Thursday, March 22, 2007

An Open Letter to Sacramento Kings Management

Dear Joe, Gavin and family:

Watching a Kings game at Arco Arena has become an assault on the senses, and I'm not referring to the play on the floor. Specifically, I'm talking about an assault on one particular sense - hearing.

And lest you think that I'm some Johnny-come-lately fan who likes to whine as soon as the wins become scarce, I've been a part of a season-ticket group since the inaugural season of 1985-86, and have probably seen close to 200 games during that time. My dad and I, who usually attend the games together, have been through thick, thin, thinner, and thinnest. And we'll be coming back next year.

But you need to know that the noise level at Arco Arena has gone beyond ridiculous, to somewhere between absurd and criminal. Last night, in the bar before the game, the band was so loud that you literally couldn't hold a conversation, even if you yelled at each other from two feet away. The bands that play in the bar are generally good, but come on - is anyone there to listen to the band? I'm not kidding, I've been at concerts where the music hasn't been that loud.

So we wander down to our seats, expecting a nice respite...but no, the "pre-game show" is showing on the big screen TV, and that's right, you guessed it...ear splitting loud. So loud it HURTS. And at this point, there can be no more than 2,000 people in their seats. We can hear it, OK? Why does it have to be so loud?

The decibel level during the introductions probably rivals that of a 747, but it seems that there is an NBA rule now that requires such nonsense. So I won't hold that one against you.

Thank God, the game begins. And we get treated, every time the Kings have the ball, guessed it...ear splitting music. WHY, WHY, WHY, has it become necessary to play music DURING the damn game? When I went to the Bob Dylan concert at Arco last October, I didn't expect to see a pick-up basketball game being played on the stage. And when I'm at a basketball game, I DON'T WANT TO HEAR MUSIC WHILE THE GAME IS GOING ON! And I can assure you that no one I've ever talked to likes to hear music while the game is in play.

You guys are cool, I get that...but believe me - this whole "noise thing" is dumb. It is idiotic. It is well beyond stupid. It's insulting to your customers, and frankly disrespectful to your players.

So please, dear God, turn it down.

Your loyal Kings fan,


Monday, March 12, 2007

The 50th Anniversary Music Project

In August, my parents will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. As part of their present, I'm going to make them a collection of music tentatively titled "Fifty Years of Popular (and Semi-Popular) Music," including an annotated discography. So far it's been a lot of fun mapping out what this monster is going to look like (and I say "monster" because right now it figures to be at least 12 CDs worth of material), and friends and colleagues have been generous in loaning me CDs of the songs that are only part of my vinyl collection.

The planning is about to turn into the writing, and as I get further along, the annotation will be posted on the blog. But for now, here is a nearly final artist list:

The Allman Brothers Band
The Association
Average White Band
The Band
The Bangles
The Beatles
The Bee Gees
Chuck Berry
The B-52s
The Blasters
David Bowie
James Brown
Jackson Browne
Glen Campbell
The Cars
Johnny Cash
Rosanne Cash
Ray Charles
The Clash
Sam Cooke
Elvis Costello
Counting Crows
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Sheryl Crow
Jim Croce
Dire Straits
Dixie Chicks
The Doors
Nick Drake
Bob Dylan
The Eagles
The English Beat
Fleetwood Mac
Aretha Franklin
Peter Gabriel
J. Geils Band
Gnarls Barkley
The Go-Gos
Bobby Goldsboro
The Grateful Dead
Macy Gray
Al Green
Patty Griffin
Cast of "Hair"
Daryl Hall and John Oates
Isaac Hayes
Don Henley
Hues Corporation
Buddy Holly
Chris Isaak
The Jackson Five
Michael Jackson
Elton John
K.C. and the Sunshine Band
Gladys Knight & the Pips
Kool and the Gang
Alison Krauss
Cyndi Lauper
Little Richard
Los Lobos
Lynyrd Skynyrd
Bob Marley and the Wailers
George McCrae
John Mellencamp
Van Morrison
Harry Nilsson
The O'Jays
Roy Orbison
Pet Shop Boys
Tom Petty
Liz Phair
Wilson Pickett
Elvis Presley
The Pretenders
Otis Redding
Cast of "Rent"
The Rolling Stones
Sam & Dave
Bob Seger
Carly Simon
Simon and Garfunkel
Paul Simon
Frank Sinatra
Sister Sledge
Sly and the Family Stone
Soggy Bottom Boys
The Spinners
Dusty Springfield
Bruce Springsteen
Steely Dan
Rod Stewart
Talking Heads
James Taylor
Three Dog Night
Tower of Power
Wall of Voodoo
Dionne Warwick
The Who
Lucinda Williams
Al Wilson
Jackie Wilson
Bill Withers
Stevie Wonder
Neil Young
Warren Zevon
ZZ Top

There's more to come, and I'm sure someone is being left off the list, but you get the idea...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Childhood "Books"

The inspiration for this came from Sheila. Whoever reads this is going to think that I was a weird kid. And I probably was.

The task - list 5 books that played an important role in your childhood and explain why - is simple enough. The thing is, I didn't read a lot of books when I was a child. At least not a lot of books that I can point to as having played an important enough role to make note of. But I did read a lot, so I'm altering the rules just a bit. (Conjure up your best Darth Vader voice in your imagination - "I'm altering the deal...pray I don't alter it any further...").

The Baseball Encyclopedia. I've written about this before, but I got this book for Christmas when I was 8 years old, and it has been a constant companion since. It sits on the bookshelf in my office at work, where I regularly scare people with my ability to recall World Series results going back to the 1950s. My favorite part of the book when I was a kid was the World Series section, and I would read through the brief descriptions of each game and create the game in my head, imagining what the crowd was like, the field, the shadows, the players.

Time Magazine. On Wednesday afternoons, the first thing I would do after getting home from school was look for that week's issue of Time Magazine, and then sit down and read it cover to cover. I may not have been familiar with a lot of literary characters at the time, but I sure knew who Hugh Sidey and Jay Cocks were. I still have all of the issues from the Watergate era moldering in a box, somewhere out in the garage. Every now and then I pull one out and read it.

Sports Illustrated Magazine. This was the Friday afternoon obsession. I still remember a classmate named Mark, and how we would spend most of our day on Fridays trying to predict who would be on the cover that week. I think we even kept score for a while. I even got a letter printed in 1974; ironically, it was in the swimsuit issue, so I couldn't even take it to school.

The 18 Greatest Golf Holes in America, by Dan Jenkins. I've always enjoyed golf, even though I'm lucky to break 100, but became obsessed with this book after a neighbor (who happened to be the Titleist golf representative for Northern California) loaned it to me, also in 1974. Dan Jenkins, the longtime SI writer on golf and college football, had traveled the country, and identified what he felt were the best 18 holes of golf in America. And he had done it the hard way - not choosing a bunch of great 18th holes, but rather the best 1st hole, the best 2nd hole, and so started a life-long interest in golf architecture, to the point where one shelf in our library is almost solely dedicated to books on the subject.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas. This was the first book I ever memorized, and I remember reading it to my cousins when I was 7 or 8 years old. I don't think I could recite it from memory today, but I still make a point to read it several times during the holiday season.

So there you have it - a strange and perhaps motley collection, but one that served me reasonably well in the formative years (or so I'd like to think).

Score One For Bloggers

Further evidence that the world is coming to grips with this new era, even if mainstream media is slow to catch up:
The Capitol Correspondents Assn. has voted to bring bloggers into the association, allowing them to become credentialed members of the Capitol press corps with access to the legislative floors and most news conferences. Pres. Steve Geissinger with MediaNews reports the vote concluded last night with 34 in favor of credentialing bloggers and 3 against it.

Geissinger says about half the membership voted. A pretty good turn out in his estimation since a third of the members are TV cameramen and still photographers, none of whom voted. At issue were amendments to the association bylaws that opened membership to others than full time reporters working for major media outlets. Under the new rules, members must still cover state government and politics but need only derive 50% of their income from media jobs, which opens the door to part-timers and the self employed.

Geissinger says there's no immediate danger of news conferences becoming "zoos"because only a handful of Capitol bloggers meet the criteria at this time. There's also no reason to believe that the new rules will permit the credentialing of a blogger paid by a political party, trade association or some other special interest group. Geissinger says the bylaws already contain a conflict of interest clause, so that's a non issue. The issue of blogger credentialing arose a while back when a blogger applied for CCA membership, triggering a discussion of blogging as a legitimate journalistic activity. By approving the new rules, which were drafted CCA's board of directors, the CCA membership has recognized that, as Geissinger says, "We're in the Internet age."

The Capitol Morning Report
Sacramento, CA