Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wherein I See Phish and the World Series for $5 Total [Rest Of 2009]

We're coming down to the wire and there's no time to lose, so here's the rest of The Best Rest Of 2009.

A few months after the most glorious concert experiences of my life, a friend of mine was offering around extra tickets for the last leg of Springsteen's tour, which included a mini-residency at Giants Stadium. These concerts would be the last for Bruce in the venue that vaulted him into worldwide arena rock superstardom, as the new Giants Stadium (and I'll be calling it that regardless of whatever corporate name gets stickered all over it, so deal with it, Jets fans) is set to open in 2010. Clearly I had to be there and jumped at the chance. I was met with an interesting choice: General Admission floor seats for the second-to-last night, or 100-level seats for E Street's last ever Giants Stadium show? For some, it seems like a no-brainer. Go for the tour and stadium closer, where the band is bound to pull out all the stops and, given the historical significance of the venue, there may even be a special guest or two. However, recall my Bonnaroo epiphany and you'll see why I made the choice that I did. It simply had to be the floor. After being so close to The Boss that I could see the sweat flying off of his pumping Jersey fists, there was just no way I was opting for the seats, even if it meant gambling that the second-to-last E Street show at Giants Stadium would measure up to the finale. Observe below to see why I clearly made the right choice.

My favorite part about this is that more than once in the video you can clearly hear me muttering, "Where's The Boss man? Where is he?" only to have him emerge into view mere feet from our position. My second favorite part is the fact that we somehow managed to not notice the mini stage in the center of the floor just to our right until Bruce was standing on it. We were just in the right spot at the right time, and you're just going to have to believe me that it worked out that way. Oh, and 60-year-old Bruce crowd-surfing a solid 40 yards. I guess that's my third favorite part. It's the story of 2009 in a nutshell, really. All-time highlight memories sporadically cropping up amongst an otherwise murky sea of confusion and doubt.

This now puts us right smack in the thick of October, my favorite month of the year. If ever there was a saving grace for 2009, it was October. Not only did it include the aforementioned Bruce experience, but the YANKEES WON THE WORLD SERIES! If you know me or have read this here blog at all, you'll know how much the 2009 MLB Playoffs lifted up my Worst Year Ever. Some of you reading right now may have been there for this guy's birthday celebration, watching me jump for joy during Game 2 of the ALDS as A-Rod tied it with a HR in the bottom of the 9th and Teixeira walked it off with a wall-scraper in the 11th.

In the next round, I was able to score tickets for the Littlest Bro (who is ironically the biggest of we 3 Schiff Brothers) and I to see the Yanks take care of the Angels and capture their 40th pennant in Game 6 of the ALCS. Of course, our first attempt to see the game was rained out, but, as we saw time and time again in '09, out of the FAILstorm emerges a WIN. Because of the rainout, Littlest Bro was forced to head home, so myself and Middle Bro went to drop him off with our Aunt and Uncle who were heading back to Jersey after seeing John Stamos star in Bye Bye, Birdie on Broadway. That's right, folks, Uncle Jesse himself. Here at Schiff Happens, we have sung Stamos' praises before, but never did we expect to actually meet the proprietor of the Smash Club.* However, the stars aligned that night, leading to one of the greatest pictures ever taken of the Schiff Brothers.

Yes, I'm well aware that only half of my face is visible. I stand by my statement. Note to all of you out there who will now attempt to stake out the Stamos: Try to avoid saying "Uncle Jesse on 3!" just before you snap the picture. Ask Littlest Bro about it.

As October turned into November, the Yankees ended nine long years of frustration with World Series win number 27 and another parade down Broadway. Yes, I'm well aware that complaining of the Yankees "struggles" is ridiculous. I apologize for nothing. I also should probably mention that I was in the house to watch the Bombers take down the Philthadelph in Game 2 of the World Series alongside Middle Bro, which was especially satisfying since we got to chant "Who's your daddy?" at Pedro Martinez all night. Probably should also mention that it was free. Hey, I said the highs were all-timers.

The final positive of 2009 was Phish's fall tour. For the first time ever I decided to try and check out an entire multi-night run, procuring tickets for Wednesday and Friday nights at Madison Square Garden, and Saturday night at my alma mater, The University of Virginia's John Paul Jones Arena. Of course, Thursday - the one night of the four I went into without a ticket - was the night of note. I joined my friends at the bar near MSG for their pregame, and just as I was about to go do a lap around the arena to scour for an extra, the guy next to me at the bar leaned over and said, "You need a ticket? Here you go." He pulled out a mail order ticket, I managed to mutter something along the lines of, "Are you serious?" and he said, "Sure, why not? I was gonna eat it anyway. Buy me a beer and it's yours." So, for the price of the beer I was able to ensure that I saw "Fluffhead" for the first time live. I'd call that a victory. Of course, that was also the night I learned that Jonathan Larsen, creator of RENT, died of an aortic aneurism, and didn't even have a little bit of AIDS. I'd call that a loss. A major loss. I have never felt so bamboozled in my life, and to be honest, I'm still getting over it a little bit. The story will have to wait for another time, because I'm getting emotional just thinking about it, and because quite frankly, it's 8:30 on New Year's Eve and we've all got some drinking to do.

So before you head out to whatever loft party, watering hole, or slump buster you're hitting up tonight, take a minute to view perhaps my favorite video of 2009. I call it, "How Not To Shoot a Concert Bootleg," and when you consider that this hilarious piece of pure, unadulterated FAIL was shot just moments after the incredible joy and good fortune captured in the "Hungry Heart" video above, it's the perfect sendoff for 2009, the Worst Year Ever. May 2010 be the most epic of WIN for all of us.

Happy New Year.

*Wow, definitely didn't remember that the original Stamos post was Yankees-related. Weird. Awesome.

Welcome to 2009, Now Get The F Out! [Rest Of 2009]

Alright, so the Springsteen Bonnaroo story was a little long-winded, but deservedly so I think. If you haven't already, check the Picasa stream for all the highlights of Bonnaroo '09. The general gist of the festival is there, but with so little left of this year, we've got precious little time to waste as we continue to remember the Best Rest of 2009. I can almost guarantee that the highlights of the entire rest of the year won't take up as much space as the camera story. And we're off!

So, right after we made it back from Bonnaroo, I moved downtown and was fired from a shitty job that I hated anyway for showing up late to do something I wasn't hired to do in the first place. So it goes. It was a pretty miserable experience to have to deal with, but I figured it was life's way of telling me, "You'll thank me later."

A few weeks later, the night before I was supposed to fly down to Florida to watch one of my fraternity brothers walk the plank aisle* I found myself in the hospital with appendicitis. I figured that was life's way of telling me, "Nope, you were wrong." Looking back, though, this was a great moment. It was around this time when I decided that I'd had enough bullshit negativity. From that moment on, I would devote myself to being one of those positive people I can't stand. It has been a struggle, and while I can assure you that my cynicism and penchant for hatin' will never quite disappear, I have to admit that little by little, I started to feel the whole optimism thing coming back to me. Friends and family even told me they were noticing a change, and despite being jobless and recovering from surgery to remove a useless, vestigial organ, more quality memories emerged from the Worst Year Ever. Less than a week after the surgery, I was trucking up to Saratoga to see Phish once again, relying on my brother as a personal lean-to while nearly passing out for the entire second set to wrap up Summer Tour 2009.** Next, I hit Cape May for a week of relaxation before a bachelor party and another wedding Labor Day Weekend (this time I was able to attend), making Summer Sans Appendix a success.

Allow me to pause here, if I may, during the Cape May portion of this recap, to acknowledge that while 2009 may have been the WYE, it brought us perhaps the greatest television show of the Aughts. Of course I speak of the now-legendary Jersey Shore. I'm not going to dwell on this too much, especially since Cajun Boy has done such an admirable job of keeping us up to speed on all the fist-pumping madness over at Animal NY, but isn't it fitting that 2009, which was beyond awful, gave us a show so far beyond awful that it's truly amazing? I groaned in disgust when I first learned the premise of Jersey Shore, but I'm already hoping for a second season*** and tonight's new episode is pretty much the only part of New Year's Eve that I'm looking forward to (Aside from, of course, saying "Good thefuck riddance!" to 2009. You really can't understate just how craptastic this year was).

Actually, this seems like a good time for yet another short commercial break, but chill out, Freckles McGee - The Rest Of 2009 continues momentarily. In the meantime, amuse yourself with one of the most talked about viral videos of the year below. Snooki Punch '09, never forget.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

*Another 2009 phenomenon, by the way: My friends getting married. No, I have no idea what they're thinking either. I mean, uh, Mazel Tov, guys! Many happy returns! Hope getting married questionably young during the Worst Year Ever works out for you!

**Totally worth it.

***MTV, if you're out there, I have a few friends from back in the old neighborhood that you have to meet, ASAP!

The Worst Year Ever is Finally Over [It's safe to come out!]

Well hey there, stinky britches! Didn't see you hangin around. I thought everyone had left. I certainly got the hell out of there. I guess after the Thriller was gone I just couldn't see a reason anymore.

Look, I have no idea why I abruptly vanished from these airwaves way back in June. This year just sort of shook out that way. Sure, the good moments included some all-time memories, and I intend to give thanks for that. However, for me, navigating through 2009 mostly felt like spelunking through a long, dark cavern of suck. I know I'm young in the big scheme of things, but this was by far the worst year I have ever experienced. And so, with that in mind, Schiff Happens presents to you not the Best Of, but simply "The Rest Of 2009." Here's hoping that we remember the few good times and otherwise ready ourselves to say good riddance to bad rubbish in the final moments of this decade. I can't promise that 2010 will be better, but can it really get any worse?

I guess I should probably begin where I so rudely left off by finishing the story of Bonnaroo. The short version is that we saw a bunch more music, attended the lamest Lebowski-Fest of all time, and witnessed the coming-true of my live music wet dream - Bruce and Phish, together on stage - from the front freaking row. Now you might be thinking to yourself, "Schiff, what in your wide fist-pumping world could possibly top rocking out to a Trey vs. Bruce 'Glory Days' guitar battle from mere feet away?" And you'd be right to ponder that question - until you heard the tale of Schiff's Epic Bonnaroo '09 Springsteen Miracle.

This isn't even the greatest story to come out of Bonnaroo '09. I know, seriously.

Saturday night's E Street set was obviously the most anticipated moment for our Bonnaroo group, and we decided we were going to rock out from the pit, or not rock at all. This proved to be excessively easy, as all we had to do was stand in a line beside the main stage while watching Wilco's set. Tough life, I know. Soon enough after Wilco finished up, the line was moving and we were there. And I mean there. Front row. Center. FIST. I had come prepared with my new video camera, knowing that I wouldn't want to miss a moment. The show came and went and E Street of course brought the power, as they do night after night after night after night. You all have seen the setlist by now so you know all the highlights (If you haven't, Backstreets has your back. Light scrolling required). Growin' Up. Thunder Road. Hell, Santa Claus even came to town. But what made this show a life-changer for me and our crew was our spot. When Bruce came down into the crowd during the "Badlands" opener, we were feet away. When Bruce brought a delirious hippie chick out of the crowd to Courtney Cox with him during "Dancing in the Dark," we could hear her squealing with joy. And when The Boss motioned for all of E Street to join him in the crowd for the final flourish of "American Land," we were feet away from the most hard-rockin accordion you ever saw. After that, I knew I'd only be able to see a Springsteen show from the floor for the rest of my life. How could I return to the seats after that experience? The best part? I captured all the highlights in 720p thanks to my trusty camcorder.

Needless to say, after the show we were wiped, so we took a seat toward the back of the main stage field to reflect and munch on some snacks. With the big stage closing for the night, a nearby festival vendor started shouting, "Free food!" Clearly we jumped at the opportunity, powered through a plate of some sort of festival grub or another, and headed back towards Centeroo to get started on Saturday's late night sessions. Approaching the fountain, I paused for one of my famous paranoid patdowns, checking each of my pockets for vitals. Wallet. Check. Phone. Check. Car key. Check. Video camera... Video camera?! In my haste to get up and chow down on free food, I had forgotten to grab the camera, which I had taken out of my back pocket and placed on the ground beside me so as not to crush it when I sat down. I grabbed my brother and cousin and we raced back toward the main stage.

Predictably, the entire area was closed off, with security guards flanking the entrances. I pleaded my case with a few of them to no avail. "Please!" I begged. "I know exactly where we were sitting!" Refusing to resign myself to the lost and found, I raised my voice one last time and demanded to speak to someone in charge. An older gentleman approached, looked me in the eye and asked if I could really take him to the exact spot where we were. "If I don't," I replied, "then you can give me a hard time. How about that?" He agreed and we were off again, trying to put as much distance between him and us so as to maximize our search time. I mean, I had an idea of where we had been, but it was dark and that field is huge. Soon we reached what I thought was the spot and frantically started looking around. I noticed an enormous truck circling the premises and feared that I'd find my camera in the shape of a pancake. My brother and cousin weren't seeing it. The truck passed by. Still nothing. My body froze over in a cold sweat. Then I heard someone calling out to me. It was the security geezer. He had caught up to us. My heart sank, fearing our last gasp was over. I honestly don't even remember what he said to me. All I remember is looking up, and seeing him toss something towards me. A black pouch. My camera case. Inside...the camera, fully intact! In that moment, my friends, I became the Luckiest Guy at Bonnaroo '09.

The true miracle here isn't just that we found the camera. It's that if we had not, the world would have been deprived of this. And this. And of course this. And you wouldn't all get to relive with me the greatest moment of my concert-going life. Observe below and enjoy while I steel myself for the rest of what I have to believe is the first-ever "Rest Of" countdown. Clearly I thought that the highs of '09 were few and far between enough to include in a single post, but we're going to have to make this a multi-parter. I promise I won't abandon you like last time. Believe in the Promised Land that is 2010.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hail to the King of Pop [Michael Jackson]

Michael Jackson is dead.

The King of Pop, gone.

Much has been said, many tributes have been written. As is so often the case, Dave Chappelle memorably sums the whole thing up exactly the way I would want to, but never could.
Chappelle's Show
Celebrity Trial Jury Selection
Buy Chappelle's Show DVDsBlack ComedyTrue Hollywood Story

As always, Dave's absolutely right. I think all the proof you need can be seen in the faces of 1,500 orange jumpsuit-clad Phillipine inmates.

Thriller, man. Thriller.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Bonnaroo Tales, Vol. II: Can I Live While I'm Young?

Friday morning was cloudy, which is part of the reason I was able to sleep so well. But the other major factor was our campsite itself. It was the festival setup I've always wanted. Along the way from Jersey to 'Roo via JMaddy, we picked up my college freshman cousin and 5 of his hometown buddies. They rolled down Highway 81 from Boston in a rented minivan, and from the start clearly had no idea waht they were walking into. To the yoots' credit, they did a great job festivaling once we were down there. They all seemed to have a great time, and despite being grossly unprepared -- "Whoa, you guys brought a cooler?" -- really contributed to the campsite, namely with caffeine and liquor. Friday morning I was able to chug a mugful of Starbucks right to my brain thanks to a 150 year old device that I had never seen or heard of before. According to Wikipedia, "French pressed coffee is usually stronger and thicker and has more sediment than drip-brewed coffee." Oddly, I found myself saying the same thing about the fresh pressed product I left in the toi-toi a few minutes later.

We spent the better part of Friday morning foraging around our neighborhood for various necessities and sundry items. We found a perfect flagpole and doubled the height of our crucial campsite landmark, the sweet California bruin flag. We wandered across the campgrounds and slugged through a bunch of mud to hang out for a bit with Adam's friend from college and my homegirl Hippie Katie, then wandered back and had a delicious lunch of turkey sandwiches and ham grilled cheeses, all courtesy of the legendary Meatbag Magician. Fat and satisfied, we ventured to Centeroo and caught the end of Santigold's set.

Santi kept the crowd bouncing, but capturing the attention of myself and many of those around me were a pair of sign language interpreters perched on an edge of the soundboard area. I always find this hilarious. They were mouthing every lyric, dancing to the beat, half signing, half raving with all kinds of sassy, hearing impaired gusto. I'm not saying deaf people shouldn't go to festivals, but no matter how well somebody lip-syncs and keeps a beat... I mean... they still can't really hear the concert, right? Someone might want to send me to sensitivity training for this, but I just don't get it. It was funny. Forget it, moving on.

Adam, Mike and I agreed that Al Green was not to be missed, and we were all too happy to watch one of the true legends smiling from ear to ear as he glided and pranced around the main stage, sweating through a red-vested three-piece suit as the evening sun continued to beat down. Green may not heed the farmers' almanac, but he still has the moves. He also still has his way with the ladies (although you could say he had a rough go of it with his women at first), tossing roses into the crowd and stopping more that once to lament that he couldn't jump into the audience and spread a little bit more love. "These people came out here to love me, not to hurt nobody," he declared. And damn if I didn't want a piece of the Reverend right then and there.* The most important thing that he still had -- that voice. He can still hit those sweet soulful notes, and god bless him for it, I hope he can forever.

*Guessing this is the closest I'll ever feel to being Catholic.

As soon as Al Green waved us goodbye, we realized that we had made our way up to a great spot right up against the rail dividing the pit from the rest of the crowd, and decided to stay put and stake our claim to that land in the name of Schiff during Beastie Boys, before Phish's late night set. If I could take a mulligan on one Roo decision, I would take it right here. Beasties vs Byrne was easily the most awful scheduling conflict of the weekend going in, and I agonized over it until the moment of truth came. I made the mistake of valuing our spot on the rail over seeing the music that I knew would maximize my experience. Next time I get the chance to see the man who wears the Big Suit, I'm going to make sure to take it. It's not that I didn't enjoy the Beasties' set, but I knew exactly what was coming, having seen them once before. Always opt to see a new show for the first time, especially if it's an artist you love. I consider myself a live music veteran, but this decision was total amateur hour. I knew I flubbed it the entire time, too. I just didn't pull the trigger on it because I was so into having that spot for Phish, who were involved in the second worst Bonnaroo scheduling conflict -- against Public Enemy. It would have been cool to see P.E. perform "It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back," and everyone knows how much love I have for ya boy, but I was left uninspired to make that move after seeing the Worst Fake Flav of All Time. I must have screamed "Flava Flaaavvv!" at this assclown a dozen times, and not once did he respond. If you're out there, bullshit Fake Flav, you suck. You mean to tell me you're willing to parade yourself around dressed like an asshole, but not act the part? For chrissakes, you're sitting on your fat, useless ass reading the fucking paper! Everyone knows Flava Flav can't read! Disgraceful.

Point is, you can't go back, only forward, and inevitably we made it (finally) to the first main event of the weeknd: Phish on the main stage, Friday night at 11. It was a high-energy performance right from the gate, featuring another Chalkdust Torture opener like we had seen in Camden (Best show of the early summer tour leg? Methinks yes.), and the strong set of Divided Sky, Possum and Down With Disease hyping the action in the pit and around us to its first real fever pitch of the weekend. But after 8+ hours on my feet and the never enjoyable Wading In the Velvet Sea beginning to take form, I told Adam I had to get out of there. I recharged with a festival gyro and bottle of water, and after an entire night of overvaluing our precious rail spot, packed in amongst a few particularly insufferable Phish heads, I fittingly caught the hard-charging highlight of the festival to that point from a wide open patch of grass toward the back of the field. After Wading in the Velvet Shwag mercifully wrapped, the boys rolled through Harry Hood - always a personal favorite, though this version wasn't quite the pure joy of the previous Tuesday's Jones Beach edition - then covered Highway to Hell for the first time in over 12 years, jammed into 2001, and segued from YEM > Wilson > YEM in what felt like a moment of accidental perfection to close their set at 2:15am. An appropriate cover of the Beatles' A Day in the Life shut down the main stage for Friday night (at this point Saturday morning), and we ventured over to Girl Talk to close out the late late session.

Greg Gillis provided us with a predictably fun dance party, but I think at that point, for us it was just a little bit of noise that we didn't have to think too much about. Something to keep us bobbing and energized long enough to make it back to camp and crash. Before we did, we needed one last quick conversation about our strategy for Saturday -- the big day. Bruce Day. We decided we'd drive it to Firenze (we named our camp after our second landmark flag, a purple banner bearing red fleur de lys, purchased in Florence) for a cookout dinner pregame around 5, then hit up our same spot 3 hours or so before The Boss. That same, overrated spot. We didn't know that our well-intentioned plan wouldn't come to fruition, or that this would turn out to be the best thing that could have possibly happened to us. Content with our agenda, still spinning and exhausted from our long day of music, and with the sun rising on our first nearly 36 hours of Bonnaroo, it was time to make that move.



Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Bonnaroo Photos, Vol. I: Sleepyhead

Like I said, Bonnaroo is a time warp. It's an altered state of consciousness, where time simultaneously stands still and flies by. You feel at once isolated from the whole world and enveloped in a seething mass of humanity. And although I got a great night's sleep on Thursday, there's no denying that arriving at Bonnaroo is akin to stepping into a bizarre sort of dreamlike consciousness. So, for those of you who are either too lazy to read or simply can't process a story without a visual aid, here's Bonnaroo, Day 1 In Pictures, appropriately soundtracked by Passion Pit's "Sleepyhead." If you haven't heard of Passion Pit yet, just wait -- you will. They kicked off the festivities Thursday night with a house-rocking dance party, and their ability to pump up the excitement and anticipation of a road-weary crowd to delirious levels illustrated why this jam could very easily become one of the massive club hits of the summer.

My beard grew down to the floor and out through the doors
Of your eyes, begonia skies like a sleepyhead, sleepyhead

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Bonnaroo Tales, Vol. I: Runnin' On Empty

Yea it's taken me a while to talk some Bonnaroo. It's taken me a while to talk some anything. Well...tough. Sorry, that's all I have to say about it. Oh, that, and you're gonna wait a little longer as I recap the festival day by day. You like it.

It's often said that life isn't a sprint--it's a marathon. For this guy, the past 3 weeks or so have been some sort of delirious mash-up of the entire race. There's been a lot of talk among my circle recently of racing and running and living lots of life in a short while, and I feel like that's what I've been doing since I last posted, lo those many moons ago.

In the last two weeks I saw Phish in New York and New Jersey, drove to freaking Canada and back (a return trip that took 12 hours door-to-door and a Baseball Roadshow that deserves its own post entirely), and ran my Yankee Stadium record to 4-0 on the year so far -- all while looking for a 3 bedroom apartment in Manhattan. All this immediately followed a week that had completely rocked my world. I found myself reuniting with slews of old friends, and even a couple of exes. I have crammed what feels like a lifetime's worth of chaos, stress, action, confusion -- and yes, fun -- into a relatively short amount of time. There are many tales yet to be written, but the big one - or at least the story that best encompasses all of what I've been feeling these last few weeks - is Bonnaroo.

Bonnaroo is a literal and figurative time warp. As you make your way to the festival – at least if you’re truly road trippin' it – the miles and hours pile up and the journey feels interminable. Though we arrived in Manchester around 7:30 Thursday evening and made it inside after only a short wait (leaving us exactly enough daylight to set up camp and avoid a torrential downpour -- 'Roo Success #1!), some unfortunate souls are made to wait upwards of 5 hours to physically enter the festival grounds from the highway. The whole experience can feel like a never-ending odyssey. But once you reach your destination, the opposite effect occurs. Time seems to simply melt from one music-filled moment to the next. By the time the festival hits full stride, you’re not quite sure where one day starts and the next ends, and the places you’ve come from and intend to be going to at festival’s end feel like distant planets from a bygone time. On top of this dreamlike state of consciousness brought on by the long journey, oppressive Tennessee heat, sprawling music schedule stretching from noon until 4am daily, and never-ending stream of wild and crazy people, the state of Tennessee spans two time zones. Apparently there’s a sign that indicates when you’ve crossed over into Central Time, but no one in our car got that memo, which made for a confusing start to the trip when we had to figure out what time to go see Passion Pit on Thursday night. So it goes. If the whole festival experience has a time warp element to it, this confusion was probably the most appropriate way to start. Passion Pit were jumping at This Tent, we danced around, unnecessarily circumnavigated the entire campground in pouring rain on the way back to our spot, dried off and went to bed. It was the best night's sleep I'd had in nearly a month.

Friday, May 29, 2009

From The States, Eh?

Today, I depart for the True North strong and free, America's Hat -- Canada! It will be my first time setting foot on the shores of our northern neighbor, and if ESPN's resident blowhard assclown has any idea what he's talking about, the Canadian CVS will have just the thing to soothe my aching head, which has had just about all the stress it can take for one week. I don't need a lot, just enough to give you that POP, eh, Berman?

You always hope to have one Blue Jay game a year.
Little 8% Codeine never hurt anyone, I know exactly what this night is.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Strikes and Gutters, Ups and Downs

It's been a long, draining week -- the kind that leaves you shaking your head, speechless, numb. When faced with a similar situation toward the end of The Big Lebowski (perhaps my favorite movie of all time, and one that has been there for me time after time), the flawed, if not passionate, Walter Sobchak is left with just one timeless thought:

"Aww, fuck it Dude. Let's go bowling."

I always thought that meant that when times get shitty, you turn to the things that have always been there to comfort you, even if they seem excessively ordinary and couldn't possibly offer more than a momentary escape. Maybe deep symbolism was never intended. Either way, I'm goin bowlin tonight.

Appropriately enough, as I ready myself for my first ever NYC bowling experience, I find an abundance of Dudeness on the interwebs. First:

"The New York Yankees have announced the addition of strictly kosher food offerings and Shabbat accommodations at their November 2009 and January 2010 Fantasy Camps. Glatt kosher food will be provided by Weberman Foods with OK supervision, and a Friday “Dream Game” will be played so Shomer Shabbat Jews can participate."
Walter would certainly be there, except he has to take Cynthia's Pomeranian bowling while she and Marty Ackerman are in Hawaii.
Walter Sobchak Approves [Fack Youk]

And secondly, Bonnaroo thought they didn't completely make my summer enough when they brought Phish, Bruce and the Beastie Boys (arguably the 3 cornerstones of my proverbial musical pyramid) together under one festival, so they decided to throw in their very own Lebowski Fest at the air-conditioned Bonnaroo Cinema tent. I guess now I need to bring along my purple Jesus Quintana bowling outfit in addition to my big suit. The big 'Roo starts exactly 2 weeks from today. There's your long overdue countdown alert. Meet me there for a much needed White Russian.
Bonnaroo Cinema []

The Dude abides.
I don't know about you, but I take comfort in that.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Three's Company [With the thing and the thing and the thing]

Some people think that baseball season is too long.

If you meet one of these people, the appropriate response is to hit them over the head with a tack hammer, because these people are attention-deficient idiots.

Part of what makes baseball so great, and the marathon season so appealing, is that over the course of 162 games, you're pretty much guaranteed to see something, at some point, that you've never seen before. I've attended a fair amount of Yankees games in my life -- Here's an interesting little exercise: If you had to put a number to it, how many total times would you say you've joined the faithful in attendance at your favorite squadron's home ballpark? I've got my estimate at 50 in the real Yankee Stadium, with last night marking my second visit to Lonn Trost's House -- and only by virtue of the long season have I been given the chance to see some of the crazy things I've seen at 161 St. and River Ave.

Were the baseball season not seemingly interminable, odds are much slimmer that I'd have been in the house to see six pitchers combine to no-hit the Yankees for the first time in 45 years, a 2-homer game by A-Rod during his torrid 2007 summer, the 'Boston' standings flag flying inexplicably upside down (photo evidence available upon request), or the apocalyptic sight of "Your Opening Day starter, Carl Pavano." In sports with shorter seasons, you're lucky if you make it to a game or two. In baseball, you've got 81 chances to have a foul ball land in your seat while you're in the concourse putting ketchup on your hot dog, only to end up snagging a second foul pop to your section upon returning (And yes, every one of these things happened with this guy in attendance). Sure, every sport has its idiosyncracies and once-in-a-lifetime moments, but baseball's long season affords you the most chances to actually witness one live.

Last night, I got to be a part of another one of those moments. Looking on from Section 312, I watched Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera hit back-to-back-to-back (and belly-to-belly-to-belly?) home runs in the bottom of the second, staking Phil Hughes and the Bombers to what would ultimately end in a lopsided eighth straight win for the Pinstripers. It was the first time the Yankees teed off for 3 straight dingers since 2005, and only the 11th time they've ever done it. I'll even credit myself with halfway calling the third, as I leaned over to my friend Rob and said, "Does Melky make it 3 in a row here, or is that too much wishful thinking?"

Hopefully I'll prove to have a knack for these kinds of moments this year. Fresh off the heels of three consecutive homers, I'll return to The Stadium tonight and try to run my record to a clean 3-0 on the season. And oh yea, Bonnaroo starts exactly three weeks from today.

It's Thursday, and it's absolutely beautiful. Apparently summer decided to just show up. Come and knock on our door.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Wherein the Subway Turnstile Dashes My Hopes [Life Imitating Art]

Sometimes your personal soundtrack syncs with your life just a little bit too perfectly. Case in point, as I'm heading home from work today, I'm head-nodding along to a Phish song called "Possum."

For those that don't know (or don't care about that damn dirty hippie music), "Possum" is a bouncy little number in which the singer "Was driving down the road one day, [and] someone hit a possum." The refrain of the tune culminates with a three part harmony on the word "Possum," held for as long as the lungs will allow, followed by the shouting declaration, "Your end is the road!"

So, as the song is nearing it's jammed out conclusion, I enter the subway station and see the train parked in the station, open doors beckoning. Charging for the turnstile I quickly swipe my card and attempt to run to the waiting train, but feel myself slammed backward by the stuck turnstile as the LED indicator lights up "Swipe Card Again." The subway doors close and I hang my head in defeat, perfectly in sync with the song's final crescendo, having reached the end of my road.

Of course, I got on the next train and returned to the comforts of home. Ol' Possum wasn't quite so lucky.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Being Canadian: >, <, or = Being Disabled? [They're not even a real country anyway]

I got caught in a Jaywalking moment at a party last weekend when I declared "O Canada" my favorite national anthem. I realize this is primarily because I'm obsessed with the South Park movie -- not the point. In defense of my choice, I said, "It's a simple tune but it's poetic, not too long and easy to sing." Then came my Leno-worthy blunder.

"Much easier than, uh... the one that we have..."

Then laughter. Specifically in my face and at me. In my defense, I did immediately remember the title of the STAR SPANGLED (EFFING)* BANNER.

*expletives added for emphasis. and fun.

This all got me thinking about other explanations for my appreciation of "O Canada," and served to up the hype for this year's edition of our annual MLB Barnstorming Tour: Northward, To Canada! The tradition has already produced its share of watershed moments, and the '09 edition is looking like it's going to be a winner as well. I started to wonder what pregame festivities Toronto would have to bust out to top the classics we've been lucky enough to experience-- I don't know that there's anything, but I've been proven wrong before.

Naturally, it wasn't long before I thought of the great Edmonton Oilers tradition of the home crowd singing the national anthem. It's eerie cool, and the video is worth watching for that alone. But this particular version vaults into Unintentionally Televised Unintentional Comedy Hall of Fame status at around the 0:55 mark. As the camera pans close up along the players on the bench, it winds up fixed squarely on a Molson-loaded Canuck in the front row, visible just over the shoulder of some Oiler player -- sorry, this is America, I can't be held accountable for hockey player identities -- belting out his loyalty to Canada like he wants everyone in the building to know all aboot it. I know they're pro athletes and they're in hyper focused playoff mode, but how does anyone keep their shit together with that going on not 3 feet away?

Meanwhile, if this video weren't hilarious enough (Mr. Canadian Cameraman, wherever you are, thank you), now go back and take a closer look at Number 10 standing behind the plate in the Disability Day national anthem video...

Tell me that's not the same hoser from the front row in Edmonton! They match in every respect, from physical looks to over-excitedly Hulking Up at the end of their respective anthems. Get that guy off the field! He's not disabled -- he's just Canadian!

Alright, so you can understand how the Disability Awareness Day organizers might have missed that one...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rupert Jee does not appreciate your blog neglect

I get so mad at myself each time i come back to one of these blog neglect posts. I'm going to do the same thing this time as I always have when confronted with a dearth of inspiration or an apparent lack of available hours in the day: resolve to write more, stay creating, and soak up all the things that make me happy.

There really has been a ton going on, too. It's like the boulder has just begun gathering steam, and I get the feeling that summer is going to get here and crush everything in its path like a steamroller. But that's no excuse not to express something close to a story, an insight, a joke, a passing thought, a couple of times a week. If anything, I should have that much more to say.

What bothers me most is that while I haven't been posting, I've been tweeting away at the exact same rate as I ever have (as you can see just to your left in ye olde sidebar). I've definitely used twitter as a crutch, which is ridiculous because twitter sucks now anyway (SuperNews, you're really outdoing yourselves).

I guess I'll close for now with a story I've been meaning to tell for too long. Two weeks ago I was on my way to play volleyball for (soon to be ZogSports' first ever Schportng Sampler champions) team Purple Haze when I had a little bogus celebrity moment. My schporting activities are a different post entirely, but I got you, don't worry.

So I'm walking down 53rd St, and I realize I'm going to need some H20 for the game. I follow what looks to be a father/son duo - a pair of slightly portly fellows wearing matching 5k race shirts and looking like they could use some hydration themselves - into the first storefront I pass. Glancing inside I can see a deli counter and a fridge with cold beverages. Perfect.

I don't even realize I'm in Hello Deli until I go to reach for my water and I have to excuse myself around a photo op with Dad and the one and only Rupert Jee. Now, being a bit of a big deal myself, I'm not at all thrown by the sight of one of New York's most beloved late show punch lines. The Dad in the 5k race t-shirt, however, is awestruck, thanking Rupert and telling him, "I've been in here before, but you weren't around." Grabbing two Poland Springs out of the fridge, I can't help but overhear Rupert's response:

"Hey, man, I gotta work."

And I smile.

UPDATE: Wow, this is why I love the internet. A Google image search for Rupert Jee reveals a pretty damn accurate approximation of the exact photo op moment I accidentally walked into. Only difference is instead of me grabbing bottles of water in the background, there appears to be a sweat-soaked Kevin Youkilis struggling to interpret the directions on his beverage.

Oh, and one last thing. Looks like that Countdown to Bonnaroo really worked out. Riiiiight. So, about that -- the last countdown mention came with 65 days to go. As I type, we are exactly 30 days away froom the Big Rooskie.

Well you better learn to move fast when you're young or you're not long around
Cat somehow lost his Kitty down in the city pound
So get right, get tight, get down
Well who's that down at the end of the alley?
She's been gone so long

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

That's the LAST time we visit the Mexican petting zoo!

'Stand By Me' performed by the world, FTW

The world keeps getting smaller and smaller these days, and while that leads to things like killer pigs destroying humanity (or at least causing Asian people everywhere to break out their surgical masks and revive a little look I like to call "The Shredder"), it also leads to inspirational gems like this clip. Watch and smile--you won't see a better video any time soon (props to @Kramness).

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Music P-P-Power

Sometimes I miss Jurassic 5 a lot.

Meanwhile, some most excellent music afloat recently for you and I to listen on.

First, was just talking about this mixtape on the way back from CVille Sunday.
/sigh. why must I always have to come back? college, I miss you
Then wouldn't you know it? Most Bangin'est conveniently re-ups it on Monday.

Cudi is very representative of the generation gap emerging in rap. We heard about your gun for a long time, and now your old.

Next, Kanye's LVs and Autotune 2. I guess when he's not spending lonely nights in the frozen food aisle, the gay fish genius has some time to put together a fresh mixtape.

Saw it (where else but) Pigeons and Planes. Come to think of it, this was playing in the car while Grimace and I rode in the trunk on the way to the glorious Foxfield Races. It wasn't comfortable, but our plot was glad we were there to save the glass-bottled booze on the way in.

Finally, no Foxfield tie-in here, other than that both the races and this mixtape are a big W.
Courtesy of Rock Howard's tumblr (UPDATE: Direct link right here).

Hip-hop fans, meet The White Stripes.
Fans of The White Stripes, meet hip-hop.

— Adrian Champion

Friday, April 24, 2009

Goin Down To Foxfield Gonna Have Myself a Time [But first, we rock]

Haven't posted in a week, and I'd be upset about it if it weren't another insanely beautiful Friday.

Once again, on days like this, you just gotta rock it, so here's Green Day's highly anticipated new video for "Know Your Enemy" to help us do so (P.S. Tour starts July 3 in Seattle. Won't you join me on July 27 for some punk rock fist pumping in the Big Apple?).

I'll be spending the weekend at the most wonderful party of the year, the highlight of any good Wahoo's spring, the always-glorious and debaucherous Foxfield Races. To the uninitiated, please be aware that there is no 'ssss' at the end. Foxfield. Period. For the most comprehensive guide ever assembled to this landmark event, consult the awesomeness that is cVillain's '08 preview (seriously, you don't want to miss the infamous Piss Trough). If you're looking for me among the crowd, I'll likely be found wandering somewhere between "Wastefest" and "Graduates O' Wastefest." Hit me up, we'll toast to the better times (and chase it down with a shot of ice cold water because holy balls it's gonna be hot).

Most accurate Foxfield map ever courtesy of cVillain.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Moneymaker Shaker

It's Friday, it's 5:00, the sun is shining and the Yankees win.


Only one thing left to do: Shake it.

Whether you're a pompous old geezer who gets way too much enjoyment out of silly puns or this little dude I spotted getting his groove on to some Beatles music in Strawberry Fields, the best way to celebrate feelin' alive is to shake what your mama gave ya.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Dead Weather rock Bowery Ballroom [Jack White rules the universe]

Last night at the Bowery Ballroom, I was lucky enough to be among the tightly packed crowd of about 600 for the public performance debut of Jack White's latest side project/"obj-band"/supergroup, The Dead Weather. For the uninitiated, the rock god of our generation is fronting yet another band these days, wherein he returns to his first love, the drum kit, and continues to rock your face with his trademark brand of dirty, buzzing, crackling blues rock. Joining him this time around are lead singer Allison Mossheart of The Kills, Raconteurs bassist "Little Jack" Lawrence, and Queens of the Stone Age's Dean Fertita on guitar and keys. But you knew all that. Let's get to the part you don't know about -- the actual concert -- because unlike this guy, you couldn't score tickets, which sold out in approximately 47 seconds.

As I mentioned, the crowd was packed into Bowery Ballroom as tightly as we could have been, and I leaned over to Smellson the Music Fairy and remarked on the uniqueness of the situation--600 of us had snatched up tickets instantly and crammed ourselves shoulder-to-shoulder for a band that 6 people not named Meg White have ever seen perform and won't release their first album until June. Who else but Jack White makes that happen? The excitement was clear from the moment the band sauntered onto the stage in their matching black leather, and we knew we were in for some good old fashioned greasy, grimy rockin'.

White is as capable a rocker on the drums as he is on the guitar, and although his kit was set far back and pretty low to the ground, he still found a way to remain the centerpiece of the experience (mostly by playing the shit out of those drums). Mossheart is the perfect lead singer for White's brand of music, and she ferociously grabbed the room by the balls with her stage-stomping, mic-grinding, chain smoking hotness. I was transfixed. I wanted to do dirty things to her while listening to dirty Dead Weather music (which she would of course be singing). During one stretch, she rocked out on a Bo Diddley-style box guitar. Later, on "Will There Be Enough Water," Jack finally grabbed the axe and shredded, like we all not-so-secretly had hoped he would.

To echo the Rolling Stone article, it didn't feel like we were watching a "new" band. It was clear that this crew had practiced together, as it was clear that this was Jack White music. Without knowing any of the songs, I found myself rocking out hard throughout. When they finally got to the one song I did know, "Hang You From The Heavens," I whipped out the digicam and did some of my finest concert camerawork to date, embedded below for your face-melting pleasure.

Another great show in the books, which brings us to Humpday. The Yankees play at 4, which is cool, because that means the last few hours of the workday will sail by as Wailin Suzyn and John "Puns are Fun" Sterling bring me the play-by-play from Tampa. Or is it St. Pete? Or Tampa-St. Pete? Whatever. I'll be watching the game with a bunch of Fackers, so if you want to talk shit with me, head on over here.

Dead Weather links for those who weren't steeped in awesomeness last night:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

HBO renews Eastbound and Down! [wherein I get exactly what I wanted]

From the most appropriate source I can think of to bring forth some great news in a day that has already been chock full of WIN, reports that HBO has renewed Eastbound and Down. You just can't stop a bulletproof tiger. FUCKINAY RIGHT! KENNY POWERS IS BACK! This is most pleasing news and welcome relief for yours truly and at least one fan of this here blog.
LOS ANGELES, April 8, 2009 - HBO has renewed the comedy series EASTBOUND & DOWN for a second season, it was announced today by Michael Lombardo, president, Programming Group and West Coast Operations, HBO. Production on the new episodes will begin later this year, with debut slated for 2010.
For the full press release, click here. For hilarity, watch below.

If you won't listen to my words, then listen to my dancing feet....Work, drugs.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Opening Day is for everyone [the one with dinosaurs!]

Another Opening Day is in the books, and although the Yankees really let me down, it was still by any measure another fun and festive Opening Day. My favorite part was that it was chock full of baseball related goodness completely unrelated to anything happening on a field today.

First up, a bunch of fackin' hippies are going to kick off Phish's tour at Fenway. Thankfully, I'll be in Canada when this happens, so I won't even have to consider attending. Yes, we've established that I enjoy my Phish music, but if you've ever experienced the sardine-can seating at Fenway or stood next to a hippie you can imagine the olfactory misery that will ensue on May 31. If I have to say anything nice about it, the promo video for the concert on is fan-fackin-tastic. In fact, these videos have been somewhat of a Phish 3.0 revelation. You may recall that the last such clip, announcing the band's late summer tour, eventually led us to the Fagot Farm in Georgetown, TX. I'll get you linked up to the rest of those vids at the bottom of this post, but I'm getting away from my intended point, which is that today's concert announcement gave me occasion to revisit what is widely recognized* as the greatest musical moment ever at Fenway Park. It had to be, because I witnessed it firsthand during my only visit to see the Green Monstah.
(*not recognized by anyone)

It happened during an annual summer baseball stadium pilgrimage. In 2007, the destination city was Boston, and our crew unsuspectingly -- and drunkenly -- stumbled into a moment that really was beyond description. I know that's a corny way to set up the clip, but it's true! And that's saying nothing of the fact that my memories of these baseball trips are often wobbly at best.

The second bit of opening day fun that happened today was a shout-out from Deadspin. This comes as no surprise, of course, given that we're famouser than Captain Kangaroo around here, but it made me happy that the internet got to enjoy one of my favorite road trip moments, the T-Rex first pitch. Going into Chicago/Milwaukee 2008, we weren't sure anything could top the previous summer's national anthem moment. Little did we know we were about to witness a Ceremonial First Pitch Fail 65 million years in the making.

I was stunned to see this linked on Deadspin personally, because it is in fact Schiff Happens original footage. My 2 favorite comments were Hurdleguy04 on YouTube mocking Wurm's cackle, and Buccos on Deadspin being spot-on hilarious.

So there, I'm totally capable of doing an Opening Day post that everyone can enjoy. And I didn't even gripe about the fackin Yankees (I let Jay take care of that).

Now let the UNC rout continue for one more half so that I can win some money and the ACC can once again dominate the Big 10. If only my overrating of the ACC overall hadn't let me down in the first 2 rounds, I might be able to do better than second place. And yes, I really picked UNC over Michigan State in the final and still can't win my pool.

In other words, Happy Opening Day, Happy Spring, welcome back Baseball.

Phish 3.0 tour announcement videos:
Late Summer 2009
Summer 2009
(only sort of related, but come on, it's been a while since I mentioned it. Speaking of which, you're still invited--65 days!).

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Lake Elsinore Storm and Subtle Butt have your ass covered

Sadly, this is not an April Fools joke, but an actual press release about an (incomprehensibly) actual promotion at an actual minor league baseball stadium. Yes, Minor League Baseball is sort of built on sideshows and silly, pointless promotions, but trust me when I say you have never seen anything like the latest giveaway from the Lake Elsinore Storm,* which promises to help control your problems with "gas emissions" no less than 5 times. Why don't you just go ahead and read the thing? Even a mind as demented as mine couldn't have possibly made this up.

The Lake Elsinore Storm Baseball Team
P.O. Box 535 Lake Elsinore, CA 92531
Class A Affiliate of the San Diego Padres

Storm Teams Up With Subtle Butt

To Combat Fat Tuesday Gas Emissions

LAKE ELSINORE, CA– Do you have a problem with gas emissions in the world today? Well the Storm want to help. Every Tuesday home game at The Diamond in Lake Elsinore, gas emissions and the economy will not be a problem.

As some of you might know, last season the Lake Elsinore Storm ran a Fat Tuesday promotion, which included an All-U-Can-Eat buffet in the left field Tiki Terrace for $13. However, this season the Fat Tuesday promotion is ballpark-wide. Every Tuesday ticket will cost $13 and include an All-U-Can-Eat menu available at every concession stand, with Tuesday, June 23 being the only exception.

You can probably deduce that All-U-Can-Eat ballpark food might lead to substantial gas emissions, which is where corporate sponsor, Subtle Butt, enters the picture. Made of activated carbon fabric, each disposable 3.25” square shield is held onto the inside of underwear with two self-adhesive strips. Subtle Butt effectively filters flatulence, absorbing and neutralizing its odor. “I am confident that this will help fans get through the Seventh-Inning Stench,” says Kim Leone Olenicoff, President of Irvine-based The Pond Inc., maker of Subtle Butt. “And I’m not only the President, but a satisfied customer.”

The first 250 fans each Tuesday will receive a free product sample of Subtle Butt, providing relief both for the environment and for the noses of those around them. Fans can enjoy all their favorite ballpark food (hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, french fries and popcorn) and not worry about clearing out their section with untimely smells. “This will really help people out,” said Storm Assistant General Manager Allan Benavides. “I know personally when I eat all that I can, I have problems with gas emissions.”

The Storm front office members were used as guinea pigs to test the small patch in the off-season, and well, it works. Wives, friends and girlfriends are overjoyed at the relief Subtle Butt has brought them, and they hope that everyone else will feel the same.

For more information or to order Fat Tuesday tickets call the Storm Box Office at 951-245-4487 or visit

Really, Lake Elsinore Storm? REALLY?

This press release leaves me with so many more questions than answers. Who the hell decided that the Storm needed an entire promotion built around a fart joke? And a season-long promotion at that! Does the All-U-Can-Eat really have to apply to EVERY concession stand? Did David Wells recently sign with the Storm? I was not aware of this transaction. And oh, by the way, just how in the bloody hell do you even find out about a product like this?

And hey, you there with the Odor Eater pad shoved up your ass! Yea, you, Allan Benavides. I assume you aspire to bigger things than your current post as Assistant GM for the Class A Lake Elsinore Storm. Obviously, then, you'd want to go on the record about your "Problems with gas emissions." This makes sense.

The front office staff were the guinea pigs? So did they lock all the windows and doors to the conference room and just stand around letting it rip? Would you not immediately quit your job on the spot if your boss asked you to insert a fart-soaking maxi pad between your cheeks? And why the eff is it called Subtle Butt? To Kim Leone Olenicoff and the other brilliant minds over at The Pond, Inc.: You could not have possibly chosen a less subtle name for your product. The very notion of it defies subtlety -- your entire product pitch is based on the fact that farts smell!

I am absolutely convinced that the Snuggie people are behind this. Who else could have managed to create an insanely useless product that is offensive to all five of my senses?

Wait, what? Oh... oh god... Oh good god no! There's a commercial!

This looks like something Trey Parker and Matt Stone came up with during a week-long acid binge, or the outtakes from a Brazilian fart porn. Either way there is no way you could ever watch that and want to try the Subtle Butt, let alone hope to receive one as a free ballpark giveaway. And let's not forget that Minor League Baseball is marketed heavily towards families. Do you really want your kid thinking he has a free gas pass to just toot away as loud and long as he pleases? The Lake Elsinore Storm: Destroying America's youth one fart odor-neutralizing butthole sticker at a time.


No no no no no. Just no.

Oh, and one more thing...... No, seriously, it's not an April Fools. I know. I wish it were, too.

*Despite their inexplicable association with Subtle Butt, I have to stand up for the Storm for just one second to acknowledge that they may very well have the best hats in all of Minor League ball.