Monday, October 17, 2016

P-Town Songs for P-Town Tom

Last week, I received an envelope from P-Town Tom with a note that said, in part, that he was emptying out his trade boxes. He added a postscript, though, that made me smile. He complimented my blog and said that it has "great music and lots of creative writing to go with all that research."

I'm blushing, Tom. I really am. 

I say that because I often feel that I ask a lot of my readers to wade through the long and often unfocused journey through my mental processes that lead me to highlight a card. Many times, a single word sends me down a rabbit trail, into the weeds, deep into the briars, over the river, and through the woods in ways that getting to Grandma's house would be a relief even if a big bad wolf was at the end of the trip. 

Tom has sent so many packages to me that I am now officially reaching for a theme. The thing is, though, that, with mailings from Tom, there has to be a theme of some sort because there are always so many cards that he sends. I like to highlight more than one or two, so it ends up almost more like a scanner dump than it does a real review of what he's sent. 

So, I came up with a theme. We've covered bands who are from Peoria, but what about songs that mention Peoria? Sure -- why not.

This song, "I Wish't I Was in Peoria," was apparently written in the early 1920s by Billy Rose and Mort Dixon and copyrighted for the first time in 1925. The guys in the video above are called The Banjo Kings. The person who posted this tagged this video as being taken on Main Street at Disney World.

Having never been to Disney World, I couldn't tell you about that. 

This is a pretty decent little ragtime ditty. Perhaps the funniest part is when about a minute into the song, some woman walks up to the band, stands next to the washboard percussionist and poses for a photo. What was that?

For some reason, the ragtime whimsy led me to put up these cards from the late 1990s. I guess it's just that the late 1990s gave us such ridiculous cards like that Burnitz Ionix (which is probably from 2000, but...) with 6 photos of Burnitz on it. Then there's that Black Diamond look which Panini's creative team apparently thought was the very pinnacle of baseball card making -- as opposed to the PInnacle Aficionado card of Dave Nilsson, of course.

Seriously, though, if you don't take these cards with a grain of salt and a pocketful of whimsy, you'll get angry at the fact that they actually still look better than some of the cards that Topps and Panini have been putting out the past few years.

At least I would. But I'm an angry person sometimes.

Now, for something far less uplifting. The band Songs: Ohia -- really just singer-songwriter Jason Molina -- was an indie band in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Some folks call it folk, some call it alt-country, and some call it indie rock. This song is called "Peoria Lunch Box Blues," and it features Molina's friend and fellow Secretly Canadian label mate Scout Niblett providing the vocals. 

This is truly a blues song without being "the Blues." It's atmospherically depressing, and the vocals lend to that atmosphere. Unfortunately, it's also appropriate, as Molina was an alcoholic who died on March 16, 2013 -- the result of alcohol abuse-related organ failure -- at the age of 39. 

None of the cards that Tom sent really go with that incredibly sad and depressing story, so let's go the other way:

The two top cards are the first Topps Chrome cards in my possession from this year. I kind of like that blue cracked ice parallel, though I hope me saying that doesn't encourage Topps to issue 7 different variations on that theme. Dear God Topps needs to scale it back with the parallels. 

The middle row features 2 1990 Fleer boxed set cards of PC members Dan Plesac and Robin Yount. Red borders look good on cards to me. Other than those Target parallels, has Topps ever used red borders? They should. But not as parallels.

The bottom row? Yes, I'm still working on Series 2 of Topps. It happens every year. I get fired up for Series 1 and even get into case breaks for them. Series 2 rolls around and I barely notice it.  The shiny card is Greg Vaughn's Denny's Grand Slam Upper Deck card. It scanned incredibly well. The actual card looks like a cheap mirror. 

I guess that's sort of depressing. 

Sometimes, these random searches unearth some true gems. This is not one of them.

The YouTube counter says this video for "the peoria song" by jeff govednik (hey, I'm respecting the poster's decision to hate capitalization) says that he has gotten 474 views of his song. It appears that this guy has a really cool basement or he's in a really clean, empty, well-lit bar. Every line in this song starts with "the stupid f**ks," so I'm guessing mr govednik really hates Peoria.

Maybe he should leave Peoria if it's that bad to him. There's a pretty big country out there. Heck, he could just move to Pekin.

I single stacked these cards to make them bigger. Some of these cards were made by card companies whose names probably should have also begun with "the stupid f**ks." 

Pinnacle, for example. What the sam hill is that Aficionado set? I may have said it before a few weeks ago when I got a Dave Nilsson from the same set, but that large, disintegrating profile shot on the right side may be the ugliest feature ever on a baseball card. 1995 Fleer is ugly as a concept, but Aficionado takes it to a whole new level. 

And what kind of name for a card set is "Aficionado" any way? Were they trying to capitalize on the whole cigar craze thing that got hot for about 6 months in the mid-1990s? You know, the whole Swingers phase, when annoying a-holes went around calling their friends "money" and calling women "beautiful babies"? Plus that movie was so ridiculous. There's no way that Heather Graham ever gives Jon Favreau her attorney business card, unless she felt compelled to do so since he bought her a drink.

Still, it may be better than simply repeating the same damn photo on the front of the card like Upper Deck did to Robin Yount.

See, I'm getting angry. Let's move on.

Okay, so that's actually an attempt by Bradley University to make Bradley seem hip-hop. In fact, it's literally an official video from Bradley. The singer/songwriter is Josiah Williams, a 2014 Theater Arts graduate from Bradley who grew up in Milwaukee.

So, at least he's got that going for him. 

The song is pretty upbeat and catchy. Maybe he'll rename himself Brad Ley to take a riff off his clear musical influence, Flo Rida.

The good thing is that this was upbeat, so it's perfect for the finale -- the rest of the cool cards that I wanted to showcase.

Let's start with the angry Ryan manurelic. It's cool because it's the retro logo. Otherwise, it's a pretty bad photo of Ryan Braun. 

The next card down is my first encounter with Bowman Platinum for 2016. Platinum was a Wal-Mart exclusive this year. Thanks to the way that the BP set was put together, you are looking at the one and only base set card for the Brewers. There are a few other cards from this set that I need, and it has the full panoply of Orlando Arcia autographs scattered in the inserts. It also features a "Top Prospects" set that includes Brett Phillips, Arcia, Trent Clark, and still-non-prospect David Denson. I'm on the lookout for those cards.

There's a wonderful 1979 O-Pee-Chee of Cecil Cooper that made me wonder if I had accidentally mixed up the cards from Angus and had forgotten to post this, but nope -- it came from the Flatlands.

Finally, the bottom row features an excellent Bill Schroeder autographed 1986 Topps cards and a Ben Sheets Gold Label card. The Gold Label features a pretty clearly airbrushed/ photoshopped uniform and hat logo -- and probably stirrups and socks as well, since his sanitary socks are looking a little powder blue there. 

And, the Schroeder autograph is great because I don't think I have any Schroeder autographs. Despite his being the TV color guy for many years in Milwaukee now, he was always a bit elusive and somewhat difficult when he was a player. From all impressions, he's a decent dude now though.

Tom, many thanks for the cards, and I hope you enjoyed this slice of music! 


  1. I laughed at loud about how mr. govednik should move to Pekin. Burn! It's like you grew up and know all the jokes from 'round these flatlands!
    Great post! All the songs were new to me and I think I liked the ragtime song the most.
    Funny thing about the O-Pee-Chee Cecil Cooper. A guy had about 300 cards from that set all selling for a dime. I picked up a stack and Cooper was the card on top... and pulled it, stuck it in my pile and put the rest back. After I found the Cooper I thought, "I don't really need to look through all of these... I found one. I'm good." Glad you liked it!

    1. I mentioned this on Twitter to you, but I heard those Pekin jokes from a friend of mine whom I went to college with who actually grew up in Pekin.

  2. I could be mistaken but those 2016 Topps Chrome cards appear to be from the $1,500 2016 Topps Chrome Blue Sapphire set. Talk about Topps trying to cash in on the parallels. Unsurprisingly, sets of those cards are still available for purchase.

    The few songs I've heard by Songs: Ohia always cut to my core. I feel like I need to be in a very specific mood to get the full effect from the music.

    The Bradley song is actually enjoyable! Yes it's corny but as far as college sanctioned music videos, it's well produced. Most famous Bradley alumni? I'd say it's a tossup between Kirby Puckett and Neil Flynn, aka the janitor from the TV show Scrubs.

    1. Funny thing is that when I hear Bradley I immediately think "Hersey Hawkins."

  3. I feel a big collaboration between Bradley Tom and Flo Rida.