12up’s Twelve ‘Firsts’ For the 2016-17 NBA Season

Penned a brief 2016-17 NBA preview for 12up Sports. More to come!



Stadium Decadium

“Clean it up, Johnny.”

At the 2:32 mark of Stadium Arcadium‘s heavy, bass driven jam “Readymade,” Anthony Kiedis fortunately wasn’t asking lead guitarist John Frusciante to kick another drug habit. While getting clean has certainly played a significant role in the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ improbable evolution, longevity, and success, collective sobriety gave this 2006 request new meaning. Kiedis was instead directing the esoteric axeman to sweep in with the kind of beautifully filthy solo that defines the California quartet’s landmark double album, which celebrates its tenth birthday on May 9th.

Although Frusciante left the band for weirder pastures in 2009, this twenty-eight-song collection is undoubtedly one of his (and the group’s) masterpieces. 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik and 1999’s Californication may be more widely renowned (2002’s By The Way will always be my personal favorite), but the eclectic Stadium Arcadium comprehensively illuminates the musical and metaphysical extremes the Chili Peppers (in all of their various reincarnations) have experienced and shared for over three decades.



For me (and several of my best/oldest friends), Stadium Arcadium is a unique time capsule. No other record transports me back to such a specific era, place, and feeling. The record always evokes the ambiguity, innocence, and fun that defined my most formative high school summers.

“Charlie” and “Tell Me Baby” remind me of sucking at beer pong. Frusciante’s “Wet Sand” solo returns me to a frenetic Hawaiian pool party that now feels like a Project X prequel. “Death of a Martian” weirdly puts me back in the driver’s seat of “Clive Owen” (my 1994 325 coupe named after the star of BMW’s The Hire) during a crazy Long Island storm. These moments weren’t exactly adolescent checkpoints, like prom or graduation, but they are far more representative of what makes youthful mundanities quite extraordinary.

While this epic work may be impossible for the Chili Peppers to replicate (2011’s Frusciante-less I’m With You is solid, but forgettable), the band’s recent album announcement and single release filled my ears and heart with joy and hope.

Stadium Arcadium may be ten-years-old, but revisiting it is one of the few things makes me feel like I haven’t aged a day.


Nothing is Forever: Twenty Years of BRINGING DOWN THE HORSE

On May 21st, my favorite Nineties album turns twenty years old.

Much like Jakob Dylan’s wearily melodic lyrics and vocals, revisiting Bringing Down The Horse makes me feel nostalgically weathered and youthfully empowered.

While The Wallflowers critically and commercially successful sophomore effort isn’t as highly regarded or widely remembered as some of its Grammy nominee company (including Crash, OK Computer, Yourself Or Someone Like You, Tragic Kingdom, or its closest genetic competition – Bob Dylan’s Time Out of Mind), the 11-track T Bone Burnett production is a musical time capsule and one of my formative decade’s greatest records.

With logical composition and palpable tonal chemistry, Bringing Down The Horse flows like the beautifully devastating Golden State Warriors offense. “One Headlight” is the flashy, yet fundamentally flawless standout opener with a once-in-a-generation chorus. Like Stephen Curry, it embodies an era that it helped mirror and shape. “6th Avenue Heartache” isn’t as recognizable, but it’s the glue that elevates everything (including former tourmate Adam Duritz’s haunting harmonies) that follows its emotional lead. It’s Young Dylan’s “Draymond Green.”



“The Difference,” “Laughing Out Loud,” and “God Don’t Make Lonely Girls” couldn’t sound more different than “Invisible City,” “Josephine,” and “I Wish I Felt Nothing,” but they somehow complement and enrich each other. It’s a collection better suited for vinyl than Spotify.

After releasing three solid, underappreciated follow-ups (Breach, Red Letter Days, and Rebel, Sweetheart) The Wallflowers took a 7-year hiatus before returning with 2012’s underwhelming Glad All Over. With only two shows planned in 2016, it doesn’t seem like Dylan, keyboardist/Foo Fighter Rami Jaffee, current drummer/founding Red Hot Chili Pepper Jack Irons, and their fellow touring members will formally commemorate Bringing Down The Horse‘s anniversary by bringing it back on the road.

Their lack of sentimentality feels somewhat fitting. Nothing is forever.


The Fisher Fling

Last night, Peyton Manning delivered Denver a championship and essentially completed his improbable transformation into Tim Tebow.

While his big brother Sheriff was busy not losing Super Bowl 50, New York “Deputy” Eli Manning was weirdly foreshadowing my immediate response to Monday’s Derek Fisher firing.


As many local Orange and Blue junkies (including the other 4/5ths of my inglorious Knicks texting group “Janis Porzingis“) rejoiced, I involuntarily projected genuine surprise sans shock.

The Knicks have now fired their head coach in four consecutive presidential election years (Fisher follows Don Chaney – 2004, Isiah Thomas – 2008, and Mike D’Antoni – 2012). This is an especially incredible streak considering they also don’t discriminate from seat changes during midterm election cycles (Larry Brown – 2006, Mike Woodson – 2014).

The Knicks may be the only organization more volatile than 2016’s GOP (though Vivek’s royal shitshow certainly gives them a run for their millions), but this sudden move feels more pragmatically proactive than pridefully impulsive.

In his second Sports Illustrated column, former Grantland scribe Andrew Sharp asserts “This could definitely be James Dolan watching the past two weeks and deciding to blow his kazoo. But if you’ve been paying close attention to the Knicks, it’s more likely that Phil Jackson is worried about the next two years. He saw something he didn’t like, and he realized that the only move crazier than firing Derek Fisher now was hiring him in the first place.”

My fellow Knicks apologists need to passionately cling to this belief as warmly as Peyton embraced Papa John before going to Disneyland.

After all, who will remember John Fox?






THE REVENANT & Leo’s Celebrity

Really enjoyed my friend Evan Klonsky’s REVENANT review. Some (brief) follow-up commentary:



“Mr. DiCaprio” is so special because he’s always occupied unique territory in the dead center of a “method vs. personality star” Venn diagram.

His (Hugh Glass-esque) relentless commitment to roles never comes at the expense of a “Leoness” that isn’t clearly definable. Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks are also method/personality hybrids, but their distinguishing traits are significantly easier to distinguish.

Leo’s public persona/mystique is performance art that continues to evolve with/throughout his career. THE REVENANT is no less about celebrity than Iñárritu’s BIRDMAN.