Thursday, August 23, 2012

How To Tarnish A Legacy in One Easy Step - The Jon "Bones" Jones Story

I'm writing this under the assumption that you already know about the fate of UFC 151.

By all accounts UFC 151 was a lousy UFC PPV card.  It didn't matter though.  I was going to buy it.  Jon Jones as interesting, dynamic fighter and we might ever see another like him in MMA for a long time.  He is building a sense of invincibility around him that's reaching a Mike Tyson-esque level where on one hand you're paying to watch him dismantle his opponent and on the other, you want to say you were watching if someone pulled off the upset.  But now because of Jon Jones there is not even a UFC 151 to buy.

I didn't watch Jon Jones' UFC debut.  Prelims weren't easily available at the time but his reputation grew pretty quickly.  It was actually after his DQ loss to Matt Hamill that I began thinking that this guy is not going to lose for a long time.  There is no doubt that Jon Jones was going to be champion one day.  Fortunately for him, and apparently, unfortunately for us he was probably given the opportunity to fight for a title ahead of the UFC's plan for him due to injuries in the light heavyweight class.  Before he won the title he seemed like a talented, humble kid with goals.  He even took the title shot on relatively short notice (43 days is by far his quickest turnaround in his UFC career).  Since he won the title he's become a diva.  I have no problem with guys fighting only for the money.  As a fan, I have a problem with a guy SAYING he's fighting only for the money.  You hear him trying to shun a Lyoto Machida rematch because the PPV buys in their first meeting weren't the greatest.  And the icing on the cake today, having a chance to single handedly save a UFC event by fighting a guy he would destroy in Chael Sonnen who was willing to take this fight on 8 days notice.  And knowing what I know about Dana White, I'm sure that if Jones had reservations about taking the fight, White would make it even more than worth his while if it meant not having to withstand the black eye the UFC has today for cancelling a whole event.  Not to mention that you have to think in the unlikely event that Sonnen caught him and won the title, based on Jones' body of work, he'd get an immediate rematch.  It's just sad and ridiculous to me.  It makes me think that despite all the talent in the world that maybe Jones is more insecure in those talents than he leads on.  I don't know.

Jon Jones can be champion for the next 10-15 years but for me, today is how I'll always remember him.  I'll watch a Jon Jones fight on FOX or on an episode of UFC Unleashed and even though I know it doesn't make a difference if one person doesn't buy a UFC PPV, but I don't see myself paying for one of his cards ever again.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Supply and Demand: My Quest for a 2012 Newport Folk Festival Poster

Notable economist and Youngstown State University professor Albert "Juice" Sumell once stated "there is a supply and demand for everything in this world, even people. The supply of you is one. The demand for you could be less than one, if you're a loser." That possible insult was wrapped in a conventional truth, that there isn't anything tangible or intangible, that doesn't have a supply and demand. I think we all understand this idea, but sometimes the supply and demand of something is related to its limited availability, say oil, and other times it can be manufactured, for example baseball cards. My story today revolves around the latter, manufactured supply and demand.

For the 4th time in 5 years, I attended the Newport Folk Festival this summer. We were rookies the first time we attended the festival back in 2008, not fully understanding the fantastic culture that is very unique to the Newport Folk Festival. We enjoyed ourselves so much, that we bought posters to commemorate our experience. The poster that year was nothing special, very college dorm room, but to us it represented an epic memory. Just seeing that poster hanging in my house brings back memories of watching She & Him perform on the Harbor Stage while it poured outside. And that year, not only was a tradition of annually going to festival born (we skipped one year due to pregnancy) but so was born the tradition to start a collection of posters to adorn the walls of my house.The following years, the posters were fantastic, and you could tell that they were evolving more into limited edition art (much like the New Orleans Jazz Festival posters) and less like the one we purchased in 2008. That coupled with the increasing demand of posters, made them hot commodities at each of the last few festivals. And to be honest, I was okay with that. As long as I got one.

This year, I did not. I was so excited for this year's poster, because it was not only tradition at this point but it was by far the coolest one I had ever seen. So, despite corralling 6 people, including my 3 year old son and my 3 year old niece, I was still able to get to the festival at 11:15 on Saturday, only an hour after the gates opened. I walked through the entrance, smiling ear to ear (because its the happiest place on earth) and poster tube in hand only to see an enormous line at the merchandise tent and only to hear my son telling me had to go to the bathroom. And by the time I put my stuff down, headed to the porta-potty's, and made my way back to the line, like Keyser Soze, they were gone.

I'm sure this all sounds like sour grapes, and maybe it is, but I am just having a very hard time (still, almost 3 weeks later!!) dealing with the fact that only 250 people of a record 10,000 were able to get posters for this event. That means, even the first person to get to the festival on Sunday had zero chance of grabbing one. At this point I've tried everything, from contacting the artist/company to reaching the 8+ thousand people that follow newportfolkfest and newportnow on twitter. Hell, I even tried contacting Jim James of My Morning Jacket. Clearly, I am losing my mind. But, the quest is over and I've given up.

My blog partner Keith (who luckily got a poster, the bastard) and I recently exchanged stories about losing wallets and having them turn up years later, with the moral being sometimes what you're looking for eludes you until you aren't looking for it. But after the last week of searching, I think the moral is that it's easier to find a lost wallet than a poster for the Newport Folk Festival.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

My thoughts on the Newport Folk Festival

My last Newport Folk Festival post for awhile.  I promise.

Biggest disappointment: The Weather

On Saturday I was forced to leave my favorite band's (My Morning Jacket) set early to get on a water taxi line.  Selfishly, I'm at peace with it because I didn't miss anything.  I was able to hear their abbreviated set while on the line.  Our big concern was for our 2 month old who my wife had to wear for the 90 minute water taxi line.  My two year old was loving the rain.  The whole time you could see him kicking his feet and smiling in the stroller.  Since neither of our kids woke up with a cold the next day, years from now it will be another "remember how crazy it was when..." story.  On Sunday I wasn't planning on staying for Jackson Browne anyway but my wife was looking forward to seeing Tallest Man on Earth.  In fear of having a similar experience to Saturday's downpour, we bailed on that set a little early as well when it started to rain.  But he sounded amazing.  Side note though, for most of the day when it was overcast it was great not to have to worry about the sun burning my kids.  I'd sign up for overcast any year.  Better than unrelenting 96 degree heat.

Runner up: Being shut out of getting a poster.

Biggest regret: Not getting to the Harbor Stage earlier on both days

I really got in to Apache Relay in the weeks leading up to the festival but unfortunately were only able to get there for the last 5 songs or so.  But my recent fan-dom was warranted.  They were great.  On Sunday we wanted to get there early again but the urgency wasn't there since we figured the ground was wet and as much as I was getting into the Deep Dark Woods album they weren't as high on my list as Apache Relay.  But the feedback I got from their set makes me wish I'd had a little more hop in my step Sunday morning.

Runner up: I was only able to stay for four First Aid Kit songs.  The Lion's Roar has been in rotation for a few months but something about it just clicked with me recently where even post-Festival it's still in heavy rotation.

Best decision I made: Leaving Deer Tick early to see Alabama Shakes

I love Deer Tick.  I was lucky enough to have a ticket for Friday night's show at the Newport Blues Cafe.  But the first half of their set at the Festival were the same songs I heard the night before.  I'd go see the same Deer Tick show every day of the week and twice on Sunday but it made the call easier to go see Alabama Shakes who just killed it.

Runner Up: Setting up shop by the Quad Stage instead of the Fort Stage. Other than The Head and the Heart, the bands I wanted to mostly see were on the Harbor and Quad stage which is easy to bounce back and forth between.

Top 3 Favorite Sets (no particular order):

Alabama Shakes: Their reputation as a live act is justified.  Just a fun, high energy hour.

Dawes: To be honest, I got in to Dawes through Middle Brother last year and if I'm rating the three bands who contributed to that album, I'm putting Dawes third.  But I can't stress enough how good they were in Newport.  When My Time Comes is about as good a live song as you can have.

New Multitudes: I liked the album going in to the festival but seeing them do it live gives me a whole new respect for it.

Honorable Mention: My Morning Jacket was on their way to an epic set.  I just can't put it in my top 3 because of how it ended.  Me leaving a MMJ set seemed unfathomable to me at the time so I wasn't in a good mindset at the end of it.