LONGBOARDING FOR PEACE
Longboarding is the merger of surfing and skateboarding. Michael Brooke brings the sport's enthusiasts together to improve world problems.
The artwork of celebrity athletes went on display in Los Angeles prior to the 2014 ESPY Awards. The exhibit will also be touring several cities in the United States (New York and Miami) and Europe. For more, visit www.Athletes4Art.com.
Bench Warmer: Pin Up Girl Trading Cards
While the ever-growing popularity of the Internet has adversely affected print media, there are still companies producing tangible products. Bench Warmer is one such enterprise, with a focus on collectibles that pay homage to a bygone era. Founded by entrepreneur and collector Brian Wallos, Bench Warmer is renowned for its pinup girl trading cards that are reminiscent of the Baseball cards many Americans once collected.
"I'm a collector at heart," Wallos muses. "I began collecting baseball cards when I was six and I became a baseball card dealer in my teens." He ultimately stayed with the industry, going on to sell four million dollars worth of baseball cards during the 1990's, and founding Bench Warmer in 1992. The first cards put out by the company were 120 cards showcasing models donned in sports themed outfits. The 1997 release of an 100 card packaged series even included Pamela Anderson. In 2002, Bench Warmer celebrated a decade of being in business with a 250-card set that was released over a three series run.
The company became Wallos' sole focus in 2003 when he relocated to California. As a collectibles expert, he always felt it important to add true value and integrity to his products. For example, baseball cards of years past were collectibles for several reasons: featured players, signed cards, limited edition cards, and surprises such as bubblegum hidden in the packaging. Wallos realized that he could create a new line of trading cards with those same qualities.
A big step was featuring beautiful pin up models instead of athletes. "The sports themed pinup cards play on that whole tongue in cheek aspect," Wallos smiles. "If you'd think that baseball cards would have baseball on it, why not create cards showing girls on a sports team?" He adds that Bench Warmer cards feature a wide variety of themes, from holidays to even boot camp. Like the now vintage baseball cards, Bench Warmer also creates cards that are scare, only available in limited editions.
There is also the excitement of certain cards having been signed or kissed by the model, and that some cards even include bubblegum in the packaging. "There's a Willy Wonka Golden Ticket aspect to these cards," Wallos laughs. Customers will want to open pack after pack until they find that one with the autograph, the kiss imprint, or the rare insert cards. Collectors will be intrigued by the fact that Bench Warmer cards increase in value as a particular model's career progresses. Many models start their careers as "Bench Warmer" before becoming household words. Holly Madison actually modeled for Bench Warmer, and since finding fame; her card's value has skyrocketed.
Because the pinup trading cards are not nude but tastefully done, Bench Warmer enthusiasts need not worry about making sure the cards are kept hidden. Still, the target market is largely collectors, pinup fans, and men who miss their youth. Particularly with the gum cards, the draw of the product is more about the nostalgia it brings than the fact it's a trading card. For this reason, there's no competition with the baseball card industry, and the company does not take money away from Topps or Upper Deck.
Bench Warmer products can be purchased in comic book and card shops. A deal was also recently made, in which the cards are soon to be carried in 711 and Spencer's Gifts. Yet, despite the emphasis on the cards being a physical good, a great deal of Bench Warmer's business is done online. A few things are available from the site directly, with the majority of the cards being sold through EBay. The site acts as a price guide, with dealers selling and buying steel cases of Bench Warmer products. That amounts to 24 packs in a box and 24 boxes in a case. It works well for the dealers, as in the collectibles world, when a case is sold the seller generally receives double that amount. Individuals also place EBay auction bids for up to hundreds of dollars for cards, such as the rare insert "chase" cards.
In the future, Wallos has much in store for Bench Warmer. The company is in serious talks to do a reality show. Wallos sees multiple line extensions of products such as clothing, and perhaps even restaurants, as upcoming possibilities. He closes by asking people to "picture Bench Warmer: a world wide brand representing beauty that girls will aspire to be a part of, and that men will love to collect and look at."
- Donna Letterese
For more information about Bench Warmer and the company's pinup trading cards, visit www.BenchWarmer.com.
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
San Diego's legendary Del Mar Racetrack will create the ultimate 2010 summer scene from July 21 to September 8 with seven weeks of world-class Thoroughbred horse racing, weekly free concerts and more promotions than ever before.
NIKE Run Club
NIKE Run Club helps you locate new routes in the city, test-drive the
latest NIKE footwear, run with motivated people and even try out Nike+.
Runners and walkers of all levels meet to run their choice of 3, 5 and 7
miles. It's fun, free and offers a guaranteed great workout. Followed by
NIKE Run Club Meets *Thursdays at 6:30pm*
Location: NIKETOWN at Wilshire Blvd. and Rodeo
Dr. (Beverly Hills)
NIKE Run Club Meets *Wednesdays at 6:30pm*
Location: NikeStore at The Grove (Los Angeles)
Website - http://nikeplus.nike.com/nikeplus/
Anyone Can Tri
After being dragged out of bed one too many times to cheer on his mom, my twelve-year-old son finally decided it was his turn to swim, bike and run his way through a triathlon. Upon crossing that finish line for the first time last summer, he was hooked. Now I'm the one dragged out of bed! But it's given me the opportunity to view this sport from the sidelines.
And what an inspiring view it has been! I've watched two fearless ponytailed sisters, ages seven and nine, rack their miniature Fuji bikes while Mom gently lectured them on transition-area etiquette. I've grinned as an eighty-five (and a half!) year old man shuffled down the final stretch of the run to a cheering crowd. I've witnessed a relieved woman who had forgotten her goggles be quickly handed a spare by a total stranger. I've seen a determined father push his mentally-challenged teenager across the finish line in a large stroller. Earlier, I'd stood on the beach, wide-eyed, as that same kid swam a beautiful freestyle, finishing ahead of two-thirds of his competition.
My own first triathlon of the season is fast approaching. Together, with women of all ages, I'll be racing in the Los Angeles Danskin Triathlon, one of eight races in a nationwide series which in its 19th year has become the longest running multi-sport series worldwide. We differ in background and experience, yet our goals will undoubtedly converge as we rack our bikes that morning: avoid getting kicked too much in the swim; execute an error-free transition; hammer out a fast bike-leg, free of flat tires; whip through another perfect transition; and dig deep to find enough strength to finish the run. I know from having raced in the Danskin Tri previously that it's a day of encouragement and the chance to say, "I did it!" with other women who find the same joy competing in this crazy sport as I do.
Watching that eighty-five year old man finish his race, I remember hoping that I'll still be completing in triathlons at his age. Most people won't understand that. But those women at the Danskin Triathlon will. No doubt they're hoping the same thing.
- Erin Fry
New Mexico Golf on the Upswing
When John Klauk sunk his final put on the 18th green at the picturesque Inn Of The Mountain Gods course recently, he became the inaugural winner of the first leg of the New Mexico Challenge. The three-event tournament is a
collaboration between the New Mexico Tourism Department and the Tight Lies Tour to help promote the state as a premier destination for golfers.
New Mexico is rapidly putting itself on the golfing map, confirms Dan Vukelich, who runs the statewide newspaper Sun Country Golf. "The rest of the nation is finally discovering the golf that we've had here for the last six years." Vukelich attributes much of this new interest to the creation
of several top class courses following the opening of the Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Club in 2000. Located in the mountains outside Albuquerque and designed by award-winning architect Ken Dye, Paa-Ko Ridge was recently awarded the prestigious 5-star rating by Golf Digest magazine, an accolade afforded to
only 17 courses in the country and reserved for such esteemed venues as Pebble Beach. "Over time, it just ended up all these golf courses matured and hit the national golf radar," adds Vukelich, who recently launched the website
www.golftoursnewmexico.com, offering full motion video of many of the state's courses, "So you can see the course before you play it."
A visit to New Mexico will quickly show why golf has become a billion dollar industry for the state. "Golf in New Mexico blends history, landscape and legend. Cultural flavor is everywhere," says NMTD secretary Michael Cerletti. "Throw in extraordinary mountain vistas, amazing southwestern terrain, moderate temperatures and clean, invigorating air and you
realize why golfers will travel hundreds of miles to play golf in New Mexico." With a wide variety of spectacular and beautiful courses, ranging from mountain, to desert, to parkland, New Mexico has something that will appeal to, and challenge, every golfer.
Following the first stop at Inn Of The Mountain Gods, the New Mexico Challenge moves to the Santa Teresa Country Club (Aug 31 -Sep 1) for the Currey-Adkins El Paso Open before the final leg, the Cities Of Gold Casino Golf Classic at Towa Resort Course (Sep 14 -17). The New Mexico Challenge offers a wonderful opportunity for emerging professionals like Klauk, for who this was his first tour victory, to establish themselves. With total prize money of more than $350,000, and with a fourth stop at Farmington being added in 2007, the New Mexico Challenge is set to become increasingly popular, according to Vukelich. "It's only in its first year so I think it's going to have an impact on New Mexico's reputation with the high caliber players."
New Mexico has already garnered respectability with the nation's golfing media as home to some world-class courses, but for the state to announce itself as having truly arrived on golf's main stage, it needs to host one of the sport's big tournaments. It's something Vukelich feels is only a matter of time, "I think eventually there will have to be an event here. Albuquerque and Santa Fe are growing in leaps and bounds and golf is improving exponentially and it's just a matter of getting on the radar of the makers and shakers back in New York. But we're getting there!" When asked if he could
ever envisage a time when the US Open would be staged in New Mexico, Vukelich says, "I think so."
As well as offering impressive courses in magnificent settings, New Mexico also provides golfers with excellent value for money. "For the last six years New Mexico has been a secret destination for the average golf tourist who got tired of Myrtle Beach or Alabama or southern Colorado," explains Vukelich, "so when they look at it now, they see a five-star
golf course that costs less than a $100 when all the others are $250 to $450 and they say maybe we should try New Mexico. So we're finding people who come here as a foursome are coming back with eight and 16 and 32 golfers at a time."
For those lured to New Mexico by its golf courses, a whole host of other wonders await. Dubbed the Land Of Enchantment, the state offers a rich history of ancient cultures dating back to the Indian cave dwellers and Spanish Conquistadors. The famous Carlsbad Caverns is just one of New Mexico's many natural wonders while cities like Santa Fe offer the best of contemporary culture with renowned museums, fine dining and opera. Now, with all the recent advancements made, New Mexico can proudly add golf to its long list of reasons to visit. "New Mexico is a golf-lover's paradise," confirms
Secretary Cerletti. "From Las Cruces to Santa Fe, Truth or Consequences to Los Alamos, Taos to Apache Mesa and White Sands - somewhere in New Mexico there's a course with your name on it."
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