I find it highly irresponsible that the TIMES UNION newspaper, through two blogs: ON THE EDGE and SARATOGA SEEN, have decided to write about the behaviors of minor children at a Section II hockey game earlier this week. See links below to read the blogs.
ON THE EDGE: http://blog.timesunion.com/kristi/bailey-wind-bullied-on-twitter/53654/
SARATOGA SEEN: http://blog.timesunion.com/saratogaseen/high-school-hockey-fans-suspended/17230/
The students involved in the altercation written about were from Shen and Saratoga High School. I don’t understand why this is newsworthy enough for the TU to link up on their main page. Students misbehaving then being disciplined by their high school for said behavior, that’s news? I understand blogs are not necessarily seen as news per say, but it is “news” when the paper puts it under their top stories header on TU.com. Some kids misbehaved at a hockey game, and it’s being dealt with in the region’s mainstream media? No matter how many different ways I write it, I just can’t see why it needed to be done.
Of course this hockey-game incident stemmed from comments posted on Twitter. And surprise, surprise, the TU has delivered this story from the angle that Bailey Wind, the Shaker student involved in the deadly Northway crash last year, was herself being bullied through Twitter, then again at this hockey game. Why is the TU reporting this in any forum? The only response that the blog post will receive through its herd-behavior comments section, comments which are seemingly 100% unfiltered, is another round of death to anyone who speaks out in anyway against Ms. Wind, or Shen, or anything surrounding that tragic crash. And the second reaction will be sourced from people who are ready to vomit from the nonstop exposure this story has been given, and thus attack children and their parents. Either way it’s bad; sheepish people showing off their mob-mentality talents, and unloading like idiots against minors. Again, not be a broken record, but I have no idea why the paper’s site has this story on it.
What happened last year was a titanic tragedy, of course it was. And high schoolers are emotionally incapable of dealing with the fact that life is unfair, and sometimes people die young, and there’s no reason why or answer for it. Heck, people of every age are incapable of that. Since this accident, these kids have taken to Facebook and Twitter in droves and done what young people do with tragedy: Try to work it out, but completely mismanage their emotions. This is expected. What angers me is respected media sources like the TIMES UNION and FLY-92 jumping on this emotional bandwagon, and editorializing on the backs of children. High schoolers should not be seen as fair targets for ratings, and their tragedy shouldn’t be seen as newsworthy in this regard. Basically, the TU is today reporting on petty, high-school drama. It's not about the tragedy anymore.
I thought the region’s handling of this incident was barbaric from the first day, and I think it continues to be absurd all these months later. Two lives were lost forever, and this shameful and perpetuated coverage (on this level) shows those lost lives no respect. If the Shen Community wants to keep themselves in the media’s main eye from this story, that’s their problem. I for one don't see this as a 15-minutes-of-fame thing. But I beg the TU to leave it alone and stop reporting on how kids are handling/mishandling it, and who’s bullying who, and who’s right and who’s wrong. Maybe I’m off the mark, but I just don’t like the look of those two blog posts, and I can’t recall the last time the TU reported on high school kids being suspended from hockey games and/or their Twitter comments to each other. Is that a normal thing? I don't think so.
This story is a story because Bailey Wind is involved, and that’s not right. The TU can say what they want: It's a commentary on the Power of Social Media, or the Impact of Bullying, or blah, blah, blah. It's not. You're blogging about teenaged Twitter wars, that's it, and allowing dopes to comment on it, and in turn fueling another war of words on the backs of children. For that outlet to bring more light to this, in this way, is irresponsible. It's exploitation.
Sunday, February 24, 2013
For me the Oscar’s aren’t as exciting as the Emmy’s or the Grammy’s. I find the thespian community a bit insufferable come awards season. One need not look further than Anne Hathaway to prove that point. I'm sure we'll have to endure another of her over-emotional speeches tonight. But let’s just be thankful we don’t have to endure her as the host again this year. Remember her and Franco? Wow, was that as bad as it gets. Seth MacFarlane will be great. He did put out the best comedy of the year: TED.
As for the year in nominated movies and performances, I saw a lot of great ones over the last few months, in an effort to prepare for the Big Day, which I’ll only see an hour of because I go to bed at 9PM on Sundays. But anyway, if Daniel Day Lewis doesn’t win Best Actor for LINCOLN, I’m not sure the award will maintain any of its credibility. Spielberg will win for Best Director too. LINCOLN was a masterpiece. But it wasn’t the best movie I watched this year. That would be FLIGHT. I did not breathe during FLIGHT, it was a fantastic movie, and, in my opinion, a bit overlooked this year.
On the other hand, I think ARGO is a touch overrated. It was a great movie, and will likely win best movie of the year, but I didn’t see it as worthy of the top trophy. I think ARGO is a pretty forgettable flick, and, for me, evoked zero water-cooler talk the next day, the way LINCOLN and FLIGHT did. It just kind of went along, was filmed with a lot of suspense, and then ended.
All and all it was a great year in movies. I think the Academy got it mostly right this year. I still need to see SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK and DJANGO UNCHAINED. I read LIFE OF PI so I didn’t see that. That BEASTS movie looks awful, and I can’t stomach Anne Hathaway in any role, although many say she killed it in LES MISERABLES. I guess I’m only left with one real complaint against the Academy: After watching HERE COMES THE BOOM, I must ask what in God’s name does Kevin James have to do to for an Oscar nomination, people? Movies don’t get much better than THE BOOM, and James carries it!
Sunday, February 17, 2013
The other night I was watching the LA Lakers game, and the announcers were talking about Kobe Bryant calling out Dwight Howard in the media for not playing through injury. I texted my friend, “I think Kobe did the right thing calling out that overpaid wimp,” and my friend replied, “Dwight sucks. Jordan would’ve punched him,” to which I wrote, “LOL. But Jordan wouldn’ve actually punched him,” and my friend responded, “Brian, the guy announcing this game (Steve Kerr, former Jordan teammate). . . Jordan punched him,” and I ended with, “Oh yeah, he did.”
This weekend Michael Jordan turns 50. For anyone who grew up watching #23, this is one of those times where you lift your head out of the 9-to-5 sand, and say, “Wow.” I was in middle school when he played the ‘flu game,’ high school when he beat the Jazz in six games to win his sixth title. There are no words that can possibly describe what Michael Jordan was, how big he was, how important, how culturally EVERYWHERE.
Michael Jordan simply refused to lose on the basketball court. He wasn't getting beat by the Phoenix Suns, or the Utah Jazz, or anybody. You knew it, I knew it, the Suns and the Jazz knew it. So many great players went ringless in the 90s because of MJ. If he didn't do baseball (only God knows why he did that), the Bulls would've won 9 straight. But he was so much more than on the court. Everything he did was ICONIC. His wall posters are legendary. His TV commercials are time capsules. His red #23 replica jersey was required clothing. He was simply larger than life. A God that we actually got to ‘see’ at the height of his powers, not just hear about in fairy tales, like Babe Ruth, who’s so long ago he might as well be a fairy tale. I watched MJ’s entire career. I witnessed what he was. I even saw SPACE JAM. And now he’s 50. He’s more old man than superman, or space man. I’m reflecting on my own life over MJ’s birthday weekend. In a strange way, we’re all turning 50 today, because MJ is turning 50.
Is Michael Jordan the greatest basketball player ever? No doubt about it. Could he drive the lane or dribble a ball better than LeBron James? Probably not. Could he shoot a better jumper than Kobe Bryant? I don’t think so. But Kobe's a puppy dog compared to MJ. Lebron? My mother doesn’t even know who LeBron James is. Michael was household. He wasn’t just sports. He was life. Any kid who ever touched a basketball, from every corner of the country, boy or girl, wanted to be MJ. We walked like him, wore baggy shorts like him, mimicked his on-court moves. Air Jordan is more recognizable than Barack Obama. As I'm writing this, I am watching an old KING OF QUEENS. There was just an MJ reference in this episode, "Can you hand me my Michael Jordan cologne?" There won't be LBJ references on TV ten years after he retires.
All of us who idolized him and dreamed of one day being ‘Like Mike’ are not alone with the ghost. By all accounts, Michael Jordan lives in a self-imposed prison, haunted by what he was and will never be again. I imagine his dreams are filled with the sounds of crowd noise, constant crowd noise. I doubt quiet time is an easy thing for our hero. I’m sure reflection is an emotional torture chamber. Michael Jordan is haunted by the ghost of Michael Jordan. And what does it say about life and the American Dream when Michael Freaking Jordan, the man I just described as more recognizable than Barack Obama, is himself a tragic figure? The man is worth billions, his face known the world around, but none of that matters. He’d trade it all back to be 30 years old again and be able to play the game on the greatest stage. But he can’t. Final Score: Father Time: 1, Jordan: 0.
It’s not about money. It’s about time. Nothing is more important than time. I look at my family and my life the way it is right now and no matter what, this will pass. Soon these people and this place will be gone. Soon I’ll be gone. Can’t stop it. Can’t pay it not to happen. Can’t beat it with a quick first step. Michael Jordan’s life is a sad one on many levels. Why? His ‘time’ is no more, at least his time at the top. He could find the cure for Cancer tomorrow, but he’ll never be #23 again. It’s sad. Michael Jordan's 50. More old man than superman, or miracle man.
When I was in seventh grade, I went to the Sam Perkins-Lou Cioffi Basketball Camp at the Jewish Community Center in Albany. My parents paid three hundred bucks to send me. On the final day of the five-day camp, Michael Jordan was going to be there. I was going to meet Michael Jordan. I walked like Michael that week, drank my Gatorade, kept my Air Jordans squeaky clean. On Thursday I qualified for the camp’s foul-shooting championship on Friday. I was going to win a foul-shooting trophy in front of #23. The next day I did my Michael Jordan walk into that camp at 8AM, chewing my gum like MJ, wearing a black sleeve on my leg like Jordan, ready to meet His Airness. Bad news: Michael would NOT be coming to the camp. The night before, his grandfather fell ill in North Carolina and Michael suddenly couldn’t make it. That's how it is with our heroes, isn't it? Instead of winning that trophy in front of MJ, I won it in front of Sam Perkins.
Last week I saw the man who ran that same camp, Ed Pierce, and we got to talking about that long-ago summer week at the JCC. Before I could even mention my own frustrations from missing MJ, Ed said, “The damn grandfather,” and I saw the same pain in his eyes, all these years later, I saw the pain. Ed Pierce, just like me, had come oh-so close to meeting the greatest athlete in American history, being able to tell his grandkids he pressed flesh with a God. And didn't Coach Pierce himself wear a black sleeve on his leg that week like the rest of us?
Happy 50th, Michael.
Please read this article about MJ. It is one of the finest pieces of journalism (sports or otherwise) you will ever come across: http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/page/Michael-Jordan/michael-jordan-not-left-building
Sunday, February 10, 2013
All the over-the-top attempts to make this 5’6” peach-fuzz child sexy, with the screaming girls, and kisses on the cheek, and the way he moves and sings oh-so sexy, it's getting a little too orchestrated. He’s not a man. He’s not a sex symbol. He’s a spikey-haired pre-pubescent. Very disturbing.
Justin Bieber. It's like five years ago someone walked into a middle school, found the most adorable kid in third period math, and poured millions into making him a heart throb. (I know Usher discovered him.) Is Bieber Fever a crazy bet by a couple billionaires or something? Bieber looks like a mouse in a snake tank on stage. He has no chops, no natural presence, no talent. I ripped Beyonce but the Beebs is non-human on camera. The whole gist of every public appearance is trying to make him so sexy, so grown up. Every SNL sketch was about how alluring he was, and so many girls just scream uncontrollably in his wake. All this screaming. It looked like my little brother trying to get through SNL. I will give him some credit here: He did let SNL rip him pretty good.
Then came his “serious” musical performance, a slow song performed on a stool. He was dressed in a sleeveless a-shirt, and the camera got nice and tight on his "bulging" biceps that are thinner than a fourteen-year-old girl’s arms. The song was gibberish. But he sang it oh-so-sexy. He winked at the camera, showed off his "manly tats," got all pouty-mouthed in the emotional parts. It's a joke.
The SNL show mercifully ended after another “sexy” performance by JB then a few more sketches about his oh-so toned abs. Do you mean his ribs? The Beebs. We’re all getting Punk’d here, right? This child hasn’t actually made 70 million dollars, has he? The New Kids on the Block were better than Justin Bieber. And the saddest part of all this is the certain train wreck that begins when everyone realizes Justin Bieber has no reason to be anywhere near show business. Yeah, this doesn’t end well.
Friday, February 8, 2013
“Brian, you think JT’s bigger than Paul McCartney?” Of course not. Nobody's Beatles Big. In basketball terms, the Beatles are the NBA, Michael Jackson is Jordan, and Justin's Kobe. But they say you can’t sell CDs in today’s I-Tunes Market. Justin’s gonna sell ten million copies of his new release: the 20/20 Experience. Guarantee it. Why? Not only is he off-the-wall talented, he has the BEST people in music marketing him. For all three of his solo albums: JUSTIFIED, FUTURE SEX, and now 20/20, he has been remarketed as a completely different character. He was trucker-hat, open-flannel guy for JUSTIFIED, suit vest and sneakers for FUTURE SEX, and now he’s this mix of Sinatra, and Marvin Gaye, and Michael Jackson with 20/20. There’s nothing he can’t do in music.
As an actor? He sucked. He’s not an actor. He’s Elvis. He’s MJ. He’s Jagger. Is he Sinatra? He’s ten times better than Sinatra. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at Justin’s career. He sold eighty million albums by 26 years old, has ten songs in the Billboard top ten, has five number ones, has headlined three stadium tours, holds the 1st place and 2nd place records for most albums sold in first week of releases (both with NSYNC), he’s won Grammy’s, Emmy’s, and of course VMAs. Both JUSTIFIED and FUTURE SEX were nominated for Grammy's, JUSTIFIED for album of the year. So every solo album he’s ever made has been a commercial smash AND critically praised. (I admit he's never made an "epic" pop album. THRILLER was epic. CONFESSIONS was epic.) He’s worth a hundred-million dollars. And he just played a Pre-Superbowl concert: Three million for one hour. Name anyone else in music that gets that for one hour of work. He donated it to charity.
Remember when Justin was just another face in the whole Boy Band/Britney Spears/X-Tina/Eminem Music scene in the early 2000s? That group--like them or not--just flat out sold albums. And guess what? JT is the undisputed winner of that era. Why? Because he’s a better singer, dancer, performer, and song writer than any of them. Britney’s a nut job. When Eminem said “oops my CD just skipped and everyone heard you let one rip,” he was finished, and is Christina A. even still alive? Oh yeah, THE VOICE, big deal. The Backstreet Boys were a better “unit” than NSYNC, yes, but NSYNC had Justin, so they were better. When Justin was eighteen he was dating one of the most famous women in the world. Eighteen.
But it’s the way they market him that makes Justin a cut above. They put him out there with such a mysticism (i.e the “I’m Ready" Youtube video that got like 10 million hits) and they make it so you don’t want to miss his next move. For instance, his people won’t tell you what he’s going to perform at this Sunday’s Grammy’s, only that it’s a new song, and “sources say” a "can’t-miss performance." All that wording is orchestrated by Justin’s people. Does that same orchestration work with Katy Perry or the Beebs? I don’t think so. Justin plays the media so perfectly. And he's respected. David Letterman would never do to JT what he did to the Beebs. In the end, it'll be his career and Michael Jackson’s that rule over all others in Pop. Yes, I think JT’s that big, and I’ve known it from Day One.
I was 18 the first time I ever saw Justin sing. I was watching an HBO concert special, but I had never heard of Timberlake or NSYNC. But I knew--the second I saw him--that this kid was special, that he’d be around for the long haul. Fifteen years later he’s the biggest music star in the world, still.
Watch First Time I saw JT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i25sA7BoNuk
Watch: Suit & Tie Live Pre-Superbowl: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Us9bFwzOu5Y
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
I get it. Cuomo walks the part, talks the part, gives the impression that his presence will return NYS to the Empire State. His predecessor Patterson, albeit a brilliant man, was a blind guy who was the punch line for more than a few SNL skits. So, in regards to how a Gov. should look, Cuomo is a homerun. But my God, all his admin. does is cut people out of their jobs by the basket load. Has he balanced the budget? Apparently. No new taxes. Who cares? He's annihilating every program. He’s annihilating education. The Nisky School District has to fill a six-million-dollar budget gap. Huh? I know, educators waste money, and teachers are lazy, and blah blah blah. No miracle results so cut, cut, cut? With that logic, doctors are bums because they haven’t cured Cancer yet, right? So cut hospital beds, and heart monitors, and surgical equipment?
Cuomo will tell you that NYS spends more than any other state on education and performs middle of the pack. 100% skewed. We statistically finish in the nation's middle because NYC is averaged in with the rest. You know, that city of 10 million, filled with more students of every nationality than anywhere in the world. Do you have any idea what it would be like to teach a 30-kid classroom in Spanish Harlem? Pass state tests? Speak English? If NYC’s millions upon millions didn’t count against the rest of NYS in education, we’d be number one with a bullet. And the $$$$ it takes to run NYC Schools. OMG. Name another state that has to shoulder that. But we do, which means another 100,000 teachers are hitting the breadline in June. Why? Because Cuomo thinks the few thousand jobs that Nanotech creates will be enough to run for President. Do you even know what Nano Tech is?
Let’s forget about the thirty and forty-somethings for a second. Do you know ANYBODY in their twenties with an actual career? Every twenty-something I know has a BA and/or MS, works at Starbucks and Cheesecake Factory. NYS College costs are more than ever and are netting absolutely nothing for its graduates.
Let me sum this up. NYers in their twenties are pouring coffee on seventy-thousand-dollar degrees. People in their thirties have either been cut from their jobs or are waiting to be cut, living in fear until that happens, afraid to spend money or grow families. In your forties: Probably upside down in a house that’s worth WAY less than you bought it for, working in any job you can keep. All this while our Gov. turns every issue, from Gun Control to Education, into a campaign slogan or commercial catch phrase. It makes you long for the days of Nucky Johnson (Thompson).
My advice? Hold on tight to your house and job while you have it. Because your Gov. is going all-out Chris Christie and plotting his Washington run on your back. But hey, whatever looks good on a campaign poster.
Friday, February 1, 2013
I’ll admit it: I’m not a fan of Beyonce. I like SOME of her songs, but dislike her style, the fake accent. I've never seen her give a single good live performance. I don’t understand why she’s won as many Grammy’s as Michael Jackson. I’m also not a fan of Jay-Z. So, yes, the combination is an annoying one for me. And the fact that they’ve been dubbed music royalty, and collectively made almost 100 million last year, and every year it seems, blows my mind.
For anyone who defends Beyonce’s no-show performance in Washington by saying, “Everyone lip syncs,” I must burst your bubble. Not EVERYONE does. In fact, Kelly Clarkson sang at the very same Inauguration. Guess what: No lip-syncing. Clarkson is better than Beyonce. Has been for years. “But, Brian, Beyonce’s SO hot.” Beautiful, of course, who can argue that? But I don’t see hot first. I see artificial, plastered in tons of makeup, one look-at-me outfit after the other, meant to trump up her sex appeal. She performs in four-inch heels. It’s the same way with Kim Kardashian. She’s obviously gorgeous, but the insane efforts to make her up ALL THE TIME, leave her looking non-human to me. What can I say? I’ve disliked Beyonce’s style since Destiny’s Child.
As for the Superbowl itself, is there anything more annoying than the week of media leading up? The overexposure has completely cheapened the game. Have you tried turning on sports radio this week? It’s been a nonstop parade of one football player after the other, using New Orleans to hawk his website or endorsement deal. It’s always that, I get it, but knowing that this all ends with a Beyonce performance just makes it that much more. And of course, she'll be faking it. The only thing worse: Fergie. Oh wait. That was last year.