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Chris Rock, discos, vertigo, and the death of the love song

click to enlarge I love the night life, I love to boogie.

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I love the night life, I love to boogie.

So we're in the gym for a basketball workout. No air conditioning and humidity in the low triple digits—just another late-July day in Tucson. My point guard, Emily (who was Conference Co-Player of the Year last year as a sophomore) asks if they can put on some music.

She's a great kid, good student, great ball-handler, gets lots of steals and makes some of her lay-ups. I, being old, quoted David Byrne and said, "This ain't no party, this ain't no disco ..."

A couple kids asked, "What's a disco?" and I had to explain that it's what they now call a "club."

I'm fairly easygoing with my players, but music is a tricky thing. On road trips, they can pretty much listen to whatever they want. I've only got a couple rules. I don't want to hear the N-word (especially 'cause most of my kids are whiter than the British Royal Family). And nothing that is demeaning to women. This is often a sticking point. I realize that times change and popular music has long been somewhat risqué, but there's a big difference between Marvin Gaye imploring a woman to join him in "Let's Get It On" and a lot of today's stuff.

To help make my point, I told them the Chris Rock story about when he was in the club (not the disco) one night. The music was blasting and people were dancing feverishly. He was watching some women dance when he realized that part of the lyrics of the song were a chorus of "Smack that bitch! Smack that bitch!"

He asked one of the women who had been dancing, "Doesn't that offend you?"

She replied, "No, he's not talking about me."

Well, yeah, he is.

That's why, no matter how nicely or insistently they ask, they're not going to listen to Chris Brown in my presence. Emily's sister, Catie, a 14-year-old philosopher, asked, "Just because he beat the crap out of Rihanna, does that mean that he lost his musical ability?"

No, it doesn't. What it should mean is that you wouldn't want to put another penny in his pocket, EVER. If he were the only singer in the whole wide world and you really liked music, then maybe you'd have a tough choice to make. But there are dozens out there who are at least as good as Chris Brown and hardly any of them use the woman they claim to love as a sparring partner.

Now, I'm basically non-violent, but if Chris Brown wanted to pick a fight with, say, DJ Khaled, that's fine. Then he could be a scrapper and a rapper. But, as we all know, men who hit women hardly ever want to hit men. And young women aren't doing themselves (or anybody else) a favor by listening to men who hit women.

In 2003, UA grad Ron Shelton—who is responsible for the legendary Bull Durham and the semi-legendary Tin Cup—made a movie called Hollywood Homicide. It's not legendary. It attempted to explore the untapped gold mine that is the duo of mismatched police partners. It would have been very special except that it came out some time after the release of about 15 Lethal Weapon movies and six or seven rehashes of Beverly Hills Cop, plus 48 Hours and Another 48 Hours and We Promise That This Is The Final 48 Hours.

It was also billed as an action comedy, but, apparently, in the cutting room, they took out most of the action and just about all of the comedy. I really, really wanted to love this movie, but I ended up hating it.

The older cop was the grizzled veteran (played by Harrison Ford) who had alimony woes and a real-estate business on the side. He kept trying to do business with hip-hop artists who had money to burn. His mismatched younger partner (Josh Hartnett) was just working as a detective until his acting career could take off. The irony exploded off the screen as a guy who was desperately trying to be an actor was portraying a guy who was desperately trying to be an actor. I'm convinced that the Hollywood homicide in the title was actually Hartnett's career.

Anyway, there's a scene in the movie where Ford's character, who grew up diggin' on R&B meets a middle-aged woman (played by Gladys Knight), who is basically living in The Projects in Venice. When he realizes that she is a former Motown performer, he gushes, but she's not interested. He finally says that he doesn't like or understand today's music. She says, "We're not supposed to."

I've learned that lesson the hard way.

So I asked Emily to play a love song. She found one by Jason Derulo called "Vertigo." (Now, I know how stupid lyrics can sound when they're spoken or read off a page without the music, but this is crazy.) Derulo sings, "You give me vertigo, vertigo. Don't really matter as long as I get vertigo, vertigo ..."

Have you ever had vertigo?! It sucks moving trailer hitches. Who would want a girlfriend that gives him vertigo? That's like saying, "When I look in your eyes, I start to get diarrhea."

Needless to say, the rest of that shoot-around was to the sole accompaniment of sweat drops plopping on the gym floor.

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