Joseph Kony, a warlord in Uganda, is leader of a guerrilla army called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA is a rebel militant group that commits atrocities against civilians including murder, mutilations, rape and even cannibalism. They have kidnapped and forced an estimated 66,000 children to fight for them. Kony has been indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Although he is one of the most wanted criminals in the world, to this point he has evaded capture and has been seemingly uninhibited in causing terror and harm in his region.
Until this week, most people around the world did not know about Joseph Kony.
That all changed when Invisible Children, a non-profit group based in San Diego, released a 29-minute Youtube video called “ Kony 2012”. They enlisted A-list celebrities (Oprah, Zuckerburg, George Clooney, etc.) and policy makers to promote the campaign through social media. They launched a compelling and engaging website, Kony2012.com. In just a few days the video has been viewed over 40 million times. The hashtag #stopkony has been trending on twitter all week long. The strategy is to make Kony famous in 2012 thereby shining a light on all of these atrocities and inciting, willing, international action against him.
I knew very little about Kony until I received an email from my friend Rachel that I had to watch the video and blog about it. It was her way to get me to push the message along (which, by you reading this, I am doing). I have read about children soldiers in both What is the What by David Eggers and A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah. Both stories are jolting. Like the film, it makes me question humanity. How are evils this horrifying allowed to occur in our world? Both books influenced my view of the world and the future of Africa.
The way Invisible Children has leveraged the power of social media to get their message out is absolutely brilliant. On their website it says that Invisible Children uses film, creativity and social action. While the cause is noble, the video well produced, it is the distribution that is truly staggering. Every single marketer in the world is drooling from this campaign.
This is the society as we live in it today. It is not a book, newspaper article or television segment that elicits emotion, action or produces change. It is the internet.
But this is not as simple as it appears. While Invisible Children seems like a noble cause there has also been tremendous controversy around the organization and the film. Some argue the film oversimplifies a complex issue. Personally, as I watched the film I thought it was heavy on fluff and light on facts and wondered how closely it depicts reality. As I’ve dug a few google searches deeper there is great debate about Uganda as well as Kony’s current role and his influence. Most of Northern Uganda is now free of any threat from the LRA. There is is also criticism out there over Invisible Children’s finances and that is has never been externally audited. The film is activism, not journalism. Is there a difference anymore?
In college I built a website for the local liquor store slash laundrymat and then launched littyhoops.com. It was such a powerful feeling. I am still amazed every time you read this blog. My voice is being heard by you. What is even more amazing is that it is also accessible to anyone in the world. I’ve always been fascinated by the power of the internet and the rate at which it advances. I still am. I’ve made it my livelihood. I’ve always argued that the digital world is neither good or bad for society. It’s just the way the world is now and will be in the future. The sooner you accept the reality the more effective you will be in life. It is uncomfortable. I sometimes run into people that are facebook holdouts and have yet to create their profile. My overwhelming reaction is that I lament that they don’t realize the world is passing them by.
I tip my hat to Invisible Children for figuring this out. As the narrator in the film and Invisible Children founder Jason Russell articulates, “the game has new rules”. He is right. It most certainly does.
Despite formal classroom training, Dora the Explorer and Telemundo Futbol, I’m severely deficient in my ability to effectively communicate in Spanish. Yet my gastronomic penchant for Mexican cuisine continues to be more sophisticated. Luckily, I do not reside in Mexico or I would most certainly be gordo estupido. But I do live on 12th street, which is fast becoming the Mexican food barrio within New York City.
Before I break it all down for you let me give you a quick history of east coast Mexican food in my lifetime. In the 80’s and 90’s there was Taco Bell. Ask a New Yorker about Mexican food and they would naturally think of this marvelously cheap and tasty fast food joint with the trademark fadobe (fake adobe) clay roof. Taco Bell was actually considered luxurious compared to the typical neighborhood Mexican food joint. The duel risk of being mugged in the bathroom or, worse yet, you mugging the toilet made the experience muy peligroso. Around the turn of the century, the amazing marketers at McDonald’s reinvented Mexican food through the Chipotle restaurant chain as clean, healthy, natural, doughy, tasteless burrito stations. People went loco and loved it.
During this time a young and untested Littyhoops was looking to find himself en el mundo and was drawn to the cool ocean breezes of the San Diego shoreline. San Diego so happens to have the best Mexican food in all the world and Senor Littyhoops quickly became a taco connoisseur. NYC might be the foodie capital of the world, but when it comes to Mexican it falls a bit short. Southern California long ago mastered the fish taco, burrito stand, california burrito (with fries!), and adding guacamole to anything and everything.
When I moved to the village a few years ago I was pleasantly surprised to be living across the street from a great Mexican joint in Mexicana Mama. Last year a delicious burrito takeout place called Dos Toros opened a few blocks away. Suddenly, in the last month two more Mexican restaurants have set up shop. Tortoria is on the corner of 12th and University and Dorado is right around the corner.
Without further ado the first ever 12th Street Littyhoops Mexican Food Rankings
#1 – Dorado
Kudos to Dorado for putting Baja style fish tacos front and center on their menu. No other Mexican spot in NYC has the guts to go for it. They are delicious! Both the fried and grilled fish tacos are winners. Quesadillas are also muy bueno. Salsa and guacamole hit the spot also. You can grab a table or quickly take out. Either way, get delicious cheap Mexican in a few minutes and send your taste buds straight to Ensenada.
#2 – Dos Toros
This is what Chipotle should taste like if Chipotle food matched it’s marketing. Fresh and tasty, it’s a fitting burrito for a real man or a gordo estupido! NY Times gives it some love in this food review.
#3 – Mexicana Mama
A bit more upscale Mexicana Mama is more of a sit down restaurant. Great salsa’s, good soups and they also do a nice job with fish tacos.
#4 – Tortaria
Can’t yet figure out if this place is gimmicky or legit. Have tried it twice and still haven’t made up my mind. The restaurant features torta sandwiches and a little dude making non-stop guacamole.
#5 – (Last Place) Qdoba
This is actually on the corner of 13th and University. Never go there.
Epilogue #1 – If you happen to find yourself in Pacific Beach my favorite Mexican restaurants are Fred’s, Taco Surf and Gringos. I also seem to go to South Beach in Ocean Beach with Jen and/or Marni every time I go back to visit. Wait, did everyone get that? No not the food recommendation. The fact that Marni and Jen made the cut and are starring in this blog post! Please congratulate them!
Taco Surf on PB Drive
Epilogue #2 – Would love to hear your favorite Mexican spots in NYC. Some of the other restaurants I like are Baby Bo’s Cantina, Canyon Road, Diablo Royale, El Chozo, Fonda Nolita. Been meaning to hit up Mole but generally I try to steer clear of the classy Mexican joints like Dos Caminos, Rosa Mexicana and La Esquina.
Epilgoue #3 – I went to Wahoo’s for dinner last week. Yes, you Left Coasters read that right. The first Wahoo’s on the east coast opened up in NYC and I pass it on my way home from work. Had to try it. They made it all fancy with a cool bar but it’s still just Wahoo’s (a second rate fast food fish taco spot). Just not that appetizing.
Like you and everyone else in NYC, I am in love with Jeremy Lin. Sometimes love can be baffling. By baffling I mean how the f**k is this happening?
By now you should know just about everything about Jeremy Lin. If not, please go find some other mediocre gonzo blog to read.
I was at a sold out MSG a few weeks ago to see the Knicks play the Bulls. It was a thrilling game in which Derrick Rose was absolutely sensational. Melo missed a three at the buzzer that would have sent the game into overtime. It felt as though the Knicks season was slipping away. In hindsight/enlightenment my most memorable moment came at halftime shoot around. I happened to zone in on Jeremy Lin as he missed about a dozen three pointers in a row. I’ve been following Lin since he played in college (I am Littyhoops after all) because of his unique background. But I turned to my buddy Kosh (we paid for our tix this time) and told him that evidently Lin actually sucks balls. At that time, he had never been anything but a decent college player who was lucky to be a 12th man in the NBA. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one noticing how many shots he had missed during warm-ups as the Knicks were reportedly on the verge of releasing him. Thank god they didn’t.
Since then, Jeremy Lin has rejuvenated his team, invigorated a city, exhilarated the Orient and captured the attention of the world. His jersey sales are hotter than than this week’s SI Swimsuit issue. He’s basically starring in his own Disney movie. The movie where the kid meets a genie and all of his wildest dreams come true. It’s called Kazaam, duh!
We’re all trying to comprehend how Lin can go from ultimate nerdy bench warmer to the best point guard in the NBA. I have yet to hear one explanation that makes sense (kind of Like LOST season 4). Coach Mike D’Antoni is just as amazed as we are and remarks “I have never seen this. It’s not often that a guy is going to play four games, the best you are going to see, and nobody knows who he is”. There is an argument that there’s never been a smart Asian dude in the NBA so there was nobody to compare him too. That’s BS. Another point guard sensation, Ricky Rubio, can’t really be compared to anyone but a Catalonian Ringo Star and he was one of the top prospects in the world.
I’ve spent most of my free time thinking about Jeremy Lin over the past week. Instead of coming up with plausible answers, I do what we all are doing and take the easy way out by just adding the letter “L” to any word that starts with an “I”, has its second letter as an “I” or rhymes with Lin. Might as well be called “LIN with Friends”. The one that is stuck in my head is Lindemonium or that my moms name, LINda, is now so much cooler.
It’s fascinating to watch Lin get interviewed. He readily admits he has no idea how this is happening. He confesses that he is living his dream. He is humble about his success yet confident in his ability to play basketball (he’s been doing it all his life). He dutifully answers the questions about couch surfing. He thanks god often. It’s almost like he’s one of us (his linsane fans) giddily watching himself turn into an overnight superstar.
By the way I, for one, have no problem with athletes thanking god. I’m not sure how we turned into a society that mocks an individual for turning to the heavens to help understand the unexplainable. If you’re being interviewed on television for accomplishing something amazing there’s a good chance that there’s more to it than hard work. “Hard Work” is what get’s an illegal immigrant a steady yard job or an over-achieving rich kid from Great Neck into an Ivy League school — unless he outsources his SAT’s of course. One of my favorite journalists Joel Stein recently wrote about the relationship between super bowl teams and prayer. Stein, the wittiest of satirists, get serious in his article and concludes that “when players thank God at the end of a game, they’re not saying God liked their team better. They’re actually being modest, saying they realize how small a part they played and expressing gratitude–just as they would for a meal, their health or a Friday.”
Anyway, back to Lin. I’d just like to thank the lord and savior for bringing him to the Knicks.
Will it last? My guess is that it won’t in this form. Part of the reason Lin’s star shined so bright was because the Knicks two legitimate offensive players were both out of commission. Somebody needed to shoot the ball and Lin conveniently had the hot hand and ran with the baton. I don’t think he gets his 20 shots per game. If you watched him miss most of his shots in the second half against the T-Wolves you might be able to envision how he might not be the second coming.
Every team in the NBA has a few players that are so naturally talented, that if they are the focal point of the team, and can get their 20 shots per game, they would score. My associate Mike James likes to share that he’s the only undrafted player in the NBA to ever average 20 points per game in a season. James got an opportunity in Toronto to be the go-to-guy after Chris Bosh got hurt for the season. Mike has such great confidence in himself that he was able to be the man and stepped right into the starring role. I wonder how many professional athletes could be stars but never are? What separates those that make it from those that don’t? Is the “star” just a role just like utility guy, defensive specialist and pinch hitter?
I watched the Knick game at the bar on Saturday night with a bunch of fans that were also being raped by Time Warner. Part cable support group, part fan club we hooted and hollered as the Knicks came from behind to beat the T-Wolves. We were all on the same team rooting together like old friends. It’s a feeling you don’t get in NYC that often. I then met a girl later that night and somehow Lin came up (who wasn’t talking about him this weekend). She wasn’t a sports fan but said “isn’t it great how he brings the whole city together”. “Yes”, I said to the unnamed girl to be mentioned in my blog who I will never see again, “it is great!”
The moral of the story here is that Jeremy Lin once again reminds me why I love sports. It’s the best reality television in the entire world. It’s way better than the Kardashians if the Kardashians were real.
My favorite Lin tidbit to be uncovered this week is the discovery of a Xanga blog post that Lin published when he was 15. Lin basically imitates how different NBA players wear their headbands including Josh Howard’s “jewish style”. Here’s the post.
Tonight marks my 22nd seasons as a St. John’s fan. I fell hard for the team as an 8-year-old kid in 1989. That season the Johnnies point guard Greg “Boo” Harvey hit a bunch of game-winning last second shots. Jayson Williams and Malik Sealy were the other stars on the team. My local newspaper, Newsday, gave the Johnnies a ton of love (this was still in the glow of the Final Four years). I was already captivated by the Newsday sports section so if they were reporting on the Johnnies I was reading. When I learned the college was less than ten minutes away from our house I was hooked. It would take a few years to convince my Dad to take me to a game. We went to the Garden to watch St. John’s face Indiana in 1991. Sealy, by then an All-American in his senior year, was outplayed by Calbert Cheney and the Johnnies fell to Bobby Knight’s Hoosiers. A few years later my 6th grade English teacher learned I was a Johnnies fan (I wore St. John’s gear to school every day) and started giving me her tickets (first row behind the bench at Alumni Hall), which would then become our season tickets.
Back to the present.
St. John’s opens up its season tonight when they host William & Mary at Carnessecca Arena in Queens. The team is ridiculously young and inexperienced so I’m curious to get a feel for what it will be like to root for them this year. I checked out an exhibition game last week and it wasn’t pretty. The Johnnies couldn’t shoot straight and were especially pitiful from the foul line. They were losing for a large part of the second half and seem rattled until their athleticism helped them pull away in the last few minutes of the game.
They do have loads of talent. I’m especially excited by Nurideen Lindsay (scoring point guard who can get to the basket) and Mo Harkless (queens native with smooths style). With a brutal schedule and only seven scholarship players, six of those being first-year players, everything will need to fall perfectly into place for the Johnnies to have decent success. I keep trying to tell myself that I’m going to need to be patient with this team. But deep down I’m already fantasizing about them knocking off Arizona to win the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament and then shocking Kentucky at Rupp Arena on December 1.
For better or worse, I’ve been thinking about how being a “die-hard” St. John’s fan impacts my life. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel real and this is just an escape from the grind of life. I’m a fan. But I also know my excitement level to attend/watch games, time I spend thinking about the team and highs/lows throughout the season will be a big part of the next six months of my life. I imagine most passionate sports fans feel the same way about their team. Very rarely do we step back and reflect on why all of this is so important to us. Maybe there’s no point to doing that. It just is, right?
I have two season tickets for all of the games in Queens and at MSG this season. One of my buddies is taking most of the MSG games and I can usually twist my Dad’s arm into meeting me in Queens. But there are still a bunch of games where I need a wing man. My offer is that if you show up and root for the Johnnies then I’ll cover everything (tickets, zipcar, beers and jersey’s — you get to pick between a Hatten, Omar Cook or Mullin throwback). Let me know if you’re interested in jumping on the bandwagon. There is always room.
Here’s the home schedule
11/9 – Wed – Lehigh (Queens)
11/13 – Sun – UM-Baltimre County (Queens)
11/17 – Th – Arizona (MSG)
11/18 – Fri – Texas AM or Miss St. (MSG)
11/22 – Tu — St Francis (Queens)
11/26 – Sat – Northeastern (Queens)
12/17 – Sat – Fordham (MSG)
12/21 – Wed – Texas Pan American (Queens)
12/27 – Tuesday – Providence (Queens)
1/3 – Tu – Louisville (MSG)
1/15 – Sun – Georgetown (MSG)
1/21 – Sat – Villanova (MSG)
1/25 – Wed – West Virginia (MSG)
2/4 – Sat – Syracuse (MSG)
2/8 – Wed – Cincinnati (MSG)
2/18 – Sat – UCLA (MSG)
2/20 – Mon – Depaul (Queens)
2/25 – Sat – Notre Dame (MSG)
– Related Post: I wrote a blog post in 2008 with the same headline except it was for Season 19.
A few months back I made an executive culinary decision to invest in a Zoku Quick Pop Maker. This marvelous technological device freezes popsicles in just seven to nine minutes. It’s positively scientific to watch a liquid concoction instantly freeze before thy own very eyes.
Not one to lick my own popsicle, I’m somewhat known to be both daring and risqué when it comes to desserts. So I embarked on an epicurean adventure to create the next great popsicle and avenge my nemesis’s creation of the Big Sexy Pop (now sold at the Iowa State Fair).
I started off using simple ingredients like coconut water, Gatorade, coffee and grape juice. I struck out on the whipped cream pop. My pudding pop was respectable but unremarkable. The PB&J freeze failed to congeal properly. I’m not going to mention my avocado and salsa chilled samba.
The need to create the perfect popsicle became my one obsession. I thought about it day and night. Then I went to sleep and I dreamed about it. I even thought about popsicles as I rewatched the Johnnies exhibition game against CW Post on the internet.
I envisioned form. I contemplated texture. I learned how to mentally convert temperatures from Fahrenheit to Celsius to get a better grasp of how foreign objects freeze.
Then one fortuitous evening, as I was baking kale chips and watching PTI on dvr, it came to me. The Popsicle needs to be about more than just taste. It should be functional. It must be fun. The popsicle of tomorrow would have a physical, mental and emotional impact. It should change the world!
Naturally, I based my popsicle on the one ingredient that has had the most profound effect on my personality, relationships and social life. That would be 5 Hour Energy. If at any point in the last six months you’ve seen me and thought to yourself “boy, that Litty seems quite charming, energetic and lively” it was because I was under the influence of 5 Hour E. It’s just the right mix of B12, Folic Acid and Caffeine and Taurine to lift me out my mopey haze and allow me to absolutely kill it!
The only issue I have with 5 Hour E is that sometimes I’m so enhanced that I want to ensure peak performance while never experiencing the effects of time (300 minutes is always ticking away) or aging. Plus, while I’m projecting greatness out to the external world I also need to allow my internal systems to neutralize free radicals. It’s essential I get my daily dose of antioxidants like anthocyanins and falvonoids.
Enter the Acai berry. The superfood cultivated in the Amazon is an antioxidant powerhouse with fascinating nutritional benefits. It’s not only supports native jungle tribes but it also generates millions in multi-level marketing scams!
When combined and frozen, the 5 Hour Acai-E popsicle has awesome mystical powers. It also tastes great and is fun to eat!
You might ask why does this potion need to be frozen and molded into a pop. I might answer why does water need to be frozen and shaped into a cube.
I think back to everything I’ve ever accomplished in life and try to imagine how much better it would have been if I had first consumed a 5 Hour Acai-E popsicle. Imagine watching the Johnnies go up by 25 at halftime against Duke at MSG on a 5HA-E pop! The only way I can actually imagine it is if I indulge in said popsicle!
Last weekend I went to Bloomingdale’s and bought a sports jacket. If I had first consumed a 5 Hour Acai-E Popsicle I would have sewed one myself!
This is just one example. You try it.
The other day I went —— and did ——. If I first snacked on a 5HA-E it would have been even more amazing!
I bet you didn’t know that the drugs in the movie Limitless are based on an 5 Hour Acai-E pop. David Freese enjoyed a 5 Hour Acai-E in the dugout after he dropped the flyball in Game 6. Yup, this pop gives a whole new meaning to juicing! Herman Cain was licking on a pop when he thought up his 9-9-9 tax plan! When Super Mario gets the star and becomes invincible he’s really just inhaling 5HA-E (albeit in gaseous form).
Suck on a 5 hour Acai-E pop and you’ll be soul cycling your way through your entire day!
4 oz. Sambazon Acai with Blueberry and Pomegranate Superfood juice blend
1.93 oz. 5-Hour Energy (berry flavored)
1) Freeze your Zoku Pop Maker for 24 Hours
2) Pour 1 oz. of the 5-Hour Energy into the Zoku molds.
3) Wait 120 seconds
4) Add the Sambazon Acai juice
5) Let freeze for 314 seconds
6) Use the “Super Tool” to easily remove the pop
It’s that simple. A few easy steps and you to can be the best you that you can ever be!
I’ve mentioned a few times in this blog that I’m not a big fan of the present day news media. They have an uncanny ability to make a mockery out of just about anything. True to form, the media has been all over the place in their coverage of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. Despite the incessant reporting, I still had no clue what was actually going down. So on Saturday I took a stroll down to Zuccotti Park to see for myself what this is all about.
I wasn’t planning to blog about my visit but in conversations over the weekend people seem pretty interested to hear about it. I appreciate getting thoughts and views from people I know on current events and issues so I figured I would do the same for you.
I’ll keep this simple and share my “notes”.
Zuccotti Park is awfully small and is more of a plaza than a park. It’s tucked in between a bunch of large buildings. It isn’t the most spacious area to start a mini cooperative community. Everything is densely packed together. If you’ve never been to the park it is probably much smaller that what you’ve imagined or have seen on television.
The park is in the shadow of Ground Zero, which is one block to the west. It is an eerie juxtaposition as Ground Zero always stirs up emotions in me every time I walk by.
On Saturday there was lots of activity along the perimeter of the park. There were barricades, cops, protesters and people flowing by to check out the action. It’s a bit intimidating to actually go into the park. I felt like an outsider to their little society and that I might even somehow be the enemy. Everything in the park is covered in blue tarps and tightly packed together.
The Occupy Wall Street operation has significant organization and funding. The occupiers were handing out an oversized newspaper flyer called The Occupied Wall Street Journal. There were lines for food stations, a first aid tent, and a people’s library. The occupiers have formed “working groups” for food, medical, facilitation, graphic design, donation and outreach. At the front of each tent was often some kind of table or setup with some type of message/protest.
It felt like the fact that the occupiers had formed their own society (and seeing how long they can keep it going) is actually their goal. They view Zucotti Park as a beacon of hope/protest/voice for the entire repressed world.
The main protests/messages are around anti-war messages, environmentalism, wall street greed and government corruption. It seemed like each person had his or her own personal issue or hot topic that they were protesting.
It doesn’t seem like there needs to be a specific list of demands or more organization around messaging. This is not a political protest as much as a societal protest.
Some of the protesters are jarring in their radical beliefs. I wasn’t up to try to engage in conversation, as it seems like they are in such a different place it would be awfully hard to relate.
I’ll classify the people who were out there as counter culture. Lots of tattoos, piercings and unique styles. I could see how a less thoughtful observer might classify it as a “freakshow”. Much of the 99% of America might be shocked or uncomfortable with some of the occupiers.
The “we are the 99%” slogan is misleading. The occupiers in Zucotti Park seems to be the small percentage who refuse to conform to society norms or mainstream public opinion. There protests also seemed far more radical than the desires of 99% of Americans.
There’s an amazing energy to civil action. Everybody there seemed pretty proud and certain that they are doing something meaningful. They seem to have a spirit and determination to keep this going as long as possible. There may also be some people that are just there for the experience. It did have a bit of a Burning Man type feel.
It does seem like the demonstrations are reverberating throughout the nation and the world. Interesting to witness the epicenter of it.
The thing that really got me thinking is that it seems like people who don’t participate in mainstream society are protesting mainstream society. More than anything it seems like they just want to be heard and to be recognized. Maybe this is at the core of protesting.
Finally, I’ll leave you with the knowledge that two different people made positive comments about my St. John’s hat. That really got me pumped up. A few more comments and I’m ready to join their tribe.
Hopefully my perspective helps you better understand Occupy Wall Street. Hit me up if you want to share your take. I’d like to hear it.
The weekend before last, two buddies and I decided to venture out and explore the islands of Lake Titicaca in Peru. Perhaps faintly familiar to you for its lewd sounding name, the highest navigable lake in the world has much more to offer than a few giggles. At 12,500 feet above sea level, the lake is both optically and pulmonaryily breath taking.
For the average gringo tourist the allure of the lake lies in its different islands. We hired a guide and commandeered an awfully slow boat to hit the high seas and discover new worlds.
Our first stop was the floating islands of Uros. The islands, and just about everything on them including their houses and boats, are made of totora reeds. Every forty years or so this becomes a bit problematic since the reeds sink into the lake at that point. The islands were originally created to isolate the Uros from enemies. If attacked, they could simply move their lands away from danger. These days the main rationale for living on a Party Island made of reeds seems to be purely for tourism.
I can’t remember what’s supposed to imitate what but Uros is more of an amusement park ride than a civilization. Native islanders share just enough information about their home before they aggressively hawk their handmade crafts. The females serenaded us with a stirring rendition of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”. After paying off a bunch of other natives (all you tea party people out there would be outraged) we were on our merry way.
After a uninspiring few hours on Taquile Island (they wear their woven hats sideways to show when they are sad) we inched on along to Amantani. This island is about 6 square miles containing a few thousand people within multiple villages. If the tv show LOST was filmed in Peru, instead of Hawaii, it would be on this island. Terrace farming is the main occupation as small plots of land are worked by hand. There are no cars, machines or hotels. Not much electricity either. There are two dogs.
We arranged to stay with a local family for the night. Our patriarch Angel and his 9 year-old son Wilbur met us at the dock and took us back to their home which had amazing views of Pachamama (mother earth). One of the family’s livestock (five goats) had birthed a new goat earlier in the day. Between the miracle of life and the visit from the tres payasos it was a pretty exciting day for them. Then we showered our family with gifts of grain, sugar, cooking oil, pasta, coco leaves and Oreo cookies. We even brought a soccer ball and toy dinosaurs for Wilbur and his sister. Check out the regalos giving ceremony!
We decided to go for a hike on the island with Wilbur. As we were walking around we ran into Wilbur’s amigo Oliveres who quickly joined our crew. Apparently, the word spread because within minutes we had a slew of rambunctious kids following us. It was time to play some Futbol.
We split into three teams. I named my team after the daring Peruvian striker Jefferson Farfan. I butchered a bunch of Spanish words and terms to my Quechuan speaking teammates. They laughed at me. I played my hardest and stole the ball from my little amigos as much as possible. I chided my sweeper Jose for eating his boogers instead of paying attention on defense. We all had lots of fun.
After soccer we crossed the hill to the school house and taught the ninos about the birds and the bees. It was a one-room schools where every kid between the age of 5-17 learns together. Horace Mann would turn over in his grave. I read Goodnight Moon (Buenos Noches, Luna) out loud in spanish but then struggled to get through the Magic Autobus.
After a long day of living the simple life it was time to eat. Angel’s wife made us pourage and some kind of omelet that Jon couldn’t or wouldn’t eat. The dining room was actually a bit drab. No windows, one candle. Angel and his family ate on the floor while we sat at their only table. To break the ice and lighten the mood Jon sang some of his favorite songs.
Finally, it was time to party. We put on our costumes and went right back to the school house to listen to the sweet, soothing sounds of the native Amantani band. Yes, the Peruvian flute was played. We drank, we danced, we lived!
The next morning I awoke early at dawn and bumped into Angel on my way to the outhouse. We had a pleasant conversation in which I didn’t understand much of anything that he said. I did ask him about the status of his baby goat. A bit later we ate breakfast. I thought it was biscuits, Adam believed it to be potato latkas and Jon was pretty sure it was chicken nuggets! We bid adios to Angel and his family and hopped on our boat back to modern society.
I leave you with these final words of wisdom. The people of the island follow an old ancient Inca saying of ama sua, ama llulla, ama qhilla. The meaning: Do not steal, do not lie, do not be lazy. Sounds about right to me.
You may or may not care that the NBA is in the midst of a work stoppage that might wipe out the entire 2011-2012 season. Bill Simmons cares. He recently went all sports guy on us by explaining how the president guy in the movie Dave would be able to solve this lockout. I would also be remiss not to mention my digital buddy and surgical resident Todd Hannibal Lecher. He really cares.
The thing that Simmons doesn’t get is that neither the owners nor players seem to care. Errybody’s down to “Do the Eddy Curry” and take the entire season off.
Owners: Many teams are operating at an annual loss. The market to buy NBA teams has also dried up so franchise values aren’t as inflated as they once were. In order to both turn a profit and prop up franchise values the league needs to drastically change the economic structure of the league. A new agreement is the perfect opportunity to fix all of this. The owners are willing and prepared to wait this out.
Players: Unlike other sports leagues the NBA only has 350 union jobs so it’s easier to keep the players united. Players also have an option to play overseas (or go down to the playground) so they don’t seem as desperate to get back to work. In fact, I bet some players would gladly take just half their salary each year to play a two-month regular season (The Roger Clemens), try kinda hard in the playoffs and then tweet away during a nine month off-season. Besides Derek Fisher and Roger Mason Jr., I’m not sure how many players actually want the season to start on time.
Turn on Sportscenter, go to your local park or check ya twitter feed. The players are chillin. They are going abroad (ESPN overseas tracker) at a higher rate than AEPi dudes from Long Island. Durant may possible have joined the new 21st century version of Harlem Globetrotters. Artest, er, Metta World Peace is now a comedian. The foreign guys are playing ball all over the world in the European Championships and Olympic qualifying. It doesn’t seem like anyone is worried about the NBA in the same way as NFL players were this summer.
Combine this with my theory that one day all athletes are going to unite and rule the world (as soon as they develop HGH for intelligence). First, they will pool their salaries together to buy their own teams. Between their earning power, media presence and physical prowess they will then dominate all other races, political parties and business leaders. Maybe my boy Curtis Granderson would be their leader!
My point here is that the players are in an amazing position. They are united and are not that desperate to work. All they are asking for is the status quo so they have the media and fans on their side. Furthermore, they may not even need the NBA.
The players have the perfect opportunity to form their own super league or tournament. Here’s how I see it working.
The Pro Sweet 16
The Pro Sweet 16 would be a single elimination basketball tournament played in the fall. All games would be in Las Vegas. Players will form their own teams. The sixteen teams that ante up the largest entry fees will compete (anybody is eligible). Sponsors can pledge the fee on behalf of a player/team. The 15+ tournament games (plus consolation games) would either be televised through Pay Per View or the global broadcast rights will be sold to media companies. The entry fees, event and media revenues will be pooled together and distributed to teams based on performance. It’s so beautifully simple.
The allure of the Pro Sweet 16 would be the players, teams and match-ups. Judging by fantasy spots and last summers Melo trade debacle we know that fans love player’s moving from team to team! Fortunately, Littyhoops has your team projections and seedings. Damn kid, get psyched, posts like this are why you read all my lame pseudo-intellectual entries about the internet. Buckle up!
#1 — Team USA
Always self-conscious Kobe brings together a bunch of egomaniacs under the USA flag as former national players, all-stars and veterans unite to form the most formidable team in the world.
Captain: Kobe Bryant
Team: Dwight Howard, Dwayne Wade, Tim Duncan, Jameer Nelson, Kevin Garnett, David West, Rajon Rondo, Andre Igoudala, Chauncey Billups, Danny Granger
#2 – Nike Swooshes
Nike finally surrounds Durant with players who let him do whatever the heck he wants….which is Score!
Captain: Kevin Durant
Team: Amare Stoudemire, Kevin Love, Stephen Curry, Zach Randolph, Al Horford, Chris Bosh, Joel Anthony, Rudy Gay, Marcus Camby, James Harden, Eric Maynor
#3 – CAA All-Stars
Led by World Wide Wes, CAA puts together the biggest sponsorship package and buys the rights to the music video and documentary!
Captain: Carmelo Anthony
Team: Chris Paul, Rip Hamilton, Jonny Flynn, Rodney Stuckey, Eric Bledsoe, Andrea Bargnani, Carlos Arroyo, DeSagana Diop
#4 – Wasserman, Tellem & Associates
Casey Wasserman and Arn Tellem’s players are led by a dynamic back court of D.Rose and Russell Westbrook. Not sure if this helps bring Football to LA though.
Captain: Derrick Rose
Team: Russell Westbrook, Brook Lopez, Robin Lopez, Tyreke Evans, Antawn Jamison, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kendric Perkins, Jordan Farmer
Captain: Jason Terry
Team: Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson, Marvin Williams, Aaron Brooks, Brandon Roy, Jon Brockman, Brian Scalabrine, Terrence Williams,
#6 – Lebronmates
We know Lebron performs best when playing with scrubs who aren’t gonna boink his momma. Here he is with his best buds. This is More Than A Game. Even Mav Carter gets all up in the video.
Captain: Lebron James
Team: Mike Conley, Greg Oden, Zydrunus Illgauskus, Dru Joyce III, Romeo Travis, Willie Mcgee, Sian Cotton, Maverick Carter
#7 – The Excelerators
Jeff Schwartz is one of the best agent in basketball. He signs great character guys and builds long term relationships with them. He also stays out of the press. His people will do a nice job organizing this squad.
Captain: Paul Pierce
Team: Deron Williams, Al Jefferson, Emeka Okafor, Devin Harris, Jason Kidd, Charlie Villanueva, Blake Griffen
#8 The Iron Curtain
Back in the day, these guys would have been called the USSR. I kind of wish the Middle East could field some amazing sports teams so we can have some Cold War type rivalries.
Captain: Dirk Nowitzki
Team: Beno Udrih, Hedo Turkoglu, Marcin Gortat, Goran Dragic, Vladimir Radmanovic, Zaza Pachulia, Omar Asik, Timofey Mozgov, Andrei Kirilenko, Enes Kantor
#9 – Big East Alumni Network
Yup, we actually created something better than the Big East Tournament. Gotta have some Johnnies in our dance.
Captain: Ray Allen
Team: Jeff Green, Roy Hibbert, Ben Gordan, Hakim Warrick, DeJuan Blair, Ryan Gomes, Kemba Walker, Wesley Matthews, Marcus Hatten, Dwight Hardy
#10– The NATO Warriors
First Europe unites to support the Libyan rebels and now they all ball together. Led by the Spaniards, this might be the prettiest team to watch…
Captain: Pau Gasol
Team: Marc Gasol, Rudy Fernandez, Ricky Rubio, Jose Calderon, Boris Diaw, Nicholas Batum, Marco Belinelli, Johan Petro, Tony Parker, Danilo Gallinari
#11 – MJ’s Carolina
You know MJ is licking his chops for any excuse to play competitively. His fellow alumni are probably the only guys to follow him. Larry Brown will coach these guys.
Captain: Michael Jordan
Team: Ty Lawson, Raymond Felton, Tyler Hansbrough, Ed Davis, Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, Brandan Wright, Danny Green Wayne Ellington
#12 – The City
I love NYC ball but shouldn’t there be more talent here?
Captain: Metta World Peace
Team: Lamar Odom, Sebastian Telfair, Stephon Marbury, Lance Stephenson, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Jamaal Tinsley, Rafer Alston, Royal Ivey
#13 – Role Models
This team is smoking!
Captain: Gilbert Arenas
Team: Michael Beasley, OJ Mayo, DeMarcus Cousins, DeShawn Stevenson, Glenn Davis, Allen Iverson, Delonte West, Javaris Crittenton
#14 – The Dukies
Gonna be fun to watch them lose. Batteir and Grant Hill are pissed he lost the Presidency to Curtis Granderson. Coached by Steve Wojciechowski
Captain: Grant Hill
Team: Carlos Boozer, Elton Brand, Luol Deng, Chris Duhon, Shane Battier, Kyrie Irving, JJ Redick, Mike Dunleavy Jr., Nolan Smith
#15 – The High Flyers
The official team of the Tea Party, Kenny Chesney and Talladega Super Speedway.
Captain: Steve Nash
Team: David Lee, Chris Anderson, Kirk Hinrich, Chase Budinger, Landry Fields, Kris Humphries, Kyle Korver, Gordan Haywood, Steve Blake, Jimmer Fredette
#16 – Team Zeros
I never understood why a guy would want to be a zero. But apparently these guys do. And they understand each other. And they are going to match their win total with their uniform number. Maybe they will be sponsored by NASA or Mircrosoft or Yah00.
Captain: Mike Bibby
Team: Shawn Marion, Drew Gooden, James Johnson, Jeff Teague, Gary Forbes, Avery Bradley, Darrell Arthur, Spencer Hawes, Chad CeroYcero
What team would win? What team would you like to see form?
Here’s a highlight video of Durant lighting up the Rucker. This is the type of ball you’ll see in the Pro Sweet 16.
I’ve been hung up lately on the idea that college, especially private schools, are a financial rip-off. I am having trouble understanding the actual direct value of a $125K (and increasing) undergraduate degree. Even if there are real benefits, I haven’t met many students that realize them.
I’m not a big fan of traditional, structured education. I didn’t buy into it as a student. I never felt like it correlated to the real world. I thought that the best way to learn and get ahead was to do worthwhile projects outside of the classroom. I still do. I’m also an avid reader and feel as though I’ve learned the most from good books. Perhaps this is why I’m now in a profession that isn’t really dependent on scholastic achievement.
Education hasn’t changed all that much in generations. 1) Do well in high school 2) Go to the best college 3) Move on to graduate school (depending on the career path). The cost of law school or business school is also high but at least there is an easier way to quantify its value by calculating the post-grad school options. But do you really need an expensive undergrad degree to enroll in these programs? Seems like we can pack all the fun and education into 2-3 years, save our youth some serious time and money, and get on with life.
That’s not the only thing that should change. Technology moves so fast that people need to stay more educated and learn new skills throughout their career. Education should never stop. I’ve never understand why school and learning is just for young people. I’ll happily defer part of my college education till later on in my life (when I’ll need it more).
Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder, hedge fund manager and venture capitalist in Silicon Valley, believes we’re all in the midst of a higher education bubble because it is “overvalued and intensely believed”. The education bubble is about security and insurance against the future. Pay to go to a good college and you will be set for life. Premiere colleges don’t focus on their level of education but rather at their level as “prestige” as a way to rationalize ever-increasing tuition. Thiel is taking aim at these institutions by launching the Thiel 20 Under 20 Fellowships. The fellowships are granted to the most talented students under 20 years of age and pay them $100,000 over two years to leave school and start something instead.
Here are some other cool new developments in education.
The Khan Academy by Salman Khan is a free website with over 2400 videos covering everything from arithmetic to physics, finance and history with practice exercises and worksheets to boot.
The Encyclopedia has been democratized. Back in the day only the rich kids had World Books in their bedroom. It’s called Wikipedia.
A new startup in NYC called Skillshare is a community marketplace that makes to easier to learn anything from anyone. Skillshare believes peer-to-peer education in is the world’s greatest universities. Their platform helps make the exchange of knowledge easy, enriching, collaborative, and fun. I’ve attended a few Skillshare sessions and eager to teach my first.
General Assembly in New York City is a center for technology, design and entrepreneurship that offers educational programming, space, and support. It create learning opportunities across a community “inspired by entrepreneurial experience”. It’s kind of like everything you don’t learn in college.
Look around the world and you will see other countries and cultures that are doing a better job at education than we are here in America. It’s amazing how India has mass-produced an education system that is uplifting their entire country (at least that’s my take on it). It’s fascinating to me how accessible education is to people around the world who want to learn on their own (for free!)
FYI – I attended the University of Michigan. I had a blast. Formed amazing life-long friendships. Loved living in Ann Arbor. Partied. Spent two productive years in their business school. Tried to take advantage of all that the school had to offer. But I’m not sure how much it was actually worth. Just because it was as fun as summer camp doesn’t mean it was priceless (at least not economically). In fact, I often think of the opportunity cost. What would I have accomplished if I did something else with my time and my parents $100K besides college from the formative age of 18-22. Could I have invested my tuition money and then even earned enough money on top of that to support myself (an important life lesson!). Could I have traveled the world? Joined the Peace Corps? Experienced eight different 6-month internships to cultivate my life passions. I’m not sure. But I’m left thinking the next generation should and will do it even better.
If you happen to be so chic as to find yourself in the women’s shoe department at Bloomingdale’s in SoHo this week you’ll be able to check out the new J.Litvack footwear collection. Fresh from the docks of Portugal, the footwear line is also featured in NYC at Lord & Taylor and other boutique stores (view list).
For those not in the know, the Litvack clan made their mark in the new country as cobblers. I’ve blogged about the rags to riches story of my Grandpa Saul who founded Erica (named after America) Shoes. At some point in the 70’s my father took the baton and the company soared like Al Bundy rising from the couch to grab the last buffalo wing.
My Uncle Jay is now the last remaining Litvack in the shoe business but that hasn’t stopped him from ambitiously creating his own new line. After successfully launching brands for Me Too Footwear, Steven by Steve Madden, Boutique 9 for Nine West he decided it was time for him to do his own thing.
According to the story on the website (The unc was unavailable for an interview) the collection is casual, sporty, cool contemporary and more about “attitude and all the details” than “covering all classifications”. Almost sounds like he’s describing his very cool nephew! Can’t wait till he comes out with the Littyhoops knee high pump! Here is a interview of Unle Jay describing the new line on City Soles TV.
I’ve been following along from the start and rooting for him over the last 18 months. Like any bootstrapped startup company it’s taken a tremendous dose of grit and tenacity (and an understanding wife) to get the venture off the ground. He recently told me a ridiculous story about hiring a local Portuguese lawyer he found on Google to help solve an international dispute… and it worked! Like any small business owner he’s problem solving all day and all night and quickly iterating and improving the business. I get a kick out of hearing him and my aunt describe their exploits in the digital world getting the J.Litvack website and social media strategy (Facebook) going. He has yet to take my advice though to pronounce the brand Jay Dot Litvack.
I’m proud of Uncle Jay (and I’m sure Scruffy would be as well). He’s going 100 miles per hour these days. This week he’s in Vegas for the big FN shoe convention. The first orders of J.Litvack have shipped and hit stores as of this week. It’s a big accomplishment. Hopefully he can stop for a second to appreciate this milestone. Plus, it’s another feather in the cap for us Litvack’s. Might I add that I have yet to hear about a Galitziana shoe brand (unless they were the guys behind Starbury’s).
Below is a picture of my cousin Samantha modeling the shoes. The photo is so striking that you might think Sam was a professional model but in truth she’s just a recent college graduate (Go Blue!) who still lives at home with her parents and is dying to move to Murray Hill. To be clear, my intention here is NOT to embarrass her. That would be awkward. Did you know that Sam and her sister Jackie are the inspiration for J.Litvack!!!