Author Archives: Tim Stafford

About Tim Stafford

Tim Stafford is a poet and storyteller from Chicago. He is the editor of the Learn Then Burn anthology series on Write Bloody Publishing. His work has appeared on HBO Def Poetry Jam and featured in the PBS documentary "The Day Carl Sandburg Died". He performs regularly at colleges and festivals throughout the U.S. and Europe including the ABC Brecht Festival in Augsburg, Germany, the 2010 Zurich Poetry Slam Invitational, the 2011 German National Poetry Slam, the 2013 Kiel Festival in Kiel, Germany, and the 2014 Woerdz Festival in Lucern, Switzerland.

#1 – For Cubs Fans Who Encourage Me to Root for The Cubs in the Playoffs

Today is our third birthday! To celebrate, we have been counting down the top-ten most-read posts from the last year. This one is not only the most popular piece we published last year, but by far the most popular piece we’ve ever published. Never underestimate how big the anti-bandwagon is.

 

Hey Guys!calvin-disc-1-cubs_01

My my my, you have been working over time trying to convince me to root for your Cubbies. It’s cool that you’re excited. The Cubs haven’t given you much to be excited about and I get it. You just don’t know how to handle all of this pure joy. While I appreciate the invite allow me to explain why I am turning down your offer.

Few things first: I am a White Sox fan. I also recognize that the Cubs are a better team than the White Sox both on and off the field. Theo Epstein is a genius that should quit baseball and solve world hunger through the use of sabermetrics. I don’t know how that would work but I’m sure he could do it. The Cubs roster is filled with young, talented, and gritty players that are fun to watch. Joe Maddon is like your neighbor’s cool uncle that comes through town in his hippy van every summer with a different girlfriend and let’s you smoke weed with him while he talks about how Burning Man used to awesome before it went commercial. They are an enviable team set up for long-term success.

That being said, Fuck The Cubs. Why? Glad you asked.

1) I Don’t Care About Your Dead Grandpa.

I’ve heard, “C’mon Cubbies! Let’s do it for Grandpa! I know he’s watching from heaven” or a variation of that quote on Facebook, on sports radio, in person, etc a thousand times. The Cubs are not winning it all for your grandpa. Javier Baez gives no shits about your grandpa. Anthony Rizzo gives no shits about your grandpa. Cubs fans act as if the Cubs winning the World Series will unleash a zombie horde of their dead relatives to help them celebrate the title. I understand the connection between family and sports. I have a lot of great memories of going to games with my grandparents. I also have a lot of great memories of my grandparents that don’t involve sports at all. If the only connection you had with your grandpa was baseball, he was probably a shitty grandpa and he deserves nothing. Continue reading

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The New Red Hot Chili Peppers Album is the Soundtrack 2016 Deserved

red-hot-chili-peppers-the-getaway-990x557Is anybody surprised that this world is going to shit? I’m saddened but not surprised. After all I live in America, a country that continues to purchase Red Hot Chili Peppers albums by the millions.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers (RHCP) put out a new album in 2016 and I commend them. Not because they put out a new album but because they managed to release the same album they’ve released since 1995. The lyrics are different, the titles are different, but I imagine half of the songs will still be about California. It’s almost as if they are daring radio stations to not play their albums.

It’s fitting that in a year marred by the deaths of musical luminaries and the election of a fascist, the Red Hot Chili Peppers release an album that reaches number 1 on the Billboard charts. Who are the people buying these albums? Who wakes up in the morning and says, “Man, I can really go for some slap bass and corny rapping”?

Here’s the thing about RHCP: they are not horrible. They are definitely not good but they are not total shit. It’s the kind of music that’s perfect for the soundtrack of a romantic comedy. I imagine a 40 year old, recently divorced accountant climbing into his Saab after a long day of crunching numbers and rocking out to this album on his way to Buffalo Wild Wings.

It’s the perfect music for people who don’t want to try very hard. RHCP is a band you settle on. When you’ve given up on finding new bands you fall back on RHCP. They are the Hillary Clinton of music. They’ve been around forever, they’re not very exciting, and they expect undeserved loyalty. You wish they would quietly go away to make room for others but they won’t. They’ll stick around, attempt to reclaim past glory, and their fans will make passionless attempts to sway you over to their side. Continue reading


For Cubs Fans Who Encourage Me to Root for The Cubs in the Playoffs

 

Hey Guys!calvin-disc-1-cubs_01

My my my, you have been working over time trying to convince me to root for your Cubbies. It’s cool that you’re excited. The Cubs haven’t given you much to be excited about and I get it. You just don’t know how to handle all of this pure joy. While I appreciate the invite allow me to explain why I am turning down your offer.

Few things first: I am a White Sox fan. I also recognize that the Cubs are a better team than the White Sox both on and off the field. Theo Epstein is a genius that should quit baseball and solve world hunger through the use of sabermetrics. I don’t know how that would work but I’m sure he could do it. The Cubs roster is filled with young, talented, and gritty players that are fun to watch. Joe Maddon is like your neighbor’s cool uncle that comes through town in his hippy van every summer with a different girlfriend and let’s you smoke weed with him while he talks about how Burning Man used to awesome before it went commercial. They are an enviable team set up for long-term success.

That being said, Fuck The Cubs. Why? Glad you asked.

1) I Don’t Care About Your Dead Grandpa.

I’ve heard, “C’mon Cubbies! Let’s do it for Grandpa! I know he’s watching from heaven” or a variation of that quote on Facebook, on sports radio, in person, etc a thousand times. The Cubs are not winning it all for your grandpa. Javier Baez gives no shits about your grandpa. Anthony Rizzo gives no shits about your grandpa. Cubs fans act as if the Cubs winning the World Series will unleash a zombie horde of their dead relatives to help them celebrate the title. I understand the connection between family and sports. I have a lot of great memories of going to games with my grandparents. I also have a lot of great memories of my grandparents that don’t involve sports at all. If the only connection you had with your grandpa was baseball, he was probably a shitty grandpa and he deserves nothing. Continue reading


The Wind Cries Stacy

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 IF you are a boy growing up in Cook County, you do not get to pick which baseball team you will become a fan of. It is preordained. If your father is a Cubs fan, you’ll be a Cubs fan. If your father likes the White Sox, you’ll like the White Sox. If your father doesn’t like baseball, you’re probably going to get the shit kicked out of you because you throw like a girl.

My Dad is a White Sox fan, so I am indeed a White Sox fan though I don’t think that’s the only reason. I also hated the Cubs because of all the day games they played. I remember coming home from an exhausting day at Catholic School, looking forward to kicking back with an Aldi brand cola, and an episode of “Duck Tales” only to turn on Channel 9 to find the Cubs losing by 5 in the top of the 6th while Haray Carey went on about how the donut he ate for breakfast reminded him of his childhood pal Hank Parsons who would later be killed in the Korean conflict.

Since my Dad worked nights he was able to take my older brother Matt and I to plenty of day games over the summer at Old Comiskey Park. This was the easiest way for him to drink beer in public while also looking like a model father.

Old Comiskey in the late 80s was a sight to behold. The ballpark itself was fine, the scoreboard was interesting, but the people were awesome. They looked like rejects from a Poison video. The dudes wore tight acid wash jeans and their shirts were forever sleeveless. They tailgated in their Camaro’s , drinking Old Style and playing air guitar along with back to back Van Halen courtesy of 97.9 the Loop. Continue reading


The Popes & the Punks

The out of uniform day is the Catholic school equivalent of a prison tattoo. It’s your chance to show what you are all about. If you didn’t go to a Catholic School, this is how it worked. Once, maybe twice a month there would be a fundraiser for a particular club. The band needed new uniforms, the theater department needed to rent costumes for the spring musical, I’m pretty sure I gave money to the Pro-Life Club to buy paint for their protest signs. They would go around at lunch or in homeroom, charge you a dollar and on a specific day you got to come sans uniform.

T-shirt choice was a huge factor. You only had one shot and if you blew it you’d have to wait weeks before you could make amends. No matter what music you listened to, most kids chose to wear a concert shirt. This was the mid 90’s in the suburbs of Chicago so there were a lot Blues Traveler, Dave Matthews Band, and Pearl Jam shirts.

If you were into punk rock, it was your only shot at finding like-minded punks to hang out with. We couldn’t have piercings. We couldn’t dye our hair. All we had was the out of uniform day. When it came to shirts, the more obscure and local the better. Green Day had already sold out so if you wore a Green Day shirt you were instantly a poser. And since the bassist from Green Day wore a Screeching Weasel shirt onstage at Woodstock ‘94, they were out as well. But that was okay. There were a number of oddly named bands to choose from: Sponge Tunnel, No Empathy, 88 Fingers Louie, Los Crudos, Trenchmouth, Naked Raygun, 8 Bark, the Bollweevils, etc.
Continue reading


Roadhouse Bars, Cock Rock Guitars, & the Healing Powers of Johnny Cash

Our guides that night were a boyfriend/girlfriend tag team from Detroit. I can’t remember their names only that they had androgynous ones like Jaime, or Lesley, or Alex and I kept calling him by hers and her by his. They were taking us to an authentic Japanese karaoke bar on the east side of Louisville, Kentucky

An authentic Japanese karaoke bar in Kentucky is basically a road house bar where the only thing remotely Japanese is a poster of a slender Japanese woman in a black cocktail dress holding a bottle of Sapporo. A beer they didn’t even sell

The bar was split into two factions. On one side were the kids we were meeting. All out-of-towners with too many tattoo’s and piercings. who wore mostly black and almost exclusively sang 80’s cock rock classics. A lot of Poison, Skid Row, and Motley Crue.

On the other side were the painfully obvious locals who, both male and female, wore tight white jean shorts that stopped just above the knees. They sang almost exclusively sang Top 40 Modern Country hits by Garth Brooks and other country singers I guess.

Both groups were loud.

Both groups were rowdy.
Continue reading