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Monday, April 18, 2011

CONFESSIONS OF A MAD SPORTS ADDICT

BOOK 1: Rebels & Saints; a Weekend in October. CH 4.

THE LOST ID: PREVIOUSLY IN NEW ORLEANS

I wouldn't consider (myself) us strip club guys, even though I’ve had my share of
adventures in them. While Steve passed on both our road-trip strip club escapades, that didn't stop John and me from another legendary adventure two years ago during our trip to New Orleans for the LSU/Georgia game.

While tearing up Bourbon Street, we stumbled onto Rick’s Cabaret strip club. It really seemed like a great idea at the time. That’s what Bourbon Street and cheap booze do to you; make bad ideas seem brilliant. After several laps up and down the strip and getting thoroughly hammered on beers, hand grenades and test tube shots, we were going in, except Steve who went back to the hotel.

John and I burst inside with big cocktails and even bigger buzzes. We blew past the host stand and made ourselves comfortable at the first open table. Two strippers immediately came over and put on their best charm routine. Having come from the talent agency world where every conversation has an agenda, we found their small-town version adorable. Once they discovered we were from Hollywood, the tables were turned on who was seducing who. One girl was kind enough to let us test drive the feel of her brand new ‘assets’. They seem about as real as the Easter Bunny. Come to think of it, they were fluffy and cute, so…after debating their quality, we gave ‘em rave reviews. We told her she should come to Hollywood and we’d make her a star. Yeah, we were drunk and cocky and seeing how far we could take this rouse...it was truly all in fun.

Their boss came over and took them aside for a quick chat. Apparently they seemed to be enjoying themselves too much. Immediately upon their return, they gave us the hard sell for ‘private’ dances...for only $200, but we were tapped out. Luckily, the girls were kind enough to point us to a cash machine across the street. John and I made a bee-line…him for the cash machine, me for the hotel.

Having had my fill of stripper assets for free and seeing no need to drop $200 after the fact, especially since I was legitimately nearly broke, I wished John luck and went back to the hotel bar where I met a lovely girl. Later that morning, John came stumbling off the elevator and found us. “What the fuck happened to you?” he said. “I go to the cash machine, turn around and you’re gone!” I smiled. “Yeah, I had my money’s worth at that place so I came back here. And look who I met!” I turn to introduce Miss Unknown and then it slipped out; “What was your name again?” She wasn’t thrilled.

I woke up the next morning with a slap mark on my face and John woke up missing his wallet and ID. We spent most of that day tracking down a replacement ID, which included a trip to the police station to report it stolen. We did all of these fun-filled tasks with a harsh hangover. Ah, New Orleans!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

CONFESSIONS OF A MAD SPORTS ADDICT

BOOK 1: Rebels & Saints; a Weekend in October. CH 3.

JERRY

Jerry (last name withheld to protect the guilty) is an entire R-rated story unto himself and his apartment was as unique as him; a gaudy collection of pseudo porn pictures and busts that doubled as ‘art’; dark tapestries, tacky animal rugs (a stuffed tiger was most prominent; it’s full head staring up at us), a red couch that would make Liberace proud. This must be where good taste goes to die, I thought.

The bedroom has a canopy bed in the center and a hot tub in the next room. I could practically hear the 70’s porn music in the background. I want to take a picture to
prove this place exists, but fear for my life if I do. It wouldn’t so much be a picture as it would probably be evidence of some kind. Something about this place makes me think I may need a strong lawyer and an even stronger alibi eventually.

As soon as we meet him we know he’s like no other; a larger-than-life, barrel-chested, good-time guy who is always at the ready with a cocktail, a story and a hint of danger lurking under the surface. We all like him immediately.
Next up is Garrett, Jerry’s pistol-packing sidekick. Garrett’s function is vague, but in his own words “I never leave Jerry’s side” which we found interesting. Based on the tasks we witness, we conclude Garrett is Jerry’s glorified ssistant/sidekick. He laughs at all of Jerry’s jokes and Jerry trusts him. You probably can’t be in his type of business without people like Garrett covering your back. Garrett also functions to perpetuate Jerry’s quasi-gangster image…and it works; none of us want to piss off the Tony Soprano of Memphis.

Jerry wants to be a TV star and John is trying to package a TV show around him and his lifestyle. Jerry is a connoisseur of low-grade strip clubs, owning nearly twenty in the Deep South. The show would be a fascinating look at the seedy underbelly of the strip club business and lifestyle. It's more than tits and ass; it’s litigation, shake downs, crooked cops, fines, threats from the City Council, employee turnover, liquor license issues and that’s all before lunch. Then there’s the tits and ass.

His dancers’ attractiveness was...variable. We are warned in advance not
to look at any teeth. It was sage advice. Employment at Jerry’s clubs obviously did not include a strong dental plan. I take that back; dim lighting in the club was the dental plan.

Knowing we’d be in the South for our football trip, Jerry invited us to Memphis for a night on the town, perhaps his way of auditioning for us. He arranged for our Memphis hotel, limo and the tour bus that would haul us from Memphis to New Orleans. Jerry uses the bus to tour his clubs, keeping things in order and living large in the process. It was actually a practical method of travel; he can work and rest while commuting in style. Jerry’s businesses were spread throughout a 300 mile radius in the South and that’s a lot of driving when you have to visit all of
them in a short time. He lives in Southern California most of the time, so his Memphis trips pack a lot into them.

Ever the good host, Jerry asks us what we all drank. I said 'beer and wine' and
immediately regret it. If his floors weren’t covered in tacky rugs, you could have heard a pin drop. Jack Daniels, vodka Red Bulls and Jagermeister were the only acceptable choices as I quickly learned. Thus, Jerry dubbed me 'chardonnay' which was hilarious and ironic considering I have never even had a chardonnay. Nevertheless, I get to own that pansy nickname the rest of the weekend.

The hard nasty stuff is what they drink, so I force-feed myself vodka and Jaeger
shots and in between I try to understand the appeal of cough-medicine flavored liquor. I drank up the booze and Southern hospitality and enjoy the hell out of both. Knowing this was leading up to a night at Jerry’s Strip Club, this seemed appropriate preparation.

Monday, April 4, 2011

CONFESSIONS OF A MAD SPORTS ADDICT

BOOK 1: Rebels & Saints; a Weekend in October. CH 2.

Our fourth annual football trip promised to be our most ambitious effort yet; even crazier than last year’s cross-Texas adventure and far less wholesome than Green Bay was. Previous trips have taken us to Arlington, Austin, Dallas, Baton Rouge, Green Bay and New Orleans. This weekend would start in Memphis and end 360 miles later in New Orleans on Halloween. A wise man once said “It’s not the miles, it’s the amount of debauchery packed into those miles that counts.” Ok, it was me that said that and I’m really not all that wise. Anyway, this trip includes debauchery, depravation, beads, busses, hot tubs, hot tub propositions, a liquor locker, and so
much more.

Friday, as we lift off from LAX, I get the coveted picture of Steve slumped over and
sleeping in the most uncomfortable position imaginable on the plane. Getting that picture is a tradition on our trips, so now if felt like we were officially underway.

Memphis, Tennessee

We arrive in Memphis to a limousine waiting curbside. There’s nothing cooler than a
driver holding up a sign with your name on it. Unfortunately, mine wasn’t on it. John’s was. Climbing inside to find a fully stocked bar waiting for us was pretty cool though. We pop cold beers and toast the start of our adventure. This weekend we’re going to Oxford Mississippi for 'Ole Miss/Auburn and then down to New Orleans for the Saints/Steelers Sunday Night game on Halloween.

But our adventure starts in Memphis, the largest city in Tennessee with a population
pushing 650,000. My only previous connection to it was watching Craig Brewer’s masterpiece HUSTLE AND FLOW, a personal favorite movie of mine. It brilliantly captured the humid, gritty tone of the city. Part of the movie was shot in a ‘club’ belonging to our Memphis host Jerry, whom we’re about to meet.

My only other time in Tennessee was in Nashville, a fun and charming city. Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Muddy Waters, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Robert Johnson, W. C. Handy, B.B. King all grew up around Memphis, renowned as the birthplace of the Mississippi Delta blues. “Welcome to Memphis, boys” I say. “Let’s try not to lose any wallets or ID’s this weekend, especially in New Orleans. I’m looking at you John!”

Off group laughs, John smiles and gives me a one-finger salute. There was a case of identity loss two years ago in New Orleans, but more on that later. Tonight, football takes a backseat to the indulgence of vices or“human weakness” as Jerry would say.

As we enter our hotel room at the Memphis Hilton we’re hit right in the face with the
smell of spilled bong water and ganja, compliments of the previous tenant or perhaps rogue room service personnel. We promptly switch rooms. Knowing tonight will end up at one of Jerry's clubs, John and I start making bets on when Steve would begin his back-out-of-going-to-the-club plan.

Sure enough, while getting ready in the hotel, Steve starts 'coughing' and mentioning he's not feeling well. I text John "someone is already starting to 'cough'. LOL was the reply. After cleaning up, the cleanest we would be the whole trip, we jump back in the limo and head to Jerry’s to pick him up for dinner.

Friday, April 1, 2011

CONFESSIONS OF A MAD SPORTS ADDICT

I'm shaking it up. Since the Sonics have gone off on an extended road trip to Oklahoma City, I think it's only fair that we take a look at other sports road trips. The following posts are from my annual sports road trips. They are being organized for a book - but you can read them here for free. I hope you enjoy reading about 'em as much as I enjoyed the trips.

CONFESSIONS OF A MAD SPORTS ADDICT - The Deep South Experience: Me vs. Memphis; Ole Miss vs. Auburn; Saints vs. Steelers.

CH. 1

Road trips and sports – it’s what many guys dream of. Sadly, many guys never get to
experience them. Things like work, family, and incarceration prevent it. This book is for those guys (and girls!) who want to enjoy our amazing trips and adventures and at a fraction of the cost! It’s also for those just starting their own trips; now you can know what to expect and where to go in the great places we’ve been to; the nightlife, restaurants, hotels, bars and clubs, stadiums, tailgating and more. I’ll even throw in tips on how to handle losing your ID moments before boarding a plane out of New Orleans for free! It’s more than an adventure book; it’s an
Idiot’s Guide. That either makes you an idiot for reading this, or me for writing it. So here we go...

I’ll admit it; I may have a problem. I love sports; football to be more precise and college football to be exact. I’ll watch nearly any college game. It starts with, perhaps, a morning Michigan/Ohio State game and ends with me staying late up to catch a Hawaii home game against Utah. The teams may change but the passion for the game remains steady. I’ve lost entire Saturdays to the games on more than one occasion. I can’t help it, I just love the games.

What I don’t love are fantasy sports. Fantasy sports have become a national obsession for many people, an admitted addiction for some. Everyone’s playing fantasy football, baseball, basketball or scrabble these days. So, let me just get this out of the way now; I don’t play any of ‘em. I never have. I love the games for the game itself, not the stats. Strategy, adjustments,fantastic finishes, great comebacks, missed kicks, crucial turnovers and the passion of intense rivalries are what make games great to me. That’s lost in fantasy sports. I admit I participate
regularly in NCAA tournament pools, but am one of the last few who don’t play in any fantasy leagues.

In all that stat crunching, something gets lost; the game itself. How can you root for your home team while simultaneously hoping the other team’s quarterback throws for 400 yards to move you up in your fantasy league? Sorry, that’s divided loyalties and it waters down the meaning of the game. In this obsessed-with-stat-crunching and want-to-participate-from-the-couch era we live in, I totally understand the allure of fantasy sports. I just don’t play them. I grew up playing the real thing. You know what I do now? I go to the games. A lot of ‘em.

These are the stories of our annual sports trips across America...and they are all true. Who are we? Me; Jeff (real name), John, Steve, and this year we added Mark to the mix (Their names have been changed for their own protection). John grew up in Southern California, played baseball in college and works at a major talent agency in the television department. Mark grew up in Georgia, went to Vanderbilt and also works in television with John. I grew up in Seattle playing sports fanatically and going to every sporting event I could; NFC Championship games, NCAA Finals, Rose Bowls, NBA Finals, endless MLB, NBA, NFL and college football games.

College football has always been my passion. Now I write books about sports trips. Steve is from Cleveland, so naturally he is a frustrated Cleveland sports fan (just some of the heartbreaks; LeDrive, LeFumble, LeBron) and he works in the mobile content business. I don’t really know what that means but it sounds cool. We live and work in Los Angeles.

Four years ago we began taking football trips around the country and it all started on a whim. John, Steve, and I all would meet at Mulberry Street Pizza and we’d always end up talking sports. Steve’s father is a former big-time sports agent who represented some Hall-of-Famers, so sports were a natural topic to us. John suggested the first trip. “Let’s go see a game at Lambeau before Favre is gone. Time is running out.” We did it and it was an adventure. We sat on the 50 yard-line and watched Brett Favre lead the Packers to a 34-0 victory over their bitter
division rival. Luckily, that was prior to all the sad Favre drama that would soon follow. Our trips have grown ambitiously since that game, and now you are about read about them.