tom smith | make green bay weird | march 2017
How would I sum up Super Bowl LI? Four words: best Super Bowl ever! No Super Bowl comes close to the improbable turn of events that transpired. First overtime ever in a Super Bowl that also required converting two, two-point conversions. Atlanta, you had a 28-3 lead and you blew it. What's up with that? I'll tell you what's up with that, the Falcons stood back and allowed a hurricane named James White to blow on through. I might as well address the elephant in the room: James White should have been the MVP of Super Bowl LI. His crucial receiving, running and scoring (three touchdowns and a two-point conversion) was the reason the Patriots made the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, including the touchdown that literally won the game in overtime. The last time I saw a NFL player get robbed this bad of a Super Bowl MVP was when Richard Dent was awarded the MVP over Jim McMahon in Super Bowl XX. Don't get me wrong, I'm not here to deflate the contribution of Tom Brady in this game, but clearly, James White was the MVP. I was especially happy to see James White's stellar performance, including his Super Bowl record fourteen receptions, because about thirty minutes before the Super Bowl started, I proclaimed to everyone who attended my Super Bowl house party that James White would be thee impact player for the Patriots. I knew Bill Belichick would have a secret weapon on deck and since James White hadn't been featured very much in the post season, I knew it would be his turn.
Tom Brady is now being called the greatest quarterback of all time because he now has five rings. Let's not forget Bart Starr has five NFL championships, three of them consecutively. Joe Montana has four Super Bowl victories with no Super Bowl losses. Brady is going to need two more rings with no more Super Bowl losses before I would move him ahead of Joe Cool. Otto Graham, who's entire 10-year career, when the last game of every season was the championship, won seven (four of them AAFC, three of them NFL).
Bill Belichick now has five rings as a head coach, but he also has some work to do before I would rank him the greatest coach in NFL history. Coaches I would rank Belichick ahead of now are Joe Gibbs, Bill Parcells — don't forget that Belichick as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns used Vinny Testaverde to beat the Bill Parcells-led Patriots in the playoffs, also Parcells has no rings without Belichick as his defensive coordinator — Bill Walsh, who left the NFL coaching game too early, Tom Landry, Don Shula (the Shank Hall of NFL coaches) and Chuck Noll. Coaches I would still rank ahead of Bill would be Vince Lombardi, who in my opinion will probably never be dethroned as the greatest. If Bill wins two more, I would consider revisiting that statement, especially if he could pull off a threepeat. Paul Brown is still number two and the coach who brought the most innovation to the NFL ever. Watch a NFL game this upcoming season and so much you will see still is because of the vision of Paul Brown. George Halas, the old man practically invented the NFL and has six titles, had a knack for hiring assistant coaches who helped innovate the league. I still think it's criminal that Clark Shaughnessy is not in the Hall of Fame. Curly Lambeau, six titles, and he formed the Packers. My gut feeling is that Belichick eventually passes Lambeau, Halas and Brown to settle in at number two behind Lombardi. I've been blessed to witness many great NFL coaches during my lifetime, but Belichick is clearly the cream of that crop. I would just like to remind the readers of Frankly Green Bay that in last September's issue I predicted the Patriots would win the Super Bowl.
So now that 2017 has gotten the Super Bowl out of the way, it's time to talk about the most important sporting event of the year, Wrestlemania, which takes place this year in Orlando, Florida. The New Day, who besides being the longest-reigning tag team champions of all time, have been named hosts of Wrestlemania this year. The one downfall I see to this is, I assume, because they are the hosts, they will not be receiving a chance to win back their titles. They need to win the titles back because immediately after they lost them, the WWE got rid of their heinous looking copper colored belts and replaced them with a much-improved silver colored title. Since we're on the subject of wrestling, two legends of the squared circle recently passed away. The first was George “The Animal" Steele, a WWE Hall of Fame wrestler beloved by millions. The one time I worked stage hand for the WWE in Green Bay, I got to meet George. He was working as a road agent (this was after his in-ring career concluded), and I told him I loved him in “Ed Wood," and he gave me a big smile. The very next day, we lost Ivan Koloff, a.k.a. The Russian Bear. Ivan not only was an inspiration for part of the lyrics of one of the greatest songs in music history, Dee Dee King's “The Crusher," but also was the man who ended the greatest championship reign in WWE history when on January 8, 1971, he defeated Bruno Sammartino at Madison Square Garden. How shocking was this title change? So shocking that the ring announcer refused to announce Koloff as the winner over fears a riot might ensue. Bruno had held that title for almost eight years. Ivan, at age 50, also wrestled for a new promotion called Eastern Championship Wrestling, which turned into Extreme Championship wrestling. The Russian Bear was hardcore.
I know many of you have been subjected to sleepless nights wondering my opinion of “Rogue One," the latest installment of the Star Wars franchise. The trailers for “Rogue One" got me very excited and set a high bar for my expectations of this movie. The previous movie, “The Force Awakens," I thought was truly awful. I instantly renamed it “The Farce Awakens." I waited how many years for a sequel to “Return of the Jedi" and they give me this dumpster fire? Stop me if you've heard this movie premise before: our heroes are on a desert planet looking for a droid that has plans for a weapon capable of destroying planets. Hello? I wasn't even impressed with the second Death Star in “Return of the Jedi." How'd they build that second one so quick? Right before my very eyes I was seeing my fears about Disney buying LucasFilm materializing. I'm happy to report “Rogue One" was so great it restored my faith in the Star Wars franchise. I would rank it behind only “Star Wars" and “Empire Strikes Back." Everything about this movie was great, the script (thank you for explaining how it was so easy to destroy the Death Star), the casting and those actors' performances and the special effects were top notch. K-2 also has won my heart as my favorite droid in the Star Wars saga. In fact, the only mechanized character that I can think of that I like better would be Bender from “Futurama" (and Flexo). My apologies to Twiki. My main hope going in to “Rogue One" was that they did something to establish Darth Vader as a true, legitimate badass, which they did, bigtime, in one of the very last scenes of the movie. That scene was mind blowing, like “The Exorcist" on crack, and one of the high points of the movie for sure. When I purchase this movie on Blu-Ray in April, I know I will always have the option to que up that scene and fire myself up for whatever the day has in store for me.
Mark “Porkchop" Holder
“Let It Slide"
Alive Natural Sound Records
Timebomb rating: 16 out of 13.
I first became familiar with Mark when he played Green Bay at the Main Stage as part of the Black Diamond Heavies. I quickly realized Mark was the real deal, not only as a musician, but as a human being. I remember the Main Stage was playing a solo recording by Pat MacDonald (who I'm happy to report has beaten his cancer) and Mark inquired as to who the artist was and how he could get some of his music. Flash forward to 2017 and Mark has given us “Let It Slide," which already has become the odds on favorite for blues/blues rock album of the year. Did you like the Rolling Stones album “Blue & Lonesome"? I did also, it's outstanding, but that album is hamburger, “Let It Slide" is filet mignon that has been blessed by the holy trio of Howlin' Wolf, Son House and R.L. Burnside. Of this album's nine songs, only two were not written by Mr. Holder, and in a weird coincidence, because I know this isn't intentional, “Let It Slide" reminds me of the swampy blues sound of Pat MacDonald's current band, Purgatory Hill. If you love Purgatory Hill, you need to hear this album.
On April 1 at the Lyric Room you will have an opportunity to see these songs played live by Mark and his band MPH. Also appearing on the bill is the pride and joy of Wausau, 20 Watt Tombstone, the Green Bay debut of Sheboygan's Lucifer's Crank and Green Bay's very own Jiffy Slim. Besides the Blasters May 11 at the Lyric Room, this is the show I'm most looking forward to currently. Hope to see you there.
Live long and eat turnbuckles.
Since 1984, when he first began selling records at Galaxy of Sound inside the Port Plaza Mall, Tom Smith has been part of the Green Bay music scene. Promoting his first show in 1986 and hitting his stride with the Concert Café (1995-2001), Smith continues to promote shows in Green Bay. He first honed his journalistic chops while serving as a student DJ at WGBW, interviewing such icons as Motörhead and the Ramones. Today you can find him championing live music and managing The Exclusive Company in Green Bay.