Monday, April 19, 2004

It's Diva-geddon!
One fine night in a bar somewhere, we got into an alcohol-fueled discussion of the term "boogie" as it applies to rock and roll. For example, ZZ Top boogies, but Hall and Oates do not. REO Speedwagon boogies, but Styx does not. As great as he is, Elton John does not boogie, because English performers don't generally boogie, unless they are Foghat or Savoy Brown. What about Eric Clapton, you ask? Clapton boogies when he is playing straight blues, but many of his most famous groups, such as the Yardbirds, Cream, and Blind Faith, do not boogie. And so on. Bottom line: Certain people boogie and certain people don't, and if you have to ask why, you'll never know.

So it is with the word "diva," I am convinced. VH1 held its annual Divas Live show last night. Over the history of this show, some of the divas have been divas, and some have not. Aretha Franklin, for example, is a diva. Shania Twain is not. From last night's show, Gladys Knight and Patti Labelle qualify as divas--but Jessica Simpson and Joss Stone do not. Joss Stone has one of the most incredible voices you'll ever hear, and could be a diva someday--but she just turned 17. You cannot be a diva if you are only 17. (Although you can boogie at that age, like blues musicians Johnny Lang and Charlie Sexton did--except Joss can't, because she's English.) As for Simpson, I had to ask my wife just why she is famous. Was she a singer, actress, or what? Did she sleep with somebody famous or infamous? (Don't laugh--that sex tape was the best career move Paris Hilton ever made.) So diva-hood may also have to do with your ability to get publicity. Longevity also can do it. Apparently, you can to be a diva on VH1 if you ever have been famous, even if you're not famous now--which explains Debbie Harry and Cyndi Lauper last night, who are 25 and 20 years removed, respectively, from their prime hit-making years.

Just Shut Up: The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox conclude a four-game series today--which I heard someone refer to this weekend as "Armageddon in April." Please. The East Coast bias of the major sports media is never more clearly displayed than when they talk about this rivalry. It's one of the fiercest in sports, yes--but west and south of Hoboken, it's just another rivalry. The entire East Coast may have stopped what it was doing to watch this weekend, but the rest of the country did not. Fox, which doesn't usually televise baseball until June, even carried the Friday night game--which, I am guessing, will be one of the lowest-rated TV programs of the week nationally.

Out here in the provinces, the Cubs/Cardinals rivalry is much more important to baseball fans--but it's dwarfed by a rivalry in another sport, Packers/Bears. The Michigan/Ohio State football rivalry is bigger out here, too. Yeah, it's my Midwestern bias showing. But at least I admit it--where ESPN, for example, does not.

I must acknowledge, however, that ESPN is covering one West Coast athlete, Barry Bonds--except they're doing it to excess. The San Francisco Giants' slugger's pursuit of Willie Mays for third place on the all-time home-run list earlier this month was covered in mind-numbing detail, and then dragged out to an excruciating length when Bonds started the season with a cold streak. Now he's like Tiger Woods--no matter what everyone else in his sport is doing, he always merits a mention. If he's doing well, it's news. If he's not doing well, it's news. But in a way, his performance is really beside the point. He's famous for being famous.

In other words, he's a baseball diva.

Note to all: Be sure to click over to Best of the Blogs for my Dick Cheney caption contest. Also, I have another hiatus coming up. Posts here will be light to nonexistent until Thursday night or Friday.

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