High and Tight

Elbo, the Fanch and I set out Saturday night after a scrumptious homecooked
lasagna dinner for the Great American Music Hall on O'Farrell, where the 5th annual Gram Parsons tribute concert Sleepless Nights was about to rock.

Before the concert, we had one stop to make: the release party for Chinmusic #6, a self-published mag dedicated to the twin pursuits of baseball and rock and roll. The party was at the Hemlock Tavern, where the DJ plays Scratch Acid and the Scorpions ("There's No One Like You"!), the men have greasy neo-mod hair, and the women have jeans that accentuate their love handles and flat asses. (What is UP with that? Yuck!) Everyone, of course, has tattoos.

The mag itself is pretty fun, very indy and irreverent and hooks some surprisingly big names for a self-publish-when-we-can venture. By far, the best article from the two issues available at the party was the meeting of the minds between Billy Beane and Johnny Ramone. The two got together at a game during the A's famous 20-game win streak of 2002. A few highlights:

BB: You know how I found out you were a baseball fan, Johnny? I had read somewhere that you knew John Wetteland.

JR: I met Wetteland when Peter Gammons came over one day. [Lefty Malo ed. note: With Susan Tedeschi and Letters from Cleo, perhaps?] He wanted to do a piece on baseball and rock and roll. He brought me over to Dodger Stadium and I got to meet Wetteland. And I was always a big fan.

BB: Yeah, I actually played with John in Detroit briefly when he got drafted... And at that point we were exchanging Roxy Music CDs. [Another LM ed. note: Speaking of Roxy Music, go to Chinmusic's Web site and check out the cover of issue #4.]

JR: Boy, at this point he's into Christian rock. So I guess he must have gone through some problems in his life.

BB: Yeah, he had a tough upbringing. But he's a real nice and enlightened guy...

And here, Johnny asks a question that has vexed the minds of great thinkers like Aaron Gleeman:

JR: Hey, how come Ben Grieve didn't develop like it seemed he was going to when he first came up?

BB: He had a solid rookie year, he went on to hit 28 home runs his next year, then he just seemed to plateau and it's just hard to explain. But wuth young players, the first hump you have is that you get up here and you're just happy to be here. I guess it's probably like an album. You come out with a hit album, and that first hit album wasn't so hard. It's the second one. You know, the ability to recreate that.

Ballplayers interviewed: Barry Zito (who explains that Carlos Jobim is "some really cool bossa nova from Brazil"), Jack McDowell, Tim Spooneybarger (not the brightest bulb), Mike Piazza (ditto).

Musicians interviewed/reviewed: The Weirdos, The Moonlighters, Rocket from the Crypt, Alan Vega of Suicide, Jack McDowell of Stickfigure.

Onward we went to the Gram Parsons tribute. No baseball references the entire night, although one guy in a curled straw hat got on stage with the Sin City All-Stars and I tried to convince Elbo that he was Barry Zito. Best performance of the night was turned in by SF local husband-and-wife team Chuck Prophet and Stephanie Finch. Like Jon Landau almost 30 years ago, I saw a performance that made me excited once again about rock and roll.


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