I posted a few days ago about the summer leagues in NYC and tonight a friend and I went to check out a Nike Pro City Game at Hunter College. To our pleasant surprise none other than Michael “The Beast” Beasley was playing. Also on the court were Smush Parker, Marko Jaric and former St. John’s phenom Omar Cook. The crowd was hyped and it was a great atmosphere for a summer league game. Not to mention admission is free.

I was excited to see what Beasley could do, just to see if he’s worth all the fuss. To be honest, he didn’t show much in the first half and almost looked like he was playing timid, or afraid to get hurt. Not surprisingly, his team fell to a twenty point deficit. Someone must have talked some shit, or maybe he was embarrassed, because he came alive in the second half, displaying a versatile array of moves on the baseline and low post and even draining a few threes. He easily scored 25 in the second half alone and brought his team back for an eventual win.

If nothing else, Hunter College is a great place to see hoops during the summer and you get a chance to watch some real talent for free. Take the 6 to 68th after work and say you were there before Beasley became the next Barkley.

DJ Shadow drove the term “trip hop” into the musical lexicon in the mid-90s with his groundbreaking debut Endtroducing…..

To this day, that record sits among my top five ever and at that time provided a stark contrast to the gangsta rap that was dominating the air waves.

Shadow’s ear for eerie soul and cinematic samples combined with a penchant for hard-hitting yet downtempo beats have placed him in a category unto himself. Below is a collection of videos from some of my favorites tracks. The video for “Midnight in a Perfect World” is amazing and the song makes me want to do one of two things: go surfing or cruise on an open road at sunset with the windows down while bumping this track. “Six Days” is another moody song and the video is just as strange. “Organ Donor” needs no introduction.

I finally got my turntables up to the city this weekend. I’m officially inspired.

“Midnight in a Perfect World”

*note: not original vid, but well made.

“Six Days”

“Organ Donor”

Lykke Li

July 25, 2008

You know who I’m not afraid to admit that I like? Swedish singer Lykke Li. When I first began reading about her, I glazed over the attention, thinking she was just another female artist in the vein of Regina Spektor and Feist. But when I desperately needed new tunes for a long flight abroad, I decided to give her a shot. I was pleasantly surprised. Lykke Li isn’t quite as sugary-sweet as the aforementioned queens of indie pop and she has more of a soulful edge. Some of the songs on her debut Youth Novel—produced by Bjorn Yttling of ubiquitous pop outfit Peter, Bjorn and John—even incorporate electronic elements, which is always gravy to me.

And, she’s hot.

Check out the video for “Little Bit.” Very catchy. She’d probably make out with me, right?

Nike Pro City

July 23, 2008

I recently read an article by ESPN.com’s Scoop Jackson about the deified New York City point guard. Scoop’s piece noted the decline of worshiped guards coming out of the Big Apple, citing the meteoric rise and subsequent fizzle of Sebastian Telfair as a turning point. NYC guards never changed the game, but gone are the days when players like Mark Jackson, Kenny Anderson, Rod Strickland and Stephon Marbury dominated the playground then went on to have notable NBA careers. Scoop’s point was that…who cares? NYC point guards are adapting their game to the pro level less and less frequently because–so what if the world doesn’t know their name…NYC basketball heads do, and that’s all that matters to them.

All summer I’ve been meaning to catch a few Nike summer league games at the city’s hallowed grounds for summer ball: Hunter College, West 4th, Dyckman and Conrad McRae, among others. These courts host games featuring rising college stars, current and former NBA players and playground dudes. Pro City at Hunter College (68th and Lex) has runs each Tuesday and Thursday nights, Dyckman (204th and Nagle) each weekend for the most part, West 4th every damn day and Conrad McRae (Park Slope) on Saturdays and Sundays. For comprehensive info on each court and full schedules, check out Nike Basketball’s NYC page HERE. If you go on the right day, you might just witness the next God Shammgod. While we’re on the topic of Shamm, check out a highlight reel from the ’95 McDonald’s game…

I have been totally slammed this past week with work. Coincidentally, this past week has been miserable for me. Hmm…makes me wonder.

I’ve realized during this time that I neglected the really important things in life, like posting. A great advantage to having co-authors is that we keep each other in check. If one is slacking, the other picks up the pace (but not without antagonizing the other). So after some harsh criticism, I thought it was about time to get back online. So now…I’m back.

When I’m at work and need a pick-me-up, I google up some vintage Calvin and Hobbes comics. I’ve already posted a few that I found particularly hilarious and mood enhancing. The following comic is no different, but it also made me think about current events and the world. For a second, I was totally removed from work and was left to pondered the comic….and the rest of the day flew by. Check it out and let me know what you think:

To cap off one of the most music-centric weeks I’ve ever had (Ratatat on Tuesday, Steel Pulse on Wednesday and Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival on Friday, all worthy of their own individual posts), my friends and I planned to catch Santogold’s free show at Central Park Summerstage today. Apparently, so did every other New Yorker with a pulse. The line to get into the venue itself wrapped around to what was easily several hundred people deep. So instead of waiting in line for eternity, we decided to set up shop on the grassy (aka mulchy) knoll just outside, still within in perfect earshot of the tunes. While Santogold’s set was fun, it couldn’t have lasted much more than 30-40 minutes. One of the highlights of the afternoon for me was the early part of A-Trak’s DJ set, during which he spliced together some of the finest old school hip hop tracks ever put on wax. Below is a small sampling of some of the gems, and frankly, songs about which I haven’t thought in years. The video for “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” is amazing.

Pete Rock & CL Smooth – “T.R.O.Y.”

Old Dirty Bastard – “Shimmy Shimmy Ya”

Luniz – “Five On It”

Kingda Ka

July 14, 2008

Last Wednesday, I joined my coworkers in a company getaway to the Mecca of theme parks, Six Flags Great Adventure. I highly recommend going, if only for the obesity and bad tattoos. What made the afternoon particularly sweet was that we purchased the “Gold Flash Pass,” which allowed us to forgo the atrocious lines that inevitably accompany all the good rides. It was the first time I’ve ever had the privilege of employing such a pass, and I must tell you, it feels great to leave the other minions in the dust. But you mustn’t look them in the eye…their loathsome glares will singe your retina. It’s almost like ostentatiously flaunting your wealth, akin to wearing a Rolex the size of a tennis racket. I’m allowed this moment of self-righteousness…the next time I go on my own, I will no doubt be sweating and bitching in line with the common folk.

All digressions aside, the reason for this post is to praise the beast that is Kingda Ka, aka the nastiest roller coaster ever constructed. This thing will tear your face off. Utilizing a hydraulic accelerator, Kingda Ka launches your sorry ass from zero to 128 bloody miles per hour in 3.5 seconds. Since the rider never knows exactly when the launch will occur, waiting for the start is liable to induce cardiac arrest. Not to mention the fact that you have to wait in your car as you witness the train in front of you get launched into oblivion. If you survive the launch, you climb straight up to reach the apex of 456 feet only to come careening back to earth seconds later. When it’s all said and done and you can feel your limbs again, you realize that you’ve ridden the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world. When I finished riding the thing, I couldn’t stop laughing for several minutes. I have no idea why.

Check out this video that someone took while sitting in the front row. How they held on to the camera and avoided the decapitation of the passenger behind them is a miracle. I get nervous just watching them about to launch.