It was a regular radio day. The last for a while.
I didn’t go back to bed, so I was for once wide awake for the show. I stood outside on Indianapolis Boulevard and yelled at big trucks and sang an old Carpenters song. The guy who drives the Sun Chips truck dropped off a giant bag of Doritos and Cheetos. Too bad I hadn’t just been to Wampum. Just what the doctor ordered.
During sectionals, we're gonna give it all we got.
I interviewed an Andrean High School kid who hit a really long 3-pointer to beat Bishop Noll in overtime on Friday. His name is James Hudson. He played the whole game without a basket and then at the penultimate moment, he heaves the ball 30 feet and swish. We caught the moment on Facebook Live.
“Nice shot, James. But what kind of grades do you get?”
“Pretty good this semester. And last semester, too. I want to go into sports medicine.”
After that, I intereviewed Dan Carden of the Times. Dan’s down in Indianapolis where they make the laws that control us here three hours away. It looks like next Sunday you’ll be able to buy beer in Lake County. I never buy beer on Sundays anymore. But I used to.
I used to cross the state line to wait for the 7am liquor store to open. Those were long nights, long bouts with the substances and dreams of a world gone by. Dogs live and die in the time I time travelled the world and back again to make it to the parking lot of Santori’s Liquors by 7am.
“Hi, Marge. How’s it going?” I'd say to the woman unlocking the door.
“Fine. And you?”
After interviewing Dan Carden this morning, the journalist in Indianapolis, my childhood chump Billy Baker came in. We had to talk serious for 20 minutes. Baker is president of the Little Calumet River Commission, and we just had a really big rain. He had to explain the commission’s response and what’s being done in hope that we don’t have a big flood one day.
“Five gallons of water in a five gallon bucket,” Baker said.
I’ve basically lived a couple blocks from the Little Calumet River my whole life, in Munster, Griffith, and Hammond, Indiana. It’s not a bad river. There’s birds and a few fish and a really cool bike path that runs alongside it.
But when I was a kid, the water was black tar. Once I fell in and came home and my mom hosed me down in the backyard in my underwear. Didn’t work. I still smelled like someone rubbed dog crap all over my skin then baked me in the oven with sauer kraut and cocktail wienies.
Now, if you fall in, you just gotta worry about bacteria crawling in your orifices. You can close your mouth and plug your nose, but you can’t close your ears, your butt, and, you know.
Baker provided a rather unsophisticated description of what happened last week. But Mr. Ron Hunter, my Little League coach, provided much more precise measurements. Mr. Hunter knows more about the river and the terrain of Lake County and the nearby suburbs of Chicago across the state line than any man alive. He’s a retired engineer, so forgive his exactitude.
JED FYI. The USGS reported peak flow rate behind my house was as follows:
2330 cubic feet / second x 7.48 gallons /cubic foot x 60sec / min= 1,045,704 gallons/minute ! This means that each one of the largest BP storage tanks in Whiting (2,000,000 gallons I believe ) could be filled in 1.9 minutes with the water flowing in Hart ditch behind my house at the peak flow rate !!!! The flow rate in Hart ditch at Munster was over 50% higher and could fill that same 2,000,000 gal BP storage tank in 1.3 minutes!!! The volume of water flowing into the Little Cal from Illinois, Dyer, Schererville, Highland and Munster is really incredible for such a small stream to handle within its now confined banks ! Thought you should know
I wish I could think like Mr. Hunter, my Little League coach. Or John Friend, my high school football coach. Or my dad, who coached my Catholic gradeschool basketball team. I have been presented with copious examples of how to live with discipline and organization. Yet I choose for each moment to topple over the next. I wait silently for the strength to hand my soul over to routine. It hasn’t happened yet.
After Baker left, I drove to hot yoga and, while I waited, I sat in the car and studied for an upcoming Marketing midterm. I’m learning about product development and Customer Lifetime Value. You wouldn’t think it, but I’m getting off on this stuff like you wouldn’t believe. I may not have found discipline and organization, but I have found Marketing and Accounting. It’s as if I’m trying to live up to a vision of myself that will come to fruition right after I die.
You’ve got to help me see the light
of the tunnel that won’t go away.
If you’ll hold my hand, maybe we
could make chocolate chip
On the other hand, maybe we could
stay together too long. We might
eventually pass each other on
the street and not say a thing.
If there was a warm wind in
March, I’d follow it to the end
of the world. I hate winter so
much that by the time grass
takes hold, I wanna get a
halrcut by pulling it out
all over my head.
Despite the confusion, for some
reason I only have the desire
to hold one hand. It’s been that
way for a long time. I fell hopelessly
in love with brown skin and
a wicked sense of humor. When
she’s not around, I certainly
long for something. I’m not
sure if it’s the rolling around
or the laughing.
Actually, it's both.
At 11am, I taught Sports Broadcasting class. Nine of the ten students showed up. They’re in for a real challenge this week, by the way.
I’m trying to give them some “real life experience.” I put that in quotation because that’s the marketing tag line that Purdue Northwest uses for their “experiential learning." You can turn on my radio stations right now and hear it within the hour.
The students are coming out with the WJOB broadcasting team this week. It’s sectionals. That’s a really big deal in Indiana. We’ve all been packed into our houses all winter. Once in a while, we get outside to shovel some snow and walk to our cars. But on the whole, we punch ourselves in the face regularly for not moving to Arizona or Florida when we had the chance.
By now, we’re all stuck. We are Region Rats. There's nothing we can do about this.
This feeling of negativity toward my homeland will go away as soon as the sun comes out and it's 65 degrees. I’ll go for a bike ride along the Little Cal and wind up at the hill where my sister lives on one side of the street and my brother on the other. Their kids will be outside playing catch or kicking a ball or, now that they’re teenagers, sitting on the lawn looking at their phones. I’ll wrestle up a couple, make sure to give each of the six some attention, and then leave as quickly as I arrived. I will ride home into a purple sunset with one thing on my mind -
“Wow. This is the greatest place in the world to live.”
But that feeling never comes never comes before the Indiana high school boys basketball tournament. In my mind, the reason that this tournament is known the world over is that it gives us hope.
Sure, boys play as hard as they can. Cheerleaders lead blocks of students with painted faces. Refs keep order. The ladies behind the metal counter sell popcorn. The principal sniffs for alcohol on two known miscreants. All of this is part of the scene. But it doesn’t explain the exultation we feel when sectionals finally arrives.
It’s because we know that by the time the tournament is over, the sun is gonna come out and we’re not gonna hate this place again. You watch. In a couple weeks, if I’m still alive, I’ll write to the three or four of you how great it is to live in northwest Indiana on the shores of Lake Michigan.
After class, I drove to Lake Central High School. Ben Cowert, the video guy, and I met with the athletic director Chris Eyeart. LC has an amazing new gymnasium and decent internet. We’ll be broadcasting from four sites in Facebook Live video. We will have problems at at least one site. I sure as hell hope it’s not Lake Central, because that’s where I’ll be.
Tuesday, 7pm – Morton vs. Highland.
Wednesday, 6pm – Crown Point vs. Lake Central
Wednesday, 7:30pm – Munster vs. Lowell.
Friday – two games.
Saturday – championship.
That’s a lot of talking into a microphone. I’ll talk in the morning and I’ll talk at night and hopefully in between I’ll write this blog to the three of four of you. That’s because radio is good and pure and beautiful, and so is sectionals.
At Lake Central, I ran into Joe Huppenthal. He’s the Lake Central girls coach who used to hang out in South Bend with my cousin, Scott Francoeur. Don’t hold that against Hupp, by the way.
At 3pm, I met with
- Rick Costello, the athletic director at Purdue Northwest.
- Rob Huizenga, the assistant AD
- Ben Cowert, video wunderkind extraordinaire
We talked about the PNW basketball games we streamed in video over the course of the winter. The long, long winter. Now, baseball and softball are coming and we made plans for that. Expect a lot of sitting at Dowling Park on 35-degree days with 35-mile-an-hour winds off Lake Michigan. That’s when you earn your stripes as a broadcaster and a Region Rat.
After the powwow with Costello, I went across campus to the WJOB studios. Shamari Walker, the junior at Gavit who works for us, won $5,000 over the weekend for being “young entrepreneur of the year” in Chicago. You could see the ceremony on Facebook. Our afternoon host Ron Harlow interviewed the rather sheepish Shamari about the award.
“Great job on the award. Now as soon as you’re done wallowing in the success, start researching how we can educate people about Facebook Live.”
Shamari, amidst his glory, came up with an idea.
“Why don’t I write a marketplace where companies can go to buy Facebook Live ads directly on the internet?”
Great idea, Shamari. Now get it done
It’s 7:52pm. I’m sitting in bed writing with little poodle cuddling up to my right leg. My wife pages through Netflix. It is warm in this bedroom. I get to announce six Indiana high school sectional games this week. Shamari won five grand. Alexis brought us a little bowl of popcorn. And I already took the garbage out for tomorrow.
I am the luckiest man in the world.