"Don't Get Sad" (Ida, Will You Find Me)

So the Red Sox potential deal with the Rockies for the once-great, still lively and rather excellent defensive first baseman Todd Helton is dead, dead, dead. In the short term, this seems sucky, and since Boston fans are rabid, snarling beasts continually living for THIS YEAR, NOW, NOW, NOW!, a lot of fans are going to be annoyed that the difference between the deal's culmination, which also would have gotten rid of unpopular, violent reliever/spot starter Julian Tavarez, is going to cause a lot of guys named Casey and Sully to get the same vein in their forehead popping that I get from too much whiskey.

Calm down, Johnny Burger King. As this excellent Baseball Prospectus blog posting'll tell ya, this isn't one to get upset over. Getting a 33-year-old first baseman on the tail end of his career, with five years on an exorbitant contract even with the Rockies' assistance, is potentially wasteful enough. Giving up a top prospect, even reliever Manny Delcarmen, whose 2006 season was very up-and-down and whose upside isn't necessarily that high, just isn't worth it. And if that money is the difference between getting a big free agent in 2008 and being handcuffed into getting the next Gil Meche/ Carl Pavano/ Matt Clement, we're doing more than well by letting this one go. So even if you can't think past this year and have no chance of thinking of 2010, when this move might still hurt, think of next year. When we'll be defending a World Series championship.


"Music Is My Sanctuary" (Gary Bartz, Music Is My Sanctuary)

When J. Laakso first sent me Mark Prindle's Top 73 challenge, my first thought was...No. No, no, no. I hate making top 5 lists, am happy I sold my four dollar copy of High Fidelity (the movie) yesterday for five bucks, and gave up on music criticism largely because my belief that music taste is ALL subjective within limits. (That is to say, if I like jazz-funk fusion and you don't, that doesn't mean I suck or you suck, but if you have a collection consisting of nothing but what radio told you to listen to, you do, in fact, suck.) Top 100 lists do nothing but sell shitty music magazines and start semi-interesting conversations usually involving the relative values of The Beatles against Revolver that I'm just tired of. There should be no canon of rock, pop, jazz, or any genre, except maybe classical. There shouldn't even be a Western Canon in my view, which is why I didn't apply to Columbia, but that's another issue entirely.

But then I found myself looking at one of my CD racks and thinking, well, that one Thelonious record would definitely be there...

And no matter how I try to deny it, I've gotta put Ben Folds Five's Whatever and Ever Amen in...

And these five Miles Davis records are all good for their own reasons...

And before I knew it, I had a list of 130 records.

To fit it as a Top 73 list, I arbitrarily removed The Beatles records since everyone loves them, basically, and reduced the list to one record per artist. This is still a flawed list, particularly in that I somehow forgot The Beach Boys and The Zombies' Odessey & Oracle, but when I finished this list, it was 3 a.m., and even now, I feel no need for corrections. This isn't a Top 73, anyway, which is why I refused to rank it. These are just 73 of my all-time favorites. Of the moment. No more, no less. But feel free to tell me how I've blasphemed against your false rock idols anyway.

Ooh, no Led Zeppelin either. I'd put either II or IV as my entry, if you care.

madvillain- madvillainy
miles davis- in a silent way
gang starr- moment of truth
dexter gordon- go
bobby hutcherson- montara
public enemy- it takes a nation of millions to hold us back
joni mitchell- the hissing of summer lawns
parliament- up for the down stroke
funkadelic- standing on the verge of getting it on
kool and the gang- light of worlds
krs-one- return of the boom bap
ultramagnetic mcs- critical beatdown
j dilla- donuts
organized konfusion- stress (the extinction agenda)
luna- romantica
the o'jays- back stabbers
roy ayers ubiquity- everybody loves the sunshine
talking heads- fear of music
todd rundgren- a wizard, a true star
jimi hendrix- axis: bold as love
kmd- black bastards
nas- illmatic
beastie boys- paul's boutique
a tribe called quest - midnight marauders
the roots- illadelph half life
wu-tang clan- enter the wu-tang (36 chambers)
curtis mayfield- superfly (OST)
common- like water for chocolate
de la soul- de la soul is dead
outkast- ATLiens
the delfonics- the delfonics
bob marley and the wailers- catch a fire
stevie wonder- songs in the key of life
thelonious monk- monk solo
michael jackson- off the wall
prince- purple rain (OST)
pavement- slanted and enchanted
elvis costello and the attractions- get happy!!!
sly and the family stone- there's a riot goin' on
neil young- after the gold rush
ben folds five- whatever and ever amen
ida- will you find me
james brown- live at the apollo vol. 2.
eric b. and rakim- let the rhythm hit em
the isley brothers- 3 + 3
steely dan- katy lied
war- the world is a ghetto
digital underground- sex packets
the velvet underground- loaded
fleetwood mac- fleetwood mac
tyrone davis- turn back the hands of time
otis redding- the dock of the bay
slum village- fantastic vol. 2
the pharcyde- labcabincalifornia
al green- call me
bill withers- still bill
chi-lites (for god's sake) give more power to the people
eddie kendricks- my people...hold on
dr. octagon- dr. octagoncolygst
radiohead- ok computer
U2- war
the clash- london calling
marvin gaye- here, my dear
the soft boys- underwater moonlight
tom waits- bone machine
the pixies- doolittle
the avalanches- since I left you
the cure- disintegration
the jam- all mod cons
the delfonics- the delfonics
mccoy tyner- the real mccoy
eric dolphy- out to lunch
earth wind and fire- earth wind and fire

Soda Review: Manhattan Special

First of all, the name is a misnomer: Manhattan Special, the delicious espresso soda that Coca-Cola Blak only wants to be, and that no edgy stupid spelling can make it, is in fact a product of, (clears throat), BROOKLYN!!!

(Coke Blak. Jesus. Why not call it Coq Blaqqq if they wanted to go real CRAY-ZEE? Or perhaps Coke Blacc, which would have a built-in endorsement deal?)

Anyhow, this delicious product is manufactured in the middle of Italian Williamsburg, quick walking distance from the Lorimer L stop, although I don't think they give tours or give out t-shirts. (Much to the frustration of my friend Marcus...admittedly, I'd like one of those shirts too, but hey, y'know, I guess it's one of those "Never teach the Wu-Tang style!" things.)

Made of sugar (or Nutrasweet, in the decent Diet version), carbonated water, a lot of espresso, and the necessary amount of preservatives, Manhattan Special is not only delicious and nicely caffeinated, it's the perfect hangover coffee-like cure, combining the soothing carbonation of a soda with the proper recuperative power of the espresso you're not likely to be in shape to stomach. Another one of the reasons I sorta pity Manhattanites, Manhattan Special isn't widely available outside The Planet, much like the ridiculously good limited Winter edition Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout. It even comes in a decaf version. Why? I dunno. But for you baffling people who order decaf coffee and lattes and whatever, well, there you go. Just remember that you may die a little earlier than me. Oh, the irony.

So hooray coffee, hooray Brooklyn, fuck The New Yorker. Come to think of it, time to run down to Graham Avenue and get me a two-liter right now.

Manhattan Special: A
Diet Manhattan Special: B+
Decaffeinated Manhattan Special: Why?
Brooklyn Dark Chocolate Stout: A++


"Wake Up" (Pure Essence)

I think the "this song will change your life!" hyperbole has been beaten, tarred, beaten again, disemboweled, quartered, and then incinerated by the atrocity that was Garden State, even for those people who were genuinely changed by The Shins. (I know a couple, and although the band is not my cup of lukewarm tea, I respect them all the same; music is the power for me too.)

So I'm not going to say "Wake Up" by Pure Essence is going to change anyone's life but the one it has already somewhat changed: mine. Although Cameron Leader-Picone, with whose generosity this song came to my attention, probably had his hair afro-up slightly more from the deep, deep groove of this lost classic from a Cincinnati (!) ensemble. And now, it can be yours, without paying 8.90 Sterling, or even supporting my favorite record label some more. (Although you should; funk obscurists need to own The Funky 16 Corners even if it costs them their last twelve dollars. Seriously, stop reading this now and break into your local record store. GO!)

In any case, the first welcome into this funk machine blew my head to the point that I think I left half of it in the car I first heard it in, then parked in a Stop 'N' Shop parking lot, but the loss of half my head was worth it. Keep your headphones on tight so this doesn't happen to you.

But dig it, dig it, dig it right here.

And learn more about them here, which will allow you to hear their "Third Rock," a song that changed my life slightly twice, first unbeknown to me as the base sample of RJD2's "Clean Living," secondly on its own.

Goddamn, I love discovering music. The people I sold Prince 45s to today on Bedford Ave. will feel the same way when they hear b-side "17 Days" for the first time, I hope.


"Internationally Known" (Count Bass D, Act Your Waist Side)

Well, no, I'm not, but the upcoming Manhattan Rep production of a new Josh Drimmer joint for you, titled For You in fact, now has its info up on the Internets.

(Question: has the "Internets" joke jumped the shark?)
(Ancillary question: has the phrase "jumped the shark" jumped the shark? Any thoughts as to what we could replace it with? Perhaps, "gone Gallagher?")

Um, yeah, whatever. So the show info is all right here, and my Google rating grows, this time not from one of those weird sites that has somehow taken my review of The Foreign Connection's Connected and put it alongside a bunch of foreign market shit.

Seats are craaazy limited, so moving quickly on this is recommendable. And yeah, the tix are more expensive than I'd like, especially since I'm not getting one red nickel out of it, but would you rather see one good play, or two screenings of The Hitcher. Thought so. But you're gonna regret your decision to see that movie twice. Mark my words.

Oh, the Count Bass D song I titled this post after is amazing.

Get it right here.

NBA MVP Steve Nash needs to relax.




"Blowin' Up The Spot" (Gang Starr, Hard To Earn)

New Haven Coliseum: 1972-2007. R.I.P.

Farewell, you brave Knights of New England, you deadly Ninjas of New Haven, you kings of minor-minor league sports. Goodbye, you circuses and Harlem Globetrotters games I went to went I was but a wee suburban lad. Good night, sweet, Brutalist prince.

Urban Renewal: mid-1950s-????. R.I.P.

(Wiping a single tear from his eye.)
(Thanks to J. Laakso for the video link.)

"Is It Because I'm Black?" (Syl Johnson)

Headline on ESPN.com:

"Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy are making history because of their skin color."

Well, yes. But perhaps more so by being the first two black head coaches in the Super Bowl than for merely having skin color? I make history every day, but it isn't so much because I'm white as because I'm the only white man not named DJ Shadow or Peanut Butter Wolf to own two Lord Finesserecords. There is a difference. Well, sorta.

Come to think of it, semantics like this are dangerous: there's a bad Scoop Jackson column waiting to happen here. But "bad Scoop Johnson column" is redundant anyway.

To add my inaccurate Super Bowl XLI pick to the mix, I'm going Colts 34, Bears 20. Subject to change when Rex Grossman is intercepted a Super Bowl record five times, or just solicits an undercover cop for sex. Forget it Rex, it's Miami.

Then again, if there's any team to say "Fuck it, I'm throwing downfield" against, it's the Colts. So bet the over, if your mama didn't teach you not to be a city gamblin' man.


"Somethin' Else" (Cannonball Adderley, Somethin' Else)

Haven't much been in a productive rhythm, so a several mini-posts-in-one type thang.

ITEM! Kwame Brown of the Los Angeles Lakers is the first #1 NBA Draft pick to steal a cake! (Allegedly.)

ITEM! John Harris of the Guardian wrote this on the death of James Brown. As a defender of the sheer awesomeness of the pre-"Celebration" Kool and the Gang, I couldn't disagree more with his opinion (synopsis: funk not only sucks, but is downright evil, James Brown is responsible for the whole genre, damn him). But there's something to be said for reading something shockingly different from your own opinion when it's well-written. Thanks to Sam Frank for this.

ITEM! The old Milwaukee Brewers logo is one of the greatest of post-expansion Major League Baseball. Designed by Tom Meindel, an Art History student at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the logo is downright esoteric. I don't think I even noticed the lower-case m and b that forms the glove until about two years after they'd discontinued the logo for a really stupid Notre Dame-inspired redesign. If it were up to me, I would have at least created a new mascot more befitting the team name. But then again, Simpsons-inspired teams aren't anything new now. And now I'll cease being a half-assed Uni Watch.

ITEM! No Mas, who make pretty fantastic shirts (I think I want one of the BALCO ones) and have a great blog, did a fantastic interview with Chocolate Thunder aka Darryl Dawkins aka Chairman of Interplanetary Funkmanship of the planet Lovetron. Just trust me and read this.


No Context Necessary #3*

*Well, okay, if you're a sports fan but have been under a rock the past few days, I'll give ya some context. If the name Victor Conte means nothing to you, however, ignorance sure is bliss.


Such Unlikely Covers

Sending a couple songs to my sister and Peter Lewis, fellow comrade-in-arms of my trivia night team Breasty McGee at Rocky Sullivan's, I realized both songs were really interesting cover songs, the sort of songs bands/artists should do more often in concert. (Emphasis on interesting.) So I present them both to youse alls.

David Byrne- I Wanna Dance With Somebody

Former Talking Heads frontman does Whitney Houston. Well, not literally. But hey would have interesting children I'll admit, nervous kids with amazing vocal ranges and drug problems continually dressed in oversized clothing.

Elvis Costello & The Attractions- Pop Life

Particularly notable Prince cover by Elvis in the song selection; "Pop Life" is my favorite Prince single ever, but this downbeat track, from the neglected Purple Rain follow-up Around The World In A Day is unknown to casual fans of the Purple One. "Dig it" has never sound quite so unfunky. But that's sort of the point of a good cover: turn someone else's song into your own. So yes, I do indeed dig it.


"Flyin' High (In The Friendly Skies)" (Marvin Gaye, What's Going On)

Strangely, the flight back from London, generally the one that's supposed to really destroy you as far as jetlag is concerned, has set my weird sleep schedule right: there is something to be said for staying up really late on your body clock, then waking in the late afternoon of said clock, in time for work on the real one. Staying up also allows you to watch a lot of movies on a Transatlantic flight. Which is a mixed blessing.

Three movie reviews in haiku:

Gridiron Gang

Take The Longest Yard.
Make it after-school special.
Xzibit can't act.


Wanted to like this.
Sought dumb, but this is too much.
Justin Long's, like, thirty.

The Longest Yard (1974)

Burt Reynolds: fuck yeah.
Adam Sandler: dear God, no.
Hey, remake failed movies!


No Context Necessary #2


"Idiot Wind" (Bob Dylan, Blood On The Tracks)

Two candidates for MLB quote of the year. If you want to see the whole thing, check it out at Baseball Prospectus. There's comedy even for those who care nothing of baseball.

"When they give you lemons, you've got to make lemonade, and when they give you oranges, you've got to make orange juice. Tonight, we tried to make tomato juice out of lemon juice or something. It just didn't work out. I don't know if that's a good quote." --Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, on trying to do too much with the pitches the Yankees saw against the Angels.

"The swing has been there. If there wasn't nine guys out in the field, I'd have a hit every time except when I strike out."--Devil Rays outfielder Delmon Young

(Which reminds me of poker pro Phil Hellmuth, the guy I think of every time I start bitching about someone's bad play to stop myself, and this gem: "If it wasn't for luck, I'd win every hand." Additionally, I would be the greatest playwright ever if it wasn't for Shakespeare, Sam Shepard, David Mamet, Tennessee Williams, Paula Vogel, Hendrik Ibsen, Maria Irene Forbes, Anton Chekhov...)


"Happiness Is A Warm Gun" (The Beatles, The Beatles)

(Note: Please disregard the actual nature of the song in my title. I don't have those kind of feelings for Daisuke Matsuzaka. But all the same, seeing him in a Sox jersey for the first time, well, as I once said at baseball camp after breaking a slump with a scorching double, "Man, that was a baseballgasm!")

Happy New Year, y'all. I'll be back on the 8th.

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