Monday, July 03, 2006

Summer Blockbuster Series: Kryptonite: For the Love of Money

Money money money money, Money…

For the love of money

People will steal from their mother

For the love of money

People will rob their own brother

For the love of money

People can't even walk the street

Because they never know who in the world they're gonna beat

For that lean, mean, mean green

Almighty dollar, money…

- From For The Love of Money by the O’Jays

Cash Rules Everything Around Me

It's funny that I just heard that song at the grocery store, because all last week I had money on the brain.

I picked up a second job (or third, really), to pull in some extra “mean green.” After all, it’s L.A.C. out here, an acronym that not only stands for “Los Angeles, California,” but also for “Livin’ Ain’t Cheap.” Gas is currently 3 bucks and 30 cents a gallon here in the City of Angels.

I tried to move my mobile phone service career from Sprint to the nifty new ESPN Mobile service. I changed my mind when I learned that the move alone would have cost me in excess of $400. The funny thing is that the phone would have been “free.”

I went to see Superman Returns, a $200 million movie partially based around Mr. Clean’s evil twin Lex Luthor’s lust for wealth. The super-hero flick has raked in a cool $84 million in its first five days.

Kevin Spacey holding a sliver of deadly "Kkkkrypt-to-nite!"

I witnessed my beloved Indiana Pacers lose recently acquired star forward Peja Stojakovic to the New Orleans Hornets hours after the NBA’s free agency negotiating period begun. It was just weeks ago that Peja’s agent said that his client “would like to finish his career as a Pacer." I guess the Hornets’ absurd 5-year, $64 million contract offer changed his mind.

Method Man said it best; Cash indeed does “rule everything around me.”

Killing Like Kryptonite

In the Superman series, Kryptonite is a green element lethal to Superman. Much like Kryptonite, money is the green element that can be lethal for both sports and the film industry.

You see, it isn’t the ESPN Mobile debacle, gas prices, or even the cost of living that has me outraged. I came to the conclusion long ago that the world does indeed revolve around money. It’s money’s influence of my two other favorite worlds, sports and the film industry, that’s put my boxers in a bunch.

The Stojakovic example was just the latest example of exemplary greed. I wasn’t pissed because he isn’t coming back to the Pacers. Honestly, he’s vastly overrated. I’m pissed that it only took him one hour to decide that money was more important than loyalty or success. It’s been going on for quite some time, and I’m sick of it.

The NBA is a financial train wreck. In last week’s NBA Draft the Seattle Sonics flushed a top ten pick down the toilet by selecting no-namer Mouhamed Saer Sene and the Phoenix Suns simply donated away two quality late first-round picks. Both moves were cost-cutting procedures. On the flip side, The Denver Nuggets just signed 23-year-old Brazilian forward Nene to a deal worth $60 million. Nene is coming off a season-ending knee injury and his career-high season averages are 11.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Sounds like a $60-million investment to me.

The NBA isn’t the only sports league dominated by moolah. In MLB New York Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner has amassed a 2006 player payroll of $198.7 million. Meanwhile, David Glass, the wicked man that owns my Kansas City Royals, is cheaper than Wal-Mart, the company he used to run.

Dough has the NFL by the gonads, too. The owners of the Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, and Washington Redskins annually shell out crazy cake in pursuit of the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, my Kansas City Chiefs, er, “Cheaps,” have a spendthrift owner in Lamar Hunt. Hunt only does enough to put a playoff contender out on the field. In Kansas City, where BBQ and football are king, that fills the seats. But the Chiefs haven’t won a playoff game in an eternity. Sign CB Ty Law already. The Chiefs have been a cash cow and the fans are dying for a playoff run.

The film industry has been corrupted by cash perhaps even more than sports.

How else can you define an industry in which it is easier to get CHiPs starring Wilmer Valderrama greenlit than Best Picture Crash?

Yo Momma is the only one who thinks you can act.

Hollywood is safe. Yes, great films are still being made, but only sparsely. It’s hard to make art when everything is based on projections and formulas. Hell, this is the industry that is giving us yet another Rocky movie instead of a biopic of Joe Lewis or Rocky Marciano. Do I really want to see a punch-drunk 60-year-old Sly Stallone don the gloves one more time? But Rocky 6 is guaranteed to make bank, so it gets shot, chopped, scored, and shoved down our throats.

I’m just sick of everything revolving around money.

Auteur Orson Welles didn’t compose his masterpiece Citizen Kane because of cash considerations.

Hall of Fame Running Back Jim Brown didn’t punish defenders aplenty for the purse.

The Man of Steel didn't slip on his suit because of a super-sized Metropolis salary.

They did it for the love of the game.

I guess I just long for a return to those days and still have that “love of the game.” For both sports and film. Sometimes I wonder—“does anyone else?”


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