Wednesday, September 11, 2013

week two: the little moments in life that matter

“Well I’ll never forget the first time that I heard,
That pretty mouth say that dirty word.
And I can’t even remember now,
What she backed my truck into.
But she covered her mouth,
And her face got red,
And she just looked so darn cute,
That I couldn’t …
Even act like …
I was mad.

Yeah, I live for …
Little moments?
Like that!”


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Brutal start to the season for the worst prognosticator of pigskin known to man.  (That would be me.)  So a successful start for y’all?

Although I damned near nailed the Chiefs / Jags score (I predicted 27-3; actual outcome, 28-2).  So maybe 2006 Stevo is back?  (Damien voice) NO!  You are NEVER AGAIN allowed to pick last minute wins, gut wrenching losses, and be dead right about all of them!

Last Week ATS: 4-11-1. 
Season to Date ATS: 4-11-1.

Last Week SU: 8-8-0.
Season to Date SU: 8-8-0.

The Voice of Reason Last Week ATS: 8-7-1.
The Voice of Reason Season to Date ATS: 8-7-1.

(Note: Mr. Reason does not pick head-up winners.)

Last Week “Screw You Pete King” Upset of the Week: in the words of Peter Griffin’s lawyer, Mousy McDermott: “you have GOT to be kitten me!”  The Bengals lose by a field goal; the Chargers blow a 21 point fourth quarter lead?  I am (blanking) cursed.
Season to Date “Screw You Pete King” Upset of the Week: 0-2-0.
This Week’s “Screw You Pete King” Upset of the Week: I really want to pick a different game, but refuse to jinx the needed outcome.  Instead, give me the 49ers (+2 ½) at Seattle on Sunday night. 

The Non-Chiefs, Non-Jets Predictions:

(As always, all lines courtesy Danny Sheridan via USA Today.)

Believe it or not?  There's not a single game on the board I'd opt for a three hours "Good Times", or three hours "Webster", marathon over.  This almost never happens.  Thanks, NFL schedule guru!!!

* at Eagles 24, Chargers (+7) 20.  So ... maybe Norval Eugene Turner wasn't the problem?

* at Ravens (-6 1/2) 31, Browns 20.  No AFC North team will have a win outside the division, entering week three.  That's sensational.

* at Texans (-9 1/2) 45, Titans 3.  Look it, Gary Kubiak is at best a mediocre coach ... but not even he is losing at home to an awful Titans squad.  That win in Pittsburgh last week, was anything but impressive.

* at Colts (-2 1/2) 24, Dolphins 21.  Thanks for the half point, Mr. Sheridan!

* at Bills (+2 1/2) 28, Panthers 24.  I loved the Doug Marrone hiring last offseason.  If a loss in week one can be called a victory?  Last week was a victory, for the Bills future.

* at Falcons 31, Rams (+7) 27.  Was impressed the Falcons held their own, given the atmosphere in the Dome last week.  The Rams are feisty.  Don't sleep on them.

* at Packers 24, Redskins (+7 1/2) 21.  One of these teams will be 0-2 after this game.  Or they'll both be 0-1-1.  Either way, the loser's in trouble early -- this game could have huge wildcard tiebreaker ramifications in four months.

* at Bears (-6) 31, Vikings 10.  Arrowhead Pride had a pic up earlier today of the Chiefs' new 1-3 defense.  We used it quite a bit last Sunday.  I think the Bears should use a 3-5 on Sunday, and force Christian Ponder to beat them.  Because he can't.

* at Bucs (+3) 28, Saints 24.  In Tampa, this feels like a field goal game, one way or the other.  Damned missing half point.

* Lions (-1 1/2) 30, at Cardinals 20.  Detroit impressed me last week.  Arizona?  Not so much.

* at raiders (-5 1/2) 6, Jaguars 0.  Three safeties!!!!  Note: this might be the only time all season, oakland is favored in a game.  Commitment to Excellence!!!!

* at Giants (+4) 35, broncos 27.  OK, what am I missing here?  Alleged all time great peyton manning (now 9-12 all time postseason!!!) has one good half ... and suddenly, the best team in the NFC East (by far), playing at home, is larger than a field goal dog?  This fails the smell test.  Also failing?  donkeys suspended LB von miller, who apparently was arrested again last week.  That's three arrests, two meetings with the Commish, and one six game suspension so far, and it's still seven weeks to Halloween (when he returns).  I've said it before, and I'll say it again: if the Cowboys are America's team?  the donkeys are Satan's team.

(Pause).  What?  (Pause).  Oh hell yes, lynched donkey is loaded on The Bus!  TWO nooses!  One isn't enough!  

* 49ers (+2 1/2) 34, at Seahawks 30.  Your Paul Page Memorial "WHOA!  BIG CRASH!" stat of the week for the 49ers?

Rushing Yards Week One:
Alex Smith, KC: 28.
Colin Kaepernick, SF: 25.

* at Bengals 28, Steelers (+7) 24.  One of these teams will be 0-2 ... or 0-1-1 ... after this matchup.

The “Klassy” Kevin Keitzman Tweet of the Week:

Sadly, nothing too risqué this week from Klassy Kev’.  From his Twitter account, he apparently arrived an hour early to watch his daughter in the (whatever the hell this is) Old Settlers Parade, he noted the Chiefs game was awesome, and impressive, and he’s got a full-on bromance going from afar with new Eagles coach Chip Kelly.

(In a disclosure that will shock no one, “The Voice of Reason” and I strongly disagree about Chip Kelly.  Not that he’s a good or bad coach – I think he’s brilliant.  I just think he’s going to bomb big time in Philly.  The few college coaches who have successfully made the transition to the pros, did so for one of three reasons: (a) they took over a two time defending Super Bowl champion, and didn’t screw it up (Barry Switzer), (b) they were workaholics willing to invest the time, effort and energy into making the transition work (Jimmy Johnson), or (c) they already ran pro-style offenses and defenses, and ran their programs more like professional franchises than college squads (Jim Harbaugh, and I’d throw our good buddy Ol' Bob Ross in here as well – he was damned good in his first gig, in San Diego.)  Kelly might fit (b), but he ain’t (a) or (c).)

Anyway, the Klassy One’s Tweet of the Week is about last night’s Eagles / Redskins game, and here it is:




Uuh … does the Klassy One realize that “Fat” Andy Reid has been running a hurry-up, pass-heavy offense for FOURTEEN (gosh darn) YEARS at this point?

To say nothing of his offenses with the Packers in the mid to late 1990s, whose success got him (as well as Jon Gruden) their head coaching debuts.  You think the Favre-led Packers were a slow down, bleed the clock offense?  Does any sane person think a coach who, for all but one of his years in Philadelphia, his starter was either (a) Donovan McNabb or (b) Mike Vick, does ANYONE think a man who entrusts his offense to those quarterbacks, is looking to win every game 10-9 like in the Joe Pendry days around here?

And even the one excluded year, the starter was Jeff Garcia, who hardly ran a plod-n-prod style offense in San Francisco or Philly.

I too love the start of football season … if only to reveal the utter ignorance some folks in the media have, when it comes to what a “fast paced” offense is. 

“The Voice of Reason”’s Reason:

(added 9/12/13)

Here’s the week 2 column and picks:

Below you will find Ray Adams’ week 2 picks.  Congrats on going 12-16.  It’s never easy to pick all 28 NFL games.  Not sure who botched this up, Ray or the KC Star, but it’s yet another example of the Star’s demise and shotty journalism.

Here my picks.  I guess I went 8-7-1 last week.  I only picked 16 games, so somewhere I missed the other 12 games that the Star had in their picks. 


(photo: Mr. Reason, via his iPhone.)

NE -11 (Usually I like double digit dogs in the NFL, but I like hungry 0-1 ATS teams against lucky 1-0 ATS teams even more)
Phi -7 (Always bet against teams travelling from the west coast to the east coast)
Cle +7 (I’m sure the public will go 70%+ in favor of Balt, so I’ll go contrarian)
Ten +9.5 (Titans are sneaky good and Hou is a little overrated)
Ind -2.5 (Colts aren’t nearly as bad as they played last week)
Car -2.5 (Buf will have a hangover of keeping it close vs NE last week)
StL +7 (Again, I think public will go mostly in favor of Atl, so I’ll go opposite)
Wash +7.5 (GB D was exposed last week and RG3 will take advantage)
Dal +2.5 (My hunch is this is a let down game for KC and looking ahead to Philly next week)
Min +6.5 (I actually think the Vikes win straight up)
NO -3 (Usually don’t like road favs, but the Bucs are a mess
Arz pk (I believe in Bruce Arians)
Oak -5.5 (Jags are really, really bad and they have a long road to travel)
NYG +4.5 (Eli doubles up is brother in points and SB rings)
SF +2.5 (Niners avenge their worst loss of last season)
Pitt +7 (Steelers aren’t as bad as they looked last week and Cincy is overrated)

Reason:
Balloons.  There are few things I remember before the age of 5, but one of them is the balloons at Arrowhead Stadium on the day of the home opener.  Although, they didn’t have them for a couple of years in the Pioli administration (They brought them back last year), I hope they make it back again this year.  That, without question, is what I look forward to most at the home opener.  When those things get released, it means season on at Arrowhead.  I’ll be ready for them at high noon on Sunday..and I’ll likely have a tear in my eye.

And my only rebuttal, other than hell yes there better be a balloon launch ... is that my favorite sporting event moment every year, is when Jim Nabors hits "when I dream about the moonlight on the Wabash", and the balloons go flying out in turn four, over Georgetown Street, hundreds of thousands of them wafting towards the North 40 and Coke lots, at the Indianapolis 500.

“The Flashback”: Cowboys and Chiefs:

The last time Dallas visited KC, was a brutal loss that dropped the Chiefs to 0-5, and all but ended the 2009 season.  You can read the recap of that day’s events, by clicking on this link.

The last time the Chiefs beat the Cowboys anywhere in a game that counts, was Marty Schottenheimer’s final home game in 1998 as Chiefs coach.  Neither team was playing for anything – Dallas had the NFC East all but wrapped up, and the Chiefs were 5-8.  Still, it’s been fifteen years.  Let’s get on that, Chiefs.

My favorite Chiefs / Cowboys game though, was the one I was privileged to attend in 2005 down at old Texas Stadium, which wound up being my final trip to that (crap)hole.  The Chiefs lost, 31-28, on a late Jason Witten touchdown, and a missed Larry Tynes FG as time expired from 41 yards out.

But it was the whole weekend, that made it awesome.  How awesome?  How about a quick, “which of these …” question, to prove it.

* Which of the following nine things, did NOT occur?

(1) I stuck a gigantic “Really a Chiefs Fan” arrowhead on the back of Russ’ Cowboys jersey, that he didn’t notice until he visited the facilities near halftime.

(2) Gregg and I broke into Gerald Ford Field on the SMU campus, the morning of the Chiefs / Cowboys game.

(3) Gregg and I sat behind, and spent two hours, talking to the parents of (then) Mavs G Devin Harris, at the Mavs / Celtics game we attended that weekend.

(4) On the way down, Gregg and I were eating birthday cake on the casino floor, while wagering on various games of chance, to celebrate the Chocktaw Nation Indian Casino, Resort, RV Park, and Entertaimnent Complex’s 19th birthday in beautiful Durant, Oklahoma.

(5) On the way back, we took the “scenic route”, to ensure KEGL stayed working on the radio, to hear all of Howard Stern’s final Monday broadcast, on terrestrial radio.

(6) Between Gregg, myself, and my cousin Zach, we ogled the Swedish exchange student staying with my aunt and uncle approximate 243 times (approximate; actual number likely far higher).

(7) Gregg and I broke into the Cotton Bowl the morning of the Chiefs / Cowboys game.

(8) Our group that went was so large, we rented out an entire wing of the Hampton Inn, on Walnut off Stemmons.

(9) Our parking spots were so far away from Cowboys Stadium, we had (a) a mile long walk into the stadium, and (b) a tram ride afterwards.

The correct answer?  (7).  We got into the parking lot, and made it up a ramp … but the field itself was gated shut.  Dammit.

I hate -- I freaking hate -- that I lost this recap (george harrison voice) all those years ago ...

The Poem:

(For those of you unfamiliar with this staple of GameDay's past ... the introductory Poem of 2013, attempts to explain itself.  Enjoy.)

Sunday at high noon,
At the First Church of Arrowhead,
78,000 parishioners
Will show up clad in red.

The Chiefs!  The Cowboys!
I wish this was under the lights.
We’ll just have to settle
For some afternoon delight.

The Chiefs looked impressive,
Winning on the road.
But the opponent this week,
Is gonna be one massive load.

The Cowboys are good,
Perhaps the best in the East.
Chiefs fans, we can’t forget that –
Not in the least.

The tailgating begins early;
The postgame party will run late.
And in between?  We have
A NFL kickoff to make.

Years ago, a gameday
Would start off with a hike –
Down through Lot G,
Towards the 101 the Fox mic.

Past the 101 tent,
And past the team store.
Past the ticket office,
Past the Arrowhead Club doors.

Make a right turn at Lot C,
And steal a quick glance,
At the ultimate destination:
The players entrance.

The same four friends every week:
Jenni, Jasson, Gregg, and me,
Some of us armed with Boulevard Wheat,
Others with iced tea.

All there for the same purposes:
To welcome the Red and Gold.
And to taunt the officials,
And our visitors from the road.

Memorable moments were had,
By one and by all.
There’s way too many of them,
To immediately recall.

“Where’s the Ring, Cris?”
“Welcome to a real NFL stadium!”
“You’re a classless jackass!”
“I HATE YOU FRED!!!!!***”

But one moment always stood out;
In high anticipation?  It was held.
The same four lines of excitement,
In every classic Poem, was read.

“But then I stop,
Because I spot a car,
That might contain,
My special little star.”

Donnie Edwards was the star,
And Gregg was his entrance mate.
Their friendly greetings to each other,
Always included a handshake.

Sometimes William Jackson,
Sometimes Ed Werder as well.
And sometimes Donnie came bearing gifts –
Like used game gloves, and a game towel.

But the 59’s arrival was only,
The second of three things to see.
The third also had it’s stand alone stanza,
Written down on a dead tree.

“Then I open up the program,
To see who our referee will be,
And I shout out in horror,
“Sweet Jesus!  Ed Hochuli”!”

We all got to meet Ed once,
At the Seahawks Monday night game;
And the reception his biggest fans gave him,
Came because we knew his name.

Gregg shouted out in mock horror,
“Sweet Jesus!  It’s Ed Hochuli!”
Ed turned his head in amusement,
And began to laugh with glee.

“Is that a problem?”, Ed asked,
Which led to even more laughs.
Ed later saved the Chiefs season,
With an awful replay gaffe.

After the fun down low was done,
It was off to eat and drink,
And prepare for the battle to come –
Ready to throw in the kitchen sink.

Sunday, high noon.
Will you do your part?
Will you cheer as Mitch Lyons,
Leaves the field on a cart?

WHOOPS!  My bad, my bad --
Wrong game, wrong team.
But still a damned funny story,
I’d be happy to share over some Beam.

Kickoff is at noon;
Gates open at 8:30.
Read the Tailgate Planning Section,
If you want to come out early.

Otherwise, wherever you are,
Show up or tune in at noon,
And watch the Chiefs beat the Cowboys,
Like a Wyle E Coyote cartoon!!!!

© 2013, Stevo Productions.
No Rights Reserved.
Allowed to be Reprinted and Rebroadcast
Without the Expressed Written Consent
Of Major League Baseball.

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(***: every week, I would intentionally fail to rhyme exactly one line, because it never failed to make Jenni laugh.  Also, the four references?  (All said by Mr. Reason)?  The first was said to Cris Carter, at the Vikings Sunday Nighter in 1999.  Carter nearly charged up the banking to attack him.  The second was said to Eagles owner Jeffrey Loria at the 2001 Thursday nighter.  Loria's response?  Laughter, and a "you're right!" response.  The third was said to broncos owner patrick j. bowlen, at (I believe) the 1997 "Pete for President" game.  The last was said every year, when raiders great fred biletnikof would emerge from the bus, light up his cigarette, and stand around smoking.  His response most years was a hearty "F*CK YOU!"  (Pause).  Yeah.  I miss fred too sometimes.)

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The Tailgating Plans:

(Note: normally, I include these in the Chiefs Prediction / Pregame Speech of these prepared remarks.  This week, given what I'm putting in the Chiefs Prediction section (and I'll admit -- I did NOT expect to go here, when I started typing this, this morning), I broke this off into its' own section.)

Lots going on this week, as you’d hope for – and expect – for the home opener.

As always, the Bus leaves at 6:30am, if you want a ride out and back, without having to pay to park.

The menu is steaks, baked potatoes, and assorted side dishes and desserts.  The beer will be cold, (the late, great senator edward m. kennedy voice) you can bet your ass there will be enough vodka to drown a medium sized city in, and the champagne will be on ice, if only for the traditional “here’s to the season to come!” toast.

(Pause).  Hang on, I’m forgetting something.  Let me see here … steak, potatoes, dessert, booze … what am I forgetting?  What am I … ooh.  Ooh.  (arnold horshack voice) Ooh!  Ooh!  OOH!  MISTER KOTTER!!!!

For one game – and one game only ... I am coming out of retirement.

Games like this?  Home openers, potential season definers?  

Demand that you can’t entrust the most important thing, to rank amateurs.

I’m doing the jello shots.

I do two things better than nearly everyone else I know.  (1) I am the second best jello shot maker, you will ever have the pleasure of knowing.  (My buddy Scott’s wife Rachelle, makes me look like a rank amateur … but I’ll happily take second, behind her efforts.)  And (2) sit in the sun, get my drink on, with a t-shirt nowhere in sight.

Odds are, given the forecast for Sunday, I’ll get to do both.  Suh-weet?

I promise to deliver to you, at least 30 of each of the following:

* Svedka vodka and cherry.  (A solid middle of the pack effort.)
* Svedka vodka and blueberry.  (My favorite, and there will be far north of 30, of these.)
* Hot Damn! liqueur and strawberry.  (Shockingly good.  Shockingly good.)
* Jose Cuervo tequila and lime.  (I might use Patron, but I’m leaning Cuervo.  Definitely not using?  Montezuma.)
* Something and orange.  (Leaning vodka).

And possibly ...

* Parrot Bay and coconut.  (Depends on how much the Svedka, Hot Damn! and Cuervo sets me back.  And more specifically, how much I want NOT mixed in the jello for Sunday, of each delicacy.)

And as if that isn’t enticing enough …

DIFFERENT bat time, same bat channel!

We plan to be in our usual space (on the grass across from G28) for Sunday … but I cashed in a few Kingdom points, to purchase the 7am early entry pass.  An extra 90 minutes of tailgating!  For free!  Well, not really – my $540 bought that via the season ticket holder privileges.  But still – 90 extra tailgating minutes on a projected 85 and sunny day!

See?  Or is that ... SI!!!!



I’ll either update the site (if there’s time), or take to Twitter (@teamtito15) or Facebook to let the late arrivals know if anything changes.

As always, everyone and anyone is welcome.  Just give me the heads up to save you a spot to park if you need it.  I’ll plant a chair for ya … and have a jello shot ready for ya, when you get there.

The Jets “Whoa, we play who?  Already?  Up there to boot?  (brett voice) Aw!  Sh*t!” Prediction.

The NFL record for most points in a game, is 74.

The NFL record for margin of victory, is 73.

Both are in serious, serious jeopardy of falling, Thursday night.

At Patriots (-13) 56, Jets 6.  I can’t wait to see how Geno is going to top the Butt Fumble from the Jets / Pats last encounter.  But it won’t be fun  to find out.

The Chiefs Prediction.

I was born in Kansas City proper, at St. Luke’s.  I was raised in Johnson County, living in (I believe in order) Merriam, Olathe, Shawnee, and ultimately Lenexa, growing up.

After college, I moved back to the metro area (albeit not happily).  I lived in Shawnee for the first eight years, and have been in south KC for the last seven.

But college … college I lived in Fort Worth and ultimately Lake Arlington, when I spent three and a half years conning the fine folks at TCU that I was smart enough, to earn a diploma.  Hell, my deception was so solid, I got two of them!  (Business administration, and US History.  Go figure – I have yet to use either degree, for it’s intended job path, a single day in my professional career.)

Which makes Sunday’s game kind of rough for me.  It was only six months ago I did my damndest to leave all the ugliness and disgust of the last year behind me, and return to the Metroplex.  If I could live anywhere?

Well, ok, fine – I’d live in Clearwater Beach.  But my second choice, would be the Metroplex, probably out in the Cityview area in southwest Fort Worth.

I love Dallas.  I lived there during the height of the Triplets.  I attended numerous games, even turning into somewhat of a fan.  (They’re still the only NFC team, I give a damn about.)  Attended the Super Bowl parade in 1996 for the third title in four years. 

Hell, my second parents were there at the same time.  Our bus driver Sunday, is the biggest Cowboys fan you’ll ever meet.  He loves his Chiefs … but they ain’t the Cowboys.  It’s my dilemma (at least) every three years (including next year): I love my Jets … but they ain’t the Chiefs.

So, rather than go into a huge “show up!  Be loud!  Get drunk!” pep talk that – based on the secondary ticket market right now – is not needed.  (Seriously, upper deck nose bleed, which go for $25 / game face?  Are going for $138 as of Wednesday morning.  (john Davidson voice) That’s incredible!)

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Some weeks, when I type this up, I know exactly what I'm going to say, almost before I say it.  A clear, concise, no doubt about it direction.

And I had one this week -- I was going to do a Nick Bakay style "Tale of the Tape" between the benefits of living in each metropolitan area, throw in the tailgating info, make a pick, and mail it in.

And then, this morning, on my ride in to work, I was reading the night that was on Twitter (as I always do), and one of my favorite -- if not my favorite -- journalists, Ron Fournier of National Journal and other assorted sites, posted a Twitter theme that fascinated me.

"What were you doing on 9/11".

I’ve said before 9/11 is personal to me.  And not just as an American, and a damned proud one at that.  But it is PERSONAL to me.  And so, I decided, instead of the rah-rah, fire 'em up speech of usual ... that I'd finally post for the world to see, what I was doing on 9/11.

The Pick: Chiefs (-2 1/2) 31, Cowboys 21.  

I hope to see you all on Sunday.  If not, be loud wherever you are.

Enjoy.

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* I got into work early that Tuesday.  I had an all-day training class scheduled for some Excel tool Transamerica had just added, plus I had my real job to stay on top of. 

* The drive in that morning.  I will never forget how beautiful KC was that day.  Pushing 85 degrees, not a cloud in the sky.  A perfect late summer day.  I was even nice, and went the long way in, cutting across Shawnee Mission Parkway to 35, to grab a couple dozen Krispy Kreme's for the department.  Because I'm a nice guy like that ... about once a year.

* 7:58am, my desk phone rings.  At this point, I had my favorite office I've ever had: the 26th floor, the very far southeast corner.  I had windows to my east, windows to my south, and noone behind me.  I loved that cubicle.  Hell, my former boss will confirm, I spent hours just staring out of it, watching the Sprint Centre and Power and Light take shape.  But I have to get down two floors for this class in two minutes, and if my phone rings before 8am, I know it’s personal.  So, I answer it, and this conversation takes place:

(my dad) are you watching this?
(stevo) watching what?
(my dad) the news!
(stevo) Dad?  I’m at work.  I don’t have a damned TV on my desk!
(my dad) (the light bulb kicks in) oh.
(stevo) (resigned to being late) so what happened?
(my dad) a plane just flew into the World Trade Center!

In the words of Joey Russo: "Whoa!"

* I headed down to 24 for my class, and that was all the talk.  Something had happened.  But nobody quite knew what.

* Another thing about 9/11 that I’ll never forget: the internet was so utilized, the whole thing came crashing down.  For a solid four, five hours, nothing worked online.  And good luck getting an AM radio signal up that high.  So everyone was in a "what the hell just happened?!?!" state of stunned shock, and curious awe.

* Thankfully, one of the resourceful ones among us (and that wouldn’t be me), noted that “why don’t we get one of the TVs for training videos, and see if we can pick up the news?”  So, we did.

And we did.

Right as the replays came up, of the second plane, slamming into the South Tower.

* The next couple hours were surreal.  Our class was cancelled, because nobody cared at that point.  All that was on everyone’s mind was the Towers.

* About 9:15, I headed with my buddy Jeremy across the street to McDonalds (me) and Starbucks (him) for some breakfast.  I forgot my ID badge on my desk.  It took five minutes of convincing, to let me back in the building.  Yup – people were so scared that this was going to be a wave sweeping west – especially with the Pentagon just hit, and news that a fourth airliner was unaccounted for, that the Town Pavilion was on lockdown.  Nobody in or out without ID.

* 9:45, an email from HR.  Mayor Barnes had decided to evacuate downtown inside the loop by noon, in case this thing was a wave sweeping west.  We were told to get out by ten.  I didn’t hesitate.  I was gonezo.

* You know the scene from “Independence Day”, where David and Julian are fleeing New York for DC to warn the President what’s coming?  That’s exactly what floated through my mind driving home that day.  I-35 southbound was a free-for-all.

* I stopped off at Jack’s for a twelve pack of Sam Adams Summer Ale, and walked in the door of me and Gregg’s apartment a little before 11.  I no sooner got MSNBC fired up on the big screen, and cracked open the first Sammy, when the phone rang.  It was my buddy Jasson.  We talked for a few minutes, he invited me to come over and watch this on the deck (since it was 85 and sunny, after all), I said sure, hung up, and went to change into casual clothes to head over his way.

* 10:56am.  For as long as I live, I will never forget the time of the call.  I didn’t recognize the number, but it had a 214 area code.  I could guess who it was – one of my college roommates, “Tony Gonzalez”.

* I answered Frank’s call, we shoot the sh*t for a minute about all that had happened that day, and just before I was about to beg off the call to head out to Jasson’s, the scariest seven words I’ve ever heard in my life, came out of Frank’s mouth.

“So ... have you heard from Vineet yet?”

Oh.  Sh*t.

"Because I haven't."

* Vineet was my other college roommate.  He worked at the time at Brown Brothers Harriman.  South Tower.

* I tried calling his cell number.  Then I remembered, thanks to the live feed on MSNBC – virtually all the cell towers for south Manhattan?

Were on top of the Towers.

One of which, had just collapsed.

* I stopped off at Jack’s for another twelve pack on my way to Jasson’s.  Now I had a reason to drink.

* The next five hours, were amongst the worst of my life.  The North Tower collapsed.  WTC 6 was now on fire and in danger of going down.  No cell phones worked in south Manhattan.  The dust, debris, clogging the streets. 

* I finally headed home around 7.  Gregg showed up at Jasson’s at some point.

* When I walked in the door, the first thing I did was check the answering machine.  (Wow, has it really been barely less than a decade ago, since those were vital pieces of technology?)  Vineet’s sister was on there, as was Frank again.  We all managed to catch up, and all of us agreed, if any of us got through, or heard anything, we would let the others know.

* Around 8pm, the “Beep!  Beep!  Beep!  Beep!” of a busy signal, had changed to “Due to a temporary loss of service, your call cannot be completed at this time …”  Progress.  And both hope and dread.

* Another thing I’ll never forget about that day: Dan Rather and Peter Jennings.  Mr. Jennings could barely hold on to his composure on ABC, and Mr. Rather threw objectivity and checking his emotions long before that.  Mr. Rather’s irrational hatred of the Bush Family eventually doomed him, but if you don’t remember Dan in his prime?  How good he was at his job?

This was his finest hour.

* I paced the floor like it was a Chiefs road game, for the next hour.  I could not sit down.  Both out of hope ... and out of fear.

* I wondered for that next hour, as MSNBC and FOX and ABC and (only God knows how many TV's we had out there -- we set this up Sunday Ticket style, to get every network, when we got home), and was scared sh*tless for that hour, as the news was reporting cell service was up again, and people were making contact with their loved ones, when would I know?  

And most frightening of all -- what if I never knew?

And then came the moment, for why 9/11, matters so much to me.

* 9:17pm.  If you know me at all, you know I do not believe in coincidence.  NOTHING happens, that wasn't meant to be.  Everything that happens, happens for a reason.  The reason may not be obvious at first.  It may never be obvious.  But EVERYTHING happens for a reason.

9:17pm.  The phone rings.

I rush to grab it, and check the caller ID.

917 area code.

How I didn't come unhinged at that moment ... I have no idea, other than again -- and seriously, I am not religious, but good grief, if one more non-coincidental moment happens to me, either through reliving the past or living the present, I might have to reconsider my stance.

Because I had then -- as I do now -- exactly one friend, who would call me from the 917 area code.

Vineet.

* He didn’t have much to say.  He’d been trying to get through to someone for pushing six hours.  He was fine.  Shaken to the core, but fine.  His boss had led them out when the first tower was hit, and when the all-clear was given about halfway through the evacuation, they kept walking out.

* He wound up spending the night in what was left of a nearby office building.  All mass transit had shut down, and all routes into Manhattan were closed.  It was sleep on a debris, dust covered floor … or walk six miles to the Bridge, and walk across to Brooklyn, then pray you could find a cab to get back to Bensonhurst.

Me?  I’d have hauled ass faster than I’ve ever sprinted in my life, for the first thing to get me the hell off that island.

* After the call, I called Frank to let him know, and Frank said he’d let Vineet’s sister know.

* After the call, I went back to my bedroom, closed the door, and lost it.  I have truly only lost it four times in my life.  The first was the day after my buddy James’ funeral, at the Projekt Revolution concert, when the reality that I’d lost the first friend I’d ever lost, set in.  The second was six weeks later, at Randy’s funeral.  One private in a bathroom stall; one public after the final pass by the casket.

Knowing one of my best friends had survived 9/11?  Was the third. 

* The fourth was seeing him, post 9/11, when I was down in Dallas for a family reunion in July 2002.  He flew in, knowing I'd be there.

We met up at a Bennigans on Plano Parkway, on a Sunday evening.  My brother (who stuck behind to ride home with me the next day) was with us, as was our buddy Neeck (who was up visiting from summer classes at Baylor).

I don't remember who lost it first, me or him.  (I'd wager me.)

I am sure some people in that bar that night, thought it was the most ridiculous thing, they'd ever see in their life.

It's amongst my most cherished of moments, in mine.

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* I close my 9/11 memories with this.  To this day, there is one thing on my cubicle wall, that doesn't fit the theme, of anything else.

I'd guess 50% of the stuff hanging up, is either (a) chart of accounts, (b) SAP accounting codes, or (c) department stuff -- calendar, phone numbers, problem escalation procedures, etc.

Probably 49.99% of the rest of the stuff, is sports related.  Including the always classy "Calvin p*ssing on denver broncos logo" decal that will hang wherever I work at, for as long as I'm there.

And then ... there's the postcard.



(photo: me, via my iPhone.  Shockingly not in the picture: my ... hang on, I took this early this morning so ... my second 32oz glass of Gold Peak Iced Tea.  That stuff is more addictive than crack.  Right, Mr. Odom?)

It's begun to show its' age, its' wear and tear.  And that's to be expected -- after all, it'll be celebrating its' twelve anniversary of when I first hung it up, in that old corner cubicle at Transamerica, come next Tuesday.

Every person who has ever seen it, thinks its about one thing.

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The postcard was mailed to me from Queens, on Thursday, September 13, 2001, and (if I recall correctly) received on Saturday, September 15, 2001.

It went up on Monday, September 17, 2001, and hasn't come down off my wall since, other than to move or change jobs.

It is pinned to my wall, with a US Flag lapel, and always will be.

It's a picture of the south Manhattan skyline, on a perfect, cloudless sunny day, like 9/11 began, both here and there.

And framed perfectly in the photo, are the Twin Towers, as they were.

Everyone who sees the postcard?  Assumes it's my memorial to 9/11, or has something to do, with 9/11 ... and they'd be right.

But only partially right.

Because it's what's written on the back of the postcard, that they can't see, that matters to me.

Noone has ever asked, to see the back.  And if anyone ever does?  I won't share it.  Most of what's on there, is too damned personal to me, to ever allow anyone else to see voluntarily.  

And I'd possibly kill anyone, who ever tried to see it involuntarily.

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What 9/11 means to me is this:

Towers can rise and fall.  Terrorists can attack and be killed.  This country can win wars and lose international crises.

I can get downsized, and start over.  I can have friends turn their back on me, and have others double down on their support of me.  Because your true friends -- no matter what you do, no matter what your issues are -- when the sh*t hits the fan?  They're pacing the floor for ninety minutes, PRAYING for a phone call from an area code devoted to cellular coverage, when no cellular towers are left standing.  Like I did that Tuesday night, twelve years ago today.

9/11 teaches me, that no matter how miserably myself or anyone else fails at life?  Thank God every morning that we still draw breath.

Because there's six semi-cursive / semi-non-cursive letters, written on the back of that postcard, that never fail to make me appreciate how blessed I am.

Six letters, I was scared to death, I'd never see or hear from in any form, again, at this time of day, twelve years ago today.

Vineet.

I live for, little moments?

Like that.

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also, apologies on the layout ...

Something went bat sh*t crazy when I tried to upload the previous post.  I'll work on fixing it Tuesday.  I didn't change a thing; t...