Archive for December 2009

American Idiots

In a prior post I wrote that arguably the most abused power in the world is that of celebrity. 2009 has done more than justify this claim. This effed-up year has shown me (and hopefully the masses) that investing admiration and hope (or money, in that scumbag Madoff’s case) in iconic figures will almost always lead to disappointment.

Think about it. This year, we’ve been let down by President Obama (he’s still the African American Fonzie, though) Alex Rodriguez (despite his 2009 playoff heroics, his past cheating was a sobering revelation), Chris (“Bobby”) Brown,  Jon and Kate Gosselin (assholes), Balloon Boy’s parents (see John and Kate), Michael Jackson (tragic, yes…but the “This is It” comeback tour never came fruition), office pimp David Letterman, and now Tiger Woods (thats what she said).

 

Pretty shitty in pink

 

While many celebrities do use their wealth and fame to positively change the world (Bono, Oprah, Bill Gates, Lance Armstrong, Brad Pitt, etc.), the majority of our heroes end up abandoning or abusing their unique positions of influence. Leading lives of excess can certainly be difficult, but we need all of our revered public figures to lead by example. 

With so many celebrities meeting their respective demises in 2009, it’s become harder to trust those whose actions actually warrant our attention, love, and respect. Seeing Tiger Woods hit rock bottom exemplifies how there is no line separating a famous individual’s public and private lives. In an age where TMZ is now considered a viable news source, I’m frightened. I’m scared that more of the people I look up to will turn out to be just like that fragile old man behind the curtain posing as the Wizard of Oz (he actually did fly away in a balloon). 

 

Ozzy himself

 

With the media scavenging for juicy stories, I can’t help but wonder what we’ll learn about other celebrities in 2010. What’s next? Are we going to find out that heroic US Airways pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger mistakenly landed in the Hudson River due to alcohol-induced confusion from a LaGuardia Airport Chili’s Happy Hour? Are we going to discover that Adam Lambert is actually straight?

 

You can be my wingman, anytime.

 

As we near the great ball-dropping of 2010 (ha ha), I can honestly say that nothing would surprise me anymore. If in the past, celebrities have represented who we most want to embody…maybe it’s time to rethink this position. Perhaps it’s the other way around, and our icons best embody us!  We grow up believing that our favorite athletes, actors, and leaders are flawless. While this obviously isn’t true, it’s time we start viewing these famous individuals as what they truly are- extreme examples of humanity’s natural imperfection and inadequacy. My New Year’s resolution is to shed my ignorance and do just that.

 

***Thanks to all who have supported me and this site throughout 2009. While I’m going to take a brief hiatus, I look forward to bigger and better things in 2010.

Happy Holidays and best wishes,

-Andrew 

Final Thoughts From Syracuse…For a While

I have mixed emotions writing my last ever blog post from inside the ZBT fraternity house at Syracuse University. I’ve “lived in” for the last three semesters, and can honestly say it’s been the time of my life. While posting up in this house with thirty plus friends (brothers does sound a little corny), I’ve never had a dull moment. With all of the male (and female) bonding that’s taken place within the walls of my favorite decrepit slum, I’ve come to truly appreciate everything about fraternity life and the collegiate experience as a whole. 

With no R.A, no parents, and virtually no rules, some may think it’s crazy for me to give up another potential semester of living in the house.  In the spring I’ll be studying abroad in Florence, and while I’m appreciative of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I do consider leaving Syracuse a big sacrifice. Giving up four months of college hooliganism and the lifestyle I’ve come to love isn’t easy. No matter how many grand cities and sights I visit in Europe, I can’t imagine that any will be quite like the place I’ve called home for the majority of my time at SU.

Some may call my departure bittersweet, and it is. I, however, prefer to look at it as the very definition of a tradeoff. I’m giving up something I love, even though I’m getting something rewarding in return. It’s like the time I got a new car after selling my first one (a white, two-door, 1994 BMW 325). While the saying “if it ain’t broke, why fix it?” didn’t really apply in this situation (my Beamer’s engine pretty much blew up six hours before the car was scheduled to be inspected…tear, tear) it certainly does today. Life couldn’t be better for yours truly right now, but I’m gambling that my Italian adventure will be equally unique and memorable as the time I’ve spent in my animal house.

I have full confidence that I will do the abroad experience the right way. I’ll meet new people, learn a new language, and eat the world’s finest cuisine. Still, I’m sure I’ll always be thinking about my ZBT boys, our fraternity vernacular, and our beloved chef Fred (I’ll miss his morning ritual of howling”eggs up” after tending to the grill).

Snapshot 2009-12-21 22-20-40

Myself, Fred, and fellow ZBT brother Tyler Gildin

I guess the end of this semester marks a pivotal turning point before another major turning point in my life. After my abroad experience, I’ll come back to Syracuse as a senior. Then, even more nostalgia will kick in (with a side serving of anxiety). As my fear of aging is well-documented (check out an earlier post fittingly entitled “On Aging”), it feels good to be self-reflective. Hell, I’m starting to become more and more like the Wonder Years narrator every day (the show’s grown-up protagonist was voiced by none other than Daniel Stern, AKA… Home Alone “Wet Bandit” Marv). I doubt Kevin Arnold went on to do the whole fraternity thing (thankfully the writers spared us from a Saved By The Bell- like “College Years” spin-off), but if he did, I’m sure he would have eventually shared my sentiment. After all, this whole wild chapter in my life wouldn’t have been half as fun without “a little help from my friends.”

Film Icon Daniel Stern

As I finish typing this at my fraternity room desk, I’m a little bummed that my time living here is over. Simultaneously, I’m psyched to share some of my upcoming, worldly experiences with y’all. Doing so will both help me document my travels, and allow me to maintain a routine I’ve enjoyed here on the fraternity homefront. 

More than a Game

While I wasn’t blown away by Clint Eastwood’s Invictus, it is certainly a movie worth seeing with a story worth sharing. Morgan Freeman gives an outstanding performance as Nelson Mandela (how many people can say they’ve played both God and the  former President of South Africa), and it was interesting to discover how rugby helped shape the development of an important republic in the nineties.

I’ve always been interested in the power of sport, and how competitive spirit can influence more than just those on the field or court. Invictus celebrates the transcendent nature of athletics, by showing how the South African national team’s performance in  the 1995 Rugby World Cup tangibly altered the political and social landscape of the republic, while reflecting the values of their courageous leader.

Watching this film, I was reminded of other similarly influential sports teams depicted on film (both fictional, and real). Some squads which came to mind were Cool Runnings’ Jamaican Bobsled Team, and Gordon Bombay’s U.S. Junior Olympic Hockey Team (Mighty Ducks II). I also thought about real life teams, like the 2001 New York Yankees (post- 9/11 World Series run), 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team (shocking upset over the Soviet Union), and the 2006-2007 post-Katrina New Orleans Saints. These teams, like the South African rugby unit, demonstrated that perseverance over athletic adversity can inspire others to confront the more significant conflicts and obstacles they are facing.

Recently, I’ve learned firsthand how athletics can change people’s lives. Throughout my fall semester at Syracuse University, I’ve volunteered at the local Boys & Girls Club with an organization named Move Along. This organization strives to provide recreational athletic opportunities and resources to children and adults with disabilities. My friends and I have actively participated in coaching youth wheelchair basketball, and it has been incredibly rewarding to see how this sport profoundly helps the participants and their families.

Sports can teach you valuable lessons. They can show you how to work together with others, and how to strive towards reaching your potential. Most importantly, however, they remind us that  playing or watching a game can often the best thing to do when things get too serious.

Rock and Roll: Part 2

I recently posted some YouTube concert videos from epic rock shows I wish I could’ve seen live. Tonight, I bring you some of the most memorable collaborations I was fortunate enough to actually catch in person. Enjoy.

1. Paul McCartney & Ringo Starr (Radio City Music Hall-April 2009).

2. Paul McCartney & Billy Joel (City Field-July 2009).

3. The Police, John Mayer, & Kanye West (Giants Stadium- July 2007)


4. Eddie Vedder & Ben Harper  (Radio City Music Hall, April 2009)

I’ll Remember My First Beer

My 21st birthday is on Sunday. Check out my column about this upcoming milestone in Syracuse University’s Daily Orange.

click here to view article