Sunday, June 28, 2009

Off the Wall

It's the title of Michael Jackson's 1979 solo album. It could also be used to describe his behavior and lifestyle from that point on. Or to describe the level of journalistic responsibility displayed by the media in reporting on his death. Or, simply to describe the fact that his father, Joe, has seemingly gotten a free pass on the suspected abuse he inflicted upon his kids. There have been some details over the years of how he whipped the boys, with Joe even admitting it himself. But, I have a feeling the truth goes way deeper than a leather belt. You don't turn into what Michael Jackson did without some pretty dark demons lurking in the shadows. Of course, Joe Jackson can't be held solely responsible...legions of golddiggers and power-hungry leeches throughout the entertainment industry hitched their wagons to Jackson's star and undoubtedly manipulated him, all while the mounting fame and untenable media exposure probably had a crushing effect on someone who was likely a fragile individual to begin with. Not to say that he was completely defenseless, but I don't think anyone can truly understand the world this guy lived in. He was quite bizarre, but also many of the "wacko" stories were fabricated and leaked to the media by Jackson himself. And were the sexual abuse allegations true? We'll likely never know for sure. Would it be surprising to learn that Jackson inflicted abuse on a child, given his own history? No need to recite the textbook cycles of abuse. But, as during his lifetime, the media continues its gross irresponsibility in reporting on the death of the King of Pop. You can see the reporters salivating at the thought that there may be some nefarious activity surrounding the circumstances of his death. Oh my God...what drugs was he taking? Did the doctor inject him? How much was in his system when he died? How many millions of dollars did he owe? Except they don't phrase them as questions...they purport that it's already a forgone conclusion that all kinds of crazy stuff was going on. How about reporting on the one thing that has been glossed over? The hideous nature of Joe Jackson. Time to stop portraying him as a sweet old man and expose him for the lecherous beast that he was and is. One only need to listen to the recording of this past weekend's phone interview with Geraldo Rivera to see the truth. All Joe Jackson could say was that the world had lost its biggest superstar, and that he would be bigger in death than in life. Not one word about missing his son. That's all Michael was to this man: a to which this beast hitched his wagon of failed and unfulfilled personal dreams. One that undoubtedly provided him with a lifestyle he (Joe) didn't deserve.

I've never been the hugest Michael Jackson fan. I'm probably one of five people in the world who has never purchased a single Jackson song. But his legacy is part of many of our childhoods. And the guy contributed more to charity and social causes than probably anyone else in history. Yeah, he was bizarre, but with what he endured, it's incredible that he was simply weird and not dead much, much earlier. Instead, he managed to accomplish the incredible, despite everything that came along with it.


Monday, June 15, 2009

The End of an Era in Music

The last Virgin Megastores in the United States have now closed. With them, and the recent shuttering of the remaining Tower Records' stores, goes a piece of our youth. It represents an unbelievably unceremonious end of an era in the music business. As someone who is just entering the industry, the landmark occasion, if you can call it that, carries a heavy significance. My early adolescence through my early adulthood was marked by frequent trips to the record store...The Wiz, Tower Records, Coconuts, and later on...Virgin. As I developed a stronger interest in music, and more importantly, the ability to drive, these trips became part of my weekly routine. Other kids were playing sports or whaling away on a Nintendo controller...I was at the record store...especially after the advent of the in-store listening station. What a could listen to the entire album BEFORE you bought it! I don't know if the digital revolution represents progress or not, but ITunes and others should wake up - the thirty-second sample does me absolutely no good whatsoever. Nothing will replace the experience of spending a couple hours in the record store, meticulously calculating what my next incredible music purchase would be. At one time, my dream was to open my own record store. In crafting that fantasy, I tried to think ahead of the curve; to figure out how I would make my store bigger and better than any that had come before. Little could I know then that it was a pointless endeavor. I was chasing a dinosaur, an old relic, a memory of an era near its end. Oh well...guess I'll dream in digital now.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

MLB Draft

Stephen Strasburg is projected to be the #1 draft pick in the upcoming Major League Baseball amateur draft. He's already being proclaimed one of the hardest-throwing pitchers ever, has been linked to psycho-agent, Scott Boras, and is expected to be asking somewhere around $50 million to sign with whichever team takes him (presumably the Nationals). This is all before ever having thrown a pitch in the minor leagues, much less the majors. I sincerely hope the Nationals pay the $50 million. I also hope the franchise collapses within the next 5 years, while Strasburg watches from home, his blown out arm now useless for any professional-level sport. No, I don't really wish that fate on Strasburg or anyone else. But something has got to happen to give MLB a severe wake-up call. Has anyone bothered to check the history of first-round pitchers in the draft? Sure, there are the occasional gems like Roy Halladay. And young guys like David Price and Luke Hochevar still have a chance to turn in stellar careers. But anyone know where Bryan Bullington is? Mark Prior? How about the other 3 pitchers who went in the Top 5 of the 2002 draft along with Bullington - Chris Gruler, Adam Loewen and Clint Everts? All future hall of famers, right? I'd venture a guess that the majority of pitchers who go on to lengthy MLB careers are picked in the middle of the draft. Jake Peavy - 15th round. Roy Oswalt - 23rd round. Andy Pettitte - 22nd round. John Smoltz - 22nd round. Johan Santana wasn't even in the regular draft. He was signed by the Astros as an undrafted free agent. The fact of the matter is, pitching is too unpredictable of a position to risk anything close to $50 million on one college player. Throwing hard does not, by itself, punch your ticket to the hall of fame. In fact, it can often be the downfall that prevents many talented kids from ever throwing a pitch in the major leagues. The injury risk with pitchers is too great to be able to tell in advance who is going to make it. The body motion required to be a pitcher in baseball runs is simply unnatural and puts undue pressure on the muscular and skeletal framework of the arm. Go out and try whipping your arm in that motion 90-100 times in a row over a 3-hour period every 5 days for an extended period of time and see what kind of condition you're in. All the physical conditioning in the world can't always offset the longterm effects of the torture these kids inflict on their arms.

So I really wish the best of luck to Strasburg. But if I were the President of a major league ballclub, I would never ever choose a pitcher with my first-round draft pick.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The birth of a company

ProGenitor Entertainment Network is officially up and running. As I attempt to launch my own business, after years of apprehension and excuses, I pause to reflect upon the meaning of life. No, actually, the pause is just me holding my breath as I dive headfirst into this pitch black ocean and hope I know what the hell I'm doing!

I wish I could just skip to the good part and start promoting my sister's CD already. The sneak listen of the halfway produced versions of the three songs have given cause for excitement. But all the annoying setup stuff that has to take place beforehand - dealing with lawyers, Quickbooks, my new and frustrating laptop, applying for business licenses, being bled dry of investment dollars - that stuff, I could do without.

Hopefully, next year at this time, some good shit will have happened.

The A-Hole Gene

Another biological mystery for our world's most accomplished scientists and researchers to unravel. If they can decode the human genome, maybe they can determine what causes people to be A-Holes. I feel lucky not to have been cursed with the gene that causes this affliction. Unfortunately, this is an insidious disease that wreaks havoc on others' lives.

Say, for instance, you are a tenant living in a house owned by someone else. Say that you have paid your rent on time for 3+ years, kept the place in great condition and generally have caused no headaches for your landlord. Then, without warning, the A-Hole gene kicks in. You fall behind on rent by almost two months. Then, after several months of your landlord trying to work with you, you decide to break your lease and move back to A-Hole-ville...I mean, California. You give your landlord 5 days notice, and set a day/time for him to come and inspect the condition of the house and collect keys/garage remotes/back rent from you. And finally, to cap off months of A-Holity, you bolt before the arranged meeting time, leaving the house in precarious condition, taking the keys (to the locks on the doors, which you had changed without informing the landlord, who is now locked out of his own f-ing house), garage remotes and money with you.

Do everyone a favor please, and donate your body to science so we can isolate this malicious gene and spare future mankind a lot of heartache.