Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Nurse the Hate: Alex Rodriguez

I'm minding my own business watching the Blue Jays lose my wager on them when Alex Rodriguez once again shows what a punk he is. Two out, top of the ninth, A Rod on first and Matsui is on third. Posada skies a routine fly ball in between short and third. As Rodriguez rounds second, he splits John MacDonald and whoever the hell is playing third for the Blue Jays. The third baseman is in position to make the catch, when all of a sudden he backs off it and the ball drops. Run scores, everybody safe, Yankees up 8-5.

John MacDonald is furious and gets in Rodriguez's face, and A Rod gets that indignant "You have the nerve to question me?" look he does so well. Turns out Rodriguez yelled "I got it" when he ran behind the third baseman, and that's why the ball dropped. Legal? I guess, but it's really a first class p-u-n-k PUNK play all the way. The football equivalent is if you were on special teams and blindside a guy 35 yards away from the play while the whistle is blowing. Is it legal? Yeah, but you better watch your knees next time down the field.

What is it about that guy that makes him seem so classless and cheap? It can't help that he plays next to his baseball opposite in Derek Jeter. Jeter makes the clutch hits, competes hard, and finds a way to win within the spirit of the game. A Rod pulls crap like tonight, never seems to get a hit in the clutch, and blames everyone else when it all goes wrong. Remember when he ran out of the base path in the ALCS against Boston and knocked the ball out of the first baseman's glove? He had that same "Who me?" look that time too. His stats may look great at the end of the year, but I always think of these cheap little plays he makes that obscure everything else. Why do you think Yankee fan is so quick to boo him at the drop of a hat?

Random Note: It's worth taking a flier on the Cavs to win the East at 2-1, and the whole ball of wax at 10-1. I think the Cavs win the series vs Detroit, and I'll take 10-1 all day long. Hell, I think they won the season series vs San Antonio this year.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Nurse the Hate: Kings of Leon

I went to check out the Kings of Leon at the House of Blues in Cleveland this week. This would mark the third time I have seen them play, and I've always had a good time at their shows. It is interesting to note however, how they have become apparently more beholden to the "business" of music over time. Example: The first time I saw them play was on the release of their first record. They played the small room in the Cleveland Agora in front of about 100 people, and the band looked like some cross of The Allman Brothers (circa 1972), Moby Grape, and a thrift store Sgt Pepper. Shakily heading from song to song, they really had a scruffy charm. If I remember correctly, they played their first record and that was it. Good evening ladies and gents, those are our 12 songs!

The next time I saw them, they had been cleaned up a bit. They played the sold out Beachland, thanks to weekly national press placement from whatever kick ass PR agent handles them. I guess they had an open date from a series of dates with the Rolling Stones. That year they would also do shows opening for Bob Dylan and U2. How was your year?

The presentation was a little more polished, and they definitely had the songs down cold. It was pretty impressive, and seemed like they really had the momentum rolling. (There's a pretty funny story about Whiskey Daredevil guitar player Bob Lanphier stumbling into their dressing room that night with a gutful of Jack Daniels. Jack had told Bob to go tell the guys how much he liked their show, but their British road manager guy wasn't that interested in having some NE Ohio drunk in their midst. Who can blame him? They were on the Stones date at Madison Square Garden the night before. That's a helluva fall from grace. Hanging out with Mick and Keith in the Garden...18 hours later, having no nonsense Cleveland guys pinching beers from your plastic beer tub in the Beachland basement.)

The date last week presented a stark contrast from the Agora show. Instead of some scruffy kids playing their version of rock n roll, you could almost smell the consultants, personal trainers, nutritionists, and label direction in the air. Replace that 1960s/70s Southern hippie rocker look with $700 haircuts, clean shaven faces, tight white jeans, and a pink t shirt/gold chain combo that I saw last on the set of "Footloose". Yes, they toured with U2 in Europe. That could give just about anyone bad ideas. They're impressionable young men for God's sake. And yes, I know the label has fronted all that dough to make sure their picture was in the press every week. They definitely need to get paid. Here's an idea. Maybe the way to do that is to just let them do what they do. It is the reason you signed them in the first place, no?

Hopefully the band will stop listening to the corporate people that generally know nothing about creativity, and just make the music they want to make the way they want to make it. If this current record and tour is representative of the music they want to make, my impression is "Oh Oh".

Random Notes: Nothing pisses me off more than people not taking responsibility for their actions. I saw last week where the family of deceased Cardinal pitcher Josh Hancock is suing the bar where he was drinking prior to his fatal accident. Josh Hancock spent 3 1/2 hours at a bar knocking back drinks. While speeding and talking on his cell phone, he then drove his SUV into the back of a stopped tow truck. Police toxicology reports found him to be legally drunk and with weed in his system (and in the wreckage). His father responds by suing the bar, the manager of the bar, the tow truck driver AND the guy who's car stalled out and was being towed. Mr. Hancock, your son died tragically. Don't blame everyone else. He's the one that fucked up...I had a real nice weekend with nice underdog wins on Washington over St Louis, and the Angels over the Yanks. As long as the line keeps showing the Yankees as favorites, I'll keep hitting those games. I took a loss on the Brewers at +175 against the Padres and Peavy. He's been absolutely lights out so far and probably an early Cy Young favorite in the NL....The limited edition bottling of Great Lakes Brewing "Lake Erie Monster" is really nice. It's a super hopped up IPA with 9% alcohol. It tastes nice and smooth, but you better stay in your shoes or you'll get a real attitude adjustment...Loving the Tribe sweeping the Tigers in Detroit. This team looks legit.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Nurse the Hate: Still Hate the Yankees

I am so excited about the Yankees floundering around right now. It’s really just the best, isn’t it? All those cocky fat turd Yankee fans aren’t chiming in about all those championships from years past now, are they? Here’s a question…How can you spend $500 million dollars in payroll, and forget to buy pitching? Did it just slip their minds, or are they convinced that a rotation of Mussina, Pettite, Igawa, Wang, and 47 year old Roger Clemons is going to get it done? Even better is the fact that when those chumps get knocked off the mound in the fifth, there’s no reliable help in the bullpen. The icing on the cake? Mariano Rivera is finally showing himself to be mortal, and has looked very shaky out there. Throw in a new steroid scandal with Jason Giambi, and now you’ve really got something! (Did anyone but me notice how Giambi got caught with steroids, lost 50 lbs of muscle, couldn’t hit, put 50 lbs of muscle mysteriously back on, and started to hit again? That wouldn’t be HGH, would it? Just asking…)

I love the track. In what is one of the last bastions of true manliness, the track has it all. Where else can you find scruffy degenerates drinking draft beer from paper cups, eating questionable nachos, and yelling “C’mon Queen! Gimme some sugar! Gimme some sugar! Daddy needs some sugar!” and not have anyone even think of it as being odd? Even more importantly, why do I feel at home there? Let’s not dwell on that, and instead focus on the Preakness. I dropped a little action on the Preakness for a gentleman that just had an operation and couldn’t make it there himself. Based on his selections, I think the morphine might still be flowing through his body. I took a flier on an exacta box with Curlin and Street Sense, and a trifecta box of Street Sense, Hard Spun, and Circular Quay. I don’t make any claim to know what I’m doing, but since I cleaned up on the Cavs game (+135 on the money line, thank you) I figured what the hell. Circular Quay might be a mistake in there. I’ll probably regret not putting King of the Roxy in the mix…

Random Notes: Jermain Taylor should beat Cory Spinks tonight in a decision. The real action is on the undercard where Youngstown’s Kelly Pavlik gets a shot at Edison Miranda. Both of these guys are big punchers, so there should be plenty of action. Pavlik is a slight underdog, and is a nice option at +125...I played a couple shows with Dick Dale this week. The guy still shreds on guitar, but his set list is a bit of a mystery. Why the hell is Dick Dale playing (and I’m not making this up) “House of the Rising Sun”, “Fever”, “Folsom Prison Blues”, “Rumble” and some medley with “Smoke on the Water”? He could absolutely kill if he played all his monster originals right down the line. Miserlou/Mr Eliminator/Run for Life/Nitro/Let’s Go Trippin/Taco Wagon/Etc, etc, etc. When I was walking around the venues, I don’t recall anyone saying, “Oh Man! I hope he plays Fever tonight!”. Hey, he can do what he wants, but everyone in that room wants to hear Dick Dale play Dick Dale songs…I saw the Hold Steady and Heartless Bastards last Sunday with a band on the bill that tried to be The Clash. (The problem is when bands want to be the Clash, everybody wants to be Joe Strummer. “No way! You wear the beret and creepers! I’m wearing the work jacket and combat boots.” No one wants to be Mick Jones apparently. The end result is that you‘ve got two Joe Strummers and a guy playing a bass swung real low.) The Heartless Bastards and Hold Steady were both really good. I loved the fact that the Hold Steady are juxtaposing classic rock hooks with original wordplay. They have a genuine quality to them. Heartless Bastards were also really impressive. I don’t know where that giant voice comes from out of that tiny woman. Great rhythm section too. Those guys really lock in together.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Nurse the Hate: Hate Where You Live

I was going through some old luggage when I found some things I had jotted down about Positano, Italy. Wherever you are when you read this, I can assure you it pales in comparison to the sheer beauty and asthetic appeal of Positano. Let me make this clear: Your home town is a stinking dried up turd in comparison. You live here: This is what Positano looks like: I would suggest going there immediately.

Positano is a cliched Hollywood set version of a "Italian Fishing Village". It has all the inherent quaintness of the aforementioned village, but has been transformed into a Grade A Tourist Town. You'd like to see a grizzled old sea salt tending his nets by the water's edge on the beach, but if you did you'd expect him to be there strictly for the photo optional, but appreciated. Although there is the expectation of being fleeced by the locals, the genuine Italian hospitality helps overcome that fear (and helps you live with the hellishly high prices). As I write this, it's 10pm and I'm sitting on a deck overlooking the calm as glass Mediterranean illuminated by a full moon that must be larger than the one in Ohio. Down the cascading cliffs in the sprawling village below a voice wafts up "That's Amore"...which then medleys into Elvis's "It's Now Or Never". The illusion of the village unchanged by time is shattered by the appearance of The King. Truly, Elvis is everywhere.

A ridiculously scenic drive across twisting cliff side roads brings you to this little oasis cut into the rock. We took the train from Rome to Napoli, and just missed a connection to Sorrento. The grimy Napoli train station feels like a place a stopwatch is set with a specific time until you are going to be robbed. Imagine a Greyhound station in Buffalo in July before the various human vermin have received their government checks on the 15th. Eyes dart around the station looking for an easy score. A quick decision was made to take an insanely expensive cab ride to Positano, but the upside was a drive through the breathtaking views of ancient towns cut into the sides of the cliffs. (Editor's Note: After 11 months, I just finished paying off the last installment loan payment for this cab ride.)

As I write this, the sons of the last generation of the local hardworking fisherman sing "Volare" to the grinning tourists enjoying their digestivos. It's sad to think these men have been reduced to performing like monkeys for flabby grey skinned Brits. "Oh look Louise! Just like on the telly!" Before I feel too bad, I click the math off and realize their little soft shoe probably makes more than a day yanking sardines out of the sea. The hours must be better too.

There is only a twisting one way road that snakes down the cliff side from the top of the steep grade to the beach below. Along the way, various shops sell identical linen tops and skirts for women, and disinterested shopkeepers lazily glance at you while you stroll by. Restaurants serve local specialties with off kilter English translations on the printed menu. Example? After a long day of humping it down the coast, nothing beats a plate of rocket, scrimps, and frutes of the sea. You would expect the seafood to be fresh, but with all the able bodied men apparently doing the vaudeville thing, I wonder who actually brings in the catch? Maybe if I wake up early enough, I'll see if anyone from town hops in one of those Hollywood set boats moored in the bay, and heads out for some "frutes of the sea". It would be a drag to discover the seafood was all caught by Japanese fishing boats a couple weeks ago in the Pacific, flash frozen and then trucked in from Napoli...

We're at the Conca d'Oro, a family owned hotel. It's all ceramic tile and bright colors with plenty of extra care taken for comfort of the guests. The woman that was at the front desk at check in was part of the family, and had obvious pride of ownership. She practically glowed when she told me, "This is the best place in the world to live!". It's clearly not a bad place to be raised. Crystal clear waters lapping at homes cut into the rocky coastline of the sun soaked Mediterranean...One day lazily drifting into the next...Terrific food and wine...Then again, Mansfield OH is supposed to be nice too.

I digress...After you take the serpentine down to the bottom of the hill, a small beach of little smooth black pebbles awaits. The water is blue and clear, and overweight tourists lounge on small blankets. A private beach is available on either side of the main beach where a small fee will reward you with a couple of chairs and an umbrella. Sandwich boards tout discount boat trips to Capri where you can view "the beautiful people". This is the island where guys that look like Jude Law that come from old money take their snotty jet set girlfriends.

We decide to take a boat over to Capri. Since I forgot to bring shorts with me (and I am certainly not climbing the hillside like a goddamn billygoat), I'll shuffle around Capri in my low rent bathing suit and mismatched t shirt oblivious to the critical eyes of the fashionista. Once again, despite a pre pack check list, I have failed to properly pack. Maybe I'll buy one of those linen shorts numbers on the beach walk and "go native". However, the fear of the shorts shrinking to my body after a swim and featuring my frightened little cold turtle to the beachside crowd might not be the best decision. No one said relaxing was easy.

Random Notes: A CD I just picked up that's surprisingly good is The Buzzcocks latest "Flat Pack Philosophy". If you have the essential "Singles Going Steady", and have played the crap out of it over the years like I have, you should check it out. They sound as good as ever, and the songs are really strong (especially the Pete Shelly songs). You have to keep the expectation level in check though. It's not like they're horny spurned 20 year olds anymore, but they're still bitching about their usual topics....I picked up a nice win on the Dodgers today as they went off as dogs to the Marlins with Dontrelle Willis on the mound. Willis was a very shaky 5-1, and the public forgot that Brett Tomko can pitch/LA is a legitimate contender. I've got the Tribe as a dog tonight too as Byrd is on the hill against the offensively challenged Angels. I'll be lighting my cigar with V chips by tomorrow morning! (You don't bet offshore with dollars. That would be illegal. You bet with "V Chips". Coincidentally, one V chip can be purchased for one dollar.)...It took me a few listens, but I dig that Black Lips "Valientes Del Mundo Nuevo" record. Sloppy as hell garage-abilly with the right amount of "we don't give a fuck".

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Nurse the Hate: Cinco de Mayo

Today is laying out as one of the greatest days possible. In order, here's what we're looking at:

1) The Kentucky Derby: Who is going to win? Hell, I don't know. There's 20 frickin' horses! Anyone can win! But, it's always good to have some action down on the race to help with the taste of those sickly sweet mint jelups. Box up a trifecta with a couple favorites and a live underdog and see what happens. I hit one of those a few years ago for $700, and I don't know anything.

2) Southern Culture on the Skids: The always reliable SCOTS makes a stop at The Beachland on their Countrypolitan tour. Is there any better way to spend an evening than whipping chicken at twisting girls and a masked Mexican wrestler on stage? I think the Lords of the Highway are on the bill too as we turned it down due to my having to go to a wedding. But that's not going to get in the way of my enjoying...

3) DeLaHoya v. Mayweather: The Golden Boy is living on borrowed time as he has looked slow and old in his last four fights. Mayweather is the real deal, and as long as he doesn't get suckered into trading punches, I don't think Oscar can hit him. Granted, that' a big "if". If Mayweather tries to do what he did in the early rounds with Zab Judah, Oscar can knock him out. I don't think that will happen though. I think Floyd is going to drop a long methodical beatdown on DeLaHoya over 12 rounds. DeLaHoya should have taken a loss to Sturm, and he's 7-4 in his last 11 fights. Get on Mayweather to win baby, and enjoy...

4) Cinco de Mayo: To quote Cake, "I don't know much about Cinco de Mayo, I'm not too sure what it's all about". What I do know is there's going to be plenty of Tecate specials all over town.

Random Notes: I just read Cormac McCarthy's "The Road". Now there's a book that'll screw your head up. I don't know if there's a better writer alive right now. His work will be analyzed for generations to come...I can't believe there's enough comic book geeks to support a $500 million dollar Spiderman 3. What a waste of time and money...When I hear the Riverboat Gamblers "Rattle Me Bones", I feel like lighting my car on fire and driving it through a plate glass window of a china shop just so I can participate in the glorious noise blasting out of my speakers...You want a winner today? Stay on Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays. That guy is my personal ATM machine...If you ever see a 1996 Lynch Bages, I would buy it. That wine was awesome. Balanced fruit up front with the earthy texture that is unmistakeably Pauillac. If that wine was an album, it would be The Beatles "Revolver".

Nurse the Hate: Hate Rolling Stone's 40th Anniversary

Why do I continue to allow Rolling Stone to be delivered to my house? It pisses me off every time it arrives in my mailbox, and yet I read it. Is it because I want to look at the latest photo of Beyonce and Jay Z hanging out at some douchebag club in New York? Is it because I want to see which record company has purchased the best review of the issue? (Call me cynical, but I'll bet that new Nine Inch Nails might not be 4 star. It's probably pretty hard for Trent Reznor to conjure up enough personal pain in his little tears factory so Interscope can move enough units to justify his budget. I haven't heard it, so if I'm wrong feel free to corrrect me.)

The reason I must read it is so I can enjoy the irritation of reading how the Baby Boomers changed everything in the 1960s, and we stopped a war, and blah blah blah. Have you seen the 4oth Aniversary issue currently on newstands? It's something else. Rolling Stone interviews key players from the late 60s, and asks self serving questions about how important the magazine used to be and how monumental the Baby Boom generation continues to be. Example: Mick Jagger is asked "Would you agree that babyboom children after the war precipitated a significant generational break?". And here's the pitch...It's a 80 mph fastball up and over the middle of the plate! "Mick, could you take a moment to reassure everyone in the Baby Boom generation that protesting the Vietnam War, taking drugs, and having sex for a 2-3 year span while they were in their early twenties more than makes up for the fact that later on this same generation squandered all of our natural resources, and lived off the fat of the land for the next 35-40 years?"

Shut up already! Rolling Stone and the Baby Boom generation as a whole are like that guy you went to high school with that still wears his letterman jacket and says "Do you remember that party at Stiffler's house after prom? Man, that was great...". Yes, it was. But it was also 38 years ago. Got any new stories? I've heard that one about ten thousand times.