Tag Archives: Kansas City

Top 5 Reasons I Know I’ve Become A KC Resident

There’s a spot, a couple benches next to the bus stop, outside Gomer’s on 39th and Broadway where these two old guys go every Saturday morning for as far back as I’ve ran by it, probably much longer.  They argue and bicker back and forth about the hottest issues, from Obamacare to Andy Reid’s offense. They may not have all the answers, but they think they do.

As often as I can (weather and motivation permitting) I try and run from my place downtown through Westport and back. Along my route is this corner. When my path crosses these gentlemen’s we say our greetings, maybe talk about the weather depending on how long the light lasts, then carry on.  It was back in August on a slightly breezy day with a longer-than-usual red light that I caught these guys talking about the upcoming Chiefs schedule and how they don’t know if Andy Reid is the right guy for the job. I stopped, took out one headphone and simply said “Honestly, I think the guy’s as good as any. Look what he did in Philly, he’s not done yet.”  The two guys stopped bickering with each other, looked at me, then to each other, and erupted in laughter. In what could quite possibly have been the first thing in history they ever agreed on, they looked at me and said “Son, you’ve not been here too long have you? Best get settled in, this season’s gonna be a lot longer than the rest of your run!”

Wise old men…

That aside, I’d like to think I’ve come a long way in the 10 short months I’ve been living in the heart of Kansas City. Sure, it’s only a couple hours from my hometown, but the differences in KC and the Ozarks stretch much further than that. There’s a lot around here you have to soak in, and I can’t sit here and type like I’ve mastered every single thing quite yet, but the first five make for a good place to start…

5: It’s Windy. All The Time. No, not Chicago windy (fortunately) but at any point in time on any day of the month, there’s at least a slight breeze. I have a theory that this is because we’re so close to Kansas…and Kansas doesn’t really have many trees…so the wind just sweeps through that flat state and hits you like a brick wall. It’s also why it takes forever for the Sun to go below the horizon line in the summer. Geesh, grow some trees Kansas.

4: For a Big City, You Seem To Know Everybody. It’s kinda crazy that in a city of more than 2 million people you see a LOT of familiar faces. I knew a few moving up here, it of course didn’t hurt to have some family here and a rather large Drury network to fall back on, but the more you’re out the more you see. The more you see, the more you see again. Seriously, there was a guy at Power & Light I ran into with my little brother and some friends that looked like Alan from The Hangover. Not three weeks went by before I saw that exact same bearded individual eating Sunday brunch at Tomfooleries. I give it a week before I bump into him at Hy-Vee.

3: The Border War Is Alive And Well. Each state’s respective college may have parted ways into separate conferences, but trust me when I say that has in no ways diminished this awkward interaction between the locals at each end of the bridge.  Working in the industry I do I get to interact with both sides of the City. Each think they have something over the other. Take it from the newcomer’s perspective, BOTH sides are awesome in their own right. Obviously I have some bias being from the great state of MO, but KS has a lot going for them as well, plus the girls over there are pretty cute…JUST, give me a little more time with that whole ‘Jayhawk’ thing…

2: It’s The Best of Both Worlds, Old AND New. It’s crazy that just about anywhere you can go, you can see how far back these city’s roots are but at the same time how far they’ve come. The history is SO rich, from the American Royal to the Nelson-Atkins to the Negro Leagues Hall of Fame to the Jazz Museum. yet at the same time, KC is one the hottest Tech hubs in the nation and has gone against the grain with the flow of the economy. The best part about the whole thing is that nobody here really takes that for granted, it’s truly awesome.

1: You Shake Your Head and Laugh Every Time Someone Says ‘BEST BBQ IN KANSAS CITY’. This statement is a bold faced lie! Anyone who says it hasn’t thought about this: there are TONS upon TONS of barbecue places in KC and no matter how amazing that piece of burnt ends you just demolished is, it’s almost a guarantee there is somewhere around this city that can do it better and there always will be. It’s really a blessing far more than it is a curse and definitely a good problem to have. Sure, there’s the Big Four (Joe’s, Bryant’s, Gates and Jack Stack) and each can hold their own, anybody who’s come to KC for the food can tell you that, BUT this place is called the BBQ Capital for a reason. What about R&J’s on 80th and Parallel? What about Smoking Guns in North KC? Smokehouse? LC’s?! Seriously, there’s even a guy that has a trailer on North 7 Highway in Blue Springs with burnt ends that can stand plate for plate with any of these places I just mentioned…and these are only a fraction of what this town has to offer. Don’t deny yourself the awesomeness of KC barbecue, it truly is the best in the world, but don’t EVER call one place the BEST. This is a town effort.

I’ve got a long way to go, this town is far more complex than five points. But I’m in no hurry. I’ll grab my Sporting scarf, put on my Chiefs hat and head out for a Z Man with a glass of Boulevard Pale Ale, never knowing what this town has to offer me next!

This last Saturday was a very nice day (kinda windy, go figure), so I decided to go for a run. Sure enough, those two were outside Gomer’s, talking up a storm. Today’s topic of heated debate: BBQ. Let’s just say I didn’t make this my Number 1 without reason…One was arguing about some new place that opened up just a few blocks from him, the other was just sitting and laughing, only stopping occasionally to say “yeah, but it don’t beat Gates”. I stopped, the light was red for a while, took out one ear bud, and said “come on, everybody knows there’s no such thing as the ‘best BBQ in KC’. They stopped, looked at me, looked at each other, then turned back to me and said. ‘Son, you’ve come a long way!’

Proud to be here.

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The Homeless Chronicles

I don’t mean to be misleading with the title of this post. Before we go any further I should clarify that I have a home, I just can’t get there right now. Due to some unfortunate circumstances that took place a few days ago I’ve been forced to play my hand at testing how strong the friendships I’ve made really are. In fact, that’s truly what this story is about: friendship, more so how blessed I am to have the friends that I do, both old and new (you like that?). That, and the unforeseen circumstances thrown in as well, make for a pretty decent story.

I should reiterate too that I moved to Kansas City for a reason. That reason being, among other things, I had outgrown my current situation and needed a place that could keep up with my constantly restless state of being. In the five short months I’ve been up here I can say this city has done that…a little too well. This could be credited to where I chose to live: The Power & Light District, located in downtown KC and the epicenter for almost anything entertainment related that comes across the Heartland. My mother found it hard to believe me when I said I’ve actually been to more concerts since I’ve been up here than almost my entire career in radio. Completely true, or at least close. Either way, the fun never stops, even when you’re ready to at 11:30pm when you have to work the next day. That in mind, let’s begin.

It was last Friday night and I was fresh off not only a work day that included assuring the KC metro that their much beloved and hyped new Boulevard beer ‘Pop Up Session IPA’ would be on the shelf for the weekend (Really an amazing drink, if you’ve not tried it yet I recommend it), but also a Billy Currington concert and Brian Davis PBR Big Sky after party the night before. I wasn’t looking to live it up necessarily that night, so when I found that my friends were of a similar mindset, we began to look for something ‘chill’* to do. I say ‘chill’* because when you live in the liveliest district in KC, ‘chill’* isn’t what most would consider ‘chill’. 

We set out to do some bowling at the Z Strike, figuring it wouldn’t be that packed since Bruno Mars and Ellie Goulding were performing at Sprint across the street, Corey Smith was at the Crossroads two blocks away (still kicking myself for not going), and Matt Nathanson was putting on a free show on the stage below the alley in a couple of hours. We were right it wasn’t that busy and the bowling was fun. It also helped that my college friend Andrew was working the bar and volunteered to be our server. Let me put it this way: if you’re ever jones’ing for some pizza and few frames, go see this guy. Just don’t feed him, then he won’t leave you alone.

*ALSO, note to my fellow Panther Alums: he does NOT honor the Drury Discount, which is a thing and shame on him for not knowing about it.

Afterwords we went out on the patio to catch the Nathanson show in full swing. Around the time he was winding down, so was my friend Steph, who had to be in St. Louis at 11am the next morning. She started to say her goodbyes, trying to get out of there before the Bruno Mars crowd started to flood in. I was fine with this until she reminded me that she left her things up in my loft, meaning I had to travel with her to get them. It took all of two seconds and half an evil smile to realize she had planned that so she didn’t have to walk alone. 

As we approach the loft complexes we start to see caution tape, then a crowd, then my lobby doors completely open with a bit of smoke escaping and the sound of a power hose going to town inside. I ask the nearest person what happened, this was the conversation:

Witness: “There was a fire”
Me: “Ok, I live here, sooooo”
Witness: “What floor?”
Me: “11th”
Witness: “Oh honey, you’re fine then! It was an electrical fire on the 2nd floor. Everything from the third down has some smoke damage, 2nd down has some water damage. The rest of the building smells, but ain’t a thing wrong.”
Me: “Awesome, can I go in?”
Witness: “Yeah, but the power’s out, you’re gonna have to take the stairs. And watch your step, it’s soaked!”

We took the 11 flights of stairs, which proved my insistence on doing so at least once a day to help train for this impending marathon I’ve insanely committed to wasn’t going to go unrewarded. I scaled each step with ease. Steph, on the other hand, did not. This presented a problem for her because she hates stairs, but also a problem for me because she had the only source of light in an otherwise pitch black stairwell. Once we reached the 11th floor (after a breathing break…Steph…) We stayed in the loft, illuminated perfectly thanks to the open windows welcoming the city lights, we stayed long enough to grab her things and determine it wasn’t a good idea for anyone to stay here especially with the power completely out and no determined cause for the fire. She said she would stay awake and be ready should I choose to come stay with her. This also meant I needed to go and get Ryan back at Power & Light, whom at this point was most certainly in no condition to drive.

I walked back down to P&L, now filling up with Bruno Mars buzz and the typical crowd (Imagine the Jersey Shore with everyone dancing to ‘Get Lucky’) Quite a fun scene. I go up on the Z Strike patio, and find Ryan with Andrew and some other college friends, ready to go. Not go as in leave, but the other go. Again, think Jersey Shore. Andrew, who agreed to return home to STL the next day and catch a ride with Steph the next morning at 8am in order to so, leaves for Johnny’s Tavern and the rest of the DU crowd. It’s important to note this, because it’s the moment I said “He’s not going to make it”. Ryan asks when I’m ready to leave, with a water in my hand and a defeated look on my face due to my current living situation, I say ‘whenever’. He agrees to finish his drink, pay his tab and depart. 

When he leaves for the bar, another figure approaches to my right. A new figure, and not a bad one. Guys, I’d say about an 8. Ladies, I’d say she has a decent ‘personality’. The conversation goes as follows:

8: “Good concert, right?”
Me: “Yeah, it wasn’t bad at all! Dude can still rock it”
8: “…You don’t seem like you’re having a good time”
Me: “Well, I just found out my apartment complex caught fire”
8: “OMG! Are you ok?”
Me: “…Yeah I’m clearly ok”
8: “Well, do you have a place to stay?”
Me (catching on): “…Yeah, I’ve got a place to crash for the night”
8: “Are you sure?”

Again, to put us all the same page, this is Power & Light, thus this conversation isn’t that uncommon. Tonight, I just wasn’t in the mood, no pun intended. I’m not one to dismiss what could potentially be an awesomely awkward moment though, so in what is perhaps my best Bond move to date I pull the following: I take a drink of my water, set it on the balcony, turn to her, tilt my head sideways and look directly into her eagerly flirtatious brown eyes and say “yeeeah…(shake head and smile) too easy”, then walk away. I don’t know how she reacted, because at that point I’m walking away like Wahlberg in ‘Shooter’.

I find Ryan at the bar and we depart for my loft just one last time, so I can go up and get the things I need for the night. At this point, I was extremely thankful for the encouraging comments on Facebook I was receiving after posting the situation. Between that, the texts and tweets, I knew I would always have a place to go. However, when I’m using my phone as a flashlight to get up my pitch black staircase and the result of all these text alerts is my battery dying, the situation (again no pun intended) can turn bleak quickly. I was fumbling up the dark stairwell, feeling the walls like it was braille for the placard that read ’11’. Finally doing so, I walked back down, treaded through the ankle deep water in the back of the building, got to my car, and for the second time that night, didn’t look back.

I had to work the next day, so I had plenty to distract me until 4pm, when I arrived back at the building to find to electrical maintenance trucks in the back, several generators going, and a Red Cross emergency vehicle double parked on Grand with several of my neighbors talking outside. I find the closest officer and ask what the situation is, to this response:

Officer: “It’s not looking too good”
Me: “I live here, can you elaborate further?”
Officer: “Oh yes, sorry. I don’t want to scare you, but they’re saying it could be up to 30 days.” 
Me: “(jaw drops) how is that possible?”
Officer: “I was the main frame or something that blew, it could result in a whole re-wiring.”
Me: “Can I go in?”
Officer: “Yes, but we have orders to shut the building down at 8pm. Get what you need for as many days as you can.”

I continue to make my way up the 11 flights, this time with glow sticks to light my path. I grab the things I need, in addition to the trash that I don’t want to smell up the loft, even though it certainly doesn’t hold a candle (I’m all puns tonight!) to the smell outside the room, and head to my car. I come back to help those with lots of things and/or struggling to master the stairs and stay as long as the police let me to help my neighbors. It was a good thing this happened on a Friday night, because that meant none of us were there at the time. Zero injuries, but a lot of frustration.

I’ve been in touch with some of my neighbors. Four days after the incident, we all seem to know about the same thing, which is nothing new. Could be seven days, could be more. What I could not be happier about though, is that my worries are thankfully minimized due to the core around here I call my friends. I realize my move 5 months ago was certainly categorized as a ‘risk’; I gave up the world in Springfield, with nothing but potential and a city of friends, to pursue something I would always regret if I didn’t. I’ve always opened my doors to those wishing to come in, not for karma or worse, a bank of favors to certainly cash in on down the road, but because that’s how I was raised. I can’t begin to state how fortunate I am to have surrounded myself with friends up here, both old and new, that are willing to do the exact same thing for me. Whether it’s talking Crayola colors with my cousin’s daughter while staying at they’re house, or re-watching The Office while talking about the college days at a friends house, not a beat is missed.

That’s why I don’t want any pity or “I’m so sorry”. I’m doing just fine, and honestly? I want this*. Not to say I wanted my building to burn, that statement would certainly raise some eyebrows and probably bring KC’s Finest to my door for a couple questions…whenever I have a door again that is. What I mean by that is this:

I didn’t move up to Kansas City to go through the routine. Go to work. Go home. Go out. Find someone. Make Friends. Go to work. Pray for a Promotion. Same. Old. Boring. Garbage. Not for me. 

I want a How I Met Your Mother story, the kind of story that can last 10+ seasons without anyone saying ‘GAH! Just get to the point!’ (which you may or may not be feeling, but since you’ve gotten this far voluntarily you’re just as much to blame). This story, like so many more before it, I hope to tell years from now to those that don’t have to pretend to care. 

This may not be the most convenient path, but the paths worth taking seldom are. I’m living, and I’m still loving every minute of it. That’s in so much part thanks to my friends, each and every one of you. You’ve stood by me through every random decision or ‘out of the blue’ move I’ve ever made, a long list I know.  I may currently and for the short term be in a position that could be classified as ‘homeless’, but as I stated in the very beginning. It’s because of you that I am anything but.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s past my temporary roommate’s bedtime and I must abide by the rules of this house. 

*Secretly counting down the days until I can move out.


Full Speed Ahead

There is a thirst that exists deep within. A constant sense that never seems to be desired. I look around and a see people, acquaintances, strangers…people that have that thirst, but have given up in finding that moment when the thirst is quenched. Whether it’s a false sense of satisfaction or the numbing feeling that happens when you admit defeat, I don’t want to associate myself with that crowd.

A while back (too long ago, I know I know…I need to blog more) I announced I’m switching direction. I’m moving away from the only area I’ve called home and stepping out of the comfort zone of the family industry.  I’m taking everything I’ve accomplished in that career field and leaving almost all of it behind. All the upside, all the potential, used as memories made and lessons learned in pursuit of a bigger dream.

I guess I should make this clear: I regret nothing. My years in media were some of the most amazing and maturing of my life. I’d done things most only get to dream of. This isn’t something that I take for granted, every opportunity seized was one I’ve gladly accepted and have been proud to. That being said, this opportunity was no different.

I was sick of always having a conversation with someone and that person telling me “man, you can do anything”. Couple that with the fact that since college I’ve always wanted to prove myself and earn success in a larger format, it was just the perfect storm for asking “then why am I not doing it?”

As I sit here in my new home nestled in the heart of downtown Kansas City, typing before a massive skyline and rain slightly tapping on the windows, I’m preparing for another day of learning at my new gig. I’ve shifted from media sales and production to alcoholic beverage sales and distribution. I’ve found there are quite a few differences, but the similarities are equally as present and help to gather a sense of confidence that I’m catching on quick. My managers have also assured me that this is the case, and the ladder may start moving quickly. My new manager loves me for my work ethic, saying the other day he’s excited to see what happens in the next couple of months, of course right before handing me a new Mexican craft he had been working on with plans for it to hit shelves next week.  From the experiences I’ve had and people I’ve met to the experiences I’m having and the people I’m meeting.  Yes, as I type, I couldn’t be happier.

That’s not to say I’ve satisfied this thirst that exists. Truth be told I hope I never do. As long as I’m thirsty you can bet the bank I’ll possess and drive that is unmatched, and determination that demands to reach the next level in life.  Every moment, every risk, every opportunity in life has led to this. My fuel is that same component that makes me thirsty.

I’ve had a few quotes weighing heavy on me as of late. Obviously, the Zuckerberg quote is still a big one. But recently I read a Facebook post from Kobe Bryant shortly after his injury: “If you ever see me in a fight with a bear, pray for the bear”. Truly speaks volumes to his determination and focus on getting to the next level.

You’re also going to notice some changes to this blog. It’s going to be slightly less niche and way more personal. I want this blog to emulate every emotion I’m feeling and every bit of knowledge and personality I’ve picked up along this journey through life. Hopefully a bit more consistent in posting as well…

I can’t thank my faith, family and friends enough for the support and love I’ve received in my life. It truly brings me to tears and I’m so excited that each of you have impacted me in the way that you have. I can only hope to return the favor in your own journey.

The résumé is growing: Landscaping artist, driving range manager, golf club mechanic, pharmacy technician, photo lab scientist, professional photographer, tour guide, social media manager and consultant, on-air talent, night club dj, award winning commercial artist, public address announcer, emcee, successful account executive, retail specialist. Most importantly, I’m not done yet.


Turning The Page

This week has been, to say the very least, a roller coaster.  The kind of emotional strain you tell yourself to prepare for, and do the very best to do so, but no matter how focused you are, it’s going to hit you like a brick wall when it comes.

It’s never easy to take something that’s on the up-and-up, and drop it to pursue something else. Yet at the same time there are dreams that we conjure up in our minds in which we make a promise to ourselves that we will pursue. It has long been my fear that I may slip so far into what I am doing that I may never make good on that promise and pursue that dream.

So effective last Thursday, I’ve given my two week’s notice to accept a position with Central States Beverage Company in Kansas City, MO. I’m 24. I’m single. It’s a position where nothing is holding me back. I’m unique in that money does not motivate me, I am instead fueled with a thirst for success and respect. For years I’ve felt the only way to get that which I desire is to see what I can do in a larger population. Kansas City has long been a haven for me. Sure, there’s tons of other towns and options, but the world comes to KC, so I must with it.

I admit though that this situation is a very bittersweet one. The last four years have been some of the most rewarding of my life. I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to work in every single facet of a radio station. From the sales end, to the production, to the programming to the social media, there wasn’t a thing in the schedule I didn’t enjoy doing. Perhaps what was most rewarding was growing into an on-air personality, having this beautiful area tune in, listen to me, be entertained, enjoy, relate to me, start to feel like they know me.  The relationship I’ve developed with my community is one I’ll forever cherish.  I’ve spent my entire life in media, and I’ll always have a passion for it, but in order to advance myself I must not be afraid to take risks.

They say in this crazy race of life that if you don’t chase what it is that you’re after, you can’t possibly expect to ever catch it. This decision is one that I’ve been fighting for a while and I want to thank each and every person that was there to provide comfort and advice along the way. I’m sad to leave what I’m doing, but look forward to what the future has in store.

I was once given the opportunity to listen to a genius speak. I learned a great deal from his short conversation, but perhaps one of the biggest takeaways was a simple challenge: “Always ask yourself, what decisions would you make if you weren’t afraid to make them.” That guy created Facebook. I plan on taking that advice and creating my own success story. Wish me luck, Kansas City here I come!