"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Monthly Archives: May 2014

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Calling on the Cards

“Please, beat those Cardinals,” says the Pirates fan in this house, who has acquired an acute aversion to Red Bird over the last few years. When they eliminated Pittsburgh last fall… well. No fan escapes the game without scars, right?


The A-grade aces will be missing this series as they both twirled on Sunday. But I think we can expect a corker of a series. At the very least, it’s fun to take on a franchise and a fan base that doesn’t suffer from a crippling inferiority complex. I’d rather see this play out in October some time soon (can you believe it’s been 50 years since they met in the Serious?), but hard to beat Memorial Day afternoon.



Photo by Beth Crawford

Time Travel, Brian Cashman, and the Broad Shoulders of Masahiro Tanaka


I don’t think there was ever a time when the Yankees weren’t seriously pursuing Masahiro Tanaka, but no matter how much they wanted him, there’s no way they could have predicted how invaluable he would become.

Let’s imagine you had a time machine. Because you would be ethically opposed to using this machine to make millions in the stock market or to win every sports bet on the board, you’d instead choose to blow people’s minds. Armed with newspapers and magazines and photographs, you’d pop up in various places to give people glimpses of the future, just for fun. For example, you might show up in this photograph and have a conversation with Governor Wallace: “You see, Governor, in my time the President of the United States is Barack Obama.” Or you might check in with Billy Ray Cyrus in 1992, drop off a VHS copy of the 2013 VMAs, and suggest that he keep a close eye on his unborn daughter’s career path.

Or you could simply go back to November of last year and pop in on Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.

Cash: Who let you in here?
You: We don’t have time for that. You MUST sign Masahiro Tanaka.
Cash: Well, it’s not that simple. There’s the posting, the bidding war… And we DO have a budget…
You: You don’t understand. You MUST sign him. He’s our only hope.
Cash: Easy, Princess Leia. Our rotation is pretty solid. Tanaka would be a…
You: I know, I know “a third starter.”
Cash: Right! We expect big things from Nova, Pineda will be healthy, and CC’s our ace…
You: Wrong, wrong, and wrong again.
Cash: Excuse me?
You: Nova will start four times, then have Tommy John surgery on April 29th.
Cash: Well, Pineda will be great — he’ll make everyone forget about Jesus Montero.
You: You’re half right. Everyone will forget about Montero, but let’s stay on topic. Pineda will be great for three starts, then he’ll be suspended for pine tar…
Cash: Pine tar? But everyone uses pine — I mean, our pitchers don’t use illegal substances!
You: And then he’ll go on the DL for a month.
Cash: Well, at least we’ll have our ace, right?
You: Sabathia? He hasn’t been an ace for two or three years now.
Cash: But he’s lost so much weight — he’s in great shape…
You: That just means that instead of looking like Forrest Whitaker, now he pitches like him.
Cash: <silence>
You: And he’ll be on the DL by the middle of May with no estimated return.
Cash: <silence>
You: By Memorial Day your rotation will be Tanaka, Kuroda, Phelps, Nuño, and Whitley.
Cash: Whitley? Who the hell is Whitley?
You: Exactly.
Cash: Dear God.
You: Exactly.
Cash: But what do I do? How do I stop this?
You: Sign Tanaka. Give him whatever he wants. He’s your only hope.

And then you’ll invite Cashman to watch a DVD of Sunday afternoon’s game against the White Sox as your final argument. It’s the only evidence you’ve brought with you, so hopefully it will be enough to convince Cashman to do what he has to do. You crack open a couple beverages, slide the DVD into the machine, and guide Cashman through the game.

After Brett Gardner grounds out for the game’s first out, Derek Jeter comes to the plate and rifles a clean single to right center.

Cash: Look at this guy. He looks the same as he did two years ago. Guess I’m gonna be back at the table negotiating with him in November.
You: Actually he’s going to announce his retirement when Spring Training opens up. This is his last season.
Cash: Are you shitting me?? That’s great! Wait — you’re not a reporter are you? Are you gonna print that?

In the top of the second Yangervis Solarte singles to right to start a Yankee rally.

Cash: I was starting to believe you, but you’re telling me that this guy is our starting third baseman? And he’s hitting over .300? He has 25 RBIs? I call bullshit.
You: I know, I can’t believe it either, but keep watching.

Two batters later Ichiro singles up the middle, then Brian Roberts walks to load the bases for Gardner, who promptly singles in two runs. Jeter is up next, and he singles to right field again to make it 3-0 Yankees.

Cash: You’re sure he’s retiring? Brendan Ryan can be our shortstop now?

After Jacoby Ellsbury scores Gardner on a sacrifice fly, the Yankees have a 4-0 lead.

You: We’re gonna skip ahead to the top of the 4th. It’s still 4-0, but I want you to watch Jeter’s at bat here. Watch how he falls into an 0-2 hole, then takes a ball before fouling off three pitches. Okay, now watch this…

Jeter catches a pitch on the inside part of the plate, but somehow he does what he always does — he pulls his hands in and still manages to get inside the ball and drive it deep to right center field. Center fielder Adam Eaton races into the gap, but his dive is far short, and the ball bounds to the fence. Jeter coasts into third base with his first triple since 2011.

You: Did you see that? He actually broke it down a step before second base. He’s so cool he Cadillacked a triple.
Cash: So Brendan Ryan can really be our shortstop next year?
You: Focus, man. He’s gonna come home on a wild pitch in a minute to make it 5-0, but let’s take a quick look at your boy Tanaka.

In the bottom of the fourth Tanaka strikes out Gordon Beckham, gives up his first hit of the game when Conor Gillaspie singles to left, but rebounds to get Dayan Viciedo to foul out and Adam Dunn to ground out. In the fifth he gets Paul Konerko to ground into a double play and ends the frame by striking out Alejandro De Aza.

Cash: You’re right — he looks really good.
You: But here’s what you’re not getting — even though he’s gonna go 6.2 innings and allow just one run on five hits and two walks with six strikeouts, you’re not seeing him at his best. This is just average Tanaka, and it’s still better than anyone else on the staff. Do you understand what I’m saying?
Cash: But the payroll…
Cash: Look, after we resign Canó, we’re going to be really limited…
You: We’ll talk about Canó later. Right now, let’s get back to the top of the sixth.

Alfonso Soriano doubles over Eaton’s head in centerfield, but he’s still standing on second with two outs when Jeter comes to the plate again.

Cash: Don’t tell me.
You: I’ll let you find out for yourself.

On a 3-1 count Jeter pounds a ball through the center of the diamond to drive in Soriano and pick up his fourth hit of the game.

Cash: So you’re saying he’s retiring? Do you think maybe I’ll be able to convince him to come back for another year?
You: Maybe you can try to get Rivera back while you’re at it.
Cash: That’s not a bad idea…
You: And Torre?
Cash: Let’s not get crazy.

Tanaka finds himself in some trouble following the seventh-inning stretch. He walks Dunn and gives up a single to Alexei Ramírez, then Konerko ropes a line drive — that Jeter snares and turns into a double play when he catches Dunn straying off second.

You: See? He’s still got that Gold Glove form!
Cash: Let’s not get crazy.

Tanaka walks De Aza, and Joe Girardi pulls him in favor of Adam Warren, who quickly strikes out Tyler Flowers to end the inning. You eject the DVD.

Cash: What are you doing? What about the rest of the game?
You: It’s not important. Brian Roberts hits a solo homer, some guy named Matt Daley gets the final three outs, and the Yankees win, 7-1.
Cash: Still, it would’ve been nice to see. I love when they walk out on the field to shake hands, I love when John Sterling screams out, “Yankees win! Thuuuuuuuuuh…”
You: Look, Cash, stay with me. It isn’t about this game. It isn’t even about Derek Jeter, if you want to know the truth. (Okay, it’s a little bit about Derek Jeter.) But mainly it’s about Tanaka. If you don’t sign him, if you don’t do everything in your power to make sure he’s in pinstripes, this season will be a complete disaster. You need this guy. We need this guy. So much depends on Masahiro Tanaka!
Cash: Okay, okay, you convinced me. I’ll get him. And what were you saying about Canó?


[Photo Credits: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images & Sim McIsaac/Getty Images]


Starting Fresh

My daughter turned one last week. She has been on this planet for exactly one Masahiro Tanaka loss. Today’s not the day for another.

I would like to have a Tanaka card from Japan. I’ve been there a couple of times now, and I always grab a few packs of cards to bring home “for the kids” but I went back through them this morning and nope, no Tanaka. Here are a couple of cool-looking ones.

07 BBM 2nd Version Tanaka



The Chicago Way

A win that looks a sure loss is an effective tonic. Following a loss that looked a sure win, it’s a necessary one too. And that’s what the Yankees got thanks to a furious ninth inning rally and tenth inning game-winner from Jacoby Ellsbury – Yanks 4, White Sox 3.


Frankly this was shocking as the Yankees have looked like dead meat since coming to Chicago. Somehow, dead meat has emerged victors twice in five games and has a chance to play it even with a win Sunday and one pitcher who we actually expect  to deliver.

Sorry for the lack of threads and recaps these last few days, but we’ve ironed out the kinks and we’ll run light and smooth through the weekend and will be back to usual after the holiday.

Enjoy the win. Enjoy the Champions League Final (if you missed it live) and the NHL and NBA playoffs in hyperdrive.

Noesi? No problem.

Hector Noesi

The opposite of Chris Sale is Hector Noesi, so that means lots of hits, runs and a win for the Yankees tonight. Right?

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Mark Teixeira DH
Brian McCann C
Yangervis Solarte 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Brian Roberts 2B
Kelly Johnson 1B

RHP Hiroki Kuroda


Lineup via LoHud

Let’s go Yanks.

Nothing’s for Sale


After three innings last night, with Yankee bats and helmets flailing across the field, the likelihood of a Yankee hit seemed much less than the likelihood of a no-hitter. Chris Sale, whose pitching motion suggests a constantly encroaching wedgie, was the full filth.

Despite facing the most dominant left-hander in the American League, the Yankees had a few things going for them. Jose Abreu is on the DL. Sale, in his first game back from injury, was limited. And David Phelps pitched very well. Phelps kept them in the game long enough that a little late magic could have proven decisive, but thanks to an insurance run against human turnstile Alfredo Aceves, the Yankees’ two runs in the ninth came up short. 3-2 White Sox.

The Yankees pitching staff has been well-decimated thus far and it’s especially apparent when running into two aces back-to-back. Jeff Samardzjia and Chris Sale retired 39 of the 46 Yankees they faced making the third base coach especially lonely as nobody ever visited him.  That the Yankees won one of these games lessens the sting somewhat.

The good news is that David Phelps has been getting better and going deeper into his games. Last night’s performance was the best of the year for him and he’ll need to pitch like this more often than not as all signs point to him becoming a mainstay in the rotation this season.

Phelps got tagged with the tough-luck loss when the White Sox staged a two-out opposite-field rally in the second. The key hit was a run-scoring double by De Aza down the left field line. Almonte executed the outstreched hero’s dive to near perfection, but the left-handed-spin had the ball tailing away from his glove and cozying up to the foul line. There were but a few square inches where the ball could have landed fair and also missed his glove, and there it landed. And there was the game.

The Yankees were relieved any time they saw relief pitchers these last two games and responded with runs. I hope the same applies for these other, more obviously mortal pitchers in Chicago.




Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Slow day here at the Banter. But the Yanks remain in Chicago for the weekend. They begin a 4-game series against the White Sox this evening. Their prize? They get to face Chris Sale.

Either way, we’ll be root-root-rooting them on.

Never mind the deep dish:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Photo Credit: Chase Turner]

Stolen Kisses


When the subway arrived in midtown this evening the Yanks were down 2-0 in the 8th. I didn’t check the score until I got to the Bronx and was surprised and happy to see that they’d tied the score. The game went to extra innings. I was home, cooking, listening, as Preston Clairborne got a big double play ball against Anthony Rizzo in the bottom of the 12th.

Brendan Ryan led off the 13th against the former Yankee Jose Veras. I was sat on the couch and watched. That’s when it hit me–Brendan Ryan is one of my favorite Yankees in a long time. I don’t care that that is overall game is lacking. I love the fact that he’s expert at playing short stop and I dig watching him play. Makes him human that he doesn’t hit well. Let’s face it, he’s a scrub. But scrubs can be lovable and scrubs can be gamers.

I felt Ryan was about to do something good. And he did, ripped a one-hopper to third, too tough to field cleanly.  The ballpark was quiet, a lot of the fans already gone, which made the clear sound of the ball hitting the bat sound magnified. It was a sharp, definite sound.

Port Jervis walked and then Preston Clairborne laid down a fine bunt to advance the runners.


It was evening in Chicago now. Most of the infield was in the shade. A strip of light ran down the third baseline and across home plate. Looking at Wrigley Field at this time of day reminded me of being a teenager in the Eighties watching Cub games after school on WGN (which we got in New York). There was something so scrubby about those Cubs in a shaggy, appealing, budget, Chris Makepeace My Bodyguard kind of way. Jody fuggin’ Davis.


Now, my favorite scrub Brendan Ryan was on third and Jose Veras–a scrub’s scrub at this stage of his career–was on the mound. And since this is the Cubs and this is Wrigley Field, who do they think they are trying to sweep the Yankees? What does Veras do but uncork one behind JR Muphy’s head. Ryan scores the go-ahead run.


To add scrubbiness to scrubbery Murphy got jammed by Veras and hit a horseshit blooper to short right field. And since these are still the scrubby old Cubs it dropped in for a run-scoring base hit.

And you may ask yourself…

David Robertson pitched the 13th, got the save, and the Yanks leave Chicago with a split.

Final Score: Yanks 4, Cubs 2.

Taster’s Cherce



Quick in a Slow Way


So here’s an edit from Another Fine Mess for listeners who don’t vibe with rhyming and rapping but who dig comedy and old movies and hypnotic beats.

Feel the funk, baby.

Here’s the full mix:

All Good Things Come to an End


Well, that’s out of the way. Good.

Tanaka lost for the first time in forever on a rainy night in Chicago.

Final Score: Cubs 6, Yanks 1.

[Drawing by Larry Roibal]

Play Ball!


Odd that the first time Tanaka faces a team for the second time it’s the Cubs.

Go figure with this weirdo scheduling.

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Alfonso Soriano RF
Yangervis Solarte 3B
Brian Roberts 2B
Masahiro Tanaka RHP

Never mind the ivy:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Photo Credit: sox_monkey via It’s a Long Season]

Bring it Back, Come Rewind


Everything is a remix. 

New York Minute


Shorpy. Again and again.

Morning Art


The MET: digitized.

It Was All a Dream

We tried a bunch of songs for the finale and nothing worked. I couldn’t get it off my mind for days. It wouldn’t let me alone. I knew once I stopped pressing I’d find the right song and that’s just what happened when I came across “Sunrays” from Yesterday’s New Quintet’s ep, Elle’s Theme. Which is what we’ve got here.

My friend Steven used to manage a bistro on 22nd Street and 2nd Avenue. Thursday night was DJ night and I use to play a couple of times a month. “Sunrays” was always part of my rotation. Hearing it again I was struck by how ideal it is for being lacing with spoken word, especially for the last track on the mix which we wanted to have an dreamy intimacy.

So to the beat we added: Marilyn Monroe and  Tom Ewell: The Seven Year Itch; Henry Winkler: Happy Days (“Mork Returns”); Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda: The Lady Eve; Walter Matthau: from a documentary on Billy Wilder; Mae West and Cary Grant: I’m No Angel; Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall: To Have And Have Not; Lily Tomlin and Steve Martin: All Of Me; Notorious B.I.G.: “It Was All A Dream”, and Myrna Loy and William Powell from The Thin Man.

Here’s the first single.

And the full mix.

Million Dollar Movie


I saw this yesterday on Sandy Morse’s Facebook page. She edited Woody Allen’s movies for many years.

She remembers Gordon Willis:

It must have been 9 years ago, almost to the day, that Gordon Willis asked me to write something for a magazine in celebration of his 75th birthday. I am painfully shy, but I would do anything for Gordy. I can’t believe he’s gone:

“I first time I met Gordy, he was performing magic. It was the first time I set foot on a professional movie set and Gordy was shooting Diane Keaton’s spirit getting up out of bed and leaving her body behind while Alvy and Annie were beginning to make love. People are always surprised to hear that that effect was done in camera, as were all of the visual effects in “Annie Hall,” with the exception of two: the wipe revealing Alvy’s and Annie’s families at the dinner table, and the subtitles, revealing Alvy’s thoughts as he and Annie sip wine on her terrace.

What people find more shocking is that there were similarly only two shots in “Zelig” where a visual effects house was involved in the task of interpolating Woody into the archival footage. The rest of the film’s look was created through Gordy’s thorough knowledge of labs, lenses and lighting and his tireless commitment to the pursuit of perfection. “Zelig” epitomized the 99% perspiration of Gordy’s genius and, tangentially, gave me the kind of education in film that money can’t buy. “Aging” the film took us approximately nine months of duping and bi-packing dirt, grain, scratches and flicker to differing degrees depending on the alleged source of the footage. Everything was done with a purpose and a meticulous attention to detail. It seems appropriate and poignant that “Zelig” should have been the first film for which Gordon was nominated for an Academy Award. I can’t imagine anyone else at the time having undertaken such a monumental task. And still Gordy didn’t get the credit he deserved because he did his job too well, convincing his peers as well the audience at large that the footage had been shot 50 years earlier.

Over the course of his career, Gordy seemed always to know exactly what he was doing and the results were often breathtakingly beautiful. But I also remember a dailies screening on “A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy,” when Leopold (Jose Ferrer) was running through the woods at night, after having shot Maxwell (Tony Roberts) with a bow and arrow. This time Gordy had pushed the envelope a bit too hard and Leopold’s face was—let’s face it—black, against a forest of equally black silhouettes of trees. All of us in the screening room were squinting to try to see the shadow detail that just wasn’t there. Leopold ran across the frame one more time, saying, “Blood! I’ve drawn blood! Who am I?,” when suddenly, out of the darkness of the screening room, Gordy’s gravelly voice answered: “How the hell should I know? I can’t see a thing.” Michael Jordan misses shots. Tiger Woods misses putts. Gordon Willis misses exposures—occasionally. All three, however, will be remembered for the vast majority of the time they don’t.

Happy birthday, Gordy! I treasure the ten years we spent together. I never enter a screening room without thinking of you. And I never cut a film without thinking of relativity and repeatability and shoe leather and dump truck directors. Thanks for the memories….

Love, Sandy”

We Are Uncool


Here’s the first of 3 singles we’ll be posting this week from my new full-length mix, Another Fine Mess.

My partner Alan (a/k/a illchemist) and I spent five months crafting the project, lacing spoken word, comedy bits and movie dialogue over Hip Hop beats. It was natural to think of Phillip Seymour Hoffman when digging for choice movie dialogue. Even when he was alive, Hoffman was a guy worth searching on You Tube just to enjoy his robust, sometimes hammy acting. I thought there might be a good bit from his turn as Lester Bangs in Almost Famous. This scene with him on the phone shows Hoffman’s sweetness and vulnerability. The intimate, late night quality of his voice complemented the track nicely. (The beat, “Haagan-Daz” is from The Boulevard Connection’s EP and has long been a favorite.)

At the start of the track we used Del Close’s “The Do-It-Yourself Psychoanalysis Kit” which we ripped off from Prince Paul. 

We figured this was as good a time as any to slide in some Jeff Bridges as the Dude from The Big Lebowski. I worked as an assistant film editor on that movie and one of Ethan’s favorite lines while they were editing was the Dude moaning, “Awww, man.” (we also used to say, “Yeah, I gotta rash, man” all the time, too). So that’s why I used it here. And we finish the track with Robert DeNiro, Charles Grodin and Joe Pantoliano from Midnight Run with Albert Brooks saying “Hello?”–a bit taken from Albert’s record, A Star is Bought.

Who better to round it out than Chico and Groucho Marx from their second movie, Animal Crackers (1930). This is part of a longer sequence where Chico annoys the hell out of Groucho by playing “I’m Daffy Over You.” It’s one of the great smart ass musical comedy bits of them all. Always wanted to use it for a mix. Joining them is Catherine Scorcese from The King of Comedy.  The final bit comes from The Seven-Year Itch


And here’s the full mix:

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver