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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Memory Lane

I often get nostalgic this time of year, what with the holidays around the corner, and the Ohio high school football playoffs set to begin this weekend.

It seems not long ago that Dad was taking me to see Hiawatha Francisco lead nationally feared Cincinnati Moeller when the Crusaders came up to Cleveland to take on annual power St. Edward, led by the elusive Chris Mobley.

Pops pulled a string or two to get me into prestigious St. Ignatius High School, which I promptly chose to leave just one semester in because the hammer surely would have dropped before the end of the second one. I wanted to get that transfer back to Plan B Richmond Heights promptly certified so I could actually earn a spot on a basketball team.

But as I went through high school, and my Spartans were adding on to the nation's longest losing streak each week, Coach Chuck Kyle was building a dynasty back at Ignatius. His daughter Maureen wasn't even 10 yet, but little did I know I'd have a big crush on her upon meeting her in Louisville 14 years later.

Anyway, one of Kyle's first state championship teams was led by Joe Pickens, who I met just two months ago when this conversation went down at a bar here in New York:

Me: "Oh, you were on that team?"
Some big guy named Joe: "I was."
Me: "Hey, that quarterback from those first title teams, Joe Pickens ... I know he started out at Ohio State, then transferred to Duke. What's he up to these days?"
Some big guy named Joe: "He's at a bar on the Upper West Side, drinking a beer right now."

Anyway, if you're like me or PAE contributor Wall and you frequent the agate page and you've got excellent recall, you've probably heard of the Richmond Heightses of the great state of Ohio. Sure those big schools are impressive, but the Buckeye state has its share of cornfields and rural roads and its own Friday night lights. So without further delay, here's a re-run of one of my favorite columns that I've ever had the privilege to write:

Ohio Prep Football: Bring On The Playoffs!

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

All Growns Up

I figure if I've been in New York for almost 30 months, it makes sense to act like I actually live here.

So after jumping through many hoops, I now have a New York driver's license, and I finally just got my voter registration card last week.

Also, on the techno-modern front, I now have my first iPod and am wireless in my apartment, so I can use my laptop in even the most far-reaching corners of my luxury home. For those who haven't yet experienced the good fortune of a visit to my place, this means that I can read/send emails from either end of the sofa.

Next up: a passport (Africa is scheduled for 2009 now), and perhaps a large, flat-panel HDTV to hang on the wall. As much as I complain about my finances, especially now that I'm a city-dweller shelling out $2,100 in rent, I've quietly been saving for such a big-ticket item. And American Express, whose rewards earned me that iPod for points, not dollars, has a holiday wish list each year and huge reductions are available on select big-ticket purchases.

Anyone need a Harley?


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fey, Palin and Mom

Tina Fey and her like-minded creative lefties, in their humorous efforts to rail on the right, I think are now overdoing it to the point that Sarah Palin has become a somewhat sympathetic figure.

Fey no doubt does a great Palin impersonation, but that it's repeated as often as it is might be what's behind a recent -- albeit slight -- increase in the VP candidate's popularity. I did read about one poll after Palin's "SNL" appearance last weekend that suggested she's been a good sport about Fey and seems more likable.

Can you tell I'm paranoid?

My mom and me have been talking more politics this year than we ever have, and one thing we disagree on is whether the many months between the end of the primaries and Nov. 4 give an edge to McCain. I felt back in the spring that election day couldn't get here soon enough, that there was too much time for Karl Rove to fire up the Republican hate machine, but moms is a lot more confident.

Mom is often right about many things. I hope her confidence is accurate again here.

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Review: Comedy Night

My charming friend Meggie was kind enough to accept my invitation to see two of my friends perform stand-up at Gotham Comedy Club Thursday night.

I've seen buds Dave Balutanski and Brian Sloan perform there once before, and was looking forward to this occasion because Dave's email blast promised familar jokes and even some new shit.

Dave has a great bit where he's verbally accosted by some Chelsea passersby who accuse him loudly of being a homo. When Dave denies, one of the thugs screams, "Prove it."

I presume it's much easier to prove you do prefer the company of men, especially in Chelsea, but is there a convenient gesture to prove you're not gay to some street punks 30 feet away?

Dave gave a sarcastic flex-n-growl and had the house howling.

Brian seemed a little nervous before the show. I came to this conclusion after seeing his sweaty face and hearing him say, "Dude, I'm pretty nervous man," or something like that. I should seriously consider detective work on the side.

But Brian delivered a great real-life tale that he told using a pretty simple prop: a printed-out, several-line email from his erstwhile boss who cited a lack of professional compatibility as the reason behind her decision to fire him in recent weeks. Death by email is far from cool, but the bitch seemed to have accidentally sent it early because it ended with this: "...in Septem"

A nice surprise was when Jim Gaffigan showed up and gave a very smooth 15-minute set that drew plenty of hearty laughter. He's kind of got some Brian Regan in him in that he keeps the language clean -- he seems to enjoy observing the language as well -- and you can tell he likes to analyze the odd things people say and do while trying to pass them off as normal behavior. Like camping.

Anyway, I've been a fan of his since he was doing Rolling Rock commercials at least a decade ago, and he's now on a pretty decent TBS sitcom called "My Boys."

After all that, we ran down the street afterward and watched that excellent Red Sox comeback at Jake's Saloon.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Survey Says

A new study out Wednesday shows that CEOs prefer John McCain over Barack Obama by a rate of 4 to 1. Is that a horn that the right should want to toot these days?


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Current Nike Ad

I first saw this commercial a couple weeks ago, but saw it many times over the weekend as I sat on my firm ass and watched large quantities of football in my luxury apartment. Go Browns!

Nike has long been a leading creative force in the advertising world, and while I'm not an industry expert, I do follow it more than the average moron.

Portland, Oregon-based Wieden+Kennedy used to do Nike's ads for years, but in checking the WK Web site, I found some of their better Nike football ads from years ago, but nothing recently.

So if you have any idea who made the LT/Troy Polamalu "Fate" ad that's been playing lately, please drop me a line. I must find out who remixed Ennio Morricone's "Ecstasy of Gold" classic from "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly."


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Friday, October 10, 2008

Weekend Recap: Cincinnati/Louisville Visit

Sorry I've been MIA. I know both of you were hoping to read about my trip last week. It was my fourth trip in six weeks, so I was finally a little wiped out and I've been sick a few days now. But I'm feeling better now, thank you very much, so here are some details:

Thursday, Oct. 2 -- Landed in Dayton and once again my midsize car-rental reservation was "upgraded" to a Jeep Liberty. I felt like a sissy, but the vehicle would come in handy later.

Drove down to Cincinnati and prepped for my speech at my college alma mater, the University of Cincinnati. I spoke to about 40 people, most of them students. I began my presentation at about 6:30 p.m., and talked about what I do, new media, covering the conventions and of course my arrest at the RNC. I also showed some video clips from both conventions and took questions throughout. It lasted two hours before things broke up into a short hello period, and I was out the door a little after 9 p.m.

One thing I was pleased to have gotten off my chest was an apology nearly 15 years in the making. When I got an internship right after college, my first project required me to solicit area businesses for gift donations for a promotion we were having. I got more than I needed, so guess who's pocket the UC-UK football tickets and Lexington hotel rooms went in?

My boys and me probably would have gotten away with it if one of them would have cleaned up after throwing up in his room. He told me he threw up as our three-car caravan was pulled over on the side of Interstate 75 on a Sunday morning ... with two of our guys ... throwing up. There may have been some drinking involved.

Anyway, word got back to my unofficial UC mentor, Jon C. Hughes. And the next time I called him for advice or a request for him to put a good word in somewhere, he called me out for that. I felt terrible, and until last Thursday, hadn't seen him since. So in front of this crowd of young, impressionable minds, I came forth with a sincere apology, and he politely claimed he didn't remember it, but was thankful nonetheless.

Hughes also was the one responsible for me using my middle initial in my byline the last 15 years. When you have monosyllabic first and last names, as he and I both do, he said you're more likely to be remembered if you break up your boring name with that middle initial. Consequently, some have thought of me as arrogant, while others have called me by a variety of names: JP, John P, JPW, JP Wise, P Wise and sometimes even, just P.

Anyway, I was going to stick around and watch the VP debate with the group, but instead I had to hit The Avenue Lounge to talk logistics about my photography show the next night.

Of course after meeting with the bar's very cool owner, Richard, I met up with old dude Chad (pictured here in 2007) in Covington for a couple pops.

Friday, Oct. 3 -- I spent much of the day setting up at The Avenue. I should have taken a picture of the wall before and after. When I got there in the morning, that huge "The Pad" sign was on the brick wall. The Pad is the name of the strip club that once called The Avenue's location home years ago. It is obviously no longer a strip club.

But by mid-afternoon, I had eight 20x24 frames hanged on the wall where that sign was, and of course I had a bunch of other matted prints available for sale.

The event was a good one. Good friends showed up, the bar was crowded and I sold a fair amount of pieces. Even rifle-toting Local12 reporter and all-around nice guy Rich Jaffe attended, despite having been bitten by a raccoon just hours earlier. Rich, handy with a gun from his years of being an avid hunter, gave me a slick confirmation when I asked if he killed the raccoon, which minutes earlier had attacked the Jaffes' dog. "Oh, yeah, I killed it," he said proudly, his left hand wrapped in gauze.

Also showing up were good friends Guy and Amanda van Rooyen. While I was content to hang with friends on the outside patio, Amanda said to me, "For someone who's as people-friendly as you are, you're terrible at sales." She's right. And as a result, she's asked me to promise to let her do some marketing and planning -- perhaps some selling -- next time I have a show. Stay tuned for my upcoming holiday sales drive. Perhaps Amanda will force you to buy something.

It was also good to connect with a bunch of gals from my UC days, just a week before Homecoming. I wish I could go back this weekend, as those wacky Tri-Delts seem to have some fun stuff lined up. My hair hasn't receded too terribly and I don't have a gut, so maybe I should still think about a last-minute flight. Perhaps I could rock the shelf haircut, my soccer sweatshirt and some pegged jeans and use awful lines on Kim Roberts, among others.

Saturday, Oct. 4 -- The first half of this day sucked. I spent several hours breaking everything down, re-wrapping the framed pieces and re-packing them in the boxes. Then, I drove them over to the van Rooyens' house, where they will remain until my next show in that area. Thanks, Guy and Amanda! And thanks also to Dollar Rent-A-Car for the upgrade. That Liberty was helpful in allowing me to transport those larger boxes.

I finally checked out of my hotel and got on the road to Louisville at about 4:30 p.m. I was headed to John Boel's house to watch the OSU-Wisconsin game. I'm a Bucks guy and he's a Wisconsin native and die-hard Badgers fan.

I stopped and picked up one of those 5-liter mini kegs of Coors Light. Emphasis on the word "mini," as we killed that thing I think before the game even started.

A handful of old friends showed up, Boel grilled some brats and there was way too much beer available. Mike D. showed up with a sixer of Rhinelander for $1.99. "As soon as I walked into the store, I saw a sign for a 12-pack of Rhinelander for $3.99," said Mike D., who as long as I've known him has been adept at finding great beer bargains. When I relayed his quote to my friend Pat the next day, he said, "Why didn't he buy the whole 12-pack?" Good question.

After Boel's gathering, I rolled back to St. Matthews and met up with some friends at Brendan's, where things continued to get ugly.

Sunday, Oct. 5 -- If you're 38 and you have to play flag football early on a Sunday morning, make sure you wake enough with enough time to re-hydrate, drive to the location and stretch. I did none of these things. After rolling out of bed at 10:45 a.m., getting in the Liberty 10 minutes later and arriving for the 11 a.m. game at about 11:15 a.m., I was rushed into the starting lineup because of my combination of speed and athleticism.

But about five minutes in, something happened to my lower left back and I wasn't quite the same player. Instead of being quietly mediocre, I was a glaring non-factor. A little while after the back injury, the inside of my upper left leg -- not my groin or quad or hammy; I have no idea what muscle this was -- started to get pretty sore. And this was before my one touch of the game where I caught a pass and gained about 20 yards when I thought I'd run for about 80 actually.

OK, so I'm out of shape and that game sucked, but the rest of the day was outstanding. My boy Pat and me rolled down to the very well-known St. James Court Art Show in old Louisville, then up to Wick's for the world's best pizza and a few beers. The most gorgeous friend I have, Alli, came up to say hello for an hour or two with her girlfriend Kaci, and before I knew it, it was, well, later, and I was once again overserved.

Monday, Oct. 6 -- Drove to Dayton to fly back home and by the time I got to the airport, it was clear I was going to be sick for a few days. Traveling is great, for sure, but I'd hate to do it for a living. I'd been in airports and on airplanes more weekends than not the last 40 days, and I'd finally picked up enough germs to slow me down.

So I've spent much of this week pounding chicken soup and orange juice, and looking forward to catching up on sleep this weekend. And once I recover, you can bet your ass I'm putting the running shoes back on, because being old and out of shape sucks.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Cincinnati/Louisville Visit

Here's some late notice, but I'm going to be in Cincinnati and Louisville this weekend. I'd love to see as many of you as possible. Here's where I'll be:

+ Thursday, Oct. 2: I'll be speaking about my RNC arrest, covering a political convention, my Karl Rove run-ins and new media. This all goes down at 6 pm at the UC Center for Community Engagement, 2639 Stratford Avenue. (Click Here for more details.)

+ Friday, Oct. 3: I have a photography show at The Avenue Lounge from 6-9pm. The Avenue Lounge is located at 411 Madison Avenue in downtown Covington, Ky. And yes, this is the same location that that nasty strip club The Pad used to call home. I'll have some of my 2008 work on display, as well as some familiar pieces. Bring those checkbooks!

+ Saturday, Oct. 4: I'll be in Louisville. Hit up my cell if something good is going on.

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Memorial: Paul Newman

Maybe a couple days tardy, but here's a great piece on the late Paul Newman by Maureen Dowd.