Thursday, July 28, 2011

I is for Irabu

Hideki Irabu was found dead yesterday afternoon near Los Angeles. If you're waiting for a punch line, you're reading the wrong wise-ass blog.

I loved Hideki Irabu. His arrival and debut with the Yankees was unlike anything I'd seen around that time, and I was going to shitloads of games in the mid/late '90s. This was before the mysterious sensations/disasters of El Duque, Ichiro, Hideki Matsui, Contreras, Wang, Dice-K, and anyone else that simply appeared out of nowhere. And once the Irabu photos and stories started making the rounds, we were gripped with a double standard: he had to be great, and there was absolutely no way he could be great.

Funny thing is, this is exactly what he was for most of his tenure in the Bronx. I'd guess I saw Irabu pitch around ten times at Yankee Stadium, although I only have six ticket stubs as proof. I saw him pitch in the first Interleague games at Shea, which was a hoot and a half. Hideki looked like a dad wearing his kid's batting helmet, and got a no-decision in the Yankees' win. I saw him toss a shutout against the Tigers in July of 1999, and generally saw decent starts from the guy. Don't remember details, but Heath Bieferman and I rooted our asses off for Irabu one time and assembled our own "K" signs out of ripped up pizza boxes in the old Loge section. It was always a good time to watch Irabu pitch.

I'll be wearing my #35 jersey this Saturday, not that I expect the Yanks to do anything cool for the poor guy. Rest assured that at least one Yankee fan will be thinking about Hideki Irabu as Bartolo Colon jiggles around on the mound.

Oh yeah, I just imported a bunch of CDs by artists beginning with the letter "I"... Not a whole lot here, excepting the spectacular Isley Brothers and Ice Cube singles/EPs. I'm fond of Under the Skin by Ice, although I haven't listened to it in ages. What happened to my Ivy record?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

H is for Harmonia

Crazy-ass motherfucking drum sounds
Boy was I happy to see that my copy of Big Bam Boom still exists. Along with Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti and Shaken 'N Stirred, this is one of my favorite crazy mid-80s production records. All are usually considered "dated" and are consequently underrated. Hold on a sec, I'm firing up my Pro Tools and recording that last sentence I wrote as a rap over a Paul Young loop.

What doesn't seem to exist is my copy of Daryl Hall's Sacred Songs. I miss the heck out of that one. If you like "Matte Kudasai" then you'll love "North Star!" That's because they're pretty much the same song, but the latter has a great singer and the former has Adrian Belew, who is a poor-to-fair singer.

If you've spent more than four hours in a row with me in the last ten years, you've probably heard me blather on and on about Harmonia. My two most-listened-to records for a long time now, and still not even close to tired of 'em.

Remember MySpace? I haven't been there in at least a couple of years... until this moment! I just logged in to my Harmonia fan page, and found that I (they) have over 4,000 friends and over a thousand unchecked messages. Surely there's a couple of lawsuits in there, or at least some nasty messages from HJR himself. I wonder how Charles Simone's Elf page is doing.

Importing my Hendrix stuff was a bloody mess. Because of the myriad reissues and posthumous collections that sully his core catalog? No, because my actual CDs resemble 80 grit sanding discs far more than pieces of digital media. How the hell did this happen? Were we throwing my copies of Smash Hits and Axis around the room while we were stumbling around to the stomp of "Machine Gun?" Somehow, they all ripped successfully.

I've already said most of what needs to be said about Allan Holdsworth, but I suppose a quick rundown of Metal Fatigue wouldn't be out of order, would it? Maybe some other time.

Let's finish with a quick curtsy to one of the great trios of all time: Hüsker Dü. They'll never be matched by anyone, and not for lack of trying. That's a sound, idea, and chemistry that just can't ever exist again anywhere. So enjoy the records while you still can.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

G is for Gangsta Boo

Normal people start losing their mind at around mile 13 of the New York City Marathon, which I believe is near the point where you're crossing into Queens and wondering where the hell the 59th Street Bridge is (this describes just about every trip I've ever made into Queens, usually behind the wheel of a car). Then you hit mile 14, and start feeling a little better. Maybe I can actually make it! Suddenly a black car pulls up next to you, and two guys in suits grab you by the shoulders and stuff you in the backseat. The car pulls off onto a backstreet and speeds back towards Williamsburg. Before you can say "Road Runners Member..." you're dumped out on your ass way back on Fourth Avenue and caught up in the running horde once again. You have to run those six or seven miles AGAIN!!!

This is how I felt when I realized that tons of the files I'd imported onto my first hard drive were corrupted. Certainly not all of them, but enough to make me go back and redo the Ds through Gs all over again, to be on the safe side. The horrible shame and embarrassment of sitting idly while a Gentle Giant CD is saved to your computer is one thing, but doing it twice??!! It's been a rough week.

That said, the Gs have been a breath of fresh air. Gang Starr and Geto Boys have highlighted recent rippings, but the giant Gs of Wu-Tang are the story around here. Thank the lord I had the wisdom and foresight to snatch up tons of GZA and Ghostface promo CDs back in the day. Not sure why I'm so glad, but I am.

However, the real gems of the section are two back-to-back records of remarkable guitar genius. Hmm... Slash? Buddy Guy? Phil Hurley? Nope, these are compilations on the excellent Original Music and Sublime Frequencies labels (the Matador and Drag City of world music). Joey Pants turned me and at least a dozen other stoners on to I've Found My Love: 1960's Guitar Band Highlife of Ghana. I've made my share of ignorant jokey references about this record ("Graceland on ________ (fill in hallucinogen of choice)" or "guitar tuners melted on dashboard of van"), but I honestly love it. I'm partial to the Frimpong tracks, but it's tough to argue with "Ohia Woa Enwu (Don't Commit Suicide Because of Poverty)" by the Royal Brothers, which closes the compilation with a slippery slide guitar bonanza.

Joey's recommendation inspired me to do some searching of my own, usually inside old Ziploc bags which eventually led me to several excellent releases on the Sublime Frequencies label. My favorite is the Guitars of the Golden Triangle: Folk and Pop Music of Myanmar (Burma), Vol.2 CD. Lots of great stuff on here, but the pieces by Saing Saing Maw are outstanding. As with most comps like these, very little information about the artists is supplied; this is because such information doesn't exist. The label's Cambodian Cassette Archives release is tragically mysterious, with well over half its tracks credited to "anon" and song titles that come up on Gracenote as either "Unknown," "Uknown," or "Unkown." Anyway, Saing Saing Maw's lead guitar playing is absolutely terrifying-- the solo on "Lah Ley Cham" sounds like it destroyed the recording mechanism used in the session. Writers say things like this all the time, but further listens support a literal interpretation. At least three songs on this CD are sonic dead ringers for the latest Ariel Pink stuff.

Next up... Hendrix!!!

Friday, July 15, 2011


Loving a Mormon ain't easy.
Wife's at work, kids are at camp/with sitter, nothing going on... I'm going to the cinema!

Tabloid by Errol Morris was an easy choice for me.  Pros: (1) playing at Lincoln Plaza (artsy, but not too artsy), (2) easy access via M5 bus, (3) 12:05 matinee, (4) rumors of Joyce McKinney herself making guerrilla appearances at various premieres last fall (maybe she'll drop in on opening day, first show?!).  Cons: none.

Yeah, the film's great.  I won't spoil it, although it is a documentary and therefore based on real events accessible to anyone.  The story is totally insane and hilarious, and left me far more interested in what the film's subject(s) actually believe(s) to be true than in the actual reality of the scandalous chain of events.

As for scandal within the theater, I found almost nothing.  When I first sat down there was a guy in front of me intensely watching something on his iPad that turned out have nothing at all to do with anything-- I think it was Starship Troopers.  However, a truly suspicious and enormous man was sitting in the middle of one of the front rows, with an assortment of papers and bags spread out in front of him.  Every few minutes or so he threw up his hands and exhaled loudly, as if he had just seen something outrageous or offensive to his person.  I checked in on him after about 30 minutes and he was asleep with his nose at around 11:00 in the air.  He staggered out of the movie completely soon after.

I had to make an emergency rest room trip (or what Ian Anderson might call a "Pibroch") near the end of the film, and saw the weird big guy again in the bathroom.  If you've never gotten up and pissed in the middle of the film, let me tell you that bathrooms are always filled with lunatics during movies.  Who else would waste money this way?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

F is for Faith No More

The wait between A to Z posts wasn't because my intern quit (as far as I'm concerned), or because I have thousands of CDs by artists beginning with the letter F (the least of any letter so far).  Nor was it because I've been catching up on missed episodes of Basketball Wives (no comment).  I ran into some unforeseen problems with the importing of my music collection.

Not that I wasn't warned.  The disembodied voice of H.S.P. is still echoing in my mind's caverns: "Be careful with that..."
Dammit, I was careful.  I just didn't get a hard drive fast enough to handle the assembly line rapid-fire style of ripping I demanded from my computer.  Either that or I got screwed over at Costco.  Either way, I picked up a more appropriate external device, and shit's been tin goose ever since.  (knocking sound)

I'd also like to address the complaints I've been getting about the "druggie" references in my last few posts.  Yes, I'm afraid it's true.  I have indeed taken drugs while listening to, discussing, purchasing, mishandling, composing, and recording music on compact discs.  It just so happens that the Cs and Es were on the heavier side of said behavior.  I'll try to keep things a little more on the straight side this time.

[paragraphs about Marianne Faithfull and Faxed Head deleted]

Let's try to think of a weirder band than Faith No More, shall we?  I loved 'em because they made my indie rock friends and rocker friends equally uncomfortable.  Here's a good one: a truly bizarre "game" developed organically whenever we used to hang out at my friend's parents' house involving this band.  One person would perform the piano outro from "Epic" while another would enter the room in a creepy, Frankensteinish kinda way.  The idea was to do something more ridiculous than the last guy, which wasn't always easy, considering the people involved.  No drugs, by the way.

Quickly and pleasantly reminded of how great the Feelies were when I ripped their short and sweet catalog.  I know I had that fourth one, but... jeez I hope I didn't trade that in.  Even if it's the worst of the bunch.

MIAs: Fairground Attraction (debut full-length and import single), couple of Figgs titles, and any Faith No More besides The Real Thing.  I spent a lot of time trying to wrap my brain around Angel Dust, which I'm pretty sure wasn't a total waste of cells.  [drug talk deleted]

Aaaah, Fleetwood Mac.  Take the good stuff from the self-titled, Rumours, Tusk, and the good stuff from Mirage, and you've got one of the best runs in history.  I'm pretty sure the band ruined each of their lives (except Christine McVie), but that's their problem!

Shout out to Flying Saucer Attack, who conned me into buying at least six of their releases on the strength of their brilliant debut.  One time I cranked the shit out of "My Dreaming Hill" with my girlfriend-at-the-time (now ex-wife) sitting in the backseat of my car.  I don't remember ever turning it off or down as she writhed in agony, but...

Monday, July 11, 2011

2011 State Farm Home Run Derby from Chase Field

8:26 - Joining in progress... Gonzo's already clubbing dongs all over the fucking desert.  For a second I thought A.J. Burnett was pitching.

8:29 - Lee Jr. took me a little deeper than I was expecting tonight.  Had to resort to Cat in the Hat Comes Back as an emergency backup, which felt like bringing in Sergio Mitre in the 11th inning on no rest.

8:31 - Wow, they're moving right along!  I'd hardly wiped the drool off my chin and Matt Holliday's already at the plate!  This is a good sign.

8:35 - Some questions:
1) Has a H.R.D. entrant ever been beaned?  Specifically, in the head?  They don't wear helmets, as you know.
2) Have they ever resorted to instant replay to make a call?
3) Have any of the children in the outfield ever been injured?

8:40 - Ahhh, the verbal juggernaut we like to call the Grandy Man.  For real, the future President of the United States, Mr. Curtis Granderson.

8:43 - Cano's cranking 'em out of the Arizona park like illegal immigrants without fake papers like John Daly.  Broadcaster just said "Oh my goodness..." like he just watched Christina Hendricks peel off a wet t-shirt.  As for Chris Berman, he's been grunting and moaning like he's getting boned in the butt by Don Draper himself.  Yeesh.

8:53 - Rickie Weeks seems a bit overmatched here.

9:01 - Bautista took a ton of pitches and then started busting 'em out.  I don't know what he's been on for the past two seasons, but I could sure use a few vials of it.  Hmmm, maybe he's running a bit low on juice tonight.  Or the cops seized his stash?  I'm shutting up now.

9:06 - They're giving "actual distance" and "projected distance" stats for each home run now?  How about meters, kilometers, and "distance it would be on the moon" stats?  Or "distance it would have traveled in 2002" numbers?

9:11 - Now here's a great idea: Fans get to vote in a few guys with no power whatsoever (no pitchers), maybe Felix Pie or Julio Borbon.  They have to keep swinging until they hit one out.  Imagine the hijinks on the sidelines!  Ortiz ambling up there with a towel, cajoling the BP pitcher to keep mixing it up... hilarious!!!


9:26 - Some serious multi-tasking going on here... typing, switching computers, picking up stuff on floor in living room, monitoring kids in bed, ripping CDs in other room, trying to find my copy of Into the Wild, it's nuts!!!

9:29 - You know the box that has all the shitty/oddball toys in it?  The box that always gets dumped out and NEVER picked up by anyone?!  I mean, are any children really going to play with half of a plastic egg?  Jesus, I hope not.

9:31 - Well, this Derby's about as exciting as a fishing derby.  For people not actually holding a fishing rod, that is.  Plus, I'm in the hottest room in the house.  Hold on.

9:35 - This is getting too hectic.  I just galloped in from the dining room, where I'm importing "T.S.R. (Toilet Stool Rap)" by the Biz and trying to charge up my laptop.  This is by far the most I've exerted myself all day, with the possible exception of making my first peanut butter sandwich.  God, I love July.

Los Chicos!!!
9:40 - Oh, thank God.  They just flashed the tiebreaker rules up on the screen.  I mean, me and my buddies have been texting all night trying to piece together viable scenarios here...

9:41 - Wait, they're having a "swing-off" between Ortiz, Fielder, and Matt Holliday!  OK boys, drop yer drawers!!!  Yep, just as we suspected... Holliday's out by about the length of a soda can.

9:47 - So Cano's is the longest so far, eh?  That doesn't surprise me at all.  Robby and Melky used to get more tail than fucking Davy Crockett back in the day.

Lost track of things here for a while... ate some snacks and had a few confusing conversations with my wife.  Kinda shut down the operation.  I did manage to see Cano bomb his way to the top, which was totally awesome.  Overall, a slightly improved but still stupid event.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Yankees 5, Rays 4

Pretty sure I get called an asshole if I don't at least mention today's game.

So I had plans months ago to take my old buddy Kong to today's Yankee game.  He's in town visiting from Texas and a longtime baseball fan, so the game was a no-brainer.  As the date got closer, we started thinking about Jeter's 3000th, of course.

Just wanna say that Kong showed a lot of class today... the guy's a born and bred Red Sox fan, and still rooted like heck for Jete today.  Why?  Because he appreciates greatness, that's why.  On top of that, he even rooted for the Yanks to win (or at least he made me think so) to make the day that much more special.  He got psyched for Mariano to save the game, too.  A classy guy.

Made me think about what I'd do if the tables were turned.  Tough one, because there aren't any guys like Jeter and Rivera left on the Red Sox, or the rest of the Yanks' team, for that matter.  So let's say Kong somehow takes me to Fenway next season to see Manny (who's somehow still on the team and in baseball) with a chance to hit his 600th home run.  Yeah, I'd totally root for Manny to crush one to high heaven and lope around the bases like an idiot.  I really would.  But would I cheer on the team to win the game?  No.

I guess I'm just an asshole after all.

OK, here's two scenarios where I'd root for the Sox:
1) The Boston Red Sox play an exhibition game against a newly-formed team of Neo-Nazi white supremacists from around the world.  I'd also hope for a bench-clearing brawl where David Ortiz is forced to fight his way through a mass of opponents using a series of left jabs.
2) The Bostong Red Sox play an exhibition game against a team of alien invaders, on the condition that Boston must win in order to save the human race and planet Earth herself.

That's all I can think of at the moment.