Sunday, December 31, 2006

2112 (remaster)

I finally bought a copy of Rush's remastered 2112 this Christmas, waiting on a Space Mountain-like line at BestBuy. Every store should have a display of Rush reissues near the registers for $7.99 a pop! Think of all the gum and People magazines sold at supermarkets-- why not Rush CD's?

Of course, no bonus tracks here. It's hard to imagine anything extra in the world of Rush... sort of like getting a free beer at Yankee Stadium. C'mon, not even an alternate take of "Something For Nothing?" How about a demo of "Temples of Syrinx?" Not a fucking chance.

Anyway, the record still kicks ass after 30 years. Our favorite trio of Canadians were walking on thin ice after Caress of Steel (a good argument against releasing two albums in one year) back in 1975, and Mercury issued a short and simple edict: NO MORE (REALLY) LONG SONGS! I heard that Hugh Syme made his own private plea to Geddy to "take it down a notch or two," but who knows...

As we all know, the boys brought home the bacon with 2112. Still a fair amount of shrieking by Mr. Weinrib going on, but this album marks improvements on all fronts: sound, skill, songwriting and simplicity. The "2112" suite can be understood by any 14-year old with a brain (check your yearbooks!), and rocks pretty darn hard as well. Try explaining the "Fountain of Lamneth" to your stoned buddy during trig class. Hell, just try listening to it!

The fellas also made a nice move with side two's "Lessons," which begins like a weird outtake from Eat a Peach. Here's where Rush really starts to distinguish themselves from the rest of the prog pack: good pop songs that aren't necessarily hit singles. You used to get the feeling that a guy like Greg Lake or John Wetton really had to bust his ass to write that one catchy radio song on the album, and that's why he let the rest of the schmucks pick up the slack for the instrumental stuff. Rush stopped making that mistake with 2112.

"Grand Finale" kicks major Solar Federation butt with no regard for songwriting or anything else. Welcome to the NFL, boys! Your locker's down the hall next to Al DiMeola, John McLaughlin and that Jeff Beck character if he stops chasing the skirts. I even wrote a letter to Jimmy Carter back in '78 requesting that our national anthem be replaced by "Grand Finale". I suppose replacing "O Canada" would have been more appropriate, but I had no way of contacting P.M. Trudeau at the time.

Worth buying? Does Ayn Rand wear red lipstick? Of course, you idiot.

Rating: 4 out of 5

FUN FACT: An effort was made in the late 70's to "sync up" 2112 and Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory a la Dark Side of the Moon/Wizard of Oz. I've certainly never tried it, but I guess I can picture Gene Wilder hopping around to the tune of "A Passage to Bangkok"...

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Three of a perfect pair

Pistons at the Garden? My date and I headed down to 33rd St. expecting a complete laugher, and we had the pills to prove it. I had no idea we'd be treated to one of the best basketball games I'd ever seen.

Stephon Marbury was absolutely brilliant, peaking with three clutch free throws to send the game into the 2nd OT. He had confidence, poise and skill like I ain't seen all year. Way to go, you bum.

Frye, Curry, Lee, and ultimately Crawford sealed the deal for the Knicks. Rip Hamilton couldn't miss a shot all night (51 pts), so we clearly needed more than Steph stepping up. We got that from the "Baby Knicks" (minus Nate Robinson, who really is a goddamn baby) tonight, via shooting, toughness, rebounding and timeliness, respectively. The crowd loved David Lee so much tonight, he almost reminded me of Kurt Rambis of the 80's Lakers for a minute there. Then I realized that Lee can make layups, dunk, pass, and probably gets laid a lot-- he's nothing like Rambis at all.

It was a long game. My date was nodding off in the 4th quarter, passed out in the first OT, total flatline in OT 2, but made a miraculous Lazarus-like rise for the 3rd and final overtime period. An historic win for the Knicks by any standard. I didn't drink any alcohol at all, but instead gorged myself on pretzels, ice cream, N/A beer, and whatever prescriptions drifted through my transom. It worked very well-- I was completely cogent throughout the nearly four hour ordeal, except for the time I had to walk unaccompanied around the outside wall of the Garden for about 100 feet, doing my best impression of the prisoners on the island jail complex in Face/Off whose boots are magnetically drawn to the floor they try to walk on.

Bottom line: an energy was there that hasn't been for years and years. OK, maybe in weird isolated cases, but this was the Knicks building on an already strong homestand with a gutsy, emotional win in 3 OT's that truly united and electrified fans, players and staff alike. It meant something.

The Curry, Lee/Frye, Jeffries, Marbury, Crawford thing seems pretty damn nice. Let's give it a shot...

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Mysterious ways

This team is tough to figure. They look like they can't rebound to save their lives, but they actually lead the league in boards. Crawford looks like he can't hit Oprah's ass with the ball from 10 feet away, but he ends up with 30 points. Maybe I'm just not paying close enough attention.

Anyway, three wins in a row-- not too shabby. I'll be at the next home game on Wednesday against Philly. That's a boring prospect these days.

When I was seventeen...

Early 80's... just out of high school and getting laid on a regular basis.

The following sides were absolute winners for me every damn time-- no details are necessary.
Roxy Music- Avalon (1982)
Michael Jackson- Thriller (1982)
Prince- Dirty Mind (1980)
Rolling Stones- Tattoo You (1981)
Fleetwood Mac- Mirage (1982)
New Order- Power, Corruption & Lies (1983)

Others of my favorite hook-up cd's need a little more background:
Brian Eno- Apollo (1983): cheese factor could be dangerous, so play it quiet.
Billy Squier- Don't Say No (1981): perfect for coming home after a night out. Side 2 provides for moments of reflection and possibly even redemption.
R.E.M.- Reckoning (1984): Weirdly romantic.
Bill Laswell- Baselines (1982): When this disc works, it really works. Recommended for girls who talk about wanting to live in exotic locales but haven't left Suffolk County in many years.
Pat Metheny- 80/81 (1980): It's no Bright Size Life, but it works a similar magic.
Dire Straits- Making Movies (1980): This one's been real good to me. Ususally works out best if you can wrap things up before "Les Boys" kills the record and the mood.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Saturday night's alright...

Not much to say about this stupid fight. Nate Robinson's proven himself to be an idiot several times now, so that's not news. Jeffries and Collins were just trying to show they're real Knicks. I could really care less about what happens to Carmelo Anthony.

Dunno if Isiah will be suspended, but I predict the Knicks will win at least half of those games.

We had 6th row seats to last night's fiasco, but ended up singing karaoke instead. Planning on seeing Detroit next Wednesday night-- a brawling team in their own right.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Boston Massacre

Don't look at the score-- the Knicks got their asses kicked tonight. So they made a nice little comeback after going down by 30 at home-- so what!

Usual suspects here: Marbury plays like an idiot, Paul Pierce is on fire, Knicks can't make a free throw (this is a somewhat new problem), and everybody gets booed. Funny, I actually thought they were shouting "Q!!!!! Q!!!!!" at the beginning of the season. Now I know better.

I ended up watching Hoosiers on AMC for most of the game instead. Can we get Gene Hackman to coach the Knicks? Or at least get Jimmy as a shooting guard?

Speaking of white guys, it's kinda funny that the Knicks' David Lee wears #42. (Diamond) Dave is breaking the color barrier all over again, almost 60 years after his numbersake did it in Brooklyn...

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

how low can we go?

This season's already had more low points than a funeral on cough syrup, but tonight's worth noting anyway. It was the NBA's worst road team (Wizards) vs. the NBA's worst home team (us). We lost miserably.

Maybe the stratege du jour was "don't challenge guys too much on defense," because the Wiz scored 14 3-pointers (yes, 14 x 3 = 42 points!). Chants of "FIRE THOMAS!" filled the Garden (that was about the only thing filling the Garden) as the Knicks alternated between bricks and airballs. Kenny Smith claimed that the Knick bench is "filled with unknown quantities." I wish!!! These quantities are quite known, thank you. We know them to suck.

The only unknown quantity right now is time. I don't see how things can possibly improve for at least 2 years. In the meantime, I'll be thinking up new ways to make it through 48 minutes at a time of NY Knicks basketball (whippets? glue? sudoku? hookers? all of the above?)...

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Courtside Bums

Attended our second Knick game of the season last night. Amazing seats. At least the game was close.

Right before tip-off, a woman led her young son down the aisle next to us-- right down to the front row. The boy was blindfolded on the way in, so the mother could surprise the kid with the treat of a lifetime: courtside seats in the most famous arena in the world. Maybe she put the blindfold back on the kid once the Knicks started sucking all over the joint.

The Raptors are pretty much Chris Bosh and 5 or 6 enormous white guys. All of them can sink jumpers from anywhere on the court. Bosh absolutely torched the Knicks for the first half of play, and then kind of disappeared for a while. Probably the only thing that kept us in the game. He's a little weird-looking, but damn good.

It was "Legends Night" (or something like that) at the Garden last night. Which meant that Pat Ewing and John Starks were endlessly paraded on and off the court for cheap bids at applause. Clyde was too busy working for such silliness, and "Pearl" Washington really didn't seem to give a shit. Bernard King was not present.

Ten minutes or so into the game, two homeless guys staggered down the aisle in front of us, and right into the folding chair section on the floor. Security guys were squawking and motioning to each other as the bums were swarmed upon. To the amazement of the crowd, each of the winos promptly produced a crisp ticket for the night's event. How did these guys get tickets? Who the hell knows. One of them was passed out before the end of the third quarter.

John Starks mingled with the crowd a little bit near the end of the game, but blew off any and all fans not in possession of a large chest.

I realized last night that it's been over 6 years since I REALLY cared about an NBA game.