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Archive for August, 2007

The U.S. Open

Posted by evankessler on August 27, 2007

Several weeks ago prior to the arrival of my Nintendo Wii, I had a dream. It wasn’t a bold world changing dream like that of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It was a relatively harmless and meaningless dream. It wasn’t actually a dream at all…I wasn’t sleeping when I came up with it nor was I staring off into space during the daytime. We’ll just say I had an idea and an unoriginal idea at that. I wanted to have a Wii Tennis tournament. This Wii Tennis tournament was the driving force behind my purchase of the newest Nintendo gaming sensation. This weekend that dream became a reality.

However, before we get there, in the spirit of the weekend recap, we have to go back to Friday night, when the weekend began. While I had only worked a couple of days this past week the days seemed to last an eternity. By the time I got out of work on Friday I was ready to tie one, if not a few, on. I had evening plans with Arby and Marie L to go see the band Beach House play Union Hall, but we began our night at our favorite local watering hole, The Lighthouse Tavern, for some pre-show drinking. I arrived at about the 2nd inning of the Met game to find Filler and Arby with beers in hand enjoying our favorite local baseball squad in action and Adam and Tom behind the bar slinging drinks with Heather soon to follow. Our plan was to wait for Marie to join us, drink there until about 10:30 and then head on over to the concert. We stuck to that plan but not before drinking our fair share of alcoholic beverages and ingesting our own respective Buffalo Chicken sandwichees with a side of fries.

We made it to Union Hall a little early as the 2nd band was just beginning upon our arrival. Filler had opted not to join us. Arby, Marie, and I nursed a beer upstairs before heading downstairs when Beach House was to go on. Walking into the downstairs performance space I came across my old roommate’s ex girlfriend Liz who works the door on certain nights and we exchanges some pleasantries before I shuffled inside to claim my spot. I have a feeling that my pleasantries were a wee bit slurred but I’m not totally sure. The show itself was good…not spectacular by any means. I generally have a problem with enjoying a concert when I can’t see anything. It didn’t help that the band was seated and the stage can’t be more than 9 inches off the ground. I basically spent the entire show on my tippy-toes trying to catch any glimpse of the people seeing. I think I may have seen a strand of hair at some point. The music itself was pretty decent, though I can’t say I got the tingles from the music or any “special feeling”.

Rather than hang around Union Hall or go home, which would have been the sensible thing to do, Arby and I went back to the Lighthouse. However, before we went back we stopped at a convenience store on 5th Avenue where I picked up a quart of some weird blue sugar water called “EverFresh”. Upon entering the bar I announced to Heather our bartender that I had a brought a mixer. She then proceeded to make a multitude of shots containing the sweet blue nectar. From there I ended up striking up a conversation with two strangers. One was a Yankee fan named Joan and one a Red Sox fan named Lindsay. They seemed to know each other but had just met that night despite the evident familiarity in their rapport. After maybe a drink more Arby had called it quits and I probably had one more beer while keeping up delightful conversation with Joan before we both left. I invited her to my Wii Tennis Tournament the next day as she had brought up the Wii in conversation…jackpot.

I woke up at 11:30am the next morning and had done absolutely no preparation for our Wii Tennis tournament or the U.S. (Union Street) Open as we were calling it. I didn’t have a proper tennis outfit, nor had I figured out what our setup would be. All I could think about was how much I had drank the night before. Soon enough though, I sprung into action. Bassett and I went to American Apparel for outfits, however, we decided that it wasn’t worth it to spent exorbitant amounts of cash on tennis attire. We decided to buy headbands and wristbands and wear our own sporty duds. After that the next step for preparation was snacks, and drinks. However, before I could go to buy drinks Renga notified Bassett that she and Dan would shortly be arriving with a keg and a projector. I was not under the impression we needed that much beer but I guess someone else was, which was fine with me but I didn’t expect too many guests. I went out and bought some wine to satisfy the thirst of the non-beer drinkers.

Soon enough Laura and Dan arrived and at nearly 3:30 on the button, my friend Ajay arrived as the first party attendee. He helped me set up the Wii to the projector. We were afraid it wouldn’t work but certainly to my surprise it was a swinging success. The sensor worked properly so we would certainly be able to use the most public space in the house as our Wii Tennis court.

Pete and Bassett in pre-tournament relaxation mode.

Soon enough the guests began to pile in and the tournament bracket was taking shape. I have to give a special shout out to Bassett who did an outstanding job of actually preparing and seeding the bracket. At 6 pm (I think) I took control of the floor welcoming everyone to the Union Street Tennis Club and proclaimed “Let the games begin”. And with that we were under way.

The U.S. Open Bracket

Inexperienced Wii-ers were dropping like flies. We nearly had an entry into Wiihaveaproblem.com when Erika walked in front of Matt W and got smacked in the face with a vicious overhead smash. Despite the accident, there were no recorded fatalities and the tournament rolled on. One of the better 1st round matches was the GF/BF battle of Dan vs. Renga. Not only were they the two best dressed tennis players, but the action was intense too.

Renga Vs. Fry…An Intense Rivalry is Born

The tournament didn’t take as long as I had anticipated. We were only playing best of 3 games matches. I think next time we might do best of 5. Soon enough thought it was time for the Semis. It came down to Evan Kessler vs. Ahmad Saeed in one bracket and Ajay Choudhary vs. Jason S. If you thought I’d be able to hold down my home court advantage…You’d be wrong.

The Agony of Defeat

The final showdown would end up being Ajay vs. Ahmad. The battle of the Cold Hands Collective Multi-Instrumentalist vs. The Cold Hands Collective Bassist. Two friends in a fight for the glory of victory. The loser would walk away in shame having to hang their head for what would probably amount to 4 whole seconds if not a lifetime.

The Finals: Ajay vs. Ahmad

The matchup was not as intense as you’d expect a championship to be and in the end I think Ajay won in a cakewalk. I don’t remember the exact score but I think he may have one three games in a row. And with that the 1st Annual U.S. Open of Wii Tennis had come to a close.

1st Annual U.S. Open Champion Ajay Choudhary

The tournament may have been over but the party raged on for several more hours. People played all sorts of fun Wii games, drank, ate hot dogs, made conversation on the back deck and just generally enjoyed themselves. I know I did. Normally when hosting a party I feel rather panicked that I’m not talking to enough folks or doing enough for the party but with almost all of my roommates thoroughly involved it was a stress-free outing. I’m not sure what time the party ended but the last 2 people on the Wii were myself and Matt G who had two consecutive Tennis battles to the death in which I was the victor. It was a mild form of redemption after bowing out of my own tournament in the Semis. However, I feel like if I won my own tournament I would have just looked like a dick. Imagine inviting your friends over just so you can show them that you’re better than them at something. I was actually pretty sure that I wouldn’t win heading into the tournament. Not due to a lack of confidence, but just because I knew Ajay had a Wii much longer than I had. I fully expected him to emerge the victor.

In any case, The U.S. Open was a resounding success. It was so successful that I was completely worn out by Sunday and pretty much was reduced to sloth-like behavior for the entire day of rest that the lord intended. I went for a walk or two but generally stayed out of the public eye. Aside from listening to an uncomfortably heated conversation at Barnes & Noble in which a guy was telling a woman that his punishment for messing with a trashy girl was that he now had to pay $1500 a month in child support, it was generally an uneventful day. I came home and watched some bad TV with the roommates and called it a night….and a weekend.

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Posted in Weekend Recap | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Places to Go, Persson To See

Posted by evankessler on August 9, 2007

Monday nights during the summer are not particularly known for their excitement. They’re usually part of the two day recovery process between the active part of my weekend and Tuesday. However, when I received an email from Jason S on Monday morning listing a bunch of shows that he was interested in going to and attempting to gage other people’s interest in said shows, my Monday immediately became eventful. The first potential concert on the list was A Camp at Union Hall.

Earlier last week I had brought up to Arby that A Camp was playing at either the Mercury Lounge or the Knitting Factory and that I wanted to see them. Despite my initial interest, my original impulse was forgotten by both Arby and myself. This new email rekindled my desire to see some good music. For those who don’t know, A Camp is the side project for Nina Persson of The Cardigans fame. She’s one of the most delightfully attractive ladies in music since her face was plastered all over MTV circa 1996 when “Lovefool” was all over the charts as the most omnipresent single off of the Romeo and Juliet Soundtrack as well as their breakthrough album First Band On The Moon.

The Video for My Favorite Song Off Of First Band On The Moon (videos are fun)

Since that time, while somewhat less visible The Cardigans have continued to make great music. I own all of their albums since First Band On The Moon and fully enjoy Ms. Persson’s lyrical and vocal capabilities (Hooray for me. Aren’t I great?). Several years back while working on VH1’s Top 20 Video Countdown we would go out to record stores and have record clerks review a new CD. I befriended one of the record clerks and one day he recommended I pickup a copy of the A Camp album. I think he might have even made me a copy of the album but I never again returned to said store. Years later when I passed the store I wondered if that album was still waiting for me somewhere behind the counter.

Occasionally, while perusing record stores I would search for the album and would only find it in the Imports section so I shied away from spending $30 for an album unreleased in the U.S. My desire to hear A Camp remained tucked in the back of my memory until last week…and again hid from me for several more days before resurfacing thanks to Jason’s email.

Upon having my interest in attending the A Camp show piqued once again, I IM’d Arby asking him if he was interested in the show. He told me he was already going with Marie L. I felt semi-betrayed but not really. I went to ticketweb to get my own ticket, but much to my chagrin the tickets were sold out. I showed real determination by calling Union Hall to see if there were tickets available at the door. Luckily for me, there were 20 to be had so I arrived at Union Hall at 7pm to make sure I could snatch one up for myself. Unfortunately doors wouldn’t open until 7:30 so I left the bar and wandered aimlessly and made phone calls for a couple of minutes.

I returned at around 7:23 and resigned myself to waiting downstairs. When I arrived there were 2 guys waiting for tickets. One a weird 40-ish bugeyed guy with glasses that made it look as though one of his eyes was about to pop out. I couldn’t look at him without thinking that his eye was actually going to pop out so I refrained from looking at him. The other guy waiting was another 40-ish male who seemed normal enough but went on a bit too long about his Swedish ancestry as he made small talk with an Australian guy who joined the ticket line and when one of the guys in the band came out. Soon a cute blond girl joined us on the line and I didn’t feel like so much anymore like the audience would consist of a bunch of dorky older guys who thought Nina was hot in 1996, though I’m not saying that’s why they were there, they seemed to be music fans.

Soon enough we all got our tickets and I headed home to kill some time before A Camp’s set, which was to start a little after 10pm. I met Arby on the corner of 7th and Union at 8:50 and we headed back to Union Hall where we enjoyed a beer or two before Marie met us and we went downstairs for the show.

The biggest knock on Union Hall as a venue is the sight lines. There are none unless you are in front.The stage is about 8 inches off the floor, so if you’re short like me and tall people are in front of you (which they inevitably are) you really have to get on your tippytoes or crane your neck to get a good view. I somehow managed to do a decent job of seeing the stage and straining my neck. The show itself was a delight. Marie said it was “a cute show”. I was only familiar with one of the songs as it was a cover of Daniel Johnston’s “Walking The Cow” which I first heard on a Pearl Jam bootleg a while back. The band was tight and Ms. Persson has a beautiful voice as well as a pleasant stage demeanor. Her between song banter certainly added a bit of charm to a set which I was wholly unfamiliar with the material. While introducing the band she called herself “Nina P in the NYC on the M-I-C”. The music itself didn’t sound so much further from the more recent records from The Cardigans and the majority of the songs left me thinking,” I really want to get their album”. My favorites were probably “Algebra” and “Song For The Leftovers”.

Throughout the show I kept attempting to take good pictures despite my height disadvantage and my inability to get a crystal clear view of the stage. Instead of waiting for an open shot I reached about the head of the guy in front of me and tried my luck. Here’s the best picture I came away with.

I think we should concluded from that that I need a better camera with a higher pixel count. To compensate for my poor camera I grabbed a better picture from brooklynvegan.com. So here that is:


Notice the way that photo catches the light. Well, maybe if I had a better spot I could’ve gotten a better picture. Oh well. All in all the show wasn’t much longer than an hour. Afterwards Arby and I went to the Lighthouse and grabbed a few drinks before going home and calling it a night.

Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty quiet. I had a few drinks with a friend at Buttermilk on Tuesday and Wednesday went out to St. Dymphas Pub for Dan F’s birthday but neither night was too drink heavy. I only had one beer at Dan’s. As for the rest of the week…It’s time to get the hell out of the city. Yet another wedding is upon me, so I’m going to Rockland today (thursday) to get my car and drive up to Vermont so I can see my old roommate Kim O become Kim Baisinger. She’ll never have trouble getting a dinner reservation again.

Here are a few videos of the A Camp show I added after the fact…. The first is a clip of “I Can Buy You”

The second is a clip from their cover of Daniel Johnston’s “Walking The Cow”

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