Five Ring Circus

The Olympics are bad. They have been bad for quite some time. The entire format of the competition, hosting selection, and benefits for host cities need a complete overhaul.

It has seemed over the last couple decades that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been in an unspoken competition with FIFA as to which organization can be the most corrupt.

Both the summer and winter Olympics get a lot of attention and marketing dollars behind them, but the competition itself always leaves something to be desired. This is not intended to disrespect or make light of the talent and training of the athletes.

Let’s be honest, a Gold Medal does not carry the same cache that it once did. Premier athletes playing in more popular sports are more visible on a regular basis in our digital age. The pedestal Olympic athletes  once stood on isn’t nearly as high as it once was. These athletes aren’t as revered anymore.

It also makes it difficult for the fans to truly buy in when each stone that gets overturned reveals more corruption than we had previously thought existed.

Track and Field. Doping. Cycling. Doping and motorized bikes now. Which originally blew my mind. Swimming has dealt with their fare share of allegations as well.

I am a true sports fan. I watch just about anything in the competitive realm of sports with a fairly expansive understanding of the game, players, and overall strategy. This does not apply to the Olympics however. More times than not, the Olympics ends up being on TV as background noise in many households.

Granted, if you are a fan of track and field, swimming, skiing, etc. You will have a bit more passion about the respective sports and have more interest in scheduled viewing.

There was a photographer that traveled around from China, Russia, and Brazil (for the World Cup) and took pictures of elaborate, expensive stadiums that were built for one time use. Now they are left as modern ruins only to share the same fate as the Pontiac Silverdome. It was very interesting to see, but also had an extremely eery ghost town feel to them.

Russia made many headlines with corruption and improperly managed construction schedules while dramatically exceeding original budgets. Brazil has followed suit with similar problems. Hosting the World Cup was supposed to be a warm up for the country to prepare for the Olympics, but the host country is now in even worse shape than it was in 2014.

The Zika Virus has been an epidemic but luckily it has been somewhat controlled to the region. The thought of having people from all over the world coming to the epicenter of where the virus is, only to travel back to their respective home cities sounds like the perfect recipe for Zika to become a global problem.

Brazil is not prepared and they never will be. In a poor country that needs a better allocation of funds for it’s people, it seems grossly irresponsible for them to take on this task as a host city.

In addition to an underwhelming product, the Olympics always provide a creepy mascot that seems to be the result of a three day marathon in an opium den.  See for yourself:

All in all, I still like the idea of the Olympics and watching some of the world’s best athletes competing at the highest level, but certain changes need to be made.

Taking it back to the essence of where the (Summer) Olympics originated would be a good place to start. Instead of having a roaming competition that is in a different location every four years, pick one location and keep the competition there.  This allows Athens (or whatever site that’s chosen) to build, upgrade facilities and accommodations over time and continue to be used. Not only during events, but also can be repurposed for the time in between.

This would eliminate some of the corruption and bribes that take place for cities vying for to be the host. Other cities won’t be missing out on any financial boom for the Olympics, as it has proven to be more of an economic hinderance if anything.

There are have too many chefs in the kitchen when it comes down to doping committee and who is facilitating tests for different sports. They need to take it back to basics and err on the side of simplicity.

Problems with the Olympics are so rampant and deep rooted that it will not be an overnight fix, but some fundamental changes could have an immediate impact.

Sadly, I feel like this vicious cycle will continue to repeat itself moving forward because of greed and complacency. So, brace yourself for an onslaught of company’s with aggressive marketing campaigns attempting to capitalize on the two week summer stretch. Prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.

I could care less who wins the most medals, I only hope that everything goes smoothly for the people of Brazil and people in attendance without incident.

 

 

Sunday Soul

Over the last several months, I have gotten in the routine of waking up and listening to Soul Music on Sunday mornings while cleaning my apartment, showering, cooking, etc.

It is amazing to me how timeless a majority of songs from this era truly are. It seems to go with my Sunday vibe really well.

So today and every Sunday to follow, I am going to share two songs that are part of my playlist from that morning.

Donny Hathaway – I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know

Teddy Pendergrass – The Whole Town’s Laughing At Me

Both of these songs are smooth and embody everything that we have come to love from the Soul Music of yesteryear.

What do you think?

The Crowns Fit

When Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown in 2012 (.330 AVG. 44 HR, and 139 RBI), he became the first player to do so since Carl Yastrzemski did it back in 1967 (.326 AVG. 44 HR, and 121 RBI).

Baseball has evolved greatly over that time and the talent level league wide is undoubtedly at an all time high. The way the game is played has changed as well. There is such a premium placed on the bullpen that all teams have specialized arms to use in specific situations any given game may call for.

When you take a step back and consider all those factors, it makes what Miggy did that much more incredible.  In his Triple Crown year, there were analysts and fans still making arguments for Mike Trout to be the MVP.

To this day, I don’t think enough people truly appreciate what kind of accomplishment winning the Triple Crown in the modern era of baseball truly was.

When they compare Miggy’s numbers at this stage in his career, they almost mirror what Hank Aaron did in a similar amount of games played. Usually when they compare something that Miggy has done stat wise, the pictures that he falls in company with are in black and white.

It is easy in this day and age to take things for granted. It is easy for us to have unreal expectations and be disappointed when they aren’t met.

“What do you mean Calvin Johnson is injured?! He’s not human. He should be able to play.”

In 2012, even with the lofty expectations that people have for Miggy, he somehow managed to exceed them. Since then, he has continued his pace of impressive offensive numbers while playing underrated defense.

I write this with the sole intent of encouraging perspective. Take a step back and appreciate greatness while we are in the moment. We are watching a once in a generation type talent on a nightly basis and again, it’s easy to take that for granted.

The chances that we will see another Triple Crown in our lifetime isn’t zero, but I don’t know of a player that is capable of such a feat.

Miggy is the type of talent that I will take pride in telling my kids about. Describing his majestic home runs, clutch moments in the heat of a pennant chase, and playing with a love for the game that seems unparalleled at times when you see his iconic smile.

His early career in Detroit was marred by headlines of bad decisions as a result of the bottle. It has been more than refreshing to see him not only grow into the player he is on the field, but also mature into the true professional he is off the field.

Despite all the trophies, accolades, and record breaking numbers, there is an intangible that Miggy brings to the table that can’t be measured by sabermetrics or any advanced statistics.

I ask that every now and then when you’re watching a Tigers game to take a step back and appreciate how fortunate we are to have him in our lineup everyday. Hopefully, we will be lucky enough to see him produce at a high level for many years to come.

One thing is for the sure, when it is all said and done… This man will have a statue next to Al Kaline and company in centerfield to solidify his immortality in Tigers history.

 

 

 

 

Photo Finish: Glass Cieling

I took this picture when I was visiting my dad down in Tampa earlier this year.

I took this when we went to see the Diego Rivera exhibit and The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.

That was my first visit to the St. Petersburg area and I really enjoyed the city. It’s an absolutely beautiful area, and the museum is no exception.

Below are some other pictures that I took while at the museum:

IMG_5568IMG_5562IMG_5563

Black America

As a white man in America, I am embarrassed and disgusted. As a white man in America, I am outraged and scared.  As a white man in America, I have no idea what it truly feels like to be black in this country.

As a white man in America, I feel helpless.

I would never pretend to know the struggle. I would never try to empathize with walking a mile in your shoes despite trying to imagine it on a daily basis. I know my pain will forever pale in comparison to someone who is directly affected by injustice, but my heart still hurts.

I am so sickened by the events that have flooded our news channels lately that it has brought me to tears on more than one occasion. I feel helpless because of how much hatred is in the hearts of some people. A type of hatred that seems to have no cure.

In 2016, our world is facing serious problems with climate change, terrorism, the upcoming election, and wealth inequality. Yet here we stand. Almost 50 years after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, racism is no longer quietly bubbling under the surface. It is erupting more frequently like violent volcanoes and no location seems to be exempt.

To be clear, any form of racism whether bubbling under the surface or blatant expressions are unacceptable. We are at a very pivotal point in our history in a lot of regards, but the way that people were born still finds it’s way to the core of many arguments.

I was blessed to grow up and go to school with people of all races, creeds, and religions from a very young age. Some of my closest friends are black. Some of my closest friends are Muslim. I don’t view them as anything other than people that I care about and would do anything for.

I understand that being a white man is the epitome of “luck” in this country. I understand that as true and don’t pretend otherwise. On the other side of the coin, I realize how sad that is to be considered true, in a country that should be great because of it’s diversity. People have fought, protested, rallied, and their sole mission is to be treated equal.

People who love their guns are always quick to quote the 2nd Amendment verbatim and then make threats as to what they’ll do if anyone tries to “take their guns” (which has never been proposed, by the way). If we are so enamored with the literature written by our Founding Fathers, why doesn’t “All Men Are Created Equal” on the Declaration of Independence get the same enforcement?

Years ago at my job, there was a case where we had a meeting with someone regarding a balance that had to be paid. There was no telephone communication, only e-mail. Apparently the man had a “black sounding name”, which led to the following statement being made before the meeting:

“I guess some stereotypes exist for a reason.”

This wasn’t said behind closed doors. It was said loud and proud in an effort to be funny for all to hear. No matter where or how it happened, it is appalling nonetheless. I stood up and said something about it. I made it clear that that kind of talk wouldn’t be tolerated around me. I was not in a position of power at the time, but I felt like it was the right thing to do.

Now, by no means am I a hero or trying to paint myself as a saint. I am simply using that as an example of what doesn’t happen enough from white people in this country. This isn’t a fight that we can stand back, watch from the sidelines, and cross our fingers that black people finally get the equality that they deserve. This is a fight for all man kind. A fight to come together as a race of humans and solve this racial epidemic once and for all.

This is not the time for white people to be timid or unsure of what to say or do. It is a time to stand with people from all walks of life and let our voices ring out in unison. The status quo hasn’t even been close to good enough. A fundamental change needs to happen. Inexcusable bad habits need to be broken. A new way of thinking needs to be adopted on all levels, and the necessary actions to support it must follow.

It has been refreshing to see pictures and videos of protests across the nation with a multitude of races walking in stride and chanting together. However, there is still a lot of room for more people who aren’t black to show up in solidarity.

As a white man in America, I am exhausted. I am emotionally drained by seeing the senseless killings of black people at the hands of police becoming more commonplace on the news and social media outlets. It makes my blood boil to the point where I don’t watch those murders anymore because of the toll that it takes on me.

As a white man in America, I will stand united with black people coast to coast in the fight for civil rights. I live for the day that every man, woman, and child in this country believe in their heart of hearts that the Declaration of Independence applies to everyone when it says that we were all created equal.

#BlackLivesMatter

Dying Breed: Good Drivers

There was a day when people used to take pride in the simplest of things. There was a time before I was even a glimmer in my mother’s eye, where people were proud to be behind the wheel of their car. It is such commonplace now, that I think a majority of us take it for granted.

The more and more I look over at passing cars on the highway and see someone with one hand on the steering wheel with the other on their cell phone looking down reading a text or checking the likes on their latest Instagram post, the more I think good drivers are part of a dying breed.

Everyone’s internal clock seems to be ramped up to such a speed that nothing can wait and our patience as a people is at an all time low. There have been various campaigns stressing the importance of how “it can wait” and to not text and drive. There are some states where you can’t even hold your phone to your ear and have a conversation, but many states have low fines if any punishment at all.

This isn’t solely about texting and driving. There are many other things that people do while driving that is enough to leave you questioning the world we live in.

Far too often I see people speeding in parking lots. I say this knowing the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man, but it’s definitely one of the most dangerous things you can do. Plain and simple. Last week, I saw a Chevy Camaro (shocker) turn a sharp corner in the Arborland Mall parking lot and almost hit a shopping cart with two young children in it. Rushing through the lot just to get a spot closer to the door on a busy shopping day during the weekend. The man got out of his car, didn’t acknowledge the family and went about his day. I drove away shaking my head in disbelief.

In the same vein as speeding in the parking lot is the person that tailgates really close on the highway. I don’t speed. I generally float around 5-10 MPH over the speed limit and stay  with the pace of traffic. If I look back in my rear view mirror and can’t even see your headlights because you are so close to my bumper, you are being an idiot. Say I happen to even tap my breaks, the driver in that other car will be joining me in my front seat in a heart beat. I always switch lanes and let them pass, but I don’t understand what leads people to drive like that.

I commute a lot for work. I can sometimes spend up to an hour and a half driving to (or from) work. Generally during heavy traffic times. There is always at least one car (usually a Camaro or Charger) weaving between lanes like a grandmother’s crocheting needle. More times than time not, I end up catching up to them or passing them without even trying. It makes me wonder where they are going that they need to shave 13 seconds off their trip. Chances are they aren’t Mario Andretti or a heart surgeon. So, chill.

Eating while you’re driving isn’t ideal either, but I think we have all done it at one point or another when we’re in a pinch. It’s all about exercising some kind of common sense though. A burger, sandwich, or banana is a lot different than stuffing your face with Panda Express’ Orange Chicken with fried rice with your kids in the back seat. Plus there is a 100% chance your car is going to smell funky until at least next Tuesday no matter how much Febreze you keep stashed.

Lastly, with each passing year the technology available in our cars seems to step up to more impressive levels. I understand the need to implement some of it. Though I think deep down we are trying to live up to the expectations of the future that were set in the 1950’s. God help us if we ever having flying cars. The skies will be the new, most terrifying place to drive. As beneficial as GPS navigation or having Pandora apps for music are, some other features can be distractions.

It all comes down to knowing yourself and your surroundings. I’m not going to stand on a soap box and preach to you that I am an amazing driver worthy of the Fast and Furious series (sans Tokyo Drift. I don’t know how to do that), but I enjoy driving and take pride in it.  It’s a dangerous world out there nowadays. You don’t want to go out like a punk because you got in a terrible car accident over a retweet or a crying Jordan meme.

 

 

 

 

Photo Finish: Touch Home

I took this photograph on my way home from work back in early June of this year in Detroit near Corktown.

Detroit has been through it’s hard times, and more importantly the strong people of the city have too.

There has been a lot of progress made in the downtown area with the additions of new shopping, bars, restaurants, and entertainment.

Despite the recent boom downtown, it’s important to remember the failing education system and the struggling neighborhoods.

Neither of which get nearly enough attention and support when it comes to rebuilding and helping the city reach new heights across the board.

I hope one day we can use this picture as a symbol of city wide growth for all people instead of as an infuriating reminder of neglect and selfishly organized priorities.

Background: Holding a Candle

The more I look around and research, the more I realize how many hundreds of different terms we use in everyday life with no idea of the origin.

The saying “holding a candle to” is generally used in a negative sense when comparing something or people.

“Man, I don’t know about how you generally cook, but I bet your taco recipe can’t a hold a candle to the way my lady’s.”

As you could probably guess, this originated well before electricity was a thought on anyone’s mind.  The phrase first showed up in literature in 1641.

The term was coined as young proteges were studying under their older, wiser mentors and were required to stand nearby holding a candle while they read, researched, or did experiments after the sun had set.

It was considered an honor as not just anyone was afforded the opportunity to work that close with them at the time.

It makes a lot of sense after hearing the origin, but I had used this phrase a ton before knowing it’s true meaning.

Joe Budden – Freedom

Joe Budden has been in the hip-hop headlines a lot lately for the buzz circulating around his diss tracks directed towards Drake.

He took a break from the beef to release this track called “Freedom”. Speaking on the injustice and inequality that continues to escalate in our country.

It is refreshing to hear an artist step up and be vocal with his opinions and disgust with the recent happenings. Here is to hoping more artists follow suit and use their power and influence for the betterment of all people.

#BlackLivesMatter

The song was originally Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar’s, the beat was produced by Just Blaze. It was one of the standout performances of the recent BET Awards.

I hope you find this song as moving and powerful as I do. Tip of the hat to you, Joe.