Previously I extolled the virtue of black music at #32 on the count down. In that post I described rap and hip hop music as embodying a mentality of Arrogance in the face of oppression. That is an appropriate sentiment regarding racial relations in this country for black Americans, but it is also a very relatable sentiment to teenagers of all races because all teenagers feel oppressed by society, and high school, and the legal drinking age etc. I also referenced Rock and Roll music as being about freedom, fast cars, fast women, and the open road. Somewhere in between, these two musical genres spawned a musical movement that never really got a proper genre label, and was housed in the Rock Alternative Radio air space next to Emo and Screamo bands. I am stealing Weird Al Yankovic’s Angry white boy Polka song as inspiration and just calling it angry white boy music.
40 Greatest Influences of the last 40 years #24 The 3rd Triumvirate aka Ben Stull/ Brad Willcuts/Chris Kinman
Today is Ben Stull’s birthday. Unfortunately he isn’t here to celebrate it with us as he passed away a few years back. Going to his funeral a few years back was one of the most surreal and sobering moments of my life. Ben was a good friend and a great person. His birthday seems a fitting day to reflect on him and the close friends he and I shared.
The first time I saw Adam Sandler was actually on that one show about the Huxtable family. He played one of Theo’s friends and I don’t think he had any lines. I didn’t know it was him for years. Somehow got a glorified extra spot on TV’s number one show And did what he did best, make funny faces and act kind kind of awkward trying not to laugh. He was mildly off putting and endearing all at once. That pretty much describes all of his early stand up too. There was kind of a “oh good for him” type of pity to his success. Like Mel Torme’s enthusiasm for Kramer on that episode of Seinfeld when Cosmo accidentally crashed a fundraiser for the handicapped.
40 Greatest Influences of the last 40 years #26 Josh Wolfram/ JC Biagi/ Matt Harri Aka the 2nd Triumvirate
So in my 3 hour ramble about school and teachers, I almost mentioned a conspiracy theory about Mrs Richard and I thought better if it. But today I will tell you that conspiracy theory.
Long story short: I ran for ASB president in high school and Lost.
I know I know, sour grapes right? The loser of an election always claims voter fraud conspiracies (well not always, but it has happened before and it’s definitely going to happen again this year). But to understand my conspiracy suspicions you have to know who I am (or was) and who the other candidates were. And with apologies to Matthew Broderick and Reece Witherspoon, I am going to re-duex the plot of Election which incredibly came out the exact year that this story happened.
In the extremely remote case that anyone reading this was born in this century and doesn’t know, TGIF (Thank God It’s Friday) was a block of family friendly programming on Friday evenings on the ABC television network.
Having grown up in a family of 4 kids born in the 80’s and early 90’s, this was pretty much mandatory viewing. All the shows depicted families of various types dealing with the situations that all families do. I think the block ran until the early 2000s. But I stopped watching around 1995 for very specific reasons I will get to in a moment.
So if there was a glaring omission in my WWCS post about teachers, it was these 3: Mr. Lesko, Mr. Michels, and Mr. Fazzari.
There were some subtle oversights from middle school that I realized upon reflection , the biggest of which was Mr. Poole (god rest his soul), senorita Sarah the 6th grade Spanish teacher who was only there for one year, and the ever popular campus minister Mr. Glatt.
But the 1st Triumvirate were not just teachers, they were my basketball coaches and thus, occupy a completely different sphere of influence in my life. (My apologies to Todd Kimble, who would be Cicero to Caesar, Pompeii and Crassus.)
This is one of the most profound influences on my life. It encompasses many many different people. I thought the effort to write a post long enough to include everyone I wanted would be way too long to expect anyone to read. So I decided to try and just record a video addressing each person quickly off the top of my head. The result is a video so long I had to split it in two. I cover the school system at large in the first, and my graduating class specifically in the 2nd.
Sunday May 31st, 1980, a day that will live in Infamy. This video explains why. Its by the Smithsonian Institute. Its nice and scientific. Educational. Fascinating. Nerdy.
It's like reading a text book.
But wait..... you might ask "you weren't even born until 1981, how could some thing that happened before you were even born be a greatest influence of the last 40 years?"
In the original 30 for 30 I did this as Teddy Riley and Dr. Dre in a tie for #23 on the count down. I still think that Teddy Riley as the poster boy of New Jack Swing and Dr Dre as an emblem for the hip hop of the early 90’s appropriately encapsulates the music that has influenced me. However at this time I want to also acknowledge the heritage of that music back to Motown, funk, classic R and B music etc, as my appreciation for the genres has expanded with age, and, lets be honest, the early 90’s sound was a fad. It has some classic staying power, but it’s all very “dated” and definitely not timeless, where as I would argue much of the black musical heritage that came before it is timeless. And an old skool old soul like me appreciates classic and timeless and tends to ignore and discredit the new and trendy. But not when I was 10 years old.
So as much as I would like to share my many thoughts on the artist’s intentions, motivations and execution of each of my many many favorite songs, I know nobody cares. So I will just link to YouTube videos of my favorite artists and songs from the period and genre. (Your welcome!)
But first I will hazard a brief comment on the elephant in the room, and in current American society......
About the time my baby brother was born my family moved into anew house. In this house I was finally old enough to play outside by myself. The problem was I wasn’t really I to sport or running around outside. I was mostly interested in playing with my He-man toys and Construx. I would remain a bit of a homebody until I broke my leg as shown in the post on #35. But the exception to that rule was Brody Quiggle.
Brody was my neighbor. We had adjoining back yards that we could run back and forth in. I don’t quite know how we met. I kind of think our parents might have done a play date. But You take two 5 year old boys and put them together and they are likely going to be friends. And that is what we were
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