Tag Archives: biters

OFF-TOPIC: Righting a wrong; Mahalo, baller

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post will have nothing to do with sports.  If you don’t want to read something that’s got nothing to do with sports, no hard feelings — I’ll see you Monday.

EDITOR’S NOTE, part deux: I owe a hat-tip to KSK for the headline … I hope I’m not misappropriating it too terribly for your tastes.

It wouldn’t be accurate to say I grew up with the comedy of Bill Hicks, but it wouldn’t be totally inaccurate either.  See, the first comedy album I fell in love with was Denis Leary’s No Cure for Cancer.

I wore that sucker out, man.  I listened to it pretty much every day in eighth grade, even cleaning up Leary’s NyQuil bit and performing it for a school-wide public speaking contest.  (I won my class competition, but lost in the eighth-grade finals to some chick reciting “Tikki Tikki Tembo” or something … fucking bullshit, dude.)

It wasn’t until far later that a college friend introduced me to Hicks’ stand-up, beginning a career of admiration that at times borders on proselytizing when I find out that likeminded individuals have never listened to him, and even led to an image of the man being included in a hastily assembled and poorly constructed photo illustration that serves as this site’s unique banner.  (I’m sure he’d be thrilled to share studio space with the Shoryuken.)

Of course, part of being introduced to Hicks is learning of the popular comedy argument that Leary was a thief, a journeyman Boston hack that had appropriated Hicks’ persona and stole chunks of his act, then used it to successfully market himself as the kind of buzz comic that can be sold to overweight suburban 13-year-olds as “edgy.”  The debate between the two comedians’ supporters is lengthy and jam-packed with vitriol … check out some side-by-sides of the material in question if you’d like to judge for yourself.

I wound up falling on the pro-Hicks side; the tonal and material similarities were too much for me to ignore.  (Hicks’ alleged response to an interviewer’s question about Leary’s supposed theft: “I have a scoop for you. I stole his act. I camouflaged it with punchlines, and to really throw people off, I did it before he did.”)

But it was more than that … the more I listened to Hicks (another friend was kind enough to dub me a copy of Philosophy, which I still listen to every few weeks), the more I read by and about him (Love All the People remains one of my favorite books) and certainly the more I watched him (Bill Hicks Live: Satirist, Social Criticm Stand-Up Comedian ought to be required viewing), the harder it became to enjoy Leary’s stand-up.  It felt like I had spent years happily enjoying Steak-umms, then got treated to a juicy Porterhouse.  I mean, the thing I used to like was still OK, I guess … but man, how fucking good was this new thing?

One of the more controversial elements of Hicks’ career was the censorship of his Oct. 1, 1993, appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman.”  The in-depth details of the affair, recounted late in Love All the People, are sadly not available in the Google Books version, but the rundown in the foreword is (pgs. vii through xi), and it sets things up pretty well.

Here’s the gist: Hicks did some material making fun of the pro-life movement and the Christian celebration of Easter, someone got scared, and producer Robert Morton called Hicks to tell him the set had been cut.  Hicks pressed for an explanation and/or a tape copy of the set, which led to a game of hot potato between the “Late Show” producers and CBS’ standards-and-practices department, neither one of which would take responsibility for the decision or give Hicks what he wanted.  It was one of the last major career events in Hicks’ life — he died less than five six months later (EDITOR’S NOTE: Nice counting, dick), on Feb. 26, 1994, after a bout with pancreatic cancer.

Last night, nearly 16 years after inexplicably chopping her son’s set, Letterman brought Mary Hicks, Bill’s mother, on the show to apologize for the “heartache and sadness [his] decision caused [her] family.”  He also, at long last, played the set.  And of course, because the Internet is awesome, the whole deal is now available on YouTube.  So without further ado:

Here’s part 1, in which Letterman discusses the circumstances surrounding the bit being cut:

Part 2, in which Mary Hicks proudly talks about her son, letting through just a glimmer of the hurt that Letterman’s censorship caused her son and comporting herself quite well (even showcasing a bit of natural timing):

And finally, what we’ve all been waiting for: Part 3, Hicks’ censored “Late Show” performance:

Since last night, I’ve been fixated on Letterman’s reaction after the clip ends … the quick head-shake, the immediacy with which he claims the situation says more about him than it does about Hicks, the disappointment, maybe even disgust, that he allowed this thing to take on such a life of its own.  Welcome contrition.

More than anything, though, last night’s events gave me the image of Bill Hicks that I think I want to remember — looking happy, doing smart, biting material that’s still resonant after more than 15 years, and flat-out killing.  A star shining brightest just before it flames out.  It’s a beautiful sight.


Devine’s Got TBJ Beef

It especially solves everything if the problem is, My path is obstructed by a douchebag in a camouflage shirt.   1 2 fight u.

It especially solves everything if the problem is, "My path is obstructed by a douchebag in a camouflage shirt." 1 2 fite u. 4 realz.

When the shit goes down

Ya betta be ready

– Cypress Hill, “When The Shit Goes Down”

(NOTE: The music starts around :40, but the dramatic fervor and Latin flavor of the first 40 seconds are both inspired and inspiring, so you should watch.)

That was my mistake: I wasn’t ready. It almost escaped my notice when the gauntlet was thrown down earlier this week.

As has been the case since the start of the basketball season, I was a couple of days behind on The Basketball Jones — I used to listen to the audio podcast at work, but since they moved me into an office (that’s right — the kid’s IMPORTANT) without an easily accessible headphone jack (OK, maybe not) and I suck at remembering to update my iPod before work, I usually trail a bit.  So it was a nice surprise when Brian informed me via Twitter that Skeets and Tas had answered my question on the Jones’ Inauguration Day episode.

Psyched to have worked my way onto the netwaves again, I waited until the coast was clear at the office, cranked up my shitty monitor speakers and set about watching the Jones.  My e-mail was a follow-up on a previous show’s discussion of the league’s greatest post-shot celebrations, and I was pleased that they’d decided to voice my choice: Patrick Ewing’s uncontrollable sweating.

Wanna know the secret to Pat's healthy glow? NEVER BEING CONFIDENT HE'D MAKE AN IMPORTANT SHOT.

Wanna know the secret to Pat's healthy glow? NEVER BEING CONFIDENT HE'D MAKE A BIG SHOT.

So imagine my surprise at the 13:51 minute mark, when Skeets read “my” e-mail:


Hmm.  That’s not what I wrote in about.  Weird.

No big deal, though — I just figured that in the rush of putting together a top-notch daily broadcast while also hustling to do Canadian stuff (you know, like figuring out Fahrenheit-to-Celsius conversions, proudly nodding and smiling at one another while listening to Rush-Bryan Adams-Snow mashups, never littering, etc.), the boys got my e-mail mixed up with someone else’s.  Not wanting to steal someone’s moment of glory, I fired off an e-mail to make the powers that be aware of the mistake.  Here’s the reply:

Did we type that out as ‘Devine’? It was meant to say ‘Divine’. Someone signed off their email that way…

Simple enough.  Question answered, problem acknowledged, crisis averted.  Now chuckle at the coincidence, take a hearty sip of coffee, cue up “Good Life” in your head and recline in your office, baby!

… your TBJ identity has been stolen.

/spits coffee on valuable reports while in mid-chuckle and briefly chokes, turning laughter to choke-induced tears and causing internal brain needle on “Good Life” record to scratch, which brings the strains of T-Pain to a halt


Now you listen here, fellow-Basketball-Jones-fan-who-either-shares-my-name-or-a-variant-on-my-name-I’m-not-entirely-sure-which-since-the-e-mail-wasn’t-super-clear-but-nevertheless-is-totally-not-me: I almost kind of EARNED my Basketball Jones identity.  And I’m not going to have some Johnny-Come-Lately start horning in on my nameturf.

I’ve paid my dues over the last two seasons. I’ve posted comments that no one found funny or insightful.  I’ve e-mailed in a woefully off-base tip about a Simmons column that included an insult of the Raptors’ starting five that was actually an obvious joke, leading to an embarrassing retraction that’s best left forgotten by all.  I’ve called the Jones Line to leave messages about Jason Maxiell’s jump shot that never had any prayer of getting on-air.  And occasionally, once in a blue moon, I’ve contributed something that made JD take pity on me, and let my stuff get on the show.

I called the Jones to admit that I had a hard time deciding between sex with my girlfriend and watching the fourth quarter of Game 4 of Celtics/Lakers.  What have you ever done?!

I’m gonna find you, Jones-e-mailer-whose-Twitter-handle-should-really-be-NOT_THE_REAL_DEVINE/POSSIBLY_THE_REAL_DIVINE.  I’m gonna get Vinny Del Negro, and I’m gonna find you, and we’re gonna assassinate your confidence.  I’m gonna patch things up with Jerome James, and we’re going to eat your self-esteem.  I’m gonna buy Antoine Walker a drink, and we’re gonna DUI your coping mechanisms.

Then, once me and a slew of basketball outcasts have eviscerated your sense of self, you’ll finally know the answer to the age-old question: “What’s beef?”

Beef is innocently and inadvertently usurping someone’s generic commenting handle and getting made fun of on the Internet for it.  Boom.

Bidding a fond farewell to a journalistic icon

It's a sad day, fellow friends of the fishwrap.

It’s a sad day, fellow friends of the fishwrap. (Photo illustration courtesy of http://www.tombstonebuilder.com and this is the city line. staff)

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (TCL) — One of the most decorated turns of phrase in sports journalism history has died, leaving a nation of headline writers stunned andat least momentarilyat a loss for words.

“[NAME] Gets Hall Pass,” a fill-in-the-blank formulation with legions of fans and frequent users throughout sports writing, passed away yesterday, according to a spokesman for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The idiom’s exact age could not be immediately determined, though some accounts suggest its use may date back to the early 19th century.

“It really is a dark day, not only for sports journalism, but really for hack journalism of all stripes,” said AOL Sports writer Jay Mariotti.

The phrase derived relevance and comedic value from its repurposing of a device commonly used to exit high school classrooms as a means of entering a sport’s Hall of Fame. It gained prominence as copy editors — frequently pressed for time as they attempted to compose headlines for stories about athletes’ chances of achieving entry — reached again and again for the cooling salve of a quick pun.

“It was perfect,” said longtime Atlanta Journal-Constitution copy editor Alvin McGraw, who retired from the paper in 2006. “Every January, [former Atlanta Braves outfielder] Dale Murphy would come up in the vote, every year he’d fall short, and we just had to turn the thing around and plug his name in: ‘MURPHY DENIED HALL PASS.’  One less thing to worry about, right?”

Friends and colleagues were stunned by the news, citing the popular phrase’s appearance on www.mlb.com mere hours before its passing in a story about the entrance of all-time stolen bases leader Rickey Henderson and taciturn slugger Jim Rice into baseball’s Hall.

The Cooperstown medical examiner’s office has yet to determine a cause of death, but a spokesman indicated that preliminary toxicology reports indicate a strong chance that years of rampant mug abuse played a role.

Jokes and jokes and jokes, gang. Hat tip to Skeets at Ball Don’t Lie for the “fake news” concept.

Yo, A-Rod

I heard you got a sick pool.

Stop biting off Wilt:


Hat tip to the fine folks at UmpBump.

Doug Christie is Launching a New Online Venture? Siiiiiiiiick

Book Titles That Don't Even Begin to Cover It, FTW.

A question for you, fair reader: How often do you find yourself saying, “Man, life’s the balls and all, but there’s just one thing missing: A family-oriented Internet ‘television’ network programmed by former basketball player Doug Christie and his reportedly weeeeeird wife Jackie”?

If you answered “at all,” have I got awesome news for you:

From the sometimes unconventionally punctuated press release, which calls the Christies a “power team” and “the NBA’s most influential couple” (this despite the fact that your man hasn’t laced them up in the big show since playing seven games for the Clips in ’06-’07):

(Hollywood, CA) — Entrepreneurs, Doug and Jackie Christie launch an Internet Television Network, ‘Christie TV’ at www.christietvonline.com. Christie TV will have programs covering content ranging from major and indie artist interviews, tutorials and “How-To’s,” producer and music executive tips, documentaries, movies, reality TV, as well as sports broadcast and much more. Production has already begun and will be based out of Hollywood California, Seattle Washington, and Washington DC.

“We are providing a new online network that will have superior programming that caters to all aspects of television and still sends a positive message,” states Jackie Christie.

According to the release, projects on deck include:

  • “Chani’s Story,” an original series featuring “teen pop sensation” Chani — also known as Chantel Christie, the power couple’s daughter;
  • “The Low,” a “variety show … with a format similar to a modern day ‘In Living Color'”;
  • A video version of their Blog Talk Radio show (if he were here, Wilt would want the Christies to stop biting off Tas and Skeets);
  • Probably something stuffed to the brim with the kind of lovey-dovey horseshit that makes you feel like less of a man just by contemplating it.

And just to get you out on the right note, the release ends in some meaningless corporate-speak and PR lingual jiu-jitsu:

Jackie Christie, Co-Founder, went on to say that a second goal is to make the Network interactive with its subscribers through unique use of the latest technology.

Wondrous.  Listen, I don’t like rooting for people to fail … no, wait, I love doing that.  FAIL, CHRISTIES.  FAIL LIKE YOU’VE NEVER FAILED BEFORE.

(One more thing: I need people of all creeds and religious backgrounds to stop using the word “family” when they mean “boring-ass Christian-themed.”  I got no truck with people that live their faith and want to broadcast it in the process, but there are lots of different kinds of families out there; some, like the Devine family, vastly prefer programming peppered with adult language, mature situations and possibly even strong sexual content.  [Especially Mom.]  We’re not spoken to by such a narrowly tailored definition, and we’d prefer not having to come up with a new word to describe our method of interrelation, lest we find ourselves mistaken for the type of folks who’d watch Christie TV.)

Yo, Stop Biting Off Wilt

For virtually all of his too-short life, pivot god Wilt Chamberlain was a physical and cultural oddity — a nimble giant with a personality completely proportionate to his colossal stature.  He scored 100 points against a pre-Dominant Team Pringles incarnation of the Knicks.  He also reportedly slept with 45,923,479,563,406,723,480 women, which is pretty sick, but also makes him sound retroactive Mr. Lonely.  These are the things that pretty much everyone knew about him.

What some might not have known about the Stilt?  Dude hated biters (5:39 mark is where the discussion really gets down).

His whole life, nothing made him as angry as people co-opting his style.  Not even playing against Bill Russell, and dude DID NOT LIKE PLAYING AGAINST BILL RUSSELL.

Sadly, even though we lost Chamberlain nearly a decade ago, folks are still trying to copy.  Here at this is the city line., we don’t take such slights lying down.  What follows is a list (admittedly, only a partial one) of people, places and things that need to stop biting off Wilt.  Feel free to leave yours in the comments.


Stop biting off Wilt:



Stop biting off Wilt:



Stop biting off Wilt:



Stop biting off Wilt:


Unlinked Wilt images courtesy of the boundless excellence of the LIFE magazine photo archive.