Saturday, November 4, 2017
Some people you meet early in life and the connection lasts forever. You may grow apart or go in completely different directions, but your common roots are a tie that binds. These are your life long friends. Others that you meet along the way will come and go. Your relationship with these folks will only endure if a) you maintain some sort of common ground, or b) you have a genuine affection for one another. I first met Howard Rappaport 7 years ago and while he started out in the former category, he quickly moved into the latter. Our initial common ground was little league baseball. I was coaching my son’s team (Howard’s older son was also on my team) and Howard was coaching his younger son’s team. He had heard a rumor about me firing my team mom (true story) and just had to meet me. We met for the first time over a beer and became fast friends. I don’t think making friends came all that easily to Howard. I liken him to a high end blue cheese. Not for everyone, but for those who appreciated him he was a real treat. Howard was never shy to speak his mind, he was frequently (and hilariously) inappropriate, and above all else he had a heart of gold. In other words, he had layers. I’ve never met anyone as passionate about little league baseball as Howard, and his passion was infectious. I regularly signed up to umpire his games because a) it was highly entertaining, and b) I truly enjoyed watching him interact with the boys. He may have used foul language and crude analogies to get his points across, but I guarantee every player he ever coached will always remember Coach Howard fondly. He cared deeply about each of his players (which was evident) and figured out creative ways to get the most out of them. He may not have even known it at the time, but the lessons he taught those boys transcended baseball. He wasn’t just making them better baseball players, he was making them better people.
As I got to know Howard better I appreciated him even more. We took a few ski trips together along with our boys. Howard was easily the best skier I’ve ever been on a mountain with and his favorite destination was Mammoth. Truth be told we did very little skiing together. We would ride up the chair lift together and then I wouldn’t see him again until I reached the bottom. He probably spent more time on those trips waiting for me at the bottom of the mountain than he did actually skiing :). That dude was a bullet on the slopes. And the way he charged down the mountain was also the way he approached life. Howard was deceivingly intelligent and also a very accomplished business man. He was a proud USC alumni and an avid fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers. What he was most proud of however were his 3 children: Ben, Sam, and Audrey. He would always light up when he spoke about his kids. Howard and I had many a great conversation, usually over cocktails. We would talk about baseball of course, financial matters, and things we both hoped to accomplish in the future. We also shared a love for writing. And Howard was a big quote guy. What follows is a list of life advice he recently wrote to his sons in a letter. His younger son, Sam, read this list at the service. As he read through the note I could hear Howard’s voice in my head saying the words. Lots of good “Howardisms” in this list:
1. Always be a gentleman. Open doors for ladies, let them out of the elevator first, chivalry is not dead and will go a long way.
2. Dress for the job you want, not the one you have. You will never offend anyone by overdressing. Clothes make the man in business.
3. Don’t buy cheap shoes, OR a cheap watch… they can ruin a $2000 suit.
4. Men only need a few close friends in life, not a giant circle. These are your “ride or die homies” and will be with you forever. But you will be able to depend on them for anything and vice-versa, like my guys who showed up when I was in the hospital.
5. Never get so busy making a living, that you forget to make a life. Memories and family are much more important than stuff.
6. A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. Absorb the bumps in the ocean and learn how to navigate the difficulties life may throw at you.
7. A lion will never lose sleep over the opinion of sheep. You are a lion, who gives a fuck what anybody else thinks, do your own thing and wear your mistakes as a badge of honor.
8. Always accelerate at the apex!!! Live your life going hard into the corners and push the envelope.
9. PISS EXCELLENCE!!
10. Try to marry a girl like your mom. There is no better person on the planet than her. If you can find someone smart, funny and caring you will be a happy man. I fucked that one up, don’t make the same mistake.
11. Great Minds Discuss Ideas, Average Minds Discuss Events, Small Minds Discuss People. Stay in yo lane and don’t worry about what other people think, say or do.
12. When possible… PAY IT FORWARD. You have been afforded many blessings, share with those less fortunate.
13. Do whatever you want in life, but be the fucking best at it. Find your passion and make it your life’s work.
14. 97% of the people who quit too soon… are employed by the 3% who NEVER GAVE UP.
15. Lastly… DON’T LET SOMEONE WHO HAS DONE NOTHING, TELL YOU HOW TO DO ANYTHING.
As you can probably tell from the list Howard was one of a kind. He unexpectedly passed away on October 26, 2017. He was just 50 years old. Sometimes the lights that shine brightest burn out too soon. RIP my friend. You will be missed…
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
I always like to give myself a few days to process bad news. It helps give me clarity before lashing out at the masses. The Chargers officially announced their relocation to Los Angeles on January 12 (6 days ago). I’ve now been through the various stages of grief: shock, denial, anger, disbelief, sadness, apathy… and I think I’ve finally turned the corner. It was a good 56 year run in San Diego. But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. And with that the Chargers are back in LA where it all started (albeit for just 1 year). I understand that the NFL is a business, I really do. But the Chargers were literally part of the fabric of this community, not to mention the historical value of their presence in San Diego over the past 6 decades. They’ve been an admittedly shitty franchise, but at least they were OUR shitty franchise. So how did things go so wrong to where we ended up here? It’s easy to point blame at the owners. And trust me, I’ll be the first one to say that Dean Spanos is a greedy piece of shit. But in reality there’s plenty of blame to go around. The City of San Diego clearly over-played their hand. Having an NFL franchise is a privilege, not a right, and they clearly lost sight of this somewhere along the line. And how about the NFL and the other 31 owners who let this happen? Two teams in a market with no teams for the past 20+ years. How does that even begin to make sense?
As an OG Charger fan from way back in the Air Coryell days, I’ve had a bunch of people text and call asking about my thoughts on the Chargers move to LA. Will I simply write them off and say the NFL is now dead to me? Burn all of my Chargers gear and turn the page? Unfortunately, it’s not that cut and dry. In a strange way the Chargers are a part of me. I grew up in the 70’s watching games with my Dad. Those were special times (both on and off the field). As we go through the various stages of adolescence, we sometimes struggle to find common ground with our parents. But through thick and thin, my Dad and I always had the Chargers. Now my teenage son and I go to games together and it’s all come full circle. My emotional ties to this team run deep, no matter where they call home. So yes, the Chargers are still my team (but w/ a few caveats). I won’t wear any gear that says Los Angeles or buy anything that has that shitty new logo on it. I will pretty much refuse to acknowledge any association with LA whatsoever. But I will still go to games in my Seau & LT jerseys, and cheer on my team win or lose. Philip Rivers is still under center after all. And he’ll still be throwing touchdown passes to Antonio Gates & Keenan Allen. And we’ll still have one of the best, young up-and-coming defenses in football w/ players like Jason Verrett, Casey Heyward, and Joey Bosa. And the ultimate silver lining? The games at the StubHub Center are going to be awesome. Only 30K seats and the stands are right on top of the field. It will be a unique, intimate football watching experience like not other. Look, I can’t not be excited for Sundays. It’s all I know, all I’ve ever known. And if I have to make a small contribution to the Dean Spanos asshole foundation to do it? So be it.
And here’s my ultimate prediction, which is as much a hope as it is a prediction. The Chargers will get little to no fan support in Los Angeles. LA doesn’t want the Chargers any more than San Diego wanted to give them up. After they fail in LA (and we all know they will), Spanos will be forced to sell the team to a real owner who will then bring them back to San Diego where they belong. It happened with the Rams, so why not the Chargers? Until then go ___ ________ Chargers! Did I mention I refuse to acknowledge the temporary address change? Orange County is now home for me. The only real change is having to drive an hour north for the games instead of an hour south. That’s a zero sum game in my book. Glass half full…
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Today was a very interesting day. On my way to the airport at 5:30 am, I got news that my Grandmother (Mimi) had passed away at 4:30 am. I was heading out on a business trip to Phoenix. My Grandmother and her husband, Jack, live in Prescott, AZ, which is only about an hour and a half from Phoenix. Mimi had not been doing well for a couple of weeks now and my plan was to visit her after I concluded my business. She was 88 years old and I was cognizant of her reality. I was simply hoping to see her one last time, but I didn't make it. That's the sad part.
The happy part is that I visited Mimi and Jack just a few weeks ago. I came to their home. I took them out to lunch to one of their favorite restaurants. We had great conversation. Mimi wanted to reminisce about the past. She brought up at least a dozen happy memories I had long forgotten. Although her body had betrayed her, her mind was still sharp as a tack. When Jack went to the bathroom, Mimi and I had a quick, private conversation. She told me she didn't have much time left, but that she was at peace because she knew something bigger awaited her on the other side. I have never been a religious man. Neither was Mimi until later in life. But once she committed to her faith, she became quite spiritual. I told her I needed proof that Heaven was real. I asked her to give a me a sign once she got there. She smiled and said, I will. Jack returned from the bathroom, we went back to their house, and spent another hour or so together before I had to depart for the airport. When I was leaving Mimi told me she was proud of me for all I had accomplished, and that I had always held a special place in her heart. We hugged, told each other I love you, and both cried knowing full well it was likely the last time we would ever be together. In retrospect it was kind of a perfect day.
Fast forward to today when I got the bad news from my Mom first thing this morning. I had a busy day ahead, so there was no time to process the reality of what had happened. I had to compartmentalize it to get through the day. Once in Phoenix I proceeded to a partner event where I presented to a room full of customers. I then had 2 more important customer meetings, with multiple phone calls in between, before calling it a day. I checked in to my hotel and then headed to my favorite local dive for dinner (Cornish Pasty Company in Tempe). I rolled up to the bar and took a seat at my normal spot near the elbow (and the beer taps). I had been sufficiently distracted by work for the entire day. At this point it's important to note that my Grandmother was from Michigan. She spent the better part of her life there. It's where I visited her and my Grandfather every winter growing up (my parents moved us out to California when I was just a baby). Michigan is how I always have and will identify my Grandmother. So here's the interesting part: When I sat down at the bar, Bob Seger's "Night Moves" was playing loudly on the radio. Bob Seger happens to be from Michigan and was a high school classmate of my Dad (they're still friends to this day). The waitress then approached me and asked what I'd like to drink. I asked her to bring me her favorite IPA on draft (they have about 50 beers on tap). She returned with a cold mug of beer and said it's a new IPA they recently started carrying from Michigan. Call it a happy coincidence, but I call it my sign. The sign I had asked Mimi for just weeks earlier. All at once the gravity of what had happened hit me. Mimi was gone and I would never see her again. Tears streamed down both sides of my face and the waitress gave me a look of concern. I explained how my Grandmother had passed and the role she just played in delivering the sign I had asked for. She started to tear up as well and came around the bar to give me a hug.
It's funny the things that flash through your mind when you lose someone you love. I remember random things like exploring Mimi's neighborhood in Lansing, MI, after the first ice storm I'd ever experienced. I remember taking cold, morning walks with her and her dogs. I remember the motor home trip we took when I was 13 years old exploring Upper Peninsula, MI. My Grandfather and I didn't get along so well, but Mimi was always there to take my side. I remember the first time I ever beat Mimi in Scrabble (she was a world class Scrabble player until the day she died). Overall I remember just how full of life she was until she wasn't. I guess that's just the journey we're all on together.
Life is short. We need to focus on spreading more joy and less hate. We need to hug more and fight less. Time with our loved ones is fleeting. Soak it up... and for those who were wondering, Heaven is real.
RIP Mimi. I love you. See you on the other side.
Thursday, November 3, 2016
But that’s not the only thing that’s evolved. My view of the world also seems to be changing. I no longer find myself fixated on personal appearances or the annoying behaviors of others. Instead I find myself wondering what challenges other people might be going through that could affect how I view them. Is this what empathy feels like? When confronted with a difference of opinion, my first reaction has always been to dig in and vehemently defend my position. Lately I find myself keeping more of an open mind and trying to understand both sides of all issues. I no longer assume someone is stupid just because they’re a Hillary fan, or they believe in global warming, or they’re from the South. I find myself using the word hate less and less, and I’m all of a sudden more inclined to pay compliments to total strangers. I’m sure deep down inside there’s still a wretch of a man in there somewhere, but he’s becoming less and less evident. Which begs the obvious question, what the hell happened to me and how do I fix this? I do have a few theories:
1) After 21+ years of being together, my wife has finally started to rub off on me. She is still after all the best person I’ve ever known (and I’m still trying to figure out why she married me).
2) I’m in one of those rare places in my career where I absolutely love what I’m doing, and truly enjoy the people I’m doing it with (thank you Rubrik).
3) After 42+ years of being an over-grown child, I’ve finally begun to enter into adulthood (better late than never I guess).
Whatever has happened, and whether or not it can be fixed, one thing is clear. This blog will never be the same. For my 29 loyal followers who liked the old me, we’ll always have the archives to look back on. For the enlightened few who have just started reading this now, get ready for a new brand of content. While the inappropriate honesty may be gone, the honesty will continue to be the cornerstone of this whole platform. For instance, Hillary and Trump both suck equally but for different reasons. Please stop posting about the election and trying to convince people otherwise. Vote for whoever you want, but shut the f*ck up about it. The United States of America is the greatest nation in the world and will persevere regardless of which asshat we elect next week. More importantly the Cubs just won the World Series for the first time in 108 years, which gives me hope that the Chargers might actually win the Superbowl before I die.
God bless America, the Chargers, and country music! Yeehaw.
Monday, May 9, 2016
As I watched Ted Cruz’s concession speech last week I couldn’t help but think of a line from the movie “Risky Business” (yes, I know I’m dating myself). In the film Tom Cruise plays a character named Joel Goodson, a teenager living in Chicago. Joel is a good kid who’s always tried to do the right thing. Shit goes down however when his parents go out of town and he’s left home alone. Joel inadvertently gets mixed up with a call girl and the situation quickly escalates out of control. As Joel is confronted with multiple dilemmas that he’s simply not equipped to deal with, he adopts a new mantra from his buddy, Miles. That mantra: “Sometimes you just gotta say, what the fuck!” Joel goes through some pretty serious shit throughout the movie, but in the end everything works out okay. Which somehow seems very apropos when looking at the current presidential race.
With Ted Cruz exiting the Republican primary and Bernie Sanders all but eliminated from the Democratic primary, we must accept the sobering reality that our next POTUS will be either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Even typing that statement seems surreal. Our next POTUS will be either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. What the fuck! I must be in the middle of a bad dream, right? It’s like going to a restaurant where there’s only two items on the menu: a turd sandwich and a turd sandwich. Suddenly I’ve lost my appetite. On the one hand you have Hillary Clinton. One could argue there’s never been a candidate more prepared to be president. But she’s also a lying, conniving bitch who epitomizes all that is wrong with politics. On the other hand you have Donald Trump. He’s a very successful businessman who’s not afraid to challenge the status quo. But he’s also a racist, a misogynist, and quite possibly a certifiable sociopath. Unfortunately this is not a nightmare. This is actually happening. What the fuck!
Before you get on your soap box and try to convince me that either candidate is actually good for our country, just know that they are NOT. Because regardless of who wins, we will have never looked worse to the rest of the world. People in China, Japan, Germany, the UK, France, India, and even Canada have got to be scratching their heads and thinking, is that really the best they can do? I’m literally embarrassed to be an American right now. Don’t get me wrong. The United States is still the greatest country in the world and I’m proud to be part of it. One bad election does not erase 240 years of awesome. It is what it is. There’s no sense in feeling sorry for ourselves or complaining about things we cannot change. We simply need to choke down this turd sandwich…
...and pray that a 3rd party candidate enters the race at the 11th hour (Michael Bloomberg I’m looking at you).
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
It’s Super Tuesday #3. Donald Trump is leading the Republican primary and Hilary Clinton is leading the Democratic primary. This means it’s highly likely that one of these two completely miserable human beings will be leading our country for the next 4 years. It’s enough to make you lose your faith in humanity. But then you see a story like this that warms your heart and puts a smile on your face, and you know that everything is going to be okay.
SANTA FE, N.M. - Sheriff's deputies in Santa Fe, New Mexico, arrested a naked woman Saturday morning after law enforcement said she crashed her car into a pickup truck during a high-speed pursuit. Police received reports of a woman throwing items from a vehicle just before noon. The driver, identified as Barbara Arellano, 51, did not pull over when deputies attempted a traffic stop. Deputies chased the car as it ran red lights and reached speeds of 100 mph before plowing into a pick-up truck. Arrellano then bounded out of her Toyota 4-wheel-drive vehicle and ran screaming across traffic toward deputies. The woman shouted "Jehovah, Jehovah," as deputies tried to subdue and handcuff her. She fought and spit at deputies while they tried to restrain her. A motorist stopped and provided a blue tarp to cover the naked woman as deputies wrestled with her. She was then put into the back of a patrol car, where she continued yelling "Jehovah!" Deputies had to put a mask over Arellano's head because she continued spitting on them. The entire bizarre incident was captured on dash-cam and body cameras (do yourself a favor and google that shit). Arrellano has been charged with one aggravated count of fleeing a law enforcement officer, as well as reckless driving, DWI and two counts of battery on a peace officer. While being questioned she told officers she had ingested heroin, pills and whiskey while "partying like a damn dog."
But the coup de gras came when she was asked by police why she was naked. Her response: “I was hot.” Instant fucking classic. Faith in humanity restored. You’re welcome.
Thursday, February 18, 2016
I was having lunch by myself the other day, which I do from time to time while traveling for business, and I overheard a conversation between a father and a son. They were talking politics and the dad was asking his son who he was going to vote for in the upcoming primary elections. Very matter-of-factly and absolutely the son responds, “Bernie Sanders of course.” The dad probes him a bit and asks him to explain why. The kid looks offended that he even has to explain his position as if Sanders is the ONLY logical choice. He poses back, “Dad, do you know what a bought candidate is?” The dad responds, “I know what you think it is.” This kicks off a fairly heated debate where the dad essentially tells the kid that he doesn’t know shit about how the world works. The kid stares back at his dad with disgust like he’s too old to understand the new world order. And there in lies the great divide between millennials and those of us who are just a bit older (and wiser). For reasons unknown to me millennials seem to be consumed with a deeper sense of purpose and creating some sort of utopia, while the rest of us are focused on reality and making the most of what we’ve got. That said it makes perfect sense why Bernie’s message resonates so well with millennial voters.
Let me preface this rant by stating that I’m fully in support of affordable higher education, access to adequate healthcare for all who need it, and social security overhaul (I’d like to actually collect my benefit some day). But the manner in which Sanders plans to pay for all of this “free shit” is completely nutballs insane. Namely through higher taxes on the “rich”:
Sanders describes his top rate as 52 percent, but in reality top-bracket taxpayers would be paying up to 58 percent (the 52 percent base rate, plus the 2.2 percent health premium, plus the Affordable Care Act’s 3.8 percent surtax on investment income, which Sanders would keep). Add on top of that the CA state tax (for those of us lucky enough to live in the great state of California) and the effective tax rate is north of 70 percent. SEVENTY FUCKING PERCENT? And this doesn’t even include Sanders’ “Robin Hood” tax on financial transactions. To say this is exorbitant is like saying that Donald Trump is only slightly in love with himself. The kicker is how Sanders defines the “rich”. Are you ready for this? Anyone who earns over $250,000 a year. What the fuck, Bernie? I fit into this category (as do most of the people I know) and please check my bank statements because I’m fairly certain that I’m nowhere close to being “rich”. Anyone who lives in California knows full well that if you’re only pulling down 2 ½ bills, and socking even a modest amount away for retirement, then you’re pretty much breaking even or living paycheck to paycheck (I know, cry me a river). And this idealistic asshat wants to increase our effective tax rate to 70 percent?
I’m no economist but just how exactly is this going to fix the economy? Last time I checked it was the people with disposable income who were actually stimulating the economy. It’s a pretty straight forward equation as I see it: You earn the money, then you spend the money, then small businesses thrive, then more jobs are created, then more people are working and paying taxes to the government, and everyone wins. You see how this goes? (yes - I know I’ve dramatically over-simplified things but you get the point) The only consolation is that once all of the millennials who work in retail, food service, and hospitality vote Sanders into office, they’ll soon discover how the real world actually works. For after there’s no money left over to buy things at retail stores, or eat out at restaurants, or take vacations and stay in hotels, all the businesses that employ said millennials will cease to exist. And then they’ll really “Feel the Bern”.
But at least they’ll have all that “free shit” to fall back on…