This week, while I was traveling in Toronto and North Bay, Ontario there has been talk of a national event. It has been mentioned on every radio station that I have listened to, talked about by our tour guide, and pop up t-shirt carts have started selling commemorative apparel. It is not for hockey and it is not one the biggest MMA fights in the world and it is not for the Olympics. It is for a band.
The Tragically Hip are playing their last concert ever in their hometown Kingston and it will be on multiple broadcast television channels. Lead singer Gord Downie has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and will be saying farewell to the stage tonight.
I have been trying to wrap my head around a band’s farewell concert being broadcast equivalent to the way we broadcast the President’s State of the Union address on CBS, ABC, Fox and NBC in the States.
The Tragically Hip are a national treasure in Canada. They have been around since the 80’s and without reaching fame in the US they have reached ultimate celebrity in the Great North.
From my American perspective their level of stardom is mind blowing. I have yet to pass a bar that is not advertising a viewing party for the Hip on the same night as UFC 202 and Canadians love MMA. I have even heard it called Tragically Hip Day, but I have not confirmed that.
In the States we have been blessed with thousands and thousands of world class musicians and it would be impossible to call one our national band.
I was trying to think of any band, if hit with the type of tragedy as the Hip is faced with, would garner this much national attention. Enough to cause a major network to change their programming and air their performance live.
Here is the list that I was able to come up with after some conversations with friends.
Maroon 5: After hitting the national stage with their first album “Songs About Jane” and Adam Lavine staring in The Voice he could probably draw the attention of NBC with his relationship with the network. I am not sure that they have been around long enough to demand multiple networks covering the show.
Aerosmith: Even without playing a show together for years. If something were to happen to Steven Tyler it would draw the nation’s attention. Like Adam Lavine, Tyler may be able to draw the network he already has a relationship with, but I don’t think it would be covered on multiple channels.
Bon Jovi: The east coast might come to a complete stop if something happened to Bon Jovi and he was forced to play only one last show. I am not sure it would be as detrimental to California as New York and Jersey.
Beyoncé: I know she is not technically a band, but it would change the feel of the music industry, the way that Michael or Prince’s passing did. She might be one that is loved enough to get a farewell tour broadcast nationally.
Justin Timberlake: This is the one. Being from Memphis and living in LA, JT has coast to coast appeal. His appearances on SNL and roles in movies transcends him beyond his music career. But a farewell concert would draw as well or better than a Super Bowl.
That is my list. I would love to hear yours. Once you get past the morbid thought of giving your favorite performers brain cancer, it is an interesting conversation to have with your friends.
In America, we have have all been taught the power and importance of the freedom of choice. Because of this we are always looking to capture the best option and are quick to label something as better or best than it’s competition.
My wife, her cousin, and I were at a winery in Napa a couple of years ago. We were on a tour and at this particular winery they would take you on a tour of their caves that they aged barrels of wine in. We had a fantastic guide from New Zealand that had a great accent and an even better job. We meandered through the cool corridors of the caves lined with casks of wine and every few barrels he would insert some sort glass flange to extract wine directly from the barrel for us to try. About 10 minutes into the tour we got to a pair of barrels and he was describing the type of grape that was used and that this particular batch was split into two different casks. One was made of a French Oak and the other American Oak. I am not so naive to think that American Oak is better than French, but I was not willing to concede that fact without asking the expert. So Mr. New Zealand wine guy “Which is better, the American of French?”
In his charming accent he laughed at me and then quickly apologized for laughing, but said that it was a very “American” question. He explained to us that the difference was simply that, just different. He went on with an analogy of his dress socks and how he would pair them depending on the suit he was wearing, but he didn’t have a favorite pair of socks, they were just different.
I was a little offended that he laughed at me, but his message hit home. Since that day, I have tried to be careful to not compare things and try to rank them if not absolutely necessary. Now, I am not doing this to be more politically correct or some anti-American bias, but to simply get rid of the idea that something has to be best and open myself up to trying new things.
I say all of that to explain that when I do call something the best or the worst, it has been thoughtfully considered.
So when a couple of friends and I got into a conversation about sports movies and this movie came up, I was clear. Hoosiers is the worst sports movie of all time and here is why.
It sells itself as a classic come-from-behind redemption story, but really it’s not. Hackman, who plays a failed college coach is forced to take a job at a high school in a tiny town after being fired. Why was Hackman fired? He hit a kid.
He then hires the town drunk to be his assistant to help turn the team around. Except he can’t. At least not without the star player, Jimmy Chitwood, that is not playing because he is neglecting his school work. So to get the team moving in the right direction, he decides to forgo developing his team into the best they can be and focuses his attention on badgering the teacher who is keeping Chitwood on the sidelines.
Then we get to the climax of the movie as they make it to the state championship and they are paired against an all black team in the 1950s. The racism is dripping off of the screen and classic sports stereotypes are brought to life before your eyes. The overdone back and forth Rocky style of a sports game is played with Chitwood hitting the game winning shot.
The only real winner in the movie is Denis Hopper that played the drunk assistant, who is able to put the bottle down long enough to help the team win. His accomplishment however is almost completely thrown away as they focus on Hackman and Chitwood and their respective victories. We celebrate the redemption of a coach that went from college failure to lower division high school champ, because he didn’t assault anyone this time around.
This movie was fantastically directed and had a feel good ending that everyone was rooting for, but those two things did not make up for the biggest problem with the movie. The plot.