Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fun with Statistics

On Football Eve, we thought it appropriate to revisit one of our more controversial, if brilliant, prognostications. Way back in April, when the lockout was the talk of the land and labor lawyers got more screen time than John Clayton's ponytail, I told you that Greg McElroy would be a better pro than Cam Newton.

And while I hate to say I told you so, with a substantial sample size to evaluate, the facts seem incontrovertible. McElroy's completed 33 of 53 passes for 306 yards and 2 touchdowns, good for a 90.6 passer rating. Meanwhile, Newton's only connected on 21 of 52 attempts for 275 yards and no scores. His 57.8 rating hovers right around the JaMarcus Line.

Normally reticent Jets coach Rex Ryan was effusive in his praise of his rookie signal-caller after a hard-fought loss to the Texans. “I like McElroy,” Ryan said. “It looked like for a minute to me we were trying to find out how tough that kid was, and I think we found out.” McElroy was sacked 5 times in the game.

Newton, meanwhile, has some work to do, according to ESPN blogger Christopher Harris. "Cam Newton's preseason performance against the Cincinnati Bengals last Thursday was a quart of sour milk with a spoonful of sugar sprinkled in," wrote Harris, describing Newton's performance against the Bengals as "a series of misreads and poor throws".

We're not quite ready to call this one yet, but with a number of precincts reporting, our peerless record of fearless forecasting seems to be intact.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Music Month Continues: A Star-Spangled Rodeo

Like most Tuesdays in the U.S., today offers a handful of newly released albums for your perusal and potential enjoyment. Sample some new output from the likes of Juliana Hatfield, Robert Earl Keen, or Lenny Kravitz, or perhaps the latest live album from Counting Crows (for Rob). Then tell me how they are, as I haven’t heard any of them. I actually can recommend a few items among today’s releases:
  • Mike Doughty, Yes and Also Yes (especially “Na Na Nothing”)
  • John Doe, Keeper
  • Beirut, “Santa Fe”
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers, I’m With You (Frusciante is gone, the sound isn’t. This album isn’t up there with Mother’s Milk, BSSM, or Californication, but it’s as decent as their last couple. Try the mellow “Brendan’s Death Song” or the messy “Monarchy of Roses.”)
The record I aim to highlight, however, isn’t any of these, and I’m as surprised as anyone at my selection. In the last week or so, we brought up our first favorite songs in the G:TB comments, and Rob remembered “Rhinestone Cowboy.” As I mentioned briefly at the time, Glen Campbell recently divulged that he has Alzheimer’s Disease, and he’s coupling the release of this album today, Ghost on the Canvas, with one more time back on the road to his horizon, something he’s plainly calling The Goodbye Tour.

The backdrop to such a record changes the way one listens to it, similarly to how Warren Zevon fans heard The Wind; even though Zevon had been singing about death for decades, “Keep Me In Your Heart” still gives the knowledgeable listener a little pause. Critics are going to go easier on Campbell in their reviews, and there’s almost more incentive to hearing and liking the music. I’ll be as guilty of sentimental kid gloves, undoubtedly.

The thing is, Glen Campbell, while a mainstay of country and lite rock several decades ago, never was a true heavyweight. I always liked him well enough, probably because my stepdad looked just liked him, even dressing up as him for Halloween. But Glen Campbell was just a handsome guy with a good voice who had some big hits in overly sentimentalized, over-produced, string-laced Southern pop. (And he probably got laid a ton, at least until he got Bible-fied in the 80's after too much partying.)

Those pop songs worked at the time, and they still find their way onto the airwaves emanating from your parents’/grandparents’ radio stations: “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston,” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” (never, ever to be confused with “By the Time I Get to Arizona”) for the laid-back country folk in the 60’s; the cover of Allen Toussaint’s “Southern Nights” and the aforementioned “Rhinestone Cowboy” for yacht-rockin' AM listeners in the 70’s. But they don’t necessarily hold up as well as a lot of the music from the same era.

Meanwhile, for the most part, Glen Campbell has always relied on the likes of Jimmy Webb or other songwriters to craft his tunes for him; that’s not the hugest knock, for as Barenaked Ladies sang about the New Kids on the Block, “So we may not write the songs we sing / But Look at Elvis, he sold his soul and you crowned him King.” (Wow, that there’s a musical mélange.) Campbell did play with the Beach Boys in the 1960’s, but he was more Bruce Johnston than Brian Wilson. (He was no Mike Love, to be sure.)

As such, even given the backstory that might skew judgment, it’s no blasphemy to compare this record favorably to his heyday hits. I won’t use the silly subjective word “better” to describe this new album; I’ll say it’s certainly more “accessible” to the modern listener than the old stuff is, and better than I would have figured. He does have the benefit of modern production and new content imbued with an empassioned focus like I haven’t heard since The Rising. Glen Campbell also still has his voice. And songwriters like Paul Westerberg and Jakob Dylan in his arsenal now, though he actually inked a bit of this album.

And the truth is that it's a good story. The tandem of Pat Summitt and Glen Campbell gives hope to a whole lot of people going through one of the most trying twilight chapters I can conjure. Hell, for as long as he can, I hope the Rhinestone Cowboy continues to keep making music rather than going the Richard Farnsworth route. We're on the eve of a period when, more than ever, hard-partying rock stars are dying of old age, for lack of a better way to put it. From Robert Johnson and Hank Sr. to Keith Moon and Kurt Cobain, we know how to reflect when music icons put themselves in a early grave and waste talent. Well, here's to the seniors, launched most successfully by the Man in Black, busking heartily for one last quarter on death's doorstep.

Bottom line: the album’s pretty good. Worth a listen, especially for those who’ve lost or are losing someone great.

Balance, G:TB-Style

Political scientist Louis Rene Beres offers a learned take on a problem we've lamented often, comparing our current political climate with the Platonic philosopher-king ideal and finding us woefully lacking:
In American politics, no one any longer expects what Ralph Waldo Emerson had once called “high thinking.” Rather, the celebrity politician draws huge audiences (and donors) although very few would ever expect to hear anything of substance. In our national politics of veneered truths, whenever a candidate’s spoken words seethe with vacant allusions and blatant equivocations, the crowd nods approvingly, and leaps with satisfaction.

It is comforting enough for these audiences to bask in the warmth of someone “famous.” In the absurd theatre of American politics, the key protagonists continue to play their stock parts with contrived zeal and ambition, but also without any true capacity. As for the chorus, we have rehearsed our lines just as well, but we now utter them viscerally, as if by rote. Understandably, our exuberant shouts of approbation lack credibility. After all, they have been reduced to ritual incantations...

Many of our national heroes were once created by commendable achievement. Today, the successful politician is fashioned by a system that is refractory to all wisdom, a system that is sustained by banality, empty chatter, and half knowledge. Now, at a time when leadership incapability could pave the way to bioterrorism, “dirty bombs,” or even outright nuclear attack, our relentless transformations of politics into amusement has become far more than a mere matter of foolishness or bad taste...

Plato’s “philosopher king” may not be a practicable standard for American electoral politics, but it surely can’t hurt to keep such a potentially enviable measure somewhere in mind. At a minimum, such a recollection could remind us of how far we have already strayed.
Also, in keeping with our editorial tradition, this:

Monday, August 29, 2011

"Yes" was the start of my last jam

This title of this song properly sums up my experience with Hurricane Irene.

The morning before the storm, zsister-in-law freaked out zwoman, causing zwoman to send me to the grocery store. I live around the corner from a D'Agastino, one of the worst grocery chains on the planet, but I figured it would suffice for milk, frozen food, a bag of apples, pasta, etc. The line was insanely long, much too long to wait for terrible produce, so I went up the street to Food Emporium. If you've never heard of Food Emporium, it was the fanciest supermarket chain in the northeast until Bread and Circus and Whole Foods arrived. It's a step above Harris Teeter but not quite Whole Foods. It was nothing like this:

It was, in fact, like this:

And this:

The photos make the place look big but they don't do it justice. It's massive. It's their flagship location. I suspect that whoever designed the floorplan also runs CVS, because they only have five registers. Five. This is why you only see a few lines of people in the photos. Everyone else is standing in a pool of humanity back by the frozen foods and the yogurt.

Their yogurt selection is daunting. I just get the cheapest fat free stuff they have, which is their store brand and also happens to be organic. But they easily have 25 different brands of yogurt to choose from, based on milk from at least two different species of animal. As I commented that day, all the organic Greek goat's milk yogurt was gone. Shortly after I made that comment, a kid showed up with a bunch of the creamy stuff and restocked the shelf. As soon as he moved away from the counter, hordes of stylish young women with Burberry umbrellas, Torry Burch wellingtons, and eating disorders attacked the display.

I waited on the line for almost an hour, passing by all manner of interesting but expensive and ultimately unnecessary products, like this thing for storing half of an avocado. I saw two different people take one while waiting to pay for my stuff.

I also saw a stylish thirty-something woman frantically scour the display next to the salt display (they have infinite types of salt), and she made an elated face as her arm shot forward into the display and pulled back a bottle. She was only one person ahead of me, so when I got the the display I was able to determine with 100% accuracy that this is what she excitedly grabbed:

She got the second-to-last bottle of black truffle oil. Note that there was plenty of white truffle oil left, but everyone knows that stuff's only useful in a tornado. You need the black junk for a hurricane.

I finally checked out, went home, and made my famous Hungarian pasta: chop half a sopresetta into 1/4 inch cubes and sweat the fat out of them in a sauce pan over medium heat. Once you see a nice layer of oil in the pan, pour in a jar of four cheese pasta sauce -- the brand doesn't matter (in fact, the cheaper the better) but four cheese works the best. Simmer over medium low heat. Boil a box penne (I like the ones with the grooves on the sides to carry the sauce). Pour off the water, put the sauce with the sopresetta in the pot with the noodles, stir, eat. The leftovers will be even better than the original meal, just reheat and enjoy.

Then I cleaned up and met Marls and Marlsette for some drinks. Contrary to rob's fears, we found some absinthe:

I came home and eventually went to bed. When I awoke it was raining. I got some breakfast for zfamily at Hot Jumbo Bagels (which is the shit, anyone who goes to Tal Bagels for actual bagels is either an idiot or from Virginia) it rained until 10:30 am or so, and then it stopped. It was cloudy for the rest of the day.

And that's my story about the time Hurricane Irene hit New York City.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

G:TB Church

Say something nice to your fellow man, friends. And we're thinking good thoughts about you, NYC.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Here comes the story of The Hurricane

This video seems appropriate for live-blogging the current weather ... until someone else writes a real post.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Not Your Average Jimmy

Nels Cline is in. Keith Richards would be, too, if they'd asked him. TV on the Radio is on board. A little bit of Bob Marley, some Talking Heads, maybe. As yet another randomly placed Music Month winds down, soon to be replaced with next month's Music Month, we bring you Tinariwen, dropping science straight from North Africa. A reminder that rhythm, blues, and beat are universal things. Tassili, Tinariwan's new album, drops next Tuesday. Tell your friends, and revel in your worldbeat superiority.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Post-Quake Muppets Shenanigoats

We here at G:TB would like everything to return to normal post DC earthquake, so here is some hipster group called OK Go, which I'm sure some of you donks love, doing a remix of the Muppets Theme Song, because, unbeknownst to me, there is some new Muppet movie coming out starring Jason Segel. Can't Hollywood leave anything alone?

Monday, August 22, 2011

One More Reason Why You Can't Hate Brian Wilson

Anybody watching The Franchise on Showtime has seen a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff on Brian Wilson. Instead of loathing the man as a Rodman-like egomaniac, I find myself rooting for the guy even more. He's just a dude who realizes how ridiculous it is that he gets paid so much and has no need to behave normally. He works his ass off and he seems to be genuinely liked by his teammates. And by the men in the Castro district.

But we're not here to write on sports. We're here to provide links of endearing physically challenged guys who have become internet sensations in videos featuring cameos by baseball personalities like Brian Wilson and Cody Ross.

And this video isn't meant to give Rob any Halloween ideas, but he could ride on the coattails of this internet sensation (79 million hits and counting). He just needs to grow the hair out and get some goofy glasses. And keep it real in front of the camera.

Update: this fine, fine blog entry was written after Wilson was put on the DL, so the vailidity of the Gheorghe: The Jinx hypothesis does not hold here.

Urbont To Ghostface: "You Got Served"

Everyone knows that if you file a complaint in federal court, Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(a) requires that you serve the complaint and a summons on the defendant. Everyone also knows that if you cannot find the defendant, Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(e)(2) allows you to leave a copy of the summons and the complaint at the defendant's dwelling house or usual place of abode with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein.

Ghostface Killah is notoriously difficult to track down. He wore a mask when the Wu-Tang Clan first came out, allegedly because he was hiding his face because he was wanted by the police. This doesn't make a ton of sense -- if the cops heard that a wanted man was running around in a mask, and that said wanted man was a musician with a record deal, even Roscoe P. Coltrane could connect the dots and go to the record label to find out who signed the contract.

But I digress. Ghostface has a history of elusiveness, and it comes as no surprise that Jack Urbont came up emptyhanded when he went to serve Ghostdini at the Emerald City. Service was therefore effected by leaving the required documents with someone else residing at GFK's crib.

This is interesting for two reasons. First, the complaint and summons were left with Ghostface's son, Infinity. As in Infinity, not Infiniti. Although you could probably install an Infinity in your Infiniti, or defend your Infiniti with an Infinity, or insure your Infiniti through Infinity, or maybe if you catch something in the backseat of your Infiniti you can treat the sickness with something from Infinity. Whatever. I'm not sure if Infinity is the same son as Sun "he came out my dick" God, but either way Infinity is a pretty unusual name for a man. Indeed, I would even go so far as to characterize the name as somewhat effete. I guess this reflects more on the suitability of Ghostface's discretion than Infinity's so service was proper.

Second, Pretty Toney keeps it real. I won't post his address but he still lives in Staten Island and if Google street view is accurate, his abode lends futher credence to the idea that MC's exaggerate their splendor (e.g., Ghostface doesn't have a guest house).

The point? That Jack Urbont really might be a fan of hiphop. To wit, he can say that he served Ghostface.

Just like old times at Unit M.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Badass Chronicles

I'm reading Susan Casey's The Wave, an examination of the phenomenon of enormous waves from the perspectives of scientists, merchant mariners, and tow surfers. Alpha male Laird Hamilton is featured prominently in the book. Hamilton's ride of Teahupoo, a notoriously dangerous Tahitian break, detailed in this video lives in legend as one of the seminal moments in big-wave surfing history. It's also preposterously cool.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Gheorghe: the Jinx

We'd like to apologize. Exhaustive research by our team of sabremetricians has concluded that Gheorghe: the Blog has been contributing to Tim Wakefield's difficulty in securing his 200th career victory. See, we've had this post on ice since late July when Wake went 6 2/3 innings to beat the Mariners and record the 199th win of his 20-year big league adventure. (The fact that he gave up 10 hits and 7 earned runs in beating the M's is entirely fitting.) It appears that our premature postulation has stalled the knuckleballer's pursuit of the milestone, as he's failed to post a win in 4 starts since we drafted it, despite pitching into the the 7th inning or beyond in each of those outings.

Our bad.

Because accountability is one of the hallmarks of our editorial policy (it's the reason our ratings are outpacing those of the mainstream media by such a wide margin), we're here to rectify our error by posting in celebration of Tim Wakefield's 199th career win. Enjoy, then.

Even if I gave ten guesses, I'd wager than far fewer than 25% of sports fans would correctly identify the active major league leader in pitching wins. (Note: if you've read the information above this paragraph you'd have a reasonably good chance at being in that savvy minority.) Veteran Red Sox hurler and all around prince of a guy Tim Wakefield recorded his 199th career victory on July 24, pitching into the 7th inning as the Sox pounded the Seattle Mariners, 12-8. Since he broke in with the Pirates in 1992, only ten pitchers have recorded more wins*, and most of those guys are going to the Hall of Fame.

While I've said some things about Wake that I probably regret in the heat of the cover-your-eyes-afraid-to-watch moment, he's in my top 5 favorite athletes of all-time. When the stars aligned and his feel was on, watching Wakefield confound a lineup of professional hitters with his low-effort flutterballs was to be in the presence of a low-fi virtuoso. And even when things weren't going to plan, Wake's outings offered comic relief, none more so than Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS, when Jason Varitek allowed three knucklers to elude him in the top of the 13th inning before Wakefield eventually stranded Yankees on 2nd and 3rd base.

That 2004 season was special for Sox fans for so many reasons, but Wakefield's redemption was one of the best storylines. After Grady Little's inexplicable brain fart enabled the Yankees to tie the game, Wake surrended Aaron Boone's walk-off series winner. It seemed at the time impossibly cruel. And when the Sox won the World Series just one year later, I wrote the following despite the fact that Wakefield didn't pitch very well at all in that Series against the Cardinals:
Now, though, I'm thinking about Tim Wakefield. Of all the Sox on this team, all the magnificent idiots who will go down as legends, Tim Wakefield is the one for whom I'm happiest. His grief after last year's ALCS loss, after he stood on his head for 2 games before finally failing against Aaron Boone, was the single worst part of that series. That this guy who has been so unselfishly team-oriented for so long had to spend the last year agonizing over 1 pitch is cosmically unfair. That he now has a World Series ring is spectacular payback.
Wakefield is 7 wins away from tying the Texas Con Man and Cy Young for first place on the Red Sox' all-time wins list (and he's well ahead of the second guy on the Sox' all-time losses list). He's played every role possible on a pitching staff, glamorous and dirty alike, and played them each without complaint or self-aggrandizement. After being nominated more than a half-dozen times, he won the 2010 Roberto Clemente Award, given to the player who both excels on the field and gives back to his community. In an era and a business full of me-first assholes, all Wake ever did was show up every day, do his job the best way he knew how, take responsibility when he failed, praise his teammates when he succeeded, and go home without fanfare.

If there's truly a Baseball God, he'll let Wake hang on long enough to record 8 more W's. But if we're looking at the standings for the best human beings to wear the Olde Towne Team's uniform, I don't think we need to go very far down the list to get to Tim Wakefield.

*Here are the ten pitchers to record more wins than Wakefield since 1992:

Greg Maddux (280)
Mike Mussina (266)
Randy Johnson (259)
Tom Glavine (252)
Andy Pettitte (240)
Jamie Moyer (233)
Roger Clemens (220)
Pedro Martinez (219)
Curt Schilling (212)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I was emailed this pic, with a specific request that it be this morning's filler, with just that title and no other text. So ignore this text.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Rare Eddie Rabbitt-Related Post

If you're ever in Park Slope between the hours of 5 pm an 8 pm with some time to kill, I strongly suggest that you visit Brooklyn Fish Camp to take advantage of their happy hour featuring two-for-one beers and an excellent $5 menu. Because it's in Brooklyn they have hipster staffers who like to play ironic 80's music, but I was there with two of my music aficionado friends and we enjoyed dissecting the relative merits of Eddy Grant and Flock of Seagulls. I was especially jazzed when "I Love a Rainy Night" came on because it's the first song I ever considered to be my favorite song, and then we started the "What was your first favorite song game" which evolved into variations such as the "What was the first CD you bought game" and the "What was the first song you remember hating game" and so on. I now invite you to the comments to participate in whatever variation of the game you choose.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Whose Throne Are We Watching? A Review of "Watch The Throne" in Three Parts.

I. Internet Outrage

We here at Gheorghe: The Blog disapprove of platitudes. One of my least favorites is any sentence starting with "In today's economic climate ..." because it can be used to justify anything and, simultaneously, nothing.

There is some outrage on the internet regarding the in-your-face consumerism of "Watch The Throne." The arguments generally go that Jay-Z and Kanye West are acting irresponsibly when they brag about their wealth in today's economic climate. Ridiculous. For the following reasons.

First, Jay-Z is famous because he makes excellent songs bragging about how successful he is, either as a drug-dealer-turned-rapper, or as a drug-dealer-turned-rapper-turned-mogul. His discography is peppered with tracks about his mom or growing up without a father, but for the most part he is successful because he rhymes about his success (his success is thus self-perpetuating, which is why he's brilliant). This involves, in large part, describing his vast wealth in terms of the shit he can buy. He's been doing this for years. Hell, he started out with a song that concludes with "Pushin' hundred thousand dollar cars." And I love that song.

Now he's irresponsible for doing what he's been doing for 15 years? Shouldn't he stop bragging about how much crack he used to sell? Wouldn't that be responsible?

Second, when did we start expecting decorum and propriety from Kanye West?

Third, neither of these guys really owns most of the shit they rhyme about. For example, on "Who Gon Stop Me" Jay-Z has a line about "2 seats in the 911". A 911 has four seats.

Furthermore, neither makes enough to buy an island or a Gulfstream. Jay-Z made $37 million last year while Kanye made $16 million. That's A-Rod and AJ Burnett money, respectively. A-Rod doesn't own a fucking island. He lives in the building next to zsister-in-law, and the cheap bastard uses the gym in zsister-in-law's building (with Cameron Diaz; apparently it's a religious experience to see her in yoga pants). You think AJ Burnett owns a fucking Gulfstream? Please.

When Jay-Z rides in a Gulfstream it's the one owned by his record label. He's too smart to piss away $50 million on a plane, plus $1 million a year to pay for a pilot, fuel, maintenance, storage, and so on. He's supposed to be a genius businessman, and those guys don't fly on their own dime.

Fourth, since when did bragging and boasting about untrue shit become irresponsible in hiphop? For the record, The S1W's did not break Chuck D out of jail. Similarly, Chuck D and Rakim did not break KRS-ONE out of jail. Ad Rock didn't do it to the sheriff's daughter with a wiffle ball bat. Slick Rick never actually found crabs with spears and Indian drums in a woman's vagina. Kwame is not the man we all know and love.

Fifth, if you really want to get pissed off, you should take umbrage in the fact that an allegedly hard-boiled former crack dealer and his partner-in-rhyme are recreational shoppers. That's an effette passtime for two supposed badasses.

Sixth, who wants to listen to rhymes about austerity? Do you want 16 bars about buying rubbers using a flexible spending account ("I get my jimmy hats / 20 per box pre-tax")? Or saving money by riding a bicycle to the studio ("Keep my Ferrari at home / Take my Schwinn to the Terrordome")? Maybe a ditty about buying in bulk ("My girl knows I'm the boss though / She buys my steaks at Costco")?

No one wants to hear about that. Ask KRS-ONE, he already tried it. We would see a resurgance in "Edutainment" album sales if people expected fiscally responsible lyrics from their MC's. But we don't because they don't.

So stop trying to sound deep by making something out of nothing.

II. The Album

I didn't enjoy the album that much. Six tracks stand out: Otis, That's My Bitch, Murder to Excellence, Why I Love You, Primetime, and The Joy. The remaining tracks are heavy and plodding. There are a few great lines like "Rubbing the wood like Kiki Shepard," "She in her birthday suit cause of the damn cake," "Seeds in the ganja had it poppin like the sample that I'm rhymin' with," "I hit the club, ordered some Grey Goose / Switched it for Ciroc to give Puff’s stock a boost," and "Could have been a chemist cause I cook smart." But there were some clunkers too, like "Fly pelican fly" and "I need a slow motion video right now / Cause I’m moving in slow motion slow motion".

Basquiat is name-checked in two different songs, not sure why. "H-A-M," an acronym for Hard As a Motherfucker, is oddly reminiscent of Mickey Avalon's "My Dick" with a bizarre opera singer looped over top of it. "New Day," produced by the RZA, features an inexcusably autotuned Nina Simone sample. I love Nina Simone. She sang beautifully. There is no logical, sonic, or artistic reason to autotune Nina Simone. In producing the beat for "That's My Bitch," Q-Tip sampled "Get Up Get Into It Get Involved" and "Apache". He should have gone for the trifecta and worked in "The Big Beat" somehow.

I simply wasn't too impressed overall.

III. The Concept?

I may be giving Kanye and Hova too much credit, but I think that "Watch The Throne" could be a veiled concept album. Almost every track references another famous song by black artists. "Otis" reworks lines from "Top Billin". "That's My Bitch" samples "Get Up Get Into It Get Involved" in exactly the same way as "Brothers Gonna Work It Out" and quotes "Monie in the Middle". "Murder to Excellence" has lines that parallel "Nutmeg". "Gotta Have It" is almost the same title as "I Got To Have It," a great song by Ed O.G. and the Bulldogs. [Upon further review, "fly pelican fly" is a line from "Off the Books" by the Beatnuts.] And there are the obvious samples from classic soul artists like Otis Redding, Curtis Mayfield, James Brown, and Nina Simone.

Perhaps the throne we're supposed to watch isn't Kanye's or Jay's, and instead it belongs to all the black musicians that came before them? Because without the efforts of those that came before, Jay-Z and Kanye wouldn't be able to buy all this fantastic stuff?

Wouldn't that be a pretty responsible message in today's economic climate?

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Worst Song You'll Hear Today - Reader Submission

Courtesy of FOG:TB Squeaky I learned that some guy named Lloyd released this song:

That pussy done changed? That Andre 3000 is involved in this ode to a tittery-whoppet is a travesty. In what way can a pussy done be changed? Did some other guy stretch it out so that brachyphallic folks like Lloyd can no longer enjoy it? Is it now herpetic? Syphilitic? Raddled? Prone to aerocolpos? It's unclear.

And it's a Duffy ripoff. If you're going to steal from a British blue eyed soul sister, go for Winehouse or Adele.

The Music Contest Thickens

A few days ago, The Almighty Yojo announced The First Annual G:TB Song Contest. The Yojo provided a song and some lyrics to get the entrants started, and challenged someone out there in the G:TB Universe to do a better job covering his creation.

A few people asked The Yojo if he could provide a guitar track of the song without the Yojo's unadorned and rather raw vocals. When The Yojo is asked, The Yojo provides. Here is a scratch track, not only with guitar, but also some drums and bass. Click on the link, and you can download it as an MP3 and then load it into Garage Band or some similar program and sing along. Good luck and have fun.

Monks and Naked Ladies No Vocals by The Density

Here is the unusual thing. The people who expressed interest in the song were Rob and Squeaky. The person who did NOT express interest in the song was The Almighty Yojo's old bandmate, Whitney. Nor has Whitney used the microphone that The Almighty Yojo sent him several months ago in the mail. The Almighty Yojo is afraid that this has become more than a Song Contest. It has become a digital audition.

The Almighty Yojo is certainly flexible. In fact, he'll let anyone willing into his band. Especially if that person can sing. He is also aware that digital technology makes it possible to have a virtual band. We are not constrained by distance. In fact, he's been pestering Whitney to pursue this for years. But to no avail.

How will this turn out? Will Rob or Squeaky be the Sammy Hagar to Whitney Lee Roth? Stay tuned to Music Season to find out.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Worst Song You Will Hear Today

This is hip hop "phenomenon" Rich Hil, also known as Tommy Hilfiger's spoiled son. He is a 21 year-old kid who just got signed to a record label. He likes to rap feebly, brag about smoking pot and show off bad tattoos. He also has problems keeping his blunt lit for the duration of his music video.

Note to aspiring hip hop stars: If you're gonna keep it real with a blunt in your video, make sure you have a guy in your posse who can roll one that will stay lit for four minutes. It ain't hard. So I have heard.

This Changes Everything

According to the Albuquerque Journal, the mayor of Sunland Park, NM may have hit a vein of legal brilliance that promises to set a far-reaching precedent for men (and perhaps a few women) around the globe. From Talking Points Memo's recap of the story:
Ever have one of those nights where you wake up with a hangover and $1 million worth of architecture contracts?
No? Martin Resendiz (D), the Mayor of Sunland Park, New Mexico, certainly has.

According to court documents, Resendiz admitted in a June 2010 deposition that he was drunk when he signed nine contracts with the architectural design firm Synthesis+ for $1 million worth of work.
Resendiz is claiming that the contracts are null and void as a result of his inebriation, and he just may be right. At this very moment, Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan are seeking credible witnesses to swear that they were half a bottle deep in a bottle of Knob Creek during debt ceiling negotiations, while President Obama and Joe Biden are back-dating pictures of themselves smoking a bong with Nancy Pelosi. Frankly, more politicians should conduct business this way.

And think about the implications to society at large should Resendiz get off the hook. We've all got friends who took liberties with female guests who weren't their girlfriends whilst in college, right? (And distaff pals who have their own version of the story - let's not kid ourselves.) How much time and energy did these friends waste trying to cover their tracks or grovel for forgiveness, when all this time they could've walked tall as free men, simply by stating the obvious?

"I was drunk. Can't be held responsible."

Daniel Snyder's slapping his forehead somewhere. (Though, sadly, Jim Zorn doesn't really understand what we're getting at.) Bill Clinton, too. And the legions who'll read this can thank us later. The world will be a much better place if we can put an end to the coverups, the exhausting excuse-making, and move forward in the gin-soaked clarity Martin Resendiz provides us.

Cheers, my friends.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Musical Contest for a Musical Season: Monks and Naked Ladies

In honor of Music Month, The Almighty Yojo is sponsoring The First Annual G:TB Song Contest. Hopefully, it will be just as successful as The First Annual Circus Peanut Diorama Contest.

Let me explain the premise. The Yojo recently wrote a new song and was beginning to record it in the usual Yojo style: layered flanged guitars, spliced film and interview clips, fragmented drum beats, distorted voices, and psychedelic effects. Though never completely warranted, these devices do certainly fit the content of the new song, which is called "Monks and Naked Ladies."

Plus, The Yojo-- like Gibby Haynes from The Butthole Surfers-- sincerely enjoys warping the sonic structure of every note in his musical productions. According to Michael Azerrad's book Our Band Could Be Your Life, when an interviewer asked Butthole Surfers guitarist Paul Leary why Haynes electronically manipulated his voice so much, Leary explained, "It's just because, y'know, he's got knobs and he can do it. It's like, why does a dog lick its balls?" And then Haynes added his take: "It's probably just my need to express my multiple personalities."

The Almighty Yojo agrees wholeheartedly and concurrently with both Haynes and Leary. And so does Mr. Truck and Dave (The Yojo interviewed them both on the subject).

But this time around, it's going to be different. This time the Almight Yojo is offering an unadorned song to the readers of G:TB. It is simply The Yojo and a guitar. One take. No effects (besides a little reverb) and no overdubs. No guitar solos or pitch shifted voices. The Yojo's unadorned voice is not pretty, but it should get the melody across. The Yojo will also provide lyrics and chords. And, in honor of Music Season, The Yojo is giving this song to the internet, and hoping the internet gives back to G:TB. The Yojo should also point out that these lyrics are full out fantastic-- both in quality and theme-- and they need a singer better than the Yojo to do them justice. A singer that transports you to another world. Perry Farrell. Jeff Mangum. Someone like that. Not The Almighty Yojo. One of the benefits of being Almighty is that you can see your own flaws. The Almighty Yojo is nothing but humble. He knows his limitations and is hoping that someone like Chris Cornell or Robert Plant will exceed them.

Do you hear this, Robert Plant?

The contest is this: record the song. Do a better job than The Yojo. You can use The Yojo's chords and melody . . . or not. You can use The Yojo's lyrics. Or not. Who gives a flying fuck? It's a song contest. Be creative. Once you've recorded your song, post it on SoundCloud or some other music sharing site (SoundCloud is free and particularly easy to upload tracks) and send us the link. The G:TB Music Department will evaluate your song, offer appropriate criticism, and see if anyone can unseat The Almight Yojo. And The Grand Prize will be a full post about your recording.

Do not scoff at The Grand Prize. A plug and an extensive review by the G:TB Musical Staff is worth far more than a bevy of hot groupies. I guarantee that a positive critique by the wordsmiths here at G:TB will propel you to rock stardom. Or not (but Greasetruck will always appreciate Whitney's putting The Bear on his top songs of 2009).  But don't think Whitney is strictly complimentary . . . you certainly don't want to make his list. And you don't want to make  Dave's list either-- unless you're TJ.

If your recording is especially epic, you might pass TR's goosebump test, but that's a tough goal to shoot for. It might be easier to impress Rob, as he sets the bar pretty low. (They don't call him The Upright Limbo Champ for nothing). You might have trouble winning the favor of Zman and Mark unless you get a little urban with your beats, but it would certainly be worth it, because they really know their hip-hop (in fact, I'm listening to Brother Ali right now).

Here is my straight ahead recording of "Monks and Naked Ladies." The Yojo hopes you are inspired.

Monks and Naked Ladies by The Density

And here are the lyrics and chords. You might notice some epic allusions . . . to Coleridge and Melville and William Blake . . . hopefully your voice is monumental enough to pull it off. But if not, who cares? At least you gave it a shot. Just like The Yojo. And, of course, the Yojo will be getting to work on a typical Almighty Yojo recording of the song-- and the Yojo is going to lick his balls and use all the knobs at his disposal-- so you better get busy.

Monks and Naked Ladies

A 7
Once when I was lonely
I journeyed to the ocean--
motion trumps emotion
for Ishmael and me.
And on the sunless bayside,
a woman told me something
while she shucked an oyster,
a half baked prophesy:

                   A          G          F
She said, “You will not go home . . .
 A              G          F   
you were born to roam.”

I asked her how she knew this
and she handed me a package.
I tore the wrapping open,
inside there was an address.

A             G          F
“You will not go home,
you were born to roam.
C               A#          G#    
Seek the pleasure dome,
a stately pleasure dome.
C                 A#         F
Find this pleasure dome.”

I’ll spare you all the details,
but trust me that I found it.
There were monks and naked ladies
and an emerald moat around it.

A stately pleasure dome.
This would be my home.

And if you need an answer,
then there’s one that I can give:
avoid the road to excess . . .
find a simple way to live.

Also in the package
was a little yellow fortune.
I had a wise man translate,
this is just a portion:

it said . . .

Cultivate your vices,
F#                                      G
make sure to treat them right.
Scatter them like spices
F#                                 G       
through your mundane life,

Bm                               C
because the end is near . . .
the end is near . . .

In fact, the end is here.

Star Power

Jay Z and Kanye may be getting most of the headlines this week, but another collaboration between superstars catches my fancy. Courtesy of the Zman, here are Cee-Lo Green and FOG:TB Jaleel White making magic.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Ghost Is Back

For weeks I checked PACER daily, gleefully hoping to get my hands on Ghostface's answer to Jack Urbont's complaint. Then I had a busy stretch involving a 3-year-old's birthday party, dinner with my in-laws, and a trip to the pediatrician. I didn't check PACER for a few days, and BAM, Ghostface dropped a Motion to Dismiss. Ghost is back! And I missed it. Family always gets in the way of the important stuff.

As all you civ pro heads know, a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss is filed before an answer. Such a motion is based on the premise that the plaintiff's complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Or as Ghostface would say, your beef is some triflin-ass bullshit, now get in line, 'fore you get your lil thick ass tossed up!

Ghostface's lawyers fortunately didn't put it that way. In a very nicely laid out brief, they explain why all claims are barred by the relevant statutes of limitations, except for the federal copyright claims which are limited to sales that occurred after May 21, 2007, based on a tolling agreement Sony entered into with Mr. Urbont and the relevant statute of limitations. They take Mr. Urbont's assertion that he's too old to know about rap music and piss all over it using case law, industry publications, album reviews, and Mr. Urbont's own arguments. In short, they argue that if Mr. Urbont really derives most of his income from licensing his music, and if he is such an experienced composer, why doesn't he read Billboard, Rolling Stone, or any other relevant industry publication to make sure no one's busting his loops? Poisonous darts indeed.

Equally entertaining is the section in which they vitiate Mr. Urbont's fraudulent concealment claims. Mr. Urbont claims that Ghostface hid the fact that Supreme Clientele sampled Mr. Urbont's song because the liner notes don't credit Mr. Urbont. Counsel for Ghostface (of whom I am painfully jealous) noted that Mr. Urbont claims that he's too old to know about rap music, and conclude that under this rationale crediting Mr. Urbont in the liner notes wouldn't be sufficient to put Mr. Urbont on notice. The part that made me go "daaaaamn" was this:

[I]n order for Urbont to have been misled by the absence of any mention on the liner notes of Supreme Clientele, he would have had to (1) buy and open a copy of Supreme Clientele, (2) read teh several pages of liner notes, and (3) choose not to listen to the album .... Whether or not the liner notes more specifically mentioned the Iron Man Theme or Urbont himself, it would have been unreasonable for him not to listen to the album after purchasing it and opening it.

In other words, if the album itself isn't sufficient to put you on notice, how in the hell would the liner notes put you on notice?

I'm sure that Mr. Urbont's team will prepare an equally persuasive responsive brief. I'll let you know what happens next.

Special bonus

If an intrepid copyright owner really wanted to get his statutory damages freak on, he'd go after the guy who did this:

Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

Our analysis of run-first quarterbacks was a resounding success, drawing praise from notoriously sharp critics like Wheelhouse Jerry and ... well ... no one else, but praise from Jerry is a big deal. As promised, our follow-on Part II analyzes the relative merits of shoot-first point guards (SFPG).

After searching for guards with more than 3000 assists since 1990, Mark winnowed out players who should not be considered to be point guards. This gave us 41 players. As before, the peculiarities of the website's search engine only gave players who amassed more than 3000 assists since 1990, so guys like Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas weren't included. I then back-filled the career stats for players who started before 1990.

The traditional primary role of a point guard is to distribute the ball, so SFPG will be point guards who shoot more and pass less than other point guards. Passing is reflected by the assist statistic, so SFPG should have a higher ratio of field goal attempts to assits than other point guards. I divided everyone's career FGA by their career AST and got this:

(Right click on any image in this post and open it in a new window for a larger version.)

Here's the histogram and bar chart for the hard-core numbers junkies:

As an aside, John Stockton is the only Hall of Famer in this analysis. I don't know if that's because point guards haven't been good over the last 20+ years, or if it's hard to get into the Hall as a point guard, but I was surprised. By contrast, there were 6 HOF'ers in the RFQB comparison.

For purposes of this analysis, I'll define SFPG as a point guard with a FGA:AST ratio of 2.0 or higher. This gives us Rafer Alston, Baron Davis, Chauncey Billups, Derek Harper, Stephon Marbury, Gary Payton, Sam Cassell, Mike Bibby, Tony Parker, Steve Francis, David Wesley, Derek Fisher, and Anfernee Hardaway. I'll also include Damon Stoudamire, Nick Van Exel, and Terrell Brandon because they're practically at 2.0. None of this matters though because as in the RFQB piece I won't make any efforts to highlight these players in the graphs.

I converted everyone's FGA, AST, and PTS to a per-12 minute basis. I know that the standard convention is per-36 minutes but I like 12 better because it's one quarter. For these purposes it doesn't matter anyway because all of these variables will just be plotted along an axis and multiplying them by any random number won't change the plot. I think.

I assumed that players who take more shots have a higher FG%, particularly because all the players in this analysis stuck around in the league long enough to amass 3000 assists. Surprisingly, shot rate has nothing to do with FG%:

This is where Mark's theory starts to gel. Baron Davis takes about 5 shots per quarter and makes just over 2 of them. Those 3 missed shots are 3 wasted opportunities for someone else to score. Eric Snow is a similarly shitty shooter, but he takes about half as many shots and thus has half as many wasted opportunities.

It seems odd that GM's would continue to employ players who shoot and miss a lot. I would think that if a PG takes a lot of shots, you wouldn't keep him on your team unless he makes a lot of those shots. But what do I know.

Derek Fisher is interesting. His FGA:AST ratio makes him a SFPG, but he only takes about 3.5 shots per quarter. His FG% is a paltry 40.1%, so he misses about 2.1 shots per quarter. As we'll see in a bit, he generates less than 1.5 AST per quarter. Really an odd player.

FG% and FGA/AST are unrelated:

As we saw earlier, a PG's ability to shoot is not related to his propensity to shoot, and I guess it makes sense that a PG's ability to shoot is not related to his passing skill. Hence this blob of a graph.

Unsurprisingly, the players with the lowest FGA:AST ratio have the most assists per 12 minutes:

Also unsurprising is the fact that the players with the highest FGA:AST have the most shot attempts per quarter:

Derek Fisher, however, is surprising. Despite being a SFPG he only takes 3.5 shots per quarter. So dude doesn't get many assists nor does he take many shots, and when he takes a shot he isn't likely to make it. I wish I had his job and his $57 million in career earnings. To be fair, he shoots the 3 pretty well:

In fact, all SFPG shoot the 3 pretty well compared to all the other PG in this graph. I suspect that this is why they are able to stick around long enough to amass 3000 assists. I also suspect that this is why they shoot so much -- they are in love with their own 3-point-shooting ability to the point that they fail to see (or even ignore) open teammates.

The real test of the value of a SFPG is whether you can win games with one. So I plotted FGA/AST vs. win shares per game:

Only three of the top 10 players with respect to WS/game are SFPG: Billups, Payton, and Parker. However, only four of the top ten players with respect to WS/game won championships: Billups (1), Payton (1), Parker (3), and Kidd (1). All but Kidd are SFPG.

Of the 16 SFPG identified in this analysis, five won titles: the aforementioned Billups (1), Payton (1), and Parker (3), and Derek Fisher (5) and Sam Cassell (3). Winning a title is a huge deal and I don't want to belittle Fisher's accomplishments, but playing with Kobe and Shaq/Gasol made it a lot easier. And as we already saw, Derek Fisher doesn't do anything, so his SFPG status is pretty questionable. Sure, he shoots more twice as often as he gets an assist, but both events are so rare that I'm not sure he matters in the grand scheme of things. Payton was a backup when he won his ring, and he went 0-3 from the field during the meager 32 minutes he played in the playoffs that year. He chipped in 3 assists in the playoffs for a tidy 1.0 FGA:AST ratio. Cassell was a backup on all three of his title teams but he played an important role, especially in Houston. Billups and Parker were major contributors to their championship teams.

With the exception of Billups and Cassell in 2008, all the SFPG who won a title won their rings as teammates with arguably the league's best player that year or that year's playoffs: Payton with Wade (Finals MVP), Parker with Duncan (league MVP, Finals MVP) Fisher with Kobe (Finals MVP) and sometimes Shaq (league MVP, Finals MVP), and Cassell with Olajuwon (league MVP, Finals MVP). Cassell played with Garnett, Allen, and Pierce (Finals MVP) in 2008; although none were as dominant as Shaq or Duncan in their primes, it can't hurt your title chances to play with three just-past-their-prime Hall of Famers.

So what does it all mean? At least 13 of the past 21 championship teams included a SFPG, but these particular SFPG either didn't do much, didn't do anything, or played second banana to the best player in the league or the playoffs. Only Chauncey Billups really stands out, at least to me.

If you ever get hired to build an NBA roster, I suggest that you avoid SFPG unless you have the best player in the league. You might also want to avoid the best player in the league right now but that's a different post. I say this depsite failing to find any worthwhile trends in the data, and based entirely on the previous conjecture. I eagerly await your contrary analysis in the comments.

Monday, August 08, 2011

It's time to welcome back an old time favorite...

No, not Gary's Old Towne Tavern...the semi-recurring Ghoogles bit. That's right folks, here are a selection of search terms that led the denizens of el interweb to "Gheorghe: the Blog" in the last two weeks. I tried to cull them to include just the cream of the crop for us...let's hope you find them as enjoyable as I did:
  • droopy dog
  • gaetane thiney
  • tom brady effete
  • zoltan mesko gheorghe
  • brigitte bardot hot
  • more than a game + gheorghe : the blog
  • blair mcelroy
  • brazilian women
  • kari wuhrer remote control
  • brian hightower rugby
  • jesus family guy
  • brazilian pussy
  • cartoon brick wall
  • epic paradox
  • thousand yard stare
  • van der waals
  • army animals
  • baseball cards
  • billy lotion
  • dennis martinez
  • family guy jesus
  • jack urbont
  • lady spartan soccer wax
  • nasal polyps
  • right meow
  • rupaul
  • van der waals forces
  • whitesnake video
  • brazil beach babes
  • cameo tattoo
  • girl on the beach
  • greg mcelroy sister
  • have you seen my baseball
  • helicopter tattoo
  • italian beach girls
  • jim hart
  • nazik avdalyan
  • old school braves logo
  • really white people
  • robbie alomar gay
  • roberto alomar gay
  • roberto alomar glove
  • tattoo mess ups
  • the inception
  • what does it mean to be a man? do you have to frequent prostitutes?
  • worst rock songs
  • young bikini
  • nazik avdalyan
  • 1980's baseball card
  • alfonso ribeiro shirtless
  • american football tattoos
  • argentina beach women
  • assholes
  • baseball card pictures
  • blakroc shirt do you ever
  • brazil girl
  • brian hartline girlfriend
  • brian hightower
  • brick wall cartoon
  • charlie whitehurst
  • clerks berserker
  • corona bikini
  • devo 930 club freedom of choice
  • devo are we not men
  • green tree harassing reference
  • jessica biel imdb
  • jim j bullock
  • johnny depp chatham
  • merril hoge hate
  • my netflix queue
  • out of the box
  • overlord succubus
  • pork slap
  • pursuit of happiness tattoos
  • record player tattoo
  • seasick steve blogspot
  • sexy brazilian women
  • slinky penis
  • slinky tattoo
  • slinky winfield
  • terrence williams tattoos
  • tony the tiger great
  • vajazzling
  • wham album
  • worst rock songs of all time
  • zack morris
  • alfonso ribeiro shirtless
  • chatham squir
  • derrick locke girlfriend
  • frontal nudity catch 22
  • hope solo sneak behind hand
  • jamaica plain
  • joe table
  • making fuck
  • nutzy the squirrel
  • parker stevenson glad
  • she only had one arm
  • the eddie money story
  • travels theorymarauders t-shirt
  • white snow cocaine bear
Well, no need to search long for a post image, that last entry has me covered...and a bonus image below for the heck of it.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Music Good and Not So Good

It's Music Season at Gheorghe: The Blog. We upgraded from a mere Music Month to a full season, simply because we can. And because we aren't organized enough to consolidate everything into a month. We've got a humdinger planned for September (which we'll likely forget), but in the meantime here's a little tidbit with a lesson attached.

On college rock radio these days, you might hear a tune called "Darling Buds of May" by a band called Viva Brother. You might find it catchy.

If you didn't already know who the band was, you might also find yourself thinking, "Boy, Oasis really sucks these days."

If you strolled over to MetaCritic to see what the rock journalist collective thinks about their album, you would laugh. It's an average score of 33 out of 100. These comments come from six different publications' reviews:
  • "might not be the worst record you'll hear this year, but it's certainly one of the most pointless"
  • "nothing more than a thinly disguised, crass attempt to smoke latent Oasis fans out of hiding"
  • "this debut is so lame, it makes the Beady Eye album sound like Let It Bleed"
  • "eager for attention they don't merit, while the lyrics seem to be about nothing"
  • "sets the cause of resurgent guitar rock back… ooh, a good 20 years"
  • "little more than a damp squib"
So why do I bring it up? The catchy single actually had me going until the chorus:
Because her birthday's in May
It is what it is, It is what it is
Because her birthday's in May
It is what it is, It is what it is
Two years ago, long before these assclowns went into the studio, I explained to everyone how I felt about the usage of this and other terrible phrases. They didn't adhere to my warnings, and now they are being held up as a standard of pedestrian lyricism for the world's mockery. Please, good people, when it comes to rock lyrics, let's think outside the box (heh heh), lest your stupid words end up in someone else's song.

As for music I do enjoy, some time ago, the Zman hooked me up with The Grey Album, the Fab Four/Jay-Z mash-up that came out seven years ago. For whatever reason, I'd never given it a listen, but I came across his CD when I was going through some stuff lately. At long last, I heard the album, and I'm a fan. Here's a sample (no pun intended), it's "What More Can I Say?" with a boost from George Harrison and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."

Thanks to Zman for broadening my horizons and putting up with me being old and out of it.

Friday, August 05, 2011

(Not) Metal Up Your Ass Friday, Sponsored By Callaway

I present to you a pretty terrible song* from an even worse movie**, sung by a man who knows the proper pronunciation of "Mill-e-wah-que":

Nice lyrical stylings, Alice.

*The song is off Cooper's "Constrictor" album, which also apparently had a track called "Teenage Frankenstein". I am tad curious now to hear that one too.
**Friday the 13th Part 6 was another abomination in the series. Jason Vorhees was killed off in the fourth film, didn't appear at all in the fifth installment, and then as you might remember gets electrocuted at the bottom of Crystal Lake to wreck havoc in this cinematic masterpiece.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Fair and Balanced

G:TB's editorial staff has had its issues with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. For starters, what kind of name is Chris Christie? And his education policies spurred one of our heretofore apolitical team members to minor political celebrity. Generally speaking, we're not fans. But unlike too many of our elected officials, G:TB is not afraid to praise those with whom we disagree when it's warranted.

Christie's vocal defense of his appointment of Sohail Mohammed to a Superior Court judgeship should be required reading for members of both political parties. His refusal to kowtow to the pernicious bigotry that passes for patriotism in many circles right now deserves a hearty huzzah.

Now go fix your school system, big fella. You don't want Almighty Yojo making up songs about you.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Culture Up Your Ass Wednesday

My daughters are, like many children, really interested in art. I've had lots of conversations with them lately about what constitutes art, especially as technology vastly expands artists' ability to create. My wife is still angry with me for telling the girls about Andres' Serrano's 'Piss Christ', in no small part because my oldest girl brought it up in front of her Sunday School teacher. (At least I've kept Robert Mapplethorpe's later work from their attention. Our church is pretty progressive, but that might raise some eyebrows.)

It was with the perspective of a child, then, that I encountered The Heidelberg Project, a 25 year-old effort that's turned two blocks of inner-city Detroit into a colorful folk art installation. Artist Tyree Guyton, a native of the neighborhood, mixes found objects, sculpture, bright paint, and words to "demonstrate the power of creativity to save lives." In addition to continually adding to the work, Guyton and his team offer tours and work with local children to demonstrate a different vision for their largely blighted community.

The City of Detroit tried twice in the 1990s to destroy the project razing buildings in both cases. And each time, Guyton picked up the pieces and kept at it. Now it's a protected landmark, and one of the city's leading tourist attractions.

In the first installment of another recurring feature destined not to recur, Tyree Guyton is G:TB's first Artist in Virtual Residence. He couldn't join us in person today, but his people did send word that he's humbled and flattered by this prestigious honor. More of his story below.