Author Archives: Jeff Vrabel

About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official BruceSpringsteen.net, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more.

The Last Waltz of the Mighty Wurlitzer (via Indianapolis Monthly)

Illustration / Christoph Hitz

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Indianapolis Monthly — Over the years, Indianapolis has been home to any number of pizza parlors. But only one had the power to rattle your plates.

If you’re of a certain age, the Paramount Music Palace very likely hosted one of your birthday parties, field trips, grandparent visits, post-football game feasts, tour-bus stops, giant family dinners, or honeymoons. (Seriously, honeymoons. We didn’t believe it at first, either.) For more than a decade, it was the family-friendly belle of the east side, accessibly opulent, affectionately schmaltzy, reasonably priced, filled with kids, and tinged with gold. And though the Paramount had live musicians every night, there was one true star of the show: a massive 1931 Mighty Wurlitzer theater pipe organ that would appear each evening by rising from the floor, rotating with regal splendor. If you were of a certain age back then, there was nothing better in the world.

At the height of the Paramount’s glory days, the Mighty Wurlitzer was simply one of the biggest instruments in the country, and it looked and played the part. “You could feel the bass in the building and in your body,” says Michael Fellenzer, current president of the Central Indiana Chapter of ATOS. “And for me, there was a complexity that was fascinating. One person is making this sound like an orchestra? How?”

That word—how?—was the draw of the place, the question that enraptured kids and grandparents, drawing them back, letting them wonder. How can one machine make that sound? How does one person play it? How do you get something that big in here, anyway? And now, 20 years later, those who loved it way back when might wonder: Where did it go?

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We Have to Leave Earth Anyway, So Which of Humanity’s New Planets Is Best Suited for Golf? (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

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The Loop / Golf Digest — Theoretical physicist and humanity-terrifier Stephen Hawking announced last week that Earth is a doomed cesspool of unstoppable ravage and decay, which is something we obviously all knew already. But the renowned scientist was good enough to put a number on his doomsday prophecy, reporting that we humans need to locate, travel to and colonize another planet within about 500 years, give or take, depending on traffic.

For the most part, this is fine — it’s getting pretty hot around here anyway, and those of us here in Indiana can fund the trip with the sale of our beachfront homes. But while “scientists” and “theoretical physicists” and “those charged with deciding who will travel to this new planet, which should include plenty of tallish gray-haired Slovaks, just saying” debate which planet we should lay waste to next, we here at The Loop have different criteria: Where the hell are we going to play golf? Before we rush into any rash planet-colonizing decisions, let’s break down our potential new homes in the solar system.

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Atari 2600 ‘Golf’ Remains the Best Golf Video Game of All Time (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

 

The Loop / Golf Digest — Everything was better the way it used to be, which is why you buy vinyl copies of records you already own, watch Netflix reboots en masse and apparently go to theaters to absorb five godawful, synapse-pounding Michael Bay movies vaguely based on toys you broke in 1986. The one cultural region where this aggressively nostalgic approach makes sense is video games, because if you are like some of us, you stopped upgrading/purchasing them 20 years ago, haven’t the foggiest clue how to f—king move your f—cking Boba Fett character in f—cking Star Wars Battlefront in a forward-like direction and would just rather play the games you grew up with, when life was uncomplicated, easy to master and built entirely out of 2 cm-thick squares.

Which brings us to the Atari 2600, and specifically Golf, which remains — at the risk of sounding hyperbolic — the best golf video game on the market (and by “market” I mean the ‘Antiquities and Curios’ shack behind the Cracker Barrel by the exit to 65 South). With that ridiculous premise held firmly in mind, here’s a look back at simply the best golf gameplay the early ‘80s had to offer.

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A Manly List of Masculine Father’s Day Gifts, For Men (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

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The Loop / Golf Digest — Father’s Day is thoughtful, appreciated and — without resorting to the kind of hyperbole I’ve been accused of using by every single person in the universe — the single most unfair thing about fatherhood ever. Mother’s Day takes place during the school year, so moms quite rightfully enjoy fridges full of hand-scribbed art projects and reverent tone poems written in English classes. Father’s Day is in midsummer, when school is well out, so it’s like having your birthday on Christmas Day, or sharing it with a “cousin” or “twin” or whatever. We get objects we already own, re-wrapped and delivered with a crayon index card that says, “School’s out, it’s 87 outside and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna sit in the kitchen drawing some stupid picture.”

Yet repackaged paperweights are leagues better than actual store-bought products for Father’s Day, all of which assume every man on Earth is a leather-skinned flannel-shirted Man’s Man who spends exactly all of his free time knocking back Glenlivet on the hoods of rusted-out pickup hulls. All Father’s Day catalogs are written in the voice of someone who’s spent years studying human males but has yet to approach one in person, so screw it, we wrote our own, and used lots of all-caps for extra growly masculinity. Send this to your wife/children/partner/hangers-on at once, and watch the joy roll in. .

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No, We’re Not Worried About the Exchange Program, and Please Stop Asking (via Scary Mommy)

Scary Mommy — “Aren’t you worried?” people seem to keep asking us when they learn that our 13-year-old will spend two weeks in France this summer. “With all the…” and here they pause, fumbling for the way to say “gun violence” and make inferences about Muslim terrorists in a manner appropriate for Saturday soccer.

And here we pause, searching for the appropriate way to say “Well, duh,” which, it turns out, is pretty much just “Well, duh.” (Happily, that term translates wherever you go.) I like to think we’re worried about our son every day, when he boards the bus, when he baits his own sharp pokey hook, when he comes sprinting down the stairs, when he walks home from his buddy’s down the street, when he skates down the driveway without a helmet because he doesn’t listen, and when he goes to karate class, where as a rule, they kick and punch at other children. The question is doofy. We exist in a state of low-level concern; we all do.

But are we worried about shipping him overseas, because of all the…?

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Behold the Workplace of the Future, Which Looks Pretty Much Like a Coffee Shop (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

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The Loop / Golf Digest — The communal, forward-thinking, collaboration-focused, millennial-centric “open floor plan” is a thing of the past, according to some elitist business-news startup called the Wall Street Journal. “Many studies show how open-plan office spaces can have negative effects on employees and productivity,” says this “news-paper,” going on to say that companies are adding soundproof rooms, quiet zones, reading nooks, floor pillows and nap corners, and it turns out we actually only made up the last three of those.   Being progressive and reasonably young-ish, we here at The Loop work in everything: traditional offices, snappy cubicles, expansive open spaces, coffee shops, clubhouses and, in one case, a on a porch chair in a backyard in Indiana, because it’s 2017, even here in Indiana, and with each passing month the idea of a “traditional workspace” gets more garbled. As such, we’ve assembled this helpful guide to help you determine where you should probably be working.

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Jon Lester Picked a Guy Off, and Other Tales of Athletes Who Beat the Yips (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

Go get ’em, Jon

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The Loop / Golf Digest — Jon Lester, who is an 1860-era Civil War cannon masquerading as a pitcher and part of the Cubs’ really quite unfair 2016 pitching rotation, is known both for being a competitor of unusual ferocity and his inability to throw from the mound to first base, a condition that commonly travels under the deceptively adorable name of the “yips.” Separate from performance anxiety, nerves and good old-fashioned choking, the yips are a mental condition that manifests itself in people who are paid grotesque amounts of money to play a game sudddenly suffering a random, inexplicable and often traumatic inability to perform a small part of it. It’s neither curious nor rare; researchers at the Mayo Clinic have said that the affliction grips between a third to a half of all serious golfers, which translates into a lot of people suddenly unable to do the thing they drove to a club to do. The problem, researchers say, is some as-yet-undiscovered short-fuse in the mind, a mental hiccup or thorn, some synapse firing right instead of left. Watch how many quotes here regard a player’s brain instead of his hands.

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I Tried to Go One Month Without Spending Any Money. This Ended Badly (via Success)

These taste like paper

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Success — I cut out inessential spending for one month. And by that, I mean: I didn’t come anywhere near cutting out inessential spending for a month.

For the record, I tried. My assignment was simple: Eliminate all spending that wasn’t essential to the health of my family, the payment of recurring bills or the survival of the pets. No fancy coffee. No clothes. No cocktails. No movies. Nothing outside of the pure necessities of life in a hardening America. Then at the close of the experiment, I was to report all of my glittering lessons about the value of self-denial, discipline and minimalism.

Here’s what I learned: Life can get crazy, and sometimes you just want a taco.

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An Actual Indiana Person’s Guide to the Indy 500 (via The Loop/Golf Digest)

Super-quiet

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The Loop / Golf Digest —

What is it?

The Indianapolis 500! It’s Indianapolis’s biggest event, the sports pride of the state (pipe down, Paul George, you know it’s true), and a very good excuse for most of here to sit in 1978-era folding chairs and drink room-temperature Hamm’s cans starting at 7 a.m. on the Lord’s Day.

Is this still a big deal?

WE IN INDIANA WILL HAVE YOU KNOW that the 500 is the Largest One-Day Sporting Event in the World, and also the one attended by the smallest percentage of actual athletes. Last year’s plumb sold out with a crowd that reports pegged around 350,000, which meant that one out of every 1,000 people in the COUNTRY OF AMERICA was chilling inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The complete and helpful Travel Guide over at the Loop.

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Latest for GQ: How to Lose Weight By Not Putting Food in Your Body

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GQ — Of all the fad diets to come down the pike, the one we never saw coming was the simplest: Just don’t eat food. The idea of intermittent fasting (i.e., regimented periods of eating and not eating) has gone mainstream. Fans say it works by training your body to burn its fat reserves. It’s also said to decrease the risk of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. And, of course, caloric abstinence is the most cost-effective diet in history. The main downside is the grueling first two weeks, when you’ll probably quit.

How to not eat food, over at GQ. 

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