The “Archive” links now go somewhere. Not that there’s much rattling around in that old attic, but hopefully all the page one links are a-workin’ now.
Dunno if you’ve seen it yet, but over at the David Eggers’ helmed McSweeney’s site, there’s this: an open letter from “The Power” to “Public Enemy”, as envisioned by the brilliantly funny John Moe.
All of his “Pop Song Correspondences” are pretty brilliant (“Attention Mr. Axl Rose: We Did Not Feel Welcome In The Jungle”) but this one is in a league of its own.
A quick sample, courtesy the McSweeney’s folks: “Among the problems, I think, has been your clarity of precisely why you were fighting me and how you intended to wage that fight. Like when you say: ‘As the rhythm designed to bounce / What counts is that the rhymes / Designed to fill your mind / Now that you’ve realized the pride’s arrived / We got to pump the stuff to make us tough / from the heart / It’s a start, a work of art.’ Pardon my frankness but what the hell are you talking about there? It rhymes, but what are people supposed to do with that information? If you’re trying to fight someone, especially someone like me, you need clear action items. Maybe ‘Carjack The Power’s limousine after an important board meeting’ or ‘Expose The Power’s malfeasance in a national publication’ or maybe ‘Propose a better alternative to The Power and let the people decide.’ Those are just off the top of my head!”
It takes a blogosphere of millions to hold us back, yo.
Been a while since I’ve mentioned it, (like over a year? yipes…) but our old Friend of the Site Rob Morton is an aspiring filmmaker. I’ve seen two of his completed works. His graduate film, Tornado Boy, can be seen right here.
His first movie though, a black and white documentary, is hosted by yours truly. The film is “Broadway Barber”, and I’ve maybe watched it a dozen times now, and every time I see something new and cool going on in the background. If you watch both films, you can definitely see a cohesive style in Rob’s directoral choices; think Wes Anderson, with a little bit of Bill Forsyth, Lasse Hallstrom, or Hal Ashby thrown in.
I can’t wait to see his big-screen debut. Oh, and back at the old site, Rob wrote a really, really cool intro to Broadway Barber, and I’ve since lost it. Would love to have a Rob Morton commentary track on this, hint-hint.
This afternoon, the St. Louis Cardinals will play host to the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. A Cardinal win will allow them to mathematically clinch a tie for the division title; should the Astros lose tonight, the Cardinals will clinch the division outright.
That isn’t the reason today’s game could be special. This is the last season for Busch Stadium. Next year, the team will move into the third ballpark in St. Louis to bear that name, but in order to finish it the current digs will have to come down. To mark the passing of the old park, all season long the Cardinals have displayed the number of games remaining at the Stadium on the outfield wall, and a local celebrity–ideally with some connection to the number displayed–goes out during the seventh-inning stretch and pulls it down to reveal the next number below it.
As of right now, the number on the wall is six. According to the MLB official site, the person who’ll take down that number will be the last person to have ever worn it as a Cardinal–Stanley Frank Musial. The Man. The Donora Flash. My favorite ballplayer ever, and the object of my baseball affection since childhood. Today I want to try to explain my affection for him.
Any St. Louisan can tell you about the Musial Statue outside Busch Stadium. It’s the place where you go to meet before you go into the game. You have a picture taken there, maybe. You distribute tickets to your buddies there. If you need an extra, this is the place you start looking. Walking past the statue, you’re likely to see the inscription there, a quote from then-commissioner Ford Frick taken from a statement on the announcement of Musial’s retirement 40 years ago. I think it very easy to see those words every day without quite absorbing their meaning, which to me seems somewhat profound:
“Here stands baseball’s perfect warrior. Here stands baseball’s perfect knight.”
See, Stan wasn’t controversial like so many sports heroes today. He lacked the easy hook of his contemporaries, too. He wasn’t flashy like Willie Mays. He lacked the cult of personality that followed Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. Ted Williams could sit and talk about hitting with a depth and specificity that suggested his preternatural understanding of that most difficult skill in all of sports, while Stan couldn’t tell you how the hell he could possibly hit the ball out of his odd, peek-a-boo stance. (One of my favorite Musial stories was told by Curt Flood. Flood was a youngster, at one of his first Cardinal spring trainings; Musial was at one of his last. Eager to plumb a living legend for knowledge, Flood approached The Man for advice on hitting the curveball. Stan helpfully told the younger ballplayer to “Wait until you see it break, then knock the shit out of it.” As Flood said in his autobiography “I could have just as well have asked the nightingale how to trill.”)
Quantifying “The Man” has never been easy. As Bob Costas wrote,”He didn’t hit a homer in his last at-bat; he hit a single. He didn’t hit in 56 straight games. He married his high school sweetheart and stayed married to her, never married a Marilyn Monroe. He didn’t play with the sheer joy and style that goes alongside Willie Mays’ name. None of those easy things are there to associate with Stan Musial. All Musial represents is more than two decades of sustained excellence and complete decency as a human being.” Bill James, uber-statistician goes even further, speaking to how the eye-popping statistics do little to explain what it was about Musial that set him apart in his time and place. “You look at his totals of doubles and triples,” (The Donora Flash was, frankly, very slow afoot; he still managed to hit an astonishing number of extra-base hits) “and you realize something now that was taken for granted then. Stan Musial always left the batter’s box on a dead run.”
One of the great thrills of my life was getting the chance to wait on Mr. and Mrs. Musial nearly a half-dozen times back when I was starting my career off waiting tables in St. Louis. At the end of each meal, I’d usually have a couple of requests from fellow employees for an autograph that I’d take to The Man. He would produce a custom-made baseball card from an inside jacket-pocket, and cheerfully sign away. In the bloated and sickening sports memorabilia market, stuff from The Man usually carries far less value than similar items from lesser players. Stan doesn’t charge for his autograph and signs anything for fans. There’s no scarcity of his signature to artificially inflate prices.
So today, if the Cardinals’ web site can be believed, Stan takes down his own Number Six. I had sort of figured he’d be the one to take down the One but this is just as fitting. I hope he’s up to it; Musial is 85 now, and he’s had a myriad of health concerns in recent years. The lucky folks at Busch today should give The Man an ovation that shakes the Stadium to its foundation. Musial is the man who embodies what Cardinal baseball is, who defines why us hardcore Redbird loyalists wouldn’t dream of supporting any other team…and today may be one of the last opportunities for the fans to show their true appreciation for all he’s done and meant to the franchise for the past sixty years.
Here’s hoping that Stan gets to see a couple more pennants hoisted in St. Louis before he goes to his own Field of Dreams.
…as I try to get into a regular writing habit again, I feel like I should at least post something tonight, despite the fact that I’m exhausted (someone should’ve told me that managing a fine-dining restaurant can be just like running a tall kindergarten class…wankers.)
Rather than waste your time with wordy piffle, I’ll instead try to turn you onto what I think will end up as my favorite song of the year. The band is The High Dials, and the song is “Our Time Is Coming Soon”. The album this tune is taken from, War Of The Wakening Phantoms is pretty gear, too.
Speaking of things gear and fab, the new disc from Macca is actually kind of doing it for me. I need to go listen to it a few more times before I’m willing to commit to the idea of really actually truly liking a Paul McCartney album, though.
I’ve heard it said that only that which you love can truly engender feelings of true disappointment and betrayal. Not sure I’d totally buy into that, but I will say that after 2 months of trying to “get” the latest from Canadian “supergroup” The New Pornographers, I’m giving up.
This is no small potatoes. I love this band. Carl Newman is a brilliantly gifted songwriter, and if you dig his New Porn work, iTunes still has his early-90′s work fronting Zumpano available. I love Neko Case–mostly her voice, of course! Like Debby Harry channeling Patsy Cline. A singular voice and talent. The rest of the band? Hey, having seen the videos for “All For Swinging You Around” and especially the incredible “The Laws Have Changed”, I’m utterly convinced of keyboardist Blaine Thurier’s brilliance. Dan Bejar’s “Sublimation Hour” recorded under his other nom de rock, Destroyer, is maybe the greatest self-referential rock anthemof the past decade. (Hey, Misra was nice enough to leave the full mp3 of that song up on their server for now; if you haven’t heard it, you need to. Tell me the guitar bashing out of the final verse when Bejar sings “There’s a rumor goin’ round even Destroyers have a price!” isn’t one of the most cathartic rock moments since Daltrey’s scream at the end of “Won’t Get Fooled Again”.)
I love this band. I hope that’s clear.
Thus it pains me to say that their latest release, Twin Cinema is just a woeful misstep for these folks. Oh, it starts off well enough: the opening title track is fantastic, and the wonderfully odd “The Bones Of An Idol” give the new disc a great one-two kickoff. From there things just…drift. “Use It”, “Jackie, Dressed In Cobras”, and especially “These Are The Fables” are just (I hate to say it) awful. When a record makes me think of Trevor Horne-era Yes, well, that isn’t a good thing.
Now, my own bullheadedness would probably have me listening to this mess of a record over and over and over again in futile attempts to get it, but I don’t have to. I’ve heard the most brilliant pop album to come out of Canada, thanks to a musically astute internet friend’s recommendation. If you like the New Pornographers, and wish they’d, you know…ROCK a little more, have I got a band for you: Novillero!
It can’t be easy to kick a lot of ass when your six-piece band is dressed in matching matador outfits, but damned if this Winnipeg group doesn’t pull it off wonderfully. To start out with, they do rock one hell of a lot harder than the NP’s–but they also rock out to tremendously catchy hooks and musical phrases, and their songs show a craftsmanship that I usually only see in the music of a guy like…Carl Newman. The new Novillero album, Aim Right For The Holes In Their Lives might be my favorite album of the year so far.
With what should be a full-time horn section in place, Novillero rocks like crazy. They also show off a ton of classic soul moves, and if they wanna claim to be mod-popsters (“mod soul power”, their website exclaims), who am I to naysay it? These songs have a punchy bounce to them that is utterly classic in the way it’s carried off.
As if that wasn’t enough, these Manitoba boys have something to say. Opening your album with the line “The laissez-faire system is not quite working out/The focus is too much on the gains and the losses” and then follows with a chorus of “And I pose the solution/Maybe more regulation” takes guts. Hell, the song could be about as fun as someone reading a macro-economic textbook written by Noam Chomsky…except on “Laissez Faire”, you can totally shake your ass and dance like crazy; when they get to the final coda and just start chanting that opening line over and over again, you’ll feel like you’ve died and gone to Gang Of Four heaven.
That wonderful opener does nothing to prepare you for the sonic onslaught of “The Hypothesist”. Building off a deceptive piano figure and snare, after the first verse seemingly from out of left field, what sounds very like the Memphis Horns or Rumour Brass comes crashing into the proceedings and then sticks around for many of the disc’s remaining 12 cuts.
It is very rare to stumble upon a record from an unknown band that literally has no weak songs, but here you go. Right now, I couldn’t get “Morally Deficient Business”, “Gaining Ground/Losing Sight”, or “Habit Over Heart” outta my brain if I was trying. Aim Right For The Holes In Their Lives comes highly recommended. If you’re in the States, the only way to get a copy is to download it from iTunes…or send away to Mint Records in Vancouver.