Sunday, October 13, 2019


I am sitting atop a swiveling bar stool in a basement in Wheeling, WV, where I am surrounded by sound equipment, microphones, and the air of anticipation. Across the room an HD television mounted on the wall is showing the Virginia and Miami college football game which is kicking off a weekend of college football. The small gathering bounces between watching the game and conversations about snapchat and tik-tok, politics, and work. I take an occasional sip of my Blue Moon and slowly munch on a slice of DeFelice pizza, absorbing my surroundings with a comfortable, self-imposed isolation. I cannot avoid the one question I formulated earlier as I walked down the stairs to the basement with a white Pomsky answering to Hazel traipsing ahead of me: "Where in the hell am I?"

I am at a live recording of The Juicebox Podcast. As the late Stan Lee, long-time publisher and soul of Marvel Comics, would always say:  'nuff said.

Juice, Zar, and Punch, are The Juicebox Podcast regulars. Each will probably individually tell you that he is the "talent." Two brothers and their friend began the podcast months ago, learning by doing, succeeding by failing, and changing while remaining the same. It is all good though because they are on a journey to create something special for themselves with the hopes of giving their listeners a sampling of what life means from their viewpoint.

Once the intro music starts and the guys begin, I brace myself for the unexpected. You see, I have been listening to this podcast from the first episode and have graciously accepted their offer to email suggestions and questions. On  more than one occasion, I have asked if they really need to curse as much as they do, and I have expressed my eye-roll about the long drinking stories and sophomoric tendencies. The response has been "Sorry, Uncle A.J., we are going to keep on using those words." My suggestion simply emboldened them. But, I have to respect their decision to do their own thing despite my honest protestations.

I am here, still wondering why I was so enthusiastic about watching this podcast live this week that I had all of my papers graded before leaving school on Friday. I am sitting across from J.T. aka "Punch" as he leads the group into the beginning of the podcast. J.T. was one of my students back in 2012 when I came to CCHS as an English teacher. [Shameless plug: Read My Corner of the World.😁📖] J.T. and I have kept in touch throughout the years, but our paths have crossed more frequently as of late. J.T. told me about this podcast they were creating, and I was instantly intrigued; anything creative and original captures my attention in a heartbeat.

I am here, enduring the profanity, gross jokes, and crazy topics. I am here, taking another sip of my Blue Moon and laughing, initially hoping that no one notices. I have a certain reputation to uphold. Halfway through, I am caught up in the electricity of it all and no longer hold back my laughter. Behind all of the language are some pretty interesting discussions about Game of Thrones, Tom Cruise, and "Would you rather.." questions. Deeper than that are three friends finding their voices on this podcast.

I am here, experiencing and reveling in the genesis of imagination. The beginning of anything worth doing is never clean and neat. Messiness and improvisation are inherent parts of the creative process. The Juicebox Podcast reminds all of us, particularly an "old shit" like myself, that life can be fun and original as long we find an escape to dig deeper into who we are as individuals while knowing the best is yet to come.

This is a great recent episode because the guys welcomed Central grad and WVU basketball standout Chase Harler to be a guest. I want to give you a "Trigger Warning" regarding some content and language, but you are probably old enough to handle it.

Maybe one day...crossover, anyone?

Picture Credits: 
JT Nixon
Personal Photos

I will be dropping my podcast of this post later this week. I will offer some emotional backstory to this experience. You can always email me here or at the podcast email below if you have questions about this post or if you want me to discuss something about this topic on the podcast.

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