Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Things Are Getting Real in SUTHEFREEKA

Before we begin, a quick diversion into the world of cars. Do you consider auto racing a sport? What about just normal driving, in rush hour traffic?

For two summers in college, I manned one of the most boring desk jobs imaginable at the Department of Labor in Albany, New York. A lot of people say they do nothing at work; I often say that even today, in fact. But it's rarely true. I have some responsibilities, and at least part of my day is occupied (ruined) by the runnings of the office. But up in Albany, I did not do shit. I had to actively try to find something to occupy myself.

Once, I tried to see how long I could go without doing anything. Literally nothing. I made it three weeks. And keep in mind, I only worked at this place for three months at a time between school. That was about 33% of my summer, collecting state money for jack shit. I remember one horrible day when I had to give a status report in a meeting, and just spouted bullshit for five minutes about some workforce management project I was kinda supposed to be working on. Afterward, the boss actually said he was proud of my work. I've never felt more ashamed.

Anyway, the worst and best part was the commute between Albany and Saratoga. It took a half hour or so in the morning, an hour in the afternoon. It sucked, obviously. But I also learned to be a pretty kickass rush hour driver. I hated my job so much that I felt this compulsive need to hold on to youth. Therefore, I didn't pause for even a moment to consider consequences before taking insane risks. If I happened to sustain a fender bender, or flip over into a ditch, it would've been one of the better moments of my summer. So I'd make three-lane changes, accelerate into spaces barely the size of my car, and go well above the speed limit when the option was available. Somehow, I never crashed or got a ticket. That's completely down to luck- I was good, but also idiotic.

And really, the most it ever saved me was like ten minutes. Which I would then use to screw around on the computer (remember AIM? Boy, those were the days!), get yelled at by my mother for something, worry about a variety of girls I thought I was in love with, and feel bad that I wasn't doing something more productive. Drive faster! You'd hate to miss that!

(I like that they framed that photo. "Hmm, it's a nice picture depicting a driver who might be irate or triumphant, but I feel it's missing something...plus, we have to give Miguel his props for the sweet work...')

Anyway, the girlfriend and I got a car a few months ago, and driving in New York City has re-activated those atavistic instincts. Unlike me, the gf is super cautious. However, she still fancies herself a strong driver. Over time, we created a special feat to test our skills. It's called the 'Gowanus Run,' and it involves going from our place on 16th street* up to Atlantic Avenue (about 25 blocks) without getting stopped by a red light (we named it after the Gowanus Canal, a disgusting little 'body of water' near us that you can apparently catch gonorrhea from if you jump in naked). It's difficult under normal conditions, but during rush hour it's almost impossible, even with staggered light changes.

*Those of you plotting to kill me now have a great clue. Act fast, though, I'm only around for another month.

This morning, she was driving, and things looked good. You have to get a little lucky with the Gowanus Run. Good driving can only take you so far; if there are two buses side by side, or a slow-driving dumbass toddling around in his pick-up truck, or an asshole cabbie wildly switching lanes at the wrong time, you're screwed. Today, it started out well. Light traffic, good luck with the lights, and she was at the top of her game.

Still, a rush-hour Gowanus run had never been done before. The streets went by, and it was like a perfect game unfolding- nobody wanted to say anything. Finally, we made it to Bergen, then Dean, then Pacific. One more street. Atlantic on the horizon. The little crosswalk hand was flashing. The light would turn red soon. I couldn't hold it in anymore. "You're going for the record!" I shouted. "Step on it!"

Then the light turned orange. "You have to go!" I yelled. She understood the moment, and made the uncharacteristic move of throwing caution to the wind. Her foot hit the gas, and she turned hard on the yellow. The cops stayed put, the pedestrians didn't get hit. VICTORY! THE GOWANUS RUN! The man in the crosswalk gave me an odd look when I cheered in his face.

Then, unbelievably, she also made the Atlantic run. We were all the way on Adams Street, approaching the Brooklyn Bridge, before the light got us. A truly fantastic morning drive. It's a record that may never be broken. Unless...unless...someone makes the mythical Brooklyn Run. An entire borough, no reds.

Well that story got long. Luckily, I don't have much to talk about. Let's hit the main points:

*AJ still sucks. The word from the experts is that his mechanics are off, and he has trouble finding the muscle memory to repeat his most effective delivery over and over. There's even word that the absence of Dave Eiland, our much maligned pitching coach, is having a negative effect. Never thought I'd hear that one.

*The dismantling of Hughes as an effective starting pitcher has begun.

*Robbie Cano reached 100 hits last night. He's the fourth-fastest Yankee to do so since the Steinbrenner era began in 1973.

*FIFA is 'very, very satisfied' with the referee situation. In related news, Roger Clemens is very, very satisfied with his recent sexual performance.

*At 10am this morning, the third matches in World Cup group play begin. France is desperate for a win against South Africa (so desperate, apparently, that they can't be bothered to practice), and Mexico faces Uruguay in a win-and-in situation for both. These games go off at the same time so no team can gain a distinct advantage by knowing other results ahead of time. It would take a miracle for the hosts to advance, but I hope it happens.

*Has anybody else been seeing the awesome World Cup posters on bus stops around New York? ESPN outsourced them to an ad agency in the city, and they're pretty cool. This website has the posters for all 32 countries. Denmark, Slovenia, Greece, and Switzerland. The US one is pretty cool too. I'll post that below, and will be back later with some chatter about Federer's first round scare, and more World Cup.

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