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

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Canadian Adventures Part II

I got off the bus in Vancouver and took their above-ground rail system toward my temporary digs. On my way, I stumbled upon a Costco and I grabbed a hot dog because having been out of the States for almost 45 minutes had caused me to grow rather homesick.

Then I got to my Airbnb apartment and it was just as amazing as it looked in the pictures. I departed to hit Gas Town, which is a touristy part of town and was disappointed with how lame it was, but I was able to buy my friend a Vancouver White Caps tee, so there was some success.

And aside from terribly kitschy Canada tourist junk, I stumbled upon a rack of this:
and a rack of this:
Both of which made me very happy.

Then after walking around in the pouring rain for a few hours I went back to my apartment and talked to Jennifer, who was my Airbnb hostess. She was insanely nice and answered my many questions on her Airbnb career and about Canada. She told me she'd hosted about 40 travelers and they were all great except for one Middle Eastern guy who tried to treat her like a slave because she was a woman. One of her favorite guests was a single 50-year-old woman who stayed with her for two weeks during the Olympics.

Jennifer said she could tell why the woman was single because she had five cats. Which is only two more cats than Jennifer kept in her apartment, but apparently the difference between three and five is a lot to cat people.

As you'd expect from anyone who continuously lets random strangers stay in their home, Jennifer was slightly off. She told me she was dating a 35-year-old Aussie who she would move in with, except that he lives with his mom in Victoria. To which I responded, "Isn't that were Steve Nash is from?" because I was unsure of what else I might have to say about her relationship. She loved her three cats to death. Their names were Bean, Bertha and Buddy, who as she told me, despite his name, he won't be your buddy. I was OK with this as I was mainly looking for a nice place to stay and I did not need too much cat companionship.

Jennifer was kind enough to let me use her netbook. "Just log in under Bean Industries, it's Bean's fictional company," she told me. Of course it was.

She recalled the time Bertha was Facebook, but she had to delete Bertha's account because it maxed at the capacity of 5,000 friends and was constantly receiving "lewd messages" from other cats on Facebook. I never knew Facebook had a cat cybering underbelly, but it sounded about right.

Jennifer also told me that she had a brother who was 11 years younger than her and did not hesitate to let me know he was the accident child. He worked at McDonald's and she was now studying public health at the local community college after she quit her job at the train station. All of which did not explain how she was living in the nicest apartment of the 25th floor of a brand new apartment building in downtown Vancouver. Maybe she ran a paysite for Bertha.

When I wasn't eating delicious teriyaki udon noodles and watching hockey with Jennifer, I was exploring the city and being continually underwhelmed. I visited a thrift shop with hopes of finding any piece of Vancouver Grizzlies gear, but I came up with nothing, which made me feel like the whole trip was for not. The coolest thing I did was visit the campus of the University of British Columbia, where I walked around listening to weird Moby songs on a dark cloud-covered day as I reflected upon my own college experience and let shit get real. There is heavy sarcasm in that last sentence, I just needed to clarify that.

I went in as many buildings as I could. Their rec center is shit compared to Arizona's, but then again Arizona's is rather insane, and the UBC rec did have an actual dojo, so maybe they win.

Their campus was directly next to Wreck Beach, which apparently is a popular nude beach in the summer, but during the winter it was just a spooky, log covered beach that was entirely empty except for a bum and a skim boarder.

The proudest point of the trip was when Jennifer taught me the names of all the provinces and I felt like a better American for actually knowing something about our neighbors up north. Then the next day I realized there were northern territories that I was completely oblivious to, and I again felt retarded.

Overall Canada was nice and Jennifer left me the following feedback on my Airbnb account, which I am now considering adding to my resume:

"Justin was a terrific guest - I can't really say enough great things about him! It was more like having family over for a visit and he's welcome back anytime.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Canadian Adventures Part I

This blog has been many things. From the ultimate go-to site for dramatically exaggerated/partially-fictional Nic Wise game recaps to a place where I could dump throw-away posts to make myself kinda feel like a writer and perhaps convince potential employers I was a legitimate writer (which that run-on sentence disproves), but I think in its prime WPM was a travel blog. So now I am gonna temporarily throw the blog back into a travel blog to recount my memories from a trip I took to the great Pacific Northwest, because the end of April seems as good a time as any to publish stories from my late January travels.

I spent the majority of the time in Seattle, and maybe just one day I'll write about that, but let's get to Vancouver.

I had never been to Canada, but its awesomely harmless reputation as a country that puts out hockey players, dope basketball podcasts and Steve Nash has intrigued me my whole life and by whole life I mean the portion of my life that occurred after I was exposed to Nash and The Basketball Jones.

And this life goal was achieved because I had a week off between transitioning jobs, I got a cheap ticket from NYC to Seattle and decided Monday, January 24 would be the day I got on a shitty Greyhound bus and left a dreary Seattle for an even more dreary Vancouver. The day before I booked a ridiculously-nice-looking apartment at on airbnb.com, I had used this site often at my former job, where I would waste countless hours of my life planning trips I did not have the time or money for.

But now it was finally go time, I actually needed a place and a kind woman on airbnb was offering her apartment in downtown Vancouver for only $50 a night, which was a bit more than I was looking to spend, but the apartment had floor-to-ceiling windows in every room that overlooked the entire city, my bedroom had a balcony from which you could see the BC Place Stadium, which hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 Olympics, the apartment building also featured a jacuzzi, gym, sauna and steam room, so I figured I'd get my $50 worth.

Airbnb itself is an awesome, but weird site that works on the premise that human beings are good people. Creating a profile was as simples as providing a name and valid e-mail address. Then I wrote a short message to the woman hosting the lavish apartment with some vague generalities about myself and my travel plans. She accepted and just like that I had a place to stay and a host in Vancouver, even though all she knew about me was that my name was Justin, I lived in NYC, and this would be my first time in Canada. She said she would be in class when I was scheduled to arrive so she would leave a key to her place with the doorman of her building.

I was very impressed with her faith in humanity as I could have been a killer, thief, sexual predator or the kind of sick fuck who would delete unwatched episodes of House Hunters off her DVR.

Backing up to international voyage, I had an interesting encounter at the Canadian customs. Having lived most my life in a state where border issues involve an all-out drug war on top of a million other issues, I figured the Canadian border would much more relaxed, and as a result I got in a very weird mood and decided to lie with every word I said to the Canadian border patrol agent. I really don't know what provoked this as I don't lie much and I tend not to enjoy people who lie, but the following conversation was had:

Border Patrol Agent Woman: Where do you live now?

Me: Arizona.

Her: What do you do there?

Me: I work for a magazine.

Her: Who are you visting in Canada?

Me: A friend from college.

Her: What does she do in Vancouver.

Me: She works for a bank.

This banter continued for a little bit as I kept fabricating a simple story as I assumed the issue of me living in a different place than my passport indicated would blow her mind and cause more confusion then if I made up a simple story. Although every other person on our bus was able to quickly get back on the bus, the agent must have seen my eyes darting in many directions, so she put me aside. Then she went in a back room with my passport to analyze my information further or maybe update her Twitter on what a dumbass I was. I really don't know what she did back there, but the whole time I was sitting there thinking that this is going to be awkward as I have to fess up to why I lied about everything.

Finally she returned, handed me my passport and told me I was good to go. Little did she know I was leading a double life as a job-transitioning New Yorker. Got her.

Part II will come tomorrow...maybe.

Monday, March 07, 2011

My Room & CO

The other night (by other night I mean about two months ago and I'm just now posting this underwhelming story) my radiator was making enough noise to keep me up for the majority of the night. As I laid in my bed hoping the incessant clanking noises would miraculously end, my sleep-deprived rage turned into sleep-deprived paranoia that my room was slowly filling with carbon monoxide and I would die in the 20 minutes of sleep I might get that night.

Fortunately I did not die as God must have had a higher calling for me, a higher calling that I tried to fulfill by wasting away the following day at work reading Gothamist. As I sifted through an unhealthy amount of local aggregated news, I read the account of a carbon monoxide detector saving a Brooklyn resident's life. That was the final sign that I needed a carbon monoxide detector more than I needed to save my money to buy another pair of Arizona Wildcats mesh shorts.

During my lunch break that day, I walked over to K-Mart to purchase the life-saving device. I saw one for $54, which I figured my life was not worth, but settled on a nice one that only set me back $24. I then recanted my terribly boring lunch break to my friends via e-mail to let them now about my new air-monitoring toy.

My friend Gould brought up the great point on how it's not often in life we can determine a monetary value for our lives, but agreed that $24, "Feels about right."

Sep chastised me for wasting $24 on what could have bought me three whole 2 Bros pizzas.

I was just that I could potentially sleep without the fear of dying from carbon monoxide poisoning, which was a good way to live life until my radiator leaked for a week while I was gone causing severe water damage to my wood floor. Now I sleep with the healthy paranoia that I'm inhaling mold spores which will eventually cause me a slow and painful death.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Chicken Teriyaki

A while back my friend Sep forwarded me a link to Midtown Lunch, a blog promoting a new Midtown Manhattan teriyaki chicken restaurant with a contest that would award three winners a year supply of 'yaki. As a massive chicken teriyaki fan who lives in a city that lacks an affordable 'yaki bowl, this was my pretty much my only chance at happiness in life.

I entered the contest and patiently waited for the editors to contact me and tell me I won. Then the editors never contacted me, which was bullshit in my mind, so I wrote them to express my grievances. Midtown Lunch's editor agreed that my entry was the best, but said they selected winners randomly and as a consolation prize of sorts he offered me the chance to be a profiled Midtown Lunch'er.

I obliged and filled out his questionnaire in a voice that was equal parts: cockiness from just landing a new, cool job, euphoria from just landing a new job outside of Midtown, and hatred for Midtown Lunch for denying me a year's supply of 'yaki bowls.

I was extremely happy with it when I submitted it. Then when I read it online, I was slightly concerned at how I came off, but I think that had more to do with me lonely in British Columbia and slightly depressed from Vancouver's excessive rain. But that is a story for another post.

The comments are all pure genius as well, especially because it allowed for one of the few times in my life where I could've worn a "Hi Hater" t-shirt.

Ultimately it's a silly food blog profile, but it's more than that. Those motherfuckers wronged me and I got my retribution (I think) while showing the whole world how much I love teriyaki chicken and in the end isn't that what life is all about.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Aside from strap-hangers who rap about McDonald's for change*, teachers are my favorite subway riders. I have an immense respect for anybody who edits a stack of papers on the subway and for some reason the sight of a teacher working on his commute brings me great joy.

A few weeks ago my friends at Gelf asked me to edit another writer's article. I printed it out, grabbed a red pen and went to work on the subway. I made sure I held the red pen in my mouth so everyone would think I was a teacher and respect me. I also exaggerated all my edits and smiled a lot hoping people would draw the connection that I was grading the paper of an inner-city kid who I had helped to overcome his unfathomably terrible background and learning disabilities to finally understand our class's lesson.

When in reality I was editing an interview of Matt Timms, who was promoting his World's Biggest Jerk Off (SFW) event, by a writer who is a Yale graduate.

Still I feverishly scribbled down all my edits and shook my head a lot so other strap-hangers could see what a hard-working teacher I am. As I approached my final stop, I scribbled an A+ atop the first page, which made about as much sense as writing a blog post full of grammar errors about editing.

*I never give money or attention to singing bums unless I'm high and there is an group harmonizing Lion King songs a Capella or The McDonald's rapper is in my presence. I have only seen the McDonald's rapper once, but he killed it. He boarded the train, politely told everyone he was gonna rap and then began the most passionate and sincere rap about McDonald's.

The hook was something along the lines of "Yeah I love Mickey D's!" which was good enough for a single and a single dollar in my book. But once he dropped a line about McFlurries (a line I was waiting for the entire song) I realized I needed to give him a few more, mainly because you can't buy a McFlurry for $1. His flow was amazing, he managed to hit every item on the menu and he rapped with a passion for McDonald's that was truly inspirational. After he finished I handed him a few singles and he gave me the most heart-felt smile I have ever received from a human not named Seth Janiga.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Forging Happiness

On the same day I posted a desperate attempt to help the St. Labre Indian School and make it look like I still write regularly on this blog, I received another letter at my work. This one was not quite as depressing as the parched Native Americans, as it was just an 8-year-old from Staten Island asking Dustin Pedroia for his autograph and some other trivial questions.

My immediate thoughts were to write him back an extremely bizarre letter. The kid asked Pedroia if he uses steroids, and I had already wrote the first two paragraphs of a letter from Pedroida graphically describing his steroid use in my head. Then I thought to myself, do I really want to write a letter to this kid that will surely baffle him and leave him hating his childhood hero? No, because I'd prefer waste the five minutes it would take to write the letter doing stuff even less productive. And also because it seemed like a mighty fucked up thing to do for a kid who already lives in Staten Island.

So I followed my protocol of handling letters from misguided fans and let it collect dust on my desk. Then I got a new job and I was feeling very good about life. As I cleaned up the clutter on my desk, I decided I should return the kid's letter. So I wrote him a quick letter thanking him and encouraging him to enjoy life and not play video games so much, which accompanied a freshly-forged autograph of Dustin Pedroia on the card he sent with his letter.

I felt really good about myself especially because I am 100 percent certain this will spark the butterfly affect which will make this Staten-Island-Dustin-Pedroia fan help every underprivileged Native American in Montana and all will be right in the world.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

For the People

In June of 2009 a letter was sent to my office addressed to Scottie Pippen. My company had never worked with Pippen and had zero affiliation with him, so naturally I figured I was the best-suited person to open the letter.

The letter ended up being extremely depressing as it was written in hopes that Scottie Pippen could fix a failing water well for a Native American school on an Indian reservation. Nobody at my work could do anything about it, mainly because I threw it in the corner of my desk before anybody else could see it. I then decided that instead of researching a method to get the letter to Mr. Pippen himself, my time would be better spent bullshitting with my friends on Gmail and reading Brandon Jennings' Twitter. And for that I am going to hell.

The letter sat in the corner of my desk collecting dusk. I would look at it often and be saddened by the poor Indians and their quickly depleting source of fresh water. More troubling was Sue Mueller's complete lack of direction in that she sent a hand-written letter to the completely wrong person.

Now in early January 2010 I have decided the best way to help Ms. Mueller and her gang of thirsty Indians is to post the letter on my blog.

Would a younger version of myself mocked Ms. Mueller for her terrible grammar and shot-in-the-dark attempt to get an African-American basketball player who lives in Chicago to help a bunch of Native Americans in Montana? Maybe.

But the older, wiser version of myself recalls the lessons I learned in college in my Native Americans in Film class (Wait didn't I drink before that class just to make it easier to fall asleep? Maybe.) I am well aware that my own writing is riddled with errors and its sole purpose is to entertain a friend or two who still reads this blog. I've also sent more than my fair share of shot-in-the-dark letters to random people in NYC hoping they might be able to get me a cooler job.

The last thing I should is hate on a woman who desperately cares about these Indians' well-being. I'll allow you to pause for a second to appreciate that gem of a "well" pun I just laid down.

So Scottie Pippen if you're out there enjoying your retirement reading blogs barely related to Paul McPherson, please help the students of St. Labre Indian School. Ms. Mueller if you stumble across this, explain yourself for having a return address in southern Illinois and trying to help a school in Montana. St. Labre Indian School, please explain how you don't have a running well but your website is better than my high school's.

Here is the letter in its entirety (click to enlarge).

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Not Tucson Velo

I read TucsonVelo.com 10 times a day despite the fact that the site normally updates only 6 times a week. It remedies my homesickness for all things biking and Tucson.

It also makes me feel like an ass because it's creator, Mike McKisson has a few full time jobs, a wife, a little kid and more responsibilities than I can fathom and his website is still infinitely better and consistent than my joke of a site. Sidenote: Mike's weight loss via bike is a great, great story.

I really respect his blog because it is written with real journalism skills such as proper sourcing, submissions for information, actual analysis and other legit components my site never attempted. Even his "Rider of the week" feature is done very well.

Here is my bike of the week, which I can guarantee you will not be a recurring feature on WPM.

I was walking down the street when I saw a bike standing by itself playing Jadakiss loudly. I really enjoy biking and I really enjoy Jadakiss, so I took a picture of the bike.

Then the owner of the bike walked out of the neighboring bodega. I complimented his bike. He stopped for a second, walked over to his bike, pulled out a half-smoked cigarette from a pouch on his bike, lit it and told me it was his brother's, but he's in jail so the bike is his now.

"Good deal," I said.

"Well it's not a good deal that he's in jail, but it's a great bike," he replied.

I agreed and made some other small talk before he got distracted by a fat-assed woman who passed us by.

Monday, January 10, 2011

My people

One Friday night I thought I was going to an off-Broadway play rehearsal starring Brad Garrett. I’ve never had the desire to see a Broadway show and I hate Everybody Loves Raymond. But all three of my friends were going and I was told the tickets were free. So I went along with it.

The Robert Barone-led play reading ended up being a very elaborate hoax put on by my friends to trick me into attending a Kate Nash concert.

This was extremely awkward for several reasons:
1. I had no idea I would be attending a Kate Nash concert until I entered the concert venue.
2. I prefer to enjoy Kate Nash within the privacy of my Zune’s headphones.
3. In spite of No. 2 I constantly brag about listening to Kate Nash to show how “cool and different” I am in that I enjoy Raekwon, Gucci Mane and the Brit-pop sounds of Kate Nash.
4. None of my friends enjoy Kate Nash. Best illustrated by the quote of the night: “When you said you liked this shit I figured it had good production or something, but it’s just really fucking gay.”
5. Her audience was primarily lesbians, feminists and really fucking weird teenage girls
6. In between sets Kate Nash gave estrogen-charged diatribes. Many of which will be mocked back to me for the rest of my life. I really don’t believe I will live another week on earth without one of my friends texting me, “You’re not afraid of a woman with opinions, are you?”

Throughout the show as the weirdo fans yelled weirdo shit, Sep would try to yell over them, “These are J’s people!”

I just stood there uncomfortably. Happy to hear Kate Nash’s music. Wildly perplexed by her fan base. And still baffled that my nightly entertainment switched from Raymond’s brother to a Brit-pop feminist without me any the wiser.

A week after the Kate Nash concert/fiasco with the shouts of “These are J’s people!” still echoing in my ears I was I was actually surrounded by people I’d consider “my people.”

The feminist teenagers screaming “You rock Kate!” were replaced by hardcore hoops junkies all in attendance for a FreeDarko discussion based around their new book, The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History, moderated by Will Leitch.

After devouring a slice of Artichoke pizza and running to the event, I claimed a seat for myself and my Gmail acquaintance Andrew, who I see every few months yet talk to almost daily via g-chat to discuss the NBA.

I grabbed a book and went up the table of FreeDarko writers where I was pleasantly surprised with Lang Whitaker also being on the discussion panel. Lang contributed a chapter to the book breaking down the Dream Team II, the ‘94 World Championship squad that featured a very young Shaq, Kemp and LJ. The team is infamous for defining American sports douchery as they went out of their way to win every game by at least 60 points while grabbing their crotches after every dunk.

Lang is also my personal hero as I read his “Links” column every day from 7th grade to sophomore year of college until he more or less quit the column. He stills writes for Slam and a bunch of other stuff and he’s the reason I was a journalism major, yada, yada, yada, continued dick sucking, etc, etc.

Since living in the city, I’ve met him a few times and he gave me a “What’s up?” before I said, "What’s up?” to him, so in the eyes of high school Justin Adler I have made it in life.

Maybe I should jump to why I love FreeDarko. I rarely read their blog because their long, intelligent essays are not as digestible as dumbass Ball Don’t Lie or Gothamist posts and also because I am barely literate. However their first book is fucking awesome and unlike anything I have ever seen.

It’s a collection of insane stats, wild philosophies and more insane illustrations that compare NBA fourth quarters before the shot clock in 1952 to the English Countryside and its enclosure-induced agricultural revolution.

To quote people far smarter than myself: “Baseball has its numbers and football has its hard hits, but basketball, more than those sports, has style. And no one has done more to try to capture that than the collection of bloggers known as FreeDarko.”

Something I shamefully never knew was how legit the FreeDarko writers were. The illustrator has worked for the New Yorker, one writer, whose pen name is Dr. Lawyer Indianchief has a Ph.D. In psychology from the University of Chicago, another works for Harper’s, Silverbird 5000, their stat guy is getting his doctorate from Yale and is the “founder, editor, and sole proprietor of the only blog devoted exclusively to the English Revolution of 1640.”

The other dudes live in Seattle and San Francisco, an accomplishment in itself.

The discussion itself was cool. They spent a lot of time discussing the fight chart in their book, which shows every NBA player who has ever been in an on-court fight and who they fought.

They all articulated why they love the game and what makes the Timberwolves awesome.

Throughout the discussion I was flipping through the new book for the first time. I love it because even though I spend way too much time reading wildly unimportant shit about obscure NBA players, the book offers many more retarded facts that I did not know.

Example: Famed draft bust Leon Smith once beat the shit out his then-girlfriend Cappie Pondexter. Or that Kwame Brown did not know how to use a laundry machine or dry cleaning during his rookie season so he bought new clothes and suits.

There is also a list of the top 15 Bill Walton broadcasting quotes that had me laughing out loud. “Yesterday we celebrated Sir Isaac Newton's discovery of gravity. Today Francisco Oberto is defying it... If Eric Piatkowski continues playing at this level, he's going to replace Jerry West on the NBA logo."

Afterward I went up got my book signed and told writer Brown Recluse, Esq. that he does God’s work, normally a line I reserve for the dude who makes me a milkshake when I am high and I don’t know what else to say to express my gratitude.

I talked with Lang for a while about AI and Turkey. Then I did my token small talk with Leitch, Craggs and Rafe, all former Gelf speakers who kinda know me.

Then I kicked with Andrew and watched 15 minutes of League Pass before heading to the official FreeDarko after party at a nearby bar.

Andrew works for Viacom and that day their CEO gave his massive workforce a speech. Then the guys from The Burried Life (which I then learned is a douchey show on MTV about young, rich d-bags completing their bucket list) came to the presentation and starting granting employees’ bucket list wishes. Andrew told me the Viacom intranet required everyone to submit one bucket list wish a few weeks earlier.

The Buried Life cast awarded one employee with the chance to meet and sing with Barbara Streisand. Somebody else got an iPad. Another got a roundtrip flight anywhere in the world. The final person was Andrew.

The Viacom CEO then said, “Andrew you said you wanted 1,000 followers on Twitter, we’ll guess what, we are going to link your Twitter on The Buried Life’s Twitter and we are going to get you 1,000 followers!”

After Andrew told me this, I paused and then said, “You do realize that fucking sucks, right?”
“Of course it fucking sucks. I hate it. I feel like a moron and I’m embarrassed,” Andrew said. I then realized why he sat through the whole FreeDarko talk on his BlackBerry deleting e-mails alerting him of new followers.

I asked him if he Tweets a lot or is a big Twitter fan.

“I tweet my fucking lunch and that’s it,” he said. “Everyone else got crazy gifts worth hundreds of dollars and I got 1,000 fucking Twitter followers.”

Then I left Andrew and his Twitter army and went to the bar. I got my overpriced Bud Light bottle and shot the shit with Lang for a bit. Then at one point I spoke to Lang and Leitch (my internet heroes of high school and college, respectively) at one time which caused my head to slightly explode.

Then I went home ate cookies with milk, watched the Knicks post game show in complete and wondered how I would one day be tricked into see an Adele concert.