Thursday, August 31, 2006


Are the Mets vulnerable?

My sportswriter brother Barry is the national reporter for He's certainly more of an expert about baseball than I am. Barry's a professional, I'm an armchair observer with a platform. He's a longtime Yankee fan, I'm a Met fan. That's our sports dynamic.

After I gloated that, as of yesterday's games, the Mets possessed the best record in baseball, Barry sent me a series of emails. He said it was OK to post them. Barry began by explaining that the article I quoted, "Pieces in Place for Subway Series" (between the Yankees and Mets), written by Mike Bauman and published in yesterday's New York Times, actually appeared at on Monday.

"Mike's our columnist," Barry explained. "Good writer and a great guy. I don't happen to agree with him. I think any of three teams in the NL West can beat the Mets in the first round because their starting pitching can match the Mets or do better.

"Giants: Schmidt, Morris and Cain or Lowry
Padres: Peavy, Chris Young and Williams
Dodgers: Penny, Maddux and Lowe

"I'm worried about an over-the-hill Pedro, a shaky Glavine and Trachsel being the stalwart. For that reason, the Mets are vulnerable. Plus all the NL West teams will be battling to the final weekend for either the division title or wild-card berth.

"The Mets would be better served if the Reds won the wild card because I think that's their easiest first-round match up. Otherwise, if the Phillies or Marlins win the wild card, they'd play either the Cardinals or the NL West winner (probably the Dodgers), whichever team finishes with the lesser record. The Cards would also be a good match for them because the Cards' front-line pitching is in shambles (Mulder's out for the season). If the wild card comes out of the NL West (Padres or Giants), the Mets would get that team in first round. Regardless, the Mets will be up against it versus one of these Western teams, whether its in the first or second round.

"Remember 1988? The Mets were 10-1 against the Dodgers during the regular season and lost to them in the NLCS in seven games.

"The Mets also better hope that the Astros don't make it. Oswalt, Clemens, Pettite. And that team is well-managed and battle-tested by the last two postseasons.

"Also, I don't have much faith in the Yankees' pitching to get them to the World Series. As we've seen over the last two weeks, the five-game sweep at Fenway was as much about the Yankees playing well as it was about the Red Sox's collapse."

My opinion:
I haven't seen the Dodgers much, so I can't really comment about their prospects. But in 1988, they beat the Mets in the playoffs behind an incredible pitching run by Orel Hershiser and hitting heroics by the injured Kurt Gibson." Are Brad Penny, Greg Maddux or Derrick Lowe Hershiser? I don't think so. But, yes, the Mets do have major question marks in the rotation and won't know the answers until Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine start pitching again. If either one are out for the playoffs, that would be a major blow to the Mets' postseason chances. And yes, due to the Mets' overwelming lead in the NL East, they won't be truly tested until the playoffs. But I still contend that the Mets will go to the World Series this season. Whether they'll play the Yankees, Tigers, White Sox or Twins is really the question people should be asking.



Mets are best

The Mets are "the best team in baseball," Ben Shpigel writes in today's New York Times. That's because, with the Mets' 11-3 victory over the Rockies last night, they now have the top record in all of Major League Baseball.

They overtook the Tigers, who split a doubleheader with the Yankees, by two percentage points. The Mets, .626. The Tigers, .624. The Tigers, at 83-50, have one more win and loss than the Mets (82-49). Until yesterday, they had the best record in baseball virtually all season.

The Mets have won 11 out of 12 games, and lead their division by 15.5 games, the widest margin in baseball.

Meanwhile, the Yankees (78-53, .595) extended their AL East lead over the Red Sox to 8 games, sparking talk of another Subway Series in New York (the last one was in 2000 when the Yankees beat the Mets in 5 games). In Wednesday's New York Times, Mike Bauman contended, "It could happen. In fact, the chances of this occurring have gone, in less than one month, from truly remote to distinctly possible.

"Presuming that both Martinez and Glavine are healthy for the postseason, it would be highly difficult to project any other National League team beating [the Mets]. The only possibility would be a team whose pitching gets on a roll at precisely the right time. Maybe the Dodgers of recent weeks suggest themselves in that area. The Astros still have this theoretical possibility. But over time this season, nobody else's pitching in the National League has reminded you of an October success story."

Regarding the likelihood of the Yankees playing in their first World Series since 2003, Bauman states: "What looks more difficult are [their] potential postseason opponents. Oakland will likely come out of the West and two of three should hail from the Central: Detroit, Minnesota and Chicago. All have better pitching on paper than the Yanks. But then, this is an American League year in all other ways, so its eventual champion should be severely tested by somebody."

The Mets go for the sweep against the Rockies today in Colorado.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006


'Ari, you're fired!'

Entourage's third season wrapped on Sunday night with a frenetic finale that saw Vince (Adian Grenier) dump his shit-talking agent, Ari (Jeremy Piven, who on the same night was awarded an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor). This is not the first time the two have parted ways. Surely, they'll reunite for Season Four.

Vince didn't do a speck of work all season long. Instead, he tried to push projects (biopics of Pablo Escobar and the Ramones) that ended up being torpedoed. So he hung out with his buds - manager Eric (Kevin Connolly), pot-toker Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and B-actor Drama (Kevin Dillon). Vince didn't have a real girlfriend all season either. Meanwhile, Eric had a two-on-one in the bedroom, Turtle lost his rapper client Saigon and Drama nailed a part on Ed Burns' TV pilot.

The pace picked up with the last three episodes, when Bob (Martin Landau) offered the Ramones script to Vince, then reneged, leading to the ugly split between Vince and Ari.

Look for Entourage to receive several Stony Award nominations when they're announced next week. The High Times Stony Awards take place on Oct. 24 at BB King's in New York. For tickets, got to

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


'Weeds': 3rd episode pot-boiler

After watching last week’s episode, I wondered if Nancy Botwin (Mary Louise-Parker), Weeds’ protagonist, was training to be a narc. After all, she’s dating one and never inhales on Showtime’s pot-friendly series, despite regularly dealing it all around suburban Agrestic. Monday’s episode, the third of Weeds’ second season, deposits another fly in the show’s ointment.

In this carefully-plotted episode, Nancy and Peter (Martin Donovan) have a heart-to-heart in which he lets her know that she’s “way below [his] radar, small potatoes, teeny tiny fish in a deep narcotic sea.” In other words, he has no intention to bust her. To prove it, he makes a proposal that’s unclear until the last scene.

Meanwhile, Nancy’s sons – Silas and Shane – have co-starring roles. Sixteen-year-old Silas wins back his girlfriend; they romp gleefully in bed. But Silas has a master plan to keep her: he punctures a condom before their next round.

Eleven-year-old Shane is having sex too, but of course with himself. Problem is he keeps dumping gummed-up socks down the toilet, backing up the plumbing. Nancy asks brother-in-law Andy (Justin Kirk) to talk to Shane about his new avocation. Andy’s masturbation monologue is a classic. Among his choice adjectives and verbs are “jerk the gerkin,” “pearl jam,” “goo glove,” “tuggin’ the tiger,” “creamy Italian” and “Randy Johnson.”

Andy, who’s enrolled in rabbinical school and has a crush on the admissions director (Meital Dohan pictured above, with Kirk), has become a stronger, comedic character in the show. He’s also starting a grow house with Nancy, Conrad (Romany Malco) and Doug (Kevin Nealon).

By the end of the episode, Nancy and Peter have whisked off to Las Vegas, where an Elvis impersonator takes their vows. Pot dealer and DEA agent at the alter? It’s a match made in cable heaven.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young carry on

Move over Michael Moore, you've got company Cindy Sheehan, make some room Bill Maher. Neil Young's coming to your town with his old buds David Crosby, Stephen Stills and Graham Nash, and he's got a lot on his mind. The aging rocker sounds, well, young again, protesting like did in the '60s and early '70s against the Vietnam War. Now, however, it's the Iraqi War that has him all worked up.

Young's latest album, Living With War, is a broadside against US policies that have provoked wars in Iraq and Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. During his current tour with C, S & N, he opens the show with "Flags of Freedom," setting the anti-war tone for the evening. Young's clearly the leader of the band, and it's likely he would'nt have agreed to the reunion unless his partners allowed him the time to get his message across.

Throughout the show - I attended last Tuesday night's outdoor concert at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, NY - Young returned to his theme, performing such songs as "Shock and Awe" and the potent "Impeach the President." Peace signs and video clips - one ticked off the number of soldiers who've died in Iraq (more than 2,600) - reflected off the backdrop.

Most came to hear old C, S, N & Y classics, and the quartet augmented by a keyboardist, bassist, a pedal-steel player and drummer didn't disappoint. Crosby and Nash were in particularly good voice, while Stills held back a bit, perhaps preserving his. From "Carry On" to "Almost Cut My Hair" to "Wooden Ships" to "Helplessly Hoping" to "Our House," they reminded baby-boomers in attendance how great these songs really are. Lush four-part harmonies segued into staggering guitar duels between Stills and Young.

The 30-song showcase saw various combinations, with Crosby & Nash taking center stage for awhile and then Stills stepping to the fore, delivering the smuggler's anthem, "Treetop Flyer." Nash's alto soared on "Military Madness" and his solo hit, "Chicago," and Crosby nailed "Guinnivere" and "Teach Your Children."

But it was Young who dominated. He led a chant of "Peace is not an awful lot to ask," and for the finale, it was his own "Rockin' in the Free World," not "Southern Man," that concluded the two-and-half-hour show.

C, S, N & Y return to New York tonight for a show at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. The tour, which has another eight dates, runs through Sept. 10.

This review is also available at

Thursday, August 24, 2006


4th Brazilian Film Festival of New York

From August 6-13, Brazilian movies took center stage in New York. The 4th Brazilian Film Festival of New York (the festival also takes place in Miami, Barcelona and Beijing) held court at the Tribeca Cinemas, where 15 films were screened two times each.

The festival began on Sunday, August 6 in Central Park with a performance by Brazilian pop star Lenine (pictured at right), followed by a screening of This Is Bossa Nova, directed by Paolo Thiago. Lenine combines rock and samba with panache. The film traces the roots of the delicate music that has long been one of Brazil's principle exports.

During the week of screenings, which included many after-parties, I saw several films:

Angels of the Sun, directed by Rudi Lagemann
This sad story of young women being sold into forced prostitution is well told. One teenager, Maria, escapes twice and the second time ends up in Rio, where she's recruited by a madam. Maria runs aways again, hitchhiking her way north, but the movie offers little hope for Maria and others caught in the clutches of Brazil's ugly secret.

Teen Mothers, directed by Sandra Werneck
Set in the favelas of Rio, this documentary is as real as it gets. Teenaged girls get pregnant and have the babies, despite their age. Due to poverty and Catholicism, abortion is not an option. Many of the girls accept their plight, becoming young mothers, like their own mothers before them. For those unfamiliar with Brazil and even for those familiar, this is a fascinating look at what goes on high in the hills above Rio.

Women of Brazil, directed by Malu De Martino
The lives of five women are depicted in this episodic film. Because of its structure, you may choose to like one character more than another, such as Telma, a carnival dancer who falls during her judged segment and then attempts to commit suicide, despite winning the contest (which she doesn't know at the time).

Brasilia 18%, directed by Nelson Pereira dos Santos
Shown originally at Tribeca Film Destival in May, Pereira dos Santos' film is a mediation on power and misogyny in Brazil. A medical examiner is expected to conclude that a female Congressional aide's death was due to natural causes. But when he decides otherwise, the examiner becomes caught up in political intrigue and is forced to make an unethical decision.

Arido Movie, directed by Lirio Ferreira
This road movie set in northeast Brazil features a band of stoners who smoke pot wherever the go. Essentially, they follow a friend who's attending a family funeral. Full of spunk and a sense of adventure, Ferreira's feature is one of the few movies at the festival that might capture an American audience.

In Evil Hour, directed by Ruy Guerra
Adapted from the Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel, this movie is set in a small town during a constant downpour. It works almost as a play, with people holed up in their homes and bars, going steadily stir crazy.

The winner of the Crystal Lens Award, selected by audiences, was After the Ball, directed by Roberto Bontempo, about a widow who has to decide between two elderly suitors.

BRAFF is produced by Inffinito Foundation of Brazil and directed by Adriana Dutra, Claudia Dutra and Viviane Spinelli. Make sure to attend it next year.


Wednesday, August 23, 2006


My latest reviews in 'Cleveland Scene'

My two current favorite weeklies in the US are New York's Our Town/Downtown and Cleveland Scene. Why? Because they regularly publish my articles and reviews. My two latest reviews in Cleveland Scene are the Led Zeppelin DVD, The Origin of the Species, and the Bonnie Raitt CD/DVD, Bonnie Raitt and Friends. Check them out!

Monday, August 21, 2006


GOTV - the day after

About 90 minutes after my post on Saturday - at which point I reported the weather had so far "cooperated" at the Gathering of the Vibes in upstate New York - it began to pour during Keller Williams' set. However, neither rain nor wind would stop the Vibes. Bob Weir joined Williams for the encore and then New Riders of the Purple Sage got going on the second stage. An hour of rain could hardly dampen spirits, right?

Clear skies greeted Hot Tuna, whose "Hesitation Blues" is always a highlight. They were followed by two Grateful Dead offshoot bands, Mickey Hart & Bill Kreutzmann's Rhythm Devils and Weir & Ratdog. Weir also sat in with Hot Tuna on "Walking Blues" and with the Rhythm Devils on "Ripple."

Last year at the Vibes, which is hosted by Wavy Gravy (pictured at left), Ratdog played through a downpour. This year, the rain came, but later in their set - essentially during a perfectly timed "Birdsong."

Former Grateful Dead singer Donna Jean Godchaux MacKay, who opened the day with Zen Tricksters, joined her old partner Weir during his two-hour set that began with "Jack Straw" and "Little Red Rooster" and ended with "One More Saturday Night" and a flag-waving "U.S. Blues."

At 1:30 am on Sunday morning, the skies opened for a three-hour drenching complete with thunder and lightning. That snuffed out the late-night set by Everyone Orchestra.

Ten hours later, with the sun peeking out of the clouds, the music resumed. Unfortunately, New Orleans' Rebirth Brass Band had to cancel, but this left more time in the schedule for the day's other headliners, Burning Spear and Yonder Mountain String Band. Funky sets by Walter "Wolfman" Washington and Papa Mali on the second stage had the crowd dancing before the Zero reunion finished off the 11th Annual Gathering of the Vibes.

My review of the entire GOTV is available at



My review of tonight's episode of 'Weeds'

The second episode of Weeds' second season features High Times, NORML, the MPP and other marijuana-related groups. It airs tonight on Showtime at 10 pm EST.

Nancy (Mary Louise-Parker), Doug (Kevin Nealon) and Andy (Justin Kirk) attend a event loosely based on the High Times Cannabis Cup. People in the pot trade should recognize a few faces, such as High Times' editor in chief Steven Hager. Andy hits a vaporizer bag, which is probably a first on network television. You can also see Todd McCormick doing the same in the background at the High Times booth.

With so many opportunities, Nancy doesn't smoke at the event. Is she a narc? Read my review at Broadcasting & Cable's BC Beat blog.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


Gathering of the Vibes: August 19

It's a famous weekend in upstart New York. Thirty-seven years ago, a little event called Woodstock happened. It took place in Bethel, about 90 miles north of New York City on the Thruway and then west on Rt. 17. I flashed on this immortal event as I drove by signs for Bethel, Woodstock and Saugerties en route to Duanesberg - the site of the 11th Annual Gathering of the Vibes (GOTV).

It was this weekend 37 years ago when Woodstock occurred. And true to form, as it rained torrentially on August 16, 1969, causing a near catastophe and muddy conditions, there has been precipitation today at Day 2 of GOTV. Fortunately, the weather has mostly cooperated so far.

Now in its fifth year at Indian Lookout Country Club, GOTV is a seasoned event with quality entertainment. Yesterday's highlights included Assembly of Dust's "Woodstock" encore, versions of "Lovelight" by the North Mississippi Allstars and Martin Sexton, and night sets by longtime GOTV favored band Deep Banana Blackout and newcomers Tea leaf Green.

Right now, radio personality/singer David Gans is performing a Grateful Dead-inspired set on the second stage. Zen Tricksters opened the day with a rendition of the Beatles' "I Want to Tell You." They were joined by former Dead singer, Donna Jean Godchaux-MacKay. G. Love & Special Sauce just completed a funky set. Keller Williams and New Riders of the Purple Sage are next, to be followed by Hot Tuna, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman's Rhythm Devils, and Bob Weir and Ratdog.

It's quite a day for Deadheads. Tomorrow's bill is more diverse, featuring Burning Spear, Rebirth Brass Band, Walter "Wolfman" Washington, Yonder Mountain String Band and Papa Mali.

GOTV SHOUT OUTS: Ken Hayes, for putting it all together; the VIP tent, for shelter, beer, food, once-a-day meals, cold showers, clean Portos and WiFi; Ed Bender and his Sundance Solar crew for having the most eco-friendly booth; anybody who was smart enough to bring a bicycle; the laid-back security; the bikers who run the place; John Driscoll, for shooting photos for High Times; hippie chicks; hula-hoops; the glow-stick war during AOD's set.

I'll be back with a review tomorrow...

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Hollywood's latest scandal: Owen-Kate

Us Weekly is reporting that Kate Hudson and Owen Wilson had an affair while on the set of You, Me and Dupree, leading to this week's break-up of Hudson's marriage to rock-star Chris Robinson.

“This is not a fling,” a source tells Us. “Kate is crazy about him. Owen gives her so much attention, and she loves it. [That’s why] she wants her marriage to be over.”

Hudson reportedly has been shacking up with Wilson at his Santa Monica house. “Owen is not-so-secretly hoping she will leave Chris so they wouldn’t have to hide. He is falling for her,” a source stated.

While Hudson's representatives have yet to comment about these charges, Wilson's lawyer offered a denial: “[Anything] that suggests that the separation of Ms. Hudson was caused by Mr. Wilson…is absolutely false.”

Wilson, who starred in last year's Wedding Crashers, may indeed be a wedding masher. And, well, Hudson did once star in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. With Black Crowes' singer Robinson, who she has a 2-year-old son with, it took Hudson six years.

The Hudson-Robinson break-up is similar to the Brad Pitt-Jennifer Aniston split, when Pitt left Aniston for Angelina Jolie after they worked together on Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

Pimpin' ain't easy in Hollywood these days. Though I ripped him a few days ago (see post below), I now feel sorry for Robinson, who's currently on tour with the Crowes. He has not issued a comment about this tawdry affair.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Kate Hudson dumps Chris Robinson - couldn't have happened to a nicer guy

After six years of marriage, celebrity couple actress Kate Hudson and rocker Chris Robinson have called it quits.

"Kate Hudson and Chris Robinson have confirmed that they are separated," Hudson's Hollywood publicist Brad Cafarelli commented yesterday.

The 27-year-old daughter of Goldie Hawn and the 39-year-old lead singer of the Black Crowes were married on New Year's Eve in 1999. They have a two-year-old son, Ryder.

Hudson's currently starring in You, Me and Dupree. Robinson's on tour with the Black Crowes.



The scoop on Woody Allen's 'Scoop'

My review of Woody Allen's latest movie Scoop, starring Scarlett Johannson, appeared in last week's edition of Our Town/Downtown. Here's the review:

The Scoop on Woody Allen

His 36th movie, starring Scarlett Johansson and himself, is a charm.


Scoop is a return to form for 70-year-old auteur Woody Allen. Like Manhattan Murder Mystery and Bullets Over Broadway, it’s a light caper, but with the London setting and Scarlett Johansson’s delightful performance, it’s one of Allen’s best movies in years.

Johansson’s slightly-daft journalism student Sondra Pransky stumbles upon a “scoop,” thanks to recently-deceased reporter Joe Strombel (Ian McShane), who makes frequent appearances fresh from his new home in hell. She enlists Allen’s Sidney Waterson – a two-bit magician right out of Broadway Danny Rose – to be her co-conspirator investigating the “Tarot Card Serial Killer,” a murderer who knocks off women and leaves a card as evidence that he’s struck again.

They’re a great team. Eventually, Sondra anglicizes her name to Jade Spence and convinces Sid to come along for the ride as her kooky dad. Strombel has reason to believe that Peter Lymon (Hugh Jackman), the scion of an upper crust family, is masquerading as the killer. In fact, Strombel’s dead because he knew too much. Now it’s Sondra/Jade’s turn to unearth the truth about Lymon.

Breaking every reporter’s rule, she sleeps with her subject after first stalking him. Taken by the charming Lyman and no longer objective, Sondra/Jade begins to lose grip of her journalistic mission. Sid, meanwhile, shifts from a cynic (“this guy’s a serial killer like I play for the New York Jets”) to a muckraker who inspires Sondra/Jade to crack the case.

As Allen’s latest muse, Johansson (she appeared in last year’s Match Point) combines the dreaminess of Kim Novak with the pluckiness of Geena Davis. Her comic timing is a revelation as she goes toe-to-toe with longtime stand-up Allen. “I can’t wear contact lenses,” Johansson starts a quip, then delivers the punch line with gusto: “I don’t like to put my finger on my eyeball.”

More subtly, she inquires, “Jack the Ripper – is that capitalized?”

Of course, Allen saves the best lines for himself. Reprising his classic neurotic mensch who never stops talking – again, see Broadway Danny Rose – Sid’s a barrel of Borscht Belt laughs. All the jokes may not land with aplomb, but the sheer volume of witty one-liners are cause for celebration among Allen acolytes.

When asked his religious affiliation, Sid deftly tap-dances, “I converted from the Hebrew persuasion to narcissism.”

As usual, the target of Allen’s many barbs is effete WASP society. Like his idol Groucho Marx, he has little patience for gentility, chattering on endlessly with relatively rude observations that only Allen (or Groucho) could get away with.

Allen lays his comic cards on the table early in the film when he observes, “If more people had a sense of humor, we wouldn’t be in the shape we’re in.”

Fortunately, Woody Allen’s in terrific shape as his splendid and smart Scoop amply proves.


Sunday, August 13, 2006


Summertime blues

Despite some waking & baking, High Times' Bonghitters were not quite ready for Wall Street Journal yesterday morning. WSJ used the 11 am start to its advantage, scoring 8 runs in the first inning en route to a 12-4 victory.

Down by so many runs, the Bonghitters never really mounted a challenge. OF Kyle Delaney drove in 3 runs and 1B Jeff Hemley had 3 hits. P Rick Reta (7-4) took the loss.

The Bonghitters, however, won the second game, 10-9, against a team consisting of some remaining WSJ players and various walk-ons. SS Darren Pelled drove in the winning run with a single in the bottom of the 7th. P Steve Bloom (1-0) got the win.

The Bonghitters' (9-5) next game is against WNYC on August 28.


Friday, August 11, 2006


My review of 'Weeds' second-season series premiere

Showtime's pot-friendly comedy series, Weeds, is back. Check out my review of the second-season premiere, which airs on Monday, at Broadcasting & Cable's BC Beat blog.

Also, check out this coverage at


Thursday, August 10, 2006


Bonghitters improve to 8-4 record

"You guys are really good," Trader Monthly's coach Randall Lane said after his team's first-ever contest with High Times' Bonghitters yesterday. "You don't make any errors."

Lane, who used to coach the Forbes team in the '90s, invited the Bonghitters to play on Trader Monthly's permitted field in New York's East River Park. This particular field was covered with Astroturf, making for hops as true as on a classic asphalt black-top. The Bonghitters handled every ground ball cleanly in route to an 11-5 victory.

2B Danny Danko and 3B Dave Bienenstock led the offense with 7 hits between them (Danko went 4 for 4). SS Daren Pelled drove in 3 runs. P Rick Reta (7-2) notched the win. Female Bonghitters RF Rachel Smith and C Dawnja added 3 hits.

After the game, the teams convened for beers at Parkside Lounge, and then the Bonghitters headed over to the sports-bar Standings on E. 7 St., where a pizza party awaited them, courtesy of owner Gary Gillis. The Bonghitters enjoyed the post-game festivities, drinking and eating (and occasionally smoking) merrily as both the Mets and Yankees won their games too.

The Bonghitters' next game is against longtime rivals Wall Street Journal this coming Saturday.

This story's also available at

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Gathering of the Vibes: Aug 17-20

My favorite Northeast jam-band fest, Gathering of the Vibes, is right around the corner. It begins next Friday, August 18, but ticketholders will start arriving on Thursday for early check-in and a surprise show that night. The fest, which takes place at Indian Lookout Country Club in Mariaville, NY, concludes on Sunday, August 20.

Here are the artists and bands scheduled to perform on two stages:

North Mississippi Allstars, Assembly of Dust, Deep Banana Blackout, Strangefolk, Martin Sexton, Tea Leaf Green, Juggling Suns, Rafter Bats, Ryan Montbleau Band, Scarecrow Collection

Bob Weir & Ratdog, Mickey Hart & Bill Kreutzmann's Rhythm Devils (with Mike Gordon & Steve Kimmock), Hot Tuna, New Riders of the Puprle Sage, G. Love & Special Sauce, Keller Williams, Zen Tricksters (with Donna Jean Godchaux-MacKay), David Gans, Everyone Orchestra, Chuch

Burning Spear, Yonder Mountain String Band, Rebirth Brass Band, Walter "Wolfman" Washington, Zero, Papa Mali

Wavy Gravy will emcee all three days.

Check out my interview with Vibes' founder Ken Hayes at

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Manu Chao & Los Amigos Invisibles celebrate Brooklyn!

From the reggae/punk of Manu Chao to the suave dance music of Venezuela's Los Amigos Invisibles, worldbeat was the musical flavor of choice at the Celebrate Brooklyn! summer concert series in Prospect Park this past weekend.

In a rare US performance, Manu Chao electrified the sold-out audience on Monday night. Chao, who was born in Spain and raised in Paris, alternates between Bob Marley-style reggae, flamenco-accented guitar pop and intense hardcore/ punk. Chao was at his best when he slowed the pace down with such message-oriented songs as "Desaparecido" and "Clandistino" ("Africano clandistino, marijuana illegal").

Los Amigos Invisibles took center stage on Friday night, offering smooth Brazilian grooves combined with funk, disco and salsa. The sextet led by singer Julio Briceño formed in 1991, but didn't record until 1996. Many of the songs played were from Venezuelan Zinga Son Vol. 1, their most recent release. Though they mostly sing in Spanish, two English songs, "Ease Your Mind" (reminiscent of the Blackbyrds' '70s jazz-soul) and "Superfucker," stood out.

Their next US shows are August 17 at the Avalon in Hollywood, CA and September 17 at the Austin City Limits festival. They'll also be among the many bands aboard Jam Cruise 5, which leaves from Fort Lauderdale on January 2.

This review's also available at


Friday, August 04, 2006


Bonghitters snap losing streak

High Times' softball stoners, the Bonghitters, improved their 2006 record to 7-4 with a 12-5 victory over DC Comics last night in Central Park. The Bonghitters ended a 4-game losing streak in defeating DC for the 7th consecutive time.

In the midst of a sweltering heat wave, New York's utility company Con Edison yesterday ordered businesses to turn off air conditioning and in many cases close buildings. High Times followed instructions, and the Bonghitters waited in the office until it was time to head up to Central Park. A sudden shower just before gametime cooled things down considerably and also dampened the dusty field.

DC grabbed a 4-2 lead, but the Bonghitters came back with 2 runs in the 3rd to tie the game. The Bonghitters forged ahead on RBI hits by Danny Danko and Craig Coffey in the 4th, and added 5 more runs in the 5th. Rick Reta (6-2) got the win.

Check out the feature about the Bonghitters on page 60 of the upcoming October issue of High Times.

The Bonghitters' next game is on August 9 against Trader Monthly.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Herbal Nation's "We Love the Herb" named GMMA Song of the Year

You take a seed, you plant it, you grow it, you dry it, you roll it, you smoke it and it goes down smooth.

That little cannabis chorus, combined with pulsating funk rhythms and James Brown-style horns, lifted "We Love the Herb" by Providence's Herbal Nation to new heights as it was named Song of the Year by the Global Marijuana Music Awards, based in Australia.

I'm a longtime fan of the band and the song, which has been reviewed several times in High Times over the years. As a GMMA jury voter, I excitedly gave it the most points on my Song of the Year scorecard. My other favorites were "Chillies & Tomatoes" by Texas Belairs and "Love to Smoke" by the Individuals.

Here's the complete list of winners:

Song of the Year

"We Love the Herb" - Herbal Nation

Album of the Year
Herbal Nation - Herbal Nation

Best Rap Song
"Heaven for a Cheefa" - The Individuals

Best Country Song
"Chillies & Tomatoes" - Texas Belairs

Best Reggae Song
"African Herbsman" - Superdude

Best Rock Song
"Pothead Punk" - Superdude

Best Pop Song
"Cannabis" - Assi Rose

Best Blues Song
"I Thought You Knew" - The Individuals

Best Experimental Song
"Ever Been to Amsterdam?" - Jet Baker

Best Comedy Song
"100 Cone Billy" - Herb Superb

Best Video
"A + B = X" - Los Guys

Best Poetry
"Mr. Zag" - Paul Bullock



Beat the heat at a cool Met bar in New York

For my latest column in Our Town/Downtown (7/31 issue, available free in sidewalk boxes around New York), I profile Standings, a nice little Met bar on E. 7 St. in the East Village. Owner Gary Gillis is a former Red Sox fan turned Met fan. The bar caters to both. Its large microbrew draft selection is the perfect antidote to the 100-degree weather New York is experiencing this week. The column is posted below.

Meanwhile, I was surprised to find out that I'm listed on the Bad Mets website as one of their 43 "famous fans." This company includes Jerry Seinfeld, Ray Romano, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Paul Simon, Jon Stewart, Julia Stiles and Yo La Tengo, who named themselves after a saying ("I've got it!") the original 1962 Mets came up with to help white players understand Latin players. Of course, it didn't work. That team lost 120 games.

My entry reads: "Heavenly smooth like the cut of Pete Flynn's grass, Bloom's editorial skills turn his peers green with envy. Bloom recently resigned as the Editor for High Times magazine, but, I believe, is still the manager of the High Times softball team The Bonghitters, unarguably the greatest softball team in New York City history."

Despite the Mets' banner year so far, the site concentrates on Met low points, with polls to vote for the worst Met at every position.

Here's my "Worst Met Team Ever":

1B - Mo Vaughn
2B - Roberto Alomar
SS - Kaz Matsui
3B - Bobby Bonilla
LF - Vince Coleman
CF - Juan Samuel
RF - Roger Cedeno
C - Jason Phillips
Starter - Jose Lima
Reliever - Armando Benitez
Manager - Art Howe

Here's the column:

Standings by Your Team

A little brewpub in the East Village with a heart of blue and orange.


In a recent poll, Quinnipiac University asked New York sports fans which baseball team they preferred, the Yankees or the Mets. The results were not surprising: 49% favored the Yankees, 42% the Mets.

New York has long been a Yankee town, for several reasons. The Yankees have been playing in the Bronx since 1923 and have won 26 World Series, the last one against the Mets in 2000. The Mets have been playing in Queens since 1964 and have won two World Series, the last one against the Red Sox 20 years ago. So it stands to reason – even though the Mets are running away with the NL East - that the Yankees would have more support than the Mets.

With that in mind, I went searching for a bar to watch a Met game at with fans wearing light-blue and orange caps, not the familiar white “NY” on navy blue. A little joint on E. 7 St was recommended. Standings stands where Brewski’s once was. Gary Gillis took over the place in June of 2005. Seven screens decorate the walls and there are 12 beers (10 microbrews like Sea Dog Blueberry Wheat and Rogue Imperial IPA) on tap.

Born and raised in Connecticut, Gillis grew up a Red Sox fan. “It was too traumatic,” he says, explaining that he dropped out of baseball for 10 years before moving to New York and adopting the Mets in 1987. “I couldn’t adopt the Yankees.”

A CPA, Gillis owns a piece of Harrison’s Tavern on the Upper West Side. Then he opened Standings – named after that most basic of sports stats – with an eye on catering to Red Sox as well as Met fans. “They have a lot in common,” he says. “They both hate the Yankees.”

Gillis describes Standings as “a sports bar that serves really good beer. Too many sport bars are content to just serve Coors Light.” He’s got a point. I start with Blue Point, then shift to Blueberry Wheat, which makes you feel like you’re in Maine. It has a lovely aroma.

The Met game happens to be on. It’s Saturday and yet another rain-delayed contest is heading into the final inning. Can Met closer Billy Wagner hold the 4-3 lead over the Astros to give the Mets a three-game winning streak and an amazin’ 13-game lead over the Braves or Phillies? He strikes out the first two batters with blazing 99-mph fastballs, then allows a single. Wagner gets the next batter to ground out into a game-ending force play. Gillis and I high-five. He announces that the Mets’ “magic number” – the number of wins and losses combined that will add up to the Mets winning the division – is 53. He may be the only person who’s figured that out.

Every Friday night at 8 pm, Standings springs for free slices courtesy of the Pizza Café. August 10 is “Tribute to Colorado Night,” featuring Flying Dog and Dale’s drafts, free burgers and the Rockies on TV. Even better, on August 16, the Met fan that sings the best rendition of “Meet the Mets” will win $100. The Blue Point Festival on August 23 will offer four different drafts from the tasty Long Island brewery, plus free hero sandwiches.

While the Mets cruise along to their division title, the Yankees are in a pitched battle with the Bosox for first place. The arch rivals’ 5-game series from August 18-21 promises to crowd the smallish bar, which can squeeze in as many as 90 patrons.

Gillis points to a stained Red Sox banner on the wall. He says one night a drunken Yankee fan pulled it down, stomped on it and doused it with beer. “It’s all pretty friendly,” the bar owner/Met fan smiles.

Standings is located at 43 E. 7 St.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006


More on Mel Gibson

Bad Max is getting a taste of his own medicine. The anti-Semetic actor who unleashed a tirade of hate directed at Jews when he was arrested Friday morning in Malibu for drunk driving has already lost one major gig.

Get this: ABC, which had had plans to co-produce a TV miniseries about the Holocaust with Mel Gibson, cancelled the collaboration, due to the actor's comments. A Holocaust miniseries? You've got to be kidding! This sounds more like a late-night Jay Leno joke.

But the joke's on Gibson, who upon being arrested, asked the officer if he was Jewish and then inexplicably remarked, "Fucking Jews. Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world."

“I don’t think he should be doing a film on the Holocaust,” stated Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. “It would be like asking someone associated with the KKK to do a movie on the African-American experience.”

Check out, who broke this story, and today's report in the Wall Street Journal.



Mets deal Nady, Yanks get Abreu

Xavier, we hardly knew ye. The former Padre is now a former Met. Yesterday, as the interleague trading deadline drew near, Mets' GM Omar Minaya dealt the slow-footed slugger to the Pirates for two pitchers. The move was hastened by a surprise injury to bullpen set-up man Duaner Sanchez, who separated his throwing shoulder in a cab accident in Miami on Sunday night. It was the first real blow to the Mets' juggernaut so far this season.

In return for Nady (.264, 14 HR, 40 RBI), the Mets received righthanded reliever Roberto Henandez, who pitched for them last year, and lefty starter Oliver Perez. Hopefully for the Mets, Hernandez (0-3, 2.93) can successfully plug the hole left by Sanchez (5-1, 2.60), who may be out for the season. Perez (2-10, 6.63) was sent to the minors, while rookie phenom Lastings Milledge was recalled; he'll platoon with Endy Chavez in RF.

Nady, acquired for Mike Cameron last winter, proved to be a streaky hitter at best with a shakey glove. The combination of Milledge and Chavez will add speed to the outfield and lineup. But can Hernandez and Aaron Heilman fill in respectably for Sanchez?

Meanwhile, over in the Bronx, the Yankees made a typical move with the trade for Phillies' RF Bobby Abreu and starter Cory Lidle. They gave up 4 prospects of medium standng and assumed lots of contract debt (Abreu will earn $15 million next season). Only the Yankees could get so much for so little. Abreu, whose stats have fallen off this year (he has just 8 HRs), will play RF until Gary Sheffield returns. Lidle is scheduled to be the team's 5th starter, a position recently manned by Sidney Ponson.

The Mets (63-41), fresh off their weekend sweep of the Braves in Atlanta, open a 3-game series against Florida in Miami tonight with Mike Pelfry (2-1) on the mound. They're 14 games ahead of the Phillies. The Yanks (61-41) trail Boston by 1 game in the AL East. They kick off a 3-game series against the Blue Jays tonight at Yankees Stadium.

Other trades of note:

• Cubs' P Greg Maddux for Dodgers' IF Cesar Izturis
• Pirates' 1B Sean Casey for Tigers' P Brian Rogers
• Yankees' P Shawn Chacon for Pirates' OF Craig Wilson
• Twins' P Kyle Lohse for Reds' P Zach Ward
• Phillies' P Real Cormier for Reds' P Justin Germano
• Pirates' P Kip Wells for Rangers' P Jesse Chavez
• Devil Rays' IF Julio Lugo for Dodgers' prospects Joel Guzman & Sergio Pedroza
• Royals P Jeremy Affeldt & P Denny Bautista for Rockies' IF Ryan Shealy & P Scott Dohmann
• Rangers' P Joselo Diaz for Royals' IF Matt Stairs
• Braves' P Jorge Sosa for Cards' P Rich Scalamandre
• Cubs' IF Todd Walker for Padres' P Jose Ceda


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