December 10, 2014

Guy Fawkes Mask

monstrosities commonplace now
& maybe always while
we are sold our fear,
dear the cost of
assimilated nonsense and mostly
I feel emptied out except for a rage
that runs cold and hard like concrete

tony sez righteous indignation is the cheapest of emotions
            and it circulates like pennies
            clattering into gutters
& held in bottomless jars on dressers
which are taken and cashed in for outrage
imported from countries
who pay their workers
but pennies a day

outrage inrage
it’s all exchange
‘cause it’s no use

so, yeah, fuck it
pull on your Che t-shirt & blast The Clash
pull revolution over you like a rhinestone cape
you can always lay down irony like the right bower
if anyone deeper in the game
calls you on it

November 21, 2014


pulling on a Tecate 24
running up Preston
dank night
up about where
Indian Trail slashes across
oily dark swimming
across broken asphalt
dirt you feel as much as see
Preston is a hard, hard shithole
breathing chunked petroleum
sloughing off strip malls

perhaps not dark
so much as light
at crazed angles
coming in as negative light
always people crossing the street
in the dark, you don’t see
them just sort of hanging out
there in the double turn lane
Mexicans Africans Koreans Whites
about half dragging strollers
the lumpenprole defying death
hanging on the edge
of the broken asphalt river

all it is is
you wake up in
the morning
and find yourself
back out on Preston
fucked, like always

October 31, 2014


a line runs down the side of the face
arcing just inside the cheekbone
down to the lever of the jaw
a fine point line traced by the most delicate
of stilettos, set in the faintest relief by pebbled light

fires are lit & graves are filled by
the kaleidoscopic moods of old white men
staring into mirrors


he’s never paid attention to flower arrangements
before; there are, perhaps,
books written

that open up a world of flower arrangement
a semiotic of rose and baby’s breath
a window

into this thing he didn’t reckon
this thing, this world
is there a world

beyond this face, beyond this mirror
in abstract, what even is a world
what even is this question

and how can that thing be called into question
by the language of flowers
the voice of lilac

the world on a tree lined street
buttercups, cabbage, and hollyhock
elms oaks and maples, a boulevard

and what is this thing language that
the eskimos have 42 words for snow
and snow isn’t one of them

and snow is still only snow
and war is always war
blood rivulets sprayed like

rose petals sprinkled
in inexplicable patterns
falling across polished pergo floors

so many gerrymandered allegiances
wildflowers flowing in comically illogical

October 6, 2014

Oh, Look Who's Back

Stanley Wright has taken a break from lamenting the death of Justin Verlander's fastball to rant about something else entirely.

RIP 2014 Tigers.  What a dull thud of a season.  I feel you, Stan.

May 29, 2014

All Women, All Men

I grew up sheltered to a large degree, and my realization of the depths of the issues that women face was a bit slow in coming.  The slap and tickle grabass that sometimes broke out among teenagers always stopped at "no" as far as I was concerned . . . and besides, it was mutual, wasn't it?  It didn't occur to me that maybe a girl grabbing a boy's ass isn't the same as the other way around*.  Or, more to the point, that many women didn't have the agency to say "no" when the line had been crossed.

The whole concept of explicit verbal contracts for physicality was just surfacing at universities when I was in my twenties, and was subject to about the same level of incredulity that trigger warnings are today.  And like trigger warnings, the verbal contracts at very least started to bring to the surface deep structural issues (in this case, the pervasiveness of men's institutional control over women and their bodies).

It took another incident to start to bring home what a woman in this culture has to deal with.  In my twenties, I was really only good at drinking, so I spent a lot of my time going to house parties, since I never had the income to blow at the bars.  There was a young woman, "Janie" we'll call her, who used to hang out with us.  Janie was (and still is!) a bright, bubbly girl who had an amazing smile that she beamed constantly.  She was always full of positive energy, and a delight to be around.  She was also all of 16 years old when we first met (I was about ten years older), and perhaps slightly naive about the sexuality that she radiated.  She was, however, a pretty good judge of character, and surrounded herself with people whom she could trust; while she was out on the punk rock house party circuit frequently, she was always surrounded by her extended family of big brothers and big sisters who would watch her back (and, it also helped immensely that she was never much into booze or drugs, so she wasn't compromised in that sense).

One night Janie, my friend Al, and I were at a particularly loud and crowded party.  We got there early enough to make three or four runs at the keg before the line got too long.  After that, Al and I did pretty much what we always did at parties: lean against the wall, slam down whatever booze we got our hands on, and cracked wise.  This party, as crowded as it was, didn't afford us too many beers, so we were light on the booze and heavy on the cracking wise.  At a certain point, Janie circulated back around and chatted with us briefly.  I lamented my lack of beer, and Janie volunteered to go get me one, since she knew the guy dispensing the beer would let her cut to the front of the line.  I was fine with that, so against the wall I stayed.  An ass pocket bottle of whiskey was passed my way, and I got a short drag just before Janie got back with my beer.  As she gave it to me, I told her not to stray too far, that I was planning on leaving fairly soon, pretty much as soon as I finished the beer.  And that's the last thing I remember with any real clarity.

The next day I had to open the record store at about noon (it was Sunday).  As I jammed my key into the lock in a mad scramble to get the lights on, drawers counted, and the store open, I managed to slam my right hand in the heavy glass and metal front door.  That was the first event that I remembered clearly since I got that beer from Janie the night before.

At this point, anybody reading this knows exactly what happened.  But at the time, Law and Order: SVU had yet to turn roofies into a standard plot cliche, so I had yet to grasp the situation.

I was definitely much more than just hung over.  I got the store open reasonably close to on time.  It was the summer in a college town, and the store was right off campus, so no one was banging the doors down to get in.  The light was slicing through my head: it was so bad that I took of my prescription glasses, stuck them in my pocket, and grabbed some shades from the sunglasses display.  At about that time, Al walked in, and seeing me behind the counter with a set of Velvet Underground wrap around Ray Bans pasted to my mug sent him into a laughing fit that lasted five minutes.

I told him that I had no idea what happened to me the night before.  I could only remember drinking, at most, five beers, along with a slug or two of whiskey. I figured something must have happened after we left the party, but Al assured me that I started acting very strangely right before we left.  Al and I were frequent drinking buddies, so he was shocked that I was going to hell so quick on such a small amount of alcohol.

I had totally blacked out part of the night.  The only time I had blacked out before, I had consumed many, many times that amount of alcohol.  To this day, those are the only two times I have ever blacked out.

I was completely confused about what happened.  Al and I went over the night minute by minute, but nothing got much clearer.  He said that after Janie got me the beer, I chugged it, and then told Janie to say her goodbyes so we could hit the road.  That took her approximately twenty minutes to a half hour; by the time she got back, I was slurring my words.  As we walked to the car, Al noticed me stumbling.  He passed a friend who had just arrived at the party and got his car keys.  Janie in the meantime decided to leave with another friend, so Al was left with only me.  He couldn't talk me into leaving my truck there, so he told me to follow him, and he led me safely home.  As I went up to my house, I was barely walking, so it seemed unlikely that I did anything other than fall into bed when I got home.  It's a wonder I managed to set my alarm.

As we discussed it, all I could do is say "man, that beer Janie got me really did me in".  About the third time I said it, Al gave me a strange look, and I realized what had happened: some asshole was trying to get Janie, but got me instead.  Considering how whatever that beer was spiked with hit me, it would have completely wiped out poor little Janie.

We got a hold of Janie a few days later.  I'm not sure if what we were saying to her registered, other than the fact that she had to be careful when she was out.  Fortunately, she already was careful.  I can't say the same for some of her peers that showed up in the scene a few years later.

*          *          *          *          *

I will never understand fully what it is like to be a woman (obviously).  Even my wife, who is no shrinking violet, has had to get off the bus a stop early, or get off and walk around the block, just so some creep that was bugging her on the bus can't see where she lives.  As for me, there aren't many places in this city where I am afraid to walk (a few, but not many).  Only once was I concerned about my safety when I was being followed on the street, and all it took was an opportune scrap of 2" x 4" to redirect the attention of the people following me.

It is all women, and it is all men.  There are thousands of small, seemingly insignificant gestures that are coded in ways that men don't understand.  But worse, there are thousands of gestures which clearly cross the line that our culture still tries to excuse.  The fact that you have every intention of treating women decently is moot unless you work to revolutionize the sexist culture that surrounds us.  The fact that anyone finds the discussion of these things even remotely feminist (as opposed to being about SIMPLE HUMAN DECENCY) is sad.

So remember this next time you want to complain about being "friendzoned": first, she doesn't owe you anything, much less her body.  Second, her friendship is probably the most valuable gift she could give you.  Third, if you even think "friendzone" is a thing, you don't deserve her friendship.

It is time to start shunning and shaming sexist behavior.

*  I won't deny that boundaries are being violated in each case, but they are in no way equivalent.  It's the same with the idea that men can be the victims of physical domestic abuse.  I once discussed with an acquaintance some of the episodes from an earlier relationship when my significant other physically attacked me, and he went immediately to "see, men can be victims of domestic abuse too!", which was completely absurd because I had a foot and 110 pounds on my ex.  She was not a real physical threat to me.  Situations that are different are very, very rare.

May 21, 2014

Man Who Loves Scenery

drove a truck
between Indy & Etown
was thrilled when
I tipped him off
to the wonders
of the Joe Prather

mountains, he calls these knobs
tells his son he
drives through the
mountains of Kentucky

May 15, 2014

An Old Friend Writes:

Hey! Like your new stuff.  A lot better than what you used to do.  When did you learn to play guitar? LOL no offense.
None taken!

Funny story: I went down to the crossroads and fell down on my knees a little while back to see what I could do about my situation.  The devil, of course, was waiting for me there.

"Well, well, look who’s here.  Been waiting on you almost a quarter of a century. You finally ready to join the ranks of the immortals?"

"Yeah, yeah, we gonna do this deal, or not? Let’s get on with it."

"Now look who’s impatient.  Okay, let’s see what we got."  The devil’s salacious grin suddenly turned to an annoyed grimace.  "Really?  Are you kidding me with this?"


"This soul.  This … thing … is seriously devalued, to say the least.  There are so many liens on here I’ll go upside down the minute I try to move it.”

"What are you talking about? It’s not like I go to church, but I still make fun of new atheists.  That’s worth some god points, right?"

"Look, you’re not getting Robert Johnson.  You’re not getting Jimmy Page.  You’re not even in Peter Frampton territory here."  His bony hand went into his hood to rub his invisible forehead. "Best I can do: we heal up your left hand a little bit so you can do full barre chords, you can be the next pop punk legend."

"Because that’s what the world needs, another Billie Joe fucking Armstrong."

"It’s what I’ve got for that sorry piece of shit you call a soul."

"I’m fifty-three years old.  In what universe do I become a pop punk legend?"

"We’ll get rid of the gut, get the gray out of your hair, tone you up a bit.  No one will necessarily know how old you are.  Of course it wouldn’t kill you to get contacts and show up at a gym once in a while."

"Sorry, no sale.  What else you got?"

The devil shook his head.  ”Well, I can do Derek Bailey. Seriously good stuff, but just no market for it.  An acquired taste, apparently.  That’s fire sale value, friend.  It’s a lot more than you deserve, so you better take it before I change my mind.”

"Nope.  I already got a Derek Bailey fake that fools most people.  Don’t need the real thing, I’ve got all his records."

The devil heaved a black sigh. “Fine.”  He rummaged through his robes, came up with a small duffle bag, and threw it at my feet with a metallic clink.  ”Here’s a bag full of really gross guitar fuzz boxes.  It’s my final offer: take it or leave it.” 

"Done and done!"

"Pleasure doing business with you" the devil intoned with a sarcasm that permeated the ages.  He walked away muttering under his breath. "This economy really needs to change.  Thankfully there’s another Clinton ready for the White House."

So that’s the story of my guitar prowess upgrade, old friend.  Gross distortion boxes.  And I’ll occasionally tune, as well.  Didn’t used to do that much.  See you at the reunion show!

May 12, 2014

Sunrise Up Front, Falling Back to Sleep to Shostakovich 14

now on the bed a body lays
side, three quarters,
legs akimbo, bent at knees,
arms stretched to adjacent pillow
body a swastika

morning seeps through louvered window

bones reveal
time passes
body whole deteriorates
flesh pulls away
fat and muscle groups their own republics
the flower doesn’t die as much as shift

Dimitri channels Mussorgsky, &
Lorca, Rilke, Apollinaire as chorus
no consolation of regal twilight . . .

falling back to sleep with the sun pouring in up front
reaching for the window, projecting to the other side,
waiting for the sun to declare mid-day,
the body breaks, not into shards

but into devolved, ungovernable cells
the lost promise of youth and laminar flow
to a bright communist future . . .

sleep doesn’t always arrive in twilight
“when we believe ourselves to be in the midst of our lives,
she dares to cry
inside us.”

edges reveal
no mercy, only relief
relief is temporary

April 16, 2014

Dylan on Letterman

 I have said before that I am not a Dylan fan, but that I have tried over the years to “get” him, yet failed. There is a reason I keep coming back, though, and this clip illustrates it.

  First, there is his willingness to always examine his own work, and how it relates to a given moment. This is so much more than the “re-invention” that many pop stars are lauded for going through, which essentially is nothing more than re-branding. Dylan seems to evaluate and reinterpret his work constantly, such as here: “Jokerman” was the opening track on Infidels, which was released only a few short months before this set. He was theoretically touring to promote the album; and yet, already, the material was getting radically transformed. On the album, “Jokerman” was a MOR snooze-fest produced by Mark Knopfler, with a by then cliche reggae beat (at least they hired Sly and Robbie for the rhythm section … paying white boys to rip off Jamaica would have been adding insult to injury), which was only lifted to notable status by Dylan’s sneering vocals. Here, Dylan gets a punk backing band, shifts the song into 2/4, and makes the whole song sneer. It is, for most of this performance, the best possible version of the song.

 It also showcases another thing I have always liked about Dylan: not only does he not treat performances as sacred (by trying to reproduce the studio recording, or at least “staying faithful” to the original in some “spiritual” sense), he doesn’t even treat the songs as sacred. Here, as he does so often, the distinctive melodies of his song are torn apart, disembodied, and dropped back into the songs as signifiers more than actual melodies.

 And let’s talk about the band, shall we? Dylan is famous for his various collaborations, but this is one you never hear about: his backing band on this is legendary Mexican/American punk rock band The Plugz (minus founder/lead singer/Robert Rodriguez cohort Tito Lariva). The point is not that it was a gutsy choice - though taking an unknown Latino punk rock band onto the Late Show in 1984 probably qualifies as gutsy - the point is that it was a brilliant musical choice.

 And finally, there’s the harmonica solo. How can you not love someone who gives so few fucks?

February 12, 2014

Superb Owl Sun Day

  I had every intention of watching the Super Bowl last Sunday, but circumstances intervened: turns out the USA network was showing an episode of Law and Order SVU that I hadn't seen yet.

  Actually, I'm just kidding.  I had no intention of watching the Super Bowl.  I'll usually check in every so often to make sure I'm not missing a good game (I rarely am), but I have no interest in watching it.  It has become a media event manufactured around a sporting event, with the emphasis on "manufactured": and when the sports media is involved, you know it's a pile of shit.  It's not the first media event built around a football game - historically black college and university football games often end up being mostly excuses for killer halftime shows by the marching bands (like the Circle City Classic in Indianapolis that corresponds with the Black Expo) - but it's certainly the most obnoxious.

  But hey.  Forget about the chips and dip.  Forget about football-themed hors d'oeuvres, forget about paying north of 50 bucks for a team jersey that you will only wear once, forget about explaining football to the rube in the office who only watches one football game a year.  The Super Bowl is a de facto piece of crap, and all that surrounds it means that it will only be good in spite of itself.  Which, really, should be a surprise to no one, given the mechanisms which govern its construction.  It's not even worthy of even the most mild form of outrage . . . distaste maybe, but certainly not anything which would require any effort or thought.  Best to say "yeah, load of crap" and move on.

  Which brings us to the game itself.  Now, granted, part of the problem with the game is the two weeks of all-encompassing hype that sets a bar that almost no mere football game will justify, but that's not really the root of the issue.  No, the biggest problem with the Super Bowl is an issue that every professional sport will have to confront once it gets big enough to actually be milked for real cash: as a capitalist venture, the money will always be more important than the game.

  The NFL is falling prey to this in the worst way: every year, the schedule gets stretched out longer and longer.  Games get shuffled around, first to Mondays, then to Saturdays, then to Thursdays, now to both Saturdays and Thursdays along with Mondays.  Part of the appeal of the NFL to the general sports fan is how every game is a war, and most Sundays you will find each team going all out, giving everything they have . . . as opposed to, say, MLB or (especially) the NBA, which include so many games that not only is it unnecessary to go all out every night, it is actually counter-productive to do so.  This is not a new story: every capitalist venture, when it stumbles across something which will put more money in its owner's pockets, will go to the well until it is dry.  The "job creators" squeeze more and more productivity out of their workers to increase profits, while inanely reproducing old successful ideas until they are no longer successful (see the creep of Black Friday into Thanksgiving, along with the steady flattening of sales on Black Friday weekends in spite of the longer hours).  Sports, too, ignores the needs of their workers, and even the quality of their product, when there is money to be made . . . the players, to a man, hate the Thursday games, and there is (at very least) strong anecdotal evidence that the rate of injury is increased by these games as well.  And now, the NFL is trying to lengthen the season, again against the wishes of the players, who fear more injuries as a result.  Even beyond the decrease of the quality of the game due to attrition, the NFL is quickly putting itself in a position where teams are going to have to start sandbagging certain games, much like you see in the NBA, where you have some teams (like the Miami Heat) who don't start playing with any level of intensity until after the all-star break, and other teams (like the San Antonio Spurs) that practically concede a game every few weeks by sitting all their best players in the hopes that it will keep their legs fresh for the playoffs.  The die is already cast: the season is too long, the injuries are mounting, teams are already strategically throwing games (for example, sitting all their starters after they have clinched a playoff position or, conversely, trying out young players when the playoffs are finally out of reach).  The game is still attracting more and more fans through the desire manufacturing functions of its media hype machine, but the quality of the game is already noticeably slipping.  Already the hardcore fan longs for the old days; the day is coming soon when the decline in quality will show up as a decline in numbers.

  All pro sports seasons are already too long: the NBA should open Christmas Day and be done by the end of May at the very latest.  And there should be fewer games per week.  Baseball can afford to play the games as close together as it does given the nature of the game, but the season still needs to be shorter: games getting snowed out at either end of the season should be a freak occurrence, not a given.  Baseball should start on May Day and be done by October 1st.  NASCAR is another long one, but like MLB is a somewhat unique case.  Still, April to the end of October seems reasonable for the senior circuit; and maybe you run a winter racing league from November to March on the Southern tracks . . . you have a more concentrated season for the Sprint Cup, and you can showcase some of the up and comers for the media on the winter tour.  And hockey . . . . don't even get me started on hockey.

  Perhaps some of this is born out of my growing distaste for the game of football, but that turns the problem into a whole chicken/egg thing.  The NFL continues to grow, but the feet of clay is the health of the workers, which in turn affects the quality of the game itself.  The Super Bowl hype, annoying as it may be, is a symptom of a larger problem.

*          *          *          *          *

  I was at work when the game started, so I did get to see a few series run by each offense.  I am a Peyton Manning fan, and I am rooting for him to squeeze in one more Super Bowl before he is done, and this seemed like the best chance.  Very early, however, it became clear that this would not be his day; while many point to signs, starting with the safety on the first play and extending to the Percy Harvin return touchdown return that started the second half, I saw an indicator much more subtle.  Manning, you see, seemed to be holding on to the ball an average of about three seconds longer than he normally does.  That meant 1) that his receivers were being successfully jammed at the line of scrimmage by the Seattle secondary, 2) his patchwork offensive line would have to hold off a pretty decent pass rush for longer than they were capable of doing, which meant 3) they would have to rely on a great game by a very average running back (Knowshon Moreno) to knock the Seattle defense off its mark . . . which, of course, they did not get. Brilliant as Manning is, and as hard as it is to knock him out of his game, once you do, he's done.  There's no Aaron Rodgers-styled roll out to extend the play, there's no Colin Kaepernick/Cam Newton sprint through the gaps to pick up yardage that can't be gained otherwise, there's no Ben Roethlisberger -type refusal to let a play die, there is no Brett Favre/Matthew Stafford gunslinging, no Andrew Luck improvising.  Good as Manning is, and he is clearly one of the greatest ever, he is incapable of forcing his will on anyone.  His game is predicated on the fact that you can't cover all his receivers all the time; and when you let one loose, he will make the play.  He lives on what you give him, and almost everyone gives him something.  The key to beating Manning is simple: you have to hit him before he gets a window open on one of his receivers.  Simple, but not easy . . . which is why Manning has had such a successful career.

  As it turns out, that extra three seconds was all the Seattle front four (they almost never blitz) needed.  Manning had a dreadful game.  Of course, he has to bear a lot of the blame, but the fact remains that if his offensive line played a little better, or if he would have had someone a little better than Moreno in the backfield, the outcome would have been different.

*          *          *          *          *

  Which leads to one of the most dreadful discussions that the hype machine has been regurgitating endlessly since the end of the season: exactly how does this loss affect the legacy of Peyton Manning?

  I think that Manning is, at very least, one of the top five quarterbacks in the history of the game.  The reason is simple: he changed the game.  Or, to be more accurate, he started to change the game, and when the NFL rules committee saw how popular his pinball machine passing game could be, they helped him along with some rule changes to further advance his passing game at the expense of the defense (most of which had to do with contact between defenders and eligible receivers).  Before Manning, pass-first offenses were primarily a novelty (Air Coryell comes to mind), at least until Bill Walsh, Joe Montana, and the West Coast offense arrived in San Francisco.  But even the West Coast, a possession-passing offense with a necessary run component, is not as pass happy as Manning circa 2004, or Manning circa 2013.  And even when the West Coast leaned on aerials as much as the typical Manning offense, it was still a system which the quarterback had to execute.  No quarterback ever took the weight of the offense, from the design to the play calling to the execution, on his own shoulders to the degree that Manning does.  And while it is fashionable to point out Manning's big collapses, I find it remarkable that he is so consistently brilliant, given the task he has drawn for himself.

  It is fashionable to rank Tom Brady above him; but that doesn't take into account that Tom Brady wasn't that Tom Brady until after Manning started throwing the ball everywhere, and Belichick (the greatest coach of this era) was able to adapt the Manning offense to Brady's (very similar) skill set.  It is also fashionable to bring up Favre and Brees, though the criticisms they level against Manning (only one Super Bowl victory) holds here as well.  Of all the quarterbacks I can think of, only Johnny Unitas has a legitimate claim to being as important to the offense as Manning; and even then, I think Manning bore the heavier load.

  And yet, Manning has to answer for a sub-par playoff record.  Which, if you really look at it . . . .

  Wait, before I start: raise your hand if you have ever mouthed and/or actually believe the following truisms about football:  1) football is the ultimate team sport, 2) matchups matter, and 3) defense wins championships.  Got it?  Good.  Keep those hands in the air.

  So, let's start with the last truism first: defense wins championships.  I think, if anything, this past Super Bowl was a stark illustration of that.  Most of the infographics they show on Sportscenter Super Bowl Week blather support this, and I myself am a believer, even before this past reminder.  Perhaps only the Montana/Walsh combo was able to win it all with an offense significantly better than their defense.  With that in consideration, when has Manning ever gone into the playoffs with a defense that was better than average?  Never.  Not once.  So, the logical conclusion would be that Manning's playoff failures were more the responsibility of an Indianapolis front office that could never get him a decent defense.  You can't hold his playoff record against him.  Incidentally, Tom Brady, the cudgel people always beat Manning with, has looked pretty damn mortal in the playoffs lately himself, and again, I think that has to do with the fact that he hasn't been matched with a consistently good defense for several years now.

  As far as matchups, there has always been a certain kind of team that gives Manning fits, from the San Diego Chargers years back to Seattle this year: rough, physical defenses whose primary function is to take away the primary thing the offense wants to do (the Patriots under Belichick do the same, when they have the right personnel).  Again, you take Manning out of his game, he's done.  Seattle had the same success against Drew Brees, who is like Manning in this way.  On the other hand, Andrew Luck had some success against Seattle because, as one of the most adaptable quarterbacks in the league (there isn't one thing he does better than everyone else, but there are so many things he does really well), he could switch up his game if it wasn't working . . . if his receivers get jammed, he can roll out of the pocket to give them more time, if they try to bring more pressure from the outside, he'll tuck the ball in and run with it, etc.  I will not tell you that Luck is a better quarterback than Manning; but, as their teams are currently constituted, I would take Luck over Manning against Seattle every time.

  Which brings us to the first truism: football is the ultimate team sport.  The media is fond of putting the big team matchups in very personal ways, such as Manning v. Brady . . . and no matter how much folks point out that Manning and Brady are never on the field at the same time, no matter how much they point out that it is much more accurate to say Manning v. the Patriots defense and Brady v. the Broncos defense, the hype machine rolls on in its unabated idiocy, because that's what sells the ads.  The commentators drone on about Manning's inferior playoff record, without ever acknowledging that his almost superhuman ability to run an offense got a lot of teams into the playoffs that had no business being there in the first place (unlike, say, Brady, who won his first Superbowl as a game manager standing in for the injured Drew Bledsoe).  Manning has contributed more than any single football player I can think of to his team's ultimate success; it just so happens that he is so good at maxing out his potential every time he steps on the field that his failures clearly demark his ceiling.  Again: you give Manning a window before you hit him, he will make you pay.  If you don't, he's not pulling shit out of his ass Brett Favre-style.  That's who he is, that's who he always was.

  So where does that leave his legacy?  Well, as pointed out above, there are a lot of quarterbacks who can do things Manning can't.  But for every "how the hell did he ever make that throw" that the gunslinger (Favre, for example) completes, there are about ten incompletions, three picks, and an intentional grounding.  There are plenty of times I've seen Manning's game taken away from, but I've never seen him give away a game a la Favre or Tony Romo.  I'm far from being football-obsessive, so this is open to reconsideration on my part, but here's the most compelling case I can make: of all the quarterbacks in the history of the game, perhaps only Johnny Unitas has borne as much of the offense's load as Manning.  Perhaps only Unitas and Joe Montana have presided over changes in the game as radical as that which Manning has precipitated.  Perhaps only Montana, Dan Marino, Brady, and Drew Brees are as deadly and consistently accurate as Manning.  And, as a leader, he is clearly one of the best.

  I see only Unitas and Montana as QBs who have any claim at all to being better than Manning.  I see only Brady, John Elway, and Dan Marino as being his peers.  Someday Aaron Rodgers may be there as well, and one has to see a ridiculous potential for Andrew Luck to be some combination of Favre, Rodgers, and Manning.  Manning's legacy?  Maybe the best ever, certainly no worse than third.

  But hey, I'm biased.  I was well on my way to ignoring football again when I just happened to dial up the Monday night football game back on October 6, 2003, where Manning lit up a legendary Tampa Bay defense (at Tampa Bay!) for 21 points in the final four minutes of regulation to send the game into overtime, and then put together one last drive to take the game.  It remains, to this day, one of the greatest football games I've seen, and I was a Manning fan for life, and a pro football fan for as long as he is still playing.  The greatest ever?  I think so, even if I would allow two others to sneak in front of him.

*          *          *          *          *

  But alas, we've come back full circle, to the hype machine.  One thing we can count on: the vast, overwhelming majority of sports commentary is just plain stupid and misguided.  Stupid, arrogant, and proud in its ignorance. It's not that I brook no disagreements re: Manning's legacy, it's just that they're so stupid in the way they discuss it.  Logic has no place in the sports reporter's arsenal.  But hey, that's no big deal, all you have to do is close the paper, shut down the computer, turn off the TV, right?

  Maybe not: you see, sports is still the most accessible common activity that we can share.  We were urged to participate in sports as youngsters so we could "learn important life lessons".  These "important life lessons" are unfortunately built around the same illogical "common sense" cliches that are currency at all levels of association with sport; and these "life lessons" become the tree that bears poison fruit in so many areas of culture.

  But that's a topic for another day.  I've already gone on far too long.

February 2, 2014

The Fives: My Five Teenage Guitar Heroes

  1. Jimi Hendrix
  2. Jimmy Page
  3. Jeff Beck
  4. Frank Zappa
  5. Ritchie Blackmore
Honorable mention: Robin Trower

January 28, 2014

Industrial Lunch No. 1 is Out . . .

 . . . and I'm in it!  It's stuff you've seen here before, but never mind that; this is a really great collection.  The best I've been associated with, I would have to say.

  Do yourself a favor & check it out.

January 20, 2014

Hoosier Pete - Portland

This is a good album.  Or, at least, I like it.

January 6, 2014


the detritus of the day
rubs into the brain
dirt ground into a wound
you rise through
  swimming to a surface, yet 
another surface

coming back

shed one skin, reach out, one hand
second hand, pull up, breathe
struggle against cramping
atrophied muscle, again and again

around each corner another street
rising to each surface, washed down
by yet another wave

it is what it is
the return –
everything both the same and different
you get up to fall
but you always fall forward