Make Mine a Mojito, Papa!

<I>Alcohol, my permanent accessory<BR> Alcohol, a party-time necessity<BR> Alcohol, alternative to feeling like yourself<BR> O Alcohol, I still drink to your health<BR><BR></I> - Bare Naked Ladies, "Alcohol", 1988.

FORT GRATIOT, Mich. – There's a moment in everyone's lives when they realize they're no longer young, at least culturally if not chronologically.


For myself, there've been hints, but I've done my best to disregard them.


The Moment arrived Saturday. While Ohio State was doing a collegiate impression of the Kardiac Kids against the Purdue Boilermakers, I was dragged to see the new Eminem film "8 Mile."


For those of you not familiar with Detroit, roads running east-west north of the city are labeled by mile, so Eight Mile Road is eight miles north of downtown Motown. The road is considered to be the dividing line between the austere urban decay of the city and the white flight suburbs. Eight Mile Road itself, for long stretches, is well known for its strip joints, street hustlers, prostitutes and generally roughhewn atmosphere. Think old school Prospect Avenue.


Prior to the film, a mindless string of commercials pounded the audience, shucking all sorts of gimcracks aimed at the precious 15-to-35 age demographic. That's my group, but I did my best to ignore the drivel … until a Volkswagen Beetle ad erupted on the screen. The ad itself was rather annoying because it was art-crap and I drive a BMW, anyway, but the soundtrack was "Mr. Blue Sky" by Jeff Lynne's ‘70s supergroup Electric Light Orchestra.


Ah, a blast from the past. Catchy, foot-tapping tunes from yesteryear.


Wait, was it really that long ago? Oh, Lord …


The audience around me was oblivious teenagers, and they'd never heard the song nor anything else by ELO. Clearly, the little beasts only wanted their Caucasian hip-hop hero and his rhymes.


The music was totally foreign to their ears. Certainly, ELO is dated and a little campy today, but the songs retain their unique construction and complex rhythm. Of course, it's all lost on kids today.


Hell, I sound like an old fart. I aged right there in that seat.


As for "8 Mile," it's not a bad film by any stretch. Eminem is a very natural actor, even if he is only portraying himself. But as someone with a little bit of stage experience, no role is easy, and I'd venture to say playing one's self might be the most difficult role of all. Look how awful Audie Murphy came off as Audie Murphy (that's a bone for our pre-Baby Boom readers).


That's not to say I'm a huge Eminem fan. I'll give the boy credit for lifting himself out of Michigan's ghettos and penning some lines that make me chuckle sometimes. But I'm still gleeful he lost the 2000 Grammy to Steely Dan's "Two Against Nature" album, a work that is a textbook lesson in how to sing about the most shocking, disgusting acts without resorting to crude, juvenile invective.


Perhaps Mr. Mathers will give up his rap for acting. Frank Sinatra was considered just a semi-talented punk when he earned 1955's Best Actor Oscar for "The Man with the Golden Arm."


The 19th century's Eminem, Frenchman Arthur Rimbaud, penned staggeringly brutal and beautiful poetry in his youth, then gave it all up to explore Africa and run guns. There's something to be said for that sort of career change.


Speaking of career change, Cleveland's Butch Davis must be considering a new profession after watching his team's suicidal performance in the final minute of  the most recent loss to the Steelers at Cleveland Browns Stadium.


Pittsburgh, most certainly, is a good team. But football purists can tell they should be called the Paper Steelers.


Coach Bill Cowher and offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey struck gold with Tommy Maddox, who really is less of a surprise once folks think him over. Maddox is a veteran who's not worn down by years of hits and sacks. He's fresh.


But none of that masks Pittsburgh's deficiencies. The Steelers were forced to rely on every trick play in their playbook to beat the Browns. In fact, gadget plays are a staple of Mularkey's scheme. Pittsburgh can no longer just line up and grind it out. Jerome Bettis is fading fast, and the offensive line is showing cracks in the paint.


The end is near. That team smells of the 1989 Browns, and we all know how that story played out. Reckoning day is near for the Boys in Black.



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