The Boys are Leaving Town (or Part II)

Monday, January 25, 2010 10:26 AM PT – Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

This is easily the most gorgeous place I’ve ever seen in my life. Nothing can beat it.

The Sea To Sky highway contains the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever experienced. It makes you appreciate things in an entirely different way. I cannot believe what I am seeing.  The mountains are impossibly huge – it looks like some serious “Avatar” CG, but then you’re snapped back to reality and that this is all actually REAL. The pine trees roll forever, the water is impossibly so crisp and blue. Nestled at the end of this majesty is downtown Vancouver. I can’t figure out how to capture this in words, but it’s so unbelievably huge and majestic, I just want everyone I’ve ever cared about to magically be transported there, right by the point where we stopped the car and got out in the rain.

Whistler is a ski town with an incredible amount of snow, considering it’s relatively temperate in Vancouver. It took us two hours to get there, ten minutes to walk around (we weren’t skiing) and then went down the mountains and stopped at Tim Horton’s (the Dunkin’ Donuts of Canada) and McDonalds. McDonalds BBQ sauce in Canada is VERY different and still delicious. Also, I somehow got charged $119 for gas in Canada despite spending $31.02 Canadian ($29.11 USD). Called the bank, we’ll see how that pans out in a few days.

We attempted to go Granville Island (a market similar to Pike Place) but it was closed, went back to the sushi place, got my roll, then we went and got cupcakes and headed home. Pretty action packed day.

Friday, January 29, 2010 12:09 AM PT – Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

The last two days in Vancouver were relatively low key – the first I spent the morning and Lonsdale Quay, a marketplace about three blocks from Kelly’s. Aside from the standard tourist fare of t-shirts and other assorted trinkets for two floors, the bottom floor is your full-fledged market with just about anything you could ever want. For me, this meant sushi. I tried a BC Roll (BBQ Smoked Salmon) and then just kind of piddled around the market. Also, I tried an overly icy green apple smoothie from another stand in the market and it was ok at best. Then, I found ANOTHER sushi place called “Little Toyko” and found another Negitoro roll. Probably my favorite sushi roll of the moment. I spent the rest of the afternoon home on the internet, and staring out the window.

Seabus

After that, Kelly came home, and I took my first ever Seabus ride. The Seabus is pretty cool. It’s like a high speed….water bus. It’s a ten minute ride on Burrard Inlet where you can see a variety of ships on the shore. Really pleasant ride and makes for nice pictures. Anyways, we headed downtown to go to Earl’s for dinner. It ended up being ho-hum. In the meantime, we did some shopping at the Hudson Bay Company and I picked up my official Team Canada shirt. It’s pretty rad.

Olympic Countdown clock

The next day, I woke up an headed down to Little Tokyo for my last few sushi rolls (or so I thought at the moment). Then I took the Seabus by myself downtown. I spent a good part of my day locating “Sharks and Hammers,” a store which had a really great t-shirt that one of the dudes from Japandroids was wearing on Fallon. Ultimately, I decided I could not spend 35 bucks on a shirt, with my trip funds already dwindling.

Either way, I found my way around with a map and was proud of the fact that I’d successfully navigated a city, considering I’m terrible with maps. I darted back in forth between sushi places and Waves coffee, each of us getting nanaimo bars and a London Fog. Kelly and I ran some errands and ordered a really bad pizza, then got some snack food at the local grocery store for tomorrow as we’re off to Portland.

Saturday, January 30, 2010 6:36 PM PST – Seattle, Washington (Concerning Portland, Oregon)

Portland seems like a cool place to hang out, but no one really seems to live there. It’s got an incredibly small-town feel for being a major city. Kelly and I got up at 3 in the morning to depart for Portland from Vancouver – it’s approximately a five hour drive. We made crossed the border at about five, (relatively hassle free by our border guard who only asked a few questions). The drive felt really long, based on the fact that I only slept about two hours previous to it.

The city is remarkably quiet. We stayed at Hotel de Luxe, a renovated old place converted in to a golden age of Hollywood Boutique hotel. It’s unique in the fact that it’s one of four Provenance hotels – Boutique places with a major focus on customer service. The bed was great, super comfortable – and probably the only reason I’ve slept decently on this trip.

After checking in, we went to Powell’s Bookstore, a massive store that takes up an entire city block. Rooms are color coded by genre of book, and since I had a particular title in mind, I beelined it upstairs to find John Sellars “Perfect From Now On,” which to my understanding is an indie rock memoir. Kelly and I were pretty hungry, so we tracked down Portland’s premier (at least to us) Jewish Deli, Kenny and Zuke’s. The Pastrami was pretty great (albeit a bit dry), and the “South West Hominy” soup was pretty decent as well. A nice meal.

The crowning moment of our day in portland came with Living Room Theaters, a movie theater that specializes in smaller independent movies as well as older classic films. Kelly has been imploring me to watch Hitchcock’s “North By Northwest” for some time now. As it so was, the theater was actually showing an HD projection of it! The theater itself had nice, large reclining chairs, and gourmet food that you could eat in the theater. We settle for some chicken skewers, pita and hummus, and Kelly got a cheese plate. Well worth it.

The ODB and I.

Of course, Portland would have not been anything unless I talked about our trip to Voodoo Doughnut. Voodoo Doughnut is a sort of hole-in-the-wall punk rock donut place. They make more traditional fair like “The Marshall Mathers” (Cake donut with mini m&m’s and white frosting) to the ODB (Oreo cookie crumbles, frosting, drizzled with peanut butter.) Some of the best donuts I’ve tasted. So, so good.

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View over 200 photos of the entire trip here, and check back for more entries from the trip!

Rockers East Vancouver…and a bunch of other places

I recently returned from a two week, four city trip out west. I spent time primarily in Vancouver, British Columbia, Seattle, Portland and Minneapolis. In order to get there, I took an Amtrak train, since I don’t generally prefer to fly. Also, because it’s awesome.

Here are the first few days of my journals and photos.

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1/21/10 10:58 PM CST – Minneapolis, Minnesota

The sleeper car room is actually pretty cool. I don’t know how else to explain it other than it’s an oversized closet. There’s two seats on the bottom, then a top bunk that pulls down, a table in the middle that folds out so you can set drinks, computers or even play checkers with the checkerboard pattern built in. There’s a nice set of toiletries in a bag – soap, shampoo, etc, and and a box of Kleenex. It’s private and quiet. Happy to be in here.

1/22/10 7:24 AM CST – Rugby, North Dakota (approx.)

So, turns out a sleeper car is not entirely conductive to sleeping. I took a Tylenol PM last night to help aide me in napping, and instead, it just gave me these wild hallucinations you get from staying up too late with night time cough medicine. I just ended up tossing and turning a lot, and compulsively checking my phone and trying to find music on my iPod. I think I tried to turn on Brian Eno’s “Music for Airports” on several occasions. I don’t remember a lot of it, and that’s probably because I was really tired.

I dared to look out the window in the morning. If there’s one thing about the Dakota’s – at least North – there is absolutely nothing but land. Hardly any trees in site. I’m looking forward to Montana, seeing some mountains and feeling like we’re getting somewhere. The Midwest is like one big vacuum. I always thought it was special that Illinois didn’t have mountains. I always wished it did. It was always kind of a treat to see them. I haven’t seen any substantial western ones since I went to visit my grandfather in New Mexico ten years ago.

It being nearly seven thirty without a sunrise sort of freaks me out. I don’t really ever recall it being this dark out ever so late in the morning. It doesn’t even look like it’s coming up anytime soon.

Eating on the train has been an experience each time. To conserve space, they group you into fours at a table. Last night for dinner, it was me, two Minnesotan women in their fifties (likely) and a slightly larger college freshman girl going to visit her friend at Winona State University. The Minnesotan women were returning from a ski retreat in Michigan, and it seemed that they were generally interested in hearing about my Minnesotan girlfriend. The Winona girl tried out for American Idol in Chicago, making the second cut before she got eliminated. She attends UW Milwaukee.

This morning, I sat with two older men and this completely green-behind-the-ears kid traveling to Minot, ND from Fayettville, NC. He asked a lot of questions about politics, the underwear bomber and other stuff people don’t generally bring up in a conversation. The man next to me – whom I’ll call Jerry, because I don’t really remember his name – was a former band teacher in Manhattan. We talked about jazz and he told me about Gene Shepard and some other radio guy I can’t remember the name of.

Both the Minnesotan women and this man Jerry were very interested in talking about Apple. The man across from me was a machine parts repairer or something. He was from near Milwaukee. Nice enough people.

1/23/10 1:52 AM PT – Sandpoint, Idaho

I’m way past the expiration date on this train as we accidentally took a two hour break due to some wheel trouble. This was doubly aggravating, considering that no one was available on the train to talk to about this particular incident. I think I freaked myself out awake because of it.

Either way, I’m likely in Idaho now, waiting for one last stop before the final one hour and 45 minute trek to Spokane. I don’t anticipate being there anytime before 4 am, which means it’s about six am my time. Ugh.

There is one cool thing about this whole situation though. Being insulated by the mountains in this train car. I can’t necessarily see anything outside, mind you, but I feel like we are the pigs in a very big blanket. That’s kind of cool.

This woman that I met on the train along with this guy Liam who I met in Chicago (he effectively drank all the way from New Jersey to Montana.) Anyways, the woman wanted me to call her MA (for Mary Alice or Mary Ellis?). I don’t know. She had a new white MacBook and the first two Beatles Anthologies. She said being on this train was like it’s own little town. I liked that.

1/25/10 10:26 AM PT – Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

As Friday bled into Saturday and the train trip continued, we made a scheduled stop in Libby, Montana and ended up not leaving for over two hours. Turns out there was some issues with the wheels or the engines on the train that resulted us dropping an engine in Montana. I dozed off for an hour when we had stopped. When I woke up, I was slightly delirious, trying to find a conductor or an attendant for no luck. I was with this older woman named Nancy who was coming back from her mother’s funeral, and some older headstrong guy who claimed to be a former conductor. He was wearing a brace on his arm.

We got to Spokane two hours late. Kelly picked me up and we got to the hotel where we talked for a bit then got ready for bed. I was so amped up from the ride that I didn’t end up falling asleep until 5 AM PT (7 AM CT). Needless to say, after a few interrupted hours of sleep, I was still pretty tired.

With that, we set out on the road for Vancouver. First was a stop at Jack In The Box where I got a decent chicken sandwich and curly fries.

I’m amazed at how “not present” I feel on this trip. It was no different on our way back up to Vancouver. I found myself constantly in awe of the mountains, how big and frankly, perfect they looked. They weren’t like those on the east coast – these had more definition – pine trees, rockier cliffs. In the decent towards Seattle, these mountains bordered the water (which was impossibly blue) and were punctuated by great blue and grey cloudscapes. It’s truly Pacific Northwestern. There’s something so inherently free and open and goddamn clean about the whole thing. I just consistently can’t believe that this is my life at this moment.

Also, we stopped at a Starbucks on the way and i had my first London Fog, which was absolutely terrible. Subsequent ones since then have been much better. Don’t trust a Starbucks in it’s home state, it’s bound to disappoint.

After four hours of driving, Kelly and I decided to stop in Seattle for lunch. (This was a decision we weren’t sure we were going to make, as we had a scheduled White Denim concert at the Media Club that evening. Because of our 8 + hours of driving later, we didn’t end up going, but that didn’t deter us.

I don’t think that there’s a much better place to go for an introduction to Seattle other than Pike Place Market. It’s incredible. Kind of like a flea market on steroids, with fresh food. Also, it’s a complete sensory overload. Fresh fruit and veggies everywhere. The seafood is at every corner. I saw enormous shrimp for sale, so fresh that I just wanted to pick one up right off the ice. I saw the guys throw the fish at the Fish Market. There is so much going on in every corner of the market, it’s like a different world with each space. I’m excited to go back this weekend to discover it even more. With this little bit, Seattle seemed very, very livable. Hopefully next weekend does more to persuade me in that direction. Note:

It’s here I have had the biggest and some of the best sushi I’ve had. HUGE California rolls with REAL CRAB MEAT. Not the imitation stuff. Delicious.

(I should note, when we parked the car, we accidentally parked next to human feces. It’s very clear that it indeed was human feces, mainly because the person used a paper plate or some sort of paper product to wipe. It was pretty gross. It also prompted my mother to send me an email saying she saw some people doing crack by the market when my parents were in town there. Hilarious.

I took some of my best photos by the market – the sky seems tailored to for really vibrant photos. The colors are amazing at sunset.

After a few hours in Seattle, we decided to head back to Canada. This, on the last few trips I’ve made has always been my favorite thing: Crossing the border. This trip, it seemed a bit more labored. We were both kind of concerned crossing the border with an American passport and a Canadian one. Lucky for us, we didn’t have a lot of trouble.

First impressions of Vancouver: It’s probably the least Canadian city of the three major Canadian cities I’ve been to. Perhaps I feel like it’s more of an extenuation of what I saw in Seattle – but with a different flag and kilometer signs. It’s still pretty, but not in the ways I thought when I was entering. It seemed kind of ho-hum, but after the Sea To Sky Highway drive on Monday (more on that later) I got shut up pretty quick.

Sunday, we went downtown. First stop was a place called “Honey’s” that Kelly swears by. They have these gigantic, homemade donuts that were unlike any other donuts I’ve had before. They’re more mini cakes than anything. Delicious. We also had the “Coveman” breakfast, which was your standard eggs/bacon/potatoes with some amazing potato bread. Well worth it.

Going downtown on Sunday was cool enough. I liked the Hudson Bay Department Store with all of the Official Olympic Merch – kind of reminds me of a Canadian Marshall Fields – not Macy’s, natch.

We visited a couple of lackluster record stores, Gastown (nice steam clock), dodged into some decent coffee shops, stopped by the Amsterdam Cafe (The legal weed cafe. You can’t buy it, but you can smoke it there.) Not that it mattered.

At dinnertime, we met up with Kelly’s friend Tess, someone I have been a casual acquaintance with through messaging for a couple of weeks now. We went and got late night sushi at Shima Sushi. It was a great hole in the wall place that Kelly and I visited the next day after. I must put a Negitoro roll (Tuna belly and green onion) on my list of favorite rolls. Hopefully I can track it down when I get back. Probably – definitely – won’t taste the same.

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View over 200 photos of the entire trip here, and check back for more entries from the trip!

Thinking About Memphis

Surveying the landscape shortly after we arrived, one thing is clear: Besides the major attractions, this place is a complete ghost town. The amount of closed down shops and restaurants was astounding. It’s like everyone just up and left and forgot that there was actually a city. That said, the city’s attractions were still top notch.

Charles Vergos’ Rendevous: Legendary Memphis Barbeque place that’s been there since 1948. It was the first place we went to as soon as we got into town. It’s in an alley, and it has the best dry rub ribs you’ll ever have. See for yourself.

National Civil Rights Museum: after turning the corner at the former Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot in 1968, I couldn’t help but exhale really deeply. History hits you like a ton of bricks as soon as you see it. It looks eerily like that of the famous photographs of that day, right down to the same model of cars parked below the balcony. In the museum is as an exhaustive amount of information about the Civil Rights Movement, from it’s pre-America beginnings to the present. Curiously, there was virtually no mention of President Obama, except for the merchandise available in the gift shop. For a museum, there was an exceptional amount of reading. Perhaps a bit more multimedia content would have broken it up a little better. Being able to stand and look into the room where MLK spent his final moments is a bit harrowing, though. Amazing, sad and completely surreal.

Beale Street: This is probably the only legitimately vibrant part of downtown Memphis. Party central. Tons of blues clubs, restaurants and other shops. There’s walk up windows to order booze and music blaring all day. We stopped at Miss Polly’s Soul City Cafe with the motto of “Love, Peace and Chicken Grease”, where I had a Fried Green Tomato BLT (it’s amazing as it sounds). We also hit Dyer’s Burgers, where the burgers are cooked in the restaurant’s signature cooking grease…twice. Terrible for you, but they tasted awesome. It’s also the same place I had my first fried Twinkie. Not bad. We stopped in to B.B. King’s Blues Club for some live music. I don’t recall the name of the band, but I was totally into the blues rave-ups and the Ike and Tina style revue. A nice way to waste an hour.

Sun Studio : It’s a tiny little place that harbors some of rock n’ roll’s most important history. What’s more amazing is that it still operates as a studio at night. It made me want to start a band and cut a record. The tour guide we had, who called himself “Eldorado”, kind of looked like Frank Rossitano on 30 Rock. In fact, without looking up his band Eldorado and the Ruckus, I would just remember it as Judah Friedlander showing me the place Elvis recorded “That’s All Right”.

Graceland, on the other hand, is a veritable Elvis Disneyland. As soon as you get to the grounds, music from the Elvis-themed XM radio station blares over the loudspeaker. For a place so revered as it is, it’s actually a fairly modest looking house. The rest of the property and it’s adjacent buildings is what makes up for the mansion’s relative smallness (by today’s standards, at least.) The rooms are a mixture of camp and total extravagance. One in particular, the “Jungle Room” caught my eye because of the carpet ON THE CEILING. Totally bizarre. I was surprised how close to the road it was too. There’s a small wall composed of rock that’s been written on by many Elvis fans over the decades. It’s easily scalable, and that’s been tested time and time again. Legend has it that while touring on Born to Run in 1976, Bruce Springsteen jumped the wall to see if Elvis was home. He wasn’t, and he was escorted to the street. Also, we stopped by one of the site’s three restaurants where I had a grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich. Surprisingly, not bad.

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Visit our Flickr page for some Memphis photos.

Trans Canada

There’s a certain amount of envy I feel for those who’ve been to far off places all over the world. When they return and post their photos on Facebook or Flickr, it’s there that I get glimpses of what it’s like outside these borders. I’ve lived a very lucky life, had opportunities that a lot of others have not, but until last fall, I’d never left the continental United States.

For the most part, I never really had any desire to leave the United States as a kid. It wasn’t something we planned on doing as a family, and instead my parents opted to go overseas to see what they wanted, because of my and my brother’s indifference. Only in recent years have I had any desire to leave the states to see the world.

The first real opportunity to go anywhere came last September. I went to visit a friend of mine in a gorgeous area of upstate New York in a town called Potsdam where she went to school. Farms stretch for miles. It makes you wonder when you hear that America’s farms are disappearing. Not up there. It’s all unblemished.

Potsdam_NY

My friend Kim (not my girlfriend Kim, but Kim Harrison, obviate contributor) explained to me that we were about an hour to the U.S.- Canadian border and about two hours away from Montreal, Quebec. After a little bit of goading, she agreed to drive us up there for the afternoon. Needless to say, I was pumped. It was the first time I’d leave the states.

Let me state that I have this weird obsession with border crossings. I’ve spent hours on Wikipedia reading this article. There’s something thrilling about crossing an imaginary line that divides one place to another that I find completely fascinating. As a nine-year-old visiting Four Corners in 1995, I was thrilled that I could be in FOUR STATES AT ONCE, and took my time hopping from one state to another before my parents ushered me off.

Picture 2

For border crossing enthusiasts as myself, this is porn.

The U.S. – Canadian border is the ultimate manifestation of my preoccupation with border crossings in North America, because it’s so close, and Mexico is very, very far away. It’s really either that one, or the fact that you have to enter Delaware for twenty minutes to get to New York City traveling up from Baltimore. That one rules too.

Many jokes are made about Canada’s apparently lack of definition as a foreign country. Most of the time you’ll hear about how Canadians say “Eh?” and “Aboot”, or how they drink milk out of bags. (Actually, I learned that one today.)

Perhaps some of these things are true, but in my experience, that really wasn’t the case. Montreal was very different from America.

As we pulled up to the Canadian border, I handed over my birth certificate and Driver’s License (I didn’t have my passport yet) and was amazed how the guard just looked at it, told us to enjoy ourselves, and let us in. As we drove into Quebec, it hit me that for the first time in my life, I wasn’t in my country anymore. It’s weird. I was no longer in the place of my birth. I was just a guest. As miles and English turned to kilometers and French, I felt for the first time I wasn’t home. As a kid, it’s drilled in your head that the United States is the greatest country in the world (it is), but you’re never told that there’s other places in the world that are fantastic too. Obviously, It was a bit of a culture shock.

I immediately took out my camera and took a video. Excuse my fat head, gibberish about the Expos and the 1976 Olympics.

Quebec is striking because it’s just nothing for miles and miles and it’s beautiful and totally undisturbed. Kim and I stopped at a vegetable and fruit stand where I scribbled this note in my journal.

September 20, 2008, 8:53 AM

I’m in a town outside of Montreal buying plums. It was cute. Kim spoke French to the lady. They had a port-o-potty. Congratulations Canada, Brendan Hilliard just soiled your land.

Darling, right? Those plums made me gag. No bueno. Or should I say “Pas Bon”?”

As you’re driving, it’s as almost the city just kind of pops out of nowhere. I tried to retain as much as I went along. There was a familiar red octagonal sign saying “Arrêt” instead of “Stop”, gas stations that said “Petro-Canada” and a humorously titled shop called “HIGH TIMES”.

The city itself is fantastic. From what I saw, it’s a mixture of modern and classic architecture, winding streets, shops with crazy nicknacks and funny names – a store devoted to selling condoms and another pot themed store: Weedstock. There were PLENTY of record stores. We counted five on one block.

We ate at this little restaurant called “FRITE ALORS!” with a server that pretty much spoke nothing but French. I was terrified to order lunch, and even more concerned how to pay for it, being that I didn’t have any Canadian currency. I managed to order a ham sandwich with a slice of tomato which wasn’t at all appetizing. My stomach initially turned with Kim’s order of the Quebecois specialty poutine, and despite my fear of cheese curds, I tried it. It was quite good. I’ll go for my own order next time. Oh, thankfully were able to pay with our debit cards. Crisis averted.

Picture 4

No piece of art was ever truer.

I’ll spare you the minute details of the trip. That’s what the photo gallery is for. We only spent a half day there due to a show to attend in Potsdam that evening, but it was well worth it. It was just enough time to soak up the atmosphere of Montreal.

Montreal, or the country of Canada for that matter may not be the most exotic place in the world, but after 22 years going nowhere outside the border, it very much was for me. I feel very grateful that I got to go, and it was an experience that I look back on fondly.

I’ll remember it as something else, too.

The day my perspective really changed for the first time.

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You can view the photo gallery of my day trip to Montreal here, if you didn’t get that subtle little link above. Ha!

Around the World in 10 Days

For ten days, my girlfriend Kim, my friend Emily and myself went on a ten-day stretch of going to see The Hold Steady in seven cities. Instead of doing the usual writeup of each show, we decided to capture the experience in a series of video blogs posted to the band’s message board. We have yet to do the Epilogue/wrap up, but felt it was necessary to post this now while it is still feels fresh in our minds. There’s so many stories that these videos don’t contain, and it’s stuff I’ll never forget, either.

They Don’t Know Nothing About Redemption

The Super Bowl is bearing down once again this Sunday and with it comes cloying speculation as every sports media outlet/loud drunk focuses their collective efforts in poring over the minutiae of details for weeks and then shitting down our throats with their opinions.  The line is tempting but I’m going to pass this year, hell I’ll be working while the game is on.

Saturday night is my Super Bowl:

Muthafuggin EPIC

Fuck.  Yes.

Saturday night, Hawaiians and Canadians (especially those filthy Quebecers) are gonna pack the bars to witness something historic.  Saturday night, two of the finest mixed martial artists to ever step into the cage, at their physical and career peaks, to sort out the pound for pound rankings.  Current UFC Lightweight (155 lbs) Champion Hilo, Hawaii’s B.J. Penn is going back up to welterweight (170 lbs) to take on that division’s champ Georges St. Pierre in a rematch.  Ignoring my penchant for hyperbole, a quick Google search will land you legions of fan boys (blogs) as well as mainstream media (believe it or not NPR deigned to come down from the ivory tower to mingle with the peasants) frothing at the mouth for this fight, one major possiblity of having one man, Penn, hold two titles in  separate weight divisions at the same time since Dan Henderson did so in Pride FC.

Riding historic pay per view numbers as well as exposure via network deals for other fight organizations in the past year,  the UFC went all in with an HBO 24/7 style mini-series that does a better job of filling casual/new fans in with the fighter’s backgrounds as well as filling out the narrative for this fight.  I don’t know what it is about coming from the boonies that breeds such fucking hardasses but Hawaiians and Francophones tend to carry pretty big chips on their shoulders.  Both essentially are marginalized, border line separatists.  America’s hat vs America’s war time gas station.

The end product is probably the finest MMA pre-fight documentary I’ve seen, eschewing the normal nu metal riff chugging over the homo-erotic scene of bleeding, sweaty, men “wrestling” for more hip music cleverly kicking in (OMGZ OMGZ Black Keys and Cool Kids trax OMGZ OMGZ) over arty/high-budget cinematography (soft focus, slow still in/out zooms, helicopter panoramas) , as the post production editing has each fighter filling out their respective roles: George St. Pierre the soft spoken, good looking, world class athlete to BJ Penn’s, much to his chagrin, lazy, loudmouth, blood-lusting psychopath (the segues between Georges trudging/driving through frozen Montreal while BJ lounges in the black beaches of Hilo doesn’t get old).

Check out part 1:


If you like what you saw I suggest you do yourself a favor and start searching for their first fight as well as fight videos for both athletes to gain context.  For Georges look up his fights against Jay Hieron,  the trilogy against Matt Hughes.  For Baby Jay, look up his fight against Takanori Gomi, both fights with common opponent Matt Hughes, and the bloodbath against Joe Stevenson.

Now here’s where I give my arm chair analysis so just go ahead and stop reading this and start calling around to find a nice sports bar showing this epic fight on Saturday or you could read on, compare it to your own and call me a fucking idiot in the comments.  According to the betting lines, currently Penn is a +165 underdog with george as a -185 favorite.  Barring my natural bias, but I’m writing down something that might be considered treasonous if I spoke it out loud here in Honolulu.

The jump in weight once again puts Penn’s cardio in question.  Whenever Penn goes the distance, and this fight will go into the later rounds, with someone who doesn’t fold he tends to allow the takedowns and stays in guard which plays to Georges strength, being the best wrestler in the UFC, would more than happily stay busy on top without trying to pass grinding out a decision.  BJ has never won a decision against top tier competition (Renzo Gracie and Matt Serra are NOT top tier)  for Penn to win he needs to FINISH Georges.  If GSP uses his superior conditioning and dictates the pace and keeps Penn at distance with say a constant front kick ala Thompson vs. Melendez dragging him into the deeper waters of rounds 4 and 5,  he could wear down Penn and get the takedown maybe even followed by a TKO.

Penn does have a serious edge in the grappling and hands of motherfucking dynamite, with a lightning fast jab that wrecked common opponent Sean Sherk in BJ’s first title defense.  The jab RUINS rythm, and a guy like Georges lives on what he calls “da riddum”, if Georges decides to push the action standing Penn needs to use that snake like right jab to greet him in the pocket.  Penn has a chin of granite, I have never seen this man take a shot that fazed even in his ridiculous fight with Lyoto Machida, if he pushed Georges against the fence (and lately Jackson fighters have been drawing their opponents with THEIR back to the fence) he will find that left hand connecting which could lead to a TKO or a submission.  Which leads me to the one thing even my know it all dumbass is unwilling to answer.  How good is Georges off his back after that trip to Brazil…

The one X factor to me is Georges’ jiu-jitsu.  Georges has the amazing ability to constantly pick up new skills, a good example being his slowly evolving wrestling was good enough for an invite to train for the Canadian Olympic team and out-shined the American alphabet soup of credentials that opponents like Josh Koscheck possessed, but wrestling comes naturally to physical specimens like Georges.  Penn points out that martial arts (he really means his bread and butter jiu-jitsu) favors the skilled man.  Though Penn might be the more intelligent fighter, Georges matches Penn up in creativity, and that’s what’s getting me giddy.  The unpredictability of the mat work.

So there you have it.  Gather up some friends and whet your appetite with this once in a lifetime fight, that not even boxing can promise in terms of talent.  Oh and if there was any doubt?  WAR PENN!!!  Knock Georges on his ass and choke that motherfucker out.