Thursday, January 31, 2008

how soccer explains absolutely, positively everything.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

You'd think that, here at the Collective, all we do is eat, breathe and sleep soccer. Well, we do--sorta. Both my and bsto's homepages are I can't really explain why--I think it's the redcurrant that's easy on the eyes at 7 AM. Oh, and because the site heralds the greatest team on the planet. Yeah, that.


But I digress. Today, I just found some articles that illustrate that, as Franklin Foer's "How Soccer Explains the World"...well, soccer really does explain the world. Well, maybe not explains--but it is a perfect microcosm of the world: xenophobia, sexism and money.

(Sexism: Fifa's prez, Sepp Blatter, said "
"Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. Female players are pretty, if you excuse me for saying so, and they already have some different rules to men - such as playing with a lighter ball. That decision was taken to create a more female aesthetic, so why not do it in fashion?" )


First up: An Iraqi player's work permit was denied because Iraq's national team is not among the top 70 teams in the world.

If one isn't from the European Union, getting a work permit to play professional football in England is incredibly tough (as if being wanted by a club wasn't difficult enough). One must play for a top 70 nation squad and must have featured in at least 75% of his home nation's senior national team games in the last two years.

This has prevented many players from playing in England--especially many Americans. This rule hurts non-EU citizens who are talented but young (Freddy Adu)--these players could be exponentially better if they were training at the academies of one of Europe's best sides. Nothing against the US' facilities (we have the absolute best in the world...and, for this very reason, we will win the World Cup within the next 20 years), but the competition within the US just is not the greatest as of yet.

This rule penalizes not only youngsters but also those not privileged enough to be born in "footballing nations". We want to talk about spreading the wealth and giving people opportunities, yet we close the door on people based on the fact that they were weren't born within the right imaginary, arbitrary country line. Absolutely absurd.


Next: Howard University's coach was busted in a teenage sex trap. Once your sport reaches To Catch a Predator know you've hit the big time.

I know, there's nothing funny about soliciting a minor. There isn't. But the cat stuff? AND THE COP DRESSED AS A SHRUB?


Ok, on a semi-serious note, if you haven't already taken our advice and started to read the Guardian's Soccer coverage daily, start doing so. Even if you don't care about transfers or scores or the table or anything, they've got a staff of great writers who talk about the cultural implications of the sport on a daily basis.

Case in point: How Football Can Explain the US Elections.

Sure, maybe you don't need it if you're a politics-following American, but I sure found it insightful and enlightening.

On a similar note, the venerable Economist has taken on American football v. international football
on many occasions.

And it has also been rebuffed.


Cheers--two days left in the week!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Greatest YouTube Soccer Goals: International

This is a list I've been wanting to compile for some time: the greatest internet searchable soccer goals since 98.

For this post, though, here's 25 great international goals from YouTube. Obviously the majority will be from major teams in major tournaments, and most from the top of my head--I'm sure some cat from United Arab Emirates or another insignificant soccer country scored some great goal in the past 10 years, but bummer.

If you want to suggest others, post via the comments. If you have questions on context or anything about the games themselves, ask via the comments.

Please keep in mind that the YouTube versions are often grainy on first view--you sometimes have to wait for the instant replays to get a real look at the goals.


1- H. Larsson v Bulgaria in Euro 04

2- Z. Ibrahimavic v Italy in Euro 04


3- J. Cole v Sweden in WC 06

4- Becks v Greece in 01 qualifier

5- M. Owen v Argentina in WC 98


6-L. Figo v England in Euro 00

7- Maniche v Holland in Euro 04

9- Rui Costa v England in Euro 04


10- T. Rosicky v USA in WC 06

11- M. Baros vs Holland in Euro 04 (go to 2:05)


12- P. Lahm v Costa Rica in WC 06


13- F. Torres v Ukraine in WC 06

14- Torres v Tunisia in WC 06 (bonus: best celebration award)


15- T. Henry v Ireland in World Cup 2006 Qualifier

16- D. Trezeguet v Italy in Euro 2000 final

17- Z. Zidane v England in Euro 2004


18- M. Rodriguez v Mexico in WC 06 (best goal on this list?)


20- R. Van Nistlerooy v Germany in Euro 04

21- P. Kluivert v Brasil in WC 98 (justification: most aesthetic slow motion replay)


22- R. Baggio v Brasil in WC 98 Final

haha, sorry I couldn't resist

22- G. Zambrotta v Ukraine in WC 06


23- Ronaldinho v England in WC 02

24- Rivaldo v England in WC 02

25- Ronaldinho v Haiti in friendly

Friday, January 25, 2008

skip bayless (idiot), rick majerus (hero), the super bowl xlii (incredibly captivating yet exceptionally disappointing)

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

The following are all quotes collected from Skip Bayless over the last two days on "First and Ten" (which is a dismal show simply because he is on it. however, espn is the channel my tv is permanently on--unless, of course, "the simpsons" is on)

Bayless "The NBA MVP should go to the best player on the best team, so, since the Suns are first in the West right now, I say give it to Steve Nash. I don't know him personally or know his politics or care for his politics... and I don't care what color he is"

First off, the MVP should never be about the best player on the best team. It should ALWAYS be about the most valuable player to his or her own team. I don't even think Steve Nash is the Suns' most valuable player this season. It's idiots like Bayless who prevent Kobe from winning the MVP. Kobe was the sole reason that his team made the play-offs last year, yet absolute idiots like Bayless can't see that. By his own logic, Tim Duncan should be the NBA's MVP. WRONG.

And, I mean, he just defended himself for absolutely nothing. Nobody said you knew him or cared about his politics. But to say "it doesn't matter what color he is"? ...uhhh...really. You're really going there after all the tension over race and Catholicism as of late?


"Terrell Owens just isn't a premier wide receiver. He should not be the focal point of any offense because he just isn't that good. Four catches in a play-off game?"

What about Randy Moss, ass? How many catches did he have this weekend? Two? Six? Give me a break. Are you not going to build your offense around Moss either? Look, these guys are winners. There is not another wide receiver more talented than these two in the league (outside of Chad Johnson).

Bayless said "Having these guys is just not good business. They're cancers in the locker room."

That's cancerous? "That's my teammate...that's my quarterback. And if you guys do that, man, it's unfair. We lost as a team". I don't think I've seen defense of any teammate that was that poignant or heartfelt ever. I would not hesitate to sign Terrell Owens as the cornerstone of my offense. Yes, he's 34. I'd give him a two-year deal in a heartbeat.

Wait, it gets better.

"Wes Welker should have been a first-team Pro Bowl pick. Terrell Owens should not have been"

First of all, they don't even play in the same conference, so this entire argument is null. Secondly, I was going to write the other day how much I love Wes Welker (because I really do..he's scrappy and a gamer). But, come on--would anyone on the planet say that Welker is a better football player than Owens?

No. Not even my non-football watching sister. Because if you have access to the internet or a television or to other people in general, you would kind of just know that Owens is a better football player than Welker.

"This is not fantasy football here. The touchdowns get overrated".

Yeah. Because the best way to score in football is overrated.


Bayless: "The Cavs are the best team in the east. their supporting cast went 27-for-34 last night (two nights ago). They have the best player and the best supporting players in the East"


Does Bayless hear the stuff he says? The barometer, for me, if you really believe in your picks is if you're willing to go to Vegas to bet on them (I can now do this legally, mind you). Would Bayless go to Vegas and put money on the Cavs beating the Celtics in a seven-game series? If he would, I have a bridge in New York that I'd like to sell him.

And, even though he lives in New York, I'm sure he'd be dumb enough to buy it.


And before I get on to the Super Bowl, I want to talk about Rick Majerus. He hasn't had the best month, has he? First, his Billikens somehow managed to not only lose to the Karl Hobbs coached GWU (how anyone can lose to a Karl Hobbs coached team is beyond me), but they managed to score only 20 points in the loss (and the funnier thing is that GW could only manage 49 points. GW is said to like to run and not play in half-court sets, and yet against a DISMAL team that could only manage TWENTY points, GW failed to break 50 points).

Then, at a Democratic Convention, Majerus came out as being "pro-choice". The city of St. Louis' archbishop lambasted Majerus for doing so and called for St. Louis University, a Catholic institution, to punish Majerus.

The archbishop essentially wants Majerus punished for exercising his right as an American to not only have an opinion that diverges from faith but also for expressing it. Majerus describes himself as a Catholic, an I'm sure the archbishop feels that every last pope is rolling over in his grave over the notion that a Catholic has a thought that is different from the Church's official party line. Some may say Majerus is a representative of the university, but that DOES NOT mean that he has to become a Catholic rhetoric spewing automatron. Fine university's are supposed to foster free speech and academic discussion and discourse--and I am pleased that St. Louis University has yet to (at least publicly) denounce Majerus for having an opinion of his own.

And, a non-sequitur: Once, while Majerus was still the coach of the University of Utah basketball team, my family and I were going to California and Majerus was leaving Hawaii. He booked a full row of seats for himself (in coach, mind you) and laid out. Even though they were still a huge WAC foe at the time, I got his autograph and took his picture.

Now, on to the Super Bowl.

Like bsto, I also hate those pink Red Sox hats.

But, I can't stand peyton. I read GQ every month (for the articles), and I've become somewhat of a Tom Brady fan boy. This may portray me as a "looks over personality" guy--which would be an absolute lie. Tom Brady is more handsome. Fact. But we have NO IDEA how funny the guy is--he's never been given a chance. We can, though, compare him to Peyton Manning based on looks--because we all know what these guys look like.


No contest.

OK, fine. You want to talk about it in a purely football sense? I'm not going to lie, I love the New England patriots' spread offense--it's pretty much Hawaii's run-and-shoot modified for the pros.

But, I just don't know if I want them to go undefeated. I could care less about the Giants--they play in my beloved Redskins' NFC East, but they're just too boring to even root against. And, the fact of the matter is that the Patriots DID cheat--they did something that was against the rules. By the very definition of cheating, they're in the wrong.

What would my ideal Super Bowl have entailed? The Packers vs. the Patriots. A showdown between Big City Boston and Small Town America. And, as Big City as I am, I wanted Brett Favre to just light up the Patriots and be named the MVP. But, Favre, being the absolute BA that he is, would have already left the stadium and would not haven hoisted up the Super Bowl trophy--no, he would have already been in his pickup, on the way back to Mississippi. It's not because I want average, small town America to win; no, it's because I want Boston to lose.

I'm sick of Boston being so good at everything. Like bsto said--the Revs were in the MLS final. The Red Sox seem to win every other year now. The Bruins aren't as bad as they were in recent years...and the Celtics are going to win the NBA Championship this year (probably).

And, as much as I love Pburg, I really can't stand most of his brethren at GW--the kids who love the Sox (and show this by wearing pink Red Sox caps) and are now wearing Patriots gear. Yes, you're supposed to love your hometown team--but man, there were so many kids from the Northeast that I just got sick. I felt like I went to UMass or Tufts most of the time.

In short, I've never been to Boston, but I actually kinda sorta hate it. This isn't really a unique phenomenon at the Collective--bsto has never been to New York City, but I don't think anyone on the planet despises it more than he.

What do I want to happen in the Super Bowl? Well, I want both teams to lose, but this isn't possible*. I also want the Packers to win, but this isn't possible either. Really, I guess I just don't care. That isn't to say that I'm not going to watch (it is going to be a captivating affair) and that isn't to say that I don't already know the outcome (Patriots 24-21 Giants). I'm not even that blase about the game--I'm just really nonplussed about either outcome.

I just hope it doesn't go to overtime. The NFL play-off system is so laughably bad that I can't help but feel terrible for both teams involved. Even if the Yankees somehow found themselves in overtime in the NFL (somehow, again), I would actually feel a tiny pang in my heart for them...maybe even for Manchester United (I'm not losing my edge--overtime in the NFL is just that bad).

And bsto, you should be ashamed for even considering to speak fondly of Peyton Manning. In case you forgot, he led he Colts to victory against your Bears last year in the Super Bowl.


*-If this were international soccer/football, of course, a tie would be completely possible AND plausible. If this were just a game during a regular season and it just so happened hat both of these teams were vying for the top spot and they ended up drawing, IMAGINE the controversy that would arise: the Patriots would win the title based on point differential. IMAGINE how long it would take Skip Bayless to figure out point differential, and then IMAGINE how how ridiculous the remarks he would have to make about the entire process would be.

And, of course, if it were the final of a tournament in the international soccer system and the teams were tied, they could have a shoot-out. IMAGINE a field goal shoot-out. How amazing would that be?

Why am I not the commissioner of the NFL?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Why I Won't Do Foreign Policy; Part Infinity

When the border between Gaza and Egypt was blown up yesterday, Gazans streamed in from all over the territory to get supplies from Egypt that have been lacking in Gaza. In case you forgot, Hamas took over Gaza in summer and since then (because Hamas has sworn to wipe Israel off the map) Israel has maintained a rather tight watch on Gaza's borders.

This Winter, just after Peace talks between Israel and Palestinians at Annapolis and just before high level talks between Egypt and Israel, Egypt let open their border with Gaza. This pissed Israel off big time because of how carefully they've been monitoring Gaza's borders--it's all for naught if people know they can get in to Gaza no problem via Egypt.

Anyway, since the summer there's been a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. I don't flinch in using the term CRISIS, what is outrageous is that the media is using it so crazily right now when the issue has been ongoing since the summer.

You see (as I wrote here and here , while it was happening), Israel is in an impossible position because if it allows excessive supplies and food and whatever into Gaza this would avoid a humanitarian issue but it would also buttress a regime (Hamas) that has vowed to destroy Israel; not to mention that the Gaza government and economy is corrupt and plutocratic and most of these supplies would be hoarded by the people up top anyway. If, on the other hand, Israel only lets in a small amount of supplies and food and whatever then it not only begins a humanitarian crisis, it also provides Hamas with ample propaganda fodder: there goes Israel, persecuting us again, now it's a siege!

So Israel decided to go with the latter decision and it has taken some real media flack for it--and for good reason because people are truly suffering in Gaza.

Now, last week Israel tightened the border even more because of increased rocket attack from Gaza into neighboring Israeli towns like Sderot. This is what started the most recent media deluge of humanitarian crisis articles, which are really quite pathetic considering, as I said, the crisis has been ongoing for months!

Then, yesterday, the border is breached.

And here's why I would never mess around in Foreign Policy: no matter what Israel does at this point, they're totally screwed. I'm not saying the country's integrity is in danger or anything like that but the fact is that this war is primarily a media war and, at least in regards to Gaza, it has become increasingly difficult for Israel to establish a good-looking position in this affair.

I'm not even mentioning what this will do to Israeli-Egypt relations! Jeeze.

(For follow-up, here's the anti-Hamas editorial by the Washington Post.)

Why the Pats Should Lose the Super Bowl

Here are some reasons why I think the Pats ought to lose. Mind you, they are not football reasons but rather personal, almost arbitrary, spiteful reasons. (We'll reserve any such actual analysis for the real Super Bowl week, seriously, why are there two weeks of buildup? what a disaster.)

-- Boston is killing in all sports except hockey. The Revs made it to the MLS Final, the Celtics are the team to beat in the East, and the Red Sox won the World Series.

-- Bill Belichick is a cheater.

-- Just to get at all those annoying Red Sox fans who wear pink abominations of their teams' jerseys. And those damn pink Red Sox hats. I hate those.

--Because even though so many people seem to call out Peyton Manning for being on TV and having so many ads (I'm talking about you, Bill Simmons) while Tom Brady is not only in as many ads but in grosser ones: here and here. I prefer Peyton's humor to Brady's good looks any day.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

don't quit your day job!

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Another illustration of the gap between funding of collegiate sports:
The San Diego City College baseball team caught the Honolulu's TheBus from Waikiki to Waipahu because they couldn't afford a van or charter bus.

I hope people stepped up and gave them rides. We always talk about the "Aloha Spirit"--but people often come up pretty short.

And when your son doesn't have your back, you should really reconsider your priorities. My favorite quote?
"I don't think 9/11 was right personally," he said. "I don't agree with 9/11 or with any war where only civilians are dying."

Check out Consequence's "Don't Quit Your Day Job" if you get a chance. Dude was on a ton of A Tribe Called Quest tracks, and now he's on Kanye's "Good Music" label...and, to top it all off...he's Q Tip's cousin. The beats on the album are really laid back and keyboard and guitar driven--it's a really great rap record to put on if you're trying to unwind.

Consequence "Job Song"

How I get stuck in this dead end job when I can rap?
But of course my bill collectors they ain't trying to hear that"

Consequence "Disperse"

Kanye West, Consequence and DJ Khaled "Grammy Family"

Kanye's verse is problematic here--especially because of all the anti-homophobic remarks he makes in the media. You're really gonna drop that f bomb here, 'Ye (well, not in this version, but it's easy enough to find).

Consequence and Kanye West "The Good, the Bad, the Ugly"

Enjoy your Tuesday! You're almost 2/5 done with the work week!

Monday, January 21, 2008


(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

The Associated Press is already working on Britney Spears' obituary. Kinda bogus, no? It's like saying "we have so little faith in your decision making skills that we've decided that it's more important to write an article talking about your life than to actually have someone write a timely story."

A Japanese kid tried to pull something we all dreamed of in middle school but never had the guts to do. I think someone watched a bad dub of Ferris Bueller's Day Off way too often.

Watching the NFC and AFC Championships yesterday, I really wondered if I prefer the American playoff system or the sort of international "table" system--the one that most professional soccer leagues use abroad. To determine the champion of these leagues, each team plays every other team home-and-away over the course of the season. The team with the most wins/draws wins--without a playoff.

The international system rewards consistent play over the course of a grinding season. The American playoff rewards teams that are playing the best at any given time--though the teams do have to play consistent enough to make it to said playoffs.

Many say that America has the aforementioned playoff system because we haven't got the attention span for a "table" system--that the table system is just not exciting enough. I don't know how I feel, though I will say the most aggravating (and yet oddly exciting) system is the two-legged aggregate system.


Any does anyone else think that the Cincinnati Bengals have the most ridiculous uniform in sports? I mean, I sat down and thought about it--they have actual tiger stripes on their shirts and pants. If these were children going to trick-or-treat, we'd say "How cute! They're football tigers!"

But these are grown men.

I guess growing up doesn't mean making better fashion decisions, does it?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Beat Vent

Last night I heard famous academic Kevin Starr lecture on Jack Kerouac's connection to Catholicism. What follows are my ruminations on the spiritual path of Jack and other beats.

I, like many youths, went through a rather intense beat-reading period in my life. I read the first two of the Kerouac trilogy (On the Road, Dharma Bums, and Big Sur) dreamed of boxcar-ing, bus-ing, or bumming my way across the country, doing stimulants, having sex without recourse, and straight up digggging everything. I also went through a non-fiction phase, buying two books by acclaimed beat biographer Anne Charters among other books through which I sought to get a better idea of who these writers really were, even outside of their fictional avatars. Of course I know that I’m no expert or scholar on the beats, but I do feel that I have a coherent opinion regarding the general (to clump them together is a crime, I know) beat path to happiness.

This path to happiness was the general point of Starr's lecture, which turned out to be sponsored by a Catholic organization. Thankfully, there was little proselytizing. He mentioned Jack’s French Catholic background early and often and pointed to areas in the works where Jack mentions his spirituality, feels especially holy, or alludes to some kind of final happiness. Even though I know that Starr is by no means the first to make this connection, the argument is, in my non-expert opinion, a huge stretch.

The seeking for spiritual, all inclusive happiness is a foolish enterprise. Certainly even some corrupt Catholic clergymen know that immediate satisfaction and simpler pleasures have worth, even if they do not exactly display that acknowledgment prominently. Ginsberg recognized this fact, I think, as did Ferlinghetti—Neal Cassidy did not. And see who lived incredibly long lives: the beats who lived within the system while recognizing the spiritual and the infinite.

It is no different than someone seeking happiness, even contentment, in something singular, permanent, static—-it’s impossible, frustrating, and often fatal. There are few people who survive this pursuit so extensively, with intense, passionate, happiness-seeking more often than not destructive, turning into an all-or-nothing gamble (especially in a depressive alcoholic like Jack).

Christ is Buddha is the Great Mother is the inner, inner-thing. The journey to find it is itself dangerous but locate it, like facing God straight eye-to-eye, and you’ll end up a small pile of dust. Your bones disintegrate and your journey is over. Alas, Jack thought he saw God everywhere—-and his journey ended with as much grinding and crushing as is needed to turn bones to dust.

Further, Jack’s exultation of sin is subtle! It’s by extension. Things he digs, things he finds holy—-this is where he finds God. And more often than not these things are also often sinful. Alcohol/drug abuse, unrestricted sex with whatever gender, abandoning his child and wife, just to name a few examples. Moreover, these discoveries were often emotion-based and immediate, not discernibly tied to any of the traditionally austere and infinite Catholic versions of the path to happiness.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

so it's come to this.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Steroids have been a hot topic here at the Collective--and Congress' hearing on MLB and steroids starts tomorrow (and can be seen on ESPN).

Who would have thought it would extend beyond sports? Well, it has.

Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent, Timbaland, Wyclef Jean and Tyler Perry have all been connected with steroids. And why not? They really are performance enhancing drugs--and it's not just athletes who have to "perform", right?

Maybe Fat Joe was right two years ago when he said that 50 Cent was on steroids.
"Them steroids is getting to him," Joe said. "He ain't built like that. These dudes is hilarious to me."

I feel like everyone is doing steroids these days. Athletes. Musicians. Actors. The guy who runs the convenience store down the street. Am I the only one not doing them? Are steroids the new cigarettes? The new cocaine? Are they that in vogue?

It's only a matter of time before we see teachers being tested not only for illegal recreation drugs, but for performance enhancing drugs as well. That's probably a gold mine right there--who could seriously keep up with a bunch of seven-year-olds for nine months straight?

Not me...well, not without steroids or HGH, anyway.

Monday, January 14, 2008

where art thou rom(e)o?

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

I'm assuming that, if you're an American male, you had the two NFL playoff games on at LEAST in the background today.

A lot has already been made about the "upsets" of the Chargers beating the Colts and the Giants beating the Cowboys. Let me just say that the Chargers already beat the Colts earlier in the season and that the Cowboys beat the Giants twice--and, as most sports pundits will tell you, it's nearly impossible to beat the same team three times in one season.

But I want to focus the attention on Terrell Owens crying. Here is a man constantly berated in the press...and a man who attempted suicide. He's really going to bat for his quarterback..

and he's right. "It's not about Tony". It's the entire team. I was going to write the post about "hey, I want to get it out there...'so what do we make of Tony going to Mexico' "

Want my honest answer? Nothing. We make nothing of it. So many players go to Vegas during the week. Tom Brady lives in New York City during the week. Why does it matter that Tony Romo went to Mexico? I'm sure other players went to Mexico at some point this year with their girlfriends (and people forget that Jason Whitten was also on this Mexico trip), and nothing is being made of that.

Is it because of the fact that Romo's girlfriend is Jessica Simpson? Probably. Is this fair? No. It really doesn't matter who you go to Mexico with--you're still in Mexico. Being with Jessica Simpson makes the trip no more dramatic or tiring than going with anyone else, and we seem to be forgetting that.

I can't say I mind, though. I really dislike the Giants and the Cowboys (being a 'Skins fan), so it just doesn't matter. I want a Packers-Patriots Super Bowl, and I want Favre to win it and pull an Elway.

Maybe that's just me, though.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

nothing pressing.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Spin Magazine was hugely influential in my introduction to music. Unfortunately, they really jumped the shark a few years back, and I really haven't read it in years.

While at the airport, waiting for my flight back to LA, I saw Kanye and Daft Punk on the magazine's cover. Since they were two artists who I enjoy quite a bit, I decided to pick the magazine up. "Maybe they've got back on track", I thought.

I was wrong.

The writing was still terrible, and I had three main gripes that underline how terrible the magazine remains:

a) no Jens Lekman on the top 40 albums of last year? But you've got Rilo Kiley's "Under the Blacklight" at number 40 and Against Me!'s "New Wave" at number one?

b) Simian v. Justice had a song in the top ten song of the year--for "We Are Your Friends". This song won the European VMA for Video of the Year last year--and was the award that made Kanye rush the stage and freak out. Spin actually wrote about this exact freak out a few pages later. The song was from 2006, NOT 2007.

c) The biggest song of the year--Justice's "D.A.N.C.E." was not in the top twenty songs of 2007. I'm not trying to be a snob, but this just plainly illustrates that Spin has completely inept music writers.


And speaking of jumping the shark, have a look at Ayumi Hamasaki. Her first three albums rival Radiohead's "The Bends-OKC-Kid A" as my favorite run of three great consecutive albums by bands not called the Beatles.

She's become really laughable--she wears her Mariah Carey love on her sleeve way too obviously (the best song on her newest album, "Guilty", is called "MY ALL") and it's really unfortunate, because I really love her first three albums. They're excellently written and the aesthetic is sort of the same as M.I.A.'s "Arular"--it was done before either was really a big artist and before they had a conscious of who they were and how they were perceived by the world at large.

My last trip marked the first time I didn't buy a single Ayumi album (she usually has one come out the week I'm there)--and, in fact, I didn't buy a single japanese album during my entire stay. I don't know whether I should be proud or ashamed.

Friday, January 11, 2008

I got off the bus and had immediately had to dodge a camel

I got off the bus and had immediately had to dodge a camel, coming from my right, against the direction of the bus. I guess, like joggers, it’s safer for camels to go against traffic. Anyway I didn’t see it and it almost ran me over. Once past me, its driver (or whatever you call the person sitting on top) spit to his right. It was like a honk, only a bit delayed, and wetter.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

in a little while.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

I drove around Honolulu on New Years Eve. After stopping off at my uncle's home, I went to a friend's gathering, and it was a lot of fun.

But it's strange. My family doesn't really do anything at midnight, while all of my friends have to be home to spend it together. This doesn't make me sad nor does it make me happy--it's the way it has always been and it's quite comforting, actually. I've grown up spending New Years with music, and I've become very familiar with it.

And this fact itself is curious, especially when my only real resolution is to leave 2007 in 2007. 2007 was a really big year for me. I loved and lost. I grew up. It's just the weirdest time. I made a lot of big decisions and made a lot of huge changes.

So I drove around town, listening to "Music Sounds Better With You" and Jens Lekman and the Junior Boys and, as my own personal New Years tradition requires, Ayumi Hamasaki.

It was oddly and cheesily symbolic, I think. In case you haven't visited Hawaii on New Years, it's really a different world. The streets are chaotic and field with drunken revelers armed with arsenals of aerial fireworks. I drove through the suburban war zone in my mom's tank of a van, through columns of heavy smoke that found its way into the car's ventilation system.

Of course I'm going to say that the music synced perfectly with the splatters of streaks of light emitted by the fireworks and that it was disconcertingly disarming. I feel like I've been everywhere. I feel more connected with everyone in my life than ever before, and I'm really happy about this.

And right then, the two things that I wanted for 2008 hit me: to have no regrets and to leave 2007 behind.

I don't mean "have no regrets" as in living for myself and being unapologetic--no, it's quite the opposite, actually. I realize I've made a lot of mistakes in my life that have not only reflected poorly upon my own judgment, but these mistakes have also caused me to hurt a lot of really good people that care about me. I want to make the right decisions from the start so that I don't have that feeling when I look in the mirror of dread. I don't want to shudder when I think about certain things that I've done.

And though 2007 was a great year, I want it left where it was. I closed it out the way it needed to be finished. I tied up the loose ends that I needed to sew up and I did close the book on a lot of things that needed to come to a conclusion. I don't want to dwell or live in the past--I've done a lot of really cool things and met a lot of great people, and I want to continue that in 2008.

I want to be less guarded and I want to put myself out there more.

And I want everyone that I care about to know I love them. I haven't really been someone to talk about how I feel, and a lot of people I really care about don't know how strongly I feel about them.

And I don't know what's harder--having these sort of goals or goals that are easily achievable but won't be met (like losing ten pounds). My resolutions are sort of like the war in Iraq--there's no real benchmark for success, but there's sort of an esoteric one.

I think it all boils down to being a better person.

So, cheers, then: to being a better person in 2008--and beyond.

I let this sit for awhile, and in less than two hours, I turn 21. I become an adult, and these are less New Years Resolutions than they are things I'd like to work on for the rest of my life.

I'm happy with the direction in which I am progressing. I know I have a long way to go, but I know I'm moving forward.

And that's the most important thing: progress.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

goodbye, june.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

In case you haven't already heard, the University of Hawaii's football coach, June Jones, has taken the head coaching job at Southern Methodist University. His contract will run for five years and will pay him around $2 million annually.

I'm not going to go into what he did for the UH football program--because it is immeasurable in wins and losses. I can say that my dad and I were there when the team went 0-12 before June and lost 19 in a row over the span of two seasons.

Listening to Hawaii sports radio about it is making me sick. Leading up to the Sugar Bowl, you would have thought that 100,000 people have been lifelong season ticket holders. Everyone was suddenly there, like James Murphy in "Losing My Edge".

But that's not the issue at hand. This season was a storybook one--the team went 12-0 and got into the Sugar Bowl. The state was more or less shut down. People wore green every day. People are still wearing their Sugar Bowl t-shirts. I was offered $100 for my fitted UH New Era by a man on the street. This team united the state. I got calls from every time zone after every win. My dad and I were living this strange dream--0-12 seemed so long ago. He and I lived through UH sports--we flirted with the idea of going to see UH play Xavier in Dallas when they had their Cinderella run and somehow managed to win the WAC Tournament and got into March Madness in 2002.

UH's entire run brought up so many pressing issues. The first, obviously, is that the BCS simply does not work. I have a strange conundrum--I go to a school with one of the most storied programs in football history. Top five football schools? Michigan, Notre Dame, Alabama, Ohio State and USC.

And the BCS school's get paid double what UH do--even though they play in games of the same ilk. It's hard hearing your own dad talk about how it's really unfair that your alma mater--the school his paycheck goes to--gets double what UH gets...the school that he lives and dies for. My dad and I bleed green. UH sports were a pivotal point in my childhood. And, really, to hear my childhood brushing up with my adulthood is really strange.

There was a brief, fleeting period in time where USC could have theoretically played UH. My dad said "there's no way you're cheering against UH". I told him "yeah, but I go to USC" and he said "but you're from Hawaii and will always be from Hawaii". And, really, I am. I live and breathe and bleed green. I cared way more about UH this year. I read every Honolulu Advertiser story about every UH sporting event. That's all we have, really--UH.

And I think that's why it's so hard to see June go.


My mom told me that my dad had written three emails to June Jones--the first pleading him to stay, the second asking him to reconsider his move to resign, and the last lambasting him for taking the SMU job.

I came home last night and talked to my dad about it, and he couldn't get further than saying "June is a dick" with his eyes welling up with tears I have never seen him cry before. It's strange--my father is easygoing and doesn't get emotional about much...but he was livid when my mom showed him the picture of June holding up the SMU jersey. "Take that down," he said, "it's making me sick".

And I know where it's coming from. I sat with him in 1998 as the team wentwinless. We went to every excruciating game.

All my dad asks for is heart. It's all he's ever asked for, even from my siblings and I. "At least they play hard. At least they have character. At least they have heart", and I think, somehow, that's saying something about he and I actually going. We've been through UH basketball seasons when the team is absolutely dismal--like this year--and his mantra is the same. "If they're going to show up to play, I'm going to show up to watch. I owe them that, at least"

I guess it's fitting that he's dealt with hearts all of his professional life.

And with every game we won this year, I'd get a call from him to talk about the game. I'm a pragmatic person because of my parents--and I don't think my father and I really thought that the team would go undefeated. Not because we didn't want them to and not because we didn't think that the team wasn't great and not because the competition wasn't lousy--but because we'd been there for the losses. We knew how hard it was to not lose a game.

Of course, the team pulled out all of these amazing victories, and, there we were--in the Sugar Bowl. As he game started, I don't think my dad and I really believed what we were seeing in all of its HD glory--UH playing in a BCS bowl game, on New Years, and at somewhere that was not Aloha Stadium. And, of course, the game got out of hand, and yet, there we sat, for its duration, both believing that they'd pull it out.

It would have been one thing if that's how the year ended. Of course, though, a more complete destruction had to happen for such a beautiful ascension. It did.

It was public knowledge that June Jones and the players wanted better facilities. It was public knowledge that he offered to take a pay-cut to get the assistant coaches he wanted--only to be turned down.

It's public knowledge that Herman Frazier is inept. The man made a mess out of letting Riley Wallace (the men's basketball coach) go and procrastinated with the hiring of the new basketball coach. His attempts at scheduling are laughable at best and pathetic at worst...and he frequently failed to offer Jones an extension. Yes, June said he didn't want to talk contracts during the season, but why not sign June to an extension before the season starts? It's mind-boggling, really, just how poor of an AD Frazier is.

Read this article and try not to feel sick to your stomach, even if you are not a UH fan. It's just really disgusting.

And with all of the disdain June had for Frazier, the email he sent to Frazier was frank while being cordial. It was the nicest break-up letter ever--he even made a short list of new lovers...err, coaches.

But June never said "it's not you, it's me"...because it was Frazier. And as angry as my dad was last night, saying it was all about money...he said today, that he knows, in his heart of hearts, that June did the right thing.

Next year's team is going to struggle mightily. It's recruiting season, and UH does not even have an athletic director--therefore, a coach isn't even on the horizon at the present.

It's going to be interesting to see just who the real fans are next year, though. Everyone showed up when the men's basketball team upset Kansas...but no one is going to the games this year.

I know my dad will be there, though...and I can tell he loves Hawaii more than most people do, because he's always there. The team can be lousy, but it's their Hawaii hearts that count.

"Records..wins and losses...they don't say anything about people," my dad says.

But knowing real, actual people who said before the season that the team was terrible and that going 0-12 was just a stupid idea and a joke, and them seeing in pictures rushing the field after the Boise State and Washington wins just makes me sick.

I'd rather have a lousy UH with real fans than all of these people who claim to have been fans "since forever". You have no right to care what June does--you didn't for all these years.

"It says a lot more to show up when you're losing than to sing when you're winning...after the party, someone's still got to clean up"

You couldn't be more right, dad.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Transportation Tracks

I put together a short (20ish mins.) mix with biking or walking around in mind.

Here's the link.


Track list:

rankin no 1. (latyrx)
e=mc2 (j dilla)
get a hold (tribe)
he say she say (lupe)
the strain (blockhead)
big bang (aesop)
why ya wanna get funkee (del)
aerodynamic--slum village remix (daft)
don't say nothin (roots)
a weird kanye, chem bros thingy
friction (greenhouse)
ride for my n*ggaz (weezy)

something to do with my hands.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

When you've flown thirty hours over the course of two days and drive around Honolulu all day running errands, you listen to a lot of music...well, at least if you're me. And, I'm starting to notice little things that I never really heard before in songs that stuck out. These aren't just good songs--they're songs that struck me as problematic and worthy of discussion.

First things first, though--if you ever find yourself in Honolulu doing a lot of driving, plug in
the Sea and Cake. I mean, them and Pavement are the two best summer bands, and it's permasummer here anyway (though it's sort of like Asian summer monsoon season during the winter) and there's nothing better than the breezy Sea and Cake.


First up is Common's "I Used to Love H.E.R."
I posted this video as a song that I got hooked on last year.

However, there is a huge irony, of course...and it parallels Common's own career. He speaks about how "the girl" (hip hop) changes who she is and sells out and spreads herself too thin.
And, uh...this is exactly what Common is doing.

He raps:

"Now I see her in commercials, shes universal

She used to only swing it with the inner-city circle

Now she be in the burbs lickin rock and dressin hip

Tellin me sad stories, now she only fucks with the funk
Stressin how hardcore and real she is
She was really the realest, before she got into showbiz"

And BEFORE you say Common doesn't "pop glocks, serve rocks and hit switches", in Kanye's "Get 'Em High", Common raps " You'se a b*tch I got ones that are thicker than you". I know Jay-Z raps the same line in "Takeover" (substituting "money stacks" for "ones"), but get real, Common. You pulled exactly what you preached against in what is arguably your biggest hit ever.


While I'm preaching about Common, let's talk about his boy, Kanye West. On
"All Falls Down" 'Ye raps "I can't even pronounce nothing, pass that Versace!" (intentionally mispronouncing "Versace"). There isn't really irony coming up, but I think I'm focusing on his evolution and ascension to the "upper class"

And, finally, on the track "Champion" off of the magnificent "Graduation", he raps "I shop so much I can speak Italian"

He went from not being able to pronounce the name of an esteemed Italian fashion house to becoming a Louis Vuitton Don to being fluent in the language. I mean, other than his lines like "She got a light skinned friend looks like Michael Jackson/Got a dark skinned friend looks like Michael Jackson", this is what makes Kanye great--constant revisiting and reinterpretation of themes.


Robin Thicke "Wanna Love U Girl"
I really disliked this guy when he first came out. This was the first single off of his latest album "The Evolution of Robin Thicke", but it bombed so badly that people thought that "Lost Without U" was the first single. "Lost Without U" was the first song off the album that I heard, and it was absolute trash. "Wanna Love U Girl" is great for many reasons--the Neptunes are the most on they've been production-wise for years, Pharrell's rap is short and sweet, and the song sounds lovey-dovey and swoons to women. The fact of the matter, though? It's really misogynistic. Not totally, of course, but the thought is there.

He does sing:

She's the kinda girl you wanna marry
The kinda girl you walk the whole earth for
Put her on your back and just carry
Her attitude is hotter than the earth's core
When she's around nothing else matters
Untouchable she's got her own forcefield"

but then, he goes on to say

Sooner or later someone will get at her
If I don't someone else will"

So, basically, Thicke wants to date her because someone else "will get at her". So, she's all those things--a girl you wanna marry--but the only reason to really go after her is because someone else may get her? Women aren't objects--but Thicke thinks they are and women buy it coming from his mouth.

Then, there's this gem:
And now my life is sweeter than berries
I guess if we have sex our love will turn to wine"

First off, I've never heard anyone describe their life as "sweeter than berries". Did he come up with this just to finish the "sex turning our love into wine" symbol? Because, seriously--most berries are notorious for their sour nature.

And, this:
If I turn my back then someone will get at her
If I don't someone else will"

So, uh, pay attention to your girl because if you don't, someone else will.

I love how Pharrell finishes off his rap, with the line "
How this sound: Mr. & Mrs. Skateboard P". Dude, you're 34. Enough said.


Lastly, for those of you not really fond of rap (I get sick of it myself), here's Don Henley's "Boys of Summer"

This is one of those songs I grew up with. My parents don't really like The Eagles, but for some reason, hearing this song reminds me of driving around Maryland (where I lived until I was four) during the summer. And, when you're four, you don't really think about song lyrics--you think about sounds that the singer makes that you love. For me, it was when Henley sang "you got your hair combed back/and your sunglasses on baby", just because he contorted his voice so strangely to my toddler ears.

And when the Ataris made it a minor alternapoppunkrock hit a few years back, I didn't really think about it either.
But really, this song is massively messed up. The song's protagonist loves this girl even though she fools around with the "boys of summer" (I wish there was a term for these like there was for "snowbirds"), and he says he'll wait as long as it'll take. I mean, that's romantic, and maybe he really does love her...but, come on, man. She's fooling around on you, and you're just the safe, fall-back guy that's nothing more than a friend. You really want a girl who puts you away for the newer toys? I dunno, maybe it's just me, but I don't want to play second-fiddle to any other boys. And do you really want to love someone who does that to you? Even if she says she loves you? Her actions aren't really showing it, are they?

Well, then, there you have it. The overanalysis of songs.


Also, be sure to check the link on the sidebar for Patrick Mishina's "Never Destroyed Sometimes". His site also features musical musings as well as insight on sports and politics (he's a Yankees fan...but take it easy on him).

Alright, and there's your Monday update.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Dafthead Radiopunk

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

bsteezy pulled what I consider to be a low blow--he's making me argue against my favorite band on the planet.

While I wholeheartedly agree that Radiohead's decision to not sell "In Rainbows" in shops as well as giving it away/letting fans name their price for it is revolutionary and a revelation, I just am not convinced that they shook the world up the way that Daft Punk did.

Daft Punk were, for the longest time, your older sister's cool ex-boyfriend's favorite French house band. They toiled in relative obscurity here in the states, and their debut, "Homework" was put out in 1997--a bit before my time. The first exposure I had to the band was when I saw their video for "One More Time". The band got written off as kitschy and as sort of neu-disco...which they clearly are not.

"Discovery" was a solid album that did not come close to approaching the landmark status of "Homework", and the subsequent "Human After All" was downright dreadful.

Fine, fine. Daft Punk was getting played by the club kids. They were loved by critics. But they just weren't big. That changed last year, when they embarked on a world tour complete with a massive pyramid.

Behold it here.

Dudes constantly wear robot helmets. They saw they are not from earth. They put out two full length films: the first was a movie for the entire "Discovery" album and the other was called "Electroma" and is about the band and how they came together (though they got actors to portray them in it)

James Murphy started pushing the band with his single "Daft Punk is Playing at My House" and he bragged on the song "Yeah" that "I was the first guy to play Daft Punk for the rock kids". And, really, with bands like Murphy's LCD Soundsystem getting big, it's time that Daft Punk get their due. They are really the world's biggest unknown band--and really, no one knows who they are because they never take those awesome helmets off.

Without Daft Punk, as I said in my last post, there would be no Justice, no Mr. Oizo, no Simian Mobile Disco..and, really, no Ed Banger records period. Keyboards wouldn't be cool again and the rock kids wouldn't want to go to clubs.

Daft Punk used to be dance music for the kids that didn't dance outside of their own bedrooms. Now, they're club music for the masses. Today, driving in Honolulu, I had the radio on (my iPod had died) and I heard two different commercials for two different Honolulu nightclubs. One was for "Island Night", where people of the Polynesian persuasion party and the other was for a more Asian, college going crowd--and both played Daft Punk as their background music.

The band crossed cultural borders--they became a force with the glitzy cocaine LA crowd as well as the drugged out acoustic folksters. Kanye West sampled the band.

The became the hottest live ticket in the US--and they didn't even put out a new studio record. This is a massive accomplishment.

Yes, Radiohead may have introduced the world to a new way of music distribution, but only the most famous bands will be able to utilize it. Up-and-coming bands will be worse off because of this system because they will not have the advertising backing of big labels under this system. This worked for Radiohead because they are the world's biggest band--they don't need to advertise and they don't need radio airplay to sell records. It's that simple.

The day I can walk to class and hear two totally ditzy LA girls talk about how great the last Radiohead live show was is the day that they'll take the throne as the world's most relevant band. Otherwise, though, the throne is occupied by the otherworldly roboboys of Daft Punk.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Why You Shouldn't Wear a Manchester United Jersey

Manchester kept the pressure on league leaders Arsenal this weekend by beating bottom feeders Birmingham 1-0. It was a pathetic result because it was at Old Trafford, and the last fifteen minutes belonged solely to the visitors--who unfortunately could do nothing with their chances.

In any case, I am particularly aggrieved by United's--Carlos Tevez's--goal. Maybe you saw it on ESPN's Top Ten Plays yesterday.

Now, this was a nice goal, a beautiful backheel by CRonaldo put Tevez through, and he finished coolly. Here's the best video I could find of it.

It took me awhile to find a video because I couldn't find one that showed Cameron Jerome laying on the ground, hurt. You can see him balled up at the beginning.

Unfortunately, the video doesn't show how he got hurt, namely, by being cleated in the stomach by Rio Ferdinand going up for a header. The ref was blocked on the play and couldn't see what happened. Jerome went down and the ball fell to Rio who played Carrick.

The ball was in United's half, not in a counterattacking position or anything. Carrick should have kicked the ball out of bounds. (Actually, if the ref had seen Rio's act, there should have been a whistle and a yellow card). Instead, Carrick played the ball forward and it ended in the goal.

When you see people wearing Manchester United jerseys, especially fans who haven't seen any soccer beyond FIFA 08, just remember what they stand for. Winning, yes, and scoring, OK, but also a cocky attitude that finds nothing wrong in the kinds of heinous actions we saw this past weekend.


Soo, now that we're done being excited about it being 2008, it's back to business. There's much to look back on in 2007, like, you know, everything.

I feel more comfortable leaving music recaps to Jheez, who actually knows what he's talking about. But I can contest his "most relevant musician of 2007" award, which yesterday he (without much ceremony, sadly) bestowed upon Daft Punk. I, on the other hand, proudly give the award to...


Britney Spears!!

Just kidding.

I think, in all honesty, that Radiohead deserves the honor--as much for the way they sold In Rainbows as the music itself.

The fact is that music as we know it is in serious danger unless somebody can muster some kind of creative way to make money through music without hampering the development music itself.

Here's the way I see it: music as we know it--I mean, contemporary 2008-type stuff--has been built for the most part around a structure of dissemination that is fundamentally democratic and universal. In other words, the internet. So much known music today has budded thanks to listeners' ability to get SO MUCH music! This way, little acts have grown into big ones, and high school bands end up with a trillion views on their myspace page.

These bands eventually can sign with the record companies, and then the record companies make a bunch of money. Great.

The point is, by bringing lawsuits and trials and whatever to the people who are discovering these bands (meaning, anyone who has ever downloaded some indie crap), the music industry--which is hardly the actual industry anymore, really--is cutting off one of the main ways musicians are developed. They are biting the hand that feeds them.

(By the by, way to go University of Oregon in fighting this ridiculous pattern!)

As the for artists, well, they're pretty much screwed either way. They can sign with the "industry" and get 5 cents an album, all while going on the road 300 days a year to make real money. Or they can throw their stuff all over the internet, via youtube, myspace, etc. etc., all while going on the road 300 days a year to make real money.

You dig?

And now it's left for someone to come up with a way to make money while still utilizing their ability to remain artistically independent and distribute their music.

Radiohead has tried one way, and in my opinion they deserve real credit for it. They are the most relevant band in 2007 then, because of the potential impact that year's album could have on all of music forever.

Besides, Jheez's Radiohead countdown earlier this year was just gold.

Who knows what 2008 will bring regarding the music "industry," let alone the actual artists themselves. We'll be watching...

For example, rumors are circulating about Jay-Z starting a record label with Apple. He said in an interview with Billboard last month that the old way of selling CDs just isn't "exciting" for him anymore.

Here we go...


It's 2008! OMFG!!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

I've been a bit more busy than I expected, but I wanted to put out my list of favorite albums, songs and odds and ends from 2007. These aren't in any particular order other than the first three stood out to me the most.

My absolute favorites:
Jens Lekman "Night Falls Over Kortedala"
Kanye West "Graduation"
LCD Soundsystem "Sound of Silver"

The rest:
Daft Punk "Alive"
M.I.A. "Kala"
Aesop Rock "None Shall Pass"
Jay-Z "American Gangster"
The Field "From Here We Go Sublime"
Lupe Fiasco "The Cool"
Radiohead "In Rainbows"
Caribou "Andorra"
Burial "Untrue"
M83 "Digital Shades"
Fennesz Sakamoto "Cendre"
Do Make Say Think "You, You're A History in Rust"

Favorite Songs of the Year (Justice's "D.A.N.C.E" is too obvious):
Jens Lekman "Sipping on Sweet Nectar"
Ayuse Kozue "Sundae Love"
LCD Soundsystem "All My Friends"
M.I.A. "Paper Planes"
The Field "A Paw in My Face"
Radiohead "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi"
Kanye West "Good Life"
The Cool Kids "Black Mags"
Shape of Broad Minds "Let's Go"

Favorite finds from years past:
Aesop Rock "Daylight"
Rich Boy "Throw Some D's"

Robin Thicke "Wanna Love You Girl"
Stardust "Music Sounds Better With You"
Ratatat "Nostrand"
Faunts "Memories of Places We've Never Been"
Joe Jackson "Stepping Out"
Minmi "Who's Theme"
....and the Hall and Oates' Greatest Hits compilation

I also don't think that there was a musical artist more relevant last year than Daft Punk. They were at their absolute biggest even though they didn't put out a studio album--they exploded based on the strength of their live show. They got sampled by Kanye (runner-up for most relevant artist in my book) and got cozy with the rock and rap kids. And, let's be honest: without Daft Punk, there'd be no Justice, Simian Mobile Disco, The Field, Junior Boys or just about any other remotely interesting electro/dance/rock outift (fine, the same can be said about Detroit Techno as well, but that's like saying there wouldn't be rock without Beethoven. Get real).

JJ is turning one year old in two weeks. bsto and i are currently culling through our favorite entries and will be posting our own lists of standout moments very soon.