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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Double Platinum, 2-Disc Tribute: MJ's Top 10 & The Big 80s

With his departure, Michael Jackson leaves behind an enormously vast legacy to be remembered and dissected in countless future interviews on Music history and his life. He falls into the esteemed category alongside Elvis, Dylan, Hendrix, Cash, Lennon and McCartney, as people you can never leave out when talking about Rock & Roll's growth and dissemination to us, the masses.

MJ brought the seismic change in video design and creativity. All of his videos were the gold standard of the 1980's - where many, many others tried to dethrone the King of Pop on a weekly basis on MTV. His was a personality fit for the Big 80s: big hair, fashion (glove, parachute pants), big money (Wall Street obscene) and eccentricity to an art form (the monkey comes to mind.)

So what are MJ greatest hits, with video expertise included, or as an additional weight on the greatness of the track? (An opinion, not a musical verity.)

1. Billy Jean
2. Thriller
3. Beat It (Youtube)
4. Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough (Youtube)
5. Bad
6. Dirty Diana
7. PYT
8. Smooth Criminal (Youtube)
9. Wanna To Be Startin' Something
10. Rock With You

Here's His entire catalog

The best of the rest in the 80's musical game that put out the best music and/or videos are:

Madonna - Vogue (technically, 1990, but we know it was made in 1989.)
Peter Gabriel - Sledgehammer from SO (guy was so freaky, Genesis cut him loose after he dressed up as a grape and couldn't get a mike next to his mouth.)
Genesis - Land of Confusion (Reagan at his best.)
Pink Floyd - The Wall - the groundbreakers for the weird. Amongst the All-time in sales next to Thriller.
Metallica - One - a hellish existence on video. Really the best heavy metal band.
Bon Jovi - Dead or Alive - a karokee favorite.
The Police - Wrapped Around Your Finger. You were expecting Every Breath You Take?
Prince - Little Red Corvette. With Madonna, amongst the next legends to be mourned.
Duran Duran - Hungry Like The Wolf. They could put out vids.
Aerosmith (featuring Run DMC) - Walk This Way. (Collaboration classic.)

SO, that's the double platinum album. That MJ passed does not mean we should not treasure all the good he produced. There will be plenty of bad revisited by those prone to dwell on the worst.

FROM SO -Peter Gabriel's Sledgehammer


Monday, June 29, 2009

Reprise of an old blog: The Ugly, The Bad and The Good (July 25, 2005)

The Ugly
With the recent Kenny Rogers’ Incident involving tossing cameras and abuse of the news media, I thought back to one of the worst incidents in baseball history, involving two HOF pitchers, a lifetime .250 hitting catcher and two bitter rivals in the Dodgers and Giants. (Left)

From the HOF archives
Juan Antonio Marichal Sánchez (born October 20, 1937 in Laguna Verde, Dominican Republic), better known as Juan Marichal, was a Major League Baseball starting pitcher known for his high leg kick and dominating stuff, and his intimidation tactics, which included aiming pitches directly at the opposing batters' helmets.

The high-kicking Juan Marichal, AKA the 'Dominican Dandy' or 'Manito', already had pinpoint control of his curve, slider, screwball, and blinding fastball, all thrown with a variety of motions. Some commented he had 16 different pitches, throwing his 4 pitches from either an overhand, 3/4, sidearm or submarine deliveries. His lifetime stats:

Led League in wins 1963 and 1968
Led League in ERA 1969
All-Star in 1962-69, 71
Elected to Hall Of Fame in 1983

IP: 3507.1
W-L; 243-142
ERA: 2.89

But with all that success came the unfortunate incident most remembered in his elite career. It happened on August 22, 1965.

That day, Marichal faced Sandy Koufax at Candlestick Park in the heat of a tight pennant race. The Giants and Dodgers had come close to a brawl two days earlier over catcher's interference calls. Los Angeles's Maury Wills had allegedly tipped Tom Haller's mitt with his bat on purpose, and Marichal's best friend, Matty Alou, retaliated by tipping John Roseboro's face mask.

Roseboro nearly beaned Alou with his return throw to the mound. In the August 22 game, Marichal had flattened Maury Wills and Ron Fairly with pitches when Roseboro purportedly asked Koufax to hit Marichal. When Koufax refused, Roseboro's return throw came close to Marichal's head. Name-calling ensued, until Roseboro suddenly ripped off his mask and stood up. Marichal rapped the catcher on the head with his bat. What followed was one of the most violent brawls in major league history.

Willie Mays led away Roseboro, who had suffered a concussion, while Dodger Bob Miller tackled Marichal, Alou slugged Miller, and Tito Fuentes menaced the Dodgers with his bat. Roseboro sued Marichal, but eventually dropped the $110,000 suit.

NL president Warren Giles suspended Marichal for eight games and fined him $1,750. He also forbid Marichal from traveling to Los Angeles for the final Giants-Dodgers series of the season.
Marichal, not to be outdone, had another memorable game:

On July 2, 1963 , he went the distance beating the winningest HOF lefthander in Warren Spahn and the Braves 1-0 in 16 innings. Warren pitched only 15 1/3 innings in the loss!

The Bad
John Roseboro was a 'good' left-hand hitting catcher in an era that had the likes of Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench, Joe Torre, Tim McCarver, Bill Freehan and Elston Howard around catching.

According to Bill James, he is considered the 27th best catcher in MLB history. Though his .249 BA is not considered HOF worthy, two points should be made:

1) The 1960's was the worst offensive era for ALL hitters due to the mound height and strike zone expansion in 1963
2) Dodger Stadium was not a friendly hitter's ballpark like the ones today in Denver, Arlington and Houston, among others. Dodger stadium has always been a negative park for hitting homeruns, especially at night.

So, to properly rate Roseboro, we could do it in a better time (the 1990's or present day), and his offensive numbers would be much, much better. Also, his 'real' numbers assisted quite a bit given the scarcity of runs in the 1960's.

His defensive skills and game calling probably rate him a top 10-15 catcher all-time. (Caught Drysdale, Koufax, Sutton, Osteen, and Podres which ranks up there among the best pitching staffs all-time.)

All and all, he could have been a HOF catcher with a little more pop at the plate and not playing in the most restrictive era for hitters.

The Good
Sandy (Sanford) Koufax. The name is synonymous with great pitching. His lifetime stats:
Led League in wins 1963, 65-66
Led League in era 1962-66
Led League in strikeouts 1961, 63, 65-66
All-Star in 1961-66
Most Valuable Player Award in 1963
Hall Of Fame in 1972
IP: 2324
W-L: 165-87
ERA: 2.76
In World Series play
IP: 57
W-L: 4-3
ERA: 0.95
Books and articles about Sandy Koufax

His first few seasons in the ‘Bigs’ were not successful, but showed enough promise, given his wildness (sometimes overstated, sometimes understated) and the fact he didn’t get much support from manager, Walter Alston, in pitching out of jams.

But for 6 years, 1961-1966, he pitched better than ANYONE ever dreamed imaginable. Yogi Berra said in 1963, "I can see how he won 25 games. What I don't understand is how he lost five."

His legacy was cut short by a circulatory ailment that caused swelling in his arm unlike anything you would hear of in modern sports. With the right medical (and managerial) advice given, he could have pitched many years more. And what would have been? As it turned out, he made the HOF in 1972, six years after retiring.

Not bad, Lefty. Not bad at all.
Sandy Pitching in splendor - watch those curves!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

R.I.P.: Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahon & The golden TV era

I wish I had the appropriate words to express what is necessarily a difficult time for those who love and adored Farrah Fawcett , Ed McMahon and Michael Jackson. Their life was apart of Americana; they were a memorable part of the art form that was the ubiquitous TV land.

As members of the Greatest Generation and the Boomers fade out into just the lasting individual memories, outlandish laughs and smiles, and quirky classic videos and sounds, it brings to mind how quick it all goes away.

The fame and fortunes
- Ed McMahon was in foreclosure and Michael Jackson was nearly broke- the looks and usual health - Fawcett inspiring battle against cancer decimated her - can be taken so fast. So fast.

Most remember Christopher Reeve's struggles and strength after his paralysis. And it is a reminder how uncertain it all is: life.

We can wake up, plan stuff, get the family involved (or no) and take the day by the horns. Then, it finally happens - a tragedy - and we don't wake up anymore. Others, such as Fawcett knew the odds were stacked against her - and yet she fought well - and acquired the greatest gift: The value of the time and friends and love, while here.

The hardest lesson will ever learn is the end of life - as we finally learn the secrets to it all - we have to take that lesson to beyond and to those we all ready missed.

Those of us left behind have the ubiquitous TV, a mountain climb, a clear sandy beach, a perfect corn field, a hustling and bustling downtown, a mountain lake, or a song, to remind us of you, the departed.

So here's a song for them all:
The Righteous Brothers - Unchained Melody

Good Bye Friends.

Michael Jackson's Bad (my favorite)

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Second Constitutional Convention: Constitutional Reformation in the 21st Century

I hope that my desire to fix America does not mean that what I write and why I write it is called into question. We have a serious problem and serious solutions are needed. (Not the inane discussions on Letterman.)

I have proposed this in a document on DocStoc: Constitutional Reformation in the 21st Century.

It is my firm belief that we have to sit down for a prolonged period of time and figure out America. It can not be of a half-hearted, hen-pecked, small-victory design. It has to be a grand ideal, much like the dream and reality that is America.

So I hope you read the links and download the document. We need debate and the time has to be now.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Surpreme Comic Controversy: Palin v. Letterman v. A-Rod v. Roberts, 666 U.S. (2009)

It would nice if pols really understood comedy -or, er, the nature of the craft.

Letterman took to throwing around barbs at Sarah Palin's family, who will not got back to Alaska - and fight those pesky Ruskies. Now, picking on a 18-yr old unwed mother is a bit much. But who brought it on themselves?: Palin.

When you seek a grand stage, be prepare for the slips and jibes at yourself, family and anything you deem a cause, because that is what is going to happen. (Ask former Ms. California Carrie Prejean (above) about such attention via her less than stellar answer - granted, her free speech - but the consequences of such speech.)
For Dave's part (who I have not watched in God knows when), he backhanded an apology. He was not condoning the sexual deviance toward Palin's younger daughter. (He just didn't remember - or his writers got lazy - with her name. (The legal one.) But this is just fluffy way to retort on Palin's part.)
The biting lines from Yahoo! TV:

His Top Ten list featured "Highlights of Sarah Palin's Trip," and included: "Bought makeup at Bloomingdale's to update her 'slutty flight attendant' look."
But the diciest joke centered on the family attending a Yankees baseball game.
Letterman said "an awkward moment" occurred for Palin when, "during the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by (Yankee third baseman) Alex Rodriguez."
I actually feel more sorry for A-Rod, since the miserably-selling tell-all book of Selena Roberts was just a ultra-feminist taking any jabs at the man she could from the get go. (And his two-faced persona. Like we don't know successful & spoiled people have such flaws. Really - that is all the book was.)
This off-the-beaten-path detour comes because that author, Ms. Roberts, has shown a pattern of behavior in advocating on behalf of victim - the Duke Lacrosse case - without actually having the facts in evidence. As it turned out, the case was not supportable, and the men accused, were innocent. (They were Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans.)
Quick judgments are a pandemic of our society - feed forcefully by gerrymandering journalists they are more worried about being scooped, and sent to the dustbin of journalism, where hatching, at best, second-rate tripe about third-rate fame and frivolity. So they slant - taking hard stances, even when dead wrong, or just lack the sensitivity to actually do the story right.
(A-Rod can be called a 'me' ballplayer. However, compared to many, many others, he is just vanilla - and was not worth the time Ms. Roberts spent in staking the claim to such a story. So, he did steroids? And then what? Did he beat up on others? How bad did he really treat his wife? Did his $252 million contract come without the owners being able to do their own background research, like you did, Ms. Roberts?)
Going back to Letterman, Palin jumped up like a mama bear to defend her cub. Too bad she did not teach her cub how to comport herself as the potential second family of the United States.

Palin on Today, Friday

The fact Letterman made a off-color joke is not a surprise. Reacting to it (as Palin did and has), with a lack of understanding who the really parties involved were: A-Rod and Bristol, is undoubtedly the bigger goof. Where she indeed VP, where were her sensitivities compel her to respond? And how much trouble could she have caused as a heartbeat away?
Like Selena Roberts found out, writing a tell-all about the richest baseball player does not guarantee success. In fact, it might be that quality of the analysis of baseball itself lacked. (It did.) True fans know that the game is not clean; or hasn't had its flaws and flawed players.
But both women can learn that you need your facts straight and presented in an entertaining manner, in order to succeed. And let stupid talk - slide, especially when posited by a two-bit talk show host that talks about your daughter, the older one, carelessly. (When that one is politically active and made a life-altering decision, and is being obviously watched for future goofs.)
The conservatives are just itching for a fight...about something, anything other than their policies.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The American Dream: What's Good For GM

Who would have believed 25 years ago, that GM and Chrysler (well, maybe not them) would see bankruptcy within 60 days of each other.

In 1984, GM was the 7th largest entity on the face of the Earth. With a global reach well before that term - globalization - really had the teeth it does today. Now dragging into court to say, "help me! help me!" But the signs of this failure were long in the making.

From the NYT:

Auto workers took in the news that G.M. would shutter plants in Michigan,
Indiana, Ohio and Delaware, and plants in Tennessee and elsewhere in Michigan
were put on standby.

President Obama, speaking at the White House, emphasized that investing
more billions of taxpayer dollars in G.M. was not something he wanted to do, but
something he felt the government had to do to avert a financial calamity that
would hurt millions of people.
“We are acting as reluctant shareholders,
because that is the only way to help G.M. succeed,” Mr. Obama said, asserting
that the government’s backing, coupled with the painful restructuring that the
once mighty company is undergoing, “will give this iconic American company a
chance to rise again.”

In its
bankruptcy petition, G.M. said
it had $82.3 billion in assets and $172.8
billion in debts. Its largest creditors were the Wilmington
Trust Company
, representing a group of bondholders holding $22.8 billion in
debts, and affiliates of the United
Auto Workers
union, representing nearly $20.6 billion in employee


At one time the saying went: "What is good for GM is good for America." Well, it certainly took after the US in running up debt.