I Wasn’t Exactly Born Tough, but I’m surprisingly sold

In general, I am not big on large logos. Nor am I one to conflate casual wear with gym clothes. Nike and polo are great, but both would be better if they just let the clothes be clothes and not billboards. Also, a track suit isn’t meant for the movies.

Unless you are in the movie playing an athlete.IMG_1053

A long time ago I stopped really worrying about how I looked while working out. This was mostly a function of me realizing I would never get back in to any kind of shape if I wasn’t willing to sacrifice some pride- or dignity. It doesn’t matter which as they both hurt the same when sliced. But this lack of worry was also in part caused by my complete disillusionment with most athletic gear. IMG_1048

I do not like flashy gaudy colors and slogans, this is not my house it is a stadium, I am at best giving it 73%, and there is no way in the world that my level of performance needs the latest NASA technology infused compression top.IMG_1063

With all this in mind, about 15 years ago, I discovered small brand designers, hipsters, and people with taste, who make exactly the type of gym clothes I desired. Streamlined cuts. Functional. Simple solid colors- but with a NASA pricetag.

Enter Elite Sports, and Born Tough.

Same company. Two brands. different purposes.

These are now my go-to shorts for all things athletic. Granted, for me, getting up out of a chair is exercise, and the only thing I’m competing against is cardiac arrest, but this pair is the best thing I have found that moves, covers, and lets me jog without worrying my car key is going to fall out of the pocket. They hit that sweet spot in between John Stockton and Shawn Kemp, and they skip the logo. I’m a grown man and unless I once played for, or now own, a franchise, I generally don’t wear their logo. These are perfect.DA4F26AB-9FFA-4C09-B314-A1E799950F2E

The hoodie is heavy duty, simple, and my favorite- it cuts lower in the back, preventing the normal riding up when bending over. This stooping could be done while deadlifting, crossfitting, or in my case, trying to find that chocolate covered almond that just rolled under the coffee table.Whatever the case, it works for me.

And of course, because this is the world I inhabit, these are regular person priced rather than artisanal handcrafted alpaca wool from the Andean high country priced.

 

University of Washington

The University of Washington opened in 1861.IMG_0127Fifteen years later the school granted its first degree, to a woman.FC6FFD36-14BE-4319-B90C-0DBEC874188C Thirteen years after that, Washington became a state.

UW is ahead of its time.IMG_0191

Today U-dub shelters more than 47,000 students from the Seattle rain. The university boasts one of America’s top medical schools, perennial powerhouse sports teams, and possibly the United State’s western-most statue of George Washington. It really does smell like rain and coffee, people really do wear flannel shirts looking like grunge rocking lumber jacks, and there is not a flat piece of ground on the entire campus. Just strolling around is a serious workout.IMG_0180It is notable that Bruce Lee attended UW before dropping out, as did the world’s favorite glass-blowing pirate Dale Chihuly. Ken Jennings, that super nerdy guy who kept wining Jeopardy, didn’t drop out but instead transferred to BYU. Bill Gates, a famous college dropout did not attend UW, but his dad did. Kenny G attended UW where he, fittingly, studied accounting.IMG_0172

Things Worth Skipping Sleep for in Seattle: part 3

I myself am quite hefty.

I got this way in large part by enjoying a good meal. Seattle accommodated.

I had fried salmon- because “Worth It” told me to,

Elk and huckleberry sausage because it was a biergarten,

Small batch chocolate because it’s always the best,

Charcuterie at a speakeasy bar because I am me,

But best of all was Rachel’s.

I have scoured the nation, all of it, for good craft sodas, and while I make no claim that I have tried them all, I do claim that the best destination in all the land for ginger beer,

Is hands down Rachel’s.

20 flavors of house made ginger beer on tap.

Cayenne, blood orange, pineapple mango, all go surprisingly well mixed in ginger.

Large and small refillable growlers.

There is also a window off to the side selling fried chicken and poke’.

 

Get on a plane and go there now.

 

 

Things Worth Skipping Sleep for in Seattle: part 2

                                                                          FILSON

Not everything has left. Some things have stuck around, like the image of grunge rockers wearing flannel shirts. These are the same plaid shirts worn by Brooklyn lumberjacks circa 2009.

You can thank Seattle. They birthed the fashion long before Mother Love Bone became Pearl Jam. Long before anyone anywhere else.

Pendleton in Portland didn’t start making wool shirts till 1924.

Carhart was founded in 1889 but they were all about overalls and that canvas coat.

L.L. Bean was just inventing their boots in 1911

Filson started manufacturing wool clothing to outfit Klondike prospectors and lumberjacks in 1897. I, because I naturally claim the authority to do so, award the title of first flannel shirt maker, to Filson.

Now sure the fabric was around before them, and it was even made into shirts, but there is no other existing American manufacturer who has been making what we think of as the plaid flannel shirt longer, or in a place more directly associated with that clothing item, than Filson in Seattle.

Today the catalog features cowboys and fisherman, but the shop floor is populated with Brooklyn style sales associates, which suited me just fine. Their stuff is heavy, bulletproof, and so far beyond my price range that the only item I left with, or that I can afford to own, was a little button pin the size of a penny.

It cost $2.

The other stuff is well worth the price, but it is hefty.

 

I myself am quite hefty.

I got this way in large part by enjoying a good meal. Seattle accommodated…

[continued tomorrow]

Things Worth Skipping Sleep for in Seattle: part 1

I realized on the plane that the only things I knew about Seattle were based in the early 90’s. This makes sense as the Emerald City’s golden age coincided with my own coming of age but what surprised me just a little was the empty gap between then, and my now middle age.

Granted, the Seahawks did win a Super Bowl between then and now, yet in my mind, and I might argue most minds, Marshawn Lynch and Richard Sherman were the whole story there. So much so that for all I can remember the Seahawks might have played all their games in Sherman’s back yard- in some undisclosed American town.

If I try real hard I can remember the show Frazier, but no one remembers Frazier until after they remember Cheers, and that is all Boston. And, if anyone remembers Cheers they will either remember Sam Malone or Woody, then maybe the Red Sox, and none of that will lead you back to Seattle.

Wait, but if you think of Woody, you will drift over to Toy Story, which is Tom Hanks, who was in Sleepless in Seattle, so maybe you can get back to that town- but only if you do so by also going back to 1993.

And that is a bit of a shame since the place is worth a visit.

I knew about the place where they toss the fish, and back in 1992 I went up to the top of the Space Needle, but what I didn’t know was that at the base of that tall pointy tower is something even better.

MoPop, or the Museum of Pop Culture.  

It looks a lot like the Disney Concert Hall on the outside, but the inside is much more Nirvana than Beethoven. Literally.

There I saw Kurt Cobain’s cardigan, Eddie Vedder’s demo tapes, and a whole pile of guitar’s broken by both of them. I also saw Jimmy Hendrix’s guitar from Woodstock,

Prince’s blouse,

Spock’s shirt, The Wicked Witch of the West’s hat, the Hobbit’s sword, the Swamp Thing’s face, The Shining’s axe, and a six fingered glove from the Princess Bride.

It was fascinating, enjoyable, and oddly validating that they had artifacts from all sorts of pop culture things from when and wherever, but when it came to things from Seattle, they only had the things I remembered.

Except the Sonics. I cannot forget the “X-Man” Xavier McDaniel terrorizing the Jazz. But both he, and the team, have left town.

But not everything has left…

[continued tomorrow]

The Mote and Beam of Race in America

If you are a white American, who feels blamed for all that is wrong with America, and you are getting tired of it- I understand. I know that feeling. I get it.

Some of you, or us, might have actually been called a honkie, or a cracker, but most of us have not. Most of us have never been accused of racism, or called a racist to our face. But we get that message on television, online, or in classrooms and books. It is out there. Most of us, with very few and far out exceptions, don’t hate anyone because of their color, and in fact, quite like and appreciate people of all sorts and descriptions. We know who we are on the inside and it is so very tiring to be told by others that we are something different. Something bad. Because we aren’t that.

 

Right.

 

I invite you, us, to just ponder this feeling for a moment. How despite not being directly accused, as in no person has said “{insert your name here} you are a racist and black people have it hard in America because you {insert your name} make it that way”, we still feel that blame. This message in the atmosphere causes us to feel a burden and shame that we either have to reject or bear. It does not feel right and that feeling takes a toll.

 

Now, having pondered that reality and that feeling, I ask you to consider, or imagine, what it must feel like for any average black person to live in America. Imagine being a black American who goes to a school named after Robert E. Lee, or whose neighbor flies a confederate flag, or whose town square has a statue commemorating the confederacy. Perhaps none of these things, or none of the people responsible for their existence, are there calling this black person the N-word, and maybe no one has refused them a job because they are black, but still, there is in this environment, a bad atmosphere. There is, and are, these physical manifestations that might not say “I hate you”, explicitly but rather just celebrate these people, or symbols, or times, that considered you, the black person, less than human. Just imagine how in every history class, on every 4th of July, before every sporting event, or every time you pay for something with cash, there are physical celebrations of individuals and times, that considered you, the black person, equal to animals and property. No one around you seems to care, or even notice.

 

No one is saying to this contemporary black American that they are an animal or less than human- but the face on that quarter said it.

 

Would that get tiring?

 

If you are a white person, like I am, and you feel the pressure or the angst or the frustration of being blamed or defamed, consider for a minute there are no government monuments in your life honoring Farrakhan or Elijah Muhammed. The United States of America has no holiday or currency that honors anyone who expressed an explicit hatred for, or belief in the inferiority of, you.

Nothing in your day to day life, puts you naturally in the position of honoring or paying homage to a person or institution, that explicitly and with federal sanction demeaned you.

 

The more I consider this, the more I think things are not the same. It isn’t an equivalent. I might still have some feelings, I for one have indeed been called all those names and been directly accused (in my mind unjustified), but even considering that I must admit that what I bear is far less significant, or even existent, than what my surroundings say to black people all the time.

 

It is like comparing a wisp of a ghost to the Secret Service. Neither really have anything to do with me or have any direct influence on my life, but I know one exists and can be touched, but I can’t really prove the other. One is obvious and indisputable, even if it doesn’t know me, while the other might just only be in my head.

 

So I, and we, the white folks, have this experience and this feeling, but I urge us to use this feeling to better understand, and perhaps empathize, but absolutely respect, those people, especially the black people, who choose to kneel during the anthem, who ask for statues to come down, who lobby for streets and schools to be renamed, or all of those people who might complain about something that you or we might consider insignificant or imagined, and just understand how big the beam is in our eyes. We cannot refuse or ignore or deride those who point out the tangible, when we ourselves harbor ghosts.

Is America Fair: what is white supremacy?

Does America treat black and white citizens equally?

If your answer is yes, then we must grapple with some additional, hard, questions.

If America treats black and white citizens equally then why does the median white family have 41 times more wealth than the median black family? (median white has $147,000 in wealth while black median is $3,500) https://inequality.org/facts/racial-inequality/

Why are black people incarcerated at a rate 6 times that of white people? (1,549 black prisoners for every 100,000 black citizens versus 272 white prisoners for every 100,000 white citizen). https://www.pewresearch.org/…/shrinking-gap-between-number…/

Why do 35% of White adults have college degrees while only 21% of black adults have the same? https://nces.ed.gov/progra…/raceindicators/indicator_RFA.asp

Why the huge gap in wealth, incarceration, and education?

Is it simply the result of individual choices?
Is it that black people are making poorer financial decisions, committing more crimes, and performing worse in school?

To say this, is to imply, directly, that white people make better financial moves, are more law abiding, and do better in school.

Another way of saying that, is to say, white people are better than black people.

If this is your answer it does not mean you hate black people. It does not mean you are evil.
But it does mean you need to grapple with the truth that this idea is the foundation of white supremacist ideology.

When we hear the term white supremacist, most of us envision a KKK member in a white hood, or a Neo Nazi with a shaved head, out committing violence against black or brown people. We are appalled and shocked that such people exist, we condemn them en masse, and none of us think we are anything like “them”. But really, if we think that the disparity between black and white in America is simply the result of black people making bad choices, then the only fundamental differences between “us” and the white supremacists, is hatred and violence.
But the ideology is the same.

The facts are that white people have vastly more wealth than black people, both overall and by percentage. Black people are exponentially more likely to serve, or have served, jail time than their white peers, and white people attend and complete college at much higher rates than black Americans. Are these just benign facts?

If America is fair, then are we to assume that white people are just smarter, better, and harder working than black people and these data points are just evidence? Or could it be something else?

Maybe our meritocracy, isn’t anywhere near as meritocratic as we like to believe.

I have known too many lazy, criminal, and non-academic white people to accept that things are fair. I myself, a white man, have lacked ambition, broken laws, for most of my teen years skipped my homework, and by many measures I am doing great.
Conversely, I have known far too many brilliant, savvy, and law-abiding black people who are not reaping the same harvest as their white counterparts. The cultural, or personal choice, disparity explanation simply doesn’t check out. It doesn’t bear up under investigation.
Yes, all choices have consequences, and we all make choices, but the outcomes, the consequences, are not uniform across the color line.

America simply does not treat black and white people equally.

We can fix this.

But we have to be willing to do the hard work- including the initial prerequisite wrestle with our own ideas and perceptions.

**By “America” I mean our legal system, our economy, and our day to day interpersonal lives.