Tampa-based writer/blogger/analyst/comic/creative semi-genius
One of my more recent blog finds is “The Delta Blues” – a blog on blues history and culture. A few weeks ago, they caught my interest with a post on the long lost Tampa blues scene. Now they bring it back to the Bay Area by traveling to St. Petersburg to interview longtime bluesman Sterling Magee, aka “Mr. Satan”.
This is a definite “must read” for fans of the blues and music history.
While perusing the ‘net the other day, I came upon a spectacular website. Apparently, in 2003 Forbes did a “Best Blogs” series, and one of the segments they decided to profile was the at-the-time sparse sports blogosphere. If SportsByBrooks, Deadspin.com, and The Big Lead were the Columbus, DeSoto, and Cortes of the sports blogging scene (explorers as well as conquerers), then these blogs were the ancient Vikings setting foot in an uncharted, untamed, and unpopulated New World.
Right from the start, Forbes discusses the difficulty of compiling their list. Their thought was that because ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Fox News, and regional sports sections provided ample coverage, then there was no reason for sports fans to blog. On top of that, there was “no economic incentive to start a sports blog”. I guess for Forbes that’s all that counts.
Before I review their Top 5, here is perhaps my favorite line from Forbes’s intro:
“Pro football and basketball blogs are the worst of the bunch–the pickings are slim, the presentation is poor and the writing uninspired.”
Number 1: Badjocks.com
2003 Forbes description highlight: “a good-looking, fun and informative blog that offers a Kobe Watch, a tally of high school coach sex scandals and the main attraction, stories listed under the heading “Who Did Something Stupid Today?” With 3,000 daily visits, the site may feature a story on a gold medal Russian rhythmic gymnast who was arrested for cheating at cards, or a high school mascot waving the Confederate flag.”
2010 Follow up: Badjocks.com is still active and was recently named one of the most influential blogs of the decade by Sports Illustrated.
Number 2: Off Wing Opinion
2003 Forbes description highlights: “There’s very little sports news that Eric McErlain won’t take an opinionated whack at … The Reston, Va., resident supplies an impressively informed point of view on every topic he targets … he gets 200 to 300 visitors a day.”
2010 Follow-up: Currently located at the more convenient www.offwing.com, Off Wing Opinion is still active, although it is now apparently only updated once a week as McErlain has seized bigger and better media opportunities.
Number 3: FanBlogs.com
2003 Forbes description highlights: “Fanblogs.com is probably the best blog dedicated to a single sport–college football … Making Fanblogs profitable is not on the agenda, they say, though they would like to make enough to cover the costs of producing the site. The blog got an average 17,000 daily hits this month.”
2010 Follow-up: FanBlogs.com is still active and looks as popular as ever. In 2006, it was purchased by Rivals.com, which makes it a part of the extensive Yahoo! Sports network.
Number 4: F#%!edsports.com
2003 Forbes description highlights: “F#%!edsports.com is sports’ version of King Lear’s fool. Buddy Maguire comments on the day’s major scandals … Although he claims to have earned a whopping $8.05 from the site so far, it’s the grotesque, not the money, that fuels him.”
2010 Follow-up: I’m not sure what to think here. When I typed in “F#%!edsports.com there was no site. However, when I looked up “Buddy Maguire”, I found a site called FrostedSports.tv which has not been updated since October 2008. Either way, I’m going to say they are not active anymore. Maybe someone out there knows something different.
Number 5: Replacement Level Yankee Fan
2003 Forbes description highlight: “Larry Mahnken’s Replacement Level Yankees has a pretty, pinstriped design, in-depth opinions updated regularly and relevant stats … The site is slowly gaining popularity, drawing about 1,000 hits in May, 2,000 in June, 3,000 in July and 6,500 in August.”
2010 Follow-up: On April 2nd, 2007 Replacement Level Yankee Fan moved from its original location to www.replacementlevel.com. That web address however redirects to Revenge of the RLYW which picks up on March 15, 2008. It’s almost as if the Yankees didn’t exist for 11 months.
Overall, I have to give credit to these guys. Not only are they the forebearers of the sports blogging scene, but as a writer/blogger who has been on the scene for 3.5 years, I have to tip my cap to the writers at 4 out of 5 of these sites who continue to post quality material day in and day out.
Seven years is a long time. Great job, guys.
(Addendum: In 2004, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer wrote an article on the growing sports blog scene. According to the P-I, at the time there were “322 blogs, with 267 dedicated to baseball. Some have become so popular, they are selling advertising.”)
Last summer I read an interesting book by screenwriter/actor Brian Spaeth entitled Prelude to a Super Airplane. One of the many plotlines in Spaeth’s book involves a conflict between the “fast emerging pro-flying car contingent” and the “traditional pro-airplane members of the populace”. It is a battle for the future of aerial transportation – whether national production should focus on many private individual units or on a few massive public transports.
After reading Prelude, I started thinking about the transportation situation in Tampa. Like most of America, a large majority of the residents of Tampa prefer private automobile use over public transportation. Buses, although used, remain a secondary alternative, ridden primarily by those without cars or those looking to save money on gas.
I predict this is going to change in the very near future. I think we will soon see a major shift in transportation culture. A shift that will require change in the perception and utility of public transportation.
One of the most consistent news trends of the last few years has been reporting the dangerous relationship between communication devices and driving. Every few weeks it seems another story is written about an accident involving a phoning, texting, or tweeting victim. According to a recent Mashable.com post, “an estimated 6,000 people were killed and 500,000 were injured due to cell-phone related car accidents” in 2008.
There is no doubt people are having trouble pausing their desire to stay social. With the growth of the communication industry and ease of staying in touch, we are seeing a cultural shift from the importance of travel to the need for continuous communication. We value staying in touch more than we do those short moments in which our concentration is needed for driving.
So far, our society’s initial reaction has been to fight this cultural shift. Mashable, a blog dedicated to technology and social media, recommended “a combination of legislation, social awareness, and technological innovation to create a safe marriage between social media and driving“. CNN also recently reported on a product designed to disable cell phones from calling or texting while vehicles are in motion.
Unfortunately, the genie of communication and increased socialization cannot be put back in the bottle. On the contrary, we need to embrace our need to be social.
This is where public transportation must step up. They must take the lead in embracing this cultural shift. Instead of being seen as secondary, they need to rebrand, remarket, and refocus their message and be perceived as a safe alternative for those who want to stay in touch while they travel.
Here are some ideas how public transportation systems can promote themselves to those who are putting increased value on communications:
1) Engage their sense of adventure and participation – One of the major buzzphrases is the last year on the technology front has been “geolocation – the “the identification of the real-world geographic location of an Internet-connected computer, mobile device, website visitor or other“. Public transportation organizations should encourage riders to plug in and announce where they are. These organizations could promote “Tweet ‘N’ Ride” events, incorporate social applications such as Foursquare, or even do virtual treasure hunts or games of “I Spy“.
2) Increase routes through college and young professional residential areas – In order to encourage usage, buses need to be seen in areas where communication-savvy people live. This means putting routes in the residential areas of people 18 to 35. These routes need to stop by places this demographic frequents, such as campuses, downtown areas, malls, entertainment complexes, and sports stadiums.
3) Ensure routes have good signal – Whenever possible, public transportation organizations should make sure there are few, if any deadzones along the routes. They could also make all bus stops Wi-Fi zones. If possible, these organizations should also put Wi-Fi on the buses.
4) Embrace social media – Although many transportation organizations already have twitter and facebook accounts, these organizations need to better utilize these platforms. Not only should the administration be engaging potential riders, but the buses should as well. However possible, each bus should have access to the tweeter feed and “automatically” tweet its location when it reaches stops along its route. This information could be broadcast not only to individuals through twitter, but also possibly to a small screen installed in each stop.
5) Target parents – In order to encourage teens and other members of the millennial generation that buses are a viable option, public transportation organizations should create advertising campaigns targeted to parents and other decision makers. Parents should be informed that they do not have to discourage their teen from communicating, and that options do exist for teens to travel and stay in touch.
In Prelude to a Super Airplane, the great culture battle between individual and mass aerial transportation culminates in 2012. If public transportation organizations can capitalize on the current growing cultural shift between transportation and communication, we may see the battle on land much sooner.
I don’t know why, but this incident popped into my head a few weeks ago, and I thought it would make a good story here.
Way, way, way back when I was in high school, before Tampa, before Florida State, before the Army, before the dark times, and before the Empire, I was a bit awkward. Although most people would say that is true of everyone at that age, I was teenage awkward beyond teenage awkward. I was 6’0-plus and rail thin, with a surfer haircut and a White Sox hat. I could quote Ol’ Dirty Bastard lyrics and Star Wars trivia, and then tell you what former Met third baseman Howard Johnson’s batting average was in 1989 (.287).
(Nowadays many of these traits are admirable and add to a person’s charm, but back then they were just geeky. Except for the surfer cut and the Sox hat, those are still bad choices.)
Adding to my many high school era personality quirks and fashion fas pauxs were also a few unfortunate flubs. In ninth grade, for example, I got in a fight and was hit in the mouth with a t-square drafting tool. I needed ten stitches after spitting blood all over my teacher’s desk. That was not fun.
On the more humorous side, my proclivity for gaffs was raised to another level during a 12th grade English class. One day, for a reason I do not remember, the student sitting in front of me in English class was perusing a dictionary and looking up words that start with “V”.
To this day, I am not sure why, but this kid was one of the smartest in the school and now, according to his Facebook page, has his Ph.D, so who am I to question early academic inquiry.
After asking the young genius what he was doing, we started comparing our knowledge of multi-syllabic “v-words”, to include the word “voluptuous” – meaning, among other things, “suggesting sensual pleasure by fullness and beauty of form“. A few minutes later, as we continued talking “V”s, he dared me to call our sometimes long-winded teacher “verbose” – meaning “given to wordiness“. Probably not the smartest thing to call a teacher, but I took up the dare.
Unfortunately, when I finally did get the teacher’s attention, the synapses and neurons I had misfiring in my teenage brain that day didn’t quite get the words right. Instead of telling the teacher he was very verbose, I told him he was very voluptuous.
I’ll never forget his response. Without missing a beat, he looked at me, put his hands on his hips, struck a faux Marilyn Monroe pose, and said “Thank you.”
Realizing my blunder, I stuttered, “I-I-I meant verbose.”
“Are you saying I talk too much?”, he asked.
Stuck between a rock and a hard place, I tried to explain the whole dictionary, smart kid, and letter “V” situation. I’m not quite sure I succeeded before the bell rang to change classrooms. Saved by the bell.
Although I was initially embarrassed, I was able to laugh off my “voluptuous” blunder. I was even bold enough to give the same teacher the same pseudo-compliment on my final day as a high school student. On graduation day, as I was walking across the graduation stage, high school diploma in hand, I saw my English teacher waiting at the bottom of the stage steps congratulating every student for their effort. When it came my turn, I shook his hand and without missing a beat, said “Looking very voluptuous today. Oops, I mean verbose.”
He looked at me and laughed.
He probably thought I was a little weird.
Glad I outgrew that perception.
(Picture acquired from the blog Poetency & Apoetasy.)
Courtesy of the Snowman of Afro-Squad.com:
Remember, you don’t want to get mixed up with a guy like me. I’m a loner. A rebel. And I ride a mean bicycle.
As the 2010 NASCAR season kicked off the weekend, I figured it was time to put to words an idea that has been in my head since November, coincidentally when last NASCAR season ended.
In Novemeber 2009, the United Nations hosted the first ever Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety. Because road safety and traffic accidents are a growing concern throughout the world, “as many as 1500 participants including ministers; representatives of UN agencies, civil society organizations and private companies” met in Russia for the conference. This group sought to stem the worldwide problem of road safety.
(According to some of the UN’s published numbers,
As a result of the Conference’s “Moscow Declaration“, the years 2011 to 2020 have been declared the “Decade of Action for Road Safety”. As a follow-up to the November meeting, the UN General Assembly is scheduled to discuss their initiatives during the road safety decade this March. The initiatives will include a focus on the following danger areas:
Since the UN started looking at road safety nearly five years ago, they have teamed up with several racing organizations and personalities. In 2007, Formula 1 supported the first UN Global Road Safety Week by pushing their racers to contribute to the effort through speeches and photo ops. Drivers Michael Schumaker and Lewis Hamilton also spoke out and individually supported the UN Global Road Safety week initiative.
Also in 2007, the UN named Formula Three driver Basil Shaaban “UN World Youth Ambassador for Road Safety”. With this appointment, Shaaban, a Lebanese driver, took up “an effective social role in spreading awareness about the causes of fatal traffic accidents in the Arab world, most of which is result to over-speeding and recklessness on public roads.” Being that many Middle East nations are on the top of the list of accidents, Shaaban’s role, which he still holds, is especially relevant.
Despite worldwide participation and cooperation, one racing organization is conspicuously absent. A quick Google search reveals no evidence of cooperation between NASCAR and the UN in road safety initiatives. This even though NASCAR broadcasts races in over 150 countries.
Rather than attempting to figure why this hasn’t happened yet, here are two big reasons why working together on road safety would be beneficial for both NASCAR and the UN.
1) Global Reach for NASCAR -Although it’s American expansion is somewhat new compared to other sports, NASCAR has just about permeated the entire US market. Now that theyhave effectively courted the female American market with the arrival of Danica Patrick, the next step, of course, is looking to market and spread internationally. NASCAR would be wise to use the United Nations to promote NASCAR’s legitimacy to international fans. And it would also introduce NASCAR’s best personalities to people unfamiliar with the sport.
2) Exposure to Americans for the UN – A partnering with NASCAR would help improve the UN’s image in America. Although they do a lot of work throughout the world in various fields, the bottom line is that many Americans have a negative opinion of the UN and quite a few even support American withdrawal from the organization. Being seen with Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhart, Jr, and other racers could show the NASCAR demographic another side of the UN, possibly swaying opinion from”poor” to “good” or even “meh” – especially if the UN can effectively convey its message of road safety to the American audience.
Pairing NASCAR with the UN during the Decade of Action for Road Safety would not only be good business, it could also help reduce auto fatalities and accidents across the globe. And that would be worth a victory lap.
I don’t know how true this is, but according to the Weekly World News (and confirmed on MSNBC), rap uber-star Lil Wayne is having his prison sentence delayed until after he gets “necessary dental treatment”.
What, did the gold in his mouth turn his gums green?
More moons ago than I would like to count, I had quite a bit of dental work done. I had braces, an array of retainers, my wisdom teeth and four others removed, and then braces again. For lack of a better term, my teenage years were a trial in orthodontics.
Even right before I left for the Army, I was, as we say around the way, “on wire”. I remember the day we told my orthodontist that the braces had to go. He was not a happy camper. He had plans for me. Plans that included additional oral surgery (the recommended surgeon told us he wanted to break my jaw in four pieces and then reassemble it!) and two more rounds of braces. This at a cost of well over 15,000 dollars.
Of course, before we resigned from his orthopedic adventure, he and his cabal warned me. They warned me that if not in a few years, then definitely when I was in my 20s the back of my jaw would start clicking against itself. Then it would be painful to eat. Then, who knows, maybe my jaw would fall off.
Not only did their premonition not come true when I was in the Army, but 11 years later, my jaw is still fine. No clicking. No clacking. No grinding. No pain.
Hear that, Lil Wayne? I didn’t delay my commitments. I took my chances.
(Originally published on ScalpEm.com)
I know NoleCC already talked about the NCAA’s decision, and his 6 points were excellent, but I have one thought of my own.
According to Andrew Carter, the NCAA striped the FSU Men’s Basketball Team of the following:
Now granted, only Ryan Reid is around from that team, and it might not mean much to many of the other players on the current hoops squad, but do you know who will never forget those games?
The 2006-2007 men’s basketball season was my first living outside of Tallahassee since the 1999 season. While in Tallahassee, I went to several, if not all of the men’s basketball games. And although I can’t find record of it, as a recent grad still hankering for a flavor of Tallahassee, I know I made the trip from Tampa to Tallahassee a few times during the ’06-07 season to see the Noles play. I probably saw more than one of those 19 regular season victories.
Then, on March 9th, 2007, I know for a fact the Noles beat Clemson in the ACC tournament. The game was played at the St. Pete Times Forum, and I was there. I saw it with my own eyes.
The Noles won.
They can erase it from the record books all they want, but the NCAA cannot take that game away from me.
Here is a poem I wrote about left-handed people striking out against their right-handed oppressors. Being left-handed is something I’m proud of and I try my best to carry on the legacy of the great lefty geniuses, generals, and gentlemen who made jive-turkeys genuflect from July to June.
¡Viva la Revolución de los Zurdos!
(The Rising of the Left)
Round up the troops!
Call all volunteers!
No longer will we be sinister,
Descendants of Ehud (Judges 3:27),
the killer of a king,
ruler of the Chosen People,
We Shall Rise Again!
Oppressed in a “right” society for too long.
We are outcasts.
Scissors, can openers shall no longer puzzle us.
We’ll redesign the rifles
so shells no longer scar our cheeks!
We will let the fighting spirit of Napoleon,
Caesar, and the Great Alexander guide us.
With the intellect of Ford, Einstein, and Benjamin Franklin
to our credit,
We shall not fail!
With 32 million nationwide,
we are outnumbered,
but organization can defeat population!
Start with secret handshakes.
Plans will be encoded in conversation.
Decoded only by the “right” side of the brain.
We must claim our own land!
Beat the hands of the noncompliant
with wooden sticks
as they beat ours so long ago!
So let us take a stand!
Fight this war to be Free!
¡Viva la revolución de los zurdos!
Post script: Perusing the ‘net, there is one other site that uses the term “left-handed revolution“. Unfortunately, they don’t talk about ceasing power. They do however make the very insightful claim that “left-handed people may be the most secretly oppressed people in the world”.
How absolutely true.