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Monthly Archives: July 2017

Larks’ tongues.

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I was just thinking about King Crimson the other day … they’re the sort of band where every so often, I nod my head to myself and think, “Y’know, I don’t put them on much any more, but their better stuff still holds up. I should get back to them sometime.”

Well, in about four months, I’ll be seeing them live.

The music writer at the local paper, who’s pretty dreadful at everything except announcing upcoming shows, happened to mention on Twitter that King Crimson was coming to Miller Symphony Hall in downtown Allentown.

I happened to see his tweet. And about five minutes after that, I happened to have purchased a ticket.

(It’s in the back row of the balcony. But Miller Symphony Hall is a pretty intimate place — it’s where I saw Robert Hunter a couple of years ago. And, the current edition of Crimson has no fewer than four drummer/percussionists. So I’m pretty confident the noise will reach me.)

The band’s current lineup has been together since 2014 and has put out a couple of albums, all of which I am totally unfamiliar with.

I’m still up for the show, though. I don’t imagine King Crimson, of all bands, has sold out; I’m confident the newer stuff is as angular and weird and delightful as the best of the old (see below).

And Robert Fripp has brought me a whole bunch of pleasure over the years. He richly deserves to have a couple more of my nickels in his pocket.

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Unity and pathways unknown.

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Time for me to tell you again what new-to-me stuff I’ve been putting in my ears lately.

(The old-to-me stuff getting spun lately includes Jandek, the Jerry Garcia Band and John Coltrane — a playlist brought to you by the letter J. On a whim, I also put on my Gerald-Ford-plus-theremin Bandcamp album. I’m pleased to report it is only getting better with age.)

For the new discoveries, I’ll start with the lesser pleasures and build to a big finale:

Larry Young, Unity: My biggest prior exposure to the artist came via the Tony Williams Lifetime’s Emergency!, on which Young’s overdriven Hammond organ slops, sweats, sizzles and smokes.

So I was a little underwhelmed by Unity at first. It was straight, mannerly bop (or post-bop, or something — I’m not up on my jazz-critic labels), not nearly as messy or electric as the rock-fueled Emergency!

But I did a little reading, and revised my outlook, and have come back for a second listen, and found much to like. This one, I think, will grow on me.

Sun Ra and the Astro Infinity Arkestra, Pathways to Unknown Worlds/Friendly Love: This is terrific, and sounds in places like what would happen if you locked pandas in a high-school band room for 500 years. (You’d have to equip the room with a couple of Moogs, too, I guess.)

This re-release combines an album issued in 1975 with a series of previously unreleased recordings made two years before.

Bizarre, muddy, unpredictable free-jazz improvisation abounds throughout; sax and bass clarinet outbursts periodically die down so bandleader Ra can play weird interstellar keyboard interludes in the key of Pluto.

I have selected bass clarinetist Eloe Omoe as my favorite Arkestra member, since he upholds a long-running standard of weirdness on his instrument. From Bennie Maupin on Bitches Brew to the Mascara Snake on Trout Mask Replica, bass clarinetists always seem to sound like they’re in a different room from the rest of the band. Maybe I need to start playing bass clarinet. It might change my entire perspective.

The only drag about this reissue is the newly created album cover, which is dreadful and clip-arty and so poorly done that it misspells the album title (never seen that before.)

Inside the booklet, though, are two informative essays about the Arkestra’s members, the band’s activities around the time of recording, and the challenge of transferring Ra’s often amateurish recordings into the digital realm.

This stuff is three times as much as fun as Night In The Ruts, anyway. Be the first one on your block, etc.

And now the big kahuna:

Radio broadcasts of old baseball games.

I’ve long dreamed of a library that would hold broadcasts of average baseball games. Not the World Series — I know how those come out — but just some typical Tuesday night in 1966 in Atlanta, times 10,000. It would make my collection of Grateful Dead shows look like a 10-minute punk EP by comparison.

I don’t quite have that yet. But I do have the 306 vintage radio broadcasts collected here, and that’s a damned nice first step.

These kinds of old recordings have circulated for years, and usually, the people who collect them make money by selling copies.

But one brave user of the Internet Archive seems to have decided to liberate them all. (He — I’m betting it’s a he — also claims to have cleaned some of them up sonically, and maybe that’s so.)

Some of these are postseason and All-Star games, and thus not quite what I had in mind — though I’m planning to listen to some of those anyway, because I’ve never actually heard the play-by-play even though I know the final score.

Lots and lots of others are the average ordinary games I’ve been longing for. And I plan to dive into them and roll around in them and smother myself with them. Not sure exactly how I can do that and still fulfill my obligations to society, but I’m working on figuring it out.

Vin Scully is here. So are Red Barber, Phil Rizzuto, the Seattle Pilots, the Philadelphia A’s, and more old-timey, gusto-choked beer commercials than I can shake a fungo bat at. (The oldest games posted here are old enough that Babe Ruth could be in them, though I haven’t listened to find out if he is.)

The dude who posted these games appears to have done so on the understanding that MLB radio broadcasts from 1973 and earlier are in the public domain.

I have no idea whether there’s any truth to that … so if this collection interests you the way it interests me, don’t sleep on it.

Indeed, I may stop sleeping altogether.

Pictures of kids playing baseball.

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Just got back from the Finger Lakes. I was going to visit a ballpark with some interesting history, and then do the usual pix-and-lines writeup that I do when I go to a new (to me) ballpark.

But then my plans shifted and I ended up going to a much less interesting place — from a historical standpoint, and from a photographic standpoint as well.

Still, you gets the writeup and the pictures anyway, because that’s how I do.

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This is Maple City Park in Hornell, New York, a city-owned and -run park that’s home to the Hornell Dodgers of the New York Collegiate Baseball League. (This is a summer league for college-age players, financially supported by Major League Baseball.)

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The small (pop. 8,563) city of Hornell hosted affiliated minor-league ballclubs from 1942 to 1957. The best-known and best-remembered of them were part of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ massive minor-league network, though the city also hosted teams linked to the Reds, Red Sox and Pirates.

Tommy Davis, a sure-shot member of baseball’s Hall of Very Good, spent a season in Hornell in 1956. Charlie Neal and Don Zimmer — who both won World Series titles with the Dodgers, only to wash up with the ’62 Mets — played there in 1950.

Dick Tracewski, a two-time Series winner as a player and later one of Sparky Anderson’s trusted coaches, passed through in ’54.

And Frank Oceak played his last minor-league ball in Hornell in 1943. He never made the bigs as a player, but you might remember him as the Pirates third-base coach congratulating Bill Mazeroski after his Series-winning home run in 1960.

Those players and their teams also played at a ballpark called Maple City Park. But it ain’t the same one; that one was torn down in the early 1960s to make way for a new high school.

The school isn’t far from today’s Maple City Park — just up Seneca Street — but it seems likely that today’s park isn’t on the same site as the old one. Which kinda cuts down on the historical interest, compared to cities like Elmira and Geneva, which still have their old ballparks in play on their original sites.

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City-owned + next door to a school = no beer with your baseball.

To add insult to injury, the one set of fixed stands at Maple City Park is (a) set back from the field some, and (b) is fronted by a screen that completely covers the view. I understand why it’s there, but I don’t like watching baseball from behind a screen — especially at a little local field — so that cost the park a couple of points.

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That said, you can always bring your own chair and sit in foul territory, as a fair number of people do …

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… or if you’re too cheap to pay the $4 adult fee to get in, you can always pitch a seat right outside the chain-link fence and watch for free.

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While it’s not my favorite park in the world — or even in the Southern Tier — Maple City Park has a few things going for it.

If you don’t bother anybody, you can watch the game from small unscreened areas next to each dugout, which brings you a little closer to the action.

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The field is also surrounded by a residential neighborhood, a factor shared by some of my favorite college ballparks. There’s something great about seeing houses all around the field, especially when the houses are modest (though well-kept). Beats being at a ballpark that’s surrounded by acres of parking lots.

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I left in the fourth inning with the Wellsville Nitros ahead of the Dodgers 5-2. I didn’t much care who won, and I had to run a 5K early the next morning.

I probably won’t be back … but I’ll end with a couple more pictures, anyway.

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I wonder what the Los Angeles Dodgers think of the Hornell Dodgers. The Hornell team doesn’t use the familiar “Dodgers” script on its uniforms or website; this is as close as I remember coming to it at Maple City Park.

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Pregame stretch for the starting pitcher.

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A random passer-by offered to sell me this scoreboard; apparently it’s been down for two years and they still don’t know what to do with it.

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Bless the guys who umpire these games. I wonder what they get paid; I don’t imagine it’s much.

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Painting the batter’s box. It’s common for players at this level to do the groundskeeping as well.

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I’ve never been the Duke of Action Shots but this one tells the story: An errant throw pulls the first baseman off the bag while the runner scores from third.

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The two guys in the background at right played hoop for pretty much the whole time I was there.

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Well-used mounds in the bullpen. I believe the building in the background is the junior high (not the senior high that was built on the site of the old Maple City Park). Didn’t know they still put decorative windows like those into schools.

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3 BR, 1 1/2 baths, cozy charmer, walk to park.