3/29- Weather or Not…

My posts lately have been less frequent than when I first arrived here in Las Vegas. Nothing is wrong. There’s just not much to tell you about. I’m alive, healthy, and perfectly happy. I’m just boring too. I went to a Golden Knights game last week for the first time, and they beat Nashville 6-1. As always, live hockey is amazing. I got another Prime Rib $8.98 special at Poker Palace. I found a bar I really like, Velveteen Rabbit in the Arts District (I live there). They make an awesome variation of a Moscow Mule, a “Watermelon Jalapeño Mule.” We had record heat here last week, touching into the 90’s in March. Then it rained last night, which is of course weird in a desert.

There’s just not much to tell you about my life here at almost two months. The initial glamour of Vegas’ bright lights has faded into a more realistic view of the city. This isn’t New York or Los Angeles, at least not off the strip. It’s actually a very blue collar place. The city is filled with working class people. There are Midwestern retirees everywhere. People in the service industry everywhere. First and second generation Americans everywhere. People who moved out of high expense Southern California for a cheaper standard of living here. Even most of the people on the strip are middle class vacationers. Vegas is just a collection of a lot of average people living in pretty good weather and a bit of luxury. It’s actually a lot more charming than my initial read on this place.

I tend to romantically long for the 1990’s. Politically there was Bill Clinton and economically there was his booming economy. The grunge/alternative rock boom in rock and rise of gangsta’ rap in hip hop made for an era of music unmatched since. Life seemed to just be better. My life was simpler in a way I’ve never recovered from. In my mind, I’ve made the 1990’s perfect. They weren’t though. It was actually a somewhat shady, decadent period that produced all kinds of weird. That President I think the world of was highly controversial, with his personal life setting off a culture war that ended in his impeachment, not to mention that his policy decisions set off a civil war in the Democratic Party that I tend to think might be fatal for our democracy. Many of the rock stars of that era have OD’ed at this point and the two biggest rappers of the day both got shot up in still unsolved murders. There was the OJ and Michael Jackson trials, both complete circuses that couldn’t help but make you doubt justice. It was kind of a decade of beautiful chaos, that was then followed by a decade of terrorism, war, natural disasters, a mortgage meltdown, and economic collapse. I’ve come to the conclusion that the 1990’s were in fact better, and felt way better than anything after, but they were a dark, seedy time that lead us towards a mess. Many of the smiling faces were masking some fucked up shit underneath.

This is a long winded way of me getting to how sad I am about the death of Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins. You cannot talk about the band without talking about Hawkins, a founder of the band with Dave Grohl, quite literally the heartbeat of arguably the greatest rock n’ roll band of the last 25 years. The Foo Fighters represented to me the most musically wholesome thing to come of the 1990’s. They were the anti-Nirvana, ironically. While all the other major rock bands that emerged in the 1990’s either faded from view, had their front man OD, or had their front man turn into a conspiracy nut on Info Wars, the Foo Fighters kept going, kept churning out hit records and tours, and did so smiling. Grohl might be the most famous rock star in the world, but Hawkins was his “happy warrior” sidekick the whole time. Yeah, we knew the Foo Fighters weren’t as perfect as it looked, but they made being a rock star look fun. Hawkins did it with a smile. And even if we knew he had past issues, we fooled ourselves into believing how happy it was. These were rock’s good guys. This wasn’t going to end like Cobain, Weiland, or Cornell. They weren’t the Smashing Pumpkins. You could enjoy their work and be happy.

Reality is shitty in that you can’t beat it. Taylor Hawkins, the heartbeat of the Foo Fighters, is dead at age 50. The circumstances of his death are still murky, but the details being rumored are indicating the worst fears of fans everywhere- maybe things were never as happy as they looked. He was far too talented, far too young for this. We’re young enough that our stars shouldn’t be dying yet, but another one has. He’s one that wasn’t supposed to either. The whole thing is depressing.

I’m not a big fan of Will Smith, despite his Philly ties. The Eminem line “Will Smith don’t have to cuss in his rap to sell records, well I do. So f*** him, and f*** you too” kinda tells you my feelings. I’m also of the opinion that comedians should have some license to say fucked up stuff in their jokes, not walk on eggshells for being scorned because they insulted someone. Chris Rock definitely uses every inch of that license, if not more. So I’m hardly shocked that Rock crossed a line with his joke, or that Will Smith decided he needed to show us what a man he was on a global telecast. They both performed their norm here. Based on my views of comedy, I guess you’d guess I side with Chris Rock- and if you force me to pick, I do. I think both looked ridiculous though, and Chris Rock only looks good in that he looks less ridiculous than a clown that made a fool of himself on the biggest night of his career. I guess Will had to let us know he and Jada’s relationship was stronger than we all thought. Lord help him.

Don’t mistake my Will Smith slander for a pass for Chris Rock. He and his writers could have done a basic Google of Jada to know her hair situation was a health issue. Once he got slapped, he could have literally done anything better than what he did. He could have made jokes at Smith’s expense. He certainly should have pressed charges. Instead he is trying to let it go. Nah man.

As for Will Smith- whatever. Keep the damn Oscar, dude. You showed yourself for the thin-skinned pretty boy you are. You could have simply been waiting at Rock’s car afterwards to have a chat with him. Instead you made a fool of yourself, and more people remember that than his actually well deserved Oscar win.

Spring training is winding down, as are the NBA and NHL seasons. The NFL is begging for Spring attention again with free agency and televised workouts for next year’s rookies (how does anyone watch that?). It’s a great time to be a sports fan. Out here the Golden Knights, thought to be a Cup contender, are battling to just get in the playoffs, while the Las Vegas Aviators are getting ready to open AAA baseball season. It’s all cool, but I do miss Philly sports.

My Phillies are getting ready to break camp. It’s an exciting time, with reigning MVP Bryce Harper getting some new help from Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos, two guys that will fit Philly perfectly. JT Realmuto and Rhys Hoskins look healthy and ready to go, and young prospects Bryson Stott and Mickey Moniak look ready to help this team now. I’m excited for the season. It looks fun again.

This picture almost made me jump ship on Joe…

Did you watch the confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson? I hope you didn’t, for your sake. If the hearings for Judge Kavanaugh were outright acrimonious, and the hearings for Judge Coney Barrett were a complete joke, these hearings were an embarrassment to humanity. Ted Cruz, who once let Donald Trump call his wife ugly, again showed himself to be a joke of a person when he asked the Judge if she would be teaching CRT to our students- as if she was a teacher. Lindsey Graham started out by explaining that he respects and understands the job of being a public defender and/or a private practice defense attorney representing your client- then he proceeded to attack her for doing those jobs. Neither matched Josh Hawley, he of January 6th instigation fame, who accused the Judge of being soft on pedophiles as both a member of the Federal Sentencing Commission and as a judge, all of which was a gross misreading of her record. It was embarrassing. This woman is clearly a mainstream judge and highly qualified. If you want to join Senator Sasse and say you are impressed by her and think she’s qualified, but you disagree with her views and you’ll vote no, fine. What you got from the GOP members of that committee was mostly embarrassing though.

This is not to say I was fine with all of her answers. When the judge was asked to define a woman, I think she should have either given some sort of answer (I would say anyone who identifies as a woman), or at least some sort of read on how she would view the question, legally. No, the clown asking her about it didn’t deserve an answer, but I do think she could have struck back at the absurdity of the question more aggressively. It didn’t change my view on her confirmation though. She deserves confirmation.

Until next time…

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