Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Creating a Global Movement with Stephan Said

Multi-instrumentalist tunesmith Stephan Said has been on the front lines of cutting-edge, socially aware music since he was in his teens. As Stephan Smith (his record label insisted that a songwriter with an Arabic name would never get anywhere) he released a series of potently lyrical albums that unapologetically confronted the reality of the Iraq war and the Bush regime’s reign of terror. These days, Said has a monthly residency at New York’s world music mecca, Drom, where he plays tomorrow night along with his band the the Magic Orchestra, with a special guest appearance by Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir. The concept here is to create a space for cross-cultural communication, both onstage and in the audience. Said’s an intense presence onstage; out of the spotlight, he’s as thoughtful and historically aware as you would expect. He took some time to give us the scoop on his ongoing series of shows:

Lucid Culture’s Correspondent: The theme of of your show tomorrow night, the 14th, is from Trahir to Madison: Building a Global Movement. Why not Trahir Square to the White House? Or Wall Street?

Stephan Said: It could be either. Or the same thing! The concept is that this is global, it’s truly become a global issue, and my life has been all about that. I think that consciousness is the answer to any of these national or international problems. A solution can’t come from anything other than an international movement for systemic change, and how we live together. That idea is reaching critical mass by itself.

LCC: What do you say to somebody who says music can’t change the world?

SS: Can music initiate change and make that happen here? I think it can. We’re at a time where it has to! If the US isn’t a part of it, it’s not because it’s not happening, it’s because something in the system like monopolized corporate entertainment, and the music industry following suit, is preventing it from growing. But that’s not stopping it happening on a global scale. I can’t believe it can’t happen now – my career is a testament to that. Being an Iraqi making pop music – Clear Channelable music! – that had a message to it, I was fully aware of the reasons why I wasn’t allowed to open up for somebody afer 9/11. It wasn’t because of the music. There’s been a mainstream evasion of these kind of things, and for this to happen we especially need to hear voices from the Middle East and North Africa, which is a small part of what we’re trying to do here.

LCC: There are all kinds of good things going on across the world, Fukushima or not. Tunisia, Egypt, now Ivory Coast, maybe Syria. If the people of Arab world, and the African world, can overthrow their dictators, can we overthrow Goldman Sachs?

SS: Their dictators are Goldman Sachs. Let’s get real: the generation of activists over there are not largely any different than they are over here, drawing from the same demographics that we saw when I organized demonstrations in Seattle. These are educated people, and they’re fully aware of the magnitude of what’s facing not only them in their own countries, but in the whole world. And to relegate the struggle in Tunisia or Egypt, or Syria or Iraq – or Madison – to those local communities would only be to ignore the global context or the real causes. Dictators are a local problem, and they’re a global problem.

There’s just one conversation that we need to proliferate: change the global economy.

What we have to do has to be as infectious as possible, peneterate everywhere, no enemies. Including Goldman Sachs. One of the songs I did with Hal Willner, on the difrent album, is Isn’t There a Dream: “The enemy is only he who has not been made a friend.” I know people from that sphere, the world of banking and finance, and they are very much aware of the need for community and the changes that need to be made. The people at Goldman Sachs aren’t the enemy. It’s literally all hands on deck now. That means that Republican over there, he’s not your enemy. It’s way more scary than that. My family’s been bombed by our country, in Iraq, and I still don’t think our country is is to blame – the whole world is responsible. We need to get real about changing the global economy, and the first step that we need to take to create change is to create a community where we can face the truth and we can do something about it.

LCC: Breaking down boundaries between cultures is an idea whose time has come. But you know how it is, you go to this concert, or that rally, and after awhile you start to see the same faces over and over again. This is a question that I struggle with constantly, and I haven’t been able to come up with an answer. To what extent are we preaching to the converted? Are we really reaching anyone we wouldn’t otherwise, and if not, how do we get there?

SS: Does anybody have any answers for that? And yes, I do think about that all the time. My thinking is that the ways we have to do it are the ways that it’s been done forever. I was just joking with George, our bass player – it’s the past future, post-contemporary music. To answer your question specifically, I don’t think we should ever think of recruiting people. From the mid-90s, I was one of the few people surrounded by computer geeks when most people didn’t have a computer, when we launched the Independent Media Center in Seattle. The idea was, what if we started a cultural site for the networked global generation in the same way that the printing press served for the independence movement? When a single movement sets up its individual information distribution system, instead of a million individual voices speaking out in the wilderness separately, that’s when change happens.

My two mentors were Allen Ginsberg and Pete Seeger. I learned so much from them because they were both the single individual in their scenes without whom those scenes would not have happened. Without Seeger, there never would have been a folk revival, or even Bob Dylan, or Janis Joplin, or Jimi Hendrix. All of that flowed out of something that created a community of social activism, that allowed records to be sold, and a flow of information along with it. Same with the Beats. Kerouac, Corso, amazing writers, but Ginsberg would start mentioning that there are other people doing the same kind of thing, so people would go, “Oh wow, it’s not just about him, or her.” That was something that got lost after the sixties.

I mean, look at the number of megastars that we have today who cite Martin Luther King or Woody Guthrie as their heroes. Do they really emulate them? They have millions. Martin Luther King and Woody did it while being blacklisted!

Now we’re at a time where based on what all those amazing people from the 60s and onward have done, if we can bring our voices together, we can create a community where things can happen. It’s up to us to create a culture to unite people across borders, for me to make a new world pop music that effectively breaks borders and brings people together. Like those theatre movements like dada or surrealism, those rare moments where art can lead the way, we’re in a time of great hope, but it ‘s up to us to create the great culture for all the world to see. If we get off our butts and seize it, we can make the dream of a new global economic system come true if we make it come true, and it’s obvious that it’s going to be culture that leads the way.

LCC: Isn’t that easier said than done? So many people are xenophobic, maybe by nature. A lot of people are terrified of change. How do we get them to get with the program?

SS: The engine of the train never has to worry about how far back the caboose is. They can get on whenever they figure it out. I’m going to the next world and if somebody else isn’t ready to be there, the best way I can help them is to go there myself.

Stephan Said and the Magic Orchestra play Drom tomorrow night, April 14 at 8 PM along with special appearances by Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir and actress Najla Said with co-sponsors OR Books, FEN Magazine, Helo Magazine, The Mantle, and the New Jersey Outreach Group.

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April 13, 2011 Posted by | Culture, interview, Live Events, middle eastern music, Music, music, concert, New York City, rock music, world music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ghost Hunting in the East Village

A large urban area, particularly its oldest sections, ought to have no shortage of ghosts, at least if you believe in them. We’ll put our cards on the table and reveal that none of the crew here have ever seen one: at least that’s the consensus, even after a Halloween eve trip to the Merchant’s House Museum at 29 E 4th St., reputedly Manhattan’s most haunted house. Ostensibly, one way to encourage the appearance of spectral images is to place two mirrors facing each other (the basic principle of Dr. Raymond Moody’s famous psychomantium). In the upstairs bedroom of the three-story 1832 brick Federal house where nonagenarian Gertrude Tredwell died in 1933 (and supposedly continues to reside), there are in fact two mirrors facing each other across the room. One was in desperate need of a dusting – or was it? Are the staff here more savvy about their ghostbusting than they let on? An attempt by one of our crew to squat down out of range and watch the surface of the clean mirror revealed a nebulous, shapeless blob of whitish grey that could have been…well, you figure it out. Ectoplasm, dust, or just bad eyesight? Maybe that’s why this guy’s experiences of the paranormal have been audio and tactile but never visual.

And if you don’t believe in ghosts, the museum is still marvelous. A current exhibit focuses on postmortem photography common in the late 1800s, including a rather sad collection of wallet-size deathbed and casket shots, most of them children. In the days before the invention of the Kodak box camera, this was a popular phenomenon in upper class America: funeral photos were keepsakes, and frequently the only portraits ever made of many of those unfortunate kids.

The rest of the house is stunning in its lowlit authenticity, complete with its owners’ 19th century furnishings. In the downstairs kitchen, where the Tredwell family’s four Irish servants cooked on the big iron stove, there’s the pie safe (a big breadbox on stilts, typically set in pails of water to keep the bugs from getting into the pastries inside). Outside in the garden, you’ll find evidence of the 4000 gallon cistern – a source of water for washing and cleaning but not for drinking, considering that the rainwater flowed down from the eaves overhead. The first-floor parlor with its chandeliers, high ceilings, pristine 1820 pink silk sofa and vintage 1840 piano, reminds that grubbing for status has been with us since the dawn of humankind (from the looks of it, the Tredwells do not appear to have been the deepest people in the neighborhood). The upstairs bedrooms, also complete with ornate, highly sought-after period furnishings, include both the room where patriarch Seabury Tredwell (1780-1865) died, as well as the actual bed where his daughter Gertrude left this world. Her mirror (the one covered with dust) hangs past it along the north wall. Sadly, the part of the house that probably tells the most tales – the servants’ quarters – is not open to the public. But the rest is a treat, as vivid a look at 19th century daily life in Manhattan as you’ll ever see. The museum is open Thursday-Monday, noon to 5 PM. Admission is a very reasonable $10.

October 31, 2010 Posted by | Culture, New York City | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lilian Caruana Captures the Vulnerable Side of the Punk Esthetic

What is most stunning about Lilian Caruana’s photographs of punk rock kids in New York from 1984 to 1987, now on display through January 7, 2011 at the John D. Calandra Italian-American Institute, is how much space they have. As anyone who lived in New York, or who came here at the time can attest, it was a vastly more spacious place, offering freedom to pretty much anyone who sought it. Caruana, an Italian immigrant, draws on the populism of legendary Life Magazine photographer W. Eugene Smith in an engaging series of black-and-white portraits offering a compassionate view of life as an outsider.

Caruana’s intent was to capture her subjects’ individuality, and it was fortuitous that she took these pictures when she did, when individuality of expression among young New York immigrants was not only not forbidden but actually pretty much de rigeur. Even then, the punk scene was not necessarily a nonconformists’s club: there were Nazi and racist elements, especially among the hardcore kids. But many of the people who came here did so not necessarily because they wanted to, but because there was nowhere else to go, and because they had the option of being pretty much by themselves if they felt like it. And because they could afford it. How times have changed. These East Village shots could be from another universe. There’s not a single $500 bedhead haircut, posse of overdressed, tiara-wearing suburban girls or their Humvee stretch limo, or for that matter, anyone, anywhere, except the subjects of the photos themselves.

Several capture squatters in their lowlit afternoon hovels: a scruffy but seemingly cheerful couple reclining by the window on a mattress; a young guy with a Simply Red haircut enjoying a smoke while playing with a trio of kittens who seemingly could have run off into the adjacent hole in the apartment wall if they felt like it; a girl on her bed, leaning on a Bellevue Hospital pillow and watching a war movie on an old portable tv at 4:35 in the morning, her wall decor limited to the label off a Budweiser torpedo bottle (those were the days before the forty-ounce) and what might be a bloody handprint. The multi-racialism and inclusiveness of the era is evident in the diversity of Caruana’s subjects, especially in her portraits of mixed-race couples. One of them playfully does the bump in front of a gated storefront, the guy holding one of those big Bud bottles – young people drinking on the street in broad daylight were not typically subjected to police persecution in those days. Another pose on their rooftop, the street below them empty save for a battered Chevy Monte Carlo and a shiny new Mazda coupe passing by. As is the case with an Iron Cross-wearing, heavily tattooed guy – his face out of the frame – down the block from an independently owned diner long since vanished from the neighborhood. The shot most likely to be destined for iconic mall-store t-shirt status depicts a father and toddler son with identical mohawks – again, this was from an era fifteen years before the hairstyle became popular with members of the military and the police force. The tattoos are homemade; expressions of peace, freedom and nonviolence predominate among the t-shirts and graffiti; and perhaps most obviously, none of these people seem the least bit threatening.

The John D. Calandra Italian-American Institute is located at 25 W 43rd St. (5th/6th Ave.), on the 17th floor. Gallery hours aren’t listed at their site: you may wish to call before visiting, (212) 642-2094.

October 28, 2010 Posted by | Art, Culture, Music, music, concert, photography, rock music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Interview with a Lucid Culture Founder

While we’re busy in the back working on the big if largely invisible revamp here, if you’re really interested, here’s a somewhat tongue-in-cheek version of how this here blog got started, via the new and interesting guitar blog jemsite (which you might want to bookmark if guitar is your thing…or if like the Lucid Culture spokesperson here you happen to play an Ibanez…)

October 14, 2009 Posted by | Conspiracy, Culture, Music, music, concert, New York City | , , , | Leave a comment

The International Songwriting Competition – Worth It or Not?

Today is ripoff day. A ripoff differentiates itself from a scam by not being downright illegal. The $25K grand prize for the International Songwriting Competition may or may not exist, the latter case which would vault it into the former category. The promoters of the competition claim that the judges include Tom Waits, Kings of Leon, Loretta Lynn, Black Francis, McCoy Tyner and Toots Hibbert, but even if that’s true, and those luminaries voted en bloc, they’d still be outnumbered many times over by a crew of schlockmeisters from the soon-to-be-defunct major labels. Ultimately, contests like these boil down to a glorified lottery. What chance does a musician’s hard-earned $25 entry fee stand? A look at last year’s winners provides the answer – and the organizers’ decision to make this information public may turn out to be the marketing disaster that shuts them down for good.

The grand prize winner was a generic trip-hop song. The production is laughably obsolete – the drum machine shuffle was over by 1996, something you would expect judges ostensibly the caliber of Messrs. Waits, Hibbert et al. to be aware of. Perhaps far more telling is that the song’s writers, fortysomething pop singer Kate Miller-Heidke and her husband Keir Nuttall already had a gold album and a major label deal in Australia when they entered the contest. Is this contest simply a lower-budget version of the Grammies, a major label circle jerk with zero acknowledgment of what the listening public might prefer? In other words, considering its association with the major labels, is the deck stacked against artists who don’t fit the cookie-cutter corporate mold?

The song that won in the rock category, by Kristopher Roe of the Ataris was even worse, an even more cliched emo-pop song. “The only thing that matters is following your heart, and eventually you’ll get it right,” Roe strains, affecting an intensity of emotion that his band’s third-rate Good Charlotte imitation reaches for halfheartedly before giving up. “Being grown up isn’t half as fun as growing up,” Roe asserts, a tautology for the comfortable upper middleclass children he envisions as a customer base. In case you’re not familiar with the band, they achieved some recent notoriety by recording an earnest Green Day style cover of a Don Henley song. The ersatz emotion recurs with the second-place winner, Quebecois emo-pop band Tailor Made Fable’s A Case of Mistaken Identity. At least the third-place winner, Irish band Chrome Horse’s Reflections of a Madman shows  some passion, even if the verse is a blatant ripoff of the Ventures’ Egyptian Reggae.

A look through the rest of the winners didn’t turn up much of anything worthwhile either. The second-place winner in the World Music category wasn’t remotely exotic: Leni Stern’s 1,000 Stars is a vapid semi-acoustic pop song in the style of the grand prize winner. Americana winner Kevin Meisel’s Cruising for Paradise is a third-rate Jimmy Buffett pop number with a little mandolin overdubbed to give it that down-home Americana flavor. Jazz winners the LeBoeuf Bros. Quartet’s Code Word at least shows some promise, even if it it’s not exactly edgy. And in case cutting-edge lyrics are your thing, for a laugh, here are the winners in the Lyrics-Only category.

In case you haven’t figured all this out by now, the winners here may actually be the best of what the judges had to work with. Consider – would your favorite cool band be caught dead entering a generic corporate talent search like this one? Imagine for a minute a first-class group like the French Exit at Emergenza. They’d clear the room in seconds flat.

September 18, 2009 Posted by | Culture, Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 108 Comments

Live Nation’s Club Passport Is a Scam

[by Lucid Culture’s chief cook and bottle washer]

When I was a kid, my family went through a hiking phase. I must have been about nine when they first became obsessed with it. By the time I was twelve, I’d been to the top of most of the smaller mountains in New England. One of the first was a humble little peak in New Hampshire called Red Hill. It barely qualifies as a mountain, but assuming it hasn’t been bulldozed for McMansions, it’s probably as good a place as any to show a fourth grader how much fun it is to set out for the summit hoping there’s water somewhere along the way. The day I was there, so was the fire warden, who had a peculiar sense of humor. He gave me a ticket which read, “This is a free ticket from the top of Red Hill. It’s not good for anything. It’s just free.” Same deal with the Live Nation Club Passport – except that it’s a scam that’s probably illegal. With a passport like this, you might as well stay home. And call the Department of Consumer Fraud at your State Attorney General’s office while you’re at it.

For the first time in music history, here’s a ticket that won’t get you into the show you just paid for. “Introducing the Live Nation Club Passport, – see unlimited club shows for remainder of 2009 for just $50, all-in, no fees, limited time offer.”

Yeah right. See below.

As the fine print says, purchase of this ticket DOES NOT GUARANTEE YOU ENTRY.

Now wait a minute – that’s what a ticket is, isn’t it? A voucher that proves you purchased a seat or a space at a show, that proves you’re not trying to sneak in?

No. This ticket costs you $50 but it won’t get you in anywhere. It’s a glorified CMJ pass, except that the bands at CMJ are way better, which is pretty depressing. What Live Nation is trying to do is A) get your personal info so they can spam you about a million overpriced shows you’d never want to see and B) fulfill the task known in club circles as “papering the house.” See, no club owner wants to look foolish when nobody shows up and the band plays to an empty house. Now combine the depression with overpriced concert tickets and the picture becomes clear – other than shows at small, reasonably priced clubs and a few jam band gigs, people simply aren’t going out anymore in numbers like they used to. So to avoid looking foolish and getting bad press, wannabe-monopoly concert promoters Live Nation and their soon-to-be-sister firm TicketBastard are dumping cheap tickets by the truckload for shows that are selling badly. To take one recent example, wish you’d seen AC/DC in Foxboro, MA? You could have. For free. Once you get out of the small clubs, it’s amazing to watch the corporate rock world imploding before your eyes.

But the Live Nation Club Passport is a complete ripoff. First of all, you can’t even use it as a ticket, which if for some reason you couldn’t attend an event, you could sell or give to a friend. The Club Passport is non-transferable and requires that you show photo ID when attempting to enter a venue. Secondly, you have to attempt to reserve admission to the show you want to see before 4 PM the day of the show – when you will learn whether your reservation has been accepted OR REJECTED. See, Live Nation reserves the right not to let you in because they think there are a few more full-price ticket buyers out there. Of course, the Live Nation website encourages you to show up at the venue right before showtime and then try to get in.

But what if they still won’t let you in? Isn’t that fraud?

If you read the fine print, you’ll see plenty of other nasty nickel-and-dime rules. For example, what if you’re a diehard fan who wants to see a band at the club in your hometown and then at a Live Nation venue in an adjacent state? No way. They’ll only accept your Club Passport in your home state.

Realistically speaking, people everywhere are doing the same thing as Live Nation and TicketBastard: realizing they can’t afford the concert they stupidly shelled all that money for, they’re unloading their tickets on craigslist, facebook, the bulletin board at your local laundromat…pretty much everywhere. And you may want to see “Andrew Bird, the Mars Volta, Dragonforce, All Time Low, Common, Pitbull, Trey Songz, Psychedelic Furs, and many others,” as Live Nation’s site advertises, but a check of available Club Passport shows at New York’s Irving Plaza and Gramercy Theatre revealed that those aren’t available. Can anybody say “bait and switch?” Still,  if you’d like to see once-popular 90s ska-punk band Bowling For Soup, actress Juliette Lewis – who’s also apparently a singer  – or the Sam Roberts Band – oh boy, can’t wait! – and don’t mind paying $50 for the privilege, the Club Passport is probably right up your alley. In fact, if you added Craig Owens of screamo band Choidos to the list, your Club Passport would almost pay for itself. Assuming, of course, that you weren’t denied admission to those shows – and you know that the day Craig Owens of Choidos sells out a club will be a cold day in hell.

Comments from consumers and law enforcement are invited, just use the comments button below.

September 18, 2009 Posted by | concert, Culture, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why We’re Not on Facebook

Repost via Lefsetz: “Last night my and my wife _______’s Facebook accounts were hacked into. Low lifes have been calling everyone who’s listed there, posing as us, saying we were robbed in London and need money to get home. We’ve been getting calls from all over the world. It’d be funny if it wasn’t so scary. We can’t get Facebook to terminate the account and as I write this the low lifes are still calling people we know. There should be a fail safe code that allows the owner to terminate the site. Wasted a whole day on this caca! These sites are like the wild west!  Anyone else had this happen you know of?”

September 16, 2009 Posted by | Culture, Rant | , , , | Leave a comment

The Bible Thief

This one was impossible to resist, via the Lefsetz Letter. A reader responds to a post concerning the pros and cons of the Kindle (mostly the pros, actually):

“My Kindle was stolen off my seat on a United flight back from London to LA two months ago. Went to the restroom, came back, gone! Theft at 35,000 ft. I reported it stolen to United (we decided not to search everyone on the plane!), but I left the account on to see what happened next. A week later, I got a notice from Amazon that a book had been purchased on my Kindle acct. What did the thief buy??

The Bible, Old AND New Testament, only $0.99 (public domain)…”

September 11, 2009 Posted by | Culture, snark, The Blahgues | 1 Comment

Why You Don’t Want to Be on America’s Got Talent

Here’s the satirical, utterly original New York band Witches in Bikinis getting the boot on America’s Got Talent.

Now here’s the band the same day, singing the same song live on Fangoria Radio and nailing it with characteristic panache.

What the tv audience wasn’t told is that America’s Got Talent edited out 99% of what Witches in Bikinis actually sang and played. It appears that the clip is actually two edits – one from one of the choruses of Love Potion #9 and another from the very end of the song with the band edited out of the mix – pasted together to give the misleading impression that they’re getting the heave-ho after just seconds onstage. Trouble is, it didn’t happen that way. And you thought reality tv was real…

Now here’s the whole Fangoria Radio clip – with no edits. Witches in Bikinis play the Coney Island boardwalk on 8/15 and 8/22.

July 8, 2009 Posted by | Culture, Music, music, concert | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Citi Field = Shitty Field

First time at the new ballpark. The first thing that greets you – after the shock of seeing the parking lot where Shea (a dump, but it was OUR dump) used to be is the facade, striking in its cheap resemblance to a roadside stripmall or an ATM. It isn’t even worthy of a little league team, let alone a major league franchise, all paper-thin brick and metal overlay and spray-on faux-adobe. The cheapness is even more evident once you get inside. In an even more brazen display of cost-cutting while ratcheting up ticket prices, there’s vastly less fully enclosed space than there was at Shea, the sky visible from below decks upwards. Meaning that when it’s hot, you’ll be hotter, when it rains, you’ll be wetter and when it’s cold, as it was last night, you’d better bring a jacket or else.

The concessions at Shea were pretty nasty, let’s face it. The new stadium’s are even less inviting, several on the field level with their winding, labyrinthine lines roped off and therefore vastly more difficult to escape should you tire after standing in the same place for half an hour waiting for that $7.50 12-ounce plastic cup of beer (wine is $10). Instead of the anonymous Shea vendors, several national chains are featured along with a local pizza place and numerous bracciole stands. The bathrooms are no nicer than at the old place, although to the Mets’ credit they pipe the radio broadcasts in there now.

And that new rightfield overhang is a nightmare for outfielders, fans and umpires (more on them a bit later). Situated way up on the third tier, about 3/4 down the rightfield line, it was impossible to see anything happening in foul territory down the line, or for that matter about fifteen feet foul behind first base. Was it really worth it to design the place as a graveyard for their current rival Phillies’ lefty power hitters? Call it the House that Utley Built. And he doesn’t even play here more than nine games a year unless you (doubtfully, at this point) count the playoffs.

And about the game. Johan Santana started, a cold mist rolling in along with a nasty garbage-dump smell from somewhere between Flushing and the Rockaways. Although he struck out the side in the first and the third, it didn’t look like he was getting a good grip on the ball, perhaps an explanation for his unusually high walk total (six in six innings along with eleven K’s). The low point was the fourth inning where Johan came unglued after giving up a Strawberry-esque two-run laser shot by Adam Dunn deep to right-center. After walking opposing pitcher Jordan Zimmerman (batting average: .000) to load the bases, he then missed with a 3-1 fastball to the free-swinging Christian Guzman to force in a run and tie the game. He managed to get out of the sixth courtesy of two marvelous, sprinting catches by backup centerfielder Angel Pagan to get Dunn on a ferocious liner and then the pitcher, making an impressive attempt to make his first hit of the season a grand slam. Could have happened – anybody remember Felix Hernandez last year? Against Johan, no less?

Jordan Zimmerman is a star in the making with mid-nineties heat countered by a nasty slider. He made it into the bottom of the sixth in a 3-3 tie as the hapless Nats (a phrase that’s too apt to avoid copying from every other sportswriter out there) threw the ball all over the place. Catcher Wil Nieves dropped an easy pop fly but managed to throw to first to get Ramon Martinez, and Josh Willingham misplayed a Ramon Castro drive into a double that bounced on the chalk down the leftfield line. And then there was the incident along the other foul line, a shot by Daniel Murphy initially ruled a double with Gary Sheffield (a juicer, but he’s OUR juicer) being thrown out at the plate trying to score from first. Then an interminable wait while the umpires reviewed the play, which stumped us as well since all we saw was the bounce after the ball hit…somewhere. Didn’t look like it made it into the visitors’ bullpen, that’s for sure, as the umpires eventually ruled after an least seven-minute delay. But anything that’s good for the Mets is good with us.

The Nats’ bullpen is a joke, and the Mets capitalized, Nats manager Manny Acta mysteriously leaving righthanded one-pitch wonder Jesus Colome in to face the lefty-hitting Murphy with the bases loaded, even though he had Mets nemesis Joe Beimel available. Murphy predictably  responded with a liner that bounced on the warning track in center to drive in a couple of insurance runs. Which turned out useful when with two outs in the ninth, Murphy ably lunged for a Guzman grounder that Carlos Delgado wouldn’t have been able to get to, but then misplayed it. Guzman then stole second without a throw  -and what’s with the stupidest new official scorer fad, “defensive indifference?” The guy scored on Nick Johnson’s single. Guzman rightfully deserves credit for taking the initiative to get into scoring position. K-Rod finally got Ryan Zimmerman (no relation to the pitcher) to take a dubious slider for a called third strike and put Washington out of their misery, 7-4.  Go Mets.

May 28, 2009 Posted by | baseball, Culture, New York City | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments