Thursday, May 29, 2008

Going back to Cali

As my good friend James Todd Smith III says, "I'm going back to Cali, to Cali, to Cali." No, really, I am. I'm going back to Cali, the state of my birth. That's where the dream began.

The road show is sending me to LAX for a weekend of wild basketball at the University of Southern California. Should be fun. I think. My lodging is being taken care of and I'm staying at a lovely establishment called the Vagabond Inn. That is the real name. I promise.

When time allows and when I'm not staring at the chalk line of the body on my floor, I am hoping to catch up on some music. I slapped together some music for the five-hour flight and for my stay in the Golden State.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Raleigh, my memory lane

There is something about going to Raleigh, N.C. that makes me think of my childhood.

Living in Texas, you learn one thing particularly quick about sports and that it is football that rules the reign. It is the only sport that needs to be played by the human race. That's what they'd have you believe at least.

Not at the Davis household. And that's why I have such a strong fondness of Raleigh.

One of my best friends, Shawn Davis, was born there. His family has roots in the state and his father, Chuck, was the biggest NC State basketball fan that I knew. He was the only fan I knew of the program, growing up in Dallas, Texas.

The Davis family lived down the street from us on Steppington, a perfect slice of American suburbia. Every Saturday, I'd go with Shawn and his father to the neighbor blacktop. Shawn and I would generally be regulated to last pick amongst the 30, 40 and 50-year weekend warriors. We were so much better than that though.

I don't remember the games. I don't remember the guys we played with. I don't remember how good they were. I don't remember how long we played. I don't remember the particulars. Those things don't matter to me.

Chuck didn't teach me the game. In fact, he was quite intimidating. His North Carolina accent was as distinctive as the sweet vinegar-based barbecue you can find through the Carolinas. Hearing his accent usually came through in his barks to us about how to play the game correctly.

Chuck grew up with Jim Valvano and the NC State Wolfpack. The National Championship Wolfpack of 1983 to be exact.

But what he taught me was the passion that comes with it. Chuck's passion for all things NC State infused my passion and desire to learn more about the ACC. To learn more about the Wolf Pack, North Carolina, Duke and every other team in the conference.

Our games on the neighborhood weren't great. They were excepted to be great. They were fun as hell though. Passionate games, just like the way Jimmy V wanted the games to be played – with passion.

Chuck died one surprising day in 1994. It was one of the saddest days of my life. My best friend lost his father before he could graduate high school.

It doesn't surprise me know that I'm so passionate about the beautiful game. A lot of it can be traced to my days as a young middle school kid in the Lone Star State with a Wolfpack fan on a neighborhood blacktop.

Thanks for the passion Chuck. I'll enjoy Raleigh for you this weekend. Being in Reynolds Coliseum reminds me of your sweet family. It always will.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Off to Carolina this weekend

I'm off to the lovely North Carolina Triangle this weekend for another basketball tournament. I tried to compile a nice song list that have some sort of North Carolina twist to them. Enjoy.

Friday, May 16, 2008

My American idols

In my shrinking world of media, I have had few mentors and examples. Here are two of the best.

Ron Burgandy and Tom "Damn" Brokaw. Watch out for the ninjas.