It dawned on me today, as I was reading Irredeemable by Mark Waid (a comic book about the world’s greatest superhero who becomes the world’s greatest super villain) that I’m not happy about the Mavs winning the NBA title last night.
The concept of Irredeemable may be newish to comic books, but not to me. In the world of professional wrestling, it’s called a ‘heel turn.’ And the first time I saw it was in 1987 when Andre the Giant came on “Piper’s Pit” with Bobby “the Brain” Heenan and challenged Hulk Hogan to a match at WrestleMania III. A good guy became a bad guy. And I hated it. Because I was 8 years old.
In 1996, Hulk Hogan turned heel by joining the Outsiders (Scott Hall and Kevin Nash) to form the nWo. It got me back into wrestling. Although I didn’t like Hogan as a heel, it was interesting enough to get me back. Because I was 16.
And when LeBron James came out with The Decision last July, he effectively turned heel to the everyone outside of Miami. And I liked it. Because I’m a goddamn adult.
‘Sports entertainment’ is a weird term for me because sports is entertainment. And, just like pro wrestling or movies or anything else in entertainment, sports need bad guys too. We look back at Muhammad Ali with reverence for the times he said he was the greatest of all time, but when LeBron says he and the Heat are going to win, “not five, not six, not seven” championships, or whatever, we hate him without the same irony that we hate any other great villain in entertainment? It’s bullshit.
Red Sox fans might hate the Yankees, but are you really going to tell me that the comeback win in the 2004 playoffs wasn’t sweeter because they went through New York to get to the World Series? Are you going to tell me that seeing their former beloved son, Wade Boggs (a wrestling fan), on horseback after the 1996 World Series (or Bucky Dent in 1978 or Aaron Boone in 2003) didn’t make all the years of waiting and finally defeating New York that much better? The Yankees were painted as the Evil Empire by Boston - an entire team of heels. It made it mean more to Boston fans. Red Sox fans need the Yankees.
Luke Skywalker needed Darth Vader. Steve Wiebe needed Billy Mitchell. And the NBA needs LeBron James.
On the other hand, who are the good guys in this NBA scenario - the Mavericks? A team with a 7 foot German star at power forward and former-heel billionaire owner? Kind of. That’s because Mark Cuban (a colossal douche who runs out onto the court after wins and used to get involved in team huddles) did what’s known in wrestling (he’s also a fan) as a ‘face turn.’ That’s when a bad guy becomes a good guy. And when Cuban shut the fuck up throughout most of the Finals, we rooted for his team. Cuban isn’t retarded. He made his billions somehow. And he probably knew that all of America would be rooting against LeBron. The only problem was that LeBron is somehow more likable than Cuban and his goddamn mouth. So he simply shut it. And it worked.
Here’s the rub. The Mavericks are NBA champions. Dirk Nowitzki is the Finals MVP. What’s everyone talking about today? LeBron James.
The NBA needs LeBron James. They need him to win it all. And soon. Just to be clear, Darth Vader wins at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. And that was the best movie of them all. You may have hated it as a kid. But you know it’s the best one now.
Because you’re a goddamn adult.
All of the stuff I was supposed to do today fell through, so I’m finding myself a little bored. So I thought I’d tell you about 5 things that I’m into lately. I can post whatever I want.
Things 1 & 2
I haven’t been into comic books since 4th grade (which probably makes me a weirdo in the comedy community), but I recently went to a stand-up show at Meltdown Comics, looked around and thought “All this shit looks awesome.” So I went up to the counter and told them I used to be into Batman. After a few more questions from the employees, they excitedly showed me copies of Arkham Asylum and The Long Halloween. I liked them and kept buying stuff until all of my comic book nerd friends gave me more and more recommendations. I’ve liked a lot of the stuff I’ve read/seen, but my two favorites are The Boys by Garth Ennis and Scalped by Jason Aaron.
The Boys is the story of a group backed by the CIA to keep superheroes in check (and kill them if necessary). There’s lots of sex and violence and bad language and comedy. Everything you would want and tons of filthy shit you’ve never even thought of. And apparently Adam McKay is going to direct the movie version. As a side note, one of the main characters - Wee Hughie - is drawn to look (unbeknownst to him) like Simon Pegg.
Scapled is basically like The Sopranos or The Wire on an Indian reservation. It’s about an undercover FBI agent who goes back to the rez to try to bring down a local mob boss. It reads like it could be an incredible series on HBO or Showtime or AMC or whatever. And R.M. Guera’s artwork is fucking incredible. As a bonus, CM Punk says he reads the series.
“I Need a Dollar” by Aloe Blacc. (Video is here)
This song came out last year. But hear me out. I have conversations with my friends all the time about how R&B and country music both used to be good, but currently suck. Both could easily still be good, but they refuse for some reason. Enter Aloe Blacc. I liked all that British female Motown throwback shit from a few years back too. But Aloe Blacc sounds like an updated version of Bill Withers. Give ‘r a listen.
The Double Cheeseburger from Yuca’s Tacos in Los Feliz
This was a solo Mike Burns recommendation, so I have to give him credit. I’ve talked over and over again about how good Umami Burger is. But this hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint directly across the street from Umami on Hollywood is fucking amazing. The reason? They have some never-cleaned griddle top that cooks up carne all day, so the burgers must sop up all the shit they’ve cooked for the past week and cram it into the taste of the burger. As a bonus, it’s only like, $5.
Blue Palms Brewhouse in Hollywood
This is another Burns reco (he knows his food), but I decided on Friday that this is my new favorite restaurant in Los Angeles. Everything I’ve had there is the best __ I’ve ever had ever. The chicken wings are the best ever. The lobster mac n’ cheese is the best ever (with healthy chunks of lobster). And the ribs might not be the BEST ribs I’ve ever had, but they’re right up there with Houston’s Steak House in Century City. Plus they have a fuckload of micro brews. It’s essentially the best bar food you can get in your whole miserable life. It was made for me.
We pulled the waitress over (real looker, btw) and asked her who the chef was. We figured it was some hotshot who had new theories on taking simple bar food and kicking it up to gourmet standards or some shit. She gave us a weird look and just goes, “Guillermo?”
Echo Park has no decent sports bars with Chicago-quality bar food. Or at least until Mohawk Bend opens. So Blue Palms will have to do for now.
Largo. Sunday at 8pm. TJ Miller Makes Mayhem. $20.
Largo welcomes comedian T.J. Miller as he brings his eccentric brand of comedy to the stage, along with excellent comedians and musical guests, and one person who has no business being up there. Hosted by Pete Holmes, the show will include Anthony Jeselnik, Doug Benson, Tig Notaro, Natasha Leggero, Matt Braunger, Kyle Kinane Cash Levy, Mike Bridenstine, Mike Holmes, Kumail Nanjianiand Mike Burns with music by Ugly Duckling and Steinski. Doors open for drinks at 6pm, Showtime 8pm.
I had the awful Cubs-Cardinals game on in the background tonight when I heard awful Bob Brenly give the “This Day in Baseball” information for June 3rd. Apparently today in 1939, a catcher named Joe Sprinz attempted to beat a world record by catching a baseball dropped from a Goodyear blimp 800 feet in the air.
On the fifth try, the ball hit Sprinz’ glove but was going so fast that it slammed his glove into his fucking face, broke his jaw in 12 places, knocked out 5 teeth and knocked him unconscious. Then he dropped the ball and was in the hospital for two months.
That is… so awesome.
Let me get out my calculator… (tik tik tik tik)… the ball was probz going 154 miles per hour. Okay, Wikipedia told me that, but I just wanted to pretend I knew how to calculate it. I’m glad other people know how to do math, so I can laugh harder at this guy.