Like most of us, Adam Gerard really appreciates the finer things in life: his dogs, having his girlfriend poke fun of him, Syracuse Athletics, and well-designed bathrooms.
"I think public restrooms, and bathrooms in restaurants and business establishments are way too overlooked," says Gerard, 31, of Alexandria, Virginia. "I get excited when I visit a unique bathroom and put a lot of stock in a solid and clean bathroom in a restaurant."
If you have ever worked in an office, you would agree with Gerard on this point. Unlike dorm living, in which nearby bathrooms are guarded with wolf-like instincts by the surrounding residents, office bathrooms are largely to be avoided. Too often, companies seek to cut costs by skimping out on their lavatories: stalls are separated by paper-thin particleboard, large gaps in door hinges allow for deuce-dropping eye contact, some guy leaves behind a curiously stained printout of the latest Bill Simmons rant, certain colleagues get too excited for the free Pad Thai lunch and are oblivious to the reckless abandon with which they expel it from their bodies come mid-afternoon, and so on.
In short, the only way to survive an office bathroom is to find one elsewhere. One day, you're battling with the Custodial team for the small single-person converted closet with random pipes dripping a puddle on your new shoes. The next day, you're shuffling in and out of the same cheap bathroom that plagues your office, only this one is outside a small law office seven stories above your company's floor. Once you finish, you get blind-sided by some intern from the local law school and you're forced to use a face wash maneuver to simultaneously brush the pip squeak aside as well as silence his detailed list of reasons you're not allowed to use his floor. Finally, you resolve to sharpen your sneaky ninja skills and settle on the very nice hotel bathroom across the street, weaving seamlessly through the delegates shuffling around another bland tech conference in another bland tech city.
Now, imagine you're not the servant of some corporate machine, but its customer instead. To skimp out on your employees is one thing, but to show such shallow disregard for your customers is another ballgame completely!
This is the very reason Gerard's words should be posted alongside state laws on minimum wage in places of employment and restaurants everywhere.
Now for more on the man behind the word!
Real Name: Adam Gerard
Story behind the Username: Apparently his college didn't take Student Office too seriously, so this was his simple campaign slogan for his favorite fictional candidate, Optimus Prime. Click here to read about it in hilarious detail.
Adam Gerard was born in Pittsburgh but his family bounced around: Cleveland, Ohio; Rockville, Maryland; and Metairie, Louisiana before settling in Cortland, New York when he was in second grade. His mother and he moved back to Maryland where Gerard spent his high school years before completing the circle in Pittsburgh where he attended Carnegie Mellon University starting in 1997. "I keep forgetting I'm not a nice round number like 30," quipped Gerard, "It would be easier if I could just tell people how old I am as if it was a survey--I'm between the ages of 31 and 35."
Today, Gerard lives with his girlfriend and two dogs in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria. In Spanish, Del Ray loosely translates to "Of the Ray." His dogs, a beagle and a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, help fuel his Off the Leash column for the local Del Ray Dispatch.
Gerard serves as the Vice President of Operations at the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation. According to Gerard:
Sjögren's is an autoimmune disease where your body attacks its own moisture producing glands. This results in a lack of moisture in the person’s body. The hallmark symptoms are dry eyes and dry mouth, but it’s quite severe. Patients suffer from extreme tooth decay and cavities due to the lack of saliva.
Their eyes feel like they have sand in them all the time and over time their eyesight can deteriorate. But the systemic issues can lead to problems all over the body – joint pain, fatigue, various neuropathies, lung complications, major gastrointestinal issues, and worse. It strikes about 4 million people in the United States and 90% of the patients are women. We are raising awareness, educating the general public, patients and the medical community, and supporting research into the disease. I’ve been working there for about 7 years now.
Outside of cheering for/obsessing over the Syracuse Androgynous Orange, Gerard has a variety of sports half-interests and a solid taste for music. His sister, a half decade his elder, often treats him to her half-season ticket package for the Washington Wizards:
One of my best live sports moments was a home Wizards playoff game against Cleveland. The stadium was in full-on "white out." Fans were waving towels like mad and the crowd was by far the loudest I had ever heard for any basketball game. This was the year that DeShawn Stevenson was trash talking with LeBron. LeBron compared it to Soulja Boy calling out Jay-Z. Well, during this playoff game, DeShawn flew in Soulja Boy to sit courtside. I think it will mark the one and only time I’ve ever cheered for Soulja Boy.
He also lightly monitors the Washington Nationals' progress. With both teams, he feels that the right ownership is in place to groom intriguing prospects like John Wall and Stephen Strasburg.
Gerard never inherited a big rooting interest in the NFL. He followed Donovan McNabb to Philadelphia, and more recently decided to focus on hating the local Redskins. "This caused a bit of a conflict early in the season," he notes, "but Shanahan made this a non-factor by the end of the season." Gerard compares the redundancy of the Redskins failures to the plot arc of the hit television series Dexter:
At first you’re into it, then after two seasons you think, "Okay, he’s a murderer and he almost always gets caught, but then he doesn’t. How much more of this can I watch?" Then the writers find some new, exciting way to hook you in. Dan Snyder has found new ways to keep messing up the team. This season was especially fun to watch for that.
As for scratching his own itch to compete, Gerard focuses on an annual foosball tournament that started on a former roommate's table. Apparently it gets pretty intense and Gerard has yet to win the entire thing. He claims to have "above average foosball skills." The next Nunesmagician tailgate must feature a foosball tournament so we can learn what it means to be above average. There are so many variables: Indoors or outdoors? What's the humidity/sticky level? Is it a Tornado table or something else with weird nooks and crannies? Gerard remains silent on the issue and refused further comment, citing that it was none of my business. (Just kidding).
Lately, Gerard has been heavy into The Black Keys. Hasn't everyone? He also claims to have been surprised by Jurassic 5 at a concert he once attended, despite not holding them as a favorite. Other shows that come to mind for him are Jimmy Page, the Black Crowes, and an "absolutely amazing" performance by Arcade Fire, despite having terrible seats at a terrible venue. Gerard loves when the Cuse Twitterati and TNIAAM contingent recommends new music. Have at it, Commenters!
The 'Cuse Connection
Adam Gerard is a model example of SU's success in creating awareness and loyalty through athletics. He's not a Syracuse native, he doesn't currently reside there, nor does he have any official affiliation with the University itself. That's what makes it so great that he has so many stories and recollections.
"I love the color orange," says Gerard, "Probably too much, incorporating it into most of my wardrobe." It all started when he was a little kid living in Cortland, sitting down to watch the local team with his late father:
At an age that I was almost too young to even know what was going on, I remember Notre Dame making a last second bucket to win a basketball game against Syracuse and it left me burying my head in a pillow and crying my eyes out.
As the old cliche goes, absence makes the heart grow orange-r. He is extremely typical of anyone who gets the opportunity to temporarily reside in Central New York, only to leave:
it wasn’t until I moved away that I started actually paying attention and, I guess, bleeding Orange. It’s one of those moments where you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Or I was just trying to hold on to a few pieces of Upstate New York.
Further proving this point was a former roommate of Gerard's in D.C.:
She happened to be working in Syracuse in 2003 and got wrapped up in the hoopla. So she became a Syracuse fan as well. Having someone to listen to my ramblings about Syracuse and actually care only made the obsession with the team worse. We talk less about Syracuse sports now, but thankfully I have an outlet in TNAAM.
[Aside: For all those complaints about how the young abandon Central New York, isn't it interesting to see how influential Syracuse Athletics is on keeping the area in the hearts and minds of the departed? This was never more evident than the immense pilgrimage to the Dome for the 'Nova Orange Out in 2009. Thousands of young adults trekked through blizzards to descend on the city, pumping much needed cash into bars, restaurants, taxis, hotels, transit, shopping malls, t-shirt stores, gas stations, taxes, and so on. This allows more service workers to make a couple more bucks, which allows them to either pay another bill or spend an extra dollar which increases overall circulation. If the recession was America's heart attack, this single Syracuse basketball game served as a small dose of baby aspirin for the area. It may not be much in the big picture, so it's a shame the county or city's economic development department did not do more to use it as a marketing event promoting CNY life to the young professional demographic. Think like a timeshare program already!]
As with every die-hard 'Cuse fan, certain moments bubble to the top when Gerard is prompted for a moment he realized he was hooked:
This wasn’t the first moment, but it is a lasting memory: My freshman year of college (1997-1998) I remember being very excited for the NCAA Tournament. These were the days of Jason Hart, Todd Burgan, Ryan Blackwell and Marius Janulis. Etan Thomas was a sophomore. Syracuse was playing Iona during an exam. As soon as I finished the test I remember running out to the lobby in the business building. They had a big screen TV and I arrived just in time to see Janulis sink that three to pull off the win.
Consuming the 'Cuse
"Sadly, I haven't been to many Syracuse games over the years," admits Gerard, pointing out that he was extremely young and a little too far from the Dome when living in Cortland. "I definitely went to a few football and basketball games, though I don't remember them all that well."
This didn't stop him from catching the 'Cuse while at Carnegie Mellon, though. Being right down the street from Pitt, he made sure to be there when Syracuse was in town for basketball:
This was before Pitt played in the Petersen Events Center. Then their home court was a simple gymnasium with the pull-out wooden bleachers. A friend and I would cheer very loudly and obnoxiously against Pitt. I definitely was yelled at by some angry students after an especially bad defeat.
My, how the times have changed.
He's also taken advantage of his location to catch the legendary lacrosse program in action in the Face-Off Classic, as well as attend Syracuse's de facto home/neutral site games versus Georgetown at the Verizon Center, sporting his infamous orange wig. Infamous... I think that's better than famous.
Strangely, when talking about his attendance at SU events, Gerard adds a little anecdote that seems to defend a conference foe:
I had fun traveling up to the Dome a few years ago when Syracuse hosted one of the NCAA regionals. Even with bad seats, veering towards the "Long Ranger" territory, I knew that Villanova was robbed by a terrible all against UNC.
Isn't it fascinating how NCAA football and basketball is set up to make you root for your team first and your conference second, often turning rivals into your preferred winner in out-of-conference games?
As for his typical game day experience, Gerard is primarily a home body. "I watch a lot of games at home. We don't have cable so I end up watching most of them on ESPN3."
Unfortunately for Gerard, this causes a feedback loop that reinforces his viewing habits:
When the basketball team does well enough, like this season or last, and I have watched enough online with them doing well, I am worried to break that ritual. I’m not terribly superstitious outwardly, but inside I worry about all kinds of things like that.
I went to the alumni bar in DC twice – once the year Syracuse lost to Oklahoma in the Sweet 16 and then another time at the beginning of this football season to watch them get beat up in Washington. I now consider my presence there bad luck and will never go back.
The Nunesmagician Spell - a Q&A perspective
When and Why did you first join the site?
I started reading the blog early on, back when it was still on blogspot. My roommate, who is also a Syracuse fan, and a sports nut in general, pointed me to the site. I came out of the anonymous reader territory early on to comment on a State reference Sean made and just kept commenting since then. At some point my hours of commenting paid off when Sean asked me to help out with posts during a period when he was going to be away from the internet for an extended time. It’s fun to write posts and see the comments from everyone. Though it’s also a lot of pressure because Sean consistently creates such an entertaining and informative site. I am constantly amazed at what he does.
Why do you continue to read and contribute?
Sean creates great content every day. That’s why I keep reading. A website that makes me laugh while providing me Syracuse knowledge. How could I not read that every day? But I keep contributing because it really feels like we have created a community. While I know very few of the commenters first-hand, I definitely feel like I’ve made some friends via the site and Twitter. I look forward to the comments on each thread as well as chatting on Twitter with the Cuse folks.
Do you comment on, or contribute to, other sites? What's your level of activity like on here compared to others?
I used to comment more on other sites, though that has dwindled down and it’s mostly just TNIAAM that I contribute to now. So I would say that my level of activity is very high on this site.
This New Years Will Be NUMBER 1!!!! (via voteprime)
Chompin' Down (via voteprime)
Like so many other dedicated Syracuse fans and TNIAAM community members, Adam Gerard counts his love for the Orange as a lingering thread to his individual past and our collective identity. Many of us share with Gerard the idea that we can rely on the tradition, stability, and continuity of always having a next season, another memory yet to fold itself into the far reaches of our psyche, another stream by which the water flows from our past, through our present and into our future as one singular entity. We reflect on those who guided us into this haze of oft-cycling elation and misery, relaying it however we can: raising our own grove of little oranges with near-Manchurian Candidate brainwashing, humiliating our little puppies with unnaturally fitting clothes, or frightening our little spouses with unhealthy swings in mood and blood pressure.
In the end, we realize that pinning so much of our emotion and identity into a fleeting group of young adults may be trivial, but it is so encoded into our DNA that we have given up on logic long ago. We simply fall back on the hope that every single day any single player has a chance to ace an exam, take extra reps in practice, or dive for one extra loose ball with the understanding that it is a privilege to wear the shirt upon which so many hopes have been fulfilled and destroyed for so many people in so many corners of the world.
The shirt interweaves disparate threads of people's lives. As fans, we maintain the small belief and heavy desire that we help these young athletes carry it upon their backs with pride.
Dear Fellow Magicians, it's time to nominate February's Featured Magician! Please post a comment or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You might even catch me next time with less post-defeat, scotch-influenced melodrama!