Jeff Pearlman

  • Twitter Icon
  • Twitter Icon
  • Twitter Icon

Hey, Tony English—we don’t want your ##$%ing salt

Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 6.19.34 PM

Near where we live is a realtor named Tony English.

I don’t know the man, and he might be a nice guy. But—just being honest—he’s annoying as all fuck.

Most real estate agents solicit business via word of mouth. Or mail. Or advertising in a local magazine, newspaper or website. Not Tony.

Nope, Tony English advertises by leaving shit by your door. Lots and lots of shit. In the three years we’ve lived in California, we’ve received erase boards from Tony English. We’ve received postcards from Tony English. We’ve received more erase boards from Tony English. A few Independence Days back, Tony English planted a miniature American flag in the ground in front of every single house in the community.

Every.

Single.

House.

I didn’t want Tony English’s flag—in part because, well, who are you to stab a flag in my ground? But also because there’s nothing patriotic about advertising via a flag. I mean, it’s not like we had to guess where the flags came from. They were identified with Tony English’s information. Which means, here, patriotism doubled as capitalism. Plus—and this is something the wife just suggested—why should you use my yard to advertise your business? How is that Tony English’s decision?

Annoying as all that was, however, today took the cake. The wife (who within the past year actually asked Tony English to stop soliciting our house) came home to—oddly—a Tony English canister of salt. Yes, a canister of salt. Why? We have no remote idea. There’s no salt pun on the label. No salt rhyme, salt anecdote. Nope, it simply offers Tony English’s contact info, along with “Call me with any real estate related questions whatsoever. I am here to help….” and “I promise the best real estate service ever!”

This is, literally, the equivalent of me asking that you buy my book by sending you a jar of apple sauce.

Only apple sauce is tasty.

Salt sucks.

Owning Bowe Bergdahl

Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 12.08.25 PM

In case you missed this, earlier today Bowe Bergdahl pleaded guilty to desertion and endangering the United States troops sent to search for him in Afghanistan eight years ago.

Um, yeah.

In 2014, Bergdahl was released from Taliban captivity when Barack Obama freed five detainees from Guantanamo Bay in exchange for his return. After Bergdahl was freed, Susan Rice (Obama’s national security adviser) said he had served with “honor and distinction,” and the president appeared with his folks in a White House ceremony.

Double um, yeah.

This was a screwup. A huge screwup. Many right-leaning folks are having a social media field day on this—as they should. What was the Obama Administration thinking? I’m not sure, but my guess is that, politically, they loved the optics. Here’s a president, acting all commander in chief-ish, rescuing an American soldier from harm’s way. Then, when it started to unravel, the White House double downed and defended the indefensible actions. Lives were risked to save Bergdahl. That’s a tough one to digest, and Democrats need to accept the stupidity of it all and owe up.

Of course, in the coming hours Donald Trump will rip into Bergdahl; refer to him as a traitor and a con and a fraud.

Which is ironic.

But, hey.

An antidote to all the world’s shit

Screen Shot 2017-10-14 at 8.21.45 AM

Woke up this morning, sat down on the couch. Wife said, “You know Eddie?”

Sure.

“I just love him.”

Eddie is the wife’s former high school classmate. I met him once, briefly, at his mother’s funeral. Otherwise, “Eddie” is merely this name that pops up from time to time, when the wife raves of something he writes or says or does on social media.

“Oh, Eddie. I just love him.”

But you’ve barely seen him in 30 years …

“I know. But I just love him.”

Eddie, the wife always says, is a beacon of joy and light. Funny. Quirky. Engrossing. Engaging. So when she started talking Eddie Eddie Eddie this morning, I didn’t expect anything beyond the usual rainbow-colored joy.

What I got was … this. Trust me, click on this. Right here—this.

I met Eddie once. I’ve never met Sherisse. But … man. So awesome. And loving. And righteous. And beautiful. We live in a world of ugliness right now, where hate seems stronger than love and our president makes a mockery of decency and compassion. So … yeah.

I needed this.

Values

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 9.40.42 PM

I have a secret, and it’s not something I admit all too often.

OK.

I’m ready.

Here I go.

Deep breath.

Once. Not all that long ago. I was open to faith.

By “open,” I mean, well, open. I was willing to listen. I’d attended church a handful of times, and found it quite moving. The largeness. The sense of community. The imagery. I mean, there’s an undeniable oomph to the power of mass, when the church is stuffed with believers and faith is in the air. So, yeah, I was sorta kinda open to it. Maybe, just maybe, people with a belief in God were onto something. Maybe, just maybe, they were leading a life worth emulating.

Then I snapped out of it. Praise Jesus.

In case you missed this, earlier today Donald Trump—POW-mocking, disability-mimicking, woman-degrading, swimsuit pageant-hosting, Central Park Five-death penalty-demanding, thrice-married, vagina-groping, nothing-to-do-with-his-youngest-son-or-daughter non-fathering man of the cloth—was the invited and featured guest at the Value Voters Summit, a uniquely awful gathering of Christian conservatives who hate (among other things) gay rights, abortion rights and, apparently, black presidents who treat people kindly and don’t fuck around on their spouses.

And here’s the thing: I was to scream at these people. I want to stand before them and yell, WHAT DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND? WHAT DON’T YOU SEE HERE? THIS GUY—HE’S A COMPLETE AND TOTAL FRAUD. HOW MANY WIVES DOES HE HAVE TO CHEAT ON? HOW MANY WOMEN MUST HE DEGRADE? HOW MANY POWS DOES HE HAVE TO MOCK? HE’S LYING TO YOU … USING YOU. HE DOESN’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT CHRISTMAS! JESUS FUCKING CHRIST—AFTER 9.11 HE BRAGGED ABOUT HAVING MANHATTAN’S TALLEST BUILDING! HE OWNED A FRAUD UNIVERSITY THAT BILKED PEOPLE OF THEIR MONEY! POOR, NEEDY PEOPLE! HE KICKED VETERANS OFF THE BLOCK IN FRONT OF TRUMP TOWER! WHAT! THE! FUCK! DON’T! YOU! SEE! HERE! DID YOU MISS THIS? AND THIS? AND THIS? AND THIS?

You know what the worst part is? By surrounding its moral standing to a grotesque pussy-grabbing conman, people of faith are surrendering any status. I mean, how could I—a guy seeking enlightenment—look at folks falling for Donald J. Trump and think, “Ah, salvation!” Instead, I look and think, “What a bunch of fools.” I mean, look at these comments from YouTube, below the video of Trump’s talk …

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 9.39.39 PM

Truly, it’s … just … what? Dumfounding. Staggering. Preposterous. You had a guy—Barack Obama—who actually went to church. Now, maybe you disagreed with some of his policy decisions. But he actually loved his wife, raised his kids, treated folks admirably. And instead of showing admiration, you side with the devil in a suit and cheap tie? The one who throws lines like, “I’ll save Christmas” at you—knowing you’ll take the bait.

It’s so sad. But, really, it’s depressing.

God is dead.

Proof is here.

PS: Here’s an an anti-LGBT flyer decrying the “hazards of homosexuality.” It was distributed at the summit. Classy.

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 9.58.29 PM

Meldrick Taylor

Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 11.41.52 AM

Sometimes when I’m cutting and pasting articles I distract myself by watching YouTube clips of random people who pop into my head.

Today, that means Meldrick Taylor.

For those who don’t know, Taylor is one of the all-time great American fighters. He was a gold medalist in the 1984 Olympics, then went on to a pretty impressive pro career as a junior welterweight and welterweight. Most famously, on March 17, 1990 Taylor fought the undefeated Julio César Chávez, the WBC light welterweight champion. Taylor won the first nine rounds, started tiring in the 10th and hung on … hung on … hung on through the 12th. Then, when five seconds left, he was knocked to the floor. He rose on the six count, but Richard Steele, the referee, stopped the action, handing Chávez one of the most controversial victories in the history of prize fighting.

Taylor was devastated. He was also battered beyond recognition. His face was broken. He was urinating pure blood. He returned to fight again, and even topped the undefeated Aaron Davis for the WBA welterweight title on January 19, 1991. But, truly, he was never the same.

His career spiraled. His life spiraled.

The video below is from four years ago.

Taylor was interviewed while attending something called the “Champions of Tomorrow boxing event.”

It’s like seeing a former smoker with Stage 4 lung cancer endorsing Marlboro …

Donald Trump and the small penis

Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 9.09.54 PM

Back when I was a child, my grandmother, Marta Herz, used to repeat a saying that brought her great joy. “Jeffrey,” she’d say, “nothing is more dangerous than the man with the small penis standing alongside the man with the big penis.”

Now, I will admit, my grandma never uttered such words. But it was fun to type just now, and it also leads to an important point on this day of health care awfulness.

Barack Obama is, figuratively (at least) well endowed.

Donald Trump has a itty bitty wee wee.

In regards to the 45th president, I’m speaking literally. Though I’ve never seen the thing naked (ew), I’m all but certain his penis is the size of a sawed-off pimple. Because, truly, that’s how he behaves. The bluster. The shit talk. The exaggerations. The lie after lie after lie. I once attended college with a guy whose penis was, truly, a pin (we ran track together, and therefore changed side by side for an entire season). He was one of the biggest loudmouths I ever met. His dick registered a -12 in scale.

In case you somehow missed this, itty bitty wee wee 45 took a huge step today to kill Obamacare and, in the process, make it significantly more difficult for people in need to purchase health coverage. Dylan Scott breaks it down here. Now, one might think a president of the United States would aspire to, eh, help people; to make lives better; to care for the masses. But that presumption fails to account for a humanoid obsessed over his penis being 1/100th the size of his predecessor. That is why Donald Trump tries to undo everything Barack Obama accomplished. It’s why he talks nonstop shit; why he bashes, demeans, attacks, mocks, ridicules. He knows he doesn’t measure up, either mentally or emotionally. He knows he lacks his decency; his compassion. He knows he’s barely married to his model wife; he knows he’s a shit father; he knows he’s a greedy son of a bitch; he knows, when he urinates, he can’t see past his gut to his too-small-to-dangle projectile.

So, being the small-docked infant that he is, Donald Trump destroys.

And destroys.

And destroys.

I know there are Republicans who consider this to be a grand day. Well, you’re wrong. Once again, the five-deferment, never-received-a-call-from-the-Boy Scouts, likes-to-grope-women, fake-university-founding conman from New York had convinced you he cares. Only, Donald Trump never cares. About you. About your family. About Republicans. About Democrats.

He is all about himself. About ego.

One more thing: Puerto Rico is still mostly without power, and Trump couldn’t care less. Fires are destroying Northern California, and Trump couldn’t care less. He is a man who couldn’t care less. Suffering doesn’t move him. Tears don’t move him.

This sucks.

Dear NFL: Do not let the bully bully you

Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 12.45.46 AM

Dear NFL:

Donald Trump is doing what he does—and you are about to fall for it.

What he does is bully. And bully. And bully. He bullies until you cave. And, if you don’t cave, he continues to bully until you do cave. I speak from a unique position of authority, having recently completed—after two years of research and writing—a book about the United States Football League, in which Trump owned the New Jersey Generals during the 1984 and 1985 seasons.

At the time, Trump desperately wanted an NFL team, and he devised a devilish plan: Namely, he would do everything within his power to force the NFL and USFL on a collision course. The end game, he believed, was the Generals would be absorbed by the older league. As for the other USFL franchises? Meh. Who gave a shit?

So, as soon as he entered the USFL, Trump bullied and bullied and bullied the other owners to switch from the spring to fall and directly take on the NFL. There was no legitimate reason to think a fall switch wise. There was no logic to it. No strategy, either. Yet Trump bullied and bullied and bullied. He went after one owner, then another, then another, promising them things he knew would never be delivered. When certain owners refused to budge, Trump attacked—hard. Need proof? Here’s a letter, written in 1984 from John Bassett, owner of the Tampa Bay Bandits, to Trump …

C3iTXmbUEAAMDXc.jpg-large

Ultimately, the other owners caved. They voted to switch to fall, and they allowed Trump to lead a lawsuit against the NFL. The end result: The league turned to ash.

Poof.

Trump is bullying you on the flag issue. As his popularity plummets and the holes in his game widen, he wants to rip at the wedge. In this case, the wedge is African-American players kneeling in protest over racial injustices. Trump doesn’t give a shit about the issue itself. Let me repeat that: Trump doesn’t give a shit about the issue itself. He is a man who had five deferments during Vietnam; a man who openly mocked a POW (his heroes don’t get captured, OK?) and a Gold Star Family; a man who donated $0.00 to 9.11 causes after the 2001 attacks in his city. This is not someone who has ever shown a morsel of interest in the flag or patriotism.

He is grasping onto this because he sees it as a cultural triumph. He can manipulate much of the public into thinking coddled NFL players hate America—coddled black NFL players. It’s Us v. Them, and even though, in reality, he’s “Them” (rich, entitled, unpatriotic), he’s convinced many he’s “Us.”

Well, don’t fall for it. The moment you stop kneeling; the moment you demand everyone stand—you are giving Donald Trump a victory he doesn’t deserve. You are boosting his hateful, nonsensical stance merely because you’re afraid, and he’s somehow the president.

I know you’re worried about money.

I know you’re worried about backlash.

But this is bigger than that.

It’s about righteousness.

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 8.06.52 AM

Cathryn Vincentz

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 8.06.52 AM

Back at Mahopac High School in the late-1980s, one of my absolute favorite people was a girl named Cathy Iannotta.

Cathy and I were in a handful of classes together, and she was just … different. On the one hand, all the standard popular-kid checkmarks could apply. Cathy was a cheerleader. Cathy was beloved. Cathy was smart. Cathy was voted “Best Looking” by the senior class.

And yet, something about her hovered above the fray. Even at an age burdened by zits and gossip and cliques, she maintained a certain glow (aka: kindness) that separated her from the crowd. Hell, a few minutes ago I dug up the ol’ yearbook to see what Cathy wrote on the pages of one of Mahopac High’s least-interesting graduates, and I found this:

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 8.46.29 AM

Again—Cathy Iannotta was just different.

Through the years, we’ve kept in touch via social media. And what has really caught my eye is her career. Or, really, her walking away from a career. Cathy was a high-level project manager at multiple firms until (poof!) she was no longer a high-level project manager at multiple firms. She just gave it all up to raise her children and become a yoga instructor. Man, I love that.

After seeing her crazy, pretzel-like yoga poses week after week and month after month, I decided it was time to bring Cathy here, to Quazland, to talk yoga and life and why one surrenders a high-power existence for tranquility and zen.

One can follow Cathy on Instagram here, and learn more about Putnam Yoga (where she teaches) here.

Cathryn Vincentz—strike a pose. You’re Quaz No. 330 …

JEFF PEARLMAN: So we attended high school together, and we’ve been Facebook pals for a while. And you’re being Quazed, in large part, because of something you did that I love. In short, after more than 15 years of devoting yourself to corporate America (project management), you said, “Screw it” and became a Yoga instructor. I love this. Love, love, love. And I wonder—why? How? And how scary was the leap?

CATHRYN VINCENTZ: You make it sound so rebellious! I did leave corporate America almost eight years ago and I am now a stay-at-home mom and yoga instructor. It wasn’t an abrupt “take this job and shove it” type of thing, though. It evolved. The construction project I was on (Goldman Sachs HQ in Battery Park City) was coming to a close. My company was downsizing and my entire department was eventually let go. The timing was perfect, though, because I was pregnant with my first daughter and was ready to make a decision on what to do about staying home with her versus continuing to work corporate. So the leap from corporate America actually came about so that I could stay home with her. I had always wanted to get certified to teach yoga and this was a perfect opportunity, although it happened a little later.

That leap leaving corporate wasn’t scary. It was a conscious choice. My husband Brian and I had made the decision that one of us was going to stay home when we had kids. He was perfectly willing to be Mr. Mom, while I continued climbing the corporate ladder. We decided though, it was more practical for me to stay home being that I was breast-feeding and had been let go. I feel very fortunate that we were able to do this. Being at home definitely was a huge transition, mentally and emotionally. Not only becoming a first-time mother, but also coping with the idea that I wasn’t a bread-winner anymore. Also, the way in which my day was structured changed dramatically. No more 9-5! It was now 24/7. My schedule, priorities and concerns completely shifted. My general role as a person changed so quickly and that was definitely something that took time to accept. (My yoga practice of course helped me deal with all of this.) The first year was so exciting and everything was so new, I didn’t even miss my corporate job.

Yoga, which was always part of my life, started to take a bigger role. I had been practicing for many years at that point and really wanted to get certified to teach. This was the perfect opportunity. After the birth of my second daughter and with the encouragement and complete support of my husband, I completed my 200-hour teacher training. This is when I felt like my life could take an amazing personal turn. When I completed my yoga certification, I started teaching a few times weekly and it has been so fulfilling. It’s an honor, really, to share this ancient practice and introduce it to people and help guide them. I love the people I meet and the chance to be able to share what means so much to me. I teach and speak from the heart and hopefully that resonates.

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 8.05.43 AM

J.P.: In your bio you write that 15 years of Yoga has given you “valuable space to be able to work on finding acceptance, loving-kindness and compassion for herself and others.” I have no idea what that means. Please explain …

C.V.: I was honestly shocked to read that you have no idea what this means! This is what I work on continually, literally on a daily basis. I think we are all so busy with our jobs, roles, practical matters in life that we forego time for ourselves to regroup and observe. We don’t give ourselves any space to just be—no agenda, no responsibilities, no roles to play. The practice of yoga gives me this space: the opportunity to allow what is to just be. Even for just a moment in my day. It is within this space where I can allow myself to find perspective, calm my active mind, be silent, just move and breathe with no expectation or destination. This is when I can start to work on finding that acceptance, love, kindness for myself and others.

This doesn’t have to happen in a yoga class, either. It can happen anywhere and any time in your life. Let me back up and explain that yoga is not just made up of just the poses that you find in a yoga class. Yoga, as defined by Patanjali (an ancient sage who wrote the Yoga Sutras) is an eightfold path. As written so eloquently in Yoga Journal, these eight steps basically act as guidelines on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life. They serve as a prescription for moral and ethical conduct and self-discipline; they direct attention toward one’s health; and they help us to acknowledge the spiritual aspects of our nature. This path includes asana (physical poses), breath work, concentration, meditation and more. I use all of these to help me find space and freedom.

So when I take the time to do physical practice (move through poses or asanas), it gives me the chance to honestly look at myself and observe my tendencies, my meaning. What do I do and how do I feel when I am challenged or when I am at ease? Am I telling myself a story about how I think things “should be”? Am I labeling things as “good” or “bad”? Am I judging myself? Others? It is an opportunity to sit with what is and allow it to be. An opportunity to breathe and connect what my mind and body are saying to each other. I can ask myself questions and not need to know the answers. I can be as I am. No need to change a thing, be a role or keep up. I can just move and breathe, connect and observe. As I practice, I try to find kindness and acceptance of myself—without judgment (I tend to be hard on myself or push too much, so I observe this carefully). All of this translates “off the mat” and into my daily life. When different types of situations arise, I remember my observations “on the mat” and try to apply what I have learned. As my practice has developed, I also try to apply this non-judgment, acceptance and love towards others around me, whether I know them or not.

J.P.: You teach Yoga. I don’t get Yoga. I’m 45, I’m stiff, I have a shitty lower back and whenever I try it I’m uncomfortable and unhappy. What am I missing?

C.V.: I don’t think you are missing anything, Jeff. You’ve observed how you felt. Sit with it. Let it be. Hopefully you won’t let those fleeting feelings keep you from trying again. See above.

I am happy to explain how I came to yoga and why I am staying with it for life. I discovered yoga when I was living in Northern California’s wine country (a mini-break from corporate life, but still a construction job). Someone told me about a yoga class that was a really good workout. Since I was doing a lot of weight lifting at the time, I thought yoga would be a good way to complement that and challenge my body in a new way. That person was right. It changed my body and helped me with all other sports I was involved in; I became physically stronger, more flexible, my endurance and balance improved … I could go on and on. What I didn’t know is that it would change my mind, too. Yoga changed my perspective on how I dealt with everything in my life (and still does, as it is a continual practice).

I started listening more closely to what my instructor (a great guy named Alexei Brown) was really teaching. Yes, there were the poses, but there was an underlying message in every class. A message to connect your mind to your body through your breath. Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings and try not to let them stay, as we are much bigger than just our thoughts and feelings. Pay attention, without judgment, without attachment and acknowledge what is going on in your mind and body. Observe how you respond to your thoughts and emotions with your body. (For example: does your breath change? How? Do you tense up? If so, where? Do you relax more? If so, how?) This connection of mind and body will teach you about yourself if you are willing to listen. It will deepen your human experience, inwardly and outwardly. It did and does—every day of my life. I will continue this practice as long as I can breathe.

With husband Brian.

With husband Brian.

J.P.: Cathy, this is not the reason I brought you here, but I have to ask this because, well, I have to ask this. So I might as well go with it: In 2005 you worked as a construction manager for the Trump Organization. Specifically, your focus was a high-rise tower in Chicago. Soooo … what was it like? What was the company like? Did you ever deal with our 45th? What can you tell me?

C.V.: Ah, The Trump Organization! Yes, I wanted to come back to New York City after living in California and was looking for a job to get me back. This is exactly how it happened. I called my mom (like I always do for advice!) and we simply started looking into different real estate developers and job opportunities . She said, “Trump is a developer, why don’t you call them?” Sure, I thought, just call Trump and you’ll get a job. But, hey, I figured what could I lose? So I cold called. Coincidentally, there was an ad out in Columbia University’s newspaper (I didn’t go there) looking for a construction manager. The woman who answered the phone quickly put me in touch with one of the vice presidents. I sent my resume and viola, I was on a plane to New York City to interview with Mr. Trump himself. So me, in my new suit, went to meet with Mr. Trump and got the job on the spot. Honestly, in those few moments in my interview, he was professional, funny and personable as we talked about Lehigh (I went there, and so did his brother) and my work experience. I didn’t deal too much with 45 after that, an occasional meeting here and there. In those cases, I found him to be opposite of my original impression: brash, intimidating and egotistical. My first day, I was introduced to Don Trump, Jr. as he would be my direct report. I started working both in New York City and Chicago. I did meet some smart, hard-working, professional people and had a great experience working with some of the team and the contractors. From my observations, the company was run like a small, close-knit family business. I was surprised that I did not find a corporate structure, company standards, strict titles (I chose my own) and roles, etc. Things were seemingly done at the whim of Mr. Trump. Those who were close to Trump stayed very close. Those, like me, who weren’t, didn’t. Without going into the gory details as it would take up this entire Quaz, let’s suffice it to say that my philosophy on how to deal with contractors was not in line with theirs. For one, I believe in structure, standards and paying fairly for completed work. Those felt like struggles. For another, I believe in open communication and respect. I felt anxious and on edge with almost every encounter. I chose to leave after less than one year.

J.P.: You’re probably gonna cringe at this, but back at Mahopac High School you were one of the “It” girls. Pretty, smart, cheerleader, etc. And from afar, from my geek-students newspaper perch, it was sorta like, “The untouchable Cathy Iannotta.” I don’t mean you were a jerk—you weren’t at all. But you were popular and cool. And I love asking this, and I ask you: Who were you really? Like, surface be damned, were you confident? Scared? Comfortable? Awkward? Do you look back warmly at high school? With dread? Both? Neither?

C.V.: So funny! I loved high school. I look back warmly, for sure. I was smart, but had to study for it. I loved skiing, cheerleading and the senior play. I did feel like I was popular and had a lot of friends. I can tell you though that I did not feel like one of the “It” girls. I felt as if I was just on the outskirts. I loved them all (and still do, keeping in touch mostly through social media) and I felt like they liked me and were my friends but I didn’t go to all the parties and had only a few really close friends that I hung out with. I was pretty confident in myself and comfortable in high school, although I had my insecurities like anyone else. I felt like I got a lot of positive feedback from my peers and teachers, which was important at that time, so that helped with my confidence. All in all I look back with great memories and have life-long best friends.

J.P.: Your resume is thick and fascinating, and one non-Trump gig jumps out. From 2001-2005, you built custom-designed estates in California’s wine country. It was seven projects, $22 million in construction. So—consider me the idiot that I am in this area. What does that mean? Entail? Is it exciting? Dull?

C.V.: Thanks, Jeff. California was such an amazing work experience. I went to graduate school for both architecture and construction management. I started working for a real estate developer in New York City, but thought maybe it was time for a change. I had always loved design and smaller scale projects were always attractive to me. A friend of my mom’s was building a home in Sonoma County, California and reached out to me because their builder was looking for a project manager. I don’t remember why they thought of me in New York City, but it sounded so appealing: building houses in wine country! I called, they were interested and I took a flight out to Cali to explore. I decided to take the leap and spent four years out there as a construction project manager building homes for some wonderful families. Basically, I coordinated with these families and their architects to help put together a budget and schedule to build their home. I saw the project through from the ground up; working with the entire team. It was fun to see these amazing homes get built and help people realize their dream of building them. I lived in Healdsburg, a beautiful wine country town and spent a lot of time touring the wineries and enjoying the laid-back lifestyle. After a few years though, I craved the New York City life and missed my family and that is when I moved back and started working for Trump.

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 8.05.16 AM

J.P.: You post a good number of Yoga photos on Instagram, and it’s you doing these crazy poses that I couldn’t master were there a gun to my head. So how does one get to that point? That skill level? And, in Yoga, are you working toward poses? Like, do you see a pose someone does and make it a goal?

C.V.: Yes, I love posting photos! It’s fun and I love the Instagram community of yogis. It is inspirational to read their stories and perspectives. They are all so positive and supportive, too. But, no! There is no goal in yoga. No destination. Yoga is a practice. It is a continual journey in which we are always exploring ourselves—both physically and emotionally. It allows us to calm our mind and connect to our body. Asana practice serves as a way to go deeper into learning about ourselves and finding more peace in our lives as a whole. Now having said that, the more you practice, the more your body develops strength, flexibility, balance and the more you can explore the poses and deepen those as well. It is a lot of fun to “get into” a challenging pose that you’ve been working on, but certainly not a goal. Yoga is a great way to get physical, play and laugh at yourself, post pictures and see others having fun, too. Get upside down, you’ll feel it!

J.P.: You did a lot of work with Goldman Sachs—a corporation synonymous with “success” for some, “greed” for others. What says you? What’s your experience?

C.V.: Yes, I spent about five years working with the Goldman Sachs real estate and development team. I worked for Tishman Speyer, a real estate management and development company that was hired as the “owner’s representative” for Goldman Sachs. As part of this amazing team, I met the sharpest, most hard working, conscientious, goal oriented people I have ever come across. I found that the atmosphere at Goldman was intense and high level. They have high expectations and don’t accept anything less than the best. Most of the people I worked with were smart, engaging and supportive. I’m sure there were the big egos and the negatives, but being a step back and having perspective now, those encounters are far from my memory.

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 8.06.34 AM

J.P.: Am I wrong in thinking that Yoga gives you a Zen I might lack? What I mean is—from Trump to climate change to the drought out here, I feel like I’m always JUMPING AROUND LIKE THIS!?!!?!? And … you … seem … very … chill. And I love that. And aspire to that.

C.V.: You are not lacking anything. You are complete just the way you are. You have an active, busy mind, which is completely normal as most people do! Yoga gives you the chance to observe your busy mind, your feelings and emotions allowing them to be. It provides tools to help you calm your mind and your feelings of “JUMPING AROUND LIKE THIS!?!!?!?” It makes me think of this Buddhist monk named Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, who talks about something he calls the “monkey mind.” I love the way he describes our mind as being like a crazy monkey who just can’t sit still. It’s very funny and so true. You may not think of Buddhists as being funny, but they really are. Anyway, according to Rinpoche, our mind is like a crazy monkey who just chatters on and on and does not stop moving. We typically do two things to tame it. One, we fight with it to stop and/or two, we try to ignore it and push it away. In each case, the monkey just keeps at us, chattering. The way to calm the monkey mind is to make friends with it. Acknowledge it exists. Then, give your mind a job to do to train it when it gets crazy. Tell your mind to pay attention to your breath. As thoughts come in crazy or not, as they will, simply bring your mind’s attention back to your inhale and exhale. You can use this technique anywhere at any time and with practice, your thoughts become quieter and quieter and you are able to calm the monkey mind. Breath awareness (called pranayama), by the way, is one of yoga’s eight limbs.

I am not more Zen than you. I do have the tool of yoga, which includes meditation (another one of yoga’s eight limbs) to help me calm my monkey mind.

J.P.: I hate, hate, hate meetings. I can’t stress that enough—loathe. In your career, I’m sure you’ve been through tons. You’ve seen it all I’m guessing. So what are corporate meetings always so awful? And how did you survive them?

C.V.: Yes, I’ve been through tons. I guess I am so far removed from those meetings that the thought of them doesn’t evoke the same sort of hatred that you feel. Some were better and more necessary than others. However, I always felt like many of them were way too long, included way too many people who didn’t need to be there, included way too many people who just loved to hear themselves speak and there were way too many of them in the day. You survive them because you have to! They’re just part of the process with most jobs. Like I tell my kids, sometimes you have to do stuff you don’t want to do. That’s life. Try to find the positive.

Screen Shot 2017-10-10 at 8.15.58 AM

QUAZ EXPRESS WITH CATHRYN VINCENTZ:

• Rank in order (favorite to least): grilled eggplant, Tony Toni Toné, ISO-14001 Environmental System, Noah Syndergaard, diner mints, Huntington Beach, Sue DeMarzo, the designated hitter, Bernie Sanders, Poughkeepsie: Huntington Beach, grilled eggplantdiner mints, Bernie Sanders, Poughkeepsie, Tony Toni Toné, Sue DeMarzo, ISO-14001 Environmental System, the designated hitter, Noah Syndergaard (needed Google for him!)

• Five reasons one should make Mahopac, N.Y. his/her next vacation destination?: 1. Lake Mahopac is lovely – take a boat out or go for a swim; 2. In the fall there are so many great farms to go apple picking – I have such great memories of this as a child and now taking my kids, too; 3. Check out all of the new restaurants (well, new to me as I just moved back up here); 4. Putnam Yoga is close by and you can take my yoga class; 5. In just a short drive away get an ice cream at King Kone.

• How comfortable are you with our mortality, on a scale of 1 to 100?: I’ve accepted it, but not so sure about “comfortable” so I’m going to say 75.

• One question you would ask Tim Pigott-Smith were he here right now?: Who are you? (OK, so I googled him, too. Sorry, Tim, I don’t pay much attention to actors, athletes or celebrities, but Google says you were great.)

• Your husband has the greatest beard of all time. What’s the key?: I know, totally! I guess the key is not to trim it too much?

• Best advice you’ve ever received?: This too shall pass.

• Ever thought you were about to die in a plane crash? If so, what do you recall?: No. I’ve felt some bad turbulence and I always just think there is no way the plane will go down.

• I’m guessing you’ve worn many of those construction hats in your day. Do you, like, sanitize them first? Look for loose hairs? Or just plop it on?: Yep! That is one of the first questions people used to ask me: do you wear a hard hat? Funny. I still have my first one from my first job in Boston. When you’re on a job, you get your own so no worries about anyone else’s loose hairs! But if I am on another job site, honestly, I just plop it on.

• Five all-time favorite words?: love, peace, namaste, om, literally (my 4-year old uses this word all the time and it makes me laugh!)

• You live near King Kone. I love King Kone. Three best flavors?: I do, too! King Kone is all about the soft serve. So, chocolate, vanilla and chocolate/vanilla swirl.

Showtime Book
Love Me, Hate Me Barry Bonds Book
Sweetness Walter Peyton Book
The Bad Guys Won Book
The Rocket that Fell to Earth Book
Boys Will Be Boys Book

Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life