It could be the basement. Or the garage. A den with wood paneling…painted of course, because the wood is too dark. It’s a hideaway, a cross between Walden Pond and a sports bar. Men used to call them a haven, an oasis, or better yet the catchers mitt that enveloped them like a called third strike. These days, of course, HGTV and lost originality call them a man cave.
Constructing such a place requires that it cannot be constructed. It just is. It’s filled with bits and pieces of what makes a man. It’s the place a man needs to reflect, and think, and just be. It’s a place where the neighbors can share a story, where his boys can build a soap box derby car, or talk about the path that life shall take him. It’s where a man can philosophically ponder the imponderables, as the captain would also say.
It’s not a cave. It’s not a trip to Best Buy to extract the largest TV and surround sound system produced by foreign men. It’s not plush leather furniture, the cost of which could feed a family of four in Ethiopia for 12 months.
The Day The Man Cave Died was the day it was named a man cave.
Whatever happened to Rock n’ Roll? You know the kind; where you could listen to a song and just feel the grit seething through your speakers. Where a song was written with a purpose and served as an audio sledgehammer for the band producing music and the ear that processed it. It seems like rock n’ roll really started in the 60′s and 70′s as technology started to enable bands to play sounds with such power and force that they literally changed the mindset of a country. Rock n’ Roll spurred thought, and creativity, and brought passion out of people that had been bubbling to the surface for generations.
Music during that time was raw and honest and pure, because it spoke to important words of the day and helped bring people together at a time when people were growing apart. As we moved into the 80′s, technology started to really change, and artists started to take shortcuts into producing music that became homogenized into a wall of pre-packaged sound. When the 90′s came along, bands began to fight back, and all of a sudden bands produced music that Bob Seger would have been proud of.
Which brings us to today. It seems like music has shrunk back into a holding pattern, where social media and money drive the music that we hear, and that our “friends” musical interests are what are now our musical interests. The days of feeling music have gone by the wayside, only to be replaced by artists who are brands and not really bands.
Enter Zoe Vette and the Revolvers. All of a sudden appears a band that plays rock n’ roll again with a sound that takes you back to the time when music mattered. The beauty of the album B.C. Radio is that you cannot pinpoint it to a particular era or influence, except for the fact that you KNOW it’s roots are in 70′s and 90′s rock, which is a difficult thing to pull off. It’s worth a listen only if you have the ability to feel it; otherwise you are wasting the Revolvers time.
The windows are open and the attic fan is on. That is the beauty of summer and weather in Kansas City. You can be at 95 degrees and hiding in the basement one day to 80 degrees and beautiful the next.
The temperature swing of this city symbolizes the mentality of this city. It seems that the personality of Kansas City ebbs and flows with the wind patterns that drift across our plains. Our moods and sensibilities can be hot one minute, cold the next, and downright indecisive by the time we wake up in the morning. We can’t decide if we want to be a big city. We can’t decide if we like Royals baseball or Chiefs football. We can’t decide which area is better for partying: Westport or Kansas City Live. We can’t decide where the best place is to listen to music, be it Sandstone, or Starlight, or the Sprint Center. We can’t decide who has better BBQ: Gates, Arthur Bryants, or Oklahoma Joe’s.
Just like our weather patterns, Kansas City goes where the fair wind blows. We root for the winning team. The newest concert hall. The trendiest restaurant. We can’t be happy with what we have. Kansas Citians are always seeking the next thing that makes our city relevant and cool. While if we just turn around, the things that makes Kansas City relevant and cool are the things we already have. You can spit in any direction in Kansas City and get better BBQ than any city in the world. You can walk less than one mile from your home and find a neighborhood bar that makes you feel as if you’re at your neighbors house having a beer. And you can open the Kansas City Star on Thursday and find a band playing in town that will make you dance and feel music.
You don’t need Kansas City to be relevant. You need to be worthy of being relevant to Kansas City.
Paul Splittorff passed away this week.
He was not your mailman. He was not the guy at Ace Hardware who helped you pick out the matching pan head screw for your bathroom. He was not an engineer for the railroad. He was not the waiter at the Plaza III that picked out the perfect wine to complement your meal. He was not the janitor at your kids elementary school. He was not an art teacher at the Kansas City Art Institute. He was not a counter worker at Gates yelling “How May I Help You?” But Paul Splittorff could have been any one of those people who cross your path incognito every day of your life.
The funny thing is that Paul Splittorff WAS one of those people. He was a guy who did his job and went home to his family. He was a guy who worked for YOU every day of his working life. He was a man who was more Kansas City than some of us who have lived here their whole lives. And what did we really know about him?
We know he’s won more games than any pitcher in Royals history. We know he beat the Yankees in the playoffs, and God Bless him for that. We know he fought for his team…our team…as if his blood had been spilled defending our city. And he did it without any of us knowing how great he was. Until he passed away this week.
Paul Splittorff was a GREAT Kansas Citian. He was a man who represented our city with the same values that we have all been raised with. He worked hard. He took care of his family. He took pride in anything he did. And he went home, every night, knowing that his accolade was walking into his family’s arms and knowing…knowing…that he had done his best that day.
That is Paul Splittorff’s legacy. He was what we have always wanted in a hero. He was someone who did the same things we did on a daily basis but on a grander scale. He didn’t care about what WE thought of him, and that’s what makes his passing hurt maybe a little more. Because we should have let him know more often what we thought of him. Which is that he was a Kansas Citian, and that’s the greatest compliment we could have ever paid him.
Vasectomy season is upon us, what with the NCAA basketball tournament starting. This time of year is like Christmas retail season for urologists, because men everywhere are “choosing” this time of year to get snipped because they can use daylong basketball action as an excuse to lay around with a bag of peas on their nuts. In reality, this gives men the opportunity to somehow maintain dignity amongst their male tribe by “dicktating” when their emasculation can occur.
In reality, as they lay on the couch, the urologist is counting his money (cash, by the way, since insurance doesn’t pay for it), the wife now literally has your balls by the hand, AND the dog is laying by the fireplace smirking and thinking: “Payback’s a bitch, and now you’re one too.”
There is a rumor going around that the temperature in Kansas City is going to be in the 60′s by the middle of next week. It will be interesting to see if Katie Horner breaks into the evening programming in a panic because the weather isn’t severe enough.
The interesting thing about that whole phenomenon is that the news stations seem to think that the only place to get information is on their station. Most Kansas Citians have figured out that their houses have windows, and the most accurate weather report they can get exists as real-time programming through the old fashioned looking glass.
It just goes to show you that in all walks of life, it is imperative to prove that my doppler is bigger than your doppler.
Some things are driven into your soul, usually by parents who don’t realize the impact they are having on their children’s mental makeup as they grow older. It’s clear that our behavior as adults was driven by how our parents raised us. Otherwise we wouldn’t repeat the same inane dialogue our parents used; the same phrases and verbiage that would make us gag and roll our eyes.
When it comes to sports, however, it is absolutely necessary and a parental duty to make sure your children root for “your” teams. These are the same teams that invoke strong adult memories of how great it used to be. When you would pore over the box scores in the newspaper because the game was still on the radio when you went to bed. In Kansas City, this creates a bit of a conundrum. You want your kids to be fans of the Royals and the Chiefs, and a lot of us are old enough to remember the “Glory Years”, when Mr. Kauffman gave us a team that infiltrated our very beings. And we remember Mr. Hunt, who in his later years finally decided to “go for it” and try to bring back a winner to this town.
But for our children, generations have gone by where they have never experienced a winner. This mostly applies to baseball, since the Chiefs have at least made some noise in the past 20 years. As parents, our local teams make it really difficult to foster the same loyalties that we created back in the 70′s and 80′s.
In some households, fathers insist on blind loyalty. In other homes, fathers have given up, and ESPN has chosen what teams and players kids now follow. As time goes on, that chasm between the hometown team and expectations widens so much that generations of fans have never seen success nor expect it.
Hopefully, the Royals and the Chiefs can breathe some life into the sporting lungs of our cities youths. Because apathy is knocking on the gates of the Truman Sports Complex, and sooner or later the parking lots will be filled not with barbecue grills, but the fading memories of a lot of fathers and sons.
If the world could only make New Year’s Resolutions…
There are so many things that could be made better. Most are common sense. Most are impossible. Some are ridiculously stupid, and some are funny. Here you go:
- No more hungry kids. Let’s start in your local community and work outward.
- No more fighting over God. Seriously, we fight over God?
- People should learn to use their turn signals.
- Every house should have to subscribe to their local newspaper.
- Kindle’s should be smashed with a hammer.
- It should be illegal to buy a tomato in a grocery store after October 1st.
- There should be no more “time outs” for kids.
- Your children should have to put their hands in the dirt and play with a stick at least twice a week.
- Every new house from here on out should be built with a front porch.
The ghost of Carl Peterson is a strange beast. The spirit of his “close but no cigar” regime has infiltrated the mindset of certain Kansas Citians. This ghost, along with the ghost of Ewing Kauffman, still hangs over the hazy blue smoke that rises over the sports complex on game days. Mr. Kauffman does get somewhat of a pass since he DID deliver a championship to this area, but it’s funny that Peterson does not, considering he brought the Chiefs back to relevancy in the first place.
Years do that to us. We forget about the really good and let the really bad permeate our very spirited souls. Energy that could be spent on more productive things get sucked out of our bodies by loss after collective loss, until we have reached the point where losing is “normal”.
So the Chiefs are back in the playoffs, and for now the train is sitting in Union Station, idling.