weekends at other friends' and family's homes, I eventually ended up back in Tampa by the University of South Florida. It was finally time to start my MBA.

I moved into a small student-area apartment in August of 2013. I hadn't lived in a place this small since I was an undergrad over 10 years ago. It was a big step back lifestyle-wise, and the furniture and belongings I had prior to leaving remains in storage. But while I was stepping back with my lifestyle ...

I jumped back into school with both feet, taking six classes in the fall. It was my first semester in college since 2005 - almost eight years. Needless to say, I needed to re-learn how to study. But my skills eventually returned. After a few shaky first tests, I made it through my first semester with 2 A's and 4 B's. Not bad. Especially considering I had never even been introduced to some the material before. And here I was learning at the graduate level.

On a related note, maybe I should have taken a few more business classes as an undergrad. The only class I could identity with was Marketing. I did well in that class. Other classes, such as Accounting, caught me by surprise. The material was so new. I don't want to call myself an old dog, but I am no young pup. I was learning new tricks.

After the fall came the spring semester. More classes. This time I took Finance. Finance killed me. I thought Accounting was hard. Finance was impossible. I got my first ever "C" in college. I know for most, that's not a big deal, but I had never gotten a "C". That's my standard. But Finance just murdered me. But more on that some other time.

Now I am finishing up the summer semester. This semester has been chock full of "analysis". I am taking Financial Analysis, Competitive and Business Intelligence, Digital Marketing, and a CitiGroup Seminar course focusing on anti-money laundering processes. I am also taking an online course through EdX on statistics, basic databases, and baseball analysis. So there is definitely overlap in my coursework with things I have done in the past, whether at work or in my personal time.

At the close of this semester, I will be about half way done with my Master's in Business. I have learned a lot. I'm sure how much is common sense for people in the private sector, but to me, it's been a whole new world.

Hard to believe how much my world has changed since I got back from Afghanistan a little over a year ago.

(And for those curious, I eventually cut the beard.)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Weekly Book Update #10



Wow. I haven't done a book update in a while. Not much has changed, to be honest. The novel is still in draft form. I have however sent pitch letters to six agents on April 13. So I guess that is news. I received one rejection letter so far. I will probably wait another week or so before sending a pitch letter to six more agents. I figured doing six every three weeks should increase my odds of hearing from someone.

Then I have to send a sample - most likely the first 30-50 pages. Then the agent has to like that enough to represent me to a publisher. Then the publisher has to read it and mold it into a final publishable version. So we have a ways to go.

But I guess I have taken one small step.

This week's link of inspiration comes from the Co.Create blog by Fast Company. They interviewed best-selling author James Patterson and asked what advice he would give beginning writers and storytellers.

His advice:
  • Write Stories the Way People Tell Them

  • Make It An Experience

  • Short Chapters Keep People Reading

  • It Doesn't Have to Be Realistic

  • Outline Like Your Book Depends On It

  • Be Open To Changes During the Writing

  • Write With Confidence, Even If You Don't Feel Confident Yet

  • Know Who You Are Writing For And What They Want
I like to think I did that with my novel. At least I hope so.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Safety on the High Seas



Bottles floated along desperate seas
SOSs played the tune of sorrow

For the survivors
Waifs in the waves

Uplifted
Transported to parts unknown

Off to the hinterland
Hindering the lay of the land

They fell
Confused
But completely unharmed

Why would they be where they are?
But where are they, they wondered.
Why?
Where else but right now?
Confused, but completely unharmed.

Make the best of the opportunity
right now.

Feel the rhythm
Feel the groove
The jazz of the city.

One rose to the top
amidst the harbingers of fame
fortune and glory.

Kick rocks.
Shine box.
Shove a man in the trunk if he dares bring up the past.

We are living now!
For the now!
This is ours!

Quiet.

We miss the sea.
Floating.
It was nice there.
Deadly, but nice.
Peaceful.

The city is not peaceful, and not nice either.
Take me back to my biggest fear.

Sharks on the horizon.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Rhode Island Revolution



While perusing some of my old FSView & Florida Flambeau articles, I found this classic. My first editorial, written in May 2002.

Operation C.O.R.I.

My plan to conquer Rhode Island was born at a time of so many of my other great ideas- during a night of drunken debauchery. I figured there hadn’t been any good insurrections in America in a while, so why not?

Rhode Island was the perfect place to start my revolution, I explained to anyone who would dare listen. It is the smallest state in the union and can’t have that many people to defend it. In addition it is neither a road nor an island. The inhabitants have to call themselves “Islanders” and they don’t even live on an island. Only the all-powerful Man has the power to manipulate people like that. Down with the Man!

I quickly dubbed my plan Operation C.O.R.I. (Conquerors of Rhode Island). All that was needed was some troops. I couldn’t do this alone. My roommate was the first to decline his assistance, and the rest of my friends quickly followed. I would have to look elsewhere. Where was anyone’s sense of adventure?

Using my military background and knowledge of warfare, I knew there were several ways to go about Operation C.O.R.I. We- me and my soon-to-be-legion of followers- could try to invade Rhode Island by force ourselves or we could get the local populace to rise up against their oppressors like the United States did in Afghanistan. Since I didn’t (and still don’t) have the financial backing to buy weapons of mass destruction, psychological warfare would have to be the way to go.

More beer led to the idea that my band of rebels would need Viking helmets, since no invasion is complete without Viking helmets. I knew there was even a store in the Governor’s Square Mall that could supply us with these helmets, as well as swords, battle-axes, and armor. Everything a good invasion needed.

My crew would also need a Volkswagen bus. You can’t make an interstate trek without a VW bus. Before we depart we would need to paint revolutionary slogans on the side of the bus. I came up with two on the spot: “You’re not a road! You’re not an island! You’re not sheep! Stand Defiant!” and “Hey Providence! We are Anti-Dominance!” Finally, we needed plenty of flyers calling the people to action and signs for us to hold in protest in front of the Rhode Island capital building.

I concluded my riotous rhetoric by claiming that even if the operation was a failure, we couldn’t get in any trouble. After all, protesting the oppression of the Rhode Island people was perfectly within our First Amendment rights. It was up to the people to decide whether or not to rise up.

Even now, I don’t know what we would have done with Rhode Island if my plan were a success. I guess I would try my hand in national representation and become Supreme Ruler of the Land Formerly Known as Rhode Island. But how would I govern a million ex-Rhode Islanders? What if I had to defend against an insurrection? The whole thing seems like too much work. Maybe I just need to think less when I go out drinking.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Best of Times



It finally happened. Kinda.

Today I read a very creative and witty article by a writer for my former college newspaper, the FSView & Florida Flambeau. In his piece, The Great War: Logos, Uniforms, and Fear, FSView sports editor Perry Kostidakis comments and parodies the divide in Florida State fans, alumni, and students over the newly revealed Seminole logo.

The whole article is great and it's obvious Kostidakis had fun writing it. But one part stood out.

Midway through the article, Kostidakis references Dr. Seuss's Butter Battle Book.
 He screams, “Here’s the end of that terrible town! Full of ’Noles who like logos that frown!”

And, suddenly, at the very instant we heard a klupp-klupp of feet on the wall and a older man climbs up! The boys in HIS back room have made him one too! In his fist was another IgnitionTradition!

“I’ll blow you,” he yelled, “into pork and wee beans! I’ll tomahawk chop all of you small teens!”

“Grandpa!” I shouted. “Be careful! Oh, gee! Who’s going to drop it? Will you…? Or will he…?

“Be patient,” said Grandpa. “We’ll see. We will see…”

Genius.

After I read the article, I contacted Kostidakis on twitter to tell him I enjoyed his article and that I appreciated his reference of one of my favorite books. He was kind enough to reply.

Granted, "hero" was tongue-in-cheek, and only contained to the fact that I recognized his reference. I doubt Kostidakis has read any of my work, and I doubly doubt he has perused the FSView archives to find my ancient articles. I also can't say I have read much of his work either, so I can't tell whether this was a rare showing of creativity, or whether he thinks out of the box often. A quick Google search shows his YouTube page does show originality and his article about his mother is extremely powerful.

But it is his "hero" comment that reminded me of this - one of my final articles for the FSView. Originally written on 6/19/2003.

The Best of Times

One phrase I have heard time and time again is that my college years would be the best years of my life. Well, now that they are over, I guess it’s all downhill from here.

Soon my time at the FSView & Florida Flambeau will end. Currently, I have no idea what the future will bring. But seeing that the best years of my life are past, will it really matter? No matter where I go and no matter what I do, all I have to look forward to is 60 or so years of looking back at past glory. Looking back at a time when I was at the top of my game.

A time when I was a writer and then editor at the FSView & Florida Flambeau.

“He was the greatest,” many said. “Witty and creative. Truly a pleasure to read.”

Others, of course, disagreed, proving the old adage “you can’t please all the people all the time.” They called me “pathetic,” said I needed therapy and even labeled me extremely unethical. But their jeers were often drowned out by lengthy applause and accolades.

Barring a response from any of the employers I have so far contacted, I plan to be living in a cardboard box behind Wal-Mart by the middle of August. Hopefully I can find a box big enough to fit me, my college diploma and a few copies of Home and Garden Magazine (for the homemaker in us all).

Life will surely continue down the slippery slope towards obscurity in 2004. By mid-year, liquor store employees across the capital city will know me by name and bartenders will have “the usual” set in front of “Mike’s seat” moments before I walk in.

As the years move on, so too will I, wondering the empty roads, telling anyone who will listen about my days at Florida State. I will be a shell of my once proud and accomplished self. Hair down to my ankles, clothes made stiff by grime, I will drift across the nation. Washing dishes in Topeka so that I can travel to Seattle. Panhandling in New York to get to Los Angeles.

I might even make as far north as Alaska and live in the wilderness like Ted Kaczynski or Eric Rudolph.

But wherever I go, I know I will hear the whispers.

“Isn’t that Mike Lortz?” they will ask each other. “I heard he was once a great and powerful writer. A writer that could slay armies single handedly and have lightning bolts shoot out of his eyes. Yet he doesn’t look eight feet tall.”

Then, one day, many, many years from now, I will make my way to the town that made me so briefly famous – Tallahassee. There, a young FSView & Florida Flambeau writer will approach me and ask how he or she can make the jump from a good writer to a great one in order to win the coveted “Mike Lortz Writer of the Year Award.”

“Is it true you were hired by the legendary Chris Townsend and worked alongside the great Khuong Phan?” he or she will ask.

“Ah yes,” I will recall. “But don’t forget I spent most of my time under the watchful eye of Joe Friedman. Those were my glory days. My college years. The best years of my life.”

“Wow, Mr. Lortz, you truly are a legend. I want to be just like you.”

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ancient AfroSquad video from back in the day

While digging in the underbelly of the Internet, way below the Prime Meridian, far below where Optimus Prime dare go, I found an ancient video. I dusted it off, gave it two blows to the nose, and checked the scrolls. It was a sign by the AfroSquad forefathers, who couldn't decide among the four of them who the daddy was. So they dropped this piece of funktasticalness on the world. It's so funky it makes your grandmother swap out her gym socks.

Check, check, check it out.



Seven years ago, the founders of the AfroSquad posted this. Hard to believe youtube has been around that long. Yet The Man still prevails.

AfroSquad for life.