Sunday, May 22, 2022

Farewell of a Different Sort

Pete Davidson, Aidy Bryant, Kyle Mooney, and Kate McKinnon are all planning to leave Saturday Night Live after this season. Davidson and Bryant had some very funny moments. Mooney was okay. But we're here to celebrate McKinnon, who is pretty damn high up the list of best SNL ensemble players of all time. 

You might be here for her RBG impression, or her sendup of Elizabeth Warren, or her turn as a cat lady, or her teaming up with Bryant to play lesbians washed ashore on Gal Gadot's island of amazon warriors. But for me, this is the best thing McKinnon did on SNL, which is high praise, indeed.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Final Out

The legendary writer (sportswriter seems not enough to fully encompass his insights into the human condition) Roger Angell passed at the age of 101 today.  

Because I'm nothing if not a half-ass, I'm going to offer two passages from his work. The first, from the collection Game Time: A Baseball Companion is universal. The second from 1972's The Summer Game, speaks to a pair of Gheorghies but stands in for all of us.

“It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look - I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring - caring deeply and passionately, really caring - which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naïveté - the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball - seems a small price to pay for such a gift.”

“This was a new recognition that perfection is admirable but a trifle inhuman, and that a stumbling kind of semi-success can be much more warming. Most of all, perhaps, these exultant yells for the Mets were also yells for ourselves, and came from a wry, half-understood recognition that there is more Met than Yankee in every one of us. I knew for whom that foghorn blew; it blew for me.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Which Dave Is Right?

 You be the judge.


Saturday, May 14, 2022

The Kids Are Alright, Volume the Next

Kapil Dev is one of the most famous cricketers in history. That's irrelevant to this post. But I figured you should know who he is before I quote him.

The actual point of this post is to celebrate a couple of GTB:TNGers (TNG in this case meaning The Next Generation). Dev once said, “The next generation has always been and will be better than the previous one. If it is not, then the world would not be moving forward.” Speaking from my own experience, my kids and their friends are kinder, more compassionate, more tolerant than I. And I believe that my generation can say the same thing about our ancestors.

We have some visual evidence from GTB:TNG to show a little bit of that next generation's creative chops. For starters, AQ, daughter of KQ and Mr. KQ, made this video celebrating her grandfather for a class project in this the final semester of her college career. It's beautiful and heartfelt on top of being really well done. Bonus footage of KQ!

My own kidlet and her friends also had a class assignment that involved video production. Setting aside my questions about how this relates to the AP English curriculum standards, I enjoyed it because it features a lot of kids that I've known since they were toddlers. And there's one edit that stopped me cold - the kids did a great job creating drama in something that could've been trite. In my very humble and completely unbiased opinion.

Friday, May 13, 2022

The Elegy for a Dive Series, Pt. 3

Dusting off this recurring segment which actually recurs, a couple of years later. Thanks to OBX Dave for contributing the elegy for one of his College Park haunts. To the rest of you . . . sod off.

The "Elegy for a Dive" Series

Wherein we pay tribute to dingy bars of yesteryear which served us well on many long-forgotten nights of revelry-cum-debauchery.  Three at a time, like shots of Jäger.

The Texas-Wisconsin Border Café
Richmond, VA
Closed 1999

Ah, the Tex-Wis. The cream of the crop in dive bars in The Fan in the 90's. Lone Star beer in the bottle, widow-maker chili in the bowl. Badger-State-born VCU Arts school profs (later a Dean) and Texan named Donna built a place where you could get Tex-Mex plus brats and cheese and all the cheap swill you could guzzle, Animal heads and license plates adorned the walls, and they had bands quite a bit. It was written that "The Texas-Wisconsin Border Cafe’s divey, eccentric nature attracted everyone from musicians to judges, and rockabilly and blues bands, including Drive-By Truckers, played for cash and unlimited PBR."

We used to go in there for the cheap suds and the chicken-fried steak.  The place was often packed, always loud, and you could count on getting yelled at by the waitresses. Our buddy Coby was a budding attorney then, and this was his dive of choice. He's a partner with a large national firm now, and he'd give quite a bit to have this gem still nestled in the edge of the Fan. 

So sad, the Texas-Wis
A place that we all miss
Though our arteries do not
With Rolling Rock on tap
Lord, I hated that crap
Especially served hot

Whitlow's on Wilson
Arlington, VA
Closed 2021

WOW! That's what the mugs they'd give you used to say. Whitlow's-On-Wilson. This staple of the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington was a good little family bar . . . that kept buying up parts of the block and expanding until it was a big one. It was a strange combo of seeming a half-step up from our greasy spoon super-dives but never really classy in the least. It was a plain old neighborhood bar. And often packed to the gills.

Rob and I spent a good amount of time there. We shot lousy stick and talked to a (very) few females with lousier shtick. Our Cowboy barkeep Manny quit the 'boy in the early 2000's and defected to Whitlow's, where our fraternity brother Jay's fiancée was already catching shifts. Hence, our increased attendance there. Thursday nights were Mug Nights, $5 for the mug and $2 refills on the cheap stuff all night. 

Whitlow's was never one of my favorite DC area bars, but it was always solid, and it was always there. Any people I'd meet who lived up that way in the 17 years since I vacated the area would always have been Whitlow's drinkers at some point. It was a mainstay . . . or at least it was until a year ago.

So sad, my Whitlow's mug
And the beer that I would chug
Gone for evermore
I'll miss the drunk times spent
But I shall not lament
That long line out the door

The Weeping Radish Brewery
Manteo, NC Grandy, NC
Closed 2022

Okay, okay. So the Radish was never a dive per se. It was a brewery, and it was a German restaurant, and it happened to have a little barroom. That little room was our dive, a hideaway in which you could congregate a group of knuckleheads once a year to drink between 1 and 3 liters of rather strong German beer, throw darts, play Ms. Pac-Man, gather in a circle for a xenophobic drinking game, and ultimately fall down and get pinned under a tiny cup of horseradish made of lead. You know, the usual kind of joint.

Dave, rob, and others spent the summer of '91 in Nags Head, and they came back with stories about this microbrewery (North Carolina's oldest, 1986) with super strong beer, and you drink a big mug of it and get hammered. Real juvenile stuff. So then we graduated from college and got jobs and girlfriends and came down for a summer vacation with friends . . . and drank big mugs of the super strong beer and got hammered. Dave like the Blach Radish blend, while Rob and I enjoyed the Fest. Lesser palates would get the Corolla Gold. Evan asked for PBR every year.

Oh, the stories. Many too esoteric to enjoy, but just know that the 12-24 of us would leave the comfy confines of the Martha Wood deck mid-sunny afternoon -- after drinking for hours -- to drive over the bridge into Manteo, annex the barroom, and drink a couple of beers before returning home. Wrecked. On those special occasions, we wouldn't go straight home, as the go-karts were en route, but we wised up after a handful near-incarceration/death experiences. One year, we traipsed in to hear the bartender say, "Oh, lord, has it been a year already?" It was a ritual.

Sometime around the turn of the millennium, about the same time that a sect within the OBFT crowd called Brothers Against the Radish (BAR) won favor and negated our annual death sojourn, the Weeping Radish moved out of Manteo and full-time into its farmhouse on the mainland in Grandy. We never went. And this article I read yesterday indicates that the Radish is closing its doors for good. Fare ye well, Radish Weepers, and keep 'er between the lines on the way home.

The Radish packed a punch
One time rob e'en lost his lunch
Liter mug in hand
The tale we'd later tell
We told the Radish, go to hell
We were actually banned

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Notify, Volume VI

You know the drill... don't look for this stuff on Spotify or the major streaming services.

Did You Know??? The Smithereens' Pat DiNizio and Suzanne Vega worked together at an office in the early 80's. By the end of the decade, they were both on the charts. After he died a few years ago, she wrote: 

“I met Pat DiNizio when I was in my early 20s, in 1983. He needed a job, I had a job for him, so for a while he was my assistant, a receptionist in an office at a typesetting company in midtown New York. He called his mom in New Jersey every morning, first thing. Unfortunately, a couple of months later, my boss told me I had to fire Pat, which I then did. I was gone myself in a few months, as I had gotten a record deal. We both laughed about that later, and he asked me to sing on the track, ‘In a Lonely Place,’ which I’ve always been proud of. I loved doing the video, too. I ran into Pat constantly through the years, and he was always the same: smart, funny, driven, confident but never arrogant. Full of soul. Playing at his 60th birthday bash so recently brought it all home for me. I was shocked to learn of his death. He is still a part of my life. I feel the loss.”

This song is cool, and should be on Spotify. The Smithereens' entire album Especially for You is MIA there.

The Grey Album... I haven't heard much about it in a while, and you'll never see it on the big streamers, so here you go. 

40 years ago this week, Clash drummer Topper "The Human Drum Machine" Headon was sacked from the band for outrageous drug addictions, and nothing was ever the same for The Only Band That Matters. After that, Mick Jones was dumped, which is like booting Paul McCartney. And then three stiffs were scooped up for one final album called Cut the Crap. Later disowned. The "Cut the" part was superfluous. Anyway, they never recorded this tune for the record, but it and the song "This Is England" represent the only listenable latter-day Clash cuts. Worth a listen. God bless Joe Strummer, even if he destroyed what he loved.

David Lowery from Camper van Beethoven and Cracker is now a professor at UGA telling kids how not to get screwed in the music biz. Half of both bands' stuff is greyed out on Spotify. This tune was always one of my favorites. 

Total Coelo. "I Eat Cannibals." Ridiculous. Fun.

Fun? You want fun? Have some Zodiac Mindwarp and the Love Reaction. Never on Spotify.