Sep 20, 2008

Metallica Is Back With : Death Magnetic

Metallica is back with a new album "Death Magnetic". Released last week September 10 th, it debuted at #1 on the Billboard album charts. It was the 5th album of Metallica's to debut at #1. No other band has ever accomplished this. But the process of charting albums has changed through the years so that doesn't really mean much. More importantly it sounds like the old, real Metallica. It's getting great reviews and is definitely worth checking out.It's tough for a band like Metallica to capture the raw power that they had at a time when they were completely new & different on the scene. Totally noncommercial, and setting the standard for Heavy Metal style of the late 1980's. I still remember the 1st time I heard "Master of Puppets" at Lamore East in Queens, saying to myself what the hell is this, Its awesome. It was the soundtrack to many great moments in the Summer of '86. They broke through to the mainstream with the "Black Album" and turned off many of their original fans after that. Especially when Lars wouldn't shut his mouth all over MTV!!

But these are new times. The new album is good stuff, its not "Master" but their best work since "And Justice For All". Recorded in Los Angeles from March through May 2008 it's their first release in 4 years. It features the new bassist Robert Trujillo and the big three: James Hetfield (who wrote all the lyrics) on lead vocals & guitars, Kirk Hammett on lead guitar, & Lars Ulrich on drums. The album contains another great instrumental in the tradition of "Orion" & " To Live is To Die" with "Suicide & Redemption". The song is the longest studio recording on any Metallica song coming in at 10:02. Of the 10 new songs on the album. Seven of them are over seven minutes long.

Track Listing: "That Was Just Your Life""The End of the Line""Broken, Beat & Scarred""The Day That Never Comes""All Nightmare Long""Cyanide""The Unforgiven III""The Judas Kiss""Suicide & Redemption""My Apocalypse"

Sep 15, 2008


Legendery Pink Floyd co-founder, keyboard, piano player, & vocalist Richard Wright passed away on Monday September 15, from a battle with cancer. He was 65.

We all have our Pink Floyd memories. For me it began with the "Animals" album when old pal Darren turned me on to WPLJ in 1977. Then by the time "the Wall" came out I was a die hard. Drawing all the pictures and studying the lyrics. I was a regular at the Pink Floyd Lazer shows at the Hayden Planetarium and at the Ziegfeld in the smoking section of the balcony for sometimes two showings of movie "The Wall". I saw them 4 times through the years & of course tripped with them many times. Unfortunately there will now never be a reunion tour. At least they had one last Hurrah at last years Live Eight shows- "Shine On Rick to that Great Gig in the Sky"..........

Richard William Wright was born in Middlesex England July 28, 1943. He taught himself how to play the piano & keyboards. In Architect College he met Roger Waters & Nick Mason and they formed Pink Floyd. They were soon joined by Syd Barrett. On their first album "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" Wright sang lead on "Astromine Domine" & "Matilda Mother". Wright's keyboards were a major part of the Pink Floyd sound.

Some of his early works include "Remember a Day" "Paintbox" &"It Would Be So Nice". As the sound of Floyd changed, and David Gilmore signed on, Wright became more focused on his layered keyboards, synthesizers, & sound effects. His more famous works in this period are the instrumentals "Great Gig In the Sky"& "Us & Them". Not forgetting his fantastic work on "Breathe" & "Time" (which he sang lead vocal parts) from the "Dark Side of the Moon" album. (The album sold over 40 million copies & was on the charts for 15 years.)
Other great works include essential contributions & credits on the epic " Echoes" (which he shares lead vocals with David Gilmore)"Atom Heart Mother" "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" "Interstellar Overdrive" "A Saucerful of Secrets" "Careful with That Axe, Eugene" "One Of These Days" "Sysyphus" & musical themes for film scores "Obscured by Clouds" "More" & "Zabriskie Point".
By the late 1970s Wrights relationship with Roger Waters was so bad he was forced to resign from the band. If he didn't quit, Waters threatened not to release "The Wall" album. He was rehired by the coaxing of David Gilmore & Nick Mason as a salaried session musician for "The Wall" concert tour in 1980 & 1981. He was the only member of the band that didn't go to the release of the film "The Wall" and he did not appear on the 1983 album "The Final Cut". It would be the only Floyd album Wright would not play on.

Wright rejoined Pink Floyd when Roger Waters left the band. He is not pictured on the 1987 album "A Momentary Lapse of Reason" due to contractual reasons but was a full time member of the band by the time of the World Tour came around. He sang the tune "Wearing the Inside Out" on the 1993 album "The Division Bell" and playing on that tour made him & Nick Mason the only two members that played on EVERY Pink Floyd Tour.

Wright has released two solo albums "Wet Dream,'' in 1978, and "Broken China,'' in 1996. Wright also played on David Gilmore's solo albums including 2006 "On An Island".
On Monday David Gilmore remembered Wright: "I'm so sorry to break the sad news that Richard has passed away after a battle with cancer."I really don't know what to say other than that he was such a lovely, gentle, genuine man and will be missed terribly by so many who loved him. And that's a lot of people. He was gentle, unassuming and private but his soulful voice and playing were vital, magical components of our most recognized Pink Floyd sound, I have never played with anyone quite like him."

Sep 10, 2008

Remembering....KEITH MOON - 30th Anniversary of his death

Keith Moon was best known as drummer & soul of the Who, considered one of the greatest drummers of all time. His manic, lunatic side, and his life of excessive drinking, partying, and other indulgences, probably represented the crazy side of rock & roll, as well as its self-destructive side, better than anyone else. His drumming technique was a rolling across the tom toms & cymbal crashing style, as opposed to just keeping a back beat like most drummers of the time did. In 1965 he put two kits together and played them as a whole, using the double bass drum sound at his feet. He used the kit as a lead instrument and gave the Who their hard backing sound.

Keith was born August 23, 1946 in London England. He dropped out of school and began playing drums at age 14. In 1964 at a WHO show, Moon looked up to Roger Daltrey and said "I hear you're looking for a drummer. Well, I'm much better than the one you've got." The band hired Moon after seeing him practically smash the drum kit to pieces. He would play for the Who from 1965s My Generation album through 1978s Who Are You.
He lived the life as the excessive rock star. Moon was a famous drunk & very heavy drinker known to drink a bottle of champagne & Courvoisier for breakfast.
He loved to dress up in costumes ranging from Adolf Hitler to gangsters to drag. His sexual antics were also wild including S & M with whips, leather masks & multiple female partners.

Moon became famous for smashing his drum kits and kicking them apart. During the Smothers Brothers television show, he loaded the drum kit with explosives which detonated during the finale of "My Generation," singeing Townshend's hair and embedding a piece of cymbal in his arm.
Another time, he filled clear acrylic drums with water and goldfish, playing them for a television appearance. When asked "What happens with your goldfish?" he replied with a grin, "Well I mean, you know...even the best drummers get hungry." Antics like these earned him the nickname "Moon the Loon."
He was notorious for destroying hotel rooms & homes. He loved to throw furniture out the window, and flush fireworks (M-80s) down the toilet blowing out the plumbing and destroying other toilets in the hotel. Once, on the way to an airport, Moon insisted they return the hotel, saying, "I forgot something!" When the limo returned, Moon ran to his room, grabbed the TV while it was plugged in, threw it out the window and into the pool. Back in the limo sighing "I nearly forgot."
In 1967 Moon drunk at his 20th birthday party in Flint Michigan, drove a Cadillac into the Holiday Inn pool. This led to the Who being banned from The Holiday Inn for life.
In 1970 he left a London club escaping skinheads attacking his Bentley and accidently ran over & killed his limo driver. On the 1973 Quadrophenia tour in California, Moon took a large mixture of animal tranquilizers and brandy. He passed out on the drum kit during the show. Pete Townshend got a member of the audience to fill in.

His close friend Beatle Ringo Starr tried to warn Moon that if he kept up this life style he would be dead soon. Moons only reply was a serious “I know”.

On September 6th 1978 Keith Moon, his girlfriend, Paul & Linda McCartney saw the preview of The Buddy Holly Story and went out to dinner in London. Moon returned to a flat on loan from Harry Nilsson and died of an overdose of a sedative prescribed to alleviate his alcohol withdrawal symptoms. He was trying to detox on his own, but there was a dangerous high risk when this medication is mixed with alcohol.
The pills were also prescribed by a new doctor unaware of Moon's recklessly history & sedative abuse. He had given Moon pills, telling him to take one whenever he felt a craving for alcohol (but not more than 3 per day). The police determined there were 32 pills in his system when he died. Moon died in the same room where Cass Elliot of the Mamas & the Papas had died four years earlier of a heart attack.

Moon died right after the release of the Who’s great "Who Are You" album. On the album cover, Moon is seated on a chair labeled "NOT TO BE TAKEN AWAY."

Trivia: Keith Moon is credited with naming the band Led Zeppelin. Telling them when they formed they would go down like a Lead Zeppelin.
Moon played the molesting dirty old Uncle Ernie in the movie version of “Tommy”
Keith taught Ringo Starr’s son Zack Starkey to play drums and was referred to by Zak as Uncle Keith. Starkey has been playing drums with The Who since 1994 and has been the closest thing to Moon.

Sep 8, 2008

FERRAGOSTO 2008 - "Little Italy in the Bronx"

It was a beautiful day on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx on Sunday afternoon for the Ferragosto 2008 Festival.

Ferragosto is an Italian holiday usually celebrated on August 15 in Italy. Its origins date back to ancient Rome as a celebration of the middle of the summer and the end of the hard labour in the fields. In time, the Catholic Church adopted this date to commemorate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Italian name of the holiday derives from its original Latin name, Feriae Augusti (Fairs of the Emperor Augustus). In present days, Ferragosto is mainly a short holiday where Italian people have short vacations.

It's is a festival of great food, Italian music and good people celebrated on the second Sunday in September in the Bronx.

The parking was an absolute nightmare and spots were very tough to get within a good walking distance. But after that was said & done, Ferragosto did not disappoint. The streets on Arthur Ave. were packed from 187th St up to Crescent Ave with beautiful Italian people. Many people who have lived in the neighborhood or had some origins of growing up here always come back for this feast day. It was the most people I have ever seen here as its numbers are growing each year. The area was loaded with cars from out of state as well as people from the other boroughs & suburbs.
All the business' were set up on the street selling their goods and all great the Restaurants had outside table seating along the avenue. Ann & Tony's, Rigoletto's, Roberto's, Zero Otto Nove, & Enzo's were all packed cooking up some of the best food of the Bronx's Little Italy has to offer.

We enjoyed some fresh roasted pig, sausage & peppers, Sicilian Pizza from Catania's, Prosciutto bread & fresh Italian bread from Addeo & Maddonia Bakeries. Italian Foccacia from Mikes Deli, Pastry, Cookies & Italian Lemon Ices from Artuso, Dalillo & Edgido's bakeries.

Papa Lou , Elyse, & Mamma Maria

with my Aunt
There was music on the street, as a young man played some awesome Italian music wailing on the accordion as we were eating our desserts. At first I thought this was a CD until I saw him playing, fine job young man. The side street had a band stage set up and there was some great oldies bands & Italian singers through out the day. Larry Chance & the Earls, & Domenic Chianese were also on hand.

There were even some actors & actresses running around playing out small acts on the streets, jugglers & clowns also on hand to entertain. What a great day to revisit the area, see some old family & friends and eat some great food. See you all next year. Caio tutti, e' mangia...............................

Vera & Ralph Jr. (Ann & Tony's)

Porchetta- Italian Pig Roast

cella luna metza mada......

Sep 6, 2008


Here is a tribute & guide to my favorite Little Italy's around the country that I have been to.

#1 -Boston's North End Little Italy in Boston has been settled since the 16oo's, & is rich in both history and Italian cuisine. Surrounded by water on three sides, it is picturesque from Christopher Columbus Park, to its luxury Condos & the ancient 17th Century Copps Hill Cemetery. Today the North End is best known for its American Revolution historic sites & its Italian Heritage.

The area is home to more than 80 different Restaurants, Trattoria's, Cafes, Pizzeria's & grocery stores. Once separated from the main city because of elevated highways, it is now connected to the heart of Boston with the removal of the el's & completion of the "Big Dig". The neighborhood is great to walk around, not only for the food but the historical sites. Parking is horrible so walk, cab it or take the trolley. The streets are narrow and safe to stroll.
Take it from me some one who loves good Italian food, the place is loaded with great stuff. I have been up there a few times and can only speak for the places I have been too.
Last year after attending the last Saturday night game at Fenway Park, we spent Sunday afternoon in Little Italy on a beautiful fall New England day. As the tourists were strolling & the locals were exiting church, the smell of gravy, sauce & fresh bread were in the air. We dined at Lucias next to a 17th Century church and I had some of the best home made Gnocchi I ever ate! The sausage was also excellent. The atmosphere was sensational with beautiful colorful paintings on the ceilings & the walls.

After that we strolled along the Freedom Trail & the Paul Revere Mall. Following his famous ride from his home to the Old North Church & to the banks of the Charles River, over looking the Bunker Hill Monument. On the way we had espresso & pastry at Cafe Victoria & Gelato at The Gelateria. It was a day of eating and we waited on a long line to taste the hype at the Modern Pastry shop on our way out. Tables were tight but we got one and had some nice cookies & cappuccino. Late Saturday night rocks and is packed at the Caffe Paradiso, maybe the best cafe in Boston. Little Italy also boasts the oldest Pizzeria in America & the oldest Italian Restaurants.

#2 Little Italy San Diego: Although a smaller area as compared Boston, it is also authentic. The neighborhood is truly Italian off the main drag too. It has one of the lowest crime rates of any neighborhood in San Diego. The area is close to the airport,( I-5 runs right through it to the west) & makes a great stop off for a massive meal before boarding the flight home. The main drag is India St. bordered by Grape St. & Beech Sts. In 1996 the "Little Italy Association" revived the area to what is today. There are many single family detached homes, mid-rises, high-rises condos, and lofts, with ground floor retail stores and a few commercial buildings. Many festivals are held in the area throughout the year. It is a booming area and I place I'd love to live.
Everything in San Diego is beautiful with the best climate in the country and beautiful beaches, Little Italy isn't the main tourist spot. It caters more to locals & regional tourists. In my first experience out there, I was very pleased and made sure i went back a second time.
The first time was a Sunday afternoon before a Padres game and walking along we ducked into Phillipi's, which was a deli/grocery store up front and then you went to the back where the restaurant was and it was another world. Low ceilings with hanging peppers, bottles of wine, in a dim lit atmosphere and red & white table cloths. This was like I remember Italian Restaurant's as a kid. This was the most un-West Coast place in Southern California. The food was outrageous, a great red sauce.

Next time we went to the famous Zucchero which was family run as the wife sat us down for some outside dinning on the street. We over ordered and tried bringing some food on the plane with us. Again the food was outrageous, I did not want to leave.

I Being the sports guy I am, I was intrigued at the banners of Great Italian/ American Sports heroes on the lamposts through out the city. From Mike Piazza, Barry Zito, Sal Bando, Ralph Branca, Yogi Berra, etc. I just wish I could have seen them all.

The Capitol of West Coast Stickball is right here on Columbia Street. League play is held on the 1st Sunday of every month from February to June. Labor Day weekend is a 3 day event with teams from New York, New Jersey, Florida and Puerto Rico battling against local teams.

For Bocce fans there's Amici Park. A small park located in Little Italy, where you always find "the boys" playing on the bocce courts. You can also find Italian recipes engraved onto the sidewalk plaques and tables around the park.
#3 Little Italy- Baltimore:
Situated just east of the Inner Harbor at Pratt & Albermarle Sts, it boasts one of the city's busiest restaurant districts. The neighborhood is still home to a large and active Italian community, located near newly desirable neighborhoods like Fells Point and Harbor East. Little Italy's housing market is very hot, because turnover is low in the tight-knit community. It is walkable to the touristy Inner Harbor area and to the best place in Baltimore- Camden Yards. Nothing like going to an Orioles game then a great dinner in Little Italy. The streets are narrow and parking is terrible, so either cab it or walk. There are over 20 restaurants in the small area, no trip to Baltimore is complete without coming here.

Each summer, the Little Italy community hosts an outdoor film festival. Free outdoor movies are projected onto a wall at the intersection of High and Stiles Streets. People bring chairs and blankets and watch the movie from a parking lot located at the intersection High & Stiles.

Last time down there we dined at Della Notte which was a very upscale restaurant with great atmosphere & food. Innovative and Traditional Mediterranean-inspired Italian cuisine is what they advertise and they don't disappoint. Vaccaro's Cafe was also a great night spot packed and opened very late with great drinks, cafe espresso, gelato & pastries. We had a great time there with Pie & Oi and it is a highlight to a trip to the city.

#4 The Hill- St. Louis:
The Hill is the highest point in St. Louis. The neighborhood is home to a large number of local Italian-American restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores, and two bocce gardens. The population is over three quarters Italian, mostly ancestors from those immigrants settling from Sicily & Northern Italy.

Baseball greats Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola, Sr. grew up on the Hill; their boyhood homes are across the street from each other on Elizabeth Avenue. We went there on one of our Baseball trips and found the actual homes. We talked to a local guy who claimed to have played ball with them both. He was correct in saying Yogi was coming to town the following week for a booksigning. Yogi's sister still lives in the house where he grew up. (The block was also home to Cardinals Hall of fame announcer Jack Buck & his son FOX an
nouncer Joe Buck. A Football hall of famer also lived on the block, making it the only block in America that was home to 4 Hall of Famers!)

"It's so crowded nobody goes there anymore." Was what Yogi Berra said about Ruggeri's where he and J
oe Garagiola had worked as waiters, which had become so popular that his old friends couldn't get in anymore.
The restaurant Mama Campisi's, located on The Hill, was the birthplace of the toasted ravioli.
In the photo Darren, Party Pete & Big Den are eating Italian ices. Nothing compared to Bronx Italian ices, more like flavored shaved ice but when in some where like Rome.......!!!!

#5 Little Italy Toronto: The area on College Street is a district in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is well known for its Italian Canadian restaurants and businesses. The district is centred around a restaurant/bar/shopping strip along College Street, adjacent residential area. The area was influxed by Italian immigrants in the 1920s working on the rail roads, today has become more diverse today. The tree lined side streets boast beautiful Victorian homes. Little Italy has also become popular with younger crowds because of its vibrant nightlife and its proximity to downtown. Since the 1980s, many young professionals have been buying homes in the neighbourhood. There are a good grocery stores,bakeries, cafe's & restaurants. The coffee shops and billiard halls are filled with cigarette smoke, and lots soccer talk, mostly populated by older Italian men. In summer the outdoor patio trattorias are packed with people, especially on weekends as the area has become trendy. Café Diplomatico has become a Toronto institution for coffee lovers. Affectionately known as “The Dip” by locals, the café is often used as a set by filmmakers.

We had a great lunch out doors at back in 2000, while on a trip to Toronto to see the Mets play the Blue Jays at Skydome. Hence we met Mike Piazza and he was very kool & friendly, taking pictures and talking with us.