Screw Neal Peart – Freaks and Geeks

I finally got something productive from my insane ravings about Keith Moon and Neil Peart. That’s what we used to argue about in high school and nothing made me more insane than the Neil Peart fans. Then 25 years later I’m on Facebook having the very same argument only with YouTube videos instead of vinyl recordings and VHS-Tape.
Keith Moon over Neil Peart is to me a defining factor in your music personality. To me it’s all about how feel, spontaneity, and originality are so much more important than just precision and chops. I’m sure Toto’s guys had killer chops, but I don’t really want to listen to any of their music.

Anyway, I immediately typed in “Neil Peart sucks” and got a clip from the television show Freaks and Geeks. In the scene, the main family’s father tries to turn a stoner John Bonham wannabe on to Gene Krupa. I had those times with my dad, but actually the genius of the scene was that the kid, Jason Segal, was so out there and befuddled that he was blown away by Buddy Rich. “I bet he’s had a lesson, man, Maybe I should try that.”

I never ever said that to my father, but he never played me any Gene Krupa, it was usually some organist that he saw play on his trip to Germany or something bizarre like that. My dad actually flew home from that trip with the Stray Cats, who actually revel in the music of my dad’s era, except my dad was likely listening to the Crew Cuts like all of the other white people in Ohio. Oh well, he meant well. He brought me back a Who import that I already had, but it’s the thought that counts.

So I decided to finally watch Freaks and Geeks, having heard just ridiculous praise for the show, but never checking it out. Amazing show – I went to High School in the exact same period and that’s exactly what we looked like, sounded like, and what we talked about.

“The song isn’t called Teenage Wasteland – it’s called Baba O’Reilly.” I bet I said that at least twenty times when I was 15 and it really mattered to me. I remember exactly where I was when John Bonham died and so do the writers of the show, who have all gone on to be huge successes. I was at the orthodontist, which should tell you who I resembled in 1980 – physically I was a lot like Sam, but not nearly as much of a loser – I was Sam if he had an attitude and my experiences when I was the age of the Freaks were pretty similar too. My friend’s bands were called Sir Realist and Three Toed Sloth.

The show has already been posthumously praised to death, but what bugs me about this stuff is that quality always rises to the top. If something is good, it will be discovered and pick up steam. It’s why I sort of think that I could run a television station.

I mean they had to have known that this show was really good. They just didn’t have the foresight that if they stood behind it that it would eventually be profitable. You see – I’m not even arguing that these networks should sacrifice profits to support art like a charity. If something is that good, people will eventually find it and you will eventually make a ton of money.

People used to mock NBC for keeping Cheers around and then eventually it was funding the entire station for years. I was maybe one of six people who saw Office Space in the theater and loved it, but now it’s made an ungodly amount of money.

I honestly don’t understand how any scripted show could be canceled after one episode. It was like when the Browns selected Charlie Frye their starting quarterback and then traded him after one disastrous quarter in the opener against the Steelers. I don’t disagree that Charlie Frye sucked, it’s just how could you watch him for two months in training camp and not already know this. You were so convinced he was the best guy you had and you bailed on him in one quarter? It’s insanity.

So I admit that I was behind the cool scene on this show. Freaks and Geek is genius. Here’s an amazing scene and one I would have killed to have take part in real life. The show’s view of gym class was exactly what I went through.

Gym pretty much ruined my chance to be valedictorian because the best I could ever hope to get was a B. It was also the only time of the day that I wasn’t surrounded by kids that were tracked into the harder classes, and my gym coaches were every bit as oblivious to how awful some of these psychotic criminals could be. Actually, I always loved Dodge Ball – until they decided to play it with 16 inch softballs. Now, that’s just sadistic.

In this episode, Bill the tall dorky geek is upset that he always gets picked last for softball (he think that he could actually be good at it) and that he never gets to play any position where the ball could possibly go. He makes a semi-obscene (as obscene as Bill could conceive of) crank phone call to the Coach (played of course by the guy who played Biff in Back to the Future – one the greatest movie bullies of all time). The obtuse Coach then makes every kid he teaches read the transcript of the call back to him, giving the kids a once in a lifetime joyful opportunity.

My guess is the reason I never watched this at the time was that it hit too close to home as something I thought I could have and should have written. Oh well, it’s not like that hasn’t happened about 1,000 times before.

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