What’s good people? A new year with new opportunities for growth, change, joy, and pain are ahead, woo-hoo! “Pressure, pushing down on me. Pressing down on you. No man ask for, Under pressure that brings a building down, splits a family in two. It’s the terror of knowing what the world is about. Watching some good friends screaming, Let me out”. When I started researching the events of the last 363 days the first thing that stood out to me personally was the passing of David Bowie. Bowie wrote those lyrics along with Freddie Mercury and the other members of Queen 34 years ago, the year I was born. The opening lyrics rushed to my head and struck a nerve as I thought about the events of 2016. This was the weirdest year of my existence and there’s no close second. While I enjoyed great opportunities and moments personally it felt like I was watching my friends and the rest of the world set adrift to float aimlessly in dangerous pirate waters. My wife and I spent a large portion of 2016 exhausting ourselves attempting to toss ropes and life preservers to these people as they were caught up in the current of despair and heartache. Happy to say some made it back to the boat, optimistic to say some are still paddling back, and remorseful to report some lost the fight and sank. But you know what, unfortunately that’s the beautiful struggle that makes life worth trying again every morning. Here it is friends, TBG’s Year In Review, pour a drink and grab the tissues.
2016 came out swinging like a real prick. We didn’t even make it to week two before cancer claimed Ziggy Stardust and then news hit mosquito’s would kill us all. Screw you Zika, still standing, punk. I’ll be brief on The Starman’s passing because we’ve all read blogs, columns, and posts on the loss but I have to say something. David Bowie and another icon we would soon lose taught me to be comfortable in my own skin at a young age when I didn’t know what that skin was. I grew up a UofL fan outside Louisville and preferred classic rock along with Nas, Biggie, and Pac over Hair Metal, Greenday, Garth Brooks, Metallica, and whatever else the nerds around me were listening to in the 90’s. I discovered Bowie in 7th grade and it was a mind-blowing, this man dressed like an asexual Martian was killing it and everyone adored this weird persona. I believe comfort in who you are is paramount to happiness. If you don’t love yourself, who will? I hope all of you gain that sense of security in 2017.
January wasn’t a complete L though. We got one of my favorite albums of the year from Anderson Paak with Malibu. Dr. Dre’s newest protégé is as refreshing as a Gatorade following up-backs in July practices. The beauty, and possibly this coupled with the loss of Bowie, is the album doesn’t fit any genre. It’s a unique blend, I’m not comfortable calling it R&B by modern metrics for what constitutes R&B, but if you have functioning ears and a heartbeat you’ll dig it. Celebration may be the anthem for the past year, “Time never cares, if you’re there or not there. All you ever needed was a simple plan. But you’re doing well; I mean you’re not dead. So let’s celebrate, while we still can”.
February gave us a new Kanye album and also brought me to terms with the fact Kanye may never make music that appeals to me ever again, and that’s fine, I’ll smash play on MBDTF when I want to re-live the good times. I’m not even mad at Kanye for being a deranged lunatic likely fueled by cocaine pyschosis. I’m mad at myself for not breaking up years ago. Kanye is an artist that has as high a nostalgic value for me as any artist ever has. At one point his album and my life were as linear as a college student from Kentucky can be with a rapper from Chicago signed to Roc-A-Fella Records. Dropout was when I was questioning the point of it (school), Graduation marked the point things started getting better, but he lost me on 808’s because I never really got my heart stepped upon by an ex. Sure there were times he would reel me back in but in hindsight those were just “you up tweets” from an ex, there was no chemistry or substance, just a brief good time. A small window of “I’m happy, for the moment”. Goodbye Kanye, hope you find normalcy in 2017.
March included a self imposed tournament ban by my alma-mater and Phife Dog passed. I’m done with you March, I hope none of my friends ever experience a post season ban when they had a good team, or any team for that matter, it’s a drag.
April came through and did us no favors. My reward for enduring a post season ban in March was a damn Drake album? This is hell. Drake perplexes me because there are three types of Drake. Party Drake just wants to stunt on his haters and toast champagne with his crew, which I like, but then he starts crying on the mic about exes moving on with their lives or thirsting for Nikki and I want to choke him. That’s not boss status AUBREY, you don’t get to pose for album covers like some Canadian Don and then cry about missed calls at 2 AM. I never thought hip hop would endure a worse stretch than Puffy crooning all those Take-Me-Back-J-Lo Anthems of the early 00’s but then we got this clown. America has enough soft-boys we do not need to import Canada’s. I hope Drake finds a nice girl and moves to the snowy banks of Saskatchewan in 2017.
Beyonce dropped Lemonade that month. That is all, never listened. Can’t name a single artist with as much success as B without a single song I enjoy. I’m serious; by my taste Cyndi Lauper has approximately three more bangers than Beyonce. In 2017 I hope to finally get it because I’m not disparaging the talent, I just don’t like the product.
April 2016 also claimed the life of Prince. All the things I wrote about Bowie inspiring confidence in being who you are and not apologizing for it, yeah that turned up to eleven regarding The Purple One. I remember the first time I saw Prince; actually I didn’t pay any attention to the little purple sprite on MTV because I was locked in on my neighbor’s older sister and her friends grinding to Cream. I knew at that point if he could pull chicks it would be lights out when I got some bass in my voice and a growth spurt. Spoiler, it was not lights out, I grew quick and had no coordination until I was about 16 but I didn’t lack for confidence. I got shot down like a champ for years. I hope everyone learns to let their funk flag fly high in the coming year. You’re the only you, everyone is something to somebody, you never know the impact being you has on others so keep it up in 2017, the world needs you.
May was alright though, Chance The Rapper dropped one of my favorite albums in years and things were looking up. Chance has more fun on the mic than anyone I recall in years. Coloring Book gave the people who “miss the old Kanye” a little taste of that Chicago spirit we all miss so dearly. I would report how many times I’ve listened to it but I’m not embarrassing myself for you all. Album comes out with the old Kanye sound featuring Chicago’s Children’s Choir and if you tell me you aren’t feeling it I would prefer you to close the tab on your browser and quit reading my thoughts. From there it springboards into No Problem with Wayne and 2 Chainz, first time I heard it I remember yelling to my wife, “baby, Wayne doesn’t suck anymore, I think he’s back”. I hope all of you get the same feeling from an album in 2017 I got from this one, the feeling that I’ve been waiting about a decade for this exact project.
I was also at the track in May and decided I would finally introduce myself to Mike Rutherford and tell him how much I appreciate his site and his work. I’m talking to Mike and John looks over and asks “wanna hop on air with us and talk Derby”. I’d be kidding myself if I didn’t admit that moment served as the catalyst for all the other awesome UofL related opportunities that have since come. I hope 2017 turns a simple moment into something really fun moving forward for everyone. Shooters shoot, don’t be shy, life’s too short.
June rolls around, Ali passes, I’m officially done with you 2016. Ali was special, growing up my grandmother, yes grandmother, would watch his old fights with me on Saturday mornings while we ate bacon biscuits in her living room. Most kids watched cartoons but weekends were for Ali and biscuits with my grandmother who adored him and could tell you how the fights would happen, punch for punch. She would yell “SWING AND A MISS” when he would work guy’s silly in the ring. Ali embodied standing for what you believe to be true in your heart, we should all learn from his example. The silver lining of his passing was showing the world what the city of Louisville is about. I am so damn proud of this city and its residents for showing Muhammad the love he was neglected for a period of time. A running joke with UofL fans was “how much does John Ramsey squat”, I don’t know an exact number, he told me once but I forgot, blame the Budweiser’s, but he damn sure put the city on his back that day performing the eulogy.
A couple days later John asked me to fill in for Mike while he was out of town. In one weeks time John shared a mic with Bill Clinton and Billy Crystal to sharing one with me, life comes at you fast, what a descent in a mere seven days for him. Like John or not, he’s a pit-bull, and I’m happy he considers me a friend. Texting with him during games has become a highlight for game days now. I hope in the New Year we all make new friends and offer one another opportunities to be themselves and have some fun doing so.
July rolled in and released Gucci Mane from prison, so there’s that. Gucci got out of the feds and Schoolboy Q dropped an incredibly slept on album titled Blankface. Good job July, you did not suck, bar was low as hell but you did it.
August was a roller coaster. Wife and I celebrated our first anniversary, I got involved with the Jimmy V Foundation, and one of my best friends dipped to Prague until December. Football season sans Cliff was weird and I wish to never repeat it but I can’t be mad at a buddy for taking advantage of such an opportunity. Jealous, sure, but mad? No. He and his girlfriend tied the knot while they were there so I can’t wait to give them corny newly-wed gifts like we received for the first year. Enjoy the his and hers slippers and butter knives, Cliff. It’s amazing the his-and-hers market of items is so damn vast. I can’t say enough about the V Foundation though, we are lucky to have Jimmy V’s family here in town and everyone should take advantage of the opportunity to volunteer with them. Bob always greets me with a “hello friend” when I see him at games or events and his son Nick is one of the most entertaining characters I’ve encountered in a lifetime of encountering characters. I hope all of you give some time to something bigger than yourselves and I hope you all find happiness in your love life.
Football season. We made it; the rest of the year was pretty much a blur to me because until November things were sky high for UofL fans. Sept-December was one elongated month as far I’m concerned. It started with Mike and Mark asking me to join the podcast and to post this blog when I felt like it. I didn’t know how to approach it; I hadn’t done any sort of writing outside business reports in over a decade and honestly never took writing very seriously. I’ll talk all day long, sure. But writing was completely out of my comfort zone and something I questioned. Through the posts I started figuring what my voice is and what angle I want to come from, I think. Maybe. I hope all of you push yourselves to try something you’re completely uncomfortable with. Some advice I can give is to never let sharks know you’re bleeding. Essentially, fake it ‘til you make it. You’d be amazed how far confidence gets you, I made it backstage at a concert once by walking very stridently while talking on my phone and I guess security thought I looked like I belonged. Shooters shoot, take the shot.
When GameDay rolled into town my little brother from frat life connected me to the show’s producer and got passes for my wife, some buddies, and I. I have say it’s been a charmed life for sure. Highlight of the day was seeing Mike Marra and Luke. My wife asks Luke if she can see the ring, he responds by taking it off and says “try it on” then Mike comes off the top rope and hands her his ring and says “two beats one”. She now has an amazing picture of her hand with two championship rings on it, memories are fun.
We recorded a (mostly) weekly podcast and didn’t hit the numbers we wanted but that’s something to work for in the coming year. By recording the podcast I finally met Keith Poynter and Master Drew, along with Mark and Mike. Couldn’t ask for a better group of dudes to meet up with and talk UofL and why Indiana is a landfill.
Football was filled with so many highs the lows really don’t register with me despite expectations of a New Years bowl, always next year. Lamar brought a Heisman which I never thought would happen for the school, which erases a lot of bad, not all, but a lot.
The day Lamar won the Heisman Mark asked me to cover the basketball game and film some answers for the players post-game. I made it fam, I tweeted my way to floor seats with media credentials, thanks Mark. I was sitting there next to Howie Lindsay with some notes I was taking about the game I could ask the players. With about four minutes to go in the game it hit me, I wasn’t here to be a professional reporter; I was there to be TBG. So with that in mind I scrapped all my questions about deflections, the extra pass to the shooter, officiating, and every other typical question and asked myself “What would a fan with access ask”. That’s what I did; I asked the kind of stuff I thought you all would enjoy and laugh at. I saw Jay and decided to ask him about his hair. I asked Jaylen about his favorite Air Jordan’s. I went in there with the attitude let the pro’s be pro’s and see if you can catch kids off-guard by asking them about themselves off the court, you know, treat them like people not thoroughbreds. I hope you all have enjoyed them because I certainly have enjoyed filming them.
There it is, TBG’s year in review. I’ve been beyond blessed this year and want to thank everyone who helped me get these opportunities. Thanks to John for tossing me a headset and putting me on air with him. Thank you to The Crunch Zone guys for asking me to join their team as well as thinking of a unique way for me to be myself and contribute content for the site and fans. Most importantly thank you if you’re reading this, your inspiring messages and tweets of approval do not fall on deaf ears. I do my best to respond to as many as people as I can on Twitter but I don’t want to flood non-UofL followers TL’s more than I already do. Like my Twitter bio says, I’m just tweeting from the cheap seats, I hope you all realize I genuinely enjoy sharing the moments with all of you. The People’s Champ does for the people what the people don’t have access to do for themselves and that’s what I attempt to do. I hope in 2017 I look over from the cookie table in the media room at games and see some of you waiting for that cookie. Be safe on New Year’s Eve and hug people you’re fortunate enough to be with. Go Cards and Go Krogering!
That Boys Good
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