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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Best of February, 2014

This is me for the past 4 months


Listen, I had a pretty remarkable experience playing basketball in high school.  This time of year brings back very fond memories.  I was an average player at best.  My ball handling was adequate.  I had a pretty nice jumper.  More than anything I could play defense.  It was my calling card and it was probably the only reason I was allowed on the floor.  Nothing was better than leading a break and knowing I had two strikers on my side able to score.  We were a bunch of West Jersey punks with no business doing as well as we did.  My last two years we were 45-6 and won our league easy.  Usually we made it to the second round in States and take a beating from an urban school, like the legendary St Anthony's Friars from Jersey City.  Sure, we would lose by 50 in their famed Armory/home gym.  But I could tell my grandkids that I was on the foul line next to 5 future D-1 players.  My game was more suited to awkward, lunch-hour, YMCA business executive's runs.  For a goofy dork like me this was pretty cool.

I was never in better shape.  I was never more eager to play.  It was a joy to be in the gym in late February.  The stakes were a little higher.  I remember our locker room steps.  Walking upstairs and hearing the music start.  Getting ready to take the court the rush of adrenaline was paralyzing.  The crowds were bigger.  It was louder.  I was a real basketball junkie.  Which is why I never really left the game.

I was a hack player.  But my coach was a rock star.  In his day he was a gifted player.  He was our school's leading scorer.  He led them to a state title.  He went on to become a college star and has since had their gym named after him.  Local.  Freaking. Legend.

And as good a player as he was, he was probably a better coach.

He taught us all the right things.  His drills kept us fit.  His nasal voice was stern, encouraging and forceful when it had to be.  His sense of humor kept practices entertaining.  But he could lash out if you were not on board.  He played kids that deserved to play and would never consider listening to a parents opinion on how to run his team.

As I get ready to coach March Madness, 6th grade Catholic league edition, I wonder if his methods would be frowned upon in today's World.   I know mine are.  And I think I do a pretty good job.

At what age are you comfortable having someone really coach your kid?  Is it middle school?  Before that?

Is it too harsh at any time?  Can they swear at your kid?  If so, what age?

If your son/daughter is not performing up to potential when can coach say "you suck."  Never? Really?

If we never hear that how will we learn when we are sucking?  I read the news (ok, I read the internet  from borderline reputable websites.)  More specifically I read The Onion and 1010wins.  But I get the sense we are still in a down time economically.  Far as I can tell we still are at war.  And if it isn't us someone else is fighting.  Syria, Ukraine and Sudan come to mind without much research.  They are killing people there right?

Point is, we are not all perfect.  We should start hearing about our imperfections as soon as is humanly possible.

We need all the time possible to correct them.

If we fail to inform our youth what is needed to succeed, we have failed them.

We are not all winners.  We don't all get trophies.  We can complain about it all we want.  And all of that is just fine.

That said, I am going to go win this bitch.

Getting excited for the brackets to be revealed  

We still do music here.  And although the hoops season has rendered live concerts obsolete, some key music has stayed in focus.  Please add these songs to your latest playlist.  Lots of new releases coming up and many live concerts on the schedule.  The spring should be a blast.  Now, if Mother Nature just gets her act together and cooperates.  Have a great March and be well!!

Reputante Album Art



M83 "I Need You"

Synth composer/producer/performer M83 has mostly been doing soundtrack work since his hugely successful last record, Hurry Up, We're Dreaming.   Last year he worked on Tom Cruise's Oblivion.  His latest, featuring a sax solo Tina Turner could sing to, appears on the Divergent soundtrack.   I have little, if no interest, in watching either of those films.  But I can listen to this all day.

Dum Dum Girls "Rimbaud Eyes"

LA based girl band led by Dee Dee Perry released Too True in January.  The ladies are sexy, let's just say that right up front.  Take a look/listen to David Letterman salivate over them on the clip above.  In it he asks for them to come by every night.  All that aside, their mix of 60's rhythm and blues and rock and roll is refreshing.  This song, referencing the French poet, is a fine example.

Sun Kil Moon "Ben's My Friend"

Lots of California on this months list.  Mark Kozelek is the man behind this folk rock act.  This song, an ode to Death Cab/The Postal Service alt hero Ben Gibbard, is effective in it's simplicity.  Benji, the band's 6th studio album, was released this month.

Hospitality "I Miss Your Bones"

The NY based punk-pop trio will soon release Trouble,  their follow up to their critically acclaimed successful self titled 2012 alt-debut.  Lead singer and guitarist Amber Papini leads the power trio.  It is no nonsense, bass driven, rock and roll.  The first single is addictive.  Give it a try.



St Vincent "Digital Witness"

Annie Clark gets herself a lot of buzz.  She has appeared on Portlandia.  She toured and made a record with David Byrne.  Hell I saw her appear at a National show last year in Brooklyn.  Her PR machine is strong.  Her music?  Well that is up for debate.  This song, and visually stunning video, are both impressive.  I hear lots of Annie Lennox and maybe Siousie Sioux when Clark is at her best. This might be that moment.

HelloGoodbye "Everything is (Debatable)"

California synth pop.  These cats have been around for a little over 10 years and released their 3rd LP,  Everything is Debatable, late last year.  The title track echoes 80s feel good bands like Culture Club, Human League, Thomas Dolby, Level 42 and many more.  It's a very comfortable song.  Sometimes that is all you need.

Gap Dream "Fantastic Dream"

Fullerton, California is where  Gabriel Fulvimar calls home.  He has described his pop project, Gap Dream, as "an attempt to find a chill spot just to organize his mind."  Lots of synths and vocal effect dominate this track.  I can't get enough of it.

Kevin Drew "Good Sex"

Canadian musician Kevin Drew cut his teeth with the baroque-pop band Broken Social Scene.  His solo record, Darlings, should arrive in a few months.  The opening track exults the virtues of good sex.  Who am I to argue?

Eels "Agatha Chang"

There are few bands that get me quite as giddy as eels.  News of a new record and tour probably fell under your radar.  Not here.  This is the first release from the forthcoming (April 14) Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett.   Everett's droopy, soulful voice is best when he sings about longing.  This is about as dreary as I get.  But no one does it better than E.  His NYC tour will hit the legendary Apollo Theatre in June.  You really should be there.  For more: eels official

Damien Jurado "Silver Timothy"

Mr Jurado has, like, a million albums dating back to 1997.  He is Seattle, Washington based and has released music under both the SubPop and Secret Canadian labels.  Being the true pro I am my introduction with him was about 2 weeks ago.  This song is a trippy nod to the "Girl with Ipanema."  I could see Hunter S Thompson listening to this as he rode through the desert.  Smooth, velvety lyrics layer nicely over howling guitars and a groovy organ.  I may have missed a huge body of work.  The beauty is I can go catch up on all I missed.

Annie Clark, aka St Vincent











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