Hirscher Skis Out

The expectations don’t square with reality.

Bode Miller is forever tarnished by his failure to win medals in Torino, even though his trove of Olympic trophies is positively staggering. He didn’t measure up to the hype. Can anybody measure up to the hype?

In business.

But rarely in art.

And almost never in certain sports. Like skiing.

I find it fascinating the amount of buzz skiing has gotten in these Olympics. The media is overloaded with stories on Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn, two American heroes who are deserving of the attention but…

Then there are the snowboarders, the halfpipe and slopestyle tricksters. Don’t confuse them with the downhill skiers, they’re more gymnast than slider. Furthermore, despite all the attention, snowboarding is fading. Statistics tell us that the children of Gen X’ers, who drove snowboarding, are reacting and wanna ski. Furthermore, snowboarding is such a huge pain in the ass. Strapping in and out, sitting in the snow, trying to make it across traverses. Burton came out with a new step-in binding, but so far it has not gained traction. And yes, this is a religious war, with skiing on the upswing, but the truth is snow sports are dying. Well, at least flat. They’re too expensive, too mature, and the snow itself is in short supply.

But in the sixties it was different. Skiing was the skateboarding of its day. There were hills everywhere, middle class denizens participated. But then with the installation of high speed lifts ticket prices rose and with the concomitant gap between rich and poor those less fortunate stopped skiing. And snowboarding. To the detriment of the industry. Resorts closed. Airlines started charging for baggage, and now skiing is for the one percent.

Except during the Olympics.

Now you’ve got understand, in Europe, not only Austria and Switzerland, but Norway, Germany, Italy and France too, skiing is nearly as big as football. You can make a killing, what with victory schedules and endorsements. Bode Miller is a household name over there, a legend, not a creep. And Mikaela and Lindsey are superstars.

But over here…

We only focus once every four years. And expect these athletes to deliver.

But that’s a misunderstanding of the landscape.

The downhill track was too easy. The wind was a factor. All the elements of skiing the average person has no awareness of came into play, and changed the results.

Did you see the article in today’s “New York Times” how Mikaela travels with 70 pairs of skis! Actually, she only took 35 to the Olympics, along with her full time tuner, that’s what it takes to win. Hell, Bode was calling the giant slalom and he remarked how one racer was doing so well because he was the only one on Volkls…it’s a technical game.

Then again, the “Wall Street Journal” wrote how those with knee injuries, those who’ve blown their ACLs, actually perform better! And they’ve all been injured, and they’re all a little scared, and no one wins every time.

Except Shiffrin and Hirscher in the slalom.

Well, not exactly, but most of the time. They’re automatons.

But Shiffrin didn’t. Was it the skis? Was it staying up late after winning the GS? Wasn’t she supposed to take home five golds?

As for Hirscher, he already won two. And now he was skiing in his favorite event, where he excels, the aforementioned slalom, and he hadn’t skied out in TWO YEARS!

Now you’ve got to know, the sport has changed. With breakaway gates and shaped skis. Credit Bode for that, he was the first to use the new equipment twenty years ago and went from zero to hero overnight. The spoils go to those willing to take the risks.

And now the risk of skiing out in the slalom is less.

And as the commentators are remarking on how Hirscher always finishes, you could see…

He was late.

You see no skier is perfect. The old adage is, “If you don’t fall, you don’t ski.” It’s kinda like golf, nobody gets it right every time. But there are so many more variables, and there’s so much more danger.

So Hirscher has his skis in the air, he’s throwing them sideways to try and make the next gate. And then he recovers. And then he loses it again. Funny how one little mistake trends through to the end, you rarely settle down completely, is it psychological or..?

And he’s got to hit it to win, go straight at the gates to compete, but that increases the danger. And then…

It’s over, he can’t make the next gate, HE’S OUT!

He screwed with the narrative. He slid down the hill, took off his boards and marched off in a huff. So would you, with all the pressure, all the glory almost in reach, and you blew it.

But that’s what life is about. Blowing it. You lose more than you win. Especially if you try new things, especially if you put yourself at risk. This is a sport determined by fractions of a second. Someone losing by two seconds is an also-ran, a competitor with no chance. You’ve got to lay it all on the line and when everybody is watching…

There’s tons of pressure.

But there are so many who don’t understand.

Lindsey Vonn doesn’t get her gold. Sure, she unfortunately ran first in the Super G, a race with no training run, she was the guinea pig, there was one truly difficult gate. But in the downhill…

Was it her skis? Her line? Was Goggia just that much better?

Someone knows.

But maybe no one. Bode, who is a spectacular commentator, doesn’t always get it right, just like in his own ski career. He’d flail and win. He’s saying someone is slow and then they turn out fast, you can never tell, kinda like Ledecka, the Czech snowboarder who won the women’s Super G, SHE was stunned by her victory.

But Hirscher’s moment of potential glory is gone. He won two golds, but not a third, he’s a success, but not a legend. It happened just that fast.

And he reminded us that not only is he human, but so are we.

And that ultimately we answer to ourselves.

And when the looky-loos, the once every four year people, are gone, those on the inside will know…

You’re still that great, you’re still that good.

But not every day.

Nothing is guaranteed.

And that’s why life is worth living.

“Why Mikaela Shiffrin Brought 35 Pairs of Skis to the Olympics”

“Why Lindsey Vonn’s Bad Knee Could Be a Good Thing – One Surgeon calls it the ski-racing paradox: how elite skiers who have torn a knee ligament come out faster and race longer than those who haven’t”

Angela

Angela – Spotify

Angela – YouTube

The Lumineers were supposed to be a one hit wonder.

I was in a race to make it to the dentist’s office in Beverly Hills. I was running late and the construction on Olympic was gonna make me later, always trust the map app, ALWAYS, as long as it’s not Apple’s, which told me it was gonna take 19 minutes when Google said 26 and was right, but…

Howard is on vacation. In a world with no center we all look to something to cling to. And for millions it’s Howard Stern, we feel we’re part of a community, we know all the players. But when Howard’s gone…

That’s when I listen to music on the satellite.

And now with Mike Marrone gone from the service I decided to work my way up the dial from the Pulse to the Blend to… And I understood the pop tracks but they did not resonate, I felt I was on a fact-gathering mission, looking at the world through a plate glass window, I could hear the music but I could not feel it.

So I pushed up to the Spectrum and that’s where I heard “Angela.”

I was at the intersection of Santa Monica and Wilshire and a woman in leather pants was crossing the street. Inside I laughed, I wondered who she was trying to impress at two in the afternoon. And then I thought back to the days of yore, before the internet, when you’d drive to the city to feel the pulse, to find out what was going on, to experience life. But that’s all been replaced by the internet. Now we all play in the virtual world, that’s where we make and exhibit our bona fides, even if we inflate them. Strange the march of progress, everyone keeps saying it’s got to be stopped but it’s so much easier to play these days, and that’s a good thing, but the landscape has gotten so much more vast, and there are now zillions of famous people, not only the ones you might stumble upon in BH.

Now, although we are experiencing a return to winter in SoCal, it’s still clear and sunny. And with the a/c on, yes, you still need it when the temp’s in the fifties, your car is a greenhouse, you’re in your own cocoon, listening to the music, and this is when I feel best, alone, yet together.

And the funny thing about the Spectrum is the songs they play are both old and new, sometimes recognizable, sometimes not. And I’m thinking back to the days of when I knew every song on the radio, but no one does anymore, if they tell you they do they’re lying.

And I heard a Kings Of Leon song that stuck in my head. I changed the channel for a minute when a classic rocker came on, and then I heard “Angela.”

It was the vibe, the intimacy, the life. The drum machines, the plastic sound of the Pulse and Blend were gone. It was like stumbling from a skyscraper to a saloon, you could feel the wood, the atmosphere brought you right in. My mood changed, I started to smile, I felt great, I felt like someone got me.

But no one gets this. You won’t see “Angela” in the Spotify Top 50, but all the AAA acolytes will tell me it was a “hit” nearly two years ago. But that’s like saying you’re big in Fresno. How are the rest of us supposed to find this stuff, especially if the act is not interviewed on Stern.

When you left this town, with your windows down

You know that feeling, with the radio cranked, not a care in the world, you’re leaving the troubles behind.

The strangers in this town
They raise you up just to cut you down
Oh Angela, it’s a long time coming

I’ve lived in the country, it’s not for me, it’s one of the things I lament about internet culture, everybody knows your business and is in it, they’ve got an opinion on who you are, you’re labeled, you’ve sacrificed your anonymity. That’s the conundrum, we want to be known and we want to be anonymous. That’s why I live in the city, it’s why I don’t post on social media, I don’t want to hear from every person I ever knew, I don’t want to stalk old girlfriends, it’s hard enough to erase their memory from my brain.

But I’m known by some, who will criticize me and my views. I’m too late to “Angela,” it doesn’t have enough changes, it’s too white. It’s hard to shake off the feedback, to play, but I’m trying to.

And what I’m trying to say is just when I find the music world incomprehensible I stumble upon something like “Angela.” I’d like to tell you I found more just like it on the Spectrum, but that would be untrue. Excellence juts out from the landscape like a phoenix. You know it when you hear it. Art is not quantifiable. It’s not about charts, but a feeling in the individual, it’s about changing people, making them feel understood and part of something bigger, connected to the performer.

I love the reference to the Volvo, I love personalization, the blander the lyrics the less interested I am.

And I wish music like this could be heard by more. It’s certainly so much more meaningful than that which is chasing trends. “Angela” is not breaking ground, but it’s timeless. Like the best music, it references what came before, but it’s totally unique.

Angela, on my knees, I belong, I believe

Actually I’m sitting, here at my MacBook Pro. Long after midnight. When I should be winding down. But listening to “Angela” is the only time I’ve felt great all day. And when I pulled it up on my phone just now I had to tell you.

Home at last.

Jake Gold-This Week’s Podcast

This one is different. This is less of an interview than a conversation. As if we were at dinner and you were listening in on us batting the ball back and forth, covering topics as varied as Sirius XM to prog rock to the Canadian health care system.

Jake Gold was the manager who built the career of the Tragically Hip. He was also a judge on “Canadian Idol.”

We’re still experimenting here.

Hope you enjoy it!

Bob

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Student Gun Protests

Can’t start a fire without a spark

And all this time we were waiting for the musicians to lead.

Illustrating not only the vacuity of the “artists,” but the lack of impact of their wares.

In the sixties and seventies, even up into the eighties and nineties, the culture was driven by music.

And for the last twenty years it’s been driven by tech.

Now it’s driven by politics.

That’s what people really want to talk about, the government, their rights, opportunity… But oldsters set in their ways believe paradigms go on forever, but they don’t, and time waits for no one, and it won’t wait for you or me.

It always happens this way. A minor incident turns into a major conflagration. Whether it be the killing of Archduke Ferdinand that set off World War I or the self-immolation of a fruit vendor in Tunisia that set off the Arab Spring. There was something in the air, all it needed was a trigger.

And sure, this is about gun rights, but it’s more than that, it’s a frustration with the status quo, the youth of this country are fed up with the expedience of their elders, who’ve sold out to their pocketbooks. What happens next?

They shot a black man in Ferguson… But he was just black. It didn’t register with the white people.

They started deporting immigrants, the white people thought they were safe.

But now their children are getting shot up in schools and..?

Trump blinks, months after the Vegas tragedy he stands up for the banning of bump stocks.

In Tallahassee the state government ignores the younger generation.

You do this at your peril.

It’s always the young who initiate change. Whether it be their protests against the Vietnam War or their embrace of Napster on high speed campus networks that almost nobody had at home.

This is the bleeding edge, pardon my bad pun.

So what can you do? What happens next?

Change. Comfort is transitory. For far too long America has been about individuals getting theirs with no consequences, and those more cohesively minded, those who have been left out, are unhappy about this.

Trump’s election fostered the #MeToo movement. If the pussy-grabber in chief hadn’t won women would not be pushing back, males would not be falling, men would not be questioning their behavior, and if you don’t think men are now thinking twice, you’re not one.

The more you take away people’s rights, the more you force them to give up hope, the more impotent you make them, the more you foster resentment and ultimate upheaval.

Interestingly, the music business has been anti-upheaval, the entertainment business at large too. There’s been more protest against digital disruption than in any other field. The producers believe they’re entitled to their remuneration. The artists want to go back to what once was. Only that’s never going to happen.

It’s time to put your bank account in the rearview mirror. It’s time to stand up and fight for what’s right. It’s time to join the community as opposed to trying to stay safe alone in your hole.

This train has left the station. While you’re selling merch, they’re selling ideas.

And ideas always win.

They’re the only thing that matters.