Sunday, January 29, 2012

Concert Review: Turn it on, Turn it up, Turn me loose...

When one of "old" Country's legends comes to town, it is time to dust off the boots and hat and head to Billy Bob's. Fiona and I did just that when we found out Dwight Yoakam was going to be in Fort Worth as part of the Stock Show concert series.

Billy Bob's is a cavernous joint built in 1910 to house cattle (complete with sloped floors for easy cleaning) and later used as a dept store, an airplane manufacturing plant and lastly in 1981 converted to the self-styled "World's Largest Honky-Tonk". It spans over 127,000 square feet, has 20 bars and a capacity for over 6,000. Yes, everything is bigger in Tejas. It felt like 6,001 showed up to see old Dwight. He did not disappoint, belting out all the hits in a performance that lasted almost two hours.

The crowd, almost all attired appropriately in Wranglers, boots and belt-buckles the size of battle shields, lapped up every minute. My favorite moment was when he stopped in the middle of "Bakersfield" to change the lyrics from San Franciso to "Dallas" and then again corrected himself to add "Fort Worth". This elicited much hootin' and hollerin' from the crowd and to be honest I am shocked the 20 bars did not run out of beer, such a good time was had.

Good artist, great show, fun crowd, a rocking venue.

Some Recommendations for Bartlett's

Here's a couple of useful quotes that I recently came across and in all likelihood, they will not make it into Bartlett's.

"You can't have it all, where would you put it?" - Lemmy. He probably did not originate this but in his inimitable way he has made it his own. Ironically in the "Lemmy" documentary aired on VH1, the tour of Lemmy's cluttered apartment would indicate that while he does not have it all, he has a lot of it. He desreves a Hoarders episode. The cameraman made the very human mistake of being unable to differentiate the garbage can from the coffee table and was chided by Lemmy for his error. Another gem of Lemmy wit was when showing off a portrait/mosaic made by a fan, he quipped "Shame someone dropped it".

Second quote: "We live in an age when you say casually to somebody "What's the story on that?" and they can run to the computer and tell you within five seconds. That's fine, but sometimes I'd just as soon continue wondering. We have a deficit of wonder right now" - Tom Waits. Great title for a song or album: Deficit of Wonder.

A funny moment on the Roy Orbison "Black & White Night" DVD was when Tom Waits claimed to have babysit (sat?) for Roy Orbison. The thought of Waits babysitting for anyone is hilarious...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Book Review: Rise & Walk - The Trial & Triumph of Dennis Byrd

Fitting that while the current crop of NY Jets were imploding on and off the field, I found Dennis Byrd's biography on sale at the used book store. It is a quick but great read and offers stark contrast between a selfless man young man devastated playing the game he loved and that of say, Santonio Holmes, who basically quit on the team mid-game last week.

Byrd must have lived in at least ten different places before high school, bouncing around between Oklahoma and California. But his family stuck together bound by the strong Christian values of his parents. Dennis excelled on the football field for his small high school in Mustang, OK. He was good enough to play for the mighty OU or even OSU but due to some typical recruiting shenanigans ended up at the less fancied University of Tulsa.

The Golden Hurricanes (what a name!) hardly set the world of college football alight but again, Byrd was a standout and come draft day in 1989, he was taken as a second pick by the NY Jets - their first was Jeff Lageman. I sort of vaguely remember Jets fans grousing about the draft - but then again Jets fans always complain on draft day. Byrd and Lageman became fast friends and more importantly, very solid NFL linemen. Dennis Byrd was strong, fast, smart and loved nothing better than sacking the opposing QB and by his third year in the pro's, was one of the premier defensive tackles in the league.

In Nov 1992, Byrd suffered a catastrophic neck injury when he collided with team-mate Scott Merserau, both pursuing the Chiefs QB. The force of the impact shattered Byrds C4 vertebrae and left him paralyzed from the neck down. He was told he would never walk again. I remember this well and there was such sadness among the Jets faithful. Byrd was too young and too good to have suffered a career ending injury.

What follows is several gut-wrenching chapters detailing the excruciating fitting of the awful halo vest, total lack of control over basic bodily functions, marathon surgery, tiny inklings of hope as nerve endings begin to fire and respond, and ultimately movement in limbs that were medically diagnosed as useless.

Byrd was determined to recover: he flat out refused to quit and every day like a man possessed fought through exhausting physical therapy. He had wonderful medical help but what shines through is Byrd's faith in the Lord, self-belief and love for his wife, family and Jets team mates. Leon Hess deserves no small praise. As Jets team owner he was often at Dennis's bedside and made sure he got the best medical care. His friends Jeff Lageman and Marvin Washington were never far away, giving great support. While in hospital, Byrd was inundated with best wishes and cards, the funniest coming from a kid who wrote "Even though I am a Giants fan, I hope you get well".

Within months, Dennis Byrd walked again, beating incredible odds. As he left the hospital in Manhattan, he reminded fans that he would always by an NY Jet. The batch that lost feebly to Miami last week do not deserve to have # 90 give them play-off pep talks.

Great man, great story, great book.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Went to a fight and a hockey game broke out

What is up with the NHL? No more drop-the-gloves, pull-the-jersey-over-his head mauling on skates? This isn't the Olympics. This is the regular season, we expect fights. Why would the refs pull them apart? We paid good money to see blood, teeth knocked out, etc. High sticking, five minute penalties, smashed glass. Where's the fun? Well, it was fun but it could be even more fun. The fans want to chant "Fight, Fight, Fight" and bay for aggression. Too much finese and not enough testosterone. That's what you get with too many Canadians and Swedes. Where have you gone, Tie Domi? (Tie was actually Canadian, so blame the Swedes).

Hilarious during the intermission when there were about 20 seven year old kids on the ice playing at least three games at once since some wiseacre threw three pucks out there to cause confusion.

The Stanley Cup banner looks nice but it might be awhile before the Stars get another. Good young team but no enforcer. Where's the reducer?

The Stars moved to Dallas from Minnesota in 1993 and by the end of the 1998 season had won the big pot. A story goes that the Stanely Cup ended up in a Dallas swimming pool during a post-victory party. Those were the days - and they sure as hell allowed fighting. Where's my Slapshot DVD?