The Rest of the Best of 2016

Favorite Moments of 2016

1. The Chicago Cubs won the World Series. Being in Wrigleyville during the series. Being at the parade. Pure emotion. Being with Jordan when they won. Eamus Catuli switching to all zeroes. Not quite giving up hope when it seemed all but over MULTIPLE times. Continuing to ride that wave.

Katie Nixon and I near the seventh largest gathering in human history.

2. Meeting Bruce Springsteen the day before my birthday. Also, his show at United Center on August 28. Magic in the night.

3. The Hold Steady: Reunite with Franz Nicolay, play a bunch of really awesome shows behind my favorite album of all time. The Frenchkiss reissues of AKM and Sep Sunday. Lifter Puller twice in one year, including the opportunity to stand on stage at Red Rocks. Denver meh, Chicago good and New York was wonderful but I could have done without the concussion. Great openers: Titus Andronicus, Laura Stevenson (so nice!) and Lifter Puller. Nights go on forever and guitars are cool.

4. Nashville visits, March-August (Just a few: recording in the Third Man Booth, all the food, Infinity Cat House, Doom, Tim buys a guitar, City Winery, meeting Daddy Issues and Diarrhea Planet, and pretty much everyone that made my time there awesome.)

Hanging with Emmett and Evan from Diarrhea Planet.

5. More travel: Austin, TX trip with my Mom. Hanging in Boston and candlepin bowling with some of my best people and Vineyard Youth in Pawtucket, RI. Additionally, anyone who came to visit me and had a good time.

6. Health and wellness: PRing my third 5K on the October 30 Hot Chocolate Run. Exercising regularly for the first time in my life. Reading the most books this year than I’ve read in a decade.

7. Personal: Getting the opportunity to write for Men’s Journal and interviewing Dolph Ziggler, Chad Gable, Hot Doug and Andrew Wyslotsky.

My team beat his in the World Series. I ain’t sorry.


8. Wrestling: American Alpha winning the NXT and WWE Smackdown Tag Team titles in the same year (all of the great wrestling this year, seriously.) Owens and Zayn at Payback in a total mindblower. Zayn and Nakamura at Takeover Dallas. DIY and Revival at Takeover Toronto. Meeting Jerry Lawler randomly in Memphis inside his restaurant and being able to tell him we shared a birthday.

9. Food: Qui, Parachute, Rolf and Daughters, Husk, Mitchell’s Delicatessen, Maketto, Pinewood Social, Row 34, Mission Chinese and a ton I’m missing.

10. Trash Pandas releases two EP’s and having involvement in them. They make me laugh and proud I did a thing that’s out in the world.

Shows

I saw 37 shows this year. Take a look.

Everything I Listened To

I made a playlist for every month this year of everything I listened to individually (excluding albums). Check it out.

The Chicago Cubs Won the World Series

The Chicago Cubs won the World Series.

I have been repeating this to myself since Wednesday just to make sure it’s real. It can’t possibly be. But it is. They went to the World Series, were down three games to one, and won. This team won a championship for the first time in 108 years. There are so many ways and historical benchmarks to point to in just how long that is. There is no way to describe what it’s like to root for a team that literally never won, has never gone to the World Series in your lifetime (or in the lifetime of anyone under 71), and do it. I remember 1998. I remember 2003. I remember 2007 and 2008. Last year, too. This year had to be more of the same, right?

img_1845No. It wasn’t.

Sure, they were competing some years, frustratingly, sometimes epically bowing out when they really needed to win. More than the Boston wins, more than the White Sox win, the Cubs World Series win challenges what you know about, well, anything. How do you even make sense of something that just feels purely wonderful when you’re predisposed to expect the worst?

Neither of my parents are sports fans. I came to baseball when I was seventeen, around the time of the Cubs 2003 playoff run. It was thrilling – six outs from the World Series before the collapse. But that didn’t break my heart. Game 7 did. I remember being hopeful the next morning after Game 6 and Steve Rizzo painfully contorting his face and saying “no, you don’t understand, it’s over.” I didn’t want to believe it. He was right. They lost 9-6.

img_1954-jpgWhen I got my first apartment in college, I lived a mile from Wrigley Field. I could see it out my window. My school offered discount bleacher tickets through the newspaper, and I’d go more than a few times and soak up the atmosphere – this was the early Lou Pinella team. Ted Lilly was my guy, basically on the premise that he inexplicably signed on with the Cubs after Toronto offered him an identical deal to stay there. He declined, citing a “change of scenery”, but that’s just because he got in a fight with the Blue Jays manager. That’s beside the point. His actual full name is Theodore Roosevelt Lilly III, which is just ridiculous. He’s still the only individual player I own a shirt for. Apparently he’s a Special Assistant to the President/General Manager so I think that means he probably gets a ring. Amazing.

Portrait of a young Jordan at 13.

Portrait of a young Jordan at 13.

That was almost the fun of being a fan. Through the playoff run, Jordan, who has loved the Cubs since I have known him, just texted each other names of Cubs of years past that we knew better for their funny names or terrible play. How would the team pull defeat from the jaws of victory this time? During the rollercoaster of Game 7, a masterpiece if there ever was one, maybe the greatest game ever – no, fuck it – DEFINITELY the greatest game ever, I felt stricken after the two run homer to tie.

But then they bounced back in the tenth after the rain delay. I jumped into Jordan’s arms not unlike Jason Varitek did into Jonathan Papelbon’s arms when the Red Sox won in 2007. We looked at each other in disbelief. This World Series victory is for everyone who ever cared about the team. Die hard, bandwagon or lapsed. It’s a feel-good story by a team that was so fun to watch. With the Bryant to Rizzo final out, every disappointment we had about the Cubs and what we thought knew about them evaporated, leaving nothing but unbridled joy.

There are so many more words and things I could say about this. Baseball is a sport that you can access on so many different levels. If you want to obsess about the history like me, that’s all available. If you like stats, you can do that. If you don’t get any of it, watching players hit baseballs into the stands or watching a guy masterfully throw pitches that dudes whiff on is your thing, go nuts. You don’t have to be totally invested if you don’t want to. The Cubs have always been a great example of that.

But now, somehow, improbably, we are on the other side of that. Of course, this team was built to accomplish this specific goal, but it doesn’t mean anything unless there’s the follow through. The Cubs are champions, and for future generations, it won’t carry that same desperation and crushing feeling of failure. Maybe they’ll win more championships in the next few years, and fans will complain about their dominance. Maybe they never win another and the 2016 Cubs will turn into this generation’s version of the 1985 Bears – one magical team surrounded with a few years of really good teams.

Whatever happens, there will always be 2016. A year that’s just wrought with so much horrible shit and an election that never seems like it’s going to end also contains a World Series between two teams that never won and they captivated us until the final moment (and then some). They really didn’t win that game as much as they didn’t lose it. The margin of error in the 10th was either get the out, or have the other guys swing a bat into the record books. It’s amazing as something as simple as a game can make a person so happy.

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-4-02-12-pmWalking around Chicago and seeing all of the hats and shirts and jerseys has been remarkable. We’re all sharing in this one moment together. Even Steve Rizzo, who I haven’t seen in a decade, has checked in: “This is unbelievable.” It’s uniting generations, giving us reasons to celebrate those who didn’t quite make it to see this moment, and turning what we know to be real and true about something as escapist as a baseball team on its head. Enjoy the moment as long as you can and cut out the outside noise. Even if the Cubs win the World Series again, it will never be quite the same as this. It couldn’t be. It’s a singular moment that comes once in a generation. I am so grateful I lived to see it and be part of it.

Obviate 808: Outpost State – I Hate Baseball

fred.pngWe here at obviate met Fred Carlos by chance at last year’s Lollapalooza during Ted Leo’s set. He traveled from Hawaii to the festival. Yeah. Real far. Since then, he’s become a good friend to us as well as a fierce critic of just about everything imaginable.

Naturally, we offered him a chance to spew his wrath on the unsuspecting public with a column he titled ‘Obviate 808: Outpost State’.

Really, he just wanted us to write this so we could include that he’s an ‘affirmative action hire for obviate to fill up the non hispanic/black/asian minority’.

He said that. Not us.

Without further adieu, ladies and gentlemen…Fred Carlos.

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Obviate 808: Outpost State by Fred Carlos

“I’m going to say some basketball player or some football player is my role model? That’s an insult to my mother, who scrubbed floors. That’s an insult to my father, who picked up junk in the alleys and preached on Sundays!”

-Mr. T (A.V. Club interview 1993)

So yeah, fuck baseball. There I said it. Fuck baseball. This the last season I try to understand what the fuck is so exciting about American cricket. No longer will I nervously fidget as I sit around with my white mainland expatriate friends, wondering if I should say something like “Getting Johann was HUGE”, without actually knowing what the fuck that meant, and wondering if I know another Hispanic named Johann. On the other hand I could see myself spending the rest of my life arguing, analyzing, and perpetuating this last vestige of colonial rule with friends and family:


I’m sure your natural reaction will be one of the following extremes:

“What an UNAMERICAN thing to say Fred! We should send your immigrant ass to an undisclosed location, hold you indefinitely without a warrant, and tie you down to a board and pour water down your throat until you reveal everyone else holding these terrorist thoughts.”

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Lou Gehrig

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Jackie Robinson

“You just don’t understand Fred. There’s a history, a science to this game, that might take a lifetime to understand. A family can support the same team generation after generation regardless of record. A team becomes ingrained with the cultural identity of a city, members of it’s roster becoming modern day heroes, for bringing pride in their performance as consummate professionals, at well as displaying class and an indefatigable drive to compete and succeed through hard word and determination. Baseball’s history and it’s players encapsulate all of the ideals that brought social equity and economic success in the United States.”

I say fuck all of that. If there are four generations of fans waiting for a World Series, then you have four generations worth of chumps.

Maybe it’s because my state doesn’t have any NBA, NFL, NHL, or MLB teams that makes me feel uncomfortable with watching those sports. Maybe it’s because Judo was my preferred sport/hobby in high school. Maybe it’s all that hardcore I listened to at an impressionable age. Or maybe it was when my classmate Takashi, a Japanese expatriate/fellow nerd, who handed me my first Pride video in AP U.S. History. All I know is when I first saw Bob Sapp tap out to a man who weighed two hundred pounds less than him in front of a stadium, I knew I was hooked.

You know what else has a long storied history? One that knows no cultural, racial and social boundaries. You like science in your past time? You like tradition? Well let me show you the face of freedom.

UFC Lightweight Champ BJ Penn

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BJ “The Prodigy” Penn Vs. Joe “Daddy” Stevenson

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What do you see? I see a Hawaiian man promoting the Kau Inoa movement for Hawaiian recognition/sovereignty the best way he knows how, hurting white people until they get it. If you see a barbaric display of testosterone, then you drink tea with this man and his friends.

Watch this.

This man is a Member of Parliament representing Zagreb and a former member of Croatia’s counter-terrorist task force. You heard me right. Member of fucking Croatian Parliament and a cop. Hence the nick name CroCop.

This guy has a masters in mathematics and taught high school Algebra. (I’ve had a beer with a couple of Mr. Rich Franklin’s students and they claimed he was super laid back.)

Have a problem with your network? Ask these guys. The used to be IT directors. They are Joe Lauzon and Elvis Sinosic.

The summer sports doldrums will soon be here much to the dismay of my beer swillin’ brethren. The Olympics doesn’t have much to offer in terms of excitability to the point worth brawling here in U.S., but it does give me an opportunity to turn a few of your hipster heads to an alternative. Attention haircuts/hipster douchebags, if you feel the need to intellectualize/wax philosophic endlessly about a sport this summer without feeling emasculated then try MMA out. Do it quickly though since two of the major promotions netted network deals (Elite XC with CBS and StrikeForce with NBC) and we all know how you feel about things coming out of obscurity. If you feel better this guy loves it too:

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Douchebag.

This is slightly reassuring…

Reading on this article. The eighth question from the bottom says that the marquee at Wrigley Field is protected by the Chicago City Council’s landmark status, so it would be legally difficult to change the actual marquee outside of Wrigley if the naming rights are sold.

…and this. Cheech is the man.

Getcha’ Popcorn Ready!

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It’s a big day over here at obviate.

That’s right.

Ted Lilly has his 2008 debut for the Cubs today against the Brewers. After a suprisingly good season last year (he was the most consistent Cubs pitcher all year) the man is prime for his true breakout season.

His parents had the balls to give him the middle name “Roosevelt”. Theodore Roosevelt Lilly. How sweet is that?

He beat up his manager on the Blue Jays and then signed with the Cubs even though the Blue Jays offered him the same exact deal.

I firmly beleive that this is the man’s season. Come October, he will be the 2008 National League Cy Young Winner. Why? He’s a pitbull.

To read more about the man, the myth, the big 3-0, click here.

Jeff “MILW was a bad choice” Suppan doesn’t stand a chance.