Dr. Jam


Humanity’s active roster became a little less interesting yesterday following Dr. John’s call-up to an even higher plane. A special and influential embodiment of New Orleans’ special and influential scene, it remains unclear whether, contrary to his own suggestion, anyone else would have done what he did had he not done it. Henceforth, any nocturnal confusion seems likely to be just a little less sweet.

Frank Deford’s final public words

Almost fifteen years ago, I attended a public lecture by Frank Deford, who applied his winding wit and signature vocal timbre to the athletic matters of the day: drugs, collegiate sports, and, of course, soccer culture, his great nemesis. At that time, in the fall of 2004, I probably was as far as I have been from the person who would later start a sports-focused website, but I knew well Deford’s voice through his NPR essays, which he began delivering in 1980, and didn’t want to miss the opportunity to meet one of the greats in person. Knowing him only from his radio work, Deford’s striking physical presence, upon seeing him for the first time, immediately both impressed and made exact sense; the vocal and corporeal likely never have been more perfectly combined.

His authority in the field was obvious, but it wasn’t until later that I would discover the source of that authority: his print work, including a trove of articles for Sports Illustrated, where he started after graduating from Princeton in 1962, and, arguably even more influentially, his role as editor-in-chief of The National Sports Daily, the forefather to the more recently revered Grantland. Deford also wrote for Vanity Fair and Newsweek, produced novels and screenplays, and contributed to CNN and HBO’s Real Sports.    Continue reading

Picking a Friday Jam

I woke up this morning without a Friday Jam in mind, but I was thinking about the fact that the Final Four gets underway tomorrow in New Orleans between two Midwest teams and two Kentucky teams, and then it come to me. It came like a flash; like a vision burnt across the clouds! I wrote it down, but I learnt right away that it wasn’t an Arlo Guthrie song.

What better than a newgrass tune from a Midwest band about Louisiana? And if you don’t like that, at least you can gawk at the people trying to figure out how to dance to it, or not, as the young gentleman’s preference may be:

Of course, what we really ought to have for you in this spot is a nod to the recently departed Earl Scruggs. Click here for a song and a brief tribute.

The Bacardi Bowl

Although we already find ourselves comfortably inside college football’s bowl season, ALDLAND’s coverage admittedly has been on the slim side. With the Outback Bowl, Sugar Bowl, and Liberty Bowl sure to receive increased attention here in the coming days, we’ll continue the ramp-up with this story about the obscure Bacardi Bowl, which on all but one occasion featured a meeting between an American college team and some assemblage of Cuban players:

I think the Bacardi Bowl was a great idea for any number of reasons, many of which, as exexpatriate might say, fall under the category of “whimsy!” When I think of Havana, though, I think of two things. In no particular order, they are a) my first visit to Long Island, when I flew into MacArthur Airport in Islip and declared that, although I’d never been to Cuba, this certainly looked like Havana if I’d ever seen it (to be quite clear, I had not), and b) the Trio of Doom, a (basically) one-off post-bop/avant garde jazz super group– Jaco Pastorius, John McLaughlin, and Tony Williams– who played for twenty-five minutes together at the Havana Jam in 1979, resulting in one album. Video footage of the Havana Jam is scarce, but the following clip, while not featuring the Trio per se (I only can spot Jaco and the Mahavishnu for certain), should give you a sniff of the scene: