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Friday, November 1, 2013

Best of October, 2013

New York Favorite



Where were we?  In a simpler time, where both the Red Sox and Cubs were cursed.  3 titles in a decade in Boston just doesn't sound right.  More importantly, a legion of Red Sox fans have invaded, gasp, New York City.

Pretty sure before Boston finally broke through in the early 'Oughts you did not see the amount of Red Sox hats on the train platforms, streets and common areas as you do now.  It is understood that Yankees and fans hibernate when their team is eliminated.  That should not give them permission to allow such a hostile takeover.  The indifference , complacency and lack of talent your team exhibits does not allow for passive behavior from its fan base.

Its one thing not watch the World Series because your team sucks.  But c'mon New York and New Jersey!  These Red Sox fans have taken over.  I spent a couple hours yesterday at a Northern New Jersey parochial school's Halloween party and don't remember seeing one Yankees Jersey.  I do remember seeing more than a few kids with full beard masks and Boston uniforms on.  Oh, and a couple parents were in Sawx gear too.

Northern NJ?  Red Sox Nation?

It's the new way, right?  Mariano retires and embraces David Ortiz at Fenway.  We keep our animosity locked up or reserve our finest rage for your favorite "Comments Section."  When the repression reaches a fever pitch sometimes it escalates into violence.  The baseball Giants and LA Dodgers have taken rivalry to a new level.

In simpler days a Yankee fan would tell a Sox fan to "Piss off" if he shared personal space with him/even her.  I remember walking a job site years ago with an Astros hard hat on and getting heckled and threatened.  Union guys yelling at me in a darkened stairwell over an affiliation with a team 1000 miles away and NO history is an eye opener.  Seeing Red Sox hard hats in Lower Manhattan is something far more disturbing.

Listen, I don't have a dog in the fight.  As far as I am concerned Boston, New York, St Louis and every last bit of them represent the Evil Empire.  But let's restore a little order, no?  Defend your turf.

We will be in Newark, NJ tomorrow night watching my wife's beloved Flyers battle the Devils.  You better believe verbal assaults will come her (and our young, impressionable) daughter's way when they arrive in Philadelphia colors.   Oh, and lest we forget the classy "Rangers Suck/Flyers Swallow" chant. How again do you answer your 11 year old when she asks what that means?  Or your wife for that matter?  It's cool.  Enter enemy territory at your own risk.  Good, clean fun I say.

When the games have ended politely (or more often than not, drunkenly) nod your head, walk away, and wait for next time.  The only time it is acceptable to shake hands with your opponent is at the conclusion of an NHL playoff series.  As for the fans, haters be hating.   That need not be a bad thing.

The good news is there was Halloween in New Jersey last night.  Snow storms and Hurricane's took the night off and many kids got to discover tricks and treats for the first time.  It was a glorious night.  Slow, windy rains were present most of the evening.  But it was warm, unseasonably so.  Kids could have worn shorts and gotten away with it.   Children were so excited to be out after a two year hiatus that.  Some kids on my block started at 4pm.  The last kids were out well past 9.  It had a nice ET feel to it.  Except of course it was on a different coast and in a different era.  For a few moments time stood still and could have been Halloween in Anytown, USA.  Any year.  Any decade.

It is what this writer strives for day in and day out.  Some normalcy.  Some beauty.  Some PG13 in a hard R.

November has lots of it.  The trees are in full fall splendor(for at least another week or so.)  There are bright reds, burnt oranges and elegant golds.  Enjoy every moment before the gray of winter grabs hold.  Is there anything worse than staring at a cold, leaf-less tree?

Thanksgiving is weeks away.  It is a time to eat, drink and remind yourselves things could be a whole lot worse.  And question what the hell Jr thinks he is going to do with his Communications degree.  Or why crazy Aunt Helen can't seem to get her shit together.

And two more months of music.  No, not the Holiday garbage that has already infiltrated your local top 40 radio station.  I mean seriously, do we need 2! months of The Waitresses or Elmo and Patsy?  No, we do not.  This has been a terrific year for song, artist and record.  If you cannot get to a show, no biggie.  Here are but a few more tracks that can easily translate on a fall hike, long drive, dour commute, or Lazy Sunday.  Go get yours and enjoy all November has to offer.  And even what it does not.

Cage the Elephant "Come a Little Closer"
This list represents a whos who of acts I have not seen live (yet.)  Kentucky boys Cage, the Elephant are tops on the list.  Their new record is out and this brooding track is the first single.  It is Matthew Schultz's howling vocals that are the star here.

Volcano Choir "Comrade"
Some say Volcano Choir is a "Supergroup."  Sure, Justin Vernon from critic darling Bon Iver is the spirit behind this Wisconsin band.  But "supergroup?"  Don't think so.  This borrows much of Vernon's trademark soft sound and falsetto narrative that made his last record soar.  No, haven't seen any of Vernon's numerous projects live either.  But to me, this is the stuff of relaxation and thoughtful introspection.  Do I need 90 minutes of it?


Placebo "Loud Like Love"
This lesser known 90s act really never went away.  They played Terminal 5 a few weeks back in support of their new record, which shares its name with this power pop ballad.  Every time I hear it I can see Matthew Modine (as Louden Swain) running through the rainy streets training for his bout against Shute.  Louden you can do it!

MS MR "Hurricane"
I would not necessarily say I am late to this party.  The song has been on radio for months now. In fact, they released the video way back in April of 2012.  New York based and Vassar educated duo Lizzy
Plapinger and producer Max Hershenow make up the band.  Its alt lounge music with an emphasis on mood.  Sung well and produced well.  Nuff said.

Polica "Chain My Name"
Another Midwest band (Minneapolis) with ties to Justin Vernon( he joins the band sometimes.)  They are also similar to MS MR as they team a producer (Ryan Olson) with sultry singer (Channy Leaneagh.) It's synth pop, plain and simple.  This groovy diddy is the first single from second album Shulamith, released just 2 weeks ago.

Phantogram "Black Out Days" live from The Current
Yet another duo reliant on synths and a female singer.  And another American act, here from Saratoga Springs, NY.  Sarah Barthel is the voice and keyboardist.   Josh Carter (guitars/vocals) is the other half. They released a self titled, 4 song EP in late September.  Voices, their sophomore record, is on its way.

Grizzly Bear "Will Calls"
What are these guys doing here?  Well, they released an expanded, deluxe, super-sized version of their epic 2012 album Shields recently.  Hard to believe this established Brooklyn act thought this was better off on the cutting room floor.  Well, they learned from their mistake because they included it on the re-issue.  Lucky us.

Dr Dog "Broken Heart"
These cats from Philly have a terrific sound (and are another band I NEED to see live.) There are many good acts coming from that town.  The War on Drugs and Kurt Vile come to my mind too.   Their new record, B-Room, just came out last month.  Two things, first this is their 7th record!  Second, one of the members used to intern for Howard Stern-which is pretty cool.  Another solid song/record from an under the radar group you should be into.  Shame on you!

Killers "Shot at the Night"
 The Killers show in Newark earlier this year was a highlight of 2013.  Brandon Flowers is a real Las Vegas showman and his band knows how to rock.  They released a Greatest Hits record- unreal, but they can actually pull it off.  This new material appears on it and is a great post 80's power ballad.  There are not many who do what Flowers does, and fewer still who do it so well.  Chris Martin?  Black Keys?  Kings of Leon?  You tell me your Arena Band top 5!  No Classic Rock please.  The band must be from 2000 on...

Albert Hammond Jr "St Justice"
Solo Strokes is always better for me than Strokes proper.  A sweet song and a poignant video here (although NSFW.)  It should get your weekend started and propel you deep into November.

Be great everyone!  Or at least be better than your enemies.

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