Monday, June 30, 2008

Tampa is the lost city of Atlantis

Like Istanbul or St. Petersburg, Russia, the city of Tampa once went by a different name. According to author Dennis Brooks and his 30 years of research on the ancient writings of Plato, Tampa was once the lost city of Atlantis. In this YouTube clip and its accompanying book, Atlantis Was America: Tampa Was The Royal City, he explains his theory.

And in the words of the nearly-as-wise modern-age philosopher Scarface from the stirring cinematic masterpiece "Half Baked", "I believe him, yo. I don't know why, but I do."

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Requiem for the Orange Bowl, Domain of Manimal

I received this image in an email from a good friend the other day. This is what's left of the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida.

The Orange Bowl was one of those rare places that transcended sports. Although it was the home of those talented (and cocky) Hurricane teams and those ancient, way-back, long ago championship Dolphins teams, and was the location of five Super Bowls, it also hosted some the biggest names in music. According to the all-seeing and all-knowing Wikipedia, the Orange Bowl hosted performances by The Rolling Stones, U2, Madonna, and Michael Jackson (which I think was his Super Bowl performance, so that really shouldn't count).

Personally, I only went to the Orange Bowl once. No, it wasn't to see the Seminoles lose to the Hurricanes in one of the many missed field goal games ("Wide Right" even has its own Wikipedia entry).

I went to see Metallica.

Way back in their pre-St. Anger days, back when Jason Newsted was still in the band, and fresh on the heels of their Symphony & Metallica release, Metallica included a stop in Miami on their "M2K Mini-Tour". Thanks to Encyclopedia Metallica, I know now that this show occurred on December 28th, 1999. Check that out, they even have the set list and everything. Very cool. But I digress ...

Other than being the largest show I have ever attended (some 80,000 strong), and besides the fact that it was my brother's first concert, and besides the fact that I also saw Sevendust, Creed, and Kid Rock there as well, my Metallica experience at the Orange Bowl changed my life forever. It was the day I met a man - nay, a legend - named Manimal.

After spending the majority of the opening acts near the stage, my brother and I were forced to vacate our spot and venture nearly mid-field during Metallica's performance. Call us wimps, but between the constant shoving and being pressed into other sweaty male bodies we were becoming quite uncomfortable. So we decided to high-tail it to a spot where we could see the show without getting a steady diet of elbows to the ribs.

Back in the day, my brother was a big dude. Although only 16, he was, if I remember correctly, "a biscuit shy of 300 pounds". So when he said he was going to a less-crowded spot, I smartly decided to follow.

As you can imagine for a crowd that size, people were everywhere. The stage was located in the endzone and people were all over the field. Although I don't how rowdy the crowd was during Sevendust, Kid Rock, and Creed, when Metallica hit the stage the whole field turned into a warzone. Bodies running into each other, people beating the shit out of each other, and dancing crazies spinning like whirling dervishes. With size on his side, my brother cared little for this large array of oddites. With me in his wake, my "little" brother mowed through several mosh pits, throwing people out of his way on the journey to safety.

When we finally reached a relative area of calmness, where people were actually watching Metallica instead of impersonating human locomotives, we asked around to see if anyone would be moshing in the area. If so, we were ready to move.

Our answer came from a short, bald, stocky, stereotypical biker dude wearing a t-shirt that read "Fuck You, You Fuckin' Fuck". Looking deadly serious, this beast of a man said, "I'm Manimal, half-man, half-animal." He then proceeded to show us the biggest man-ring I have ever seen. It resembled a class ring, only two to three times bigger.

"You see this ring," he asked.

Of course, how could we miss it?

"Nobody is going to mosh near me. If they do, I'm going to hit them with this ring."

Sure enough, true to his word, no one moshed near Manimal. And to this day, Manimal remains one of the most intimidating people I have ever met.

So although the Orange Bowl is now gone, I still live by a few simple rules: don't mess with people who wear masks, don't cause trouble with people with facial tattoos, and never, ever mess with a guy named Manimal.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

George Carlin (1937-2008)

He didn't pass away.

He didn't have a terminal episode.

He didn't have a negative patient care outcome.

And he damn sure didn't expire.

He fuckin' died.

On a personal note, I've been a huge Carlin fan for years. I finally got the chance to see him live in late 2006. And even though his most recent performances sound more like a bitter old man complaining (see his comments on fat people, people shopping at the mall, Americans being lazy, etc), and even though there was some drunk, annoying, loud, obnoxious boor of a woman behind me hideously laughing at every little Carlin utterance, I must admit seeing George Carlin was like seeing a master at work. He was the King of the Counter-Culture, the Rembrandt of Rhetoric, and the Leonardo of Language.

And so to quote from a Carlin re-visit to his Al Sleet "Hippy Dippy Weatherman" sketch, "When there is nothing left to conquer in your field, hey, it's time to leave."

Rest in Peace, George Carlin.

Discovering Bo Diddley

For years I was ignorant.

For years I knew nothing of Bo Diddley.

Thank goodness I came to my senses.

Although I have an extensive blues collection, not before last week had I owned any Bo Diddley albums. Following the news of his recent death however, I bought Bo Diddley's Greatest Hits. Now I am trying to figure out how Bo Diddley passed me by for so many years.

(By the way, did you know in Philadelphia, a Bo Diddley's Greatest Hits CD is worth 50 bucks? But I digress. Getting back to the story ...)

I like to think I am pretty knowledgeable about the blues and its influence on early rock and roll. I have albums (CDs, songs, etc, etc.) by Robert Johnson, Son House, and Lightnin' Hopkins. I have Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and Howlin' Wolf. I have BB King, Albert King, Junior Wells, and my personal favorite, Buddy Guy. But I never had any Bo Diddley.

So needless to say, once I hit play and listened to some Bo, I knew I had been in the dark all these years.

Even though I had all the aforementioned blues tunes and knew my blues history, I never knew where the rock sound of early rock and roll came from. Where did the Rolling Stones, the Yardbirds, and later Aerosmith get their sound? Was it a British thing? Did they make it up? No, it was Bo. Bo Diddley was my missing link in the history of rock.

Unfortunately, it took his death for me to understand the importance of Bo Diddley. Rest in peace, Bo.

P.S. However criminally underrated Bo Diddley was, multiply that by 10 and that describes Willie Dixon. He not only wrote songs for Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and dozens of others, but covers of his songs helped launch the careers of The Stones, Led Zeppelin, Cream, and countless other rock and blues groups. If he was around today, Willie Dixon would be bigger than Sean (Puffy, Diddy, whatever) Combs and Timbaland combined.