April 29, 2015

“And when a defining moment comes along, you define the moment or the moment defines you.” — Roy McAvoy, Tin Cup

I wonder if modern-day liberalism’s defining moment has come with the riots and mayhem this week in Baltimore. It was easy for liberals everywhere decried the white power structure in place in Ferguson during the riots there; how do they now explain the same thing happening in a city where the power structure, from the mayor on down to the majority of the police force, is black? What happens then? And what does it mean that the governor of Maryland, a white Republican, had to step in and take the necessary measures to restore law and order to Baltimore’s streets?

What it tells me is that in this particular case it’s about time the grown-ups finally showed up and rescued a mayor who was clearly in over her liberalism-clouded head. And about time all the tired “Racism!” excuses don’t apply when it comes to the systemic misery of Baltimore’s African-American community. And about time that liberals have run out of excuses for what’s happening not just in Baltimore, but in the nation’s largest cities where, by and large, Democrats – black and white – have ruled the roost for decades.

The writers at National Review Online’s Corner blog have been on fire this week, starting with Kevin Williamson’s blistering indictment of liberalism as applied to the nation’s major cities. Here are just a few excerpts:

American cities are by and large Democratic-party monopolies, monopolies generally dominated by the so-called progressive wing of the party. The results have been catastrophic, and not only in poor black cities such as Baltimore and Detroit. Money can paper over some of the defects of progressivism in rich, white cities such as Portland and San Francisco, but those are pretty awful places to be non-white and non-rich, too: Blacks make up barely 9 percent of the population in San Francisco, but they represent 40 percent of those arrested for murder, and they are arrested for drug offenses at ten times their share of the population. Criminals make their own choices, sure, but you want to take a look at the racial disparity in educational outcomes and tell me that those low-income nine-year-olds in Wisconsin just need to buck up and bootstrap it?

And this:

Yes, Baltimore seems to have some police problems. But let us be clear about whose fecklessness and dishonesty we are talking about here: No Republican, and certainly no conservative, has left so much as a thumbprint on the public institutions of Baltimore in a generation. Baltimore’s police department is, like Detroit’s economy and Atlanta’s schools, the product of the progressive wing of the Democratic party enabled in no small part by black identity politics. This is entirely a left-wing project, and a Democratic-party project.

He closes out his post with this:

The evidence suggests very strongly that the left-wing, Democratic claques that run a great many American cities — particularly the poor and black cities — are not capable of running a school system or a police department. They are incompetent, they are corrupt, and they are breathtakingly arrogant. Cleveland, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore — this is what Democrats do. And the kids in the street screaming about “inequality”? Somebody should tell them that the locale in these United States with the least economic inequality is Utah, i.e. the state farthest away from the reach of the people who run Baltimore.

If you’re willing to have your eyes opened I invite you to read the whole thing.

There is also this entry by Jay Nordlinger, who pushes back against the incredibly tepid response from Baltimore’s mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, whose soft response to the original violence created a mile-wide opening for a highly- organized group of agitators to make their move on Monday night:

At the first sign of lawbreaking — particularly of the violent sort — society must say No. Not one brick, not one store window. There is no excuse. To excuse lawbreaking is not compassionate, it is cruel (to all concerned). Where I’m from, the worst thing you could be was a Republican or conservative. I mean, it was terribly uncool. But life forced me into it — into conservative Republicanism. I saw that contemporary liberalism was sick at its core. I see it in Baltimore, and the responses to it, now.

Which is why Maryland’s newly-elected Republican governor, Larry Hogan, did absolutely the right thing by authorizing overwhelming force to combat the lawlessness the mayor seemed oh-so-willing to tolerate on Sunday and Monday.

The events in Baltimore should be a defining moment for liberalism and the damage wrought following a half-century of big government programs, liberal ideals and Democrat politicians so concerned about the so-called poor. I’ve written to the point of ad nauseum about how liberalism in general, and the Democratic Party in particular is no friend to African-Americans. Its targeting of so-called “entitlement programs” to the African-American community has reduced self-reliance and increased its dependence on federal and state government programs. It actively works to undercut the Christian religion which was once the social and moral center of the African-American community. Its expansion of abortion and promotion of “abortion on demand” has had a disproportionate impact on African-American generations. Its teachers unions fight every proposal designed to give African-American parents more choice and rescue their children out of failing inner-city schools. It seeks to reward illegal immigration in all of its forms, thus ensuring the country and our inner cities will be flooded with more unskilled labor, making it even harder for African-Americans to find work.

That, my friends, is today’s Democratic Party and the liberalism it espouses.

And if you even dare to call them out on this they’ll call you a racist, then play the race card to its fullest extent to get African-Americans to the polls and pull that lever for Democrats.

Modern-day liberalism, and by its extension today’s Democratic Party, is a virtual cancer on American society and the values that has made America unique in the world. You can’t and won’t eradicate it, but you can fight it with everything you have. And it’s time for the African-American community to take its place in that fight.

They say the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. Until the African-American community stops casting their lots with the likes of Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, the NAACP, and the Democratic Party – not to mention liberalism in general – there is little hope that anything will change.

Maybe, just maybe, the events this week in Baltimore will become a defining moment where the insanity can finally be recognized for what it is.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 21:44 | Comments (0)
April 28, 2015

The next-to-last of The Great White Shank’s great music collections is underway, I’m calling it “Mood Indigo”.**

The concept for “Mood Indigo” came to me while in the process of building my awesome “Palm Springs Lounge Lizard” collection. Just as the latter is designed to be hip and groovy late ’50s – mid-’60s style perfect for martinis and highballs on the patio, Mood Indigo is music for later on: those late, late nights when all your friends have left and you’re alone. And not just alone with your thoughts, but alone and lonely – “In The Wee Small Hours” alone and lonely.

The idea came to me while I was uploading my Sinatra “Capital Years” and “Reprise Years” CDs – along with all those great swingin’ “Ring a Ding-Ding”-style tracks there were so many great tracks resulting from his work with Nelson Riddle and Gordon Jenkins that were melancholy and moody. What to do with those? So the thought occurred to me (I was in a very creative mood that night) – why not make the backbone of “Mood Indigo” those great Frank Sinatra concept albums In The Wee Small Hours (1955), Where Are You (1957), Frank Sinatra Sings For Only The Lonely (1958), and No One Cares (1959), several tracks from Cycles (1968), plus some classic Jackie Gleason albums like Music For Lovers Only, Music, Martinis, and Memories (1954), and Music To Make You Misty (1957).

Jackie Gleason? you might be asking. Well, Gleason happened to be one heck of a band leader, and I can vividly remember as a kid being over at my Auntie Marge and Uncle Don’s house and seeing (and I think listening to) a couple of his albums in their collection. (Funny what you remember growing up!) And then there was the Jackie Gleason Show with that fantastic black-and-white opening shot of the camera moving swiftly across the water towards the Miami Beach skyline – it seemed so exotic! Anyways, Gleason made some wonderful instrumental albums perfect as background music playing while you’re romancing a girl in the sunken livingroom of your hip bachelor pad, the city lights framing the night outside your picture window.

But moody, melancholy, and romantic isn’t restricted to Jackie and Frank and the music of their era; “Mood Indigo” features a bunch of stuff by The Beach Boys and Dennis Wilson – stuff like this and this and this – Dennis and brother Brian were aces at writing beautiful and moody stuff. You take all that and add in a melancholy Joplin tune, this Andy Williams classic, this Herb Alpert gem, The Flamingos “I Only Have Eyes For You”, The Inkspots’ “I Cover The Waterfront”, this “The Big Easy” soundtrack tune, and any other music that seems especially suited to a lonely place, and you’re off and running.

Take The Band’s “Out Of The Blue”, for instance – it’s one of my favorite “torch songs” of all time. And it’s not just Robbie Robertson’s heartfelt delivery, consider some of these lyrics – they’re positively timeless; one can easily imagine the likes of Sammy Cahn writing them for Frank:

Well, it’s in the cards
It’s written in the stars
It’s in the wee-wee hours
In some lonely bar

If she don’t stay up all night
And walk the floor
She knows damn well
I’ll be coming back for more

…or Neil Diamond’s “Lady-Oh” (like “Out Of The Blue”, produced by Robertson) – it’s a torch song of the highest magnitude, hearkening back to my late teens and early twenties when, like most guys my age, I was falling in and out of love and getting all bruised and battered while doing so.

Lady-oh, Lady-oh, I walked the streets again last night.
I saw you in the city light like a vision, Lady-oh.
Lady I, Lady I, I’ve been waitin’ around such a long long time
believin’ I could make you mine, just wanting you Lady-oh.

But here I am and there you are, much too far to even hear me.
Hurts a lot, you know it does, it hurts a lot.
Oh, Lady-oh, am I gonna ever learn what I never learned before?

City lights, city lights burn so warm and they burn so bright,
but me, I walk the city night to forget you, Lady-oh.

And that’s just an small example of the collection of music I’ve gathered thus far. “Mood Indigo” is more than it started out to be with Frank and Jackie; I find it’s become the perfect repository for all the songs I’ve ever heard that have held a special place in my heart and memory during times when I was alone and lonely – in some ways this collection has become a sort of “music of my life”. I’m really proud of “Mood Indigo” – it’s becoming quite the special collection.

——————–

** I’ve got one more collection in mind – Zydeco and bayou blues music. I’ve got the music, I just need a good title.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:02 | Comments (4)
April 27, 2015

It’s been more than three months since I announced my next great music collection, Palm Springs Lounge Lizard, and I’m pleased to report that, while there’s still a fair ways to go before it’s completed, good progress has been made. As mentioned in the announcement, everything starts with swingin’, up-tempo tracks from Frank Sinatra’s “Capital Years” and “Reprise Years” collections (like these) and the Ultra-Lounge series of hip groovin’ 1950s / 60s songs perfect for swingin’ back yard parties on the patio.

I haven’t even gotten to the Ultra-Lounge discs yet and already I’m totally stoked about the songs in this collection. Nelson Riddle’s “Theme From Route 66″ led me to Nat King Cole’s classic. And how can you have Frank’s “Strangers In The Night” and not have Dean Martin’s “Everybody Loves Somebody”? And then you have these really groovin’ ’60s instrumentals like this and this – I mean, how cool can one cat get?

In addition to the above, I’ve found plenty of cuts by the Tiki Lounge Crew, the Martini Kings, and the Tikiyaki Orchestra (live versions of their “Bachelor No. 1″ and “Bachelor No. 3″ tracks from their Aloha Baby! release here).

From the samples above you know where this collection is going. Music perfect for martinis and high-balls on the patio in a “Pleasant Valley Sunday”-esque subdivision where life is easy and the music reflects a laid-back, optimistic (or escapist) world-view. I’m hoping for an official May 1 release – now that the pool is just degrees away from swimmable and the patio all cleaned and painted, all that’s left is to replace the Tiki bar’s roof and clean up that area and we’ll be ready for another summer in the Valley of the Sun! And with “Palm Springs Lounge Lizard” completed, you can bet the summer launch will be one groovin’ affair!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:45 | Comments (0)
April 24, 2015

…because when you haven’t anything to say, a picture speaks more than a thousand words:

BTW, the locals Fry’s had veal cutlets tonight for the first time all year.

I bought three packages.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:40 | Comments (0)
April 23, 2015

Sad to hear of Jack Rieley’s passing. Unless you were a devotee of The Beach Boys and their vastly underrated work in the early ’70s, you wouldn’t know who Rieley was, but rest assured he was a very important player in the band’s history, guiding their resurgence following their post-SMiLE late ’60s meltdown.

Brought in by the band with the expressed purpose of making the band “hip” again, under Rieley’s tutelage the Beach Boys turned out some amazing progressive rock in those early ’70s / early FM days: albums like Surf’s Up, Carl and the Passions – “So Tough”, and Holland were not just great albums, but the albums that hooked my brother Mark and I on The Beach Boys to begin with. Rieley’s collaboration with Brian Wilson on “A Day in the Life of a Tree” from Surf’s Up stands as one of the band’s understated masterpieces. As Brian Wilson wrote on his Facebook page upon hearing of Reiley’s passing:

I’m sad to hear about Jack Rieley passing away last Friday. Jack was our manager in the early 1970s and helped us a lot. He wrote the lyrics for “A Day in the Life of a Tree” which blew me away. I also had Jack sing the lead on that one because his voice seemed to fit the song. Jack was a real force on our “Surf’s Up” and “Holland” albums and I’ll always remember his kindness.

He also co-wrote a couple of the band’s finest works at that time: Long Promised Road from Surf’s Up, and Marcella, from Carl and The Passions. He might have been a little strange and eccentric, but he played an absolutely critical role in the band’s history. May he rest in peace.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:55 | Comments (0)
April 22, 2015

Funny the things that pop into your mind while you’re shaving. For whatever reason I was just doing a post-shower constitutional when it popped into my mind that there can’t be two popular songs in the history of mankind that have the same title, and are equally as good, as “Learning To Fly”.

Here’s Tom Petty’s version.

Well, some say life will beat you down
Break your heart, steal your crown
So I’ve started out for God knows where
I guess I’ll know when I get there

I’m learning to fly around the clouds
But what goes up must come down

Here’s Pink Floyd’s version.

Above the planet on a wing and a prayer,
My grubby halo, a vapour trail in the empty air,
Across the clouds I see my shadow fly
Out of the corner of my watering eye
A dream unthreatened by the morning light
Could blow this soul right through the roof of the night

There’s no sensation to compare with this
Suspended animation, a state of bliss
Can’t keep my mind from the circling skies
Tongue-tied and twisted just an earth-bound misfit, I

I think I’ll take Pink Floyd’s by a nose – especially given the lyrical wordplay, which are amongst the best the Floyd ever conjured up – but both are equally good, don’t you think? Same holds true for the videos that go with them.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:15 | Comments (0)
April 21, 2015

Hello again, Goodboys Nation weblog afficianados! Rich Lerner from Golf Channel here. I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of our Masters Week sit-down with Doug “The Great White Shank” Richard and his unique preparations for the 2015 Goodboys Invitational that includes yet another (and I’m sure he hopes the last) re-tooling of his golf swing. At that time, we were joined by those most responsible for these changes: Tony Bate, TGWS’s fitness instructor who provided the impetus for TGWS to get in shape and completely transform his swing, Hunter Mahan, six-time PGA Tour winner whose article in the February 2015 edition of GOLF Magazine provided the model for TGWS’s swing reconstruction, and Brady Riggs, a Top 100 GOLF Magazine instructor out of Woodley Lakes G.C. who serves as TGWS’s downswing instructor. Here is Part 2 of that interview, I hope you enjoy it.

RL: It seems that your commitment to getting in shape played a significant role in your decision to completely change your golf swing. What’s a typical week at the gym like?

TGWS: Typically, it’s a Tuesday / Thursday / Saturday kind of thing. Fifty-minute workouts that all start with a five-minute warm-up on the stationary bike followed by fifty simulated golf swings on the Bosu ball before I concentrate on a particular body area. On Tuesdays it’s focusing on my upper-body, mixing free weights with Cybex machines. Thursday is all lower body: two ten-minutes sessions on the Stairmaster bookending sets of calf raises, hip abduction, leg curls and leg extensions. Saturdays are core days with various exercises targeting my midsection – weighted pulls and turns, lunges, crunches. Unlike Tiger, I can tell you my glutes are always firing! [All laugh]

…It’s a lifestyle change – you know you’re doing something right when your body tells you after you’ve missed a day. Un

RL: So Hunter, tell us about how you and The Great White Shank hooked up.

HM: It’s a pretty strange story, for sure. It’s a Saturday morning and I’m enjoying breakfast with the family, you know, and my phone rings. I’ve got a few friends and business guys in the 480 area code, and I’m thinking it’s one of them calling, but it turns out it’s from The Great White Shank – I mean, the Goodboys Great White Shank. I’m floored. Turns out his secretary and my secretary have been playing phone tag for a week and he just couldn’t wait any longer. Six hours later we’re in Palm Springs having dinner at the Tonga Hut and he wants me to personally supervise the complete overhaul of his swing.

RL: Amazing.

HM: Yeah.

RL: Where did you start?

HM: Well, he’s all revved up about my “Seven Secrets to Better Irons” article I wrote for the February issue of GOLF Magazine, and he wants to start from scratch, so that’s what we did.

TGWS: Tony Bate my fitness instructor had already pointed me in a “Hunter direction”, if you will, when he told me about the flatness of my swing and my lateral movement. He said that with the exception of my set-up and address, takeaway, downswing, and follow-through my swing was fine. [All laugh]. But Hunter’s article about the takeaway and backswing were truly eye-opening: I mean, it was life-changing – as if the curtains were pulled back on something I had never even considered before. I realized that in 20+ years of playing I had never once had a consistent takeaway and backswing; I would just kind of feel my way through and hope for the best; I had never found a swing that was repeatable.

HM: Yeah, repeatable – that was our #1 objective over all. No more guessing, no more hoping. Slowly and simultaneously taking back the shoulders, chest, arms, hands and clubhead. And on the backswing, rather than what Shank had been doing for so many years, lifting and turning his right shoulder into his chin, rotate it under his chin to create steepness of attack so that at the top of the backswing his right shoulder is pointing near the ball, not well behind it. We worked a lot on his staying on top of the ball and creating a feeling of him pushing his entire body into the ground.

RL: Sounds simple enough.

HM: Well…..[Laughing]

TGWS: Well, it wasn’t – old habits are hard to break. It took several hard weeks of hitting balls to really trust what Hunter was saying. For a while it was a real slog – like Tiger, I was kind of stuck between two swings – but once I got back from Vegas I spent a lot of hours just taking swings on my torn-up front lawn without a ball and one day the light switch kind of turned on. Which is where Brady came into the picture.

RL: It seems strange that with Hunter working with you on your takeaway and backswing that you would have a different coach for your downswing.

TGWS: Well that’s not entirely true, but I had read a tip from Brady in the January issue of GOLF Magazine that really got me stoked. It was a move I had already tried with my old swing before I even saw Hunter’s article in February and found really useful even then.

BR: It’s a great tip for golfers everywhere, but I’m honored that The Great White Shank thought enough about it to contact me personally. It’s really pretty simple…as I wrote then:

…as you swing into the hitting zone purposely slow the handle of the club to a virtual halt. It’s counter-intuitive, but this transfers the energy to the clubhead, making it whiz past your hands – and through the ball – at the bottom of your swing like the crack of a whip. The trick is to make this move while keeping your upper left arm tight to the left side of your chest and continuing to rotate the clubface all the way through the shot. At no point should your upper left arm and chest separate. You’ll know you did it correctly if the whip-like action of the as it passes your hands causes you to hinge the club up in front of you in your release, with the shaft directly in front of your chest [i.e., pointing at the target].

Anyways, The Great White Shank wires me $175 dollars, and a $450 flight later we’re having drinks at the Tonga Hut, listening to Tikiyaki Orchestra CDs. He thanks me for the GOLF Magazine article and we get to work building upon what Hunter had started with. Two days later he gives me $20 to use for a snack box and drinks on my Delta flight back. A real gentleman.

RL: This is pretty amazing stuff. When did it all start to come together?

TGWS: Well, it’s only been in the last couple of weeks that things have really come together. I mean, during my practice sessions at Papago it would come and go, but it wasn’t until after I had sent Hunter and Brady some video of me taking swings in my front yard that they were able to pinpoint the “death move” that had plagued me all my golf life – jumping at the ball with my shoulders moving quickly. I mean, there are two things that can result from the “death move” – you come outside in and pull the bejeezus out of the ball long and right, or, more often for me, coming inside out and make contact with an open clubface causing a big push/banana slice to the left. I mean, I knew it was there, I just didn’t know how to recognize it and stop it.

HM: Well, and the fact Shank was still falling into an old habit of playing the ball too far forward on everything…

BR: …which also contributed to a lot of thin and fat hits.

TGWS: Geez, fellas, I feel I’m doing the golf equivalent of an intervention at the Betty Ford Center! [All laugh]

BR: …so the fix was to intentionally slow down Shank’s downswing and drive down and into the ball – not through (that swing thought causing him to want to turn his shoulders) with his weight shifting from his back leg to front. The results were almost immediate. I mean, it seemed so simple but it worked.

RL: Well it sure sounds pretty impressive. Shank, what about on-course strategy? Has your new swing changed your thinking about the goal of playing bogey golf, like last year?

TGWS: Yeah, that turned out really well, didn’t it? [Sighs] My only goal this year is to hit fairways, period. No more caring about scores or bogey golf or whatever, my only concern now is to hit every fairway I can. If I can hit fairways I’m in a position to make good second shots that, even if not on the green, ought to allow me to use my short game to full advantage. If I can do that, the scores will come.

RL: I understand you’ve already played two nine-hole practice rounds at Stonecreek Golf Club. How did they go?

TGWS: Well, like Tiger was prior to the Masters, my short game is still pretty rusty from all the work I’ve put in on my basic swing, but it’s coming along. I’ve already got as many birdies this year as I did all of last year and my iron play has been really crisp – without a doubt the best I’ve ever had. And between my fitness program and making batter overall contact I’ve definitely picked up distance on all my clubs. Hitting my irons better means incorporating my sand wedge into my game more when I’m 50-70 yards out – last week I missed an eagle on a long par 4 by two inches. The tee game is still a work in progress but getting better all the time. More than anything else, I’ve got a swing I can repeat at will and it has held up really well. I’m in a good spot right now with three months to continue refining and sharpening my game.

RL: Well this has been a truly enjoyable time. Hunter, Brady, Tony, Great White Shank, thank you all for taking the time to join us at Golf Channel for an incredibly enjoyable and insightful discussion. I know I can’t wait until the 2015 Goodboys Invitational weekend!

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 02:34 | Comments (0)
April 20, 2015

Hello again, Goodboys Nation weblog afficianados! Rich Lerner from Golf Channel here. As you know there is a certain rhythm to the golf year by which the end of certain events starts the anticipation and build-up for events yet to come. For some – like Phil Mickelson – the end of the Masters, the first major of the year, begins the lead-up to the U.S. Open, the second major of the year Phil needs to capture for the career Grand Slam. For others, it means THE PLAYERS, in my view the most over-hyped and overrated event of the entire year, is less than a month away. For Goodboys everywhere, the end of the Masters means Goodboys Invitational weekend is a scant three months away. With the snows and cold of winter receding, and the flowers and greenery of Spring bursting out everywhere, Goodboys throughout Massachusetts are thinking about golf and starting to both mentally and physically prepare for those three magical days in July when once more Goodboys from across the fruited plain will gather to continue that long and hallowed tradition.

One Goodboy who has been especially hard at work for months preparing for the 2015 Goodboys Invitational is Doug “The Great White Shank” Richard, one of the “founding fathers” of the Goodboys Invitational. A five-time winner of the event, it has been seven years since TGWS donned the polyester plaid with partner “Killer” Kowalski following their victory at 2007′s “The Captains on the Cape” event. Since then, it has been a fallow time of swing changes, swing instructors, and a highly-controversial switch from Cobra Golf to Calloway. Throughout it all, The Great White Shank has never lost his sight on the one goal that keeps him from ending it all with a toxic mix of Phenobarbitol and Celine Dion records: garnering that sixth Goodboys Invitational crown.

During Masters week, Golf Channel had the opportunity to sit down with The Great White Shank to discuss the radical changes he has made to his physical well-being, his golf swing, and his overall approach going into the 2015 Goodboys Invitational. We were joined by the people most responsible for these changes: Tony Bate, TGWS’s fitness instructor who provided the impetus for TGWS to get in shape and completely transform his swing, Hunter Mahan, six-time PGA Tour winner whose article in the February 2015 edition of GOLF Magazine provided the model for TGWS’s swing reconstruction, and Brady Riggs, a Top 100 GOLF Magazine instructor out of Woodley Lakes G.C. who serves as TGWS’s downswing instructor. What follows is Part 1 of our conversation, I hope you enjoy it.

RL: Great White Shank, take us back to the beginning of how this all began.

TGWS: Well, Rich I suppose it all started the Sunday night following last year’s Goodboys. I had stopped at a little Mexican restaurant just down the road from where my folks lived for some dinner and was watching the replay of Rory McIlroy’s victory at the Open Championship over a plate of enchiladas and a Sam Summer a nitecap. And I was thinking how for the second straight year I had poured dollars and hours into getting my golf game ready for Goodboys weekend only to find out once again that I had a swing that couldn’t stand up to three straight days of grueling competition. And why was that?

And it wasn’t as if my play during the weekend should have been any surprise – I thought back to all the preparatory rounds in Arizona and the warning signs that had been there all year: my abysmal play on the par 3s, my poor play with my irons. And while my game off the tee had its moments, that banana slice and hard pull never seemed far away. Worse than all that, my whole approach to my golf rounds seemed to be wrong: I was playing defensive golf defensively.

The next day I drove back up to the very same driving range the Goodboys had gathered three days before and hit a bucket of balls. I wasn’t sure at the time what I was doing there (and I actually hit that bucket pretty well) but I felt like I’d come to a fork in the road as far as my “golf quest” went. I briefly considered the thought of going back to my swing coach Alex Black, but I knew deep down that he wasn’t the answer. While he wasn’t the one swinging the club that made all those sixes on the par 3s during Goodboys weekend and made all those questionable decisions that led to my rounds unraveling on Saturday and Sunday after that promising 94 on Friday; the fact was, we’d worked together for two years and I had little, if anything, to show for it.

After hitting that bucket I found a leafy tree at Sagamore Hampton Golf Club (where I’d shot that 94 on Friday) to sit under and watch a few groups tee off. As the warm summer sun and soft afternoon breeze kissed my face, the words of that wacky French philosopher Marcel Proust popped into my head. Proust once wrote that “the voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes”. My golf swing needed a new set of eyes for sure, but more than anything else I needed to undertake a voyage of discovery. I didn’t know how that was going to happen, but I knew I had a year to find out.

RL: Tony Bate, you’ve been credited with helping The Great White Shank with his new swing. How did it all come about?

TB: The Great White Shank came into the fitness center where I had been working last November. Like most people who come in, he was interested in getting himself in shape, losing a few pounds, and toning up. After discussing his goals and showing him around, we agreed to work together for a month and see how it would go.

TGWS: Being only five minutes from my house I had driven by the Desert Fitness gym many times and thought about getting in better shape but always found a hundred reasons to put it off. One Saturday in November, instead of driving by I decided to drive in. I met Tony and we just sort of clicked: I liked the passion he brought to his craft and decided then and there I was going to make a lifestyle change. Golf actually had nothing to do with it.

TB: Our discussion about The Great White Shank’s golf swing came later. What I noticed from the start is that he had some definite issues we could work on: frankly, he had balance and stability issues and the flexibility of a pot roast. While his lower body was sorta OK, he had the upper-body strength of a Chihuahua. So we immediately put together a program to start addressing those issues.

RL: How did the issues involving his golf game come up?

TB: Well, as we got to know each other he mentioned he played golf and was hoping our work together would help in that regard. Being a player myself, I asked him to demonstrate his swing without a club – you know, arms out, hands together. I noticed right off that his set-up at address wasn’t very athletic-looking and that he wasn’t staying on top of the ball – his swing was kind of flat and he sorta swayed backwards during his backswing. I suggested he needed to stay more on top of the ball and become more aggressive and athletic in his swing. So I introduced him to the bosu ball and suggested he learn how to take golf swings while balancing on that.

TGWS: If there’s one thing those Bosu ball exercises teach you is to stay balanced and on top of the ball. You start to sway in any way and you’re gonna fall off. I didn’t know it at the time, but Tony was cultivating for me a real, total swing change. More than that, the fitness regimen he introduced enabled me to start building strength in my upper body, lower body, and core. The fitness work really didn’t enter into my mind as golf-related; I was just trying to get into shape and feel good about myself.

RL: There’s much more coming on this special edition of Goodboys Nation weblog’s interview with Tony Bate, Hunter Mahan, and Brady Riggs. I hope you’ll join us for Part 2 of this series that should be coming up as soon as The Great White Shank finishes the transcription. Thanks for joining us!

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 02:44 | Comment (1)
April 17, 2015

I gotta tell y’all, I’m truly beginning to wonder if the Democrats are really going to allow the likes of Hillary Clinton to hijack their nomination process to the 2016 presidential election. I mean, if this week’s pathetic roll-out of her campaign is any indication of what’s to come you have to think that somewhere in the chardonnay-swilling salons of the Democratic Party folks are aghast at the monster they created by allowing the Clintons their “It’s my nomination, and I’m entitled to it, dammit!” approach.

It would be one thing if her campaign rollout exhibited all the signs of a savvy, charismatic, and attractive candidate ready to carry the Party’s mantle all the way to November 2016, but this week has shown nothing of that. The Clinton campaign has, instead, come off as distant, aloof, and pre-fabricated to the point of caricature. I mean, the big, black luxury van, the staged events with tables and placards designed to show how much Hillary “cares”, the unwillingness to engage reporters for any meaningful discourse – it just reeks of arrogance, privilege, detachment, and disengagement. And even Democrats are noticing.

But perhaps there’s a method to the madness, so to speak. If you’re a Republican candidate, it’s all about “gotcha journalism” – no matter how articulate or qualified you might be you can bet on the mainstream media going out of its way to make you look like raving, drooling, and frothing extremist. And if you’re Hillary Clinton, well, you may be aloof, arrogant and feeling entitled but you’re not stupid – you know that after eight years of the mainstream media playing lapdogs to the Obama administration’s seemingly endless domestic scandals and foreign-policy incompetency they’ll be looking to get its sullied reputations back by coming after you. So why not play it distant and aloof and carry that strategy as far as you can? Think about it: who in the Democratic Party is going to have the chops to push back on Hillary Clinton?

Personally, I don’t see Hillary’s campaign making it all the way to the 2016 convention. She’s a virtual ticking time bomb between her issues as a congenital liar, her gross incompetence as Secretary of State, the Clinton Foundation’s shakedown artistry from foreign nations, the e-mails that have likely been hacked and prepared for release by political operatives – on both sides of the political aisle – at an opportune time, and her general lackluster nature as a political candidate. It’s not unreasonable to envision a scenario where Hillary’s campaign implodes because of some major scandal and Democrats plead with Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren to come to the Party’s rescue on her Progressive white horse.

In fact, were I not so in debt I’d be willing to put money on that.

How do you solve a problem like Hillary? If you’re a Democrat, you bide your time and keep the long knives at bay. Because at some point you know they’re going to come out.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 02:21 | Comments (2)
April 16, 2015

Now that the front yard is on its way to nearly back all the attention turns to the back yard, where there are a bunch of projects that absolutely, positively must get done before the arrival of the real heat. I figure we’ve only got another month, so there is little time to lose. First up is the swimming pool, which, as a result of the very hard water we have around these parts, really needs to be drained and refilled every two years, and, every four years, given the acid wash treatment. And 2015 is the fourth year in the cycle so we’ll have the pool drained and acid washed, then refilled and ready for another pool season.

Which, BTW, is nearly on us – the water temp was 72 when it was drained yesterday. You get an ocean temperature of 72 off of, say, Plum Island, and the water is packed. A fresh water 72 in our swimming pool is still a little chilly for anything but a quick dip. That, however, wasn’t going to happen – the week before the pool gets drained I stop the chlorine and chemicals and just let it all sit, upon which it begins to turn a lovely soft green with the strong sun this time of year.

The one thing you need to know about swimming pools is that nothing about them in terms of maintenance is cheap. By the time we have the pool drained and acid washed, the pool light (which hasn’t worked for God knows how long) fixed, the vacuum replaced with something we hope will finally work, then the pool refilled with 10,200 gallons of pure Colorado River water and re-chemicaled you’re looking at about $1K total. But after everything we’ve been through this year what’s another grand between friends: it’s just money, right?

Once the pool is taken care of, the next tasks on the list are the washing down and repainting of the back patio. Between last year’s dust storms and the unrelenting afternoon sun, the patio is, frankly, disgusting. So a good washing and paint job will go a long ways to make it happy and hospitable again.

And then comes the job I truly dread – the re-thatching of the Tiki bar roof. I’ve got $500 worth of Tahitian thatch sitting in the garage just waiting to be cut, placed, and stapled on top of the thatch that’s already started falling through the frame of the Tiki bar roof. It’s not that it’s going to be hard work (at least I don’t think it will be) but it will be awkward work trying to lay everything perfectly so it looks natural. I’ve never done this kind of thing before, but if you’re going to own a Tiki bar outside in the Valley of the Sun, you better get used to having to replace your thatch once in a while. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the pics when the time comes!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:17 | Comments (0)

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