I can list the handful of writers who have truly inspired me throughout my career in journalism. Steve Buckley. Rick Telander. Steve Rushin. Dick Schaap. Dave Anderson. Mike Freeman. A couple of others. None, however, have had the impact of Greg Orlando, my former co-worker at the University of Delaware student newspaper and one of the best scribes I’ve ever seen.
Greg has worked for a handful of publications, primarily dealing with video games. He conducted the funniest Jason Giambi interview of all time (Question (feeling Giambi’s uniform): Is this thing velvet?), and once wrote an essay, “The Answer Man,” that continues to blow me away. Most important, he’s a good friend, and he’s agreed to contribute to jeffpearlman.com by taking one side in our weekly debate session. Today’s topic (selected by Jeff): Peter Cetera vs. John Secada
GREG: Peter Cetera is a man who will fight for your honor. Not yours, specifically, mind: You are rather drab and unimportant and Peter Cetera will have nothing to do with drab and unimportant people.
Chicago collapsed when Peter Cetera left. Note that we are not talking about the band, but rather the city. Such was the man’s influence. Chicago the band keeps limping along without its right fist, heart, brains, soul, and spleen Peter Cetera. If you go see Chicago in concert, you cannot help but notice the band members do not ever look up from the floor. No member of Chicago has made eye contact with a fan, member of the media, or family member since 1994.
Many men leave bands in order to begin a life of obscurity and destitution. Peter Cetera left Chicago to sit on a huge pile of money that he himself earned by crooning such hits as 25 or (Six-to-Four), which is a song about the time. If you ever had the gall to sing about the time, they would beat you with sticks.
To Peter Cetera’s credit, the man has penned and sung such tender ballads as “Glory of Love” and “If You Leave Me Now.” You may think him wimpy for doing this, but really his true intention was that you get some. And by some it is meant a lot. If you haven’t received any, the fault is certainly not Peter Cetera’s. Although it is possible for Peter Cetera to form a silk purse from a sow’s ear or recreate the Taj Mahal with mud and straw, you should not expect such an effort as the man simply cannot be bothered.
My esteemed opposition Jeffrey would suggest John Secada is the better musician/singer/human/what-have-you. This may not be the case, as I have never heard of John Secada, and am too lazy to confirm or deny his existence. John Secada, indeed.
JEFF: I cannot tell a lie: John Secada sucks. His two hits, Just Another Day and If You Go, both suck. His background work for Gloria Estefan sucked because, frankly, Gloria Estefan sucks very, very, very badly. At his best, Secada is a hack. At his worst, he’s an unbearable hack. To say I loathe his music is to delve into great understatement. He is acid to my ears.
And yet, no matter how ghastly John Secada’s music might be (and, to be clear, it’s historically ghastly), nobody is worse than Peter Cetera. Nobody. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever. You see, dear friends, Peter Cetera is Satan. Unlike John Secada, once upon a time Peter Cetera was The Man. For 19 years, he was the lead singer of Chicago, an ass-kicking, trumpet-blowing soulful group of guys who could really bring it. Sure, not all their songs were top-notch. But there was this. And this. And Chicago 17â€”a vastly underrated album loaded with good stuff.
So what happens? In 1985, Peter Cetera leaves Chicago to go solo—and his testicles shrivel up and die. Literally, I’ve seen them up close. They look like a pair of moldy dates, locked inside a sauna for three months, then run over by a truck. The man abandons every shred of soul and oomph to do—egad—a love song with Amy Grant. He puts forth an all-time wretched ballad from the most wretched of films—the Karate Kid II. He even brought down Cher with this head-banger. Once, it was conceivable for Cetera to have gone down in history with men like Huey Lewis and Jeffrey Osborne as flawed-yet-respected singers from an iffy era. But now, thanks to his catastrophic sell-out of manhood, Peter Cetera is in a league of his own.
The league of people I can actually beat up.