Hi boys and girls. Before we begin, a quick disclaimer. This post is not all about sports. As a matter of fact, sports only cover a minority of this post. If that is a dealbreaker for you, I understand, and you can scroll down to the final third now. However, this post does contain the usual, if not an above average amount of vitriol, so it may be worth your time anyways.
Some two years ago, after a late night out, I shot an email to the deeg. The debaucherous, angry tone struck me as something I shared and wanted to lend my voice to. I get more ambitious when I’m drunk; some years ago I sent an email to the local paper declaring my intention to run for mayor around three or four am from my apartment in State College. A couple years back I ordered a bunch of shit on Vermont’s Long Trail because despite the fact I’ve never hiked once in my life I decided it was something I wanted- and more importantly could- do (an example of drunken delusions if there is any). There are other examples but the point is, some people text their ex’s or fight- and although I have done both- I tend to go in the other direction.
Some of these drunken undertakings were doomed to failure but the decision to lavish praise on my favorite blog and ask if I may participate- I hate asking for things- was not one of them. For the last couple years I’ve been the only contributor to a blog revolving around Buffalo sports that still lived in the Buffalo area. This has been helpful for a myriad of reasons not limited to the fact I was able to watch my teams play without having to order a special internet or television package or head to a bar with Center Ice/Sunday ticket. I don’t watch local news or read the local papers but there is just something about living in an area where the vast majority of local sports fans root for the same teams as you. Outside of the soulless front running jagoffs that reside on the opposite side of the Niagara River, there is something to be said about going out and having any sports conversation you eavesdrop into revolve around the same teams you follow and love yourself, even if those having the conversation couldn’t grasp a salient point if they had eight arms apiece. I enjoyed walking to the bar in Barre, Vermont as the Sabres made their playoff push in 2011 but I loved going to someone’s house or a bar around these parts to watch the same thing much more. But that luxury is no longer as the deeg will be an all-expat blog once again.
Like many of you scattered across the country, this move has nothing to do with desire as much as it has to do with cold pragmatics. I understand that 2013 was the first year in decades that the region’s population did not suffer a decrease; every elected official and news organization seems eager to discuss the region’s rebirth, facelift, resurgence, whatever word is on the teleprompter in front of them at the moment. More people are drawn to this growth and I couldn't be happier; my issue lies with what's underneath that. From last April until this February I read every single job opening within 50 miles of Tonawanda, which usually amounted to around one thousand new posts per week. I did not discriminate on salary, title, experience or education requirements, I read every damn one of them and what I discovered, and what anyone in this area who has been job searching recently already knows, is that the reason the quantity of new jobs is discussed so much is because the quality of them is often abysmal and inapplicable to anyone not in the infancy of their working life. In the average thousand openings, I would find anywhere between one and three that were applicable for me and in the 10 months I was searching I discovered three that were truly in my wheelhouse (My “wheelhouse” is not as narrow as one may believe). Still, I applied to dozens, hundreds of positions in this area, many if not all of which I was overqualified for, and for my trouble I got one interview.
I lost the latter position last April, and when it happened I was angry but not discouraged. I knew my resume, my education and experience and had little doubt that I would obtain a better position soon. As the weeks turned to months the application scope widened, first to positions I was somewhat overqualified for currently, and then to positions I was overqualified for eight years ago. A friend told me banks were hiring and so I applied for some two dozen banking positions, resulting in exactly zero interviews. A generation ago there was a common belief among employers that a law degree, as well as an MBA, was basically the swiss army knife of diplomas in that one could do nearly anything, adapt to nearly any field with it. Somewhere along the line this belief went out the window and suddenly the prospect of being too educated, of being too smart, a concept that would have been unheard of to our parents or our grandparents became a common conviction. Never mind the fact that this area is so oversaturated with young talent that there will always be someone applying for the position with perhaps not as strong a resume but a more tailored resume for the position. Why take a more educated person who needs a week to learn the field when you can hire a less competent one who has been doing the same job for two years? Never mind that long term projections would clearly point to the more educated person being more productive over time, it’s just such a damn inconvenience to spend two days showing that person the proper software!
Why do I think that this problem, if it was affecting local machinists and garbage truck drivers and sheet metal workers and pipefitters, would prompt not merely attention, but a sense of urgency, debate and initiative to get them back to work? Why is it when it’s teachers, master degrees, attorneys, that the problem doesn’t matter? Why do people take such enjoyment in being able to tell someone with an advanced education “they made that choice,” as if that diploma wasn’t a symbol of years of study and work so much a rusty knife they chose to plunge into their leg? For how chic it is to claim anything and everything to stink of communism, so many sure take pleasure in seeing those who worked to do something more with their lives be “knocked down” to their level. The pipefitter wants the smartass with the diploma to have to ask him for a job someday, that’s why he doesn’t care that the smartass with the diploma is underpaid or underemployed. It’s why when I told a story about a friend of mine several years back, then a newly minted attorney in two states who was left delivering pizzas to get by, I heard a man thirty years my senior laugh and say “good, we have enough fucking lawyers anyways.”
I love this area; it’s why after going away to two schools, I came home. It’s why after leaving for a job in Vermont I returned a year later. Like the Buffalonians we see fill the arenas in Florida, Carolina, Phoenix when the Sabres come to town, like the Buffalonians that have established Bills Backers clubs all over the nation, like the Buffalonians that populate our twitter feeds, I wanted it to work here. I looked everyday hoping that four-leaf clover of a position would pop up. I applied to dozens of others in hopes that perhaps that special position would come as a consequence. At the same time I searched under the specific title and field I wanted nationwide. After the better part of a year, it was the nationwide search- the more precise search- that broke my way before anything remotely positive in my hometown. Like many ex-pats, I did everything but fly a plane over the city dropping leaflets of my CV and a picture of how damn well I wear a suit. Like many ex-pats, this was a fruitless endeavor because some don’t need us, and the rest don’t want us.
And now I’m a Marylander, and the deeg is once again all ex-pats.
Sports? Almost there.
The people from my hometown, the ones I spent most of my twenties drinking with (in various locales of differing enjoyment but always, drinking) tossed this around at me at various times during that decade, that because I was the only one who went away to school, or one of the only to graduate, or the only to go for more school, or the only one to study abroad, or the only one date anyone who wasn’t related to another friend, I thought I was “better than everyone.” And I’d work to repress that because well, I did think they were my friends but more than that they were my drinking buddies and I enjoy drinking. So I’d spend my weekends quoting movies that were nearly a decade old, reducing my vernacular and my worldview to the three square miles that were supposed to encompass all I could ever want and need in life, as any expression otherwise was suddenly being an elitist suburban Uncle Tom, at least among people who treat obtaining a DPW job like marrying into fucking British royalty. The thing was I knew I was too good for them because I was too good for them, and no matter how long those feelings get suppressed, they come out eventually as they should. It’s right to have goals, it’s right to want more, it’s right to know your worth and expect, demand to be compensated as such both emotionally and monetarily. It’s why the average guy going away to college meets new females and suddenly realizes their prom date was basically Rosie O’Donnell.
A fucking bidding war in which Donald Trump is the good guy. Not being alive anymore doesn’t whitewash a person’s actions and the allocation of “respect” does not need to be given to every cadaver who was once a public figure, and Ralph getting a hall of fame jacket doesn’t strip away his negligence and greed anymore than George Bush’s newfound love for painting strips away his status as a war criminal. Hopefully the next owner, assuming he doesn’t roll up the Mayflower trucks in 2020 and lead a caravan across the Peace Bridge (imagine THAT visual for a second), won’t be given a free ride simply for having his name on the door. You, me, we are too good for that, and it’s our right to assert it from this point forward. Of course right now you have a stadium working group that seems to serve no real purpose but to give the elected officials on that board cover for when the team moves and fans are basically organizing a kickstarter to keep them here so I’m not really hopeful that any of this is going to be dignified.
What else is there? Oh right, the Sabres. The team I’m inclined to give more of a break to despite the fact that the brain behind McBain-Weber received an extension, the social media director is tweeting out “RT for X, FAV for X” nonsense, the team had a balloon drop as a culmination to the worst season in franchise history (as I like to call it, a “Mondale”) and I still have this fucking “BIG JOHN” shirt that our buddy @fgif gave me as both a “congrats on the new job” gift and best gag gift ever. That’s just with the organization. Nevermind the fact that around 40% of my timeline doesn’t understand basic math. See, when I say “40%,” that means an average of 4 out of 10, or in other words, a sizable amount but short of a majority. A majority means more than half, or in terms of discussing whether something is likely or not likely to take place, a majority means that an event is more likely than unlikely to take place. At the same rate, when something is not a majority, say, has a 25% chance of happening, that means it is much more unlikely to occur than likely. On board? Congratulations, you’re smarter than every single person who had a shitfit about the NHL draft lottery.
Well, that’s not completely true. Not everyone who had a shitfit fails to understand basic math, just the ones who used the opportunity for self-loathing #BecauseItsBuffalo. Is it a minor thing to take issue with? Perhaps, but that’s the thing, stupidity should be identified, pointed out, mocked, excoriated, shunned, shamed and done so repeatedly. A survey came out this week that only 21% of Americans are very confident that the Big Bang occurred while 51% were not confident that any such thing happened. These people, a majority of Americans, could be your mailman, the person behind you in line at Lowe’s, the guy funneling beer at a Bills tailgate. It’s not only disconcerting, but these people should have to identify themselves so we can mock them, put them in the stocks in the town square and toss rotten vegetables at them. You’re entitled to any belief or opinion you want but when that belief or opinion flies in the face of copious amounts of tangible evidence, the rest of us are entitled to call you a fucking dunce dragging down the advancement of the human race.
Someone said not long ago that pointing out the hacks in local media has grown tired to which I couldn’t disagree more fully. A parasite like Harrington trashing an organization like Deadspin right up until he can use them to pump an article from 1994 and possibly raise his Q score should be pointed out because you don’t get to have criticism about being shitty die off simply because you’re consistently shitty. Fans who think that the team needs John Scott, or that Nathan Gerbe is the team’s albatross, or that Miller sucked, or Vanek was lazy, or Europeans don’t care, or statistics, math, the very science of numbers and what they can tell us, is just a bunch of gobblety-gook nonsense pushed on us by NERDS, should be pointed out and taken to task because it’s been 100,000 years since the human race left sub-Saharan Africa and you shouldn’t get to be a dumbass in society without it being made clear to you.
I just hope enough of you are still here to give me a couch to crash on when it happens.