fpsf five

Though I missed Wildcat! Wildcat!, First Aid Kit, & Lord Huron due to the rains, Free Press was still a success. We made it down just in time for Chvrches, who went beyond my expectations and were my favorite act of the weekend. That show combined with White Noise, a specialty brew from Saint Arnold, made my Fest complete.

The rest of the weekend was compiled of great acts that I had seen before: Big Gigantic, Washed Out, Poolside, Edward Sharpe & Jack White; some old school music: Welcome to Houston and Wu-Tang; some new music: Anamanaguchi and White Sea. My Line-up and links below.

The stage locations had changed from years past nearly eliminating The Hill that had become such an integral part of my FPSF experience. One main stage still featured The Hill on the side of it but it lacked the stadium or amphitheater feel. The stages that were on the street meant less impact on the grass and parks but unfortunately meant it was harder to get around to other stages. The one thing I would change from this years set-up would be additional restrooms; in the center of the festival and in the fancy pants areas. I am glad to see this festival continue to grow providing more must-see acts and adding to the overall fun-level; I just hope that the organizers and staff can keep up with its growth.

SATURDAY SUNDAY
Chvrches Washed Out
Welcome to Houston White Sea
Anamanaguchi Poolside
Ishi The Kills
Big Gigantic Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
Twin Shadow Wu-Tang Clan
Zedd Jack White

looking forward to

89792_lgAs I mentioned early last week, I am looking forward to music and soccer later n the month of May. The first of the shows I am excited to see is Little Hurricane. Though I have seen them before (and blogged about them too), this is the first tour that they are headlining. They recently released their second album Gold Fever. This Saturday, May 24 at The Parish, my favorite indoor venue in Austin. There are tickets still available.

In between that show and the next set of shows falls another soccer event. It is in Dallas in association with the Boys & Girls Club and educates players on Hispanic Scholarship opportunities. It will also be treat to be working alongside Marcelo Balboa again. Though a short clinic, this is a great opportunity for the players to interact with each other and Marcelo while learning some skills and playing the game. Some of those attending the clinic will be selected as ball boys or girls for the Mexico National team game the following day.

After working the soccer event in Dallas on Friday, May 30, I will drive down to Houston for Free Press Summer Fest, May 31 – June 1. This two day festival grows bigger and better every year. My Fancy Pants Pass gives me rapid entry, access to air-conditioned tents, access to shorter bar lines and some private viewing areas. I bought them at the blind-pre-sale for less than what even the general admission passes are going for now.

 

 

Though I am most excited about Chvrches, I am also thrilled to see Jack White, The Kills, Vampire Weekend, Edward Sharpe…, Big Gigantic, Tune-yards, Washed Out, Lord Huron, Wildcat! Wildcat!, First Aid Kit, Poolside – and that is just to name a few. I am sure you understand the level of my excitement. Tickets are still available and if you search around may find someone selling them for less than the current face-value.

 

Copa Coca-Cola

Once you have worked in a field as long as I have coached soccer, you become connected with enough people to connect you to other people. This was how I became involved with UK International Soccer and the Copa Coca Cola. After helping run a San Antionio tournament, one of the ten regional events across the US, I was invited to LA for nationals. To qualify to attend, the teams had to win their respective regional. Over the weekend of April 16 -18, I flew with a team from Houston as a chaperone/coach to the Copa Coca Cola National Tournament. Coca-cola, Delta, McDonald’s, Walgreens, and Starwood Hotels sponsored the tournaments. The regional champions were flown out (expenses paid) to LA for the weekend.The games were held at the Stub0hub center, an enormous soccer mecca that hosts the LA Galaxy. The national champions were entered into a drawing for the Grand Prize, trip to the opening ceremony and a week-long camp in Brazil for the World Cup this summer. Former players Marcelo Balboa, Shannon MacMillan and Kevin Hartman were there throughout the weekend – encouraging, coaching, hashtagging and signing autographs. I was very impressed, encouraged even, to see their level of involvement. All in all it was a great opportunity for the kids and I hope to help with similar events in the future.

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Marcelo Balboa, Shannon MacMillan, & Kevin Hartman talking to the girls before their game.

The girls’ team from Houston flew out early and home a day late so I did not travel with them but was pleased to work with them throughout their stay in LA. They made it to the semi-finals on Sunday morning where they faced a composed, patent and highly-skilled team from Seattle. At the weekend’s end, I relayed to the girls that I felt they represented the Houston area well, on and off the field. The boys faced tough competition as well but came away from the tourney with a 1 – 2 – 1 (win-loss-tie) record. I also enjoyed experiencing the flights with them; it was a first-time flight for five of the eight. We also had a short layover in Salt Lake City making it the boys first time to see mountains and snow. In addition to the wonderful soccer played the weekend also featured the World Cup Trophy Tour. As tournament participants we were VIP’s and enjoyed a special viewing of the trophy. Additionally, we were front & center at LA Live that night for a concert from David CorreyAloe Blacc, and Wisin. I often take my many concert experiences, and flying experiences for that matter, for granted so it was really cool to see the kids get to experience such an event.

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Back here in Austin, my soccer season has just wrapped up. Girls and two of the boys will move up to select while the rest of the boys will return to the academy next year. I had debated putting my name in the hat for a select team but think for now I would prefer the flexibility to work for UK Soccer again. Events like the clinic I’ve been asked to work in Dallas on Friday, May 30, with Marcelo Balboa.

 

miscellaneous monday: thanksgiving “break”

Thanksgiving to me is a time to celebrate the things I am thankful for. Naturally, this will vary year to year but there are some standards. Family, friends, food, football and fun are five of my standards; this year especially.

The family I enjoyed this season was on two separate occasions. My nephew Josh invited me to his pre-school’s thanksgiving lunch, an event in which I did Instagram. I enjoyed this invitation and secretly, until now of course, was happy he preferred my participation to that of his mom and dad. The second family edition for me this year was at my dad’s house in Warren, AR. Lindsey and my brother Robert rode up with me; additionally, Robert pointed out that this was his and my first long road trip. Lindsey had never been to Arkansas, seen the country life, or shot a gun before; all three were remedied on this trip. I was definitely happy to have her there and am pleased to announce that she has recovered from her culture shock.

Friends-givings are becoming more and more popular these days. Or maybe now that I am older, they are becoming more familiar to me. I met up with about two dozen friends this season, some that I have met more recently mixed with others I’ve known for a couple years. We passed around a bottle of champagne to cheers the things we were thankful for: our friendships, fellowships, fun, Austin, and music were among the top mentions. The event began around 2 p.m. that Saturday and didn’t wrap up until 2 a.m. the next day.

The food at both family and friend events was incredible. I was also able to enjoy Good Dog, Liberty Kitchen, and Onion Creek, all of Houston.

The past two weekends have featured some amazing football games. Saban’s poor coaching decision aside, Auburn’s last minute victory over Alabama was incredible. Whereas I agree with Michigan going for two. The NFL is finally seeing some good match-ups as well: Tom Brady come-backs, Peyton Manning, the Chiefs, and tonight’s Monday Night Football – Saints vs. Seahawks game.

Finally, the fun!! Anytime I get together with my family, whether my mom’s side with sisters and cousins or my dad’s with all my brother, we find a way – even create our own way sometimes – to have fun. Lindsey and I also enjoyed the company of a couple friends over this past weekend. We went to a show at Stereo Live in Houston for Paul Van Dyke on Friday and seemed to lose time as the night faded into the morning. We even met some new friends in the heights and have plans to continue the fun.

I love this time of year, not because of the cooler temps or Christmas lights, Holiday giving or receiving but because of the love and fun shared with others.

miscellaneous monday: the long run

I started my day today with a long run; having that availability on a Monday is a perk of working for yourself. In Houston, I prefer to run along the Bayou. From the Heights I ran to Houston Ave. then head south to the Bayou. I head east then south to UH Downtown and hit the main bike/running path to head west to Memorial Park. Once I get to Memorial Park, I choose the number of loops or even which portion of the loop I need to run to match the mileage I want for the day. Today my goal was 20. To make things easier, I ran one direction around the loop until I reached ten total miles and then turned around, retracing my way back to the Heights. Two weeks ago, I ran 18 without any problem, but I did this in Austin, on good rest, and with balanced diet going in. Things like that matter when you plan to run so a long way. Today’s 20 was “just because”, as I have no races on the schedule. Today, I was put in my place.

The long run is an essential part of marathon training. To be a runner, you simply need to get out there and run; to be a marathoner, you must run 26.2 miles. Training for marathons you log many miles, but regardless of your weekly total, every week needs to feature a long run. These long runs challenge the body to endure, to maintain a pace over an extended period of time. Elite marathoners finish in just over two hours, while a good average-everyday-runner might shoot for closer to five hours and finally marathon course usually close eight hours after the last wave. Of course, there are many different breeds of runners all through that spectrum, with just as many factors enabling or disabling their run. My best is 3:17:09, while I have run most of my 13 marathons between 3:20 and 3:40.

Long runs for me are more than just a part of a training, they are often an adventure. Whether it be the route, restroom needs, fuel intake, or the people and places I see along the way. In addition to a physical challenge, it is a way for me to sort my thoughts, evaluate life’s equations and restore a since of balance to my mind. So this morning, when a tired, ill-prepared (sleep, hydration, nutrition) runner (me!!) found himself 18 miles into a run and still two miles from home, he walked. I had pushed his body far enough for one day and left it able to run another. Though my goal had been 20, without a specific race on the schedule and having already met my needs for an adventure, 18 was adventurous enough for today.

winning vs. a tie

On Wednesday I went to the BBVA Compass Stadium to watch the Houston Dynamo take on Sporting Kansas City in a match with significant MLS playoff implications. Sporting is currently in second, with the Dynamo trailing by 4 points in third. For the first 75 minutes of the game it seemed that KC was okay with a tie; even though a win would launch them into first, a tie would mean no change in the rankings and it would better than giving all 3 points to the opposition. Toward the end, KC sent in a substitute at forward proving that they were going to go for a win. The entire match was very back and forth with scoring chances from both sides but still ended in a 0 – 0 draw.

Throughout the game, I had explained many of the idiosyncrasies of soccer to Lindsey. The offside rule, set-piece importance, red & yellow cards and positional roles were all part of the day’s education. After was all said and done, Lindsey asked me if “the tie ever bothered me.” We then discussed how unique the tie was to the game. Mistakenly, I was under the impression that hockey could end in a tie but found they changed that rule in the mid-90’s but still grant a point in the standing for an overtime loss. Cricket has draws & ties but both mean something different. All major American sports have a declared winner; whether it requires extra innings, overtimes, sets or the like.

My answer was simply “No.” The idea of a tie does not bother me. As a player or a coach, if my team ties another team then it proves we were even on that given day. Now, if my team is heavily favored against its opposition, I would be less than happy with the result of a tie. I would always rather win than tie and tie than lose. It comes down to performance; my team’s level of play proves to be more important to me.

Maybe the tie bothers others, maybe the lack of high scoring in soccer bothers Americans but I think it goes to show the difficulty in actually getting a goal. All in all, I believe that soccer in America is growing regardless of the score. It takes exposure and education for this game to grow here. If people gain an understanding of the beautiful game and still do not like it, that is their opinion which they are entitled to; it also means it will be easier for me to get a ticket or find a seat at the bar. Cheers!

miscellaneous monday: at home in the heights

Yesterday, Lindsey and I were at Liberty Kitchen & Oyster Bar in Houston, currently my favorite place to eat out, anywhere. Though I have mentioned many of my Austin favorites in the past and maybe a couple Houston hotspots, this place takes the cake. The cake they take is from their sister sweet-tooth satis-factory Petite Sweets; they put that Salted Caramel cake into a milkshake. Now that you know the ending and I’ve ‘eaten’ my dessert first, I should let you know the rest of reasons I sing so many praises for this restaurant.

Sometimes I chose to write about a place after just one visit, typically an amazing experience I cannot wait to share with everyone else. Interestingly enough, I am surprised to find that I have not written about this one. It serves as an advantage to those who haven’t yet experienced Liberty Kitchen. I can say that they have proven themselves again and again, over time.

The location is a part of why I love Liberty kitchen, it is walking distance (and we do walk) from Lindsey’s. We prefer to sit at the bar – the service, knowledge and care that the staff put into my experience exceeds my expectations. The few times that we have sat at tables have been good but not near as excellent as those at the bar. This almost begs the question of the experience one gets from a bartender versus a waiter. Chris and the others behind the bar are top-shelf when it comes to the service industry.

Much like Cenote and Houndstooth made me into the coffee drinker I am today, Liberty Kitchen (along with Parkside and Clark’s in Austin) has contributed to my growth in oyster education and enjoyment. In addition to select massive gulf oysters, the Kitchen offers three or four other varieties. Their new “coming-soon” Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette, will offer even more. I always order from the blackboard, oysters and entree, and haven’t been disappointed yet.

From the menu I can recommend the gumbo, the bacon jam butter mashed potatoes (bacon jam anything really), deviled eggs & deviled fried oysters, the trout, and the dixie fried chicken sliders. The cakes and pies vary from time to time; as I opened with, I am a fan of putting one of the cakes into a shake.

Sorry I don’t have pictures but the website has a few. As you’ll also see there, they are owned and operated by Fegen & Ellis, who are also responsible for two other worthwhile establishments: BRC and Petite Sweets.

miscellaneous monday: free press summer fest fun

Houston’s Free Press Summer Fest has grown tremendously in the past few years. In only its fifth official year the fest has had to expand even farther along Eleanor Tinsley Park and Allen Parkway. This year the wristbands were distributed ahead of time, though creating some minimal confusion and minor mixups (all easily corrected) also eliminated the lines/clusters of people at the festival entrances. The pre-festival organization encouraged me to believe that this would one of the better run FPSF yet.

I chose which bands to see based on whom I had seen before and which stage they were to play. Matt & Kim, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and The Postal Service are already getting well-deserved, raving reviews fall into the category that I had seen recently or were up against someone I had never seen before. I suppose I stayed at one stage and was able to see about nine acts. My twitter @themohawkmoon lists which bands I witnessed, so I will only mention highlights here.

We started our Saturday with the soulful and passionate voice of Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes. I had seen them once before at a Stubb’s in Austin and they did not disappoint. Inspiring how she really gets into every show; we all should put that much energy into whatever it is that we love.

Please pardon this paragraph’s chronological flip-flop. We ended our Saturday evening with a neon, glowing, booming, moving performance – which every one present was a participant – show by Calvin Harris. Though Sunday was closed by what seemed to be a louder, more popular Bassnectar, I preferred the Calvin Harris show. As an example, on Sunday there was young man that was dancing in front of me like he was ‘dancing in his own living room, with only the closest nonjudgmental friends’ – on Saturday night’s Calvin Harris show, I was that guy.

Our Sunday began with Annise Parker, Mayor of Houston, introducing the also inspiring and legendary Mavis Staples. Mavis managed to get a much younger and very unfamiliar crowd to move and enjoy a fantastic performance.

Of Monsters And Men was best overall band I saw at the festival. In saying so, I’m commending their music, showmanship and crowd participation. As an unexpected yet pleasant bonus to this show, a child (maybe four or five years of age) danced, seemingly uncontrollably the entire show. She even knew many of the words. It makes me smile to see the next generation already enjoying, maybe even on a higher level, some of the same music that I like.

Musical acts aside, I must put in my ‘two-cents’ regarding festival improvements.

The Fancy Pants pay enough to have their own restrooms. These could be in a blocked-off section behind the already awesome and also necessary air-conditioned tents.

As the festival grows so does the need for a better recycling incentive like ACL Music Festival has (collect recyclables in a bag in exchange for a commemorative t-shirt); I personally volunteer to help see this through. Beyond the incentive program, a better trash company might be a good idea. I recommend Texas Disposal Systems; they do it right.

Finally, as we the festival closes each night, maybe open up emergency exits to expedite the process; I have seen this work at ACL as well.

Already looking forward to next year, with or without improvements mentioned above. Even when we think we are at our best, our pinnacle, we can get better, we can climb higher.

a good dog hot dog blog

Among the Women We Love, rules of manhood and tips on style, Esquire is asking the world for their most life changing hot dog. I like that the question isn’t simply “what is the best hot dog?” or even “most memorable?” but “life changing”. Though my answer to those three is the same, I can see how one could answer each differently.

America has quite the familiarity with the hot dog. We’ve enjoyed them home-made sided with mac n’ cheese and witnessed the annual 4th of July Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. Rather it’s all beef, Kosher, ball park, foot long, or bun length, we can’t pass up a good hot dog. We’ll eat them plain or top them with mustard, relish, chili and the list could really go beyond your attention span.

Though I live in Austin among hundreds of food-trucks, one of my favorites is in Houston. The Good Dog Hot Dog food truck can be found around town on most Wednesdays through Sundays; generally at a regular location depending on the day. Their menu features eight different hot dogs (and a Corny Dog) and my favorite, no – most memorable, no – most life changing is the:

Guac-A-Dog

avocado, fresh jalapeno, tomatoes, diced onion, roasted garlic aioli, cilantro, cumin & lime

…and I also add Bacon. Though it should have, reading the ingredients may not have convinced you of the obvious life changing capabilities of this dog. Therefore, I will continue. I list it as life changing because it is one hot dog that Lindsey and I will seek out when we are in Houston and miss terribly when we are not. We even went here for Valentine’s Day this year. Much like other foods we enjoy while eating out, we have tried to replicate it at home; unlike the other foods we try at home, we cannot exactly imitate the Quac-A-Dog. Maybe it is the aioli or the freshness of their ingredients, I honestly couldn’t say. You have to admit that the name is pretty clever too. The biggest reason this dog is life changing is it has become the subject of the first article I have ever written for Esquire.

Though it is likely that a Chicago Dog from New York will win, my vote goes to the Quac-A-Dog from Good Dog Hot Dog food truck in Houston. Happy Eating!