Saturday, July 28, 2007

"They Died Old"--Volume III

When I left off in my second installment of this little series on classic sporting venues, we were on the South Side of Chicago.  Come with me now around to the West Side to that boxy little cacophony known as Chicago Stadium, where the likes of Jordan, Mikita, T. Esposito, Chelios and Rodman (?!?) ruled.  It was home of the Bulls and Blackhawks, as well the world’s first Arena Football game, and a place I deeply regret not visiting more often than I did, but the two times I did partake of the "Madhouse On Madison Street" left a lasting impression on me.

Chicago Stadium opened in 1929, and in its early years was known mostly for hosting boxing matches and political conventions (sometimes simultaneously), and Sugar Ray Robinson often held court there, including when he beat the living snot out of Carmen Basilio on March 25, 1958, sending him to the hospital for nine days.  Assassinated Chicago mayor Anton J. Cernak’s funeral was held there in early, 1933, too.  Bicycle racing was also a staple during the arena’s early days, when the annual six-day bike races were immensely popular during the ’30s and ‘40s, along with the usual arena fare of concerts, circuses and figure skating events.

My first visit to Chicago Stadium was a Blackhawks game with the L.A. Kings on November 4, 1990.  I’d driven by the place a couple times during previous Windy City summer sojourns, and I was dying to see it on the inside.  However, I was extremely leery of the neighborhood in which the Stadium was located.  I gotta tell ya, folks, it’s bad—I mean really bad!  Even worse than the neighborhood surrounding Comiskey Park.  Therefore, I was quite concerned for the welfare of my three-year-old ’87 T-Bird (with its Missouri license tags and Kansas City Comets bumper stickers that screamed out "Tourist!" to the local vandals) while it sat scared shitless in the parking lot during the game, not knowing exactly what I would come back to afterward.  The arena was only a couple blocks from the expressway, and they have cleaned up the area a bit with the advent of the United Center built across the street from the Stadium site, but even today you only have to drive three blocks in any direction from there and you’re smack dab in the middle of the ‘hood.  Luckily "The Bird" was still intact and functional after the game that night, but if you ever attend a Bulls or Blackhawks game at United Center, I urge extreme caution, or they might have to bring your hat to the hospital...

In 1932, Chicago Stadium unwittingly leaped about 60 years ahead of its time by hosting the world’s first indoor football game.  The Chicago Bears were to play the Portsmouth Spartans (now the Detroit Lions) in the NFL Championship game, but the weather outside was frightful (even by Chi-town standards), and Wrigley Field was completely iced over and unusable.  So, it was decided to truck in some dirt and play on a makeshift 60-yard field (plus the 10-yard end zones) on the Stadium floor, thus on December 18, 1932, Arena Football was born!  The Bears won 9-0 in a game that was surprisingly well-played in spite of the unusual situation.  However, kicking was a bit of an adventure, as some punts hit the rafters and one kickoff nearly knocked out a window.

The NBA's Chicago Bulls played their first season just a few blocks from Comiskey Park at the equally-old International Amphitheater (which wasn’t actually an amphitheater, nor was there anything terribly international about it), and moved to the Stadium for the 1967-68 season.  I remember watching many a game broadcast from there, both on national TV and locally when we had the Kansas City (and/or) Omaha Kings.  The Bulls of the early ‘70s featured the likes of Chet "The Jet" Walker, Bob Love, Norm Van Lier (whose guts I truly loathed, for some reason) and current Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan.  They were a good team, but not a great one until #23 came along in 1984 and turned the NBA on its collective ears.  But from start-to-finish, Chicago Stadium was a hockey arena first and foremost, home of the NHL’s Blackhawks, who still sport quite possibly the coolest uniforms of any sports franchise, native American protesters be damned!  The ‘Hawks last won the Stanley Cup 46 years ago, but they were always competitive no matter what, and the Stadium often gave them a distinct home-ice advantage with its shorter ice surface and sheer volume.

Being an old arena, by definition the Stadium naturally had a few quirks.  The hockey press box was on the end of the rink instead of on the side, and the players actually had to climb a rather steep staircase (in their skates, no less) leading from the locker rooms to the ice surface.  The Blackhawks’ zamboni had its own cage right there on the main concourse on the lower level.  There was also the legendary "Gate 3 ½", located between 3 and 4 on the west side of the building where autograph hounds and groupies congregated as the players and/or singers and bands entered and left the premises.
Chicago Stadium had two other beloved features (besides #23):  its mighty foghorn that saluted each Blackhawk goal and the even mightier Barton pipe organ that was perched on the east end of the arena.  The horn was so loud that if you were sitting anywhere near it, the damn thing would probably give you brain damage.  The organ, which was manned for 47 years by the late Al Melgard, followed by his protégé Frank Pellico, was unique for its ornate multi-tiered keyboard and cathedral-like sound, as well as its pipe work, which was actually built into the framework of the Stadium roof.  Some pipes were wide enough for a full-grown man to fit in, and others were as thin as an ink pen, and the organ took over 100 people to install.  According to legend, if the organ’s volume had ever been turned up to full-blast, one note would’ve blown out every window in the building.  Sadly, they weren’t able to preserve the piping, but the organ itself was spared when Chicago Stadium was demolished in 1995 and it’s now on display in the home of Las Vegas millionaire Phil Maloof (co-owner of the Sacramento Kings).

Once inside, I was immediately impressed with what immaculate condition Chicago Stadium was in even at its advanced age.  The concourses were cramped and narrow, yes, but they were clean and well-lit, which is more than I can say for Kansas City’s Kemper Arena, even today.  I was also surprised at how small the place seemed when I got to my seat on the lower level—it always appeared to be huge on TV, and I couldn’t believe they could actually shoe-horn 18,000 people in this joint.  It also struck me how the seating bowl was shaped almost like our Arrowhead Stadium, only on a much smaller scale, with the upper level sprouting "wings" that reached into the corners—sorta like Arrowhead inside a box, if you will.

Then came was the pre-game festivities.  The crowd stood politely during the playing of "Oh, Canada", and then the "Star-Spangled Banner" was introduced.  The crowd cheered wildly, and at first I thought it was because Chicago legend Wayne Messmer was doing the honors, but when he got to "What so proudly we hailed…" the crowd was still cheering vociferously, and I looked around in bewilderment.  This, boys and girls, was my on-the-fly indoctrination to "The Roar", a little tradition I knew nothing about until that night.  The cheering never stopped until we got to the "Home of the brave", and I was blown away—the building was loud enough as it was, then add this torrent of sound on top of it—man, what a way to get fired up for a game!  Apparently, The Roar began sometime in the early ‘80s, but it usually didn’t start until reaching "the rockets’ red glare", but as time worn on, the cheering started inching further and further back to the beginning of the song, and thus, you have a legend.  Just a few months after my visit, The Roar was featured on national TV prior to the 1991 NHL All-Star Game from the Stadium during the height of the Persian Gulf War.  ‘Hawks fans still do The Roar today, but it’s just not the same at the sterilized and cavernous United Center.

The hockey game itself was a double treat for me.  Not only did I get to see the Stadium and enjoy The Roar, but I got to see Wayne Gretzky play in person for the first and only time.  I’d love to have seen him score a goal, but he got stoned by the Blackhawks goalie on a one-on-one breakaway which was actually even more exciting, and the game ended in a 2-2 tie.  I returned for an encore during my 1994 "The Puck Stops Everywhere" hockey road trip and took in the next-to-next-to-last regular season game at Chicago Stadium as the Blackhawks and Calgary Flames skated to another 2-2 tie.  At least I got to hear the horn a couple times and do The Roar one last time.

Just as an aside, anthem singer Wayne Messmer (who also sings at Cubs games and once served as their P.A. announcer) was nearly killed that same month I visited in 1994 when he was shot by a 15-year-old kid during a robbery attempt one night after a game.  Did I mention that Chicago Stadium sat in a bad neighborhood?  Wayne eventually recovered and was back singing again, but was later fired by the Blackhawks for no good reason.  The ‘Hawks owner, William "Dollar Bill" Wirtz is a cheap-ola and a total douchebag, and it’s no small wonder the team hasn’t won a Stanley cup since the Kennedy Administration.

Even though Chicago Stadium was in remarkably good condition for its age in the early ‘90s, its replacement was inevitable.  One would think the Bulls and Blackhawks would have seized the opportunity to escape the ghetto they were in and build a new arena elsewhere in town.  As a certain former Chicago native once succinctly put it, "but noooooooooo!"  Instead, they just moved right across the street to the lifeless sterile confines of the United Center, which by and large, is reviled by most Chicagoans, especially Blackhawks fans.  It’s a nice building, yes, dwarfing the Stadium (as you can see in the pic), but it has none of the soul of the old place and isn’t nearly as loud.  Seems to me that if they were going to stay put in that crappy neighborhood anyway, they could’ve found a way to somehow renovate Chicago Stadium without removing any of the building’s charm and ambience (or volume).  I feel sorry for sports fans who never got to see a game at Chicago Stadium.  Everyone raves about the old Boston Garden, but it was vastly overrated—the Madhouse on Madison Street may well have been the greatest indoor sports arena of all-time.

Misc. Musings

I spent most of my day helping a good friend of mine move into his newly-built house today.  I'm tired, and I'll probably be sore as hell tomorrow, but I feel a nice sense of satisfaction all the sameit's nice to be able to return the favor to a friend who has helped me numerous times in the past.  I do have one thing I'd like to say to my good friend, though:  DON'T MOVE NO MORE!!! (Please!)

BILL FLEMMING, 1926-2007
Was saddened to learn of the death this week of longtime ABC sportscaster Bill Flemming at age 80.  I most associate him with college football coverage during the early ‘70s, but there was no sport too minor for Bill—he gladly would cover most anything for "Wide World of Sports"—everything from cliff diving to barrel jumping to cow chip tossing. I always enjoyed Flemming’s narration (in those pre-ESPN days) on the weekly Sunday morning college football highlight show ("College Football America", I believe it was called) that featured 6-8 games from the previous day.  Although it always pissed me off that they never showed Missouri highlights on it, the show was a perfect lead-in to the NFL pregame shows on Sundays, and Bill Flemming was a part of the sports soundtrack of my youth right up there with the likes of Pat Summerall, Keith Jackson, the late Curt Gowdy and—here’s a blast from the past for you—Al DeRogatis.

R.I.P., Billya done good...

I would give almost anything for ESPN and the rest of the sports talk yappers to drop their obsession about whether baseball commish Bud Selig is going to be around when and/or if Barely Bonds breaks Hank Aaron’s home run record.  Both Selig and Bonds are assholes anyway, and I really don’t care to watch Bud flashing a big fake smile like Eli Manning did when he stood there at the 2005 NFL draft holding that Chargers jersey out like it was a bustier for him to wear.  I still hope Bonds suffers a career-ending injury before he gets to 756, but if he does indeed break the record, I still have yet to decide how I'll react.  I've narrowed it down to four: scratch my balls, fart, yawn or all of the above.  I'll be sure to let everyone know what transpires when and if it's necessary...

"You’re In My Heart"—ROD STEWART (1977) "Your fashion sense, Beardsley prints, I put down to experience."  I thought Rod sang, "Your fashion sayin’s/Beardsley Prince".  I even once asked, "Who the hell is Beardsley Prince?"

I've been perusing flights and airfares for my upcoming September vacation to the Bay Area.  Get a load of this return flight one can select for $300, round-trip:  Depart the Oakland airport at 10PM, California time, and fly all the way to Atlantayes, the one in Georgia, folksthen turn around and fly back to Kansas City and arrive at 9AM the next morning, Missouri time!  Meantime, there are plenty of other return flights that are a $100 cheaper and stop in cities on the way like Salt Lake City and Denver.  Could someone please explain the logic in this to me like I'm a four-year-old?

...for our new Sprint Center arena's shakedown cruise on October 13th.  It seems that Reginald Kenneth Dwight of Pinner, Middlesex, England will throw out the first pitch and play the first concert at our new hootenanny joint.  Sounds like a plan to me...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Soul Brother Number 926.43

It sometimes comes as a great shock to some people who know methe über Kiss, Who, Motorhead, Paul Revere & The Raiders fanatic, and allthat yours truly also has a very deep appreciation for classic Soul and R&B music.  My interest in Soul is mostly confined to the late '60s and early-to-mid '70sthe "Golden Age" if you will (before Disco took over)and it's too bad there's no one out there who can create this same kind of melodic and soulful music today like Isaac Hayes or the late Barry White.  Now Black "music" is little more than all this "homey-this" and "homey-that" Rap garbage, and I find that sad.  Anyway, without further ado, I present to you B.R. Holland's Top 20 Soul/R&B songs of all-time:

20) "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine"LOU RAWLS (1977)  Was brother Lou about the smoothest singer on earth, or what?  I might've given my left and right nut to sound just like him, but that would've rendered me a soprano, thus totally defeating the purpose...
19) "Float On"THE FLOATERS (1977)  Astrology meets "Soul Train"!  Great song, but the 1980 Cheech & Chong send-up "Bloat On" is even more brilliant:  "Hamburger--and my name is Big Boy...Come with me, baby, to Burger Land..."
18) "Back Stabbers"THE O'JAYS (1972)  The prolific songwriting/production team of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff made The O'Jays stars, as well as many other Philadelphia International Records acts.  No one produces records like this anymore...
17) "Strawberry Letter 23"THE BROTHERS JOHNSON (1977)  Wonderfully trippy soul tune that just floats along not unlike "Float On", only a little faster.
16) "Natural High"BLOODSTONE (1973)  Unbeknowst to me until just a few years ago, these guys were/are from Kansas City.  Another wonderfully trippy soul tune, indeed.
15) "That Lady (Part I & II)"THE ISLEY BROTHERS (1973)  You know those water vapor mirages you see coming off the streets on hot summer days?  That's what this song's blistering lead guitar work reminds me of.  Funk at its very finest...

14) "Higher Ground"STEVIE WONDER (1973)  So many classics from Stevie to choose from, but this one is my favorite.  Funky bass made even funkier by brother Flea on the Red Hot Chili Peppers' remake in 1989.
13) "I'll Be Around"THE SPINNERS (1972)  Love the horn solo during the middle-eight here.  The Spinners were just hitting their stride with this song, and they reeled off a string of hits over the next five years or so afterwards.
12) "Up The Ladder To The Roof"THE SUPREMES (1971)  At least for a year or two, Mary Wilson, Cindy Birdsong, and new lead singer Jean Terrell were able to make everyone say, "Diana who?"  This onealong with 1970's "Stoned Love"was every bit as good as anything the Supremes did with "Miss Ross".
11) "Hey Love"THE DELFONICS (1970)  Why this wasn't a bigger hit than it was is beyond me.  Too bad these guys never put out an album called Hooked on Delfonics, huh?
10) "If You Don't Know Me By Now"HAROLD MELVIN & THE BLUE NOTES (1972)  Mind-blowing performance by Teddy Pendergrass on lead vocals on this classic tear-jerker.
9) "You Are Everything"THE STYLISTICS (1971)  One of the great dance floor "belly-rubbers" of all-time featuring Russell Tompkins, Jr.'s unmistakable falsetto lead vocal from that magical year 1971, when everything on the radio (even The Osmonds) sounded phenomenal to me.
8) "Show And Tell"AL WILSON (1973)  Even as a 3rd-grader at the time, I really grooved with this song on AM radio.
7) "In The Rain"THE DRAMATICS (1972)  Extremely underrated Stax Records classic that features some heavily-echoplexed guitar work that makes it sound like the guitar is being played underwater.  Outstanding vocals too.
6) "TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)"MFSB (1974)  Better known as the "Soul Train" theme song, this was probably the high point for the Philadelphia International record label.  That's the Three Degrees doing the "Doot-doot-doodle-e-doo's", too.
5) "What's Goin' On"MARVIN GAYE (1971)  What an atmospheric tune!  Hard to believe that Marvin was on a cocaine bender when he recorded this absolutely brilliant landmark album.  Even crazier, Motown chief Berry Gordy, Jr. didn't want to release it because it was too political.  Silly Berry...
4) "Smiling Faces Sometimes"THE UNDISPUTED TRUTH (1971)  The bass line on this one is absolutely sinisterit sounds just like a thief prowling the streets in the middle of the night.  Great vocals here, too.  This song always reminds me of a hot summer night, since that was the time of year it was high on the charts in '71.
3) "Love's Theme"LOVE UNLIMITED ORCHESTRA (1974)  Some people (including my ex-girlfriend) sadly associate this song with ABC's golf tournament coverage during the '70s, but this splendid instrumental just glides along like a stretch limousine, and it's an all-time favorite of mine.  It blows my mind that the late Barry White was a self-taught musician (and couldn't even read sheet music), yet he was able to produce such incredibly rich sounds as this.  R.I.P., B.W.
2) [Tie] "Theme From Shaft"Isaac Hayes (1971)/Papa Was A Rolling StoneTHE TEMPTATIONS (1972)  They say this "Shaft" song is a bad mutha? (Shut yo mouth!).  The former is Stax Records' (and Chef's) finest hour, in my opinion, even though the movie it's from is vastly overrated.  And who could forget Bart & Lisa's lovely rendition of it on "The Simpsons"? (Damn right!)  The latteroriginally recorded by Undisputed Truthis Motown's (and The Tempts') finest hour, and a brilliantly-told story of freeloading desperation to boot.  Both songs were the ultimate use of wah-wah pedals in music history too.  They just don't make records like this anymore...
1) "Me And Mrs. Jones"BILLY PAUL (1972)  Man, I struggled with these top three or four as to which one would top this list, and this classic won by a nose (hair).  The subject matter of a clandestine love affair meant absolutely nothing to me at age eight, but every time I hear "Mrs. Jones", I think back to those nights in the winter of '72-'73 falling asleep to the radio with this lush and sultry song playing.  Why on earth this was Billy Paul's only Top 10 hit is totally unfathomable...

[Amazingly enough, folks like Earth Wind & Fire, The Chi-Lites, James Brown, Al Green and Otis Redding didn't even make the cut here.  That's certainly no slam on any of themmethinks I might have to make this a Top 40 list at some point...]

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

R.E.O. Styxwagon?

Just finished listening to my Styx CD collection today (I was even able to choke down Kilroy Was Here!) and it wrapped up with the double-live CD set Arch Allies, which captured the first of many Styx and REO Speedwagon joint concert tours commencing in the summer of 2000.  These two bands have been Kansas City favorites for over 35 years now, and during their heyday in the early ‘80s, they were a hot concert ticket in this town. I remember waiting well over four hours in line in the snow in January 1981 for Styx tickets for the Paradise Theater tour, and Speedwagon damn near filled up Arrowhead Stadium in August 1982.  REO and Styx (along with Rush, Kiss, Grand Funk, Black Sabbath, et al) are bands that music critics just love to hate, which in part probably explains why I like them, plus they both were great live bands back in the day.

It’s also rather fun to note the near-parallel histories they share:
—Both bands were formed in 1968 in northeastern Illinois, and their first albums were released within a year of each other in 1971-72.
—Both bands struggled to find an audience and/or radio airplay after releasing their first 4-5 albums and each group seemingly grew more successful at the same intervals (Styx with "Lady" and "Lorelei" in late ‘75 and REO with "Keep Pushin’" in early ’76; Styx with "Come Sail Away" and "The Grand Illusion" in late ’77, REO with "Roll With The Changes" and "Time For Me To Fly" in the spring of ’78), etc. Then Speedwagon and Styx truly hit their popularity motherlode in the winter of 1980-81 with their breakout albums Hi Infidelity and Paradise Theater, respectively, which were both #1 on the Billboard album chart in 1981.
—Each band had their only #1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 with soft Rock ballads almost within a year of each other; Styx with "Babe" in late 1979, and REO with "Keep On Lovin’ You" in early ’81.
—The heydays for both groups ended at roughly the same time around 1983-84, with only minor resurgences in popularity in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.  Speedwagon just kinda ran out of gas (sorry, bad pun) following 1984’s Wheels Are Turning LP (although 1987’s Life As We Know It had some good stuff on it), and their decline seems to more less coincide with when Kevin Cronin started bleaching his hair blonde—sorry Kev, but it looks kinda faggy to me.  Styx aided and abetted their own demise with the ill-advised career-killing album Kilroy Was Here in 1983.  When the band was accused of backmasking satanic messages on the classic track "Snowblind" from Paradise, Dennis DeYoung took things a little too personally and came up with this Schlock Rock Opera about a futuristic oppressive society in which Rock music is banned altogether.  The album seemed like a neat idea at the time, but listening it now almost makes banning Rock 'N' Roll sound like a damn good idea!  Almost...
—Each band only has one original member who has been with the group throughout the group’s existence; REO keyboardist Neal Doughty and guitarist James "J.Y." Young of Styx. Original bassist Chuck Panozzo has never officially left Styx, but now only tours and records on a part-time basis since revealing he is HIV-positive in 1998, thus he technically has not made the band’s entire trip.
—Each band has had a key member leave the group for a significant time and subsequently return; Kevin Cronin left Speedwagon after 1972’s R.E.O./T.W.O. and returned in 1976 for the just plain R.E.O. album in ’76.  Tommy Shaw left Styx for a solo career in 1984 and later formed Damn Yankees in 1989 before reuniting with Styx in the mid-‘90s.
—Each band had an original member who was replaced because of substance abuse problems; REO guitarist Gary Richrath was asked to leave in the late ‘80s because of his drug usage, and Styx drummer John Panozzo was replaced by current drummer Todd Sucherman when his alcoholism rendered him unable to tour in the early ‘90s, and he subsequently died of liver disease in 1996.
—Each band is currently estranged from one of its founding members; Gary Richrath from REO (see above item), and keyboardist/leader Dennis DeYoung of Styx.  The feud between DeYoung and the band has been famously festering for about ten years over the band’s musical direction, as Tommy Shaw and J.Y. don’t care to play Dennis’ grandiose Broadway-style music.
—Neither band is likely to be elected to the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame, although I think you could make a case for both of them.  They certainly belong there more than the Lovin’ Spoonful or Elvis Costello do…

My All-Time REO Top 10:
1) "Ridin' The Storm Out" (Live-1980)
2) "157 Riverside Avenue" (Live-1980)
3) "Good Trouble" (1982)
4) "Keep Pushin'" (1976)
5) "Say You Love Me Or Say Goodnight" (1978)
6) "Tough Guys" (1980)
7) "Runnin' Blind" (1978)
8) "Keep On Lovin' You" (1980)
9) "Back On The Road Again" (1979)
10) [Tie] "Like You Do" (1972)/"That Ain't Love" (1987)

My All-Time Styx Top 10:
1) "Too Much Time On My Hands" (1981)
2) "Lady" (1973)
3) "Lorelei" (1975)
4) "Rockin' The Paradise" (1981)
5) "Come Sail Away" (1977)
6) "Miss America" (1977)
7) "The Grand Illusion" (1977)
8) "Lonely Child" (1975)
9) "Borrowed Time" (1979)
10) "Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)" (1977)

Come on in--the blogging's fine...

A GLARING OMISSIONAs is typical with my countdowns and lists, I often forget one or two worthy entries, and it took me about three months to realize an egregious error on my part by overlooking Supertramp’s Breakfast In America in my Top 30 Album Covers of All-Time list on the blog.  Not sure where exactly it lands in the rankings now, but it’s always been a favorite of mine.  Great album too—probably the last of the true classic albums of the ‘70s, and certainly S-Tramp’s finest hour(s) in the studio.

Me madre is thinking about getting cable TV, and she asked me the other day, "Does Compost have an office around here?"  She was referring to Comcast, of course, but Compost actually better sums up my opinion of them sometimes…

I was quite amused at something my man Leo. Pitts, Jr. wrote in his column this week.  Seems that in the Health section of his Miami Herald paper last week they published some hints for parents to help their kids cope with the death of one (or more) of the beloved characters in the new Harry Potter book.  Only in America could we have grief counseling that covers fictional characters in cheesy Sci-Fi books aimed at geeky 7th-graders!  Where were these fuckers when I was seven and watched the movie Brian’s Song for the first time and was inconsolable afterwards?  At least Brian Piccolo was a real person who died!

At the risk of sounding like R. Limbaugh, the animal rights nut-jobs are predictably taking to this Michael Vick thing like arsonists to a burning building—even though the guy literally hasn’t even had his day in court yet.  These folks are already doing a little grandstanding for their cause by picketing and protesting in front of the Atlanta Falcons offices yesterday.  Why picket the Falcons?  Or the NFL?  This isn’t their fault, and neither organization is responsible for one knucklehead’s actions, nor should they have to rush into any kind of decision about Vick’s future employment therein just because PETA wants them to.  Why not picket Vick’s house(s) instead—he’s the one you’re pissed at, right?

Look folks, I didn’t even like Vick before all this hoo-haw began—his other previous transgressions have painted him in a rather shady light and he’s overrated/over-hyped as a quarterback, anyway.  I think he’s guilty as hell myself on this dog-fighting stuff, but let’s at least give the man a chance to try to prove his innocence before we string him up by his nut-sack.  This is America, after all (last time I checked…).

And why do I have this bad feeling Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are going to stick their noses in this before it's all over?

"Stardom In Acton"—PETE TOWNSHEND (1982)  Not an actual lyric this time, but rather the title itself, which for years I misread as "Stardom In Action"!

Seems only fitting for web pages devoted to Paris Hilton to be called "Paris sites", don't it?

I read that Tammy Faye was cremated, per her wishes.  I would’ve paid good money to see her imploded

BECKHAM GIVES ME THE BENDSI don’t care what my good friend Steve in England says, this David Beckham fucker can’t possibly be worth all the hype and hysteria he’s brought with him—nobody’s that good!  And he’s in for a shock when he realizes the caliber of team he now plays for.  The L.A. Galaxy is one of the weaker teams in MLS, and considering all the world-class players he’s accustomed to competing with and against, this will be akin to A-Rod or Albert Pujols playing AA minor league baseball or Peyton Manning playing Arena Football.  MLS is making a colossal mistake by sinking so much money into this guy…