Engagement/Beach Camping in Thumb Cove | Kenai Fjords National Park | Alaska

Youtube video I made of this experience

Returning to Alaska was something I obsessed over ever since I first visited with my family over twenty years ago. “The Last Frontier” represents everything I’ve always loved about the natural world; wild and expansive landscapes with pristine wilderness. Twenty years after my first experience in Alaska, I returned with my girlfriend, and kicked things off in the most memorable and authentically Alaskan way possible—beach camping on a secluded beach near Kenai Fjords National Park.

Heading into this planned week-long vacation I was overwhelmed with nerves. For well over a year I had already made up my mind that I was going to propose to my girlfriend at some point during our next vacation.

Originally, I was planning on our destination being Yosemite. Just like always, we would camp/hike/backpack, only this time I would also find the right moment to propose.


Maggie (My girlfriend. I think I randomly referred to her as Bruce Willis in some past blog, but ignore that. My brain got carried away that day) told me a few months before the trip that we should probably try a different destination since forest fires in late summer tend to overwhelm what should typically be world-famous epic views of Yosemite.

“Sure” I said. Absolutely no big deal whatsoever. I’ll just pretend like I didn’t make 45 different calls to Yosemite rangers , scouting out the perfect time and place for a proposal.

“Play it cool. Remember she has no idea this proposal is coming, and if I stare at her in the eyes while mine swell up with tears it’ll surely be a dead giveaway that I care a little TOO much about vacationing in a very specific place”.

We settled on Alaska, and eventually I realized that this was probably going to be the perfect destination not just for a proposal, but for an epic backpacking and wilderness experience as well. Not to mention the fact that Alaska holds the ultimate place in my heart.

The first day of our trip featured Maggie and I boarding a Miller’s Landing water taxi out of Seward, where it then dropped us off on a secluded beach in Thumb Cove near the entrance to Kenai Fjords National Park. The water taxi’s in Seward offer prospective campers endless opportunities for once in a lifetime camping on the shores of Kenai Fjords, and I can’t recommend them enough. There are several different companies that offer water taxi service out of Seward, with countless destinations, and some taxis will even take you as far as a three hour boat ride away—I truly wish I could explore them all!

Our boat ride was around a 30 minute ride to our drop off location in Thumb Cove. There are no roads or access points other than water taxi, so you really feel secluded out there.

The entire boat ride I was shitting myself. Not only was it an out of body experience to be back in Alaska, a place I had dreamt of every day for twenty years, but I also had an engagement ring in my pocket.

“Play it cool Mike”

She had no idea this proposal was coming, so in an effort to not give anything away, I just kept telling myself to try and pretend like it wasn’t happening. Easier said than done.

I went through the checklist in my mind a million times during the boat ride. In a normal situation, backpacking already requires an extensive checklist, and any backpacker can relate to forgetting a crucial item in the car. All I knew was that I was NOT going to forget the ring.

The boat ride was gorgeous, especially as we approached the glacier capped peaks that surround Thumb Cove.

Just before we arrived at our destination, I realized I had forgot my bear spray. But who needs bear spray anyway! Not like we’re in Alaska or anything with the largest coastal Brown Bears in the world. So not only did I have to pretend like there was no proposal at all, but in an effort to stay calm I also needed to lie to myself that there were no man-eating thousand pound grizzly bears to worry about.

I began to consider the fact that this experience either has the potential to be the greatest day of my life, or potentially the most horrific thing that’s ever happened. I’m not trying to suffer the same fate as The Grizzly Man by ANY means. It’s okay though, Coastal Brown Bears feast on salmon, so we’ll just be sure to NOT set our tent up directly next to an active salmon stream, right?

We hopped off the ramp of the water taxi and onto the shores of glorious Thumb Cove. They honestly should’ve named it something more like “Paradise Cove”, but unfortunately landed on “Thumb”.

We waved goodbye to our taxi and set off to find the perfect place to pitch a tent.

“Look! A stream filled with salmon! Let’s set up right next to it!”

After finding the “perfect” spot, we set our camp chairs along the shore overlooking the stunning cove, and had some wine. At this point, my mind and body were starting to quickly deteriorate because of the looming proposal. I had made it over a year without giving away any clues, and I honestly couldn’t hold on much longer without spontaneously combusting. I then set up my GoPro to take a “photo” of Maggie and I with a beautiful mountain backdrop.

We stood there as if we were posing for a photo, and after a hug and kiss, I slowly pulled the ring out of my back pocket and got down on one knee.

Staring at the love of my life, whose stunned and emotional eyes sparkled brighter than the glistening ocean waves, was the best moment of my life.

Surrounded by Alaskan mountains, glaciers, and ocean, the only thing that existed in that moment was her.

It was pure bliss.

Soon after she said yes, the clouds parted and we were in Paradise.

Afterwards, we sat by the pristine shores of Kenai Fjords, sipping wine, breathing in the fresh ocean air, and enjoying this all-time moment, as Bald Eagles soared over our heads to the sound of crashing waves echoing through the air.

Eventually, I reminded myself that I still had this camping video I was trying to film, and was incredibly unsure of whether or not I would include the proposal in the video or not.

We spent hours laughing and drinking in a completely unspoiled and picturesque Alaskan cove. I’m not sure any future moment in my life will ever compete, not that it needs to.

After filtering water and having dinner, we watched the sunset across the bay, taking in the sights and sounds. We later sat by the campfire as fresh water trickled down from the glaciers behind us and into streams that poured onto the beach, eventually spilling into the ocean. To be fair, we actually didn’t notice that the streams were filled with salmon until relatively close to dusk.

Our tent in the trees. Maybe my favorite campsite ever.

We went to bed, and all I could hope for was that IF there were a hungry bear around, maybe he would just read the room and understand that it wasn’t the right time for an attack.

Waking up the next morning to crystal clear skies was stunning. Incredibly heavy wind moved in overnight that actually had me worried we were going to be killed by a fallen tree while sleeping in the tent—classic engagement fears! But we made it. No killer bears or trees—only the euphoria of the moment.

After packing up our site we headed back toward our pickup spot where the water taxi was due to collect us. I really tried to take in as much as possible, and be present in this moment before it was gone.

Soon enough our ride arrived, and we were off. Departing Thumb Cove, I noticed Maggie staring out the back window of the boat as she held my hand, almost as if to permanently ingrain this place and this memory into her heart forever.

Comedically breaking the moment, our captain informed us that we were the only backpackers whom he was actually picking up today because of dangerous swells in the bay. The wind that had moved in overnight created some seriously choppy seas, and we wondered what we would’ve done if we had just been left there on the beach. We never even considered that! I probably would’ve turned into Tom Hanks from Cast Away in under 24 hours and Maggie would’ve been in serious running for a meal to keep me alive. Luckily, those difficult decisions didn’t have to be made.

Once out in the bay, the water taxi was giving us the ride of our life, bouncing off some of the biggest waves I’ve ever encountered in any boat. At times the boat was legitimately flying through the air before crashing back down and dealing with the next onslaught of waves.

I wondered if after all this we were just going to sink and die all dramatically—our tale never told since there was no cell service to inform anyone of our experience, just like Jack and Rose Dawson from Titanic. Who knows, maybe only Maggie survives the sinking and has to dedicate the rest of her life to my memory by riding horses on the beach surf (properly with feet on either side), or taking a spin on a roller coaster until she throws up, only to one day reveal the true story of the (handsome) man who now lives only in her memory.

Maggie living her best life in my memory

(If you don’t understand Titanic references then I’m not sure we can be friends).

Anyways, we didn’t die and we made it safely back to Miller’s Landing.

We finished with lunch at a local seafood shack, and proceeded to call our family and friends to inform them of the news. It was the happiest I’ve ever heard my mom and possibly my favorite conversation ever. We were laughing and crying at the same time. I was so publicly emotional. I’m sure the other customers sitting nearby wondered what I was eating and asked their waiter to get them whatever it was I was having.

What made that trip and that moment so incredible though, was clearly Maggie. For just that one moment in Alaska, it was only us.

It was only us on a secluded Alaskan beach, surrounded by the greatest beauty I had ever seen, staring into the eyes of my beautiful fiancé.

She is all I’ve ever needed, and I am forever grateful that she said yes.

Thank you for reading

This is the video version of this story!


Skydiving Over Glacier National Park

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Sitting on the floor of a plane with my legs dangling outside of its open door is never a situation I ever thought I’d be in—not while flying at over two miles up.

Not for someone like me.

Turns out I’m actually pretty afraid of heights. I’m not sure if it’s more of being afraid, or if it’s just being overwhelmed by vertigo. Maybe it’s a combination of both, but I’m typically someone who can’t get too close to the end of an outdoor balcony without feeling dizzy.

Over twelve thousand feet above the ground, the exposed propellers and engine growled as the small plane jostled and shook. My body was in shock. My mind was in shock.

Immediately I looked down past my hanging feet, to the clouds that lay below, and the mountains of Glacier National Park stretching out as far as I could see. Preparing to freefall from the rickety plane, I sat there completely overcome by fear.

(Luckily, since I’m attaching the videos, you can all see what I looked like when I was the most terrified I’ve ever been. How wonderful).

This is the story of my skydiving experience above the Rocky Mountains of Montana.

(Above is a video I edited of all the best footage from our trip, including skydiving. Turn the volume up as it was all fit to match the song. Turn it up! Don’t half-ass things people!)

Skydiving Above Montana

If you have read some of my other blogs, you’re familiar with the couple of days that preceded skydiving. On Monday, my girlfriend and I had hiked to the top of Grinnell Glacier, in what I consider to be the greatest day of my life.

(Photo: Grinnell Glacier)

Tuesday, we braved eight hours of relentless and steep cliff walking along the High Line Trail until we came face to face with a rapidly approaching storm, forcing us to retreat through a dangerous forest at dusk that’s notoriously filled with Grizzly Bears, down to the bottom of the wrong side of the Continental Divide.

Both hikes were stunningly beautiful.

The High Line Hike while gorgeous, also made me fear for our lives.

At this point, it only seemed right that we would go skydiving the next morning.

(And if I look terrible in the video, it’s because we had just spent three days in the wilderness hiking over thirty miles, and barely survived the previous day. How would you look?! Leave your judgements at the door!)

First thing the next day, I woke up before sunrise to start my coffee over the fire. I was greeted by a Bull Moose just outside our campsite (moose life!!).

Sipping on a much needed warm drink, I listened to the distant sound of Elk bugling in the woods—truly a magical and haunting sound that echoed through the crisp early mornings of the Montana wilderness. My girlfriend shared in the excitement and it was an absolutely incredible morning.

After packing up, we departed the area and then drove over the Going to the Sun Road to the west side of the park, where my girlfriend had made reservations to jump out of a plane.

I was still caught up in the moment. Overwhelmed by the last couple days, I reflected on what seemed like the departing gestures of a Bull Moose and bugling Elk.

We then drove the aptly named Going to the Sun Road (some serious foreshadowing), which is far and away the most beautiful road I’ve ever seen (and that includes Alaska and Hawaii). Seriously, if you’re into gorgeous road trips, you can’t miss the famous Going to the Sun.

Everything I was experiencing was keeping me grounded in the moment.

Sheer mountain cliffs, rivers and heavenly aromas. Waterfalls, wildflowers and wildlife.

The notion of jumping out of a plane was an idea still lying dormant somewhere deep in my subconscious. My brain was still trying its best to process these once in a lifetime experiences that were happening right in front of me, and for good reason.

However, once we got closer to the west side of the park and toward the end of the Going to the Sun, my heart started beating faster as it was now time to embrace a new fear that was slowly rising to the surface after patiently waiting for its turn in the spotlight.

It was almost as if this fear was so confident in itself that it had no rush to overwhelm me. It knew that soon enough, its time would be here, paralyzing every bone in my body with ice-cold fear. It could afford to be patient.

**For copywriting inquiries, feel free to email me at michaelswanders@gmail.com–Guest blogging, website copy, product descriptions, email, social media posts, and more**

Well the time had finally come to start actually thinking about the idea of jumping out of a plane.

Before our trip even began, my girlfriend told me that she wanted to take me skydiving. She had been before and loved it, because she’s an endless force of fearless energy.

I obviously replied “Of course not. Why the fuck would I jump out of a plane?” We both laughed it off and continued planning our trip.

Days later, she brought it up again. Realizing she wasn’t joking, I sort of shook my head in disbelief as I came to a terrible realization that this probably wasn’t going to go away. Angrily, I basically shrugged it off and sarcastically said “Sure, whatever why not”.

At the time I was busy getting intel on bear safety and what to do and what not to do while camping deep in their habitat. Logistics, time management and safety were at the forefront of my mind for weeks, as I was mostly worried about my girlfriend’s safety. She’s the perfect size meal for a hungry bear, but luckily she had a confident and good looking boyfriend who was in complete control. I ain’t afraid of nothing!!

Back to my fear of heights.

So basically, days before the trip she starts insisting that we go skydiving. So at this point I basically just said “Sure. Why the fuck not”

It can’t be worse than that tough mudder race she convinced me to do, right?

Well truth is, I knew exactly why not. I’m terrified of heights.

Just being high up on a balcony gets me nervous when a friend gets too close to the edge.

During our alpine hikes on the trip I couldn’t even take pictures because I would get vertigo soon as I looked out at the vast mountain ranges and immediate drop-offs below my feet.

Yet here we were, driving to “Skydive Whitefish” at the end of the Going to the Sun Road (A road I couldn’t even drive on because looking over the edge was too much to bare in the absence of guard rails).

But sure, lets jump out of a plane.

I had already braved extreme heights during our hikes along the Continental Divide. At this point I figured lets just face my fear in every possible way. We’ve braved cliff-walking, storms, and Grizzly Bears. Might as well jump out of a plane. Most importantly, I’ll look like a little bitch to my girlfriend who is apparently afraid of nothing (other than mice)….(I’m not. I’m not afraid of mice. You could probably say I’m a bit of a hero when it comes to braving mice problems NBD).

Soon, we were at Skydive Whitefish, and my heart rate was jacked. We first had to sign our life away in an absolutely terrifying contract that promises in NO way can anyone we’ve ever met in our lives sue the company, should we end up like splattered bugs on a windshield by the end of the day.

This contract was ridiculous. My girlfriend was dying laughing watching me freak out at the things I was reading. She wasn’t talking—just struggling to catch her breath in between belly laughs.

“If your parachute fails to open you cannot press charges”

“If you get sucked into the propeller and explode into a million pieces you and your family can’t do shit about it…in fact, we might sue you for breaking our propeller”

“If you get bit by a snake, you’re on your own” (this was really in the contract)

You get the idea.

The skydiving receptionist then wheeled in a TV for a video we then had to watch. Whispering to my girlfriend, “they’re really covering all their bases huh?”

The video began with an old man who looks like he just spent the past 322 years in Hell, and was granted a second chance at life as long as he warns others not to repeat his mistakes.

The man looks directly at you and basically says “you WILL die today”

He tells us every reason why our decision to skydive has been the absolute dumbest of our lives.

After the pep-talk and the contract from Hell, it was time to drive to the plane that was waiting for us.

We parked next to the plane, and we were stunned at how small it was. It looked to be no longer than fifteen feet and seemed to be made of tin foil.

(So bold of me to post such a sad and disgusting version of myself. That facial hair looks like it might be alive. Credit to me though for not caring).

They then told us that because of the size of the plane, we would have to go up one at a time. I was to go first, and alone.

I turned to my girlfriend and reassured her that if I die, it wouldn’t be her fault. I honestly meant it, but I think it was in this moment where she realized that maybe she had made a mistake bringing me here. She was realizing that I was honestly fearing for my life and that my quiet and calm body language was actually an extreme form of meditation to desperately keep myself from exploding.

We exited the car and walked toward the plane. Again, I was extremely quiet and calm, because inside my fear was overwhelming.

I was going first, so they started buckling me into the body harness and parachute in preparation. That’s when I met a man named Kale. He was the skydiving professional who was to be attached to me as we fell from the sky.

Kale, as his name might suggest, was a much needed calming influence. After all the threatening lines in the contract, to the old man in the video straight out of the gates of Hell, Kale reassured me that I had absolutely nothing to worry about.

I trusted Kale, and I might not have made it without his refreshing pep-talks.

My entire experience was to be videotaped, so I constantly had to put on a face and fake a smile for the camera. However, Kale’s demeanor was a constant calming influence.

We finished strapping up, and I kissed my girlfriend goodbye. She looked me in the eyes and said the perfect words of encouragement. What she said was an inside comment only we would understand, but what it essentially meant was: Just go for it. Just jump.

I then turned, and walked toward the miniature plane that was waiting for Kale and myself.

We hopped inside, the propellers started up and soon we were moving. Looking out through the open door at my waving girlfriend, all I could think about was that I really hoped to see her again. Waving goodbye, the plane started up the runway, (and by runway, I mean grass) and I was overcome by the idea that “this was it”.

Before I knew it, the plane was in the air. Quickly, we ascended, and I was hit with a brick wall of nerves as my fear continued to rise to the next level. I was overcome by the idea that it was too late. I was officially going to jump out of this plane and there was no going back.

The inside of the plane was minuscule. You couldn’t stand up. If I had lied out straight, I probably would’ve taken up the entire length of the space. Kale could sense my nerves, and he reassured me that I was going to have the most fun time of my life.

After he said that, I looked out the window and thought how this would be the perfect scene in an action movie: Nervous first time skydiver. Skydiving pro completely reassuring. And then disaster.

It wasn’t a good thing to be thinking about in that moment, but what can I say…my brain hates me sometimes.

Soon we were above the mountains and the views were incredible. I tried my best to take it all in, because just flying in a plane this small over the mountains of Glacier National Park is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Then we passed through the clouds and I was overcome with fear again. All I could think about was that every time I’ve ever been in a plane, we landed. I exited those planes by simply stepping outside and walking away.

Not this time.

The only way out, was to free-fall.


Just above the clouds we hit turbulence and the plane started shaking as it jumped up and down. The screaming of the engine mixed with the rattling sounds of aluminum had me so incredibly afraid. I thought to myself that just being in this plane is probably the most dangerous part. These tiny planes crash all the time, don’t they? (RIP James Horner—you magical man)

Wait a minute…I have a parachute on. I’ve actually probably never been safer in a plane. Sucks to be the pilot. Then I envisioned the plane diving straight down toward the ground as pure panic ensues inside: Me praying while Kale desperately struggles to tighten the straps so we can bail before the crash. Suddenly the pilot jumps on top of us aggressively trying to steal the shoot to avoid certain death. It’s a fight for our lives inside the crashing plane! Punches are thrown. Screaming. Crying!

*I then snapped back to reality as Kale put a camera in front of my face “Smile bro!”

I just had the worst possible vision in my head as we fly in a confined aluminum plane that we’re about to jump out of…but sure Kale, I’ll fake a smile for you.

We were high above the clouds now as the plane continued to shake and bounce. Kale told me that we were about half way up—almost there.

Half way?

I nearly shit my pants. We’re only half way up?!

Fear started to completely dominate my body as I tried my best to control my breathing. Just being so high up in a small, shaky plane was terrifying enough. Kale then told me that he soon would be opening the door, and to brace myself because it was probably going to be very cold. The idea shook me to my core. I was beyond consolable at this point.

Whether I liked it or not, it was time.

Kale swung the door open and the outside noise of the plane became incredibly loud. Blasted by cold air and wind, my mind began to go into shock.

This was it.

As we sat on the floor, Kale slid us to the very edge of the open door where he instructed me to swing my legs outside of the plane so that they were basically dangling below me.

That had to be the most terrifying instruction I’ve ever received in my life.

Cold wind raced by the now open door as I swung my legs outside as the plane continued to rattle. Kale was attached to my back.

As I sat on the edge of the open door with my feet hanging outside, I looked straight down to the world below. Paralyzing fear possessed my entire body in what might’ve been the single most terrifying moment of my life. It felt like all the scary things I had experienced in 30 years were compressed into a single, five second moment of unbearable fear. My heart completely sunk.

I sat there as the plane shook and screamed and cold air blasted me in the face, and then Kale forced us off the side of the plane, and that was it.

In a complete moment of purity, I was free-falling from a plane above Glacier National Park. My senses were turned up toward their maximum capacity as there was nothing below me.

Simply put—it felt like falling.

For a very long time.

It was also the greatest feeling of my life.

I was completely free and I had never felt more alive!

We were free-falling for over a minute, which if you think about it, is a VERY long time to be just falling. Think about falling for 10 seconds…that’s extreme. A minute of falling feels endless.

Before I knew it, the shoot opened and we were gliding above the stunning Rocky Mountains and epic fluorescent lakes of Montana.

It was heaven.


I ask a lot of people if they would ever go skydiving, and many of them unequivocally say “no”. Well, I used to give that same answer.

However, I know now what makes us feel most alive. The idea is cliche, but it’s about doing the things you were always terrified to do. Those are the moments you will remember for the rest of your life. Our time is limited, so why not go all in?

Make no mistake about it…if I had been completely clear with my girlfriend that I will NOT be going skydiving, we wouldn’t have gone. However, her constant fortitude and fearless attitude continues to push me to places I’m always happy I went.

Jumping out of a plane is one of the last things in this world I would ever want to do, and that is exactly the reason why I did it.

The fact that I was as thoroughly terrified as I was is what made the whole experience so incredible. The feeling of accomplishment was unparalleled.

We all know that running from your fears only lets them materialize and grow, and they tend to be relentless in their pursuit of you. Instead, turning around and facing them has helped me grow as an individual. Easier said than done though…but it’s more than doable and I’m going to try my best to continue to push my own limitations and face that which I fear. Daring to leave my own comfort zone has opened up a world of possibilities and experiences I never dreamed of.

If I took anything away from these moments, it’s that we should always dare ourselves to be uncomfortable.

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard” -JFK

(Going to the moon is totally comparable to me jumping out of a plane, in case you’re wondering)

There’s few things harder than directly facing your fears.

My girlfriend jumped after me, and soon we embraced on the ground, reflecting on possibly the best single moment of my life.

I will never forget the feeling of sitting on the side of that plane.

I will never forget the feeling of free-falling toward the ground.

I will never forget the feeling of accomplishment in knowing that every inch of my being wanted nothing to do with jumping out of a plane, yet I did it anyway.


(And I highly recommend this company if you’re ever in Montana. If they were able to keep me calm, they can keep anyone calm. Also, Kale is incredible).

Never in my life had I felt more alive, than the day I went skydiving, and I can’t wait to do it again!

(Credit to “Skydive Whitefish” for the video)

Thanks for reading!

Check out my YouTube Channel!

**For copywriting inquiries, feel free to email me at michaelswanders@gmail.com**

Meeting Justin Timberlake

Check out my YouTube Page!

Look, we all have our heroes, and some mean more to us than others. Finding inspiration in someone is a basic characteristic we all possess. Where you find that inspiration depends on who you are and what you love.

Maybe you look up to a self made billionaire, an athlete, a humanitarian (very noble of you), a musician, or a family member. For me, I have many heroes. My mom, dad and my brother are my heroes. My grandparents, relatives, friends, and my girlfriend are all people I greatly look up to for various reasons.

I obviously have my sports heroes.

However, I was lucky enough to find someone at an early age that I could connect with on something that was central to my existence; creativity and imagination.

As a child I lived a good 3/4 of my life in my own head. My imagination always gave me the ability to create my own happiness (to a certain extent, obviously the people in my life GREATLY contribute as well). I would create worlds and keep myself endlessly entertained. As I grew older, that creativity took shape in the form of entertaining others. I found great joy in sharing the very thing that was keeping me internally happy with those around me.

I began dancing and singing for my mom in our living room from an early and tender age of probably around 3 years old (my prime. I peaked early AF). I would make up the song as I went and wouldn’t stop until I dropped dead from exhaustion, and my mother was more than supportive of these performances. She truthfully enjoyed them. So in turn, this creative side continued to be fed and nurtured, and eventually it found something to latch onto.

I remember watching the “Free Willy” music video that featured Michael Jackson performing “Will You Be There”, the greatest song in existence. I saw a man in all white, belting out this song as wind blew his hair in the most glorious way possible, like he was some superstar from another galaxy. The video was all set to the backdrop of orca whales gracefully breaching the waters of the pristine northwest coast, and I was hooked. There was no going back.

**For copywriting inquiries, feel free to reach me at michaelswanders@gmail.com**–Guest blogging, website copy, product descriptions, emails, social media posts and more**

Michael Jackson had entered my life. Now lets fast forward to the late 90s, when boy bands were becoming a big thing, and so too was a certain style of dancing. There was something about synchronized dancing that I latched on to. I remember being in 6th grade and seeing something called “Show Choir”. I was so jealous that they all knew these dance moves, and were doing them together. I never really stopped to think about whether or not something was socially acceptable or “cool”. If I liked it, I liked it. I played sports not to fit in, but because I truly loved them. The same goes for singing and dancing.

I always danced for fun, but I never really did it with other people. Around the same time, my older brother was dragged to an audition with a girl he was currently interested in. He basically just went to support her, and ended up auditioning himself. She didn’t make it, but he did.

Next thing you know, he starts showing me videos of this Show Choir he had just been accepted to, and I was like wtf?! How do they move like that?! I thought it was the coolest thing in the world, so I started attending all of their practices and watched them go through the steps. I was basically this creepy kid sitting in the back of the auditorium all by myself, staring at them without blinking. I was taking mental notes about what made the best performers the best, and studied their weaknesses and how I could exploit them (I didn’t do that. There would be no reason for this) Afterwards, I would go home and practice everything I saw.

Also, speaking of heroes, it’s worth noting that I looked up to my brother like a God (and still do). Anything he did was the coolest thing in the world to me, so to see him do these intense dance movements to the backdrop of a kick ass live band was making me sick with jealousy. For those of you who don’t know, Show Choir is basically a group of 20-40 individuals who dance and sing musical numbers on stage. I loved singing and dancing, so I was hooked.

My brother would come home from practice and teach me the moves, and he wouldn’t let me get away with doing it wrong. Simultaneously, the boy band NYSNC was huge, but really wasn’t socially acceptable to love if you weren’t a girl (its fucked up, but it’s how it was). So, I secretly admired everything they did without really sharing it with anyone other than my brother. We both loved them, and I particularly loved their dancing. So in turn, my brother and I did our best to learn their dances as well.

Soon after, the lead singer of NSYNC announced that he was going solo, which actually made me pretty upset. However, it strangely enough might have been the most important thing to ever happen to me.

I was in New Hampshire at the time looking for moose (again, another socially acceptable activity) when I got a call from my brother telling me that I HAD to watch Justin Timberlake’s debut performance. Wouldn’t you know, that I was looking for moose when JT was about to officially enter my life. God do you believe in magic or what, ugh!

He went on and on about it, describing to me how it featured “actual” dancing, unlike that of the boy bands. So once I was back at the hotel, I turned on a re-run of the Video Music Awards, and watched JT’s debut performance, and the rest is history.

It’s safe to say, that if this performance never happened, nearly everything about my life would be different.

I’m obviously someone who looks for various meanings in life, but at the same time I am more than aware that any random thing can happen to anyone at any time, for no reason whatsoever. However, if there appears to be meaning behind something, I don’t have to ignore it. In saying that, I have to point out that much of Justin Timberlake’s career has somehow coincided with extremely important moments in my life (maybe the most important moments).

So JT goes solo and performed “Like I Love You” at the Video Music Awards, and it was the most inspired I’ve ever felt while watching a musical performance. Once I returned home, I recorded both the performance and the music video, and studied it for hours on end. I learned the entire dance by pausing the video every two or three seconds until I had every step down. Part of my inspiration for doing this was to impress my brother, so I couldn’t wait to show him once it was perfected. However, it took forever.

At the time I wasn’t a very good dancer at all. For some strange reason, I’ve always been attracted to things I wasn’t good at, but others were. I wanted to be as good as they were, if not better. The jealousy inside me served as a burning drive to perfect it.

Singing always came naturally to me, but dancing was something that required a lot of work. Once JT had gone solo, I had more than enough material from which to practice and study. My brother still taught me his Show Choir moves every day, as I secretly continued to learn the “Like I Love You” choreography.

My brother was quickly becoming one of, if not the best dancer in his Show Choir, so impressing him became a top priority. Eventually I showed him the dance and he was blown away. His reaction gave me all the confidence I needed to take my dancing to the next level. I was obsessed.

On a more serious note, it was around that same time that my mom and dad had informed us that my father was diagnosed with cancer. It was a tough pill to swallow, but I was still able to find relief in my newfound passion. It gave me a distraction.

I loved every single song from Justin Timberlake’s debut album “Justified”. I learned every step of every dance he did. Just like young kids imitate the way Jordan moved on the basketball court, I imitated everything about JT. I idolized his songs, performances, and dance routines. Next thing you know, people were calling me Justin Timberlake and I really didn’t hate it. I would still sit in the empty auditorium watching my brothers Show Choir practice every day, but now I would start to show off my moves to some of the members, desperately seeking their approval.

By the time I was in 8th grade, Justin was on tour promoting his first album. I would literally have done anything in the world to attend one of the concerts, but my parents probably took my love for his music as hyperbole, and weren’t going to pay for a ticket. My dad definitely didn’t take it seriously. He always referred to him as “my friend Jason”. My friend Jason?? First of all, he’s not my friend. Second, his name is Justin. Please take my passions seriously! And don’t worryyyy…I’m still big into sports dad! Show Choir isn’t taking over my life (but it is).

Justin’s show in Boston was approaching as I sat in my bedroom dressed like him and practicing his moves, waiting for the radio to announce their ticket contests. I can’t believe I would do something like this, but I actually called in. Someone answered the phone and told me that I would have to speak by only using the names of his songs and various lyrics while they had me on the air. I said what the fuck does that mean! I hate you! So I understandably got freaked out and hung up. I sat there defeated, realizing that his biggest fan was going to miss the show. Getting my hands on a ticket would be similar to Charlie opening up that candy bar and finding the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. The idea of seeing him in person was otherworldly to me, as he had taken on this mythical idea in my mind. His music was changing my life.

Soon after the radio debacle, my brothers girlfriend at the time told him that she had tickets for them to both go together and see his show. My brother was obviously thrilled as he was a HUGE fan as well. He then stopped, and told her he simply couldn’t do that to his younger brother. He couldn’t go without me, and turned it down.

The day before the show, my brothers girlfriend came over our house and my family stood by as if they knew something was going to happen. She walked up to me with a huge smile on her face, and told me I was going to the Justin Timberlake concert. She was giving me her ticket so that I could go with my brother. I fell to the floor in disbelief. Soon after, I lost all control and took off my clothes and went nuts, because for some reason, that’s a thing I do (this was the first time of many).

In one of the best days of my life, I got to somehow attend the concert side by side with my brother, and see my idol perform in person. My brothers girlfriend also found another ticket and was able to attend as well.

Fast forward a few years, and JT has not released an album in a while. In the meantime I’ve become a good dancer in my own right. I was taking hip hop dance classes and practicing as much as I possibly could in my free time. It was the summer going into my senior year, and I was to be the Dance Captain of our High School Show Choir. My dad had recently informed me that his cancer had returned, which was not good news at all given its newfound severity. This was all incredibly sad and overwhelming, yet I was able to find an outlet in dancing again. It gave me a reason to feel good when there was so much else going on. At the same time, JT announced that he was dropping his second album.

Here we go again. Video Music Award part 2. The announcement was that he was going to debut the first song from his next album in a performance for the show. The show began, and as a surprise, JT opened the show by coming out of the ground and onto the stage under a single spotlight, and performing a dance solo to open the show. BOOM! Michael is back.

My father passed away a couple weeks later, and my life was forever changed. We also very nearly lost my mom at the same time due to a major medical emergency. It seemed like I was always either in the hospital, or I was dancing – two very different activities. Justin’s music always picked me up. While emotionally recovering from these events, I began my senior year of High School once again obsessed with his new album.

Later in my senior year, a student who was well known for being an extremely good dancer, had approached me about performing a dance number at the High School Pep Rally. However, we were not to discuss anything yet, because there were serious matters that needed to be addressed, ASAP. Before we could even speak to one another, we obviously had to have a traditional dance off. This is actually a true story. He sent someone else to request a dance off. I was in the middle of teaching an after school dancing program, and kind of just laughed it off. Turns out the kid was serious, so we did it. I don’t drop names, but after he sent his disciple to request the dance off, the man himself walked through the doors that seemingly opened by themselves as a purple fog poured into the room. He approached me, and without uttering a word, began dancing in a deliberate attack on my talents. So, we had a dance off for the ages. Afterwards we became friends and he asked me to perform with him during the Pep Rally. I said hell no. Also, I’m going to save most of the details of this story for another blog because it definitely contains some meaty stuff. I didn’t want to do the Pep Rally because no one really knew I was a dancer, and I wasn’t sure how over a thousand high school kids would react to me dancing in front of them. In fact, I thought it would be a disaster. What if I walked out there and shit my pants?

Long story short, I did it, and it was a big success. I opened the performance by dancing to the same music JT had danced to when he opened his VMA performance. I also listened to his music prior to walking out to center court in front of my entire high school, in order to muster up some much needed confidence. There I was, center court, solo dancing to JT in front of my entire high school.

(This is from a different high school performance. Not the Pep Rally)

At this point in my life I was head over heals obsessed with dancing, and decided that I wanted to pursue it in college. I knew I had to either be in LA or NYC, so I chose the latter so that I could be relatively close to home. This decision to go to school in New York would have major affects on my life. It lead me to my best friend (and other friends) whom I met at Manhattanville College. Not only did this person become my best friend, but I became extremely close with his entire family, which changed everything about my life. Meeting him was possibly the best thing that’s ever happened to me for so many reasons.

So I chose to minor in dance and major in something else in case dancing didn’t work out (which was a smart decision). I found so much inspiration in the work of Justin’s choreographer, Marty Kudelka, who would become one of my heroes in his own right. I watched every one of his videos that I could. I even like to think that I became a good choreographer myself. I started choreographing several dance numbers to be performed in various showcases during my undergraduate at Mville, some obviously better than others. One of them (that I did not choreograph) had me dressed up like a sad and sparkly Las Vegas prostitute, which is absolutely going to be blogged about one day.

After graduating college and living at home for a while, two of my best friends and I decided to move to Hawaii. About a month before this major move and subsequent major shift in my life, JT released his third studio album, and I was possessed yet again. Just before moving down there, I landed a job as a hip hop dance instructor in Honolulu. JTs music had once again served as a major guiding light in my path through life. His single “Mirrors” basically became the definitive song of my experience in Hawaii. One of my other friends who moved with me was a big time fan as well, and we were able to blast his new album throughout our time there. The other friend I was with ultimately proved not worthy of being a true Justin Timberlake fan. Shame.

He ended up getting severely injured while we were all having the time of our lives in the ocean. Did this happen because he talked right through one of our major debuts of a new Justin song? I’m not saying it didn’t, that’s for sure. You don’t interrupt the first listen of a JT song in Michaels presence. You just simply don’t do it!

A little more than a year later, I moved back to New York City once I felt Hawaii had run its course.

Soon after, my best friend who I met at Manhattanville had me over his house (one of the millions of times). It was then that his sister introduced me to her friend, a beautiful girl seemingly full of life. This girl would eventually become my girlfriend, and everything I could ever dream of.

Justin’s first album is what got me into dance. His second album came out just as my father passed away and somehow was able to save me with the distraction and determination to pursue dance. If I never pursued dance, I never would’ve moved to New York where I met my best friend, which ended up leading to my girlfriend of the past three years. His third album came before the biggest decision I would ever make; the decision to move to Hawaii, and served as the soundtrack to the most memorable year of my life.

Nearly a year after meeting my now girlfriend, Justin had released his latest album, Man of the Woods. Not only that, but it was announced that he was going to headline the Super Bowl halftime show…the same Super Bowl that my other hero, Tom Brady was playing in. In addition, he would be releasing the album the weekend of the game. JT was working his magic again.

For my birthday, my girlfriend surprised me by buying us both floor tickets to see his concert at Madison Square Garden on March 21st, 2018 (what would be my dad’s birthday). The serendipitous magic was back and it was better than ever. However, in a wicked twist of fate, the Patriots lost the Super Bowl as Tom Brady fumbled in the final play of the game.

Okay, well at least I still have the concert. The day finally came, and I was electric with life. I was like a boy in a real life musical, singing and dancing my way through the streets of NYC, blaring his music in my headphones. There was a bit of a snow storm that day, but all I could think about was the concert. It was then that I saw Justin had posted something to his Instagram page. It was an announcement saying that the performance wasn’t going to happen because of the snow.

I was ruined. My life felt over.

I thought to myself that up until now, everything had always made sense in terms of timing. I was so crushed that my hero had canceled the show on my dad’s birthday. Now what?! Doesn’t he care about my dad’s birthday?! I honestly texted things like that to my friends (Michael had gone off the deep end, and was in a dark place). I always use his concerts/albums for inspiration. I knew then that my summer was doomed. All was lost.

It would take me months to come to grips with the idea that maybe not all of these things that have happened really had as much meaning as I thought, and it was more of me just creating what I wanted to believe in my head. It was an absolutely crushing idea.

However, Justin did announce that the show would be postponed until October 22nd, but at the time, that felt like a lifetime away, and who even knew if I would live that long. I honestly feel like I cheat death monthly, just waiting for that fateful day when the bus of destiny comes out of no where and gloriously takes me out.

A few months later, my girlfriend and I started planning a trip to Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton. This was basically the greatest thing I could ever think of doing. Seeing these places would be a dream come true. After months of planning, it was finally the day before the trip. I was so unbelievably excited.

It was a really nice day in New York, as I was walking down the sidewalk thinking of nothing other than the trip of a lifetime. I thought to myself that I’m honestly more excited for this than I’ve ever been for anything in my life, even those epic JT concerts. And you know what? I’ll get to see Justin’s concert shortly after the trip is over.

So cool, I thought as I was walking down the street the day before my big trip. I’ll get to wear my “Montana” coat (that I obviously bought at JT’s pop-up store) in Montana, listening to “Montana” from JTs Man of the Woods. It doesn’t get any more super fan than that!! -or scary/worrisome to anyone else- but not this guy!

So I continued walking on the sidewalk, dreaming of tomorrow’s trip, when I looked to my left and saw none other than Justin Timberlake walking towards me!

This was it.

This was the moment I always feared my entire life. I always thought that if I ever saw him, I would sprint away in the opposite direction as fast as I could. I wouldn’t want him to see me. I’m simply not worthy. Not only that, but what if he makes fun of me? Or acts annoyed by something I say? Obviously I would completely fall apart even IF he was cool with me. There’s no chance in hell I would be able to formulate words and act even remotely normal. There’s so much I would want to say, but obviously wouldn’t be able to properly say it. Also, there’s no guarantee that I’ll be looking presentable that day, because way too often, I closely resemble Robin Hood, or Peter Pan (not in a good way). They also say to never meet your idols, and none would be more relevant than me meeting JT.

So I see Justin walking toward me, and I knew my plan was always to flee if I ever saw him, but it didn’t happen.

I saw him, and without hesitation, I turned so that I was facing him as he walked toward me. Just a few feet away, we immediately made eye contact, and the universe probably then exploded and all of this is now a figment of my imagination. I walked toward him and said, “hey man, I just have to tell you that I’m absolutely your biggest fan” (no statement has ever been more accurate).

The way he looked back at me was with complete sincerity. Now I understand that he’s heard this very statement over a thousand times in his life, but I honestly think he saw the authenticity in my eyes when I said that to him, because I said it with some serious meaning (and he’s probably not used to 6’4 men saying it). His eyes seemed to widen and focus as he looked back at me and replied, “hey thanks man”. I then told him that I was going to be attending his concert. It was then that he truly became interested and approached me closer as he asked me which show I was going to. I told him the October 22nd show, which he actually needed some reminding as to which show that was. I stuck out my hand and told him that he was the biggest inspiration in my life, and thanked him. He shook my hand as he looked me squarely in the eyes and thanked me for saying that. In the moment I was hyper aware of anything that would translate as annoyance or frustration in having to talk to another fan, but there was simply none of that. He was very present, and honestly interested in what I was saying to him, and it obviously meant the world to me. Just before we went our separate ways I told him to keep doing what he’s doing, keep pushing it, and killing it.

We split, and that was that.

For one moment of my life, I was standing eye to eye, talking to my life long hero, thanking him for what he’s given me.

I walked about a block away before everything hit me. I truly believe it all happened so fast that the nerves didn’t have time to catch up. I basically went into shock and acted before I could think, which was definitely for the best. Once I was a block away, my entire body started shaking and I was overwhelmed with the emotions of meeting my childhood idol.

It was the greatest moment of my life.

Somehow, someway, I had met my hero Justin Timberlake the day before the biggest trip of my life (a week that would become the best week of my life, by far, and deeply affect me. A week where it felt like I was in heaven at times, sharing a paradise in the memory of my father). I even was able to tell Justin that I would be attending his show. None of this would’ve happened if he hadn’t postponed that March 21st show. Instead, he had appeared at a pivotal moment in my life yet again, this time in person.

I immediately texted my brother, thinking about the time he gave up his ticket so that he wouldn’t see JTs show without me. My brother better than anyone, understood how important this was. He joked with me that the timing of all this made him think twice about whether or not there could be other forces of work at hand.

It felt as if my life had come full circle. I simply was in disbelief.

Picture yourself meeting your #1 hero or idol. This is what had just happened.

My girlfriend was in disbelief. One of my best friends from college came all the way down to see me so that he could hear the story in person. Most of the people in my life (especially from earlier on) understand what JT means to me. Many were just worried that now I might die, given that I just reached the pinnacle. Going into a major trip made up of epic hikes and skydiving, I too realized that my chances of not dying on this upcoming trip were now slim.

I always thought that if I were ever going to meet him, it would be on my death bed. He would come in just as I was dying, take my hand as he compliments my hair and tells me that I seem like an incredible person, and that he was a big fan of my dance videos on YouTube. I would say “thank you Justin Timberlake”, and then die.

I simply couldn’t believe how perfect our interaction had gone. He wasn’t on the phone. He wasn’t in a rush, and I was already in a fantastic mood. It was all so perfect.

I couldn’t help but think about everything I wanted to say to him, but realized it might have been too much had I told him that the only reason I’m standing here right now on this sidewalk in New York is because of him, or that he lead me to my life changing best friend who introduced me to the love of my life, or inspired me to become a dancer and that I also idolize his choreographer and watch his videos every day and that I also listen to his music whenever I’m looking for a confidence boost but also for any situation whatsoever in life and that I’ve modeled so much of my singing after him and know all his songs on guitar and piano and that his music helped get me through some of the toughest times in my life but also the best, and that if anyone talks through the debut of one of your songs in my presence that they are forever cursed and that his “Like I Love You” performance was the most inspired I’ve ever felt ahhhhh!

I get the feeling that he might’ve been freaked out had I told him too much.

So, instead it was perfect. And off into the sunset he went.

Somehow, through all the ripples and variations in my life, Justin Timberlake has remained a constant. For a single moment in both of our lives, fate intertwined, and I got to look my hero in the eyes as he looked back at me.

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My First Ever Trip to Old Yankee Stadium

Baseball season is here!

It’s actually been here for a while. It’s sort of half over actually. Anyways, the Red Sox and the Yankees are back on top of the baseball world this year. The two best teams in the league are once again battling it out in the A.L. East. The two rival franchises return to form has me reflecting on the golden years of these two heavyweight teams battling it out. Story time!

So I first came to New York City back in 2007 during my freshman year at Manhattanville College. Going into my first semester I had one priority, and that was to somehow attend the pivotal Sunday Night Baseball matchup between the Sox and the Yanks that was shaping up to be the game of the year. Both teams were tied for first place in the division, and the pitching matchup was leaning toward Roger Clemens vs Josh Beckett.

Most young college students probably go into their freshman year with various priorities, some more common than others. My top priority to see a baseball game probably wasn’t the most common. However, I’m a baseball nut and this game felt like it was for all the marbles. Also, it was one of my last chances to ever take in a ball game at the original Yankee Stadium before they tore it down.

After being in college for no more than a week, I ventured down toward the old Yankee Stadium (which was far superior to the new stadium, given its history). I wanted to go alone so that I could truly experience all the idiosyncrasies the historical stadium had to offer. Just kidding, I couldn’t find anyone to go with.

Off I went, to the Bronx all alone to find the Evil Empire. I should also mention that this was my first time ever riding a New York subway-the first of many magical experiences! 😒. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. My only plan was to ask the warm and kind citizens of New York City for directions as I went. I was literally a baby gazelle venturing into the jungle all alone and completely vulnerable. I was there for the taking.

There I am ^. Happy, hopeful, and delicious. I somehow found my way to the stadium, and pranced out of the subway doors and down the stairs to the beautiful and fruitful streets of the Bronx.

I had about $150 with me, and no ticket. My only plan was to scalp one off the street. There were literally signs every 20 feet about NOT scalping tickets, as 90% of the time they are fake. I looked around for someone selling tickets-someone who seemed honest and dependable. After not much luck, I heard a deep voice behind me ominously whisper “you need tickets?” I turned around, and slowly out of a dark corner came a man who very much resembled a real life version of Cobra Bubbles from Lilo and Stitch.

(Cobra Bubbles)

Lilo and Stitch is a fantastic and highly unappreciated movie, so I looked at this guy in his pitch black sunglasses and said to myself, “that’s my guy”. A match made in heaven. I told him I would love tickets if he were to be so kind. He then once again ominously whispered in his deep voice, “meet me inside the deli in 5 minutes”. I couldn’t have been more thrilled!

Venturing into the deli, I found Bubbles and gave him a friendly wave. He didn’t wave back. He walked over to me and stood by my side. Then, without looking at me, he slowly put out his hand that had the ticket in it. I asked him how much, and he replied “$100”. Without hesitation, I gave him his well deserved money and off I went!

Feeling like a million bucks I pranced through the streets toward the stadium. Looking down at the single ticket I noticed the face value was $12. Not to worry. Even though I just paid $100 for a $12 bleacher seat, all I could think about was the fact that I was going to finally step foot in one of the most historical stadiums in the world. A stadium that had played a pivotal role in my childhood. This stadium basically represented the birthplace of evil in my mind, and it was something I needed to experience before it was gone forever. The smell of sausages on the grill and vendors yelling out to pick up your program. Manny Ramirez, Roger Clemens, David Ortiz, Jeter, Beckett, Rivera! All the legendary players flying through my mind, filling me with anticipation.

I finally got to the gate to hand the stadium employee my ticket. Reaching out, I handed it over. Bending over, the employee scanned the ticket, and the scanner made a worrisome “beep beep” noise. Fake. It was a fake! Cobra Bubbles how could you?! How could Bubbles do this to me? I thought we had something special! Leaving the line, I walked away completely defeated.

For some reason I only had cash with me, and now Cobra Bubbles had pretty much all of it. I simply didn’t have enough to buy another ticket. Walking in no specific direction, all I could think about was how close I came. Peering inside the small openings of the stadium from the outside, I now looked at the field as an unattainable dream. I was so sad.

I even considered finding Bubbles, tapping him on the shoulder, and saying “excuse me sir, but you sold me a fake and I’m not pleased!”

As I walked around aimlessly, I noticed something peculiar. The scanners being used to admit fans into the game began making odd noises. After investigating, I learned that for some miraculous reason, all the scanners were suddenly having issues, and the stadium employees were now instead forced to simply rip fans tickets in half. There IS a God! I quickly ran to a different gate so that I wouldn’t be recognized and handed the man my fake ticket. He ripped it, and I walked through the gate and into Yankee Stadium.

I felt like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music as she sprints up the picturesque foothills of the Alps, spinning in circles and belting out a beautiful song.

Hearing the roar of the crowd upon looking down on the the same field that has served as the site of some of the most legendary moments in the history of sports was something I’ll never forget. However, I soon discovered first hand why this place had so long served as a modern day Mordor (LOTR reference. The films are a masterpiece and I hate you if consider them “nerdy”).

There were literally fights in every section of the entire stadium at all times throughout the game, and that is no exaggeration. I saw about ten police officers in the upper deck barreling down the steep stairs uncontrollably in the midst of an all out brawl. Fans getting carried out on stretchers became commonplace as unbelievably disturbing verbal abuse served as a soundtrack to the game. I did get to see Clemens pitch in one of his last games ever, along with all the other legends on both sides of the rivalry, so that was pretty special.

All in all though, it was actually kind of a nightmare. Cheering for your favorite team in its most hated rival’s stadium is never a good idea. Also, sitting amongst the classy individuals of the bleachers in the most heated game of the year probably amplified the whole experience. In saying that, my main takeaway from the trip to Yankee Stadium was actually about something else:

Against all odds, I overcame Cobra Bubbles.

Remembering DJ Henry

Dan Henry (DJ) was one of my best friends from the moment I met him at Easton Junior High School.

I met DJ on the very first day of school. He had just moved here and really didn’t know anyone yet. Dan sat in the first row of the class, right in the middle and in front of the teacher. After class, I went over and introduced myself and we both joked at strange observations we had silently made through an otherwise uneventful period. It was in that moment that I first heard DJ’s infectious laugh after agreeing that he had made a foolish mistake to sit where he did. I was instantly drawn to his sense of humor. Personally, I liked to hide in the back corner of the class where it’s safe, so I also admired his courage to sit where he sat on his first day in a brand new school.

A few months later and after getting to know each other better, I was hanging out with Dan at his house in Easton. 

The first time I came over his house he looked me in the eyes and said that I was the first friend he’s ever had over his home. What he said struck me as a refreshingly honest thing to admit. Had I been in his position I probably would’ve lied and acted like my house serves as a constant turnstile of friends, too insecure to blatantly admit the truth. That really wasn’t who Dan was. He was so honest and incredibly comfortable in his own skin that it really struck a chord with me. Between sitting where he sat on his first day, to admitting that I was his first-ever house guest, I quickly gathered that he wasn’t someone afraid to be vulnerable, and I loved that.

That first time I came over I noticed how filled with love his home was. There were two little siblings running around (who are now brave adults). Dan seemed to have a special bond with his younger brother and sister. He also had two loving parents who sat with us and had dinner together. It was clear to me that Dan’s courage to sit in the very front row of the class in a new school had been passed down from his parents. DJ’s character was a testament to their upbringing.

Over the years Dan continued to grow as an athlete and we would constantly play one on one basketball games (I guess I’ll use Dan as inspiration and not be afraid to admit that I always lost). Eventually, he was consumed by football and working out. I meanwhile was consumed with singing and dancing lol lol! So we didn’t see each other as often, but we ended up spending time together when we both took driver’s education a good two years after the rest of our grade had already completed it. My dad would often drive Dan and myself to class and we would all pretty much just laugh the entire time as we all made fun of one another. Then the two of us would both struggle to stay focused in class simply because we found too many mundane things to be funny, like pointlessly arguing over who could eat more. In an effort to put on muscle, Dan would eat two helpings of pretty much everything, but I didn’t want to admit that he was right. 

Toward the beginning of my Senior year, Dan and his family came over to me at my Dad’s funeral. I remember his mother giving me the most genuine and loving hug I’d ever received, as tears streamed down her face. The authenticity of that exchange will stay with me for the rest of my life.

After graduation, we both went off to college and somewhat continued to stay in touch. Dan was pursuing football where he was working his tail off as a wide receiver.

A couple years later after a Homecoming game, Dan went out to celebrate the victory with his teammates.

After pulling his car out of the fire lane, a police officer shot Dan to death through the windshield. Officers pulled DJ’s dying body out of the car, handcuffed him, and left him to lie on the ground as he bled out without any assistance whatsoever—there’s disturbing video evidence. 

Dan was someone who did the right thing his entire life. He was a polite, funny, and driven individual who pushed those around him to be better. Most importantly, he had an incredible heart. Any claim by the police on scene at the time can be directly contradicted by both witnesses who were there, and also every bit of Dan’s character that so many were lucky enough to have experienced over the years. 

His death was the result of unchecked, systematic racism that has inexcusably existed since America’s creation.

Plenty of my friends are police officers, and they are very good people doing a very important job. However, we owe it to ourselves to fight for a better society than the generation that came before us. It is our duty to demand change, and that starts with police reform. Those who are supposed to protect their country’s own citizens need to be held much more accountable for their actions. Dan’s death will not be in vain, and neither will countless others including George Floyd who have died at the hand of racism, and the privileged who turn a blind eye to its existence because its the path of least resistance.

The cop who shot my friend was named “Officer of the Year” one year later. 

I attended Dan’s funeral service with my Mom at the Boston Convention Center, on what would have been his 21st birthday. By then, his death had rightfully caused a stir and there might have been over a thousand people in attendance, including public figures. Jay-Z had even dedicated a song to him. There was a moment during the funeral where Dan’s mother was speaking, and she mentioned how special it was to see how many lives DJ had touched because at one point in his life he had told her that he felt like he didn’t have many friends at all. At that moment I thought back to my first visit to Dan’s house and him saying what he said to me, and I instantly broke down in tears. All those people in attendance were a testament to DJ’s unbreakable yet refreshingly vulnerable character. 

It’s great to see so many people finally speaking out against racism, even if they have not experienced it themselves. I know that many people fear ridicule from friends and family for being bold enough to challenge the simple phrase that “all lives matter” when they must understand that it’s clearly a shortsighted statement. Black lives clearly haven’t mattered as much as white lives, which is why we all need to especially shine a light on those who have suffered from oppression for hundreds of years in the United States. If you haven’t yet found the courage to stand up for what’s right, just try taking a page out of my friend DJ Henry’s book:

Don’t fear vulnerability–Embrace it. 

Dogs Providing Comfort in a Time of Uncertainty

“One day my human friends will never leave the house again!!” – Every dog in the world

The Coronavirus has turned the entire world upside down, reshaping the livelihood of billions of people. An overwhelming sense of sadness and uncertainty blankets our world as countless people struggle with health, jobs, and mental well-being.

However, there’s a silver lining to be found in almost any scenario, and sometimes it just requires a little extra digging to find it.

With the exception of essential workers, the pandemic requires us to almost entirely stay home. We miss our friends and family. We miss our jobs. We miss our lives. But if there is a silver lining to be found, look no further than your furry best friend who’s wildest dreams have finally come true.

At the very least, it’s a great time to be a dog, and it’s a great time to have a dog!

It’s not just current dog families who are benefiting—animal shelters have also reached an unprecedented level of demand they never dreamed possible.

Some animal organizations average around 140 applications per month. That number has now risen to as high as 3,000 applicants at times during this pandemic.

As covered by NBC New York, the founder and executive director of Foster Dogs inc mentions how the demand for dogs is at an all time high. Several shelters have been completely cleared out and emptied for the first time in their existence!

That same article describes how New York resident Emily Lowe adopted two dogs after her roomate had to move out of New York City over Coronavirus concerns.

To many Americans there’s never been a better time to adopt, and the empty cages are a testament to that. People are currently looking for that extra comfort, and our dog friends will always be there to provide their families with love and laughter.

Covid-19 has terribly impacted our livelihood in so many ways, but if we need to find a source of positivity in such a troubling time, just think about the empty animal cages in shelters across America, or take a look at the furry friend sitting by your feet who’s finally getting to spend all the time in the world with you.

My Moment in Paradise: The Hike to Grinnell Glacier

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For those of you who are unaware, my girlfriend and I just returned from the trip of a lifetime to Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton. The experience was overwhelmingly moving and exciting. For me, it was a culmination of so many of my life long dreams coming together for one, truly epic week-the best week of my life.

Glacier National Park

I grew up watching nature programs, and I fell in love with the natural world at an early age because of my parents. I remember sitting side by side with my dad, watching nature programs on places like Yellowstone, dreaming of one day seeing a place like that with my own eyes. He was a father who showed me how to view the world. He would take me out early in the morning to look for deer in our suburban town of Massachusetts. Deer…not the most exciting thing in the world, but it was his enthusiasm for that which is wild that was truly contagious. He looked at things differently. Never would we pass an open valley or a lake without him giving it a glance to take in its beauty. After his passing, my mom and I continued to travel to the White Mountains of New Hampshire in his memory, in search of wildlife (particularly moose. Huge moose guy. If you didn’t know this, do you really even know me? Moose magic. There’s nothing like it…I think we can all easily agree on that).

Toward the end of his life, my dad told me not to worry about his passing. He said that soon, he would be flying through the mountains of Alaska and over the tree tops of its rugged wilderness.

As my girlfriend and I left Glacier National Park at the end of its three day segment of the trip, I couldn’t help but become emotional. Gazing out the window, tears filled my eyes for a few minutes as the pristine wilderness passed us by (and by a few minutes, I mean much more than a few minutes) Exiting the Many Glacier road, I began to reflect on what this experience all meant.

I began thinking about how we all have our own versions of what heaven would be like. We all have places, memories, or people that would transform us into the happiest version of ourselves. Looking around at the stunning mountain peaks and their cascading waterfalls, sitting side by side with my girlfriend and reflecting on the life changing experiences of the past few days, I realized that this is my version-this was my heaven. Maybe, just for a moment, I was sharing this version of heaven with my dad.

My Moment in Paradise: The Hike to Grinnell Glacier-

Glacier National Park in northern Montana is completely overwhelming with its stunning mountain peaks, and expansive and incredibly wild landscapes. However, it was one day in particular that stood out. It was a day whose grandeur could not be contained. It felt as if it had been simmering for 30 years of my life, waiting to finally emerge into the spotlight and leave its name as the greatest day of my life: The Hike to Grinnell Glacier.

The day began with us waking up in our campsite and gearing up for a major hike to the famous Grinnell Glacier. I had researched the trek before the trip began, and understood that it contained some pretty steep drop offs along the way. My greatest fear by the way, is standing on the side of a mountain, or obviously a cliff with a steep drop off. However, I felt like this trip was going to be one for the ages, and nothing could be held back. I would have to face my fears in order to get the most out of the experience.

We headed out early for the first leg of the journey, which consisted of us hiking through a few miles of wooded terrain. Ultimately, the hike tallied up to a 15 mile round trip, but the first 3 miles would be relatively easy, taking us through lush vegetation.

Not one mile into the hike, I heard a loud sound in the bush extremely close to where we were walking. I immediately stopped to listen and see if I could get a glance of what it was, without getting any closer. Stepping into an opening was an absolutely massive bull moose, no more than 20 feet away from us.

We had seen a female moose the day before, but in comparison to the males they are about half the size. Now, I’ve proudly seen my share of moose in my day. I want to say thousands? This bull however, might just have been the biggest. He was enormous and dangerously close, and rocking a good six foot rack of antlers. It really gets you going! Moose magic!!

(Once he moved down to the lake)

After this experience the blood was flowing, and it suddenly felt like anything could come running out of the bush at any moment. The hike soon ran alongside the pristine Swiftcurrent Lake, as well as Lake Josephine.

Farther up the trail we ran into a couple hikers who were walking in the opposite direction right toward us with their eyes wide open. The guy told me to watch out because there was a grizzly bear with two cubs on the path a little ways up. “Oh good”, I thought. Yeah, I’ll just “watch out” -no problem!

The only thing worse than a grizzly bear is an overly protective grizzly mom with cubs. I honestly can’t explain what it’s like when you’re walking through narrow paths of thick brush and trees, just waiting for an 800 pound grizzly bear to sprint out of no where and rip your face off. Thank god for my handy bear spray! The plan was that while the ferocious grizzly sprints right for me, I would kindly ask it to hold on for just a minute so that I can carefully remove the safety from my bear spray, and properly line it up to spray it directly in the face. Okay bear, you may now continue your pursuit. Also, it’s windy, so I should prepare to be blinded by the spray that blows back directly in my face. I’ll be a blind man surrounded by grizzlies, even IF the spray somehow works. Also, Park Rangers had already informed us that the spray only sometimes does the job. Occasionally, the bear fights through it and kills you anyway, even if you somehow did everything right. This idea prompted me to then ask the rangers about carrying a knife, or even a gun. I was told that if you were close enough to stab a grizzly, then you were already dead, and with a gun, they tend to just get shot and keep running toward you, much like the terminator.

So with these thoughts in my head, I held out my bear spray like a gun in front of me as we passed through the area that we were warned to “watch out”. We continually yelled out that we meant no harm to the bear’s children, and I think our kind words worked.

I understand what you’re thinking. “How could this possibly be a paradise”? Well the greatest rewards in life come with the greatest risks. Trekking through the dense forest was the only way to the prize that sat atop the mountain ahead. At least that’s what I kept telling myself as I tried to muster up all the fake confidence I could. I also refused to ever let my girlfriend walk ahead of me because she’s about half my size and would be the ideal catch for a grizzly.

If a bear even got CLOSE to her, I would without a doubt turn into a…wait for it…ugly crying baby. It’s almost as if I’m plugging another one of my blogs!

Ugly Crying Babies

Eventually our hike began really climbing in elevation. This is where my greatest personal challenge really presented itself. As I said, I have a really big fear of heights. Whenever I’m standing too close to a ledge I tend to get vertigo. However, I went into this vacation and this hike with the idea that nothing could be held back. I didn’t want to play it safe. When I’m on my death bed, I won’t remember the times where I was sitting on my sofa watching tv (unless it was when I was watching the Sox/Pats win championships of course). I would have to cross that safety line I had built up in order to truly get the most out of this experience.

(An idea of the drop off)

I continually had to fight all the thoughts that normally dominate my ridiculous mind, like what if there is no reflective death bed because I fell thousands of feet and landed on top of a bunch of jagged rocks? Or what if a grizzly steps out from behind a corner forcing me to play dead, and then starts to bite into the top of my skull just before it rolls me off the ledge?

For one day, I would have to ignore these thoughts and try my best to be someone else. So we continued to climb higher and higher. Soon we were very much walking right on the edges of cliffs. My ultimate fear in life is standing on the edge of a cliff thousands of feet up. It makes my mind go numb with fear. The only other terrible situation I can think of that would compare would be if I were to be treading open water at night in the middle of the ocean. Terrible situations.

The higher we hiked, the more the beauty of the landscape began to really take hold. I’m talking out of this world beauty. Blue and florescent glacially fed lakes to the backdrop of rugged cliffs and bright green colored mountains dotted with yellow and orange fall colors. Wildflowers filled the air with heavenly aromas as stunning waterfalls cascaded down from the snow covered peaks above us. And boom, slip from the cliff and fall thousands of feet. That was the issue here. I couldn’t get too lost in the views because my life still depended on me constantly taking a responsible step forward.

However, these views were among the best I’ve ever seen, if not the best. They rivaled that of the Napali Coast on the north shore of Kauai. The idea that we had earned these views though by hiking through grizzly habitat and braving sheer drop offs, could possibly put these experiences over the top. The colors were out of this world.

At this point I’m absolutely exhausted. Problem is, we still had about 8 more miles of hiking to do, with about 4 of the miles being an extremely steep uphill climb. There’s no going back, only forward to the prize that at the time I certainly hoped was worth it.

Climbing nearly 2,000 feet in elevation gain in a relatively short amount of time certainly took its toll. I kept needing to stop more and more, when eventually I looked around and realized we were in an area that looked like prime mountain lion habitat.

It made me think of what one of the rangers told me to do if attacked by one of these lions. He said, “fight back…fight with everything you’ve got”.

Fight back?!?! Jesus Chrysler.

Yeah I’ll just fight the fucking mountain lion one on one. I love my chances. I’m terrified of an aggressive house cat. The second one of those unexpectedly pounces at me I scream like a school girl. A scary house cat has 100% of the intimidation factor over me. Now lets multiply that house cat by a billion, leave it to evolve for thousands of years in the unforgiving wild, and send it in to fight sweet and innocent Michael. The ranger then told us the story of a fellow employee who had been hiking alone on this trail when she was stalked by two mountain lions for 45 minutes. That is such a long time to think about your terrible death to come. Pretty sure I’d just jump off the mountain at that point.

Anyway, my girlfriend and I carried on. Eventually, we got well above the tree line, to the point where we were looking down onto the tops of several mountains in the surrounding area. We then got to a point where there were a patch of trees that seemed to have no right being this high above the rest of the forest. When we got there, something truly magical happened. There, standing amongst the strange and curly trees were several bighorn sheep, otherwise known as rams. They looked absolutely majestic, like something straight out of a fantasy movie.

There seemed to be an alpha male amongst the group, and he couldn’t have been standing more than 10 feet away, staring us straight in the eye. Sure, I worried about the ram doing what he was born to do, and charging me into the ground, followed by a relentless beating for the ages, but that threat just wasn’t there. It was like he was welcoming us into his magical kingdom that sits at the top of the mountain. It was truly one of the coolest experiences of my life.

After taking many pictures, we continued our trek to the glacier that finally felt close by. Hiking just slightly over one last hill, the glacier and it’s heavenly lake came into view, and it was pure magic. It was one of the best things I’ve ever seen. Sure, the pictures are stunning, but they obviously don’t do it justice. It felt like we had been climbing the stairs to heaven, when the head guardian(the ram) greeted us at the gates, and slowly opened the doors, granting us our first view of paradise.

We sat down on a rock that sat right on the edge of the glacier lake, and took it all in. It was probably the most peaceful moment of my life. It was heaven.

The giant white glacier, the florescent lake filled with floating icebergs, the surrounding cliffs and their breathtaking waterfalls were all so beautiful that it was hard to believe it was real. On top of all this, my girlfriend and I were overjoyed with the feeling of self accomplishment. Getting to that glacier was one of the hardest physical things I’ve ever done, and definitely the most difficult hike (Sidenote: It was my first hike).

You honestly can’t tell me that a unicorn doesn’t live up there. I won’t have it any other way. He most certainly makes love in this lake to his gorgeous unicorn love interest who only appears once every 100 harvest moons. She sings to him a haunting yet mesmerizing love hymn he simply cannot resist, nor would he choose to.

Cassiopeia of the moonlight night

Sing to me, sing to me, in the light.

Absolutely everything happened during this hike. We saw a bull moose twenty feet away (my life obsession), we saw the most unbelievable views I’ve ever seen in my life, we were greeted by a majestic ram in a magical forest at the top of the mountain, and we relaxed by the foot of a glacier that sat 7,000 feet above sea level (and drank the water too).

No stone was left unturned. I even questioned a ranger on every possible question a boy could ever dream of. It wasn’t until I asked him about the Sasquatch scene in Glacier National Park that he finally ran out of answers. Talk to me ranger. What can you tell me about Bigfoot here in Glacier? He responded with confusion and a bit of surprise that I was asking this question. However, it turns out that he was just an intern, which would explain his lack of knowledge on the subject. Next time I will be sure to ask a more polished and seasoned park ranger. Preferably, it would be a ranger who screams confidence, and good looks certainly wouldn’t hurt. I’m thinking a chiseled jaw line could be just what the doctor ordered. Aka, the Josh Brolin type. Next time, I’ll be sure to ask a park ranger who looks like Josh Brolin to give me all the details on Bigfoot activity in the park.

Sure, at times this hike was absolutely terrifying, and whether you’re afraid of heights, or just afraid of being mauled by a grizzly bear, the paradise that sits atop this mountain does not come without struggle and self doubt.

The greatest things in life are earned. I couldn’t help but think about what my dad told me later in his life while I sat, gazing at the glacier and it’s surrounding cliffs. For a moment, it felt like we shared the same heaven, and I was lucky enough to have my girlfriend there with me (I also wouldn’t have made it without her).

There are majestic experiences my dad has missed out on, but if I’ve learned anything, it’s that no one truly ever dies. They live on in those who gave them life while they were here. Living your life to the fullest, and living it as a reflection of their own life is everything they could ever want.

Those you love most can still exist, if you exist for them.

This day, this place, and this feeling, was my heaven. For a moment in time, all of the distractions of life were swept aside while I lied there with my girlfriend in paradise.

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Ugly Crying Babies

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A lot of people think I hate babies.

This insane idea couldn’t be any further from the truth. I love babies so much that I hold them to a relatively high standard. If I hated them, I’d be like the rest of you and just go “aweee” every time I saw one, whether it was crying or not.

Fuck that noise.

Parents don’t yell at other children because they don’t care about anyone’s kids other than their own. They’ll scream at their own kids all day and night, maybe more. Why? Because they want them to be better. They’re being held to a higher standard. Same goes for my relationship with the every day baby.

As I’m writing this I’m watching a baby (maybe two years old. Is that still a baby? I don’t know. It’s definitely not an adult) poking a stranger on the subway and screaming “boo!” If I were that guy I’d consider grabbing the baby by its ankles and launching it twenty feet to the far side of the subway car (where it obviously lands safely on two feet like a cat). Poke me one more time bro, and you’re fucking dead.

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Maybe my frustration with nasty little babies comes from my own perfection that I displayed at that age. I was beyond outstanding. Never cried. Only smiled. And filled the air with a contagious laughter, while looking gorgeous the entire time. I even had a subtle British accent (seriously).

Put it this way….I’m really not one to brag, but Michael Jackson would’ve LOVED me. I would’ve been his all time fav, and that’s really saying something. Just take a look at his roster. You’ve got that little Hispanic kid who was with MJ for that entire documentary on ABC, which ended up being his downfall by the way. That little boy was gorgeous, no other way around it (also, don’t try and connect my Peter Broccoli character with this blog, they’re completely unrelated. Glad we cleared that up, so now you’ll never think about it again). In addition, there was also the one and only Macaulay Culkin, who was the textbook definition of child excellence. No one could’ve foreseen him eventually turning into the grim reaper, not even Michael Jackson.

(Culkin in grim reaper mode. Yikes)

Despite these child powerhouses that filled the MJ estate, it would’ve been yours truly who rained supreme, and I’m honestly being objective here.

So I know, it can be done. Baby perfection is attainable.

So when I see these ugly crying babies everywhere, I seriously want to die. What’s worse is that everyone around me simply adores them! Ever heard of something called standards? It’s scientifically proven that 87% of babies are completely ugly. They don’t warrant an “awe”, they deserve an “ugh”.

(Side note: I’m not referring to babies with any sort of disabilities. They actually can be the cutest of all)

Ugly, crying babies think the entire world revolves around them. They have no understanding of the horrors that every other person is living with, and instead just scream-cry about not being able to hold their stupid toy. I just wasn’t that way. I put others first, and stayed quiet and courteous when I was in public (aside from a well placed, witty comment that would get the crowd a buzz).

(The crowd loving my baby charisma)

How many times have you been on a plane where the most disgusting little child starts screaming at the top of its lungs, and stays screaming for three hours. Nobody makes a peep!! No one says anything. I mean obviously the parents are the ones to blame here, but that’s a given…it’s too obvious to even address. I’m looking beyond that. I’m looking at that red faced, snot dripping baby that everyone just loves so much. Fuck that selfish baby!

I’m just saying what needs to be said. Maybe everyone is somehow hiding their anger, but when I hear a screaming baby I fill with an uncontrollable internal rage. It makes me want to turn into Pennywise the Dancing Clown, and scream in that babies face so that it finally has something real to cry about! Maybe that was too much.

What I’m really saying is that I love babies.

I love them more than you do. I just don’t walk around loving every little annoying shit kid, because I know they can do better. I hate them, because I care so much. Be. Better. I want to see them succeed and truly earn an “awe”. Earn it!

That’s all for today.

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The 20 Greatest Red Sox Players of the Last 20 Years

Currently, the Red Sox are annihilating every team in the league, so I figured what better way to reflect on greatness, than by ranking the best players over the last 20 years. Makes sense.

It’s important to note that the order in which players appear on the list is not so much a recognition of pure talent, as it is an overall perspective on the various elements that go into the makeup of a legendary Red Sox player. Numbers, longevity, postseason success, clutch performance, and mystique were all taken into consideration when I arranged the players on this list:

20. Dave Roberts

The stolen base heard round the world. Without Dave Roberts, there is nothing. I understand that it might be stunning to put someone who is only known for ONE play on this list, but my god was it a big play. His stolen base during the 2004 ALCS was the biggest stolen base of all time. Down three games to none, in a best of seven series, the Red Sox with all their expectations and promise, were on the brink of getting swept to their most hated rival in their own ballpark, just one year after the events of Aaron Boone’s walk off ALCS win. Dave Roberts stepped in to pinch run for Kevin Millar who earned a walk, off of the great Mariano Rivera, in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. One out away from being swept, Dave Roberts stole second base and the rest is history.

19. Mike Lowell

Mike Lowell was a critical member of the 2007 World Series squad. He put up great numbers during his time manning third base at Fenway, and was well liked in the clubhouse. His timely hitting and above average fielding helped make him a hometown favorite. He also was the MVP of the 2007 World Series.

18. Koji Uehara

The closer for the 2013 World Champion Boston Red Sox was Koji Uehara, and he was nearly unhittable. Without him, we don’t win that World Series. Aside from what he brought to the field, he also brought a massive presence to the clubhouse. He was absolutely loved by David Ortiz and the rest of his teammates.

17. Jonathan Papelbon

Papelbon was a dominant reliever for years in Boston. Obviously his greatest contribution came during the 2007 World Series run, but it wasn’t his only. For several years, his presence coming out of the bullpen was one of massive intimidation. He could strikeout any player in the league with 3 straight fastballs. All he did was go up there and challenge the greatest players in the world to hit his fastball in the biggest moments, and they couldn’t do it. He is a huge reason for Boston’s run of success after their first World Series title.

16. Mookie Betts

Deciding where to put Mookie on this list is slightly difficult only because of the fact that he’s been with the Red Sox for just a few years now, and has yet to win a title. However, he’s one of the very best baseball players I’ve ever seen. Eventually, he will be much, much higher on this list. For now, we can only judge him on his talent alone, since the Sox haven’t had much of a great postseason presence since he’s been with the club. As far as talent goes, he’s got it all. Power hitting, speed, incredible defense, baseball IQ, clutch moments, and leadership qualities all define Mookie. If he eventually goes deep into the playoffs or wins a championship, his status on this list will completely change.

15. Keith Foulke

Thats right, I have Foulke above Mookie. I also have him above the other closers of the past championship teams. Thats because the game that Foulke had to close out, was the ultimate game to close out in the history of baseball. He was the one trusted with the task of taking the mound in the ninth inning to erase an 86 year old curse that some believed to be unbreakable. Whatever could go wrong, would go wrong. So to be able to get someone up there on that mound, with all that noise and dark history of those who have failed before him, and turn it into focus with the weight of the world on his back, is something that I will always cherish. Long live Keith Foulke!

14. Dustin Pedroia

Pedroia became sort of the face of the Red Sox (aside from #34) for years after he took over at second base. He was someone who Boston fell in love with; a tiny 5’3 guy who shouldn’t be playing professional ball, but here he was establishing himself as one of the best in the game. He was rookie of the year as well as one of the finalists for MVP during his reign. His clutch at bats and acrobatic, game-saving defensive plays were like second nature at one point. A two-time World Series Champion, the dude is one of the best grinders in the game. Where he is now, I have no idea. The guy has been injured for like seven years.

13. Jon Lester

Here’s another two time champ. Lester was the dominant lefty ace who served as an essential piece to both titles in 2007 and 2013. Not only was he one of the very best pitchers in the league, but he was also at his best when he needed to be. On top of that, he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2006. One year later, he was out there winning the Championship for us. Lester was a gamer AND an insanely talented pitcher. Should’ve kept him Dombrowski!

12. Josh Beckett

From one dominant ace to another, Beckett was unhittable in the postseason. Sure he was a Cy Young Award Winner, but he also was one of the most clutch Red Sox players I’ve ever seen in October. Beckett would paint with pure gas, and then buckle hitters knees with his twelve-to-six curveball for seven to nine innings, right when you needed it the most. Beckett was a true ace, and an insanely big game pitcher.

11. Derek Lowe

Come to think of it, Lowe might be a little…lowe on this list, if you will. To me, he is one of the founding fathers of the Red Sox of the last 20 years. He was a successful closer for the team during the 90s, and then seamlessly transitioned into being a highly effective starter. He even started an All Star Game. He was a critical member of the team during the end of the 86 year Boston Ice Age, so to see him serve as one of the prominent members of the team on the year the Red Sox rewrote history was incredibly emotional. Without him, we don’t break that curse. He was the winning pitcher in every series clinching game during the 2004 postseason run, including Game 7 in New York, and the final game of the World Series. During that stretch, Lowe became unhittable, and wrote himself into the history books.

10. Tim Wakefield

Wakefield might be the worst player on this list, or maybe he shouldn’t even be on it. He also might be one of the very best and one of the most important. That was Wakefield’s game. You almost never knew what you were getting when he took the mound during his 100 year Red Sox career. Longevity obviously plays a huge role in Wakefield’s placement on this list. He was with the team forever, and was on the mound for one of the very worst sports moments of my life, as he watched Aaron Boone’s homerun sail over his head and into the Yankee Stadium bleachers. He then returned to that mound the following year, proving to be an absolutely critical piece in the greatest story in sports history. He was the guy who was on the mound for what felt like 7 innings of scoreless relief, during game 5 of that 14 inning marathon during the Yankee series. Every five games, Wakefield took the mound for an eternity and threw his boring knuckleball that would either prove to be unhittable for an entire game, or nothing but a delicious meatball for American League hitters to smash over the monster. Wakefield is a true Red Sox legend in my mind. Long live the knuckleball.

9. Trot Nixon

Trot is another guy I consider to be a founding father of the Red Sox. I grew up in the 90’s and simultaneously fell in love with the Red Sox during that time. Trot manned right field for what seemed like forever during that time period, and beyond. A true Red Sox, he finally got to win a championship with the team in 2004. Not only that, but they couldn’t have done it without his timely, clutch hitting. Trot like Mookie, also has a great baseball name, so thats extra points.

8. Mo Vaughn

Mo Vaughn was king in Boston during the 90s. We had no championship banners to raise in any sport, so we turned to our MVP slugger of the hometown favorite team as our guy. The hit dawg was a legend amongst fools on that team (other than #5 and #45). He would rake around 40 home runs a year, and they were all moon shots. He was one of those guys where every time they would come to the plate, Fenway would come to life hoping for something special.

7. Johnny Damon

Uh yes, Johnny Damon. Before he betrayed the city, he was our hero. He was possibly the face of the 2004 team, with that Jesus-like haircut and beard he was rocking, along with his athleticism in the field mixed with his timely hitting. Always a fan favorite, his at bats would bring the Fenway faithful to their feet. He was like a rock star in Boston. His grand slam in Game 7 of the ALCS all but destroyed the Yankees that year, and maybe forever. What he gave us was WAY more than what he took from us by later joining the Evil Empire. For that, I will forever be grateful of the mystique that was Jonny Damon.

6. Curt Schilling

Curt Schilling was the guy we brought in to help us end our 86 year old curse, once and for all. That was his title coming in, so you can imagine the pressure. Did he live up to it? Uh yes, he did. He was the ace on the 2004 team that INCLUDED Pedro. He won 21 games in his first year with the club, and was the ace the team dreamed of having in October. He talked shit to our most hated rival, and backed it up. He wasn’t afraid of any big moment. In fact, the bigger the moment, the better he was. After winning Game 1 of the ALDS before suffering a severe ankle injury, he was destroyed in the following series by the Yanks in Game 1, the game he was brought here to win. Clearly injured, the Yankees took him to town as the stadium never seemed more electric. Somehow, he got a second chance to redeem himself in Game 6. You know the story…bloody sock and all, Curt Schilling became a Boston legend. He then dominated his start for us in the 2004 World Series, as well as his postseason starts during the 2007 World Series run as well. The Red Sox don’t win either of those championships without him.

5. Jason Varitek

Tek. The Captain. Jason Varitek held it down behind home plate for his 14 year career, all of which he played for the Red Sox. He was a leader and a role model in the clubhouse. Pitchers beamed about his presence behind the plate, and his ability to properly manage the game. Once his offense eventually caught up to his defensive prowess, he truly took off and became a dependable hitter as well. Varitek also wouldn’t back down from anybody, much like we saw in the brawl between he and A-Rod at Fenway. The two time champion defined what it meant to be a great Red Sox.

4. Manny Ramirez

Manny is still the greatest right handed hitter I’ve ever seen. For his entire career, he struck fear into opposing pitchers, players, managers, and fans. He could take the best pitch from the best pitcher in the league, including Roger Clemens, Andy Pettit, and Randy Johnson, and launch it four hundred feet into the night sky. He batted for both average and power. Every single year he was in the running for the MVP, and sometimes the Triple Crown. The first ballot hall of famer finished with over 12 All Star Game appearances, the 2002 American League Batting Crown, 500 total home runs, 21 grand slams (third all time), and 29 postseason home runs (most all time). The 2004 World Series MVP was the power at the very heart of the Red Sox lineup for years.

3. Nomar Garciaparra

From 1996-2004, Nomahhhh was the face of the franchise. He was truly a Boston icon. Growing up at that time, every single kid would imitate his batting stance on the little league fields. Number 5 was the first number gone in jersey selections for any baseball team in New England. He was the definition of an incredible baseball player. He was the American League Rookie of the Year in 1997, and won back-to-back American League Batting Crowns. When you thought of the Red Sox, you thought Nomar. Every time he would come to the plate, the Fenway faithful would rise as one, cheering on a man who had taken on a certain mystique. The batting stance, the acrobatic plays at shortstop, and his incredible hitting abilities engraved Nomar as a Boston legend forever. Nomaaahhhh!!

2. Pedro Martinez

Pedro’s prime was the greatest any pitcher has ever been, or ever will be, when it comes to throwing a baseball. At 95 mph and perfectly placed, his fastball was the best in the game. A curveball that would make hitters quickly turn to protect their head as the ball secretly ends up back in the strike zone, it too was the best curveball in the game. Like the great Jerry Remy used to say, Pedro could walk up to the batter and tell him he is going to throw a changeup and they still wouldn’t be able to hit it. Yes, Pedro also had the best changeup in the game, and maybe the best ever. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Pedro was absolutely untouchable. Keep in mind, his prime came at a time when the use of steroids were at their height. People like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were juicing and smashing over 60 home runs a year, yet when it came to Pedro, they were made to look like someone who shouldn’t even be holding a baseball bat. The dominant Yankees were in the middle of their reign in the late 90s, yet Pedro would walk into their own stadium and strike out 17 batters while only allowing one hit. Martinez was truly a polarizing sports figure. Players knew they were going to strike out before they even stepped into the batters box. Ask any of the great hitters of that generation who the toughest pitcher was, and they’ll cut you off before you even finish the question. Pedro ultimately proved critical in breaking the Curse of the Bambino, and helped to bring a World Series Championship to Boston, as the ace of all aces.

1. David Ortiz

Every once in a generation, someone comes along who refuses to do anything but the impossible. Someone who stares fear straight in the eye, and pushes back. Someone who has the ability to bring millions of fans around the world to tears with inspirational perseverance and heroics. David Ortiz is not only the greatest Red Sox of the last twenty years, he’s the greatest ever. With an 86 year Championship drought, Ortiz (also known as Big Papi) put the Red Sox on his back, and carried them up to the mountain top. With all of history going agains them, Ortiz was the one who repeatedly accomplished the impossible. No team had ever come back in a best of seven series when trailing 3-0. Down 3 games to 0 in the ALCS to our most hated rival, it was Big Papi who forever became a legend of the sports world. Flashback to Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. Pedro vs Clemens. Extra innings. Aaron Boone wins it with a walk off home run that broke the back and spirits of Red Sox nation. So then, a year later the Red Sox have the chance to redeem themselves and get revenge on the team that has caused them more pain than any other team in the league for 100 years. Down 3 games to 0 in the ALCS, Ortiz hits a walk off home run in extra innings to win us just one game in the series. The next night was game 5, and it was a 14 inning marathon. Ortiz got them within one run in the bottom of the eighth, and then won it in extras again, for the second night in a row. He also hit a walk off home run to win us the ALDS prior to that Yankee series. Ortiz did this time and time again, for years. He was the heart and soul of a team that decided to not be afraid anymore. Things were going to be different with the arrival of David Ortiz, and they were. He took that team to its first championship in 86 years. He did it again in 2007. Every time Papi came up in the ninth inning, you knew it was over. He was going to hit a walk off home run, and he would somehow do it. His sustained ability to deliver in the clutch was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. In 2013, about to fall to a 2 games to 0 deficit to the Tigers in the ALCS, Ortiz somehow came up to the plate with the bases loaded, down 5-1 in the bottom of the eighth. He hit a grand slam and tied it, and the Red Sox carried that momentum and his .700 World Series batting average to another title, in which he was named MVP. Because of Ortiz’s heroics, generations of Red Sox fans were able to come together and witness their team win not one championship, but three. David Ortiz; the Boston icon.

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Political Candidate is Into Bigfoot Erotica. Gasp!

***Huge moment alert!!!!***

Hence forth, the beginning of a new age…

I’ve been waiting for an excuse to write about Bigfoot ever since I started this blog (a month ago, today 🎉🎉).

What better way to celebrate a month of blogging, then to talk about everyone’s favorite subject: Bigfoot.

Finally, the big guy got himself into a news story that’s worthy of blogging about. Thank the heavens!

I was put on this big beautiful world to passionately talk about Bigfoot to people who either don’t care, or don’t believe. I live for it. The total dismissal of the subject by those listening to me rant, while pure electric passion shoots out of my eyes, ears, and limbs in favor of the subject is what life is all about.

Thing is, this isn’t your typical Bigfoot story. It’s not some blurry picture, or some captivating story from an eye witness. No, this time Bigfoot has found himself in the middle of a red-hot, steamy story.

The headline from the Daily Gazette is as follows: “US political candidate says opponent is a ‘devotee of Bigfoot erotica'”. Bigfoot erotica?! Now I knew that Bigfoot exists, that’s a given. But erotica about the big hairy guy?? Captivating.


Not only does Bigfoot erotica exist, but a prominent candidate for Virginia’s fifth congressional district is reportedly big on it.

Love it. I love every bit of it.

First of all, you do you buddy. Whatever floats your boat, long as your not harming anyone or doing anything illegal. Second, anything that involves Bigfoot, I’m in favor of. Soon as this blog is over I’ll be subscribing to the next copy of Bigfoot’s sexual escapades. No, I’m not into the sexual side of it. I’m into learning about Bigfoot, whatever the story is. As someone who has read everything possible about the creature, I cannot simply rule out the descriptions of his private life, or at least what others think it might be like. In order to better understand him, I need to know what he’s like behind closed doors when no one is watching. Knowledge is power.

And by the way, I keep referring to Bigfoot as “him” like it’s just one creature. I’m only doing that for the foolish simpletons reading this blog who don’t know that there’s actually several thousand individuals living throughout North America and beyond.

Oh you don’t believe me? Fine. Convincing you will come in a later blog. Just know that Jane Goodall, the worlds leading primatologist claimed that it is ENTIRELY possible for a 7-9 foot, bipedal hominid specifies to remain hidden in the various pockets of inaccessible woods and swampland of these here United States. Facts! Facts on facts on FACTS!! I got facts for days people. Facts for days…

Okay I’m getting carried away and off topic.

Point is, I think the candidate who made this claim, Leslie Cockburn (absolutely love that name) about her opponent being into this shit, is going to have the opposite of its desired effect. Why? Because Bigfoot gets the people talking. Bigfoot knows how to create headlines, and stay in the headlines.

Also, Denver Riggleman is the political candidate who sweats Bigfoot. What is up with these names! These two names facing off for office could be a story all by itself. Add Bigfoot erotica and it’s an all timer.

Denver has my vote.

Sounds like our friend Cockburn could use some more Bigfoot erotica in her life.