I went to some essentially nameless bar for New Year's Eve, making my way there after some Czech with Scott Rolen's shoulders plied me with sliwowitz. It was, it should be noted, an anonymous sort of place. They served beer-flavored beer, had brick walls and a dance floor, and was full of people with hair gel smoking smuggled cigarettes. When the band took the stage, I was not not expecting much. When their first song was a cover of "No Woman No Cry" as misinterpreted by Blues Traveler, I was darkly convinced that this was the most fitting way to say goodbye to a 2013 full of bureaucratic hell, concern-trolling Joey Vottto, and Francisco Liriano's sliders.
Something happened, though, after their cover of 311's cover of The Cure's "Love Song." The opening little lick of That One Freakin' Kings of Leon Song came out over the speakers, but instead of being coy and mumbly, the band -- which wasn't very good, if I have not yet made that clear -- decided to cover up their lack of talent with a lot of drums and power chords. So naturally, my mind wandered out of the bar, out the window, across three seas, and into Great American.
Miguel Cairo was signed on January 27, 2010. Six months (to the day!) earlier, I published one of my first FanPosts, asking Red Reporter what they'd give up to see a Reds playoff team. Amusingly, a lot of the things I said I'd give up have come true, so hey. We've come a long way since then, and there are very few things true about me, you, Red Reporter, the world, in 2010 that are also true in 2014. Which is a polite way to say that Miguel Cairo brought me through a lot of shit.
And so did Red Reporter. It may be a bit of overselling to say that my insanely privileged, quite uncomplicated, life was down in the pits at one point, but when it was, Red Reporter was there to get me out of it. I mentioned Mike in a previous Reposter/AoF, but really after him, RR was (were?) the only people who ever told me that hey, you, guy on the internet, you're not so bad. You should stick around. And four years later, four years spent mostly trying to impersonate Brendanukkah and Charlie Scrabbles, I'm still allowed to stick around. It's pretty cool.
And you know what else was pretty cool? 2010.
2011 was a bit anticlimactic, but honestly wasn't all that bad. And 2012 was even more fun, all overall. The Miguel Cairo era was wonderful. That's what I was thinking about, when sloppy power chords mixed with sliwowitz-or-maybe-nail-polish-remover in my head as 2013 turned over. I was thinking about Miguel Cairo, and how I found him, he found me, and we (that is; RR as an entity as well as our sometimes-weird, sometimes-creepy relationship with the Reds themselves) in a hopeless place.
I was in a dark place in the summer of 2010. My last memory of the spring was being in a bar and calling some dude over just so I could put a cigarette out in his drink and stare at him. He ended up transferring schools, which is either a black mark against him or a point of how hilarious law school feuds are. If I didn't have the Reds to help lift me up that summer, I probably would've ended up skidding down even farther than that. People who are not as much of Reds fans might remember 2010 as the summer of Landon Donovan's goal, and I remember celebrating that by running out onto the afternoon Istanbul street and seeing a scene out of 28 Days Later, that nobody gave a fuck. If I had to do the same after Clinchmas -- instead of being able to hang out with you beautiful motherfuckers until Salat ul-Fajr -- I really think that it may have crumbled me. It's really impossible to talk about RR in anything other than underestimation. So, you know, thanks.
There's a story out there about a particularly beloved (believe it or not) sinner over at the SBN mothership who has been much more up-front about how SBN saved his life. And to reiterate, I've never actually been in any danger in all my life, outside of just feeling strong and perhaps ill-placed emotions. So much respect to him, SBN saved his life.
But much respect to SBN, fuck SBN. It's Red Reporter that saved me (though admittedly, I don't know from what). The community that we've had the pleasure of building here is much bigger than an SBN property and much bigger than SBN itself, and my responsibility is to you, and not them. If they dare VEB us, I will raise an uncommon hell to stop them.
We'll always have Miggy, like it or not. He ushered us in to this new, cocky, age.
The band is playing Foo Fighters' "There Goes My Hero" now, after taking a break. They came back on stage wearing bathrobes. It's only now that I realize how much the lead singer looks like Johnny Gomes, albeit with a Batman wrist tattoo. He also is very clearly looking up lyrics on his phone and reading them aloud while thumb-scrolling.
This band -- and to be fair, this country -- has a lot of beards. This country is fucked up, but by God we've got beards. This band is still playing "My Hero."
I don't think they know it, but my hero is you.
This post was written over the course of a night on a particularly exasperated friend's phone, and mooted over worth publishing for a few days since. Well, why not? It's the slow season, we can have weirdly-emotional pieces. Y'all are worth it.