Monday, May 31, 2010

MONDAY MORNING MUSINGS

Not that the Canadian Grand Prix needs any additional hype - especially after a one year absence - but yesterday's stunning turn of events at Istanbul sets the stage for a hugely dramatic return of Formula One to Circuit Gilles Villeneuve June 11th to the 13th. The shocking collision between the frontrunning Red Bulls on lap 40 of the Turkish Grand Prix paved the way for a 1-2 McLaren finish, creating a logjam atop the drivers' and constructors' standings and positioning Montreal as a potential turning point in the season...I can't get past Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti's Scottish accent. It's like a guy named Angus MacKenzie speaking in a southern Calabrese dialect...It's a measure of how soft the Canadiens were on Philadelphia goaltender Michael Leighton that he went from comparisons to Bernie Parent against Montreal to looking like the dead guy in Weekend at Bernie's against Chicago...Who says nobody's perfect? Oakland's Dallas Braden and Philadelphia's Roy Halladay pitched perfect games 20 days apart this month - a remarkably short time span considering that only 20 perfect games have been pitched in the last 130 years...Soccer legend Diego Maradona's promise to run naked through the streets of Buenos Aires if Argentina wins the World Cup pretty much guarantees a global groundswell of support for anybody but Argentina. Maradona was no prize in his athletic prime. Five months shy of 50, he looks like he should be living under a bridge. No offence to the hairy trolls who already live there.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

MONDAY MORNING MUSINGS (ON A TUESDAY)

Well, that was a fun and surprisingly productive playoff run for the Canadiens, and there's definitely something to be said for getting to the Stanley Cup semifinals in a 30 team league, but that doesn't excuse showing up only twice in five games against Philadelphia. As upstarts themselves, the Canadiens of all people should have known that there are no free passes in the post-season, but after upsetting top-ranked Washington and defending league champion Pittsburgh, they looked unmotivated and unprepared against the seventh seeded Flyers. The other lesson learned is that speed doesn't kill as much as size matters...After losing track of the play last night for the umpteenth time in the series, Hockey Night in Canada's Bob Cole actually said "Wait a minute." I've waited 30 years for CBC to pull the plug on Cole. What's another minute?...At the risk of jumping to conclusions, do you like Antti Niemi or Jonathan Toews for the Conn Smythe Trophy after Chicago wins the Stanley Cup?...It's official: Steve Nash now looks more like a boxer than he does a basketball player...Is there still baseball?....Leave it to a woman to bring emotional honesty to the sporting arena. The next time a macho male athlete claims he can block out taunts from the crowd, remember what Danica Patrick said after she was booed during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 (and I quote), "That hurt my feelings." All athletes have feelings. Props to Patrick for dealing with them in a more forthright manner than, say, the Hanson brothers.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

OLE THIS

Losing back-to-back games wasn't the most humiliating part of the Canadiens' foray into Philadelphia this week. Neither was their failure to score in either game the ultimate indignity. What cut the deepest was the effrontery of Flyers fans when they broke into the "Ole Ole" song that's become a signature celebration at the Bell Center. Not that the "Ole" business is a Montreal-inspired phenomenon. Canadiens fans co-opted it from soccer supporters, who had already borrowed the basic premise from bullfighting and flamenco dancing. But around the NHL, it's definitely a Montreal thing, and the Wachovia Center cover version was open mockery at its worst - or at its finest, depending on your perspective. "Well-played," as Java and K103's Nick Fury would put it, and there's really no comeback for it, short of trashing a visiting Philadelphia journalist's car or pouring beer on the Flyers' broadcast crew. There's also dressing up like the late Kate Smith and singing God Bless America whenever the Flyers get a penalty, but I tried that at home by myself during Game 2 and it felt as disrespectful as it was marginally arousing. So, Ole Ole it is, and to hell with Philadelphia fans. Let them steal their own chant, or go back to throwing snowballs at Santa Claus during Eagles games and booing bad landings at the airport.

Monday, May 17, 2010

MONDAY MORNING MUSINGS

Even though they're only one game into their third round series with the Flyers, Game 2 tomorrow night in Philadelphia represents the stiffest test of the Canadiens' character so far in the 2010 playoffs. They faced elimination five times against Washington and Pittsburgh combined, but in the relatively pressure-free role of the underdog. More was expected of them than they delivered last night in Philly - MUCH more - and Game 2 will go a long way towards revealing the state of their long-term resolve...Scott Hartnell is one surgical procedure away from a long and successful post-hockey career as the bearded lady in a travelling carnival...Memo to US hockey announcers: it's not the cage - it's the net, and it's not the rubber - it's the puck. Always has been, always will be...For someone who's supposedly a crybaby, Sidney Crosby carries himself with more poise and dignity than people his age or older who celebrate second round playoff wins by damaging public and private property after exceeding their capacity for handling liquor. I'll take Crosby on my team - and as a role model - any day...Nearly one-third of the way into the Formula One season, and whither Michael Schumacher? Still no podiums in his 2010 comeback, and while 22 points in six races might be respectable among the perennial also-rans, it doesn't pass muster for a seven-time world champion. It's still early, but sometimes a legacy of success is best left alone.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

NOW COMES THE HARD PART

They've knocked off two of the top three teams in their conference and shut down or contained three of the last four NHL scoring champions, but it doesn't get any easier for the Canadiens in their improbable march to the Stanley Cup semifinals. The Habs didn't have to deal with the pressure of expectations against Washington and Pittsburgh because they were such prohibitive underdogs in both series, but their stunning success will saddle them with the burden of their own history the rest of the way. They're no longer middle-of-the-pack eighth seeded cannon fodder for elite opponents. They're now the legendary Montreal Canadiens - 24-time Stanley Cup winners, torch bearers for ancient champions and guardians of a sacred hockey legacy. Every game - every DAY - from this point on will be awash in flashbacks to Montreal championships and dynasties of yesteryear, and comparisons of Mike Cammalleri to Yvan Cournoyer, Jarsoslav Halak to Patrick Roy, P.K. Subban to Chris Chelios and Marc-Andre Bergeron to...um...Gaston Gingras...? Whether it's against Boston or Philadelphia, the Canadiens won't enjoy the underdog role in round three, even if they're sentimental favorites. As the sport's marquee heritage franchise representing a city steeped in hockey tradition, the Canadiens can't go this deep into the dance without being expected to go all the way. You think the first two rounds were tough? The tough part is just beginning.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

LIVIN' LA VIDA MOHAWK IV

(Livin' La Vida Mohawk is a weekly blog appearing on KahnawakeNews.com)


I can see myself falling into some habits in Kahnawake - good habits as well as bad.
Let's start with the bad. I haven't smoked a cigarette in at least ten years (it might even be eleven - I've lost count, which is a good thing) but I've never forgotten how much I enjoyed a good smoke, and I'm reminded of it every day by the thriving retail cigarette industry in town. A lot of my friends and colleagues are smokers, and at certain times I envy them their indulgence. For all of its stink and filth, the ceremony and effect of smoking can still tempt me.
Fortunately, my last drink was about two years before I quit smoking. For me, any sense of self-control in anything went out the window with booze, and without putting the plug in the jug, I'd still be blazing up to the tune of a pack-and-a-half a day, if I wasn't six feet under from a drinking or smoking-related illness or accident.
I'm not taking anyone else's moral inventory, whether they sell cigarettes, smoke them, drink to excess or all of the above. I can only speak for myself, and I'm grateful that I found a solution to one problem that helped me deal with the rest of my demons.
The GOOD habits I could easily fall into both involve Jimmy Patton of the Caughnawaga Golf Club. I've only golfed a handful of times in my life and I'm gawd-awful, but I've got the perfect hours - off work for the day at noon, with a good 8 to 10 hours before nightfall depending on the month, and even I could probably get in 18 holes in that amout of time.
Jimmy gave me the grand tour of the course last week, and while I'm no expert, he's not just whistling Dixie when he calls it one of the best public courses anywhere. Accessible, first class and relatively inexpensive are three of my favorite qualities in a pastime.
I first met Jimmy quite a few years ago, and for as long as I've known him he's been trying to get me into a sweat lodge. I'm all for a good physical and spiritual cleansing, and now that I'm in a good place to immerse myself in First Nations culture, it might only be a matter of time before Jimmy and I are sitting around naked in the dark.
Who says dreams don't come true?
Of course, there are only so many hours in the day, and if I have to choose between golf and a sweat lodge, I'm probably leaning towards the sweat lodge, because I'm less likely to break down and have a smoke in 40 degree heat and 100 percent humidity than I am if I three-putt on a gimme on 18.

ted@k103radio.com

Livin La Vida Mohawk is a new weekly column on Ted’s experience working in Kahnawake. It is brought to you by Central Station Customs, located at 22 Route 138 in Kahnawake. Central Station Customs provides you with all your car audio needs. They also carry performance parts, lighting, GPS and everything else automotive. Check them out online at www.centralstationcustoms.com.

Monday, May 10, 2010

MONDAY MORNING MUSINGS

Comparisons between Chris Chelios and P.K. Subban are at least as undeniable as they are unfair. Both are former second round draft picks, right-handed shots, and strong skaters who move the puck well and don't shy away from a scrum. Like Subban, Chelios had his coming out party in the playoffs as a rookie during the Canadiens surprising run to the Stanley Cup semifinals in 1984. It's a lofty comparison, but look at it this way: if Subban's career is half as productive as that of Chelios, he'll play a dozen seasons, win a Norris Trophy or two and hoist the Stanley Cup at least once...The Montreal Impact's confirmation as a Major League Soccer expansion franchise in 2012 is the culmination of a great local success story. Too bad the Saputos didn't buy the Expos...On the other hand, if history is any guide, the 12, 265 fans who braved a cold, driving rain to watch the Impact beat Minnesota Saturday are about five thousand more than would have shown up under similar conditions for an Expos game...The rape allegations added to Pro Football Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor's already-voluminous rap sheet are only the latest reminder that athletic greatness and weakness of character are not mutually exclusive. Taylor is giving O.J. Simpson and Mike Tyson a run for their money among fallen idols...Instead of tasering spectators who run onto the field at sporting events, how about subcontracting security to professional cowboys who could lasso and hog-tie the interlopers? It's less injurious than electric shock and the rest of the fans would get a little rodeo with their ballgame...It's a testament to Formula One's safety standards that Lewis Hamilton was able to walk away after one of his tires shredded at 200 plus kilometers an hour during yesterday's Spanish Grand Prix. Try blowing a tire at 200k in the Whiskey Trench. That's a rhetorical comment, not a recommendation.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

LIVIN' LA VIDA MOHAWK III

(Livin' La Vida Mohawk is a weekly blog appearing on KahnawakeNews.com)

There aren't a lot of places where you can find a small town flavor in the shadow of the big city. Kahnawake is one of those places.
Where else can you take a guy's $100,000 SUV for a ride ten minutes after you meet him for the first time? And where else can that same guy go on the local radio station and ask you over the air to bring back his truck?
I didn't mean to panic Derek White when my son Charlie and I accepted Derek's offer to take his Cadillac Escalade EXT for a spin, and then disappeared for the better part of an hour. Charlie's only 8, but he's already forgotten more about cars than most people will ever know, so when he sauntered up to the truck and asked whether it had a V8 or a V10, Derek had to know that we wouldn't just be driving it from K103 to the Legion and back. This would require a highway test.
I didn't hear the on-air appeal to return the vehicle, because we had stopped by Central Station Customs to say hi to Donald Mohawkboom Phillips (and the rest of the crew including Julie Simpson and Skyler Taylor) and thank him for sponsoring this blog. Naturally, Charlie had to check out the behind-the-scenes action and talk shop with Skyler, who gave us a demonstration of the sound system in his pimped-up Mistubishi Lancer.
Then when it was time to leave, I picked up the wrong set of keys and set off the alarm in the Escalade, attracting a bemused crowd of onlookers wondering who the whitey was trying to steal Derek's truck. There was that small town thing again - everyone knew whose truck it was, but they also seemed to know that the bumbler trying to shut off the alarm was the new guy at the local radio station. Even if they didn't recognize me, it was self-evident that I was not a professional car thief. Anyway, Derek, thanks for coming by and introducing yourself, and thanks for the joyride.
It's only a 10 minute drive from downtown Montreal to midtown Kahnawake, but there's a world of difference between the easygoing small town disposition and the guarded mentality of the big city. I love that anyone, anytime can drop by the radio station, come up the back stairs and pop their head in to say hello without having to call ahead and then report to a security guard when they arrive.
Somebody tell the guy with the Lamborghini that he's more than welcome to pop by the next time Charlie has a ped day and comes to work with his Dad. We promise not to take it across the (Mexican) border.

ted@k103radio.com

Livin' La Vida Mohawk is a new weekly column on Ted’s experience working in Kahnawake. It is brought to you by Central Station Customs, located at 22 Route 138 in Kahnawake. Central Station Customs provides you with all your car audio needs. They also carry performance parts, lighting, GPS and everything else automotive. Check them out online at www.centralstationcustoms.com.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I'M THE GOAT

On the heels of my piling-on tirade about radio stations opting for syndicated programming over creating opportunities for local broadcasters, Virgin in Montreal is apparently dumping Ryan Seacrest and hiring an honest-to-goodness, warm body to do evenings and weekends. Kudos to program director Mark Bergman for "getting it." It took a guy who spent years on the air to understand that it takes someone who lives in Montreal to connect with someone listening in Montreal. Go figure.

Monday, May 3, 2010

MONDAY MORNING MUSINGS

In an era when rolling four lines is standard practice among NHL teams - or at least among the ones that go deep into the playoffs - Canadiens coach Jacques Martin bucked the trend yesterday by benching Ben Maxwell, Mathieu Darche and Andrei Kostityn for almost the entire game after they were on the ice when Pittsburgh opened the scoring in the fifth minute of the first period. Nowithstanding the other standard practice of sticking with a winning lineup, don't be surprised to see Glen Metropolit and/or Sergei Kosyiotsyn back in uniform tomorrow night at the Bell Center...Either I'm becoming more tolerant or Hockey Night in Canada blowhard Bob Cole is becoming more competent, because not once did I change the channel in disgust and watch yesterday's game on RDS instead of CBC. Cole trotted out the usual cliches and was, as always, the master of stating the obvious, but he didn't make any glaring errors and seemed to be generally aware of his surroundings...The fact that he's pushing 80 helps explain Cole's borderline dementia. What's 43 year old NBC analyst Ed Olczyk's excuse for saying Philadelphia goalie Brian Boucher was "tremendously tremendous" Saturday? That's the baddest worst announcing I've heard all season...I don't know from playing the trumpet, but I'm pretty sure the guy who did the Call to the Post at Saturday's Kentucky Derby was lip-synching, because his fingers didn't move on the valves. That might not be Milli Vanilli or Britney Spears scandalous, but it's at the very least marginally disillusioning...Meanwhile, not sure what that pentagram design on winning jockey Calvin Borel's silks was supposed to represent, but my K103 morning show partner, Java Jacobs, thinks it's got something to do with the Freemasons, and that everything unfolding according to plan.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

RADIO BEAN COUNTERS STRIKE AGAIN

So this is what it's come to: CFRB 1010 in Toronto, the one-time undisputed industry leader in Canadian talk radio, is filling out its Sunday night schedule by simulcasting 60 Minutes. Piping in an American television show on a mainstream radio station in Canada's largest media market speaks volumes about the lack of vision among the people programming the station. Nothing against 60 Minutes - its track record speaks for itself and the show has its place, and its place is on CBS television.
Of course, none of this has anything to do with programming quality radio. It's about budgets, and the fact that it's cheaper to buy syndicated programming than it is to pay an actual broadcaster to do an actual broadcast. The overwhelming majority of radio programmers and managers today don't know shit from shinola about how to do good radio, but when it comes to getting the most content on the air for the least amount of money, these corporate suckholes are masters of their craft. Never mind that there are polished, experienced people on staff or available for hire who are capable of doing a quality show relevant to a local audience. The company is down to its last billion dollars, so it throws nickles around like manhole covers.
The biggest losers in this slash-and-burn scenario, besides the listeners, are young broadcasters looking to move up in the business. When I started in radio in Charlottetown, PEI in 1978, it was with an eye towards moving up the ladder and eventually getting a good job at a major market station. By 1980, I was doing news and sports at CFTR Toronto - an AM top 40 powerhouse that employed 25 people in the newsroom alone. By today's industry standards CFTR was ridiculously top-heavy with staff, but the radio station still made money, delivered a quality full-service product, and gave young broadcasters something to which to aspire. CFTR is now the country's largest and most successful all-news station and I'm not sure that it employs 25 people in total.
When a one-time industry leader like CFRB opts for syndication over live, local content in a market the size of Toronto, it's little wonder that the most common refrain I hear among young people in radio today is that opportunities are virtually non-existent. That's only true if you have a passion for the business and are interested in pursuing it with competence and enthusiasm. If, on the other hand, your passion is for subsurviency to corporate overlords at the expense of your craft, your staff and your audience, the radio world is your oyster.