From: Snoopy the Celtics Beagle
Memo to ESPN;
Lighten up, guys; and pay attention, the past is "in" again. I remember
someone's rather cutting commentary on the educational ignorance of today's
crop of schoolkids, saying "to them, history is what they had for
breakfast". why not let Walton wax euphoric about the Deadheads?
OK, a little moderation wouldn't hurt, but witness what's come back to
public vogue in music alone: Peter Paul & Mary just
released--simultaneously--a DVD retrospective, a CD boxed set and a new
album; Harry Chapin's daughter Jen just released her second album to
positive reviews (and there's been a revival of Harry's music with the
greater release of his old albums on CD); the only major complaint of the
recent Simon & Garfunkel tour was that it wasn't a world tour--and Paul's
new album will soon be released to join Art's recent release; Pete Seeger
just put out a new album last year at an age where most people are quite
content to enjoy retirement with legendary status.
Then consider movies--the DVD market is surprisingly popular not for the
release of brand new movies, but for the release of the great classics of
years past ranging from Gone With the Wind to Raiders of the Lost
Ark. Likewise there's been a virtual explosion of beloved television shows
making their way onto DVD, and the sales show that people are quite willing
to pay hefty prices to indulge their nostalgia. If you don't believe me,
check out the recommended price for the first seventeen-episode season of
"Star Trek: Voyager".
Books have always held a link to their pasts. Robert B. Parker started
writing the Spenser mystery novels back in theearly 1970's and is still
going strong. Ask any science fiction about Issac Asimov, and they'll be
able to at least mention a few of his great works, even if they weren't
personal fans of "hard SF". Not to mention Sherlock Holmes, which has been
around since the turn of the LAST century.
Oh yes, and sports history--let's all ask ourselves how often we insist on
comparing modern player "A" to historical player "B". How many more times
will we hear someone proclaimed the next Larry Bird, Bill Russell,
etc.? Listen here, as inevitably, when a new coach for the C's is
mentioned, how often we turn to former Celtics players. So far as I can
tell, on those occasions when baseball conversation isn't focused on
steroids, gambling, or corks, they all talk about statistics and records
dating back over 100 years.
I'll take a knowledgeable person over an idiot any day. So Walton lives in
the past a bit. Big Fat Hairy Deal. At least he's able to string a
sentence together, even if the references do stretch back a few
decades--something a number of other on screen commentators--are you
listening, Mike Tirico?--seem unable to do. Speaking for myself, I'm tired
of these self-styled "experts" whose only obvious area of expertise is
being willing and able to insult the Celtics. I am sick of hearing people
treat their anchor desk like the throne of St. Peter, and God and ESPN
forbid we dare disagree with any of them.
Is Walton hyperbolic, reference-laden and occasionally not on the same
planet as the rest of us?
Well, yes. Did it ever occur to you that some of us fans are tired of the
"hip-hop" method of sports reporting, and the "analysis" that makes the
phrase "going out on a limb" verboten? Look over here, schmucks. some of
us are over the age of eighteen, have brains bigger than a walnut and an
attention span greater than the people who think MTV was the pinnacle of
musical entertainment. We are, by and large, the people who can actually
afford to pay the whopping prices charged to carry the NBA League Pass,
never mind the cost of actually attending a game now and again.
And to some of us, "Wasn't That a Time" had meaning.
To Bill Walton--we're cool, just ease up a bit. No one can zone 24/7 and
sometimes the slowpokes need to catch up, so Lay Back and Be Cool.
At 03:20 PM 3/14/2004, lapdoggy wrote:
>Some of you might have seen this before. This was just sent to me from
>a friend I fondly know of as Grateful Chef. Having been to a few Dead
>shows back in the 80's, I cracked up when I read this.
>ESPN Getting Tired of Walton Grateful Dead References
>Bristol, CT -- In a confidential memo leaked to the press Tuesday
>morning, executives at ESPN expressed growing concern about incessant
>references to legendary counterculture rock band, the Grateful Dead,
>made by NBA analyst and lifelong "Deadhead," Bill Walton.
>"If we could all make an effort to help Bill reduce the number of
>references to Grateful Dead lyrics, concerts he's attended, and past
>and present band members throughout an average broadcast," the memo
>said, "it would go a long way toward bringing more viewers to Fridays
>[ESPN's Friday Night NBA coverage]."
>"Seriously, I'm not kidding here," the memo continued, "it's got to
>stop. Before we all gouge our own eyes out with sporks."
>While the memo is believed to have been sent by ESPN executive vice
>president of programming/production, Mark Shapiro,
>anti-Walton-Dead-reference sentiment has been growing company-wide
>since ESPN began covering NBA games this season.
>"If he tells me one more time how he did mescaline with Mama Cass and
>David Crosby backstage at the Greek Theater, Berkeley, '71, I'm gong to
>smack him," said Walton's broadcast partner, Mike Tirico. "And that's
>exactly how he always says it, too: 'Greek
>TheaterBerkeley.seventy-one,' and then he starts grinning and grooving
>to some Dead music in his head, going, 'Yeaaaah, man.yeaaaah' like a
>"The guy's, what, fifty-one?" Tirico added. "Hey Bill, the 'Summer of
>Love' ended thirty-three years ago. Time to move on, pal."
>Shapiro's memo also indicated that Walton's references to songs,
>concerts, people and events from more than three decades ago is not
>helping ESPN's NBA Friday night ratings.
>"We're targeting a younger demographic," Shapiro's memo said, "so if
>you could all please remind Bill that today's 18- to 24-year-old viewer
>simply does not care that it's the 13th anniversary of [Grateful Dead
>keyboardist] Brent Mydland's death. They don't care who Ron 'Pigen'
>McKernan was, and don't understand why Bill is comparing Pigpen's
>leadership abilities in the Dead's formative Haight-Ashbury years to
>Jason Kidd's ability to run the Nets offense."
>"No wonder we're losing Friday viewers to 'John Doe.' Why? Because
>'John Doe' doesn't have some sad, aging, hippie freakster spewing
>Robert Hunter lyrics every three seconds."
>While ESPN management had been initially lenient with the random
>Grateful Dead trivia, facts, and anecdotes that Walton began injecting
>into broadcasts for no apparent reason, insiders believe that it was
>the recent Bulls-Wizards matchup-which featured Michael Jordan's last
>appearance in Chicago-that was the last straw for Shapiro.
>Toward the end of the game, Walton managed to shoehorn approximately
>168 Grateful Dead mentions into a seemingly endless monologue.
>"While these great Chicago fans hope to see Michael 'One More Saturday
>Night' perhaps in the playoffs, he's beginning to show a 'Touch of
>Grey' in his hair, and while I've always believed that Michael must be
>a 'Friend of the Devil' to have had such a wonderful career, and he
>still plays with the aggression of a 'Wharf Rat,' his 'Unbroken Chain'
>of success must come to an end. But his legacy will 'Not Fade Away'
>even as he disappears down the 'Golden Road.' For us fans, there's
>'nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile.'"
>Tape of the broadcast then shows a visibly confused Tirico about to
>open his mouth to speak, but being immediately cut off by the former
>UCLA, Portland Trailblazers and Boston Celtics star.
>"This is horrrrrible, Mike, just horrrrible," Walton nearly screamed.
>"I fear the NBA will go to 'Hell in a Bucket' without Michael, and the
>'Eyes of the World' will be upon the next generation of NBA superstars,
>and David Stern is clearly saying 'I Need a Miracle' to the Kobes, the
>Garnetts, the McGradys, even the Lebron Jameses of the world, hoping
>that MJ's retirement doesn't lead to a serious case of the 'U.S. Blues'
>for NBA fans."
>Walton then made a tangental reference to Michael's wife "Althea," and
>three children-"Bertha," "Casey Jones," and "Tennessee Jed"-all of
>whom, he claimed, were in the United Center that evening. When Tirico
>informed Walton that Jordan's wife is, in fact, named Juanita and his
>children are Jeffrey, Marcus and Jasmine, Walton paused.
>"Hey now, Mike," Walton said, "hey now, Aiko Aiko all day, jockomo
>feeno na na nay, jockomo feena nay. Hey now--"
>It was then that ESPN producers abruptly cut to an emergency broadcast
>system test pattern, then back to ESPN studio analysts, David Aldridge
>and Dr. Jack Ramsey.
>"Well, I." Aldridge said, awkwardly shuffling papers and clearing his
>"Did Bill just say that Michael Jordan's son is named 'TennesseeJed,'"
>While Shapiro is clearly concerned about the effect Walton's Grateful
>Dead over-referencing will have on the success of ESPN's Friday night
>NBA coverage, he admitted in a later interview that it could be worse.
>"At least he's not mixing in John Wooden stuff, too. I mean, can you
>imagine if he combined all that Jerry Garcia bullshit with his
>incessant Wooden motivational quotes? Christ Almighty."
>Shapiro then shuddered.
Snoopy the Celtics Beagle
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