Ken Montgomery – OUT ON BAIL!

The goal was simple… Salt Lake City by 2AM.  Somewhere in the middle of Nevada that was the goal we had set.  Our road trip – recent Cal graduate Frank Cohen and Chris Brache and I were heading to Red Rocks to see Pretty Lights – got off to a late start so our goal was to simply get to the halfway point, Salt Lake City by 2 AM.  We’d spend a couple of nights there, chillax before heading down to Arches National Park and then into Denver for the concert (more on the road trip in a later post)…. So about 10PM with 350 miles to go  that was our goal… And then this happened….

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Yeeeeaaaah, if you do the math, covering those 350 miles in 4 hours was going to require going a little over the 75MPH speed limit… And then we hit a little road construction so I had to make up that lost time and then, well there were definitely some not so pretty lights.

Oh well, it was what it was.  A little bump in the road.  Everything was fine and I could see Trooper Aten walking back to the Jeep.. but then he turned and went back to his patrol car.  And then we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  For about 20 minutes.  This did not feel good but I had no idea what could be wrong.  When he finally came back he said he had some good news and bad news.  The good news was he was only going to cite me for the minimum for going over the speed limit. That was because of the bad news.  There was a bench warrant out for my arrest for a failure to appear in Lake Tahoe (Stateline, NV).  What the what???  It turns out 2 years ago – TWO YEARS AGO – I received a totally bogus ticket for expired registration, even though my registration wasn’t expired.  I thought I had taken care of that, which I had, and the fact I had registered my vehicle twice in the intervening time would lend itself to that.  But nooooo…. Turns out there was a snafu.  (more on that below)

Trooper Aten said he was legally obligated to take me into custody to the Sheriff’s office and the bail would be $552.  And they only accepted cash.  Which is where we had a problem.  I had left my wallet at home, which I realized when we stopped for gas in Sacramento.  But luckily I had my AMEX card with me in my briefcase so that was going to suffice until I had my wallet overnighted to me on Tuesday.  Trooper Aten said I could follow him into town to the local casino where I could get the cash before heading to the sheriff’s office. hmmm, seems like I’ve seen a couple of versions of this movie before, if you know what I mean…

So there I was following this Nevada State trooper in the middle of Nevada, to a casino to withdraw cash, to bail myself out of jail for a bogus failure to appear bench warrant.  Just another Saturday night.

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As fate would have it, the casino couldn’t do a counter line of credit (like they do in large casinos) and only had a cash machine and the cash machine didn’t work… So off we went, Trooper Aten in the lead to the nearest bank.  And their ATMs were out of order.  And then to the BofA.  We’d get this taken care of.  But another problem, for the life of me I could not remember my PIN!!! I tried everything… nothing worked.  So Frank was able to withdraw $300 up to his daily limit which still left me $260 short.  Chris was a little depleted so I was able to write Chris a check for $300 which we deposited to get out the $300.  Simple… And then off to the sheriff’s office.

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Now I should say here that we were in a jeep with the top off.  There were Berkeley – recent – alumni in the car.  We were going to an EDM concert in Colorado. IN COLORADO. I’ll let you put two and two together because without incriminating myself, you may have thought I was transporting a Reggae band. I mention this because when we got to the sheriff’s office, Trooper Aten told me “All I want you to do is bring in your money, and your driver’s license and that is it.  Nothing else.  We don’t want give anyone any reason to come out and search your car, right?”  So I told Frank and Chris “This should only be about 20 minutes, be back shortly…”

We went inside, me expecting to take care of everything at the counter and then the next thing you know I’m in lock-up!  I naively asked “Hey I need to use the bathroom can I do that before going in” and I was directed to the toilet in the cell… I said “This is going to be worse for you than me…” but I’m guessing they’ve seen it all.  And then I waited in the cell… and waited… and waited… And about 2 hours later I was finally processed.  I want to say the deputy on duty could not have been more pleasant.  The cell was comfortable and I think I actually got about 20 minutes of sleep!

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Anyway, I feel like I am petering out here… but Frank and Chris were totally good sports about the whole thing.  We ended up spending the night at the one vacant room left at 3AM in Elko Nevada, in an awful Comfort Inn where they rousted us from our room at 11AM.  I told the guys “Hey if you don’t mind after a stint in jail in the middle of Nevada, and then this flea bag,  I’d rather not stay in Salt Lake, let me treat to a couple of nights at the St. Regis in Deer Valley…” Frank and Chris graciously agreed to that and quickly took to our new plan.

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That’ some serious man time right there!

Ah, the original citation.  I in fact did take care of it, but I had to go to court yesterday in Stateline, NV to settle it once and for all.  I was the tenth case called and I’m glad of that because I got to witness an awesome judge, Judge Richard Glasson. I was blown away with the courteous manner in which he ran his court and with the respect he treated each of the defendants before him. The first thing he asked to me was “What’s the C on your shirt stand for?” I told him “Cal.”  He then asked if I had looked him up on the Internet… I hadn’t… but I wish I had because it turns out he was named Judge of the Year in Nevada this year… well deserved if you ask me.

We proceeded to have a great conversation about his time at Cal, that he had to transfer to UC Davis because he was too distracted by the many things one would be distracted by in the early 70’s in Berkeley, that his daughter is now at Cal… we talked about 4th Amendment issues… and in the end, he and the District Attorney dismissed the original citation, apologized for the mix-up and told me I’d be getting my bail back!   Again, it could not have been a better experience and outcome.

And had I not had to go to court I would have missed this great snowfall on the last day of summer!!

And one last thing… the speeding ticket… I called the court to see if I could take care of this by mail.  I had a great conversation with the Deputy District Attorney Nicole Ting, told her my story which she insisted I retell while on speaker phone… and to the accompaniment of lots of laughs she told me she really thought the ticket should have been for mudflaps missing, which is not a moving violation, not for speeding!!  So no need to go to court, no point on my record.  WOO-HOO!!!

And so there you have it.  Moral of the story? I don’t know… Just roll with the punches…  Things will work out… life is an adventure and the journey is a major part… And if you’re on a road trip with Ken, hope he gets thrown in jail because you just might get a couple of nights at the St. Regis out of it!

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AMERICA!!!! (And Cal and UCLA)

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Just a quickie today… what I love about America and makes my heart swell.  The two smiling people – and they are ALWAYS smiling – in the above photo are Lydia and Joseph.  They have been serving up simple, awesome and incredibly reasonably priced Japanese lunches to patrons in San Francisco from their modest Jackson Square walk-in deli for 25 years.  On any given day there’s a line out the door and down Pacific Avenue as customers wait to order Chicken Teriyaki over rice with a side of salad… for $6!

Lydia and Joseph are first generation Americans and for my money are living the American dream.  Today, with even huger smiles than usual, they apologized that they would not be open on Friday. Turns out they have to drive their son Justin to Los Angeles as he checks in for his freshman year at UCLA!!!  And as if just getting into UCLA isn’t enough, Justin plans on studying biochem. Come on dude, try pushing yourself a little!

While congratulating Joseph, I asked him he had any mixed feelings as he frequently wears a Cal t-shirt.  He said to me “My son told me I have to to stop wearing it…. but I’ll still wear it! GO BEARS!”

So to Justin I say congrats on getting accepted to UCLA!  To Lydia and Joseph congrats to you on raising a great kid.  And thank you.  Not just for years of great food, but most importantly, thank you for reminding us the American dream is alive and well.

My Advice to Cal Fans, Chill and Just Enjoy 2013 – We Have Something Good Going on Here

If ever there was a season for Cal fans to sit back and enjoy watching their student-athletes play, this is the season.  I say this coming off of Saturday’s 52-34 loss to Ohio State in front of a packed Memorial Stadium… packed because Ohio State fans constituted about 35% of the crowd (and more on that later).

I know 2013 is going to be painful.  Winning is better than losing, we all get that.  I also love that Coach Dykes and the team aren’t talking about moral victories.  I wouldn’t expect any different.  But as fans we would look like idiots to think that the toughest schedule in the country being played by the 2nd youngest team in  the country isn’t going to be tough.  Throw in a slew of key injuries on defense to an already young squad and well, you get my point.

There are seasons in sports, and they don’t happen often, where one gets the feeling that “this is the year” that sets up the next year… I remember this same feeling in 1987 when the Oakland A’s finished 2nd to the Twins that year.  You knew as that season evolved you were part of the foundation of a bright future.  When the A’s went on their great run it made it that much greater to have been there before it happened.  That’s the feeling I get in Berkeley now.

Something special is happening at Cal.  Against Northwestern almost 60,000 were in attendance to see Coach Dykes in his premier. That is coming off three bad years in a row, 2 of them without bowl games and the previous year at 3-9.  It was a great, spirited and loud crowd. There is a new engagement between the Coaching staff and the community.  I get the sense these coaches really like being in BERKELEY and at Cal and I believe the fans appreciate that in return.  Cal is reaching out more to the community.  The weekly Wednesday night radio shows from the Field Club at Memorial Stadium are a great idea and a lot of fun – you should go! If you haven’t had a chance to interact with our players, you should.  These are a bunch of charming, articulate and good people. They make you terribly proud to be a part of the Cal family.

I want to give a special shout out to the Ohio State fans and Marching Band. I loved the guy above so much I had to take his picture!  I believe it was the most visiting fans I have ever seen in Memorial, by most accounts they made up about 40% of the crowd. There’s been a lot of angst and gnashing of teeth on some of the Cal fan blogs… Just chill. I talked to many people who lived out here in California who were excited to see their Buckeyes in person, and a lot of folks who made the trip out from Ohio. Football and Ohio State are different than Football and California.  I suspect they like that.  And I suspect we like that. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the other side.  The OSU people (with just a few of the typical exceptions) gracious and quick with the praise about what a spectacular setting Memorial Stadium, Strawberry Canyon and Berkeley are.  It was nice to hear.  Before the game, what I absolutely love about college sports and intersection match-ups happened – each school’s marching band played the other school’s fight song. You can watch The Ohio State Marching band play “Fight” here (at the 1:06 mark).

I’ll leave the analyzing of X & Os to others that know better (or at least profess to…).  I just focus on how I feel as a Cal fan.  Right now I feel good.  I like our head coach. I like our players.  I also like the position that football holds on our campus.  Just about the perfect blend if you ask me.  We want our team to do well.  Oh do we want a Rose Bowl!  We’re passionate.  But we’re not willing to sacrifice ideals and perspective at the foot of the college football god.

So Cal fans.  Hang with this team.  You get to watch young players grow before your very eyes.  Great things are ahead of us.  And it’s always great to be a Cal Bear!!!

Why I Fist Bump 9/11 – Mark Bingham

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YOLO!!!!  You Only Live Once.

Oh do I get grief for that.  And for my obsession with the fist bump – the exploding fist bump!  So I thought I would take a moment to share with you the genesis of that.

Yep, it’s 9/11, so time for my annual homage to my great friend Mark Bingham, who was taken from us entirely too early 12 years ago.  It would almost be impossible for any of you reading this, who likely know me, to not know of Mark Bingham.  Mark was one of the heroes of United 93 who in a selfless last act of courage helped bring down the aircraft which experts believe had the US Capitol Building as its target.

Mark was one of my best friends.  Now the great thing about Mark is you could probably ask 20 people and each of them would also say “Mark was one of my best friends,” such was the infectious, suck-the-marrow-out-of-the-bone approach to life and friends  Mark lived.  Back in 2001 I, along with Cal Rugby Coach Jack Clark and Cal Rugby Alum Jon Beck were interviewed for a story about Mark in the Daily Cal which you can read here.

One of the tough things about losing a great friend so young is you expect a certain arc in life.  You selfishly expect to enjoy that person’s friendship and company, to experience the highs and lows, and that they will grow old with you and to share in all that life has to offer.  When that’s taken from you, you feel a loss that’s more profound… and lonelier than you imagine it’s going to be.

I am sure you all have friends with whom you share some great memory that only you share. And at the simple drop of a word will make you laugh and connect.  Mark and I had many of those but I think my favorite was bauble.  Back in 1988, there was an SNL skit of the Winter Olympics with Tom Hanks playing a very gay ice skater; it was hilarious. At one point a very excited Dick Button is gushing about Hanks taming  the ice when all of a sudden he goes stumbling because as Button exclaims “There’s a bauble!”  So whenever Mark or I would trip or stumble we would both simultaneously say “BAUBLE!!!”

So back to the exploding fist bump – because it’s really not a fist bump without the explosion at the end!  After 9/11 I made two commitments to myself to honor Mark’s memory; to let go of pettiness and to enjoy the hell out of life and make an impact.  That first one, well let’s say I struggle with that one… I mean I try, but as anyone who has argued a point with me on California Golden Blogs will attest, I fail at it.  Too often.  Like I said, I’m trying!  Life is just too short to let pettiness dictate who we are or how we live.

But the exploding fist bump, often accompanied by a smile and a YOLO!   That’s my sort of daily, physical reminder that life is supposed to be fun.  It’s meant to be lived and enjoyed and laughed at and sung along to and danced with and devoured and experienced… Because I am telling you right now, not one of those victims on the planes or on the ground or in the Pentagon or the World Trade Center planned on dying that day. But they did.  And no one plans on getting killed in a car accident, or finding out they have terminal cancer, or losing a loved one to some tragic accident today.  But that will happen.  To thousands of people.

So what do we do?  We live, that’s what.  If  you’ve made it this far and will indulge me, I’d like to share with you advice that Robert Gordon Sproul, one of the great presidents of the University of California, gave to an audience in Berkeley. It’s really informed how I approach life and why I so often throw away my dignity in the moment!

If man’s brief stay on Earth may be compared to a splash on the sea of life, his circle of friends and associates is the ripple therewith set in motion.  The larger the splash, the stronger the ripple tends to be and the farther and wider it will extend.

Some men profess indifference to the ripple they create, but modesty or blindness may be suspected in that.  Few of us can turn existence into living without the inspiration and the help that comes from others. The more actively we live, the more important others become – for they are both audience and fellow actors. Among them must be sought a supporting cast for the role we dream of playing and the critics who will help us play it well.  One cannot light a torch in a vacuum.

That’s sort of how I’ve approached life.  I don’t know, maybe at the end it will have been a mistake, but I don’t think so. I jump into the water doing a great big cannon ball!!

That old photo up there of Mark and me…  Even though it’s an awful photo of me, I love it because what it represents.  It’s taken at a restaurant in Chicago during a crazy summer weekend that all started with a phone call on a Friday from Mark:  “Ken, let’s go to Chicago for the weekend,” and so we did.  Got on a plane the next morning at 6AM… Went to a Cubs game.  Had some great meals.  Went to the museums.  Went to some bars and stayed out entirely too late and were exhausted getting into the office fresh off our return flight on Monday morning.  But man, what a weekend.  And son-of-a-gun here I am today!

So that brings me back to the exploding fist bump. That simple little gesture is my tribute to Mark. It’s a reminder to not take life too seriously and to live my life to its fullest.  So the next time I fist bump you – and insist you explode the fist with me – that’s why.  And if it makes you smile – and even better laugh – despite yourself, then I’ve accomplished something that day.  So today give me that fist bump, let’s see it explode and go ahead and say it…. YOLO!!!!

If you have your own great memory of Mark I’d love to hear it.  And in honor of Mark, with all the hale and heartiness you can muster, GO BEARS!!!

Why I Love Cal, Reason #146,872 – Olympic Gold Medalist Winner Missy Franklin Singing the Fight Song!

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A quick one this morning.  How can you not love this.  A long tradition at Cal, the Cal Women’s Swim Team freshmen serenade the Men’s Water Polo Team before the men leave for their first game of the season.

This year one of those freshman is four-time Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin.  Click on  the photo to watch them in action!

I’m not sure what I love more… the women singing or the men clapping along.  I know one thing for sure…

GO BEARS!!!

(Photo and video courtesy Cal Men’s Water Polo and Kirk Everist)

That’s as un-unhappy after a loss as I think I’ve ever been

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Last night Cal lost to the Northwestern Wildcats in a wild game in Berkeley.  Normally an opening game home loss to a ranked team on national TV. where we got jobbed on a couple of calls by the refs and where the opposing team used some questionably ethical tactics, would leave me in a poor mood.  But not last night.

Cal is coming off a tough season.  Make that a tough few seasons.  Last night in the spectacular confines of Memorial Stadium in Strawberry Canyon, a new era of Cal football began.  Last night reminded me why I love Cal football so much. I’ll let other dissect and report on the plays – the folks at California Golden Blogs do a great job!  – but here are my take-aways.

College football is incredible for bringing together friends. Was great seeing everyone at Bryan Harland’s awesome tailgate. You are the wind beneath my wings. Seriously man, on behalf of everyone, thanks for doing that! Was great seeing Andrea and Erik, Sam and Kristin and Sam’s dad from the class of ’71, Aram, Rico, David and Sheen, Ron, Dan, Nick, Matt and on I could go.  Then getting in the game and seeing Dave Tien and his son, Emmett was awesome.  Saw my old college roommate Robb Dunn who is not Assistant AD at Navy.  Met his young family.  Been too long… but you get the idea.

Loved the Northwestern Fans who by and large were awesome. Just really nice people. Talked with some at half time and they were effusive about how beautiful Memorial and the campus were. Such gracious people.

Cal faked a field goal… and scored a TD as a result… it was all so new and confusing.  WE LOVED IT!

Our true freshman QB Jared Goff is a stud.

Our receivers are studs.

The crowd. FRICKING AWESOME turnout. 58K+ and it was LOUD. Great job by the students and micman.  And I think here I should mention one person.  I think a special call out should go to former Cal Head Coach Jeff Tedford. Though is tenure ended ignominiously, and it was time for it to end, last night was his true legacy. In 2002 in his first game, the team was coming off a 1-10 season. The “announced” crowd was 27K. Tonight in Sonny Dykes’ first game, the team coming off a 3-9 season, and 58K+ people were in Memorial. Jeff Tedford helped make Cal relevant in the Bay Area in a way it never has been. And for that he deserves a nod and a thank you.

I love what the future looks like.

So while I would have rather won, I’m not “unhappy.” Great things lie ahead for the California Golden Bears. A Saturday night in Memorial Stadium is one of life’s great pleasure.

GO BEARS!!!!!