Wednesday, May 31, 2006

USA Soccer. What's up now, Haditha!!

I thought the Gatorade Take Me Out To The Ball Game commercial painting the US Soccer team as scrappy underdogs against a hostile world was a bit ... incongruous (as discussed here). I suppose that it could be argued that its portrayal of the US against the world is borderline appropriate because crowds really are hostile to the US soccer team. But the new Nike campaign is just plain inappropriate. It's a blatant appeal to the sexiness of militarism. Propaganda? Attack clock? "Join Forces"? Don't Tread On Me? What the fuck?

Now, it was pointed out to me that "Don't Tread On Me" actually has a noble, somewhat polite origin, associated with the ideals of the American Revolution, ideals of non-intrusive vigilance and strength. One observer of the original symbol commented on the nature of the rattlesnake:

the Rattle-Snake is found in no other quarter of the world besides America ... She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage. ... she never wounds 'till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her.

First of all, I'm guessing small mammals, lizards, and birds would disagree about her never beginning an attack. Similarly, many Iraqis would contend that the US does sometimes begin attacks. (Though I guess we did give them "generous notice" that they were about to get their asses kicked. or killed, as it were.) But maybe the Don't Tread On Me slogan could apply to the US Soccer team if you took it in the sense that the global soccer community may disrespect the US by putting them in a group with the Czech Republic and Italy. Though, FIFA recently ranked the US # 4 in the world, and while that might not be an accurate placement, I think soccer fans across the world recognize that the US has a legitimately good team. So I don't see how the US team can claim they are being disrespected or tread on. Seems like paranoia. But even if you give them the Don't Tread On Me stuff, what the fuck is with the "propaganda", the attack clock, the "JOIN FORCES"? Not to mention the fact that the US Soccer team's most dedicated fans refer to themselves as "Sam's Army". I don't see how you can say that they aren't cultivating a militaristic image.

Am I overreacting here? Am I being too *gulp* politically correct? Aren't all sports about combat on some level? Is the Nike campaign maybe just modern post-ironic marketing, as innocuous as the bizarre Burger King commercials or the plethora of militaristic and otherwise violent video games that are part of the modern consciousness. Am I creating a controversy where there is none for the sake of a sexy VTK expose? Maybe so. And maybe it wouldn't bother me if I wasn't reading about the Haditha Massacre this morning. For a long time, I argued with my non-American friends that the US soccer team did not represent the government or its foreign policy, but rather the American people, the kid down the block that we grew up with. But now they appear to be actively associating themselves with militarism. And that's a problem. USA + Militarism = US Marines murdering women and children. Maybe I'm oversensitive but marines are murdering women and children in my name right now. I'd prefer that the soccer team I'm supporting isn't advertising itself with an association to that. even indirectly. because it's wrong. to murder women and children. and men. that's wrong. and it makes me ill to see it casually accepted. But I am an American, so I'll root for them in the first match against the Czech Republic, since I have $35 riding on it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Gnarls Barkley - Crazy

This video makes me want to get some drugs and throw a dance party:

Saturday, May 27, 2006


I don’t want these Y.x.6 posts to be just straight-up jeter lovefests, but given he’s still batting over .350 and he just got his 2000th hit, you’ve got to give him special props. He has a good chance to become the all-time Yankees hit leader: The other players to get 2,000 hits for the Yankees are Lou Gehrig (2,721), Babe Ruth (2,518), Mickey Mantle (2,415), Bernie Williams (2,255 entering Friday night), Joe DiMaggio (2,214), Don Mattingly (2,153) and Yogi Berra (2,148). You’d have to say that he has a legit shot at 3000 hits, which has only been done by 25 players in baseball history. Clear a spot in that Monument Park for #2.

As for the rest of the team, we’re definitely in one of those put your head down and hold your breath stages of the season. A couple of freak accidents knocked out two of our biggest sluggers (Sheff’s collision - though Sheff’s back at DH, Matsui’s nasty wrist break), a few of nagging injuries to three others (Damon, Giambi, Posada), a couple injuries to pitchers (Chacon, RJ’s shoulder?), Dotel still on the DL, and of course, Glass Carl Pavano. I don’t even want to get started on Glass Carl. Obviously, Matsui is the huge injury here. Short term injuries to the other players are not that unusual in the major leagues, but it’s a bitch to have them all happening at once. Even that detestable credibility void, Curt Schilling, noted how it wasn’t like facing the real Yankees last week.

But despite all these injuries, we took 2 out of 3 in Fenway, are only 2 games out of first in the brutal AL East, and have the 4th best record in the AL. Jaret Wright has been a pleasant surprise, Wang has been good recently with the exception of his drubbing in Boston, and the Moose’s era is still under 2.75. So, I’m optimistic.

Friday, May 26, 2006

A Frog Eye’s View on an Atonement Lost in the New Hemisphere

If Bruce Springsteen, Chris Farley, and Philip Seymour Hoffman had a love child together, he would be the lead singer of Frog Eyes, the frenetic band that played TT’s last night with Sunset Rubdown opening up for them. Spencer Krug of Wolf Parade fame played with both bands. Boy genius, that one. Half the crowd bailed after SR, which was a shame. Both bands were good. The show capped off a busy week for the VTK’s editorial staff. Prior to the show (and after it for that matter), I watched the 2 hour finale of Lost on and spent a good 4 hours reading forums, emailing, and talking on the phone, trying to make sense of it all. That show is capital F Fucked. I would highly recommend renting and watching the first 2 seasons if you’re not on board yet. It’s great. I had to watch it streaming on Thursday because I was out in Sandwich on Wednesday night, celebrating the final touches being put on Hemisphere, the super hott new beachfront restaurant opened by Tracy, Eric, and Bob. Big props to them and all the kids involved in that place. It looks great and will undoubtedly be rocking Sandwich’s pants off. It officially opened last night, so sign up for your zip cars and get down there. I stopped by there on my way back from P-Town where I picked up my paintings from the show at Spiritus and hung out with C-Ham for a bit. I rented a car and got upgraded to a Chevy Malibu which was delicious to drive on a wide open route 6 on a beautiful day. The paintings were in good shape – no pizza sauce or fork holes. Though there was a spitball on the big purple lips of one of the portraits. No harm done. Speaking of no harm done, I don’t suppose there’s any harm done in a sloppy transition back to Tuesday’s recap, since there’s no real connection between it and what I did on Wednesday. Tuesday brought the completion of Atonement, by Ian McEwan (I mean I completed reading it, not he completed writing it). Now I know what you’re thinking: big deal. Dan read a book. But I am not the literati I once was. If I’m not really into a book, I will not finish reading it. Many a highly acclaimed work of fiction has been cast into the hearth on my way to the latest ridiculous reality tv show on the WB. So when a book grabs me by the kookles like this one did, it kind of is a big deal. Well, for me, anyways. Probably not for you. What I’m saying is read this book. It’s wrenching. Wrench you say? As in a tool that might be used to repair an LCD video projector? Like one that was projecting a kick ass multimedia video show deejayed by WZBC’s John, of Kraftomatic Bed Of Nails fame, at River Gods on Monday night? Yes. Exactly like that. I will advertise if he ever does another show because we’re talking about 3 hours of quality rare music/entertainment footage. It was highly entertaining, as was Las Vegas, which is where I was on Sunday, which was detailed in the last post. And there you have it. A work of genius? No. A sloppy rambling recap of recent blogworthy events? Yes. That’s how we do it here at the VTK. Stay tuned for Yankees.5.6…

Monday, May 22, 2006

Las Vegas Nevada

As the saying goes, "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas", so I'm not sure I can report on all the weekend's activities, and my mother may or may not be reading at this point, though lc claims she just mentioned the blog, not its name or url, and this sentence has way too many clauses, but I will say that Las Vegas is every bit as outrageous, and every bit as expensive, as people say it is, and here are a few items I remember:

I remember golfing for 4.5 hours, under the 100 degree sun, as soon as we got there. I went wire to wire the last 3 holes with my 4 iron. and fell out of the cart twice.

I remember dropping $150 on a steak dinner.

I remember multiple strip clubs. And the streak is still alive.

I remember spending plenty of time at the Sports Book, which is chock full of characters. I won $50 on the Yankees and then barely lost on my Preakness bets. I had a 7 to 1 and a 40 to 1 to win, and they came in 2nd and 3rd respectively. You win some and you lose some. And you tie some. Which I did later on the fight between Barrera and Juarez. Apparently, they called it a draw, I cashed in my ticket for a push, and then they changed it to a split decision for Barrera (I bet on Juarez), so looks like I was timely on that one. We caught the last 5 rounds of the fight in this little dive bar that was attached to a liquor store. The fight was amazing. And there was a crazy dude with unbelievably horrendous teeth sitting at the bar screaming at the tv and actually swinging along with the boxers. He kept turning around and saying stuff ostensibly to me (he was looking right at me), so I responded one time and he said "I'm talking to my buddy and pointed in the opposite direction of where he was facing". ok, pal.

I remember some hilarious cabbies, including this one stocky, gray haired/mustached character with an indeterminable accent who was cracking us up and had the line of the trip, which might not be as funny without the accent but here it is anyway: someone asked what they were building on this open lot that had a giant infrastructure being set up and he deadpanned "that's going to be a burger joint ... what the fuck do you think they're building."

I remember the 90 minute delay in Vegas that chewed up my 60 minute layover in Phoenix and forced me to break into a full sprint across the Phoenix airport to catch my flight to Boston and avoid a 12+ hour layover. I was like OJ in that old airport Hertz commercial. Also, I killed some people. But I made it back home, so it's all good.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Gray Skies Are Going To Clear Up,

Thank crap the blue skies are back. Let's put all that grayness behind us. It never seemed to bother me when I lived in Ireland; I must have lost my tolerance for it. Allez Les Bleu!

Sports: speaking of Allez Les Bleus, the World Cup is a few weeks away. The US is in a very tough group with Italy and the # 2 ranked Czech Republic, so the chances of them advancing aren't great. They're very good though, so there's a chance. Has anyone seen that ridiculous gatorade commercial which melodramatically portrays the US team as the plucky little underdog fighting against a mean world that's against it? I'm sorry, but please. Obviously I am a critic of the government, but I support the US National Team because I'm a soccer fan, the US is where I'm from, I'm as much as an American as Dick Cheney is, the players represent the people to me, not the government, and their rise throughout the FIFA ranks over the last ten years has been impressive. But still, there's really no excuse for portraying the US as the little guy against all odds, in this day and age, in any respect. The contradiction with the reality of our belligerant imperialism is just too extreme. I know I'm contradicting what I just said about the team representing the people, not the government, but still. Come on. Up with the US Soccer Team. Down with stupid nationalism.

Also, in sports, that was a great comeback by the Yankees last night, led by my boys, DJ and Posada (See that, Randy? He's won more games than you). In fact, it was the largest rally in the Yanks' storied history. I had a free ticket to that game, but declined to go down to NYC. Last time I passed on a free ticket was the infamous Snow Game - one of the ten greatest games in NFL history. I really need to start taking people up on these complimentary tix.

Music: I probably mentioned this before but I've been listening to tons of WZBC Boston College radio these days. I heard "fashion bleeds" off White Trash Heroes by Archers of Loaf this morning - one of my favorite albums from 1999. A lot of the regular DJs have left for the summer. Hopefully, there won't be too much dead air. Right now there's a professor with a really funny voice and great music taste DJing (playing Black Heart Procession right now, I think (he's not updating his playlist online)).

I have two music recommendations today: a song and an album. The song is "The Prettiest Girl" by a Boston band called the Neighborhoods, who I believe were around in the eighties. Just a great, tight pop song. Every once in a while a song comes along which blows you away with its catchiness. Mass Romantic by The New Pornographers was such a song. Gold Digger by Kanye West and Jamie Foxx was too. So is this one.

The album is Shut Up I Am Dreaming by Sunset Rubdown. If you haven't heard Apologies To The Queen Mary by Wolf Parade yet, go get that first. Then get this one. It's the solo project (which I guess has 3 cd's now) from Spencer Krug, the song writer on WP that sings "I'll Believe In Anything". Yet another excellent music product from Canada. What the hell are they drinking up there? Freedom? Labatts?

Also, two Western Mass music acts, Mark Schwaber and Spouse, will be playing tomorrow night at The Abbey Lounge. 8 PM.

VTK Update: Well, I finally heard from my Dad and he said that he saw this guy taking photos of a steel band with a really nice camera, so he pointed out to the guy that there was a double rainbow across the Bay behind him. Chris took some shots of it, and then my super sociable stepmom (or "bonus mom", as she is still trying to brand herself) started chatting him up and thought he reminded her of me. They did the where-are-you-from thing and narrowed it down to the connection in a few steps. classic.

Las Vegas: (or "Vegas Baby!", as it appears to have been renamed). Early Friday AM, I set off for the desert, for my buddy's bachelor party. I believe the schedule goes something like: arrive at 11:00 AM on Friday, drinks, slots, golf, drinks, blackjack, stripclub, drinks, blackjack, craps, drinks, 2 hour nap, bloody mary's, sports bar betting on Yankees' game and the Preakness, slots, snack, drinks, strip club, blackjack, drinks, 2 hour nap, slots, depart 1:00 PM on Sunday. We'll see if I can keep my streak of 33 years without a hooker going. Shouldn't be too tough. I invented not getting laid.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Pointless Post

Well, it's still fucking raining here in Cambridge. I have some thoughts about the Shrub's speech, a couple music recommendations, an update on the BCSDDB development, and some concerns about my upcoming trip to Las Vegas, but I'm tired and don't really feel like getting into any of that. So instead, I'll post these two clips I just watched on youtube. The first one is safe for work (it's the American version of The Office, so it's downright appropriate); the second is most most definitely not safe for work and may be offensive, but I think I busted a capillary and slipped a disk laughing at this promo for an upcoming movie, so it's going up. You've been warned.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Chance of Precipitation: 100%

It's been raining for a week. It's raining now. It's going to rain for the next week. Sweet.

Currently listening to The Jesus and Mary Chain, 21 Singles (thanks, P). Great rainy day music. "I'm happy when it rains. I'm happy when it pours." Take me down, kids.

Currently reading Atonement by Ian McEwan, possibly my favorite living author. My boy's wicked smaht. Plunges the depths of the psyche.

Currently drinking water.

Yankees won.

(photo from here.)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Small World

Ain't it just though? VTK's good buddy Chris has been down in Antigua writing the Antigua chapter of the Rough Guides book. Not a bad gig. Yesterday I got an email forwarded to me by my Dad's neighbor (forwarded from him because Jake knows not to send ridiculous political garbage to me, but clearly the neighbor does not yet), which had come from Dad and mentioned Antigua. So I wrote him an email asking him if he was down there and mentioning that a friend of mine was also there and they should hook up; they could probably show eachother some spots. But I didn't give him any contact information or anything. Then last night I get this photo emailed to me from Chris. Apparently they found the same spots (by which, I mean bars). I love when random stuff like this happens.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Day of Atonement

I’m back from the Dirty South, The Crescent City, The Big Sleazy, N’Awlins Louisiana, and I’m not quite mentally recovered yet. Four days and nights of partying in that town will take it out of you. The scene at the airport on Monday is always pretty comical, with half the people responsibly suffering their way back into the sober world and the other half of us laughing it up in the airport bar, leaving the suffering for Tuesday – today – the Day Of Atonement – the DOA. Luckily, I was spared work on the DOA and was able to mill around my apartment by myself and listen to music. Not a bad exit strategy. I took about 70 photos (including an absurd amount on the first full day/night when I decided to catalog every drink I consumed (what am I - 19?)), and so I won’t show all of them, but here is a brief photo diary:

Here’s Tim transcending his body on the first night. He later got in a heated stare-down with his pillow (Dude v Pillow).

The first beer I documented – the coveted Pilsner Urquel.

Beer v Port-a-Potty.

This is taken from the gin and tonic’s perspective. Poor little guy. Probably hung on for a mile or two, but in the end it was too much for him.

The goer cocktail.

Christian, Didi, and Maria join the party in time for the tequila shots at Molly’s.

Adam catching a nap at the pizza/movie bar.

Me, the seersuckers, and the 2 by 4 that I carried around to the bars on Frenchmen’s Street. I don’t know.

This is actually a remarkably accurate documentation of the last beer of the night.

The gang, enjoying some Crawfish Monica at the Fairgrounds.

Love this photo. These people actually got married on the Gospel Stage between sets. Extra points if you can guess what Adam is saying.

We ran into some people that hang out at the Plough and Stars and this is one of them celebrating finding a Fosters amidst a pile of Miller Lites.

An artist at the Radiators show.

blah blah blah dippity DOO!

Evelyn’s Place – classic southern waterin’ hole. I’ve been getting gumbo and muffalettas there for years – from Evelyn at night and Frank during the day – a couple of real characters. This year we mention to Evelyn that we’re from Massachusetts and she says “oh really? Frank’s from Pittsfield”. I nearly fell off my stool.

Tim and I nightcapping off Round … not sure … at Jimani’s.

Local boy done good: Sterling’s own playing with YMSB at Jazzfest.

Didi, chillin’ with a bowl of Crawfish Etouffee at the YMSB show.

Big Daddy Kane carving it up at the Congo Square stage.

Big Crawdaddy lying on the ground as the festival ended.

Maria on Bourbon Street in her new boa.

Tim on another street with her new boa.

Second to last call.

Last call for JazzFest 06. That's either the bar or my head.

see you next year, New Orleans.

[photos by me and akboognish]

Monday, May 01, 2006

Pan-Mass Portraiture Please

Tomorrow officially kicks off the 2006 Pan-Mass Portraiture - PTown to Pittsfield - tour, when I hang 8 to 10 paintings at Spiritus Pizza in Provincetown. They'll be up for the next three weeks. It was looking like I was going to get a July show at a restaurant in Easthampton (next to my old stomping grounds in Noho), but the woman hasn't emailed me in a week, so I'm thinking that might not happen. We'll see. Here are drafts of the postcards I'm making up for the show(s):

I'm going to be busy with that and then I'm off to New Orleans on Thursday for Jazzfest, so this will probably be the last VTK post of the week.

Happy Yankees-RedSox Day 2006!