2009

My very special New Year’s Eve

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At this time every December, I am required to tell my favorite New Year’s Eve story of all time.

So I will.

In the winter of 1995 I was a 23-year-old writer for The (Nashville) Tennessean, back home in New York for the holidays. My friend Dan worked for a major corporation in the city, and he told me one of his co-workers was having the New Year’s Eve party to end New Year’s Eve parties. “It’s gonna be incredible,” Dan said. “Guy is loaded.” So we decided to go—Dan, me, our longtime friend Paul, Mike Lewis (the Daytona sports writer), Dan’s roommate. Dan actually had to secure passes from the host, whose apartment was a stone’s throw from the Times Square ball drop.

On the night of Dec. 31, we all met at Dan’s apartment, then walked to Times Square. We handed a couple of police officers our passes, and they let us through a barricade. The apartment building where the guy lived was gigantic, as well as beautiful. A lobby with plush carpets, expensive paintings, piped-in classical music, etc. We took the elevator to the penthouse, and were greeted warmly by the host. “You guys are the first ones here,” he said. “But make yourselves at home.”

We did. The bar was loaded, the food was spectacular. We ate and chatted, drank and chatted. The goals were pretty clear—have fun, get drunk, hopefully meet some women, hook up, so on and so on.

Then, gradually, guests began to arrive.

Two men.

Three men.

Four men.

Three men.

Two men.

Five men.

Six men.

Two more men.

Paul looked at me, real funny-like. “Jeff,” he said, “this is a gay New Year’s party.”

Indeed, it was.

I’ll never forget it. My friends were well-dressed, which was the norm at the party. I was wearing a University of Tennessee football jersey, which was not the norm (One cannot have a more prominent NOT GAY! neon sign than a Tennessee football jersey). Some guy kissed Paul, and at one point Mike looked around and said, “You know what—I’m gonna mingle!”

It wasn’t awkward, but fun. Joyful. Memorable. As the clock counted down to midnight, I stood on the guy’s balcony, bottle of bubbly in hand, surrounded by, oh, 150 gay men. When 1996 arrived, everyone started yelling and cheering, then making out. One big simultaneous make-out.

It’s my favorite New Year memory.

Happy New Year!

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I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has stopped by my website this past year. We agree, we disagree, we fight over everything from Barack Obama to Hall & Oates to Xavier Nady, but—come year’s end—it’s merely a blog … entertainment, social commentary and little more.

So happy new year to all, and please continue to come and be heard in 2010!

Best,

Jeff Pearlman

anngold22@gmail.com

An intriguing question of safety

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In a riveting piece in today’s Toronto Star, the question is asked: Should America turn toward the Israelification of its airports?

My answer, after reading the article: Absolutely.

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I’m a die-hard liberal who stands strongly against wire-tapping and other evil ways of probing the private lives of fellow Americans. But this is different. Once someone enters an airport, reasonable tactics in the name of safety are OK with me. That’s doesn’t mean racial profiling, which is just wrong. But do I have a problem with full body scans? No. With Israel-tough standards? No.

Trust me, read the article.

Mike Leach

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Let’s start with the IF.

If Mke Leach, Texas Tech’s football coach did what he is accused of doing …

If Mike Leach locked a player with a concussion in a dark room as a form of punishment …

If Mike Leach locked a player with a concussion in a dark room as a form of punishment—twice …

If Mike Leach did what Adam James says he did, he must never coach a college football team again. Not a Division I program desperate to win and willing to give a man a second chance. Not a Division II program looking to provide the venue for a widely-covered comeback story. Not even Division III, where the coaches are often high school-caliber. Never, ever, ever, ever.

But even if he coated Adam James’ body in Cheeze Whiz, locked him in a basemen and fed him to 10,000 rats; even if he forced Adam James to mop the Texas Tech bathroom floor with his tongue; even if he shoved a broomstick through his eye sockets and forced him to dress up as John Oates for Halloween … even if he did the absolute worst things imaginable to man, Mike Leach will get another chance to coach college football.

And that is a sad thing.

How?

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Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and wonder, “How did I get here?”

I really don’t understand it. I feel like I should be 21. Sometimes, 25. But I look at my reflection, and I’m aging. My hairline isn’t what it once was, I have bags under my eyes, occasionally I’ve gotta tug out a gray hair. The years from 13 through 30 didn’t seem to go that fast. They didn’t crawl, but they didn’t soar past, either. I enjoyed them, without thinking much about aging. But now, at 37, I can see myself at 40. At 50. At 60. At 70. At 80. At 90. At Dead.

Any boyish features have pretty much vanished. The lines on my forehead are deeper than they were a year ago. My back hurts when I wake up. Sometimes, in a desperate swipe at youth, I’ll wear a backward baseball cap. Or hold a conversation about hip-hop or flicks with someone 10 … 15 years my junior. But the Fountain of Youth doesn’t exist, and no matter how many times I tell myself today’s 37 is yesterday’s 27, well, it’s not. It’s me trying to comfort myself.

I don’t fear aging. I just don’t like it. I want to stay 25 forever. Hell, I’d be happy sticking at 37 forever. But 38 comes in a matter of months, the years flying by without a break for lunch.

How did i get here?

There is no greater indictment …

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… of idiot, brain-malfunctioning blog comment droppers than the person, identified as “PS” who wrote this beneath the video of Iranian security forces running over protesters with a car:

Kind of reminds me of you writing about the Pirates.

Not surprising. Just really, really sad.

Does nasty mail hurt?

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Jeff Pearlman needs to stop writing PERIOD! That includes articles, books, grocery lists, you name it! I never read one thing he’s evern written that was worth a bucket of spit!

•••

Over the course of my career, I’ve often had people say, “I don’t know how you deal with the angry letters—I certainly couldn’t.”

Indeed, in the 15 years since graduating Delaware, I’ve received a ton of so-called Hate Mail. I’m certainly not unique—most anyone in this business has experienced the same sort of thing. I believe my first professional hate letter came in the summer of 1993, when I interned at The Tennessean in Nashville prior to my senior year of college. The paper had allowed me to write a column, so I did one on how New Yorkers don’t understand what southerners are talking about. It was pretty silly and sort of offensive and poorly written. Anyhow, a secretary said, “Jeff, you’ve got a letter.” And there it was—a postcard with a heart stamp on one side and GO BACK TO NEW YORK, YANKEE JEW BOY FAGGOT on the other.

That was a harsh introduction to life as a writer. Through the years I’ve received angry letters of all sorts—anti-Semitic, racist, personal, ridiculous. John Rocker’s mother compared me to Jesus Christ, a Pirates fans recently called me “an ass**** d***wad,” a University of Delaware cross country runner (I had been on the team years before) called me “a disgrace to the school.”

So, does hate mail hurt? In a word: Yes.

Not that I cry over it. I don’t. But it never feels good hearing you’re a dolt, a moron, an anus. The worst, to be honest, is when people say you’re not a good writer. It’s a silly thing to be stung by, because I’ve lived my dream career, and I believe in my books, and an angry note shouldn’t scar that. But, still, I’m not a robot. I try and write with a lot of passion and heart. Gary Smith, my old SI colleague, once said that every word should have meaning, and I subscribe to that viewpoint (not always on the blog, to be honest, which I view as more vent diary than anything else). When I write a book, i read that thing, oh, 200 times before it leaves my hands the final time. When I write a column, I go over it and over it and over it and over it again. Mistakes are inevitable, and surely there are pieces I’d love to take back. But they all have meaning … all mean something to me.

I’m babbling. Fire away. Call me every nasty word in the book.

But whether you’re yelling at writers or athletes or garbage men or actors, it never feels good.

Casey is a very fun girl

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My daughter Casey is 6-years old and a great writer. Today I am running her first-ever article on my blog. It’s short, but undeniably brilliant. Enjoy …

By CASEY PEARLMAN

Staff Writer

Casey is a very fun girl!

Because she loves to go swimming. Cause she likes to make shows.

One time Casey went bungie jumping.

One legacy of 9/11

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So Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, has been catching a lot of heat for saying “the system worked” after a would-be terrorist was stopped from blowing up an airplane a few days ago. And, indeed, she deserves the flogging. If “the system worked” means you got very, very, very lucky, well, the system worked.

Truth be told, despite millions upon millions of dollars being poured into airline safety measures after 9/11, we still seem wide open to some guy blowing up a plane with a device stashed in his undies. In fact, if there’s one thing we were sadly reminded of last week, it’s that the skies are not 100 percent safe; that the government can’t fully protect us; that there will be other terrorist attacks, that people will probably die.

However, another legacy exists, too. And it’s an important one.

Before 9/11, people occasionally hijacked airlines. They waited until the plane was in the sky, screamed “Bomb!” and told everyone to remain calm; that they were taking the plane to [FILL IN THE COUNTRY] until [FILL IN THE GOVERNMENT] delivers either some political prisoner or lots of money. Everyone sat and waited, scared, concerned, but, ultimately, believing they would get out alive. And usually, it’s safe to say, they would.

Those days are over. Think of the shoe bomber. Think of a few days ago. From now on, if a group of people try and hijack/blow up an airplane, they will get the living s*** kicked out of them. Maybe the plane will still go down, maybe it won’t. But there are no more free lunches for terrorists. You so much as pull out a wire with a beeping sound, someone in a neighboring seat will club you with his forearm.

In other words, while it’s important to have the government protect us, perhaps it’s most important to have, well, us protect us.

Word.