Three Cheers for my Morose and Grieving Pals: Thirteen Years and an Evening with Brand New

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By the time this piece runs, it will have been over a month since seeing Brand New and Modest Mouse on their stop in Detroit for their co-headlining tour across the U.S. While I thought that the buffer of being somewhat removed from the experience would help bring some clarity to writing about it, and diminish the unabashed fanboy bias, it has seems that time has had little effect. While the nature of captivation and obsession has changed, I remain as enthralled with Brand New as ever.

My introduction to Brand New came at the impressionable age of 15. My friend, Mr. Jordan Ivins (holla at yo boi!), had discussed them in passing to me among a litany of other bands. At that time in life, it was hard to keep track of all the bands Jordan listened to. He was that kid everyone seems to have in their life who was the first to be fully aware of a music scene outside of what existed on local alternative radio. I secretly made a mental list of band names written on the folder for his biology homework to check out. Among bands such of Alkaline Trio, Hot Rod Circuit, Hey Mercedes, Taking Back Sunday, and Silverstein (talk about an emo-gasm) the name Brand New slipped in the under the radar among all those claiming their own stake of my young musical palate.

Late in the summer 0f 2003, while living up to the stereotype of a teenager wasting away the end of his summer watching MTV, I happened upon a music video for the single “The Quiet Things No One Ever Knows.” Having decided that music was going to be my thing (I had come to the realization early that my athletic capabilities were severely limited), I immediately went out and bought the Deja Entendu album. I took it home eager to brag to my friends about what I had just discovered. I put in the record and started from track 1 … and it just wasn’t clicking. Maybe I just hadn’t come into my own musical taste yet. Maybe I was hung up on expecting something different. Whatever it was, I did what I had done most of my life. I’d occasionally pull out the album, listen to the one single I knew, confuse hormones for destiny, then go back to a very uncomplicated life.

Fast forward six months later. I am sitting in history class. I am the only sophomore in a class full of much older juniors who are the sure path to the middle. Among the clamor of greatly exaggerated weekend romps of the baseball team, I am waiting for the clock to strike 2:15 so I could go home and greatly exaggerate how terrible my 16-year-old life was at that point. I used to carry around a big CD binder in my backpack, the kind that held 64 or so. I would pull it out of my backpack so nonchalantly you would think I was pulling out some textbook to catch up on some light reading of creative writing. Looking for some relief before I would be allowed to escape hearing Bro A telling Bro B who they tapped that weekend, I flipped through my modest collection. I came across Deja Entendu and decided to give it another go. This time, it stuck.

There are those few moments in time where you can pinpoint where things changed course. The end of 4th period on an average Tuesday in the fall of 2003 was one such time for me. I pressed play and things would never be the same. Around the bridge of “I Will Play My Game Beneath the Spin Light is where I found myself thinking, “How the hell did they think to write lyrics like this?” By days end, I think I had listened to the album three times through. Jesse Lacey and co. had found a way to explain life to me in a way that no one else could, all while putting it to a tune. In all honesty, Jesse Lacey’s lyrics is what inspired my passion for writing. I just hope my mediocrity as writer never reflects poorly on him. Given the command of the crowd a couple weeks ago, I am confident that he has inspired much better work than my few futile attempts at being a sort of new wave muse.

As I trudged the emo-adolescent hell of high school, I could always count on Brand New to validate my over reaction to perceived heart break and devastation. Being the oldest of four children, I needed some type of guide to help me navigate the illogical landscape that is the high school experience. Brand New often took the place of that older brother that I never had. I stuck with them, they stuck with me.

When I listened to The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me, it was yet another point in time where I look back and objectively say things changed for me. While the examination and reflection on coming home from a Mormon mission is another discussion for another time, the theme and feel of The Devil and God were far deeper than I had ever expected and again gave sound and voice to something very personal I was wrestling with. Up to that point, Brand New represented the angst, frustration, and humorous mellow drama of the coming-of-age experience. The Devil and God brought up themes that many of us, especially those who grew up is strong faith-oriented communities, are reluctant or even ashamed to discuss. It described that aspect of the human condition which I had never heard a band or artist even venture into attempting to describe. It also touched on some type of conflict happening within myself, realizing the full weight of the album’s departing line: “It’s hard to be a better man when you forget you’re trying / It’s hard to be a better man when you’re still lying….” I found it fascinating that the booklet that came with the album contained no lyrics. There was very little direction or context given to what the songs were trying to drive home. In retrospect, that may have been their way of giving us the album in it’s purest form. No pretext or prose as to what song meant, just creating music that had the ability to take on a life of its own after they eventually walk away from it. At least once a year, I still take the time to sit down somewhere quiet and listen to the whole album, beginning to end. I do so to appreciate how far I have come in confronting whatever badness might exist within me. It also makes me realize just how far I still have to go.

Just as Brand New was a guiding voice for me during those trivial teenage years, they remained a constant as I wandered and stumbled my way into adulthood. I hear people talk about how their favorite artist seem to grow with them over time, as if the band is reacting the growth of the listener. For me, I would say I grew with Brand New. Shedding the mellow drama to dig deeper into examining one’s soul, it prompted a multitude of questions which I realized I had to answer, or at the very least contemplate, about myself. It’s what drives the craze of my anticipation for new music from them. It sets the stage for the questions I need to start asking myself. Much like that older sibling, a part of who I am is made up from the perspective they have shared. While I am still relatively young, I have lived enough of life to know that those who mold your life the most are those who guide you to ask the important questions, not a list of prescriptive anecdotes. For me, Brand New has provided many of those questions.

Fast forward to a month ago. My wife and I are taking a two-hour drive down to Detroit for what will certainly be the highlight of my summer. This is also the first time I will get to experience a Brand New show with my wife by my side. Up to this point, it has always been hard to entirely communicate to her the experience of seeing them live and translating that into how formative they have been in my life. I am hoping that tonight provides that context. As I am driving, I realize that around this time ten years ago was my first time seeing Brand New live. Nostalgia fills my mind as I mentally cycle through my favorite snippets of that experience. That first concert I ended up attending solo. This concert I am attending with my wife. In a weird way, it feels like a completion, the coming of a full circle.

So much about me has changed in those ten years since I sweated in the summer sun to experience a condensed two-hour version of my teenage life. In a lot of ways, I wonder what my 18-year-old self would think. I wanted to work in the music industry; I ended up majoring in business and moving onto grad school (I’m such a sell-out). I got married (I was as shocked as anyone). I couldn’t have been more uninterested in sports, now I will watch just about anything that comes on ESPN (what the hell happened to me?). Most days I wear khakis, not jeans (…look at you). I traded in my array of band hoodies for a baseball hat collection (…unbelievable). However, when I am honest with myself, there are a multitude of things that haven’t changed. I still am as over-analytic as ever, I tend to overreact when misfortune falls upon me, I still order the bacon breakfast burrito at Betos, and the awe which is created inside me when I listen to Brand New hasn’t changed.

The show starts off with a solid set from Modest Mouse. While I have always enjoyed their music, I am pained with some regret as most of their set is over my head due to the fact I never devoted a lot of attention to their albums. I really just wanted to hear “3rd Planet,” “Trailer Trash,” “Ocean Breathes Salty,” and “Custom Concern” (kind of a stretch). I went zero for four on my wish list. You win some, you lose some. In between sets I sit nervously with my wife, wondering if the guy next to me paid $40 bucks to come in here and chain smoke. At least have the decency to vape like the rest of these morons around us. I start refining my mental list of what I hope to hear, then they hit the lights and the things I was hoping for become irrelevant…

As Jesse, Vinny, Garrett, and Brian take the stage, it has the feel of running into an old friend. I am the kind of person that gets excited about running into people I haven’t seen in ages and catching up on everything and enjoying a laugh like old times. In many ways, that is exactly what is happening. I haven’t seen these guys in almost 4 years, and I just want to hear what they have been up to. The set starts off with “Sink.” I can’t think of a better song to start with. As Jesse launches into the first chorus, you start to get the sense that this isn’t just any set. Something else is happening here.

As they continue to play, I start to realize that this set list is entirely built around what they want to play. Rather than playing the fan favorites, they were playing their own favorites. The set has perfect ebb and flow, with hardly any break or chatter in between songs. As Jesse is swooning on “The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot,” I come to the conclusion that this might be one of my all time favorite songs heard live. As I sit back and soak in the experience, my wife is splitting her attention between the stage and the memorized look on my face. In this moment, she all of a sudden knows me at every age. She is seeing me at 15, 17, 19, 22 and so on. I think she finally gets it.

The most intimate moment of the set comes during “Limousine.” After the line, “In the choir I saw a sad messiah / He was bored and tired of my laments / He said I died for you one time but never again / never again / never again,” Jesse just keeps screaming, “Never again….” He probably only repeated it five times but it felt like a statement in itself. Over the years, everyone has commented on Jesse Lacey and his reservation when it comes to wearing his heart of his sleeve. He never gave into the calls for explaining himself or his art. He just created it and left it to us to figure it out. In this moment, I am realizing he always was sharing the most honest part of himself. He is laying it all out there on the stage. Tonight he is being paid to spill his guts, and he is holding up his end of the bargain.

Each song feels like you’ve lived a year in their shoes but the set seems to be over all too soon. I had the list of songs that I was hoping to hear but by the end of the set that wishlist is as forgotten as a high school crush (you know who you are … and my apologies for the melodrama). I couldn’t have asked for anything more honest and pure from them.  As the end of the encore nears, they transition into “You Won’t Know.” As soon as the intro drops into the first verse, at the moment when the song explodes into a fury of exorcism, the thought crosses my mind, “This could be it.” At first I feel like I am realizing that this is the end of the show, but as the song keeps going and the energy exuding from the stage keeps rising, I realize that thought, in it’s entirety: “This really might be it. This might be goodbye.”

The outro to that song may have gone on an additional five minutes. It delved into an artistic display of chaos, the kind that alludes to the dark themes of human experience. Maybe I was alone in sensing this, but it felt like this was the final exorcism of Brand New. They fought off the demons. They fought the good fight. They finally saw it through to the other side. It was finished.

When I was 23, I entered into one of the darkest times in my life. While in the process of taking apart my head and the demons up in the attic of my consciousness, I started a blog. While the writing was incoherent and overly dramatic, at times it was the only way I could express what was going on to those who couldn’t understand. It took close to a year to get back on my feet, both literally and figuratively, and through the whole process I just wrote. I was writing because there was still some void that needed to be filled.  I published pretty consistently on my blog, trying to make it a thing among the million of Mormon-mommy blogs that were advertising a staged reality. While there was certainly vanity in some of my writing, the main focus behind it was the struggle of just trying to figure things out. Then one Wednesday, I ran into Kennan Hamblin (who now is my wife) at a little burrito place and I didn’t need to write anymore. The void was filled. I had found the home I looking for. I figured it out. I put the pen down and moved on.

While I don’t know any of the guys in Brand New personally, I wonder if that is the point they have reached. Whatever void that had existed for them, either individually or collectively, has been filled. They let us in on the experience of them figuring it out and now, there is nothing new to talk about. They are going out on their terms, and no matter what anyone says, they are still the kings. They created something that will continue on long after they disappear. I can’t do anything but be grateful to them for letting me in on what was going on inside themselves.

Who knows, this all may be a bluff. This ode to Brand New may be ten years too early. There has never been an act as cryptic as these boys from Long Island. But, if this is really it, I would be remiss if I didn’t spell out what this band has meant to me over the years. So Jesse, Vinny, Garret, and Brian, whatever awaits you guys individually or collectively, I wish for nothing but the best. Keep the blood in your head and your feet on the ground. And if it’s any consolation, your words were never wasted on lower cases and capitals, at least to me. Your noise made sense. Thank you for that.

 

Perspectives of a GOP Millennial: Trump’s Convention a Squandered Opportunity for Conversion

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This is going to be biased and entirely opinion-driven. I’m just throwing that out there as a preemptive to anyone wanting to argue about this. (Who am I kidding—I’d be happy if just one person wanted to argue because that meant someone actually read it.)

Taking my cue from the immortal words of Jack Donaghy to “flee to the Cleve,” I landed a very non-political internship thirty minutes outside of Cleveland this summer without even realizing that of all the summers to ever be located in, around, and near that city, it’d be 2016. I’m as clueless to sports as they come, and even I drank the Kool-Aid as I wandered the streets of downtown Cleveland the night the Cavaliers won, the excitement and elation from the collective crowd too infectious to ignore. Just last week, something much more within my realm of understanding was on display: the Republican National Convention. Both events created logjams within the city, and both brought die-hards out of the woodwork to chant, scream, and boo. The former was confusing because I don’t follow sports; the latter was confusing because I do follow politics.

In another reality, I might have been ecstatic about the RNC being so readily available to me. I’m from Utah, so my conservatism is all but statistically confirmed, and I am definitely a right-of-center Republican. I anxiously watched all the GOP debates, my incredulity and disbelief heightening with each month of that drawn-out primary season, as my candidate of choice (Florida Senator Marco Rubio, the most electable of the bunch) and every other, were drowned out by the sheer will of populism and a silent majority that is nationalistic at best, and every form of shockingly prejudiced at worst. I watched as my vision of how the GOP could convert key voter blocs and prevail in a winnable presidential election was systematically dismantled by voters who seemed to disregard any rhyme or reason of long-term strategy, and rally behind the most beatable candidate of all who filed (eh, maybe Rick Santorum).

So I didn’t really care about the RNC happening on my doorstep. I immediately read every Politico alert I received throughout the week, staying abreast of the delegate drama, Melania (who, channeling George Bluth, Sr., may have committed some *light* plagiarism), bizarre speaker choices, and a calculated snub in the primetime—but I had no interest in looking at it further, because frankly, it depressed me that this was becoming a reality.

But I was given an opportunity to go to the last day of the convention, and as inherently lazy as I am, I still figured this would be a historically unconventional (see what I did there?) event, and shouldn’t pass it up. So I went, more out of an academic interest, a bemused observer, wanting an up-close look at those who elbowed me out of my own party. And so I was escorted down to see the convention floor of the converted Quicken Loans, which was impressive and interesting, regardless of political persuasion. I vaguely listened to some of the first few speakers of that final evening, my eyes darting around to the characters walking the floor (and hallways), wondering how empty the surrounding Walmarts had been this week. Feeling I’d gotten the full “floor experience” and having no overwhelming desire to stay for another hour or two just to see the acceptance speech slightly closer (and frankly a little paranoid at the potential for violence that never really erupted at all during the week, thanks to the Cleveland police and security—I saw more fights the night the Cavs won), I left to find some food upstairs. I eventually got settled into the seat that my credentials afforded me—the highest seat possible in the Q, reducing the speakers on stage to ants and triggering an early onset of vertigo at the steepness of the nosebleed section—and waited patiently for the real reason we all were here (the balloon drop, if we’re being honest).

Trump spoke (and for a while). And while I watched him, my mood oscillated back and forth between two conflicting yet succinct thoughts: “I can’t believe this is happening, this is hilarious,” my inner millennial, conditioned to love and positively reinforce memes and trolling, responded with the Man, I kinda hope he wins just to see what would even happen! mentality that I initially blamed for getting him so far along in the polls last year; or “I can’t believe this is happening, this is terrifying,” as I had to remind myself that these policies, this persona, and that bizarre, abrupt speech (and Tweeting) pattern were coming from an individual now expected to represent nearly half of the voting electorate in November.

I’m not sure if it was something in the meatballs I ate in one of the hotel suites or the infectious rabble in the air, but I realized later that for a good, healthy moment there, I could’ve been on board. Maybe it was the intense desire to be excited for a candidate from this party, but I was more open-minded and receptive that night that I ever had been and probably ever will be. I could’ve been persuaded—more accurately, if we’d gotten a restrained and (dare I say) presidential-sounding Trump that night, it’s very possible that every cringe-worthy, eye-widening, head-shaking, career-assassination-defying statement he’s ever made could be swept under the “everyone runs a bit crazy in the primaries” rationalization. My brain, hurting from watching my party implode in the most spectacular fashion, was practicing some major defensive somersaults, prepping me for the possibility of Trump ending that speech (which I had no idea at that point would be over an hour…) and me stepping off my high horse, exclaiming, “Thou hast almost convinced me to be a Trumpeter.”

Unfortunately, this was not the case. And I don’t necessarily mean unfortunately for me, but unfortunately for Trump, who could’ve been able to pull off some miraculous healing of the party (though perhaps this was always doomed to be impossible), and unfortunately for those reasonable Republican voters caught in the middle of this nightmare, looking for some answer between two very unpleasant options. (And you can’t say Gary Johnson—as much as I prefer him to the others and would love to see that happen, Republicans that are committed to voting at all costs against Hillary won’t be convinced that a vote for Johnson doesn’t just spoil the GOP candidate and give a more decisive victory to the Democrats. I do hope he scores high enough in the polls to join the presidential debates, though).

My first wake-up call should’ve been the black and gold podium they brought out before The Donald spoke.

Trump stayed on message, sure, and he rarely ad-libbed from his teleprompted speech, and I let most of his doomsday preaching slide. By the way, I’m confused at the uproar at Trump’s negativity. Was this honestly surprising to pundits or are they all just posturing? It’s business as usual for candidates running against an administration or governing party to cast their fruits as rotten and their path as unsustainable, so I wasn’t shocked or disappointed by this rhetoric, more just bored that there was no nuance to the delivery, no gradual crescendo, he just cranked the dial to a yelly 11 and kept it there for 75 minutes. And I sat there, my mind in a game of tug-of-war, as he went talked through his stances on trade, on foreign policy, on Hillary Clinton, and then dug his heels in on two of the most inane, impractical, and ultimately election-losing ideas of his campaign: banning Muslims (now softened to banning entry from countries with terrorist presence) and that damn wall which won’t work.

I feel like I wasn’t even asking that much. I didn’t need Trump to make a mad dash to the center, like most do after running to their respective corners during primary season. Conventions aren’t for that, necessarily; they’re to build party unity and excite the base. The problem is that Trump seemed concerned with only exciting his base, neglecting those he has yet to win over. Is he not aware of the political whiplash that occurs when Republicans publicly expressing support? (Think Paul Ryan’s condemnation of Trump’s “text-book” racist comments directed at Judge Gonzalo Curiel less than a full week after an asterisk-laden endorsement.) And maybe he’s right. He certainly won enough votes across the country to not care as much about the #NeverTrump Republicans, and could smartly bank on those same Republicans voting for him anyway because he’s not Clinton.

I may be in the minority—and the primary voting results suggest that I am—but I’m at least proud to be associated with a state that tried to fight against the tide of inevitability, loudly rejecting Trump when given the chance to express it. And I get the idea of voting against rather than for someone. I make decisions like that all the time and yes, even in a past presidential election—so believe me, I understand why Republicans and Democrats alike are voting for their party’s nominee more out of fear of the opponent than genuine excitement for the potential and possibilities of their own candidate. I sympathize with Republicans who now find themselves having to reluctantly get behind Trump. But the individuals whose answer from the get-go, whose support was firm and mind convinced from the first (surely not last) racial potshot, whose preferred option out of a pool of a dozen plus, has always been Donald J. Trump? I hope I never understand that.

Photo credit: Trent Nelson, Salt Lake Tribune.

First Love: Tim Duncan and My Introduction to the Game of Basketball

Tim DuncanFor me, the game of basketball began 20 years ago in 1996. My family and I had just taken the pioneer trek back to the Mormon Zion of Utah from Kansas City. Back then I was the spitting image of Smalls from The Sandlot. My mom dressed me in Talbot’s finest: preppy, collared polos and stiff, starchy khakis. My hair was gelled and parted to perfection. I was on the path to getting the crap beat out of me at school. Thankfully, a 7-foot hero from Wake Forest came to the rescue.

Whether it was my dad’s basketball-obsessed sickness that infected me or some other external influence, I became addicted to ACC hoops. And I’m not talking about the current mucked up ACC/Big East hybrid with Syracuse, Notre Dame, Louisville, etc.; I’m referring to the conference in its purest form, featuring only nine teams and some perennial beasts in Duke, UNC, and Maryland. Instantaneously, my favorite player became Timothy Theodore Duncan. Duncan was a senior at the time at Wake Forest and was all the rage in the collegiate hoops world. After flirting with entering the draft following his junior year, Duncan averaged a “modest” 20.8 points and 14.7 boards on 60.8% shooting as a senior. Just ridiculous. I must have heard Dick Vitale call him a “PTPer” (Prime Time Player) over a thousand times that year. At the prepubescent age of eight, my goal became to mirror Duncan’s game. Bestowed with below-average genetics and being “vertically challenged,” to say the least, I probably should have picked a more appropriate hoops hero. Maybe the shorter Stockton or swaggerific Stephon Marbury would have suited me better. But no, my heart was set on the post player who would become known as “The Big Fundamental.”

Down the road from our town home stood a lone basketball standard. Featuring a worn-down wooden backboard and a tire for a base, the hoop was far from heavenly, but that court became my sanctuary. Day and night I would hone my skills pretending to be Wake Forest’s finest.

Later that year my parents signed me up to play in the local rec league. As the coach passed out jerseys, he asked me what number I wanted. Was there even a doubt? Proudly I requested the #21 jersey. Little did I know at that time that my Demon Deacon idol would eventually go on to win five titles, two league MVPs, three Finals MVPs and become the greatest player of his generation. My two cents (for what it’s worth)? Tim Duncan was better Kobe (and left his franchise in a far better situation than the Black Mamba). Although he was never quite the unstoppable force of early 2000s Shaq, Duncan’s sustained level of greatness and consistency puts him ahead of The Big Aristotle in my book. KG was dominant defensively, especially anchoring Thib’s stellar schemes in Boston, but I would argue Duncan’s overall impact on the defensive end was even greater than the Big Ticket’s. Dirk could stretch the floor and had a remarkable playoff run in 2011, but even Germany’s greatest export since David Hasselhoff doesn’t hold a candle to Timmy D. The case could be made that Lebron, Wade, Paul, etc., represent a different generation, but even with them in the equation, Lebron is the only player whose skills, impact, and career might outshine Duncan’s–and even that is debatable. Simply put, Tim Duncan is the modern day Bill Russell. The quintessential teammate; a champion, a legend. He didn’t do it with the flashiness of Kobe or the sweet stroke of Dirk. He didn’t do it with KG’s four letter bombs or Lebron’s charisma. He did it Duncan’s way: quietly, humbly, under the radar.

It proves an interesting exercise to compare and contrast the NBA now as Duncan leaves it with the league 19 years ago as he entered it. He arrived just before the closure of Jordan’s reign, at a time when the traditional big man still ruled the game and post-play was prized. He leaves during an era where skilled bigs are all but extinct. The 3-point line, stretch 4s, and small-ball now reign supreme. In both eras, Duncan left an indelible mark. First, as an unstoppable force in the post and then as a high-IQ, ball-moving big man who ran the pick-and-roll to perfection. The younger Timmy torched teams (especially my Jazz) from the post with 15-foot bank shots and baby hooks. And then later, the wiser “Old Man River Walk” incinerated the competition by setting strong picks for Tony Parker and making the extra pass for wide open 3s. Both versions of Duncan were equally as dangerous.

The subtle nature of Duncan’s dominance never made him the “face of the league” or necessarily a fan-favorite. I’ve yet to encounter anyone who claims Timmy D to be their favorite player. Despite his lack of magnetism and the Spurs’ methodical nature, I always found myself at least somewhat cheering for their success. Even as my frenzied Lebron James’ fandom led me to cheer shamelessly for the Heat in the two finals they faced against the Spurs, I never felt any disdain toward the franchise. Duncan and the Spurs were too classy, too consistent, and too great. I couldn’t help but appreciate and admire the manner in which Duncan and the Spurs conducted business. Their performance in the 2014 finals in which they completely demolished the Heat in five games was, in my eyes, the greatest exhibition of passing and teamwork I have ever witnessed (apologies to the ’86 Celtics). And as Kobe sucked the Lakers dry financially leading them to 16 wins while soaking up the spoils of his “Farewell Tour,” Tim Duncan took a massive discount and a giant step back for the likes of Lamarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard. The result–67 wins and one of the greatest defensive teams of all-time. No “Farewell Tour” was needed or wanted. He allowed his team’s success to do the talking.

20 years ago, Tim Duncan introduced me to the game of basketball–a game which has become a beautiful sickness and obsession in my life. I have never known the NBA without Timmy. To this day, I frequently still grab my basketball and venture over to a nearby school or park to shoot some hoops in solitude. Occasionally, I’ll hit a 15-foot bank shot from the wing and think back to the early days when all I had was a ball, a hoop, and a 7-foot hero.

Mission Statement (or lack thereof)

This blog, site, project, cry for help, etc., was conceived during multiple ‘what the hell am I doing?’ counter-epiphanies during my mid-to-late twenties. I was desperately searching for work that was meaningful and in which I could get lost…yeah, you can essentially write the rest of that story yourself.

In all honesty, I, the founder (if you will), just wanted to create a medium/outlet where friends and I could collectively shoot the shit and share it with whoever wants to join in on the conversation. The blog/website is unashamedly modeled after the Bill Simmons’ Grantland (may it rest in peace) and The Ringer websites. Those who contribute to this site do so for the enjoyment of it. I really just believe that I know too many talented and smart people to let their individual and collective voices go to waste. I could be wrong, but this site isn’t about proving something. It’s for the pure enjoyment of conversation – no matter what the topic.

With that being said, here are The Backyard Heroes. If you are looking for a conversation, you have come to the right place. If you are looking for game-changers or people looking to make a statement, you might want to look somewhere else first. Then again, the lasting game-changers and those who truly make a statement don’t always set out to do so.