Volume 1, Issue 3
Thursday February 2, 2012
In Today’s Issue
Click on each heading to view the article or view the entire issue below
- Main Ramble Get Real: On the deficiencies of the current anti-bullying fad cause.
- Sports The second part in my two part series on the current state of the Minnesota Wild, a defense of the Detroit Lions oft-criticized Ndomakan Suh (get it? a defense?), and why I hate Blake Griffin.
- Music An article about the Rolling Stones’ song “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and two great cover versions by Muddy Waters and David Bowie. Includes commentary on the Stones hilarious performance of the song on Ed Sullivan where they were forced to sing it as “let’s spend some time together.”
- Final Thought
Somebody say howdy to me…
Hello boys and girls and welcome once again to Ramblin’ On. I have to start out, as I do every issue, by thanking my Lord and savior Jesus Christ…oh wait, that’s Tim Tebow’s bit. Regardless of my thankfulness towards Jesus I’d like to take this time to thank everybody for supporting Ramblin’ On going into its third week. The amount of people reading and enjoying my articles and ideas is overwhelming and I thank all of you.
I also thank you in advance for your continued support. Each hit on each article is a big deal and comments are always, always loved and appreciated.
Alright, here we go.
The deficiencies of the current anti-bullying campaign
This is the first in a two part article. Part two will appear in the next issue of Ramblin’ On.
The latest fad “cause” sweeping America is the anti-bullying campaign. I see at least a few
Facebook statuses dedicated to the cause every week. There are billboards, commercials, school groups, and everything else.
I can hear the audible sighs already. Where are you going with this, Ritland? Certainly you’re not pro-bullying, are you?
Of course not. Bullying is never acceptable. I may be an obnoxious, cold-hearted asshole but even I don’t condone bullying.
Like most ideas, ideologies, fads, trends, causes, and everything else in our CON(temporary) society, though, the anti-bullying campaign says more about the flaws in our society, and the people in it, than it does about the cause.
The approach of the campaign is a joke in itself. Telling kids not to bully? What bully is going to listen to a bunch of squares telling them not to bully? If I were a bully I’d bully all the more if I saw some stupid advertisement at the mall telling me how much I’m hurting all the nerds and geeks and goths and emos that I’m bullying. The reason why most kids do it is to have the power of hurting somebody else. Having a confirmation of the success of their efforts isn’t going to dissuade them.
Kids also bully to build themselves up, both in their own heads and in the eyes of their peers. Most bullies are the type that aren’t very happy with themselves for one reason or another so they have to exploit the flaws in those around them to distract themselves from seeing the flaws in themselves.
Aside from the methodology the entire approach of fad causes like this always comes off as really fake. Where were all these people who have hopped on board to the anti-bullying campaign a few months ago when nobody was bringing it up? If it actually mattered to so many people, if it was actually such an epidemic, then a cause against it wouldn’t have come up until now, and people who have embraced and promulgated the message would not have waited till a fad cause was created to speak out against it.
In light of the reasons why kids bully it’s also easy to see how a simplistic campaign like the current one will probably not do much good. The issues that cause kids to bully run so deep that simply telling them not to do it will not even begin to scratch the surface of the problem. What, then, could possibly be done to prevent bullying?
In short: nothing. Spreading the anti-bullying message is insufficient because bullying is a problem that will never go away entirely. No matter how many commercials and billboards there are there will always be kids who have it in their genes and their mental makeup to make fun of people for one reason or another.
That’s not to say that bullying is not something that an ad campaign can’t help lessen or make not as prevalent. But there are better ways of going about it than advertisements and Facebook statuses.
Look for part II next week which turns the question of bullying inward on parents and society to reveal the true source of the problem.
A Short History of the Minnesota Wild (part 2)
2012 will certainly not be their season but for the first time like, ever, things are looking up for the Wild.
This is the second in a two part article about the Wild. Read the first part here.
When we last left the story things weren’t looking so great for the Wild. New owner Craig Leipold and General Manager Chuck Fletcher were attempting to pick up the pieces after nearly a decade of floundering under Bob Neagele and Doug Risebrough.
While the problems they were handed couldn’t be fixed overnight their first couple moves weren’t very impressive – the hiring of rookie coach Todd Richards, another rookie coach in Mike Yeo, the signing of Martin Havlat, etc. etc. Initially it practically seemed like things were moving in the same direction as the first regime.
Then came the shocking summer of 2011. The Wild made three very, very good trades (I’d say “blockbuster” but this IS the Wild we’re talking about). First there was the draft day trade that sent Brent Burns and the Wild’s 2012 second round pick to the San Jose Sharks for their 2011 first round draft pick, highly touted prospect Charlie Coyle (their first round draft pick last year), and 24 year old potential rising star Devin Setoguchi. Merely weeks later came another big deal, the Wild sending bust Martin Havlat flat out to the Sharks for Dany Heatley. Finally, in a relatively minor move, the Sharks gave up their 2013 third round draft pick for James Shepherd, a former first round pick who has done about as much for the Wild as I have. Actually, considering the fact that I work at the Xcel Energy Center, he certainly did even less. You could even say nothing. Except eat up salary cap room.
These deals were all so lopsided in the Wild’s favor that it’s really hard to pick which of
them was the best deal. Brent Burns is a great player and lovable guy but his identity crisis as a defenseman who couldn’t play defense was often infuriating. It was sort of hard to give him up but when considering the mother load the Wild got for him – three number one round draft picks in all – it’s pretty obvious that the deal was too good to pass up. The defensive depth in the Wild’s farm system also proves how good this move was.
The Havlat for Heatley trade has already proven, and will continue to prove, to be another lopsided trade in the Wild’s favor. The Wild learned something about Havlat in his tenure here that obviously wasn’t disclosed to them when he signed his contract: he’s not very good. Heatley, while not a superstar, is indeed very good, especial when teamed up with playmakers, the type of guys the Wild have in abundance, both locked up on the team and in their farm system.
The Shepherd trade, while the most low-key of the bunch, was more a mental victory for the Wild than anything. Shepherd, a Risebrough number one round draft pick bust, may be the biggest stain on the Wild’s stain-filled resume of poor decision making. Unleashing him for anything – even a third roud draft two years down the road – is a victory in the Wild’s favor.
These trades, combined with the Wild’s replenished, deep farm system (the Houston Aeros, their minor league affiliate, almost one a national championship last year) make the future for the Wild seem pretty pleasant. They have no lack of defensemen and goal tenders, some hot looking prospects, and a solid core in Koivu, Heatley, Setoguchi, and Cullen. Add a hot shit goal scorer (Zach Parise?) and this team will become a perennial playoff team in the years to come – and even make an appearance or two in the Stanley Cup.
Postscript: 2011-2012 Season
This season looked really promising for the Wild at the beginning. For the first time possibly ever they had not only a real, actual first line that could run with the best (Koivu, Heatley, Setogucci) but also some depth behind them. Matt Cullen, Guillaume Latendresse, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard were a formidable second line while the perpetually overachieving Kyle Brodziak and Cal Clutterbuck anchored a more than respectable third.
Unfortunately, as has happened to often in Minnesota sports, injuries have really ruined everything. Latednresse and Bouchard have missed significant portions of the season and there’s no timetable for the return of either of them from their concussion symptoms and Koivu and Setogucci have also spent weeks apiece on injured reserve.
With that in mind it’s hard to believe that the Wild are still in the playoff picture. But will they make the playoffs? I don’t think so. There are just too many obstacles for them to overcome with all the injuries to key players, the already tired rookies constantly having to bounce from Houston to Minnesota, and a rookie coach with a new system trying to keep it all together. Better luck next year, boys. Your time will come.
So Suh Me
— Because of a few questionable hits, and especially his “stomping” of a Green Bay Packer on Thanksgiving, Ndamukong Suh has gained a reputation among football players and fans alike as a dirty player. Suh claimed in an interview this week, however, that he is not. “A dirty player, in my estimation, would be somebody that is going out there intentionally trying to hurt somebody,” he said. “I think there are some players in this league that do that. I’ve come across some of them. For whatever reason, that’s their M.O.”
— Unlike everybody in the universe I sort of agree with Suh. Sure he plays hard. He also has a lot of energy and is very physical. But this is football isn’t it? It isn’t competitive ballet or synchronized swimming, right? Suh plays hard and physical in a physical sport and, far from being out of bounds, he’s only doing what he’s paid to do. Very rarely, if ever, has he stepped outside the rulebook with his hits or actions.
— Suh goes on in the interview to comment that he believes his bad reputation is the invention of a media and populace that just wants a story. I agree with Suh here 100%. It’s very popular to see him as a dirty player. It’s a great story, a way for people, once again, to point the finger at somebody and think they’re better than them to build themselves up.
— All of the evidence of Suh being dirty is exaggerated. To see his hits as “dirty” you have to look at it through the lens of assuming he’s dirty before you even see them. If you look at them all outside of that context they seem merely like a defensive player making hard hits on quarterbacks and running backs. But since Suh has that reputation, since it’s so fun to talk about how dirty of a player he is, it’s automatically thrust into that context and he’s automatically seen as a dirty player.
— One last comment. The stomping incident was a strange one, eh? Like everybody else I’m disinclined to believe that he didn’t do it on purpose. The one piece of evidence against this is Suh’s reaction to what happened. Once he got up he acted like what happened wasn’t that big of a deal; he wasn’t fuming or angry or anything. As quickly as on the sideline you can see him explaining himself to his coach – he wasn’t stomping, he was regaining his balance. It seems like a blatant lie but, if it is a lie, credit goes to him for so immediately thinking of a lie and acting, the entire time, like he was innocent.
Blake Griffin is stupid and overrated. Kevin Love is awesome and underrated. Fuck Blake Griffin.
— I’m really starting to get sick of everybody fawning over Blake Griffin. It’s one thing to talk up a really great player. It’s another thing completely to absolutely fawn over, and give ridiculous amounts of attention, to an above average player just because he can do some obnoxious flashy shit. And that’s exactly the story of Blake Griffin.
— What makes it even more annoying is that the flashy shit he does isn’t even that cool. I remember hearing last year that he dunked over a car and thinking, “Wow, that sounds really cool!” Then I saw the video and realized what he actually did was jump a few feet over the lowest part of the hood on a Kia. A fucking Kia! I’ve seen people running from the cops who have made more impressive leaps over cars.
— Then there was his latest dunk this week over Kendrick Perkins. I kept hearing that this was the dunk of the year, maybe the dunk of the century, one of the best of all time. Like a sucker I was once again pretty interested in seeing it and once again I was disappointed. First off it was the shittiest defense I’ve ever seen; Perkins doesn’t even leave his feet, like he’s not even trying, like he’s a defensive back in the Pro Bowl or something. Any basketball player with any amount of power could have thrust themselves as Griffin did and make that play. There was literally nothing extraordinary about it. Actually it wasn’t even a dunk! He can’t make it to the basket so he tosses the ball into the net! It was about 4 inches away from being a lay up for fuck’s sake!
— What adds the fuel to the fire for me is that, while Griffin is getting stupid amounts of attention for doing flashy stuff that isn’t even that cool, Kevin Love is scoring more points, getting more rebounds, and being more important to his team and getting zero recognition. Isn’t that the way it goes, though? The guy who works hard gets shoved aside because he isn’t interesting enough, because he isn’t as much of a story, while the person who isn’t as good who gives more of a show gets all the attention.
— Also, Blake Griffin is ugly and stupid.
Let’s Spend Three Nights Together
The evolution of an underrated Stones classic
The Rolling Stone’s raunchy “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” an obvious ode to casual sex, made quite a stir upon its release in 1967. Many American radio stations refused to play it. The BBC banned it. Ed Sullivan made them change the lyric to “let’s spend some time together” on his show with hilarious results (that I go in to detail about below). The flip side of the single, “Ruby Tuesday,” (a catchier song anyway) became the bigger hit in America because the backlash to the song was so severe.
In our overly sexualized society “Let’s Spend the Night Together” seems tame indeed, lyrically at least (except in China, that is, where as recently as 2006 the Stones were amazingly not allowed to play the song there). Yet amid the hoopla of the lyrics it’s easy to overlook that the song itself, and the energy of the performance, are stellar. In addition to the original version the song has also inspired a few creative cover versions that are each at least as good, if not better, than the original. Below I highlight, chronologically, three of the best versions: the original, Muddy Waters’ revolutionary psychedelic blues/rock version, and Bowie’s glam masterpiece.
The Rolling Stones
Originally released as a single in 1967; can be found on the American albums Between the Buttons and Flowers. Hear it here.
It’s obvious that the Rolling Stones are going to be at their high octane best for this track right from the hot piano/bass lick and the thunderous drums at the beginning of the track. The bass, drums, and piano are all absolutely pounding to the point that I swear you can feel their energy coming through the speakers. While the backing vocals (which are ejaculated after practically every line) can seem excessive the energy of them is undeniable.
Charlie Watts drumming, which is borderline brilliant as far as taste goes, anchors the entire song. His fills, while simple, are all perfect, and the way he switches from a straight groove in the verses to hitting the snare on the upbeat during the pre-chorus and chorus of the song perfectly creates the “build ups” that the songs energy feeds off of.
The infamous Ed Sullivan performance of this song has to be mentioned. Sullivan, it must be noted from the outset, was a total dumbass. He, like many prudes in America, took offense to the overtly sexual lyrics and told the Stones that either the song had to go or they couldn’t play the show. As a compromise the band agreed to sing the lyrics as “let’s spend some time together.”
The results, as should be expected, are hilarious. The Stones look completely uninterested and Keith Richards intentionally slurs the lyrics at several points. The part that makes it so funny, though, is that members of the band visibly roll their eyes at no less than four instances during the performance (:54, 1:36, 2:06, and 2:48 were the ones I noticed). This has to be seen to be believed. Jaggar’s handshake of Sullivan that ends the video couldn’t be more forced and, although he seemed pleased with the performance, Sullivan refused to let the Stones perform on the show after that. PLEASE click here to view.
Watching that video also makes me grateful that so few people have moves like Jaggar. Embarrassing. However fashion would be a lot cooler if people still dressed like him.
Originally found on the 1968 album Electric Mud. Hear ithere.
1967 and ’68 were the golden years of psychedelic rock. Amidst all the wonderful excesses of that era came the idea to have Delta bluesman Muddy Waters cut an album of raw, raunchy, psychedelic blues rock in the vein of Cream and other such blues oriented psychedelic rock bands.
The version of “Let’s Spend the Night Together” from Electric Mud is a good representation of exactly why entire album is so mind blowing. The riff that the piano and bass provide in the original recording is scrapped altogether and replaced with a fuzz-guitar riff reminiscent of Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love.” Instead of relying on the build up that the drums provide in the original recording the band backing Muddy finds a groove based on the riff they created and then run with it with stunning results. Add in the swirling organ, exemplary guitar work, and Muddy’s impassioned vocal and it becomes hard to imagine that this version of the song could ever be topped.
Originally released as a single in 1973 and the album Alladin Sane (released the same year). Hear ithere.
Then comes Bowie’s version.
Even as a fan of the original (and as a person well-versed in the glam era of Bowie) I still had no idea how to digest this version of the song when I first heard it when I was in middle school. It’s just so…raw. I walked away from it after the first time I heard it in absolute shock.
Bowie’s band from that era, the Spiders from Mars, are one of my favorite rock bands of all time. The way they translated Bowie’s attitude and songwriting of that era into flashy rock n’ roll is one of the high points of rock music in the ‘70s.
Their version of “Let’s Spend the Night Together” is a perfect example of just how good they were. All three versions of the song commented on here have great openings but this one, with its initial electric guitar blast, loud synth fill, and piano insanity is by far the best and sets the tone for the rest of the song.
The energy of the original is replaced with absolute recklessness. The guitar, piano, and synths of the intro never let up; they actually get more and more raucous as the song goes on. Trevor Bolder’s fluid, fret-destroying bassline, Mick “Woody” Woodmansey’s pounding drums, Mick Ronson’s perfectly glam guitar fills, Mike Garson’s insane piano playing, and Bowie’s intense and (as always) spot on vocal performance all come together to create one of the best rock performances possibly ever.
* * * * * * *
All in all it’s really hard to choose which of these is the best version of the song. Each has their own appeal (so much so that I listened to each one very loudly on repeat as I wrote each part). Choosing a best version is stupid anyway; it’s enough to say that each is a great rock n’ roll song and leave it at that.
Thus ends another edition of Ramblin’ On. Is there a topic you’d like to see me do an article on? Email me ideas in a comment on this (or any post) or email me at email@example.com. For your trouble I’ll send you a copy of my CD Firelight. Due to the popular response of the first few contests I’ll only be able to give prizes to the first five people who respond.
Thanks again everyone! I look forward to talkin’ at you all next week. Keep the peace.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik’s music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.