The Astros Need New Music, Wu-Tang Clan Doesn't
Only in Houston
The 2013 Houston Astros were beyond bad, the second-worst season ever by a franchise in Major League Baseball's recorded history. That should give you this article's frame of reference, which will be long on hope and short on snark. If you want to read a bunch of shitty comments about how bad the team was or may be this season, head over to Deadspin.
I'm a homer when it comes to my sports teams, an Astros fan since Bob Watson and Doug "The Red Rooster" Rader played the corners. We used to sit in the centerfield seats so Mom could amuse Cesar Cedeño by speaking to him in Spanish between pitches. She got him to converse a few times while Dad was guzzling down some Dome Foam and teaching us how to log the game on the scorecard.
So yeah, this devotion runs deep. I wish the squad well and hope their progress this season will be acknowledged with the following songs at Minute Maid Park in 2014:
Foster the People, "Coming of Age": The new Foster the People track would be a fine walk-up song for whichever Astros player becomes the team's breakout star; let's hope there will be at least one. (My guess is third baseman Matt Dominguez.) That "feels like, feels like I'm coming of age" chorus is perfect for hailing the next big thing.
Pink Floyd, "Money": When the team goes on its wildly unanticipated run of wins, this song should be played after each one. Baseball's pundits like to make a big deal over the Astros' payroll, which is lower than those of most — okay, all — other MLB teams. It's a sign that the ownership isn't committed to winning, they say. But if a team wins with a low payroll, à la Moneyball, everyone's a genius.
I'd be stoked to hear that rhythmic cash register and those familiar guitar riffs right as the 'Stros record the last out of a win. It would be a big foam middle finger from general manager Jeff Luhnow to those who believe you have to throw money at anything to make it worthwhile.
Jay-Z, "Money, Cash, Hoes": If you ain't up on your Astros, you may be unfamiliar with L.J. Hoes. He's an outfielder, and single-handedly destroyed the Mets in one of the last spring training games of the season. He's fully aware his last name is Hoes, so don't go there. Hoes is still trying to make a name for himself apart from his name, so back the hell up, haters.
I hope L.J. crushes it this season so he can take back his name and be cool with "Money, Cash, Hoes" being played in homage, in an entirely appropriate context, at the old ball game. According to Baseball America, Hall of Famer Lou Brock once stepped into the batter's box to Isaac Hayes's "Theme From Shaft." I don't think anyone's walk-up music could be more badass than that, but "Money, Cash, Hoes" would be a real close second.
Drake, "Started From the Bottom": Also according to Baseball America, Drizzy's songs were used in baseball stadiums last season more than anyone else's. This is odd to me, since baseball is America's pastime and Drake is Canadian. Also because he has that one song about making his lady friend whistle. (Hope no team used that one last year.) But this one is about starting from the bottom and getting your whole team to a place that's not the bottom. I'd take that in 2014.
The Wheel Workers, "Rainbows": Even if you don't share the probably misplaced optimism I possess for the new season, you've got to give the Astros one thing: Those uniforms are fly. I was so happy to see the rainbow colors come back, and what better way to celebrate than with a song by a hometown band?
By the way, DJ Minute Maid, that's a trend you could totally start if you want to be innovative: use songs by local music acts only; you've got plenty to choose from. This tune from last year's Past to Present is an equality anthem. As the Astros search for parity this season, it could be inspiring. It's got a neat drum/piano bit that would sound great in a stadium — you know, like that other sports anthem, "We Will Rock You."
A Better Tomorrow?
Perhaps a new Wu-Tang Clan album isn't the best idea after all, RZA.
Wu-Tang Clan leader RZA has been acting with a single-minded purpose: making a new Wu-Tang album happen, against all odds, even hinting he might release one single copy. He's already titled it A Better Tomorrow and dropped a couple of singles to promote it; even as projected release dates have come and gone, he's admitted that he's struggled to get the other eight members in a room together.
Normally, this would be exciting. Even though Wu-Tang's last few collaborative efforts have been mixed affairs, the individual members involved have been firing on all cylinders for several years. However, there are some really good reasons this album should not happen at all.
Raekwon's Comments: Raekwon is one of the most talented members of Wu-Tang, so his opinion carries some serious weight when it comes to recording an album. He and Ghostface Killah have expressed reluctance to record a new record piloted by RZA, as well as stating their personal dissatisfaction with his recent production work, especially on Wu-Tang's most recent album, 8 Diagrams.
While Ghost seems to have softened his stance, the Chef remains unmoved. In a recent interview with Grantland, he put his foot down and said flat out that he wouldn't do an album with RZA completely shaping the direction of the product.
RZA is unbending on his role as the leader of Wu-Tang and the architect of the Wu's sound. It seems unlikely he would bend to Rae's will on this, which means it's unlikely we'd hear much of the Chef on a new record. Ghost's contributions to A Better Tomorrow have also been described as very minimal. Without Ghostface or Raekwon completely on board, what's the point? It wouldn't be a real Wu-Tang album without the two of them.
GZA's Comments: While GZA apparently has no issues with contributing, it's obvious his heart is not in it. His contributions to the recent Wu-Tang singles were weak and unmotivated. His focus has been on his own Dark Matter project for years now, and he even copped to not being able to write, given the rowdy environment of the recording sessions for A Better Tomorrow. Wu-Tang should not do an album if their hearts aren't 100 percent in it, which was the issue with early-'00s releases like Iron Flag. Given GZA's importance to the project, why go through with the record if he can't fully commit?
The Singles: So far Wu-Tang has released a few different songs that were supposed to be on the new album; "Family Reunion" and "Keep Watch" are your fairly standard latter-day RZA productions. That's fine, but they're the same level of songs the Wu used to toss off for mixtapes and compilations. If they set the tone for the full record, we're looking at a product that would be completely below the Clan's usual standards.
Often, no new music at all is better than lackluster new music. If this is going to be done, it needs to be done right, and these singles are hardly encouraging. Even worse, Raekwon also chimed in on this subject in that Grantland interview and slammed "Family Reunion" as a choice for a single. Once again, it speaks to the group's lack of passion for this music.
They Have Nothing to Prove: This is perhaps the biggest reason not to do an album: Wu-Tang has everything to lose and nothing to gain. While their collaborative recording output has been spotty, it's been well-received on the whole. The individual members have almost all staked huge claims for themselves. The group still regularly draws massive crowds, even when they can't get all nine members onstage together. No doubt their headlining set at Free Press Summer Festival a few weeks away will be one of the best of the entire two-day outing.
So what's the point? They've got nothing to prove. GZA has said as much, and he's right. It might be nice to hear some badass new Wu material, but given the various factors involved, that seems highly unlikely. More likely is the idea that they'll put out something fractured and mediocre, and denigrate themselves by releasing a weak product that will quickly be forgotten in the context of their overall legacy. When you look at it that way, is there any reason to risk sullying themselves, or bothering to do this at all?
Change is afoot at Rudyard's as longtime talent buyer Mike Sims prepares a move to Seattle.
William Michael Smith
Rudyard's British Pub is one of those local watering holes that just never seem to change. But change is in store for the venerable "living room of Montrose," with longtime talent booker and manager Mike Sims leaving his post after April 15.
Sims says his significant other, folk singer and cancer researcher Teresa Kolo, has taken a new position in Seattle, prompting the couple's move. He told Rocks Off that booking duties for the bar, which he has performed since Scott Walcott's departure ten years ago, will be assumed by Stacy Hartoon, but he will back her up "until she hits her stride. Hartoon has been on staff at Rudz for a while, as well as at Walcott's current bar, Poison Girl Lounge.
Kolo and Sims plan to be moved in by May 1. This past Sunday, the couple hosted a going-away soiree featuring Rudz mainstays Dead Roses, Poor Dumb Bastards, Born Liars, Bowel and Venomous Maximus and an acoustic set by Kolo, who has been working on some new recordings with the club's longtime sound honcho, Joe Omelchuk.
Ask Willie D
The Sweetest Escape
A reader broke her engagement after cheating on her fiancé with a co-worker...now what?
Dear Willie D:
I recently broke off the engagement to my fiancé of five years because I've lost myself along the way and need to focus on figuring out who I am for a while. What my fiancé doesn't know is that I also cheated on him with a former coworker whom I've had intense feelings with for quite some time.
My coworker and I met back in 2011 after he had just ended a long-term relationship, moved back home and started working for the nonprofit I was managing. We developed a connection almost immediately. After some time, I gave in to my desires that I had been harboring for so long.
It was the sweetest escape. I felt comfortable giving in to his power, and also so nervous at the same time. I went back home to my fiancé that night. I knew that I could not be with him a minute longer. I sat my fiancé down to let him know that I was leaving the relationship to pursue my independence.
I wanted to be honest and tell him that I had cheated, but the words would not come past the tip of my tongue. I was afraid that he would perceive my leaving as a statement against his adequacy as a sexual partner. That was just not the case. I cheated because of lust and infatuation, not because my fiancé couldn't please me sexually.
Anyway, now this thing with my coworker has put immense pressure on me. What used to be fun, playful, brainy chatter is now awkward silence when we are together. I don't know how to act around him at all, and I feel the same from him. When we were both attached to other people, we could say exactly what was on our minds without fear of judgment. It's like I now feel the need to impress him with my charm and wit so much that it's debilitating.
I think I know the answer to my question; however, I have always admired your opinion. Willie D, what do you think?
The reason there was no fear of judgment between you and your coworker when you were both attached to other people was that there was no commitment to each other. When you're not in a committed relationship, you don't have the obligation that restricts freedom of action. You can do whatever you want to do, and if the person you're seeing don't like it, so what?
The awkward silence in your relationship with your coworker could be that other than sex, you really don't have anything in common. Your relationship was built on lust, not love. Love is a force of nature; it is patient, kind and unselfish. Lust is diametrically opposite.
You seem to be in a sad spiral of avoidance. Try to figure out what it is your heart genuinely wants, and apply your actions accordingly. The results we get are determined by the energy we put out.
Ask Willie D appears Thursdays on Rocks Off.
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