Sunday, December 31, 2017

The JB Random Report End of the Year Awards 2017

Well kids, it’s that time of year again, so possibly for the last time before the holocaust…

NEWS STORY OF THE YEAR – Years ago, when I started this blog, I would write once a week about the state of our United States of America on many fronts. I did what every writer would do, wrote what I liked, which was, and still is, politics, music and sports.
One of the things that my readers loved was how I would call out those who spouted what was either dishonest, ridiculous or flat out wrong. When you expose a lie or tell a joke about something you may find contemptuous, people respond to it, and hopefully minds open and things change.
I do not keep this up weekly anymore for many reasons. One is that I do not have the time on my hands I once did, but more importantly, facts do not seem to matter anymore. You see, I never set out to necessarily change anyone’s mind, just entertain and inform a bit. Maybe that sounds self-important, but I was just having fun. The problem is that minds have become so closed, it has become not even worth it to try and open them.
Now politics could be the most significant news story of any year, particularly in the times we are living in now, but I do not think that any story has been more captivating, more compelling or more quickly to cause an immediate change in the cultural landscape not only in politics, but in pretty much every form of the entertainment industry than finally bringing the horny to light.
Yes I believe that the story of the year was our reaction to, our failure to react to, sexual harassment. Yup…whether its politics or the entertainment business the horny have now been brought to light, and many a powerful man (so far it’s been just men) have been ruined due to their self-importance, arrogance and well, horniness.
So first let’s start with the entertainment business. This actually started last year with Bill Cosby, but blew up and out of control with Harvey Weinstein. Until this year, everyone was “outraged” but no one called for changes. Proof, yet again that much like Rock n Roll, you can be as gifted and talented as Chuck Berry, but the minute Elvis shows up…well, you know.
And not to be outdone by those liberal media entertainment types, Congress had its share of sexual harassment issues as well. There was a racist and accused child molester judge in Alabama running for Senate, and there was a Senator from Minnesota, Al Franken, who was accused of improprieties before he became Senator, mostly consisting of inappropriate touching, which could pretty much mean anything given the general nature of the accusations. Of course, the cowards in Congress, on the Democratic side I have to admit, refused to even acknowledge that equating what Al Franken was accused of and what Ray Moore (more on him later) was accused of was ridiculous and insulting to the American public. Even Republicans at their most ignorant were unable to justify the comparison, but Democrats were so enraptured in their own self-importance that they did it for them and are refusing to listen to the “will of the people” when 56% of voters in Minnesota do not want Franken to resign.
Now these accusations against such powerful people may have started a movement empowering victims to come forward with their stories so that crap like this never happens again, but we must be careful with making accusations, and lives cannot, and should not be ruined over unfounded accusations, or overzealous attacks on even the mildest of offences. One false accusation and the backlash could turn around and whup you on your own self-righteous ass. Like everything else, a perspective must be had, or this will go nowhere.
You cannot claim permanent damages just because you brushed up against it back in 2003. And in the words of Morrissey (who I never quote, but he kinda has a point this time) “Sometimes what you see as harassment is just a pathetic attempt at courtship.” So if you take this too far, then you will end up with people so afraid to interact with each other that the only acceptable way to communicate with anyone without getting arrested is through a fucking app. Now is that really the world we want to live in? Having your smartphone make your relationship decisions? Is the phone that fucking smart? Twenty years ago if anyone had predicted this you would accuse them of Orwellian paranoia. I may not be the most social of human beings, but I always thought that part of getting laid was that you had to at least have some sort of talking game. And a world where everyone lives in fear of interacting with one another for fear of being accused of harassment is certainly not one I want to live in.
My subjective threshold is not just the act of assaulting someone physically, it is also fear. Discomfort however, is not something anyone should consider a fireable offence. Someone glances at you out at work, they should not be called up to HR or made to sit through a seminar just because they are plain looking and do not live up to your expectations.
I would also remind those on the attack on this issue that you have a lot of light and a lot of power now, but if you make so much as one false allegation, your movement will lose credibility. If you start attack everyone who does not take as strong a position as you do on every aspect of this matter, then your movement will lose credibility. That’s why I think that Rose McGowan needs to chill, before someone whips out this old picture and reminds her that outfits like this might make her a target for both harassment and ridicule. When you are this desperate for attention, your credibility may be in question. When you attack Meryl Streep and other actors for not being as militant as you just because they are invited to a party that you are not, it makes you look ridiculous and takes away from the good you say are trying to do. “#Me Too” is a good start, give it a chance, Rose.
Then there are the accused that are becoming equally disturbing. Harvey Weinstein? OK there is a definite pattern of piggish behavior there, but Garrison Keillor? Really? Sure I was shocked, but mostly because I thought he was dead. The man lost his job because he put his hand on a woman’s shoulder when she was upset at something else. WTF? Kevin Spacey may be a bit creepy, but the accusation against him was that he propositioned someone at a party, they said no and went home. Well shit how many times has that happened? Do we all lose our jobs now? But my favorite is George HW Bush. What? George HW Bush? From his fucking wheelchair? Well yeah the horny have no bounds I guess, and are not limited, not even by physical infirmity. 
Now I believe the culture will change, I just hope it is for the better. 

QUOTE OF THE YEAR“Nevertheless, she persisted.” - Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Feb. 7.
Leave it to this Republican asshole to be so out of touch that his criticism of a woman gave women a quote that they should continue to use as a rallying cry. When the Senate majority leader cut off Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) speech against attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), he accused Warren of attacking another senator’s character, which is apparently against the rules of the Senate? OK. “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” McConnell probably didn’t expect that the last sentence would become the soundtrack for women to speak out, run for political office, and otherwise engage more in the political process. So whether it was the Women’s March, the number of women running for office, the #MeToo movement, and more, women have “persisted” in speaking out.
Let’s hope it lasts, and more importantly, let’s not only make sure we remember this quote, but let’s continue to give its author credit every time a woman wins a political seat or makes this country a better place.

TV SHOW OF THE YEAR – “Brockmire” IFC.
I just realized that Netflix seems to have overtaken cable TV as the general public’s main form of TV watching. Maybe it’s just me but I do not have the time to be that heavily invested in the thin, lighted box that occupies my bedroom that I only turn on to disappoint and disillusion me as I fall asleep, so I really do not watch a lot of TV.
It has also been my experience that the TV shows I tend to like, are so outrageous and offensive that they end up getting cancelled after one season. Such is what I believed would be the fate of my pick for TV show of the year, but there will be a season 2. Seriously, Hank Azaria has created a character that is utterly hilarious and just all sorts of wrong. I love it, and you will too.  

Ever just look at someone and get totally grossed out? No explanation needed here, just look at this picture then scroll the fuck up.

Look, my views on this are already documented, but that doesn’t mean I want to hear it again. Seriously.

MOVIE OF THE YEAR “Blade Runner 2049”
Believe it or not, this was a tough one. Usually whatever Star Wars concoction comes out in any given year is the winner, but this year was a bit different. First off, “Blade Runner 2049” was awesome, I don’t give a shit what anyone else says. Remember the first “Blade Runner” was totally misunderstood and dismissed when it first came out as well, and the general public has gotten no wiser. I mean, just look no further than the idiot who they elected as President of the United States.  

I remember predicting that Cate Blanchett would win an Oscar for her role in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” and I was right. I don’t know about this year, but this was a good movie. One day I will write my thoughts on Woody Allen, but for now let’s just say he made another enjoyable film. I never thought that I would be praising Justin Timberlake’s fucking acting, but even I have to admit he was pretty solid. 

ALBUM OF THE YEAR – “Everything Now.” Arcade Fire. Yeah I know this may be the record that turns them into a lame pop band, but I still love the way they do things. It’s catchy and it kinda reminds me of those songs played during an inspirational montage in an 80’s teen movie. John Hughes would have loved these guys and put them on every soundtrack

COOLEST SONG BY A MAJOR ACT THAT WASN’T A BIG HIT – “Bones of Saints” – Robert Plant.
Much like Paul McCartney, Robert Plant has been a solo artist longer than the band that made him famous was active. Led Zeppelin is known for being a pioneering hard rock band, but a closer listen will reveal a great many musical influences, like Moroccan sounds that Plant still subtly incorporates into his music today. This is still very present in Plant’s 2017 offering, “Carry Fire.” Of course, the only radio station that even pretends to play music that matters is 90.7 WFUV, and had it not been for this station I have to admit, I might not have even known about this album.
Honorable mention goes to Depeche Mode for “Where’s the Revolution.” 

COOLEST SONG OF THE YEAR – “Across the Room” Odesza featuring Leon Bridges. Neo-Soul is making a comeback that is, of course, not even noticed on mainstream (lamestream) radio. While they are busy with BeyoncĂ©, Justin Bieber and equally shitty collaborations by equally shitty so-called artists, this brilliant collaboration went mostly unnoticed, but not by anyone who actually likes music.

Yes there were some bigger acts this year, but if I had to pick that one “cool band that just you and a few of your friends know about” it would be this one.  Thank you again 90.7 WFUV.

Much like the much maligned Philadelphia 76ers, the Astros implemented their own version of what has now become known as “the process.” That is, to tank for a few years to get high draft picks, then develop those picks as you play along for a few seasons, regardless of whether or not you are acting in good faith by not really putting the best team possible on the field. I remember when this Houston team lost 101 games in and were nothing short of a complete and utter laughingstock. Well who is laughing now? They managed to beat a very good, ahead of schedule in the process New York Yankees team to make it to, then win, the World Series. 

ATHLETE OF THE YEAR – Colin Kaepernick, Free Agent, NFL.
If there was one reason I probably should have blogged more this year, it would have been to address this rather polarizing situation with Kaepernick. Believe it or not, I am not here to write this guy’s canon for sainthood, in fact, I have a few problems with him. So let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
There are people who think that when he started this “kneeling down during the anthem” protest a few years back, it was simply a calculated move by Kaepernick to agitate his employers, The San Francisco 49ers, because he knew he was going to lose his starting QB position. And, yeah, this is a plausible theory considering that his play had declined, but who cares? Just because it may have been calculated and selfishly motivated, does not mean it was wrong.
Since then however, he has allowed the narrative to slip away from him, and if he is to have any further consequential effect on this issue, he needs to get it back. First of all, he needs to address the accusation that his protest against police brutality and justice in America, is somehow Un-American, disrespectful to the flag or disrespectful to those who served in uniform under it. All these accusations are wrong for one simple reason that no one seems to be talking about: When Kaepernick first thought to protest, he asked military personnel how to do it, and it was THEY who suggested kneeling when the National Anthem was played. This was not something Kaepernick pull out of his ass, this is something that he took the time to research as to make sure that he wouldn’t offend the military. Why do you think no one who actually served, said he was being disrespectful? It was only cowards like Donald Trump, who got five deferments so that he wouldn’t have to serve, or FOX News that never does any research and is a joke of a partisan news organization, more concerned with which female staffer to grope that actual news, that were critical of the movement? Not anyone who matters. Kaepernick did nothing to illustrate this very important point in his defense.
Then there is the problem I have with this guy. Like it or not, Mr. Kaepernick, your actions started a movement, a movement that even though it has become bigger than you, you can still control. But you will not get any support from people if you actually declare that you DON’T VOTE!?!?! Dude, what are you thinking? You cannot send this message and expect change to happen. It is borderline hypocritical to illustrate that which is wrong with America, then refuse to participate in its greatest tool for change. Don’t you know that even if the election for President might be flawed, direct elections are constantly held for judges, local politicians, and legislative proposals? It is those things that have a greater more direct, more immediate impact on the lives of citizens, and he should be encouraging and participating in them. Maybe I should restrict this award in the future to on-the-field accomplishments, but this is one time I couldn’t ignore the off-the-field movement so forgive me.    

Much like LeBron James is the NBA MVP every year even though he may not get the trophy, Donald Trump is fit to win this award every year. But much like the NBA I am also gonna mix it up a bit, and give it to someone as a final parting gift. That’s right… Who else but the gun totin’, ugly vest wearin’, child molestin’, racist, good ol’ boy Roy Moore? Yes, the man accused by multiple women of child molestation and who was banned from a mall as a middle-aged man because he was making the teenaged girls uncomfortable, was really a Senatorial candidate in the great state of Alabama. He also was quoted as saying that things were better when we still had slavery. Wow, just think about how we are gonna look back at these times. 

To be honest, the fact that I even have to write this entry to justify my position on the importance of Chuck Berry is a bit insulting and yet a further example of the dumbing down of American society. A dumbing down primarily due to a serious lack of appreciation or understanding of history.

Here’s hoping the New Year brings you everything you want! And of course…FUCK DONALD TRUMP!!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The JB Random Report End of the Year Awards 2016

Well kids, it’s that time of year again, so possibly for the last time before the holocaust...

NEWS STORY OF THE YEAR – In America, is there really anything else to discuss other than our final decline as a World power? Saying that it is the fault of politicians is just too easy, and lets the ignorant masses that populate our country off the hook. No, our decline happened long before we elected and unqualified, ignorant, racist, misogynistic buffoon as president. Our decline happened the minute we began praising the idiots on reality television thinking that could be us one day. The minute we valued fame over what can actually make us famous, the decline began. The minute we said that it is not important to be good at something, it is not important to know anything, just to go viral, the decline began, and I must say it has come quicker than I thought. Stupid has become cool, and that has finally began to destroy this country. Yes, maybe Paris Hilton can share a small portion of the blame, but you are worse.
It is the anti-intellectualism running rampant in this country that paved the way for Donald Trump to be elected president. The fact that we convinced ourselves that it’s ok to be stupid while the rest of the world surpassed us, is the prevailing reason why we have someone endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan as president. The fact that people actually said on CNN that they voted for Trump because they saw a fake news story on Facebook and thought it was real is the greatest illustration of my point.  

Michelle Obama in a recent sit down with Oprah, said that she felt as if we have no hope, I respectfully disagree and let me tell you why. Yes the ignorant have now taken over, but at this point, they have nowhere to go but down. The ignorant reality TV generation has now reached its summit. Let me tell you what I mean.
When I was in college I had a brilliant Sociology professor named John Louis Cooper, who ended up being my most significant mentor, mostly because I hear his voice every day, and it was his voice that inspired me to protect those protecting water rights at Standing Rock, North Dakota this year. In 1963, Cooper was a college student fresh out of the Army, and already a member of the Civil Rights movement in the United States. When the March on Washington was planned, he was all too eager to participate. He was there, and he watched as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his incredible “I Have a Dream” speech. When Cooper got back home, he immediately quit the movement. When I asked him why so many years later he simply said “Because that was the greatest thing I had ever seen, therefore I knew it was never going to get that good again.” Well he was right.
We have elected a President that fits the analogy perfectly. He is the greatest that reality TV will ever do. A President who would rather be on Twitter than get intelligence briefings. Someone whose own words disqualify him from the most dignified of executive offices, and no one cared because “hey is famous and wants to change things.” A President who appealed to the most ignorant racists that praised him for wanting to ban Muslims, build a wall to keep out the Mexicans yet has a wife who can barely speak English and is herself a foreigner. A President who has been endorsed by the most ignorant of religious fanatics who seem to support him while ignoring the fact that he has 5 children from 3 different baby mommas, and his current wife has posed nude. Now that’s kinda ghetto isn’t it? This coward got 5 deferments to duck service in Vietnam, spoke out against the families of slain veterans, and there were still veterans that supported him. My point is, that Republicans supported him despite the reality that he has no Republican values at all, and we must ask ourselves why, and we must do so in-depth, because barring that I can only come up with one answer: He was elected because he was famous, and a certain group in this country wanted to tell those govern it to go fuck itself. Kind of like a petulant child that finally turned 18 but is still living in their parents basement. Hey assholes, you still need government to be run by qualified people, don’t you realize that?
Last year I said that the coming election was struggle for the soul of this country, and the rest of the world was watching. Well, we showed the world how stupid we are. Letting Russia hack into our electoral process is something that a third world banana republic allows, not the greatest nation in the world. And for assholes like Paul Ryan to say that sanctions imposed by Barack Obama were too little, too late and that his foreign policy has made us weaker in the eyes of the world is interesting, considering that he and his cronies cock-blocked everything that the President has tried to do for eight years.
When the President-elect says that we “need to get over it” and “the computers have complicated lives very greatly” (I’m totally fucking serious this is a direct quote) I am very afraid. Hey asshole, a foreign government just compromised our elections and you seem to think it’s not a big deal. This is why we are finished as a world power. The only thing to worry about now is whether or not one of this ignorant brute’s tweets will start a nuclear war.
Look familiar? Google Nazi salute
Those who voted for Trump, I want to think deeply about something. Do you realize what you have done? You have elected someone that the rest of the world has now seen can be manipulated by a tweet, and can be owned by Vladimir Putin. You have not just compromised our position in the world, you have destroyed it. The worst part about this is, that you really have no idea that you have done it. Your blind hatred of a black president that actually was an exceptional man and would have had an even greater legacy had he not been obstructed at every turn, has lead you to elect a clown, and your only response is “give him a chance?” Really? That’s the best you can do? That is your best defense for this ignoramus? Do you realize what you have done? I can defend Obama’s record of achievement even before he was president. While I am no huge fan of Hillary Clinton, I can also do the same for her. What can you say Trump has done that qualifies him to be President? How is it that his own worlds did not stop you from voting for him? Do you realize that you have done?

QUOTE OF THE YEAR – “Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy. In this document, look for the words liberty and equal protection of law.”

 -  Khizr Khan, father of a slain US Army soldier, in a speech directed at Donald Trump on the final day of the Democratic National Convention, July 28.

Mr. Khan I don’t think you are reading this, but if you are, as a veteran I just want to say thank you, and I am sorry we couldn’t do more, but I promise that I will not stop fighting for what your son believed in, even though I have not worn the uniform for some time now.

Honorable mention goes out to “Rebellions are built on hope.” But more on “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” later.

TV SHOW OF THE YEARI didn’t really watch a lot of TV this year so I guess I’ll just give it to whatever it was I watched, and I usually watch the same things. RealTime with Bill Maher was good as always, he finally got his interview with Barack Obama. There was no Homeland, or The Leftovers this year so I guess I’ll go with Bill Maher. 

ASSHOLE OF THE YEARAnyone Who Voted For Donald Trump. If this offends anyone or I lose readership because of it, I really don’t give a shit. But before you do leave just read this one point, Trump voter…I don’t believe all of you are racist, misogynistic or stupid. But your candidate is, and he proved it with his own words. There was no media conspiracy against him, he was just quoted. What bothers me is that you heard the quotes, you saw who he had around him, and you didn’t care. It didn’t bother you to elect this man, what does that say about you?

POLITICIAN OF THE YEARSenator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) will not be the next President of the United States. But the fact that he has got as far as he did is something that I have been marveling at for a year now. I loved watching his rallies and how he inspired so many people.
His opponent in the Democratic Primary, Hillary Clinton failed to energize that base when he finally left the race, and unlike Bernie, she disappeared after her election loss, which is why Bernie Sanders wins this award for the second year in a row. After Bernie lost, he went back to work. He didn’t hide and he didn’t whine, he knew the people needed him. He went to Standing Rock (The highest profile politician to do so), and he got back to chairing his committees and Senator-ing, if you will. Hillary Clinton needed to reassure us that she was still here, she did not. 

OVERUSED PHRASE OF THE YEAR – “Bae” Oh please, Fuck Youae. This has to go, it just makes younger people sound stupider than they are and makes old people look ridiculous.

MOVIE OF THE YEAR Really? There is a debate here that you really feel you need to have? “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

ACTOR WHO MANAGED TO GET HIMSELF INTO EVERY COOL MOVIE THIS YEARDiego Luna “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” It was a truly awesome movie. Did he do anything else this year? Seriously though, much like “The Matrix” trilogy, I LOVED the fact that Rogue One had so many people of color in leading roles that it was hard to know who was gonna die first…

COOLEST MOVIE WITH SOMEWHAT FAMOUS PEOPLE IN IT THAT YOU STILL DIDN’T (YET/PROBABLY) SEE BUT YOU SHOULD HAVE – “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” Well there were some not so famous people in the movie, it’s my list so fuck you!

ALBUM OF THE YEAR – “Blue & Lonesome” –The Rolling Stones. What a great fucking album. I guess Keith Richards felt like he wanted to play guitar again. I just wish that they had introduced a few of these tunes during the Ole Tour in South America this year. I saw them in Bogota, and they were fucking awesome. Now you can argue that my expectations may have been low considering that it was my birthday and that they are my all-time favorite band, but if you use clips of that show you will see the world’s greatest rock and roll band turning back the clock.

Oh, by the way “A Moon Shaped Pool” by Radiohead came in a close second (Damn it was the only tour that I missed this year…) Honorable mentions must go out to Iggy Pop for “Post Pop Depression” and David Bowie for what really was his own version of Mozart’s “Requiem,” “Blackstar.” And anyone complaining that there are no acts from this century on this list, I most eloquently say…go fuck yourself it’s my list. But seriously, I listen to more new bands probably than most people because I love music, and I think a lot of them are really good, but this year was just not for anything new, and the best music really was made by those who have known how for a long time.

COOLEST SONG BY A MAJOR ACT THAT WASN’T A BIG HIT – “Wow” – Beck. Such a cool song I can almost forgive that I heard it later in a fucking commercial. But I guess that’s what great non-commercial artists have been most ironically reduced to…commercials.

COOLEST SONG OF THE YEAR – “Goin’ Down” Dinosaur Jr. I guess Renaissance man J Mascis plays music when he feels like it, maybe in-between miniature golf and Olympic skiing. But whenever he gets the band back together something good always happens. In this case, it was a good album “Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not,” with a great song. I have to admit this is not the most current sounding song, but it just made sense in a world that is heading face first into the Apocalypse…

COOLEST ACT OF THE YEAR –Iggy Pop. “Post Pop Depression” was a great album, but what made Iggy so cool this year was his willingness to embrace his indie status while doing things to make him accessible. I kinda liked seeing him on all the talk shows this year, both in the US and in the UK.

SPORTS TEAM OF THE YEARThe Chicago Cubs, MLB. The Midwest had a pretty good sports year. The Cleveland Cavaliers won their first NBA Championship and finally brought a title to the city of Cleveland, but it was the beloved Cubbies breaking a 108 year old drought in baseball that captured everyone’s heart. Now, being a Yankee fan, I have a distinct seething hatred for Theo Epstein, but this is a guy that has turned around not one, but two perennial losers into World Series winning teams. The Boston Red Sox and now the Chicago Cubs. I think there can be no doubt that he is one of the greatest baseball executives in the history of the game. 

ATHLETE OF THE YEAR – LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA. This guy did not win his 3rd NBA Championship by himself, he did have a good team around him, but that block in game 7 though! Plays like that are how legends are made. Not to mention the fact that this team was more dependent on him and he delivered, not just for himself, but for a city that had had nothing to cheer about for decades.

ATHLETE WHO REALLY SHOULD RETIRE OK Bernard Hopkins, it’s not funny anymore. First of all, what the fuck is wrong with you that you feel the need to spout so much racist crap outside of the ring? I guess that’s why your opponent knocked you out of it.
Anyone thinking I was gonna say Rhonda Rousey is mistaken. After her devastating loss to Amanda Nunes a lot of people were saying that she was finished as a fighter. I do not believe that at all. She needs a proper boxing coach if she is going to continue to insist that she can trade punches with boxers. I would be available of course, all she has to do is call, but I am thinking more along the lines of Roger Mayweather (no, really) or Buddy McGirt. Someone who can teach her to defend and counterpunch properly.
Rhonda Rousey is still a draw and still has a lot to contribute to this sport.

BIGOTED ASSHOLE OF THE YEAR – Giving this award to Donald Trump for the second year in a row would have been easy. But Steve Bannon’s mere existence is living proof that he is not alone. It is one thing to have a few KKK yahoos endorsing you, but when people like the executive chairman of the conservative news site Breitbart are going to be your closest advisors, that is just frightening. It is equally frightening that a conspiracy laden maniacal rant like Breitbart gets so many hits that the President-elect values his opinion enough he is putting him in a key position in the White House. I want to list a few gems here, but at this point why even bother? Everyone seems to think that it is OK to be a racist, and to call it anything other than that, like the “alt-right” is just bullshit. That is who Bannon is, and that is who will have the President’s ear for the next four years.

DEAD PERSON OF THE YEAROne of the many things that has made this year one of the shittiest ever is the monumental losses we have suffered, politically, culturally, and in the sports world. It was David Bowie in January that set the pace for one of the worst years ever for, not necessarily celebrity deaths (I could give two shits if one of the Kardashians dropped dead) but deaths of people that were so culturally relevant, so much a part of the soundtrack to our lives. So much so, that I even remember where I was when I heard the news of so many of the people I have grown to admire had left us (I was on a mountaintop in Colombia when I heard of Bowie, I was home somehow unable to sleep the night of Muhammad Ali’s death).

And the worst part of all of this, is that I remember writing something similar in this very section last year, foolishly thinking that it would never get as bad. I was wrong. I also thought that this country was too intelligent to elect an idiot for President, so what the fuck do I know. So this year, for the second time in the history of this blog, there is no one person who left us this year that will be more significant than the other.

Of course, Muhammad Ali meant so much more to me personally, but Prince, Bowie, Leonard Cohen, and George Michael so late in the year (just to name a few) are in some form or another, just as significant losses. I was certainly no fan of Fidel Castro, and even less of a fan of the armchair revolutionaries and wanna-be intellectuals that admired this tyrant, but he was an iconic historical figure.
To lose both Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds within 24 hours of each other was nothing short of brutal, and I cannot imagine any family going through that.
All that aside, I will miss the soundtrack to my youth, and I thank all who have left us for being a part of it. 

Here’s hoping the New Year brings you everything you want!

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Greatest

After crying my eyes out watching his memorial service in Louisville, I came to the conclusion that I am not a good enough writer, nor am I worthy to put the life of such a great man into perspective, but I owe it to my childhood to try. And I can’t tell this story without telling some of my own. That’s how much he meant to me.
When I was in college, one of the greatest men I had ever known was a Sociologist named John Louis Cooper. One of the things this mentor told me was “Never look for heroes. They are human beings, and when you find out that they are human beings, they will only disappoint you.” Well sorry Dr. Cooper, but you were one of my heroes as well, but at least you set an almost impossible standard when I look for them.

I had found my very first hero in Muhammad Ali, and I don’t even remember when. He was well past his prime the first time I had heard of him when I was a child, yet everyone still called him “The Greatest.” He lost handedly to Larry Holmes in 1980, and embarrassingly to Trevor Berbick before finally calling it a career in 1981. But what I didn’t witness, was the man that beat Sonny Liston, Floyd Paterson, Joe Frazier and George Foreman. Without a doubt, the greatest heavyweight ever. Sorry Rocky Marciano fans, but go ahead and name 10 good fighters that Marciano beat to get to 49-0 then I will change my mind. It’s OK I’ll wait…
So what would make me qualified to write anything about this man? Maybe the fact that I have done more research on this man’s life then most: I do own over 16 hours of film of his interviews, along with every one of his fights. I have read 6 books on him and I wrote a paper on his Supreme Court case clearly illustrating why he was right and the United States Government was wrong. A work that was quite well received, if I may say so myself. I had mixed feelings of posting it, because I thought the legal jargon might bore the crap out of my readers, but my brother Rudy Ruiz Jr. suggested that I do it anyway, so who am I to say no. So, in recognition of everything this great man meant to me and my own youth, the first part of “Three Years of Idle Turmoil: The Case of the United States vs. Muhammad Ali” will be posted next week, the rest in further installments until the end of the month. I hope you enjoy it, but remember I was just a kid in law school who loved Ali when I wrote it.

I have had a few days after his death to reflect on what Ali’s life meant to me, and even after all of his many accomplishments, to me he is still a fighter. I can write another book on the social impact he had all over the world, but the absolute first thing I think of when I think of Muhammad Ali, is the lead in right. That is a punch thrown without a jab to set it up. He was so fast that he could tag you with it with ease. Then I move to the shuffle, and that I can’t explain, you’ll just have to watch. I will make one recommendation even to the casual fan who wants to know what all the fuss was about…Watch the Ali vs. Cleveland Williams fight at the Houston Astrodome in 1966. This was sheer artistry. No one could have beaten him that night, and it was a cruel reminder of what the US Government took from the boxing public with their ridiculous charges, but that’s a story for a later time.

I have not fought competitively in over 10 years, but even now I still can’t seem to stay away from a gym. Even as recently as last week, I was working out in the ring and I didn’t even notice what I was doing until one of the trainers yelled out “Don’t think I don’t see you doing the Ali shuffle!” I am half Ali’s size, and here I was trying to do the things he did. But what so many didn’t realize was that he was a big guy actually trying to fight like a smaller fighter. He was the size of George Foreman moving like Sugar Ray Robinson , and he pulled it off so well it made him virtually unbeatable in his prime.
Yes, everything said about him was true: He was flawed, he was a genius, he was a lover of all human beings, he was willing to give up his whole life for a principle he believed in, he was one of the greatest athletes of the last century and yes he was the pride inside us all, if we look hard enough inside us, we will find him there. But mostly he was just an absolute beauty. How can this world shine as brightly without him in it?