Songs of the Week: The Island of Dr. Electrico by The Bombay Royale

Australia-based band The Bombay Royale recreates the feel of Bollywood in the 1960s and 1970s with a mix of funk, disco, and surf music.  Honestly, I always wonder with these kind of things if it wouldn’t be better to just listen to Bollywood recordings from the 60s and 70s, but The Bombay Royale are entertaining enough to be worth a least one listen.  I can’t seem to break down the SoundCloud tracks one by one, so I’m just embedding their entire 2014 album The Island of Dr. Electrico below.  I’m also posting the video for “Henna, Henna” which isn’t my favorite song but it does show the band’s unique aesthetic.

 

“A Place Called Space” by The Juan Maclean

This weeks track is “A Place Called Space” by The Juan Maclean, stage name for electronic musician John Maclean

This song may be have some of the bassiest bass notes I’ve ever heard and is reminiscent of Big Audio Dynamite mixed with 1980s Doctor Who soundtracks, with some klassik rawk guitar riffs on top.

What are you grooving to this week?  Let me know in the comments.

Song of the Week: “Word Crimes” by Weird Al Yankovic

You’d probably be even more of a media hermit than I to avoid the news that Weird Al Yankovic is releasing a new video each day this week to promote is new album Mandatory Fun.  Still, I neglected to post a Song of the Week on Monday, so I’ll share this one today.  Of the videos released thus far, “Word Crimes” is my favorite because it is both clever and informative.  If you are a regular reader of this blog you’ll know that I regularly make these errors.  Another advantage is that one can enjoy the groove of the Marvin Gaye-style backing track without having to hear Robin Thicke’s skeevy lyrics.

 

 

What have you learned from a song this week?  Let me know in the comments.

Baseball Celebrity and the End of the Steroid Era

Last night’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the keystone of  shortstop Derek Jeter’s season-long retirement celebration. As things tend to go in the sports media coverage of Derek Jeter, it was a bit over the top.  Yet, nowhere among all the plaudits did anyone see fit to mention that Jeter is the last active superstar of the Steroids Era.

From roughly 1995 to 2003, Major League Baseball experienced the scandal of a great number of players using anabolic steroids, human growth hormone (HGH), amphetamines, and other performing enhancing drugs (PEDs).  The fact of the matter is that if a ballplayer played during this era, the odds are statistically in favor of him having used PEDs.  Some used PEDs when they were on the bubble of making it on a major league roster.  Some used them to recover from injury.  Some used them in their “walk years” to try to get a favorable contract as a free agent.  Some used them once and then never again.  Some built their careers around them.

The peak of Derek Jeter’s career coincided with the Steroid Era.  While he’s never tested positive for PEDs, the rosters of his team from that era are riddled with known users.  The win-at-all-costs owner of Jeter’s team sought out the top superstars of the time, many of whom were later documented as PED users such as Gary Sheffield, Jose Canseco, Roger Clemens, Jeremy Giambi, and Alex Rodriguez.  With a line-up of juicers, Jeter’s team won 4 out 5 World Series Championships.  PED use spread through Major League Baseball and entire teams instructed their players in their use in order to compete.

And yet with PED use so widespread, we are told by the sports media that Jeter never touched the stuff.  Even with the rest of the team juiced up and pressuring their teammates not to play “naked,” Jeter maintained a superhuman virtue.  Of course, his virtue was not strong enough for him to speak out against PED use and inspire his fellow players to play clean.  And even if Jeter did play clean during this era, he still benefited from his teammates using them.  How many times did he come to base with runners on base who would not have been there if they’d played clean?  How many of Jeter’s career hits came against mediocre relievers because the starting pitcher was knocked out the game after struggling against a lineup of juicers?

My point here is not to condemn Jeter.  Even if one filters through the glurge written about him, he appears to be a decent player, and he’s a talented ballplayer for any era.  If I were a Hall of Fame voter, he’d have my vote.  The point here is to challenge the media narrative that has framed the Steroid Era as a few villainous players who cheated, while the virtuous Jeter stood above it all and still won.  There are some players for whom the evidence that they used PEDs is as circumstantial as that which I outlined for Jeter (such as Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza), but sportswriters are attempting to punish them retroactively by not voting them into the Hall of Fame and otherwise sullying their reputations.  Nowhere in the Jeter versus the bad guys narrative is there any acknowledgment of the complicity of baseball team management, the sports media, and the fans.  And Jeter himself who would have to have known what was going on, and as I noted above, benefited from PED use regardless of whether he used them or not.  The scandal is not that a few players cheated, but that all of baseball allowed the rise of PEDs because they desired bigger, better, faster superstar baseball players.

It’s interesting to note that in the decade since Major League Baseball instituted more stringent restrictions on PEDS, we’ve seen the decline of the superstar ballplayer common during the Steroid Era.  Many teams now try a model of finding many players with complimentary skills and abilities to build a team (the “Moneyball” approach) as opposed to building around a slugger and a power pitcher, at least those that have won the World Series.  Boston won with a “bunch of idiots” and more recently with a group of mid-level free agent signings added to players rebounding from injury.  San Francisco won 2 out of 3 years with a team of “misfits and castoffs.”  The Cardinals maintain a top-shelf team year in, year out while remaining largely anonymous.  They did have superstar slugger Albert Pujols, but continue to win without him.

Perhaps as we say farewell to Derek Jeter, we can also say goodbye to the the Steroid Era and its cult of bigger, better, faster.  Perhaps now we admire someone for being a great ballplayer without having to pile on the plaudits (or when a human being inevitably fails, the insults).  Perhaps we will be able to enjoy baseball not as a display of exemplary individuals but as a game played by a team (even at an All-Star Game).  That is my hope going forward  as we can finally close the door on the Steroids Era.

 

 

http://www.isportstimes.com/articles/10249/20140112/rod-suspension-gives-yankees-payroll-choice.htm

 

 
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Massachusetts – Public School Kids Really Need Your Help!

MASSACHUSETTS Supporters of Public Schools‬ URGENT HELP NEEDED! You do NOT need to have a child to do this!

Lobbyists paid for by funding through the Walton (Walmart), Gates, Broad and other 1% backed Foundations are hard at work trying to gain more of your tax dollars by lifting the cap on charter schools in Massachusetts.

If you feel you need more information, details on how Charter Schools hurt Public School funding can be found here and here.

Tell our elected leaders that if you lift the charter cap, it will close good public schools.

 

If you have a few minutes – and we hope you do!

Help Massachusetts Public Schools receive the funding they need.

Here are a few simple things you can do.

 

Please act quickly. The lift the cap bill maybe voted on as soon as Wednesday, July 16th.

 

  • Call your Senator and ask them to vote NO on Senate Bill 2262. Senator contact information can be found here. (If you’re not sure who your senator is, you can search for the answer here).  All you have to say is: “I am calling to urge the Senator to Keep the Cap On Charter Schools in Massachusetts and vote “NO!” on S2262.”
  • Sign this petition, asking Senators to  “Keep the Cap” on Charter Schools
  • Post a link to this page on your facebook page. Ask your friends to help too! (copy/paste – it works!)
  •  If you want to be a total hero, and again, we hope that you do, you can call all of the senators.

 

 

 

Song of the Week: “Venter” by Ben Frost

Ben Frost is an Australian composer and producer, but like half the artists I post on SOTW, he is based out of Iceland.

“Venter” is a minimalist, instrumental piece that sounds like it’s from an imaginary psychological thriller.

What’s on your playlist this week?

Beer Review: Samuel Adams Grumpy Monk

Beer: Samuel Adams Grumpy Monk
Brewer: Boston Beer Company
Source:
Rating: ** (6.1 of 10)
Comments:  Sampled on tap at Doyle’s Cafe in Jamaica Plain, probably the best location to try fresh, new Samuel Adams’ beers.  There was a thin head on the beer which had a copper tone.  The aroma is very mild, maybe some yeast and banana scents.  The flavor is a balance of hops and malts, but not consistent.  I like it better at first when I could taste the hops, but they weren’t overpowering in their bitterness.  The finish is bready with a mouth feel that is too thick and sticky for my tastes.  I couldn’t figure out what this beer wanted to be, but it was all right for a change of pace.

 

 

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