Thursday, April 08, 2010

if it's not one thing, it's another

Been a long time since I've added any of

Doc Nagel's Top 100 Things

8. Old arenas. I just love 'em.

Tonight marks the very last regular-season NHL game in Pittsburgh's Civic Arena, known officially for the last decade as "Mellon Arena," because Mellon Bank (now Bank of New York Mellon) bought naming rights, but which the cognoscenti know is really the Igloo. The Penguins will play the New York Islanders. (Since the Pens are in the playoffs, this won't be the last NHL game played in the Igloo.)

Originally opened for the Ice Capades in 1961, the Igloo is the oldest arena in use in the NHL. All the old rinks have been replaced. It started in 1980 with Joe Louis Arena replacing the old Detroit Olympia. Joe Louis is sleek, ultra-modern, and therefore dated (ESPN's John Buccigross recently compared it to a K-car, which is apt). The Red Wings have been terrific in the Joe, so that's built some degree of atmosphere for the place, but in general, the modern arenas are soulless. Maple Leaf Gardens, the Forum in Montreal, the Buffalo Auditorium, Chicago Stadium - all replaced with these big box places.

I only attended one Penguins game at the Igloo, despite living there 8 years (and that's a whole nother story), and it was after having lived in California longer than that. We had seats in the very last row, right under the dome. Sound from the ice and from loudspeakers got kind of swallowed up, up there, but the feel of the place was still somehow intimate (compared to the San Jose Sharks' home arena, where a similar seat, costing a similar amount, is actually located in a virtual space stored on a series of servers distributed mainly in Quincy, Washington).

7. Post-punk alternative bands. I just love 'em.

My most recent obsession is with a band called Land of Talk. They are also yet another Canadian band (which has been a weird trend for me lately - New Pornographers, Feist - what gives?). As far as this kind of band goes, Land of Talk has some fairly predictable characteristics: high energy; discordant, angular guitar sound; occasionally screechy vocals; lots of angsty lyrics. This kind of thing can be done very very badly. Very. But when it's done well, and I submit that Land of Talk do it very well, it stomps up and down on several very important buttons in my brain. Very good accompaniment to a drive to the recycling center, for instance.

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