November 22, 2009

Charlie Weis Must Go - Now!

"You are what you are, folks, and right now you're a 6-5 football team. And guess what? That's just not good enough. That's not good enough for you, and it's certainly not going to be good enough for me." -- Charlie Weis, five years ago, upon being hired as the new Head Football Coach at Notre Dame

"If they decide to make a change, I'd have to say I'd have a tough time arguing with that. If they decide to make a change, I'd have a tough time arguing that because 6-5 is not good enough, especially when you've lost five games by a touchdown or less and several three-point games that went right down to the wire. My intent is to be here. But if that were the rationale, I mean it would be tough for me to argue with that point." -- Charlie Weis on Sunday, after an overtime loss to UConn dropped the Irish to 6 - 5.

NBC, sensing (and adding to) the writing on the wall, ran the clip from Weis's introductory press conference toward the end of the UConn debacle. It was a nice move on NBC's part, hoisting Weis on his own petard, as it were.

That's at the core of the whole Weis problem: his Parcells/Belichick - bred arrogance cast him as a make-or-break proposition. And Weis broke. Now, it's time for him to go. What's more, Weis needs to be the one to resign. He can't wait for Swarbrick to fire him. He needs to announce his resignation effective at the end of the season, and he needs to do it before the Stanford game. It's the only way to put any kind of positive spin on his lackluster tenure at his alma mater.

Under different circumstances, he might have one more year. He has great people going into their senior years at his offensive skill positions, including the nation's best quarterback (Jimmy Clausen), one of the best all-purpose ballhandlers in the nation (receiver/returner/wildcat back Golden Tate), and a very solid running back (Armando Allen). They also have potentially the best tight end in the nation (a freaky talented Kyle Rudolph), and one of the best new-school wide receivers (Michael Floyd). The O-line is a bit more problematic, but there seems to be enough underclassmen in rotation to get the job done as well as it was this year (frankly, the O-line was good this year, but they should have been dominant). And the defense? Well, the defense sucks anyway, so you have to figure that they can assemble something better, no matter what they have to start with. If there can be an arguement made for retaining Weis, there is no reason that co-Defensive Coordinators Corwin Brown and John Tenuta get one more year in South Bend.

I know that, last year, I said Weis should have only one more year. However, if I'm the AD, I'm looking at a team which should have been a top-ten team that is returning some absolutely ridiculous talent. A new head coach virtually assures that a senior-heavy lineup will be wasted, even if they actually hung around . . . and if my name is Clausen, Tate, Floyd, or Rudolph, I'm gone. So that, at least, is an argument for retaining Weis.

On the other hand, there is the dick-swinging that Weis has done since day one. That introductory press conference pretty much seals his fate. Sure, 6 - 5 sucks, but maybe you get forgiven for 6 -5 if you don't set that as the mountain you die on.

So Swarbrick is essentially in an untenable position. The best option for next year is to keep Weis, since that represents the best possible outcome for the next season. And the payoff could be substantial: the talent is top ten, even if the coaching hasn't been even close to that level. On top of that, a coaching change virtually guarantees another mediocre season. But it was Weis himself who set the bar, and he has failed. Swarbrick will be hung out to dry if he dares retain Weis. He has to fire Weis. He has no choice.

This whole thing goes back to the firing of Ty Willingham. If that fiasco had been handled properly, then Swarbrick would have room to operate. But, Willingham was fired prematurely, so there is a heightened situation for Swarbrick and Weis to deal with. And, of course, Weis himself added to the problem with his aforementioned dick-swinging. It is completely fair to point out that Weis's .573 winning percentage is worse than Willingham's (and Davie's) .583. And given Weis's arrogance, he has to be held accountable.

There are a lot of things that Weis has done right at Notre Dame, and they are important things: Notre Dame's graduation rate is even better now than the high standards set previously. His recruiting classes have been the best Notre Dame has seen since the '80's, and he hasn't had the same "character questions" that floated around the Holtz teams. The Weis teams have all represented Notre Dame in the best possible manner off the field.

And yet, that isn't enough. Why? Because of the arrogance of Weis himself. The only way this will end acceptably is if Weis announces his resignation this week.

November 14, 2009

More Free Hoosier Pete Downloads

Let's face it: I'll never get around to selling this stuff on my own. So here it is, free of charge . . .

The Portland L.P.


The Drunkard's Lament E.P.

Enjoy! And, while you're there, surf around the Indiana Musical Family Tree. It's a really fun little network.

Of course, the Swirling Gingerbread River E.P. is available right on this here blog. Collect all three!


November 8, 2009

Your Virtual Mexican Vacation

Any moment, the snow will start to swirl around your window (ok, it's 75 degrees here today, but I'm looking at the calender, not out the window). The holidays are just around the corner, and since you probably work a shitty service industry job, that means as the days get shorter, your hours get longer . . . and, what's more, everyone thinks you're a perfect whipping boy/girl for their own holiday neuroses ("feel slighted and embarrassed because the boss didn't invite you to his Christmas party this year? Take it out on that sap behind the counter!"). What you need is a vacation, and now! Not after the fifteenth of January, you won't get any vacation then either, 'cause your boss is going on vacation first, then there's inventory, then there's those big mandatory work sales they run in the depths of the winter to try to make their first quarter numbers, etc. You need to get away NOW! But of course, you're going nowhere, because you can't quit your job, and even if you could, you couldn't afford to go anywhere. So, here you go - a virtual Mexican vacation!

First, download this photo and set it as the wallpaper on your laptop:

Done? Good. Now charge that sucker up, and head out to your favorite Mexican restaurant. Of course, the food at the average Mexican restaurant has little to do with real Mexican food, but what do you care? You're an American! And besides, there's margaritas! After the third one, you won't even care that the average Mexican has never tasted a margarita, at least not until he/she got to the U.S. As an added bonus, there will be plenty of "Mexican music" caterwauling over the speakers in the restaurant to get you in the mood. You're that much closer to your Mexican paradise! Just don't forget the margaritas!

When you get home (take a cab, for the love of god! How many margaritas have you had, anyway? Three? Four?), by all means continue your virtual Mexican getaway. First, fire up some authentic Mexican music on the Victrola (my choice is a little number called The Roots of the NarcoCorrido on Arhoolie, a nice little collection that provides a scholarly context for the current rage in Mexican music, the NarcoCorrido . . .). Fire up the ol' video machine and load up Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart. Then, pick up a book or two. Start out with Richard Grant's travelogue, God's Middle Finger: Into the Lawless Heart of the Sierra Madre. It is a spellbinding read and, as an added bonus, when you finish you will understand why a virtual vacation is probably preferable to a real one these days.

If one book is good, more are better. Keeping to the same mood, why not roll with Cormac McCarthy's Border Trilogy: All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, and Cities of the Plain? And, while you're at it, go ahead and tack on McCarthy's addendum to the trilogy, No Country for Old Men. When you finish that then, by all means, roll the Coen brother's movie - though it doesn't add to the novel, the photography has a degenerate glory, and Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, and especially Javier Bardem are fantastic here. A first rate crime thriller, indeed!

By the time you are done, you will have had a lovely Mexican (Sonoran?) vacation. All from the comforts of your home. And, as a bonus, you haven't had your gringo ass shot or kidnapped! Bonus!

Well, that's it for my virtual Mexican vacation. Of course, not all of Mexico is a narcotraficante's paradise, where life has no meaning and death, sometimes, has a price. There are also the beautiful tourist traps built for the gringos . . . but hey, if you wanted to go to South Beach, then you would have gone there, right? Anyway, for all my Mexico fans out there, lay some comments onto this blog to suggest your own virtual Mexican vacations (Tucson posse, I'm looking at you). Until then . . .

November 6, 2009

The Reset Button

Those of you who actually follow this spiel may be noticing a little difference lately (compared to last year): fewer posts, more (MUCH more) poetry. This isn't really by design, but there are a couple reasons for the current state of affairs.

First, I've been writing a lot of poetry lately. I've always scrawled lines in notebooks, and sometimes strung the lines together, but I've had the tendency to edit them into oblivion in the past. I'm making more of a commitment to my poetry these days - get the poems out into the open instead of throwing them away or deleting them like I used to do. This means that a few stinkers creep out, and a lot of stuff that is going to go through a lot of changes, but that's ok. There's some stuff here that really makes me happy as well.

Second, I was starting to descend into the lie of the dialectic, especially as it applied to American politics. I had a bunch of half-formed bullshit sitting in my "drafts" box that I finally just deleted. The crash and burn of the public political dialogue almost sucked me in, but in the end, pointing out the obvious stupidity of T-baggers who show up to protests with signs saying things such as "KEEP THE GOVERNMENT'S HANDS OFF MY MEDICARE" isn't worth the time or effort. You just get sucked into pointless conversations, and the level of discourse sinks down to the ridiculous. I'll leave that shit up to Rachel Maddow.

That doesn't mean that I'm becoming apolitical by any stretch of the imagination - it's just that I hope to rescue the political from the base "politics" dialectic that has become institutionalized in our crass culture . . . at least as far as it pertains to my writing. I'll probably still occasionally visit overtly political topics, but more of my stuff will be political in the sense that "Crescent" was political. We'll see how that works out.

And now, I hit the RESET button.

November 3, 2009

A Long, Long Way From May to December

the rain turns the Kroger lot to a lake
halo'd red double dragon, nail, ear,
red and green light, Christmas every day,
life in death
life to death
the dying, the autumn of the year . . .

songs now plaintive whispers
moans coming from deep within the season
Ask the Ages
jazz called free but fettered
by the weight of life lived
a song of cold smoke fog
and autumn

life drying up, the battle joined,
life, death, battle's bitter fruit
fear -
fear creeping cold
curling around the soul like smoke
like traffic threading central Kentucky knobs
relentlessly onward . . .

frozen, as if out of time
today is the first day of something
today is a marker of nothing
today is just another day
today spins forward and backward
leaves fall, trees turn to black
the lawns die, the earth turns

how many twists are left
under this low sky
another autumn, another spring . . .

fog like cold smoke out of trees
belies the heat of the funeral pyre
what lives, what dies,
in the rustic brown of autumn?