Fier Thy Words

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Remembering George Carlin

6/23/08

I couldn’t have been much older than 12 when I first heard one of George Carlin’s famous rants about religion, stating that

“Have you noticed that most of the women who are against abortion are women you wouldn’t want to fuck in the first place? There’s such balance in nature.”

From that moment on, not only was I well on my way to developing an entirely new vocabulary my parents weren’t all too pleased with, but my view of the world would forever be changed.

Carlin was more than just a stand up comic.

His comedy was always relevant, practical and clever, and he always seemed to have a nact for saying what most people were thinking, with a few explatives mixed in here and there.

Religion and politics were the two topics which Carlin seemed to really bring out the big guns for, constantly pointing out the shortcomings of both.

Anybody who has heard of George Carlin is probably familiar with his ever infamous bit about the seven dirty words you can’t say on television.

“There are 400,000 words in the English language, and there are seven you can’t say on television. What a ratio that is! 399,993 to 7. They must really be baaaad. They must be OUTRAGEOUS to be separated from a group that large. “All of you words over here, you seven….baaaad words.” That’s what they told us, right? …You know the seven, don’t ya? That you can’t say on TV? Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits.”

I didn’t know it at the time, but all of the hours I had spent as an even younger child watching Thomas the Tank Engine on PBS was actually the first exposure I had to that distinctive, raspy voice of his, as Carlin was Mr. Conductor at Shining Time Station.  Of course it wasn’t until I was older that I was able to appreciate the fact that one of the dirtiest mouths I had ever heard was also a primary figure on one of my favorite childhood shows.

Carlin is a Grammy award winner, an actor (most recently playing Ben Affleck’s father in Kevin Smith’s Jersey Girl), an author (Carlin wrote 3 books based on his comedy- Brain Droppings, Napalm and Silly Putty, When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops), but it will be his stand up comedy that will forever have Carlin remembered as an immortal presence on stage.

Interestingly, I was unaware of the fact that he was the first ever host of Saturday Night Live, which gives you only an idea of how long and how successful his career was.

He was scheduled to receive the Mark Twain lifetime achievement award for 50 years of outstanding work in comedy, and there may not be a more deserving recipient.

Comedy Central ranked Carlin as the second greatest stand up comic ever, behind only the equally as legendary Richard Prior, and while I am too young to have watched any of Prior’s comedy live, as far as im concerned, during the last 10-12 years of comedy I’ve had the privilege of watching, George Carlin was second to none.

His HBO specials were events I made sure to plan my schedules around, and listening to his CD’s in school was always a way for me to escape the pressures and endless boredom my education included.

One of my biggest regrets was never getting a chance to make it out to a show of his, despite his frequent visits to Westbury, Long Island, and with his passing, that regret only grows.

For all of his jokes, there are a number which will always stand out as far as im concerned.

I searched youtube and I probably could have posted more than 50 clips because everything he says is brilliant, but here is just a sampling of some of his work

My favorite bit of his, ranking above the 7 dirty words and anything regarding religion was his rant about airline announcements and the “safety lecture.

Religion is bullshit

George Carlin on the 10 Commandments

Little Moments We Share

Pro-Life is Anti-Woman

Saving the Planet

Carlin on how to handle death (maybe some advice for all of us)

He will forever be remembered as one of the most legendary comedic voices in history, and he will be dearly missed.

Personally, he was among my favorite entertainers, and I credit his comedy and his perspectives on heavily inspiring my own sense of humor and world views.

Thank you George Carlin, for doing nothing more than making me laugh.

You were one of a kind, and will forever be cherished.

June 23, 2008 Posted by | Thoughts | , | Leave a comment

George Carlin (1937-2008)

6/23/08

RIP to one of the greatest comedians of all time, George Carlin, who died late Sunday from heart failure at the age of 71.

Check back in later for a lengthy tribute to my absolute favorite stand up comic.

He’ll be dearly missed.

June 23, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Top 10 Reasons Willie was Fired

6/18/08

So we know the story by now, Willie Randolph was unceremoniously let go by the New York Mets in the most disgraceful of ways, having been flown cross country to manage a game his team would win, only to fire him in the middle of the night.

This just didn’t sit right with me, so I decided to ask around and find out why exactly this went down the way it went down.

Plus, my anger and frustration about the whole thing needed to be balanced with something to laugh about.

If you live in the New York area, you should be able to appreciate most of the references.

10. After losing out to Emmitt Smith for a spot in the latest Just for Men advertisement, he was offered a spot in a new Giuseppe Franco Procede commercial, but declined, which must have ticked off team brass that had set up a meeting between the two.

9. During his final meeting with team management, he was asked what his ultimate goals were for this season, and upon revealing they included “going to Disneyland”, he was granted his wish. (Randolph was fired with the Mets in Anaheim)

8. Knowing that a possible firing was imminent, an opportunity fell into the laps of ownership with their trip out west, knowing that Joe Torre was now managing in Los Angeles, Willie was convinced to fly cross country by being promised a chance to spend all of his free time with Joe.

7. When catering in from Subway for post game meals, Willie was told the sub’s would no longer be freshly toasted, upsetting the manager and causing an even greater rift between himself and his superiors.

6. Management found out Willie was an avid Soprano’s fan, and so after Jets head coach Eric Mangini was given a cameo in a final season episode, Willie wasn’t pleased. To appease their manager, they executed a Soprano’s style hit on him, having Omar Minaya fly out despite assuring his manager everything would be fine. Omar was originally against the idea, but when Stevie Van Zandt was unavailable (Silvio Dante), Omar took matters into his own hands.

5. Was told that should the phrase “the Yankee way” be uttered one more time, his job was as good as gone. At that moment, Jose Reyes popped his head in the room, smiling ear to ear thanking Willie for a gift he found in front of his locker, a DVD set featuring the 1996-2000 Yankee Championship teams. After Jose quietly tip-toed out of the room, management took one look at Willie, and the rest as they say, is history.

4. In a private meeting with ownership, he was asked to comment on his working relationship with GM Omar Minaya, and said while he felt the two worked well together, suggested that it would be in the best interest of both him and the organization to hire Isiah Thomas. Management considered the idea, but decided Isiah would probably end up creating too many off the field distractions, something they believed Minaya wasn’t capable of.

3. After watching an episode of Celebrity Apprentice following Sunday’s doubleheader, Willie joking commented to owner Fred Wilpon that “it’s a good thing we’re not on that show, because you’d have probably canned me months ago”. After an awkward pause, Wilpon politely told Willie to enjoy his flight.

2. Was told he’d be given job security if he agreed to manage the rest of the season wearing the Mr. Met costume, but refused only because he was afraid of the racial connotations he would expose himself to wearing a giant white baseball for a head. When he said he’d sooner manage wearing a Mickey Mouse costume, making the decision to fire him minutes from Disneyland too poetically appropriate to pass up.

1. Was told for the final time that he would not be released from his contract during the season to audition for American Idol, and upon Willie being visibly displeased with this decision for the 4 consecutive year, management told him they had come up with a compromise, but refused to elaborate saying “lets put it this way, you’re definitely going to Hollywood”.

June 18, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mets’ Handling of Randolph’s Firing Disgraceful

6/17/08

I went to bed a little after 1am on the east cost, the Mets having just won 9-6 out in California, and as far as knew, manager Willie Randolph had survived another day of rumors and speculation surrounding his job status.

Sure enough, roughly two hours later, in the middle of the night, following a 3,000 mile flight and a win, Willie Randolph was fired.

Regardless of whether or not Willie deserved to be fired, and cases can be made for and against his dismissal, the way in which it was handled was an absolute atrocity.

Mets management, headed by owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon, along with General Manager Omar Minaya who reportedly flew out to Anaheim to meet his ball club, had the nerve to allow Randolph, and his entire coaching staff, to travel cross country, manage and coach on Monday against the Angels, only to announce this decision at midnight in a hotel room.

It was a classless move by an organization that really shouldn’t wonder why they continue to be seen as second rate in a city that features another organization that has had it’s own share of bad press in the handling of a managerial move when Joe Torre left the Yankees last fall.

In the Mets’ handling of Willie Randolph’s firing, they once again proved to be a bigger story off the field than on it, which has seemed to be the class all season.

Before a single pitch was thrown this season, the talk was about last season’s epic collapse and the impact it was going to have on the team heading into a new season.

There was Billy Wagner calling out his teammates for lacking accountability after losing 2 of 3 to the lowly Washington Nationals, supposedly pointing in the direction of the lockers of Carlos Delgado, among others, when stating that

“You should be talking to the guys over there,” he snapped to reporters in the clubhouse…”Oh, they’re not there. Big shock,”

There was the self-inflicted controversy surrounding some comments Willie made to a reporter regarding the criticism he was receiving, and whether or not race was an issue worthy of being considered.

“Is it racial? Huh? It smells a little bit…I don’t know how to put my finger on it, but I think there’s something there. Herman Edwards did pretty well here and he won a couple of playoff [games], and they were pretty hard on Herm. Isiah Thomas didn’t do a great job, but they beat up Isiah pretty good. … I don’t know if people are used to a certain figurehead. There’s something weird about it.”

Randolph did apologize, and a press conference was called simply to announce he had been spoken to, marking the second press conference called by the Mets organization to give a public vote of confidence to Willie, although neither time (the first being following the end of the last season) left you feeling like management was fully backing their manager.

It is more than fair to have questioned the job Randolph had done between the lines, and his firing wasn’t unjustified.  However, the manner in which it was handled was almost sickening.

One report out states that The Mets had already made this decision prior to their leaving for the west coast, and if true, that only epitomizes the lack of any decency this team could have shown three of their employees.

Randolph, his coaches and his players, had endured weeks of questions and wondering amid a disappointing start to their season, and the uncertainty around Randolph’s job was clearly a distraction to a team that needed nothing less than something other than baseball games to focus on.

Willie will likely be more remembered for the way his team collapsed last season, losing a 7 game lead with 17 games to play and relinquishing an opportunity to win back to back division titles for the first time in franchise history.

His record of 302-253,  with a winning percentage second only to Davey Johnson in Mets history, is now a thing of the past, as Randolph can take another 3,000 mile trip back across country to finally rid himself of the sorry excuse for a ballclub he had probably lost the ears of.

The word being most thrown around the press this morning is cowardly, referring to the way in which the Mets handled this whole thing, and a more fitting word doesn’t exist.  I probably sound redundant but the way in which this was handled was just without class and without any sense of professionalism.

As a Mets fan, and as somebody who has bled Mets orange and blue and both follows this team and supports it as closely and and as hard as anybody, I can’t feel worse for Willie, in spite of the fact that finding justification for his firing isn’t all that difficult.

But somebody who has invested lots of time, energy and no shortage of money into this team, I find myself utterly ashamed of the team I root for, and quite frankly, pretty upset with the way in which this all happened. If the team wanted to fire Willie after the collapse, fine.  That would have been understood.  If they wanted to fire him back in New York a few weeks back when the media was all gathered and a press conference had been called at Shea to announce his staying as manager, that would have been acceptable.

But this was, for lack of an original word on my part, just completely cowardly and disgraceful.

To announce this decision in the middle of the night, in all likelihood to avoid the publicity disaster which awaits Omar Minaya and the rest of management later today, and to avoid the newspaper headlines and media circus sure to present itself at the team’s 5pm conference.

Maybe it’s ironic or maybe just meaningless coincidence, but Willie’s final days at Shea Stadium as manager took place with his predecessor, Art Howe, sitting just a few feet away in the opposing dugout.  Howe was no stranger to a similarly graceless exit, as the team had announced with two weeks left Howe would be fired at season’s end, yet stayed on to manage as a lame duck.

For a team that has lacked consistency on the field, they certainly have shown it off the field, and for all the wrong reasons.

On a day in which the world of sports showed us that humility and grace still exist in the form of U.S. Open runner-up Rocco Mediate, the Mets reminded us that the other end of the spectrum is very much alive as well.

The team’s hierarchy should be embarassed  and ashamed of the way they handled themselves, looking only to protect their image in the process, while showing no regard for the people whose jobs they were taking away.

And for a team that has always played second fiddle to the other team in town, they can pat themselves on the back because they finally found a way to upstage their crosstown rivals, by giving their manager an exit only George Steinbrenner could have executed.

This was a classless move, by a classless franchise, and the only positive thing I can think of coming out of this is that Willie and his dismissed coaches can rid themselves of the real disaster here.

The team itself.

June 17, 2008 Posted by | New York Mets, Sports | , , , , | Leave a comment

Eye of the Tiger

6/16/08

I started writing this post at around noon on Monday, and it started like this.

After watching yet another dramatic putt touch the bottom of the cup, the greatest golfer in the world, Tiger Woods, continues to establish himself as not only the most dominant athlete in his sport, but arguably the most dominant athlete of this generation, and MAYBE the greatest athlete of all time.

Now, five hours later, and another unbelievable victory in yet another major tournament, how far away are we from anointing Tiger Woods as the greatest athlete of all time?

It’s a bold statement, and before venturing off into debating whether or not he’s the greatest ever, lets start with talking about the greatest athletes of a generation.

The first guy is Babe Ruth, who during the 1920’s and early 30’s was the best there was.

During a dead ball era when home runs were few and far between, George Herman Ruth brought a flair for the dramatic to a game which had never really experience a superstar of his kind.

No, he wasn’t the most graceful guy on the field, but man could he hit.

714 home runs later, including a single season best 60 until 1961, Ruth was first player who transcended his own sport, and became bigger than the game he played.

Being a great athlete has two primary requirements as far as im concerned.

Individual dominance in relation to your competition, and winning.

As far as Babe Ruth is concerned, he had the likes of Ty Cobb playing during the same era, and while Cobb didn’t hit for the power Ruth was able to, he holds the highest lifetime batting average in the history of the game, and until Pete Rose, held the record more most career hits with well over 4,000.

But Babe Ruth was dominant in a way Cobb wasn’t, as his power was a game changing threat every time he came to the plate.

And if you want to talk winning, Babe Ruth played on 4 world championship teams with the Yankees, in 1923, 1927, 1928 and 1932, while also winning 3 (while being a major contributor to 2) world championships with the Red Sox in 1915, 1916 and 1918.

Muhammad Ali is the next guy, as during the 1960’s and 70’s, there wasn’t a better fighter pound for pound.

Between 1960 and 1970, the man didn’t lose. At all.

31 bouts and not a single defeat, it wasn’t until 1971 when he faced Joe Frazier for the first of their 3 historic matchups, that Ali lost a professional competition. Sure enough, in their two subsequent meetings, Ali was victorious both times.

Finishing with a lifetime fighting record of 56-5 with 37 knockouts, Ali is regarded by almost all experts the greatest boxer of all time, and ESPN ranked him as the greatest US athlete during the 20th century.

For the first ten years of his fighting career, nobody was really close to his level of dominance, and upon meeting his match when he lost to an equally undefeated Joe Frazier, was far and away the most dominant athlete his sport had ever seen.

Michael Jordan is the third and only other athlete which belongs in the conversation (before bringing Tiger to the table), as he was never anything less than the greatest player on the floor during the prime of his career.

Jordan didn’t find championship glory until 1991, 7 years after being drafted 3rd overall by the Chicago Bulls in 1984, but once he put that first ring on, there 5 more to follow, including two separate 3-peats.

Jordan retired the most prolific scorer in the history of the game, and his 6 champions rank second only to Bill Russell, who has 11 to his name.

The obvious follow up point to made here is why Russell doesn’t enter into the conversation, and it’s a fair point because his winning is unmatched in professional team sports.

My thing with Russell, and of course he played during the 50’s and 60’s, half a century before I started watching sports, is that from everything I’ve read about him, he was probably the greatest defender and rebounder of his time, but his scoring was nowhere close to that of Jordan.

His career also crossed paths with Wilt Chamberlain, who is also considered by many to be among the greatest basketball players to ever live, if not the greatest ever. Having played the same position and achieved individual success Russell did not, the two seem to cancel each other out as both could be considered the greatest players of their generation.

Which leaves MJ, who when it came to the big moment, shined brighter than anyone.

Game winning shots were a frequent occurance, and the shot he made against Utah (pictured above) which for all intents and purposes ended his career (or the part of it worth remembering) is an everlasting image that will forever be awed at.

A 14 time All Star, a 5 time Most Valuable Player and a 6 time Finals MVP, nobody is more accomplished individually as Michael Jordan, and you throw on top of that his 6 championships and come away with another case to be made for the greatest athlete of all time.

So what about Tiger?

Comparing Golf to sports like baseball and basketball is difficult, because Tiger’s success on the golf course has been achieved without the help of a teammate. So in that regard, the best comparison to be made from those afformentioned would be with Ali.

However, we could start by talking about whether or not Tiger is the greatest golfer of all time.

At the ripe old age of just 32, Woods has compiled 14 major championship victories, second only to the legendary Jack Nicklaus, who won 18 major’s during a 24 year stretch, compared to the 11 years Tiger has needed to collect his 14.

Again, I’m not old enough to have ever watched Jack play during the peak of his career (he won his last Major in 1986 as I was born a year later), but based on not only how many times Tiger has won, but the way in which he has won, not to mention the fact he’s won just four fewer majors in more than half the time it took Jack to win his 18, the arrow would seem to point in the direction of Mr. Woods.

It is also difficult to compare the two based on the very different era’s in which they have competed, as Nicklaus played in an era where finesse and precision was more commonly seen as compared to today where mashing the heck out of the ball off the tee and chipping out of the rough is the more fashionable thing to do.

In fairness to Jack, not only does Tiger thrive his ability to hit the ball farther than most, but his short game is second to none. And this brings up the piece of evidence in not only defending the claim that Tiger is the greatest golfer to ever live, but is arguably the greatest athlete of all time.

The difference in competetiion, between Tiger- the world’s number 1 golfer for an unfathomable 500 straight weeks now- and the rest of the field, including Phil, Vijay, Ernie, etc- is so drastic that often it seems to be a smarter bet taking Tiger against all of his competitors, despite the odds.

Unlike a team sport, Tiger cannot dish and drive, as MJ, Magic and Kobe all had and have the ability to do if they run into s big guy down low. Tiger can’t pass off a long range putt to somebody standing closer to the hole for a one-timer the way Gretzky and Messier could have.

Not trying to take anything away from these other great athletes, but Tiger has won, and dominated in such a way- on his own- that it isn’t a reach to place him on a list before any and all other athletes who have played before his time or during it.

After winning his first major back in 1997, slipping on the Green Jacket at Augusta for the first of 4 times, Tiger seems to have a nact for coming up with the big shot- be it a drive, wedge, chip or putt- whenever the time calls for it.

Jordan is considered so great in part to his ability to perform under the most pressure pact conditions, and Tiger has thrived in conditions potentially more pressure-pact.

When lining up a 14 foot putt, Tiger has to analyze that green, determine any slopes or ridges to take into account, use the right amount of force while considering the speed of the green.

The basketball courts Jordan played on were always 94 feet long, the hoop was always 10 feet above the ground, and even though he had to deal with having his shots contested, the degree of difficulty, at least as far as im concerned, is non-comparable between taking an 18 foot jump shot and sinking an 18 foot birdie putt.

Need proof?  Check this out.

Ok, so how about comparing Tiger to Ali?

Ali didn’t have anybody out there in ring with him to tap in when he got too tired.

He also took far more physical punishment during 15 rounds (when his fights went that long) than Tiger takes during 4 rounds of 18 holes (and sometimes 5 plus a sudden death hole as was the case this past weekend).

And unlike Tiger, it took Ali more than 10 years of professional fighting to suffer defeat, while Woods- who wins a lot- suffered defeat professionally before success.

Margin of victory can be another way of assessing greatness, and in the case of Ali, he won by KO in 37 of 56 victories.  Tiger meanwhile, won his first major in 1997 by 12 strokes, and 3 years later won the US Open by 15 strokes.

I could probably spend hour and hours going through each of Tiger’s wins, big shots and achievements, but in the interest of saving some time and getting right to the point, lets try and determine where Tiger’s legacy, still very much a work in progress, compares to those of the greatest athletes to have ever lived.

It’s scary to think that at only 32 years old, Tiger probably still has some of the best golf ahead of him.

What also helps his cause is his immense popularity, along with his signature moments- be it a fist pump, the red shirt on Sunday or kissing another trophy- all help in creating the force that is Tiger Woods.

Looking back no further than this weekend, in what some are already considering to be one of the classic sporting events ever, Tiger, playing with a bum knee, rose to the occasion like only the greats can do, and overcame the adversity of both his injury and his competition to claim his 14th major title in just 11 years.  And his win wasn’t without one of those signature moments, in fact it included all three I mentioned.  A putt to force a playoff, in his Sunday red, sinking to the bottom of the cup giving us a reaction that only his fans can appreciate and his enemies likely despise.

Ali was a 9 time heavyweight champion and gold medal winner.  Jordan won 6 titles and Babe Ruth, a member of 7 world series championship teams, joins the other two in elite status, each being regarded among the best their sport, and sport in general, has ever seen.

Placing Tiger atop the list of golf’s greats isn’t much a stretch, and as his dominance and success continue, his place along side the likes of Ruth, Ali and Jordan might be a stretch.

That’s because as far as im concerned, his name belongs above them all.

June 17, 2008 Posted by | Sports | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

21

6/4/08

In honor of my day of birth, 21 years ago today, I thought it would be fun to come up with some sort of list comprising 21 items.

Problem was I couldn’t figure out exactly what I wanted to make up a list of.

Before revealing the list I finally decided on, here are some of the ideas I had…

-21 things I can do now that I’m 21.

Problem here was that the first 20 all consisted of me trying 20 different drinks that end in ‘tini’, with the 21st being to walk into a strip club with a 20, asking for singles, and subsequently leaving immediately after.

-21 reasons I don’t want to be turning 21.

I guess that would have sort have put a damper on an occasion most young people usually look forward
to, plus the only thing I thought of was I’m now officially closer to 30 years old than I am 10.  No thanks.

-21 places I’d love to go to celebrate my 21st

Problem here is all I could come up with is a bar, a restaurant, a strip club (for monetary reasons only), and Disney World.  Of course had Disney opened up a Gentleman’s Club in EPCOT, I’d have booked my ticket months ago.

-21 things I’ve never done before that I’ve always wanted to

Easier said than done, because all I could think of are the fact that I’ve never been to the top of Mount Everest, I’ve never jumped out of an airplane and I’ve never eaten a burger with Tomatoes on it.  Then, of course, I realized I had no desire to do any of those.

-21 People I’d love to meet or see in person one day

I saw Bill Clinton once at a Mets game, I’ve seen Michael Jordan Play and the only concert I’ve ever been to was Sarah Mclachlan.  I figure I’m destined to run into Carrot Top at some point and I’ll be all set.

-21 things I’d love to eat right now

I could list 21 things but a slice of pizza and a churro would get the job done.

-21 places I’d love to spend my birthday money

I could probably list 51 places I’d love to spend the money I get, except after I treat myself to that slice of pizza and churro, I’ll probably blow the rest of it at the Gap, buying a dozen different color combinations of the same 3 products they sell.

-21 ways I’d like to change the world

Lock Tila Tequilla and Flava Flav up in a room, forever.  Force Sylvester Stalone to stop making movies.  Ban Bluetooth headsets outside of cars.  Start with those and get back to me.

-21 songs I never want to hear again

Instead of a particular song, how about they discontinue the kidz bop series.

-21 things I would tell Britney Spears if I ever ran into her

Keep the hair, lose the kids and the idea you have a shred of talent.  Oh, and marry me?
OK, so some of the idea’s were better than others, and while I was writing that I actually started to tempt myself into just coming up with a list of 21 ideas for a list, which halfway through just got boring.

Plus, I have a birthday to celebrate-

…and a Chocolatini to get my hands on

June 4, 2008 Posted by | Personal | 2 Comments