Criticizing the Critics

“Whatever I do, I’ve done the wrong thing for about four years and then suddenly it was the right thing and what I’m doing now is the wrong thing, you know?”    Brian Eno 1988

Dave Marsh on Devo..

In 1967, Jann S. Wenner and jazz critic Ralph J. Gleason founded Rolling Stone magazine in San Francisco.
Volume 1, #1 of Rolling Stone was published on November 9, 1967.
It has since published, every two weeks, with a circulated readership of nearly 1.5 million as of 2013.

Rock music criticism in the U.S. began when Paul Williams created Crawdaddy! in January 1966.
The stated goal of Crawdaddy! and Rolling Stone was to demonstrate that rock music was serious art, meriting criticism.
When asked in 1969, why he decided to start Rolling Stone, Jann Wenner replied “so I could meet John Lennon.”

Jann Wenner

Lester Bangs, Richard Meltzer and Nick Tosches, were serious music critics, who were run out of Rolling Stone by Wenner and Jon Landau. [1]

Lester Bangs’ February 1972 Creem review of Chicago at Carnegie Hall:

“I like this album because it’s on Columbia. I trust them, I believe in their product, because Columbia is the General Motors of the record industry. They consistently come up with the best of everything: best logo, best lettering in artists’ names and album titles, best photography, best cardboard.”

Chicago at Carnegie Hall

Clive Davis, president of Columbia records “had Jann Wenner’s ear whenever he wanted it, which turned out to be often,” [2]
Davis had advanced Wenner $20,000 against future advertising in 1968, which saved Rolling Stone from bankruptcy.
Clive Davis would bail Wenner out again in 1970.

Clive Davis in his 1975 book, Inside the Record Business, “I always took it personally when the paper [Rolling Stone] made a snide comment about Columbia or took one of its artists to task, I occasionally wondered how they could accept consulting and advertising assistance from Columbia – and then poke fun at us, or say downright nasty things.”   [3]

Conflict over Rolling Stone’s direction developed between Wenner and managing editor John Burks, who disdained Wenner’s infatuation with celebrity.
Burks was a journalist, encouraging more political pieces on Vietnam, Kent State, etc.
He eventually resigned in 1971, under pressure from Wenner & his corporate paymasters.

John Burks

Jon Landau, one of the most powerful rock critics of the 1960’s, took over as reviews editor, just as its best writers were being jettisoned.
Landau debuted his new column Rock and Roll Music in the 3/4/71 issue.
The excerpt below is from Part 2 of his ‘history of rock writing’, published in the 4/1/71 issue:

“Three or four years ago, rock reviewing was less problematic than it is today. For one thing, you knew what to write about. The Byrds, the Animals, the Dead, the Airplane, and the Beach Boys were fit subjects for comment; Gerry and the Pacemakers, Dave Clark and Freddie and the Dreamers were not. The Beatles, the Stones, and Dylan were the first inductees to rock’s (as opposed to rock and roll’s) pantheon; after that, everyone bowed in the direction of San Francisco and underground British groups until the appearance of Led Zeppelin.

“Led Zeppelin forced a revival of the distinction between popularity and quality. As long as the bands most admired aesthetically were also the bands most successful commercially (Cream, for instance) the distinction was irrelevant. But Zeppelin’s enormous commercial success, in spite of critical opposition, revealed the deep division in what was once thought to be a homogeneous audience.

“That division has now evolved into a clearly defined mass taste and a clearly defined elitist taste.”

Then, only a few years later, as he’s declaring Bruce Springsteen the future of rock & roll:

“I listen to music with a certain measure of detachment. I’m a professional and I make my living commenting on it. There are months when I hate it, going through the routine just as a shoe salesman goes through his.”

Landau would eventually become Bruce Springsteen’s producer/manager in 1975 for Born to Run, and remains with “the Boss” up to the present.

Landau & Springsteen

Jann Wenner fired respected writer Greil Marcus in 1970 over a negative review of Bob Dylan’s disappointing Self Portrait, as Columbia execs pressured Wenner for a retraction, and more positive new review.
Wenner would often fire writers, then rewrite the more-positive review himself.
Greil Marcus returned to Rolling Stone in 1975, on the heels of his book discussing the origins of rock & roll titled Mystery Train, which was well-received and critically acclaimed by Wenner.
Rolling Stone is known for launching the writing careers of Hunter Thompson, Cameron Crowe and P.J. O’Rourke; all of whom (like Wenner) never revealed much insight beyond their own self-interest.


Aside: the recent forced retraction of a 9000-word expose’ published in the 11/19/14 issue, on the “rape culture” across America’s college campuses, is an example of the debasement of basic journalistic standards at Rolling Stone magazine, which trace back to its self-aggrandizing origins.
The author of the fictional gang rape was Sabrina Erdely, yet another Gen X feminist screaming her version of neo-liberal nonsense, which Rolling Stone has peddled to the college crowd since the late-1980’s. [4]

Sabrina Erdely: feminist fictional writer

Sabrina Erdely: feminist fictional writer


In 1977, Rolling Stone moved from San Francisco to New York.
Circulation dropped as Rolling Stone became increasingly perceived by kids as curmudgeonly & out-of-touch; responding slowly to (and even actively resisting) the emergence of punk, funk, reggae and disco.

Paul Nelson convinced Jann Wenner to hire Lester Bangs back in 1978, who contributed until he died from a drug overdose in 1982.

Nelson was the record reviews editor of Rolling Stone from 1978-83, often clashing with Jann Wenner over disco, punk & post-punk (all of which Wenner still despises); while championing the next generation of critics including Kurt Loder.

The first edition of the Rolling Stone Record Guide was published in 1979.
Rolling Stone was still a respected name brand, largely due to the efforts of dedicated luminaries such as: Lester Bangs, Nick Tosches, Richard Meltzer, Lenny Kaye. etc…
However, none of these writers contributed to the Rolling Stone Record Guide.

In charge was Dave Marsh, Rolling Stone record reviews editor since 1976.
Dave Marsh and co-editor John Swenson, seemingly had final say on the ratings & written contents of both the first & second editions of the guide.

Ties that Bind

Journey lead singer Steve Perry on Dave Marsh, “he’s an unusual little man who all too often thinks that his subjective opinions translate to inarguable fact.”

Below is the capsule for Black Sabbath, one of the worst (and most unfair) reviews in the 1983 edition– Ken Tucker disdains, while Dave Marsh rates every record one-star.

Black Sabbath Rolling Stone 1983

Here’s Greil Marcus on Paul Nelson’s forced departure in 1983:

“Paul saw people making or avoiding choices, striking out in one direction or holding back and fading into the crowd. He was sensitive to the risks and the degree of courage or nerve it takes to make a public choice, and to thus stand alone and stand exposed. I think this crucial verge is what he looked for, consciously or not, and what he was drawn to. In his writing, it provided a sense of how high the stakes in pop music could be. Paul was a maddeningly slow writer. He suffered writer’s block. I think this is because he respected his subjects so much he was terrified of getting anything wrong.”

Anthony DeCurtis filled Dave Marsh’s role after his departure in 1983, as the magazine consolidated its transition from counter-culture icon, into mainstream cash cow.

Rolling Stone first began assigning star ratings to records in 1981, a practice the magazine discontinued midway through 1985, then brought back in 1988– with half-star intervals.
By the 1980’s, Wenner demanded upbeat reviews (which could more accurately be called press releases) for major-label ‘star’ acts, even if their record was an obvious stiff.
No new album review could be less than 3-stars for artists like Tom Petty, John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen, Rolling Stones, Prince, Neil Young, Don Henley, Steve Winwood, Robert Plant, etc…
Wenner’s stable of hacks– David Fricke, Chuck Eddy, Anthony DeCurtis, etc… could seemingly manufacture a 4-star review for any artist, without even listening to the record.

1992 Rolling Stone back flap

Published in the wake of the ongoing musical eruptions in alternative/college/ hip-hop; the 1992 third edition (now the Rolling Stone Album Guide) was overseen by Anthony DeCurtis.
James Henke with Holly George-Warren are the co-editors.
A mere four [!] reviewers wrote every entry to the 1992 album guide–J.D. Considine, Mark Coleman, Paul Evans, and David McGee.
On the back flap, it claims to be, “the bible of popular music criticism…rock, pop, soul, rap, country, jazz, blues, folk, gospel–for every taste in popular music…”

In this edition, their misunderstanding of hip-hop becomes their new glaring weakness.
Old biases still remained for this tiny sample size of critics regarding funk, disco, punk and post-punk.  Led Zeppelin with the Rolling Stones, finally achieved immortality, along with the rest of classic rock.


In 1996, staff writer Jim DeRogatis was assigned to review the new Hootie & the Blowfish album Fairweather Johnson.
Legend has it, that he penned a one-star review, and Wenner killed it.
DeRogatis revealed this publicly, and Wenner countered by fired him, claiming the review was poorly written.
DeRogatis mused that while Wenner was not much of Hootie and the Blowfish fan, he definitely was “a fan of bands that sell eight and a half million copies,” which Cracked Rear View (1994) had done.
Wenner demanded a minimum three-star review, which DeRogatis was unwilling to provide.  [5]


Leonard Cohen addressed his critics in an interview with Paul Williams published in the March 1975 issue of Crawdaddy!:

I’m very, very interested also in the mind of the reviewers, how they change over the decades, and how a man approaches new work. Whether he approaches it in a spirit of curiosity, charity, interest, or as a vehicle for his own self-aggrandizement, his own career. Whether he uses it as an opportunity to display humanism, or cruelty. I mean to me, the critic is on trial at this point.”

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Cleveland OH

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is a sham, the creation of a group of industry people and critics who decide who they deem as qualified to be in their little admiration society–   Paul Stanley of KISS

The R&R HoF was created by the record moguls & Jann Wenner.
Wenner brought in foundation director Suzan Evans, editor Dave Marsh, along with attorney Allen Grubman, & record executives Seymour Stein, Bob Krasnow & Noreen Woods.
These are the people who have controlled the R&R HoF, from its outset.

The foundation was established in 1983, and its inaugural class was 1986.
There was no museum until construction was completed in Cleveland, OH in 1995.

The nominating committee has expanded to about 30 music critics, entertainment lawyers and recording executives– who determine the field each year.
Then a voting committee of around 500 people (including elected musical artists), ‘elect’ five new inductees.
Artists qualify for a spot, 25 years after their first recording.

Jon Landau, the chairman of the nominating committee, “We’ve done a good job of keeping the proceedings nontransparent. It all dies in the room.” [6]

This conveniently prevents any discussion of why influential genres such as punk, reggae, funk, disco, post-punk, rap, electronic, etc… have so few artists in the R&R HoF. [7]

Spin Alternative Guide (1995)

Critics need to be criticized & scrutinized– now more than ever.

This piece is a distillation of an exhaustive online critique: Rolling Stone’s 500 Worst Record Reviews. 

Online handle schmidtt has produced the most comprehensive & sensible history of popular music that I have ever read, covering its classic era from the mid-1960’s to 2012 (when this list was compiled).
It fairly balances (IMO) the major genres, while illuminating the darker business side, which control what you hear.
Well written, edited and linked– 5-stars!!


Rolling Stone’s mythic grip on rock culture needs to be pried loose.
Its monopoly on critical opinion has robbed several generations of listeners of amazing music.
Music genres that Rolling Stone systematically ignores, due to its elitist attitude and brand-name clout, have stunted the playlists of every commercial-music radio station (in the US and beyond), for nearly 50 years.

Today, Rolling Stone is seen by insiders as an appendage of the music industry machinery, which runs on payola and corporate sponsorship.
Popular music won’t become relevant again, until enough people understand what’s making it sick.
The will to heal & grow is only useful if the disease is first properly diagnosed.

Popular music is always defined by the kids. Institutions such as Rolling Stone have co-opted 40+ years of musical heritage (of which they know very little about), and kept it for themselves.  These charlatans have hijacked popular music, distorted it, and held it hostage– all in order to enrich itself; all-the-while marginalizing & strangling any musical forms that operate outside the industry box.

The Internet is the distribution channel of today and the future, and it is how new music is distributed & discovered.  Rolling Stone is the behemoth that has outlived its usefulness, but is not allowed to die.  It serves a valuable function as curator, opinion-maker and gatekeeper for past popular music.  When too many of their opinions become completely untenable, they simply revise their old ratings with a new Record Guide. Their last revision (fourth edition) was published in 2004; now they revise their past ratings & reviews online.


Music is many things, entertainment and art among them.  Elitist critics who compare works of art in any field, in order to determine which one is “better,” are being silly & pedantic. They become dangerous when they are given credibility.

Music as entertainment should be fairly judged: good, mediocre or bad, for aesthetic reasons.

Music as art doesn’t need to be rated, as much as it needs to be heard.

Punk #2


Memorial Day & Modern Wars

Why did the US military invade Iraq in 2003?

The official version was that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).
By 2005, US president George W. Bush was forced to publicly admit there were no (and never were) WMDs in Iraq; claiming it had been an “intelligence error.” [1]
Troop levels were still maintained.

Jeb Bush (G. W. Bush’s younger brother) is now a contender for the Republican party nomination in 2016.
He recently admitted publicly that he (any any other politician [!]) still would have invaded Iraq without WMDs. [2]
Obviously there is a different motivation for these ongoing wars in Iraq & the Middle East, than what has been presented publicly.

Scramble for Oil

Oil is the most valuable natural-resource commodity in the modern world.
As far as economic importance goes, oil surpassed cotton in the late 19th century as the driver of global capitalism.
Today, nearly all the products we consume for daily living rely on petroleum for extraction, refining, production, and transportation to market.

Whoever controls the world’s oil supply, controls this all-important lever of the world economy.
Since the end of World War 2, Washington has established a permanent garrison in the Middle East for this purpose.

US & Israeli Militarism

Israel was created by the United Nations (itself a tool for US imperialism), from 1947-49, for the stated purpose of avoiding another Holocaust; and in doing so, they created another humanitarian crisis.
According to UN figures, 726,000 Palestinians fled or were forcibly evicted by the Israeli military from 1947-49. [3]

Disappearing Palestine

Why is the US military still in Iraq?

Scramble for Oil 2

The acronym ISIS stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
ISIS evolved into a regional a power directly as a result of US support for Sunni Islamist proxy armies in its dirty wars for regime change in both Libya and Syria.
ISIS is often referred to as ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) in the media, in order to confuse the US population as to its origins.

US military presence in Iraq is about to increase again. [4]
In spite of all the government/media lies defending militarism, here’s the latest Gallup poll from June 2014:

Do you think the United States made a mistake sending troops to Iraq?
57% Yes
39% No
3%  Undecided [5]

Controlling the world’s oil reserves is a US strategic objective, even as its risks a potential conflict with nuclear powers Russia and China.

Benjamin Netanyahu & Barack Obama


Militarism in the modern-day Middle East is never discussed by the media in the context of global warming.

Of course, the Earth is already in the grip of global warming, which is caused by excessive carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel consumption; so as a species, homo sapiens need to be cutting back on fossil fuel use.
Instead, we have a non-stop US government & corporate media campaign of lies, in order to hide the real issues from working people.

Gas, coal & nuclear are the only ‘serious’ alternatives promoted.

The cleanest and most-democratic form of energy production is solar, which has been mothballed & kept artificially expensive– in acquiescence to the oil, gas, coal, and nuclear giants.

Global Warming Denialist

In the final analysis, this is the ‘freedom’ for which all US soldiers (along with countless others), have sacrificed.
This unnecessary waste of human lives & our planet, will only end when working people everywhere organize themselves, with the purpose of carrying our a socialist revolution in permanence, in order to end the destructive conflicts of capitalism.

Rising Tide


Orlando Tragic Basketball: 1989-Present

Preamble: A man goes to a pro-league game to watch a professional sporting event.  By half-time, he’s vexed with a headache from exploding scoreboards, cheerleaders, endless promotions and loud music– all during the game.  He seeks the team’s general manager to express his preference for a game, without circuses.  The GM (yet another Bill Veeck disciple) replies, “You’re what we call a purist, there aren’t very many of you.”


Pat Williams: Squeaky Clean Frontman, February 4 1999

Pat Williams came to Orlando in 1986, at the behest of local businessman Jimmy Hewitt.
His job was to bring a NBA franchise to Orlando, and he did so by convincing 14,176 metro sports fans to reserve season tickets for a team that didn’t yet exist.
This gave Orlando the highest total of any city vying for a NBA franchise at the time, and on April 22, 1987 they were granted one to begin play in 1989-90. [1]

Pat Williams was the GM in Philadelphia from 1974-86, helping build a team that won the 1982-83 NBA championship.
Williams engineered trades for Hall-of-Famers: Julius Erving and Moses Malone, while drafting All-Star performers Maurice Cheeks and Andrew Toney.
He finally became frustrated with the 76ers mismanagement, and despite having a young Charles Barkley, he left for Orlando in June 1986.

John Gabriel, who began in public relations in 1983 with the 76ers, was Williams’ first hire.
Together these two created the image for the Orlando Magic; from their mascot name (which Disney approved), logos & colors, down to basketball personnel & staff.  [2]
It was first Pat Williams (before being put out to pasture around 1996), then John Gabriel who called the shots for the Orlando Magic, until Gabriel was fired in 2004.

Rich DeVos & family finalized the purchase of the Orlando Magic on Sept. 19, 1991 for $85 million, and have been the owners ever since.
DeVos made his fortune in Amway, a multi-level marketing (MLM) pyramid scheme founded in 1959, whose financial success has made his family one of the wealthiest in the world.

A shadowy figure throughout Orlando Magic franchise history is Alex Martins.
He began his career with the Magic in 1989, as PR director.
Martins has multiple business degrees, and has never played nor coached  college/professional basketball.

In 2006 he was promoted to COO of the Magic, a position he has held up to this writing.
Martins forever won the favor of DeVos, by finally arm-twisting the city of Orlando into a new publicly-funded $500 million sports arena, which opened in 2010, as the Amway Center.

Alex Martins: Orlando Magic CEO

The original Orlando arena, colloquially known as the “O-Rena,” opened in 1989 and served as home for the Magic until the 2010-11 season.
In 1999, TD Waterhouse purchased the naming rights, and renamed the venue the TD Waterhouse Centre.
In 2006, DeVos bought the naming rights, and changed it to the Amway Arena.

The Magic made Orlando a NBA city, following an expansion fee of $32.5 million.
Williams hired Matt Guokas (76ers) as head coach and assistant GM, who helped him & Gabriel select twelve players in the NBA Expansion Draft on June 15, 1989.
In the 1989 NBA Draft; Guokas, Williams & Gabriel chose Nick Anderson (Illinois, 11th overall), the first pick for the Magic franchise.

The inaugural team included Reggie Theus, Scott Skiles, Terry Catledge, Sam Vincent and Otis Smith; finishing 18–64.
Most importantly, they sold out all their home games.

In their second (1990) NBA draft, the Orlando Magic nabbed Dennis Scott (Ga. Tech) with the 4th overall pick.

The 1991 draft was a disaster, as they blew both 1st round picks on stiff/overweight centers (#10 Bison Dele [Arizona] and #23 Stanley Roberts [LSU]).

The Magic’s fortunes forever changed on May 17, 1992, when the franchise won the first pick in the 1992 NBA Draft Lottery.
Shaquille O’Neal (LSU) was the consensus #1 pick; a 7-1, 300-pound (in his salad days) ultra-athletic freak, who had just turned age 20.

Even with Shaquille O’Neal’s presence, the Magic just missed the 1993 NBA Playoffs.
For this they received the slimmest chance of gaining the top draft pick, with only one ping-pong ball in the lottery hopper.
Miraculously, the Magic again won the first pick and selected the correct player–Chris Webber (Michigan), whom they immediately traded to Golden State for the #3 overall pick– Anfernee Hardaway (Memphis St.), and three future #1 picks [in 1996, 1998 and 2000].

Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway was an All-Star shooting guard for the Magic, until he sustained a left knee injury early in the 1997-98 NBA season.
Orlando Magic team doctors carelessly allowed Hardaway to return to the court early, largely in an effort to play in the upcoming All-Star game.
In the process, he re-injured his knee, and ended up requiring more surgery.
He missed the remainder of that season, was never the same player again.

Nike_lil Penny

In 1993-94 with Shaq & Penny, along with new head coach Brian Hill, the Magic finished 50-32: but were swept by the Indiana Pacers 3-0 in the 1st round.

In the off-season, Orlando made a free agent splash, by signing power forward Horace Grant from the Chicago Bulls.
Grant’s production numbers in five seasons with the Orlando Magic (12 pts/ 8 rebs), had value.
Unfortunately Horace Grant’s contract was an overpay, which handcuffed the organization down the road.

1994-95     Orlando Magic     $2,125,000
1995-96     Orlando Magic     $2,763,000
1996-97     Orlando Magic     $14,857,000
1997-98     Orlando Magic     $14,285,714
1998-99     Orlando Magic     $7,843,000

Note: None of this was Horace Grant’s fault, as any NBA player offered an outrageously generous contract, happily signs it.

Horace & Shaq

In 1994-95 Orlando went 57-25, making it all the way to the NBA Finals.
It was a season to be envied; as Shaq, Penny, Nick Anderson, Dennis Scott & Horace Grant were the darlings of the league.
Coached by Brian Hill, they ruined Michael Jordan’s early comeback attempt, and by June were picked by many experts to win it.
“Why not now?” became the organizational mantra. [3]

That question was definitively answered when they collapsed to the resilient & savvy Houston Rockets (47-35 during the season); allowing themselves to be swept 4-0.
Nick Anderson’s four free-throw misses, late in Game 1 are always pointed to as a focal point for the Magic meltdown.
A look at the stats from the series reveals that the Houston Rockets were simply better; with Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and Robert Horry completely outplaying O’Neal, Hardaway, and Grant. [4]

Things looked bright early in 1995-96, as the Magic went a franchise best 60-22 in the regular season; but soured quickly in the Eastern Conference Finals when they were once again swept away, this time by the Chicago Bulls 4-0.
After this humiliation/realization, Shaquille O’Neal announced he was leaving Orlando to sign as a free agent with the LA Lakers.
This was announced as the Summer Olympics were being held in Atlanta, with Shaq as a member of the second Dream Team; one of his teammates was Penny.

With Shaq gone, the Magic were considered Hardaway’s team.
Penny took charge by leading a player’s revolt that ousted head coach Brian Hill.
In an organizational low-point (and that’s saying a lot for the Magic), Brian Hill was interviewed live on NBC, immediately after a dismal loss in Chicago on Sunday, February 16, 1997.
The reporter ambushed Hill point blank, asking if he had any comment about the rumor he’s about to be fired.
Hill was stunned, replying he had no knowledge or comment, before exiting up the tunnel. Peter Vecsey broke the story, and stood by it as a studio guest, after the Hill interview.
The Magic organization had no comment on any of this, until Brian Hill was fired the next evening, after the Magic lost in Charlotte.

Next season, Hardaway suffered the left knee injury, that ended up arthritic.
He was traded to the Phoenix Suns in the summer of 1999 for: Danny Manning, Pat Garrity, and two future first round-draft picks (2001 & 2002).

Both Penny Hardaway deals are instructive examples of wanton wastefulness, and deserve examination:

The 2001 pick (#18 overall) was included as part of a deal to clear cap room, and became Jason Collins (Stanford) picked by the Houston Rockets.
The Magic gave the 2002 pick back to Phoenix on November 16, 2001, as part of a 3-team trade, the Magic received Jud Buechler.
Phoenix used this pick to select Amar’e Stoudemire (Cypress Creek HS, Orlando [!]), with the #9 overall pick in the 2002 NBA draft.

The Orlando Magic also received three #1 picks with Penny Hardaway, in exchange for Chris Webber in 1993; here’s how they turned out:

The 1996 #1 pick ended up being traded back to Golden State, who selected Todd Fuller (NC St.) with the #11 pick overall.
In exchange for it, the Magic got a 1st round pick in 1998, which became Keon Clark–  (UNLV, 13th overall), picked by the Magic.
Keon Clark was immediately traded to the Denver Nuggets for a 2000 1st round pick, which became Keyon Dooling (Missouri)– selected #10 overall by the Magic.
Dooling was immediately traded (along with Corey Maggette, Derek Strong and cash), to the Los Angeles Clippers– for a 2006 1st round draft pick.
This pick was then traded in 2002, to the Denver Nuggets– for a 2004 2nd round draft pick.
February 19, 2003: the Orlando Magic trade this pick (along with Ryan Humphrey, Mike Miller and a 2003 1st round draft pick (#27 pick overall–Kendrick Perkins was selected); to the Memphis Grizzlies for Gordan Giricek and Drew Gooden.

The 1998 #1 pick ended up being traded back to Golden State, who selected Vince Carter (North Carolina) with the #5 overall pick.
The 2000 #1 pick ended up being used by Orlando to take Mike Miller (Florida– 5th overall), who became the 2000-01 NBA Rookie of the Year for the Magic.

Darrell Armstrong_Flash

Doc Rivers took over the Magic, after Chuck Daley retired as head coach in 1999.
Darrell Armstrong had emerged as their best young player, and Doc Rivers was the perfect guy to coach him up.
Armstrong won the NBA 6th Man of the Year Award and the NBA Most Improved Player Award in 1999, becoming the first player to win both awards simultaneously.

The 1999-2000 Orlando Magic are known forever as the Heart & Hustle team.
They went 41-41, just missing the playoffs.
Their roster was full of young players and cast-offs who never quit, including: Ben Wallace, Bo Outlaw, John Amaechi, Chucky Atkins, Corey Maggette, and Matt Harpring.
Doc Rivers was named Coach of the Year, the first (and only) time the award went to a coach, whose team failed to qualify for the playoffs.

Doc Rivers and Darrell Armstrong Heart and Hustle

John Gabriel had been the GM in charge of the Magic, ever since Pat Williams was retired and kicked upstairs in the mid-1990’s.
The Penny Hardaway trade illustrations, discussed above were part of his master plan to clear salary cap room, in order to sign two top-tier free agents in the 2000 off-season.
The top prize was Tim Duncan, as the Orlando Magic went all out to bring him to central Florida.
They had already signed shooting guard Tracy McGrady, from the Toronto Raptors; and were convinced they needed Duncan as their big man.

Duncan ended up staying with the Spurs, and Plan B for Gabriel was Tracy McGrady & small forward, Grant Hill.

Background: on April 15, 2000, Grant Hill (playing for Detroit) sprained his left ankle in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers.
He continued to play until the first round playoff series against Miami.
The injury worsened, and Hill was forced to leave halfway through Game 2.
The Heat swept the Pistons 3–0.

Grant Hill was initially selected for the 2000 Olympics team, but could not play due to the ankle injury.
Hill was still in a cast & crutches when the Orlando Magic inked him to a 7-year, $94 million guaranteed contract; obtained in a sign & trade with Detroit.
The Orlando Magic traded Ben Wallace & Chucky Atkins to Detroit, for the rights to a crippled Grant Hill– at maximum money.
Ben Wallace’s monster defense & rebounding were invaluable in helping the Detroit Pistons win the NBA championship in 2003-04.

Sensational Tracy McGrady and Crippled Grant Hill Signed

Grant Hill never played a full season for the Magic, as team doctors and officials kept rushing him back onto the court, only to have him re-injure himself.
In March 2003, Hill underwent a major surgical procedure in which doctors re-fractured his ankle and realigned it with his leg bone.
Five days after the surgery, Hill developed a 104.5 °F fever with convulsions, requiring him to be rushed to the hospital.
Doctors removed the splint around his ankle and discovered a nasty MRSA infection.
He was hospitalized in serious condition for a week, and on intravenous antibiotics for six months.
This is a fair illustration of the medical care Grant Hill received as a member of the Orlando Magic. [5]

When Hill’s contract expired, he signed with Phoenix: playing in 70, 82, 81 and 80 games, in his first four seasons.

By the 2003-04 season, Gabriel’s plan had completely busted, as the Magic went 21-61; worst in the league.
John Gabriel was fired, along with Doc Rivers.

Gabriel eventually returned to the NBA as an executive and scout with the NY Knicks; he has now been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Doc Rivers won a NBA title as head coach of the 2007-08 Boston Celtics, and currently is head coach of the LA Clippers.

John Weisbrod was named the new GM.
“Who the hell is John Weisbrod?” was the question everyone asked around the NBA.
It was a difficult question to answer seriously, as Weisbrod had an extended track record of successful scouting– in hockey.
As far as anyone could tell, he had never managed any basketball team before, at any level.

More background: the Orlando Solar Bears were owned by the DeVos family, and began IHL play in 1995.
They were successful until the league folded in 2001, winning the IHL’s final Turner Cup, its championship trophy.
When the IHL disbanded, DeVos promoted Weisbrod into the Magic organization, in an administrative position.
Weisbrod was promoted to GM of the Magic, after Gabriel was fired during the disastrous 2003–2004 season.

Again the Magic were beneficiaries of amazingly good fortune as they landed the #1 pick in the draft again!!– just as consensus blue-chipper Dwight Howard declared his eligibility (Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, #1 overall).
Anderson Varejao (Brazil) was also drafted by the Orlando Magic, in the 2nd round (30th pick) of the 2004 draft.
This is notable, because it is the only player of substance the Magic have ever drafted beyond the 1st round.
Varejao was, of course, immediately shipped to the Cleveland Cavaliers (with Drew Gooden and Steven Hunter); for Tony Battie and more future draft picks to fritter away.

GM John Weisbrod fired Doc Rivers early into the 2003-04 season, and promoted Johnny Davis to interim head coach; the temporary label was removed as he was declared head coach for 2004-05.
Until with only 18 games left in the miserable 2004–2005 campaign, Weisbrod fired Davis, and named assistant-coach Chris Jent interim head coach.

Weisbrod also clumsily mishandled superstar Tracy McGrady, who was developing serious back problems, from carrying too much of the load for the Magic.  He had quietly asked to be traded, then was jerked around by management, until a whirlwind 7-player deal sent McGrady, Juwan Howard, and Tyronn Lue to the Houston Rockets; for which the Magic received volatile point guard Stevie (lighten up) Francis, along with fungibles Cuttino Mobley and Kelvin Cato.

On May 23, 2005, Weisbrod resigned from his position of General Manager and Chief Operating Officer of the Orlando Magic, under intense fan & media scrutiny.
He has since worked exclusively in the NHL; with the Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks.

Otis Smith: Orlando Magic Player and GM

Otis Smith played for the Magic from 1989-92, then became their Director of Community Relations from 1996–1998, before heading to Golden State for a better management position.
Smith returned to the Magic, spending two years as Director of Player Development, before being promoted to co-General Manager for 2005-2006 season.
Otis Smith was then named GM of the Orlando Magic on May 3, 2006, finally officially replacing Weisbrod.

Meanwhile, someone in the Magic organization had rehired Brian Hill, who coached them to a 36–46 record in 2005–2006.
In May 2007, multiple media sources reported that Hill would not return to coach the Orlando Magic in 2007-08.
Later, it was reported he had been fired by GM Otis Smith.

Otis Smith’s first selection in the 2005 NBA draft was Fran Vazquez  (Spain–C, 6-10, 240 lbs)– #11 pick overall.
Vazquez quickly & definitively decided to stay in Spain, never playing in the NBA– the Magic still retain his rights.
It is still unclear as to whether anyone in the Orlando Magic front office ever bothered to speak with Vazquez before selecting him.
These are his stats in Europe through age 32, look them over and tell me what that selection was about? [6]

Here is a link to the entire Orlando Magic draft history. [7]
Outside of the early GM Pat Williams/Matt Guokas picks, and obvious #1 overall selections, it appears this organization rarely does any homework.
Year after year its usually wasted picks, as this organization lacks basketball brains at the top.
Examine their media guide for proof, as nearly every executive has a degree in business/marketing, with little-to-no basketball background. [8]

Franchises such as the Miami Heat, LA Lakers & Indiana Pacers retain hoops brains like Pat Riley, Jerry West & Larry Bird.
When Pat Williams gets too old, the Orlando Magic bring in figurines like Julius Erving & Patrick Ewing, who may have been great players, but lack an eye for talent and skills in player development.
Their roles are strictly PR, with nebulous VP titles and no real organizational influence.
Ever since Doc Rivers was pink-slipped, the Magic have developed very few championship-level NBA players.
They are, in many ways, the NBA’s managerial opposite of the San Antonio Spurs.

Billy Donovan Magic

After Brian Hill was released/fired for the second time, the Magic signed UF head basketball coach Billy Donovan.
Shortly after the announcement, Donovan changed his mind about the five-year, $27.5 million deal, and expressed his desire to return to the University of Florida. [9]
After a week of haggling, on June 5, 2007 the Magic finally released Donovan; and offered another contract to Stan Van Gundy, whom had been their original choice.
The Miami Heat allowed Van Gundy to leave to coach the Magic, in exchange for draft picks and cash.

Side-note: Billy Donovan was made to sign a five-year NBA no-compete contract with the Magic, keeping him at UF. Donovan recently signed a deal to coach the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The most success the Magic ever found, was the 2008–09 season, when the Magic won 59 games under Stan Van Gundy.
Howard was an All-NBA player by then, and a beast in the 2009 playoffs; besting the Eastern Conference favorite Cleveland Cavaliers, led by LeBron James.
The Magic advanced to the NBA Finals, but lost several tight games, failing to execute late; and they were defeated by the Los Angeles Lakers 4-1.
Orlando hasn’t seriously competed for a title since.

On May 21, 2012, Van Gundy was fired (along with GM Otis Smith), despite coaching his team to the playoffs in all five seasons.
Prior to the firing, Van Gundy had stated he had knowledge that Dwight Howard wanted him fired; that somebody from management had told him so; and that the team did not want to risk alienating Dwight Howard, who was their star player– able to opt out of his contract the following season. [10]
This whole saga is still referred to in Orlando as Dwightmare. [11]

Rich DeVos and Dwight Howard

Bob Vander Weide joined the Magic in 1992 as vice president of basketball operations.
He served as president for 16 years before being named CEO in July 2010, on the strength of his marriage to Cheri DeVos.
He was dismissed from the organization in the wake of; 1) her filing for divorce in 2012, and; 2) his drunk-calling Dwight Howard in the middle of the night, trying to persuade him to stay in Orlando.
Bob Vander Weide’s thoughts on the prospect of losing Dwight Howard (and how it compared to losing Shaq) were, “It’s a taxing process, but you learn from each one.” [12]

The reasons for Dwight Howard’s departure after 8 seasons in Orlando boil down to organizational incompetence & poor drafting, as J.J Redick (Duke #11 overall in 2006) was the only pick after 2004, that ever helped the Magic win.
Their inability to build a championship team around Howard, is perfectly illustrated in the Rashard Lewis signing, and then his trade.

July 11, 2007: Rashard Lewis was signed & traded by the Seattle SuperSonics to the Orlando Magic, here’s the contract:

2007-08     Orlando Magic          $14,880,000
2008-09     Orlando Magic          $16,447,871
2009-10     Orlando Magic          $18,876,000
2010-11     Washington Wizards      $19,573,711
2011-12     Washington Wizards      $21,136,631
2012-13     New Orleans Hornets     $13,700,000

Rashard Lewis was a 3/4 tweener, who could shoot; but didn’t rebound or help much defensively.
That’s neither a guy you give max money to, nor a championship player.
Those details never bother Orlando Magic management.

Lewis became untradable, until he was traded for another, even more untradable player– Gilbert Arenas in 2010:

On December 18, 2010 Rashard Lewis was traded by the Orlando Magic to the Washington Wizards for Gilbert Arenas, who could no longer play– due to knee injuries.
This was the money Arenas was owed at the time of the trade:

2010-11     Orlando Magic     NBA     $17,730,694
2011-12     Orlando Magic     NBA     $19,269,307
2012-13     Orlando Magic     NBA     $20,807,922

Arenas signed a six-year, $111 million contract in 2008 with the Wizards.
He was later suspended 50 games by the NBA, for bringing guns into the locker room.

On December 9, 2011, Arenas was waived by the Orlando Magic under the amnesty clause.
His salary was no longer counted against the cap, but the Magic still had to pay Arenas over $58 million.
Incredibly, they’re still paying him through 2016, even though he hasn’t played in the NBA since 2012. [13]

GM Otis Smith in 2006, “We’re building around a group of young guys in Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, Darko Milicic and Travis Diener.” [14]
No wonder Dwight Howard finally bolted.

On August 10, 2012, Dwight Howard was dealt to the LA Lakers, as the centerpiece of a 4-team trade.


Prior to Downtown Master Plan 3, DeVos and son-in-law Bob Vander Weide, had been pressing the city of Orlando for a new arena for over a decade.
The Amway arena was built in 1989, prior to digital technology & advanced entertainment arenas.
It quickly became derided as antiquated, with too few luxury boxes, too far from the court.
That hurt revenue streams, and made it a difficult for rich people to be seen prominently at Orlando Magic games.  [15]

On September 29, 2006, after years of backroom negotiations, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Richard Crotty, and the Orlando Magic announced an agreement on a new arena in downtown Orlando.

The Amway Center broke ground on July 25, 2008.
It opened on October 1, 2010.
The construction cost was $480 million.
On April 3, 2010 it was reported that Fitch Rating Agency had downgraded the bonds used to finance the new arena to “junk” status.

Rob Hennigan was made GM of the Orlando Magic in 2012, replacing Otis Smith.
Hired at age 30, and still the youngest GM in the NBA [16], Hennigan just signed an extension through the 2017-18 season.

Orlando Magic head coaches since 2012:

Jacque Vaughn (2012–2015)   W/L 58-158
James Borrego (2015 interim)  W/L 10-20

As of this publication, the Orlando Magic list their head coaching position as vacant.

Update: Scott Skiles was announced as the new Magic head coach on 5-29-15.  [17]

Orlando Magic franchise totals:

Seasons: 26; 1989-2015
Record: 1027-1057  (W-L% .493)
Play-off Appearances: 14
Championships: 0

Television Broadcasting:
Jack “Goose” Givens was the Orlando Magic television color commentator for Sun Sports and the FS Florida cable stations, from 1989-2004.
Givens was relieved of his position in 2004, over allegations of him molesting a 14-year old girl. [18]
He was acquitted of the charges, but was never offered another job with any organization.
He was replaced with Matt Guokas, then Jeff Turner.

Chip Carey & “Goose” Givens were originally paired from inception through 1997-98.
In 1998, Carey took his shtick to TBS (and FOX), to do play-by-play for the Atlanta Braves, with his father Skip.

David Steele took over the mic in 1998-99 (he did the Magic radio broadcast 1989-98), and is still one of the best NBA play-by-play announcers.
Steele has great respect for, and knowledge of the game; and is silky smooth in his call of the action.
He is one of the best assets this organization has, and Magic fans have been fortunate to have him on the air all these years.

David Steele: Voice of the Magic

Overall, the Orlando Magic are easily one of the worst (if not the worst) organizations is American sports,  No one has done less with more than the Magic in their short existence.  They are eerily similar to the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL, who will never win a Super Bowl, due to deep organization flaws and lack of understanding of what it takes to win. The Magic keeping hoping for more luck, instead of reflecting on & learning from, the boundless opportunities they’ve squandered over their 26-year existence. [19]

The Orlando Magic are owned by a Ponzi scheme billionaire, who understands nothing about building real value.  His modus operandi is: if there are no immediate results or quick returns, then blame whomever is convenient; discard them and start anew.  Right now, the Orlando Magic are as far from winning a championship as a franchise can get.

Rich DeVos: Orlando Tragic Owner

This is why star players leave Orlando, repeatedly. It’s also why free agents are no longer dazzled.  The fan base is constantly being dumbed-down by the insipid journalism of the Orlando Sentinel.  Michael A. Bianchi & the rest have been covering the Magic for decades, never producing any insight on the striking maladies of this franchise.  There is never any reflection on past history or mistakes, and therefore never any understanding leading to diagnosis of the problem.  Instead of fact-checking, hard questions, and intelligent analysis; fans & readers get pandered to, with half-baked recommendations and useless speculation. [20]

It speaks volumes that with all this history, no Orlando Magic player has had their number retired.  The only retired number is 6– for the fans as the “6th Man.”   Very little of the players’ sacrifices seem to be appreciated by those running the Magic.  Nick Anderson, Shaquille O’Neal, Darrell Armstrong, Tracy McGrady, and Dwight Howard all deserve to be recognized & honored.  That’s the short list.  It won’t happen with the Orlando Magic under DeVos, as they are the very definition of a bush-league franchise, proving you just can’t buy respect.

Pyramid Scheme: Amway


Taipan! (1982): Gameplay Basics & Tips

Taipan! (1982) is a computer turn-playing game, created by Art Canfil.  It was originally playable on the Apple II and TRS-80 (Radio Shack).  It is a game that tests leadership skills & resource management, with life-like perils & opportunities mixed in.   As in the real world it is important in Taipan! to distinguish between the two, as good risks (as well as fatal traps) are often hidden or presented as their opposite.

Taipan! Emulator High Score

A single player is the captain of a ship, which can transport goods to seven different Oriental ports.  The captain also controls a warehouse in the home port of Hong Kong, which allows for 10,000 units of commodity storage.

There are four moneymaking commodities available for buy & sell at each port (values in parenthesis): general (1’s), arms (10’s), silk (100’s), and opium (1000’s).  Their values fluctuate within a normal range of 5-25, with 12 being each commodity’s average.  There are occasional instances of wildly high/low commodity prices, offering opportunities to make a killing or speculate at a bargain.

Commodities can be carried by the ship to any of the seven ports, for sale & purchase.  Opium is illegal, and therefore can be seized by the port authorities. No other tradable commodity can be seized. The amount carriable is limited by ship size, minus the number of cannons.  Each cannon takes up 10 units of ship’s hold.  The first ship’s hold is 60, and always increases by 60 when buying a new ship.

The warehouse is the primary money maker, with a capacity nearly three orders of magnitude greater than the ship.  It’s weakness is its vulnerability to theft, so quick turn-arounds are preferred.  When dealing with warehouse units under 10,000; cover all primary commodities [opium & silk], with arms or general, to hedge against theft.

Example:  You have $15,500,000 in total cash, and an opportunity to buy opium at $6,000 apiece for your warehouse. It’s an offer you can’t refuse, but you’re concerned about the possibility of theft cutting into your hard-earned stake. What’s the correct move?

Answer:  Buy 2,500 opium for the warehouse (cost $15 million), and insure it by purchasing 7,500 arms or general– whichever is the better deal.  Buying 7,500 general at $25 each (it’s highest typical cost) is still only $187,500, which equals 31.25 units of opium at $6,000 each.  If you are hit with theft, the relatively worthless 7,500 general will take the biggest hit, instead of your precious 2,500 opium.

Taipan! First Move

Hong Kong is also unique in that it features a bank and money lender, along with a shipyard for repairs— services no other port offers.  The bank allows for unlimited cash deposits and withdrawals, and pays an interest rate of 0.5% per turn– measured in months.

The money lender is the game’s Black Hand.  This is the mafia you must pay-off for protection; otherwise he sends his ferocious pirates, and you become a Galley Hand who sleeps with the fishes.

You can borrow money from him, which can be useful if a golden opportunity presents itself.  Money lender interest rates are brutal, so borrow only manageable amounts.  Avoid leveraging to fill the warehouse (unless opium drops to $5,000 per unit or lower), as theft & money-lender interest will tend to eat most of the profits.

You can borrow up to twice your available cash on hand.  Start each game (No cannons, $400 cash & $5000 debt), by borrowing $800 from the money lender.  This starts you with $1200 cash and $5,800 debt; a much better cash/debt ratio.  The money lending bug must remain disabled, otherwise the game of Taipan! becomes unbalanced, and no longer a test of management skill.

If you start with 5 cannons & no cash (the easier game option); you are looking to clobber a band of pirates and grab some booty. Once you’ve acquired the cash, go to Hong Kong and borrow from the money lender to jump-start trading.

On the high seas, your ship can (and will) be attacked by pirates.  It is advisable to never carry more than $200,000-$300,000 in cash, as larger amounts make you a screaming target for robbery while in port.  Carrying excessive cargo (especially opium) after the first $10-$20 million has been banked, invites larger-scale pirate attacks and opium seizures with fines. This could prevent purchasing a cannon, or even worse, a new ship when most needed.  It’s called ‘Bad Joss‘ and a minimal level is unavoidable, but this game routinely punishes those who are careless & sloppy.

You must pay Li Yuen whatever he asks, until you have at least 40+ cannons; otherwise the Black Hand will send 48 nasty pirates–eventually in consecutive waves.  When you are summoned for a ‘donation,’ go immediately.  If you already have ship damage and fear a large-fleet (30+ pirates) assault, sell all cargo (even at a loss), so you can run faster if necessary.  Dumping means you waited too late.

Never have the ship’s carrying hold bigger than 80 or 90; and understand that 30-50 is ideal.  A bigger ship is a bigger target for enemy guns; it also evades more slowly.

Make the big money from warehouse deals; then later in interest earnings from the bank.  Notice the interest banked per turn when your deposits are over $200 million, and realize how real money is made.

This is an emulator screen shot of a well-played game, with fair luck:

Fast Ma Tsu

By the time you reach the rank of Taipan, life on the seas becomes all about evading trouble & finding cannons–and a new ship, as needed.  Cannons are always snatched up until the hold is near-full, or even completely full.  A new ship simply means room for more cannons, not a bigger cargo hold.  Cannons are the game’s most precious resource, as they are the only route to invincibility & peace of mind.

Until then, you the captain must learn when to run, and when to fight to the death. This is part calculated risk, and part art form; a blend of fighting nerve, savvy & leadership skills.  Eventually Li Yuen turns his fleet of pirates loose, and you must be able to defend yourself.  You can’t outrun 40+ pirates.  When your ship has 45+ cannons, any 48-pirate attack [the maximum number] can be wiped out, while sustaining no more than 25% damage.  Always make contingencies for storm damage, by getting to Hong Kong ASAP for repairs at 50% health or lower.

When the solicited ‘donations’ get to be astronomical, retiring is often the best game option.  Even though you are invincible, their constant harassment makes it impossible to do business.

In summary, Taipan! is a classic computer game from the 1980’s, a great tool for developing leadership, management and life skills.  It capsulizes & mimics many of the challenges people must deal with under capitalism on the path to success including: courage, recognizing opportunities, and risk management.  All of this is weaved into an easily learnable & addicting classic computer game.

Play Taipan!  here online

Fatal Mistakes in Taipan!

1) Being cheap and/or too greedy

2) Running when you should fight

3) Not maintaining full health of the ship

4) Going out when you should retire

5) Getting too big in the hold

6) Not respecting the Black Hand

Ma Tzu: Chinese Sea Goddess Photo by: Dli184

Ma Tzu: Chinese Sea Goddess
Photo by: Dli184 in Taiwan