Sunday, December 30, 2007

new year's eve eve

the best thing about yesterday: a lovely meal with in-law-type family at Wolfgang's in Tribeca (did you know there was a Collister Street in New York City?)

the worst thing (I mean, real bad) about yesterday: somehow deleting on the order of 800 photos I'd taken throughout the day on Friday for a photo project in its infancy. about 20 of the 800 were usable or better, which makes even the memory a bit sickening.

worst thing about my iMac thus far: still haven't found a photo program that's as user friendly as what we had on the PC

best thing about the iMac (I hope): GarageBand (almost everything's here, if not in place - nothing missing now 'cept for time, patience and creativity)

last book I ever read: Carl Wilson's Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste

the one before that: John Sayles' The Anarchist's Convention and Other Stories

last movie I ever saw: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (I liked, but my spouse appreciated it even more)

what I'm listening to right this very second (which is kind of a weird choice for Sunday morning): Yeasayer's All Hour Cymbals

Saturday, December 29, 2007

we're back

"another day older and deeper in debt"

actually some of us are another year older and the debt is relatively (knock wood) manageable.

but after two receiving airports, many miles, more than a handful of nieces and nephews, and several Chick-fil-A sandwiches later, we are indeed (kind of) settled in New York.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

in the past twenty-four hours

I've interviewed writer/director/actor John Sayles. twice. once in-person (with his longtime partner and producer (and actress) Maggie Renzi - yeah, I know Return of the Secaucus 7, but I thought she was great in her smaller Matewan role as an Italian immigrant) and once by phone (because we had a technical fu-fu on the in-person; I try to tell myself that these things happen). written not one but two Sayles pieces (after a decent amount of transcribing). and this snafu, workload delayed my already last-minute research cram session on Stephin Merritt of Magnetic Fields (and three other bands: The 6ths, Future Bible Heroes and The Gothic Archies) who I interviewed around lunchtime this afternoon (still within that 48 hours).

and, and, and . . .
I submitted my year end picks to as well as the Village Voice's Pazz & Jop poll (actual picks to be revealed at a later date).

and then there was work and shopping and lack of sleep and packing on the horizon.
but this time tomorrow I'll be in Alabama. and hopefully a little more relaxed.

you can almost imagine my Sayles overload in the last movie I've ever seen section.
and ditto on the last album with Magnetic Fields (though the last album I listened to straight through was Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dream on the way home from Thursday's day job).

by the by, Sayles' 16th and latest movie, Honeydripper, is set and filmed in Alabama, stars Danny Glover and will see a nationwide release in February.
(and Maggie and John both seem to be genuinely nice people. score one for the good guys)

and Magnetic Fields' next disc, Distortion, will be released on January 15th (it's pretty damn good, too. my pick cut, thus far, would be "Drive On, Driver.").
(and Mr. Merritt is nowhere near the "rude" and "nasty" grouch (at least he wasn't with me) that he has almost unanimously been portrayed as. I actually thought our visit was rather pleasant, interesting)

finally, I meant to write something a few days ago about Dan Fogelberg's premature passing last Sunday.
I hadn't listened to Fogelberg in years. likely decades. but he got a lot of play (the early albums) my first couple of years in college. the women in my dorm area loved them some Dan Fogelberg. and hey, if it makes 'em happy, you know. was certainly in no position to be looking for conflict with young female types.
which is not to say that I didn't listen to him a bit myself.
but perhaps unsurprisingly, Fogelberg's music, even the early stuff (not unlike the fiction of John Kennedy Toole and Kurt Vonnegut), doesn't age all that well.
I went back, did some research, and after seeing most acclaim for Fogelberg's first, Home Free, purchased same. but outside a couple of LA (even though Fogelberg was from Peoria, IL) alt-country Eagles predecessors (most notably, and possibly only, "More Than Ever" and "Anyway I Love You"), the rest is pretty much unlistenable.
still, a death that came much too soon.

merry merry and happy happy ya'll.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

the mitchell report

though sixty-something hours have passed since the release of the Mitchell Report (a day which will live in infamy in the hearts and minds of baseball fans), I haven't been able to use the time for much reflection (blame the necessary study for an upcoming interview with writer/director John Sayles).
but I did read the Report - or as much as I could get to in a couple of hours - late Thursday afternoon.
and yes, there were some surprising names. and there were names that, in a perfectly transparent world, would likely be included that weren't.

a few sportswriters, most notably the Times' Tyler Kepner, wrote about the revelations from a more personal perspective (and that seems about as viable as any). Kepner, specifically, writes about his relationship with reliever Ron Villone and the charges against him.
"It is hard to reconcile those seedy allegations," writes Kepner, "with the person I know. If they are true, it shows that I am naïve . . ."
naïve is not an adjective one would expect to be used in a Yankee beat writer's self-analysis, but there it is. and at the time he wrote the word, I expect Kepner believed it.

I've been in major league locker rooms and spoken, however briefly, with several of the accused: Bobby Estalella, Todd Pratt, David Bell. Benito Santiago jerked me around for a couple of days before vanishing on the Giants' last day in town, thereby escaping the interview he promised and postponed.

I spoke at greater length, figure at least twenty minutes, with three others. Tim Laker was with the Indians in the backup catcher role he'd pretty much taken on since he made the majors. we talked about catching (he's in the Catcher book) and music. Tim used to play high school ball with Scott Radinsky, pretty much the prime example of baseball's intersection with rock and roll, and suffered more injuries and health problems than a current major leaguer ought.
Jason Grimsley and I talked for quite a while shortly after he'd been traded to the Orioles. we talked about his guitar playing and his friendship with former Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti. Jason told me about how Joe Torre got mad at him the day he threw batting practice to Mark while Jason was on the disabled list. and now, after the rather full revelations about Jason, I'm wondering if Torre's patience with him was short for another reason.
though I must add that Jason was about as "normal" a major leaguer as I've come across. pleasant in a regular guy kind of way and seemingly well-liked by his teammates.

and then there's Andy Pettitte, arguably the biggest surprise on George Mitchell's list of names.
Andy is known as a supportive teammate and family man. he wears his Christianity on his sleeve. and he was kind enough to speak with me long enough to gather enough information to feature him as my Day in the Life pitcher in the Starting Pitcher book (and he could've very easily pulled a Benito without nearly the fallout as the Yankees' PR department pretty much raised hell with me for somehow fouling up other plans they had for Andy that day. but instead of backing out and using his employers as an excuse, Andy sat with me, pretty patiently, on the dugout bench the day after his start because two days before he told he would).
today Andy Pettitte issued a statement acknowledging that he twice injected himself with HGH in an effort to return to the Yankees lineup more quickly. and he apologized.
the fact that he did this was much less surprising than his being named. and Pettitte's confession would seem to remove some of the lingering doubts fans might've attempted to hold onto following Thursday's announcemet.
and in my mind makes it much, much harder for Roger Clemens (on the cover of Starting Pitcher) to proclaim innocence (though he did so through his lawyer on Thursday) since Clemens and Pettitte shared the services of their trainer and accuser Brian McNamee (and not that I'm doubting his word in this instance (primarily because of federal law enforcement involvement, but he doesn't exactly have a pristine past (see: October 6, 2001 date rape drug incident in a Florida swimming pool)).

(do you think the Mets, given their lack of desire to resign LoDuca and the last minute collapse in signing Bobby Estalella, might've had some inside information here? or maybe they just decided to start acting on information that everybody had.
by the way, the residents of the National League's ugliest stadium have just announced that they'll be jacking up ticket prices by around 20% for the upcoming season. great timing, huh?)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

while the writer's strike

probably did not directly contribute to the death of Mississippi native Ike Turner, it did cause me to miss a cancelled taping of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
and those tickets ain't easy to come by.
just sayin'.

Friday, December 7, 2007

michelle shocked

happy Friday. and Pearl Harbor Day. though that seems less like something to be happy about as much as recognized. never again. etc.

but here's some happy. our Possibly 4th Street session with Michelle Shocked (appearing at Highline Ballroom this coming Sunday) has popped at the Voice. both print and blog.
Michelle's performance is definitely the closest thing thus far to my original conception of the series and I'm greatly appreciative that she decided to partake.

a friend asked, So, did people recognize her? and that's a valid question, unfortunately unanswerable in print due to the word count restraints.
but yes, folks did recognize Michelle. to the tune of "honey, I don't know why, but Michelle Shocked's playing at Astor Place. yes, on the street. so I'm going to be a little late."
quite nice.

we've got an offer out now to Bob Mould (he's in town this weekend, also at the Highline for his Blowoff performance on Saturday night, but right now we're the ones getting blown off. hope he changes his mind).

but I'm happy to announce that Possibly 4th Street participants Jim Lauderdale and Peter Case were nominated for Grammys today (ain't it funny how Grammys don't matter in the least until you know someone nominated?). Peter's nomination came in the Best Traditional Folk category for Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John and Jim was nominated for Best Bluegrass album (no surprise there) for Bluegrass Diaries.

(awesome photo by Tina Zimmer)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

multi-media notes

several false starts on reading longer, well-reviewed, awarded prose, so obviously my fault. I've given up, recently, at least for now, on the Pulitzer Prize-winning American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer and Robert A. Caro's The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York.
Moses, of course, has surfaced in regurgitated news these past 24 hours with the announcement of Walter O'Malley's impending induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame (O'Malley apologists insist that Moses' ego and intransigent nature are most responsible for the Dodgers' move to Los Angeles). and Caro, of course, later authored the trilogy of excellent tomes on Lyndon Johnson (I read all of those).
one thing I learned in the bare openings of these books is that both Moses and Oppenheimer attended the Society for Ethical Culture School (interesting enough).
wish me better luck on John Sayles' Anarchist's Convention.

I don't seem to have any problem making it through DVDs.
the last movie I ever saw: My Favorite Year (you know, the physical comedy of supposed drunks just doesn't age well. and who decided to give Mark Linn-Baker such a big part)
the one before that: Babel (serious, circular, circular, serious and unfortunately not too much for Cate Blanchett to do)
the one before that: Bobby (better than I expected)
the one before that: Waitress (because if you work for minimum wage and are stuck in a bad marriage (I mean, the husband is completely irredeemable (not very realistic)), you must be Southern, right? but I did enjoy Andy Griffith's character and aspire to his aged contrariness)
the two before that: The Godfather and Godfather Part II (not perfect ("That's easy for you to say, Tom, he's not your father!" in One and the whole "Michael, you are blind. It wasn't a miscarriage, it was an abortion. An abortion, Michael. Just like our marriage is an abortion -- something that's unholy and evil. I didn't want your son, Michael. I wouldn't bring another one of your sons in this world. It was an abortion, Michael. It was a son; a son, and I had it killed 'cause this must all end" in Two (major yuch there)) but close)

video games? I know Wii's hot stuffs right now (even Nintendo World at Rock Center's out), but the games, a couple I'm looking for on behalf of relatives, seem to be non-existent (Guitar Hero III, for example), and there's no Rock Band at all
(yes, I'm muchly happy with my Playstation 3 Rock Band though we hit the drums, hard, tonight and unfortunately were called out, deservedly, by our downstairs neighbor who (I learned when going down to apologize) is now pregnant. ouch!).

and then, and then, and then . . . there's the "Possibly 4th Street" series.
we taped Nicole Atkins (currently promoting her Neptune City album) on Thursday at a kids' soccer camp (indoors thankfully) and Zookeeper (currently promoting the Becoming All Things CD) on a First Avenue rooftop.
the sessions with Nicole and Zookeeper caused me to wonder what had become of my photographic abilities (if they ever existed; perhaps I just got lucky and stayed lucky for a while). and while in hindsight I still don't believe either will stand among my best work, I'm thinking at least part of the problem on Friday (Zookeeper) was that it was so damn cold I couldn't keep the camera still (see above).
but session Six, Tara Jane O'Neil, (also a cold recording, though nothing like last Friday) posted that day on the Voice blog.
and Michelle Shocked should post in both print and blog tomorrow.

Happy Hanukkah!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

those are people who died, died

sure, people die all the time. every day. every week (I was astounded by the percentage of Italian-American deaths reported in the obit section of the Star-Ledger while in New Jersey for Thanksgiving). but for some reason this past week it seemed the tenor changed.

the recently deceased include Henry Hyde, long-time Illinois Republican and anti-abortion activist who led the House of Representatives' impeachment fight against Bill Clinton (Hyde was later discovered to have carried on at least one long-term (five years) affair while both he and his mistress, Carrie Snodgrass, a mother of three, were married when Hyde was in his 40s (see above). after discovery, Hyde termed the affair a "youthful indiscretion." I haven't seen mention of the rather ironic infidelity in any of the Hyde obituaries),

Evel Knievel, macho daredevil (does it mean anything that Mailer (see earlier entry) and Knievel are both now gone? who, pray tell, will carry the banner of the antiquated onward?) who once attacked writer and promoter Shelly Saltman with a baseball bat (while two of Knievel's associates bravely held Saltman down), shattering Saltman's left arm and wrist, and bringing about a still unpaid multi-million dollar judgement against EK,

Washington Redskins Pro Bowl safety Sean Taylor,

Ralph Beard, a member of Kentucky’s national championship basketball teams in 1948 and 1949 who later pled guilty in a point-shaving scandal that resulted in his being barred for life from the NBA,

Roger Smith, chairman and chief executive of General Motors (made famous to the general public by Michael Moore's first film Roger & Me),

Bobby Van (born Robert Craig Van Velsor), famed pianist and New York City restaurateur,

former Cleveland Browns two-way player Bill Willis who was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977,

Quiet Riot lead singer Kevin DuBrow (at age 52) and

J. Robert Cade, nephrologist (I had to look that one up) and inventor of Gatorade.

possibly even more tragic, on par with the shooting of Sean Taylor, were last weekend's announced deaths of Joe Kennedy, 28-year-old major league pitcher who last season played for the Athletics, Diamondbacks and Blue Jays, and Casey Calvert, 26-year-old guitarist and vocalist for Dayton, Ohio's emo band Hawthorne Heights (we saw them open up for Fall Out Boy at the Dayton Arena (kind of like a minor league hockey facility) a couple of years ago.
the causes of death for both Kennedy and Calvert have yet to be determined.

r.i.p all.