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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Freak Scene

- I saw the band Dinosaur Jr, the original trio which reformed last year, on Friday night at a small (cap. 325) Manhattan club called Rebel. They ripped through songs from their two classic SST releases from the late 80's - Bug, and the particularly classic You're Living All Over Me. They did a few new songs too (a new album is expected next year), but still not a wimpy ballad to be found. (Those two albums, along with their first album, the self-titled Dinosaur [pre-Jr], originally put out on Homestead, were recently re-released by the venerable Merge label.)

One of my favorite Dino Jr. songs, which you can hear on their My Space page, is entitiled Freak Scene, and I suppose that there are some who might describe my destination the next afternoon in that way. Yes, it was another Saturday at the Big A, where the quality of the racing is collapsing as fast as the Giants, and the crowds continue to dwindle - just 3,582 on hand another great weather day.

The plight of NYRA has taken a similar nosedive over the last few months. They've been unable to get approval to commence construction of the Aqueduct racino, and really, doesn't the state look more asinine with every passing day? It boggles the mind how brazenlingly obvious the stonewalling of the project has been, even and especially given the millions of dollars of revenue lost each day. I mean, really, could there possibly be any legitimate explanation at this point for the agreement with MGM still not approved?

In the last couple of weeks, things have quickly spiraled downward for NYRA with their bankruptcy filing and, especially, their distant third place finish in the Ad Hoc Committee Sweepstakes. Now, a group of owners and trainers have sued the association in bankruptcy court, claiming that NYRA diverted some $20 million in purse money to pay operational expenses. And last Friday, as if to cruelly rub it all in, some 25 35! years after the first OTB parlors started to ravage the on-track business model in the state and just one year before NYRA likely goes out of existence, NYC OTB suggested that a merger with the track operator, an idea they've always opposed, would be a good idea. That's kinda like Donald Rumsfeld writing of "major adjustments" in Iraq three years after starting his blunders and two days before his resignation.

It's enough to make me wonder how long NYRA will persist, especially if, as most people expect, the courts will ultimately reject their land ownership claim. I can see the day where CEO Charles Hayward will go riding off into the sunset plugged into his Ipod and singing along to Freak Scene:

It's so fucked I can't believe it
If there's a way I wish we'd see it
How could it work just can't conceive it
Oh what a mess it's just to leave it

- Perhaps the most outrageous of the ideas in the NYC report was that, in the event that there is no merger with the track operator, OTB should get a cut in the fees they pay to NYRA. NYRA could afford the loss due to revenues from slot machines at Aqueduct, the paper states. [DRF] There's a novel business concept for you, that one entity's good business fortune should be used to benefit other ones, especially one that has helped to drive the other into bankruptcy.

It was interesting to see the document get into a critique the TV coverage of horse racing.
"The pageantry and excitement of horse racing also merits enhanced presentation. Currently, the thrill of the sport is all but lost in the standard TV formatting used by the tracks for their simulcast signals displayed both on and off-track,'' the city said in its plan. "Such lackluster presentation is out of step with every other successful sport presented on television.'' [Bloodhorse]


Anonymous said...

Wow, what chutzpah!

NYC OTB gets the NYRA signal for free, and has the gall to criticize the quality of the free TV signal all the while asking that their patronage losses be subsidized by the very entity that needs to invest the money to improve the signal?

Anonymous said...

Dinosaur Jr...that takes me back! For some reason it reminds me of the night I saw the Soupdragons, James and Tom Tom Club all on the same bill.