Election Day 2016: This is who we’ve got

I was in 8th grade when Barack Obama defeated John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. Until then, I could not have cared less about government and politics. There is really no reason to care about those kinds of things when you’re a kid- mom wakes you up, gets you to school, at school all you’re thinking about is either recess or the potential hug you’re going to get from your “girlfriend” after school, mom (or the bus) gets you home, your dinner is prepared for you, you go outside and play, watch American Idol, take a shower and then head to bed to do it all over the next day. If you’re sick, you go to the doctor- you don’t worry about paying for it. Taxes mean nothing to you. War is a foreign concept. Race is a game to see who can run faster, not a human ranking system. Life is good.

When I watched Obama being sworn into office in my 8th grade history class, something changed. As he began speaking, I could feel my life shifting in that very moment- from being a kid to growing into an adult. President Obama made me feel like I needed to care about what I was about to get myself into as I grew up in 21st century America- he made me want to understand the inner workings of government, the principles behind American democracy and what challenges our country faced on the road ahead. The way he spoke captivated 14 year-old me in way I had never been captivated politically before. He commanded my attention hundreds of miles away, through a television. Politics began to matter.

I’m 21 now (almost 22!), out of college and putting in my 40-hour weeks to appease the capitalist gods that rule me. Over the last 8 years, I have been through it all- I got my first kiss, lost my driver’s license for a semester because I got a B in Spanish, placed in the state track meet, was the prom king, got my first job, dated and then broke up with two ex-girlfriends, almost kind of got arrested, graduated high school, didn’t get into the college I wanted to, went to WVU, joined the band, decided to transfer across the country, quit the band, decided to stay, lived at home again, got my first apartment, delivered pizzas, lived with frat guys for a semester, got my second apartment, got a kind-of real job, graduated from journalism school, got a job as an IT guy, bought my first car, and gained about 10 pounds. President Obama has been there for me, thought it all. I watched him lead the country with grace and humility- I watched him being a loving husband and father to his kids- I watched him care. Through all the mass shootings, Middle East problems, and economic crises Obama never stopped projecting his message of hope. Obama’s unwavering dedication over the last 8 years to his “no matter what happens we are going to make it, and it will be OK” message has made a permanent impact on my life. From the bottom of my heart… Thanks, Obama. Your legacy will endure for generations to come. You will always be my president.

Tomorrow

Unfortunately, Obama cannot be the president forever. He has reached the end of his two-term limit. Tomorrow, we will elect a new President of the United States. Our choices are Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. No, that was not a typo- Donald fucking Trump and Hillary Clinton are the nation’s top two choices to be the leader of the free world. Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy… Trump? Hillary “I would lose to literally any viable candidate in history but I got to run against Donald Trump” Clinton? Really? Where the hell is Mitt Romney when you need him? My God, these two make John Kerry look like FDR. It’s bad. It’s really bad. But it’s who we’ve got.

Donald Trump is a reality TV star, and a damn good one. The guy should teach a PR class at Harvard. He can make a lot of people believe something without really trying. He has been spewing racist, sexist bullshit for the entirety of his campaign- and he still might beat Hillary Clinton(!!!) He literally wants to build a wall around the country. He claims to know more about international politics than the former Secretary of State. He says he is bringing energy back to West Virginia (he’s not… no one is). He will hire “all the right people” to run the country. He has absolutely no experience in the political arena. He will “flatten ISIS” and throw us into World War III with Russia as soon as he initiates the no-fly zone.

He is insane.

Trump has a few good ideas, though. He is pro life and pro 2nd amendment. I like guns and babies. Abortion is fucked, and we have the right to hunt. He is for the most part fiscally conservative, another plus. He’s just crazy. People like Trump because they see him as an outsider- someone who just maybe will help them.

Clinton is Claire Underwood. She will lie, cheat and steal to get what she wants. That is fine and all, but it is not really a good trait to have if you want to be President of the United States. She has been wrapped up in scandals for years. She put state email on a private server. She wasn’t too great as Secretary of State. People just don’t trust her. She isn’t likable at all. She is playing the “vote for me, I’m a woman” card far too much. She is the rich grandma who lives in Florida that sees her grandchildren once a year but sends money every holiday only to make her feel like you care about her.

She sucks.

Hillary, like Trump, has some good ideas though. College is overpriced and she wants to fix that. Obamacare needs a refresh, not a delete. She cares about non-white people. Gays aren’t subhuman. And, she’s been in politics for her entire life. Also, she campaigned with Lebron.

This election is very important for one reason: The Supreme Court of the United States has one vacant seat, and more will be coming soon. Whoever is elected President will be able to appoint justices that will decide the future of America for decades to come. We cannot afford to go back in time and appoint justices that are not progressive- that are afraid and refuse to rule in favor of the people. We don’t want any more ultra-conservative whack jobs (sorry, Boomers).

For that reason, I’m with her. I will be voting for Hillary Clinton to be the next President of the United States tomorrow.

I’m sorry Donald, but it’s time to let the pussy grab us.

Millennials: The new Greatest Generation

One cannot go a day without seeing an edgy think piece written by a 60-something baby boomer claiming that Millennials are causing the downfall of the “Great American society” we’ve been living in since VJ Day. We’re lazy, unappreciative, lacking of common sense, selfish, “don’t know the struggle”, and un-deserving of anything we receive. We’re the “participation trophy” generation. According to most boomers, the Chinese will take over the world by 2050 and America will be reduced to nothing but a very large Grand China Buffet.  Millennials, frankly put, are the worst thing to happen to humanity.

They’re wrong.

No, really, they’re wrong. Millennials are the best thing to happen to modern society. Unlike previous generations, the vast majority of us were not raised to be racist, sexist bigots. Everyone is the same- just living life as a victim of the human condition. Don’t get me wrong, there will always be a Billy Ray from Bumfuck, Nowhere that hates everyone that isn’t white and a fan of Dale Sr- but the other 99% are done with the hate. We don’t care what color or you are or what gender you are- as long as you’re not an asshole, we can be friends. You believe in the Christian God? Cool! You think we are nothing but specks of dust in the void? I could see that. You have no clue what to believe and aren’t going to talk down on someone for having a different line of thinking? You and I both.  We don’t care if you’re gay, straight, bi-sexual, transsexual, metrosexual, pansexual, or any other kind of sexual I may have missed. You’re gay? That’s dope. You’re straight? That’s dope. You like to bang McChicken’s? More power to you, brother- just don’t hurt yourself.

The racist and homophobic culture is dying.  The negative aspects of religion are being removed from everyday society.  War to us, for the most part, is pointless. Why do we need to shoot at guys we have never met before who have families and lives at home? We’re all just people, and millennials see that clearer than any other generation. Just because I was born somewhere other than you does not mean I’m any better or worse than you are and it surely does not mean I have a right to rob you of your way of life just because I can.

Millennials are the first generation to grow up with the Internet- we all grew up together, around the world, as one. We’ve been through it all with each other. I could go to France, say “Suh Dude” to the first cute 19-year-old I see, and they’ll laugh. I could see an Asian dude in white Vans and say “Damn Daniel, back at it again!” and he’ll know what I’m talking about. That guy in the Harambe T-shirt at Walmart? Dicks out. I have never met these people in my life, but we have so much in common- we’ve seen and heard so many of the same things.

The Internet is also great for calling people out for being an asshole. Don’t get me wrong, we all miss the days when Grandma Smith and Auntie Sue weren’t online and clogging our timelines with Trump quotes and those stupid auto-play videos of a Corgi humping a couch cushion (it was a much simpler time), but now we get to watch Auntie’s comment section burn to the ground when she posts about how all black people should be shot on site by cops for smoking a joint. If you’re an asshole, we’re going to let you know- and we’re going to let the world know.

Too often, Millennials get a bad rep. We aren’t “social justice warriors” or trying to convince people that gender is a figment of our imaginations- we aren’t all lazy and we aren’t all entitled. We don’t hate cops, but we think it’s fucked up that they shoot people for not being white. No, they all don’t shoot on sight. No, not everyone was/is shot unjustly.  But camcorders are real now, folks, and we can see it with our own two eyes. It just has to stop. We are all the same.

Boomers, I have a proposition for you- let us take it from here. You have done great things for society and that is undeniable, but it’s time to move on. Take your pensions and relax- ride it out in a life of luxury. We appreciate the participation trophies (that you gave us) and the sacrifices you made for us. We love you. But it’s our turn now.

 

Remembering Mike Tipi

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Growing up, every kid has a few adults that they are able to connect with on a different level. A level different than their teachers or parents- someone who is generally interested in their well-being and success, but isn’t going to judge or punish them on the things they do wrong. Somebody with experience in the “real world.” A confidant. A friend.

Mike Tipi was that friend for me and many, many other kids growing up in Fairmont, West Virginia. The kids were always first. Through the youth football and baseball leagues, he was always lending a helping hand to anyone who needed it. He understood how important positive encouragement was to a child growing up- if he saw a coach screaming at a kid, he would always make sure to seek them out after a game and make sure that they knew that he was rooting for them. He saw through the parents’ favoritism bullshit and treated every kid the same way- with respect. He was that kind of guy.

I was lucky enough not only to be one of those kids he pulled aside after the game, but to work beside Mike for four seasons at Fairmont Little League. In 2011 I decided that high school baseball wasn’t for me, but I still wanted to be involved in the game in some capacity. Mike heard that I had quit midseason and gave me a call and asked if I wanted to work with him announcing games and keeping score.

We spent many a night together in our perch in Tipi’s Tower. I learned a lot about baseball, and a lot about life. One of my favorite memories of Mike is the pair of binoculars he kept in the press box. He’d always tell me he was using them to check the score on another field, but when any of the coaches would come upstairs and inquired, he’d say he was “using them to check out your wife.” Some of the looks we got were incredible.

For four years he worked around my schedule, telling me to tell him when I could work and just work the rest. He would call me after almost every game to check the scores and to see who was doing well so he could stay up to date. He always made sure we got paid every night, even if someone had told me they didn’t have the money to pay me. He was just always looking out for me- and everyone else, too.

After every game he’d invite me to the High Life Lounge to play video slot machines with him. I’d delightfully remind him that I was only 17, but when I was 21 I’d take him up on the offer. I never got the chance.

Mike died Thursday, June 4th. He will never be forgotten by me, his family, and all of the friends he made while just trying to help the kids grow. He was a gentleman, a true East Sider, and a friend. I am sad, but I am also happy for Mike- he now gets an unobstructed view of all the moms around the world.  I know he is happy about that.

Rest in Peace buddy, I love you. Thanks for everything.

The Real West Virginia

Just last week, a chemical spill occurred in the southern part of West Virginia. The spill leaked into the Elk river, which in turn polluted the drinking water for 300,000 residents. This disaster has led to a great deal of media exposure for a state that usually flies under the radar. With that newfound media exposure came many jokes focused on West Virginia’s way of life.

Here’s an example:

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This was a tweet from a journalist at the Detroit Free Press (she’s from Detroit, so she really doesn’t have any room to talk. Also, shout out to B Rabbit.) She received many hateful and degrading responses to her tweet by many, and eventually took it down, but the issue resounds- people from around the country think West Virginia is a place where the only things happening are cousins having sex and cashing their welfare checks. I’m here to tell you this is not true.

Before I begin, I’d like to present a disclaimer: I am not a fan of the individuals who constantly beat the drum of “Our state is the best state, you’re just jealous!” Being completely honest here, West Virginia isn’t exactly the most ideal place to live. You can’t walk more than ten feet without having to scale a hill. In the winter, the snow can be relentless. The only professional sports teams are those on TV’s. There’s no beach. If you want to go to a decent shopping mall, you’ve probably got an hour-plus drive ahead of you. There is, indeed, an abnormal amount of large people. But these aren’t deal-breakers. Every state has its problems.  Last year, MTV began airing a show titled “Buckwild,” dubbed the “redneck version of the Jersey Shore,” and many people from around the country laughed at the state, believing this was an accurate depiction of what goes on. It was not. Many wrote in to MTV, the governor, and congress asking for the show to be discontinued because it seemed to shine a very poor light on our state. I personally have never witnessed anyone jump into a dump truck swimming pool. The show was a contributing factor to the many stereotypes of West Virginia.

West Virginia is a beautiful place. All four seasons make distinct appearances. The leaves in autumn are absolutely stunning, and the flowers in spring will make you do a double take. In the summer, the sun glimmers off of the lakes and rivers.

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Many celebrities have come from West Virginia. If you’re a football fan, you surely know that Florida State just won the national championship. The coach, Jimbo Fisher? He’s from Clarksburg. Nick Saban, at Alabama, who has won four national championships in his time? He’s from Monongah. The “Logo,” Jerry West, comes straight out tha’ Holler’ too. Stonewall Jackson, the bad ass general from the Civil War. Author Pearl S. Buck. Nick Null- a member of Seal Team 6, the team the performed the raid of Osama Bin Laden’s home. Mary Lou Retton, the olympic gymnast who in 1984 became the first American to win the All-Around Gold? All from West Virginia.

West Virginia provides over 12% of all coal production in the United States. Without us, oil and gas prices would be driven higher due to the lack of resources and the need for more imports. If it wasn’t for the West Virginia men going underground, the country would certainly be strained.

My father and mother both have good jobs. My sister and I both attend college. I’ve never thought about fornicating with a family member. I’ve never chewed tobacco or made moonshine. I have all my teeth. I’m friends with a black kid. I’ve never seen Crystal Meth.  Welfare checks don’t feed me. I wear the brands other states wear, listen to the Billboard Top 100, and I even have internet access. Take a step back and look at us, America- West Virginia isn’t just one big mud hole…it’s where I call home.

 

The Big 12 Days of Christmas: A Summary of West Virginia Football

On the first day of Christmas, the Big 12 sent to me: A team without an identity

 

On the second day of Christmas, the Big 12 sent to me: 2 years of losing

And a team without an identity

 

On the third day of Christmas, the Big 12 sent to me:

3 terrible quarterbacks

2 years of losing

And a team without an identity

 

On the fourth day of Christmas, the Big 12 sent to me:

4 wins this season

3 terrible quarterbacks

2 years of losing

And a team without an identity

 

On the fifth day of Christmas, the Big 12 sent to me:

5 blowout losses

4 wins this season

3 terrible quarterbacks

2 years of losing

And a team without an identity

 

On the sixth day of Christmas, the Big 12 sent to me:

6 second half leads blown

5 blowout losses

4 wins this season

3 terrible quarterbacks

2 years of losing

And a team without an identity

 

On the seventh day of Christmas, the Big 12 sent to me:

7 painful losses

6 second half leads blown

5 blowout losses

4 wins this season

3 terrible quarterbacks

2 years of losing

And a team without an identity

 

On the eighth day of Christmas, the Big 12 sent to me

                                                          8 Noon Kick-offs

7 painful losses

6 second half leads blown

5 blowout losses

4 wins this season

3 terrible quarterbacks

2 years of losing

And a team without an identity

 

On the ninth day of Christmas, the Big 12 sent to me:

9 headsets broken

8 Noon Kick-offs

7 painful losses

6 second half leads blown

5 blowout losses

4 wins this season

3 terrible quarterbacks

2 years of losing

And a team with no identity

 

On the tenth day of Christmas, the Big 12 sent to me:

10-times the travel

9 headsets broken

8 Noon Kick-offs

7 painful losses

6 second half leads blown

5 blowout losses

4 wins this season

3 terrible quarterbacks

2 years of losing

And a team with no identity

 

On the eleventh day of Christmas, the Big 12 sent to me:

11 bowl streak ended

10 times the travel

9 headsets broken

8 Noon Kick-offs

7 painful losses

6 second half leads blown

5 blowout losses

4 wins this season

3 terrible quarterbacks

2 years of losing

And a team with no identity

On the twelfth day of Christmas, the Big 12 sent to me:

12 ugly black polo’s

11 bowl streak ended

10 times the travel

9 headsets broken

8 Noon Kick-offs

7 painful losses

6 second half leads blown

5 blowout losses

4 wins this season

3 terrible quarterbacks

2 years of losing…

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AND A TEAM WITH NO IDENTITY 

The Day Erin Andrews Blocked Me on Twitter

      July 30th, 2013 is a day that will descend into the annals of time as one of the darkest in recorded history. No one important lost their life that day, nor did they endure a cataclysmic event unrivaled by the days of past generations. Kanye didn’t even interrupt any award shows. July 30th was the day I was blocked on Twitter by Erin Andrews.

      The day started as a normal summer day, with me waking up entirely too early to go to work. I was optimistic on what the day would hold. Well, I must add that my level of optimism was about as high as any eighteen-year-old boy working a 9-5 in the middle of the summer. I work(ed) in an IT department, so I spent some time with computers (when I say some time, I mean 9-5) and with computers comes internet. With internet comes mindless wandering through the web, and with that comes articles like this.

      I was taken aback by Thompson’s stance on the subject of Johnny Football. Instead of painting him as the gifted but spoiled athlete that he is, Thompson took a drastically different route- he DEFENDED Johnny and touched on the fact he faces a lot of pressure. Manziel begged his father for a new Mercedes, and when the answer was no things took a turn- Johnny declared that if his father did not purchase him the car, he would use his high profile status to illegally obtain one. How can anyone, especially a lead ESPN journalist, defend that behavior? Beats me.

   

     I logged onto twitter to check on the lives of the people I hate the most when I noticed an Erin Andrews tweet promoting Thompson’s article. I decided to reply to her tweet and share my feelings, something we Generation Me kids are good at (thanks for the name, Time- it fits.) A few moments later my phone started vibrating more than, well, you know. This appeared:  

 

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     She even read my bio! I’m glad she had the time out of her busy schedule.

 

 

     Now don’t get me wrong Erin, but I’m pretty sure you’re not any more qualified than I in ability to judge gifted writers.Image

 

 

     Also, I am serious about studying journalism in college. Unlike you, I actually am majoring in Journalism. Why? Because I want to be a journalist. Not just television (and hotel) eye candy.

  

     Her response led me to a myriad of emotions. I was originally embarrassed, but then I quickly realized she misinterpreted the tweet. I obviously was talking about Johnny, not the writer. Soon after the embarrassment, I became angry. How could she be so incompetent? Not only did I have to deal with her silly reply, but also many people who follow her replies. People began to insult my school choice (WVU. I know, we burn couches and drink- tell me something I don’t know, asshole) and also my personal appearance in my profile picture! I quickly became sad. Erin Andrews had just cyber-bullied me. Can I press charges?

 

  

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      I now see this when I hit the follow button.

   

      Not only was I publicly ridiculed for simply having an opinion that is not far from the norm, I was blocked from following her.  I am quite confused on why I was blocked- why would I want to follow her if I had just been cyber-bullied?! Ah, women and their logic.

     July 30th was a day I will never forget. I am quite certain I will never emotionally recover from the events that transpired. If I can give a simple word of advice, it would be this- Block Erin Andrews. Do not let her hurt you like she hurt me.

America’s Pastime

In thinking about what to write my second post about, I’ve decided to take an approach slightly different than the family dynamic theme in the first and talk about another prominent feature of my life- sports. I love sports. All sports. Any sport. The sport where they sweep off the ice with the brooms in the Winter Olympics is awesome to me, as well as the more obscure practice of Ferret Legging. I have favorites though, none more so than Baseball.

The sport of baseball has not been good to me, at all- playing wise(I once endured an 0-22 little league season) or fan wise. Being born and raised in North Central West Virginia, the only Major League team with any proximity to my home is the Pittsburgh Pirates. If you’ve watched literally any of the Senior Circuit at any time between now and say, 1992(!!!), you know the Pittsburgh Pirates are the definition of futility. For the past two seasons the Bucs have been in contention for both the playoffs and a winning tally deep into the season, only to absolutely decimate those chances with no roster changes from the winning baseball formula in the dawn of the season. How can this happen, you say? It’s because they’re the Pirates. They have now set the record for most consecutive losing seasons in the history of American professional sports, which is considerably surprising after watching THIS team. I have been in a very one sided relationship with the Pirates for as long as I can remember (it’s constantly take-take-take my emotional stability with them,) with few bright spots.

The brightest spot of my time with the Pirates was on a dark, gloomy weeknight game in the midst of a 67-95 season in 2006. I had won tickets at my local pharmacy, so my father and I hit the road and trekked the 90 minute drive to PNC park to watch Jack Wilson, Jason Bay, and the rest of the Pirate “stars” (in my young mind) with a crowd of about 5,000. It was late in the game and fittingly, the hometown team was getting destroyed. My spirits dampened by the rain and score, a foul ball was struck down the line. Freddy Sanchez, (eventual batting title winner!) made eye contact with me as he fielded the ball. A few seconds later, it was sitting in my glove. I had just achieved the true American dream, acquiring a ball at a Major League game.

I tell that story for one simple reason- if that ball would have gone to any other person, my love for the Pirates would have been lost. I just couldn’t put up with the mediocrity any longer without a “spark” in the relationship. Heartbreak after heartbreak, the Pirates are finally putting out in this complicated relationship.

A feeling only comparable to the most satisfying sexual satisfaction, the Pirates are leading their division. They also have the most wins in all of baseball. You heard me- all of baseball. History tells us that no team 51-31 through the half-way point in the season has finished under .500. History will be written, no matter the outcome. If failing to come out on top, 21 straight losing seasons will once again enhance the already formidable record of 20 and they will be the first team to do so with such a great first half record. If the team comes out on top, a different story will be told.  The record will be broken, fans will be out in droves, and I will witness the first winning season in my lifetime. The “foul” ball I caught was a symbol of the baseball that had been played for 20 years, and maybe- just maybe, it will finally be fair again.