Monday, December 31, 2012

Good & Not So Good of 2012

It’s a few hours before that horrible TV experience known as ROCKIN' NEW YEAR’S EVE, so it must be time for my annual Good & Not So Good of the past year.

2012 “Good” of Pop Culture

Movie: Lincoln
TV Show: Boardwalk Empire
Reality Show: America’s Got Talent
Book: Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James
Album: Overexposed by Maroon 5
Song: “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen
Episode of SNL: Martin Short & Paul McCartney (Dec 2012)
Sports Story of 2012: NY Giants once again beat Brady and the Patriots
Late Night Talk Show: Jimmy Fallon
Favorite Celebrity of 2012: Wilford Brimley (of course)
Break Out Star of 2012: Ted from the movie Ted
Best Thing of 2012: Barack Obama reelected

2012 “Not So Good” of Pop Culture

Movie: Rock of Ages
TV Show: Is Whitney still on?
Reality Show: Snooki & J-Woww
Book: In One Person by John Irving
Album: Unapologetic by Rihanna
Song: "Never Ever Getting Back Together" by Taylor Swift
SNL Episode: Daniel Craig & Muse (Oct 2012)
Annoying Story of 2012: Summer Olympics
Horrible Story of 2012 Two-Way Tie: Newtown Shootings/Super Storm Sandy
People Magazine Story of 2012: William & Kate Pregnant
Late Night Talk Show: Chelsea Lately
Most Overrated Star of 2012: Rihanna
Least Favorite Celebrity of 2012: Kim Kardashian
Biggest Disappointment: "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."
Worst Thing of 2012: Gangnam Style

My 2013 Wish: RIP, American Idol

There you have it. I hope you had a super 2012. Try not to fall of the 'Fiscal Cliff' in 2013!

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Brian Huba

Friday, December 28, 2012

Literally the sickest story I have ever read

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Brian Huba

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Give 'Em the Strippers

Did anyone read about the off-duty Schenectady Cops being investigated for having strippers at the Clam Shack on Broadway? A group of graveyard guys got together for a “glorified” Holiday Party and brought in some adult entertainment. Now the Chief of Police, Mark Chaires, has to pretend he cares about this, and when it’s done, the Dept. will probably have to suspend their “glorified” Parties, because that’s what the public will demand. I say if nothing illegal happened, who cares, give 'em the strippers.

Do you have any idea what the life of a Schenectady Beat Officer is probably like? The stress involved with taking a domestic-disturbance or gunshot call in Hamilton Hill? Many of these cops are just like me, early thirties, first house, starting a family, etc. Only difference is I don’t live with the reality that every time I punch the time clock I could come back with a toe tag. They're doing the most dangerous work in Upstate New York, functioning on tight salaries, trying to create a civilized life for themselves and family, but their whole day (or night) is wearing a uniform and huge hat inside slums where most see you as the enemy. You want to do it?

In a world where fire fighters are being baited to house calls for target practice, I think these cops should get strippers every Friday night, paid with tax dollars, which wasn't the case here, of course. Schenectady Cop? I’d probably be divorced, a drunk, every fingernail chewed to the quick. And these guys aren't small-town cop who gets off duty then gets drunk and drives down the road in reverse, because he can. We all know that guy. Nope. The Electric City is the real deal.

God bless 'em. And if legally-hired strippers is what it takes to compartmentalize some of the stress, so be it.

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Brian Huba

Friday, December 21, 2012

Bad Idea, Jethro

Anyone who thinks more guns are the answer to solving gun violence probably thinks Sarah Palin would be a good President too. To believe that arming teachers and clergymen and hospital employees will deter people who want to commit heinous crimes like we saw in Newtown last week is the same as suggesting the best way to fight drugs is just give everybody crack and coke to even it out. It’s ridiculous and such ridiculousness on issues is eating America from the inside out. Being from New York we are immune to most of this Ted Nugent thinking, but take a trip to Kansas or Kentucky and you’ll see why George Bush was elected President.

Enough already with the Second Amendment. I’m so tired of NRAers throwing that argument up as defense for arming the entire country. It means nothing. I don’t care about your right to have a wall of weapons in your house. That amendment was written by men whose heads would explode if they ever saw a two-story building. That antiquated amendment doesn’t mean every American gets to have an assault rifle capable of crushing an entire village. A small handgun is one thing, not weaponry that the Taliban would get giddy over.

What about hunting, Brian? Hunting is disgusting. I don’t need a lesson on where meat comes from, I get that. But for a regular civilian to go into the woods and blow an animal’s head off for game, that’s not my kind of game. But, Brian, without hunting the wild animal population would be overwhelming. Wrong again, Jethro, it wouldn’t. Wild animals statistically live short lives and die off from so many other things. Hunting doesn’t affect it either way. So please, can the Right-to-Bear-Arms-for-Hunting argument.

What’s next? Arming teachers to stop school shootings? Another gem, Jethro. You want a teacher in front of a classroom conducting a lesson with a handgun on his person? Really? You know for every teacher there are about 30 students of all different states of mind. 30 to 1. Yeah right, that doesn’t have front page of the NY POST written all over it. And if a shooter enters the school, said teacher can just retreat to his office and grab his assault rifle and shoot the intruder dead. So you want a Hollywood shootout in the hallways of our high schools? No, Brian, the teachers would be trained. Really? That 57-year-old computer teacher would be trained to identify and eliminate a target with one bullet? So he’d teach computer class AND be James Bond?

If you’re not in the Army, a Police Officer, or some profession of that nature, you should NOT have an assault rifle. The end. I don’t care about your Second-Amendment Rights and I don’t care about your Hunting Sundays. We had 21,000 gun deaths last year. Actually, I know a few guys who were shot dead while hunting. Enough is enough. This is just another issue that Barack Obama has to clean up after eight years of Bush. And if you tell me that same dumb line: Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Again I say no, Jethro. There’s a reason the Military doesn’t invade foreign lands armed with Puppies or Goose-feather Pillows. Guns are killing machines.

What's my solution to problems right now? Build a time machine, go back to 2000, and put Gore in the White House? America is still the best country in the world, but even the best is going to flounder a while right off the worst leader in Modern History.

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Brian Huba

Sunday, December 16, 2012

George Bush & Social Media

What happened on Friday in Newtown is one of the worst moments in Modern American History. 9/11, Pearl Harbor, the Challenger & JFK. That bad. And now the talk will turn to blame. The gun guys will tell you guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Actor/Politicians will Tweet super-original things like it’s the media’s fault for glorifying killers. Others will finger the separation of God and schools. Some might say America is mishandling its mentally ill. I go George Bush and Social Media.

George Bush ruined this country. When he stole that election from Al Gore, the US of A tumbled immediately into terrorism, all-out war, violence, natural disasters, and surging surpluses gone. Paradise finished. We lost two towers, four commercial flights, and the City of New Orleans. I’d say 'God' was sending America a bright-neon sign. When historians look back, the election of Bush will be the beginning of the end in America. Why are 400,000 teachers about to be laid off? Bush! Why are we in a Fiscal Cliff? Bush! Why are the roads and bridges crumbling? Bush! Why are college degrees useless? Bush! He ruined this country.

When Obama mercifully took office in 2009, the country was in the worst shape it’s been since the 1930s. And before you blame Obama for not magically fixing the Great Recession remember it took the beloved FDR nine years to pull us out of the Great Depression. On this issue, what do you want Obama to do? Arm the teachers? Can anyone say Syria?

So here we are: 30 million hopelessly out of work, doing nothing but starting Facebook wars and posting statuses. Why? Bush! 30 million, that’s more people than most countries total. Social Media has allowed the worst thing possible for any prospering empire: It's given uninformed people a voice and place to mobilize. Remember when you had to be an accredited journalist to have a media presence?

We are endlessly on the brink of war around the world, the rich are obnoxiously rich, the Middle Class is a shrinking image, and our 20-somethings want to be singer/songwriters/artists. Nobody wants to be an electrician or plumber or elevator repairman. Electricians don't shoot up schools. Failed songwriters with orange hair do that. They all want to be Snooki and the Situation. Everyone wants their fifteen minutes of fame, even if that fame comes on a suicide mission.

The American Dream is now a reality-TV, Down-to-the-Final-Eight ideology. It’s no longer a modest house with a job and family. Everyone is going to be famous now, it’s an American Right. Today's 20-somethings are going to be the first generation to fall short of their parents. You can thank George Bush who crippled this country's growth and Facebook for giving people a forum to 'fight back.'

What happens when that 21-year-old who wants to be a singer/songwriter/artist/actor realizes such a career is less likely than getting hit by lighting and winning the lottery? Is that when his desire to be talked about gives him the idea to shoot up a middle school or shopping mall? Plumbers don't shoot up shopping malls. Having people blog about you is better than a ranch house and raising kids on a carpenter’s salary. It's the Fast-Food Approach. It's the new America.

George Bush turned America into a country club for the top 2%, while destroying the Middle Class on a fake war and unregulated mortgage practices that put a bullet in the housing market. Combine that with a culture of delusional, over-parented 20-somethings. You can be anything you want to be, Little Johnny. Who cares about ethic or talent? You deserve it. When you’re young and unequipped to face rejection or challenge, there’s no limit to what you could do to yourself or others. This is what happens when the present can’t climb past the prior. My only fear is what’s next? What will some wannabe singer/songwriter with access to guns do to be talked about on MSNBC? What could ever be worse than executing 20 elementary kids? I'm afraid we might soon find out.

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Brian Huba

Monday, December 10, 2012

One Last Conversation

Yesterday was the Holiday Party on my father’s side. This tradition has been going for years, and it’s always interesting to see everyone. This year it was held at my cousin Jen’s house in Loudonville, and I remember when Jen was just a kid (she’s the same age as me), chasing gifts from her mother. Now she’s almost a mother herself and the emcee of the only family party we hold true to. Of course this party has been a bittersweet day since my father’s passing in 2009. It's always a mixed bag of emotions. Yesterday was no different.

The hardest part of losing any loved one is knowing you can never see them again, never have another conversation. During the festivities yesterday, I slipped off to a side room to take a breather, and found my father’s brother sitting alone in the semi-dark by the window. This brother is about the same age as my father, he looks like him, talks like him, moves like him, and his eyes are the same. He was my father’s best friend and best man at his wedding. They spent afternoons together for years. This man is the closest thing on earth to what my father was, and there he was, alone in the semi-dark.

Me and this uncle don’t usually talk. He’s had a hard time with things, losing some of the movement and ability in his right hand and arm from a life in construction. When I saw him there, my first instinct was to wave hello and move along, but for some reason I sat down in the next chair. We spoke for twenty minutes. Every so often he moved painfully in his seat, trying to adjust his arthritic and withered body. We spoke of all things.

A few minutes into the talk I realized I was using my father’s closest brother. In that semi-dark room, I was using my uncle to cheat the one rule of death, and have one last conversation with my father. Yes, for a few moments in time, my father was alive again, morphed up from his brother, if only in the eyes, and voice, and movements. I was able to speak with him. I cheated. And when it was done, I ended the conversation and went back to my wife, leaving my father’s brother alone in the semi-dark.

When my father was alive, we had an up-and-down relationship. It was, at times, a chaotic dynamic, often capable of sparking with intense love or anger. I guess that’s how life goes. The last time I ever saw my dad, we were over at the family house. I was with my wife (then my girlfriend) and dogs, and my mother, brother, and sister were there. The whole family together for dinner at his new dining-room table.

When the food finished, we talked like two grown men. Finally after all those years of chaos, we had reached a mutual peace. This would be the beginning of a great time in life. Later on, when he got tired, he said he was heading to bed. We shook hands and he said, “I’ll see you soon, Brian.” Then I watched him walk off and up the stairs, into the darkness, and I never saw him again, a lifetime of chaos ended so quietly and easily. It was nice to see him again yesterday, if only for a few moments in the semi-dark.

Brian Huba

Saturday, December 8, 2012


My greatest fear is dying senselessly. Every day I leave the house I wonder for a few beats if this is my day, because there’s no way you can know. I have thought much about the two local tragedies this week. First the young girl stabbed to death by her sister’s ex-boyfriend in Albany. She was 20. Who figures their life could ever end stabbed to death? I’ve also thought much about the Shen seniors who passed away last weekend. In the end Dennis Drue, who struck their SUV and has since been crucified, his “troubled past” posted all over the media, wasn’t even drunk, and the DA will have a heck of time proving he did anything wrong. How can he prove it? I think this ordeal ends with Drue walking. Dying senselessly. Horrible.

Did anyone see that Christopher Wallace's AKA Notorious BIG's autopsy was made public this week? Biggie was shot in LA in ’97 leaving a night club. It was a drive by and Biggie was in the shotgun seat of a Chevy Suburban. He was shot four times, including a bullet in the scrotum, and only the final shot was fatal. The rapper was rushed to Cedar-Sinai Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 24. Biggie’s killer has never been found. As I’m sure most remember, this was the unofficial finish to the East Coast vs. West Coast Rap Battle that waged in the late 90s, and was intensified with the shooting death of Tupac Shakur in ’96 in Vegas after the Mike Tyson Fight. Tupac’s killer has never been found either.

I think Biggie’s death is as sad and senseless as the murder of John Lennon. I don’t think Biggie or Puff Daddy or Bad Boy wanted anything to do with this silly East vs. West thing that Death Row and Tupac fueled for so many years. All Biggie ever talked about was making peace with Tupac and enjoying the huge success they both had. But Tupac was 150lbs of walking, talking trouble. He was involved with so many bad people, like Suge Knight and the Black Panthers. The night Tupac died, he was caught on security tape stomping some guy in a casino lobby. The night Biggie died, he didn’t have a drop of alcohol or drugs in his system, despite just leaving a night club. Biggie rapped about the life. Tupac tried being it. Biggie wanted nothing to do with this war.

Every time Tupac got shot, and he got shot a lot, moron rap fans and media people found a way to link it back to Biggie. And Biggie would tell anyone who would listen that he had nothing to do with it. Why would Biggie want Tupac dead? Why would he commit murder, even by accessory, with millions in the bank and living a dream life? But when Tupac was finally finished off at 25 in Vegas, Biggie knew that he was next, even though he was three thousand miles away when it happened. The truth: Tupac’s own people probably killed him to sell posthumous albums. But from the moment Tupac expired, Biggie knew his days were numbered, for this fake war was destined to end no other way. The last seven months of his life, despite releasing one of the best rap albums ever, was lived waiting to die by some idiot screaming “thug life” and putting a bullet in his back for no reason.

The greatest rapper who ever lived was shot dead in LA less than a year after Tupac was murdered. And just like that East vs. West was over. It’s one of the saddest, most senseless chapters in pop culture history, fueled by the mob mentality of total idiots. Biggie and Tupac were rap gods, once-in-a-lifetime talents, and we just wasted them away for nothing. It’s heart wrenching to think how Biggie lived the last few months of his life. Watch some interviews from that time. Biggie is in full-blown paranoia. He knows. And when he went out to LA to promote LIFE AFTER DEATH, he was being threatened in the malls and on the music channels. Many wonder why he didn’t just leave LA on the spot. Why would he? His senseless death was already written in the stars, whether it be LA, NYC, or Fargo.

’97 was my senior year in high school. We hit Lake George for Memorial Day Weekend after the Senior Dinner Dance. Notorious had just died. I remember a few friends from my school pulled up on the Strip in a red Mustang convertible at dusk. They parked outside the arcade across from Taco Bell, and cranked “Mo Money, Mo Problems,” and we all stood around the car, and that last verse, when Biggie raps, we were all singing along, “B-I-G-P-O-P-P-A . . . Tap my cell and the phone in the basement ... Step on stage, girls boo too much . . .” It was the only moment I remember from that weekend. Perhaps people would say it was best he went out on top. To compare, watching Eminem these last few years has been sad, I'll grant that, how he went from a revolutionary to making duets with that joke Rhianna. But at least he's alive. And Biggie's dead. Tragic. Senseless.

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Brian Huba

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

No Moral, No Lesson, Just Awful

No moral, no lesson, just awful. Four teenagers driving home from a sporting event. Driving in the right-hand land, not texting or speeding. Two teenagers about to die the same way they lived: Doing the right thing. Then there’s a 22-year-old. By all accounts, a few drinks with friends (although we'll wait to see how few was a few), same way a million 22-year-olds did on Saturday night. Then he hit the Northway at 70-75MPH, weaving through traffic perhaps, but nothing we haven’t all done a thousand times. A mile north of the Twin Bridges, the ugly, awful twist of fate would occur at roughly 10:20PM, leaving two dead, two seriously injured, and innumerable lives annihilated.

I’m sure there are thousands of Plainsmen and/or Bison who would give Dennis Drue .47-cent justice if they could. I’m sure. There may be others who think the media’s role in this story sets a high standard when considering how future teenage deaths will be mourned. But whatever you think, anytime two 17-year-olds lose their lives before they even begin it, they deserve a moment in time, and the size of that moment is not the issue. Two huge school communities came together to mourn the loss of two of their comrades, and last night, the Shen Vigil, you saw a piece of what that process looks like. There's no right or wrong, no rationalizing what happened Saturday night. There’s no formula.

As I reflected on this story, I happened upon an ESPN article about a professional football player, named Jovan Belcher, who last weekend murdered his girlfriend, leaving said woman’s daughter orphaned, then drove his Bentley (that’s right, his Bentley) to the football stadium in Kansas City, and shot himself in the parking lot. Here was a man given the gift of life, somehow made it to the NFL, a dream come true times fifty, and does nothing with that except blow an innocent woman away, ruin a child’s life, and voluntarily end his.

I'm not emotionally invested in this man’s death or inspired by stories of his team playing hard to win one for him. I don’t want to see murals set up in his memory. Not when I read about the deaths of Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers, two young people who, by all accounts, were full of life and eager to maximize every earthly opportunity. My sadness is invested at home, with that. In this case, the student athletes are the role models, not the professional one.

One thing in life binds us all: We have no idea what the grand plan is, the big picture. We cannot predict fate or even say if it’s an actual thing. No human can. With that I think back to my own Saturday night, at D’Raymond’s with friends for dinner. At 10.10PM we left, heading towards home. At the last second, for some crazy reason, we decided to drive back to Clifton Park through Loudonville instead of the Northway. If we had taken the usual route, I-87, we would've been one mile north of the Twin Bridges at roughly 10.20PM. Maybe, if we didn’t decide to take that last-second left into Loudonville, it would’ve been us that got bumped by Dennis Drue. It’s a hollow take away, a powerless one.

For me, and my wife, and a million other Capital Region people, Saturday night was not our destiny, but it was for Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers. That’s all we know. And for Dennis Drue, his destiny was at the other end of this ugly, awful twist of fate, a "fate" he allowed to happen one could argue. His child (and one on the way) will now live with the burden of his mistake. I don’t know why any of this is true or what the big-picture reason behind it is. And I guess that’s what bothers me the most, for this is a story that has no moral, no lesson, it's just awful.

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Brian Huba

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Three Things

Is Bigger Always Better?

One of our favorite lunch places, a popular sandwich shoppe in Halfmoon, has upgraded their facility, moving to a bigger, better building next store. Obviously the move came from the swell of popularity the place has deservedly gotten. The new building has flat-screen TVs, more dining-room tables, a nicer reception area for pickups, etc. Is bigger always better? There’s a nagging fear in me that when the big-screen TVs come out, somehow the product that made such an upgrade necessary suffers. Of course any small business would be pumped that things have taken off to the point that new digs are needed, but it kind of feels like the beginning of the end. Not an end to the actual business, if you build it they will come, but an end to the character that made the place one of our favorites. How many times have you looked back on one of your favorites and recognized that the Grand Opening of the new location was when said company jumped the shark? The TVs are nice and the dining room is huge, but the charm is gone, and so often that means the product goes with it.

The Best $54.00 I Ever Spent

One of our dogs had a small bump on her belly the last two weeks. Of course we thought the worst. We went on Pet MD, and they said it could be anything from a hang nail to terminal cancer. We have a vet up north (outside Plattsburgh) that we use, so plans to bring Lola up there for a biopsy were being planned. Finally we broke down and brought her to $$$$$$haker Vet in Latham. We went in expecting them to read us a doom’s-day report, where all kinds of test$$$$$ would be required, but it didn’t happen. They told us she was fine, a very common condition in female dogs of a certain age (six in her case), and that she was as healthy as a horse, and apparently eating like one too. I have to hand it to Shaker Vet. They were fantastic with her in every way, and they put our hearts at ease. Last night was a great night with that worry omitted. The Best $54.00 I ever spent.

Sign of the Times

Last night we went to dinner at D’Raymond’s with some friends. They told us that a package they ordered from a week before had been ripped apart on their doorstep when they got home from work. How scary. Turns out this is becoming a trend. People follow UPS trucks through neighborhoods and watch for Amazon boxes to be delivered. When the recipient doesn’t answer and the driver leaves the package on the property, people walk right up, tear through the packages for anything valuable. Wow. To me this is what happens when 10% of the population is out of work. Can’t we just pay 1% more taxes and keep everybody employed? But I guess a positive to this is that people might start buying local again instead of Internet ordering. I know over the Net is easier, but I don’t want to give anybody an enticement to come onto my property when I’m not home. It’s a sign of the times.

Brian Huba

Friday, November 30, 2012

Cell Phones in Public

The other day we stopped by the Exit 9 Wine & Liquor in Clifton Park. I don’t know much about wine stores or what to buy so it was an interesting experience for me. At the check-out register while paying, I noticed a young woman at the next register swiping her Credit Card on a few bottles of wine she’d bought. While completing the transaction she remained on her cell phone, holding it under her ear and engaging in what I thought was a conversation the rest of us shouldn've been forced to listen to. It was a boyfriend from the sounds of it, and they were having a tiff of some sort.

Although the nature of the conversation was itself annoying, seeing that this woman couldn’t wait to get into her car to make this phone call was even more annoying. Who does this? Who has a full-blown phone conversation while conducting business in a public setting? I thought it was very rude and rather disrespectful to the cashier completing the purchase. Staying on your cell phone like that is kind of saying that the cashier is insignificant and doesn’t deserve your basic respect while in his/her store.

Maybe I’m wrong I thought. So when the cell-phone woman went off I asked the cashier if that kind of thing was seen as rude by the workers. Without hesitation the cashier said they all hated it, and how it happened all the time. Terrible, I thought.

If I’m ever on the phone with someone and I hear them doing business of this sort on the other end, for instance saying, “Hold on.” Then, “Can I get a foot-long turkey--” I just hang up. I hate holding on for that and I feel slimy being part of it happening to the person who has to serve this cell-phone fool.

There was a time when I actually stood up for the cell-phone user. I was at the old Borders on Wolf Rd. I was upstairs reading a book and a woman came through on her cell phone. She had a friend or family member on the line and was running through book titles, trying to get the purchase right. An elderly couple sitting a few feet from me and reading a book they weren’t going to buy scolded the woman for being rude. The woman apologized and ran off embarrassed.

I said to the couple, “This isn’t a library. She was trying to buy a book.” In my opinion she had the right-of-way on that one. And two months later that Borders closed down. Maybe too many people treating the place like a library and not a retailer.

Brian Huba

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Staying the Course

On Friday night we hit the Clifton Park Regal to see LINCOLN starring Daniel Day Lewis. The movie was amazing, the kind of flick you can discuss for hours. The story focused on Lincoln’s struggle to win the Civil War AND end slavery. Lincoln had ample opportunity to quell the bloodiest mess in US history if he left slavery alone, but Abe would hear none of it. He wanted both, because some wins are more important than other wins.

His cabinet told him the votes for the 13th amendment (end to slavery) did not exist and he risked everything by insisting on no war AND no slavery. But he did not relent, even though it complicated his personal life and risked his political legacy. He would not take the easy way out. In the end, he won both, and history remembers him as one of the nation’s most important presidents. He stayed the course and that made all the difference.

Lincoln’s battle has stayed with me all weekend. It was with me as I watched an undersized high school football team from Hoosick Falls claim the Class C NYS Title on Saturday. All week I'd heard the "cabinet” of football experts guaranteeing that Hoosick Falls had no chance against a bigger, better opponent in Hornell. Hornell hadn’t lost a game since ’08, 51&0 in that stretch, the longest streak in NYS. They were the three-time Class B Champions, and would surely cake walk to a fourth title in the lower Class C. Be happy you made it, Hoosick Falls, with your pint-sized offensive line and town population of three thousand. Why fight? Why stay the course? You have no chance.

Long story short, the Panthers came to play, and Hornell did not, choosing to believe their history would be enough this past Saturday in Syracuse. You can measure a person’s height/weight, for HF that was real short/real light, but you can’t measure a person’s determination to get 'er done. Not only did Hoosick Falls beat Hornell, that red-clad squad with their names stenciled on their backs, they CRUSHED them. The Red Raiders were left black and blue, win streak and championship run, finished. And in the end, a group of country kids who were ready to sacrifice everything to claim victory brought the first-ever state crown home. And, in my opinion, it’s one of the greatest championship stories I’ve ever heard. These kids stayed the course, they ignored popular opinion, and didn’t quit until every opponent was downed. In the end: 13&0.

Finally I thought of Hoosick Falls’ Head Coach, Ron Jones, a man who has obviously spent the better part of his adult life on a high school sideline. Coach Jones is now peppered with gray hair and a look that says he’s seen it all. He's done nothing but win at Hoosick Falls, an improbable feat perhaps, considering where and what Hoosick Falls is. And, despite all that winning, claiming a state crown was probably too much to hope for as a Panther, certainly a long shot against the mighty Red Raiders from Hornell. Maybe, along the way, Jones could’ve taken his laundry list of accolades to a bigger, richer school, and won a championship already, maybe a few, but he stayed the course. And today I’m willing to bet he wouldn’t trade this single championship for anything else in the world, because some wins are more important than other wins. I bet he's happy he didn’t take the easy way out. All those hours of film study I’m certain he’s burned, all those August doubles, all those heartbreaks along the way, were worth having this moment. I’ll bet.

In today’s America, where everyone wants to go from college to the corner office, Ron Jones, like Lincoln, is everything that is right about work ethic. There is no glory in taking the easy way out. There is no glory in winning by three when you’re favored by fifteen. Glory is staying the course. Then one day, after the long journey (because nothing worth doing is devoid of the long journey) you bring an outsized army to an unwinnable fight and stomp out the naysayers. Why? Because you’ve been waiting your whole life to fight this fight.

Nobody’s inspired by a 22 year old driving a Mercedes. Nobody’s inspired by “Dream Teams” in sports. It’s in the hardest times when character is built. It’s the willingness to dig deeper and fight longer that result in the greatest payout. Staying the course is the only way to win the most meaningful fights. One need not look further than Abraham Lincoln or Coach Ron Jones on that. For Coach Jones, like Lincoln, belongs to the ages now.

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Brian Huba

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I'm Ready to Run

The first time I promised myself I was going to run the Troy Turkey Trot, I was twenty years old. I had a job I liked and was even interested in a girl at that job. My roommate Bill was the bouncer at Michael’s on Madison Ave., and the night before Thanksgiving, I saw that girl walk in when I was there with him. I remember she looked brighter than everyone else coming through the crowd, I remember that. I was wearing this new denim jacket I thought was so cool. Life? Figured out at twenty. One week later, I lost that job and any shot at that girl. With no income, back went the cool denim jacket to Macy’s. Nope, I had some things to work on still. I wasn’t ready to run yet.

The next few years were lost to the simple fact that the night before Thanksgiving meant everyone from high school was home for the weekend, so party hardy. It meant going out all night. I might’ve said I was going to run that Turkey Trot, might’ve even said it while standing at the bar at the Bayou or the Big House, eyes all a glaze, but I never actually meant it. I knew I wouldn’t be ready to run; it simply wasn’t a priority at that time. Still not ready.

Fast Forward and I’m twenty-five. In September when graduate school started, I announced I’d be running in November, come hell or high water I’d be at that Turkey Trot. I was on a treadmill three times a week. I was ready to take that race. I even made a crazy prediction of victory, which was laughed at by Tony who managed the St. Rose gym. A few days before the Thanksgiving Break, I realized I had messed up the first part of a whole-semester assignment, and instead of ripping up Downtown Troy my Thanksgiving Day was spent in front of a computer getting my mess ups corrected so I could submit the second part of that assignment by term’s end. Nope. No race for me. Man, I thought I was ready.

So many times we think we’re ready for the big job, the big house, the big race, but the truth is we’re not there yet. There’s still work to be done, mistakes to iron out. It can be frustrating when you set a goal and fall short. When you think you’re in a bigger, better place than you actually are. That can be hard. And many times it’s hard to see the bigger picture. But when it all works out, you understand why it was the way it was, and wouldn't trade it for the world. That year I was twenty-five. Still not ready to run.

Thanksgiving Weekend two years later: My ten-year reunion. Wow, had it already been a decade since I graduated high school? It was a weekend spent swapping stories of successes and marriages and just-born babies and living in Atlanta, and everything else my classmates were up to at 27 and 28 years old. Again, I felt pretty good. I had earned an AA, a BA, and just recently a MS, working my first “real” job, even living with a woman. We had a dog. Yep, I had it all figured out. No need to run that Turkey Trot. Who did I have to prove anything to? Then life threw another, wholly-unexpected curve. By June, the job was gone, the girl a month later, and the next three months after that, nightly nightmares about the dog I’d left behind. Enter the dark time.

Five years later, the girl is back and the dog is watching me write this. In fact, she has two little sisters now. Three spoiled dogs. The three months I went without that woman and that dog were the worst. But life has so many curve balls, and fate gave me a second chance with her to iron out my mistakes. Thank you, fate. Within hours of reconciliation, my life went right back to good. Literally: Hours. Now we’re married, the apartment is a house, and talk of making a family is in full swing. So often, when I look back, I can’t believe I was able to make this work out right. How did I get so lucky? All those times in my past were actually the building blocks of my present, whether I knew it or not.

So the other night--when the call came from rather-athletic cousins on my wife’s side--asking if I wanted to run the Turkey Trot with them/against them, I didn’t hesitate before saying, “sign me up.” Yep, I think I’m ready to run. Change that: I know I’m ready. And my wife, with her parents, will watch us run, and cheer, and this is the way it was always meant to be. This is what all those past failures were building towards. I’m so glad this year will be my first. I couldn’t think of a better way to make my Turkey Trot premiere, running with people I love, running alongside family, not alone.

And I promise, if I see that victory tape still unbroken when I round for home, I’m going to hit that last piece with every ounce of energy I have. (For the record, if I finish in the top 1,000 it will be a miracle.) Why? I’ve been waiting my whole life to run this race. And I’ll have a full tank still because I know who’ll be waiting on the other side of that finish line. And the knowing, there could be no greater motivator. The knowing it's going to be all right in the end. See, I've already won. And . . .

I’m ready to run.

Brian Huba

PS: In case you're wondering, I finished 360th place out of 5700 runners. I had a time of 22:52. I was beaten by 307 men and 52 women. Added on 11.25.12

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Crabby Secretary

Is there anything more annoying than the crabby secretary? Why do so many women in this position insist on projecting this personality? I know, I know, you’re actually the most important person in the office, all things go through you, blah, blah. Yeah OK, and the guy who plays keyboards, he’s the most important piece in Paul McCartney’s band. I understand and respect the role of the admin. assistant in an office, and, at my workplace, I have been blessed with two of the greatest secretaries ever, but so many times when I am out and about, I am forced to deal with the self-important secretary. Ma am, with all due respect, I’m here for the product five feet behind you, not to tiptoe around this cranky, I-hate-my-life character you’re playing. Just tell the guy I’m here to see him.

Case & point: Yesterday during the day I wasn’t feeling very well: chest pains, numbness, scary stuff. I called my doctor’s office, and he agreed to see me right after work. What a guy, my doctor. When I showed up at the office I had to first deal with the crabby secretary who interrogated me about my visit. And the whole time she wouldn’t even look at me, and kept snapping at me and cutting me off as I tried explaining that I called and was given the green light to come in. Then she does the thing where she puts her finger in your face to silence you so she can take a phone call, and then was super rude to the caller.

When I finally finished my story, she says, “Ten dollars.” Just that, "Ten dollars." Um, OK, and thanks for caring. I gave her my CC/Debit card and she looked at it like it was diseased. Then she takes several minutes to scan it, slaps the receipt on the counter for me to sign, then snatches it back. She never even looked at me once. Wow. It was awful. Lady, I’m not here for you and your orthopedic sneakers and Nalgene bottle. I think I might be having a heart attack (of course I'm not). Have you seen me in a cut-off t-shirt? But I thought I was, and the least you can do is look at me when speaking. Many secretaries are amazing. Maybe she's amazing, and was just having a bad day, but come on, treat me like a human. I'm at a doctor's office and I'm nervous. In this ecomony, everyone is a dime a dozen. We need to work extra to treat people with respect.

The doctor himself was amazing, a brilliant man. I love my doctor. He gave a complete exam and assured me that I wasn’t dying. Thank God for my doctor. It was the greatest doctor’s visit I ever had, and left there feeling like a million dollars. If you're wondering: I did not bad mouth his office help. Of course not, and I'm sure he will not read this. But the dealing with the secretary was terrible, just terrible, and if I was my doctor, and found out that any customers were being treated like numbers on a chart, let’s just say: Someone wouldn’t be getting flowers on April 24th.

Brian Huba

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Footnote in History

In twenty years, Mitt Romney old and all-the-way grey in the hair now, will walk through his huge summer home on the coast, sit down in that big, comfortable chair by the picture window that looks out on the Atlantic Ocean, and turn on the TV, a big job, something real thin in the faraway future, I’m sure.

He’ll use his futuristic remote control to pull up that same old recording he’s watched a million times. He’ll remember that far-ago night in Denver as he watches for the millionth time. And that first Presidential Debate will play on his super-thin TV, and he’ll smile wide from the night he kicked a President’s butt on the International Stage.

He’ll smile wide watching that old debate for the millionth time. And wouldn’t you smile wide if your brightest moment played out in front of 70 million people?

Brian Huba

Friday, November 2, 2012

This Guy's the Worst: Part II

When I was at the NYG’s-Cowboys game last December, there was a Cowboy fan in front, drinking like a fool, celebrating with a dance, gang symbols thrown, the baggy jersey with the big towel over the shoulder, begging for mob justice. A fan behind summed it best: "This guy's the worst," which got me thinking. So I made a list of guys that always make me say, “This guy's the worst.” Read original list here: This is my second list of the guys that make me say, "This guy's the worst."

Guy Who Stands Outside the Bathroom: Have you ever been at work, using the bathroom, and you hear the knob jingle as a co-worker is trying to get in while you’re finishing up? In this case, the understood etiquette is that the person who can’t get in walks away or hits another b-room, right? But this guy instead stands right outside the door, so when you emerge, you have to basically bump chests with him on your way out. If you are a guy who stands outside the bathroom at work and waits, stop ASAP. That guy is the worst.

Guy Who Does Family Things During NFL Sunday: Let me get this straight, you claim to be a diehard NY Jets Fan, or even worse, a diehard Buffalo Bills fan, but during the game, you’re at Gould Orchards with the family? What? You mean you’re following your favorite football team on your I-Phone? I’m sorry, if you are not in front of a TV to watch every single game your favorite team plays, you are not a top-notch fan. You can go to Gould Orchards or the haunted hayride during the Yankees game, of course, because baseball is a snooze fest. But this is the NFL, man. You will not see me at Home Depot this Sunday buying lawn bags during the Giants vs. Steelers game. Count on that.

Guy Who Drives a Subaru: I don't know why this guy bothers me so much. I guess Guy Who Drives a Subaru is just a little too Burlington and box of granola.

Guy Who Does Fantasy Football: I don't know anything about FF, I will admit that, but it is so annoying recapping the weekend's games with this guy because all he ever talks about is how many points Chris Johnson got him or how many points the Eagles Defense cost him, etc. It's just a weird way to root on Sundays, I suppose. For me, the NFL is wanting my favorite team to win, and talking about that on Monday. Not being upset because you're now in third place in your pretend league because of the St. Louis Rams Special Teams.

City Guy: I think we can all agree that NYC is the best place on the Planet, and if you live in NYC, it's pretty awesome. But we all know that guy who references "the City" in almost every social situation. You know, City Guy. You could be talking about anything from sports to favorite TV shows, and this guy will somehow work how he lives in "the City" into the conversation. City Guy is kind of a cousin of the all-time worst guy, Topper Guy. You know Topper, he tops every single story you tell. City Guy is sort of that guy in a lot of ways.

Guy Who Wears Graphic Tees: You’re 37 years old, and you’re wearing a t-shirt that says, “Let the Haters keep on Hating” with a graphic fist punching through a graphic brick? What else are you going to tell me: You’re one of those guys with a tribal-band tattoo around your bicep? This is almost as bad as the 37 year old who wears Hollister or American Eagle sweatshirts. Men, if you’re older than 30 just wear regular clothes that don’t say Hollister in huge letters or have whole story lines depicted on the front in graphic illustration. Regular, plain clothing. You’re a grown man for God’s sake.

Guy Who Puts Inflatables on his Front Yard: Tis the Season. This guy must have no idea how cheesy the inflatable ghost or inflatable Santa Claus looks on his front lawn or he’d take it down today. The thing I hate about the inflatable ghost and/or Santa is how it deflates every day and lays on the lawn like a garbage bag, and every day he has to go outside and blow it back up, only for it to deflate again. It looks cheap, and terrible, and tacky, guy, sorry.

Guy Who Wears Flip Flops at the Office: I can tolerate a man wearing flip flops during the summer in social situations. I never would be caught dead in flip flops. But I’m not going to hate on that guy. But come on, I know it’s Friday, but must you flop around the workplace in beach-ready flip flops? This is a business setting and I can’t imagine anyone is going to take seriously a grown man dressed like he’s in a Beach Boys video. Top that off with a pair of jeans, Hollister sweatshirt, and graphic tee underneath, and you’re ready to be the laughing stock of your office.

And now the worst

Guy Who Complains on Facebook about Hurricane Sandy Missing Cap Reg: I’m so sorry you had to stop off after work on Monday and pick up batteries for nothing. Yeah, you should really be venting about that on your dumb Facebook Page. How could the Albany Weathermen have been SO wrong and put you SO far out? Why are you made to suffer like this? What a waste of twelve dollars. It’s the worst. Oh wait: Have you seen pictures of Queens and New Jersey since Sandy? Do you realize people in the prime of their lives are dead and gone? Do you realize people lost their homes, their cars, their pets, everything! Your unnecessary CVS batteries aside, you should be thanking God these weathermen were cartoonishly off point about Sandy’s trek, stunningly off the mark, really. We got away with murder on this one, Cap Reg, and for that, I am thankful.

See Sandy Pics:

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Brian Huba

Sunday, October 28, 2012

It's Official: Nothing is Sacred Anymore

Justin Timberlake, you are worth $75 million dollars. You just put on a $6.5-million-dollar wedding in Italy, a five-day festival before that, which many of NYC’s homeless and transvestite community apparently couldn’t attend. Read More: But then you feel the need to sell your most intimate wedding-day photos to PEOPLE magazine for $300,000? Really? Justin, do you know that the shot of your first kiss with Jessica Biel is inset opposite a full-page Oscar Meyer Weiner Ad?

Selling the wedding-day photos is something Kim Kardashian does, because she has the shelf life of an opened bag of scallops, and she needs to strike now, of course she does. Wedding-day photos is a Snooki move not Justin Timberlake. JT has been on top for twelve years. He’s an ingrained part of American Pop Culture.

It’s completely cheapens the whole affair, which is a shame because he burned up almost ten percent of his net worth to do it. Why couldn’t they keep it clouded in mystery? Why did JT sell to PEOPLE, the next day nonetheless? I just don’t understand why someone of his stature would cash out for chump change. Was it publicity? JT isn’t a teenie-bopper anymore. He has nothing left to prove. Magazine covers can’t still concern him. I think Justin could’ve been Elvis Presley, he was that good and maybe still is. It’s not looking like he’s going to be Robert Redford, as this acting thing is slowly turning into the Iraq War, SOCIAL NETWORK aside. But he was the best up on that stage. NSYNC was him and four backups. JUSTIFIED was a GREAT album! He made 30 million on one tour alone. He could sing, dance, write tracks, sell albums like the wind, make the girls go “aawwwww.” He could do it all. But it feels like he might’ve given that away too. Maybe he'll come back to it but he is almost 32. Tick tock. 300K? Why? What’s next? The consummation photos to US WEEKLY.

And I’d say the same thing to all the regular folks out there like you, me, and Mitt Romney. When did this whole putting intimate photos on Facebook start? The wedding photos or ultrasound photos on the homepage? Can’t anything stay sacred? What is this need for attention all the time? Does everything need to be Liked or Commented on? It’s your unborn child. It’s your first kiss as a married couple. Keep it for your dearest friends and closest family. If they weren’t invited to be at the wedding then the photo of your first dance isn’t for their consumption.

It's official: Nothing is sacred anymore.

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Brian Huba

Saturday, October 27, 2012


My life as a student didn’t start well. In first & second grade I went to Holy Cross Catholic School in Albany. In first grade Sister King grabbed me by the elbow and threw me across a classroom and into a dividing wall because I came in from recess singing. In second grade the school wanted to flunk me with a B+ average and make my mother pay for me to repeat the grade because of “immaturity.” That was the end of Catholic School. I hated Holy Cross.

The first great teacher I had was Mrs. Marion Rogers in third grade at West Sand Lake Elementary School. She was the first educator to make me believe I was as smart and capable as any student in the room. That year, one of my classmates, Frank Burdick, died when his father’s tractor trailer rolled over and killed him in the passenger seat. That was the last straw for Marion, and at year’s end she decided it was time to retire the chalk, pointing to that tragedy as the trigger. Thank you for showing me THE TRUMPETER & THE SWAN, Mrs. R. I’ll love you til the end of time.

As a sixth grader I had a major crush on my science teacher, Jody Banks. She used to wear these black business skirts that showed her killer legs. One time, on a field trip to Thatcher Park, she posed for a picture with me, and I was in love. She even danced with me at a school dance, the song “Opposites Attract” by Paula Abdul. In the end, she married the assistant principal, Stephen Beebee, and Jody B became Jody BB. I was going to fight Mr. Beebee, of course, he robbed my woman, but in retrospect, I have to say the man had great taste. Thanks for being such a sport, Mrs. Banks. I mean, Mrs. Beebee.

The first great teacher I met in high school was Tom Ladd. My first day as a freshman, when I made a crack from the back of the room, he pointed at me and said, “Hey, I could beat you up.” No teacher had ever spoken to me like that before. I loved Ladd immediately, and still do. I had him all four years. He talked to me about music, he gave me rides home after weight lifting. He liked basketball and went to Duke. A Blue Devil!! He let me call him Johan (Yo-Honn), he let me write goofy articles about him in the school newspaper, and above all I learned in his class, I really learned. When I was a senior I egged Mr. Ladd’s house with a few friends on Halloween, and I lost him forever. I’m sorry, Mr. Ladd, I don’t know why I did that. You’re one of the greatest men I have ever known.

As a sophomore I was lucky enough to be invited into Dr. Monohan’s AP Social Studies. Me? In AP? What has the world come to? I never took a class more seriously than his class. I wrote down every word he said. No funny guy in Dr. M’s room. I wanted to show this brilliant man I belonged. He had a funny way of talking and a doughy face, but my God, he was good. All I wanted to do was impress him. Being in his class is the reason I was able to get through college. When I was a senior at SUNY Albany and working at the Pepsi Arena’s box office, he came to my window to purchase tickets for a concert, sporting his usual pleated slacks, baggy cardigan, and big glasses, and I asked him what his advice was for me. He said, “Simple, be a teacher.”

When I was a senior at AP I was in Theatre Arts Class. The only reason I wanted in there as an elective was to hit on all the hot girls who wanted to be actresses. The T.A. Teacher, Mrs. Debra Baggetta, hated me with a passion. Her sheer loathing of me brought her to take me down the hall to Dan Fairchild’s Journalism Class, and dump me off on Dan the Man, an in-season trade I suppose. She told me she saw a writer in me, someone who’d one day put his thoughts on paper for people to read. I thought it was BS because she wanted to unload me. And she said if I ever published a book I’d have to bring her a signed copy. A promise is a promise.

For half of my final year in high school, I had the honor to learn about life from the last great teacher I ever crossed paths with: Dan Fairchild. A few years later when I attended my cousin’s graduation from Averill Park, Fairchild gave the keynote speech. It was about leaving your tattoo on the world. It was incredible. I still think about his words that day and quote them to people when I can. Last year I saw Fairchild again, and it was like seeing a celebrity. I will forever be a student in his presence.

With the exception of our obvious heroes like Lance Armstrong and A-Rod, nothing is more important than a great teacher. In college I had many "great" professors, but to me, college was a business, and the educators on that level had been hired by me to get me where I needed to go professionally. It’s the public school teachers that change lives and mold people. Nobody is more important. These people are the major players of my development. They saved my life.

But I would be remiss not to mention my fifth grade teacher: Charles H. Viens, known best for putting Simpsons characters on fake money. I did not have an overly-personal connection with him, but he taught me two things I will never forget, and isn't that what a teacher is supposed to do? 1) Morphographs. Basically this means looking at multi-syllable words by breaking them down part by part. Now I can never look at a long word without breaking it down into parts in my mind. Damn you, Viens, why were you so Fan-Tas-Tik? 2) And I think I speak for every student who ever had Mr. Viens, whether that student went on to become a hobo or Harvard Grad, we can all reel off the names of the Solar System’s nine planets from closest to farthest from the Sun. I feel like NOBODY except West Sand Lakers can do that off their head. So for Mr. Viens and all the great teachers I ever had here it goes (I promise I am winging this, no on-line help): Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune & of course Pluto.

Brian Huba

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

He wants the title not the job

After watching the Debates and following the respective campaigns for the last year, I’m left with only one answer: Mitt Romney just "wants" to be President. What do I mean by that? Romney has accomplished everything he’s ever set out to do, and now he has made the decision that he wants to be the world’s #1 guy. So he went to work on it four-five years ago, after McCain put him to pasture. He made his kids marry and have kids, he overhauled his whole life to make a Presidential push. All that is fine, but the problem is he's only worried about being called Mr. President, because wouldn’t that be something for the guys at the golf club to see?

Does anyone think Romney has given a second’s thought to the actual job that would wait if he were to win? His whole game right now is walk the part, talk the part, be the part. Say anything to win, do anything, tweek positions, change positions, flat-out lie, whatever it takes, just win. There’s nothing genuine or planned out about the duties that such a job would call for. An analogy: We all want to be in the NFL or in the NBA, sure we do, what a life, right? The big contract, the TV commercials, the fame, the VIP access. Then when it’s time to actually play the game, Clay Matthews puts you in the fifth row on the first hit, and suddenly being in the NFL isn’t so much fun. You have to actually have the "stuff" to perform on the field. Romney doesn't. He just wants the locker.

Never once has Romney turned off that run-for-the-White House mode long enough to consider there are a million Clay Matthews waiting when you win, all day, every day, with a few rides in Air Force One in between. Yeah, being Prez is aces with the Country Clubbers, and people would salute him when he showed up, but it’s not so much fun when a nuclear war, and poverty, and unemployment, and education, and every other problem knock at the door. And believe me, they'll knock, and knock, and knock, and . . .

My point is Romney just comes off artificial--how can't you see that--like a kid who says he wants to be a rock star. Now imagine that kid has a billion dollars at his disposal. Say anything. Do anything. Flat-out lie. Whatever to win. It’s like running for Washington is a game, the latest thing to throw his wealth and lucky touch at. He isn’t going to dirty his hands with your middle-class problems if elected. He has cuff links worth more than your house. He’d be the $5,000.00-a-plate fundraiser President. The golf-with-the-Prime Minister of England President. Every day I hear people say, “I wish my life was like Kobe Bryant’s” or “Eli Manning’s” or “Brad Pitt’s.” (For the record, I have never heard anyone say that, but you get my point.) Truth is you have no idea the outrageous workload and nonstop grind being one of those guys would be. All you see is the commercials, and cool movies, and red carpets. That life is like an iceberg in the ocean. 99.9% of it is underwater where nobody can see. Being President is that, times a million and a million more.

How can you vote for Romney? Do you understand the mess that turning over this country to another leadership would be at this point? I promise you that Romney would spend the first month in celebration mode. That’s human nature after chasing something for so many years and actually getting it. He wants the title Mr. President. Say anything. Do anything. Just win. He doesn’t want the job. And neither do you. Say what you want about Obama. The man has grayed his hair for this country. And last night, as I watched the debate I saw a President tired of playing this he-said he-said game with a wealthy man whose only idea about being President is how cool that title would look on his nameplate.

This election is a pesky distraction to our President, and in a few weeks, Romney will be a footnote in political history, so move over Mondale and Dukakis. We all dream about running the ball in the big game. But when you catch that sweep right and Clay Matthews comes barreling down at you, foam at the mouth, most of us would rather be home watching, thinking that could be us out there on that field, sure it could.

It’s almost time to go home, Mitt, back to the winter house in wherever and armchair QB Obama for another four years with the rest of us. And trust me, Mitt, it’s better that way, for all of us. Our short, national nightmare is almost over.

Here's why I'm voting Obama. On three major issues: Iraq, General Motors, and Osama bin Laden, Romney was wrong (he agreed with Iraq, wanted to let GM fail, and said killing bin Laden wasn't a priority) and Obama was right. The end.

Say anything. Do anything. Just win.

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Brian Huba

Friday, October 19, 2012

Ten Best Presidents

The political season got me thinking about the Top Commanders in American History. Since I was born in 1776 and was around to see every President in office, I am the foremost source of the following. So, for what it’s worth, this is my list of the Ten Best Presidents Ever.

10. Barack Obama: I think Obama is a pretty good President, and will have a great second term. He was the sitting President when the greatest military capture and kill in American History was made, and that’s worth something. He saved GM and ended the worst war we ever engaged in as a nation. The economy is down, but it will be back. It can’t be easy following the worst President this country has ever known. That's not excuse, it's fact.

9. Thomas Jefferson: Third ever US President is good enough for number eight on this list. From his huge role in the US Revolution to Lewis & Clark and the Louisiana Purchase, to his role as leader of the Enlightenment (whatever that is), Jefferson is a pillar of this nation, one of the greatest Americans ever. Plus his first VP, Aaron Burr, killed a guy (A. Hamilton) in a duel.

8. Teddy Roosevelt: The Cowboy Image that fit America like a twelve-ounce Stetson and the brilliant Harvard mind made Teddy one of the most beloved US leaders ever. Plus, he was only 42 when elected. Considered by many as one of the greatest ever, Teddy is also one of the most recognizable ever. He is a huge part of the American picture, right down to the funny little glasses.

7. JFK: Kennedy brought a promise of hope to this country. He stared down the Russians and the Cubans. Maybe history has been too kind to him, and maybe a bullet to the brain was the best thing that ever happened to his legacy, but he was Camelot and he was a Kennedy, and for that JFK will always be seen as one of the most recognizable US Presidents. And the mystery of his death will rack future generations forever. JFK is like the Tim Tebow of Presidents. When you say why he’s so good, you perhaps mention everything but the actual product. Although, to be fair, he did start the NASA push that put the first man on the Moon, and he did do good work for Civil Rights.

6. Harry Truman: Harry led this country after WWII, another huge time to be alive and American. Hitler was dead, Japan was in ruins, the fighting was done, and the US economy was on the rise. All things considered, this was one of the best times for our young country. And he who wears the Crown gets to reap the benefits of history’s kind hand.

5. George Washington: GW was so long ago he might as well be a myth. And, in my opinion, he probably is far more myth than reality. But he was the first American President, and I suppose that counts for something. He “led” the Americans through the Rev. War, defeating the entire British Army by himself. That's tough stuff. Not bad for a guy with wooden teeth (probably another myth), and married to a woman named Martha, and what's hotter than a woman named Martha?

4. Abe Lincoln: Another President who presided during an oh-so-important period in American History. Many will argue that Lincoln bled this country red to end slavery and save the Union, but that was the only option, and the history of our civilized nation was at risk. While he was President, we were thrust in the deadliest war Americans have ever fought and the only one of two fought on USA soil, and he was shot dead before he got to see the fruits of his labors, but history will remember him second to none. “He belongs to the ages now.”

3. FDR: Although history will debate the real role FDR played in rescuing this country from the Great Depression, he was the President when it happened, so he gets the credit. No man has served longer in Washington than FDR and no first lady is more respected than Eleanor R. Not a bad track record for a guy with Polio. Although with today’s media, we’d never elect a cripple to today’s White House. Wow.

2. Ronald Reagan: The get-rich 80s. Reagan was one of the best and most beloved Presidents ever, and life was pretty good with him in Washington. He turned the troubled economy around and gave Michael Jackson a lot of Humanitarian Awards. Is there any decade more fun than the 80s? Down with Don Henley’s lyric, “this tired old man that we elected king,” and up with Genesis’ “Land of Confusion” video with the play-doo Reagan.

1. Bill Clinton: He was President when America was stronger and better and richer than any nation has ever been in the history of the world. He is a perfect politician, born to be President. In ’92, he came out of nowhere with a saxophone and dethroned Bush the First. His eight years in office was nothing but jobs and good times and money and no war and just everything great. If this country could, we’d vote BC into office for life. “What about Monica and the stained dress?” Um, I could care less about Monica and the stained dress. Clinton, the greatest Commander we have ever had. He was Sinatra and Elvis rolled into one, times ten. Bill was President and his wife is Sec. of State. Now that’s a power couple.

Watch & Read:

Brian Huba

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Is anything sacred anymore?

Lance Armstrong, are you serious? After battling back from “thirteen” forms of cancer to be a Tour de France champion again, and again, and again--albeit in a sport nobody cares about--you were deemed a National Treasure, an inspiration to athletes, cancer patients, children, old women, cats and dogs everywhere. Merely thinking about your heroism made cripples walk again, able-bodied people drop and do fifty pushups on the spot.

And boy oh boy did you suck it for everything it was worth. You never met a camera you turned away from. You were a bicycling Messiah. Beloved. Adored. Sheryl Crowed. But you were cheating the whole time? What? Is anything sacred anymore? How could you trump yourself up like that knowing (knowing!) you were a cheat behind closed doors? And for what? To win your, um, fifteenth Tour de France? So you risked ruining your All-World Image to shave a few minutes off your biking time when you were already the king of biking and could've walked away? Or just competed naturally and still been an inspiration. You had to win it again? Why? Who cares? What’s next? Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny aren’t real? ‘It was the pressure of the sport that forced him.’ The pressure of riding a bike really fast? Get real.

Armstrong AKA Livestrong was bigger than biking. He was bigger than the Big C. He was bigger than Jay-sis. We all know cornballs like A-Rod did drugs. A-Rod is as phony as grown women who wear clothes that say PINK and carry Coach bags. We know that, we don’t care. But Lance, oh man, Lance. And imagine being one of Lance’s teammates doing the drugs with him, looking into his eyes, and knowing what a hypocrite he was, the lie he was living, the hero story he was selling to sick kids and Vince Vaughn’s character in DODGEBALL. Couldn’t he just have said no to that cameo? Watch:

Wow, Lance, how did you sleep at night? How did you visit those hospitals? Was it all about money and fame? If you want to cheat, fine, do it, win your races, but don’t sell yourself as the picture of natural toughness and intestinal fortitude. Did you think this wasn’t going to come out? Oh yeah right, who’s more trustworthy than 148lb guys who wear skintight shorts and ride bicycles for thirty miles at a time? Yeah, those guys are steel traps. How did you put your head on the pillow at night, Lance? Check those test results again, doctor. There had to be some illegal sleeping drugs in his blood. Is anything sacred anymore?

By the way, don't go falling in love with Jamaican Sprinter Usain Bolt too fast either. I think we know how that story ends too.

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Brian Huba

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Happy 72nd, John Lennon

Sometimes I wonder if God is real, and if he did ever send his son Jesus back to earth, the same way the bible says, could the son of God have been John Lennon? Instead of being 'bigger' than 'Jay-sis,' like he once claimed about the Beatles, maybe Lennon himself was, well . . . Before you think of me as one of these guys who has Lennon posters hanging all over the place, and parrots his peace-and-love quotes to everyone, understand that I am not. In fact I’d probably call myself more of a Stones guy than a Beatles guy, and I actually like McCartney’s stuff better than Lennon’s, but I recognize that John Lennon is what he is, the most important musician who has ever lived. And it is a fact that Lennon pretty much levitated above the rest of humanity while he was on earth, everything he touched turned to solid gold, every song, every album, everything. Then one day, in NYC, 1980, some slime ball crawls out of the gutter, and assassinates Lennon for pretty much no reason, killing a man who preached peace and love, and was seemingly touched by the hand of God in everything he did.

After Chapman killed Lennon, he sat down right then and there, outside the Dakota, started reading CATCHER IN THE RYE, almost like he was content to be arrested, as he had succeeded in doing the Devil’s work. In fact, Chapman said to police, after the killing, that he was in some small way the Devil. So if God, and the Devil, and all that stuff’s real, was the death of Lennon a round in the eternal battle of God vs. the Devil? Using a meaningless loser to destroy maybe the greatest human on earth at the time, the most influential even, and certainly the most important figure in all of music history, and what impacts more people on a total scale than music? What cuts through race, creed, country, and language more than music?

If you were God and wanted to employ an outlet to spread your message, wouldn’t it be a singer that touches the entire world? I mean if you think about it, why did this Chapman creep, who never did a thing for anybody, and seemingly had no other reason to live, kill Lennon, a man who has literally touched every person who has ever lived? Why? Just to do it? Just to say he did it? It’s scary if you think about the fact that someone so powerful, and important, and impactful on a universal level could be ended by a complete nobody, who just rots in a jail cell now, his meaningless life interrupted only by this meaningless assassination. It's scary if you think about it. And if you ask me, Lennon's assassination is the saddest in world history. Pointless. Just . . . pointless.

I know a guy who once went fishing with Lennon in '79, well, tried to go. All John wanted to do was relax, cast a few lines, but the media was following their boat, messing up the whole quiet idea. The guy said Lennon was real laid back, a nice guy, but he was what he was. So Lennon apologized, excused himself, and the fishing trip went on without him. The sad side of being a universal icon, I suppose. Too bad.

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Brian Huba
10.9.12 (12.11.11)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Barack will be just fine

My first impression from last night’s debate: Pres. Barack Obama got manhandled by Mitt Romney. But then I took a look at the entire picture, and here’s what I saw.

The debate was centered on Domestic Policy, the broadest and most layered area these candidates will encounter. But honestly, there were only four questions asked/areas discussed during the entire 90-minute exchange: Tax Code, Social Security/Medicare, the Economy, and Education. Nobody denies that Romney can talk Tax Code like the wind. I myself said I would love Mitt to be this country’s CFO. President? Absolutely not. CFO, hired! He’s a billionaire businessman. This was right in his wheel house. He better be able to hit it hard. And Barack’s economy is still struggling, no doubt, easy to attack. But it takes time to recover from the Grand-Canyon-sized hole GW left this country in. It's not an excuse, it's the truth. It should take a generation really. Barack is gonna do it in six years.

Moderator Jim Lehrer, that PBS artifact, ignored the auto-industry recovery, immigration, gay marriage, women’s rights, social programs, just to name a few, all areas that Romney is comically wrong about. Where were they? If Romney is elected he’s going to go after Pro Choice, and that’s important to some people. Going after Pro Choice in 2012? Get real. All I’ve just mentioned: Never even brought up. Am I blaming the moderator? Yeah, I guess I kind of am. He got run over, and didn’t delve nearly deep enough. Maybe if we had had more than four questions to take on, the end result would’ve been a bit different.

And now the obvious reason why Romney came off so well last night: For the past four years Romney has been doing bare-knuckle pushups under a dart board with Obama’s face on the bull’s eye. I think he made his sons marry and conceive so that they’d have wives and kids in time to take the Convention Stage and look like the All-American family. He’s lived and breathed this White House run since 2008. He’s been like Mr. T training for Rocky in that dirty, dingy gym. Translation: His whole life was led up to that debate. As for Obama: I don’t think he even knew who Romney was until a week ago. He’s been busy, um, running the country. I heard that’s a time-consuming job, and it doesn’t even pay well. The truth: Mitt Romney has tried to sell himself as authentic, a get-your-hands-dirty guy. But if you can’t see the phoniness on him from a mile away, I don’t know what you’re watching. He can’t be President. He won’t be President.

Don’t get me wrong: My hat’s off to Mitt. There were times last night he looked downright Presidential, while Barack looked like a little boy being scolded. Mitt has had zero support from the Republican Party, and at the Convention in Florida, the GOP powers were busy pumping themselves up for 2016 rather than having Romney’s back. Considering all that, the kid came out swinging, and Barack just wasn’t all-the-way ready for it. I grant you that. But, you don't think Barack could've brought up Romney's 47% comment? He could've. He didn't. We all know the truth.

Take this from a NY Giants fan, who saw his team 7-7 after fifteen weeks last season, the season they won the Super Bowl. It only matters how you finish, so let’s not overreact off last night. It was what it was: one debate. In the end, Barack will finish first, by a long shot, I swear he will.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot, look at the history. With the exception of Clinton in '96 (who could beat God in a debate), the sitting President always loses the first debate. Don't worry, Dems, Barack is good to go for another four, and I still say his second term will be historically great.

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Brian Huba

Sunday, September 30, 2012

When did this start?

When did this start:

On Friday afternoon I was at the Planet Fitness in Clifton Park. I was on the elliptical a few feet from the front desk. The twenty-something woman working the counter (and all she was doing) was nothing less than a jaw-dropping watch while I worked out.

I’m guessing she was about 22 years old, very tall, very attractive, but seemingly not interested in grabbing the gym’s employee of the month. As people came in to swipe their ID cards at the desk, they were made to wait several seconds if not minutes as this young woman finished her text messaging or cell-phone call. The whole time I was there she was glued to this phone like a drone. Then she decides it’s time to eat, and microwaves something that stank like old Chinese food and dirty socks. Um, this is a gym, honey, people are sweating it out. The nuked-garbage smell washed over the place like a tsunami, and she ate this foul-smelling grub, eyes on the cell phone, oblivious to anything around her, including the people waiting to get swiped.

How in-your-face unprofessional does it get? When did this start? All I ever hear is how nobody can find jobs, there’s no work, etc, but so often I see people lazy, unprofessional, and abusive of the work they’ve been given. I get it: the Planet Fitness counter isn’t a job in the West Wing. But you’ve got to start somewhere. That’s how success happens. The gym was full of members, could’ve been lawyers, doctors, business owners. I met the guy who kickstarted my career when I was washing cars at Hoffman. That's how it goes. She was so mindlessly locked on that phone, just shoveling Chinese food down her throat. It was awful. She has a great look, the kind that can open doors for her with people. But that entitlement combined with a comical work ethic isn’t going to go anywhere. People are always watching. Don't believe me? Bet this young woman has no idea I was watching and wrote about her here and now. Trust me, this wasn’t a onetime thing, I’ve seen her that unprofessional several times before. When did this start?

When did this start:

When did auto/life/home insurance company commercials become so darn witty and involved? From the Geico gecko, the cavemen boys, the Farmer’s Insurance team, and our fair-faced Flo, just to name a few, these commercials have become a bonanza of Barnum & Bailey’s circus characters, involved in arching stories that have inciting incidents, climaxes, and resolutions, all the while beating us over the head with “Fiddler on the Roof” witticisms. I literally cannot even follow half these insurance commercials. They have gone so far over the top. When did this start?

I watched a Geico gecko spot today where he runs into the Road Runner and that cartoon character that chases him in all those old cartoons. Then an ACME vault falls on that thing that chases the Runner, and the gecko says, “strange place,” and it ends. Um, what? That was an insurance commercial?

But they’re all like that now. It’s just thirty seconds of post-graduate, Silicon-Valley wit that has nothing to do with insurance. It’s getting entirely out of control. Just sell insurance at the lowest price, guys, and leave the character performances aside. When did this start?

When did this start:

I was watching a story on YNN yesterday about frat parties at Union. It seems that the school has decided to get directly involved, on a bureaucratic level, with the weekend activities of their student body. Of course it’s a “good” idea to regulate people at that young age, and it’s "important" to create a safe community, and it reads like a PR dream to parents, but when did this start? Isn’t partying and going to frats kind a rite of passage for college kids? I know I was the first to call for huge U Albany response after that St. Pat's mess on Hudson Ave a few years back. But this isn't that.

I don’t remember--when I was in college--school bureaucrats being so involved with what happened on the weekends in the bars or the frat houses. I remember foam parties, and fifty-cent nights, and Halloween blowouts at frats. Now there are rules, and periodical checks, and paperwork, and oh my God. Maybe this is the right approach by schools. It’s just this hyper-sized PR presence in all societal things now. One girl gets too drunk in Texas, cancel drinking in every college in the country. It’s like buttering your bread with a machete. It’s a good thought, I admit that, but there are some things in life that don’t work with a bureaucratic partnership.

College is the transition into adulthood where young people find their individuality and prepare to make a career, and one need not look further than the idiot fest on Hudson Ave to know college kids can be knuckleheads in a major way. But college is also Spring Break trips and twelve people packed in a cab on a Friday night. It is that too. And I don't remember school officials on my Spring Break plane or SUNY security personnel sitting with us in our Friday night cab. When did this start?

Brian Huba

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Stop and Smell the Roses

A text from my lifelong friend, John, on Thursday night while I was watching the Giants game: "Crazy, next week u will b Dave's age."

I’m about to turn 33. When I was 20 years old, my uncle, Dave Barden, was 32, and in October he was diagnosed with lymphoma. It was a horrible time in the history of our family. I worked with him every day at Orange Ford in Albany. He was a mentor to me. I connected with him like no other. Which meant I had to sit front row for the whole thing, ten feet away as he faded from the world. When my friends were away at college, I was in an attic office seeing what death looked like when it’s still upright and walking, learning WAY too soon the ugly side of life. That fall, the chemo started, the hair fell away, along with the body weight and energy, and I had no idea how this was going to end, but I hoped against hope.

When he came to our family house on Christmas, and my mother saw him for the first time since Thanksgiving, she insisted that we take a family picture, she demanded it, because she knew this was it, this was the final Christmas for Dave. He watched the Millennium from a hospital bed. Then, on March 3, 2000, he went into Albany Med and never came out. He died on March 21, 2000. He was 33 years old. That final Christmas picture still hangs in my mother’s house, and there’s Dave in a denim shirt and baseball hat, eyes empty, skin translucent, four months from the end.

I slipped into a yearlong depression after his death. I lost my job, didn't go to school. I woke up at noon, sat in a dark apartment all day, then dreamed of him at night. The concept of the dream was always the same: He came to me and said he wasn’t really dead, and I had to tell him that he did in fact die, and could never come back. I must’ve dreamed some variation of that dream a million times. One time I dreamed he told me to go to his camel-colored suit coat and search the pocket. I went to my aunt’s house, searched the coat, and found a dollar bill with the word Lazarus written all over it in blue pen. Lazarus, the biblical leper who died then came back to life. That’s what the dollar bill said around the side, “Lazarus” Lazarus” “Lazarus.” That sadness went on. But soon I realized I had to put my life back together. Had I learned nothing from Dave’s death? Life was short. I had to live it. So I did.

I earned a B.A. then a Master’s at St. Rose. I got a girlfriend when I was twenty-four, learned that you brushed your teeth BEFORE using the mouth wash. I exercised like a mad man, eight days a week and twice on Tuesday. I lived fast and never let up on anything. There was no time. When I got my degrees, I took jobs sixty, seventy miles from Albany, whatever it took to keep my professional life moving. Have to work. There wasn’t time to stop and smell the roses. Have to build it now! Hadn’t I learned anything from Dave’s death? But still I lived with this dark cloud overhead. That my clock was tick tocking like his was. So I was working twice as hard as everyone, but was still so far behind. I couldn’t keep ahead. I took jobs, lost them. Bought cars, crashed them. Saved money, lost it.

Then I met my wife and got married (believe me, it wasn't that quick of a process). And all that darkness went away. She is the only good thing that has ever happened to me in my entire life. And all the success I have ever had is with her. We grew together, bought a house, helped each other, everything that I always heard life could be but never saw myself. But still, I dream of Dave, always dream he’s not really dead but he is. And as I approach my 33rd birthday, the root of what I am, what I might really be, is tugging at me again, harder than it has in years. And despite all the positive change in my life over the last thirteen years, I’m still quasi convinced that I’m somehow linked with Dave on a level I can’t understand, and 33 is destined to be my end too. Will I outlive Dave? Will I now be the older man when I dream of him? It doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t seem possible.

A few weeks back, a radiating pain in my chest and down my left arm brought me awake in the middle of the night, snapped me up from another Dave dream, and I knew instantly that I was having a heart attack, and I was going to die right there in that bed. There was no time to call for help or drive to the hospital. The pain was crippling and constant. Despite my clean EKGs and perfect blood tests, I was going to die at 32 and eleven months, and hadn’t I sort of known that since I was 20? My wife was asleep next to me. I didn’t wake her. I was alone with this, alone with Dave now. I lay in that bed at 3AM, begged for my life. I wasn’t ready to die yet. I wanted kids, gray hair, arthritis, all those things Dave never had himself.

I did not die that night. My first experience with Heart Burn. But now it’s almost October and I’m 32, and it’s a place in my life I’ve feared for the last thirteen years. But I have to tell myself I’m not Dave. His destiny is not my destiny, and my road will not end at 33. I’m only in the beginning of my life, and there’s much left. And in the end, I’ll have that gray hair and all that arthritis, and a whole family around me as I grow old, all the things that Dave never had himself. But maybe he helped me find it, maybe that’s the cosmic link between us. Maybe it's life not death that binds us.

And when I dream my Dave dreams now, I’ll be the older man and he’ll be the younger, a once-impossible dynamic in my mind, and when he tries to convince me he’s not dead, like he always does, I won’t say “yes, you are dead,” I’ll say, “As long as I’m alive, Dave, you’ll be alive too.” And as I write this, on my wall hangs a picture of Dave at 27. He's young and his head is full of hair. He stands behind a Rusty Wallace car on the Orange Ford lot, and he smiles. As long as I'm alive, he'll be alive. Lazarus, see? Maybe that's what he's been trying to tell me all along. Maybe he's been telling me to stop and smell the roses.

Brian Huba