Roughly 36 hours until the baseball games count for real. What a great time. The weather is turning, the puffy coats are retreating to closets. I’m not all that optimistic about my Yanks this season, but that’s OK. I’m sure it’ll still be a fun season. Lets go Yanks! Continue reading We’re not the only ones doing this
In a lot of ways I’m going to miss 2014. The previous year ended on such a sour note for me that 2014 was bound to be better, based on the balance of nature. 2014 still had its ups and downs, but just like before we made it through the good and the bad. As in previous years, I’m going to stick to what I know, baseball, beer, food and music. Here is 2014 as it mattered to me.
Just A Bit Outside
Madison Bumgarner! Wow, what else can you say. The surly lefty carried the SF Giants on his back to a World Series win. I love the guy, but know that he’s gonna have it rough in 2015 with all those innings logged this year. The Kansas City Royals making it to within an out of tying the series was incredibly impressive as well. Baseball, really needed that and obviously so did the KC fans. It gave a lot of hope to just about any team. A few smart moves and your team could end up in the same spot. That’s probably my favorite thing about baseball now, the parity and quality of competition. Just about every team, bar a few exceptions, have a chance to compete. The Yankees season was just frustrating all around. Injuries and old age really caught up with the team this year. Quote from last year “This team badly needs a youth infusion”. The same sentiment rings true again. They are moving in the right direction, but still have so many questions about their injuries, age and depth. I hope they have a few more moves in store for this offseason, because the team as it looks now, is not a playoff team. And as KC showed, just getting in is half the battle some times. Anything can happen in the postseason now a days.
Last thing about baseball. I cannot remember what it’s like to watch a Yankee game without good old #2 in the lineup. I cannot believe it’s been 20 years since the Yanks had a shortstop different from Derek Jeter. I was fortunate to see him play one of his very first games in 1996 and one of his last in 2014. The guy was a competitor, a class act and a winner. We should be so lucky to see a player like that in our lifetime. He will be missed, by both myself and baseball fans around the world. Best of luck to the man in whatever he decides to do in the future.
The Foamy Stuff
I enjoyed so many great beers this year. There was the amazing Bruery event at Gingerman in September that featured so many beers I never thought I’d try. As for other beers I’ve enjoyed, the new Brooklyn brewery, Other Half did not disappoint one bit. They make tons of hoppy and floral beers, Green Diamonds and Southernhopalistic amongst the best. They have a cool little tasting room as well. Worth a visit if you can make it. Transmitter in LIC is also making some really fantastic saison and farmhouse beers, some with really funky sour notes to them. You can try just about anything of theirs and it will be solid.
My favorite new beer bar in NYC, is the conveniently located Bondurants in the Upper East Side. They have a fantastic selection, with a good amount of quality beers on draft, plus really solid food and friendly, knowledgable staff. It’s a great looking bar too, with old wood finish and an awesome copper bar. Other new favorites include the Jeffrey and Fools Gold. Both solid spots with great selections. Lots of great new places opened this year, one of the more anticipated being the Bronx Brewery’s spot in Hunters Point. Surprisingly a quick 20 minute subway ride from the UES.
In My Belly
It was yet another great year for eating out and food. I tried a bunch of new spots in 2014. Amongst my favorite was the fantastic thin crust pizza and rabbit meatballs at Marta. The Roman-style pizza was inventive and delicious, with toppings like a sunny side egg, tripe, goat sausage and zucchini flowers. Lots of other good stuff on the menu as well. Another of my favorite new places tried was Bar Primi, in the old Peels location on the Bowery. Really solid garlic linguini, kicked up with 4 cloves of the stuff. Really solid. Easily one of my favorite dishes tried all year. Alidoro makes probably my favorite sandwiches in the city. So good.
Another of my favorite new places was Mimi Cheng’s dumplings in the East Village. They are doing some cool stuff with dumplings, aside from traditional versions. They had a buffalo chicken dumpling earlier in the fall, plus a Thanksgiving dumpling. Their homemade sauce is also pretty great, so good, I think they should sell it on it’s own. It would become a hot condiment, much like hot honey or sriracha. Speaking of which, Mokbar in Chelsea market is doing some really cool and inventive stuff with Korean-style ramen and kimchi. Their lunch special bibimbap topped with seasonal vegetables, spicy dressing and pork, was one of the best I’ve ever had. Can’t wait to get back there and try more stuff from the menu.
In One Ear
Like last year, I’m going to start with some of the records that I think are good, but just missed on something. First off, is the SBTRKT album. I was expecting so much from this album, maybe unrealistically so. The previous album was a revelation, mixing many electronic, dance, dub and hiphop elements, plus combining an array of talented quest vocalists. The first few singles showed so much promise too. However this record really falters on so many levels. The songs seem incomplete and as if they were written for the vocalists involved, instead of bringing them in as almost another instrument. That’s what made the first album so special. There was a cohesive vibe and the vocalists all blended into the formula so well. A few other records that I was expecting a lot more from include the Gaslight Anthem, Ariel Pink, Antlers and iceage records. The Gaslight album just fell short in memorable hooks and stories. A fine album, but that’s all. The Ariel Pink just didn’t seem to take his songwriting to the next level as I expected. The Antlers, maybe got a little too much into making a certain kind of record. A couple great songs, but a lot of boring fluff too. The iceage album is just sloppy. I don’t mind the change in direction, they just didn’t fulfill it. The production is just bad, with much of the album sounding terrible, despite some really inventive songwriting. All you hear is vocals, when the instrumentation was begging to be let out.
Finally, on to the best! The Horrors delivered what I think might be their best record yet. They’ve developed from an art-house punk project into one of the most important UK acts around. Luminous takes their sound and just makes it groovier and picking up the pace. The low end really shines through on this album. There are some sick grooves amongst the droney psychedelia, shoegaze and krautrock stylization. It’s an album that could be listened to going on a long run or paired with a bottle of vodka and hallucinogens. It’s wacked out and trippy, but also very rhythmic and machinelike at times. They made a love ballad and huge Soundgarden type riffs(Mine and Yours) all on the same album. They have perfected their formula and are once again my album of the year.
My second favorite album of the year is Tampa post-punk outfit Merchandise’s After the End. I jokingly told a young colleague of mine that they sounds like The Smiths meet The Wedding Present meets Talk Talk. He obviously looked at me and had no clue what I was talking about. Bare with me though. It’s a fantastic record that wouldn’t have sounded out of place being played to death in an early 90’s college dorm. It’s got that angst ridden influence of 80’s Brit-pop yet totally American spirit that many of my generation grew up on. Just a fantastic album that combines so much of what I loved in music growing up, yet feels fresh and original. Cloud Nothings Here and Nowhere Else is just an amazing piece of abrasive, fast paced rock and roll with lyrics that explore mental illness, heartbreak and growing up. It’s a punk rock record for 2014. The guitars are loud and edgy, the drumming is propulsive and maybe some of the best I’ve heard all year. Fantastic album from these kids. 8 songs in 28 minutes. Fuck Yeah! Cheatahs self-titled album is much of what I loved about indie(er..college) rock in the 90’s. Sprawlling guitars, hushed vocals, heavy rhythmsection and some stare at the floor shoegaze. I’m a sucker for that shit, everyone knows that. This album hits on all those notes. They were also the loudest band I saw all year….proportionately speaking of course. We Were Promised Jetpacks third album is the realization of years of hard work. Unraveling sees the young Scots leave behind some of the campy, pubescent, nerd punk they were so known for and sees a mature, thoughtful and driven band. They are louder, tighter and more developed. Structurally, they have more in common with bands like Snow Patrol and Coldplay(the good kind), then they do with what they sounded like before. The songs are a little darker and grander then they’ve ever been before. Huge leap by these guys. Live too, they destroy now.
The rest of the top ten is a mix of old and new. The Eagulls, made a dark post-punk album that just kicks you in the face. It’s measured, aggresive and angular, with tons of feedback and swirling noise. Toronto’s Death From Above 1979 delivered their 2nd proper studio album, a mere 10 years after their first. It seems like they did not skip a beat, with deep groves, explosive beats and snarky vocals. They developed their craft over the years and sound much more cohesive and accomplished than ever before. Pains of Being Pure At Heart make heart on your sleeve power pop. They’ve gotten really, really good at it. Gone are the days of the back-room indie twee, this band has a full and dynamic sound. They scored a Hershey’s commercial for crying out loud. It makes me happy everytime I see it. Spoon’s 19th record, well not really it’s only their 8th, but seems like they’ve been around forever huh? Another fantastic album, this one a bit more Elvis Costello than the last record, which I thought was a bit mellow. This is a bunch of methodically crafted songs of jangly pop infused with Southern soul. Excellent as always. Jungle, came through with one of the best debut records in recent memory. They had a ton of hype around them and it was pulsating when they played their first live show in the US last March. I don’t think anyone thought they’d look like they do, which I actually really loved about it. They made a really soulful and groovy record that would make disciples of TV on the Radio and Ratatat proud.
From there, a bunch of great albums from old mainstays, TV On The Radio, Interpol, Kevin Drew, Jesse Ware, Kele Okerke, Wild Beasts, Twilight Sad, Caribou, The Drums, Aurelio Valle and more, plus Nenah Cherry came back with a phenomenal new album produced by Fourtet, her first in some time. Run the Jewels made the hip hop album of the year and let us hear something from Zach De La Rocha for the first time in ages. The Jazz June returned with their fist album in some ten years. New stuff from upstarts and new acts Ryan Hemsworth, Movement, Ume, Little Daylight, Perfume Genius, Alvvays, FKA Twigs, War on Drugs, Phantogram, The Young, Single Mothers, and Bass Drum of Death. Additionally, there were some really solid EP’s and singles from Operators, featuring Dan Boeckner from Wolf Parade, plus a solid EP from No Devotion, featuring old friend Geoff from Thursday, plus the remaining members of Lostprophets. Additionally, old pal Walter Schreifels popped up on Vanishing Life, a melodic hardcore band he fronts. And finally, Les Sins the dancey side project of Chaz Bundick, the mastermind behind Toro y Moi.
Listening Pile: The Horrors– In and Out of Sight – My favorite song on the album, this trippy sounscape of swirling guitars and funky bassline is just so incredibly awesome. The video is weird. Looks like some sort of loopy clip. Maybe fan made. Don’t know.
What a year. 2013 flew by. The days get shorter, life gets longer. It started off great, then there were some odd bumps in the road as spring turned into summer. However, we made it through the good and the bad. A few years ago, someone told me to stick to what I know, baseball, beer and music. So, here goes. This is a rundown of 2013 as it mattered, to me. A Couple Things I Think I Think about 2013
Just A Bit Outside
Baseball, again ended with the Red Sox as champions. They went from last to first, which gives every single team optimism going into next season. To think, a few good moves one way or another could lead a team to a title. The Yankees season was a bit disappointing, considering how many star players missed time due to injury. It was a bit refreshing seeing role players and washed up guys help out at times, but it will definitely be good to see the injured stars and new acquisitions next year. Hopefully the team doesn’t continue to age so poorly. This team badly needs a youth infusion.
As for the rest of baseball, it was an interesting season, filled with upstart teams that really gave their fans something to cheer about, such as the Royals, Indians and Pirates. If there are three teams I can think of that really deserve to win for their fans, it’s those three teams right there. On the mound, Max Scherzer was pretty money all year long, so was Clayton Kershaw, again. Is it any coincidence both are free agents in the next two years, just as the Yanks are looking to stash some cash away for a rainy day?
Another great year of youth being infused into baseball. It’s always a joy seeing young guys like Mike Trout, Yasiel Puig, Jose Fernandez, and Will Myers make a huge impact at such a young age. I’ve always been a big fan of prospects and young players. It’s great to see them come up and be stars. Now hopefully the Yanks can start figuring out how to acquire and develop some of those guys.
One more thing about baseball. I would love to say thank you to Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, both of which retired this year and made a huge impact on my life and my team. You will both be missed. I was lucky enough to be in Tampa on the day Mariano announced his retirement and made his first appearance in Spring Training 2013. Lucky indeed.
The Foamy Stuff
Another great year of beer. I had tons of great beers both here in NYC and on the road, including stops in San Diego, Austin, Tampa, Toronto, Niagara Falls, Peekskill, Philly and Connecticut. In San Diego, I got to try Pliny the Elder and Stone’s Enjoy By on back to back tastes at the Stone Brewpub, which is a must visit for any beer lover. It was by far my favorite brewery I’ve ever been to. It’s so awesome, you could literally have a wedding there, it’s that beautiful. Also visited Lost Abbey/Pizza Port on that trip. That was pretty awesome too. While in Austin, I tried beers from TX brewery Jester King, which is worth the hype. Also, got to try my very first Oklahoma Beer from Prairie Artisan Ales. Tampa was for Hunaphu Day at Cigar City again. Loved every moment of the fest again this year. Enjoyed tons of great beers and made tons of new friends. Can’t wait for this year.
In terms of other beers I’ve enjoyed, really loved just about every beer I’ve tried from Peekskill. Love them so much, I visited them twice this year. Westbrook from South Carolina is another brewery making great beers. They just came into NYC this year and I’ve loved just about everything I’ve tried including the IPA, Rye IPA, Goze, One Claw and the Thai beer. Just great stuff all around. Cigar City also found it’s way back to NYC, which is good since I could only bring back to much on every trip down to Tampa. Jai Alai, such a great go to IPA. Really enjoyed just about everything I had from New Glarus this year too. Wow, I wish we could get those here in NY.
And without any doubt, the best new beer bar in NYC, is the wonderful Torst in Greenpoint. A completely amazing selection, which they let you try in different sizes, 5oz, 8oz or full pour. It’s a really good looking bar too, with old wood finish and an awesome granite bar. Man, I love that place and am happy I don’t live that close, otherwise I’d be there every day.
In My Belly
Another great year for food. My thing this year was homemade risotto. I had never known it was actually pretty easy, albeit laborious to make. You get a bunch of ingredients, proteins, wine, broth, veggies and just stir. It’s actually somewhat therapeutic.
In terms of restaurants with great risotto, there’s Cafe D’Alsace in the UES which has seasonal versions, the summer seafood one being my favorite. Little Owl in the West Village is pretty good too. Risotteria isn’t half bad either. Perilla has a faro risotto that is pretty bomb too.
I tried lots of new places to eat and drink this year, some of which aren’t necessarily all that new, just to me. One of them is Gotham West Market, which has Ivan Ramen, which in itself plenty of reason to visit, but also has food from Cannibal, El Comado, Blue Bottle Coffee and Court Street Sandwich shops as well. It’s a good spot for one of those nights where your companion might not have the same food in mind. Another place is Maison Premiere, in Williamsburg, which has absinthe drinks and awesome oysters.
In One Ear
Music, this year was exceptional. Like last time, I’m going to start with some of the records that I think are good, but really don’t deserve the praise given to them. First off, is the Queens of the Stone Age. I was just expecting a lot more from the album. All the guests, including Grohl behind the kit and the record falters a bit. From what I understand, Josh Homme was going through a lot of personal stuff while making the record, and it shows. It’s a lot more intimate and heartfelt, which is great, but just not what I was expecting from QOTSA. Maybe the record will grow on me, I don’t know, it happens. A few other records that I was expecting a lot more from include the No Age, BRMC, Beach Fossils, Sigur Ros and Savages records. To me, almost all those records falter in either production, quality or lavish songwriting.
Now, onto the good…the best! Deerhunter has hit that zone when they just can’t make a bad record. They’ve hit favorite band status. They developed into one of the most outstanding American rock bands around now. Monomania could possibly be their greatest piece of work yet. It’s a little psychedelic, a little country, a little shoegaze, styled with deep southern grooves and rich melodies. It’s a rare record where every single song is exceptional and they never get old listening too. Any time, anywhere, a Monomania song comes on and I can’t resist myself. I think that makes for an album of the year, wouldn’t you say?
My second favorite album of the year The National’s Trouble Will Find Me. It’s a gorgeous record from start to finish and any other year, it’s a record of the year. In fact, I think their last 3 or 4 albums have been my record of the year. This record is so good it got the band nominated for their first ever Grammy, which is a few albums too late in my opinion. Weekend’s Mirror is just an amazing piece of gothey inspired nu-gaze that just revels in washed out guitars and deep basslines. Ex-Cops True Hallucinations was a great first release from Other Music’s new label. It’s a washy, lo-fi, dreamy soundcloud with boy/girl harmonies and jangly guitars. It sort of combines what you think some of the best records Other Music would be playing in the shop. Chvrches debut album The Bones Of What You Believe came with a ton of hype and buzz, and albums like that rarely ever meet expectations. However, the sugary synthpop and sweet melodies delivered one of the best debut albums in recent memory. The best thing about this band, is that it features old friend Iain Cook, the former leader of amazing and underrated Scottish band, Aereogramme.
The rest of the top ten is a mix of old and new favs, making great records. Girls Names, a dark post-punk/synthy groove full of a tinny and distant Scottish brogue. The New Life came out on Slumberland, one of the best labels going now. Montreal’s No Joy delivered a fantastic mix of aggresive and dreamy shoegaze with female vocals and lots of harmonies. “Blue Neck Riviera” from the quartet’s 2nd album, Wait to Pleasure, is one of the sexiest shoegaze songs I’ve ever heard, with just a bit of a dancey beat underneath the dreamy vocals. Toro y Moi’s Anything In Return sees this dude just take his unique version of chillwave to the next level, with lush tones, R&B beats, a little funk, some dance beats and even some bubblegum pop. Next up is an album I sadly slept of for a good portion of the year and it wasn’t until I heard Aluna George’s song on their album, Settle, that Disclosure‘s sound really hit me. Despite being young, the brother duo are 21 and 19, they hit on various subgenre’s of the dance scene, even recalling some early 90’s Chicago house. This record kills it, dance album of the year! Boom, I said it. And to close out the top ten, and believe me this was a tough one. But I’m going with a band I dissed the last time I did this, Cults. Last time I felt they didn’t give enough new songs on their album to warrant a spot, this time, wow, they raised the bar. Not only did they deliver a record, Static, full of sweet girl-pop melodies, but found a darker, moodier and a bit more rocking side. Word has it, they made this record after breaking up, which in itself is tough, but the fact the record is awesome, makes it that much better and easier to understand the title and the edginess.
From there, so many great albums from old mainstays, BRMC, Black Angels, M.I.A., Phoenix, Strokes, Tomahawk, !!!, New Order, Biffy Clyro, Telekinisis, Rogue Wave, Shearwater, Nine Inch Nails and more, plus one favorite bands of the past 20+ years, My Bloody Valentine returned with a vengeance! Some side projects I really enjoyed, including Gruff from Super Furry Animals’ Neon Neon and Heterotic featuring Gravenhurst. Neil Halstad remembered how to play shoegaze on his new project, Black Hearted Brother. New stuff from upstarts and newer acts Dale Earnhart Jr. Jr., Beach Fossils, Aluna George, CharlieXCX, Foals, Iceage, Strfkr, Big Dick, Ruby Sons, Mmoths, Daughter and True Widow. Additionally, there were some really solid EP’s from Wild Nothing, MMoths, Gems, and a band that released multiple EP’s, enough to probably make an LP, Cold Cave.
Listening Pile: Deerhunter – Back To The Middle – A great song and odd video. Not my favorite song on the album, but this video is so odd and amusing, I had to include it in my post. Shot in London and directed by Olivier Groulx, the video features Durassie Kiangangu as its main protagonist…in drag. Which if you saw Deerhunter in concert recently, you’d realize singer Bradford Cox wears a dress while playing.
Tampa was everything I wanted it to be. It was sunny, warm and incredibly eventful. We were a bit delayed getting out of NYC with the snow storm. There’s nothing like waiting for hours on a tarmac, only to have the plane de-iced and taking off a few hours late. We made it though.
It’s where you’re going
Now on to the good stuff, the food, sun, baseball and beer. We arrived in Tampa about 1pm and after checking in at our hotel, it was only natural to head over to Cigar City and have a few beers, scope out the scene for the next day and most importantly, pick up some tokens for the beer lines. It was a fantastic afternoon, we grabbed a few flights of beer, trying just about everything on tap. The obvious favorites were the old standards, Jai Alai and Maduro Brown, as well as the Cubano imperial sweet stout, the Josh Brengle double IPA and the exceptional Dos Costas Oeste, a farmhouse ale aged on grapefruit wood.
From there, it was all about soaking in some sun and making friends. We made friends from the brewery, that hooked us up with some brews. We also made friends with some great folks we spent time with the next day. On the advice of some our new friends, we made our way down to Ybor City to grab dinner at Columbia, the oldest restaurant in Tampa. Really cool, really old school, down to the classic turn of the century architecture, design and staff. It was a treat. We sampled a bunch of tapas style appetizers and got the paella to share for dinner. It was good. We had to roll ourselves out the door.
We strolled around Ybor City for a bit, scoping out all the cool little cigar shops, bars and restaurants. We made stops at two places, Ybor City Wine Bar, a cute spot with a knowledgeable staff, that also had great craft beer in bottles and King Corona, a cigar shop with great beers on tap. Both spots were unexpected but a hell of a treat and a good way to close out the evening. We decided to turn in early to prepare us for the marathon that would be Hunahpu Day and the Yankees game.
Like I know what’s coming
Upon waking up, we grabbed some quick snacks and coffee and started making our way to Cigar City. We met a great guy from Chicago on the ride down. He would share some beers with us later in the day. Upon arriving, we found ourselves on a massive line, that somehow moved pretty quickly. Took about 35 minutes from the time we got online at 8:15 am, until we were in the festival area. They started pouring beers at 9am, but we were sharing with people we met online already. Thank goodness for coffee cups.
If you get to Hunahpu Day early, you know you will spend a good amount of time online and that’s exactly what we did. Basically jumping on the beers lines as soon as we walked in. We sampled a few homebrews and some bottles I had while we waited. Our first spot got us a good amount of beers, two per person. We sampled the fresh Hunahpu, Three Floyds Czech Booty Camp Pils, Intuition Ale Works I-10 IPA and the wholly unexpected, but awesome mead B. Nektar Zombie Killer Cherry Cyser. Oddly, maybe it was the best thing I would try all day. We had lot of other beers from Founders, Three Floyds Zombie Dust and Michiana Power Pale Ale, Bruery Autumn Maple, Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout, Terrapin Moo Hoo and more. All amazing beers.
I follow you, like a stray
We quickly grabbed some food and water and started sobering up so we could head to the Yankee game. Steinbrenner Field is about a 20 minute walk down the highway from Cigar City. So, we made our way over and sadly missed the first two innings and Derek Jeter’s first appearance of the season. No worries. We made it in time to see the highlight of the day, Mariano Rivera’s first spring appearance. This was also the day he announced this would be his last year, with retirement coming at season’s end. The applause while Metallica’s Enter Sandman played was rousing. It was as if it were an October game. The fans truly showed Mo that they were going to miss him. It was beautiful. The Yanks went down to the Braves that day, but seeing Mo was the highlight. The thing I love about Spring Training is the access you get to the players. You are so close to the action, to the players. I was maybe 20 feet away from Mo while he was warming up to go in. That was awesome and maybe the highlight of a day with many.
Listening Pile: Shout Out Louds – W.I.Y.F. (Dust into Diamonds)
Love this band. I have since their debut, Howl Howl Gaff Gaff. They’ve consistently put out great albums, but this one is maybe the best since their debut. This song in particular is just beautiful. Give it a listen, it’s a gem of dreamy, indie pop with Adam Olenius’ Smithesque vocals.
High and Inside
Another great season has gone by, highlighted by the San Francisco Giants winning their 2nd title in 3 years. The Yanks abrupt exit from the playoffs when they couldn’t hit for squat certainly was a kicker. I honestly am baffled by that. But I think as I’ve said, many, many times, I feel like age has finally caught up to a very old team. The infusion of youth they were hoping for just didn’t materialize, with Mikey Pineda’s future uncertain, prospects Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances either being injured or unable to throw strikes.
Place that with the other numerous injuries they had to the major league talent and you get a listless team that becomes reliant on the long ball to win balls games. Never a recipe for success, especially in the post season. All Yankee fans can do now is hope that some of those injured guys come back and that young talent in the minors starts moving quickly and is ready for 2014, or otherwise that $189MM budget limit is going to look awfully lopsided with old, broken pieces and quadruple A players that Cashmoney finds on the scrapheap.
As for the rest of baseball, it was a fantastic season. Lets start with one of the most magnificent debuts in the history of the game, the immeasurable talent that is Mike Trout. Wow! He came out of nowhere and captured the rookie of the year award. He probably should have captured the MVP, but that went to a well deserving Miggy Cabrera who took home the first triple crown in some 40 years. RA Dickey, what can you say that hasn’t been said. He put together a fantastic year, capping it off with a Cy Young and then getting traded to Toronto. It’ll make that team a lot more formidable. The Giants were within a couple of strikes away from going home, yet kept fighting and clawing their way back. Love that the team did it with big time pitching and small ball on offense.
I remember saying last year, I think the one thing that we as fans have to look forward to is all the youth that has been infused into baseball the last few years. And this year was more of the same, with young guns like Trout, Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton, Andrew McCutchen, Buster Posey, Stephen Strasburg and Jayson Heyward all having tremendous seasons. Like I said last year, it’s truly a golden age in the game. Hopefully in a year or two, we’re talking about some of the Yankees young guns too.
Listening Pile: School of Seven Bells – When You Sing
Another of my favorite albums of 2012. This little diddy sounds a whole lot like it could be a b-side from the seminal, Loveless from My Bloody Valentine. And since Kevin Shields seems to be taking his time putting the finishing touches on a follow up to that, I’ll gladly take this.
Atmospheric and filled to the brim with ethereal soundscapes, whistful harmonies, nugaze galore and Benjamin Curtis’ tight production, the entire album, Ghostory is a pleasure to listen to and the culmination of a lot of work. It’s easily their masterpiece and best work to date, despite losing one of the two Dehaza sisters, with Alejandra remaining and shining on her own.
It’s Hard To Understand
Exactly one month to go til Spring Training starts. I wonder if GMs view their teams in the same way people reflect on the past year and how they can set resolutions for the upcoming year. You look at the Yankees team and think, there are a lot of holes to fill in these next few weeks. Getting a little older, maybe a little rounder, there’s missing parts, still no DH, or right handed power bat, fifth starter. And we have to start saving some money for the future.
Last year a lot of things came together in these last few weeks before Spring training. I’m curious to see what Cashmoney has rolled up his sleeve this year. I personally don’t see a championship caliber team getting ready for Spring Training. This could be the last run with a lot of vets, including Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and who knows maybe even Robbie Cano, Jobamania, Curtis Granderson, and Phil Hughes. We could be looking at an entirely different squad next year.
Who knows, maybe Cashmoney’s plan all along is to punt this year, sell of as many veterans as he can and get really, really young and cheap for 2014. It’s not unrealistic to think that could happen, though unlikely. Right now, I guess we wait.
Listening Pile: Grimes – Oblivion
Another of my favorite albums from 2012. This one accompanied by the quirky video for Oblivion. The song like the album is a frenetic mix of genres, styles and production techniques. Her high pitched vocals playing off the hip hop beats, synth lines and strange noises.
Big week for the Bombers. They resigned Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda. Pitching staff still looks a little shaky though. Lets not forget that Hiroki and Andy are no spring chickens. Mo is coming back from injury. CC didn’t have the healthiest or strongest of years. Phil Hughes continues to be the enigma that he is. And lest not we forget the disaster that Ivan Nova was last year. There was absolutely nothing super about him at all. Also, is it coincidence that Russ Martin was dispersed of this year, even though it was claimed he was well liked and a big part of the team. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that big poppa, CC had his own personal catcher. Nah! Really looking forward to see what happens at next week’s Winter Meetings. I’d be happy with a rightfielder that is righthanded and can field ok. A catcher would be nice too.
Listening Pile: The Notorious B.I.G. – Big Poppa
A classic. If you got a gun up in your waist, please don’t shoot up the place. Represent baby baby.
So, last weekend I made my way up to Boston for some baseball, beer and food. All in all, I had a great time, enjoyed some really tasty beers, breweries, a couple awesome meals, got to hang out with a couple of my cousins and snuck into a Promise Ring show. Here’s a quick scoop on some of the first night of our trip, a game between the Red Sox and Blue Jays at Fenway Park.
You’re so pretty when you’re unfaithful to me
We kicked off our trip from the Upper East Side of Manhattan a little before noon on Friday. The gps told us we’d get to our hotel near Fenway a little past 3pm. That didn’t happen. It took us almost six hours to get to our hotel. Traffic was just unbelievable. I probably could have biked faster through Connecticut than we moved in the car. I-95 was pretty much a parking lot for most of the ride through. Not sure what was going on, but it took forever. To top it off, we kept seeing signs for construction ahead, but hardly saw any construction at all. It turned into an infuriating joke by the time we left the state and made it to Mass.
By the time we got to the hotel, we only had about an hour to make it to Fenway before the game. We didn’t have tickets, but after seeing a ticket vending shop with outrageous prices, we found a scalper with 3 seats on the right field line for $60 a pop. They turned out to be pretty great seats. About 10 rows back from Pesky Pole. Walking around the park and down Landsdowne road, you really get the beauty and intimacy of the park. It is tiny by baseball stadium standards. I felt like you could fit the whole thing inside the current Yankee monstrosity. It had lots and lots of personality, seats that face the outfield and not home. The bleachers were right on top of the outfield and bullpens. The dimensions seemed unreal seeing them that close. And the Green Monster, looks a lot bigger on TV. I instantly thought, wow, that thing is tiny. Despite being in the outfield, I felt incredibly close to all the action. In a lot of ways, it reminded me of the closeness you feel at Spring Training games. The PA announcements were low, letting you take in the sounds of the game. The music was really solid(mixing in Pixies, the Cure, Dropkick Murphys, the Battles, New Order and Neil Diamond, all in one day)
Being a fan of the Yankees, it was nice seeing the Blue Jays tag Josh Becket for a few runs early in the game. I assume it doesn’t happen very often, but it seemed like the Jays fans were in full effect. There were lots of them, and they were loud and making their presence known. After taking an early lead, it’s almost like the crowd gave up on the game and just took in the sights. And there were plenty of sites. There’s a great sense of community in that stadium. You could tell those fans appreciate what they have, a great stadium with a mostly winning team. They didn’t have it all on this night, but hey, they could have it worse. They could endure endless losing and be Pirates or Royals fans, or they could have a stadium like they do in Tampa or Oakland. The place was great and I was glad to finally check out a game there.
In terms of food and beer, there were a ton of option. Of course I had to have a Fenway Frank. It’s not baseball without a wiener right? As for the sudsy stuff, there were a good amount of options for craft beer drinkers. My favorite thing was the Green Monsta IPA from Wachusetts Brewery. It had a highly visible and recognizable tap handle, making it easy to spot amongst the other beers on hand. It was also pretty good, nice and hoppy, citrusy, tasty. Walking around, we found a few more crafts, though a lot of it from nearby Harpoon and Sam Adams. I did spot some cans of Narragansett too.
Just at the end of Yawkey way was Boston Beer Works. That’s where we made our way to after the game. Lots of craft on hand there, plus some tasty food. Don’t think they make their own beer, think it’s contracted out to someone else. They had a couple Hefewezen’s and Summer Ales, plus a Nut Brown and Amber we tasted. Nothing special, but good enough to wash down with a bunch of appetizers from their menu. Check it out if you’re in the area.
The Pixies – Bone Machine
The first song off one of my favorite albums of all-time and one of the most influential pieces of work from the late 80’s. It also has some of the most demented and maniacal lyrics ever. And let us not forget where the Pixies are from, good ole Boston, just like Sam Adams, Red Sox and Marky Mark.
Wow, what a week. I’m very sorry I haven’t written anything on here, in ages. Life gets in the way of progress, right? But I’ve been thinking about mortality a lot the last few days with Junior Seau’s passing. I’ve been thinking about living life to its fullest. Living life, enjoying life, breathing life the way Junior Seau did while we watched him go from sideline to sideline. I remember thinking, there is no one that is having as much fun as him playing the game. No one.
Now years, later we learned that for all that flying around, and there was a lot of flying around, I mean, he makes Troy Polamalu look pedestrian, there was a lot of damage he took, that we probably never knew about. I hope his death doesn’t come in vein. I hope that if he did suffer from brain trauma brought on by that fearless style of play, his case helps others get through theirs. I loved watching you bro and will always remember that spirit. Cheers to you in the afterlife.
And…as I was thinking about that I got the news that Adam Yauch, MCA, from the Beastie Boys had passed. This on top of the news last night that one of my favorite baseball players of all time’s, Mariano Rivera’s, career may be over. Just makes me sick today. Literally, I almost threw up in the bathroom earlier today. Mo, you were legendary. The Greatest Of All Time, without a single doubt. I hope it’s not the end, but if it is, you’ve had an amazing ride and I’m glad I got to come along for the journey.
But now, I’m sitting here thinking about all the times I’ve had with MCA and the Beastie Boys. Great times with great friends. I think you’d be hard pressed to find that some part of your life hasn’t been touched by the Beastie Boys. They impacted culture, hip hop, punk rock, lifestyle, sports, video making and recently activism.
For me, the moment I know they changed my life was seeing the video for Whatcha Want. It was life changing. The video with the weird grainy, pixelated footage of them jumping around a park. Think about that video for a second. They literally made being a nerd, being alienated and being punk rock, cool. They gave nerdy white dudes swag. Vintage t-shirts, plaid shirts, vans, dickies and wool caps haven’t been the same since. That video literally formed the way I would dress for the next twenty years. That was literally the moment that I said, you know what, fuck it. I’m gonna be me. I’m gonna do shit my way. I’m not gonna give in to the other bullshit people are doing. And for that, I’m thankful. And for that, I’m going to miss Adam Yauch, aka MCA, the illest.
(by the way, if anyone ever finds that Knicks ringer tee, hook a brother up. been pimping for one, for twenty years)
So, til next time, you know. Before we get back to regular scheduled programming, just want to leave you with this. I started this website to talk about food, beer, the Yankees, my dog, music and whatever else I was passionate and happy about at the moment. So, whatever your thing is, whether it be food, antique pillows, beer, hello kitty, basketball or whatever. Love it. Enjoy it. Breathe it.
As a wise man once said, “Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”
A Night of Stars
Finally made my way over to Birreria at Eataly a few weeks back. Should have mentioned it or written a post about it, but alas, time slipped away. I was thoroughly pleased with the experience. The food was good. I enjoyed a fantastic pork shoulder with a side of potatoes, a yummy simple arugula salad and some fried shitake mushrooms. I had one of the house beers, the Wanda, a casked chestnut mild ale. Followed it up with a Del Borgo Reale Anniversary, a delicious and crisp, Italian IPA. Good stuff! Cool atmosphere, staring at the stars through the closed roof. I went in the middle of winter, but I bet it’d be a great place to sit around and sip on beer with a cheese plate on a warm Spring night. Check it out if you can. Lots of beers, a couple housed ones on cask, lots on tap and bottles, plus tons of wine and lots of Italian, but German inspired fare.
My Future Looks Bright
With Spring Training just about ten days away, it’s great to see that the Yanks have a couple prospects on all the top lists. This one from ESPN has ManBan pretty high. There were all those comps to Johan Santana last year in Spring Training. Pretty awesome to see kids lower in the minors make the list as well, that bodes well for the short and long term of the team. Hopefully guys like ManBan and Dellin Betances contribute this year or next, then those other kids come help out a few years down the line, when some of our aging veterans need to be put out to pasture. Though, everything I’ve read and seen about Dellin Betances, makes me start to think of Daniel Cabrera. Truly one of the most frustrating pitchers to watch in recent memory. He’re hoping he’s more AJ Burnett(the good years) rather than Cabrera.
Pliny The Sixer
Picked up a four pack of the newly release Sixpoint Resin yesterday, Resin has been labeled as a “double IPA,” but you know how those crazy cats at Sixpoint’s operate. Nothering ever fits neatly into a particular style. From what I’ve heard it’s a hop-bomb with a sweet citrusy taste. Makes sense, from the description, it’s supposed to have double the hops of normal DIPA’s, with resin secreted from the glands of the hop cone. Resin will also have the distinction of being the first craft beer available in a 12-ounce “redbull” type can and will be available for a limited time, if you can find it. Don’t fear, two more canned arrivals coming soon, The Harbinger, a canned Saison and Apollo, a summer wheat.
The British government seems to think Britain’s binge-drinking problem could be as simple as mandating laws to water down alcoholic drinks. Sounds like a horrible idea. Seems like a problem as old as time. Ask the US how that whole Prohibition thing panned out. Leave it alone and tax more, that’s what they’ll probably do anyhows.
Twilight Sad – Another Bed
Great new video from a song on their stellar new album, No One Can Ever Know. While the video is disturbing in that, “wait a second, those are pretty good looking corpses” kinda way, the song is pretty awesome and the video is very well executed. Also, keep in mind, he has a wedding ring on. So, next time you make small chit chat with that hipster video clerk you think is kinda cute, just remember this video. But, I digress. The song is awesome, the record is as well. They play Bowery Ballroom at the end of the month. I’ll be there, sad at the fact that the best beer I’ll be able to get will be a Sierra Nevada.