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Posterized: Elliott Smith / Steamboat / Austin, Texas

posterized n  – 1. North American slang derived from an action in the game of basketball in which the offensive player “dunks” over a defending player in a play that is spectacular enough to warrant reproduction in a printed poster  2. to be humbled, shamed, and exposed as an inferior athlete   3. a blog series on BDWPS.com that revisits various concert posters collected over the past ten years by contributor Android50

To be posterized is to be remembered – whether it be Tracey McGrady over the towering Shawn Bradley, Malik Rose humbling the finger wagging Dikembe Mutumbo, or Vince Carter shaming every unsuspecting European that got in his way during the 2000 Olympics.  The concept of being posterized began with the Airness himself, Michael Jordan, victimizing NBA rosters throughout the late 80s and early 90s. Guys like Patrick Ewing, Kevin McHale, and Hakeem Olajuwon will forever be immortalized thanks to their inclusion on iconic Jordan posters that adorned the bedrooms of every warm-blooded teenage boy between 1986 and 1993.   My childhood bedroom would be one of these many Meccas to Jordan thanks to my older brother who shared a room with me. I tried countering my brother’s yearning to be “Like Mike” with as many David Robinson posters as I could find in Northwest Iowa (as difficult as you would imagine).   I eventually held a dominate Admiral grasp on the room once my brother and his Jordan posters went off to college.

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Honky-Tonk Angel

Every 4th of July that I’m back in Iowa, my mom and I take a trip over to Okoboji to peruse the flea markets.  This year was no different with my mom and I making the annual trip over to the lakes to walk past table after table of rusted signs, antique china, and baseball cards (a Texas flea market is much different in content, usually featuring used clothing, black market DVDs, and economy-sized boxes of Chiclets).

As a toddler I went with because I had to, as did my brothers, but as we got older, my siblings quit going while I continued tagging along with my mom.  While my mom has always gone in search of what ever rusty gold she can find, I’ve went over the years for different reasons. In middle school I searched for David Robinson cards to add to my collection (today, my 150 Robinson card collection is probably worth a buck fifty).  After college I still willingly went along, now searching for old pint glasses (Schlitz, PBR, Hamm’s, etc), but this collection petered out when I realized that pint glasses aren’t much fun without beer inside them.  The past few years I’ve gone with my mom just for tradition’s sake, but this year I had a new collection in the works: vinyl.

Writing this blog made me curious and I was pleasantly surprised to see that a Robinson rookie card goes for around 20 dollars.

You would think being a music enthusiast I would have jumped on the vinyl train long ago, but I always found myself blindly satisfied with CDs.  This of course all changed with the dawning of the i-Pod.  I found myself buying CDs that I’d rip to my computer and never touch again.  As much as it pained me, I realized I needed to move to MP3s. They’re more eco-friendly and don’t fill up shelves at the house. Despite this realization, I couldn’t make the switch. The idea of paying money for something you can’t tangibly hold in your hands didn’t set well with me. Plus, I couldn’t part with the experience of reading the liner notes, analyzing the lyrics, and exploring the artwork.

When I discovered many labels now include download codes with their vinyl, I found a solution: not only was I still getting the MP3s, but I got the added bonus of having a bigger package to adore. Plus, when listening to the music at home, I always opt to hear it on the record player because it just sounds so much more better.

This shift to vinyl soon became an obsession, and now I’ve slipped into the role of record collector.  Despite the lack of free MP3 downloads with used LPs by Charlie Parker, Run DMC, and Willie Nelson, I couldn’t help myself but to hear the classics in the form that they were meant to be heard.  Being a new hobby, this was my first year searching out old records at the flea market, and I left with 20 albums including Black Sabbath’s “Sabotage,” Stevie Wonder’s “Songs in the Key of Life,” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Smash Hits,” the album that changed my life as a 14-year-old kid.

The album my mom found at the flea market

While scouring the tables of boxes, my mom looked around to pass the time. At one point she walked over to me with an album in hand.  “I remember this Kitty Wells album from when I was a kid. I used to love the song ‘Honky Tonk Angels.’ My brother used to play it all the time.”  The mention of her brother Gary caught me off guard. Gary drowned 13 days after his 21st birthday back in 1962.  My mom witnessed it. As you can imagine, this was pretty hard on her.  As always with music, that record brought memories back to the surface.

I encouraged my mom to buy the album, and she did.  As we walked on through the tables of antiques, mom continued discussing my uncle’s love of music. It seemed the sight of that old record had dusted off memories she’d not visited for a while. She talked about the huge collection of records he bought over the years with the money he earned as a barber. She remembered all the concerts he used to head into town to see: Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, Patsy Cline.

My mom still has some of the signed photos he bring home for her as a kid including this Patsy Cline. Unfortunately, they got water damaged in a basement.

Something about it all seemed eerily similar, and I knew why.  The pile of records, the concerts, the love of music – it all added up. Driving home, one question haunted me: how could my Uncle Gary, a man I never knew, be so much like me?  Yes, his love of music rubbed off on my mom who raised my brothers and I on a steady diet of Joni Mitchell and Buffalo Springfield, but to the level that Uncle Gary did? The level that I do?

I began to question my thoughts.  How could I possibly even get my uncle’s music-obsession gene? Where did he even get it? My grandpa, who took over the farm at age 14, never seemed to be a music fanatic, and my grandma listened exclusively to the Statler Brothers (“Mama Sang Bass” will forever bring me back to riding in my grandma’s car).  Maybe the music-obsession gene skips generations and somewhere 100 years back one of my ancestors was as obsessed with John Phillip Sousa as I am with Sonic Youth.

Sonic Youth with Sousa on the drums.

Back at home, I continued thinking about Gary with my questions moving away from “Why?” to “What if?”.  What would he be like today? How would my life be different if I had known him? Would he have regaled me with stories of meeting Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline?  What would he have thought of Bob Dylan? Neil Young? Iggy Pop? All unanswered questions.

A week later, these thoughts would still circle my brain like a needle on a record. It didn’t help that my mom left the Kitty Wells record sitting on the kitchen counter, and each time I saw Kitty’s face looking back at me, I couldn’t help but think of Gary.  I finally decided to listen to the album that had raised so many memories for my mom and so many questions for me.

I put the needle on the vinyl like I’ve done so many times before, and listened to the crackling of the record. I wonder if he enjoyed that sound as much as me – the anticipation that comes with it.  And then Kitty Wells appeared.  Her voice wasn’t beautiful by any means. Nasally, a tad flat, yet it didn’t bother me. In fact, I liked it; there was substance to it. It had soul. And soon, that emotive voice filled the rooms and halls of my parents’ house while filling the void of uncertainty in my mind.  No, I never knew Uncle Gary; but in that moment, I knew that he still somehow lived within that music and within me – my honky-tonk guardian angel.

Uncle Gary with my mom and Aunt Sally up above on the rocks.

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You say Arena; I say Urina.

A few weeks ago, due to a series of mistakes by both Delta Airlines and myself, I found myself sitting in first class, sipping on a complementary vodka Red Bull, listening to The Walkmen’s “Lisbon” and stretching my lanky legs to their limit without fear of kicking or bumping a nearby passenger.  For the first time ever, I was enjoying a cross-country flight.  As I motioned the waitress for my 4th complementary drink, I thought to myself, “I’ll never be able to sit in coach again.”

Of course, I will; for the rest of my life as a matter of fact due to my lack of funds. But just like other facets in my life, the finer things have tainted my opinion of the commonplace.  Why eat a Pink Lady when you can have a Honey Crisp? Why drink a Bud Light when you can have a Dale’s Pale Ale? Why feast on a corn-fed flank steak when you can have a grain-fed t-bone? I refuse to sit in the upper deck at Spurs games after my unforgettable experiences in the lower deck, including the time I sat behind the team’s bench and witnessed David Robinson’s final game (oh, and did I mention they won their second championship that night?).  Not only do I prefer the up close and personal experience over viewing the game from 100 feet away, but the people down below seem more passionate, and dare I say, more knowledgeable of the game.

I’m the same way when it comes to live musical performances, although it’s actually much cheaper to see a band up close in an intimate venue rather than the sterile arena setting.  On average, people pay much more to sit in uncomfortable plastic seats located far, far away from performers  than they’d ever have to dish out at a local venue.

I hold this same sentiment toward outdoor music festivals. Last weekend the annual Austin City Limits Music Festival took place, and like every other year, people who know me as a lover of live music always ask me if I’m going. Back in 2004 I attended the festival, and I haven’t been back since. The experience wasn’t all bad; I did get so see artists like Cat Power, Broken Social Scene, and The Pixies, but I just can’t find enjoyment in the disconnect felt between the artist and the audience.  The bands perform miles away on a double barricaded, bouncer infested monstrosity of a stage.  Frank Black and the rest of The Pixies actually resembled pixies from my vantage point.

I'm pretty sure Kim Deal sat out and let Tinkerbell play the set.

The mixture of people milling around ACL didn’t make the experience much better – a mish-mash of hippies, yuppies, and families with babies in tow (it’s never too early to introduce your child to pot smoke and loud music!).  I have friends who find ACL to be a yearly highlight, but it’s just not my thing.  I’d rather see bands up close in venues with character, surrounded by like-minded patrons who are there for the music and not just an excuse to break out their tie-dye shirt.  If a Sam’s Club style bulk performance weekend is the reason you enjoy festivals like ACL, the South By Southwest Music Festival offers more bands (over 2000 in fact) and the majority of the performances take place in the cozy bars that line 6th Street.

You can go to this:

Or go to this:

In the smaller venue, the “arena detachment syndrome” disappears, and memories are made: Man Man giving the audiences instruments during the set, Les Savy Fav’s Tim Harrington nuzzling both me and my friend’s beards mid-set,  The Very Best inviting the entire crowd onto the stage, Death From Above 1979’s Sebastian Grainger jumping off his drum set and bull rushing the crowd with microphone in hand. This is what live performance is all about. While arena shows have their pre-planned skits, laser lights, movie screens, and choreography, the primal unpredictability of rock and roll still breathes in the smoky bars across this country.

If Lady GaGa really wants to be unpredictable she can take a cue from Tim Harrington and accost her "lil monsters" on stage.

The last real “arena” show I attended was Pearl Jam way back in 2003 at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater (just a hint: if you are seeing a show at a venue that is named after a corporate entity, the show will invariably stink).  Sleater Kinney opened for Pearl Jam, and they sounded great from row 83.  And that’s about all I can say: they sounded good. I wasn’t overtaken by the music, nor did I feel a connection with the ladies giving it their all on the enormous, barren stage.  There was such a wide fissure between the band and I that mid-way through the set I got up to grab some nachos and take a pee.  It’s not like I was missing much – I could always listen to their CD when I got home.

Fast forward two years: my friend PtheStudP and I were standing five feet away from the ladies of Sleater Kinney, doused in sweat and battling with the sea of lesbians that pogo-ed around us.  Sleater Kinney were tearing it up, sending the audience into a frenzy, all yearning in unison for more and more of Carrie Brownstein’s devisive guitar angst and Corin Tucker’s haunting howl that reverberated throughout the legendary SoKol Underground in Omaha, Nebraska.

After six songs, my friend informed me that he had to go to the restroom, an issue I had been dealing with myself.  Unlike my easy submission to nachos at the Pearl Jam show, I wouldn’t give in this time. We would tough it out. Two songs later, on the verge of peeing my pants, a decision had to be made. And here in lies the difference between an arena show and a small venue: at the Pearl Jam show I urinated in a urinal as the show went on; at the SoKol Underground my friend and I both pissed into beer bottles that soon after found themselves on the cement floor.  I can guarantee you’ll never see that level of commitment at an arena show.

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Best/Worst Rap Moments in NBA History

I love this time of year. Not because of the blossoming blue bonnets or the serene South Texas weather. No, I love it because it’s playoff time, more specifically – NBA playoffs.  I know the majority of America despises the NBA and its gangsta, free-styling flare, but I dare anyone to find as much passion, teamwork, and pride in any other professional sport.

In any honor of this momentous time of year, I decided to scour YouTube in search of the NBA’s musical talent.  I quickly discovered that beyond David Robinson’s robotic saxophone/piano playing, Vin Baker’s semi-soulful voice, and Wayman Tisdale’s smooth bass lines, most of the NBA’s stars explore their musical interests in the world of hip-hop.

Despite his Weather Channel stylings, Wayman was the shit.  Mad respect (1964 – 2009):

I decided to re-focus my blog, looking only at the rappers who have graced the professional basketball courts over the years. As I searched, listening to horrid rap after horrid rap about cross-over dribbles and jump shots, I realized rapping and basketball mix like oil and water (although some believe Rashad McCants is a true talent; I just don’t see it).  Despite this lack of real MC skills in the NBA, I did find that some of the lyrics had me laughing and decided all was not lost.  As a result, I give you, the top ten worst/best rap moments in NBA history.

10. Allen Iverson “A6” commercial

10. A.I. is single-handedly responsible for the downfall of the NBA. Before The Answer (ironic), the NBA was filled with family friendly All-Stars who presented themselves as athletes first (although Karl Malone had some strange truck-driving fetish).  Look at the roster of the 1991 Dream Team and try finding an unlikeable guy (Christian Laettner doesn’t count).  I know A.I. wasn’t the first tattooed bad-boy of the league, but it was his thug life mentality that changed the public’s perception of the Association.  Before Iverson, athletes were able to hide their past behind a glossy, publicist-made image. But A.I. flaunted his jail time and troubled past unapologetically.  With Allen’s perpetual chip on the shoulder, other incoming players clinged to the gangsta persona and soon the league was riddled with a sea of corn-rows and blood-shot eyes.

This commercial for shoes perfectly reflects the mind-set of the NBA during this tumultuous time.  My favorite moment in the song is when Allen begins to rap, starting off with the line, “Trying to build a team, I’m the player you need.”  Really?! The guy who is notorious for missing practice? The guy who, at various points in his career, has refused to play in games? The guy who demanded to be traded from every team he ever played for? The guy who said he’d rather retire than come off the bench?  (You get my point…)

9. Rasheed Wallace “Untitled”

I love Rasheed Wallace, and I’m not sure why. Most of the players that I enjoy in the NBA are the straight and narrow guys who respect the game (Tim Duncan, Chauncey Billups, David Lee), but there is just something about Rasheed.  I guess it comes down to his passion. With all his attitude and anger, he holds nothing back – verbally or physically.  Even in this rap song, you can tell there is passion within his words. Sure, they aren’t the most poetic verses, but Rasheed is fully committed. The song may even be passable if it weren’t for the shoddy production value. The bass line sounds like the music from the Atari game “Pitfall”, and the vocals are muffled.  This is the case with much of the NBA hip-hop I found.  With all the money these dudes make, they can’t splurge on a producer?  With some handy work in Pro-Tools, Rasheed could have a hit on his hands in the form of a song called “Both Teams Played Hard”.

8. Brian Shaw “Anything Can Happen”

This track put me in awe. Brian Shaw was never seen as a thug. In fact, if you were to choose a player off of the 1990s Lakers that would be most likely to become a rapper, the straight-laced Brian Shaw would come in last (yes, even behind Vlade). Instead of ruling the streets as he claims in the song, Shaw is now an assistant coach for the Lakers, always sporting a suit on the side-lines. A rapping coach? Yes, Brian, anything can happen. While most rappers talk of their mom being addicted to crack or their dad dying in a gun fight, Shaw opts to describe how his family died in a car crash. Now that’s gangsta.

7. Shaquille O’Neal “Tell Me How My Ass Tastes”

Shaq is the most successful recording artist in NBA history (notice I didn’t say “most successful rapper”).  While most of his songs are harmless fun, I find the most joy in this clip that gained popularity a few summers ago. In it, Shaq disses Kobe a week after the Lakers got embarrassed by the Celtics in the finals.  The famous line of the song is “Kobe, tell me how my ass tastes”.  On face value, this sounds like a twist on “kiss my ass”, but there is so much more going on here. This is The Big Aristotle afterall.  Let me break it down for you: Shaq either hooked up with Kobe’s wife or one of his mistresses (rape victims not included).  This female, whoever she was, tossed Shaq’s salad at some point. As a result, when Kobe kissed her at a later date, he was in a sense, tasting Shaq’s ass…I didn’t say the outcome was pretty.

6. Tony Parker “Freestylin”

There are tons of videos online of Tony Parker’s rap offerings, but I had to choose this freestyle session during the 2005 Championship celebration due simply to nostalgia for happier times as a Spurs fan (I take joy in the fact that Steve Nash left the series this year looking like the Toxic Avenger).  I was actually in attendance to see this performance live, but all my friend John and I could hear in the upper deck was “voo le voo le voo le voo le voo!”  Watching the video now, I realize we heard his rhymes correctly. Rapping in french must be pretty easy considering every word seems to end in an “ooo” sound (I’m offending french-men everywhere).  In this case, Tony Parker’s embarrassing performance is saved by Brent Barry’s dance moves…

5. Jason Kidd “What the Kidd Did”

“What the Kidd Did” starts with whispering vocals pleading, “They wanna know!” and I agree – we do want to know. To be more specific, we want to know what the hell Jason Kidd is. With skin the tone of silly putty and his hairless features (I swear he has alopecia) it is hard to decipher what J Kidd is.  Black? White? Sea Monkey? If he does have some black in him, there must not be much of it in him due to his complete lack of rhythm and soul for that matter.  It’s almost like he’s trying to prove he’s a homeboy, but with lines like “I’m like a high school tutor”, it’s hard to give Kidd the street cred he’s begging for.

4. Kobe Bryant and Tyra Banks “K.O.B.E.”

Who is more arrogant, self-serving, and unlikable than Kobe Bryant? You guessed it: Tyra Banks. This song is the ultimate match of egos, combining their overbearing, haughty grandeur to form the ultimate alliance of arrogance. I’m not sure who’s worse on this track. Kobe sounds like he has marbles in his mouth (or the taste of Shaq’s ass), yet Tyra’s sing/talk approach resembles a possum being eaten alive by maggots.  The downfall of both these shit-bags is the fact that they will always be striving to be America’s sweethearts, but they will invariably be despised by the majority due to their pompous, presumptive, pretension (alliteration is in full effect).

3. Chris Mills “Sumptin’ to Groove To”

Never heard of Chris Mills? Well, based off his lyrics you should have. He boasts “I’m a big ball player, a nice rhyme sayer”, but in actuality he’s neither. He never  had “a nice jay” and rarely did he “dismiss opponents”.  He was a bench player, plain and simple.  The fact that he wrote an entire song boasting his greatness is straight up laughable.

2. Ron Artest “I Cry For Mike”

Ron Artest rapping about Michael Jackson’s death? Wow. It doesn’t get much better than this. In this tribute, Artest connects with Michael on the fact that they’ve both dealt with controversy. Punching fans during a game seems a bit different from sexually assaulting kids, but then again, maybe I’m being picky. The fact that he refers to MJ as “my nigga” throughout the song is also questionable, considering the fact that the King of Pop was actually white when he died. Maybe “Michael your my whigga” would have been more fitting.

1. 1987 Lakers “Just Say No!”

When the Lakers were presented with the idea to perform “Just Say No!”, they should have done exactly that. There is not a moment of dignity in this classic that makes “The Super Bowl Shuffle” look respectable. The song gets better and better as it goes, even pulling in a choir of children near the end. When Magic jumps into the mix, I can’t help but think of all the unprotected sex he must have had the night before.  This clip gained the number one spot due simply to one moment. Near the end of the song, as the record scratching goes wild,  Kurt Rambis tosses a baby in the air.  Now that is having something in common with Michael Jackson.

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