Podcast You Should Hear: Gladiator

Podcast: Gladiator: Aaron Hernandez and Football Inc.
Genre: Sports, True Crime
How Can I Listen?: Apple Podcast, Stitcher, Spotify, Google Podcast

What’s it about?:
If you were to say that Gladiator was about Aaron Hernandez’s murder, the ensuing trial, and his eventual death I wouldn’t say you were wrong. I would say you weren’t taking in the whole story. Gladiator is all of those things, but it is also an indictment of the University of Florida Gators, New England Patriots, the world of football at large, and anyone who benefitted by looking the other way. This podcast is one so thoroughly reported that even Bob Hohler, the host and lead writer, is not free from blame. Blame for what exactly? Blame for looking the other way when interceding could have saved lives.

Gladiator is a podcast about how a troubled adolescent can move through the world of athletics. How the value of an athlete is only measured in what they can provide on the field of play. How it’s easy to turn away from off-the-field issues as long as they don’t become a distraction. Aaron Hernandez was an elite talent, an important piece of great teams for both the University of Florida and the New England Patriots. He was so good that they looked past his off-the-field violence to a point. For, then-Florida coach, Urban Meyer it reached a point where he forced Hernandez to go pro and for Bill Belichik and the Patriots they cut the cord when he was tagged with the murder charge.

If you came to Gladiator looking for sensationalism you will be disappointed. Instead you’ll watch as they uncover the troubled life of someone who made a ton of bad decisions, who was enabled, and caught up in several bad currents. This isn’t to remove blame from Hernandez, but there is a heavy sadness that comes from a moment in fifth episode. Using recordings from his prison phone calls we hear Hernandez talk about his prison cell. I was so used to hearing descriptions of cells being confining, being cold, being a cage, but to Aaron he spoke in quaint terms like he finally found a home. A home free from everything the outside world put in his path.

Gladiator: Aaron Hernandez and Football, Inc. is one of the greatest achievements I’ve heard in the world of podcasts. It hints at the potential that has yet to be uncovered. There’s something about great reporting, and professionalism that this podcast brings. Each podcast ranges from 40 – 50 minutes. The last episode is set to be posted on Tuesday, November 13th.a

Length: Weekly episode ranging from 40 – 50 minutes.

Similar Podcasts: Steve McNair: Fall of a Titan, Sold In America, Crimetown, Serial

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Slow Watch: An Introduction

Like many things from the past, the idea of Netflix by mail seems quaint.

Explain it to any teenager within reach and they’ll look at you like your crazy. It’ll fit right beside things like programming VCRs, TV Guide, the Walkman, and dial-up internet. Things that don’t seem to have a place in today’s instant climate. Why would you create a queue of movies and wait two (or three) days for them to be shipped to your home? They would ask this because streaming Netflix has been something they’ve had for as long as they can remember.

It’s not just teenagers either. A few months ago, I was surprised when I discovered Netflix’s DVD service still existed and had a healthy subscriber base. I didn’t make the connection to myself until one day I saw that red envelope in a neighbor’s mailbox. It sparked memories of Amores Perros, City of God, Cool Hand Luke, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest amongst many others that came in the mail. Each arrival was welcoming me to a different corner and time of film that I had never explored. It reminded me that these were films I was recommended and wanted to watch. That I selected them and anticipated their arrival. That wasn’t something that Netflix Streaming gave me.

I often found with Netflix Streaming that it took me longer to find something I wanted to watch. WIth the seemingly infinite amount of choices I found myself changing my mind within the first five minutes. There was no investment and ultimately I would fall asleep more often than I finished watching something. It’s not that Netflix streaming is a bad service (it’s not!), but I found that it didn’t work for me. So with that I signed up for Netflix’s DVD service, and luckily for me they offer the first month for free.

When I made the switch I decided to have some “fun” with it. Instead of simply watching everything I’ve missed over the years, I wanted to have a learning experience. One of my favorite things in film school was film analysis, and what better way to embrace that than to use Netflix DVD’s extensive archive of old movies.

In this space, I will be taking a deep dive into the past 100 years of film. I won’t just be watching them but I will be, trying my best, to analyze the films in the context of the time they were created in. The thing I’ve learned over time is whether or not a piece of art is deemed apolitical it’s existence says something about the time it was created in. So I look forward to learning about both film and history. To select the movies I’ve gone through IMDB and selected the top films from each decade. To prevent burn out, I’ve also decided to intersperse TV shows from Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz’s TV (the Book) to give breaks.

I like to call this project the Slow Watch. It is deliberate, it’s intentional, and it’s a process that intends to force me to not only watch watch I pick but to spend time considering it. In a world where everything is available at our fingertips all the time, I like the idea of slowing down and being stuck with something.

So keep an eye on this space as my first piece will be on Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1928 film The Passion of Joan of Arc.

Breakfast at Timothy’s 21

I love sharing the music I like. I also like making mixes. I also do this pretty rarely and as a result, I end up explaining the entire origin of Breakfast at Timothy’s. I’m not doing that this time.

This is a 12 song mix that receives the Coatesvillain seal of approval (if that matters to you). All songs are pop, R&B, dance or some variant as that’s the music I consistently go back to. Despite being someone who can dance (but rarely does it in public) it’s the music that makes me happiest, and I want to share that joy.

Mashup Mondays: Kids See Ghosts x Akira

In a past life, I was a video editor.

I dabbled in it in college, but it wasn’t until I got a job editing wedding videos that it became something I did daily. I had only been to one wedding, but my options were to swim or fail miserably trying. The more I worked at it the better I became and the more I loved editing. The problem was when I got home I didn’t have the time nor energy to work on improving my skills. In the two years since I left that job, I haven’t gone back to editing.

This year I started to dip my toe back in with mashups. The idea was to challenge myself and see if I could put music under a clip and make it work. I will share what I have with the expressed goal of not only doing more but sparking my creativity in other areas (including more expansive editing).

A little on this video:
I grew up loving Akira even though I admittedly didn’t understand much of the story (I still need to read the graphic novel). This opening motorcycle scene is epic and when I started doing mashups I desperately sought something that fit. The problem was nothing did. Insert Kids See Ghosts. This year was a year of change and one of those was how I don’t really fuck with Kanye West like I used to. Yet, I still couldn’t stay away from listening to his new releases. This one, and Teyana Taylor’s K.T.S.E., had me stuck. So basically I tried to blend the two and I feel like it worked well.

Comment of the Weeks: September 3 – 14 – Blood Orange’s Serve

The internet is terrible except for when it’s great.

Last week Devin Hynes, who records under the name Blood Orange, went to Instagram to post a picture from his Interview Magazine feature. The picture features Hynes in a trench coat and showing a ton of leg. A fan responded in shock, but Hynes fired back with perhaps the best possible response.

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Devin Hynes, Blood Orange, Instagram, Comment of the Week

One word was all it took. I laughed incessantly when I saw the response. It was perfect, and it didn’t attempt to explain anything. Sadly, the Instagram post no longer exists. To see more of the shots from the photo shoot check out his Interview Magazine feature.

Before I go let me suggest you listen to Blood Orange’s Negro Swan album. It’s available anywhere you buy music, and anywhere you stream. Like all of his albums it is a work of art, and you will not regret it.

#transparentTuesday* Week 2: Somehow it’s Thursday

I’m a big fan of music.

Years ago I had a tumblog called Breakfast with Timothy’s. On this blog, my sole goal was to write about and share only the music that I loved. I spent a lot of time “digging” for music on Soundcloud, Twitter, and other blogs for something new. It was an obsession, it was a passion, but ultimately it was a secret.

I ran two Twitter accounts. One was for general usage, and the other was for the blog. Despite my general account having a larger following I never once posted a link to my posts. Why? I was ashamed of this labor of love that consumed a great deal of my free time.

While I never portended to be an expert on music the idea of sharing to a wider audience made me feel like a fraud. Not only did I not “know enough,” I felt as if my writing wasn’t good enough. I felt that people who I conversed with on twitter, who pursued careers in music writing, were inherently better than I was. So I stayed on the sidelines.

A deeper reason for this shame? This feeling of fraudulence? I was deep in the throes of depression. I worked, went to school full-time, and put all my energy into a project I hid. My motivation for writing died, and the blog posts slowly came to a halt.

The death knell for Breakfast at Timothy’s came when Tumblr flagged multiple posts for illegally posting songs. I did what many under this dark cloud would do… I completely deleted the blog.

#transparentTuesdays

Years ago, my psychologist asked what I thought my life would be like if I didn’t suffer from social anxiety.

The question was a chance to picture a world where I was free to do what I wanted, be who I wanted, and live relatively free of limits. It was a question that was set to tap into the inner optimist. The problem was the question filled me with fear.

Why? Why would thinking about a life without this severe limitation make me uneasy? It is because my entire life was defined by the very limitation. To lose it would be to unsettle everything and set it into uncertainty. I didn’t see a freedom being gained, I saw a definition being lost. I found an unhealthy comfort in social anxiety but I knew it. Whatever existed in the world beyond those limitations was strange and to be feared.

Over the years since I have worked on myself in fits of stops and starts. Through this journey, I have, hopefully, been trekking closer to the person I want to be. Who is that person? I don’t know, but I hope I recognize him when I see him.

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In November of 2016, I got a job at the NBA office in Secaucus. My official title was Assistant Video Coordinator. My duty was to transcode files and review files sent up from Turner. Basically, I just watched basketball, talked shit with coworkers, and waited for something to go wrong (they often did).

One way things went wrong was at home. My marriage was on the ropes, but it wasn’t any different than it ever was. We coexisted, but we worked together to manage raising a child. It wasn’t romantic, by any means, but we were a team. The job at the NBA was a night job. It was also an hour away. We went from being together every day to seeing each other for an hour at night, and a half hour in the morning. We merely passed Cameron back and forth like a baton.

I went to the NBA thinking it was the next step in my career in video. What it was instead, was the first step to a huge change in my life. But change, even necessary change, has been the bane of my existence. Sometimes the idea of changing will cause anxiety that will freeze me in paralysis. With the paralysis comes a feeling of helplessness comes… you guessed it… depression.

I spent the next nine months trying to half-heartedly save the marriage. In truth, there was nothing to save. Milk doesn’t salvage stale cereal, but I thought there’d be hope. I went back to therapy and began to change how I was. I would go in on Thursday afternoons and feel like I was making monumental changes only for any adjustment to be seen as minute. There was a wide gulf between us and my reach wasn’t long enough.

If I was honest, I didn’t want to be married any longer. I said as much to my therapist once, I said it to my ex once, I spoke on frustrations of the situation to friends at other times. Yet, I found myself clinging on and attempting to resist the inevitable.

Why did I do that? I was afraid of change. I wasn’t happy. The relationship was cold, but I didn’t want to move on. I held on not tightly, not convincingly, but I refused to let go.

Out of all the people who were married in my family, only my brother Rich, my Aunt Janis, and my sister Polly never divorced. So it wasn’t foreign, but I didn’t want to fail the same way. So I held on as she looked for a house. I held on hoping that things would miraculously get better even as we made a pact that we’d separate were things not to get better.

In October of 2017, we both moved. She moved ten minutes away in the same town. I moved 45 minutes down I-295. Even with almost an hour of distance, I held on. I held on to hope that one day we’d all be under one roof again. That we would be the family we weren’t the first go round.

By this time I was no longer working at the NBA. Instead, I reversed course and took on a teacher’s assistant job in a high school. Which became something that fulfilled me and gave me the direction I thought I was getting when I began working in Secaucus.

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Almost a year later, and I’ve had time to grown in my skin and to reflect. I’ve given myself space, and I’ve finally let go. Not only did I let go, but I fought off the urge to shove someone else in the opening my life.

I’ve worked too much and struggled a lot, but the change wasn’t scary. Not once I let it settle in. Instead, the change let me realize what I wanted and who I wanted to be. What I wanted to get back.

I no longer look at divorce as a failure. To quote Dan Savage: “every relationship ends except for the one that doesn’t.”

When I wake up in the morning I don’t see the person I want to be. I don’t come home to see a place that I strive to live in forever. What I see are things that I’m happy with now, things that I live with now but ultimately things I don’t have to be stuck with for the rest of my life. Why?

I don’t know, maybe change isn’t so bad after all.