The Afternoon After: Story of a hurricane

The past couple years, I’ve done a weekly post with some NFL thoughts and observations, mostly about the experience of watching such an Americana-driven sport. However, I’m not really a football guy, and I’ve found that I often simply don’t have a whole lot to say about the sport itself, especially on weeks when I don’t get to watch many games. As such, I’d still like to give this a go this year, but I’m going to expand it to whatever’s on my mind. Expect it anywhere between Monday and Wednesday.

The war room

Before the hurricane hit the New York area on Saturday, I hauled out to Long Island on Friday night for the annual draft of my main fantasy football league. It’s pretty hardcore: 14 teams, an archaic and esoteric scoring system, two keepers, and it started 16 years ago when the majority of the league owners were in high school together. (I’ve participated for 10.)

I probably would have driven through the hurricane itself to get there since for the first time since I joined my co-owner in the league, we won the whole thing, resulting in an $1,100 payday. We were powered by a well-balanced team and the shrewd first-week waiver-wire pickup of Michael Vick, which I commemorated by wearing his jersey to the draft, to the chagrin of everyone.

The draft itself is a can’t-miss event, held as always at the Commissioner’s parents’ home. Mr. and Mrs. Jeziorski are extremely gracious hosts, happy to have the gang back together once a year. They serve up plates of finger food such as little pizza bagels and egg rolls, and proceed to the main course of cheeseburgers and the best baked ziti in fantasy football history. I’m not a huge fan of baked ziti, but once a year, I look forward to having a little of theirs.

The draft itself is pretty standard. The commish marks off picks as they happen on the big board set up at the end of the long dining room table, as guys heckle each other about their choices, among other things. In between picks and snacks, we catch up on what’s happened in the past year since we’ve all seen each other – who’s gotten engaged, had kids, found a new job, whatever.

At the end of the night, we cagily ask each other how their draft went, and agree to meet up sometime in the next few months to watch games.

And yet, though we used to follow through on that, it never seems to happen anymore. As we all get older, our lives simply get too consumed with necessary pursuits – laundry, groceries, spending time with significant others – to make time for such specific plans. This could be the year that changes, but I’m not counting on it.

Four touchdowns for Ingram: classic

That’s why the draft is such an anticipated event. For one day, we’re all pretty much guaranteed to drop everything and be in one place at the same time. Though things have obviously changed in all of our lives since I first started showing up at this draft when I was 22, after we sift through who’s getting married and such, it’s all about mozzarella sticks and light-hearted mocking of the guy who takes someone who retired earlier that afternoon. Online drafts can have their charm, but not nearly as much.

I wouldn’t call what we do once a year going back in time, per se. Rather, while we all make progress, for one day, time stands still exactly where it did last year, and probably where it will next year. God willing, 10 years from now, we’ll all still be able to say that.

And if Mark Ingram is anything like the first Mark Ingram, I’ll be back next year for another payoff.

*****

I was marooned in my apartment Saturday night, but since I maintained power, I was able to watch the first episode of Mayweather-Ortiz 24/7. HBO’s savvy promotional series is never quite as good as when Floyd Mayweather is involved, and it was good to have him back.

Courtesy of BoxingAsylum.com

I thought Floyd was oddly subdued when I saw him at the press conference for the fight back in June, but he deadpanned that he’d ramp it up for 24/7 as usual. He of course did just that, though at times it seemed a bit forced, like he was trying to remember what his persona was the last time they brought the cameras through. It helped his cause having 50 Cent around to eat crackers (?) with him.

Still, though Ortiz has an inspiring story, you really tune in to see Mayweather go off on reckless tangents. Anything involving Floyd was compelling television, particularly his argument with his father, which became quite heated and personal. Was it staged? It’s impossible to say, though Floyd does have a tendency to smirk at the camera in mid-platitude. I’d suggest like most of what Floyd does in this vein, he impulsively decided it’d be a good idea to get his father all riled up for the sake of television, then it just went too far.

Regardless, it’s a really great watch as always. And given my doubts that Ortiz can legitimately threaten Mayweather, 24/7 has a good chance to produce more memorable moments than the fight itself.

*****

Great scene, but language definitely NSFW.

I rarely bring myself to relax enough to sit through a full movie, but waiting for the hurricane to fully dissipate, my fiancée and I rewatched 25th Hour on Sunday. It was as good as I remembered it, if a bit wrenching. I’ve never seen a movie Ed Norton was in that wasn’t good, or Rosario Dawson, for that matter. I like Spike Lee’s films, and this is one of his better ones, serving as an excellent representation of post-9/11 New York.

Next up: He Got Game.


*****

And of course there was the hurricane itself, which didn’t end up packing nearly the punch it was expected to in this area, and yet still made a major impact. I knew people in Bloomberg’s vaunted evacuation zones who headed for the proverbial higher ground – though they live on the 18th floor — and since they escaped to Philadelphia, they were probably safer with the hurricane. (I kid!)

My town in Northern New Jersey got off relatively easy. It rained pretty hard and there were some daunting winds, but I didn’t see much more than small branches on the streets and I didn’t lose my power. I did hear constant sirens, and part of Route 17 was completely underwater and remained shut down most of Monday.

The hurricane meant it was time to “batten down the hatches” – possibly the first time I’ve ever used that expression – so I spent the majority of the past few days inside, watching CNN cover Irene like it was the apocalypse. I think my favorite part was New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s typically terse and hilarious press conference; I was riveted by his “Chris Christie, Governor” fleece – despite the fact that it was 75 degrees out, and despite the fact that everyone knows who he is. (Here’s where you can get your own Chris Christie swag.)

I’ve seen a lot of people joking about how weak the hurricane ended up being given the frantic buildup for it, almost seeming disappointed they didn’t experience more than what they did. But you won’t find me making jokes about the hurricane, not considering some of the pictures I’ve seen of the devastation it wreaked elsewhere. I’d say chalk it up to good luck, hope not to have to press that luck for a long time, and leave it at that.

Esoteric

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