MediaStrike Banner

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Reasonable Doubt

Last week, it was announced that the Jay-Z, through Roc Nation, would enter into a partnership with the NFL through which he would become the entertainment strategist for the league, as well as partner on social justice initiatives. There's been significant reaction since the announcement, most of it unfavorable for Hov.

I've decided I'm going to go a route that's rare on these here internet streets: I'm going to reserve my right not to have an instant reaction. Yes, in a world that all but demands an immediate opinion and accompanying thinkpiece, I'm in no hurry.

I will say this: Jay looks real wack right now, as most pieces have pointed out. After backing Colin Kaepernick's protests of police brutality, and even quipping in a lyric, "I said no to the Super Bowl, you need me, I don't need you," he seems to have done a complete 180 in siding with the league, especially against the backdrop of Kaepernick's continued unemployment. Still, the possibility exists that Jay-Z is playing chess, not checkers, so we may have to wait to see how this all plays out.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Fresh to Death

From the moment I made the decision to go, I had a feeling Fresh Fest would be my Essence, my All Star Weekend, my Honda (ok, Honda is always going to be my Honda)

However lofty my expectations were, it exceeded them.

I spent last weekend in Pittsburgh for Fresh Fest, the nation's first and only black craft beer festival. I got into town Thursday night, after driving up from Greensboro. I stayed in an Airbnb on the North Shore, situated such that I parked my car once and didn't move it again until it was time to go. I got in right around 8 and, since this was a beer-fronted trip, headed to the closest brewery, which was Allegheny City, mere blocks from where I stayed. Dinner came via the taco truck onsite, and I enjoyed a couple of their brews before heading back to my apartment for the weekend.

I spent Friday checking out the fair city of Pittsburgh. I started touring PNC Park, home of the Pirates (in a Pittsburgh Crawfords shirt as I had mentioned before) and then headed across the Roberto Clemente Bridge for a Pittsburgh culinary institution: Primanti Bros. That evening, I headed back out to catch a Steelers preseason game, where I of course had to catch the Pittsburgh Steeline.

Strictly Fresh Fest focused behavior began on Friday night with a meetup at Voodoo Brewery over in Homestead. There, I caught up with quite a few folks from a Facebook group I'm in for Black craft beer lovers and set the tone for the day to come.

Saturday was the day. My early entry pass got me in at 3 - two hours before the 5pm regular entry - and I began to realize the full potential of the event's vision and reality. The event was diverse by design, and as such was the most black folks I've ever seen at a beer event at one time, while still having an incredibly diverse crowd. There were a few breweries I made it a point to catch, but other than that I was trying to try as much as I could - and was relatively successful. The vibe was amazing. The courtyard - amazing on an 80 degree Pittsburgh afternoon - featured live bands, with a DJ inside. The breweries were in both locations, with food options in both places as well. I got to catch up with some of my folk from the night before, and check out what all was going on from each of the breweries and vendors. The event was extremely well run and all love. I got to shout passing thank yous at the two primary organizers, Mike Potter of Black Brew Culture and Day Bracey of the Drinking Partners Podcast, and dap up Mike. Musically the headliner for the night was Nappy Roots, and they sent us all off right.

Lord and schedule willing, this will become an annual trip. Fresh Fest's existence is to serve as a foil to the overwhelmingly white, male, and bearded world of craft beer, and it served as evidence that the rest of us are out there. I have a not-at-all unfounded fear of chasing that high at every brewery and beer event I attend in the meantime, but Fresh Fest showed us all what can be possible. As to its organization: With all due respect to Pittsburgh, a city I expected to like and had that expectation confirmed, Fresh Fest was born out of the organizers' locale, not necessarily the city's features. If you're looking to gather a critical mass of blackfolk, they easily could have gone with DC and Atlanta. Fresh Fest didn't seek a city that was already lit; they took their city and made it lit. What's more, from what I could see, the craft beer industry in Pittsburgh fully embraced the festival, partnering with collaborations and supporting the event. This year was only its second year, and I can't wait to see what's to come. One thing's for sure - it will be fresh.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Early Look

It's football season, y'all.

With all due respect to baseball, the start of the NFL preseason, coupled with the end of drum corps season, puts an even more singular focus on the football to come. Preseason football has a strange way of being just what the doctor ordered. It's meaningless, sure, but after the six month drought since the end of the Super Bowl, there's something about the familiar cadence of an NFL broadcast that brings it all rushing back.

I had the opportunity to catch the Steelers' preseason game while I was up in Pittsburgh this past weekend. Steelers' QBs battled for the right to backup Big Ben, while across the field, Jameis Winston put in some reps for the visiting Buccaneers. And, of course, because of who I am as a person, I kept an eye on the Pittsburgh Steeline, who were plenty entertaining before and during the game.

Of course, marching percussion isn't the only sports adjacent back in play. Once the games are back... the games are back. Much as the preseason offers a chance to get a first look at your team in action, getting in early is key. If you're keeping it interesting with the weekly action, find a sportsbook that posts lines early. The earlier the lines are up, the longer you have to analyze the odds and find the best value. When regular season starts, compare a few of the books to see which one publishes the lines the earliest. It gives you the chance not only to do your homework, but to either be ready to strike as lines move, or to have your horse back in the stable while the week is still young. I'm sure you've yelled at your favorite team's sideline about their clock management; those early lines can help you keep your own in check.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Pint of Order

Beer is on brand.

I'm in Pittsburgh this weekend for Fresh Fest Beer Fest, and I'm taking in quite a few things that will likely become #content. I toured PNC Park and attended a Steelers game yesterday, and while it needs no justification, the festival (and my adjacent beers) will make it to a post and respective social media as well.

For many, myself included, beer is a part of the Cadence of Game Day, from the tailgate lot, to the pregame/postgame pub stop, to the bottle or can in front of you while you watch on TV. In the context of 80 Minutes, beer has made a few features over the years, both in the context in and beyond sports and marching/athletic music. Fresh Fest is also a fully cultural experience that I'm looking forward to experiencing - and, in fact, already have in the time that I've been here in Pittsburgh. So when you catch this beer content, just know that like loyalty and royalty, it's in our DNA.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Is This Drum Corps?

I tweeted it, so I figured I'd make it.

- or - how I learned to stop worrying and love drum corps

While I still have some curmudgeonly tendencies, I have in general made my peace with the way drum corps continues to evolve. Electronics, vocals, and amplification were once the new frontier, and as they have become commonplace, major multilevel setpieces on the field have made the activity three dimensional. There has been significant give-and-take not just between DCI, WGI, and high performing competitive high school bands, but also other facets of the performing arts.

Tlue Bluecoats' eponymous 2019 program that features music of the Beatles push past the limit of just about everything old school drum corps holds dear.

And. I. Love. It.

The costuming (can we still call them uniforms?) was exquisite. All of the props and staging were used well. And while there was a heavy electronic and sampled presence, everything done with analog horns and percussion was still top notch as we've come to expect from the corps. I don't know where they'll finish on Saturday night, but this show is the people's champion.

In evolving, this show has done one more thing that I'd love to see more of in drum corps. In doing the music of the Beatles Bloo has programmed a show that is instantly recognizable and supremely accessible to a large swath of fans. The corps returned to their hometown of Canton to perform halftime of the NFL's Hall of Fame Game, and I don't think I'm being hyperbolic when I say I don't think there's ever been a DCI show better suited to put in front of a football crowd. Drum corps shows tend to be built for DCI judges first, and DCI fans (a hopefully close) second. This year's program is honestly the type of show that may make a stadium full of fans there to see the Falcons play the Broncos show up in their respective home stadiums next year for DCI Southeastern or Drums Along the Rockies. I hope the activity will continue to deliver.
discussion by

Labels