Links: Of Detroit, Eibenstock, and Hoffenheim. Of Musicians and Bears.

Look at your favourite team's stadium, and it's likely that you'll find a building paid for by the inhabitants of its neighbours. And yet, in cities that can't afford the bankrupt teams they're hosting or are bankrupt, themselves, people are convinced or threatened into believing that their cities need to help pay for facilities from which only billionaires will profit. As Aaron Gordon illustrates, while new arenas and stadiums are built to pacify the owners of sports teams, the problems of the common people are ignored. Citizens of cities like Chester and Detroit, and counties such as Hamilton County, are expected by the state to carry a large portion of the burden, despite the latter's inability to support the former, whether economically or socially.

There is nevertheless a perceived benefit (on the part of the former) to subsidising privately-owned facilities, however, in job creation and growth of the local economy. Is this economic benefit worth reducing education, police, and firefighting budgets? Economists argue that it's not, since most of the created jobs are "either temporary, low-paying, or out-of-state contracting jobs". Neither does a city like Chester benefit, when, after a game, "everyone makes their way to the highway that spans the bridge, not spending a dime" in the city.

Rather than continue to blather on, I suggest you read Gordon's article, and check out Neil deMause's excellent blog on stadium funding if you're further interested in this "$2 billion a year" matter.


Meanwhile, in Eibenstock, police encountered a BMW convertible that had been converted into a moving swimming pool, when a motorcycle cop noticed water spilling out of it as it rounded a corner. Filled with around 2,000 litres of water, the sealed pool was decked with wooden panels and railings, and decorated with (presumably plastic) flowers, allowing for a driver, two submerged passengers, and a third one, whom the officer found "sitting on the trunk, dipping his feet" in the water.

Interestingly, whether this vehicle is even illegal remains debatable amongst police experts, as Spiegel Online asks, "Is it illegal to drive a swimming pool?" Possible charges presently concern driving without insurance and under the influence of alcohol.


Staying in Germany, and returning to Pacific Standard, Brian Blickenstaff chronicles his experience with the recent phenomenon of Bundesliga fans not concentrating their collective hatred on the monolithic Bayern München, but a team hailing from a village of 3,272. Just 13 years ago, 1899 Hoffenheim was a team playing in the fifth division, but in the following eight years, it managed to ascend to the highest tier in German soccer. The team is, for all intents and purposes, the Bundesliga's Cinderella, underdog team; a symbol of possibility to all of Germany's 33,633 amateur, semi-professional, and professional clubs.

The perceived problem, however, relates less to the concept of underdogs than the fact that Hoffenheim is not so much Cinderella as it is her cousin with an influential and wealthy stepfather. That is, 49% of the club is owned by SAP AG co-founder Dietmar Hopp, whose overwhelming investment in the club (over €250 million) is the main reason for its meteoric rise. Hopp's investment and the "near-constant speculation that [he] actually owns more than 49%" is seen to undermine the democratic nature of Germany's club ownership rules, which allow commercial interests only a minority stake in the team whilst the majority belongs to and is run by the fans.

The conflict, then, is between the incredible journey of an underdog and the perhaps undemocratic and unsportsmanlike manner of that journey. How does one feel as the fan of the club that was replaced by Hoffenheim? How would one feel had they the resources to turn their favourite team into a contender?


In 2010, Sacha Dunable explained to me that the reason for his band's absence on Spotify was because bands as small as Intronaut (a fact that is criminal, I tell you) saw little return. In fact, this was the case with larger bands and applicable across Century Media's (Intronaut's label) roster. Fast forward, and Nigel Godrich and Thom Yorke have removed a number of their albums from Spotify, citing the same reasons.

The problem, according to Godrich, is that Spotify's streaming model benefits only a slim minority of bands; those who don't depend on the generated revenues to fund subsequent music:
Pink Floyd’s catalogue has already generated billions of dollars for someone (not necessarily the band), so putting it on a streaming site makes total sense. But if people had been listening to Spotify instead of buying records in 1973, I doubt very much if “Dark Side” would have been made. It would just be too expensive. 
Article author, Sasha Frere-Jones, expands by, rather than separating the bands who need to recoup now from those for whom streaming merely provides extra profit, looking at whether artists should be depending on recordings to generate profit, let alone income, considering even "large" bands struggle to recoup the investments made in their albums. Damon Krukowski states it more explicitly, "I actually believe free music is the solution - not for how to pay artists, but for how to prevent corporations from vacuuming up all the $". But how, then, are artists to make a living when even the pittance received from album sales and streaming services isn't enough? Unfortunately, Krukowski doesn't know, but suggests trying will hurt less than anticipated:
I sincerely think we won’t know till it happens. Or then again, maybe it has already happened, without our realizing—recordings are already essentially worthless in the marketplace—and it’s these heavily capitalized businesses like Apple, Spotify, and Pandora that are setting the agenda for the new order. I don’t think they have a claim over it, not in a moral and I am pretty sure not in a legal sense, either—but they are the ones loudly staking the claim. What I’m thinking is, What if we call their bluff? Maybe no one will end up being paid for recordings, in that case—but as it stands, musicians aren’t anyway.    

Meanwhile, in Alberta, this is what bears get up to when you're not paying attention:

Besides cavorting with trees, they're also prone to the odd bout of thievery:

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