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Lisa Hilton at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall: 2019 edition January 12, 2019

Posted by Mike C. in Animation, Blu-ray, Comedy, DVD, Hockey, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Politics, Sports, Travel, TV, Video Games, Weather.
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Previous Lisa Hilton recaps: June 2011January 2014January 2015January 2016, January 2018

Thursday night, for the fifth time in six years, I made my way to the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall to see jazz pianist Lisa Hilton perform.

Unlike last year, I didn’t leave the house early so I could eat dinner before arriving at Weill. I went about my typical Thursday routine, including eating a pasta dinner around 5:00. At 5:40, my mom drove me to the Wantagh LIRR station. It’s a good thing I chose to leave at that time because unbeknownst to me, the 5:59 train was moved up to 5:55 starting on Monday:

The other arrival times are unchanged.

It was cold and windy on the platform, so it’s a good thing I wasn’t there long.

The train arrived two minutes late, at least on clocks set to the official U.S. time:

Just like the snowy night I saw the Bob James Trio at the Blue Note, the Rangers and Islanders were playing each other. Then, the game was at Barclays Center, current home of the Islanders. This time, it was at Madison Square Garden. Thus, Rangers and Islanders fans were prevalent on the train. Ordinarily, I would have stayed on all the way to Penn Station, but getting to Carnegie Hall isn’t as direct as Blue Note. I could have taken the 1 train from Penn to 59th Street-Columbus Circle, but I would have to walk a few blocks south and east from there. In the afternoon, I consulted Google Maps to determine what subway line I should take instead of the 1. They suggested I exit at Woodside and take the 7 train to Queensboro Plaza, then transfer to the N or W trains to 57th Street and 7th Avenue. That’s what I did.

I arrived at Woodside at 6:46 and proceeded to the adjacent subway station:

I lost my sense of direction and stood in position for this Flushing-bound train:

I figured out where I was facing when the doors wouldn’t open on my side.

The correct 7 train arrived at 6:52:

12 minutes later, I stood in Queensboro Plaza:

Google Maps suggested the N train on the way and the W train going back. I ended up doing the opposite. The W train arrived before the N, two minutes after I got off the 7:

By 7:15, I was at 57th Street:

I took the southeast corner stairway:

The stairway faces south, so I had to turn north and then east:

It wasn’t long before I reached my destination:

Foolishly choosing the stairs over the elevator, I (somewhat) breathlessly arrived on the fourth floor and stood in the lobby until the hall doors were opened:

The audience was allowed in at 7:30.

After finding my front row not-quite-center seat, I took a few pictures of the stage, knowing I’d have to put the camera away until afterward:

A security guard reminded me there was no photography during the show, and I assured him I was only taking before and after. I know the rules and willingly play by them. (I didn’t tell him that.)

Lisa and her two bandmates walked on stage at 8:04. Yes, for the first time, this was a trio performance. Luques (“lu-KEZ”) Curtis was once again on acoustic bass with Mark Whitfield Jr. on drums. Mark alternated between sticks and brushes depending on the song.

The first nine songs were all from Lisa’s latest album, Oasis, released on December 7. The concept is similar to that of her previous album, Escapism: escaping the craziness of the real world. At the Oasis, you can take your mind off the political turmoil and extreme weather dominating the news. A case of extreme weather is the Woolsey fire in Southern California, which forced Lisa to evacuate her Malibu home. She eventually returned home to no damage, but others weren’t as fortunate.

I’m right-of-center politically, but I can’t stand politics’ insane tribalism. It’s our way or the highway, whether “our” is Republicans or Democrats. And don’t get me started on the politics of personal destruction. One wrong move will destroy your life. I also have a pessimistic view of my party’s chances in elections and I take hyperbole from left-leaning politicians and pundits personally.

Since late September, I have paid little attention to the news. I know what happened on November 6, and that my left-wing friends gloated triumphantly, but that’s mostly it. Some news comes to my attention by overhearing what someone is watching in another room, from newspapers on display at the supermarket if I fail to avert my gaze, or reading Chuck Lorre’s vanity cards at the end of episodes of his sitcoms. I keep my head buried in music, sports (but not sports debate or news magazines), documentaries, cartoons, sitcoms, tech reviews, and video game or console reviews and retrospectives. Ignorance is bliss.

I used to occasionally post political links or videos, such as for Prager University, on Facebook, but I stopped a year ago. Now, I don’t talk politics at all on any of my social media (I seldom did on Twitter since my account is public) or with family and friends, unless we agree. I’m a people-pleaser; I want to be everyone’s friend. I don’t want politics to come between us.

Lisa promised that the songs we were about to hear would be uplifting. There wouldn’t be any songs with titles like “F U Donald,” as John Scofield had with Combo 66 in November.

The set ran about 70 minutes. Here’s what Lisa Hilton’s trio played:
Adventure Lands
This made me think of the times I went to the Adventureland amusement park in Farmingdale when I was growing up.

2. Oasis
Mark Whitfield Jr. provided a swing beat at times. At one point, I followed Luques Curtis’s fingers on the bass.

3. Twists of Fate
Lisa credited Count Basie and Thelonious Monk among her inspirations for this song.

4. Watercolor World

5. Vapors & Shadows (also on Horizons, 2015)
In a quiet moment, Mark lightly clacked the drums. Lisa and I seemed to lock eyes briefly.

6. Lazy Daisy
This brought to mind a hippie daisy floating downstream or lying in an inner tube in a water park lazy river, like the one at Splish Splash in Riverhead. That was another park I frequented growing up, but I haven’t been there in almost 20 years.

7. Just for Fun (also on In the Mood for Jazz, 2003; Nuance, 2010; and Getaway, 2013)
Lisa’s gliding up and down the keys made me laugh.

8. Sunshine States
There was a Latin flavor befitting the two Sunshine States, California (officially the Golden State) and Florida. It was reminiscent of Chick Corea, and the end felt like “Tequila” by The Champs, just as “Hot Summer Samba” did last year.

9. Sunday Morning (also on Midnight in Manhattan, 2006)

10. Waterfall (from Cocktails at Eight, 2000)

11. Meltdown (from Sunny Day Theory, 2008; later on Nuance, 2010; and Escapism, 2017)
This song is a comment on a hectic life, being driven to a meltdown or breakdown. It had a frantic, heavy metal-like pace, and also brought to mind boss music in a video game. There were occasionally staccato Morse Code-like notes.

12 (Encore). Zero Gravity (from Escapism, 2017)
Coincidentally, earlier in the day, I watched the fourth Futurama film, Into the Wild Green Yonder (2009), on Blu-ray. One of the special features involved series executive producers Matt Groening and David X. Cohen talking about their recent Zero G flight. They and their fellow passengers, including Matt’s son Will, experienced periods of weightlessness.

As it turned out, no one else was seated in the front row, not even in the handicap seats. I could have moved, but chose not to.

1/18 UPDATE: Lisa posted a picture from the set (taken by photographer Ryan Nava) to Facebook, her website, and her newsletter last night:

Here’s the Facebook post, which ends with a link to her web post:

1/29 UPDATE: Lisa posted two more of Ryan Nava’s pictures to social media yesterday:

When the house lights went back up in Weill Recital Hall, and the audience began to leave, I said aloud, to no one in particular, that was a great show. Steve, who was seated one row behind me, agreed. I told him it was my fifth time, he said it was his first. We spoke a little more, then went our separate ways. I proceeded to the lobby to meet and greet Lisa and Luques. I didn’t see Mark, though. As I let other audience members talk to them for a while, I shared my enthusiasm with Adam and Vicki. Adam was seated a row or two behind me and told me he noticed that I was taking notes. I let him know it was for the recap you’re reading right now, and shared some of the notes with him. He was nice enough to take a picture of Lisa and me before I left:

I rightly took the elevator back down to the first floor.

By 9:46, I was back in the 57th Street subway station:

My N train for Queensboro Plaza arrived at 9:54:

Ten minutes later, I was among a massive throng of passengers (whom I didn’t photograph out of privacy) waiting to board the 7 train:

It took another ten minutes for that 7 train to arrive, and a couple more minutes before the doors were opened. I barely fit into the cramped car I walked into. There was little relief between stops as few people got off. Flushing was likely the majority destination.

The late arrival of the 7 train at Woodside meant I missed my LIRR train for Wantagh.

The good news is I would only have to wait about 20 minutes for the next Babylon-bound train:

The bad news is it was an express train that only stopped at Woodside, Jamaica, Valley Stream, and Freeport, with no other stops before Babylon. My dad was nice enough to drive 15 minutes out to Freeport to pick me up because I wasn’t about to wait until about 11:15 for a train that would stop at Wantagh.

After waiting upstairs out of the wind for 15 minutes, I proceeded to the track 4 platform and waited for my train:

Brrr! Each gust was tough to endure.

I was relieved to board the warm train at 10:47:

Once again, there were Rangers and Islanders fans aboard. And once again, the Islanders won. This time, 4-3. As a Rangers fan, this has been a tough season. (8:20 PM UPDATE: The game was part of a home-and-home. The Rangers won 2-1 at Barclays Center earlier today.)

The train was scheduled to arrive at Freeport by 11:15. Instead, it was there at 11:23. My railcar was a few blocks from where Dad was. Once inside his car, the drive back to Wantagh took 15 minutes, the same length it took to get to Freeport. Home sweet home.

Thank you to Lisa Hilton, Luques Curtis, and Mark Whitfield Jr. for the fifth great night of music in six years. (I couldn’t make it in 2017.) Thanks, as well, to Steve, Adam, and Vicki from the audience; and of course, to my parents for transportation to and from the train stations.


Bob James Trio at Blue Note November 16, 2018

Posted by Mike C. in Hockey, Jazz, Music, Personal, Sports, Travel, Weather.
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A little mid-November snow wasn’t going to keep me from getting to the Blue Note Jazz Club in Greenwich Village last night to see the Bob James Trio’s 8PM set. This was my first time inside Blue Note since I saw the Chick Corea Elektric Band in October 2016. It was also the first time I’d seen Bob since I saw Fourplay in December 2015, and the first time seeing him solo since May 2007 at the defunct IMAC (Inter-Media Art Center) in Huntington.

The story begins several hours before showtime. A nor’easter was about to bring what I assumed was going to be light snow and sleet that wouldn’t accumulate much before changing to rain. I based my assumption on Wednesday’s forecast. Little did I know that forecast models now called for a longer period of moderate-to-heavy snow. A winter weather advisory was issued from 1PM to 10PM and called for 2 to 5 inches. Wantagh ended up with the max. Plus, there were the usual gusty winds a nor’easter provides. It wasn’t comparable to Sandy, but was a nuisance.

For reference, here are a few photos in the snow’s early stages, at 1:43 PM:

2:17 PM:

…and 3:14 PM:

I chose to take a later LIRR train, the 4:59, to Penn Station so I wouldn’t have to wait outside Blue Note in the elements for an hour. Indeed, my father drove me to the Wantagh LIRR station just after 4:30 in heavy snow on unplowed roads. I waited on the platform for about 20 minutes, seeking shelter by the main stairway and escalator until the train arrived. At that time, I walked closer to the head of the train and sat down in a railcar.

The Rangers were playing the Islanders at Barclays Center in Pacific Park, Brooklyn, which meant I was surrounded by fans of both teams (I’m a Rangers fan, myself) until Jamaica, a major hub, when they would change to an Atlantic Terminal train. As the train approached Jamaica, the conductor relayed bad news: due to signal problems west of Jamaica, the train could not proceed to Penn Station. Passengers bound for Penn were diverted to the E train where tickets would be cross-honored.

MTA workers directed a throng of passengers through what was now sleet to the underground subway station. I was closely followed by Jeanette, my seatmate who boarded at Rockville Centre (or maybe it was St. Albans).

We sat together for about a half hour as the E train proceeded through Queens and into Manhattan. She exited at 50th Street and I said it was nice meeting her.

After a few more stops, the train had reached West 4th Street. I walked up to West 3rd and crossed 6th Avenue, tiptoeing through snow and slush, as sleet continued to fall, until I finally arrived at Blue Note.

I checked my coat and was fortunate enough to get my old favorite seat at the table next to the stage. The claustrophobia that drove me away from that seat before Lee Ritenour’s set in August 2016 was gone. I made fast friends in my a few of my tablemates: Debbie, who went to high school with Bob’s Fourplay bandmate Nathan East, and married couple Tom and D’Lissa. My night was more enjoyable for having met and spoken with them.

The Bob James Trio began their set at 8:23; better late than never.

Bob James played piano:

Fender Rhodes:

…and both on “Night Crawler”:

Bob was joined by Michael Palazzolo on acoustic bass:

…and Billy Kilson on drums:

Billy’s “Mister Magic” solo:

The set consisted of nine songs, plus one encore:
1. Bulgogi
Originally heard on: Espresso (2018)
Bulgogi is Korean grilled beef.

2. Feel Like Making Love (Roberta Flack cover)
Originally heard on: One (1974)
Bob played Fender Rhodes throughout, just as he did on One and on Roberta’s original.

3. Night Crawler
Originally heard on: Heads (1977), Straight Up (1996), Live at the Milliken Auditorium (2015)
Bob began on Rhodes, then transitioned to piano, playing both at once along the way.

4. Shadow Dance
Originally heard on: Espresso (2018)

5. Il Boccalone
Originally heard on: Espresso (2018)
This song was named after an Italian restaurant in, of all places, Tokyo. It was a duet for Bob and Michael.

6. Mister Magic (Grover Washington, Jr. cover)
Originally heard on: Espresso (2018)
Bob performed on Grover’s Mister Magic album, playing Rhodes on the original, but piano here, as he did on Espresso.

7. Topside
Originally heard on: Espresso (2018)
Bob started on Rhodes, then switched to piano, with a backing track playing throughout on his iPad, which required him to wear headphones.

8. Mojito Ride
Originally heard on: Espresso (2018)
This song also had a backing track.

9. Westchester Lady
Originally heard on: Three (1976), All Around the Town (1981), Live at the Milliken Auditorium (2015)
This song had a call and response between the trio and ended with an accelerando that led me to polka dance.

10 (Encore). Angela (Theme from Taxi)
Originally heard on: Touchdown (1978), All Around the Town (1981), The Genie (1983), Angels of Shanghai (2007), Live at the Milliken Auditorium (2015)
Bob began on Rhodes, then ended the set on piano.

After the set, I asked if there was a meet and greet afterward. In a way, yes. After saying goodbye to Debbie, Tom, and D’Lissa, I and a few others congregated outside Bob’s dressing room, where his manager Sonny Abelardo let us in one at a time. I reintroduced myself to Bob, he signed my copy of Espresso, and we posed for a picture:

Sonny called us the Vest Brothers. I liked that.

After leaving the room, I briefly commiserated with Billy Kilson about our misadventures getting to Blue Note.

Back downstairs, I claimed my coat, bundled up, and walked back to the West 4th subway station. By this time, it was raining lightly, but I had to tiptoe through and around slush to cross 6th Avenue.

40 minutes on the E train later, I was back at Jamaica:

I boarded the 11:08 train, which was a few minutes late, along with some happy Islanders fans and dejected Rangers fans, as the Isles beat the Blueshirts 7-5.

After taking this picture…:

…I boarded the train and headed for Wantagh.

I found through a couple I sat next to – they had come from a play – that service had been restored west Jamaica and I could have boarded at Penn Station without needing to take the E train all the way to Jamaica. But I didn’t want to take any chances, so it was the E train all the way.

Dad picked me up in Wantagh and took me home. At 12:05 AM, my adventure was complete. I hope the weather is better when I go see John Scofield’s Combo 66 on November 29.

Thank you to everyone I met last night. It was great to meet you, and in Bob’s case, to see you again.

Mid-season thoughts July 9, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Baseball, Basketball, Hockey, Personal.
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The first half of the 2017 Major League Baseball season ends today. I have watched very little of it. Considering the way the New York Mets, my favorite team, have performed, that’s a good thing. As I’ve told my Facebook friends, ignorance is bliss.

As for Tuesday’s All-Star Game in Miami, I expect the American League to win yet again. Thankfully, though, this will be the first time in 15 years that the winner doesn’t get home field advantage in the World Series. Starting this season, home field goes to the league champion with the better record, finally putting MLB on par with the NBA and NHL.

This was originally a Facebook post, but I revised it for the website.

Jeff Dunham at Carnegie Hall October 22, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Hockey, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, News, Personal, Phone, Photography, Politics, Sports, Travel, TV, Video, Weather.
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(10/26 UPDATE: I have censored the few curse words that were in the recap.)

(10/23 NOTE: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said Jeff’s show ran “about 70 minutes.” I have corrected that to read “2 hours and 13 minutes.”)

I was in Manhattan for the second night in a row yesterday. Thursday, I was down in Greenwich Village to see the Chick Corea Elektric Band. Yesterday, I was uptown at Carnegie Hall to see ventriloquist and comedian Jeff Dunham. Pictures weren’t allowed during the show, which was part of Jeff’s Perfectly Unbalanced Tour, but I took my plenty before and after. I had to use my iPhone 6 because mobile devices were all that were allowed.

This was my fourth time at Carnegie Hall, but the first time in the Stern Auditorium. My previous three trips were to see pianist Lisa Hilton in the intimate Weill Recital Hall.

Jeff Dunham and his crew made their way to Carnegie at around 4:30. Jeff posted live video of the walk to Facebook:

About an hour after that streaming video, I left the house for the Wantagh LIRR station. It was the last day of a warm and humid air mass. Nonetheless, like Thursday night, I wore my green spring squall jacket in case of rain. There was nary a drop; only fog and mist when I returned six hours later. There had been rain earlier in the day, but while I waited for the 5:59 train for Penn Station, Wantagh was in between rain bands. The band to the east must have been intense because there were impressive cumulonimbus clouds:


Low cumulus clouds set in starting in Queens, appearing dark against the setting sun.

There were New York Islanders fans on the train through Jamaica. They changed there for the Atlantic Terminal train to Barclays Center where the Islanders went on to beat the Arizona Coyotes 3-2.

The train arrived at Penn Station at 6:55. From there, I took the E train to West 53rd Street and walked four blocks to Carnegie Hall.





Once there, the crowd had to wait until 7:30 for the Stern Auditorium doors to open. After getting a bottle of water, I got to my balcony seat. Trivia, social media posts, and pictures were shown on the monitor:



The ceiling:

There was a welcome announcement at 8:03 following by three intro videos at 8:06. Since they’re from Jeff’s YouTube channel, I’ve included them below:

After an auto-tune montage, the show officially began at 8:16. The voice of Achmed the Dead Terrorist announced Jeff and he walked on stage. I looked at him on the monitor most of the time since I was so high up.

I took ten pages of notes in a 7 x 5 notebook. Below are some of those notes. I’ll try not to give too much away.

Jeff’s opening act:

  • Informal election vote: Hillary – cheers, Donald – more cheers
  • Why he’s a ventriloquist
  • Family – daughters, Audrey, twin boys
  • How Jeff and Audrey found out they were having twins, Jack and James
  • The twins’ birth
  • Changing diapers in NICU
  • Breastfeeding
  • Baby pictures – meme photo (“I CAME OUT OF YOUR WHAT???”), then actual photos: their first birthday, Jeff holding them like dumbbells, at Disneyland
  • Left stage, came back
  • Videotaping show to include message to sons when they’re older

After the opening act, it was time to open the boxes and bring out the characters. Walter came first:

  • “Oh, shut the hell up! (mocking laugh)”
  • Joke about New Jersey
  • How do you get to Carnegie Hall? “Uber.”
  • Joke about auditorium appearance
  • Sick of election garbage – doesn’t like either candidate – like going in for colonoscopy
  • Cut to a video:

  • “You know, folks tell me that I should run for president”
  • Wife
  • Life after death
  • “If Trump becomes president, José’ll be out of the show” (a reference to José Jalapeño on a Stick)
  • Being an older parent
  • “Say good night, Walter.” “Thanks, everybody!”

Before bringing out the next character, Jeff announced that his next special will be taped in Dublin, Ireland, in May for Netflix. It will debut in August. The theme will be family. Jeff found out he is of Irish descent. To that end, a new character he tried out at Carnegie Hall was an Irish baby he was trying to get adopted:

  • Big head
  • Adult voice with brogue
  • Influenced by the other characters (“I keel you” from Achmed)
  • Much smarter than apparent age
  • Cursing (from Peanut)
  • Mother gave him up for adoption
  • Vaccination/shots – “Gin, rum, vodka”
  • Can’t walk, but can pub crawl
  • “All the drunks just think I’m a leprechaun”
  • “And that’s the new baby!”

Bubba J:

  • “I’m doin’ pretty good!”
  • “…watchin’ NASCAR and drinkin’ beer”
  • Twins
  • Wife
  • Running for president
  • “Press the flesh”
  • Debate/da bait, defense/da fence, Syria/Siri
  • Fracking: “Me and the wife are down to once a month”
  • “Say good night, Bubba J”


  • “Dat’s goooooooooood!”
  • (singing): “New York…..”
  • “Two infants at your age, how the hell did that happen?!”
  • Running gags (toward Jeff, into mic): “’cause you’re old”, “’cause you’re an a**h***”, “’cause I’m an a**h***”
  • Porn riff (“chicka-chicka-wow-wow”) – baby-related dirty talk
  • Caffeine zaniness – “It’s great!”, “Yes!”
  • Coffee enema
  • Lost a shoe – “No, dude, I found one”
  • Peanut fell off and his mouth was stuck open – after a few minutes of incoherent speech (“ahh***”), Jeff closed it
  • “Jeff-fa-fa”
  • “Nnnnnnyeow!”
  • Spoke to two men in the front row
  • Hearing aid joke (pretending to cut out)

Achmed the Dead Terrorist:

  • “Most beloved terrorist throughout the world”
  • Achmed’s origin story – tried out Dead Osama a year after 9/11, six blocks from Ground Zero – crowd loved act – retooled as Achmed starting in Spark of Insanity
  • “Greetings, American infidels!”
  • Usama Bin Laden is “dead dead”
  • “Do you know me, infidels?!” – cheers – “Thank you, I keel you (2x)”
  • “Achhhhhmed”
  • “It’s not funny!”
  • “Silence! I keel you!” – cheers – “Thank you, I keel you”
  • Achmed’s many kids: “…and Steve”
  • Games
  • Life story: “Once upon a time, (boom!). The end.”
  • Presidential election
  • “Oh! Bomb! Ah!”
  • Questions: “Dear Achmed…” – by my count, 19 questions – Favorite breakfast cereal: “Life” – Hugh Jorgen (huge organ): “I can’t believe you fell for that!” – Legs fell off, then arms, then ribcage

After one last joke, that was it. Since it was over, I resumed photography. There was one last bit of business for Jeff: a crowd selfie with his wife Audrey.






Here’s how that selfie looked:

As you can see, balcony members weren’t in the picture, but I don’t mind.




In all, Jeff was on stage for 2 hours and 13 minutes, leaving the stage at 10:29.

I took a selfie of my own a few minutes later:

Then, I made my way down the stairs, through the lobby, and out the door. Merchandise was available in the lobby:

Rather than walk back to West 53rd Street to take the E train again, I walked to 59th Street-Columbus Circle station.




I took the 1 train back to Penn Station:



I would have taken the 11:08 LIRR train to Wantagh, but there happened to be an 11:01 express train that didn’t make local stops until Wantagh. So, I boarded that one. There were some passengers that didn’t realize it was an express and had to change at Jamaica for the later, entirely-local train. It only took 43 minutes to get to Wantagh! Now that’s what I call express! I wouldn’t have arrived until 20 minutes later had I taken 11:08 train.

Thus ended my six-hour adventure. Jeff was hilarious, as always. I wish the show was available on video so I could watch it again and again. My notes and memories will have to do until then.

While I slept, Jeff was live on Facebook as his YouTube channel surpassed one million subscribers!

Congratulations, Jeff, and thank you to fans like me for getting the channel to a million and beyond.

June 17, 1994 June 17, 2014

Posted by Mike C. in Basketball, Education, Golf, Hockey, Media, News, Personal, Sports, TV, Video.
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I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the white Bronco in the room (as opposed to an elephant). Many things occurred 20 years ago today, as the June 17, 1994 ESPN 30 for 30 film – which is not affiliated with this post – documented:

  1. The New York Rangers’ ticker tape parade along the Canyon of Heroes and ceremony at New York City Hall, three nights after winning the Stanley Cup
  2. Arnold Palmer’s last round at a U.S. Open, held that year at Oakmont Country Club (the last U.S. Open carried by ABC; covered that day by ESPN)
  3. Game 5 of the 1994 NBA Finals, in which the New York Knicks defeated the Houston Rockets at Madison Square Garden to take a 3-2 series lead (they went on to lose the last two games in Houston)
  4. O.J. Simpson and Al Cowlings in a slow-speed police chase in O.J.’s white Ford Bronco

Also that day was:

5. One final exam for me at Wantagh Middle School (I’m not sure what subject; probably Social Studies)

For more on #4, I refer to video of ABC News’ coverage of the chase and a retrospective report from Fox News Channel’s Shepard Smith Reporting (dead link as of 6/17/19).

This concludes my obligatory acknowledgement.

Where I was: Johan Santana’s no-hitter June 1, 2012

Posted by Mike C. in Baseball, Hockey, Internet, Media, News, Personal, Radio, TV.
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(Updated with additional links.)

It’s been a whirlwind 56 minutes as I type.  Here goes:

For stress reasons, I typically don’t watch or listen to Mets games until three hours after it starts.  If I didn’t check ESPN.com at 9:42 PM EDT to see the name of the winner of the Scripps National Spelling Bee finals held last night – it was Snigdha Nandipati – I would not have known Johan Santana was three outs away from pitching a no-hitter.  But I did.

I left my bedroom, and from the top of the stairs in the top floor hallway, I told my parents down in the den to put on SNY because Santana was close to achieving that no-hitter.  This may be too much information, but while SNY was (and still is) recording on the DVR in my room, I listened to the last three outs on WFAN from the bathroom on the shower radio in there.

Mets lead radio play-by-play announcer Howie Rose was as loud as he was 18 years and five nights ago at Madison Square Garden, calling Stephane Matteau’s Eastern Conference Finals-clinching goal in double overtime for the Rangers against the Devils.

I don’t think any Mets fan, including Howie, thought tonight would ever happen.  It took 8,020 games in 51 seasons for the first no-hitter in Mets history to occur.  What a night.

An excerpt of the game recap from Steven Miller at MLB.com:

It took 50 years, but the New York Mets and Johan Santana finally have their no-hitter.

The 33-year-old Santana held the Cardinals hitless in an 8-0 victory Friday in front of 27,069 at Citi Field, who witnessed the first no-hitter in franchise history. The left-hander walked five as his pitch count climbed to 134, but manager Terry Collins could not pull his starter, who Collins said he would limit to about 110 pitches before the game.

“Wow — amazing,” Santana said after the game. “Coming into this season, I was just hoping to come back and stay healthy and help this team. And now I’m in this situation in the greatest city in baseball. I’m very happy, and I’m happy for [the fans], finally — the first one.

“It was a crazy night, trying to command my fastball, moving all over the plate. But I was able to locate it, command it and get some quick outs and get out of there.”

When asked how he felt after throwing the final pitch, Santana could hardly contain his excitement.

“That’s the greatest feeling ever,” Santana said, just as he received a celebratory pie to the face.

WFAN audio/SNY video via Deadspin

New York Daily News:
Anthony McCarron: Johan Santana tosses first no-hitter in NY Mets history during 8-0 victory against St. Louis Cardinals at Citi Field
Mike Lupica: On Johan Santana’s magical night at Citi Field, NY Mets fans finally see a no-hitter

Newsday (subscription required):
Roderick Boone: Johan Santana pitches Mets’ first no-hitter

ESPN New York:
Andrew Marchand: Johan Santana tosses no-hitter

WFAN/Associated Press/1010 WINS:
UNBELIEVABLE: Santana Throws First No-Hitter In Mets History

Steve Somers of WFAN (who now sounds years younger thanks to dental surgery last Monday):
Show Open
Interview with Mets catcher Josh Thole
Interview with Ron Darling, former Mets pitcher and current analyst for Mets games on SNY
6/6 UPDATE: Monday night’s Show Open and interview with Jerry Seinfeld


8/18 UPDATE: In recent days, Steve Somers’ speech has returned nearly to what it was before his surgery.  He no longer sounds like he ingested helium.

Unfortunately, Johan hasn’t been the same pitcher since the no-hitter.

Shilts at Houndstooth Pub recap 2 May 14, 2012

Posted by Mike C. in Hockey, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Sports, Travel, TV, Weather.
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Previous Shilts recap: June 2011

Two nights ago, for the second Saturday in a row, I saw saxophonist Paul “Shilts” Weimar perform.  Last week, Shilts was part of keyboardist Jay Rowe’s tenth annual Smooth Jazz for Scholars benefit concert.  This time, he played solo at the Houndstooth Pub, a few blocks north of Penn Station.  It was a busy night in that area.  In addition to Shilts, there was the Bolder & Fresher Tour (Bill O’Reilly and Dennis Miller) show at the Town Hall six blocks north (and two east) of Houndstooth, and Game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup Eastern Conference Semifinals was taking place at Madison Square Garden.  The New York Rangers and Washington Capitals alternated wins and losses in the first six games and the winner would face the New Jersey Devils in the conference final beginning two nights later.  Both floors of Houndstooth had TVs tuned to the NBC Sports Network where Rangers and Caps fans alike that could get into MSG watched.

Before we get to Shilts’ performance, I have a few pictures to share from my train ride in to Penn on the LIRR.

Forest Hills station:

BQE (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway):

A view of Manhattan from Long Island City:

I thought one of those buildings was One World Trade Center, but that’s to the south, and I was in a north-facing seat.

Long Island City rail yard:

Not only was this a concert, but it was also a release party for Shilts’ upcoming album, All Grown Up.  Copies were available, but sold out fast, just as tickets for the show did.

I got a premium seating ticket back in March and ended up right next to the stage!

Shilts was joined by Abdul Zuhri on guitar:

Ken Stacks Richardson on keyboards:

Thomas Gooding on bass:

And Eric Brown on drums:


1. See What Happens
2. Lambeth Strut
3. Good Evans
4. Seeing Things Clearly
5. Sugar
6. Look What’s Happened

(NOTE: I left between sets, but saw the set list printout from my seat.  If I made any mistakes, let me know in the comment thread.)

7. All Grown Up
8. 2 Pesos For Bud
9. Soul Eyes
10. Eyes Down
11. Blues
12. Back On The Hudson

Neal Newman, audio engineer, assisted by his son Dale (not pictured):

Eric Brown’s “Sugar” drum solo:

I left between sets, but not before getting my copy of All Grown Up signed by Shilts and grabbing a picture with him:

Cheers to Shilts, Abdul, Ken, Thomas, and Eric for another great show.

I’ll conclude this recap on the topic of the Rangers.

Just as I approached 34th Street, I heard wild cheers coming from the top floor of Lucy’s Cantina Royale.  The Rangers had held on to beat the Capitals 2-1 and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Devils.

Here are the happy Rangers fans leaving Madison Square Garden to head home:

Game 1 of the EC Finals is tonight.

5/25, 11:17 PM UPDATE: Unfortunately for Rangers fans, like myself, the Rangers lost to the Devils in six games.  They took a 2-1 series lead and then lost three straight.  The Devils will face the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Will Donato & Elan Trotman at Houndstooth recap March 12, 2012

Posted by Mike C. in Basketball, Hockey, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Sports, Travel, TV, Video.
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Saturday night, to coin a borrow a previously used term, was saxtacular!  Saxophonists Will Donato and Elan Trotman performed at Houndstooth Pub, a few blocks north of Penn Station.  It was the first time I’d seen Will in concert, but the second for Elan, who I saw last April with Brian Simpson.

But before taking the LIRR to Penn Station and walking those few blocks to Houndstooth, something noteworthy occurred in my neighborhood and another thing in my family.  It was my mother Lisa’s birthday.  My presents to her were two scratch-off lottery tickets, she won $2 with each, and a Chicago CD.  As for the noteworthy neighborhood event, a curbside tree by my neighbor’s house was taken down by a crew from what I assume was the Town of Hempstead.  They also removed a tree a block north and west away on Thursday.

Here are two before vidcaps.  This one is from February 5, 1995:

And from November 11, 2011:

The next three are after pictures that I took before going to Wantagh’s LIRR station:

I suppose the next step is to redo the sidewalk.

With that business out of the way, on to the show at Houndstooth.

Backing Will and Elan up were Jay Rowe on keyboards:

Kenny Harris on bass:

And Chris Marshak, brother of guitarist Matt Marshak, on drums:

I was on hand for the first set.  Elan went first.  Here’s what he played:

Elan Trotman:
Lil’ Too Late
2. 100 Degrees
3. Heaven in Your Eyes
4. Last Dance

Jay’s second solo on “Heaven in Your Eyes”:

Elan made way for Will Donato:
Will Donato:
New Life
6. I’ll Be Around
7. Jaywalking
8. Always You
9. Funkability

Guitarist JJ Sansaverino joined the band for Will’s portion of the set, seen here during his “New Life” solo:

Will went into the audience multiple times:

“Jaywalking” began with a bass solo by Kenny Harris:

And he had a simple “it’s you” vocal on “Always You”:

That song also had a wild guitar solo by JJ:

Back into the audience during “Funkability”:

He even went behind the bar!:

After “Funkability,” the set was complete.

And what a wild set it was!  Elan was exciting and Will was lively!  I can only imagine how much wilder the second set must have been.  Before I left, I got to meet Elan and Will in person for the first time.  Elan told me he liked my Brian Simpson show recap and I thanked him for the compliment.

On the way back to Penn Station, I remembered that the championship game for the Big East Tournament was taking place that night at Madison Square Garden.  Before walking into Penn, I took a picture of the tournament’s banner:

In the championship game, the Louisville Cardinals defeated the Cincinnati Bearcats 50-44.  About twelve hours later on the same basketball court, the Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers squared off.  Unfortunately, the Sixers won.  After the game, the court was taken apart and the hockey rink was set up as the Rangers faced the Islanders a few hours later.  The Rangers won 4-3 on a Marion Gaborik goal with six seconds left in overtime.

Back on Saturday night, the 10:45 Babylon-bound train was a few minutes late, but I made it back to Wantagh on time.

Thanks to Will, Elan, Jay, Kenny, Chris, JJ, Steve Butler, and Ed Tankus for another great night at Houndstooth.

11:47 PM UPDATE: After posting this recap and linking to it on Facebook, Elan had this to say:

Nice job – yet again. Really nice work.

Thank you again, Elan.  I’m very glad you liked it.

I also got this from Will:

Mike I really enjoyed your amazing blog. The photos really captured the night and I am honored to be reviewed with such passion and care!

Thank you, too, Will.

Jessy J at Iridium recap February 11, 2012

Posted by Mike C. in Broadway, Hockey, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel, TV.

(2/25 UPDATE: Jessy has posted video of six songs from the 8:00 set to her YouTube channel, including two in one video.  They are embedded in the set list below the corresponding titles.)

I was at The Iridium jazz club Thursday night to see saxophonist/vocalist Jessy J perform.  There were two shows: 8:00 and 10:00.  I went to the earlier one.  It was the first time I’d seen her solo since I first saw her with Guitars and Saxes in 2008.

I had originally planned on seeing Jessy at the Daniel Street club in Milford, Connecticut back in late July, but I was unable to make it.  I was unaware she’d be at The Iridium until the previous Monday, January 30, when the date was listed in her latest newsletter.  Not about to let this opportunity pass me by, I immediately bought a ticket.  (6/22/12 UPDATE: Daniel Street closed one month before The Iridium show.)

Before we get the show recap started, I’d like to share a funny thing that happened after I bought that ticket.  The site I bought it through, TicketWeb, listed my hometown, with the 11793 zip code, as Briar Park rather than Wantagh.  I had never heard of that alternate name and a Google search was inconclusive.  I reached out to my Facebook friends from Wantagh or North Wantagh through a status update, but none of them commented.  A comment in this old message board thread helped slightly, but not much:

… While my neighborhood is served by the Levittown School district, I am 110% positive that my development is considered (for intents and purposes) North Wantagh. Just north of me is the “R” section of Levittown, and the Briar Park section of Wantagh; and south of the parkway is the “T” section …

I walked through that “T” section of North Wantagh earlier today, so called because most of the street names begin with the letter “T” (i.e. Twin, Tally, Toll Gate, Tumble, etc.).  So, apparently, Briar Park is a section of Wantagh, but I still don’t know where.  If anyone happens to read this and knows the answer, please leave a comment.

On to the recap:
I was dropped off at the Wantagh LIRR station at 5:30, 29 minutes before my Penn Station-bound train arrived.  I killed some of the time in the adjacent McDonald’s, buying a small meal, before returning to the platform.  The train I was on was an older model, an M1, the predecessor to the M7, which features an automated voice recording – which I do a good impression of – and synthesized bell.  When I arrived at Penn Station, I immediately walked to the 34th Street subway station to take the uptown 1 train to 50th and Broadway.  I barely missed one, but another arrived four minutes later.  Finally, I arrived at The Iridium, 45 minutes before showtime.  Since I was early, I got a great seat: a table on the left side of the stage.  After a spaghetti and meatballs dinner, it was finally time for Jessy J and the band.

Jessy was on the tenor sax:

Her pants look pink, but they’re red.

She was backed up by Jay Rowe on keyboards:

Mike Nunno (“NEW-no”) on bass:

Jon Roundtree on drums:

And Rohn (“Ron”) Lawrence on guitar:

Fiesta Velada
2. Sin Ti

3. Mas Que Nada (Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 cover) – Jessy, vocals; Rohn, background vocals
4. Tequila Moon

5. Tropical Rain

6. Remember the Night

7. Hot Sauce

8. Conga (Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine cover) – Jessy, vocals; Rohn, vocal solo
9. Oye Como Va (Tito Puente cover, arrangement similar to Santana version) – Jessy, vocals; Rohn, vocal solo
10. Baila! – Jessy, vocals

1-4 are from Tequila Moon (2008).
5 and 10 are from True Love (2009).
6 and 7 are from Hot Sauce (2011).

A few songs featured a call and response, wild at times, with Jessy and Rohn Lawrence.  Here’s a sample:

The view from the HD monitor behind me:

Jessy wore two musical hats for “Mas Que Nada,” “Conga,” “Oye Como Va,” and “Baila!”: saxophone and vocals. Here she is during “Mas Que Nada”:

Rohn backed her up:

Mike Nunno’s “Mas Que Nada” bass solo:

Rohn’s “Remember the Night” guitar solo:

Clapping in the middle of “Hot Sauce”:

Jessy switched to alto sax for “Conga” and “Oye Como Va”:

“Conga” vocals:

Rohn’s “Conga” solo:

Miami-style clapping:

Vocal solo…

…with audience participation:

Jay Rowe’s “Oye Como Va” keyboard solo, first seen from a monitor:

The end-of-solo glide:

Jessy switched back to tenor sax for the last song of the set – “Baila!”:

Jay’s “Baila!” solo:

Then, it was Rohn’s turn:

And finally, a drum solo by Jon Roundtree:

The last note:

The end!

Afterward, Jessy and I briefly caught up with each other and shot this picture:

She asked if I still had my blog and I told her I do.  I also met Rohn in person for the first time and caught up with Jay and Mike, who I’d previously seen on bass for drummer John Favicchia’s Dharma All Stars.  Outside of the band, I saw my friends Katherine Gilraine, who came for the 10:00 show, and Kat Sarracco who was at the 8:00 show, but I didn’t even notice during it because I was focused on the stage the entire time.

Going back to Penn Station, I was unable to find the entrance to the 50th-Broadway subway station’s downtown platform.  So, I gave up and planned on walking all the way down to Penn.  I didn’t realize it, but I would be walking through Times Square.  The tourists were out in full force and I was one of them, shooting these pictures:

My last picture of the night was the exterior of the Times Square station:

I was finally able to board the downtown 1 train, but had to walk a bit above ground before finding the LIRR entrance.  I ran to catch the 10:05 Babylon-bound train.  The New York Rangers hockey team had a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden that ended moments earlier.  (The Rangers won 4-3 in overtime.)  So, the train I barely made was packed.  I stood by the car door until Jamaica when one of the fold-out seats next to me was vacated.  I got back to Wantagh just after 11:00, ending a great night of music and travel.

Thanks to Jessy, Jay, Mike, Jon, and Rohn for a wonderful, exhilarating show.  It was a blast!