justin adler, blog, buenos aires, bahia blanca, university of arizona, brooklyn, basketball, travel, paul mcpherson

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Gelf Articles Part 2

Here’s a small collection of
Gelf Magazine articles I wrote during the most wherespmac recent hiatus. In an effort to stretch out these posts, and because I myself don’t read anything over 300 words, I’ve broke this collection into two posts. I owe my Gelf editors a huge thank you for forcing me to keep writing and allowing me to interview some awesome people.

Interview with Tommy Craggs
Deadspin.com senior editor

There was a period in my life when Deadspin was my favorite thing in life. I believe this followed my most delusional stage, when I proclaimed HBO’s Entourage to be my favorite thing in life.

Currently “Freaking out about life/my job” is my favorite thing in life* and in this bold, new era, I’m no longer that into Deadspin. I credit this to the site being a shell of its former self and my maturity level raising. While both are partially true, the Gawker network being blocked at my work is probably the biggest factor. Especially when the I consider the garbage blogs I read at work and my involvement in wildly immature e-mail chains on a daily basis.

The Gawker office was of course stupid cool. They have a cool location, cool building, cool roof deck, cool computers, cool shit on their desks and I presume most their employees are cool people. Craggs at least was cool and it fulfilled the 21-year-old version of me’s dream to be in the Deadspin office and watch Craggs post the DUAN.

I think the corresponding article came out pretty well too.

*That’s actually a lie. Planetariums are my current favorite thing in life.

Interview with Seth Wickersham
ESPN The Magazine senior writer

I wrote this article in late February and as I was rereading it I thought it was one of those interviews where I asked the subject a bunch of questions about helping my own career and completely fail to ask questions that could lead to decent article. When I wrote for the long-deceased goazcatsblog.com I once posted a Q&A with Channing Frye that solely consisted of questions on how he grew his blog.

Then I remembered that this article was more than a self-help article as most of the questions came from Wickersham’s friend and coworker, Grant Wahl, a crazy legit writer who would never use “crazy legit” to describe anything. Wahl is known for his long-form features which each involve more research and work than I have ever done in my whole life.

If you are into sports writing and the some of the behind-the-scenes elements, then read the interview. Or read it if you just want a “Where are they now?” with people who once guarded Trajan Langdon.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Gelf Articles Part 1

Here’s a small collection of Gelf Magazine articles I wrote during the most wherespmac recent hiatus. In an effort to stretch out these posts, and because I myself don’t read anything over 300 words, I’ve broke this collection into two posts. I owe my Gelf editors a huge thank you for forcing me to keep writing and allowing me to interview some awesome people.

Interview with Roger Bennett

Author of Everything You Know is Pong, and a bunch of books on Judaism, ESPN writer and guy who speaks about soccer on TV a lot

Roger and I planned on meeting at a bar in an Upper West Side restaurant for the interview. I got to the packed spot a few minutes before him and when he arrived I let me him know that it was full.

“Well, fuck it then,” he said before we paced to his back up back bar. Roger wore the same jacket that Carmelo Anthony wore the night before in his postgame interview (see photo above). This is only relevant because rarely does someone meet all my standards of cool within 20 seconds. Yes, my standards of cool consist solely of profanity and any allusion to Melo.

Aside from those important elements, Roger is a great guy. After the interview we discussed Iverson playing in Turkey and he urged me to get on the next flight over there and he said a lot of other shit to inspire/motivate me in life. We’ll see if I act on any of it.

After I wrote the article, I thanked him for the time and awkwardly linked him to the video of Melo wearing his jacket. He was very appreciative and when I saw him a week later he told me his basketball-obsessed 6-year-old son now calls his balding, Jewish father is Melo when he wears the jacket. Never before did I think my unnecessary knowledge of Melo’s wardrobe would strengthen a father-son relationship, but I’m glad I could help.

All bullshit irrelevance aside, Roger worked on books with Nick Kroll, Will Shortz, Nick Hornby and Steve Nash. He’s a brilliant dude and his newest book is great if you like ping pong, good writing or books with cool pictures.

Interview with Rafe Bartholomew
Author of Pacific Rims: Beermen Ballin' in Flip-Flops and the Philippines' Unlikely Love Affair with Basketball, former Harper’s Magazine editor

I like to think Rafe is like me if I were smarter, more motivated and stuck with journalism. After college, he got a Fulbright Scholarship to study the basketball culture in the Philippines. He ended up living there for 3 years. Aside from becoming the leading American scholar on Filipino hoops, he made an appearance on the country’s biggest game show and soap opera. All me to excerpt my own article:
Bartholomew also stumbled into small-time television fame after his role on the show Bakekang: He played a racist who sleeps with the show's main character before kicking her out of his bed and calling her an "ugly Jungle Book bitch."

"When people noticed me, they were pretty excited—high-fives, hugs, smiles. I posed for a lot of cellphone pictures with people's families and children," says Bartholomew, who also appeared on the game show Wowowee. "When it was in response to Bakekang, I felt a little awkward to be holding babies and putting my arm around people's kids, since my character was such a repulsive guy."

Rafe’s dad is also the longest-tenured employee of McSorley’s which is all sorts of awesome. He's connected to Cambridge Steve through Steve's Filipino girlfriend, which is all sorts of odd. Rafe is also the first and only person I have met who grew up in Manhattan and does not suck as a human being.

He recently quit his job at Harper’s and is going back to the Philippines without a real plan. He’s a fucking hero.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

One More Inconvenience

This is another tale of inconveniences. After this I'll resume normal WPM posts or just stop blogging. One of the two. Or are they the same thing?

At work I used to risk my freedom and commit credit fraud. Except I would not think of it like that, I thought of it more as an opportunity to leave behind the fluorescent lights and retina-scarring computer monitor and get out of the office.

Perhaps it would be wise to explain the credit fraud part now. My company often buys AmEx gift cards for our clients and I would use my coworker's credit card and ID to buy these cards. This saved him time and was an excuse for me to get out of the office, even if my journey took me to a Duane Reade and essentially was work-sanctioned credit fraud.

I had done this many times before as proof that I really am getting dumber every day with my current nine to five.

However on my most recent attempt the Duane Reade manager asked me for my ID upon my attempt to purchase over $1,000 in AmEx gift cards. I handed her my coworker, Willy's driver license, which has worked before since Willy and kinda look alike and since most Duane Reade employees don't give a fuck. About anything. At all.

"This does not look like you. I'm pretty sure this is not you," she said with her heavy Jamaican accent.

I gave her the classic "Come onnnnn" that always worked for getting my college dorm mates to smoke with me instead of doing their homework. Somehow it did not translate for buying $1,000 worth of gift cards with someone else's credit card.

Before I knew it I had another manager staring me down at the register and their ghetto security guard by my side.

"This does not look good for you she said," she said.

No it did not, I thought to myself before realizing I left my wallet and cell phone at work and this was going to be a tough one to get out of.

They gave me one phone call to try to get Willy on the phone. This would have been a good moment to have my cell on me, but instead I froze up and gave them my work extension since it was the only one I had memorized.

That moment of brilliance earned me a ticket to the Duane Reade holding cell/security cubicle where I would wait until the police showed up. The whole time I was not afraid I'd actually get in trouble, but I kept thinking how motherfucking inconvenient this all was.

The judgmental asshole in me was positive the Duane Reade security guard had committed more crimes over the weekend than I had in my entire life. He snapped my photo and told me, "Don't worry, I ain't gonna cuff you." I thanked him and sat in his box patiently waiting for the cops.

I sat there for a few minutes thinking about how I would beg the cops to escort me across the street, most likely in handcuffs, to my office. Then I would enter my office in cuffs and hope Willy could restore my freedom.

Then I began to pester the security guard, Jamal, to give me a second phone call. He finally caved in and by a miracle of God I remembered Willy's work line. Jamal somehow asked Willy a string of questions without conveying the essential fact that I was in a holding cell awaiting the police to come arrest me. In the background I kept yelling at Jamal to tell Willy to come down to Duane Reade.

After the longest 10 minutes of my life I saw Willy at the end of the store. I held my wrist up and clashed them, the universal hand gesture that I was locked up or a member of Jadakiss' record label.

Willy walked over, explained what happened and that I was not really committing credit fraud, it just looked exactly like I was.

Then three plain-clothes cops came in and began the 2:00 comedy hour. They kept telling dry joke after dry joke about taking us in and putting me in jail until I could show ID. Each time I would nervously ask if they were serious. Each time they'd deadpan me and say yes, wait 10 seconds and then admit to messing with me.

On an unrelated side note, I'd like to shadow the undercover cops for an hour in my work's precinct as every day I walk more than two blocks for lunch I see at least one drug transaction. And this is with highly untrained eyes that are more concerned with the line at 2 Bros than neighborhood drug trafficking.

Finally Willy and I were released. We tried to complete our initial order for the gift cards. Then we got back the office and realized after all that the manager who almost had me arrested fucked up the transaction and did not activate half the gift cards.

I now try to shop at Walgreens whenever possible.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Two Inconveniences

The nut and bolt that holds the handlebars on my Razor scooter secure to the rest of the frame has been missing since I found it near my neighbor's trashcan three months ago.

There is a very real possibility that the scooter was not trash in the first place, but belonged to a poor kid named Damion, who in my sick fantasy uses the scooter to explore the neighborhood and furthermore as an excuse to get out of his apartment when he could no longer stand to see his single mother physically abused by her boyfriend.

I prefer to believe the scooter was actually trash because it makes me feel less guilty about potentially stealing a poor, little kid's scooter, a scooter I barely use myself.

In fact, I am almost positive it was meant to be trash because it's a pain in the ass to ride a scooter with the handlebars not secured to the frame. Still it's tough to ignore the "Damion Cruz" Sharpied on to the bottom of the scooter.

Every weekend I scooter to the local mom-and-pop hardware store on the corner hoping to get the missing piece for my scooter. It's not so much a mom-and-pop store, but more a Italian-guy-with-a-neat-mustache store, and that fancily groomed Italian hates having his shop open.

Yesterday I rode there at 11 am, thinking that provided ample time for his spaghetti and wine hangover to have passed and for his shop to be open. It was closed, but the pet shop next door told me the friendly Italian would be in his store at 1:00. I returned at 1:30, but the shop was still closed. My Razor scooter would be incomplete for another week. I found this very inconvenient.

Then a few hours later while I was out with my friend my roommate called and told me the family room ceiling was pouring what appeared to be sewage water all over our family room. This was much more inconvenient especially since I had to deal with a gang of comically incompetent characters.

Our Hasidic Jewish manager and building owners celebrate every Jewish holiday, including some holidays that I am fairly certain they make up for their own convenience. After neither of them got back to me within the first three hours of my family room's flood I was worried I would not hear from them until Hannukah concluded.

Option B was our building's maintenance man, who is a decent handy man and a mediocre thief, as he stole my roommate's guitar the first time he worked on our house. He picked up the phone but said he was busy with his mariachi band until 1 am.

The building's super picked up the phone and told me in broken English that he was in Manhattan but two hours away from Brooklyn. This would make sense if it were 1882, but the advent of bridges and subways made his argument incomprehensible.

Eventually my building's owner got back to me. Instead of telling me how he'd resolve the situation he provided me with lectures on how accidents happen and humans are imperfect and how our ceiling raining shit was not his fault. After a lengthy discussion on when Shabbot officially ends, he told me he'd take care of everything, to which I understand to mean he'll take care of it within two weeks.

Damion Cruz's karma is a bitch.