Monday, March 23, 2009

Ten: A Retrospective, Part 2

If you missed Part 1 of the Ten retrospective you can find it here:

I realized that I probably should have included Jeremy with part 1 and started part 2 with Oceans because based on talking to people that are more "casual" fans or even non-fans, the 1st 6 tracks are the more popular, accessible songs that get mainstream play, whereas the last five are lesser known and seem to be adored mostly be more "serious" fans of the band. Alas. I suppose that I can edit them to put Jeremy in Part 1, but then this paragraph won't make any sense, so I won't do that.

Anyway, on to Part 2...

Jeremy: Anyone who is even a casual fan of the band probably knows the story behind Jeremy, the 15 year old boy who shot himself in front of a classroom, as depicted in the legendary, award-winning music video. The more personal part of the song is the second verse, where Eddie connects Jeremy's story to that of a kid he went to school with that he had had some altercations with and who ended up shooting up a classroom of students. However, while the song is titled after Jeremy, I think it is more about the other kids in the classroom and, by extension, us than about him. It is easy to psychoanalyze Jeremy: he was no longer able to cope with being teased and picked on at school and whatever emotional abuse he suffered at home, and rather than tackle those issues head on and really get to the root of them, he took the easy way out and killed himself. The larger point is that the kids (and us) did (and do) the same thing: when something tragic happens we "try to forget this, try to erase this." We take a few moments to think about what happened, but then ultimately we move on, because life goes on. I'm not sure this is necessarily a bad thing, it's just a symptom of reality and human nature that we can easily see in Jeremy but we don't always see in ourselves. (Special bonus: you can watch the original, lesser known music video of Jeremy here.)

Oceans: A truly beautiful song using water as an extended metaphor to symbolize his love as well as the practical obstacle to being with the person he loves. Given Eddie's love for surfing, this water/ocean metaphor is hardly surprising. I don't think this is about a past love or lost love as much as current love interest from whom he is currently apart. Contrasted to Black or Porch the speaker here is much more optimistic and forward looking and awaits being reunited with the one he loves.

Porch: I think this is about someone left behind by a person they cared about, not because of any one's choice but rather because of circumstances beyond their control. Death comes to mind as a possibility because the notion that he wishes he could have "learned your voice one last time" implies that this happening in the future is no longer a possibility as he knows that he will not not hold or feel the person, "never again." Instead, he is left behind to deal with the monotony and mundane existence that is everyday life: paying bills, taking care of shit. Sometimes the malaise that follows the deep depression, where you just go through the motions of life instead of actually living and experiencing it, can be worse than the depression itself. Ultimately though, to break out of it, one has to realize that you can't stay stuck in neutral, stuck in the middle, because eventually "there ain't gonna be any middle any more." Instead, the goal is to wake up every day with the attitude that "this could be the day." And if it's not, maybe tomorrow will be.

Garden: The opening verse of this song is one of the most perfectly ever written: "The direction of the eye, so misleading/ The defection of the soul, nauseously quick/ I don't question, our existence/ I just question, our modern needs." The contrast between the eyes and the soul - between the things in life that we think we want and the things that are actually good for us - is striking. A commentary on modern society and our modern "needs" that reminds me of David Foster Wallace's comment that those who worship tangible things will eventually come to be enslaved by those things. (It should be noted that the short musical piece that plays at the beginning and end of the album is called "Master/Slave." Interesting? Maybe.) They will subject themselves to things that will never be able to satisfy them as they spend their entire lives walking "with my hands bound...into your garden of stone," and spend the rest of eternity 6 feet under, finally realizing that they weren't able to bring any of those things along with them.

Deep: A truly dismal portrait of a man so consumed with depression and a lack of self-worth that he is on the edge, contemplating suicide. He ponders his existence and his own will but believes that to the "street below" and the "sky above," to the people around him, "he just ain't nothin." Rather than looking harder inside himself he looks outside to other people and projects his problems on to them, blaming society for the way he is. Rather than trying to break free from these issues, he sinks himself deeper into them, transforming into a murderer and rapist, viewing his victims in the same way he believes others see him.

Release: To Ed, this song may have been about his tumultuous relationship with his stepfather or his non-existent relationship with his real father, but for me, this song is more so about the relationship many of us have with our Father, with a capital F - this song is about religion. I would be hard pressed to come up with better imagery to describe god sitting upon his heavenly throne than a "rocking horse of time." Anyone who has ever seriously contemplated god's existence and tried to reconcile faith with their own sense of logic and intuition can relate to the sleepless nights of deep thought, as one lies there waiting for someone, anyone to "speak to me." This struggle can be likened to chains of bondage that are so debilitating that they leave the subject trapped, crying out and begging, "release me!" (The 7 minute clip of the live performance at night 2 at the Garden this year was probably the most spiritual experience of my life.)

Ten: A Retrospective, Part 1

I was 8 years old when Pearl Jam released their debut, breakthrough album Ten in 1991 and it was probably not until the end of high school or even college that I became familiar with any of its tracks. But today, on the eve of Pearl Jam's re-release of Ten, the first reissue in a planned re-release of Pearl Jam's entire catalogue that will lead up to the band's 20th anniversary in 2011, I can say without any doubt that Ten is for me, the best and most important album of all-time. Now to be clear, this is as a matter of personal taste and personal significance, as when considering historical context and musical influence, there are probably a number of albums that most would say supersede it (Dark Side of the Moon, Zeppelin I & IV, and several Beatles albums immediately come to my mind.) But in terms of the album that has most influenced and appealed to my musical taste, spoken to me on a personal level, and whose tracks I simply just flat out enjoy the most, Ten is definitely at the top of the chart. This re-release would be exciting enough on its own, but it is further enhanced by the fact that the album's tracks are being made available for download on Rock Band, so as soon as we get our XBox's wireless working and fix the cord on our drums, we will be rocking out to Ten for hours on end. This is a band whose catalog of quality songs is so deep and whose live performances are so energetic and have blown my mind every single time I have seen them, that I am eager to borrow the words of Ben Harper, who called them "the greatest band in the world." To commemorate this momentous event, I have compiled my thoughts on the entire album and included sample videos of live versions of each song. This analysis will be a combination of merely relating the actual, sometimes personal stories that inspired the songs as well some of my own personal comments on what the songs mean to me.

Once: The 2nd installment (between "Alive" and "Footsteps") of the "Mamasan trilogy," a 3-song mini-opera composed from the original Stone Gossard demo tape that fell into the hands of a young Eddie Vedder, who recorded vocals over it, returned the tape, and the rest, as they say, is history. It tells the story of a man so traumatized by the emotional baggage he endured as an adolescent (which we learn about in "Alive") that he turns into a serial killer. Most striking to me is the lyric "once upon a time, I could control myself," which most acutely relates what to me is the most frustrating part of any downtrodden emotional state, be it depression, loneliness, alienation, or whatever one is afflicted with: namely, the ability to remember times where you were able to control your thoughts and feelings and confront whatever the problem is contrasted with your current inability to do so.

Even Flow: A song that is demonstrably about homelessness and those who are cursed to suffer through the cruelties of that life. The song speaks of what is clearly a mentally ill homeless man unable to deal not only with the day to day challenges of life but even to cope with the thoughts that enter his head, instead choosing to "chase them away." I think this is a song that even those of us who are not homeless can relate to (and I assume that anyone reading this falls into that category), particularly through that lyric and the notion of chasing away bad thoughts rather than trying to battle them, but also from the perspective of living in New York City and seeing people who have to endure this terrible life on a daily basis. I think the lyric "faces that he sees time again ain't that familiar" captures the relationship between residents of a neighborhood and the homeless people that wander its streets, as we come to recognize the same homeless characters, each on their corner with their own defining characteristic, yet never come to actually know them, a dynamic that is probably much more disheartening from their perspective than from ours. Notably, it features almost as good a guitar solo as you will find, courtesy of Mike McCready.

Alive: Eddie's personal, autobiographical account of learning from his mother as a teenager that the man who he thought was his father was, in fact, his stepfather and that his "real daddy" had died years earlier. The song continues with a fictional sidesplot of an incestual relationship between the mother and the child, who has grown up to resemble his deceased father. The song's climactic chrous line "I'm still alive" expresses the feeling that having endured all this emotional trauma the worst part was the fact that he was still alive and had to deal with the baggage. "I'm still alive," was a curse. However, as Eddie explained when telling the backstory to the song during Pearl Jam's performance on VH1 Storytellers, the fans reinterpreted the song, energetically belting out the chorus "I'm still alive!" in a celebratory unison voice that, for Eddie, changed the meaning of the song and "lifted the curse."

Why Go: This song was specifcally inspired by a story Eddie read about a girl from Chicago who was institutionalized by her mother after her mother caught her smoking pot, but I'm sure it resonates with anyone who has ever felt alienated from their parents because they felt like their parents were prone to overreaction and just didn't "get it." In live performances the song's culminating lyric "Why go home?" often becomes a crowd sing-along part, as it reflects a sentiment that has surely been expressed by anyone who has experienced the frustrations and alienation from their parents that the song speaks of. To me the most striking element of the song and that lyric, specifically, is that even when targetting it as a place to be avoided, it's still "home."
Black: I could probably write 2,000 words about this song if I had the space and time to do so, as out of all the songs I have ever heard in my life, it is the one that most closely resembles a piece of poetry, in addition to being my favorite song on my favorite album by my favorite band.
Thus, limiting my thoughts on it to an appropriate length will prove quite challenging. This song is about unrequited love, a man so desperately in love with a woman, who for whatever reason can't or won't be with him. The song is highlighted by two extended metaphors: art and the cosmos. What starts out as a pristine relationship with unlimited potential ("sheets of empty canvas, untouched sheets of clay"), a relationship so pure that the cosmos themselves ("all five horizons revolved around her soul, as the earth to the sun") have preordained it in the eyes of the speaker, has been "washed in black" to the point that even the air he breathes "has taken a turn" and even the innocent sound of children laughing makes him sear. The feeling of rejection and lost love has overshadowed everything good about the relationship and about life more globally, as "the love gone bad" has turned his entire world and existence to "black, tattooed all I see, all that I am, all I'll be," leaving him to disconsolately wonder, "of what was everything?" Was everythinng I "taught her" and gave her, everything we experienced together, all for naught? The song ends with a concession to reality but one last plea of false hope as in the most touching lyric I have ever heard, Eddie sings, "I know someday you'll have a beautiful life, I know you'll be a star in somebody else's sky, but why can't it be mine," final words that when tagged in live versions together with the words "we belong together" over the final guitar chords prove to be truly heartbreaking.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Interfaith Sexual Dialogue?

I was intrigued as I read about Cardinal Egan's comments on the issue of celibacy for priests and his suggestion that perhaps the issue deserves revisiting. Sexuality, both homo and hetero, is a topic that is often discussed in the context of Judaism in terms of being an issue that needs to be re-evaluated in light of modern sensibilities and it is interesting for me to see that similar discussions are taking place in the Catholic Church as well. I only wish that our leaders would be as proactive in confronting these issues as theirs are, instead of mostly sweeping them under the rug and/or clinging to old-fashioned lines of thinking. Then again, the Pope did recently cite condoms as one of the principal culprits in the pervasive spread of AIDS, so maybe they're just as bad.

The Times Heeds My Letter

On Thursday, I wrote the following letter to the NY Times, reiterating some of the same points I have made here the last few days:

To The Editor:
I have found your coverage of the outrage over the AIG bonuses ("AIG and Wall St. Confront Upsurge of Populist Fury") almost as upsetting as the outrage itself. Why is the media, the government, and the American public spending this much time obssessing over $165 million out of a $170 billion AIG bailout package (not to mention the billions of dollars being doled out to other financial institutions)? In more relatable terms, this would be like if you were very generous and did your friend a favor and lent him $1,000 to keep him afloat for a little while and then spent a week obsessing over a specific $1 - what he did with it, who he gave it to, and whether the person he gave it to deserved it. All these investigations about when Geithner and then Obama found out are a tremendous waste of time and do us all a disservice. We could all scream until we're blue in the face about whether these guys deserved such high payout or anything at all, but doing so would be severely missing the forest for the trees. So how about we all (Treaury, Congress, and the White House, included) stop worrying about this AIG bonus "crisis" and focus all our attention on the actual financial crisis, where it belongs.

While they did not print my letter, they printed 5 or 6 others that expressed a similar sentiment, and more importantly, have run pieces the last two days that have echoed this much more sensible approach to the issue. Yesterday's Business section had a piece by Joe Nocera, who articulated a host of reasons why the response the last week has been an absurd overreaction and one that has totally missed the forest for the trees. Then the front page story today's Week in Review section discussed how the fury over the AIG bonuses is yet another example of American's misplaced focus on symbolic issues in politics rather than substantive ones.

Here's hoping that the Times continues to along this altered approach to this issue and acts as a voice of reason that can trickle down to the rest of the reading public.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Bonus Tax

Really? Another post about the AIG bonuses? Don't worry, I'm just as sick of this story as you are. The fact that the media and Congress won't let this story about $165 million out of over $100 billion in bailout payments to AIG alone (not to mention billions more thrown to the other financial institutions) just die already, is a total joke. The media is doing it because they're the media and this is what they do. Congress, however? They're just trying to cover their own asses and try to hope people forget that they're the ones that approved all of this money without first putting some restrictions on it. This faux outrage after the public's reaction to it is absurd.

Everyone is wondering how Geithner overlooked this, and I'll tell you why: he was focusing on the $100 billion, the big picture, instead of the relatively small peanuts of the $165 million in bonus payments. In more relatable figures, focusing on $165M out of a $100B bailout, is like if you were very generous and did your friend a favor and lent him $1,000 to keep him afloat for a little while and then spent a week obsessing over a specific $1.65 - what he did with it, who he gave it to, and whether the person he gave it to deserved it.

So now the House, in order to quell populist outrage, has passed an over-broad, far overreaching bill that will retroactively tax these bonuses at a 90% rate, effectively totally erasing them. I entertained the notion of using the tax system to solve this a couple days ago, but I never had something this extreme in mind. This bill potentially raises constitutional issues, as the tax may be considered a "bill of attainder", which can be briefly described as "legislative punishment," and is unconstitutional under Article I. Laurence Tribe seems to think the tax is legal. Others disagree.

Early signs show that the both the Senate and President Obama are supportive of this bill, or at least slight variations of it. Once it passes the Senate, I hope that, rather than signing the bill and creating a tumult at AIG and Wall Street that could have drastic ramifications, that Obama uses the bill as leverage against these employees to renegotiate the bonuses, in a manner similar to what Noam Scheiber suggested a few days ago. These employees need their money and we need them to stay at AIG and help us fix this mess. Give them a certain percentage (about 1/3) up front, put another 1/3 in escrow for the employees to potentially receive if they stay at AIG, help fix things, and do a good job, and let the government recoup the final 1/3. There, I just solved the AIG bonus crisis. Now, can we please get back to the actual crisis?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Follow-up on Bonuses

A couple follow-up points on yesterday's post on bonuses:

1. I think a lot of the controversy on this story stems from the labeling of these payouts as "bonuses" when, in fact, they more closely represent deferred salary. These are not bonuses being paid out on top of salaries already received, which is the traditional understanding of a bonus. Rather, this is the salary for these employees, many of whom negotiated contracts with their employer whereby they would agree to a salary of $1 in exchange for these bonuses. These contracts were negotiated before the onset of the financial crisis.

2. If the government wanted to prevent these bonuses from being paid, there was a way for them to do that: put the company into bankruptcy. However, for whatever their reasons were, the government decided that this wasn't the way they wanted to go. For the government to complain about it now is unfair. This is their fault much more than AIG's. The government could have either forced AIG into bankruptcy or put restrictions on the money it gave AIG through the bailout, but it didn't. Once it continues to exist as a company, AIG has to continue to run as a company, and a major part of that is honoring employments contracts with your employees. Should they not pay their lease anymore if the rent is astronomical? What about the electric bill?

That being said, there are problems with these bonuses, primarily the dollar figures that are being thrown around. These employees are entitled to get paid, but let's not overdo it. Whether we use the tax system to limit the bonus size or hope that some of these guys adhere to the pleas of Tom Friedman in today's Times, echoed by AIG's CEO Edward Liddy in his testimony today and return some of the money, some of this money should be gotten back. The other issue that is pretty puzzling is calling these "retention bonuses" but awarding some of them to employees that have already left the company. Not sure if anyone has given a good answer to that yet.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Case For Bonuses?

The other side of the story, from Andrew Sorkin in today's Times Business section. Pretty much everyone seems to be outraged at the AIG bonuses that were announced recently and intuitively that outrage is well placed: why should taxpayers be funding huge bonuses for companies that got bailout money. Sorkin suggests that abrogating these bonus contracts might do more damage to the fundamentals of the economy than we can imagine because it will lead to a fear that the government can step in and cancel any existing contracts. Further, he argues that there could be a strong incentive to keep current AIG staff in place because they are the ones that got us into this mess and are therefore best equipped to find a way out. Plus, if they were to depart AIG they would be in the best position to figure out a way to make money off AIG's failure and the notion of a bunch of smart, talented finance-types out there who have an insider understanding of AIG's underpinnings and a financial desire to see it fail is a frightening prospect. Finally, he questions the notion that the current recession and poor job market means that these people have nowhere to go and therefore there is no need to give them extra financial incentive to stay. He correctly observes that in all times, good or bad, there is always a demand for talent and the most talented among them will be picked up elsewhere even now if they are let go.

That being said, there needs to be some sort of reasonable limit on what types and the amount of bonuses that can be given, a condition that was wrongly ommitted from the bailout rules. Since it appears like it might be too late to legally get money back now, Ambinder's idea from yesterday that was co-opted by Christopher Dodd today, to heavily tax bonuses that are taken from TARP dollars might be an efficient way to regulate the size of these bonuses after the fact. My intuition tells me that it will be extremely difficult to get this money back and that taxes might be the only way to make this work.

Landmark Status v. Heller

There is an interesting article in today's Times about how so far the Supreme Court's "landmark" decision this past summer in District of Columbia v. Heller, which struck down D.C.'s ban on handguns, has proven to be practically irrelevant so far. Since that decision came down, the federal courts have heard more than 80 cases interpreting Heller, and according to Adam Winkler, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who keeps a running tally of decisions based on the case, “to date, the federal courts have not invalidated a single gun control law on the basis of the Second Amendment since Heller.” The open question on this issue that remains to be resolved is whether the decision applies to the states. In the past the Supreme Court has ruled that most of the Bill of Rights are incorporated to the states by the 14th Amendment, but it is not clear yet whether the 2nd Amendment will fall into this category. For now, it seems that what was considered to be a groundbreaking SCOTUS decision will only carry importance to constitutional scholars, who are left free to wonder: if Joe Biden was carrying a handgun in violation of D.C.'s now-defunct weapons ban during 12:01 and 12:03 on Inauguration Day, would this qualify as an impeachable offense under Article II and mean that, in fact, Nancy Pelosi (or Condoleeza Rice, depending on how far you want to take this ) "was president" for those 2 minutes.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Oath of Office

This afternoon I was officially sworn in and admitted as a member of the Bar of the State of New York. While the admission ceremony was a mere formality, it marked the end of a long, tedious, and, at times, quite challenging journey to becoming a fully licensed member of the legal community and the start of what will hopefully be a long, fulfilling, and productive legal career. The end of one journey; the start of another. "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end," right? And in case you are wondering, no, I didn't flub the oath. It's totally official.

Stem Celling The Tide

I realize that sometimes I become so steadfast in my views that I have trouble recognizing that there is merit to the other side's point of view, and this is something I continue to work on. However, there is one issue where I consciously do not work on seeing and giving credence to the other side's perspective because the other side has no merit: stem cell research. Stem cell research has been somewhat of a hot button issue this decade and it is probably the only issue I have followed where I have not heard the other side (in this case, and in most cases, the conservatives) make a single legitimate argument that I found even remotely convincing. The heart of their argument on this issue lies in protecting the sanctity of life. It is beyond me how anyone could prefer protecting the "life" of discarded embryos that if not used in research, would otherwise BE THROWN OUT ANYWAYS, over potentially using them to save the lives of real, living, breathing human beings that are afflicted with terrible diseases. In the words of a renowned educator at one of the fabulous institutions of higher learning I briefly attended, "it doesn't make logic."

Remarkably, though, it was this central argument that prompted the Bush administration to block any funding for researching stem cells over the last 8 years. Now that President Obama has lifted the federal ban on stem cell research, conservatives are trying to push to limit the research solely to those stem cells that would otherwise be discarded (as discussed above in caps), rather than permitting the creation of new stem cells specifically for research purposes. As the Times editorial page points out today, this would be a terrible mistake. We have already lost 8 years in this fight, and this is not something to concede on. Sure, many scientists are skeptical about the practical potential that this research actually has, and maybe they're right. Maybe nothing will come of this and this research will not lead to any advances in the treatment of Parkinson's and other diseases. But maybe it will. Are we really not willing to risk some embryos to find out? More than that, by its very nature, scientific research is a pursuit whose goals and results aren't always contiguous. Maybe stem cells will prove useless for the objectives we intend to use them for, but by studying them we will learn something about human physiology that we can't anticipate right now. There's only one way to find out. Mr. President, I am all for bipartisanship and compromise when it is appropriate. So go ahead and feel free to compromise on the stimulus, on health care, on whatever other issues where you think it makes sense. But please, do not compromise here. It's too important.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ron Silver: 1946-2009

After a 2 year long battle, Ron Silver succumbed tonight to esophageal cancer. He was not exactly the defining actor of his generation by any stretch, but that shouldn't sell short the way he impacted my life greatly through two primary roles. First, was his portrayal of Alan Dershowitz, one of my early intellectual idols, in Reversal of Fortune. More notably, it was his role as the immortal Bruno Gianelli, the manager of the re-election campaign for Jed Bartlett on The West Wing, for which i will remember him. His arrogance was only matched by his brilliance and his ability to put winning above all else. After securing a 2nd term for Bartlett, Bruno returns in season 6 to head up the campaign of Republican candidate Arnie Vinick, mirroring the notoriously liberal Silver's own defection to George W. Bush's side in 2004. His death marks the 2nd notable West Wing character (we wish you were still among us, John Spencer) to pass in the last few years. In real life, he was a very politically active man who used his celebrity status to make his voice heard and was a staunch and noble advocate of Israel. Ron, you left us too soon, and you will be sorely missed.

"We were but stones; your light made us stars."--Eddie Vedder

(So much for not writing about The West Wing here.)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Six OT's? Are You Serious???

Over the course of my life, there have been been many situations that have prompted me to ask the question: "When do people who don't follow sports get to feel like this?" Last night was one of those nights. The 6OT Syracuse-Connecticut thriller last night in the Big East Tournament was one of those games that reminds you why sports is different than any other form of entertainment in the world.

I am fairly certain that if I had asked all my male friends yesterday afternoon, "what are you doing tonight," that not a single one of them would have mentioned the Syracuse-UConn game anywhere in their plans. However, as the clock struck midnight and then eventually 1am, basically every guy I know was doing the same thing: watching that basketball game. I was being barraged by IMs and texts excitedly wondering "are you watching this???" and watching people's online statuses change with each turning point play and each additional OT session. None of us particularly cared about the outcome of the game but we were all enthralled and we were all sure as hell gonna stick with it till the very end. As a result, I would bet the aggregate male workforce was close to an hour late to work this morning.

So I continue to wonder: is there anything in life that provides the same sort of spontaneity, drama, and constant unpredictability the way a live sporting event can? And how do those people who don't follow sports fill in the gaps and find things to make them feel the way we all felt last night? Maybe they just have no idea what they're missing.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wanna Make Something Awesome? Just Google It

This item in the Business section of today's Times absolutely blew my mind. Google is, without a doubt, the most innovative, brilliant company of our era, and the most amazing thing about it is that they don't come up with any original ideas, as far as I can tell. Obviously, they didn't invent email or online maps, or word processing. But they took all those already invented devices and made them better. They made them more creative, more efficient, and available to more people. And that's exactly what they're doing with this latest device, which already has me excited about the prospect of never having to answer my cell phone again, instead reading all messages as emails.

I once joked to my dad that the reason why so many people missed out on the opportunity to make huge money on the Google IPO is because of a tragic misallocation of resources. Anyone from my generation, who was using products before they went mainstream, knew that the potential for this company was limitless. However, the money was in the hands of the older generation who didn't know anything about this Google. The lesson: if we would have talked to our parents more, our families would all be a lot richer right now.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sloppy Second Chances

I attended the Rangers game yesterday at the Garden against the Boston Bruins, a game that was highlighted by Sean Avery's return to Broadway. (As an aside, it's weird that the Garden is often referred to as "Broadway" in this context, given that it is actually located on 7th Avenue. I suppose "Broadway" is being used to refer to New York as a whole. I think this a synecdoche. Is that what that movie was about?) To review, Avery was acquired by the Rangers in the middle of the 2006-07 season and enjoyed a year and a half stay here, becoming a fan favorite because of his fiery personality and style of play. More importantly, the Rangers had a 51-23-16 record with him in the lineup, as opposed to an 8-10-3 record when he wasn't. Nonetheless, when he became a free agent this past summer, the Rangers were unable to match the contract offer that the Dallas Stars extended to him and let him walk away. Then, this happened. Personally, I think the way both the NHL and the Dallas organization reacted was a joke and a tremendous overreaction to what really wasn't that big of a deal. Still, the end result was Avery being released by Dallas and after a short while, finding his way back in blue.

I hope that if he didn't already realize it earlier, that after yesterday, Avery realizes that his decision to ever leave New York was a terrible mistake and one that he will never make again. Because what I witnessed and engaged in yesterday was an absolute love affair between Rangers' fans and this guy. Chants of "A-ve-ry" filled the arena the first time he stepped on the ice and every time he made a play from then on. As a player that is maligned for his personality and his tactics basically everywhere else in the league, yet admired for it here, it's hard to imagine that he could play anywhere else at this point.

Practically speaking, he gives them depth at the forward position and a much needed edge and that has been sorely lacking all season. The corollary to that is that in addition to the penalties he actually commits (and they aren't as infrequent as we would like), because of his reputation, refs will often whistle him for penalties that they would normally let go (see, the interference penalty he was called for in the waning minutes of yesterday's game) and overlook arguably cheap shots that players take against him. It's all part of the equation with this guy. Here's hoping that with Avery back on board (in addition to recently acquired Nik Antropov and Derrick Morris) Rangers fans will get to enjoy more days like yesterday going forward.


This blog is the product of several colliding phenomenon, most notably a failing economy and my desire to record as many of my thoughts as possible for posterity. Substantively, it will cover a range of topics that span all of my interests: sports, politics, music, television, movies, religion, and pretty much anything else that intrigues me. The one thing that will not be discussed here is "The West Wing," a subject that is already being attended to in other places. Well, to be fair, lots of things will probably never be discussed on this blog. Russian ballet, for example. Most things will be in bounds though. The frequency of my postings will probably not follow any sort of discernible pattern, but I will try to write as often as possible or until I lose interest. Of course, comments and feedback are always encouraged and appreciated. Hope you enjoy...