I’m not a’scared of much, guys. Yeah, getting into large bodies of water, change, being abandoned, Cubans, heights, and ghosts usually terrify me, but most other stuff is fine. I’ve been watching The Following lately, and that just gives me great ideas for stories I should read or how to infiltrate a sorority house. It’s supposed to be scary. There isn’t much that can send chills up my spine. Yet, there is one thing that is universally terrifying for Latin@s.
For those of you not in the know, El Cucuy (El Coco) is the Latino boogeyman. He pretty much embodies all the evil in this world and the next. If you weren’t a good little boy or girl, El Cucuy would come to your bed and eat your heart or tickle your little feet. You decide which one is worse.
I considered myself a good kid. I got into fights and stuff, but I’m not hardly as bad as my 6 year old brother is now. That kid beat a kid in a foot race and celebrated by head-butting him in the chest. When I heard that story I didn’t know whether to be mad or really happy that I’ll have an insane brother at my disposal later in life.
I didn’t like sleeping in my own bed. That’s mostly because I do what I want, but also because my parents were comfy to sleep on. I was necio (stubborn), and my mom needed to figure out a way to make me stay in bed. One night, I was laying in bed with my door open. My parents insisted on the door being open. I couldn’t sleep, and I would whine to my mom from down the hall.
“¡MAAAAAA, no quiero dormir solo!” (Ma, I don’t want to sleep alone!)
::silence:: (en SAP that’s silencio)
My mom decided that it was time to play on my debilitating fear of El Cucuy. It worked before. Why not now? Mother had taught me about El Cucuy from an early age. I wouldn’t want to brush my teeth. “El Cucuy te va comer, Daguito.” (The Cucuy is going to eat you, Little Dago.) Then, I’d do it.
Honestly, I’d never actually heard or seen El Cucuy. Also, no other kids talked about El Cucuy because, well, you don’t speak about such unpleasantries when you’re 5 or 6. It’s mostly about whose dick is bigger when you’re that age. We had no reference material to be able to discern what was Cucuyish behavior.
Anyway, my mom’s meowing became louder and louder. The Cucuy was about to enter my room and suck my guts straight out of my belly with his Cucu-straw. I pulled my sheets over my head and just started crying. This couldn’t be the Cucuy, I thought. That’s my mom. Oh, my God. WHAT IF HE GOT TO MOM AND DAD FIRST? WHAT? I’M DEAD!
Then, it stopped. El Cucuy was gone. My mom stopped after she probably realized how dumb she looked meowing down the hall at a 6 year old and that maybe scaring a kid isn’t the best way to get him to sleep. At some point, I fell asleep that night. I don’t know when or how, but I managed the strength to get over my traumatic, near-death experience.
To this day, I still can’t sleep with the door open.
The other night, at a bar, one of my co-workers that’s also Salvadoran and I discussed the odd truth that, no matter how reasonable and rational we may be as human beings, there will always be a mysticism and fear of spirits in us that was instilled in us by our parents in the traditions of the old country. No matter how much I hate El Cucuy, and how it informs my irrational fear of spirits, ghosts, and demons. I recognize it as part of being who I am culturally and individually. It’s kinda cool. I feel like sometimes I’m bonded to people, no matter what, by El Cucuy and tacos.
So, here’s to you Cucuy, wherever you are.
Oh, shit, behind you.
I’m not really a big fan of Valentine’s Day. It’s not because I’ve never had anyone on the day or anything. I tend to find myself occupied on February 14th most of the time. This year is my second time around with Nic. Here’s the card I made her.
This reminds me of one of my first encounters with Valentine’s Day. It was 1st grade. So, like 1992. I was the only Latino kid in class, and for some reason the teacher called me Dagoberto instead of Dago. I liked Dago/Daguito better. On February 14th, all the kids did their usual thing. We all exchanged Valentine’s Day cards with our classmates’ names on them. Here’s one for Erin, Whitney, etc. I got a bunch in my little brown paper bag I had decorated, and I was ready to go home and survey my keep.
I got home and emptied the contents of my brown bag onto the kitchen table. My parents and I started going through all of the Valentine’s. For the most part, everyone nails it. Name is right. The cards either hold candy or are accompanied by candy. There might be a heartfelt message inside like, “Hapy velentines dey Dago.” The real honest stuff.
I get to one of the last ones. I turn it over, and on the front, it says, “To: Dago-bruto. From: Demon Girl Who Just Ruined Everything.”
I tried to hide it from my parents because I knew they would make fun of me (that’s my relationship with my parents and why I absolutely cannot stop laughing at things). My Dad snatched it out of my hand and read it out loud. “Dago… bruto? Mira, Judy. DAGO-BRUTO!” Cue the five minutes of tear-inducing laughter from my parents and me sitting in my chair arms crossed with tears in my eyes from embarrassment.
For those of you who don’t know, bruto means “gross” or “crude” in Spanish — “stupid” even if you say it in the right context. Of course, I wasn’t the slightest bit gross at 6. I was a genteel, Southern gentleman, like I am today. Nothing’s changed. My parents couldn’t believe the mix up. The girl who wrote it obviously didn’t mean any harm. She didn’t speak Spanish, but to this day, I am still reminded of and referred to as DAGO-BRUTO when I mess up.
So, thanks little girl. You ruined my life and Valentine’s day.
I was just reminiscing with my co-worker Alicia about bands we loved in high school and the labels those bands were on — Tooth and Nail, Fueled by Ramen, and of course, Drive-Thru Records. I was in a band that really wanted to be on Drive-Thru. We were a mix between Green Day and NOFX. I actually still kinda like it. Anyway, here are a couple of songs from a live performance we did. Can’t believe it’s been 10 years. Some of the strongest and best friendships I have had grew out of this period of my life. I’m super grateful for that. There’s a DVD somewhere of one of our performances, and if I can get my hands on it, I might share that.
Skip all the banter if you’d like, but it’s pretty great.
“Back for More”
I love these songs, and it reminds me of how much I love playing lead guitar or guitar in general. Anyone need an axe man?
Everyone’s writing these touchy, feely best moments of 2012 posts right now, and I’m not in the mood. I’ve decided to share my Top 5 Chelsea “Ah, shit” Moments of the Year. What do I mean by an “Ah, shit” moment? Well, it’s that moment when you think things couldn’t get any worse, and you’ve come to terms with the likely and shitty outcome. Sorry for the derp videos ahead of time!
Here we go!
5. UEFA Champions League Round of 16, February 21, Napoli 3 – Chelsea 1
After a promising start to the match via a Mata goal, the Blues flew back to London with their tails between their legs after losing 3-1 in the first leg in Naples. All looked lost. The players weren’t motivated. AVB kept getting everything wrong. By the second leg, Chelsea had fired AVB, replaced him with Roberto Di Matteo, and were playing better. They went on to win 4-1 in London in an inspired performance against Napoli. They moved on to the next round to play against Benfica. But, for reals, that was some “ah, shit” stuff.
4. Barclays Premier League, November 11, West Brom 2 – Chelsea 1
This was Roberto’s last match at Chelsea. It was the fixture that did in AVB, and it was the one that ended Di Matteo’s time as Chelsea manager. It was also a turning point in the season where it felt any chance of winning the Premier League was pretty much good and gone. It also led to #3.
3. My life, November 21, Rafa Benitez named Chelsea manager
This was a very unpopular decision for fans. Roberto Di Matteo was not only a supporter favorite for having won the Champions League and FA Cup, he was also one of the club’s great players. His replacement, Rafa Benitez, was Liverpool manager during the most contentious period of history between the two clubs. He also called Chelsea fans basic as fuck and stopped just short of calling us ratchet in the media. I almost couldn’t handle being a fan after the announcement. So much drama has been following Chelsea around this year. It was wearing on me. I wanted to give up on football.
Lately, the anger seems to have subsided. The team is playing better, and maybe some fans (me included) have remembered that Roman still makes the calls, and we’re a lucky lot.
2. UEFA Champions League Group Stages, December 4, Juventus beat Shakhtar Donetsk in the Ukraine
Shakhtar had just one job. They needed to keep up their amazing home form against Juventus. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get past the Italian champions. Chelsea were equal on points with Shakhtar, but the Ukrainian team had the tie-breaker. So, Donetsk moved onto the knockout stages. Shakhtar’s loss condemned Chelsea to be the first club to not get out of the group stages of the Champions League after winning the competition the previous year.
Ah, shit. Relegated to the Europa League, Thursday night fixtures, and Sunday/Monday afternoon league matches.
1. UEFA Champions League Final, May 19, Robben’s extra time penalty
After his heroic late goal to send the final into extra time, 4 minutes into the added time, Didier Drogba gave away a needless penalty after he fouled Franck Ribery in the box. With his slight rake, he seemed to have cost Chelsea a shot at the trophy after all their hard work defending the onslaught that was Bayern’s attack all match. At that point, I thought the match was done. I thought we had lost the last opportunity Lampard, Cole, Drogba, and Terry would have at winning the Champions League. My heart sank. I felt awful. It was probably the lowest I felt in my entire footballing life. Luckily, it worked out.
Thank you, Chelsea for a topsy-turvy 2012. Sometimes, I think I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I know how much you lot love it when I don’t write about soccer. It’s an alien language to most of my friends, and it’s usually me rambling, since I feel safe to be irrational self here.
Most of you that know me personally know that I’m really into music. Hell, I even play music sometimes. Here’s my list of albums I absolutely loved this year. They’re in no particular order, since I don’t believe in ranking music (unless it’s Rush and that ranking is BEST EVER). There were three big moments for me this year in my musical life.
1. The band I was in, 11:17, released an EP — All We Need is Here. I think it’s probably some of the best guitar work I’ve ever recorded, and a lot of that is attributed to Alex Daniel’s wonderful songwriting. It’s easy to write parts for great songs.
2. That band broke up, and now I’m just sitting around.
3. I finished my Master of the Liberal Arts degree. My thesis was on hip hop in the 1990s and the cultural backlash. It was really great to write, and I think it makes this year’s list of album more rap influenced than years past.
If you hang around at the end of this piece, there’ll be a link to download my best of list from my DropBOXXXX.
Title Fight Floral Green
This is pretty much best punk album I listened to all year. Sure, it’s different from Shed. It’s more melodic, less frantic, and mature. They’re growing up before our very ears, and I’m really happy about what they’ve become. Their live show is amazing as well. I saw them this November at Red 7. Definitely, you need to check them out if they come by your town. I recall turning to my friend in the middle of Title Fight’s set and yelling, “These are all bangers, dude.” All bangers.
You Blew It! Grow Up, Dude
I love/hate the term twinkle daddies. It’s both a cringe-worthy and hilarious way to describe this nüüüwave of emo. If anyone on this list is going to be twinkle daddy material, it’s going to be You Blew It!. Anyway, I was lucky enough to see them this year with pswingset at Red 7 in July. You Blew It! mix catchy tunes with intricate guitar work and lots of opportunities for singing and yelling with all your mates. On an emo note, it’s a great companion to the solitary confinement that being a 20-something can be.
Prawn Donald Domesky
Prawn are a band that get me excited about the future of indie punk music. Their sound is really genuine and dynamic. It’s really difficult to get those two things working for you. There are some really great builds and melodic moments in this album. Lovely work.
Everyone Everywhere Everyone Everywhere (2012)
These assholes put out an album this year with the same name as the album before. Still a solid, solid album. Not a bad song on it. I did think they had a tendency to get lost in long sections of their songs, but that seems sorted out. Think of Maritime if they bumped up the BPMs.
Joey Bada$$ 1999
I only recently REALLY got into Joey. I would always run across him, but I was never interested enough to go any deeper. Upon further inspection, though, this shit is fire. I can’t wait for the next one to drop.
Kendrick Lamar good kid, m.A.A.d city
This is probably the most complete album in my list. It’s got the highs, the lows, and the storytelling to gets you hooked. The album can get a bit spacey with little vignettes and the multiple “songs” per track, but I don’t believe there is a bad song on this album.
BIG K.R.I.T. Live from the Underground
This was my go-to when I was down this year. Sometimes it’s great to disconnect, and Krizzle provides that with his songs about cars and riding clean. He makes me happy. Not saying his thoughtful stuff doesn’t work for me either. It does. His live show is amazing as well. Saw him at ACL this year.
Dowsing It’s Still Pretty Terrible
After All I Could Find Was You, I was pretty stoked about them releasing a full-length album. It did not disappoint at all. It sometimes feels like The Anniversary had a baby with late-Get Up Kids. They’re beautiful and energetic as people and musicians. Got to see them at SXSW this past year.
Dikembe Broad Shoulders
This album should just be called BAD BITCHES. Dikembe finally flexed all of their muscles on a full-length after their awesome Chicago Bowls release, and they didn’t disappoint. Rhythmically and melodically, they’re stronger than most of their contemporaries. Much love.
Joie De Vivre We’re All Better Than This
I just cry to this album. I’m never going to be this good, and I’m okay with that. I’m just glad someone got there. I saw this band in 2011, and I thought it would be the last time. Luckily, they’ve gotten back together and put new music out. They’re joined on this album at times by Keith from Empire! Empire! and Lindsay from Football Etc. for some short cameos. Legit.
Big Sant MFxOG
I learned about Big Sant at around the same time as Big K.R.I.T. Obviously, it’s because they were The Alumni together. Anyway, this album is a REALLY strong full-length solo debut for Big Sant, and I’m excited for what else he’s got in store for us.
Nas Life is Good
I never thought I’d put a new Nas album on my list, but this shit was amazing.
Between the Buried and Me The Parallax II: Future Sequence
It’s like my darkest nightmares had a baby with Dream Theater, Liquid Tension Experiment, and Earth Crisis, and that baby decided to play bluegrass-inspired grindcore through a couple of PRS guitars and some Mesa Boogie amps. It took me a while to come around on this release. I feel like BTBAM gets lost a lot in themselves. They have this childlike fascination and energy when it comes to creating these dizzying runs, time changes, and dynamic changes, but they get distracted by all that and forget that they’re REALLY good at making people bang their heads. They’re the strongest metal band of the past decade. Hands down.
My Best of 2012 in DROPBOX
Photo from ESPN
Last year, I caught an article in The Blizzard about how the Roy of the Rovers cartoon series negatively affected English football because it fostered a football culture that depended too much on the solitary hero or the talisman. Sure, other nations put a premium on talent and great players, but victory is a much more collective pursuit. It’s a team sport after all. Recently, I’ve become afraid of a Chelsea squad living and dying according to Mata’s form, like City rely on Silva and Toure, or Manchester United have relied on Rooney, or Liverpool relied on Gerrard in the past and Suarez now. What’s important moving forward for Chelsea, and I hope Rafa sees this (he probably does), is that the moving parts around Mata continue to make those important runs and passes to unlock the uncanny ability that Mata possesses. He’s been a vibrant, brilliant part of an all together bummer of a season for Chelsea. So far this season for Chelsea, he’s made 29 appearances with a return of 13 goals and 15 assists. Pretty darn good, if you ask me.
I was a big fan of Mata when he was at Valencia [btw think of how sick that Valencia team was for a while], and I’m glad that he’s adjusted well to the Premiership over the past 18 months. He’s scoring and creating for others in a team that has struggled for years to find an identity outside of Didier Drogba — it always seemed like an attempt to distance the team away from him in order to make it easier to move him on or sell him. Drogba just kept coming back.
For a long while, the answer to Chelsea’s attacking problems consisted of lobbing the ball up to Drogba and letting the players around him benefit or get the hell out of the way. Through the years, managers implemented variations of Mourinho’s 4-3-3, which worked REALLY well when you had an in-form lone striker with the quality of Drogba become the focal point in the attack. Obviously, he also worked great in RDM’s 4-2-3-1 — another system that played to Drogba’s strengths. Torres in these variations, under Ancelotti and RDM, was never effective. At times he’s a passenger. In other instances, he’s been a liability in attack. Really, he’s just been “Roger” ala Sister Sister out there. He just needs to go home.
Anyway, with the change in shape and philosophy forced through the departure of Drogba, the team has come to rely on the strength of its attacking midfielders. Mata has come to be the most productive of the rotating three behind the lone striker that typifies Chelsea’s attack in 2012-2013. On his day, Mata is unplayable. He cuts teams open with his passing and movement. Complimented by the intelligent play of Eden Hazard, Victor Moses, and Oscar, Chelsea can swing with anyone if they’re playing motivated. Motivation has always seemed like a problem at Chelsea since Mourinho left, but we can talk about that another time.
The most important piece at Chelsea for the past few months has been Juan Mata. With Drogba gone, Mata has become the focal point of the attack. Of course, he’s a completely different player than Drogba. He does things like pass. I believe the most important thing about this development is that when Mata has the ball, as our playmaker, he has players in front of him moving and creating space. With the focal point moved back a few meters, the field opens up more for Juan, Eden, or Oscar. Distribution isn’t as much of a problem anymore. The focal point is just outside of the box and not IN it. Players have access to more options in attack. Mata has been able to find those options and work off them to either score or create for others. Of course, this system was implemented by RDM, but Rafa has put an impetus on regaining possession and incisive attacking movement that perhaps Robbie Di Matteo did not.
Lately, at times, Chelsea has been amazing to watch. However, they HAVE been awful as well.
What I’m most worried about with this team is Mata becoming too much of a focal point. Teams will be able to find him and mark him out of a game. I feel this is what’s happened to Manchester City. I attribute their lack of being able to put away “lesser” clubs in matches to teams being able to focus on the strengths of a few players which successfully derails the entire City team. That’s where that whole reliance on a talisman comes into play. They do not have enough quality alternatives to Silva or Yaya Toure. Mata, Hazard, Oscar, Moses, and Marin do switch positions on the field often during the course of a match, and it helps a lot, but against top teams, I don’t think it has been as effective. Against poorer, unbalanced teams, it works like a charm.
Chelsea’s 8-0 demolition job on Aston Villa showed us that Chelsea have goalscorers and creative types all over the field. If Mata picks up an injury or gets marked out of a game, Chelsea can survive. Survival doesn’t mean they wouldn’t suffer. I am afraid of a Mata-less Chelsea. Eden can play that position, but he hasn’t had the success of Mata. Oscar is still getting his sea legs. We all haven’t seen enough of Marko Marin, and Victor is an industrious, incredibly useful player, but he is not the type of passer nor does he possess the vision of the other four. Mata is crucial to a successful Chelsea.
I hope this turns out to be a banner season for Mata. I’m fearful that Juan’s masterful work in 2012-2013 will eventually turn out to be fruitless in terms of trophies. Chelsea are in 3rd and 11 points back (game in hand) from United at the moment, out of the Champions League, and lost in the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup finals already. A few chances for silverware remain for Chelsea, and I, as a fan, want to be able to point out a trophy and proudly state that was the season everyone began to fear, respect, love(?) Juan Mata.
Here’s a shitty GIF!
Two weeks removed from the controversial signing of Benitez, the anti-Rafa chanting and baying still continues from Chelsea supporters. ‘One Di Matteo’ still rang out at the 16th minute in today’s match against Sunderland, and after Chelsea went up 3-0, the travelling fans reassured Rafa that it didn’t matter what he did. They do not want him.
Like any good despot, enlightened or not, Roman will not back down from his decision. Rafa ain’t goin’ nowhere. There are rumors that a group of supporters met with Abramovich to discuss their disappointment with the hiring of Rafa Benitez. As lovely as this gesture was, it was really just lip service to a manic public that wanted answers. After the firing of Di Matteo, interviews of Chelsea players and people close to Chelsea’s management kept creeping in nuggets about how shy Roman was and how great he was to work with. He has an image to reconstruct, and in this modern society, keeping that image maintained is as important as the work you do. Also, as a semi-autonomous sovereign, Roman, the benevolent dictator, needs to ensure that his axe falls hard on the necks of those that fail him and his people. He really is gentle until it comes to the well-being of his estate.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve struggled with this Rafa situation. I’ve wanted to just give up on Chelsea and this league. Everything was spinning and changing. Constantly, I asked myself, “Can anything or anyone be trusted?” It’s a dumb question to ask, since it’s just a sport. It’s not that important! Yet, I asked it, and many Chelsea fans asked themselves the same question.
Change is nothing new to Chelsea fans, and it’s become part of supporting that club. The changes, however drastic they have been, seemed to always ride the wave of discontent among the club’s support. Meaning, things got bad, Chelsea fans turned on the manager (almost NEVER the players, mind), and Roman would fire them. It was almost like professional wrestling when the evil, awful guy that would ruin everything would get beaten down by everyone’s favorite character. Order restored!
With every extinguishing of a manager’s flame, Chelsea’s list of possible top drawer managers shrunk, but the Chelsea supporters felt they had a man that would be by their side regardless of who would or would not come. Together in tandem, the two, public and owner, would rule English football and Europe. This whole “We want our club back!” backlash comes down to the destruction of an illusion of shared power. The maintenance of this illusion if how many dictatorships can guarantee impunity for whatever they do.
Over his first five games, the new company man has given supporters a sampler of the highs and lows of life under Benitez. The draws against Manchester City and Fulham felt avoidable. Benitez came in criticizing the players’ fitness, and perhaps because of the inability to finish matches, Benitez refused to let the Chelsea attack loose. They were instructed to defend first and make sure to not let the game get out of control. Then, the loss against West Ham happened.
Chelsea folded under the weight of a determined West Ham team in the second half of last weekend’s game. It was an embarrassing loss for a team whose payroll could pay for West Ham’s wage bill about 5 times over. Granted, it was against a decent West Ham team, away, and against the utilitarian and, if nothing else, effective Allardyce. Chelsea fans lost their goddamn minds.
People were giving up their tickets to upcoming games. They were refusing to go to any more matches. There have been calls to get behind the team, but nothing seems to be able to quench the bloodthirsty Chelsea fans.
Certainly out of necessity, Benitez has let loose the Chelsea team. Against Nordsjaelland, Chelsea opened up, got scored on once, but put up 6 against the weakest defensive team in all of the UEFA Champions League. Of course, there was nothing really to celebrate, as Juve’s win in the Ukraine secured Chelsea’s exit. However, Rafa encouraged Chelsea to play higher up the pitch. As the play moved up, chances were created, and Chelsea ran away with the match. Torres even scored! TWICE! We saw much of the same against Sunderland this morning. Pushing up left Chelsea vulnerable to a committed Sunderland team, but adjustments and defensive-minded substitutions by Rafa made sure Chelsea got their first win in the Prem since mid-October.
What we’ve seen so far is a manager that can make the right in-game decisions to secure points or a result that we’d like. As much shit as I may get for this, RDM wasn’t able to do that. Rafa’s rotated the squad a bit because of either necessity or suspension, and he will continue to do so. The return of Lampard to the side will do a lot of the strength and leadership on the field. Terry’s automatically back in the side once he’s fit. Looking to the future, under Benitez, Chelsea may be able to turn things around. They may get fitter. They may start clicking defensively and in attack. All is not dark in Chelsea land, it’s just sometimes, you don’t always get what you want when you live in a dictatorship.
This was never a democracy.
I know many won’t, but maybe it’s time to bite your lip, get behind the team, and watch what happens instead of jumping to early conclusions about the ability of a decent manager that said some negative things about a club he wasn’t managing — this being possibly the biggest charge against Rafa by Chelsea fans.
Steve McManaman said something interesting on ESPN’s coverage of today’s Chelsea match against Sunderland. He said something to the effect of talking negatively about other clubs is something a manager is SUPPOSED to do when he’s managing a side. He has to back his team. At the time, as Liverpool’s manager, he did just that. Just hearing that from someone took the edge off a little bit.
I’ve been guilty of calling for his job — getting swept up by the fury in the Chelsea camp. Ultimately, we are better than this. Give the guy a shot. If anything, he’s gone by the end of the season, and Chelsea are one step closer to getting either Pep or Mourinho.
Send your threats to @tehdago on Twitter.