Tuesday, September 22, 2009

When Sports Can Be Great ... another small story

OK … to start off … I love sports. Always have … always will. But, I also realize that the importance of sports is so overblown that we have reached comic proportions. All you need do is look at the Dallas Cowboys new stadium: Originally estimated to cost $650 million, the stadium's current construction cost was $1.12 billion, making it one of the most expensive sports venues ever built. Not "the most expensive" ... at $1.12 billion - it's "one of the most expensive" ... Holy Crap!!!

Well, it’s in these ridiculous times that I need to find the true spirit of competition to put my faith back in the goodness of sports. Lucky for me, the internet gives us all the ability to find stories that go beyond the cuddled professional athletes of today – and lets us find stories the remind us that, in the end, it’s game … where the true joy should be in the ability to compete.

That’s why, when I read this story, I felt great!!

The Maryville Spoofhounds could have shut out the St. Joseph Benton Cardinals 46 - 0 at last week's game. But they let the other team score a touchdown.

They did nothing to stop freshman running back Matt Ziesel from running more than 60 yards to put the Cardinals on the scoreboard. Cardinals Coach Dan McCamey asked the Spoofhounds for their cooperation because Ziesel, 15, has Down syndrome and spent the entire season on the bench -- begging the coach to let him get some action on the field.

Hats off to both teams for showing classy levels of sportsmanship and compassion. The rival high schools are about 42 miles apart. Both are north of Kansas City near the Missouri/Kansas border. The Cardinals still lost the game but won a lot more.

Follow this link for the story – and the video of the play!!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Jim Carroll - R.I.P.

In 1980 I was 19 years old and I thought I was a pretty bad ass kid. I had fallen in love with rock and roll - the true rock and roll; Springsteen, The Clash, Dylan, The Stones, The Beatles, Mott The Hoople. The whole punk and new wave music scenes had drawn me in, and I ate up everything. There were no bad concerts back then ... cause every night you went out and rocked with your friends ... the kids in the audience - or the guys on stage - you always felt that you were amongst friends.

Then Jim Carroll released "Catholic Boy" and I was shown a side of the world that music companies have turned away from since the day The Velvet Underground first started making music. And I realized what a real 'bad ass kid' was.

I realized that I wasn't a bad ass. And that there were folks out there who truly talked the talk and walked the walk. The first time I saw the Jim Carroll Band live, I was floored. I knew that entire debut CD frontwards & backwards. Each screaming guitar, each snare drum hit and each pained vocal was tattooed on my soul. And, for the first time - I realized that there were folks out there who lived a life I would never be part. I was never going to shoot anything in my veins - no matter where my life took me. But then - there was no need to - Jim Carroll had traveled that road for me and wrote books and poetry about it - he delivered "the" record about it - and I could look from a safe distance and be amazed that "someone" walked that road and then took to time to tell us about the journey.

There has never been a time when I've heard "People Who Died" and not turned the volume up higher. Some things are just that visceral. And now he's gone, leaving behind a body of work that's so unique ... it really is hard to drop other names in to his company.

William Grimes (of the New York Times) wrote this about Jim. Read it. Then go pick up a Jim Carroll CD, a book ... something. His view on the world was not always pretty - but it's a view that you will never forget.

Jim Carroll, Poet and Punk Rocker Who Wrote ‘The Basketball Diaries’, Dies at 60


Jim Carroll, the poet and punk rocker in the outlaw tradition of Rimbaud and Burroughs who chronicled his wild youth in “The Basketball Diaries,” died on Friday at his home in Manhattan. He was 60.

The cause was a heart attack, said Rosemary Carroll, his former wife.

As a teenage basketball star in the 1960s at Trinity, an elite private school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Mr. Carroll led a chaotic life that combined sports, drugs and poetry. This highly unusual combination lent a lurid appeal to “The Basketball Diaries,” the journal he kept during high school and published in 1978, by which time his poetry had already won him a cult reputation as the new Bob Dylan.

“I met him in 1970, and already he was pretty much universally recognized as the best poet of his generation,” the singer Patti Smith said in a telephone interview on Sunday. “The work was sophisticated and elegant. He had beauty.”

The diaries began, innocently: “Today was my first Biddy League game and my first day in any organized basketball league. I’m enthused about life due to this exciting event.”

By the end of the book, Mr. Carroll was a heroin addict who supported his habit by hustling in Times Square. “Totally zonked, and all the dope scraped or sniffed clean from the tiny cellophane bags,” the final entry read, continuing, “I can see the Cloisters with its million in medieval art out the bedroom window. I got to go in and puke. I just want to be pure.”

“The Basketball Diaries,” reissued in a mass-market edition in 1980, became enormously popular, especially on college campuses. In a film adaptation in 1995, Leonardo DiCaprio played the part of Mr. Carroll.

The writer’s good looks and flair for drama made him ideal raw material for rock stardom. “When I was about 9 years old, man, I realized that the real thing was not only to do what you were doing totally great, but to look totally great while you were doing it,” he told the poet Ted Berrigan in the 1960s. In the late 1970s, with the encouragement of Ms. Smith, he formed the Jim Carroll Band, whose first release, “Catholic Boy” (1980), is sometimes called the last great punk album.

James Dennis Carroll, the son of a bar owner, spent his childhood on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where he attended Roman Catholic schools. After the family moved to Inwood, at the northern end of Manhattan, he won a basketball scholarship to Trinity. There he discovered a love of writing and began spending time at the St. Mark’s Poetry Project in the East Village, falling under the spell of Allen Ginsberg and Frank O’Hara.

Still in his teens, he published a limited-edition pamphlet of his poems, “Organic Trains” (1967), which, with its successor, “4 Ups and 1 Down” (1970), won him a cult following that was enhanced when The Paris Review published excerpts from his journals in 1970. “Living at the Movies” (1973), issued by a mainstream publisher, won him both acclaim and a wider audience.

His life was colorful. Hailed by Ginsberg, Berrigan and Jack Kerouac as a powerful new poetic voice, he became a fixture on the downtown scene. After briefly attending Wagner College on Staten Island and Columbia University, he found his way to Andy Warhol’s Factory, contributing dialogue for Warhol’s films. Later he worked as a studio assistant for the painter Larry Rivers and lived with Ms. Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, the photographer. He chronicled this frenetic period in “Forced Entries: The Downtown Diaries, 1971-1973.”

In 1973 Mr. Carroll left New York to escape drugs. He settled in Bolinas, an artistic community north of San Francisco, where met and married Rosemary Klemfuss in 1978. The marriage ended in divorce. He is survived by a brother, Tom.

Mr. Carroll’s music career started by accident when Ms. Smith brought him onstage to declaim his poetry with her band providing background. Encouraged by the response, he formed his own band. It caught the attention of Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, who arranged a three-record deal with Atlantic Records.

The critic Stephen Holden described Mr. Carroll in The New York Times in 1982 as “not so much a singer as an incantatory rock-and-roll poet.” Like Lou Reed, he had a mesmerizing power, evident on songs like “People Who Died” from “Catholic Boy,” a poetic litany of his dead friends that became a hit on college radio and part of the soundtrack for “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.”

The group’s next two albums, “Dry Dreams” (1982) and “I Write Your Name” (1984), caused much less stir. After writing lyrics for Blue Oyster Cult and Boz Scaggs, Mr. Carroll returned to the studio in 1998 to record “Pools of Mercury.”

Mr. Carroll published several more poetry collections — “The Book of Nods” (1986), “Fear of Dreaming” (1993) and “Void of Course: Poems 1994-1997” (1998) — as well as releasing several spoken-word albums.