Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the swinging nightclub for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. So glad you could join us again for another week. Please make yourself at home. Let us take your hat and coat. Bring your own beverage.
BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.
There are no MLB games until March, and that’s only if you count Spring Training. But I will refer you to Al’s great writeup of a great Mesa Solar Sox comeback in the Arizona Fall League if you’re pining for baseball.
Last time around, I asked you if you thought that the recently-retired Buster Posey had a Hall-of-Fame worthy career. It seemed like a no-brainer to me, but I saw some talk on-line to the contrary, so I wanted to see if people agreed with me or whether it was a real debate. Well, it turns out that I’m not crazy as fully 90% of you agreed with me that Posey belongs in Cooperstown.
Here’s the part where I talk about jazz and movies. Feel free to skip to the baseball question at the end if you wish. You won’t hurt my feelings.
Honestly, whenever I’m having trouble thinking of a jazz track to include, I remember that I can always find something by Miles Davis and people will love it. So here’s the title track from Davis’s 1962 album, Someday My Prince Will Come. Yes, it’s a cover of the song from the 1937 Disney movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, written by Frank Churchill and Larry Morey. The album itself is the follow-up to Davis’s Sketches of Spain, which in itself was a follow-up to the all-time classic Kind of Blue.
In Someday My Prince Will Come, Davis returned to the small ensemble that he had employed in Kind of Blue. It was a rough time for Miles as both John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley had left the group to strike out on their own and he had trouble finding a saxophonist who could live up to the work of either of those two. To be fair, pretty much no one could. Hank Mobley, the man who Davis settled for, was actually very good but not in the same class as those two heavyweights. At least for the title track presented here (and one other), Davis got Coltrane to come back and play saxophone. Mobley plays sax on this track as well.
So with Miles Davis on trumpet, John Coltrane and Hank Mobley on saxophone, Jimmy Cobb on drums, Wynton Kelly on piano and Paul Chambers on bass, here’s “Someday My Prince Will Come.” And in case you were wondering, that’s Miles’ wife Francis on the cover.
I actually have a film from the Golden Age of Hollywood to write about, but I’m having trouble getting an angle on it. So I’ve decided to postpone writing about it for a bit. Instead, I’m going to say a few things about an actual new film that was recently released just last month. Yeah, I know. I saw a movie that wasn’t 40 years old. Shocking.
However, it is a documentary about a musical group that is over 50 years old. I watched The Velvet Underground, a documentary by Todd Haynes that was released just month on Apple TV+. I will say, the film is a must-watch for any fan of the Velvets or anyone interested in the New York art scene of the sixties or Andy Warhol.
The main source for the film is John Cale, one of the two original surviving members of the Velvet Underground. Cale talks a lot about his theories of music and about his relationship with Lou Reed. He also is the main narrator of what was going on with the band during the early days. Maureen Tucker, the band’s drummer and other original surviving member, adds her perspective as well. I loved it when she said that she felt it was her job to just be there for the rest of the band whenever wanted to return from wherever they went (musically) during their live performances.
Doug Yule, who replaced Cale as the bassist when Cale was fired by Reed after the second album, is also interviewed, but since the documentary focuses on the early days before he joined the group, he isn’t given a lot of airtime. The point of view of the late Lou Reed is mostly represented by his sister and the late guitarist Sterling Morrison’s widow offers what she knows about what he was thinking. Reed’s sister is a great source for Lou’s childhood, adolescence and motivations, but she’s more familiar with Lou Reed the person than Lou Reed the musician. So Haynes makes extensive use of archival interviews of Reed to get at what Reed was trying to accomplish musically with the band.
Then, there is Andy Warhol and Nico. Haynes mined the extensive film collection of Warhol at his archives in Pittsburgh for material on the Velvet Underground and Warhol’s “Exploding Plastic Inevitable” multi-media art show that accompanied the band’s first tour. Or, as the documentary makes fairly clear, it was more like the other way around: the band accompanied the art show.
Warhol is, of course, also deceased, but Haynes manages to get several interviews with several people close to Warhol in “The Factory.” The two main sources for Warhol and what was going on with the Exploding Plastic Inevitable are “Factory Girls” Mary Woronov (the future star of such films as Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, Eating Raoul and Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills) and Amy Taubin. There are some others from those days who also offer their memories of Warhol and the band.
Warhol is also represented by that vast film archive. On top of that, Haynes tries to present the documentary in as much of an Andy Warhol-style as possible, using as much archival film shot by Warhol himself as possible. There are split screens with multiple images running at the same time as well as rapid cuts from one image to another. You couldn’t do a documentary completely in Warhol’s style because Warhol’s films don’t have plots and you’re trying to tell a story, but Haynes does a good job of capturing the spirit of Warhol and “The Factory” on film while still making a comprehensible documentary.
The late Nico, unfortunately, remains pretty enigmatic with no one to really offer her point of view. We do get a few comments from Jackson Browne, who served as her guitarist and songwriter for a while before he got famous, but Nico mostly remains as mysterious in death as she was in life. That’s probably how she would have wanted it anyway.
Jonathan Richman serves as the voice Velvet Underground fans, and he talks about how helpful the band was to his own musical ambitions. Cale later produced the first demos for Richman’s Modern Lovers band in 1971.
About two-thirds of the film are about the early life of Cale and Reed, the founding of the band, the making of the first album The Velvet Underground and Nico and the Exploding Plastic Inevitable show. If you’re looking for lots of info on the band’s other three albums, you’re going to be disappointed. There’s some, but it’s not really the focus of the film.
I have to mention that I had no idea that John Cale made an appearance on the game show “I’ve Got A Secret” before he joined the Velvet Underground. His “secret” was that he played an 18-hour piano piece that was essentially two pages of sheet music that was to be repeated 880 times. When asked by the host why the composer instructed the piece to be played 880 times, the young Cale replied “I have no idea,” a comment that drew a lot of laughter. And yes, the footage is in the documentary.
Obviously, for anyone who is a fan of the Velvet Underground, this is a must-watch. For anyone who is a fan of the art of Andy Warhol, this is also a must-watch. But I’d even recommend it for anyone interested in avant-garde art and music or the general cultural history of the 1960s. It’s a documentary worthy of the band it is about.
Here’s the trailer for the film. You get a pretty good sense of what the film looks like from this trailer.
Welcome back to all of you who skip the jazz and movies.
Tonight’s question is about the Hall of Fame again, because we don’t really have a whole heck of a lot else to talk about right now. Al wrote a piece last week about Buck O’Neil being back on the Hall of Fame’s “Early Baseball” ballot and my feeling is that O’Neil is the only person on that ballot really worthy of being considered. Maybe if you want to give Lefty O’Doul a lot of credit for his role in promoting the sport in Japan, you could put him in. (He’s in the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.) But then you’d have to put O’Neil in for his role in preserving the history of the Negro Leagues first. Neither one really belongs in Cooperstown because of their playing career, but that’s not really the point with either of them.
But I’m not going to ask you the “Early Baseball” ballot. I’m going to ask you who you think belongs in Cooperstown from the “Golden Era” ballot, if anyone.
The candidates are, along with what I think is their strongest case for induction:
Dick Allen. Career 156+ OPS. 351 home runs. 1972 MVP.
Ken Boyer. Considered best defensive 3B before Brooks Robinson. 1964 MVP.
Gil Hodges. 370 home runs. Managed 1969 Mets.
Jim Kaat. 283 career wins. 25 years in the majors.
Roger Maris. 61 home runs in 1961. Two-time MVP.
Minnie Miñoso. Career 130 OPS+. 216 steals. .387 career OBP. Black-Cuban trailblazer.
Danny Murtaugh. Managed 1960 and 1971 Pirates World Series Championship teams.
Tony Oliva. Three batting titles. Career 131 OPS+.
Billy Pierce. 211 career wins.
Maury Wills. 586 steals, including a then-record 104 in 1962.
Now to be clear, all of these players have been considered for Cooperstown multiple times and have been passed over each time. So none of them exactly beg the question “Why are they not in the Hall?” But all of them have careers that are close enough that it wouldn’t be unjust to induct them.
Now our polling only allows you to vote for one player, and I know that if you were on the “Golden Age” committee, you’d be allowed to vote up or down on all of them. So what I’m asking is “Which one is the most deserving of being inducted into Cooperstown?” And you will not have to get 75% of the vote to win this poll.
Which "Golden Era" candidate is the most worthy of induction into the Hall of Fame?
This poll is closed
None of them deserve to be in
If you want to share the rationale behind your vote or whom you would vote for if I gave you a second or third vote, please do so in the comments.
Thanks again for stopping by. I’ll have someone get your hat and coat. Please tip your waitstaff. We’ll be back again tomorrow night for an abbreviated version of BCB After Dark.