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BCB After Dark: Do the Cubs have their groove back?

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The hotspot for night owls, early-risers and Cubs fans abroad asks if you think the Cubs have broken out of their hitting slump.

New York Mets v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the jazz club for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Glad you could stop by. We’ve saved you a premium table. You need to bring your own drinks on the two-drink minimum.

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.

Wednesday night’s Cubs win was one of those ones where the Cubs took out all their frustrations from the first few weeks of the season out on the Mets. It helped that the Mets decided to play defense like they were a low-A team. Let’s hope they won’t need any of those extra runs today.

Last night I asked what you thought was the greatest trade in Cubs history. I forgot to include the Rizzo-for-Cashner deal, but I don’t think that deal would have won the voting anyway. In fact, the voting was very close between the “Sandberg and Bowa for De Jesus” trade of 1982 and the Arrieta and Strop for Feldman and Clevenger” deal of 2013. In the end, you went with Ryno by the narrowest of margins, 39% to 38%. The Ferguson Jenkins trade of 1966 finished third, and I totally missed that yesterday was the 55th anniversary of that deal. The good folks at Marquee Sports didn’t though.

Here’s the part where I talk about jazz and movies. As always, you can just skip to the bottom if that doesn’t interest you. You’re not going to hurt my feelings.


A little while ago I said that Max Roach was my favorite jazz drummer, so I guess I should probably make my case by featuring some of his music. So I present to you We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite, released in 1960 at the height of America’s civil rights struggle. Roach wrote the five-song suite with lyricist Oscar Brown in anticipation of putting something on for the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1963. But the events of 1960 caused them to push their timetable up.

The album is a documentation of the Black struggle for freedom. The opening track “Drivin’ Man” represents the slave’s life. The next one, “Freedom Day,” is for emancipation. The third, three-part track “Triptych: Prayer, Protest, Peace” is the most explicitly political one, which was about the long fight for equality. Roach turns to African rhythms on the side two. (Remember when there were sides?) The second side is lead off by “All Africa,” which is a musical embodiment to the decolonization of Africa. And the record closes out with “Tears for Johannesburg,” about the South Africa apartheid state and the recent Sharpeville massacre of 1960.

The album is more aggressive than the normal “cool jazz” that I like to play in After Dark. I certainly could have offered Roach playing “cool,” especially on tracks led by other artists, but this piece is quite possibly Roach’s greatest work, at least on recordings where his name is on the front of jacket.

You can listen to the entire album here [Video]. Roach and vocalist Abbey Lincoln are the only two artists who appear on every track, but the great saxophonist Coleman Hawkins plays on “Drivin’ Man.”

But I do like to show live performances when I can, because I think you can learn more by watching jazz as well as listening to it. So here’s one I found that is apparently from Belgian TV in 1964. [Video] It’s not all the same artists who played on the record (except for Roach and Lincoln), but it’s interesting to compare the two versions recorded four years apart. The TV version is certainly abbreviated for time from the album version. There’s also a version of “Drivin’ Man” on YouTube from the same show, apparently, [Video]


Is Russ Meyer’s 1965 movie Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! a cheap exploitation film featuring fast cars, raw violence and large-breasted women wearing skimpy (or no) clothes or is it a subversive feminist masterpiece? I think paradoxically it’s both.

If you’re a fan of the films of John Waters or Quentin Tarantino, you need to watch Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, as both filmmakers have cited it as a major influence. The film was a commercial and critical failure in 1965. It has since been re-evaluated and now ends up on almost everyone’s “Cult Classic” list.

The plot is that three go-go dancers decide to take their cars out racing in the California desert. There they run into a young high school couple and the leader of the girls, Varla (played by the incomparable Tura Satana) races the boy, drives him off the road and then proceeds to kill him by breaking his neck in a fight. The three go-go dancers then kidnap the girl and head off into the desert in search of more crimes to commit, I guess.

There they hear of an old man, crippled in a wheelchair who has a hidden treasure. They find the old man and his two sons, one of whom is a dimwitted body builder named “Vegetable,” and try to find the treasure using sex and violence. There is much of both along the way.

The subversiveness of the film comes from the three dancers, led by the dominatrix-dressed Varla. Satana’s performance as Varla is so remarkable. This is a woman who is always in control, either through sex or violence. She lives for herself and she doesn’t care what role society has planned for her. The other two dancers have their own agendas as well, and neither one is meek in the face of Varla’s attempts at domination. The men are the more passive victims in this case and the only meek woman is the girl they kidnapped, although even she finds a measure of agency in the end. It’s also remarkable for the time for featuring two non-white stars of the three go-go dancers.

Yes, you need to have a strong sense of irony and an ability to handle camp to enjoy this film. It’s also pretty violent, at least by 1960s standards, so there is that. But if you’re looking for one of the original “cult classics,” Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is one that you should check out, especially if you’re a fan of Tarantino or Waters.

Here’s the entire picture. [Video] I think it’s in the public domain, but in any case, this video has been up for six years and no one has taken it down.


Welcome back to the baseball fans. Tonight’s question is simple. The Cubs exploded for 16 runs on 13 hits in Wednesday night’s game. Ten of the 13 hits were singles. Javier Báez hit a grand slam. The team only struck out eight times, and two of those were by Alec Mills. The win improved their record to 8-9 and they can get back to .500 with a win this evening.

It’s not an understatement to say the Cubs offense has been pretty awful so far this season. They were tied for the second-fewest runs scored in the league before the last game, leading only the Mets who have played five fewer games. Jesse Rogers published an article in which he spoke to opposing scouts and they described it as “mind-boggling” how bad the Cubs offense has been.

So was this last game a turning point for the Cubs offense? Sure, no one expects them to score 16 runs every night, but is this a sign that they’ve come out of the funk that Rogers described in the article above? After all, one NL East scout said the Cubs problems were “all mental.” Was this the shot of confidence they needed? Don’t forget, they scored 13 against the Braves on Saturday.

Granted, the Cubs weren’t exactly facing the Mets with Jacob deGrom on Wednesday night. But that wouldn’t have been a fair test either as no one hits deGrom. So do you think that Wednesday night’s win is going to be the turning point for the Cubs offense?

Poll

Have the Cubs turned their offense around after scoring 16 against the Mets?

This poll is closed

  • 25%
    Yes! They found their groove and the confidence they need!
    (35 votes)
  • 74%
    No! C’mon, man. It was one game against some so-so pitching.
    (100 votes)
135 votes total Vote Now

I’ll see you again Monday night. I suppose by then, we should have a better answer to the poll question.