Monday, December 20, 2010

How you livin?

This was the scene during a sunny Sunday afternoon atop the island of St. Thomas. The picture was taken at halftime, right as the N.Y. Giants appeared to have opened an insurmountable lead on the Eagles.

Look at us ... so happy and full of life.

Then Mike Vick and that ass clown DeSean Jackson ruined everything, which resulted in the Miracle at the New Meadowlands.

We enjoyed mimosas and Brianna made home-made chili at our friend Frank's new condo in a part of the island referred to as Mountain Top. The title fits the scenery.

I had put back my second bowl of chili and was considering a ceremonial Jager bomb before it hit me: I had never been to Frank's new house during the day.

"Hey guys," I said. "Let's check out this view Frank keeps telling us about before we get all loopy (on an account of the short-lived Giants domination and the danger than lies within Jagermeister)."

Everyone, which included Frank, Brianna and I, agreed as the whole gang headed north.

His new place is sick. It has a crazy 180-degree view, as you can see clear across the island, over the golf course, way past Red Hook and with the British Virgin Islands on the horizon. He's so high up that you can spit off his balcony and with the right kind of wind, it will eventually hit a tourist at Megan's Bay.

After having a jolly time at a friend's swank digs, I couldn't help but reflect on the place where I put my head down. Strangely enough, I don't have a lot of pictures of my headquarters.

It's located right outside of Charlotte Amalie, up a bike-path trail, and when the power goes out, you can hear the generator from the nearby hospital kick in. And when it does, I always think about how many lives were just saved with the quick flick of a wrist. Or is it automatic? Maybe I should walk into the hospital and ask somebody.

I've been to the hospital twice since I moved down the block from it over nine months ago. One time was for a seizure. Not cool. And it left my wallet empty.

The other time was to shoot some sort of church revival seminar symposium meeting of some sort. My boss was in attendance so I showed up 10 minutes early and naturally left 20 minutes after it ended and everyone had left and I was alone in a dark room.

The cool thing was that when everyone left -- it was for lunch -- they gave me a ticket for the hospital cafeteria. I had to move on to another assignment so I tucked the golden ticket deep into my wallet.

"Save that ticket," my boss said. "The hospital has some of the best food on the island."

Believing everything she's told me for the last nine months, I made sure to put it next to the most important stuff in my wallet: in between my Men's Warehouse coupon and a fake $1,000 bill that has a picture of Ben Franklin winking.

"Ahh, the next rainy day," I thought. "But who will I go with?"

I know how some people won't eat by themselves in public because they feel weird. I actually enjoy it. People watching is the perfect dessert after a turkey and cheese sandwich goes down the hatch.

But in a hospital cafeteria? I don't care how good the food is, watching hospital folk while eating Salisbury steak or meatloaf may not work well with me. But I should try it out, eh? After all, I got the golden ticket...

But we'll have to save that social experiment for next time, boys and girls. In a blog post where I planned on showing pictures of my house and taking potshots at my lovely landlord, it ended with a somewhat entertaining story about churchy people, meatloaf and Benny Franklin.

How you like them apples? And by the way, the chili was crucial.

Over and out.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


The Wolverine has become quite smitten with the blog, which I enjoy.

"This is Aaron, he's the sports reporter at the Daily News," he says when he introduces me to his esteemed colleagues and local bar flies.

He usually asks me afterward if I approve of him introducing me to people like that.

"It's either that or I need to wear a sign over my head, right?"

Anywhoo, the Wolverine introduced me to another friend, Jerome, who is in the pornography business. Check that -- he's the porn talent. Yes, he and his lady friend decided to film themselves and sell the footage to porn companies for money.

So yes, he is a professional porn guy. I would like to call him 'porn star' but that's like calling professional football player Antrel Rolle a 'football star' which he is not.

Now I'm not trying to take away from Jerome's porn skills (I'm sure they are abundant) but he's no Ron Jeremy. Not yet. Watch out ladies of St. Thomas, a rising porn star is in the making here.

Wow. I have no idea where I was going with this. I think I just wanted to show off that I knew a porn star -- I mean, porn guy.

So there you go America. It doesn't matter if you're a sports writer, a porn actor or the New York Jets football coach who intentionally tripped a player during the game -- you're all OK in my book and that's all I have to say about that.

Forrest Gump ending? Can't go wrong.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hope for Haiti

A devastating earthquake, a cholera epidemic, and a near landfall miss of Hurricane Tomas has rattled the tension-filled country of Haiti to its core.

The ever-changing landscape of the current presidential election has brought many questions. The most important: Who will lead a country in such distress?

I had the extreme pleasure of speaking with one presidential candidate last week.

Charles Henry Baker ran for president in 2005 and is back again. When he answered his cell phone...

A) I was surprised he answered his cell phone.

B) I introduced myself quickly and he sounded very tired. But he didn't hold back.

"After the cholera outbreak, to screw the people of Haiti and take away their votes is criminal," Baker said in reference to the questionable preliminary voting results. "One day they said the results were fraudulent and the next day they accepted the results. How can you do that?"

The tension continues in Haiti as U.N. peacekeepers are against the ropes. They are trying to make sense of a presidential election where more than 12 candidates, including Baker, called it a sham before a single vote was counted.

He simply described for me all the basics you can imagine: ballot tampering, voters being turned away at polling stations and blatant corruption.

"We want the election annulled," said Baker, who joined other opposition candidates in a mission to prove the national polling was fraught with fraud. "We have asked people all over the country to stand up. Not only did we agree, we've asked every Haitian to take to the streets and believe in democracy."

Earlier in the week, Baker rode around the streets of Port-Au-Prince and spread the word. He had some important friends with him, too.

Wyclef John, who attempted to run for president but was denied, and Michael Martelly, a popular Haitian musician known as 'Sweet Micky' joined Baker in their pursuit of truth.

They rode around in the streets and spoke the truth. At the same time, they had to quell violent tempers and unite the people.

"We will continue to march all the way to the national place," Baker said. "And we will do it peacefully."

When was the last time you ever saw competing politicians in America join forces to get down to brass tax? Remember those 36 days in Florida when someone stole the 2000 U.S. Presidential election? I do. It still haunts me.

I sincerely hope Baker and the guy from the Fugees get a fair shake. I don't think that country can take any more setbacks. They certainly don't deserve it.

I didn't want to take up too much of Baker's time considering I heard a street protest going on in the background during our conversation. It was amazing that he could fit me into his schedule considering what he was in the midst of.

And because of that, I have nothing but the utmost respect for him.

I don't have too much experience talking with president candidates (from any country) so I ended the conversation the best way I knew how to.

"Keep up the good fight, Mr. Baker," I said.

Then I rolled my eyes at myself. Pure amateur hour.

I hung up the phone, stared out the window for a minute and then tried to make sense of my own existence. Here I am writing stories in the newspaper about sports. Mere games being played.

What's going to happen next? What's the score here?

Monday, December 6, 2010

No-talent ass clown

Let me rub my eyes and look around. Yup, I'm still on island.

It's been a crazy last few days and I apologize for the blogging lapse. Now that a severe Paradise Jam hangover has dissipated, I'm back in action and ready to get weird.

Speaking of the PJ, it generated close to $2 million for the USVI so you know I worked my ass off (I would link up the economy boost story I wrote but for some reason, it wasn't published online. Go figure).

The tourneys wrapped up about a week ago and consumed my Thanksgiving.

While my girlfriend celebrated with 39 friends grubbing on four different turkeys, I sat on press row for four consecutive Division I women's basketball games and didn't even get a whiff of cranberry sauce. It was pure bliss and the games were action-packed. No ... I'm being serious.

But on the final day of the 10-day tourney and as I was walking out of the gym faithfully with my over-heated laptop in tow, one of the tournament directors left me with a few kind words...

"Don't say anything mean about us in your blog," she said.

Instead of scurrying to the nearest pub like I did after every 10-hour day spent at the tourney, I was taken aback.

"Whaaaaa?" I asked, with those little thirsty white deposits sticking to the corners of my mouth.

"Oh," she said. "I'm a little embarassed to tell you this but I Googled you before we came down."

That's funny. I've googled myself a few times -- shut up, don't act like you've never done it -- and that no-talent ass clown in the NBA is the only thing that comes up.

He is one of few American-born white players in the Association but he still sucks. The "Aaron Gray" realm belongs to me.

Anyway, back to my story. Of course, I briefly chastised the tournament lady for stalking me online but I also thanked her for reading.

"It's always a pleasure running into a fan," I said.

So for the record, the 11th annual Paradise Jam men's and women's basketball tournaments held at the University of Virgin Islands from Nov. 19 through Nov. 27 were thrilling to witness. America's basketball elite gathered on St. Thomas for that memorable week (Don't forget: I ate no turkey, gravy or mashed potatoes) and a joyous time was had by any non-V.I. resident who shelled out $35 to get in the door.

Since then, I have been busy with other life projects. I'll get into those tidbits tomorrow because at the moment, I am done with work, tired and thirsty.

A sweet trio indeed.