What I’m thankful for

All of you.

Let’s get the most important thing out of the way before I divulge into high-paid athletes, overpaid movie stars, and endlessly tedious things on this Thanksgiving list.

A writer is nothing without his readers, and his shelf lift is even shorter without returning readers. I wrote my first online article about eight and a half years ago. The St. Louis Cardinals had traded Colby Rasmus to the Toronto Blue Jays, a trade that would come in handy many weeks later during a World Series run. I had no idea who would read it. I posted it, smiled, and signed off.

There have been over 1,160 articles published on this very site since that rugged July afternoon.

The words have been spread in the years following the first post. Cards Conclave with Daniel Shoptaw, Cardinals Farm with John Nagel, Redbird Rants, Hidden Remote, Up All Night News, We Are Live, and a few other sites. Lately, it’s been KSDK News and St. Louis Game Time (both the paper and the SB Nation website). I’m happy to produce prose there, but damn it if I like coming back here to unleash a good old fashioned rant.

I wrote about the virtue of being married, what I deal with on Uber shifts, bad drivers, and the run of the mill movie reviews. You read it all, commented at times, scolded me during others, and I am thankful for all of it. Loved or hated, it doesn’t matter. I’d rather have a lot of people’s attention than a few people’s love.

Now, let’s get on with the rest of the list. Ten is an overrated number, so let’s just start and see where we end up.

I’m thankful for …

Yadier Molina’s knees. No matter what the Cardinals do in the season, being able to watch an aging catcher fight back against Father Time is something else. How many catchers in the history of this game have held up as well as Molina? He’s not what he used to be, but he’s not playing first base yet. The bat still plays, the arm can still gun down hapless runners, and the overall package is still revered. I’m thankful for Yadi and pardon me, but unless Andrew Knizner is the second coming of Pudge, he can wait.

Adam Simon’s loyalty. You may not know him, but when I comprise next year’s list, you better have this one memorized. Simon is good people, but he’s also a sublime writer. I’m not just talking about scripts. He’s wrote the deliciously entertaining Netflix film, “Point Blank” this year and a Shia LaBeouf film called “Man Down” back in the day. He’s prepping other projects as we divide up the turkey today. Simon also knows how to make a social media post count. I’m talking 200-300 characters of feeling and intimate confession.

Simon is more than that though. He’s a good person who works in Hollywood. How rare is that?

Last month, I had an unfortunate situation with an actor that I had followed for years. Let’s just say the truth was revealed. Simon could have supported his fellow actor. It would have been easy and I would have understood. He didn’t. Simon had my back and we became even better friends. Granted, we haven’t gotten drunk together or even met, but a friendship doesn’t need physical interaction to be true and honest. It just needs loyalty. Thank you, Adam.

Jordan Binnington’s positioning. That’s the key to his success. Unlike previous St. Louis Blues goaltenders, this kid knows how to set up in the net, when to take a chance, and how to react to rebounds. He’s the main reason the Blues won the Stanley Cup this past summer. It doesn’t happen without #50. The second great #50 in St. Louis. Many people feared Binnington would lose his touch this year. Sophomore jinx, a return to Earth, or basic regression to the mean. Yeah, that hasn’t happened. Binnington’s .925 save percentage and 2.27 goals against average is quite nice. He’s only 26 too and has confidence to burn.

Starbucks Specialty Drinks. Let’s address the elephant in the room. Earlier this year, I burned a Starbucks for not posting their hours on the storefront and closing early. Twitter got a kick out of it. I was called an old man for it. People rushed to defend a billion dollar company as if they were a non-profit sweat shop.

I was wrong on one of those counts, but stand firm on the other. The truth is I am addicted to Starbucks, especially their specialty drinks. The worse thing a villain could do during the interrogation is make me choose between my wife and coffee. While I support local shops a ton, Starbucks is my lover. She has a drive-through and is open later.

A Flat White latte after a movie or big meal hits the spot. An iced Americano with an extra shot is a bolt of lightning. A medicine ball hot tea cures a cold. The passion fruit iced tea is a summer thirst-quencher. We may fight at times, but if you brought me Starbucks, we’d be instant friends. It’s better than beer most nights.

Martin Scorsese’s endurance. Thank you for making “The Irishman,” Marty. I know it took over a decade, lots of time, and some denials. The de-aging process was a pain in the butt. Studios passed on your version of a gangster epic. Netflix finally came swooping in with the “go ahead, make history” card, and a three and a half hour opus was produced.

A movie that will stand the test of time. A film I’ll watch with my father and son. A demanding watch due to the subject matter and how you transcribed one man’s life from a book. Frank Sheeran was one of a kind, and so was your film. Few films can even sit next to it this year. De Niro, Pacino, Pesci, Keitel, Cannavale, Romano, Graham, Lombardizzo, Paquin, Maniscalco, and so many others. Thank you for making this film the hard, but right, way.

Southwest Diner’s consistency. Let’s be honest, a lot of restaurants and diners are about as consistent as a muffin’s shape upon leaving the oven. You keep going back to some places because the people are great or it’s familiar, but the food generally is all over the place. Not Jonathan and Anna Jones’ place. This Maplewood savory factory is open seven days a week and serves up a Mexican spin on classic diner specialties. Scrambled eggs with heat, a burrito with hot sauce on top, or a vegetarian bowl that Qdoba and Chipotle can only dream about matching.

The bloody Mary’s are spicy and naughty, the coffee is endless, the pancakes large, and the souls are genuine. Jonathan and Anna (who opened it in 2012), will come up and not just say hello, but ask how you are. They mean it. Max Pryce, a comedian you should keep an eye on, is there. Eric Nemens, one of the sweetest dudes in the world, is there. Monica, a photographer who was just published in the Riverfront Times, is there. Charlie, Johnny, Adam, and many others will be there as well. It matters. The people AND the food are consistent.

What else am I thankful for?

~Kyle Reis’ candid humor and minor league evaluations. Find him on Twitterand Birds on the Black. Thank me later.

~I’m thankful for Art Lippo’s chirps on Twitter.

~Drunk People. Without you, I’d be out of my most lucrative job. No matter if it’s smelly or loud, you keep it real in my car and pay my bills.

~The secret alley way drop off behind my kid’s school. I don’t think the principle (he may have been in “Red Heat” with Arnold) reads this, so we are good. This is the anti-car pool tactic.

~South City. My home to the end. The streets have no names around here. They all merge together for me. I can run past my childhood home, over to my first purchased home, my first duplex, and back to my current home. Who else can do that?

~Daphne and Kimberly, my Instagram buddies. My fellow Grillo addicts. A complex actor of many moods brought us together, but our interactions kept us there. It’s always fun catching up on Frank drama with you two. Thanks for being my sounding board on a few recent nights. Frank may have blocked me out of his life, but you didn’t.

~Thomas Newman’s scores. Listen to this Road to Perdition clip and try not to feel something.

~John Hughes’ writing and John Candy’s acting. Both are gone, but left behind one of the best scenes of all time. “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” was the movie. It was towards the end. Del Grifith (Candy) has been chided by Steve Martin’s Gil the entire film. Endless insults, nagging, and a lack of appreciation. Finally, Del has had enough and lets Gil have it. A speech that cuts to the core of what it is like to be yourself spread kindness instead of dread. “I like me, I’m real article. What you see is what you get.” Whenever you feel like being mean, please, remember this clip. It’s paramount to being a better human. Go to 5:25 of the clip. 

I’m thankful for my parents, Beth and Rich. They made me who I am. A good person who doesn’t mind being honest. I am thankful for my wife and son, the entire composition of my world. I am even thankful for my five pets, who simultaneously give me gray hair, cause me to invent new curse words, and show lots of love.

I’m thankful for I-44 construction because it keeps me stock full of road rage.

I’m thankful for my sisters. They may be in-laws officially, but I discard that tag when we are around. Jennifer, Sharie, and even Claudia. Thanks.

I’m thankful for the movies. I don’t know where I’d be without that dark room to escape into.

I’m thankful for Twitter. It can be a cesspool for hatred and contempt, but most of the time it’s entertaining, invigorating, and a place to truly connect. I’ve grown a fanbase on there that finds strangers coming up to me on the street and saying hello. It’s weird and gratifying at the same time.

I think that’s all I got. Remember, I’m thankful for my readers, all 20 of them. Thanks for putting in the minutes.

Have a good holiday and please, EAT YOUR ASS OFF. Do you for at least one day and be thankful tomorrow and the next day for getting the chance to be around.





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