Thursday, February 08, 2007

Carolina Wins

Last night's installment of the UNC/Duke rivalry was an impressive one, and among other things, reinforced something Harrogate has been saying for some time, now: In the world of college basketball, there is simply no place more difficult to win than on Duke's home floor at Cameron Indoor Stadium. It isn't just when Carolina comes knockin', either. The crazies keep the gym rockin' from the opening tip off, and one can palpably feel their influence and inspiration on the hometown players.

And let us be honest, here: Duke outhustled Carolina last night, they showed more heart. It galls Harrogate to admit these simple truths, but that's the way it seems to be every time those two teams hook up. North Carolina fields better atheletes, runs a prettier offense, and projects a left-of-center ethos: and for all of these things, Harrogate is thankful. Not to mention the fact that its campus is indeed the Southern Part of Heaven. But even with all of this, Duke just plays scrappier. Harrogate tips his cap to the hated rival, they are in a rebuilding year and were desperately overmatched last night, and yet they rose to the level of the challenge and indeed, they led for most of the game.

In the end, though, there was just far too much Carolina depth, with Frazor and Miller coming off the bench to provide crucial guttiness that the starters, for all their superior talent, just couldn't seem to muster. And throughout there was just wayyyyyy too much Brandan Wright for Duke to deal with. Kid is 6'9 but plays like he's 7 feet tall. His wingspan exceeds 7'0 and goes into the 7'3 range. Wright will be a lottery NBA pick whenever he elects to jump ship--let us hope, Readers, that he gives Carolina at least one other year!!! He has a soft touch, hits hook shots and baseline jumpers, runs the floor like a man obsessed, blocks shots, makes the extra pass, pretty much does everything you'd ever want from your power forward. And he does all of this with a smoothness and unflappability that you almost never see in a senior, let alone a freshman.

Little Ty Lawson, another freshman, was pretty awesome at times, too, when he's got his offense going he really does seem unguardable. Still to early to compare him to (Everybody Loves) Raymond Felton and the other great point guards in UNC's hallowed history, but he has that kind of potential.

The rest of February and all of March promise to constitute one helluva crazy ride for the Big Baby Blue, and Harrogate's ready to ride that train all the way to Atlanta. As long as Carolina and Texas A&M do not meet in the Big Dance, Harrogate's pretty sure he can handle whatever emotional devastation awaits in that clearing at the end of the path.

Ta ta, Readers. Ta ta.

Monday, February 05, 2007


A lot of people don't know this about Harrogate, but the very first piece of music he ever fell absolutely, madly, in love with, is Misfits by the Kinks. Introduced to the record by his father at the tender age of 10, Harrogate didn't then understand most of the lyrics on the album. For example, the raucus track "Live Life" includes the verse: "Have you heard about the troubles throughout the land/ With the fascists and the left wing militants?/ Out of work executives are killing themselves/ And the I.R.A. are killing everybody else." That's pretty heavy, no?

Yet while Harrogate didn't get the lyrics as a boy, the plaintive, almost desperate sound permeating the record hit a chord with him nevertheless. Harrogate realizes that a lot of people are not familiar with Misfits or indeed most of the Kinks work; beyond "Lola," "You've Really Got Me," "Apeman," and a precious few others, the popular pickins seem to get pretty darned slim. The Kinks, thusly, remain arguably the most underappreciated band in the history of rock and roll, though in their own late 60's-70s heyday, they enjoyed a small devoted following.

The album cover, of course, might well be the greatest ever made. But Harrogate wishes to talk a bit about what he believes to be the crown jewel of the record, a song called "Rock and Roll Fantasy." Ray Davies supposedly wrote the song in 1977 about a week after the death of Elvis Presley, which you can see referenced in the lyrics, printed below. At the time, brother and lead guitarist Dave Davies was thinking about quitting the band and doing something else. This song was a response to Dave, a powerful Rhetorical Appeal that perhaps contributed to keeping Dave on board (a great thing not only for the Kinks, but for Rock and Roll in general, as Dave's experimental guitar style inspired such greats as Eddie Van Halen and Zach Wilde, among others)

Anywho, Harrogate's been thinking a lot about this song, lately. It really points up the raison de etre--as well as the dark side--of cultural production, in Harrogate's award-winning opinion. Staggering numbers of people, after all, take their meaning, and even their will to keep going, from popular art (Eminem speaks to the same thing in "Sing for the Moment"). To a great extent Harrogate has always identified with "Guy in my block" portion of the song. Maybe there are Readers out there who also identify.

The argument of the song seems simple enough, it is two pronged--Ray seems to be telling Dave:

1)We cannot quit because we'll be letting down people like the guy on my block and fans like Dan who have followed us through all the hard times as well as the good ones; &

2)We cannot quit because what if our band is the only thing protecting us from becoming just like these people that depend on us. If we are not to be producers of culture, if we are not to make a contribution, if we are not to impact the world, then really we just become consumers waiting for the next thing to come float our boats. This is not what I, Ray Davies, want, Dave, and I don't think it's what you want either. I don't want to live in a Rock and Roll Fantasy, "hiding away."

Hello you, hello me, hello people we used to be
Isn't it strange, we never changed
We've been through it all yet we're still the same
And I know it's a miracle, we still go, and for all we know
We might still have a way to go

Hello me, hello you, you say you want out
Want to start anew, throw in your hand
Break up the band, start a new life, be a new man
But for all we know, we might still have a way to go
Before you go, there's something you ought to know

There's a guy in my block, he lives for rock
He plays records, day and night
And when he feels down he puts some rock 'n' roll on
And it makes him feel alright
And when he feels the world is closing in
He turns his stereo way up high

He just spends his life living in a rock 'n' roll fantasy
He just spends his life living on the edge of reality
He just spends his life in a rock 'n' roll fantasy
He just spends his life living in a rock 'n' roll fantasy
He just spends his life living on the edge of reality
He just spends his life in a rock 'n' roll fantasy
He just spends his life living in a rock 'n' roll fantasy

Look at me, look at you
You say we've got nothing left to prove
The King is dead, rock is done
You might be through but I've just begun
I don't know, I feel free and I won't let go
Before you go, there's something you ought to know

Dan is a fan and he lives for our music
It's the only thing that gets him by
He's watched us grow and he's seen all our shows
He's seen us low and he's seen us high
Oh, but you and me keep thinking
That the world's just passing us by

Don't want to spend my life living in a rock 'n' roll fantasy
Don't want to spend my life living on the edge of reality
Don't want to waste my life hiding away anymore
Don't want to spend my life living in a rock 'n' roll fantasy

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Something to say...

I haven't been posting on the blog very much lately because I haven't had much to say. This all changed tonight. I now have something to say, something to shout from the rooftops. And here it is:

Prince brought it this evening! His performance was the BEST Superbowl halftime show that I've seen.