Thursday, February 16, 2012


There was a radio DJ on KISU at Idaho State University that had a surprisingly good taste in music for Pocatello.  It was the only place on the dial where a college kid could hear Death Cab For Cutie, Wilco, and Whiskeytown.  He also managed to siphon some money from the university to get a handful of decent bands to come play.  Early in the spring of 2002, he brought in Pedro The Lion.  There might have been 20 people at the show, which started about 3 hours later than scheduled for unknown reasons*.  Opening for Pedro The Lion was TW Walsh followed by Damien Jurado.  Jurado was playing with Gathered In Song at the time and he, along with anyone else who could play an instrument, became the backing band for David Bazan that night.  Aside from the extremely off-putting attitude from Bazan**, the one thing I distincly remember was how good Damien Jurado was. 

It was 4 years until I would see Jurado play again.  This time it was with another group of Seattle post-grunge folk rockers; Rocky Votolato and J Tillman.  Tillman opened with what I thought was a very depressing set and I was seriously worried he was going to take his life behind the venue before the night was over.  Then it was Jurado's turn and I couldn't wait to hear where his songs had gone since the first time I saw him.  The set was great and somewhere towards the end they played a song called "Gillian Was A Horse."  There have been a few moments in my life where I was completely overwhelmed by the power of a song.  This song was one of those moments.  The entire room seemed to stop.  Along the side of the stage all the musicians playing that night and the tour crew were standing next to each other singing along. 

It would be 2 more years before a recording of that song made it on a Jurado record, but I would have a chance to hear it again live.  This time it had been reinvented as a more upbeat tune.  It was during a tour when he opened for Okkervil River in the summer of 2007.  Once again he was the opener for a band getting much more attention than he did, and probably more attention than they deserved.  But that didn't matter to him as he proceded to destroy the audience that was thin do to a late-arriving crowd.  I'm pretty sure nobody in the audience noticed the lack of a full house, as we were all drawn into his songs.  He quietly finished, packed up, and disappeared out of the venue. 

Two fantastic albums and one fantastic forthcoming album later, he seems to be getting the due he deserves.  The Seattle Times has put together a series of covers by other prominent northwestern musicians and it is simply fantastic.  The forthcoming album, Maraqopa, is garnering buzz and praise like no Jurado album before.  There hasn't been a Top Ten Damien Jurado Moments list as a lead story in Rolling Stone, nor has Damien-sanity topped the Twitter Trending Charts.  But after years of putting in the work and going largely unnoticed, Damien Jurado seems to be getting his just due.

*Bazan claimed that they had gotten lost.  I'm guessing they wanted to blow off the show and were halfway to Salt Lake City before Damien Jurado made them turn around and honor the commitment.

**I was probably a little oversensitive at the time.  But Bazan did say they were only stopping in Pocatello for the show because it was guaranteed money.  I respect his honesty now, but at the time it made me hate all things Bazan and I sold my Pedro albums the next day to some used CD store.  Okay, I was very oversensitive.  It took me nearly 10 years, and two great solo albums, to come back around on Bazan.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Madonna Super Bowl Setlist Picks

Charlie T.'s Picks*

Gimme All Your Luvin (with MIA and Nicki Minaj)
Spike and I agree on this inclusion.  It's the only single she has to push right now and her handlers probably think that because it's a ZZ Top cover, all the meatheads watching will love it.  It's going first to set up Madonna's entrance.  Minaj and MIA will be on stage first and Madonna will come rising up out of the stage wearing a furry guitar.

Going backwards in time here.  I wanted to say 4 Minutes would be the next song but there is no way they are letting Justin timberlake anywhere near a Super Bowl halftime again.  Even though they should.  Also, I can see Minaj continuing on stage to collaborate on this song.

Material Girl
She has to play something from the 80's.  Like A Prayer is a little popular of a pick right now and Like A Virgin isn't going to make primetime airwaves, so this is the next logical choice.

Don't Tell Me
Because it was written by the venerable Joe Henry. 

Ray Of Light
This is going to be the closer.  It shuoldn't be, but I think they are going to want to close on a more contemporary note.

*Missed Opportunities:
This Used To Be My Playground
with a stage full of dancers wearing Peyton Manning Jerseys
Take A Bow with a stage full of dancers in Tim tebow jerseys

Annual Super Bowl Halftime Guessing

We skipped last year for reasons directly related to the Antichrist, audio terrorism, hyperactive and overstimulated costume designers, Autotune, lack of Autotune, bad dancing, and more.

So why are we coming back with our annual halftime musical guest set list predictions? For Madonna? Well, we certainly are struggling to post at all. And Madonna does have some songs I really like. Really.*

SIX SONGS (because Charlie set the 5-song precedent years ago and she will abuse the medleys AND because Madonna has the hits and, we all know, likes to show her hits)
1. the new song with the young blood**
2. the other new-ish song with the young-ish blood***
3. Ray of Light****
4. Vogue*****/Holiday medley
6. Music

Too many hits to ever guess. But those are my guesses and I am sort of standing kind of near to them.

* Don't Tell Me (written by a true Spike favorite– and Madonna's brother-in-law– the great Joe Henry) Music, Ray Of Light, Secret (maybe? ack, I can't decide if I hate it or love it), Take A Bow, What It Feels Like For A Girl, Crazy For You (maybe? again. ack.), Die Another Day, Lucky Star (ACK!), Beautiful Stranger, and how did this list get so long suddenly? I don't even own an album. Or a song, for that matter, in this disposable digital download day. But I wouldn't change the station on most of these.

** Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. are for cred, legacy, broader viewership, and– as always with the Material Girl– spectacle.

*** Justin Timberlake and Timbaland. Is Madonna really gone share 2 of her maybe 4-5 songs with FOUR other people? I kind of don't think so, but who cares?

**** Lenny Kravitz played guitar with her at some awards show once for this song. My guess is that she pulls out her famous ex-"friend" Dennis Rodman for this one.

***** And while the exes are coming out, Sean Penn comes and strikes some poses. Seems like a thing he'd do.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Three Ways For LeBron To Finally Win

1. Break up, fall off the face of the earth, get addicted to drugs, possibly die but then reappear looking half dead, disappear again and then 20 years later reunite with your boys and kick off a barnstorming tour of the country, in which you will only be playing in the biggest of arenas, with a couple of ultra-hyped press only shows that look something like this.

2. Beg George Lucas to make another 3 Star Wars movies and be cast as a Jedi with a green lightsaber* who dies in the first movie of that trilogy and then appears as a wise, blue ghost in the next two.  Not only will this give you incredible powers through the force, but you will become so powerful that you will train Batman, lead the A-Team, hunt down sex slave traders in Europe who took your daughter and then kill them, fight and kill giant wolves in the middle of the Alaskan mountains, be the most powerful of all Greek gods, save Narnia from the White Witch and then protect it forever, captain a Russian nuclear submarine, lead an Irish gang called The Dead Rabbits, and inspire Sam to go after Joanna because she is the love of his life.

*Note: There will be an urge to request a different colored lightsaber, like purple or orange or yellow, but resist that urge.  You want the green one or else you will end up getting eaten by giant sharks, have very frail bones and read comic books all day, assemble a task force anchored by Vin Diesel, never get to perform at Beatrix and Tommy's wedding, be Mr. Incredible's best man, coach a high school basketball team, ride on an airplane full of snakes, chain up Christina Ricci, and appear in 90 second clips after the credits of a handful of successful superhero movies.  Trust me, you want the green lightsaber.

3. Win the NBA Finals, in a 4 game sweep while averaging 40 pts, 15 rebounds, 12 assists all without passing the ball in the last 3 minutes of every game, never missing a shot over those 3 minutes, not turning the ball over either, and posting up every single play over those three minutes and scoring 15 points in that stretch.  Then do that not three, not four, not five, not six times, but some number beyond that.  In a row. 

It's really that simple.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Spike's Top Albums of 2011

Tough year. Maybe we say that every year. But it was, again, a tough year to crack the top 10. Kudos to all the musicmakers I love for making this exercise way more agonizing than it ever ought to be. I could, without any trouble whatsoever, compose a top 10 just from Charlie T's also-rans. I could also craft a handful of drastically different lists each with their own compelling criteria (most listened, most likely to still matter to me in 1 or 2 or 5 years, most important, most whatever). I could, but I won't.

And as usual, as if that first paragraph wasn't already a steaming heap of disclaimers, this list could change in the next hour.


10. The Decemberists //The King Is Dead

9. Jim Lauderdale //Reason & Rhyme

I was totally surprised by how often I came back to this album, how many times I found myself singing this album, how many times I referenced this album when working on my own songs. Lauderdale and co-writer Robert Hunter created a timelessly great bluegrass-ish record.


Tom Waits // Bad As Me

7. Joe Henry // Reverie

6. Megafaun // s/t

5. Low // C’mon

Alan Sparhawk with his yearly bid for Song Of The Year (Try To Sleep).

4. Wilco // The Whole Love

3. Gillian Welch // The Harrow & The Harvest

2 people. On every song. Live. This is statement on the power of simplicity (and subtlety and smarts and virtuosity). No bells. No whistles. Just two people playing some finely crafted songs on, most of the time, two guitars with two voices sewn so beautifully that it's impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins.

2. Fleet Foxes // Helplessness Blues

It has come to my attention that it is no longer hip to like Fleet Foxes, that it is cooler to write them off as "better back then" than it is to like them now. Which makes it all the more logical that I love this album. I listened to it every morning all summer and there are still songs and moments on the record that register goosebumps. I promise: I wanted to be cool; I tried not to like it. But I love its ambition. I love its melodies. I love what Robin Pecknold has to say and how he says it. Of course the harmonies and retro-neo-folkie arrangements are the calling card. But it's a fine, cohesive record that, much like most of the albums on this list (but especially Megafaun), is an argument for THE ALBUM. An experience. Something better in one sitting than cut up into shuffled mp3s. A unified vision that feels like a family of songs, a home constructed on ideas and tones and voices.

1. Over The Rhine // The Long Surrender

Yes, this was #3 on my list last year (and I would still put it behind The National and Justin Townes Earle). I did that, knowing that usually January releases get the proverbial shaft due to the amount of time (and familiarity) they have versus the freshness of later releases. But I love this album as much today as I did this time last year. That says something. One of the musical moments of my 2011, maybe even my life, was listening to Linford Detweiler play an extended outro to "All My Favorite People" that, with no words, moved me to tears. To read what I said about the album last year, click here.

THE NEXT 10 (in no order)

Steve Earle // I'll Never Make It Out Of This World Alive

David Bazan // Strange Negotiations (some of the best songs out this year. why didn't it crack the top 10? Because I pressed PUBLISH.)

Radiohead // King of Limbs

Lisa Hannigan // Passenger

Lucinda Williams // Blessed (her best record, in my opinion, since World Without Tears)

Buddy Miller & The Majestic Silver Strings (if this won't make you re-think Leann Womack, nothing will. she DESTROYS the songs she sings on this)

Milk Carton Kids // Prologue (perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the year for me. a real Gillian/David soundalike that didn't feel derivative to me. good playing. good songs.)

Jason Isbell // Here We Rest

Jessica Lea Mayfield // Tell Me

Bon Iver // Bon Iver, Bon Iver (I know: what's my problem?)


Feist // Metals (I have a feeling this one will rank higher years from now)

Dawes // Nothing Is Wrong

Paul Simon // So Beautiful Or So What

Ryan Tanner // Seven Years EP

Blind Pilot // We Are The Tide (the first song is one of my favorites all year)

Foo Fighters // Wasting Light

David Lowery // The Palace Guards (I Sold The Arabs The Moon!)

Wye Oak // Civilian (for once, the hype was right. I liked it a lot. Just didn't get enough listens before list-time. I was late. Sue me.)

Rave On, Buddy Holly // tribute album (especially Jenny O and John Doe's songs)

Adele // 21 (I know...but I liked wee doses)

The Devil Whale // Teeth

Dustin Christensen // Highway Lines

The Jayhawks // Mockingbird Time

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Charlie T's Top Albums of 2011

*This post has been updated with annotations for each album

There were 102 albums released in 2011 that made it onto my listening radar. I managed to give a full listen to 79 of those albums, and partial listens to most of the rest. From that list of 102 albums, there were 35 albums that were inspiring enough to deserve a shot at making the top 10 list. The last weeks of 2011 were dedicated to teasing out the top 10. This was a banner year for music, in my opinion. Many artists from my pantheon of artists threw down the gauntlet and released great, great albums. This didn't make trimming the list down from 35 to 10 very easy. Since they all deserve some recognition, I present both the top 35 and the top 10. The 25 that didn't make the cut are in no particular order. That way if anyone is completely appalled by one album or another not making the top ten, I can always say it was the last album to get cut. But to be honest, every album on the Runners Up list was seriously considered for the top 10 and if I re-wrote this list tomorrow, one of them might find it's way into the top 10. But as of right now, I feel confident that the top 10 are the albums that I liked the most in 2011.

The 25 Runners Up
Over The Rhine - The Long Surrender
The Get Up Kids - There Are Rules
Iron & Wine - Kiss Each Other Clean
Lia Ices - Grown Unknown
The Head And The Heart - The Head And The Heart
Low - C'mon
The Low Antherm - Smart Flesh
Radiohead - King Of Limbs
Wye Oak - Civilian
Bill Callahan - Apocalypse
Kurt Vile - Smoke Ring For My Halo
The Kills - Blood Pressures
Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit - Here We Rest
St. Vincent - Strange Mercy
Beirut - The Rip Tide
Megafaun - Megafaun
Dawes - Nothing Is Wrong
Feist - Metals
Joe Henry - Reverie
Ryan Adams - Ashes And Fire
Laura Marling - A Creature I Don't Know
Battles - Gloss Drop
PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
Paul Simon - So Beautiful or So What
Richard Buckner - Our Blood

The Top 10 of 2011
10. Tom Waits - Bad As Me
This one got in on the strength of the songwriting alone.  Sure there were other great songs written on albums that didn't make the top 10, but these songs really stuck with me, especially New Year's Eve.

9. Little Scream - The Golden Record
It came down to this album and Feist's Metals.  They were similar albums to me, aside fromt he fact that Little Scream backs up Feist on some of the songs, and both got a lot of listens.  But I came across Little Scream from their *Take Away Show and I went back to it for the tie-breaker.  The intro on Cannons was still as strong as the first time I heard it.  And as fresh sounding as I thoguht Metals was, this album had a little something more.

8. David Bazan - Strange Negotiations
This album made a late surge.  I listened to it once or twice early in the year but it didn't take.  I came back and realizzed what I had been missing.  Not only are the songs great, but there is enough fuzz and rocking to keep an edge on the songs.

7. Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues
I didn't put the debut Fleet Foxes album on my top 10 list way back when.  In hind sight, I probably should have.  I made sure I gave this album the time it deserved, and it gave me back exactly what I wanted; introspective lyrics, crisp harmonies and a chance to give them credit for their efforts.  And to be clear, this isn't a make-up pick.  This album is great on its own.

6. Tune-Yards - WHOKILL
I didn't want to put this album in the top 10 because it had gotten so much hype.  But I couldn't deny the infectious hooks and the enthusiasm, even if it is doused in face paint and ukeleles.

5. The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams - Various Artists
I love Hank Williams.  One question I've always asked myself is "If late, great musician X released an album now, like it had been locked in a time capsule, how would it stack up against current albums?"  This was my chance.  It's not Hank singing, but they are his words and they are just as good as ever.  An added bonus is his pedal steel player making an appearance or two to bridge the eras.

4. Gillian Welch - The Harrow And The Harvest
This was one of a couple albums that I thought were top ten albums the minute I heard them.  Not all those albums made the cut, however.  Low, Joe Henry and Wye Oak lost out when push came to shove for the top 10.  But not this one.  This one looked me in the eyes and made me give it a top 4 spot.

3. Bon Iver - Bon Iver
I went back and forth a little on this album.  First, I was surprised at how different it sounded.  Then I realized it was still the same sound, just bigger.  I saw them perform almost all the songs live.  I heard the stripped down, piano only version of Beth/Rest.  It was really a journey to a lot of different places, like the track names suggest.  And the fact that it made me work, but continued to reward me for my efforts had to merit a top 3 slot.

2. Wilco - The Whole Love
This album had its own journey, but it was more of a nostalgic journey through the Wilco catalogue.  At least a handful of songs made me reminisce other Wilco songs.  Sometimes I would think the melody was taken from another song, or a lyric was borrowed.  That is evidence that it fits into the tomes of songs from Tweedy and Co. but it also made those other songs sound better and more fresh to me than they ever have.

1. The Decemberists - The King Is Dead
This album battled Iron & Wine at the onset of 2011 for early year supremacy.  Usually, albums that come out early and come on strong fade towards the end of the year as casualties of over-listening, stronger competition, or boredom.  Iron & Wine faded despite a number of strong songs.  But this album kept coming and coming.  When it came down to deciding which album should be number one, I felt that an album that could withstand 12 month of listening and scrutiny was worth of the top spot.

*Yes I know Feist recorded a Take Away Show, but it hasn't come out yet.  Sorry, Leslie.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Black Converse's Massive NBA Preview

Like most fans, we are excited about the start of the NBA season. We don't know what is going to happen with this shortened, compressed season. Surely chaos will ensue; there will be surprise teams, veteran teams that don't quite get going, injuries, tanking for the best draft since '03*, and an influx of overseas guys comig back in time for a stretch run. It will be a strange year and but we can all be relieved that there will be basketball**. Here are a list of fake prop bets that we came up with.*** Each bet tries to highlight a different storyline for the season. Enjoy.

Over/Under 2.5 Leg Injuries for the Clippers
Spike: Under
Charlie T: Over

Over/Under 12 playoff wins for the Bulls
Spike: Under
Charlie T: Under

Over/Under 12 playoff wins for the Thunder
Spike: Under
Charlie T: Over

Over/Under 1.5 top 5 picks for the Hornets
Spike: Over
Charlie T: Under

Higher Playoff seed: Lakers or Celtics
Spike: Celtics
Charlie T: Celtics

Higher Playoff seed: Spurs or Knicks
Spike: Spurs
Charlie T: Knicks

Over/Under 1.5 Heat MVP Awards
Spike: Under
Charlie T: Over

Over/Under .5 All-Stars for the Jazz
Spike: Over
Charlie T: Under

Over/Under 2.5 All-Stars for the Heat
Spike: Over
Charlie T: Over

Over/Under 4 combined Playoff wins for Washington, Milwaukee, Charlotte, Detroit, New Jersey, Toronto, Cleveland
Spike: Under
Charlie T: Over

Over/Under 4 combined Playoff wins for Houston, Phoenix, Golden State, Clippers, Sacramento, Minnesota
Spike: Over
Charlie T: Over

Over/Under Black Eyed Peas songs being played on every NBA telecast
Spike: Awesome
Charlie T: Over

There you have it. You can be sure we will forget about these wagers we have made as we get engulfed in the drama of the season. I know it will be one for the ages. And who knows, Spike might come around on Chris Bosh before it's all said and done.

*At least that's what David Stern thinks

**For at most 6 more years...then we're going to get crapped on again.

***We had 12 and had planned on releasing them one per day for the 12 days leading up to Christmas, but that seemed a little douchey since there isn't much substance to each bet. Besides, who doesn't prefer ripping open all their gifts as fast as they can?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Every Tear A Basketball

Earlier this year, as Coldplay announced a new album and tracks from it started making their way around the internet, there was a rumor that one of the new Coldplay songs was a rip-off of a Peter Allen song. There was outrage. "How can Coldplay do something like that? Can they not write their own songs anymore?" "Coldplay is a fraud. Everything they have ever done up to this point is a sham." "Chris Martin is the worst thing to happen to music since the Day the Music Died. How does he sleep at night." "Coldplay lost is as soon as Chris Martin married an actress. They are just in it for the fame."

Then the buzz died down. The album came out and the themed tour began to roll along. The dialogue shifted from critique on the songs to condemnation for the stage show and band's thematic uniform couture. Glow in the dark punk. Blacklight homelessness. Their SNL performance looked like a redux of Ke$ha's set from last season. How dare they.

Amid all this Coldplay discrediting I noticed something. I couldn't hate Coldplay. I turned up the radio or the TV anytime a new Coldplay song of came on. I got the songs stuck in my head. I set the DVR for any late-night performances. I did everything short of cover my jeans in fluorescent nail polish. Part of me wanted to break-up with them and move on and to have some disdain for Chris Martin. But I just couldn't do it. Despite having all the reasons to Coldhate, it wasn't within me.

I found the same kind of rhetoric coming at me this wek as the NBA and its players wnet "nuclear" with their labor negotiations. "I'm done with the NBA. How dare they do this to ME." "Without the fans, you are nothing. Stop being so greedy and think about US." "I'm boycotting the NBA...let's go college Basketball!" "Go ahead and bicker over billions of dollars. I won't be here when you get back." "I'm switching to hockey. NHL is so much better. I've always loved it."

I'll admit, I was defeated for about 24 hours after the decertification/disclaimer/disbanding. I was ready to #occupy the nearest NBA arena, write my local congressman, boycott the nearest business of an NBA owner, and burn my Dwyane Wade t-shirt. But as I held the match up to the shirt, I realized I would regret this. I realized the league would play again and I would want to put that shirt on before every televised game and then take it off if the Heat fell behind because I was jinxing them. And then put it back on after they made a furious comeback. I would miss wearing it during the playoffs and hopefully the Finals. I wouldn't be able to hold my anger towards the league. I wouldn't be able to boycott the NBA any better than I was boycotting Coldplay.

Sure, I'd rather be devouring analysis of the Heat/Celtics matchup that was scheduled for tonight. I'd rather Coldplay have made an album more in line with Parachutes or A Rush Of Blood To The Head. At the very least I wish there had been a labor agreement already in place, even if some games were missed, just as I would rather enjoy Mylo Xyloto without the black light psychedelia. But this is where we are. Those decisions aren't mine to make and I can only hold it against them as long as my heart will allow. Turns out it's not very long at all.

Some time from now there will be a montage of LeBron cocking back for a dunk, Dwight Howard blocking a ball into the 4th row, Kobe hitting a turn around, Chris Paul whipping a behind the back pass in traffic, Dwyane Wade making some circus shot and one, and Kevin durant knocking down an effortless 30 footer. It will likely be set to "Para, para, para-dise" and I will likely get a smile on my face as the music fades to Stu Scott setting the stage for Magic, Wilbon and Jon Barry.

I can't hate the NBA. I can't hate Coldplay. And deep down inside, I don't think you can either.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The New, New NBA

Its clear that many NBA players (and fans) have the idea to put on exhibitions in order to make some money and stay sharp against elite competition. We have seen summer league teams go at it, NBA players making cameos in Asian exhibition games, and even guys showing up in playgrounds. Since there doesn't seem to be an end to the lockout in sight, here at The Black Converse, we have decided to take matters into our own hands. We call it the Rolling Thunder Basketball Revue. It is a completely crowd-funded, traveling basketball league, funded by those who care - The Fans.

The Premise:
A traveling league of teams made up of NBA players. Teams are chose playground style with the captains being selected from the All-NBA teams this past season. Captains would be Durant, Kobe, Rose, Howard, Wade, Westbrook, Gasol, Dirk, Amare, Joe Johnson (LeBron opts out so he can play with Wade so Joe Johnson becomes the last team captain...just because you're not on the All-NBA team, doesn't mean you can't get paid like you are) Each team must have at least 5 players, but they can pick as many as they want. This is where it gets interesting. Players aren't guaranteed a salary, but rather they earn their paycheck by winning games each weekend in this traveling basketball circus. The money that comes from the crowd-funded campaign goes into a big pool and it is divided up to be distributed after each game. Winners get 65% of the pool and losers get 35%. This means that the guys are actually playing for something each game. And it also means that team captains can control how much they can earn. Less players on their roster means less of a split.

The Season
It's a 25 week season, with teasm traveling to a new city each weekend. A potential list of cities has been put together and the top 25 cities in terms of crowd fund-raising will be chosen to host the games. All teams travel at the same time, to the same city and play two games each between Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Maximizing TV Viewers) Thats 50 games per team for the season. There is a tournament at the end of the season for the top 8 teams. This tournament takes place in Las Vegas and will be a single elimination tournament (yes this means less games, but higher'll see in a minute)

Each game has a purse that is divided up from the crowd-sourced funding, with the winners taking a mojority share. A large chunk of the money is set aside for a winner-take-all tournament in Las Vegas. The top 8 teams play each other, single elimination style, for a chance at the big prize. Presumably this sum of money would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $50 million. We want it to be appealing. This would be a 4 day tournament. First day has 4 games, second day has two. The third day is like All-Star Saturday; three point contest, dunk contest, H-O-R-S-E, two-on-two tournament. Then the fourth day is the championship game.

If this is successful, we could add new wrinkles in future campaigns. Wrinkles like "Winner Stays" where the team that wins the tournament gets to keep all their players for the next year. Or they get to decide who the other team captains are, thereby splitting up potential dominant teams. Another fun wrinkle would be managing roster moves in a more fun-to-watch way. Roster moves could be made Real World/Road Rules Challenge style.*

Now to the funding tiers.

Base Level: $10 donation
Satisfaction of knowing that professional basketball will be played. And you get to follow along. Think of how much you enjoy two $5 footlongs. Now think about how much you will enjoy this. A much more fulfilling way to spend $10.

Fan Level: $150 donation
This guarantees you a seat at one of the games. It might be a good seat or it might be a nose-bleed. All tickets aside from the first couple rows will be put into a lottery. Donating $150 will buy you a ticket into that lottery.

Real Fan Level: $1,000 donation
This is where you buy the courtside seats. Only you can't buy them for yourself. Sure it's fun to see Spike Lee barking at the refs, or Jack Nicholson being Jack Nicholson. But if you're a true fan, you'll buy these seats and give them away to Make-A-Wish kids, veterans, cancer survivors, widows, other people who deserve a courtside seat.

Official Sponsor Level: $100,000 donation
This gets your logo somewhere on the court, in the stadium, in the telecast, or wherever else we can come up with for logos. Obviously the more you donate, the more visible it will be.

Godfather Level: $80,000,000 donation
This essentially buys you the entire weekend to sponsor how ever you want. Let's say Facebook wants to do something in San Jose, well this is the cost of getting everyone for that weekend. Let's say Google wants to broadcast this on YouTube, this is the cost. Fan Level donations will still be honored. This isn't a private party.

Godfather Part II Level: $160,000,000 donation
This gets you the Vegas Tournament. If you want it and think you can handle it. Don't disappoint us. Fan Level donations will still be honored. This isn't a private party.

Godfather Part III Level: $2,000,000,000 donation
You get to run the entire league, pick the cities, design the uniforms, and make it entertaining. Basically you get to be the Mark Cuban of the entire league. We realize this is a lot of money and probably shouldn't happen. But The Godfather Part III shouldn't have happened either, so it seems only fair that the option is available. Fan Level donations will still be honored. This isn't a private party.

There you have it. Now get out your wallets and lets see some basketball this fall.

*No voting occurs, but there is a faceoff to stay in the league. (televising this could also provide additional revenue) A free agent could challenge a player on any given team to a one-on-one battle. If the free agent wins, they are on the team. If these lose, they are off and cannot challenge again for that leg of the season, nor can the player that was challenged be challenged again for that leg. For example: Team Kobe has Mike Beasley. Well Derrick Williams thinks that he can take Beasley in a one-on-one match. He challenges him and wins. Williams is now on the team. Team Kobe also has Rudy Gay. Brandon Roy has been nursing his knee back to health and thinks he can take Gay. So he challenges him and loses. Gay remains on the team and has "immunity" for the remainder of that leg of the tour. Roy is not allowed to challenge anyone else for that leg of the tour as well. So you have to pick your battles. Hopefully these types of battles wouldn't just be between the guys at the bottom of the food chain. Maybe Gilbert Arenas thinks he can take Kobe and he wins. Kobe is out and has to sit out the remainder of that tour leg. So Kobe is a free agent now and decides to go after Wade, and he wins. Now Wade is out. (This could be kind of exciting, right?) trade could happen the same way. If a player wants onto another team, they must challenge someone and win. If they lose, they are off their team. If they win, the players swap teams. Another example; Pau Gasol decided he wants to play with his brother Marc, but they are on different teams. So Gasol challenges Joakim Noah and wins. Now those two swap teams. Then Bosh decides he wants to get on Wade and LeBron's team. So he challenges Kevin Love and loses. Bosh is now out of the league until the next leg and his team gets to pick up someone else.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dating Jeff Tweedy

My first taste of Wilco was a couple of songs from Being There. I don't remember which songs they were because shortly after that, I found, and was overwhelmed by, the bootlegged Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (can you call it a bootleg if the band themselves releases it?). From there I dug back into Being There and to a lesser extent, Summerteeth. And then the Mermaid Avenue albums. In my world, until the release of A Ghost Is Born, this was Wilco. These albums had a long time to sink in and wear a groove into my soul. They were all part of the same idea from my perspective. To me, those will always be the albums that make up the heart of Wilco, no matter what else comes along. Those albums are my reference point, my Wilco Polaris.

My story likely mirrors that of many third generation Wilco fans. The first generation fans came over from Uncle Tupelo. They loved AM and Being There but consequently struggled with Summerteeth and YHF because they were too different, too experimental or poppy. The second generation of fans came on with Being There and Summerteeth. They didn't seem to have as much of a challenge accepting YHF and A Ghost Is Born, but have likely struggled with (the album) and Sky Blue Sky to some degree (which is considered by some generations of fans as the beginning of the Adult Contemporary phase* of Wilco).

So, Wilco has a history of its fans feeling betrayed and alientated. Lurking just under the surface of those feelings is a less documented history of Tweedy responding to those feelings -- by writng songs to those fans. These responses are usually heavily shrouded in metaphor or guised as a love songs, so most fans don't realize what is happening. But there was one instance where the curtain was lifted and the song was clearly directed at a group of fans; during the Sunken Treasure Northwest Solo Tour he did in 2006.

Here is a brief history of Tweedy writing to the his fans based on their relationship status at the time.

Being There - "Misunderstood"
This one is written to the Uncle Tupelo fans who were upset with the break-up of the alt-country pioneers, and bashed Wilco's first release, AM. He starts out by being nostalgic about being "back in your old neighborhood" where everything is better because it hasn't changed. He ends the song by thanking his fans for nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing at all.

Summerteeth - "Via Chicago"
Tweedy's relationship with his fans had been pretty tempered up to the release of Summerteeth. But I think he had a suspiscion that the album might not be well recieved since it was a sonic divergence from the previous albums which were heavier in the country-folk rock department. The song opens with a pretty little verse about him killing someone in a dream and then watching them bleed and die. The song wraps up with Tweedy exclaiming that he is searching for a home over and over before finally coming home. Home is obviously a metaphor for a place of comfort, for fans that are accepting.

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart"
This is not so thinly veiled. He comes right out and explains to his fans what his intent is with the experimental shift in this album. But he does so with a hint of regret when he asks, "What was I thinking when I let go of you?". The song ends with a whispered exlamation that he is the one who loves them. This is clearly an abusive relationship.

A Ghost Is Born - "At Least Thats What You Said"
Following a trip to rehab, Tweedy realizes he needs to try and work it out with his fans. This song tells us how that went, and its worth noting all the abusive, love/hate lyrics. "Maybe if I leave, you'll want me to come back home" and "You're irresistable when you get mad" shed some light on Tweedy's past actions towards his fans.

Sky Blue Sky - "Please Be Patinet With Me" and "Hate It Here"
One song is an owner's manual to a relationship with Tweedy and the other is a confessional abou thow much he needs his fans. When Tweedy's tongue turns into dust, it doesn't mean that he doesn't care, rather it means he's partially there. So, we are "gonna need to be patient" with him. Because after all, he hates it when the fans aren't around. There just isn't enough to do that will keep his mind of the fact that he needs them.

Wilco (the Album) - "You and I"
Things are finally starting to work out between Tweedy and the fans. Or at least it seems like they are becoming more amicable, despite sometimes feeling like strangers. Even though there are some misunderstandings and words get misconstrued, there is hope for this long and tortured relationship. There is the glimmer of something that can't be had by anyone but Tweedy and his fans.

The Whole Love - "Open Mind"
Well, its been a bumpy ride following (the Album). The fans have left and instead of begging them to come back, Tweedy simply expresses his regret of what could have been. "I could only dream of the dreams we'd share if you weren't so defiant, if you would let me be the one to open up your mind."

Tweedy realizes that "the longer you make music, there is no way you can compete with the early records". There are surely some fans holding that against him. But I think this time I'm going to number myself outside those fans and take his advice. Lets see what letting him open up my mind gets me.

*Sometimes known as the Starbucks phase, due to the album being sold in Starbucks.