Thursday, January 24, 2013

Nurse the Hate: The So Totally Awesome Manti Te'o Story Continues!

Well it certainly is good news that the “real” girlfriend of Manti Te’o has finally surfaced.  I had begun to think something was amiss here!  Today’s narrative in this totally awesome story is that Manti Te’o dated the girl pictured above who looks strangely like a hot Rachel Ray.  Isn’t she nice and well scrubbed?  Apparently they started dating sometime after November after the “death” of his fake girlfriend.  This is from a People Magazine article recap…

"Lennay was often brought up in conversation," Del Pilar, a junior at Notre Dame sister school St. Mary's College in South Bend, Ind., who met Te'o in November and dated him until earlier this month, tells PEOPLE. "I wanted to know about her, and how they did the long distance. He definitely [loved her]."

Del Pilar says Te'o, 22, proved equally devoted to her, regularly checking in before and after games when he was on the road – and he introduced her to his family.  "At the last home game they had a luau and he invited me to that," she says. "They did the [traditional Maori] Haka dance and his sisters performed the Hula and he made me try all the Hawaiian food. For me, family comes first, so when he did that, that really showed me his character. That's what drew us together."

 Sadly the two have broken up after Manti had to move to Florida to train for the draft, but they remain “very close and the best of friends”. 

Oh, well that explains that!  Who would think it was odd that a guy that had a long distance relationship with “the love of his life” that he had never actually bothered to meet wouldn’t take a girl he dated for a couple weeks to a family luau?  Of course.  There’s nothing weird about that.  Just a couple nice college kids having some family fun.  Plenty of widely accepted safe values all around.  Nothing to see here.  Move along. 

As soon as I saw this totally bullshit placed news item I thought, “Is she an actress, model or public relations ringer?”.  I find it odd that some random college girl has a professional quality photograph ready for the United States press corp to download for easy consumption.  When I was in college, most of my pictures were of me passed out on couches and mattresses on floors.  I don’t recall myself or any of my friends doing any quick modeling spreads.  Maybe times have changed?   

I also find it odd that this item breaks just hours before his staged interview with Katie Couric is scheduled to air.  This is the mark of true professionalism.  This technique is called “controlling the narrative” and is used to water down and guide the press where the client needs them to be focused.  The goal is to get you focused on unimportant details and forget the larger story.  You will get so wrapped up in this new girl, and listening to the highly coached interview questions/answers, you will forget that absolutely none of this adds up in any way.  The goal is to make sure that Manti Te’o remains a highly draftable NFL #1 draft choice and receives his multi million dollar signing bonus and contract.  These are very high stakes.  That’s why there is so much bullshit being slung.  

If you are still somehow skeptical, allow me to direct you to Alexandra del Pilar’s Linked In page. You can imagine how shocked I was to discover that she is a public relations major entering her final year of school.  What are the odds that she was promised a plum public relations job in exchange for “a little help” with this particular project?  I would think that whatever firm brings her on after graduation is the one that is handling this public relations disaster.  You have to admire this woman and her ability to take advantage of this amazing career opportunity.  If she could speak honestly to her classmates about this, they would learn more about public relations in 15 minutes than all their previous class work combined. 

The next hurdle for team Te’o is to explain why he was talking for hours on the phone to a man that allegedly was pretending to be a woman.  Whew.  That ain’t gonna be easy…  Doesn’t this seem like way more trouble than just saying “I’m gay!  I’m sorry I lied about all of this!”?  It has snowballed so wildly out of control now there is no stopping it.  This is truly my favorite news event of the decade so far.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Learning No Lesson

It was seven degrees when I woke up this morning.  Seven.  The good news is that it felt like eight.  I walked unsteadily down the icy driveway to get the paper which announced “Cold Spell Will Last Forever”.  This is no way to live your life.  I have heard with some reasonable amount of confirmation that many citizens of our great nation live in climates where they see the sun on a daily basis, the temperature is above single digits, and the rivers run filled with lager.  (This may not all be true as the Internet is also filled with wild lies like Polynesian West Coast girlfriends.)

 Each year I find myself sitting in the dark clouds and freezing climate vowing to escape.  Then Spring arrives, baseball season starts, and I forget about the previous five months.  It’s odd how I learn no lesson.  I have repeated this same cycle twenty something times.  Every January/February I am willing to do most anything to escape.  Yet, here it sit again.  I am a man with marketable talents and the means to live almost anywhere I want.  I probably can’t pull off an oceanside villa in La Jolla CA, but there is no reason why I can’t have a modest place within walking distance of warm ocean waters and consistent sunshine.  I could be strolling around Rome right now dodging some fucking kid on a moped, but instead I am finding frozen weaves in inner city snowbanks.  It’s madness.  Complete madness.

If I am honest with myself, it has always been this way.  Quick example...  A million years ago I had this girlfriend that was really bad news.  I should have known when a .38 snub nose pistol fell out of her purse without explanation early in our relationship that this might not be the best match for my particular female criterion.  I like a woman that is sexy, confident, successful and sophisticated, not one that resembles a B-movie private detective.  Call me traditional…  The version of her life she shared with me was a flimsy fiction of strung together hard luck stories and outright lies.  A man in his early twenties is willing to forgive a number of things from a pretty girl that is willing to do certain other things.  After you’ve done these things a few times, you begin to weigh the pros and cons of being with a fictional character.  I mean, at least tell the truth once in awhile to make it interesting.  Still, I soldiered on with the hope that things would work out.  I learned no lesson. 

In most cases things are the way they are.  There aren't that many mysteries below the surface.  You know how at your job, there will be a meeting where it is announced "From now on things are going to be different!  We are now going to stop doing the same fucked up things we always do and will henceforth begin a New Age of Enlightenment!  All the things we used to do are OVER!  Now we will begin with New Ideas For A New Tomorrow!"  Then 20 minutes after that meeting, everyone goes back to doing the same fucked up shit they were doing before, right?  Does that mean I will always be trapped in this icicle jail?  Will I never find the escape map to where I become one of the smiling people I see on TV doing things I don't do like rollerblading, windsurfing, and flying kites?  Maybe I'm just not being realistic about myself.  I must like the unpleasantness of the whole thing, like some kind of weather S&M pain fetish freak.  Perhaps I just have the constitution to absorb this horrific weather for the most part, and I need to try to come up with a short term working solution... 

 There are people that enjoy winter sports.  They like skiing.  They like ice fishing.  I even see people running outside today.  These are people we refer to as "goddamn fools".  There is no reason to be outside in arctic temperatures.  There is no fun to be had out there.  Bring on this much hyped global warming.  I live in Cleveland.  Maybe the climate of North Carolina will come to me.  Sure, most coastal cities will be washed away in horrible megastorms at the cost of tens of thousands of lives, but if that is the price that must be paid for me to enjoy myself in my home town in February, so it must be.  Sure, I could move, but who has the time to pretend to be someone else in a job interview?  Who has the time to conceal obvious major structural flaws in their home in order to sell it to some sucker?  Plus, who knows what city is about to be wiped off the map due to massive climate change?  Those guys at Stage Farm aren't going to tell you.  They keep that information close to the vest brother.

 It is obvious that I need to get away from this ridiculous situation in this Ice Age Hellhole, if only for the chance to re-charge.  What's it been?  Three weeks since I have been in a civilized climate?  How can a man continue in such deplorable conditions?  It is time for a poorly researched escape.

Before I can go anywhere though, let me update you on the ill advised descent into the rabbit hole that is The Johnny Cash Project.  Disc 39 is Johnny Cash Sings Precious Memories.  Why Johnny Cash decided to record an album in 1974 that sounded like it was produced by June and Ward Cleaver in 1959 I cannot say.  Think of the worst combination of early 1970s instrumentation with strings, female backup vocals, and horns mixed with cliche church songs that even bee-hived choir directors would dismiss as "Nah, let's not do that.  That's too sappy.".  This album is not for you.  Do not even stare at it with your naked eyes as you may become sucked into the void by staring at the grade school art contest artwork they used for the cover.  This is awful.  (see cover below) Disc 40 John R. Cash is some sort of attempt to make Johnny Cash sound current in 1974.  Please note, by the word "current" I mean that he sounds like he is backed up by England Dan and John Ford Coley.  (How about that for an oblique 70s music reference?)  If you wanted to know what Johnny Cash would sound like fronting Firefall, this record is for you.  It has the worst version of "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" I have ever heard.  The arrangement is so misguided, it is worth hearing once so you can sit open mouthed in amazement and say "Who thought of that?".  There is a pretty good version of David Allen Coe's "Cocaine Carolina" though.  Clip the single off of itunes.  Disc 41 Look At Them Beans is worth listening to so you can wonder how the truly awful song "Look At Them Beans" ever charted on the country charts.  Mainstream country music fans are not exactly the biggest bastions of substantial songwriting, so I guess they must have liked hearing Johnny Cash yelling out "Look At Them Beans!!!!".  This is another pretty bad album, although the cover is interesting to look at and wonder how it got approved by anyone with even a lick of sense.  Disc 42 Strawberry Cake is a live show in England that is probably pretty representative of his live show in the mid 70s.  Johnny does some old war horse songs, tells some stories, plays a few new ones, tells some more stories, has June sing one, and then drives off with a sack of money.  It's actually pretty good, but all the other live records are better.  "I Still Miss Someone" makes its 33rd appearance on a Johnny Cash record in case you don't have any of the other 32 versions.  Disc 43 One Piece At A Time is a pretty good one.  The production is much more of the traditional "Johnny Cash sound".  "One Piece At A Time" is an essential Cash single.  "Committed To Parkview" is a nice bleak song about rehab.  "Sold Out of Flagpoles" is a fun throwaway.  After what can only be called "A Dark Fucking Period", Cash is starting to deliver the goods again.  I messed up and listened to one out of order, so that puts us to Disc 45.  Disc 45 The Rambler is an interesting idea of a radio play with a running story between songs that loosely fit into the narrative.  The basic idea is that Cash is a man that can't get a woman out of his mind, so he is going to ramble across the country until he either forgets her or meets another one.  Being in motion is better than being stuck with just himself and the thoughts that haunt him.  "Hit The Road and Go" is classic Cash.  So is "After the Ball".  "A Wednesday Car" is a good nod to the working man in the auto industry.  I don't know if you can listen to the sometimes clumsy dialogue over and over, but one time around was pretty interesting.  One thing you have to say about Cash.  After at this point 20+ years of recording, he is still pushing himself artistically and taking risks.  While not everything on this is a home run, I love that he went to the plate and took some big cuts.  Bravo.  


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Nurse the Hate: The Last Cold Snap

I remember the last cold snap we had like this.  It must have been January because it was pitch black by the time I was driving home from work.  I drove into the driveway and heard the snow crackle under the tires.  When it sounds like you have a gravel driveway, you know the weather report says “really fucking cold” with that time tested graphic of ice on the thermometer. 

I had to stop halfway into the driveway and park in the street because I was having firewood delivered.  Two young boys had the unenviable task of hauling and stacking wood across the frozen tundra backyard against my back fence line.  Although they were in snowmobile suits, their faces were glowing bright red with shiny runny noses.  I walked over to them to check in with their progress.  As I spoke to them, I noticed a strange large shadow to the extreme left of the fence line.  It was dark in the back corner, but something was unmistakably there.  I broke off my conversation with the boys and crunched cautiously in the snow over to the large object on the fence. 

As I got closer I saw the profile of a large dog, about the size of a Newfoundland, caught on the fence.  The dog wasn’t moving.  As I got closer I saw his collar was caught up on the fence, like he had some type of accident while trying to hop over it.  He was dead.  He had hung himself on the fence.  His body was cold and had already stiffened.  I had the image of him struggling to free himself in the late afternoon light with no one home to possibly see him struggle.  I love dogs and this image was way too heavy for me to think about.  I tried to banish it from my head as I furiously hoisted the dog free from the fence.  He landed with a dull thud on the hard ground.  The boys stared at me with muted surprise, their arms to their sides. 

I recognized the dog.  I had seen him one time before.  He had hopped over the fence and surprised me one night by staring in the sliding glass door at night.  It was startling to see a large animal staring at you when you don’t expect to see it.  I opened the door to try to figure out whose dog it was, but he gracefully leaped the fence by placing his paws on the fence line and effortlessly hopped over.  I knew with some certainty how he had died now and once more the image of the helpless animal struggling filled my head.  

I could see my breath billow out white on the dog’s body as I looked for a tag to identify him.  I found a tag with address and phone number.  Fuck.  I was going to have to make this call and tell these people their dog had died.  Fuck.  I opened my cell phone and called the number.  A woman answered.  I asked if she had a missing dog, and she said she did but without explanation handed the phone to an older man.  “I don’t really know how to tell you this, so I’m just going to be direct.  I came home and found your dog in my backyard.  He had an accident and he died.  I thought you should know right away.  I…”  The man cut me off with a high pitched cry.  He asked me for my address and hung up. 

I stood outside for the next ten minutes with the boys waiting for the man.  We engaged in that awkward small talk people have when they don’t know what to say, reviewing what had just happened as if we all had somehow forgotten.  A pickup truck pulled into my driveway.  An older man and a big teenage boy got out of the truck dressed in blue collar work outfits.  I slowly walked up to the older man and explained what happened, not really finding a way to somehow cushion him from coming to the same terrible conclusion of the final turn of events for the dog.  The boy didn’t say a word and emotionlessly picked up the stiff dog corpse and placed it in the back of the truck.  The older man began to cry.  I said I was sorry, feeling somehow responsible.  The man ignored me, climbed into the driver’s side and drove away.  I walked inside my house as the boys resumed stacking the wood.  I never saw any of them again.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Take A Chance

I managed to go 0-4 last week betting NFL games.  This is actually more difficult to do than going 4-0. By dumb luck you will usually win one game.  You can't lose all four.  It doesn't happen.  Well, it generally doesn't happen.  I can't ever recall accomplishing a feat like this in all my years of wagering on things I clearly know nothing about.  Hell, I couldn't go 0-4 betting hockey and I can't even name a single player in the NHL.  Yet, here I am ready to go today.  I am now completely without confidence in my opinion on these two games, and have over thought them to the point of total confusion.  The smart play would be to load up on NyQuil and let the good times roll over me like a nice syrupy wave.  I have no business making a wager on anything right now, yet with only three games remaining in the season, I feel like I have to see this thing through.  This is, of course, my first mistake.

When I was a kid, I used to walk up to the playground at the elementary school by my house with friends.  We would ride the swings, and push ourselves higher and higher.  I remember swinging high enough to become level with the top bar that affixed the swings.  There would be a slight bump as you free fell after you reached your highest point.  That soon wore off as being the Ultimate Thrill, and we then began jumping off the swings as high as we could get them.  What an amazing feeling to be arching through the air at a height you could never reach otherwise.  To even attempt that today would result in broken ankles and fused vertebrae.  I would be in physical therapy for months, celebrating hobbling ten feet with a nice cup of pudding.

On one particular day I was kicking ass on the swings.  Three of us were swinging our little hearts out. We made the plan to jump off at the same time.  The move would be that you would position your hands behind the chains of the swing and use that to help you launch.  The problem was that Robert to my left freaked out and decided not to jump when we got to the top .  Therefore, I also decided not to jump.  I wasn't going to be made a fool of and jump alone for God's sake!  What I didn't take into account when I made that decision was that nothing was now tethering me to the swing.  I recognized I was in a bit of a predicament as I fell out during the back swing, my arms behind me unable to help break my fall in the dust and rocks.  I had a split second of recognition when I knew what an awful error I had made.  The fall from the swing took forever.  I landed awkwardly and hurt myself in rather spectacular fashion.

Today I feel much like I did when I fell out of that swing.  I want to brace for the inevitable impact, but I can't.  I am in free fall.  Come join me.  Flame out by taking Baltimore +8, Atlanta +4.5, and tease them both for Baltimore +14/Atlanta +10.5.  It's going to be great!  Wait...  Maybe I should take New England -8, San Francisco -4.5 and tease both of them at New England -2/San Fran +1.5?  Yeah, that's better...  Or maybe not...  How about New England -2/Atlanta +10.5?  Jesus, I don't know.  Somebody give me some guidance...  OK, I'm on Atlanta +10.5/New England -1.5.  That's it.  I'm taking a chance.

Johnny Cash Project:  Disc 31 Any Old Wind That Blows has some of those awful elements from the early 1970s singer songwriter period with string sections, and limp songs.  "Oney" is an OK "working man" song.  There's a pretty groovy version of "If I Had A Hammer" that sounds like the Partridge Family might be playing backup.  The songs are weak on this, with "Kentucky Straight" and "Country Trash" some of the worst Cash originals out there.  Disc 32 and 33 is The Gospel Road.  This double album from the movie dedicated to Jesus life is a bigger version of The Holy Land and really tested my commitment to this harebrained idea.  If you ever wanted to go to Sunday School and have Johnny Cash as your teacher, let me direct you towards this.  How many times can you tell the same story like he is with these gospel records?  Somebody must have bought these, because Columbia kept putting them out.  My guess is that every single used copy of this floating around out there is in almost perfect condition because it would have only been played once.  It did go to #12 on the Country album chart, which is astounding.  Disc 34 Johnny Cash and His Woman has what may be the most annoying Cash single of all time "Allegheny".  June is making a wild shriek and throaty laugh through the whole thing.  It is absolutely cringe worthy.  "The City of New Orleans" is really good, as is the Cash original "Saturday Night In Hickman County".  Disc 35 Pa Osteraker is a really good live show from a Swedish prison.  There are plenty of new lonesome prisoner songs on it played with his core band.  "Orleans Parish Prison", "Jacob Green", "City Jail", and "Nobody Cared" are right in his wheelhouse.  If you dig the Folsom and San Quentin records, this will be a great addition.  This one is a hidden jewel in his catalogue.  Disc 36 Ragged Old Flag has some of the mid seventies concerns in the song topics; ecology, lost sense of patriotism, and a lost sense of purpose.  "Don't Go Near The Water" is a unique vibe amongst Cash songs.  "All I Do Is Drive" is a cool truck driving song.  "Please Don't Let Me Out" about an old prisoner.  These are all Cash originals, and while not his best work, it's good to see some focused songwriting back from Cash.   Disc 37 The Junkie And The Juicehead Minus Me is a movie soundtrack that you really don't need.  The title track is OK, but there's shit like "Ole Slewfoot" and Rosanne Cash songs on this.  The best thing about this is how short it is.  Disc 38 The Johnny Cash Children's Album is a confusing mess.  Who the hell makes  a children's record where a guy shoots his dog?  ("Old Shep")  This is really a collection of simple adult songs with a couple kiddie tunes tacked on ("Dinosaur Song" and "The Timber Man").  This album pretty much blows except for "Nasty Dan". 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Nurse the Hate: The Awesome Manti Te'o Story Day 2

I am immensely disappointed that we have had no further developments in this Te’o story in the last day.  Te’o and His People are currently hoping upon hope that Lance Armstrong and his admission to something we all already knew seven years ago will take some of the thunder away from the story.  My belief is that when they see that this has failed to make the story go away, they will bring out Ronaiah Tuiasosopo to fall on the sword on Sunday.  Why Sunday?  Most of the rabid dog reporters will be home and the weekend staffers, largely inexperienced or second rate, will have to pick up the ball.  After some sham press conference in which a written statement is passed out, they will place him back in hiding and see if they can wait this thing out.  It’ll be great, because they will have him looking hangdog yet respectful of the situation.  I’m thinking a dark suit…  Te’o will once again apologize for the “pain and suffering” he has caused people in yet another prepared statement, and may even make a donation to some kind of leukemia foundation in hopes of wrapping it up.  There is no chance he will be made available for an interview until they can hammer out a deal with NBC for some softball interview deal.  Picture Matt Lauer walking the Notre Dame campus with Te’o while he dodges questions with highly coached answers.  Why NBC?  Because they have the broadcast rights to Notre Dame Football, and NBC isn’t going to shoot one of their biggest sports assets in the foot. 

The amazing thing is that no one in the national media has even floated the idea out of him being gay.  I saw the Today Show this morning and watched those dopey talking heads all question each other with “I can’t understand why he would do this?” and “It’s so confusing!”  Clearly no one wants to be the first one with their fingerprints on that hot potato.  I can’t be the only one out here that instantly thought “He’s gay…” right?  It’s the only thing that makes sense.  As Jay Mohr said yesterday, “this makes the Kennedy assassination seem simple”.  Why is everyone pretending that Te’o being gay hasn’t even crossed their minds?  Something you should keep in mind as real issues like gun control, defense spending or abortion are covered by the media is that if they can’t openly discuss a ridiculous football player’s false identity, how can they possibly present factual coverage of anything?   If you can’t say what everyone is thinking on Te’o, how can you possibly criticize defense spending and/or cuts?  It’s such a stupid dance… 

At what point will Notre Dame cut bait and run?  As boneheads on sports talk radio keep thinking this is happened so Notre Dame could get more press, Notre Dame has to feel the heat.  For all intents and purposes, Te’o is now an ex-employee.  What other company would stick their necks out and stay attached to the personal actions of one of their ex-employees?  At some point someone over there will come to their senses and say “Why don’t we say this was all his personal life, we don’t have anything to do with it, and we are all as shocked as you are?”?  There must be lawyers over there howling in protest at how the Athletic Director has handled this thing.  And you know what?  They are right. 

Let’s get this Tuiasosopo interview going already!  The show must go on!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Nurse the Hate: The Awesome Manti Te'o Story

The Manti Te’o story is without question my favorite news story in quite a long time.  This might be the best news item since Octomom.  I love the fact that an entire nation is riveted to a fictional girlfriend story that is really a victimless crime and will have no impact whatsoever on any of us.  It’s just one of those “stare at the accident” stories that are so enjoyable from afar.  The story itself makes no sense whatsoever.  How can a guy not know his girlfriend is a hoax?  The answer is, of course, that he did know it was all bullshit.  That is what makes the story so compelling.  The real story is “Why”?

What we know is Manti Te’o has come forth and said he is the victim of a terrible hoax.  He is without blame, and he needs to deal with this embarrassment privately as he and his family seek to find the answers surrounding these events.  This is obviously total bullshit.  I have seen the video clips where he talks about meeting his girlfriend.  Since we now know that he never met this woman, we can also assume that everything else connected with this are lies he either knew about or helped construct?  Let’s be serious here…  If the love of your life is going into chemo for leukemia, you aren’t going to go see her?  She dies and you don’t go to the funeral?  You don’t pass along heartfelt condolences to the family?  Even prior to that, you don’t see her?  If I am a 21 year old and I am in love with a woman, the only thing I am concerned with is putting my penis inside of her as often as possible and at every opportunity.  Let’s stop the nonsense.  He knew that this story was complete and utter bullshit.  He was part of it. 

This leads me to one of two likely scenarios.  Scenario #1 is that he and his buddy make an elaborate story up to pull the media’s leg.  These are a couple of stupid jocks that had no comprehension on how modern media works, and the damn thing grew beyond their ability to control it.  When they realized it was out of control, they “killed” her at the same time as his grandmother, hoping that by lumping the two in together they could explain away some of the annoying details.  Why they killed her instead of just saying that the two of them broke up and decided to remain friends is beyond me, but you can never underestimate the stupidity of 21 year old boys.  

I do not believe that is the most likely scenario though.  It all comes back to motivation.  Are you trying to tell me that Manti Te’o puts his NFL career, signing bonus, and endorsements at risk to have a good laugh at the media’s expense?  Ha-ha!  That was funny!  Now America thinks you are an asshole and you lost a $2.4 million dollar Nike endorsement.  That was worth it.  Furthermore, if it was a variation of the “asshole friends thought it would be funny, now I’m really fucking sorry”, you would throw it out there like that.  America forgives and forgets.  One news cycle goes by and it becomes “boys will be boys” and gets swept under the rug.  Does anyone remember that A-Rod confessed to steroid use?  Ray Lewis killed a guy and no one cares!  Let’s be realistic here! 

Let me throw out scenario #2.  I think we all know someone that has had “a number of girlfriends in the Niagara Falls area”.  I went to college with a guy like that.  “Hey man, I’ve been with tons of chicks.  You just don’t know any of them.  They aren’t from around here.”  Um-Hmm.  Of course they are.  It is odd that you can’t have even a simple conversation with a woman in this zip code but yet you are some sort of jet setting cocksman a mere three hours drive from here…  Anytime you encounter that scenario, someone is hiding something. 

So what could Manti Te’o be hiding?  Let’s say you are a football player at a high profile Catholic University with NFL aspirations that comes from a Mormon background.  I see a few institutions lumped together in that list I wouldn’t refer to as “socially progressive”.  Unless I start to see a bunch of photographs of this guy fondling half of the female population of South Bend Indiana, I think this gentleman might be hiding his sexual preferences for men.  I don’t know.  Maybe this dead girlfriend story was his spin on the “Fawn Lebowitz” scenario in the movie “Animal House”.  I don’t know the guy.  He could just be a dirtbag.  That seems like a whole lot of trouble to go through for the face of the Notre Dame football team to get laid though, doesn’t it?  It doesn’t seem as far fetched if you are trying to explain why you don’t have a girlfriend and you are afraid to come out.  Let’s take it a step further…  Was the Twitter account set up so he could reach some sort of compromise with his partner on communicating affections publicly while still maintaining the stereotypical image of the campus jock?  Like I said, I don’t know the guy, but that starts to make a lot more sense than the bullshit he is trotting out as the truth now.  I recognize this as a crazy accusation without any real evidence, but isn’t that the fun of this story? 

Let me tell you what has probably happened over the last few weeks.  Deadspin got their story together, and probably asked Manti Te’o for a comment on it right before Christmas.  He must have shit a brick.  He then tells them he will call them back with a comment after the holidays.  He huddles up with the family at Xmas and either tells them a) the truth or b) some variation thereof that he can live with.  They meet with Notre Dame on 12.26 and a full scale alert is sounded.  Oh, to have been in that meeting…. 

Notre Dame has their lawyers and media people conference call Deadspin and say “Give us until after the BCS game and we will give you a full comment”.  Notre Dame and their people meanwhile internally try to role play out various scenarios and to decide which is the best angle to use in the upcoming media explosion.  The BCS game happens and Te’o signs with an agent about 11 seconds after the final gun.  The agent hires a motherfucker of a PR agency to try and get their arms around this.  These are probably real pros.  The people that handled that Gulf Oil spill for BP, and Tom Cruise’s divorce would be my guess.  It is agreed they will use the Victim Card as a strategy.  The other guy on the end of the Twitter account has probably been whisked off to a compound in Cabo San Lucas under an assumed name, signed a $250,000+ non disclosure agreement, and is going through intensive media training on how to fall on the sword and claim full responsibility.  He will be placed in front of relatively friendly handpicked media early next week with a female “accomplice” (probably a family member of his who will also be paid).  They will claim to be terrible people, apologize profusely, and ask for no more questions so everyone involved can heal.  It’s going to be quite a show! 

I hope beyond hope that it turns out Manti Te’o is gay and open about it.  This will create some of the most uncomfortable press conferences you have ever seen as all the players in the drama will have to comment.  Notre Dame will have to comment on why they created such an “unfriendly environment” for homosexuals.  The Catholic Church will get dragged into it for their spin.  Each NFL team that could potentially draft Te’o will have to discuss their organization’s stance on homosexuality.  This will be all of them as everyone will speculate on how far his draft stock may have fallen.  Meanwhile, you can count on some dumbfuck players rolling out homophobic rants.  A media shitstorm will blow up around them.  In the end, Manti Te’o will make the remarkable run from hero to villain to victim in no time.  He will become a poster boy for equal rights and countless stories will air offering an empathetic look at “this poor young man that lived in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.”   It will be the greatest four months of media you have ever seen.  I can feel it.  Right now the Jacksonville Jaguars are going through “correct” media responses to a variety of Te’o questions.  Please oh please oh please let this happen…  

There is nothing else for us to do now but wait for the twitter account guy.  I pray he is awkward and stumbles with questions.  I can’t wait.  This is going to be great!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Hate The Flu

I got a flu shot a couple of days ago, convinced by the wild media reports of rampant illness and bodies stacked like cordwood on the side of the road.  That’s the best thing about a media driven health scare.  It’s never “some people may get sick, you’ll feel like crap for a few days”.  The focus is always “authorities believe that children and senior citizens will drop like flies, and normal healthy adults will be relegated to immeasurable fevers, left twisting in their sweat under filth laden sheets”.  I got sold.  I bought in.  $31 later at a local CVS where a woman probably no more qualified than a Jiffy Lube employee shot me full of live influenza virus, I was on my way. 

Despite feeling 100% normal prior to the injection, I immediately began to feel that slightly achy, bad sinus combination that is usually the harbinger of some type of awful winter illness.  I had an odd night of sleep the first night, but the real feature presentation was last night.  Wild dreams involving me flying military jets dropping napalm on screaming citizens.  Walking around street fairs in New Orleans where everyone was in costume but me.  A big peroxide blonde curvy woman in a 1980s pant suit that looked vaguely like Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke that gave me car keys on a leather key chain and demanded I pick up her daughter despite me having no idea who her daughter was or where she might be located.  Walking around a dusty weathered abandoned century home, the creaking floorboards leading to a furnished bedroom where a woman cried and asked me to help her.  She wouldn’t tell me what she needed help with, and soon sat on the edge of the bed looking at me wide eyed.  We then sat down and started writing songs, one of which she solved with the perfect chord change, one that was so obvious yet totally hidden to me.  Sadly, I can't remember the tune.  I was then picked up at the house by military police, led back to the aircraft carrier, where I took off in the plane and began the dream cycle again.  It repeated three times.  I woke up more tired than when I went to bed. 

While waiting to get my flu shot at the CVS, I noticed a product on sale I am eager to try.  ZzzQuil Nighttime Sleep-Aid has a “warming berry flavor” and claims to be “non-habit forming”.  It looks exactly like Nyquil but offers no cold relief, which I take to mean it is a syrupy alcohol without any decongestants.  I think it is like a really bad digestivo, slightly more hellish than Kummerling or Underberg.  Is this something that should be sold at a pharmacy or should it be sold at a liquor store?  I love the fact that this product is available at all, and that the Nyquil people are now embracing the fact that most people use Nyquil strictly to feel The Velvet Glove of its embrace.  I cannot ever recall hearing anyone say “That Nyquil cleared me up”.  I do recall hearing people make a low moaning sound as if remembering a tryst with a secret lover.  That moan you hear?  That is what is commonly referred to in Business 101 classes as “product demand”. 

The move tonight might be to combine the lingering effects of this injection with ZzzzQuil Nighttime Sleep-Aid to see exactly what happens.  Whenever I take Nyquil, it’s like riding the Syrup Dragon.  I can only imagine the wild ride I will go on tonight.  In case I never wake up after taking a heavy dose of this “non-habit forming nighttime sleep-aid”, remember me as an adventurer.  If I wake, I will then look for the ultimate thrill ride, “ZzzQuil DAYTIME Sleep-Aid”.  It must be out there somewhere…   

Monday, January 14, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Jeff Mangum in Cleveland

Last Friday night I went to see Jeff Mangum.  For those of you that don’t know who this admittedly obscure recording artist is, he was the driving force in the band Neutral Milk Hotel.  Even the term “band” isn’t really right, as this was part of the Elephant 6 collective.  “Collective” is a fancy term for a bunch of people with similar music tastes that hung out together making music in shitty college houses.  When I hear “collective”, I usually think of a bunch of thinly talented people trying to legitimize each others’ flimsy artistic endeavors, but in this case there were some really talented people doing some pretty great things.

So these folks are all making records and getting lumped in together.  They are all pretty cool records with a nod to the Beatles 1965-1968 period, which means they are all pretty accessible for “indie” records.  However, these are all still indie records that had a limited audience of record store clerks, clove smoking college students, girls with blocky glasses, and older record collector guys.  Neutral Milk Hotel had put out a record called “On Avery Island” that had its moments but for the most part filled the profile of past Elephant 6 records.  Then along came “On The Aeroplane Over The Sea”… 

“On The Aeroplane Over The Sea” is without question a major artistic triumph and a great record.  I believe that this is probably one of the most significant records over the last three decades.  It is memorable upon first listen but offers greater depth on each subsequent listen.  Like all great art, it is multi faceted and leaves you unable to totally grasp it.  It is like a powerful dream that leaves you thinking for hours afterward, the raw emotion practically oozing out of it.  There are so many ideas all executed perfectly it is really staggering.  It is a series of songs that stand alone powerfully but are all part of a greater sum, flowing seamlessly into each other.  It really is astounding. 

I was late to the party on this record.  I never saw any of these guys play, although I did go to a house party with some of them when we played Athens a million years ago.  I couldn't tell you who though.  They were just some indie rock guys like us that I assumed had no real chance at mainstream success either.  The record was released in 1998.  There was a short tour.  Moderate fame and press notice started to hum and buzz.  Then Mangum pulled the plug and dropped out of sight.  It is the indie rock version of JD Salinger.  I think of “On The Aeroplane Over The Sea” as something similar to a Van Gogh painting.  Imagine Van Gogh painting “Starry Night” and then saying “I think I’m done painting now”.   What?  What do you mean you are done painting?  How do you walk away from that much natural ability and God given talent?

Mangum avoids interviews.  There has never been a real explanation for his decision to stop making music publicly.  It is hard to get a handle on.  People speculate on mental issues, stage fright, writer’s block, and other wild theories.  Frankly, it is a hell of an album to follow up on.  I wouldn’t want to be compared to that for the rest of my life.  Maybe it was a burst of creativity he knew he could never equal again.  Maybe he just lost interest.  I don’t think anyone has a clue except those closest to him.  It appeared that Jeff Mangum would be one of those interesting little footnotes in rock music, someone record geeks could lord over those that dare to have less than all-consuming interest in rock music.  And Skip Spence begot Jeff Mangum.  Amen.   

So there I was at the Cleveland Masonic Hall waiting to see Jeff Mangum with 1500 other incredulous people.  It was like waiting to see Santa Claus.  You figure he didn’t really exist, but you gotta buy a ticket to see Santa if he tours in your city, right?  Two obscure bands opened up to limited polite response.  Let’s not kid each other.  The multi generation gathering of Hipster Nation was there for one thing, and that was not to get turned on to some delicate little nerd rock band.

A foldout chair sat in the middle of the stage in the enormous auditorium surrounded by Mangum's grandfather's acoustic guitars.  Mangum walked out with wild long hair and crazy beard like he had just walked out of the woods after wandering around for a few years.  You remember what Tom Hanks looked like in Forrest Gump when he ran across the country?  He looked like that.  (see above)

What was shocking wasn’t that he sounded great, like he just walked out of the studio after recording “In The Aeroplane”.  It was how relaxed and confident he was in his performance.  He smiled asking the crowd to sing along.  He made sharp witted remarks to the idiots that would scream out in the all acoustic atmosphere.  He looked seasoned and professional.  He looked like a normal guy that just got off work at a microbrewery, and decided to knock out 13 great songs.  What the fuck?  How could this guy just disappear, walk out and deliver the goods like that?  Who the hell is this guy?  What other rabbits can he pull out of that army hat of his? 

The crowd was listening in rapt attention.  When he finished his set with “Two Headed Boy Pt Two” you could hear a pin drop.  The huge applause that followed that moment of silence after the last note was appreciative and real.  While I wish the three dozen or so people that don’t know how to conduct themselves at an acoustic concert would have gone back to the BW-3 that spat them out to the show, it was pretty amazing to see and hear half of the crowd singing along to songs that obviously were very personal and important to each of them.   

It was a memorable night. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Hate The Playoffs

I know that the Denver Broncos are going to beat the Ravens today.  It is something that is going to happen.  There is nothing we, or the Ravens for that matter, can do to prevent it.  We all know it.  That's why Vegas has placed that terrifying 9.5 point spread on it.  All I know is this...  While the national media has been going crazy with praising Ray Lewis and making us believe that this 17 year veteran linebacker is some sort of game changer, the Colts rolled up 419 total yards on the Ravens last week.  Meanwhile, I don't think Peyton Manning has thrown a bad pass in six weeks.  I think the well rested Broncos are going to destroy the Ravens at home.  Do you think that old Ravens defense is going to keep it together in the thin air in the 4th quarter today?  Man, I sure don't.  Denver -9.5.  

The Public is all over Green Bay +2.5 over San Francisco today.  This concerns me.  The Public hates to bet underdogs.  They absolutely hate it.  Most people will still argue with you that the Patriots beat "The Greatest Show On Turf" Rams.  They refuse to believe that actually happened.  So if The People are on Green Bay, how can you bet them?  It's especially tough because I agree with the public.  Green Bay looks like the best team in the NFC right now.  Throw into the mix that the Pack has covered 18 of 24 times when they are underdogs, and you have a real quandary.  I am going to descend into the Valley of Death and take Green Bay +2.5, though I already regret it.

I have no idea what is going to happen with the Seattle v Atlanta game.  Nobody else does either.  In just a few short weeks Seattle has become the most feared team in football, though I don't think anyone can tell you more than three of their players names.  They were 6-5 in November, and now they are looked upon like the 1980 Bears.  Things change quickly in life, but sometimes not all is as it appears.  People like to jump into things without thinking them through.  Ready!  Go!  Set!  Seattle can't be stopped!  If I may remind you, the Book on Seattle just a few short weeks ago was "tough at home, can't win on the road".  Let me also remind you Atlanta has won 33 of their last 36 at home.  I'm taking Atlanta -3.

My favorite game this week is the Houston at New England game.  I am going to go hard on the Houston Texans when that line gets to +10.  New England has failed to cover double digit spreads 17 of their last 23 games.  Public perception will be that the asskicking New England handed Houston earlier this year will repeat itself.  This rarely happens in the NFL as teams adjust quickly.  I think that this is a New England win, but not by two scores.  Wait patiently for this line to move to ten, and join me in rolling around in embarrassing amounts of American greenback dollars.  Houston +10.

Current Total Vs Spread:  16-16-1

JOHNNY CASH PROJECT Disc 27 Man In Black leads with a duet with Billy Graham.  This sounds like a bad idea because it is a bad idea.  It's a Johnny Cash song with dropped in Billy Graham spoken word.  Wrap your head around that for a second.  I have a vision of Columbia record executives meeting and plotting on how to get a bigger piece of the religious market.  "These Cash gospel records do OK, but dammit we need to move the needle.  Who do we got?  Can Billy Graham sing?  No?  Sonofabitch...  Well, what if we just drop a fuckin piece of a sermon in there and call it a duet?  He can sell it at his Crusades at twice retail.  We'll clean up!  Get his people on the phone!".  This record is from 1971 and you can hear the influence of folk rock on it as most of the songs are Cash singing over simple picking.  "Man In Black" and "Singing In Viet Nam Talkin Blues" are both great, and left the politicians no doubt that Cash was anti-war.  If you lose the country music audience in a war, it's time to get the troops out of there, no?  There is a certain charm to this release.   Disc 28 A Thing Called Love is a mixed bag.  "Kate" is one of those killer "you-been-a-bad-woman" Cash songs.  "Melva's Wine" is about as groovy a song as he has ever recorded.  I like "Tear Stained Letter" too.  There's some real shit on this as well.  "Daddy" is about a family driving around the country with their alcoholic father who is sure to turn it around this time because of Jesus.  Sing along!  "Arkansas Lovin Man" may have been written on the spot.  "The Miracle Man" is an awful Jesus song.  It seems like there is a real question of direction on this album.  Disc 29 America was a tough listen.  This goes back to the formula of Johnny having spoken word intros into quick 90 second songs.  All the songs are about American history, and it reminded me of sitting Indian style on my mat listening to my second grade teacher Mrs. Jewel put on the school board approved records onto the phonograph brought down by the AV kids.  This would be better than history class when you were nine years old.  This is not something an adult male will ever reach for putting into his disc player.  The Seventies were a strange time.  If you want to hear Johnny Cash read the Gettysburg Address, this is the record for you!  Proving that there is always something of interest on a Cash record, I did add "Big Foot".  Then again, who wouldn't?  Disc 30 The Johnny Cash Family Christmas is about as brutal a listening experience as one could put oneself in on a January evening.  I am sick of Christmas music anyway, but this takes it over the top.  Between all the songs are extended conversations via open mic with Johnny, his band, June, and whatever other hillbillies were in the studio talking about their Christmas memories.  You get to hear about how one guy got a hatchet for Christmas as if that were as normal a gift to give a six year old as a toy truck.  Then June gets brassy on her "Jingle Bells" verse with her throaty "Jaaaaaahhhhingle Bells!".  Lots of chucking at stories from people you don't know that aren't very funny to begin with in the first place.  I did it though.  I got through it.  I will look back on that as A Very Dark Time for me.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Hate The Browns

January 11, 2013

Joe Banner
Cleveland Browns
76 Lou Groza Blvd.
Berea OH  44017

Dear Joe,
  As you can imagine, I was disappointed and rather surprised to see the organization move ahead with a head coaching hire prior to meeting with me.  Although my resume is rather thin in regards to head coaching experience, if you had taken the trouble to meet with me in person, you would have learned that I have led multiple fantasy football teams to championships.  Yes, I realize that changing the occasional player from a roster largely drafted automatically from Yahoo does not necessarily match up with real life experience, but it certainly does show that I am a proven winner.  Ultimately, isn’t that what needs to be brought into the organization?  A winning culture? 
  This turn of events does place me in a precarious situation at work Mr. Banner.  While you made the head coaching hire behind my back, you have left me twisting out in the wind after I have spent the last week bragging to co-workers about my impending interview.   I admit I now regret saying things like “…while you losers are sitting here in your cubicles and I am leading the Browns to victory…” and “I probably won’t ever come in contact with little people like you again after next week”.  This was a tactical error on my part.  It was my mistake.  Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched and so forth… 
  The NFL is a dog eat dog world, there is no doubt.  Now the worm has turned on you my friend.  Unlike your organization, I believe in being upfront in my business dealings.  This is why I am going to let you know in writing, that I have officially “thrown my hat into the ring” for the San Diego Chargers coaching position.  Yes, it appears that you and I have now become adversaries.  I plan on competing hard.  I plan on competing fairly.  But make no mistake, I will be competing.  I plan on leading my new team and crushing the dreams of both you and everyone that works at your second rate football team.  This may put a strain on future dealings between you and I.  However, I hope at the end of the day, you and I will be able to maintain a cordial business relationship.
  Go Bolts,
  Greg Miller   
  P.S.  I'm still planning on that Aladdin's lunch next week.  Let's see if our schedules match up. 

Nurse the Hate: Friday Morning Coffee Shop

The husky balding man labored into the chain coffee shop, his mind on autopilot as he set about his morning routine.  His Chrysler was left running outside.  He was confident it would not be stolen, but secretly hoping it might so he could finally be rid of it.  He obediently joined the line of others joylessly making their way to whatever moderately unpleasant tasks were set ahead of them on this work day.  He ordered what he always did.  The woman behind the register did what she always did, asking him a second time to repeat his order.  This routine played out every weekday morning.  They saw each other every day but neither gave recognition to the other.  He paid and sidestepped his way to the counter, standing with the others waiting for their orders like they were raffle prizes.  He stared at the women working behind the counter, quickly calculating which of the women he would have sex with and the likely scenarios of each.  The woman worker with the long nose, circles under her eyes, and chewed fingernails screamed "double espresso!" almost in his face.  He felt the warm cup in his hand as he carefully worked his way out of the cramped corner.  The other customers face's darkened slightly as they had to move to allow his bulk to pass.  He walked outside to see his Chrysler idling, exhaust drifting from the tailpipe.  Fuck.  It was still there. 

The Johnny Cash Project Disc 19:  From Sea To Shining Sea is another of Johnny's travelogue records, but this time he stays current.  I had read that his contract called for a brutal four full length records a year, so it is sort of amazing that he came up with thematic ideas for these records instead of just putting one single on it and attached all horrible covers.  I mean, this could have been "Surfin' with Johnny Cash" or "Twistin' with Johnny Cash".  At least he does have ideas.  This one is all patriotism and re-doing folk songs into geographic specific songs.  You gotta have a couple good death songs, and this one has "The Walls of the Prison" (set to "The Streets of Laredo" melody) and "Call Daddy From the Mine".  Who doesn't love a good coal mine death song?  That always gets a party going!  The song "Shrimpin' Sailin" is a faux cajun song with a harmonica that is completely and utterly without soul.  When I heard the harmonica come in I thought about when I was in elementary school and this dorky teacher proved to be proficient at the harmonica, but played like Mr. Rogers.  I remember looking at him thinking how he thought he was Little Walter but we thought he was as white bread as possible.  And I was seven!  That memory sends a shiver down my spine even today...  Disc 20 is Live at Folsom Prison which we have discussed, so let's go to Disc 21, The Holy Land.  This was a real chore to get through.  Johnny and June went on vacation to the Greater Nazareth Area and decided to take a tape recorder and describe their trip to you.  I shit you not.  Two thirds of this record must be Johnny talking about places Jesus allegedly was, as well as a crazy story about how he heard that when Jesus was crucified the blood ran down into the ground and Adam's skull came to life.  You hear wind blowing into the mic, people talking in the background, and they even let a tour guide talk for awhile.  It's hard to believe they charged money for this.  It's like you are sitting through a boring vacation slide show at Johnny Cash's house.  Can you imagine if you just got into Johnny Cash with the Live at Folsom record and then bought "his new one" when this came out?  "What the fuck is this?"    This record does have the #1 country single "Daddy Sang Bass"though.  I dare you to get through this.  No, I challenge you...   Disc 22 Live at San Quentin returns to the live prison record formula.   This is really great.  Not as great as Folsom, but still really great.  "A Boy Named Sue" is on this, as well as "Wanted Man".  I'm still not sure why we needed two takes of "San Quentin".  This is an awesome companion piece to Live at Folsom Prison.   Disc 23 Hello, I'm Johnny Cash is a return to the studio.  The recording starts to sound more modern here, and I'm not sure why.  There is more instrumentation, and maybe it's the first Bob Johnston produced studio record.  This is a good one with some Johnny original material mixed with some Kris Kristofferson songs.  "Southwind" is a good train song we should cover.  "If I Were A Carpenter" is pretty charming.   "See Ruby Fall" is nice with that saloon piano.   "Sing A Travelin' Song" is kind of a "Don't Think Twice" ripoff, but anytime Johnny sings "I'm mooooovin on" it's all good.  This is a winner.  Disc 24 The Johnny Cash Show is a live recording of him at the Opry where he has an orchestra, and a lot of spoken word.  It's sort of like that Ride This Train album live with more schmaltz.  The cover of "Sunday Morning Coming Down" is a keeper, but the rest sounds dated.  The sound quality kind of sucks too.  It's really tinny.  This must have been a contract obligation, because it sounds like they took a reference tape and mailed it to Columbia.  It would be a drag to go to a Johnny Cash show and hear him talking about Jesus and singing medleys.  You will note, Rick Rubin did not go in this direction when staging Johnny Cash's "comeback".   Disc 25 The Original Soundtrack to I Walk The Line has the #1 country single "Flesh and Blood"and I like "This Town".  As you would expect, there's plenty of filler here, but it seems like some sort of effort was made to produce some quality songs.  There are clearly some B-sides floating in on this.  I never saw this movie, but on the poster Gregory Peck is shaking the crap out of some actress that obviously wasn't "walking the line".  Disc 26 The Original Soundtrack to Little Fauss and Big Halsey is a clear cash grab.  There's instrumental versions of third rate songs, and even Carl Perkins gets to sing lead on one.  If these guys spent more than an afternoon on this I would be stunned.  I did add "Battle of Little Fauss and Big Halsey" onto my itunes because it was so bad it was kind of great.  It looks like the movie was about guys that raced motorcycles, and a young Robert Redford took his shirt off a lot.  I've seen a lot of shitty motorcycle movies, but I don't know this one.  I'm going to think of it as a bad "Dirty Mary & Crazy Larry" until I am proved otherwise.  I can't imagine anyone currently owns this record, and if they do I can't come up with a scenario in which they ever played it more than once.        

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Nurse the Hate: The Appalachian Punk Rock Hobo Hipster

I saw another one today.  The Punk Rock Appalachian Hobo look has migrated to NE Ohio is all of its glory.  I saw the guy when I worked out today.  Allow me to say that it is tough to look 1934 when you are in mesh shorts, Nikes, and a Cleveland State t-shirt.  The good news was his haircut and mustache still looked resplendent.  He was a real Dapper Dan man, his mustache carefully coiffed.  I’m confident his Model T was parked outside.  After his run, he may have gone home and listened to some Reverend F.W. McGee 78s.  That “Fifty Miles of Elbow Room” really cooks! 

I don’t understand where this Depression Era look is coming from.  I have a theory though.  I think we can all agree that “the ironic mustache” has been on the scene much longer than any of us anticipated.  I saw an entire army of Ironic Mustaches in Austin at SXSW.  It’s got to be a drag to be The Cool Guy in your local scene with your ironic mustache and white sunglasses, hop in the van to go to SXSW where you anticipate being The Cool Guy there, and discover that everyone there looks exactly like you do.  My guess is that a lot of guys asked each other how long they had been in possession of their ironic mustache, and then argued about who the first one was “on the scene” with this special facial hair.  A lot of fellas would have realized they were late to the party, and the party was much bigger than any of them had anticipated.  That would have been a moment of real soul searching for many hipster dudes. 

I believe that many of these same men went back to their respective homes and plotted on their next fashion turn.  Obviously much effort had been placed into looking like no effort had been placed into their existing mustaches.  The only way to go would be to boomerang in the opposite direction, and take great obvious care and pride in the mustache.  Next thing you know you’re watching an episode of “Boardwalk Empire” or maybe checking out a Mumford and Sons photo in Rolling Stone.  Bingo.  You are back in business. 

Roots and retro music guys have always loved to be exclusionary.  Rockabilly guys get pissed if you don’t have a pomp, upright bass, and a flaming eight ball tattoo.  Americana guys like John Deere hats and beards.  Garage rock gets angry if your gear isn’t retro and you are in the wrong jacket.  Bluegrass has so many rules you need to read a book just to understand why the band you like that appeared to be playing bluegrass in fact “isn’t really playing bluegrass”.  To create a hard to pinpoint subgenre where you have to be heavily tattooed, play acoustic instruments and look vaguely like Les Claypool in 1928 is about as exclusionary as you can get.  Get five of you together to start busking in tourist areas, and you are totally in business.  Gentlemen, I salute you. 

The problem with this subgenre will obviously be the graceful exit from the scene.  Let’s be honest.  At some point you are going to get sick of living in a one room apartment with four other dudes, their thrift store wardrobes, the two communal dogs, and the three crab ridden girls that smell like mold and patchouli.  There you are with banjo skills, a Sailor Jerry looking pinup tattoo on your neck, and maybe an antique pickup truck.  There’s plenty of rebuilding to be done from that point, and none of that rebuilding will include the phrase “high paying job”.  It may include “working for my Dad” or “bartending school” though. 

It’s very confusing how this will all play out.  Most people under the age of 30 have no interest our band, and we are a pretty easy entry into American roots.  I have a hard time believing that Carter Family records are going to shoot up the charts.  Is that kid I see at the intersection wearing the dungarees perched impossibly below his ass going to reject the musical catalogue of Pitbull and embrace the Monroe Brothers?  I don’t think so, but then again I have been wrong many times in the past.  Just to be safe, anyone have a mandolin for sale?  And mustache wax?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Nurse the Hate: My New Job

  The Cleveland Browns were chasing three different head coaches who all ignored their attempts to bring them into the fold.  Suddenly the team has to go to Plan B (or in actuality Plan E).  This really seems like an opportunity for me to finally land that NFL coaching gig I have been keeping on the back burner all these years.  Today I knocked out a letter and attached my resume to set up my interview.  I'll keep you in the loop as this process advances.  I think I have a real shot at this thing. 


Joe Banner
Cleveland Browns
76 Lou Groza Blvd.
Berea OH  44017

Dear Joe,

  It has recently come to my attention that you have a position available as the head coach of your professional football organization, and I would like to formally “throw my hat into the ring” for your consideration.  I realize that I may be off the radar in comparison to many of the candidates currently in your crosshairs, but let me assure you that I will bring to the organization a unique mix of talents not available in the other candidates.

  I will be candid with you in that I have no coaching experience of any kind.  None.  I have not even stood on the sideline of a Pee-Wee football game in any sort of official capacity.  I have however been watching NFL Football my entire life and recognize that the role of the NFL coach has become less about “Xs and Os” and more about shouldering the media burden, and keeping the largely unstable employees focused and on point.  Let’s let the coordinators do what they should be doing, coming up with reasonable ways to win football games.  I will instill in the players a sense of urgency with my signature “Unstable Stalin” management style, and provide the national media a steady stream of memorable press conferences.

  I have lived in the area for two decades and witnessed approximately 17 rebuilding efforts.  I used to have season tickets until it became apparent that it was a complete waste of time and money to drive downtown and watch the team get pasted in the rain.  I probably lost interest in being seated near profanity screaming cretins that stunk of vomit and urine too.  That’s not to say I have lost my zest for the NFL game!  No sir, I follow this television programming with great interest and a critical eye.  The League has changed.  I believe we need to embrace a new model for success…

  The team isn’t going to win now.  We both know this.  The Browns need a QB, and it doesn’t look like one is available.  These are hard times.  The team has been such a disaster, it must be almost impossible to get free agents here.  How much money does it take for a premium player to agree to disappear into NFL Siberia?  More than “we” want to pay I will bet.  The Browns are so far off the national radar and have been so uninteresting, what are you going to do to make the team compelling?  It’s time to think out of the box…  Hire a complete local amateur like myself as coach (on the cheap I may add), surround him with highly paid qualified assistants, and let me handle the media.  I will speak with disarming frankness about the team and the games.  I will be interesting.  I will be unpredictable.  I will be calculating. 

Please note, we’ll still probably go 5-11 or 4-12, but at least the public will be engaged and we’ll sell some merchandise.  We will embrace the Working Class roots of Cleveland, sell the idea of The American Dream, and be the hot topic on ESPN and national talk radio all season.  We’ll make the Cowboys as relevant as Alcorn State.  Tebow who?  When you see me relaxing comfortably on the couch next to David Letterman trading wisecracks while dressed in a crazy Browns military style outfit as if Muammar Khadafi was the coach, you will see a guy selling the organization to a jaded fan base that wants to root for something.         

  I realize that this might sound crazy.  I know you just got this job and you probably are hesitant about the backlash of hiring someone as woefully underqualified as I am on the surface.  Certainly this move could backfire horribly and leave you and myself as complete laughingstocks.  We may even be tar and feathered prior to the first regular season game.  Yet, I ask you, if it is impossible to win their game, why don’t we make them play our game? 

  Before hiring one of those retread guys out there, let’s get together and discuss a new vision for the future.  I can’t be any worse than what’s been on the sideline, and it will probably be a lot of fun.  Hell, I can get you to 4-12 standing on the sideline staring at a laminated sheet of paper.  The good news is maybe I will be in an Uncle Sam outfit on stilts while doing it.  Maybe I drop into the stadium via parachute.  I know when to call timeouts and throw that red challenge flag.  I’ll let those well paid coordinators call the plays and defenses.  I’ll throw in my two cents on the draft and keep people in line.  I can do this.

  I’ll call you to set up a lunch.  I know you haven’t been in town long.  You ever go to Alladin’s up the street?  I’m a big fan of that chicken Dijon rolled!


Greg Miller