Monday, August 31, 2009

Woe Is Me and Woe Is You and Woe Is Us, Together

(Aleks, Ellen, and Gareth Campesinos rock out)

When Los Campesinos! say "we are beautiful, we are doomed," they never quite get around to explaining if they're beautiful because they're doomed or doomed because they're beautiful but after seeing them at Street Scene this Saturday in San Diego, my hunch is it's a bit of both. It's sort of hard to explain my devotion to this Welsh seven-piece group, but this will be an attempt to try, one made all the more necessary because I was easily the oldest person up towards the stage (but away from the occasional mosh pit--I might have been arrested for statutory something if I got in there). And then seeing the band, live, just stressed what I can ignore when only listening to the music--I'm old enough to be everyone's dad. So does this make me real hip or really creepy (and the two might not be exclusive, sure)?

Heck, I wouldn't be the first to feed off the energy of the young, and LC has energy out the glockenspiel. They are at least partially about muchness, everything up at once, often everyone singing at once, but only the very best lines, and then live those became a crowd chant too--it's as if we all get to be Campesinos. There is a power in hundreds shouting, "We kid ourselves there's future in the fucking but there is no fucking future," or what seems like a mouthful but rolls of the tongue when sung to their raucous tune, "This is how you spell HAHAHA, I've destroyed the hopes and the dreams of a generation of faux-romantics, and I'm pleased." When you're my age, of course, those lines mean even more--I've had the chance to shout no future with someone else who seemed to mean it a whole lot more (but he's still kicking around, too, isn't he?). As for faux-romantics, I survived the age of Duran Duran. You kids know nothing.

But LC does. For that's the second part that makes all that vitality even more powerful; these damn kids can think, ever wishing and knowing at once: "I'm taking far too many chances on these less than idealistic romances" or "This sentimental movie marathon has taught us one thing: it's the opposite of true love is as follows: reality!" Yeah, it seems the quick cynicism of the clever, but it listens way better than it reads--when the whole band shouts that "reality" it's reason finding force, and funny to boot. Ain't that life.

Live they were everything I hoped. Totally together, completely up to speed from moment one, which featured Gareth running out into the crowd to start "Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats." He even grabbed the back of one fan's head, put the mic right up to the guy's mouth, and sang right at him, almost freakily intense, but that's the point. I've always felt LC had a lot of Mekons in them, not that they fess up to it on their Myspace page, and yes, I like them so much I'll even go to Myspace. That shambling collective out-of-punk energy is exactly the same, with Harriet making a wonderful Susie Honeyman stand in on rocking violin.

It was a perfect set, too, that rarity when all your faves get played and you don't have to go off wanting. There was that great rush after each chorus when everyone bangs away in "International Tweexcore Underground" that's so emotion-raising I almost tear up hearing it--let alone getting to stand in it live. There was the nod to Pavement and a bruising cover of "Box Elder" that ended with Gareth and Aleks both at Ollie's drum kit, cymbal smashing into a roar that became that build-in to "You! Me! Dancing!" rock's essential request of us, after all.

And there was the end. This gig was Aleks' last with the band, as she's headed back to university. Pre-show one of the band's retinue put flowers out by her spot and spread little cut out hearts all over her Korg. And as the set, well, wound down is far from the right word, you could see her getting dreamy, even behind her sunglasses (it was a hot hot day, and the sun set behind the crowd as they played). Prior to the finale, "Sweet Dreams Sweet Cheeks," Gareth asked everyone to raise their glass and he said something to the effect that one poxy band didn't matter in the world but here's to best fucking friends. He wound up back in the crowd for the song's start. They played the heck out of it. We all got to join in on the anthemic end: "One blink for yes two blinks for no sweet dreams sweet cheeks we leave alone." And then Aleks was bawling, and, tiny little Welsh girl she is, bawling is a whole body affair. Everyone in the band gave her huge hugs.

Perhaps we do leave alone. Or perhaps we all get to be Campesinos, beautiful, doomed, and at least going out singing a very smart song.

(11 of 31 in the drive to 2500)

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Saturday, August 29, 2009


Anyone who goes to live shows knows that the level of live can be infinitely variable. I don't blame performers having difficulty trying to get it up for the umpteenth time for a tune they'd probably wished that they'd never written in the first place--even saintly Bruce Springsteen has to mutter "Born to Fucking Run" to himself on his dark days. Then there's that delightful moment in Wings of Desire, say, when, since we've got angel-super-power, we get to hear Nick Cave think "I'm not going to sing you a song about a girl" before he says "I'm going to sing you a song about a girl." Of course, that Cave and the Bad Seeds then totally rip into that gorgeous train crash of a tune "From Her to Eternity" sort of ruins my point. But that's in a movie. With angels.

So, for your enjoyment and study, are two performances by Lucinda Williams. Watch, then we'll discuss.

Shocking, no? The first one certainly hews closest to the recorded version--the guitar lines are almost note-for-note--but for a song that espouses "I just want to see you so bad" in 9 of its 21 lines, you have to feel either the want or the bad, preferably both, to give that want the proper frisson. She just seems to be singing, and that's when you realize it's the feeling that matters. Not to get too method acting on it, she doesn't seem to be considering she's singing the tune to anyone. It's not till the last "see you" that she devotes anything more to it, gives it that off-tune edge that makes the need all more needy--her voice can't even need straight. But that it's the last "see you" also might mean she's just happy to welcome the song's end.

Version two, on the other hand, well, at first it doesn't even quite look like her. The distance. The darker hair color. And I don't think it's just because it's shot from the crowd that it seems to have more of a vibe--a sort of contact energy. One key might be she seems to slur it--perhaps she's a bit buzzed this time? But that works, as if it opens her up to some honesty.

The guitar, too, isn't the clean lines from version 1, and that freedom, that surprise for fans who know the tune, makes the discovery a "see you" so good, as it were. Of course she's not playing guitar in this version, either, so perhaps she needs to focus, have only the vocal on her mind. But I'm at least buying the guy in performance two is going to be a lot happier to see her back.

(10 of 31 in the drive to 2500)

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Porch Pup

For Dog Blog Friday: Nigel, ever on the outside looking in.

(9 of 31 in the drive to 2500)


Friday Random Ten

Caitlin Cary "Please Take the Devil Out of Me" Down to the Promised Land: 5 Years of Bloodshot Records
Weston "I Just Quit Rock and Roll" (reprise) The Massed Albert Sounds
Lynn Harrell "Allemande" Bach: Cello Suites BWV 1007-1012
Richard Buckner "Home" Devotion & Doubt
Guided by Voices "Unspirited" Isolation Drills
Pere Ubu "Waiting for Mary" Cloudland
Guided by Voices "Over the Neptune/Mesh Gear Fox" Vampire on Titus/Propeller
The 6ths "All Dressed Up in Dreams" Wasps' Nests
Bruce Daigrepont "Laissez Faire (Let It Be)" Big Ol' Box of New Orleans
Tom Waits "We're All Mad Here" Alice

747s "Rainkiss" Zampano

Throw the switch, it's rock and roll time, from Bach to Buckner.

(8 of 31 in the drive to 2500)


Thursday, August 27, 2009

She Hit a Wet Spot!

Sometimes the "this day in history" listings just don't give you enough to go on. For instance, Friday is the 22 anniversary of Donna Patterson Brice setting the high speed water skiing record of 111.11 mph, which is not only terrifyingly fast but freakishly consistent. Yet Google Brice and her place in history has left no skidmark--it's as if she just sank under the waves of time. Then there's that name. Just perform a bit of monkey business with it and she's the woman who took Gary Hart down, especially if you add in some Baby Snooks for good measure and keep your fanny out of it. The last part (come to think of it all of that line) is meant for a demographic much older than my usual. BTW, did I say I was soon to be performing on the retirement communities stand-up circuit? "Take my walker, please!" "I just got out of bed today, and boy is all of me tired!" "Why did the chicken cross the road? He doesn't know, he's got Alzheimer's too!" I'm going to kill them--just like an Obama Death Panel! Sorry, got pulled away from my initial goal as if I was tied to a speed boat helmed by Mario Andretti. The good news is I never got to what I did find on the internets--that water skiing can cause either a "water skiing douche" or "water skiing enema" (not medical terms). I'm such a pussy that I'll just have to leave that discussion behind.

(7 of 31 in the drive to 2500)


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

All This Useless Beauty

Shaky cam start, silly cheer because they say North Carolina at a show in North Carolina, nothing can stop the wonder of Magnetic Fields' "All My Little Words." At least I'm assuming it's not just because I'm a poet who gave up writing poetry because you can only write the "language is a tool that fails us" poem so often before you have to at least convince yourself. But the song certainly has enough heartbreak to stock the shelves for the losers in love Costcos across the country. Not the anything seems off the shelf, for even the "if I could sing like a bird," which points back to the Troubadours at least, gets sung so sweetly--what a melody!--that you have to wonder what bird could match Claudia Gonson's croon (let alone with Shirley Simms soaring her harmony alongside). And then the chorus has the "Not for all North Carolina" line, which is a stunner in any state and conveniently rhymes with China. That's where rhymes get you, and songs--even further down the road you didn't want to travel but find oddly compelling anyway.

Of course we haven't discussed the cello yet, but if we could discuss it, we wouldn't need cello, now would we? It's such a primal sound, like wood that could have been a coffin got a reprieve but still has to attest to dark secrets. If someone needed a definition of beauty, I might point to that, but it's sound, so pointing doesn't quite work. Here and gone. Only more beautiful, then.

You don't have to tell me, by the way, that the song is as melodramatic as a troubled teen on the bad side of a Friday night. That only makes it more wonderful, its relishing slosh in wallow. For if you can't have your lover, you can have your pain. If you can have your pain in the sweetest song you've ever heard, you just feel it more. Perhaps even now somewhere the object of your affection, for just a moment, a flash, doesn't see the world quite as brightly even as he or she moves further and further away into something you only can assume is happiness.

(6 of 31 in the drive to 2500)

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Use Guys

It didn't take more than an hour for someone to start off a Facebook comment about the death of Ted Kennedy with the line: "All I hear is the screams of Mary Jo Kopechne rising from her grave near Larksville Mountain."

I can't put it simpler than this--the dead don't scream.

Unless we turn them into ventriloquist's dummies to do our talking for us, of course.

My point isn't to praise or blame Kennedy for his actions on July 18, 1969 since I wasn't there and I can't know and especially now it's as murky as Poucha Pond. It's just if you think Kennedy did this woman wrong, every time you use her to club him--probably because you don't like his politics in the first place--you use her too. You have made her no longer a woman but a dark mark on that damn commie Kennedy's reputation. Think about that.

And while I don't want to play the games about how much death how directly caused stains a soul how much, what of the Vietnamese dead and LBJ and Nixon, what of the African dead those years Reagan couldn't form his lips to say AIDS, what of the Iraqi dead that W. will have to account for.

(5 of 31 in the drive to 2500)

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You and What Flexor Pronator

There's only so much you can expect from a guy who decides he wants to put his and his family's finanical security in the hands of an agent named Bean Stringfellow. So today we had this news, when Billy Wagner, former Mets closer who is two appearances post-Tommy John surgery and now a Red Sock (no, not redneck, wise guy), finally figured he'd ok the trade:

Wagner is now showing some desire to pitch in a pennant race rather than remain with the Mets because it could help his position on the free agent market.

One assumes that Wagner, at age 38, and after major surgery, thinks he's good enough to shine on the post-season stage and rake in beaucoup bucks while turning down any shot at an $8 million club buy-out for next season. That's right, a man who will at best throw 25 innings the rest of this year thinks that will be enough for someone to pay him more than $8 million next. (Yes, I am bitter and want his $8 million.)

But let's check Wagner's post-season history, to see if he's got a chance to put his left arm's muscle where his wallet is. And yes, that's phrased more awkwardly than a lefty-hitter's swing at his pitches in his heyday--I'm not saying he wasn't a great pitcher. Once. Mets fans (yes, both of you--I know many of you are on the DL) probably don't even have to go to Retrosheet to recall how much he was a one-man wrecking crew in the 2006 League Championship Series against the Cards, but here are the reminders:

October 13, 2/3 inning, 4 hits, 3 runs, a homer to So (So) Taguchi, big loss
October 18, 1 ip, 2 er, in a win that seemed secure but he made mighty scary

If you're not a Mets fan, although I'm not sure how that's possible, Wags still has left you freaked during some post-season: his LCS ERA is 16.88, his LDS ERA is 7.04. It's as if you'd think he believed a higher ERA was a better one.

This is a man banking on his post-season performance to make him one last big ca-ching. Perhaps instead of taking a muscle out of his right arm to put it in his left in the usual Tommy John procedure, they instead took out his brain and used that. If that's true, Boston's not going to be particularly happy. (Think of it as a parallel to the 2007 Gagne Experience, complete with 6.75 ERA!)

(4 of 31 in the drive to 2500)


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Your Rails Have Always Outrun Mine

Beyond my well-toned cocktail shaker muscles, I'm not the athletic sort. I blame this mostly on my indoor family that also was decidedly non-sporting, unless pipe smoking has made it to the list of noble pursuits. My favorite event as a kid was to add another title to my Conquering Bookmark (I really called it that, twit that I was, your call on still am) after I finished a book. I did run in high school, mostly because the running coach was a kind of cult leader who taught us as much about narcissistic distortion as good breathing, and listening to him was fascinating. They came up with the idea that since I wasn't fast, I should run longer. This is how I ran two marathons by the time I was 18. This is why I don't feel like I have to run anymore, as I got it out of the way early.

Now I bike, some. Not quite enough for an ever-aging, ever-widening, part-time food writer (praise the lord it's not a full-time job), but some. I mean, it's Santa Barbara, where a cold morning is 40 and that happens a couple times a winter. And it doesn't rain over half the year. And we have no water, but this is about me, dammit, so if you want your ecological non-navel-gazing, go elsewhere. Just leave enough rain so not too much of the beautiful scenery burns down before I can bike through it.

Of late the hope is to have a bit of the mystic moment on the one long, not steep downhill on the way into work. It's alongside cars, so it's not that spiritual, but sometimes there's this sense of click, and I don't mean my bike needs a tune-up. I mean that the bike is sort of riding me and I'm not riding it, that I finally latch into that perfect gear when the wheel speed--that is real speed--and my legs all just synch so I work but it's nothing, it is exactly what is supposed to be is. Not even the moment when the trees hang too low and even ducking means they zip across the top of my helmet breaks it, if it happens, when.

Of course it's not long, and the desire for more speed makes it shorter. Of course I want it, and then force fucks everything up.

But it's nice to know it's there, that going downhill can be something to be loved. Cause I'm going downhill anyway.

(3 of 31 in the drive to 2500)


Monday, August 24, 2009

Lucky 13

It might seem like it wasn't much of a beer festival if I can remember all 10 beers I drank, but that just wouldn't be true. This past Saturday was the Stone 13th Anniversary and Beer Celebration, and we were there along with about 30 other people we know in various ways, some of whom are regular commenters to this blog (Amy, of course, and Trekking Left, and the Queen, and Big Table/Patrick), so we had a sort of mini-festival within the festival too, and that's a lot of fest, and I've been to it 6 of the last 7 years so I know of what I drink. (Sad side note that luckily isn't even sadder than it is--one part of our group on its way out of the festival got rear-ended by a guy who of course got hauled away for DUI, and they are ok but not so their car, plus the years of life lost to the fear of getting DUIed themselves. People is crazy out there.)

Simply put, hot sun, lots of beer, ten tickets, go have fun. It was so good this year I skipped Russian River and Dogfish Head simply because I know their beers enough now, not that they aren't delicious. I wanted to hunt the unknown, and our merry band did just that, with sudsy abandon. It's good to have drinking friends, and I hope you all have them too (that is beyond those of you who are already my drinking friends on this blog, which might be everyone who reads it anyway. It's a small, besotted world. I love you all, and have only had one beer tonight.)

As for this year's trends, it seems brewers like this one now:
Imperial + anything that has deep roasted flavors + stout/porter

For instance there was the Pizza Port Carlsbad Night Rider Imperial Stout that one witty not-yet-that-tipsy person dubbed a "kitt" beer and then there was our last ticket, 20 seconds to last call shared beer, which was only fitting as the brewing of the beer was shared, a Ken Schmidt/Maui/Stone Kona Coffee, Macadamia, Coconut Porter. Sort of like a Hawaiian island in your mouth minus the dirt.

That said, my top 3 faves were:
1) Bear Republic Racer X
Yes, I'm a ridiculous hophead, but this double IPA is pungent while still wonderfully balanced. Not put on tap until halfway through the tasting, and they had a line the rest of the day. For very good reason.

2) Lost Abbey Angel's Share (Brandy Barrel 2009)
I like brandy. I like beer. Put them together you get this brandy-tasting beer, all oaky goodness with enough vanilla to source all the bakeries on the west coast, no doubt. Sure, you know the alcohol's there (12.5%), but you're only having a 4 oz. taster. Plus, angels would never kill you. Especially drunken angels, cause even if they tried, they'd miss. (Be sure to drink with someone expendable nearby, just in case.)

3) Craftsman Burly Barley Wine
I had to try this one as Craftsman is usually so good at the subtle stuff--their 1903 Lager got me to admit I like lager (well, their lager)-- that something with "burly" in the title intrigued. And while it might not have reached burly, it certainly was full-figured, rich in all that caramelly goodness I like in a barley wine.

If you want to see most of the list of beers, it's PDFed here. If you want ones to avoid, the stuff from Brew Dog didn't thrill, neither the Punk IPA (how could it live up to its name?) or the Paradox Isle of Arran, an imperial stout aged in whisky casks but nowhere as compelling as the Lost Abbey, say.

(2 of 31 in the drive to 2500)


Why Buy the Words When You Can Get the Blog for Free?

September 15 will be the anniversary of this here blog. I'm also 31 entries shy of entry #2500. So you know what that means--I have to have 2500 happen on September 15. And you, dear reader, will be here to witness it live. (If your monitor is equipped with neon and fireworks, you just got to enjoy something truly spectacular.)

Will the boy survive while also attempting to work a real job (in a brand spanking new building, although it's pretty big, so I'm probably not going to spank it, besides I don't know how well-behaved it is yet), and work the hobby job that means actual research and talking to people and doing something approaching journalism (figure if I get close that's better than most so-called journalists), and work the second hobby job that I'd promised to give up back before 2009 was almost 3/4 over (and how did that happen? Time you owe me one), not to mention weekend trips to Street Scene in San Diego and yet another trip to Los Angeles Disneyland of Anaheim....

Welcome, then to what's sure to pass for exciting.

And in the meantime ponder this--today I read in the LA Times about the Steely Dan Rent Party Tour and that they're performing albums in their entirety as part of it--if it was Friday it must have been Aja. Now, I'm not a Steely Dan fan, as I find them a bit too slick and polished and what I thought LA was before I moved to California so I really don't want to go back to that idea, now do I. But this did not stop the ache. I felt like I was supposed to be there. Ah, the ugliness of missing something I don't really want. Is there a name for such a malady? Can it be cured?

(1 of 31 in the drive to 2500)


Friday, August 21, 2009

The Eyes of the Couch Potato

For Dog Blog Friday: It's Stone Beer Festival Weekend, so of course Mookie is a bit blurry.


Friday Random Ten (Slightly South of SB Edition)

Syd Straw "Almost Magic" Surprise
Richard Thompson and Danny Thompson "Kitty: Tommy, Quick, Get Up, I Can Hear Clogs Goin' Up the Street; Tommy: Well Stick Mine Out and See If They'll Go with 'Em" Industry
Glenn Gould "Prelude No. 1 in C major from the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1" Thirty-two Short films about Glenn Gould
Moe Tucker "S.O.S." I Spent a Week There the Other Night
David Byrne "The Great Intoxication" Look into the Eyeball
California Guitar Trio "Presto Agitato, Moonlight Sonata" Pathways
The Handsome Family "So Long" Twilight
Brian Eno "Backwater" Before and After Science
Johnny Dowd "Vietnam" Pictures from Life's Other Side
Belle & Sebastian "Waiting for the Moon to Rise" Fold Your Hands, Child, You Walk Like a Peasant

Little Walter "Tell Me Mama" His Best

I promise, the iPod did it all by itself, finding that Byrne cut on the weekend that I'm in San Diego for tomorrow's Stone Beer Festival. Music just knows, folks. Otherwise, this list is next to eclectic in the dictionary.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

On Another Trip around the Sun

As we continue music week at INOTBB, long-time readers know I still put together a mixed cassette, yes, that funny plastic thing with tape in it, for my birthday. Although I rarely do it around my birthday--this year it only took 5 extra months, which still beats last year, so either I'm getting quicker as I get older or I have less to do. Or I'm more willing not to do something I should be doing. (I'm clearly just as decisive about my personal mien.)

I Ache in the Places That I Used to Play

side A
Neko Case "Animal"
Marshall Crenshaw "Passing Through"
Leonard Cohen "Tower of Song" (live)
Stars "Going, Going, Gone"
Shannon McArdle "Poison Cup"
Regina Spektor "Eet"
The Bird and the Bee "Birthday"
The Pipettes "Because It's Not Love (But It's Still a Feeling)"
Detroit Cobras "As Long as I Have You"
Jenny Owen Youngs "Hot in Herre"
David Byrne/Brian Eno "Wanted for Life"
Crooked Fingers "Your Control"

side B
Bishop Allen "The Ancient Common Sense of Things"
Earl Greyhound "It's Over"
Portastatic "Through with People"
John Cooper Clarke "I Don't Want to Be Nice"
The Wombats "Let's Dance to Joy Division"
Los Campesinos! "Miserabilia"
Okkervil River "Pop Lie"
Nick Cave the Bad Seeds "Lie Down Here (and Be My Girl)"
Rhett Miller" Happy Birthday Don't Die"
The Baseball Project "Past Time"
A.C. Newman "The Heartbreak Rides"
Dent May and His Magnificent Ukulele "College Town Boy"
Nick Lowe "Nutted by Reality"

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I Don't Know What's Up Ahead, Think Too Much You'll Hurt Your Head

Felt like at the least I owed you more videos to go with the mixed tape. Piano solo orgasms optional.

(Docked a notch for never showing Ribot during his solo.)


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It's Not the Question, It's Who You Ask

OK. Had a productive week last week and people said nice thing and now I'm a slacker. Sorry. Did have to crank out 3500 words this week for people who nomnially pay me for it, so it's harder to do this too.

Which means today, we look at a blast from the past, a mixed tape from April 1991 that still plays. Which is a good thing, as I like it. A bunch. Name the song this post's title is from and you win a kewpie doll (it is summer fair time, isn't it?).

A Full Moon, an Empty Glass, and You

side A
Golden Palominos "(Kind of) True"
Spanic Boys "Keep on Walking"
The Replacements "I Will Dare"
Gang of Four "We Live as We Dream, Alone"
Nick Lowe "I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass"
The The "Uncertain Smile"
Lightning Seeds "All I Want"
Graham Parker "And It Shook Me"
Schramms "The Way Some People Die"
Velvet Underground "Beginning to See the Light"
Feelies "Sooner or Later"

side B
Pete Hammill "Sitting Targets"
Blackgirls "A Visit to the the Behaviorist"
Billy Bragg "Tank Park Salute"
The Mekons "Wild and Blue"
Rain Tree Crow "Blackwater"
Tom Waits "Clap Hands"
Garland Jeffreys "35mm Dreams"
Elvis Costello "Blue Chair"
The Chills "Tied Up in Chains"
John Wesley Harding "The World and All Its Problems"
X "The World's a Mess It's in My Kiss"
Flamin Groovies "Shake Some Action"

Nice, no? And why aren't the Lightning Seeds available on iTunes? (I have that album on cassette only.) Plus, listening to this reminded me once again that the Jools Holland piano solo on "Uncertain Smile" is the closest thing to recorded orgasm (you can keep your "Bolero"--way too steady for a truly good, spontaneous time). There's no good live version of the band doing it with Jools, but here's a YouTube with the audio, if you've never heard it. Have your cigarette at hand for the finish.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

That's When I Reach for My First Amendment

Time for some true confessions...last weekend at those Mets-Padres games, to be sure I was in the tenor of the times (as being in the soprano of the times would have meant a few more kicks to my groin from my father-in-law), I brought a gun. Of course I didn't conceal it, anymore than I'd conceal my Mets cap or Mr. Met t-shirt. After all, it's part of my First Amendment rights to express myself, and if I happen to like to express myself with a gun, well, that's just America, isn't it?

In fact, by using the Second Amendment to use the First Amendment, I've got like 20% of the Bill of Rights covered. It makes me even more of an American to use the Constitution in this way.

Say the Padres score more runs than the Mets. (Not that the Mets ever get beat.) I could just shout my displeasure, or I could say that the tree of Padres rooting must be watered with the blood of Padres fans every now and then (good thing for the Padres, they don't have too many fans). That's just Jeffersonian. For I really can only express myself with the help of my friends Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson.


Monday, August 17, 2009

How Furlough Can You Go?

What's the problem with the UC? It's trying to be a corporation. And we know how well they've been doing of late. Or perhaps I should say how well the average worker at one has done of late.

Want the details? Go read the highly informative Changing Universities blog. And yes, I do know the author Bob Samuels and like him, even if he's a Yankees fan--guess he has to root for the overdog somewhere.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Like a Sturgeon

So I didn't write about the second Hollister Beer Dinner six weeks ago, not because it wasn't great, but because I didn't want to seem like someone, after going on and on about the first one, who felt he wasn't fit to touch the hem of Dylan Fultineer's apron. I mean, too much praise is bad for anyone. But that means I can write about the third one that happened this past Wednesday night, an all-seafood fest that might have been the best of all (so far--no doubt Fultineer and brewer Eric Rose will top themselves again next time).

This go-round we even got 5 courses, and not just four and a welcome beer, as the evening kicked off with oysters and a vibrant champagne mignonette. And, as you know, oysters are aphrodisiacs, for I certainly loved the rest of the meal. If you're looking for a perfect bivalve, turns out Beausoleils from New Brunswick (Canada, not New Jersey, of course) will certainly do the trick. Alongside the oysters we enjoyed Sands Session Cream Ale, itself sharing that smooth champagne mouth feel, but it is not the Champagne of Beers as that is copyrighted and sucks besides.

We moved from the northern Atlantic to very close to home for the next two courses. A local halibut was served ceviche-style--we later learned it just got a quick shot of lime juice and a bit of that Cream Ale (there were a bunch of clever course to course bridges like that, those sneaky devils) and then set off with an unlikely yet brilliant mix of Tom's Shepherd's ambrosia melon sliced very thin, vivid watermelon radishes, also thin, watercress, and sesame seed cracker. Turns out halibut makes a fine sub in for something hammy in the old melon and prosciutto pair that underlines, as ever, you need some salt with your sweet (just wait till we get to dessert). Then there was the radish-y crunch, the cress's pepper. Ah, it was a fine plate of goodness that only made the delicate fresh halibut halibutier. That came with the Fairview Farmhouse that again provided just the right lift. Next time you think you must pinot grigio just say no for beer is the way to go.

Course three featured beer in prep and alongside, different brews, though. Local mussels, just the right, small, flavor-packed, untough size (keep those ginormous green-lippers away from my bowl), were braised in the Belgian Country Pale, and served alongside toasted ciabatta slathered with a house-made harissa aioli. I am dreaming of how to live in a giant bowl of these for a weekend someday. Rose and Fultineer thought they'd serve this with the beer they cooked with, but it turns out that was just too much, too bitter. So, instead, they went with the softer Hollister Hefeweizen, which I admit I don't drink much, but it transformed to something elegant and apt after the first mussel was consumed. This pairing thing is sort of a science, after all.

The fourth course was a true treat, sturgeon. I'm a huge fan of this fish, although I don't get it much beyond at Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino, where I eat maybe every 4 years if I'm lucky. Full of flavor and texture, it's a bit like swordfish without that density and those icky worms Tony Bourdain warned us all about. Fultineer wood grilled it (some oak, some apple) with a micro-crust of toasted Marcona almonds and evidently a lot of smashed anchovy and then set it in a plate of perfection--both slow-cooked romano beans and Hilltop & Canyon shell beans and a sofrito of cooked down deliciousness starting with smoked peppers and tomatoes from Windrose Farm. There was many a request for bread to sop up every last sofrito drop. Along with this killer course we had an Irish Red, itself a bit smoky like the grilled fish, itself full of flavors and notes like that sofrito. Sure, it would have been very good by itself. But why?

And then onto dessert, as if we weren't all stuffed to the gills already. (Get it? A seafood dinner?) Not that anyone didn't finish dessert, though. It began with an olive oil cake that made me kick myself for never trying to make that one in the Babbo Cookbook. Moistness, thy name is olive oil cake. Atop that was a creme fraiche ice cream, just tart enough. And atop that was, of all things, American sturgeon caviar. (Which came first, the sturgeon or the roe? Now we know.) The exploding salt inevitable of the caviar against the sweet, but not too, of the creme fraiche, all in icy, creamy loveliness. And then the cake. Washing that down was a 540 Apricot Wheat, again, with just enough fruit to add a dimension and not overpower.

Afterward our group opted to try to go look at the Perseids, and while we saw some, the best stars of the evening were clearly at Hollister.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Comic or Biography? You Decide

At work we're moving into a brand new building--George scores an actual room, like with walls and doors! that is a room, isn't it?--so I had to pack up, which means I had to toss a whole bunch of stuff and then spend too much time going "oh, is that where that was?" This Ward Sutton comic is one of those. (Touch it and it gets bigger.)


My Dogs Are Like Me--They Like to Drink

For Dog Blog Friday: there's nothing like the wild gathering at the old watering hole.


Friday Random Ten

Les Georges Leningrad "Track Georges Five" Post Punk: Rough Trade Shops
Peter Case "Spell of Wheels" Full Service No Waiting
The Dandy Warhols "Sleep" Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia
Guster "Ruby Falls" Ganging Up on the Sun
Yo La Tengo "Deeper into Movies" (acoustic) Matador at Fifteen
Beck "Ramshackle" Odelay
Luna "Slide" Lunapark
Matthew Sweet "Future Shock" In Reverse
The Jayhawks "The Last to Know" Por Vida: A Tribute to the Songs of Alejandro Escovedo
Mirah "Telephone Wires" You Think It's Like This But It's Really Like This

Roxy Music "Editions of You" For Your Pleasure

Well this week had me worried till YLT showed up, kicked into a fine threesome, and you can't go wrong with "boys will be boys will be boy-oy-oys...." and some untramelled Eno to close.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes

Several of us got together last night to try to watch the Perseids, and we saw some some, but when I hear 200 meteors an hour, I expect a Vegas in the skies. So, as with so much, I'm disappointed. But I have a history of that, and decided to fish out a poem from probably 16 years ago. Be kind to this poem--it's just getting its driver's permit.


And the lawn chairs, their tang,
their metal frames, soon fall.
But first, the clouds the meteors
could barely break through.
The clouds hid the showers.
We saw some, yes, like
the lights of planes’ tails
on trips only from sky to sky,
like clear nights above O’Hare,
and all arrivals dropping from radar.
If I couldn’t confirm a sighting
with another party-goer
it seemed unreal, everyone’s peripheries
linked like Venn Diagrams,
as letters on the blackboard of night
chalked and furiously fell.

Left, then.
The others uncocked their necks
and eyed a mid-evening brunch
of shrimp and grits and talked
and ate and were friends there.

Layne and I went wanting, still,
off to a bar where the too old
drink, cheaply, steady as breath.
In three days he would load
a truck and take his family south;
he’d landed a job he wanted
in the way want can be lots of talk
and even more need. But now,
that night the stars fell unseen,
that night we would weave boozily home
to women in beds with space for us,
we drank, wanting to want. How
silly, how much. How many women,
and just each one had her two eyes,
two arms, two breasts, hundreds
of hairs, thousands of things
close to her heart, her heart.
We lapped in beauty like the creamy nights
of sky the country offers, the Milky Way
a pepetual retch of starry, stretched effluent.
Why make grand this lust for beauty?
To just plain want--it’s nothing pretty.

Still dressed for the heat of the day
Layne wore shorts and stood,
when a woman began to rub his legs,
petting him down like a dog.
They called her the Uni-Witch for she gave
customers grief with their change,
came to the bar nightly with Women Who Run
with the Wolves
, which she carried like a purse,
and never read. Want has a way
of saying both no and yes.
And Layne’s eyes, which should have been lit,
asked why of all of us, wanting
want, just once, to be as clear
as gin, as easy to order and down
and pay for. Instead, want impinges
like meteor showers, for no reason,
for nobody, everywhere, unseen.
Both noun and verb, it is our sentence,
our life, our hope, our jail, our criminal, our crime.


So Little Time and So Little to Do

Friday is, sadly, the 37th anniversary of the passing of one of the wickedest wits of the west--Oscar Levant. Piano-playing pal of the Gershwins, wise-cracking sidekick to Gene Kelly in An American in Paris and Fred Astaire in The Band Wagon, Levant said lines like, "“A pun is the lowest form of humor--when you don't think of it first,” and therefore is sort of an idol of mine. How can one forget his cameo in The Cobweb as a psychiatric patient in a straitjacket singing "Mother"? Here are some other choice Levant quotes:

"The only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats allow the poor to be corrupt, too."
“I'm a study of a man in chaos in search of frenzy.”
“Underneath this flabby exterior is an enormous lack of character.”
"What the world needs is more geniuses with humility, there are so few of us left."
"I only make jokes when I am feeling insecure."
“I envy people who drink--at least they know what to blame everything on.”

Following from that last quote, here's a clip from The Band Wagon that occurs after the initial show they're trying to put on is a huge disaster. There's not a ton of Levant, but the song 2 minutes in is one of my favorites from the Hollywood musical canon, as light on its feet as Astaire himself.

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Watching, Watching Out

The John Hughes lovefest has me thinking and rethinking, making my own secret history of the 1980s. For those of us who don't care to sup at the nostalgic breakfast club, there are other things to recall, like this, which is very very '80s and still totally wonderful. How can you go wrong with a band featuring Adrian Belew and David van Tieghem, one of the coolest men in the world? (Get him a Dos XX commercial!) And why did Anderson have to give up on song so much? Oh well.

Or, for something of a different funk, there's this blast from Ryuichi Sakamoto, that's both silly and hot all at the same time. (That might be my goal in life, now that I think about it. And I didn't say I achieved my goal, so no snide comments.)

Thank god for mixed tapes and my car old enough to still play them. For there's also this, a great pop song from Joan Armatrading, who, alas, mostly exists for me as a PiT--that is pre-iTunes, only on vinyl, disappearing from musical memory. Damn digital. This video couldn't be more '80s, and there's something sad that the "story" has to have white people star in it, as if Joan is too scary. (Or perhaps too lesbian, but she's never quite come out, so who am I to poke around in her closet.) Nonetheless, this song is why I cannot believe in Top 40 (does that term mean anything anymore?)--how something this catchy was not a monster hit I'll never know. I'm ever left alone in my home of non-popular taste.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ah! Literation

The AP just ran the headline:

Activists, actors, athletics honored by Obama

Which makes me think next week we'll see the headline "Brewers, bakers, basketmakers honored by Obama." In 24 weeks the suspense will be fierce when we find out if X, Y, and Z get their own weeks or have to share ("Xeroxers, Yachtsmen, and Zoologists honored by Obama").

Actually, if you read the article, you find out that scientists and humanitarians are also honored. Note they don't get to make the A-list, pun intended--sort of like The Professor and Mary Anne when they were just "the rest." Mary Anne was too a humanitarian.

Of course, the list is the usual grab bag of honorable note-worthies, from John and Kate (who thankfully didn't have to share an award, and yes, John had his impregnated by the end of the ceremony) to Michael Bay, as this is summer, after all, and the White House felt it necessary to award his amazing ability to take a cartoon, about toys, and make it seem even dumber than a cartoon or toys. Twice.

Seriously, the list, while a bit more consciously conscientious than say a Bush White House Presidential Medal of Freedom group--Bishop Tutu, Joseph Lowery, Sidney Poitier, Billie Jean King, Edward Kennedy--also featured Sandra Day O'Connor and Jack Kemp for that proper right wing balance. ("See," Obama says. "I'm not a socialist after all!")

Finally in addition to the posthumous award to Kemp, one went to Harvey Milk. For even the Obama White House thinks its safest to honor dead gay activists--a live one might ask about over-turning DOMA or something.

And the AP ignored even listing the other 8 winners, thereby doing good things like ignoring women's health issues, just like most research organizations (Nancy Goodman Brinker, founder of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, got one); ignoring people with Muslim names who help the poor (Muhammad Yunus); and, perhaps most importantly, not getting dragged into the "is Stephen Hawking really British and how did their socialist medicine allow him to live?" brouhaha.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Jeff Francouery Sullivan!

That's what happens if you see the 2009 NY Mets two games in a row: everything becomes a bit of a word game. After all, you won't have to worry too much about things like, oh, scoring to get in the way of your enjoyment. Amy's folks kindly bought us tickets to see the Mets at Petco both this Saturday and Sunday, and despite the doldrumy Metsness that is a team missing 3 of its 4 best hitters (and best hitter #4 went 0 for the two games), we had a great time. And my father-in-law only kicked me in the nuts once. Therefore I have this advice, offered in my new high-pitched whine: Don't ever try to pick up the check when Larry's around, folks.

We got there a bit late Saturday night, delayed by the goodness that is O'Brien's, the place with the oddest pleather green chairs and the yummiest of beer lists. They were celebrating Alpine Beer Company, so had 7 varieties on tap, and I got to drink a homer short of a cycle: an Alpine Duet IPA, an Alpine Bad Boy, and an Alpine Exponential Hoppiness (it is). That's a single, double, and triple IPA, in order. The Expo is fiercely hoppy and I wish I had one right now. Of course, getting there late means we missed the Alex Cora homer, the only run the Mets would tally for the evening. Instead we got to enjoy the rookie stylings of the very talented Mat Latos (gotta love that missing "t" that led me to heckle, "is that like welcome mat?"). He does this funny bit in his motion where it looks like he sticks the ball in his back pocket. Clearly, he kept the Mets off balance all night. And then Heath Bell came in, got the save, and I turned Padre fan, as Bell is on my fantasy time. Yes, I'm that kind of fan.

Sunday was mighty warm for San Diego, especially in the terrific behind the plate about 10 rows seats Larry got us. (I didn't even offer to pay for these, figuring they cost so much he'd probably have to kick me in the nuts 10 times to stop me from doing that.) It looked like this, only closer, and in 3-D, but my blog doesn't have the java script for that yet, sorry.

Here we see pre-game David Wright warming up with the traditional "Peg the Friar" toss. True to his weekend, he missed. (OK, he played good D both games, but hit nothing, ending Sunday, in fact with a dramatic 6-3 double play to close his 0 for 5 day).

Right here you can see Wright giving strike 3 a really good look.

The best part, though, was I finally got to see Johan Santana pitch live. And live he is. (We're all allowed a man crush or two, right?) He also pitched the classic Johan game of late, not too many strike outs, but practically nothing but strikes. He didn't throw his 10th ball until his 40th pitch. He just had excellent location and kept the Padre line-up, which, truth be told, is about as pitiful as the Mets', guessing. Here he is delivering a pitch as shortstop Anderson Hernandez practices his look for that bad hop he's sure will happen soon.

Mets won Sunday, 5-1, with Johan even going 2-3 with a walk, run, and RBI. Good thing he gets paid so much.

My Mets stats for the year: Overall 2-2. Home 1-0. Road 1-2. Keeping score 2-0. So I guess I gotta keep doing that. I didn't know the team cared.

P.S. It's fun, if theologically confusing, to shout "Angel Pagan" at the top of one's lungs.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Play Doe

It's a silly game, but I'm a silly man, so I'll play it--if Costello is my generation's* Dylan, then John Doe is my generation's Mick Jagger. I have to admit I like this comparison even more as it makes Exene Cervenka my generation's Keith Richards (not to mention DJ Bonebrake our Charlie Watts, and how cool is that--two drummers so seemingly simple yet crucial), but I think it mostly works, beyond I want to assume Jagger has become more or less a pampered dick over the years and Doe still seems like salt of the earth, but then again, pick the worst Rolling Stones seller and it probably moved more units than the entire X/Doe/Knitters catalog. Fame and money can curdle anyone, no doubt.

But Doe is our sexiest punk symbol--let's face it, he's one good looking guy--and while he doesn't preen in a Jagger way, he's certainly the star when he's on stage. As a child of punk he couldn't be too much a cock-rocker as that over-sold excess was the very thing against which punk rebelled, but there's just a pleasure in his performance that's distinctly sexual (gee, who would have guessed--it's rock n roll). And while X channeled punk's vim and venom (see "When Our Love Passed Out on the Couch" as just one edgy example), they always had that sense not all of the past was worth detonating, from asking Ray Manzarek to produce to Billy Zoom's rockabilly runs.

This intro is a fancy way to get into John Doe's show at SOhO last Wednesday night, with Canadian wonders the Sadies as his support. Doe and the Sadies were out flogging their new CD Country Club, and the title is all too apt, as while they unearth some amazing country nuggets, they take a pleasing club to all the tunes, especially live (yes, another case of good CD, great show). As the say on the Yep Roc website, we're talking Bakersfield country, not Nashville, outlaws versus string sections. We're talking songs like "The Cold Hard Facts of Life," made famous by Porter Wagoner, that involves a husband coming home a day early from a trip to surprise his wife, but even bigger surprises are in store (you can figure it out--you've heard country songs before).

So in addition to Doe and his wonderful, totally lived in voice, there were the Sadies, a band that could make anyone fearsome (which is why folks as brilliant as Jon Langford and Neko Case collaborate with them). Dallas Good even has this scary visual thing going on--imagine Nick Cave mixed with something from a Tim Burton stop-action animation film. He's an ace guitarist, though, and when he and his equally talented brother Travis Good get going, it's clear the sibling thing has some magic. For instance, when the group did a rollicking cover of X's "The New World," the closing instrumental section slowly seemed to pull apart--the two guitarists taking their leads into different zones, opening the song into a wondrous, suck the audience in hole. It was double plus-Good, you might say.

And, yes, of course the X-related material got me the most, despite how groovy the entire show was. In addition to "New World" there was the appropriately bar-set "The Have Nots"--and how creepy is it that all the economic pessimism and class concerns from songs in the early '80s are totally on the mark again today?--and they closed with a final encore of "Call of the Wrecking Ball," the silly but over-powering Knitters tune about stomping on chickens. But stomp the song did, a crazy brilliant mess of music that stomped over lines like rock and country and proved the goal is to just move you. And lord knows Doe and the Sadies did.

*"My generation" definition: anyone who couldn 't have possibly really got Dylan prior to his release of Blood on the Tracks, and even then, at least in my case, I would have had to have been one mighty bright--and I wasn't--12-year-old.

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Sunday, August 09, 2009

Like I Always Knew Somebody Should

Happy 12th anniversary, Amy! Brought along some friends to sing to you...


Friday, August 07, 2009

These Cars Collide

So John Hughes dies the same week I've been thinking about him because of a CD I bought in New York, and it's all Martin Hannett's fault. Not that enough people know who Hannett was, dead in 1991, at the age of 42, so if you want to talk loss, lets start there. Hannett produced records like no one's business, and I mean that in every way possible, and if you want the survey course there's no better place to start than the anthology I bought in NY: Zero: A Martin Hannett Story 1977-1991. If you want the grad school seminar, you have to listen to Joy Division, but we'll get to that in a bit. Got to walk before you can mope with an existential angst you can feel.

Hannett seemed to have his hand in on everything musically interesting from 1976-1981, even though he got more hands on as that time went by. For instance, it doesn't seem like he diddled the old knobs a lot for Spiral Scratch, the legendary Buzzcocks first ep and the third punk item ever committed to vinyl. But he was there for it, when Shelley and Devoto tried to share a band, when the best song was "Boredom," the best line was "I've seen the movie but it doesn't move me," and the best guitar solo, ever, was just two notes.

But there's more--the brilliant soundscapes he helped play as well as produce that turned irascible John Cooper Clark into something musical; the first U2 single, "11 o'clock Tick-Tock," before the Dublin messiah starting scattering crumbs (spot the Mekons allusion!); making OMD too bouncy even for them on their first single "Electricity" (and of course he was right); the dreaminess of The Durutti Column; you just need to get the disc.

Then there was this--I forgot, assuming I knew, that he produced the original version of the Psychedelic Furs' "Pretty in Pink." Hadn't listened to the song in years, although I liked the band enough in its day, and upon hearing it couldn't but help wonder: How did those lyrics get to a teen romp with Molly Ringwald? "The one who insists he was the first in the line is the last to remember her name"? Not to mention Richard Butler's insinuating "isn't she?"s [now that's a call to the proofreader] that question "pretty" on more or less an ontological level.

Alas, and this is where I speak ill of the dead, bastard that I am, it's little surprise John Hughes might be tone deaf to that sort of thing. We're talking about the man who killed whatever was good about Simple Minds (young, romantic me adored New Gold Dream) by making them record a Keith Forsey song, which, of course, the public loved, so they kept chasing after dreck. I would argue, further, that The Breakfast Club is so utterly phony that Holden Caulfield would let the entire group go pell-mell over the cliff with nary a thought. But that's a different essay.

Suffice to say, the Furs re-recorded "Pretty in Pink" to make it less Hannett-esque for the Hughes' film. Call it "Prettified in Pink." Less psychedelic, more fur. Probably fake fur, though, so as not to disturb milder sensibilities.

This kind of thing bothers me, and I wish it bothered more others, too, the notion there are things we can't expect people to put up with. Edge. Difficulty. Dissonance. Fur and blood and bone. Well, I didn't mean to go all high moral dudgeon when I started this so I'll just move into the Joy Division portion of the program. What Hannett did to the band was open it up, let us peer into the songs longer than we might have otherwise if they just played them straight. Yes, Ian Curtis was the tortured talented soul at the center, but the echoey chambers Hannett helped build made the soul all the more haunted. Closer, in particular, is the most ghostly record ever, even without Curtis's suicide.

The oddest thing, though, is while Joy Division meant so much to me when it was released, I guess I'm a different me now. As a desperately poetically sensitive 18-year-old Joy Division gave me access to a despair I don't feel I have the privilege to wallow in as an adult. That's not to say that despair wasn't real--Hannett made sure of that. The thrill of Joy Division is the challenge--can you take it? Do you want to recognize it brings you to a place that already was in you?

So John Hughes? I'm sorry he's dead, but meh. I still want to lament Martin Hannett.

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Candy Is Dandy but a Lick Is Quicker

For Dog Blog Friday: This week on Greyhound Chiller Theater--Nigel, the Tongue, in 3D.


Fiesta Friday Random Ten

Elliott Smith "Pretty Mary K" Figure 8
Elvis Costello "When Green Eyes Turn Blue" North
Joe Henry "Animal Skin" Tiny Voices
The Mad Lads "The Side Walk Surf" The Complete Stax/Volt Singles: 1959-1968
Paul Westerberg "Fugitive Kind" Suicaine Gratifaction
The Magnetic Fields "Queen of the Savages" 69 Love Songs
Simon Joyner & the Fallen Men "You Don't Know Me" Skeleton Blues
Charlie King "Step into the Holy Circle" Inside Out
Archers of Loaf "Bumpo" All the Nation's Airports
Les Negresses Vertes "Car C'est Un Blouze" Famille Nombreuse

Giant Sand "Overture" Chore of Enchantment

Here's hoping the weekend is better than this list.


Thursday, August 06, 2009

Putting the Moran in Oxymoron

Here's your crazy rightwing in a nut--emphasis nut--shell: If you don't allow us to disrupt town halls meant to discuss health care, you are denying us our First Amendment rights to free speech.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A Tale of Three Citis

Shea was a hole but it was our hole, perfect for any Mets fan's inferiority complex where the g-d Yankees get to be "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia" and Mets fans get to be Jan, a middle child sort of thing, not so unfortunate as the Cubs, say, or post-Bonds vintage Pirates, just painfully bad enough generally at the most painful moments (see season's end 2007, 2008).

Of course, that doesn't mean I didn't get excited about going to see the Mets in Citi Field--after all, I made sure it was something happening in a mere week-long trip to see my family. So after trying to decipher the 40 jillion or so ticket options--whatever happened to the ease of field, loge, mezzanine, and upper deck? is simplicity in seating too 20th century?--and forking out $75 a ticket, and getting to NJ, and then getting to Queens, we got to see this through all the parking for people who paid more than the $18 we did:

It is sort of thrilling in its bricky massiveness. It's supposed to mimic Ebbets Field, so being connected to old NY is cool enough, and then there's the Jackie Robinson Rotunda to enter through. Why not? After all, the man did usher in real baseball, that is, a game where anyone can play (even in Boston, eventually). Sure, he wasn't a Met, but we're all Jackie Robinson. I still think there should be a statue and not just videos and the big blue 42, since baseball is a statue kind of sport, and not just because of the speed of play. It's about classicism, after all.

There's a huge shop off the rotunda that my niece appreciated. Glad to see you can stil get Gooden and Strawberry shirts, too, proving the only real baseball sin is steroids.

As frequent readers know, my prefered sin is food, so we headed to the Taste of the City area behind CF (well, after watching a bit of BP and realizing that even using my 10-year-old niece as bait, I wasn't going to get a ball, no matter how much we flattered Brian Stokes). I'd done my reading up--what's the internets for?--so we hit the Shake Shack just before it got shaking. Darn good burger that looks like one from fast food but actually has flavor. There's real beef in there, and it doesn't taste boiled. The accouterments are all fresh, too. Quite nice. Also got some fries from Box Frites, and they stayed tasty and toasty to the bottom of the large serving (which it better be for $6.50--it cost the same as the burger, which means potatoes are getting over their inferiority complex). The smoked bacon dipping sauce lived up to its name, if I typed its name SMOKED BACON. The Brooklyn Brewery beer from Shake Shack was pleasantly ale-y. Plus, the old NYC skyline that used to be at Shea crowns the area. I was pre-game pleased.

So we go to our seats. Exclesior section, down the third base line. You lose a bit of the leftfield corner, but that just means at times it's hard to see Mets starting leftfielder Cory Sullivan. And why, yes, I did know who he was--I play fantasy, remember? There are lots of TV screens to watch, too, though, and I'm still not sure about that. Too easy to be distracted by pixels and ignore people. My god, we've been trained.

This is where the pictures run out and an old friend shows up, John from State College days, who I hadn't seen in at least 4 years. We did a big baseball trip years ago, cut our fantasy baseball teeth in the same league, and have the habit of drinking together as if we hoped the young Tom Waits would write a song about us. He gets to the park from work about a half hour before game time so we go to find a drink, and there's beer, but then there's a bar! Right there in the concourse, field one direction, windows with the Manhattan skyline the other. Clearly it was meant to be. Always good to see, and drink with, an old friend.

As for the game, something was wrong that night in Queens--the Mets won! It was the fourth in a row at the time, against a team relatively hot coming in, the Rockies. Lots of good D helped--seemed like there was a double play any time Pelfrey needed one. We also got to see the Citi Field dilemma, AKA home is where the home runs aren't. At one point David Wright totally smoked one to center, a good 408 feet away. However, in the centerest of center Citi Field's wall gets taller, as it hides where the Big Apple rises out of the top hat to celebrate a four-bagger. Which means, yes, the only thing that stopped Wright from hitting a homer was the thing that would celebrate his hitting a homer.

Final score, 4-0.

But better than that--new park, old friend, family at peace. Even my niece, at her first baseball game, didn't get the fifth-inning-antsies I was sure would happen. I guess it hit her the game was a place she could shout as loud as possible and actually be socially accepted (I hope my sister doesn't rent her out to Republicans to bust health care townhalls). The next day she said she wanted to have her birthday in September at Citi Field. And she wanted a David Wright shirt--he gets all the young ladies, doesn't he.

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Stick a Pork in Him, He's Not Done

Some folks would just write about going to see their first game at Citi Field, while others complicate it. I'm very other.

So, in the meantime, here's this:

The Good
Bourbon brown sugar BBQ baby back pork ribs in the slow cooker.

The Ugly
Buying Sonic Youth tickets for the 9/26 Arlington show--somehow I have never seen them live (well, there goes my indie cred)--only to find out that the final TicketAss-ter price for two $30 tickets is $90.55. Yes, it's a buy 3 get 2 sale. And you can't even work around the bastards. Forget about health care reform, let's have ticket sale reform.

The Lazy


Monday, August 03, 2009

Do You Come to This Blog Orphan?

The Christian American Carwash Association (CACA) has called for a boycott of the film The Final Destination 3D and sent a letter of protest, co-signed by leaders of nearly a dozen car wash groups, to the film's distributor, New Line. CACA has expressed concern over FD3D, an upcoming horror movie featuring a murderous carwash.

CACA has some high-powered allies on Capitol Hill. In a letter to the New Line CEO, Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and James Inhofe, R-Okla., and Reps. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., John Boozman, R-Ark., and Danny Davis, D-Ill., wrote that the film’s depiction of carwashes was inaccurate and destructive. They also insisted that global warming was a hoax and President Obama is not a U.S. citizen.

Bachmann said, "Movies are totally believable as they're so big and you see them and this one's even in three dimensions, which I'm pretty sure is the same as life. Especially during the busy summer season it would be too great a burden for the carwash industry--which is crucial to America's economic recovery, or so Jesus told me--for people to be thinking they will at first seem to drown and then get decapitated by the high-powered dryer if they get their car washed."

In other news, Iowa Congressman Steve King was about to protest not only not being included with the other brightest bulbs in government, but also the DVD release of the 25th anniversary edition of Leprechaun. King said, "See, I do care about colored people. Plus I don't want to be the one who didn't fight for Lucky Charms."

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