Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Yankee Fan

I am now down to only 5 pair of Indians tickets per season after my leap from the Tribe's flaming wagon of crushed dreams and low expectations last year. One of the games I always make sure to pick in my completely irritating ticket draft before the season begins is a game vs the Yankees. It's always fun to hate the Yankees for what they represent, as well as see players you see on TV more than Seinfeld characters. Plus the stadium is usually crowded, giving the affair the look and feel of an actual professional sporting event.

What I forget about every year is how much I hate the Yankee fans that overrun the stadium. Where the fuck do these Guidos and Douchebags come from? The average Cleveland crowd looks pretty much the same regardless if you go to a Browns/Indians/Cavs game. Suburban men drinking Miller Lite in plastic bottles on expense accounts + fat guys with mustaches that were vaguely in style in the 80s + plump girls of Eastern European lineage with big hair and questionable fashion choices. The question I have is where did all these Italian looking men with open Yankee jerseys and backward ballcaps come from? Was there a long train of gaudily painted cars with gold rims blasting club music that streamed across the New York border while I slept last night? If so, why didn't the authorities do something?

Seriously, where the fuck did these people come from? Does every Italian from the Eastside of CLE have a Yankees jersey and pair of Adidas shower shoes in their closet? Or do you suddenly have an interest in gold chains when you buy that first piece of Yankee merch? "You know what would look good with this Mariano Rivera jersey? A big fucking gold chain. That's what would look good with this Mariano Rivera jersey." All these Mooks have that glint in their eye where you can tell they don't know that everyone else is laughing AT the Jersey Shore cast, not WITH them. And there are THOUSANDS of these people at the game.

Here's the deal. I paid $34 a ticket to sit one row behind a guy that was wearing a gold bracelet, gold chain, Joba Chamberlain jersey, white basketball shoes, Yankees cap (backwards) and a pair of Oakley sunglasses. He spent the first two innings standing up, and swaying side to side nervously while checking his cellphone. Meanwhile the guy to my left had a titanium necklace, giant watch, Jeter jersey, and a headful of "product" in his black mane. He said "Fuck" a lot while referring to the Yankees as "we". These are the types of men I go to great lengths to avoid. I usually don't pay $34 for the privilege of hearing someone say, "We (as in "the Yankees") fucking looked good in BP today. I like how we're swinging the fucking bats."

This points to the obvious flaw of Yankee fan. They like to attach themselves to the success of a franchise that can outspend other teams five times over, and claim it as their own. For instance, titanium bracelet guy sure as hell didn't take any cuts at batting practice. "We" didn't look good. Those overpaid a-holes in your favorite team uniforms looked good. You were eating nachos, not swinging a bat. Also, I am immediately suspicious of anyone that is a Yankee fan that did not grow up in the Greater NYC area. If you live in another state, and are a Yankee fan, I will guarantee that you are also a fan of the Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Lakers and/or the Boston Celtics. You are a front runner that probably put a turban on and grabbed a Koran right after 9/11 happened until the smoke cleared and you realized the home team didn't lose. You then quietly slipped off the turban, and put your Yankees cap back on. Backwards. Am I suggesting that cheering for the Yankees is like cheering for Al Qaeda? Yes, I suppose I am.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Hipster

It's not easy to be part of today's hipster crowd. It can be a long painful journey from high school outcast to thrift store kingpin. While in Wicker Park in Chicago this weekend, I saw many victims among the sea of those trying to outclass their fellow hipster. The beautiful young woman in cowboy boots and mini sundress with giant spooky tattoos splashed on her thighs? A poor decision with little recourse... ("Daddy, why does Mommy have a giant flaming skull shooting out of her vagina?"... "Because Mommy thought she would always be 24 years old and an aloof bartender at the loud rock club.") The guy with the gondola shirt, beret, and ballet shoes? Better than wearing a tutu, but I wouldn't recommend him gassing up at a Speedway in Elkhart Indiana anytime soon.

The guy I pitied most was in a black knit stocking cap. It was 94 degrees and the humidity was so high you could literally chew the air. Yet, here he was carrying a giant box down the sidewalk in his black wool hat. He appeared to be, from my vantage point, "sweating like a motherfucker". I know you look badass in your plain black cap with the sweat streaming down your beard and onto your ironic secondhand pants, but can't we make a small concession to functionality here? No need to go to linen pants and huaraches, but maybe leave the wool hat at home, eh Elliot Smith?

Another really bad decision? The earlobe stretching disc... Let's say, on an off chance, it stops being cool to wear a half dollar size disc in your ear. This will probably never happen, and I say that with the conviction of a man wearing pegged acid washed jeans, a mullet, Doc Marten boots, tribal band tattoo, and a lip ring. Some things just last forever in fashion. But let's just say, for the sake of argument, it becomes passe in a few years. That's really going to be an awesome look having your skin flap off your head in a limp ribbon. What's the move then? Wearing a flesh colored "masking disc" so it looks like you just have giant ears like Mitch Albom or Ellen Degeneres? Have it removed so you have a weird notch? There just don't seem to be a lot of options there.

Being surrounded by an entire community of people trying to be more cutting edge and relevant than you has to be taxing. You just have to be cautious that you aren't so eager to be outrageous that you make a horrible lifelong mistake. Nobody wants to be the one that looks stupid in a vain pursuit of trying to capture other people's attention. Now excuse me. I have to go change into a rayon fringe cowboy shirt and dirty cowboy hat.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Three More Very Short Stories

He was never able to tell it just right. When he woke up in the morning, the dreams were so vivid. So interesting. So important. Yet when he tried to tell his friends at the office about them, he could see their eyes glaze over with disinterest. They liked him well enough he supposed, as they verbally urged him on to continue. He knew they were just being polite. Maybe it was their eyes, or their body language that betrayed them. The way they looked down into their coffee cups when he spoke. They didn't really care, and he knew it. Yet, if he could tell the story just right, maybe it would be different this time.

There was something special about this one. The way their eyes met. Like they knew what the other was thinking before even knowing each other's name. Within minutes they could complete each other's sentences. He liked her hair, and she liked his smile. It was like they always knew each other. It was comfortable and exciting at the same time. He didn't ask her for her phone number, as he wanted to play it cool. She didn't want to risk looking too interested, and left him with a simple "maybe I'll see you around". He grunted out a "Yeah" while turning to get another beer at the bar. They never spoke again.

When he lost control of the car, things slowed down just like it did in the movies. He could see the tiny details on the oncoming truck's grill. The tiny rivulets of water beaded on the hood. The dull shine of the paint. The strained expression of the other driver as he spun the steering wheel in slow motion. Then everything moved really fast when impact finally happened. There was a lot of noise and things spun around. He felt disengaged from the event. Interested, sure, but maybe only casually. Then he was upside down in the grass with broken glass stuck in the palms of his hands. He smelled crayons. Red crayons.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate The Decision

Like a spectacular flaming car wreck, I cannot turn my eyes away from the LeBron James debacle. The fact that he left Cleveland and a 200 Gazillion Dollar Contact to go to Miami and take a 190 Gazillion Dollar Contract is not really surprising. If I could go play with my buddies in Miami, I'd probably go too. The awesome thing has been what a public relations and marketing fiasco this has been from the word "go". You want to know what happens when you and your buddies try to live out "Entourage" in the real world? This. This is what happens. You go from a generally well liked guy to the biggest asshole in the planet in one quick hour long infomercial.

Let's get into that ill conceived paid program on ESPN to announce "The Decision" (which had actually been reached a couple years ago when Wade/Bosh/James played together on Team USA). How ESPN, which alleges itself to be somewhat of a "news" organization, allowed James to purchase primetime and present the whole thing as regular ESPN SportsCenter type programming is mind bending. That would be like if CBS News let BP put on the Monday night news talking about how this pesky oil spill was not their fault and Katie Couric smiled and nodded her head to each lie urging the bullshit to continue under the guise of it being real reporting. How do you have LeBron sitting there and not ask if he tanked the Playoffs as it appears now to even the most casual observer? How do you not remark on the fact that LeBron never even responded to the Cavs directly, and instead had one of his bloodsucker friends call to say "thanks but no thanks"? Most importantly, how do you not ask him why he keeps referring to himself in third person?

"Well, at the end of the day LeBron James has to do what is best for LeBron James..."

"Excuse me. I'm confused. You just said LeBron James has to do what is best for LeBron James. Aren't you LeBron James?" Now, how great would that have been?

So let's say ESPN made some money off of this thing, and they no longer have a soul. No big deal. When one of your biggest personalities is Chris Berman, it's not like we're talking about the New York Times here. They did it for the money and the ratings. So, why did LeBron do it? Who the hell is advising this guy? LRMR Marketing: Innovative Marketing and Branding, that's who! Who is this? His high school buddy Maverick Carter, or just like "E" in Entourage! I checked out their typo laden website and discovered an awesome collection of marketing buzzwords and cliches. No doubt, this is the person you want to handle "leveraging relationships and consumer insight to conceive and deploy innovative marketing initiatives". This is actually on their website. Isn't that great? How many times do you think the copy writer had to change that to make it sound more important? Go to the site. It's really funny. "Guys In Over Their Heads Marketing" would have been a better company name, but the letterhead is already printed, so what can you do now?

These idiots came up with this plan. "OK LeBron... Here's what we're going to do. First we're going to build up the hype about where you are going by bringing teams into town to make pointless presentations. Then we're going to go on live TV on ESPN and call it The Decision. Nobody will draw a parallel to The Drive, The Fumble, or The Shot. Don't worry about that. We'll throw people off the track of thinking this is just an infomercial by coming up with some bullshit charity angle. Boys Clubs? That might be great. We'll throw some kids on the set behind you, and toss them some money for some new ping pong tables. We'll call it a "portion of the proceeds". Then you tell everyone you are taking "your talents" to South Beach. That will be great. It will reinforce The Brand. The network will show the split screen crowd reaction shots. Miami going crazy, New York/Chicago pissed, and Cleveland with their hearts ripped out. You better have your shit out of your house, because you can NEVER go home again after fucking those people over on national TV. Then we'll fly to Miami, break out the Cristal, and party our asses off. Sound good?"

LeBron has corporate sponsorship deals with Nike, McDonalds, Sprite (Coca-Cola owned brand), Vitamin Water, Bubblicious, and State Farm. Don't you think it's telling that in this one hour ratings guaranteed program, only Vitamin Water bought time? You think Nike wants anything to do with their brand next to this? Maybe they can do a Tiger Woods/LeBron ad. Each one of these brands was approached by LeBron's people to buy time, and sponsorships weeks ago for this show. You know that Nike and probably McDonald's sent their top marketing people in to try and talk these idiots out of this. These companies have invested millions in The Good Guy LeBron, not The Asshole LeBron. For example, you'll notice that Lindsay Lohan doesn't do many endorsement deals these days. How would you like to have been the guy in charge of Sports Marketing at McDonald's last week? "Yeah, we got the proposal for LeBron's Decision TV special. It sounds great guys, it really does, but are you sure about this? You are? Ummm... OK.... Well, we'd love to be in it, but we just don't have any current creative ready to air. Yes, if only we had more lead time on this. Sorry, but we're going to have to pass. Yes, let's talk next week. Good luck on the show! I'm sure it will be just great!"

If you wanted to have fucked this thing up any further, it's hard to think of how you could do it. Maybe LeBron comes out to the set in a Nazi SS uniform? That would have been worse I guess. I'll tell you what, the best idea I heard was from a friend of mine that suggested the one hour "Decision" special be like one of those 1970s TV variety shows. LeBron would come out on set and sing a duet with Marie Osmond as an opener. Then maybe some sketch comedy with Tim Conway doing a "Dorf" bit with LeBron on a basketball court. Wrap it up with the Miami team change news, and then Gloria Estefan comes out and belts out a tune while LeBron claps along smiling away. It had to have worked out better than what he did.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate Old Rock

I saw an article today in the British Press about the upcoming Keith Richards autobiography and how it's going to really freak Mick Jagger out when Keith goes public with Mick's womanizing and drug taking in the Rolling Stones glory days of the late 60s/early 70s. Is that right? Allow me to counter that stance Sir. I would say that Mick would be doing cartwheels if anyone thought he was "dangerous" these days. Those Rolling Stones guys have teams of PR experts working on making them look dangerous right now. I saw Mick sitting in a suite at the World Cup semi finals with ex-President Bill Clinton and other members of the chicken dinner lecture circuit while wearing a scarf and what appeared to be women's sunglasses. I think he could use as much a reminder of what an excessive cat he was in the early 70s as anyone. He's like a cool old Uncle now (that tends to dress like an Aunt on occaison).

It's tough to try and continue to produce good music when you can have a bunch more fun going to soccer matches and having sex with Brazilian models 40 years younger than yourself. What would you rather do? Sit in the practice space with leathery Ron Wood and Keith Richards, or hang out with Clinton and models? It takes some real dedication to keep writing good stuff. You can really count on one hand how many rock musicians continued to make good music after they really hit it big and hit middle age. Neil Young... Bob Dylan... Maybe Tom Petty... Shit, is there anyone else? The guys I really respect are the ones that have had some moderate success, and still keep doing it well. With these artists, it doesn't seem to matter if the large audience is there or not. They continue doing what it is that they do, as if they have to do it. It's not a choice, it's who they are.

Robyn Hitchcock is a great example. I have a feeling that if you left him alone in a cabin for 3 months, you'd return to find out he'd written 6 complete full lengths, of which 3 would be really good and all would have something of merit. He must have 30+ full length releases since 1980, and the quality of them has maintained throughout. Sure, some are better than others, but it's not like he's been coasting. Interestingly, he continues to write about many of the same themes, but his stuff always comes from a slightly new angle. I've seen him in clubs, then on mid sized theater stages, and then back in the clubs. It doesn't matter. He just does what he does.

There is not many of these types out there. Bob Mould, Jon Spencer, New Model Army, Dave Lowery of Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven, Buzzcocks, Fred Cole of Dead Moon/Pierced Arrows, The Gourds, Frank Black, Dexter Romweber, Bob Pollard, Nick Cave, and Shaver come to mind. These are all musicians that have been doing really good (and sometimes great) stuff for a long time. Maybe it's not as sexy to be into them now as the press has moved onto the Next Hot Thing, but there's a reason the work keeps coming out of these guys. It's good stuff. Maybe not all of it, but it's certainly worth as much attention as whatever the hell is on the cover of Alternative Press this week. Remember, when someone is all breathless about the "New Thing", that today's LCD Soundsystem is tomorrow's Girls Vs Boys.

Now where the hell did I put my Gourds "Stadium Blitzer" disc...

Monday, July 5, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Motorcyclist

So I'm out today on my bike. Not a Harley or some other kind of motorcycle... you know, a "bike" bike like an adult version of a Schwinn. I'm doing my thing down the bike lane, looking pretty badass with no helmet unlike all those other pussies out there on their fancy little bikes. I'm wondering when everyone started to wear helmets on bikes. Granted, if you are doing some mountain trail riding crazy shit, you should probably have a helmet on. I know a woman that would look like Leon Spinks if not for a helmet, but she was also involved in doing some ill advised riding. However, biking around the neighborhood, the helmet may be a bit of an overkill. It's part of the ongoing "Wimpification of America". For example, when I was a kid we all tore ass around town on our bikes and no one wore a helmet. In fact, you would face intense ridicule for wearing a helmet. Yet, I don't recall entering the new school year, and having a discussion about how many comrades you had lost due to horrific bike accidents the year before. "How many this Summer? Terry? Yeah I heard about him. Jimmy? Jimmy's gone too? Jesus! How many of us are left from 3rd grade? Four? Five? They're almost all gone now..." Then maybe we could all sit around the cafeteria with the "Thousand Yard Stare", numb to the losses of our friends like chewed up WW2 vets.

When I am thinking about that issue pedaling away, I see a bunch of motorcycles pass each other. They all give each other the "finger to the ground, we're all brothers of the iron stallion" salute. Then, in between the two motorcycles, is someone on a Vespa. No salute from motorcycle guy. Hey, that's bullshit. If you are on a two wheeled vehicle you should give The Salute to your brother, even if your brother is only packing 25ccs of power. Granted, I am on the outside of this clique looking in, but they've all got to stick together, right? Someone has to buy all those "Loud tailpipes save lives" stickers. Someone has to go see Sammy Hagar when he comes to town. Someone has to wear bad t-shirts and bandanas. Maybe most importantly, someone has to give those leathery Marlboro Red smoking girls rides. How are they going to get around? At some point, the motorcycles will be full, and they'll need their moped cousins to help fill the gap.

I felt bad for the moped guy to be so shunned so publicly. Yeah, he looks pretty wimpy out there, but still... The key to looking good on a moped is probably to be in a pack of guys dressed like mods. Then you are probably pretty badass. When you are out there alone on your moped, you may be no better than me on my bike on the pecking order of the road. Then I was thinking, maybe I'd try to improve my station. I was thinking maybe I'd start to give The Salute to motorcycles when I pedaled by and get on the "ins" with those guys, but then I changed my mind. Most of those guys had helmets on. And if you have a helmet on, you're a pussy.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Three Quick Things

1) Yesterday I was driving behind an SUV going 58 mph in the left lane. In the back window was a license plate that one would buy at such upper end retail shops as Cracker Barrel or Wal Mart that said "Let Me Tell You About My Grandchildren". Has there ever been anything that sounded like more of a threat than that? Those "Protected By Smith and Wesson" stickers don't give me pause, but that sure as hell did. Let me tell you, the last thing I am looking for on a Wednesday afternoon is for someone to "tell me about their grandchildren".

2) LeBron mania has hit a new level of hysteria. Here's the only take you need on that guy. His only stated goal is to be "the first billionaire athlete". I don't recall him ever saying anything about being the best player of all time, or winning the most championships. Nope. He wants to be a Billionaire. And why not? He is a star in America's third favorite sport leading a team that he has never guided to a championship. He doesn't produce anything. He doesn't make the planet a better place. He does take money from corporations to help sell marked up basketball shoes, sugary drinks, and fast food. Yes, he definitely should be paid a BILLION dollars. So when you buy into the "LeBron Brand" (to steal a phrase from his posse of high school buddies that guide his career), you get what exactly? A guy that is out for a buck and has never actually won jack. That's what you get. Fuck him. He's no Kobe, Michael, Kareem, Bird, Magic, Oscar Robertson, and on and on and on. You want a BILLION dollars? Invent something. Create a company that builds something. Putting a ball in a hoop? Wow. Here's a BILLION dollars. Oh yeah, you earned it.

3) I have this idea I have been championing for a long time. You know when you're at a baseball game and the "Scream team" or whatever they call the over caffeinated promotions team shoots hot dogs and t shirts to the crowd via the air gun? Fans kill each other for a second rate Indians t shirt with a huge "First Merit Bank" logo on it. However, what if one out of every three bundles shot out of the cannon were loaded with a full baby diaper? Or maybe instead of every one being a hot dog, they'd slip in a feces filled pig's small intestine? I tell you what, fans would think twice about leaning over the upper deck to grab at that bundle shot their way. It would make for a better overall fan experience to see people reach for something and then try to avoid it hitting them at the last second when they realized what it might actually be. Throw it up on the Jumbotron with a sponsor logo, and you've got a real win/win scenario.