Monday, October 19, 2009

The balloon boy hoax

We are all just a bunch of rat junkies endlessly searching for our next fix of manufactured conflict and emotion. Reality television, or what old timers call "news" is just a series of endlessly trumped up mixtures of false scares and bogus triumphs. I have long been obsessed with how real events reverberate in popular culture (such as O.J. and politics) and how the television audience forms its opinions. In the case of the balloon boy hoax there will be much hand-wringing after the fact, many people will be angry, Wolf Blitzer might be forced to shave his beard, and people will say to themselves how terrible this Richard Henee is and he will become Americas newest villain. But Richard Henee gave us exactly what we wanted and what we deserve. We are a nation of slack-jawed rubberneckers who love us some reality T.V. We all pretend we do not know about octo-mom, john and Kate plus eight, watch hoarders (Garrett excluded) the hills, the bachelor, the bachelorette, flavor of love, rock of love, the list goes on and on. The fastest growing market in America, besides elastic waist pants, is reality television. In the words of a great author we "are amusing ourselves to death" as we shovel food in our mouths as we watch the biggest loser or celebrity fit club.

Just think about what it took for Richard Henee to pull this stunt off. Here is a man who wanted fame so badly that he made us think his kid was floating away on a balloon! This is a moder day Rupert Pumkin who knew that he would not get away with this nonsense but he was determined to entertain us in the way that we best love. Just picture him getting into character as he calls 911 and fakes the tragic/crying voice. When did he first tell his wife about this scheme and how did she agree to go along with it? Just listen to her call the sheriff! Give her the academy award!
The fame that this couple so desperately sought was ultimately betrayed by the innocent little actor who turned to his father and said, "you said we did it for the show." You cannot teach a six year old to be deceptive and his truth telling might just put his father behind bars. (where no doubt he will write his memoir and hit-up the talk shows upon his release)

So, if we really are so "angry" and so "outraged" at this stunt, what should we do? We can actually turn off the television, drown out the fake outrage with silence, go outdoors and take a walk. We can listen to music, write a friend a letter, or learn to play the guitar. Tonight, when I get home I am going to write a letter to an old friend thanking him for.................wait, hold-on, there is a car chase on T.V. with a child in the backseat. Sweet Lord in heaven! I must turn on the T.V. and watch this right now! What? A shark scare? A mom murders her own kids? More death, more anger, more yelling and screaming! Yes, give it to me! I must watch! I love it! I must watch television! I guess that letter will have to wait........

Monday, October 12, 2009

Frank McCourt- The Dodgers misunderstood genius

A few weeks ago on a beautiful fall evening I watched as the Dodgers clinched the National League West for the second consecutive time. I turned to high-five Stilts (who was with me for the epic Steve Finely game in 2004) and watched as Frank McCourt walked on to the field to congratulate his players and hug Joe Torre. Here was a man who in just six years as a baseball owner has had unprecedented success and has put the Dodgers in the post-season four times in six years! Yet, strangely, he has not been embraced by the City of Angles. I have always liked McCourt and had a brief conversation with him in 2004. I told him to take care of Beltre (thank God we let him go) and to never change the name of Dodger stadium. It turns out he did the right thing on both accounts. So why do some people refuse to give McCourt the credit he deserves? Did he try to do too much to soon? Is his wife just too skinny to be likeable? Did he read moneyball and believe every word? I have a few theories about why McCourt is not yet celebrated as the business genius that he is but I would like to cut through the nostalgia of the O'Malley years and explain why Frank McCourt is a far superior owner than the O'Malley family. It goes without saying that I don't need to address the anemic years under Fox and the corporate bloodsuckers who saw the Dodgers as a way to get cable rights.

In the six years that Frank has owned the Dodgers he has:

*gone to the post-season 4 out 6 years
*Built Camelback Ranch, a state-of-the art facility in Arizona and set the spring training attendance record
*Hired Joe Torre to manage the Dodgers
*Played a 50th anniversary game at the Coliseum to over 110,000 fans
*The Dodgers won a playoff game for the first time since 1988 and won a playoff series
*Created "under the lights" and allowed fans to take bp at the stadium
* Upgraded Dodger stadium with 140 million in improvements and plans a massive renovation to keep the Dodgers in the ravine for 50 more years
*Hired Ned Colleti
*Gave Manny the money to bring back a real superstar to L.A.
*Showed Tommy Lasorda the respect he deserves by sitting next to him at every game and hiring him as a consultant
* Rename the press box the "Vin Scully press box"
*Brings Fernando back into the fold

So, why do you think that McCourt has not yet been embraced by Los Angeles?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Who's the boss?

The following is a true story:

Sometimes life takes on a crazy dimension where you feel that you are living in a dream. Your brain seems to explode into tiny bits but your mouth keeps on working. Life is just plain crazy sometimes. Yesterday I attended the Dodger game with my brother, watched an amazing Dodger win, and than out of the blue I get invited to watch game two at the ravine today. As most of you know, the Dodgers win in dramatic fashion with two outs in the ninth and Chavez ravine goes nuts: OK, this is where the story gets really bizarre. One of the guys (a friend of a friend) says that he knows someone who works in the dugout club and we can go party there after the game. I (naturally) said no, I demanded to go home and rest up for work, but I was forced to go downstairs to the dugout club and continue to party. So I go the bar, order a Dos Equis, and noticed a diminutive brunette slide in next to me. She looks sort of familiar and I am trying to play it cool and sip my beverage. I get the bartenders attention for this pretty young lass and she thanks me. I say nothing, my brain turns to ice and she turns to me and asks me what I thought about the game, I tell her that it was great etc (dodgers yak yak yak)... and the entire time I am thinking in my head (this is Allyssa Milano!) my brother would die to be in my spot! It was clear to me that Alyssa just wanted to join in the celebration and be a fan and blend in and talk about baseball. We hung out for a bit just talking about the Dodgers and people left her alone. She also ordered a Dos Equis and I tried to treat her like a normal person and just shoot the breeze with her. She finished up her beer and said "nice to meet you, I got to go" and I'm thinking that I have to do this for Goot: I always tell him that there are no coincidences! I decide I will blow my cool non-chalant factor for my brother so I say, "Alyssa, my name is Matt and today is my brothers birthday and he was at the game today. I am sure you hear this all the time but he has a huge crush on you, I never do this, but can I get a picture with you?" She said, "of course you can Matt!" I handed my cell phone to Mike and he took the blurry picture you see above. I gave Alyssa my card and told her if she ever wanted to invest in real-estate she should call me (it was all I could think of). So, she hugged me goodbye, asked me if I would be at game 5, and walked out of the dugout club. I tried to hide my smile as I walked back to my buddy's table and they could not believe I had just been chatting with Alyssa. I spent ten minutes with an angel........only in L.A.!

-Who's the boss now St. Louis?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Manhattan Beach 10k

So here you have it, the yin and the yang: the two forces that will be controlling my non-work hours for the next six months. One is a tool for riding liquid energy, the other can be warn by a tool to commemorate his glory days. One is incredibly hard to master, one of them is as simple as putting one foot in front of the other. So this was my weekend. On Friday I surfed (in my trunks) El Porto after work on my new 6.4. The water was 70 degrees, the surf babes were out and the waves were head high. I went to the Dodger game, saw them lose, than up early at 6 am to get ready for the 10K. It really is a beautiful run, with the last mile going along the strand and a nice finish at the Manhattan beach Pier. I was very proud of my time and felt good going up a few hills. I went home, took a nap, went surfing and than off to Dodger stadium with Stilts to watch them clinch the N.L. West! "Nice little Saturday"