Where NY music fanaticism and NY Mets fanaticism need not be mutually exclusive. Next year is now, bitches!

Friday, October 29, 2004

The Religion That is Bad....

Last night I did something I've been meaning to do for the past 11 years or so, take in a Bad Religion concert. Generally speaking, punk rock is not my forte. However, I've been interested in the band since watching them plug 1993's Recipe For Hate on 120 Minutes, became a bonafide fan after watching them plug 1994's Stranger Than Fiction on the same show, and have my freshman year roommate to thank for turning me on to their older material. Unsurprisingly, he was the first person I bumped into last night after not having seen him for nearly 4 years.

The show was at the much maligned Webster Hall, a venue that Bad Religion claims to have played in the late 80's when it was known as The Ritz. While I generally have zero nice things to say about the place, the sound was fantastic for once, although this probably has more to do with the band (who've been doing this thing for nearly 20 years) than the venue. In contrast to other Webster Hall concerts I've been privy to, this one set the entrance at a door leading to a downstairs dance room; the effect being to corrale concertgoers into a single space with a bar, a'la Bowery Ballroom. Unfortunately, this had the detrimental effect of requiring you to climb 4 flights of stairs to get to the show.

While not quite sold out, the venue was plenty packed, with the older folks (even saw a mom or two) standing in the back, while the middle and front of the room was reserved for younger, mosh-pitting types (guess where I was). Oddly, there didn't seem to be any in between; the crowd was either beating the crap out of each other, or standing perfectly still. I usually tend to jump up and down in place whenever I get excited, and yet I appeared to be the only one doing this over the age of 18.

Setlist wise, it was structured like a Sleater-Kinney concert, which is to say: lots of new album, hits (e.g. "Generator," "21st Century Digital Boy," "American Jesus"), and a few wild cards. Fortunately, Bad Religion's recent The Empire Strikes First is a very solid album, and they had the good sense to leave its slower songs off of the setlist. I was actually surprised to see how most of the crowd knew every word to the more recent material; proof that Bad Religion is still relevant among the Warped Tour set. Frontman Greg Graffin also likes to talk to the audience. Maybe too much. Lots of election speak, lots of tales about the previous night's show, lots of tales about the last time Bad Religion played Webster Hall, and a song dedicated to "that fucking FBI Agent who's been following us around" (something actually believable in light of the fact that the Secret Service investigated Eminem not so long ago). I was also surprised that "Mr." Brett Gurewitz was nowhere to be found seeing as he rejoined the band in 2001, although I suppose someone needs to hold down the fort at Epitaph Records when BR goes on tour (and guitarist Brian Baker is a more than competent substitute). All in all, a fun time.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Yup.

Congratulations to the citizens of Boston to have enough sense to not set the city on fire for once. Had the American League winner of this contest been any team other than the Red Sox, I would have called it the dullest World Series that I ever bothered to watch. Has any team ever put up less resistance in the history of the game than the St. Louis Cardinals? Has any World Series team ever had their 4 and 5 hitters go 1-34 with that one hit being a bunt single? I've got nothing against Cardinals 3rd baseman Scott Rolen. As happy as I was to see the Red Sox do something they haven't done in 86 years, I couldn't help but feel bad for the guy (no hits!). Here's hoping that New York Mets 3rd base phenom David Wright, who worships the latter, opts to model himself after the regular season Rolen (124 RBIs in '04) as opposed to the post-season one.

Now that the off-season has officially begun, let the hot stove heat up.

Can't Stop The Bleeding reports that Wally Backman has taken himself out of the running for the Mets managerial vacancy, instead opting to concentrate his efforts on Arizona, where he supposedly has a better shot. We here at Statute of Frauds think this is a damn shame. Hernandez "isn't interested" (re; way too opinionated), Dykstra already has some kind of honorary front office job, HoJo's in the minors, and Carter remains too in love with his own legend. Backman's fiery mentality, successful minor league managerial experience, and '86 pedigree are exactly what the Amazin's could use right now.

The smart money for the position would seem to be on Yankees bench coach (and 12 year Yankee vet) Willie Randolph, a move which strikes this blogger as simply another sad attempt to bring some of that elusive Bronx magic over to Queens. Granted, I know nothing about the man's leadership abilities, or skills in handling the tenacious New York media, but isn't it high time we had one of our own in the dugout? Then again, Randolph actually played an abbreviated number of games with the Mets in 1992; a wretched year that still comes nowhere close to capturing the unadulterated filth that was 1993 (firecrackers, anyone?). Poor Jeff Torborg.



Wednesday, October 27, 2004

"This is Red Rocks!...This is The Edge!"

Coolfer featured an amusing article today about a new "limited edition" black and red iPod featuring faux autographs of the four members of U2 its back. It costs $350, has 20 gigs, and each purchase supposedly gives you an extra $50 worth of iTunes cash with which to spend exclusively on some upcoming U2 "digital box set." (set to list at $150) Limited edition poster too.

Allow me to go all Annie Lennox on you for a 'sec..."tell me why?"

I don't mind U2 teaming up with Apple for those ubiquitous advertisements featuring the iPod and new single "Vertigo" because I think the latter is a great song, and I was more than happy to use iTunes to download it far in advance of the release of their new record. The iPod is a fantastic device, and using a U2 song to sell it is as good a method as any, even if I highly doubt that Bono and Co. need the cash.

But who exactly is the limited "U2" edition of the iPod supposed to appeal to? My guess would be mid to late 30-somethings a little slow to the digital revolution and feeling nostalgic for their college days. Maybe those folks are willing to kick down $450 for an ugly, Bono-endorsed, iPod and the roughly 400 U2 songs that the box set is supposed to contain (this is all according to the article....they have 400 songs?). Then again, I know a handful of people who would probably trash their current iPods in favor of a new one if it featured Thom Yorke's John Hancock on the back....


If nothing else, all of this U2+iTunes=$$$ jazz got me thinking about their older records, and I recently spent four dollars downloading 2 songs each off of the Boy and October records, both of which I've heard several times, but don't own.

Looking back, it's incredible how advanced U2's earlier material sounds. None of the band members were out of their early 20's at the time of Boy, and yet that record features a level of songwriting and sonic advancement that most bands could never hope to acheive in their lifetime.

Of the two songs I downloaded from Boy, "Electric Co." is every bit as anthemic as the better known "I Will Follow," and the oddly titled "An Cat Dubh" is an epic six minute ballad reminiscent of a caravan slowing creeping through the desert (not to mention megamegamega's pick for 'best U2 song of all time').

October has always been the red-headed stepchild of the U2 discography; none of its songs remain in U2's current live show and its singles never made much of a splash, but the record deserves a second look. "Gloria" was always one of U2's better 'Song #1/Side-A's' (esp. the live version from Under a Blood Red Sky) and the Asian hued "Tomorrow" is downright creepy; supposedly one of the only songs Bono ever wrote about his mother. The title track is featured on the U2 1980-1990 hits compilation, but its actually one of the weaker tunes on the album.

The Sounds of the Sounds of Boredom.....

Tonight's recently completed World Series contest wasn't exactly what you would call exciting. After overcoming some early inning wildness, Pedro Martinez retired twelve Cardinal batters in a row, and the only St. Louis run came courtesy of a Larry Walker solo jack in the 9th inning. It shouldn't have been this way; the bottom of inning 2 featured a completely unforgivable base running gaffe on the part of Cards pitcher Jeff Suppan that resulted in a double play as opposed to a run scored, and Manny Ramirez somehow managed to gun down Larry Walker at the plate in the first. I'd have run on Manny's arm too. Still, between Suppan and the Cardinal bullpen, the BoSox only managed 4 runs, which generally would not be enough of a cushion against Pujols/Rolen/Edmonds. But Rolen, a 100+ RBI man during the regular season, is 0-10, while Edmonds is 1-12. Jigga what? Somewhere Larry Bowa is cackling.

So I decided to create a log of the music that Fox Sports decided to run in the middle of innings; the transition to new innings usually being used for their boring theme music. Here's what I got.....

Opening Montage - Talking Heads - "Take Me To the River" (I'm assuming this was played to alert listeners to the fact that St. Louis does indeed lie on the Mississippi River)

Between 1st inning - Nelson - "After The Rain" (cute. game was almost rained out)

Between 2nd inning - faceless hip-hop beats

Between 3rd inning - faceless Tower of Power sounding funk

Between 4th inning - actual Tower of Power song - "What Is Hip?" (a.k.a. the only TOP song anyone but their closest fans recognize)

Between 5th inning - Onyx - "Slam!" (Dup du dup!, dup du dup!) (does anybody who reads this blog actually own the Onyx record? Always thought that Sticky Fingaz was one of the scarier sounding MCs of the early 90's.)

Between 6th inning - Wasn't paying attention. However, right before the 7th started, there was a montage of Pedro Martinez set to the Zombies classic "Time of the Season," most likely for the "Who's Your Daddy" line featured prominently in the song.

Between 7th inning - faceless funk with wah pedals and Hammond B-3 organ, followed by Amy Grant singing God Bless America (WTF?)

Between 8th inning - faceless 80's Miami Vice-style funk with saxophone solos

Between 9th inning - silence accompanied by pained looks on the faces of Cardinals fans

Post game montage - Avril Lavigne - "My Happy Ending"

All in all, not nearly as creative as during the ALCS.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

"Songs mean a lot...when songs are bought...."

Hey kids, want a copy of the new Le Tigre record? It lists at most stores at the "introductory" price of $9.99, but if you're really strapped for cash, make a beeline to Other Music and find the copy I just introduced to their used section for $8.99. It had a few decent tracks, but it only took two listens for me to say, 'meh.' Not unlike the !!! record.

Fortunately, this being new release Tuesday, I was able to spend the store credit on that new super duper reissue of Pavement's Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, an album which I'm ashamed to say I never actually had a solid copy of, but had heard so many times it felt like I did. Now I can listen to "Unseen Power of the Picket Fence" whenever I want, which is good because my copy of the No Alternative compilation ended up being one of those records that was borrowed by a college 'friend' and never returned. Malkmus isn't kidding when he says that "Time After Time" is the worst song on Reckoning, although "Letter Never Sent" certainly gives it a run for its money.

Other Music is cool because they usually play CDs in the store that I would never purchase without hearing first....usually exotic dub tracks. This time around they were playing Black Mahogani II by Moodymann, A.K.A. Detroit based techno producer Kenny Dixon Jr. (all info courtesy of Allmusic) Put bluntly, I have never heard a single record that rips off Miles' In A Silent Way so much in my life. I asked the guy behind the counter if the whole record was a Miles Davis remix (a'la Bill Laswell's Panthalassa) or used a bunch of Miles samples, and he said "no, although I can totally see where you're coming from." Jazz's dark prince is spinning in his grave, likely calling Moodymann an "evil motherf*****" as I type.

December's Gonna Be Pretty Rockin'....

For whatever reason, the only good concerts I can remember attending in the chilly month of December have been Phish concerts; in particular, NYE 1996, a few Massachusetts shows on their 1995 New Year's Run, and 12/2/95 from the New Haven Coliseum, which featured a version of the song "Tweezer" that could convert even the most die-hard Billyburg snob into a bonafide Phishhead.

But this December is shaping up to be rather memorable and pleasant (provided I pass the Bar). Billboard has announced that this New Year's Eve, Wilco is headlining Madison Square Garden with Sleater-Kinney and the Flaming Lips. Three hugely popular indie rock bands in "America's Most Famous Arena"? Strikes me as a little odd, but this doesn't mean I won't go. Come to think of it, it's a win-win; you figure tickets won't cost much more than $60, which is still a heck of a lot less than you'd pay for open bar at some hipster joint with a lousy DJ and overdressed patrons.

Then you've got the comeback of Yo La Tengo's "8 nights of Hannukah" shows at Maxwell's, an oasis in the otherwise thriving center of cheesy East Coast night life that is Hoboken. A bit of a hike from the PATH train, but well worth it. Hannukah comes early this year - starts on December 7th. Tickets are available on Ticketweb now. Don't delay as this most certainly will sell out.

What else....Ted Leo and the Pharmacists are at the Bowery on December 11th, and some band playing like 17 nights at the Hammerstein called the Pixies. Here's hoping you already have tickets for the latter, because you ain't gettin' them now.


In not exactly related news, albeit evidence that the apocalypse is frightfully near, Billboard has also reported that a Kenny G "Duets" album is in the works, with one song featuring the pipes of underage songbird Leann Rimes alongside G's smooth soprano sax covering Bryan Adams' "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)." Wow wa wee wa wah!

Monday, October 25, 2004

Did General Grant Like to Party?

So I'm at the ATM today, and one of those brand spanking new $50 bills pops out. Damn. Each bill is lovingly rendered in complex hues of red, blue, green and pink; the effect of which ends up making President Grant look either really, really high, or a champion of gay rights. If you thought the new 20's were trippy, apparently the U.S. Mint was just getting warmed up b/c you ain't seen nothin' yet. It's like the difference between Pablo Honey and The Bends or maybe more accurately, Come On Pilgrim and Surfer Rosa.

Is This Really Going to Go 7?

C'mon now. If I know the Red Sox, I know they're well aware of the fact that this blogger wants to go see the Fiery Furnaces and The Hidden Cameras at Maxwell's on Halloween, so they fully plan to knock off the Cardinals in 5. I don't expect a sweep; if I had to guess, Tuesday will be the day the St. Louis bats come alive, a'la Game 3 of 1986. But if nothing else, this series will finally unmask the grand illusion that has been the St. Louis pitching staff. Check out the 2004 stats of the 4 St. Louis starters, courtesy of http://www.baseball-reference.com

ERA W-L
SP Jason Marquis 3.71 / 15-7
SP Matt Morris 4.72 / 15-10
SP Jeff Suppan 4.16 / 16-9
SP Woody Williams 4.18 / 11-8

Hmmm...now those kinds of numbers may cut the mustard when you play roughly 40 regular season games against Pittsburgh and Milwaukee (not to mention 6 against the Mets), and have Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, and Jim Emonds as your 3, 4 and 5 hitters.

But when you're up against the team that scored the most runs in the American League, and your 4 and 5 hitters go ice cold (as they have the past two games), your "ace" better have an ERA a wee bit lower than 4.72. Jeff Suppan is the Game 3 starter, a guy who split 2003 between the Pirates and Red Sox, and wasn't even deemed good enough to make the post-season roster of the latter. Granted, he's a better pitcher than he was last year, but the only way you can win 16 games with an ERA over 4.00 is via serious run support, something of which has been non-existent as of late.

Williams didn't make it out of the 3rd inning, and Morris was done in the 4th. St. Louis's pitchers rely on deception and junk pitches, and Marquis is the only one with a fastball over 92 (and his control has been lousy as of late). The Sox batters are nothing if not patient. Sox in 5.

More Music in the ALCS....

Baseball teams have certain songs that they play at home whenever the home team wins. When the Yankees win in the Bronx, the PA plays the Frank Sinatra rendition of New York, New York. When they lose, the same song is played, except it's voiced by Tony Bennett or Liza Minelli (how odd).

For as long as I could remember, a Mets win at Shea Stadium resulted in "That's the Way (I Like It)" from KC and the Sunshine Band. But for some inexplicable reason, 2004 found a Mets home win accompanied by the chorus of Outkast's (actually, Big Boi's) "The Way You Move." (The fact that this song was played very few times at Shea this year could not have helped Big Boi's ASCAP royalties.)

But when the Red Sox win at home, the PA plays this song called "Dirty Water," which as it turns out is some obscure Nuggets-era tune from a group called the Standells. I've no idea how long they've used this song at Fenway, but it lends the Sox a degree of hipster cred I never knew they had. I can't even find it on iTunes. Check out the history of this song here.

In a bit of unrelated sports news, I had free tickets yesterday to the 28-13 thrashing that was the Giants-Lions game. The Giants have looked oh-so much better than they were last year, with a revitalized Kurt Warner, Tiki Barber having a career year, and an offensive line far better than anyone had a right to expect. But yesterday was like 2003 all over again. Blame my roommate, who apparently is bad luck; he's been to 7 Giants home games, and they've lost every one.


Thursday, October 21, 2004

What Is There Left to Say?

Bill Simmons, Buster Olney and Mike Lupica get paid to write about this stuff, so I'll let them. Here's hoping I get my voice back by this afternoon.



Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Weird Music and the ALCS

1. The Fox Sports opening montage use of the title track from Bad Religion's recent The Empire Strikes First. In particular, the chorus, which goes - "Don't want to live, don't want to give, don't want to be, E-M-P-I-R-E!"

I always assumed that Greg Graffin wrote the song as a response to U.S. foreign policy, but I suppose it might have been about the Yankees. Come to think of it, classic BR tracks "We're Only Gonna Die (For Our Own Arrogance)" and "1000 More Fools" were probably about the Bronx Bombers too.

2. Boston closer Keith Foulke's bullpen music. Everytime he exited the 'pen in Fenway, Sox fans were treated to a loud rendition of Danzig's "Mother '93." I realize most baseball players don't listen to The Stone Roses or Primal Scream, but dude? ("Torre....tell ya batters not to walk my way....")

3. The Allman Brothers' classic instrumental "Jessica." This gets played at Yankee Stadium when either team sends for a bullpen pitcher, and I actually think the same song gets played at Shea Stadium for the same purpose. Why? Is this supposed to imply that the guy coming out of the 'pen is a woman?

"There's Somethin' Happenin' Here......"

"...what it is ain't exactly clear...."

Seriously. When was the last time you saw two crucial calls go AGAINST the Yankees? Granted, both Bellhorn's home run and A-Rod's Ronde Barber impersonation weren't exactly debatable upon any sort of further review, but in a traditionalist baseball world that refuses to utilize instant replay for the good of all concerned, it was a refreshing shock to see the umps get it right for once. Not even Tim McCarver was arguing here. Now we're primed for a most improbable Game 7, A.K.A. "quite possibly the most stressful sports-oriented 4 hours in this Yankee Hater's young life." Huzzah!

Word to Curt Schilling - You're a fantastic pitcher with mucho heart, and Red Sox Nation salutes you. That being said, the Big Guy cared about last night's game about as much as he cares about The Super Bowl or The Masters, which is to say very, very little. But whatever gets ya through the night.


Tuesday Was New Release Day.....

Some first impressions.

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists - Shake The Sheets

Seems to be far more 70's-riff rock oriented than his last one, but still catchy as cholera, and Leo's enthusiasm never fails to carry the day. Can't help but think that his vocals are a little low in the mix though.

Le Tigre - This Island

I've always been a huge fan of their song "Deceptacon," which is so awesome that even the DFA couldn't improve on it. So far, nothing on This Island comes close to matching that song, and only now am I coming to see how a whole album's worth of Kathleen Hanna can be more than a little annoying. But first impressions are just that, and I plan to listen much more.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Unemployment Rules!

There's a full length Radiohead performance from a French festival in 2003 on Showtime right now that there's no way I would have seen had I actually been employed. It's like Thom is saying on my tv right now - ambition makes you look pretty ugly.

In related news, scouring the New York Bar Exam website has still revealed no clues as to when the NY Bar results are actually going to be released. Sometime around Thanksgiving is all I keep hearing. Here's hoping that I actually will have something to feel extremely thankful about come late November.

Lucky Number 14.....

The roommate and I seldom agree on much; but we both bleed blue and orange. That being said; if last night's ballgame was say....Mets/Braves as opposed to Sox/Yanks, we'd have both jumped out the window by the 11th inning. How can any diehard Sox fans deal with this kind of stress two nights in a row? I think the fans are more tired than the ballplayers....

Everything is pointing towards tonight's game getting rained out....how bad do I really want to see Mclusky at the Knitting Factory? Probably not badly enough considering I missed Scrubs and SVU last week for the debacle that was ALCS Game 1.

Astros second baseman Jeff Kent has cultivated a reputation as one of the stranger dudes in the game, known for his stand-offishness, and inability to take a joke (this trait supposedly being instrumental in the Mets' decision to get rid of him in '96). Regardless, I can't say I was too unhappy to see him hit a walkoff HR in the unbelievable pitcher's duel that was last night's NLCS Game 5 (Cardinals got 1 hit!?).

Interestingly, the jack was off of former Met teammate Jason Isringhausen, best known to Mets fans as a guy who had a fantastic rookie season as a member of the ill-fated "Generation K," but soon came unravelled due to a variety of arm problems and his less than intelligent decision to refer to Mets front-office guy Jay Horowitz as a "Jewboy." Furthermore, he was the Jason Giambi of his day after being sidelined for months with a mysterious illness that turned out to be, I am not making this up, tuberculosis. Of course he eventually went on to become one of the game's dominant closers with Oakland and then St. Louis, but what a wierdo.

I would much rather see Houston make it to the World Series than St. Louis, mostly because I'm a big fan of the Killer B's, and as a die hard Mets fan, would sooner sacrifice an index finger than see Roger Cedeno get a World Series ring.


Monday, October 18, 2004

This Just In.....

It's 10:30.

This baseball game started at 5:09.

We're inbetween the 13th inning, tied 4-4.

DOESN'T ANYBODY WANT TO WIN!?

Weekend Notes.....

1. Irony alert - The same day I post about being annoyed at not being able to purchase the Joan As Police Woman EP, I find a used copy at Kim's for 5 bucks. Serves the band right for not having someone man their merch table. It's only five songs, but its very good. Definitely looking forward to their upcoming, Bryce Goggin (Pavement, Phish) produced, full length.

Also picked up the remastered version of Modest Mouse's Moon and Antarctica, one of those hallowed records that I really ought to own but didn't until two days ago (see also: Nirvana - Nevermind). I remember hearing it in college and thinking "jeeez, what's the big deal about?" It's certainly better than I recall, and I need to listen to it some more. But anybody who compares it to OK Computer in terms of quality and originality is completely out of their mind.

2. Everybody who has something resembling a sense of humor needs to see "Team America" as soon as humanly possible, if not at the Twin Cinema on 66th and 2nd b/c the sound is too quiet. I need to see it again.

3. The jukebox at Hi-Fi on 10th and A is awesome, but it ought to be modified to have some sort of safeguard against bad (or unoriginal) taste....like having it send out a dangerous electric shock whenever someone plays three Rolling Stones songs in a row or anything off of Zeppelin 4. Or maybe quiz the user on their favorite albums before allowing them to make a pick.

4. Most concert DVDs have minimal replay value. You see them once, and think - "hey, that was cool, but it cost more than a CD and I'm not going to watch it again." Ween - Live in Chicago is the exception to the rule. This baby has nearly as much replay value as my copy of Volume 1 of the Ali G show. The thrusting gyrations of the sold out crowd during the encore of "The Blarney Stone" (Ween's take on the Irish drinking song) is one of the most rock and roll moments ever captured on DVD.


Further Proof that Shea Stadium is Built atop the Gates of Hell...

Anybody actually watch the Cards/Astros game yesterday? I did. Astros closer Brad Lidge is unbelievable. But check this quote from The Astros' Homepage

But Wheeler stepped into a situation that was every bit the stopper situation, and he came through when the Astros needed him. The Astros had just tied the game with two runs in the bottom of the sixth, and Wheeler shut down the heart of the Cardinals' order in the seventh.

Yup, they're talking about former Met Dan Wheeler, a sinker ball pitcher in the sense that his pitches usually sank about 400 feet from home plate. A hapless reliever whom the Mets only used in long relief or mop up situations, and it was usually he who needed to be mopped up by inning's end. Now he's become arguably the strongest set-up man out of the Astros bullpen in the playoffs. What gives? What is it about the Mets and Shea Stadium that keeps players from reaching their full potential? Tear it down, says I.

Geeeez Louise....

Last night's do or die ALCS matchup essentially had all the trappings of a typical Yankees game. In particular, the top of the 6th inning. The Yankees scored two runs to go ahead 4-3; all on seeing eye hits which barely left the infield. All this after Terry Francona makes the dubious and wholly unnecessary decision to pull a surprisingly effective Derek Lowe for what turned out to be a woefully ineffective Mike Timlin. And the catalyst behind the go-ahead run? Six foot eight utility man Tony Clark, a crappy Met in 2003 and even crappier (.207 BA) Red Sock in 2002. Oh sweet Yankee irony! My roommate says that the Yankees waste no time in making opposing teams pay dearly for questionable managerial decisions. He's right.

So the Yanks bring in Mariano "Mr. Automatic" Rivera to pitch the 8th and 9th innings, and I can't blame any Sox fans for turning off the television (although I'm assuming most did not in light of Boston's surprising effectiveness in staving off elimination). Ninth inning. Lead-off walk to Kevin Millar. Never a good idea. This is when I scream, "use Dave Roberts as a pinch runner!" Done. He steals second. Rivera killer Bill Mueller singles him home. Tie game. Rivera's first ever blown postseason save against the Red Sox. There were enough men on base and few enough outs that it should have ended right there, but that would've been too easy.

Fast forward to the bottom of the 12th inning. Paul Quantrill in for the Yanks. Gives up a single to Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz takes him yard. Game.

In a prior post, I called Sox middle reliever Curtis Leskanic a dirty Derek Lowe look alike with one pitch. Well, apparently he read this blog in between games as he managed to pitch 1 and 2/3rds of scoreless relief with a nasty slider and change-up that he seemingly acquired overnight! Say nothing of Sox closer Keith Foulke; doing his job with 2 and 2/3rds scoreless innings to get the Sox to the ninth inning only down one.

Now they once again send out Pedro Martinez against Mike Mussina at the random time of 5 pm. If the Sox lose, they're eliminated. But we want them to win dearly, not only because the Yankees are scum, but because the Game 6 starter has been confirmed as Curt Schilling, who may or may not be pitching from a wheelchair. Pedro at Fenway is a hundred times more effective than Pedro in the Bronx. Cross your fingers.

Here's a random thought: Is there any pitcher in the American League who looks less like a pitcher than Paul Quantrill does? I see the guy and immediately think postal worker, high school history teacher, or 50's sitcom dad. But not a Yankees setup man.


Sunday, October 17, 2004

My predictions rang true.....

I stated a few posts ago that angry Yankee underachiever Kevin Brown wouldn't make it out the 3rd inning in last night's game, and I was a little bit off. He got knocked out in the second. Nobody knows the mental makeup of the Yankee's starting rotation better than I.

Notice how I made zero predictions about the game's actual outcome, knowing full well that Red Sox tough talker Bronson Arroyo would probably cave into the massive pressure and not make it out of the third inning either. This, coupled with the fact I could take most of Boston's middle relievers deep on a good day, immediately leads one to the sad conclusion that with Boston pitching, no lead is safe. Armando Benitez transformed himself into a superstud closer on the Marlins this past season (12,000 fans a night in Miami = no pressure), but there's not a Mets fan alive who didn't furiously bite their nails when he entered the 9th inning with a one-run lead (leading a Yankee-loving friend to comment that Benitez was the only closer in the MLB that he wanted to see come in). Now imagine that Benitez was sent out to pitch the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th inning too. That's what a Red Sox fan feels like whenever Ramiro Mendoza or hairy KC Royals cast-off/Derek Lowe-lookalike Curtis Leskanic takes the hill. The latter actually sort of reminds me of Mets-era Benitez in the sense that he only throws two pitches; obvious balls, and 92-93 in the heart of the plate. Close your eyes and swing as hard as you can.

But did anybody actually think the final score would be 19-8? That's two touchdowns, a safety, and a 4th quarter field goal vs. a TD with a 2-pt conversion. Did anybody actually think that A-Rod, Sheffield and Japanese cyborg Hideki Matsui would combine for 12 RBIs? And why in the world didn't Terry Francona immediately use Derek Lowe or Tim Wakefield in long relief of Arroyo when either of them could start Game 4 and Pedro Martinez could easily start Game 5? Don't you only send out your two crappiest relievers back-to-back when it's early May and you're up by 17 runs? It's been known for a long time that the only people who become Major League managers are those who've already played the game, but proper bullpen management ain't rocket science. Just about anyone in New England could have managed last night's debacle better than Terry Francona.

19-8! Damn! Sort of makes you wish for the ten-run mercy rule a 'la RBI Baseball for the NES. I'll watch tonight because nothing better is on, and I really and truly think that the Sox will manage to win at least one of these games. But if the powers that be dictate that the 2004 Boston Red Sox will not make it to the World Series, I say make it quick. I really want to see McLusky at the Knitting Factory this Tuesday night (Game 6 if necessary).

Friday, October 15, 2004

Mo' CMJ...

As a result of being unable to score Ted Leo tickets, I found myself in attendance last night at joe's pub (they don't use CAPS so I won't) to witness the CMJ pairing of French speaking chanteuse Keren Ann and indie-woman extraordinaire Joan Wasser. This was more or less a CMJ event only in the sense that they accepted badges; the majority of CMJ shows don't end at 9 PM and don't allow you to sip 12 dollar cocktails on red velvet couches.

And about those couches....I've said it once and I'll say it again; joe's pub is an amazing place to see a show. The entire place is bathed in sexy red hues, and it contains a transporting vibe far more reminiscent of a 40's jazz club than a NYC bar. But there's practically never anybody I want to see there. Bummer.

Remember the Dambuilders? Standard mid-90's indie guitar rock with a violin that had a handful of videos in heavy rotation on 120 Minutes. Kind of like Gentlemen-era Afghan Whigs, plus the violin. Joan Wasser played that violin. Now she fronts her own 3-piece band under the totally cool moniker Joan As Police Woman. Although Keren Ann was techincally the headliner, JAPW was a very pleasant way to kick things off. Joan Wasser makes for an amusingly sassy frontwoman (great between song banter), switches between piano and guitar, and has a surprisingly soulful voice (I only say surprising b/c the Dambuilders didn't let her sing). I'd have gladly paid 10 bucks for a copy of JAPW's self-titled EP. But when I walked by the merch table, there was a box of CDs, but no one to buy them from, and when I came back an hour later, they were gone altogether. Poor planning!

Keren Ann Zeidel supposedly lives in Paris, but she's actually Israeli, and sings in both English and French, but not Hebrew. Dig? She plays a brand of quiet, albeit very pleasant, indie folk that's not too far removed from the Norah Jones thing. Maybe a less cynical Cat Power minus the stage fright. Her acoustic guitar was augmented by an electric one, keyboards, trumpet and a violin (not a Joan Wasser violin). The trumpet player spent most of the set checking the hottie violin player out, leading me to believe that they're together, or he solemnly wishes they were. Keren Ann was great. Now I have to check out her record too.

And oh yeah.....props to the girlfriend for getting me to go to a good show that I would have never have gone to w/o her suggestion....

Not that anyone east of the Mississippi cares, but...

Despite Houston leading 3-0 entering the 5th, the St. Louis Cardinals still handily dispatched the Astros last night, courtesy of back to back jacks by Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen.

I used to think that the Cardinals somewhat average starting rotation (Jeff "luckiest 16 game winner on the face of the Earth" Suppan for Game 3 starter? Hello.....?) would finally be their undoing in a short series like the NLCS, but I think I'm going to have to take that back. While not capable of putting up incredible numbers, the Cards' rotation is good enough to keep them in just about every game, and when your lineup goes Walker/Pujols/Rolen/Edmonds/Renteria like the Cardinals' does, Tony LaRussa could have Rick Ankiel start every game and St. Louis would still win blindfolded. It's almost not fair.

The 'Stros are sending Clemens and Oswalt out to the mound for games 3 and 4. Doesn't matter. Cards in 5.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

A Tribute to the Quesadilla Grande...

...I just got done eating one, and man was it good! The menu from Benny's Burritos says that it modestly consists of "Beans, Cheese, Rice, Jalapenos, Guac and Salsa Fresca," but it really has no business tasting as good as it does. And its large enough that you can make two meals out of it. Not exactly health food mind you, but ideal for a gametime, or weekend treat. Easily the one psuedo-fast food Mexican item I've ordered the most since moving to the East Village two years ago.

Interpol's Sam Kessler remarked in a recent issue of Time Out New York that he's a vegetarian and practically lived as Benny's Burritos when he attended NYU. Methinks he knows his way around the Quesadilla Grande.

Musicians hate CMJ....

It's true. Most CMJ sets are rush jobs where most of your 35 minute set is spent tuning your instruments, you'll never get the exposure you need b/c there's usually something like 27 shows going on at once, and the indie snobs won't give you the time of day unless you have a coveted 1 AM timeslot.

That said, Brooklyn based female popsters Palomar did a more than admirable job with their 10:00 slot at the Tribeca Rock Club last night. Buzzing through a tight 35 minute set (about 10 minutes of which was used for arguing with the soundman), they managed to charm with their sugary power pop and 4-part harmonies. The sound was far from perfect, frontwoman Rachel Warren's mic only seemed to be working half the time, but the band is never any less than tight and extremely charismatic. The girlfriend claims that at least five minutes of every Palomar show is devoted to bitching about technical difficulties and making fun of drummer Dale, the lone male who looks like an extra from 'My So-Called Life,' and the band did not disappoint in this regard. Their latest record, Palomar III, is excellent, and they were kind enough to link my review of it on their website, which can be found here: The Official Palomar Homepage

Palomar was followed at 11 by Brooklyn "chamber-pop" outfit Sea Ray, who always go onstage with the gimmick of playing in front of a white sheet which is used to display random images from a film projector. Virtually every Sea Ray song ends in chaos, and when you've got six people each with their own indie haircut flailing onstage while getting wacky images projected onto them, the effect is kind of cool. However, this was my second time seeing Sea Ray, and I'm becoming convinced that the 'kind of cool' projector effect is all these guys have going for them. They have an impressive lineup onstage, including a cello player who's far more than just a stage prop, but every one of their songs sounds the same; standard, mellow indie-fare that always culminates with two minutes of craziness. The cello player's hair is always whipping in her face and the bass player with the Beatle haircut always looks like he's about to have a seizure, but there's no real melodies or hooks to latch onto. Meh.

Considering that I didn't see this show listed in any one of those "CMJ must see schedules" that surfaces everywhere, there was still a decent sized crowd, mostly of Palomar fans. There was even a guy who was a dead ringer for (and probably was) Interpol drummer Sam Fogarino, although one has to wonder why he would opt to see this show over many others. Probably because the members of Palomar are really cute and he stood a lower chance of being harassed at Tribeca than anywhere else. I didn't stop him at the bar to tell him that Antics rules only because one time a nameless member of my crew had a run in with a guy who was a dead ringer for Julian Casablancas, and embarassment ensued when it was determined that homeboy was definitely not the sexy Strokes frontman. There's a Jeff Tweedy look alike who goes to shows in NYC too. I think his name is Mike.

Fear not.

Turns out that going to a CMJ show tonight (full report manana) was arguably the best thing I could have done for my sanity as the seemingly hapless BoSox lost to the Spankees once again, by the paltry score of 3-1. The few innings I watched found Pedro Martinez to be in relatively fine form, and any time your starter only gives up 3 runs in seven innings against the Yankees, said starter isn't your problem. A team with an offense as explosive as that of Boston is completely capable of putting up enough runs to get him a win. But for some inexplicable reason, John Lieber, arguably the ugliest starting pitcher in the AL East, shut them down once again, not unlike when he took a no-hitter into the 8th inning a few weeks ago.

So yeah, Boston has been sucking. Word to Johnny Damon - 0 for 8 in the series? You've always looked like Jesus, now its time to actually make like him and rise again. Your team will not win if their leadoff hitter refuses to get on base.

And yet I'm not worried. Like most Mets and BoSox fans in their mid-20's, I'm old enough to remember Game 3 of the '86 World Series. The Mets went into Fenway down 2 games to none, and Sox starter Oil Can Boyd never made it out of the first inning. We all know how that series ended, and I can't say I was too disappointed with the outcome. My first love has always been, and will always be, the Mets, but unless the Amazin's find themselves matched up with Boston in a future World Series, I'll continue to root for the Sox as well. All in a days' work for a Yankee Hater.

My prediction is thus - Kevin Brown is no longer the big game pitcher that he thinks he is, and the Sox's offense is absolutely due. Brown won't make it out of the third inning, punch the wall with his pitching hand this time, screw over his team, and renew his soon to be eternal status as the Yankee that Yankee fans love to hate; the biggest primadonna on a team already loaded with them.


Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Glad you're man enough to admit it, but that doesn't make it right....

Michael Stipe on page 36 of the new Rolling Stone:

"I wrote the entire record [Around the Sun] without my brain."

Really? I'd have never guessed.

Note to self - don't wuss out next time PJ Harvey comes to NYC...

The kindly folks at Billboard have posted a review and setlist of last week's PJ Harvey show at the Hammerstein.

PJ Review

File this one under the category of '45 bucks is a lot to spend on one show, but sometimes you've just gotta bite the bullet and eat pasta for 5 days straight.' I honestly don't know how I would have survived an opening assault of "Dress," "Who the F*ck," and "Big Exit" without having a heartattack, but it would have been nice to find out. Oh well.

And here's another Billboard link to one of the pro-Kerry Springsteen/Fogerty/R.E.M. shows in Cleveland. Notice how R.E.M.'s abbreviated set contained a mere two songs from their new record, which is still two too many if you ask me. Monster has a new rival in the used bin.

check it out

Live From the Witch Trials cont.....

Surprise, surprise, the NY Spankees managed to pull last night's game out with a 10-7 win, but not before watching a commanding 8-0 lead shrink to 8-7. Has to make you wonder, if the BoSox can rally for 7 runs in two innings with Mike Mussina, NY's supposed "ace" on the mound, what's gonna happen when Boston faces a hit or miss loser like Kevin Brown or Javier "why oh why did I leave Montreal" Vasquez? Regardless, even I was surprised to see Mussina instantly breakdown in the 7th after pitching 6 incredible innings. Said breakdown usually occurs in the 4th or 5th, so I thought maybe he'd beaten his own odds for once and was going to go for 9. Nah. It would have been nice for Boston to come out with a win, but if nothing else, at least they kept things interesting.

Game 2 looms. Will Pedro come up with anything resembling a return to form? Will Boston hit Lieber better than managed to do in that 14-4 drubbing from a few weeks back? Is Game 2 a must win for the BoSox? It'd be nice, but methinks not when there's still 3 games to be played at Fenway.

At any rate, I'm being strongarmed (albeit not entirely unwillingly) into a CMJ show tonight, so I won't find out until I get home. Stupid CMJ/ALCS conflicts! Why can't CMJ do this in February where the only sports are the NBA and (maybe) NHL?

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Live From the Witch Trials...

Guess you can't keep a good idiot down. The Red Sox just put up a 5-spot in the 7th inning to reduce the deficit to 3 runs. It's a good moral victory if nothing else. Mike Mussina throwing a perfect game shutout would not be a positive way to proceed. The Red Sox have been there before; this game is worth watching again.

And why is Leiter broadcasting an AL game? Not that I'm complaining, dude seems to hate McCarver, but still.

GO SOX.

Why the Astros Advancing to the NLCS is a Good Thing....

1. Drama - The last time the 'Stros were in a playoff was in '86 where they fell to the Mets in a 15-inning nail biter. Up until last night, they had never won a post-season series. Add this to the fact that like the 2003 World Champion Marlins they were the Wild Card winner, and like the 2003 Marlins fired their hapless manager at the All-Star Break, you've got the stuff that Sportscenter is made of.


2. Veterans - If I'm not mistaken, both Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio have spent their entire career with the Astros, and have been teammates for 13 years. They're widely perceived around the league as good guys, and refreshingly hearken back to an era where you were able to root for a player with the knowledge that he would more likely than not be wearing the same uniform for years to come. Even though the 'Stros will likely get steamrolled by the Cards, the Killer B's are well deserving of their playoff champagne.


3. Fans - Ever check out Turner Field during a playoff game? Never sold out. Sometimes not even close. And you wonder why the Braves get their butts kicked in the first round every season?


4. Furcal - Fiesty lead-off hitter/Menace to Society Rafael Furcal acquired his second DWI in as many years this past September, and attempted to weasel out of it by telling the cop that he played for the Braves. Sensible minds would have suspended him without pay for the rest of the season, but the special treatment afforded star athletes stipulated that he could play in the post-season, and begin his 3-week jail sentence after the Braves lose. Here's hoping some Mets fans in the metal clink take it upon themselves to make Raffy their 'special friend.'


5. Anytime the Braves lose it's a good thing.

Rocktober.

For those who garner pleasure from both watching baseball and indie-rock, October in NYC always presents the dillemma of catching baseball playoff games at night versus attending the CMJ Music Marathon. For better or worse, the decision is a little easier this year because IMO, not unlike Ukraine in a game of Risk, CMJ is weak!!!

Tomorrow's opening night party features Sonic Youth as the headliner, not exactly wowsville b/c they played New York a month ago, Def Jux beatmaker RJD2, who I'm told is halfway decent live, and then a handful of bands that nobody needs to see (e.g. the dated dancepunk of Moving Units).

The Merge Records showcase at Mercury Lounge (10/13) will likely be where it's at because Canadian hypemongers Arcade Fire are scheduled to go on at 1:00. But the only way you're going to see them is if you show up at 7:30 b/c CMJ shows have a tendency to get packt like sardines to the point where your expensive All Access badge isn't going to help. They're also playing the Bowery with The Hidden Cameras (like Belle and Sebastian, but gay and Canadian) on 11/12, making them an excellent alternative for those of us who acted a little slow in getting Interpol tix.

A far more sensible idea might be to check out the Self-Starter Foundation showcase at the Tribeca Rock Club (10/13), headlined by Paris, Texas and featuring adorable female popsters Palomar and their arty Brooklyn bretheren in Sea Ray.

Ted Leo is a safe bet for Thursday night (double bonus: no baseball!), and I was sort of psyched for ...Trail of the Dead on Friday until I heard the leak of their new album. Ugh. Can you say Warped Tour headliners?

GO SOX!!!

Monday, October 11, 2004

Let the Madness Begin.....

With both the ALCS and CMJ in the not too distant (like a day?) future, things should get interesting indeed. But right now, I'm hungry and need something to eat, pronto. Maybe sushi would suffice. Mmmmm....sushi....

Update-Looks like I'm actually in for Indian instead at a place on East 58th called Chola. Full report tomorrow!