Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Tuesday, December 09, 2014
A New Legend (C-Rat) - Cabrini Dreaming - 4 BIG 3 in the Chi still standing J, G + P (outCry beraks ice))
And so it was on that fateful second Sunday in Chicago in the first dawn of this thing called the internet Lynx left me alone in the spoils of harbor point to attend Brett the rapists wedding on Cape Cod’s charmed coastline.
Downtown? Nothing, so I headed SOUTH because that’s where people I stopped on the street told me I’d assuredly find a game because no one it seemed had any clue as to where a basketball court was in downtown Chicago. In Grant park a cop on the horse told me they had them in the 80’s but they (yup u guessed it) attracted the wrong crowd assuring me I’d find something downtown, yeah right.
I always remember it as the Robert Taylor Homes because a sign on one of the bricks said Robert Taylor. I also remember sharing the true location with Mrs Scully when I was home in Lexington who hiccupped a hand and said, “OMG Cahl, I did my senior thesis on the Robert Taylor homes.” However after a little googling I was more confused – where I played a cool nine games in a row before the sun set (I embarked before 10AM) wasn’t a high rise anyway they were low bricks a village of them. So after technology has allowed me to reimagine / image my walk I discovered the Lawden Homes which is / was part of the Robert Taylor family of public projects.
I searched everything imaginable, Chicago projects, a history of public housing in Chicago, you tube, REDDIT, images, and it wasn’t until I searched images I saw where I was and then it was up to me based on a mere scant image from years ago to try and pin point exactly where the fuck I had been. When I saw I knew right away. After leaving that day I knew it was legendary. I couldn’t wait to tell Lynx. I wondered how many and who could find themselves in such a situation and the nickname and the fact I’d overcome easily without mitigation the fear that shackles our growth, starts wars and holds us back. I loved my afternoon as soon as it happened and catalogued to myself even after the miracle that was my high school graduation my best stories shockingly where yet to come. You a legend dawg
Seeing that one image out of an almost infinite tapestry I felt a happy sensation wash over me. I remembered the walk, no way was it CB where I played was a series of LOW bricks and there was no turning back, I was too good my wrist still worked and fuck I’d walked way too far not to cop a showcase. After all I’d walked for over 3 hours. It was indeed a “Ghandi” the kind of walk where time doesn’t exist, the kind of walk you take having never traveled before being couped up thirsty for this big bad city of Chicago still a teenager. It was a very long extremely determined walk basketball was my blood and I promised my new coach (still receiving a hefty grant) I’d get my rep’s in while pleading an almost suicidal cradle like case to allow me to go for those ten life (again) altering weeks in my own cities first cousin.
In any case I remember the angle I could see the Sears Tower looking back thinking over and over again this ain’t too bad the sears Tower is right there. But what I remember so clearly was crossing an interstate highway just saying fuck it, felt like frogger and it was pretty stupid. And from that moment the highway dividing purposefully incomes, it changed and every dribble the stark contrast of the forbidden landscape ran against the excitement I felt in my soul whenever someone inches closer to their shrine, my block out’s were on and I felt closer and closer to basketball, I was going to find a game after all.
And it was that pent up moment I saw a fire in a garbage can, fellas straight standing over it on a somewhat cold early may day made eye contact and I froze. I finally looked around, looked ever so briefly at the pressed khaki shorts my mother had ironed since my Chicago was so fresh I’d busted a fraction of the pressed gear my mother dutifully ironed and packed and thought, DOM, I’d made some very wrong moves. My sponsor Bobby “pink cuff links” was going to kill me Suddenly and well, being white of course being the greatest gift in this life when landed in this country, a cab pulled up without requisition on it’s own accord. – “hey kid, hope in, I’ll take you back to the gold coast, your lost, get in, this is a rough part of town. I’ll only charge you 5”
“Thanks, OK, your right.” After all harbor Point had an indoor court and I could go back to drilling the same solo routine I’d done for the last day and night, still reps, I guess.
And like heaven is a playground over that clear horizon I saw the back & forth SEAMLESS flow of a high action urban hoops game in a big time city, in a way it’s all I ever dreamed of as a kid. I was never hitch hiking to NYC as at fifteen for games in Harlem like former mayor of Boston ray Flynn did my father shared those stories and as a 12 year old I’d read Red Aurbach write the white kid from southie was the last cut from the Boston Celtics in what our cigar puffin patriarch described as the hardest basketball decision he ever had to make. Fuck it I told the cabbie, “nah, I’m cool.” And after double checking a good luck that was it.
The re furbished court displayed out of the few google images today afforded allows me to still imagine the old fence (cover Photo) and double mangled courts facing east and west, one for the shorties who did in fact poke me before saying “hi” before I directed / taught a game of “knockout” and after I told them I was from Brooklyn staying with my grandmother for the summer.
The poking was a memorable “trip” I laughed and of course older cats, the players adjacent is where I walked all of this way to be. The creative cat that named me c-rat who first attempted to “gank” my basketball wasn’t even that good but there were some others remembering of course this was the projects and water rises. And from there you know the rest.
The story of “c-rat” became such a legend that night, very next day and summer that I never said shit about the much further south and real location where it all went down. Why would I, traders were freaking out, I was lauded being happily well purchased relegated to simply telling my story by the corn pit that whole first wonderous summer. I was nineteen. In just one year out of high school torching the height’s of a world I dreamt about since I took my first bet on the Orange, Sugar and Cotton bowls on New Years day 1987. I was a part of the legendary “pits.” I was on top of the world.
I was so excited to tell Steve at milkshakes wedding this little known wrinkle or truth regarding one of our favorites “talks” but time went in a blink in the crowds magic. I swore 2 myself I’d tell him next time partake in class early alphabet of something, have some Vodka sharing the real minutes of my long Sunday walk, alone of my first weekend in Chicago couped up in Harbor point just days before I’d meet everyone. It was because of that story and it jumpstarted so many, many more.
Of course I’d never see Steve again – steve C – the general, my man fifty grand loved everything I ever said. I’d found not only an ally but a boss and mentor in the racist rich halls of the last bastion of Irish members only left in the highest cathedral of American capatilism.
I’d thought of my experience in Madison hills (Lexington), chase of callow “legendary” pursuits and the piles of salt to fill those holes would prepare me for anything. After all it was santo’s death along with one dinner with lynx sharing my bookmaking operation that landed me out here in the first place. However no experience no preface no lives or education rooted out from any vein could prepare a wild eyed 19 year old for 140 years of open outcry commodity trading in the fabled “pits” of Chicago at the high of volume before the dreaded death star of the internet destroyed it all.
What I knew is that Steve’s dad ran the company and Lynx’s dad knew him. I’d hear bits, pieces and in one ferocious summer would quickly hear the most insane stories I’d ever hear in any life everyone included. I’d found my way to a place that was infinnately more insane than the world of Madison Hills or mad Vegas I left behind. It would take everything I had. I was ready. It took seventeen years to acquire the confusing notion of “legend” it’s disjoining merits a word we couldn’t even spell said it all. I’d been in Chicago less than two weeks and had gone to jail for the very first time and was already a legend inside a place where something like that could pay off the rest of my life.
“Boy that Charlie Paradise runs with any opportunity that’s given him” Lynx’s mom “Toots” in July 0f 96 to ma duke. Below is the walk charted and photo’s of the newly re furbished basketball court.
Saturday, December 06, 2014
Friday, November 07, 2014
Friday, October 17, 2014
The saddest song not a song after all, a night fall memories crawl back in Autumn, sometimes they drop to ink so much I wanted to accomplish before I die in my sleep
The saddest song not a song after all, a night fall memories crawl back in Autumn, sometimes they drop to ink so much I wanted to accomplish before I die in my sleep, and creep with me, I can make you famous, right? Is it real, who knows, but it’s a cute ass face and a tight ass night, so just go, go, go west and fuck up your life Blasting Kanye, best leave the big things to better minds and find an instinctive abyss, relax A mind for a time, where’s the internet tax? And drooping are the times, that stake death on words that overlook the callous, the malice, the fucking 99 luft ballooned palace, there is no Alice, make your own fucking bed, after all it’s a wonder where you sleep in the end, bend but don’t break, the rules, your rules, break the rulers, for heavens sake, and write, put down the TV, a remote isn’t glamorous, manufacture these stories that you find so amorous.
Thanks for the shows, demon’s and demo’s, corner and a beat box, a guitar in DC - freestyle is free and admitting one, a basketball son, including all, read, flex, barf and brawl before you crawl before breath eyes alight frozen hail Mary darts our plight pinning memories in our whiskers killing time shot glassing our bitters creates winners no trophies subconscious let carry and glory marry my ignorance to the pen and that’s all I need to make this song cry and this keyboard bled Gordon taught me greed in all its forms so I task this flask to remove this mask of normalcy which is slowly wearing thin a devilish grin knots my gut so much I wanted to accomplish before I had enough
The saddest song not a song after all, a night fall memories crawl back in Autumn, sometimes they drop to ink so much I wanted to accomplish before I die in my sleep,
Focus, present, presenting the president in the presence of now essence glows eternal that transcendental shine a pond in Concord that’s all fucking mine he went to the woods to find at the end if he ever really lived so stamp on me present a long scar on the arm of a hand that gives and fuck dawg stay active, be lively and love cuz that’s what’s attractive and maybe it’s words and sense is unaware but I opened my closet 4 my soul 2 bare dishonest will wear too much a trunk on a back to bear wear me these works cloaks to hide daggers meant to clown the absurd of factions who believe and follow like hyenas the curtains and droves that succeed totally dude get the fuck out of my face with that shit my brood intends to stay rude when righting a course we never would choose a son of liberty camp of wise young old fools
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Friday, October 10, 2014
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Magic and my favorite sports memory of all time would occur tonight and it lasted less than a second. Madison had been on a roll ever since that first loss.
When the day finally arrives we are 7-1 and the both major dailies have now ranked us as the number “two” team in the state behind the Cape Charles Colonials. The court would contain a half dozen scholarship players, and it was classic #1, #2 state rankings. It was the type of high school game where the Big Guy would have to ask new faces hanging anywhere around our practice if they were from Cape Charles. The type of high school game that anyone connected to basketball in the state of MA talked about. We’d sell out in minutes and turn hundreds away. The Barbershops were buzzing, the school was electric and everyone was talking about our latest rivalry with the town next store. It was a town where the Big Guy’s first coaching loss occurred as a JV coach almost twenty years prior. He’d been 21-0 up until that point. And he famously once said, “And I didn’t drive through the town of Belmont for a year, I took the long way into the city.” He’d lament this fact post year two thousand reflecting how coaches tend to calm down over the year. The fight never recedes he’d say, it was just with age came some perspective. And to top it all off it was his birthday and his sister had passed away a couple days before. He was 12-0 in his birthday. I loved that stat.
It was Tuesday night, the day had finally arrived league titles you see where our birthright. And a victory tonight would even us up in that journey of such a pursuit. Forget the fact their back up center would play at Duke on scholarship, Madison had won twelve of the last fifteen league titles. And before that three D1 state titles. This was extremely personal. Usually in the mornings I’d throw on some choice New Edition stuff and proceed to have a massive concert by myself dancing wildly in the nude using my hairbrush as my microphone. I stare in the mirror and marvel at the manner in which I move my body relative to the beats. I spin, jump, gasp, throw my head up and fall dramatically to my knees. After a good Mr. Telephone Man rendering I usually require another shower. Thursday morning I was so focused on the impending game Friday that I overlooked my usual dance regiment and simply let my radio play. The station had been left on the oldies due to my mothers daily cleaning. This also taught me nothing. I never picked up for myself once. I loved the oldies because of her, so I let it ride, today was a big day and I felt captured my mood. I hear a piano roll and a dope bass beat. It’s wonderful My eyebrows rise. Finally I hear a very young but brilliant voice echo in over the rhythm. I think I might have heard this song before? I’m getting really excited I know that, I know that, what’s that voice?A moment of clarity, its Michael Jackson its the Jackson Five. I need to hear ABC.
I’m possessed and take a calculated risk, page Enrico and he meets up and agrees to take me to the mall to buy a tape as long as I buy him one which meant we needed a credit card thus begun our first true felony. It made us agree to get another credit card. ”That was for the birds.” I say after coughing some cheese It was a great day to be in school, it’s the only school day I can remember in my whole time there that I didn’t want to end. Every minute, I loved it, their was a tremendous buzz, especially after how close we came last year. And the game wasn’t even until tomorrow.
Before practice I ask Rashad permission if I can change the song we ran out to. The song that you ran out to in front of a rowdy and packed gym is crucial like New Editions love. Up until this point we have been unveiling ourselves to Cypress Hills how I just kill a man. Which was dope but… I played ‘I want You Back’ and everyone thought it was the greatest idea since jumbo laces. The day went by fast, furious, practice however hard went by even faster. The Big Guy isn’t a new era coach that believes in resting his players on the eve before a game. No, no nonsense this is a guy that works his players hardest on the day before a game or playing his seniors on seniors night. He didn’t believe in it. he’d always say, “If a senior wants playing time that’s not getting it bust a gut in practice, then I’ll say whoa, he’s going to play.” I don’t feel it though. I’m more jacked than thirty broken huge windows could ever make me, well. I’m basically just happy that the team understands that we have to run out to the Jackson Five.
The next day in school went by even quicker, shirt and tie, I was in heaven. This was what I ran all those suicides for. On Game-day school feels more like a press conference than another day in public education. It seems that teachers are even proud of us. Today I’m dapper like the rest of the team in traditional pressed khakis, white deeply starched collar shirts and for me a light blue Perry Ellis tie that I just purchased on a stolen credy yesterday. I’d hide it once again in my beanbag, she’d never check there twice.
You need a new tie for games like these. Per the usual custom the girls will play before us. The way it should be. Walking into ACE, and even though I had been in ACE all year my heart slumped walking in, this was serious business plus we’d learn the Big Guy’s sister had passed away earlier in the afternoon. I’d never heard him mention his own family once in all my years around him. Tonight was a classic number #1 vs. #2 in the state regular season match up. The Big Guy couldn’t even remember the last time Madison hosted an inter league #1 vs. #2 state ranked regular season contest but was fairly certain it had happened before, he would know.
Today in the ACE program we ordered our usual breakfast of a dozen doughnuts and any specialty items on request. I always go with the egg, bacon and cheese on a croissant. Those things get it done.
Back in the day I would order two sometimes three of them a whack with two strawberry milks. In retrospect the very worst thing about me back then was probably my eating habits. The mood in the ACE program that morning was casually reserved. I was content to be quiet. I loved not only Coach Farias and Sullivan but also the entire ACE program at that point any and everything to do with it. People were scared of the ACE program, it was great ‘Dream these fools can’t hang with you. Your fucking quicker, simply have more talent. You’re not even white!’ These are my thoughts and remarkably I felt better.
Muffin picked me up after-school. We shoot back to her house. I’m reminded yet again of how much I love this girl. The stars have aligned for me, I must pray to Jesus not to be a Jerk. A backrub, kiss and I’m out.
I arrived to the gym about two and a half-hours early. It was already a mess. I retreated deep into the Blue Room with my focused varsity brethen. By the time the ball was inbounded for the start of the girls second half the gym was walled with a growing line to jam as many in as fire regulations allowed. In the locker room we sit silent. Trying to stay relaxed. I prop up and begin kissing those that will allow a kiss on the cheek and telling them that I love em. I thought this to be a good icebreaker. We look like a college team. Everything’s Gold yo like Pony Boy told Johnny to stay. As the end of the girl’s game draws nearer I stick my head out of the door that leads to the brief runway in which we run out to. It was chaos.
Holy shit I've never seen so many fucking people in one gym before in my entire life.
There were delays. Word then comes through the wire that the fire department had shut the doors turning a huge mob of fans away. The gym is loud. It’s snowing hard outside. Chants between the two sides have already begun in a violent swing. This is high school basketball. It’s one hundred degree’s in that gym. I instantly shut the door and turn white. Right then our leader Rashad whom at this point is more of an aged father presiding over his cubs grabs me with his enormous and chiseled arms. He gives me a hug. I want to cry but its game time. “You worked hard to get here. Let’s fucking do this tonight son. Hey look at me. You’re going to help us win this shit tonight. You got it?” “Really? Nah, yeah, OK, no fucking shit.” I smile This terse speech invigorates the passion slowly stewing in my heart. Such small encouragement from someone that you’ve been trying to get the attention of since day one is enough to make me turn brass knuckled and say no way not here. Rashad Wilson, a true captain. They can’t play with me Rashad simply smiles and taps me on the butt. I have now been prepared. Right when ADD boy is about to burst the stupid girl’s game goes into double overtime, ah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The Big Guy takes us out of the locker room and into the massive, and police protected secluded field house to cool off. Nobody speaks a word, not even a tick cause he was in the stands now leading chants. Back in the field house, this close to tip off, all the hoopla, which the BG could get behind to a point was sealed off. It was just us, the team like everyday, you could only hear the squeak of our clean gym sneakers against the field houses mopped floors. Finally two police officers escort our two assistants into the gym. There’s a further delay. The gym is overflowing. To further comply with fire regulations a couple of hundred fans must exit before tip off. Finally after another twenty minutes of waiting Coach Brinklow storms back and says, “Coach, they’re ready for us.” And in his Baritone immediate retort, “let’s go.”
We bring it in like a family that has nothing but what we’re holding. The Big Guy quickly serenades us with his usual pre-game prayer and with that we make our way towards the chilly hall. There wasn’t much to say. If we weren’t up for this we’d already lost. This was the dead of January, and a public school. We form a fire line with Rashad in front. Standing on my tip toes, I can see the gym, can feel the electricity everyone is jumping. Finally the technician says that the music is ready, he gives Coach Brinklow the thumbs up and we burst from out of our locker room. The sound technician gives me wink, he’s also a custodian at the school that I sell football cards too, yes! Jackson 5, I want you back. I hear the stroll of the piano as we enter our enchanted gymnasium to a deafening volume. As I fire out of the tunnel and on to the court I look up overwhelmed. The build of the bass the sounds of the Jackson Five electrify an already synergistic, stuffed student body. Chants begin right off the bat. I feel like I have finally arrived. My first scan of the gym my first step out of our tunnel for a split second I saw something that would crystallize this game for the rest of my life. We looked up and saw students outside on the roof looking through the gyms few caged windows. Bursting out of the huddle I peer up through the gyms foggy caged window. In the snow, friends of Parkers this was awesome. Dozens of heads outside as snow fell, number #1 vs. number #2.
After a lap we burst into our tap drill. Rashad our leader and captain throws the ball up high off the glass and we each in accordance spring high and simply tap the basketball against the side of the backboard for the next cat to tap. I don’t think my hyper body has ever jumped so high in my life
The electricity, the metaphors and general hatred propels me high above the rim. I could now touch the rim and next year would be able to jump off two feet and grab the rim with two hands, which incidentally was my greatest athletic accomplishment. The final tip goes to our center Stretch who is supposed to jam it home. However, in Massachusetts’s high school basketball dunking in the lay-up lines is levied with a technical foul. Stretch grabs the ball high above the cylinder and drops it through the bucket, smooth. We break into a dynamic set of lay up lines. This is our routine. Once ABC comes on the crowd again roars its approval. It was almost time to play. The gym seemed so small due to the over flow of people.
As we jump chest to chest and bring it in I look around the gymnasium and spot every coach that I’ve ever known from mad old school camps. I see college coaches everywhere, writers and former greats. Most of the crowd serves as a who’s who in Boston public school basketball. I’m nervous
It felt like an incubator as an already steamy by nature MHS court sweats. It feels more like a Hollywood sound stage where they’re purposely trying to create a scene as legendary as humanly possible, for this level. The bodies on the floor were so big. It kinda feels like a division one-college game being played on a scrony high school court. The blue and gold banners are sparkling ever so bright throughout the gym. It felt like the Boston Garden and reminds us all exactly who the fuck we are. The horn sounds. And now my favorite part bringing it in, we can’t hear ourselves think much less the Big Guy. The starting 5 is announced and Santo is so pumped he gets us all jacked, watching the student section feed off his freedom.
“My nigga.” Spec says to me as we usually try and sit next to each other on the bench. The whole first half we dominate the number one ranked Belmont High school team who was clearly off balance. They had yet to find an answer for Rashad or our ferocious defensive legacy, home court advantage. Even though we lead at half by a point it’s still a battle and far from over. The Big Guy gives us an inspiring half time speech. We could be a great team, “why not us?”
The second half, CC has stormed back and has taken the lead. Rashad kept piling it on but we needed more. Suddenly now down by four, at the most crucial juncture of the season the Big Guy substituted an entire Young Gun lineup. Magic and I are now the backcourt checking in for Rashad and Kevin. And once Wellsy checked in, Santo and Stretch were on the floor and we’re all YG. What it would look like next year.
This is our chance to show everyone
I hustled over 2 Magic forwarding a "denk" subtle head butt the stuff of legneds of behavior nuts our confidence breeds, “let’s do this.” I say. I’m sure our mothers were all holding hands. Right away we go into Stretch who hits a turn around lefty jumper. Madison fans leap up and down fanatically. We fly right into our fabled gold press and within two-seconds I knock the ball loose from their two guard. I control possession flick a pass over to Magic who without thought fires the rock over to Wellsy who hits Santo cutting to the hoop for a deuce. Mad cohesion means the game is suddenly all tied up. Cape Charles calls for a timeout. There are only six minutes left. We did our job in a huge situation.
The Big Guy huddles us up as we’re excited beyond cloud nine. The home crowd can smell blood. The Big Guy calms and quickly checks Kevin and Rashad back in for me and Mike. “Nice jobs guy” He says as we proudly dit back. on the bench only to stand up, “Let’s go fellas! Gut check fellas!” The swollen crowd which had not sat the entire time was again reaching peak volumes. Before the ball was again in bounded the Big Guy made another substitution, and in a surprising move inserted Darren for Santo. Darren was a senior and become our dawg, he came from Burlington a year after they split the Middlesex league crown with Madison in 90-0901 when we were freshmen. Darren’s family moved to Lexington, and he came hyped. Coach Farias had gone with Santo over Darren in his senior year, Darren’s dad lived right behind me, all YG loved him. Terrance and I loved to drink 40’s with him.
Big Macs alcoholism has accelerated through the season due mainly I believe to his lack of playing time on such a tight squad. But tonight with six minutes left tie game in the biggest game ever The Big Guy has put him in, pressure. We came back out there were no less than ten scholarships to be had on the floor and benches everyone was a college player and on that night being on that floor to me meant I’d made it, fuckers. Cape Charles MVP candidate Mark Mulvey brings the ball up court and goes immediately inside to another all scholastic Ace Palmer. He turns, fakes and springs over Stretch for a two-point bank. The place goes nuts. Rashad brings the ball up he is quickly double-teamed and kicks the ball into the corner to Daren our stocky six three skilled forward. Darren turns without a man on him and softly drops in a ten-footer, swish. The joint explodes and we go right into our fabled press. Belmont comes down again and their star guard hits some big nerd in the corner who buries a twenty-footer. Nothing but net. It’s back and forth and it’s a great fucking game. Everyone in the house is on their feet sweating and screaming at the top of their lungs. Police surround the borders of the court’s end lines. They’re prepared for a riot. Again Rashad brings the ball up and this time sees an immediate triple. Again he snaps a rocket to Big Mac in the corner and Daren turns with no one on him and just buries yet another pressure cooking twenty-footer. It’s obvious he’s feeling it. We’re still tied and there are only three minutes left. The much lauded Cape Charles calls a timeout.
As our boys make there way to the huddle I’m seated at the end of the bench talking to the little ball boys about the general coolness of 2-Pac Shakur. The ball boys are the best, I love this program I constantly urge them to start a lemonade stand over the summer.
The Big Guy storms over in my direction, grabs me by the tang at the top and says “Cha.” I can’t hear him, “Chalie!!” I spring like a lightning rod over to the scorer’s table for Kevin. Another timeout is taking. In the huddle this thug is ready to boil. We bring it “Madison Defense.” Like that we’re back on the floor all tied up number one vs. number two. There are three minutes left to play. This right here is what it’s all about. Santo skies for the rebound and kicks it out to Rashad who again faces an immediate triple team lost the ball. Belmont’s Mulvey regains control of the rock and begins to setup. But before anyone knows what’s going on he zips a no look rocket between what seems like a hundred guys right under the rim to their star center Ace Palmer. Ace had a clear path for the first dunk of the game, this would be a killer as Stretch scrambles back to recover. Ace goes way up for the gorilla dunk, and in the middle of flight his body gets knotted up in some weird fashion causing him to brick a sure slam-dunk high off the rim game still tied! The crowd gasps and Stretch, like that first rebound I saw him destroy in the field house, springs high above everyone and smacks the ball against his palms for assurance. Wellsy cuts behind him and quickly lifts the ball forward to Rashad who bulls his way inside about four defenders. Somehow he hooks a circus like shot high above the reach of the many outstretched defenders and the ball, like its supposed to do, swishes through the net in perfect rotation. And he was fouled. I have never heard a sound as loud as the sound that’s made after this bucket. Everyone is alive and Rashad (jaunting backwards on defense) is thumping his chest and pointing to the banners feeding the frenzied crowd a little more raucous jubilation.
As CC comes down their star guard kicks it to his two man and the ball is kicked right back to him for an open fifteen footer, he nails it. Santo quickly grabs the ball out of the net to inbound. I fly in front of him like I’m programmed to do and take the ball like a running back takes a handoff. Jetting up the floor I shove a pass off my chest to Rashad who instinctively hits Darren wide open in the corner, who catches, squares, hones, locks, releases and buries yet another jumper. The place goes liquid. We are up by two with way under a minute left to play holy shit. The gym was mass hysteria. My teachers, friends, Ma, therapists and all the towns’ police force watch intensely. Quickly in the name of time the ball is inbounded to their much-heralded point guard and I’m defending trying to slow his pace up floor. Before he gets the ball from the inbounder I slap the floor with both of my hands and let out a jungle like scream. Once he gets the ball I can feel the crowd on its tiptoes. It feels like Africa. It’s hot. I’m saying shit to this kid chest to chest. “Be careful with that cross?” He being a legitimate high school basketball star with a storied career, laughed. Just like that he’d heard enough and accelerated by me, I picked his cross with my left. I pushed him aside in a moment scooping “Rollie” up I went the other way for an uncontested two with a left handed lay up smacking the glass for poignancy. Timeout called game over.
I turned being on the student side of things and pointed high in the direction of YG and UNLV taking their place atop of the prized Madison student section. The section went bonkers our league Pos gives me the sign. I stand motionless smiling and shaking my head like I’m just too nasty to understand. Cameras were flashing. There was short change on the clock, the horn sounded Kevin checked in for me and the Big Guy smacks me on the ass as I go to the bench. I sit next to Mike and the first thing he says, “Dude we’re going to be number one in the state!” Goose Bumps The pick 2 B my signature move.
Soon the final horn sounded, the court was flooded as scholarship offers floated in the air. We like our peeps the year before us were now the number one team in the state. The papers a week later would confirm it. It was a special night. It was the Big Guys birthday, and tonight he remained undefeated on his birthday for his entire career. 10-0. He had also just lost his sister to cancer, it was the first time I saw him shed a tear remembering her in our post game prayer.
The Big Guy came in after the game and said that this game we gave the kind of effort that you can only ever find in Madison. That’s when we brought it in screaming and begun congratulating each other. Rashad finished with thirty-five points.
After the game we head to Papa Gino’s Pizza with a convoy representative of something torn from 1960’s and not the grimy recessive era of grunge, generation X, loss, sex, drugs and violence. The manager allowed Stretch to shoot five slabs of Dough from fifty feet across the restaurant into their oven scoring the players one free large pizza with each score.
After pizza I retire home 2 shower still shook to “show” in front of the brothers in the the same style public school shower I once pimped for “choke” to other delinquents for five bucks a head no pun intended while the other main streamed “normal” students whished away to Washington DC back in Junior high so many years ago. And as I looked over the yellow stained shower floor where she knelt I suddenly realized this wasn’t as fun for her. Waiting for Magic to come scoop me up for the impending party I was king in my kitchen and for that night everything was perfect. And that was sports for us in our house like so many before wrong or right that’s just the way it was. My sister had scored A’s and solid SAT’S and assured me what I was feeling was different. Once at the party I for the first time feel a new kind of respect. This is a sort of untouchable respect. Where everyone regardless of your past differences wants to be apart of it, and this is a microcosm. Party we all get bombed. The night ended in me clearing away everyone and busting an old school nasty ass windmill that pre-cursed a tightly rolled backspin. The place went nuts and after the game in the parking lot’s cold air people were calling me a legend although I still didn’t believe it or know what it means.
Breakfast: Two eggs over medium with toast and at this point coffee, OJ, water, 10K and of course Cranberry juice. The sports page of course is the only visible piece of print within my sight. I wish I drank coffee was all’s I could think crossing my legs like an astute business man turning the Globe’s handicapper friendly sports page to the screaming Madison headline and big letters, Wilson’s 35 knock off #1 CC taking hold of states top ranking. There was a picture of Rashad being “mobbed” by his teammates with his arms high in the air swarmed by us once we were back safely in our “gold” room. The only visible mug was of course Magic’s whose mouth was wide open. A euphoric shot displayed his braces “bands” which I know the dentist said wear as much as possible but games, really? “Fuck that dudes responsible.” “What do you mean sweety?” My mother on one happy morning reasoned. “Look guy’s got his rubber bands in.” “We’’ you should be wearing them more yourself if you ever want them off you complain enough about it.” “True but games, I don’t know freaken things de derailed my rap career.” “OK, let’s go we have to get you to ACE and see the Big Guy.” “I know I can’t wait.”
We continued to win, keeping our #1 state ranking but already had a couple scares. The home scare in a game which we were heavy favorites, proved my seasons best performance. Although the circumstances under which it occurred were unfortunate. One probably affected the other. It was gambling related, and I didn’t get in trouble for anything, I wasn’t charged with anything but I was pinned in the middle of an enormous situation that had happened at the high school earlier in the day. It was such an ordeal, everyone pointed to me in the middle, which I was, and Mr. Robinson utilized the rarely used kill me button. He went right to Bob, and ACE on that one. I didn’t take bets during the season, but I had made a couple bets through some North End guys little Damon Schmidt responsible for the “you can’t hit twice on a card” rule freshmen year had been talking up. Damon never forgot that slight of card, he’d handicapped himself into a couple corners and was now my competition eroding market share.
Anyway I lost a couple hundred dollars or something like that, and Damon was using my lines on me, “Dude it’s cool, but I just saying, these guys our serious, they’ll come down here and kick your fucking ass, and I’ll be laughen kid.” “Yeah, Damon tell them to come here and see me, fucken pussy’s.” “These kids are North end kid, there no joke, this ain’t Madison Hills.” “whatever clowns. I ain’t payen you heard my bet wrong.” High school was constantly about issuing more and more threats everyone cowered at some point. It was a quick conversation, I didn’t believe Damon and or give a fuck really either. All until just an hour before the final bell, I get pulled out of class, “Dice there here, Dylan saw them pull up, three of them, bigger, older guys.” “OK, wurd, look, OK, OK, Page C, page Enrico, I’ll get Spec meet me on Crenshaw / G House I gotta find Black Knight. These dudes most be crazy coming to Madison for me on Damon’s shit.” On some level it was logical. The North End in the early 90’s, Prince street was the Italian mob’s Boston headquarters. And it had been for a hundred years. And just South down the street across from Broadway at the “triple O’s” local legend Whitey Bulger was knee deep in bringing them down playing both sides in his own motion picture. I figured they were from some grease ball section of the city just outside old north end, Revere, Winthrop both tougher places than Madison Hills, on paper but this was the big experiment Black had an axe in his locker, we had guns, drugs, medication and insanity on our side stemming from that new money, old money meets new money combination that rendered my fucks given squarely at zero. And I got people excited. I was down $1,000 a great sum of cash for a sixteen year old back in the winter of 1993. If I were them, I’d of done something anything else besides come to Madison Hills high school during school hours, dummies. “People don’t know what we have here.” The Big Guy
Within an hour I had thirty kids wound up, ready to push some freedom into an otherwise mundane Tuesday schedule of public schooling seemingly forgetting to remember, it was game day and I was now a more polished politically acceptable persona grandstanding as a back up two guard on the #1 ranked team in the state of Massachusetts.
I’d learned from the one unearthed employee Damon carried his goons were arriving at high noon, it was all so wild-west, “perfect, your good.” Agitating the gravel the lad coughed up the information on little more than a promise to forget I ever learned he was apart of the competition that had recently knifed into my monopoly.
And as we lay silently in the “cut,” waiting then gathering when a little past noon we spotted their cheesy cars that accompanied their own dysfunctional books and sucker looks. I relished the devilish drug like perk in my gums my ears movements and insanity’s choke hold on my then meager conscious. I looked at Black, check, “Yeah” and that was it. “I hate white people, lez go.” My trademark line yes I hated white people. It was a myopic, Sophomoric some said completely retarded thing to say but my brothers cracked up and love it, leave it or worse yet energize a fight against it, it was my instinct. And besides even if this was the “mob” and this was the “92 North end of Boston” and this was a “message” for a new “market” the gentry in the kings game of old money America than it should really be an easy grab, psssss.
I smiled at the Black Knight, apologized to Jesus and rolled out flooding our curvaceous student parking lot to meet these latest insurgents head on for a paper debt I never intended to pay rather squeeze my competition into realizing his balls might just be too small for this game. And “Black” with his ax led the charge knowing if things really got wired I had a “glock” stashed in Goldy’s I’d never use. “That’s him” The car parked the older “dudes” emerged as Damon’s tone and faith made me laugh. His brother would take his white genes and high SAT scores to Vegas and crumble into a gambling degenerate oh what a waste, wait his parents did get divorced, get the fuck out of my face with that shit.
I felt like a lion king, the strength behind me the adrenaline of this situation, the sun shining protecting our home turf led by Black Knight wielding an ax the contagion was palpable and it took less than a second for this powder keg to explode, a true brawl. The schools new security guard, Marge was in the middle. She pulled me out. And before police could come, or facts were leaked it was over as a dozen teachers arrived too late. And the vaunted “north end” goons were gone escaped to never come back. I of course was in class working the chains to make that a flight that never existed happen.
But Mr. Robinson clipboard and all didn’t like the smell or the sense he got from the whole thing. And as soon as I went up the BG exploded, “your in the middle of a fight?”
“What?” I had to go full denial, swear to god and dead people with my toes crossed that I had absolutely nothing to do with it. Mr. Robinson did admit he had no proof. The Big Guy said he’d withhold punishment as facts were gathered but gave a dire warning to me if I was in the middle I was done.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Friday, August 22, 2014
Clare in town, girls night out shoutouts galore, Friday Freestyle! What's better than that? A couple weeks off sauce, no meat, greens and a bike, thank u Hip Hop , Jesus and Summer -I'm at home chillen maken sure no bears move in, unless of course yeah they from Chicago
Tuesday, August 05, 2014
Monday, August 04, 2014
after one member of a rap duo reportedly opened fire on his partner, wounding
him in the head, legs, and chest. According to the bodega's owner, the shooting
was triggered by an argument over who was the video's star.
fighting over who's the star, who's better," owner Ali Abdul told the New York
Daily News. "They were drunk. They spit at each other then one guy pulled out a
gun and shot the other guy five times."
The gunman, who, as Gothamist
notes, never lets go of his drink during the shooting, also repeatedly pistol
whipped the 37-year-old victim. The video shows several witnesses casually
stepping over the victim as he writhed on the floor in pain. The suspect remains
at large; the victim is in critical condition at a local hospital and is
expected to survive.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
“Hard to believe mom, Charlie Paradise an official upper class man, take a bow!” Brooke exploding in laughter seamlessly flicking me in the nuts ala the old mans not so magic trick “Doh!” And I took a bow for teenage next steps and new freedoms most notably open campus for everyone of course except me.
And after my mother quadrupled checked my entire outfit to ensure clean cut she quality checked my khaki crease patted me down in a beeper / cane search we were good.
“Let’s go, let wummy look at you, bathroom mirra kid, I want you to look at yourself kiddo really look at yourself” “OK.” After all I loved the mirror, my mother and all the attention that came with me. I was sixteen black in America trapped in a white body, indestructible. “Looks are the only thing you got going for you kid, don’t screw that up too.” “Ma get the lint brush over here.” “I’m like your manager.” And she laughed. “Teammate.” I clarified.
"Well mummy think you could be a model. I should send your pictures in, give me something to do."
My mother had survived off one-thing, high cheekbones. The daughter of a janitor, a boxer, a sniper, he never could understand why god took the one thing that got him through that Korean war, his wife taken from him birthing my mother. Thank you Jesus. Looks are everything, blonde hair, blue eyes pared with pair of dimples, it's a joke, looks are everything yo, unless you really want to bust your ass for the rest of your short ass life.
“Look at that face Charlie, what a good looking kid, what a big heart, look at those dimples, look in your own eyes, look deeply into those eyes, you can be whatever you want to.” “OK, Ma, cool, I get it." "Look Charlie, look into your own baby blues" "Ma, what is all this?” I loved the Jerry Maguire pep especially on first days but this was new wrinkle off track shit. “What?” My tone had everything to do with the sanity of the house my actions that stirred the pill pot harder to explain. “I’m sorry Wummy, I love ah you, but what are you doing?” “Look into those eyes! Can’t you see? Can’t you see you can be anything you want go be!” “Yeah ma, anything I want to be, thanks, got it, terrific look I have a schedule you know like getting to the ACE / PLACE institution, you know the place for the crazy kids, OK?” “Yeah I know I’m so sorry I can’t do anything right.” The sea-saw of emotion just her tone after being so enthusiastic like a Big Guy summer camp collapsed. I hated the accountant role of her emotional ledger. “Your lucky I didn’t steal one of your Xanex.” But I didn’t say that shit oh the thoughts in your mind against what comes out of your mouth in situations that are critical to you are critical. “Ma! Please I love you OK? Just don’t bring up how awkward it is. What’s the whole after school special look into your eyes shit anyway?” Realness has a direct correlation to experience and finally, then, truth, golden truth and there’s nothing better. “I don’t know I saw it on Oprah with Tom Cruises mother used to do it to him. I thought it might help, I do believe you can be something very important and not just a hooligan.” In puppy voice this was powerful. “By mom! See you at school Charlie!” Mom and myself raced to the window and saw a car full of her friends peel out with cigarettes hanging out of every window as Brooke descended into her senior year in a dash to a heavy metal soundtrack. God I hate electric guitars
“Brooke didn’t tell me some maniac race car driver would be screaming in here to scrape her out of the blue, were they all smoking in there? Was that a joint? Who the hell was that?” “You smoke?” “Please Charlie, don’t start I want you to have a good day.” “Yeah I will, big year besides I’m the man ma. Where’s Mercedes?” “You’ve been saying that for years. Mercedes is just like a little sister to you. Oh the two of you.”
The end of my summer was official when Porsche, Mercedes and their sense of entitlement returned to the cul-de-sac from their sailing adventures down on old Cape Cod. “Mercedes!” My mother yells like the Pope had entered our kitchen. Mercedes assailed my mothers concerns. That being said rare was the case anyone came to our house sans police it was always a mini celebration. We failed being normal, tryingly time after time.
“Well I heard you guys made it to the finals in the summer league Charlie congratulations. I know that's important to you. It’s good to hear something like that instead of police reports.” "You can say that again." "Thanks Ma, Mercedes don't, come here." Mercedes and I smile for our “hi” hug! She was very proper when she wasn’t screaming at me. I was quite certain carried a booty that had yet to be officially taxed. I knew because she’d dated half the gang. “Yeah we did.” “No listen Charlie, and Ms Paradise I want you to hear this.” “My mother raced to her Swedish oak chair that had been with us since the lawnmower lighting a ciggerrette shuffling in frantic anticipation, “Everyone shh! Mercedes is about to speak. Please Mercedes now what exactly were you going to say? Help me with this kid” “If I drive you to school this year” “listen closely Charlie!” “MA, Jesus, all on my nut sack, dam” “OK Charlie you have to be nice when you see me in the hallways. And don’t slash any tires of any friends of mine unless I ask you no punching in the face or knocking out like u like 2 say any of my guy friends. And don’t call General Hospital 900 #’s from my house because you can’t wait until Monday and no Sugar rays and B-Dawg. “Fine” After rolling off the different Ivy League schools her summer pals were attending and where she thought she wanted to (yawn) apply the scene had expired. “Yo gotta go” “OK time to go to Magic’s?” “Nah just me & Magic today.” “Wait he got a car and a license?” “Peace” I dyed laughing inside with an I’m so high no fucks given all American smile forever eye contact. “Wait he has a car?” Mercedes was clearly aware new cars for kids that turned sixteen was a rarity in my gang. Besides Magic and I brought an excitement on first days and Mercedes after frosting her front with a windex of her rear view clearly adored us.
Not only were we the future backcourt of Lexington basketball but we knew everyone from the decades past. I’d ask Magic if we were legends yet and he’d shake his head like a teacher being asked an absurdly preposterous question. “Of course not! Why cause we know Bart and Des? This is a big year. If we win the summer league this year maybe we can bathe in it all senior year. Fuck mad chicks.” “Word is born.” “Charlie, it’s word is bond, bond Paradise not born, Jesus, word isn’t born.” Cracking up I detect potential Blotch. “All right!” And Mercedes loved these discussions. Mercedes and Magic for the most part carried the same “idea” of what it meant to get “ahead.” After all in Madison it was all a race to an Ivy League college or high school legendary status. I was the latter. Ivy children became Madison’s proudest possessions. It made me puke. I’d seen the operation. I was wise to the game reckless to its challenge. The rich of Madison ain’t shit and no nothing and are typically for all their smarts racist, not understanding and judgemental, and big money don’t work hard hahaha and everyone lies and judges, not me, I love it not me
It had always been a show. We’d count break necks. “Charlie! See Gayle, this is what I’m talking about the ADD!” “Charlie!” My mother stomped her foot gasping her if scripted astonishingly dramatic line. “Relax!!!” I hated this. “Jesus fucking Christ Ma, reminder I have to walk into the ACE program this morning in front of all these curtains.” “Not on the first day Charlie Paradise not on the first day, god I need a Xanex and it’s not even nine in the morning!” Shaking my head Mercedes had the neighbor view she was my sister she understood as I viewed her now gigantic boobs. I thanked Jesus. “By Ma!” “First varsity basketball player ever in the history of Lexington basketball to be in the fucking ACE program.” Always the last word. I was over it. And we left. My mother in tears, I’d grown raw. It’d been years since I let that break me. I’m a G And as we walked out of the house holding hands, I gave Mercedes and granted all of her requests denying ever breaking into her house to make 900 calls. “So wait Mike has a car?” “It’s Magic and yes he’s driving his brothers, pretty special day for us Mercedes Madeline.” “You guys always get excited over the dumbest things.” "Mike’s older brother Josh (LHS class of 89) lent him his car for our first day as an upper classman. Porsche was away at college in Rhode Island. I was worried knowing how Christian the Lion it all would be for her, i.e. the wild after being raised in the zoo.
“Good morning Magic.” “Well hello Mr. Junior in high school, dude!?” And like that our moment was snapped. “What?” Magic fucking always shaking his head at me. “As always you break out your best gear day 1. We talked about this last night and you said -” “yeah yeah yeah but” Ramble. Mike and I always discussed the strategy of holding your best gear out the first week and let all the masses run through their fly shit. And then in week two lower the boom. “I can’t overcome the urge.” “Be careful with that.” And Magic zipped the frown / eye brow opposite direction face plant. Second. His body language “umph” whose faces intent was created to guide and make you feel like you caught the “Dom Dom’s” in the life game of real decisions. “Whatever homo ass Mr. Want to fit in with everybody.” Magic laughed, his easily defeated phase 1 defense of protection in regards to the “soft” spots all gangs forever tug at was enough. Magic had gone from JH rival to my Ace one two his aging backwards against my own fast-forward on the Hayden stage created an audience fueled by our basketball ability and polar personas. So this ride while symbolic of miles traveled and new toys, open campus also meant. “So C are you nervous about going right up to ACE?” The basketball and brothers of hoops called me “C” “yes.” “I know your bugging listen don’t be man, first off all I’m fucken pumped to get the classic. I mean your going to see the Big Guy everyday, off the court conducting.” “Really? Like he had two retarded heads, and finally “I can’t believe this.” I knew varsity players weren’t in the ACE program “Hey remember we’re juniors, and you have Coach Sullivan and coach Gibbs up there. I can’t wait to hear the stories. It will be a good thing C watch.” Pulling into the parking lot signaled yet another reason to never attend class. The sun was in full glory. I never saw a first day of school to me it was all simply free market capatilism, and I was a part of it.
Dysfunctional kids everywhere. And trust funds. Slinky pieces of homework drudging through time to shock daddy phase. My crew was in a large frolicking circle. The student parking lot was mine. I smiled pondering upper class and soon legendary status. When would it happen? How would I know? Vader. And we parked. Magic waived and I lifted a point. His time was flexible fruits of the right thing mine was not. I was now in the ACE program the worst of the worst and promptly pulled off my sunglasses.
“Yo I gotta talk to you kid pronto!” Skeetah, Jesus Upper class meant more responsibility and that meant more meetings the privy piled my closest had cards after all I’d do anything for anyone kid that grew up with me. And after our growth and the summer league finals people were beg to notice.
Forever rattled was I when the first thing I heard was Skeetah before my Adidas touched pavement out of the whip. Skeetah was in a tie with Neil for getting caught for the dumbest shit. “Give until lunch buddy.” And I walked to warmer waters towards Scully, an anchor of steadiness. “Why hello good sir. You wanna skip the first class of the year?” I kick imaginary dirt, Scully is referencing a tradition I started last year six of us skipped the first class, first day and had a sit down proper breakfast at 1 Mariam St I covered from last fall's gambling profits. I held reserves now as year three of my waging parlor kick off with kickoff's nationwide. “Whatever.” I’d recently discovered just how much I loved saying that word. The last thing in the world I needed right now was that. “I can’t.” It was so hard for me to say those two simple words, "I can't."
Besides the stigma of ACE being for mental or crazy kids I now had the hubble telescope on me with oh just basketball and high school graduation on the line. But I had no idea, I was in the parking lot, we were upper classmen, I never wanted that bell to ring. I wanted that moment to last forever. We were all the same before the bell. After the bell they were in mainstream high school and I was now in the ACE program. They’d meet new teachers, find follow Young Guns in class, sit next to maybe an undercover slinky regarded oh so delightfully in our team and gang of hyper-active lunatics. Who knew? Maybe there’d be another tenth grade biology class. Nah, unless they got a Neil, B-Dawg, Monster comnbination.
But who knew, it killed me. I was going to be in a class with three or four kids, a couple I might know from my own zilla contributions around town, a couple I wouldn’t. I'd be patted down again. There was a metal detector. And the big Guy to detect everything else.
I’d have Coach Sullivan teaching me Shakespeare. Thank god for muffin. I’d never get another girlfriend I figured. I was too hospital. Like a kid I only saw the bad, hardly accepting that it was me that put me there. I’d just lost over 20 academic credits towards graduation. It was a huge #, out of nowhere and my “sorry coach I fell in love” response a little more than mildly retarded. And to top it all off I was literally scared of the Big Guy. He was easily the most controversial and talked about person in Madison. And he now had to monitor me during school hours. I was a wreck I felt I was going to prison with first hand knowledge of a warden of urban mythology. Dam, I’m buggen breathe C, breathe
The other side of paradise.
Monday, July 21, 2014
As I continued mulling through the list of thoughts I promised myself I’d give some attention to this morning I began to think that this was a whole hell of a lot of shit to cover over a bowl of frosted flakes.
Friday, July 18, 2014
LEGENDES. Log line: Finding a family, the limits of loyalty and the miracle that was my high school graduation. One boy’s run rectifying the fears of the well to do east coast town he was born to destroy, lived to understand and ultimately cast the last of a legendary footprint spanning thirty glorious years a fast track of teenage freedom.
The end of the pre-internet era in a historically charged almost glamorous town that included on its resume, the start of the American Revolution, these are the adventures of Charlie Paradise and his devilish band of misfit Minutemen the Young Guns or as I liked to call them, Sons of Liberty.
Charlie Peter Paradise
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
he eve of another almighty first day of public school the eve of my restricted upper class status the eve of truly the beginning of my varsity basketball career and all’s I could think about was how terrible the Patriots were going to be (again). Hey Jesus, me again, Charlie, hope your well anyway (deep breath) god I hate private school kids. What pussies anyway thank you for the Young Guns thank you for my Uncle Clayt thank you for football Sundays, the Big Guy, pills for my mom and pink milk. My mother had recently in the name of manhood snuck my Star Wars sheet out like a P. Riddy midnight ride during the day. I was sad by she knew even if I cared I wasn’t going to change them back. I didn’t make fucking beds.
Oh and Jesus thanks for my girlfriend, blonde, big boobs and heart, just like I requested, three sisters, mad Christian and a piano in the living room? Jesus when your on, sweet Jesus, you are on. And thanks the lawnmower too, I realize being with Muffin why you did that. So I’m not a complete prick. I’m so nervous about ACE. I’M WORRIED I might lose MY CONFIDENCE. Stay with me homie
The thought that life was a movie taken from a general hospital episode climaxing in the class of 94 bringing home the state title kept tomorrows promise and that was absolutely everything. The pursuit of glory and I felt it everyday the fuel which powered me out of the abyss of the bad habits experienced young freedom plugged me up in. The wonderful world of Lex-Vegas swirled inside black Boston took care of everything else that and break-dancing. I know someone’s gonna go in high school, I know it, make it me Jesus make it me
At sixteen I already thought of myself as somewhat a martyr. And every moment was calculated in a reflective capacity. I’d already died once and wasn’t scared of the blessing. Plus I knew everything. And I had the lost boys. And island of them when you’re a kid the worst is the best and it’s an hourglass. I’ve lived more life in sixteen years than any of these curtain adults. Have more upside, power and experience than these thumb in the ass privileged what faggots think it can’t happen. Let me tell you this…
I’d tell B-Dawg my first rap manager in the 7th grade. It would bring him to tears. The healing power of laughter he respected how fucked up I was. And B-Dawg like Hank and Black Knight were my cornerstones my blood brothers literally we’d all been bleeding at the same time together at one point or another. I was playing the winner take all card the longest shot against everybody Charlie Paradise all’s it would take was one good thrashing to re-set the whole shit and fit me where I belonged at the table they’d put me in (ACE program).
Not fit to judge me giving your responses to my tough questions. I’m no crash test. They call me Dream at Hayden, did you know that one Jesus?
By the time the fall of my junior year of high school rolled up I was completely deranged. And it was scary. I was quick cute with scars both visible and through the eyes that watched me walk into group therapy at the soon to be high school of mine the ACE program. “I don’t give a fuck” remains my mirrored anchor.
Breakfast Opening Day – Junior Year: The Gene.
“Know your limit’s kid remember the gene our family carries Charlie. It’s a gene not a decision I believe it Charlie I honestly believe it.” My mother correctly opined dragging a toke of her token Carlton 120, swinging a diet coke she swallowed a Xanex. And (burp) continued “Both you and your sister got it. And your father I mean, the ADD do you know when you were born he showed up drunk during the delivery and puked all over the emergency room! The nurses were like taking more care of him than me. You have to be careful, because your so hyper and impulsive, Junior in high school now” “Ma, come on stop, don’t build this up. I got this” “But” “please” “but” “please” “Charlie! Your not like other kids, your blessed but challenged and listen kiddo no ones a bigger fan of yours than me. I know you have a good heart I know you think all the kids will think your abnormal when you have to go the ACE program at the first bell of the school year but ” “MA!” “Well I know it’s -.” “I got this” “OK sorry let s head bash. Sit down for breakfast”
As I continued mulling through the list of thoughts I promised myself I’d give some attention to this morning I began to think that this was a whole hell of a lot of shit to cover before I’ve had a bowl of frosted flakes (hahahahahahahahahah).
“Can you believe it mom, Charlie Paradise an official upper class man, take a bow sport!” Brooke hitting me in the nuts ala the old mans favorite line and trick, “Oh!” It worked every time. And I took a bow. Brooke Boston Paradise cracking up over a natural next step for all incumbents into a larger world she’s already finding Woody Allen humor in what explosion I might cause next. With teenage next steps came new freedoms most notably open campus, for everyone of course except me. Yo with my dope summer officially over I in the name of life past sixteen need to think of anything besides all the things I don’t have.
I was maybe beginning to get it. After my mother quadrupled checked my entire outfit to ensure clean cut, no cane, pants pressed with a crease, first day, great looking children, Dana was off. “By mom! See you at school Carl!” Mom and myself raced to the window and saw a car full of her friends peel out with cigarettes hanging out of every window. “She didn’t tell me some maniac race car driver would be screaming in here to get her out of the blue, were they all smoking in there? Was that a joint?” “You smoke?” “Please Carl, don’t start I want you to have a good day.” “Yeah I will, big year, I’m the man. Where’s Carolyn?” “You’ve been saying that for years. Carolyn is just like a little sister to you.” The end of the summer on my cul-de-sac was always defined by the imminent return of my sisters Porsche and Mercedes and even though I sometimes hated them, I love them both. Waiting forever, finally Carolyn shows up right on time. “Carolyn!” My mother yells like the Pope had entered our kitchen. “Well I heard you guys made it to the finals in the summer league Carl congratulations.” Mercedes smiles for our “hi” hug! She is very proper when she wasn’t screaming and still I was quite certain carried a booty that had yet to be officially taxed. I knew because she had been dated all my friends. “Yeah we did.” Carolyn, closest to me in age finally asks me a question after rolling off the different Ivy League schools her summer pals were attending and where she thought she wanted to (yawn) apply. “OK time to go to Magic’s?” “Wait he got a car and a license?” “he’s driving his brothers, pretty special day for us Carolyn Michelle.” “you guys always get excited over the dumbest things.” And we slink in to my mothers Ford Taurus to drive us the five-minute walk to Mike’s. We’ve already discussed the excitement and usual disasters for me on opening day. It wasn’t a baseball game but kind of was. The commute kicked it all off. Mike’s older brother Josh (LHS class of 89) lent him his car for our first day as an upper classman. Porsche was away at college. After running out of my house with my hands over my years. Pattle, Pat, Pat, pat, pit, pit, pit,. Pit, you could hear and see the uzi bullets creating mini “Good morning Magic.” “Well hello Mr. Junior in high school, as always you break out your best gear day 1.” Mike and I always discussed the strategy of holding your best gear out the first week and let all the masses run through their fly shit. And then in week two we’d lower the boom. “Yeah I see where your coming from as far as philosophy but I can’t overcome the urge.” So this ride while symbolic of miles traveled and new toys in our possession finally and open campus it also meant. “So C are you nervous about going right up to ACE?”
Instant and simple response, “yes.”
Monday, June 30, 2014
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Saturday, May 31, 2014
The Outside World: On November 5th Bill Clinton became the 42nd President of the United States. It would be a turning point for the countries sobering post eighties America. Had to see that one coming until it happens again five years later unbelievable. I was OK with it ever since I saw him play sax on Arsenio. Little did we know how what a great president he would serve as. He balanced the budget. It’s worth saying again. We were coming out of dark place. The 80’s were gone leaving their imprint on the good times rolling. Not in America’s inner cities but by 1990, kids were again depressed like they always used to be, white high flyers were jailed, buried in addiction, infliction or strapped with vast amounts of debt. Classes cut, music cut, sports cut, buses cut, jobs lost, heroin was back and it all looked so foolish at that point. Not in Astori though, I had long maintained that if you grew up in Astori you had no right to get angry about anything. Except for me though I was furious. The Rising Sun back then was Japan and boy were we fucked. They bought Hawaii and Disney Land and everything yo! I mean our smartest kids are Japanese but in Japan it’s all Japanese, I mean I didn’T think it was possible to be more into business than me, but these guys take it serious.
And worst of all my beloved Dow Jones was still in a major correction from its biggest 80’s boner. Yup, its official, the 80’s are over and I hate it. I heard all the stories And even though I didn’t own any shares of anything yet, I still prayed to Jesus for the health of the US stock market and broader index’s. Also, soon within earths gravitational pull, Dr. Dre’s masterpiece the Chronic would be released, thus taking this “fad that would never last” worldwide and beyond. Keep bangen, keep bangen keep bangen dance with me come on same song just another pop song And as the high schools most marketable rapper and budding legend this was a great thing. I’d spread the freestyle. The writing of rap lyrics in Junior High sparked my great affair with the healing and calming presence of your own written hand. Even if it only has one tendon you can’t put a price on free therapy. Rap was the other half of my shtick. Up in the ACE program I could really tweak the comedian side of my game. This was also huge, I believed, in avoiding “the crash.” And since a crash would involve everything getting fucked up and us not winning the state title, no movie, I aimed to become one funny kid. Do anything to avoid the crash, all of us, dental floss. This week we’d also first hear about a country Somalia. It was almost 1993 and change was in the air. I was a Junior in high school, upper class, varsity basketball, well should be…
The 1st day of practice Junior Year:
It all came down to this. Varsity selection, this precious next five-minute span would define for me, Magic, and Goldy. I played varsity for half the year last season but that was last year and you never knew. It was a big honor to play varsity for almost three years. I almost cried right there thinking about that, my smiling mother my hope my pride and my sister, my proud father. Maybe it’s not that bad Finally something to really root for me outside of the bare basics, these would be my mother’s nightly prayers, she prayed for all of us, YG included without a doubt, nightly basis.
Ace is going well, I feel good. I’ve grown and ate and slept this shit since jump. I’m the best defender in the gym, well, outside of Kevin Nolen Terrance standing next to me elbow nudges. Hides the smile like he thinks we’ll both be in that circle momentarily. The logic of it all calmed me as I tried to name all the people I knew whose name begun with the letter C. And even though I felt good about ACE and getting to spend time with Coach Sullivan and the Big Guy, this was all business. The best thing I had going for me was that I stayed out of trouble of fall. My heart beat frantically screaming, “gotta pick me yo gotta pick me yo gotta pick me! Chris, Carly, Carl, Carey, Clyde, Cliff, Costello, Claus on the Santa tip, Charlie…” It was three o'clock after school and my stomach was shaking with real life butterflies tickling my heart rate to jump! On a brighter note I was pimped out in the new line of AHS practice gear. My socks, as always, were immaculate and folded over twice like Jordan's. Elastic bands curled my wrists with a stick of Juicy Fruit gum munching against my braceless choppers. Yo if you look fly inherently your performance follows suit During the mid eighties a very cool t-shirt was given to the varsity. To us it would, through the passage of years, become a collector’s item. It was navy blue with an actual revolutionary Astori Minuteman standing in a defensive stance with a musket over his shoulders. Standing right in the middle of the town's historic green the caption beneath read “Astori, where the defense began. The Big Guy like Astori predicates his landscape on defense. Only Rashad, Kevin and Darren were standing in the middle of the court, within the “I'm on the team” players nest behind the Big Guy. We had lost that many seniors that the rest of the team outside of these three is up in the air. It’s why we were barely ranked pre-season in the top twenty after appearing in the semi finals, which was a rarity. Slowly the Big Guy paTROLLED back and forth eyeing effusively the many players that had waited their whole lives for this one defining moment. That moment only to be accepted into the sacred culture of Astori varsity basketball under the astounding tutelage of the Big Guy. The Big Guy takes his time. He knew we were squirming and you know what? He loved it. I loved it. The first step in his process. A guaranteed winner I would have taken my time as well. Our new vertical addition Stretch was the first to be plucked from the lines of normalcy. The Big Guy in his dark monotone would point an additional tiny upward yank of the head and you're in. The Big Guy loved to hear himself speak almost as much as me. I had learned that in the ACE program despite my inclinations. However in a moment like this he had little to say. Santo greets Stretch as the only Young Gun pre-programmed behind the Big Guy due to his year status on varsity last year. Next John “Wellsy” Wells as chosen followed by freshmen (Sophomore) Brek Kohler (need some background on Wells and Kohler here. We haven’t heard much about Wells or anyting about Brek at this point and you need to explain why they are picked ahead of you, Mike, Goldy, etc., Now I’m starting to bug, Yo don't make me look like a punk please Jesus hello? Fucking just be cool and take me next. I'm nasty and it shouldn't be that hard of a decision besides dude, I've been in your program all fall, just take me, Jesus where you at?! “Cahl” he was all business and looking directly into my eyes. All time calms and washes over me. On this day the Big Guy would not disappoint the kid. He shot me the nod and I coolly stepped towards the crow’s nest and gave soft pounds to my newfound varsity teammates. Saying what's up to Rashad on the court felt like Tim Hardaway. Fudge’s younger brother we should have called him Nestles Dark. Rashad was the favorite to win league MVP and perhaps player of the year as he had a year prior. Rashad had white veins ripping through his black shoulders. People get these stretch marks when their muscles rip themselves apart so much from there own accord that actual scars appear on the surface of the skin. If you see a brother with stretch marks (white dudes cant get that shit) then you know that brother is a ripped SOB. Spec was selected and so was Magic but not before the Big Guy, in a not so fast political power play, placed Magic on JV. Develop this more, foreshadow the cool relationship they had and how Farias was on Mike’s head like no one else ever was or ever has been. I watched Magic, astonished, walk over to that chump JV sideline towards Coach Gibbs. “this is bullshit.” I read his lips. Coach Gibb’s agreed. I kind of laughed internally, instinctively, the ever favorite, ‘glad that wasn’t me” percolated a brewery of security within my sphere. Now that I had made the team I could immediately begin making fun of the players that didn‘t, it was like virginity. Better be quick because ten minutes later Magic was placed on the team. My next big concern even before our first tap drill, was how much press would I get in Thursday musket when they ran the Astori High Scholl boys basketball preview. Growing up my favorite part of every season was reading the Musket’s preview of the team. The first practice was a success. I thought we were tough. That Thursday the Musket was released including the annual basketball preview to be mulled over by me, my sister my Mom, players, their parents and fans. After reading the preview we all had a moment. I got some ink as did a few YG, Santo got his picture in the paper. That was always big. I couldn’t believe it, the paper said I was going to be receiving a significant boost to my varsity minutes as the primary spell for Kevin off the bench. Santo would start, Stretch would start, Wellsy would start, Goldy, Magic, myself would compete for minutes, Terrance was also on the team. A moment of clarity again as it appeared that my mother knows what I've been planning this whole time (click). She read about my friends and finally (I think) looks like she understands why we beat each other up like we do without ever coming up for air. Not because we hated each other, but because we respected each other in a very fucked up way. We beat the shit out of each other physically and even more verbally because we loved the game as much as one possibly could. Emotions like that are going to register some volatility. All of those little-league games we spit in each other's mugs. All those games on the weekends when we’d come home crying and bloody cursing our best dawgs, she now understands. Were going to win a state high school championship and finally people will take notice. A lot of my mothers panic hastened in that she thinks I might be OK. Santo, the lucky dawg, got his picture on the cover of the paper practicing in argyle socks. This prompted the Big Guy the next day in ACE reviewing the article and photo to bellow, “Yo who the heck is going to practice in socks like those?” and then a five second pause on account of bafflement before rekindling his voice and finishing his statement, “what a joke.” The Young Guns getting press. Of course with the Big Guy it was always an on going commentary, “Carl it looks like you and your friends are all the same, idiots. We’re going to have a good season if this center’s any good. Eh anytime I bring up your name anywhere it gets this big reaction, and I’m not saying that’s good, why is that?” “I don’t know” I reply astonished “Yeah well you better figure it out. You don’t smoke banana’s do you?” “No” “Good your already a bananna” And just like that it was on. Make no mistake about it our time was upon us, I felt like a chosen disciple of Confucius, I was wise, ready and built for the task. Coach Sullivan thought we’d be OK, everyone was curious about Stretch; was he a big time player or all hype? Basketball players from other parts were forever overhyped when arriving at your typical high school. My mother helped me focus during the season. Dana was my cheerleader, she had to, it was her senior year our last year in school ever together. Our first game was Tuesday and it was a monster. We had faired well in our Jambori, an elite invitation with Cambridge Rindge & Latin, Durfee, New Bedford, Salem and us. The most sought after Jambori in the state. I guarded Michael Edwards straight up, or so my father felt, I picked him once, my dad couldn’t believe it. Michael Edwards was a division one product, his brother scored the most points in the history of MIA MASS basketball. His brother went to Boston College on a full ride, played BABC. It gave me confidence and that’s why the Big guy always loved to play the best. “One way or the other we’ll know what we got.” He’d say. Our first game was a week away and it was a big one, a headliner on the road against Belmont. They were favored to win the league and ranked highly in the Boston Globe’s top 320. It was on the road and we weren’t sure what we had, this would let us know. Yo I fucken love this shit It was basketball season, this was everything, YG will play heavily into the success or not of this team. This had become a bit of a rivalry even though Lexington had dominated the league for every decade. Consequently both of the city majors the Globe, Herald along with assorted local publications came to cover it. We limped in with assorted question marks twined and feathered to much lower then usual expectations. A first game rout of the rebuilding dynasty would set the tone for the league, conference and finally the state. Understanding the hype and the story line I prayed only to see some action. Beyond the reporters, blow jobs, slinky web of stardom, scholarships and glory was my little script that one knew about. My legendary pursuit and movie in the making I wasn’t scared and was coming off a great nights rest. The Boston Globe reluctantly placed us in the top twenty; we were still Lexington and we still had Rashad. But Kevin was a question mark, Stretch was a question mark, Santo starting, Wellsy an inexperienced bench. The league knew very little from us and to the naked eye our lack of exposure and scrony bodies deflated any expectation especially after last season, what a year. This year might be the start of a bigger correction i.e. a piece of the time frame regarded as a down time in the impeccable annals of Astori basketball history. The Big Guy even admitted in the high school paper, The Musket, that he had no idea what to expect Game 1, at Belington: The mirror. The best part of game days for me was the varsity mandatory game day dress codes. This was some throw back in the day shit still breathing in the stale odor of a fundamental loss of core beliefs that the early nineties represented. The shirt and the tie like my once proud UNLV team hat symbolized something. It resonated with me and made me feel like I belonged to something greater than just the whack ass race of white people. Strutting around school like pimps I loved the well wishing, loved the buzz I'm part of this team yo! This shit is so ill. Just like I always knew it would be. The school is psyched that the crazy ass hoops season is about to begin for another legendary season Smiling ear to ear throughout the day it felt good to see every adult because one way or the other I always got some sort of reaction, it felt good to see them look upon me in a fashionable (to them) and encouraging way. I couldn’t explain what I might do tonight besides the fact that I wanted to dive on the floor, eat a loose ball and bleed. My thoughts on that inaugural day had nothing (as usual) to do with school merit. However, they also had nothing to do with the dumb shit. I could care less about money, gambling or credit cards. It all became so secondary next to being with my boys embarking on our vision and feeling good about thriving in what we loved. A vision I knew that we were as prepared for more than any set of kids in the history of America. Tonight we were heavy underdogs and I reveled in my hate amongst all others besides us. Our biggest question mark was almost seven feet and all day he appeared loose and lucid. Belmont was a choice or marquee place to live much like Astori minus the revolution. It had tremendous college like facilities. Yo Their school grounds are attractive I must admit Set on top of a small pond their gymnasium is fit for a division one-college team. It seats two three thousand easy, tonight it’s jammed and its state of the art unlike are classic old school arena. No talking on the bus meant focus and pulling up, game time. I felt like I had finally arrived. Walking past a cute blonde Belington cheerleader I thought, “yo how phat are our jump suits? I know these girls think we look good. Imagine if they knew how much I don’t give a fuck? What a dancer I’m?” The place was overflowed. I was also thinking upon entering and the sizzling hype permeated every fiber in your body, I thought how proud Mazzy would be of me tonight watching her boy play a supporting role in an event that was locally revered in an historical town. As I looked around I’m sayen this is sensational, dazzling, euphoric! Each town has an equal number of fans and chants are being blasted back and forth. There is electricity in the air. Watching Rashad warm up and Kevin loose and joking I feel bad that Rashad is the one with all the pressure on him. He’s the only one that has been here before. We certainly don’t know what the fuck to do This was his senior year, his last mission. He needs to provide us with direction. In front of three thousand people with a bunch of unproven maniacs by his side his reputation was on the line and his highly anticipated senior year was about to start. College coaches cramp in already Honk Kong scene, god, good luck Diamond There were huge state title expectations in Belmont. The noise was loud and the pressure of years potentially wasted was heavy and something better blocked out. Before the tip a fanatical trying to be classic and failing student from Belington ran on the court with a mask and a dummy Astori Minuteman hanging by its neck from a stick. He ripped the head off of the stuffed Minuteman. “What Cocksuckers” I whisper angrily to myself. I’m erupting with hate. This punk received a loud cheer and proceeded to run out of the exit door right behind our bench. As he swiftly glides right in front of my chin I perk up about an inch and launch a green lugy on his neck. The Big Guy sees this and darts a cold glare in my direction but surprisingly didn’t say a word. I pat Santo on the butt and tell him not to be nervous. I tell him to just to play his game. Ace Palmer was their 6-8 center, on his way to Dartmouth and was the talk of the league. His brother was already making big noise in college basketball on a national level. Ace was a lock all-star and possibly even league MVP. Tonight he was matched up against Stretch in his first start in an AHS uniform. Their point guard Mark Mulvey a fried of Rashad’s off the court was also in the MVP running. The floor was littered with scholarship basketball talent. All settle, the starting fives are announced the game was about to begin. I knew in my head that my record for when I dressed for varsity games was 12-1. Game 1, Junior Year, I had to be prepared for minutes. Had to focus, say a quick prayer. As soon as the ball is thrown in the air for the opening tip I feel removed from the set. Absorbing the atmosphere and slowly digesting the fact that all of these people are here to see us I suddenly feel like this has to be one of the few areas in currently functioning on such a classic level. I can’t think of many sixteen year-olds in America that could’ve ever had a better seat anywhere for anything than the one I have right at that moment. Game on: Boom Stretch wins the tap. “Dam did he get up.” I elbow poke Magic poignancy. The opening tip is controlled to Rashad who rockets the ball down the sideline to Kevin who broke long just like they used to do on the gridiron. Kevin catches the ball over his head like Willy Mays. Kevin secures the rock over his head and begins a blazing dribble towards the rim. He then, comes to a screeching halt just beyond the three point lines humping arch. “Take it top the h0le!” You can here the Big Shout as the ball is fired. Together from the bench we watched the bucket bury itself, silly. “Whew!” I stand and hug Magic Man as the AHS section erupts itself in loving bliss and the scantly Belmont majority sits hushed in vast astonishment cause we’re up three nothing. Meanwhile, Kevin Nolen who came up firing and hungry was trotting back to half court at about a half a mile a day clip. He’s laughing to himself almost like he’s saying to himself, “I still got it.” See the Big Guy’s rule is that he’d never tell you not to shoot. “But if it doesn’t go in I might take you out.” At halftime, and it was a game. Stretch didn’t flop, he was battling, impressing us all. Rashad was Rashad and Kevin was on fire. We led for stretches. On the road, game 1, Belmont had received all the press from Middlesex, an anomaly, were they for real? It was an exciting halftime. We were still at the end of the day the reining champions. This game came down to the wire. And with all of that said we lost in the final moments, but had some chances to win it. We sat in the locker room in frightened silence because the Big Guy said he wanted to sit and watch us think about the game tonight. A couple seconds later he said, “OK.” You could tell he was psyched. Walking out of the gym I’m not as mad as I think I should be after recognizing the Big Guys countenance as a supremely good one. It was a hard fought loss. But his biggest question was answered, Sean “Stretch” Groer was a big time player. After tonight you could make an argument Kevin and Rashad were one of the states best backcourts. Stretch in front of an intimidating audience out played the heralded Ace Palmer of Belmont up and down the court all night. The game was much different than the perceived blow out that we had read about all week. This was a tooth and nail struggle. Kevin hadn’t shot a basketball since July before the first week of practice. Tonight he buried threes from all over the place. The first shot was one of the most classic things I’d ever seen. The place was a mad house. I even checked in and within limited time the kid recorded four points, three rebounds, two steals and a foul. It was an amazing night at the house, the good moments were so tight. We all slept optimistic and happy, I loved my mother and sister so much. The Next Day: The Big Guy gave me a number of props in a spirited ACE that was very different than the often talked about urban legend of what ACE was like the day after a loss. “You made every shot you took, Eh, I was proud of you, you got in there and did your job last night.” Yeah boyee! I always remembered in exact preciseness my own stats. I've already had a cup of tea with the varsity. I’m looking to expand my role. We lost the game by one point and the Big Guy shockingly wasn’t that mad. He doesn’t even yell until we reach the bus. Scolding Rashad for acting what he called “a big hot dog” and me to “shut up.” But our real excitement was the same he shared, after tonight’s game we all knew we had a much different squad. I wasn’t scared and thought this was the year. The Big Guy told us after the game that basketball in Astori didn’t rebuild it reloaded and then he told Coach Gibbs “Gibbsy got a marker, make a sign and hang it.” Santo and Stretch fortified a frontal attack that much like a winning ground campaign on the gridiron set the all important physical tone of the game. They were skinny but spastic leapers using hunger as fuel. Santo stepped right into his new starting role without any hesitation and brought substance to the table. He literally was all over the place that night. I loved ADD and felt it to be an asset as opposed to a detriment for all of us. Ok, now the real biggest story though. Stretch is unbelievable That’s all I have to say about that and there will of course be no decline of hoops in Lexington. Underdogs no longer Magic spelled Rashad with much needed rest and Wellsy checked in and made worthwhile contributions. I on the other hand went in and kinda just tied everything together like Luke in Jedi yo. I feel like the Young Guns had arrived. Rashad had about twenty-eight points to Kevin’s twenty-five but we were the life of the game, the intangibles. Never the less it was a tough loss and we were 0-1. We just didn’t know we were that good.