View from space

Once again, to gain some accurate perspective about Life on Earth, it's helpful to assume the role of a spaceman zooming in from another galaxy. If you were that spaceman, I'm guessing that by now you couldn't help but notice—Earth is Planet Football, as in, this whole effing rock is positively cuckoo for the game. Whether it's the American version, played with helmets and linebackers, or the Everybody Else version, played on pitches with no hands allowed, this zany Third Stone From the Sun is absolutely gonzo for either fútbol or football.

That said, you won't hear any whining from me about what a lame game soccer is. I have to objectively report that I got thoroughly and genuinely sucked into the Mugger in Manaus—that is, the game between us and the Portuguese. It really was a fascinating and gripping contest, made all the more so by the fact that the game finished the way it did.

It's now obvious that the White Stripes have completely conquered the planet with That Song, now heard in stadiums around the globe. If you can't instantly hear the “Dum—dum-dum-da-dum-dum” beat in your mind's ear (admittedly, it doesn't translate all that well into the printed word), don't worry. You know it when you hear it. Instantly. If you're a geezer like me, you may not know the tune or where it came from. It's a track called “Seven Nation Army,” the first song on the White Stripes 2003 album Elephant, and it is still, to this day, the most successful single in the band's history.

This Jersey Boys flick fills an important gap in rock history. While it's fashionable to dismiss 1963 as a dud year in American pop with nothing really super nifty going on, Jersey Boys reminds that that simply wasn't the case. In '63, you had three primal all timal musical forces emerging and peaking—Phil Spector, the Beach Boys the Four Seasons. By mid-'63, these Jersey dudes, led by the extraordinary larynx of Frankie Valli, had scorched American top 40 charts with three number one smashes in a row—“Sherry,” “Big Girls Don't Cry” and “Walk Like a Man.” To say they were on a roll is to lazily state the obvious. Between Spector, Brian Wilson and Valli, American pop was doing pretty damn good. And then … those moptops and stones appeared and busted up the joint but good!

As for Iraq … well, gee, look at all the concern for the problems now being exposed in this horribly destabilized region. It's funny how many of those who are greatly concerned about the destabilized Iraq are the same people who couldn't wait to storm in and destabilize the living shit out of the place. Of course, the Neo-cons managed to convince themselves—and us—that the only thing our tanks had to fear in Baghdad were too many rose petals gunking up the treads. You think all this Shiite would be hitting the fan if Saddam was still in charge? I don't know the answer. Nobody does. But it's an interesting question.