QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I love ‘Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.’ And I was more concerned for Triumph’s well-being. If Eminem wants to pick on someone, fine, pick on me, but don’t diss the dog-puppet. Triumph the dog-puppet is my hero. That’s the sole reason that I went to the [awards show] . . . I love that little dog-puppet.” -Moby, after Eminem’s squad of goons threatened both him and the famed sock puppet, at the Video Music Awards.
GAME ON!!!: Finally… the subject I have written about more than any other since the inception of this blog has been resolved. After a marathon negotiating session which lasted for nearly 24 hours, the baseball players and owners have agreed on a four-year Collective Bargaining Agreement that will avert the threatened baseball strike. Whether the agreement will accomplish its stated purpose of restoring competetive balance to the game remains to be seen, but what is undisputed is that all the darkness that has plagued the game off the field in the past few years can now be swept away, and the game will finally return to the center stage, where it belongs.
I was glued to the television until I fell asleep at 3 AM last night, and throughout the night I awoke at least once per hour in order to turn on the TV and hear ESPN’s Jayson Stark speak the ugly words “no deal yet.” The same held once I woke up in the morning, though while listening to WFAN on the way to work, I heard a caller eloquently speak about how he had lost two relatives on September 11, and the only thing that had kept him going was knowing that he could still watch the Yankees every night. I flipped on the radio again at 12:30 to hear the wonderful news that a deal had been reached.
As a baseball fan, I am thrilled by the day’s events. And as a Minnesota Twins fan, I’m absolutely ecstatic. Sometime next week we will get to enjoy the great, great sight of the Twins clinching their first division championship since 1991, followed by a sure-to-be-exciting playoff run. (And even if the Twins don’t advance to the World Series, perhaps the equally small-market Oakland A’s will). The increased revenue sharing can only help the team in the future, and the lack of a strike, coupled with that playoff run, also increases the likelihood of a new Minnesota stadium. And last but not least, the agreement states that contraction cannot happen before 2006. So now that threat is gone as well; guess that proves that Bud Selig was bluffing all along.
Let’s hope Bud sees this agreement, the first ever negotiated without a work stoppage, as a suitable legacy and therefore decides to resign as baseball commissioner immediately. Then, our glorious day will be complete.
DON’T SHOW THE KIDS: Next time someone asks me why, as a generally liberal person, I am a supporter of Israel, I’ll tell them about this: Something called the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate is demanding that international photographers refrain from photographing Palestinian children carrying weapons and participating in terrorist operations, because such photographs harm the Palestinian cause and “violate the rights of children.”
Isn’t that precious? The Palestinians have parades in which they dress their preschool-aged children as suicide bombers, and send their teenagers to blow up restaurants and cafes, and when Western (as well as Palestinian) journalists expose such savagery they’re the ones “violating the rights of children”? Then again, it’s hard to take a Journalists Syndicate seriously when it comes from a non-democratic non-country in which the government wishes to control all press, as well as all thought.
MTV AWARDS BOTH SLIM, SHADY: That was the headline I came up with for my college paper’s review of the 1999 Video Music Awards- and whaddya know, the same applies to the ’02 version as well.
The show began with a performance by Bruce Springsteen and ended with the “triumphant” return of Guns ‘n’ Roses, so in that sense it looked no different from the 1987 VMAs. But unfortunately the rest of the show was overly saturated with the likes of Justin Timberlake, P.O.D., P. Diddy, Linkin Park, Jennifer Lopez, and the sorry trio of Ja Rule, Nas, and Ashanti. We were treated to an entertaining “Battle of the Bands” between the Hives and the Vines (Hives win, hands down), host Jimmy Fallon did the best he could with less-than-brilliant material, and (best of all) Fred Durst was not in the building. But there’s just no excuse that in a year in which we saw the debuts of The Strokes, The White Stripes, Norah Jones, John Mayer, and numerous neo-soul figures, the Best New Artist award goes to… Avril Lavigne?
Eminem, as usual, was the evening’s big winner, and as he is currently the most important artist in all of popular music and his “Without Me” video was expertly made, I can’t say he didn’t deserve it. I also liked Em’s performance on the telecast (in which he sang “White America” in what appeared to be a State of the Union address-based set), although he gave up some points by simultaneously insulting both Moby and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. I can’t wait for the inevitable anti-Triumph dis on the next Slim Shady album.
G’n’R’s return was a nice surprise, and while they didn’t sound bad, the question of whether the band that took the stage tonight can accurately be called “Guns ‘n’ Roses” is questionable at best, as Axl was the lone original member on stage (Rose did try make up for this, however, as he is now roughly the size of two 1987 Axl Roses).
PS: No reference was made on the telecast to the Ludacris/Bill O’Reilly controversy, although Luda was in attendance, and at one point his likeness appeared in two consecutive commercials (one a spot for the upcoming “Real World Las Vegas,” and the second for the upcoming Tom Green movie “Stealing Harvard” in which his song “Rollout” was used). And when the show returned from commercial break, the intro music was another Ludacris rap, “Move.” I’m looking forward to Bill O’Reilly’s upcoming boycotts of MTV, the Las Vegas tourism board, Radio City Music Hall, Fox Searchlight Pictures, and Harvard University.
COUNTDOWN TO EXTINCTION: It’s 1:45 AM at this writing, and players and owners are still negotiating in New York to attempt to avoid a baseball work stoppage. I had originally planned to stay up until a deal was either reached or a strike declared, but now that they’re saying talks could go ’til morning, I may give up on that by 2. This has the feeling right now of a presidential election, in which it may take until the wee hours of morning before we know the results. But more ominously, the last time I sat rapt in such suspense over a negotiation between historical enemies, it was 2000’s Camp David summit between Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat, and we all know how that one turned out. Let’s hope Bud Selig doesn’t walk away from a sweetheart deal and later encourage the owners to blow themselves up. Though on second thought, perhaps, let’s hope he does.
A PREDICTION: The baseball labor negotiations will go into the wee wee hours of Thursday night, but ultimately an agreement will be reached and a strike averted. I could be wrong, but I really really hope not.
LUDACRIS LOSES PEPSI’S BIZ-NASS: I thought that anti-Ashanti petition story was odd enough, but now we have this: the rapper Ludacris has been dismissed from his endorsement deal with Pepsi after numerous complaints from consumers who were angry about his lyrical content. The complaints were a direct outgrowth of a campaign by Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, who argued on his show early this week that Ludacris’ song “Area Codes” is immoral and sexist because of its depiction of women as “ho’s,” as in, “I’ve got ho’s in different Area Codes.” O’Reilly then told his viewers to call Pepsi and complain and like the ignorant sheep they are, they went ahead and did just that.
The Ludacris ads, which of course contained no objectionable language or content whatsoever, were part of an initative to further market Pepsi (specifically its new product, Pepsi Blue) to African-Americans; other ads feature the comic Bernie Mac. So a campaign to use black artists to market a product to black consumers has be interrupted and scrapped because Bill O’Reilly and his army of reactionary white people don’t like it? I watched O’Reilly on an almost daily basis for two years, and he has proven (among other things) to have no grasp whatsoever of popular culture, as well as a consistant and disturbing disdain for black people. And it’s nice that he’s concerned that Ludacris is disrespecting women- so now O’Reilly is a feminist all of a sudden?
If O’Reilly knew a thing about any pop culture produced after 1962, he’d know that Ludacris is one of the most talented young artists (let alone rappers) out there today- his lyrics and delivery are especially sharp, and the song O’Reilly decided to rip on, “Area Codes,” may very well have been the best single released by anyone in 2001. No less an authority than Bruce Springsteen recently told Rolling Stone that Luda is his “favorite new rapper,” and even PTI co-host Tony Kornheiser (himself as much as an old fogey as O’Reilly) has said on more than one occasion that he’s a fan.
As Bob Dylan said, “don’t criticize what you can’t understand.” Do you think Bill O’Reilly has ever heard a single song by Ludacris? Have any of his viewers who called Pepsi to compain ever listened to rap in their lives? I’d rate the likelihood of either of those at somewhere between “probably not” and “not fucking likely.”
ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER KIDNAPPING: Anyone who’s been watching the news at all this summer can tell you that it seems like more little girls are getting kidnapped and/or killed than ever before. Seems like every day there’s another girl (and the occasional boy) missing somewhere in the country, and each cable news channel spends hours of programming following every single little facet of the case.
Only the truth is, just like last summer’s “spate” of shark attacks, there aren’t really any more kidnappings happening this year than any other year. What’s really going on is that it’s a slow news summer, as the War on Terror is no longer producing major news every day, the attack on Iraq is still months away, there’s no one story with anywhere near the intrigue of last summer’s Chandra Levy case.
So the networks have all made the conscious decision to abandon their long-held policy of only following child kidnapping cases in which the child is white, female, blond, and beautiful, and has decided to begin covering cases involving victims of other demographic backgrounds as well. At the beginning of the summer the shameful coverage of the Elizabeth Smart case was a virtual repeat of that of the Jon-Benet Ramsey murder, in which the media more or less took for granted that the greatest tragedy was that the victim was so cute.
The bad publicity has led the newspeople to adjust their thinking in the matter, and the upshot of that is that awareness is spread about specific missing children, leading to a greater likelihood that they’ll be found. Though it’s not as though the networks are operating from any humanitarian perspective; in reality, kidnapped children = ratings!
HOMELESS MAN STORY: There’s a new blog that I’ve added to my links section, written by a Mr. Kevin Barbieux of Nashville, Tennessee. The twist? He’s homeless, and blogs entirely from public libraries. Though oddly enough, he’s smarter than about half the bloggers out there. Things that make you go hmmm…..