Defending your Fan Base! A Boston Sports-Fan’s request to all Sports Fans.

As a sports fan, you live and die by your team. We all know and accept this. Your team is the best one, no one else should care about anything but your team, and every other team should just get out of the way of your team winning the championship. Your team deserves the best free agents and trades, and you can’t IMAGINE why a player would sign with that other team, just for a couple extra bucks (okay, maybe if you’re a realistic sports fan, that part you can always understand).

BUT – here’s something I’ve been forced to come to terms with since moving away from the city in which my fandom is centralized around: Your Fan Base has a national perception. And most likely it’s not great. This brings me to my question – can you defend your fan base as strongly as you defend your team? I’m leaving this open to all fan bases, as I know a ton that are members of the more prominent/loud/obnoxious/angry/passionate fan bases.

I’ll offer my two-cents about Boston fans. I know we are widely considered to be among the most obnoxious and passionate fan bases in the country. I’m not going to say “best” or “worst,” because that’s just a matter of opinion (and if you pay attention to Deadspin now, as they tear apart each NFL team before the season starts, every NFL fan base sucks and doesn’t deserve anything). Boston fans can be loud, Boston fans can be over-the-top, Boston fans can be extreme – we’re either going all the way this year or we’ll never win another game again. We’re superstitious and negative, but we’ll stand by the Patriots through “SpyGate,” defend David Ortiz and his PED allegations, cheer for Brad Marchand whenever he does anything that makes you as an opposing fan hate him. Kevin Garnett was a smack-talking bully on the court, but he was OUR smack-talking bully. (And now Brooklyn’s smack-talking bully). We’ll argue that Nomar was better than Jeter, and Pedroia is better than Cano. Williams was better than DiMaggio. Bobby Orr better than Gretsky. Bird better than Magic. Not sure how many of those arguments we win in other states.

You can call us obnoxious, you can call us homers, you can call us never-satisfied, you can call us championship-hungry, you can call us shitty fans. Most of you do anyways.  But at least we care about ALL of our teams. Boston is one of a few cities that can call themselves a Baseball town, a Hockey town, A Basketball town and a Football town without any detractors. Most cities can only claim ONE of those sports, maybe two. I live in Los Angeles currently – they’re definitely a Basketball town. No doubt about that. The LA Kings won the 2012 Stanley Cup. Not sure I’d call LA a Hockey Town. I just went to the 3-game series between the Red Sox and Dodgers. The Dodgers are one of the hottest teams in baseball right now – still not sure I’d call LA a baseball town. LA doesn’t even have a football team, so that’s out of the question.

Growing up, I just missed out on the Celtics’ era of greatness, too young to really follow the Bruins mid 80s-mid 90s unsuccessful playoff runs. The Patriots weren’t good during that stretch until they somehow made it into Superbowl XXXI in 1996, only to get crushed by Brett Favre’s Packers. I only remember being interested in the Red Sox as a child. Maybe because we’d go to Fenway once a season. Maybe because big-name players like Mo Vaughn, Roger Clemens and Jose Canseco were on the team. And Nomah! I followed the Celtics when Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker came onto the scene, then quickly lost interest in the NBA (something that seems to happen with me in waves). But as a Boston fan I always had a connection to those teams, even if they weren’t relevant or I didn’t pay attention to the league at the time. I’ve conjectured recently that depending on what era in a team’s history you grew up in, whether they are relevant for greatness or relevant for never-winning, that’s the team you’re most connected to. I grew up between the Red Sox’s 1986 World Series loss (missed it by a month, thanks Mom and Dad!) and the 2004 “Curse-Breaking” Champs. What happened in Red Sox land during that 18-year stretch? Oh just 5 playoff appearances/exits and 4 Yankees World Series wins. That puts me in familiar territory to any generation of Red Sox fan in the prior 86 years.

I grew up in the last 18 years of Red Sox franchise woes. We had the talent, we just never could put it together. But that’s the sentiment that overwhelmingly took over my young self as I grew into a Boston sports fan. That’s hard to shake. I’m not apologizing for every instance of a Boston fan complaining about a 3-game losing streak when we’re still in 1st place, or worrying about losing 1 game in the Stanley Cup playoffs because a couple years ago we lost 4 straight to lose the series after being up 3-0. But Boston fans are always VERY aware of our teams’ past history. Or recent history. No one would bring themselves to predict the 2013 Red Sox would be this good this far into the season, after the debacle that was 2012. It’s about managing expectations. Sometimes, we know we have a good shot – like the last 10 years of Patriots teams. We know when we don’t have a shot – like the upcoming Celtics season. Worrying and complaining is all part of what makes us Boston sports fans, and to a certain extent, sports fans in general. While the teams we root for may be different, we’re all sports fans at our foundation. We just want to see our teams do well and win championships. It’s something we have very little control over, but because it has such a community-bonding capacity, we let sports take over our lives and emotions. Our anxiety and stress levels shoot through the roof during playoff runs. We check standings every day as part of our morning routines. Sports are a water-cooler topic of conversation, before or after you’re done talking about the last episode of Breaking Bad. Nothing beats going to a live sporting-event; where else can you see 30,000-70,000 people from one community experiencing  the same thing? Non-sports fans like going to games for the environment. Maybe they’ll learn a thing or two from their super-fan boyfriend/girlfriend/family member/friend. Our biggest sports stars are legitimate celebrities.  We have a growing number of 24/7 sports television networks. It’s real-life drama, complete with scandals, redemption stories, “good guys” and “bad guys.” Being a fan is simply picking sides – something that you can’t really do in any other form of entertainment.

So that brings me to my request, fellow sports fans. Please comment, on here, on Facebook, on Twitter, wherever, with your thoughts on being a sports fan, and defending your particular fan base. Help me realize how similar we all are, we’re just rooting for different color jerseys.

**UPDATE – I was waiting for Deadspin to post their “Why Your Team Sucks” for the Patriots this season, and forgot they had real Pats fans write in and complain about themselves. So in the spirit of “Defending” your fan base (really the opposite), here’s some raw thoughts from real Deadspin readers/Patriots fans about why they hate other Patriot fans, and by virtue other Boston Fans.

The Many Answers for “Why LA? Why Entertainment?”

It’s been a little over a year and a half since I’ve moved out to Los Angeles to pursue the ever-mocked and questioned career in entertainment, and yet I still find myself having to explain “why?” to friends and family. Nothing against any of them who are asking those questions – it is a tough thing for people to grasp, especially when the decision and subsequent move snuck up on a lot of them.

Let’s shift back in time a few years, to when I’m entering college. I decided upon Boston University because they had a great Communications school, and I was looking to study Journalism, because I enjoyed writing. However, the beginning classes in Journalism, and the articles I took it upon myself to write for two school papers quickly made me realize that writing was really the only thing I liked about journalism – not the reporting, not newspaper deadlines and formats. Just writing. I saw columnists like Dave Barry, or in later years Bill Simmons, and saw that they pretty much had carte blanche to write whatever they wanted, and both seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. However, you can’t just become a national syndicated columnist with the green light to write about 90210 or Silly Putty. They had to come up from somewhere, learn the ropes of the industry and work their way up to the top, where they wanted to be.

Again, nothing wrong with that career path, but I realized that I liked writing, and just wanted to write about whatever – my first bouts in writing all were personal memoir-type journal entries and stories, I never had the burning desire to report on school funding and where exactly our large Undergraduate Student Fees really went to. I figured since I was at this great Communications school, which aside from a great Journalism program, had a great Film and TV program, I should focus my writing desires into television, where I could not only write from a more personal level, but I’d have more creativity with it and it was a medium I always enjoyed, and found it incredible that I could study it as a major.

And so, I ventured into the world of entertainment, looking to write for television, and as I took classes at BU, really enjoyed them and knew this is what I wanted to do. Once I found out about BU’s Los Angeles Internship Program, I knew that it would be something I’d benefit from, and it would also give me a taste of what Los Angeles and the real Entertainment Industry would be like. I did the program, liked it, and that pretty much cemented my decision to move out here.

Now, during this time,  I may have only discussed school-related things with friends and family on rare occasions; whether it be family functions or short catch-up sessions during school breaks where we’d talk about how school was going for about 15 minutes, then go back to making dick and fart jokes and reminiscing about high school, realizing that the drama we thought we left at home still existed whenever we came back. We never really delved into what I was doing and what I wanted to be doing. Plus, especially with friends, and I’m guilty of this too, college and the work involved is so self-involved that there’s not much time to concern yourself with how your friends are doing in their individual endeavors – you have a big midterm to study for.

This sounds a bit cynical, and I don’t mean for it to be. I’m just commenting on the inherent personal pressures we all face in college, and especially toward the end, when we’re trying to finish school and figure out what’s next, it’s easy to get caught up in it all and forget about the other people in your life.

Anyways, back to present time, where I find that every time I go home and hang out with friends, or see a family member, I have to update them on how things are going, which inevitably means rationalizing the decision to move to LA. Yes, this year has gone a lot better – I’ve found more consistent work at a reputable production company, and have also been getting consistent freelance editing work on the side, but it’s still nowhere near the financial security that a lot of my friends have. Right now, I have jobs lined up for the future, but I am still technically out of work and struggling between jobs. But I am happy, and the work I do is very helpful in learning new things about editing and the post production process, which will definitely help me later on in my career. But despite this, there are still parts of my life I have to rationalize to them – I’ve worked but there are always periods in the industry where work dies down and people have lulls in projects – it’s just the nature of the beast. I’m not going to start out as a CEO of a Production Company or an Agent – I won’t have job security for a few years at least. But I can take this time off to write, to pursue other interests like comedy or photography (which will come once I have money to buy a nice camera). When you just have a desire to create and entertain, everything you do toward that goal is considered progress.

Every now and then I have to think back and ask myself if I could have done anything else with college or my life after college, and I really can’t find a solid answer to that – which probably means I’m either not qualified for anything else, or I picked the right place and industry to be in. In a way, it’s an industry full of ambitious and creative people, who often did not have other options or qualifications; something compelled them to create and focus their ambitions toward entertaining the masses of people who chose more stable and realistic careers – many of whom are the same friends and family who ask “Why LA? Why Entertainment?”

That’s my long answer to the question, but I guess it can be answered in a short way too – “Why Not? What Else should I do?”

Anniversary Season: Day Seven – Las Vegas/Hoover Dam, Nevada

Our seventh and final day on the trip took us on a quick detour through Nevada. Nothing could top the Canyon from yesterday, but the man-made sites of Hoover Dam and Las Vegas almost wowed me in a completely different way. Two vastly different spectacles of human construction and architecture, the Hoover Dam and Las Vegas are worlds apart, yet only about 45 minutes apart.

Coming from Arizona, we drove over the Hoover Dam, which happens to be the line between Mountain Time and Pacific Time. The traffic across the bridge is a bit heavy, as there’s a security check point and the cars have to move almost slow enough to turn back time, if the time zone switch didn’t take care of that already.

Once we got to the dam, we appeased the historians in us and took advantage of the $15 visitor center fee to learn some interesting things about the dam’s origins and construction. I won’t bore you with those details, let’s just say it’s amazing how impressive a structure it is considering the era it was made, and considering how much it positively affected a struggling economy. (see: the Great Depression)

Attempting to do it justice with regard to it’s massiveness, here’s a good picture from the visitor center. It’s too big to get a wide shot of, but this is the widest I could get.

Hoover Dam, Nevada

Hoover Dam

You can see some pedestrians walking across the bridge on the top giving some aspect of a scale.

After witnessing this man-made masterpiece, we drove down to Vegas to witness some other artificial spectacles in the middle of the desert. What other place could you see a Castle, a Pyramid, the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower within the same half mile of each other that’s not a video game?

We didn’t spend much time in Vegas, just a few hours of touristy sightseeing. We’re not big gamblers us Glasses. I had never been there, and I just wanted to see what it was all about. It was different but as outrageous as I was expecting, and eventually I’ll come back for more traditional Vegas outing.

After doing the crash course on the Vegas Strip scenery, we made the 4 1/2 hour drive to Los Angeles, our final destination on the road trip, and my future city of residence.

In Barstow, we caught back up with the old Route 66, and I almost bought out the store’s worth of memorabilia, but decided against it, tired from a week of driving, and wanting to finally get settled into my new life.

So that’s the end of the trip. We sat at the bar in the hotel on Friday night, amazed that we came so far, survived an iced storm, didn’t fall off either the Grand Canyon or the Hoover dam, and left lost Vegas only having lost the money we spent on a meal and the pointless “check out the back of this hotel” tram rides. This is definitely the kind of trip one never forgets, and luckily I have the pictures and now the hilariously insightful blog posts to help remind me.

Look for a longer reflection sometime late Sunday night, I’ll pour my soul out on what the road trip meant to me, and how I feel about the past year of my life. It will be heavy stuff, get your tissues ready.

I leave you with one final bonus picture, an “after” picture of what a week’s worth of driving cross-country will do to a brand new Honda Civic.

Dirty Car

Wash Me

Relax, it did get washed.

Previous Days:

Day Six – Grand Canyon, Arizona

Day Five – Santa Fe, New Mexico

Day Four – Lubbock, Texas

Day Three – Little Rock, Arkansas

Day Two – Memphis, Tennessee

Road Trip Begins

I’ve been a non-student for a year…

It took me awhile to figure out how to word the title of this post. I guess it’s still unbelievable to me. This weekend marks the final weekend of the BUinLA program, meaning that a year ago today, I was done with college classes and essentially out of school. I didn’t officially graduate until January 25th, so I guess I really have a little over a month, but I know that month will go by before I know it.

It’s been an interesting year. Last December, I knew I wanted to move back out to Los Angeles, but I was unsure of when. It took me about a month to decide, and then another two weeks to plan the week-long, cross-country trip my father and I took at the end of January. The week’s worth of driving and traveling was a good cushion for me to reflect on the huge life move I was making. Once I got to LA, the Friday night before Superbowl Sunday, it hit me – I’m in Los Angeles, I’m here to get started on the rest of my life. College is over, welcome to the Real World, Josh.

That weekend, things happened quickly. I was staying with my friend Rob on his couch, and as comfortable that situation was, I was really eager to find my own place, so I could settle into this new environment as quickly as possible. I went looking for apartments on craigslist and after viewing the second place I looked at on Sunday afternoon, I took it. I’m still in that place now, despite thinking I may move on a couple occasions throughout the year.

Obviously at this point I’ve settled into the living arrangements, and my general life schedule. I’ve been working the same internship for about seven months now, on and off depending on what other project I’ve been involved with. Despite not having a full-time, or even part-time job, the internship has helped give me experience, a regular weekly schedule and kept me busy three days a week. My off days normally consist of heavy job searching in the morning, a couple hour break in the afternoon at the gym, and the rest of the day working on whatever editing project I’m involved with.

The editing projects, most of which have been visual effects work with After Effects, have also kept me busy and given me great experience in post-production. While the work is also on an unpaid/deferred basis, I don’t mind because I need the practice and eventual footage for a reel.

The production work I did, while not very regular (I’d work as a PA about once every couple months, on average) was also valuable in the fact that I got experience, met some great people, and was able to learn all about things that you just can’t learn in school.

Sure, it’s a bit disappointing and discouraging when most of my friends out here have more substantial jobs than I do, but I made choices about what kind of work I would look for early on and stuck with them throughout the year. I could have gone a different route and probably got a more regular job, but it would have been at something I wasn’t as interested in doing. In that same sentiment, I could have stayed in Boston, lived at home, not be paying rent and working a job that I was even less interested in doing. To me, the whole point of moving out here was to pursue a dream of working in entertainment as a writer (now I’ve revised that goal to include being an editor). Obviously there isn’t one path to get to a goal, especially not in this industry, but a personal goal was to remain happy with what I was doing, and to be honest there are some jobs and paths that I could not see myself being happy in doing, even if I was happy to be getting a regular paycheck at each week’s end.

There’s a balance I do have to address, in that I can’t live off savings forever, and eventually will need some form of income. That may very well end up being a part-time job of some sort, but as long as I can keep writing and editing in my spare time, and as long as I keep pushing toward that career goal and don’t get sidetracked or distracted by other things, I can stay out here and keep at it.

I’m nervous but excited for the “1 year in LA out of school” mark. There are things I’ll have to deal with – do I risk driving around with an expired Massachusetts inspection sticker just to keep my Mass plates and Mass ID, or do I go through the process of registering as a California resident? Up until now, despite living in the state for almost a year, I still don’t consider myself a resident. That may change if my car and my license say I am.

There are also things I’m excited to try out – a few friends and I may begin to take Improv classes, something I have only really done on a very small scale – a class at camp, joking around with friends, etc. I figure as a comedy writer I should flex or at least train my comedy muscles in as many areas of the genre as I can. I even started writing a standup act (although have no real plans to perform just yet).

I’m also writing music again, and with the great decision to bring my electric guitar back to LA with me, there’s more potential to jump back into that arena. Why not? I’ve always considered music to be just a hobby, despite how talented people have said I am, and how much I enjoy it. But why? I’m out in Los Angeles now, pursuing a dream of becoming an entertainer, why would pursuing music be any different?

Ambition is a great thing to have out here, and while I may not be the most ambitious person in the world, or the city, or even among my own friends, I do want to succeed, and I do want to be happy with whatever I’m doing. I’m not sure I needed a whole year to convince myself of that, but hey – we all work at our own pace.

The Greater Los Angeles Area – A Brief Study

One of the perks of being in the entertainment industry is the rare and (usually) great opportunities it brings about. For example, As an intern at FOX last year, I got to work the Simpsons “Treehouse of Horrors” Premiere Party at Universal Studios. After checking in guests, some of them big names like Weird Al Yankovic and Joe Mantegna, we rode the Simpsons ride for free. Pretty cool and exciting for a 21-year-old finishing his last semester of school in Hollywood. Also at FOX, I got to sit in on a table read for the new show “The Cleveland Show.” After the read was over, I stayed in the room with the Network Executives and two Executive Producers of the show as they went through network notes. It was literally the four of them, and me in the back, observing. I shouldn’t even have to mention how amazing it was to be an intern at “The Office,” one of my favorite shows on television. My first day I had lunch with Stanley (Leslie David Baker), and ate free In-N-Out Burger from a truck that came in (it was also my first In-N-Out experience).

These examples kept me in the confines of Los Angeles County. Sometimes, you’ll get to travel outside the immediate area; from exciting places like the beach in Malibu, to not so exciting places like a community college in Azusa. One thing I’ve noticed about traveling to these places (especially going into the surrounding counties), the vistas change very drastically, even once you’re 20 minutes outside of the city. For how wide and spread out LA is, it’s almost jarring how quickly the scenery changes.

Maybe it’s different for me coming from New England, where everything is really close together and everything pretty much looks the same, except for the big cities. There’s just something a bit odd about how you can turn a corner within LA and the neighborhood suddenly changes. Or you can drive away from the city 20 minutes and the hills no longer have houses sprinkled on them, and instead of buildings and cars everywhere, you look to both sides of the freeway and see empty rolling hills or big empty industrial parks. It’s almost like there’s an invisible line drawn around Los Angeles County that keeps all signs of civilization within those borders, and when you venture outside of them you immediately wonder where all the people went. Unless of course if you’re stuck in traffic, then it seems like everyone in LA is in their cars, sitting on the freeway right next to you.

I guess on a more personal note, it’s interesting for me to observe these things about a different area of the country, because up until a year ago, I lived my whole life in New England, and although I did vacation outside of the area on many occasions, never really appreciated the subtle (and not so subtle) differences of each place I went to. I noticed this while driving cross-country, and it was actually pretty amazing to see how much things changed from place to place. It’s a big, diverse, beautiful country out there…hopefully you all get a chance to see as much of it as you can.