The Kentucky Derby… on Acid!
This is my good friend Caitlin (whose name isn’t really Caitlin). That is a hit of acid on her tongue. She did acid once, four years ago, and she’s doing it again now, just before we head out to the Kentucky Derby, because the only way to attend the most famous horse race in the world—an event that features thousands of drunken gamblers, straight-up drunks, and a roiling, seersuckered mess of Southern gentry—is to trip your head off for the whole thing.
An hour later, we arrived at Churchill Downs, which was pretty miserable in the rain. As with every major public gathering in America, tons of cops and security guards were on hand at the entrance to direct foot traffic and remind us all that we live in a post-9/11 security state. I knew the acid was starting to kick in when she compared this routine checkpoint to being a Jew in Hitler’s Germany: “I swear we are in a concentration camp. Look at how they are herding everyone.” Is this how Alex Jones fans are made?
Our tickets were for the infield, the area surrounded by the racetrack that turns into a big muddy party for the duration—sort of like a music festival without music but worse, if you can picture that. This area is designated for those who don’t want to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for a ticket, belligerent drunks, and 40-something divorcees trying to get freaky. It’s cheap because you can’t really tell what’s going on, horse-racing wise.
…But in order to reach the infield, we first had to fight our way through a tunnel that smelled like a rotting asshole—the air was filled with cigar and cigarette smoke, vomit, and bourbon. Caitlin asked me if we were in hell.
Which Horselete Should You Root for in the Kentucky Derby?
Photo via Flickr user Velo Steve
To those who aren’t horse racing fans—a category that includes nearly every person on Earth who isn’t incredibly wealthy or an aging alcoholic gambling addict with a permanent hacking cough—the Kentucky Derby, known to insiders as “the horse race that is happening this weekend in Kentucky,” is a mysterious, somewhat stupid tradition. The horseletes (like athletes, but they’re horses) have names like “Orb,” “Vyjack,” and “Palace Malice” and are owned by characters who could be James Bond movie villains. The people who are really into the Derby wear awful hats and get day-drunk on minty cocktails that taste like your grandfather. Not only that, the race is ten “furlongs” long, which means no one knows how long it actually is. So why care about it? Because it gives you a chance to root for—and gamble on—a horselete of your choosing, and distract you from your mostly miserable, horse-free life for two minutes, or however long it takes to run ten furlongs.
But what horselete should you bet on for? Presumably you don’t have a personal connection with one of the animals, and unless you are a huge fan of orbs or whatever a vyjack is, a name alone won’t determine your rooting interest. Which is why I’ve compiled this handy guide for you that matches up your personality with a corresponding horselete.
You Hate Hippies
If you get into heated arguments with Greenpeace canvassers and routinely go on rants about the evils of PETA, why not throw your support to Frac Daddy? This horse is, of course, named after thecontroversial natural gas extraction technique—primary owners Carter Stewart and Ken Schlenkermade their money in the oil and gas business. They decided not to name him “Frack Daddy,” I guess, because spelling, like environmentalism, is for loosers.
You Love Diversity
Horse racing is one of the few sports where men and women compete on the same playing field. There have been a number of jockettes (“lady jockeys”) who have ridden in the Derby, but none of them have won, yet. Rosie Napravnik’s ninth-place finish in the 2011 race is the best to date from a female rider, and she’ll be atop Mylute for this year’s edition.
Meanwhile, Kevin Krigger, who will be riding Goldencents, is the third African American jockey to ride in the Derby since 1921. Krigger is relatively unknown, but had arguably one of the best prep races leading up to the Derby, proving he deserves a spot this Saturday. A win by either Napravnik of Krigger would make history at an event that, um, has not always been known for its embrace of progressive politics.
Combat Juggling Is the Sport of Kings
Combat Juggling is a real sport started by juggling prodigy Jason Garfield. Unlike the cartoon cat, this Garfield isn’t a lazy boy at all. According to the World Juggling Federation, he entered the juggling industry when he was 11, having mastered “the juggling of ten balls, ten rings, and seven clubs.” So what do you do after that? Try and juggle more balls, rings, and clubs until you are nothing but a gyrating mass of balls, rings, and clubs? No, that would be pointless.
Instead, you create a competition between other jugglers wherein they battle each other for juggling supremacy. That is exactly what Garfield did, and thank the lord for it. The man revolutionized juggling as we know it, turning it into a competitive contact sport. In 2011, the World Juggling Federation produced the first ever live juggling competition on ESPN3. I guess ESPN was busy airing some stupid football game, and the bozos over at ESPN2 think poker is more of a sport worth watching. But ESPN3 took the bait, and soon, the rest of the world will. It’s only a matter of time.
Looking at the videos and pictures of a lot of these competitors, it seems as though the majority of players are teenage males, minus a few guys with goatees and fedoras here and there, which implies the maturity and wisdom of a man in his twenties. Some are even total beefcakes, like Vova Galchenko.
Watching Your Baseball Team Get Blown Out Is Like Anal Sex
As I watched the Cleveland Indians’ wholesale slaughter of the Houston Astros last week (the final score was 19-6), an odd feeling crept over me. It was horrible to watch a baseball team get absolutely creamed like that, but it was also oddly familiar, and not just because the Astros are terrible. The mixture of pleasure and pain that unfolded over nine innings—it started out scary, but ended up being kind of fun—was pretty much like anal sex. Actually, baseball blowouts—be they the 1897 Chicago Colts’ 36-7 record-setting victory over Louisville, the 30-3 destruction of the Baltimore Orioles by the 2007 Texas Rangers, this season’s 15-0 shellacking of the Nationals by the Reds—are exactly like anal sex. Here’s an inning-by-inning recap:
THE FIRST INNING: BACKDOOR PRESSURE
The initial runs that appear on the scoreboard serve as a quiet harbinger of what’s to come, much like the none-too-subtle pressure of a wiener knocking on your tightly clenched rosebud. This game won’t really be so bad, you tell yourself. Then another walk, wild pitch, ground-rule double, and you surreptitiously clasp your cheeks in expectation. But I never do anal!
THE SECOND INNING: PENETRATION
Much like the moment when your lover spits on your asshole, the appearance of an additional three or four runs in the second officially heralds that anal is occurring, and then—yup, that’s a dick in your asshole. Any hope of a comeback is shattered, and no amount of praying for run support will make that sweet pucker of yours any less penetrated. The flesh of your loins quivers, bases loaded, no outs.
Why Sports Help
At some point, it’s clearly best just to turn it off. These blasts of idiot panic on Twitter, all these self-appointed (and actually appointed) social-media editors burping up liveblogs of some in-studio haircut’s dunderheaded ad libs or playing some screeching game of telephone with police scanner chatter. Those aforementioned haircuts, speculating rankly to fill minutes of airtime or reciting now-familiar horrors over looped video of whirling sirens. These fucking clownish Infowars rage-loafs, staring down very real horror and frothingly appliquéing the usual black helicopters in the usual places, sad old children writing themselves into some raised-letter airport potboiler, swapping their asinine imaginary horrors for the world’s and calling themselves brave; these Reddit sleuths taking a clammy break from mapping the bleaker margins of the Friend Zone to slap some MS Paint on smudgy photos and misidentify some monsters. Turn it off, turn it off. There is nothing here, nothing useful to learn, only more of the guilty inertia that leads us to put this shit on in the background in the first place. We should care, and we do care. We should want to know, and we do want to know. But there’s nothing here for us, at the moment. So I’m going to a baseball game tonight, where it’s quieter and more human.
It’s a Mets game, so obviously it’s not really “quieter.” But no baseball game, even one featuring a team that currently plays defense with all the grace and efficacy of a corgi chasing a torpedo, is ever really quiet. There are tens of thousands of other people there at the game, murmuring and sometimes cheering and sometimes booing and asking each other if they want a beer and doing their best to explain to (rightly) confused kids how the infield fly rule works, and why Ruben Tejada, the Mets’ palpably aghast and supremely snakebit shortstop, just scooped up a grounder and whipped it into the mezzanine. There are the little farts of spastic reggaeton and strutting butt-rock and Drake-mewls that soundtrack the players’ approach to the plate, too, and various other uses of the public address system. At some point in the game, fans will probably get up and sing Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” as a sort of tribute to Boston, the locked-down and terrified/defiant city that invented this particular in-game ritual. I probably won’t sing it, because I don’t generally do that sort of thing, but I’ll stand up and sit down with everyone else. I think that will be enough for me, and probably for many others there, standing and sitting all around in whatever silence or sound they choose.
The March Madness of Fast Food
Fast food is blood to me. And I don’t mean that because I eat it often— I mean it populates my mind and flows through my veins. Sometimes I can be ultraproductive for a whole week by telling myself that if I make it through and finish all of my work, I will reward myself by eating shit. My carrot on a stick is a dripping Big Mac is what I’m saying. Some of my most powerful emotions have been procured in the drive-throughs of the dozens upon dozens of butthole food options America has bequeathed its hungry citizens. Sometimes even just driving down the road feels like a Death Olympics, where at any point you could pull over and upload a couple thousand calories into your face.
After spending several days sprawled out watching men on TV throw a ball at a hole in an effort not to get eliminated from some competition, I decided to subject the butt buffets of America to a similar competition. I seeded 64 of our most popular corporate fast food establishments from one to 16, based primarily on sales stats, then went to business facing the fuckers off based on what my body likes. Below are the results.
8. Del Taco
9. White Castle
5. Dairy Queen
13. Manchu Wok
6. Five Guys
3. Domino’s Pizza
14. Miami Subs
7. Church’s Chicken
2. Pizza Hut
15. Smoothie King
McDonald’s is hosted by a clown and their only item that isn’t shitted up are the french fries; Denny’s gives you actual silverware, so fuck Denny’s: McDonald’s.
In elementary school my mom would take us to Del Taco, and all I remember is the refried beans, how you could almost drink them; White Castle is piss: Del Taco.
Krystal is only OK to eat if you’re so drunk you won’t remember anything the next morning besides the smell; Dairy Queen dunks shit in chocolate up to your wrist: DQ.
Here’s David Roth on the New York Baseball Mets, which are less like a baseball team than an especially biting satire that keeps getting progressively more difficult to laugh at.
Neon Waters Run Deep
There’s nothing fundamentally offensive, really, about the new Odd Future Stone Wash Pajama Zubaz uniforms that adidas rolled out on Thursday in preparation for the NCAA tournament later this month. Aesthetically, maybe, there are some things to disagree with—the color-schemes apparently based on flavors Gatorade invented, like “Frost Cascade Crash”; the shorts that resemble something a Jacksonville-area steroid dealer might’ve worn in 1991; the Notre Dame uniform, which looks like a Shamrock Shake with a tall dude trapped inside it. These are reasonable things to notice and take issue with, although it’s useful to remember that these uniforms were made with that purpose in mind—ruffling people square enough to care about college basketball uniforms, and ruffling them into using the word “adidas” if at all possible. This has worked—I’ve now done it twice in this column, and did it elsewhere yesterday—although it would have worked less well if there was anything else to talk about in sports right now. So, mission accomplished. Remind me to tell you about adidas’s patented ClimaCool Zones, an exciting new fabric technology that might well solve forever whatever pseudo-problem it purports to address, for all I know.
There’s a certain baseline squickiness to non-stories like this, which are essentially and inescapably re-heated press releases served with a side salad of Hot Take. It helps (if that’s the word) that these uniforms are undeniably something-a-skateboarding-cartoon-dinosaur-would-wear gaudy and legitimately strange. But the conversation they generate is mostly crypto-promotional noise. It’s familiar, too—think of those popular videos that get posted to every traffic-seeking site on the web along with a couple paragraphs about how stupid this video-meme is; think of the branded factoids and drowsily re-reported press releases that are the stock in trade of the widely loathed ESPN Brand Enthusiast Darren Rovell. These things are forgettable spurts of spume generated by the internet’s relentless, affectless churn. It’s hard to know what percentage of the web consists of ostentatiously and unapologetically content-free content like this, but it’s a two-digit number that probably starts with a seven or an eight and ends with a LeAnn Rimes upskirt.
North Korea Has a Friend in Dennis Rodman and VICE
Earlier today former Chicago Bulls superstar Dennis Rodman presided over a mixed-match basketball game in Pyongyang alongside Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un. The teams consisted of VICE correspondent Ryan Duffy; Moose Weekes, Buckets Blakes, and Bull Bullard of the Harlem Globetrotters; and North Korea’s “Dream Team,” all of whom played their hearts out in what we have termed a “basketball diplomacy” mission. Following the game, Rodman gave a stirring speech after the game that extended an olive branch to the Hermit Kingdom. The VICE crew is currently having a reception at the Supreme Leader’s house, and Duffy has invited Kim Jung-un to America and to tour the VICE offices. There isn’t much more to say than that because our jaws are still on the floor. So while we pick them up and get more info from our team, enjoy these photos of the game. You can watch the highlights on VICE, our new HBO series that premieres April 5th.
Photos by Jason Mojica