Flight or Fight
Thursday, Nov 12th, 2015, 8:44pm CT
My phone rang like a thunderclap, interrupting the second half of the Thursday Night Football game between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets. It was managing editor of Decibel Magazine, Andrew Bonazelli.
Gobbo: “Somebody better be dead. Hello.”
Bonazelli: (Jets game blaring in the background) “Gobbo. It’s Bonzo.”
Gobbo: “Are you calling to cry cuz the Jets are losing right now?”
Bonazelli: “Nope. Drop everything. We need you on a plane first thing tomorrow morning.”
Gobbo: "Remember the song 'On a Plane' by Nirvana? Well, that won't be me tomorrow."
Bonazelli: “God, you have the worst jokes. You're headed to Housecore Fest in San Antonio.”
Gobbo: “Dude, as much as you know how much I love real estate conventions, you KNOW I don’t get up before 11 a.m.. So, there’s NO WAY I’ll be at an airport at 7 a.m. tomorrow.”
Bonazelli: “Well, you better be, or else you’ll be working for Rip Magazine come Monday morning.”
Gobbo: “Oh, fuck yeah, I’m cool with that. I love Rip.”
Bonazelli: “Listen, asshole…”
Gobbo: (Hangs up phone)
I immediately googled Rip Magazine, my apparent new employer come Monday. When I found out they had been out of business for the past decade, I immediately got Bonzo’s sarcasm and returned his call on my hands and knees (which I soon realized he couldn’t see over a phone call).
Bonazelli: “I knew you’d come around. 7 a.m. at O’Hare. And you better hope and pray the Jets win this game or I’m downgrading your ticket.”
I was in a last-row coach seat at 40,000 feet the next morning.
Friday, Nov 13, 2015, 8:55am, CT
I strolled onto the plane rocking my best Axl Rose look (in honor of the reunion): fold tied back bandanna, sunglasses, horrible attitude.
Someone called my name:
“Gobbo! You made it.”
A wave of paranoia washed over me.
My friends Tony and Dave were on the plane. Apparently, months before this, I had agreed to attend the fest with them. Plumb forgot.
I hate flying, so someone slipped me what I thought was a Xanix. It was actually a sleeping pill. Reminded me of the time I thought I took ecstasy in high school. Turns out it was an Excedrin (a white pill with the letter E on it). I still raved like Go that night.
I passed out and woke up in the hometown of Shawn Michaels.
I’m joking about Housecore being a real estate fest. It’s actually a heavy metal/horror fest curated by the one and only Phil Anslemo, who for my money is the closest thing I may have on this planet to a hero, besides Brian Urlacher, Charles Tillman, Mike Ditka and the entire '85 Bears team, of course. Horror films screened on the convention floor of the hotel, amazing, and diverse bands playing all weekend (King Diamond, Negative Approach, Drop Dead, COC, what have you), all with the downtown San Antone as the backdrop.
Friday, Nov 13, 2015, 4:59pm, CT
I arrived at the hotel, started pounding drinks like a bitch, and headed to night one of the gig. Looking back on it, I’d have to say Agoraphobic Nosebleed won the fest. They’ve played like two shows ever, and they were one of the tightest bands I’ve ever seen, which covers about 6 million bands.
A close second was Exodus, who leveled the place on Friday night. It was right before Exodus’s set that I actually did my own Toxic Waltz in the bathroom, when I turned the wrong way and felt my left knee pop. I immediately got nauseous from the pain. Since the only thing I know of is NFL-related injuries, I immediately assumed I tore my ACL and was on IR for the remainder of the fest.
I saw a doctor upon my return home. She informed me that I in fact only slightly sprained my knee, and I was a pussy. I responded with, “I would have rather you just said Mylanta.” She didn’t laugh at my joke. Have fun tracking my visit payment down via collections, Princess.
Injuries are tough to accept, and I plugged on, until finally I hit my hotel bed at 11:45 p.m. I had 45 minutes to rally and get down to the seventh floor to catch the 12:30 a.m. showing of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. I had it all planned out. I was going to yell out, “Fuck YOU! in the theater after Henry said this legendary line:
But sometimes you got to know when to fold them. I was in for the night.
Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak had to make an equally difficult decision this week, benching the legendary Peyton Manning after going 5/20 for 35 yards with 4 interceptions. Manning is nursing a partially torn plantar fascia in his left foot. In layman's terms…
Kubiak knows the deal with his Broncos: They have a sizable lead in the division, are likely to win the division easily (barring a tailspin), and likely to not get a first round bye with Cincy and the Pats playing the way they are.
The goal is to have Manning heal in time for the last couple games before the playoffs, shaking off the cobwebs, and rolling the dice for a playoff run.
Peyton’s a warrior, like me. Injuries may curb us, but will not defeat us.
We’ll see you in December, Peyton, for one last shot at glory, which I still feel is looming for you.
Sat, Nov 14, 2015, 3:11pm CT.
I’m still nursing my bum knee as I’m sitting in the hotel conference room awaiting the premiere of the documentary I Am Thor, chronicling the life of Thor, the legendary theatrical metal icon whose career spans 50 years. I positioned myself in the seat closest to the exit, in case I needed a quick bathroom break. As I stared out the door calculating the exact amount of steps to the bathroom (my OCD obviously kicking in), I saw a man roll by sporting a New Orleans Saints logo tattooed on his calf. This wasn’t just any Saints superfan. It was Phil Anselmo. His girlfriend Kate was in tow, who was also sporting a rad New Orleans Saints purse.
Really quick, I want to give props to Phil for his presence at the fest the whole weekend. He didn’t hide backstage. He was out and about, meeting and greeting people, being an amazing host. For the vast majority of the bands, Phil was on the side of the stage rocking out during their set. I’ve been to countless fests in my day; I can honestly say this had the most down-home, family-esque atmosphere of any of them.
My first instinct was to run up to Phil to ask him to adopt me, which I wanted to do since I was 13 years old. But I’m a football brain, and the logo sightings made me think of the Saints and the subpar season they’ve had this year. We all know their offense has ability to explode, case in point them putting up 52 against the Giants a couple weeks back. But their defense, oh, their defense…
Led by the NFL’s leading oaf, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, the Saints have maintained a bottom-tier defense the entire season. They grasped the coveted 32nd-ranked defense spot this weekend when they gave up a whopping 47 points to the Washington Redskins, of all teams. Jesus, when Kirk Cousins shreds your defense for 324 yards and 4 TDs, and a rookie RB has 131 yards (187 total yards) and a touchdown, you have massive problems!
Ryan is a notable players' coach. But as Tony Kornheiser said on Pardon the Interruption this Week, “Being a players' coach doesn’t mean anything if you don’t win.”
Someone agreed with Kornheiser for once, and Ryan was finally relieved of his duties Monday morning. I don’t know what’s next for Ryan, other than a fatass J and an even fatter ass.
Spoiled Brats (Sausage)
Sat, Nov 14, 2015, 11:11pm, CT
The main stage show ended, and it was time to see the aftershow down the street, whose cornerstone act was actually the aforementioned Thor.
I Am Thor was a great documentary, by the way. I recommend it to all heavy metal rock doc enthusiasts.
Side note on Thor: He was actually on our plane on our flight back to Chicago. He knew we were fans and he came up and introduced himself to us, which is unheard of for any metal legend. Actually, it’s pretty much unheard of for anyone in a band.
He gave me a CD and signed it. Right next to us was a drunken guy wearing sunglasses and a toupee. He was being disruptive. He was told by the airline staff that he wasn't going to be allowed on the plane because he was too drunk. Thor studied him, and seemed ready to intervene if the man ended up getting out of line. Fucking Thor rules!
Anyway, back to the aftershow:
Before the legendary hardcore punk band Fang went on, word spread throughout the venue that Ronda Rousey’s undefeated UFC reign of obnoxious terror had ended. She had just lost to Holly Holm. Now, earlier in the weekend, I had the foresight to place a bet on Holm getting major weight, so I bought me and another dude a shot.
Speaking of betting, I couldn’t help but think that every big money gambler in the world put the HOUSE on the Green Bay Packers this week at home against the Detroit Lions. I mean, I’ve been watching football since I came out the womb and wouldn’t in a million years have seen Green Bay losing to Detroit at home.
It’s easy to blame the noted Ditka sweater curse (which is three for three, by the way). But let's try to reference reality in to get to the bottom of why the Packers are on such a skid.
The Packers defense is middle of the road, and I’d almost venture to say overrated, all based around the fact that they have playmakers and defensive personnel like Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers and B.J. Raji on the team. You can’t get rid of grinders like A.J. Hawk and Charles Woodson and expect defensive production to remain the same.
One can also blame the lack of a run game led by mid-season bust Eddie Lacy, who was expected to be a top three back in the league this year.
What about their receivers? Randall Cobb was supposed to have a huge season this year, right? It’s tough for Cobb to be as explosive as he has been in recent memory when he’s not swinging from Jordy Nelson’s proverbial nuts. James Jones hasn’t been a proper replacement for the hole Nelson left.
But at the end of the day, the NFL’s anointed “Best Player” is probably the problem. He’s missing open targets; not by much, but he’s still missing. Low throws, high throws. Throws ahead and behind receivers. All very un-Rodgers like. You can also contribute this to defenses FINALLY figuring out how to play Rodgers. The KEY is to keep Rodgers in the pocket. Rodgers flourishes when he’s on the run and throwing outside the pocket, which is counterculture to most QB’s in the league. Also, Rodgers may be the best QB ever at taking advantage of what’s known as the “Free Play”: Drawing defenses offside, noticing 12 players on the field, and capitalizing on free play deep balls from there. Rodgers hit at least one free play for big yardage in his first six games. He hasn’t hit one in his last three games... not that those opportunities weren’t there.
From the Packers fan side, the blame game has begun.
For starters, and I have no clue why, Rodgers’ girlfriend Olivia Munn has been thrown under the bus by Packer Nation.
Like many things in life, there are social issues in play with this Munn thing.
Munn is a celebrity, and has chosen to drag Rodgers in to her world. She has openly talked in public about their sex life, for whatever reason, which has for sure turned off the overly conservative people of that state. People are willing to roll with it if the wins keep coming, but once they stop, not so much. These people were most likely also fueled by the “God doesn’t care about football” comment Rodgers blessed us with a few weeks back. Obviously a comment influenced by that of a Hollywood harlot.
Paralleling this Rodgers situation to Rousey’s ass-beating the other night, I find it curious that the Packers fans have been so quick to throw Rodgers and his world under the bus in a three-week span, much like Rousey’s fans threw her under the bus with her loss. Social media was flooded with anti-Rousey comments from her fans; she entered the match unprepared, she took Holm lightly, she was caught up in her own fake greatness, and her cockiness ultimately led to her demise.
Packers fans: This dude lead you to a Super Bowl championship a few years back. He has seamlessly helped your franchise transition from the Brett Favre era to further greatness. Give him a break. Trust me, 30 teams in the league would give up half their teams to have the QB you have.
Rousey fans: I’m okay with your ship jump. Don’t look back.
Next Time, I’ll Call an Uber
Sunday, Nov 15, 2015, 5:55pm
I landed at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. Or as I refer to it, the seventh circle of hell.
I made my way to the ground transportation pick-up curb and was greeted by a speeding black Hyundai Santa Fe with cigarette smoke billowing from it.
“Get the fuck in the car! We got to get home for the rest of the this Patriots/Giants game!”
My dad had arrived.
Of course, the Giants scored a go-ahead touchdown inside of two minutes that was ultimately overturned, leading to a field goal and a two-point Giant lead. But obviously, Brady with two minutes left is like most QBs having a full quarter to work with.
We got home just in time to see the final drive of the Pats, which resulted in midfield position and a 54-yard field goal attempt by Stephen Gostkowski. My dad laughed and said, “There’s no way he makes this kick.” He made it.
Yet ANOTHER down-to-the-wire game between the Giants and the Patriots in their storied history. Interesting note on Gostkowski: He actually passed Adam Vinatieri as leading point scorer of all time this past weekend.
In football, there are rivalries. They usually exist in within a division, or worst-case scenario a conference. How the New York Giants and the New England Patriots have crossed paths in so many big to major games, all coming down to the wire, all behind Tom Brady and the man I deem the Bizarro Tom Brady, Eli Manning, is amazing.
Nothing really else to say about this, other than this is probably the rivalry that will define this generation of football. Yes, the Pats/Peyton Manning rivalry comes very close. But I ultimately feel the Peyton team change a few years back tarnishes it.
Another Pats/Giants Super Bowl is top on my wish list for dream matches I’d love to see one more time.
I connect sports and music a lot in this column. Perhaps it’s because I’m writing a sports column for a metal magazine. Actually, that aside, I feel it’s very easy to connect the two. The main connection I see is both's uncanny ability very organically unite total strangers, as superficial as that may sound.
This past Friday, a bomb went off outside a soccer stadium in France. It was followed by unfathomable acts at a rock concert down the street.
I watched multiple bands give shout-outs to the victims in France at Housecore this past weekend.
I also watched every NFL game begin with a moment of silence for the victims of the tragedy.
Things like this come off as cheesy at times, yes, but ultimately, I feel serve a purpose. They don't turn back time, right wrongs, or prevent future wrongs from happening. But if only for a moment, they put things in perspective, and I feel that alone makes them great.
Pick of the Week
Green Bay over Minni straight up