Emmy awarded to documentary produced in partnership with Syracuse’s Onondaga Historical Association

Jim Tucker of the 1955 Syracuse Nationals NBA Championship team held the record for fastest recorded triple-double in a game in NBA history for 63 years. His story was told in Readily Apparent Media’s 2017 film “Let ‘Em Know You’re There: The Story of Big Jim and the Triple Double.” The film won a Regional Emmy Award Saturday evening for the Mid-Atlantic Region in the One-Time Sports Special category.

Most, if not all sports fans know the incredible story of Jackie Robinson’s role in integrating Major League Baseball. But what about Tucker and his teammate Earl Lloyd?

Although Tucker didn’t play a ton of minutes on the Nationals Championship team, he is notable alongside Lloyd as the first Black NBA players to win the NBA title.

After three years in the NBA, Tucker went on to have a successful career as a corporate executive with Pillsbury, which may be an even more amazing feat considering that he grew up during the Jim Crow-era. Tucker is currently battling Alzheimer’s, a fight which is explored in the film and parallels to how his story has been nearly forgotten among basketball history.

The film was directed by Field Humphrey and produced with his team at Readily Apparent Media, including producers Patrick Newman and Ben Altenberg. Over the phone, Humphrey and Newman discussed their excitement to have a hand in memorializing Tucker’s life for his family and for the city of Syracuse.

Humphrey has been friends with Tucker’s grandson for years and decided along with Newman to take on this story as their company’s first project. They felt the need to bring Tucker’s wife, Jan, into the film because of how the couple has learned to cope with Jim’s disease: with old basketball photos and reminders of a life lived that is slowly being forgotten.

“Part of the ethos of Readily Apparent, when we started this, we wanted to make films that really spoke to important topics about life,” Newman said. “So, once we had that talk with Jim and Jan, and they let us know what they were going through, we thought it was important to touch on this human theme that we learned through our time with them.”

The Onondaga Historical Association (OHA) also received production credits. Executive Director of OHA Gregg Tripoli, a credited co-producer on the film, was in Pittsburgh to accept the Emmy award. He noted he will donate the award to the OHA.

“We’re thrilled to be able to shed light on his story and on this remarkable man,” Tripoli said about Tucker. “And what he contributed to the world and how his life is such an inspiration for people.”

Tripoli mentioned the importance of Tucker’s story to integral members of the African-American community here in Syracuse, such as Manny Breland, who also appears in the film.

Breland, the first African-American to receive a basketball scholarship to Syracuse University, noted in the film how Lloyd and Tucker were major role models to him. Although Tucker was mostly a bench player, he served as an inspiration for young men like Breland after signing with the Nationals and recording his triple-double record at Syracuse’s War Memorial Arena.

A triple-double occurs when a player records double digits in three categories in one game. In Tucker’s case, he had 12 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists in just 17 minutes after coming off the bench against the New York Knicks. Tucker held that record for 63 years until it was broken in 2018 by Denver Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic, who also makes an appearance in the film.

“Sorry for ruining your film,” Jokic jokingly said to the filmmakers during their interview.

“Let ‘Em Know You’re There” immortalizes Tucker and how the 1955 Nationals team changed basketball forever.

“We’re all just so excited that Jim’s getting one more trophy,” Humphrey said.

Watch the film on Amazon here

— Article by Matthew Ryan Geraci, The Stand Staff Reporter

Story originally published on The South Side Stand. Link here: https://mysouthsidestand.com/more-news/local-honor/

 

Fast Times at American High

“Shouldn’t you be filming this audition?” The nervous actress-hopeful asked me with a look of pure confusion. “I mean, how will they know if I’m really good?”

“Uh, well, actually if you’re really good, then I’m just gonna mark it down on this little notepad here and, um, then we’ll know. And then we’ll let you know. Ok, should we start?”

In July of 2019, I went to report on and write a story about a new local film production company called American High, which is based in little old Liverpool, NY. The company’s mission is to create classic, R-rated, high-school based comedies reminiscent of the John Hughes-era films of the 80s. This is a story of how, within one hour, I turned from a news reporter to a talent scout in charge of an auditioning room.

Throughout all of our lives, both good and bad things will happen to us. If we spend too much time thinking about why they’re happening, the good ones will surely pass us by.

The anxiety was kicking in to extreme-o levels and I was ready to turn the Jeep around and head home.

‘Fuck it. No chance I’m talking to anyone of any importance here. And even if I do, I’ll blow it some way. For sure.’

So, I drove away from the high school-turned film production site known as Syracuse Studios and pulled into the parking lot of a nearby Dunkin’ Donuts. For some reason my nerves love taking shits and then drinking coffee. It’s a vicious cycle.

But after I had relieved myself and slurped half of the iced coffee plus an espresso shot down, I knew I had to go back.

When I returned to the building, my parking spot was gone and the line from the entrance of the ‘school’ had poured out to the front sidewalk and around the block. There were a few hundred hopeful background extras here, maybe a couple thousand.

Here in Liverpool, NY, just north of Syracuse, local actor wannabes were working on their vocals and practicing lines from their favorite movies, ready to be thrust into the next Hollywood film from American High founder Jeremy Garelick and his team.

I wasn’t here as an actor, but as a journalist. Finally gathering myself and preparing to interview some of the locals waiting in line about what it meant for their city to become the ‘Hollywood of the East Coast,’ I crawled out of my Jeep and approached the masses, notebook in hand.

I made it to the head of the line and peered around to see who might want to talk to a reporter – actually, who was I kidding? They would all love to pour their hearts out to a news guy, if given the shot.

Suddenly a figure emerged from the school’s front doors and leapt down the steps, meandering around the line of audition attendees. The man wearing a red, white and blue hat that read ‘American High’ and sweating through his t-shirt was a man that I immediately recognized from my research into the blossoming new film production company.

At this moment, I knew I had my shot.

You see, I was here to cover the new company and write a fluffy story about how the influx of a film industry would affect the economy and the people of Syracuse and Liverpool. But, once I learned more about American High and its mission, its early successes, and the drive of its leaders such as Garelick, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

With absolutely no experience in film, I was still cultivating just how to make that idea a reality. So, at first, I stuck with the journalist thing. I approached Garelick and explained that I was a journalism grad student at Syracuse University and that I wanted to interview him once he had wrapped up the day’s auditions. I mentioned that with the looks of the growing crowd, he might be in for a long day, but he promised he would talk to me afterwards.

Not two minutes later, he had emerged again from the building, pointed at me and waved me over.

“Hey, man, we didn’t really expect this many people to show up to the casting call today. Would you mind helping us out a little? Just pass out some of these casting sheets and make sure everyone in line gets one?”

It was at this moment I had to make a decision: Would I continue to be a reporter covering a story, or was I about to provide free labor to this sweaty guy who also happened to be a smart and successful Hollywood movie writer and creative?

Well, this story wouldn’t be nearly as fun if I stayed on as a boring old reporter would it?

After making sure that the few hundred people in line all had gotten their casting sheets, I went back up to Garelick and asked him if I could help with anything else.

“You want to conduct some auditions?” He asked me.

“I mean, I have no experience and have no idea what I’d be looking for, but I love movies so I’m sure I could figure it out.”

“Perfect. We’ll set you up in a room. All you have to do is read a few lines with them, take their picture and if they’re really awesome, then make a note of it and let us know afterwards.”

And with that, I was set up in a makeshift nurse’s office set with a few lines from American High’s newest movie.

I’m truly a lucky individual and have been given so much in my life and had the opportunities to experience life in wild ways. I’ve jumped out of a plane, lived in the Rocky Mountains and survived the ‘riots’ that encompassed the University of Dayton’s historic Elite 8 run in 2014.

But never have I felt the rush of intense energy, happiness and excitement that I felt that day. I’ve always wanted to create, and, with my abilities, that’s mostly meant in the writing world. However, making movies or even writing movie scripts was never a thought that had honestly crossed my mind. Now, it’s often all I can think about.

The team at American High is now in the throes of their newest film. They’ve already created five feature films, not to mention a show on Netflix. They’re serious about their craft and although I haven’t seen a single scene from one of their movies (since they haven’t been released yet), I have a feeling that each film will be heartfelt and genuine… and hopefully a bit raunchy, too.

Heartfelt and genuine. That was the vibe I got that day from my few hours spent at an American High casting call. That’s the vibe I will continue projecting into the universe regardless of where my career takes me. And from my brief interactions with some of American High’s team, I think they’re going to keep that vibe as well.

Syracuse UFO statisticians making headlines

SYRACUSE, N.Y. –  A new method of studying unidentified flying objects has worked its way into national news outlets in recent years. Syracuse-based data statisticians Cheryl and Linda Costa hope the headlines will keep rolling long after the 2017 release of their book, “UFO Sightings Desk Reference.”

The Costas don’t claim to know what aliens look like or even that any of the 146,801 reported sightings in the U.S. from 2001-2018 are otherworldly. Of those sightings, 6,217 occurred in New York, the state with the fifth-most reported sightings in the country. The authors looked only at dates, times, locations and UFO shapes of all reported sightings.

They also created algorithms to separate sightings down to the state, city and county. Through the research they’ve learned that many UFO spotters are dog walkers and smokers and that sightings often occur near large bodies of water. The data-based approach is the first of its kind when it comes to UFO studies.

Linda Miller Costa worked in Washington, D.C., for 35 years as a science research librarian, and recounted frustration with the science-world’s resistance to UFO research.

“It was time we bring ufology into the modern age,” she said.

For a year, the Costas dissected each report from two organizations: the Mutual UFO Network and the National UFO Reporting Center.

As a result, their work was featured in a New York Times article, written in 2017 by Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Ralph Blumenthal.

Cheryl Costa, who wrote a column for the past six years covering UFOs in the Syracuse New Times, hasn’t always been a UFO data statistician. A military veteran and retired aerospace security engineer, Costa noticed a change in media approaches to extraterrestrials.

Society once overwhelmingly feared the idea of otherworldly beings, partially due to the panic-inducing 1938 national radio broadcast of a seemingly realistic alien-invasion in Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds.” Now that “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” exist, among many other productions, pop-fiction aliens are widely revered. Even with all the interest, most government and media entities have stayed wary of commenting on the topic.

So why has it taken a new approach to spark journalistic interest in UFOs?

“No one wants to be painted with the stigma stick,” Cheryl said of the assumption of tin foil-hat wearing for anyone willing to explore the topic publicly.

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Recently, the Costas held the first ever UFO Town Hall in Homer, NY, 30 miles south of Syracuse. The event gave residents a chance to discuss their UFO sightings and allowed the Costas to explain their research.

Do the numbers mean each of the 100,000-plus sightings are confirmed aliens? According to the Costas, at least 70% are most likely “junk.”

Homer local Pierre Beaudry suggested something else that could be to blame for some of those reports.

Citing an idea known as “broadcast theory,” Beaudry said, “Light is being reflected into the sky, which is then being reflected back to Earth.”

Regardless of what these sightings truly are, the Costas hope people will keep talking about them.

Pet food from the heart

IMG_E6343SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The Westcott Community Center in Syracuse was filled with a scent that pet owners know too well on Saturday afternoon – pet food. Volunteers from the Kia Foundation Inc. lugged in 2,000 pounds of food and supplies for their latest monthly giveaway since the company’s inception in September 2018.

A line of pet owners compiled at the door and stretched to the street. Inside, The Kia Foundation’s founder, Sam Washington, pointed at the lack of pet resources in Syracuse. For some people in financial distress, a beloved pet may be all they have.

“It started from a love of animals,” Washington said, recounting the passing of his dog Kia, a Shar Pei and Pitbull mix, in 2009 when medical options became too expensive.

Now, Washington and his wife Kate Berry, the program’s director, have created a nonprofit 501(c)(3) that provides a platform to help dog owners. The organization holds monthly events and delivers food to immobile pet owners meeting certain qualifications.

Back in line, some people were individual pet owners; some were foster or rescue home owners who use the free food for their own pets while spending money to take care of the animals they provide shelter for. Whether they saw the event online or just happened to be walking by, people came in droves.

Sara Allen got a ride from her hometown of Fulton, 30 miles away, to attend her third giveaway. She uses the food to feed her own pets, while spending her own money to take care of feral cats in her neighborhood. After waiting in line outside, Allen walked into the building and looked around at the tables, which overflowed with pet food and toys.

“There’s several generations of pet helpers right in this room,” she said as she looked at Washington’s five young children, seated behind the tables to help pass out supplies.

Washington’s oldest son, Sam jr., 16, showed videos of the family at their house scooping food into bags to prepare for the event. Although Washington and Berry both work full-time jobs, they always find time for giving back.

“It doesn’t even feel like work when you’re helping out the community, and we’ve identified a need that hasn’t been identified before,” Berry said about juggling their busy schedules. The family discovered the lack of pet services here in Syracuse; now, as an organization, they’re helping to fill that void.

 

50 Quick

In a flash, he grabbed me by my metal mask and pulled my head-filled helmet towards his beat red face. As he looked into my eyes, I started pondering the aggressive nature of this sport and how it makes those who are leading and not playing into even angrier specimens than it does to us who are actually on the field. I mentally prepared to receive the information that I would relay to my huddled teammates. My thoughts raced to my family up in the stands. Raced to the images of my brother, the linebacker and captain of his team, making a big tackle to win the game. Raced to my inability to do anything well. It’s amazing how long moments like these drag on when you take a second to think back to the situation.

I fully expected a play-call like 34 Iso or 28 Dash, which were both running plays. We were on the one yard line of a wet and mud-riddled grass field and there was no way our coach trusted the little guy playing third-string quarterback to sling it to me at wide receiver – and no way he trusted me to catch the football. But, after staring into my eyes for an uncomfortable amount of time, he whispered “50 Quick” through the metal shield and into my ear. Immediately, I turned away and started sprinting towards my squadron, who were anxiously awaiting my arrival just a yard from a touch down.

‘Thank God he called a run,’ I thought to myself as I jogged slow-motion-like across the field. ‘Hey, no he didn’t you twat,’ my conscience reminded me as I almost spoke the words of one of our common run plays. ‘We run the ball 85% of the time and I get maybe five plays per game and yet, this asshole calls a pass to me? To ME?’ I began arguing in my head, deciding if should tell them the real call, or just make something up.

When I came to, I noticed that there were ten boys wearing black and gold, mud-stained uniforms staring at me like a girl who had just walked into our all-boys high school. Just ten yards away, our opponent’s bright red jerseys contrasted with ours, though the mud splattering added a nice level of unison between teams in a sport in which the main goal is to kill each other.

“What’s the play you idiot?” Matt #2, the tiny quarterback asked me dearly.

“Uh, uhhh, he called 50 Quick,” I responded with great confidence.

Silence. Stunned faces. “Well, shit, alright, BREAK!!!”

The eleven of us lined up. It was late in the season and we were down a touchdown to the best team on our schedule late in the game. The weather was cold and rainy on the field at McQuaid Jesuit that day and the first and second string teams hadn’t played well, meaning that myself on third string was actually in a game on the line. And the coach picked a damn pass play on fourth down to me!?!

Once I left the huddle it was over pretty quick, quicker than everything else had gone by at least. Matt #2 called “HIKE” and our center snapped the ball. I took two steps into the end zone, then stutter-stepped, turned towards my quarterback and hopped back a yard to my right. The ball wiggled around in the air as it made its way towards my face. I reached my hands out, thinking to myself, ‘Holy shit, this might actually work.’ It didn’t.

The ball went straight through my fingertips, hit me directly in the face-mask and bounced dishearteningly to the grass as the red cornerback laid into me, doubling my sense of failure. After the whistle blew and the defender picked himself up off of me to celebrate with his teammates, I lay defeated in the mud. My teammates all walked towards our sideline as I lay there, knowing I had blown my only chance to score a touchdown. It was then that I made a promise to myself that if I was ever given an opportunity, I would give it everything my heart could produce.

It’s been ten years since I wrote that story about a middle school football game in which I played and ultimately realized that football wasn’t for me. It turned out that the sports avenue didn’t work out for me (at least not with me on the field). I didn’t give it all that I had and I didn’t keep the promise to myself about running with every opportunity that came my way. In fact, my next few years were spent in a hermit-like, depressive state in which I just wished that I was more athletic and in better shape, without wanting to work and make the changes for myself. After high school, I rediscovered my love for sport. Majoring in Sport Management at the University of Dayton reinvented my belief in the power of sport for good.

Now I will not lie, I learned plenty about the negative aspect of sports as well; the divisiveness, the outdated traditions, the unequal access to sport, the corruptness of major sport corporations. There’s plenty of bad in sport just as there is bad in any other topic in this world. It’s the human nature of sport that brings both its beauty and its ugliness. But one thing that cannot be negated is that sport absolutely brings people together. People of all backgrounds, racial, ethnic, economic and social are able to take solace in a simple game of pepper with a soccer ball, HORSE on the basketball court, or hitting in the batting cages, lacing up the skates, strapping on the skis, whatever your flavor, you name it.

Because of sports we have incredible stories, like Pat Tillman forgoing a lucrative career to fight for his country, the Williams sisters bolstering themselves from a rough neighborhood and becoming world-renowned athletes thanks in part to a dedicated father, or Jesse Owens looking Hitler’s evil directly in the face and standing tall. That’s not to mention the tons of global and local foundations and tournaments that bring people together annually in order to support great causes. There are also countless examples of sports events that connected people following tragedies. What comes to mind for me is the New York Yankees and the 2001 World Series. An organization that is generally despised among baseball fans responded to a rallying cry from the entire nation by winning three straight games at home to ignite a torn-apart city of New York in the aftermath of 9/11.

On the contrary, sports are also tied to infamous events throughout history. No doubt about it, the human nature of sports is what creates these earth-shattering moments in the same manner in which they create the lifting moments listed previously. For some examples we have Russia cheating in the Olympics, a plethora of current NCAA schools becoming exposed in the illegal recruiting atmosphere, and sick men who took advantage of embarrassingly lackadaisical athletic situations such as Larry Nassar and Jerry Sandusky. Human nature for some is to destroy things, so it only makes sense that some of this destruction is going to find its way into sports.

Today, in 2018, an exciting time for discussing sports and the ways in which it affects and is affected by various media entities and societal cultures throughout the world is upon us. As technology continues to be improved upon and implemented in sport and as an increasing number of athletes begin using their voice as a tool for social change, the media world has never had more stones to turn over, more mossy abysses to dissect. There is so much substance in the sports world and so many intersections with other entities and subjects.

The debates could rage on forever: Is the National Anthem and the American Flag an appropriate time and tool, respectively, to use as a form of protest? Should NCAA student-athletes who are partially responsible for bringing in huge amounts of revenue for their schools be allowed to receive income for their roles? Do you take Michael or Lebron with your first pick? It is issues such as these ones that define the importance of the sports world in a greater sense of our society. Oh, and also, sports just help make life a little more fun and exciting – a couple things that everyone could use.

It is issues such as these ones that deserve our attention; issues and stories that need to be explored and expounded upon for the purpose of finding the underlying human lessons and challenges that can bring people together. From here on out, I will be devoting my life to undertaking these expeditions that must be a key to finding life’s true purpose. Well, probably not, but I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do.

 

MR.G

Malcolm McCormick, A.K.A. Mac Miller: The Evolution of an Artist and a Journey Down the Rabbit Hole

He pulled out an acoustic guitar and began playing songs that everyone in the crowd knew – very famous songs, but they weren’t his, of course. Waterstreet Music Hall in downtown Rochester, NY was jam-packed with stoned white kids from the surrounding suburbs ready to see Mac Miller, the stereotypical, yet inaptly called “frat-pack” rapper, perform his newest album, Blue Slide Park. Without much of an ear for instrumental talent, I couldn’t tell if he was any good at guitar, but the fact that he was playing it seemed off par with how I had expected the evening to go – I mean, he’s a rapper, what’s he doing with a guitar? Seven years later and I now love and appreciate that I witnessed him pulling out his strings and belting out songs like “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

Two years ago on this very same day – the day of the dead and the disguised – I watched Mac Miller perform in the most perfect venue that nature has gifted us: Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado. It was a strange night for me on a personal level and that concert solidified to me that Mac Miller (real name Malcolm McCormick) is a consummate creator and a major influencer in my life. To watch an artist who had tweaked and worked tirelessly at his craft go from performing at a location that holds no more than 1,000 patrons to a world-renowned music venue that holds ten times that amount is a truly magical experience. From that day in Rochester to the chilly evening on the front slopes of the Rocky Mountains, nothing had changed in the energy levels of McCormick’s performance; he was an artist and a professional through and through.

Today I watch nearly twenty artists in an unmatched concert in a celebratory dedication to that same Mac Miller that has captured my attention for the past seven-plus years. The music world can be a difficult place for some to find meaningful connections. I mean these are rich rockstars for fucksake, what do we have in common with any of them? Well, not much. But once in a fateful and goosebump-inducing indigo moon do we stumble upon a creative person – an artist who works a way into our soul in a funny sort of way. A sort of way that doesn’t quite feel right because it’s about a person who I will never meet or get to know, but through his music it’s almost as if I can see through into his soul. With his creations, his music, he has provided us a glimpse into a beautiful and troubled human being.

I just witnessed one of the greatest musical artists of my time, John Mayer, cover a recent Mac Miller song called “Small Worlds.” Before beginning the performance, Mayer recalls a story in which Miller discussed how nervous he was before performing the same song at LA hot spot Hotel Cafe. Mayer then goes on to say how nervous he is now before dedicating his rendition to the late Miller. Mayer’s performance ends with a touchingly introspective verse from Miller in which he asks, “Do you want it all if it’s all mediocre?” In the background, Mayer shreds on his guitar before belting into a rendition of his own song, “Gravity.”
John Mayer was at least the fifteenth performer and he certainly was not the last, which just goes to show the impact that Miller has left on the music world. All the while that the likes of Anderson .Paak, Chance the Rapper, Schoolboy Q, Thundercat, and Miguel serenaded the stage, a foundation in Miller’s name was receiving over $20,000 in donations. The Mac Miller Circles Fund at the Pittsburgh Foundation of Miller’s hometown is dedicated to supporting youth arts and community-building programs in Mac Miller’s memory.

Of course, the reason for this collaborative concert at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles brings to mind harrowing elephant in the concert hall. McCormick battled his demons constantly over his spaced up, or trapped-out, or jazzy beats throughout the course of his career. Drug addiction was the consistent devil on his shoulder and, ultimately, led to his demise; a situation that was discussed a number of times on most of his albums and mixtapes. Over his 10 years in the limelight he went from the top charts of the US Independent Music scene to a near top of the charts artist at major label Warner Brothers; but his drug usage became an increasingly more persistent subject as his albums evolved.

At just fifteen years old, Malcolm Mccormick gave himself a moniker that was ultimately scrapped due to its super-duper cheesiness: EZ Mac. Under this name his first tape was released: But My Mackin’ Ain’t Easy. After switching up his stage name to Mac Miller, the one he would stick with, the next two mixtapes came out in 2009, first Jukebox: Prelude to Class Clown and then The High Life.

In 2010, Miller rose to the underground, YouTube-driven hip-hop scene with his widely acclaimed and fame-inducing classic, K.I.D.S. (Kicking Incredibly Dope Shit). This free album featured Miller’s own version of an old school hip-hop Lord Finesse song, titled “Hip 2 Da Game.” The K.I.D.S. rapper entitled his own version “Kool Aid and Frozen Pizza,” set to the sample of Lord Finesse’s hit. At the time of Miller’s first big successful release, this track would go a long way in proving to hip hop heads, or connoisseurs of the art form, that Mac Miller knew his history and respected the origins of the music scene he was entering. Just a couple of years and a settled lawsuit later, it turned out that Lord Finesse did not feel the same way about Miller’s use of his beat as many other hip hop fans and critics.

The year after the release of K.I.D.S., Miller had created yet another successful project in the form of Blue Slide Park, his first studio album, which was released independently through Pittsburgh based label, Rostrum Records. Nostalgically named after a childhood playground in his Pennsylvania hometown, the album would go on to be certified Gold by the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) after becoming the first independent album to debut at #1 on the US Billboard 200 chart. The album explored some introspective themes, such as love and sexuality, as well as the life changes brought on by his newfound fame. In the limelight however, were the tape’s party and ‘hip-pop’ hits like “Donald Trump.”

The beautiful thing about Mac Miller as an artist and a consummate professional was his work ethic, which included an unwavering thirst for improving and experimenting with his sound. From The High Life to K.I.D.S to his next few mixtape which included I Love Life, Thank You and the psychedelic, Beatles-inspired, and inward-searching beats and lyrics of Macadelic. Prior to the release of Macadelic, much of Miller’s music had either an old school hip-hop vibe or painted scenes of high school parties and bongs being cleared in somebody’s parents’ bedroom. To those who listened closer to Miller’s music and found hidden tracks and unreleased music of his, it was clear that his introspective lyrics went back to the early days of his musical creation, but, Macadelic was the first time he had put his inner struggles into a full-length project.

From there came the signing with Warner Brothers – a deal worth $10 million that also included backing for his new label, REMember Records, featuring the initials of a departed childhood friend of Miller’s. Around this time, a Los Angeles mansion and a customized record studio inside of that mansion’s pool house became Miller’s new music paradise for the next couple of years. As he tore through California’s music scene set on creating music every day and working with a wide array of talented artists, he continued to gain respect as an artist, and notoriety as a partier.

And yet, the music never stopped. Although the music world may never know just how many creations were founded in the pool house studio where he often collaborated with the likes of L.A. based crews, Odd Future and Top Dawg Entertainment, in addition to a large repertoire of talented musicians. Over these years, Miller developed a dependence on codeine-based lean, but, also continued to pump out music, spending days and weeks at a time tweaking pitches and instrumentals and lyrics, until his final product sounded just right.

After signing his deal with a major label, Miller would go on to drop three studio albums before his untimely death in 2018. Before any of those came out, the eleventh and final free mixtape that would be released by the artist was shown to the world in 2014. Faces was one of the lengthiest projects that Mac Miller would release and was noted for being one of his best pieces of work, as the free album delved deeply into his issues with drug abuse.

In 2016, a new jazz-influenced sound was experimented with on The Divine Feminine, an album that was created and released in the midst of his relationship with pop-star Arianna Grande. Shortly after their breakup, it became evident that Miller was having tough times adjusting to his new life sans Grande. In May 2018, he crashed his Mercedes Benz G-Wagon into a pole, fled the scene, and was later arrested for DUI.

What would turn out to be his final album, Swimming, appeared to showcase that although he had come close to drowning in the past, his body now floated, and he was able to swim. Throughout the 13-song album, he speaks about taking care of oneself and made it seem through his lyrics that he was here for good. Not only was he here, but his music continued to evolve and improve, as he experimented with new sounds and different artists. Unfortunately, it turned out that Miller may not have been doing as well as his fans had hoped. On September 7th, 2018, he was found unresponsive in his home in Studio City, LA, where he was pronounced dead at the scene. Toxicology reports would later reveal that a lethal dose of cocaine, fentanyl, and alcohol were present in his blood stream. The deadly fentanyl had taken yet another life too soon. Miller’s newest album has been nominated for The Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. Upon the news of his death, the darker undertones of Swimming’s lyrics become much more harrowing and evident as he sings in the very first song, entitled Come Back to Earth, “I just need a way out, of my head. I’d do anything for a way out, of my head.”

There are countless songs in Mac Miller’s repertoire that touch on the possibility of an early death in his future. He constantly pondered the idea of going to sleep and not waking up again. He recounted the fear in his father’s voice on the phone that it could be their last conversation. It is clear that he recognized the problem with drugs that he had battled, considering the way in which he talked about it in interviews and his music. At the same time, he cherished his moments on this earth and made the effort to create and do as much as he possibly could while he was standing on it.

The last words here will be from the man this article is all about. At some point in his final weeks, he took out his phone and set it up to capture himself on the piano as he debuted his rendition of a new, unheard song. At the Mac Miller tribute concert, as all of the performers had wrapped up their songs and their words of recognition, the large video screen suddenly changed from black to Mac. His phone camera was on and his tattoo-covered arms began typing away at the black and white keys in front of him. The video is a perfect example of watching a person put his heart and soul into his craft, as you can feel the pain in his voice as he sings “I wonder do they see their own reflection in the mirror, and look away?”

“Once a day I rise.
Once a day I fall asleep with you.
Once a day I try, but I can’t find a single word.”

Baseball: Where we’ve been, where we are and where we’re headed

As I sit here watching a seven-plus hour World Series Game between the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers at 1:00 AM MST, I can’t help but think about how baseball has changed over the years and how it will change in the future. Not sure if you’ve heard, but baseball has some strange things going on nowadays. Now look, I’m the biggest baseball fan around – I mean, I watched all 162 games that the New York Yankees played this year (please disregard Mom and Dad, the job search is going swell).

But, and this is a hard but, and also a soft but at the same time: baseball is a lot different than it used to be. In today’s game, there are replay challenges that get looked at by some guy in some office in New York who must sleep on the job an awful lot considering it often takes ten minutes to make a call that fans at home figured out on the first replay. There aren’t any more aggressive styles of play or small ball tactics like safety squeeze bunts. No more collisions at the plate or strong slides to break up a double play.

Actually, I take that back because batters are a lot more aggressive; they either hit a home run or strike out. I haven’t seen a double in three seasons. At least it seems that way. And did I mention that the baseballs, not the players, are juiced up now so that they’ll fly farther? It’s hard to blame Major League hitters or the baseball juice scientists. Every pitcher throws the ball 100+ mph with ridiculous movement nowadays; hitters need all the help they can get. And as if the pitchers need more help, everything goes by the numbers now which means that infielders play the wrong positions to cut down on well placed singles.

So here’s the thing: if you think the new age baseball is weird and unattractive to young generations, just wait for what baseball is to become in the future. Take a look at the history of baseball with me and see if you can hop on board to the future of this brilliant sport.

Pre-1900s:


Honestly, who cares? You don’t know any names, I don’t know any names. Hell, it was probably just a bunch of teenage boys beating up a homeless guy with a stick when someone suggested it might be a little more fun to use the stick to hit rocks at the guy. And WHAM! Baseball was begun. Sorry Abner Doubleday, consider me one of the doubters.

1900-1935:

It was at this time that people actually started hitting the ball over the fence. And I present: the Caliph of Clout, the Sultan of Swat, the Great Bambino, Babe Ruth!!! Thanks Sandlot.

1936 – 1962:

World War II and the integration of black players spurned on by Jackie Robinson in 1947 ends a darker era of baseball history. Oh and also the Yankees won 16 out of 27 World Series Titles during this span thanks to the likes of Mickey Mantle, Joe Dimaggio and Roger Maris. I can hear the Red Sox fans right now: ‘Hey that was 50+ years ago, how many titles do the Yankees have in the past 15 years punk?’ Actually, I’d rather not talk about it.

1963 – 1994:

Honestly, I’m not quite sure what happened during this period. You see, I was born in 1994, so I couldn’t care less about the years before that glorious one. I do know the Yanks sucked for a while and then Mr. October, Reggie Jackson made history like only a Yankee can in 1977. Also, for some reason I’ve seen a lot of footage from this era. The picture is grainy, all the players are wearing capris and theres not one mustache-less face in the dugout.

1995 – 2017:

So the Yankees got good again. Oh, I’m sorry are you getting sick of hearing about them? Too bad. Jeter’s the man and he gets five rings for the Pinstripers. Also the Sox and Cubs break some curses or something, but who cares about that? Plus, home runs became an even bigger deal than they were with the Babe. Everyone was injecting each others butts and Jose Canseco was evil-y masterminding a maniacal tattle-telling book while the MLB was pretending they had no idea that everyone was doing steroids.

2018 – 2020

As mentioned, in today’s game we have nothing but K’s and HR’s, pitchers with Popeye arms who can’t pitch for more than one inning, 100 Sammy Sosa’s, and some drunk sleeping in a New York MLB office who’s passed out every time he gets a call.
2021 – 2025:

After the 2020 World Series is won by the wrong team when an umpire makes an atrociously bad call in Game 7, MLB decides to get rid of the human factor of umpires. Enter robots making every call in a game. In the first game with robot referees, an angry Cincinnati Reds fan (probably just angry that he’s from Cincinnati), throws a beer at the robots, which destroys his mainframe delaying the game for five hours before a replacement robot could be delivered. New rule from the MLB: no more alcohol in the stands.

2026 – 2035:

The alcohol rule turns out to be a terribly unpopular decision and the MLB quickly reverses course on that subject. As President Donald Trump Jr. (who has gotten plastic surgery to look just as orange and stupid as his father, not that he needed much help) continues to praise violence in the country, MLB adapts their rules to please their ruler. Whiffle ball rules are now effective in the game of baseball. What this means is that the defense can now get runners out by pelting them with the ball. Mass injuries and subsequent entertainment ensue.
2035 – 2050:

Baseball has again become the most popular sport in the US as the game ball is now replaced with a hand grenade. Baseball stadiums now have armed guards to make sure that no players or fans attempt to leave the stadium as President Trump Jr. looks on in approval, giving a thumbs up or down to a pitcher as to when he can pull the grenade’s pin – very Roman Emperor-esque and resulting in some very interesting and bloody foul balls and home runs.
So now you see, if you just give it some time, baseball will get injected with some good old-fashioned violence and blood-shed that the American people are begging and literally dying for and will become a beloved sport yet again.

 

MR.G