Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hotel California, WTF?

Former Raiders player personnel exec Mike Lombardi has taken to referring to the Raiders organization as the "Hotel California." Each time he writes about the Raiders, he posts a picture of the Eagles album cover of the same name.

In his latest article, "I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE," he links to a Monte Pool column from Tuesday that rehashes the comments of Warren Sapp, Jerry Porter, Chris Carr, and Stuart Schweigert, and uses that show that he's not the only former Raiders employee who hates on his former bosses.
I know some of you who read my blog may suspect me of being bitter about my time in the Hotel California. But in reality, I am not bitter at all. In fact, I have many great memories from my time working there. Unfortunately, the last three years were beyond any sane description and so weird that even Rod Steiger (sic) from the Twilight Zone would shake his head.
First of all, Mike, it's Rod Serling, not Rod Steiger who hosted the Twilight Zone. But that's not the pop culture reference that troubles me. It's the "Hotel California" thing.

What the fuck?

Here's a karaoke-style video of the song, that shows the lyrics, because I'm wondering if Lombardi's ever actually heard this song.

Let's start with the obvious. The Raiders have their training camp at the Napa Marriott. This is indeed a hotel located in California.

But that can't be enough of a reason for Lombardi to use the Hotel California album cover for the Raiders, when every post about every other team shows that teams helmet. So let's do a close reading of the lyrics.

On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night

This could refer to Lombardi's quest for a job. "Wandering in the desert" and "lost in the wilderness," are both cliches used by people who are looking for something worthwhile to do with their lives, so perhaps he relates these lyrics to his own career path. Maybe when just when he was feeling like he'd never find the job he really wanted, when he was worn down from looking, the Raiders hired him.

There she stood in the doorway;
I heard the mission bell
And I was thinking to myself,
’this could be heaven or this could be hell’
Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way

The introduction of a woman to the narrative of the song is the first concrete image one could argue fits the Raiders. Perhaps the first person to greet Lombardi when he arrived in Alameda was Amy Trask, the Raiders Chief Executive, and the only woman in the NFL to hold such a title. The "mission bell" is easy, it's the intro to AC/DC's "Hells Bells," which is used to the introduce the Raiders on game day. Maybe Lombardi was unsure if he should be taking this job, since he'd heard that the man he refers to so derisively in his blog as "Someone" ran a first class operation, was fiercely loyal (heaven), but could also be vindictive and capricious (Hell).

Here's the rest of the song, including the chorus, which repeats:

There were voices down the corridor,
I thought I heard them say...

Welcome to the hotel california
Such a lovely place
Such a lovely face
Plenty of room at the hotel california
Any time of year, you can find it here

Her mind is tiffany-twisted, she got the mercedes bends
She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys, that she calls friends
How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget

So I called up the captain,
’please bring me my wine’
He said, ’we haven’t had that spirit here since nineteen sixty nine’
And still those voices are calling from far away,
Wake you up in the middle of the night
Just to hear them say...

Welcome to the hotel california
Such a lovely place
Such a lovely face
They livin’ it up at the hotel california
What a nice surprise, bring your alibis

Mirrors on the ceiling,
The pink champagne on ice
And she said ’we are all just prisoners here, of our own device’
And in the master’s chambers,
They gathered for the feast
The stab it with their steely knives,
But they just can’t kill the beast

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
’relax,’ said the night man,
We are programmed to receive.
You can checkout any time you like,
But you can never leave!

Other than maybe, "there were voices down the corridor," what about these lyrics say "Oakland Raiders" to you? The famous line, "You can check out any time you like,/ but you can never leave" doesn't work, because Lombardi, well, left. According to the song's entry on Wikipedia, the song has been interpreted by some as Satanic, or a reference to an insane asylum. This is most likely what Lombardi is talking about when he says he saw things that were beyond "any sane description."

Unfortunately, this is just as cryptic as Don Henley's and Glenn Frey's lyrics. It's perfectly fine if Lombardi doesn't want to give us any details.

But until then, if all we have to go on is his assertion that he's not bitter, well, that's not really good enough.

As with the song, we can only go by the textual evidence, and conclude that he's a disgruntled hater. I mean, he won't write the words "Al Davis," but he claims to have worked for Bill Callahan and Norv Turner. By those standards, didn't he also work for Art Shell?

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