Saturday, July 31, 2021

I Feel You

The first time I heard Depeche Mode was sometime in 1990, when "Enjoy the Silence" and "Policy of Truth" were in regular rotation on MTV. I didn't really catch on to them until the end of the decade, after the grunge era had died out and I caught up on the "New Wave" acts I'd missed or vaguely remembered as a kid.

Depeche Mode released Songs of Faith and Devotion in March of 1993. The first single and first track off the album begins with a screeching sound reminiscent of Nirvana. Music critics have said that this album was influenced by the grunge era, but aside from the first eight seconds "I Feel You" sounds nothing like grunge:


Was this video in regular rotation on MTV? It's sexy enough that my 12 year old self should remember, but it's not as red-hot as Chris Issak's "Wicked Game" - which I definitely remember.

"I Feel You" was the highest-charting track off Songs of Faith and Devotion, reaching #37 on the Billboard 100. The only other single I recall was "Walking In My Shoes" which is also a great track. However "I Feel You" is the standout in my opinion, along with "
In Your Room" and "Rush" - which might be the hardest track in the DM oeuvre:


Spirituality is a major theme of the album, which I always found interesting since frontman Dave Gahan was in full 'god' mode by 1993.

Throughout the 1990s Gahan had been battling a heroin addiction. He died in May of 1996




...for about two minutes before being revived. A year later, Depeche Mode released their ninth album Ultra.

The first single off Ultra was "It's No Good", which I heard for the first time on The Tonight Show(I thought it may have been SNL) I couldn't find the performance on YouTube but I recall being amazed at how different Dave Gahan looked and sounded. He'd cleaned himself up, sure, but his voice was less raspy and more .. joyful.



This was when I officially became a Depeche Mode fan. Before long I was adding their songs to mix tapes for my girlfriend, ordering retro posters for my bedroom wall (and taking another one for free once a record store was done promoting the Singles collection), going to see Depeche Mode play Madison Square Garden with my best friend - and not telling my next girlfriend because she'd planned to take me to see them in Philly and I wanted to go twice :P




Everyone but Jon: Do you have a favorite Depeche Mode song?

Jon: why don't you like Depeche Mode? :P




Thanks for reading!



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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Big Box O' BaseBo

The second annual (third overall) Swap Meet trading post was a lot of fun. I received eight envelopes with 12-15 basketball cards. Very few of them were dupes, and may were cards of players I collect.

As a "grand finale" I got a huge box from the always generous Bo in exchange for a very small box of baseball and football. Bo offered to fill out the box with 1993 Topps or 1993 Upper Deck extras.

I chose Upper Deck, because I have the complete 1993 Topps set (in an opened factory set box) and because '93 Upper Deck is glorious. Some of these cards were familiar to me - such as the triple exposure Phil Hiatt above. Others were new to me, like Jeff Brantley and Robb Nen.

Bo sent a block of over 400 cards from #362 to card #840. I have a hunch he checked my collection on TCDB, because he skipped over some cards I already had.


I've thought about buying a box or two of 1993 Upper Deck, but they are particularly expensive due to the presence of some Yankee shortstop. I've never considered attempting to build this set as a result.


Here are some non-Jeter RCs in series 2. Do you remember any of the bottom six? I vaguely remember Midre Cummings.


Peter Gammons had a subset in series two, featuring his notes on young stars in the league. These guys all had memorable, successful careers. Everyone in the top row has a plaque in Cooperstown.


In addition to top prospects and young stars there are some Diamond Debuts. Troy Percival is the only big name here. Tyler Green was an All-Star in 1995 - which I never would have imagined until reading Hot Corner Harbor's list of the all-time worst All-Stars.


Some of these Award Winners from the 1992 season aren't actually award winners - unless the MLB handed out hardware for leading the league in home runs and RBI.


Team checklist cards were a hallmark of early '90s Upper Deck sets. The 1993 set has some of the sharpest looking examples you'll see, along with some images that you'll never see on a card again - such as Albert Belle snapping a bat in half like it's Fernando Vina. 
 


Combo cards appeared in Series 1 and 2. National League teams are featured in this batch.


It's tempting to try to complete The 1993 Upper Deck set now that Bo dropped about 55% of it on my doorstep. However it would be a costly set build without the Jeter RC. I've only got 30 of the first 361 cards so I'd probably have to buy a box of Series 1. If I decide to splurge on this I'll be sure to post an update here. Bo, thanks for the fantastic 'filler' cards!



Thanks for reading!




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Saturday, July 24, 2021

Hey Jealousy

I'm running out of ideas for the 1993 Playlist. There are two or three more tracks that remind me of personal memories or feelings - and then I'll probably have to repeat an artist or get creative.

Today's track isn't one that I feel strongly about, so go ahead and prepare those "I never liked this song" responses. Gin Blossoms originally released "Hey Jealousy" in 1989, and a re-recorded version was released in 1992. I try to exclude any songs that aren't released in 1993 - but "Hey Jealousy" charted in 1993 - and again I'm running out of songs that I like from that year.


I didn't know the backstory behind this song - or all the lyrics, really - until I heard it featured on Rob Harvilla's Podcast "60 Songs That Explain The '90s". I'm not sure if the order of selection has any meaning, but it struck me that this was the second song he discussed. It feels important to him in a way that it doesn't to me. I have one memory of this song, which will jump to the forefront of my mind whenever I hear "Hey Jealousy" anywhere, for the rest of my life.

In 1993 I was experiencing my first real, serious crush on a girl. Her name was Jessica, but everyone called her Jesse. Whenever "Hey Jealousy" would come on the radio I would immediately think (or sing) "Hey Jesse".

That's it. That's the memory. Never mind the fact that the story of the song is more mature than a seventh grade crush. This song will always be "hey, Jesse" to me.


Lately I've been feeling almost all of the emotions listed in the 'jealousy' cloud at the top of this post except for 'phenomenon' If you'd told me in 1993 that I'd still have unrequited crushes when I'm forty I'd ask you what "unrequited" means... and then I'd find the nearest exit off of this planet.


It has been an eventful eight days. I'm finally in a good place with Office Girl but boy was it a struggle getting there. She's too young and sweet and naive to know why I would purposely avoid talking to her.

It's been a strategy that I've deployed on and off for at least four months, but this particular string started one day when the bosses had all left for the day and she entered our back office. She said "Hi guys", I spun around, gave her an enthusiastic "Hey!" and turned my chair back to the desk. I let the young guy talk to her, since she'd told him "I haven't seen you in a while. I miss you!" the last time they spoke.

Then they chatted for more than thirty minutes. It's a goddamn miracle when she's able to talk for three minutes. And even though I had the opportunity - and passed - I was jealous of my co-worker because he has more in common with her and he has interesting stories and a hot car and he makes her laugh and and and..

whoops, wrong song lol


Inadequacy. After that they talked and laughed and he helped her with tech support stuff -- for three straight days -- and they were at her desk for so long that I asked my manager "Is something going on between those two?" even though I knew it kinda gave me away.  (She dismissed that thought, he was just fixing her printer.)


Which brings us to last Thursday. Manager and I were hungry. I offered to walk down the street and grab lunch because Door Dash fees are ridiculous. Walked by whatsername's desk. She wasn't there. It was hot and humid outside. I returned covered in sweat, carrying an armful of food. She was back.

"Hey!" She said cheerfully. I replied with the weakest little grunt of a "hey" and continued past her. Disgust.

Have you ever seen the end of Rollerball? If not, think of any dramatic scene where a crowd is hyped at what just happened - and gets more and more hyped until they suddenly realize this has gone too far. That was me.


But what could I do? I had been dodging her for so long that it had become second nature. My behavior was beyond explanation at this point. Helplessness.


The next day - last Friday - I thought I'd dodged her again. I entered the kitchen and... "Hey"

This time I actually replied like a functional human. We talked for a bit. I blamed a crazy amount of work for my mood. She said that she'd noticed I wasn't myself and wondered if I was just really busy, or if I was mad, or if I was going through something. ("All of that" I replied.) The chat continued via text:

hey, i just wanted you to know that it means a lot that you noticed my mood & how we dont talk much and all of that. wish i could explain but I dont like talking about myself & talking in front of everyone in the office.

Aw no problem at all! I'm so glad we were able to slightly catch up today even if it was only for 2 mins! Yes I noticed it a lot recently and I wanted to check in but I didn't want you to feel like I was in your business at all. So I kept it to myself but its nice to see you in a cheerful mood :)

Sometimes when you were up here I'd ask how you are and if I get "I'm good" then I dont push. But I completely get it to keep your personal business to yourself

Yesterday I was sweaty and hungry and had nothing interesting to say. But I did walk away feeling like a jerk once I thought about it.

I do wish we could talk more though. Maybe I'll come up there for a minute if you're not too too busy. let me know.

Aw no worries at all! Okie I'm busy right now but around 5p is cool :)

[It is at this point that I text my wife that I will be a few minutes late because we are really swamped and the bosses have all left and it's just me and Office Girl. And most of that is true.] 

In that ten minutes of extra time her attention was divided between taking phone calls and talking to me. We talked about how we never get to talk, since I'm not a supervisor and I rarely need to come up front. I told her that I'd had something to say to her but when I went up to see her, she wasn't there. I assumed that the universe was trying to tell me something. "Something good? Or something bad?" She asked, before realizing it meant "Don't be friends with that girl!" Hold this thought.

She kept asking me to wait while she takes this call, and with a customer on the line she'd mouth the words "I'm sorry" as I sat there waiting. I reassured her it was fine but after a while I couldn't wait any more.

I found a sticky note on someone else's desk, scribbled "You need a raise! Have a great weekend :)" on it, and stuck it to her desk while she was on the phone. She smiled and waved. I went home happy. 

Monday was another nice day and I went out to eat again. This time I stopped at the Cuban place on the corner. Realizing that a) OG was working Friday afternoon-evening when no one else was, and b) she was on call during Saturday's flash flood, I decided to ask her if she wanted anything. She... wasn't at her desk.

I remembered she liked their yucca fries and figured I'd get them for her (they're only $3 and if she didn't want them I'd eat them.) When I returned with the food she... wasn't at her desk. Hello again, universe. I left them on her desk, and I kept circling back until she returned. She... wasn't hungry.


It is Tuesday now. I'm not going to go out for lunch again, but I want to enjoy the nice weather. The garage door is open, so I sit on the dock and stretch out like I'm having a picnic. The side door opens.

"Hey you!" She sounds pleasantly surprised to see me sitting up on the dock. I'm wearing black clothes and an emo boy frown. I am in no mood to talk to her. The universe has spoken.

She asks me a couple questions as if everything is normal and explains that she's going out to 7-11 for a hot chocolate (in the middle of July?) "That's your lunch?" is the most I can muster in response. And this time I know that she knows that I'm blowing her off. And I know I'm acting like an asshole. But we're just not in sync anymore. She doesn't get what I'm going through, and it's impossible to explain. Resentment

I return to my desk. I do some work, have some fruit, do some more work. And I start to feel sick to my stomach. Physically ill, like I'm on the verge of throwing up. Anxiety. It continues through the rest of the day. I even tell my wife that if I don't feel better in the morning that I might have to stay home. 

I do not stay home on Wednesday. I feel okay when I wake up but by the time I'm settled into work the feeling returns. I am sick to my stomach again. I pass OG in the hallway. I say nothing. Not ready yet.

Finally, around 3pm, my manager leaves for the day. I get up, I start pacing the hallway, I come back.

Eventually Office Girl enters the kitchen. She makes herself a cup of tea. "Hey, I need to talk to you." I say to her.

I have spent the past hour rehearsing this in my head. There are things that need to be said, things that are too heavy to say, and some "remember when.." stories in between. I have no idea what will jump out of my mouth, but here goes...

"Uh-oh. I'm scared." She replies. That's when I realize that a) I'm a foot taller than her, b) I'm blocking the doorway, and c) I was fairly hostile the last time she talked to me. "No, no don't be scared. It's fine." I begin.

The next three minutes is... kind of a blur. I know I told her that I almost said something to her one day that freaked me out a little bit. [We were discussing a customer and she said "gorgeous!" when she meant to say "beautiful!" I had planned on jokingly telling her that "I can't talk to you anymore. You're going to get me in trouble!"...but she wasn't at her desk.] Reminding her of this moment, I told her that I nearly said - and I mouthed these words - "Yeah you are." She awww-ed.


Realizing that she was making her tea, and that she'd have to answer the phone if it rang, I talked fast. I apologized for the day before and told her I felt sick to my stomach that I didn't talk to her on the dock. "Why did I do that?" I said to myself - and her. I mentioned the yucca fries, why I got them for her, and how I felt embarrassed that she didn't want them. I think I told her that I was feeling like a 15 year-old. She thought this was all very sweet, and she understood what I was trying to say.

It wasn't my finest hour, but I got my point across without saying anything too heavy. She knew I was struggling to balance being friendly to her and feeling... something.. without getting myself into trouble. We ended the day as we had on Friday. All good. We'll talk again soon. I made a promise not to be scary emo guy anymore - more for my own benefit than hers.

Thursday afternoon I opened the office fridge and found a box from Edible Arrangements. Instantly I knew who it belonged to. When I left for the day there was a tall box of roses standing next to OG's desk. Her favorite. [she has a rose tattoo on her left arm and I think Rose is her middle name, or her daughter's, or both] "Look at you getting flowers!" I said as I turned to face her. She was enjoying a chocolate-covered strawberry.

Universe, you bastard.


"He's just a friend." She said before I could finish my thought.

"Yeah, that's what they all say at first." Our project manager scoffed. When I clocked out our girl was still enjoying her edibles. "He's got good taste." I said. "Tell him that."

I wasn't talking about the flowers.


When I got home I went for a walk. There was a deer in my park - two actually - so I decided to walk down the road to another park. I kept walking and walking. If I were ten years younger and single, I thought to myself, those flowers would have been from me. And she would have got them six months ago.


I stopped at a basketball court. Picked up a ball and tried taking a shot. My arms felt like I hadn't moved them in years. Goddamn I'm old. I bet this guy is young and handsome and lifts weights. Fuckin' hell. Inadequacy.

I continued walking for over an hour. And then I stopped for ice cream.

The next day - yesterday - I planned to ask Office Girl about Mr. Chocolate Covered Strawberry Guy. She was at her desk. And she wasn't busy. "What's up with this guy?" I asked, as a friend would.

She insisted that her friends put her up to this, and they said he'd send her something so she gave them the office address - and she was really embarrassed. "I barely know him."

Was I jealous? Maybe a tiny bit. But honestly, I felt bad for the guy. He took his best shot and she appreciated it ("I love roses." She said again.) Didn't seem like it worked though.

Assuming she's not lying to me to spare my feelings (and why would she?) I'm just thrilled that she considers me enough of a friend that she wouldn't mind discussing her personal life. I can't play the game anymore, but I can still cheer for my favorites to succeed.



Anyway... what do you all think of the Gin Blossoms track "Hey Jealousy"? Have you felt jealous of anyone lately?



Thanks for reading!



~

 

 

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Swap Meet Trading Post

Thank you for participating in my NBA Week PWE Swap Meet. If you have sent me a PWE (or plan to in the near future) please select one of the PWEs pictured below and leave a comment with your selection. Each 3-pocket page contains 12 to 15 cards -- some new, some old, some shiny. Here they are:


#1 - 1992-93 Ultra Basketball



#2 - Donruss Basketball mostly 2015-16


#3 - Fleer Basketball


#4 - Random Basketball



#5 - More Random Basketball

 

 

#6 -  College Football


#7 - Leaf Draft Football


#8 - 2019 Score Football


#9 - New York Giants



#10 - Green Bay Packers



#11 - Football Hall of Famers




#12 - Upper Deck MVP Hockey


#13 - Original Six teams (each team will have 2-3 cards)


#14 - More Original Six (each team will have 2-3 cards)




#15 - Nothing But Netminders



#16 - New Jersey Devils




#17 - Defunct (relocated) Teams



#18 - Random Hockey





#19 - More Random Hockey


#20 - Boston Red Sox




#21 - More Boston Red Sox




#22 - Baseball Hall of Famers




#23 - New York Yankees



#24 - Los Angeles Dodgers




#25 - Chicago Cubs




#26 - Atlanta Braves





#27-29 - Random Baseball









#30 - 1993 Baseball :)


I'm hoping to have everything shipped out next Saturday July 24th, but no later than July 31st.


Thanks for participating!



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Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Reggie

35 years ago, the Boston Celtics selected Maryland forward Len Bias with the 2nd overall pick.
34 years ago, the Boston Celtics selected Northeastern guard Reggie Lewis with the 22nd pick.

One can only wonder how long the Celtics would have contended for titles with these two stars leading them. Bias died of a drug overdose two days after the 1986 Draft. Lewis died of heart failure in July 1993.

I was too young to remember Bias. I do remember that his death cast a long shadow over Lewis's. There was speculation that Lewis was using cocaine - as Bias had - but the official cause of death was a  pre-existing heart condition similar to that of Hank Gathers, the Loyola Marymount star who collapsed and died during the 1989-90 NCAA season.

Reggie Lewis was the Celtics' leading scorer in 1991-92, notably Larry Bird's final season. He averaged 20.8 points per game, made his first All-Star team, and led the C's to the playoffs. The torch was officially passed to him once Bird retired in 1992. In '92-93 Lewis was again Boston's leading scorer, averaging 20.8 points per game. Again Lewis led Boston to the playoffs.  


He collapsed in Game 1 of the first round series against Charlotte, but returned to the court after the incident. For three months questions lingered as to whether Reggie Lewis would be able to continue his playing career. His uncertain status was mentioned during the 1993 Draft, though Boston selected a center - Acie Earl - in the first round.



It had already been a somber summer for the NBA in 1993 as New Jersey Nets star Drazen Petrovic perished in a car accident a month earlier. Both guards were in their prime, leading scorers on Eastern conference playoff teams. As a 12 year-old fan I was more aware of, and affected by, the loss of Lewis than "Petro". Perhaps it was because Lewis got more publicity as a homegrown product playing for a marquee franchise.


Perhaps it was because Lewis played in Boston and I was a New England kid. The uncertainty must have been a factor as well. Every new report brought a different prognosis: Reggie wasn't going to make it. Then he was going to live, but he would have to retire. Then it seemed like he could play again. 

 

Then he was gone.

 

The Celtics had never missed the playoffs in three consecutive seasons before Reggie Lewis passed away. In his final season Boston won 48 games. The year after his death the Celtics won only 32, starting a streak of eight consecutive seasons with a sub-.500 record. From 1994 to 2001 the C's qualified for the postseason just once, losing in the first round to Orlando in 1995. Boston missed the playoffs in each of the next six seasons.


 

Do you remember the career (or death) of Reggie Lewis? Was there a pro athlete's death that affected you as a young fan?



Thanks for reading.



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