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.

Like Soybomb, I’ve been finding less and less time to post. It’s time I reevaluate my priorities and start from square one, seeing as how this is one of the ways I maintain my sanity. In keeping with the theme of square one, this Sunday’s hip hop post is dedicated to the label that essentially started it all.

Sugar Hill Records was founded in 1974 and quickly churned out many of the hits that put hip hop on the map. Sugar Hill’s artists, from The Sugarhill Gang to Melle Mel to Grandmaster Flash, had a distinctive style that combined the disco sounds of the ’70s with a break beat groove. The music was rudimentary in its earliest stages, but was unequivocally fun party music. To this day, if you put on the “Rapper’s Delight” record at a party, it will inevitably bring a smile to people’s faces and have them singing along…”I said a hip-hop/the hippie the hippie to the hip hip hop you don’t stop…”White Lines” and “The Message” are also without question two of the best rap songs ever recorded. And you can’t beat the ridiculous outfits cats used to wear.

Sugar Hill Gang – “Rapper’s Delight”

Grandmaster Flash – “White Lines”

Grandmaster Flash – “The Message”

Apologies for the lack of posts this past week. Instead of posting random rants about the latest sneakers, manga, etc., I’ve been working late and just finished up moving to my new place. Let me just say, outside of stapling copies for work, my least favorite thing could be moving. From beginning to end, there are no redeeming qualities to moving at all. None. Period.

Everything about moving is a hassle starting with finding the new place. In the NYC area, I can either shell out $4000 for a parasitic realtor to show me the “greatest/newest place on the market,” or I can place my trust in random craigslist ads and pray the stranger doesn’t stab me and harvest my organs. And once you find that perfect place, or most likely settle for a “it’s not that shitty for the price” place, you think things are going to get easier. Nope. Wrong.

Next comes the packing. I’ve moved every year for the past six years, and each year I say the same things “Why do I have so much stuff?” and “I’m definitely not buying anymore this year.” Obviously, I never follow through with my promises, and I end up with even more stuff. However, before you start packing you need boxes. I usually end up scouring the neighborhood stores or garbage bins like a hobo looking for boxes. With them in hand, you can finally begin moving your life into their new cardboard compartments.

Finally comes moving day, which I think is the worst part of it all. It feels like running a marathon with two left feet. You wake up at the crack of dawn to get the UHAUL truck, except when you get there you realize the rest of the city had the same idea. After waiting in line for 1hr, you have in your hands the keys to a tank.  A UHAUL might possibly be the most dangerous thing a normal person could drive (for driver and pedestrian). After a couple near misses and a 20min parking job, you’re ready to start loading up the truck. Depending on how well you packed, this part could go smoothly. A couple of hours later, sweat-drenched and back aching, you’re ready to drive to your new fixer-upper. That’s when, sitting in your truck, you realize you have to move all stuff in the truck back out and into your new place, and think “Why am I doing this? My old place wasn’t that bad.”

Anyways, that’s my rant for the week. I’ll tone it down for my next post.

Last week I received terrible news from my friends down in D.C., the Windows Media Center that we all enjoyed is no more. Apparently, the Media Center was unable to survive the short relocation to a new home across the street. I guess the greatest things in life are fragile. For those of you who might be thinking that I’m overreacting have probably never experienced the joy of Media Center.

Let me start by introducing Windows Media Center, in which Microsoft integrated their Media Player software with the XP operating system to provide users with a home entertainment hub. In non-dork terms, this means that your normal PC can become a movie-showing, mp3-playing, tv-watching, panty-dropping machine. All you have to do is connect your PC, running Media Center, to an HDTV and a decent sound system.

Our Media Center was setup over the LAN for our townhouse, and we were able to access everyone’s music (ranging from Weezer to Ratatat), movies (Finding Nemo to Koyaanisqatsi), and pictures (drunk college pictures to…drunk college pictures). Granted, there is a lot more functionality to Media Center, but we were pretty content listening to music while random pictures scrolled in the background. Most nights out ended with us coming back and blazing up the Media Center for a late night music session. I especially suggest this if you just spent the last 4hours at a bar listening to Guns ‘N Roses and Lynyrd Skynyrd

Anyways, as a tribute to our lost friend I dedicate this post to Media Center (2006-2008). However, plans are already in works to rebuild the server with a Linux Media Center edition. OpenSource FTW! I’ll update once things go live.