Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Col' rocked eleven miles yesterday. I guess, in journalism, once you exceed the number "ten" in a sequence, you are to transition to numerical representation of numbers. I ran 11 miles yesterday. 11 miles will get you comfortably from American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas up to White Rock Lake. This week, I'll run 12. It was a challenge yesterday. Had to run without Kool Aid. Woke up at 5:30 and went through my typical pre-run preparation and stretching. The book had spoken of developing a self-affirmation of sorts that you're to say to yourself the second you get out of bed all the way up to your run and during your run. More on that later. But I had that going through my head during the hour leading up to it. Tried not to get too hyped up though. As they advise, you don't wanna get too up for a run or your pace is ruined and you'll wear out faster.

So many rules and every runner is different.

My pregames are pretty much like this. Contacts in. Banana. Bagel. Maybe another banana. Four ibuprofen. Two glasses of water. Stretch. Stretch back. Stretch legs. Stretch legs. Stretch legs. Stretch arms. Stretch neck. Stretch back. Stretch legs again. Put on underwear. Put on shorts. Watch TV. Relax. Self affirm. Get iPod ready. Fill up Camelbak with Gatorade/water mixture. Pack supplement gel. Pack phone. Vaseline inner thighs. Vaseline nipples. Put on shirt. Tuck in the back. Put on hat. Go out front. Stretch back and arms again. Self affirm. Stretch calves. Stretch Achilles. Shake out arms and legs. Check time. Start music. Put in headphones. Commence jog.

It's done much in the same way that a warrior prepares for battle. I quietly move from room to room breathing deeply. Now become methodical. Ritualistic. Of course, in my days, from about 6AM to 7:30 is always ritualistic. If it wasn't, I'd probably say, "What in the hell am I doing up at this hour?" And go back to bed.

Suppose you get used to it.

You have many friends in marathoning. Besides my partner who is constantly there to push me and to push. It's a symbiotic relationship. Important for a runner. Doing the run yesterday was easy after I accepted on the third mile that he ain't there and I'm just going to have to deal with it.

Other important friends are your gear. Essential in a Root Down Run is the iPod. Until a few years ago, runners didn't have many options as far as portable music except the Discman or the Walkman. Both of which were incredibly bulky and limited as far as duration of play.

The iPod Shuffle however has a good four hours of play and such a very small fame that pressing play and throwing it in the small pocket of your Camelbak is fairly easy. Also, given that you can't search for songs, it takes out the temptation to thumb through which REO Speedwagon song you want to hear next. Press play and take what it gives you. That's what the Shuffle was designed for. Also, the Shuffle is quite durable and shielded from the elements like sweat, Gatorade, stompings or dog bite. Practically indestructable. My music of choice yesterday was some old DJ Shadow radio mixes. I prefer 30-45 minute mixes for continuous musical enjoyment. I don't like the song-shuffling format. Too chaotic. I'm a long-play homie.

Also, you can't do anything more than four miles without significant hydration. In the summer, you can't do more than two. That's where the Camelbak comes in. For about thirty bones, you can sport one of these beautiful packs.

In many ways, it's kinda the fannypack of the runner's world, but because we're not camels and we need constant water, the Camelbak is a necessary piece of gear. Not only is it great for hydration, it's gotta small pocket that can carry a phone, a Shuffle and one of those nasty-ass Carb packets. Also, for your upper body, while it's not that heavy at all, it does act as resistance in your run and can strengthen shoulders over the course of a two-hour run. Don't be a moron like me and bite through the valve when you first get it. I've been dealing with a constant leak and, after my ten-miler, that leak led to wetness all over the right side of my shirt and resulted in a small case of runner's nipple where a wet garment rubbing on a sensitive area just takes layers of skin right off. Yeah, bloody nipple. Read the instructions if you wanna keep your nipples. Nothing gangsta about losing nipples on a long run.
If you're running when the sun's out, you're gonna need a hat. If you're gonna run in any temperature higher than 60 degrees, it's gonna need to breathe. I started out with my Fog Hat. It worked for shielding my balding head and huge forehead from the sun, but that's really about it.
This thing was hotter than hell and was like wearing some sort of Medieval sweating torture device. When I'd take it off, it was like someone was wrenching a sweat towel over me. I needed something different. That's when I transitioned into the less fashionable, but more functional Under Armour runner's cap. Made of a mesh, those manure-fused West Texas winds go right through my headgear however my hairless top is well-protected from the sun.

They're kinda expensive. I'd prefer they put at least a double-T on there so I could represent something other than Under Armour. Looking for a different one with less logoing on it. I don't belong to anyone. Team Root Down, baby.
Other friends of Team Root Down are less gear and more related to diet/nutrition or medical preventatives. The most important of these include the banana. As much as I've hated these for, uh, the last twenty five years, I've finally trained my body to receive them again. I needed to. The banana is a high potassium food that's fantastic before and after runs because the potassium relieves cramping and aches in the body during a run and shortly after.

I munch one a day even if it's not a run day. Also, from the fruit family, I religiously much also an apple and an orange a day. Apples are good in carbs and oranges are my cold and flu preventative. It's worked the last three winters. Another important element to Team Root Down Marathoning is ibuprofen. Other than being coated in that vomitous Longhorn-orange, these puppies are great for also relieving aches during the run. I pop four of them before heading out on the long runs and three before the medium runs. And, mostly, before bedtime, I'll take a few more because it helps me sleep well--mostly aiding with backaches.
Keep them around. I like to muscle through just about everything, but sometimes it's necessary to take a pill here or there.

On the earlier runs, because I hated the sensation of Vaseline on my body, I was using baby powder to aid in the dryness of those sensitive bathing suit areas. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about.
It worked well on the short runs, but as we went moved into six miles and up, it was no match for the incredible accumulation of sweat so I moved up to Vaseline that, not only can effectively fix squeaky doors, it can also make sure that there's no chaffing and blistering in your hot spots. Not only that, it doesn't powder up right smack in the middle of your shorts when you're running. I wear black shorts so when that white powder hits the front of them, it looks like you peed cocaine. Not a good look.
Ah, Vaseline. Proper administration of those retro-petro can prevent a number of things--most importantly of those is the debilitating chaffing that can lay you up for multiple runs depending on the severity. Not only that, it makes you walk like a duck or a penguin. Being that I'm already naturally awkward, having to explain an otherwise unexplainable waddle is not something I'd particularly like to do. Vaseline up. Hit the nipples. You don't wanna end up being some weird nipple-less alien creature who eats poodles. Vaseline is your friend. Holla.
In my reading, there's much talk about the mental aspect of running. I think too of the spiritual aspect of running. There's a lot at work when you're forcing your body to accept, now, two consecutive hours of exertion. It's mental, spiritual and definitely physical. If one's not working, there's an imbalance and it could be detrimental.
Firstly, you're trying to maintain your pace, your rhythm, your step. You're trying not to think. Trying not to get too hyped up.
Breathe. Keep your head level. Stay on your heels. Keep breathing. Why is my belly cramping. Keep breathing. In and out. In and out. Stay loose. Stay on your heels. Head up. Back straight. Don't lean forward. When you lean forward, you're running on your toes. Stay back. Upright. Arms at your side angled down and don't clinch those fists, dude. Your shoulders will start hurting. Head level. Breathe, homie. Keep breathing. Look both ways. Proceed. Why does my ankle hurt? Don't think about the ankle. Belly cramp is still there. Breathe it away. Stay loose. In and out. In. Out. In. Out. Great, a dog with no leash. Look both ways. Wonder what our pace is.
As you proceed into the run, many of these instructions habitualize and are no longer thought. They're just done.
Breathe. Back straight. Head level. Stay on your heels.
The pains go away. The cramping reduces. Traffic is traffic. You look for it, but you're not terribly alarmed by it. Dogs? Hell, you don't notice them until they're running right next to you like one did to me the other day. I didn't even notice that I was listening to a radio interview the other day on my iPod for close to ten minutes because I was zoning and my body had relaxed into a pace and a comfortable position. The pace becomes less an issue than just making it. When you don't think of pace, I've found, you actually hit your best pace. You force it once you start to think of it.
Breathe. Back straight. Head level. Stay on your heels.
The other day, I did ten miles at a 10:19 pace. Yesterday, I did 11 miles at a 10:48 pace. More hills mainly. I think my true pace is somewhere in the middle, but am not going to obsess about it.
There's also the emphasis put on visualization in the book. That a simple loop that you can play back in your head might make all the difference in the world. They say it can be a "greatest hits" loop of a sampling from each of your best runs. Like what the weather was like, what it felt like, where you were, who you were running with. The smells, the sights. Or maybe a visualization of what it will be like finishing the marathon. Who will be there to greet you. What you'll say to them. What they'll say to you. How good you'll feel. I got the visualization of ending the race and hugging my lovely wife. That's a great one. Not quite as good, but more entertaining is the visualization that I'm running away from an army of zombies. I know, it sounds stupid, but when you're crawling up that hill, I like to visualize that there's about fifty zombies behind me ready to tear my arms off.
It's actually how I arrived at my next music project: "Music to Flee a Zombie Invasion By." I see it as a two-hour dash from thousands of zombies. Not the Night of the Living Dead variety, but the Dawn of the Dead remake variety where all of them run and hurdle like Carl Lewis. Just wait. This is gonna be ill.
Oh yeah. The affirmation. It's a little Stuart Smalley, but I get it. I'm following the book's instructions. I don't know any better. So it goes like this:
I'm a marathoner. I'll run on any day at any time in any weather. I don't ache. I don't tire. I don't get frustrated. While I wasn't born to do this, I can train my body to do anything and nothing can hold me back. With God on my side and hell on my heels, I'm running my happy-ass 26.22 miles in December.
Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat. Going to Juarez this week to build a home. Pretty sure I won't be running down there. Will need to find a way to knock out a 12-miler this week. Shirts should be in this week. Demand seems to be extended past supplies. The early responders to my solicitations will get their shirts. First come first serve. I'll be reaching out for addresses once I get them back from the Austin area.
New shoes come in this week too. Word 'em up.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Back to the vacation because, if you'll recall, we ended in Maine and that was only the first full day of our seven day vacation. Woke up on Monday morning to a nice overcast, but not enough to dissuade me from taking my measley three-mile jog as required. I took a route through the Back Bay that led me across the Charles River over to MIT and back. Now, I'm fairly certain that NYC never sleeps, but Boston does. At the hour I was up that morning, it was a dormant and peaceful city. I even beat birds out of bed. It was a rare feeling of serenity (note the first use of the word serenity on The Root Down). I was jogging in my clunky old New Balances as I deliberately only packed one pair of shoes to cut down on luggage. The 574's were not the perfect choice, but they're a nice cross-functional shoe. Heavy on jogs, though.
It was the day after a loss to the Yankees. In fact, the Spanks took two of the three games while in town. A huge setback for the Sox who desperately needed slow down the second half tear the Yankees were enjoying. Giving up two of three at home...probably not gonna do it. Of course, when anyone from the Central Division comes to town, there's a feeling of optimism and resilience because, well, we're gonna whoop their ass. Nothing says rebound like the Chicago White Sox and their batting practice-quality starting pitching. Good thing we didn't have to face Buerhle in this series. We spent the better part of the day just walking the streets of Boston. We went through the Back Bay near the commons. Checked out some of the old beautiful churches. I hit a few stores...namely City Sports...and looked at some running shoes. Talked to some statues.

At lunch, we took the train to Harvard and visited Bartley's Burger Cottage just across the street from campus. It was cramped for space, but well worth it. Some kid kept looking over his mother's shoulder and throwing fries at me...some with ketchup. My lovely wife, probably the pickiest of eaters, was in trouble. Think she jumped out and got a burger with cheese and lettuce and maybe bacon. I can't recall.
As for myself? Easy. The American Idol which had bacon, cheese, grilled mushrooms, grilled onions. Yep. Mushrooms. Finally have trained my taste to accept mushrooms.

Something very weird in the city. I'm from places with parking lots. Restaurants with tons of space, big booths, large bathrooms with stalls you can do cartwheels in. Texas has tons of real estate. In some eateries in the Northeast, you don't get your own table. You sit on a long bench next to someone you don't know. It's like a cafeteria. It was a little bizarre at first because, well, I grew up in a place where you got your own table. A little privacy. Here, there's a kid next to you throwing crap at you. Strange. I could get used to it, but it was a little strange.

Boston is largely considered one of the most academic cities in America. It has Harvard, MIT, Boston College, Boston University, Berklee School of Music, Tufts University, Boston Conservatory, UMass, New England Conservatory of Music, Art Institute of Boston, Massachusetts College of Art, Emerson College, Suffolk University, Northeastern University, Newbury College, Cambridge College and a host of others. Just worth noting.

After lunch, we headed downtown to check out Mike's Pastry for a cannoli which my wife described something like a donut or some sort of fried bread that's stuffed with a filling of a sweetened cream cheese variety er something. Whatever. Let's do it. Then we'd go check out the North End. Mother Nature had other plans. The second we started devouring our cannolis, it began to pour. Great...on game day. No reason to worry, except that I purchased these tickets in February, have had them secretly tucked away in a book on a shelf somewhere in our house. I picked a date on the calendar some seven months prior of a game we were to attend, got the best tickets for that game which, at least on the seating chart, appeared to be decent tickets and now it's raining. Not only is it raining, it's coming down "hah-dah" than many of the locals have seen in recently. Awesome.
Not to be deterred, my lovely wife made the most out of it by enjoying a nice beverage--some interesting orange drink...a carbonated drink...that she drank with a straw out of a can. It wasn't Crush though. Something Italian.
The cannolis were pretty good. I opted for chocolate. I kinda reminded me of the chocolate pies I used to enjoy as a young boy. You know, the kind you could get at 7-11. They were wrapped in some sort of waxy paper and it was just like biting into a chocolate pudding pie. Kinda cold. Had to do it though. It was then I started thinking that next year, one of my New Years' resolutions would be to never turn down eating a new food for a year. Not that I would never turn down food and balloon to a whopping 300 pounds. No, I would never say no to a food I've never had before.

While we were in the area, we decided to hit up the North End to catch some hot bocci action at the bocci courts on the waterfront. Unfortunately, Mother Nature beat us there.
Guess what we play in our turd-infested backyard is not really "bocci." That's the West Texas-backyard version. It's typically played on a fine gravel court. Not grass. Not sure if I could make the adjustment to gravel. I rely on the grass and turds to slow my balls down. Er. Uh.

A check of the watch suggested it was time to head back to the Back Bay as batting practice and pre-game festivities were underway. We headed back to our swanky hotel and I threw on my traditional game garb--my red Youkilis shirt--and we headed down to Yawkey Way.

I love it down there. For a guy from Texas, the experience of Yawkey Way is unmatched. In Texas, we tailgate which largely works for football, but not really for a paced and sometimes excrutiatingly slow game like baseball. This is like one big tailgate. Even sweaty Jim Rice showed.
You know, for a Hall of Famer, dude's got an unusual glisten. Someone throw Jimmy a towel. We made our way down into the park. We follow the signs on the concourse and I was partly using my internal navigational skills. I knew we were close to home plate. We dodged through crowds on our way to our ramp. As we walked up the ramp, we were greeted by the ominous frame of the Green Monster. The Fenway experience is a claustrophobic one. With it's Green Monster, tightly seating and humble street-level disposition still makes it one of the few stadiums that doesn't share any of the characteristics of the supersized turf shopping malls that now dominate the landscape. Like Wrigley, I'm sure, the first time you see the field is when it hits you how completely badass some of these old stadiums are. It's unapologetically uncomfortable, cramped, dirty and has no parking but it's Fenway. You just deal with it. This is what I saw when we came up the ramp. There's nothing like it. The smell of freshly cut grass, hot dog water, beer, a cheap musk on the dude next to you, thirty years of gum under the paralyzing seat you now squeezed your ass into. We find an usher to help us with our seat. He glances at our tickets and then says in an obvious tone, "You're right here," and points to two seat not but an arm's length away. Sure enough, we were right there.
Early bird gets those Stephen King seats. These were Ben Affleck in the Good Will Hunting-days seats. You gotta get up early to get these seats, kid. It ain't about cheddah, homie. It's about a good alarm clock. I got in my seat, my lovely wife went to get some beers (she offered, really) and I readied my lineups and freshened up on my scoring to make sure I could hang during the game.

Tonight we'd be taking in Buchholz vs. Contreras of the Chicago White Sox. Nothing gets a winning streak started like bringing AL Central teams to Fenway. Although Buchholz would get shelled early, the Sawx hung on in a wild one, winning 12-8. Plenty of offense and that keeps the lovely wife happy. The ladies don't like pitching matchups. They like homeruns. I love the game. What can I say?

We went deep in the bullpen bringing Saito, Ramirez, Okajima (who had his own cheering section), Bard (who fired about six pitches at 100 mph) and Papelbon who I think my lovely wife fell in love with from this vantage point. Dude, how hard up are you to make a poster for a middle relief pitcher? This hawd.

Wait. Did you catch the gasface?


A few beers, a Lowell homerun and three hits from Pedroia later, we were leaving with a win. This is always a welcome sight in Fenway.

Fast forward to tonight, we're getting our ass-ends handed to us by the Blue Jays as we trying to painstakenly reduce our magic number for the wild card from two to zero. After getting swept by the Yankees over the weekend and then having to watch them yesterday clinch the division in front of us, you'd think that we'd have enough fire in us to punch our tickets to the playoffs. This team acts like they don't want it. Better find some sort of inspiration because likely we'll be playing the Angels first round. That won't be pretty.

The next morning, we headed to South Station to catch a southbound Amtrak train to Manhattan. Plains, trains and automobiles, kid. And a ferry too. More on that later.

Listening to Showbiz and AG. And you're not. That's when y'lost.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Living in the Panhandle where, let's face it, football is king and no one likes the local teams, it's important to be armed with the ability to differentiate between purely a fan and then those who actually graduated from their institution of higher learning of choice. In Texas, the University of Texas is often the default choice for collegiate sports. I mean, dudes that didn't even graduate from high school are throwing horns like wassup now and, as many of you have heard me complain about before, you can't just pick a college to root for. There's two ways to become a fan of a specific college or university. You can root for a college/university if you attend, have attended or work for that institution of higher learning. You can also root for a university if you are from the same municipality that shares the university. Now, while I went to Texas Tech, if I did not, I could still be a fan because I was born and raised in Lubbock. However, I cannot root for, say, SMU. I am only permitted to root for Texas Tech or LCU (Lubbock Christian). Now, if I'm from Lubbock but had attended, say, Arizona State, I could root for three teams: ASU, TTU and LCU, but only those three. If your city or town does not have a college or has a college with no sports, you can root for the closest college geographically. And moving to a town does not necessarily qualify you for fandom. That's where it gets especially fuzzy so we'll leave that for another lesson.

If you were born and raised in the Yellow but did not attend college, since AC does not have a sports program, you are permitted to root for only West Texas A&M in Canyon. Yeah, sure, it seems cruel, but someone's gotta root for Division II schools. They'd probably have a helluva football program by now if everyone in the Yellow backed them and came out to the games, contributed to the booster programs. You wanna root for University of Texas, you should've studied in high school. The man in the above, yes, with the beads and sombrero, likely did not graduate from University of Texas. In fact, his obsession with the school is likely to be so intense that he might often forget that it is, after all, a school firstly and a great football program secondly. The fandom reaches almost feverish levels. The combination of that man's stupid hat, Mardi Gras beads (no telling how he got those...likely he was dumb enough to buy them and you hope he did and didn't lose any clothing to get them), his knockoff Oakleys and that corny goatee, suggests that he didn't take a single year of college.

There's a number of consumer products targeted at those experience frenzied fandom (and not all too coincidentally those who also shop at Home Depot and watch Nascar). We'll just use University of Texas again as an example for no particular reason. Now, we know this to be a hammer, but for the diehard fan (not graduate, mind you), you can have it drenched in your favorite university's colors and logoing. Not saying that if you graduated from University of Texas, you're not likely to use one of these, but I'll say this: if your a University of Texas football fan in the Panhandle, you're probably more likely to have one of these in your toolbox. Or on your mantle.
If you have anything that inflates in your home that has University of Texas logoing, I would say it's especially likely that you're just a fan. It's one of those frivolent purchases that most graduates wouldn't spend their money on. Either because it's a moronic investment of cash and/or their busy paying off student loans.
Also in the department where you'd find inflatable items or Nerf are the foamy fingers. I've never noticed a college graduate using these at games. Scan the student section at any televised football game and look for the foamy finger. These are the types of purchases that not only scream high school dropout, but they also denote individuals who have drinking problems. Such binging leads to purchasing foamy fingers and then passing out. They can also lead to playing carney games when the fair comes to town. Hell, such binging leads to going to the fair. Also, notice the goatee. I see a theme.
The below are the cars of individuals with some decent expendable income, but not a lot of brains unfortunately. What drives someone to such levels of idiocy, I'm unsure.
Seriously. I mean, really...seriously? While we're on automobiles, anyone that subscribes to the catty and childish inverting of a rivals decal is certainly not a graduate. See also PEEING CALVIN DECALS. See also BACK WINDOW ALL-OVER DECALS.My Texas Tech Red Raiders go up against #2 UT this weekend in Austin. I don't think we have a trailer's chance in a windstorm, but gotta watch anyway. It really is much like going up against a tornado, you protect yourself, don't do anything stupid, minimize injuries and pray for the best. It's possible we could win this, but I'm not going to even try and calculate those odds. UT's just as solid as they were last year, we're less our star quarterback and wide receiver and we're in Austin this time. Worst of all, UT's got revenge on their mind.


Thursday, September 17, 2009


I'll be honest...it's been, probably 15 years since I've had my teeth cleaned. I mean, I brush, but not the kind where they use a pick to scrape your teeth and gums until you bleed so much that you're swallowing gulps of your own blood and, as a result, you go home and puke because of the blood in your belly. Haven't had that kinda cleaning in a while. Of course, my hygienist says that if I got my teeth cleaned more often, I probably wouldn't have that happen. Guess, then, it truly is the cleaning that only happens once every 15 years.


I walk in for my appointment, sign in, grab a newspaper and have a seat. I was reading the sports section. Something about Texas Tech. I hear two women talking just across from me. Probably about ten feet away. On the wall, they sit with about five or so chairs between them. One woman is clearly older than 70. A little feeble. Hunched over in her chair. She had one of those sweet grandma voices. My grandmothers are much older and, for the record, carry themselves much better--good genes. The other is a woman that's probably about mid-40s. In their exchange as I was walking in, the younger of the two women has told the other that she busses kids for a living. It leads into one of those weird elderly monologues which constantly just boarders on bitchery. Just complaining.

"This country has just gone downhill," comments the older woman. "It's just not the way it used to be. Life was so simple." She continues to talk about computers like they're an epidemic, how rowdy kids are these days and how you can't trust anyone. I check out temporarily and go back to reading. Just an old woman complaining about something. "That older generation is dying off. People like me."

Just moments later, I perk my ears up to hear here remarking something relating to "they're just so uncontrollable" and "always seem to be up to no good." I just hold the paper in front of my face and direct my ears to their conversation. She lowers her voice as if she senses me listening in. "I imagine they're just a wild on the bus."

The busdriver replies, "Well, it doesn't matter what color they are, all kids are pretty wild these days."

The older woman stands up and moves to the seat next to the busdriver. "I tell you, though, you know why they're so wild, it's because they came from Africa."

Serious. I'm not kidding.

She continues, "Of course, I remember back when it was much different for them. People used to call them (she then buries her voice) 'niggers' you know."

I sat motionless, startled.

She continues, "I always hated that word and never called them that. Except when I thought they deserved it. You know, like when they were acting like one."

Awesome stuff.

At that point, I was about to stand up, walk over to her and kick her chair or something. I didn't look at the busdriver, but she made no reply. I imagine she was a struck as I was. About three seconds later, a woman appeared to the left of me ready to take me back to the row of dentistry chairs in the back. I stood up, glared at her and cleared my throat in her direction and proceeded back into the office.

I guess when she talks about the simpler times, she's referring to when people were shameless bigots and they sprayed black kids with high-powered hoses. When presidents were white men. You know, when blacks had to use different water fountains. We forgive old people too often when they spew obvious and unmistakable hate. I think, as the younger generation, part of our social maturation means correcting the err of the older generations. You can't just say, "Okay, starting now no more bigotry." If you tolerate the hate of the older generation, you've made no progress. I'm guilty of it too. Trust me. In fact, I should've stopped this woman and said, "Stop talking, ma'am. You're about to make a really big mistake." I didn't. I just sat there purely as a witness to her racehate.

Gotta love West Texas. But let's be real. It's not just West Texas. It's not just at the dentist office. It's not just old people. And it's not just blacks and Latinos. Hate and intolerance is so thick in this country. Lucky for me, I rarely have collisions with it because the people I associate with primarily know my sensitivity to bigotry and hate. Secondly, I don't roll in public that often. I have my safe zones, but I don't particularly like being around people. For the longest time out of high school, I was a sponge for experience. I put myself in situations that made me uncomfortable so I could learn, grow. Maybe defend my point, but it grew old and exhaustive. You just can't change the world. Now I anonymously jab from The Root Down and expect to change the world through a blog that has no readership except for my closest friends and family.

Man, this coffee is dark this morning. Second morning in a row. Good thing, though. I'm so tired.

Rangers were shut out last night...again at home versus the A's. Gotta win the easy ones if you're going to make the playoffs. Sawx won again last night in the ninth innings versus the Angels. The wild card lead climbs to 6.5 games. Yankees won in the ninth as well last night. We're still 6.5 behind in the division.

I love you for who you are. Keep on rockin, son. It's Thursday.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Just watching the highlights from last night's games. Looks like Boston can't lose and the Rangers just kinda took care of themselves losing the last two to the A's in Arlington. It's not a done deal yet, but it ain't really much of a race either with a 5.5 game lead.

Man, that coffee's dark this morning. Holy cow. I can see my fingernails growing.

Ya'll kiddies are in for a treat. If you're just happenin' in, today's your lucky day, homie. Because this morning, I present THE ROOT DOWN NYC METROCARD MIX. The concept is pretty easy: create a mix that represents various subway stops around the city by select either songs about NYC and/or songs by NYC musicians from that area. There are a few exceptions.

Our subterraneous trip through the city begins in Flushing-Queens with the Last Poets' fitting tribute to the city, "New York, New York." While there, we roll near LL's "Farmer's Boulevard" and Kool G Rap's "Rikers Island" where NYC's hardest reside. Organized Konfusion sends us off on our way to Queensbridge where we enjoy Nas's (obvious) NYC anthem, "NY State of Mind" and MC Shan's equally anthemic "The Bridge." We cross over into the Bronx where not only do we hear KRS One, but Ace effin' Frehley, yes, a Bronx native. Then, into Harlem and, yes, we'll enjoy two different "Harlem River Drives." One by Eddie Palmieri and the other, the more popular of the two, Bobby Humphrey on Blue Note. Bronx and Harlem are just hawd. As little as I spent in the City (and, really, I think four days is a short stay for only one city and that's NYC), we didn't get a chance to head north of Central Park so, essentially, Bronx and Harlem are sadly loosely represented by maybe some obvious picks, but you can't tell me that you were expecting Harlem's own Zhiggie. Son, you lost. Once you cross 110th Street, you're moving downtown. Manhattan, Theater District, Lower East Side, Soho, Washington Square...here's where things tend to get a little hairy. So many styles, so many artists (or so many "artists"), so many freaks. Manhattan's a bustling, non-stop madhouse. It's streets are a series of veins and arteries that pump life in and out of the boroughs. You'll enjoy the beauty of summer in Central Park and autumn in Washington Square. You'll even get your freak on as you meet some of Manhattan's finest druggies, prostitutes and transvestites...a notable one named "Holly."

Get serenaded by a bum who calls himself "Ol' Dirty Bastard" doing Sugarhill Gang. Definitively New York. One exception to the qualifying elements of the mix is my new favorite saxophonist Albert Ayler. He's not from lower Manhattan. He's not even from NYC. But at the young age of 34, he boarded the Liberty Ferry which services the Statue of Liberty and as it departed from Battery Park, he jumped into the cold November waters to his death. His fiery "New Generation" and his blazing vocal approach will absolutely melt your face off. Considered to be one of his most horrid performances, I find it remarkable. Don't listen to jazz critics, like hip hop purists, they're always pissed off and everything sucks unless it's Louis Armstrong or Kind of Blue. Manhattan's completed by another notable death in the same waters and that is monologuist Spalding Gray who, also, jumped from a ferry departing from the tip of Manhattan--the Staten Island Ferry. His "Dear NYC" is a post-9/11 letter to the city...written only months before his suicide. We couldn't get to Staten Island because it's not serviced by subway so, sorry, no Wu. You can download my Wu mix from last year.

Hip hop might've been born in South Bronx or even Queensbridge, but it grew up in Brooklyn. Some of the finest hip hop from the 80s and early 90s came of the street corners of Brooklyn. The music of Brooklyn is so very rich, the culture can only be cut with a chainsaw. Like elsewhere in the City, there seems to be a song about every freaking street corner. You'll hit Brighton Beach with native Herbie Mann, Flatbush, Long Island and then head back into Queens completing the loop through the city finishing with Hollis-Queens' favorite sons, Run DMC.

Thanks to George who provided some of the backbone of the mix. He'll contend there's too much hip hop and not enough spoken word. Maybe he's right. It's hard, though, to pull through NYC, the birthplace of hip hop and not have a mix that's dominant in hip hop. Plus, that's my lean. I'm a hip hop head. I got a few suggestions during and some after I had completed it of songs that needed to be included. If I included them all, this puppy would've been five hours long. It's impossible. When you're trying to perfectly represent a music mecca like NYC, you're going to have to cut corners. And that, my friend, is why we took the subway. Even though it's not prettiest or safest way through the city, it's one of the fastest and cheapest. Just get your MetroCard and it'll take you damn near anywhere. It'll take you from almost Connecticut all the way down to Coney Island. For the traveling head on a budget, this is the mix for you. Because as little as you paid for that MetroCard, it's gets you everywhere and this resulting mix is one of duration and mass. Timing in at just over two hours and forty-six minutes, it's the very longest that I've ever completed. A mammoth mix of exactly 50 songs, it'll take a while to download so be patient, but I guarantee that it'll be worth the trip.

Here's that tracklist. Don't forget your cover art, it'll stand as a nice visual for your trip through the city with all of key stops called out. Click this right here or the link below the cover art at the top.

Stand clear of the closing doors, please.



Sunday, September 13, 2009


Wake up, much like I've been doing every Saturday lately...about 6 o'clock...scarf an apple, a banana, a bowl of cereal and two mugs of coffee. Took two ibuprofen and stretched my body out for about thirty minutes. Was feeling good and needed to because today we'd be doing a new high: seven miles. Drove the route with my lovely wife the night before and just driving it made me tired. I passed out face down at about 10:15. Early for a Friday night. Early for any night, my lovely wife mentioned. Yeah, what can I say, I'm an awesome date.

I'm driving over to Kool Aid's place as that's where we agreed to start at straight-up 8. When I turn the corner, there's a fairly large woman laying in his sideyard with her hands clutching to her head and face. She's on her side, but is making the swaying movements with her shoulders and legs. I pull into the driveway and hop out quickly approaching her because, well, I'm a Boy Scout. I know how to handle mentally ill women laying in residential areas. Totally. There's a merit badge for it. First, I examine the area for any contraband, blood, medication, needles. I look closely to make sure he's not packing heat or bearing a knife that could be turned on me. I look for blood on her. No evidence of anything. I then crouch down next to her and begin speaking to her.

"Ma'am, are you in pain? Do you need help?"

I put my hand on her shoulder and see if I can stir her a little. She makes no noise, but only slight motions. There's the faint sound of some moaning and sniffling. Her body is cold, but she's not shivering. Very still. Otherwise very quiet.

"I'm going to call for help. Stay still." I stand up and look further down the block. There's a woman about six houses down in the street speaking to a man in a pickup looking down in my direction. I hold my hands out to signal to her. She begins to walk my direction hurredly.

She rushes up to me and begins whispering. "We've already called the cops. I don't know what's going on. We just saw her as we turned the corner and she was stumbling around so we called an ambulance. You think she's on drugs or something?"

"If not, she should be. When did you call her in?"

"Seven forty-five. Fifteen minutes ago."

I tell her I'm going to call again. I don't have any problem calling again to tell them to hurry. Especially when the lady is dangerously close to I-27's access road and interstate. I kept envisioning her rising to her feet and then sprinting onto the interstate. I go into Kool's house and say, "There's a lady laying in your yard. Let me borrow your phone." Kool Aid, looking at me stunned, hands over his cell phone. I fire another call into 911.

We go outside and stand over her with the other couple like wildlife dying from a gun wound. Kool Aid offers up a towel and we just sort of toss it over her. She kicks it off. I mention to Kools that she's starting to take on the manneurisms of WWE's Mankind.

She's just laying there clinging to her head. I was thinking she got popped in the head or something. Upon closer inspection, I notice that she's absolutely filthy. Her bare feet are covered in dirt and grime. She has something scribbled on her arm. Her cold skin is purplish in spots. I hear sirens nearing. Moments later, the first respondants arrive--a fire truck. AFD's finest hop out and approach her cautiously--even though a little more abruptly than I first did. They start trying to pull her arms away from her face. She tightens up and starts to shake away from them. Starting to become obvious that she doesn't want help.

"If you don't cooperate with us, we're going to call the police. Oh, nevermind, here they are."

About three squad cars arrive. The fire department describe their account. APD walks up to her and begin yelling at her. They start trying to diffuse her by grabbing her feet and her hands. She quickly pulls her foot back, raises it in the air and takes a swooping chop at one the policeman's gnads. I think she might've caught part of it because he became really agitated at this point. The struggle continues. I'm starting to wish that I had a video camera on me. It's beginning to turn into a COPS episode. By the way, I never mentioned that COPS is taping in the Yellow. Dope stuff. I'm thinking about following APD around to see if I can get on national television. Like walk by on a sidewalk as a guy's getting a sobriety test or something.

Swept the police blotter this morning. Don't have any more info the woman. Pretty decent start to the morning. I did however, find on the blotter my traffic accident from Thursday in which, while stationary in traffic, a punk teenager's Bigfoot pick up rolled back into the hood of my Civic and the trailer hitch basically put a whooping on my car. Check this out.
I was civil. Didn't whoop his ass or anything. Pretty aggravated. I just want State Farm to tell me my car's going to last 200,000 miles and they're going to fix it to the condition to make this possible. I mean, it was on pace to do so until youngblood's "transmission slipped" and put his truck on my hood. This is what we call a "bad touch."

Anyhow, they put Womankind on a gurney and took her away in an ambulance. Kools and I decided to depart on our jog--now 17 minutes late. Those minutes are precious when you're talking about morning traffic on our seven-mile route.

Incredible jog. The ibuprofen might have been the difference. The pace was good. Hit some hills. My legs got slightly cramped on about the fifth mile, but managed to jog it out. Uneventful until we got bumrushed by some animal that was part squirrel, part wolf. This thing came flying out from the side of a house. Both Kools and I were zoning and not really watching the peripherals until this object begins dashing towards us. Kools thought it was a squirrel, I thought it was a gorilla. After a few moments to think about it, I believe it was a dog. I caught a close glimpse of it and it looked like this.

The Yellow's official bird is a wandering dog. That's how many there are. I hate pet owners in this city. It appears to be just too difficult to keep a dog in your possession at all times--whether on a leash or behind a fence. I think that a city's population of wandering dogs is a direct reflection on the graduation rate of the city. That and the number of Nascar bumper stickers. Might be a correlation there.

This week, Kools and I will attempt, wait, not attempt...do eight miles. I'm taking orders on Team Root Down shirts. These are going to be the absolute illest shirts you've ever seen.

Keep your dog on a leash or behind a fence or they might catch a bad one on the chin. You don't want that.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


I've hinted about it a couple of times to a few people, but the city got me inspired to head up a mix. The concept, essentially is to start in Flushing and then travel through the City in geographical order. We'll start in Flushing/Queens, Rikers Island and then cross over into the Bronx, Harlem, Central Park, Manhattan, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Flatbush, Long Island, Coney Island.

The mix will feature everyone from Ornette Coleman to Lou Reed, JVC Force to the Fugs. I've consulted with a few New Yorkers (primarily George the Guru) on inclusions and he certainly filled in the holes (including the aforementioned Fugs' "Slum Goddess from the Lower East Side"). Found James Brown's "Down and Out in New York City" this morning. You're not ready for this one. Of course, good for you, neither am I. Busy week. This morning I got a root canal in, uh, thirty minutes, then work until eight tonight. Jog four miles after that. Tomorrow, I got two Roundhouse games after work. Friday, mow the lawn and in-laws are coming in. I'll get to it sometime.

Stay up, killa.