Tiger, Tiger Woods Y’all: Urbanizing the World’s Swankiest Sport

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You know that you have cred when your street sounds like it only contains cottages, and as a denizen of Devonshire court, I scoff at claims that streets with a directional letter and a few digits can hold a candle to the real experiences on one of the toughest cul-de-sacs in the Greater Cleveland area. It’s no coincidence that I’ve earned the title “The Sire of the Shire.”

Hailing from the mean streets has made me a bit of an authority on urban culture. And with my experiences both on PC-aided expeditions in Oregon Trail and visiting local venture Pioneer Waterland, you could say that I’m quite the pioneer. In respect to my conglomerate, it’s pretty clear that I am in a unique position to tap into the mainstream and generate the next big thing. I woke up today a sheep in sports innovation, but in a matter of hours, I shed the wool and picked up the staff- or in this case, a metal club.

Before today, my consideration of urban golf could be described as limited. I’m sure many of you felt the same. I touched on it in my much-hyped rap career, boasting that “I ball harder than a golfer on asphalt.” At that time, I had no idea that a throwaway brag would change the course of sports history. Over breakfast, I collaborated with a one-off bit produced by The Worldwide Leader in Sports. An advertisement on early-bird SportsCenter showcases the portability of ESPN go, declaring that if you desert work to watch golf on the rooftop, the golfer will abandon the green, ascend an adjacent building, and perform his job in front of you.

If I had that power, I would totally watch things like surgery and cooking. Does it make me a bad person if I want to watch live rooftop surgery?

But wait a second, why don’t people watch golf? Most people blame it on the outfits of John Daly, but the real answer is a bit less shocking. It’s because televised golf is absurdly boring. So what do sports do when people participate in them, but won’t watch them on TV? If you’re everyone’s favorite ESPN punching bag, the Scripps Howard spelling bee, you amplify the pressure until 12 year old savants pass out. Poker? Lets throw percentages at our audience, so they don’t have to assess risk or do math. Chess? Combine moving rooks with throwing hooks.

How can we make golf interesting? I set out to find a panacea for the tedium of golf. One solution, for me at least, is more alligator influence on the game. Not only would this discourage the dreaded water hazard restart, but could you imagine the pressure of playing a shot that you know your follow-through will contact the torso of a sleeping gator?

How many practice swings are you taking?

But I can foresee some “technicalities” with that, most stemming from an organization like PETA being a bit of a PITA. But my second best idea for improving the appeal of televised golf not only could happen, but should be happening right now. And 1 Streetball shows drew ratings on ESPN for years, thanks to the eclectic mix of white ball-handling savants, larger-than-life dunks, and larger-than-life big men. Gamers toss money at Street games featuring hulking caricatures of real athletes running up walls and jumping 20 feet in the air in a myriad of different sports. Street racing, according to just about every car movie ever, is its own high-stakes underground circuit, where daredevils cheat death, drive souped up sports cars, perform heists on the side, and live extravagantly. Without researching it, at least twelve people watch the street skateboarding in the X games; that’s about six times as many as the vert competition. An untapped market, people!

Here is my proposal: Lets take the second tier of professional golfers: guys who aren’t making millions, but still lie in the .0001 percentile of best players in the world. Scout local courses for people with phenomenal skills who haven’t hit it big yet; I found an amateur in my Facebook news feed who drives the ball over 400 yards, while the longest average drive on the 2011 PGA Tour averaged less than 318 yards.

Censored to protect anonymity

Assemble a group that includes modern course designers willing to push the envelope, urban city planners and architects, and the people who design paths for major marathons. Have them hash out the details of creating a city-wide golf course, using elements such as shifts in height and glass window hazards. Maybe the fairway for one hole is 10th floor office carpeting, accessed through a window with the cup down a hallway. Idiots break things on TV all of the time, and NASCAR seems more than happy constantly replacing cars. We could easily replace windows.

In an informal research poll of two people, 100% percent of respondents indicated that not only would they watch extreme urban golf, but it would be can’t-miss programming. A guy driving balls off of a skyscraper would get incredible hangtime and increased roll after impact, as the asphalt surface would create crazy bounces and longer distances after contact.

And think about the long-term increases: Many poor children are never exposed to golf, as swanky country clubs are atypical hangouts for the impoverished. With more young, potentially talented participants, you could tap in to a future generation of premier athletes who usually play other sports, creating a wave of improvement reverberating through the game. Bring the game to the city and see the citizens improve the game.

To make golf more fun, we need less Eldrick and more Tiger. Less Shooter McGavin and more Billy Madison. A circuit-style tour model where cities are cordoned off, marathon style, would revolutionize a sport best known for ritzy roots and cultural elitism and allow golf to become entertaining and embraceable.

I’ll be streaming from the rooftops. Care to join?

Can Urban Golf soar like an eagle, or did I double-bogey this argument? Direct your love and hate @bigpoppalard


Skrillex and Mac Miller Come to Ohio State; An Exercise in People Watching Ensues

Ohio State’s geothermal wells project, a testament to the lengths a university will go to for operational air conditioning, populates a sizable chunk of the campus’s South Oval.  It never really was—and certainly isn’t now—a great concert venue.  And as long as there’s the real Oval, it’s probably not going to be a great anything.  So, head-scratchingly enough, the Ohio Union Activities Board chose to stage their annual Big Free Concert, featuring “rapper” Mac Miller and dubstep king Skrillex, on the South Oval’s trampled grass.

It should be noted, full disclosure, that I don’t like Mac Miller (no good reason, other than the Pittsburgh thing) or Skrillex (the nails on a chalkboard aesthetic has never appealed to me).  Also, a floormate played Skrillex’s “Cinema” on a constant loop last fall, which led to a falling out with said floormate—let’s call him “Jacob”—one week into the school year.  As I type this, the not-so-gentle strains of Meek Mill emanate from Jacob’s room, which is an improvement, albeit not much of one.

And yet I was excited!  While the performers didn’t interest me, I recognized the Big Free Concert’s real value: namely, in being a crazy-good people watching event.

My crew, which awkwardly included Jacob, arrives on the scene at 6:30.  There was DJ AXCESS, spinning away, and there was a tall male clad in a shirt that read “DTF 1”, an erotic play on The Cat in the Hat’s Thing 1 and Thing 2.  Somewhere, Dr. Seuss was either cringing or, more likely, “DTF 2.”  The shirt sparked a debate about whether it offered its wearer a competitive advantage pulling women.  The general sentiment seemed to be “no,” unless she resembled the Lorax.  A decked-out graduate (origins unknown—OSU’s cap and gown ceremony won’t happen for another month) surveys the landscape, flanked by family members of various hair colors.  The concert seems to surprise her.  I guess I’d be a little distraught in this situation, too, but what does that matter?  Seeing her early evening photo shoot foiled by thousands of smashed college students is really, really funny.

This might be the most diverse assemblage of humans, ever.  A decidedly Caucasian male leans idly against a tree, Jamaican flag draped over his shoulders.  What does this mean?  I don’t have time to ponder the blatant disparagement of American exceptionalism—soon a girl in Hello Kitty pajamas gallops by.  Why isn’t she a bigger deal?  I feel like the world has a lot to learn from a girl in Hello Kitty pajamas at a Skrillex show.  Perhaps she has something to say about fracking or, maybe, super PACs.  It bothers me that we’ll never know.

Mac Miller sends an ominous message into the Twitterverse (“fashionably late”) and people that have nowhere to go suddenly bemoan an extra half-hour of waiting.  Luckily, the issue is rectified when DJ Clockwork emerges onstage and does things you’d expect a guy named DJ Clockwork to do.  He draws the loudest cheers by ad-libbing directives like “Y’all better be high tonight” and “Don’t stop sipping” over Tyga, and everyone complies.  The security guards, relegated by now to the South Oval’s periphery, look on longingly and dream of DJ Clockwork’s authority.

The ratio of sunglasses-to-sunlight leans heavily in favor of sunglasses, something like 10,000 to 0.  There aren’t many “preps”, but the ones I see could pass for distant cousins of Ralph Lauren, virtual parodies of the frat boy archetype.  More people are wearing throwback jerseys—Danny Ferry, TO (Eagles), and, adorably, Pacman Jones (Bengals).  A justifiably timid ten year-old with an apparent hatred of vowels wears a shirt that reads “DNT HRT ME.”  One kid paces anxiously gripping his POP Phone, a retro handset that plugs into iPhones.  The device looks cumbersome and ridiculous, I say, but my skepticism is quickly dispelled with a visit to the official POP Phone website: “The chic design combines classic style with modern elegance, resulting in a fashionable and comfortable handset finished with a soft luxurious texture…and unparalleled conversation comfort.”  Oh.  Nevermind, then!

Mac Miller, unprovoked, enlightens the audience as to what he looks for in a female: “I like a girl with good grades.  Intelligent chicks.”  He could’ve stopped there, secure in his preference for intellectually-inclined women, but no!  Mac adds, “But really, I love a freak.”  This proclamation elicits applause, presumably from every girl not on the Dean’s List.

But really, everyone is here to see Skrillex.  After a five minute countdown, the artist formerly known as Sonny Moore takes the stage to perform his routine of knob-twisting, head-bopping antics.  I inhale an inordinate amount of secondhand smoke, most of it not the byproduct of Marlboros.  Some daredevils are climbing trees and light posts.  Skrillex shouts them out, along with “that group of crazy hula hoopers in the corner.”  We are encouraged to chant for Nate, a friend of Skrillex’s that couldn’t make the show due to an unspecified injury.  Get well soon, Nate!  Skrillex tells us that we’re beautiful, and is adamant in his desire for the men “to be taking care of all the ladies tonight.”  (Seriously—he repeats this line four more times.)  More lighters than cell phones are held up for “Cinema”, which is a strange occurrence in 2012, but probably not for Skrillex.  A very woozy man skips through the crowd and asks no one in particular, “How real is this?”  Funny, I thought.  I had been wondering the same thing.


Summer of 2012: A Preview

Due to statuses (or is it stati?) like “SUMMER 2012 IS HERE <33” and “freshman year is OVAH!!” I’ve recently made a concerted effort to avoid Facebook.  One of the most demoralizing things in the world is seeing “the tanlines will fade away, but the memories will last 4eva” on your news feed when another month of school remains to be endured.  I can’t really fathom anything worse!

As they say, the next best thing to viscerally experiencing summer 2012 is previewing it in a blog post, so here goes:

Things I’m Really Excited For

My 19th Birthday Extravaganza, June 25

Will be held at a casino in Toronto.  VIP room, obviously.  The tentative slogan is “A Night of Impiety.”  What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?  Multiply that by ten and you’ll have a general idea of what this party entails.

God Forgives, I Don’t, Rick Ross, July 31

When I heard the opening lines of “I Love My Bitches”, the album’s first single, I was smitten:

A month ago, I gave a chick a hundred stacks

Straight to Neiman Marcus, young bitch had a heart attack

Never mind the fact that Rozay may have inadvertently foreshadowed his own cardiac malaise, or the song title’s fundamental relatability (Who doesn’t love their bitches?)—I felt immediately compelled to send flowers to our young protagonist’s hospital room!  This urge gave rise to the realization that I was more emotionally invested in God Forgives, I Don’t than I had been for any other album, ever.

Whatever you want to call him—the Bawse, Teflon Don, D-Boy, Trilla, etc. —2012 is undoubtedly the year of Rick Ross.  His superb mixtape, Rich Forever, had children adding Pyrex glassware to their Christmas lists while critics could only muster a dismissive “Must be Illuminati.”  With confirmed tracks “You the Boss”, “Stay Schemin’”, “9 Piece”, and the aforementioned “Bitches”, everyone will be celebrating the Boy Who Lived’s birthday with the melodic strains of the Biggest Boss Seen Thus Far.

London Olympics, Late July-Mid August

Scrawl So Hard contributor Matt Lardner chided the Olympics and, by extension, America in a recent tweet: “can’t wait to pretend I care about Olympic sports for a month this summer!”  Pretend you care?  Even Communists care about the Olympics!  Let’s be honest—after a long summer day filled with sunbathing, froyo, and perhaps even a work shift, is there anything you’d rather do than watch underage Asian girls compete on a balance beam?  I didn’t think so.

Things I’m Somewhat Excited For

Future’s Pluto Tour, Cleveland House of Blues, June 10

At this point in my life, I’ve heard Future’s songs (mostly “Racks”, “Tony Montana”, and “Magic”) at least one hundred times and still can’t make out any of the words.  This isn’t to discredit his work; Future readily acknowledges his soft spot for foreign languages by self-identifying as a Plutonian.  The Pluto tour is guaranteed to include thousands of purp-addled concertgoers slurring together syllables as they try desperately to sing along, and I want to be a part of this.

Triple F Life: Friends, Fans and Family, Waka Flocka Flame, June 12

Friends?  Fans?  Family?  These motifs don’t exactly scream “FLOCKA”, let alone “Brick Squad” or “Oh Let’s Do It.”  Is a mellow, contemplative Flocka the natural byproduct of frequent collaborator/friend Slim Dunkin’s death?  Probably.  But if I wanted to hear songs about friends and family, I’d go to church, not the trap house.  On a positive note, it’ll be fun to tally the number of times “Damn son, where’d you find this?” appears.

Related: Is anyone else slightly confused by the Brick Squad cardinal and Hollister seagull’s shared resemblance?

Cleveland Browns Training Camp, July-August

The highlight of my training camp experience last year was asking Titus Brown if he actually matriculated to Go Ham University to pursue an advanced degree in Hamanology (a claim that he had tweeted months earlier).  A gleeful Titus confirmed my suspicions with a salute.  That’s respect!  This season, I plan to make at least one Nevin Shapiro joke to Travis Benjamin, find out what Thaddeus Lewis looks like, and hopefully see Tank (and Shaq) again:

Things I’m Not Excited For

The Dark Knight Rises, July 31

In 2008, I likened The Dark Knight to the career of Tupac or Biggie—that is, the art became overshadowed and consequently overrated by a death.  If Biggie still graced the earth with his girth, people wouldn’t fawn over “Big Poppa’s” lyricism; if Heath Ledger was breathing in 2012, his performance as the Joker wouldn’t have been nearly as acclaimed.  However, Ledger’s acting was good (above average, even) and will be sorely missed in the third installment of this series.  Anne Hathaway, really?

Miami Heat Winning an NBA Title, June

SMH!