Monday, April 25, 2011

Office attire

So I tucked in my collar shirt today before I went into the office. I felt like a real jackass.

It was laundry day and on St. Thomas -- at least for me anyway -- that means it was a very early morning, followed by jostling for open industrial dryers with local mothers. And those mothers are tough.

Our washing machine caught fire several months ago but our dryer is still hanging tough. Usually, I slip into the laundromat around 6:30 a.m., snag three washing machines (preferably next to each other) and quietly read my magazine like a good citizen.

If I get in there any time after 7 a.m. (and I can't imagine the Easter holiday helped my cause), then it's like looking for an open table at Panera during the lunch rush. The mothers rule. I was on their turf.

I brought my wet clothes back to my house, fired up my dilapidated dryer, and started my pre-work pamper ritual. No clean collars so I looked to the junior-varsity rotation. At the top of the lineup was a brand-new shirt my loving mother got for me months ago. I quickly wondered why it hadn't been moved up to varsity yet?

I held it to my body and found out quickly. Just a little long. Not too long, though. Nothing a round in the dryer wouldn't take care of.

Then a light bulb lit up above my head.

What if I tucked? Could I pull it off ... while wearing shorts?

I fashioned myself in the mirror for several minutes to see what looked best. Tucked-in looked stupid. Un-tucked made it look like a mini-Superman cape that covered my ass. Before I knew it, my pre-work pamper session stretched from the normal three minutes to nearly nine.

I went with the tuck (my mom would have been proud) and I wasn't three feet in the door before one of our copy desk editors made a comment.

"Looking good, champ," he said as we crossed each other in the hallway.

Champ? What a jackass.

Monday, April 18, 2011

More British battle scars

It's been a week already and my battle scars haven't healed yet.

So I had some friends in town for the weekend. I came up with the bright idea of taking those jokers, along with some renowned St. Thomas booze hounds, on a boat trip around the British Virgin Islands.

Looking back, my girlfriend has described the experience as "a disaster" but knowing the clientele I was dealing with and the sloppy vibe that consumed us that day, I'd say it was par for the course.

Meanwhile, the final day of The Masters was going on and it was the first time in three years I wasn't standing near the 16th green watching the best in the world shoot for an eagle.

The Wolverine and his lady, Julie, who is a magazine cover model, were in attendance. Some random we caught up with at a bar the night before joined us as well. A local hothead, Mikey Todd, was a late addition and then there was Jesse Hershberger. With a last name like that, you can't go wrong.

The friends from home were local heroes in their own right. Aspiring V.I. resident Nick Wass and his lovely lady, Kerrie, came down for the weekend from DC as did Chico, an infamous tyrant from South Florida.

Let's get down to brass tacks, here. J├Ągermeister, once again, was the culprit and our demise. If the BVI police or any customs agent knocks on my door in the next few months asking me questions about that day, I will point my finger directly at that filthy beverage and then plead insanity.

For some odd reason (and this is what has been told to me), Hershberger decided to tackle me while I was sitting in a plastic chair in front of One Love.
This came after he decided to pour beer on my face as evident in the picture to the right. There were immediate and lasting repercussions. The chair snapped in several places and my back now looks like the cutting board for a butcher. I don't know why but my blood was running pretty thin that day. I put on my red Washington Nationals shirt to conceal my wounds and avoid a stern lecture from my appalled girlfriend.

Someone that didn't even work at One Love thought it was time for us to go and asked Jesse and I to leave the bar.

We got kicked out of the bar? I don't understand. Did I pay my tab? Screw it, I was leaving anyways.

I'm sure we were not the first, but to be thrown off of Jost, you really have to do something stupid and I assume this blatant act of debauchery took the cake.

Eventually, we made our way back onto the boat and for some reason, I found myself in an all-out wrestling match with Chico in the stern of the boat. According to testimony transcripts, I repeatedly poured beer on Chico's head in a celebratory gesture but he didn't feel like celebrating and things got physical.

As soon as Chico let me out of kung-fu grip, I was yelled at by the boat captain. Wait a sec, if the boat captain is yelling at me in the back of the boat, who's driving the boat? Once again, pure confusion.

Remember when you were a kid and your furious parents would yell from the driver's seat, "Cut it out or I will turn this thing right around and take you straight home?" Well, that's what this boat captain did.

Basically, our day of fun turned into a short-lived $900 ferry ride to and from Jost Van Dyke. No side excursions, snorkeling or exploring. This guy hauled right back to Red Hook and our trip ended around 4 p.m.

Several drunken exploits broke out when we got back to land -- lost keys, lost cell phones, getting locked inside a marina, deuces dropped inside the boat galley bathroom and near fist-a-cuffs in the backseat of my car -- as most people involved were unconsciousness before 8 p.m.

I woke up the day with an extremely sharp pain stemming from the two huge gashes embedded in my back.

Let's do the math: That's 2-for-2 with horrible cuts on my body from boat trips. Remember the last one?

I'm totally cool with Hershberger and all the shenanigans. But I also promised my lady no more boat trips for the next few weeks. Hershberger and his cohorts do not fall under these guidelines so they went on a similar trip yesterday. As I walked back from American Yacht Harbor where I covered the 2010 V.I. Game Fishing Dolphin Derby fishing event (winner got $25,000 -- not too shabby), I saw Hershberger and some other drunken monkeys getting back onshore.

They had stole a pack of sausages the night before from a party at my friend Frank's house so I yelled to them, "Hey sausage thieves!"

I took my eyes off them for a brief moment to say hello to some other fishermen then I felt a sharp pain right above my left knee.

Freaking Hershberger threw his apple at me from 20 feet away. I wasn't even looking.

With that little act of terrorism, Hershberger just dis-invited himself from every future event involving myself and alcohol. The kid can't be trusted. He apologized and then laughed.

We later agreed that I still owe him two gashes on the back and an apple to the leg. He was cool with our verbal contract and he made me promise that I don't tell him when retributions will come.

Hershberger just wants to feel the wrath and he doesn't want to flinch before it comes. So at least I got that going for me.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dr. Cliff rocks St. Thomas

I had been melting away in front of my work computer one day when my friend sent out a mass email to remind all the chillers on island to get Jimmy Cliff tickets because they were going fast.

Thanks, JP. Moments later, I secured my tickets and the show later sold out.

The next day, the news editor asked me if I wanted to "step out of the box" and when he used terms like that, it usually meant I have to do something I probably didn't want to do like take pictures of a church revival or count the pot holes on Main St.

When he asked me if I wanted to interview Jimmy Cliff for the advance story for his upcoming concert, I almost jumped out of my seat.

Dr. Jimmy Cliff -- didn't know he was doctor until I had to leave a message on his cell phone and he announced himself as DR. Jimmy Cliff -- was as cool as they come. The man just turned 63 and is a true legend.

My interview wasn't long, perhaps 10 minutes or so, but it was the first time in years I was actually nervous while talking with a celebrity.

I've sat down with professional athletes from across the globe, politicians, and murderous criminals. I even grabbed five good minutes with Redman and Method Man after they held a concert at my college. Most of the time, they just made fun of me because I was white.

"Look around you, Meth. We're in southwest Virginia. Not too many brothas in the Shenandoah Valley..."

Moments before I called Jimmy, I had butterflies in my stomach. I hadn't had this feeling since my first year in the bizz so yeah, it was pretty special talking with a reggae legend.

The concert was awesome. I brought my girlfriend along and she kept falling asleep on my shoulder during the opening act. It was Gramps Morgan, sort of a Luther Vandross wantabe, so I did not fault her. Once Jimmy came up, he played all the classics and had a standing-room-only St. Thomas crowd on their feet.

I had to break out the camera for a little video action.

I saw Steel Pulse the first month I moved to St. Thomas and now I have Jimmy Cliff under my belt. Who would have thought this tiny Caribbean island would bring in some good stuff?

Unfortunately, I missed out on Michael Bolton tickets. Probably because he's a no-talent ass clown.