The prevailing nonsense which has grown across the city of Toronto when it comes to Marcus Stroman has become a kind of genuine irritant in my day-to-day sense of sports welfare. This week I’ve been on national radio, produced multiple podcasts, and have written extensively about my opposition to the pending trade of this pitcher while coming perilously close to sounding like a broken record. Look, I think it’s just profoundly bad business on all fronts and smacks of a tired and lame agenda to rid the Blue Jays of any or all traces of the Alex Anthopoulos era while concurrently placating a small but vocal minority of fans who don’t like the way he uses social media or stands up for himself. Envy much? Marcus has been a loyal soldier since day one and represents a legitimate ace on a pathetic pitching staff who also happens to be on pace for a career year and is usually the only reason fans turn out to watch this sad-sack rebuild of a once proud franchise. He has the second best ground-ball ratio in baseball which literally sounds as sexy as it is, and his team refuses to provide him with more than four runs per game which explains why he has a measly six wins on the season and a sub-3.00 ERA. He isn’t even a free agent until after 2020 which should make you as salty as I find myself trying to understand the ridiculous mindset of the front office. It’s beyond baffling – but don’t fret. Soon you too will struggle to wade through the media revisionism that follows a truly bad executive decision with lots of gobbledygook about prospect capital, long-term planning, and risk-averse strategies which will leave you pining for the days of Gord Ash and J. P. Ricciardi.
Don Cherry is literally a slice of Canadiana. A man who peaked during his minor league playing career as a left-handed shooting defenseman and played a grand total of one single NHL game with the Boston Bruins. And from all that adversity, he parlayed his resiliency into a short but sweet coaching career that involved back to back Stanley Cup finals (1977, 1978) and that infamous game during the 1979 semi-finals against the Montreal Canadiens. He finished his brief but memorable career with a .564 winning percentage and immediately transitioned to the CBC as a coaching analyst and insider where he gradually forged his indelible brand as we know it today. I had the pleasure of meeting him personally back in 2013 when I was at a high profile event and we jibjabbed the afternoon away while he regaled me with stories of his three favourite things in life; hockey, his wife, and his dog. I know he’s not everyone’s cup of tea; lord knows that he’s offended enough parts of this country that we’re all left wondering how he’s managed to emerge relatively unscathed all these years. But the fact is that Donald S. Cherry remains a cherished part of our hockey experience and shouldn’t be put out to pasture simply because of our incessant flirtations with ageism and a general thin-skinned righteousness in a politically correct age. Who else would replace this paragon of cross-demographic ice rink tradition? Your father, his father, and siblings would agree even if your children are scratching their heads in confusion. As far as I’m concerned, this is Don’s job for as long as he wants it. And when it finally does come to an end, the number of us who’ll miss his larger-than-life histrionics and passion for this game will far exceed those that failed to grasp what made him special in the first place.
Rutger Hauer personified cool. Granted, most of it was 80’s cool – but it remained the gold standard for a young Gen-X’er such as myself to bask in the glory of his epic Danish prowess. His death on Thursday sent me careening down a rabbit hole of childhood nostalgia as I grappled with the enormity of his passing. I was ten years old when I first noticed him in Ladyhawke as Etienne of Navarre while he fiercely protected the shape-shifting Michelle Pfeiffer during the day against a medieval curse that inexplicably needed a pre-Ferris Bueller Matthew Broderick to break the spell and give us all an incontrovertible happy ending. But it was the following year and his legendary performance in Blade Runner which would set him apart for generations of cinephiles and vault him directly into a league of memorable movie villains that will remain with us for posterity. Roy Batty wasn’t just a ruthlessly amoral replicant in search of immortality pursued by Harrison Ford; he was so much more. For in his delicately nuanced and decidedly methodesque performance, Rutger channeled so much of his body and soul that even he would find it ironic that his life would end in the same dystopian year that took place in the film (2019). He was a model, an actor, a writer, an environmentalist, and a larger than life human being who will forever haunt me with his final words in perhaps the most powerful science fiction soliloquy ever filmed: “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”
I first heard Television’s Marquee Moon when my brother nonchalantly introduced me to the band over a decade ago, and since then have come to adore absolutely everything about this album. This is Tom Verlaine’s musical schism that is one of the greatest foundational records in rock history and I swear that’s me keeping the hyperbole in check. If this is the very first time you’re reading and discovering this release, I’d like to preemptively offer you a relatively tasteful call to action: “You’re fucking kidding me, now go find the time and listen to this!” You could call it punk, you could label it post-punk or neo-punk or acid punk, you could even throw a progressive rock handle on this effort, but Marquee Moon deserves to be in a category of its own for so many musically existential reasons. Between the dissonant short hooks, the ferociously unrelenting solos, the rhythmic and syncopated masturbatory interplay between guitarists Richard Lloyd and Verlaine, the incendiary rock-jazz backbeats, the counter-melodies and lyrics resplendent with endless double-entendres and wicked puns – this is musicianship at its very best and you owe to yourselves to click a few buttons and put this on your playlist. Although Television only sold around 80,000 copies in the US when it was released in 1978 (and also led to their inevitable demise), audiophiles and music lovers everywhere owe it to themselves to bask in the glory of one of the greatest albums of all-time and a cornerstone of alternative rock.