April 24, 2016

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A milestone day for the soccer world. A coroner inquest finally ended 25 years of lies. There is justice for the 96 Liverpool supporters killed at Hillsborough. The police systemically covered up all their actions that led to the deaths. Men, women, children and young people.  The ripple effects of blaming drunk ticket less Liverpool supporters for the tragedy changed the fundamental course of the football world. All seat stadiums replaced standing terraces. The supporters, ALL Supporters, are hooligans. They can’t be trusted to behave. Hillsborough. The bigger the TV contracts became. The harsher the controls in the stadium. Packaging of the game into something safe.

The MLS is a product of this world standard. Determined not to make the mistakes of the past failures the organization adopted a control culture. Twenty years on clubs have approved Supporter Groups. Codes of conduct. Top down enforcement that varies from club to club. Year long banning order for lighting a smoke bomb but show that in their corporate ads. Treating supporters like criminals by videoing supporter tailgates before matches. The home club’s SG. Doctrine set by on the British police model. Hillsborough.

News report. Dateline Detroit. The owners of the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons are bring the MLS to town. Dan Gilbert moved his company downtown when it wasn’t cool. He owns half of the downtown skyline. MSU graduate. Michigan guy. Tom Gores. Same. Except they’re both basketball guys. Where does that leave Detroit City FC? My club.

Those two words define the difference in the cultures. Soccer is a working class game. Sushi and WIFI are foreign to a food truck and beer culture.  Unlike other American sports there are not breaks in the action for plays or TV timeouts. Casual conversations happen before or after the match. Not during. A sport played during any weather. The supporters standing through it all. That’s what Detroit City is. It’s who I am.

Twenty four hours has passed. The Northern Guard Supporters, NGS, are unapologetic in the way we carry ourselves. When the NGS have a social media coordinator, haters gonna hate. All those critics that have taken shots at the NGS for the Detroit attitude piled on. Your club will fold. It can’t survive a professional team being in the same town. No one going to your poxy little stadium by the tracks.  Serves you right for being such assholes to me before. Never forget they wrote off Detroit before.

DCFC is a global brand. A 4th tier summer league club of current and former college students rank higher than some MLS clubs in social media coverage. NGS 989. NGS 517. NGS Flint Outpost. DC and Portland. Those are just the one I know of. Every year there are stories about where will soccer expand to next. Detroit been at the top of the list because of DCFC. Winning on the pitch. Where players love the atmosphere created by the NGS. The owners and the supporter culture on the same page. Why? Because it’s what they wanted watching the Bundesliga or Serie A or EPL growing up. They played soccer. It’s their sport.

There are two Detroits. The City itself has been in the national headlines. No need to say more. The towns surrounding the city core might has well be on a different planet. Affluent. Thriving. Nice houses with landscaped green lawns. Newer cars. Good schools. And want nothing to do with the city or it’s residents. Go to see the Lions, Tigers and Wings? Sure. Leave has soon as possible. It’s not just in the suburbs. Where I live it’s the same. 90 minutes north or across the state.

Detroit City FC is a culture formed by the immigrants from other states and the world.  A generation without a history in the city. Others whose family moved out, have returned. The Urban Cores are becoming chic again. Money is flowing back in. Displacing those that stayed.  The G2 news release sited growing numbers of youth players in SE Michigan. It begs the question of what audience they want.  Family Friendly proved such a great success that no one uses it anymore. Bucks. The MLS want to have another Portland, Seattle and Kansas City. Owners are in charge of that. Working with the SG to let it happen.  The German way. Not the EPL. NOT Hillsborough.

Standing terraces are making a comeback. Modern soccer has become sterile. English clubs have asked their supporters if they want safe standing areas. A resounding Yes. Keyworth will have standing terraces in the supporter section. Where smoke will billow from when we score. Where the drums and chants will be loudest.  F Bombs will ring across the pitch. An atmosphere into which I found myself. For the first time in my life I felt part of something that would influence anything for that point on. Only the birth of my children rank higher.

You club finds you. Its the place we feel most alive. What gets us through the hard times because of the deep friendships made there. Father to sons and daughters. Child born to the Rouge and Or. Marriages. Buried in the same. I bought season tickets in 2012 five minutes after discovering Detroit had a team. Would I make any of the Matches? Didn’t know. Now my greatest fear has come true. A millionaire Boys Club could steamroll DCFC.

Here’s what I know. Attendance has grown every year by double digits. We outgrew Cass Tech. $750,000 has been raised to renovate an old school stadium in the heart of the most cultural diverse city in Michigan. FC United of Manchester is coming on May 28th to play Detroit City of the NPSL, not the MLS, in their first international match. The people of Hamtramck are welcoming us with open arms. The offices and store are there. The first item sold was to a little girl from the neighborhood. The Northern Guard will always be club first. If the Gores/Gilbert group ignores all this, DCFC will survive. Summer only soccer. Fine.A working class sport in the heart of the city that defined what working class means.  I am City Till I Die. In Ink and Blood. Forever Rouge et Or.

 

Changing jobs

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For the first time in my adult life this milestone has occurred when I had secured another position before giving notice. Another first. My work history has many gaps in between three years of under employment. That was the implosion clock set point most of my life. Bipolar without medications. The confidence to consider a new job was shared by a friend. Without the external push, I would have stayed. Living with the growing dissatisfaction of not enough money. Working with people that I didn’t respect. Or settling for the old behaviors of the past in spite of understanding it was toxic.  Tick. Tick.

Yes the behaviors are still churning under the surface. Defeatist self talk. All the baggage I carry with me.  Daily potholes to fall into.  My course now is to learn everything about the style of cooking I’m doing. Short order cooking isn’t good TV. One more step on a different path. A conscious movement away from the toxic employee no one wants around. That my standards will rub some the wrong way is a given. I won’t serve food I wouldn’t eat. Simple. Not so much. Fortunately the kitchen is the refuge for those with quaky  personality .

Beautiful food comes out of hot smallish spaces that most consider closets. Created by men and women rebuilding lives. For some it’s the only  place they feel whole and useful. Using experience to get the most from older equipment suffering from overuse or lack of care.  Everyone has to eat. In spite of cooking shows, women want someone else to do the work without the clean up.  So therefore I cook. The idea of a food truck has appeared on edge of my thoughts. Hot dog cart. And finally, the expense of owning a car has been reduced. My hometown was built before cars. Sidewalks and bikes. Riding to work will start my search for a more balanced healthy lifestyle.

A moment of many first at the beginning of a season I used to dread. Yeah.

Angry Voters & Viral Videos

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Florida and the Bronx. Politicians from the same party representing a minority of America got called out. There are calls for respectful discourse. Make an appointment for a reasoned conversation. No cameras right? No record of the political theater by a dismissive official?  And therein lays the disconnect.

Those calling for a civil society are ones who grew up around that. Safe in their stable home and, if not good, OK school away from gun shots or gangs. Has someone living on the fraying edge of a rapidly changing society, angry emotional confrontation are going to happen. Recorded by social media. Released to EVERY platform. Where the corporate media will dissect or dismiss those who speak for their brand of party politics. Let’s face facts. We are human. Those things that effect me and mine will NOT got a reasonable calm response.

The constant grind to provide. An emotional numbing struggle to keep it all together. Lacking resources in a the media barrage of consumerism. The unfilled desire for what’s beyond our grasp.  A world where the rules are different for those in power.  The illusion that an elected official should care about all the people in his district is gone. Appeal to the core and just enough to get elected. Dark money. Super PACs. Wealthy donors. Ideal driven Demagogues with national agendas. Who needs to care for the fringes.

Lucky I fell through the cracks in a Northern union state.  Weather historically caused seasonal unemployment. Higher wage jobs created an infrastructure of services that rose to met the money.  The slow erosion of wages, by attrition or downsizing, left a harsh reality. Without support the collapse could have been much worse. Unemployment. SNAP. subsidized house. And other programs kept the money flowing. Historical inertia. The economy works when money flows through it. Simple.

With money being redirected into the hands of fewer and fewer. Social programs have been under attack. A basic underpinning of Conservatives is bootstrapping and hard work cures all ills. The playing field isn’t level. This is the first generation of American that will not do better than one before. Wages have remained flat for years. All the while expenses have risen. With everything played out on social media. News or opinion arriving unfiltered to your phone. The one comment from the ladies of the View is most disturbing.  How could the picture from Florida be so good? It must have been ambush. Staged.

So that young woman had advance warning that the Governor would want coffee after touring a local plant. Was the trip open source? Would the local media be covering it? Do they cover every tour?  Did she know he always stopped a Starbucks after every such tour? Knowledge his schedule built in such side trips? Why a millionaire would drink over roasted beans instead of better coffee?  The trail of dots to stage such an encounter is mind boggling. Or. Could it be you don’t know how to your phone camera that well?

Keep this in mind. The assassination that started WWI happened because the driver got lost on his way back to the palace. The car had a complex transmission where reverse was difficult. And it stopped by the cafe where the political radicals were thinking about their failure to get close enough. Bad luck luck for one. Redemption for another. All by a chance encounter.

Democracy is a messy puppy with large paws. Noisy. Clumsy. And can leave minor destruction in it wake. There were fist fights on the floor of the House in the past. Burr and Hamilton fought a duel. Mud slinging and dirty tricks are part of campaigns. Angry confrontation of voters to politicians? Old news. I see it has a healthy sign that Americans are still engaged in the process.  All politics are local. Get over it.  The real election hasn’t started yet. If this bothers you, just wait.

Easter

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I’m an agnostic. The suspension of disbelief is foreign to my thinking. My actions. My responsibility. Having said that, what I miss most about organized religion is the instant sense of community it provides. Family explains my presence Easter morning in a neighborhood Catholic church. My daughter is now in the choir. One directed by her uncle. My son was playing the kettle drums.  And hamming it up. In between performing the Catholic calisthenics, my attention roamed over my surrounding.

The Romanesque architecture is a study in time travel.  The service full of comforting ritual is drawn from the first churches in the Roman world. All in converted pagan temples. In a society of a illiterate majority, morality plays on a raised stage taught the lessons of disobeying the gods. Showed their mercy. But more importantly created the desire to support the priestly class has conduits to said god.  If you ever why all churches look alike, there it is. Efficient use of space. Proven building technique. Still.

Part of my 20+ year search for faith led my to ask questions. The answers or refusals to  caused more questions. Which narrowed the path. The words of the carpenter’s son contain universal truths. Echoing many earlier enlightened souls. The architecture of the church also echoes the compromises born out of violent persecution. Elements of the service are stolen from pagan or other belief systems that challenged the status quo. namely the top down hierarchic. Power. Mine all mine. Sunday showed it’s still centered on community and family.

During communion it’s easier to see how the congregation reflected the neighborhood. Older retirees who hadn’t left or died. Young families. teenagers and kids. Listed in order of representation. It also reflects the problems of the Catholic church in America. The priest was silver haired. So was the 80% of the choir.And so very white. The past.

All of which means the nondenominational churches are setting the narrative. Located in the Suburbs. White. Conservative. With no community outreach to the non existent poor in their areas. Yes this a broad generalization. But has one local pastor said in another church used in his teaching. He and his wife went to Orlando on vacation. They wanted to attend a megachurch to see if his opinion changed. Four of the five had the senior leaders removed because they slept with multiple women in the congregation. So much for the sanctity of the marriage vows.

I respect those of faith who live their beliefs. Those are my aspirations. We both struggle to achieve this. The main difference is my ethics don’t require a supreme being to forgive me. Nor do I think of myself has broken or innately flawed. Merely human.

Government isn’t Business.

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It’s always been my understanding that the role of government, from local to Federal, is do those things that require a use of capital beyond normal means. Defense. Roads. Education. A national code of laws that supersede all other. A framework of regulations that cross state lines. All done at a NET Lose. The Federal Government is funded by taxes with the ability to run deficits. Unlike the states which have to balance theirs every year. Taxes never match expenditures. Cuts have to be made. Social programs, state parks or services get privatized that end up with raise costs exceeding savings. Unintended consequences.

All this was sparked by a caller to the Diana Rehm show. It was in reference to the round table about the election. His father was in business for 47 years. He treated the employees well. Supported them though family crisis, hard economic times and rewarded them in good.  But wasn’t their friend. They were loyal. They were in turn respected. A great example of enlightened leadership in a competitive business climate. My takeaway to this is simple. I would happily work for that man. Someone who understood that creating a non toxic environment where we spend most of our waking hours meant more the owners friendship.

Politics aren’t like that.  One congressperson described the House has Jr. High. Cliques. Shifting alliances. Conflicting power bases. All navigated by relationship meant to influence. Herding cats while overseeing programs designed to lose money. Profits, in the form of taxes, will never equal promised ongoing expenditures. One eye always on the polls. The other to the next election. Fundraising to powerful interest intent on writing policy. Then there’s the national media. A vast echo chamber now complicated by social media. Real or filled with click bait spin. The ultimate insider game.

Remember the playground. The cool kids held court. Inside the new reality, nerds and geeks aren’t put in trashcans.  Cool to uncool can happen in the blink of an eye. Childish influence. Congress. The Republican narrative of a good businessman= a political leader is silly. Governors understand the game of balancing budgets. but have a record to run against or from. Leadership come in many forms. It can be learned. But it always comes from core values.

Unfortunately the DINO Clinton, the crazy unstoppable wack a mole Drumpf or the American Taliban wannabe Cruz have the core values of poll watching politicians.  Building a castle in a swamp. With a portion of the kickbacks going right back into the war chest. Through all this I hold onto the slim hope the American voters will wake from their reality TV or cat video stupor to care. That is if the corporations and special interest still want them to have that illusion. The excess of dark money  has swung into the dangerous territory of revolutionary reaction. Bernie and Drumpf have tapped into that. Opposite ends that will yield different results. At least they don’t have to wear the Super-PAC sponsorship patches.  One party may implode while the other is being forced into deep soul searching about their identity.

Three Days

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Talked to another Vet today. It’s interesting how those of us who served before 9/11 happened see the current crop of candidates. Or our time in service. There are three levels a veteran goes through before complete discharge. Active duty. Reserves. Then finally inactive reserve. All reserves aren’t equal. Ready reserves train for first call up duty. Portions of support units can be mobilized. Others will bid their time. Military logic is twisted and never logical.  This gentleman dealt with such a case.

First his active term of service was 1988 to 1992 in the Army.  One day he was informed his inactive unit was on Red status. That meant in 48 hour they could sent into an active combat situation. No outside communication allowed. The possibility was there during those four years of active duty.  Even during the reserve phase. But inactive? How would you handle it?  Think of the aftermath of a natural disaster. No landmarks to guide your way. That box with your folded uniforms and memories has to be opened again. Not to look for pictures.

Just getting on with your life. The past is the past. Not any more. Old skills. Rusty from disuse. Do they still apply? Am I fit enough to save my buddies life? Is he fit enough to save me? It’s not a paper target on a range. Can I pull the trigger? Take a life? Can I trust my NCOs or officers to make the right decisions? What about all my obligations now? I have kids now. Things were tight before. Will the pay cover everything? Holy shit. Combat. Gotta get my head in the game.

All this and more went through his head. Three days. That’s how long it took before it all clicked. Questions about his limitations forgotten. When duty honor and discipline of a past self merged with the current one. Everyone who has served become part of a culture. A military way of doing. It transforms the essence of who we are and how we view the world around us. We are all a little different. Three days.

He never went. His unit stood down. Why they were activated will remain a mystery. Even to those sending out the orders. A decision made without thought in the bowels of the Pentagon, changed this man life. A sudden brutal shift in his perception of the day to day.  Thoughts long dormant having to be reexamined by a man. Not the younger version. Perception. Core values. Who are you now?  All aspects of us we take for granted. Operating below conscious thought. Until.

Life’s funny that way. The universe could care less about our problems. The Sun will rise and set. Seasons will change. And yet we rail against them. Change is a active constant in our day to day existence. This man was confronted with that. I have been challenged by events beyond my control. Interesting how the answers changes.  Three days. How long for you?

Update

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Recent events have forced me to reexamine the way i write and blog. The most glaring is the sporadic nature. My pen to paper output vs online is unbalanced. If writer is to be a description included in how I describe myself, discipline is of vital importance. My mantra has been to improve by 1% everyday, In some facet of my life. Practice 1000 hours in writing. !0k is an impossibility due to my age and other obligations. And most importantly 500 words everyday. That’s a minimum. It’s exceeded in my offline life but not within the confines of this media. Not having access to the internet other than WIFI demands a discipline lacking in my overall life.

With that in mind, the promise i make to you is to post every other day. Bare Minimum. That will form the habits necessary for me to grow has a writer and person. All of this was triggered by the possibility of having to change my medication. Which terrifies me. This blog and others have been a safe place to retreat to. Striking the balance between universality and personal details gets my head out of unhealthy places. It also to starting to look like the one of the few options open to me now. At 51, I have become redundant. Just another fact of life for those of us getting older in an interesting digitally dominated age.

There it is good reader. Thanks for sticking with my spotty output and often failed attempts of writing. I have made a conscious decision to merge my love for the chewy Founding Fathers prose and the attention short conciseness of modern usage. Many times it ends up trapped in the wilderness between the two. Some is truly cringeworthy. Even if this is a shout in the emptiness, my voice will be stored somewhere.  My legacy.

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