Tuesday, May 30, 2006

B. Jones: An Origin Story

I have some pleasant memories of the old man before he turned. The majority of these are sports or gambling related. He'd take me to the OTB and had me pick out some horses. If anything I picked won, I'd get ice cream and a comic book or some other kid specific reward (knowing my propensity for liking larger numbers at the time, I wonder just how much the man ended up pocketing in the long run).

He also wanted me to be athletic, a wish I ended up spending the bulk of my childhood disspelling, with my finally giving up the ghost after failing at baseball (at the sandlot level; they stuck me out in right field - which tells you something right there - finally a ball was hit in my direction, which I immediately lost in the sun; the ball ended up hitting me in the right eye. Tear duct damage), track and field (too slow for the sprints, not fast enough for long distance - which they didn't train anyone for. Vivid memory of my dad, along with my younger brothers, cheering me on as I finished the last two laps of the 440 exactly two laps behind everyone else), and finally swimming (I joined too late, though the problems of track and field would apply).

This may have changed had my high school alma mater a soccer program, but this being in the CoSpgs, at the Triple-A level, in Reagan's 80s, liking soccer was akin to being a communist in those days. "Be a real American and save your energy for football," is a direct quote of the head of the PE course, a football coach, natch. He'd delivered this after snatching a hacky sack from a group of kids, and intoning "do you know what this leads to? A little round ball with black spots on it..."

But there was one thing my dad did succeed in instilling in me: An appreciation for watching sports. I still remember his taking me to a baseball game in PR. And the World Cup, I recall watching Pele' take the Brazilians to the top. (He also tried to whet my boxing appetite, with mixed results.)

The pivotal instance, however, was the night of the PR Basketball Championships, which were being aired on one of the channels in PR. It was one of those games, you know the ones; a fierce battle between two teams who have been locked in a rivalry for decades. I wanna say that it went into quadruple overtime, but that may be my exaggerated nostalgia. The game did not end early, that much is true. I believe I stayed up past midnight, a Valhalla of lateness to which I had yet to be accustomed to.

And it all happened because when my mom wanted me to go to sleep after regulation was over, my dad told her that it'd be okay if I watched until the end...Little did he know. (I'm sure he didn't mind the distracted kid, if you catch my meaning.) He later came back to check in on me, and was surprised to still see the game going. We caught the last few minutes together. I think my team lost.

That stuck with me, but it wasn't until the mid-80s, after the fam returned from Germany, that it would come to full fruition. Six syllables: Lakers versus Celtics.

Here were two teams of equal caliber, from opposite ends of the country, and who excelled at playing. And their games would go back and forth, with series often going to game six or seven. I remember one game ended with the score of 141-122. That's 263 points in one game. That means that the ball went in the basket around 110 to 120 times in 48 minutes. My readership, such as it is, yawns. Alas.

Since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was on Airplane!, the Lakers seemed like a good bet. And whooo-boy, was I right. Magic Johnson's mastery and knowledge of who was where on the court was something behold in those days. Kareem made it look extremely easy. Kurt Rambis had this whole Clark Kent thing going with his glasses. A.C. Green was a tenacious little fucker (and would later become a real life 37 year old virgin. Can you imagine? In the NBA? Yes, he was religious in that way, but still). Behind them all, Pat Riley was a passionate, if mostly cool-headed coach. Get him on a rant and you could feel it on the safe side of the TV screen.

The Celtics, though, this was a team that just wouldn't die. Sure, they looked like a bunch of gawky white folks and a fugly black man, but that's not how they played. Larry Bird was a motherfucker, with a JJ-inflaming period at the end. Nobody liked Danny Ainge, but it wasn't because he sucked as a player (it's because he was a flopping whiny bitch). Kevin McHale and Robert Parish were as ferocious on both sides of the court as they were unpretty.

These teams only met a handful of times in the championships, but when they did...Fever pitch couldn't describe my excitement, and I found that I didn't particularly care who won. Yes, my affinities were with the Lakers, but if Bird did something miraculous, as he was wont to do, I'd be cheering for that as well. Mostly, I wanted the series to go as far as possible, and that meant that both teams had to win, so yeah: Bring it.

And so it went. And so it continues to go. I survived the Detroit Bad Boys; I begrudgingly respected Michael Jordan, but hated seeing his damn face everywhere, no matter how well-earned it may have been (I'll save my rant on the NBA's Superstar Mentality for a later date); and in 1992, I was finally able to follow my favorite team up close and personal, even if their reputation is not as gaseous as mine was once upon a time.

With that came a certain dislike of people other than Jordan, that would dissipate when they retired...Barkley, for instance. Karl Malone and the majority Utah Jazz (John Stockton, another flopping asshole, still earns respect). Others are still around, such as Kobe and Shaq.

Another group are the former Sonics, such as Eric "Pookie" Snow, Ervin Johnson, Brent Barry, Antonio Daniels, and the like. Coaches George Karl and Nate McMillan (who was on the team when I arrived) are also on the list. I'm always thrilled to see these guys in the playoffs and doing well. So, if that means that I root for the Miami Heat even if they have Shaq, I can reconcile that with myself, because Gary Payton deserves the goddamn ring on his hand. Doesn't hurt that I like Dwayne Wade, or that Pat Riley's coaching again.

I still love basketball. If for no other reason than every once in a while the NBA turns out a post-season as exciting as this year's...Which I know better than to get into. Hi-ho.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Spout Off: Peppermint Patty = Dyke/Not Dyke?

It seems the book has been closed on Bert and Ernie. Same could be said of Ren and Stimpy, The Great Kazoo, Pee Wee Herman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Sirhan Sirhan and, of course, Anita Bryant.

Many of those aren't all that surprising, once you get over the initial shock of thinking of your childhood friends in such a way (I still can't watch Godzilla v Eleanor Roosevelt without getting creeped out); and then, you start seeing it everywhere.

And here, we hope to do to Peanuts what Cherry did to Archie (and if you know what I'm talking about, am I really the only pervert here?).

Helping me with this endeavor is a good old friend of mine, a pie fetishist, and the Hairshirt-iest motherfucker I've ever met: From Harlem in NYC, Joe, aka "The Funny One," aka "White Shadow."

On the other side of this Spout Off, I'm going to break with tradition, just this once, and actually step into the fray myself.


All this would be quite a bit more exciting if it hadn't been three months since the last Spout Off...ah, well.

As my guest, I'll let Joe go first. Joe?
Joe Says:

People need to lay off Peppermint Patty. Seriously.

“Peppermint Patty’s a huge fucking dyke!”

“Hey, what did Peppermint Patty and Marcie do for Thanksgiving dinner? They ate out.”

“I believe Peppermint Patty is a homosexual whose occasional flirtation with Charlie Brown is an attempt to deny an inner self she finds too painful to cope with.”

I’ve heard it all. It pisses me off, especially that last one, which is just crude. For years, people have been implying—or stating outright—that Peppermint Patty and Marcie are lovers. This is not the case. And here’s why:

I will grant you a few things. Peppermint Patty is not what you’d call a “girly girl”. She doesn’t seem to have any great need to proclaim her femininity from the rooftops. She is athletic. She seems more at ease on the sports field than she does interacting on a personal level with her peers, which could imply some sort of social maladjustment, possibly indicating a degree of confusion about her own identity. These things I grant you.

These things do not, however, mean that she’s going at Marcie with a strap-on.

She’s a child, people. She’s meant to be, what, ten years old? Eleven? At eleven, there’s a high likelihood that her sexual identity is still being worked out. She may have leanings toward being attracted to other girls. She may have an inkling that she’d rather kiss Lucy than Linus. She may know that there’s more to her love of sports than just a desire to eventually win a scholarship to Cal Tech. But she’s too young to be sexually active.

Despite what we see on Maury and Jerry Springer, most ten and eleven-year olds are not yet engaging in sexual activity. So, yes, Marcie is apparently old enough to drive a car in France. She is not, however, old enough to be hooking up at an Indigo Girls concert.

Peppermint Patty and Marcie could very well grow up to be incredibly huge fucking dykes. For now, though, they are children. Peppermint Patty is a tomboy and Marcie is a bookworm. That’s it. No mas.

Now, let’s talk about what a little fag Schroeder is.
TBO Says:

I find it interesting that my colleague has decided to latch on to the supposed verisimilitude of this comic strip, thereby handily ignoring the one thing that has become universally accepted about Charles Schultz’s Peanuts. Namely: Each character represents an adult archetype.

So, while Lucy Van Pelt represents an adult’s attachment to rationality and cynicism, Linus would represent another adult’s desire to never grow up. Charlie Brown is everyman, the curly red-haired girl is that unattainable romantic ideal, Schroeder is man’s artistic nature, etc. etc. etc.

If we continue along this path, we see that the GLBT contingent had its inaugural mascots in Peppermint Patty and Marcie.

"Tomboy and bookworm?" C’mon! In real life these two met on the Varsity Volleyball team and spent every other post-scrimmage shower thigh-locked to ecstasy.

Let’s embrace this diversity, for merely labeling them as pre-cursors to Martina Navratilova is just scratching the surface.

Let’s take a look at Sub/Dom role play. What else are we to make of this whole “sir” business? The only thing missing here are the chains and collars. You ever notice that Marcie almost always gets her way? You notice that smile of hers? Like most subs, Marcie actually runs the show between these two. I’d bet that if you were to google images of Marcie and Peppermint Patty, somewhere along the way you’d get an image you’d rather forget, but it’d feature Marcie tugging on Peppermint Patty’s hair.

Which leads us to this revelation: Marcie is the more sexually ambiguous/adventurous of the two. No really. Unlike Patty’s rather butch attempts at luring Charlie Brown (the clumsy nature of which makes it obvious to the outside eye which side of the fence she resides on), Marcie’s smiling, beguiling and toying come-ons to the perpetually confused Brown, combined with the mysterious nature that the *ahem* librarian’s glasses provide, gives her a certain knowing and scheming quality, not unlike that of a mynx.

Marcie is the Willow Rosenberg of the Peanuts gang…Sure, she’s all tics and fumbly, but remember Tara’s song in the musical episode? The sort of naughty shenanigans Willow indulged in? Marcie started all that.

In short, Charles Schultz was a stone freak.

Having established that, the less said about Pig Pen, the better.
Joe's Rebuttal:

I’m just glad Charles Schultz never tried to lay a lame-ass season-long “Marcie is addicted to magic” arc on us. ‘Cause that’s unbearable in any medium.

And what’s your problem with our proto-Deadhead, patchouli-stinkin’ brother Pig Pen?
TBO's Rebuttal:

Marcie may not have been addicted to magic, but Schultz’s got a bit creepier when he had his real life daughter, Jill, get freaky with Spike, Snoopy’s skeezier brother.

And there ain’t nothing wrong with Pig Pen, just that he left Franklin alone while he was on a particularly bad trip. Franklin has never been the same since, man.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Moving On, For The Love of Fuck

"...even the Clippers, who may be the Clippers, but once they start winning, they're suddenly from Los Angeles." --King Kaufman, remarking on Jack Nicholson's appearance courtside during last night's playoff game.

Item: Lost is altering its episode schedule:

"If you haven't heard yet, Season Three of LOST will have NO RERUNS! Yes, I said NO RERUNS! No repeats.

"Now, after you get done cheering, bite on this: The new schedule features the first third of the series starting in its regular timeslot for seven consecutive episodes, then there is a THIRTEEN WEEK HIATUS! After that, the series marches to the end of the season with NO RERUNS!" --The Tail Section.com

Refraining from saying anything that rhymes with "my hold foo go," though, strictly, it's not 24's non-stop season. Already, people are whining about the 3-month break in action, but fans of Battlestar Galactica can do that in their sleep.


On May 5th, in celebration of a close friend's birthday, I gamboled my way into the Showbox a number of hours early (assuming I'd have in/out priviledges, foolish me), only to find myself chained, for all intents and purposes, to the immediate vicinity for two and a half hours before the first band played. Note to Seattle music venues: If you insist on opening the doors two hours early, let people meander away. Otherwise, be smart and open your doors an hour early instead.

That constitutes the most negative thing I have to say about the evening. Considering the gamble that venturing out to see live music in the larger venues can be, this is pretty impressive in and of itself.

Mind you, by the time the opener, Celebration, started, I was in a fairly shitty mood, having stood in a corner of the house right lounge for over a couple of hours listening to inane conversations, while birthday boy had trouble getting there. Looking at the line up (someone doubling up on guitar and organ, a drum kit, female lead singer), having them start and listening to the singer's first few notes, it was too easy to mumble to myself, "everyone wants to be the Yeah Yeah Yeahs now."

And then the song switched gears, and I told myself to shut up. Just because both YYY and Celebration share an association with the headlining band, doesn't make these guys frickin' posers.

These fuckers can move. To be more exact, these fuckers can make you want to move. Unfortunately, by "you" I guess I don't mean your typical Seattle crowd, who are notoriously movement-free when it comes to music.

Is there such a label as aggressive dance? No, that's a misnomer, even if the songs both rock and are dance-worthy. And the singer's voice is not at all like that of Karen O's.

War, the last song of their set (and obviously a protest song, when each chorus ends with "We've. Got. More. Guns. Than. Any. Body!"), was about 7-8 steps away from contained chaos that night; the singer smashing away at a cymbal with a tambourine, drummer keeping a tight dance beat going, the organ plumbing the depths of their sonic barrage making my chest reverberate, and a couple of guys from the headlining band adding noise...There was discernible movement in the crowd in front of the stage! OMG, Celebration managed to get Seattle moving!

I was convinced. This will be a future Sonic Boom pick up. It's easy to be jaded anymore.

Now, I don't know why I've been skirting the fact that the headlining band was Brooklyn, NY's TV On The Radio (touring to support their next CD, due out soon), but watching them brought up many a thought...

The Showbox's leash at least extended to the sidewalk out front, which is where I stood, smoking, as Adebimpe and Sitek approached the entrance. On their way, this college aged white kid comes up and congratulates them on being the most important thing to happen to rock music ever. Adebimpe thanked him and walked on, as the kid kept on saying "seriously, most important...ever!" at their backs.

Obviously a kid hoping to get backstage somehow, or maybe he was being sincere; in either scenario, it seemed to amuse the band. "Are you guys ready for the Kick Ass Rock Show?" Adebimpe asked, laughing. Once the audience hooted appreciably, they kicked into a hard version of Wrong Way; taking claim of the Rock label, while aware enough to poke holes in the claim.

I can relate with their situation; a group of black men, specializing in experimental music, somehow the rock label was attached to them and here they were, performing in front of a sold out crowd of people largely comprised by white folks. I'm not saying that this is what they were thinking, but it's likely that the thought passed fleetingly at some point during the tour.

But, are they Rock? They use elements of rock, but they also touch upon gospel, doo wop, dub, and who knows what all else in creating their sound...And I guess they could represent the next step in this music after Radiohead; just like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs would be the step after The White Stripes...

More interesting for me to think about was the scene earlier, with the college kid, how this translates to the evolution of rock music, and the role of the black musician in said evolution.

I mean, Rock is a lot like Jazz, in the sense that black folk created it, and after a while it became a predominantly white concern; if ya follow. Only, what took Jazz four to five decades to complete, Rock managed to do in about 15 years (much longer, however, if you include the Blues as part of Rock's heritage).

After the 60s, the number of black rock acts that hit the mainstream are few and far between, but of these, just about every one of them could be called influential. Jimi Hendrix (I mean, come on), Fishbone (not just responsible for making ska accessible to most white UStians, folks; they've had several phases, and most of them fruitful)...Living Color, in a sense. Though, with only one album that made an impact, you can't really say that they're all that influential.

Has there been anything since? (I'm not including Hootie, because Nellis Rock is not real Rock; Lenny Kravitz, who can be fun, but has only been rehashing old sounds for the bulk of his career; or the violinist from the Dave Matthews Band, because, hello, Dave Matthews, what other reason do you need?)

Almost forgot about Prince, which'd be tantamount to a cardinal sin. Also, Aerosmith would not be the obnoxious frat band they are now if it weren't for Run-DMC; and without them, I don't think we would've gotten Rage Against The Machine, the first of the rock bands to adopt a rap delivery system. Public Enemy teamed up with Slayer, but like Run-DMC, you can't really call their ouvre "Rock." Dirt Bombs, which led to the White Stripes.

Slim pickings, though if you have anything you'd like to throw in or remind me of, please do.

All this is moot, as it's still too early to tell, and who the hell am I anyway? But I do think TVotR have more than a fair shot. Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, is a hell of an auspicious first album, that rare combination of accessible and challenging that I haven't heard/felt in this genre since OK Computer. Which would easily place them amongst the very influencial, not just as black musicians. They are, however, as vital to Rock as the other African American standouts mentioned above.

Just my $.02.

Whatever. The show was, indeed, Kick Ass. I'd heard that their last show was very sequencer oriented, with them obsessing over every mutation until the right groove was found for them to move on. I was kind of hoping for more of that (as that kind of thing impresses the hell out of me), but instead I was treated to an energetically raw and harmoniously haunting show. The new songs fit right in, but I doubt they'll sound the same on the CD, if their treatment of the familiar songs is any indication.

Thanks for indulging me; the blog and I needed a palette cleanser.--TBO

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Re-Imagining Judas

[If you click on the subject line, the hidden link will take you to the National Geographic's page on The Lost Gospel of Judas. Very cool stuff. If you click on the "Explore the pages" prompt, it'll lead you to a downloadable .pdf file, containing seven pages of the translated text. Beyond this, things get a bit blasphemous, so if that kind of thing turns you off, well, tune in later. There's a long delayed Spout Off in the works.- tbo]

I think you've made your point now
You've even gone a bit too far to get the message home
- from Jesus Christ Superstar's Could We Start Again Please?

I think it's no great secret that I'm no longer a practicing Catholic; afact, that part of my life ended when I was about 15-17...So, it's no surprise that I have some convoluted thoughts about the man Jesus, his teachings and what has become of those teachings as it traveled through time.

Let's leave aside the thoughts about the religion that sprouted around his death for the moment, and let's get to some bottom lines, for me:

Q: Did the man Jesus exist? A: yeah, I think so. There's been some evidence supporting his existence beyond the bible.

Q: What about the miracles? A: Right. Yeah, the bible loses me when it comes to discussion of walking on water, raising the dead, water into wine and other events that portray Jesus as an ancient day David Blaine...I also don't buy the immaculate conception bit or the son of god bit. Generally, anything that makes the guy out to be something other than the rest of humanity, I don't buy.

Q: So, you're kosher on the other quotes and actions attributed to him? A: By and large, yeah. But then, I'm one of those people who believe that he went to India and soaked up some of the early Buddhist teachings during the missing years (you know how his story essentially goes from his being born to suddently being 30, with a gaggle of followers and hanging out with Mary Magdalene)...There's a correlation between what he says and what's been written in early Buddhism. Actually, reading the .pdf further supports this, if you're of a mind to believe that, and I am. There are several points in the Judas gospel that sound as if the guy is playing Don Juan to Judas' Castaneda...Check out the cosmos talk, very very Eastern.

Beyond all of that, I have a few problems with the defining aspect of Jesus' life; namely, the crucifixion, or the aspects of the crucifixion that have been highlighted and focused on for religious uses. I get it, in terms of narrative, and symbolically why it all ends that way...I just don't buy what's been made of it...He died for my sins? Who asked?

Also, was there really no other way to get the job done? God couldn't prove his "love for man" by arriving in 18 golden Hummers, getting out and going "heya, it's me, god, howyadoin'? Boy, my love for y'all knows no bounds, I tell ya." It really had to be this grisly?


Bigger than this, however, is the incredibly raw deal that Judas got. So, you mean to tell me that Judas, a guy who seemed to be really into what the message was supposed to be about, betrays the messenger because things seemed to get off-point...That's a bit much.

Then, Jesus, in an act that is supposed to prove his omnipotence, tells the disciples that one will deny and another betray, and then does nothing to stop anything. Okay, you know, that proves the guy is a jackass; where do you think religious extremists get the whole "dieing for your beliefs" thing? Second, this knowledge basically admits that Judas' betrayal is supposed to be part of the mysterious godly plan, so...Why is he damned? Oh, the free will thing. But, wasn't that part of the plan also? No? God didn't know he'd do this? Oh, he did; well, in that case, why couldn't he forgive Judas? Because he killed himself...I see.

yeah, okay...

So, along comes this long lost gospel, as told from the perspective of the grand betrayer himself; and amidst the many revelations is the fact that Jesus actually approached Judas about the betrayal thing. So, the betrayal was something set in motion by Jesus himself.

Now, why was this dropped from the telling of the story?

Simply, I think the folks responsible for molding early Christianity found it difficult to sell people on the fact that they'd be following a man crazy enough to willingly get himself killed to show how holy he is. Judas then becomes the fall guy for the whole thing, wrongly blamed for causing the death of the son of god.

It's interesting, the bits I've read so far makes the Judas/Jesus relationship a lot more equal. The other disciples are portrayed as sheepish in every sense of the word, and Judas the only truth-seeker. It's the Siddartha/Devadatta relationship, except they're friends.

Even still, the new gospel sounds blown out of proportion, like the other ones.

You wanna know what I think happened at the end?

Jesus thought that a confrontation/debate with the Pharisees should be in order, and the only way to get their audience would be to have him arrested for something, so he goes off and does the market thing and they all go to Gethsemane to hide out. He then pulls Judas, his right hand man, aside and they discuss strategy. Amidst all this, it is decided that the plan would have more of an impact if Judas was the one that went to the Pharisees to betray Jesus; so he goes off to do that.

What neither of them counted on was the Pharisees escalating the whole thing, without debate, and getting the Romans involved. Things went haywire from there. Judas realizes that none of it would've happened if he hadn't gone to the Pharisees to begin with, feels incredibly guilty and kills himself. The rest went as written.

Despite my obvious bias in all of this, I'm glad this gospel was found, and that its contents are considered controversial. It really puts everything we've been hearing on its ear. I don't think the teachings of Jesus are irrelevant, though a lot has been done to distort those teachings over the years.

Hopefully, this discovery will cause some reflection and redefining of what that life was about.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Is This Really Necessary?

No one's gonna replace the old booger.

Let's not write the obligatory hell-in-a-handbasket-decline-of-western-civilization-let's-escape-Reagan's-80s screed and say we did.

The following, on the other hand, is quite necessary:

Stickin' it to the man, brass balls edition.