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Big $'s Thoughts on Kareem Hunt Signing and NFL Policy

(Big $ is a member of The North Coast Posse, who cover the Cleveland Browns beat for Pencil Storm.)

The last thing the world needs right now is another blowhard dissertation on the Cleveland Browns’ signing of Kareem Hunt. However I've got a computer, some time and a platform, so the world is out of luck.

So without climbing to a moral high ground or retreating behind an orange & brown wall of Homer-ism, here are some thoughts:

1.) This was inevitable and we should have all been prepared for the signing. Literally, this was easier to prognosticate than LeBron's move to Los Angeles. Browns General Manager John Dorsey is the guy who gave Hunt his shot in the NFL and has the base relationship that would allow for taking the risk. Dorsey has also set a precedent for working with players with issues of this nature. Do some research on Tyreek Hill and you'll see Mr. Dorsey has been around this block before. Lastly, Kareem is a Cleveland guy, so it was natural that the Browns would be a potential destination. All in all, once K.C cut him, Kareem in Cleveland was not an "if" scenario but a "when."

2. Referring to the third point above, being back in his hometown may not serve as a benefit. As more information comes out, it becomes evident that Kareem Hunt has - at the very least - lifestyle issues. One can surmise that some things probably followed him around Willoughby, which led to a high school player of his caliber settling on a MAC school. (I promise you, no one wants to play on Tuesdays if they don't have to.) Changing people, places and things are essential to kicking any habit: addiction, anger issue, etc. Surrounding himself with the same crowd - which couldn't keep their professional athlete buddy from flushing his future down the toilet at the hotel - could hinder any real change.

3. Lastly, the NFL is actually getting worse at addressing the epidemic of its players committing violence against women. The league is absolutely paralyzed by Commissioner Roger Goodell's control issues and has decided no real plan is an adequate response. Well NFL, it’s your lucky day. I like gambling on your product so much that I will offer you this plan to help save the day. (author's note: I’d also prefer that women quit getting physically and mentally terrorized as well.)

Big $’s Plan

Step 1:  Upon determination that a player has been involved in a physical altercation with a woman they are immediately entered into an intensive six- week cognitive behavioral therapy program to address anger issues, decision making, alcohol & drug concerns and any other issues contributing to the delinquent behavior. This program will be administered and monitored by an independent agency, who will determine person-centered plans of action for each offender. During this six weeks the player cannot participate in any NFL or team activities. The player's progress and commitment will be watched closely by the agency delivering the services. If they feel adequate progress is being made, the player can graduate to step two.…..

Step 2: At this time, the player can resume team activities/ practices etc,. However, they cannot play in games for four more weeks. While re-engaging into the team culture the player will continue to participate in daily activities led and monitored by the independent agency. If satisfactory progress is made, the player can return to games after the 10 week process.

Step 3: While the player returns for weeks 11-17 of the season, he will continue weekly meetings with the agency to ensure they are ready for full release. The agency can grant full release as they see fit.

This process is fully independent of criminal punishment and cannot be negotiated. It is fully expected that some players will not be able to fulfill the commitment,and the independent agency can suspend players from the program at their discretion. Said players would then have to re apply again after a year's time.

Obviously this is a rough skeleton, but if you're reading this Roger, I can very easily fill in all necessary details.

Well, that's enough on that, back to scouring mock drafts...…..

How Kiss Can Save The End of The Road Tour - by Nick Jezienry

Here is an idea for Kiss to salvage its End of the Road Tour, assuming Paul Stanley’s voice doesn’t make a miracle comeback. (For the record, I’m hoping it does recover and this has a happy ending). Click here for Nick’s review of KISS 2/2/2019

Here’s my idea: A Trip Down Memory Lane

This should be Kiss’ victory lap celebrating a Hall of Fame career and a long list of successful albums. If the band played one song off every studio album, it would be the same number of songs in the current set-list. This also would do two things:

  • GIve the band a legitimate excuse not to play 11 Paul songs (which is what they did for the start of the tour).

  • Satisfy the fans who crave deeper tracks and not just the hits. Though Kiss has said it’s all about the hits, so the true deep tracks will be just a few, but more than the current list of songs being performed.

Consider this potential set-list (listed by order of release, not the order they should be played):

Kiss: Deuce. A solid choice, though Black Diamond is tough to leave out. If the band was willing to do more than 21 songs, both could be played and Paul wouldn’t have to sing. He could smash the fake guitar, though.

Hotter than Hell: Let Me Go, Rock and Roll. It’s in the current set-list. No problem here.

Dressed to Kill: Rock and Roll All Night. A no-brainer.

Destroyer: Probably the toughest album. Detroit Rock City (Paul) would be the one, and Beth, with Eric on piano/vocal, would be the encore.

Rock and Roll Over: Calling Dr. Love. Personally, I’d prefer Ladies Room but Kiss likes to play the hits when possible.

Love Gun: Love Gun. Paul needs his rap. It’s tempting to have Tommy sing Shock Me, but I’ve got a better idea to get in his two vocals.

Dynasty: Dirty Livin’ with Eric on the mic. A true deep track!

Unmasked: Talk To Me, Two Sides of the Coin, or Torpedo Girl with Tommy on vocal.  Since nothing ever gets played from this LP, one of the three Ace songs makes sense.

The Elder: Escape From the Island (instrumental). Paul can’t do the falsetto vocals. This is my cop-out to allow the two songs from Destroyer, or maybe two from the debut album.

Creatures of the Night: I Love It Loud. Or War Machine. But again, Kiss picks the hits.

Lick It Up: Lick It Up. Gene was worthless in the ‘80s after Creatures, so here comes a steady dose of Paul.

Animalize: Heaven’s On Fire. Tempting to go Burn Bitch Burn, but I’m trying to be serious in my suggestions.

Asylum: Tears Are Falling. I think this is the worst Kiss album. Carnival of Souls may argue, especially “side two.”

Crazy Crazy Nights: Crazy Crazy Nights or Turn on the Night, whichever is easier for Paul to sing.

Hot In The Shade: Hide Your Heart. It’s in the current set-list and is somewhere between a hit and a deep track.

Revenge: Unholy or Domino. Gene can take his pick from this record.

Carnival of Souls: Hate. Gene could spit blood here.

Psycho Circus: I love the title track, but Paul can’t sing it anymore. I’m going with You Wanted the Best. All four guys sing which helps save Paul’s voice.

Sonic Boom: Say Yeah. It’s in the current set list and Paul did OK with it.

Monster: Outta This World. A song that Tommy sings on the record. It’s a strong song, one of my faves from the CD. Tommy can emerge from Ace’s shadow – sort of – for a brief moment.

There you have it. A set-list with eight songs each by Gene and Paul, plus two apiece by the hired guns, and an instrumental. The option to add Black Diamond would make it a 22-song set, and Eric would jump to a third vocal.

The only real downer would be missing Shout It Out Loud.

This idea also allows Kiss to showcase its whole career and would be a welcome detour to the End of the Road tour.


KISS Army Radio on Sirius XM: Not One Good Song.......Yet - by Ricki C.

“Congratulations for only being 15 years behind everybody else technology-wise now, instead of 40 years behind.” Thus spake Michael “Biggie” McDermott in July 2017, the first time I was enthusing to him over getting Sirius XM radio in the new (used) car I had just bought. I was over the moon picking up Underground Garage, the Tom Petty station and Bruce Springsteen radio after moving up from a 1992 Toyota Camry that still had a cassette deck in it. Biggie was less than impressed.

Today my lovely wife Debbie returned from an early Saturday morning trip to the Worthington Farmer’s Market and greeted me at the door with, “Did you replace my Billy Joel channel on Sirius with the KISS Army Radio channel?” “No, I did not,” I replied, alarmed at the accusation, “why would I POSSIBLY do that?” For the uninitiated, in the Ricki C. Rock & Roll Universe, going from the Billy Joel channel to the KISS channel is the DEFINITION of going from the musical frying pan into the (pun intended) fire. (Or, the pyro, as it were.)

Debbie and I traded key fobs at the door as I left for my Saturday errands and the first song I heard on KISS Army Radio was Cheap Trick’s cover of “Ain’t That A Shame.” “Hey, this is pretty cool,” I said to myself as I cranked the volume to a pain threshold, “we might have something here.” Then, after Cheap Trick, Sirius started playing KISS music and for the rest of the 35-minute drive to Giant Eagle and Colin’s Coffee (where I was dropping off CD’s), they didn’t play ONE MORE SINGLE GOOD SONG.

Debbie had said to me on my way out the door that morning, “You can certainly see where the Watershed boys were influenced by KISS.” THAT statement (and it’s not the first time I’ve heard it) has always confused me, because I’ve never – from the very first time I saw Colin & the guys in 1990 when they were still called The Wires – heard ONE NOTE of KISS influence in Watershed. “KISS were the ones who made us want to pick up guitars and play,” Colin said to me when I related that idea to him. “We never would have been a band without KISS. They were possibly our biggest influence.”

I suppose that quote might be true, Colin really has no reason to lie to me. In that instance I just find myself thanking my God that Joe Oestreich and Colin Gawel learned to write good – in fact, GREAT – songs for Watershed along the way, something I have no recorded evidence on my KISS Army Radio channel to be true of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. Here’s a random sampling of the tracks I heard in that first 35-minute drive: “Domino,” “Rocket Ride,” “I Just Wanna,” “Every Time I Look At You,” “Let’s Put The X In Sex,” a Paul Stanley solo track called “Tonight You Belong To Me” (that Colin seemed particularly galled that I included in the NOT ONE GOOD SONG list), and “Deuce,” among others.

So here’s my premise: I am going to put KISS Army Radio on in the car (I’ll have to move it to MY tier from Debbie’s tier, she ain’t havin’ it anymore) and when I HEAR a good song I will get back on Pencilstorm and call everyone’s attention to it. I’ll talk to you on down the road……… - Ricki C. / February 9th, 2019

Concert Review: KISS "End of Road Tour" / Tacoma Dome 2/2/2019 - by Nick Jezierny

It hurts me to write this. It really does. My decision to attend Kiss’ “End of the Road” tour on February 2 in Tacoma, Washington, was a mistake.

Kiss is my favorite band, and the previous 10 times I’d seen them (list below), the band (whether it was Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, Peter Criss, Eric Carr, Eric Singer, Bruce Kulick or Tommy Thayer), delivered a very good or great show. I can’t say that about what I witnessed last weekend. This isn’t about the setlist or the lack of two original members. My dissatisfaction stems entirely from Paul Stanley not being able to sing like Paul Stanley. And it was evident right away.

Detroit Rock City. The first song, my favorite song of all-time. This is going to be perfect.

And then it wasn’t.

Instead of “I feel uptight on a Saturday night,” Paul chimes in a half a verse late and he only got out “radio’s the only light” and it was rushed and my jaw dropped in disbelief.

What? How does this happen? According to setlist.fm., Kiss had performed Detroit Rock City 2,021 times prior to taking the stage that night. And on the third show of their final, final tour, Paul botched the opener, and then every other song he sang.

It also took at least three songs for the sound crew to dial in the sound. I’m told the Tacoma Dome isn’t known for acoustics, but “Shout It Out Loud” and “Deuce” sounded like they were performed in a tin can.

I pondered walking out at this point. Seriously. Did I really want my last time seeing my favorite band of all time to be this? I talked myself out of it, mainly because I flew from Boise to Seattle, navigated the bus system to Tacoma and hiked up and down a monster hill from my AirBNB to get to the show.

I’m glad I stayed as the sound improved, even though Paul did not. Gene sounded fantastic. Eric Singer’s drum solo was pretty good (I’m not a drum solo or any solo fan – I’d rather hear another song or two). Tommy Thayer didn’t wow, but he did his thing but didn’t get to sing an Ace song like he’d done at previous shows I’ve attended.

The stage was cool, the pyro was right. There were no real surprises as for new gimmicks. But then again, when Paul asked how many people were seeing Kiss for the first time, most of the arena went bonkers and told them they were in for a treat.

Had I purchased an $11 beer, I’d have gagged at that point.

“Say Yeah” was next and probably the biggest surprise (unless you looked at the previous night’s setlist like I did). Yes, Kiss played more songs from “Sonic Boom” than it did from “Rock and Roll Over” on its final tour. With a 200-plus song catalog, they were going to miss some of my favorites and I told myself I would accept whatever the band played.

I assumed they would play those songs well. The ones by Paul didn’t hold up, including “Love Gun,” and “Psycho Circus.” I can only hope that Paul was feeling off – maybe a cold or flu – because he sounded much, much better in 2014 and 2016.

And, of course, I have my memories of that first concert back in 1978 or sitting in the third row in 1985. The reunion tour, the 3-D show in LA, and the first farewell tour when Kiss was hitting on all cylinders.

That’s how I am going to try and remember the hottest band in the world, because the end of the road just doesn’t sound as good. - Nick Jezierny

My Kiss Concert History

Jan. 28, 1978 at New Haven (Conn.) Coliseum w/The Rockets

Dec. 21, 1985 at New Haven Coliseum w/Black ‘n Blue

Dec. 19, 1987 at New Haven Coliseum w/Ted Nugent

June 6, 1990 at Ohio Center w/Little Caesar and Slaughter

June 12, 1990 at Cincinnati Gardens w/Little Caesar and Slaughter

July 19, 1996 at Gund Arena w/The Nixons

Oct. 31, 1998 at Dodger Stadium w/Smashing Pumpkins

March 14, 2000 at Pan American Center (Las Cruces, NM) w/Skid Row and Ted Nugent

June 23, 2014 at USANA Amphitheater (Salt Lake City) w/Def Leppard and Kobra & the Lotus

July 7, 2016 at Taco Bell Arena (Boise, Idaho) w/Caleb Johnson

February 2, 2019 at Tacoma Dome (Tacoma, Wash.) no opening act

Click here for 12 more KISS stories on Pencilstorm. Or just google Kiss Pencilstorm.