53 Hours In The City Of Angels

Sometimes things turn out right. I remember at college often listening to “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones and thinking – yeah, things seem to turn out ok in the end. Now, I know that for some people things are shit. I’ve had my shit times, I guess I’m just a glass-half-full type of person most of the time. This last weekend was one of those times where over the last year things seemed to work against me some of the time but I ended up being fortunate. Let’s just make one thing clear though – I do not believe in karma or any such “the universe owes me bullshit”. All of this is the result of random happenings and any other such thoughts are pure folly. For the last weekend to happen to me, my niece had to have some rough times, but things are looking good for her now and I’m glad.

On Saturday I flew from LHR to LAX. The flight left around 1000 hours and eleven hours later landed at around 1300 hours local. The reason for this long flight was to meet the rest of the Fulham Five as we were going to have the [almost] ultimate Superbowl party. You see the story starts thirty years ago with a bunch of students watching the 1992 Superbowl in university halls. There were drunk promises to do this sometime in the future at a real Superbowl. This was the year it happened. This year also happens to be close to the half century celebrations for us all too. It seemed fitting for us to travel to be together.

The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon

I was collected from LAX by the guys in their Dodge Ram hired tanker and we headed to the LA Convention Center for the Superbowl experience. My fine for turning up to the party a day late was to wear a Britney Spears t-shirt, it could have been worse. At least I stood out among the NFL fans. Parking turns out to be reasonably tricky in the centre of LA, more so when you need half a block just to U-Turn the vehicle you are in! Beer. We wandered around the convention centre looking at the experience and taking photos. The shop was impressively big but, also at the same time, remarkably hard to find! There were lots of activities to take part in but queuing isn’t really the thing you want to do, so we chatted and wandered.

Beers In LA - The Theme Of The Weekend
Beers In LA – The Theme Of The Weekend

We then headed to the apartments in Marina Del Rey. Dinner was booked for 2000 and so there were deadlines to try and make through the weekend. A quick freshen up and change of clothes and we headed via Uber to Santa Monica and Del Frisco’s Grill. Dinner was nice and we discussed three times over what actually makes sport – sport. I don’t think we decided on an answer but that doesn’t matter I’m sure there’ll be other times when we can try and get a decent definition completed. The pier was then calling but the answer was very much a -NO – as it closed about ten minutes before we finished our dinner. By this time I had been up for a day and a half so I was kinda glad it was time to head back to the apartments and sleep. A slight aside is that Santa Monica Pier is the start of Route 66 so maybe someday I’ll have to drive the lot? or at least visit the other end of the road.

Sunday, SUPERBOWL SUNDAY, started with being surprised I actually slept around five hours and didn’t wake at three in the morning. There was definitely sunlight outside when I finally decided it was time to wake. Jase went for a swim in the Pacific and I paddled. We had a nice walk along to the marina breakers and watched some impressive sky writing. I knew that as long as I kept my caffeine levels high enough I should be good for most of the weekend and so I just kept drinking coffee. Turns out there’s quite a bit of helicopter action along the beach, not sure why, I tried not to answer questions that seemed a lot of effort. Breakfast was somewhere on W Washington Blvd, I’m not sure where, I just spent most of the weekend following and not making decisions – it’s nice to have a break from all that grown up stuff – thanks Mazz for being Dad.

Marina Del Rey By Night
Marina Del Rey By Night

Ades and I took the other three to the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood and then returned to Venice to find somewhere for us to watch the match. I had previously decided I would cheer for the Rams because Jase supports the Bengals but I knew that secretly I wanted the Bengals to win. I honestly didn’t mind who, it was amazing and coincidental that it was two of our teams that had made it to the World Championships. Adrian and I found the Venice Whaler and queued for a short while to get into their Superbowl party. Honestly this is where things can become a little blurry so the order of the following things might not follow an increasing time reference.

The bar was definitely very full of Rams fans and so we decided to cheer everything for the Bengals. There’s no point trying to endear ourselves to our ex-colony. When the Bengals ran on to the stadium Ades and I cheered loudly. The rest of the bar went quiet and a big guy called us out for not knowing anything about NFL. He chilled shortly later but it was funny. We ate a little food but mostly we seemed to drink. We did tequila shots with some people over from Wales, called and Aussie a cunt quite a bit and generally had an amazing time. I think we chatted to an American woman who claimed to be a scouser but I’m reasonably convinced she was slightly crazy. After the match the three who could afford tickets to the real game arrived and we chatted and had a good time.

Pacific Paddling
Pacific Paddling

I think Jase and I walked back to our apartment and slept, soundly. Monday started with another walk along the beach and a paddle. We saw dolphins from Venice Pier and I promised Jase that I wouldn’t propose to him. Happy Birthday Rich. Later we were picked up by Jase’s American dad and had lunch at Tony P’s dockside grill with his US family members. I had a quite large pasta dish. There’s never really the need to worry about a food order being enough to fill you in this country. After this it was time to head to LAX and think about the administration of the journey home. Jase blagged me into the business lounge and many chocolate brownies were eaten. We both avoided alcohol as there does come a point when you need to stop and start to get the liver and kidneys cleaning you out. The flight home was only nine hours and I managed to sleep for a fair bit of it.

This Bird Took Me Home
This Bird Took Me Home

This trip has been thirty years in the making and was a weekend of such relaxed fun I can’t think of anything I’d rather do. The relaxation that comes with being with close friends who you’ve known for thirty years even if you haven’t seen them for a few years is impressive. It was like we were all mentally nineteen again and just having a great time. I was very obviously the oldest person in the Venice Whaler for most of Sunday though. Not that I care. I had a great time.

How It Started - The Early 90s
How It Started – The Early 90s
How It's Going - 2022
How It’s Going – 2022

This is communication number 2009. I should be writing stuff below this explaining some things that happened in that year. But, I shan’t sully this communication with irrelevant details.

The World Championships

I’ve been meaning to write something about the NFL on here for a long time. I love American Football and I know that a lot of UK people don’t really get it. They say stuff like “but you’re allowed to throw the ball” and “watch rugby it’s not for girls in pads”, you know things like that. I’m also a bit of a stickler for being correct in language and so when people ask me about football I ask them which code. This doesn’t not normally end well because I use the term “soccer” for Association Football and that in generally disliked in the UK. I mean, it’s the most correct term for that particular game but you know British people! When I’m not at a live match I watch the NFL using their Gamepass App.

Sidenote: I dislike the term App. I think you’ll find the thing is a program or Application or Executable file but “App” seems lazy. This is similar to my dislike of the term “folder” for a directory but I’m old and the world moves on.

Gamepass on a browser, on iOS and PS4 works really well. By really well I mean it works. There are some silly things which you would have thought a massive organisation would have fixed like which PS4 buttons can be used for fast-forward etc. But, once you accept some of the basic issues the app seems to do what I want. The Android version though is a piece of shit. There is no option on the Android platform to hide the finals scores of matches. WHO WANTS TO KNOW THE SCORE BEFORE YOU WATCH A MATCH? If I know the result of a match I can’t watch it. The match is spoilt. If I want to watch a match using my [quite expensive] Android TV box then I have to hold my hands up in front of my eyes as I browse the matches hoping that I cover the part of the screen where the scores appear. I tend to use the PS4 instead because I don’t have to blind myself.

At the end of each broadcast there is a warning from the NFL declaring that any use of the imagery and descriptions thereof is a breach of copyright or something like that and so this really made me want to get permission to write about something I had watched on Gamepass. I wrote to the NFL and I got a load of legal waffle back which, I think, says that I can write about things I have watched online as long as it’s not for profit. This little site is definitely not for profit and so I am going to write a little and risk the wrath of the NFL.

“You may use the Services and the contents contained in the Services solely for your own individual non-commercial and informational purposes only. Any other use, including for any commercial purposes, is strictly prohibited without our express prior written consent. Systematic retrieval of data or other content from the Services, whether to create or compile, directly or indirectly, a collection, compilation, database or directory, is prohibited absent our express prior written consent.” – I’m pretty sure that this part means I can write something here as I won’t be making any money off it.

Superbowl 55. The “World” Championship. Which is a bit like me saying I’m the world champion of racing from my lounge to my kitchen as I’m the only person able to partake in that particular activity.

I haven’t yet watched LV on the full replay and I will at some point [even though I know the result] but I have watched the full live action replay of all the action [this show is 40 mins long, which means for a game of 1 hour I’m being shortchanged]. I can say the following with confidence. The Kansas Offensive line was terrible [maybe the Buccs were amazing] and Mahomes wasn’t protected at all. The O-line broke so often that Mahomes was under so much pressure he just couldn’t land many passes. This wasn’t his fault. He also threw some amazing passes under pressure and I was very impressed with him. To win a Superbowl with different teams is impressive and so I will acknowledge that a certain person has done well. I still don’t have to like the cheating fucker, but I can say I’m impressed.

KC seemed to give up an awful lot of yardage through penalties and I’m not sure if these were called for as I haven’t watched the full match. But maybe the KC defense was getting frustrated which would make sense. Maybe I’ll check back here once I’ve seen the full replay.

Switched It

Recently I’ve come to a decision which wasn’t that easy but I think it needed to be done. This is not a common thing to do and as much as I was emotionally invested I think I have done the right thing. I have decided to change my NFL team allegiance to the Green Bay Packers. I have been a New Orleans Saints supporter since 2008 when I saw them play at Wembley Stadium versus the San Diego Chargers. Before that I guess I was a Miami Dolphins supporter like quite a lot of people my age.

When Channel 4 started on UK television back in 1982 it started showing American Football and because it was new a number of people at school started watching it. If you have to chose someone to support and it doesn’t come from family pressure then lots of people chose the Dolphins in those days. NFL remained an important part of my life through university as we would watch the Superbowl each year while playing drinking games. I don’t think there was a Superbowl for about five years where I remember past the first quarter.

I’ve always kept an eye on NFL but came back to watching it more seriously when I got my own home and Sky TV. I know there are massive issues with the sport regarding health of players, treatment of women, racial inequality, pretty much everything but I still enjoy it. If I was completely moral about it I would probably not watch it anymore but I enjoy it. I’m not sure what that says about me. I don’t watch boxing though, I think it should be banned. If I’m honest with myself I probably think NFL should be banned. While I’m at it I also think the same about horse racing.

A few years ago I learnt that the Green Bay Packers didn’t have their own cheerleading team and that seems the correct thing to do. Cheerleading purely reduces women to sexual objects and nothing else. The last match I saw at Wembley had male cheerleaders too but that doesn’t stop it being a terrible thing. Just letting men do it as well doesn’t change the fact that it’s terribly sexist and objectifying. Some things just need to be stopped. Saying we’ll allow everyone else to do that thing doesn’t make that thing correct.

Also, upon investigation the Green Bay Packers are the only major sports franchise in the USA which is community owned. All the other teams are owned by individuals who have too much power. That’s why they buy sports teams. I’m all for community ownership of businesses and utilities, which is exactly what state ownership is. It seems the best way for the money to cycle around. I decided around the time I found this out that the Packers would be my third team. So, at that point, in order, my allegiance goes Saints, Dolphins, Packers. After that I don’t really care how the list goes as long as the Patriots are at the bottom.

What caused me to change my views? What about the New Orleans Saints made me want to leave them and choose a team from fuck knows where? Three things:

Drew Brees is the current Saints Quarterback and he is an amazing sport person. He can throw a ball really well. I have a NFL jersey with his name on the back. But, he has some questionable personal views. How much can I ignore those and just appreciate him as a sports person? Well, I was coping at that. A while back he appeared in a video by Focus On The Family. Any group called that sort of name in the USA tends to have questionable views about the humanity of humans. FOTF are anti-LGBT. Fuck them. Also, Brees defended his position along with asking pupils to take their bibles to school, which in itself isn’t an issue but religious people tend to have unwaving harsh views on certain types of people. When this event happened I was saddened but at the same time I knew that he was a great sportsman and his personal views don’t matter with respect to that.

Then, Drew Brees made a comment about not respecting anyone who doesn’t respect the flag. He was talking about people taking a knee during the national anthem. That comment almost tipped me over the edge. You can do what the fuck you want during your country’s magical song. I don’t care. I haven’t stood for a national anthem for years because I don’t understand what it is I am standing for. When I sit down I don’t hurt anyone. If your views are offended by someone sitting, or kneeling, then you are the one who needs to change. Shortly after his tweet the Brees family did correct it and apologised and said they would do what they can to help. This was too little too late and I mentioned to friends that it might be time for me to change my NFL team.

Protesting the systematic and racist treatment of black people in a country with a massive history of racism and slavery [much like our own] and doing so peacefully is perfectly acceptable. It IS racism if you then can’t get employed because the owners of teams don’t think you are the “right” person. When your peaceful protests don’t work and change the system then you need to make more vocal protests. The oppressors will respond with their own violence and then you know you are doing the right thing. The police violently attacking protesters who are there to complain about police brutality is hilarious as well as very sad. If you don’t think institutions can be racist then you clearly haven’t read a book.

The turning point for me in my journey to changing my team allegiance was hearing about how the Saints organisation had lent support in terms of time and people to the local catholic church to help it “manage” the PR around the child abuse cases going on in Louisiana. Now, my views on the child rape criminal organisation aside, it seems to be the easiest answer ever: do we lend support to an organisation which has covered up child rapists systematically over the years? If you spend more than one second trying to think that the answer is “no” then that is too long. You see how easy it is to fall on the correct side of this argument? Piece of piss.

So, that was the moment. When I learnt of that support for the church I chose to leave. Will they care? No. Do I care? Yes. I am now a supporter of the Green Bay Packers. I just need to learn where Green Bay is and hope it’s lovely and warm like Louisiana. I will be spending this summer watching last season’s games and getting up to date with the news. I will also be buying a block of cheese for my head. Go Packers!

Rammed Tigers

One of the things I did this weekend was travel to Wembley Stadium to watch a game of American Football. Of the sportsy things that can be done this is one of my favourite and I watch quite a bit of it. This year the Bengals were playing the Rams and it was a Rams “home” game.

Bengals In The Red Zone
Bengals In The Red Zone

The Rams one. You can see a list of games I have attended here. The game was good fun to watch and it was great to see old friends.

I had parked about twenty minutes walk away from the stadium and the walk back to the car was lovely as there was a constant barrage of fireworks to celebrate Diwali. These fireworks continued as I drove out of London. It was an incredible sight.

I Just Don’t Like That Green

Last night I traveled to Wembley to watch the first of this season’s NFL London matches. The game was between the Oakland Raiders, who were playing “home”, and the Seattle Seahawks. I’ve got a list on these pages showing who I’ve seen over the years, you can read it here. I chose to support the Raiders for this match. Mostly because I had seen them before and also because I can’t stand that green flash on the Seahawks’ uniform.

NFL Wembley
NFL Wembley

The game was not a good one. Seattle won easily.

To get to the stadium I drove the car around the M25 and followed Google Maps to the Preston Road car park. Although the car park was fifteen minutes walk form the stadium it was also in the “right” direction – away from the centre of the city. It meant that getting out of the stadium and out of the area was easy. Overall it was a good afternoon but I can’t help feeling that NFL games can be quite anticlimactic.

NFL List

This communication serves only to remind me which NFL matches I have seen in the London series. I should probably create a page like my Bands I Have Seen page, but this will do for now.

  • San Diego Chargers @ New Orleans Saints, 32 – 37, 26 October 2008
  • Denver Broncos @ San Francisco 49ers, 16 – 24, 31 October 2010
  • New England Patriots @ St Louis Rams, 45 – 7, 28 October 2012
  • San Francisco @ Jacksonville Jaguars, 42 – 10, 27 October 2013
  • Miami Dolphins @ Oakland Raiders, 38 – 14, 28 September 2014
  • Detroit Lions @ Atlanta Falcons, 22 – 21, 26 October 2014
  • New York Giants @ Los Angeles Rams, 17 – 10, 23 October 2016
  • New Orleans Saints @ Miami Dolphins, 20 – 0, 1 October 2017
  • Seattle Seahawks @ Oakland Raiders, 27 – 3, 14 October 2018
  • Cincinnati Bengals @ LA Rams, 10 – 24, 27 October 2019

Saints Win and Huntsman

Well, it may have been a boring match but it was good fun anyway to spend the day with friends at Wembley Stadium. I was quite excited as I was seeing my NFL team play for the second time. The first time was 2008. Now, 9 years later I have seen them again. My dream is to see them play in the Superdome one day.

Anthems
Anthems

I do like the atmosphere in the stadium for these matches. It’s friendly and good fun. I’ve never seen any form of trouble.

I think I have written about the actual games in the past but I can’t really remember. There were some interceptions and two touchdowns. Will Lutz missed the first field goal attempt. The first two drives took more than the first quarter so it was quite a slow paced game.

Saints @ Dolphins
Saints @ Dolphins

The Saints won the match 20 – 0. The cheerleaders were nice. It was pretty good to see Drew Brees and others playing.

Before the match I went to Savile Row to see where they filmed part of the Kingsman movie. Nearby was a street called Cork Street and so I took a photograph of that.

Cork Street
Cork Street

The Huntsman tailors is the shop where the secret service agency is based within London. Next door is a wine merchant in the film. Here are the shots I took.

The Kingsman Building
The Kingsman Building (white one)

Another shot:

Huntsman Tailors
Huntsman Tailors – note the plaque

Finally, just for fun, here’s a photo of colour material hanging in Regent Street.

Regent Street Propaganda
Regent Street Propaganda

Rams Lose

Yesterday I sauntered to Twickenham. It was time to see another NFL match as part of the NFL International Series. Normally these matches are at Wembley but I was interested to see Twickenham as I had only been there once before for a Bon Jovi concert. I followed Google Maps all the way there, even though that meant going around the North Circular. Once I found the car park I had to allow security people [who I assume know what they are looking for but I doubt it] to look in the boot and under the bonnet of my car. These “security” steps annoy me as they aren’t evidence based.

Then I walked the short distance to the stadium and boy is it a fucking ugly stadium:

I waited for my ticket to arrive and had food. The pre-game show was performed by Craig David, it was shit. Then there was the national anthems and time for the annual “Jason having a moan at Ian” thing. I don’t stand for anthems. I don’t understand why I should. I also don’t get the patriotism associated with anthems. They annoy me. While it has nothing to do with the blacklivesmatter movement I’m not against their movement. I wrote some stuff here. I’ve probably written loads of stuff about my feelings towards patriotism but you can search for it yourself.

The match was interesting. Not the best one I’ve seen but good enough to justify the money I spent on the ticket!

In the final quarter we were hoping that the Rams would score and bring the game to a tie for overtime. That would have been quite exciting. But they threw an interception in to the end zone with about forty seconds to go. Such a shame, but a good afternoon anyway. I supported the Rams as I had previously when I saw them at Wembley. They are the first team I have seen twice. Also, Rich couldn’t be there and he’s a Rams fan so it made sense to support them. I would never support the Patriots. It is quite possible I have seen the Jaguars twice but the following should clear that up.

I am now going to attempt to log the games I have seen so that at least I have some form of record.

2008
San Diego Chargers @ New Orleans Saints [New Orleans won and are my team following this match]

2010
Denver Broncos @ San Francisco 49ers [49ers win]

2011 – I’m reasonably sure I saw the Bears this year, but am not sure.

2012
New England Patriots @ St Louis Rams [Patriots won – boo]

2013
San Francisco 49ers @ Jacksonville Jaguars [49ers won]

2014
Miami Dolphins @ Oakland Raiders [Dolphins won]
Detroit Lions @ Atlanta Falcons [Lions won]

2016
New York Giants @ LA Rams [Giants won]

Anthems

A NFL backup quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, has been shat on by the country of the USA because he failed to stand up while the national anthem was played before a game. He was protesting something, here’s a link. It would appear that you can say things but refuse to stand for a song and everyone hates you.

I don’t stand for the national anthem. I’ve been to sports events, NFL, at Wembley Stadium and I have remained seated during the national anthems. This is mostly a recent decision and by recent I mean over the last ten years. We stand to show respect I think. But I don’t know what I am respecting. I certainly don’t love this country, I don’t know what I would be loving. I don’t see why standing is a protocol.

On certain events at work we will sing the national anthem. I don’t. We also have a song associated with work. That I do sing. I can see that community in a more tangible sense, I know what it stands for, I know the history. I feel it’s a community I am a part of and can be involved in. I don’t really see that with the country.

I don’t see why I should have to stand. I don’t do it as a protest, I do it because I don’t understand patriotism and I don’t understand the values of a country.

Green Bay

I like American Football. Not sure why, I just do. I’ve a feeling it started young when Channel 4 was a new TV channel in the UK. I was probably about 12 when NFL started being shown on UK TV and it was different and exciting. My dad and I would sit and watch the show now and then. I became a Miami Dolphins fan, not sure why but that is who I chose. They may have been the most famous team at that time.

My allegiances were changed after seeing my first real NFL game at Wembley Stadium. On October 26 2008 I chose to support the New Orleans Saints in their match against the San Diego Chargers. Why? Because it was the Saints’ home game and hurricane Katrina had recently destroyed the city. As a bonus the New Orleans Saints won that game 37 – 32 and I became a full-on Saints supporter. So my teams are: New Orleans Saints and secondly the Miami Dolphins. It’s perfectly OK to have two teams in NFL.

As an aside here are the NFL matches I have seen at Wembley:

  • San Diego Chargers @ New Orleans Saints, 32 – 37, 26 October 2008
  • Denver Broncos @ San Francisco 49ers, 16 – 24, 31 October 2010 [added 18:28 30/10/14]
  • New England Patriots @ St Louis Rams, 45 – 7, 28 October 2012
  • San Francisco @ Jacksonville Jaguars, 42 – 10, 27 October 2013
  • Miami Dolphins @ Oakland Raiders, 38 – 14, 28 September 2014
  • Detroit Lions @ Atlanta Falcons, 22 – 21, 26 October 2014

[I’ve a feeling I’ve seen another match, but I don’t know which one so when I do remember I will place it in the list above] This has been sorted, thanks Rich.

If I was starting again and choosing a team then I would choose the Green Bay Packers. I could, of course, just change my allegiances now and maybe I will. It’s not like my blood runs black and gold. I will let you know how this process goes. At the moment it’s the start of a thought. It’s quite funny that people don’t change their banks or football teams. My association football [soccer] team is Tottenham Hotspur and I guess I could change them if I had good reason or even any bad reason. Who cares?

Here are my reasons for moving allegiances to the Green Bay Packers.

  • They are a non-profit, community owned sports organisation
  • They don’t have cheerleaders

The Packers are the ONLY non-profit community owned professional major league sports team in the USA. This is surely a good thing. The fact that they are, not the fact that they are the only one. It seems ridiculous to me that sports teams are owned by individuals or corporations. From a social and moral point of view the Packers are the team to choose.

Not having cheerleaders is a positive thing. Can you really, and I mean really, justify having women dancing in front of mostly male crowds in between the sports action, as entertainment? It is not justifiable. It demeans women. It enforces pre-existing notions of sexism and misogyny. I would argue the same for Formula 1 and other major motor racing creeds which have “grid girls” or models lining the route to the “room of uncomfortableness” after a race. Is the sport SO dull that it needs women to distract and entertain men? Wise up people. It’s simply sexist and appalling in this day and age.

My train of thought is now about the Packers and to move my support to them. I’m sure they’ll notice. There will be further updates as I make this journey.