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WWE

Career Killers: “Results May Vary” by Limp Bizkit

What was the talk of this year’s Lollapalooza festival? Was it the fact that it was the first big rock concert in Chicago since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted? Was it whether the proof of vaccination/negative test requirement for entry would be effective in preventing the show from turning into a super spreader event? (So far, it looks like it has been successful in that regard.)

No. It was Limp Bizkit seemingly replacing frontman Fred Durst with either his dad or an extra from the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” video.

Gone was the trademark red Yankees cap. In its place was a thick hat of gray hair that made people wonder whether or not it was a wig. Throw in the long grey handlebar mustache and sunglasses and he looked like he was wearing a disguise — as if he were in witness protection or something.

The consensus: He kind of pulled it off. The other consensus: Limp Bizkit were reasonably well received by attendees and live stream viewers, most of whom probably hadn’t heard of them since “Nookie.” As such, in the days following the show, the band’s back catalog saw a nice spike in sales and steaming numbers. Keep rollin’ rollin’ rollin’, indeed.

Of course, there was a reason why he seemed so unrecognizable. Once reliable hitmakers and a ubiquitous presence on MTV, Limp Bizkit has been long forgotten about and reduced to a punchline — a much maligned footnote from a bygone era when nu metal was so popular, even established superstars like Metallica tried it.

This is the album that started Limp Bizkit’s decline.

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Career Killers: “Adore” by the Smashing Pumpkins

Mike Love may be a good rock ‘n roll heel, but Billy Corgan is an actual heel. The longtime wrestling fan and eventual promoter and on-air authority figure made a conscious decision, from the beginning, to be the bad guy. “In the early years of the Smashing Pumpkins, I saw that I was going to be treated as an outsider,” he told Rolling Stone in 2016. “So rather than play along, which is what you’re supposed to do, I decided to play heel, in wrestling parlance, and have fun with it… I’d rather be that heel than the babyface who goes along to get along.”

He did a great job. Despite his obvious talent (the Pumpkins singer and lead guitarist wrote almost all of the songs and played, pretty much, everything except for drums on the band’s first two albums), Corgan became one of the least likable people in music. He tossed off arrogant quotes to the music press more easily than Ted DiBiase threw his money around to move to the front of the line at an emergency room, close down a public pool or buy himself a championship belt because he was upset he couldn’t win the actual one. He treated his bandmates like employees, hiring and firing them at will or blaming them for breaking up the band when he was always on the one in charge. And he certainly wasn’t humble. “Do I belong in the conversation about the best artists in the world? My answer is yes, I do,” he said to Rolling Stone in 2010.

So like watching the hated heel get his comeuppance, there was quite a bit of schadenfreude in seeing Corgan fail. And with 1998’s Adore, Corgan did so in spectacular fashion, bringing his band’s momentum to a screeching halt and ending its run as one of the biggest and most popular alternative rock bands in the world.

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Career Killers: “Summer in Paradise” by the Beach Boys

To borrow a pro wrestling term, Mike Love has long been one of the best heels in rock ‘n roll.

Widely hated by critics, fans, media, liberals and even fellow Beach Boys (actual headline from Vice.com: “Mike Love is Kind of an Asshole”), Love is so despised that it’s arguably more rock ‘n roll to defend him rather than pile on with his many detractors. Indeed, if anyone could have an entire arena full of people chant “asshole” at him a la Vince McMahon or Roman Reigns, it’s Mike Love. A relentless self-aggrandizing self-promoter, the only thing you can say about him is that he’s not dripping with phoniness or fake sincerity like Brother Love.

In fact, like the best heels, he believes he’s justified in behaving the way he does — especially in his eternal quest for the credit he feels he deserves for the band’s success. Brian Wilson may have been the creative genius behind the band, but Love will argue that he should get as much, if not more credit than the erratic Wilson for keeping the band going and co-writing some of their best known songs. Whether it’s suing Wilson for royalties in court many times; inflating his role in the band’s great moments and minimizing his role in the less successful ones (sometimes doing both on the same thing – like criticizing Pet Sounds or Smile when they seemed like they’d be failures and then taking credit for both when they became acclaimed); or going Vince McMahon and firing Wilson and Al Jardine from the band in 2012 after what was otherwise a successful reunion tour, Love gets very little of his namesake emotion from critics, commentators and even fans of the Beach Boys. Heck, he once used the staid and formal atmosphere of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony to deliver a WWE-style promo talking trash about a bunch of bands and musicians that, until then, probably had nothing but respect for his band and everything it has accomplished.

And much like how WWE treats certain non-PG segments from the past like they never happened, that’s how the band views the Love-led 1992 album Summer in Paradise. I guess that’s understandable, considering Summer in Paradise ended the band as a creative force and turned it into a full-time touring/oldies act.

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Well Oiled Machine – A Concert Review of Depeche Mode at the Barclays Center

Concert Review:

Depeche Mode

September 6, 2013

Barclays Center

The reason I didn’t review the latest Depeche Mode album, “Delta Machine,” is because Stereogum summed it up better than I ever could:

At this point, Depeche Mode are pretty much new-wave synthpop’s Rolling Stones. They have such a deep and unfuckwithable catalog of hits that they could continue touring arenas until their bodies just completely give up. Nobody really needs them to keep recording new music, and yet they keep doing it.

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Battleground State: The Fight to Legalize MMA in New York (Part 5)

The Pundit

Bert Sugar is one of the world’s foremost authorities on boxing. A member of the Boxing Hall of Fame, Sugar has written over 60 books, including some on boxing; has edited The Ring, Boxing Illustrated and Fight Game magazines, and was named “The Greatest Boxing Writer of the 20th Century” by the International Veterans Boxing Association. The quick-witted and sharp-tongued Sugar, known as much for his one-liners as for his trademark fedora and cigar, has some strong opinions about MMA, but still thinks it should be legalized.

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Philip Rivers Grants Wish

From the Archives: In honor of my least favorite quarterback in the NFL, I thought I’d recycle this article I wrote for a sports humor website a couple of years ago. I was inspired to write it after Philip Rivers taunted a bunch of Indy fans during the 2008 NFL Playoffs. Since the Colts and Chargers are the top two seeds in the AFC, maybe history will repeat itself this year?

Eight-year old Timmy McCormick was suffering from cancer and was told he had about year to live. He was in terrible pain and could barely muster the energy to get out of bed, let alone go outside to play with his friends. The only time he spent out of bed was to go to the bathroom to throw up, a side-effect of his chemotherapy. Timmy was depressed and in low spirits. He had lost all of his hair. He had no friends to play with. He had almost no shot at survival. Timmy did not have much to live for and both he and his family knew it.

The only time he seemed to be able to forget his pain and be happy was when he watched his beloved San Diego Chargers play football. His parents signed him up with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Timmy, a loyal San Diego Chargers fan, only had one wish. He wanted to spend a day with the quarterback of the Chargers – his idol, Drew Brees.

Unfortunately, because of a long waiting list, as well as a backlog of wishes, Brees had signed with New Orleans by the time that Timmy’s wish request was processed. Timmy, still wanted to hang out with San Diego’s quarterback. So he readily agreed when the Make-A-Wish Foundation offered to send Philip Rivers. The Chargers quarterback met up with Timmy a few weeks ago in order to fulfill the boy’s wish. He came to Timmy’s house and gave Timmy some autographed balls, helmets, and jerseys. He also posed for some pictures with Timmy and threw the ball around with him in the backyard. However, what started as a joyous meeting between a young boy and his football role model quickly turned sour.

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Bike Polo: No Horses, No Rules

People often think of polo as a refined sport played by wealthy men on horseback. What happens when you replace the horses with bicycles, you throw out a lot of the rules, and you add some WWE-style showmanship? You get bike polo – a fast-paced and anarchic sport that’s gaining a cult following in the United States. Victor Li reports.

Thanks to Ellen London (Columbia J-School ’10) for the host intro.

UPDATE (3/18/10): There is a pic of me in action at the Hardcourt Bike Polo website. There’s a comment under it about me needing to get off the decaf, which I found to be pretty funny. If s/he only knew how much coffee I went through on any given day…