North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

Posts Tagged ‘book reviews

Elsewheres: Neil Young, David Stern and more

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Things have been a little busy, which is why this blog hasn’t addressed things like:

  • The Winter Classic being cancelled
  • The Kyle Lowry Show
  • The Argos making the playoffs
  • The last game at Ivor Wynne Stadium

So until I get around to those, hopefully sooner rather than later, here’s some links to what’s been keeping me busy.

The Good Point – Stern: Driving the Boat No Longer

When I think about Stern, I think about him at the draft last June and how a rowdy crowd booed him constantly. Is he the most unlikeable commissioner in sports? He’s certainly more popular than Gary Bettman. And he’s actually more than a little likable; when he was booed, he held his hand up to his ear, feeding off it like the heel in a pro wrestling show.

What will his legacy be? That’s a tough, large and ill-defined question. Instead we should look at what he’s done: he was in charge just as the league started to blossom in popularity, brought in changes that helped make the sport more fun for the casual fan and been there as the NBA became a global league.


Flashfact: Time Fades Away, Neil Young’s Lost Album

Think back to 1972 for a second: Young had just scored a number one hit with Heart of Gold. When people went out to see Young, they were expecting something like that. They got something else entirely instead: a hard rocking band, with Young screeching on a Flying V which barely stayed in tune. They didn’t get the gentle country from Harvest, they didn’t even get the jamming rock of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. They got something else entirely: loud, dissonant  downright punkish country-rock. And goddamn, is it good.


Flashfact: More Than Just A Funny Guy: Frank Zappa and the Mothers – Roxy and Elsewhere

(P)resent, though, was the emotional center of this band: Napoleon Murphy Brock and George Duke. Brock played sax, Duke played keyboards and they both spent a lot of time at the mic, goofing off and jamming. When Zappa fans say this was their favorite band, they usually mean these two: Duke’s funky keyboards gave Zappa’s band a sound it’d never had before (or ever would again, really) while Brock’s sense of humor and personality shine through, even decades later. He’d never quite get this same chemistry on stage again. This was a funny band but it could play its pants off too. To paraphrase band percussionist Ruth Underwood, Zappa thought this band could conquer the world.

The Good Point: A review of John McPhee’s Levels of the Game

On the surface, “Levels of the Game” is a compact, powerful profile of two tennis players: Clark Graebner, a conservative white player from Ohio, and Arthur Ashe, a liberal black man from the south. Their styles of play reflect their personalities. Graebner plays the odds, a grinding, powerful style of tennis, heavy on driving the ball past the opponent. But Ashe plays risker, gambling on big shots and hits with a powerful backhand. On a deeper level, these two are the faces of America as the 1960s ended and the sporting culture began to shift.


Plus, I’ve been contributing to a few other places and done a few smaller features for Flashfact and The Ogopogan, including a movie review, a story about the rejected BCE/Astral Media merger and some stuff on Quebec politics. For full updates, keep an eye on my twitter account!

Written by M.

November 5, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Posted in links

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Elsewhere: Dream Team, Nordic Pop and the Montreal Expos

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Things are getting pretty ugly with the Jays, so look for a post on that forthwith. But until you do, here’s a few links to some of my stuff that’s appeared elsewhere.

Earlier today, the Toronto Review of Books ran my review of Jack McCallum’s history of the 1992 Olympics, Dream Team. From my essay:

And when McCallum covers familiar ground, like Bird reluctantly accepting a role on the team or Jordan covering up a Reebok logo with a flag during the medal ceremony, he sheds new light on these stories with his access. Everybody involved, including McCallum himself (who covered this team for Sports Illustrated), remembers everything clearly, from on-court play to playing off of it, in all-night high-stakes card games at the hotel. It’s a fascinating behind-the-scenes look.

Click here to read the whole thing!

Meanwhile, over at Flashfact, my latest music column takes a look at several Scandinavian indie acts I like and you might like, too. Click here to check it out and listen to some nice tunes, too!

Finally, The Good Point ran a piece of mine on Monday, where I look at the surging and playoff-bound Washington Nationals and wonder what connection they still have to the Montreal Expos. Can a finally successful team be the spiritual successor to the longtime loser? And is that a legacy they want?

This is the year the Nationals are putting it all together: Strasberg will finish with a 15-6 record, a 3.16 ERA and a 2.6 WAR. Now starting at first base, Adam LaRoche is hitting with an .842 OPS and Ian Desmond’s OPS is .846. As a team, the Nationals are second in the NL in home runs (172), fourth in OPS (.749) and first in ERA (3.28). Their wins total tops both leagues and gives them a comfortable division lead. As the season winds down, the Nationals might be the best team in baseball.

As they get set for the postseason, is it worth it to keep thinking back to what could have been in Olympic Stadium?

Click here to read the whole thing.

Written by M.

September 19, 2012 at 10:59 pm