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Belen, New Mexico

Belen, New Mexico

An un-American fact about America today is that for some groups, much more than others, upward mobility and the American dream are alive and well. It may be taboo to say it, but certain ethnic, religious and national-origin groups are doing strikingly better than Americans overall.

Which brings me to Belen, New Mexico (30 miles south of Albuquerque) and Jacob Williams.

Mr. Williams is a 27 year old who back in 2008 went to prison for killing a motorcyclist and crippling the motorcycles passenger while driving drunk.  Williams pleaded guilty to felony charges of vehicular homicide, great bodily harm by vehicle and aggravated driving while intoxicated.

Jacob Williams Arraignment - Pleads Not Guilty

Jacob Williams Arraignment – Pleads Not Guilty

District Court Judge William Sanchez, presided over the case and sentenced Williams to the maximum six years in prison allowed under the plea agreement.  He was released from prison in 2012.

Jump ahead to last Saturday where a witness told KOB-TV that she called 911 twice to report seeing Williams driving erratically around her neighborhood.  She then called again three hours later to report seeing him getting into a fight with a neighbor.  More details HERE, HERE and HERE.

However, deputies failed to quickly respond before the pickup that Williams was driving veered over a center line, killing Daniel Sanchez, 51, and seriously injuring his 11-year-old daughter, Magen who were riding on a motorcycle.  In an  unbelievable ironic twist, it turns out that Daniel Sanchez is the brother of the District Court Judge William Sanchez who sentenced Williams back in 2008.  Breath tests found Mr. Williams’ blood-alcohol level at 0.16 percent, or twice the legal limit of 0.08.

The death of the judge’s brother appeared to be coincidental and a Valencia County Sheriff’s Office spokesman made a statement about the failure to quickly respond by saying that only five deputies were working that day, and they were tied up with other felony crimes and another fatal crash.  No one should have to bear the burdens caused by someone else’s negligence on the road!

How did we get to this place?  Where taking a life is worth 0-6 years?  Really?!

It would seem that for years New Mexico has had a willful blindness to the facts as one of the highest rates of alcohol-related traffic deaths in the nation.

Maybe it’s time for all motorcyclists to boycott New Mexico?  Along with boycotting the popular rally’s (i.e. Red River Run), which draws tens of thousands of motorcyclists to Red River and nearby Angel Fire and pumps hundreds of thousands of dollars into the area economy.

And with Super Bowl taking place this Sunday and having developed a reputation as one of the more dangerous days of the year for drunk driving… please be careful out there.

Photo courtesy of Google Maps and KOAT.

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Did you notice that over the holiday’s it was everything Joanne Stefani Germanotta (i.e. Lady GaGa)?

Lady GaGa cemented her mainstream outreach which began with “A GaGa Thanksgiving,” then proceeded with “A Very GaGa Holiday” album and concluded with the “GaGa Workshop”, the singers interpretation of “Santa’s Shop” at Barney’s in NYC.  And don’t forget all the Lady GaGa-themed gifts from flame pressed-on-nails, spike moto gloves and even an eatable facial likeness cookie!   Talk about gagging!

Lady GaGa is the 1%.

I don’t mean that she’s to be hated like those over paid, real estate wrecking wall street bankers, or that she has no talent, only that she won, she’s ubiquitous, she’s rich!

You see society demands a certain amount of commonality, things we all know about and comment upon.  This accounts for the growth in reality TV and awards shows.  We all watch the Super Bowl, so we can comment on it the following day.

And speaking of football, doesn’t it seem like the song remains the same… but, the teams come and go?  I’m referring to Madonna who is set to headline Super Bowl halftime show.  Announcement HERE.  The league calls the show “the most-watched musical event of the year,” with more than 162 million people tuning in last year in the U.S. alone.

Huh?  MTV doesn’t even call itself “Music Television” anymore. What happened to my country when football became the jumping off point to showcase the sad state of affairs of the music business?  Madonna is aging so fast you can see the sell-by date.  I suggest they should broadcast the performance in 3D so when people get dizzy watching the “cones”, the league will have a wardrobe scapegoat.  It was the glasses…yeah, that’s it… the weak battery in the 3D glasses warped the faux glitz and glamour she provided on stage.

Did someone in the NFL front office make a mistake?  Was there old farts running focus groups to provide homogenized entertainment to people who don’t really exist and they booked Madonna thinking it was really Lady Gaga?!  The NFL enlisting Madonna who is doing her best to look younger than the players is laughable.  The nipped and tucked Madonna is a contemporary of the players mothers. Hip-hop runs the NFL. Just check the iPods they listen to to get psyched up before the game.

I’m part of the 99%.  And we used to be awed at the show, we used to need to tell everybody about the music. If we speak about Madonna by the water cooler the day after the Super Bowl it’ll be because of a wardrobe malfunction, or something she says. Her music, unlike the game, is dead.

Photo courtesy of Madonna.

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Cowboys Stadium

Doing a bit of Monday morning quarter-backing here…  one of the biggest buzz-making ads during yesterday’s Super Bowl was not Harley-Davidson.

If you recall, Harley-Davidson invented the down-on-our-luck tribute to a broken economy which morphs into a defiant, we’re-back rallying cry so screw the man and just ride anthem.

Now it seems that Chrysler has out Harley’d Harley!  With none other than another broken thing out of Detroit, Eminem, who happens to be staging a massive comeback and worked magic to charge us all up with the ‘We are all Detroit’ mantra.  The longest commercial in Super Bowl history was the 2 minute video costing ~$9M for the spot.  It was captivating to say the least and I for one came away with a higher appreciation for the Chrysler brand.

At first blush, it’s a bit hard to imagine just how any musician could have much impact on the product offerings of Harley-Davidson, whose primary work involves fabricating and stamping out thousands of sheet-metal parts into motorcycles.  Yet, if H-D could somehow find a really authentic — ‘brand ambassador’ — to help create more of an emotional connection between motorcyclists and H-D’s products, they might could come up with a way to reposition the brand and appeal to a younger generation.

It wouldn’t be the first for a large corporation to hire a brand ambassador.  Puffy, has cologne and Kanye has shoes.  Chrysler now has ‘Slim Shady’.  Even the technology ‘old skool’ microprocessor company Intel has hired Will.i.am (who was The Black Eyed Peas front-man at the Super Bowl half-time show) and is now wearing an Intel badge with signature shades and blinged-out shoes while evangelizing semi-conductor goodness.

All that’s left to debate is whether the advertisers were having an off year or the general crappiness of the half-time show was indicative of a greater decline in culture. Witnesses to the Black Eyed Peas.  I’d like to say they were terrible, unwatchable, the end of the world as we know it.  But they were not.

They were a representation of America…  And we have to give the NFL credit, for imparting the kiss of death upon musical acts.  If you perform at the Super Bowl, you’re now over.  I will say this — The Black Eyed Peas were better than the Who and guitarist Pete Townshend with his low-hanging gut.  The Who were just sad.  Like Old Timers Day at Yankee Stadium.  Once upon a time they were great, now it’s just creepy.

But, to end on a more positive note, the recession is officially over … or at least, that’s the message from Super Bowl advertisers this year.  It seems we’ve moved out of the depression of the recession and the wounded manhood in the face of reduced income and unemployment back into post-adolescent guy humor themes.

Time to take note Harley.

Photo courtesy of Dallas Photo Works

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Sunday you awake from a 40 year coma.   You want to know what’s new in America.  What do you do?

Watch Super Bowl XLIV of course and absorb the musical half-time extravaganza!  You’re dumbfounded and thinking déjà vu?  What kind of hole have I fallen down?  Relax.  Just be glad you missed the Grammy’s and Pink flying high in the sky.  If that wasn’t all wet!

Nothing better than a “parade of legends” while shucking a crawdad in the middle of this gumbo-like stew of sports, celebrity, excess and Americana – have you noticed that the half-time events just get exponentially worse (Lewis Black)?

Will XLIV be the BSBE (best Super Bowl, evah)?  WHO knows.

I say who cares!  Last year we had Bruce Springsteen.  He grossed more than $200M on the road and became just another commercial production.  Previously we had Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, U2, Tom Petty, Aerosmith and don’t forget Super Bowl XXXV (Baltimore 34, New York Giants 7 in Tampa).  What stood out the most from that game was the courageous performance of Styx.  They performed before the game, accompanied by hundreds of dancers in white unitards that had giant sails sewn into the backs, which they flapped in unison during the chorus of “Come Sail Away.” If that wasn’t the saddest display of a musical gig we’ve ever seen at a Super Bowl.  That is until the game in Houston, where “Two Tickets to Paradise,” Eddie Money performed before kickoff next door to the actual stadium.

I think the reason these halftime shows suck is because it requires a unique, powerful talent to compress the funk and energy of a 2-hour performance down into a 15-minute set. Most artists can’t handle it.  And how about Super Bowl XLI (Indianapolis 29, Chicago 17 in Miami)… it had a dream-like quality to it.  There were the 250-pound men dressed in skintight and wildly colorful parakeet bodysuits lined up in the end zone before the Cirque du So-lame pregame show. And don’t forget Jesse Jackson’s thoughtful interview on the South Beach boardwalk 100 feet away from a guy dancing around in nothing more than a Boston Red Sox thong.  Classy.

So you can say what you want about the hype, the money and the misplaced priorities of Super Bowl week (it’s all true), but if the game can’t create any kind of public response then it’s up to Harley-Davidson and the Maxim Super Bowl Party!  The VIP list includes the Harley-Davidson Drag Racer Valerie Thompson, the original Go Daddy Girl Candice Michelle, and of course Indy Car Racer Danica Patrick. Even the Teutels from Orange County Choppers will do a drive by and unveil “The Go Daddy Chopper.”  I’m sure to boost ratings they’ll have Hooter girls explain football or force Paul Sr. to sit between two would-be cheerleaders, balancing an ice cream sundae in his lap (from the all you-could-eat buffet), a video game controller in one hand and an ice-cold beer in the other, while playing “Madden.” Thank me later for a ‘Captain Obvious’ moment, but that my friends, is what Super Bowl advertising is all about!  Even the Ringling Bros. elephants don’t work it this hard.

And the game?

I wanted the Vikings, but now I’m pulling for the Saints. Nothing against Manning…  I love Tabasco!  And if that wasn’t enough of a reason the Manning’s already have two Super Bowl rings and something happy coming out of the Superdome might erase the vision of Katrina’s squalor.  Besides does anyone do a parade better than New Orleans?

UPDATE: February 8, 2010 — The advertising was lame!  Game was okay.  The team and the city that needed it most won!  As for The Who...let’s face it… their credibility went south after they sold out to the TV crime drama, but I hope I’m still rocking like Roger and Pete when I’m in my sixties.  Who’s next?  I say pull in John Mayer and Keith Urban as a pair of modern classics.  Here is Billboards top 10 half-time shows.

Photo courtesy of The Who

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boss_pianoThe Piano Protection Society (PPS) is an independent organization founded in 1958 by a group of piano lovers concerned with the plight of battered pianos. Today they held a press conference in London lambasting Springsteen and the NFL for yesterdays sad Super Bowl display of an ill-treated musical instrument!  They are asking the public to boycott “The Boss” and bring greater community awareness to protect musical instruments everywhere against violence.

Every piano deserves a loving and responsible home!

The background is an otherwise magnificent Super Bowl was marred by an ugly incident during the half time show.  The Boss looked straight into the camera Sunday night and proceeded to slam chicken-finger eating people everywhere and then made terse demands to crank the volume!  Then the 59 year old performed a sort of crippled-leg-leap onto the piano — the moment was a bit dicey and had potential disaster written all over it, but proving why he is still “The Boss”, Springsteen recovered his balance and proceeded to dance, scar and gouge the lacquer finish of the piano with his steel-toe boots as thousands of fans gasped and millions watched on TV.  Kids were horrified at the inhumane display of bombastic energy on that little Yamaha!  Adding insult to injury the Yamaha had to endure gunpowder ash from the overtly expansive fireworks display.   The malicious Springsteen was seen later laughing maniacally.  After the 11:57 minute concert horrified fans could not even recall what songs Springsteen sang.

Dancing

Dance, scar and gouge,  it’s how the Boss rolls…

The Piano Protection Society is a charitable association with modern premises at 103 Norton Street, London. The facilities include an adoption centre, welfare services, information and products to keep your piano happy and healthy. Sadly, they will have to deal with this abandoned and ill-treated musical instrument.

Viewed by the piano society as self-incrimination, a technician, not authorized to speak for the E Street Band said,

“We’ve been around a long time and people are aware of the kind of “work” we do,” they went on to say,  “Springsteen’s piano shows the scars of being on the road and being played for hours at a time during lengthy shows.  That’s how “The Boss” rolls….

Let’s not even talk about the unprotected swinging guitar and strap violence!!

UPDATE: No piano was hurt in creating this blog post!  Note – there is no such thing as the PPS organization and was meant as comical satire in response to the Super Bowl half-time show.

UPDATE: November 6, 2014 – I received a 2nd email from a person claiming to be Marty Gelhaar.  They did not provide a valid email address to respond, however, they requested I remove their name from this comical satire post which I have now done.  To the real Mr. Gelhaar (technician for pianist Roy Bittan), no disrespect intended and I apologize for any confusion.

Photos courtesy YouTube.

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Big Ben

Big Ben

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is an example of an athlete throwing discretion out the window when riding on a motorcycle with a temporary permit and no helmet.  “Big Ben’s” motorcycle accident and subsequent facial lacerations were severe enough that authorities initially could not identify him.

That was 2006 and this is not a post to bash the non-helmet motorcycle riders of the world. Frankly, I have a bit of a gripe with athletes in general, who decide to risk their health and well being even more than they already do in their respective professions…especially when they have a commitment to the organizations that employ them.

I could cite more examples of athletes’ misfortunes with motorcycles, but there is a point to be made.  I’m thinking Roethlisberger’s emotional state of having lived through what must have been an exhilarating motorcycle accident will play a big part in the Steelers comeback and win on Sunday!

And speaking of the football game…the Boss will host a 12-minute “party.”  The fans will fawn, the press will recite hosannas, but the new album “Working on a Dream” sounds terrible (it’s flat).  I’m a Boss fan, but this album doesn’t demand listening.  I’m not sure what kind of statement Bruce is making, but selling in Wal-Mart implies “My company paid me so much money they can do whatever they want to make their money back”.  I thought musicians were supposed to be about more than money?  Maybe it was the fact that at last years Super Bowl Tom Petty was watched by more than 148M  viewers in the U.S.?  But this isn’t so much about the Boss. This is about our culture.  If something generates a lot of revenue, you can’t say anything negative about it.  “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” has proven that after 3 weeks in the number one spot.

Super Bowl XLIII (43) is here at last, go Steelers.

Photo courtesy Steelers.

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