Thursday, May 30, 2013

No. 371 – Future Love Paradise

Performer: Seal
Songwriter: Seal
Original Release: Seal
Year: 1991
Definitive Version: None

I saw Seal twice in less than a year back in 1994-95, as I mentioned. I referred to the versions of Kiss From a Rose—how they were completely different from the studio version and each other. Well, that was each whole show in a microcosm. The first show was energized and fun; the second was buttoned-down and staid.

For example, take this song, which closed the show each time (and was performed faithfully to the original version each time). At the first show, about 50 people were down by the orchestra pit dancing, and everyone else was dancing in the aisles. At the second show, practically no one was even standing after having been successfully shouted down by chotches in the back.

I’m certain that the reaction of the crowd at the first show had a lot to do with the fact that earlier that day, Ohio State had beaten Michigan in football for the first time in eight years. Everyone was in a mood to party. There would be no shouting down by chotches that day. Seal even referred to the game during the show and how everyone was feeling happy. He had Columbus figured out to a T.

I mentioned that at one time there were only two sports in Columbus that anyone cared about: Ohio State football and Ohio State spring football. That remained true until the Blue Jackets started in 2000. Sure, those still are by far the two biggest games in town, but sports fans at least have another option now.

I used to be part of that crowd. When I was a kid, because Dad worshipped Ohio State football, I bought in, and the team always was great, but … well, my childhood was a string of bitter disappointments. From 1970, when I was six and first really beginning to understand and appreciate what was going on, to 1980, Ohio State had a shot at a national championship six times and blew all six.

The 1980 Rose Bowl, when OSU blew a six-point lead to USC and Charles White, was the final straw. I was so angry, so upset that not only they lost but lost to a running game in the last two minutes—unheard of for OSU—that I started crying openly before going upstairs to my room to cry in isolation.

Scott reminds me of this to this day, so that should tell you about what happened after that. I took a look at myself and was so embarrassed—humiliated even—that I was crying like a little girl after a freaking FOOTBALL GAME, I vowed that I would NEVER let a sporting event affect me like that again.

When I moved away and beheld the OSU experience from a different perspective, I saw what jerks Ohio State fans could be when they didn’t win every game, as obviously was entitled. I didn’t want to attach myself to that.

When Ohio State fired Earle Bruce and hired John Cooper, I was at Northwestern. Northwestern changed everything. Of course, I loved my team, and my first fall there, the Wildcats won four games. Four wins after how bad the team had been earlier in the decade was like OSU beating Michigan four times. Northwestern wasn’t supposed to win, so it was just fun.

Well, what was fun about cheering for Ohio State? If you didn’t beat Michigan or win the national championship, you had a crappy season. If you won at Northwestern—at all—it was great. Talk about some real perspective.

Soon after that, I moved to Michigan and saw the rivalry from the other side of the enemy lines. It was eye-opening. It might have been because Michigan won all the time, but the alums I knew cared more about beating Michigan State or Notre Dame than they did Ohio State. It got to be amusing to see how OSU would lose this year. By the time I moved home in 1994, I was completely cured of my OSU worship.

In 1998, Ohio State had its first real super team since 1975, and it blew a game to Michigan State that cost them the national title. The Dispatch ran a picture the next day of three guys in the stands all decked out in Buckeye gear, crying their eyes out. These were grown men, not 15-year-old boys.

I mocked them but felt sorry for them at the same time. I mean when you wrap yourself up in something that ultimately doesn’t mean anything—sports are an entertainment, period—it’s sad. I had been there, but, fortunately, I grew out of it.

Then a funny thing happened: I became an Ohio State fan again. When Cooper was axed, I advocated hiring Jim Tressel. Most people said I was nuts: Tressel was from Division I-AA; he can’t handle a big program. Instead, they said, OSU should hire Glen Mason, who had taken over poor Kansas and Minnesota programs and made them mediocre. All Tressel had done was win four national championships—on the field in playoffs, not through some convoluted computer formula.

OSU, of course, hired Tressel, and despite how his tenure ended, I doubt anyone would argue that it was the wrong move. I was right, and it was gratifying to see Ohio State beat Michigan every year and win every other bowl game for the first time in a long time.

Sure there were disappointments, like Florida and LSU in 2007 and 2008, but aside from losing $10 in Vegas on the Florida debacle, it didn’t bother me. It wasn’t how it used to be for me, thank goodness.

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