Friday, January 19, 2018

Audio Up Marls's Ass

I haven't done an Audio Up Your Ass edition in a while (it upsets Marls when I post The Test because he doesn't have a world famous podcast of his own) but I just finished a song and I changed the name of my band (again). I know I swore I wouldn't but this new name is too good to pass up (not quite as good as Sturgeon Mary, but I don't think I can produce music fitting of a name that bizarre).

Anyway, prominent Gheorghie and music critic Zman pronounced this song as being "better than it ought to be" and proclaimed that there are "strains of real music in there."  I should warn you that this is the same Zman who recently announced that Rob and I are akin to Philip Roth in our writing style and substance, so you might take his words with a grain of salt.

Anyway, my new band name is thematically related to the last post. It's my favorite soccer term and it also sounds kind of dirty, so it's perfect. I'm hoping Park the Bus will be the last band name I employ (and I'm still annoyed that there's a Canadian drone band that stole the Greasetruck  moniker).

Warning: my new song contains some piano and it's fairly easy listening. My version of yacht rock, perhaps, although the lyrics are pretty dark. It might even be an R and B song.




And-- just for Marls-- there is a new episode of the The Test up. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

USSF Presidential Election: A Very Special Guestie

Obviously, those of us with interest in both William & Mary and the United States Soccer Federation have a rooting interest in the race for the USSF Presidency. And some of us (coughshlaracough) aren't particularly subtle about our preference. So, in the interest of impartiality, we asked our pal Fay Guy in a Speedo to weigh in on the process that culminates on February 10 with the election of the new USSF boss.

Sunil Days Aren't Here Again
Columbia Grad

As the current president of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), Sunil Gulati has taken as much heat for the USMNT's failure to qualify for the upcoming World Cup as Bruce Arena, the coach he (re)hired for the campaign. As a result, Mr. Gulati has decided to step down from the  position he's held since 2006 after being re-elected for a record-breaking 4th time for the 4-year post. Obviously, Gulati has done some incredible work for the sport in the USA, you can check out his C.V. at econ.Columbia.edu if you don't believe me. The reason Gulati is affiliated with Columbia U is due to his status as a Senior Lecturer in Economics there. The reason he is a lecturer at Columbia is due to the fact that his position as current president of the USSF is a gratis position. How am I supposed to trash on a guy who is the de facto head of a non-profit and works for nothing?

The equivalent position in the FA in England made a couple million pounds last year for reference. The USSF is run as a non-profit and none of the 14 board members draw a salary, including the president. A quick scan of their 2016 tax return confirms this as well as a few other items of interest. Apparently all of the board members average 5 hours per week to oversee the behemoth that is US soccer while the staff (coaches, players, et al.) average 40 hours per week. These hours seem patently ridiculous given that a flight to talk to former head coach Jurgen Klinsmann to LA from NYC is 5 and a half hours if you're lucky. The numbers also reveal that USSF CEO, Dan Flynn, earned $695K while Klinsmann made $3M as head coach. If this doesn't annoy you enough note that his assistant coach, Andreas Herzog, earned almost $400K while Jill Ellis (W&M '87), the head coach of the unfathomably successful US Women's National Team earned just over $300K. The average salary of a Senior Lecturer at Columbia is $77K and it isn't even a tenure track position. No wonder the USMNT can't compete in the easiest and worst regional division of world soccer, CONCACAF; there isn't much at stake for the brass if the team succeeds or fails. No carrot, no stick. This seems incredibly un-American, maybe our Communistic approach to a relative nascent sport in this country is a reason for our lack of success. Gulati has been faulted in the past for not attending important games for the men's and women's teams in the tri-state area and his excuse for not attending is that he's had a class to teach at the time. I imagine this is a problem unique to soccer anywhere else in the world except for the 'shithole countries' recently referenced by our orange-in-chief.


Wharton grads
The election for a new overlord president is a few weeks away and there are eight candidates vying for the unlucrative position and middling power. Out of those eight, most Americans have only heard of one, Hope Solo, and although she has no shot of winning there would be a beautiful symmetry in having a dual dumpster fire presidency to rival the one in the Oval Office. The front-runners are Kathy Carter (W&M '91) and Eric Wynalda. One is a marketing guru and President of Soccer United Marketing and the other is Eric Wynalda. Mrs. Carter (Kathy, not Bey) represents the old regime and didn't decide to run until Gulati opted out. The current administrators are promoting her presidency while Mr. Wynalda is the populist front-runner with radical ideas to shake up the tedium also known as MLS. Either way, apparently there's not much at stake here. How can there be for a position that has no salary at five working hours per week? That's like me listing redtube.com viewing on my resume. Soccer will continue to limp along on the fringes of the American sporting consciousness. The MLS will continue to earn enough dough to keep it from radically altering its structure. The USA's developmental soccer progam will continue to be a pay for play affair that's only available to the privileged, unathletic few. Winter is no longer coming and there's no Game of Thrones until 2019. It could be worse, we could be Italian.*

DeVry grads
*Italy is neither a shithole country nor a place to be maligned. They failed to qualify for the World Cup as well.

(If you're scoring at home, the official G:TB prediction is that Wynalda and Kyle Martino join forces after several ballots fail to resolve the issue, and Wynalda wins. And is a trainwreck.)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

I'm Gonna Need Your Shoe Sizes

I've been making a conscious effort to spend less time on Facebook of late (certainly wish I could say the same about Twitter - I'm a work in progress), so forgive me if I've stumbled upon something this week that you've seen for a while. But I found it so important to the work that we do here that I needed to ensure that it was shared with the world.

Do feast your eyes on these beauties, Tribe fans.




And if the Tribe makes the NCAA Tournament this year, I'm afraid the G:TB bylaws require that each of you (at least the W&M grads in our number) acquire at least one pair. 

The good news is that I've checked with the IRS, and the purchase is tax deductible. 

#1bid4wmtribe

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Drunk Music Lessons: The Only Dad That Matters

I was driving my 13 year-old daughter home from a soccer game yesterday, when she informed me that she was a big fan of The Clash and The Pixies. Obviously, I'm an excellent parent. Because I let her watch Stranger Things, where it turns out her enjoyment of 80s alterna-punk blossomed.

Like, I suspect, many parents of teens, my opportunities to spend real quality time with my kidlet are few and far between as she pulls away like a normal human adolescent and her moods swing from surly to really surly. So I was low-key thrilled when she eagerly accepted my invitation to spend the evening on an internet tour of the alternative music that raised me.

I didn't have quite the same happy buzz as the last time I gave her online music appreciation lessons (at least I didn't when we started), but I certainly enjoyed the time spent hanging out on the couch talking about and listening to tunes, most of which follow. This is a musical memory that'll stay with me for a while.

































































Friday, January 12, 2018

John Cena is an ambassador?

John Cena is a big deal professional wrestler and a lesser deal actor. He's also a big time car guy. In fact he has a 2017 Ford GT in Liquid Blue with 20" forged aluminum graphite wheels (with black lug nuts), silver brake calipers, a "Dark Energy" interior theme, exposed exterior carbon fiber finished in Gloss Shadow Black, and a leather wrapped steering wheel.



These cars are really hard to get--Cena had to apply to buy his (which cost $460,000!) and he was selected out of thousands of applicants for the right to buy this exquisite machine because Ford deemed him to be an "influencer[] and ambassador[] of the vehicle and the Ford brand ...." I know this because Ford sued Cena in federal district court for selling his 2017 Ford GT.

via GIPHY


Part of the application to buy the GT said "If you are selected as a Selected Applicant, there is no guarantee that you will be offered an opportunity to purchase a GT, because the terms of any purchase are subject to mutual agreement by the pertinent seller and the prospective buyer." So if Cena can't reach a deal with his local dealer, no GT.

via GIPHY


After Cena was selected, he had to sign an "Affidavit of Eligibility and Release" which stated in part "each seller of a GT will have the right to condition the sale on the purchaser's agreement to restrictions on resale or transfer of the GT ...."

Then, when Cena reached agreement with Elder Ford in Tampa, he signed an order confirmation which stated in part "You understand that being selected for the opportunity to purchase this vehicle is non-transferable and agree not to sell the vehicle within the first 24 months of delivery."

Cena took delivery around September 23, 2017. He sold it some time on or before October 20, 2017. Even if you aren't great at math you can probably see that this time period is less than 24 months. In fact it's less than one month.

via GIPHY


As a result, Ford sued for breach of contract, fraud, silent fraud, innocent misrepresentation, and unjust enrichment. And they might have a legitimate case for some of those claims, but I'm not sure how they will establish their damages. Have they really been harmed? Is the GT's image really better off with Cena owning the car than whomever he sold it to? Who would choose a pro wrestler as an ambassador anyway? Oh, right ...

via GIPHY

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Gettin' Civic Wit' It

There is a tendency among certain people I know to take an expansive view of the current state of
American affairs and lean towards despair. As we're met with an unceasing barrage of variously negative, odd, unthinkable, and enraging revelations from our national leadership, it's easy to lose focus on the things that matter in our homes and in our communities, and indeed, to us as individuals.

I've had an interesting couple of days, as it relates to the topic at hand. A whirlwind first-hand tour through American Civics, one might say. I wouldn't say that it made me feel any better about our proximate circumstances on a national level, but it did remind me of the relative nature of things, and of the idea that change and progress happens slowly and painstakingly, right up until it happens in a rush.

As most of our readers know, I'm a member of the Board of Directors of my local soccer club. The "machine", as Dave has dubbed it, the Club is the largest single-sport youth organization in the Commonwealth of Virginia. 12,000 kids participate in one or more of our programs each year. As a result of that scale, we're on the radar of our county's Board of Supervisors and of organizations seeking their support.

Last night, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors met to consider a proposal to lease a parcel of public land to D.C. United for the purpose of building a 5,000-seat stadium for use by the MLS club's new United Soccer League (USL) franchise, as well as office space and four full-size training fields. Because our county desperately needs new field space for youth and adult recreation, and because the D.C. United brand is a good thing for soccer in our area, our Club supports the proposal.

And so I found myself speaking to the Board of Supervisors during the public comment portion of the proceedings. If you'd like to see my public political debut, skip ahead to the 2:14:35ish mark in the video below.



Following that widely viewed and acclaimed performance, I spent this morning at an event of unquestionably greater significance. I watched from the audience as 724 people from 99 different countries took the Naturalization Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America.

A woman that works for me is a Turkish national. She's been in this country since college, some 16 years. Roughly two years ago, she started the naturalization process, which culminated this morning.

Though the character of our national leadership, and public perspectives on a wide range of issues dramatically changed during the course of her journey to become a U.S. citizen, her enthusiasm for citizenship never waned. And so I was thrilled to be able to witness her final step towards being an American.

The event was held at the George Mason University Center for the Arts, in a large auditorium. The crowd in the audience and in the section of candidates was the meltiest pot you could imagine. People from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, from England to Iraq, from Laos to Pakistan eager to become Americans, and the atmosphere was a mix of apprehension and excitement, festive with just a hint of urgency.

Check out the length of this line, and the diversity of the people in it:


A very enthusiastic official from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) made a brief speech and explained the process, and then administered the oath. My colleague texted me immediately afterward, "I am a US citizen!!!", and I couldn't have been more happy for her.

The new citizens were shown a video featuring former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, herself a naturalized citizen. I won't belabor the fact that the Secretary's strongly pro-immigrant message felt slightly awkward juxtaposed against current Administration policy, nor will I make too much fun of the way the President told his new constituents that they were 'very, very special' in recorded remarks that followed Secretary Albright's. The jubilant solemnity (if such a thing is possible) of the event mitigates against excessive politically motivated snark.

Though my colleague did text shortly after taking the oath to say, "I submitted my voter registration. Now where do I register as a Democrat?"

I was pleased to be able to support my friend and colleague from the beginning, but I found myself moved by the excitement, emotion, and determination of our newest fellow citizens. As people streamed out from the event to greet their friends and family, a scene that was repeated dozens of times, their pride in being Americans was obvious. And for someone whose pride in being an American has been tested of late, that was a significant thing.

We live in a flawed and scuffling nation. And yet 724 people this morning in Fairfax, VA completed a journey that required years of invasive scrutiny, uncertainty, and bureaucratic slog, and a repudiation of the nation of their origin in order to count themselves a full part of it. Still thousands more across the nation are actively seeking to follow the same path.

We're a better nation for their contributions, and they deserve our best efforts to help this country live up to its potential.

USA!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

“THERE’S A COMPETITOR IN ME BUT I HAVE TO KEEP CALM!”

The Dakar Rally, known to many as the Paris-Dakar Rally, is one of the most famous tests of automotive endurance in the world. Participants ride motorcycles, cars, trucks, and various other forms of vehicular contraptions across deserts, through jungles, over mountains, and just about every other terrain known to man. The race, open to professionals and amateurs alike, was originally run between Paris and Dakar, Senegal, but has been contested in South America since 2009 as a result of security concerns in Africa.

Dakar is notorious for toll it takes on drivers and their equipment. In a post entitled 'This is The Kind of Driving That Actually Makes You Piss Blood', Jalopnik deadpans a description of the event, saying, "The Dakar Rally is famous for its obscene length, dangerous routes and off-road cargo trucks racing each other across ridiculous terrain." Here's an absurd compilation of 30 years worth of Dakar crashes:



The 2018 Dakar Rally kicked off in Lima, Peru on Saturday, and the racers that survive to the end will cross the finish line in Cordoba, Argentina on January 20 after completing 14 stages that range from 270 to more than 900km.

American Bryce Menzies, famous for his truck jumping exploits, was widely predicted to have the best U.S. shot to win the race in some years, but found himself on the wrong side of an endo when his X-Raid Mini (a badass little vehicle, if you're asking me) went ass over teakettle in just the second stage.



While Menzies is out, there's another American still in the chase, and while he won't win the race, we're still pulling for him.

Bill Conger is the older brother of my friend Craig, a high school classmate of mine (and the groom at the epic wedding Whitney and I attended in Zihuatenejo last May). I didn't know Bill very well, but Craig's always had a thing for speed. In addition to being fast as hell on his own feet (as a rookie cop, his fellow officers called him 'Flash' and made him chase all the suspects who took off on foot), he owns a stupid-fast Japanese motorcycle that he tools around rural North Carolina upon.

It seems he got that speed jones from his brother.

Bill took his first crack at Dakar in 2012 on a bit of a whim, but only finished three stages. He's back for this year's race, wiser, and a bit more realistic about his objectives. "The goal is to finish and I have to keep that in mind at all moments. Of course there’s a competitor in me but I have to challenge myself to calm down and stay focused. I know I’m capable of it…"

Through four stages, Bill is 97th of 117 motorcycle pilots in the general classification. He's already a badass in my book, even if Dakar is nowhere near Argentina.