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Eating Crow after Australian Open

By Leighton Ginn

During the first week of the Australian Open when No. 2 Novak Djokovic lost, I had asked in my blog if this was the end of the golden age of men’s tennis.

The day after I wrote it, No. 1 Andy Murray also lost.

In the blog, I thought it was unlikely Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal could reach the finals.

Well, the wheels came off with that analysis.

With Novak Djokovic’s stunning loss, is the Golden Age over in men’s tennis?

Federer won the Australian Open for his 18th career Grand Slam singles crown, beating his long-time rival in a thrilling five setter that will be talked about for years.

In my defense, Federer had been gone for six months with a knee injury that was actually suffered at last year’s Australian Open. I never ruled out Federer from winning a major title because of his age, 35. But the age with the injury, and this being essentially his first tournament back, a sixth title in Oz was a lot to ask for.

Nadal has either been struggling with injuries or confidence. And the confidence is a result of all the injuries that have robbed him of his consistency. He kept plugging away, but there hadn’t been a sign encouraging enough to think he could get back to his dominant days.

And then everything changed.

Everyone has been talking about Federer’s age for a long time, but there’s no real evidence his game has slipped due to Father Time. Before the injury last year, a freak accident when he was giving his kids a bath, he was ranked No. 2 in the world.

In 2014-15, Federer reached three major finals, and if it wasn’t for Djokovic, he might have been over 20 major titles.

It’s time to talk about Novak Djokovic as one of the greatest ever in tennis

Now that he appears to be healthy, there’s no reason to believe he couldn’t win another major, especially at Wimbledon.

As for Nadal, he is back in the mix. Can he win another major? The French Open is the major he’s owned, but it’s such a long and grueling tournament, and Nadal has a lot of wear and tear on his body.

I don’t rule him out, but I need to see more to determine if he can win the French.

Now if Murray and Djokovic can bounce back, then the good times will continue to roll.

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With Novak Djokovic’s stunning loss, is the Golden Age over in men’s tennis?

By Leighton Ginn

For over a decade, the Big Four of men’s tennis — Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray — have dominated the sport like no other.

Of the four majors over the last 11 years, the Fab Four have won 39 of the 44 major singles titles, with 29 of those finals pitting the sports creme de la creme.

While Federer and Nadal, two of the winningest players in tennis history, were hampered last year with injuries, Djokovic and Murray aptly filled in with historic years.

Djokovic became the first player to win four consecutive Grand Slam singles title when he won the French Open. The French title also completed his career Grand Slam to join Federer and Nadal in this generation to accomplish it.

However, in the second half of the year, Murray went on an impressive run that included his second Wimbledon title and second-consecutive gold medal at the Olympics to become the first Brit to earn the No. 1 ranking in the Open era.

On Thursday, Djokovic suffered a stunning second-round loss Denis Istomin, a wildcard who is ranked outside the top 100. It is the second time in the last three majors where Djokovic failed to reach the second week.

And this came at the Australian Open, his best major, where he’s claimed six titles in 10 years.

It raises this question: Is the Golden Age over?

WHAT MADE THE GOLDEN AGE GREAT

What made the Golden Age great is you had four great players who were always battling in the semifinals or finals of major tournaments.

For that to happen this year at the Australian Open seems like a longshot.

Murray came into the tournament as the No. 1 seed and top-ranked player, and nothing has changed for him.

But Federer is seeded 17th and would have to face Murray in the quarterfinals. Nadal is ninth, but he has no momentum coming into Melbourne. It’s not impossible for Nadal to reach the finals, but probably unlikely.

Moving forward, how much can we expect from Federer and Nadal who missed such a large portion of last year?

THE FALL OF DJOKOVIC

The real problem is Djokovic. No.1 and No. 2 isn’t a huge drop, but the quality of play from the Serbian superstar is.

When he won the French Open, it was his 12th major title and it was reasonable that he could make a serious run at Federer’s 17 Grand Slam titles.

Yet, to go from completing a Grand Slam to failing to make the second week of a major twice in the next three is troubling. Throw into the mix Djokovic losing in the first round of the Olympics and it becomes a worrisome trend.

If Djokovic was able to reach the quarterfinals, then it would have been too early to sound the alarm.

After his loss Thursday, Djokovic said he felt fine physically.

There have been questions about his desire. Only he can answer that, and he said that’s not the case.

Confidence? Same to assume it wasn’t what is was last year. Can he get it back? And can he do it in time to defend his French title?

IS ANYONE READY TO STEP IN?

Because Djokovic and Murray have been so good and holding the fort down with Federer and Nadal recovering from injuries, it looked like the Big Four could still squeeze out some more magic at the majors.

Now with Djokovic out, it opens the door for someone to step in to grab his own share of the limelight.

The top candidate is Stan Wawrinka, who has won three major titles in the last three years, including the Australian Open title. Some have suggested the Big Four should be the Big Five based on what Wawrinka has done. He certainly is on that level as far as ability.

I’m not sure if fans have embraced him on the level of the Big Four, in terms of excitement and anticipation. He hasn’t seriously challenged for major titles until the last four years. By that time, his legacy had been deep in the shadows of his fellow Swiss, Federer.

Wawrinka’s body of work as a contender is short, and at 31 years old, is probably closer to the end than the beginning.

But if he does continue to play at this high level and reach more major finals, then Wawrinka can enrich his already impressive legacy.

Currently, Milos Raonic is the No. 3 seed and has a career-best No. 3 ranking. With big weapons, he is an exciting power player. He’s building momentum in his career by reaching the Wimbledon final and the Australian Open semifinals in 2016.

Marin Cilic is the 2015 US Open champion and Juan Martin Del Potro is the 2009 US Open champion, but both have been hampered by injuries.

Kei Nishikori reached the 2015 US Open final and has maintained a top-10 level, but not enough to crack into the Big Four level.

Gael Monfils and Tomas Berdych have been around a while, but don’t appear are able to get to the next level, at least not yet.

Young players Dominic Thiem and David Goffin have made gigantic strides in the last year.

But the thing all these players are lacking is a body of work like the Big Four.

 

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Coachella 2017’s missed opportunities

By Leighton Ginn

So naturally with the lineups being announced, there’s a part of me that things what could have been. There are some cool opportunities that could have made this Coachella a little more special.

PERFECT YEAR FOR SNOOP DOG, WILLIE NELSON OR LIL WAYNE TO HEADLINE

This will be the first time recreational weed use will be legal in California. That would be something if Coachella got Snoop Dog, Willie Nelson or Lil Wayne to headline.

I’m sure they could have gotten other acts that I just can’t think of.

Now that marijuana is legal, will it change the vibe at Coachella? Judging by all the second-hand smoke I’ve inhaled, I’m guessing it won’t.

HAVING U2 KICKOFF JOSHUA TREE

This year marks the 30th anniversary of U2’s legendary “Joshua Tree” album, which has sold over 25 million copies.

Coachella, of course, is close to the Joshua Tree National Park. There has also been talk over the years that U2 would play Coachella as both sides have expressed a mutual interest.

The tour begins in May, and the Southern California stop is on May 20 at the Rose Bowl. While Pasadena is nice, it wouldn’t have felt as magical as if they played Coachella.

U2 is doing one festival, which is Bonnaroo on June 8-11 in Tennessee.

Goldenvoice, which also produced the wildly successful Desert Trip in October, will have the October date again, so perhaps they could be angling to have U2 play then.

 

 

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First thoughts on the 2017 Coachella lineup with Beyoncé, Radiohead and Kendrick Lamar … and Hans Zimmer?

By Leighton Ginn

When Coachella announces it’s lineup, the last few years, it’s been met with disappointment.

As the leading music festival in this country, expectations are high, maybe too high.

I look at this year’s lineup and it’s impressive, yet I still feel disappointed.

Having said that, I’ve been disappointed when Coachella’s lineup has been announced the last few years, but I still go and have a good time.

The headliners are strong with Beyoncé, who will be performing for the first time as an act and not a guest. Radiohead is a longtime Coachella favorite. And Kendrick Lamar is on the brink of surpassing superstar status.

Predicting Coachella 2017 — The headliners

No doubt, Coachella will do well with ticket sales and buzz.

It also didn’t help that BottleRock Napa Valley announced it’s lineup, with Foo Fighters, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Maroon 5 are the headliners. It’s a matter of tastes, but I’m more excited about those headliners.

But for me, I go to Coachella with an open mind. What usually happens, I’ll find bands I didn’t know much about and fall in love with them. And acts I was so-so with, I’ll fall in love with.

The truth of the matter is Coachella has been evolving and expanding it’s reach, having made hip hop and EDM more of a staple over the years. With the broader base, there will be less bands I really love that will fill the line up.

But that’s cool.

There’s still enough bands I love, as well as a few new ones I’m really anxious to see. If I go with an open mind, I’m sure there will be an act I will fall in love with and it might change my tastes yet again.

So here’s a few of my highlights after seeing the 2017 lineup.

HANS ZIMMER?: If Coachella was going to book an act that is famous for scoring movies, I figured it would have been former Oingo Boingo frontman Danny Elfman.

Zimmer has done the score of countless epic movies, including “The Lion King” and “The Dark Knight.” He’s even teaching an online “Masterclass” online for $90.

I always imagine that if Hans Zimmer does something, it would be with a huge orchestra in a venue like the Hollywood Bowl.

But this could be a very cool show.

It reminds me of when producer Mark Ronson performed at Coachella. While he doesn’t sing, he had a great show with tremendous guests.

 A WOMAN, FINALLY: Beyoncé becomes just the second woman to headline Coachella, following in the footsteps of Bjork in 2002 and 07. It’s surprising it’s been a decade since Coachella had a female headliner.

But Beyoncé will be a spectacular way to end the drought. She stole the show at last year’s Super Bowl, and “Lemonade” was her latest monster hit.

Predicting Coachella 2017: Will a woman headline for the first time since 2007?

It won’t be the first time Beyoncé has performed at Coachella, as she’s been a guest for several acts, including husband Jay Z during his 2010 headlining set.

It also brings up this interesting tidbit. Will Beyoncé’s appearance bring out the Obama family as President Obama has bought a home in nearby Rancho Mirage? They have been friends and Beyoncé and Jay Z were at the White House frequently.

Here’s a look back at Beyoncé performing with Jay Z at Coachella, singing “Young Forever.”

 

CATCHING THOSE I MISSED IN 2012: So at Coachella, be careful what you eat. In 2012, I had something that forced me to leave the evening session, forcing me to miss some much-anticipated acts like Radiohead and Bon Iver.

Luckily, both are here this year.

But I did get one reprieve. Thom York was at the Ace Hotel the following weekend, and he was DJ-ing on a Friday prior to his Weekend 2 performance the next day.

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Another band that I wanted to catch but missed was Bastille, as they played a tent that was so overcrowded I couldn’t get in. Hopefully they’ll be on the main stage this time.

WELCOME BACK: Bands who had some of my favorite sets will be returning, particularly New Order, Two Door Cinema Club, Capital Cities, GroupLove, Local Natives and the Head and the Heart.

Predicting Coachella 2017: Hello old friends, acts due to return

ACTS I WANT TO SEE FOR THE FIRST TIME: DJ Khalid, Empire of the Sun, Glass Animals, Phantogram, Bon Iver, Bishop Briggs, Declan McKenna and Tove Lo.

Predicting Coachella 2017: Acts down the lineup, but not at the bottom

Follow Ginn and Topics on Twitter ( GinnandTopics), Instagram (@GinnTopics) and my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ginnandtopics )

 

 

 

 

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My favorite songs from Rock N Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2017

By Leighton Ginn

The Class of 2017 for the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame includes some of my all-time favorite bands.

So here are a few of my favorite songs from YouTube, and a few songs I just picked because I’m not as familiar.

JOURNEY

So a joke I have with my friends is that I will ask them who is the greatest cover band around. The answer: Journey

This is the band that’s touring now without Steve Perry. I know their current lead singer, Arnel Pineda, is fantastic.

But to me, Journey is always Steve Perry and I hope they will reunite to play. Sure, Perry has not performed publicly except for one surprise appearance in Minnesota, so he might not sound like we remember.

I like when the original lineup gets together, and I think Perry and Journey (Pineda included) together will be a special moment.

 ELO

I’ve been on a 70s kick lately, and much of it has to do with Electric Light Orchestra. Jeff Lynne’s voice is amazing, and it’s a unique blend of rock and disco.

There’s so many great songs, and his signature hit is “Mr. Blue Sky,” but “All Over The World” has a special place in my heart for me. It’s one of the songs from Xanadu, and it was one of the first albums I owned.

It was also the first song Lynne played when he decided to get ELO back together to perform in 2015, which led to a new CD.

PEARL JAM

 

While Nirvana became the signature grunge band, Eddie Vedder was really the distinctive voice.

For the grunge era, Pearl Jam and Nirvana were the signature bands, kind of like that generation’s Beatles and Rolling Stones.

When you are looking for a signature song of the early 90s, it’s Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and “Even Flow.” Vedder and Pearl Jam are still creating great music together, but here’s the classic look.

YES

One thing I loved about the 70s is how some of the songs are long by today’s standards and a bit audacious.

I mean, when I make videos for YouTube, I’m always reminded to keep them under two minutes, and shorter for other forms of social media. This song is eight minutes!

But if you can make great music, then eight minutes is nothing.

So here’s Yes.

NILE RODGERS

As a member of Chic, Niles Rodgers helped create the super disco hits “Le Freak” and “Good Times.” In later years, he produced for some of the biggest acts, including Madonna, David Bowie and recently, Daft Punk.

TUPAC SHAKUR

One of the most important rappers of all time. Tragic how he was taken away from us so early.

JOAN BAEZ

I’m not going to lie, I don’t know much about Joan Baez’s music. I saw this was the most popular.

Yes, I know she’s one of the most important artists of the 20th century and I don’t know her work. Sue men.

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Predicting Coachella 2017: Acts down the lineup, but not at the bottom

 

By Leighton Ginn

These will be the diamond in the rough acts.

They might not be high on the lineup, although I could be wrong with that on some, but they will be well worth going to Coachella during likely the hottest time of the day.

EAGLES OF DEATH METAL

Much like Queens of the Stone Age, they guys are a local product from Palm Desert. Unlike QOTSA, EODM has not played Coachella yet.

I felt promoters Goldenvoice missed an opportunity last year to bring the hometown boys to the festival, and maybe even have a benefit to help those who were affected by the Paris shootings last year at the Bataclan.

But most of all, Eagles of Death Metal is a fun band that plays timeless rock music, with a wink and a smile.

They’ve been a personal favorite and surprised they haven’t played Coachella yet.

BANNERS

Shine A Light is one of those ear-worm songs, and Banners had a nice run in 2016. Maybe they should have been in Coachella last year.

COIN

Incredibly fun music that’s catchy. These guys might be my favorite band from the last year or two.

ELECTRIC GUEST

Asa Taccone has a unique and expressive voice that brings their super hit “This Head I Hold” to life. I thought they would have played around when their debut “Mondo” in 2012. That didn’t happen, but now they have new music. Taccone’s brother Jorma is part of “Lonely Island.”

RUN RIVER NORTH

This band is very talented and very versatile, as they changed its sound. They are a fun act live and would do well at Coachella.

JUDAH & THE LION

I might be picking these guys solely for a catchy hook in this song. But they do have a great sound.

X AMBASSADORS

An indie darling, these guys seem overdue to play Coachella.

I would suspect that would not be too far down the lineup.

 

 

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Predicting Coachella 2017: Hello old friends, acts due to return

 

By Leighton Ginn

Here’s a few acts I’ve caught at Coachella, which I hope will return.

At least, these are the acts I’m feeling right now. I’m sure there’s more I’ll be able to think of afterwards.

GROUPLOVE

 

I caught Grouplove both times they were at Coachella and they were fantastic performers, a hippy band with the energy of a death metal band.

I read somewhere that “Shark Attack” is a song they wrote from their first time at Coachella, so it only seems natural they would be a regular.

They released “Big Mess” this fall, so they’ll have new music.

Outside of Coachella, I caught them at the Troubadour and the Jimmy Kimmel Show and they never fail to bring the fun.

Looking at their tour schedule, they will end their spring tour on April 13 in Santa Cruz, Ca. The first weekend of Coachella begins April 14.

FITZ AND THE TANTRUMS

Fitz and the Tantrums have been on a little unusual schedule at Coachella, as they never hit this festival right after releasing new music. It usually comes at the tail end of a run for a CD.

So last year, Fitz and the Tantrums didn’t play as they performed in 2015. And during 2016, they released their self-titled “Fitz and the Tantrum,” which included the hit “Handclap.” The LA Times declared it the song of the summer.

So far, the band doesn’t have its schedule made out for 2017, but if Coachella comes calling, you would expect the LA-based band will return.

TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB

One of the great indie-rock bands, Two Door Cinema Club has come up with more of a pop sound in their new CD, “Gameshow.”

It shows their diversity, particularly with the disco sounds of “Bad Decision,” although some fans were still longing their indie-rock sound.

But even critics of the new sound can’t deny the songs are catchy. And Two Door Cinema Club has a deep catalog.

In their last Coachella performance in 2013 was dazzling.

THE KILLERS

The Las Vegas natives were dazzling headliners in 2009, sandwiched between Paul McCartney and the Cure. But that was the last time they played Coachella as a group, although lead singer Brandon Flowers has returned as a solo act.

The Killers will have new music in 2017, and a return to the Empire Polo Grounds would be an overdue return.

PETER BJORN AND JOHN

These guys are much more than the theme song to “Two Broke Girls.”

They are a great Swedish band. Admittedly, when they last played Coachella, it was after their first CD, and playing the main state seemed a little big for the trio.

But their sound got bigger and they’ve been even more dynamic.

In the summer, they released a new CD “Breaking Point” and played FYF festival on the USC campus.

While they have a great array of hits, I really loved this cover they did with the AV Club and wish they would include it on their setlists.

I caught them on the Sunset Strip the day before their FYF festival and they were glorious.

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Are you ready to Shag baby? Artist captures the fun and cool times of a fantastic era in vivid colors

By Leighton Ginn

Shag is the nickname of artist Josh Agle, whose paintings combine Mad Men style and Austin Powers flair.

His art is fun and I’m just happy when I’m in his shop.

On Dec. 10. the Palm Springs store on 725 N. Palm Canyon (next to TRIO restaurant) will host its annual Holiday Party from 7-9:30. Agle will be there to unveil “The Three Coats” and to sign merchandise and personalize your prints. Limited edition prints of “The Three Coats” will be available for a special price.

For more information, you can call (760) 322-3400 or go to Shagstore.bigcartel.com

Below is a vignette that was shot in October.

 

 

The Casa Cody Inn

Inns and boutique hotels gives insight to the timeless appeal of Palm Springs

By Leighton Ginn

One of my favorite new events has actually been around for a long time.

The Walking Tour of the Inns will celebrate its 21st year with the annual event on Dec. 8, starting at 5 p.m., a little later than in past years.

I hadn’t spent much time in places behind the strip in the past. So getting to explore these inns was a surprising treat.

It felt like going through a time machine. But the charm and feel of these inns are timeless and capture the romanticism people have of Palm Springs.

For more, read my story in Palm Spring Life’s December issue.

Below are vignettes of three of the properties.

CASA CODY

 

DEL MARCOS

 

SAN GIULIANO (Soon to be renamed The Rossi)

 

 

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A Fabulous weekend for The Face That Changed It All, Beverly Johnson

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By Leighton Ginn

With a fabulous weekend, it only made sense that Beverly Johnson ended up at Just Fabulous.

Johnson, the first woman of color to be on the cover of Vogue, was at Just Fabulous in North Palm Springs for a book signing of her memoire, “The Face That Changed It All.”

A Rancho Mirage resident, Johnson was a fashion pioneer and had a weekend full of recognition.

On Thursday, Dec. 1, she joined championship boxer Timothy Bradley, Palm Springs police chief Bryan Reyes, philanthropist Nelda Linsk, and Palm Springs mayor Robert Moon for the tree lighting ceremony.

On Dec. 3, Johnson was the Grand Marshall of the Palm Springs Festival of Lights parade, joining Reyes and Linsk. Earlier on Saturday, Johnson received her star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars.

The weekend ended with Johnson doing a book signing at Just Fabulous, where she took time out to star in this video.

The book includes her encounters, including Bill Cosby, Mick Jagger, Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson, Mike Tyson and Chris Noth, Mr. Big in “Sex and the City.”