Shitting on Phil Collins, Part Two

April 20, 2010 In The News, Personal, Pop Culture Comments (1) 360

Yesterday I explained my personal sentimental connection to the work of Phil Collins and Genesis, and how my perspective has evolved with my musical tastes.  Even with that as background, I still feel bad for the rest of this post, so here is a disclaimer:  I love Phil Collins.  He’s one of the greatest rock drummers ever, if not the greatest.  People don’t realize this because rather than stay behind the drums, Phil has done a whole lot of other stuff, much of which he’s sucked at.  Face Value is a brilliant, artistic and personal album from beginning to end.  Phil also helped create Peter Gabriel (“melt”), another of the most brilliant albums ever recorded.  Phil brought gated reverb down from the mountain, and it revolutionized music mostly for the better.  With all that said…

To excerpt from the same article I linked to yesterday, “Coinciding with Collins’s Roseland shows, on June 17th he will receive the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s prestigious Johnny Mercer Award at the organization’s annual gala awards dinner in New York City.”

I find this the slightest bit ironic.  My friend Alex and I fairly recently realized that Phil Collins does not write lyrics so much as he strings together cliches, idioms, and figures of speech that happen to rhyme.  A couple of examples:

  • From “In the Air Tonight“:  Well I was there and I saw what you did / I saw it with my own two eyes / So you can wipe off that grin / I know where you’ve been / It’s all been a pack of lies”
  • Or my absolute personal favorite example, “Something Happened on the Way to Heaven”:  We had a life, we had a love / but you don’t know what you’ve got ’til you lose it / well that was then, this is now / and I want you back / How many times can I say I’m sorry?

Then, of course, there’s the album covers.  Here are the covers for Phil’s solo studio LPs to date.  See if you detect a theme:

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Shitting on Phil Collins

April 19, 2010 In The News, Personal, Pop Culture Comments (1) 378

"Ububio" is not a word!

A friend emailed this morning to let me know that Phil Collins has scheduled a three-night stand at the Roseland Ballroom in NYC.  Everyone has that first band that made them like music, and Genesis was mine.  “We Can’t Dance” is the first album I ever owned.  My early explorations into music, if charted, would show Genesis as the central trunk from which all other bands branched, which is to say I discovered Clapton because he played on “But Seriously,” and Led Zeppelin because Phil had been their drummer at Live Aid.  I spent most of my evenings, for at least a year, haunting the Genesis discussion groups on Prodigy, and to this day I aspire to one day produce the definitive annotated version of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.

As my musical tastes have matured, I’ve fallen out of love with most of what Phil has produced, and my opinion on Genesis now agrees with what most music snobs will say: once Peter Gabriel left, they quickly went to shit.  I do still find a certain nostalgic appeal in almost everything he’s been involved with, but that is solely because of connection to my personal life.  I saw Genesis at the Wachovia Center in 2007, on their “Turn It On Again” tour, only because I had never before seen them live in person, and it felt like something I should do.  I was struck by how much more enthralling I found the museum-quality replicas of 1970s Genesis shows performed by The Musical Box and daydreamed about what might have been if only Peter Gabriel wasn’t so resistant to nostalgia, or if the other guys had been patient enough to make the tour fit Peter’s schedule.

The first concert I ever attended was Phil Collins at Madison Square Garden in the summer of 1994, when the memory of the Rangers’ Stanley Cup win was so fresh that the crowd twice spontaneously erupted into “Let’s Go Rangers” chants.  Since then, he’s toured several times and I barely took notice, but the prospect of seeing him at a smaller venue is slightly intriguing.  Allow me to annotate the article I found about the show (and his new album, “Going Back”) and my real-time reactions as I read it:

“Atlantic recording artist Phil Collins has announced the forthcoming release of “GOING BACK,” a deeply personal labor of love [me: Oh, that’s promising.  His last “deeply personal labor of love” was an album on which he played every instrument, recorded 90% of it alone in his home studio, and produced some really interesting and high quality–though not especially catchy–music.  “Face Value” was a “deeply personal labor of love,” and that’s one of the greatest, most emotionally visceral records ever recorded, the artistic peak of Phil’s solo career.] that finds the eight-time Grammy winner faithfully recreating the Motown and soul music that played such an influential role in his creative life.” [me: Oh.  Oh no.  This is going to be terrible.]

The article includes this quote from Phil: “My idea, though, was not to bring anything ‘new’ to these already great records, but to try to recreate the sounds and feelings that I had when I first heard them.”

So he’s doing an album of Motown standards, faithful to the original recordings.  Sigh.  Rod Stewart, meet Phil Collins.  He, too, has given up.

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NHL: Yet again we are talking about headshots

April 17, 2010 Hockey, In The News Comments (0) 262

Andy Sutton’s hit on Jordan Leopold in last night’s Senators-Penguins game nicely illustrates that the new “lateral backpressure” rule doesn’t address the NHL’s real problem. Skip ahead to the one minute mark for a good slow-motion look.

I have one problem, and one problem only, with this hit – but it’s a big problem. Andy Sutton very intentionally and deliberately targets Leopold’s head.  Leopold is clearly in a vulnerable position and doesn’t see Sutton coming, which means Sutton can apply any hit he chooses – and he chooses to avoid contact with Leopold’s body and hit only the head.  Notice the way Sutton spins off of Leopold into the boards?  That type of spin-off is the same you see in a head-on car crash, where one swerving driver is trying to avoid the collision and doesn’t quite make it. Notice that term trying to avoid, because that’s really what Sutton does here.  He specifically tries to avoid Leopold’s body, so that he can transfer all of his energy into Leopold’s head.

Sutton’s defenders point out, correctly, that Leopold had his head down, that Sutton kept his elbow at his side, that this is not a “lateral backpressure” hit, but a head-on (no pun intended) open-ice hit, and that based on those criteria this is currently a legal NHL hit, a “hockey play” as has become popular vernacular recently.  This is all true, but I counter that this should not be a legal NHL hit for one simple, clear reason: a hit that specifically targets the head (solely or primarily) is, and should always be regarded as, intent to injure.

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Further argument against NHL headshots

March 9, 2010 Hockey, In The News Comments (0) 460

The aftermath of Sunday’s Matt Cooke head-shot on Marc Savard has left Savard with an uncertain future and the NHL mired in controversy yet again.  Coming just a day before a meeting of General Managers, the Cooke hit was one more point in an argument the players have made very convincingly all season long that the league must do something to stop this madness.

I don’t read a lot of hockey blogs, but I read Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy fairly regularly, and I’m a little disappointed in his approach to this.  For one thing, he gets sidetracked, like a lot of die-hard hockey fans, by the fear that arguments like this one open the door for those who would, in Mike Milbury’s words, “pansify” the sport.  That fear leads him to argue too hard against the pansifiers, and he ends up defending what he should be condemning.

Wysh, I understand your concern.  We’re both hockey fans.  We both love physical, hard, grinding hockey.  We love that the playoffs are a battle of attrition where no player emerges unharmed.  We love what it requires for a person to be a hockey player.  Neither of us wants to see that change.  But as hockey fans, we have to be firm here: targeting the head has never been acceptable in the history of the NHL, and it is not acceptable now.

We may speculate as to why headhunting has become more prevalent– personally I think it’s a combination of the instigator rule diminishing the consequences and better equipment making hits to the body just play hurt less — but regardless of reason, this has become a plague on the NHL, and it’s up to the league to do something about it.

There are two points Wysh makes with which I take issue.  The first is that there is a big difference between the Cooke hit on Savard and the hit early in the season by Mike Richards on David Booth.  Wysh’s point is that the Cooke hit is just a plain old dirty play, while the Richards hit is a valid hockey play, an attempt to separate Booth from the puck.  I agree with this, and the distinction is important – but less important, to me, than what the two plays have in common.  In both cases, one player caught another player in a vulnerable position, and rather than applying a devastating body check, they chose to target the head, and only the head.

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The NHL has got to do something about headhunting.

March 7, 2010 Hockey, In The News Comments (4) 326

Still recovering from my septoplasty surgery, so I’ve spent most of this beautiful Philadelphia Sunday sitting inside watching NHL Center Ice.  I’ve just watched Marc Savard of the Bruins carried off the ice of Pittsburgh’s Mellon Arena on a stretcher, after left wing Matt Cooke tried to disconnect his head from his body.

Edit: new video below.  This one’s less dramatic and shows more context.

As is far too common these days, Cooke saw that Savard was vulnerable, came in from his blind spot, and hit Savard in such a way as to maximize impact to the head – and, as is almost as common, there was no penalty on the ice.  I expect Cooke will be suspended once the league reviews the hit, but in the meantime, the Bruins lose one of their most important offensive players, and the Penguins get to keep their two points.  Cooke will lose a few games worth of pay, but he will ensure job stability in the salary-cap era by being a guy who will “deliver a big hit.”

It seems rare these days to get through a single NHL game without one of these hits, and I have to say that it’s become disgusting.  I am a die-hard NHL fan, a defender of the hockey fight and the big hit, but I cannot stomach the way these players target each others’ heads, especially with the research that has recently been emerging about the long-term consequences of sports concussions.  While league officials and GMs debate the merits of penalizing this kind of play, athletes are seeing their lives shortened and worsened by plays that should never be allowed in any reputable league.

Meanwhile, international hockey leagues carefully protect the heads of their players.  As we recently saw in the Olympics, IIHF rules forbid players from playing without a helmet, and hand out swift justice for hits to the head.  I do feel that the IIHF goes too far (if a player wants to continue playing without his helmet, for instance, I don’t see why that should be penalized) but I do think the NHL needs to take action – definitive, clear action – to stop the headhunting that pollutes this league.

My proposed solution for the NHL is as follows:

(1) Any hit that either (a) contacts only the head or (b) contacts the head before any other part of the body, whether intentional or unintentional on the part of the player initiating the hit, should be a minor penalty.

(2) Any hit where, in the referee’s determination, the player initiating the hit deliberately (a) targetted only the head or (b) targetted the head before any other part of the body should be a match penalty.

At this point, I believe it is safe to say that these sorts of hits will result in injury.  Therefore, any player who intentionally hits in this fashion intends to injure the other player, which justifies a match penalty.

The main objection most people have to this argument is against the “unintentional” hits to the head.  My response is that the NHL already awards a two-minute power play when a player (a) breaks the stick of an opponent, even unintentionally, or (b) clears the puck out of play, even unintentionally.  I find it pretty hard to accept that a broken stick or puck out of play are less tolerable than a player’s health and career being risked with a hit to the head.

I have no wish to see hitting reduced in the NHL, but I do want to see these blind-side head-only or head-first hits stopped.  I am tired of the argument that any hit where a guy keeps his skates on the ice and his elbows down is a “clean hit.”  They are only “clean” because the rulebook says otherwise, which is a major oversight.  Hockey players know how devastating those types of hits are, or they wouldn’t throw them so often.  I do believe that a guy has to keep his head up, and I like to see the big hit against the player who watches his pass or skates with his head down across the blue-line – but I want that hit to be delivered to his body, or his hips, or his chest.  I don’t want to see another player victimize him by clipping him across the head.

Until the NHL does something drastic about this kind of play, nothing is going to change, and the game will continue to suffer for it.

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Sexting, and what it means to be a girl

February 1, 2010 ACLU, In The News, Politics / Religion Comments (0) 282

This post originally appeared on the ACLU’s Blog of Rights and the ACLU of Pennsylvania’s blog, Speaking Freely, on January 20.

On January 15, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit heard arguments in Miller, et al. v. Skumanick, a child pornography case that, oddly, involves no child pornography. The case goes back to 2006, when two girls aged 12 were photographed by another friend on her digital camera. The two girls were depicted from the waist up, wearing bras. In a separate situation, our third client was photographed as she emerged from the shower, with a towel wrapped around her waist and the upper body exposed. Neither of the photos depicted genitalia or any sexual activity or context. In 2008 the girls’ school district learned that these and other photos were circulating, confiscated several students’ cell phones, and turned the photos in question over to the Wyoming County district attorney, George Skumanick, Jr.

Skumanick sent a letter to the girls and their parents, offering an ultimatum. They could attend a five-week re-education program of his own design, which included topics like “what it means to be a girl in today’s society” and “non-traditional societal and job roles.” They would also be placed on probation, subjected to random drug testing, and required to write essays explaining how their actions were wrong. If the girls refused the program, the letter explained, the girls would be charged with felony child pornography, a charge that carries a possible 10-year prison sentence.

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Ashamed of my alma mater

September 29, 2009 In The News, Philly / Pennsylvania Comments (0) 338

Riot Police in Oakland

This past Thursday and Friday, armed riot police invaded the University of Pittsburgh’s main campus.  Ostensibly defending the visiting G-20 delegates meeting several miles away, these police in no way confined themselves to breaking up disruptions or protests.  They attacked and arrested students who were making casual use of campus facilities including the student union and the residence halls.  They trapped students between locked doors and police barricades and gassed or attacked them when they “refused to disperse.”  They arrested student journalists and legal observers.  They even invaded student housing, going to far as to arrest students for “refusal to disperse” within their own dorm rooms.

How has the University responded?  With outrage at the treatment of students making typical use of University and public property?  With warnings about overreaching police power and questions about closing an entire city to its residents because of a handful of visiting foreign nationals?  Not exactly.

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The shit hits the Brat Boy fans

November 16, 2007 Gay and Lesbian, In The News, Naked People, Politics / Religion, Pop Culture Comments (26) 3184

1084981162_l.jpgI’ve followed Brat Boy School, the home page of model/blogger/underwear spokesman Ethan Reynolds for quite some time. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a “fan” of Ethan’s, but he was pretty and I checked in fairly often to read posts about his love life, skin care regimen, workouts, recipes, and political views. Ethan was a pretty high-profile figure in the online gay community. I say was, because Brat Boy School crashed dramatically this week with a revelation: Ethan’s not real.

Well, to be fair, the person who goes by the name Ethan Reynolds is real, in the sense that he is the male model who appeared in photographs on the site. However, he did not write the blog; Rick Altman, his manager, wrote all of the entries. From what I can gather, “Ethan” (whose real name is apparently JR) really was boyfriend to porn-star-turned-underwear-spokesman Benjamin Bradley. They really were (are?) under contract with Ginch Gonch to be the “Ginch Gonch Boys.”
But beyond those facts, any details that appeared on the Brat Boy School blog were fictional.

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Pikapika: The U.S., August 6, and “Terrorism”

August 7, 2007 History, Politics / Religion Comments (4) 475

Brad posted yesterday about the significance of August 6: the fall of the Holy Roman Empire, Jamaican independence, the passage of the Voting Rights Act, Bush ignoring warnings that might have prevented the 9/11 tragedy, and this:

In 1945 the United States, in the biggest act of terrorist violence in history, became the first nation to drop a nuclear weapon on, you know, people when they destroyed Hiroshima, killing tens of thousands and probably over 100,000 people. Go USA!

I just wanted to expound on that a bit more, because I don’t think most Americans really appreciate the deep meaning behind the Hiroshima bomb and the mark it left on the US legacy, nor do they know some of the most important facts.

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