Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

By: Raul Parra
Email: rp@99sportsproblems.com
Twitter: ParraPalliative

When I was seven years old my parents decided to get a divorce.  I don’t remember much of my home life from this point.  perhaps it is an emotional blackout, perhaps my seven year old brain didn’t care enough to file away those memories.  When I go to draw water from them, the well is dry.  I do remember after sometime I wanted to go live with my mother.

We moved into a well lived apartment in the on the South Side of Chicago.

Mom was free and becoming her own woman.  Myself… a pudgy slab of clay.  No direction and formless.  Scared and excited.

Cannaryville is like the negative image of Mayberry.  There are drugs and there are gangs.  There are haves and have-nots.  Sometimes the have-nots seem to out number the haves.  However, much like Mayberry, the old neighborhood also had community.  Strong bonds that stem from family and the lingering memory of what it is like to be a minority in a strange new country.  (Cannaryville is predominantly Irish American)

In what seemed like a short time to me, I went from my old neighborhood of Pilsen, where I had a few friends and seemed to know my place on the totem pole, to becoming a stranger in a strange land.  Needless to say I quickly became a shut in.

I remember walking in colorful Fall afternoons after school.  All manner of orange leaves fell like comets to Earth.

I remember the snarls of bullies.  Scraped knees and bruised fists.

After a few rounds and incidents with a few unsavory fellas I decided to give up on Me

I wanted to fit in.  I had no desire to be different.  I wanted to look like everyone else, talk like everyone else and find my niche.  I just wanted to put my head down and be ignored.

After awhile I did just that.  I stopped standing out.  I stopped talking loudly.  I shrunk like a wilting flower.  I thought I was happy.

Then with a flash.  Without warning. With little to no care of what would happen to me, a friend of my mother gave me a milk crate full of Doors paraphernalia.  Magazines, pictures, albums, posters, books and VHS tapes were haphazardly thrown into this Pandora’s box of Jim.  It’s like somehow he knew I was searching for something more than little league and pee wee football.

I don’t remember the first Doors song I heard or the first album I slipped into my CD player.  I do remember the collective feeling I got from those first few listens… that feeling was fear.  Frankly,  The Doors scared the shit out of me.  Their twisted carnival moans and Jim’s syrupy vocals were enough to make my hair stand on end.  When you’re seven-ish and you’re falling asleep to the radio serenading you and this comes on.. It might be enough to freak you out…

Over time the fear subsided and new and original ideas floated to the surface and without trying to, I began to break the mold.  Jim became somewhat of a mentor to me.  The older I grew the more my obsession grew and more importantly the less I wanted to fit in with others.

Jim was the first to turn me onto poetry, way before any teacher could sink their claws in me.  It was because of him that I first fell head over heels in love with the Beat poets

“I realized these were all the snapshots which our children would look at someday with wonder, thinking their parents had lived smooth, well-ordered lives and got up in the morning to walk proudly on the sidewalks of life, never dreaming the raggedy madness and riot of our actual lives, our actual night, the hell of it, the senseless emptiness.” – Jack Kerouac

Morrison was also responsible for directing my compass toward the horizons of philosophy.  His love of Nietzsche became my love.  When I first read words like this I knew there was more than the racially divided neighborhoods of Chicago out there waiting for me

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche

He was also responsible for turning me onto the Blues, which in turn sparked the idea that I could be a musician one day.  20 some odd years later I’m still strumming chords and beating rhythms out on my ragged drum set.

So how do you honor someone who has meant so much to you and literally shaped you as an artist and person?  I have no clue.  The only thing that came to mind is to tell my story and hope that it would inspire you to go search out some of those early heroes of yours and once again heed whatever message you once gleaned from them.  Even if it is only for a second, relive those afternoons when you had a hero.  Remember what it was like to not know who you are.

R.I.P

James Douglas Morrison

(December 8th, 1943 – July 3rd, 1971)

by: Tony Leva
email: tonytrucker1969@gmail.com

Bear Down, bitches!!

This week, the Bears are ensconced in their first Organized Team Activity (just a fancy term for practice) with plenty of new personnel and coaches. Mike Tice has taken over for the tyrant known as Mike Martz as offensive coordinator and Jeremy Bates has been installed as the passing game coordinator. Bates is a good friend of Bears QB Jay Cutler and has always worked well with him. That’s a far cry from the adversarial relationship Cutler has with Martz. Listen closely at the 0:24 mark. This says it all about their relationship…

Martz’s system was never a good fit for Cutler’s strengths, which include being mobile and being smart enough to read a defense and change the play at the line. Martz’s offense did not include audibles and frowned upon the QB moving out of the pocket. Tice and Bates have said they will allow Cutler to have plenty of input into the playcalling, which is a great thing. When your QB hates the system and the coach who stubbornly insists on running it, even when the franchise QB is getting mauled while running it, replacing the coach is a no-brainer. Cutler took more sacks and hits than any QB in the NFL the past two seasons. Check my math, but that sucks.

As for the new personnel, we haven’t added the offensive linemen we needed, but if Gabe Carimi comes back healthy, the line will improve by his addition. But the big additions are to one of the worst WR corps we’ve seen in forever, which is saying a bunch considering the Bears have never had much of a top-flight corps to begin with. All-Pro WR and legit asswipe Brandon Marshall has a great history with Cutler from their Denver days and have already expressed their joy at being reunited. 2nd round draft pick Alshon Jeffery is another big-bodied WR who should pair nicely with Marshall. This bumps Devin Hester down to play in the slot and Earl Bennett, Cutler’s recent favorite target, to play as the 4th WR. An actual, legit NFL WR corps. I may wet myself.

The defense was bolstered in the draft and the core guys, Urlacher, Briggs, Tillman and Peppers, should have enough left to give us a chance to have a top-10 defensive unit. Well, with good health we have a shot. The window is closing on the effectiveness of these guys so we need to take advantage.

Football season can’t get here fast enough, since the Cubs blow ass right now.

Perfecting the Art of Suck

As things went from piss-ass shitty to fucking unbearably craptastic for the Cubs, the buzz has been about bringing The Riz up to fix the offense, cure cancer and convince Kate Upton to do a sex tape and upload it for free. Or something along those lines. As much as I can’t wait for The Riz era to start, he won’t do any of the aforementioned stuff all by himself. He’ll help when he gets here, but the service time issue is the greater concern. They’re going to wait until June sometime to bring him up and delay his free agency eligibility. Fine with me.

There is so much wrong with this team that I don’t know where to begin, so let’s focus on a few positives for now.

Starting Pitching

The starting pitching has been really good for the most part. Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster and Jeff Samardzija have all been about as good as could be expected, with Samardzija exceeding any expectations anyone could have had for a converted reliever who has been as inconsistent as a depression case using homemade Prozac. Paul Malholm has been pretty good as well and Travis Wood has contributed as well. It’s nice that the Sean Marshall screamers have been silenced for now with Wood pitching well. Those clueless fools never fail to give me a chuckle.

Starlin Castro

The lone Cubs All-Star last year, Castro has picked up where he left off after becoming the youngest player in NL history to lead the league in hits. He’s still a work-in-progress in many areas, but he’s brimming with talent. As evinced here…

Gotta love this type of stupidly good talent.

Dale Sveum and the coaches

The Cubs have been playing aggressive baseball. From baserunning to defensive positioning to going right after hitters, the coaches have put their stamp on this team in the way they want them to go about their business. Even with the recent stuff about Garza and Marmol not throwing the pitches the staff wants, this has been a positive so far. I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do with some more legitimate ML talent.

The Show that Won’t Fucking Die.

Over 13 million votes for the final vote on Wednesday. (No, I don’t watch this show. My wife and girls do and I caught the last 5 minutes the other night when the winner was crowned.) Apparently, some guy named Phillip Phillips won, beating some 16-year-old girl. I haven’t heard him sing yet, but I’m sure he’ll be coming to a low-rent dinner theatre near me sometime soon. There have been some very talented winners, of course, but chances are they would have been discovered anyway. Jennifer Hudson and Carrie Underwood come to mind. Some of the shit that has won…Taylor Hicks, David Cook, Fantasia….really are pushing it as to being considered stars.

While the world certainly would manage to not explode if this show went off the air, the thirst the American public exhibits for this show never fails to amaze me. The early shows are pretty funny, when the truly talentless come in and get their metaphorical nuts squashed, but when they whittle the “talent” pool down to whatever they take to Hollywood, it gets silly. Shoving some of these clowns down America’s throats…anyone remember that hack Sanjaya they tried to hype as an uber-talent?….is just crap. I’m no great judge of vocal talent, but I know what I hear and some of those people have no business doing nothing more than singing in church choirs or in the shower. Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s Elvis pissing on my leg.

Unfortunately, this show is a phenomenon and isn’t going away any time soon. I’ll stick to Laverne and Shirley reruns, thanks.

By: Raul Parra
Email: rp@99sportsproblems.com
Twitter: ParraPalliative

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The Joints

B.B. King’s Blues Club  –  This was the first place I stopped in on my little Southern Adventure.  When I first walked in, like many places on Beale Street, there was a band already in the throes of a Blues Orgasm.  A smile stretched across my face and I thought, ok this is it!  However, I was quickly whisked away to another part of the building.  Torn from the sonic assault of the band.  I was marched up a dark staircase into a modern day speak easy.

What I didn’t know at the time is BB is hiding a fine dining restaurant on top of his kick ass juke joint.  Try the Duck and waffles, they’re to die for.

If you’re not into the fancy pants stuff head down stairs to catch an earful of blues and eat some of the best ribs I’ve ever had.  Also, your visit would not be complete without drinking a Strong Island Ice Tea and having some snacks off the  Meat and Cheese platter.

Flying Saucer – A tad bit off of Beale, this bar turned out to be the missing link in my life.  Quirky, friendly, fun, sexy (love those skirts ladies) and full of beer!  You can’t miss with this place.  It is easily in my Top 10 favorite bars of all time.  Special thanks to Courtney and Tiffany for making our first night there special, we will never forget you ladies.

The Joints to Avoid

Alfred’s – This place completely avoids the gritty/dirty South blues vibe of most of Beale and replaces it with a frat boy ambiance that is normally reserved for a college town rape-huts (AKA bars.)  Let’s put it this way, when you’re located on one of the most historically significant sites in America in terms of Blues culture, you don’t play Daughtry through the PA.

Pig – From the outside this spot looks like a for sure winner.  They even have a trophy in front window claiming to have won “Best Ribs 2003.”  Well in my opinion the fire must have went out in their smoker since then.  “Best Cold Food, Filthy Dining Room and Shit Service 2012.” is the trophy I would set aside for them.  Just cause your slogan is “Pork With an Attitude!”…doesn’t mean you should act like a dick.

Things to do When You’re Not Drunk

Rock N’ Soul Museum –   Whether you’re a hard core fan of Rock or Soul or just getting into the mix, this place is for you.  The museum does a great job of giving you a fantastic overview of the impact the Memphis music community has had on the greater music landscape from 1930-1970’s.

Sun Studios – Say what you will.  I am telling you this is the birthplace of rock and roll.  If you don’t know the history of Sun.  Stop what you’re doing… get down to Memphis and ask El Dorado to school your punk ass in the history of our rock world.  End of Story.

My Top 5 Beers

While I was slinking and gallivanting the streets of Memphis I had the pleasure of sampling over 20 different craft beers.  The list below is what i enjoyed most:

  • Green Flash, Double Stout (American Double/Imperial Stout8.80% ABV):  Jet Black, smells of chocolatey malts and tastes of coffee and a tiny bit of fudge.
  • 1516 Brewing Company, NZ Victory Hop Devil IPA (American IPA, 6.70% ABV):  Orange like amber color, smells of citrus and hops and tastes of grapefruit.  Little bit of bitter mixed with a subdued sweetness.
  • Yazoo Brewing Company, Dos Perros (American Brown Ale, 3.50% ABV):  Pours a nice brown color, smells of  nuts and toffee and tastes earthy and sweet, very light cocoa.
  • Spaten-Franziskaner-Bräu, Premium Lager (Munch Helles Lager, 5.20% ABV):  Clear, straw yellow, smells of grassy hops and hints of lemon.  Tastes of bread like malt.
  • Yazoo Brewing Company, Sue (American Porter, 9.00% ABV):  Pours black as night, smells of smoke and tastes the same.  I absolutely adore this beer!