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A KISS for Mom, Who Passed Away Today

Today, my mother lost her battle with cancer. As I reflect on her life, I wanted to share some insight as it specifically relates to the rock band KISS.

Ever since I moved away from home, I always enjoyed the fact that when I returned to visit my family, I was always reminded of my favorite childhood memories because throughout the house were constant reminders of my discovery of KISS and the 10+ years I grew up with them in our house. Some of the items that have remained in that house to this day are stickers from the Rock and Roll Over album on the 2 bedroom doors I had & the original Dressed to Kill album that my parents bought for me for Christmas in 1975 which has sat above a family portrait in the living room for 34 years now.

I’ve not lived in that house for over 30 years yet my parents never once asked me to take down the album or remove the stickers on the doors, or any other KISS-remnants that are still strewn about.  What I realized today is just how much my parents always knew KISS was a huge part of my life and completely supported it. I truly believe they looked at it like KISS was an integral part of my growing up and for as long as KISS was going to be in my life, they were going to be sure I still felt at home when I came to visit.

I remember several years of Jr. High and High School where I would draw the KISS faces on my sneakers in class instead of paying attention to the teachers. When I came home after the very first time I had done this, my mom noticed my shoes and said “you did a great job on the faces”. I knew she was aware I had to have done it during classes, but she supported me anyway. I wish I still had some of those shoes. Growing up with mom and with KISS was special indeed.

One of the stories my mom always reminded of when I came home was the summer my younger brother and I decided to make cardboard guitars out of old boxes, cover them in tin foil, put on the best KISS-type costumes we could come up with, go in the front yard, crank up the boombox and do our best air-guitars to KISS Alive II. My mom loved our performances and so did the neighbors. In fact, 15 years later, I walked into the post office to send a package and the the clerk asked me if I still dressed up like KISS. As it turns out, he was our mailman during the time of our performances and said he always looked forward to see us trying to be like KISS. When I told mom what he said, she told me he once knocked on the door to ask if were were going to be playing that day. Turned out he tried to time his route to catch us. I know we sucked, but we gave it our best shot and had fun doing it – and that was what it was all about.

30+ years after discovering KISS, I had the pleasure of meet Gene Simmons and I couldn’t wait to tell my mom about it. I knew she was going to be so happy for me because she knew how much it meant to me. When I did tell her, it was like she had met him as well. She, in a sense, grew up with KISS as well but probably didn’t even realize it. She supported my admiration for KISS so much that while allowing me to be entertained with the records and videos, she was also tuning in. That is one hell of a mother-son bonding experience.

With both of my parents gone now, and none of the kids living in town, I’ll likely never come back to this house again. The memories will now be truly just memories. But not just any old memories, for my mother can be described as KISS is described – the best!

Thank you for all you did mom. For the life you gave me, for the lessons you taught me, for the love you gave me and for the patience you showed me. I will always be grateful you bought me my first KISS album and allowed me to make our house the KISS house.

 

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Analysis, Music

Music Critic gets his balls busted for KISS review.

Music Critic Tony Bennett gets his balls busted for KISS review, and it’s not pretty.

KISS 40th Anniversary World Tour

PERTH, AUSTRALIA – OCTOBER 03: Gene Simmons, Eric Singer, Tommy Thayer and Paul Stanley of KISS, perform during their opening show for the Australian leg of their 40th anniversary world tour at Perth Arena on October 3, 2015 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

I have total respect for the profession known as “Music Critic” and though I may not always agree with their reviews, I always appreciate their perspective…assuming, of course, they have done their job professionally, accurately and objectively.  It’s perfectly acceptable for a critic to not like a band, an individual artist, a song or even an outfit. However, that does not give that critic a license to kill. Each and every critic has a fiduciary duty to as accurately and objectionably as possible inform the public. Their opinions are absolutely acceptable and wanted, as long as they are defined as such and not written as facts and with malice.

A review of the Wednesday night KISS concert in Duluth, MN by Tony Bennett for the Duluth News Tribune unequivocally reflects one of the most unprofessional, inappropriate, antagonistic and blatantly biased reviews I have ever read. Mr. Bennett clearly demonstrated in his “review” that he is not fit to be called a professional. His review read more like the rantings of a pissed off high school student than that of an educated, respectable journalism professional.

His review opens with the line “It’s extremely uncool to like KISS…and if we’re being honest, the hate is pretty justified”.  As a matter of reference, KISS is in the middle of doing 36 shows this summer across the United States in the span of 8 weeks – that’s basically a concert every other night for two months straight (yes, the band is off for Gene’s birthday August 25th). This tour marks their 43rd year selling out concert halls. Query: Mr. Bennett, did you get on the PA at the concert that night and tell the thousands that paid good money to see KISS that they are “uncool”? Did you then tell them you hated KISS and that they should too? Of course not, you waited until after the concert to litter your trash across the internet from the relative safety of your computer. That makes you a coward, plain and simple.

I find it mind-boggling how Bennett translates “uncool” to “hate”. This behavior is obviously demonstrative of someone with a severely skewed perception of reality and a very altered understanding of the most rudimentary of human psychology.

 

Let’s look at some of the other things Mr. Bennett had to say….

“…since the late 70’s, they’ve mostly trafficked in lecherous, brain-dead glam metal”. Query: Mr. Bennett, are you calling your readers that attended the concert “brain-dead”? If not, perhaps you could attend a few grammar courses and learn to more accurately, professionally and in a non-offending way, convey to your readers a clearer, complete thought.

“…the “good stuff” – is often subpar (have you listened to, say, “Great Expectations” recently?” Comment: Mr. Bennett, you start your review off by telling your viewers you hate KISS. With that in mind, your “subpar” comment is completely void of validity because you clearly can’t be objective. As for “Great Expectations”, you clearly had none and you were going to be sure KISS wasn’t going to deliver (at least in your own, biased & unprofessional mind).

“When you’re watching KISS, you don’t think about the times Simmons has made a fool out of himself.” Query: Mr. Bennett, you do realize that the idea of a concert is the to enjoy the concert experience and not the extracurricular activities of the individual artists correct? Do you want people to think about the times you have masturbated while they read your reviews? If not, then what purpose could your statement serve? There is absolutely no relevance to the job at hand (no pun intended).

“…with simple rock songs holding it all together.” Comment: Mr. Bennett, I will accept this comment when you put on 40-50 pounds of gear, run around a stage for 2 hours constantly surrounded by intense heat from pyrotechnics, interact with 6,000 fans and all the while singing and playing guitar. You are once again showing complete disregard for your profession and an undeniable lack of respect for musicians. Yet, you are a “music critic”. Ironic.

“After an opening set by painfully boring American Idol person Caleb Johnson…” Comment: Mr. Bennett, what exactly is “painfully boring”? You obviously have a bone to pick, a chip on your shoulder, a lack of respect for others, a gross misinterpretation of your job and above all absolutely no understanding of what it means to be a journalist. I would venture to guess you actually hate your job, at least based on what I have read.

“Stanley…screeching out goofy intros to many songs in a bizarre Edith Bunker voice (How’s it sound out d’ere?)” Query: Mr. Bennett, does your employer offer any sensitivity training? You do realize Paul has a geo-accent like everyone else correct? You probably have one, as does your mother. Is making fun of his accent something your employer approves? Do you make fun of your readers accents? How do your readers feel about that? I think you are grasping at straws – your personal hatred for KISS is clearly inhibiting your ability to do your job.

“…and thanking Duluth for putting the band in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (which, uh, could be disputed).” Comment: Mr. Bennett, I’ll chip in and help you here. There is this thing called a KISS Army – it’s made up of fans all over the world who take to social media, snail-mail, etc. and show support KISS. Without a doubt, some of the fine people of Duluth directly reached out in support of KISS being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (not to mention supporting KISS over the years buying records, merchandise etc).

“After the fake Criss sang Criss’ hit song “Beth”” Comment: Mr. Bennett, you talk about Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer as “fake” because they wear the iconic makeup and costumes of the two previous original members (Peter Criss and Ace Frehley, respectively). Would you tell your children on a trip to Disney World that Mickey is “fake”? What about Mini Mouse…is she “fake”? KISS has never claimed Eric was Peter nor that Tommy was Ace. Bandmates may have changed but at no time was there any attempt to deceive the fans. You are once again using your media to spout out things that are simply not true. Again – VERY unprofessional.

“…but he didn’t play with the same feel as his predecessor”. Comment: Mr. Bennett, you do realize that two different people will do the same activity differently correct? After all, these musicians are humans, not robots. Query: Do you actually expect two different musicians to play the exact same way? How did you ever get a job as a music critic? You CLEARLY are not qualified for the job.

” The band, seemingly, now exists solely as a capitalistic money-farming machine” Query: Mr. Bennett, if millions of people all over the world want to continue to pay hard-earned money to experience a KISS concert, buy KISS merchandise and in general want to be KISS’ed, doesn’t business 101 & supply & demand clearly dictate the appropriate path? Should Disney World close down in your mind? Maybe even the Duluth News Tribune should close up shop – but wait – wouldn’t that mean you would loose your job? You, Mr. Bennett, are ignorant.

“Stanley often altered melody lines to accommodate his 64-year old voice”. Comment: Mr. Bennett, does your mother walk as fast today as she did when she was younger? Do you run as fast today as you did when you were 15? How in the world can you justify such a comment when millions of people all over the world are still happy to fork over their hard-earned money to hear Paul sing? You, once again, are illustrating your ignorance by grasping at straws in your feeble attempt of a review.

Even though I am a KISS fan, every point I have made is 100% valid. I show no bias, take no liberties, make no false assumptions and clearly illustrate my thoughts. Music is subjective. However, within subjectivity lies accountability.

It is my personal opinion that Tom Bennett should turn in his resignation, rethink if this profession is well suited for him, and if he thinks it is, go back to school and learn how to do it right (professionally).

Additionally, the editor in Chief either didn’t read this review prior to publication or he/she is equally incompetent, inept and undoubtedly not worthy of his/her position within the Duluth News Tribune. This total and complete lack of professionalism is surely not what the subscribers and readers of the Duluth News Tribune signed up for, or deserve.

Lastly, at the end of the day, I can’t help but wonder who has more money in the bank – KISS or Music Critic Tony Bennett. Actually, I don’t really wonder, it’s blatantly obvious. KISS wins, again!

–John J. Simpson
twitter: @johnjsimpson
email: john AT johnjsimpson.com

Link to Tony Bennett review: http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/features/ae/4087760-concert-review-kiss-show-electrifies-senses

I found an email address for Mr. Bennett on the Duluth News Tribune website. Feel free to email him and let him know how you think he is doing. Tonybennettreviews@Gmail.Com

Twitter for Duluth News Tribune: @duluthnews

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Music

“KISS ROCKS VEGAS” Rocked the World!

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I was just one of millions of fans all over the world who not only couldn’t wait to see the “KISS ROCKS VEGAS” movie, I couldn’t wait to EXPERIENC it. Because, as we all know, everything KISS does they do larger than life, in your face, loud & proud, and bigger & better than anyone else ever has, or ever will. KISS, for 43 years and counting, is bar none “The Hottest Band in World”.

“KISS ROCKS VEGAS” was filmed in Las Vegas during the bands 9-show residency at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Casino in November of 2014. As someone who was there when the band landed in the parking lot of the casino in a helicopter on opening night through the last fans chanting “WE WANT KISS, WE WANT KISS!” when the band left the stage after the last show, I can tell you “KISS ROCKS VEGAS” was as close to being there as you can get. It was the ultimate way to re-live the best concert I had ever seen.

The amount of work and the number of people it took to pull of such a concert event is mindboggling. As each band-member points out during the interview segment of the movie, trying to bring in a stadium-sized stage and show into an intimate venue would be a huge undertaking, if at all even possible. Yet, in true KISS fashion, they not only did it, they blew away their own expectations. They hired the best set designers & builders, recruited the best light designers, sought out the best audio engineers, utilized the latest cutting-edge technology, planned, rehearsed and with great fanfare met their goal to do the impossible, yet again.

While it’s common to have fans getting out of their seats screaming, playing air-guitar/drums, singing, clapping, chanting & applauding at a concert venue, it’s doesn’t happen in a movie theater…unless KISS is involved.  On May 25th, 2016 all that and more was happening in theaters all over the world. It is truly a KISS world!

“KISS ROCKS VEGAS” starts with a series of KISS factoids flashed on the screen, followed by an interview segment with each of the band members, then goes into the actual concert. During the interview segment, Gene, Paul, Tommy & Eric each discuss the challenges involved in this huge undertaking as well as tell some personal stories. The audience feels very connected to each member and this section really sets the tone for what was about to come.

The concert was nothing shy of magnificent. It was everything you’d expect from a KISS performance and so much more. I can’t understand how for 43 years and counting a band can continue to out-do themselves at every turn but this is obviously standard operating procedure for KISS. Each member relentlessly gives 110% to be sure the fans are happy. Unlike so many other bands, KISS empathizes with the fans and realizes they spend their hard-earned money to see the best rock and roll show on the planet and they each feel a sense of responsibility to deliver that – and they do. It’s not just personal experience for the fans, it’s a personal journey for the band.

“KISS ROCKS VEGAS” is another chapter in KISStory. And like every chapter so far, it exceeds all expectations, peaks all of the senses, and reminds you that the next chapter will be even better.

KISS – The Hottest Band in the World.

#KISSROCKSVEGAS

Special thanks to: Shannon T Simmons & Sara Tweed-Stafford

 

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Music

Review: “Octobersong” album by Aaron Hendra

Aaron_Hendra_-_October_Song_Album_large

“Octobersong” is the debut solo album of Aaron Hendra, an Australian-born songwriter, singer and guitarist currently based in Dallas. I came across this artist purely by

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Tiffany & Aaron Hendra

happenstance. While tweeting with co-stars of Bravo TV’s up-coming “Real Housewives of Dallas” (premiering Monday April 11th, 2016), I discovered that cast member Tiffany Hendra was married to Aaron
and when I heard he had a solo album out I wanted to give it a listen. Without hesitation, I went to iTunes and purchased “Octobersong”.

Initial Impression:
In my traditional fashion, I sat down in my “man-cave”, put my iPhone in DND-mode and dimmed the lights so I could listen to the album start-to-finish with my undivided attention. Before I knew it, I had been taken on a delightful journey that ended way to soon. In other words, Aaron Hendra & his “Octobersong” did what relatively few can do, impress me enough that I immediately add them to my very short list of artists on my iPhone (a sacred place in which very few reside).

A Deeper Dive:
When I first started to write this review, I found myself describing in great detail the aspects of each and every song. I quickly realized I was being redundant due to so many awesome similarities in the songs. Therefore, I have tried to be a little more concise while still elaborating on the highlights. With that said….

Each song on this album truly holds it’s own. It’s very clear the objective when creating this album was to write/record a set of songs that each told a unique story yet collectively had a bigger message. And while that message may very listener-dependant, it structurally is based on the human condition. This album is very emotional, accurately drawing parallels to the ups & downs in life. What I especially love about this album is that I think everyone can relate to it in their own way. The lyrical phrases may or may not be a direct likeness to what you may be going through but the choice of words are so well suited that we can all see what we need to see.

A great example is in “One Man’s War”. The song starts with a two-acoustic guitar phrasing piece which immediately relaxes the listener. After a few bars the mood is slightly elevated when another guitar and bass very delicately find their way into the song. And just as you relax again, Aaron comes in singing “In this battlefield, God please be my guide”. This can apply to so many different situations and yet so purposefully the sound of his voice makes you feel like it will all be ok. The true magic moment in this song for me is when the Children of Shekinah Children’s Village are featured in the climax of the song singing “Lift your voice sing hallelujah”. The song stood it’s ground long before this part came in. But, when you hear those kids sing that phrase it matters not what your particular “war” is, they clearly send you the message that it will all be ok.

Aaron’s use of David Campbell, a master of the orchestra – conducting and arranging, and the LA Philharmonic are yet another example of how, in my mind, Aaron set out to create an album of great songs without a recipe, without boundaries and without sacrificing his objectives. Aaron obviously looked for, and got, whatever it took to make each song the best it could be.

Every word & every note of each song on this album is very specific. Each serving a purpose and ultimately serving the song and especially the listener. It’s not often an album contains so many attributes from the first note of the first song through the last note of the last song – “Octobersong” clearly does. The album personifies passion, meaning, definition, clarity and quite frankly does this all so well I just realized I’m on the 4th loop of the album. And that’s EXACTLY what I want an album to do.

Technical Impression:
I’m a sucker for dynamics, spatial characteristics, palatable instrumentation that enhances the phrasing and am overall a huge fan of musical exploration when it serves the song. This album is a great example of all of the above.

Aaron’s voice is quite unique, strong and sustainable in dynamic escapades and the engineers use of chosen gear only accentuates these attributes. What comes to mind is an AKG C-12 into an outboard Neve input module utilizing a Urei 1176LN peak limiter direct to the 2″. If you know audio, you’ll know what I mean and likely agree.

I’ve always said no one can harmonize with an artist like the artist him/her self. Other artists certainly enhance the movements but when the lead singer is passionately singing a song he believes in and also wrote, no one else can come close to truly capturing the moment and taking the listener on that special journey. That kind of performance can only come from the one most impacted/driven by the song. In this case, that is Aaron who once again stepped up to the plate for the grand slam.

I would be remiss if I didn’t state one of the best ways to know if a singer can actually sing is to listen for sections with little instrumentation and is dominated by the vocalist – especially when the engineer cuts way back on the reverb/echo type effects. Yep, you guessed it – Aaron passed this test with an A+.

Aaron’s guitar sounds couldn’t be more eloquently serving. There is a true art to getting that perfect guitar sound for each song and even each section within a song. This album delivers that from start to finish.

I also love a great sounding acoustic drum set and hats off to the engineer on this one too. Gigi sounds like he plays hard yet has a natural ability to temper his attacks in a very controlled yet natural manor. The kick drum is especially delightful and the engineers use of light limiting allowed the fancy dynamic footwork of Gigi to shine with great sophistication. And the symbols – impeccable.  I would also liken the sound to the C-12’s for overhead L+R.

Let’s not leave out the the Bass Guitar – I absolutely LOVE the way the bass builds off the drums in transitions and creates its own pulses that collectively are genius! The bass guitar is usually underrated and quite frankly usually exists to provide some bottom end and normalcy. However, the bass can be so much more and on this album it illustrates just how sonically serving it is when done right.

My favorite song?
On this album, I have 11 favorite songs. If you want me to pick just one, I respectfully decline.

— John J. Simpson
twitter: @johnjsimpson

Purchase “Octobersong” here via iTunes

Album info:
All songs written by Aaron Hendra
Bass :: Paul Bushnell :: Marcus Brown :: Dorian Heartsong
Piano and keyboards :: Rami Jaffee :: Jamie Mahoberac :: Marcus Brown
Background vocals on ‘The Reason’ :: Matt Jones
Background vocals on ‘One Mans War’ :: Matt Jones :: Gigi Gonaway :: EG Daily
Pedal Steel :: Jay Leach
Live strings performed by (24 piece orchestra) members LA Philharmonic
Strings Recorded by Allen Sides at Cello Studios, Hollywood
Strings Arranged & conducted by David Campbell*
Percussion on ‘One Mans War’  by Brian Kilgore
Choir on ‘One Mans War’ :: Special thanks to the children of the World Mission Shekinah Fellowship orphanage in Nimule, Sudan and the children of the Buziga Hill Primary school, Kampala, Uganda.

*David Campbell also wrote the arrangements for, & conducted, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for the KISS SYMPHONY: ALIVE IV live concert and subsequent CD/DVD releases in 2003.

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Analysis

Why Kanye West is right about Bill Cosby

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In case you missed it, here is the tweet that lit up twitter yesterday by Kanye West and is in fact still making headlines today:

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Who would have thought 3 simple words could cause so much controversy. After repeatedly hearing about this tweet, I wanted to go beyond the headlines and take a deep look into the criminal case against Bill Cosby and see what I could find out. As it turns out, after reading the Affidavit of Probable Cause that accompanied the Criminal Complaint filed on behalf of Andrea Constand, I firmly believe Kanye hit the nail on the head. And here is why.

  • If allegations by plaintiff that the first time she went to defendants’ home was for a dinner prepared by defendants’ private chef in which no other known guests were to be present, AND it was at this meeting that defendant made direct physical and unwelcomed sexual advances “touched her pants, her waist and her inner thigh” (Section 1 ,Paragraph 2), then why did plaintiff return at a later date to defendants’ home for a “social visit” as well as numerous other occasions (Section 1 ,Paragraph 4)?
  • Why did plaintiff “consume a couple of glasses of wine” during this second visit if plaintiffs’ accusations of defendants actions during previous visit were true? This is not behavior consistent with someone who has experienced unwelcomed sexual advances.
  • Plaintiff alleges defendant “out of the blue…unbuttoned her pants and began touching her” (Section 1 ,Paragraph 3).
    • Plaintiff states defendant “unbuttoned her pants” which implies all buttons versus stating “some buttons” or “started to unbutton”. Normal behavior for someone experiencing such unwelcome behavior would be to immediately stop the person making such advances at the start and not wait until her pants had been unbuttoned and subsequent touching would begin.
    • As both parties were sitting on the couch at the time this is alleged to have happened, the time it would take to unbutton even 1 button on the pants worn by someone sitting next to or across from you would be more than ample time to stop the behavior before it progressed, if the advances were truly not welcome.
    • CONCLUSION: Plaintiff was not rejecting (alleged) romantic advances
      • It takes time to unbutton even just 1 button on someone’s pants, especially when the person wearing said pants is sitting down.
      • The time it would take to successfully unbutton 1 button and then begin touching someone is more indicative of an initial welcoming of alleged romantic advances than that of someone who supposedly has a previous history of unwelcomed such advances who would more than likely take immediate action to stop the advances.
  • Section 1, Paragraph 4
    • “Despite these advances by Cosby, the victim trusted him and continued to accept his invitations to social and professional functions”.
    • e. “a dinner at his home with a group of his friends and persons working in the Philadelphia restaurant community”
    • e. “a dinner at his Cheltenham home for a meeting with “academic people” including the President of Swarthmore College and professors from the University of Pennsylvania”
    • e. “She went to Cosby’s New York City home to meet with one of Cosby’s influential entertainment industry contacts”
    • e. “at his home”
    • e. “once at a casino in Connecticut”

CONCLUSION: Plaintiff has no credibility and absolutely no basis regarding her allegations as demonstrated by her voluntary decision to meet with the defendant on numerous occasions at his home even after unwelcome sexual advances were alleged to have first occurred. If unwelcome sexual advances were made by the defendant, there is no logical reason why the plaintiff would have “trusted him (defendant) and continued to accept his invitations to social and professional functions”.

What really happened? Only two people know. However, after reading the Affidavit of Probable Cause, it seems perfectly clear the allegations made by the plaintiff are absolutely false. There are too many inconsistencies and too many examples of behavior not indicative of how people would react to the such allegations.

I applaud Kanye West for taking to twitter to share his thoughts regarding Bill Cosby.

 

 

 

 

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Analysis

The Business Behind the Glamour “Woman of the Year Award”

Newsflash: Husband of 9/11 hero returns “Woman of the Year” award from ’01 after Caitlyn Jenner gets it.

Glamour has just awarded the “Woman of the Year” award to Caitlyn (formerly known as Bruce) Jenner which has prompted James Smith (the widower of Moira Smith who was the only female NYPD cop who died after rushing into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001) to return the award which Glamour awarded to his late wife.

When Glamour presented the award to honor Officer Moira, the award recognized the ultimate sacrifice made by one human in an effort to save thousands in the aftermath of the worst terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. With the award now going to Caitlyn Jenner, I’m guessing it recognizes the courage of the most famous man who became a woman.

Bruce Jenner isn’t the first man to become a woman but he is the most famous. As a former Olympic champion who once graced the Wheaties cereal box at the breakfast table to more recently his part in the Kardashian franchise, Caitlyn as a brand certainly offers monetization opportunities on a silver platter.

Like it or not, we live in a word where “what’s trending” directly relates into money. The more people talk about something, the more opportunities exist for advertisers to reach their audience, and that equates to financial opportunities. It’s a revenue stream – and a huge one. Caitlyn is big money right now. If you don’t agree, spend some time on social media and see just how many for-profit companies are talking about Caitlyn.

In the end, the award should go to anyone who fit’s the criteria in which the entity that created the award (in this case a for-profit company) deems fit. After all, it’s their award – and their busine$$.

Award or no award, what people do is what they do. Who they have an impact on is who they have an impact on. While awards are nice, we should always identify the fundamental reasoning behind an award so we an then apply the appropriate “value” of the award.

I’m don’t have an opinion as to whether James Smith is doing the right thing by returning the award given to his heroic wife and I don’t have an opinion on whether Glamour is doing the right thing by awarding one to Caitlyn Jenner. Glamour is a business and as such they are about making money first and foremost. Once you understand that intellectually, it completely negates any emotional aspects because they can’t fundamentally exist to begin with in this situation.

When Glamour says “we stand by our decision to honor Caitlyn Jenner”, they are standing behind their decision to be a for-profit company. No matter how you spin it, it only comes down to money.

For what it’s worth, I am eternally grateful to Moria Smith for her sacrifice and I give kudos to Bruce Jenner for giving inspiration to those who want to venture down that same path. Both admirable, one profitable.

 

John J. Simpson

On twitter @johnjsimpson

 

 

 

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Music

Review: Spinning Wheel by Engelbert Humperdinck & Gene Simmons

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What happens when two music icons join forces to record an already great song? In this case, it’s pure magic! Engelbert Humperdinck and Gene Simmons joined forces and recorded “Spinning Wheel” for Engelbert’ “Calling” album and the result was magnificent.

Engelbert and Gene independently have charismatic, expressive, strong and mellifluous voices. They both exude total confidence and control yet can pepper in a dash of vulnerability when it suits the song.  In fact, there is an undertone to each of their voices that is quite similar and results in what seems to be a natural collaboration. Yet, at the same time, there voices offer very divergent characteristics that somehow couldn’t be more complementary to each other.

There are 12 notes in music. Therefore, what sets every melody, every groove & every song apart is what we do with those notes. Not just the arrangement/timing of the notes, but how we get from one note to the next. This process is what I call the “emotion of music” and both Engelbert and Gene exemplify an acute understanding and display of tremendous emotion in “Spinning Wheel”. This duet is real treat.

The song opens with an accelerating stacatto movement that immediately grabs your attention then quickly transitions into a slightly relaxed groove. Right as you get comfortable and settled in, Gene & Engelbert have a brief conversational-type exchange that lets you know you are in for a real treat and then the show begins.

In addition to the great vocal work by these two icons, the musicians who played all those instruments as the foundation of the song also did an outstanding job. “Spinning Wheel” holistically is strong, well recorded, mixed and mastered. It’s delightfully pleasing to the ear and emotionally energized for the soul.

“Spinning Wheel” – two iconic legends working together to create a unique work of art for the world to enjoy.

In a word: magnificent.

—John J. Simpson

on twitter at @johnjsimpson

 

 

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