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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Moments That Defined a Decade: 2000, 2001, 2002

With the 2000s coming to a close, I thought it was only fitting that I do this. Yes, it's the moments that defined a decade for me. Some are on a more personal level while others are moments any person is familiar with. I'm going to shy away from doing a complete retrospective on the decade until December 31st. Doing this made me realize that while this decade might have been boring compared to others it still had plenty of amazing moments. The schedule for doing this feature is as follows (subject to change).

December 23: 2000, 2001, 2002
December 26: 2003, 2004, 2005
December 28: 2006, 2007
December 29: 2008, 2009

First Commentating Game
Date: May 17, 2000
Backstory of The Moment: It was the start of what would be my commentating career which spanned numerous sports (baseball, men's basketball, women's basketbal, football, and softball) from 2000 to 2004 (I believe). My career as a commentator really was the beginning of my career in film.
The Moment: I started my color commentating career with a game of softball between Peabody and Arlington. Papa (my grandfather) did the play by play. I remember asking before the game what I should call him. He told me, "Lou." I still laugh when I think of that. I think Peabody won the game. I think...
Looking Back at The Moment Now: Wasn't the best game I called or the most memorable. I only remembered this date due to having a vhs copy of the game. It's funny how nervous I was at the time, but it was the beginning of what became a decent career calling games. It helped I did it with Papa and they are some of the best memories I have with him. Still, I think I greatly improved from this game to some of my later ones in 2003 and 2004. I'm glad I still have the tape and it will be something I hold on to for a long time.

First Episode of Public Invasion
Date: December 7, 2000
Backstory of The Moment: At the end of 1999, beginning of 2000, I was really getting into tv/video. I just entered high school and I was getting involved with the cable access channel for sports games (see above moment). I was also getting involved in high school studio. Having a public access seemed like the logical first step. My friends and I actually started this process on March 20, 2000. Almost nine months later, we finally produced a first episode.
The Moment: Dave Bartlett, Drew Fitzherbert, Kenny McHugh, and I finally shot a pilot episode on Thanksgiving Eve 2000. We edited the show together and got ready to air the first episode. Believe it was a Thursday night at 9:00 p.m. 23 episodes, two newspaper articles, and two and a half years later, we put together one of the most successful high school public access shows in the history of Peabody.
Looking Back at The Moment Now: Like the above moment, this wasn't the best episode, but it was the beginning of something special. Also, like the above moment, I was nervous and the later episodes I got much more comfortable. It's funny to watch this one again. This show was the first creative venture of my own. It had its ups and downs, but I still consider it a success. We got some press (two newspaper articles) and I know people did watch it. Considering my age (15 for the first airing), I think it's something to hold my head up to and acknowledge what I did. We had some good episodes too. We interviewed two mayors and most importantly had fun. When we called it quits, I had no regrets. Drew quit after the 2nd episode and Kenny left towards the end, too. Unfortunately, stuff like that happens. We ended the show in September 2003 since Dave and I were heading to college and it was simply time to move on. I actually still have the episodes on SVHS. One of these days, I need to put them all on dvd.

Class President Speech
Date: May 30, 2001
Backstory of The Moment: The previous year I ran for Class Co-President. I made it to the finals (four candidates, two winners), but lost. I actually gave out a good speech, but it was too serious. I learned from my loss and regrouped for the junior year class co-presidency. I once again lobbied for a speech assembly, so I could try to win over the voters. I actually managed to top the ballot of the primaries this year with my bumper sticker campaign, but it was tight. I may have won first by less than 10 votes. I knew I needed to step up, I wrote the speech in a week or so. I rehearsed it endlessly and actually almost memorized it. I was prepared to give out the speech of a lifetime in front of roughly 500 people.
The Moment: On the day before my 16th birthday, I was the first of four candidates (eight candidates in the primaries) to give out a speech for Class So-President. It was really an unbelievable moment. The microphone even went out and I screamed my way through it. The speech did a great job combining humor and seriousness. I also delivered what would become my signature line and claim to fame in high school, "The Class of 2003 is a lot like spaghetti, all it needs is sauce." The place erupted and I raised my hands giving out the peace sign before leaving the podium. I did it. A day later we voted and the day after that I won in a landslide (by 100 votes according to the class advisor).
Looking Back at The Moment Now: This is a moment I hold very close to my heart. It's arguably my greatest accomplishment considering the circumstances. Plus it was a moment that happened due to my peers recognizing me. I extremely proud of it and that speech. I reread it recently and it's not amazing, but it worked for the audience. I actually put tons of Beatle references in the speech. I actually also briefly screwed up the final line. I said, "Let it be Mike Cersosimo," rather than "Let it be Mike Cersosimo as I speak words of wisdom.

My famous line was actually never intended to be that successful. It's actually about 3/4 from the end. It doesn't even really fit in the speech, but I put it in there from a suggestion of a friend. He gave me a pickup line, "Let me put some sauce on your spaghetti." I reworked it. The original intended slogan of the campaign was a slight variation of a John Lennon lyric, "There are no problems, only solutions." Thankfully, the spaghetti line is the most well known.

I was extremely nervous before, during, and after the speech. I think I was especially shocked after. I never anticipated the response. It spoiled me since the following year, the speech was nowhere near successful. A couple kids came up to me after the speech assembly was over and told me how it was the best speech ever. It was crazy. Add on top of this that I used my grandfather's old bumper stickers. Not only was I covered in the stickers, but I probably gave out 50 or so to other kids. They wore them too. I vividly remember overhearing someone that didn't know me say, "Who's this famous Cersosimo kid?" I was arguably the most popular kid in school that day.

This sounds pretentious, but I call my win that year "A Perfect Win" (came up with this term shortly after I won). It's the grand slam of best campaign, best speech, win the primaries, and win the general election. The class presidency itself didn't live up to expectations, but it's okay. I was reelected the following year and it looked good on my college resume. It's funny too since whenever I am back in Peabody and see someone I graduated with there's a good chance they still bring it up. The quote is almost always butchered, but I don't care. It's really cool to hear people still talk about that. It happened eight years ago. Honestly, if I had to pick the quintessential moment of this decade this would be it. It defined me really in many other things I did. I went up against impossible odds. I flourished in the big time. I shocked the world (or at least my graduating class).

The Smell of Marijuana
Date: June 11, 2001
Backstory of The Moment: I went to my second concert ever (I literally saw U2 three days earlier in the same venue, the TD Banknorth Garden). I was seeing a guitar god in Eric Clapton and arguably more importantly smelled something very different.
The Moment: Not sure what song it was during, but I just remember the smell of marijuana. It definitely didn't smell like cigarettes or cigars. I was 16 during this moment and I never smoked weed before (I actually didn't smoke it until a few years later).
Looking Back at The Moment Now: I just remember asking my father how he knew it was marijuana. He replied, "You just know." I just think this is a funny story about my first memory of marijuana (don't remember much from health class). I briefly mentioned it above, but I didn't actually try it until I was 20 years old. I'm a late bloomer. This was actually a really good concert. Much better than when I saw Clapton in 2007. He played a lot of hits and even Billy Preston was in his support band.

September 11th Attacks
Date: September 11, 2001
Backstory of The Moment: It was another normal day. I went to school. I was in 3rd period AP European History with Mr. Andruskiewicz. Then, we heard the news.
The Moment: The teacher next door told us that planes crashed into the Twin Towers. Mr. A ignored it. Minutes later, the teacher came back and said they hit the pentagons. Mr. A is legitimately concerned. The whole class goes next door and watches coverage of the attacks. School stays in session the rest of the day. Though, little work is done as everyone is shocked. When I got home I just watched the news nonstop.
Looking Back at The Moment Now: 9/11 was the "where were you moment" of the last 20 years. It defined the decade and the presidency of George W. Bush. I will probably get criticism for this, but I have mixed feelings about 9/11. In one sense, it's a horrible day. All the people that died from those attacks is extremely unfortunate. It's sad to think of all the lives lost. It was also very scary to think that something like that could happen. I've flown numerous times since the attacks and part of me always thinks for a split second maybe my plane could get hijacked. I think it's just natural. I can't even imagine what it was like on those planes. Knowing that you're going to die.

Another part of me was just sickened by the phoniness of American patriotism. Everyone had flags waving nonstop after 9/11. People wore clothes with flags. Cars had patriotic bumper stickers and even flags. Radios played patriotic music. The government passed the Patriot Act. Hell even the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl months later. I know I shouldn't be so naive, but it baffles me since it took a tragedy like 9/11 to make everyone patriotic. It's pathetic, really. I remember a Vietnam vet I met shortly after 9/11 telling a group of us at school how every year he was the only person on his street that put out a for veterans day. After 9/11, everyone on his street got a flag and he was the last person to put his out. He got criticized for it. He then told our class, "Where the hell was all this patriotism before?" I never forgot that line and this was one of the main reasons I never wore any flag apparel. I'm not saying you can't love your country, but love it in moderation. To me, It came off the wrong way after 9/11 and lost its meaning.

I sometimes forget about the twin towers. I've been to NYC twice (my only two times) and don't miss them from the skyline. I honestly forget about life before 9/11. It's such a huge moment and for everyone it means something different. I'm just glad the radios stopped playing that Lee Greenwood song.

George Harrison Dies
Date: November 29, 2001
Backstory of The Moment: John Lennon died in 1980, so only three members of the greatest band ever, The Beatles, were still alive. George Harrison was battling cancer. He also had a couple operations. By late 2001, he couldn't last any longer.
The Moment: George Harrison died at the age of 58 from cancer. Only two Beatles remained alive, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. When I got home I think my Mom told me, which prompted me to turn on the tv. The news was confirmed that the Quiet Beatle was gone as most major news stations had coverage on his life.
Looking Back at The Moment Now: I lost my first Beatle. I missed John (by roughly five years), so losing George was kind of weird. I actually had no idea he was that sick. I was shocked. I was a big Beatles fan then, but nowhere near as big as I am now. I was young and the internet was young, so I wasn't that familiar with any Beatle news sites to update me on his health.

I didn't know what to say. Remember George was only 58 years old. It was sad. Not as sad as John, but definitely sad. Made me really appreciate The Beatles even more. I must have watched countless retrospects on his life. It made me realize how special him and The Beatles were and how it's a sad day when you lose someone that talented. My Dad was even sad. He was a man of few words that day.

I think George like John has got even bigger in death. In one way it's sad, but also a testament to him that people still care about him after he's gone. I know I appreciate his music even more and more. Here Comes The Sun, Something, Taxman, and While My Guitar Gently Weeps are amazing songs. All Things Must Pass is an amazing solo album. It's arguably the best Beatle solo album. I'm serious, listen to it. I still prefer Lennon's Plastic Ono Band, but All Things is right up there. It's one of the best.

Like John, I wish George lived a little longer. He didn't get to see Cirque Du Soleil's Love, the remasters, or Beatles Rock Band. I hope he would have been proud that his band was still the biggest in the world.

I got to meet George's son, Dhani at a record signing in early 2009. Looks and sounds so much like George. He's talented too, so I hope he continues to make music.

Blaze Dies
Date: January 4, 2002
Backstory of The Moment: My family got Blaze in September 1994 (she was born on July 7, 1994). She was a purebred beagle that I grew up with really. In the fall of 2001, she was beginning to throw up. We later found out she had kidney disease. She was dying. On Christmas she was fine, but days later she declined. Shortly after the new year, we had to put her to sleep.
The Moment: Putting your dog to sleep is one of the hardest things to do. It was impossible to save Blaze, so we decided to put her to sleep. My Mom and I stayed in the room as she was put down. She was only 7 1/2 years old.
Looking Back at The Moment Now: I call this moment the unofficial death of my childhood. I was 16 at the time. It was real hard to do. Still hard even thinking about it. That dog was a pain at times, but I loved her. I hate to say this, but losing Blaze hurt more than losing my grandmother months later.

I decided to name my production company after her. The night before she died, I told her this and shared one final moment with her alone while everyone was asleep. I actually still have a dead flower she sniffed on the last walk I ever took with her in late 2001. It is in my room. I also took her dog collar right before she died. It is also safely in my room back in Massachusetts.

My family had Blaze cremated and her ashes are located in the living room. She's still with us and I haven't forgot her. I just wish she lived longer. She was relatively young when she died.

Patriots Win Super Bowl XXXVI
Date: February 3, 2002
Backstory of The Moment: For years the Patriots were the laughing stock of the NFL. In 1996, they managed to go to the Super Bowl. They lost that game and for the next four years they were a good team, but not great. In 2000, they hired Bill Belichick and also drafted Tom Brady from Michigan in the sixth round with the 199th overall pick.

Drew Bledsoe started the year as the starter. In week two he was knocked out by the Jets with internal bleeding. Tom Brady stepped in that season. He led the Pats to an 11-5 record and into the playoffs. He survived the Snow Bowl and beat (with the help of Bledsoe) the heavily favored Steelers to go to the Super Bowl.

The Pats would play the Rams, who were two touchdown favorites. The Rams that season were setting offensive records and known as "The Greatest Show on Turf". They had MVPs Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk on the team and won Super Bowl XXXIV.
The Moment: The Patriots played an incredible game. They were up 17-3 late in the game. A holding penalty stopped them from taking a 24-3, which would have put the game away for good. The Rams managed to tie the game with less than two minutes remaining. The score was 17-17. Against John Madden's advice, Tom Brady led the team down the field to set up a field goal attempt. With no time remaining, Adam Vinatieri hit a 48 yard field goal to give the Patriots a 20-17 win. This would be regarded as one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history.
Looking Back at The Moment Now: Honestly, I think this championship is the most important of the decade. Yes, even bigger than the 2004 Red Sox. I just think this team set the tone for the decade and gave hope to Boston sports again. It was our first championship since 1986. It brought some optimism to a usually pessimistic sports town. The '90s were a horrible decade for Boston sports. This started one of the most successful stretches of time in Boston sports.

I will never forget my excitement over them winning. I literally jumped in the air as the field goal was good. I didn't know what else to do. I never watched my sports team win a championship. I still don't know how the Pats won this game. We had no business winning it. They just played an incredible game and beat the Rams up. Also, their defense came up huge and shut down the Rams for the majority of the game. Unfortunately, the Pats felt the opposite end of this in 2008, but let's not talk about that yet. This was a positive experience.

Some people forget about that Willie McGinest penalty that cost the Pats a touchdown. If that hold was not called, then the Pats would have went up 24-3. In retrospect it's fun that they won in the final seconds, but I was nervous.

At that time, Tom Brady was still a "lucky" QB and it's amazing to watch that final drive. It's something I won't forget. The guts Brady showed is something that can't be underestimated. He became a legend that night and his shock at the end of the game echoed all of New England. No one could literally believe it. The Patriots won the Super Bowl. What?!?

The huge upset obviously was not a fluke. At the time I thought it was. I would have never expected them to win two more and almost win a third. I even was not convinced Brady was the real deal. At the end of the decade, I can confidently he is.

Nana Dies
Date: April 14, 2002
Backstory of The Moment: My paternal grandmother was a unofficially diagnosed with cancer (never went to the enough doctors to have it officially diagnosed) in probably late 2001 (don't exactly remember). She was doing okay for a while, but it was only a matter of time. We all knew it was coming and by April the end was near. I think I saw her three days before she died.
The Moment: Nana died on a Sunday. I heard the news when I came home from CVS on Sunday night. My Dad, Mom, and Lori were sitting in the family room. Nana was 72.
Looking Back at The Moment Now: I lost my second grandparent. It was seven years after Grandma, so I was older and more mature. It wasn't a shock when Nana died. It was just a question of when it would happen. The only good thing about this death was everyone got to say goodbye and whatnot. Though, it was sad to see her actually die.

Nana stayed at my Aunt Jeanne's house. For a while, Nana was okay, but before you knew it she couldn't walk. Then, her mind started to go. I can remember her speaking gibberish towards the end and being bedridden. The last conversation I actually remember with her and me was when we started about candlepin bowling. That was probably a couple weeks before she died.

I never really got that close with Nana. To be honest, she was a cold woman at times. She was also an alcoholic and chain smoker. She wasn't a healthy woman and at times she could be mean (see alcoholism). I know my Dad and two Aunts didn't have the best childhood because of her alcoholism. She divorced my paternal grandfather (Papa) in the 70s, so she was a divorcee for a good portion of her life.

I actually delivered the eulogy (my first one) for her funeral. I actually didn't prepare a speech or anything. I was going to read a passage, but the Priest didn't give me one, so I read the back of those prayer cards they give you when you attend a wake. I also called her a "wonderful mother and grandmother". Okay, I lied a little, but in the end she was my grandmother. I never loved her as much as my other three grandparents, but I still loved her.

Bowling Travel League Win
Date: May 19, 2002
Backstory of The Moment: My bowling buddies (Chris, Drew, and Matt) and I represented the Metro Bowl for a youth traveling league. The basic concept of the league was a bunch of teams from different alleys would compete each other at a different venue every month. In May, the Metro Bowl hosted the event.
The Moment: After being told by one of the league organizers that we couldn't touch the trophy, we competed for the youth traveling league monthly championship. I bowled my best (now second best) game of my career. After bowling an average 88 first string, I went off for an 128 and 129 in the second and third string.
Looking Back at The Moment Now: I still can remember the woman telling us that we couldn't touch the trophy. She even took a cleaning spray and sprayed the trophy after we got close to it. This is my proudest moment as a bowler. Chris, Drew, Matt, and I defended our home court and won it. This was the only time we did. We came close a few times, but this was the only time we got to hold the trophy.

It was an odd game of bowling for me. I had a mediocre first string, then was on a mission. I do remember going in the bathroom and telling myself to get it together, but I also do that a lot when I'm bowling. You wouldn't believe it, but I get very emotional and pumped up when I bowl. I've been in the zone twice during my bowling career (you'll hear about the other time in 2003) and I can't really explain it. I was just rolling a real good and accurate ball. I hit my spots and gave myself plenty of mark (strike or spare) opportunities. I was also bowling anchor (the last and usually best bowler) and I came through. I finished with a 345, which was my career high at the time.

This was arguably the last hurrah for the four of us as a team. Drew barely bowled with us after that, so it's fun to think we all got to share this moment. It's especially special for me since I was the main reason we won. I want to think the other guys bowled good to great games too, but I don't remember. I do know my teammates let me accept the trophy. Thinking about the moment when I lifted it up over my head still makes me smile.

First Live High School TV Broadcast
Date: September 11, 2002
Backstory of The Moment: It was the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Peabody High just got new televisions in every classroom. Mr. Melville was in his second year as the teacher and was about to embark on a high school news program. Before that got off the ground, we were asked to broadcast a message from the principal with a few students.
The Moment: I was actually in 1st period and my teacher took us outside to talk about 9/11. When I was returning from outside, I bumped into Mr. Melville and another student, Ryan. They asked if I wanted to help with the broadcast. I said yes and managed to get out of my class at the time to direct the broadcast. Principal Patuleia gave an address to students about 9/11 and led a panel discussion with other student leaders. It was the first live broadcast in the history of Peabody High School.
Looking Back at The Moment Now: I was very close to not being part of this moment. I don't know if I would have ever directed this if it wasn't for pure luck to bump into Mr. Melville. I wasn't extremely close to Mr. Melville at the time, so I wasn't hanging out in tv studio much. I'm glad I got the chance to direct the broadcast. It was a little different directing something live. It was basic, but I was still nervous. Didn't want to screw up in front of the whole school.

That one broadcast really started my one year of running the TV studio. I was the top dog there. Mr. Melville was the first in command and if he wasn't there, then I made the call. The TV program at PVMHS was mediocre at best my first two years. Then Mr. Melville came and really got me excited again about working in tv/vidoe/film. From this broadcast to my final one in June 2003, I had a lot of fun directing countless morning news broadcasts. I actually haven't directed a TV broadcast since I left PVMHS.

I have no idea what they are doing at the studio now. I know Mr. Melville is sadly gone. I think he left after the 2004-2005 school year. If he was still there, then I probably would still visit PVMHS and keep up to date with the TV studio. I hope that the foundation I laid in 2002-2003 has been built upon and made into a nice, big house. It's been seven years since this first broadcast, so I expect something great to be going on in the tv studio today.

Paul McCartney I
Date: October 1, 2002
Backstory of The Moment: I was a big Beatles' fan for a good four to five years now. After a nine year touring hiatus, Paul McCartney announced he was touring to support his new album, Driving Rain. He first toured in the spring of 2002, but my Dad couldn't get tickets. Paul later announced an extension of the Driving USA tour now called Back in the US tour. Dad managed to get tickets this time.
The Moment: After years of being a Beatles' fan, I got my first chance to see Sir Paul McCartney. It was at the Fleet Center (now TD Banknorth Garden). Dad and I sat in the very last row of the balcony. Paul played his standard 2 1/2 to 3 hour show with multiple encores. He blew the place down.
Looking Back at The Moment Now: I actually cried at the very beginning when Paul came out. It was just unbelievable to hear him singing in person. Here I was in the same building as a Beatle. It was mindblowing. My Dad, who saw Paul in '93, also looked like he choked up.

Thinking about the last row tickets, I can't help to think about how my Dad would never buy tickets online back then. Maybe it wasn't as popular. He would always go to a box office and wait in line rather than buy online. It's still funny to think that we sat in the very last row. We kept walking and walking up the balcony before we saw a cement wall. I don't remember the view being horrible, but it was difficult at times to see the stage. Luckily most people sit during these concerts, so it makes it a little easier to see.

The concert itself was great. This was the beginning of the supporting band that Paul has played with for the majority of this decade and they had it even back then. He played all the classics and really put on a show. I was amazed at the Hey Jude sing-along and how he came out for multiple encores. I only rank this as my third out of four Paul shows due to seeing even more amazing shows. It could be technically two, but as of right now, I consider Amoeba number one and Fenway number two. Regardless, I'm glad I got to spend this moment with my Dad.

1 comment:

Ivy said...

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