Wednesday, June 27, 2012

No More Doubt in the Martin/Zimmerman Conflict, Please?

ho was at fault in the Trayvon Martin death? This debate is still going strong all over the United States and various countries throughout the world, and it shouldn’t even be a debate to begin with. Among many critical details and all of the things both parties in the case meticulously focus on in this entire situation, are a few very common-sense facts which should open-and-shut this entire case right away. These few details make it impossible for me to even begin to blame Trayvon Martin at all. But before we even get into the details of the facts I’d like to address, a few details I’ve seen upset me more with humanity than a lot of the things to do with this case.

Trayvon Martin’s history with marijuana isn’t criminalizing. He enjoyed smoking weed. Estimates are that over 83 million Americans over age 12 smoke or have smoked marijuana. These same annual reports have found that over 50% of grade-12 students in the United States have smoked weed, and 40% are current users (within the past month of taking a survey). Marijuana is the most used illegal drug in the United States. Trayvon Martin isn’t in a small crowd. And marijuana doesn’t make a person more aggressive. Marijuana doesn’t make people attack others. Marijuana doesn’t make people beat the living hell out of someone for nothing. If anything, the only fact about marijuana that would stand out is that marijuana (if Trayvon got high before going to the store) would have limited Martin’s reaction time in the situation.

A hoody doesn’t make you a criminal, Geraldo Rivera. I’ve never been to Florida, but I’ve lived in Louisiana, and I know that there were evenings in July where I needed a jacket, and I’m from Maryland, so I’m accustomed to cooler weather than the American South offers. Even Zimmerman was wearing a jacket, so why does a kid in a hoody become portrayed as a villainous criminal?

One fact stands out above all else that proves Martin’s innocence, and it’s the story every member of Zimmerman’s family has told, and it’s the story that the 911 operator can offer. George Zimmerman called the police, told the operator he lost Martin, and the operator told him to stay in his car and wait for the police to arrive. Nobody, community watch or civilian, is supposed to pursue someone that they believe is a criminal. And if Zimmerman feared for his life like his brother claims (on record saying “George was worried, so he cautiously peaked around the corner of a house and Martin jumped out and attacked him”) he wouldn’t have pursued. In fact, that account right there tells me all that I need to know about Martin. He was a poor kid terrified that some old lunatic or pervert was following him, and he hid, in the night, behind the corner of someone’s house terrified about what was going to happen.

If I can intervene from the story for a moment, I’d just like to go on record now as saying that my children will be armed wherever they go in this world, and they will be told that unless they’re being called out for by a police officer who can provide a badge, that they are to protect themselves with murder if they’ve got to. I’d rather my children be wrong in guessing that a person is trying to harm them, and being alive and well, than they be attacked, raped, or murdered.

As I was saying, Martin was terrified. Some old man was yelling out of his car for him to stop, and he did what anyone should teach their child to do, ignore them and be cautious of their next move. Martin ignored Zimmerman, hid, and was approached… the kid saw Zimmerman peak around the corner for him, and for all he knew, he was about to be attacked, raped, and/or murdered. So he fought to defend himself. And here’s where details get sketchy again… because the only story we really have is Zimmerman’s and a “witness” report.

Martin was seen on top of Zimmerman pounding him, beating his head into the ground, punching him repeatedly in the face, and smothering him. Zimmerman’s story is all about beating his head into the ground and smothering him, and Zimmerman insists he was screaming “HELP!” with all of his energy before resorting to pulling his gun and shooting Martin in the chest. Zimmerman even says, “He was crushing my nose trying to smother me, covering my mouth. I couldn’t breathe, I was beginning to pass out, I yelled ‘HELP!’ and grabbed for my gun and I had to shoot him to save myself.” If Martin’s hands, with all of his weight, were pressed against Zimmerman’s nose and covering his mouth, George wasn’t going to yell “HELP!” Damn sure not as clear and loud as it came out in the 911 call.

Photos of Zimmerman taken at the police station indicate that Martin did indeed beat Zimmerman. But I’m more of the belief that Zimmerman pulled the gun, Martin saw and yelled for help, and was shot to death. Did Zimmerman pursue Martin with the INTENT to shoot him? I don’t know. Did he pursue him against law enforcement command? Yes. Should he have stayed in his car? Absolutely. Martin reacted in self-defense by every logical term in the book. Could Martin have swung first? Of course. Does that make him the aggressor? No. Zimmerman was the aggressor the moment he exited his vehicle and pursued Martin on foot. At the end of the day, Zimmerman made a stupid decision, did not cooperate with law enforcement, and a young boy is dead because of it.

There’s no way Zimmerman deserves defense from anyone in this country, or world. If it’s not apparent to you that Zimmerman is guilty, I feel sorry for what went wrong in your upbringing. And if Zimmerman is found not guilty in one or both trials (as the FBI have now begun examining this as a hate crime), I hope the only trial that matters, before God upon judgment by the only who can judge, sees Zimmerman find the punishment he deserves.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Least or Most Exciting NBA Finals?

These have been the most least exciting NBA Finals in recent memory. It’s compelling storytelling at its finest. LeBron James, your league MVP and villain teamed with his Heat superhero faction who fizzled out last year in the Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, takes one side of the court. At the other end, Kevin Durant, the young hero who did everything right coming out of high school, going to college, being drafted by a young, struggling team and helping fortify that team into a dominant group of young players gelling together. Durant could have been MVP this season, and nobody would have been hurt. Instead, LeBron won it and a lot of fans LeBron’s haters swore Durant was the more deserving of the award.

Miami struggled through the playoffs, but LeBron provided sparks when fans swore he’d shy away. At times, he did but his teammates forced the ball right back into his hands with just enough time for LeBron to make something happen. The Thunder, on the other hand, seemingly coasted through until the first two games of the Western Conference Finals against the experienced, high-powered offense of the 20-game winning-streak San Antonio Spurs. Suddenly, Durant, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook put it all on their backs, dominated, and won 4-straight to seal their trip to the NBA Finals.

In game 1, the Thunder played lights out. It was like they’ve been playing in the Finals their entire lives. They scored at will, played stifling defense, and continued to build on what they did to arguably the best team in the league in the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals. An 11-point lead, leaving everyone to believe the mass predictions of “Thunder in 6” were coming true. LeBron didn’t struggle, but Wade did, tremendously, in his worst Finals’ appearance. But then Miami adjusted, and the Spurs didn’t. Chris Bosh got more minutes, got to play the post, and LeBron attacked the paint the way fans have clamored for since his second year in the league. Miami got away with 1, and LeBron had a 4th quarter heroic.

Game three started off as sloppily as the Thunder could have ever envisioned in a nightmare. Their first quarter was horrendous, disappointing, and left fans wondering how they ever managed to get here. But they started to come back in the third, and in the 4th, they got it down to 2 points with minutes remaining. Kevin Durant takes an inbound pass, LeBron was not ready, and Durant is fouled before and during the shot, he misses, so he’s going to the line for two. Then there’s no foul called, Miami has the ball, Durant is sprinting back to play defense, and the Heat are scoring to take a sizeable lead and the game is now out of OKC’s reach. Miami goes up 2-1.

Game 4 started the exact opposite. Miami struggled, the Thunder put on a barrage, scoring 33 points in the 1st quarter and holding the Heat to virtually nothing. They played brilliant offense, they forced turnovers, they shot at a high percentage. Then everything started to crumble. They lost the lead, it flipped back and forth for 3 quarters, and the referees gave the Heat the benefit of the doubt in every call. They didn’t call obvious calls (I’m thinking of you, Haslem, as you tackled Fisher for a rebound) and the Thunder were stymied by the refs, having to win 2 games in 1. Russell Westbrook was having the time of his life, scoring at will, at one point in the 4th sinking 5 consecutive shots. But James Harden tried to get a call, any call, on a fast break, slowing down forcing a defender to bump him… but Chalmers was smart and sidestepped him, and forced him to put it up, because nobody from the Thunder was running up the court to be an assist.

The play draws major questions to the basketball IQ of Harden, but also of the entire Thunder team. Harden tried forcing a foul instead of getting the easy buckets. Memo to Harden – they foul you to prevent the easy bucket. It’s called an EASY bucket for a reason.

Harden missed the layup, didn’t extend the lead, and Miami responded at the other end of the court and took the lead… and they never gave it back. LeBron laid on the bench the final 4 minutes in severe pain from cramps. Durant couldn’t hit shots he had drawn up for him when Westbrook was the hot hand. Mario Chalmers played the hero to Miami basketball with a career playoff night. And Miami extended their lead to 3-1 with a chance to close out the Thunder in the Finals, in Miami, tonight.

If the Thunder are going to keep fighting, tonight is the night to start. The entire organization needs to be smarter. Scott Brooks needs to lead his team to victory, and make adjustments to Bosh in the paint. Perkins and Ibaka need to be utilized more as scorers, which means Durant & Harden need to join Westbrook’s violent shooting percentage from the other night in order to force Miami to contest them from deep and get Perkins and Ibaka clean looks down low.

Oklahoma City need to respond to every point the Heat score with LeBron driving. He’s going to get those points if he goes into the paint and Ibaka can’t block him. The Thunder need to move the ball and make Miami run. LeBron is cramping up, Wade’s back is hurt, Mike Miller can’t run anymore, and Shane Battier can’t keep up with you if you’re running and moving the ball to set up open shots. OKC, you’re young and fast, and you’ve outran everyone all year long, until now, against a team who can’t run. Don’t play Miami basketball and cry to the refs for every foul you think should go your way. Get back on defense and force tough shots. Make the easy baskets and let the fouls come when they do.

Otherwise, LeBron James finally wins his ring, and he does so in the fashion everyone has wanted to see him do it. Putting the team on his back, hitting big shots, driving to the basket, facilitating when he’s got to, and being the MVP of the league. This isn’t flopping LeBron. Sure, the Heat have the referees’ help, but they don’t need it; and that’s what makes this the least most exciting NBA Finals in recent memory.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Paul Heyman Rants On The State Of Pro Wrestling

Enigma’s going to hate me for blogging about wrestling, but I’ve got to do it.

Today, Paul E. “Dangerously” Heyman ranted on Twitter about the lack of stars in the business, the guys not stepping on toes to get ahead, the guys who don’t have that main event character. He talked about how humble-to-a-fault this generation of super[stars] is and offered words of encouragement to this highly-talented, underperforming group of entertainers in the business today. Instead of butchering Heyman’s rant, I’ll just copy and paste it for you to read up now.

I look at some of these pics, and I realize how blessed I was in my career. Some guys have to wait forever for a lucky break.
I managed @AustinIdolLive and Tommy Rich at the age of 21. Also The Orig Midnights, which I got to do on @ESPN. Got to book Windy City at 22 years old. Eddie Gilbert's assistant booker at same age. Got to debut in WCW on TBS at 23 years old So I was @JRsBBQ color commentator at 23 years old. NO ONE IS GIVEN THAT OPPORTUNITY IN TODAY'S ENVIRONMENT!
I will admit, with all modesty, I #Hustled my ass off, and GOT MYSELF the opportunity with ambition, politics, and pure assertiveness. Even "down periods" would give me the chance 2 work w/ people like Mean Mark. U know him as "The Undertaker" @WWE At 26, I managed @SteveAustinBSR, Rick Rude,Arn,Eaton, Zbyszko ... The Dangerous Alliance (didn't forget @Madusa_Rocks) 
I'm working with these legends, these giants of the industry, these absolute top guys in my 20s. In today's system, most super talented people spend a great portion of their 20's just trying to make it onto the main roster. And yes, that has to change.
I got to take over the creative of #ECW a week after my 28th birthday By the time I became @JRsBBQ commentator on @WWE #Raw in 2001, I was 35 years old. STILL a "kid" but I was already a veteran with decades in the business, and yet a 35 year old today would just be getting that chance and working with @JRsBBQ on #RAW allowed me to commentate Wmania 17 and @SteveAustinBSR vs @TheRock.
By the time I worked with Brock Lesnar, which has become my best known managerial role, I was 36 years old.
I look at some of these pics and videos #HustleTweeters send me, and I realize what an amazingly blessed career I've had. I've had more lucky breaks, more open doors, more perfect-storm-timing-opportunities than anyone else I've known. These pics don't just remind me of "accomplishments," they remind me of what a lucky bastard I've been to be able to work with these magnificent people, and play these roles, under these various circumstances. I've hit the lottery so many times, it's easy to just "expect" the next opportunity, or get a sense of entitlement. But I've never felt entitled. Always blessed. Privileged. Lucky as all Hell. And yet, I know how much hard work goes into it, and how you have to SCORE with your opportunities.
The next generation in this (or any other business) doesn't just need to "Step Up," they need to "Stand Up" and "Get Noticed!" Think it was easy for @CMpunk? Think it was easy for @WWEDanielBryan? They had to scratch and claw and fight for every inch of turf they could pry away from the previous generation, who made them fuckin' earn it!!! It's not about backstabbing. It's not about kissing ass. It's not about pulling a hot stunt and getting momentary publicity. It's about creating your own opportunity (like @SteveAustinBSR did with "Stone Cold") and working harder than every1 else looking for the big break, the next chance, the golden opportunity.
This isn't a pep talk. It's the lay of the land as I see it in today's sports entertainment industry. And while this may be a "stream of consciousness" diatribe, it's a message to those who may be getting frustrated; a message to those who may be wondering "will I ever get that chance? that break? that opportunity?" DON'T WAIT FOR IT TO COME TO YOU! RELY ON YOURSELF!!!
Do you think @SteveAustinBSR relied on anyone? Did HHH? Did @TheRock? Did Hulk Hogan? Did @CMpunk? With great humility, I ask you, did I? FUCK NO. If there was no opportunity, I created my own, pushed my way in, manipulated the circumstances to beg, borrow, plead, blackmail, bribe, cajole, threaten, bullshit and/or manufacture. All I wanted was a mic in my hand and a time frame in which I had to deliver my message. I knew I would score. I've seen it in this business for ages.
I saw @ShawnMichaels go from tag team wrestler to greatest all around in-ring performer ever. Think it was easy for him? I remember when Shawn and Marty were blackballed in the business, and could only work in Ala-fuckin-bama. Think it didn't take @ShawnMichaels everything "and then some" to break out of The Rockers and get a chance as "HBK"?
AMBITION. ASSERTIVENESS ... and the ABILITY TO BACK IT UP is what it takes to create the next generation of main eventers. The talent is there. The opportunity has never been more widespread. The need for new main eventers is readily apparent. "DOCILE" and "COMPLACENT" and "HUMBLE TO A FAULT" won't cut it. While a dose of humility is always needed, that "main event confidence" is just as important. And it's time for the next group of superstars to stake their claim and create their own generation for others to follow. Period. Excla-fuckin-mation point. The lecture is over. Pontification has ended. Hope I've been of help 2 ANYONE who follows this acct. and maybe even to someone who doesn't!

I shouldn’t have to say it, but he’s absolute, completely right. This is what made/makes Paul Heyman the greatest mind in professional wrestling the last 20-25 years. He took ECW and turned it into the #3 major professional wrestling promotion in North America & the world, and competed with tycoons like Ted Turner and all the minds in WCW and Vince McMahon and the world-famous WWF/E. Paul Heyman is so amazing a mind in the wrestling world that he showed up on Raw out of nowhere several weeks back to advance the Brock Lesnar storyline, and he delivered a promo better than 95% of the current roster in WWE and TNA have given in their entire career.

But he’s right, there’s nobody that just takes the chance and challenges the establishment. There’s nobody who stands up and does something spontaneous. The element of real is lost in what is delivered in the most scripted fashion possible. The element of real is lost on the embarrassing way that guys like CM Punk and Daniel Bryan are backseating with the most prestigious prize of ‘em all to John Cena and the Big Show. But there’s a reason fans cling to CM Punk and Daniel Bryan… they’re spontaneous… they’re real. The reason people clung on to The Rock when he came back is because The Rock represents real… spontaneity… a loose cannon of sorts. It’s the same reason people bought in to the REAL Brock Lesnar… bringing legitimacy back… he could say things that he shouldn’t, and do things that he shouldn’t… and it got people ready.

It’s the reason Cena’s Extreme Rules speech after facing Lesnar grabbed everyone… it was spontaneous, it seemed real. But we were left robbed again.

But enough of my own ranting… the point is that guys are waiting for chances that are never going to come, or will pass them by. There’s so much talent in the WWE, and they’re wasting themselves away as much as the WWE is. I’ve seen this rant from fans on forums for years… it’s always a fan saying that these guys need to just go out and do their own thing. CM Punk even said it… [paraphrased] you’ve got to go out and not be afraid to take a chance. You don’t want to push the envelope off of the table… but you need to push the envelope.

I still stand by what I’ve said all along… Paul Heyman should be a full-time WWE employee… writer, booker, character… he can decide… but it needs to happen. You’re not going to find many better minds, and you won’t find someone who knows how to get the most out of the talent he has to work with like Paul Heyman does.

And the world of professional wrestling desperately needs stars… a way to take the repetitiveness of John Cena vs. ___ in the main event of PPV’s.