It has been a minute since I posted here so I have a bunch of shit to talk about. Most important is our latest challenge match between Scott Frost and Shane Van Boening at Big Dog Billiards in Des Moines, Iowa July 31- August 2. Chad and I have been working on this one for awhile.
One of the bigger misconceptions about TAR is that we have some sort of magical power to snap our fingers and make a match appear. Nothing is further from the truth.Putting these things together is fucking hard. LOL....no other way to say it. The only way we are able to do it is because the players and backers want it as much as we do and they know we won't fuck them.
One thing the players get out of it besides the money we pay them is that they know they are getting good action on good equipment in a safe environment without any of the bullshit that usually goes along with setting up and playing a big set. Every player I have talked to who played one of our matches really likes knowing all they have to do is show up and play at the appointed time and place with no worries of someone pulling out or changing shit at the last minute. There have been a few bumps along the way but it has all pretty much been refined to a smooth process once the match is finally made.
The upcoming Frost vs SVB match is a good example of what happens when something goes right. Both guys have played in our matches before and both guys are friends of ours so we are really going to enjoy this one. I expect this to be the most offensively explosive match we have ever done. These guys are going to show what true elite players can do playing rack your own 9 ball on the small track. It is going to be epic. Quote me on that shit.
Last weekend was another one of those times where living in Vegas is a big positive. The BCA Trade Expo was in town at the Sands Convention center. I have never been to one before because I either wasn't involved in the industry or couldn't justify the cost to just go walk around what to me is essentially a small version of Hopkins Expo. This year I was in the right place at the right time and was able to go sweat it.
The first thing I noticed was that they did a great job on picking the venue. It was very nice even if a hot dog and coke did cost $9. I was able to see some of my friends and shoot the shit with all kinds of people about all kinds of things. Most of the exhibitors I talked with were pleasantly surprised with the activity at the show. One of the biggest told me they were happy but that was mainly because there expectations were for such a dismal show that anything positive was a real treat. This economy really has people spinning. One thing they all said was what I have always heard: They should keep the Expo in Vegas. Period. Full stop. Do not fix what isn't broken. We will see if the powers that be have finally slammed their collective heads into the wall enough to realize this. I say it is 50/50 at best.
One thing I really wish is that the BCA would get off this trade show promotion shit and do what every pool player and fan in this country really needs and that is lead. Pool in America is a rudderless ship and I am afraid without some form of real leadership it will never achieve it's potential. The BCA is uniquely placed to provide that and time and again they refuse to accept the challenge. Instead they have tied their wagon to promoting a dieing trade show. Hint to the BCA: Make the game bigger and you will have more people to sell booth space to. I know that this horse has been beaten to a bloody pulp and what I am asking is about is as easy as putting a man on Mars but shit, at least make an effort. I would be glad to help in any way possible just as numerous others would. We just need some leadership by an organization that is in touch with what is really going on in the game. A bunch of guys in suits looks nice but if all they do is jack each other off about demographics and cheesy marketing seminars while pool rooms die in droves they will be soon to follow. Fuck it. Maybe that is what we need. Lead, follow or get out of the way.
The biggest positive for me about the show was getting to hang out with friends I don't see very often. I hung out with Royce Bunnell of OB Cues at his booth for awhile and played some pool on his demo table. I also saw the newest member of the OB team Grace Nokomura at the show. Grace has so much enthusiasm and energy she is like a force of nature. LOL. She will be a great addition to to already excellent team. OB Cues has been one of TAR's biggest supporters and we are very lucky to have Royce and his crew on our side. They are great people and truly love the game. If you are in the market for a new cue or shaft give them a look. They make good stuff and they provide outstanding service.
Here is a short interview with Royce:
I was able to go out to dinner with all the guys from Diamond Billiard Products one night and had a ball. Greg Sullivan of Diamond has been behind TAR since our first event. He had a Diamond Pro/Am shipped and set up to a room in Sioux Falls at no cost to us because we said the guys wanted to play on a Diamond. He said "When do you need it." Greg is a bad motherfucker. All the evidence you need to prove it is that he is the dude responsible for the Derby City Classic. My head hurts when I think about what it must have been like getting that off the ground. Oh yeah, and the whole "I have an idea....I am gonna make pool tables and take on Brunswick" thing. I know for a fact he has gone into his pocket to help guys out and make things happen that he would have no direct benefit from. Just because he felt it was the right thing to do. Sounds simple but in my experience it is rare in this industry. Once again TAR shit out and got lucky to be involved with someone like Greg.
Here is a shot of Greg with the VP of Diamond Chad Scharlow:
I have only met one other guy who is as passionate about the game and creating opportunities for players and I am lucky enough to call them both friends. The other guy is Greg's partner in Diamond and that is Mark Griffin. I personally wish Mark would just run pool in the United States. I know that will piss some people off but guess what? Without someone doing it we ain't ever going anywhere but down. If you look at all the successful games and sports we all talk about wanting to be like almost all of them have one thing in common and that is a strong central organization. Most of those start by one or two guys stepping up and taking charge. Pool's problem is that in the recent past all the guys who stood up were either crooks or incompetent. Mark is as far from either of those as you can get. I could tell you about all the things Mark has done and continues to do for players but I don't feel like typing for hours. One thing that I can say is that few times in my life have I found someone I trust or believe in as much as Mark. Hopefully he will get the support from players and make some positive things happen. I know he will hold up his end.
Here is a short interview I did with Mark at the show:
I was able to hang with my buddies Caroline Pao and Mika Immonen of Mezz Cues USA and Billiard Life. One of the highlights of the weekend was when Mika and Caroline showed up at Pool Sharks to hang out a little one night after the show. I was hitting balls with Shane Van Boening and in no time I had given up my spot to Mika just I could sweat them practicing together. I am a devious bastard like that. I really really really want to get Mika in one of our matches. Maybe against Shane, or even cooler Johnny Archer. A guy can dream.
A pic of Caroline working the booth. That handsome gentleman taking a rest on the floor is AZ Billiard's own Jerry Forsythe.
A note about Shane and his new deal with Cuetec. I was able to hit balls with his new cue and I am happy to report it hits about 300% better than the janky old Schon he won seemingly everything with. Seriously. That Schon hit like refried dog shit (I still love it though). His new cue is about as subtle as a sucking chest wound but who gives a shit if he shoots the worlds nuts in with it. He is genuinely pumped about it and I think that is cool as hell. Cuetec got a great deal when they signed Shane. He is as good as it gets.
Couple of pics of Shane and his new weapon along with a video interview about the cue and his upcoming match.
While at the show I ran into Miss Brittany Bryant from somewhere in the great white north. That snow covered place on top of America on all the maps. Canada I think it's called. Brittany is one of the up and coming young stars in the pool world. She just turned 18 and is already competing in WPBA events. I hadn't heard about it but she was just signed to a sponsorship deal with Olhausen Billiards. It is very cool to see a company getting behind a young talent such as Brittany. I suspect we will see great things from this young lady.
Brittany Bryant at the Olhausen booth.
I was lucky enough to hang out with Miss Angel Paglia of WPBA fame. I went with her and her business partner to dinner at the Bellagio Buffet on Saturday night. I figured we would have no shot at getting seated on a Saturday night at 8 o'clock without a crazy wait. I met them in line and about 5 minutes later a dude comes out and asks if there is a party of 2 or 3 who would like to sit at the bar. FUCK YES !!!. No two hour wait for us suckers !! Dude whisks us past about a 150 people waiting in line and they were all looking at us like "Who the hell is that and why are they getting to the good crab legs?" I got a little taste of what those dudes who drop thousands in the casino must feel like when they get all the perks, only without the aching pain in my ass from having the casino give me a free meal I just paid $10K for. Needless to say the buffet was the nuts. It is pretty easy to enjoy yourself hanging out with Angel too. She has been working hard on her game lately and I expect she will do very well in the future.
Shit I almost forgot the biggest part of the weekend at least for me. For the last couple of weeks I have been getting headaches. Not just headaches but blindingly painful head exploding headaches. I had never felt anything like this. When I would get them I couldn't do anything. Couldn't sleep, couldn't think, I was just fucked.I was popping Tylenol PM like Elvis. It started off bad and then got worse as time passed by. I knew what the cause was and that was a fucked up tooth. Thats right. I am that much of a pussy that I would rather feel like someone was driving a railroad spike up my nose with a jack hammer than go to the dentist. Finally Wednesday and Thursday before the show it got so bad that I couldn't go to sleep after eating enough Tylenol PM to kill a bull elephant. I was actually pacing back and forth in my apartment because if I sat still the pain got so bad I thought I was gong to die. That is truly fucked up if you think about it.
I called Mark and asked him if he knew a dentist and he hooked me up. I went to the place Friday about 11 AM and they sat me down in the chair took an X-Ray and sure enough it was that fucked up tooth that I had broken off a piece of god knows when. They asked me what I wanted to do, save it with a root canal and crown or yank the son of a bitch out and roll around with a new hole in my head. I asked what the price was for each option. To save it would cost $2500, to yank it would cost $250. I thought "Fuck it, I can always use another hole in my head"..... yank away dear dentist. So she proceeds to tell me that the tooth has three roots and they are in there good and tight. Awesome, just what I wanted to hear. But the good news was she was going to cut my tooth into three pieces, while it was still in my head, and pull them out one by one. Talk about running bad.
At this point I knew nothing she could do to me would be as bad as what I had been living with so I told her to have at it. Fifteen minutes and 6 Novocaine shots later she was chopping up the offending tooth and sending it to the hellish end it deserved. Actually didn't hurt much at all. But felt weird when pieces of tooth kept falling on my tongue. I left there feeling like a million bucks and have ever since. Amazing how much nicer life is without feeling like you have midgets in your head doing road work. Just goes to show that the title of this blog is accurate. I was too stupid to just go get the damn thing fixed when I should of and had to let it get to the point where I thought I was gonna die before I did something about it. I am a donkey. Next time I will be smarter. I hope.
Shit, I didn't mean to write a book but there it is. I will be back with more stuff as we run up to the Frost vs SVB match. You can also follow what is going with me and and the shit I get into on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/TheActionReport
What I am listening to: North Mississippi All Stars
Later kids. Have a safe and happy 4th of July.