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Slobber from the north.

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Back from vacation, and back to listening to music. (I expect I will return to the old ballgames sometime over the winter.)

And what are we ringing out the summer with? Oh, we’ve got a winner this time.

A few months ago I got put onto Out of Print Moncton, a Bandcamp site that collects music issued in the ’90s by little-known local bands in the Moncton, New Brunswick, area.

Most of the releases were cassette-only. And if I didn’t know better, I’d think some local scenester had simply emptied out an old box of tapes, digitized the tunes and slapped ‘em up as free Bandcamp downloads to prevent them from disappearing forever.

(The music, while sludgy at point of origin, sounds too crisp to be coming off well-worn old cassettes. Perhaps the person behind the website is the local sound guy who mixed all the stuff and still has master tapes lying around. I don’t know.)

Most of the music appears to be punk, which is not a genre I much go in for. I understand the release of energy and all that … but really, 99 percent of all punk bands sound the same to me.

If you like the punk stuff on Out of Print Moncton, there’s probably a band playing in your town tonight that sounds like that. Go see ‘em and buy their tape.

But amid all the punkstuff is a winner. Two winners, actually, a cassette and a CD release, performed by a bunch of grunge-metal knuckle-scrapers who called themselves Mood Cadillac.

Mood Cadillac, apparently, was one of those bands whose members have been in 40 other groups … some of which loom larger in local history than Mood Cadillac ever did. There’s probably some Monctonian reading this thinking, “Why is he writing about Mood Cadillac, and not about (fill in name of longer-lasting/better-known band)?”

One listen to Mood Cadillac’s monomaniacal sub-Sabbath slobber, and you too will understand.

We’re talking stringy-haired guys in a basement on the salt-kissed edge of nowhere, playing the simplest possible riffs with the maximum possible fuzz, total commitment, minimal audio fidelity and no subtlety at all.

(Mood Cadillac’s music reminds me that it has been far too long since I listened to Vincebus Eruptum, if that further clues you in.)

Guitarists Jody Perry and Russ Payne have joined the likes of Leigh Stephens, Mick Ronson and Red Album-era Mark Farner in my personal pantheon of sleazy-does-it guitar heroes.

Lead singer Gunther is kind of overmatched by all the fuzz, and doesn’t have a metal-god voice to begin with, but does his best to keep up. I’ve come to kinda like him — much more than I like Ozzy Osbourne, another frontman with a regular-joe set of pipes.

Mood Cadillac’s two releases — 1997’s Big Ol’ Dirty (released the day it was recorded, according to Bandcamp) and 1998’s Mood Cadillac — fit comfortably onto a single CD. In my burner, anyway, they combine at precisely 69 minutes in length.


Anyway, here’s a sample from the second album, in which our heroes stumble in and out of 7/4 time without knocking over their beers.

If you like it, go to Out of Print Moncton and snag your own copy. And keep the riffs alive.

Hello, Dick? … Is Dick there? … Hello? …

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The last days of Richard Nixon are popping up in the media nowadays, this week being the 40th anniversary of his resignation.

Nixon’s presidential diary from August 1974 makes interesting reading, especially the late-night and early-morning phone calls in the final few days. How incoherent must some of those calls have been?

My favorite part of the diary comes at the very end, on Aug. 9, when it presents the following order of events. (My summation is not word-for-word, but you can click the link above if you’d like that.)

9:32-9:57 a.m.: The President makes a farewell address to Congress and the nation.

10 a.m.: The President and his family go to the South Lawn of the White House.

10-10:09 a.m.: The President and his family travel by helicopter to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

10:17 a.m.-11:57 p.m.: The President (now former President, I suppose) and his family fly from Andrews Air Force Base to California.

10:20 a.m.: The President was telephoned long-distance by his former Assistant, H.R. Haldeman. The call was not completed.

(diary ends)

That seems like an arbitrary place to cut off the Nixon Presidency, doesn’t it?

I like to imagine the last Nixon staffers hanging around the White House when the phone rang, saying to each other: “It’s that freaking Haldeman again. Do we have to put this in the record? Can we just pretend he didn’t call? Really? Oh, all right. Then we’ll take the boxes out to the car.”

The idea of the Nixon Presidency ending with an unsuccessful phone call from a disgraced former aide — after the former President had been shown on national television leaving town — is somewhere between touching and pathetic.

Was Haldeman not watching? Was he unaware that his old boss had left the White House? Was he desperate or hoping against hope that Tricky Dick had gone back to his old office one last time after making his farewell speech?

The diary shows Haldeman making several other phone calls in the prior day or two, none of which were put through to Nixon.

Haldeman, who was facing conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges, had asked Nixon to pardon him at one point, which Nixon refused to do. Presumably the President’s handlers cut Haldeman off after that.

But by 10:20 a.m. on Aug. 9, there was no one left to be cut off from.

Interestingly, Gerald Ford’s presidential diary has him taking the oath of office at noon on Aug. 9.

I assume that means Nixon remained President during those first two hours that he was airborne; I wonder what would have happened if something had occurred that required a Presidential response.

Maybe Haldeman really did think Nixon would still be at the White House, if Nixon were still serving as commander-in-chief.

(On a related note, I imagine the White House continued to get letters urging Nixon not to resign for days after he left. I bet a few Americans — maybe even Lazlo Toth — put letters to Nixon in the mail on the morning of Aug. 8, urging him to stay the course. Whaddya suppose the Ford White House did with them?)

Ford’s presidential diary, by comparison, ends in a much more dignified and stirring (and appropriate) fashion: His last recorded act as President was to take part in the inaguration of his successor.

Any wonderworld that I’m welcome to.

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As I continue to fight a nasty case of writer’s block — or, more accurately, a nasty case of having nothing to say — I have turned to an unlikely source of inspiration.

I am neither on the mountain, nor in the valley; but instead stand confronted by a vast, sere plain.

This is Uriah Heep’s Wonderworld. I am not sure why I was ever here, nor why I have come back.

Some albums, we all know, are rousing artistic triumphs. Others are misbegotten failures, attracting the odd contrarian defender here and there, but largely rejected.

And then there’s the vast gray pile of albums stuck somewhere in the middle … records made not because the performers had anything to say, but because they were obliged to honor a contract that required them to turn in 40 minutes of original music at specified intervals.

Wonderworld feels like one of  those albums.

Nay, it is one of those albums. It is shot through to the core with Obligation and Artistic Stagnation and More Of The Same.

Its song titles (“Suicidal Man,” “The Shadows and The Wind,” “So Tired”) bespeak burnout. Its cover shows the band stuck as statues, mired in poses, stationary.

Going nowhere.

I used to own a copy of Wonderworld as a teenager. I couldn’t tell you why now, except maybe that I sniffed out the scent of teeth-grinding mediocrity just by looking at it, and thought there might be fun in the pursuit.

That, and it was $1.

Similarly, I could not describe the urge that inspired me to go find it on YouTube (my vinyl copy is long gone) and listen to it again tonight. I did not expect to find inspiration, nor so-bad-it’s-good cheesiness, nor lost-classic defiance. And I didn’t.

Heep peddles the usual Seventies hard-rock trappings on Wonderworld — some clavinet-driven not-really-funk; a ballad with strings; some Big Riffs; a “stirring” anthem with military march overtones; some steely, bluesy stomp. The last of these almost works.

But, at root, there is … nothing.

No particular substance or distinctive style or creativity.

No hooks to stick in your head longer than five minutes; no lyrics that capture the essence of life in a single verbal twist.

Just a deadline met and a new slab of plastic for the shops.

As song after song rolls by on YouTube, I stand confronted by a vast, sere plain.

I have nothing to say. Uriah Heep has nothing to say.

Perhaps, after all these years, we deserve each other.

Coda: The invaluable ARSA database of local radio play charts indicates that Wonderworld attained its only U.S. sales notices 40 years ago this month. I did not know this when I set out to write.


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Still scraping for stuff to feed the beast … I feel like doing some more local music reviews but haven’t taken the time yet.

In the meantime, here’s something that interests me, and might also interest about a half-dozen other baseball trivia buffs who won’t read it.

Courtesy of Retrosheet, the last players to be ejected in the histories of Major League Baseball’s relocated teams:

Boston Braves: Manager Charlie Grimm; Aug. 30, 1952; by umpire Art Gore; for arguing balls and strikes.

St. Louis Browns: Manager Marty Marion; Sept. 20, 1953; by umpire Johnny Stevens; no reason recorded.

Philadelphia A’s: Pitcher Marion Fricano; Aug. 29, 1954; by umpire Eddie Hurley; for fighting.

Brooklyn Dodgers: Pitcher Don Newcombe; Aug. 22, 1957; by umpire Frank Secory; for bench jockeying.

New York Giants: Manager Bill Rigney; Sept. 21, 1957; by umpire Stan Landes; for protesting an interference non-call.

Washington Senators (1901-1960): Right fielder Bob Allison; Aug. 17, 1960; by umpire John Rice; for protesting a called third strike.

Milwaukee Braves: Manager Bobby Bragan; Oct. 2, 1965; by umpire Doug Harvey; for protesting ball and strike calls.

Kansas City A’s: Manager Al Dark; July 16, 1967; by umpire Jerry Neudecker; for arguing ball and strike calls.

Seattle Pilots: Manager Joe Schultz; Sept. 20, 1969; by Neudecker again; for arguing an automatic ball assessed to pitcher Diego Segui for taking too long to pitch.

Washington Senators (1961-1971): First baseman Don Mincher; Sept. 22, 1971; by umpire Dave Phillips; for protesting a called third strike.

Montreal Expos: Manager Frank Robinson; June 16, 2004; by umpire Phil Cuzzi; for arguing a fair/foul call.

And, a list of the first people to be ejected in the histories of relocated or expansion teams:

Milwaukee Braves: Catcher Ebba St. Claire; July 16, 1953; by Frank Dascoli; for disputing a called third strike; team’s only ejection of year.

Baltimore Orioles: Pitcher Joe Coleman, catcher Ray Murray and manager Jimmy Dykes; all April 25, 1954; by Eddie Hurley; for arguing balls and strikes.

Kansas City A’s: Manager Lou Boudreau; June 13, 1955; by Charlie Berry; for complaining about the condition of a rain-soaked field.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Newcombe again; May 23, 1958; by Secory again; for bench jockeying, again.

San Francisco Giants: First baseman Orlando Cepeda; April 24, 1958; by Augie Donatelli; for arguing a call at second base.

Los Angeles Angels: Third baseman Eddie Yost; April 15, 1961; by Jim Honochick; for arguing a called third strike.

Washington Senators (1961-71): Manager Mickey Vernon; June 28, 1961; by Sam Carrigan; for arguing a called third strike; team’s only ejection of year.

Minnesota Twins: Right fielder Lenny Green; June 5, 1961; by Joe Linsalata; for arguing a called third strike.

New York Mets: Third-base coach Solly Hemus; June 5, 1962; by Jocko Conlan; for objecting to Conlan’s interruption of a chat on the mound.

Houston Colt .45s: Manager Harry Craft and right fielder Roman Mejias; April 19, 1962; by Ken Burkhardt; for arguing a call at second base.

Atlanta Braves: Third baseman Eddie Mathews; May 5, 1966; by Ed Sudol; for arguing a called third strike.

Oakland A’s: Manager Bob Kennedy; May 26, 1968; by Ed Runge; for disputing a call at home plate; pitchers Lew Krausse and Blue Moon Odom also ejected later in the same inning following a bench-clearing brawl; team’s only ejections of year.

Seattle Pilots: Second baseman Tommy Harper; April 22, 1969; by Russ Goetz; for fighting with Kansas City’s Ellie Rodriguez.

Kansas City Royals: Manager Joe Gordon; April 9, 1969; by Marty Springstead; for arguing a call at first base; second game in team’s history.

San Diego Padres: Third baseman Roberto Pena; Aug. 13, 1969; by Chris Pelekoudas; for arguing a caught-stealing call; team’s only ejection of year.

Montreal Expos: Manager Gene Mauch; April 22, 1969; by Pelekoudas; for arguing an interference call.

Milwaukee Brewers: Coach Cal Ermer; April 26, 1970; by Bob Stewart; for arguing a called third strike.

Texas Rangers: Mincher again; May 29, 1972; by Jim Odom; for arguing a called third strike; team’s only ejection of year.

Seattle Mariners: Center fielder Ruppert Jones; April 28, 1977; by Neudecker; for disputing a checked-swing strike call.

Toronto Blue Jays: Manager Roy Hartsfield and coach Bob Miller; June 4, 1977; by Rich Garcia; for arguing a checked-swing call.

Florida Marlins: Batting coach Doug Rader; May 5, 1993; by Steve Rippley; for arguing balls and strikes.

Colorado Rockies: Third baseman Charlie Hayes; May 10, 1993; by Bob Davidson; for arguing a call at third base.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays: Manager Larry Rothschild; April 26, 1998; by Marty Foster; for arguing a call at second base.

Arizona Diamondbacks: Center fielder Devon White; April 3, 1998; by Angel Hernandez; argued a called third strike; leadoff batter of fourth game in team history.

Washington Nationals: Manager Frank Robinson; April 30, 2005; by Tom Hallion; regarding the condition of a rain-soaked field.

The summer game.

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With the exception of a few Bach toccatas played by Glenn Gould, I haven’t barely listened to music at all for the past two weeks or so.

(I continue to download Grateful Dead shows as if they were gonna be illegal, but I haven’t listened to any of them yet. I conclude that a library of Dead shows soothes my proto-Asperger’s personality, the same way a library of baseball cards used to soothe it when I was a kid.)

I haven’t turned my ears off; I’ve just found something a little different to feed them.

I discovered the Old Time Radio Researchers’ Group Library a few weeks ago. It’s a library of old radio programs, available for listening and download.

I’m sure there are treasures scattered throughout the collection … but what hooked me is in the “B” part of the library.

Under the heading “Baseball Game Broadcasts, The” are two or three dozen old radio broadcasts of baseball games spanning 1934 to 1966. Most are World Series games or All-Star games, while some are just average regular-season contests.

I don’t know of any other site like this. Most historical sports broadcasts you find online are being offered for sale, usually at a healthy price.

But these, you can enjoy for free … and I have thrown myself into the library with a vengeance. I’ve shelved music entirely during my commutes, in favor of old baseball broadcasts I’ve burned to CD.

(I’ve stubbornly refused to look up the results of the games, preferring to let them unfold as they did in real life.)

The first game I listened to was a Phillies-Mets matchup from Sept. 4, 1966 — a rainy Camera Day at Shea Stadium.

I didn’t live-blog it (though I might yet do that for another game, if I get the time.)

I can’t resist sharing a couple of observations, though:

- It’s charming to hear Lindsey Nelson rattle off a list of bricks-and-mortar places where Mets fans could buy tickets, including Grand Central Station; Macy’s in Huntington, Long Island, at the Walt Whitman Shopping Center; and any Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co. bank office.

I’m too lazy to check, but I wonder if the Mets still go to that length in the age of the Internet. I’m guessing probably not.

- The Mets’ long-running broadcast trio of Nelson, Ralph Kiner and Bob Murphy is on the job, but we only hear one at a time. Presumably two of them were doing the TV call while the third handled radio.

- We hear very little color about the players.

Maybe I’ve been spoiled by today’s commentators, who seem to throw in all kinds of details — especially ones that support whatever narratives they’ve decided to load down the ballgame with.

But Nelson, Kiner and Murphy don’t really tell you much about the ballplayers, who are left in the listener’s mind as one-dimensional shadows wearing Mets uniforms.

They don’t mention that Bill Hepler and Billy Murphy were Rule 5 draft pickups from the Senators and Yankees … or that Hawk Taylor’s real full name was Robert Dale Taylor … or that Bob Friend, at various times, had led the National League in wins, losses, games started and innings pitched.

Maybe they were saving the details for the TV call.

Or, maybe by that point in the year, they figured Mets listeners already knew the team, and didn’t need to be told again that Jerry Grote was a hothead and Tug McGraw a prankster and Cleon Jones a native of Mobile, Alabama.

- One thing Murphy, Nelson and Kiner do well is to keep the audience up to date on out-of-town scores, especially those involving pennant races. It captures the bustle of the baseball world, even though it subtly reminds Mets fans that their team is nowhere near contention.

- I’m incapable of seeing, reading or hearing a nostalgic beer ad without trying to taste the beer in my mind.

This broadcast is brought to us by New York’s long-gone Rheingold Dry. I wonder if what Rheingold called “dry” was the same thing as the “dry beer” that was briefly the rage 15 years ago?

- It seems like every new Met who comes to the plate or is substituted into the ballgame is greeted by boos. Either the fans were sick of futility, or a handful of grumblebunnies were seated near the broadcast booth.

- This particular broadcast was taped off WGY-AM in Schenectady, N.Y., and local programming occasionally intrudes.

At one point, a local voice briefly cuts into the broadcast to announce that the phone lines are down to a local fire company, and that listeners will need to call elsewhere to report emergencies. (There is no subsequent notice that the problem was fixed.)

At another point, WGY spends a 30-second break extolling the size and reach of its news department. It sounds like bragging, until you realize how much smaller that news department probably is now — if it even still exists at all.

- The Phils’ Chris Short pitches a 10-hit shutout — something we would almost certainly not see today, now that managers have deeper bullpens and quicker hooks than they did in 1966.

I could go on but that’s more than enough. Since this game ended, I’ve moved on to Braves-Dodgers 1950 and Indians-Senators 1939, which might also get commented on in this space at some point.

Or maybe I’ll get back to music someday.


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Just back from four exciting days in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

A close family member was married off, the kids saw the Rock, and we all went into Boston.

Sadly, it was not a fully successful trip for me: There’s a holy grail in New England I couldn’t quite get my hands on.

Those of you who know New England know the storied past of Narragansett Beer. Brewed in Rhode Island, it was the dominant beer of southern New England between the end of Prohibition and the early ’80s or so.

The company sponsored Boston Braves and Red Sox broadcasts for many years, making its name and slogan (“Hi, neighbor, have a ‘Gansett!”) familiar to millions.

The beer is also visible in the movie “Jaws,” in a scene where Robert Shaw’s crusty Captain Quint crushes an empty can of ‘Gansett in his fist.

In the ’80s, the brand changed hands, the old brewery closed, sales declined and the beer disappeared. Then, maybe 10 years ago, new owners relaunched the brand.

Unlike other historic beers that have changed hands — Ballantine Ale comes to mind — the new ‘Gansett might actually be better than its predecessor. I’ve never seen a kind word said about the old ‘Gansett, but I’ve heard the new version is pretty good for what it is.

(The new ‘Gansett, strictly speaking, is not New England-authentic; it’s contract-brewed in Rochester, N.Y. But since that’s my hometown, I’m OK with it.)

Anyway: In some sort of cross-promotion with “Jaws,” the brewery recently announced that it’s bringing back its distinctive 1975-style yellow, orange and red cans this summer.

They could not have devised a better promotion to draw me in. I’m a sucker for southern New England, for nostalgia, for history as lived by the average Joe, and for beer.

“Jaws” also happens to be one of my favorite movies.

So, as the kids on the Internet say: WANT.

I eagerly looked forward to some beer-hunting as part of this trip. But visits to five beer-and-liquor stores in the Plymouth area failed to turn up the old-school cans.

I think one of the stores might have had a 30-pack. It was hard to be sure from trying to peek inside the sealed package. At any rate, 30 cans were more than I wanted — especially considering the stuff was gonna spend six hours in a warm car on the way back to Pennsylvania.

All the ‘Gansett lager I could find was canned and bottled in the current packaging. While I wanted to try it, I was too stuck on getting it in the ’75 cans to want it any other way.

(On a secondary level, I was also disappointed not to find any of Narragansett’s porter, which is supposed to be good. I see now it is apparently a winter seasonal. Gonna have to go back when the snow flies, I guess.)

All is not lost for the beer hunter. I am going back to New England next month, and will renew my search then.

I’ll be in western Connecticut — the very edge of New England, and an area more aligned with New York City than Boston. So I’m not sure what the odds are that I will find my great white.

But I will take up the search with single-minded devotion. Quint would expect no less.

And until then, I will fill my glass with something else when I talk of home:

Thong rind not shown.

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This commercial is going to haunt me while I sleep, I think.

What makes it so weird? Maybe it’s:

- The way star-of-stage-and-screen Andy Devine’s face seems to solidify from the ether, as though the viewer were awaking from anesthesia to find his gap-toothed eminence standing over the bed.

- The way Devine’s voice decays at the end of the phrase “ … like Big Ralph, the Sunkist dinosaur.

It’s reminiscent of Dana Carvey’s dissolute, amoral Jimmy Stewart voice on Saturday Night Live.

- The phrase “Now you can get a Little Ralph for one dollar.”

(Last time I got a Little Ralph for one dollar, I was in a rathole taqueria in Michoacan. On the bright side, I wrestled at 140 for two whole months afterward.)

- The addition of “…and a piece of orange peel that says ‘Sunkist’ on it!” to the list of things required to procure a Little Ralph.

Did the kids of America really mail in chunks of tattooed citral dermis in exchange for a puppet? The Post Office loved that, I’m sure.

Also, even though I know I’m watching a Sunkist promotion, it seems strange to mentally put that extra item in the envelope. Naturally it sets my imagination off and running.

I imagine a beaming Devine enthusing: “Now you can get a Little Ralph for a dollar, a piece of orange peel that says ‘Sunkist’ on it, an expired municipal bus pass, two Canadian nickels, a kick up the arse and a bowl full of plasma.”

- The way Devine trips on the phrase “order blank.”

(He sort of crinkles up around the eyes afterwards, as if to say, “Yeah … there’s gonna be another take, right? Right?”)

- The unnecessary line of professional narration at the end. What, Andy couldn’t’a done that?


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