At the Mercy of Kevin Hall…

Today I find myself in a position that so many women, wiener dogs and chicken wings have become all too familiar with… I’m at the mercy of Strother Kevin Hall.

In his most recent post, Kevin became a part of what amounts to an internet chain letter. In a recent blog entry from the Lexington Herald-Leader’s Rich Copley, Copley allowed himself to be interviewed on the condition that anyone responding with an interview request would the be subsequently interviewed by him… with the responses to be posted on their individual blog. Trust me, it sounds more complicated than it really is. Kevin took the bait, requested an interview from Copley, and the results can be found here.

Having never been interviewed (and finding myself too lazy to come up with new entry ideas), I chose to request an interview as performed by Kevin himself… which leads us to this point. By entering this devil’s agreement, I now make myself part of the interview chain. Should any of you find this interesting, simply leave a comment at the bottom of the page requesting an interview from me, followed by your contact information (if I don’t already have it).

Oh the fun, the excitement! Now, let’s pick my brain for a few minutes. Kevin’s questions appear verbatim below in bold, my responses follow.

1. Do you believe a bias, liberal or conservative, exists in the media? Is there such a thing as objective reporting? Which publication (or broadcast) does the best job of being in the middle?

Bias is largely subjective. Certainly the obvious “news” figures (Bill Maher, Rush Limbaugh, etc) have a slant to their type of journalism, but as for the mainstream print media I just don’t see it. All too often I think we tend to confuse the editorial page with the front page. The New York Times has a left-leaning editorial section, the Wall Street Journal tends to lean to the right. Neither of these things makes either paper inherently biased in their day-to-day coverage of events in the world around us.

I tend to believe that the U.S. media has a very severe bias, not to either side, but to U.S. interests only. Turn on the BBC for one hour each morning and you’ll learn more about our country (and the rest of the world) than you could by reading half of the newspapers published nationally that day. As far as partisan bias in the broadcast media, it certainly does exist. MSNBC offers more air time to left-leaning pundits, Fox News does the same for the other side. However, anyone that gets the majority of their news from talking heads in prime-time has probably already settled on an ideology, which makes the whole debate pointless.

The true wonder of the 21st century lies in the blogosphere. Thanks to the millions of worldwide bloggers and immediate access to information, stories that may have gone underreported or completely unreported are available at our fingertips each day. If you don’t like the New York Times, then read The Drudge Report, if you don’t like the Washington Times, then read Salon.com. But still, what we’re talking about here are opinions. Real news covered on the ground, while always seen through the eye of the beholder, is typically provided in a fair manner. There will always be exceptions, but until we hire robots to retrieve our news, that’s just something that we have to deal with.

And trust me, you don’t want the robots.

2. What band (or album) meant the most to you as a child? As a teenager? As a 20-year-old? Today?

As a kid, I think the most important record in the world to me was probably Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite For Destruction. It was the snarl, the attitude and the iconoclastic nature of that band that really turned me from a casual listener of music into a rock and roll obsessive. They seem a little cheesy now, being relegated to “vintage” t-shirts in the mall, but you have to remember how groundbreaking that album was at the time. While everyone else paraded around in spandex, spraying that 4th can of Aqua-Net across their over exaggerated quaff, G N’ R kicked open the door with songs about heroin, fist fights and rocket queens. I’d quite honestly never heard anything like it, and from that moment forward decided to become Axl Rose. Fortunately I grew out of that phase before he moved into the cornrows period of his life.

As a teenager, there’s no question, it was Ready To Die by the Notorious B.I.G. I’d become completely obsessed with hip-hop culture (not just the music), and that album hit me like a ton of bricks. I’d listened to the true greats of the art form, guys like Rakim and KRS-1, but Ready To Die was the first real hip-hop classic to be released when I was at an age to appreciate it. It really changed how I viewed the music and the culture. It wasn’t just about acting tough, shooting people and trying to get as many girls as possible to come home with you. Granted, Biggie did all of that, but the delivery of the message was different. I call him the Bob Dylan of hip-hop, and that’s really how that album felt to me. While the other kids were off with their Nirvana records and flannel shirts, I was getting deeper into high-brow hip-hop, beat poetry, jazz and the like. I owe all of that to having my perspective widened by that record.

In my 20’s I became obsessed with two things… British music and politics. I’d always cared about politics, but the Brit-Rock scene was fairly new to me. David Rogers introduced me to Primal Scream’s XTRMNTR, and I found a musical home for years to come. It just embodied everything I wanted to say and be. It was edgy, filled with distortion, screaming guitars and electronic fuzz. Every song was an “in your face” protest anthem, shouting down imperialism and, more often than not, Madeline Albright. I’m certain that I’m showing my age here, but I think it’s an indispensable early 20’s record for any kid interested in global change… which happens to be most of them. I couldn’t even imagine how many times I drove at excessive speeds on New Circle Road while screaming the lyrics to Pills.

Now, I’ve settled a lot. I guess the album that means the most to me these days is a tie. It’s somewhere between Arcade Fire’s Funeral and The Hold Steady’s Boys & Girls In America. At the risk of sounding like some kind of hipster jackass, let me explain why. Those records represent the exact place and time in which I find myself. They look back on the good and the bad of my past, embrace the way I feel right this second and shout optimism for the future. I’ve been to the Party Pit, I have had Massive Nights, I want to Wake Up and I see the Tunnels. Music to me has never been about arrangements or musicianship, although those things are nice, it’s really all about how it makes you feel and what it makes you do. Those records make me feel exactly how I want to feel right now.

3. Is it ever acceptable for a person to jump on a sports team’s bandwagon? Why or why not?

When you’re a kid, absolutely. As an adult, not so much.

Kids are always bandwagon jumpers, which accounts for so much of Michael Jordan’s fortune. Every kid wants to cheer for the winning team. In my case, I found myself infatuated with Randall Cunningham as a kid, declared myself an Eagles fan and never looked back. I was about 8 or 9 when I started following Philly, and almost 20 years later I’m still there through the good and the bad.

As far as adults go, I think you get a couple of passes, but that’s it. It’s like Bill Simmons wrote, if your team just totally turns their back on you, refuses to win, etc. then you’re allowed to jump ship. When jumping ship, it’s completely acceptable to jump on board with a team that will give you the satisfaction of actually winning a few games. However, this doesn’t give you the right to switch to the next Superbowl Champion just because your new guys didn’t make the playoffs this year. Half the fun of watching sports is trudging through the muck to get where you want to go. It’s just simply not as satisfying to win the “big game” if you’ve only been interested for half the season.

4. Through a series of unexplained quirks in the Constitution, the decision-making process of the Iraq War has fallen to you. You have two choices: Option 1. Leave the troops there for a period of time, to be no fewer than 10 more years, with a death toll eventually reaching past 25,000 U.S. soldiers. However, once it ends, the likelihood of another terrorist attack on U.S. soil decreases to less than 10 percent. Option 2: Bring them home within six months with minimal casualties but face a guaranteed terrorist attack on U.S. soil every year for the next seven years, with a total casualty count unknown but potentially surpassing 9/11 each time.

Which do you choose?

This is remarkably tough, but I do have my answer. If that’s the case, and it’s an either/or situation, then we have no choice but to keep the troops there. I don’t like war, I don’t like it one bit. However, I’m not one of those types that believes that all war is bad. The allies in WWII lost around 61 million people. Think about that number for just a second. In modern times, 61 million people is just something that we can’t even comprehend. However, would anyone doubt that the world is better off now than it would be had the world NOT lost those soldiers?

My main opposition to the War on Terror is a steadfast belief that it’s actually creating more terrorists, further endangering the United States and our allies, and causing massive US casualty numbers in the process. However, give me a rock solid guarantee that this war will will reach a point of finality and actually protect our country and I’m in, lock stock and barrel.

Sacrificing 25,000 US troops is hardly something to be taken lightly, but this is a volunteer army sworn to protect our nation. Losing as many as 2,000 citizens each year on our soil not only risks taking the lives of children and the destruction of our history, but also will lead to such insurmountable paranoia in our country that we may well rip apart at the seams. So, should this ever be the case, there would be no real choice to be made. Although I would likely go mad at the idea of sending 25,000 men and women to their death, it’s a favorable decision to the utter chaos and likely destruction (from the inside) of an entire society.

5. The following is taken from Chuck Klosterman’s brilliant book “Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs.” It’s from a series of questions he asks any potential girlfriend: For reasons that cannot be explained, cats can suddenly read at a twelfth-grade level. They can’t talk and they can’t write, but they can read silently and understand the text. Many cats love this new skill, because they now have something to do all day while they lay around the house; however, a few cats become depressed, because reading forces them to realize the limitations of their existence (not to mention the utter frustration of being unable to express themselves).

This being the case, do you think the average cat would enjoy Garfield, or would cats find this cartoon to be an insulting caricature?

I could see Garfield becoming a bit of a folk hero to cats worldwide. If you’ve ever read the comic strip, then clearly you realize that he’s genuinely the one in charge. He runs Odie into the window, he foils John Arbuckle’s every attempt at a normal life, he ships Nermal off to Abu Dhabi. I’d imagine that cats would see him as an insight into the human psyche, an indicator that we’re not only capable, but willing to be subservient to our new feline overlords.

The truly concerning part of all of this is getting library access to these animals. If books on environmental decay, poaching and so on are disseminated to the African tiger population, we may have a rather violent revolt on our hands. We’re not just worried about your standard, litter box house cat… what happens when wildcats across America discover that their likeness has been abused by professional/collegiate/high school sports teams for years… with no royalties! Just imagine organized gangs of cats, complete with accounting and legal departments seeking revenge.

The truly tragic part of it all being, that with their lack of communication abilities we would never know what hit us until it was too late.

… and that is to say nothing of the cat burglars.

To Recap:

1. Leave me a comment saying “interview me.”
2. I will respond by e-mailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog (so you have to have a blog) with a post containing your answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

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5 Responses to “At the Mercy of Kevin Hall…”

  1. Brinton Says:

    I’m game, interview me.

  2. Kevin Says:

    If I leave a comment on your blog asking to be interviewed, do we just continue repeating the cycle until we die or kill each other?

    Also, for Question No. 3, should one of us just gone right ahead and explicitly addressed Shane in either the question of answer?

  3. shane Says:

    Ha Ha. Go Dolphins….er, I mean Colts…or something.

  4. Zack Says:

    The only good team, as we all know, is the Dallas Cowboys… Flawless team history… flawless.

  5. shane Says:

    Hey Zack…I think you’re right. Maybe I’ll just root for the Cowboys.

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