When General Sherman burned Atlanta to the ground, it was all about making sure the enemy wouldn’t get high on his massive supply. His plan was peach in that it knocked the old railroad town on its ass while achieving a symbolic victory for the Union; but it didn’t cancel out a return engagement.
Atlanta came back.
Like most American cities, Atlanta collected plenty of bruises in its journey to modern times. The arduous road included a transient collection of facelifts and a personality shift whose sea change spoke to the mighty strengths and curious flaws of our most imperfect union. From Sherman to Margaret Mitchell, Martin Luther King to Ray Charles, Little Richard to James Brown, Hank Aaron to Jimmy Carter, Ted Turner and Tyler Perry. The town exemplifies the struggle and its sacred worth.
On my first trip to Atlanta on business, I pinched the remnants of late afternoons into tourist trappings the likes of which included the CNN center tour, Centennial Olympic Park, Underground Atlanta, World of Coca Cola, The Varsity and Sylvia’s Soul Food. On my final day in town I woke up with a head cold from Hades that canceled my libations playlist for the evening. I would catch up with the Martini a year later, or more to the truth, it would catch up with me.
At the turn of the millennium, I had engaged in a handful of dalliances with the Martini. Each gallivant had one common denominator; it was cheap on substance. Because the reality is that not every bartender is a scientist dedicated to the craft, and I had come across a collection of short order cooks up to that point. The only thing I knew full well was that my tastes ran counter to the traditional gin version made famous by Sinatra. Old Blue Eyes’ remedy was gin with a splash of vermouth, on the rocks with a twist of lemon. My method was vodka in a straight up spill with plenty of starch (Yes, extra dry), and olives for the win.
This particular crush wasn’t the standard, so I guess it was only right that my first serious dance with the Martini happened in Atlanta, seeing as how the 404 understands full well how to turn second place into a win. And so it was Morton’s Steakhouse on Peachtree Center Ave where I gained an audience with the stuff of legend.
The provocation was patiently sublime as my senses were ministered by the rhythmic flow of a mathematical equation whose gravity was borne in the thick of a cold and moody darkness. It was proverbs meeting original sin, with three olives tucked inside its harmony for safe keeping. Each sip was an exquisitely structured lesson on how atoms become snow storms.
I was halfway across the finish line when my clams arrived, after which I grubbed like a truck driver breakfasting at the end of a long haul. I finished my lap in the pool with a smoke before ordering the second round while waiting for my New York strip. And then I began dreaming up testimonials to the religious experience as my brain achieved hula. And it was inside this hazy shade of a winter’s night that I decided what I would say to Sinatra if I met him somewhere between Jupiter and Mars.
I would apologize for having been right.
It’s been days since the last spy balloon sighting and the world is going cuckoo for cocoa puffs as a result. The cabal news industry is Jonesing for some more and those poor little weather balloons that keep getting shot down in a case of mistaken identity don’t rate, because we don’t care about science! We want to get scared witless over the prospects of China or Russia or ET bum rushing us into a dystopian future, because let’s face it; anything’s better than having to pay ten bucks for a dozen eggs.
Without more spy balloon sightings, Dick Cheney is gonna have to go back to shooting lawyers on his ranch. Not that there’s anything wrong with that . . .
Let’s get down to bi-ness . . .
Don Lemon is aptly named.
The CNN talkie made news recently when he claimed Nikki Haley- who is 51- wasn’t fit to run for President because “she isn’t in her prime, sorry,”. According to Lemon, a woman’s prime is kaput by her 40’s. When Poppy Harlow- who happens to be 40- challenged him on the ridiculous assertion, Lemon blamed it on his Google search. Because . . . journalism! And proving once again that no bad idea goes unpublished these days, Haley is now selling koozies on her website which read “Past my prime? Hold my beer.”. Because . . . politics!
Yanno, lost in all the hoopla of the Brady retirement sequel was the fact that Ozzy Osbourne retired from touring on the very same day. The pickled piper just can’t do it any more, but the fact that he was still doing it at 74 is a crazy train of thought. Whereas Brady is a health nut who played in a league that treats quarterbacks the way steakhouses treat the mayor, Ozzy has been at the top of a lot of dead pools over the last five decades.
Now that’s the GOAT!
Vladimir Putin keeps showing up at closing time.
The Russian President announced he was suspending his nuclear arms treaty with the United States on the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In a scathing speech before the Russian Federal Assembly, Vlad labeled the west and NATO as hypocrites whose agenda is global domination. Remember when the most frightening thing about this putz were those clips of him riding his horse shirtless? Okay, they’re still the most frightening thing about this putz. But this latest turn of events is shitty in its own right.
If music and psychological dramas are your thing, then you best check out Tar, starring Cate Blanchett as a renowned conductor who finds her perfect life coming apart at the seams. It’s a story about the infinite possibilities borne out of genius and the shadowy corners we visit that can steal it all away. I know it’s early, but this very well might be the best film I see this year.
Nothing is sacred.
The derailment of a Norfolk Southern freight train carrying hazardous materials on February 3rd is proving that sad fact all over again. Because every day since then has devolved into a mess of political grandstanding and corporate backpedaling.
Listen, President Biden didn’t have to go to Palestine, Ohio to make what would’ve been little more than a photo op while taking resources away from the myriad issues at hand. But he should’ve canceled his surprise visit to Ukraine maybe? The optics, as they say, ain’t doing him any favors. And what of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg taking more than a week to even address the disaster? Considering all the misinformation coming out of Ohio early on, he has to be ahead of that.
Of course, Florida guy showed up with his own brand of water and a shitload of McDonalds. So not only do area residents have to worry about the air they breathe and the water they drink . . now they have to deal with this toxic act as he tries to capitalize on the devastation. I bet you he didn’t mention all those regulatory rollbacks he orchestrated when he was in office. He let companies like Norfolk Southern skate on requirements for faster breaks on trains carrying highly flammable materials, and he ended regular rail safety audits of railroads. We already know whose side he’s on.
The people of Palestine, Ohio don’t deserve this. Neither do we.
The more things change, the more I believe Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player that ever lived.
I don’t need to debate this. Not after witnessing his brilliance first hand. He turned Madison Square Garden into a Broadway play every time he visited. He transformed ninety-four feet worth of polished maple into a symphony that was equal parts Mozart and James Brown. And when he took matters into his own hands, it was judge meeting jury with the executioner standing by with a hot mic.
And yet, the greatest thing about this American icon is happening off the court these days. It’s happening in hospitals and homes across the country, thanks to exploits that far exceed anything the man ever accomplished on the hardwood. Because as far as philanthropists go, he’s in that conversation too.
Jordan recently donated $10 million to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, which sets a record for the organization. That’s how Jordan celebrated his 60th birthday; by giving something back to those who need it most of all. And this latest gift comes two years after he donated $10 million to Novant Health for the opening of two children’s hospitals; a network to which he has now donated $17 million. And he’s done plenty more than that, only we never get to see it because the networks won’t cover it and arenas don’t get filled when charity and kindness is the main event. But it turns out that Jordan’s best work is only getting better.
In a hundred years, maybe they will have forgotten about Michael and the Bulls at the Garden. Maybe those six world titles he brought to Chicago will have gone rearview to the accomplishments of future generations. And maybe there will have been another maestro who made those ninety-four feet feel like outer space. But if there’s a time capsule for Jordan and the only thing in it was that photograph up top?
That’ll work just fine.
*Apologies… apparently, I don’t know how to schedule properly…
From the blog that has produced such classic hits as The Vibe and Speaking Of, comes the latest look inside the sick mind of its content wizard. Apologies in advance, and please, if you find this piece to be objectionable or ill suited to anyone with common sense, feel free to register your complaints here.
This article of my constitution has to do with big league sports and why I refuse to pay in. I haven’t been to a Yankees game in years while my consumption of the other three sports has rendered me anorexic. To paraphrase Dickens, I don’t have anything against big league sports and I have everything against big league sports.
Roger Goodell- He’s the NFL’s rain maker. By 2027, the league will be raking in approximately 25 billion pigskins annually; only two years late on Goodell’s projection all the way back in 2010. That’s some primo caviar cake if you’re an owner, but just another bill if you’re on the other side of the ticket window.
Europe has become a thing, with several games a year played on the other side of the pond. Which is great news if you live in Frankfurt or Great Britain, but not so great news if you’re a season ticket holder stateside and they’re stealing one of your Sundays.
The Commish once proclaimed PSL’s as “good investments. These personal seat licenses are annual fees you pay in order to own a seat. and can range from $500 to $100,000. For a seat. Your safety isn’t guaranteed and neither is the starting time if the league decides to flex your 1 o’clock game to prime time for the cash. If you live in a cold weather city, sucks to be you!
I ain’t paying for that.
Kyrie Irving- The dude ain’t evil, but he is a schmuck on wheels. The media culls for content and Kyrie is trough-ready, with clueless and sometimes hurtful commentary that shows how insular his privileged world truly is; he’s a poster man-child for the baller brats who wish to maximize their bank accounts sans the sweat.
Irving might’ve been an all-timer if he had put in as much work in the gym as he does out of it but the narrative of his career will speak to all the talent he left on his cutting room floor. He might play lights out for the rest of the season and lead the Mavericks on a deep playoff run. Or he might decide to take a vacation to clear his head. You never know with Kyrie.
I ain’t paying for that.
The Coolest Game On Earth Lost Its Mind- The NHL is as close as I’ll come to extending an olive branch to watching a live performance. It’s the most exciting of the four major sports in real time and you mostly get what you pay for. But the very fact that a team such as the Las Vegas Golden Knights can live and breathe in their league really turns me off. If you’ve not seen their pre-game show, don’t. It would make Wayne Newton cringe.
I ain’t paying for that.
This used to be my playground- I’ll still take in a baseball game so long as it’s minor league or independent in nature. But the MLB will remain in my rearview until doubleheaders, day World Series games and bunting become a thing again. In other words, nah.
The game can still captivate me, but these days it’s in small doses. For every Ohtani. there’s a Tatis, whose boundless talents get snagged in a perpetual cycle of bad decisions. For every Steve Cohen who- love it or loathe it- will do anything to make the Mets a winner, you have Reds owner Phil Castellini, who has threatened to move the team out of the town they’ve called home for more than one hundred and fifty years. For every team like the Rays, who milk every last penny out of their roster in order to field a winner, you have the Marlins, who didn’t get that memo.
And now we’re getting change for our dollar’s worth. But all the artificial sweeteners the league has added to a sport that is damn near unrecognizable won’t cure their ills. We’ll get pitch clocks when making the batter stay in the box and the pitcher stay on the mound works better. And oh yeah, fewer commercials (Peter Ueberroth forbid!) would shave palenty off the average game.
If you’re waiting for baseball to return to its roots, take a seat because it’s going to be a while. For that to happen, the sport would have to buy into the fundamentals. They would have to choose substance over swagger. They would have to stop emulating the faster, meaner sports and get back to churching with Kinsella and Kahn and Angell. It would be an abrupt departure from the coordinates they are currently following. And they would have to admit their glory days are entirely in the rearview. Unless or until they get down with some common sense?
I ain’t paying for that.
I never understood why people fear mortality.
What’s the point in being afraid of the inevitable? I mean, if you’re going to be afraid of bad company you can’t reschedule, be afraid of in-laws and the IRS. Leave the grim reaper out of it. He’s just doing his job, and business is good when you consider that mortality rates were up last year.
This thought occurred to me- death- whilst enjoying my every other day half hour run. Thirty minutes, three miles and change, the perfect Zen. Now, thinking about death is way different than being afraid to die. Thinking about death is something I do every day, several times a day. It usually pays a visit inside my lighter moments.
Of course, death isn’t all fun and games. There are certain methods of cosmic transportation that do not butter my bread. so a list of ways in which death would truly suck? Yeah, I just so happen to have such a list.
Shark Attack- Sharks are majestic, but so is the St. Patrick’s Cathedral and I wouldn’t want to be impaled by one of its spires.
Plane Crash- Every time a plane crash happens, some aviation expert will let us know it’s far more likely we’ll die after slipping in the bathtub than die in a plane crash. Yeah but last time I looked, my bathtub wasn’t forty thousand feet above the ground.
Dying in the audience during “Live with Kelly Ripa and _____”- I would sooner hurtle to earth in a plane while hooked up to a ventilator, after which I survive the impact only to be devoured by sharks.
When my half hour run was in the books I decided to treat myself, which isn’t a regular occurrence for yours truly. The problem with this brilliant fucking idea is that I quit most of the stuff I used to treat myself to. Like painkillers, day drinking and smokes.
Meanwhile, mi mama is on the road to recovery after having tangoed with mortality a couple months ago. She lived to tell the tale, even if the telling is sometimes in the form of bitching and moaning about her physical therapy. So it was that I summoned a little Mickey Goldmill on the drive to her latest session and once she aced that shit? I treated her (us) to McDonalds.
McDonalds is truly every once in a while for me and it won’t be a regular occurrence for the old gal either, but in the moment it was a pretty brilliant fucking idea. Which got me thinking happier thoughts. And that’s when my list of ways to die that don’t suck quite so much came to me.
Because of course I have one . . .
Skydiving- The only problem is my intense fear of heights. In order for me to die while skydiving, I would have to be drugged and then thrown off a plane. But I’m willing to try it so long as the drugs are really, really good.
Competitive Eating Contest- It would serve me right to get strangled by a five-pound bacon cheeseburger with all the fixings. I’ve wasted enough time watching these marathon masticators do their thing while making light of it that I probably deserve such a fate, as long as caramelized onions are an accessory.
As breakfast for a Bengal tiger- I only romanticize such a thing because of Yann Martel, but it still counts. And besides, I would lose consciousness within thirty-seconds, tops. Sure it would be the longest thirty seconds of my life, but it sure as hell beats thirty minutes of Ripa.
An explosion in a distillery- I get to take it with me!
Being impaled by a spire from St. Patrick’s Cathedral- Alright, I thought about it some and yanno . . it would be a pretty cool way to buy the boat.
Yann Martel once wrote that death fell in love with the beauty of life, and that’s why it stalks it. And I think that if I’m willing to allow a Bengal tiger to macchiato my ass into the ever after, there’s gotta be some truth to that idea.
I betcha Ryan Seacrest would agree.
I know, I know, there were deer last week, too. But c’mon… how to resist? Just look at that face!
If I was expecting Tom Brady’s crib to be the Floridian version of the Palace of Versailles I’m losing big time. Because when I arrive at my destination, I’m parked in front of an art-deco walkup in Little Havana that is bookended by a liquor store on the one side and a pawn shop on the other. I text Brady to make sure I got the address right and he lets me know he’s watching me. I’m sufficiently creeped out now but decide to venture inside anyway because what’s the worst that could happen?
Okay, there’s a laundry list of worst case scenarios running through my brain. Serial killer Tom Brady is at the top of the list because let’s face it, he fits the profile. White, comes from a good family . . . obsessive to the point of psychotic . . creepy . . .
Hermano! Levnantar la vista!
Hell nope, don’t go Rosetta Stoning my ass Tom! You want to practice your irretrievably broken Spanish on someone, dial up one of your ESPN groupies. They’ll dig that shit up, but I didn’t bring my Irish Harlem dictionary with me so let’s keep it civil . . .coo?
I move up to the third floor and join the greatest quarterback of a generation on a patio that is only slightly larger than a hamster cage. He hands me a virgin Daiquiri and we clink our plastic cups together as I begin compiling excuses for why I have to cut the interview short.
Please tell me this isn’t your new crib.
Nah, I’m adding a wing to my place so I decided to Airbnb this little gem in the meantime. I was inspired by Rocky III . . . hell of a movie.
Yeah that’s amazing. Hey, can we move this inside since I don’t like hanging out in phone booths that sit three stories above the ground?
I take a seat on a frayed wicker chair that is no doubt a relic of the Bautista regime while Tom plops down on a bean bag chair. Nothing about this scene is natural, but hey . . . I asked for it.
Is this the end? Really? Truly? Cross your heart and hope to shit your pants at a White Party . . the end?
(Laughing) Yes, really most likely and truly the best that I can foresee and absolutely, positively maybe!
That’s not how this works. The double talk was all well and good when the hot mics just wanted to breathe your air. But if this is “for good” as you claimed, then you need to bring some real shit to the table.
I told you, there’s like a less than fifty/fifty chance I would come back.
Wait, what? Fifty/fifty is my convenience store sushi. If you’re going to tell me it’s a coin flip chance you’re playing in the fall, Imma tell you the Miami Dolphins are the team to call up. They specialize in retirement packages for over the hill quarterbacks.
Are you telling me I’m washed up?
If you’re a serial killer in your spare time, no. But if you’re just a great quarterback with no life, absolutely.
Don’t get me wrong, you’re a freak of nature to have played the game at the age of 45. But in today’s NFL, Joe Namath could throw for 4,000 yards easy. And he’s 79 years old.
Is Bill Belichick as much of a dick as he makes himself out to be?
Bill is someone I respect immensely, and so much of what I am . . not simply as a player but as a human being, is thanks to him
Remember Tommy, you don’t get to end around the question now . .
Yeah, he’s a dick. Great coach . . but total dick
I happen to think you guys could’ve won another Super Bowl if you had stayed in New England. But the fact you went to a franchise that, more often than not couldn’t get out of its own way and won it in your first year there . . I hate to admit it but I find that more impressive than if you had done it in New England. How about you?
Listen, winning is hard no matter where you’re playing. I read somewhere that winning a Super Bowl is harder than performing brain surgery while operating a commercial airliner . .
I’m pretty sure that’s not true.
Maybe I saw that on Tucker Carlson’s show
So if you had been able to choose the locale, where would you have spent your career?
I would have played in a parking lot . . as long as it was seventy five degrees and sunny
Joe Montana called you “the guy in Tampa” and it’s pretty clear he ain’t down with this idea that you’re the GOAT. Any thoughts as to why an all-timer would throw shade on you?
I’m not sure why Joe would have a problem with me and I really don’t think he does. The media tends to blow these things up.
You mean the way they umm . . . blew up all those balls you deflated?
(Tom points his finger in Clintonian defiance) I did not exhale
Favorite teammate of all time. And Gronk doesn’t count.
Sorry pal but that ship done sailed. There’s a less than one percent chance that she’s reading this and that one percent just skipped town with a dude half her age. So let’s keep it to football, por favor.
Probably Edelman but I have to say, Fonda was a lot of fun too
Okay, last question. Does Mahomes have a chance to catch your ring count if he wins today?
Well if he does, I’m coming back
I came up with a new way of shaking the sugar and pardon moi for not giving you the heads up on this science experiment. But sometimes? You just have to plate the dish and hope for the best, or at least a reasonable facsimile.
This theatrical performance deals with vibes. Hence the title of this post, which is brought to you by WordPress (they told me not to include an exclamation point or I would have to pay for their primo service). The Vibe is all about how topics culled off the news cycle are rhythming to my sick brain. I introduce a participant or several and then I play matchmaker with a song that comes to mind. I would ask you to enjoy but that might be a tad bit presumptuous.
George Santos to Marjorie Taylor Greene to Joe Biden. These people just so happen to be the icing on our political toilet cake these days, with nary a Tinkers or Evers or Chance in hell of redeemable allowance for the sucker shock we’re footing the bill on. Santos lies more than a call girl on commission. Greene kills the spirit of Einstein every time she opens her pancake hole. And Joe? Please, for the love of God, don’t let the man improvise. People in charge of his speeches are making bank, and for what?
I love the Association but that love is thinning faster than my hairline. The league has become a bad moon rising, full of entitled ball brats who want their money for nothing and their Chucks for free. For every LeBron James, you have a Kyrie Irving, who blames the whole world for the drama he creates. For every Jimmy Butler, you have a Ben Simmons, who gold chains his way to generational wealth whilst riding the pine to his next party. I just cannot bring myself to watch these days because I feel like Ed Tom Bell in No Country for Old Men, pondering the way things used to be whilst knowing they ain’t ever going back to square. Which is why I’m thankful for the musical talents of one Kevin Durant when I grab some highlights. Sure he’s surly and finicky and altogether petty at times. But hey, so am I. Alls I know is the man is seven feet tall with a howitzer of a right arm that hums and a wingspan Carl Sagan would’ve written poems on. And so it’s KD’s talents that have me matching up a tune to pair with it.
China has balls. I mean balloons. Okay, I mean both. They were plenty pissed over the fact that we jacked their spy balloon out of the sky, even if we had every right to do just that. Now you would think a regime that fucked over the world might actually show some grace and humility but n’kay . . .
The machines keep coming at us and we keep letting it happen. I wrote about this not too long ago in Ill Machina and the evidence keeps slapping me upside the head. So I will ride out this maiden voyage with a musical spill I learned about through Tony Kornheiser, who finds the hidden gems and plants them in our playlists. He feels that thing the same way I do.
It’s the vibe.
Believe it or not, these are all different deer in different sections of the park.
A little while later….