Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Times of Your Life

Good morning, yesterday
You wake up and time has slipped away
And suddenly it's hard to find
The memories you left behind
Remember, do you remember

I'm in the middle of a very weird week.

It was announced that Bill Simmons was officially done at Grantland on Friday, Mad Men ends tonight and Dave Letterman signs off for the final time this coming Wednesday.

One the surface those three things have very little connection, but they do have one simple thing in common:


Finding Simmons in 2004 directly inspired me to pursue my short-lived but oh-so-fun writing career. I was published in a few newspapers, spoke on the radio, opined on a television show and got linked to on Sports Illustrated's website. None of that happens without Simmons.

More importantly, I found a life long best friend.

Paul Phipps and I discovered our shared love for Simmons while at a comedy club with the Turley family in early 2005. We ignored every single comedian that night while dying laughing over Simmons columns. Because of that night, we decided to take a road trip together to see Lebron play the Sixers in March '05. Neither of us read Simmons' columns for the two weeks leading up to that trip. Printed them all out the day of and read them all during the 5 hour road trip to Philadelphia. Then James Delaware was born. The rest has been history.

The laughter and the tears

The shadows of misty yesteryears
The good times and the bad you've seen
And all the others in between
Remember, do you remember
The times of your life

I watched the very first Mad Men episode live in July of 2007. I loved it. I watched the next couple of episodes and was entranced. The only problem? No one else was watching. There wasn't Twitter back then so I have no idea how we talked about television shows. Or how they got any momentum. Literally no idea. 

I gave up on the series, figuring it would die away (like most things I enjoy do on television), but then it didn't. In the summer of 2009, Paul says to me over the phone (I was in Denver at this point, he was in Atlanta), "Have you heard of this show, 'Mad Men'?" 

I was irate. I couldn't believe the show was starting to catch on, now after 2 full seasons on the air. I walked to the Best Buy in front of my apartments that day, bought the first two seasons on DVD and caught up in the two weeks leading up to my wedding.

Summer and I got married on August 15, 2009. The season 3 premiere of Mad Men aired on Sunday, August 16, 2009. Instead of jet-setting off to a honeymoon, Sum and I spent that evening with all of our best friends on planet earth and watched the season premiere with our old TV Group.

Have been watching live ever since. Not only a great series, but a fantastic origin story on a personal level.

After each episode aired, I would instantly go online to figure out what I just saw. Not just the spoken words by the actors we saw but the context of the time period and what was happening around the characters. My favorite "game" was to take the clues that were given in each episode and try to figure out where in time the show was. Based on a minuscule detail in the background, you could then google it and find out exactly when the show was at that point.

Mad Men showed better than it told better than any show ever.

Reach back for the joy and the sorrow
Put them away in your mind
The mem'ries are time that you borrow
To spend when you get to tomorrow

A lifetime ago, that I barely remember, I was an intern for 6 months at the Late Show with David Letterman.

I regret that I was still so sick while that happened. That's a big reason why I have blocked out a lot of that time of life. But I mostly regret that I didn't take more advantage of the opportunity. I was honestly too awe-struck. Not with the celebrities but with the surroundings. I wish I had taken the bull by the horns and turned that into more of a career.

But then I wouldn't have wound in up in Denver, with Summer and Ruxin and my amazing career with amazing friends.

So it's always been a weird thing for me to reconcile in my mind. It was what was supposed to happen exactly as it happened so I still have regret but have no regrets at all.

Might take the rest of my life working on that one.

Regardless, Dave Letterman invented self aware comedy as we know it today. Fallon and Stewart and Colbert have blown him by in recent years with quick hitting YouTube clips, but it's important to acknowledge a creative giant.

And it's fascinating to me that it's happening - to me - this week.

Here comes the saddest part
The seasons are passing one by one
So gather moments while you may
Collect the dreams you dream today
Remember, will you remember
The times of your life

Throughout this entire nostalgic journey, did you notice how much I talked about how things were done?

I was published in newspapers.

Paul and I printed Simmons columns.

There wasn't Twitter.

Letterman being blown by on YouTube.

This week isn't so much about shows ending or columnists leaving. This is truly the end of an era in my life.

On a shelf in my basement. there is a bookshelf that holds books of paper written by Simmons, Mad Men DVDs, and my Late Show lanyard from my time at Letterman. My wife and I have a child on the way that not only won't know who/what Simmons/Mad Men/Letterman are, they will be confused by the way I consumed them.

That's what's hitting home today.

My pop culture future is, at worst, cartoons and Disney movies.

My pop culture future is, at best, falling asleep during Better Call Saul (that's already happening).

Even if a show as good, or better than Mad Men started tomorrow, I'm not hunting down what year it is in that show on google anymore.

I've been there. Done that.

These were my shows, my mediums, my way of doing things... my era.

And it's all ending this week.

Don't get me wrong. My future is bright. Brighter and more stable than it's ever been before. But just allow me a moment to say goodbye to some dear friends.

Reach back for the joy and the sorrow

Put them away in your mind
The mem'ries are time that you borrow
To spend when you get to tomorrow