Food Nostalgia.

No matter what your cultural background is one thing we can all relate to is food. Food connects us to our past and to our heritage. I can remember from a young age drinking Dr.Browns Root Beer and eating black and white cookies with my Grandma. Even thought it’s been years since she’s passed every time I drink Dr.Browns or eat my beloved black and white cookies it transports me back to a nostalgic place keeping me connected with my Grandma and our relationship. I only like the white part and she only liked the chocolate part and still to this day I only eat the white part, making it the perfect shareable treat.

Even going to eat at my favorite pizza place Gianni’s has a similar effect on me. I still hear and visualize my grandma telling me stories of Piggly Wiggly going to the market to get blueberry pies as I chomp down on two slices of cheese pizza and a cherry coke.

Just recently as Monday, my mother made chicken soup, and you know what the first thing she said to me is “it’s just like how grandma used to make it”. You better believe it was. Family traditions and food keeps the spirit alive of our loved ones no matter how long they have been gone, making the traditions even that more meaningful.

I can still remember every Friday my dad and I going to the video store to get some films for the weekend and splitting a pie and garlic knots from Little Italy. Even though we don’t do it anymore, it is still a tradition that I will one day do with my family.

One of the things I am looking forward to later on in adult hood is passing down these traditions to my children. Who knows maybe years I’m gone my kids will spilt their black and white cookies with their grand kids keeping the tradition alive.

Same Flowers, Different Garden.

After leaving the team Week 4 for “personal reasons”, QB Quinton Flowers returned to the Vipers this week but theirs one catch, he’s asked to be traded. After getting passed over on the depth chart for Taylor Cornelius and his limited action in the second half of the Week 3 Houston Roughnecks game, Flowers relationship with the team seems to have been burned.

The rumored landing spots for the disgruntled home town hero are the New York Guardians and the Seattle Dragons, both of which are facing QB controversies of their own. The Guardians protected QB Matt McGloin threw his team under the bus after their Week 2 blowout against DC, allowing Luis Perez to take over the reins after being traded from the LA Wildcats in preseason. Perez was LA’s protected QB pick but after signing former Buccaneers QB Josh Johnson the team moved on from him. Perez played pretty decent in his first start last week giving NY a much needed home win against his former LA team.

The 1-3 Seattle Dragons might be looking for a spark in their offense after finally benching the inconsistent Brandon Silvers for former USF QB B.J. Daniels. Flowers was Daniels heir apparent at USF. Jim Zorn the Dragons Head Coach seems to be just as inconsistent as Trestman so I don’t think it would be a good landing spot for Flowers. Personally I rather see the team trade him at this point for one of NY or SEA’s defensive players or someone for someone who can beef up our solid O-Line.

Flowers was never promised the starting job in Tampa anyway so I am not sure what he is expecting to get anywhere else around the league. At this point I will be glad when he is gone so the team can move forward and build off the momentum of their Week 4 shutout which Flowers was absent from. I hope the Fang Gang has similar feelings as I do and will continue to support the team, Murray, and “Corn Dog” over Flowers. Don’t get me wrong he is definitely a playmaker and could be an asset to the team, but I feel having him apart of the team moving forward will only make things worse. If he’s not going to play at least get something for him and give him a shot somewhere else, making it a win win for both parties involved.

I Want Etake.

With his rumored album “Eternal Atake” on the horizon, Lil Uzi drops another banger “I Want” giving fans that “Backstreet Boys” feel to hold us over until Atake drops.

After the release of his hit “Luv Is Rage 2” Lil Uzi Vert hasn’t dropped a full project in almost three years. Between label disputes, short retirements, and dropping some of his best tracks to date pretty much back to back to back, with “Futsal Shuffle 2020”, “Sanguine Paradise”, and “That’s A Rack” all taking spots on my top tracks on 2019 list, the latter taking the top spot. Other than projects from Benny The Butcher and K Dot, Eternal Atake is my most anticipated project of the year.

His newest single “That Way” is Uzi’s take on the Backstreet Boy’s 1999 classic “I want It That Way”. Uzi is back at it always bringing some of the best hooks in the game. On first listen you might think the song is kind of corny, but for me that is Uzi’s charm. Dropping one of my favorite lines of the year like “Yes I’m slimey like a snail but I’m no slowpoke” and “I killed my girlfriend that’s why I’m single”.

For me Uzi’s recent output just builds on what he was delivering on classics like “Lil Uzi VS The World” and the “Luv Is Rage” series. Uzi is able to stay in this middle ground between the mainstream and underground due to his huge fan base. He differentiates himself from his contemporaries by delivering not only the best singles in the game, but some of the best bodies of work, allowing his projects to be played from front to back.

If your a fan of Uzi’s recent output this should be right up your alley. I know for me it is definitely high in the rotation, until Uzi finally gives us “Eternal Atake”.

The Vipers Shed Their Skin At Home.

After starting their inaugural season with an 0-3 record the Vipers finally showed why they where picked by Las Vegas to win the inaugural championship. Despite all the drama coming into week 4, the team appears to be clicking on all three fazes of the game, sinking their teeth into the Defenders with a shut out score of 25-0.

The Jerry Granville lead defense kept the Cardale Jones and the Defenders out of the red zone for the entire game sending pressure on almost every play. A few times DC tried to go for big plays but Jones either over threw them or the Viper’s defensive backs Robert Priester and Tarvarus McFadden making big plays, the latter even coming up with an INT after getting his helmet ripped off. The heart and sole of this defense is on the line though with team captain Terrance Plummer and my personal favorite Nikita Whitlock making big plays in the trenches, holding the Defenders to only 46 rushing yards.

The Defenders only had 107 total yards all game,which is less than both our power backs Jacques Patrick and De’Veon Smith had a piece. The running game definitely sets the tempo for our offense. Between Smith and Patrick’s bowling ball running style knocked over the DC defense like pins on a lane. Jacques Patrick scored his first pro touchdown this week only two days after burying his father. His sideline interview definitely connected with the fan base and not only Patrick but also Smith are becoming two of my favorite players on the team. I just love how hard each one of them plays, opening up the offense for our stacked receiving core to make big plays. Taylor “Corn Dog” Cornelius looked comfortable in the offense this week only throwing one pick and making some big plays with his arm and legs, running in for an 18 yard touchdown. A QB willing to put it all on the line to make a play gained my respect. No matter who the starter is going into next week “Corn Dog” is good in my book.

Although attendance was down about 6,000, I feel that is due to it being a Sunday night game more than a lack of fan support. A lot of out of area folks prob didn’t feel like making the late night drive home. The Fang Gang still brought it, feeding off the teams energy and visa versa. The team/fan connection is what makes sports so awesome. Nothing is better than walking into Ray Jay surrounded by the Gang, filling the stadium with hissing, rattles, and of course my favorite “snake swinging”. I was pleasantly surprised no one chanted for Flowers, who is rumored to return to the team this week, and fully rallied around “Corn Dog” who was met with a barrage of boos from the “Snake Pit”.

Coach Trestman is safe for another week. The team played hard for him this week. In his post game press conference Trestman praised the team but also is still focused on making the Vipers the best they can be. With an up and down LA Wildcats team hosting us next weekend it will be interesting to see how the team can keep up momentum, hopefully declawing the Wildcats to earn the teams first road win, catapulting us right into the XFL East playoff picture.

A Day Of Firsts For Franco

Major League Baseball’s #1 rated prospect the 18 yr old SS from the Dominican Republic Wander Franco has his first start and hit in Spring Training today against the defending World Series Champs Washington Nationals.

The Rays are anticipating a lot from Franco, at a young age he has already made All Star appearances in the Minors. With 4 at bats Franco 1/4 with one run and one strike out. I will say he was the lead off hitter going against one of the best pitchers in baseball Steven Strasburg.

The Tampa Bay Rays have always had to be a step ahead when it comes to scouting players and drafting well. Unlike the Yankees, Red Sox’s and Dodgers, the Rays don’t have the luxury of breaking the bank on big time free agents. The Rays make their bread on scouting and developing talent, usually coming out of trades on the better side. Pitcher Brandon McKay, and 2B Xavier Edwards along with Franco are a few of the bright spots being groomed not only for now but also the future. I am hoping Ray’s manager Kevin Cash works Franco into the lineups more this Spring Training, I will be at the teams March 18th game against the Philadelphia Phillies so maybe I can get a glimpse at the phenom with my own eyes. Time will only tell the impact Franco will have on the club, but with a Wild Card birth last year exceptions are high for this season.

No Spring Flowers For The Defenders.

It’s week 4 in the XFL, and yet again the Tampa Bay Vipers are in headlines again with another QB controversy. Earlier at a press conference this week Coach Marc Trestman announced that fan favorite QB Quinton Flowers has left the team due to “personal reasons”, naming Taylor Cornelius the starter. Rumors been going around that Flowers actually asked the team for his release due to his lack of playing time and usage in the offense.

As a die hard fan of the Vipers I will always put the team first despite my love for the hometown QB. It sucks that his status is up in the air but now as fans we must encourage the players that are on the field. I will try to keep my booing of Taylor Cornelius to a minimum. Maybe after a week of actually getting first team reps he will be more accurate with his receivers. A QB’s ability to have a rhythm with his receivers and backs is the key to a successful offense. We have the receiving and talent at RB with two of our backs ranking in the top 5 in rushing yards with De’Veon Smith racking up 174 yards and Jacques Patrick with 123 yards.

With our XFL East rival DC Defenders coming into the Viper’s Pit this Sunday the time to strike is now with a must win feel surrounding the game. The team must avoid an 0-4 start. A win vs DC will put the team back on the right track giving us a chance to still get the final play off spot in the East. DC is coming off a 39-9 loss to the LA Wildcats a winless team prior to the game.

I would hate to see a shift in the fan base due to the departure of Flowers. Yes we still have Murray but I have little faith in him based on his week one performance and injury ridden season. With the addition of S.J. Green into the offense this week I hope Coach Trestman can get a huge spark in momentum bringing the team our first win in franchises history. If not the season is pretty much lost and we will be looking for a new QB and new HC once offseason hits.

Rays Fans Stand For Baseball.

With the looming rumors of a split season in Montreal. Rays faithful came out in full force, selling out the initial 1,000 run of the new standing room only Ball Park Pass. The new Ball Park Pass is one of the three new packages the Rays are using to bring more fans to the trop. This Ball Park Pass allows fans to go to any game all season for only $36 dollars a month. The best perks included in the pass are tickets for Opening Day and all of the Yankees and Red Sox’s games. After the success on the initial run of the pass, the team has set up a waiting list for hopeful fans.

I am definitely sold on the Flex Pack plan, allowing fans to go to 5 games in a selected month. I will definitely be going to the Trop like it’s church during baseball season. Between the giveaways, which I am a sucker for, and the always fun throwback nights, the flex pack was a no brainer. It kinda sucks that Yankees and Red Sox’s games aren’t included in the pack, but with single game tickets at a decent price I would pay for a solo game.

The final plan available is the “Rays Win Pack” allowing fans the chance to get a free game if the team wins all four of the games you attend as a part of the package. The seat choices on this package are pretty nice, but I rather just know I am going to a 5th game rather than bet they will win four straight. With that being said the team is on pace to have a great season so if your feeling lucky this is the package for you.

I had no better feeling last year than watching the Rays fill Tropicana Field during their playoff run. It is important for fans to support the team now so that Major League Baseball has no choice but to end the rumors of a split schedule or relocation. It would really sadden me if a team I’ve followed since childhood would leave. If we can fill the stadium for a playoff game on a Tuesday. There is no reason why us as fans can’t do our part and just show up for games, especially with the team doing their part on the field.

When The Smoke Clears.

This season for the “Son’s of Pirates” and Rowdies faithful might be different, per St.Petersburg Fire Marshal Michael Domante smoke is now banned from all Rowdies games.

A long time tradition in European soccer, the setting off of smoke bombs representing your clubs colors is the best way to send home the supporters and the team after a victory. Seeing the teams Yellow and Green smoke fill up Al Lang Stadium sends chills down your spine. It not only signals a club victory, but also brings us together.

I feel there is an easy solution to the smoke issue at Al Lang Stadium. Possibly a chosen member of the club could be designated as “the smoker” or the one in charge of releasing the smoke.

Another solution could be that one firefighter could be in charge of releasing the smoke bombs thus being able to contain the smoke.

For now I feel it is best for supporters to lay low and cooperate with the Fire Dept until a solution is made. Whatever the outcome is I hope the Fire Dept and supporters can find some middle ground, keeping everyone safe but still allowing a Ralph’s Mob and Rowdies soccer tradition to continue.

Enter The Viper’s Pit.

Once the XFL announced Tampa would be one of the inaugural franchises in the revival league, fans from all across the Bay Area jumped on board hisssing and putting on for Viper Life and Fang Gang.

Around the league and message boards, the fan turn of the home opener was sort of up in the air. Despite the 0-3 start for the team, the Fang Gang seems optimistic on the future of the season with 7 games remaining the team still has a lot to prove. The gang came out for the team filling the pit with about 18,000 fans, 3rd in league attendance just behind the Seattle Dragons and our Eastern Conference rival those damn St.Louis Battlehawks who sold out the lower bowl level of the “Battle Dome”.

The Fang Gang comes in all shapes and sizes all for the love of our Tampa Bay Vipers. Some fans pay homage to Dwight Goodman’s “Globo Gym Cobras”, while others like the Vipers Gorilla and Skully rep the gang in their own way. This cast of characters has definitely set the Fang Gang aside from other fan bases in the league.

As the season continues I a tradition I would like the Fang Gang adopt is the “Swinging Of The Snake”. In soccer fans, traditionally wave scarves to show their love and support for their teams. I was thinking everyone should bring a plushie snake to swing whenever the time to strike is right. Just imagine a sea of swinging snakes throughout Ray Jay. Starting next week I know the Jit Camp Chapter of the Fang Gang in Section 135 will definitely be #swingyoursnake and putting on for the #fanggang.

For The Love Of Film

The announcement of the new Green Light Cinema Art house theater located at 221 2nd Ave. N, Saint Petersburg, finally gives St.Petersburg Cinephiles a place to call their own.

From my early days of being a cinephile I dreamed of a sanctuary that would play foreign and indie films for a local audience to see on the big screen. It seemed the only way to catch more obscure flicks was the limited Gallery section of AMC Sundial and the beloved Tampa Theatre. Films like recent OSCAR and Palm D’or winner Parasite are left to the waste side for big blockbusters and that “Cats” films we all wanted. Green Light Cinema is the perfect landing spot for these films still giving locals a chance to see them on the big screen in a lush 100 seat digital theater surrounded by fellow cinephiles.

The curation process is essential to a great art house theater. I could see Green Light possibly working in smaller monthly curated festivals featuring films similar in theme or director. The possibility of trilogies getting full big screen runs locally is a dream come true. Never did I think it would be possible for me to see Abbas Kiarostami’s “Koker Trilogy” or the entire “ Apu Trilogy” from Satyajit Ray. My most wanted showings would be an Fellini film for his Centennial birth day, or that late Fassbinder retrospective everyone is waiting for.

My favorite part about the community getting a new art house theater is it will finally put the St.Pete Cinephile community front and center. Yes we all know about the art, glass, and brewery communities popping up in St.Pete, but now is the time for cinephiles to get their due. I cannot wait to become a member of the theater and watch it as well as the cinephile community grown for years to come.