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New York moment #788: I took a bribe from a romantic, Ty Cobb-looking asshole

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A while ago I was booked to play music at a private event. It was the type of event that doesn’t need a DJ, but New Yorkers have been duped into believing that any boring art opening, fundraiser, PTA meeting, and Union Square protest can be made exciting if a deejay is playing music in the background.

If it sounds like I’m complaining, I’m not. This is the most over-stimulated city in the world — NYC has more bars, clubs, galleries, and theaters than it knows what to do with — so, when tasked with putting on an event, people go all out. They anxiously try to avoid boring their guests and that = gigs for Yours Truly.

The downside is that, at the non-bar or club-related events, a DJ is no more than an awkward prop. People walk past my DJ booth — usually a wonky table with a corona box stacked on the top — and give me nasty side-eyes. “Remember: you’re making stripper money,” I tell myself. But I can read their mind: “I hate New York. Should I move to LA? No, they give reiki to parrots out there. I’ll just continue to tolerate this, for now.”

But something magical happened at the event I started to tell you about. A man, who looked like Ty Cobb, Donald Trump’s lawyer, came up to me to request a song. He had one of the thickest New York accents I’ve ever heard, and he slammed a 20 dollar bill next to my laptop.

“Hey, buddy, play that slow song by the fella on the radio,” he said. I was already getting paid to play music there, so I didn’t want to take his money, especially because I was not going to be able to decipher who “the fella on the radio” could possibly be.

“You don’t have to pay me,” I told him, “I’ll just play whatever you want, but I need a better description. Which fella are you talking about? How does the song go?”

Ty Cobb in his younger years. He was probably listening to “It’s hip to be square” while doing this shoot.

Dressed in an a gray ’80s-style suit, Ty’s look-alike became flustered. “You know — that fella that’s married to the girl with the red hair. He has that song on the radio right now,” he said. I gave him a blank stare, but he wouldn’t give up: “Hold on. Let me get my wife.”

The man brought his wife, a Latina-looking gal half his age, over to my makeshift booth. She also didn’t know the song, so he started yelling at her: “Well, what the fuck do you want?! I’m a 65-year-old asshole. I can’t remember shit. Come on, baby — you know the fucking song we like.”

The woman was completely unfazed by her distraught husband. She kept smiling at me because, clearly, this wasn’t her first time dealing with her man’s spotty memory, or his outbursts.

“John Legend. My husband is referring to his new song,” she figured out. “Give me a moment to download it,” I told the both of them.

The mustachioed romantic took his wife towards the front of the Corona box-turned booth. A couple of minutes later I played their song and they started to slow-dance. He reclined his head on her shoulder, she put her arms around his back.

I still don’t know what to do with Cobb Copy’s $20. Perhaps I’ll use the bill to buy a whole pie of pizza for a special friend.

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Andrés Cantor, the most important sportscaster of a generation, liked my Tweet

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This past Sunday I logged on to Twitter to see what 45 was up to, and a friend had tweeted a video clip of Andrés Cantor, the Argentine sportscaster, belting an elongated “gooooooool” after Colombia had scored against Poland. I immediately replied with a simple innocuous response acknowledging I grew up listening to him, and his emotion never gets old.

Monday morning I woke up with a notification on my phone: “ANDRES CANTOR liked your reply.” Having worked around celebrities in a previous life, something like this wouldn’t make me  giddy, but this was different. I remember Andrés, along with Norberto Longo, announcing the Italia 1990 World Cup matches on Univision.

At the time, Univision was the only broadcaster airing all the matches, so non-Spanish speakers also got to experience Cantor’s signature phrase.  He made watching the matches so much more exciting. It wasn’t just his particular enunciation, but his narration, which adds nail-biting suspense, and has a way of scrambling one’s feelings.

He knows his audience very well; just this week, during Mexico vs. Sweden, in the last minute of the match, he began to narrate the results of the match, which allowed Mexico to advance to the next stage. His energy matched those of the stadium, as he announced in Spanish: “Korea takes out the champion (Germany), Korea advances Mexico!

OH. MY. GOD. How can you not get caught up in the drama?

It’s not the same, but there have been some improvements with soccer matches called in English. Fox’s F1 has the English language rights for the world cup. They had two Latinos with thick accents announce Mexico vs. Sweden, and they added their own flair with dramatic cadences in English. But it’s Andrés Cantor who has laid the foundation for dramatic futbol game calling.

I remember during the 1998 World Cup, when Mexico played Germany in the round of 16, the match was tied 1-1. Pavel Pardo tried to do some fancy footwork against a German player, and Cantor quickly commented to stop it and not to do this against Germany. I was thinking the SAME thing — what an idiot! That match had me on the edge of my seat, and Cantor read my mind. Mexico ended up losing the match and getting eliminated.

I heard Andrés for the first time during the 1990 World Cup, but it was in 1987 that he was hired at Univision to call the matches for the Liga MX. For most, it wasn’t until the 1994 World Cup that Cantor came into the limelight. He was recognized with several awards, including a regional Emmy and a National Career Achievement Emmy, for his work during the tournament. He even made an appearance on the David Letterman show.

From a 1994 interview in the LA TIMES:

He said his ‘Gooooooaalllll!’ call isn’t really a trademark, and not even unique. That’s the style of the announcers he listened to as a youngster in Argentina.

Andrés Cantor is very much the voice of soccer in the USA. He came up a time when there was only one network broadcasting the World Cup, and he called the matches like the announcers from his childhood. Ultimately he’s written the announcers playbook, and many who’ve come after him have been influenced by his style. Yes, Cantor’s booming voice has become an unmistakable trademark, but for me his observations are just as important. He’s always saying what I’m shouting at the screen, and, apparently, liking my tweets.


Tizoc Schwartz co-wrote a short film on the word ‘Chingar’ and has written other stuff you’ve never heard of.  He’s a carb enthusiast, and dislikes social media.


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Drunkards in the night: A hallway, two keys, and one lasting memory

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Last night I met a student from upstate New York. She was drunk and locked out from the apartment across from mine, which she leased through Airbnb. She was given two keys; one unlocked the front door of the building, the other one unlocked her anxiety, frustration, and some other door elsewhere, but not the front door of her leased apartment.

I asked her if she was okay and she said “yes” with plenty of confidence. I entered my apartment only to be distracted by her weeping a few minutes later. I don’t know my neighbor — I mean, I’ve seen him, we wave at each other. But I don’t know his name and definitely don’t have his number because, well, it’s New York. Not having to speak to your neighbors about pleasantries — or at all — is one of the perks of the city.

I walked back to the hallway and asked the woman, who was in her early twenties, at most, if she had my neighbor’s number. In her state, my question barely registered, so instead I asked for her name, and to unlock her cell phone, which she was fumbling with. “Nawn…cie. Here.” She handed me her phone where, coincidentally, a group text was blowing up on the screen.

I got in on that: “This isn’t Nancy, but a stranger who found your drunk friend in a hallway in the LES. Someone should come get her. She’s locked out.” I offered her a glass of water, but instead she bolted inside my apartment, ran directly towards the toilet, and threw up. She figured out the layout of my place almost instantly, which was very surprising considering her altered state.

After handing her a wad of napkins and the glass of water, Nancy crawled towards the living room. “Sorry. You’re so kind, and decent, I think. I’m from Ithaca. That’s not relevant to this situation, but yeah, I’m from Ithaca,” she explained while climbing on top of an office chair (I don’t have real living room furniture).

Her friend, Rachel, texted back: “OMG. I’ll be there in 20 minutes! Please take care of her.” I relayed the information to my sudden guest. “Well, Nancy. I guess Ithaca rolls pretty hard on Monday nights,” I quipped. “Naw. Just me,” she replied, before adding that she’s a “computer science student.” “Is that relevant to this situation?” I asked. “Yes. There’s nothing wrong with computer science, actually, but my dad forced me to study that. I’m not good at it, so I’m always getting wasted.”

Nancy’s struggle was all kinds of endearing, but it wasn’t my place to dish out advice because 1) she didn’t ask for it, and 2) she already knew shit was wrong, but simply decided to deal with it in an unhealthy, self-destructive way, just like most young people. It’s actually an important stepping stone in youth, the kind that simply needs to play out.

Rachel finally showed up, adding: “Thanks for taking care of her. We didn’t think she was this drunk when she left the bar.” Still woozy, Nancy looked in my general direction before she left, and mentioned a parting gift. “It’s next to your toothbrush. Thanks, dude.”

She left a memory — yeah, figuratively, but also literally. A 4 gigabyte Samsung DDR3 RAM laptop memory module.

Nancy’s funny. Nancy’s gonna be alright.

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