Tuesday, October 31, 2017

I Love This Guy!

This Book Has Balls: Sports Rants from the MVP of Talking Trash – Michael Rapaport – (Touchstone Books)

I am confident enough in my manhood to say up front that I love this guy! Actor, director, podcaster, and all around, Renaissance man Michael Rapaport is the fulfillment of a vision I feel like I had a dozen years ago when I ran a sports talk station and tried to coach young broadcasters to move beyond the weasel stereotype of “have a take, don’t suck” bullshit espoused wannabe Jim Rome clones.

Rapaport is that guy, you know the guy…that guy who sits at the end of the bar watching the game and he drives you crazy cause he is ALWAYS talking shit! He talks up a storm and then, out of nowhere he drops a bomb; totally unexpected, but damn if he isn’t right on. Rapaport is THAT guy! Not only does he give killer take, he is absolutely one funny motherfucker…we won’t hold it against him that he’s a Knicks fan, he came by that seemingly from birth and he knows that Earl “The Pearl” is the man.

Rapaport hits the sports talk/writing sweet spot, in his publishing debut, This Book Has Balls: Sports Rants from the MVP of Talking Trash, not falling off the deep end with stat upon stat or silly fanboy name dropping; oh and doesn’t hurt to remember what your dick is for (the Mary Lou Retton crush is good stuff) without being a dick. Although I’m not sure I’m buying what he’s selling on the Tiger Woods front.

The home run for me was Rapaport’s reasoning on exactly why LeBron James will never be like Mike! In point of fact…23 reasons why! When I was coaching the kid broadcasters I used to always ask the question, “what are you passionate about?” I don’t need to ask Rapaport, his passion, knowledge and humor drip from the pages of This Book Has Balls, you won’t be able to miss that as you read.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Man Who Killed Rock ‘n’ Roll

Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine – Joe Hagan – (Knopf )

Even a quick glance at the laundry list of folks who have been subjects of author Joe Hagan’s lengthy profiles in publications ranging from New York to Wall Street Journal and even Rolling Stone Magazine reveal something noteworthy when you consider he was selected to piece together a biography of Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner; his focus has primarily been on newsmakers like Hilary Clinton, Karl Rove and Henry Kissinger, rather than rock ‘n’ roll artists.

Hagan was given access to a rather prolific and wide ranging collection of the bits and pieces, contained in boxes and boxes that make up the life of Wenner and his creation, Rolling Stone Magazine. The “man” Hagan describes as he moves through the schizophrenic story is arrogant and self-centered to a fault and was that way from the start; he established his arrogance, well in advance of establishing his publication.

While it may not have been Hagan’s intention, Wenner comes off like a 20-something who all too often acts like a 13 year old. Clearly Wenner had a range of aspirations; he wanted to be at the forefront of a revolution in an era, the 60s, where revolution was ripe, but couldn’t manage to get over his desire to be a rock star with all of the inherent trappings, and to get there he needed commercial success, which flies contrary to the revolution.

Wenner’s self-involvement paints him as a clueless moron and would have most thinking that any success Rolling Stone has enjoyed was in spite of Wenner rather than because of him. His one and only talent may have been to convince others to give him handouts to keep the ship afloat.

Hagan tries to portray Rolling Stone/Wenner’s decision to give in depth, hard hitting coverage of the events at Altamont as somehow a courageous decision in the face of Wenner’s relationship/friendship with Mick Jagger. In reality, it took ZERO courage; any one with even a speck of integrity would have realized the importance of those events and the cultural impact. The fact that there was any need for a decision at all, speaks volumes about Wenner and his rag.

While Wenner sired and squired a generation of rock stars, he ultimately has become utterly forgettable – proof that fame in the end is fleeting for most, while many of those he created or glorified remain in the spotlight however dimmed. Wenner is left to oversee the fire sale of Rolling Stone Magazine; once the arbiter of pop culture it has become less than a shadow of its former self. 

The magazine and Wenner for that matter have become mired in a never ending attempt to move the counter culture to the mainstream only to fail miserably.

That it continues to live on, on life support is more of a tribute to its past than any semblance of its current. Think about it; what was the the last truly memorable/impactful Rolling Stone cover? The John Lennon/Yoko Ono cover from January of 1981?

Based on the meandering storyline that ping pongs around on the page and the timeline, clearly Hagan was overwhelmed by the challenge of trying to wrangle a mountain of tidbits from Wenner’s personal collection, dozens of personal interviews and what would have to be fading and drug hazed memories of those involved. The fact that even people described as “friends” of Wenner’s generally dislike the man just contributes to the fact that when it comes to the man who almost singlehandedly is killing rock ‘n’ roll through his involvement with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, is more often than not despised.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Hollow Life

F*cked: Being Sexually Explorative and Self-Confident in a World That’s Screwed – Krystyna Hutchinson and Corrinne Fisher (Harper One)

Let me be perfectly clear up front, I am probably not in the intended demographic for readers of this book for a couple of easy reasons; I am father of a daughter in her late teens and too old that this stuff concerns me. Oh and you can probably add to the fact that I really have no tolerance for people who are offended by everything because they look for things to offend them and if you’re triggered, whatever the hell that is, I probably wouldn’t piss on you, if you were on fire.

So these young “ladies” are the creators/hosts of the alleged to be “wildly popular” Guys We Fucked: The Anti-Slut Shaming Podcast, where they interview, yep you guessed it, guys they fucked. Which leads me to wonder if this is a show with a planned end date or if these girls are keeping themselves busy and don’t have much spare time?

As to the book, it seems to be a collection of, while I won’t go as grandiose calling them essays, as much a gathering of passing thoughts or stuff from the podcast, written down. They come off as a pair of millennials who are trying ever so desperately to justify and seek approval for the choices they made/make, by trying to convince others to join them in those choices.

I can see why other millenials would think that this drivel is somehow edgy of taboo-busting, but it ends up just another puzzle piece in the growing minefield of trying to “normalize” behavioral choices. While some allege this to be funny, I find it oddly sad and hollow. Given today’s headlines…I wonder if Harvey Weinstein could make the claim he was merely trying to be “explorative”.