Pages of Prose, The Written Word

The Day I Became a Coventry City Supporter

No Comments 08 April 2017

In our Coventry homes,
We speak with an accent exceedingly rare,
You want a cathedral we’ve got one to spare,
In our Coventry homes…

Culture: The sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another. Culture is transmitted, through language, material objects, ritual, institutions, art, and – in the most extreme cases football – from one generation to the next.

We landed in Gatwick at 8:32 (a.m.) and promptly caught the express to Victoria which is where everything started. It was subtle at first. Groups of two or three people donning Sky Blue shirts skittering amongst early Sunday morning crowds. Some chatted quietly, others – too anxious – simply navigated the Underground in anticipation.

While we’d been traveling for 8+ hours in many ways our journey was just beginning. Needing to drop our things before we headed to Wembley we continued on to the Victoria line (north) to Oxford Circus. As we waited for the Bakerloo line heading northbound numbers started to grow. Not just Sky Blue jerseys but yellow and black jerseys too. Their presence grew less subtle as volume increased.

Finally, arrived at Paddington we were hoping for a quick drop-in (maybe snap one off), leave our things and head towards Wembley for a few pre-game pints. For reasons I won’t get into here we ended up having to wait quite a spell for our flat owner due to a key mix-up and a general all around massive fuck-up by a wretched woman with her head so far up her arse she should consider proctology. Again, I won’t get into that here.

With the flat (finally) sorted we were on our way. Pip, pip!

Back on the tube the volume of supporters had grown dominating the lazy Sunday afternoon revelry. Primarily Sky Blue jerseys mixed – to a lesser degree – of yellow and black jerseys. And the songs start. Yes, I’d heard team supporters on TV sings songs/chants at matches. As an American I’d always been impressed/jealous of the crowd enthusiasm and interaction but seeing it in person is completely different. Amongst supporters anyone can start the song and immediately dozens (at least) jump in in support. In mixed company City supporters would start their anthem immediately rebutted by the Oxford United faithful. This is on public transportation – miles from the stadium.

Finally we switched over to the Metropolitan line for our final leg into Wembley. The train was packed full of CCFC fans. Young and old. In the final 20 minute ride decibel levels hovered between 85-100. For reference Black Sabbath concerts typically register at ~120 (on average).  The atmosphere was jubilant. The anticipation was palpable. Kinetic.

What specifically stood out to me was the older supporters making it a priority to include the young. There’s a fraternity there that cuts deeper than just one match. The team, the culture is present for everything. Bringing the younger fans in isn’t a chore. It’s shepherding a birthright. It’s an honor.

I’ll never forget the sight of Wembley as we got off the train. Organized chaos. Seas of people surging towards the stadium – yet, somehow parsing out by supporters. Black and yellow up the left ramp, Sky Blue up the right. In the states we don’t have the separation by supporters. It’s just a big jumble for better or worse. I understand the concept but seeing it in person, on that big of a scale was impressive. It has to be said – there seemed to be 3 or 4 Sky Blue jerseys for every Oxford United. Despite the differences one similarity this event had to other big time sporting events I’ve been to in America was the Jesus Freak. You know the type. I guess some things transcend culture & country. That poor bastard was there reminding us all that Jesus died for our sins. I only gave him a passing glance as we made our way into the stadium but at the time he was being approached by 4-5 clearly inebriated United fans. I was somewhat concerned for the zealot but soon got over it rationalizing that he put himself in that position.

We were lucky enough to have a friend (and CCFC supporter) already at the stadium that we were going to meet before kick-off. For those that haven’t been Wembley is massive. It took us a bit to navigate the crowds but we finally made the rendezvous point across from section 548.

“This is literally the best day of my life!” Tom yelled as he wrapped us up in a bear hug.

“You guys….landed this morning and came right here. You’re fucking insane! Here, meet my mom and dad.”

He was there with the entire family – brothers, sister et al. Our meeting consisted of sweaty hugs, spilled drinks, singing and some yelling. It was great! Tom, ever gracious, realized we had no beers and quickly went to remedy the situation.

“We really are shit this season” Tom said handing us our drinks. “But it doesn’t matter, this is literally the best day of my life”.

We chatted a bit more about the teams, match, our travels etc. The unbridled enthusiasm, jubilation and revery from Tom – and his family – was palpable. I’ve been to big games for my home teams and experienced nothing like this. On one of their biggest sporting days, before a crucial match the Fosters took us in like we were one of their own. Mr. Foster imploring my fiance – Kerry – “to come up to Shipley, we’ll cook you something nice”. It was incredible. Gametime fast approaching we bid farewell and heading for our seats.

Signs were posted everywhere clearly stating no alcohol be brought to the seats but the bloke sitting next to us didn’t seem to know/care. He came barrel-assing through with two meat-pies and 3 cups of red wine. Interesting combination. Other than his body odor I really liked his style.

God Save The Queen. Side announcements. All 75,000+ supporters accounted for – and we’re off!

The Sky Blue supporters were raucous. 43,000 people chanting in unison creates a wall of sound like I’ve never heard before. Frenetic energy mixed with some sloppy midfield play had the pace at a breakneck, end-to-end clip. Before we knew it the bloke next to us was 1 ½ pies in and slugging is merlot. At the 11 minute mark winger Jordan Willis sent a delicious cross into the box. Stuart Beavon’s attempted volley was blocked invitingly into Gael Bigirimana’s path for a somewhat easy finish.

1-0, CCFC! The supporters jumped and roared! The stadium was quaking! Our neighbor lost 2 cups of merlot but didn’t care. The underdogs had scored! Could momentum be setting in?

Despite the scoreline United always looked the stronger side – dominating possession and set pieces. Anxious play caused a few unfortunate off-sides. The pace of the game slowed as the minutes ticked away. City was primarily defending. Pressure was building and the Sky Blue supporters feared what seemed to be inevitable. Our neighbor in front sensed what was going on and lept to his feet. With a festive thrust of his hips he pointed to his crotch and taunted the United supporters with a chant of “suck my cock!”. The 43,000 Sky Blue supporters went ballistic.

Stand up,
If you love City,
Stand up,
If you love City,
Stand up,
If you love City…

The players, feeding off the crowd, finished the half strong. At the referee’s whistle the scoreline stood at 1-0, good guys.

The concourse was a melee at the half. City supporters were jubilant with a hint of cautious optimism. Surely United would capitalize on all this possession and equalize. Surely the Sky Blues couldn’t see this out…could they?!?!

Early on we knew there was no chance we’d reach a rendezvous with the Fosters. Even a beer was a bridge too far. Not wanting to miss any of the second half we returned to the seats.

After a cuppa the crowd filed in, the players took the field and the second half commenced. It only took 10 minutes for Coventry winger George Thomas to net a cracking goal further tilting the match for CCFC. Thomas neatly settled Kyel Reid’s left-wing cross at the top of the box before smashing a shot just inside the post, 2-0. The Sky Blue section went bananas! There were thrusts! There were taunts! There were cigarettes rolled! Our wine-glugging neighbor cursed at a prodigious pace! Hope sprung eternal! We were a half hour away from glory.

LET’S GO CITY!

Oxford felt the time crunch and began to press. They were relentless but City goalkeeper Lee Burge was a force between the pipes. First tipping Chris Maguire’s set piece over the bar in the 74th then – doing his best Patrick Roy impression – turning away Rob Hall’s shot with a kick save in the 76th. Tension was high – both sides began to grind. The clock continued to tick and the unbelievable became increasingly more believable!

LET’S GO CITY!

As we approached the 90th minute referee Chris Sarginson delivered the harshest blow yet to the Sky Blue supporters – 5 minutes of injury time. 5 MINUTES!? What a wanker!

United pressed – whipping in balls into the City box from all angles. Players were cramping. There were late substitutions trying to run the clock. Then – all looked lost for the Sky Blues. There was a scramble on the City goalmouth. Surely an Oxford player could get a toe on the ball and send this game to extra time. Alas Lee Burge, with an eggplant in his shorts, thrust out his bear-size paw and inexplicably saved Josh Ruffels’ shot. That’s it! The whistle blew! The game was over. City took the title. The unbelievable happened. CITY TOOK THE TITLE!

I thought back to our meeting with Tom pre-game. “This is literally the best day of my life!” – a storybook ending. I couldn’t be happier for him, the Fosters and the 43,000 supporters. I was just glad to be a part of it.

Anything you read will say Coventry City supporters are ‘long-suffering’. Long suffering because of their exile from the Top Flight? Long suffering because currently their team is owned by a soulless organization that has no business being there (Sisu)?  If the performance of the group on the pitch and the stands on that Sunday at Wembley is any indication – they are far from suffering.

Some say Coventry may get relegated yet again this season. For me – no matter. Wherever they end up I”ll be there.

In our Coventry homes,
We speak with an accent exceedingly rare,
You want a cathedral we’ve got one to spare,
In our Coventry homes…

 

reins, The Written Word

Taking a seat at the adult table

No Comments 02 November 2016

I took a seat at a highway 58 eastbound rest area to ponder the meaning of life. I wasnt sure if i had what it takes for this particular  struggle until I saw the writing on the wall:  ‘David was here ’07′, ‘David is a fag alwayz’, ‘that’s not cool’, ‘f u’, ‘Scraggy bangs ur mom’, and so on. What was i to do with all of new found  knowledge! With every passage of this learned doctrine i fell deeper into the wormhole. So much in fact that i would occasionally forget to push. The deeper i fell the more questions i had; mostly because I’ve never been in a position of determination, preparedness or coincidence to effectively scribe my own visionary message on powder coated bound sheet metal. That would all change on this day as i spent some time signing autographs in the parking lot for a large Asian family that didn’t speak English. I thought they were taking a picture of me but as more time elapsed in this menagerie of thoughts i began to think they could have been photographing anything.  Equipped with the same black Sharpie i penned the message, “To Whom It May Concern, I’m not really sure where to begin as I am a newbie with stall scripture.  The typically human has roughly 14 minutes of sitting time before their legs go completely numb. Don’t get so caught up in the reading that you forget to check for toilet paper before it’s too late. Better luck to you.”

Features, The Written Word, Top Ten

The Do’s & Don’ts for Labor Day Weekend

No Comments 30 August 2016

Enthusiasts,

If you’re like me you can’t put this summer in the rearview mirror quick enough. Am I right? Sweet Moses Malone was it a hot one! But fear not, sitting right in front of us is the perennial Gateway to Autumn. Ah, yes – Labor Day Weekend.

Now, I’m sure you’ve got lots of irons in the fire what with Back-to-School in full swing and Old Navy’s sale on jean jackets. SO, we wanted to put together a quick list of Do’s & Don’ts heading into the weekend to both help maximize your fun levels and help you steer clear of any awkward moments.

Here goes:

Do:

  1. Beat the traffic. The last thing you want to do is spend a significant amount of time in the car. Make a plan and get after it early.
  2. Bring a snack. The worst case scenario is you don’t eat it. Perhaps you could even feed a stray dog and really make his/her day?
  3. Wear sunscreen – and lots of it. It’s too late in the season to tango with a burn.
  4. Have a few regrets – it’ll give you something to think about over the winter
  5. Say something nice about Ryan Lochte. He really needs a friend right now.

Don’t:

  1. Eat anything new. Epipens are now 600 dollars. Stick to the basics, save yourself a bundle.
  2. Drive once you get there. The most common case of this is picking up a friend. Don’t. Tell that friend to screw. Cops are everywhere and have nothing better to do than watch porn in their cruisers or bust you for having a few casuals.
  3. Commit to weekend plans through September. Didn’t you learn anything this summer? You won’t keep them. You’ll never keep them.
  4. Wait to fill up your gas tank until the weekend. Prices spike on holiday weekends you dummy. Get it done now!
  5. Say anything remotely bad about Beyonce, regardless of how sick of her you are. People are nutzo about this. Seriously you’ll be cast into such a shitstorm you’ll with you kept your mouth shut. Keep it to yourself and it’ll be smooth sailing.

Be safe out there!

 

Features, The Written Word

Your 2016 Gaspee 5k Round-up

No Comments 12 June 2016

Enthusiasts,

The 2016 Gaspee Days 5k was one for the books. I know yours truly will not soon forget it!

Yes, it’s true, the entire staff is still mourning the (temporary) loss of Reins while he follows his dream traversing the Cascade Mountains in search of an audience with the rare Yeti-like creature Panboche. We all long for his poetic prose and miss his sharp reporting on deli meats, foot stink and digestion. However his absence is most sorely felt on The Shade’s athletic squad anchoring our running team. For years his odd posture and nimble feet earned him the nickname ‘Sour puss’. He became a fixture at the Gaspee Days 5k. Whispers of anticipation could be heard around dumpsters weeks in advance of race day.

Alas – since his departure – the entire Race Team had been fretting about where inspiration would come from this year. Luckily the guiding hand of Zoroaster brought us a gift in the 11th hour – Felicity Schlitz and the Shimmy Sham Handshakes.

  • Yes, she is a singular entity that prefers to be spoken of in pluralities
  • Yes, she’s a chicken nugget aficionado
  • Yes, she prefers ‘plain shirts’
  • Yes, she’s the newest member of The Shade staff heading up the new Youth Beat initiative

In short, she gave us the kick in the pants we’ve so sorely needed since Reins dumped us (sad face). She bobbed when everyone else weaved. Zigged when everyone zagged. Boom! She even tricked me into buying her a pack of madeleine cookies 30 seconds after I swore up and down that I would never do anything of the sort. Now THAT’S panache!

She showed up to the race, scrunchie in-hand (see: hair), working the crowd with a business-like attitude. Eyes always on the prize. As some of you know the Gaspee race course is a hilly, unforgiving little sucker. Upon zipping right through the course Felicity reportedly “kicked those hills’ butts”. While the rest of wheezed our way through we were all pleased as punch to be drunk on her youthful exuberance.

While Felicity was clear MVP she was almost outdone by her foil that day – the Public Address Lady. Boy, this lady was a tremendous shithead! Normally I can appreciate anyone who commits themselves so thoroughly to sucking every ounce of fun out of a good time. It truly is an artform I admire. But this lady…..ooooof! She brought no artistry to the endeavor. A real JV squad effort on her part. If the team didn’t have a luncheon date at Wendy’s immediately following the race I would have personally sought her out to give her a verbal dressing down she could have told her grandkids about. But, she escaped unscathed – an injustice we’ll have to endure, I guess.

In closing I’d like to welcome Felicity to The Shade family! Your shirt is currently in development and we’ll expect your dues check in the mail.

Still Wet with Sweat in Watertown,

Norm.

P.S. Mittens St. John (pictured below) was given a warm saucer a milk then tied up to a tree after reportedly attacking an elderly schmuck that was holding a Trump sign

IMG_1589

 

The Written Word

Hey July 4th, It’s me Memorial Day – A Quick Word?

No Comments 25 May 2016

How’s it going? It’s me – Memorial Day. Remember me? Just kidding – haha.

I get it. You’re ‘the best’. Your celebration is a living memorial of our independence. Softball games abound. The Marinas are chock full of fun-loving folks chugging light beers and listening to Bon Jovi. People from across the nation cram into backyards to eat burgers off the grill, play yard games and rejoice in all things America.

I’m in, I like it too!

Here’s the problem. What happens when the 4th falls on a Wednesday? Or a Tuesday? Sure, some of us have the luxury of taking the days off. But a good portion of us working stiffs have to go straight back to the salt mines the next day which can take a solid poo all over your July 4th fun. Am I right?

I mean, look at me! You can COUNT on me coming the last weekend of May. Every year, like clockwork, you’ve got a nice 3 day weekend kicking off your summer. I wish I could say the same about you.

It’s not your fault! We should be comrades. Me, you & Thanksgiving are the best secular holidays this goddam country has and we should be treated as such. Even Thanksgiving dumps into a 4 day weekend jamboroo of indulgence. People love it – as you know. Personally, I think you’re getting stiffed.

Here’s the plan:

  • For starters – the 4th of July is sacred in this country. It’s not going anywhere and will continue to be the celebration of our nation’s independence – no issues there.
  • The Gold Nugget – Independence Day Weekend. Yes! The first weekend in July is always a 3 day weekend where everyone really get’s their America on. Sometimes the 4th is on it, sometimes it’s not. Either way we all win no?

If you’re in text me back and we’ll bring it up on at the next convention eh? Viva Independence Day Weekend 2017!!

Patriotically yours,

Memorial Day

 

National Obituary Review, The Written Word

DPD Emeritus: Prince – A Remembrance

No Comments 21 April 2016

Needless to say, sad day here at The Shade HQ. On the heels of Bowie and Toussaint I found myself asking ‘When is enough, enough?’. I paced around the house for hours chasing shadows. Not even Mingus could help me sort things out. I found myself in my rocking chair, cat on my lap, wrestling with the same questions about the passage of time we all do. What the fuck?

I can distinctly remember Prince at every transitional point in my formative years. Starting with Linda. I was 14 and had no job with parents that wanted me out of the house. The idea of a few bucks in my pocket seemed appealing. It was early Spring and my pal Steve had a job filing at some small potatoes appraisal company. By small potatoes I mean the business was run out of a slowly falling apart converted home with a pile of concrete in the back lot.

I had no idea what filing was really but Steve was starting baseball season and leaving the job. I could walk right in and take over. All mine. A few hours a couple of days after school and I’d get $40 a week. Big money. Believe it or not that was plenty back then.

I showed up, got the walk through from some dude that worked there:

  1. When you come in there’ll be a stack of files there
  2. You take them, sort them alphabetically, by name of client,
  3. Then put them in those cabinets over here.

Pretty easy. I was on my way. Then a curve ball. A file with no client name. Back then my problem solving skills weren’t what they are today.  I heard some conversation from the front room so I figured I’d check it out and ask my question

I come around the corner and see these women really hootin’ and hollerin’ with the stereo way up. I guess they didn’t hear me coming because as I approached I startled them. One of the women – Linda – caught my attention. While she was probably 50 she was all dolled up with tight jeans and dancing practically out of her seat. She had teased, dyed blond hair that would have been stark white otherwise and plenty of make-up. Lip liner, TONS of lip liner.

Without the slightest interest in answering my question she asked me if I was into Prince as she turned the volume up on the CD she was listening to. I wasn’t but I sure as hell wanted to be. At that time in my life I was into Kurt Cobain and the teen angst that came along with that. Back then, at no point did it occur to me that girls listen to music and get all hyped. At that point, and moving forward, it did – thanks to Prince. So I looked into him.

Short Stories, The Written Word

America At It’s Best

No Comments 08 April 2016

I left a meeting, got in my car and tried to start the bastard. Lo & behold the goddam thing wouldn’t turn over. At first the radio worked, which was perplexing. What could it be? The first thought – the battery; but why would the radio work? It couldn’t be the starter because it wanted to turn over.

Luckily (I guess) upon further tries the radio stopped working so I knew I needed a jump. I panicked and called a lifeline asking for a hand-out. She had better things to do but, most importantly, I could figure this shit out on my own.

I thought – ‘Why not walk down to the gas station?’. They probably have a garage. Get a mechanic, offer some $ and he’ll drive down and jump your car. On the walk to the corner I called Cornish to see if I could catch him on his ride home.

Cornish was still at work and the gas station proved to be pretty limp. Luckily I saw a cab at the gas station. I walked up to the window and offered $10 if he came down the street and gave me a jump.

He hesitated at first then, ultimately, agreed. Would an uber driver? I jogged back down the street, he followed, and he graciously helped jump my car. Almost pleading with me after ignition:  “Don’t turn it off. Whatever you do, don’t turn it off.”

I was happy to give him $20 for his time. To his credit, when I handed him the $20 he started looking for change. No need. In a forward thinking world caught up in being in the future this was a throw-back experience. He took 10 minutes to do me a solid and, some would say, I overpaid. The favor really helped me out and I’m sure he was satisfied with the compensation.

There’s a simplicity about this situation that often goes lacking. America at it’s best.

 

Sexy Memoirs, Top Ten

Top 10 Things To Do In February to Buck Up

No Comments 11 February 2016

February stinks. Football is over, Valentine’s day is depressing and/or expensive plus it’s got a smug, silent letter. It’s the only month where the number of days are mucked around with on a seemingly random basis. Speaking of – no leap year has been skipped since 1900 and no others will be skipped until 2100. Spooky.

What gives with this goddam month?

We don’t know either, but we’re 100% with you on having a case of the frumps. Staffers have been moping around the HQ doing the sad dad dance now for going on 2 weeks. SO, we called a staff meeting and put our heads together to come up with the Top 10 Things To Do In February to Buck Up:

10. Learn some swear words in Esperanto

9. Watch the Coldplay halftime show for like the thousandth time

8. Do Djokovic-approved squat thrusts

7. Use your finger in a way that maybe you haven’t

6. Try a new Salad dressing (salad dressing Raphael perhaps?)

5. Read Sexy Memoirs Chapter 5: Brown House with Pink Shutters 

4. Work on new candle scents like “post nasal drip” and “moldy box of playboys”

3. Start research for your cell phone upgrade

2. Celebrate a holiday you have never celebrated before and go big.  Maybe host a party?

1. Intertwine things you want with things you need

The Written Word

Sexy Memoirs: Chapter 10 – The waiting is the hardest part

No Comments 20 September 2015

I could still smell her lust on me…i take a deep breath and the memories prompted by her scent is the closest thing to a time machine since doc and the Delorean. Our desires have been fulfilled but already our patience for the next encounter is busting at the seam like a plus size woman shopping at Victoria’s Secret. The Snapchats and text messages temporarily fulfill each other’s appetite but nothing short of her getting her hands on my king size Snickers will leave us satisfied. It seems as though time slows in anticipation but speeds up during participation. It’s a cruel reality that most people who enjoy things will experience. So until I can move freely thru the past, present, and future I’ll be impatiently waiting while both of my heads are filled with the hope that our bodies touch again in the not so distant future.

Poetry, reins

The Eugene-Gate Files: A Dream Sequence

No Comments 01 September 2015

We rented a rundown banquet hall on the other side of town for my farewell party and made it on a Monday from 2- 3:15pm in hopes that nobody would show up.  Just in case I sent my stand in.

I was in the back alley behind the Family Dollar enjoying a case of Stroh’s with Randy; the one arm pretend Vet that’s been in every branch of the military and been in every war from the crusades to the gulf conflict when he retired citing irreconcilable differences.  That’s when I got the call of a lifetime.

My neighbors, Anthony and Allie, bought me a stretch limo for my drive West.  They thought it would allow me to bring more of the sentimental items I love so much.  They couldn’t have been more right; I crammed the shit out of the limo.  Another surprise was they equipped it with a GPS attached to a Web link so everyone could see where I had been.  The best part was I could log in and drop pins to let people know the places that I stopped, what I did while I was there and what I didn’t like about it.  If it wasn’t for my fear of losing moisture I would have shed a tear.  Besides my hickory handle hatchet it was the best gift I’ve ever been given.

The trip was going great.  I stopped at the glass museum in Corning, NY and the spoon factory just outside of Dayton, OH.  As I crossed the Iowa border into the picturesque backdrop of Nebraska I noticed a car speeding up behind me.  It soon crossed the double yellow lines and pulled up next to me.  It was Anthony and Allie and they had diabolical looks on their faces.  Allie pulled out what looked like a controller for a remote car.  When she started fidgeting with it my limo started shrinking.

Before I knew it I was wedged between the steering wheel and all of my sentimentals.  The limo was now smaller than a Smart car and Allie had it spinning out of control.  When it crashed into the corn stalks there was a Michael Bay-like explosion and I was burning inside the condensed limo.  It was then that I woke up and looked around.

Everybody Loves Raymond was on and I couldn’t have been more thankful to not be in Nebraska.  I ate another slice of pizza, finished my Dr Pepper and went back to sleep.

© 2017 The Shade. Powered by WordPress.