Friday doesn’t begin well.
I’m very sick to my stomach — from the gyros not the beers — and there’s a morning email from Fox saying that I have to get my FIFA credential request in TODAY for the World Cup. There’s just one major problem — they need a copy of my passport scanned and emailed. My parents are presently taking care of both boys now that my wife is in New York too and the odds of my mom accurately scanning a copy of my passport and then emailing it to someone is zero. Less than zero, in fact. It’s actually impossible.
As if that wasn’t enough, I also need to get my Fox email address working so I can officially submit a credential request because FIFA doesn’t accept gmail addresses.
And all of this has to happen TODAY.
If you work in any kind of business you know this is always what happens. Nothing really gets done until the absolute last minute when suddenly everything has to be immediately completed. While you’re on a boat the Super Bowl with no wireless connection.
1. I dispatch Outkick editor Lori on a run to my house to try and get my passport. (It’s a minor miracle that I even know where my passport is).
Then I have to call my mom to explain all of this. Which, if you have Southern mom, is almost impossible to do. That’s because Southern moms have to set the all-time record for most questions that can be asked that have nothing to do with the reason that you are calling them. (Southern dads, on the other hand, have not talked on the phone since 1988).
“Why does she need your passport? What’s FIFA? Now is the world cup for soccer? Where is the world cup this year? Is it safe there? Will Lara and the boys go to Brazil? What language do they speak in Brazil? When is the world cup? Now, is America going to be in the world cup?”
If you have a southern mom you are reading all of these questions and nodding to yourself.
It’s uncanny how many questions southern moms can fit into every phone call.
I want to treat all these calls with my mom as if it’s the military and she’s on a need to know basis. Sure, I could try and explain why FIFA needs a scanned copy of my passport to my mom for a World Cup credential, but I could just as easily try and explain Jay-Z’s lyrics to her.
“I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to many of your questions, mom. I just need my passport scanned. Here’s what I need you to do, mom, when Lori knkocks on the door, I need you to open it. That’s all.”
2. I’m doing the radio show today by myself, but first I have to write the Friday mailbag.
The mailbag that you guys read last week. Yes, this is very meta.
As I’m writing the mailbag, I’m also requesting a FIFA credential while using my Fox email address. There’s only one problem, I have to verify that the Fox email address is real by clicking on a link that FIFA sends to me. That sounds incredibly easy to do.
Except it requires that my Fox email address be accessible, something that I haven’t managed to do in seven months of working for the company so far. Namely every time I try to set my email up, I want to strangle the IT people. They can’t just give me an email address and my password. First, my boss — who is presently working live on Super Bowl production — has to verify that I work at Fox for the third time because every time I try to sign into my Fox email account, it’s already been frozen for lack of use. When I point out that my immediate superior is currently producing live television for the Super Bowl and that maybe we could rely on the three previous emails he’s sent to IT telling them that I work for Fox, IT says that’s impossible.
Leading to this conversation, which may or may not have been several decibels louder than it needed to be.
“So you’re telling me I need to walk downstairs to the production studio, tap him on the shoulder while he’s doing live TV, and ask him to send you the same email that he’s already sent you three times? The same three emails that I just forwarded to you.”
IT guy: “Yes.”
“That’s the only way for me to get a Fox email address today?”
IT guy: “No.”
“Great, what else could I do?”
IT guy: “Do you know John Entz? He could also email us that you work at Fox.”
John Entz is the number three person in all of Fox Sports. He’s presently in New York for the Super Bowl and swarmed with the crisis that is trying to produce programming that will be seen by 120 million people. I am not going to email him two days before the Super Bowl and ask him to email IT that I work at the company.
This is not how you make friends.
3. So I go downstairs and tap my boss on the shoulder during a television commercial and ask if he can email IT to tell them that I work at Fox.
Yes, this really happened.
There are a billion free email addresses on the planet — all of which work fine with limited to no hassle — yet somehow getting a Fox email is more complicated than passing the bar exam.
4. I finish the mailbag and start prepping for the radio show that I’m hosting today.
By “prepping for the radio show,” I mean eating a deli sandwich in three minutes while also simultaneously finishing the mailbag.
But, wait, Fox IT verifies my email!
Maybe today will work out after all.
5. But now Fox’s IT department says they can only give me my email password via my company voicemail.
Evidently I have a desk somewhere at Fox Sports in Los Angeles. I have no idea where this desk is nor do I know if it actually has a phone. And who has been sitting at my desk for the past seven months?
I’m told this is the only way I can receive my password.
Then this conversation happens:
IT guy: “We’re only allowed to give out company passwords through a password protected phone.”
“I don’t have a company phone.”
IT guy: “You haven’t set up your password protected voicemail when you were in Los Angeles?”
“No. Can you do that for me and allow me to access it remotely?”
IT guy: “You have to be physically present in Los Angeles to set up your voicemail the first time.”
“Are we the CIA? Voicemail? It’s 2014, I haven’t had a landline phone since 2001. I didn’t know I had a desk. Can you just tell me my password?
IT guy: “That’s impossible. It violates protocol.”
At this point I may have lost it. “Protocol? It’s an email address password. Who are all these people begging for other people’s email address passwords? YOU KNOW WHO I AM AND THAT I WORK AT FOX. ALL I NEED TO DO IS CLICK VERIFY ON AN EMAIL. THAT’S ALL!”
6. Have I mentioned how much I hate inefficiency and stupid rules?
I’m usually very calm, but occasionally extremely stupid rules drive me insane. Like, actually insane.
So I ask to speak to an IT superior.
At this exact moment, my mom chooses to text me. It’s 1:23 central, 23 minutes after I told my mom to expect that Lori would arrive.
“Lori is not here yet,” my mom texts.
I’m going to lose it.
I want to text her back. “ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS OPEN THE DOOR, MOM, THAT’S IT!”
Instead I just lay my head down on the desk inside the FoxSports.com cubicle in the Sheraton Times Square.
Fox’s IT superior comes on: “Okay, have you tried accessing your voicemail for your email password?”
7. It’s like a Beethoven symphony of stupidity right now all around me.
Life is conspiring at this exact moment to make something that should take three minutes — filling out a FIFA form by a deadline — completely impossible, and taking hours.
Do you know how much time and energy we waste creating bureaucracy’s that make zero sense?
My radio show starts in fifteen minutes and all I need to do is click verify on a god—- email.
I ask for another IT superior, figuring that if I keep moving up the bureaucratic food chain eventually someone will understand that all I’m trying to do is get an email address, not swindle all of Fox’s bank accounts and route them to Zurich.
8. I go to do the radio show for three hours.
By the time I’m finished, I have been able to log into my email address and click verify
But I’ve missed the official World Cup deadline.
When I finish radio I head back upstairs to write about the party scene for FoxSports.com. After five days of partying and work I can barely keep my eyes open. Turns out if you’d gone to spring break every night and had to work the next day, it would have been really hard to pull off.
9. That night we go to see Imagine Dragons at the Bud Light concert.
And I’ve got to say, their performance of Radioactive is transcendent.
Here’s the video of the entire final song, which doesn’t do justice to how spectacularly vivid of a performance it was.
And here’s my view that I took with my phone from where we were standing.
I don’t know anything about lead singer Dan Reynolds — except that he sounds like he should be a shortstop for the Minnesota Twins in 1984 — but it’s the kind of performance that makes me wonder whether he’ll live to be forty.
He was that all in.
Much of life is fake, and lots of performers, even the great ones, mail in their efforts at some point. Why? Because being consistently great is really, really hard. It’s a lot easier to cut corners, not push yourself to the maximum effort at whatever you’re trying to excel in.
Maybe you had to be there that night, but Imagine Dragons was perfect. Ask anyone who was at the concert, the energy was all-encompassing.
You couldn’t leave without an increased heartrate.
10. But I’m also thinking as Reynolds bangs the hell out of the drum on stage, this is why we all wanted to play drums in fifth grade at Brick Church Middle School.
I remember when it was time for band practice to start every boy in the fifth grade angled to get to play the drums. One kid even had his mom write a fake note that he had asthma so he could play the drums over any other instrument.
We were all aiming for this exact moment, even though we had no idea what that moment was.
11. As we exit Imagine Dragons there’s a huge line of girls in miniskirts and stiletto heels angling to get into the Playboy party.
The Playboy Party will go until after four in the morning and it’s located in a smaller tent directly next to the Hudson River looking out over the Bud Light cruise ship. My wife and I stand in line as girls fight for space to get inside and compete with other girls to be the hottest girl at the Playboy party.
It’s amazing how far the line stretches, as far as we can see, cute girls, mostly, freezing their asses off, literally, for the opportunity to get inside and be totally overshadowed by the sheer amount of hotness in one building. Any one of these girls could probably be the hottest girl in 943 different bars in New York City tonight. Instead, they all want to be in the same party.
We wait in line for fifteen minutes, and then I call it a night. It’s been five straight nights of drinking, limited sleep, and tons of live radio. That’s a potential recipe for disaster. Especially with an early morning NBC radio show still to come tomorrow.
I’m already worried about whether my voice will hold up.
Sometime around four thirty in the morning, probably just as the Playboy party has ended, a girl in a room near ours on the cruise ship has a melt down on the balcony. She’s throwing a chair, cursing, wailing at life, I want to open the door to the balcony and scream out, “Hey, he doesn’t like you, get over it!”
But instead I can’t fall back asleep and I just listen to the eternal soundtrack of spring break, an angry drunk girl on a balcony as dawn nears.
12. The next morning I do my NBC show — of course the ISDN line doesn’t work on the Bud Light cruise ship and I have to be shuttled at the last minute to a Times Square studio.
Afterwords, I head through Times Square to check out the NFL’s Super Bowl village set-up. It’s packed, impossible to move with families everywhere and NFL fans a roiling sea of humanity. I find myself eventually skirting everything to make my way to the Fox Sports studio. There’s a massive crowd clamoring to be in the live shots outside the four story studio.
I’ve been planning on checking out the studio for days because the set-up is so remarkable. But, you guessed it, when I tell the grips outside that I work for Fox and want to check out the studio they don’t believe me. I could press the issue and look for someone I know from back in Los Angeles to let me in, but I decide to take a few steps back and just survey the scene. For the first time in the entire week, I want to be still and watch everything around me without doing anything at all.
Sometimes I worry that I’m too stimulated, that it’s impossible for me to chill now, that I’m incapable of unplugging, that I’m perpetually adrift in the frenzy.
When I was a kid I spent hours alone just thinking. No one else around, no one else to talk to, I was pretty comfortable being alone. Now it’s almost impossible for me to be alone. It’s almost impossible for all of us to be alone.
It’s pretty remarkable to see from this angle, close to being a part of something incredibly large, but still distant.
Ten years ago I started writing online and now this is my real life.
I get to spend a week at adult spring break every year. And get paid for it.
It doesn’t seem real.
13. Later that night Foo Fighters performs until nearly two in the morning at the Bud Light Hotel, and near the end of their concert I hit what I call Matrix level drunk.
It doesn’t happen that often for me now, but sometimes it still does, a moment when after lots of drinking and not much sleep, when everything slows down to super slo-motion and everything kind of fades away and you find yourself standing alongside your wife or girlfriend or significant other or your buddies and you get lost for a moment in a series of images.
You feel like the world is moving so slow that you can see it all unspooling in front of you, you’re Neo dodging bullets in the Matrix.
Foo Fighters plays and their fans sing along. It’s not so much about the songs now, although that matters, but it’s more about the songs then, the distance between where you were and where you are now and the fact that the distance between the two can seem downright inconsequential, a rememberance of songs past.
As Foo Fighters finishes “Best of You,” their final song of the night, a nearly forty year old man in a full suit crowd surfs, my wife exults, there are Bud Light bottles everywhere, a rolling sea of blue bottles, making the ground itself seem as if it’s moving. A girl in a black dress runs over and picks up a single beer bottle out of thousands, evidently not wanting to litter, and deposits it in the huge bin of beer bottles that an employee is collecting. Then she leaves, the karma of discarded bottles is on her side.
It’s 1:31 in the morning and Dave Grohl has just played for over two hours.
In a sort of daze, my wife and I move to the Facebook party, just beginning next door. It’s at the same venue as last night’s Playboy party. Only Facebook’s party is well organized and not crowded at all, the exact opposite of the Playboy party last night and nothing like the wild concert scene we’ve just left. There’s no chaos, no VIP line, only people with tickets even get close to the Facebook party. It’s the most efficient party at the Super Bowl.
Just inside the entrance is a digital mural of Facebook data showing us how many Denver Bronco and Seattle Seahawk fans there are. The display is constantly updating, reflecting each team’s most influential fans, the raw data of fandom never stops being calculated.
There’s no one performing yet on stage yet, but several men and women are circulating passing out hot dogs. The crowd is the youngest I’ve seen at any Super Bowl party, mid-20’s at best. I ask one of the young guys next to me if anyone is performing here tonight and he says a name that I’ve never heard of and I just nod. My wife asks me what the guy said and I tell her I have no idea.
Kickoff is just over 16 hours away and this will be our final stop on adult spring break.
In front of us a young guy takes a single hot dog off a tray of twenty, takes a bite, and then tosses his hot dog back onto the entire tray. “That sucks,” he says. The casual f— you of it all is a buzz kill, picking on a girl carrying around hot dogs. She’s stunned, looks over at me, “Can you believe this?”
No, I can’t. Not really.
Moments later, the stage goes dark and the music changes — Facebook’s entertainment has arrived. The crowd around me breaks out their iPhones lifts them skyward, a sea of glowing devices waiting to capture life and post it online.
And who should emerge but…
A skinny white kid in a t-shirt.
The crowd goes wild as he starts to play other people’s best hits while occasionally lifting his index finger skyward and awkwardly dancing. The Facebook crowd is actually videotaping a DJ playing someone else’s music. I want to scream, “But he’s not doing anything!”
Slowly, everyone over the age of thirty moves in the opposite direction from the DJ stage. Facebook, a 150 billion dollar business that has redefined the way we consume life in its decade of existence, has decided to hire a DJ for its Super Bowl party. A DJ, mind you, who has already synchronized his music to lasers and beats before he even arrives on stage.
It’s the definition of mailing it in, a show of other people’s music that he’s not even putting on live.
The Facebook crowd loves it.
Is this the future of Super Bowl adult spring break’s, will actual artists perform at parties in two decades or will DJs come and play the hits while a party films them playing the hits?
Super Bowl Sunday has officially arrived, but as I scan the room I only see one person with Seahawks gear on at all, a befuddled forty year old woman nursing a Bud Light and wearing a Seahawks number five jersey. Her expression is priceless, “What the f— is going on here?”
It’s an odd feeling, until, in my Matrix-level drunkeness, I realize this DJ is the perfect metaphor for Facebook itself. Why create when you can simply collate the best? Even the best artists have songs that aren’t very popular. Why sit through the less popular songs at a Super Bowl party when you can just play all the most popular songs instead? Hiring a popular DJ when everyone else hires an actual artist is the most Facebook move of all. It’s jarring to watch, like peering into a strange future where the most wealthy and successful people in the world don’t actually create anything at all.
Near the back bar Facebook employees pass out earplugs, the better to drown out the DJ in the front of the bar. We each take a pair of earplugs. “I think this is so you can store your drugs too,” my wife says. I nod, looking down at the tiny metal canister in my hand.
I don’t really want to leave because I’m convinced that Facebook must have something special planned before the night is over. Surely, this skinny DJ isn’t playing until four in the morning. The final party before the Super Bowl put on by the youngest company to throw a Super Bowl party can’t finish like this. This isn’t how adult spring break is supposed to end, with a whimper not a bang. I’m just sure that Jay-Z will come out on stage at three to play an unannounced concert for an hour. If I was a multi-billionaire in charge of throwing a party it’s the kind of move I’d make. Surely that’s coming, we can’t miss out.
“There’s got to be something more happening,” I say, “a surprise.”
“No,” my wife says, “this is it.”
She isn’t drunk and I’m Matrix-level drunk, convinced I can see the future. Even after six straight nights of drinking with hardly any sleep, I still don’t want the party to end.
So we walk back to the blue light bedecked cruise ship, breath pluming out in front of us beside the Hudson River. It’s cold and quiet and no one else is around. And just like that adult spring break is over for another year.
“Fu—– Facebook,” I say.