Saturday, November 10, 2012

Megadeth @ Lupo's, Jere's Awesome Fun-Time Review

Wow, it's 2012, and I'd never seen Megadeth until tonight. Kim and I had great seats, second row center in the balcony at Lupo's here in Providence for the first night of the Countdown to Extinction 20th Anniversary Tour.

I liked Megadeth back in the Rust in Peace era, circa '90, right before "grunge" "broke," when I was 14 and wished my hair looked as cool as Justin Kopaz's, who was in my Latin class even though I was a freshman and he was a senior. I basically wanted to be a stoner without getting stoned. I was developing a mullet, but we didn't call them mullets then, we just called it BEING COOL.

So I'd watch the videos for Hangar 18 and Holy Wars on Headbanger's Ball during the commercials of SNL which it was my duty to tape (VHS, not Beta) for the rest of the family to watch the next day. Sometimes Bruce Dickinson would "pre-empt" Dana Carvey for a few seconds, to mom and dad's dismay.

I even almost got this Megadeth straw-type hat from Spencer Gifts at the mall. Never did pull the trigger, though--Nirvana would end up being my first "rock clothing" the following year when I got the Sliver tee.

When Countdown to Extinction was about to come out in '92, I "warned" my new pal Trevor to prepare for a whole new world. Meaning other people in our high school besides the stoners will have heard of them. After Metallica had gone full mainstream the year before, I knew Megadeth was about to follow suit. It was a pretty good album--and here was Dave Mustaine, the singer, wearing flannel. Funny, I wanted to have some kind of heavy metal identity, but couldn't pull it off, only to become roped into "grunge" later, while the same metal guys who I originally wanted to be like were forced to cull a grungier look or fall off the face of the earth. Anyway, the album was clearly made for a wider audience, but it had a few solid tracks. And I still laugh my head off every time I hear Sweating Bullets, though I'm not sure I'm supposed to.

So tonight, Dave, Dave, and two newer dudes came out and played the whole album, as is the tradition in live concerts these days. (I'm not a fan in general--a live show is supposed to be different from the album.) But first, to my delight, they played a few of the classic songs from the "straw hat days," as I'll go ahead and call them. Hangar 18 is my all-time favorite, and I've now crossed it off my Megadeth fuck-it list.

Then they kind of crawled through the Countdown album, stopping after several songs to regroup backstage. At one point Dave was just staring at someone in the crowd and wouldn't play. We in the balcony couldn't tell what was going on down there. But between that and the rest stops between songs, there was a lot of inaction. Dave said something about how he just came from backstage where he was checking off all the things that could possibly go wrong. They must have been having technical issues but we couldn't tell the difference. Megadeth, as far as I know, pretty much lets the music do the talking, with not much "hello Cleveland!" or laser light bullshit. They played well when they were playing, and we got to hear the songs we wanted, so everybody was happy. They did have video screens, and there was a brief appearance from their "mascot," Vic, too. He took a stroll around the stage doing the "cut the scene short" motion at the crowd. The malaise in Vic's gait screamed "can you believe these songs are 20 years old?" (Trevor called my cat Truffles "Vic" back in '92, as he had some operation where he ended up with tubes sticking out of his head and looked like some sort of robotic cat-borg.)

After the album was through, they added a couple more classic tracks, Holy Wars and Peace Sells, better known as the three-second bassline between "MTV News, You Hear It..." and "...First." Dave gave a heartfelt thanks and they even did the arm-in-arm Broadway bow, and that was it. The other Dave, aka Junior, seemed to have an embarrassed look, as if to say, "I was against the bowing idea," but then I figured the guy's got leather pants on, how embarrassed could he be? I will say that Junior seemed to care about us in the balcony more than any other band member. And you gotta hand it to Mustaine for coming back from major health issues again and again (at one point he didn't have the use of his left hand) to play these speedy songs.

The crowd: Kim and I were the same age as everyone else. I guess today's metal kids--and they seem to have made a comeback in society--don't give a crap about their founding fathers. This crowd was the people who bought the album as teenagers in '92, and nobody else.

And one bonus thing I learned: In two songs, Hangar 18 and Symphony of Destruction, there's a triple-beat type thing. In other words, the "ba ba ba/oh oh oh" part of Sweet Caroline. And as with that song, fans of the band have injected their own part into the tune, chanting, "Me-ga-deth" over the three beats.

So that's the story of Megadeth and Trevor and Truffles and Justin Kopaz, and an album that I can't believe turned 20.

Picture courtesy of Kim and her iPhone.

PS: I left out the mandatory "Dave Mustaine's political/religious views" stuff. That's a whole other post. But I know allll about it. I even read the autobiography and watched an hour-long interview he did with a batshit....okay, see, there I go, I'll have to stop now.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Mail Day

So it's explained--we 10-game and 20-game people get a discounted rate, IF we pay by 12/14.

Maybe George Was Right

"Bowling's insane! Bowling is crazy time!"

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

That Ticket Plan I'm Constantly Blabbing About

It took me until about Year 8 of my 10-game plan to actually write the ticket office to ask what games I'm getting, instead of complaining that I don't know what they are as of December when I'm buying other tickets. So this year, the 10th year, I've already written them at this early stage, and I know my games. Which I've been splitting with my mom lately so she can take each of my nieces and nephews and her new man-friend aka my new step-dad to some games.

This year there are no repeat teams, except for the Yanks, but that's always been part of the deal, two Yankee games. They also gave two Interleague instead of one. The day breakdown is 5 Sat., 4 Wed., 1 Mon. The month breakdown is 2 Apr., 1 May, June, and July, 2 Aug., and 3 Sep. So we're looking at more weekends than usual, more IL, and more summer. Is this more of the Sox trying to please us at all costs, or random? Either way, all this could be yours if you get on line now for the 10-game plan. But you might be waiting a while. To Ernie Whitt: I got in right when they started, before the '04 season, and my plan started that year. My buddy Tom, formerly "savethejellyfish," got his name on the waiting list before, I think, the '05 season, but didn't get a plan until 2011.

That reminds me: I got onto the Cubs season ticket waiting list just to see how many years it takes to get to the front of the line. That was February. Checking now, I see I'm still over 100,000 spots away and have not budged. I'll keep you updated over the next few years.

Bonus: I love when this happens, but I think it's the first time I've captured one on my own. (I've included Bebo on top of the TV in the shot.)

While I'm at it, I caught this typo from the movie Cape Fear. Terrible job, Cape Fear. See if you can find what I mean. (Again, Bebo presides.)

And for those (probably everyone) who didn't get my "Mit Iodine!" Romney joke, click here.

Apparently, The 1st Snow Of The Year Is Right Now


Of course I was rooting for Obama and against "Mitt Iodine" last night. But knowing Barry didn't need my vote in this solidly blue state, I was able to give my vote to the socialist candidate. With 95% of precincts reporting in Rhode Island, she's up to 121 votes! Last place. So me and 120 others picked the true underdog. Hopefully we all will have made some strides toward having a legitimate third (fourth, fifth, etc.) party by 2016.

And even though we know the same cigar-smoking big-boned feline is holding both puppets for the most part, it was still sweet to see the left hand win. The end of Barack's speech was great, as he basically said we're all equal, but specifically mentioned "gay or straight." And just knowing the president is and has been a black guy gives me similar goosebumps to the ones I get knowing that I have seen the Red Sox win the World Series and win it again. On my street, as a honky I'm in the extreme majority. If it means that much to me that our country actually elected a non-white dude to the highest office, imagine how much it means to all of my neighbors. I think it's really important. The loudest faction of our society these days seems to be the people who are completely offended being under the rule of a black man. I love that the rest of the country decided to drift away from those people. I feel like even your average racist sees them and goes, "yeah, this guy's black, but you people are crazy, so I'm actually gonna vote for him."

We also had key wins in my home state of Connecticut, where the wrestling lady got her ass kicked (my mom was there at Murphy's victory speech!), and in my girlfriend's home state of Massa...s, where Elizabeth Warren took out the pickup truck man, whose campaign seemed to be "I'm a fan of your sports teams, too!" I mean he literally had commercials that only said that and didn't bring up politics.

And Maine and Maryland became the first states ever to approve gay marriage by popular vote. Another sign the USA is slowwwwly moving out of the past and coming to grips with reality.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Another Victory For The Little Person

The latest way the Red Sox are trying to make us happy: 10-game plan holders are now paying the discounted season ticket holder price! I got my e-voice today, and my ten $28 tickets cost $260 instead of $280 per seat. I remember we got this the first year the plan existed (2004--when I got the tickets for $18 each instead of $20), but we've had to pay full price ever since. It's only a $40 savings for the two seats, but the point is, the team seems to have made a change to always give us the STH benefits, instead of giving them to us sometimes. (Of course, they could be giving the real season ticket holders all kinds of free buffets and massages at their houses and I wouldn't know, but I'll just be happy with whatever extra stuff they give me.)

I Must Be Half Sane

Inspired by PopSpots--which I wrote about here--I figured I'd try my e-hand at figuring out an album cover photo location. PopSpots had already done two Ramones records, so I looked through some more to find a shot of them in NYC, and I found one: 1987's Halfway to Sanity. (Which I bought a cassette of for cheap in 1993, before proceeding to play the hell out of "I'm Not Jesus" in my dorm room.) Here's the cover:

The first thing I did (after unsuccessfully asking my long-time pal and supposed Chinese speaker Chan what the writing above the door said) was get some info about the photo. I found an alternate photo from the shoot in the book "I Speak Music," along with a great story about it all, one page before that. The story, by photographer George Dubose, mentions "a certain address on Mott Street in Chinatown."

Before I go any further, I'll show you my conclusion. Below at left is the alternate photo from the cover shoot (copyright George Dubose), and at right are the doorways as they appear today (copyright Google Maps), at 16/18 Mott St., New York City:

Now back to the search. I knew the pic was taken on Mott Street or somewhere near it within Chinatown. (They could have initially met on Mott and then walked to the first and what turned out to be only location.) Thanks to the alternate photo I was able to read the doctor's name on the red sign. I looked him up and saw he recently had a practice at 230 Grand St., but I didn't find the doorways there.

So I started going all around Chinatown on Street Views, looking for two adjacent doorways. It seemed to me like this was the line between two buildings, just to the right of the red signs. So I kept looking for that set-up: metal doorway at right edge of one building next to doorway at left edge of adjacent building. There were other little things, like the way the left building required a step up at ground level and was very slightly in front of the right building, and the wide "bricks" of the building on the right, which of course might not look like that now. But I figured that metal doorway has to look the same, if maybe painted, provided the building is still standing 25 years later.

After going up and down Mott St. and several others, often with doorways obscured by trucks, I had nothing. A lot of the doorways had a certain ornate pattern, but I couldn't find this specific metallic one with the grooves starting at a certain height.

The next day, I took another look at the map. I realized there was a little piece of Mott St., the southern end, that I might not have checked. So I went to the corner of Mott and Pell, and started going south on Mott. Even though the brick pattern is totally different now, the first thing I noticed about Hop Lee restaurant at 18 Mott was the wide bricks. As I focused in on that, it hit me that I was staring right at my metal door frame!

(Joey Ramone at left, today's spot at right.)

I knew from my extensive tour of Chinatown that this type of frame appears nowhere else, and that this had to me the spot. Still, I kept inspecting the spot and things matched up...and then, duh, look what's still there, right over the door!

These are four of the five characters, from the Ramones pic on top, and from Street Views at bottom. (The second character on the map has a slice through it where two images are merged together.) If anyone can read Chinese, please don't even tell me if this actually says "16 Mott Street," as that would mean I went through a lot of unnecessary trouble. Okay, really fun trouble, actually.

So the sign proves it beyond a doubt, even if the sidewalk at the left edge of the pic now seems to go slightly uphill, unlike in '87. The story of the shoot also mentions a restaurant, which was either Hop Lee or one of its predecessors. And without that alternate photo, I may never have found it, since the unique metal grooved doorway is obscured in the album shot. Not knowing if the sign over the door was still there or not, I had to use something else to search by. And even if I did know, it wouldn't have been easy comparing Chinese characters with ones over every door in Chinatown.

Below is the pic of the "Halfway to Sanity spot" from Street Views by itself. You can "walk around" and get a better view of that one guy's skateboard. He has no idea he's standing on a famous piece of real estate. Well, famous now.

View Larger Map

Know what's weird? When I looked down Mott Street in that one spot, it looked very familiar. The way the road curves left, odd for Manhattan--I know I've been in that spot. I remembered that Chan and I hung out in Chinatown when I lived in NYC one time, so I searched my own blog for "Chinatown." And sure enough, I did a post about that day in September 2005. We had gone down there looking for an ice cream shop. That post is great, it's got Yankee/Jeter/Kay-bashing, and a nice Orioles logo. Jesus, Cano's been around longer than I thought! Anyway, I love how this blog acts as a diary as well as a...whatever it's supposed to be. It's changed a lot, yet it hasn't changed at all.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

The Chomeback Children

My other team in life, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, are/is putting together a pretty amaza-crazy season. After last year's all-time school-record comeback win against Ohio State, we've had three crazy comeback wins this season. It had been something like 4 out of 850 all-time wins that involved double-digit fourth-quarter comebacks, and now we've done it twice in our last two road games.

Last night it didn't seem possible. With 10 minutes left, we were down 10, and Taylor Martinez throws an interception that's returned 96 yards for a TD. Game over, correct? At that moment I had to leave to go to a movie, and as I was DVRing the rest of the game, I saw that we were at least spared a 17-point deficit as a penalty brought the return back. But still, other team has ball, up 10, 10 minutes left. Not looking good. So I got home and put the game on, thinking, What are the odds we could have another amazing comeback? You don't get too many of those. (Especially when your team is specifically known as one who historically can't win once they fall too far behind.) But it happened.

We got the ball back with 9 minutes left, went down and scored, got a three and out on D...but this time our drive stalled, again making it seem like the game was over, as Michigan State took over with 3 minutes left, up by 3. They even got another first down! But we still were able to get the ball back since we had 3 timeouts. We got it at our own 20 with 1:20 to play. And somehow we went 80 yards, scoring a TD with 6 seconds left when just an FG would have sent it to OT. We were aided by a pass interference call, but we were screwed on THREE other ones when we were called for gently caressing their receivers with our collective left hand.

So we could be headed to Indy for the Big Ten championship if we can win our last three. I actually had tickets to that game last year, and when Nebraska didn't make it, I had to sell them--but the price dropped to single digits, so I didn't even bother. But I am left with three spiffy laminated tickets showing a non-existent trophy with Joe Paterno's name on it. Anyway, maybe I'll try again this year.

I also love how these comebacks have been on national TV, so everybody has seen these games, along with the fact that we travel well. It's just like the Red Sox--opposing stadiums see an influx of red. And since we're playing in these new places having just joined a new conference, it's even crazier. Have I mentioned how much I love being in the Big Ten? Two years ago, our main rival was a team that's two states away from the Pacific Ocean. Now, it's a team that's one state away from the Atlantic Ocean. A huge shift east, aka toward me. And with the Big Ten Network, any game that's not on ABC or ESPN is still on TV. I used to see a few games a year, now I see them all.

So there you go. I always think about talking about every game each fall on this blog, but I don't end up following through, so there was a bunch for you all in one breath.

Go Big proverbial Red.

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