Did you hear the Foo Fighters are coming to Memphis on May 3rd? I have — more than a hundred times now. In fact, every time they cut to a commercial during a Grizzlies' game, there's Dave Grohl's ugly mug staring back at me. I'm guessing that I'm going to have to watch that commercial for the remainder of fall and all of winter and spring.
Do you think they gave us enough advance notice? I understand that the Foo Fighters are America's favorite rock band and have been protecting this nation from foo since 1994, but personally, I can't stand them, in general, and Dave Grohl in particular.
All my musician friends tell me what a great service Grohl did with his 2014 mini-series, Sonic Highways, traveling to eight cities with unique musical histories and interviewing luminaries from those locations. He went to Chicago, Nashville, Austin, and New Orleans — but bypassed Memphis, aka "Soulsville," primarily because he has no soul.
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- Dave Grohl
He hammers on that guitar just like he used to pound those drums for Nirvana. At least Kurt Cobain wrote songs incorporating dynamics, using delicate melodies, before plunging into thrash and crash. Grohl copped that much from him, but to me, the songs of the Foo Fighters sound like U2 on crank.
I'm not expecting anyone to agree with me. After all, the band has nine albums and 11 Grammys, but this power-chord, neo-hard rock is not for me. So now, every time I want to watch a basketball game, I have to sit through several commercials while enduring the screaming of Dave Grohl, greasy hair streaked across his contorted face, resembling someone who's masturbating with steel wool. To each his or her own, but May? If they sell the thing out, perhaps the ads will cease, but I'm holding on to that "mute" button until the playoffs.
Speaking of annoyances on television, did you see that World Series? I'm not referring to the games, which were sensational, but the traditional "Seventh Inning Stretch." I used to love watching Harry Caray sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," when he was the beloved announcer for the Chicago Cubs. It was part of the joy of the game. Shortly after 9/11, sporting events in this country began taking on a militaristic air. I don't know why they have to play the National Anthem before a ball game in the first place, but replacing a jolly sing-a-long with "God Bless America" is a bridge too far.
Maybe they sang them both, but all I heard was the announcer saying, "Please stand and remove your caps for the singing of 'God Bless America.'" In the words of Cee Lo Green, "F U." I already stood and removed my cap; why should I have to repeat the exercise to an Irving Berlin song written in 1918 during WWI? We don't stand for "White Christmas" or "Easter Parade" or even "Alexander's Ragtime Band." Why this particular Irving Berlin tune?
Funny you should ask, so I'll tell you. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, an assistant media relations director with the San Diego Padres suggested that the song replace "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," and Major League Baseball instituted it league-wide. It's now supposed to be on a voluntary basis, but consider this: On August 26, 2008, at Yankee Stadium, a fan was detained by the NYPD and ejected from the game for walking to the restroom during the playing of the song, resulting in a lawsuit. Among the provisions was a court order demanding that the Yankees no longer restrict the movement of fans during the song.
That hasn't stopped the National Hockey League from taking up the practice. Now, they even sing "God Bless America" before the Indy 500. Nothing like a patriotic song before burning lots of rubber and gas.
Speaking of anthems, the player protests in the National Football League continue, despite the idiocy of vocal team owners like the Cowboys' Jerry Jones or Houston Texans owner, Bob McNair, who recently said, "We can't have the inmates running the prison."
There's many a slip between the tongue and the lip, and McNair accidentally let slip that the NFL is nothing more than a billionaire's private boys' club, and you're not in it. Ornate stadiums dot the land, playing the role of giant plantations, while the team owner is the straw boss.
In 1969, when St. Louis Cardinals' outfielder Curt Flood was fighting for free agency, he said, "A well-paid slave is still a slave." Currently, there is a lawsuit pending against the NFL by Colin Kaepernick, who began kneeling during the anthem in 2016 to protest police brutality against African Americans. The suit accuses several NFL owners, including Jones, McNair, and Trump pal Robert Kraft, of collusion to prevent Kaepernick from playing in the league. Despite a spate of injuries to quarterbacks and sub-par performances by their replacements, Kaepernick (once considered a premier quarterback) has not played for the past two seasons. The court has ordered seven team owners to be deposed and to turn over all cellphones and email records pertaining to Kaepernick or the players' protest. This might get good.
If I were a black athlete in the NFL, or any player with a conscience, I'd take a knee before the "Star-Spangled Banner," too, because our National Anthem is blatantly racist and needs to be changed. It stirs the hearts of millions who never paid attention to the third verse, which literally celebrates the deaths of slaves. I'll save you the trouble of looking it up: "No refuge could save the hireling and slave/From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave/And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave/O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave."
If you were a descendant of slaves, would you stand up for that? The author, Francis Scott Key, was a lawyer from a Maryland plantation, who, according to Smithsonian.com, "not only profited from slaves, he harbored racist conceptions of ... human potential." Serving as District Attorney for the city of Washington, Key said that Africans in America were "a distinct and inferior race of people, which all experience proves to be the greatest evil that afflicts a community."
Key's song was only established as the National Anthem in 1931. That was just a few years before Irving Berlin wrote "Heaven Watch the Philippines," but we don't remove our caps for that. They don't teach you this stuff in White History. Speaking of white history, perhaps Dave Grohl could pen a new alt-rock national anthem and debut it during his visit to Memphis next May. He's only got six months. I can hardly wait.
Randy Haspel writes the "Recycled Hippies" blog.