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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Vlog #5

Vlog #5

Happy New Years to all the skeletons of the Dark Orchestra.  

Lets crush 2014 2016 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

First Stop.....Andover!

First stop on the Attitude Nation UK/Ireland Tour was at AFS CrossFit.  The gym was packed with barbell warriors and bar slamming sons of guns!  I can't thank Gareth and everyone at AFS CrossFit enough.  Your town of Andover was beautiful, it couldn't be a better way to start the trip. 

The Blog below talks about gym life, community, and a break down of the 65th AN seminar.  

Again.....thank you to AFS CrossFit. We are barbell buds to the death! 

Andover 2016 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cab Driver

His coffee cup was half full and stained from such an ongoing use of consumption there was really no time for cleaning. A way of thinking I can relate to.  I leaned over his right shoulder from the back seat and whispered that I didn't have time for percentages.  His response was a puff from his half lit cigarette  and a drink from his luke warm coffee.  It would never have crossed his mind that the coffee cup was half empty, I know this from the simple smile that came across this unusual cab driver's face after taking a 3 in the morning sip of his best friend.  5 minutes into the cab ride and still no talking, even though we were having a great conversation while staring out into the dark night.  The smoke from his cigarette never bothered me, because it smelled just like the steam from my tea.  His elbow pointed out the window in an upward direction from all four windows being broken.  It looked as if we were sliding down the top of a house key, and into a laser tag arena from the outside lights shooting through the cab's windshield.

Another seminar to coach, another customer to drive.  Another late night training, another late night driving.  No music, which made the ride a little awkward at first, but after the silence crept in the outside world was blaring with sounds, sounds that made the cab driver bang on the steering wheel while occasionally grabbing his Babe Ruth bobble head so it wouldn't slide around the dash board.  He drove with such rhythm, such speed, but at the same time with such relaxation.  No worry in the world, just a cab drive with coffee and a midnight smoke.  A gold chain around his hairy neck that had a picture of an old lady in black and white.  A folded up book on how to draw, and a flashing clock that wasn't even set.  Time to him did not exist, what's the point?  What's the big deal with time anyway?  This is what he said to me without saying anything at all, only a very smooth drag from his smoke, and another smile after drinking miss brown eyes from his yellow finger nails and calloused hands. Happy, nothing more, nothing less.  Two people in the back seat as if we knew each other for years.  Or better yet... like we were never there.  Still no talking, besides a slight cough that led to another, then a long chug from the life juice that keeps him company on these late nights of driving.  Driving his life, driving us, driving coffee to his soul, only to drive to get more.  The whole world is asleep besides him.  Driving throughout the night passing through every green light you could imagine.  He waves to the local police as he drives by, while keeping his eyes straight forward, the cold wind outside blows out his cigarette, does he notice, of course not, he ain't got time to notice, he only has time to max out.  At this point, the smoke is completely out, but he still puffs away with his eyes on the road, focused, getting work done, training hard in his own way.  A part of the Attitude Nation and he doesn't even know it.

This cab driver reminded me why I ain't got time for percentages, because he doesn't.  There ain't no percentages for feeding your family.  There ain't no percentages for doing your job, being happy, riding the rhythm of the night with Babe Ruth.  There ain't no percentages for the hard workers, the late night smokers, the Miss Brown Eye's lovers, the cab drivers.  Weightlifting is like the real world, it's always max out time.  Windows broken like my back, coffee mug stained like my chalky hands, driving with speed and precision like a weightlifter does with the bar.  Rhythm of the night like rhythm in the gym.  There is no difference between this cab driver and me, from him to you, you to me.  No time to set the clock, we don't need to be reminded when and what to do because we are there before the clock could ever do its job.  We don't live because we are told to, we live because its what we want to do.  Freedom is what this man has that many don't.  Freedom is why we roll down the windows at night.  Freedom is why he drives with so much rhythm.  The cab driver has reminded me why I drink coffee, why I drive with the AC up and windows down, because we are free.

The cab driver dropped us off while still not speaking, only a popped trunk like Tyson Hips, and a bag grab and drop like the hit and catch drill.  We missed each other's eye contact, and then that was that.  He drove off into the night with smoke swirling out from his broken windows.  Off to max out in life, to be rewarded with family and happiness.  His cab was beat to bloody hell, his finger nails were yellow, his bobble head didn't stay in one place, and his coffee cup was a mess......... He ain't got time for percentages.

Max Out 2016

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Poker & Things

I love writing about pain.  I find the beauty in it all too moving.  Like losing in a poker game......the loss makes us more alive and open to the thought of winning.  More motivated to succeed, and more passionate about our direction in life. I guess I am addicted more to the struggle, than I am the victory.  How the victor became victorious is more intriguing to me than the view from the top.  For the clouds may look eye gazing and white, but the dark made us appreciate the sight. 

Cigarette smoke swiftly clouds the clay chips like fog on the wet road. You know.....the early morning buzz we get while others snooze in a comfort of average.  They sleep in a bed where the bar lays low. The strong don't just survive....we prosper.   Breathtaking the black road is while yellow stripes pass and flicker.  White lightening rods on the side make my two front windows lower.  I find that my writing usually starts on the way to my destination of writing....rather than the writing itself.  My thoughts play like a movie, as my athletes train in pain, their knees black and purple from the constant thud of hitting rock bottom.  Redirection to stand up fast.  Ballet with a bar we are, but once off the platform when the dance ends, we become crippled and full of rust.  Tired and slow of breath. Their new journey takes me back to the start of mine.  Almost as I am starting all over from my first meet to now.  The path is different, but so the same.

I pull up to the Barnes and Nobel as if I was smart. Accepted I truly am, as I blend in perfectly with the other brown coats and grey haired suits.  Only if they knew who I really was, what then?  Would they accept me like they do now?  In this club of knowledge while sound whispers throughout.  I write what I was thinking about on the drive over.  What plays in my head I literally put to paper.  I see it play out in my head, the dark thoughts mixed with caffeine, everything coming together in a blend of weightlifting.  I always say that the song that I listen to writes the blog, but as I keep writing I am finding out that all my surroundings play a big part.  This is why waking up early is a must.  More life to take in.  More smells to breath in.  All while people watching in Barnes and Nobel.....all while building a better sense of what the fuck is going on. 

Chips clack and slide as the felt of green is so smooth and at ease.  The sound of poker like the sound of weightlifting adds in addiction of its own.  For every thud of a chip or knock of a check, falls a red slab of beef or heels that cut sharp and fast.  All sounds that have feeling that move from the famous flip to peak of the cards, to the callused chalked hands meeting the cold bar.  Edge of our seat we sit, leather or medal, cards or bars, fingers stay crossed while hard work hopefully pays off.  Small injuries pop up like pimples on a teenage kid.  I sometimes just laugh at the site of this over dramatic issue.  Tape that shit up and shut up.  Get back on the bar and lift.  If you can't hack it then pack it.  Extreme I am.....yes.  Being extreme has worked well for me, I like to practice what I preach, and preach what I practiced.  It's a hard nosed sport that gets less credit and respect than anything out there.'s fucken hard, it hurts, so what.  Just like the great Dave Spitz use to tell me right before I approached a lift, "If it feels heavy it's's supposed to be's weightlifting".   Bam baby.  Love that line.  I love it because it's so damn true.  We need to stop fighting the weight and just lift the weight.  It's like my grandfather used to tell my mom as a kid, "You spend more time getting out of work, than when you do the actual work itself"  - Poppy.

Poker to weightlifting, felt to wood and pain to victor.  A morning drive to a book store to write.  A hidden black sheep takes cover amongst white.  The dark journey to bright, while painful knees and injuries try to act like they have some say in our goals. You reading this are probably getting ready to battle and fight!  For weightlifting practice is near, and even though this blog seems to merge in all different a weightlifter it makes perfect fucken sense.  Salute. 

The Dark Orchestra 2016

Friday, November 22, 2013

Midnight Train

Tuesdays Podcast called Breakthrough made me think of this blog I wrote earlier this year.  I felt it was necessary to re-post, just for the single importance of finding an individual who is at the crossroads.....who needs to get on the midnight train ASAP....and fucken go.

His thoughts rambled in his head with the swaying of the train.  Side to side as the train slid his duffel bag across the floor with every turn, as his forehead stayed stuck to the window looking out. The window was now warm against his head from the small ten minute naps he would take before being woken from his new found reality.  A reality that went against everything he has been working for over the years. A stable and successful career, wife and kids, a dog and a hobby, all that would make him come alive again like his first year in college. None of what his teachers told him when he graduated from college ever came true, just empty dreams and a piece of paper that says "your ready for the world young man".  He was, he truly was ready, but the world didn't seem ready for him.  His parents pushed old fashioned, as his friends pushed a more outgoing night life than he had wished for.  A girl wearing a bright red coat across the isle, seemed to be writing with the night light on above her head.  What was she writing about, he thought to himself, as he turned back to the midnight adventure that could end anywhere, or start somewhere.  A midnight train ride after an 11 hour flight across the world made his eyes heavy, and his thoughts blurry.  How he ended up flipping burgers for Wendy's he didn't know, or couldn't get to in his head.  His hand washed over his face as if he was getting out of the shower in the early morning while truly realizing that a big day awaited him.  He felt empty and broke, lonely and lost, confused and weak.  Hunched over in his hard but fuzzy seat that had now turned into his own apartment from boredom and lack of people traveling to a place called I don't know.  50 bucks, a pack of cigarettes, and a duffel bag of clothes to his name as the train whistled down the tracks guiding him to what he had been looking for for so many years now......him.

He guessed she was 23 years old, getting a better look at the side of her face from him leaning forward while staring out from the corner of his eye.  He thought he was safe from sight as his long hair waterfalled over his eyes. Her face was bright and glowing, maybe from the reading light above her head, but most likely from her bright red lip stick that matched her coat. She reminded him of the girl he always had a crush on, but never gained the courage to introduce himself to, as he sat on a train in Europe introducing himself to the world.....odd how life works.  Odd how courage only shows itself when your never expect it.  Her eyes flickered to the side catching his, as he threw his back against his seat while ducking his chin downward for shelter and comfort, all while still keeping an eye on hers.  Her eyes moved back to her book that laid over her crossed legs.  He was caught red handed, and felt so much like a moron that he felt like moving seats away from hers.  She was the most beautiful girl in the world, and he was the jobless stalker that had no plans nor goals.  Right before he grabbed his army style bag with more pockets than he would ever need, she broke a small smile and soon after started biting her right index fingers nail that of course was painted bright red.  She never glanced over this time, but a body language that made his heart race for the first time in a while.  His eyes stared forward as if a weight just lifted from his back.  His breathing relaxed, and his hands began to stop twitching from bad thoughts.  He soon closed his eyes, and fell asleep. 

Small chatter swept the train car, as a smell of coffee and buttered bread made its way to his little apartment bench he called home.  His forehead hurt from resting it against the window of the train.  He missed the sunset which was fine with him, he knew a few good hours of sleep was much needed.  The sun blasted through the window making all the lint and dust in front of his face appear clearly.  His squinted eyes moved around with his hands feeling his pockets, bag, and passport, yep, everything was intact and still with him.  There was one thing he wish he could look for and then touch, the girl.  He almost forgot.  Before looking over he wiped his eyes and pulled down his wrinkled sweatshirt before the rude realization that she was gone.   His hand turned white from him leaning against the seat looking up and down the isles.  In an odd way he felt good.  He felt they knew each other perfectly, and understood each other better than any.  He thought how amazing it was just to have that moment that rang friction between them both.  She would from that point on never leave his thoughts. 

"Hello.....Sir, are you awake?"  The train conductor asked as she leaned over like she was a volleyball player preparing herself for a serve. She had to be at least 6' 2", red hair, and with teeth as long as his travels so far.  "Yes, I'm awake," he said snapping out of a day dream of relaxation.  Something he was not used to feeling.  "We are at our final stop Sir, you must exit the train now".  She said with a smile, that ended with more of a hurry up kind of head nod.  His head fell back against the seat with such a careless motion.  "OK," he said quietly.  A street made of rocks met his feet, as the sun hugged his entire body.  No where to go, no job to get to, no burgers to flip, no judgmental friend and parents looking down upon him.  Just a cobbled street with people who had no idea where he came from, or who he is.  His degree no longer mattered, and his athletic ability meant nothing in this big world of compass chasing and soul searching.  He must have been in a small farming town.  The air was cold, but the sky was bright blue.  Green grass filled the hills that supported houses and farm animals. Children were playing tag with a bouncy ball, throwing it at each other to tag one another, he thought this was an odd game, as he hiked his bag up higher around his shoulder beginning to walk forward with nothing but possibility and land that layed in front of him.  He walked, thinking of the girl in the red coat, how tall the train conductor was, and how beautiful the landscape was he was walking in.  He didn't take the time to ask where he was, because frankly he didn't care.  This was the whole point of his journey, to get away from maps, roads, and time.  No more nine to five, no more opinions from others.  No more gambling on a life that was blocking happiness.  A full day of freedom stood in front of him.

The night closed in as he found himself settling down on a bench outside of an old shut down steel mill that looked as if the only life around the area was mold, plants and the occasional deer that would wind itself inside and out of the fallen posts and cracked open walls that once lived and gave a living to so many.  His bag as a pillow, and his clear mind as a nighttime song, cool air from the river below, as ringing bells from the fishing boats helped him close his eyes.  Some would call this being homeless, but he called it freedom. This is something that he wanted to do.  A necessary path in finding himself.  What would the next day bring, he asked himself out loud.  Who will I meet and what opportunity will I find?  How much better will I know myself tomorrow, he asked the bug crawling near his arm that rested under his bag he layed his head on.  He knees to his stomach, and his heart as open for the world to see.  He fell asleep with freedom by his side.

Freedom 2016

Thursday, November 14, 2013

UK / Ireland Tour!

Skeletons abroad!  Brew the coffee.  Download the house music.  Go to Rite Aid and get you some Donny Shankle style ACE bandages.  Chalk your hands while mean mugging that f'n bar!  For the the Attitude Nation will soon be on its UK/Ireland tour!  We will raise hell and break bars, only to conquer the weight with a mighty catapult heave!  check locations and dates at  

A New Adventure 2016

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Elephant Man

Chunks of puke blasted the inside of the little white airplane bags that once laid flat and steady under the red spread out chairs facing the stage.  Puke after puke... the bags filled with disgust as the rounded back lifter drew a scream of pain into the tunnel of bright lights that looked down upon him... showing the texture of his red skin and his squinted eyes.  Lay at rest young lad... for your dreams must suffer into the pain you hurdle, the scream of embarrassment shuns your pride as weakness floods the building that spins around you.  Kids cry, as parents cover their small tearful eyes.  Help! One man screamed from the back, while pushing over the table he once sat at handing out fliers for his small business.  He ran fast to the stage to try to save such an ugly piece of shit animal.  The lifter so torn and helpless... so wrong in every way.  A crime that must be stopped, that gets the worst of punishment... publicly hung for all to see.  Publicly stained by fruit being thrown, splashing upon his face like green slime on the bottom of the little white airplane bag.  Laughter collapses the room like the boiling chuckle of a witch's rant. Outcast this animal!... Outcast this puke of a human!  A rounded back monster has entered the sport they scream, under the seat they hide while eyes of blood leak from the lifter's struggle... a struggle only an animal could understand.  Knees hit like a car crash as sirens yelp.  90 degrees and half way up, legs fold like the jacket of a retired golfer.  Hung up and dry, only seeing the light if someone asks.  The golfer says, "Yes, of course!" as he rushes upstairs to show off his achievement to someone who actually gives a fuck.  A give a fuck is all this old man needs to better his day... even month that just maybe might leak into a year.  It all matters how many times he gets to show his green jacket off.  How many people care to ask, for interest lacks as he overflows with constant excitement.  Caring is a universal drug that will never be topped.  One this world needs more of, as I sit and write this I ponder how much more care I can put out to others, outside of my world and into others.

Carry this bar man! A coach yells from the left corner of the hunch back's shoulder.  The freak that peaks open one eye to see where he is at in the lift... for feeling of his art is now replaced with guilt on what others might say... in this example we must conquer defeat in standing with overcome.  Rising to the challenge while others whisper hate, for beauty lies within the beholder of the weight... on the bar and within.  Smile with blood young lad.  Let your yellow teeth dagger the ones who rage at your craft.  Let your knees buckle and your back round to prove to yourself the non-approval of others doesn't affect you. The one thing that is required from you...  a made lift, to make your life what you have pictured in your day dreams as night sets in, making your dreams clear. So clear that sound is removed from your ears while your thoughts pinch your skin. Reality is there... even though others don't see as clear. 

The forums start to type words of hate, as the judges cringe in horror.  "This weightlifter on stage has the worst technique," they whisper from back to front, as the athlete's elbows drop from the heavy clean taking him to his toes.  Heels off the platform as his hips rotate to the side like a plane spinning to its death.  His spine bent like the people in the audience hurled over as more green puke comes spooling out from their dirty mouths.  He No one knew. The place was in shock, as the computer monitors that looked like the chalk board in the Harvard hallways froze.  Lights lowered and dimmed as the middle light grew heat like the sun... casting a spotlight on the athlete who dared to stand with such ugly form, that even Betty left the room and took on the elephant man as a date. A pen fell... literally a pen, not a metaphor.  When the pin dropped a small drip of sweat dropped from the lifter's forehead.  Splash!  The drop was long and the decent was even longer.  The pen rolled like the weight on the outside of his bar.  Spinning fast like his mind. Collars were tight, as his collar bone was in pain.  The resting of the bar gave his chest time to breathe, as his throat felt suffocated from the cold bar piercing his skin.  Lips open like a gold fish as air entered like Thanksgiving dinner... and left just as fast once full.  Knees locked like a door at night, while kids asleep a gun should be in close sight.  Protect your house young man... protect your dignity and make this fucken lift!....This his father said in his mind.  His father knew nothing of weightlifting, but he did know about winning... and more about losing.  A man that knows more about losing than winning is the man you want in your corner.  For mistakes he has made will never be forgotten in the arms of others.  Let his cuts be your sail, as his blood flickers into the wind, guiding your dreams like a knife through skin.  Blunt.  In your face, and times advice you don't want to hear makes you stronger... especially in a jerk to the moon. 

His long legs shaky while his eyes wide open.  A ghost might as well passed the lifter on stage, as he motionlessly stands with a look of haze, for what they don't see is the concentration of rage.  The thought of dropping this weight on the faces who puke, killing all who doubt him, killing all who bared to look.  A dip with his hips as the bar bent with his motion.  A fast motion that kept the middle of the bar straight, while the ends like eagle wings, dipping low only to fly.  The oscillation of the bar turned metal into feathers.  The lifter's face turned long and yellow, as a beak grew and eyes of black stained his face.  The flap from the wings of the bird created a rustle of wind that pushed violently into the audience of puke.  A hurricane of sort, turning vomit into rain, as thousands flocked out from the competition room.  The computer monitors sparked, as the judges dodged the gusty winds as lights fell from the celling.  Chaos was created for those who watched, not the one who lifted. 

The eagle was born before those who saw disgust, from a person who just wanted to stand.  THEN THE BIRD DROPPED LOW, ONLY TO FLY SO HIGH!  I used all caps to assure all the readers who watched from the side, that he made this jerk... so we can all give the middle finger to the made up audience watching from the front.  Letting lightening and thunder blast through the fucken roof! This ain't a depressing blog, this is the truth! This is not bodybuilding, we decide a win or lose.  No such thing as a bad make, only a solid bright gold medal up for the take.  The lifter made the lift while the judges pushed white, as papers and blinds flew from all sides. For the people left in the room still watching, taking cover was the only option. Three whites he made the lift.  The room at this point was empty from the wind it carried.  Only a few people saw his testimony to the bar, as the weight stayed steady and high, breathless but alive.  He then let out a roar for all to hear, a roar that translated to this................

Give me my fucken gold. 

A beautiful made lift 2016

Friday, November 8, 2013

Bo Bo

Inspired by my childhood growing up on a horse farm.
In loving memory of my childhood horse, Bo Bo.  You will never be forgotten. 

Teeth yellow from smoke, as gums draw blood from a lack of brushing. Saliva stretches from jaw to jaw like cob webs banding together from tackle box to old saddles in a dust filled horse barn.  Spit flies from an athlete's mouth like hay particles shattering into a cloud of haze, as the watchman heaves bails by one knee into puzzle pieces... hand by hand, gloves to orange twine.  Stack after stack he works like art... as the horses watch with hunger.  Hunger from the weightlifter's eyes fill with blood veins that cast upon the white glossy outlook of bright lights glaring back in a mist of hands that clap like whips to the back of a horse. The indoor arena the horse circles, makes the crack of the whip extra loud, as the echo of the athlete's yell has now turned into a scream for all to hear.  One persons head drops from the back of the room from understanding, as shade can comfort such emotions... good and bad. The loud nay from the horse moves through the barn like a base jumper passes mountains and trees, as the horse turns gracefully, each front knee raises high and mighty, confident and powerful, loud and in your face......the barn becomes alive with cheer, as the horse performs its masterful craft. 

Dust kicks up as hooves trot violently... a spray that only a slalom skier could duplicate from a cut through crisp morning air, on a glass sheet of reflection like eyes they stare.  Gripping the handle not to fall, the skier leans like a knife cutting through the wake like a weightlifter creating a massive earthquake.  Crack! The place goes wild, the horse nods his head as his perfectly combed mane swings like hands that raise in victory.  Sweat that tells a story makes the athlete's journey more humbling, as the sweat makes the black horse glossy like a ghost in the old barn of dust and webs.  The smell of the barn like gas at the station, manure and the leather saddles makes the barn rich in smells.  Eyes water from the weightlifter's eyes from the pride that bottles his throat, an achievement of life makes a tear splash against the wood, as the fruit of his labor tastes salty and good.  Eyes water from the smell of the barn, as both sides of the breezeway open and long.  Wind passes through like young horses live and die only to give birth to new.  Old wheel barrels tell stories of hard work and purpose... as the weightlifter's ripped shoes stand perched on a podium of high... overlooking the mountain he just climbed.  The soul of the barn speaks to you when you open each stall.  The horse nods with understanding and excitement... for it's time to roam the outdoor pastures with other friends to run with... open world with open wind, away from the barn the horses live.  The weightlifter pops champagne celebrating being a champion in a sport where so many die.  Open path to more success the gold medal speaks into the ear of the beholder... as this gold medal brings a reluctant sigh to the athlete's state of peace.  The horse runs fast for training it's not, his technique is all over and wild for this can't be taught.  Freedom and happiness is something that lies within.  This barn and this gym are the same, for both have stories and souls from the decades they have withheld and always will withhold.  This is a story about a barn and a gym, a weightlifter and a horse... both athletes, both freaks to some... both with much to overcome. 

The horse takes a deep breath as the weightlifter breaths out.  The horse's knees wrapped for the cold, as the weightlifter's calves stay wrapped from pain.  Both will sleep will blankets tonight, as rain makes a beating sound from the roof they sleep under.  Both tired from a day of activity, both dreaming about the next, for a new day will soon arrive as the sun rises high.  The barn will smell like leather and the gym will creak with water leaks.  Both the horse and the weightlifter are athletes... both are at peace. 

BO BO 2016 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Slingshot

A Fun Drill

New Training Video on our YouTube Channel "What The F*#@!"  

Weightlifting 2016

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bloody Smiles

Inspired to re post this blog by Games Athlete Chris Clyde.  Thank you Chris for talking freely about the impact this blog had on you.  At times blogs can be buried and forgotten....only to re surface by the skeletons of the Orchestra of Dark.  I salute you,  I salute the meaning of this blog,  I salute every skeleton who reads the song-full words from the caffeine stained violin keys. I salute the emotions we all share together to better ourselves in the sport of weightlifting and in life.  Salute. 

Our smiles, bloody from the bar hitting our chin, with shaded faces from the dead tree that hangs over our platform, and black eyes that seem to stay hidden from the hood that lays over our beat up thoughts.  We like to think we have cast them out, only to find that we are the ones who have been out casted.  A double edge sword makes my hand bleed from emotion and too much coffee.  Word choices I wish I could take back, but an overall point that I hope killed the 500 pound elephant.  Keep walking hooded man, stay invisible, get to the gym without being seen.  Train with rhythm, train with pride, train in the dark only to make the light feel warm on your skin.  Drink your coffee while the rush of life rushes down to your toes.  I understand you, you understand me, they understand mediocracy. They understand what they have been told to understand. We understand what our minds tell us to understand.  You know who they are, they come in all different shapes and sizes, they are whoever you see them as, they are different for everyone. They will never understand what we do and why we do it.  We live by a different set of rules, three white light rules, a program of rules that keeps us steady, strong, and balanced.  Speak loud to the ones who listen.  Be strong for the ones who fight with you, understand you, want to understand you, believe in the goal, the task at hand.  Change lives, while at the same time fully commiting to yourself.  I heard your speech at the end.  My chipped tooth and bloody mouth smiled with reassurance that at times this life does not offer.  Only we can make the world around us.  The world we are making is loving, strong, and powerful.

Keep walking, keep training, keep an eye open for the ones who want to join our shaded world.  Our jungle of iron, our beds of dreams, and our hearts full of anger and happiness.  I love this sport more than anything, but this sport is not what brings us together, it's the lifestyle we have created, not joined, but created.  The iron life, the bloody mouth way of teaching, living, learning, and achieving.  A bloody mouth means we have bitten the dust, hit the floor, hit the wall, but got the fuck up to smile about it.  White teeth shine through the blood only because we brush our teeth a lot, "why?", they ask, well actually they don't ask why because we don't exist to them.  Our teeth are white because we take care of ourselves.  We not only train hard, but brush hard.  We don't only brush hard but we eat breakfast hard.  We do everything hard, and because of this addiction, we even take the hard way to get to our goals.  We like hard, even if easy seems easier.  A hard life means tougher skin.  Your hard life means that I have something to learn from you, and vice versus.

We are not training, our skeletons are training.  Our deepest darkest cuts that slash across our chests, bleed through our shirts while we gasp for more air.  More is what we want, more pr's, more training, more life, more motivation, more family, more kids, more of everything.  If there is one thing that weightlifting has taught me, it's that the pain is good, pain is the best coach anyone could ever ask for.  Give me pain over pleasure, and my pleasure will be greater than any pleasure ever experienced. I see you under that hood, to me you are clear as day, even though to them you are a freak, a non existing outcast of a human life. Why are all our gyms tucked away from the population?  Why are our gyms off a small deserted road? We are shunned, not welcomed.  We train in the darkest of the gyms.  But here is what they don't understand, they are welcome any time.  We take the high road.  Our gyms are brighter than any Gold's Gym.  Our gyms are warmer than any 24 Hour Fitness.  Our dirt is gold, our bloody smiles are wide, or scarred hearts beat the hardest.  Our skeletons have become our friends, a bond of acceptance and understanding.  A brotherhood of freaks who live in the dark, let's keep training.

Freedom 2016

Monday, November 4, 2013


Freezing fucking cold, as her whiter than a ghost hands beg for the warmth of a cracking fire.  Snow flakes slowly fall amongst her open palms, like a plane landing safely on its runway. Fingers laid back like the snow on the ground, open but tense, solid but breakable.  Her muscles ache with pain... pain like water to a burn... pain like the wind to a paper cut... pain like the below freezing morning wind on her bare naked body. She sits on the edge of a carousel dragging her feet, open toed, across the surface of the snow like a fishing line, gliding against the glassy untouched water.  Fucking cold.  The icy snow puncturing her feet draws spots of red, like an artist drawing a face of sadness.  Tears to feet like tears to eyes, the red spots draw blood for protection, as the cold tries its best to keep the blood dry and away.  The white snow stains her skin to white, as her insides bleed blood to sight.  A battle raged on a woman's feet, on this early morning sunrise carousel. Her ideas and dreams become more alive than ever, blurry but focused... as the breath taking cold elevate her emotions to a new height never experienced before now. 

She is butt naked, and by this point her butt is most likely stuck against the medal seat of circles. As her naked body spins faster and faster, the wind stabs her from skin to spine, speeding her heart up with eyes of wide.  She is alive and she feels cold but steady, relaxed but tense; she spins with her feet on the ground and her arms reached high.  Her head leans back as her hair becomes like rain, falling around her sight as the sun comes piercing in.  Heavy and light, fast and slow, her emotions turn and flow, like water from a fall as the sun through the clouds never move.  Her vision is straight up, as her body is slowly dying.  She has been out in the morning breeze for much too long... even waterfalls freeze when the weather draws too long.

At this point, her naked body feels nothing, as the air that passes moves around her breasts like a face under a mask.  Hidden and untouched, the unrecognizable cold is replaced with warmth from the fire within.  Every spin makes her skin strong and tough, as her goals draw closer and closer... with a simple stretch and a reach she could touch them.  The cold had lost, as she has won, her feet now red and colored from the blood that has drawn victory amongst the daggers and fears melting from the sun.  The beautiful woman that spins naked on the snow... she has become numb to the powerful force that she had always been afraid of.

Mother nature is a powerful queen, yet this woman's body is an undiscovered phenom. Within it lies a great magical power she had not, nor possibly would have ever understood nor experienced.  What can this cold weather do to a body that sleeps and walks under a blanket of pain?  Will this pain she feels from the cold daggers of wind take away her pain by adding more pain? Yes, she is dying... but by dying she is living.  The more she sustains the closer to death she walks... hours have went by and her heart has almost stopped.  Facing death without feeling its wrath, her body like ice as her breath breaths success.  Eyes open as she stops the carousel with her feet, like an anchor she stomps her feet deep.  Bam! On a dime she stands tall and proud, naked and loud, near death... but more alive than ever before.  She smiles at mother nature with her teeth whiter than snow.  Her hair falls amongst her face with water dripping to her toes. She cannot feel a thing besides her dreams.  She walks away with steam and passion... strength and emotion... a body of numb with goals to overcome.

Freezing Fucking Cold 2016

Friday, October 25, 2013

Team AN at the NC State Championships

I could not be more proud of my team.  They fought hard....and battled to the end.  First meet, first kill.  For there are many more to come as we continue marching up this steep and muddy hill.  Goals were reached while PR's were slaughtered, celebrating not only victory.....but the successful escape from the ongoing temptation of the Devil In A Red Dress.  American Open bound we walk side by side, hand in hand, in numbers we are strong, individually we are warriors.  Our dreams stay in focus as our heads rise high.  This feeling....this smokey aftermath....this blood on our hands and the pride in our heart, is a reminder of why we fight everyday in a gym of hurt, sore, and the ongoing backlash of what society on the outside has labeled us as......freaks.  For freaks we are!  And proud we stand!  Every weightlifter must raise their hand to announce to the world their plan! Gold medals is why.....while victory within lays at peace....a feeling and an understanding we never understood before entering this sport, nor felt. A gasp of air you breath, as your view on the podium looks wide and far, magnificent and breath taking.  For once the green monster is allowed to stand.....and stand tall you shall.  Soak it in while remembering the feeling before training drowns you once again, deep under water where the darkness becomes home, pain becomes comfort, and the ground you see draws blood from your teeth.  This is why......this is why we train......for the feeling of medal around our neck, and a single individual goal being reached.  Next time training becomes hell for hell it is.....remember the view that once looked over the world as the sun raised warming your face while shinning its light on a knight of battle.  When the smoke settles is when our site is so clear.  High on top lays a medal that makes us shed a tear, reach for the stars young athletes......for your journey has just begun.  We will win and lose many battles.....but the war is ours! 

Rabbit - 100kg - 125kg - Gold  (Qualified for AO)

 Jessica North 73kg - 90kg - Gold

Dallas Hunter 120kg - 146kg - Gold  (Qualified for AO)

Jessica Michie 67kg - 80kg - Silver  (Qualified for AO)

Chris Amenta - 111kg - 144kg - 4th Place  (PR snatch - C&J- Total)

Justin Lovingood - 120kg - 150kg - Silver  (PR Meet Total)  

Jordan Gayer - 90kg - 0 -  (Injured shoulder) 

Genie Francisco - Did not compete due to joining the team last and missing registration dead line.  She is already qualified for the AO.  

Some lifts were missed on film....including Dallas Hunter's 120kg snatch -  and Chris Amenta's 141kg PR C&J.

The Bar Slamming Incident will be coming out separately tonight.  

Team AN! 

Team Attitude Nation 2016 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Inside

Character influenced by Dallas Hunter

Story inspired by us all

His walk was staggered, and his limp was obvious.  His shoes were ragged, while his laces ran free, bouncing from side to side with every heavy step he took throughout the cold evening city than ran pity amongst him.  Looks of sorrow followed with looks of disgust.  Looks of shun from head to toe, as a dirty beanie meant homeless to those who grabbed their kids to gain space from the man who had fallen into the cracks of life.  October leaves dance around his feet on this windy cold day.  His eyes closed as his beard tilted up, facing the cloudy murky sky with a pause from the long walk.  His beard red, his eyebrows brown, his shirt dirty white, as the deep stretched out V-neck exposed the bruises on his chest, and the cuts on his neck.  Pale white skin from a lack of sun.....pockets inside out for money is gone.  His grey sweats that fit tight around the legs feel comfortable and warm on legs that dig deep in mud. Hair salon shops laugh, while kids out of a candy store play tag.  Grocery carts rattle as business folks chatter.  The sounds of laughing make his eyes drop low like his V.  Memories of a time where life was smooth, an easy smile made a comfortable mood.  Now a smile comes once a full moon, as the dark casts a light that leaves too soon.  The city is alive while this man is dead.  His sweats hang low and saggy around his waste from the absence of his drawstring that once tied tight and high, for now he must grab the front to keep them up and on.....a jail house walk while singing a jail house song. The red hair that covers his forearms cuts like a thorn, as his non-hydrated body pleads for water, only to be given coffee.  One more cup of coffee and the body might fall.  Dry up and cast a shadow amongst the concrete wall, leaning and breathing for life as others watch him fall.  No one cares, for an outcast he is, a street bum that can't find his way in a maze of city streets, lost in a world of white sheep.  Lost to be never found, addicted to drugs and robbery he must....for this man is the leach of the world and must....must be crushed.

Dry blood sleeps upon his knuckles of white, finding a home where consistency lives...makes even blood sleep tight.  His long red beard dry and tangled, matted and fragile.  High to his eyes and low on his neck, his beard is a mask that hides who he was, barring the boy he has left behind.  The beard is a warrior's cape that represents independence.  The beard is an expression of man hood, fight hood, a new path hood.  A drop the boy off and grow a pair hood.  His beard is a shield of fire that keeps white sheep away from its heat and mass, strength and power, a V-neck of dirty sweat mixed with bloody knuckles that string painfully in the shower.  His bold beard that screams for water keeps the city street herd he gets close to his destination from the far away place he started. 

His masterful beard looks more beat up than him, but what some don't see is the strength within...under what the skin hides....some don't see, that the inside is where the beard grows, starts, and blossoms.  The roots of where we started is where our strength is born.  Forgetting our past and what lies beneath... is the down fall of so many that now lay dead in these city streets.  His legs might be weak on the outside, but strong like bull beneath.  This broke homeless looking bum keeps step at a time.  Every step counts, no matter how he truly feels.  The devil in a red dress awaits with open arms around each turn, as a young lady working at a bank firm firmly grabs his hand giving him a chance with them he is weak.....weak and wounded......

The red bearded man of an awful smell and lips of dry, stumbles into the gym with a limp of pride.  He slaps the hands of many as home he is......he grabs the bar with knuckles of pain....for it is time for weightlifting practice......once again.  

Strong 2016 


Monday, October 21, 2013

Blood Shot

The white glaze that once circled her brown eyes now lays in a bath of blood, as a shot of warmth meets the cold outside air.  Steam moves like fog around the icy mountains that stagger her on point journey where land meets water.  Throughout her tunnel vision......each step will soon push her closer to feeling alive, once the blood from her eyes falls fast upon her moving feet.  As the dragon flying above her breathes fire amongst the now charcoal black trees..... she adds another taste of blood for the rush of bravery and balance.  Blood so heavy her eyelids droop, low like the bank she walks to, heavy and deep like her past.  Evil pulled them down to see what lies within the eyes that look out, to figure out how someone so fragile can become so strong.  The black dots that never seem to blink have now been infected with the blood she has drawn so heavy.  A shot of reality to help with reality.  A shot of warm meeting cold to create some sort of fucken balance that this life has given her.  Her hands ice cold as the rocks of gravel under her feet roll with crunch as the path she takes leads her to the destination of her choosing.  With every step a drop of blood falls, warming her with a coat of white as her skin turns ghost from the loss of blood.  The evening turns dark like her soul, as the ice around her melts from her warmth.  She gives off a certain vibe that makes the knees from others crumble and grow weak.  Strong with a taste of bold, some can't seem to handle her power, some can't seem to swallow her misery, her pain.... her faults.  Some can't seem to handle what truth she holds.  The smell of sharp, the after taste of regret.  She is you.... the direction of love, real and never forgotten, for some stay hidden away from the bank she walks toward.

A cold night chills the plants and trees that bend like ballet dancers, falling and swinging like a play that asks for her approval.  For claps are unseen, for the blood has drawn shade over the already black holes that sink into her head.  A dark roast of fire burns her stomach with every step, closer and closer she walks.... faster and faster her heart pumps, moving her feet at a steady pace over the frozen hills and green landscape she calls necessary.  Fight within released from the hell outside makes the skin turn from the reader to her, as she screams to the moon while digging her long nails into her palms.... a grip so tight only blood could be drawn.  For blood is what makes any shot swirl and scream, come alive and dream, to walk the night with a dream in mind, to get closer to this reality becomes a responsibility that weighs heavy in her hand.   As her mind turns, the mixture of both energy meeting energy rattles a heavy blend of storm and rain, wet as the melting rocks that slowly turn into her brown eyed pain. Becoming a part of myself, you the reader whoever mixes two toxins of the some sort will figure, a storm of some sort will violently rain down upon the ones who fucked us.  Giving all hell to capture, for freedom within is without blood from within.  She bleeds the shot of her life which makes mine spike with fierce revenge, raining hell on those who struck me down, for cuts on my back keep me from drowning in hell.  My own scars are what keeps me curing the ones of others.  I will cut my skin deep with the nails I have grown, so others can't.  She adds an extra shot, so they can't.

She met her edge, as the water met her lips.  Red like her eyes.... red like the sea she looks over.  Home bound, and ready to live under a liquid layer where fear cannot reach.  Her eyes now closed, as her toes  met the fall, while her heels stayed steady on the bank of ice and rock.  Still cold, still night, for she felt warmth as the shot of confidence met her that night.....she then took a deep breath.....

"Your name is strong, you must kill it before they kill you".  - unknown

Miss Brown Eyes 2016

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Monsters & Coffee

What a morning it is.  Crisp cold monster after a tall hot coffee.  One dripping with sweat warming the soul with ease and serenity.....while the other burns the throat from its ice cold daggers when chugged at a fast pace.  ah yes......motivation rings throughout my ears, as the the sound of white buzzers fill the gym and the cracking of an almost broken bar spins closer to meeting the graveyard of steel and dust.  Miss brown eyes dances on my right shoulder whispering songs of sex and passion......while the monster on the left tells cold stories of my past, guiding my anger out with a middle finger and a chair thrown to its death.  Fuck you chair, fuck you world.  I wear a gold grill placed on my teeth to smile at the ones who once kicked dirt upon my dreams....who laughed at my potential.....and who doubted my every move.  A smile of gold that tells a story of a grid that lead me here....with you.  A half cracked smile that once lived homeless with broke.  I smile of clean to say no more to the Crystal smoke that once filled my lungs with a high that makes sense why so many would turn in everything for another taste.  The problem with meth is that it's just that good.....I'm not going to lie.  But....the best thing about the gym life society is that it's even that much better.  Gym life for life as we drink coffee side by side.  Hand in hand, filling our stomach with swords and weapons, ammo and shields, attacking the society that we once fell capture to. will now feel the wrath of my bar, as an earthquake will take you all down to the cracks of hell and into the dark where we the Orchestra call home.

Another coffee.....this time mixed with monster for todays openers.  A hit and quit type day.  Gearing for a meet this saturday.  Gearing up for the small glimpse of light before being dragged back down.  LETS BREATHE! This my friend is what a meet is....the surface of the water where our heads meet the sun!  Reach and grab, hold steady and then stab! Dig your knife deep into the belly of the beast for a feast with the ones who fight in the gym you call home.  Once you are a part of a mafia that stretches from this blog to the ones breaking blood vessels to watch you stand.  Yell, "Mother fuckers!" We alone are weak, for numbers make us strong.  As each bars slams, the offices across the street gather canned food, as all the prisoners to money and retirement 4 1 k's panic.  Every bar that is broke the trainers at planet fitness gather their weak-minded sheep under ground for fear  For fear of higher standards, and morals that fall from the ski the size of beach balls, crashing upon car windows and shattering "fuel economy cars".  I work hard to put gas in a car.  I don't need or care if a car gets great gas milage.  I drive fast n furious, loud and bold, in a car that eats gas like I eat sheep.

This morning I am writing in the front office next to others, in a room of sun and smiles....maybe this is why the skeletons are in such a good mood, positive, and outgoing.  My dark office with a flicker of light can make our skeletons draw dark and painful......which I do truly love.  I love the dark.  I love pain.....why?  Maybe why is not the right question.  Maybe why not is the right thought process.  Why is it frowned upon to feel safe in the dark?  To feel pain from the past? Embracing our weakness? Atmosphere is everything. Salute.

White Monster 2016
Newest Team ANW video

Friday, October 11, 2013

Juggernaut Training Systems Interviews The Lion Killer & Myself

Thank you Chad Wesley Smith for being a guest on Weightlifting Talk, and for conducting this interview with Donny Shankle and myself. 

USA 2016 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tiger Blood

Naked I stand.......tiger blood I drink.  White sheep skinned fur hangs from the back of my neck, falling like a cape and dragging against the muddy ground behind me.  I stand tall and sharp, my head turned to the side like my sword....jagged and on point, down and in, ready and steady.  Blood runs down my face as I close my black eyes and drink, drink what has given me great success....and even more failure.  My double edge sword cuts my hand while I spin my blade around and around, taking out the skin from my palms like a grapefruit.  A rhythm warrior, only left with a steady rhythm of nightmares.  Nightmares that keep this fearless man in fear, while dreams stream out, long and cold under a bridge where water runs under, while others walk over.  Tiger blood cuts tallies from the point of his blade into the pierce of his skin, one by one men have taken their last breath, as a cut from their skin now lays at rest on his.  This blood called tiger makes men do extreme acts of good or you use this curse is up to you, the reader.  This blog is about the man who gave you and I this curse.  A blog about a man who came about tiger blood and what he did with it.  This blog is about you and me.  

His home is made up of other's abandoned problems, left for dead skeletons, and forgotten relationships.  He sleeps on rocks that have been beaten by the tide, as the sand from the wash of others builds walls high and strong under his bridge of protection and capture.  The stream runs red with blood, as the bridge above marches with new hopes and dreams, as the warrior underneath battles demons left behind from the white sheep above.  Drinking the blood from dead skeletons gave him the strength beyond anything anyone has seen.  The strength to swing his sword violently through the guts of the ones above.  The naked warrior promised with every drink from the red stream, that he would take vengeance on those weak minded souls who left their own skeletons to die and rot, turn sour and be forgotten......he would take his sword and bounty those very people who gave him the curse he carried inside of him......the curse of extreme emotion.  Heads fell to the ground with each swing of his sword, rolling heads were then thrown to the side for bears and birds.  His rusted sword had to cut at times rather than slice, for the past of the ones he was killing made his swing heavy and his sword dull from left in the rain emotions.  Tiger blood pumped through this warrior's body so hard that he at times would scream at the headless bodies before ripping their hearts out and drinking the dripping blood that was left, trying to move like traffic in New York.  He drank blood and became strong, he drank the blood from those who didn't know how to use the blood they had.  He opened his mouth and began then to eat their bones.  One by one he slaughtered every single person who walked over the bridge above his home, drinking blood to gain endurance, and eating their bones to build strength.  His face was covered in blood splatter and spaghetti looking guts.  His knee would meet the ground as his hand would enter their chest, ripping out everything that once laid like a puzzle.....complicated but complex and scattered.  Hundreds dead, that murdered a hundred themselves.....he was finally feeling good about himself.  He felt he was doing right.....was he?  I have no idea....I'm just telling the story of the man who once took bounty on those who drew blood to a stream that he drank out of.  Blood from skeletons he adopted and took in....literally.  Skeletons who gave him strength and nightmares.  I am telling you a story of the man who killed hundreds......and saved hundreds.  

5,000 years ago, this warrior under the bridge of red, made love to a woman a few years later.......a woman that was immediately infected by this curse.  She soon became the first female hunter all the tribes had ever seen.  She killed more animals than all the male hunters combined.  She somehow felt she had the strength of a million people.......what she didn't she had the strength of a million skeletons.  

You the reader......let me introduce our long lost relatives.  

The Curse 2016 

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Closet

His head hanged low, as the folds of his Asian eye lids drew shade over his regret.  Two eyes that have seen hell, as abandonment and pain pump through his veins as he sits on the white crinkled paper in a world of white and a smell of death.  A time and place where everything stops, and the world focuses in on a single man.  A man that is a master of capture, a slave owner of skeletons, and a warden of the biggest death row prison known to mankind.  A man that turns the other way, for the pain burns when confronted.  A man that has experienced heaven......only to live in hell.  Skin beaten, hands clammy.  A worried look comes over a man that never looks worried.  For worried is an emotion never shown nor confronted.  Sad is something too close, for looking back hurts the most.  Walk fast, at times run, Bonny and Clyde himself and his gun.  Never get caught is a philosophy that has caught up.  Now silence takes over, reality knocks.  His head of knowledge and mastery turns to the side as his eyes continue to lay low, almost as if he is being from what lies in front of him.  Bonny has been caught, and now fear meets Clyde.  My father of strong, must now meet his weakness......his own skeletons.

A small tint of orange met his black boots as the doctor's office drew dark.  The only light coming from the bottom of the closet door that flickered up his legs.....leaving his face barely lit from the reflection of the orange lake below his feet.  He felt better in the dark.....he always has.  Years of excuses, has finally run out, as the closet door started to shake.  The banging sound of bone to wood made his hands bury his face for comfort, as the reality started to enter through the closet cracks.  The skeletons wanted their freedom, the skeletons needed him to become free.  Mad at himself......mad at the world.  His father passing makes his gut turn.  Pain that makes him want to throw up, and at times......escape.  An older daughter that leaves him breathless at night, turns his pillow into a clenched blanket of might.  Someone to talk to he should, but his skin is stubborn, while his skeletons suffer.  He will never be free, unless he  enters the Orchestra.  

His beat up body and unhealthy lifestyle made it hard to get off the bed. The white doctor's sheet crinkled as his left hand pushed against his left knee to get up.  He stood outside of the door now quiet.  His breathing became fast, as his heart raced like his life.  He reached out his hand and turned the knob.  The door opened with ease, almost as if someone pushed from the inside.  His whole body was covered in a glow of orange.  The warmth of the light made his breathing calm, and his eyes open wider.  His skin looked brighter as his body became lighter.  Already a sense of relief...for just entering his past was a tough step.  A skeleton dressed in red with gold cuff links asked for his ticket.  The skeleton's red locomotive looking hat hung off to the side, shading one side of his face.  His eyes were hollow for my father's eyes were his.  Sight connected with sight, heart beat to heart beat, emotion to emotion they were more connected than the skeleton's bones to joints.  One in the father never understood this.....for my father is his worst skeleton.   The ticket ripped as the bony usher drew his arm out to the side with a small smile and a tilt of the skull, guiding and welcoming my father to the 5 story hall filled with endless rows of seats looking down upon the empty black stage.  His hand laid out flat in the air, feeling each seat as he walked in wonder.  One of those walks where your eyes and thoughts are so far gone, that how he knew where to walk was amazing.  His slow but long stride moved my father up the first batch of stairs to the second story balcony.  He turned down each isle keeping his eyes located on the old wood stage in front of him.  His feet sticky to the floor each time he took a step.  The sound was as if someone was ripping tape.  The ground was filled with salt....salt from every tear he ever drew.  Salt from every person he hurt and who hurt him.  Salt from abandonment, loss, happiness and the biggest one of all.....regret.   

While still keeping his head forward and eyes glued to the stage, he blindly felt the arm rest with his left hand, and then sat down in the very back row on the second story.  So far back.....he was almost hidden.  Hidden from from what he had been hiding from his whole life.  A big deep breath made his black v-neck shirt move up then down.  His hands knocked against the arm rest as if he was singing a song.  His head now rotated side to side, then up and down in a nervous scurry all around the huge auditorium.  Excited for how far he has gone, but in fear for what lies ahead.  At least one hundred skeletons from every angle of the stage slowly walked out to the stage each holding a different instrument.  The skeletons were dressed in all like my dad's suits in the 90's.  Black like the nights filled with smoke and snow.  Black like the sports cars he used to drive when he was once rich.  Black like the up all night nightmares.  Black like the circles around his eyes, black like ashes from his burnt relationships.  The skeletons took their place with such ease.  No applause.....for there was no one else to watch my father.  There was no one in the audience to watch my father play from the second row balcony.  His fingers become stiff.....while his head tilted to the side.  His v-neck turned into a tux, while his black circles slowly vanished from his face.  And then it happened.......he started to play!  The Orchestra of skeletons played loudly with him! The ground filled with salt as my father cried while the violin strings sung.  His body now moving with rhythm.  Side to side, his body moved while his eyes swayed violently with every stroke of his arm. Blood ran down his nose from playing so hard. The sounds of the violin was crying with pain and emotion.  The strings were screaming as his eyes now laid closed and his eyebrows danced above his eyes.  The skeletons on the stage were trying to keep up with him, but falling short from the speed and violence my father was playing with.  The skeletons were smiling at each other as salt water began to creep up their white bony legs. At this pace they would all soon drown from my father's tears.  The water was now up the the skeleton's necks.  They raised their instruments high above the water to continue the song of my father's life.  They played with passion.  They played with joy and pride.  As my father did the same.  

The song stopped.......the Orchestra went dead quiet.  My father's breathing was fast.  His eyes slowly opened to an empty stage.  The sweat was falling fast down his forehead stinging his eyes.  He stood with weakness from the journey he just experienced.  You could hear a pin drop from the silence that was surrounding him.  Silence that usually haunted gave him a sense of peace.  He felt different, he felt light, he felt......well.....good.   He made his way to the closet door that led him to this world he hasn't yet figured out, but at the same time completely understands.  He opened the closet door to find all of his skeletons waiting for him on the other side.  Hundreds packed into the doctor's office, all smiling from gaining their freedom, and seeing my dad gain his as well. 

Let your skeletons from your past guide you to the future of tomorrow.  

I love you, Dad.  I am so glad we have rebuilt our relationship even bigger and better than before.  Today is day one of the rest of our lives.  I am glad my skeletons have met yours.  

Welcome The Dark Orchestra.  2016 & beyond 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mrs. Elders

My eyes wander as my elbows meet my knees.  My bouncing feet shake my body, swaying me side to side.  My shoulders drop and my head swivels side to side as I reach down to drink my coffee.  As if a boxer dodging a punch.  My eyebrows raise at random times, as the skin on my forehead crunches together.  Thoughts pinch my brain, as I slide both hands up my face and down the back of my head, only reaching for my coffee all in the same fluid motion.  Smooth I move, patient I am not.  Someone just walked into the gym... My head turned fast as if I have been up for three nights.  Paranoid by sounds and people.  Uncomfortable and completely vulnerable.  A little head nod to the person who just walked in to train, duffle bag and all.  My quick glance of hello is followed by a glance at his gym bag, as my eyes move a million little clicks around the man as he walks to his resting bench. Old but sturdy, tired but alive. A lonely weightlifter with a lonely bag, make for a perfect couple.  A smile from memory, followed by an all to familiar pinch from my head that now turns my stomach as I lean further over my knees, making my elbows sting from the pressure of myself and a thousand skeletons I carry around with me scream with pain.  The best fix for the weight you carry, is the weight you lift.  I roar from my seat as a coach should, passion and fire spill out of my mouth, as my blood pumps through my body like the door opening to Maximus once he reunites with his family.  Love for the game, and love for my team keeps my feet bouncing up and down with a certain rhythm that no one could repeat.  Every athlete moves differently, every athlete must paint their own masterpiece. Every athlete must move to move, lift to make, and slam to succeed.  A simple whisper in your ear from your past demons can make you lift weight you never thought could be possible.  All this... I have been thinking while sitting in my small black chair in the middle of the gym.

A single sweat drop enters my eye ball.  I never blink.  Even though the pain is masterful, I keep looking forward at the rows of platforms that meet this wide open ocean.  Dust replaced with sand scurries over the wood creating a small clicking sound and a loud whistle from the wind meeting the wide open beach.  I still sit, now motionless from thought, and paralyzed from my surroundings.  The smell of ocean you can probably smell just reading this blog.  The cool air passing your body is refreshing but sad, as it passes you without any care in the world.  It's true, you can read without reading, just like the wind can pass without stopping.  You can lift without thinking just like the bar moves without trying.  The beauty of sport is so beautiful.

Two old teammates living in separate rooms in an a warehouse off highway 65 that lays between an old dead wood tree and Mrs. Elders home by the old church.  A small quiet town that unfortunately runs into an abandoned steel mill that has been shut down for a decade.  Jobs lost and hard time followed, now home to myself and my teammate who breath cold floors and bathe in showers of unanswered questions.  Bouncy balls thrown over and over against the walls of our rooms mix perfectly with the sound of rats that scurry behind the brown walls that we call shelter.  We leave during the day, unnoticed and blending in.  Lunch pail in hand, as the sound of beeping from the cash register finds a certain soothing feel to me and my friend as we ring people up before going about their lovely day.  Mrs. Elders came into the store with her Saturday blue dress and her white gloves.  Always a limp that seemed to come with a smile.  She shuffled along the isles as we both kept an eye to see if she needed any help.  I don't know why I did this, because she never did, I guess just keeping an eye on her was a natural instinct in some ways.  I was once heaving 400 plus pounds over my head, and now I have found myself looking after an old lady shopping for bread and blueberries.  Not such a bad thing since the next day she should be bringing my old teammate and myself some of the best blueberry short cake in the whole wide world.  My over sized fore arm hit my friends inflamed elbow as we cracked a smile before hanging our white aprons on the hook by where the shopping carts filled into line, and then started our walk up the grassy meadows, down the rocky bank that use to be where they lit the steel on fire.  I knew this because of all the black rock that cracked under our feet as we seemed to march not walk, to a song with nothing playing.  It was almost like we were re playing all of our old training songs in our heads at all times of the day.  And if one of us smiled it was definitely a missed lift followed with a little kid hissy fit.  Grown men throwing fits is always the best.  We approached the warehouse were we lived.  The front door already open, almost as if the old shut down world was awaiting our arrival.  Our eyes met...

Jon! my heart jumped out of my chest as Shankle shook my right shoulder.  I was back in the middle of the gym, same place I started.  My cheeks were drenched wet from my eyes never closing.  A nightmare...?  Or a great dream....?  I couldn't figure out which one it was.  I could still smell the ocean breeze, and I could still hear the beeping of the cash register.  My actions and odd behavior didn't seem to faze Shankle at all.  I couldn't figure out why.  You would think he would have asked me what was wrong, if I was alright, or what i was doing sitting in the middle of the gym staring at God knows what.  But nope... Nothing.  His mouth was moving, but I could hear nothing.  I was too busy analyzing the situation. Shankle has been to the same place I have been.  Shankle has been on the beach, in the store, and in the warehouse.  This was just a guess, but his understanding of the odd situation was too familiar.  Too at ease.  He then walked away. And I was once again left alone.

My breathing became heavy.  My eyes finally shut.  The sweat on my face dried as the wind from outside picked up.  The sound of the fan by the door made my wrists move in circles.  My body leaned back over the chair like a waterfall, as my back cracked at least six times. The crunches in my forehead smoothed like the dust on the platform.  The windmill began to move gracefully, as my arms cut through the air in fast circles like a jet flying over a baseball game.  My chin moved front to back, side to side, like the catch of the snatch, like the beauty of an athlete.  The black oil ran down my face and into my joints, passing over my skin and into my bones.  Oil to move, and muscle to improve.  Strength to build and speed to gain.  My Adidas shoes feel tight against my feet.  My eyes soon change from focused to fierce.  My body language turns from passive to aggressive.  Confident to cocky.  My blood, to Shankle blood. My skeletons behind me as I write ARNOLD down my arm.  My hook grip becomes tight like suffocation.  I am an athlete.  I must move to live.  Lift to love.  I am a prisoner of my own self.  My skeletons, lets lace our shoes and grab our belts.  Stand up from this chair.  My skeletons... Lets fight.

"My ears hear what others cannot hear. Small far away things people cannot see are visible to me.  The senses are fruits of a long time of longing.  Longing to be rescued, to be completed. I am not formed by myself alone.  I wear my fathers belt tight around my mothers blouse, and shoes which are from my uncle.  This is me.  A flower does not choose its color.  We are not responsible in what we have become to be.  Only once you have realized this is when you have become free". - Unknown.

I truly tried......but could not part.  You will see intensity like never before.  I am back.

Love for the sport 2016

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Gym Bag

Inspired By Mark Haz's Cal Rugby Bag

The other day, I went through my old gym bag looking for some old tape and a baseball for my athletes to use before training.  I was fascinated by all the gadgets I came across while digging deeper and deeper into the land of memories and assortments.  The horrible smell, the chalky straps, a graveyard of past champions that now lay quietly on the dark while the new generation of gym bags walk around prideful and tall.  I am putting together a little museum.... I guess you could call it, of not only my medals, but everything from shoes, shirts, straps, belts, and all the things that have sentimental value to me from over the years.  All things that have helped me along my way.  Of course this museum of some sort is only for my eyes and viewership, for this "stuff" to others is pure trash and rubbish.  

I then started to dash quickly around the room like a kid on Christmas, lining and organizing all my treasures. I was reminded of an old blog I once wrote, a blog that has seemed to be forgotten, by myself and others, a blog that was once my favorite, that needs to come back to life. So..... to anyone who has a smelly gym bag..... this one's for you. 

A long stare at his old blue gym bag as it sat lop-sided beside him on the subway bench, waiting for the 7 o'clock train. There were no words being spoken from his long chin and stubble covered face, just a stone cold look and a thought of how this gym bag hasn't been replaced by now.  How has the bag with so many stains, broken straps, and holes gone this long without being put to rest. A small crinkle in his forehead asked the bag if the old blue warrior was growing, and getting bigger over time.  It looked as if the bag had grown at least a foot since the night before. He would know because the bag and him have been training partners since college back at Cal, and it was only last night that he stocked it with plastic bags full of supplements of all different colors and textures.  He regretted not cleaning his two shaker cups better the night before while preparing for this trip, as he could smell them both seeping from the inside of the bag to his nose.  Still no emotion, as his eyes glazed upon the bag with straps that were hanging on by a single thread from all the abuse they have seen.  How they haven't broke by now will always be a mystery.  Some say that trying to figure out weightlifting can lead to madness, for the sport never, and will never make sense.  His head titled slightly down, and the crinkles in his forehead smoothed back out.  His eyes hadn't blinked since he sat down, and the thought of becoming mad haunted him.  How do you know when you have lost your mind?  He asked the bag while looking back up.  This time words came out from his mouth, while the person sitting across from him grabbed her two kids and scurried them away to the waiting bench three vending machines down. The bag did not reply. The bag just stared back at him while slightly molding itself deeper into the bench, as if to say he was done, and could not carry on from here.  The yellow Cal label on the front of the bag facing him was turned brown from the years.  He was saddened by the fact he just now noticed how worn the bag really was.  His body still hadn't moved, but his eyes started to frantically flicker back and forth as if he couldn't figure out what to look at.  Memories of slamming the gym bag against the wall out of anger.   Dropping the bag down on the dusty gym floor while walking over it to get from resting bench to platform.  Laughing weightlifters in the car after a long day of training, while his best friend and biggest supporter of so many years laid defeated in the trunk under boxes and old books.  Memories and reminiscing of how well he used to treat his new bright blue bag when he first got into weightlifting, or back then just weight training / body building / wide feet power looking snatches and pose offs with his friends.  A gym rat that had no plans or ideas of what he was doing, or wanted to do.  All he knew back then was he loved the weight room, and the lifestyle the weight room produced.  The blue bag was just as important as the weights.  Just as food and bed are to recovery.  Belts and coffee, chalk and music, all a family that you grow to know and love throughout this lonely sport of weightlifting.

A small smile crept across his face as the noise from a train passing by broke his long stare, waking him up to a darker than usual subway full of old newspapers and a cold gust of air coming from the stair case that led outside.  He rubbed his hands together to get warm, while thinking about all the different ways he was going to treat his bag better from here on out.  He opened his mouth wide while rubbing his cheeks with his hands to try to snap out of his trance and wake before the day passed him by.  A weightlifter must learn how focus on both weightlifting and everyday life, sometimes at the same time.  When these two completely different worlds meet they can cause doubt, confusion, and the worst of all....excuses.  Learning how to be a weightlifter is the hardest part in learning how to be a weightlifter.  The bag made a small noise from something inside moving out of place.  He patted the bag with a broken smile and whispered as if he was talking to a puppy, "You know what I'm saying, right boy?". The bag looked back with a glow of appreciation and relief.  The bag was just as much a weightlifter as the man, and the man knew he was just as much part of that bag as the bag itself.  The man felt lighter from their talk.  A sigh of understanding and respect.  He was at first blind sided and taken back from how old the bag truly was, but was now proud of himself and the bag for keeping an honest relationship, and continually staying the best of friends.

The man pulled his hands away to straighten out his clothes in anticipation for his train the he could hear down the tunnel moving his way.  The light from the train opened the subway up with a new perspective.  The newspapers were not scattered around the floor nor were they dirty.  The floor was clean and the vending machines where glowing bright.  There were more people than he thought there was hustling and bustling around as if an army was forming to attack the day.  The man opened his wide eyes and quickly turned to his bag, hoping that his bright blue Cal bag was young and strong as he always knew it to be.  The bag laid half dead as its shadow crept down the bench towards the man.  The man's eyes followed the dark shadow running into his hand that was structurally there supporting his excited lean towards the bag.  The man noticed his hands.  He picked both of them up and turned them side to side in front of his face.  They were torn, bruised and old.  They were stained yellow from the cigarettes he once smoked.  Old chalk lived deep under his nails, and the blood paintings that webbed across his hands from broken blood blisters made sure that he was just as broken and used as the bag sitting beside him.  The man has aged with his bag.  The man then realized sitting on that subway bench, that he had become his own gym bag.

Metal Empire Productions Presents the newest Team AN video.  Metal Empire will be documenting our young teams path to Gold, with behind the scene antics, interviews, recaps and more. Welcome to the family Metal Empire. lets take over the world. 

The Documentary 2016