January 21, 2015

[Ed. note: the rumors have been floating around for weeks. No, not that Tiger Woods has decided to return to play the Waste Management Open here in Phoenix after a thirteen-year absence - that's big enough news in and of itself. But that The Great White Shank has decided to terminate his decade-long association with the Superstition Springs Golf Club and its practice facilities and transfer his base of operation to Papago Golf Course in Phoenix. The press release follows:]

There’s a saying from The Bhagavad Gita: “It is better to strive in one’s own dharma than to succeed in the dharma of another. Nothing is ever lost in following one’s own dharma. But competition in another’s dharma breeds fear and insecurity.”

After much consultation with my team and advisors I have chosen to end my relationship with Superstition Springs Golf Club in Mesa, and will be moving my formal base of operations to Papago Golf Course in Phoenix effective immediately.

This is no reflection on the people or the facilities at Superstition Springs. Over the past decade I have come to know every inch of its driving range, chipping area, and putting green. I have met some very nice people there and have grown particularly fond of that hitting space on the far left side (adjacent to Alex Black‘s reserved practice area) with the moguls to the left and the 100-yard marker (which has never spent a day 100 yards out) smack-dab in the middle of my own little fairway. I will remember fondly the shady area on the west side of the practice green – especially on those blazing hot days of June and July when I’m doing my final Goodboys prep. The putting green was always a good challenge. And the course itself? Well, let me just say I won’t miss the fourteenth and seventeenth holes with all that water; only once in all the times I’ve played there have I ever been able to bogey either of them.

So why am I changing locations? Papago’s slogan is “We Love Beginners”, and after so many years of learning and playing golf (not to mention having five Goodboys Invitational championships under my belt) I feel like a beginner learning the swing and the game all over again. While only ten minutes from the airport, Papago’s location is such that I always feel like I’m being whisked away from the world as soon as I turn down that winding desert road that leads into it. Papago is also humble: there’s no clubhouse and function room setting here – just a pre-fab building with a tiny pro shop and small snack bar – and the staff is always friendly and accommodating. In short, it’s no frills, just the way I like it as I embark on this new phase of my golf experience.

I retain my commitments to the clubs (Callaway RAZR X) and balls (Wilson Orange 50 Compression Elite) I play. (While I appreciate the white “Shankapotumus” logo balls given me by last year’s EXEC-COMM as a token of appreciation, I just don’t see myself playing white balls anytime soon.)

A final word concerning my swing coach, Alex Black. At this time there is no plan to change swing coaches. I know where Alex is and how to reach him in times of need. He has helped me out greatly over the past couple of years, and only now as I am reconstructing my swing from the ground up am I able to understand some of the suggestions he has made during our time together. I wish him all the best in his association with Superstition Springs.

Now it’s time for me to get back to work. There are balls to hit.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 02:07 | Comments (0)
January 20, 2015

Now that my George Harrison collection is complete, it’s time to focus on my next music project: the ambitious, long-considered, multiple times delayed, much-ballyhooed “Palm Springs Lounge Lizard”. A strange name, you say? Well, it isn’t when you hear what the planned content is. In short, it’s conceived as the kind of music you might hear, say, circa 1965/1966 playing in the background at your favorite restaurant / gathering spot, or on the Hi-Fi as your neighbors gather on the patio to sip martinis and mai tais between a round of Palm Springs golf and dinner at the local chop house while your kids are in their rooms listening to Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Peter, Paul, and what’s-her-name while plotting the end of western civilization as you know it and the values you hold dear through copious amounts of unabashed free love, sex, drugs, and Transcendental Meditation. Got it, toots?

Not exactly the music of my generation, but not too far away from it, either.

So what kind of music qualifies for this esteemed collection, you might ask? Well, to begin with, lots of breezy instrumentals in the style of Nelson Riddle’s “Theme to Route 66″ and/or bossa nova, light jazz, latin, and cha-cha, supplemented with plenty of Frank Sinatra (Billy May and Nelson Riddle arrangements, please – no Gordon Jenkins, he’s too melancholy for this collection). Oh, and lots of jazzy instrumentals featuring vibraphone like what the Martini Kings do best.

The foundation of much of this collection is coming from the “Ultra-Lounge” series of compilation CDs. A lot of it is great, a lot of it is completely esoteric; my job is to sort out the wheat from the chaff so what I end up with captures the very essence of the era I’m looking for. And as for the other stuff, when you’re starting the Chairman of the Board’s The Capitol Years compilation and the first two discs of The Reprise Collection (say, up through “Strangers in the Night”) you’re layin’ the foundation for one swingin’ collection perfect for anyone’s mid-century modern bachelor (or bachelorette) pad!

“Palm Springs Lounge Lizard” is the kind of music that would have made your Palm Springs back yard gatherings the kind of hip, swingin’ affairs that would be the talk of the neighborhood. It’s a genre of classic American popular music that you can only find on the occasional “Music Of Your Life” AM radio stations. It ain’t hip anymore. It ain’t cool anymore. But it sure was then, and that’s what makes it so hip and cool to begin with. Not to mention fun to listen to.

I’m hoping for a release date of March 1 – by then the weather will be perfect for a small gathering on the patio for an official unveiling. It promises to be totally “non-cool”. Bottoms up!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:29 | Comments (0)
January 19, 2015

“In Palm Springs, they think homelessness is caused by bad divorce lawyers.” — G.B. Trudeau

This dream I had the other night was so intense. I was living in Palm Springs at an over-55 adult community complex called the Tiki Kon. Everything was perfect. Breakfast, hit a few balls, play golf, relax at the clubhouse grill with my golf buddies over a glass or two of bodacious white wine. A trip to the spa to loosen up those weary muscles, then over to a neighbor’s house for cocktails before dinner at a local spot. (In my dream it was an Italian joint, but anything would do.) Have dinner, enjoy the stars from the coolness of your own patio, then call it a night and do it over again the next day.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

For some reason I’ve got Palm Springs on the brain. While I’ve driven through it – you can’t miss it if you take the I-10 out of Phoenix and head towards San Bernadino – I’ve never stayed there but hope to some day. As a “baby boomer” Palm Springs is more than just a golf vacation or weekend getaway: it’s an ethos, a concept of a mid-20th century care-free lifestyle where everything is just, to quote Frank Sinatra, “ring a ding ding“. Palm Springs conjures up the image of recreation of every kind, lounge jazz, cocktails, and easy living. Not to mention one of the last vestiges for mid-century modern architecture that I’m just itching to see one day.

And since the PGA Tour stops in Palm Springs this week for the Humana Challenge, I thought it might be fun to use this week as an excuse to toss up a few posts on anything remotely having to do with Palm Springs. Maybe some year I’ll be able do the reporting “on location”, but this year the Richard hacienda will have to suffice. So stay tuned.

Ring a ding ding!

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 08:31 | Comments (0)

Like most Americans, I’m not going to watch the President’s State of the Union address. And it doesn’t matter who the President is: increasingly, these are nothing more than made-for-TV events to give the Washington political classes something to blather about for two days.

Actually, I don’t have to watch, anyways: I get what Barack Obama is trying to do to Republicans over the last two years of his presidency, and, frankly, you’ve got to give the dude credit – it’s masterful political stuff. Come up with every “gotta have” item on the liberal/progressive wish list and try and put the GOP on the defensive by daring them to take a legislative stand against “common sense” measures to help the so-called middle class. Doesn’t matter how crazy the ideas are, that’s not the point – he knows he’s not to get anything he asks for. This is all about 2016, not 2014.

Will it work? That’s doubtful, but again, this isn’t about scoring legislative victories. This is about politics and his so-called “legacy”.

Well, two can play this game. If Republicans are smart – which they’re not – they would do the same thing and say, “Back atcha, Barack”, and propose the following legislative measures and dare the Democrats and the White House to come out against the following:

1. Fully-fund a southern wall on our border with Mexico.
2. Abolish the IRS and replace it with a flat tax, the “Fair Tax”, or a consumption tax.
3. Allow the sales of contraceptives over the counter.
4. Decriminalize prostitution.

And that would be just a start – I’m sure there are others. Were the GOP to enact legislation to do these measures, it would force the Democrats to admit the obvious: 1) they don’t care one iota about securing our nation’s borders, and 2) it’s not the GOP who is conducting a so-called “war on women”.

Not sure if this strategy would work but it would make for hellava lot more political theater than a dumb speech.

Be bold, Republicans – make your move!

Hat tip for the title of this post: this late ’60s Beach Boys deep track.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 01:57 | Comments (0)
January 18, 2015

A few thoughts while wondering how much the peace-loving Martin Luther King’s birthday will be an excuse for protests by predominently white elitist radicals in primarily liberal urban outposts:

Hey ISIS, try and terrorize this.

I don’t know anything about the new mayor of Boston, but I like the cut of his jib. AS I mentioned in my comments yesterday, the only think these clown who disrupt traffic on interstates and busses and trains understand is action that hits them in the pocketbook. Fire them if they have jobs, sue them to make them pay, enact laws that make them face real jail time, condemn and shame them publicly.

You read stories like this and this and you understand we’ve got at least two more years of this lunacy at the highest levels in Washington. It would be one thing to call these people an embarrassment – which they are – the fact that they are in power is frightening. Barack Obama makes Jimmy Carter look like FDR and Bill Clinton Abraham Lincoln.

We’re only one month from Spring Training.

A heads up for all you groovin’ Goodboys Nation-following cats and chicks out there. Starting Monday we have a whole weeks worth of Palm Springs-themed offerings to commemorate the PGA Tour’s arrival at this classic Americana venue for the 2015 Humana Challenge. I know it sounds strange, but the whys and hows are to follow. At any rate I hope you enjoy it.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:50 | Comments (0)
January 17, 2015

“I wanted to change the world. But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself.” — Aldous Huxley

Yeah that’s my main man Aldous talking and he’s got a point there. I think The Undisputed Truth – a Motown soul band from the ’70s – might have even put it better with their song You Make Your Own Heaven and Hell Right Here On Earth. And to a great extent they’re right. No one knows if this is the only chance at existence we have. Is there a Heaven? I’d like to believe so. Is there a Hell? I sure hope not. Perhaps it is just as likely I’m to come back as lilac bush, a hairy tarantula, or a Samoan warrior sex goddess hell-bent on working my way through that army’s 74th regiment from Able to Zed.

I know you’re asking by this time what the point of this post is. Truth be told, I’m sitting on the back patio on Friday afternoon after a long, hard week, both work and non-work wise. I’ve got George Harrison on the speakers and he’s singing about loneliness and facing up to one’s own shortcomings. A chilled Hemingway daiquiri sits on the Margaritaville “Boat Drinks” table, and the water fountain is splattering away happily as another 70-degree Arizona afternoon works its way towards dusk. A bird is chattering away in that damned tree on the other side of the wall which also serves as a ground zero leaf source for my swimming pool, and that damned pool vacuum just won’t stop getting stuck against the bottom stairs.

In short, life is good. Very good.

Which is why I read stories like this and wonder why liberal activists spend their lives so pissed off about everything. Why does everything have to be a moral outrage? Why does every friggin’ thing need a cause and their irreplaceable involvement? And who the hell are they to decide what is morally right or wrong to begin with? If you look at this Boston Herald link about those moron (to be kind) protestors who made literally thousands of folks inconvenienced and beyond annoyed by closing a major interstate outside of Boston on Thursday you’ll see most of them come from rather affluent towns: Arlington, Brookline, Cambridge, Allston – these are not young people who have grown up deprived of anything. Rather, like I said in yesterday’s post, they probably grew up coddled and sheltered, wanting for nothing, their heads now filled with concepts of injustice and white privilege they can only learn from books, pamphlets, and radical leftist college professors. Black lives matter? These lame-brains haven’t a clue as to what it would be like to grow up in Eric Garner‘s neighborhood. Oh, they might if that was the only place where they could get their morning Starbucks’ latte grande. And hopefully to use the free WiFi so they can social box all their like-minded liberal activist friends.

Maybe I’m cut from a different cloth. Maybe I view my own brand of activism as celebrating a sunny afternoon, or feeling a breeze on my face, or hearing the rustling of palm tree branches, or savoring the taste of a pinot grigio after a hard day at work, or getting myself in shape at the gym, or listening to my music collections, or experiencing the simple joy of banging golf balls on a sun-splashed driving range. And maybe it’s selfish of me that I don’t feel any desire to inconvenience thousands of people on the way to work to protest the death of a petty convenience store thief who assaulted a police officer. I know the police aren’t perfect, and I’m willing to concede that there are white police officers who have abused their power at the expense of young black men on occasion, but I don’t need a bunch of spoiled suburban white brats to tell me how their idea of life in the inner-city works.

Don’t these people have a life? It must be pretty freakin’ miserable spending your life focused on other peoples misery. Anyone who thinks they can change the world by chaining themselves to concrete-filled barrels in the middle of a busy interstate needs to get their heads examined – that is, after they have an opportunity to cool their heels in jail for a night or two without Starbucks or their iPhone or iPad. I joke about it, of course, but can you imagine how empty these people’s lives are? What are their value systems? What makes them tick?

To me it’s all pretty sad. Sure the world is full of sadness, death, destruction, misery, and injustice. But God’s creation coexists with its own state of beauty. And we’re given friends and family to bring us joy. And a positive outlook can’t hurt, either: a smile or a random act of kindness to a stranger can be just as much of a change agent as shutting down an interstate.

These people not only need to get a life, they really need to lighten up. Life is way too short.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:39 | Comments (3)
January 16, 2015

I guess I’m kind of teed off today. I know it shouldn’t bother me, but, you know, I’m still upset that Arizona hasn’t implemented a law requiring every man, woman, and child over six to carry a handgun at all times. And, it bugs me that airlines don’t just give seats away; they actually force people to pay for the privilege – the privilege! – of air travel. And have you seen the cost of beef in the supermarket lately? That pot of chili has sure gotten a whole lot more expensive to make. Hmm…what’s a person to do? How can I make my voice known – you know, “speak to power”?

Say, I’ve got an idea. Maybe I’ll get a dozen or so of my best buds and get us to lay down in the HOV and left-hand lanes of the 202 on a Friday afternoon at, oh, say, 4:30 PM and cause a 15-mile backup that goes right into the heart of the Phoenix downtown.

Or, maybe I can convince a few friends to gather in Old Town Scottsdale during Super Bowl / Waste Management Open weekend and maybe break a window or two in protest.

Or, maybe gather several groups together and barge into restaurants and start shouting slogans to disrupt people’s evenings as best we can.

Because, after all, it’s the system and regular folks need to wake up and know just how much they’re being oppressed by “the man”.

Yeah, that’s the way to get them on our side.

Of course I speak all this in jest, but it seems as if ever since Ferguson and the 2014 midterms the liberal left has truly become unhinged and lost its collective mind. You’ve got the shakedown artist / tax cheat/ lying bastard “The Rev.” Al Sharpton complaining about no black actors getting nominated for Oscars. You’ve got colleges and universities awash in political correctness to the point of absudity beyond absurdity beyond absurdity. You’ve got protestors thinking it’s a great idea to close down a major interstate during rush-hour. You’ve got Greenpeace destroying historical sites to make some inane point.

You know what kind of outrage I want to see from the liberal left? They get their panties in a knot when a bakery refuses to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, but it’s OK if ISIS tosses a couple of gay guys blindfolded off a building. And I guess the idea of “black lives mattering” only extends to American shores – after all, you don’t hear anyone from the liberal left protesting about the thousands of innocent African women, children, and elderly recently massacred in Nigeria by Boko Haram. Or that the first African-American president has, through his own executive action, flooded an already-difficult job market for inner-city African-Americans by legalizing work for millions of illegal immigrants – oh, excuse me, undocumented aliens.

You know, I used to just accept the blatant and utter hypocrisy of the liberal left as blathering by a bunch of loons. While I don’t agree with virtually anything radio talk-host Michael Savage says, he’s damned right when he says liberalism is a mental disorder. Think about it: what kind of lunatic would lay down on an interstate and block rush-hour traffic for three hours? Or disrupt an awards ceremony for a 100-year old veteran? Or disrupt folks enjoying brunch with family and friends? Or block trains carrying people trying to get to work, or vandalize and destroy buildings just to make some damned point they think is so damned important?

You can say all you want that these folks don’t speak for true liberalism. Like, Ted Kennedy or FDR liberalism. Yeah, right – just like those killers in France didn’t speak for radical Islam. Let me tell you “old-fashioned” liberals something: that train left the station a long time ago. This is in-your-face mob activism masked as political liberalism, and I for one am sick of it and, even worse, the media glorifying it as if its causes are oh-so-sacred. It’s a sickness, a cancer. It spouts nonsensical garbage wrapped in self-righteous outrage. And it’s dangerous: to our society and culture, to the traditions most Americans hold sacred, and to this country’s future. Know what I think?

I think these folks had too many visits to the supermarket where their parents asked them what they wanted to have for supper that night.

I think these folks have gotten too many trophies for just participating in sports in order to make them feel wanted and important.

I think these folks have had too much money too soon and too much opportunity thrown at them by parents who are to parenting what Hannibal Lector was to dining out.

In short, these people need to be given a one-way trip to Indonesia or Pakistan or Yemen and shown what life is really like for most of the world. You know what? They wouldn’t last two days.

And it’s not just the protestors. You look at what has come to pass for Democratic Party leadership: Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, the Congressional Black Caucus (remember, with today’s Democrats everything starts with skin color and proceeds from there). And then you have the media outlets like the New York Times, Boston Globe, and MSNBC spouting all kinds of nonsense about fairness and diversity and tolerance and acceptance, but in the end they all have the same ideology that teaches hatred of anyone who dares to think differently than they do. They resent individuality. They resent their white privilege. They despise anyone who sees the concept of abortion on demand, anytime, anywhere as morally wrong. They think every college and university is a petri dish for rape culture. They mock hetrosexual and Christian marriage and seek to undermine the traditional family and the teaching of traditional Judeo-Christian values at every corner through “LGBTQ rights” and nanny state government. (Of course, they won’t say squat about Islam even though if the imams had their way every feminist would be wearing a burqa.) More than anything else, they hate this country and what it stands for, too ignorant to understand they live in a world where others would extinguish their very own concepts about fairness and tolerance and diversity and acceptance in a New York minute.

It would be one thing to just shrug these folks as crazy loons too full of themselves and their misplaced ideologies, but they’re not. These folks truly believe what they believe. Look, I’m not seeking to take away their right of speech and free expression, but I do expect them to respect the rights of others and the rule of law, and to be called out by their own politically-ideological leadership when they don’t. I know this is an increasingly-tall order, but it they can’t respect the basic freedoms and the laws of this country then maybe these folks ought to find another one that suits their needs better. Like Russia or Iran, perhaps?

What’s truly sad is that these juvenile clowns – oops, I’m sorry, activists – think they’re making a difference. Well, I’ve got news for youse, baby blues: what you’re doing aren’t protests, they’re nothing but temper tantrums by spoiled brats who need a swift kick in the ass to wake their sorry asses up. There’s no such thing as fairness or equality in the world; never has been, never will be. You’re just too ignorant and full of yourselves to know that. So do yourselves, and us all, a favor: pursue your loon causes and practice your perpetual outrage if you wish, but allow the rest of us to live our lives in peace and as we see fit. Is that too much to ask?

And while you’re at it, GET A LIFE.

Filed in: Politics & World Events by The Great White Shank at 00:55 | Comments (2)
January 15, 2015

I know back in the Northeast where the majority of my Goodboys friends live January has been holding it in the cold grip of winter. But hope (and help) is on the way:

“The shortest day has passed, and whatever nastiness of weather we may look forward to in January and February, at least we notice that the days are getting longer. Minute by minute they lengthen out. It takes some weeks before we become aware of the change. It is imperceptible even as the growth of a child, as you watch it day by day, until the moment comes when with a start of delighted surprise we realize that we can stay out of doors in a twilight lasting for another quarter of a precious hour.”
Vita Sackville-West

Hat tip: egreenway.com

I know I’ve already started noticing the days getting longer: last week I had to set my backyard landscaping lights to come on twenty minutes later, and tonight, while driving home with Tracey from her work, we noticed that it was past 6 PM and the sky wasn’t totally dark yet.

So the days are getting longer. Before you know it folks around here will be flocking to the Arizona Spring Training sites. This weekend I start organizing all our 2014 receipts and bills in preparation for Tracey tacking the taxes. And, better yet, I’m only six weeks before my Vegas weekend with my Goodboys friends.

The new year is under way in earnest.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:24 | Comments (0)
January 14, 2015

A post over at FiveThirtEight at movies that make people cry made for interesting reading. To me, “Saving Private Ryan” is a no-brainer – if you don’t get weepy at the end you don’t have a soul. “Titanic”, being the chick flick that it is, I’m guessing gals would say the same very same thing, but the only about that made me cry about “Titanic” was having to listen to Celine Dion’s mawkish “My Heart Will Go On” over the closing credits. Ugh. That’s one bad song – the poster child for everything wrong with modern pop music. The others on the list? I haven’t seen many of them. I think I saw “Brian’s Song” a long time ago, and considering the guy dying young at the end, I’m guessing people crying over that would be understandable.

So what do y’all think out there? Any movies that make you bring a box of tissues along with the bowl of buttered popcorn?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 09:06 | Comments (4)
January 9, 2015

Looks like the Phoenix zoo just got a new tiger. No, not that Phoenix Zoo. This one.

And it really ought to be quite the zoo – in every sense of the word. The media here are already all over this in a big way. It’ll be at the top of every newspaper, news broadcast, and sports radio headline. Keep in mind: the Waste Management (a.k.a. Phoenix) Open already has the record for craziest scene (the famous 16th hole stadium)…

… and the most visitors over any weekend on the PGA Tour. Can you imagine what it will be like this year? Just Tiger entering the field has ginned it up in every way, manner, shape, and form. You can bet Golf Channel will be broadcasting live from here. Folks will be coming in from all over the country for not just this, but the Super Bowl as well (it’s being held in Glendale the same weekend). It will be madness!

And just think, your humble correspondent will be here at “ground zero”.

I can tell you this: you can bet I’ll be steering clear of Scottsdale that weekend!

Filed in: Golf & Sports by The Great White Shank at 09:59 | Comments (0)

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