Cockfigthing In Puerto Rico

In 2012 I pitched a story to Vice about cockfighting in Puerto Rico that centered around the upcoming election, Puerto Rican sovereignty and how the US government receives federal tax dollars from legal cock fighting. My editor at Vice was into it and sent me and my friend Brendan Sullivan to Puerto Rico for a few days. Brendan was primarily a travel writer at the time and had a lot of contacts in Puerto Rico and fortunately speaks way better Spanish than I do so he was the perfect partner. We returned to with a ton of great stuff but my editor had mostly transitioned into working for the Vice HBO show and was dealing with some personal stuff in his life and stopped responding to emails. After months had passed I reached out to his boss and they offered to publish the story online at a rate of less than half of what we spent on the trip. I was heartbroken and we turned down the offer thinking we could find somewhere else to publish our story, but it never happened. 

Seven years later my friend, the Skid Row documentarian, Suitcase Joe reached out to me about being in a photography show he was doing. He wanted a bunch of my more edgy photos because the theme was “Outsiders” in photography. I think he wanted a mix of my stuff, but I told him I had all these cockfighitng photos that no one had ever seen and he was really into the idea. So on April 20th, in Los Angeles, I will be showing these cockfighing photos at House of Machines gallery. Suitcase Joe is an amazing photographer and there are a bunch of great artists in the show, so I am glad to be part of it. I am not actually going to be in LA for the show, but I really wish I could make it. 

So today, many, many years after I took these photos I wanted to show you all of these photos. Given that my gallery system is barely functional and there are nearly 500 photos in this edit, I doubt any of you will make a dent in looking at all of these photos, but I just needed to get them up and tell you a little about this amazing trip.

On the first day of our trip we went to Bayamon to a huge legal cockfighting arena called Gallera Las Palmas. We had heard stories of drug dealers shooting people there and some of the locals we met tried to freak us out about the place, but everyone was super nice and willing to talk to us. The actual cockfighting was pretty brutal and the smell of blood and chickenshit is something I will never forget. At one point we saw a guy who lost take his chicken and spin it around, breaking its neck and tossed it in a trashcan. 

From there we went into the center of the island to Coliseo Gallistico Don Alonso in Utuado. This was also a legal cockfighing arena, but very rural and a very different vibe than in the city. Once again everyone was super willing to talk to us and show off their prize birds. Because we came early in the season, the fights at Don Alonso weren’t to the death. The cocks were young and still training and wore little boxing gloves on their spurs called “botas”. The cocks can still peck at each other, but they don’t really hurt themselves and scoring is determined by how many hits the birds get, very much like boxing. No one gambles on these fights and the only money that exchanges hands are to the arena to enter the cocks in these training matches. 

At this point I should probably give you a little more info about cockfighting in general, I mean I probably should have done that two paragraphs ago, but here we are. Cockfighting is called “the gentleman’s game” because all bets are made during the matches from person to person. The arena just accepts entry fees and sells tickets and concessions, all the betting is person to person. The other thing we should talk about is the spurs. I think the standard thinking about cockfighting is that the tiny knives they strap to the legs of the birds are to make the fights more lethal, but that’s not the case. Spurs grow naturally on fighting cocks and they are used to kill any other cock that tries to go near their hens. These birds love to fight and they love to kill. It’s not like dog fighting where you have to train the dogs to attack. These birds are born for it. The attached spurs are actually just to make the fight fair. They don’t want people sharpening or adding poison to the spurs so if everyone files the spurs down and agrees to use the same plastic spurs the fights are more about the bird’s athleticism than their tiny daggers.

After watching a series of fights at Don Alonso we traveled deeper into the island to find an illegal or “clandestino” match. It was pouring rain and we were driving up these crazy winding roads in the mountains and there would just be wild animals around every turn. We ended up El Barrio la Pica, Jayuya, a town where most of the residents are either incarcerated in, or work at the prison there. While the fight was technically illegal, the mayor of the town actually let the organizers use a local basketball court for the fight as long as all the entry fees went to a charity. It was a pretty amazing scene with kids and dogs running around while the adults surrounded this tiny ring cheering on the young bota wearing cocks.

On our final day on the Island we went to a farm where they breed fighting cocks. The owner of the farm put a baby chick in Brendan’s hands and told us that he was “born to kill”. Given their nature is to fight, most of the training involves high perches where the cocks have to jump up to reach. Training them to jump is the biggest part of the training because they need to be able to out jump the other bird and land spurs first on their opponent. They also keep older cocks and there are two reasons for this, the first is that it keeps the birds agitated knowing that there is a threat around, but they also make for good sparring partners. They will but botas on the birds and tape their beaks shut and let them battle so that the young birds learn to fight against a much tougher opponent without getting hurt.

Cockfighing is honeslty a beautiful sport. The birds look so incredible while fighting and the sportsmanship around the betting is admirable. That being said, the death of the cocks seem completely needless. Male chicks are inedible killed anyway, but I am not sure our continental sensibility would allow cockfighing to thrive here, if it was somehow made illegal again. But I could see a lot more people coming around to it if they always fought with botas. But the brutality of a cockfight to the death is something I have no interest in seeing ever again. Even the guides we hired as translators/ security were revolted by the fights. They hated the sport and thought that even though it was a part of their culture they had no interest in having anything to do with it. 

Anyway, I hope you guys take a look at this gallery even though it’s over 450 images. I am really proud of this stuff and I hope someone actually looks at it. Plus if you make it to the end there are a bunch of adorable chicks. And if you are in LA, please check out the show on Saturday! There are some 35mm images from the trip that are in this show that aren’t in the gallery. 

Any money I make selling this work will be donated to Habitat for Humanity in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico isn’t close to rebuilt after Hurricane Maria and needs more help. Jayuya was badly damaged and in great need because of the same small roads we drove up making it much harder to get them the help they needed. You can donate to Habitat for Humanity PR here. 

Lastly, as you might expect there are some dead and bloody birds in this gallery, so if you are sensitive to any of that you probably don’t want to go through the photos, but then again if that’s the case you probably haven’t even read this far down so I guess we probably don’t need the warning.

Now click here to see the photos from our trip to Puerto Rico to document cockfighitng way back in 2012.

Cockfighting In Puerto Rico 

Cockfighting In Puerto Rico

Cockfighting In Puerto Rico

Cockfighting In Puerto Rico

Cockfighting In Puerto Rico

Cockfighting In Puerto Rico

Cockfighting In Puerto Rico

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2018 #MetLifeTakeover Video

Don’t worry folks, this is going to be my last Dolphins related post of the season. I mean, I guess there is a tremendously small chance that the incredibly subpar Dolphins could somehow win their next 4 regular season games, make the playoffs and then win several more games after that and I would have no choice but to do a post about my trip to the Super Bowl, but let’s just say that’s unlikely. 

As I mentioned a while ago, I organize this big event when the Dolphins play the Jets in New Jersey. We do a pre-party the night before, we do a huge tailgate party on game day and then we sell tickets to the actual game. I have to imagine we do the largest away game event in the country for any football team, we certainly own the largest several group ticket purchases in MetLifeStadium history (and they have two NFL teams playing there). This year we sold 1100 tickets and raised several thousand dollars for charity since we (DolfansNYC) are a non-profit. 

Anyway, the game was way back in September, but the video is finally out now. Go watch it if you want. I am pretty proud of it.

Oh and don’t worry I promise I will post some nudes or something fun next week. 

 

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Dolfans NYC Vs. Green Bay

I get it, you don’t care about these posts I do related to sports. You didn’t come here for that. Maybe you like football but you don’t care about the Dolphins or the fan club I run. Too bad. My guess is I am only going to post about them one more time this year, but it’s just something you are going to have to deal with. Sorry.

Because they are in different conferences the Dolphins only play the Green Bay Packers once every four years. Every eight years the game is in Green Bay. Green Bay is the smallest market in the NFL by far (only 100k people live there) but they have won the most football championships in the NFL. *Of course that’s because they are one of only three teams to have been around for 100 years and the NFL didn’t exist until 1966 and didn’t exist as it does now until 1970, and they’ve only won two Super Bowls since then but don’t tell them that.) Lambeau is one of the oldest Stadiums in the NFL and is a bucket list item for every NFL fan. Most of the seats are still bleachers and it’s home to the coldest football game in NFL history. The Super Bowl trophy is even named after their legendary coach Vince Lombardi.

Anyway, as soon as the schedule came out a group of us got tickets to the game and that group got bigger and bigger as the season went on. After people heard we were going they started asking us about tailgating options since we throw this huge tailgate whenever the Dolphins play in New Jersey so I kinda felt like I had to do something, but I was so busy I kept putting it off until we were about a week away from the game.

Fortunately a former Miami Dolphins beat writer reached out to me to ask about tailgating. He heard a guy named Ace had a great location about a block away from the stadium so I reached out to Ace to see what his plans were. He is the manager of a store called Extreme Audio in Manitowoc, WI (home to Making a Murder – I actually went to Avery Auto Salvage!) and asked his boss if when the Dolphins played the Packers he could use the Green Bay location to throw a tailgate. Extreme Audio serves as a parking lot during Packers games so his boss said as long as he could still sell the parking spaces Ace could tailgate there. 

It seemed like a perfect solution so I offered to buy 7 parking spaces that we could tailgate in as well as some money to pay for food. I reached out to Sailor Jerry and got them to send us some rum to make spiked hot apple cider. I posted on our social about the parking spaces and sold all of them in advance of the game in 24 hours and got the word out to hundreds of Dolphins fans who had made the trip. Ace did all the hard work and got all the food and booze and we went from a small tailgate into a massive event in just five days!

We asked everyone who showed up to throw in $10 if they wanted to eat food and although we bought a couple cases of beer it was mostly BYOB. In the end we raised over $1000 and donated $800 of that for the local Toys 4 Tots! Dolfans NYC is a non profit so we didn’t take any money back, but we gave the $200 to Ace for his extra expenses. Overall it was a great day (at least until the game started).

Lambeau was an amazing experience (although I wouldn’t want to sit in freezing temperatures on cold metal benches very often) and we even did a tour of the stadium the night before which was a lot of fun. I took a handful of shots from the tour and the rest of the photos here are from the tailgate the next day. If for some reason you made it this far you probably actually want to see the photos so let’s get on with it.

Click here to see all the photos from the Dolfans NYC trip to Green Bay and Lambeau Field.

Dolfans NYC Vs Green Bay

Dolfans NYC Vs Green Bay

Dolfans NYC Vs Green Bay

Dolfans NYC Vs Green Bay

Dolfans NYC Vs Green Bay 

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2018 #MetLifeTakeover – 9.16.18

Gonna make this post a quick one because 1) I am in Detroit visiting my girlfriend 2) You don’t care about the Miami Dolphins and 3) I am gonna do another post with a video from this event so I am gonna talk about it all over again. But I got some photos for you and they need at least some explanation.

My friend Michelle and I run Dolfans NYC, the largest Miami Dolphins fan club in the world. We throw this event every year called the #MetLifeTakeover where we throw a huge tailgate when the Dolphins play the Jets in New Jersey at MetLife Stadium. We also buy over 1000 tickets every year so you can sit in an almost all Dolphins section and it feel like a home game in Miami. It’s a lot of fun, especially when we win like we did on Sunday.

The night before we throw a pre-party at our bar Slattery’s Midtown Pub so that’s what the first half of the photos are from. 

We do raffles and fundraisers and sell merch both nights and we raise a ton of money for charity. We donated $2000 to the Miami Dolphins Foundation at the tailgate during the live taping of a radio show called Cup of Joe hosted by a former Dolphins player. We also had two of my favorite Dolphins of all time come to the tailgate as part of the Cup of Joe show. It was great. We also donated $2000 to the Jason Taylor Foundation as well and raised a lot more money that will be donated to various charities. 

Okay, so that’s enough of talk. Go look at the photos and I will be back in a few days when I get home and hopefully the video will be out soon. You can check out the trailer for it here if you want. 

Now click here to see my photos from the 2018 #MetLifeTakeover. 

2018 #MetLifeTakeover

2018 #MetLifeTakeover

2018 #MetLifeTakeover

2018 #MetLifeTakeover

2018 #MetLifeTakeover

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Washington Capitals Championship Parade – 6.12.18

Last Thursday the Washington Capitals beat the Vegas Golden Knights to win the first Stanley Cup in team history. It was the first major Championship in my hometown of DC since 1992 and the first championship team that I have rooted for in my life. After celebrating all night at the NYC Caps Crew bar Jojo’s Philosophy in the West Village I started planning my trip to the Capitals parade in DC. 

My plan was going to go down with a few people on Monday afternoon, beating rush hour and getting to my parent’s place in Northern VA with plenty of time to sleep, but on Sunday night the Capitals announced that star players Alexander Ovechkin and Braden Holtby were going to be in NYC with the Stanley Cup for the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. I couldn’t believe it. Not only was the Stanley Cup going to be in NYC, but they are going to the show where my friend Seth Herzog works as the warm up comic. Heroically Seth got me backstage where I not only got to check off a major bucket list item and hold the Stanley Cup but I got to meet Holtby and Ovechkin. Ovechkin just happens to be my favorite human of all time. 

After Fallon was over I met up with my friend Sam who I have been watching hockey with since 1991 and my friend Justin who is part of the NYC Caps Crew and we drove south and got to my parents house around 2am. After a few hours of sleep we hit the parade. We got to the National Mall around 9am and it was packed with people already. We found a spot near the end of the parade route under a tree which was ideal given that we were going to have to stand there for four hours. When the parade finally started I made my way a bit closer to the street but still was behind a ton of people. I brought my camera just because I felt like I had to, but I didn’t even bring a long lens so my parade photos were pretty pointless. I got a few decent shots, but mostly garbage. I was just happy to be there.

I shot a few more photos of the crowd on the mall, but we were so far from the rally stage and just exhausted so we texted all of our friends and had them meet us in Arlington at the Arlington Rooftop Bar & Grill for an after party thrown by Russian Machine Never Breaks. RMNB is probably my favorite sports blog of all time and it was great to finally meet Ian who runs it. A bunch of the NYC Caps Crew made it out too, and I got to hang out with my friend Jamie who with Sam is one of my oldest, closest friends and is another person I’ve been watching Caps games with since childhood. I ran into a ton of people I know from hockey Twitter as well and it was just a really good time. 

I decided not to go out after that because I hadn’t slept at all and was pretty exhausted so I came home and edited these photos and crashed, but my Championship week isn’t quite over. Today I am going to get a Stanley Cup tattoo at Jinx Proof tattoos in DC which was the first place I ever got tattooed almost exactly 20 years ago.

It’s been one hell of a week after a lifetime of sports related suffering. I realize many of you can’t possibly imagine why I would care so much about sports but if you are interested in knowing a little bit more about how I felt, I wrote something for the NYC Caps Crew blog about it. Some of it might not make any sense if you aren’t a Caps fan, but I actually started crying while writing it, so it means a lot to me. And if you still don’t care about sports, don’t worry, I will go back to posting parties and nudity ASAP and won’t bug you with any more sports related content until September when football season starts…

Click here to see my photos from the Washington Capitals first ever Championship Parade & the RMNB after party.

Washington Capitals Championship Parade

Jakub Vrana & TJ Oshie

Washington Capitals Championship Parade

Washington Capitals Championship Parade

Washington Capitals Championship Parade

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Fleet Week & Playoff Hockey – 5.23.18

When I used to shoot dance parties every day of my life I would bounce around from club to club and I would occasionally do theses “Random Night Out” posts where I would combine all the shots I took in a night when I didn’t want to do a bunch of posts or didn’t shoot enough photos to really justify their own gallery. Wednesday night was a little bit different, but I felt like the galleries make sense together anyway even if they don’t really have anything to do with each other.

On Wednesday night the Washington Capitals played the biggest game in their history. The Caps went to the Stanley Cup in 1998 but no one really gave them a chance against the Red Wings and they got swept in four games. 20 years later the Caps were on the brink of their first trip to the finals since 1998, but they had to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in a terrifying game 7. The Caps were big underdogs in the series and no one expected them to take it to 7 games much less win.

I had made plans to watch the game with my NYC Caps Crew family so when I got a call from Harley-Davidson asking me at the very last minute to shoot the Fleet Week opening night party I almost had to turn them down, but they only needed me until 9 and the game started at 8. I asked them if I could go at 8:30pm and they were fine with that so I threw my Caps jersey and my camera in my bag and got my ass up to Times Square to shoot the Fleet Week kick off at the Hard Rock Cafe.

My second roommate in NYC worked at the Hard Rock Cafe but I haven’t actually been there before. I loved Hard Rock’s as a kid but as an adult the only Hard Rock’s I’ve been to are the casino in Vegas and the Dolphins stadium in Miami which is, as of last year, Hard Rock Stadium. I ended up getting there pretty early so I shot the Harley on stage and took some photos outside. I didn’t want to bug the sailors while they were eating the pretty serious buffet they had available for them, but I got some decent crowd shots before the USO entertainment began. 

The entertainment consisted of Broadway style versions of pop songs mostly, but you would be really surprised how well Katy Perry goes over in a room full of sailors and Marines. It was honestly pretty amazing. They were a few songs into the country music part of the set when I had to escape to go watch hockey, but the crowd was loving it. Personally I was loving the fact that Alex Ovechkin scored 1 minutes and 2 seconds into the game to put the Caps up 1-0 before I got to our bar Jojo’s Philosophy.

When I got to Jojo’s the bar was completely packed. The bouncer whispered to me to go around and sneak in the back because he couldn’t let me just walk in when there was a huge line. It was pretty funny cause that’s the exact type of shit I pulled in my nightlife days except this time it was a sports bar. I somehow made my way up to my friends near the front, threw my camera bag over one of the bar stools and put on my Caps jersey even though it was 100 degrees in the bar at this point.

When the Caps scored their second goal after the Lightning had been really dominating play I almost started crying. In so many past seasons the exact opposite would happen to us. We would be killing a team but they would get the lucky breaks and the Caps would somehow lose. This felt so different and after the Caps scored again I could see the expression in the Lightning’s faces that I had seen so many times before in the Caps faces. With twenty minutes still left in the game they knew it was over.

When the Caps scored their fourth and final goal with only a few minutes to go in the game Jojo’s completely exploded. Suddenly I realized I still had my camera on me and dove into the crowd to pull it out of my camera bag. I just started blindly shooting and as the bartenders sprayed us with wine and water I just kept shooting. As the clock ticked down we all began hugging and high fiving and just losing our minds knowing we were finally going back to the Stanley Cup Finals. If you don’t give a shit about sports you can probably never understand this moment, but 20 years of pain was wiped out in 60 minutes of hockey. 

Again, if you don’t care about sports, or hockey or the Caps you might not care about any of this, but the faces of jubilation are worth looking at if nothing else. Sports provides the highest highs and the lowest lows and even if you can’t understand that, you can still appreciate the emotions so I recommend you checking out these photos even if it’s not something you’d normally care about.

Anyway, I have broken this up into two different galleries but it’s all one night and all one post. 

Click here to see all the photos from the Harley-Davidson sponsored Fleet Week kick off party at the Hard Rock Cafe.

Click here to see all the photos from the NYC Caps Crew’s Eastern Conference Finals winning celebration at Jojo’s Philosophy.

Harley Davidson Fleet Week

NYC Caps Crew

Harley Davidson Fleet Week

NYC Caps Crew

Harley Davidson Fleet Week

NYC Caps Crew

Harley Davidson Fleet Week

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2018 NFL Draft – 4.26.18

Last Thursday morning I got on a red eye flight on no sleep and flew to Dallas, Texas for the NFL Draft.

The NFL Draft was in NYC for years and I started organizing group trips to the Draft to promote Dolfans NYC, the local New York Dolphins fan club that I ran. We would go to the draft and hand out flyers to any other Dolphins fans we could find. We would occasionally get on TV with the idea of letting other New York Dolphins fans that we existed. Using the Draft to promote the club actually worked really well and we got a ton of new members because of it. Our group is now the biggest Dolphins fan club in the world and we became a non-profit company and have donated tens of thousands of dollars to different charities over the years.

Unfortunately a few years ago the NFL got into a disagreement with Radio City Music Hall and decided to start moving the Draft to different cities. It was pretty disappointing for us but it’s probably good for everyone else. They have turned it into a huge event and I have to imagine this years in Dallas was by far the biggest. 

The NFL came up with a great idea for the Draft this year. They would give every NFL team 50 tickets to their most diehard fans and let them sit on the floor of AT&T Stadium so that whenever a pick was announced TV cameras could focus on these crazy looking, passionate, fans. These fans were chosen in different ways by different teams. Some teams held contests, and some just gave them out to their most loyal ($$$) season ticket holders. The Miami Dolphins decided to offer their tickets to the fan clubs from around the country. 

When Dolfans NYC was offered two tickets I reached out to my partner Michelle who didn’t really have any interest in going. Neither of us really care about the draft, but we thought it would be good to be represented so we used some of our club frequent flyer miles to fly me to Dallas. I had to book really horrible flights because I didn’t want to pay for a longer hotel stay than I had to and was really regretting the trip pretty much up until the moment I walked into the stadium.

Because of the amazing luck of the seats being in alphabetical order the Dolphins were the very closest seats to the stage. Their division the AFC East was closest to the stage and Miami was the second city alphabetically in that division so we were actually even more centered than the Buffalo Bills because they organized them from outside in. None of this is that interesting but it was really cool to have front row seats to the draft, right on the floor of one of the most insane stadiums in the world.

Each section had a person that was in charge of the group. Ours happened to be a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader named Kelsey who was making sure we were going crazy when the TV cameras were on us. Shortly before the Dolphins first round pick I bought a water and I got $14 in one dollar bills as change. Kelsey and I started joking about having ones for a strip club and then I was talking about how I should make it rain on a draft pick and so she dared me to do it. After they were drafted all the players would come over to the super fan groups and pose for a photo and so when the Dolphins selected Minkah Fitzpatrick with the 11th pick in the Draft I had no choice but to throw money on him. It was one of the better things I have done with my life and fortunately Kelsey got the whole thing on video

Anyway, after our pick I was pretty exhausted and just sort of sat around talking to my friend Ross who was one of the original members of Dolfans NYC but lives in Dallas now. It was great to see him and nice to just relax after the madness of the draft. He had to head back to work the next day so for day two I brought my cousin’s husband who lives nearby. He’s a die hard Dolphins fan himself and it was cool to hang out with him. I am sure it’s the first time I have spent any time with him without the rest of the family around.

Day two was a lot more relaxed than day one because the picks aren’t really of the same caliber of player. They did have NFL legends announce the second round and current players announce the third. We had Hall of Famer Dwight Stephenson and Pro Bowl safety Reshad Jones. I love both of those players so that was really cool. I also decided to wear this stupid luchador mask I bought as a joke because it seemed like the best way to get our Dolfans NYC logo on TV. It worked, and I made it on TV praying to a Dolphins baby who was being held aloft Lion King style

Okay, so I realize most of you don’t care about any of this, but when I finally do my juggalo book I want to do a companion zine called FAN ZINE that’s just a collection of photos of crazy fans, be they juggalos or NFL superfans or cosplayers or Bronies or whatever. So this was pretty great chance to get some shots for that zine and while I admittedly half assed the photos because I was exhausted and trying to take in the draft, I did get some pretty wild shots of fans. I also shot some of the stuff from before the game, but it was like 100 degrees out and I was mostly trying not to burn (I failed).

So click here to see all my photos from the 2018 NFL Draft in Dallas, Texas.

2018 NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft

2018 NFL Draft
 

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NYC Caps Crew Fundraiser – 4.7.18

 The NHL Playoffs begin tomorrow which means my life revolves around hockey until the Washington Capitals inevitably disappoint me. If you read this blog fairly regularly you probably know about my obsession with the Miami Dolphins and about the non-profit organization that I started with my friend Michelle called Dolfans NYC, but you might not know about my hockey problem. 

I’ve been a Capitals fan since I was a little kid but it wasn’t until I became a full time freelancer (almost 1o years ago!) that I started caring about hockey anywhere near the same level as I do football. I used to just watch the playoffs but when I started working from home I found that hockey games were the perfect thing to work to. I could put them on in the background and with 82 games in the season no one game is that important. I would look up if there was a power play or a goal but mostly I would just listen while I worked. 

I started watching the playoffs with some people but it wasn’t until 2010 when a combination of the Caps playoffs and the Winter Olympics led to a more organized group. Over the years these people became friends who I started hanging out with outside of hockey games which is something I’ve never really done with my Dolfans NYC people. But then things really stepped up another level when in 2015 we had an incident at a playoff game on Long Island that ended up going viral after I wrote an an open letter to the New York Islanders. Being in the national news attracted a ton more people to our watch parties and the group of us who went to that game started a Facebook chat that is still going strong 3 years later and has become the backbone of our “New York City Caps Crew“.

One of the issues I wrote about in my open letter was about the racist treatment of my friend Fatou. Fatou is a black female hockey fan which is unfortunately fairly uncommon at a hockey game. She also happens to be one of the loudest (and if you happen to be a rival fan – one of the most obnoxious) people I have ever met. This has led to some really disgusting experiences where people have made these coded racial comments to her. At the Islanders game it was comments about her hair and at a Devils game last year someone accused her of being on welfare. These certainly aren’t the only examples but they bring us a little closer to the point of this post.

The Capitals have a player on the team named Devante Smith-Pelly who happens to be black and during a game against the Chicago Blackhawks some Hawks fans started chanting “Basketball” at him. It was the same kinda gross coded racial insults that Fatou has faced. He was noticeably upset about it and talked about it after the game. The incident made national news and embarrassed Blackhawks fans decided they would try and turn the negative into a positive and ended up raising $20,000 to a charity in Smith_Pelly’s name. The charity he chose was the Ft. Dupont Ice Arena.

Ft. Dupont is a skating rink in DC that gives inner city kids a chance to skate that they might not normally have.  Unlike most sports where you can just get a ball and play hockey and figure skating requires a rink and unless you live somewhere very cold with a bunch of lakes you are going to have to pay to have access to ice. On top of that skates and hockey equipment are quite expensive which means  there are a lot of kids who grow up without ever having the opportunity skate, but Ft. Dupont’s helps level the ice so to speak.

Fatou was really inspired by this fundraising and she knew about all the charity work I do with Dolfans NYC and she reached out to me about doing a fundraiser for Ft. Dupont as well. I gave her some advice but she really took it and ran. We decided to do a fundraiser on April 7th at Jojo’s Philosophy, during the last Caps game of the year, but Fatou also wanted to do an online fundraiser and it ended up raising $3000 before the event even happened thanks in part to a great profile of Fatou in my favorite sports blog Russian Machine Never Breaks!

At our Dolfans NYC events the most money we make is via merch sales so I knew we needed to do a t-shirt or something. We always refer to Devante Smith-Pelly as DSP and so quickly “You down with DSP? Yeah, you know me!” became a chant referencing the Naughty By Nature song “OPP”. The Naughty by Nature logo is so iconic and features a baseball bat so I was thinking it would be a great idea to do DSP’s name in the style of that logo with a hockey stick instead of a baseball bat. Fortunately NYC Caps Crew member Justin is a designer and cranked us out an amazing logo and we made a bunch of t-shirts. I also broke out my old button maker from my punk rock days and made a bunch of stupid buttons to sell. On top of that we asked people to bring in Caps stuff for a raffle. 

The party was a blast and we ended up raising another $1000 and our final gift to Ft. Dupont was over $4000! Alex Ovechkin scored two goals and almost scored a third which would have given him his 8th 50 goal season. Unfortunately he didn’t hit 50 but he still scored more goals than anyone else in the league for an astounding 7th time in his career and it gave an otherwise meaningless game something to cheer for. I took photos of the party for Russian Machine so you can either look at them there or look at them on here. Whatever works. 

Anyway, this post is over 1000 words and it features no nudity or celebrities holding puppies or anything like that so I am going to wrap it it up, but wish me luck in the playoffs because I am about to lose my goddamn mind rooting for this team that has ripped my heart out time and time again. 

Donate to Ft. Dupont Ice Arena here.

And click here to see all the photos from our NYC Caps Crew fundraiser at Jojo’s Philosophy.

NYC Caps Crew

NYC Caps Crew

NYC Caps Crew

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SXSW Slugfest – 3.17.18

On the last day of South By Southwest I got to photograph a boxing match. My friend Keith Underwood is a tattoo artist and a boxer and he started a boxing promotion company called Underwood Promotions. They had this idea of doing a boxing match during SXSW called SXSW Slugfest that would feature both boxing and live music music. It worked out and became an official SXSW event taking place at the Moody Theater the home of Austin City Limits.

I know Keith because of my work with Sailor Jerry. He apprenticed under Mike Malone who worked under the Sailor Jerry himself and took over Jerry’s shop after he died. Keith has continued the legacy and we have done a bunch of tattoo events together for Sailor Jerry.  It only made sense for Sailor Jerry to sponsor the event and the tattooed ring girls wore Sailor Jerry shirts. Musically the event featured a rockabilly band called The Octanes who played before the boxing started. Between matches hip hop artists MC Doughbeezy and Young Jay performed. Zach Blair of Rise Against played the National Anthem before the main event.

As far as the boxing goes, I am just gonna post all the info from the website.  because I don’t know a goddamn thing about boxing outside of watching every movie about sports ever made. I mean, I loved Tyson back in the day but my love of boxing ended right around the time he bit Holyfield’s ear off. I do own a George Foreman grill though…

Carlos Trevino vs Manuel Rubalacava – Manny Mondragon vs Tyler Pacheco – Prisco Marquez vs Tanner Dodd  – Iskander Kharsan vs Richard Munoz

The main event was Reshard Hicks vs Adan Ahumada for the World Boxing Bureau Intercontinental Title. Check out the official results here.

Hicks pretty much destroyed Ahumada and only the first match went the distance but all of the matches were pretty entertaining. I had never photographed boxing before and honestly I had a blast. I was so close that a couple times I got hit with the ropes when the boxers would crash into them. I had some blood spatter less than two inches from my arm which was pretty great too. I mean as long as didn’t get in my face right?

I took so many damn photos and I edited them down to just over 100. I don’t think I got any shots that were the perfect boxing shot that I imagine when I think about boxing photography but I got a lot of shots I was pretty happy with. I would love to shoot more boxing. I think if I knew the sport better and had more experience shooting matches I could get pretty good at it. Sports photography in general is so specialized but with boxing you sort of have to just “spray and pray” a bit because you never know when that big punch is coming. I feel like those big moments would be a little more intuitive if I watched more boxing.

Anyway, the boxing was a blast and I hope I get to do it again. I hope you guys click through this gallery because some of this stuff is really fun.

Click here to see all the photos from Underwood Promotions: SXSW Slugfest at the Moody Theater in Austin, TX.

SXSW Slugfest

SXSW Slugfest

SXSW Slugfest

SXSW Slugfest\

SXSW Slugfest

SXSW Slugfest

SXSW Slugfest

SXSW Slugfest

SXSW Slugfest

 

 

 

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