If you need a healthy dose of perspective on March Madness, I suggest you come over to my house to watch the games.
I’m a Xavier University alum, and have been a season ticket holder for decades. But in the midst of their furious comeback on Friday, I had to turn the TV off. Because the parish priest came over to administer anointing of the sick to my mother-in-law, who is battling terminal cancer. She’s been in a hospital bed in our living room for the past month. Forget “March Madness” – this is March Sadness.
I grew up in Arkansas and love the Razorbacks. Yesterday they too rallied in their tourney game, and managed to knock off #1 seeded Kansas.
But there’s nothing quite like administering liquid morphine during a commercial break to give you a better understanding of what really matters. “Survive and advance…”
Nothing I’ve seen on the TV screen can match the courage, the bravery, the tenacity, the heart, the strength that I’ve seen from my mother-in-law. Her outcome is no longer in doubt, but she’s already won.
Sports may be life, but it’s not life and death. The pain of losing pales in comparison to the pain of loss.
The Alabama Crimson Tide is the #1 overall seed in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. (I can’t call it March Madn3ss or I’d owe someone money.)
Alabama is led by their freshman phenom Brandon Miller. The same Brandon Miller who, on January 15th, delivered a gun to his then-teammate Darius Miles. Miles then gave the weapon to his friend Michael Lynn Davis, who then proceeded to get into a gun battle over a petty argument… and 23-year-old Jamea Jonae Harris, the mother of a 5-year-old son named Kaine, was shot and killed.
Actually Brandon Miller’s car was used to deliver the murder weapon. Allegedly, Brandon didn’t know the gun was in his car. Allegedly it was hidden in the back seat under some clothing. But his (now former) teammate texted him and said “I need my joint.” (For those who aren’t up to date on the latest slanguage, “joint” = “gun.”) And Brandon returned to where he had dropped off his teammate hours earlier.
Yes it’s completely possible that Brandon Miller didn’t know there was a gun in his vehicle — seems unlikely but sure let’s go with that– and yes it’s completely possible that Brandon Miller was already on his way to pick up his teammate when the text came through. That’s what his attorneys claim.
But the text said “I need my joint” not “Please swing by, I need the clothes that are in your back seat.” I’m no Perry Mason, but to me, the fact that Brandon’s teammate texted him that he needed his gun implies that Brandon knew the gun was in the vehicle.
Sidebar: where are we as a society today when young men who are going out for a night on the town:
actually own a gun and
decide that they need to bring it along when they’re going to a bar?
What we do know is that the University of Alabama administration knew of Brandon Miller’s involvement right from the get-go. It’s pretty hard to NOT know when Miller’s vehicle windshield had a couple bullet holes in it. Oh and there was another player from the team who was there as well… all this info didn’t come out until a February 21st hearing.
According to authorities, Brandon Miller is not a suspect… because if he didn’t know that he was supplying a gun … or even if he did know but he didn’t know that it would be used for something illegal (note: murder is illegal)… he’s off the hook.
Oh and by the way, did we mention that at Alabama’s next home game after Miller’s involvement was made public, one of his teammates gave him a mock “weapons pat down” during pregame introductions. Stay classy, ‘Bama!
Nate Oats is the Alabama head coach. His response has been tone deaf. At a press conference, he said Brandon was in the “wrong spot at the wrong time.” As many scribes have pointed out, actually, Jamea Harris was the one who was in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Oats also claimed that he was unaware of the pregame pat-down ritual… and that coaches can’t keep track of their players 24/7. Technically true, but I guarantee you most coaches know if a player misses a single mandatory study hall, and that players have been suspended for such minor infractions.
The University of Alabama administration’s response has been deafening silence. Yes, they kicked Darius Miles off the team. But Brandon Miller hasn’t missed a single practice or a single game. After all, he’s the star player on the #1 team in America — the team favored to win the NCAA tournament. When “win at all costs” meets “players’ actions cost a young woman her life” the entire administration has cast their vote for the former.
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide… and the Crimson Tide has blood on their hands.
Note: I drafted this post yesterday (I have the legal pad scribbles to prove it), and today when I went looking for facts to include in it, I found a Will Leitch column on New York magazine’s Intelligencer site that sums up my feelings much more eloquently and intelligently. The full column is here, and some choice excerpts are below.
On this blog, I don’t normally post my music-centric stuff (I have a separate blog for that). But I’m making an exception because I’m pretty darn proud of the fact that my old radio pal Dave and I have done 90+ episodes of a podcast, and that podcast has been the impetus for a full-fledged radio station revival (albeit for a limited, one-week-only engagement). Full press release is at the bottom of this post.
The podcast has been a labor of love. We’ve never sold a nickel’s worth of ads. We’ve never reached an audience beyond a hundred or so loyal listeners. But we’ve brought a lot of joy to those listeners, and that’s worth more than gold.
The fact that a niche format station based in the tiny town of Oxford, Ohio, with a crappy signal, could reach so many, and still be fondly remembered nearly half a century after it started, and more than a decade after it ceased to exist… it’s nothing short of magic.
To be able to pay tribute to the under-the-radar bands and their music, and showcase the DJs from every era of the station’s existence, is truly special.
And here’s the official press release that generated the reactions above:
97X, BAM, THE FUTURE OF ROCK AND ROLL RETURNS WITH THE 2023 97X MODERN ROCK 500
(Oxford/Cincinnati, OH) – March 9, 2023 – It’s been 20 years since the legendary Oxford, OH-based alternative radio station WOXY FM, aka “97X, BAM! The Future of Rock and Roll” first left the airwaves. Celebrating what would have been its 40th anniversary, 97X makes its triumphant online return in May 2023 with the 2023 97X Modern Rock 500 countdown.
In partnership with Cincinnati-based streaming station Inhailer Radio, 97X and WOXY.com present the 2023 97X Modern Rock 500, airing May 22 – 29, 2023 on Inhailer Radio, also available on the Inhailer Radio app and WGUC 90.9- HD3 in Cincinnati.
The 2023 Modern Rock 500 will air on Inhailer Radio in five 100-lap segments from May 22-26, 2023, and repeat in the 500’s traditional Memorial Day weekend timeslot from May 27-29, 2023. Plans are in the works for an on-demand archive of the broadcast.
As a special treat, the broadcast is hosted by over 30 station DJs sharing memories from WOXY’s 40-year run. From its fledgling 80s days to the explosion of the format in the 90s and its time as an online entity in the early 2000s, the 2023 Modern Rock 500 is represented by the people who were there making it happen.
If there was one signature program that became synonymous with 97X, it was the annual Modern Rock 500. Borrowing thematically from the nearby Indianapolis 500 and broadcast over Memorial Day Weekend, the 97X Modern Rock 500 counted down the best alternative songs as “laps”. The Modern Rock 500 aired on 97X from 1988-2003 and continued on WOXY.COM from 2005-2009.
Now it returns for one final countdown.
The broadcast also serves as a wrap-up of the 97X-focused podcast Rumblings from the Big Bush (a reference to a distinctly large shrubbery located on the station’s Oxford, Ohio property), hosted by former DJs Dave Tellmann and Damian Dotterweich.
“Rumblings over the last few years has caught up with former air talent, station employees, fans of the station, and some of the artists that we played at 97X. It’s been a blast! The podcast has about run its course; but the idea of capping it with the Modern Rock 500 couldn’t be a better way to sign off,” said co-host Dave Tellmann. Rumblings… episodes can be found on all major podcast player sites and on 97Xbam.
“We here at Inhailer are honored to hand over the airwaves to the people of 97X who influenced our own musical journeys and the music we play here”, adds Taylor Fox, Founder and Program Director at Inhailer. “We’re downright giddy with excitement!”
“This new Modern Rock 500 will be limited to those songs that landed on the countdown in the past. It’s taking a look back from a present-day point of view”, states Mike Taylor, 97X Program Director from 2001 to 2010. “Any way you slice it, it’s gonna be 500 great tunes.”
The 2023 97X Modern Rock 500 is a love letter to its loyal legion of listeners and to station owners Doug and Linda Balogh, for giving the world something super special. We’ll see you at the starting line…
Full list of featured talent:
Bryan Jay Miller
Dan “Danny Crash” Reed
Julie “Jae Forman” Clay
Julie “Maxwell” Argonis
Matt “Sledge” Waller
Ric “Tile” Cengeri
Tina Kristina Mueller
If all the old bands can reunite, so can we. Long Live 97X – The Future of Rock and Roll!
My friends and I aren’t spring chickens anymore. And we’re at the age where our parents are at that age… the age of getting their “celestial discharge” as my wife called it when she worked at hospice. Their earthly journey is coming to an end. As a child, it’s never easy. And unfortunately, the final chapter is often quite sad, as we watch the people who raised us diminish in body and/or mind. But never in spirit… that lives on in each of us.
My buddy Tom Kuhl (a.k.a. The Kuhler, a.k.a. Freaky Tiki) recently lost his beloved mom. His Facebook post about her really captures the conflicting emotions many of us have as our parents approach their earthly finish line.
Well said, my brother from another mother! Love you!
When my friends lose a parent, I usually pass along a copy of one of my favorite short stories by my absolute favorite author, Ray Bradbury. The story is called “The Leave-Taking” and it’s about an elderly woman who is dying. And Ray — master writer that he is — managed to weave the sadness of death and the true joy of living and the blessings of family into a mere three-and-a-half pages. The full story is here, but this is the money quote:
Important thing is not the me that’s lying here, but the me that’s sitting on the edge of the bed looking back at me, and the me that’s downstairs cooking supper, or out in the garage under the car, or in the library reading. All the new parts, they count. I’m not really dying today. No person ever died that had a family. I’ll be around a long time.
It’s raining in Cincinnati today… our house must have a leak because I’m down in our basement and my eyes are all misty.
It’s funny ‘cuz it’s true. Nobody uses the “phone” part of “mobile phone” anymore. It’s really more of a mobile typewriter + mobile camera + mobile laptop + mobile video arcade + mobile television. And that’s fine, I suppose. I’m trying to avoid getting into Abe Simpson territory.
No one sends telegrams anymore either… time marches on, things change.
But after 3 years of a relatively sheltered existence, it’s OK to “reach out and touch someone” via phone.
The human voice is an amazing instrument – it can reach all the way to your soul, in a way that a text simply can’t.
P.S. The entire week of Bizarro comics is available via a weekly blog post – well worth subscribing to get the email.
There are many reasons why I’m dumping satellite radio:
I’m a cheapskate. We have Sirius XM in two cars. Total was about $15 a month. (I’d call each year before my latest “promotional” price would expire to renegotiate the rate.)
I don’t drive as much. Now that I can work from home most days of the week, we’re putting a lot fewer miles on our cars. Less “time spent listening” as the salespeople used to say in my radio days.
I’ve switched from music to podcasts. Nowadays, when I do get in the car, chances are pretty good that I’ll listen to a podcast instead of the radio – satellite or otherwise. Why pay for something you don’t use?
We’re already paying for Spotify. We have the family plan… if I want to listen in the car, I can just stream Spotify or play a downloaded playlist or album.
But those are just the minor reasons. The main reason is their woeful lack of variety on SiriusXMU, the station that likes to call itself the place for “groundbreaking music and emerging artists.” In theory, it should be similar to 97X, the “college rock” station where I worked in the early 90s. But in reality, their playlist is waaaay too narrow.
I was driving my son Peter back to campus at Ohio University (“Harvard on the Hocking”) a few weeks ago, and just for fun, I told him that I’d pick five bands, and we’d see how long we could listen to SiriusXMU before one of them was played. The five bands were:
Peter and I wound up listening to other stations for most of the drive to his apartment. On my way home, I listened to podcasts most of the way, but after I stopped to get gas, I turned on SiriusXMU… and they were playing a Tame Impala song.
The following evening when I was running some errands, the 2nd song that came on was from Vampire Weekend.
Two days later, a Grizzly Bear song was playing when I started the (other) car.
4 days later, it was LCD Soundsystem that was on when I got in the car in the mid-morning.
That same afternoon, I went to visit my mother-in-law in the hospital. Vampire Weekend was the second song that came on during my drive over.
Aaaand later that evening, when I left the hospital, here’s the song that was playing when I started the car:
I stopped at a store on the way home. When I got back into the car, here’s what was on:
It’d be laughable if it weren’t so sad. I mean, why would someone pay for “groundbreaking music” only to get a station with a playlist that’s tighter than a terrestrial Top 40 station?
Each week, I check the list of new album releases (on Allmusic and Metacritic) and create a Spotify playlist of the ones I think will appeal to me. I’ve discovered tons of new music that way. It’s a hobby of mine. But for SiriusXMU, it’s their job… and they’re failing miserably.
Granted there are plenty more channels on SiriusXM (my wife likes the Grateful Dead channel… but now she listens to books on tape in the car), but indie rock is my go-to… and I just can’t go to SiriusXMU any more. It’s too frustrating.
So I’ve dumped them… and if I miss it, I can just create a Spotify playlist of four or five bands and run it on repeat. Same difference.
My friend and co-worker Brian has an interesting side hustle. He prowls the sidelines of NFL games as “Who Dey” – the mascot for the Cincinnati Bengals.
He’s been “dressing up as a fake tiger” (his words, not mine) for more than 20 years — he’s getting a bit long in the fang for the mascot game. This feat is quite impressive when you consider how much of a physical workout it is. (Brian said on warmer game days, he’ll sweat off 10 pounds or more.)
And it’s even more impressive when you consider the fact that the Bengals were… let me put this politely… not good for much of his tenure. It can’t be much fun trying to fire up a sparse crowd — many of whom were probably rooting for the opposing team — during a 2-14 season.
I’m glad the Tiger tables have turned. If things go the Bengals way this Sunday, Brian will be going to the Super Bowl for the 2nd year in a row. Not bad for a side hustle. Or should I say “fur” a side hustle?
Xavier University’s website has a great profile of Brian here.
While he was in college, he was leading a mascot double life, as the “Blue Blob” mascot at Xavier sporting events, as well as doing his Who Dey thing.
And because Brian’s a natural ham, I cast him in a bunch of fun videos that I’ve scripted for our company over the years. One of my favorites was a buddy cop spoof — Brian and I were “Ham” and “Cheese” respectively, for obvious reasons.
In that video, we poked fun at some of the more arcane rules in the employee handbook, like “no t-shirts with inappropriate slogans” for our in-house fitness center. Here’s a quick clip from that:
I’m glad Brian’s still having fun hamming it up as Who Dey. Here’s hoping we see him at Super Bowl LVII in a few weeks!
The Cincinnati Bengals beat the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the NFL playoffs on Sunday night. The winning touchdown was an amazing (and amazingly rare) play: a 98-yard fumble recovery by a defensive lineman. Local boy Sam Hubbard made the heads-up score:
Look at Sam when he starts his rumble: he’s got three teammates nearby, with two opponents trailing them.
The teammates just run alongside Sam Hubbard. As if they think the Bengals will get bonus points if four guys reach the end zone. (Spoiler: they won’t.) This happens all the time on turnovers… teammates run alongside the dude with the ball.
Instead of forming a convoy, they should turn around and block one of the pursuing opponents:
At midfield, one teammate is even clapping – I think he wants Sam to lateral the ball to him… Save your clapping, pal, and put your pads on a Raven.
Ravens tight end Mark Andrews busted his butt trying to catch up to Hubbard. Sam’s teammates finally try to block him, but they’re lucky they didn’t get called for a block in the back – which would’ve negated the score.
I see this all the time in games. And a lot of times, an opponent actually catches up to, and tackles, the runner, while the runner’s teammates do nothing to impede the tackler’s progress.
Running alongside the guy with the ball does no good…. you can celebrate with your teammate all you want AFTER you block the only guys with a chance of tackling him.
Thus sayeth Grandpa, the team player. Now get off my lawn!
School and work push us to avoid real dreams. Dreamers are dangerous, impatient and unwilling to tolerate the status quo. Existing systems would prefer we simply fit in.
The dreams we need to teach are the dreams of self-reliance and generosity. The only way for us to move forward is to encourage and amplify the work of people who are willing to learn, to see and to commit to making things better.
It turns out that reading and writing are the cornerstones of this practice, now more than ever. These are the two skills most likely to produce exponential results.
The effective writer can see their ideas spread to a hundred people overnight, or perhaps a million. Writing is still the bedrock tool we use to codify and share ideas, and it forces us to organize our thoughts.
But we can’t say it until we see it, which requires the commitment to reading and understanding, combined with the guts to dream and to lead.
Find the others, see the problem, and then decide to do something about it.
Great stuff, as always, from Seth. Reading expands your worldview. And the pen is mightier than the sword. It’s never been harder to carve out time for reading… but if you do, it’s never been easier to publish your thoughts.
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