Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sport of Kings Southern Style

 One of best friends is turning 50. We have known each other since age 3 when we met in Nursery School at an Episcopal Church in Gulph Mills, Pennsylvania. Father of friend is a great man and has scheduled a guys trip to Florida to celebrate this half century milestone. This trip comes at an inconvenient time due to work and the start of lacrosse season. It ain't cheap either.

I like traveling and trips of this sort. However, if you are  getting me to leave wife and kids for a weekend and spend the dough...have a plan. I am not talking an anal retentive minute by minute psycho bride itinerary...just a loose set of ideas about what to do with the guys. I can sit by a pool for a while and read...have some rum...but then I want action. I said: "What about 1/2 day deep sea fishing? "  Crickets...
"How about Wave Runners on the Bay?" Nothing...
So, I informed the titular trip leader that if you want to find me Saturday afternoon...I will be sipping a Rum & Tonic and studying the Racing Form at Gulfstream. There are 2 fine stakes races on Saturday at Gulfstream.Hopefully, the guys will join me.

This is one beautiful racetrack; up there with Saratoga and Monmouth and Churchill Downs. Gulfstream is about 25 minutes form our beach front hotel. After a nice session in the Hotel gym, quick swim,steam, sauna and shave, hail me a cab to the Track. I will alternate between the Paddock to check out the potential horses for my wager, an air conditioned seat in the Clubhouse and a spot on the Rail. See you sunburned chumps at dinner...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Great Advice Joe

          Joe really is a half-wit..and these young ladies were not properly taught. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

We're Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

This quote from "Jaws" seems apt when one views the photo of the monstrous Blue Marlin hauled in by British fisherman Kevin Gardner. Marlin is the Cadillac of big game fish...chased by the likes of Ernie Hemingway from his boat, the Pilar out of Havana,Cuba and Tred Barta off Puerto Rico. Placing himself in this lofty brotherhood, Gardner caught this magnificent fish off Ascension Island...a little dollop of land about half-way between the Brazilian Coast and Equatorial Guinea on the Western Horn of Africa. To really shake things up regarding this record catch, this was the Brit's first time fishing for Blue marlin. This 1320 pound behemoth took about 3 hours to bring in the boat. One can only imagine the thrill and excitement on the deck...and then on the dock...when this beast was captured and then weighed. Sportsmen everywhere are in awe of this news and tip the collective hat to this now World Class angler. Well done Kevin, I'd buy you a pint of Bass Ale to celebrate if I saw you in the Pub!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

310 Years

 You can have your G&T's. When it is time for a crisp, lime-laced and refreshing cocktail...I will reach for the Rum from Barbados. Today Mount Gay celebrates 310 years of providing this delicious sugar-based distilled spirit to the Rum enthusiast. In addition,Mount Gay as a companyt has been stalwart in support of sailing regattas and events world-wide.
Rum is steeped in a history as rich in flavor as a Planter's Punch. Rum was central to the triangular trade between the New World, Europe and Africa. Yes, there is the nasty part involving the slave trade but that is a topic for another discussion.
 Rum was distilled in the Colonies and used to purchase manufactured goods.Rum helped fuel the American revolution. Rum was provided to sailors in the Royal Navy as part of rations until the mid-20th century. Don Corleone made a fortune running molasses to Canada for Rum production  with Hyman Roth.Even Fredo suggested a Rum and Coke to his guests in Cuba in "Godfather II." Well, Fredo did not fare so well in the end. But with a Mount Gay and Tonic in hand, the Rum fan will fare much better. Salutations to Mount Gay for longevity and a fine product!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Lax and lager

 Saturday dawned gray and windy here in the Delaware Valley. It was in the high 30's and there was a chance of flurries. However, the Lehigh lacrosse team was in town to play Villanova and I was not going to miss a chance to see the Lehigh boys right around the corner. I grew up near  Villanova's campus and as the old saying goes:"familiarity breeds contempt." I never was a Villanova fan. So I was ready to see the Lehigh Lax team, fresh off a season where they made the final four in the NCAA play-offs, come to the Wildcat home field and administer a beating.Lacrosse is a sport that begins in the cold of early Spring when you are a high school player...I can remember freezing fingers gripping the metal shaft in early March practice. These college guys start earlier and the game they played Saturday was in windy,numbing cold.
 After a 5-0 goal run, Lehigh had a nice lead but the Wildcats staged a come-back in the 2nd quarter. At the half, it was 6-5 Lehigh. I was dressed for the cold and I did not envy the boys on the side lines wearing shorts.
 In the 3rd quarter Lehigh came out strong with aggressive defense and some goal scoring fast-breaks. Despite my  hands gloved against the cold, I managed to capture a particularly sweet 4th quarter goal  by senior attackman Dave Dimarira who had a stellar day posting 4 goals and 3 assists. The 11-9 final score kept Lehigh undefeated and was a satisfying victory for this alumni and Wildcat hater.
 Later that evening, the wife and I headed  South to the horse country  near Unionville for beers and English Pub fare at The Whip Tavern. Owned by an ex-pat Brit, the Whip serves excellent fish and chips, the best Scotch eggs I ever had, a tremendous watercress salad and wonderful bangers and mash. The Shepherds Pie is authentic,  made with ground lamb as it should be. I loathe a joint that boasts Shepherds pie and then lists beef as the main ingredient. Query, would that not be Cowboy Pie? Shepherds do not follow cows around right...
 The draft beer list offers great English pours like Bass, Wells Bombardier,Old Speckled Hen, and good Irish selections like Harp, Guinness and Smithwick's. The Black Velvet, a Guinness and hard cider half/half, is my wife's favorite.
 The Whip is a friendly place,warm and sit by the fire with a pint in your mitt, the local jockeys who train at the steeplechase farms in Cochranville are at the bar and you watch English league soccer on the big screens. Housed in an old building, the Whip looks like a country cottage.The wait can be long but it is a fine environment to pass the time.
 After a  brace of  delicious Scotch eggs to start, we hit plates of fish and chips and a Shepherds pie.

We retired to the fireplace bench after dinner for a a last pint..then back into the cold Chester County night for the drive home. A Lehigh victory and dinner at the Whip...a perfect Saturday.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Last Blast

The regular waterfowl season ended on January 26th. However, due to massive overpopulation, the season for Snow Geese is extended to mid-March in some regions. The area where we hunt in Delaware has the extended season. Thus, the boys and I are going out on Tuesday 2/19 for a last blast.
Snow geese descend on the Mid-Atlantic Flyway by the tens of thousands. They destroy fields and contribute to massive erosion in the Arctic Circle where they Summer. Their feeding technique pulls vegetation out at the roots and decimates ground cover. Due to lack of predation and breeding characteristics, the population has exploded such that the Fish & Game authorities want these flocks thinned by hunters.
The problem is, they are hard to hunt. To properly set up for Snows ( or sky-carp as my one red-neck buddy calls them) one needs a spread  between 400 and 1000 decoys. This can be a mix of flags, full bodies or rags...but it takes a lot of effort to scout where the Snows are feeding at any given time and then move a huge rig of decoys to that spot. For this reason, we are going on a guided hunt with Del-Bay guides. I have shot Snow Geese with them before and they do a great job. As shown by these photos, when conditions are favorable, we do hunt and bag snows at our Club...but in order to insure a high probability of success myself and 4 guys from the Club are going the guided route.
When you get the snows coming in you can shoot almost as fast as you can load and it is a ton of fun and very challenging. You know you are doing your part for the ecosystem to thin the flocks and to add a bonus...a snow goose that gets a trip to the smoker is  delicious eating. I am excited to get anther day in the field and hopefully get in a last day of shooting. Once this is done, we have to turn our attention to re-building blinds and maintaining the Club facilities and then fishing until the dove season returns in September.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

St. Valentine

 Because nothing fosters images of a martyred Roman Christian and courtly love like cutesy street crime and huge handguns!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


 The I.O.C.(International Olympic Committee) announced yesterday that wrestling will be dropped as an Olympic sport in the 2020 Summer games. This seems ludicrous and tantamount to heresy. Wrestling, like boxing, is one of the earliest sporting contests. Wrestling is a fundamental combat sport and pits athletes of the highest caliber against one another in a contest of strength, agility, mental toughness and control . Unlike boxing, the goal is not to beat the opponent into submission, but rather to gain control and either out-score or pin the enemy. Wrestling was included in the original games in Ancient Greece- this fact alone should preclude such a move by the I.O.C.
 The sentiments of Socrates about wrestling would seem to say it all. Wrestling is one of the most grueling contests of sport that requires intense stamina, and boundless will and drive. To banish this sport is absurd. And a banishment it is. There is no real professional wrestling...yeah I know there is that comical theater parading as a sport that has amused the howling unwashed for decades. But that is not wrestling. These amazing athletes have college wrestling...then the Olympics and that is it.
 I wrestled as freshmen  in high school( gave it up when Lacrosse took over my passion) and then in intramural matches at Lehigh. You may know that wrestling is a religion at Lehigh and the school has over the years been a powerhouse of champions in the sport. Friday night matches in Grace Hall..".the snake pit" were high decibel crowd scenes with students, professors, and townspeople alike screaming and spilling beer and hoping for a pin by the Engineer mat-men. When I was at Lehigh, Bobby Weaver, a future Olympic Gold medalist, was on the team. He was  man small in stature but with the heart of a lion and the balls of Hercules. As students we were lucky enough to see him take on and beat the best in the country in his drive toward Olympic Gold.

From local wrestling aficionados, the newspapers report that they think the I.O.C. is following the cash. Wrestling is not viewed as a popular sport with the sponsors..but sports like golf...recently added ...are favored by the beer and boots guys who parse out the dough for T.V. 344 wrestlers competed in London in 2012 and the U.S.A has generally been a medal heavy team in wrestling...113 medals..the most of any nation.  Apparently, the I.O.C is considering wakeboarding or competitive "sport" climbing for the next games. These to contests seem like poor fact, I do not even know what the Hell "sport" climbing is....

Monday, February 11, 2013

Fashion Week

I assume my readers...all 11 of them...know it is unlikely that I will be found in some NYC venue sitting beside a runway drooling over suits  that look 3 sizes too small for the wearer. My clothes selections run toward Brooks Brothers suits for my professional days and Cabela's or L.L. Bean or even Duck Commander for my field pursuits.When not working or chasing game I am most comfortable in a pair of Lee jeans, a cotton button down and a Timberland fleece vest with some Bean loafers or Ariat cowboy kicks down below.
Nevertheless, as nod to Fashion Week, I offer these Orvis pants embroidered with Pheasants. I scored them on Ebay  a while back for a price that would make the Affordable Wardrobe guy jealous. A few bucks for tailoring...narrowing and tapering the legs and adjusting the seat...and these heavy cotton bird-adorned beauties were ready for the Lodge.
I recently sported these slacks at an end-of season cocktail party  for one of the shooting clubs to which I belong. It was no fashion Week Runway but the like-minded audience certainly commented with approval.

Friday, February 8, 2013


The weekend forecast here on the Main Line is for some snow. Not the barrage and blizzard expected to hammer points North.We will get a few inches I guess. My wife is in Florida with her girlfriends so she is amused by the looming Winter weather and I am on Dad duty at home.... and the Waterfowl Season (except for Snow Geese) is over.

The radio forecasters were droning on this morning about when and how much. I changed from the weather reports and sat in traffic listening to Corelli on XM...there was a sudden flood of memories of weekend days as a kid in the mid 70's waiting for the snow so we could do some serious sledding.

Sledding took place about 500 yards from my house on the hill at Ashbridge park. This was an old dairy farm from the early 1800's that had been purchased by the township and made into a very nice municipal space. In the center of the grounds was a fairly steep and long hill in the middle of what had been a pasture.

My brothers, myself,  and other guys from the neighborhood would drag the Flexible Flyers from our respective  the basements. A serious application of steel wool would have the metal runners gleaming. We would then pilfer candle stubs from the candlesticks in the dining room in order to wax the  runners.A few drops of 3-in-1 Oil on the metal bars that acted as the steering mechanism would loosen the action from the  dust and rust acquired over the off months.

Next we had to gear up for the cold. This was the mid 70's and we had no Goretex boots or nylon ski pants. You wore Hanes thermal long johns under your Levi's and pulled on about 6 pairs of socks. Next, one grabbed the bread bags my mom saved and pulled them over the  6 pair straight- jacketed feet to supposedly keep out the wet. Little did we know then that the bread bag or newspaper bag really just made your feet sweat and hence made your feet even more cold. Over the bagged feet would go the front zip rubber boots with about a micron of rubberized cotton insulation. This rig was like something from a freezing fox-hole in Bastogne but we were sure we were properly shod for several hours of sledding.Up top was a sweatshirt over a long sleeve Tee and maybe a hand me down "Mighty Mac" or a "P" coat for the cool older guys. Pilled up and holey wool gloves with faux leather palms passed for hand warming.

A fresh piece of brown string thru the holes on the cross piece of the sled  to pull the vehicle and we were down the drive way and off to "The Park." The best times were when the snow was on a weekend and we could go night sledding. We would hit the hill and there would be 20 or 30 kids screaming and laughing, gliding down or walking back up. The candle nubs used on the runners would now be lit behind little snow packed wind-breaks and some of the older guys would be sneaking a smoke. The gloves were useless after 3 runs and your feet were freezing after 5 or 6. But you stayed out. You were 10 or 11 and the cold was scoffed at and you did not want your older brothers and their buddies to call you a candy ass if you packed it in early. We would sled in trains with our thinly gloved hands holding the metal curved back runner of the sled in front.....and wipe each other out and stack 3 on a sled or mount the Flyer backwards or sitting...we would yell at the kids who walked up the middle of the hill instead of the sides. Finally, after your Levi's were soaked thru and your feet were freezing and your hands were numb, you pulled your sled home. On a few a weekend night snow, my Mom would greet us with home made ginger bread with lemon sauce and hot chocolate. The wet gear was piled in the basement and the sleds were against the house. You went to bed hoping it would be cold tomorrow so the sledding would be good again.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Those Were the Days-"Sky Game" (1939)

A short film about the Tabasco King and his waterfowl hunting on Avery Island. Those were the days!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Christmas Village

 The Christmas Market, or Christkindlmarket, has roots in the late Middle Ages in Germany. In towns such as Nuremberg, Farmers would augment their income in the Winter Season by setting up shops in the center of town and selling food and crafts and hand made ornaments. For the past several years, the City of Philadelphia has staged a Christmas Village, opening after Thanksgiving and running until just after Christmas.
 This year, my wife hopped a train into the City to meet me at the office. The Christmas Village is across the street from my building and covers the entirety of J.F.K. Plaza. J.F.K. Plaza is also known as "Love Park" for the iconic LOVE statue featured there. This artwork is the sight of a constant stream of tourists and visitors having there photo taken. The scene is a wonderful blend of festive spirit and Urban creativity.

 In the shadow of City hall, the Christmas Village is filled with stalls selling gifts and crafts and food. It is easy to get nearly all of one's Christmas Shopping done in one afternoon. My daughter took the train home from school and met my wife and I and the two of them knocked off most of their evidenced by the bags.
Meanwhile, I enjoyed this street performer. he was playing excellent Baroque guitar music. I chatted with him briefly and he played a piece from Corelli, one of my favorite composers.We stopped at the Village commissary and enjoyed a German inspired lunch of Weiss-wurst, Kraut, fresh baked pretzels and Strudel, washed down with some delicious German beer. We departed for home with renewed Christmas spirit inspired by the renaissance of this tradition.

Slow Season