Monthly Archives: July 2012

A Few Final Thoughts on the Penn State Fiasco…

For my more thorough analysis, please refer to my post “Eight Year Olds, Dude,” which I wrote when the story first broke (albeit 13 years too late) back in November, 2011.

But with Joe Pa’s statue being removed and the NCAA penalties handed down today, I would be remiss if I didn’t add a few important notes, thoughts and relevant links after having time to reflect, vomit a few times, shake my head enough that I may have damaged a few vertebrae, digest Lucifer Satandusky’s trial and its analysis, digest the Freeh report and its analysis and fallout, vomit a few more times, nod my head with disdain and disgust because I knew back in November that evidence of a massive cover up was all but certainly forthcoming, and control my anger at the rhetoric of Joe Pa’s family members (who may be the only people on earth who are entitled to defend the man on any grounds, but still, in my opinion, have gone too far in confusing/confounding the issues with the facts)… and I continue to shake my head in utter disbelief as I type this….

1)      Joe Pa’s statue should have remained standing…not only for his achievements as a coach on the field and in the Penn State community, but more as a constant reminder of how he failed…failed his recruits, his fellow coaches, his beloved University, the NCAA and the entire sporting world, but most of all, how he failed those kids abused by Satandusky…all of them, those who had the courage to come forward and the countless others (and I am certain there are countless others) who have either not yet mustered that courage, never will, or are no longer around to be counted.

One huge caveat: The statue should be turned around to face the wall behind it, because as great as Joe Pa was as a football coach, he was clearly even better at LOOKING THE OTHER WAY!

2)      I am not entirely sure all of the players in this cover up have been identified at this point. In fact, I am fairly certain there are others, even if they aren’t ever identified or indicted for their involvement. For starters, please do yourselves a favor and read this well-written piece that questions the participation of Pennsylvania’s current Governor, Tom Corbett. Though his side of the story deserves to be told before eviscerating him, I am sure there are myriad State, County and City officials that played a role in the cover up, even if their action (or inaction) was just looking the other way, not following up on a lead or warning or failing to act in a noble way at some point when they otherwise might have.

There are also potential complicit parties throughout college football. Remember, Satandusky was widely regarded as one of if not the top defensive mind in all of college football, and the heir apparent to Joe Pa. So when Satandusky left PSU in 1999 to “spend more time with his charity, The Second Mile,” in the prime of a head coach’s career (55 years old is about the average age of all head coaches in football)…one serious question to ponder is why he wasn’t seriously pursued by other college programs. My bet is he was, and that somewhere along their vetting process, they caught wind of Satandusky’s proclivities and potential legal problems. So the large, unanswered questions are: which other college ADs knew, when did they know and why didn’t THEY follow up with this in any way?

3)      The punishment handed down today by Mark Emmert and the NCAA was swift and fair. Sure, it may have been based solely on the Freeh report and Satandusky verdict, without fully vetting the back-story and true extent of criminal activity, but at this point, it is clear there was an egregious and soulless series of crimes committed, and an even more egregious and soulless cover up that made it all the way up the PSU hierarchy to the highest levels. No matter how this all shakes out in the end, there was basis for levying the most severe punitive repercussions ever to PSU and their football program, and there was also an opportunity to preemptively warn all other schools and athletic programs overseen by the NCAA that institutional corruption of any kind will not be tolerated and will be dealt with swiftly, severely and to the fullest extent of the powers entrusted to the NCAA. Cannon fire was blasted across the bows of all collegiate athletic programs today, and was done so appropriately, before the start of the 20012-13 athletic season, allowing innocent members of the PSU team to leave if they desire and ample time to land on their feet elsewhere.

Oh, and to all of those who believe the NCAA has no jurisdiction here, that PSU’s transgressions did not give the school or team a competitive advantage…I say in my best Jimmy Fallon/Amy Poehler voice, “REALLY?!?!” The cover up was orchestrated for one reason…so BIG FOOTBALL could continue unfettered in Happy Valley and the money machine could keep churning…which in turn, served to give PSU the greatest competitive advantage ever…had this story broke in 1998 or in 2001 without any cover up, the school would probably not have been given the de facto “Death Penalty,” or worse, as they were today. But they would certainly have suffered in reputation, lost recruits, and by being sued by the families of those victims, albeit fewer of them, who came forward at that time. I cannot calculate how much all of that would have diminished the strength of the football program or for how many years, but I can guarantee it would have…I can also guarantee Joe Pa would have had to retire earlier than he did, and that the program would have gone through a rebuilding era from the top down. So to argue no competitive advantage was gained by covering up the Satandusky affair and thus the NCAA had no jurisdiction to penalize PSU is akin to arguing that Tito was the most talented Jackson, or that the Godfather Part III was the best in the series.

4)      To all those who think the penalties were too harsh, particularly for the athletes who had nothing to do with this scandal: Football players had a choice to go to PSU over other schools, and due to the early ruling as well as unprecedented loophole allowing all players to transfer this year with no time lost AND any school who claims a PSU player to add a roster spot and scholarship beyond the NCAA cap to do so…they will all have a choice to leave if they so desire.

THE VICTIMS NEVER HAD A CHOICE

5)      There is a serious problem in our society today stemming from the stigma associated with certain crimes, most notably sexual abuse. Victims often remain silent from shame and personal guilt, allowing perpetrators free reign to victimize others. Furthermore, as evidenced by McQueary’s and the janitors’ cowardly reactions to what they witnessed, even those peripheral to the crimes, who weren’t victims themselves, are often so disgusted, shocked and confused by what they see that they fail to act in a way others would hope they should. Case in point: If a man sees another man kick or punch a child, I am certain that man would intervene. And if the aggressor was much larger than the witness, I am certain the witness would call the authorities and MAKE SURE the perpetrator was brought to justice and the child was out of harm’s way. But in the case of sexual abuse, more often than not, witnesses fail to act as they would for violent acts.  Sure, perhaps McQueary’s reaction (telling Joe Pa and his father) would have succeeded if it weren’t for the larger efforts to cover up Satandusky’s acts by McQueary’s boss and PSU’s “leadership.” But in the moment, when McQueary actually witnessed the abuse, I am almost certain his reaction would have been different had he seen Satandusky beating the child and not raping the child.

6)      It has been said that “the cover up is always worse than the crime.” In this case, I am not sure that is 100% true, but it is pretty friggin’ close. And the fact that the cover up allowed further abuse to occur…the innocence of additional children to be stripped from them…may just pull this cover up even with, in my opinion, the worst atrocity that can be committed by one human being against another in the annals of all sins, from envy all the way down to murder.

7)      No matter how awful things are at Penn State right now, and how horribly their football team and other athletic programs are affected as a result of these near crippling penalties; and no matter how much worse it gets when the civil cases begin and the Brinks trucks are backed into the driveways of all of the plaintiffs’ homes, THE VICTIMS ARE AND ALWAYS SHOULD BE OUR NUMBER ONE CONCERN…please, never lose sight of that fact.

Thanks,

IDROS

 

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100 Guitar Riffs Tells a Bigger Story Than History of Rock Music

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Let me begin by stating that Alex Chadwick’s recent viral video is amazing.

In case you haven’t yet seen it (because you are incredibly busy and don’t have 12 minutes to spare; or, you have been living under a rock, or, in the words of the late great Nora Ephron, spoken by Billy Crystal, trapped under something heavy; or, perhaps you just don’t love music…or Rock & Roll in particular)…please do yourself a favor and click this link.

Hypothesis: Alex Chadwick’s 12-minute amalgamation of 100 of the greatest Rock & Roll guitar riffs throughout history and its viral aftermath seem a telling metaphor of everything that is wrong with American society today.

(A quick aside: The last time someone named Chadwick remotely caught my attention was when this guy coached pretty boy Dean Youngblood against violent goon Racki. You may be wondering what that piece of trivia has to do with this post, or with anything for that matter. The truth is, not much. But I can offer you this: The three most notable actors in Youngblood – Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze (RIP) and Keanu Reeves (yes, he was actually in that flick…seriously…watch it again if you don’t believe me) – all have at least one guitar related credit on their respective resumes.

Rob Lowe is known for his wielding of a different instrument…that sax he laughably pretends to play as Billy in St. Elmo’s Fire. But he also played a role in the movie version of Wayne’s World, which features two guitar playing teenagers…better still, Alex Chadwick and his NPR interviewer, David Greene, reference the classic SNL movie in this recent interview.

The late Swayze, who appeared with Lowe in The Outsiders as well as Youngblood, played a memorable cooler in Roadhouse to a live soundtrack provided by slide guitar phenom Jeff Healey. Many of the artists and songs featured in Alex Chadwick’s 100 licks were played by Healey in that film as well as in Healey’s set lists as a touring musician.

And finally we come to Neo Johnny Utah. We all remember him as Theodore Preston, trying to play the guitar in the cult classic Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure alongside the Lost Boy that Edgar Allen Corey Frog killed in the cave coffin in that great 1980s Vampire flick. (Sure, we know…according to the late George Carlin, Bill and Ted’s guitar music would become crucial to the survival of future generations.))

But I digress…as usual. Wow did I digress this time.

As I postulated, Alex Chadwick’s 12-minute amalgamation of 100 of the greatest Rock & Roll guitar riffs throughout history and its viral aftermath seem a telling metaphor of everything that is wrong with American society today.

We live in a hyper-critical world, and just as talented people across all walks of life now have countless platforms to reach an audience in the blink of an eye, so too do masses of talentless, ignorant, lazy and gutless drains on society have the ability to sit on their couches (or, likely, their parents’ couches), inhaling thousands of calories of high-fat snacks while they peruse endless media outlets such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, et al. Anonymous people, with a veritable smorgasbord of soapboxes at their fingertips, are free to comment on and critique anything they want, voicing opinions on subjects spanning politics, entertainment, finance, society, sports, medicine, etc.

I love that Chadwick’s video went viral. I love that I can turn on my computer and within seconds, have access to something as beautiful, creative, intelligent and thought provoking as this 12 minute stroll down memory lane via modern rock history. And the vast majority of the populace loved it too, which is echoed in the video’s massive reception throughout the interweb in recent days. Even the comments have ranged from emoticon rich smiles to glowing praise. “Love this,” is one of the more frequent comments associated with the link.

Unfortunately, for as much love and praise as Chadwick rightfully received, there were and continue to be far too many “buts” lingering just beneath the love and praise. People repost the link, or comment on the link because they truly believe it is noteworthy and deserving of additional views by their friends and loved ones, but so many of those re-posters and commenters take the opportunity to critique Chadwick’s journey through rock history.

Sure, my own video would have included riffs from artists such as Bob Marley, Jane’s Addiction, The Clash, Elvis Presley, Lou Reed, Steely Dan, Prince, Peter Frampton, The Kinks, Phish, Radiohead and the Talking Heads…and my version likely would have also omitted some of the artists included or repeated in Chadwick’s list.  I may have even chosen different licks from certain artists. But that’s the thing. For one, I can’t play the friggin’ guitar. But even if I could, criticizing Chadwick for his own taste and hard work is inexcusable and unacceptable.

Go out and create your own musical list. Or create something in your own wheelhouse that might be similarly beautiful and inspiring. And if you must criticize, if that itch just has to be scratched, then save it for those who deserve it…those who never even tried, or who completely failed when everyone…or anyone…was counting on them.

Petty criticism is far from a new phenomenon. People criticize what celebrities wear to movie openings and award shows, and how coaches and players execute down the stretch in games. People criticize how their politicians behave in and out of office and how stupid the endings of groundbreaking television shows are (Lost, The Sopranos).

You know why American Idol and Dancing With the Stars and shows like them are so popular today? It’s because most people alive possess little or no talent in what are deemed to be glamorous fields (music, acting, athletics, art…even cooking, inventing, writing and politics). So today, even the vast majority of us have access to those fields…as critics. These shows empower us all to participate, unqualified as most of us are, and we relish the opportunity. We fork over money to vote, we rant and rave in chat rooms and all over the blogosphere, and we feel it imperative to comment all over the social media world, wasting our own time, and likely the time in lost productivity of our employers, to feel like we are part of something glamorous for a brief moment in time.

This 12-minute viral video captures it all in a nutshell. Alex Chadwick invested thousands of hours learning and practicing the guitar, and then had an idea to compile a list of his own personal favorite 100 rock guitar riffs. Then he practiced his musical list, making sure everything flowed, until it felt right. And then he rehearsed. And when he felt ready to capture his list on video, I am sure he played quite a few takes before getting right, or at least error free enough to publicize.

What took Chadwick a lifetime of practice and countless hours to assemble, posted to the general public in seconds. And hours later, it was simultaneously praised and ripped to shreds. Sure, most people genuinely enjoyed, praised and recommended it to others. But a vast majority if not all of those who have watched and listened to the video all had at least one criticism. For some, this was their first thought upon watching it. For many others, it was perhaps the second thought, shortly after “cool,” or “wow.”

Criticisms primarily centered on what was omitted from the list, in terms of a general who (which artists and bands were not included but should have been), and even entire genres of music that were left out or at least were unfairly represented relative to others. Some criticisms I came across thought the list was too evenly distributed across decades and eras of rock music, others complained about which particular songs by certain artists were and weren’t included. Some found sexist and racist issues with the list and still others felt Chadwick played certain riffs longer than others, which discriminated against certain songs unfairly.

The point is, nearly everyone had a complaint or criticism of some sort. And the tragedy of it is, this is someone else’s list and hard work. There are 300 million people in the United States. All have different tastes in music. And when it comes to rock music, every one of us has a different take on what defines it, who should be included and what eras and artists were/are more significant.

There is a big election coming later this year. Let Chadwick’s incredible video be a lesson to us all. Don’t sit on the sidelines and critique. Listen to the music; appreciate the hard work and personal choice that went into its arrangement. Then take his video as inspiration to create something on your own…to affect change, to get involved, or even simply to get off the damn couch and vote in the upcoming election.

There are more problems than solutions in our world today. I promise these problems will not be solved by people (or even by government candidates and officers) who do no more than criticize others and their efforts. The era of passive criticism must end.

Thanks for reading,

IDROS

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