Saturday, September 28, 2013

True Drue

When I saw the TU headline yesterday--RECKLESS, DISTRACTED, DRUNK--I was in shock. I don’t understand why Dennis Drue all of a sudden decided to roll over and admit guilt on EVERY SINGLE count in regards to the Northway Crash that killed Chris Stewart and Deanna Rivers last December. Honestly, I thought he had a terrific chance of beating many of the felonies against him, if not all.

Let me preface by restating how gut-wrenching this deadly crash was for Clifton Park and the Shen Community, my community. Whenever a young life is lost, any young life, it’s unspeakably sad. There is nothing worse. My heart bleeds for the families involved. With that said, I have never thought they (these families) had a homerun case against Drue. I liked the DA’s chances even less when Drue brought Steve Coffey aboard. Coffey Esquire promised that Drue would walk out of this a free man, NOT guilty on all 58 charges, and man oh man, did I believe him. The burden of proof was just too much. How could anyone “definitively” say exactly what happened that December night on the Northway? Even if Drue had been drinking, doing drugs, driving like Dale Earnhardt, all media fabrications in my opinion, there was no way he’d be found guilty across the board, because there’s no “solid” proof he caused the crash.

In my opinion, the media has been highly unfair and biased against Dennis Drue. The victims were built up like high school All-Americans, amazing in every way, and maybe they were, while Drue was depicted as a dark, shadowy criminal, with an ugly driving record and substance problems. It was completely over the top. Then the TU reports on the callous bullying of Bailey Wind, the passenger who transformed her tragedy into Social-Media Gold. Read more:

Wind's latest nugget: "5 to 15 years doesn't bring my god damn boyfriend and best friend back #restinpeace." Gold, Bailey, Gold!

Coffey said potentially "overwhelming" evidence influenced Drue's decision, as did "the fact that we had to try this up in Saratoga County." Look at the second part of the quote and you’ll have your answer. That’s why Coffey took this deal, I guarantee it. A Saratoga County Jury would’ve pig-roasted this kid. Half of them would’ve shipped him downstate while wearing a "Shen Must Mend" t-shirt. There was no way he was getting a fair trial here. But I still think he should’ve fought. Who hires Steve Coffey then just backs down without a trial? Why? Because the damning evidence might come out? Who cares? Channel 6 News has already turned Drue into Scott OJ Simpson Peterson. Watch this and tell me I'm wrong: You call that a balanced reporting of facts? So I say to hell with the ugly dets at this juncture. For Drue’s part, he spoke to no one, never broke character as the media cut a machete through his life. For that reason alone, I thought he’d potentially walk.

"When you combine the alcohol, the (marijuana), the texting, the speeding and all of those things combined," Saratoga County DA Murphy said, "it is no doubt that something like this was going to happen. As a result we had four completely innocent kids suffer unspeakable consequences." This quote pretty much sums up why the Capital Region has become so convinced that Drue's a stone-cold killer. The drinking? Turns out the DA had witnesses who say that Drue was drinking "heavily" at KOTO, and they were so concerned they asked if he had a DD, even though they were strangers. We’re sure that actually happened? This isn’t just a few jerks who all of a sudden remember everything from that night, now looking for five minutes of fame? Where were they last Dec.? Let’s look at the marijuana part. On the surface, that quote suggests that Drue was doing drugs on the night in question, it’s meant to make you think that. Nope, he wasn’t. The texting? Suddenly the Saratoga’s DA has produced another cloak-and-dagger witness that claims he/she was texting with Drue before the accident. Really?

Truth is they HAD to get this kid behind bars. He’d shattered the Shen Community and the pressure to put him away was overwhelming. The media was best friend in this pursuit. I think Drue was “kind of” railroaded here. He should’ve had his shot in court.

Murphy said he believed the denial of the request for a venue change was among the factors that led Drue to plead guilty. Murphy said he was prepared to go to trial and was somewhat shocked to learn of Drue's decision. On Friday, in a cracking voice, Drue repeated the word "guilty" to the series of charges. Then he and his high-priced lawyer left the courtroom, with Drue looking at 5-15 years in prison, life over. The Prosecutors are gonna cut his heart out. He's getting the full 15. And I don’t mean RCJ or ACJ. I’m talking Dannemora, Sing-Sing. Who just rolls over and takes that deal at 22 years old?

You don’t draft Peyton Manning to establish the running game and you don’t hire Steve Coffey to cave on the eve of your life-saving trail. Am I saying something else is going on here? Am I saying the kid was somehow, someway strong armed into quitting before the big game? I don’t know what I’m saying. This kid gave his life away without throwing a single punch.

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Brian Huba

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Darkness Before Dawn

In 2000 my uncle Dave died of cancer. He was 33. From that I had a real fear of turning 33 myself.

Dateline September 2012: A shot of severe chest pain at 3 am, a few nights before my 33rd. I thought it was a coronary. I had always known this, hadn’t I? This was where the wagon would derail. But it was only my first experience with heartburn. Read more: I survived that night, turned 33, and the first six months of said year were great. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I was silly for living in fear of a number, an age, a time. We were ready to start a family, a life. It was my time to shine. Then it all went the other way.

Once I read about a religion/belief system that said we chart out our lives before we live them, and as we exist, we know where the road is going. That’s what deja vous is, this religion argues. We haven’t been there before; we’re going there in the future. Somewhere deep in our being, we know our destiny, because we planned it out, pre-birth. I don’t know if that’s true. But something always told me 33 would be a bad one. I had no idea how right I was.

The feared slide of 33 started Easter Sunday. My wife found something (seemingly benign) on her body, and two weeks later, received the most-dreaded diagnosis a woman could hear. Read more: The world went instantly dark. Plans to make a family: Done. It was a stunning turn of events. I thought we'd be special, world killers, now it was trying to stay alive, intact. We forged ahead, fought, took hold of the horrible situation, just in time to find out our dog, Sophie, had been diagnosed with cancer: Mast-cell tumor. She had to undergo surgery and was quickly declared cancer free: Read more: That's when we started praying nightly.

People talk all the time about the power of positive thought. Maybe it’s the same way with negative thought. Maybe because I had always feared 33 with such vigor, I created the horror that came halfway through. Maybe all this disaster was my fault.

Then the real nightmare started. I was sitting outside the Rensselaer Train Station, there to pick up my wife, coming back from treatment, when my sister called to tell me that my oldest friend, Chris Premo, had been in an accident, and it’s “bad.” The next five days: Hell itself, ending with Chris’s shocking death on July 29th. Read more: I was 33. The ship was sinking. No end in sight. What could happen next?

Funny you should ask. My aunt’s fiancĂ© was diagnosed with cancer, and I was diagnosed with bradycardia. It’s been nonstop, never ending this year. And I didn’t even mention the death of James Gandolfini. Read more: As I write this, the Giants are working on 0&3. When I was 33. It was NOT a very good year.

Everything happens for a reason, I believe that. Maybe I can’t read the writing on the wall right now, but someday I’ll understand why this avalanche of sadness rolled over my life at this time. I will recognize how it was a gateway to good. That’s my mentality as I move towards 34.

Yesterday I was mowing the lawn. I went past the house, turned around, and started back towards the front door once more. I love mowing the lawn, seeing the tall grass cut down, the property made clean, one blade at a time. When you start the lawn, the yard’s an unkempt mess, out of control perhaps, and when you finish, it looks great. As I pushed the machine towards the front door, I saw my wife sitting on the stair, watching me. In the window behind her, all three dogs sat, looking out, tails wagging. She smiled, waved. I smiled, waved back. And that’s when I knew everything would be all right. We’re alive, and as long as we're alive, there's hope. Read more:

Brian Huba

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Twerking Girl

Saturday Night Live leaked its hosts for the first three episodes. Tina Fey will start things off, followed by Twerking Girl Miley Cyrus, then Bruce Willis. Like Meatloaf once said, “two out of three ain’t bad.”

I’m a smidge disappointed that SNL would reward Cyrus’s late-summer slutathon, using such a flimsy platform to launch the retooled cast. Across the board, I don’t understand why Cyrus is getting epic attention for making a fool of herself on an irrelevant awards show. She can’t sing, can’t dance, can’t perform, so she decides to stick her tongue out and dry hump a stage for six minutes, and it projectiles her career? Compared to Cyus, Justin Bieber's Stevie Wonder. But she “twerked” in a flesh-colored bikini so her songs shoot to the top of I-tunes, her CD sales rocket, her face plasters the cover of every magazine? Then SNL comes calling? Is cheap shock value really this powerful? What’s next? One Direction makes soft porn, wins a lifetime achievement?

Lorne Michaels has put his rookie cast on a suicide mission. Do you understand how hard these newbies are going to have to work to cover over Cyrus’s non-existent chops? Remember when Lindsay Lohan took a stab at hosting last season (maybe the season before)? She was making her big “comeback” and Michaels installed her on the heels of all that hallow attention. There are legendary stories of the cast making commercial-break rewrites to sketches. Why? Lohan couldn't get three lines out. Lohan was a train wreck. And that was a well-oiled team (Hader, Sudeikis, Myers, etc). Lohan's Meryl Streep compared to Cyrus.

How can someone as seasoned as Lorne Michaels buy this five-minute bounce, again? Is it really about ratings in SNL’s 700th season? OK, the whole country will watch, sure we will, and we’ll go to bed thinking SNL's in the crapper. This is too big a platform to showcase Hannah Montana. "But, Brian, they're gonna make fun of Miley all night. It'll be hilarious." I don't care about Miley Cyrus. I don't want to spend a whole show on her. I want primetime presence.

And the worst part is I was looking forward to the new SNL cast. The least Michaels could do is fill the first month with established talent at host, give these comedic kids a real chance to win America. I just didn’t realize that twerking and tongue lapping qualified someone for that job.

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Brian Huba

Sunday, September 8, 2013

In With the Old

Fall is an exciting time for entertainment. The NFL Season is underway, the new TV schedule is rolled out, people are back at work across the board. I’m looking forward to BOARDWALK EMPIRE, SONS OF ANARCHY, and HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER’s final run. I'm on board for Michael J. Fox’s return to sitcom TV. His last stint, SPIN CITY, earned him two Emmys in two years, cut short by his diagnosis. Now the Parkinson’s will be put on center stage. The new show seems to be a reality/sitcom hybrid. I'm in.

When I was a little kid I used to pretend I was Michael J. Fox, Marty McFly from BACK TO THE FUTURE to be exact. I'd deliver, to nobody in particular, dialogue lines from the movie out of the blue, which came off kind of weird on the playground. I rocked a puffy vest and skate board even though I couldn't skate to save my life, over-practiced that exasperated expression Fox perpetually wore in the movie. I was all-the-way Fox until the BATMAN movie came out, then I was the Joker. Don’t ask. Years later, I saw Michael J. Fox in real life. He was crossing a street on Martha’s Vineyard. He was super short. As long as you’re ready for a lot of eighties-sitcom moves i.e. sliding across counter tops for no reason, the new MJF might be worth checking out.

In music, Eminem is putting a new CD out. He calls it a “revisit” of the MARSHALL MATHERS LP. I used to love Eminem. I’m not looking forward to this incarnation. I'm further disinterested after watching the interview Em gave in the broadcasters booth during the Notre Dame/Michigan game last night. At 41 years old, I’m not sure he can pull off this Slim Shady routine anew, but, my God, he’s evidently gonna try. Watch a brief clip here:

It’s the same bleached hair, baggy jeans, oversized jacket. The interview was squirmy and uncomfortable to watch. I was reminded of Em’s famous diss of Mark Wahlberg on MTV’s TRL in '99. Watch here: Maybe Eminem was cool when I was 23. Not cool at 33. Everything he did after 2002 sucks. When he said, “Oops my CD just skipped, and everyone heard you let one rip,” I was done with Slim Shady. I recently deleted his station off my Pandora. Even the stuff I once loved (The Real Slim Shady, The Way I Am, Stan), can't stand any of it now.

It seems like he’s going to put out a whole new batch of songs that insult other celebrities, slanders his low-class family. Been there. Done that. All I've heard about his only-released single is that he “disses” Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom. Ugh. Maybe all that “dissing” was cool in the late 90s-early 2000s. I don’t think it works again. People aren’t into that anymore, are they?

I would’ve preferred to see Eminem change with the times. See Justin Timberlake for that. At the end of the day, you have to treat people with respect or you get forgotten real fast, regardless of talent. Shock value has a short shelf life. Wahlberg called Eminem a punk ten years ago. Now Wahlberg is one of our finest actors, and Marshall Mathers is a 41 year old with bleached hair and baggy jeans.

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Brian Huba

Sunday, September 1, 2013

It's Just a Fantasy

For the first time, I don’t know if I’m "really" ready for some football. I’ve spent the month trying to figure my lack of enthusiasm here, and think I might’ve come up with it. Seems to me the new wave of NFL marketing/PR is targeting a guy I like to call "Fantasy Guy." Now we all know there are about 800 commercial breaks in any given game, which makes watching them on TV tough, and watching them live really tough. And it seems like the theme of said commercial blitz is aimed at the guy in his late 20s-late 30s, white-collar, kind of techy, does a lot with his I-Phone, and devotes his foremost allegiance to his Fantasy Football Roster. That's not who I am as an NFL fan. That's not me.

You see this guy in the beer commercials, chips commercials, soda commercials. He’s watching the game with a group of good-looking co-eds, everybody has an I-Phone in hand. Let me tell you about this guy in the real world: He started watching pro ball a few years ago, he doesn’t really "know" the game or really "love" it, but he’s routinely telling you how well his Fantasy-Drafted players are performing. You invite him over to watch Dallas vs. NY Giants, a heated, historic NFC East Rivalry, and he’s rooting for, um, both teams, because he has Cowboys and Giants on his Fantasy Roster. I'm sorry, that's not Cowboys/Giants. Fantasy Football’s ruining the real thing.

The guys I talk NY Giants with know the team inside and out, have been watching Big Blue since grade school, can tell you the starting offensive line for the 1990 Super Bowl Team, Phil Simms’s historic performance in the ’86 game. We follow every aspect of OUR team, suffer weeklong depressions when they lose, left only to analyze the bad pass Eli made or why Coughlin punted on that key 4th & 1. We debate team history and most playoff wins, and most fourth-qtr. comeback wins, etc. We love this team, love this coach, love it all, and, well, hate it all. It's an emotional "all-in." As a fan, I like the admittedly-silly idea of "your" team vs. "ours," your city vs. ours, your coach/QB vs. ours. It’s beer and bad food, and we "gotta" have this win. That’s how football’s been my whole life. “Eagles suck!” no “Giants suck!” then bragging rights on Monday morning, sweet-sweet bragging rights. It's threatening to cancel Christmas if the Giants lost to the Jets on X-Mas Eve then tearing up when Coughlin limped to center field to shake Rex Ryan's hand after knocking his big-mouth bunch from the playoffs. It's watching the Giants win the NFC East one week later from the nosebleed seats in the snow and freezing rain, seeing God himself when Coughlin's face filled that jumbo-tron, addressing the media at the podium. I saw God that night. His name was Thomas Richard Coughlin. You can have your Fantasy Team.

I can't count the number of times I got beat up on the bus by 49ers fans when the Giants won. Then Montana retired and Aikman emerged, and those 49ers fans became Cowboys fans, and I got beat up anew. As long as the Giants won, I took my thumping with a smile. Or the night I came home from school and my father was already stretching dough for the perfect pizza he'd make that Monday night as we watched Giants/49ers, a game the G-Men would lose 7-3 then avenge in the NFC Championship. That's football. Now it’s office Fantasy Drafts, downloading game clips to your Droid, texting today’s MVP to *4678. Nah.

Maybe I’m not progressing with the times or technology, but to me, the whole Fantasy thing is sort of pointless, and it’s redirecting the NFL passion in a bad way. It’s less and less about lifers in front of that TV on Sundays. It’s less and less about Cowboy Week, Redskin Week, fan bases called the Black Hole, the Dog Pound. What can I say? I’m just not into the Fantasy craze. I still prefer the real thing.

On that note, here are some of my predictions for the "real" NFL Season.

AFC Championship: Houston over Denver
NFC Championship: Atlanta over Dallas

Super Bowl: Atlanta over Houston
SB MVP: Matt Ryan/Atlanta

Reg. Season MVP: Peyton Manning/Denver
Top-Ranked QB: Andrew Luck/Indy
Top-Ranked Rusher: Adrian Peterson/Minn
Top-Ranked Receiver: Julio Jones/Hot-lanta

Big Step Back: RG3/Wash, Russell Wilson/SEA, Colin Kaepernick/SF

Surprise Playoff Teams: Kansas City, St. Louis, Miami, Chicago
Surprise Teams MISSING the Playoffs: San Fran, Seattle, New England, Baltimore

Best Team Record: Denver 13-3
Worst Team Record: Philly 3-13

Coach of the Year: Marc Trestman/Chicago
Coaching Last Stands: Rex Ryan/NYJ, Dennis Allen/OAK, Jim Schwartz/Detroit

Breakout Player: David Wilson/NYG
Overhyped Player: RG3/Wash OF COURSE

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Brian Huba