Invisible Baseball.

I started wearing “Roast Beef” my freshman season of baseball. I wasn’t actually wearing deli meat. It was maroon t-shirt with the words “New England Roast Beef” over the heart in a faux-cursive font. The shirt was from my favorite sandwich place in Worcester. I wore it under my jersey for my first JV game and went 2-3 with a double, plus completed some plays in right field including a diving catch in foul ground. Like most idiot baseball players I decided it was a good luck charm and wore it for every practice and every game of baseball for almost four years.

Sure I didn’t have a stellar game like that one every game. That wouldn’t be baseball. All-Stars get three hits every ten at-bats. But I felt like it gave me a certain mojo. It also gave me a certain fungus on my chest and neck, that still recurs from time to time on my 31 year old body.

Early in my senior season we had lost a couple of close games and were really not playing to our full potential. Our coach held a team meeting after practice. We always had these to discuss the pitching rotation and expectations of the week. He also had a suggestion: sacrifice “Roast Beef.” He said that possibly the mojo had changed. That maybe Roast Beef was too old now and its magic worn. I told him I agreed.

We had a team barbecue at my parent’s house and sacrificially burned the t-shirt. Then on a rainy morning with two freshman teammates, we spread the ashes at each of the bases. Climbing back up to the top of the hill that overlooked our home diamond and screamed, “RIP ROAST BEEF,” we swore we heard thunder clap immediately after.

Things like this are why I love baseball. Sure, the game is fun, but what about the character? What about Mark Fidrych yelling at a baseball? Or Benny Agbayani tossing a ball into the crowd with runners on and only two outs? Or Jose Canseco’s existence?

That same team that agreed to burn a smelly t-shirt for the possibility of winning more games had other little quirks that season. We had all of first and third plays in Spanish, because most of our opponents were lily-white suburbanites. We sprinted for every run we gave up after a win or a loss. And we warmed up, before some games, without a baseball.

Most youth and high school baseball teams have this warm-up ritual called “Infield/Outfield.” Essentially a middle-aged coach wears tight baseball pants and hits fly balls and ground balls to the starters and bench players at their respective positions. The outfielders will hit their cut-off, which is then relayed to one of the bases. Infielders throw to first, turn a double play; simple ways to make outs.

It happens all over the world. It is a warm-up for the team and a way to showcase your team’s talents. Our team would play pretend.

We would go through the motions of the stereotypical “Infield/Outfield” down to the very physical stances and movements you would need to catch a fly, throw a ball or field a grounder.

The coach would toss up an invisible ball with an actual bat. We as a team would simultaneously watch this invisible ball soar into left field and get “caught” then “thrown” to the shortstop who then “throws” it to the second baseman then over to the third baseman and home to the catcher. The catcher then flips that invisible ball back to the coach and we do it all over again.

Because there isn’t a ball, the players could have very much gone through the motions of this warm-up. But we stretched it to its limits. We all watched and reacted to this non-existent ball at nearly the same time and tossed it around with the precise timing professional ballplayers would. We dove for this ball like it were glass and would have shattered if it hit the turf. We scooped “low throws,” leaped for “errant throws.” We would pick on one of our teammates, Joe, to throw the ball away. We watched as it soared over the third baseman’s head and we’d yell, “Come on Joe!” Then the third baseman would run over beyond where his position was to go get that that invisible ball.

It was like improvised dance, that was also somehow completely choreographed. It was the most in-sync a baseball team could be. Sometimes, if were feeling extra cocky the catcher would pretend that the coach whiffed and the ball landed at his feet. The catcher would pick up the ball and hand it to the coach and say, “try again, coach.” And is if to anticipate this feigned frustration whoever was supposed to field the ball next acted as if that ball was hit hard, either over the outfielder’s head or a speedy grounder to an infielder.

It helped us with our mechanics. We had to make our body still do the thing to field or throw the ball. It helped us with our communication. We had to, as a team, yell where that invisible ball was going next. It loosened up our demeanor and remind us that baseball is a game and that this game is so much fun.

I coached high school baseball for 7 years and employed this warm-up to my team. There isn’t a more beautiful thing to watch than 15 teenagers all stare up at the sky at a pretend baseball.

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Mairéad.

Originally I considered writing this as a funny account. How the devastation of Hurricane Harvey was an opening for me to start talking to my eventual fiancee. How part of the appealing part of talking to her was her family’s connection to Worcester even before I got to know her. How part of the reason I texted her was because she commented “oof,” on a status I wrote that read, “Alone at work and I just said out loud: I’m trying my best. So things are looking up for me.”

Ultimately as funny and fun our relationship has been, a truly funny essay wouldn’t do us justice. The amount of times we were saying that we missed each other despite never really being face to face at a comedy show is laughable, but our feelings are more real than any hack joke I’ve said on stage.  

I had been aware of Mairéad since 2010. I did stand up at Clark University for Wisecracks Comedy Club to help promote comedy in the city. This sketch and improv group, Shenanigans opened for us. Mairéad performed. I hosted the event and as the show progressed one article of clothing was no longer on my body. By the end, I was just in my boxers. It was a dumb trick but I was bored with hosting and I am a giant attention whore.

Mairéad doesn’t believe me but I said to Nick Chambers that I wanted to talk to her that night, but I thought she was too young.

Then this summer the nearly 4 year relationship that I was in, with Kathryn, ended. It ended up being mutual, but at first I was devastated. I was so convinced I knew what we had and what we wanted and that despite some glaring red flags this was as good as it was going to get. Ultimately, she was right to end it. We weren’t actually happy, we were just really comfortable. We both deserved more than what we were giving each other. It was a harsh reality to come by but I know I have, and I’d like to think she has too.

During some of this break up, I did not have a place to stay. Will Smalley, Nick, my brother Mookie and plenty of others including my parents let me crash on their couches. I was living out of a gym bag. I walked and killed time for hours on end, because I had nowhere to be.

Days after the break up and in my deepest of doldrums, Mairéad messaged me. I had liked an Instagram photo, she then reached out and asked me about stage time in Boston and Worcester. “I thought you’d never ask!”

She told me she was going to be at Ralph’s that night and I asked if I could join. I did go to Ralph’s but I didn’t really talk much. I was too sad and clearly not ready to be flirtatious or learn more about someone. They were showing George A. Romero’s Creepshow and specifically when she came up to talk to me we were about to watch one of my favorite parts, involving thousands of cockroaches. We had a little back and forth about it and then she and her friends decided to leave.

I was kicking myself for not talking to her more. I was hooked. There was something about standing in the humid Worcester air, under Ralph’s neon lights and the glow of an outdoor movie and the subtle touch of her shoulder to mine. I played it real cool with her, despite all of my sweat.

We continued to message that night, she told me about being at Café Neo (the 7 day a week karaoke bar) and the free buffet that was there. We talked the next day and then the next day as well when she won a comedy competition. While she was at that competition, she and I were going back and forth about stand up, comedy crowds, and open mikers. It was refreshing conversation was about something I love and not about my past. Then she left for Houston and I continued my life surfing couches.

I had moved to Boston in September and was definitely feeling safe and comfortable but lonely. After a whirlwind of moving and deciding and purging my belongings, I was noticing how bad the damage in Houston was. I also happened to notice Mairéad had made fun of that particularly sad status I revealed earlier.

I figured I should text my new friend from Houston and make sure everything was okay. Luckily she was doing some shows in Austin and was able to have an extended stay there while it rained forever in Houston’s sprawl.

We both quickly realized that we were feeling our own versions of lonely and depressed and quickly started to divulge every feeling and concern we had. The parallel of our emotions, at first seeping into each other’s lives and eventually bursting and flooding into our everyday conversation was of course anything but damaging as it was in her hometown, but uncanny nonetheless. We had this immediate connection of not wanting to keep any of our feelings away from the other person. We told it how it really was, warts and all. Of course, there were also jokes and bits on bits on bits. We would just keep tagging each other’s joke until there was nothing left to say except fish for more details about each other’s mental state.

The beauty of our relationship early on was there was no tension, no pressure to see each other. There was no need for each other, no desire for sex. We talked for the sake of learning about each other. Each day was like an 18-hour date wherein we couldn’t hold each other’s hands, notice the freckles in our eyes, or stare at what attracted us most. Sure, there was Instagram, Facebook for stalking purposes but those were just pictures, and our millions of words, thoughts, and values were worth more than the thousand you get from one snapshot. In addition, at this point, I had no intention of dating anyone let alone be in a relationship with someone. She had made it very clear that commitment in general feels like a prison, so much so that she had received a tattoo on her ring finger of the universal symbol for women. In each of our eyes this was safe and still intimate.

One night when we were both out she texted me that we should visit each other. Of course, this was something I had thought about but didn’t know how to mention it. And there she was sending a picture of herself in the mirror saying, “This is my most fulfilling relationship right now!”

I leaked. It is a term I am using a lot now. It is better than explaining you’re crying, or that you’re emotional. The term spouted from Bryan O’Donnell who noticed, that for the most part I handled the break up very well, but my emotions could sometimes get the best of me. Where I would begin to tear up, for example, while watching WWE wrestlers enter the arena. “They’re just so passionate,” I would sob, as Bryan would giggle at me.

Shortly after the decision to see each other’s face, we started to say, “I love you.” She, of course, initiated that as well. She was asking why I hadn’t bought my ticket yet and she said, “Is it because I freaked you out by telling you I’m in love with you and obsessed with you?” I was wary of telling her I felt the same because of how soon I was out of the previous relationship. I said it directly to her for the first time on the phone the next day.

There was a day early on in those I love yous where we decided we already knew each other better than some of our friends, but if we were truly serious, we needed to dig deeper. This is the day I knew that this was more than love. That what we had was special and different. That the intensity and rapidness of our relationship is worth the frustration of distance. We laid it all out on the table; every flaw said we had whether we found them true or not. The release and reception of that information was so intimate that I felt as though she was sitting next to me.

The days moved so slowly after those plane tickets were bought. Mairéad was getting these pressure headaches and I was feeling immense pressure in my chest. It was only after a wrinkle in our romance and a poem written by me, (it is not worth printing, and just let me just assure you it helped the both of us), that we were able to alleviate the mounting heaviness that was coming with our relationship.

Sure, our relationship up until this point was completely not in person. Sure, there were moments throughout our conversations where we would ask the other if we were catfishing the other because it seemed too good to be true. Sure, the moment we could see each other in person and all of the things that we built up about each other leading to our meeting at Logan Airport could disintegrate on our lips as we kiss for the first time.

She flew in on a Wednesday, landing in Boston shortly after noon. I was waiting for her at the arrivals area in Gate A. My heart was thumping so loud I could feel it in my ears and I was having trouble keeping balance. As I stood out in front of the automatic doors, I watched as people met up and decided how to get to their hotel. I saw two former college roommates embrace and hold each other close in nostalgic elation. Waiting, it felt like every other woman walking out from the terminals was blonde. I kept thinking Mairéad was the next person walking out.

Then, there she was. Confidently, like the beautiful, headstrong, elegant person I fell in love with on the phone, she walked right up to me and we kissed for the very first time. Strangers around us must have thought that she had just got back from a long bit of traveling. Little did they know that we had both been on that same trip.

The next few days were great. We were on shows, we ate good food, and we walked all over Boston and laughed our asses off. On Monday we went to Worcester for an open mic where the crowd was real weird yet we had a blast.. We decided to run over to Ralph’s where it all began just 5 months before. As we sat there at the bar we relived when we were both there in July under the neon and kitschy movie scores. Then we talked about how poorly this visit could have gone. How some of the ideas we thought we had of each other might have been true. How maybe my joke about being “the fart machine” could actually be true and I would just be like Pigpen from Peanuts in a cloud of my own filth. Then she started to sob. I had never seen her cry before. I could see her struggling to say something.

“I can see myself doing stuff with you. Stuff that wouldn’t be fun with anyone else.”

“Like what?” I said.

“Like getting married and having babies.” She went on to tell me about her brother’s marriage and how they had given her an example of what it’s like to be happily married and then she met me.

“Me too.” I said. “I didn’t want to say it but when you were sending me those pictures of Zenita, I was thinking ‘that could be us.’”

Then she stopped sobbing

“Let’s get married. Can we get married? We should get married.”

Of course I said yes and we both cried and kissed, sitting at the Ralph’s Diner bar as The Damned played in the background. We then ordered two celebratory hot dogs cried some more then drove back to Boston. It couldn’t and shouldn’t have happened in any other way.

That week we went to an antique store in Jamaica Plain called Cobwebs, owned and managed by an adorable and knowledgeable older gay couple that they have been together for almost 35 years. We purchased the second ring we looked at. Like everything else in our relationship we knew that this was right. A 1920s era Art Deco ring with emerald and diamond. As the excitement was mounting with the purchase becoming more real an older woman standing next to us spoke up. “But will you make it to 64 years in March?” “I’ll take that as a challenge,” I replied. As if she didn’t hear me she responded, “Marriage is hard, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. This generation isn’t willing to put in the work. They won’t make it.”

We laughed and kissed and walked around Jamaica Pond reveling in our love, soaking in our commitment to each other and laughing at the fact that the ring covers up her tattoo for when she was convinced she’d only marry herself. I didn’t think of it at the time but Jamaica Pond is a part of Boston’s Emerald Necklace Conservatory. Emerald: Mairéad’s birthstone, in her engagement ring and under our feet.
The two weeks post our engagement I have received a barrage of messages, texts and phone calls. Most of them, support. Some of them were critique and skepticism and a few were downright mean. Before we even made it completely public we discussed, like we have always done, how we feel about it, how others will see it and how we can best respond to reactions. If I didn’t know already that I should have said yes, this completely sealed the deal. That while simultaneously soaking in our total love and admiration for each other we could also stay level-headed and logical about the real world response to our seemingly wonderful fantasy blew me out of the water.


Shortly after our engagement Mairéad had the brilliant idea of milking it. We agreed at how funny it would to keep getting engaged over and over again each night we went out to go eat and see what we could get for free. In the end though, we decided we couldn’t go through with it. That it was better as a premise. We already had to commit to something much more important than some dumb bit.

Stanley

Dog walking, especially with Stanley, is therapeutic. He has so many quirks. His anxiety is a jack in the box. Most of the time you are just playing with him and you’re not really aware of what’s going to make him pop, until suddenly he does. By pop, like you would think with a dog, he doesn’t bite or bark or act aggressive by any means. He runs or cowers or hides. Flight not fight with this one.

His ears are two antennas that are simultaneously constantly aware of his surroundings and let you know whether something is bothering him or not. He never walks, his gait is elegant. If it weren’t for his nails, you would never hear his steps. All four paws a strident and pillowy movement forward, backward and side to side.

For an animal that ill look to hide or curl up when someone stands, Stanley also wishes to make his existence known on every bush, tree, garbage bag, light post, leaf pile, corner of a building or anything else he smells and thinks he should be apart of. As soon as we walk out of the house he will pee his normal pee. But somewhere in that 21 lb. body he keeps some back up urine for his new claims.

Sometimes it’s a real long sniff, as though he is trying to smell the last decade in that exact spot. That if he could talk it would be like Antiques Roadshow and he could tell me the history of that smell and that spot on the street. There are other times where it is a quick sniff, a lift of the leg and then we keep on moving. Other instances have him almost doing a drive by pee. Wherein he hops and drip-drops and then runs ahead almost as if he’s embarrassed of the decision he just made. Especially at the end of the walk, its all kabuki theatre. He is just doing it because he thinks he should do it. Habit.

When you get home he dances. It’s true. His hind legs are so strong that he’s able to stand. To keep balance he hops. His front paws are out like a bikini clad coed from a Surf movie in the 60s doing the twist and he just stares at you with these big sad eyes. What he wants is for you to pick him up and hold him like a little baby. Sometimes though it is just fun to grab his paws and dance with him like a flower girl at a wedding. He’s so agreeable that he lets it happen and hops around and we have fun.

I would like to acknowledge now, that I am 100% allergic to him. The fondness I have for him despite how clamped my head feels and how clogged my nose and sinuses are is uncanny. His hair is everywhere: on my sweaters, furniture, sheets, towels, shoes quite literally everywhere. As the mucus builds, though, my love for him builds too. I feel the worst (physically) and the best (emotionally)  when we are cuddling. He insists to sit in the same chair as me. Lots of times he’s just curled up next me, but then other times he lays on top, or rests his head, or gets on his back to expose his belly for some rubs. The closer we snuggle, the more I love him, the more I sneeze and need to blow my nose.

I’ve mentioned his eyes. Mairead, calls them “big doe eyes.”, like a deer. I know dogs can’t cry but when he looks at you it seems as though he’s just watched the scene when Renee Zellwegger tells Jerry Maguire that he had her at hello. They are these misty, brown orbs that I’m convinced have special magnets in them for only your eyes. When you make eye contact with Stanley you know how he’s feeling. You empathize with his anxiety, you notice he just wants your attention and care. You want to give him the world, but you know that by doing so he’ll just be so stressed out.

Stanley has already taught me a lot and I only just met him in mid-December. He lets me get out of my head. I have learned to calm down, because if I am calm, then he is calm. He has taught me that routine can be important. You don’t need to be mundane, but sometimes having to do things out of necessity can be good for your temperament.

The whole experience has been therapeutic. Stanley is good for me, and I hope that in some odd canine way he thinks I’m good for him too. Mairead was so smart to bring him up to Boston early. He needs that extra tender love and care. The best part about him though is that he brings it out in you. Just him existing make you do it and that’s why I’m so thankful for him.

One Year.

The last time I blogged here I posted a dumb referential short story about sci-fi characters in the realm of Goldilocks and the 3 Bears. It was in March. I had just turned 30 and felt like things were alright, our government not considered.

A lot has changed since then. But that isn’t why I have decided to write again. I miss it, writing passionately about things that excite me. I was talking to someone recently about my outlook, and I determined it boils down to “stuffing.” I need to keep taking things in and using them for other things. I’m not content at knowing something I am content knowing everything about that something which will then bring me to something else.

Its why I can spit facts at you about Worcester, or every lineup of the New York Mets since 1990, or almost every mascot in the NCAA or recite whole chapters of Bob Dylan’s memoir.

In the last year since moving out of Worcester my brother defeated cancer, my relationship ended and Boston comedy lost a great friend.

I wanted to make note of somethings that stick with me daily, things I want to write about but still can’t figure the right way to execute:

  • Bane’s last show was over a year ago and from time to time I feel nostalgia for the nostalgia. I watched the show from balcony in the not yet redone Palladium and my heart raced just as hard as it did when I was 14 and saw them at a VFW. The impact those guys had on me is heavier than they intended and I think a lot of people feel that sentiment. They were important to me and I am grateful to have been there that night.
  • I witnessed a lot of friends and family members get married. And while I’m not hung up on the whole marriage thing, I am impressed and the shared experience of love. People from all walks of life sitting in dresses and suits to eat and dance and clap for your loved ones is a pretty special thing.
  • Nick O’Connor was a great man. He was a funny and irreverent comedian. He was a talented and eloquent person. He loved and and he thought and he cared. He told us to drink more water and to not go to his show. He brought you donuts, he’d lend you cigarettes and he always gave you a hug. His excitement and bravado that is no longer here is much noticed. I love you Nick.
  • The Houston Astros are one of the most fun teams to watch in baseball. Jose Altuve is a treasure and should be treated like one the best of all time not as one the best of all time who also is 5’7″.
  • I have visited Wilmington, NC and Kansas City, MO this past year. They are both great cities in their own respective ways. I do not want to get into the troubling politics of either of these two states because it is irrelevant to what I want to say about them:
    • Wilmington is truly a pirate town, with very few actually from Wilmington living there. The comedians in that town are for the most part welcoming and caring and hilarious. It is also home to one of the most fun comedy rooms that I’ve experienced. I don’t know if the Wilmington comics are aware of how special Dead Crow Comedy is, but even an open mic feels electric.
    • Kansas City, MO is known for their BBQ and their fountains and I definitely experienced those. The BBQ is the best, sorry NC they win. The comics all work hard despite its tiny scene. Aaron Naylor is a treasure and while that city reveres him, he needs to get the hell out so he can share that KC charm with the world.
  • I, along with the help of Bryan O’Donnell, put on a week’s worth of comedy shows in Worcester. It was called WOOtenanny and considering everything I believe it was a success. Over 350 people came in and out of the doors during the week to witness some of the funniest people in the area. I’ve already gushed about great Worcester is for arts and comedy on social media. I will use the Field of Dreams mantra, “If you build it, they will come,” Worcester definitely came out all I did was build the damn thing. Great job dudes.
  • Finally I just feel healthier as a person. Emotionally, physically and mentally. I used to wallow if the idea that I thought I was given a bad deal. I am now using those upsetting things and processing them. I am talking about how I feel and not seeking to be polite whilst sharing. I know this is like basic human health stuff, but I’m happy that I’ve finally figured it out.

I am looking forward to being more active on this, because of comedy I am still put into weird and unlikely scenarios and I can’t wait to share them with you.

For those previous said scenarios please visit my old blog: www.scornedstandingup.tumblr.com

Sci-Fi Fiction

Once upon a time there was a Blade Runner, a Yoda and a Neo. They lived happily in an Avatar on the outskirts of District 9.

One Yoda was restless and said that he and the Blade Runner and the Neo should go on a trip and visit the Jetsons.

The Blade Runner said he would but if Ridley Scott is driving it might take up to 5 hours.

The Yoda said go he would.

And Neo said he would go but only really needed to tell us in one movie and not three.

So then they booted up their Delorean and flew, because where they were going they didn’t need any roads

Meanwhile in another part of town a little E.T. was waddling through the woods following a trail of reese’s pieces and Drew Berrymore’s tears.

Suddenly he met a break in the woods and it felt like the day the earth stood still.

It was a cabin in the woods which a first didn’t seem sci fi like but then it did.

When E.T. stepped into the house he could smell porridge.

He went up to the first one and said “porridge fucking sucks.”

After that he went to the living room and there were three chairs.

He sat in the first chair and Hal said hi, but E.T. didn’t trust talking computers.

He sat in the second chair and it was actually just a monolith with a bunch of monkeys hitting it, and he said, “get your hands of it, you damn dirty ape”

Then he sat in the third chair and it felt just right, he said “I’ll be back”

E.T. started to feel tired, so he went up stairs to see if he could take a nap.

He laid in the first bed and it felt like he was lying in a forbidden planet.

He got to the second bed. On the bed it was engraved Mad Max. He laid down and it turns out it was just sand on the inside.

He laid down in the third bed and fell fast asleep.

When E.T. was asleep he dreamt of genetically engineered dinosaurs, playing in a giant dune. Oh and it was a wet dream about Leeloo from the 5th element.

While E.T. was sleep cumming a Neo, a Yoda and a Blade Runner came home. Neo said, “Oh thank god no one ate our porridge!” And Yoda said, fuck you no one likes porridge.

Then they got to the living room and the Blade Runner could sense that someone had been there because there were now 12 monkeys all around and that monolith still didn’t make any sense.

They got upstairs and they saw E.T. sleeping.  They were going to yell to wake him up, but in space no one hears you scream.

So instead they made their pussy friend Wall-E do it. They knew Wall-E would do it because he was so butt hurt over EVA.

Then E.T. wakes up and says “Home.”

Then Neo throws E.T. out the window and he flies in the sky across the moon like in that movie that E.T. was in.

Then everyone looks at Yoda and he says, “Phew that was a Close Encounter of a 3rd Kind.”

THE END

Isaiah Rashad

Chill gets thrown around a lot. Whether it be a euphemism for hooking up while The OA plays confusingly on in the background. Or a student telling a teacher to do so after they didn’t pass in their homework. Or a describer of somebody who is easy to hang out with.

Isaiah Rashad’s The Sun’s Tirade is a chill album. There are moment of this record that feel like his lyrics aren’t going to catch up to the beat. But then you realize that the beat isn’t exactly breaking your neck and he’s going to be fine. The song and his flow are reminding you to chill. Whether he is rapping about just trying to stay happy, or rapping about just trying to hook up with a girl or rapping about how chill he is he is an embodiment of practice what you preach. (That last one about talking about your chill is usually a dead give away that you’re not that. However that’s just how good he is at it. I’m so chill with him being chill and talking about it.)

Okay enough of that word I promise. Isaiah Rashad is one of the many handpicked artists out of LA that seem to be low key killing it. They may not be the biggest in the game, money wise, but their breadth and rep are definitely, like the label says, Top Dawg. Between Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock and Schoolboy Q, Isaiah has a nice cornerstone of mentors to look to. He also has the freedom to do and say what he wants and have all of those creative juices flowing nearby.

Even with all of the marijuana smoke around Rashad is a breath of fresh air. He can make a hook nonsensical like in his song “4r Da Squaw” or he can have you putting the song on repeat like “Wat’s Wrong” which also happens to feature Kendrick and Zacari. The album is all over the place, with trap beats, soul-fusion  and even some jam band type grooves. Yet it all fits.

At 25, Rashad along with many other artists of his generation are affirming that genre is a thing of the past. It is either what’s good, what’s bad and whether you tried hard enough to make that. His contemporaries are all killing it in their very different avenues and its all meshing well together. Whether it’s Kamaiyah or Frank or Lil Yachty (YEAH I SAID IT) these kids are giving us their creativity. Their hands are up in the air quite literally waving them like they just don’t care, saying its done, you tell me what you think. You tell me I’m doing well. I’m going to just keep making my shit and you can drop me a line and tell me its good, but I’m moving forward.

I like the company he keeps too. Like Zacari and Kendrick he also has SZA, Syd, Deacon Blues and Kari Faux. And unlike some tracks where it feels forced. Whether that forced is: “hey check out all of my friends,” or “hey check out who my producer knows,” or “hey Avicii made this a pop hit,” “hey I don’t know why he’s on here either,” or my personal favorite “hey Nelly said it was a good idea.”

The Sun’s Tirade isn’t a perfect album, when you’re so goddamn chill why be perfect? (apologies for word use) It is however a statement of what hopefully is to come. The issue is what will that be? What more can we ask of him? Is he going to have to make a #1 to get him to be more loved? He can’t make a Kendrick album full of social awareness and venom. So what is Isaiah going to have to do to be more than a critic’s darling? That seems to be the problem with great music. We don’t want the same thing again, but we don’t want drastic change either. We a progression. But can you progress and stay chill? If there is one person able to pull it off, Isaiah Rashad just maybe the answer.

From the Archives. (8/17/2010)

I had a previous blog. I am very proud of it. I started it to live up to the quote I was always repeating: “Making good stories, not good choices.”

Every Wednesday I will be posting older entries. This one goes back to August of 2010. I was 23 years old. I had recently moved back to Worcester from Cambridge. Previous posts on this blog were stream of consciousness messes about Oprah and what girl I was being pathetic towards.

I can still remember this being the first entry where I started to take writing and storytelling seriously. Its not my best work but it’s definitely a slice of me at this time:

Teeth.

My front tooth is missing.

Number 9 as the dentist calls it.

All I can think about is when John Lennon keeps saying “number 9” over and over again on the White Album.

After 23 surgeries, narcissism, constant belligerence, and plenty of pain; all inflicted by previous dental “professionals” I now have the my left, your right tooth out of my skull.

The fake one that was in there was slipping out of my mouth.

My jaw in the particular area didn’t have enough bone for the screw that had to be put in there to hold onto.

The guy who originally started this insane trip of tooth follies is now dead.

I’m not happy that he is dead.

But I was happy I never had to see his name anymore.

And I’m not saying that his death equals the college tuition-esque bill I had to pay, or the gun shot wound like pain I had to endure, or the proud self-assuring experiments he tried out on me, or cigar-stained fingers that went into my mouth, or the young asshole endodontist that was straight out of an “E.R.” type show (the kind of guy that had to prove he was better than everyone else because of daddy issues or some bullshit) or even just embarrassment of the absence of a tooth. What I am saying is that I hope he regret it right before his last breath.

I’ve never taken Vicodin before.

Can you tell?

I once took a bite of a sandwich with french bread and found my tooth in that meal.

I once sneezed, with my eyes wincing of course and upon opening them seeing my tooth on the ground.

I once had to walk around my college campus for 2 months and star in a play with a missing tooth because he couldn’t fix it yet and my insurance couldn’t go anywhere else.

Now I lay here.

Mouth swollen. Head clouded. Saliva bloody. Gums tender. Smile like a fucking jack o’lantern.

The surgery today was all but painless.

Half-way through my procedure the Novocaine wore off.

Because of all the previous surgeries my body is immune!

My gums were too exposed to filler up again.

So there I just had to “grin and bear it” as some trite people say.

There were people observing my surgery today.

Some company that has to to deal with my particular type of surgery.

So there were three people standing there just watching.

They weren’t just people either, they were beautiful.

Two square-jawed, fair haired, muscular build men, whose chests were so big and strong that some realtors in Manhattan could get away with calling it a studio apartment.

There was also this little blonde girl there. All dolled up.

During one of the breaks of the surgery in the haze of the blood, numbness and shock I told her that we should go out because she’s seen me at my worse.

She laughed.

Then I coughed.

Blood landed on her leopard print top.

I laughed.

She left.

I cried from the pain today.

I couldn’t tell you the last time I cried from pain.

I once cried when I badly sprained my ankle, but that was because I wasn’t going to be able to play the one game I loved.

I was literally sobbing on the car ride home, and when I brought the prescription to the pharmacy and when my mom held me.

I’m fine now.

Just another story to tell, right?