Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wake Up Dead

On Idolatry:

Building a person up and putting them on a pedastal can be very troubling, but it's also a bit of an inevitability. When you truly appreciate what a person does, especially creatively, it becomes impossible to separate their person from your own personal love of their creations. However, that love also creates a completely unrealistic expectation of what that person is like and when you find out they are not that person, your whole view of them comes crashing down. Worse is when that person does some awful and you are forced to reevaluate your relationship with them*. This happens to me in music, in sports, in television, in lots of things.

No, this is not what I think about Joyce Manor and stagedives.

I often write down blog ideas in a text note on my phone when I'm unable or too lazy to write them all out. Since I very rarely write blogs anymore, they start to pile up and I feel guilty about that. Also, I often have a huge idea for a blog, but forget the specific circumstance and context in which I got that idea and the prospective blog loses a lot of its steam as a result. One of these notes was about heavy metal fans and their relationship with Dave Mustaine. Well after the fact, I think that was about this idea of misplaced idolatry.

For the purpose of this blog I'm going to stick to music, because idolatry in sports is a whole fucking other thing. 

Everybody has their reasons and ways of liking who and what they do and why. For me personally, I try to separate the creator from their product, so that the created is something that I can still enjoy on its own. In the case I mentioned of Dave Mustaine/Megadeth it's because I love thrash metal. I love thrash and I love it mainly for the riffs. It is extremely rare you find a thrash song with good lyrics (The intro riff and solo there. Hoo-eee) and when they are good it often tends towards comedy/satire, so it is something that I don't stress too much about. I just want to hear fast music and a guitar player that plays real fast and then song does a chug part and I wave my head forwards and backwards. That's it!

With that reasoning, I kind of have to like Megadeth. They play really fast. The riffs are hard. The riffs are heavy. The (musical) songwriting is interesting. They are part of the "Big 4" and as a result influenced other thrash bands that I enjoy. But, they lyrics are so dumb that I often end up laughing at them. And the lyrics are supposed to be serious...

I mean, yo:

My amigo Duff once asked me if I liked the lyrics of Megadeth songs (lyrics are often the most important part of a band for me) and I said no. He said "Then why don't you listen to instrumental thrash?" and I said "Because it wouldn't be the same." I don't care about the content, but I just kind of need it there.

This is because this friend only listens to bands in which he can appreciate the individual behind the performance. I shouldn't say "only" because that's not the complete case, but I feel like that has more emphasis and what is closest to the truth. I don't think this is a bad thing at all. That is his way of approaching this issue and who am I to argue? Why do I care? Does it affect me?

No. In fact I appreciate Duff's stick-to-itiveness. It's a fine characteristic and most wouldn't do that.

But it's just different for me, I don't know why. I just really don't care that much.

So, in being a fan of Megadeth, I have to accept that all of the band's music is written by a tremendous asshole, because Dave Mustaine really is an asshole.

A good illustration of that is the band's "Behind the Music". I know that's a long video and most won't care, but I promise that it is a way better watch than it sounds. Up until the Rust in Peace part, that video is vintage Dave Mustaine.

What I'm trying to get at is that liking Megadeth, or any other band where the braintrust isn't necessarily an angel, can troublesome. If you're a heavy metal fan, and especially if you're a thrash fan, you pretty much have to like Megadeth because the music is really good, despite being written by one of music's all-time dillholes and this creates an interesting fan-artist relationship.

On one hand the stereotype of metal being drunk and high and stupid and only at the show to be angry and mosh is 100% true. When I was at Heavy T.O. in 2011, the crowd watching was actually one of my favourite parts (apart from Anthrax and Motorhead KILLING EVERYTHING), because it was amazing/hilarious to see that your typical meathead-metalhead is still alive and well. Obviously these type of people don't give a fuck about what Dave is saying. Hell, they probably think it's cool/intelligent/informed.

The title track from Megadeth first album, Killing is my Business...And Business is Good!

I am a snyper (?)
Always hit the mark
Paid assassin
Working after dark
Looking through the night
Using infra-red
My target on you
Aimed at your head
$10.000 up front
$10.000 when I'm through
And I know just what to do
And ya know I'll do it too
Then I'm coming back for you
Back for you!
I do the "getting rid of"
Don't tell me why
Don't need to hear the truth
Don't need the lies
Now pay me quickly
And now we're through
It brings me great pleasure
To say my next job is you
Don't you know that
Killing is my business
And business is good [repeat]
You'd better believe it

Is it critical? Is it satirical? Does Dave just think calling himself a "snyper" is cool? Is it all three? Only Dave knows!

On the other hand, there are obviously metal fans who are a little smarter and know Dave is a tool, but like him anyway. At that same Heavy T.O., Mustaine brought out the plaque for the band's most recent album at that time, Endgame, going gold. As he was walking out an audience member beside me yelled "Is that the ten commandments Dave?!", referencing the sudden and drastic conversion to Christianity by Mustaine in 2003. I laughed a lot.

Quote from Mustaine after his conversion: "To be the No. 1 rated guitar player in the world is a gift from God and I'm stoked about it, but I think Christ is better than I am, anyway,"     

What a guy!

I guess all I can give for the reason that myself and other people still like bands like this is that we're here for the riffs.

And Anthrax was way better live anyways.

*Relationship used very vaguely here. Ex. Me listening to an album is my "relationship" with that person.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Pow, Suck On That. You Know?

I do not think it would be stretch for me to say that almost all of my friends think of me as the biggest Toronto Blue Jays fan that they know. The issue of my Jays fandom has been explored previously on this blog*, but it's been a little different this year and I haven't written about it in awhile.

This season has been different because it is the first season that I can remember when the Jays have been in contention. The Jays were at the top of the American League heap when I was born and I was only 5 during their historic 1994 collapse. I have very vague memories of them being great and in fact, the excitement of Joe Carter hitting his home run is one of my earliest memories (Did I just watch that entire video? You know I did. "Touch 'em all Joe! You'll never hit a bigger home run in your life!" is bar-none, the greatest game call ever.). Since then it has been a very long history of disappointing seasons. A winning campaign here and there, but never coming within sniffing distance of the playoffs.

However, this season was entirely different. The club posted the best record in all of baseball during the month of May, due in large part to Edwin Encarnacion's month for the ages. They sat atop the American League East for a large chunk of the season and though they've since relinquished that spot to the Baltimore Orioles, they've still been within striking distance of the second wild card playoff spot. So if you were to measure a season's success in terms of the playoffs, this is by far the most successful Blue Jays season since 1993 when they last won the World Series.

Even you were to measure it in other regards, it's still the most fun I've had being a fan that I can remember. Both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion have had incredibly successful campaigns and have proved that they are arguably the best 3-4 power combination in the league when healthy. The starting rotation, previously the team's main weakness, has been surprisingly consistent and effective. Two of the club's marquee prospects, Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, were both called up mid-season and have been nothing short of spectacular and just the most fun to watch.

Look at that shit! He catches it a few inches off the ground!

Even just this past week the Blue Jays overcame a huge obstacle by sweeping the Tampa Bay Rays at home. They hadn't won a road series in Tampa Bay since 2007, which is especially saddening because both teams play in the same division and as a result play significantly more games against each other than other opponents. That losing streak was bad that I didn't even have to look up any of the specifics just now! They're burned into my brain!

Despite all of this, it can still be difficult to be a Blue Jays fan in Toronto^. Toronto is a hockey town, always has been and always will be and as a result, the Blue Jays have to play second fiddle to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Growing up in Toronto made it really difficult for me to be a Leafs fan, because most of the ones in the city are absolutely insufferable and the worst type of sports fan. They all turned me off caring about the team forever and I don't think I'll ever really be able to care about them.

All of that is inconsequential to the Blue Jays, but the Leafs do affect them in a variety of ways. \

A big one is that Toronto is major market but is forced to operate like a small one. It is the fourth biggest city in North America, making it the third largest market in Major League Baseball, behind New York and Los Angeles and just ahead of Chicago. Those other three cities all have two baseball teams. Their market can support 6 successful teams!* And yet Toronto still struggles to support one.

Earlier this year I was running school tours for CAFKA and a child started talking to me about baseball. I was excited, as the Jays were well in first place in their division and were easily the hottest team in baseball at the time. I asked if he had watched the game the night before and his response was "No, I stopped paying attention once they lost their winning streak." This was in reference to a 10 game winning streak the Jays went on during May. But there is 162 games in a baseball season! Do they have to go on a 130 game winning streak to end the season then? It's long! This kid has it hammered into his mind that he can only pay attention to the Jays when they are winning because of hockey and that kills me. It's not just that he isn't fan, because let's face it, baseball isn't for everyone, but it's that he, and tons of kids like him, are never going to be fans. And that's all because of the sports environment they're raised in.

Another aspect of the Jays having to compete with the Leafs is the way that fans behave at games. It's going to be hard to not sound pretentious and self-righteous here, but I really don't care. The majority of people who come to watch the Blue Jays at the 'Dome are fucking clowns. They're all hockey fans who pretend to care about the Jays because it's the summer and there's no other sports on. Nobody pays attention to what is going on on the field because they're used to the non-stop nature of hockey and they can't be bother to pay attention to something slower paced and more nuanced. Everyone gets way too drunk and does the wave and it creates an absolutely terrible atmosphere at the park. The rest of the league thinks that Toronto fans are a joke and it's really disheartening to go the park to watch something you care deeply about and have the experience be ruined by a bunch of fucking morons.






Y'know I've read books like The Summer Game by Roger Angell and the way he describes how intimate the atmosphere of the ballpark was and how tuned into the ebb and flow of the game the fans were before they were force-fed everything by a giant flashing TV. I feel like the old idea of going to take in a baseball game on an afternoon is really starting to die. Hell, it's been dead in Toronto for as long as I can remember.

Anyways, the season is now drawing to a close with a still slight chance at the playoffs. Even if they aren't in the hunt over the last two weeks, they will still be playing teams who are and will serve an important role in how the American League plays out.

*And hell, I barely post anymore so you could probably just go back a page or two and find one of those.

^Or Kitchener/Guelph in my case. But fuck that shit, I'll always be a Toronto boy.

*Well, the Cubs, White Sox and Mets suck, BUT YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!