Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Road To Moose Jaw

Relax folks, the makers of AutoTune are still on the lam...

Willie Nelson, Jagger and Richards, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Johnny Cash, the Grateful Dead and now...

Justin Bieber.

With the arrest this morning of the fictional pop creature, the drug bust ranks of those connected (some in ways more dubious than others) with the music world just grew by one.

Let the hand-wringing begin.

Apparently, little Spreidel was pulled over by Florida cops for drag racing at 4am local time, allegedly doing 60mph in a 30mph zone.

Bieber, described in the arrest report as having a "flushed face, bloodshot eyes, and the odor of alcohol on his breath", was then taken into custody where he was fingerprinted and photographed-- which brings to mind an immediate question:

Is Miami the only police jurisdiction that offers airbrushing with it's mug shots?

The 19 year old is also alleged to have made a statement confirming the booze, as well as copping to having smoked marijuana and taken some prescription medication; and god, I really hope that last one is the roll-on testosterone supplement for impotent old guys...

After several hours in custody, Bieber was released on $2,500 bond, waving to fans as he made his way to the now-requisite black Cadillac Escalade before being whisked away, one assumes, to a different dimension populated by the usual retinue of ass kissing sycophants, lawyers and some really open minded unicorns.

So, what's the play now? As we speak, Bieber is in a precarious situation, career-wise. His transformation in the past two years from doe-eyed moppet into straight up doe-eyed moppet thug has surely eroded some of his original fanbase-- that is to say music-hating parents looking for safe drivel to spoon feed their ADHD tweenie hellspawn.

Mom jeans and absentee Dad can't be at all thrilled with Biebs going all shirtless P90-X, staying up past bedtime, smoking the devil weed and hanging with Jim Henson's Gangsta Babies, can they? Sure, rich kids smoking weed and pretending to be all gangsta is pretty weak dickless stuff; but, those 8 year olds and their parents do wield some pretty heavy buying clout.

So, does Bieber-- already near the end of the typical teenybop life cycle as it is, do the whole 'I need treatment and I beg forgiveness' route in an effort to appease/save what's left of his fanbase; or, does he play the hard card to impress his little crew of ass licking trust fund homies so as not to lose his gated community street cred?

My guess is he's gonna choose the latter; but, most likely, he's fucked either way.

Here's what I mean: If Bieber tries to go the public sympathy/rehab PR route to salvage what remaining love the wee ones have for him, it's gonna take awhile to rebuild that bridge, if it happens at all. And, in the unlikely event he does succeed at this, what will he be? A guy in his 20's still aiming right at that 8-12 year old fan base-- sort of like a super creepy version of Wooderson from "Dazed And Confused".

If, on the other hand, he decides to be "street Justin" to look hard and impress his cronies, what's really for him there? Barring some sort of deal at the crossroads level revelation of a shocking amount of talent, he's really unlikely to find himself a solid older audience base. Sure, he could drop both the kiddie pop and fake hip hop guises and try and reinvent himself as some sort of sexless, crooning Andy Williams of the future; but, remember, old people are old.

They're not necessarily stupid-- and no one wants to hear something called "the Biebs" inflicting himself on "Stardust" or "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes", now do they?


I've been trying to think of teen idols in my lifetime who have successfully transitioned past the training bra set into long, successful careers-- artistically or commercially (it's up to you).

Beatles and Stones aside, only two come immediately to mind:

Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake.

Jackson's adult career started off incredibly (1979's OFF THE WALL, 1982's THRILLER); but, after that, despite continued chart success, he became known more as a freakshow. Timberlake may be less influential; but, it seems unlikely his life and career will head down such a dark path as Jackson's.

So, will Bieber be either of those two?


Lacking both Jackson's innate talent and Timberlake's sense and savvy, Justin Bieber will do what he can to keep his name going for as long as possible before simply fading away. Like MC Hammer he'll try gangsta rap, with similar results. Then, he'll grow a grubby beard, claim he's always "been a rocker at heart" and front some shitty band that makes Matchbox 20 sound like Black Sabbath, before finally settling into a little musical theater troupe on the outskirts of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

Sleep well tonight Tony DeFranco, Scot Baio and Leif Garrett. Sometimes the system really does work...

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Rain, The Ballpark and Everything...

      Without the occasional kamikaze rouser, it'd be just stagnant rabble...

Recently, there's been a lot of crap flung at Miami Herald sports columnist/ESPN host--talking head, Dan LeBatard, about his recent decision to turn his Baseball Hall Of Fame vote over to readers. 

This has brought about no small amount of hand wringing from fans, Major League Baseball and ESPN itself; and, honestly, it has been so damn entertaining.

A quick synopsis: Dan LeBatard was, until lately, a voter in good standing with the Baseball Hall Of Fame. He's stated he has issues with the voting process; and, recently, decided to outsource his vote to readers.

Oops. Apparently...

Because the shit hit the fan.

The BBWA (Baseball Writers Of America) have suspended his stadium credentials for a year, and have revoked his Hall Of Fame vote forever. Fans and baseball geeks from far and wide seem to have mostly condemned his action; and, most importantly!, ESPN has kinda been puking blood over this for the past two weeks.

Again, oops!

By way of full disclosure, one of LeBatard's main planks on this issue is the willy-nilly dismissal of those who are alleged to have played a big part in the steroid era. He is saying 'how can we know?' and 'who gets to decide?' in cases where folks like, say, Barry Bonds, have NEVER once failed a test.

A salient point, as it calls into question the notion of trying to somehow standardize, on the run, that which will remain a fluid situation for most likely a long, long time.

I, on the other hand, fall into the opposite category for the most part: Bonds, OUT! McGwire, OUT!

And so on...

Yet, I am right with LeBatard on this from start to finish; save for my willingness to hang the obvious, to me, steroid guys...

Even Robert Lipsyte, acting in an 18 month term as ESPN's reigning Ombudsman refers to LeBatard's HOF gesture as a "caper"; which is kinda messed up, as it seems to imply that he decided to do this after gobbling a bag of mushrooms and a half-pint of rum.

C'mon, Robert Lipsyte, you're said to be better than this...

LeBatard's problem is with the "hypocrisy" in the Baseball Hall Of Fame; and while he and I may disagree on what type of hypocrisy exists, we both agree it exists. In multiple forms...

Personally, no one will ever explain clearly enough to me how Brady Anderson went from 15 HRs in 1995 to 50 HRs in 1996. Yeah, I know the '95 season had the first six or so games lopped off the schedule; but, I really doubt Anderson would've hit 25-30 in that week/ten days...

But, that's me.

Actually, despite my almost diametric opposition to LeBatard's BBHOF steroid argument; my sympathy with his "caper" lies in the very notion of such Halls Of Fame themselves.

To begin with, there is Sandy Koufax. I am a Dodgers fan (though I was a baby during his 5 season heyday), through and through; but, Sandy's HOF enshrinement seemed to be something of a pity-based honor, at best-- just like the NFL HOF bringing in Gale Sayers!

Don't get me wrong, I am an absolute fan of them both! Koufax shot down the baseball world for 5 spectacular years between 1962-1966; and his greatness cannot be denied!

Gale Sayers is probably still the most talented running back to ever grace the NFL; and to see his old highlights is to see the term greatness redefine itself with every subtle cut and juke, before that most fucked up acceleration kicked in, burning all in it's wake.

I agree that BOTH Koufax and Sayers should both be in their respective Halls Of Fame.

But, had either been, say, more consistent and less 'flashy' over a longer period of time; but, with the same stats, no one would care.

Sandy Koufax: 165W-87L , 2.76ERA (Baseball Hall Of Famer)
Gale Sayers: 4,956 Yds., 56 TDs (NFL Hall Of Famer)

Yes, Koufax was a World Series champion, while Sayers never came close to the playoffs; but, dig even deeper and you find:

Jack Morris: 254-186, 3.90 ERA (3 time World Series Champion; not in HOF)

Chuck Muncie : 6,702 Yds., 71 TDs (not flashy, not beloved, did some coke, NO HOF for him...)

I realize the semi-ridiculousness of my using two different sports with two different (though similarly baffling) criteria for induction into their respective Hall Of Fame; but, I'm a semi-ridiculous guy.

Making, at least here, a not at all ridiculous point; which is that all major sports need to get their asses together and draw up specific qualifications for their HOFs. To wit: Koufax's stats would NOT get him in by today's standards! So, do we raise the stats bar; or judge by a sliding scale, the importance of such stats against the level of competition?

And these things can be taken across boundaries from sport to sport, as well.

Finally, there is the most ridiculous aspect of the LeBatard "caper", as Lipsyte so dramatically characterized it:

From almost every angle, it appears this thing still has as much traction as it does, only because ESPN is pissed (miffed?) that LeBatard went off-platform by going to

Some fellow ESPN on-air folk (especially the "PTI" guys, Wilbon and Kornheieser; known to be friends of LeBatard) skinned Dan LeBatard alive for 'grandstanding'-- like ESPN doesn't encourage sweaty grandstanding from the likes of Chris Berman and Skip Bayless, et al...

C'mon, MAN!

The most telling quote of all came from cuckolded ESPN VP of editorial for digital/print media, Patrick Steigman, who said "The problem was not with the protest, but with the execution. Why didn't he do a SportsNation vote on Or offer the vote to his radio audience? We'd have allowed him to do it."

So, in summation, what ESPN is griping about and using as a way to sort of distance themselves from LeBatard for awhile is this:

Something that sounds a lot like an objection from a moral high ground; but is really more about him not symmetrically integrating his protest along the many ESPN platforms.

In short, ESPN disagrees with LeBatard because he didn't do it through them. Nothing more.

It was not the act, or controversy, ESPN objected to; just that it happened through another pipeline that has, in the past, taken the Worldwide Leader to task.

Maybe you look into that Mr. Lipsyte?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Stand Your Groundless

                 Some saw 9-11 as a tragedy. Some saw it as an E-ticket...

Sweet sweaty lil' baby Jesus, how I fucking hate pricks who constantly use their "smart" phone, etc., in public. If you wanna quietly read in a public place, cool. However, Skyping, loudly talking, iThis/Thating in every restaurant, market or bar is just way too messed up.

Screw you Bluetooth headset mooks who always make sure the rest of us hear your alleged multi-million dollar deal breaker of a conversation with Ricki Lake or whoever you chinstrap bearded oafs think we'd be impressed with...

We're all sick of it, okay?!

And then came tonight.

In some dump called Wesley Chapel, Florida, some guy saw fit to text his 3 year old daughter during coming attractions at a local movie theater.

Yes, that is annoying.

Anyway, the guy behind him (Chad Oulson) and his wife, Nicole, went to complain to the manager. The manager of the theater didn't think it a big deal, so the complainer, 71 year old Curtis Reeves, came back to his seat, apparently even more agitated.

Explanations were offered, words then exchanged , before actual popcorn flew; and then, as would logically follow, came the gunfire.

And young father/husband, Chad Oulson, lay mortally wounded; as his wife, Nicole, dealt with a shot hand.

And a dying husband.

Oh, another fucking gun tragedy, right?! Whatta surprise!

No! Happily, this one turns out happily!

Turns out that the shooter, Reeves, is a retired cop! And, since 9-11, any dumbass who wears/wore a badge is automatically considered a "hero", and can therefore do whatever the hell they want, because the gun-lovin', badgey star-fuckin' religious right in this idiot backward country totally says so!

If an ex-cop in a Bible Belt state thinks a guy should die by gunfire because he was texting his kid during the coming attractions at a local Thee-ate-er, then, AFTER FURTHER REVIEW, the Bible as written by Jesus Himself confirms the ruling in the Thee-ate-er!


So, a young father is dead, his wife wounded while watching her husband die; and you know it's only gonna get more shitty.

Curtis Reeves' defense will cite his (no doubt) exemplary record as a god-spoonin' lawman. No doubt will it also cite his right to carry a firearm; as well as Florida being a "stand your ground" state.

I'm pretty sure Reeves' religious beliefs and other such useless crap will be cited as evidence of his obvious innocence-- even though he pulled out a gun and killed a guy, because that guy annoyed him during coming attractions for whatever Will Ferrell abomination is coming this Memorial Day.

And, don't forget the whole ex-cop angle in Reeves' defense, either.

Since 9-11, all cops/firefighters are presumed to be ethically pure heroes; and, to be sure, SOME actually are.


But, in a gun-lovin',  Jesus-snortin' state, look for all stops to be pulled out in order to spare poor Curtis Reeves (he of the presumed heroic history of selfless public service) the punishment, shame or ridicule. 

Already, we're hearing Reeves will be charged with, at most, 2nd degree homicide.

Second degree homicide?! Meaning that it's already been determined that some old cop killing a guy who just wanted to watch a movie with his wife (you know, before being murdered) was, in even some small way, justified?!

(Yes, it was NOT premeditated; but, yes, someone died because another guy shot him dead with his Constitutionally protected gun!)

Right there is evidence of two cults working together to make one powerful delusion: Between the psychotic cults of religion and the gun lobby, superstitious and genetically suspect folks will just eat it up, in the name of Jesus.

And that of the late Charlton Heston.

If a black guy had shot someone in a theater in L.A., due to the same extenuating circumstances, the shooter would be facing first degree homicide.

But, since the shooter is an ex-cop white guy from the Bible Belt, he's facing murder 2.

And we all know he'll most likely get probation at best.

We're a sick, broken country where a nonexistent god and a sick love of guns mean more than true decency and commitment to community.

Maybe these colors don't run; but they also don't really stand for much anymore, do they?

Thursday, January 09, 2014

I've Fallen, And I Can't Get It Up!

Nice try, Grandpa.

 I am at an age where a lot of people are going through mid-life crises, feeling worried or depressed about the soon-to-arrive 'golden years' and just sort of counting the days until the sweet release of death.

It's the age where you notice the ratio of cranberry juice to vodka changing rapidly; until one day you're drinking plain cranberry juice, on purpose, because you read it's supposed to be good for the urethra...

It's the age where you start to notice you and your friends aren't a whole lot of fun anymore, mainly because now you all talk like those overly serious panicky above 40's in those insurance commercials:

#1 "Did you hear about Tom?"
#2 "Yeah. Such a shame, and he was only 73! I wonder what June's gonna do now?"
#1 "Says she's gonna have to move to Yakima, live in her daughter's crawl space."
#2 "Such a shame. Yakima's so damp!"
#1 "I know, so damp! If only she'd had better financial planning."
#2 "You don't think that could happen to us, do you?"
#1 "Of course not, silly; we don't know anyone in Yakima!"

The music gets quieter, the drugs come with printed directions and schedules instead of some guy just saying "hey man, get yourself to a safe place in about half an hour, you know?!" and, slowly but surely, long idiot discussions over some rare vinyl find are replaced with long idiot discussions over the latest episode of "Downton Abbey".

And everyone is home and in bed, falling asleep to the 10PM news...

Now, don't get me wrong. It's not that I'm completely unconcerned with mortality and some of the other big issues that arrive and seem to chase off the fun forever. I am concerned with them; but, I'd like to think I have a little perspective.

I'm not saying I have the definitive answers on ANY of this stuff. To be honest, most of my so-called perspective brings more questions than great revelations:

Can I fight, to any successful degree, the physical/mental aspects of aging?

Will a radically modified diet/health care regimen significantly improve my quality of life and add a reasonable number of healthy years to my life?

Will my senior years be actually fun; or that weird square-dancin' and falling asleep while driving kind of old people fun?

If I completely change my ways, am I still gonna die?


Yes. So, fuck it.

Now, obviously the majority of people do not see things my way on this, and that's fine. And, no, I do NOT have a specific death wish of any kind-- it's just, what are you really going to do?

What can you really do?

Well, if the world of advertising is to be believed, plenty!

Pills to make your dick hard. Pills to make your stool soft. There's pills to stop a leaky bladder; and pre-lubed catheters for when your bladder ain't leaky enough! You want gluten-free, or extra gluten with that? If the blue pills ain't poppin' it enough, how about some 1.62% testosterone solution, now in a convenient roll on!

Botox. Chemical peels. Scrotum lifts. Vaginal rejuvenation. Liposuction. Macrobiotics. Crossfit. Yoga. (that damned infernal yoga) Raw food. Veganism. Pilates. Hair plugs. South Beach Diet. Penis pumps. Fish oil, and on and on and on...

But what does it all get you? A slightly less pelican-like neck, a participation button for a senior's half marathon and maybe 5 more years to watch your friends die off while you go from one regimen to the next, looking to keep your scrotally lifted balls in the air for as long as possible.

For what? More and more doctor visits, even as the list of things you allow yourself becomes ever more restrictive? Sure, most likely you'll be technically "healthier"; but will you be any happier? And what memories will you have for your deathbed? "Oh boy, remember the time I juiced that kiwi, rind and all?! Man, heh heh, those were wild times..."

Okay, maybe there's a happy medium here; a logical point between my burn down the mall approach and that of the health 'enthusiasts' on the other side. Perhaps I should tone down the not sleeping/occasional epic drinking binges/cheese on everything/smoking approach a bit; but, I also believe that those on the opposite side could adjust themselves a bit, as well.

Cut loose every now and again! Have some fun, for chrissakes! Have a cigar, or see if hangovers are still as fun as you remember them being! (they are)  Stay up all night talking about something other than burial plots or your sister in law's gout.

Lighten the fuck up; and remember: If all you do is try to defy time, all you're doing is wasting it.

No matter what measures you take, one way or another, we're each headed for our personal Yakima.

How do you wanna get there? A parade or a procession? 

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Oh That Dennis...

Kim, Rodman. Not pictured: Dignity.

On his way to his inevitable fate of giving strangers $5 handjobs in public toilets, Dennis Rodman is gonna make sure that, if nothing else, he is not forgotten. There was a time when his name conjured images of pure grit and hustle. Lockdown defense and rebounding were his calling cards on the basketball court; but, those days are long, long gone...

Nowadays, Dennis Rodman seems on a mission to keep his name in the public eye by any means necessary. Either immune to embarrassment, or so addled by years of binge drinking that he can no longer recognize it; Rodman will seemingly show up wherever there are a few cameras and something of a paycheck. Hey, the man's gotta make a living, I get that; but, at least he could try and do something a little more dignified like, say, one of those Bum Fights videos or something.

In his latest "look at me!" escapade, Rodman has assembled a team of other seemingly cash-strapped ex-NBAers to go and play an exhibition game for Kim Jong Un in North Korea. When I first heard this, it sounded surreal to me; which means, considering that it's Dennis Rodman, it made perfect sense in kind of a through-the-looking-glass way.

Imagine if Leo Durocher had hit a few grounders to Hitler and Rommel on a trip to Berlin in 1942; or maybe wrap your head around how it might've looked if Joe Namath and Ayatollah Khomeini tossed a football around outside the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1980, because this isn't all that much different.

And yet, while a number of Americans are outraged (especially NBA Commissioner David Stern, who couldn't distance himself and the league fast enough), I'm not. At least not as much as others. Let the political scholars who are far more educated than I am analyze and breakdown North Korea's history of human rights failures.

Me? All I can see is the circus.

Right now, Rodman and his weird antics are still entertaining in a sort of harmless freakshow way; but, we can all kinda see where this is headed, and it ain't gonna be pretty.

Whether it's drugs, booze, mental illness or any combination thereof, it's clear that Dennis Rodman has some serious problems. Personally, I'm not a big fan of interventions and the like. Maybe it's worked for you, and if so, great.  To me, cornering Grandpa and reading him letters detailing how his boozing and whoring are making Grandma cry in Heaven just seems kind of a shitty and manipulative thing to do. The only true answers are those we find ourselves, as opposed to being emotionally beaten and guilted into submission.

But, maybe Rodman has now become such an extreme case that the only thing that might save him is to be kidnapped and put into treatment for whatever is going on.

The way things are going right now, he just looks like one of those guys that's gonna OD in some abandoned barn, or fall asleep on railroad tracks or freeze to death in a walk in refrigerator at some Stuckey's out in the middle of nowhere.

But, for the time being, his ever-dwindling little circus goes on, accompanied along it's many stops by a tatty, wobbling brass band playing a song that sounds a little more like a dirge with each passing day...