Sorry, We're Closed

Monday, September 25, 2006

Chewy Chewy Yummy Yummy Sugar Sugar playlist, 9/24/06

The third installment of yours truly's bubblegum/teenpop night, "Chewy Chewy Yummy Yummy Sugar Sugar," held last night at Delilah's, went very well. We had a nice crowd (thanks Doug & Francesca, Kate, Rebecca, Ken, Angelina, John SJ, and the rest for coming out) and guest DJs Eric Colin and Gentleman John Battles ripped it up!

Here's what I played.

Set I
The 1910 Fruitgum Company, "May I Take a Giant Step"
The Archies, "Jingle Jangle"
ABBA, "Waterloo"
The Shangri-La's, "Sophisticated Boom Boom"
Nick Lowe, "So It Goes"
The Banana Splits, "The Tra La La Song"
Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus, "Quick Joey Small"
The Guess Who, "Clap For the Wolfman"
The Kinks, "Mr. Pleasant"
The Hollies, "Look Through Any Window"
Polly Brown, "Up In A Puff Of Smoke"
The Fifth Dimension, "Wedding Bell Blues"
The Hues Corporation, "Rock The Boat"
The Ohio Express, "Down At Lulu's"
Tommy Roe, "Dizzy"
The Move, "Tonight"
The Animals, "Don't Bring Me Down" (request)

John Battles followed with a stinging set that featured Lancelot Link and the Evolution Revolution, The Archies, The Shadows of Knight, Gilbert O'Sullivan, the Males, and others. Good on you, John!

Stu's Set II:
The Partridge Family, "I Woke Up In Love This Morning" (request)
Apollo 100, "Joy"
The Monkees, "Mommy And Daddy"
The Jackson Five, "Dancing Machine"
Bobby Sherman, "Easy Come, Easy Go" (request)
The Move, "Flowers In The Rain"
10cc, "Donna"
The Turtles, "Elenore"
Crabby Appleton, "Go Back"
The Balloon Farm, "A Question Of Temperature"

Eric Colin's set sparkled, featuring as it did the foot-stomping crowd pleaser "Son of My Father" by Chicory, as well as top cuts by Los Brincos and the Fun and Games. Whoo!

Stu's Set III
Las Ventanas, "Chuby Chuby"
Partridge Family, "I Woke Up In Love This Morning" (another request; I should have brought more P-Family)
Wings, "General Bringdown"
Wings (a different band), "Listen To What The Man Said"
The Ohio Express, "Yummy Yummy Yummy"
Shaun Cassidy, "Hey Deanie"
Tommy James and the Shondells, "Do Something To Me" (request)
The Merry-Go-Round, "Live"
Bad Company, "Rock And Roll Fantasy"
Hayley Mills, "Let's Get Together"
The Two of Clubs, "Walk Tall Like A Man"
The Peppermint Rainbow, "Will You Be Staying After Sunday"
Edison Lighthouse, "Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes"
Paul Revere & the Raiders, "Him Or Me (What's It Gonna Be)?"
The Grass Roots, "Sooner Or Later"
The Flamin' Groovies, "Jumpin' In The Night" (request)
The Beatles, "Thank You Girl"
10cc, "Rubber Bullets" (request)
The New Colony Six, "Treat Her Groovy"
The Cryan Shames, "Sugar And Spice"
Leif Garrett, "Runaround Sue"
The Four Seasons, "C'mon Marianne"
Jigsaw, "Sky High"
The Left Banke, "Lazy Day"
The Jackson Five, "Never Can Say Goodbye"
The Monkees, "Tapioca Tundra"
Pilot, "Magic"

Never believe it's not so.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


With the White Sox appearing out of the AL Wild Card race, and the Cubs entrenched in last, it's time to start thinking--if you're a Chicago baseball fan--about next year. Feels familiar to do that.

That's why it's cool that next Tuesday night, September 26, at 9:00 PM, HBO Sports is premiering an original film, WAIT ‘TIL NEXT YEAR: THE SAGA OF THE CHICAGO CUBS.

First, a disclaimer. I was interviewed for this film by producer Joe Lavine, and I appear for a few moments talking about Lou Brock and about Wrigley Field. (The documentary was made in the spring, and I no longer look like I did back then; I no longer have a beard, short hair, or those old glasses...)

But I digress.

This film is a one-hour story of the Cubs, concentrating on the 1920s-30s era through the present day. Following a group of Cubs rooters through their obsessive fandom, and working in a few talking heads (like George Castle, Bryant Gumbel, Michael Wilbon, Bob Costas, and some guy named Shea) to give historical perspective, WAIT 'TIL NEXT YEAR also includes a lot of great, historical Cubs film. Much of the footage is in color, and a lot of it few people have seen.

Dennis Farina does a good job of narrating, while comic Jeff Garlin adds a sort of Greek chorus, describing the Cubs' endless wait for a title as "A big bowl of wrong." The segments on 1969, 1984, Harry Caray, and the Bartman Game in the 2003 NLCS are compelling--and I mean "compelling" in the sense that if you're a Cubs fan, they make you smile, and then they hurt like hell.

My only real problem with the film is that it may give a little too much airtime to independent filmmaker Matt Liston. While his story of making a documentary ("Chasing October") about the doomed 2003 season is plenty interesting--and I look forward to seeing the film--I didn't find Liston quite fascinating enough to have necessitated the complete omission of the Cubs' recent playoff visits in 1989 and 1998.

But one thing modern documentaries seem to need are characters, and including Liston, the film has some good ones: bookstore owner Bob Beck, fantasy-camp participant Dr. David Fishman, and bar owner/Cub historian Art Ahrens, whose understated, knowing manner makes his segments fun.

If you miss it on the 26th, it's also on the following dates (all times Central):
Sept. 28 (8:00 p.m.)
Sept. 30 (9:00 a.m., 4:20 a.m.)
Oct. 2 (10:15 p.m.)
Oct. 5 (8:00 a.m.)
Oct. 10 (4:00 p.m., 11:30 a.m.)
Oct. 13 (5:00 a.m., 5:00 p.m.)
Oct. 15 (8:00 a.m.)

WAIT 'TIL NEXT YEAR will also be screened several times on HBO2. Good job, fellas. Now how about one on the '67 White Sox?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

This summer

This was the summer I realized that you could get the shit beaten out of you but sometimes still be full of shit.

This was the summer I appeared in an HBO film.

This was the summer I confronted my own mortality.

This was the summer I played rock & roll outside for two hours at a block party on a 100-degree afternoon.

This was the summer my brother got married.

This was the summer I DJed at Delilah's, Subterranean, and with Carlos one awesome night in June.

This was the summer of new friends.

This was the summer of sacred fire, yoga on the beach, research, mod nights, and late-night walks in the neighborhood.

This was the summer I got some exciting new work deals.

This was the summer of mono mixes and old 45s.

This was the summer I got so angry at the President that I wanted to kill him.

This was the summer of Mark's surgery, Ted's operation, Bonnie's accident, Sara's giving birth, our dads turning 73, and Ava's turning two.

This was the summer Ceci and I began redecorating our home.

This was the summer that I felt that nothing important was happening.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Some Respect for Beane?

Hey friends,

It's been too long since I've written. So I'm dropping a big old article here.
I am now working for a new sports website:

YSF is a mix of 'premium content,' featuring writers like George Castle, myself, Mark Meyers, and Phil Meyers, and 'fan'-type blogging, plus photos, video links, and the like. Basically, it's meant to be a MySpace for sports, and it's pretty cool. I invite you all to come by and sign up. It's free.

Anyhoo, here's a piece I've written for the site on Billy Beane and the Swingin' Oakland Athletics.


Oakland General Manager Billy Beane may be baseball's easiest management figure to bash.

Beane's often misunderstood philosophy of talent acquisition (detailed in Michael Lewis' Moneyball) has made him a hero, a pariah, and a lightning rod for every viewpoint between blessing and damnation.

To some, Beane's philosophies--which to a large amount focus on acquiring players whose skills undervalued by others and freely available on the market--are a fresh way to approach the idea of competing with franchises who can more easily afford top-level veteran stars.

Others, usually those who align themselves with the more traditional thinkers among the scouting community, as well as those who are more old-fashioned baseball thinkers in general, tend to think that a little statistical analysis goes a long way, and that "tools" players, those with speed, power, and arm strength, will always be the ones to focus efforts on.

At the time that the Athletics were profiled in Moneyball, much of the team's focus was on acquiring unconventional but effective pitchers and hitters with good strike zone judgment. The former could get hitters out despite unusual deliveries, strange body types, or less-than-spectacular stuff; the latter ran up opposing pitch counts and put men on base consistently.

But the Athletics have, since Beane came along, also had key long-term front-line talent, including starting pitchers Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, and Tim Hudson, third sacker Eric Chavez, and closer Huston Street.

The rub is that the team didn't feel it could afford to keep ALL of its front-line talent--therefore, goodbye Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, Miguel Tejada, Hudson, Mulder, and, this winter, Zito.

In constantly having to retool, Oakland has made its good trades and its poor ones; Beane, though, has never been afraid to take chances, never been afraid to pull the trigger on a deal that could him win now if the opportunity came or else deal for a chance to stock up for the near future.

But with the Athletics not being able to move past the opening round in the playoffs for four years, and having missed the AL West title by 1 game in 2004 and 7 in 2005, even some of the sabermetric community has begun to turn against him.

"Why Doesn't Billy Beane's Shit Work in the Playoffs?" bayed an essay in Baseball Between the Numbers, a Baseball Prospectus book published this spring. The article's authors ran an endless number of studies to establish, mainly, that the reason the A's lost is because they didn't play as well as their opponents. Well, no foolin'!

One thing I've never understood is why people think they can pull statistically significant studies out of postseason games, when there are so few of them. Much of what happens in the postseason is due to luck, not skill; obviously the 162-game season is a much better test of a team's true sense of value. Sometimes, good teams don't win short series. Anyone want to claim that the 1987 Twins, 1960 Pirates, 1969 Mets, or 2002 Angels, just to name four off the top of my head, were really the best teams in baseball?

What I've always wanted to know from the more traditional thinkers is what exactly they would do differently from Billy Beane, and how would they go about accomplishing it? Since Beane has been the A's GM, the club made the playoffs from 2000-03 and from 2000-05 compiled the second-best record in the American League. Given his budget restrictions, isn't that pretty frickin' good?

While the portrayal of the retrograde-thinking scouts in the Oakland organization in Moneyball was a bit unfair--especially since Beane's controversial #1 pick, slow-footed catcher Jeremy Brown, hasn't panned out--there is plenty of validity in Beane's belief that the endless focus on "tools" players who don't know the finer points of baseball is a bad investment.

But oddly, certain management figures in the game continue to deny the importance of on-base percentage, running deep counts, and looking for quality pitches--which are proven to be effective strategies--in favor of what they see as an "aggressive" approach (as if good hitters weren't able to be both aggressive and patient) but is really an excuse for wild, without-a-plan hacking.

While he's not the only guy to--detrimentally--poo-pooh on-base skills, Jim Hendry, GM of the Cubs, comes to mind. His team has a huge payroll, which it has largely wasted on players with superficially good statistics but who give away at-bats and games with poor plate discipline, lousy contact hitting, and an unwillingness to work deep counts and accept bases on balls.

The Athletics regularly look for players who will get on base, but not at the expense of all other skills. It's a key part of the game, getting on base, and leads to runs and wins.

Besides stressing on-base ability, what else do the Athletics do? Sign low-cost free agents. This year they were the only club to take a chance on Frank Thomas. And what have the Athletics gotten for their $500,000? The comeback story of the year. Thomas' 38 homers and 105 RBI lead the first-place Oakland club, and his .960 OPS ranks seventh in the AL.

Without Thomas, the largely powerless A's offense would be in deep trouble. Oddly, that's largely because the club's "front line" guys--Chavez, former Rookie of the Year Bobby Crosby, and former offensive star Jason Kendall--have not produced, while the players the traditionalists and naysayers don't like (such as Nick Swisher, Thomas, and the much-traveled Milton Bradley) have saved the team's bacon.

Additionally, the Elephants have veterans who are middling at bat but important in the field, like Marco Scutaro, Mark Kotsay, Mark Ellis, and Jay Payton. This shows how Beane has also stressed obtaining solid defensive players during his reign, something his detractors tend to overlook.

On the mound, the A's have strong-armed starters who keep the ball in the park. While Joe Blanton, Dan Haren, Harden, Esteban Loaiza, and Zito may not strike fear into hitters' hearts, they do the job, and a good, if underrated, bullpen has gotten the ball to closer Huston Street.

Over the years, the Athletics have given important innings to guys like Joe Mecir, Chad Bradford, Cory Lidle, Kiko Calero, and Jeff Tam; these pitchers were (and in some cases still are) effective in spite of the low opinions many traditional baseball people had of their talents, and they provided quality support to their excellent "big three" rotation--which the Athletics built through solid drafts.

Announcers, writers, and fans who scoff at the Athletics ignore the facts. This is a GOOD team, has been for nearly a decade, and contends more consistently than their market-mates, the Giants, who play in more financially advantageous San Francisco.

And this year, with their stars struggling, a rotation without a single Cy Young candidate (Zito is 16-9 but has allowed 292 runners in 207 innings), and a rash of injuries to several key players, Oakland is going to win the AL West again.

"Why Doesn't Billy Beane's Shit Work in the Playoffs?" At least he gets there.