Saturday, January 17, 2009

Another Bizarre Concert Experience

Last summer, I had the privilege of witnessing a hilarious but sad musical fiasco when I went to see the 80's hard rock bands Great White and Warrant. Jani Lane, the past star of VH1's Celebrity Fit Club and several stints in rehab, had reunited with Warrant and promptly celebrated by showing up drunk off his ass...even by 80's hard rock standards. He warbled through the lyrics in humiliating fashion as the band went through their entire set. This of course resulted in a full refund for everyone.

I didn't think that experience could be topped, but tonight's festivities at Santa Fe Station Casino may have done the job. Another chapter out of the book of Jeremy's peculiar musical tastes...I went to see Enuff Z'Nuff. They had a couple semi-hits on MTV back in the day, but never really struck it big. I actually think they have a really impressive catalog of songs considering the lack of attention they received from commercial radio. I have seen them twice before and they put on a great show. This time, their original lead singer, Donnie Vie...another one who has had his tug of war with illicit substances...was back in tow. So I was excited to be able to see him live. The band got off to an auspicious start...sounded good. They played about five songs...the fifth being their first semi-hit, "New Thing." As soon as this song was done, band leader and bassist, Chip Z'Nuff promptly dumped his bass against an amp and headed off stage. A seemingly bewildered (and likely stoned) Vie was like, "Hey leavin?" Followed by, "What are you doin man? You leavin? We gotta play Fly High," referring to their "biggest" hit, "Fly High Michelle." Z'Nuff was unfazed by the remarks and disappeared behind the curtain. The drummer followed suit, leaving Vie and the lead guitarist alone on stage.

Vie made the obvious move and picked up the bass. This was surely going to be entertaining. He and the guitarist jumped into what was probably a new tune, as I did not recognize it, sans drummer, and with Vie stumbling somewhat aptly through the bass part. Sounded OK. Then as they attempted to launch into the aforementioned "Fly High Michelle," Vie apparently decided he couldn't hack it on bass any longer, switching instruments with the lone remaining band member.

Suddenly, a random audience member starts waving his hands and shouting, "Hey, do you need a drummer??!!" Apparently, someone beat him to it, as another gentlemen emerged from the crowd, as Vie declared, "OK, Mark knows this one," implying this was an acquaintance of the band or something like that. Mark hopped on stage and took over drumming duties as the opening chords of the apparent show closer emanated from Vie's guitar. The other drumming hopeful still waving his hands, miffed at missing his one shot at "fame." OK, so now two more problems. 1) The "real" drummer had walked off with one of the drumsticks, leaving Mark to beat the skins with the remaining stick and...his other hand (somewhere Rick Allen is laughing his balls off), and 2) The chorus' title lyrical phrase, "Fly High Michelle" is supposed to be sung by the backing vocalist...namely, Chip Z'Nuff. All said, the makeshift band did an OK job. Mark, the newly christened drummer, was having so much fun, that he was swigging from a flask in between drum beats.

While they're muddling through the tune, the wannabe drummer guy from the audience had creeped up the side ramp to the back of the stage and was "helping out" by searching for the missing drum accessory. A crew member finally poked his head from behind the curtain with the stick, handing it to Mark, who happily continued drumming with a full set of equipment. But the little drummer boy from the audience (who was actually a stocky, 40-something guy), remained at the back of the stage the entire time.

After "Michelle" was done, I guess Vie felt it necessary to go out with a bang, suddenly whaling away on the guitar with a familiar riff. He sang the beginning lines of 60's rock staple, "Wild Thing," although who can be sure if he was singing the actual words or just making it up as he went along. About a minute and a half into that opus, they finished up and Vie put the guitar down, flipped his pick into the air and bolted off stage. Mark the drummer also exited, leaving the lead guitarist-cum-bassist as the last one standing. He flicked off the amp and probably ran home screaming to his Mom.

Then, in what under the circumstances, can only be described as a fitting ending to this blistering set, little drummer boy from the audience, STILL waiting hopefully for his break, heaved his middle-aged ass onto the drummer's stool and began ripping away. Shouting to the crowd, "Thank you very much!" and "How about a hand for Enuff Z'Nuff?" as he enjoyed his Playstation moment in the sun for about a minute. As some crew members emerged, he thought better of continuing and disappeared back into the crowd...leaving the rest of us to soak up the shock and awe of another stunning 80's metal opening act.

Only in Vegas, folks.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I just heard that the Obama camp has spent $94 million dollars on the upcoming inaugural festivities. To say that was an eye-opening total is an understatement. Is anyone in Washington aware of what's going on in this country right now? I'm sorry...I don't care who's been elected or what party they're from. This is just downright irresponsible. Like I give a shit how many fancy, celebrity-laden parties there are? Can't we trim back just a little bit on all the glitz and glamour in recognition of the fact that many people don't have anywhere to live right now and don't know where their next meal is coming from? The bulk of the money is apparently privately funded, with only the security bill being funded by the taxpayers. This is all well and good, but the fact remains, they could have taken this money and donated it to people who really need it. This doesn't make me extremely confident about how in touch the incoming administration is with the needs of this country.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Today, I Am The Greatest...

...or so Rickey Henderson proclaimed the day he broke Lou Brock's record for career stolen bases. Or something along those lines. Neither modesty nor public speaking are among Henderson's strong points. But one thing is for sure; he is one of the greatest baseball players ever.

Each winter, the baseball writers association votes on which of the greatest past players deserve to be enshrined in the sport's hall of fame. The voting process is questionable to say the least. Each 10-year member of the association is eligible to vote, this year resulting in 539 ballots to be cast. Each ballot can be submitted with up to 10 players included...there is no ranking or weighting. A player must be named on 75% or more of the ballots cast in order to be inducted (so 405 this year). Players are eligible after they have been out of baseball for 5 years. Rickey Henderson flew into the Hall with 94.8% of the vote in his first year of eligibility. Amazing, right? Not when you consider that 28 people did not feel that Henderson was worthy of the honor. Begging the question...what in the name of holy fuck do you have to do to be worthy? Everyone will rattle off RH's incredible stats...most pointing to his ungodly stolen base totals and the fact that he was the greatest leadoff hitter ever. But you really only need to look at one statistic...Rickey Henderson scored the most runs...EVER. Nobody in the nearly 140-year history of major league baseball has ever crossed home plate more times than Rickey Henderson. If THAT person doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame, then you may as well shutter the doors of the facility and auction all the memoribilia off on eBay. I argue that RBI's and Runs are the two most critical offensive stats in the game. Every other number merely represents how a particular player arrived at accumulating their totals in those two categories. Stolen bases are great, but alone do nothing. They simply make it more likely for more runs to be scored. The WHOLE POINT OF THE GAME is to score runs. So the guy who did this the most times in history does not get voted into the Hall of Fame unanimously?

The truth is there has never been a unanimous induction. Quite ridiculous, since we know there have been several players who should have been named on 100% of the ballots. This year's crop of eligible players was the smallest in history...23. And there were probably about 10 players whom you could argue don't deserve a single vote, or even to be on the ballot at all. So that leaves only 3 slots that the writers should have to debate about in their minds. Henderson is not one of them. Whoever voted for Jesse Orosco or Jay Bell should be banished to Siberia.