Wednesday, January 26, 2011

An Ode To Tommy defines the word "Pioneer" as "one who is first, or among the earliest in any field of inquiry, enterprise, or progress." And much like what Jackie Robinson did for African-American baseball players, The Beatles did for rock-and-roll, and what 90's AOL chatrooms did for early internet predators; Tommy from MTV's "True Life: "I own a summer share" did for guidos being portrayed positively in mainstream media. Tommy's episode of True Life first aired on November 20th, 2003, and it followed him and his motely crew of Italian friends during their summer weekends spent in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. Each weekend Tommy would drive his Black Cadillac down to their shore home in hopes of finding true love, and his future wife.

Equip with his black Don Corleone hat, white pants, wife beater and a barrage of tribal/religious tattoos covering most of his arms, Tommy hits the bars and within 15 minutes of his crews arrival "owns the bar, owns the dance floor, and owns every women in the place". A typical night for Tommy and company consisted of having their friend Michelle iron all their clothes while they pregamed with pizzas and beer, followed by watching "Goodfellas" en route to the club, Tommy dancing and falling for a girl at the club, and then having said women somehow "disappear" before the night is over. This would always leave Tommy in a vulnerable state, and on many instances could be found bringing up his ex-fiance (who would later go on to hook up with one of Tommy's best friends back home, who subsequently wound up getting the shit kicked out of him by Tommy himself after he had heard the news), or making bold statements at 3:30 in the morning such as "I will find that girl before the night is over, and our night doesn't end til 9..10 in the mornin". However, no night on the shore is over without making a pit stop at their favorite late night stand- "Steaks Unlimited". The long lines don't seem to phase Tommy & co, as they proceeded to cut everyone and threaten anyone who looks even remotely confrontational. All for the love of cheeeseballlls and steak sangwitches.

Fast forward eight years later to present day when you watch Jersey Shore. It's pretty hard not to notice a piece of Tommy in each of the male characters. Granted, all guidos are cut from the same DNA, so many are similar but it's fun to point out which characteristics embody what traits from Tommy. The most clear cut similarity is between Ronnie and Tommy. Both have hair thin tempers, and would rather solve any dispute with fists, rather than talk about things rationally. The Situation and Tommy are alike in the sense of they both want to "own" (be the focal point of attention) any place that they enter, both are narcissistic and have an overall sense of over-entitlement. Vinny and Tommy share the quality of being over confident with the ladies, but also over sensitive when things don't go their way. Tommy openly cries about his fiance leaving him on True Life, which reminded me a lot of the way Vinny felt in season 2 of Jersey Shore, when he got stood up by that foreign girl in Miami after buying her roses (which Ronnie then bought and gave to Sammie). Last, but certainly not least, Tommy and Pauley D share lots of traits in common too. Both have a keen knack for "beating up the beat", a love for techno music (was 2003 pre-house?), and an animal like instinct to savagely hit the dance floor.

I had always felt that Tommy deserved his own series. He is far and away the most entertaining person to ever be featured on True Life, and in my opinion, on any television show ever. If you think the guidos of Jersey Shore today have classic one liners (gernade, smush etc.), they couldn't hold a candle to the gold that Tommy produced every time he opened his mouth. Below I've listed my five favorite Tommy quotes for your viewing pleasure.

Top 5 Tommy quotes:

5) "You look like Uncle Fester you fat fuck"

4) "I look like a pizza boy tonight, but I aint baking up no motherfucking pies. I might bake up, a knuckle sangwitch"

3) "I drank myself into a drunken stupor until I got sick... literally" followed by Tommy puking and rallying in the bathroom of Merge and getting into an altercation with someone he had gotten in an argument with several years prior.

2) "You're in the dickie do club. Your stomach sticks out more then your dickie do"

1) "I'ma drop the hammer tonght. I'ma fuck somebody up or I'm getting laid and that's whats gonna happen tonight... How could you go and fuck one of my best friends?"

So the next time your your watching Jersey Shore, take a second to look back and thank the man who started this phenomenon. The first guy to ever be televised "Snookin for love" on the Jersey Shore- Tommy.

Can't get enough old school guido footage? Check out the below video "Guido Beach"


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang Baby

To run with the idea that author Chuck Klosterman dove into in his 2005 novel "Killing Yourself To Live", sometimes the best career move an artist can make, is by having their life ended prematurely. One obvious example to this point would have to be the death of one of the founders of grunge, Kurt Cobain. Cobain, and his band "Nirvana", grew to rapid fame in the early 1990's. Faster then they, or anyone else could have ever expected, and quite frankly, more then Kurt wanted or was capable of handling. Nirvana's second album Nevermind sold more then 10 million copies in the United States alone, and over 26 million copies world wide. To put Nirvana's level of fame into perspective, Lady Gaga's "The Fame", which was a top 5 album of 2009, has sold just over 12 million copies world wide to date. Regardless, Kurt's demons eventually and tragically got the best of him, and in April of 1994 he committed suicide in his Seattle home.

With the death of Cobain, also meant the death of Nirvana. Such an adored figure could never be replaced within the band that he created, and with his death forever cemented the bands legacy- 4 years, 3 albums, over 50 million records sold worldwide, and zero chance at ever tainting their legacy by selling out or creating crap music. That's why Nirvana is always in the conversation of best bands of all time, because they never had the chance to fall from grace.

Other examples where in death an artists or human beings work has been elevated to an almost holy standard of recognition has been Heath Ledger's Joker performance, the murders of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G., Micheal Jackson and Elvis' posthumous record sales, JFK's presidential legacy, even Marilyn Monroe will forever be remembered as a stunningly beautiful 30 something year old because that's the last image everyone has of her. This isn't to say that all of these people weren't exceptionally skilled and well liked before, because clearly they were, but the point is with these certain individuals (sans MJ) we will always remember them at their peaks because that is where they left us. They didn't sell out and do commercials, or put out half-assed material for a paycheck, and they certainly didn't stick around well past their prime living off the name they earned for themselves decades earlier (ex. The Rolling Stones, Willie Nelson, Eddie Murphy, hell even Leno/Letterman are shells of what they used to be).

For example, if Billie Joe Armstrong had stage-dived into the crowd at Woodstock '94, missed the pile of teens he was aiming for, landed on his head, suffered a brutal concussion and ended up dying of brain damage shortly after, Green Day would have gone down in history as one of, if not the greatest punk band of all time. Instead, they're still around today putting out shitty album after shitty album, and basically going against everything they used to sing about that raised them to that level of fame in the first place. They went from being a Grammy winning punk rock band on an indie label, to a pop rock band in the purest sense of the word. Now lets not forget that this is a business, and being "pop" (popular) is where the money is at, so as much as it disgusts me, I can't completely hate on them for the archetype that their career took. But all I'm saying is they are a classic example of selling out, and that's what happens when your in a business, or doing anything for too long.

And that is the exact reason that although hip hop fans have been anxiously waiting for Dr. Dre to release his "Detox" album for the past eight years (I gave up hope in 2007), that maybe there is a reason why Dre has waited this long without putting it out. Maybe, just maybe, Dre is the only person in music with a sense of self awareness, who cares about his legacy enough to know when an album just flat out isn't good enough for his standards. Since Dr. Dre's last studio album, 2000's "2001: The Chronic", the rap world has been swamped with mediocrity (In some cases, at best). The likes of Chingy, The Young Gunnaz, Charmillionaire, Wakka Flakka, Solja Boy, Benzino, David Banner, Ying Yang Twins, Hurricane Chris and Dem Franchise Boys have all seen their 15 minutes (5 in some cases) come and go, yet someone like Dr. Dre will always be mentioned in the Pantheon of Rap, despite only releasing two solo albums to date (where as Jay-Z has released 14). The reason for that- he's never put out a record that fans didn't love and respect.

There's a lesson to be learned here people. That although dying at a young age in some cases can cement legacies, and glorify great work for eternity, the real way to remain respected and considered one of the best is to always do the best, and never settle for anything less then the best. So when a studio like Castle Rock comes to you with the script for "Pluto Nash", please have enough of a backbone to say "I was in Coming to America bitch" and hang up the phone.

Perhaps the real reason Dr. Dre hasn't released Detox yet is because he's trying out to be on American Gladiators?

-fresh (@danye33)