Every Good Story Needs A Cliffhanger…

Good morning.

As forewarned and anticipated in the start of summer, I failed to keep routinely writing here and keeping those who are interested up to date. If you followed along last summer, you probably saw it coming. It should be understandable, though. Work never really wraps up calmly and effortlessly and, by this point, I’ve already shared with you the bulk of increasingly mundane details of my day-to-day life in the city. I’m sure I could have mustered up something to talk about, but I’m equally sure that it would have ended up sounding like a journal entry chock-full of a bunch of things I’ve already told you, only in different words. Just think of it as an unannounced, unexplained break in a rickety, confusing relationship — you can cry all you want, but it was for the best.

Thanks to Frontier Airlines’ blatant disregard for convenience — which, though aggravating, is understandable because almost no one flies from New York City to Kansas City — and their choice to switch my flight by a few days, I’ve had an extra five nights in town. Without fail, I’ve fallen into the same seemingly-natural routine customary with a lack of work or school: I’ve gone nocturnal. This isn’t anything new; for some reason — whenever my life lacks formal, daytime responsibility — my body seems to prefer spending the majority of my awake-time in the night and wee-hours of the morning. I took another relaxing and fun trip out to Long Island to visit Greg again, but since I’ve been back, I’ve effortlessly taken up that stupid biological schedule again. I was up late last night doing fuck-all nothing and tried to go to bed around 4 a.m. or so. It didn’t happen, so I just tossed and turned in bed for a few hours and decided that I’d be better served to just begin my day and muscle through the drowsiness later. After all, my flight takes off at 7 a.m. out of LaGuardia tomorrow morning, so I’m going to have to wake up around 4:30 to get my shit together, I’ll have to get a cab around 5:00 and probably won’t make my way through security until about 6:00. Fuck Frontier Airlines — not only do I have to fly to Denver to wait an hour and a half before boarding my flight to Kansas City; I have to wake up before dawn, which is always pure bollocks.

I figure my body will start running out of gas around 3 or 4 p.m. and I’ll start struggling to get things taken care of. That leaves me with the daunting task of getting everything done that I can before the afternoon, and I have a lot of shit to do. I’m not going to have time to do laundry or much else when I get back in KC because I’ll be headed up to Nebraska to meet up with a few friends before heading to Lollapalooza in Chicago on Thursday. Once I land tomorrow, I only have a few hours at my disposal to binge-eat barbecue and see relatives, so I basically am packing/preparing for the weekend, too. I haven’t driven a car in over two months, either, so hopefully I haven’t lost all sense of pace and direction behind the wheel and make it to Chicago and back alive.

I’m trying to think of how I could best recap the last few weeks of work, but nothing really exhilarating/interesting is coming to mind. It’s not like they weren’t exhilarating/interesting to me; I just don’t know how to phrase things for all you non-journalism nerds who may be reading this. There weren’t any big crises or controversies — they were just kind of normal. The last two issues we put out were fucking awesome, though. At the beginning of the summer, our managing editor, Katy, suggested that I keep my ear to the ground for any ideas that could be translated into iPad-interactive infographics — you know, the things you see on BuzzFeed and the Chive where once boring data and statistics are shown in an aesthetically pleasing manner. So I found some stuff on the value of college education in the recession and before the recession, put it all together and sent it along and it turned into this big, badass infographic that came out in Issue #6. Unfortunately, there’s no real way to transfer the tap-able features available on the iPad into something that I could display on the computer, so you’ll have to settle for a basic screenshot. It’s available on my Tumblr, which I’ll talk more about later.

Last Monday, though, I went out to lunch with Tim. We bonded over our mutual loathing for New York sports teams (he hails from the Midwest, as well) and got to talking about the whole journalism industry, as well as my ambitions and goals for my career after college. It was a really productive, insightful discussion. In the middle of it, he asked me if I enjoyed the work I’d done at HP over the last two summers. I didn’t bat an eye before saying “yes,” and elaborating on how much I’d learned and how much I know I’ll miss it. I told him that this is the place I want to be and this is the place I see myself working, too. He seemed to agree and invited me to return for a third internship in NYC next summer. I graciously accepted and nonchalantly took a drink from my glass of water ­— which thankfully wasn’t spilled all over my shirt due to the school-boy giddiness I was fighting so hard to keep internalized. It was that same feeling all over again — I now knew that I would be able to continue doing something that I absolutely fucking love for a publication that I absolutely fucking love. To keep it understated and blunt: it felt damn good and I’m already itching for next summer to start.

My workload didn’t really endure any seismic changes in the last few days, but it was definitely tough leaving on Friday. I really enjoyed working with everyone on the magazine team; everyone was super welcoming and friendly and whenever I fucked up, they didn’t slit my throat, which is always good. I also walked away with a few good friends who were interning with HuffPost College and sat a few desks down. I really hope they all come back next summer or get jobs at HP, because I really enjoyed working with them and would like to do it in the future. I don’t think I need to worry about anyone on the magazine team not being there in the future, though — they’re all the best at what they do and I’m pretty confident that the powers-at-be will be doing their best to make sure they don’t go anywhere. Tim knows that my strengths lie in writing, but if he wants me to work with the magazine team again next summer, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Not to indirectly kiss everyone’s ass, but it was a one-of-a-kind experience that almost no one my age gets the opportunity to be involved with. I’m lucky. Katy brought me cupcakes that morning and thanked me, and I sent out an email to the team thanking them for letting a snot-nosed, 20-year-old frat boy from Kansas get his feet wet. I made sure I didn’t let them down, and I’ll miss working with them.

So I think that’s where I’m going to leave it for now when it comes to this blog. I’m not going to kid myself and say that I’ll continue to update it throughout the year, because you and I both know that I won’t. I’ve got a lot going on — I’m taking 17 hours in the fall and 18 in the spring; I’m writing humor columns for #CTL and the University Daily Kansan and hopefully I’m going to muster up the balls to finally dabble in stand-up comedy. It’s not something that I want to seriously pursue, but it’s something that I’ve always wanted to try and something that I’ve always thought I’d be decent at. Spare time won’t be abundant this year, so we’ll see if it happens.

For now, though, my daily bullshit will still remain available for you via my Twitter and Facebook. I’ll keep Instagramming (even though Kansas is significantly less photogenic than NYC) and I just made a Tumblr, which is more-or-less going to serve as a running online portfolio of my published work. It already has everything I’ve written for the Huffington Post and #CTL and I’ll keep it up to date as more things come along. That way, if you don’t have access to a computer (what’s wrong with you?) or access to a paper-copy of the UDK, my articles and columns will be readily available there. I promise to keep it straight business — none of the day-to-day, journal-esque stuff. If it’s published and my name is on the byline, it’ll be there. So have fun and follow along. I’ve got some good shit planned and coming up in the humor department.

That’s it for this summer, though. Luckily, I know that I’ll be back, so it’s not like this thing is getting put to permanent rest. We’ll call this school year an intermission and Act III will resume next summer when I return to NYC.

Until then, be good. I’ll see you down the road.

All the best
AJ

A brief, yet triumphant synopsis of early July…

Good evening to all you beautiful people — and you ugly ones, too.

Things got a little wackier than usual over the last two weeks on this blog. Almost every year, I hit a month-long period of debilitating writer’s block, usually in the middle of Spring. Once I can get the pen moving again, though, I get this constant craving to write something, anything, as often as I can — usually in the summer, too, which works out perfectly because that’s when I’m in New York getting paid to write every day (or edit … same thing). For those who follow me on Twitter, that should explain a lot. For those of you who read my exhaustive rant on how hot NYC gets in the summer or my long, column-esque piece on Kansas City professional sports, that should explain a lot as well.

The heat wave rant got a shitload of hits compared to usual, and my piece on Kansas City sports fucking doubled the number of page views this blog’s had since I started it in May 2011. Not to discredit the relative “virality” of that post, but I’d never really had huge numbers here anyway. Sure, whenever I’d plug it enough on Facebook and Twitter or whenever I’d link to my stories at the Huffington Post, it’d get some solid numbers, but the KC sports piece blew up. For a post on a personal summer blog to notch a four-digit number is something else. I knew it’d probably beat out every other post I’d written before, but not by that much.

I’ve kind of procrastinated writing tonight’s post because the reaction was so huge for the last one. I’ve never really tried — or wanted — to peddle this thing to anyone outside my social network, so when something like that happens, it kind of knocks you back a bit. I guess I was kind of waiting around for another idea that could maybe garner a similar reaction, but I don’t really want to do that because it isn’t organic. You can’t force things like that; when they happen, they happen. I started writing here as a form of public therapy — a way to keep the blades sharp and a way to keep those who care in the loop with what I’ve been up to. That’s been the goal all along, and while it was sweet to see my stuff spread so rapidly, I feel kind of obligated to get back to the way things were. Rest assured, though, if I think of something similar to those two posts, you’ll see it somehow.

Before I get into recapping my happenings from early July, I do want to thank everyone who took the time to read the KC sports piece, and more importantly, those tweeted it out or shared it on Facebook with their own personal networks. People I talk to all the time, people I haven’t talked to in years and people I’ve never talked to in my life gave me support and shared my work, and that’s not something that happens a lot. I’m really grateful for it and I thank you for doing that.

SO. Because so much time has passed, I don’t really think I’m going to be able to go into much detail about what I’ve been up to lately. It isn’t as fresh in the mind, but I’ll give it a shot. Enjoy the photos, though. I’ve got two weeks’ backlog of Instagrams to dump off here.

As once guaranteed, the Fourth of July was quite the drunken shitshow. This city is a really unique place on that holiday — the majority of the people who live in the actual city are young, so as you can imagine, everyone’s very drunk, jovial and patriotic, as they should be. My friend Kylie and I met up around noon and drank some warm wine (beggars can’t be choosers, and yes, I’m a beggar for four more months) and took the L train to Williamsburg in Brooklyn. We drank with a few of her friends for a while in their apartment before one of them had to leave to catch a flight. A few of the others knew of a party going on in Bushwick, so we headed there. The party was going on in the “backyard” (a glorified back-lot) of some random apartment building. There was a pretty solid band playing and it was full of people I didn’t know, but luckily, alcohol tends to fix that problem quite easily. Because it was the Fourth of July, I opted for the American flag-adorned Bud Heavy tallboys. Bud Heavy isn’t really the ideal beer for a 20-year-old — I’m in college, and when we drink, we tend to drink a lot — because the advertisement doesn’t lie: it’s heavy stuff. We’d been in the hot sun all day, too, so when you combine that with a belly full of full-flavor beer, you get tired. I should have learned better because this was exactly what happened to me last year, but Kylie was apparently just as tired, so we took the Subway back to Manhattan. The sun was already down by the time we got back to the city and we made the horrible decision to eat — which compounds your drunken fatigue — so both of us called it a day around 8 or 9 p.m. So no, I didn’t get to see the fireworks over Manhattan. They moved them from the East River to the Hudson this year, though, so there was really no point; I would have either had to camp out on the West Side Highway all day or I would have had to travel over to New Jersey. Needless to say, I had no desire to do either.

I haven’t really done too much since then. The weeks get pretty exhausting and it’s really liberating to sleep for 12 hours each night of the weekend. I’m not 21, either, so my options aren’t necessarily too plentiful.

The magazine’s been looking pretty damn good lately. I don’t know whether or not I’m at liberty to publicly (or semi-publicly) discuss logistics and numbers, but we’ve almost notched the same amount of downloads as the Huffington Post’s iPad app — which has been around for a year — in just two months. We didn’t publish an issue on the week of the Fourth of July, so luckily everyone kind of had a chance to get a breath and get ahead on future issues. Because of that, we’ve been on schedule as of late — at least from an editorial standpoint. I get to cap off my summer with a bang this week, too: I’d been gathering and pooling datasets for our “Data” page, which our team of (incredible) infographic designers brings to life in a really aesthetically-pleasing and engaging way. They decided to run with my stuff for Issue 6 (out on Friday, July 20), and I’ll get the solo byline for the whole thing. I’m really, really jazzed about it — I saw it today and it’s definitely going to be the standout piece in the ol’ portfolio.

I don’t know, I felt like I had a lot to say when I started writing this and I don’t really anymore. I kind of just rambled on about stuff. Whatever though, you already spent five minutes reading it so there’s nothing we can do about it now. I’d give you your money back if you’d spent it. If you liked it, though, you’re still welcome to give me money if you want.

 

We’ll talk later.

 

All the best
AJ

 

PS- I know there are probably grammatical errors and typos in these things. I don’t really care — I spend 8-10 hours a day editing stories and checking for errors. I really haven’t the slightest interest to do it to my own work.

 

 

 

Why can’t Kansas City ever have its cake and eat it, too?

I’ve mentioned over and over throughout the past week how homesick the Kansas City All-Star game has been making me. To make matters worse, since it’s being broadcast on FOX — which lacks a live streaming option — I have no way of watching it. I have been following it via Twitter feed, and due to this whole David Ortiz incident (if you haven’t heard about it, I’ll get to it), I felt compelled to write.

***

I was born six years after the Kansas City Royals beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1985 World Series and 21 years after the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV. My mom is a Kansas State alumna and, though my father earned his degree later when I was in grade school, he never really seemed to have much of a preference when it came to college sports. Cousins from both sides of my family were University of Kansas students/graduates, so around kindergarten, I started to ‘become’ a KU fan — I just have easily could have been a K-State fan, but for some reason, I never did.

But before that, I never had to question it — I was a Chiefs fan and I was a Royals fan. I never had to ‘become’ one, I just was. I’ve seen pictures of myself in Chiefs and Royals clothes dating so far back that I can’t remember actually owning them or wearing them. Everyone around me was a Chiefs and Royals fan. Since winter birthdays are rare in my family, almost every family function was innately centered around the game — even when it came time to open presents, the Chiefs game would still be on. Sure, Grandma forced Grandpa to put it on mute, but it was still there. Every uncle and cousin would mutter the customary “Ooooh, look at that!” or “Oh wow!” each time any one of us then snot-nosed toddlers opened a present, but they were more or less autopilot functions — their attention was on the game. That’s the way it was, and even though we’ve all grown up and there aren’t as many birthday parties, that’s still the way it kind of is. It probably won’t ever change, nor do I think anyone would want it to.

I’ve had a lot of great memories with both teams. I remember the good old days when Johnny Damon was a Royal; I remember going to games with my neighbor and giggling every time the announcer would call Mike Sweeney up to bat (say his name fast). I remember watching Jermaine Dye play. Because they always seem to be significantly less hopeful than the Chiefs — and because I’ve been to Kauffmann Stadium less than I’ve been to Arrowhead — I remember almost every single time I’ve seen the Royals win in person. It feels pretty damn good each time, because odds that the one game you’ll go to that month will be a win are generally worse than a coin flip — or so they seem. Across the street at Arrowhead, the memories are a bit fonder — I remember when we had Dante Hall and the entire stadium would be on its feet when the other team would be preparing to punt. I remember when it felt like he would run back every single punt return. Then there was Derrick Thomas, too, and then there was Priest Holmes. No matter what, Tony Gonzalez was always there, too. Whether or not we ever win a Super Bowl, I’ll still tell my kids about how I saw us bury the Broncos with a cold-blooded, last second field goal on Thanksgiving night. I’ll still tell them about how I saw us beat the defending champion Steelers in overtime before a house full of black and gold. I’ll still tell them about how we ended the defending champion Packers’ winning streak before a house full of green and gold.

But, to date, I’ve still never seen either team win a playoff game with my naked eye. Frankly, I haven’t had too many opportunities. Sure, I saw the (then) Kansas City Wizards win the MLS Cup in 2000, before Sporting Park was built and before they changed their name and before anyone outside of the KC soccer community really cared. Sure, I watched the Jayhawks win the national championship in 2008 and watched them play in it again this year, but while those were both sweet as can be, they weren’t the same. Outside of Lawrence, it was only the Jayhawk alumni and fans who were celebrating in Kansas City. When we won, the Mizzou and K-State fans either didn’t watch it or just didn’t talk about it, and when we lost, they either didn’t watch it or just spent all their time harassing us about how we “choked.” Either way, only a portion of the city had a good time on those two nights.

I’m lucky — when the Jayhawks did it in 2008, I felt the indescribable nirvana that comes with your team winning it all. Kansas City-bred (and born after 1985) K-State and Mizzou fans have never felt it — it makes me cringe that I’m shedding the slightest bit of sympathy toward either, but bear with me. Kansas City sports fans (born after 1985) with no local college preference have never felt it. Not only has there never been a moment during my lifetime where our entire city has celebrated the sweet glory of “winning it all” —there’s never even been a moment where our entire city has been under the prime time, national sports spotlight.

Well, for me there hasn’t. The All-Star game is going on now as I type, and I’m in New York City.

But for every young Kansas City native — regardless of their college preference — this week has been the biggest one. It’s a different kind of big, though; the Royals are probably still doomed to be cellar-dwellers come September and, even though Sports Illustrated listed the Chiefs as Super Bowl contenders, it still feels too good to be true. But none of that matters, because it’s the first time everyone’s talking about Kansas City. Everyone’s watching Kansas City. The unfortunate souls doomed to work this weekend at every one of Kansas City’s barbecue establishments are sweating like Mayor Sly James during “Take Your Son to Work Day” (Google ‘Sly James son.’ He’s a political nightmare). Kansas City’s in the headlines, Kansas City’s on the TV screens.

Enter Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees. He’s tasted from the silver spoon, he’s drank from the Steinbrenner family’s diamond-encrusted pimp cup. He’s a Yankee, and he knows what it is to win. He won the Home Run Derby last year, which made him the ‘captain’ for the American League Derby team this year. The quotes around ‘captain’ are intentional — it’s beyond trivial to try and over-dignify his responsibilities with that word. He gets to pick which guys get to come up and swing at slow pitches during a sold-out batting practice. There’s no pressure and there’s no huge reward — the winner goes down as a footnote on some page in the nether indexes of baseball history books. Their team doesn’t benefit at all and their league doesn’t benefit at all. Really, the only people who benefit from the whole anti-climactic, effortless and depraved shitshow that is the Home Run Derby are the fans and those who receive the charity donations.

So obviously, there’s no real pressure for Robinson Cano when he puts his team together. Sure, he’s a competitor and doesn’t want to lose, but there’s no real consequence if the American League doesn’t win. So, seeing as this is the first time Kansas City has had an All-Star game since Queen Elizabeth II was sexually attractive, it would make sense to let a Royal participate in the derby. The stakes remain the same — nothing really happens if the AL wins, nothing really happens if they lose. But Kansas City isn’t Los Angeles or Miami; people generally don’t think, “Oh wow, the All-Star Game is in KC. That’d be an amazing place to take a week-long vacation. Pack your bags, kids, we’re going to Kansas!” For the most part, those in attendance will be Kansas City natives, and subsequently, Royals fans. Even if someone like Billy Butler has little-to-no chance at winning the whole thing, the fans will get to see one of their hometown boys participate in the derby for the first time since 1991. Even better, they’ll see it at the K.

Before finalizing his ‘team,’ (once again, that’s such a fucking stupid word for such a trivial event) Robinson Cano said he’d call up Billy Butler because it was the “right thing to do.” Outside of KC, it didn’t make headlines, because that’s precisely what it was: the right thing to do. To steal from Joe Posnanski, it’s like inviting the bride’s parents to her wedding; there’s no rule that says you have to, you just do it.

But for whatever skewed, nonsensical reason, Cano didn’t do it. So when he was introduced at the derby, he was violently booed. When it came time for him to swing his bat, the booing damn-near matched the decibel levels of a botched 4th quarter call in Arrowhead. Each time he failed to go deep (which was every time), the crowd cheered. He didn’t hit a single home run and the Kansas City faithful were absolutely jazzed about it. The national press (unfortunately, that includes my own employer) called the Kansas City fans tasteless and classless and scolded us for “ruining the occasion” for Cano. I’m not going to waste time justifying the jeers, because if you have any sense, sympathy or taste — which automatically disqualifies all Yankee fans — it should justify itself.

Enter David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox, who said he’d take one at-bat during this evening’s All-Star Game before bowing out so Billy Butler could play. Ortiz said it was because “it’s [Butler’s] hometown.” I, along with countless others, tweeted and posted our appreciation for Ortiz’s gesture. With that, there’d be a chance — though rather slim — that maybe Butler would yard one in the All-Star Game at the K. Maybe Billy’d hit a grand slam. Maybe he’d hit a walk-off! Sure, you’d be better served to bet your 401k at the dog tracks, but it could still happen.

Then, sure as shit, Ortiz goes and does the same thing Cano does and takes a second at-bat. Billy got in the game eventually, but only after getting snubbed by two big-name, internationally-known multi-millionaires.

Billy Butler isn’t a big name. No one outside of the United States (and that’s even generous) knows who the fuck Billy Butler is. Billy Butler isn’t rolling in the big bucks.

Billy Butler plays in Kansas City. Billy Butler is just like every single athlete who’s ever played in Kansas City but wasn’t on the ’85 Royals team or the ’70 Chiefs team — he makes decent money and he plays with decent players, but his offseason always starts earlier than he’d like. Each time he sees himself on Sportscenter or Baseball Tonight, he probably gets a bigger kick out of it than many other pro-athletes because it doesn’t happen all the time. He may have his number retired when he grows old, but outside of Kansas City, it isn’t likely that his name will ring many bells. ‘Tis the unfortunate and inescapable reality of playing for a Kansas City sports team.

Really, being a Kansas City sports fan is pretty much just that, too: an unfortunate and inescapable reality. We were doomed from the minute we first fell in love with our teams. Every now and then, a moment will come along when you think, “this could be it” and cross your fingers and cross your toes and dot your ‘i’s’ and cross your ‘t’s and wear your lucky shirt and wear your lucky undies. You don’t need me to tell you — it never comes. And though I doubt anyone except for Billy Butler was thinking “this could be it,” every one of us was thinking that the All-Star Game could have been the one event that would alter everyone’s perception about our mid-sized, corn-fed “cow town.” We thought maybe the rest of the country would remember this All-Star Game or maybe they’d think — brace yourselves for this one… — that Kansas City is actually a reputable, classy, cool sports town. But like always, it never really works out like that.

Billy Butler plays in Kansas City. So when he came onto the field tonight, he received a standing ovation. Some idiots on Twitter even had the balls to say that his popularity in KC may usurp George Brett’s (they’re idiots). From now on, Billy Butler jerseys and t-shirts will sell better than hot dogs. He’ll probably never win a championship for us, but we’ll love him as if he’d won us 10. ‘Tis the beautiful and inescapable reality of playing for a Kansas City sports team.

And really — even if we never, ever win another championship again — being a Kansas City sports fan will always be pretty much that, too: a beautiful and inescapable reality. We’re not the kind of people who shy away from our teams when they’re not winning, because frankly, they’re usually not winning. We don’t just ‘like’ our teams; we know the names of every player worth mentioning. We all have tattered, worn out jerseys in our closet dating back to our childhoods with names like “Saberhagen” and “Dye” and “Boerigter” and “Gonzalez” on them. When little moments come around and we actually prevail? We never, ever forget them. When the big moments come around and we fall, like always?

We never, ever forget those either. But believe me, we will remember how painful each and every one of those moments was if we ever “do it,” if we ever “win it all.” Each year we rack up more bitter, it’s only going to make the sweet taste so much sweeter.

And one of those days, we will “do it.” We will “win it all.” The anguish, the pain and the excruciatingly long wait will all have been worth it.

There are no doubts in my mind that Kansas City is one of the best damn sports towns in the United States, if not the best.

If we ever do it, the rest of the United States won’t have any doubts, either.

***

All the best
AJ

A thorough essay on precisely how fucking hot it is in New York City today…

Bonjour.

 

 

By the looks of it, our entire country’s shaping up to become a vast, desolate wasteland of ash, rubble and smolder by the end of this summer. Apparently it’s 106 degrees in my hometown of Kansas City right now, and according to the damn near illegible weather map I just pulled up on Google, I think they’re only losing to the few splotches of light pink around New Mexico and Arizona. I could be wrong — I pulled a C- in meteorology class during my senior year of high school and my only source of weather information comes from the drop-down weather app on my iPhone — and there could be a few more miserable places to be in the United States than Kansas City, but it’s still safe to say they’re not having the best time right now.

It’s only — and I’m only saying “only” because the next statement follows the above paragraph — 91 degrees in the city right now. Yes, that’s technically 15 degrees less than it is in the Midwest, but I’m willing to fight anyone who has the gall to say it’s more violently uncomfortable in Kansas City than it is in New York right now.

Imaginably, heat waves aren’t too enjoyable in Kansas City, but they’re a completely different story in NYC. It doesn’t just get hot here — it gets immeasurably hot. Oppressively hot. It-feels-like-twenty-naked-Finnish-bastards-are-dripping-sweat-in-the-sauna-that-has-taken-up-inside-your-lungs hot. When you first step outside, it doesn’t feel like you’re taking a breath; it feels like you’re taking a 10-second drag from the burning end of a cigarette. Once you get acclimated to breathing so hard and deeply that it alone makes you sweat, each new block greets you with long, rusted grates on the ground which allow the Subway system to breathe. God forbid a train pass by below while you’re standing on or near one of these vents. When that happens, the already stifling heat is compounded by the painful blast of dense, steamy air that rockets its way out from the underbellies of New York City onto the pissed off, exhausted and already short-tempered NYC populace.

 

 

For those of you who haven’t been in NYC during one of these weekend-long hell fires , or if you haven’t seen Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing, It’s a little difficult to understand the effect that all of this has on the people.  The five boroughs are home to a little more than 8 million people, and Manhattan is home to approximately 1.5 million people. The fact that so many live here isn’t what makes things difficult in heat, though; it’s the density that makes it hell — the island of Manhattan is only 23 square miles.

For my friends and family from Kansas, I’ll give you this for reference: the entire City of Leawood is 15 square miles with a population of about 32,000. For the sake of visualization, let’s take Prairie Village and a little bit of Mission Hills and herd them into Leawood’s city limits. That should give us about 23 square miles, give or take. Now, add another 1.4 million people, plus about 10,000-20,000 European tourists in capri pants, all-white K-Swisses and Armani Exchange shirts.

“But AJ,” you say. “If we added all those people to this new (and as you could imagine) nauseously snobby, decadent, opulent, depraved Leawood-Prairie Village-Mission Hills hybrid town (or hellhole), where would they live?”

Well, you’re going to have to put them somewhere. Why not build thousands of buildings out of concrete and steel and cram everyone in.

In case you’re an idiot, concrete and steel are good for a lot of things. Not only are they the go-to choices for building solid, sustainable infrastructure; they’re pretty damn good at absorbing every last ray of merciless sunlight and transferring all that heat into the stagnant, breeze-less air.

So that’s why it’s more unbearable in New York City than it is in Kansas City today. I’ve lived through 18 summers in KC and two in NYC, so I feel like I’m at some liberty to discuss the matter. If anyone’s experienced more of both and would like to argue their case, I’m happy to hear you out.

 

 

Thankfully, this fucking heat wave is supposed to let up next week. It better.

 

All the best
AJ

 

P.S. I was originally going to write about my drunken escapades on the Fourth of July, but Mother Nature’s savage punishment for the good people of New York City kind of sapped my motivation. Stories about work and life as usual will come tomorrow.

A Game Of Inches…

Buenas noches.

 

 

If you were around on Thursday when I last wrote, I mentioned being at or near the halfway point of this summer. Turns out I was a few days early because yesterday was the actual halfway point, which makes today the first day of the home stretch — the first minute of the second half, if you will. Just how that would leave 29 minutes left in a football game, it leaves me with 29 days left in New York City. If you caught it, the title of this post is derived from Al Pacino’s famous halftime speech in Any Given Sunday. It’s a loose reference, mind you, because Pacino’s speech is meant to rally the team together for a comeback in the second half because they’d been getting the shit kicked out of them thus far in the game. I haven’t been getting the shit kicked out of me — things couldn’t really be going better — but I sat here for about five minutes trying to think of a title before eventually coming up with this one. I think it’s clever, so if you don’t, you’re an idiot.

 

 

Since the cheesiness and corniness are already oozing freely into my writing tonight, I’ll take a stab at making another loose connection between Al Pacino’s speech about “inches” and my recent happenings. Back in the day — when most print newspapers were still culturally and societally relevant — journalists and editors used to gauge the length of a story or article by inches. This was the most effective way to do it before computers rolled around with their fancy ‘word count’ features.  So, in the parlance of the yesteryear, I’ve had a solid number of inches posted since we last spoke.

 

 

Today, I went through and posted all of the stories from issues #1 and #2 of Huffington onto The Huffington Post. Luckily for my grandmothers and anyone else who reads what I write, this means that the texts of both stories I’ve written in the magazine are now available to those without iPads. There’s nothing fancy about them — I was literally told the copy/paste the text from the magazine article onto the website — but they’re there, now. I encourage you to check them out if you haven’t got anything more productive to do with your evening.

 

Click here to read.

 

This story appeared in Issue #2 two weeks ago. Dr. Good was a blast to interview and is doing some pretty innovative and honorable things when it comes to how we deal with stray animals.

 

Click here to read.

I’m not really sure why this one has my face on it, but when I filed it, it showed up. This story appeared in our double issue, Issue #3-4, last week. Interestingly enough, one of the sources is going to be a KU student. It’s pretty strange when people voice their emails real professionally and you know that they go to your school, but it was cool to be able to relate like that.

So there they are. I’m not sure how many other things I’ll have published this summer. We don’t ship another issue until next Thursday and I know that I won’t have a byline in it. After that, I think I’ll only be around for one more issue, so unless something comes up and I’m asked to write something, these may be it. I’m cool with that though — I didn’t even think I’d get to write much at all this summer. Doing editorial work on the magazine is a lot of work and there isn’t much time to write.

The Fourth of July is on Wednesday. It should be good. I’ll tell you about it when we speak next.

All the best
AJ