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Road Comedy Recap: Do You Even Lyft on Juneteenth…

This weekend I celebrated Juneteenth in Levittown, Long Island, opening for the great Roy Wood Jr.  I feel like that sentence alone packs so much I could just end the blog there, but as a sign of progress Levittown did not move to another town once Roy and I arrived.  Any set of gigs in Long Island can be a pain for someone commuting from New Jersey  because you have to coordinate two different train systems. Door to door it is just as fast to fly to Denver as it is to go from Newark to Levittown via the NJ Transit-LIRR double trouble.  Rule of Thumb – if your commute consists entirely of populations that like to include “strong” as a description of, or moniker for their community, you are in for an inefficient commute.  Roy was gracious enough to ask me to open for him when we were both on the same bar show in April, so no amount of awful infrastructure was going to stop me from saying yes.  So here we go!

 

Friday: Only a Historic, Catastrophic Basketball Loss Could Ruin This Night!

On Friday, in honor of Juneteenth Observed, I went out early to see my friend Brian.  We had burgers at some well regarded burger stand in Massapequa, where the price of items had apparently been frozen since 1983.  Tasty and cheap, I picked up the tab, assuring Brian that thanks to my web cam girl side hustle I could cover our combined $1.14.

 

We then made our way to Governor’s Comedy Club.  Only one show on Friday and I crushed it. It was a good thing I did because a friend and colleague that I have not seen since March showed up with some friends and realized I was not just “I hate work, so the guy who sits near me is funny” level funny, but funny funny.  A recurring theme of my career for the last 6 years – fans of The Black Guy Who Tips showed up (to 2 of the 3 shows over the weekend, more for Roy than me, but still for me too) and my favorite type of fan also showed up Friday: The “I did not know you were going to be here, but I follow you and am a big fan” fans.  Once again, thank you social media algorithms for rendering my fan base a total crap shoot.

 

After selling a few USB cards (all 6 of stand up albums are on one USB card that I sell), Brian gave me a ride to the LIRR.  The 10:29 back to NY Penn would give me breathing room (i.e. Haagen Dazs kiosk milkshake drinking time) before the 1141pm train home.  When I exited the train in Penn the Utah Jazz, my favorite team for 34 years, was winning 72-50 at halftime, on the road.  My former doorman texted me a gif of Jordan Clarkson. My girlfriend texted me “jazzzzzzzzzz,” which meant the Jazz were either winning or falling asleep.  Then, like all things NJ transit touches, the Jazz game went to shit as soon as I got on NJ transit (but my doorman friend and girlfriend jinxing it deserves some blame as well).  By the time I exited the train 29 minutes later in Bloomfield, NJ the Jazz were up 2 points going into the 4th quarter.  I arrived home in time to see one of the worst quarters of basketball in franchise history and watch my team’s season end.  However, I felt a small sense of relief.  I had one less place to story my anxiety and stress so I ended up getting an above average 6.5 hours of sleep that night.  It also obscured the fact that Jazz legend John Stockton had recently come out as an an anti-covid vax type weirdo.  June 18th should just be known as Black Friday for the Jazz organization (which is also what most people in Utah call the movie Friday, to distinguish it from Joe Friday in Dragnet).

 

Saturday – Can a Half Black Man Catch a Cab in Long Island?

On Juneteenth I headed out to Long Island early because the NJ transit trains are every other hour in my town on the weekends. So I left Bloomfield and eventually arrived in Hicksville, Long Island (a 9 minute drive from the club) at 5:01pm.  I saw that there was a Chick Fil-A a ten minute walk away so I went for some Christian chicken before the show.  Once I was finished I figured I could kill time until 6:10 before getting a cab for the 7pm show.  Well, no Lyfts were available.  So I walked back to the train station which has an old school cabby depot. No cabs available. So as I began to feel nervous about not making it to the club on time (I don’t have Uber on my phone, but apparently they are easier to get on Long Island, presumably because people on Long Island think it is “gay” to spell Lyft with a Y.  So, after contacting the club and the emcee I was able to hop a ride with Roy when his train arrived at 6:55 and we arrived shortly before the show began, albeit beginning about 15 minutes late.  The early show Saturday was the only show I was not happy with my performance. It was fine, but the other two were a lot better.  I think part of it was the 240% humidity combined with the stress of rushing to the club had me sweating like Ron Burgundy when he is racing back to the news station in Anchorman.

 

After the show, in addition to more The Black Guy Who Tips fans, I was greeted by a couple that was quoting my Lincoln Project ads back to me. But they were not following me on social media, nor did they know I would be there.  More accidental fans!  But more hilarious, though out of respect for Roy I will be cryptic, was what went on between the shows.  Let’s just say I do not envy the part of Roy’s success that leads to potential Hustle and Flow encounters:

 

The second show went well (I am resisting my usual video posting this year because I really want a lot of my bits to be new for most people when I record in October) and then I rode to LIRR with Roy.  Here is where the story gets interesting.

 

Because of the weird train schedules, Roy offered me a hotel if I needed one.  I said I would take one Saturday so that I could stay until the end of the 2nd show and not worry about missing the last NJ train out of NY Penn.  But for some reason, most hotels in the vicinity of the club were all booked, so the best option was a hotel that looked nice to me on the web in Jamaica, Queens (PSA: the Internet is deceptive). Roy’s assistant booked it and I thanked her.  The good news, on top of the catfish hotel photos, is that it was a quick walk from LIRR in Jamaica, which would also facilitate a quick departure in the morning.  Here, in bullet point form, is the rest of my trip (you know I got home safe because this blog is being written Sunday night):

  • Exit LIRR at 1am on Sutphin Boulevard. Look around and see some working folk and some ne’er do wells.  One way looks well lit and the other turn looks like an invitation to go out like Bruce Wayne’s parents.  Of course the GPS points me toward the darkened, abandoned street for 3 blocks.
  • When I arrive at my hotel, the lobby is not air conditioned.  There are two women who look like Snoop from The Wire sitting in the lobby with t-shirts that say “Security.”
  • The guest check in area is behind thick glass (this felt more like bullet protection than Covid protection)
  • I get my room on the 2nd floor and head up.  As I walk down the hallway of this fairly busy hotel I see a couple exit the room at the end of the hall. They seem sort of awkward. I could not tell if this man and woman were a couple or just the occupants of the room for a couple of minutes but they stood at the end of the hall as I approached. At this moment my math was “40% chance she’s a prostitute, 40% chance they are a couple and 20% chance they are a couple and are about to attempt a push-in robbery as soon as I tap my key card.”
  • They did not. I entered my room and proceeded to do my final Father’s Day Cameo (feeling that it might represent my final work). Went to bed at 2:30. Woke up at 6:30 and left at 710 for the 7:22 LIRR to Penn Station.  The night clerk was still up and gave me a look like “leaving so early? Were you not satisfied with your floor’s whore services?”

 

Fun weekend. Lots of reading on trains. Worked with one of the best in the business. And lived to write about it.

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Kevin Durant May Have Killed The NBA

Celebrating my 30th year as a Utah Jazz fan in 2017 (in exile in NYC for the whole time, like a hoops Roman Polanski) I began the 2016-17 season with deferred optimism. Last year (2015-16) the Jazz would have made the playoffs if they had not been the most injured team in the league. This year they had a contract year Gordon Hayward, an ever-improving Rudy Gobert and veteran additions of George Hill and Joe Johnson, so it was not hard to convince me that this was the year they finally became relevant again. They won 51 games, despite losing the most starters’ games to injury in the league.  They have a young core, a rabid fan base and a series win over the Clippers to give most of their players a first taste of playoff success.  And as of last night’s bitter defeat in Game 3 of the second round hope has been snuffed out. And it may have been snuffed out for the rest of the NBA for some time.

Kevin Durant – Possibly The Biggest Bitch in NBA History

I think I learned that I hated Durant for the first time last night.  I thought his decision to sign with Golden State was weak and anti-competitive (you get to an NBA Finals at 23, take the defending champs to 7 games – after BLOWING a series lead – and you decide to join your vanquisher instead of staying put?), but I did not really care that much.  I was more focused on the development of Utah and figured we would not be championship ready for a couple of seasons anyway.  But seeing the Jazz, who I think could have easily been the 3 seed this year if they had merely suffered the league average for injuries, make such strides so quickly made me feel more helpless as a fan much sooner than I expected.

The Jazz have built a team slowly and surely that could be a conten- oh never mind.

And before I continue destroying Durant, I think some of the blame for his decision rests with the fans and the media in our age of easy markers of success and low attention span.  As a Jazz fan, and a 90s hoops fan of any good team without Michael Jordan on the roster, I felt many stinging defeats, but in retrospect I am happy to have rooted for a team that was competitive for 2 decades and elite for 4 or 5 years.  Malone and Stockton are among the game’s greatest players and losing to Jordan did not tear them down as much as it enhanced the legend of Jordan’s greatness.  However, with social media, the Internet and stupidity all playing a bigger role in our lives, the scrutiny and need for an easy token of “greatness” dominates sports’ conversations.  So after Lebron was crushed, but then redeemed for winning, by a fickle and hypocritical fan base, Durant probably looked and said “The only way for me to be legit is to win a title and the media and fans will forgive my cowardice if I win, just like they did for Lebron.”  Of course, there are critical differences (Lebron joined a 47 win team and had been in a purgatory of Cleveland – never bad enough with Lebron for elite draft picks, never enticing enough for free agents. He did not join one of the 5 greatest teams in NBA history that had just barely beat him), but I cannot say that fans and media are completely blameless in creating the atmosphere that made Durant choose Golden State.  But that said, his move to Golden State was the most cowardly and bloody coup since the Red Wedding on Game of Thrones (there will be more GOT analogies).

The Decision now looks like storming the beaches of Normandy compared to Durant’s gutless decision to play for the Warriors.

But none of these things made me hate Kevin Durant.  No, it was not until late in Game 3 of the Warriors-Jazz series, when Durant cursed out the Jazz mascot, Bear, that I realized he was a bitch.  YOU (clap emoji) DONT (clap emoji) GET (clap emoji) TO (clap emoji) ACT (clap emoji) TOUGH (clap emoji) WHEN (clap emoji) YOU (clap emoji) BITCHED (clap emoji) OUT (clap emoji) AND (clap emoji) JOINED (clap emoji) THE (clap emoji) WARRIORS!

I’ll admit I was deeply frustrated that my Jazz squad had nullified Curry, Thompson (FYI – the only non-bitch superstar on the Warriors) and Draymond to bad games and the Warriors were able to rely on the Johnny Gil of their Shitty New Edition to drop 38 points.  But seeing Durant try to be a tough guy, a villain and an “assassin” has made me (I never thought I would say this) miss Kobe Bryant – who may have been a douche and a jerk, but never an anti-competitive turd.  Watching Durant emotionally flex felt like seeing Amazon do a touchdown dance in front of a neighborhood bookstore that was closing.

So is there any hope? Probably not.  I mean maybe Klay Thompson could leave and maybe the overall bitch-ass-ness of the team would force it to implode, but other than that I think we may be stuck with this squad for a while.  But if there are any chances for the rest of the league here they are (with a slight Utah bias showing on one):

Lebron.  Lebron may be the Jamie Lannister of the NBA at this point (how ironic that the King is best represented by the King Slayer).  The Decision was when he pushed a kid out of the window (boooo), but he then helped a giant, unappealing woman (Brienne of Tarth = Cleveland) and we all were fans again (yay).  Well with Durant and GS being Cersei and The Mountain (a bitch and a powerful monster tandem) it may be the King Slayer who will provide us the best chance to prevent a terrible dynasty.  And, by the way, if Lebron actually does beat this Warriors team in the Finals, I (clap emoji) DONT (clap emoji) CARE (clap emoji) ABOUT (clap emoji) MICHAEL (clap emoji) JORDAN’S (clap emoji) SIX (clap emoji) RINGS!  The GOAT title will have passed and I will not longer entertain other arguments… even when it is revealed that Lebron uses HGH for milk in his cereal.

Lebron and Cleveland… GoT style

Chris Paul to the Spurs (or if not, the Jazz).  Gregg Popovich is the only superstar in the NBA besides Lebron with a shot to stop the Warriors.  And getting Chris Paul would greatly enhance their competitiveness for the next few years while Paul can still deliver (he was outstanding against the Jazz).  The Spurs are the Patriots of the NBA, except their leaders don’t like Trump, so they are even better.  With Chris Paul taking over for Tony Parker they would immediately be a legit contender again, especially if Apple updates the Kawhi Leonard operating system for 2017-18.  But if the Spurs cannot get him I would argue that the Jazz could make a compelling argument.  They have a great defense, depth at each position (except center – maybe address that in this Summer’s draft) and with George Hill injury prone and not under contract a possible place for major upgrade. And only a few teams are better than the Jazz and almost all have the pG position filled – GSW, Cleveland, Houston (Harden), Spurs, Jazz.  So basically if the Spurs cannot get Paul I think it would be beneficial to the league, to CP3, the Jazz and my mental health for the Jazz to make a deal for CP3. The pitch the Jazz make is simple – “Right now Chris, you are in the Stockton, Payton, Nash category and unless you get a title you will never break into the Isaiah Thomas category.  We are your best (non-Spurs) shot at that. So what if Utah is boring – it is beautiful and we only want you for 3 years.”

JaVale McGee accidentally injures all the Warriors. Perhaps an athletic move gone awry (known henceforth as a “JaVale”) in practice leads JaVale to land on Curry and Draymond, ending their seasons (note – I have always been a McGee fan – athletic, plays hard, goofy -pure entertainment, and oddly admirable).

Prayer – It cannot be denied that the Golden State Warriors are an unholy creation.

LaVar Ball gets his son traded to the Warriors on Draft Night and all Hell breaks loose.  Now that would be awesome.

LaVar Ball may be our last, best hope to stop the Warriors.

Get J-L’s new stand up albums KEEP MY ENEMIES CLOSER &  ISRAELI TORTOISE on iTunes, Amazon & Google.

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Weekend Recap: Crushed It in Philly and Brooklyn! (watching…

This weekend I was out on the road, which was a nice change of pace from sitting in sweatpants for 11 hours a day “on my way to the gym” while trying to finish Netflix (you read that correctly).  However, as my comedy booking e-mails continue to go into spam folders (perhaps using the subject heading “Enlarge your penis by booking me at your club” is a bad way to get through web filters this weekend’s road tripping was to support my favorite sports team, the Utah Jazz.  Perhaps other than “J-L is not booked to do comedy this weekend” no phrase makes less sense in the American pop culture landscape than “Utah Jazz.” As a quick primer they used to be the New Orleans Jazz, but then the team moved to Utah with all those swinging Mormon cats and decided that they should keep the name Jazz. especially if 30+ years later a team would come back to New Orleans and would prefer to be known as Pelicans anyway.  I became a Jazz fan because as a young hoopster I liked Karl Malone’s gigantic arms (no homo), their purple uniforms (no homo) and John Stockton’s short shorts (OK, possibly homo at this point).  And even at a young age the Jazz gave me a sense of identity as a sports fan away from my friends and family’s uniform admiration for the New York Knicks.  Stockton and Malone gave me the added benefit as a mixed race child of seeing a black person and a white person work together in harmony, as opposed to my parents who had more of a Robert Parish-Bill Laimbeer relationship.

Robert Parrish and Bill Laimbeer - less passively aggressive than my parents

So with that backdrop I have been a die hard Utah Jazz fan for 28 years I went to see them against the 76ers in Philadelphia Friday with two friends (Pat and Jim) first and then against the Nets in Brooklyn on Sunday.  Normally I also go to watch them play the Knicks, but when I looked up ticket prices for Knicks games, even the cheap seats had “anal rape” listed as the cost on Ticketmaster so I had to pass, which was disappointing since the Jazz won on a last second shot.  Last year I went because I received Lorne Michaels (yes that Lorne Michaels) seats 3rd or 4th hand (#ComedyMogul), but the Jazz came as close to winning that game as I did to becoming a cast member on SNL.  So on to this weekend’s festivities.

Philadelphia

The first part of Jazz Weekend was Philly.  That meant the PATH train from Manhattan to Hoboken, get picked up by Jim in his borrowed car and Daryl Dawkins’ game jersey, stop at Pat’s house where he was with his adorable two sons, reminding Jim and I that perhaps being struggling, unsuccessful comedians with no families of our own is actually a plan B for life, switch to Pat’s larger car for the Cranford to Philly leg of the trip and then watch a match up that NBA TV called “what the fu*k else is on tonight.”

The drive from Cranford to Philly was uneventful, because Pat (the Dad) did something I have never seen before – he kept perfect 62 mph pace with the GPS. We had a 90 minute trip according to the GPS and he arrived in 90 minutes.  Not 89 or 83… 90.  Being a Dad really changes people.  I might just be mythologizing Pat, but I feel like if we took this trip 10 years ago he might have tried to lap the GPS in a race.

So we arrived at the Wells Fargo Arena just in time for the game and as a Wells Fargo customer (#ComedyMogul) I knew that I wouldn’t have to pay ATM fees (#Blessed).  The game was great if you like terrible shooting and way too many t-shirt gun promotions.  A thing I noticed about the T-shirt gun – it turns people into the rich seats into proletariat animals.  Your seats cost $200 bucks – why are you screaming like a refuge who sees a UN Peacekeeper at a child’s medium piece of sh*t t-shirt?  Our seats were much cheaper but we were closer to the haves than the have-nots, though if you are at a 76er game you are sort of a have-not by definition.

During the game there was a very cool video montage of Allen Iverson and when the crowd saw him in attendance on the jumbo tron it was the loudest the arena got until the very end.

A shot of Allen Iverson on the jumbotron waving to me during the game

As the game got to the end, with the Jazz possessing a very comfortable lead, the game within the game took shape.  See Jim enjoys a bit of gambling now and then (now is every morning and then is every evening) and he placed a small wager that his 76ers would beat the 7.5 point spread.  Well the Jazz had around a 13 point lead with just over a minute left.  It looked like a lost cause for Jim until someone on the 76ers (I forget who) decided he would pad his stats with a barrage of useless 3 pointers.  With 30 seconds left it was Jazz ball up 9. At this point Jim is losing his bet, but because of the 24 second shot clock the 76ers are guaranteed one more possession if the Jazz miss and the 76ers secure the rebound. Well with about 7 seconds left the Jazz missed, got their rebound and missed again!  The 76er player trying to set the record for most 3 pointers made with no chance of winning took the ball, dribbled down court and raised up for a buzzer beater. SWISH!!!  And the crowd went bezerk (Jim, Pat and I were the only people left and you would have thought they just showed Iverson again on the jumbotron putting on a 76ers jersey to play the next night).

All in all a great trip and a great win for the Jazz.

Brooklyn

After a day off to almost go to the gym and declare that I would start eating healthy the next day I ventured to Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the Jazz-Nets game.  I was picked up in a nice Uber car with my friend John in it (#ComedyMogul) and it dropped us off at the arena with a few minutes to spare, which was good since we had to go through a metal detector when we got there.  I have been to about 10 NBA arenas and I think Barclays is the only one I have entered with metal detectors.  Is that the NBA’s way of not so subtly saying that Morgan Freeman should take over ownership of the team until it is a better place to play (“You Shoot bricks don’t ya D-Will. Well,do ya?? You know what that does – it kills our fan base son, so if you want to kill our fan base stop fuc*king around and do it expeditiously!”)?

Barclays looks like a nice NBA arena with a touch of inner city high school

When we finally got in the arena I settled in with a hot dog and pretzel (couldn’t eat a hot dog at Friday’s game because of Lent (#CatholicMogul)) and our seats were fantastic.  Sadly, once the Nets become even decent the prices will skyrocket, but it is nice to see a 6pm Game on a Sunday with a great view of the court, without having to bring crimes against humanity charges like at Madison Square Garden.  The game was competitive, I ate cheesecake (When in Rome with a Junior’s cheesecake concession stand) and the Jazz earned a quality victory, with Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert solidifying my decision to make them the next two Jazz jersey purchases in the off season, continuing the black and white Jazz tradition.

After the game I asked the Jazz for free tickets next year because the Jazz are 2-0 in 2015 when I am in attendance (#Blessed).  No response so far.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on iTunes and/or STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe for free!

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Comedy Weekend Recap: The Knicks, Adam Sandler and a…

This weekend was a very busy one for me.  First I had to take my Dad to Dunkin’ Donuts on Friday for an afternoon of father-which-son-of-mine-are-you bonding (he is 82 and like Tony Soprano’s mother I am starting to see a blur between loss of memory and loss of respect for his younger son, which is making it more difficult to know when I should be sympathetic and when I should be offended).  Then I was #blessed enough to have  a friend with some serious comedy connections hook me up last minute with great seats to the NY Knicks-Utah Jazz game (if you are new to my site I am a big Utah Jazz fan – coming from a mixed marriage family marked by hostility I always found the harmony that Malone and Stockton played with to be oddly reassuring).  The seats actually belonged to a major mogul in comedy, so naturally I taped my impression reel underneath his seat for the next game he attends himself.

One of the great things about attending Knick games in the rich seats is that you get to see 12 year old kids with pouty looks begrudgingly marching into Madison Square Garden for tickets costing over $400 per game as if they are doing their fathers a favor leaving their PS4 and horny middle school teacher to sit in seats most American adults will never be able to afford.  Another thing I observed during the game was that t-shirt gun technology is out of control.  As gun violence has continued to make headlines it has given cover to the absurd NRA-porn level t-shirt gun technology.  There was one that looked like a massive Gatling gun of polyester.  It is only a matter of time until 11 year old Seth has a t-shirt smack him right in his smug 4th row seat face.  Then we may see real change to this horrific t-shirt gun technology.

Jesse Ventura's character in Predator used less firepower than the Knick T Shirt Gun Squad

The game ended up being a horrible beat down of the Utah Jazz, but it was nice to be in the rich seats.  I now realize that the next time I will be that close to the court will either be as a courtside celebrity (.01% chance) or as a survivor of a horrible tragedy being honored by the Garden (.02% chance).

Saturday was a monster Saturday.  From 745am to 430 pm I was filming my new sketch “Happy Madison Presents ‘Tyler Perry’s ‘ Old Testament, New Problems'” a parody of what would happen if film legends Adam Sandler and Tyler Perry combined their brilliant writing and film-making.  The shoot was exhausting (4 locations), but a ton of fun and will be my best (and hopefully biggest) work to date.  Here is the photo that will be the promo shot for the video:

Tyler Perry vs Adam Sandler - next week

So super tired and relieved of the stress that I always feel when filming one of my sketches I headed to Comedy Outliers, a show run by two NYC comics at the Sports Bar at Webster Hall.  The crowd was big and enthusiastic and several audience members had a look of hopeful happiness in their eyes and that is when I knew it might go off the rails for me.  I was tired and had just witnessed an awful mother-daughter combo a block from the bar.  Let me explain.  I was tired, which put me in a susceptible mood to be pissed off.  Then, a cab was stuck in the crossing traffic so although I had the right of way I let the cab go because not letting him go would hold up the 20 cars waiting to go north on the avenue.  As the cab started to go forward the mother-daughter duo stepped into traffic, oblivious to the rest of the situation. The mother was a formerly attractive blond (she was halfway to leathery Robert Redford stage) and her daughter was a semi-chubby 13 year old brunette (i.e. a slightly hotter Lena Dunham). And the daughter yelled out out “Excuse me!” to the cab driver, and the mother pointed for a good three seconds at the walk sign (cab driver was going about 6mph so no one was in any danger).  And as I looked at these two – a woman who had most likely married a less attractive, more accomplished man, otherwise how does one explain the daughter with worse looks, but equally awful character as her, and her offspring and thought – this is just like the Evolution of Man poster, except instead it is like seeing the Evolution of Cu*t.

Why did I share this story?  Because I took a risk and made it the first joke of my set.  And I actually had the crowd in a combination of curiosity and laughter until I hit the C bomb.  And that look of hopeful enthusiasm half of the crowd had disappeared and the four laughs for the line could not heal the damage I felt from the other people’s silence.  I worked doubly hard the rest of the set, but jokes that are touchy, but usually kill, were now tainted by the fruit of the poisonous C-Bomb tree.

After conversing with a couple of comedians I left the bar, bought a Hostess Apple Pie and did this (the usual way I celebrate after a less than perfect set):

Sunday was just lots of media watching and I will not get into True Detective today because TOMORROW”s Podcast episode will be dedicated, in part, to me arguing against the wave of love for that show (a B+ is solid, but when everyone treats it like an A, I get pissed).

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on PodomaticiTunes and NOW on STITCHER. New Every Tuesday so subscribe on one or more platforms today – all for free!

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Utah Jazz Week Journal Part 3: Is Rooting For…

Saturday night I travelled with two buddies and fellow comedians Jim Dodge and, as of Tuesday at 6pm on the Game Show Network,Newlywed Show contestant Pat Breslin.  Both of them are Philadelphia 76er fans and we went to the game last year (along with approximately 50 other people in the emptiest arena ever for a professional, non-WNBA sporting event.  The Jazz won easily.  But this year I had a lot more concern.  The jazz had lost three straight games to the Wizards (awful), the Nets (more awful) and the Celtics (respectable, but awful because of the previous two losses).  After seeing the Jazz go 5-0 in the five games I attended last year I was unsure if they could stop from going 0-3, even if the 76ers suck.  My concern was well founded.

This is the only image I saw this week that had a member of the Utah Jazz doing anything with authority.

The Jazz sucked something awful.  They are playing basketball with the same enthusiasm that I send out booking e-mails.  Despite rooting for the team since I was 7 I am pretty much ready to write off this season.  However I was still trying to figure out the possible reason for the incredibly awful play of the Jazz.  Is it because I am a Yankee fan and at some point one has to pay a price for rooting for the Goldman Sachs of sports?  Probably not.  Or is it the fact that I am a Pittsburgh Steeler fan?  Is a 4 game losing streak the price to pay for rooting for a rapist to win one playoff game?  Maybe – what I fear is that it may be a mathematical equation then.  Perhaps x = number of rape allegations and you raise that to y, which is the number of playoff wins you want?  So if the bye week counts as 1 playoff win and the Steelers win against the Ravens is another then that would explain a 4 game losing streak.

X(Roethlisberger sex assault allegations) to the Y(Steeler playoff wins needed) power = number of Jazz losses

So bad news for Jazz fans, I am rooting for a 16 game losing streak.  The bad news is it looks like that is definitely possible the way they are playing.  The good news is the Steelers 7th Super Bowl is looking more and more likely.  The Jazz are at the Lakers for their next game.

Rooting for his team may be costing my other teams a lot in the karma department.
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Utah Jazz Week Journal Part 2: New Jersey Nets

So after a painful and disgraceful loss to the Washington Wizards the Utah Jazz got just what they needed – the New Jersey Nets.  So last night I travelled to the Prudential Center in Newark (really nice arena, but made me sad to know the Nets will abandon the arena in less than 2 years.  I looked at all the employees like the Cars in the small town in the Pixar film Cars; one day they will be underemployed.).

The staff of the Prudential Center will be a lot less busy when the Nets leave for Brooklyn.

It was also Russian Cultural night so in addition to Russia’s most famous basketball player in town, the Jazz’ Andrei Kirilenko, there apparently were also tons of prostitutes and skin care technicians in the arena. The national anthem was sung by some Russian woman who won a Russian contest.  It may have been the best rendition I have heard since Whitney Houston’s at the Super Bowl many years ago.  It was that good.  Side note – Alexander Ovechkin was at the game as well.  I think that tells you how badass the Nets’ owner is (like Michael Corleone requesting personal appearances from Johnny Fontaine).  He got the world’s greatest hockey player to come to a Nets’ game!  But I don’t think Mikhail Prokhorov asks a second favor.  Sadly the anthem would be the highlight for me and the Jazz.

Ovechkin, I would like you to come to Russian Culture Night at the Nets game. I do not ask twice.

The Jazz put up another stinker of a game.  They played the exact same way against the Wizards.  So similar it almost looks like a game plan.

  1. Play like crap in the first quarter.
  2. Pull even at halftime
  3. Play the 3rd quarter like you are trying to lose the game and go down at least 15
  4. Wait until 7 minutes remain in the game and then play your balls off and lose narrowly

The Utah Jazz, whether you hate them or love them, always played hard and with great execution.  It is why they were able to win, even when they had limited talent.  This team is not doing that.  It is the first time I have ever seen the Jazz underachieve.  The coaching and talent they have should result in a top 6 NBA team, but they are playing like a bottom 5 team.  But there were other things to annoy me, making the trip to Newark a huge disaster.

For one, the Nets dancers now appear to be dancers.  They used to be  glorified strippers bouncing around, but now the cleavage is gone and they actually look like they are trying to execute dance moves.  In past years it was a 50/50 proposition of whether one of the dances would blow the Nets’ mascot at midcourt.  Now, they just act like regular dancers, instead of exotic ones.  Perhaps the Nets’ billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov has already moved the former dancers directly on to his private jet.

The other terrible news was two part.  Kim Kardashian was at the game, so I had no problem telling my girlfriend, who was at the game with me, that this might be my chance.  I mean, why would Kim Kardashian be at the game (a Jazz-Nets game?), if not to meet a tall, underachieving man with a black father?  She is the Queen of the B list black athletes, so maybe she is ready to take a few more steps backward and date a G-list half-black comedian?  Well it turns out I was right, but only because she is now dating Nets’ forward Kris Humphries, who I cannot tell if he is a caucegro, but he looks like it.  So she is coming closer to my territory since she is dating a D list pro athlete.  So once Kardashian is on husband number 8 territory in her 50s she should be at the J-L Cauvin level of desperation.

He is only averaging 8.1 points per game more than I am.

But what was more disturbing than the Kardashian news was the fact that three male friends of mine (a screenwriter manager, a person who works in real estate and a comedian) all knew that she was dating Kris Humphries.  That is an absolute disgrace.  My girlfriend watches E! and she was not as up-to-date on Kim Kardashian’s dating life as three heterosexual men.  As Adam Carolla said with the title of his recent book, “In Fifty Years We’ll All Be Chicks.”

So The Nets no longer employ whores as dancers, Kim Kardashian continues to date the wrong mediocre men and the Jazz played the worst game of basketball I have ever seen them play in person.  I guess it can only get better when I head to Philly on Saturday for Jazz-76ers.

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A Letter to NY Knick Fans From A Utah…

Dear Knick fans (and Jazz fans who may read this on Twitter because it said Utah Jazz),

I head to DC tomorrow to begin part one of the three state/territory Utah Jazz tour on the East Coast (my one time to shine for all the Jazz fans who long for first person tweets during the East Coast trips).  First stop is in DC to see the Jazz play the Wizards, then Wednesday to New Jersey to see them play the Nets and then Saturday to Philadelphia to watch them play the 76ers. Given the atrocious record of these east coast teams it is no wonder that the Jazz are around 8-0 in the last 8 games I have attended (thanks also to the 140-139 OT win over Oklahoma City last year in Utah).  Obviously, not going to Boston will help my chances of extending that streak, not to mention the fact that the Jazz do not play the Knicks until March, which should be a very competitive game.  That brings me to the main point of this post. 

Knick fans could learn a few things from Utah fans.  Both teams had similar recent histories: over a decade of success anchored by a 1980s superstar draft pick (Ewing for the Knicks, Stockton and Malone for the Jazz), two trips to the Finals, zero titles and numerous Jordan nightmares (though Bryon Russel’s is second only to Craig Ehlo, if that).  The difference is that the Jazz only had one awful season in the last 20.  The 2004-05 season was the only sub .500 season of Jerry Sloan’s tenure as coach of the Jazz (his 2003-04 42-40 season might actually count as a miracle if he is ever up for Sainthood – that team started four white guys, a Puerto Rican and had a Collins twin playing significant minutes off the bench and won 42 games.  That would have been impressive in 1958, let alone 2004).  Knick fans, on the other hand, had to endure one of the most bizarre decades of any team in sports history.

Awful signings (the Allan Houston mega deal started this because unlike other sports markets, New York fans cannot tolerate an intentional re-building period, so instead they overpaid for Houston to try and maintain their status as a mid-low level playoff team.  Instead that backfired and they sucked AND overpaid), terrible draft work and the tag team of Scott Layden (a former and current Jazz employee – once again showing what a genius Jerry Sloan may be) and Isaiah Thomas, not to mention the second worst owner in the NBA behind Donald Sterling of the LA Clippers, and you had a recipe for awfulness.

The Jazz during the decade quickly rebuilt the only way they could – with a lucky lottery pick (DeronWilliams), a backstabbing Duke Blue Devil (Carlos Boozer), another find from Louisiana Tech (Paul Millsap – I have owned a Millsap jersey for over two years, way before it became cool, which I dont think it has yet) and of course, white guys (Mehmet Okur, Andre Kirilenko, Gordon Hayward).  Just two years after they lost 56 games they were in the Western Conference Finals.  But that is as far as they have gone.

This year, the Knicks added some pieces and had some players mature and develop.  Amar’e Stoudemire has been a top 5 player in the league, even if he is a worse rebounder than the Knick’s rookie shooting guard Landry Fields (both a knock andcompliment in one statement).  Raymond Felton has proven that being a slightly above average point guard and being chubby-looking can still be explosive in a Mike D’Antoni system.  And Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari (but especially Chandler) look like they could be ultra-championship level role players (or in the case of Chandler a possible 2 option behind Stoudemire).  In other words, the Knicks have made incredible strides in only one season.  So what is the Knick fan response?  Is it one of cautious optimism in trying to nurture and further develop the identity and cohesiveness of this team?  No  it is get Carmelo Anthony as soon as possible.  In other words, Knick fans cannot help but be New York sports fans – get rich quick – win now, I’ll-sleep-when-I’m-dead mentality. Instead of the ten years helping Knick fans wise up andbuild the foundation they are already talking about removing some of the foundation for a flashy rooftop pool (that is a weird analogy, but go with it).  Without sounding like Bill Simmons too much – it is like the scenario in Teen Wolf trading in Boof for Pamela.  In the end Scott realizes who he should be with (and he still got to bone Pamela – win win!).  But in the Knicks case, they cannot have both.

Most Knick fans have been in a coma for so long (or in the case of their legion of investment banker exploding fist-bump fans a cocaine and prostitute induced stupor) that they forget that building a team is more than star power.  Carmello and Amar’e are not Wade and LeBron.  And if you get into an arms race for star power you will lose because Miami will always have the bigger guns.  But what you can do is take a page from the Spurs or the Pistons or even the early-mid 90s Knicks and build an identity and a team.  Right now the Knicks all seem to be fitting into their defined roles nicely.  Adding a superstar scorer and a sub-par defender like Anthony will only make the Knicks’ strength stronger and their weaknesses weaker. 

My advice to Knicks’ fans would be to take a deep breath and instead of begging for Carmelo Anthony – go get someone like DeAndre Jordan of the LA Clippers.  First of all, he is a free agent at the end of the season (that is what the Internet told me). Second, he is young.  Third, he is the second most athletic big man in the league after Dwight Howard.  Fourth he will allow Amar’e (seriously what is being contracted that necessitates an apostrophe?) to move to his natural position of power forward and then the Knciks could shift Wilson Chandler or Danilo Gallinari to 6th man, thus guaranteeing either player a permanent spot in the top 3 voting for 6th man of the year.

He is the answer to the Knicks' needs.

More importantly the Knicks will have addressed their biggest needs (shot blocking, rebounding and interior defense) without compromising their biggest strength (team cohesion).  Carmelo may be great, but he is not great at what the Knicks need.  Take it from  a Jazz fan who during the apex of Malone-Stockton days could have used a defensive center to protect the basket (all due respect to Greg Ostertag, Felton Spencer, Ike Austin and every other tall man that has played center for the Jazz during their title runs) and could use one now to get over the dominance of Pau Gasol, a/k/a The Big Llama for the last few years (all due respect to Kyrylo Fesenko – who proves that confused looking, untalented, immense foreign centers don’t just exist in sports comedy films).  But Utah has never been a place that could attract a player of that caliber at that position.  But the Knicks can and should.  Even though I am not a Knick fan, it was easy to cheer for, or at least respect the Riley and Van Gundy Knicks.  Getting Carmelo Anthony would just make the Knicks the 2002-2008 New York Yankees – a team with high expectations and no heart.  Ask any Yankee fan who they’d rather have Paul O’Neill or Jason Giambi and I would tell you I see the same differences between Wilson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony.

I write this because I have a brother who still likes the Knicks after an awful decade and friends who still genuinely like the Knicks (I mean the ones who still posted angry comments last year and the year before, not the ones who sort of ignored the Knicks for 5 or 6 years andare now back with a vengeance) and they have an opportunity that Jazz fans don’t (this is going to be me and Jazz fans as Ben Affleck and Knick fans as Matt Damon at the end of Good Will Hunting).

"Sure, we're Utah andwe can be alright with 2ndround playoff appearances yeeah after yeeah, but yah New Yawk. You have ah mahket Utah can nevah dream of. So, if yah still heeya in twenty yeeahs tahkin' about how close Amahr'e gawt to a title and you neva went fah DeAndre Jahdan, I'll fackin' kill ya.

The Utah Jazz will win a title one day, hopefully before I’m dead, but it will take brilliant drafting and some white guy who probably has not been born yet to be comfortable in Utah (we already had a black superstar who was comfortable in Utah and he brought us close, but what are the odds we will find another hunting, country music loving, truck driving black basketball player again?).  The Knicks on the other hand have something that Utah does not – New York City.  But they have wasted it and now they are ready to waste it again by bringing in the player everyone wants, but not the player they need.  Like Bill Clinton, the Knick answer to “why did you bring in ‘Melo?” will be, “Because we could.”  Teams like Utah do not have that luxury, but the Knicks fans seem to be intent on falling for the star power again instead of doing what teams like the Jazz have done with success and that is trying to bring in the correct piece versus the “best” piece.  The Jazz may have a ceiling of 2nd round playoff team (barring another African-American hillbilly hall of famer), but the Knicks, withthe city behind them can build a winner if they do it the right way.

But will they build it the right way?  Will they be content to be good, hope that that is eventually going to be good enough and run the risk of never winning a title (the Utah Jazz method), or will they get scared, make the obvious move to keep everyone happy short term – like some sort of superstar ponzi scheme?  Because the right method could win you 47 games, but if it works it could get you 60 and a title.  The ‘Melo move guarantees you at least 55 wins, but almost definitely guarantees you a conference finals or semifinals loss every year.

And one last morsel of food for thought: What does it say that ‘Melo has been Randy Moss-ing parts of this season?  Is this a guy who is ready to lead a team in tough times and sacrifice or is he an extremely talented front runner (who also punches and runs during fights – have Knick fans forgotten that?) who will eventually let you down.  So as a Jazz fan I say, “if you’re still here in 20 games begging for Carmelo Anthony like all the other dumb fans, I’ll fu*king kill you” (insert Boston accent).  Instead, Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni should leave for LA as soon as the season is over, or before the trade deadline and just leave a note for their fans that says “We’ve gone to see about a center.”

Blog

Good Week vs Bad Week

Last week started out terribly with the sweeping of the Utah Jazz at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers.  If you missed it I tweeted incessantly, which just compounded my sadness (but I still feel I am less sad than the people who tweet about the weather, their meals, and other mundane things – namely a majority of people on Facebook and Twitter).  But that was just the beginning of the week.  I then had to cancel my show Always Be Funny that Thursday because we had 6 comics, 1 bartender and three people sitting at the bar, two of which were openly against the show and one who is a regular at the bar and is usually a decent audience member, except the time she heckled Jon Fisch.

This would not have been so bad if the show I was scheduled to be on earlier that evening was not also cancelled.

Comedy shows beware of J-L. Or call Atreyu if you have his cell number.

So feeling like The Nothing from The Neverending Story, as shows were destroyed in my path, I took Friday off from comedy to go to the Bronx DA’s Office for my former bureau’s annual Yankee Game party.  It was a good event, especially since A-Rod hit a Grand Slam to put the Yankees ahead in the game late (let’s look at the two live sporting events I have attended this year – the game of the year so far in the NBA in Utah and a clutch grand slam from A-Rod against the Twins – it is as if God is telling me that I should quit comedy and just go to sporting events professionally).

Well, it was time to get back to the grind of comedy on Saturday – I had a show at O’Hanlon’s on 14th and 1st, which I learned upon arriving, was… you guessed it – cancelled!  Fortunately I was able to observe 4 white guys threatening to beat up a black guy so that was entertaining.  The four white guys looked like they might have been firefighters – not the heroes that women want to have sex with of course. No, these guys looked more like the crew-cut, Irish, raised in effectively all-white neighborhoods, voting Republican their whole lives, racist type of civil servants.  Those guys, not the heroes.  Now I have to allow for the possibility that they weren’t, but they looked the part anyway.  The black guy was a black Israelite, who are known for their congeniality and open mindedness, but this guys was quadruple teamed and they were throwing his property in the middle of the street, hitting cars and cyclists while doing it.  So I did what any former DA would do – I called the police.  I offered a very detailed description, but I made two mistakes – one – i Said I did not see a weapon.  Two – I said it was four white males attacking a black man (I was not dumb enough to say he was a black Israelite).  I waited 20 minutes, which the four Klansmen did as well, but the police never showed up.

Perhaps if he had attacked, instead of being attacked there would have been a better response time.

A more effective call on my part might have been:

“Yes, I see four black men attacking a white woman!”

“Do they have weapons?”

“Yes, if you consider their large, angry black cocks weapons!  Hurry quick!”

I think the police would have been there quicker.

So that was the end of my bad week.  But with Sunday comes renewed optimism.

First I was shooting my new video.  The story is about black guy wants to date a daughter of a rabid Tea Party member and the agency that helps acclimate Tea Party members to ethnic boyfriends.  Of course, it started out poorly because one of the actors backed out at 10:07 am via text for an 11 am call time because he had to wait for furniture for his move with his girlfriend.  Sounds like a valid excuse, assuming people  move on 30 minutes notice and lack a nervous system.  So after setting a new volume record for how loudly I could yell fu*k, comedian Matt Maragno came to the rescue at the last minute and delivered laughs.  The shoot went well and it looked like the week was off to a great start.

My sketches are in good fun because obviously there is no racially-based anger within the Tea Party.

It got even better when I got an offer yesterday to open for Jo Koy in Cleveland starting this Thursday and running through Sunday.  That means big crowds and payment of money for my jokes.  Of course, without eating for the 4 days I will only net a little over $100 for my efforts. 

Tomorrow night I am making my tape for college submissions and I am confident that will go well.

So, in sum a bad week in my comedy life is witnessing a hate crime and going 3 for 3 in having shows get cancelled.  A good week, by contrast, is doing a YouTube video, netting $100 for half a week’s work and doing a bringer so I can one day entertain college kids, with diminishing social skills and emotional connections.  Like I have told friends – if you have a choice between your son or daughter being in gay snuff films or being a comedian, go with the snuff.

Sunday will be the start of a new week, but it begins with the season finale of Lost (a show that proves that like Dane Cook comedy, as long as you have a premise with no logical conclusion you can actually make millions, even if everything following the premise ranges between nonsense and stupidity) so I am not too confident in the prospects for a good week.

Like Dane Cook - I respect the effort put into the work, but not really the final product.
Blog

Requiem for the 2010 Utah Jazz

Being a Utah Jazz fan is starting to feel like being one of those monks that lit themselves on fire to protest Vietnam (isn’t that what’s on the cover of Rage Against The machine’s first album? – well one of those); it is a painful exercise that feels righteous.  The Jazz are on the eve of destruction – a possible sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers, an excellent (I won’t say great) team led by Kobe Bryant (Diet MJ) and Pau Gasol (the principle in the single biggest case of collusion I have ever seen in the NBA – as a recap The Lakers obtained Pau Gasol, a/k/a “The Big Llama” (my nickname) – a top 20 NBA player and one of the two most skilled low post scorers in the league – after Tim Duncan, from former Laker great Jerry West, then GM of the Memphis Grizzlies, who passed on basically getting every good player in the Chicago Bulls’ possession at the time, to accept, essentially, Kwame Brown’s expiring contract and Javaris Crittendon – now known as the Wyatt Earp to Gilbert Arenas’ Doc Holliday.).

But I digress.

This post is about the bittersweet joy of rooting for the Jazz.  The truth is the Jazz should lose to the LA Lakers.  The Lakers have the second best player on Earth right now, and terrific big men, which is the weakness for the Jazz defensively (with the exception of Michael Jordan it always has been).  The Jazz counter with one lottery pick on their roster, two other first rounders (one of which, Kosta Koufus, is  a project) and then a boatload of second round picks and NBDL refugees. 

But that is the greatness of the Utah Jazz franchise.  People snicker and try to insult the Jazz franchise by making derogatory comments about Mormonism or the politics of the state of Utah, but to me there is no more inspiring and “only in America” embodying franchise in sports than the Utah Jazz.

Their legends are Karl Malone and John Stockton, two somewhat overlooked players when they entered the league, became Hall of Famers through sheer work ethic and basketball intelligence (and large hands in Stockton’s case and broad shoulders in Malone’s case).  The almost never missed games, they played hard and they excelled at the game.  The fact that they never won a championship is very bittersweet, but unlike other franchises, they never really gave Jazz fans reason to lose interest.  They provided great basketball and great effort for almost two decades. 

Go to work, give the fans their money's worth. Repeat for 18 years.

After Stockton and Malone’s departures for retirement the Jazz endured a short dark period.  In fact the most remarkable season as a Jazz fan for me may have been when the Jazz missed the playoffs by a game or two with a record of 42-40 in the 2003-04 season with a starting lineup of… brace yourself…

Andrei Kirlienko

Carlos Arroyo

Greg Ostertag

Matt Harpring

DeShawn Stevenson

And the player with the next highest number of starts was Jarron Collins

In other words, in what should have been the dark days for the Utah Jazz with a starting lineup of one versatile, non-scoring all star (Kirilenko), a solid 6th man type player (Harpring), a serviceable point guard (Arroyo), an underachieving soon-to-be journeyman (Stephenson) and two big men who had no business in the NBA (especially the atrocious Collins) the Jazz still delivered a season that came down to the last game of the season.  And in traditional Jazz style, it ended with a loss.

But the dark times gave the rare opportunity to the Jazz for a franchise-changing pick, with which they took Deron Williams, who has blossomed into the best point guard in the NBA (which I have been mocked for claiming for the last 3 years because I thought unlike most point guards he was both a playmaker and a system manager and thus I found the completeness of his game, not necessarily his stats, made him the best).  Along with him came the rare free agent coup for the Jazz in Carlos Boozer (though like any omen in good fiction, the fact that Boozer screwed over the blind former owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers has come back to bite them in Greek tragedy form since Boozer is exceptional against every team in the league except the one team that prevents them from chasing a championship – the Lakers).

Well now the Jazz have found themselves down 3-0 to the defending champion Lakers, but no one will confuse this with an Atlanta Hawks/Orlando Magic 3-0 series.  The Jazz have played tough, made adjustments and had late game leads in two of the three games. Unlike previous seasons, at least one of these games should have been a blowout.  And watching guys like Paul Millsap and Wesley Matthews, the former a second round pick, the latter an undrafted rookie, play so balls out tough that it almost feels like it really is “how they play the game” that makes it a joy to watch. 

The bottom line is the Jazz will not win this series with the Lakers. If they get swept then it will be the most competitivve sweep in NBA history.  But I will have no problem tuning in to watch the Jazz next year because as a basketball fan I love the way the Jazz play.  Throughout my life I have had people tell me that the Jazz are “boring.” Those have to be people who enjoy the dunks and the flash of the NBA, but do not love the sport of basketball.  To watch the Jazz play the game is like watching a hoops symphony.  The execution, the timing, the effort and the way players who play for the Jazz accept roles and work hard at them are all beautiful to watch.  And the architect of all this is Coach Jerry Sloan.

It has taken time for me to realize this, but more than Malone, Stockton or Williams I beleive Coach Jerry Sloan is the MVP of the Jazz.

In 1998 when the Jazz lost their second consecutive finals to the Chicago Bulls I was crushed.  The guy who made me feel better was Jerry Sloan.  When he came to the press conference after Michael Jordan’s game winning shot he had such a matter of fact, “we’ll be back next year and don’t expect me to cry over this” attitude that I figured if Sloan could bounce back, I surely could.  And watching the Jazz play for Sloan’s tenure (over two decades – the most tenured coach in pro sports) has been a pleasure.  He takes players with high effort and high basketball intelligence and toughness and makes them good NBA players.  Watching Williams or Boozer blossom is not as big a thrill as seeing guys like Millsap. Matthews, Ronnie Price and Kyle Korver reach their max with Utah.  The Utah Jazz is the ultimate American meritocracy – if you can play the game and you work hard, you can have a successful career for Jerry Sloan and be appreciated by the fans.

But Jerry Sloan has not won a Coach of the Year (seriously 2003-04 should have been his) and the Jazz have not won a title.  Therefore the franchise and its players do not get the respect they deserve.  And every year I get to hear from my friends who either shift loyalties from week to week or, in the case of Knick fans, sit quietly waiting for their team to purchase big name talent (looks like their wait is finally over this Summer). 

I obviously want the Jazz to win a title, but the truth is they have made my life as a fan really enjoyable.  They always put a good product, not just in talent, but in work ethic and execution out on the court.  I am honestly scared of the day Jerry Sloan decides to retire because I think that he may be the most valuable player of all to the Utah Jazz.  His system and his culture may be a bigger imprint on the Jazz franchise than any one player they’ve ever had.  A championship would be great, in fact it is part of my top two things I would like to see (along with a Guns N Roses reunion) in popular culture, but the kind of sustained excellence of the Utah Jazz, and the character in which they achieved such sustained quality may be even rarer than a championship.

But since I still want them to win a title and I don’t want to end this on too sentimental or gushy a moment – here are some things the Jazz must do.

1) Get a bona fide 6’10″+ center who can be a shot blocking and defensive force.  Cole Aldridge may be the only player in the draft who may be able do this (and he may be right around where the Jazz draft).  I’d avoid Greg Monroe if I’m the Jazz because his passing skills make him an enticing big man for the Jazz, but he will not be a defensive force and the beating his Georgetown team took from Ohio U makes me think he won’t help bring additional winning intensity to the Jazz.  As far as free agents Brendan Haywood is a free agent this season and I think the Jazz would be wise to see if he is the kind of character that could thrive in Utah.  However, if the Jazz have a chance at Evan Turner then you take him.  That is the only way I change this approach.

2) Try to keep Boozer, but not too hard.  The bad news – if we lose Boozer, Millsap fills in fine, but we lose Millsap off the bench so overall win total will be down 5-6.  The good news is that if that money goes to decent center play then we have a better chance against the Lakers.  Pick your poison – slightly worse against the rest of the league or better against the Lakers. 

3) Re-sign Wesley Matthews and Kyle Korver.  Hard working people and the women of Utah will not forgive you otherwise.

4) Play as well and as hard as in 2009-10 and good hings will probably happen.  Until you lose.  Then look forward to 2011-12.  You know the drill.

I never get tired of being disappointed by the Jazz.
Blog

Updates – My Book, the Utah Jazz & Miami

1) 25,000 words into my book, which makes it the equivalent of one-third of a New Yorker article.  It is coming along nicely and I think I will reach my preliminary writing goal of having a first draft done by the end of the Summer.  The scorched earth sections of the book have not been written yet, but rest assured they will be in there.  I must say though, reliving deeply personal moments both in life and comedy is a pretty interesting experience.  Just remind me not to pop pills with any Olsen twins until it’s finished.

4 months left on my self-imposed book deadline. Here is an artist's rendering of what I will look like on September 1st.

2) The Utah Jazz are in the Western Conference Semi-Finals.  I do not think they will win simply because the Lakers resemble a team of kids that has all the tall kids and no matter how good the little kids are they cannot compete with the height issue.  So my strategy is simple for the Jazz. In the first quarter of tomorrow’s game 1, when Kobe Bryant, or better yet, Ron Artest goes in for a layup – lay them out.  Playing basketball against Ron Artest, which I did once at a Summer camp when I was a high school senior, is a lot like prison – you find the baddest guy and you stab him in the throat.  Assuming there are no shanks on the Jazz bench I recommend getting someone either desperate enough or crazy enough to attack Artest and you lay him out.  The message is, we don’t fear you.  Real message – you should be scared playing basketball against us.  If he was not so old I could see Coach Jerry Sloan doing it himself.  I would like to see the Jazz win obviously, but the Lakers height is such a bad match-up.

Artest and Kobe - I'll show you who's tough!

And people who like the Lakers generally suck.  Celebrities, fans of glitz and fair-weather chumps are the main form of Laker support.  Anyone else in their fan base?

And the Pau Gasol trade is still the biggest theft/sweetheart arrangement in NBA history.  Shame on you NBA.

3) Going to Miami for a week on Monday.  I will try to write from there, but I will probably be too busy placing sunglasses on right before someone plays We Won’t Get Fooled Again.

Looks like J-L won't be doing any mics for a week... YEEEEEEAAAAAAAH!