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Stonehill’s Stone Age Thinking Condom-ened

6 Mar

Catholic Stonehill College recently prohibited students from distributing free condoms in student dormitories,  as reported in the Boston Globe.  A group of students had collected the condoms from family planning agencies and placed boxes of them in residences on campus.   However, when the “higher-ups” at the Catholic college found out about the birth control and sexually-transmitted-disease preventatives, they were confiscated.   Hopefully, no students were burned at the stake for the transgression. 

So, is it Stonehill or Catholics in general who don’t believe in birth control or disease prevention?  But that is a negative positing of the issue.  Perhaps Catholics are simply in favor of spreading life-threatening disease and unwanted pregnancies. 

Stonehill Spokesman Martin McGovern said, “We’re a private Catholic college.  We make no secret of our religious affiliation, and our belief system is fairly straightforward. We don’t expect everyone on campus to agree with our beliefs, but we would ask people, and students in particular, to respect them.”   What is it about religion that makes supposedly educated people act like imbeciles?   Is the study of evolution also prohibited there?

Common sense and experience tells us:

  • College students have sex.
  • Unprotected sex can result in unwanted pregnancies.
  • Unprotected sex can spread STD’s, of which AIDS can be fatal.
  • Condoms can help prevent the transimission of said diseases and unwanted pregnancies.

Apparently, Stonehill finds it more important (and morally ethical) to operate under an antiquated, lets-produce-more-Catholics policy than to allow students to look out for the welfare of their peers.  The Hangover is no Biblical scholar, but caring for your fellow man was one of Jesus’s messages.  In unison, the Catholic church and the educators at Stonehill have goose-stepped away from that tenet.  It is the height of hypocrisy. 

Examine the following scenario:  There’s a fellow who studies hard, carefully examining his favorite subject, religion, on every level.  However, he’s a social type and a binge drinker of wine.  All his cavorting leads him into a relationship with a young woman of loose morals; some might call her a whore.  At this point, nothing can stop them from having sexual relations.  One would think that even the Pope would want young Jesus to wrap his rascal when getting down with Mary Magdalene–if only to preclude the work of Dan Brown.   It would seem that the Catholic church has enough problems without crusading against the students at its universities.

Warren Zevon’s Not So Quiet Normal Life

24 Nov

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, the 2007 Warren Zevon biography penned by Zevon’s ex-wife, Crystal, is a remarkable book.   A reader will experience moments of awe, disbelief, elation, and horror. When Zevon was diagnosed with cancer in 2002, he asked Crystal to tell the whole truth in writing his story, “even the awful, ugly parts.”  She did not flinch.  The book presents a view of Zevon that could not possibly be more honest.    Sharing traits with many of his characters, Zevon is at times genius, drunk, twisted, and hilarious.  To paraphrase one of his own songs, his shit was fucked up.

Crystal Zevon interviewed eighty-seven people for the book.  Their accounts are presented in the first person, as are her own remembrances.  Excerpts from Warren’s journal are also shared.   The reader sees hardships and challenges on every page–some external, many emanating from within.  But as Zevon careened through drug, alcohol, and sex addiction, one thing remained constant:  He never compromised his musical integrity.  And that cost him.  He did not achieve the financial and popular success he felt he deserved.  In a 1998 letter to Hunter S. Thompson, Zevon described his career as “about as promising as a Civil War leg wound.”  For Zevon fans, that was all right with us.  To hell with those who didn’t get it.

Bonny Raitt knew:  “There’s no way the mainstream could be hip enough to appreciate Warren Zevon.  He was our everything, from Lord Buckley to Charles Bukowski to Henry Miller.”  When Jackson Browne introduced Zevon to an audience as “the Ernest Hemingway of the twelve-string guitar,” Zevon later corrected him claiming, no, he was “the Charles Bronson of the twelve-string guitar.”  They were both right.  As Browne said, “Warren didn’t have literary pretenstions.  He had literary muscle.” 

The Hangover got on board with Zevon’s ’78 Excitable Boy album.  Although he never became a chartbuster, each previous and subsequent album delivered full tilt Zevon:  originality, a writer’s eye, and an outlaw’s attitude.   All one has to do is turn on a radio today and listen for an hour to realize that Zevon was a unique talent.  It is bitter-sweetly ironic that The Wind, recorded after Zevon’s cancer diagnosis (with the clock ticking loudly during the sessions), led to recognition in the form of two Grammies.   The Excitable Boy wasn’t around to see it happen.

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead will hit Zevon fans hard.  He paid a high price to create his music–and live his life.    As honest and uncompromising as his songs were, so is his biography.  It is a fitting tribute.  No doubt, the Zevon’s will continue to deserve more credit that they will receive.  

{All quotes taken from I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon.}

Obama Just Says No to Lindsay Lohan

18 Sep

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that the Obama campaign has turned down Lindsay Lohan’s offer to host events for young voters and go on the stump for Barack.  It appears that the actress’s past troubles with alcohol and drugs have scared off the campaign.  Sure, she’s been arrested for drunken driving and cocaine possession, and she’s done a stint in rehab.  But all that makes her is an icon for those in the 18-25 year old demographic–and a perfect ambassador for Obama. 

In case you haven’t noticed, people aged 18-25 like to do drugs and drink alcohol.  That’s why they often go to college.  They also can vote, and in an election expected to be close, their votes could make the difference.   Survey results from the Department of Health and Human services found that nationally in a particular month, approximately 40.1% of those in the 18-25 demographic used illicit drugs (6.5 million people).  Approximately 50% of those 18-20 used alcohol, while 68% of those 21-25 also drank (19 million people).  Even if you consider that a good portion of those using drugs probably did so with a cocktail in their hand, that’s still a considerable number of potential votes.  And Lindsay Lohan is just the starlet who can reel them in.
Key to the "Party Vote."

Lindsay Lohan: Key to the "Party Vote"

Taking an overview, it’s likely that some 18-to-25ers are probably intending to cast their ballots anyway.   But there are others, ones who are too stoned to watch the news but just cognizant enough to ferret out Entertainment Tonight or TMZ.  Here’s the scenario:  Inbetween lines, tokes, or mojitos, the youthful party animal catches the stunning Lohan in a little black dress; she’s saying how much the country and especially their generation needs Obama.  A thought rises as the endorphins fire:  “Hey, if Lindsay’s for this guy, then he’s got to be cool and I might as well vote for the dude.  Worse comes to worse, I can hit the booth and pick up a 12 pack of Bud Light Lime and an eight ball on the way home.”  This could play out in every state in the nation, and those voters could tip the scales in favor of Obama.   If you don’t think “the party vote” would have carried Florida for Al Gore in 2000, then you’ve never seen Miami Vice.  
Mr. Obama, ignore your advisors and get Lindsay Lohan on the phone.  Put her to work for you.  She’s the key to votes that could win you this election, even if she can’t walk a straight line at 3:00 in the morning.

The Best Songs For Your Labor Day Cookout

29 Aug

According to the US Department of Labor, Labor Day is “dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.”   In 2008, that means Americans will spend Monday firing up grills to char steroid-injected beef.  They’ll sit around on made-in-China beach chairs and drink Belgian-American Budweiser, English-American Miller, and Canadian-American Coors.  All that’s need to make the day complete is the right music: Songs that celebrate, venerate, and castigate the working world we’ve been given a one day furlough from.   

The Hangover’s Best Songs for your Labor Day Cookout: 

Working in the Coal Mine, Devo

Sure, coal mining is tough work.  Black lung.  Back-breaking labor.  Never-ending claustrophobia.  The threat of a being trapped miles below the Earth’s surface.  Forget it.  But why dwell on the negative aspects of hard labor?  Devo’s version of the song is bouncy and fun.  It will get people dancing herky-jerky around the barbecue and there’s no better way to spend your government-mandated day off than that. 

Welcome to the Working Week, Elvis Costello

Costello sings a song of welcome to those entering the working world.  The tongue in cheek lyrics slip a sucker punch in the guise of a simple new wave song.  The easy-going vocals and power pop melody belie the survival-of-the-fittest environment as Costello sings, “Oh, I know it don’t thrill you, I hope it don’t kill you.”  You know what he’s talking about. 

 The River / Better Days, Bruce Springsteen

Springsteen supplies some blue collar poetry here, but manages to rock out as he does it.  Yes, you can have songs of substance without sounding like a musician in a lab coat.  In The River, Bruce chronicles the everyman-working man: Tied into a job and a marriage, and the realization that the future doesn’t turn out like many of us imagined it.  Then in Better Days, Springsteen refuses to give up hope.  The singer takes what he has and makes the most of it.  You get both sides of the coin from Bruce.   

Luxury, The Rolling Stones

The Stones’ Luxury is a rocker with an island tint.  It’s a refinery worker’s lament; he’s trying to keep his family out of poverty and the pressure is on.  His dreams and realities exist on a permanent collision course:

I want a real fine car, fly Miami too
All the rum, I want to drink it, all the whiskey too
My woman need a new dress, my daughter got to go to school
I’m working so hard, I’m working for the company
I’m working so hard to keep you in the luxury

And you can’t call me lazy on a seven day a week
Make a million for the Texans, twenty dollar me
Yes, I want a gold ring, riding in a limousine
I’m working so hard, I’m working for the company
I’m working so hard to keep you in the luxury

 It’s only rock and roll, but it makes a definitive Labor Day statement. 

 Working Class Hero, John Lennon

Let this play when the clouds come over the deck.  John Lennon grew up a working class kid in a working class city.  He’s seen the class warfare, and while his message appears to be positive there’s more to it.  One can take pride in the ability to survive in the working world, but at what expense?  One can feel that hurt in his voice as Lennon exposes the cracks in the foundation of that belief. He ends the song: 

There’s room at the top they are telling you still
But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
If you want to be like all the folks on the hill
A working class hero is something to be
A working class hero is something to be

It’s Not My Place (in the 9 to 5 World), The Ramones

The Ramones say it simply.  They will not be dragged down into the soul-sucking 9 to 5 world and all that it entails.  The Ramones knew who they were and what they were about.  As a tribute to their wisdom, The Hangover will be hard at work on Labor Day.   Rest assured, the hours won’t run from 9 to 5.   

The Stompers’ Time Machine

28 Jul

The Hangover first saw The Stompers back in 1979 when they played a concert at “the small prestigious liberal arts college” (not exactly my own terminology) I attended.  We hadn’t heard of them, but the fliers distributed around the dining hall claimed the Boston band was known for passionate, high-energy live shows.  It was a $5 gamble we were willing to take.  Well, The Stompers blew the roof off the gym and we were instant converts.  The Hangover followed the band through the years, and the shows always lived up to the standard set that first night.   When a friend suggested we see their reunion concert this summer at the Casino Ballroom in Hampton Beach, it was easy to imagine a good time.  That the Stompers would blow any pangs of nostaglia to smithereens wasn’t even considered.   

Being professional musicians, it would have been easy for Sal Baglio, Dave Friedman, Steve Gilligan, and Lenny Shea to get on stage, have some fun, and go through the motions.  Instead, the Stompers revved up, dug down, and played one of the best sets in the long history of The Hangover’s concert experience.    With a horn section and back-up singers behind them, the Stompers ruled from the first notes of “This is Rock and Roll” through the closing “Rock and Roll.”   As young men, we had considered Sal Baglio a rock god; it was good to see our original assessment was on the money.

The Hangover and associates were hooting, hollering, singing, and raising our bottles in tribute throughout the night.  We screamed “Sal” just as we had at countless shows back in the ’80’s.  It should have been pathetic:  2000 middle-agers acting as they had 25 years earlier, when they were young and foolish and drunk–and didn’t care if they acted like a bunch of idiots.  But The Stompers July 26th set was a time machine.  The Hangover wasn’t concerned about the kids back home with the babysitter or the hangover (the real thing) staring me down the barrel of Sunday morning.  The Stompers transported myself and countless others back to a time when we didn’t worry and the music really mattered.  It was as close to The Fountain of Youth as we will ever get. 

Few bands can do what the Stompers did on Saturday night.  Three days later, I’m still feeling good about it.  The Hangover is grateful.

Budweiser: The Great Belgian-American Beer

18 Jul

The business world has been saturated like a rug at a keg party with the news of Belgian brewing giant InBev acquiring all-American Anheuser-Busch.  While this brings us that much closer to a “Rollerball world  where society is dominated and run by a few behemoth corporations, the real question lies in what this means to American Bud drinkers, of which The Hangover is one.

Will Bud taste the same as it does now?  Yes.  Will we still get to watch commercials of Clydesdales playing football in the fall?  Yes.  Will Bud and Bud Light still be brewed regionally? Likely.  Will Bud still be marketed as “The Great American Lager?”  Yes, even though it will be owned by Belgians.

But Americans have no reason to fear Belgian ownership.  Here’s why:  Belgians are great people.  Twenty years ago, The Hangover and one of his associates spent a few nights in a Biarritz casino that could have been a James Bond set.  Our first evening there we cleaned up playing blackjack, winning hand after hand, hooping and hollering and guzzling beer.  While most of the clientele was in suits, we were dressed in jeans and leather jackets; we felt like the Cartwrights cutting loose in Virginia city. 

However, on the following night, our luck wasn’t so great.  Despite the bartenders having our first round arrive at our table just as we did, we started losing.  It got to the point that we were playing hand-to-hand.  A few more bad cards and we were done. 

An older gentleman was seated next to us.  He’d also been at our table the previous evening.   

     “You guys aren’t doing so great tonight,” he said.

     “No, it’s a rough one,” I replied.  We lost a hand just as one of the bartenders came over to see if we needed another round.  We didn’t have the money.

     “Let me buy you guys a beer,” the gentleman said.  “You know, you really got everyone all upset last night.”

     “We were just having a good time,” my associate said.

     “I enjoyed it,” the gentleman said.  “Whenever you can piss off these French assholes, go ahead and do it.”

      “I take it you’re not French,” I said.

     “The hell with that,” he said, smiling.  “I’m from Belgium.”

As soon as the beer the Belgian bought us arrived at the table, our luck changed.  We went on a winning streak that recouped our losses and then surpassed our winnings of the night before.  We owed it all to the kindness of the Belgian spirit. 

The Hangover will continue to support and enjoy Budweiser.  And when the InBev-Anheuser Busch deal is finalized, The Hangover fully expects his first “Belgian” Budweiser will bring him more than just a buzz.

[Editors note:  Rollerball, as a movie, is a good one with compelling characters, action, and suspense.  It was filmed in 1975 based on a storyby William Harrison.  However, if viewed today, the movie reveals itself to be eerily prescient social commentary.  You’d have to be stone drunk on American-Belgian Budweiser to miss the connections between the sci-fi world of the film and the one you actually live in.]

Greetings From Fenway Park: Red Sox Opening Day 2008

9 Apr

The Boston Red Sox celebrated the beginning of the ’08 season and the Series victory of ’07 yesterday in fine fashion.  The Hangover was in attendance.  Our random thoughts are presented below.

  • It was great having Bill Buckner throw out the first pitch.  As reported in the Boston Globe, it meant a lot to him.  Anyone with a clue knows that the ’86 Series defeat was not his fault.  He played his ass off that fall on one healthy ankle.  There’s plenty of blame to go around for ’86, most of which the Hangover heaps on the inept managing of John MacNamara.  If he had brought Oil Can Boyd in to relieve Hurst in game Seven, victory would have been ours.  There’s no way the Can isn’t at his absolute best at that moment.
  • The ring ceremony was well paced and compelling.  The athletes representing the various teams were well chosen; it was great that they weren’t all superstars.  Anytime you can put Bill Russell, Johnny “Pie” McKenzie, Larry Izzo, Curtis Lescanic, and Bobby Orr together, it will be a moment to remember. Of course, you could put Bobby Orr out there with the Timberlane High Chess Team and it would be a moment to remember. 
  • Is there a reason the Sox can’t retire Johnny Pesky’s number 6?  He’s worked for them for 50 years, he was a great player (if not a Hall of Famer), and he’s managed and coached and a large number of Sox players from Boggs to Schilling have thanked Pesky for his contributions.  He deserves more than a minor league field in Fort Myers.  What more does the guy have to do?
  • In honor of a certain history professor at Wichita State in Kansas, The Hangover took part in a Tastycakes promotion where a small donation resulted in a free pack of Krimpets. Mmmmmmmmmmm.
  • The A. Rodriguez-attacking hawk made an appearance early in the game.  It was applauded. 
  • The Red Sox this year are serving beer in the stands to season ticket holders in Field Box seats.  This is a great idea.  For what people are shelling out for those tickets they should be able to get a beer there–just like in EVERY OTHER MAJOR LEAGUE BALLPARK.  But what about the rest of us?  Although The Hangover wasn’t drinking at the game, seeing the beer vendor pass below without even a glance upward drew our ire.  Those in the not-as-expensive-(but surely not cheap)-seats shouldn’t have to waste an inning in the bowels of Fenway standing in line to pay $7.75 for a 16 ounce brew.  Do the Sox fear that those without Platinum cards and pedigrees will act out and become slurring Neanderthals if they are brought beer?  Will there be anarchy in the Grandstands, sponsored by Budweiser?  Will turmoil rumble through the upper boxes like a MIller Lite fueled tidal wave?   Come on, Sox, bring the beer to those who need it most–the poor, the downtrodden, the ones paying good money to sit everywhere else but the field boxes.  (Do you really want to see those grandstand customers in open revolt when it’s 90 degrees and the masses get a look at ice cold Heineken being served to the field seats? They’ll storm those poor beer vendors like the French rabble took the Bastille.)
  • Although The Hangover did not drink at Fenway, TH and associates did do some damage before the game.  Kudos to the bar staff at Eastern Standard who were professional, quick, friendly, and kept us sedated with American beer and Irish whiskey.   Well done.
  • The eighth inning Neil Diamond “Sweet Caroline” video was a hoot.  It could have used more Wally and less Tom Werner, however.
  • The eighth inning Neil Diamond “Sweet Caroline” video was an annoying promotional tool for his upcoming August concert in Fenway.  It could have used more Wally and less Tom Werner. 
  • Daisuke was in command, the team played some great defense, and there was timely hitting.  The resulting 5-0 shutout of the Tigers was a complement to the sun which made its first appearance in two weeks.   Life as it should be for Sox fans. 

To spare The Hangover a future rant:

  • Will someone please notify Red Sox management that the next time Bill Lee is at Fenway, they should be playing Warren Zevon’s song “Bill Lee” as his music, and not that mediocre Steve Miller goof:  “Space Cowboy.”   Lee has a song written for and about him by one of America’s greatest songwriters.  Use it.