Homers, Dunks and TKO’s

My father gave the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.
Jim Valvano

If I took PED’s at Sleepaway Camp. I would’ve struck out with more accelerated speed. PED’s make you stronger but they don’t come with a no choker guarantee. Nor do PED’s automatically deliver Kate Hudson on top of your lap, to tap for an overdue power surge against the Phillies in 2009 World Series.


So, what does A Rod coming to life after banging Kate Hudson in her prime have to do with Homers, Dunks and TKO’s? Or Kate Hudson trying to make her ex-husband Chris Robinson, lead singer songwriter of the Black Crows jealous again? Which is hard to do when you’re good enough to make a record from your sold out shows at the Greek Theatre, playing nothing but Led Zeppelin covers with Jimmy Page.  It comes down to confidence. And what I’ve learned in life is the only way to develop confidence is from the forward propelled thrust of momentum powered winning.
Growing up, I never had conversations with my dad about how Larry Bird was a Gym Rat who lived in the gym, or how Michael Jordan kept his work out routines top secret to maintain his competitive edge. All I recall hearing from my dad who did coach me in basketball throughout elementary school if you want to call it coaching, is to get out of the way for Carmine to take the last shot.


Carmine was a way better ballhandler and shooter than me and one year older, but he also wasn’t my son. It wouldn’t have been nice to have a dad who pushed me to take the last shot, instead of defining me as a soft choker. Incapable of becoming a true Alpha Male on the court due to my tendency to prance down the court on my tippy toes. Looking like I was rocking high heels instead of high tops.
If LaVar Ball was my coach dad growing up, he’d offer Rihanna future profit participation points in exchange for hooking up my knock-kneed ass, so I’d feel like a bigger baller inside. He’d throw a spin the bottle house party in my honor. And only invite stuck up Jenny from the Block. 2 minutes into the party, Lavar Ball, my substitute, coach dad, barks at Jenny. “The Yahoo bottle, doesn’t spin itself bitch.” I never had the opportunity to perform that bit at the Apollo Theatre for its amateur showcase audition because I showed up later than the 300 Michael Jackson impersonators before me. Had no idea there was a number cut off for the open call auditions. I would’ve showed up earlier but my wife needed to sleep because she worked the night before at the hospital. And 3 kids aren’t old enough to babysit themselves yet. My 1st moral parenting stance was insisting my daughter only watch Woody Allen films which were made pre-Soon-Yi and only listen to Michael Jackson songs released pre-Jackson 5. Then, my pedophile neutralized playlist rule was more black and white.
Carmine’s father coached his 1st born son in football and turned him into a beast on the football field and hardwood floor. Carmine never hesitated or questioned his ability to drive to the hoop into heavy traffic, draw contact and score with resounding, Raging Bull authority. And on the football field nobody hit harder with more technically sound, wrap both arms around the hip’s proficiency, as he drove you into the ground like a welter weight Dick Butkus more than Carmine did. Thing is, Carmine was a sweet, Italian kid off the sports battlefield who wasn’t a bully Guido at all. Guido’s don’t get enough credit for being the 1st Metrosexuals of their time but I digress.
I haven’t thought about Carmine in ages, especially his dad, who was the closest thing to a cigar chomping, clone of Vince Lombardi mixed with the bravado panache of a more imposing, barrel chested Pat Cooper. He’s an old school Italian Catskills comic who still appears on the Howard Stern show. He’s the Italian Don Rickles minus the career but a living legend, worth seeing before he chokes on his Pasta Fungoo, nonetheless. I’m a Jewish New Yorker so it’s my birthright to bust balls. Plus, according to my wife I’m a shitty actor and a wise ass Jewish New Yorker doing a wise ass Italian New Yorker isn’t a stretch, nor does it require much reconfigured, accent accentuation to pull it off  the limited  character transformation either.

Back to Carmine’s coach Dad, who was very intense on the sidelines of football games. Basketball wasn’t his real love because I don’t remember his dad attending any games at all, despite Carmine being the best clutch baller on our Rec basketball team by far. Football was his father’s love, so Carmine’s father poured his heart and soul into turning his 1st born and only son into a pounding, winning machine. Who left all his blood sweat and tears on the field.


Carmine oozed a passion for winning which was more palpable than most. The hunger and drive to exert his will and dominate anyone who got in his way was a thing of beauty to behold. I want my 3 kid’s to be in the game, not so it will look good on their college resume. I want them to be in the game because they live for taking the game winner. I want them to shoulder the responsibility of winning and push others to become clutch leaders in big moments themselves. I want my kids to believe in their ability to will a way to win, regardless of what ailment plagues them like when Jordan beat the Utah Jazz for his 6th NBA ring despite playing with a debilitating, draining case of the flu. Hillary couldn’t even make it to a campaign rally in Wisconsin because of her nervous coughing fits of despair. I want my kids to get addicted to winning. So, they become hungrier for bigger, meatier conquests to conquer with all their fighting might.

I tend to be very hard on myself for not doing standup comedy earlier or not getting involved in my radio station at Ithaca College because I had a radio show my sophomore year when I attended Lake Forest College, on the North Shore of Illinois prior. Reality is, I was a major stoner at Lake Forest whose roommate was an even bigger stoner from the Big Island of Hawaii. Kowal was Chinese American and cousins with Bette Midler. Which makes sense, because he’d get a tad hysterical yentaish Freshman year of college. Bitching non-stop about the low quality of commercial Midwest weed, he was blowing a mini-fortune on at college compared to the higher quality, cleaner tasting, longer lasting, Maui Wowie dreaming. Sophomore year, Kowal had his kid brother mail him the primo 70 dollar an eighth-crystal specked green delight in peanut butter jars from home. Which Kowal later mixed with Moroccan Hash, courtesy of Bora and Kappa. Who smuggled in their hash from Turkey in swallowed up plastic bags, forgoing the price of paying a drug mule for the handling cost of delivery. In short, my brain was fried constantly, sophomore year in college. As a direct result, of playing perpetual catch up from both spending one more extra day in Mardi Gras than I should in addition to mixing, the strongest strains of THC on this planet on a daily basis for the entire school year. Plus, I did zero preparation for my radio show, thinking playing a 22-minute Whipping Post by the Allman’s at Filmore East was a wonderful use of my time there to work on my craft knowing I only had 30 minutes of air time for myself on the campus radio station mike in the 1st place.
As I explain to my kids, I half-assed my radio show at Lake Forrest College. I should’ve shown more pride in my work but add that to the list of things my dad never talked to me about growing up. But you only take pride in your work when you care about doing the job good. And that’s hard to accomplish, when you’re smoking 70 dollar an eighth weed on school nights where after only 1 hit. The entire movie Pink Floyd Wall, flies by like that and you feel like you comprehended everything and all its meanings but not really.

Still, one day at Lake Forest College on my radio show, I did try something different with a vein of humor, involving the Gamma Roe Sorority and shaving cream. Which was a pretty ballsy move on my part in retrospect because it’s not as if I was face deep in high grade Gamma Roe puss. Sure, I hooked up with a striking looking Ecuadorian gal Edna in addition to a real cute, hippie pothead Nicole who was friends with those sorierty sisters but this was the extent of me putting my MOJO imprint on top of the Lake Forrest College map. Before I finally lost my virginity, but not really at 1st because I couldn’t squeeze into the traditional hole of choice, which never felt lubricated enough, nor would I dare to watch my surging manhood disintegrate in my own hands, from putting a condom on the wrong way again. Unfortunately, this upper classman musician as cool as she was with her Rocket Queen pierced nipples, wasn’t the one known for putting condoms on by the skin of her teeth.


Look, I understand most boys to men fumble with a condom for the 1st time in the process of losing their virginity. Still, having some semblance of a winning streak with any girls in high school prior would’ve provided much needed momentous might in this instance. Or if my dad pushed me to sign up for Kung Fu lessons in Junior High. I’d be a more centered, less fretful putzy of a Jew at 20 years old. And at the time, not feel like such a stupid, useless jerkoff in the presence of a willing, busty, giving upperclassman, ready to pounce and make my wet dreams come true.

I’m not drinking beer until I achieve my target weight of 195 pounds, JJ Reddick’s playing weight in college for Kansas. I’m 6’4 like him and now down to 205 at 42 years of age. And I would get asked for ID when I was still drinking beer, out with my 3 kids, no less. Which made me feel like a teen mom dropout from Tallahassee. Recruiters find me on LinkedIn under Crystal Meth Homemaker. Come to think of I should go back to school like Rodney after all.
When I got married eight years ago, I weighed 230. How did I become a such a bloated, pasty, over the hill hipster conjuring hack in the making? Thinking I was deep enough to handle drinking fine Kentucky Bourbon in my late thirties on top of sucking down endless double IPA’s for aperitif topers didn’t help. My reason for losing the remainder of my past binge drinking weight is to show my kids the importance of taking pride in your appearance. Which is taking pride in your brain also, because the 2 are interconnected. I saw a camcorder video at a friend’s house with me in the outfield for Pee Wee league picking my nose, looking like the most ineffectual, lost boy loser on the planet. How my parents allowed me to develop into such a useless sloth is beyond me.

Now, I’m abstaining from my cherished IPA’s till I get down to my target launch weight, so I can dunk out in front of my 3 kids like an old school Tom Chambers with resounding, divine powered, authority. Dunking on the hoop this summer at the park with a kid’s ball that isn’t regulation size doesn’t count. I’m losing this remaining weight, so I can reclaim and reassert my manhood on a far bigger scale than ever before. Proving to my children’s it’s never too late to shine. Proving to them, prides on my side. Proving how it’s never too late drop-dead weight from your life in order to fly.
Watching my 7-year-old daughter launch another whiffle ball long and hard against the back of our humble abode as she rides the bull on our yellow whiffle bat is a thing of beauty to behold. Watching my 4-year-old son Art Show USA whiz catchable Johnnie U tight spirals down from the stairwell from a mini football into my arms again and again this morning, was a better feeling than pure E kicking in. My 20-month-old Samuel mimicking pushups downstairs on our new Rocky Rug, resembling more of a Downward Dog dry hump will soften the most hardened of hearts, Hillary Hammer Time Cankles excluded.

Both of my son’s said ball for their 1st words because they spent so much time at the park with their stay at home comedian dad. For Matilda it was dada. The role of Life Coach for my 3 kids is by far the most empowering role of a lifetime like Robert Downey Junior as Iron Man before he started acting funnier than he actually is in real life.
All 3 of my kids listen to me because they respect me. They listen to me because they see the positive results of my tutelage. Matilda conquers every new set of Monkey Bars with relentless, making them her bitch every time ease. Arthur is now doing the same nor was he threading tight spirals of any kind prior. Samuel is already doing 5-pound Kettle Bell raises at 20 months old, freaking multitasking as we’re watching the Goldberg’s, on Hulu, reliving my age of innocence as family together as one.
In the past episode of the Goldberg’s, Wonder Years for Gen X, basically my pitch for my pilot trilogy Heavy Metal High that I pitched to VH1 Classic, except Dice plays my imaginary life coach whenever my manhood is under siege again. So, in the Goldberg’s, great show by the way, tremendous writing in it, the father pushes his son to get into shape, so he can do a pull-up for the new national fitness test instituted by Ronald Regan. At first, his mom gets a letter from the President excusing him. In the end, the nerd kid in love with movies like Red Dawn, does the chin-up and gets commended by the coach for a job well done. The father watches this all go down from the door of the gym, pumping his hands up in triumphant victory. He gave his son the gift of believing in him. Plus, he gave his son the gift of getting him addicted to winning so he’d become hungry for more. Homer’s, Dunks, and TKO’s won’t be in the kid’s future, but greater confidence in himself to overcome past paralyzing obstacles built up in his head will.


John Wooden, hall of fame coach of UCLA Bruins says, “Failing to prepare, is preparing to fail.” And that job is on me, being the involved do it dad that I am. As a father, if you can’t get excited about your role as life coach over your kid’s education to ensure they become more big time than you. Then, you’re self-serving, miserable cunt who I want nothing to do with ever. I’m making sure my kids are prepared to know what hard work and self-belief is necessary to become winners and bigger, bolder, better dream maker, shot callers than the rest.
The End
Michael Kornbluth

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