I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and — for me at least — I can’t think of pop culture event in a very long time that has made me sadder than the sudden killing of Grantland.
Sure, some of my favorite TV shows have gone away. Goodbye Deadwood, so long Mad Men! Sure, bands break up and artists die. R.I.P. Lou Reed and R.E.M. And except for eight times in my entire life, my favorite teams aren’t going to be the World Champs.
But there are always other TV shows and other musicians and wait ’til next year!
But Grantland was unique. I realize that Bill Simmons is a polarizing figure, but his great insight — that there is an intersection between the pop culture nerd and the sports nerd — spoke directly to me.
Every single god damned day for the past few years, I could go to Grantland and never know what I was going to find: Andy Greenwald or Molly Lambert writing about a TV show I should be watching, Steven Hyden raving about the latest punk rock band or country artist he’d discovered, Wesley Morris with some insight films, Jonah Keri breaking down the best teams in the MLB.
Or all of the weird mash-ups and brackets and fake hot takes and deep insights. And the podcasts! At their height, I never missed an episode of The Hollywood Prospectus or Girls in Hoodies or Do You Like Prince Movies?
For me, this is like like the ends of Trouser Press and Creem. Or like the cancellations of Police Squad!, Twin Peaks and The Middleman! Or like the deaths of Kurt Cobain and Warren Zevon.
Like Grantland, all of these things were unique and unfinished. There was potential for so much more. And that’s what makes me sad.
The first thing you need to understand is I didn’t mean to get thrown out of The Late Show With David Letterman.
Why would I? For much of the 1980s, his NBC show was my absolute and utter favorite thing in all of the pop culture world. I loved that show more than R.E.M. or The Replacements or Bloom County or This is Spinal Tap. I loved Dave more than Raising Arizona or Lord of The Rings or Bob Dylan. (more…)
While over the years I’ve dipped my toes into the ever-raging waters of what is currently called EDM, I’ve only been baptized a couple of times. So therefore, like when I write about hip-hop and country and jazz, you probably should assume that in no way do I consider myself an expert in any of this: I’ve heard a tiny fraction and love an even tinier fraction.
The unexpected success of Cheap Trick Live at Budokan was an interesting phenomenon to watch, as it wasn’t even released here until after it sold 30,000 copies and was already getting significant radio airplay. But while it made sense to the general public as a great introduction to Cheap Trick, it has always left me cold, and I got incredibly sick of hearing Robin Zander intone “I want YOU … to want ME!” every five minutes on the radio.
One of the greatest songs about suicide ever written – along with The Replacements “The Ledge” and Big Fun’s “Teenage Suicide (Don’t Do It)” – “Auf Wiedersehen” gets across on sheer power and conviction. As big-sounding as Cheap Trick ever got, the verses are Robin Zander singing various phrases for “goodbye” and then describing the consequences of death. (more…)