Friday, August 7, 2009

Steve Planeta and Family

So I have been away for a few weeks and haven't gotten to add a post for the Planeta family. My friend Nick Planeta's father was recently diagnosed with Prostate cancer. I just wanted to let the family know that God is with them, and to remain strong. I will keep you all in my prayers and let God do his work. Mr. Planeta is one of the nicest people I have ever met, and I hope only the best for him and his family. God Bless.

Back from the Rainy City

So it's been a few weeks since I have last posted a blog. I spent two weeks in Dublin, Ireland with my second family the Westbrooks. Let's just say that I haven't a time like that in a while. I originally had the intention of going over and just kickin it with my Westbrooks boys, but the trip turned into much more than that. Unexpectedly, I was offered tickets to the U2 concert at Croke Park in Dublin. I mean I;m not really a big U2 fan, since I maybe know 2 of their songs, but I decided to go for the experience. Michael and I met up with some of his friends about and hour or so before heading to the pitch at a local pub where we put down a good 5 or 6 pints of Guiness (my new favorite beer). Then on the walk over we decided to grab one more for the road, since you can drink in public in Europe (hint hint USA). Michael also bought a bottle of Captain for us to sneak in, but of course in his state of mind did not hide the bottle well enough haha. So the bottle never made it in, but that's ok because Mike's friend managed to get his flask past security. Then inside we got 2 more beers at the vendors, so about 8 or 9 pints in, we were good for the remainder of the concert. We made it to the pitch surrounded by thousands of people having fun already, even without the famous group on stage yet. Luckily for us, one of Mike's friends came up with the genius plan to created our own stamps for to enter the pit. The pit was an sectioned off area in the front as close to the stage as you could get, where fans had to pay extra and pretty much cue all day to get their spots up front. Anyway, a friend of Michael's friend sent us a picture message with the simple stamp design, which we proceeded to forge onto each and every one of our wrists with a blue sharpie. Then we walked confidently up to the security outside the pit, flashed our amateur (but Pro in our minds) stamps and got in no problem. Minutes later, U2 came out on stage to an 80,000 large audience and rocked the city for 2 hours. I did not know one lyric, but still had the time of my life. Thanks to Mike and his friends for a great experience. Then we ended the night off in the pub where we had a couple more pints before returning home. After I hopped out the cab and onto the porch of the Westbrooks residence, I struggle for about 5 minutes to find the key and open the door. Finally I made it inside and upstairs, only to be bombarded with Westbrooks and questions of how my night was. I was giddy and chatty, until Mr. Westbrooks came in to join the conference. That is when I tried to put on my sober act to answer his questions, but immediately started slurring my speech and forgetting what I was trying to say haha. Big J did not care at all, I was a little nervice, but they all just had a good laugh at me. Part one of my Irish journey: SUCCESS.

The next morning (more like 4 hours later for me),me, Mike, Aaron, and Issac had a 3 hour drive down to Cork for the National team tryouts. I wasn't in the mood for a 3 hour practice, but after being asked twice by the coach to put on my sneaks I agreed and laced up. I am glad I made the decision to play, because I sweat out the night before, and I proved to myself that I could hang with Pro's in Europe. I played pretty well and hopefully opened up some eyes while I was there. Mike, Aaron, and Isaac all made the team last I heard, so I am excited for them, and know they will not let their country down when they hit the court for Green, White, and Orange.

I also worked two camps over there, just to make a couple extra bucks, Euro to be exact. The first week was great, since it was run by Michael and siblings. It was real easy, but the kids were little 'messers'. The kids in my group were about 12-13 years old and were just all over the place all week. They were crazy, swearing up a storm like I've never heard. I can't recall the last time I heard kids this young telling each other to 'piss off' and 'go to hell' every two seconds. Either way, the week went by quickly and I had a great time. The second week I worked a camp for the Westbrooks' family friend. This camp was just as easy and I had a lot of fun working it. These kids were a little older, going all the way up to 17, and were much more relaxed/happy to coached. Half the group thought I was in the NBA, while the other half said I was a Chris Brown look-a-like. I'll take both compliments, but unfortunately I won't see that league except for in my dreams, and I will never do what Chris did. I also met a great coach/ ex player, Gerald "G" Kennedy. We co-coached the Sr. kids for the week and had a great time telling stories, and talking about our futures. He was nice back in the day and probably would have been an NBA household name if it wasn't for his 8 knee surgeries. Anyway, hopefully he will be able to help me out in the future with my Professional career overseas.

I also played in the North Side Summer League at St. Fintans, the old stomping grounds of all the Westbrooks boys, which was a lot of fun. We ended up losing in the semi's to Malahide, which was a huge upset since we were undefeated up until that point. That was very disappointing for all of us, because not only were we favored to win the league, but the winners of the league received about 200 Euro each as the prize. O well, maybe next year for the Baldoyle fellas. O ya and I can't forget to mention that Big J was still doing his thing out on the court, beastin down low in the post. Killester ended up winning the league, which led to the most epic night I have experienced in a while, maybe even ever. We started the night off at the Beachcomber (spellcheck?), with the whole league as a closing ceremony for the summer league. Mike did a great job running the league this summer, so much respect to him. After we all got about 4 or 5 pints into our systems, we all headed into the city of Dublin to a club called Dicees (spellcheck #2?). WOW....That's how that night can be summed up. Once the Westbrooks boys (and I include myself in that category)hit the dance floor, it was a wrap for that point on. Next thing you know, everybody up in the club was out on the dance floor struttin their stuff. I don't think we left the floor until the closing call around 3:30am. I'll never forget that night. However, next morning I woke up to Aaron yelling, "Choice what time is it?" It was 10:45, yup 45 minutes after I was supposed to be at my last day of camp. I made it 2 hours later, but thank God the other coaches understood and appreciated the night that took place beforehand.

The reast of my trip was pretty relaxing and great fun still. I got to chill with my boy Gavo, who I dominated in Pro Ev all 2 weeks haha. I even took down the champ, Eric in a match 4-2, which was the highlight of my Pro Ev experience. I was treated as a part of the family the whole time, even to the point where I had to do the dishes haha. Leah took me into the city, which was a lot of fun. I found some great presents for my family and my girl. I even went to church twice, which was the first time for me in about 5 years. Emily cooked some of the best meals I have ever had, as well as Mrs. Westbrooks. And on my last night, Gavo introduced me to White Russians, one of the tastiest drinks I've ever had. Downed 3 in about 20 minutes haha. All in all, I had the time of my life over in Ireland. I can't wait to go back. Thank you to the whole Westbrooks family, my boy Gavo, Gerald, and all the other great people I met or hung out with, that made my stay so special. I'll never forget those two weeks, and can't wait to do it again!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

R.I.P. Michael Jackson

Today the one and only Michael Joseph Jackson was layed to rest in front of the whole world. The memorial was simply beautiful as the Staples Center filled with loving family members, loyal friends, and over 20,000 faithful fans to mourn our loss. The true beauty of this gathering showed through the performances of guests and memories of those close to him, as we all celebrated the King's life (and what a life he had). All week I listened to old Mike joints and was continually amazed at how many of his great hits that he had. One after another I would smile and think to myself, "I forgot that he had this song too." Not only were his songs the greatest, but he also created some of the best music videos/short films the world have ever seen. Michael Jackson epitomized the the beauty that his world holds, and allowed the hope and love in our world to blossom for all of us. He opened the doors for many artists and other celebrities that we all look up to today. Whether black, white, American, international, whatever he or she may have been, he loved everyone for who they were, and no can deny that. The media exploited him for decades, even after his dying days, but his true friends, family, fans and followers, etc. all know the true person inside of Micahel Jackson. Thank you MJ for entertaining the world with your amazing performances, music, and talent, but more importantly, thank you for making the world a better place. I know you are sharing a laugh with God, looking down on the world you made your home, and I hope you continue to bless the world in some magical way. Michael Jackson was the greatest entertainer that ever lived and he will never be forgotten, as he is a LEGEND. Rest In Peace Mike, I'll see you walking on the moon someday.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Funny Clip

I got this clip off of my boy Chris Lemmons' blog,, check it out. This is how church should really be like. I am religious, but I do not like going to church to sit, kneel, and stand every other 2 minutes. This guy is a straight G, and the best part is that he is dead serious throughout the whole dance. He is nunmber 2 performers of all time in my book behind the great MJ (R.I.P). I need to find out where this church is, so I can check my man Bro Franklin out in person. Sign me up next time he takes the stage.

Wimbledon 2009

I was just watching the Wimbledon Championship match between Andy Roddick and Roger Federer, and was glued to the tv for 3 hours. This match is an instant classic for several reasons. First of all Federer now stands alone with 15 Grand Slam's, passing Pete Sampras who was present at the match, 7 years after his last match on center court. Secondly, this match was the longest match ever played at Wimbledon, going 7-5, 6-7, 6-7, 6-3, 14-16 in favor of Federer. I am not a huge fan of tennis, but this was simply an amazing match to watch. I can't lie, I was rooting for Andy the whole way, being an American, but I was happy to see Federer make history right in front of my eyes. The whole time during the 5th set I was confident that Roddick was going to pull through and steal the match from Federer since he did not lose a single Service game the whole match until his last, but fatigued seemed to step in and hinder Roddick's game in the end. Roddick played his ass off, not only in this match, but the whole Wimbeldon series. Beating Australia's Hewitt, the hometown's favorite Murray, and almost pulling it out against the game's greatest, Federer, Roddick had a great week in in England. Throughout the match the crowd slightly favored Roddick as he put on a show with both his serve and newly improved volley-game, and the same goes for the commentators. While everyone clearly appreciated the history that was made today, except for the Roddick camp of course, I believe that deep down inside everyone wanted to see Roddick pull off the upset on center court. No matter the outcome, I knew the match was going to be satisfying, and am grateful that I happened to turn on the TV to channel 10 this morning. Thank you both Federer and Roddick for a great match and entertaining the world for 4 and a half hours. Congratulations to Federer to on his record setting 15th Grand Slam victory, and Roddick keep up the hard work, it's clearly paying off.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Rain Rain Go Away

The last two days in Newport have been wet and windy. Both mornings I woke up to the slapping of raindrops against my screen window, which continuoulsy trickled onto my bed. While I do not complain about rain that often, this weather is just starting to get annoying. Not only have I not been able to journey down to the beach at all this summer, the damp weather has been keeping me from making money which is no fun at all. There's not much to do, when the skies are grey and the temp. below 70 for a whole month. There are only so many movies one can watch, and books to read. I never thought that I would ever experience more disappointing weather than I do up in Maine every year. I mean it sucks to have 3/4 of a year covered in snow, but when it is finally time to venture home and relax, how could Mama Nature be so unthoughtful? I mean serioulsy, can we please at least one full month of beautiful weather? That's all I ask for. I'm going to the the Land of Luck in 2 weeks, and I doubt the skies will treat me any better while in Dublin. The worst part is that once in a while the sun will tease you, pretending to burn through the mist, only to jump right back behind the clouds 20 minutes later. Anyways, hopefully you will be able to read a more pleasant post in the future, if MN decides to bless us with her beauty. But until then, keep those umbrellas by the front door and go see The Hangover as many times as possible.

Hip-Hop's Up-And-Comers

PSA: "Hip-Hop's Alive Again! Repeat: Hip-Hop's Alive Again!"

Two artists that are relatively new on the scene, Drake (who often raps with Lil Wayne), and Poe Picasso, have tied up their capes to bring back Hip Hop. These two have been blastin in my Pasat all month. Their styles and lyrics are both unique and a blessing to the culture that has strayed away from an intellectual style for the past few years. While it was fun to hear a selection of songs talking about bagging girls and shining their "ice" everywhere they go, it is refreshing to hear these two bring back the crafty artistic aspect of hip hop.

Drake: Rapping with Wayne has given Drizzy the spotlight in the rap game, seeing Wayne's fame. Drake has exceeded expectations as far as I'm concerned, bringing a variety of styles to the Mic. Not only can my man drop a special 16 bars, but he can also speak to the ladies with his voice. HIs combination of rapping and singing on the same track puts him a different category than most MC's in the game. While I'm not calling him the greatest or anything like that, he has a crazy bright future, which I'm excited for. Here is a song of his, which is also my current ringtone at the moment:

Poe Picasso: Poe is a rather less known artist right now, but don't let that turn you off. Once he gets the exposure he deserves, he has the chance to blow up as long as he continues what he's doing. He sticks more to the intellectual lyrics, something that has been missing from Hip Hop the last few years. I listened to his mixtape: "Exibit A: The Real Hip Hop Project" on and was in love immediately. This dude can really use his mind in a special way on paper. He uses a lot of recycled beats right now, which I think is a plus for him, so he can show his skills on popular beats from the past. I mean this is probably a long shot, but if someone like Kanye or Primo took the chance to sign this dude or at least give him a few beats, he would not disappoint. Here is one of his track too. Let me know what you think: