Saturday, June 30, 2007

Commentary: The Chris Benoit Murder/Suicide

I was in Connecticut this past Monday at a bar when I noticed RAW was doing a tribute to Chris Benoit. My heart sank as I immediately knew that the wrestler was dead. When I got back to my hotel, I checked the news sites to see if his death was getting any press (I assumed it was another drug related heart attack like the one that took Benoit’s friend Eddie Gurerro). I was shocked and saddened to see that it was a suicide and that Chris had apparently also killed his wife and seven year old son.

There isn’t much I can say about the tragedy that hasn’t already been said, but I wanted to add my personal experience. I haven’t watched wrestling in several years, but when I did, Chris Benoit was my absolute favorite. He didn’t talk well and he wasn’t flashy, but the guy took a very un-serious business seriously and I respected that. He busted his ass to be the very best at his craft, and I honestly though he was the best that ever stepped foot into the ring.

I also admired Benoit’s seemingly private - private life. He didn’t get on the internet and blab about his personal dealings that only destroyed the fantasy. I was aware that Benoit had stolen the wife of another wrestler and I was also aware that they had a somewhat stormy relationship but he kept it all quiet, not opening up to IWC reporters. I seemed to recall the now often mentioned divorce petition in 2003 and was glad that the relationship was ending – it didn’t look right on television and I guess it wasn’t a good fit in real life.

I don’t want to humanize what Benoit did… He killed his son and that makes him a monster hands down. It just really makes me sad that one of the good guys that didn’t make a mess of his life (before all this), the one you wanted to root for, turned out to be a cold blooded killer. One more hero from my youth disgraced.

Rest in peace Nancy and Daniel Benoit.

Review: Ryan Adams at the TLA (Philadelphia)

Recent interviews with Ryan Adams had me excited, it seems that the alt-country “bad boy” has been clean and sober for the last year. Normally I honestly wouldn’t care – Rock’n’Roll means drugs – but Mr. Adams has burned me before. The last time he played in Philadelphia he was angry and paranoid getting into several verbal skirmishes with the audience (telling one guy he wasn’t going to get laid was actually pretty funny but distracting none the less). He eventually walked off stage. Now almost two years later I wondered if buying a ticket to a Ryan Adams show would be worth the money, the answer was a resounding yes.

One thing that I really enjoyed was the lack of opening act. Sometimes you win, most times you lose, so I was glad the night started with Ryan & the Cardinals and ended that way. Of course he came out 35 minutes late, but I didn’t expect him to be on time. Adams set the stage up similar to his most recent tonight show performance, all the musicians were seated and the boys were presented in a straight line with the drummer at center. With the band sitting on their asses and me being on the floor, it was hard to see the band, but I honestly didn’t care considering they were just sitting down.

The first few songs of the night started off slow and had me a bit worried, but then it all came together. Adams and company steered clear of their most popular songs (New York, New York, Come Pick Me Up, To be Young, Stars Go Blue) instead favoring his country western-esque material such as Magnolia Mountain, Beautiful Sorta, some tracks from his new album, and some reworked songs from Demolition (Dear Chicago was a crowd pleaser).

There were a few elements of the show that did fall short. The gentleman working the boards was not on his game, the audio sounded hollow and tinny. When Adams spoke to the audience (which is a miracle in itself) it was almost impossible to hear it. The concert ended around 11:30 PM and since Ryan got up around 9:30, I was a little disappointed that the show didn’t go on a little longer. I was looking forward to hearing Let it Ride and Winding Wheel with the 7 piece band – but it was not meant to be.

Overall, the band sounded great, Ryan was looking happy and healthy, and Ryan managed to go an entire show without getting into a fight with someone in the audience. Do I consider that money well spent? You bet your ass.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Bumper Stickers, Lesbians, and the Cookie Monster

I hate bumper stickers.

Actually, I don't like any other form of decal either.

I was driving home from the movies today when I saw an SUV in front of me with gay rainbow stickers and a bumper sticker about the driver’s girlfriend. I would be lying if I said my mind didn't drift into Howard Stern territory for a few sections. Then I focused on the reality that this woman is giving way too much information about herself on her car. What if I was some homophobic redneck guy (which I am NOT)? Okay, so I am an accepting person, but what about the people who are not?

Our society is at an interesting crossroads: we are totally paranoid that we are going to get bombed, our kids are going to get molested, big brother is out to get us, yet we are sharing more about our personal lives on our cars, on the internet, in print, on the radio. The same soccer mom that is checking the sex offender sites to see if a creep is living in the neighborhood has an SUV outside that has her kid’s names, soccer team, and numbers on the car in plain sight. I honestly don’t understand it.

Every single day I can look at someone's car and determine their religion, their political views, how many children they have, if they survived cancer... why do I need to know this? I’ll be honest with you, when the Jesus fish start popping up everywhere, I was tempted to buy a Darwin fish, but then I thought to myself, I would be just like those people, or even worse because I was just looking to make fun of those people (and feed the whole damn industry). Then I started thinking that maybe they were looking for a fight by putting Jesus fishes on their cars, and they are looking to become martyrs in their own little world… but then I chose to think the best of people and let the whole damn thing drop.

But it is impossible to avoid – almost every car has some personalized statement about the person driving it, taking my and everyone else’s attention and imagination away for a few seconds. I feel slighted by these hijackings: I didn’t ask to have my attention whisked away by a 30-something, woman that has Hanson pictures in her back window (Was she a groupie? Did she take the youngest kid's virginity on a bender that they both care to forget? See what I mean!). Again my thoughts goes back to what if there was a person that hated Hanson fans out in the world and followed this woman home and slashed her tires or worse. Why are we bringing this kind of attention to ourselves?

Maybe the question is why is our society so messed up that people can't expose their views if they want to? I used to own a computer repair shop and my partner wanted me to put company logos on my car and I flatly refused because it was a easy way to trace me and I didn’t want the risk. Does that make me a chicken? Probably, but a smart chicken none the less. I know the three people who read this article might think twice before they put some cheap piece of paper on their car, but is that giving into the Dateline brand of fear that most of America subscribes to? I don’t want this article to be another device that enables fear. We are already too easily swayed by fear; as individuals and in the masses. However, overcoming fear doesn’t mean we have the luxury of stupidity. If I lived next door to the Cookie Monster, and owned a bakery, I wouldn’t leave my delivery car full of delicious treats open for the blue bastard to have his way with. Next time somebody hands you a bumper sticker, a car magnet, car paint, or some other crap that just makes your car ugly think of the Cookie Monster and know that he is hungry.