When I got to New York in August 2001, Nate Dogg was everywhere. More specifically, Fablous’ “Can’t Deny It” was everywhere. On those first walks up the hill on Fordham Road to the D Train, seemingly every Honda worth its body kit was bumping it. It was on endless rotation on Foot Locker’s in-house music video channel and those little amps outside the hood jewelry spots.
Truth be told, I was always more partial to the deeper cuts on “Ghetto Fabolous” (“Right Now & Later On” is still a top-five Timbaland joint to these ears), but “Can’t Deny It” was my freshman seminar in the NYC summer anthem. Never mind that Nate was an L.A. dude — a hired gun right in the meaty part of his post-“Regulate” career revival, after “The Chronic 2001” but before, say, “Area Codes.” He taught me how this city could get a song ear wormed in its brain for three months. In retrospect, it might not have been all that different from blasting “Country Grammar” or whatever in the high school parking lot, but to a bratty 18 year old fresh off Metro-North, it felt like an otherworldly phenomenon. Other summer jams would come and go (Just listened to “Lean Back” straight through for the first time in half a decade!), but “Can’t Deny It” would always be my first. Even as its sell-by date passed, and I was making cracks about getting Nate to sing the hook on my outgoing voicemail message, I still had it in my head.
You’ve probably heard by now that Nate Dogg died yesterday. Here’s hoping there are hooks that need singing on whichever plane of existence he lands.
Cho and I got into a VERY HEATED DISCUSSION over whether one checks in “to” or “at” a location with Foursquare. I insisted on “at.’ Cho vociferously disagreed and called me old. Now my feelings are hurt and I still don’t know which is correct.
Yes, the voice is excessive with a little tickle of hysteria in the upper register. But it is mainly wham and whomp. He sees Thomson capering around first. The hat of the first-base coach—the first-base coach has his hat flung straight up. He went for a chin-high pitch and cold-cocked it good. The ball started up high and then sank, missing the facade of the upper deck and dipping into the seats below—pulled in, swallowed up—and the Dodgers players stand looking, already separated from the event, staring flat into the shadows between the decks.
He says, “The Giants win the pennant.”
The crew is whooping. They are answering the roof bangers by beating on the walls and ceiling of the booth. People climbing the dugout roofs and the crowd shaking in its own noise. Branca on the mound in his tormented slouch. He came with a fastball up, a pitch that’s tailing in, and the guy’s supposed to take it for a ball. Russ is shouting himself right out of his sore throat, out of every malady and pathology and complaint and all the pangs of growing up and every memory that is not tender.
He says, “The Giants win the pennant.”
Four times. Branca turns and picks up the rosin bag and throws it down, heading toward the clubhouse now, his shoulders aligned at a slant—he begins the long dead trudge. Paper falling everywhere. Russ knows he ought to settle down and let the mike pick up the sound of the swelling bedlam around him. But he can’t stop shouting, there’s nothing left of him but shout.
He says, “Bobby Thomson hits into the lower deck of the left-field stands.”
He says, “The Giants win the pennant and they’re going crazy.”
I observed a David Simon media blackout in the run up to the premiere of “Treme.” I’m still fairly sure the chorus of people musing on the last season of “The Wire” contributed to some of my hang ups with it. So I didn’t click through to the December Vice interview that my nearly 50-year-old uncle somehow sent my way, and I skipped the early reviews from the usual suspects.
“Fuck the exposition,” he says gleefully as we go back into the bar. “Just be. The exposition can come later.” He describes a theory of television narrative. “If I can make you curious enough, there’s this thing called Google. If you’re curious about the New Orleans Indians, or ‘second-line’ musicians—you can look it up.” The Internet, he suggests, can provide its own creative freedom, releasing writers from having to overexplain, allowing history to light the characters from within.
I’m not sure I buy that the writing staff of “Treme” has gone quite this far yet. Sunday night’s episode offered some proof they haven’t when one character asked another to confirm that Galactic was that white-boy version of The Meters. It’s still pretty great to hear a writer think out loud about the influence the great Google archive has on his work.
It reminded me of a Mountain Goats show I saw last December. John Darnielle told a story from the other edge of the sword.