Random thoughts from a random mind…

Posts tagged “Arizona

There’s “Bandwagon” and Then There’s “Confusing”

Some of my collection: ASU hat, Tigers hat, Red Wings hat, D-Backs hat from Opening Day 1998, 2001 World Series "Official Ball," ASU flag and Suns throw.

Have you ever sat back and really thought about how big a role sports plays in our lives?  I mean think about it, we complain about the millions and millions of dollars these guys make in a year, but we pay millions to see them play.  Cities (and you) pay millions to billions to be able to build the next, state of the art facility for their team or teams to play in.  I remember as a kid, and even still today, when I fly into a city, I’m always looking around trying to see the arenas or stadiums from the air. It’s the only time you get the opportunity to see the whole thing other than a photo.  Sometimes you don’t realize how pivotal the placement of a sports facility can be until you’ve seen it as you descent into a city from the air.

As a guy, you often get the question: “what is your favorite team?” This can often be a tricky question to answer.  If you happen to say a team that is currently playing really well, then you quickly have to justify the answer to not be tagged as a “fair-weather” or guilty of “jumping on the bandwagon.”  There are even times that if you happen to say the wrong team, you could be looking at a fist fight due to the person asking being a die-hard fan of a rival (slightly over-exaggerated, but could happen).

This question has often bewildered many friends of mine through my answers.  I could, at times, be accused of trying to hitch a ride on a couple of wagons, but I can justify all of my answers (at least to myself, and that’s what counts).  You see, growing up in various places throughout this sports-loving nation, it is very difficult to just have one favorite, or be a fan of just one team.  Is it really a crime to be a fan of multiple teams from a few different cities?  Feel free to judge.

When it comes to college that’s an easy one, Arizona State (Go Devils!!!) – You become slightly biased when you’re an alumnus, no matter how good or bad your teams may be.  When it comes to the Devils, not too many people are jumping on your wagon (hoping that 2011 proves to the hype for the Devils in football.  Unfortunately, hype, has never bode well for the Devils in years past).  The Lady Devils just won the softball National Championship and the baseball team is still battling its way to Omaha, but being a fan of the Sun Devils has been very trying over the years (Ahh to be a Sun Devil).  I will admit though, being a member of my wife’s family has also made me a fan of the Irish (fan, not a favorite…is that ok? Oh, and living near South Bend for a few years may have helped this as well).

When it comes to professional sports, it is a much harder story to tell.  My first professional influences came from the NFL.  It all started in the mid 70’s when we lived in Powell, Wyoming, and my father was a sports announcer for the local radio station.  They just so happened to cover the Orange Crush – you may know them better as the Denver Broncos.  I had a little plastic helmet that my dad had painted to mach a Broncos helmet, they were my team….until I heard about the Cowboys.  Yes, I do live in Dallas now and wouldn’t exactly consider myself a true blue Cowboy fan, but back in the day, yes, I was a fan.  Ok, so they were in their heyday (one of them).  Can a five-year-old boy really be guilty of jumping on a bandwagon? The point is, that at the time, living in “the middle of nowhere,” Wyoming, there weren’t any teams to be a fan of.  Looking elsewhere was your only option, even for a five-year-old.

Now is when it all starts to really get messy – at the age of 6, I was relocated with my family to Arizona.  Actual years are needed here for clarity, so this would have been 1981/82.  What that means for those of you not in the know, is that there weren’t any professional sports teams in Arizona except for the Phoenix Suns (NBA), but I didn’t really learn of them until a few more years down the road.  We lived in Kingman, AZ, again, middle of nowhere.  Like most families, my family went in different directions.  I lived with my mother and sister, so there weren’t many influences on sports.  I did enjoy playing baseball, soccer and basketball though.  Finally I became more aware of the sports world that was out there.  I began to learn more about professional teams around the nation – again, none in the local area.  I learned of the Phoenix Suns, and to no surprise, they became “my team.”

In 1986, I again relocated.  This time we moved to Michigan, Trufant, Michigan to be exact.  AGAIN, middle of nowhere! (Starting to get the picture?)  By this time, I was really getting into sports.  I knew all the best players on all the best teams in all professional sports, except hockey (more on that in a moment – remember, in Michigan now).  January 1987 was the year that I got to watch “my” Sun Devils down the Michigan Wolverines in the Rose Bowl.  I knew then that I wanted to be a Sun Devil.  I was still a fan of the Broncos (NFL) – even after all of the Elway (still one of my favorite players ever) chokes in the Super Bowls, the Cowboys (NFL), and the Suns (NBA).  Raise your hand if you thought KJ was the man!  I knew all about baseball and its best players/teams, but hadn’t really thought about a favorite team yet.  Again, it was hard to have one when there wasn’t a team nearby to follow; I mean, the Tigers were all the way over in Detroit, a 4-5 hour drive from Trufant.  Many of my friends would follow the Tigers.  It didn’t take long until I began to follow suit.  I also found myself becoming a fan of the lowly Atlanta Braves as we watched them climb from the trenches to go from “worst to first” (OK, maybe this one was bandwagoning, but it was a great story and hard not to follow).  Soon, I became used to the cold Michigan winters, and began to learn of hockey.  I truly fell in love with the sport, and what better place to be than the state of Michigan, home of the Detroit Red Wings (NHL)!  This was definitely a team that was hard not to love.

Ok, just to be sure you’re keeping track: Sun Devils (NCAA), Broncos (NFL), Cowboys (NFL), Cardinals (NFL), Suns (NBA), Tigers (MLB), Braves (MLB), and Red Wings (NHL).  Confused yet? Oh, yes, I’m sure you noticed the addition of the Cardinals in there – even living in Michigan, I still felt a connection to Phoenix/Arizona.  My dad still lived there, and kept me abreast of the latest happenings.  They moved to Phoenix from St. Louis in 1988, so I slowly began to adopt them as one of “my” teams, even though they were horrible for many, many years.  So there I was, now a teenager, all confused with who was my favorite team, and then I graduated HS and made another move back to Arizona.  This time I was off to college, to be a Sun Devil.

I moved to Phoenix in the summer of 1994.  Shortly thereafter, a new team had come into my life.  This one isn’t considered a definite “favorite,” but they are still a team that I will follow.  The Winnipeg Jets had made a move to the desert and had become the Coyotes.  Yes, there was now hockey in the middle of a place that was too hot for anyone to exist let alone play on ice.  It’s hard not to be into a team when you see them grow before you.

Which brings me to the next state of confusion…the Arizona Diamondbacks.  In 1998, the D-Backs franchise joined Major League Baseball.  Again, and even more-so, it is very hard not to be a fan of a team that you get the opportunity to see start from the very beginning.  The 2001 World Series win over the Yankees might have helped a little too (I say this as I look at my “Official Ball” from the 2001 Series that is on my desk).

Now I find myself living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Now, as you may recall, the Cowboys were “one” of my original favorite teams, but I truly don’t follow them in the same way.  In fact, I honestly find this current team to not fit into any class that earlier Cowboy’s teams have.  Romo just won’t ever be the leader that Staubach, White or Aikman were.  As for the other teams here: I don’t have any plans to ever follow the Stars for the Wings had my heart long ago; it was fun to see the Rangers go to the World Series, and I enjoy going to a game now and then, but the Tigers and D-Backs are enough for me; and lastly, yes, the Mavs are currently in the Finals, and I do honestly hope they win, but not as a fan, more as being not a fan of the Heat and the egos of Wade, Bosh and that other guy…oh yeah, the “King.”

So, would you consider my choices of “favorites” a sign of bandwagoning? I’m sure some could argue a few of them, but I feel that my mobility through life from town to town and the confusing nature of some of my locales has legitimized my choices.  When it comes down to it, I’m a fan of sport, of competition.  I am one that will watch a game, because I know it will be a good one.  Not caring who will win, just wanting to watch some good competition.  Maybe some of my “favorite” choices are because of this i.e. Atlanta in the 90’s, but that’s ok to me.

 


Origins of a DJ – Part 1

PURE ENJOYMENT OF MUSIC

My father has been in radio, well, broadcasting for all of my life.  Some of my fondest memories are visiting my dad in the station, and getting to go on the air with the DJ’s.  I’ve seen that industry change so much in my 30+ years…It’s been very interesting.  I remember when my dad was GM at a station in Kingman, AZ, and they had just gotten a new, “state-of-the-art” computer that barely fit in a 10×10 room that was able to provide music and commercials for an ENTIRE weekend! lol….some of you may not understand the joke with that, but it will make sense soon.  I remember sitting in the studio as the DJ “put the needle on the record”…yes, literally, put the tone-arm down on the latest 12” release; when commercials were run on CARTS (cartridges – very similar to an 8-track…if you remember what that is) – That’s enough of the history lesson for now…I’ll continue with why music is so important to me – but we will get back to the advancement of the radio station in another installment of this topic.

My mother was also very musical in my life.  She sang in a few choirs while I was a kid, in fact, myself and some other kids sang along with one of her groups.  We sang “Rainbow Connection,” yes, the one that Kermit the Frog sings in the Muppet Movie.  I think I was like 4.  My mom has always been a huge fan of all types of music.  She would listen to everything from AC/DC to Buddy Holly.  In high school, she would even comment on really enjoying the beats of many of my 90’s rap CD’s (yes, even the hardcore stuff lol).  My dad has very diverse taste in music as well, but I must say that I really feel I got my like of ALL different kinds of music (except most country music – which I owe my dislike of to my grandparents) from my mother.

I did and always have enjoyed ALL kinds of music.  Everything from 50’s “happy” tunes, to the 60’s “creativity” era, to the 70’s psychedelic ensemble, and yes, I was a product of the 80’s and MTV so you know that I was a fan of this fun/odd time for music.  I love hard rock, soft rock, the occasional ballad, and even some Mozart when the occasion presents itself.  But…when it is all said and done, the one that caught my attention the most was rap/hip-hop.  Maybe it was just the time.  I was influenced heavily by the hip-hop scene:  The gangs, the guns, the drugs…..COME ON! I was a scrawny white kid in farmville-USA, Michigan.  I just like the music.  Did I wear baggy jeans…yes, I did.  Course I weighed barely 100 lbs, so my 80’s parachute pants would have been baggy.

I don’t really know what it was about this genre…that hard bass drum, those beats and the poetry that entangled your brain with the perils of the streets intrigued me for years.  I was caught up in what others thought was just crude, vulgar and violent, but I studied this music with an open eye, understand that it was no different that so many other genres.  Think about it: Country for example is about the troubles of life, the cards you are dealt and how bad it can be; the Blues was a form of poetry about how hard life can be and how it gets you down, but you strive to make it through; hmmmm and then there’s rap.  In the 80’s rap was more about the beats and various rhyming schemes that were just fun.  In the 90’s, rap went through its spawning of a separate genre, Gangsta Rap, which was more of a story in poetry, telling of the hard times and the dangerous surroundings a young black man grew up in (interesting?).  Yes, there were always the “artists” that created songs of sex and what not, but again, a lot of them were only emulating what they have been used to their entire lives.

This is just a simple example of how music creates us, both as individuals and even cultures.  Each genre of music brings with it so much more than just some notes on a sheet of paper.  Name a single genre of music that didn’t include a wardrobe change, a particular hair-style, or a certain type of alcohol?  Music was this, it was and still is culture – every single genre is its own culture…YES, even the anarchist and apathetic ways of punk rock, and grunge conformed to create their own style and commercialized culture.

I really think this is just one part of music that consumes me.  To me, music isn’t just sounds, it is so full of emotions.  Music is everything we want to forget, and everything we want to have.  The memories that I have when a certain song plays is a testament to music’s power on the human soul.  Tell me you don’t occasionally have a memory of an exact moment in your life when a certain song plays?  For example: Every time I hear “Cruel Summer” by Bananarama, I see Ralph Macchio riding his bike to school in Karate Kid.  Crazy and silly I know, but that is just one association that music has instilled in my brain.

To me, and this is cliché, but music is our soundtrack.  Just like in a movie: when you’re angry, a hard-rock song may be your weapon of choice; when you’re in love, maybe a nice ballad; when you’re ready to party and go dancing, those pop songs that you hate may become your dance track.  No matter the emotion you are feeling, “there’s a beat for that.” (Yes, I just shamelessly plugged commercialism)

Without the power of music, there would not be a video montage of your favorite team winning the championship.  The action scene in your favorite movie just wouldn’t quite have the same effect if playing in the background was “Tip toe through the tulips” by Tiny Tim.  Tell me that women, and some men, would still cry during that scene in Ghost if the Righteous Brothers were replaced by Weird Al.  When it comes right down to it, some people just truly underestimate the power of music.