May 11, 2017

My Memphis Wrestling experience at Game6 Grizzlies and the RSWF [Real South Wrestling Federation]

<< crossposted on the '30 Home Games' blog

Whenever I travel, I search for my 3 loves of basketball, wrestling and comedy. I've found them with varying success around the world but have had an easier time on my #30HomeGames mission as they typify Americana.

My ongoing collection of Wrestling Grizzlies graphics 
Part of the reason why the Memphis Grizzlies are my favorite team is their reverence of pro-wrestling. America's Mid-South has a great wrestling tradition and the Grizzlies honor that with themed wrestling nights. Their mascot 'Grizz' incorporates wrasslin into his shtick with the use of ladders and championship belts. Local wrestling icon, Jerry "The King" Lawler periodically appears at games to inject excitement into the crowd.
During game 6 of the Grizzlies game, former WCW superstar Buff Bagwell was curiously in the front row. Interviewed during a timeout, he revealed that he was in attendance to support the San Antonio Spurs. Perplexed at first, I immediately marked out as it signalled that Jerry Lawler was just around the corner to challenge him. They worked a program over the course of the game. Buff Bagwell with the upper hand at first, parading around the hallways and arena stage over several play stoppages until he got his comeuppance. Lawler setting up Grizz the mascot as he delivered a top-of-the-ladder splash onto Bagwell's surrogate who was splayed on a table. The experience was bittersweet as the Grizzlies couldn't match that script, coming up short against the Spurs. The fact Memphians entertain such absurd theatre makes them my kind of people.

Real South Wrestling Federation: Memphis' only weekly Pro-Wrestling show!
I was looking forward to experiencing wrestling in one of its traditional home's of Memphis. RSWF (Real South Wrestling Federation) is the biggest of the remaining federations in the "Blues City". They host weekly Saturday Night main events which I was excited to catch while I was over there. My last night stateside would be at RSWF. Despite competing with WWE NXT in town for that evening, the performers and loyal crowd put on a spectacular go home show. Had the Grizzlies staved off elimination and forced a Game 7, I would've been torn but there's no way I was going to miss this.

One half of Tag Team 'Full Deck' taunting the RSWF faithful
RSWF founder, Soultaker plucked me from the crowd before the show to introduce himself. He'd been expecting me as I'd expressed that I was coming from Australia to watch Memphis wrestling. He gifted me with a goodie bag that included his patented mask previously cracked by Jerry Lawler himself. It was a humbling display of southern hospitality and grassroots outreach, evident with the sense of community and camaraderie in the arena. When wrestling is at its best.
Stash of Wrestling Goodies from Memphis:
'Memphis Heat' vinyl from the Flashback store and
a gift bag of memorabilia from Soultaker.
The show was a blast, an excited crowd of adults and children really making their presence felt. From the constant taunting to the raucous lumberjack match where paying attendees were encouraged to "interact" with the combatants as they spilled outside the ring. The audience of lumberjacks each given leather straps so the performers felt the love. The night didn't end there. After the show, Soultaker invited me backstage to meet the wrestlers. Several photos were taken with skinny ol' me posing between the champions and their belts.

A post shared by Loz In Transit (@30homegames) on

Of the NBA cities visited, I've found Memphis' public transport the least sufficient which is no mean feat. You're effectively obligated to use Uber to travel affordably. I'd Ubered to the show but didn't have wi-fi at the venue to hail a ride home. I ended up getting a lift with some wrestlers back to my hostel, riding with the tag team of 'Pure Power' who main-evented the evening. I would find out that V-man's kids who shared the backseat with me were students at Treadwell, Penny Hardaway's high school. I'd visited the Memphis Tigers' college campus the day previous and would've explored Treadwell had I discovered the connection earlier.

The Game 6 and RSWF wrestling nights were indicative of the good fortune and welcome I had in Memphis and Atlanta. I would cross paths with WWE star Tye Dillinger on my transit home, a fitting end as my road trip south was a "Perfect 10".

Find RSWF (Real South Wrestling Federation) on Facebook and YouTube here

Find my other posts on Wrestling and Travel here:
- 30HG NBA Destinations: WrestleMania 29 and Indy Wrestling
- Coolspotting: Nerding out in England - Comics, CosPlay, Video Games and Wrestling
- Pro Wrestling and Mixed Martial Arts in South America
- Memento Spotlight: UFC and WWE autographs in England
Memphis Grizzlies meets "Memphis Wrestling"

Jan 23, 2017

LozinTransit trip to Texas, 2016: Spurs/Rockets/Mavs. Comedy, Wrestling and the US Election

<< crossposted on the '30 Home Games' blog

My first 30HomeGames road trip was a short getaway with friends, an East Coast jaunt at the start of 2015. I've just completed my second NBA journey, a month solo backpacking around Texas. On my first trip we rented a car and stayed in swanky accommodation. My recent outing was budget travel in the fashion I'm accustomed to, catching Public Transport and staying in hostels. It was quickly evident how impractical and atypical this was for locals traveling regionally. Backpacker infrastructure in America isn't well developed, particularly outside the main metropolises. American Road Trips customarily involve rental cars and Motels, a function of how ingrained car culture is in the States.

#30HGsouthwest Texas Triangle
Oct 27 - Nov 23, 2016
My maiden 2015 visit was a more traditional American Road Trip. Whilst saving on comfort costs as part of a collective, I conversely found it more touristic. I wasn't able to indulge in as many of my passions and go down weird rabbitholes having to conform to the whims of the group. This Texas trip was more like my previous backpacking adventures. Going solo opened me up to more opportunities and connections. I sought out Comedy and Wrestling, hung with locals at their spots and got to explore Universities and sit in on a Megachurch. The clash of styles I experienced on my first two trips gives me perspective for future excursions and how to best balance the pros and cons.

Timing was crucial on this trip as I had a target of seeing all 8 Aussies in the NBA. I had a set itinerary of games to make which posed some restrictions. The 'ROH' wrestling show in Arlington were the only advanced tickets I purchased however so I wasn't beholden financially. Thankfully my calendar dovetailed nicely with several events. Notably Houston's 'Come and Take it' Comedy festival and 'Unelectable You' in Dallas. The latter a treat, realising the regional advertisements I'd heard on podcasts for months were suddenly applicable being in town.

I love these games
Playing Board Games was a new pastime I'd picked up last year and it translated well on the road. On my first night Stateside I attended a Games meetup and made new running mates which opened the door to many local experiences. I attended several parties for Halloween, experienced VR at a lavish house and finally participated in a Hash Run after being made aware of it years ago. I'd often tell people that basketball was great because while "you couldn't invite yourself over to dinner, you can with sports". The Board Game scene is similarly welcoming.

Whilst I value organic experiences, part of the 30HomeGames project is connecting with fellow hoopsheads and seeking unique fan experiences through Social Media. My first contact with the NBA was at Madison Square garden, the New York Knicks kindly hosting my friends and I to pre-game access. Whilst difficult to top, I was kindly welcomed by Rockets die-hard @00_rocketgirl and the 'Red Rowdies' cheer section to fire up the team. Particularly memorable as they're enjoying renewed success and celebrating their 50th Anniversary as a Franchise. Olajuwon and the Rockets were my first love when I began watching the NBA as a kid.

Part of the reason I traveled during that time was to witness the outcome of a Historic election. It gave the period a special sense of import. Austin, the only non-NBA destination for the trip was finally ticked off my bucket list being a big fan of local filmmakers Richard Linklater and Robert Rodriguez.

I'm undecided for my next NBA plan but have considered a quick return for the coming Playoffs. Fingers crossed. With my modest means (work leave and money) I can only manage one NBA trip per season but I'd make special exceptions to watch my Grizzlies make a Finals push. Prioritised for 2017 is AfroBasket in Congo-Brazzaville, which would complete the FIBA set, having been to EuroBasket, FIBA Americas, FIBA Oceania and FIBA Asia tournaments previously.

As for NBA Home Games, 6 teams down and plenty more adventure to go :)

My NBA Trips so far:
East Coast 2015 (NYK, CLE, PHI)
- Coolspotting: 30HG '2015 NBA RoadTrip' Tip-off and Schedule (1 of 2)
- Coolspotting: 30HG '2015 NBA RoadTrip' Champagne and Campaign spots (2 of 2)
- LozinTransit in 2015: American Roadtrip, FIBA Oceania and Asia
- #30HomeGames in 2015: USA Roadtrip and being the Ultimate NBA fan

Texs Triangle 2016 (DAL, SAS, HOU)
- Texas Triangle 2016: NBA Roadtrip wishlist
- LozinTransit in Texas, 2016: Spurs/Rockets/Mavs. Comedy, Wrestling and the US Election

Sep 24, 2016

Retiring the @30HomeGames Instagram.

<< crossposted on the '30 Home Games' blog

I've owned a smartphone for just over 2+ years. In that period I've devoted a lot of my time finding content for my Instagram. It was a departure from my insistence on "living in the moment" when I was backpacking for years sans camera. I posted Daily, documenting my exploration of new places and subcultures using basketball references to bind the photos in theme.

If I was watching Contemporary Dance, I'd look for an audience member wearing fresh sneakers. If I was at a Comedy show, I'd spring into action if I heard a comic referencing basketball. I'd check out the latest Burger Pop-ups but I'd hunt for punters wearing Basketball jerseys.
The premium was on finding quirky perspectives, usually for things that were trending or topical. Whilst occasionally photos were straightforward basketball pics, I was excited by finding odd juxtapositions or clever visual puns in my daily life. I was on a constant scavenger hunt. What began as a way to remain focused on the 30HG Project when I wasn't abroad quickly turned into an obsession.

In the same way Jim Carrey became obsessed with the 'Number 23', I was in a craze trying to connect everything to Lebron James and Michael Jordan.

I'm retiring the home (Sydney) component of my Instagram. I'll be reserving updates for upcoming plans, resuming regular daily content for when I'm on the road. I enjoy how projects like this foster daily habits of exploring, searching for novelty and lived experience. The Content is a bonus. I'll still be checking out shows and new scenes, I'll just be experiencing it more fully as I won't be so preoccupied with capturing it now. Truth be told, my Camera Phone is broken. With no plans to replace it till I head Stateside for my "Texas Triangle" roadtrip.

30HG goes to USA
30HG goes to CHINA
I'm proud of what I experienced with the @30homeGames Instagram. Besides taking me abroad to the States, China and New Zealand, I also got to dive into my local culture. Checking out more Art shows, finding new spots and making new friends around Sydney. It made me more proactive in playing ball, joining clubs and seeking Hoops events. It even motivated me to run my own Basketball tourney. The energy reminiscent of when I started 'Loz in Transit' during my Yes Man year of 2010.

To commemorate my 2+ years capturing and living "Basketball is Life", I present a mixtape of some of my favorite photo sets:
30HG at the GAME
30HG at ????
- '30 Home Games' on Instagram: Basketball Souvenirs, Streetball and Hoops around the world
- Jacques Henri Lartigue: Why I'm getting a camera

Dec 10, 2015

LozinTransit in 2015: American Roadtrip, FIBA Oceania and Asia.

<<crossposted on the '30 Home Games' blog

Founded in Lithuania during EuroBasket 2011, I've been documenting my search for basketball experiences on my @30HomeGames project. It became an Instagram-focused pursuit when I got my first smartphone in 2014, each day capturing a moment through the lens of basketball. Whether its snapping Basketball kicks on a Bushwalk, a jersey at a Foodie gathering or finding Hoops of the World. These daily scavenger hunts have made my adventures at home as novel as my adventures abroad, a premium placed on quirky and improbable intersections.

#30HomeGames in 2015: USA Roadtrip and being the Ultimate NBA fan
I started 2015 with a splash, spending 2 weeks on the US East Coast. The New York Knicks graciously hosted my friends and I at the World Famous Madison Square Garden. An auspicious start for my mission to visit all 30 NBA Cities.

In 2011 and 2013 I quit work and went on extended trips, 13 and 6 months respectively. I knew this wouldn't be the case for 2015 but continuing my FIBA (International Basketball Federation) streak would be a solid consolation. During my EuroTrip I spent a month in Lithuania as they hosted the biennial European Basketball Championship. I made sure to attend the Americas equivalent in Venezuela during my 2013 South America Trip. For 2015 I had a choice between FIBA Asia and AfroBasket. I had sights on the African tourney in Tunisia but ultimately decided against it with uncertain developments in the area. Going to Changsha, China for FIBA Asia and adding nearby Wellington and Melbourne for FIBA Oceania rounded out a worthy mission for the year.

Under the header #30HGaustralasia, the itinerary is as follows:
Aug 15 - Melbourne, Australia. FIBA Oceania Game 1
Aug 18 - Wellington, New Zealand. FIBA Oceania Game 2
Aug 22 -  Melbourne, Australia. LSU Downunder Tour
Sep 23 to Oct 3 - Changsha, China. FIBA Asia
Oct 11 - Shenzhen, China. NBA Global Games

As with previous forays into FIBA action, watching games came with a learning curve. I endeavour to watch as many of the competing Nations as possible, sourcing tickets through official channels. Regular games usually don't meet quarter capacity whilst the Host nation plays to a packed house which often means having to brave the secondary market. With FIBA Asia in Changsha, there was little choice but to deal with secondary vendors. Rather than having booths by the stadium, tickets were sold at the nearby university. A stall was set up with all the tickets emanating from a lone backpack manned by a student-type, these were snapped up by enterprising locals who tried their luck reselling them. All transactions were cash in hand which makes one wonder where the money ultimately ended up. How much you paid for tickets fluctuated with demand and the whims or mercy of the vendor, a glimpse into the negotiable markets of China.

In some ways this helped. I paid most for tickets in the beginning when I was just getting my bearings and saved money progressively. I watched all 7 Gilas Pilipinas victories paying around 100-200 RMB (AU$20-$40) for the earlier, less coveted games. Come the Playoffs as Gilas matches were incorporated into Double-Headers with the China games, we were able to ask for tickets from the departing locals who only wanted to watch their National team play. We had to compete with savvy resellers doing the same. Newcomers invariably get taken advantage of so it helps to ask around and get a lay of the land as early as possible. The fun part about these trips are always the things you stumble on and the connections you make that can only happen by being on the ground and having your feelers out.

A photo posted by 30homegames (@30homegames) on

Whilst this proved successful for watching other games, I ultimately couldn't stomach paying the high price to see the Host nation play. I departed Changsha altogether on the morning of the Philippines VS China Grand Final knowing it'd be futile trying to watch it live. Reports would later say that even Filipino Coaching staff had trouble securing tickets for the game.

This proved the same for the NBA Global Games in Shenzhen between the Charlotte Hornets and Los Angeles Clippers. With tickets starting at a hefty AU$80 and ultimately selling out, I braced myself for an uphill battle. I was happy to observe the pandemonium in search for access but didn't want to risk any money by joining them, I witnessed every manner of bribery and trickery imaginable from eager travelers and locals desperate to watch the game.

Vista views: Fenghuang and Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
Ticketing aside, for me these trips are shaped by the adventures outside of basketball. Without the benefit of a rolling start and the considerable language barrier, this mission was arguably my most challenging travel experience. As South China was less frequented by Western travelers I didn't encounter many peers, on the other hand I was less concerned about falling prey to travel scams. Interestingly as China is densely populated and I'd unwittingly visited during the Golden Week Holiday, I was never very far from hordes of Chinese locals who were commuting during their short Annual window away from work. En route to my Final basketball destination in Shenzhen, I spent a week traveling through Fenghuang (Ancient Phoenix town) and Zhangjiajie National Forest Park (popularly inspiring 'Avatar'). Heavy rain and a severe dose of food poisoning put a damper on some of the days but it turned out to be some of the most scenic places I've ever visited.

The China trip gave me lessons and set expectations for AfroBasket and FIBA World Cup if I am to pursue them. Likewise for "Missions" in general. At times it can feel more like a Business trip, as previously these basketball trips were happy detours on a larger backpacking adventure I never really noticed the process before. Interestingly all my trips this year have been in the service of basketball, beginning with USA to Melbourne, New Zealand and China. I like traveling with a larger theme in mind, so its only fitting.
It's been a good year. My daily Instagram snapshots, whilst seemingly one-dimensional with its basketball theme offers a fair accounting of what I've been up to. No plans for 2016 but I've got my head up waiting for the next play.

Feb 26, 2015

#30HomeGames in 2015: USA Roadtrip and being the Ultimate NBA fan

<< crossposted on the '30 Home Games' blog

One of the primary reasons I created 'Loz in Transit' and its offshoot blogs was because I enjoyed having an undertaking that fostered life experiences. Since becoming a "content seeker" for these projects I feel more connected, inspired and proactive. Even though I've recently returned from a short USA trip, activity on my travel blog has been sparse as nearly all my focus has shifted to my basketball mission. In particular the @30HomeGames Instagram which I update daily and consumes most of my waking thoughts.

We embarked on the maiden #30HGroadtrip to the snowy US East Coast, cruising from New York to Cleveland by SUV. I had a Fairytale in New York as the Knicks graciously hosted @30HomeGames to pregame access at Madison Square Garden aka "The World's Most Famous Arena". We also sat Courtside behind the Player's bench in Philly and capped it off watching this Generation's greatest player, homecoming King LeBron playing in Cleveland.

At this stage, my growing obsession for Instagram has me viewing the world through a square, basketball-themed prism. The shift largely precipitated by my new life as a Smartphone user, its been 7 months now. A lot of the inspiration and insight which filled these pages came to me during quiet moments of reflection traveling Europe and South America. I didn't have a camera for the majority of my travels but on the occasions I did I realised it made me neglect writing. The Smartphone has made this worse tenfold, conversely Gramming has helped me develop a more economical way of storytelling.

There's a lot in store for '30 Home Games' in 2015 so stay tuned.
I have an interview with a diehard Australian jersey collector coming. I'm also campaigning to be the 'ESPN Ultimate Fan' so please show your support. As its an 'even' year, FIBA basketball returns. I'll be contemplating whether to continue my streak having already attended EuroBasket '11 and FIBA Americas '13. I have a choice between a mid year trip to either Asia or Africa. #AfroBasket2015 hosted by Tunisia or FIBA Asia in Changsha, China.

- FIBA Africa, Tunisia 2015 (August 19-30)
- FIBA Asia, Changsha 2015 (September 23 - October 3)

I've decided on FIBA Oceania (August) and FIBA Asia (September). Follow the journey at #30HGaustralia

Nov 26, 2014

Coolspotting: 30HG '2015 NBA RoadTrip' Tip-off and Schedule (1 of 2)

<< crossposted on the '30 Home Games' blog

The '30 Home Games' Mission, my pursuit to visit all the NBA Cities officially tips-off in 2015. I'll be joining 3 friends on a two week Eastern Conference roadtrip. Primarily visiting a friend who's relocated to the Big Apple, we'll be passing through Philadelphia, Cleveland and Chicago then cap it off in Vegas. Returning home with a friend, the other half continue for a snowboarding excursion in Utah.

@30HomeGames 2015 NBA Roadtrip (January 26  - February 8)
 New York, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Chicago, Las Vegas
This preliminary trip will serve as a sampler for my 30HG mission. A chance to experience the North American travel infrastructure, budget considerations and hospitality expectations. For our accommodation and travel, we'll be AirBnB-ing and renting a car collectively. Outside of family I've never traveled overseas in a group, having backpacked Europe and South America solo. I've Couchsurfed and rideshared several times but have yet to try AirBnB. In fact none of the guys have, so we're looking forward to the experience.

#NBApostcards: Greeting from the Eastern Conference
(Updated 2015 postcards coming soon)
I'm not one to make an itinerary, as in life preferring to go with the flow when traveling. I've stumbled onto happenings, made new friends, found places to crash and scored free tickets armed with a spirit of adventure and a curious eye. I usually don't have much lead time heading into a destination as I'm directed by my whims. I found out about the existence of EuroBasket weeks before I headed into Lithuania for the Tournament. For FIBA Americas in Caracas, I mentally prepared myself having been forewarned by friends about the Country's complicated infrastructure. I was forced to scrap the playbook when faced with the realitiy on the ground.

'30 Home Games' figures to be a different experience as I've been researching and anticipating events and places well ahead of time. Whilst I've indulged my interests in Comedy, Wrestling and music in my travels, the States is the epicenter and birthplace for many of these things which sets some lofty expectations. That's not even considering the NBA!!!
- Find my NBA Roadtrip to-do list here

Eastern Conference NBA Destinations:
Atlantic (NY, BK, PHI) and Central (CLE, CHI)
'30 Home Games' has been 3+ years in the making and now it's really happening. I can't wait!

Find my Eastern Conference to-do list here:
- Coolspotting: 30HG '2015 NBA RoadTrip' Tip-off and Schedule (1 of 2)
- Coolspotting: 30HG '2015 NBA RoadTrip' Champagne and Campaign spots (2 of 2)
- Champagning and Campaigning in the NBA Cities: Eastern Conference edition
- Find other Coolspotting and Subculture posts here

Sep 26, 2014

'30 Home Games' on Instagram: Basketball Souvenirs, Streetball and Hoops around the world

<< crossposted on the '30 Home Games' blog
Jacques Henri Lartigue: Why I'm getting a camera
I was steadfast (stubborn) in not getting a camera as I had enjoyed the manufactured dynamic when I told people I was without one. I was happy with other people's photos, it became an experiment. It allowed me to live in the moment, any photos of me were candids or documented outside myself.
Many of my basketball experiences during my travels haven't been captured in Photos. I only got my first Smartphone 3 months ago (Shoutout to SP*) and only had a camera for a quarter of my time during Europe 2011 and South America 2013.

The '30 Home Games' mission in pictures
Follow @30HomeGames on Instagram
The main goal of this blog is to have lived experiences, writing about it has been a good way to capture the memories and encouraged me to find more. Often times however it's been without Photographs. I don't have any Courtside shots of the games I watched in Caracas (FIBA Americas) or the during the NBA lockout period that made my time in Lithuania (EuroBasket 2011) so star-studded. Whilst they were fun, my interests are more in personal interactions than celebrity-spotting. I value experiences had outside the arena, often through the prism of basketball but ideally as a participant rather than a spectator.

Some moments only gain stature in my mind due to lack of documentation. I befriended an Amsterdam local at a HipHop bar because of his Amar'e Stoudemire 'Stat NY' shirt. With his recommendation, I took a 30min busride to Amsterdam-Noord for some pickup games which immediately got rained out. Play carried on, a mixed full court game in the wet gray. A moment that has stuck with me for its surrealness.

The last few months up I've set up a '30 Home Games' Instagram to house the photos I do have. Below are a few samples of the types of Photos, Graphics and Hashtags to look out for. A few are crossposted on my my other platforms - The 30HG Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

My collection of sneakers and the stories behind them
Explore #30HGkicks
Basketball references are always shoehorned into each Life snapshot
Porto Alegre, Brazil (Oct 2013)
Streetball experiences at home and in my travels
Bogota, Colombia (December 2013)
Collection of Basketball shirts collected in my travels
Explore #30HGtees
Crossposts of the Graphics found on this blog
'Team UNDFTD' emerge victorious
Basketball adventures found in my hometown of Sydney
'One Day Sundays' (Booze, Beats and Ball) at Vic on the Park
Kindly Follow '@30HomeGames on Instagram. Tell your friends :)