Thursday, October 30, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Field of streams

The many great shots from my snazzy new Canon PowerSnot ZPL-X9000-blue 28! blue 28!-hut-hut-hut! camera will have to wait for my computer to get a post-millennial software upgrade, but for the few people in the Western hemisphere whom I haven't told, I went to all three World Series games in Philadelphia, via the broheim's score of a lifetime. Well, two and a half games, for the moment; anyone even remotely interested in baseball knows about the mind-bogglingly horseshit decision by commisioner Bud Selig to play through the worst conditions anyone can remember seeing or even hearing about at a baseball game. No doubt Bud was in thrall to his TV overlords, who surely would've preferred Red Sox–Dodgers (understood) but given Phillies-Rays are likely at least praying for more than five games, and for a few to be completed on the day they begin. So when Bud allowed game 5 to slosh on even as Jimmy Rollins, possibly the top defensive shortstop in baseball, couldn't field first a pop-up and then a grounder, and the Rays splashed in the tying runs, the crowd turned on him. It was ugly, as anything involving Bud Selig's face would necessarily be.

Not only is he a member of the jowls-of-the-month club, he's also the commissioner

From our nearby perch we had a clear view of it all: For most of the game, the two sections in front of the commish's box chanted, "Let Pete in!" (On this I have to say I agree with Bud; Rose bet on baseball while he managed a baseball team. But also: who really gives a shit?) As the rain kept on soaking the field and players, and the temperature dropped, and the winds howled—and well known to Bud, Channel 6 Action News and Jeffrey Doppler was that it would not let up for 24-36 hours (despite Bud's claim otherwise)—the Rays doinked their way out of an early 2-0 deficit, through no real fault of Cole Hamels. By this point, the crowd had turned to, and on, Selig, screaming at him to halt the game. Bud gazed back, expressionless, turning half of Section 231 to stone in the process. Someone in our immediate vicinity paired his yelling with a finger-across-throat sign, which was probably meant as "stop the game already!" but which may have been interpreted as, "We'd kill you if we could." An unfortunate misunderstanding under heated (though freezing) conditions.

The game will be picked up tonight in the bottom of the 6th; if Bud didn't have his head up his ass—sudden thought: looking at that head, might it really be his ass?—it'd be top of the 5th (or earlier) and the Phils would be up 2-0 or 2-1. (Special notice to Rays' starter Scott Kazmir, who looked rattled after giving up a pair in the 1st—pre-soaking—and then proved his mettle by settling down till things had to be stopped. After all, it was just as cold for his team; ours just got stuck with playing the field when said field became totally unplayable.)

But I'm a Philadelphia sports fan, so I knew that however it was gonna go, it probably wouldn't be pretty. With the best seat I've had for anything since camping out for U2 in ’83 (got front row), I have no choice: I am happily returning to arschkalte (but by then, most likely dry) Philly for the rest of game 5. To say it's worth the effort is the understatement of my life to date. If the Phils win it all tonight, I promise all of America a free Taco Bell taco, during a three-hour window TBA. You're welcome.

A few things I learned while in the heated portion of Citizens Bank Park:
—Henry Aaron oozes dignity in person, even from behind, even if it might not have been him
—the Inquirer's John "Gonzo" Gonzalez looks like that nephew you really like and dresses like a regular schlub on gamedays
George Will eats his ballpark hot dogs like most everyone else: mit kraut, with his hands and like a hungry mofo
—free pizza is still always good

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Chris Brokaw, Union Hall, Brooklyn, 10/22/08

What's worth leaving a comfy sofa in a warm apartment with a flickering TV showing the good guys with an early two-run lead in game 1 of the World Series (see below) on a chilly night to go deep into Brooklyn for? This guy.

About 25 blessedly quiet people witnessed a too-rare solo acoustic gig by Chris Brokaw, an absolute favorite. Brokaw mixed songs and instrumentals from (mostly) Incredible Love, Red Cities (coupla free songs at that link) and his evocative new acoustic album, Canaris.

Like most great artists, Brokaw's skill lies in communicating bracingly real emotions, even when (sometimes especially if) going without his fine/sand vocals. And what he's transmitting is quintessentially American: Unfurling Canaris's most astonishing piece, the 12-minute-plus "Drink the Poetry of (the) Celtic Disciple," Brokaw, strumming and picking, broke into fleet chords that conjured thoughts of a new lover reaching for your hand and pulling you gleefully into a sublime pastoral, racing through field and wood, pausing, opening into clearings, running not for your life but just for life, all of it existing more in some collective memory than in our actual lives (mine, at least). My scholarship on Charles Ives is a bit thin so I'm speaking out of turn, but—that. The composer's same power to make you dream of American space, real and mythic and blurred together.

By the way, the aforementioned "Drink the Poetry…"? It's a cover—of a French black-metal band from the ’90s called Vlad Tepes, who were (duh) part of a collective known as the Black Legions. So in addition to all the above, it appears that advanced alchemy is also in Brokaw's quiver.

Steady as they go

Cole, calm, contained. Plenty of work left. Note the dirt on Pat Burrell's leg—who knew they used real dirt at the Trop?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

John McCain: Is he really the terrorists' choice?

Here in the real America—New York City, which was attacked on September 11, 2001, at which time Sarah Palin's husband was a member of a political party that advocated seceding from the United States—we're constantly reminded to be on the lookout for possible terrorist activity. One tell-tale sign to watch for is people behaving erratically.

McCain: This is how I go when I go like this

Now, one photo of McCain attempting to…well, who the fuck knows what he's doing there. Plant a Koran in Obama's suitpocket? But now we have real confirmation that patriotic jihadists want a McCain presidency.

CMJ the real easy way: Violens + not much else

For the first time in about 20 years, there's gloriously little reason for me to engage CMJ week in my usual aggressive three-shows-per-night way. So last night found our gang lazily trawling the dregs of the Lower East Side club scene—which is essentially every place outside of Cake Shop. The Delancey is a sorry dungeon of a club (live music in the basement, indolent text-twizzlers and DJ on the ground floor, young urban narcissists on the roof), which hosted the annual New Zealand party. We're all NZ partisans, though the pickins were rather slim this year: Openers the Naked and Famous were neither but managed to add a spark to au courant indie sounds, which is more than can be said for the rest of the bands, who did little more than ape the done-to-death UK/Amerindie style of 2005–present. ["Angular" guitars, anyone? Twelve angular guitars, just ten cents, whatta bargain…] Sub Pop signees the Ruby Suns showed flashes of charm (and no angular guitars), but whenever the duo brought a potentially good idea into a song it was abandoned just as quickly, an audio version of MTV-style jump-cut editing. Rhys "Murray Hewitt" Darby MC'ed and, unsurprisingly, stole the show without trying. On ya.

Violens, the Annex, 10/21/08 (PHOTOGRAPH: Tim Soter)

An easy walk from there to a moderately less odious orifice, the Annex, for a band we knew we like, Violens, who are already good and only going to get better. The perpetual (for now) obstacle for this NYC-via-Miami quartet is that its pristine pop songs can't possibly sound as good onstage—at least not if you're relegated to pull-the-plug rooms like the Annex (though Friday at Bowery Ballroom should be the thing/place/ticket). Sure enough, while not a disaster it was difficult sifting the brilliance of "Violent Sensation Descends" out of the indifferent mix, though I've heard this band mixed less competently, and the epic scale of new song "Until It's Unlit" came through. Bonus points for the way they launched into their set—seemingly distracted line-check becomes gathering storm reveals song.

Tonight's non-dilemma: Game 1 of the World Series or the unsurpassed guitarist Chris Brokaw, whose solo gigs are about as common as October baseball for the Phils.… The answer, of course, is both. Especially since it looks like I'll be at games 3, 4 and 5 in Philadelphia.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Friday, October 10, 2008

Shane Victorino's Game 2 line:

Two-for-five, four RBI's, a sparkling catch at the centerfield wall and one big booger picked on national television. Doesn't baseball just always work this way? You make a great play in the field and follow it the next inning with a great play on offense. So what if Victorino's offensive play came in the dugout instead of at the plate?

Victorino: throws right, bats both, picks with his right-index I believe

The MVP of the Phils' postseason so far was caught on-camera red-fingered an inning after making a leaping catch at the wall in centerfield off Casey Blake's bat. Photos of the catch are all over the Internet; still looking for a screen-cap of Vic's pick.

It is just baseball though. Adding to the sad story of manager Charlie Manuel's 87-year-old mother passing away earlier in the day, Victorino was informed after the game of the death of his grandmother. The team gets a day off to collect themselves and recover from an emotional few days.

Secret Service vs. Flyers fans

The Flyers found a can't-miss way to make sure their home opener against the Rangers this Saturday night won't be lost amid the Phils' drive to the World Series. From Sam Carchidi's Flyers blog:

Vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin will drop the puck at Saturday night's opener against the Rangers at the Wachovia Center.

In an e-mail sent to the Flyers and news organizations, a former season ticket holder said he was "appalled" that the club was using Saturday's NHL opener as "a billboard for political advertisement" by having Palin drop the first puck.

The fan wrote that those attending the game "should be able to check their political and ideological beliefs at the door and come together as one to support the Flyers. It is one of the last refuges we have for unbridled enjoyment. To invite an atmosphere of polarization and dissent amongst Flyers fans is appalling to me."

Bound to be the most controversial invitee to a Flyers game since the Soviet Red Army team in 1976 (and she'll probably be treated about as nicely). Sarah "lipstick on a puck" Palin may think she's Joe Sixpack's choice, but even though team (and Comcast) chairman Ed Snider is a huge GOP donor, Philadelphia's a pretty staunch Democratic town, and even the apolitical sports fans come equipped with what-the-fuck-is-this? detectors. I mean, fans like these put down sixpacks between periods.

A recent unwelcome guest at a Flyers game

That's one

And this was two.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Palin: unqualified for VP…

…but plenty qualified to be just another right-wing bully. Hmm, considering the past eight years, maybe she is qualified to be VP.

Obama: most liberal in the Senate

But he's got nothing on that rampaging socialist still loitering around the White House.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Obama: cool, contained, communicative; McCain: Palinesque

If reason still roams the land, then this will be known as the night Obama took command. How many different ways can McCain interject an already disjointed flow of verbiage with a "…but my friends…"?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Me, dj'ing the Gate + White Out with Samara and MV gig

I'll be filling time and space with records this Wednesday night for Red Desert Nights at Rehab, which is presenting the first Gate show here in who-knows-how-long. Mssrs Morley and Yeats are in town early for the upcoming Dead C show at Bowery Ballroom, which, like tonight's hosts/openers, White Out (joined by Samara Lubelski and MV Carbon on strings), is a duhn't miss for the out-minded. Details:

Wednesday October 8th 2008
at rehab
25 Avenue B
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Rare New York City appearance of New Zealand's great sound molesters:
featuring Michael Morley and Robbie Yeats of the Dead C
10:00 pm


WHITE OUT with Strings
NYC's own din-makers get strung out with Samara Lubelski on violin
and MV Carbon on cello.
8:30 pm

Doors open at 8:00


Thank god the bailout's working

Walk it off you pussies

Apparently there's a nasty case of the "bank jitters" going around, and it's really infectious. What it sounds like the stock market needs, as opposed to several hundred billion taxpayer dollars, is just a good old-fashioned beating. Not the theoretical-economical kind of beating pegged to losing trillions of dollars in imagined money—more like just some fat lips and bloody noses. Every afternoon-news program seems to have a correspondant blaming the Dow's yoyoing on "panicky investors" and traders' "concerns." CNN (no, I don't know why I was watching it) explained that the Dow's 10,000 level, under which it's drunkenly stumbled, represents a major psychological barrier for the market.

Really? They're panicked and fragile and need therapy, and so the lead weight that is the U.S. economy—growing more leaden each day—can drag down the entire First World? (Call it class equality the hard way.)

In fact, as David Leonhardt writes online for the Times, the Dow is sort of a red-ink herring—things are probably worse than all that.
You can bet that most media accounts of the market’s performance will focus on the Dow…since it’s the best-known measure of the market. But it’s also a mistake. The Dow… [is] based on only 30 stocks. Almost no one owns a mutual fund tied to the Dow. The performance of the S.&P. 500, on the other hand, roughly describes the performance of mutual funds owned by millions of people.
(Be sure to click through to Daniel Gross's 2003 piece for Slate, the basis for Leonhardt's post.)

The only good news I can think of at the moment (non-sports-related) is the refreshingly clear sense of desperation being exhibited by McPalin as they can no longer talk about anything besides Obama's alleged Manchurianity. They can feel it slipping away. But even that has a grim veneer to it: as my friend Craig Willingham pointed out the other night, the fact that the old white men are finally ready to hand the country off to a black guy—now that they've finished wrecking it. Hey, good luck with all that mess you're inheriting, Black Guy.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Rarer than radium

For the fourth time in my life, this not-cursed-just-plain-bad team of mine has advanced out of the first round of the playoffs. Details soon on the viewing itself, which took place at 11th Street Bar, NYC's home for fans of Liverpool FC, who pulled off a hell of a win themselves against Man City beforehand. (Let's just say it's lucky for me the Phils also wear red.)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Update: Phillies win, Palin holding on for dear life

As everyone knows and says, the word surreal is rampantly overused. So I'll describe the sight of Shane Victorino going yard on CC Sabathia with a maximum allowable number of Phillies on base as akin to a dream invading reality, a perpendicular collision of the familiar and fantastic. On TV.

And yet, watching the VP debate now, I see so much losing going on that it's a struggle to remember that a very important baseball game was just won. (Look, there's an election every four years. Phillies playoff wins? Somewhat extremely less often than that.) Joe Biden is crayony, predictable and incapable of a real knockout blow no matter the opponent. Sarah Palin seems like she's using some words for the first time ever tonight. And she's staring right at me when she talks. And she's a maverick! It's all too fucking creepy. Still—you can tell Ms. Low Bar is maintaining just enough hull-integrity that the conservative blowhardati and other Kool-Aid salesmen will try and declare a draw. I'll cop to having wanted to see something spectacularly disastrous in this debate, but even if it doesn't happen, anyone watching can see, hear and almost smell the sheer-cliff void behind Palin's rote (but admittedly, technically impressive) memorization of talking points for every major issue. It's obvious she's not qualified for national office, but she might not be qualified to be governor of Alaska, either. At least that's not everyone's problem.

Twi-night doubleheader

Comment likened to that quote about living during interesting times. Tonight provides (me) two formidable televised contests: The Phillies versus the Milwaukee Sabathias followed by Palin v. Biden (which, in case she's reading, is not a Supreme Court decision). I'm sworn to withhold any ostentatious Phils boosterism till we win a postseason series (but Mets fans, lemme tellya, your agony sustains me). As for the debate—unlike the unblinking Palin, I'm just plain scared and ashamed. Though in this high-speed era, it's not surprising to see farce rear-ending tragedy.

A thousand apologies…

…to everyone who's heard me say I'd never start a blog. When I was gainfully employed by a media outlet, there seemed no reason to write even more than I already was. But now— …

Anyway, I've got a review of the new Dead C in the Village Voice, and a two-fer review of the striking new Rare Book Room releases by Palms and Lia Ices in the latest Time Out NY. The Dead C is coming to the States soon, for the first time in years; Palms and Lia Ices had a great night at Santos a couple of weeks ago (the first live show ever for Palms). I could go on about the bizarre behavior of the crowd that night—and likely will soon—but a sparkling fall day is calling me and Comet outside.