WWE PAYBACK: An Adventure for My Girls, and a Lesson About Commitment to Family and Community... #WWEDadsWritten by James Zahn
November 7, 1985. I was just two weeks past my ninth birthday when my Dad and I hopped in the car and headed north to the Rosemont Horizon for THE WRESTLING CLASSIC, a WWF pay-per-view event for the newly-launched WRESTLEVISION service. It was there that I witnessed some of the true "legends of wrestling" live and in-person... and I can still vividly recall those larger-than-life figures like The Iron Sheik (who entered with a giant Iranian flag), Randy "Macho Man" Savage and Miss Elizabeth, Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Roddy Piper, the Junkyard Dog and Nikolai Volkoff, all flying from the ropes and hitting the mat hard. This was at that time when Sports Entertainment was really becoming a huge deal, and it was something that families would enjoy together, kids would discuss at school, and "Hulkamania" would become widespread while Hogan and others began appearing in cartoons, in movies, recording albums, and selling a ton of action figures. Nearly 20 years later, history is repeating itself... but on a little different level.
Ah yes, "This Sign of the Horns." Whether you view it as a "nod to the goat," "metal fingers," "rock fingers," or even an "homage to the beast," one thing is certain - the horns go together with rock and roll - and metal - like peanut butter and chocolate. Many, like myself, have adopted the horns as a sign of approval, a friendly gesture to signal that "all is well," or even in the chosen phrase of Pharrell Williams, that you're simply "happy." But they need to be done right. A misplaced thumb can easily shift the horns into "I Love You" territory (sign language) or into the Spider-man web-shooter realm. One thing that everyone can agree on? That throwing up the horns just makes everything better... especially pictures! You see, I have a long-standing habit of tossing up the horns on virtual film, so when another "stay-at-home-dad" started getting coverage on sites like Buzzfeed and The Huffington Post for throwing up the horns in photos of his baby, I heartily approved. But then, being a guy known as "The Rock Father," everyone and their brother started hitting me with the link. "Have you seen..." Yes, I've seen it, and it's been shared and re-shared dozens of times around groups that I've joined, and websites that I frequent. There is nothing innovative about throwing up the horns, nothing unique... but it is special. It just makes the world a better place, and whether its a "Metal Dad," a "Rock Father," or anyone else for that matter, horns are a good thing. That said, I decided to go back, just into 2013, and pull photos mostly from my Instagram account, to show just how the horns can make any picture better.
Here's the deal: Crowdfunding projects (Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, etc) being featured here on THE ROCK FATHER has been sort of an issue these past few years, so much so that I've had a few people try jamming them down my throat for potential coverage to the point where I decided that "crowdfunding is not news." In fact, I have said many times that "no matter what the project, at the end of the day, approaching me to post a 'news item' on a Kickstarter (or similar) effort is asking me to help someone that I don't know ask other people (my readers) for money." So I don't do it anymore... unless I get paid to do so. But tonight, I'm going to break my own rules (something I can do since I own this joint), and I'm going to post about a crowdfunding project, a "Pledgemusic" campaign, to be specific - one that I was never even pitched - just because I want to. NERF HERDER is on a mission to make a new record, and YOU should be a part of it.
During the course of my career, I've had the good fortune to have met, and in some cases, worked with some of my favorite artists and performers. I've been able to meet and witness live performances from my top four bands of all-time - FAITH NO MORE, HELMET, PRONG and CLUTCH. I did a music video for FEAR FACTORY... spent a Halloween with SLIPKNOT in Las Vegas... and have crossed paths with more filmmakers and actors than I can count. Over the past few years, something interesting started happening as I switched gears and became more deeply connected to family entertainment... and it all makes an important connection to my own childhood. I've started meeting monsters, particularly those known to populate a certain magical street... SESAME STREET.
The 2014 Rock Father Tour hits the road and takes to the sky again this week, as I head back to the West Coast on another adventure. One of the best parts of my job is a side-gig that I've had with PBS as a PBS KIDS VIP (Very Involved Parent). Having written about PBS programming for quite awhile before we made any kind of formal connection, it's been a real honor to work the the folks from PBS KIDS over the past two years, helping to spread the word about quality, educational programming. Last year was the first year that I'd been invited to attend the PBS Annual Meeting (then in Miami), and this year I've been invited back, as we "get the band back together" and hit the streets of San Francisco to get the rundown and game plan for the next year of PBS programming and events.
You might recall that this past November, I took the family to a new adventure here in the Chicago area, when the World Pet Association launched their first-ever AQUATIC EXPERIENCE: CHICAGO. I posted a full entry about the experience here on THE ROCK FATHER, and evidently it was a success, as it's back for it's second annual run, November 7-9, 2014 in Schaumburg. Also returning is the LIVE SHARK ENCOUNTER, which my kids loved. And the Betta we brought home from last year's show - the one that Addie named "Lula" after a character on DOC McSTUFFINS? She (technically a "he") is doing great and has a new tank!
May 10, 1994: On this date, WEEZER released their self-titled debut album, the one that soon became known as THE BLUE ALBUM. A monumental record that still holds up two decades later (they play it live in it's entirety on a frequent basis), no one would've expected the band to become as long-lasting and successful as they have, especially after the initial "failure" of PINKERTON, and the extended hiatus that followed. Last year, I wrote a feature here on THE ROCK FATHER that is very appropriate to be re-shared today: "Everybody Get Dangerous: WEEZER, Kids and Rock." If you haven't already, go give it a read, and crank up some tunes below...
I never thought that I'd find myself in this situation. Neither in the years before becoming a parent, nor in the 57 months or so since I've been one, did I envision myself as the father of a ball player. It just never crossed my mind, even back when I took my girls to their first Major League ball game last summer, or when I started playing "T-Ball" in the backyard with a little pink plastic set we bought for the girls. Despite knocking the ball around in the yard, I just never had that vision of standing there watching my little ones take orders instruction from a coach. But last night it happened, as Addie (who will be five this year) entered "T-Ball Prep" ahead of starting "Pee Wee Baseball" next month.
It could be said that last night, I officially introduced my daughter to the rock and roll lifestyle. We took a trip into the big city, stayed out late on a school night, and she got ice cream at 10pm. We were living dangerously, and it was all because last night was Addie's first real concert - her first big ROCK show. And what a night it was... at age 4½, my little girl got her first "special pass," met the band, and can now say that she's been on stage at one of Chicago's finest venues, The House of Blues. THE AQUABATS! kicked-off their 20th Anniversary Tour in fine fashion, and being there with my little girl made for one unforgettable night.
Two bands associated with the Seattle sound of the early 1990s. Two deaths... on the same day, eight years apart. One, completely unexpected. The other, expected much sooner. Yesterday, April 5, 2014, marked the 20th anniversary of the suicide of NIRVANA frontman KURT COBAIN, and the 12th anniversary of the overdose that killed ALICE IN CHAINS frontman LAYNE STALEY.
If you're a parent, there's a good chance you've done it... and if you're like me, usually a couple of times a week. "Where did you hear that?" or "Who told you that word?" - both phrases occasionally directed at your little ones to find out why, exactly, they'd choose to use a word that they shouldn't use. Like Ralphie in A CHRISTMAS STORY when he dropped a word that "wasn't FUDGE," it happens. With my oldest (she'll be five in a few months) occasionally expanding her vocabulary with words and phrases that are most often attributed to "Joshua," the latest viral clip from JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE! hits home. Inspired by this video, in which a little boy lists all the bad words he knows, Jimmy hit Hollywood Blvd yesterday to put some kids on the spot by asking, "Do You Know Any Naughty Words?" Here's what happened...
I'd only met Dave Brockie a couple of times, and aside from one occasion where I was feeding him questions on the other end of a video webcast with he in New York and I in Chicago, he was in full costume, portraying the character for which he will forever be known - Oderus Urungus, the 43 billion year-old frontman of Antarctica-based metal titans, GWAR. While public perception of what GWAR is or is not may vary, I've always known the band to be highly-skilled, expert musicians and showmen (and women, on occasion) that performed a mix of entertaining metal and killer satire that was always influenced by the Global landscape of politics and pop culture of the time. I was shocked and saddened to find a note from GWAR manager Jack Flanagan sitting atop my inbox this morning...