You're normally here for my hot-take reaction to the biggest stories in sports, but I'm doing something different on Sundays now. I'll be presenting a smorgasbord of thoughts that happened during my weekend. Here we go.
The weekend explosion - 2020 is the greatest time to be alive if you want to learn, or if you want to dull yourself with excess. With just a flick of the finger we can access information, stories and people unimaginable only 30 years ago, or we can DoorDash 2500 calories. I fluctuated between the two this weekend. Friday was unadulterated gluttony. I'm going to hell. After my show, my girlfriend and I ate pizza and wings from a local joint, and attempted to watch Zombieland: Double Tap. The pizza was great, from a place called My Slice of Pie in the Arcadia area. I'd been resisting that place for weeks because the branding is somewhere between Chuck E. Cheese and The Cat in the Hat, but they serve a legitimate NY slice. Zombieland II was atrocious. I should've known. My girlfriend, for as many things as she does well, hasn't moved past the Lizzie McGuire, Midnight in Paris stuff. Sometimes I need to just let her have those decisions. But after six minutes of Emma Stone completely devaluing her LaLa Land performance, I put my foot down and became the man of the house. "We're watching Ford vs Ferrari," I said like the alpha I was born to be. She conceded, and the next two hours were glorious, but I know she'll pick the next movie anyways. Rotten Tomatoes, by the way, has so obviously sold its soul, just like everyone else eventually does. The fact that there's only 24 percentage points between Zombieland 2 and Ford vs Ferrari tells me everything I need to know. Not to mention, Bad Moms got a 58%. Saturday morning was the crescendo of my debauchery, as we stuffed our faces again at FEZ, which I'll delve deeper into later. After that, something magical happened. My girlfriend had to work for the rest of the weekend. Freedom. I'd already fed my inner food demon, so from Saturday afternoon on, it was just me and the world, baby. Here's what I learned.
Michael Vick's 30 for 30 - I'd been meaning to check this one out for a while, and I finally got to Saturday afternoon. I loved that there were two cultural analysts interviewed for this documentary, because Vick was the first athletic, black quarterback that didn't even attempt to be anything he wasn't in the NFL, which was so culturally significant. To this day, the athletically inclined quarterback is still something NFL teams struggle to grasp, and Vick carried that torch into the league in 2001. On the other hand, Vick did everything in his power to further the perception that running quarterbacks couldn't work. The dude wouldn't touch the playbook, totally relied on his athleticism, and became resentful when fans got frustrated with that. Lamar Jackson, when it's all said and done, will do more for athletic and black quarterbacks than Vick ever did. Jackson is a totally focused version of Vick, with a franchise that's willing to go all in on his skillset.
The most enduring part of the Vick 30 for 30 was the indifference Vick and his associates seemed to have about dog fighting. In Newport News, the town Vick's from, dog fighting, and cock fighting, is a way of life, something anybody from there sees every day. A couple men involved in the operation described killing pitbulls as no different than killing deer for sport, or slaughtering cast-off racing horses. My bullshit detector never went off. I believed them. As a proud dog lover and owner, I couldn't imagine viewing dogs that way, but I do get how powerful cultural norms can be. There are places people proudly eat dog. There are places cows are considered sacred and deeply respected. I can love dogs but also understand that the way middle America perceives dogs may differ vastly from how Newport News views dogs. I'm at least open to it, after the Vick 30 for 30.
Wilder vs Fury II - What an ass-kicking. First of all, who in their right mind would pay for that fight? $80 bucks? Boxing is such a mess. It's totally decentralized, I have no point of reference for anything going on, and I have no emotional connection to these fighters. Boxing is like a fun, crazy uncle that shows up to family outings sometimes. They might as well stream these things live on World Star Hip Hop.
I'll leave the boxing analysis to someone else, because I don't want Joe Rogan to yell at me, but any schmuck could tell that Wilder had no legs past round 2. It was a throttling from top to bottom, and the most fascinating part was wondering just how much stomach Fury was hiding under those shorts. I'm not going to make a joke about how Fury gives hope to all fat guys, because most fat guys are just fat and have office jobs and mediocre lives. Fury is fat and a millionaire and could knock any of us the f*** out.
Suns - Well, the Suns scrapped for another victory Saturday night against the Bulls. The thing about this team is that the tiny, little victories diehard fans feel good about after wins like this one don't mean anything in the grand scheme of the NBA, or in the grand scheme of Phoenix sports fans. The Western Conference is still wholly more talented than Phoenix. The only teams that sit behind them in the standings are Minnesota, who just traded for another star in D'Angelo Russell, and Golden State, who will be an instant title contender when Steph and Klay return to start next season. @Number1Valleyboy on Twitter may get excited about DeAndre Ayton's offensive rebounding, but most Phoenicians aren't buying what Monty Williams and James Jones are selling, and the TV ratings over the last few years bear that out. The Suns continue to push "winning the hard way" in a league that rewards working smarter, not harder (acquiring great players).
Local restaurant you need to try - This will be a weekly staple, because I am a restaurant snob. Not like, "this foie gras is a little undercooked." More like, I worked in restaurants for a long time, I appreciate when places do it right, and I know the difference between a rinky dink operation, and a well-thought-out concept from ownership that knows what they're doing. This week I'm recommending you try FEZ. It's located at 105 W Portland St, and its flavors will not disappoint. Now, the ambiance and menu construction leave something to be desired, because the place doesn't feel like it's going to be delicious when you take your seat. But most important is flavor, and FEZ delivers. I recommend the Balsamic Bleu Burger, featuring bleu cheese, spinach, red onion, aioli & balsamic glaze. If you're getting fries with your burger, ask for a side of the garlic aioli. Voilà. If you're afraid of big, bold flavors that take risks, go to Denny's.
A podcast you should be listening to - Well, mine of course. When you're done, though, I recommend Exponent with Ben Thompson and James Allworth. It's a podcast about Tech and Society, hosted by two guys that are more brilliant than most of us will ever be. But they're not pretentious about it. They have a total grasp on where tech is taking all of us (no matter who you are, you're along for the ride), and they articulate it in a way that a dummy like me can understand.
A book recommendation - The Hundred-Year Marathon by Michael Pillsbury. Think we're still the most powerful country in the world? Think again. China has been working quietly on overtaking us for 100 years, and they've arguably made their pass. Michael Pillsbury, who's had various roles with the US government dealing directly with China, delivers an eye-opening illustration of the way China views itself, how they've viewed the United States, and what their geopolitical strategy is. This book will make you shake your head in disappointment at the NBA, which has chosen to overlook China's bullying economic tactics, in hopes of exploiting its population of over 1.3 billion people.
That's all for this weekend, folks.