Aaron Goldhammer, The Matrix, and Pearl Jam Unplugged

What a week it’s been here at WFNY. We’ve been facing down the dead periods and trying to keep our heads high above the water line. The Browns slowed down their free agency assault. The Cavaliers are awkward as they integrate new teammates and those returning from injury. March Madness is finally here, but that tourney is so insane that previewing it hardly makes much sense, you know, except if you’re talking to TD. So that’s where we are. Thanks for being here just the same. Thanks to those who continue to support on Patreon. Now let’s get to it.

My chat with Aaron Goldhammer…

I had a really great time talking to Hammer this week. I know everyone in the market knows him and everyone has an opinion of him. Just having him on the podcast gave me a tiny view through the lens that he lives his public life as a media personality. No sooner do I post the podcast and let people know that it exists, people are trashing it on Twitter. Never mind that there’s been no possible way they could have listened to it. It’s fascinating to me because he’s still considered the new guy and an outsider, but with every year he’s spent more and more of a percent of his lifetime in Cleveland. He’s approaching a third at this point and still remains one of the most polarizing figures in the media market.

Regardless, I’ve always found him friendly and passionate about his work. Whether you like him or not, I think he’s a great guest and I was really happy he spent some time telling us about what it’s been like to be him over the first ten years of his career in Cleveland.

The Matrix trilogy is far from perfect, but it shouldn’t be rebooted…

This week we found out that The Matrix will have more life in the future. Warner Brothers is doing some kind of follow-up, but we’re not sure yet whether it will be a sequel, prequel, reboot or something else in the Matrix universe. The report on Hollywood Reporter used the word reboot, and that’s a little bit scary to me. I’m fully on board with more Matrix movies, but I think it only makes sense to build off of the originals rather than start from scratch.

Brian Spaeth and I have spent a lot of time talking about issues like this on the WFNY podcast – usually related to Spider-Man, I think – and this isn’t a movie that needs to be rebooted. A reboot is preferable if there’s some kind of technological change that makes a reboot some sort of marked improvement over the original. When technology is one of the unlisted cast members of a movie, totally consider rebooting it completely. Zombies have been overdone, but it made perfect sense to re-do those movies. Some horror movies would benefit greatly from this as well as I think about The Blob. The Matrix, however, was so cutting edge that it won’t benefit substantially from the technological advances we’ve made since the movie’s original release in 1999.

So, if I get a vote, which I don’t, I have to say that whatever Warner decides to do, they shouldn’t pretend like the original trilogy doesn’t exist. They should ride that wave, expand and improve on parts where the original sequels fell short. Use the already-understood universe and bring us back to the magic of that original movie.

Pearl Jam’s Unplugged turns 25 years old…

Everyone always talks about Nirvana or even Alice in Chains’ Unplugged – and trust me I love them – but Pearl Jam’s is often left out of the discussion as one of the best. Part of that’s due to the fact that there was no official album release other than overpriced record store bootlegs until a DVD cropped up in 2009. While the adult contemporary world was still squealing in delight over Eric Clapton’s Unplugged, I was watching Pearl Jam lose their minds performing Porch. It was also a full year before Nirvana’s life-altering performance.

For my money, this version of Black is as good as any the band has ever done live to my vast Pearl Jam knowledge.

That’s it from me this week! Enjoy the tourney.

  • BenRM

    I’d be more inclined to support a Matrix re-boot if it kept the first 1 as is and…fixed the last two to make them less…sucky?

    RE: Hammer
    “It’s fascinating to me because he’s still considered the new guy and an outsider.”

    I think it’s because this is how he chooses to present himself, like how he actively cheers against tOSU. I’m not saying all radio peeps have to automatically adopt their city’s teams – but rooting against them just so you can be…what some sort of heel?..is what makes you an outsider.

  • I’ve always found the “if you cover certain teams (or play for certain teams), you have to be fans of said teams” thing to be incredibly bizarre.

  • BenRM

    I certainly don’t think you have to be a fan of them…but you probably shouldn’t disparage them at nearly every opportunity if you don’t want to be disliked or viewed as an outsider.

    I think Adam the Bull on 92.3 handles it well. Big cubs fan. But wasn’t a jerk about it during the WS.

  • Hopwin

    I’d be more inclined to support a Matrix re-boot if it kept the first 1 as is and…fixed the last two to make them less…sucky?

    This gets all the upticks.

  • mgbode

    There’s Matrix and then the cartoons. What are you talking about “last two movies” ??? These only exist as much as a Sinbad genie movie — a construct of people’s minds.

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  • maxfnmloans

    Thats always been one of the reasons I’ve found him grating. He does it, not because he doesn’t like the teams, or because he is a fan of another team, but for the shock value. Specifically to get a reaction from people, as if he’s playing a part. Traffic is annoying enough, I dont need to sit and listen to someone actively trying to get a rise out of people.

    He seems to have toned it down a bit as hes grown up, but I dont think Ill ever choose to listen to anything hes a part of

  • Chris

    Agreed on Bull.

    I can’t remember what station it was on, but there was an interview with Chris Haynes last year. He basically said it’s his job to report the happenings of the team (groundbreaking news, I know). He said he didn’t particularly care if the Cavs win or lose on a given night but that from a career standpoint, it is best for his exposure if the Cavs are doing well. Comments like that may rub fans the wrong way, but I can appreciate his honesty. Maybe we’d prefer that the local/beat guys and gals are all fans, but I’m sure the Haynes-of-the-world are abundant. It is what it is.

  • Chris

    Matrix… cartoons… you have my gears turning Bode!

    Archer / Matrix mash-up for Season 9!

  • AmyRoss11
  • JM85

    Goldhammer isn’t bad when he’s with Rizzo. He wasn’t that good on his own though. And I’m glad he got rid of those horrible hosts and put himself back on the RBS.

  • NankirPhelge

    Goldhammer chased me away from KNR many years ago because he was an annoying blend of equal parts ignorance and arrogance. He was “unlistenable to.” I wish him no ill will and maybe he’s changed, but I have no interest in finding out.

  • “Maybe we’d prefer that the local/beat guys and gals are all fans…”

    How would this aid objectivity? Or does this no longer matter?

    Feels like wanting them to be fans is nothing more than coddling.

  • JNeids

    Good lord the spambots are out in full force today.

  • Chris

    As long as we can feel good and no one hurts our feelings, then I can fully encapsulate my own little world and hide from the reality driven by facts and reason.

    Excuse me, I have a protest to get back to.

  • Saggy

    When I worked for a national network in the late 90’s I covered a ton of New Jersey Devils games. I grew up as an Islander fan, so the Devils – while not the Rangers or Flyers – were not on my good list. But eventually you have no choice but to be a fan of the team you are covering. You don’t have to try to actively root for them but it’s hard not to. What fun would your job be if all you ever did was get angry when the team you cover does well?

    And to actively root against them makes little sense. If I were the programming director I would be looking for someone with the ability to get inside of stories, which is unlikely when you don’t care or aren’t invited inside the walls because of your attitude.

    Don’t think for a second that athletes don’t know who is for them or against them. Guys have no problem talking with enemy reporters (White Sox, Michigan people) when they’re dressed as wolves. But when you’ve got one of your own coming down on you they notice and respond with caution and/or acrimony.

  • Saggy

    The beat guys are likely to look for the positives and root for the team because he/she is always with the team. Frankly, they should look for the good side. Beat guys/gals are considered to be quasi-teammates in many regards, as they are at practice more often than some of the team’s stars. I don’t consider it “fandom” but I do see a common interest in the success of the team.

  • Saggy

    I hate reboots. what’s the point? the first one is magic. can’t be duplicated.

  • Steve

    It works though, right? I have avoided Cleveland sports talk radio for a while ( and boy does that help one’s mental health) and don’t know which shows are drawing well, but that you used the word “heel” is perfect. Sports talk radio is wrasslin. Its all fake made up controversy to drive middle age men into a tizzy.

  • Saggy

    I don’t look at Goldhammer as a hater, the way most people do. I just don’t think he has a talented radio voice and he lacks the charisma to keep me listening. Mike Francesca is one of the worst radio hosts ever but because of that he’s also one of the best. He’s a real opinionated (and mostly wrong) ass who cuts off and/or dismisses callers when he doesn’t agree with them. But he has a good voice and a presence – a gravitas.

    To me, Goldhammer sounds like my 16 year old nephew; his lightly informed opinions and whiny delivery make me weary of trusting him and also kinda make my ears hurt. If he’s on, I’m off.

  • Chris

    However, to your point, I agree objectivity should be valued (and I think it is, for the most part). But if we’re going to have a non-objective personality, I’d much prefer a homer than a heel. Sports is an entertainment business, after all.

    I think anyone who witnessed 1-15 and 9 years of sub-.500 football deserves either coddling or psychiatric treatment.

  • Saggy

    forget about specific personal preference and just think about it generally: if objectivity is a given, would you rather hear someone who thinks your viewpoint is rubbish or someone who accepts it? I don’t need to agree on every little thing but it’s nice to know you’re pulling in the same direction.

  • Saggy

    The grunge era was so awesome. SO much crap right before and after but so much quality during. It was a perfect blend of so many things. I always wonder if I wasn’t a teenager at the time would I like it as much. But I wasn’t a teenager when Dylan and the Beatles were breaking out and I still like them.

    Pearl Jam rarely gets talked about in the same regard as Nirvana, even though they were truly opposite sides of the same coin. They should be looked at as more of a Stones/Beatles instead of a Dylan/Donovan.

  • Chris

    Ya, but I’m making $104/hour from home today!!!

  • BenRM

    I’m not sure it does. I only ever listened during commercial breaks on other stations. So, at least anecdotally, it didn’t work.

  • Steve

    Well, not with you specifically, but the market in general. The whole medium, and not just sports, thrived (maybe still thrives, but certainly exists) based on what outrageous thing is going to be said next.

  • Hopwin

    See also: Howard Stern.
    Is this the rise of the sports-talk shock-jock?

  • Hopwin

    The flip-side of that argument is when the host takes their team rooting interest too far and you can no longer respect their opinion. When Dustin Fox, Ken Carman, TigersBrowns2 and MKC pick the Browns to go 10-6 I no longer have any interest in hearing what they have to say about the team since they cannot objectively, or rationally, analyze and discuss it.

  • Toddyus

    “I always wonder if I wasn’t a teenager at the time would I like it as much.”

    I’ve often wondered the same thing. 1992 was the start of my senior year in high school and about when grunge started to hit the mainstream. There are so many great albums from that era that have attached to them great memories for me, but they also came out during my senior year of high school and through undergrad. It’s such a time of growth and change and awakening to the world, I don’t know how much of my affinity is for the music and how much is for that time of life.

  • BenRM

    The voice really does matter, unfortunately.

  • tsm

    I want objectivity and insight from my radio-media guys. I want the truth and I want to learn why things are happening as well as what the strategy is for the future. My pet peeve is any radio host who cuts off (intelligent) callers who make a valid point that disagrees with the hosts point. I want to hear an intelligent discussion, where I know more a bout the subject than before I tuned in. Those guys are few and far between. Hubie Brown is the first example I can think of as far as objectivity and insight.

  • Hopwin

    Just ask Jim Rosenhaus *shudders*

  • scripty

    I remember in the Tressel glory years of beating UM, he’d go “no way they beat Michigan”, I remember one year after whipping UM, he was doing the late show already going in on that next year Michigan would be more loaded than OSU, and simps here were taking the bait.

    Straight outta Cossell playbook of instigating.

  • scripty

    The Matrix was three films, but in terms of story arc and structure, more like two films. 2 & 3 were essentially one story/film – spread out over 5 hours and 2 releases. This was the basis that made it unable to live up to part 1.

    That said, the car chase from II is one of the boldest, best scenes in motion picture history. Camera, conception, direction, music. It’s insane.

  • scripty

    Nirvana gets the Doors/Kirby Puckett lionization due to Cobains early death. That said, they were the first people through the door and for those that recall, they took a mountain of s–t from the old glam metal community and still do. PJ was a only a little behind Nirvana but having lived those years and DJ’d and heavy into the scene at that time, Nirvana got bloodied by a factor of 10.

    PJ is going into the HOF on first ballot (I realize it’s silly but it doesnt happen much), have been celebrated with documenteries and still do well touring, and sell out arenas and stadia worldwide.

    I think the descent of FM rock radio, especially locally, hurt as IMO, people were always a few years behind PJ. People never really understood Yield ad Riot Act, which were both extremely well done albums. PJ phoned it in on Binaural and that was when most of the people who loved them as teens were now turning into mature adults and like anything, moved on to other things in their lives.

  • Chris