Sports Culture

No one asked for my opinion on sports but here it is anyways.

FOR ME recreational activity that included any type of ball movement or hand eye coordination was something only posterized in U-12 AYSO action shots. Athleticism was never a describing characteristic nor a passion. But in the past four to five years, having not played a sport since I was 15 (I’m 26), I became a spectator and ultimately, a consumer in sports capitalism.

In the first half of my twentieth century decade I admit I was only interested in sports because I was day drinking at live events with ex boyfriends. But now in my middle aged twenties I can truly affirm that I love the Rams, I love the Dodgers, I love the Lakers, I am torn between Real Madrid and Juventus; I hate the Angels, I hate the Warriors, and I absolutely hate with all my heart FC Barcelona.

Now its hard to break away from that “she only likes that team because that’s her boyfriend’s team” thing BUT a girl is trying.

I would like to say however Los Angeles teams are very near and dear to my heart, refer to Los Angeles, I love you.


In the beginning, God created man. Man in return, created football. Yes, American football and yes, fútbol. Man then became obsessed and confrontational in pop warner and then in high school and especially in college. When that wasn’t enough, man gave us the NFL to help every other grown man express their emotions by crying, laughing, hollering, and even degrading their professional football team or becoming a professional athlete.

As you know, in many ways the National Football League is problematic. 1) It turned peaceful protesting of police brutality into messy ass drama that has since been misconstrued indefinitely. 2) It has a very lenient protocol on misogyny and harsh punishments on cannabis. 3) It has proven brain damage in its athletes across the board and now is endangering retired professionals into obesity.

The list is mini but also mighty. Oh and lets not exclude how NFL cheerleaders are also underpaid and overworked. If dancing/cheering has always been side by side with football, then why don’t cheerleaders earn a living income when they go professional?

But the game must go on. For the people. For those who believe in faith, family, and football. But I digress. Once the Rams made it to the Super Bowl, I was the first to post on my my story about how we deserved this after a brutal call in last year’s playoff game against the Saints. I was also the first to to be the “WooHoo” girl in Denver against the Broncos when my boyfriend’s family didn’t know what they were getting into when they invited me. Not to mention, I was also on the cusp of kicking some Eagles’ fan ass when she kept yelling WHOSE HOUSE after they beat us at home when they weren’t even nearing the postseason.

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The NBA, however has treated me differently. When the Lakers starting five once consisted of Tarik Black, Jordan Clarkson, Wesley Johnson, Ryan Kelly and Jeremy Lin, I was writing game recaps for an internship I don’t even know how I got. For the most part it was written word vomit as I didn’t quite know how to organize my thoughts just yet. But I became very decent at writing briefs on player’s haircuts. When I worked at a restaurant during Kobe’s last game, my tables and I bonded over what essentially became his Yard House retirement party. The shots were ordered, the 60-points were dropped, the tears were flowing from the bar patrons. Is was the ending of one era and the soon to be beginning of anew. The day we drafted Lebron James, most of Los Angeles was torn down the middle but I was ecstatic. Thank you LeBron James for exposing America for what it is. Athletes are citizens of this world and have every right to express their views, so please continue to negate how players should just “shut up and dribble.” LBJ has provided more opportunities for students in Akron, Ohio than the president has to this country, i.e. Betsy Devos. And dare I say, he’s even reigniting showtime in the purple and gold?

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Honestly, I don’t even want to talk about the Dodgers.

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Last but not least, the sport I love most, soccer. Or maybe just Cristiano Ronaldo. And maybe just European soccer after-the-fact.

I lived a good life being a Real Madrid fan. Things were simple and easy-going, los merengues were winning back to back to back Champions League, and hey, even threw in a Liga title before Zidane made his debut. I attended a live game at the Bernebau and did the Ronaldo “SIUUUUUUU” when a last minute header saw the back of the net. I was in Spain when Portugal won the Euros against France. I had bragging rights over PSG, Juventus and Barcelona. But most importantly, I saw Ronaldo win his fifth Ballon d’Or.. rejected Messi’s quest for his sixth. I was happy. Enlightened. Euphoric.

Then like a soccer ball to the nuts, Ronaldo leaves Real Madrid to join Juventus… only months after scoring a bicycle kick against their beloved Buffon. But I can’t hate. The Italians were in the stands giving the GOAT a standing ovation. A spectacle and contender for UEFA’s Goal of the Season. I was at a bar in Universal Studios with my Messi-loving boyfriend, I was losing my sh*t.

Now we (me) are Forza Juve, but still wish the best for Madrid. Still have no luck with my Mexican national team. But things are looking up in L.A., considering what LAFC has cooking up next season….


What is a true fan? What separates a know-it-all “name me five players” from someone who genuinely cares about a team’s advancement towards a championship? The answer is class. Sometimes fans aren’t born into families where sports were practiced every weekend or had parties for the Super Bowl. Sometimes we tag along a little later in life and we learn by watching, listening, and even reading if we never had those opportunities to physically play growing up.

I love sports. I love it so much that sometimes I still cant believe that I actually give my money to these people. It

Below is an actual video of how it feels like to talk to me when discussing sports.

 

Down in Louisiana

From the still bayous to the red clay farms of Louisiana, from the end of the Mississippi River to the nearby edge of Texas, down in New Orleans and up to Shreveport- the south is undeniably.. a paradise.

Not for its obsession of Chick-fil-A or football, nor for it’s love of the onslaught of innocent animals, but for its simplicity of life in the sweet state of Louisiana.

After a weeks worth of time in the two polar cities, the south had confirmed what I already knew, that I am and always will be, a city girl.

But in retrospect, I am thankful to have gotten so far away from all the noise of New York.

 

Shreveport was the city to wake up to. Late October rain fell throughout the neighborhoods in ready preparation for the town’s upcoming Halloween festivities. Overnight you somehow knew that the deer were traveling back to their nests and the other furry critters were curled up in a hole somewhere. An early morning sunlight broke through whatever clouds were left over and exposed the precipitation hanging onto splinters of grass. The roads were long, the streets were empty and all the lifted trucks slept through the night before rattling their engines again in the morning. It was a place for comfort.

What I learned in Shreveport was the importance, and necessity, of valuing your family. And in this particular experience, the bigger the better. Nothing was better than spending time with your loved ones in an intimate setting… even if it was at an ax throwing bar… or Deja Vu. Nonetheless, the four-generation of the Figueroa bloodline was enough entertainment already. 

In the Big Easy however, I died and resurrected again night after night thanks to Bourbon Street. When in Louisiana, you must do as the Louisianians do and that is drink copious amount of daiquiris until you see your shrimp and grits regurgitated in the bathroom. But one must go on if you were to go to the Superdome the next day, which we did. As on honorary Saints fan for 2.5 hours, I lost myself in the creole accent and you know I had to yell WHO DAT with the lady sitting next to me.

I was there for a good time, not a long time.

And if it was anything these ragin’ Cajuns knew, it was how to properly deep fry a gator. It was a blessing to taste food from where it originated. Nothing was better than the stuffed catfish and charbroiled oysters. A cup of jambalaya, a crawfish pie, a crab cake here and there washed down with a light beer of your choice- that was my paradise.  I would go back to Louisiana just for the food.

In my mind, an image of a tomato lives so loudly and vividly. I saw it painted on a square ceramic tile in a gift shop outside of the French Quarter. I stared at the image of the red little vegetable and its green leave stemming from its navel. I wanted it, I wanted to hang it up on my kitchen with the other hand painted tiles I’ve collected from Barcelona, Solvang and Olvera Street. I wanted it for inspiration to cook new meals and use the fruit introduced by my ancestors. The ‘creole tomato’ the only souvenir I wanted from New Orleans besides a beignet from Cafe Du Monde, the souvenir I never bought- now grows in my head rooting for my return.

 

Lost in Transportation

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In another life I was born a New Yorker. I spouted from the great blue sky and fell into the crevices of the pavement like a drip of springtime rain.

I rose from the ground in an immaculate conception and there I began my life.

I was nothing before as I am nothing now, merely a composite of flesh, fat and hair.

I took a breath and inhaled polluted air of second hand smoke; I choked and tears filled my eyes knowing I didn’t belong.

I walked through the grid of lower Manhattan and found nothing. A skeleton of a city with lifeless beings one by one marching their fates away in assembly line fashion.

It was a crowded place to feel so alone.

On the platform between trains bypassed the then and now. One always moving forward and the other always moving backwards. No matter what time of day, the temperature of season, the amount of bodies waiting; always forward, backward, forward, backward. It was the only consistent object of perception.

In another life I found solace in loneliness and learned nothing and everything about me.

I was whole and empty. Growing and wilting. Loving and hating.

I was born between boroughs and had the best of both worlds.

I was neither here nor there. And that’s how I became alive.

Sound and the City

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I learned a new sound today. It was that between myself and the city.

The steps it took to march out of the subway into a new world;

The noise of a an unfamiliar chatter in a foreign tongue;

The music spilling out of each headphone setting the tone of my story.

A star crossed path in every corner,

I was impartial to its commotion.

 

Santa Barbara

I’ve been thinking about traveling lately and it came to my surprise I never divulged about my weekend in Santa Barbara.

For some reason those few days I spent in the central coast have been so vivid to me that California has been on my mind for days. Albeit I am already predisposed to yearn for my native west coast.

If it’s not for its rolling hills of green grass and sparkling beachfront views, then it’s definitely the laid back organic vibes that makes Santa Barbara, a paradise.

In the middle of February a storm was passing through Southern California, but we managed to dodge the raining bullets. Away from the traffic of the city, away from the commotion at home, away from work and everybody we know. We spent a weekend to ourselves, a staycation for our first anniversary.

In its fine detail of what is old and what is new, a Spanish town once thrived in the missions and avenidas that make up Santa Barbara’s etymology. The American Riviera of scenic landscapes that is too rich to describe but alluring in its night and day aura in an area that overlooks the Pacific ocean.

In comparison to it’s beautiful seaside housing, its downtown is just as refreshing as the crispy ocean air that glides through its corridors. Our simple night began with a bottle of wine bought from the Santa Barbara Winery, a Cabernet or Pinot Noir as our weapon of choice. For me, nothing is more intimate than sharing a moment with someone over a glass of wine; in any quiet space, in any outdoor setting, over a plate of food, whatever it is- wine is always a must. Of course however, one must transition to from red to white when seafood is involved, and seafood for me, is also always a must.

For quality and reasonably priced seafood, The Santa Barbara Fish House was our destination for dinner. We couldn’t resist the calamari nor the clam chowder, I mean come on, on beachfront cities you know you have to indulge in the ‘catch of the day.’ Cioppino for me, and spicy seafood pasta for him, a glass of wine each, all for under $100. I would definitely come here again. As I get older and become more bougie, $100 starts to seem like the adult $1. But I digress.

To retreat back to our 20-something crowd, we entered the Funk Zone, literally. It’s an area mixed with college students of nearby universities and locals who’ve never left after graduation but have managed to plant roots either through craft business or some other kind of work. This is where you come to bar hop on the weekends and eat greasy truffle fries when you’ve had one too many. We went to Figueroa Mountain Brewery, hopefully (or not) I didn’t drop too many hints there of taking that last name.

The next day we went to Solvang, the Danish Town. Ah, I was so pleased to come here on a cloudy weekend morning. To start my day off at a cute cafe drinking a vanilla latte, I was already in love with the little european town just outside of SB. Solvang is just so charming. It’s as if you were Denmark but in Central California. It’s the perfect place to spend a few hours taking pictures of its giant windmills or buying little trinkets of nordic mythology and mosaic tiles of it’s quaint cottages. One of the main reasons I wanted to go to Santa Barbara was just to see the American Danish Town in person.

The only way to send off our weekend was to have bottomless mimosas at a Mexican restaurant, which are plentiful in this city. And if you’re every in the next door town of Montecito, be sure to go to Lucky’s- a steakhouse of fine dining that makes you feel as if you were in a 1920’s Hollywood lounge.

Until next time!

 

 

Weekend With Ricky

brooklynIn between four walls, a memory laid sleeping in my bed. He was long and statuesque, he made my small room look even smaller. He was curled up in between my bed sheets and what I was hoping for for months had finally manifested; my other half joined me across the country.

Albeit it only for a weekend, it was a weekend worth telling.

Perfectly imperfect, is a good way to describe us. A duo that lusts for each other physically as much as we do mentally. A duo that fights the hardships of long distance. In a moment of weakness what was ‘We’ almost became ‘Me’ and our story would have ended on two different coasts. But alas, we did not choose the easy way out.

Together we stand, divided we fall.

On a humid August day in New York my L.A. boyfriend brought his Mexican ass to Brooklyn. Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass we sat alongside the river at an Italian restaurant. “Wine with my Wino,” he said. And I smirked at his remark. It was the first time we had seen each other in two months, the first time being able to feel something tangible; the taste of lips, the smell of cologne, the softness of hair. He accompanied me in all the bars I wanted to visit and we made our way through Downtown.

A pair of lovers found themselves in the heart of Queens at a ballpark of America. His Quest for 30 became my new baseball adventure. A roaring crowd in Citi Field faced what could be a playoff berth and Ricky and I were there to witness the Mets defeat the Nationals. But our love for sports didn’t match our love for food that night so we twirled through the city and ended up in the East Village looking for a burger. Eight out of 10 he gave his professional cheeseburger connoisseur opinion on this “In’n’Out-Shake Shack” mash up. I ordered the Mac n’ Cheese balls.

In the middle of the night, I was overcome with emotions. My sobbing had awaken Ricky and he was holding me in his arms trying to sooth my anxiety. I didn’t want him to let go. In my moment of humility he held onto me until I was asleep again and just like that my protector made me feel like I was home.

He was scheduled to leave me on Saturday, but I coaxed him to stay with me for one more night. On top of my apartment rooftop was the skyline of Manhattan. Where we spent his last night sitting and drinking wine out of two plastic cups, listening to Jay-Z smoking Maryjane. There he was, my Dodgers-loving, Lakers-loving, In-n-Out-loving, Crossfit-loving better half, sitting next to me as if I never left. Under the night sky in Brooklyn a pair of lovers found themselves in, what else? In love.

I said goodbye to him at the airport, and my heart was completely shattered. I felt that I would never see him again even though I knew it wasn’t true. In a moment’s notice he was gone from me, and again he became just another memory.

Brooklyn

BrooklynMeasured by blocks, but counted by the multitude of cultures, Brooklyn is what the city left to be untainted by gentrification.

How do I describe Brooklyn? It’s a host of prewar buildings with smaller neighbors in the borough itself. Some residential, some corporate, all connected by the A, D, F, Q, or R trains. I don’t know whether to call the homes houses or brownstones or apartments? A basement is an apartment but also the the private podiatric practice of an NYU alum. The other floors are duplex’s to be done with whatever the landlord pleases. It’s unique in every part, and probably just how you imagined it to be from the movies. Sometimes, when I’m crossing the bridge to Manhattan by train, I really think Spiderman is going to pop out of nowhere and rescue us from a bomb the Green Goblin placed underneath its tracks. But I digress.

In the middle of the Bed-Stuy neighborhood are three young professionals sharing an apartment together; a barista, a sportswear apparel agent and a broadcast associate. Between the Jewish, Chinese, African/Caribbean, Russian, Italian, Muslim, Irish, and Greek communities, a Korean, a Taiwanese and a Mexican live in apartment 3F. I’m told I got lucky moving into a rent controlled building with its own washer and dryer; I guess that’s the deal I made for having the smallest room without a window.

Geographically I don’t understand New York. My roommate explained it to me as “a floating island of trash and the homeless man’s toilet,” but I’m still speculating her observation. She was also the one who told me that I wasn’t a New Yorker until I get robbed.

New York is changing me and I don’t know what it is yet. Everything is moving so fast for me here that I don’t know what to anticipate next. Today is the Fourth of July and it’s hard for me to want to go outside and try to do something. Moving to a city where you don’t know anyone, or having the things that were easily accessible to you before makes even the smallest of tasks daunting. Mentally, I’m back at home but physically I’m on the other side of the United States. It gets lonely to be honest, but I’m trying day by day.

Brooklyn is home now and I’m here to make the best of it. I was so lucky to come to New York when I did, to work for a company that in many ways is a ‘legacy’ in my family. To be promoted within two weeks of starting work and to achieve what I came here to do; it’s unreal. In many ways, I’ve only known journalism; from writing a career report about Editor-in-Chiefs in eighth grade, to writing for my school newspaper in high school and college, to interning at a broadcast station in Los Angeles, to working alongside a senior producer in the number one market for journalism- it has been a journey. A lifetime in the making.

I never wanted to do anything on a smaller scale, I always knew it was either Los Angeles or New York, no in between. And now, these dreams are manifesting to be true. Sometimes I feel like I sacrificed everything to be here, but some steps are meant to be taken just to prove your worth.

New York, what are you doing to me!