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Will China's PLAN survive contact with the enemy?

The best laid PLANs of mice and men often go awry.

Welcome back to another effortpost by me generally on the developing arms race in East Asia, this time covering the People's Liberation Army Navy, hereafter referred to as the "PLAN", and its massive growth... and... mostly, well, its massive growth. What that means is mostly covered in other posts about how other countries are responding to it. The why is a bit difficult because, well, China is not well known for open debate, or open anything, really, which will turn up repeatedly.

  1. What you [might] need to know about South Korea's ludicrous arms buildup
  2. We shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches.... uh, what do we do after that again?: The Perilous Defensive Position of Taiwan
  3. "You've hit another cargo ship? The Problems with the US Navy: Not all of them begin with "Seven" and end with "th Fleet"."
  4. Will China's PLAN survive contact with the enemy?
  5. Biden's New START and modern nuclear war
  6. First And Last Stand Of The Tin Can Navies [ASEAN + Australia and the smaller adversaries China may contend with]
  7. Boned: Problems in the US Air [and space!] Force
  8. --Unnamed-- effortpost on Japanese military matters, mostly about how weird the JSDF status is
  9. --Unnamed--effortpost on Indian military matters, and why they can't focus on China or buy anything that works
  10. --Unnamed--effortpost on the rest of the PLA, mostly the air force though
  11. --Unnamed--effortpost on the rest of the US Armed Forces, mostly talking about how the marines are changing and the Army's new love affair with INF-busting weapons
  12. Conclusion?

Glossary:
PLA = People's Liberation Army = the armed forces of the People's Republic of China, or China
PLAN = People's Liberation Army Navy = the naval forces of the PLA
PLANAF = People's Liberation Army Navy Air Force = the air force of the navy of the PLA
Ashm = Anti-ship missile, cruise missile unless specifically described as otherwise--there's only one anti-ship ballistic missile in existence and its efficacy and whether or not it functions is questionable
CIWS = close-in weapons system, like the Phalanx gun or Goalkeeper
VLS = vertical launch system for missiles
AEGIS = Aegis Combat System if described specifically in that context, a US naval warfare system, but we'll usually be talking about "Chinese AEGIS", which is a nomiker used by the Chinese media in particular comparing the Type 346 radar to the AN-SPY family, with which it shares numerous technical characteristics--but how comparable the "Chinese AEGIS" system is to what the US uses is a complete unknown.
SAM = Surface-to-air missile, in this case usually a S-300 derivative
First Island Chain = The islands, stretching from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Japan, which keep China inside its littoral seas much as the GIUK [Greenland-Iceland-UK] gap has kept various continental powers out of the Atlantic.


Some PLAN equipment you might see described--the nomenclature is confusing and a relic of the cultural revolution, and as a result China now has more Types than the British.
Type 003 = China's new conventionally powered supercarriers, currently under construction
Type 002 = China's first truly "operational" carrier
Type 001 = China's first carrier, built on a Soviet hull purchased from Ukraine ostensibly to make a floating casino
Type 055 = Guided-missile cruiser, though generally called a destroyer it's probably more descriptively labeled a cruiser
Type 052D = Guided-missile destroyer using "Chinese AEGIS"
Type 052/051B/052B/052C = the gradual progression of evolving Chinese naval tech, largely built as practice/demo ships like the Type 001. Some of the earlier ones are steam-powered but by the Type 052C you have something almost as advanced as the Type 052D, albeit with turbine problems
Type 054A = the standard modern frigate of the PLAN
Type 053[anything] = old PLAN frigates
Type 096 = China's newest SSBN class, under construction
Type 094 = China's first functional SSBN class, very noisy
Type 092 = China's first "SSBN", believed to have never left port with an actual nuke on board
Type 095 = China's newest SSN class, under construction
Type 093 = China's current SSN class, noisy
Type 091 = China's first SSN class, dumb dumb dumb and is at a 1950s tech level
Type 039[A] = China's new SSK class
Kilo = China's older SSK class, imported from Russia
Sovremenny = China's first capable anti-air destroyers, imported from Russia


1. The Last Time A Rising Navy Challenged A Dominant Foe

The last time we've seen something like this was in the late 19th century. After the First World War shipbuilding was restricted by the landmark Washington Naval Treaty, one of the first great arms control treaties, and during the Cold War the Soviet Union never really had any hopes of surpassing American naval power. China, however, seems intent on replacing the US as the world's dominant naval power, or at least building a force that can stop the US Navy, even combined with the forces of Japan and other regional allies.

The nations in question, of course, in the last naval arms race, were the United Kingdom and a newly-unified Germany. Germany never reached the level of the UK, but seriously threatened it. Previously the UK had maintained a policy of having more ships than the next two largest fleets combined, but this was no longer possible, and the UK legitimately was fearful for its naval supremacy. It didn't last too long in the end--under a decade--and a resumption was foiled by first a world war and then the Washington Naval Treaty. The impact of the arms race, though, was massive. It set Germany and the UK at odds with each other, it resulted in a general buildup of warships pretty much everywhere [South America was, believe it or not, one of the biggest offenders there], established Germany for a time as the world's second naval power, having eclipsed both France and Russia and turning a small coastal defense navy into something that was able to defeat the Royal Navy itself, though never comprehensively enough to change the course of the first world war.

China dwells in a much different situation than Germany did at the turn of the last century, so we can only extend the analogy so far--substituting in Japan for the UK, India for Russia, and so on is possible but not, in my view, educational. However, we can see many of the same elements playing in here. China seems intent on replacing the US as a dominant power, or at least as regional hegemon--the ancient tributary system seems to lie fairly heavily on Chinese minds--and in order to do that, it must be able to have some degree of power projection and the capability to deny the US Navy access to areas within the first island chain. It remains to be seen, however, how successful that quest will be. Much as with the dreadnought battleships, I wouldn't be surprised if we never actually do find out if most of the shiny naval toys people have built actually work. But their mere existence shows the mutual hostility developing in the region and demonstrates the size of the Chinese threat.

Another lesson learned here is that China, like Germany, may not develop a naval force capable of defeating the US comprehensively, but only partially, and that one of the powers--in this case, China--might be pressured to strike first before the US Navy can close the gap. That ~2030 gap I talked about in my last post is, I think, an especially vulnerable point, because China may look at a degraded, but rejuvenating US Navy, then at their own capable forces, and decide to strike then in Taiwan and the South China Sea, only to back down when the US Navy again eclipses them. Whether or not that will happen, we will see--but I find it a very dangerous and perhaps likely possibility.

2. What the PLAN looked like 20 years ago

The PLAN has undergone an absolutely stunning evolution in the past two decades. In the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis the US could intimidate China with a pair of aircraft carrier strike groups and China could do pretty much nothing about it. Now the US is afraid of sending anything more than a destroyer through the strait.

Twenty years ago, the PLAN was a bit of a joke. Even Taiwan figured it could hold the seas against the PLAN. It consisted of a few tens of outdated coastal-defense frigates, some Soviet-era diesel-electric subs, and a large number of unsophisticated missile craft. The pride of the Chinese fleet were a handful of destroyers assembled using cobbled-together Western technology--copied French missiles, American gas turbines, the lot. According to American accounts at the time, the instructions for the equipment hadn't even been translated. The most advanced ship in the fleet used steampower. There were nuclear submarines, but of 1950s quality. Of particular note was the fact that the Chinese fleet had no area air defense capabilities--their premier surface-to-air-missile was an unlicensed knockoff of the French Crotale, and couldn't shoot anything outside of visual range, at high altitudes, or really doing anything more sophisticated than trying to kill their ships with low-altitude dumb bombing runs.

In the past twenty years, however, the PLAN has, much like the German Navy towards the end of the 19th century, gone from an afterthought to the world's second most powerful force. It began, as modern China's military capabilities almost all began, with the looting of the former Soviet Union for naval technology. While Soviet naval tech was generally lacking, it was much better than anything else China could get its hands on after the arms embargo placed on it in the 1990s by the US and Europe in response to Tienanmen and the end of the Cold War. China bought Soviet diesel submarines, Soviet air-defense destroyers, and Soviet aircraft carriers, which it promptly left lying around [and turned one of them into a theme park]. This was combined with copies of various pieces of Western, mostly European, technology for everything from sonars to surface-to-air missiles. China then began developing its first modern indigenous surface combatants, the Type 052C, but there were still problems. The engines were Ukrainian and had reliability trouble, the gun jammed, there was no VLS.

It is really in the last ten years that things have begun to move extremely quickly, and even only in the latter portion of the decade. In 2012 the Type 001 Liaoning entered service, and although it remains more of a training ship than an operational vessel, and is held back by a poor carrier aircraft, the mere fact that China "built" a carrier was a surprise to many. In 2014 the first Type 052D destroyer came online. It had learned the lessons from the Type 052C, and in just the last six years at least ten have entered service, with a class size of about 23 expected. This rapid expansion is what has frightened competing navies the most--in a little over a decade, the PLAN is constructing more destroyers than the British, French, and Australian navies have in service combined. It is also building the Type 055, which has generally been called a "destroyer" despite being more aptly described as a cruiser in line with the Ticonderoga-class. China has also built 30 modern frigates in the past decade, which has also swelled its numbers, along with numerous smaller corvettes, submarines, and so on.

This is why the PLAN has become such an object of concern. While it cannot challenge the US Navy yet, at least outside its littoral zones, the decline of the USN and rapid expansion of the PLAN means that it is a serious threat. And the speed at which it has developed has made many fearful. As recently as 2010, the idea of China operating an aircraft carrier or modern destroyers seemed distant, possibly preposterous. Now China speaks openly of having a six-carrier fleet in the 2030s, although, as with many of China's plans to operate full US-replicated tech and doctrine, these may have somewhat caved to realism. China is mighty, but it has already done the easy part--the last part is much harder, in economics and in military matters. Building the software, the institutional knowledge, the hardware to compete with the US Navy will prove difficult.

3. What the PLAN looks like now--submarines

Submarines are one of the PLAN's weak spots, particularly nuclear submarines. China is, however, making some fairly rapid advances in this area.

Their nuclear submarine program has been considered a bit of a joke for some time. In the late 1950s when all the cool kids great powers were getting nuclear submarines, China decided [or at least Mao did] that China needed nuclear submarines too. About 16 years later, the product of this effort finally emerged as the Type 091 submarine. Based on 1950s technology, with poor radiation shielding and basically nothing done in the name of noise reduction, and not even a teardrop hull, the Type 091 was probably more of a threat to the sailors who were on it than anyone else, except maybe the two Tench-class submarines that Taiwan operates, which use 1940s technology and are the world's longest-serving submarines, though they're mostly used for training nowadays. Even then, my money would be on the Tench despite the upgrades the PLAN has made to the Type 091. There's only so much you can do to put lipstick on a pig.

China also produced an SSBN, the Type 092, which was probably the only submarine more useless than the Type 091. About the only useful thing it did for the PLAN was that it served as a test platform for SLBM launches. Reports suggest that the Type 092 is the noisiest SSBN ever made, and is thought to have only ever undertaken a single patrol. It stayed at port for so long that it was thought to have sunk in an accident. And the experience turned the PLAN off from building SSBNs for over twenty years, until the Type 094 came online in 2007.

More recent submarines are growing in capability, though. The Type 094 is not the noisiest SSBN ever made, and may not even be the noisiest in current service--that honor going to the Delta III operated by the Russian Navy, which uses 1970s technology, and, which, according to the US Office of Naval Intelligence, is about as noisy as the Type 094. The Type 093 is also moderately capable--it actually functions and can fire anti-ship missiles. However, the Type 093 is still considered only comparable to the Soviet Victor III class, again using 1970s technology. Future submarines have not yet been seen, but expectations are that China will make another step forward to late 1980s or early 1990s tech levels, producing something on par with the Los Angeles or Akula for the first time.

China also operates a fairly capable fleet of coastal diesel-electric submarines. While some are quite old--the Type 035--most are pretty average for the global submarine force, a mix of Kilos and domestic AIP designs. The large number of boats in operation and their anti-ship missile capability means that these should be considered a real threat, at least in the littoral waters near to China, but they aren't decisive by any means, especially since China is facing off against such threats as Japan's Soryu class, probably the most advanced diesel-electric sub in existence.

In conclusion, the PLAN is still pretty weak on the submarine front--weaker here than on anything but its carrier force, but its capabilities are advancing rapidly and should not be underestimated.

4. What the PLAN looks like now--surface combatants

The surface fleet is definitely the most impressive and capable portion of the PLAN, no questions about it. China once had a fleet consisting mostly of coastal frigates and missile boats. As recently as 2000, its fleet had no real area-air-defense destroyers, and no SAMs that could operate outside visual range. Now, though, the PLAN operates tens of advanced guided-missile destroyers, advanced frigates, and still retains a large number of small, stealthy missile boats.

The major focus of Chinese warships appears to be on anti-air, with anti-surface being a somewhat secondary concern for all but the smallest vessels. This makes sense when you realize that the primary focus is, at least for the moment, on using land-based aircraft to strike against hostile fleet formations using long-range anti-ship missiles, in a very Soviet sort of way--"Backfire raids" using long-range land-based aircraft with anti-ship missiles were one of the US Navy's major concerns during the Cold War, and the very reason for the F-14's existence along with the AIM-54 Phoenix it carried. However, China has been developing anti-surface capabilities as well using ashms and land-attack cruise missiles [generally the same thing, actually]. Since China has finally developed a VLS system that allows it to use the same launcher for multiple missiles, its most recent ships have become more versatile in that role.

How effective these ships are at that task is, however, a relatively open question. Their radars at least seem to quite sophisticated, using flat-panel AESA, and have been dubbed "Chinese AEGIS" by the highly reliable Chinese domestic media. The basic platform their surface-to-air missiles are based on also seems to be fairly capable--the HQ-9 is an S-300 derivative, a respectable SAM system though, again, how capable it is against opponents in an active electronic warfare environment is questionable, and it has basically no capabilities against stealth aircraft like the F-35 as far as anyone knows. The efficacy of their CIWS, again, is open to question. Really this is true of everything about the modern PLAN, and PLA in general. The PLA is secretive, has not exported most of its hardware, and has developed largely independently of foreign militaries, though it is definitely influenced by them. Now that the PLAN has moved away from simply copying foreign hardware and patching it together, its capabilities are much harder to discern.

However, they should be taken as a very real threat, and not written off. My guess would be that their warships are about as capable as most of their non-American counterparts, save those equipped with AEGIS, but that's all my guess is---a guess.

5. What the PLAN looks like now--carriers

The PLAN currently has two carriers in service, and two more known to be under construction, and most suspect that it will build several more. However, at the moment, the PLAN's carrier force is largely a paper tiger, designed around training. The first carrier, the Type 001, basically was a "how do you build a carrier" kit bought from Russia, possibly by accident--the "fully functional" Minsk ended up as a theme park, believe it or not. The hull was purchased from Ukraine and then completed in China years later. It is also believed that the PLAN may have learned some things about aircraft carriers from the HMAS Melbourne, which was sold to a Chinese firm for scrapping--rumor has it the PLAN had no clue this had happened and then had a field day looking at all the stuff that hadn't been taken out. This was back in the old days when nobody could imagine that China would have an aircraft carrier. The Type 002, however, is built from scratch, but isn't particularly capable especially as it's a ski-jump carrier, leaving the Type 003 the first carrier which will prove actually useful.

The main thing holding China's carrier fleet back, though, is a lack of a suitable aircraft. Originally China was considering purchasing Su-33s from Russia, hardly a good carrier-based aircraft but functional, but after Russia discovered that China had been mucking about building a Su-27 derivative without asking the deal fell through [China tells a different story, saying that Russia demanded exorbitant amounts to reopen production which it was unwilling to pay for a nearly obsolete aircraft]. As a result China operates the J-15 as its naval fighter, with... less than stellar results. It's extremely heavy, and, if it takes off from the carrier, has minimal range if carrying anything at all--it can't take more than two short range air to air missiles into the sky to fight enemy aircraft. However, the J-15 isn't really intended for combat service--it's intended to teach China how to run carriers, and it seems to work well enough for that task, aside from the multiple fatal crashes. There is, however, thought to be a new carrier fighter in the pipeline--most say the J-31/FC-31, which has reduced RCS and a number of carrier-unique features, is being pitched as a carrier-based aircraft and will serve as China's carrier fighter in the future. China also lacks any fixed wing carrier-based airborne early warning, which could prove troublesome--a lack of AEW means that its view is limited by the horizon--and has no resupply aircraft like the C-2 Greyhound. As a result, for the moment at least, China lacks an effective carrier force, but it is likely to continue developing rapidly in the next decade and become a fairly substantial threat. Remember that as recently as 2010, a Chinese aircraft carrier seemed preposterous to many people, and now they have two.

6. Some attention to land-based aircraft

Land-based aircraft as a naval weapon are not generally used by the US, which has never had a reason to develop them as a doctrinal focus. Sure, you could potentially envision them as being used, and there even were situations where they were utilized, but it just wasn't generally a priority or how things were done. For China, though, taking influence from the Soviets, and lying on littoral seas with hostile powers in the First Island Chain, land-based aircraft and missiles are a key part of doctrine. Although this is often viewed as a new thing, called A2/AD [anti access/area denial], it's really the result of a long historical evolution of naval power, probably most refined by the Soviet Union. As a result, land-based naval aviation plays an important role, firing anti-ship missiles at standoff distances at enemy vessels, and shore-based launchers of anti-ship missiles are also an important weapon. The combination of these systems means that venturing within China's littoral seas is a dangerous proposition during war, and some waters, like those of the Taiwan Strait, are effectively considered closed at this point in the event of hostilities breaking out. For this reason air superiority is also important in this sort of naval warfare, as if either side gains air superiority it can pummel its opponents with air-launched anti-ship missiles. China's capabilities in this area are sophisticated and should not be underestimated, but they are unlikely to go through a rapid period of growth like the PLAN's fleet.

And a brief note dedicated entirely to the DF-21D "Carrier killer" that the PLA likes to show off. It's a pretty impressive capability, on paper, using a ballistic missile to hit a carrier. The CEP [circular error probable] means that it could even happen, presuming that an aircraft carrier was good enough to sit in one place, not moving, long enough to be detected by China. Aircraft carriers look big, but the seas are huge, and they're surprisingly hard to find. They also move quite fast, in excess of of 35mph/55kph, and thus by the time the ballistic missile has launched it might well be out of range given the fact that ballistic missiles are not particularly known for their maneuverability in terminal stages, at least not in the realm of miles. The DF-21D is not a particular threat to the modern aircraft carrier. It could potentially be one if it evolves into a hypersonic boost-glide vehicle, but that's a whole additional can of worms, that I might address a different day.

7. The PLAN's plans for the future--what will it look like in 2030?

Unfortunately the PLAN is not exactly the most open of navies, as I've repeatedly mentioned. There are no public debates over acquisitions programs, no big fleet shape plans, relatively little detail.

However, a few things are fairly sure bets or publicly announced.

China has repeatedly announced plans to build a six-carrier force, including the Type 001 and Type 002, but also a pair of Type 003 [already under construction] conventionally powered supercarriers and a pair of Type 004 nuclear powered supercarriers. However, it seems that the Type 004 is currently on hold. Why, exactly, is unclear, but it seems to be technical difficulties, which are not particularly surprising given that China's experience with nuclear maritime propulsion seem to be rather limited and have had poor results in their submarine fleet. The costs were also expected to be too high--China does not have an unlimited quantity of money, despite what it may flaunt, and nuclear carriers are expensive to develop especially given that China has not built a nuclear-powered surface ship before.

A new carrier-based fighter is almost certainly in the cards because the J-15 is pretty much useless. The FC-31 seems by far the most likely candidate but it could be another aircraft we haven't seen yet. The addition of this aircraft will greatly improve the PLAN's capabilities.

China also has two Type 075 amphibious assault ships/LHDs under construction, and I would expect this class to be much more prolific. These ships are much more affordable than the full carriers, and focus on areas in which China is particularly concerned--amphibious assaults, say, on islands in the South China Sea or on Taiwan, and anti-submarine warfare, which is of particular importance given that submarines cannot be easily halted with land-based anti-ship missiles and air-launched cruise missiles provided for in their area denial doctrine--submarines are one of the few things that can slip through that net.

The surface combatant fleet is likely to continue growing, but I am not sure if it will swell much beyond the ~23 Type 052D ships planned and the 8 Type 055s. We're likely to see the retirement of the classes preceding the Type 052C destroyer and the Type 054 frigate, and they may be offloaded to Bangladesh, Myanmar, or Pakistan--there is substantial precedent here, and it seems that China is interested in expanding the naval capabilities of its partners around India.

The submarine fleet is likely to see rapid expansion if the PLAN is satisfied with the Type 095 and Type 096 classes, and we're likely to see more diesel-electric subs built as well. Submarines are generally quite good at fighting submarines and conducting area-denial missions, and the large and capable subsurface forces of Japan, Korea, and the United States means that this has to be an area the PLAN invests more in--and the fact that several Southeast Asian nations are also looking at acquiring submarines makes the issue more pressing.

8. Conclusion

China has in the past decade gone from a third-rate navy to perhaps the greatest threat the US Navy has faced since the Second World War. This has significant geopolitical implications, and has resulted in neighbors scrambling to overhaul their naval forces. The growth of the PLAN means that the US can no longer easily defend Taiwan or the South China Sea, or any of China's littoral waters. This, more than anything else, is what has everyone scrambling in the US talking about "great-power competition" because denying access to the US Navy and working on power projection, an inherently naval thing, is essentially a clear sign that China is looking to directly compete with the United States. Underestimate the PLAN at your own peril.

I hope to have more detail and citations in future posts, but unfortunately the PLAN is very secretive [yes, I've said that fifty times already] and this is a pretty big topic to discuss without going into details about all sorts of naval tidbits. Thanks for reading the fourth post in what I hope will be a fairly substantial series, probably around ~12 posts.

9. Citations

James Holmes, "The Danger Zone In Naval Arms Races"
USNI, Report to Congress on Chinese Naval Modernization
Hans Kristensen, China's Noisy Nuclear Submarines
Eric Wertheim, China's Type 052D Destroyer is a potent adversary
Robert Farley, Let's Talk About The Chinese Navy's Type 055 Destroyer
Ryan Pickrell, Chinese fighter jet holding China back as it builds carrier fleet
Look, much more here is based on loose speculation, more unreliable sources, and stuff I've picked up over the years, because public info is limited. So take everything I say with a grain of salt, but understand that it's the best information I know of.
submitted by AmericanNewt8 to neoliberal [link] [comments]

Lost in the Sauce: Feb. 16 - 22

Welcome to Lost in the Sauce, keeping you caught up on political and legal news that often gets buried in distractions and theater. (the previous edition can be found here if you are super behind).
House-keeping:
  1. How to read: the headings will guide you through this piece. The Main Course covers the “big” stories and The Sides covers the “smaller” stories. IF YOU FOLLOW THE NEWS CLOSELY: you likely know about the stories in the Main Course section, so you will be best served by scrolling down to The Sides portion.
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Let’s dig in!

MAIN COURSE

Trump’s war on the intelligence community: 10 days under an authoritarian administration

I wrote a stand-alone piece covering the biggest news from last week: Over the past 10 days, we've seen Trump fully indulge his authoritarian impulses in an attempt to stamp out any inkling of facts that he dislikes - whether that be for personal, egocentric reasons or to shore up political strength. This began with a briefing given to the House Intelligence Committee that Russia is seeking to re-elect Trump. In response, Trump purged the Office of the Director of National Intelligence of officials he perceived to be disloyal, installing loyalists in their place.
Also covered: how Trump gets away with a cabinet full of acting officials, Richard Grenell’s numerous dis-qualifications, a pardon offered to Julian Assange, and the hunt for “Never Trumpers” in the administration.

Sunday night update

On Sunday, Trump made a veiled threat toward House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff while claiming without evidence that the Democrat had leaked information from the Russia briefing on Feb. 13: “Somebody please tell incompetent (thanks for my high poll numbers) & corrupt politician Adam ‘Shifty’ Schiff to stop leaking Classified information or, even worse, made up information, to the Fake News Media. Someday he will be caught, & that will be a very unpleasant experience!” tweet
Later, while speaking to reporters, Trump called for an investigation into the leak - more concerned about the public learning of the briefing than he is about Russia’s repeated interference in U.S. elections. “They leaked it, Adam Schiff and his group. They leaked it to the papers and - as usual - they ought to investigate Adam Schiff for leaking that information,” Trump said.
Schiff responded: “Nice deflection, Mr. President. But your false claims fool no one. You welcomed Russian help in 2016, tried to coerce Ukraine’s help in 2019, and won’t protect our elections in 2020.”

Pardon-palooza

Authoritarians also dispense largesse, but they do it by their own whims, rather than pursuant to any system or legal rule. The point of authoritarianism is to concentrate power in the ruler, so the world knows that all actions, good and bad, harsh and generous, come from a single source. (The New Yorker)
Last week, Trump granted pardons and commutations to 11 people with one thing in common: connections. Trump bypassed the process of formal procedures typically used to determine who is given a pardon, instead relying on connections to his wealthy friends and political allies.

Roger Stone going to prison

Perhaps not coincidentally, Trump’s pardoning of corrupt public officials like Blagojevich occurred just two days before Roger Stone’s sentencing for lying to investigators, obstructing a congressional investigation, and witness tampering. Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced Stone to 40 months - or 3.3 years - in prison, much lighter than the original 7-9 year sentencing recommendation made by career prosecutors who withdrew from the case in protest of AG Barr’s intervention.
Lawfare has a great line-by-line breakdown of the sentencing hearing, if you’d like the nitty-gritty details. But if you only have time to read one excerpt from the hearing, I suggest the following:
Judge Jackson: “The truth still exists. The truth still matters. Roger Stone's insistence that it doesn't, his belligerence, his pride in his own lies are a threat to our most fundamental institutions, to the very foundation of our democracy...The dismay and the disgust at the attempts by others to defend his actions as just business as usual in our polarized climate should transcend party. The dismay and the disgust with any attempts to interfere with the efforts of prosecutors and members of the judiciary to fulfill their duty should transcend party.
"Sure, the defense is free to say: So what? Who cares? But, I'll say this: Congress cared. The United States Department of Justice and the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia that prosecuted the case and is still prosecuting the case cared. The jurors who served with integrity under difficult circumstances cared. The American people cared. And I care."
Judge Jackson pushes back
During the hearing, Judge Jackson said that the jurors in the case "served with integrity." Stone’s lawyers took this statement and moved to disqualify the judge from the case, claiming that her remarks “rendered her unable to fairly rule on his bid for a new trial.”
"Stone’s Motion for New Trial is directly related to the integrity of a juror. It is alleged that a juror misled the Court regarding her ability to be unbiased and fair and the juror attempted to cover up evidence that would directly contradict her false claims of impartiality," his lawyers argued.
"The premature statement blessing the “integrity of the jury” undermines the appearance of impartiality and presents a strong bias for recusal," they added.
As expected, Jackson denied the motion to have her disqualified...
A pardon for Stone?
But the goal may be to reach the ears of the president instead. According to Politico, a former senior administration official who remains in contact with Trump and his senior advisers says about a pardon for Roger Stone: “It’s not a question of if; it’s when.” Following the sentencing, Trump argued that Stone’s jury was “tainted” and said that “Roger has a very good chance of exoneration.”
On Sunday, Trump was asked about the possibility of a pardon for Stone and instead took the opportunity to attack the jury forewoman, again:
"That juror is so biased and so tainted, that shouldn't happen in our criminal justice system… You have a juror that is obviously tainted. She was an activist against Trump. She said bad things about Trump and bad things about Stone," the President claimed without evidence. "She somehow weaseled her way onto the jury and if that's not a tainted jury then there is no such thing as a tainted jury."

More info on Stone’s lenient sentence

In the week since four prosecutors withdrew from Stone’s case in protest of AG Barr’s interference, we have gotten a slow drip-drip of new information. A piece by The New York Times Sunday summed it up nicely: Timothy Shea, appointed to replace Jessie Liu as head D.C. attorney, was sent to the office specifically to steer cases to the president’s benefit after previous efforts failed.
A new boss, Timothy Shea, had just arrived and had told them on his first day that he wanted a more lenient recommendation for Mr. Stone, and he pushed back hard when they objected, according to two people briefed on the dispute. They grew suspicious that Mr. Shea was helping his longtime friend and boss, Attorney General William P. Barr, soften the sentencing request to please the president.
...The tensions between the office, the Justice Department and the White House date back further than the tumult in the Stone case. They have been simmering since at least last summer, when the office’s investigation of Andrew G. McCabe, a former top F.B.I. official whom the president had long targeted, began to fall apart.
Mr. Shea’s predecessor, Jessie K. Liu, a lawyer whom Mr. Trump had appointed to lead the office in 2017, pressed the McCabe case even after one team of prosecutors concluded that they could not win a conviction. After a second team was brought in and also failed to deliver a grand jury indictment, Ms. Liu’s relationship with Mr. Barr grew strained, people close to them said. She left the position this year, though she and Mr. Barr have both stressed to associates that her departure was amicable.

Undoing Mueller’s work

Trump’s efforts to derail the sentencing of Stone can be seen as part of a larger campaign to rewrite history, and specifically, erase the findings of the Mueller investigation. Roger Stone’s indictment shows that Stone was acting on Trump's personal order to find Hillary Clinton’s campaign emails stolen by Russia. In order to cover-up his role in the Russia-Wikileaks-Trump network, Stone lied to investigators and threatened a witness. By claiming that Stone did not commit a crime, Trump is attempting to reverse the findings of the Mueller report and make himself the victim.
Last week, Trump embarked on a rambling Twitter thread calling for all cases stemming from Mueller’s probe to be “thrown out.” He continued, saying: “If I wasn’t President, I’d be suing everyone all over the place.......BUT MAYBE I STILL WILL. WITCH HUNT!”
Hours later, while discussing the spate of pardons he had issued that day, Trump made the astounding assertion that he is “the chief law enforcement officer of the country” and thus has the “legal right” to interfere in criminal cases. “I’m allowed to be totally involved,” the president added. While technically he is incorrect - the Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer - in practice Trump has been proven right. A lawless chief executive is in fact in charge of enforcing the law when the Attorney General acts as his personal fixer.
This is in the style of autocrats across the globe, who weaponize the law to help themselves and their friends and hurt their enemies. The nation’s legal system is now run by a man who has spent his life mocking it. (NYT Editorial Board)
Meanwhile, the president’s allies have reportedly been urging him to fire anyone who was involved in Mueller’s investigation:
The MAGA punditry’s outsized influence over the president means their campaign against the so-called Mueller “holdovers” is likely not falling on deaf ears, especially given Trump’s fixation with what his defenders and detractors are saying about his administration in their frequent appearances on his favorite TV programs.
“It's totally unclear to me why any members of the Mueller team need to remain in the Trump DOJ,” the pro-Trump conservative blogger Will Chamberlain wrote after news broke of the Stone sentencing recommendation.
...GOP operative Arthur Schwartz, a close friend of Donald Trump Jr. who has been described as the eldest son’s “fixer,” said of the career officials in question: “I think they should all be investigated.”
...John Dowd, a former Trump lawyer who remains in touch with the White House, characterized the line attorneys in the Stone case as “insubordinate,” and “the same crowd of prosecutors wedded to the Mueller agenda” who need to be “cleaned out” from DOJ. “And Bill Barr is doing that,” Dowd said.
What can be done about the politicization of the DOJ? In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Cass Sunstein of Harvard Law School suggests that “Congress should transform the Justice Department into an independent agency, legally immunized from the president’s day-to-day control.”

Public charge rule takes effect

The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to allow the government to implement new “wealth test” rules making it easier to deny immigrants residency or admission to the United States if they might depend on public-assistance programs. Legal challenges will continue in lower courts in the meantime. Doug Rand, co-founder of Boundless Immigration who formerly worked on immigration policy in the Obama White House, estimates that as many as 400,000 people every year could be denied green cards or visas because of the new rules.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor filed a written dissent that was sharply critical of both the federal government and her conservative colleagues, warning that they are “putting a thumb on the scale in favor of” the Trump administration. Read her full seven-page dissent here.
The justice wrote that granting emergency applications often upends "the normal appellate process" while "putting a thumb on the scale in favor of the party that won." Targeting her conservative colleagues, she said "most troublingly, the Court's recent behavior" has benefited "one litigant over all others."
"Claiming one emergency after another, the Government has recently sought stays in an unprecedented number of cases," Sotomayor said. "It is hard to say what is more troubling," she said, pointing to the case at hand, "that the Government would seek this extraordinary relief seemingly as a matter of course, or that the Court would grant it." CNN

THE SIDES

Justice Department’s new rules benefit Giuliani

In a letter to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, the DOJ indicated that the agency has implemented another layer of approval that would make it difficult for prosecutors to widen their probe into Rudy Giuliani:
The Justice Department revealed Tuesday that law enforcement officials running Ukraine-related investigations must seek approval before expanding their inquiries — a move that could have implications for Rudolph W. Giuliani, as President Trump’s personal attorney pushes for scrutiny of the president’s political foes while facing a federal probe into his own conduct.
Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd wrote to Nadler that the department had tapped two U.S. attorneys to assist in the process — Scott Brady in Pittsburgh to receive and assess new information, and Richard Donoghue in Brooklyn to help coordinate personnel throughout the Justice Department involved in Giuliani’s case and others with a focus on Ukraine. An accompanying internal memo, circulated by Rosen in January, says that he and Donoghue must approve expansions of any inquiries.

Related: The Hill admits John Solomon’s columns were misleading

The Hill’s review of Solomon’s work can be found here. I have found the review itself to be overly generous to the publication (no surprise), so I will quote from a WaPo summary of the review:
In effect, the Hill said Solomon amplified an inaccurate and one-sided narrative about the Bidens and Ukraine that was fed to him by Giuliani, “facilitated” by businessman Lev Parnas, who was working with Giuliani at the time, and reinforced by Solomon’s own attorneys, who also represented clients embroiled in U.S.-Ukraine politics.
But the Hill stopped short of retracting or apologizing for Solomon’s articles, nor did it say it shouldn’t have published them. It also didn’t characterize Solomon’s motives in presenting what appears to be a largely debunked conspiracy theory about Ukraine.
“In certain columns, Solomon failed to identify important details about key Ukrainian sources, including the fact that they had been indicted or were under investigation,” said the internal investigation, which was overseen by the newspaper’s editor, Bob Cusack. “In other cases, the sources were [Solomon’s] own attorneys” — Victoria Toensing and Joseph DiGenova, who have also represented President Trump and Giuliani, who was also a key source for Solomon’s columns.
Solomon didn’t disclose this connection in his columns nor did he disclose to his editors that he shared drafts of his stories with Toensing, DiGenova and Parnas, the review noted.

Trump tries to block Bolton book

The Washington Post reports that Trump is attempting to block the release of former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s book, instructing aides that it should not be released until after the November election.
Trump has told his lawyers that Bolton should not be allowed to publish any of his interactions with him about national security because they are privileged and classified, these people said. He has also repeatedly brought up the book with his team, asking whether Bolton is going to be able to publish it, they said.
Trump told national television anchors on Feb. 4 during an off-the-record lunch that material in the book was “highly classified,” according to notes from one participant in the luncheon. He then called him a “traitor.”
“We’re going to try and block the publication of the book,” Trump said, according to the notes. “After I leave office, he can do this. But not in the White House...I give the guy a break. I give him a job. And then he turns on me,” Trump added during the West Wing lunch. “He’s just making things up.”

Susan Rice tells Bolton the truth

During a panel discussion at Vanderbilt University on Wednesday, Bolton shared the stage with Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice. Bolton made excuses for his failure to testify in Trump’s impeachment trial, blaming the House for committing “impeachment malpractice.” Rice challenged Bolton repeatedly, denigrating his decision to promote his book instead of testify:
"I thought a lot about if I had been in that position how would I have approached it, and I'll be honest: It's inconceivable to me that if I had firsthand knowledge of gross abuse of presidential power that I would withhold my testimony from a constitutional accountability process.”
"I can't imagine withholding my testimony, with or without a subpoena," Rice said. "I also can't imagine, frankly, in the absence of being able to provide the information directly to Congress, not having exercised my First Amendment right to speak publicly at a time when my testimony or my experience would be relevant. And, frankly, when my subordinates ... were doing their duty and responding in a fashion consistent with their legal obligations to provide information."
"I would feel like I was shamefully violating the oath that I took to support and defend the Constitution."

Trump corruption update

President Donald Trump’s choice to stay at his own Las Vegas hotel each night during the western states swing that wraps up Friday likely cost taxpayers a million extra dollars as well as diverted thousands of them into his own cash registers.
Breaking with precedent, Trump flew back to Vegas to stay every night at his Trump International Hotel, despite his day activities taking place in California, Arizona, and Colorado.
Had Trump held the same events but done so in a geographically logical order ― starting in Beverly Hills and finishing in Colorado Springs, but overnighting each day in the city where he would begin the following morning ― Trump would have spent four fewer hours aboard Air Force One, thereby saving taxpayers about $1.1 million.
...Indeed, the repeated overnight trips to Las Vegas may have forced the Secret Service and other support personnel to keep a motorcade there for a full four days, rather than move it to the site of an upcoming presidential trip
This week, Trump has a whole new country to focus on: India, home to the largest portfolio of Trump real estate projects outside North America, according to the president’s son Donald Trump Jr. According to The Washington Post, since the elder Trump’s last trip to India in 2014, two of his business partners have encountered massive legal and financial trouble.
During Trump’s time as president, the Trump Organization has vigorously promoted their properties in India, earning millions of dollars in royalties:
In 2018, the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr. — who runs the Trump Organization with his brother, Eric Trump — spent several days in India promoting the family’s developments, attending a champagne dinner with condo buyers who plunked down $39,000 deposits and bringing in millions of dollars in new sales. While there, he also met with Modi behind closed doors. The next year, Trump’s Indian business partners flew 100 early buyers of his luxury condos near Delhi to visit Trump Tower and Trump Ferry Point golf course in New York City as a way to generate interest in the properties in India. One attendee gushed afterward about meeting the son of a U.S. president on the trip.

Trump 2020: Cambridge Analytica and Facebook

President Donald Trump’s campaign is bringing on an alum of the controversial data firm Cambridge Analytica...Matt Oczkowski, who served as head of product at Cambridge before it went bankrupt and shut down in 2018, is helping oversee the Trump campaign’s data program...Oczkowski, who also worked on Trump’s 2016 effort, joined the reelection campaign in January, and payments to his company, HuMn Behavior, are expected to show up on Trump’s next campaign finance disclosure later this month. (Politico)
An Axios report revealed where most of Trump’s re-election campaign is spending its advertising budget: on Facebook ads. “Last fall, the campaign urged Facebook to keep the same tools for political advertisers that they make available to companies...Facebook ultimately decided not to change its policies around microtargeting.” However, unlike in 2016, the campaign is also diversifying, “testing new strategies on several dozen platforms, including YouTube, Google, ad exchanges, publisher networks and conservative podcasts.”
  • Side note: The IRS is suing Facebook for $9 million in back taxes, alleging the social media company undervalued intellectual properties when selling them to an Irish subsidiary in 2010. Ireland has lower corporate tax rates than the United States, so the move reduced the company’s tax bill.

Erik Prince investigations

There is apparently another investigation into Blackwater Founder - and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos - Erik Prince. The FBI is reportedly investigating Prince “for his 2015 attempt to modify two American-made crop-dusting planes into attack aircraft — a violation of arms trafficking regulations...The planes became part of private military services Prince proposed to sell or use in mercenary operations in Africa and Azerbaijan.”
This new investigation adds to Prince’s legal problems, though he insists that he is untouchable “under this guy,” referring to Trump. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Justice Department is “in the late stages of deciding whether to charge” Prince for allegedly lying to Congress in its Russia probe and violating U.S. export laws in his business dealings overseas.

Trump blocking prominent climate change warning

The United States is against mentioning climate change in the communique of the world’s financial leaders, G20 diplomats said, after a new draft of the joint statement showed the G20 are considering including it as a risk factor to growth...G20 sources said the United States was reluctant to accept language on climate change as a risk to the economy. Reuters
On Sunday, it was announced that the U.S. ultimately agreed to a less-prominent placement for the risks of climate change. It will now appear in language referencing the Financial Stability Board’s work examining the implications of climate change for financial stability.
One of the G20 sources said it was the first time a reference to climate change had been included in a G20 finance communique during Trump’s presidency, even though it was removed from the top of the joint statement. U.S. officials have resisted naming climate change as an economic risk since Trump took office in 2017. One of his first acts as president was to announce Washington’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.

Rightwing threats

Last week, two men were arrested in separate incidents involving threats to President Trump’s perceived opponents.
A Michigan man, Brittan J. Atkinson, was arrested on Thursday for sending death threats to Mark Zaid, an attorney for the Ukraine whistleblower. Atkinson sent the threats in November, on the day that Trump held up a photo of Zaid and read some of his tweets at a rally in Louisiana.
"All traitors must die miserable deaths," Atkinson's email read in part, the indictment says. "Those that represent traitors shall meet the same fate[.] We will hunt you down and bleed you out like the pigs you are. We have nothing but time, and you are running out of it, Keep looking over your shoulder[.] We know who you are, where you live, and who you associate with[.] We are all strangers in a crowd to you[.]"
On Wednesday, Salvatore Lippa of New York was arrested for threatening to assault and murder Rep. Adam Schiff and Sen. Chuck Schumer in voicemails last month.
Lippa started the threatening message by calling the congressman "Schiff, Shifty Schiff," invoking the nickname used by President Donald Trump for Schiff, the lead House manager during Trump's impeachment trial.
...When questioned by U.S Capitol Police, Lippa admitted to making the threatening calls to Schiff and Schumer because he said he was upset about the impeachment proceedings, prosecutors said.

State news

  • Washington Post: A second court has temporarily blocked North Carolina’s new voter identification law on the argument that it discriminates against African Americans. The ruling reduces the likelihood that the rule will be in effect in a key swing state during November’s elections. A three-judge panel of the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that intent to discriminate was a “primary motivating factor” behind the voter ID law, which passed the Republican legislature in late 2018.
  • CBS News: Florida cannot bar felons who served their time from registering to vote simply because they have failed to pay all fines and fees stemming from their cases, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
  • CNN: Mississippi's law banning abortions at the detection of a fetal heartbeat -- as early as six weeks into pregnancy -- will remain blocked, a panel of circuit judges ruled on Thursday...The three-judge panel on the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court's ruling that the Mississippi law unconstitutionally prohibited pre-viability abortions.
  • Tampa Bay Times: A curious request arrived in the inboxes of Florida tax collectors last week from an employee of the Republican National Committee. He asked for “all email addresses that have been collected and are in the possession of the Tax Collector’s Office.” He also wanted any names, property addresses and phone numbers connected to those emails in their records. If the tax collectors had complied, the Republican Party would soon have a valuable trove of personal information for millions of Floridians as it gears up for the 2020 election: A detailed database of many taxpayers’ emails plus the name, address and phone number tied to that email.
  • Associated Press: Most Republican lawmakers refused to attend a Tuesday night session of the Oregon House of Representatives amid a slowdown over anger at a sweeping bill on climate change. Earlier, Republican lawmakers, who are a minority in the House, insisted that bills coming to the floor be read in their entirety instead of being summarized, which slowed things down substantially. The 2020 session of the Legislature lasts only 35 days, being an even-year short session.
  • Q13 Fox News: Efforts to expel a controversial state representative from the Washington Legislature are likely over after no Republicans would sign a letter calling for state Rep. Matt Shea’s expulsion. The Spokesman-Review reports that all 98 members of the state House of Representatives were asked Thursday to sign a letter calling for the expulsion of Spokane Valley Republican. All 56 Democrats signed the letter, but no Republicans did.
CONTINUED BELOW
submitted by rusticgorilla to Keep_Track [link] [comments]

A Cliff Notes Summary of the First One Out Interviews

If you haven't had time to listen to seven hours of podcast interviews, or you didn't retain everything you heard, here are some key points. I didn't think to do this until just now, so I'll be posting it as a work in progress and updating it throughout the afternoon. That way more people will have a chance to read up before the premiere.
Karishma Patel, 37, Personal Injury Trial Lawyer, Houston, TX -First generation Indian-American Her mom was as a legal assistant, and got her a filing job at her law firm when she was 14. "I didn't have other options. I was basically told I was going to be a lawyer and I didn't disagree."She has watched every season and regularly listens to RHAP. She sits close to the TV to study the inflections on people's faces when something is said to them, so that she can think about what that means. But, her parents and husband don't share her enthusiasm for the show. Asked if it's her dark pleasure she says, "It is completely bright. It is a beautiful pleasure of mine, but it is mine and mine only. I haven't been able to find people to share it with." -Doing the show has caused her conflict. "Not only is it not expected, it's not allowed. It's kind of like being a disobedient Indian girl. You're not supposed to be doing this. What you're supposed to be doing is having babies. But I don't care. I'm a risk taker. I'm here to prove to myself that I don't need to listen to anybody else. I don't need permission from anybody else. This is my journey and I'm going to take it. I hope that people watching out there can see that an Indian woman's value does not come from doing what she's told." -She doesn't currently have children, and she says she has some decisions to make as she enters a crossroads and the next stage of her life. -Her law firm told her they'll replace her if they're able to find someone, and she can have her job back if they don't. "I didn't flinch." -Her strategy is to be non-threatening and play a social game. She doesn't look 37, and she wants to use that youthfulness to be disarming. She wants to build relationships other people believe in. She defines success by other people vouching for her loyalty when they go off and have private conversations with one another. "That means I got 'em, because it's actually the other way around." Asked if she wants to find someone she can trust, "I'm not going to be capable of it. I'm too skeptical for that. I overthink things, so I'm not going to be able to trust somebody the way I want to be trusted... If I do, that's the end of my game."
My take: Oh my God. Poor Karishma. Her story hurts my heart. She reminds me so much of myself in her isolation, her defiance and her deep feelings. I worry that her fear of trusting people could get in the way of her forming genuine bonds. But, there's nothing she can do. Society has made her the way she is. I hope she gets a lot of screen time so she can be a star of her favorite show.
Missy Byrd, 24, Military Veteran/App Developer, Tacoma, Washington -Originally from Georgia. Her family was 'decently poor.' She played basketball for the Air Force Academy because she thought it was her ticket out. -She had a brain tumor. She stopped menstruating for a year and two quarters. "I'm not dating anyone but I have breast milk. I'm a literal cow... I would look down and my shirt would be wet, and I thought, 'Dang you're clumsy. I knew you were clumsy, but you're clumsier today than you were yesterday. But it was - it was - uhh - milk." She had crying fits. She developed a stutter and couldn't look at people. Doctors told her she was just stressed. When her dad died she couldn't process emotions normally. She was about to go to the French version of the Air Force Academy, École de l'air, after graduation but because of her mental instability she was removed from school. The military shipped her to the same Air Force base as Sandra (Fort Lewis.) "I don't want to be there. Super sad. Check into the post office - fuck this. Check into the dorms - hate that." The doctor there found the tumor. She got an MRI and all weekend she believed she might have cancer. Over the next year and a half she eliminated the tumor and the symptoms using vitamins. She enlisted and worked logistics. -She made a list of the things she wanted to do now that she was going to live. "The first thing was go see Beyonce. Beyonce costs way too much money for a normal person to go see, but if you've just almost had a near death experience you go see Beyonce, bro!" She was feet away. She drove across the country. She tried weed. -She had an idea for an app, but didn't even have the computer literacy to use social media. She found a veteran's association and asked if she could intern. "They said, 'No, you should build this out yourself. We want to work for you.' I said, 'No, the fuck you don't. Okay, lemme call my grandma.'" She wrote a grant proposal and won a $1,500 office space in the center of Seattle. "Just to do whatever I want. It was like a laboratory for a child. I had Play-Dough up there. I had a white board... Just mind blowing shit when I could have been dead." -She'd seen every episode of Survivor at least three times. She started watching because her Air Force Academy basketball team was getting decimated, and she related to Foa Foa getting decimated in Survivor: Samoa. She added the show to her list. Josh suggests, "The bugs are eating you because they want some of that magic." -She isn't going to tell people her story until she's in the Final 3. "That's that Final 3 magic." She doesn't want to overly rely on strategy. She doesn't want to win individual challenges. She to build a social game and find ways to relate to everyone.
My take: She's so full of exuberance. There's not a negative bone in her body right now. She's too young and her life experience is too necessarily limited to talk around three years of her life. If she shares her story, the beauty of her perspective will cause everyone to fall in love with her and want her to do well. If she doesn't, people will sense that she's hiding a lot. I think she'll figure that out and course correct within the first day. Since she was at the same Air Force base as Sandra and she was a massive fan, does that suggest she knows her?

Ronnie Bardah, 35, Professional Poker Player, Henderson, Nevada-Born and raised in Brockton, Massachusetts, 20 minutes south of Boston. They were the only Israeli family in town. 50% of the people in Brockton were from Cape Verde, and he considers himself an "honorary Cape Verdian." A couple of his friends were shot and killed at a young age. -He was a good kid and had a good heart, but he was always hustling. In Junior High he was flipping Oatmeal Cakes and Fudge Rounds for a profit. Slinging baseball cards. Both his parents gambled. They were always at the dog tracks or Mohegan Sun. He had his friend make him a fake ID and got stuck with the name Alaja Jones. He went by Al and started playing the casinos. Quit his job at Sears Automotive to play poker full time.-He played Atlantic City, Vegas, then internationally. He had his first big score in 2010 when he took 24th place in the main event for $320,000. Got to keep $150,000 after taxes. "Poker's a hard way to make an easy living. Lots of people try. We risk every day. You have to get to a point when you can manage your bankroll and I've never gone broke in the 16 years I've played." -In one of the most viewed poker hands of all time, he was bluffed out of a million dollar pot by a supermodel on a poker TV show filmed in Monaco. "She made a sick play. She had no idea what she was doing but all the stars were aligned."-He watched Borneo when it aired and got back into it when fellow poker player Anna Khait was on. He calls Jean-Robert, "kinda a lazy guy...He's really good at befriending multi-millionaires." "Anna Khait... is probably the least poker player out of all of us. She played for a couple years." "And then Garrett - He's a very, very smart, smart kid... Self-made millionaire. One of the very, very few." -He only drank water for 7.5 days and lost 25 pounds for his health and to get an idea of the conditions of the show. He thinks he'll thrive in the survival situation. "People like being around me. I like to fucking bust balls and joke." He thinks old school alliances are a good plan, but you have to adapt. He says that like in poker, Survivor players can have every advantage, but they have to really smell it. -He wants Vince out. "There's an Asian Zeke in there. What value does he bring besides ruining people and getting in people's heads? He's a liability in challenges. He looks like a little corn puff. We gotta get him outta here. Sorry to sound so mean but it's the truth."
My take: Ruuuuude. He has no way of knowing how other people on the cast are talking in their interviews, and may assume the trash talk is standard. If he were playing on some seasons it would be. But, in this particular season it sets him apart in an unflattering way, and it seems a part of the tough persona he's built up to escape a scary situation growing up and enter a fantasy career. We'll see whether his tribe thinks he's a straight talking character or a jerk.

Tom Laidlaw, Former NHL Player, Brampton, Ontario, Canada -He was with the New York Rangers for 7 years and the LA Kings for 4. Now he has his own podcast, True Grit Life (truegritlife.com). Does it with a friend, Kevin Allen, who writes for USA Today. Does motivational speaking. -Growing up on a dairy farm outside Toronto there was a pond to water the cows. It froze over in the winters and he'd play hockey because there wasn't much else to do. Went to Northern Michigan University - four year hockey captain, ranked #1 team in the country. Drafted as a 20 year old. "My buddy had a horse farm. We were cleaning horse shit out of the stalls. There were no cell phones back then. This is 1978. My father got a call at our farm house from the New York Rangers at the draft. Back then nobody went to the draft - it was just teams. They said I'd been drafted in the sixth round. He calls the farm house where I'm working. They bring me up. He says, 'Son, you've been drafted by the Rangers.' I said, 'Great. What do I do now?' He says, 'Finish cleaning the shit out of the stalls.'" -When he played intimidation and fighting was strategy. There were guys tougher than him, but he could fight and he could also play. Problem was, he fought a guy once, and from then on the guy wanted to fight him over and over. -Jerry Bruckheimer, big hockey fan, called the NHL and wanted to get some players on the Amazing Race. Tom had kept himself in shape, he had his passport. They ended up asking him about Survivor. He'd watched it before but not for a while. He wasn't so sure he wanted to play a game where you hurt other people, but friends helped him get his head around it. He was very impressed by Christian's toughness in the endurance challenge. To prepare for the show he studied how he reacted to different situations, how to control his heart heart, etc. He wants the mental challenge.
My take: Tom really ticked me off when he spoiled a couple of outcomes of this season. That's a betrayal of the producers, his cast and the viewers. But, if that hadn't happened I would like him. He's an easy-going, charming guy. His life experiences are a bit different than anyone else who's been on the show, which is what you want.
Vince Moua, 27, Admissions Counselor, Merced, CA -His family is Hmong. His parents lived in Vietnam in the destruction left by the war - dead bodies, guns, people who wanted to kill them. They went to refugee camps in Thailand. Then his dad became a Montana farm hand. He met Vince's mom in the US, but she came from the same place. -Vince is from small town Merced, California - the 209. Few people he knew went anywhere but the UC system and community college. He went to Stanford, one of only 7-10 Hmong. He realized the significance someone can bring to people from the same community. He tried to be pre-med but realized "no, not today." The issues of access he cared about came well before people got to the hospital. He ended up going with education. His mom was a teacher, "But when I was growing up she said, 'Yo, if you become a teacher Imma disown yo ass.' To all of us. But, that's always kinda been my jam." -He lived in South Korea for five years. He taught English in a town. Then in Seoul ahed worked with low and middle income students who wanted to study outside of Korea. -He's a Survivor superfan, who even mentions on his Tinder account that he plans to be on Survivor. His parents were worried about him doing TV because he's not out as gay to his extended family. He comes from a clan where his dad is the "top dog" and Vince is "the next top dog." In the Asian American/Pacific Islander community when you come out, it's your family who faces - in a sense - dishonor. For a long time he distanced himself from his family, hoping they'd all be less hurt if they found out and disowned him. He always tried to find friends who would be there for him should his parents not be. A year ago his mom asked him rhetorically if he was gay. "I was try'n to go around it. I was like, 'Gurl, you don't wanna know! Yo ass keeps asking!' But she kept asking, asking. So finally I told her 'Yeah, I am!' and she was crying. My dad was like, 'Oh, my son!'" But, Vince is fine with who he is and wants to show kids like him that "let's hope that it gets better." Now his parents just want him to win. -He'd like to play an old school strategy but "I'm not afraid to cut a bitch." With the tribe he's going to be Homeboy Vince from the 209, but when he talks to the camera he's going to tell people "Don't underestimate your narratives." This past year with Crazy Rich Asians, he wants people to know that there are some Crazy Hood Ass Asians.
My take: What a character. Vince has a clear point of view - Hmong, blue collar, gay - which is unique to him in Survivor lore. Even though double minorities have sometimes had trouble fitting in socially on Survivor I think somehow he's going to pull it off. As unlikely as this sounds I could even see him being a Cochran-esque winner.
Aaron Meredith, 36, Personal Trainer, Warwick, Rhode Island -He's very keyed up at Ponderosa. Rambling so fast it sounds like you're listening to 1.5x. He's read four books so far - Relentless by Tim Grover, Can't Hurt Me by Dave Goggins, Iron Cowboy by James Lawrence, Harry Potter. -He was an engineer at a building insulation plant. He was miserable, too antsy sitting at a desk. Couldn't focus. So, he drove up and down the East Coast popping kettle corn - from Maine to Florida - traveling with carnies. Bartended for a while. He'd played college football and baseball, lifted since high school, and he and his friends wanted to get "huge and jacked and ripped." The owner of the gym suggested he become a personal trainer. He ended up working mostly with middle aged women and it taught him empathy. Now he owns two women's-only fitness studios. He puts supportive women around one another and offers them the positivity to seek self-growth. -He's also a party boat emcee. Lights, DJ, bar, drinks. He's an extremely social person. -He'd first applied at 23 - 6 or 7 times over the years. He was in the mix for Cook Islands and David vs. Goliath. -He's been married 7 years and has a 5 year old son. His son is a huge fan of Survivor. Libby Vincek is his favorite player. Kara Kay was his next favorite. Aaron is already sure Molly will be his son's favorite. "He has a type. He He likes the attractive blondes. He says, 'I like them because they have a nice face.' I like mommy because she has a nice face too." The boy was very concerned about his dad going on the show. He said, "Dad, I don't want anyone to laugh at you and make fun of you." Aaron said he wanted to win. His son said, "But you might not win." When they watch the show he'll always ask, "Do they like him? Do they like her?" If Aaron is portrayed in a negative light he'll have to sit down with his son and talk. He doesn't want to play a deceitful game, but he will, because he doesn't care how he's portrayed.
My take: His story about his son is one of my favorites from all these interviews. I hope he gets to work with Molly. His adrenaline is too high. I hope he calms down a lot when the game starts. But, someone so social and sweet hearted who can win challenges and take themselves to the end has got to be a contender to win.
Chelsea Walker, 27, Digital Content Editor, Los Angeles, CA -Chelsea just took the cast photo and they put her in the third spot from the bottom, a good omen because a weird number of winners have been in that position. "Your girl's number three. I got this!" -She's a Jersey girl. She went to the University of Maryland. "I didn't do Survivor: Maryland or anything." She studied Broadcast Journalism. She knew the generic emails for NBC Universal and emailed random people until someone replied. Now she's been in LA a year. She did coverage of award shows. Now she works at IMDB, where she helps Kevin Smith with his show. She just interviewed people at SXSW. -She's been watching Survivor since she was 8. She's cried in every interview because this means so much to her. She's trying to explain that at the point she starts crying again. "It's been such a dream of mine and To be told no year after year after year - these past six years have been a total mindfuck. I've basically been called every single year. I've been to finals three times. Survivor is my one true love, but the one year they didn't call me I got really pissed off so I tried out for Big Brother. I ended up becoming the alternate and got my key being filmed and all of that crap. But I don't like that show anyway." -In September 2017 she was at a WeHo bar for her friend's birthday when, "Oh shit that's Jeff Probst." Her girlfriends all know she's obsessed, so she pulled the waiter over and asked what that guy was drinking. So, Chelsea sent another one over. "I told my friends, 'Take my credit card. Split the bill, because I can't come back after I do this. As soon as the waiter drops off the drink I'm like, 'Jeff, this one's on me. You can buy me the next one at finals.' And I just walked out of the restaurant... That was a big move!" They didn't call her again that year, but Jeff still remembered when they talked this year. -She's been working out at four different gyms - weights, pilates, yoga. Push ups. Memorized puzzles. Reading How to Win Friends and Influence People, which she keeps in.a Bible sleeve so people will think she's religious. She also carries Harry Potter because she would trust someone who read HP. She wants to keep it cool. Make one on one connections. Eventually find idols - and not tell anyone she has one - and make calculated moves. "I don't want to be a Jacob. No offense."
My take: Hearing this girl cry from joy because she's so happy to be on the show makes me emotional. She's a real go getter. I wish I were that damn fearless. Truly, I wish I were more like her. I hope her pure zest for life comes across on TV and she doesn't get stuck with a purple edit just because of her age and gender. I also hope no one decides to get threatened by her as a competitive girl and vote her off premerge. I think she'll go far. Hope so.
Dean Kowalski, 28, Account Executive, New York, New York -Referring to himself in the third person, "Dean is 28 years old. As we mentioned, he lives in New York and he prides himself on being a well rounded person when it comes to interests, abilities, personalities... If I'm listening to Drake and Lil Wayne, I gotta go home and cry to This Is Us.. I can play basketball but also think about our place in the universe." He likes to tag basketball courts with a peace symbol with a ball on it which he makes using a stencil. -He structures most of his interview with Josh around an Outwit, Outplay, Outlast format, explaining why he excels at each. -He grew up in an affluent suburb. His dream was to play in the NBA. He was 5"9 3/4, so he set his eyes on college basketball as a realistic alternative. In order to get looks from colleges he went to a school 30 minutes away - top five in the country, Nike would fly them around for games and give them free Jordan sneakers. He was one of only 4 white guys in the whole school and the only one on the team. He played with Kyrie Irving, the #1 overall draft pick. "My friend said you look like the Make a Wish Kid who just wants to be on the team for a day." He played at Colombia University, where he was co-captain his senior year despite averaging two minutes a game. He became a teacher, then did sales for a tech startup in New York. He now sells ads for Google. -He's a fan, but far from a superfan. He started watching Brenda's season. (He thinks it was Nicaragua, but it was actually Carmoan.) He works with a superfan who freaked out when they had a meeting at H&R Block with Carolyn Rivera and they went out to Bourbon Street with her. He kept watching for five years and thought he could do well. He hates when people are all talk, so he sent in a tape. For the video he interviewed random strangers on the street, who had never met him or seen the show, and asked them, "Why am I going to win it?" A barber, a construction worker. He's going to tell people he's in marketing, not sales - people have sales.
My take: I'm just not that into him.
Elaine Stott, 41, Factory Worker, Rockholds, NY -When Josh asks her not to touch the table she asks him, "You seen that Bart Simpson commercial, right? Don't touch my Butterfinger? I'm already hungry thinking about it." -"I had a pretty rough way to go growing up." Her single dad raised her and her three brothers. She was the youngest. "I was raised like one of the boys. Know what I mean? Daddy didn't know how to raise no little girl." He worked 16-17 hour days. The kids raised themselves. "When little children make their own decisions, they make poor ones." She was a hellion. -She's originally from Woodbine, Kentucky, Nick Wilson's hometown. Her god sister went to school with him and she knows him through the grapevine. "We rode on different sides of the track. 20 years ago he coulda been my lawyer, because I was on the other side of the law. I'm not bad. I've just done some things." Public intoxication several times. "I come from a dry county. It's like Footloose. We cross the state line to get a beer and when you come back you're in trouble." She stole a newspaper stand once and had to do community service. "I was a little bit mean." -She went to live with her grandpa and cleaned her act up, by which she means that she started smoking a little weed and playing sports - basketball, softball, track. She played softball and judo in college. "I couldn't do nothing real technical. We had Brazilians on the team who could do flying arm bars. But if I got these claws on you and got ya on the ground I'd waller you to death." In casting she put this guy Will in an armbar. She was gonna choke him but didn't know if she should. -When she graduated, her girlfriend was a college Freshman so she went to all the same parties and ballgames for four years. Then she realized she needed a job. Now she drives a Ford truck for a factory. She's been there 15 years. She works 12 hours, 7 days a week. -Growing up her mom "was always in my life in some sense. She'd never miss a birthday. She'd be homeless, but she'd still call." Elaine and her brothers bought her cars, and places to live, and got her jobs. "In a sense I've been mourning the loss of my mom my whole life." Once Elaine was homeless herself and there was snow on the ground. It was cold, and her teacher took her in. Gave her Christmas presents. Made her go to prom. Survivor was a thing they shared, and the teacher was gonna be Elaine's loved one. But within a one year period the woman lost her daughter, her husband, her dog and then had a stroke. Now "she walks like Frankenstein" and can't go. Elaine got Probst to talk to her, and she can't wait to watch. In October Elaine's biological mom went into a coma. She was on life support, but Elaine wouldn't unplug her. Her mom came out of it and seemed to be doing a lot better only to die very suddenly of a heart attack. -Her girlfriend and her girlfriend's two sons are gonna be watching. The 18 year old doesn't know because he can't keep a secret. The 13 year old helped her lose 20 pounds doing crossfit to come out here. She wants the money, but she really wants "some of that soul searching, that life adventure, that life changing - some of that. You know what I mean? Gimme some of that soup! Lemme eat some of that up! I want this show to build me up, because I feel like it can. I sure hope to hell it don't tear me down."
My take: About 12 sobbing emojis in a row. She's my favorite. If she gets voted out premerge I'm going to go into mourning. And how can you not sort of expect that? I am going to be so upset if they just dismiss her because she's older and looks out of shape and sounds country. If that happens, I want another Second Chance season next year.
Elizabeth Biesel, 26, Olympic swimmer, South Kingstown, Rhode Island -Josh says that Elizabeth was outright identified by one of the other contestants because they'd been watching YouTube videos about how to be a better swimmer. Others guessed she was an Olympian based on her rings tattoo. -She's from the Ocean State. They lived a block away from the beach, so they wanted her to take swimming lessons. She was a rambunctious child and swimming was the only way they could calm her energy. She started breaking records when she was 7 or 8. When she was 13 she made her first national team. At 15 she went to the Olympics. She got good early. Women peak around 22-23, and she ended her career at 24. You couldn't make much money doing it. She swam one of the longer, more grueling races, and her body said "no more." She listened to her body and retired. Some athletes lose their love for swimming because they're embittered by losing by 1/100th of a second, or they leave injured. She left on a good note. Still, if she could swim competitively for the rest of her life, she would. Now she doesn't know who she is or what she's going to do with the rest of her life. Every hour of the day used to have a purpose. Now her days are wide open. She can't keep eating 5,000 calories a day. "It's sort of like I'm mourning the death of Elizabeth Biesel the swimmer." -She was a Survivor fan as a kid because Richard Hatch was from Rhode Island. In her area "Every single household that had a television set was watching Survivor." When they asked her if she'd do the show, she felt pure joy. She said absolutely right away. She's excited about the competition of Survivor. No heated Olympic pools. You're stripped down to your core. She's amazed by the scope of the production apparatus. She's not a schemer. She wants to be a challenge beast - not the best woman but the best overall. She'd love to have a Wendell and Dom relationship with another woman. But, she wants to avoid the drama as long as she can.
My take: Could Chelsea be Wendell to her Dom? She's so wholesome. She's just so "Olympics." I love her and everything she represents. I'd love to see her rocket through the swimming competitions, lapping everyone else. Go Elizabeth.
submitted by charliejenkins4 to survivor [link] [comments]

Caterpillar 5: Ever After

part 1 https://www.reddit.com/Wholesomenosleep/comments/8kgviz/caterpilla
part 2 https://www.reddit.com/Wholesomenosleep/comments/8m2ubg/caterpillar_2_transformation/
part 3 https://www.reddit.com/Wholesomenosleep/comments/8o4v1a/caterpillar_3_love_in_bloom/
part 4 https://www.reddit.com/Wholesomenosleep/comments/8qpxeq/caterpillar_4_trial_by_fire/
It’s me, Johnny V and apparently having a trip to the other side (complete with angel wings) inspired me to make the crazy decision to move my family from California, back to Wisconsin. And not someplace nice like Madison, Milwaukee or even Green Bay. No, for whatever reason I was forcing my family back to Beloit, the small town that we fled all those years ago.
While I was breaking my lease over the phone and quitting my nurse position at the Los Angeles hospital my demon-fairy wife, Azzy, picked out a house and paid in cash. Her ability to do that was an impressive feat even for the small town of Beloit. But I knew she wasn't happy. In fact, she was downright pissed.
I was kinda forcing her to remain on speaking terms with Remy, her gay best friend who raped her into unconsciousness back before he surrendered his demon powers. I know I need to be supportive of my wife, but Remy was not the same person who attacked her. He deserved to be forgiven. And he was, technically, the biological father of Lucas, the baby Azzy and I consider to be our son. So the deal was made, he would pay for half the house in exchange for a place to live and time with our son.
It only took Remy and Azzy a few days to pool their money and buy a house in one of Beloit’s nicer neighborhoods. It was a three bedroom, two bath. Azzy and I took the main room, my sister Olivia took the second and the last one was made into a nursery where Remy would stay with Lucas. Remy had given up on being apologetic. But there was no doubt that Lucas loved him. And I loved my son. Part of me felt like I was choosing his happiness over Azzy's. Luckily I had school to distract me.
I enrolled in medical school at University of Wisconsin, Madison. It would require a significant commute, leading my family to ask why I requested we live in the small town of Beloit. It felt right. It was where we needed to be (or maybe I just needed the commute time to clear my head before entering the lion's den.)
Olivia got a job as a substitute teacher for the Beloit school district. She was still working on finishing her degree but her story was so compelling the people in charge decided that it would be good publicity: The remarkable young woman who survived a brutal attack that cost her arm and leg, returning to Beloit to make a difference.
Azzy took a job at Walmart, working as a cashier while Remy stayed home with the baby. My wife made it clear that this was not her choice. She would have preferred Remy to get a job so she could stay at home. But since Remy had no desire to go back to work, it fell to her to get a job. Or else Azzy would be forced to spend the day with her ex-friend, competing for the affection of her only child.
After my first day of classes, I came home to Azzy cooking dinner, Olivia grading papers, and Remy sleeping on the sofa with the baby in his arms. I picked up my son. He giggled as he opened his big blue eyes. “Did you have fun with Uncle Remy?” I had decided that was the ‘title’ I was going with and so far Remy had no objections. I made my way to Azzy and put my arms around her waist.
She flinched. “Get him away from me, the baby smells like Remy.”
“If you need to kill him I’ll help you get rid of the body,” I said jokingly.
“Not funny,” she said as tears streamed down her rosy cheeks. “I can’t be in the same room as my own son without thinking about what that asshole did to me! My childhood best friend raped me in a catatonic state. And you invited him to live with us?! You should have killed him!”
“You’re free to,” I replied in my same jovial tone, hoping to lighten the mood.
Azzy turned to me with a glare. “Do you even love me?”
“You know I do.” I took her hand placing it on Lucas's soft little face.
Our baby smiled as if to assure me I was making the correct decision.
“We need to do the right thing, to be good role models.”
“Role models?” Azzy suddenly stopped her tears. “Not a bad idea.”
I paid it no further mind, simply glad that I managed to calm her. But the next evening I came home to a much stranger sight. Olivia, Remy, and little Lucas were on the front porch. “You might not want to go in there,” Olivia muttered as she organized files in a large box.
“Why?” I pushed open the door to find my wife holding a cocktail party for a diverse group of people all of whom were heavily armed.
“Hi, Johnny,” she said in a cheerful voice. “I’m going to run for city council.”
“Ok...”
“My platform will be revolutionizing and re-envisioning gang warfare.”
“Oh,” that confirmed my suspicions.
“Beloit is a hub, gangs from all over ship their product through here, on the way to more profitable cities. The trouble arises when certain gangs become territorial and then bodies end up in the river. All of which contributes to our city’s crime statistics.”
My first thought was how she managed to get such a diverse group of people to agree to a meeting under one roof. Then a looked closer, they were all young, attractive people. “Are these your father’s friends?”
“His very powerful friends, who are going to help me change the world.”
I rolled my eyes, too tired to argue.
Over the next few days, Azzy quit her job at Walmart to devote more time to her campaign, but that also meant spending more time at the house. Even with her new friends to keep her company she still had to tolerate Remy and the baby.
I'd hoped things would begin to work themselves out. But one night, a week later, the situation came to a head, and not in the way I would have expected.
I awoke to my son’s cries. The sound was terrifying as if he was screaming for his life. I ran into the room to find Lucas on the bed kicking and screaming. I didn't even bother to turn on the lights. By the light of the window, I scooped up my terrified son, rocking him in my arms. That was when I stepped on Remy's arm.
Remy was on the floor, his body was in spasm, he might have even been foaming at the mouth. Gripped in his hand was an empty plastic bag that smelled like bleach, next to a mostly full bottle of vodka. What had been in the bag; powder, pills?
“Are you fucking serious?” I cried. I was sick to my stomach. How could he Remy do this? How could he hurt our family? Then I remembered Azzy’s father’s friends.
I reached for the closet landline phone to dial 911. Upon hearing the words “drug overdose” the operator informed me that an ambulance was on its way and for me to stay with Remy until they arrived. Rocking my son in my arms, I knelt down beside Remy’s shivering body. “What the fuck, man?”
“I-I’m sorry,” he gasped, reaching for my hand. “I just needed something to help me sleep.”
"You have Lucas, you have my family!"
Remy's closed his eyes as he shook his head "Everything hurts."
Suddenly I could hear Azzy giggling. She entered the room and took the baby from my arms. “Come to Mommy. I’ll make you a bottle.”
“Azzy?” I wanted to follow her but Remy was convulsing.
Luckily Olivia appeared. “I’ll stay with Remy, you need to talk to your wife.”
I thanked her and hurried to the kitchen. Azzy was calmly feeding the baby. She coo-ed and stoked his chubby cheeks. “You’re Mommy’s little angel.”
“What did you do?” I whispered, not wanting to upset Lucas.
“Funny, I could have sworn someone said I was free to kill that bastard,” Azzy replied with a gleeful smile.
“What did you do,” I repeated.
Azzy shrugged. “I just told my new friends about what Remy did to me. So if my ex-friend came to any of them asking for a ‘free sample’, to make it extra special.”
"And you knew he would..."
"Because he's a f-ing loser and always has been!" Her tone caused Lucas to cry as she forced the bottle into his mouth. “The only reason you’re protecting him is out of some promise you made to the ghost of his dead boyfriend! Let him die. I’ll take care of my son!”
I put my arms around my wife and child. “Our son.” I could feel the warmth of the bottle against my skin, as Azzy cried on my shoulder. “I love you, my devotion is only to you. If you don’t want Remy here I will make him move out but you need to remember the person he is now, was not the person who hurt you.”
“That’s what’s even more messed up. The old Remy was my best friend. I knew him for years!”
“But over time his mind became corrupted by power.”
My words caused Azzy to pause, looking into my eyes. “And you don’t want that to happen to me.”
Now I was the one crying. “You are so strong but so angry.”
Azzy nodded. “Just like my father was.”
“Like anyone who works in retail,” I said with a laugh. “I will stand by you no matter what you choose to do. But I want to plant the seed of forgiveness.
You don’t have to forgive him, I certainly don’t, but you can’t just murder your problems away."
“I can’t?” she asked with a smile.
“You shouldn’t.” I smiled back and kissed her cheek. “But I’ll love you no matter what. I promise.”
Remy was taken to the hospital where he was put on dialysis. He was suffering from severe blood poisoning, and it was entirely possible he would never walk again.
For the next few weeks, Olivia and I visited him as often as our schedules would allow. She even decided to decline any substitute teaching jobs until Remy’s fate was decided.
“He wants a DNR,” Olivia told me as we sipped coffee in the hospital cafeteria.
“Do you think it’ll come to that?” A 'Do not resuscitate' form was usually reserved for patients without hope.
"Remy ingested some really bad shit, the damage is pretty severe. Even if he survives, what could he do with the rest of his life?"
"Says the employed substitute teacher missing two limbs," I muttered with a smirk.
"But I have a fully functioning brain."
"Yeah,” I sighed.
"Well, Nurse Jamie said that maybe bringing Lucas by would lift Remy's spirits."
“Jamie?”
“You haven't met Jamie, the day nurse? He is the coolest!”
"I guess our paths just never crossed. “ with my upcoming residency schedule my time was limited to nights and weekends. And since Remy was not in the ICU the ratio of nurses to patients appeared to be one for every dozen or so. But Jamie sounded like someone special. “Do you think Jamie could put in a good word with Azzy?”
Olivia shrugged. “If we could here get her down here.”
Azzy had taken to spending more and more time with her new friends, keeping Lucas with her at all times.
We returned to Remy’s room. When I arrived at eight he had been asleep, hence why Olivia and I went for coffee. As we opened the door I saw a tall African American man with long braids, strumming a guitar. Although he was clearly wearing hospital scrubs, he looked like an artist, and part of me expected him to speak with a Caribbean accent. That was not the case.
He sang soft and slow, his voice deep, seductive and distinctly American.
"Sweet love's showin' us a heavenly light
Never seen such a beautiful sight
See love glowing on us every night
I know forever we'll be doing it
Sweet love's showin' us a heavenly light
I've never seen such a beautiful sight
See love glowing on us every night
I know forever we'll be doing it..."
(*lyrics- Whenever I Call You Friend, by Kenny Loggins)
Remy’s hand was placed on the body of the guitar. His eyes were closed, but I could tell by his movement, he was savoring the vibration of the music.
“Hello, you must by Johnny,” James said with a slight southern twang. “Your sister has told me so much about you. I’m James Proudstar, but my friends call me Jamie.”
"Hi." I shook his hand, unsure what to say. Olivia was right, there was something really unique about him. "Are you a Christian?"
"Why, because I’m a brother, from Atlanta, who can sing?" He asked with a wide grin.
I shrugged nervously. "You give off a Christian preacher vibe."
Jamie laughed. “I would hope not.”
That caused Remy to smile. "You've got a mouth like a preacher." Remy blinked his eyes slowly as Jamie’s lips met his. The kiss was tender and sweet.
I coughed to clear my throat. “Jamie, could I speak to you outside? One medical professional to another?"
"Sure, man..." Jamie said as he slowly pulled away from Remy's embrace, and followed me out the door. “What’s up?"
"Olivia told me about the DNR."
Jamie's expression changed from bliss to anger. "That’s not going to happen, not on my watch."
"Do you know about what happened between Remy and my wife?"
Jamie nodded. “A cousin of mine went through something similar. Her boyfriend was high on meth when he beat her into a coma."
"Did she ever forgive him?"
Jamie sighed. "They had three kids together. Forgiveness was the right thing- the necessary thing to do. But only after he got clean and a few years of therapy for both of them. My point is, I’ve seen pain; someone so blinded by anger that all they can see is what hurts. Do they have a right to hurt- yes. Does your wife have the right to hate Remy with every fiber of her being? Absolutely. But where will that get her?"
I had to agree. Remy repaid his debt, at least in my opinion. “Do you think you could convince Azzy to visit him?”
"I could try."
I took out my phone and switched to speaker mode as I dialed Azzy.
She picked up on the first ring. “Hey, Johnny.”
“Hey. Guess where I am?”
“Visiting Remy: you have a break in your classes, where else would you be," she said in a clearly annoyed tone.
"I’d like you to speak to his nurse."
"Fine."
"Hello Azzy, my name is James Proudstar."
"Your name is what?" Azzy paused and chuckled. "James Proudstar, like the Marvel character?"
It was only then I realized how strange his name was.
Jamie only smiled. “You can’t change what you are.”
"And what are you?" she asked.
“An angel, a superhero. I’m what happens when you ascend; leave behind who you were, to become the person you were meant to be.” He placed a hand on my shoulder and nodded. “So, Miss Azzy, do you think you can find it in your heart to pay your old friend a visit?”
"Yeah, I guess," she replied in a meek voice.
Azzy arrived twenty minutes later with entourage in tow. “You don’t have to go in there alone,” said a punk Asian girl with a massive dragon tattoo on her arm.
Azzy held baby Lucas close. He appeared to be sleeping on her shoulder. “I won’t be alone.” To my surprise, she reached for my hand. “Johnny, You ready?”
“Um, yeah. Of course.” I took her hand, and lead her through the door. "Remy, Olivia look who finally made it."
“Hey, Azzy.” Remy's voice was breaking. “How goes the campaign?”
“Good,” Azzy’s replied as she took a seat beside him. “Do you remember the first time we met?”
Remy nodded and took a labored breath. “W-We w-were seven, and your dad took you to Hawaii.”
“Because your dad requested that he bring along a babysitter so they could party all night long." Azzy laughed as she wiped tears from her eyes. "That's what Dad told me. I remember getting off the plane, and this big breasted Barbie doll of a woman introduced me to a little island boy with long hair and chubby cheeks."
Remy sighed. "Nanny Clara: she was a nanny the way a... " He blinked a few times, appearing to have lost his train of thought. "She was a nanny the way audio books are still considered books..." Remy chuckled at his own joke.
Azzy nodded. “I remember."
"You and me, while our dads got laid and wasted, we stayed at the hotel arcade playing Street Fighter and Gauntlet Legends. When it got late, you snuck into the hotel kitchen and stole all the food you could fit in your backpack.”
“You picked the lock to the roof so we could sleep under the stars.” Azzy put both arms around Lucas, holding him like a teddy bear as she sobbed. “What happened to that sweet little boy?”
“Life happened; my father, my sexuality, my f-ed up choices.” Remy’s hand was trembling as he reached for her. “But you were always there for me. Azzy you were like a sister to me."
Azzy caressed his hand, stroking his palm like a fortune teller. “I don’t forgive you.”
Remy nodded weakly. “I know.”
“But I love you.”
There was a long silence. Remy started to weep as hard as Azzy was. “I’m so sorry.”
“I know.” Azzy pursed her lips, she rocked the baby in her arms as if to comfort herself. “But I don’t want you in my home. If you want me to give you back your portion of the money-”
“Of course not, I would never do that to you. Consider it a gift for your family.”
Azzy gave Remy's hand a firm squeeze. “You are my family.”
She turned the baby to face Remy, his sweet blue eyes looking at Remy with nothing but love.
“I want you in my son’s life. I want my son to know the person I knew.”
Lucas was reaching out to Remy it was clear that he wanted to be in Remy’s arms. So I guided Azzy’s hands to place the baby on Remy’s chest.
Lucas giggled and cooed.
Remy patted his little back. “I love you too.”
From that day forward, time seemed to fly by. The next month Azzy, of course, ended up winning her bid for city council. During her downtime, she was a doting mother. but she never gave up her powers. And I never again broached the subject.
On little Lucas’s first birthday we celebrated in style at the Ho-Chunk Indian casino. The Ho-Chuck nation had been waiting nearly a decade to get a resort open in Beloit. The council always voted them down, saying things like “a casino in town will cause gambling addiction, split families- our town is too wholesome for that!”
Azzy knew the real reason: the Ho-Chunk were asking for use of land that they were not entitled to and the people who owned the land thought that a better, more wholesome option might come along. But like I said, it’d been over ten years. Now, thanks to Azzy the land was theirs and they would be breaking ground later that month.
I don’t know what she did, or what strings she pulled. I would like to think she simply baked the governor and other council members a vegan chocolate cake on par with the one she made today. But looking around at the array of armed men and women drinking at my son’s party, I can assume “non-violence” was not the chosen route.
I looked over and Remy and Jamie. Remy walked with a cane, struggling to maintain his balance. Jamie lifted his face and kissed Remy's lips before taking a sip of red wine. Their happiness was contagious or maybe that was just the benefit of being in a relationship with an angel.
After Remy was discharged he'd moved in with Jamie. His condition was not as debilitating as Olivia and I first thought; Remy could walk, feed himself, etc. He could even be trusted to babysit Lucas.
I learned that Jamie grew up in Atlanta, but his mother moved to Beloit as her ‘calling’. Apparently, she had been an elder spirit working as a social worker. But she passed away due to stage four ovarian cancer. Or “... called back to the home office,” as Jamie said with a chuckle the first time my family visited.
He inherited a house that he shared with Candy, his late mother’s Chipit. Chipit apparently stands for Chihuahua /Pitbull, which is as terrifying as it sounds. At least it was to me. The large-eared guard dog seemed to have the demeanor of an over-caffeinated Chihuahua with the roar of an angry pit bull. But Candy loved Lucas from the moment they first met.
Lucas had taken his first steps at around eight months (of course he still preferred to be carried,) but at the sight of the dog, he squealed with glee practically begging Azzy to put him down. My chubby little toddler had waddled up to the dog, giving it a big hug.
That moment is seared into my mind because that was the first time I saw my son’s wings. His shirt lifted revealing plant-like appendages similar to Azzy’s. I watched as the thin green branch stroked the dog’s fur before quickly retracting.
I dared not mention it to Azzy. Although I'm pretty sure she knew,
Now, at his high-class casino party, Lucas was being carried around by Azzy, wearing a little blue suit with a jacket. I could see his shoulders quivering; his wings want to come out. His body wanted to show off who he really was.
I made my way to the open bar and ordered a shot of vodka on the rocks. Drink in hand, I faced the window looking out into the beautiful Wisconsin sky. Then I felt a tree branch stroke my lower back. “Hey, Azzy.”
“Hey,” she said sweetly, holding a glass of red wine. “So what do you think? Am I using my powers for good?”
I put my arm around her waist, I could feel her wings retracting. “I’m proud of you.”
“I’m proud of you too.” Her smile felt genuine. “I mean, with you starting your residency. You act like it’s no big deal.”
To me, it wasn’t a big deal. I was on my way to becoming a pediatrician. It would be a nice calm job, unlike my work as a nurse. I would not be on call 24/7, so I would have plenty of time to be a good husband and father.
Still looking out the window I could feel Azzy’s arm around my waist. She rested her head on my shoulder. “So when are you taking me to Alaska?”
“Huh? You remember that?" I had not thought about my promise or even my tattoo for a while. I discreetly looked at my reflection in the window, with the top part of my shirt unbuttoned down to my collar, I could see my upper-chest. The image, Azzy's mark, was gone.
I could feel my wife's wings touch my back, the branches moving under my shirt to caress my skin.
I flexed my shoulders, stretching my back. A warmth caressed my body as if I was pulling on a jacket.
Azzy giggled.
"What?"
Both Azzy and Lucas were looking at me with huge smiles. "I love your wings."
"You can see them?"
"So can Lucas." She untucked the baby's shirt allowing his little vine wings to flow from under the bottom of his shirt. Azzy put her arm around me, positioning the baby between us.
I glanced at our reflection in the window. We were the ideal, stereotypical family photo. But there was something was forming above our heads. At the spot where Azzy's wings touched mine, Lucas's wings seemed to come through the middle to create a rather cute five-petaled flower.
"A wood violet," Azzy said whispered. "The state flower of Wisconsin."
I didn't know what that meant. Was I standing next to the future governor or maybe even president? As the old saying goes, 'with great power comes great responsibility.' I found my calling. I would be responsible for keeping my family on the right path. “I love you.”
“I love you too, Johnny.”
https://dourdan.wordpress.com/
submitted by dourdan to Wholesomenosleep [link] [comments]

"Out-of-towners" Guide: Other Attractions/Gameday

First off, if you haven't seen the original post yet, check it out here. This will detail the project, as well as explain why this will be useful.
So, I need help with the following portions of the guide:
Topics that fall under gameday are ones such as: ticketing/security/finding your seats, seat advice, food in the stadium, etc. This is the largest part of the guide, and I can't write this alone because I have never been to UoP Stadium myself.
Also, this is what I have so far, let me know what you think and if I should make any edits:
If you’re reading, you’re probably traveling to Phoenix (actually Glendale) to watch your team play the Cardinals. Well, i’ve got bad news for you: sold out. Not really, but use this guide to help you plan your trip and get the most out of your trip to the desert.
So, how do I get to the city in the middle of the desert that somebody named Phoenix?
There are a variety of ways to get into Phoenix:
Major Highways: I-10, I-17, US-60
Las Vegas to Stadium: 4 Hours, 22 Minutes
Los Angeles to Stadium: 5 Hours, 25 Minutes
Flagstaff to Stadium: 2 Hours, 5 Minutes
Albuquerque to Stadium: 6 Hours, 45 Minutes
San Diego to Stadium- 5 Hours, 8 Minutes
Where should I stay during my visit?
Renaissance Phoenix Glendale Hotel & Spa
Staybridge Suites Phoenix-Glendale
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Phoenix-Glendale
Hampton Inn & Suites Phoenix Glendale-Westgate
Springhill Suites Phoenix Glendale Sports & Entertainment District
For those of you on a tight budget, you have options as well:
Motel 6 Glendale
Days Inn Peoria Glendale Area
What is there to eat around the Glendale area?
I’ll turn this one over to u/Deets327:
Food near the stadium: Westgate Entertainment District is just north of University of Phoenix Stadium (easy walking distance), and holds several restaurants and places to have a drink.
The good: Yard House. A touch on the pricey side, but great above-average quality pub food and classier entrees. Huge selection of beer. Tough to get a table on gameday.
Whiskey Rose. Sports bar atmosphere with slightly country aesthetic. Not much in the way of beer choices, but good gameday specials and solid appetizers. Really cute waitresses.
Saddle Ranch. Lots of soccer moms cutting loose on the weekends. Decent food, okay beers and highly-country atmosphere. Decent enough if you can ignore the music.
Hell's Half Acre. Good selection of beer, waitresses dance on poles, good gameday specials on shots and beers. Busy on gameday. Country/Metal atmosphere.
Bar Louie. Pretty standard fare. Decent back-up if the wait for Yard House is too long.
Mama Gina's. Decent pizza and Italian fare. A little too heavy for gameday in my opinion, but a decent enough, family-friendly atmosphere if you're bringing the kids.
Salt Taco y Tequila. More upper-class than Calico Jacks (see below), with solid margarita selection. Less a place to grab a quick bite and more of a sit-down atmosphere. Good food.
The bad: Calico Jacks. Shitty beer selection, rushed wait staff and average-at-best Mexican food. Avoid it on the weekends, as it turns into a loud, crowded dance club.
McFadden's. Faux-Irish "pub" that also turns into a dance club on the weekends. Okay beer selection, but overpriced. Caters very strongly to away fans on gameday.
u/smashingpimp01 also strongly recommended Carolina's
I'm just going to add, last year I flew to Arizona and asked in this subbreddit what places to check out. Someone recommended Carolinas for Mexican food. It was life changing. Me and my cousin still talk about it. So much so that we actually added an extra day to this years trip just to go there since they are closed on Sunday.
Also, according to u/cardinals1996, McFadden's has been known to steal their customer's credit card information.
Alright, I know how to get there, where to stay, and where to eat. So, where can I buy my tickets?
Hint: Buy them in advance.
Stadium Website
Seating Chart
StubHub
TicketMaster
SeatGeek
Make sure to buy your tickets well in advance of the season so you can have them ready, and use caution when buying from a separate dealer and/or an individual. People may be trying to scam you.
Well, the logistics of my trip are set, but I have a few extra days in the area set aside to explore. What should I do?
u/cwdBeebs had some ideas:
It kind of depends on how long you are staying for and how you are getting here. If you are making a road trip out, a lot of people love Sedona. It's between here and Flagstaff. I'm on mobile and can't link but just do an image search on it. If you like outdoors stuff, you'll probably live it. The Indian Casinos are pretty nice too. A few of them are quite a bit more than just a casino. Talking Stick Resort and Wildhorse Resort are my favorites. Talking Stick also has a pretty good golf course. I've lived in Arizona my whole life so if anyone has any questions or wants travel tips, feel free to PM me or ask here.
Gameday! How to I get to the stadium so I can watch my team get demolished by the clearly better team, and leave disappointed?
IMPORTANT
For anyone that hasn't been to a game before, please PLEASE know that they will not allow any purses inside the stadium. The only ones they allow are clear ones. My girlfriend basically uses what I call a big wallet when we go. Anyway, you will have to walk back to your car (odds are that'll be a long ass walk btw) and leave it there.
-u/cwdBeebs
If you are traveling to the stadium, make sure to read this guide to get some basic rules/tips/etiquette for your visit to the stadium.
Some important parts of the guide include:
  • Aisle Policy- Policy that states fans returning from food area, restrooms, etc., should wait for on-field play to end before returning to their seats to maximize the enjoyment for all fans. this policy is also referred to as "Wait For The Whistle."
  • No Pets- Only service/guide/signal animals will be allowed to enter the stadium
  • Bag Policy (READ THIS): In accordance with the NFL’s Public Safety Policy, fans can bring one of the following approved bags inside University of Phoenix Stadium: 12” x 6” x 12” clear plastic bag, or; 1-Gallon Plastic Freezer Bag, or; Small Clutch bad no larger than 4.5” x 6.5” in size. Fans should be prepared to open their bags for inspection and may be asked by security staff to shift and possibly remove the contents. Non-approved bags will be denied entry into the stadium and fans will be asked to return the bag to their vehicle or dispose of it. There are no lockers outside of the stadium to store items nor can any items be held by staff members.
  • Restrooms- There are 50 restrooms in the stadium, and most are clearly marked
  • Smoking- In accordance with the Smoke-Free Arizona Act, University of Phoenix Stadium is a non-smoking facility. There are three designated smoking locations on the main concourse located beyond the Gate 2 exterior gate and outside the exit doors at Sections 102 and 137. Fans on the Club level, Loft corridor and terrace level can proceed to the designated smoking locations on the north ramp. Please remember to the keep the north ramp walk aisles clear for other fans and smoke only in the designated areas. Fans outside the stadium are reminded that they must be at least 20 feet away from any stadium entrance to smoke. E-cigarettes are not permitted inside University of Phoenix Stadium. Fans that do not comply with the smoking policy inside the stadium are subject to ejection.
Make sure to read the guide for more information on basic rules for the stadium.
Where do I tailgate before the game?
The Great Lawn is a great place to tailgate pre-game.
Also, if you have more questions, post a thread in this subreddit and i'm sure people will be more than happy to assist you wih your trip.
submitted by sssl3 to AZCardinals [link] [comments]

"Out of Towners" Guide: Completed guide

First off, if you haven't seen the original post yet, check it out here. This will detail the project, as well as explain why this will be useful.
So, i've created the whole guide, along with input from you all, and the guide is finished and copied in below. Please alert me to any misinformation, grammar errors, formatting issues, or information that could be added.
If you’re reading, you’re probably traveling to Phoenix (actually Glendale) to watch your team play the Cardinals. Well, i’ve got bad news for you: sold out. Not really, but use this guide to help you plan your trip and get the most out of your trip to the desert.
So, how do I get to the city in the middle of the desert that somebody named Phoenix?
There are a variety of ways to get into Phoenix:
Major Highways: I-10, I-17, US-60
Las Vegas to Stadium: 4 Hours, 22 Minutes
Los Angeles to Stadium: 5 Hours, 25 Minutes
Flagstaff to Stadium: 2 Hours, 5 Minutes
Albuquerque to Stadium: 6 Hours, 45 Minutes
San Diego to Stadium- 5 Hours, 8 Minutes
Where should I stay during my visit?
Renaissance Phoenix Glendale Hotel & Spa
Staybridge Suites Phoenix-Glendale
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Phoenix-Glendale
Hampton Inn & Suites Phoenix Glendale-Westgate
Springhill Suites Phoenix Glendale Sports & Entertainment District
For those of you on a tight budget, you have options as well:
Motel 6 Glendale
Days Inn Peoria Glendale Area
What is there to eat around the Glendale area?
I’ll turn this one over to u/Deets327:
Food near the stadium: Westgate Entertainment District is just north of University of Phoenix Stadium (easy walking distance), and holds several restaurants and places to have a drink.
The good: Yard House. A touch on the pricey side, but great above-average quality pub food and classier entrees. Huge selection of beer. Tough to get a table on gameday.
Whiskey Rose. Sports bar atmosphere with slightly country aesthetic. Not much in the way of beer choices, but good gameday specials and solid appetizers. Really cute waitresses.
Saddle Ranch. Lots of soccer moms cutting loose on the weekends. Decent food, okay beers and highly-country atmosphere. Decent enough if you can ignore the music.
Hell's Half Acre. Good selection of beer, waitresses dance on poles, good gameday specials on shots and beers. Busy on gameday. Country/Metal atmosphere.
Bar Louie. Pretty standard fare. Decent back-up if the wait for Yard House is too long.
Mama Gina's. Decent pizza and Italian fare. A little too heavy for gameday in my opinion, but a decent enough, family-friendly atmosphere if you're bringing the kids.
Salt Taco y Tequila. More upper-class than Calico Jacks (see below), with solid margarita selection. Less a place to grab a quick bite and more of a sit-down atmosphere. Good food.
The bad: Calico Jacks. Shitty beer selection, rushed wait staff and average-at-best Mexican food. Avoid it on the weekends, as it turns into a loud, crowded dance club.
McFadden's. Faux-Irish "pub" that also turns into a dance club on the weekends. Okay beer selection, but overpriced. Caters very strongly to away fans on gameday.
u/smashingpimp01 also strongly recommended Carolina's
I'm just going to add, last year I flew to Arizona and asked in this subbreddit what places to check out. Someone recommended Carolinas for Mexican food. It was life changing. Me and my cousin still talk about it. So much so that we actually added an extra day to this years trip just to go there since they are closed on Sunday.
Also, according to u/cardinals1996, McFadden's has been known to steal their customer's credit card information.
Alright, I know how to get there, where to stay, and where to eat. So, where can I buy my tickets?
Hint: Buy them in advance.
Stadium Website
Seating Chart
StubHub
TicketMaster
SeatGeek
Make sure to buy your tickets well in advance of the season so you can have them ready, and use caution when buying from a separate dealer and/or an individual. People may be trying to scam you.
Well, the logistics of my trip are set, but I have a few extra days in the area set aside to explore. What should I do?
u/cwdBeebs had some ideas:
It kind of depends on how long you are staying for and how you are getting here. If you are making a road trip out, a lot of people love Sedona. It's between here and Flagstaff. I'm on mobile and can't link but just do an image search on it. If you like outdoors stuff, you'll probably live it. The Indian Casinos are pretty nice too. A few of them are quite a bit more than just a casino. Talking Stick Resort and Wildhorse Resort are my favorites. Talking Stick also has a pretty good golf course. I've lived in Arizona my whole life so if anyone has any questions or wants travel tips, feel free to PM me or ask here.
Gameday! How do I get to the stadium so I can watch my team get demolished by the clearly better team, and leave disappointed?
IMPORTANT
For anyone that hasn't been to a game before, please PLEASE know that they will not allow any purses inside the stadium. The only ones they allow are clear ones. My girlfriend basically uses what I call a big wallet when we go. Anyway, you will have to walk back to your car (odds are that'll be a long ass walk btw) and leave it there.
-u/cwdBeebs
If you are traveling to the stadium, make sure to read this guide to get some basic rules/tips/etiquette for your visit to the stadium.
Some important parts of the guide include:
  • Aisle Policy- Policy that states fans returning from food area, restrooms, etc., should wait for on-field play to end before returning to their seats to maximize the enjoyment for all fans. this policy is also referred to as "Wait For The Whistle."
  • No Pets- Only service/guide/signal animals will be allowed to enter the stadium
  • Bag Policy (READ THIS): In accordance with the NFL’s Public Safety Policy, fans can bring one of the following approved bags inside University of Phoenix Stadium: 12” x 6” x 12” clear plastic bag, or; 1-Gallon Plastic Freezer Bag, or; Small Clutch bad no larger than 4.5” x 6.5” in size. Fans should be prepared to open their bags for inspection and may be asked by security staff to shift and possibly remove the contents. Non-approved bags will be denied entry into the stadium and fans will be asked to return the bag to their vehicle or dispose of it. There are no lockers outside of the stadium to store items nor can any items be held by staff members.
  • Restrooms- There are 50 restrooms in the stadium, and most are clearly marked
  • Smoking- In accordance with the Smoke-Free Arizona Act, University of Phoenix Stadium is a non-smoking facility. There are three designated smoking locations on the main concourse located beyond the Gate 2 exterior gate and outside the exit doors at Sections 102 and 137. Fans on the Club level, Loft corridor and terrace level can proceed to the designated smoking locations on the north ramp. Please remember to the keep the north ramp walk aisles clear for other fans and smoke only in the designated areas. Fans outside the stadium are reminded that they must be at least 20 feet away from any stadium entrance to smoke. E-cigarettes are not permitted inside University of Phoenix Stadium. Fans that do not comply with the smoking policy inside the stadium are subject to ejection.
Make sure to read the guide for more information on basic rules for the stadium.
Where do I tailgate before the game?
The Great Lawn is a great place to tailgate pre-game.
Also, if you have more questions, post a thread in this subreddit and i'm sure people will be more than happy to assist you with your trip.
submitted by sssl3 to AZCardinals [link] [comments]

Caterpillar 5: Ever After

Part 1- https://www.reddit.com/nosleep/comments/8k8e56/caterpilla
Part 2- https://www.reddit.com/nosleep/comments/8m2zw7/caterpillar_2_transformation/
Part 3- https://www.reddit.com/nosleep/comments/8o4ual/caterpillar_3_love_in_bloom/
Part 4- https://www.reddit.com/nosleep/comments/8qq002/caterpillar_4_trial_by_fire/
It’s me, Johnny V and apparently having a trip to the other side (complete with angel wings) inspired me to make the crazy decision to move my family from California, back to Wisconsin. And not someplace nice like Madison, Milwaukee or even Green Bay. No, for whatever reason I was forcing my family back to Beloit, the small town that we fled all those years ago.
While I was breaking my lease over the phone and quitting my nurse position at the Los Angeles hospital my demon-fairy wife, Azzy, picked out a house and paid in cash. Her ability to do that was an impressive feat even for the small town of Beloit. But I knew she wasn't happy. In fact, she was downright pissed.
I was kinda forcing her to remain on speaking terms with Remy, her gay best friend who raped her into unconsciousness back before he surrendered his demon powers. I know I need to be supportive of my wife, but Remy was not the same person who attacked her. He deserved to be forgiven. And he was, technically, the biological father of Lucas, the baby Azzy and I consider to be our son. So the deal was made, he would pay for half the house in exchange for a place to live and time with our son.
It only took Remy and Azzy a few days to pool their money and buy a house in one of Beloit’s nicer neighborhoods. It was a three bedroom, two bath. Azzy and I took the main room, my sister Olivia took the second and the last one was made into a nursery where Remy would stay with Lucas. Remy had given up on being apologetic. But there was no doubt that Lucas loved him. And I loved my son. Part of me felt like I was choosing his happiness over Azzy's. Luckily I had school to distract me.
I enrolled in medical school at University of Wisconsin, Madison. It would require a significant commute, leading my family to ask why I requested we live in the small town of Beloit. It felt right. It was where we needed to be (or maybe I just needed the commute time to clear my head before entering the lion's den.)
Olivia got a job as a substitute teacher for the Beloit school district. She was still working on finishing her degree but her story was so compelling the people in charge decided that it would be good publicity: The remarkable young woman who survived a brutal attack that cost her arm and leg, returning to Beloit to make a difference.
Azzy took a job at Walmart, working as a cashier while Remy stayed home with the baby. My wife made it clear that this was not her choice. She would have preferred Remy to get a job so she could stay at home. But since Remy had no desire to go back to work, it fell to her to get a job. Or else Azzy would be forced to spend the day with her ex-friend, competing for the affection of her only child.
After my first day of classes, I came home to Azzy cooking dinner, Olivia grading papers, and Remy sleeping on the sofa with the baby in his arms. I picked up my son. He giggled as he opened his big blue eyes. “Did you have fun with Uncle Remy?” I had decided that was the ‘title’ I was going with and so far Remy had no objections. I made my way to Azzy and put my arms around her waist.
She flinched. “Get him away from me, the baby smells like Remy.”
“If you need to kill him I’ll help you get rid of the body,” I said jokingly.
“Not funny,” she said as tears streamed down her rosy cheeks. “I can’t be in the same room as my own son without thinking about what that asshole did to me! My childhood best friend raped me in a catatonic state. And you invited him to live with us?! You should have killed him!”
“You’re free to,” I replied in my same jovial tone, hoping to lighten the mood.
Azzy turned to me with a glare. “Do you even love me?”
“You know I do.” I took her hand placing it on Lucas's soft little face.
Our baby smiled as if to assure me I was making the correct decision.
“We need to do the right thing, to be good role models.”
“Role models?” Azzy suddenly stopped her tears. “Not a bad idea.”
I paid it no further mind, simply glad that I managed to calm her. But the next evening I came home to a much stranger sight. Olivia, Remy, and little Lucas were on the front porch. “You might not want to go in there,” Olivia muttered as she organized files in a large box.
“Why?” I pushed open the door to find my wife holding a cocktail party for a diverse group of people all of whom were heavily armed.
“Hi, Johnny,” she said in a cheerful voice. “I’m going to run for city council.”
“Ok...”
“My platform will be revolutionizing and re-envisioning gang warfare.”
“Oh,” that confirmed my suspicions.
“Beloit is a hub, gangs from all over ship their product through here, on the way to more profitable cities. The trouble arises when certain gangs become territorial and then bodies end up in the river. All of which contributes to our city’s crime statistics.”
My first thought was how she managed to get such a diverse group of people to agree to a meeting under one roof. Then a looked closer, they were all young, attractive people. “Are these your father’s friends?”
“His very powerful friends, who are going to help me change the world.”
I rolled my eyes, too tired to argue.
Over the next few days, Azzy quit her job at Walmart to devote more time to her campaign, but that also meant spending more time at the house. Even with her new friends to keep her company she still had to tolerate Remy and the baby.
I'd hoped things would begin to work themselves out. But one night, a week later, the situation came to a head, and not in the way I would have expected.
I awoke to my son’s cries. The sound was terrifying as if he was screaming for his life. I ran into the room to find Lucas on the bed kicking and screaming. I didn't even bother to turn on the lights. By the light of the window, I scooped up my terrified son, rocking him in my arms. That was when I stepped on Remy's arm.
Remy was on the floor, his body was in spasm, he might have even been foaming at the mouth. Gripped in his hand was an empty plastic bag that smelled like bleach, next to a mostly full bottle of vodka. What had been in the bag; powder, pills?
“Are you fucking serious?” I cried. I was sick to my stomach. How could he Remy do this? How could he hurt our family? Then I remembered Azzy’s father’s friends.
I reached for the closet landline phone to dial 911. Upon hearing the words “drug overdose” the operator informed me that an ambulance was on its way and for me to stay with Remy until they arrived. Rocking my son in my arms, I knelt down beside Remy’s shivering body. “What the fuck, man?”
“I-I’m sorry,” he gasped, reaching for my hand. “I just needed something to help me sleep.”
"You have Lucas, you have my family!"
Remy's closed his eyes as he shook his head "Everything hurts."
Suddenly I could hear Azzy giggling. She entered the room and took the baby from my arms. “Come to Mommy. I’ll make you a bottle.”
“Azzy?” I wanted to follow her but Remy was convulsing.
Luckily Olivia appeared. “I’ll stay with Remy, you need to talk to your wife.”
I thanked her and hurried to the kitchen. Azzy was calmly feeding the baby. She coo-ed and stoked his chubby cheeks. “You’re Mommy’s little angel.”
“What did you do?” I whispered, not wanting to upset Lucas.
“Funny, I could have sworn someone said I was free to kill that bastard,” Azzy replied with a gleeful smile.
“What did you do,” I repeated.
Azzy shrugged. “I just told my new friends about what Remy did to me. So if my ex-friend came to any of them asking for a ‘free sample’, to make it extra special.”
"And you knew he would..."
"Because he's a f-ing loser and always has been!" Her tone caused Lucas to cry as she forced the bottle into his mouth. “The only reason you’re protecting him is out of some promise you made to the ghost of his dead boyfriend! Let him die. I’ll take care of my son!”
I put my arms around my wife and child. “Our son.” I could feel the warmth of the bottle against my skin, as Azzy cried on my shoulder. “I love you, my devotion is only to you. If you don’t want Remy here I will make him move out but you need to remember the person he is now, was not the person who hurt you.”
“That’s what’s even more messed up. The old Remy was my best friend. I knew him for years!”
“But over time his mind became corrupted by power.”
My words caused Azzy to pause, looking into my eyes. “And you don’t want that to happen to me.”
Now I was the one crying. “You are so strong but so angry.”
Azzy nodded. “Just like my father was.”
“Like anyone who works in retail,” I said with a laugh. “I will stand by you no matter what you choose to do. But I want to plant the seed of forgiveness.
You don’t have to forgive him, I certainly don’t, but you can’t just murder your problems away."
“I can’t?” she asked with a smile.
“You shouldn’t.” I smiled back and kissed her cheek. “But I’ll love you no matter what. I promise.”
Remy was taken to the hospital where he was put on dialysis. He was suffering from severe blood poisoning, and it was entirely possible he would never walk again.
For the next few weeks, Olivia and I visited him as often as our schedules would allow. She even decided to decline any substitute teaching jobs until Remy’s fate was decided.
“He wants a DNR,” Olivia told me as we sipped coffee in the hospital cafeteria.
“Do you think it’ll come to that?” A 'Do not resuscitate' form was usually reserved for patients without hope.
"Remy ingested some really bad shit, the damage is pretty severe. Even if he survives, what could he do with the rest of his life?"
"Says the employed substitute teacher missing two limbs," I muttered with a smirk.
"But I have a fully functioning brain."
"Yeah,” I sighed.
"Well, Nurse Jamie said that maybe bringing Lucas by would lift Remy's spirits."
“Jamie?”
“You haven't met Jamie, the day nurse? He is the coolest!”
"I guess our paths just never crossed. “ with my upcoming residency schedule my time was limited to nights and weekends. And since Remy was not in the ICU the ratio of nurses to patients appeared to be one for every dozen or so. But Jamie sounded like someone special. “Do you think Jamie could put in a good word with Azzy?”
Olivia shrugged. “If we could here get her down here.”
Azzy had taken to spending more and more time with her new friends, keeping Lucas with her at all times.
We returned to Remy’s room. When I arrived at eight he had been asleep, hence why Olivia and I went for coffee. As we opened the door I saw a tall African American man with long braids, strumming a guitar. Although he was clearly wearing hospital scrubs, he looked like an artist, and part of me expected him to speak with a Caribbean accent. That was not the case.
He sang soft and slow, his voice deep, seductive and distinctly American.
"Sweet love's showin' us a heavenly light
Never seen such a beautiful sight
See love glowing on us every night
I know forever we'll be doing it
Sweet love's showin' us a heavenly light
I've never seen such a beautiful sight
See love glowing on us every night
I know forever we'll be doing it..."
(*lyrics- Whenever I Call You Friend, by Kenny Loggins)
Remy’s hand was placed on the body of the guitar. His eyes were closed, but I could tell by his movement, he was savoring the vibration of the music.
“Hello, you must by Johnny,” James said with a slight southern twang. “Your sister has told me so much about you. I’m James Proudstar, but my friends call me Jamie.”
"Hi." I shook his hand, unsure what to say. Olivia was right, there was something really unique about him. "Are you a Christian?"
"Why, because I’m a brother, from Atlanta, who can sing?" He asked with a wide grin.
I shrugged nervously. "You give off a Christian preacher vibe."
Jamie laughed. “I would hope not.”
That caused Remy to smile. "You've got a mouth like a preacher." Remy blinked his eyes slowly as Jamie’s lips met his. The kiss was tender and sweet.
I coughed to clear my throat. “Jamie, could I speak to you outside? One medical professional to another?"
"Sure, man..." Jamie said as he slowly pulled away from Remy's embrace, and followed me out the door. “What’s up?"
"Olivia told me about the DNR."
Jamie's expression changed from bliss to anger. "That’s not going to happen, not on my watch."
"Do you know about what happened between Remy and my wife?"
Jamie nodded. “A cousin of mine went through something similar. Her boyfriend was high on meth when he beat her into a coma."
"Did she ever forgive him?"
Jamie sighed. "They had three kids together. Forgiveness was the right thing- the necessary thing to do. But only after he got clean and a few years of therapy for both of them. My point is, I’ve seen pain; someone so blinded by anger that all they can see is what hurts. Do they have a right to hurt- yes. Does your wife have the right to hate Remy with every fiber of her being? Absolutely. But where will that get her?"
I had to agree. Remy repaid his debt, at least in my opinion. “Do you think you could convince Azzy to visit him?”
"I could try."
I took out my phone and switched to speaker mode as I dialed Azzy.
She picked up on the first ring. “Hey, Johnny.”
“Hey. Guess where I am?”
“Visiting Remy: you have a break in your classes, where else would you be," she said in a clearly annoyed tone.
"I’d like you to speak to his nurse."
"Fine."
"Hello Azzy, my name is James Proudstar."
"Your name is what?" Azzy paused and chuckled. "James Proudstar, like the Marvel character?"
It was only then I realized how strange his name was.
Jamie only smiled. “You can’t change what you are.”
"And what are you?" she asked.
“An angel, a superhero. I’m what happens when you ascend; leave behind who you were, to become the person you were meant to be.” He placed a hand on my shoulder and nodded. “So, Miss Azzy, do you think you can find it in your heart to pay your old friend a visit?”
"Yeah, I guess," she replied in a meek voice.
Azzy arrived twenty minutes later with entourage in tow. “You don’t have to go in there alone,” said a punk Asian girl with a massive dragon tattoo on her arm.
Azzy held baby Lucas close. He appeared to be sleeping on her shoulder. “I won’t be alone.” To my surprise, she reached for my hand. “Johnny, You ready?”
“Um, yeah. Of course.” I took her hand, and lead her through the door. "Remy, Olivia look who finally made it."
“Hey, Azzy.” Remy's voice was breaking. “How goes the campaign?”
“Good,” Azzy’s replied as she took a seat beside him. “Do you remember the first time we met?”
Remy nodded and took a labored breath. “W-We w-were seven, and your dad took you to Hawaii.”
“Because your dad requested that he bring along a babysitter so they could party all night long." Azzy laughed as she wiped tears from her eyes. "That's what Dad told me. I remember getting off the plane, and this big breasted Barbie doll of a woman introduced me to a little island boy with long hair and chubby cheeks."
Remy sighed. "Nanny Clara: she was a nanny the way a... " He blinked a few times, appearing to have lost his train of thought. "She was a nanny the way audio books are still considered books..." Remy chuckled at his own joke.
Azzy nodded. “I remember."
"You and me, while our dads got laid and wasted, we stayed at the hotel arcade playing Street Fighter and Gauntlet Legends. When it got late, you snuck into the hotel kitchen and stole all the food you could fit in your backpack.”
“You picked the lock to the roof so we could sleep under the stars.” Azzy put both arms around Lucas, holding him like a teddy bear as she sobbed. “What happened to that sweet little boy?”
“Life happened; my father, my sexuality, my f-ed up choices.” Remy’s hand was trembling as he reached for her. “But you were always there for me. Azzy you were like a sister to me."
Azzy caressed his hand, stroking his palm like a fortune teller. “I don’t forgive you.”
Remy nodded weakly. “I know.”
“But I love you.”
There was a long silence. Remy started to weep as hard as Azzy was. “I’m so sorry.”
“I know.” Azzy pursed her lips, she rocked the baby in her arms as if to comfort herself. “But I don’t want you in my home. If you want me to give you back your portion of the money-”
“Of course not, I would never do that to you. Consider it a gift for your family.”
Azzy gave Remy's hand a firm squeeze. “You are my family.”
She turned the baby to face Remy, his sweet blue eyes looking at Remy with nothing but love.
“I want you in my son’s life. I want my son to know the person I knew.”
Lucas was reaching out to Remy it was clear that he wanted to be in Remy’s arms. So I guided Azzy’s hands to place the baby on Remy’s chest.
Lucas giggled and cooed.
Remy patted his little back. “I love you too.”
From that day forward, time seemed to fly by. The next month Azzy, of course, ended up winning her bid for city council. During her downtime, she was a doting mother. but she never gave up her powers. And I never again broached the subject.
On little Lucas’s first birthday we celebrated in style at the Ho-Chunk Indian casino. The Ho-Chuck nation had been waiting nearly a decade to get a resort open in Beloit. The council always voted them down, saying things like “a casino in town will cause gambling addiction, split families- our town is too wholesome for that!”
Azzy knew the real reason: the Ho-Chunk were asking for use of land that they were not entitled to and the people who owned the land thought that a better, more wholesome option might come along. But like I said, it’d been over ten years. Now, thanks to Azzy the land was theirs and they would be breaking ground later that month.
I don’t know what she did, or what strings she pulled. I would like to think she simply baked the governor and other council members a vegan chocolate cake on par with the one she made today. But looking around at the array of armed men and women drinking at my son’s party, I can assume “non-violence” was not the chosen route.
I looked over and Remy and Jamie. Remy walked with a cane, struggling to maintain his balance. Jamie lifted his face and kissed Remy's lips before taking a sip of red wine. Their happiness was contagious or maybe that was just the benefit of being in a relationship with an angel.
After Remy was discharged he'd moved in with Jamie. His condition was not as debilitating as Olivia and I first thought; Remy could walk, feed himself, etc. He could even be trusted to babysit Lucas.
I learned that Jamie grew up in Atlanta, but his mother moved to Beloit as her ‘calling’. Apparently, she had been an elder spirit working as a social worker. But she passed away due to stage four ovarian cancer. Or “... called back to the home office,” as Jamie said with a chuckle the first time my family visited.
He inherited a house that he shared with Candy, his late mother’s Chipit. Chipit apparently stands for Chihuahua /Pitbull, which is as terrifying as it sounds. At least it was to me. The large-eared guard dog seemed to have the demeanor of an over-caffeinated Chihuahua with the roar of an angry pit bull. But Candy loved Lucas from the moment they first met.
Lucas had taken his first steps at around eight months (of course he still preferred to be carried,) but at the sight of the dog, he squealed with glee practically begging Azzy to put him down. My chubby little toddler had waddled up to the dog, giving it a big hug.
That moment is seared into my mind because that was the first time I saw my son’s wings. His shirt lifted revealing plant-like appendages similar to Azzy’s. I watched as the thin green branch stroked the dog’s fur before quickly retracting.
I dared not mention it to Azzy. Although I'm pretty sure she knew,
Now, at his high-class casino party, Lucas was being carried around by Azzy, wearing a little blue suit with a jacket. I could see his shoulders quivering; his wings want to come out. His body wanted to show off who he really was.
I made my way to the open bar and ordered a shot of vodka on the rocks. Drink in hand, I faced the window looking out into the beautiful Wisconsin sky. Then I felt a tree branch stroke my lower back. “Hey, Azzy.”
“Hey,” she said sweetly, holding a glass of red wine. “So what do you think? Am I using my powers for good?”
I put my arm around her waist, I could feel her wings retracting. “I’m proud of you.”
“I’m proud of you too.” Her smile felt genuine. “I mean, with you starting your residency. You act like it’s no big deal.”
To me, it wasn’t a big deal. I was on my way to becoming a pediatrician. It would be a nice calm job, unlike my work as a nurse. I would not be on call 24/7, so I would have plenty of time to be a good husband and father.
Still looking out the window I could feel Azzy’s arm around my waist. She rested her head on my shoulder. “So when are you taking me to Alaska?”
“Huh? You remember that?" I had not thought about my promise or even my tattoo for a while. I discreetly looked at my reflection in the window, with the top part of my shirt unbuttoned down to my collar, I could see my upper-chest. The image, Azzy's mark, was gone.
I could feel my wife's wings touch my back, the branches moving under my shirt to caress my skin.
I flexed my shoulders, stretching my back. A warmth caressed my body as if I was pulling on a jacket.
Azzy giggled.
"What?"
Both Azzy and Lucas were looking at me with huge smiles. "I love your wings."
"You can see them?"
"So can Lucas." She untucked the baby's shirt allowing his little vine wings to flow from under the bottom of his shirt. Azzy put her arm around me, positioning the baby between us.
I glanced at our reflection in the window. We were the ideal, stereotypical family photo. But there was something was forming above our heads. At the spot where Azzy's wings touched mine, Lucas's wings seemed to come through the middle to create a rather cute five-petaled flower.
"A wood violet," Azzy said whispered. "The state flower of Wisconsin."
I didn't know what that meant. Was I standing next to the future governor or maybe even president? As the old saying goes, 'with great power comes great responsibility.' I found my calling. I would be responsible for keeping my family on the right path. “I love you.”
“I love you too, Johnny.”
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