Jan 272009

I was watching “Soul Men” the other night, and I was reminded of what a loss the comedy world suffered when Bernie Mac died.

This is from HBO’s Def Comedy Jam, and it was one of the performances that put Bernie on the map. If this doesn’t make you laugh…you need to go find a blog where they think Jeff Foxworthy is where comedy began and ended, because this isn’t the place for you.

Then again, what about a buddy movie where you have two completely different comedic styles like that, that have nothing to do with each other trying to “out funny” one another?
That might be such a train wreck that it would become a cult classic.

Anyway…the great Bernie Mac

Jan 272009

Yeah, I know it was a while ago, but the last time I checked I wasn’t getting paid for this shit, so deal motherbitches!

Now, I have seen Metallica live on several occasions in my life. More importantly, I saw them when you WANTED to see them…back when they were young, and lighting the world on fire with their brand of metal.
I don’t care what anyone says, that was an amazing time in the late 80′s. There was nothing like it for me, and there really has never been anything like it since. For us, the “metalheads” or whatever name you want to throw at it, we knew something that the rest of the world didn’t. We knew that the sound we loved was blazing a new trail…was creating a turning point in the music world, and every time those who didn’t “get it” yet would make their comments of “oh yeah..that music’s real cool…”KILL YOUR MOTHER! KILL YOUR MOTHER!!”, we would think “What a tool.” and laugh at you. But it wasn’t just the laugh that a person throws at another person out of dislike, it was the laugh of absolute assurance. See, we knew you were really just..well..a tool.

In the long run, I think we were right, and you were wrong.
After all, where’s your Scritti Polliti now?

After Metallica’s Black Album tour, in 1991-92, I SWORE I would never pay to see them again. You see, Metallica had finally reached the “tools”. All of those people who just a couple years prior were power drinking with their friends and singing along to “Funky Cold Medina”, had now discovered “Enter Sandman”.
Now, I’m not being a metal purist or anything…I’m not saying you can’t play in my clubhouse, but the vibe just changed all around.
The vibe at the show was different.
The vibe from the band itself was different.

Metallica didn’t seem as energetic on stage anymore…and the energy at the show was not the same, because now, instead of an arena filled with people who knew all of the songs..you had tons of people who were lost when ANYTHING other than Black Album material was playing.

The electricity was gone, for lack of a better description.

This is the part where I’m an older guy, and a very strange moment occurs in my life.
My son, likes Metallica.
My son, wanted to go see Metallica.

How weird is that?
If you’re a young guy reading this right now…picture a day when you’re getting near 40 and your kid wants you to take him to see Slipknot or something. You’re not quite as cool as you used to be..you’re just trying to pay bills and shit..there’s nothing hardcore or rebellious left in you.
Actually, I was never really that cool, but just play along, I’m getting to something here I swear!

Picture you’re at a point where you’re wondering where the hell all the time went…and you SWEAR it was just yesterday that you were doing funnels of 100 proof Southern Comfort and Coke at 10am because you were challenged by two Marines on leave in Ocean City, MD, and then you passed out for 8 hours with borderline alcohol poisoning only to wake up and have some chick that you were trying to nail show up piss drunk and asking you to come back with her and her friends to their hotel, but you were too much of a bitchsissy to capitalize on it when she was clearly trying to get things to take a turn while you were alone with her, because even in YOUR completely jacked up state, you could tell that she was a step away from a roofies level of unconsciousness. And NOW you look back and….wait…what was I talking about?

Oh yeah…so you’re that guy, right…but in between that time, and current day, you mellowed out, stopped all that silly power drinking, got married, started a business, had kids, and got divorced.
You are now, the stereotypical late 30′s white male.
Just a cornbread motherfucker.

Are we squared up until this point?

So your kid says he’d like to go see Metallica.
What a bittersweet experience.

On one hand, you’re getting to take your kid to something that you know will be a magical experience. You remember the first time you went to a concert of a band you really liked, right?
You remember how amazing every single moment was?

But on the other hand, you have reached the age…*I* have reached the age, that my child wants to go see a band that was a symbol of my teenage years. Perhaps THE musical symbol of my teenage years.

Where did all the time go?
Seriously, it’s fucked up people.
Listen to your pal, Joe…that shit your parents tell you…that shit about “before you know it, you’ll be my age”…THAT is some square biz shit if there ever was any.

This time out, we saw Metallica from a luxury suite…fully catered and an open bar.
A little different from the old days.
(On a side note…a big THANKS to Howard Z. for making my kid’s first concert the amazing experience it was!)

As we sat there, my kid saw “the pit”…he turned to me and said..”Those people are nuts! Look at them!.
The corner of my mouth went up a bit in sort of a smirk, and I said to him “In a few more years…that’s the only place you’ll want to be. Then, you’ll get to my age now…and you’ll want to be back up here.”

I’m getting old, people.

Oh, I guess you want to know how the concert was, huh?
Well, Metallica was as tight and energetic as I had ever seen them.
I was truly stunned at how *together* they were after all these years.

They’ve gotten old with me.
Somehow though, they got to keep being cool and I didn’t.

But us old “metalheads” do have this…our kids want to still see the bands that we loved back then.
Your kid NEVER has asked you to go see Terrence Trent D’Arby.

We were right.

Jan 252009

I’ve spent a lot of time in Aston, PA over the years. A place I used to work for was located there. A friend used to own a Cajun restaurant there. But most importantly, growing up in Chester, PA, Aston was home to one of the nearest Dairy Queens, and I LOVED me a Peanut Buster Parfait as a kid. Hell, I even take my kids to that same Dairy Queen because there’s nothing quite as cool as the feeling of doing something with your own children that you, yourself, did as a child.

But I never left Aston feeling ripped off until last night.

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, The Iceworks in Aston, PA hosted the fight between 94.1 WYSP morning man, and former star of The Partridge Family, Danny Bonaduce, and former Major League Baseball star Jose Canseco.

Whoever it was that decided on this particular venue, should personally refund the majority of people’s money for admission. This was a TERRIBLE layout for a boxing match, or I would imagine any other event except a hockey game.

Please allow me to elaborate.

The ring was in the middle of an ice rink, and the ice rink has bleachers on only one side of it. Those seats were gone in a matter of minutes. So, the rest of the 1,500 person crowd were left to stand behind the glass, nowhere near the ring. But wait, that was even more jacked up than it seems at face value. You could only stand on one side of the rink…oh screw it…here’s a diagram I made…

Now, see the big dark grey bar on the right side?
THAT is where the bleachers are. But as I said, those seats were gone in minutes.
The small grey bars are the ringside $60 seats, but sorry, I wasn’t paying that for this kind of a fight. To be honest, I wasn’t exactly cool with paying $38 dollars for this, BUT….whatever. Not to mention, it appeared that they ran out of seats up in the ringside area too, as MANY people were standing wherever they could.
SO, now here’s where it gets interesting…the light grey area at the bottom is where you got to stand to watch this fight for the $38 you laid out. All the other areas around the ring were barricaded off as indicated by the black lines that I added.

Kinda shitty, right?

Well, it’s about to get better!
See that yellow square in the line of vision to the ring?
That was the 94.1 WYSP tent. That’s right…they decided to put a fucking tent in the ONLY line of vision you had…it was big and yellow, and said “94.1 WYSP The Rock You Grew Up With!”. It might have well just read “94.1 WYSP If We Could Ass Bang Your Mother To Add Insult To Injury, We’d Do That Too!!!”
But it wasn’t enough to have ONE tent in the way…no, that would be ridiculous!
They needed a second tent on the other side to COMPLETELY fuck your already limited view. But this tent was VERY important. I mean, if you’re going to piss off a crowd what more important reason could there be than a tent promoting an inflatable beer pong table?

What? Of COURSE that’s VERY important, you mongrel…stop your complaining!

I would give you an example of the view, but someone ERRONEOUSLY told me that they were patting people down at the door so I ran my Hi-Def video camera back to the car.
Thanks, Ron!

On a funny side note to that…after we got in and were never patted down, we started busting Ron’s balls about that whole thing, and he said “No, look…they’re going through that woman’s purse right now!” I looked over and said “Uh, no, Ron..THAT WOMAN is going through her OWN purse.”
He responded “…..Um…my bad.”

Now, I would have gone back out to the car to get the camera, but when we first got there an announcement was made that if you left the fight area, you would not be let back in. That sucked more than it seems, because the bathrooms were outside the fight area.
Isn’t that illegal, Delaware County?
Oh but silly me, listen to me complaining over nonsense!

I would like to tell you which bouts I enjoyed, but see the audio system was fucked the entire night too, so it kinda sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher talking to him. “WAAA WA WA WAAAA WA WAAA WAAAAAAA”

All around us people were complaining “This is FUCKING BULLSHIT!”, and “NICE TENT, ASSHOLES!” could be heard. People began just leaving…not caring that they weren’t going to see what they paid for. Oh, because I forgot to mention…not only were you standing for hours…you were standing on covered ice. Your feet literally felt frost bitten after awhile.

I do know one of the worst fights of the night, however. It came in the form of former ECW Wrestling star Sandman who replaced Brutus The Barber Beefcake, taking on some guy who CLEARLY appeared to be going easy on him. They barely threw any punches at each other, and the entire fight was met with resounding boos. So needless to say, those who WERE chanting “E..C..DUB!…E..C..DUB!” when he first entered the ring, were making a lot of different sounds upon his exit.

As for the main event, Canseco TOWERED over Bonaduce. It literally looked ridiculous.
People around me felt that Canseco was holding back on Danny…that he could have leveled him, but for some reason wasn’t doing it. He did however land a few hard blows on Danny, but Bonaduce just came back at him like a pitbull. Danny seemed to be trying to work Canseco’s mid section, which considering the height difference, would normally make good sense. But when you have 3 one minute rounds, there just isn’t enough time for that to be a really effective strategy.
The match ended in a draw, but I had to find that out this morning, because like most all the other people in the Iceworks last night…we left before it even ended. Just so disgusted by what we had endured.

As for those who felt Jose wasn’t trying as hard as he could have… well, let’s just say there’s already a rematch planned in L.A, according to promoter Damon Feldman.
Make of that what you will.

I however, finished my night off with some Blue Moon drafts at a local watering hole back in Wilmington called “Scrimmages”, where I was further assaulted with the unexpected treat of a middle-aged band who looked like they just left a Star Trek convention, playing “Sweet Emotion” from Aerosmith.

Life in the fast lane, people.
Life in the fast lane.

Jan 162009

Or are people using the word “Precipice” a lot more lately?
Am I just noticing it more for some reason, or are they actually using it more?
It seems like every time I watch and interview now, someone finds a reason to inject the word into the conversation.

Jan 082009
If you’ve been paying any attention to the news at all, you know what’s going on in Gaza.
Regardless of your feelings on the issue, I find the following account of the conditions in Gaza City incredibly depressing.
Take the time to read it if you will.


“I live alone in my office. My wife and two young children moved in with her father after our apartment was shattered. The neighborhood mosque, where I have prayed since I was a child, had its roof blown off. All the government buildings on my beat have been obliterated.

After days of Israeli shelling, the city and life I have known no longer exist.

Gaza City, with some 400,000 people, stopped supplying water when the fuel ran out for the power station driving the pumps. We listen to battery-run radios for news, even though the outside world watches what’s happening to us on television. The Hadi grocery where we once shopped is closed. Food is scarce all over town.

Three days after Israel began its airstrikes against Hamas militants on Dec. 27, my apartment building was shaken by bombs aimed at a nearby Hamas-run government compound.

My brother took a picture of the room where my boys, 2-year-old Hikmet and 6-month-old Ahmed, once slept. Their toys were broken, shrapnel had punched through the closet and the bedroom wall had collapsed. I don’t know if we will ever go back.

There are other pictures that haunt me. The Israeli army issued a video of the bombing of the Hamas-run government compound, which it posted on YouTube. In it, I also can see my home being destroyed, and I watch it obsessively.

Some of my colleagues lost their houses to the shelling as well, and are sleeping on mattresses spread across the floors of an apartment upstairs from The Associated Press bureau.

On Tuesday, I stood outside my apartment building but didn’t dare enter. I was worried the remains of the nearby compound might again be shelled.

Othman, the owner of the Addar restaurant where my wife and I bought takeaway when we were both working, put up aluminum sheeting over the broken windows to stop looters. On the pavement, phone and power lines were tangled together like twine.

Driving to central Gaza City, I took the road where Gaza’s two main universities are. It was covered with shards of glass, telephone cables, electricity wires and flattened cars. This road was once crowded with students, taxis and street vendors.

The Mazaj coffee shop on Omar Mukhtar street, Gaza’s main thoroughfare, was shuttered. It was popular with wealthy university students and foreigners working for nonprofit agencies because it served really good Guatemalan coffee — rumored to have been smuggled in through the same tunnels under the Egyptian border the militants used to bring in weapons.

Al Dera, a beautiful hotel on the Mediterranean shore, was a place where young men and women smoked water pipes and flirted, and where families went for dinner on Thursdays.

Those days are gone now.

On Tuesday, the only shop I found open was the Shifa pharmacy run by my friend Eyad Sayegh. He’s an Orthodox Christian, and I stopped to wish him a Merry Christmas — Eastern churches celebrate Christmas on Wednesday.

Eyad told me he forgot it was Christmas.

All the landmark buildings I covered as a reporter have vanished.

The colonial-era Seraya was the main security compound for the succession of Gaza’s rulers — the British, Egyptians, Israelis, the Palestinian Authority and then the rival Palestinians of Hamas.

We used to fear the Seraya, where the central jail was. Now it’s rubble.

The Al Shuhada mosque on the eastern corner of the compound, where I prayed every day, was one of the few in Gaza with good air conditioning. A local philanthropist who liked Moroccan architecture redecorated the interior with intricate wooden arabesques and Quranic verses etched on the roof. The roof caved in when the Israelis bombed the jail next door.

Of the presidential office overlooking the sea, only a few walls remain. For many Gazans it was a symbol of our statehood, even though President Mahmoud Abbas, who also heads the Fatah movement, hasn’t been there since Hamas seized control of the territory in June 2007.

Someone planted a Palestinian flag on the building’s remains. The huge gate at the western entrance still stands, giving an illusion of something big behind it.

And across the city, the Parliament house is half destroyed. It used to tower above the Unknown Soldier park and the shops that lined downtown Omar Mukhtar Street.

On Jala Street, one of Gaza’s main roads, I saw about 30 boys around a leaky irrigation tap on a traffic island. They were clutching empty soft drink bottles and jerry cans, trying to fill them with water.

Samir, who is 9, told me his family has no water at home and he wanted to bring enough for a bath because he and his brother smell.

That’s a problem for most people in Gaza right now.

In my father-in-law’s building, residents throw out bags of spoiled food. With no power, refrigerators don’t run and fresh food quickly rots.

There were few cars on the roads, and most of those were media cars, ambulances and vehicles packed with civilians. Some looked like they were fleeing, with mattresses tied to the roofs, but who knows where they can go.

Israeli helicopters flew overhead. I heard blasts in the distance. The roads were ripped apart by explosives.

I drove into downtown Gaza, trying to prove to myself I can still do something I have done so often before — drive through my city.

I reached the Catholic Latin Patriarchate School I attended, where my late father — also an AP correspondent — used to bring me every day. The building was undamaged.

I stood in front of it, wondering if I will ever be able to walk my children to this school.”