Sunday, February 24, 2008

You'll find God in the church of your choice

My mom once told me that she would rather listen to a Bob Dylan album by herself than go see him in concert. At the time I was kind of shocked that she wouldn't want to see him perform in person, but she explained that there was a big difference for her in the way she was able to enjoy the music in these two settings.

When you are listening to music by yourself, you can make the music having a personal meaning to you. You can take the song and construe it in any way you like. It is up to the listener to connect with the music in a deeper sense without having any outside influence, pressure or assumptions.

At a concert, you are presented with a concrete version of the music and what it was originally meant to be. The presence of hundreds or thousands of other people listening to the same song, in the same venue, watching the same artist, there can be no distinct or personal interpretation. Each individual is force fed a publicly agreed upon version of the music.

I saw Dylan live less than two years ago, and it pains me to say it, but it was a let down. In the twilight of his career, no longer playing the guitar, and practically speaking the words instead of singing, the version of Bob Dylan that I was presented with was not in line with the way I saw him and his music in my mind.

I guess I still prefer to envision him as he was in the early 1960's, a renegade from Minnesota who moved to NYC and was able to channel the work and spirit of those folk musicians before him and produce a sound all his own. And I feel that if I want to, I should be able to conjure up any vision of him/his music I desire.

The way that I interpret and feel from listening to "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" isn't dependent on what a critic or some dude standing next to me at a concert or even Bob Dylan himself feels about the song. My relationship with the music needs to be untainted by outside speculation or influence.

So, what I have come to is the idea that the music is mine. I can enjoy, say, John Wesley Harding regardless of "how well it was received" or what some irrelevant critic said about it. All that matters is how I come to terms with what I hear and what it ends up meaning to me.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tiny Tuna Tumbling Toward Tibet

The New York Knicks lose 124-84 to a mediocre Philadelphia team last night.
The Syracuse Orange shoot 29% from the field and lose by 11 in a practically must win game at Louisville.

As much as I want to believe, both of my squads seasons are for all intents and purposes over. Sure the cuse could go on a quick run to finish up the season, especially with a big game with Notre Dame coming up, but they are just too thin this year to really be much of a threat. Sure, they can win a big game here or there, as they did last saturday against Georgetown, but with all of their starters playing 30+ minutes a game, they don't seem to have the depth to compete with the top teams in the country. However, the future looks bright as they are getting two former starters, Devendorf and Rautins, back next year from injuries and a great assemblage of young talent. If Greene returns for his sophomore year, they will have an incredibly talented and deep squad that should definitely be in the hunt for a national championship.

The Knicks on the other hand are just plain miserable. Isiah Thomas has run this team into the ground. The roster is filled with malcontents and mismatched parts. Outside of Crawford, Lee, and Balkman (and maybe Nate), this team should just be gutted and start fresh. The payroll to wins ratio is off the charts. Hopefully Dolan will have an epiphany and give Isiah the ax sooner rather than later. He has proven without a shadow of a doubt that he can run a team straight into the ground. Congrats.
The only bright spot is that they finally should have a lottery pick this year and could pick up one of the stud college freshmen. Hopefully someone else will be dumb enough to fall in love with Randolph's double-double numbers and give us a couple players to work with for the future.

But I guess I can't really complain because...


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Malcom Gladwell

In my humble opinion, Malcom Gladwell is one of the most gifted writers of our generation. He wrote the bestselling books "The Tipping Point" and "Blink" and is also a writer for The New Yorker.

He has written about everything from the steroid scandal in the MLB to the issue of moral hazard in our healthcare system to ending homelessness in the US. He writes in a style that is unpretentious and straight forward. Lately I have been reading and rereading all of his archived articles and anything else I can find from him online.

I remember reading "The Tipping Point" last year while I should have been reading some obscure academic article for one of my classes. I just felt to frustrated by the way readings in academia were made to be as complicated and abstruse as possible. It was as if the writers felt that the more difficult and convoluted their writing was, the better it would be.

He writes in such an inventive and creative way, always looking for different ways to look at an issue and trying to find out what questions are not being asked. I still haven't figured out what about his writing is so appealing to me, but I am beginning to think that the way he uses a number of different lenses (psychological, sociological, economic, etc...) to figure out what is really at the crux of the social issues that he investigates is what makes him such a powerful and persuasive author. I want more people like him in charge of how our world is run.

I just wanted to clue my 3 loyal readers in to this great writer. I highly recommend checking him out. Also, he has a fresh afro.

Monday, February 11, 2008

expandable horizons

So, we are still working out how we are going to make this bike trip happen. Understandably there has not been a whole lot of people who have come out and expressed a strong interest in spending 2 glorious summer months on a bike. However, there have been a good number of individuals who have said that they would be willing to bike for a day, weekend, or week. Using this new knowledge, we're planning on tailoring out outlook for the expedition a little bit.

Some Facts-
1. We are going to be biking from Poughkeepsie, NY to the Pacific Ocean just west of Portland, OR.
2. The trip is going to take a little more than 2 months.
3. We are going to be biking on average 60 miles a day. Some days more, some days less.
4. The goal is to fund an organization that helps to provide basic necessities to those in the most need of them.
5.We are going to be using the trip to raise money for the United Way. The United Way is a national network of more than 1,300 locally governed organizations that work to create lasting positive changes in communities and people’s lives.
6. We are going to be reaching out to as many United Way chapters along the route as possible, hoping to raise money, pick up riders, and spread the word of what we are trying to accomplish.
7. The fundraising goal right now is going to be set at $15,000. I feel that this is not an unrealistic sight, but one that can be reached with a little help from our friends.

We had originally wanted each of our riders to raise $3,000 each. This was under the assumption that all of our riders would be with us for the whole journey. Since it appears most of the people who will be taking part in this trip will be with us for less than the full ride (roughly 3,000 miles), we are going to adjust this strategy.

If we can reach out to friends/families/neighbors/associates to support us, they can in turn tell their people about it. The possibilities are endless. The message of what we are doing is sure to reach the ears of people who are excited about it. These are the people that we want to get in touch with. Those that love the idea of spending the summer exploring this great land of ours and helping others at the same time. The only way that we can find out how great this could be is to go out and do it.

If you are interested in what we are doing there are a number of different things you could do.

1. Sign up to bike for however long or short you want to.
2. Pledge some amount of money towards the WBFF. ($10? $.10/mile? come on, you're loaded, now open up that damn wallet.)
3. Hand out our fliers/brochures out to anyone you meet/ Tell everyone you know what your friends Joe and Jer are trying to do this summer.
4. Email me and tell me what is on your mind. (

Monday, February 4, 2008

I lost my voice.

1. After yelling, hooting and hollering for a good 3 hours last night as the good guys righted all the wrong in the world of the NFL, I can barely talk now. I can't remember the last time I lost my voice, maybe the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago 2 years ago?

2. I just found out today, that because of some bureaucratic bullshit law in NYS, I cannot vote for my man Barack Obama in the Democratic Primary tomorrow. I registered as an Independent as a young, naive 18 year old 4 years ago, not knowing much about the political system or where I might fit in. Since I changed my address recently, I sent in a change of address form in the beginning of January, indicating that I wanted to vote as a Democrat from my current address. Apparently, if you want to change your party affiliation, it must have been done in October. I guess the great empire state just wants to make the voting process to be as difficult as possible so the least number of people will be able to participate. I am disenfranchised. I am furious.

If you are reading this, VOTE FOR OBAMA! The man is a stud.
Nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Giants: Barack :: Patriots: Hillary

The underdog who isn't supposed to have come this far. The overwhelming favorite that all the talking heads on every tv station are picking to win. The contender based on the principles of all that is good in the world. The looming shadow that will manipulate and maim everything in its path and impose its ugly will on the rest of our universe.

We need to see some new faces. Enough with these regimes that have been dominating our political and NFL worlds for as far back as we can remember. We need Plax strutting around with the trophy held high, we need Barack giving a triumphant victory speech after his pundit-defying win in California, and we need Eli Manning looking around dumbfounded after throwing for 3 TDs and finding Peyton and giving him a swift kick in the ass.

We need change we can believe in. We need to upset the corrupt system of tyranny and cheaters. The ultimate battle of good vs evil. This is a momentous time for America.

I can't wait for kick off.