Monday, February 22, 2010

Celtics All-Time Greats?

Charles Barkley, the great pundit that he is, came to the defense of Celtics greatness by leaving Paul Pierce off of his list of top ten Celtics. Which begs the question: where does Pierce fit in among the pantheon of hall of famers that is the Celtics legacy and mystique?

Mattrob23 posed this question on the CelticsBlog recently.

Barkley's list is as follows:

6. Bill Russel
33. Larry Bird (they call him the Legend)
00. Robert Parish (the Chief)
17. John Havlicek ("he stole the ball!")
32. Kevin McHale
3. DJ Johnson (not in the Hall. But has 3 titles, Finals MVP, and 5x All Star)
24. Sam Jones (Good choice. My favorite C.)
31. Cedric Maxwell (Cornbread? Really?)
18. Dave Cowens (the taxi driver. What a weirdo)
10. Jo Jo White (I watched Glory Road the other day)

Sir Charles also mentions Walter Brown and Red Auerbach, which I dont understand. Because, while both Brown and Auerbach did much for the Celtics and the game of basketball, they are not players, and therefore, arent really part of the discussion.

He also brings up Reggie Lewis, and Len Bias, and states that they could have been better than Pierce also, if they had lived. First of all, that same argument could be said of anything. Tim Duncan could have been a Celtic Great too, but he was drafted by San Antonio because they got the first pick that year. Second, Len Bias should never be mentioned in the same sentence as the phrase "Celtics Legends" due to the fact that A: he never played a game in a Celtics jersey, and B: the asshole didnt know how to party properly and ended up dead the day after he was drafted, which completely screwed over the entire franchise for a solid decade and a half. "Could have beens", and "ifs" dont count in this discussion.

Also out of contention for this list are: Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Chauncy Billups, Gary Payton, Bill Walton, Ed McAuley, and Nate Archibald. Although these players are all great, and all played for the Cs, and some of them helped win titles, they did the majority of their great works in other cities. Everyone on Barkley's list (with the exception of Parish, Johnson, and Cowens) were Celtics lifers. True, Johnson won a title with Seattle, and Parish won one in Chicago, but they were in their prime when they played for the Cs, and they also played in Boston for a majority of their careers. When you say Robert Parish and Dennis Johnson, everyone thinks Celtics Legend. When someone says Kevin Garnet or Ray Allen, sure the Celtics are mentioned, but the Timberwolves, Sonics, and Bucks will be also.

Kevin Garnett won a title in Boston, and a Defensive Player of the Year award, and is a 3x All Star. However, with Minnesota, he was a season MVP, and a 10x All Star, and holds their records for points, assists, steals, blocked shots, and rebounds, and as a Timberwolf, holds the NBA record for averaging 20 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists 6 consecutive times, and is only one of 4 NBA players EVER to lead their team in all 5 statistical categories, but that team isnt the Celtics (Dave Cowens is one of the other 3, and his team was the Celtics).

Another thing that gets me is the fact that Cousy isnt on the list at all, one of the best point guards of all time. And what about Tommy Heinsohn? Rookie of the Year, 8 NBA titles, 6 All Star appearances, Coach of the Year, and he won 2 titles as a coach.

Paul Pierce, in comparison to the members on the list, plus Cousy and Heinsohn, stacks up numbers wise:
Pierce is the third all Celtic leading scorer behind Larry Bird and John Havlicek.
He has 1 NBA title, 8 All Star Appearances, NBA Finals MVP, a scoring title (only Celtic to ever do that), and he won the 3 point contest recently, the first Celtic to do that since Larry Bird won it 3 times.

In addition to the numbers... he has a pretty kick-ass nickname which also stacks up with other Celtics Greats. The Chief, the Houdini of the Hardwood, Cornbread, Tommy Guns, The Hick from French Lick, Satch, Loscy, the Cooz, The Black Hole, Hondo, The Jones Boys, and Big Red are all nicknames used for the Celtics Greats. The Truth is definitely just as good, if not better.

I think Paul Pierce has cemented his legacy in Boston. He is poised to finish his career with the team that drafted him. This is a pretty huge deal. There are not too many veteran players in the NBA still on the team that drafted them. I can think of two off the top of my head: Tim Duncan, and Dirk Nowitski (Kobe has played for the Lakers his entire career, but was drafted by the Hornets). Pierce has a resume of awards that matches many other Celtics Greats, and has done much to overcome character flaws, injuries, and personal issues in order to continue to be good at what he does. When Pierce retires, I would be shocked to not see number 34 raised to the rafters in the Boston TD Garden. I mean... if they retired Cedric Maxwell, Ed McAuley, Jim Loscutoff, Satch Sanders, KC Jones and Don Nelson, they'd be nuts not to retire Pierce, right?

in conclusion: my list

6. Bill Russel
33. Larry Bird
17. John Havlicek
18. Dave Cowens
32. Kevin McHale
34. Paul Pierce
24. Sam Jones
15. Tommy Hiensohn
00. Robert Parish
14. Bob Cousy

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Best Albums of All Time? I think so.

The concept of the Album struggles to be relevant in a time where the single has once again become important. Due to the ease at which songs can be purchased individually, the single has once again come into prominence as the best form of marketable music, much like the 3 minute single format used during the 20s to the 60s. The idea of an album as a complete work of art may eventually be lost. This post is an homage to the very best complete albums of all time. Much of my choices come from Elvis Costello's list from Vanity Fair of the 500 Albums You Need, and Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Albums. Im sure I missed some good stuff. This is a difficult kind of a list to make.  

Back in Black (1980)
Bad Brains -
   Bad Brains (1982)
Bad Religion -
Recipe for Hate (1993)
The Band -
The Band (1969)
The Beach Boys -
Pet Sounds (1966)
Beastie Boys -
Paul's Boutique (1989)
Ill Communication (1994)
The Beatles -
Rubber Soul (1965)
Revolver (1966)
Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
Beck -
Odelay (1996)
Bjork -
Debut (1993)
Black Flag -
Damaged (1981)
Black Keys -
The Big Come Up (2002)
Blues Traveler -
4 (1994)
Blur -
13 (1999)
David Bowie -
Ziggy Stardust (1972)
James Brown -
Live at the Apollo (1963)
Jackson Browne -
Saturate Before Using (1972)
Jeff Buckley -
Grace (1994)
The Byrds -
The Notorious Byrd Brothers (1968)
Johnny Cash -
Live from Folsom Prison (1968)
American Recordings (1994)
Ray Charles -
A Life in Music (1982)
Chemical Brothers -
Dig Your Own Hole (1997)
The Clash -
London Calling (1979)
Ry Cooder -
Paradise and Lunch (1974)
Sam Cooke -
Night Beat (1963)
Elvis Costello -
My Aim is True (1977)
Cream -
Wheels of Fire (1968)
Creedance Clearwater Revival-
Cosmo's Factory (1970)
David Crosby -
If Only I Could Remember My Name (1971)
Crosby Stills Nash and Young -
Deja Vu (1970)
Cypress Hill -
Cypress Hill (1991)
Dave Matthews Band -
Under the Table and Dreaming (1994)
Miles Davis -
Birth of Cool (1956)
Porgy and Bess (1958)
Doors -
Doors (1967)
Digible Planets -
Reachin' (1993)
Dr. Dre -
Chronic (1992)
Dr. John -
Dr. John's Gumbo (1972)
Dyke and the Blazers-
So Sharp (1983)
Bob Dylan -
Blond on Blond (1966)
Blood on the Tracks (1974)
Duke Ellington with Charles Mingus and Max Roach -
Money Jungle (1962)
Eminem -
Marshall Mathers (2000)
The Everly Brothers -
Its Every Time (1960)
Fairport Convention -
Liege and Lief (1969)
Fleetwood Mac -
Rumours (1977)
Tusk (1979)
Flying Burrito Brothers -
The Gilded Palace of Sin (1969)
Aretha Franklin -
I Never Loved a Man the Way I Loved You (1967)
The Fugees -
The Score (1996)
Funkadelic -
One Nation Under a Groove (1978)
Marvin Gaye -
Whats Goin On? (1971)
Gnarls Barkley -
St Elsewhere (2006)
Grateful Dead -
Workingman's Dead (1970)
American Beauty (1970)
Al Green -
Call Me (1973)
Green Day -
American Idiot (2004)
Guns n Roses -
Appetite for Destruction (1987)
Herbie Hancock -
Headhunters (1973)
Tim Harden -
Tim Hardin (1966)
Ben Harper -
Diamonds on the Inside (2003)
Richard Hell and the Voidoids -
Blank Generation (1977)
Jimi Hendrix -
Axis Bold as Love (1967)
Electric Ladyland (1968)
Lauryn Hill -
Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
Hole -
Live Through This (1994)
Billy Holliday -
Lady in Satin (1958)
Buddy Holly -
Buddy Holly (1958)
Michael Jackson -
Thriller (1982)
Bad (1987)
Jay-Z -
Black Album (2003)
Jefferson Airplane -
Surrealistic Pillow (1967)
Elton John -
Goodbye Yellowbrick Road (1973)
Wyclef Jean -
   The Carnival (1997)
Jorma Kaukonen and Tom Hobson -
Quah (1974)
Joy Division -
   Unknown Pleasures (1979)
The Killers -
Hot Fuss (2004)
Kings Of Leon -
Youth and Young Manhood (2003)
The Kinks -
Face to Face (1966)
The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society (1968)
Ray Lamontagne -
   Trouble (2004)
Led Zeppelin -
  3 (1970)
  4 (1971)
Houses of the Holy (1973)
John Lennon -
  Plastic Ono Band (1970)
Lil Wayne -
Tha Carter 3 (2008)
Little Feat -
Sailin Shoes (1972)
Little Richard -
Here's Little Richard (1957)
LL Cool J -
Baby Said Knock You Out (1990)
The Mamas and the Papas -
A Gathering of Flowers (1970)
Aimee Mann -
Whatever (1993)
Bob Marley and the Wailers -
Natty Dread (1975)
Live! (1975)
Massive Attack -
Protection (1994)
Curtis Mayfield -
Superfly (1972)
Metallica -
Master of Puppets (1986)
Charles Mingus -
Blues and Roots (1959)
Joni Mitchel -
Blue (1971)
Moby -
Play (1999)
Thelonious Monk -
Monk's Music (1958)
Moondog -
The Story of Moondog (1958)
Van Morrison -
   Astral Weeks (1968)
   Moondance (1970)
Jelly Roll Morton -
The Birth of the Hot (1995)
Ida Maria -
   Fortress Round my Heart (2008)
Mothers of Invention -
We're Only in it for the Money (1968)
Filmore East June 1971 (1971)
Willie Nelson -
Stardust (1978)
Countryman (2005)
Neutral Milk Hotel - 
   In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1998)
New York Dolls -
New York Dolls (1973)
Nine Inch Nails -
Downward Spiral (1994)
Nirvana -
Nevermind (1991)
Unplugged (1994)
NRBQ (1969)
Roy Orbison -
The Orbison Way (1966)
Gram Parsons -
Grievous Angel (1974)
Pearl Jam -
10 (1991)
Versus (1993)
Pink Floyd -
Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967)
Obscured by Clouds (1972)
Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
The Pixies -
Come on Pilgrim (1987)
Doolittle (1989)
The Pogues -
Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash (1985)
Iggy Pop -
The Idiot (1977)
Portishead -
Dummy (1994)
Elvis Presley -
The Sun Sessions (1976)
Pretenders -
Pretenders (1980)
Prince -
Around the World in a Day (1985)
John Prine -
John Prine (1972)
Queen -
Queen 2 (1974)
A Night at the Opera (1975)
Radiohead -
OK Computer (1997)
Kid A (2000)
Rage Against the Machine -
Rage Against the Machine (1992)
Bonnie Rait -
Give it Up (1972)
Ramones -
Rocket to Russia (1977)
Red Hot Chili Peppers -
Californication (1999)
Lou Reed -
Berlin (1972)
Reckoning (1984)
Green (1988)
Rolling Stones -
Let it Bleed (1969)
Sticky Fingers (1971)
Some Girls (1978)
Gil Scott-Heron -
Pieces of a Man (1971)
The Sex Pistols -
Never Mind the Bullocks (1977)
DJ Shadow -
Endtroducing (1996)
Paul Simon -
Graceland (1986)
Simon and Garfunkle -
Bookends (1968)
Nina Simone -
Little Girl Blue (1958)
Sly and the Family Stone -
Theres a Riot Goin On (1969)
Smashing Pumpkins -
Siamese Dream (1993)
Patti Smith -
Horses (1975)
Bruce Springsteen -
Born to Run (1975)
Steely Dan -
Countdown to Ecstasy (1973)
Sublime -
Sublime (1996)
Temptations -
Temptations Live! (1967)
Fanmail (1999)
Tool -
Aenima (1996)
Tribe Called Quest
Midnight Marauders (1993)
U2 -
Joshua Tree (1987)
Achtung! Baby (1991)
Velvet Underground -
Velvet Underground and Nico (1966)
Verve -
Urban Hymns (1997)
Muddy Waters -
More Real Folk Blues (1967)
Doc Watson -
Live and Pickin (1979)
The Who -
My Generation (1965)
Tommy (1969)
Quadrophenia (1973)
Hank Williams and Hank Williams Jr -
Father and Son (1965)
Brian Wilson -
Smile (2004)
Wings -
Band on the Run (1973)
Stevie Wonder -
Talking Book (1972)
Innervisions (1973)
Wu Tang Clan -
36 Chambers (1993)
Neil Young -
Everybody Knows This is Nowhere (1969)
After the Gold Rush (1970)
ZZ Top -
Tres Hombres (1973)

Monday, February 1, 2010

What Books do you Teach?

Why is literature important? This question was posed in my class recently. This was my answer...

There are basically two kinds of classes in school.
  1. Math/Science
  2. Social Studies/Language Arts

Both types of classes foster the same basic principles. They teach insight and knowledge into certain aspects of life, solve certain types of problems, and teach certain skillsets. 

So, while Math/science classes teach logic, reason, hard evidence, solutions to concrete problems with concrete answers, the Humanities department teaches social, emotional, and personal solutions to ethical, moral, philosophical problems. 

This department is called Humanities for a reason. It offers lessons and answers on what it means to be human. Franz Kafka said "we have need of books which act upon us with a misfortune from which we would suffer terribly... a book must be the axe that smashes the frozen sea within us". 
The goal for humanities then, is to find that axe. 

Jeffrey Wilhelm has decided that the goal of teaching literature should be about fostering maturity.  He states, "Maturity entails, first, the recognition that you have a unique perspective and a view of the world that has value, and second, the recognition that there are different perspectives in the world and that these have value and are worth knowing about". He goes on further to state that reading can be a social experiment that allows us to share meaning.

In Math and Science, we constantly have to find the value of X. But in Humanities, we try and find the value of self, followed by the value of everyone else. 

Therefore, a good literature classroom should foster social interaction. Literature should foster discussion, dissent, collaboration, teamwork, debate. Empowering the student to take charge of the learning process and build good learning habits and a willingness to seek out knowledge and meaning should be the goal for every literature classroom.

There is a huge discussion in contemporary education about what sorts of materials should be used to teach the above skills. There are a number of books considered classics in the school curriculum which are easily recognized and are taught often. Much has been said of this "canon" of literature, and questions arise as to the validity of these books over other "alternative" or contemporary texts.

I think there are a number of other reasons why teachers now are moving away from the literary "canon"
  1. the books we read in school as students are not always looked fondly on. I still cringe when I hear "Johnny Tremain". 
  2. it is way more exciting and interesting for teachers to teach new and interesting texts, authors, and genres. 
  3. it is very easy to gain students attention with the latest things then with anything that can be perceived as old.
However, the needs of the student should be placed above the desires of the teacher. Sometimes Johnny Tremain needs to be taught, no matter how much it pains the teacher.

So I have a few recommendations for the middle school reading curriculum. These are some books that will help open perspectives as well as deal with some very basic questions on ethics, and social norms, as well as looking at things from different perspectives:
Lord of the Flies
Bell Jar
The Giver
Animal Farm
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian
April Morning
To Kill a Mockingbird
In the Time of Butterflies
Romeo and Juliet
As I Lay Dying
Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank)
Little Prince
Heart of Darkness
There are some that would complain that these books have been taught before and don't give a fresh contemporary perspective on adolescence. and I strongly disagree. The themes that can be pulled from these novels are many and varied and are still very much relevant without being crass, inappropriate or too mature. 

Another complaint to teaching older traditional texts is that they are too difficult.

Boo hoo.

Some of these books are complex and can be challenging. I suppose if students would benefit from a molly-coddling teacher and never be challenged in the classroom in any way, then go ahead, teach something easier. I'm sure those students will receive an education just as rewarding. 

I think if anything, the central themes deal with differing perspectives and lives. and all have central figures making big choices dealing with social expectations, obligations, and social norms. Growth. change. adversity... Humanities.