Tag archive for "norman orlando"

The Written Word, Pages of Prose

The Day I Became a Coventry City Supporter

Comments Off on The Day I Became a Coventry City Supporter 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.


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!


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…


The Written Word

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

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


The Written Word, Short Stories

America At It’s Best

Comments Off on America At It’s Best 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.


Ask Norman

A New Dear Norman – Where do the hubbies go?

No Comments 20 February 2015

Dear Norm,

Where do hubcaps go when they are lost? I lost mine today somewhere between here and there. All this snow has just been too much!

Is there a warehouse with forgotten hubbies? Do the homeless pick them up and use them as shields? Do cops take them and sell them on ebay?

I’m willing to do anything to get it back. Anything!

Wondering in Watertown


Dear Wondering,

While today’s plastic discs are are a far cry from the nickel-plated Houks I enjoyed on my ‘46 Studebaker, believe me I am empathetic to your plight. I ‘misplaced’ a ham sandwich last week that I’m still thinking about. I turned to get a glass of milk and when I came back to the counter it was gone. It’s absence spooked me.

But your question has been considered by some of the greatest minds we’ve had. Where do lost things go? Is a thing ever really lost? Was it for a purpose?

Such questions are beyond my sphere of influence. I suspect they’re beyond Robert Mitchum’s as well. That said, I’ll offer this for inspiration: “Forget everything, and focus on what’s in front of you

If none of this is applicable I suggest checking the culvert at the intersection of Belmont St. and Orchard. That’s where I always find my lost goods. If you do venture down there and run into Ramon please tell him to kindly ‘fuck off’.

With on-going resentment,



The Written Word

American Slice # 29

No Comments 24 September 2014

August 23, 2014

Saratoga Springs, NY

Traverse Cup weekend

8:37 a.m., slightly cloudy

Location: Dunkin Donuts


What can I get you?

Medium coffee

And make sure there are 7 creamers in the bad

Not like last time


And I want an AARP discount

And a senior citizen discount


You can’t get both

You can’t double up discounts


Oh yes I can

I did it earlier today

At the other place


Well you can’t do it here

You either get a free donut

Or a discount on your coffee

What’ll it be


I’ll take the discount


Actually, give me the donut



The Written Word, Poetry

Some Key Facts About Norman

No Comments 08 August 2014

I like cold weather and small crowds. A nice winter jacket is always nice. I have pale skin and can admire it in others although very little impresses me. Except a good motor and the right attitude.

I think the sun can be dangerous and a beer is always a good idea. If you want to say something I would recommend you wait. Think about it. Chances are it’s not worth it. Or, at least, you’d say it differently.

Regret everything. Even being human. Annoy least as possible. If you have to ask, you probably shouldn’t.

Keep to yourself, unless otherwise noted. And never, ever, think you know more than the other guy. And definitely NEVER think people want to hear what you have to say.


Shades of Gray

The Final Straw or How My Day Started

No Comments 05 August 2014

After a long ride where I didn’t feel like myself I left the train and came above ground. While there were hundreds of people about I was left staring at a girl that looked like a wet black garbage bag covered in mud. One of those hefty garbage bags. 40 gallons I think? Not that she was fat per se, it was more about her overbearing presence.

Then there was a guy in the coffee shop mucking up the freeway. What a moron. There’s an order to these things, you don’t just stand where you want. But he did, and sure enough he fucked everything up. Another roadblock to a successful start to the day.

Finally, upon leaving the coffee shop I saw two people holding hands. Happy as pigs in shit. It was disgusting. I can’t think of a more useless use of the hands. Or time for that matter.

All this with bowels that resisted the weight of the world. Not a Charlie Manson type day.


Shades of Gray

Reflections in D Minor

No Comments 30 January 2014

So much shit to do…all year long. Juices to drink. Feelings to feel. Things to search for. You name it, I won’t do it. I can’t. At the moment I’m paralyzed in the amber. For all the reasons pulp exists. Because it’s real. Because it’s there. Because it’s necessary and needs to be sorted through.

I need a strong coffee, cold beer and perhaps a New York Times with ambition. If its after Noon though, forget it. The time has gone for critical thinking. The matching of concepts and discovery has no place once the sun has reached it’s summit. After you’ve crossed the rubicon you have two options – aggression and reflection. That’s why Caesar was the first general to march into Rome with a standing army. He did so at sunrise. Exploration waits for the sunrise.

National Obituary Review

DPD Emeritus – L. Ron Hubbard & A Lament

No Comments 23 January 2014


We’ve got a special one today. Everyone’s favorite lunatic – the venerable L. Ron Hubbard.

Hubbard called Dianetics “a milestone for man comparable to his discovery of fire and superior to his invention of the wheel and the arch”

While we’re still not sure if he meant the golden arches of McDonalds or the architectural convention that sure is one hell of an understatement.

We here at The Shade have modeled our ‘auditing’ process after Hubbard’s innovative approach. Although no one on staff has a mental capacity even approaching Hubbard’s. So, our ‘auditing’ process usually breaks down into laughing fits when one of the involved parties breaks wind. It never fails, given the junk food in the snack basket here at the office.

Hubbard and his works are a close personal passion for Reins. He moonlights as a black market expert on Hubbard’s early art (circa 1949-1957). On a cheese snarling expedition years ago, Reins came across an old mom n’ pop consignment shop somewhere in Burma. Or was it Columbus? No matter.

The sharp eye of Reins spotted a Hubbard original leaning behind a Shasteen mirror and amongst a scourge of yapping Jack Russell terriers. Risking life and limb he leaned in and plucked the piece virtually from obscurity.

The spaceship had the off-black lacquer mystique. The genitals of Xenu were just right and Hubbard’s stylized signature could not be mistaken.

Knowing what he had, and always the consummate professional, Reins played it cool. He sifted through the Paul Anka vinyl. He surveyed the second hand women’s jackets selection for T.W.

After a spell the Jack Russells were too much for any sane human to have to deal with so,  he proceeded to check out.

The girl behind the counter was young, pale and thin…sickly. The piece being 42’x65′ was awkward for her to handle. Not able to find a price she said “This is a new one…not priced yet. Let me just check on that”. Reins, not want to leave anything to chance threw 3 balled up $20s on the counter trying to stop the inquiry. But it was too late.

She was already in the doorway talking to “Gill”. A pudgy, ruddy faced squat man rushed to the doorway and snatched the piece. Sweating, Gill said “No, no…this made its way on the floor by accident”. He looked at Reins shaking his head and said “Sorry, this isn’t for sale”.

With that, he turned and faded away into the jaundiced light of whatever happens behind closed doors in places like that.

Rein’s hopes were dashed. Another Hubbard original had slipped through his fingers. After scribbling a few notes in his field guide he headed to his El Camino to enjoy his last cheese stick before the Motel 6.

So, while we celebrate L. Ron’s very special DPD nomination today, it is with mixed emotions that yours truly laments the missing Hubbard original that could be hanging above our commode. Not to mention another crack in Rein’s fragile mental well-being.

L. Ron’s Obit from January 1986

National Obituary Review

Dead Person of the Day – June 11 – Wayne Roberts (Stay High 149)

No Comments 11 June 2013


This week’s DPW was an avant garde artist in the medium of street graffiti at a time when the art form was a valuable expression of urban angst that gave a voice to a generation.

Wayne Roberts…aka Stay High 149.

He set the standard for how to do an elegant tag. How to be distinct from other artists doming something similar. In its own way it was like corporate branding. His tag borrowed thehaloed stick figure from the title sequence of the 1960s television series “The Saint,” put a joint in its mouth and turned it around.

The Smoker figure was a departure from the tags of the early 1970s, which relied on simple, straight letters, often done by young teenagers who were active only briefly. Soon stylistic flourishes like arrows and loops were added, but none were as successful as the Smoker.

Robert’s art really took off when he became a de facto star of the venerable Norman Mailer’s 1974 piece The Faith of Graffiti where Mailer collaborated with photographer Jon Naar. The book elevated teenage vandals, most of whom feared the police and refused to be photographed, into art heroes. While the youth of New York were not the first to tag their names in public spaces everywhere, Faith became graffiti’s portable catalogue of style.

Robert’s had a checkered past in terms of struggles with drugs and never really experienced the fame (or financial compensation) of a Banksy. Nonetheless he was a righteous dude, had a great haircut and made some bodacious art.

We’ll be featuring his work intermittently throughout the week.

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