Adam Wagner

This is where I write about things I find interesting and (sometimes) why.

This is a country artist who actually deserves to make it big.

The P.S. 22 Chorus’ cover of Phillip Phillips’ “Home” is just a reminder of how amazing they’ve been for a long time.

… and another one. I love the idea of instruments as masts in this one.

… and another one. I love the idea of instruments as masts in this one.

One of my recent purchases …

One of my recent purchases …

Detroit's Different Model for Winning

As we enter this part of baseball season, where bloggers and columnists dissect the 39th player on the 40-man roster, it’s worth looking at how some teams are changing the way their rosters are built.

There were Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera, two sluggers who could destroy any pitcher in baseball; there was Justin Verlander, the ace; there were Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez, two pitchers who would give any team a chance every time they took the mound; and then there was nothing.

As David Roth, the article’s author writes, the Tigers weren’t really a collective enterprise. They weren’t a team playing small ball and trying to get productive outs. Instead, it was all about getting the boppers to the plate and letting them make most of the damage, with everyone else’s contributions just kind of being extra. For context, Cabrera and Fielder drove in 247 of Detroit’s 725 runs — or 38.2 percent. That’s astounding.

Roth ventures that this may be representing a new way of building rosters, built more around stars and less around solid contributors, something that the Tigers have taken to an extreme. See, the Tigers don’t bother actually developing talent for themselves, always swapping it in trades like the one that brought Sanchez and Omar Infante to Detroit in exchange for highly regarded pitching prospect Jacob Turner.

This model totally flies in the face of the way everyone else is doing things, with their focuses on drafting and development and seeming analyses of sabermetrics to make incremental gains. For at least one year, the first of the experiment, it more or less worked, getting the Tigers to the World Series before they ran into a Giants team, one that was assembled the exact opposite way, using small gains to become greater than the some of its parts.

But the Tigers have their most talented players inked for years to come, and that’s plenty of time for the Cabrera/Fielder/Verlander experiment to come good and bring a title back to the D.

The video for The Lumineers’ “Stubborn Love” feels like a very logical sequel to their video for “Flowers In Your Hair" — both are tour videos and, in both instances, "Flowers In Your Hair" is more entertaining, but "Stubborn Love" shows what the band is capable of when it bothers to write full-length songs.

P.S. The Lumineers’ All Things Considered chat a few months ago is one of the more interesting band interviews I’ve heard in a long time. After all, who leaves New York City to make it big?

Even successful musicians don't get rich

Rather than just write a traditional band profile, Nitsuh Abebe took Grizzly Bear’s upcoming tour as a chance to take a long look at the band and what being a successful musician really means.

Grizzly Bear, of course, is one of the current gods of the indie scene, but Abebe suggests that just because a band has been branded “the next big thing” and is standing on the cusp of mainstream success does not mean they are earning what would be considered big money in most professions. For instance, singer Ed Droste is still living in the same 450-foot apartment he did before the band “broke out.”

Abebe’s article would have worked, and worked well, as a simple profile of the band (and most of the first half is a traditional profile). Its strongest point comes when Franz Nicolay and Travis Morrison, both familiar with being indie darlings with The Hold Steady and Dismemberment Plan, respectively, comment on the musician’s plight.

Modern “indie” acts, according to Abebe, are forced to toe the line between being artists, with the independence and creativity that comes packaged with the title, and being businesspeople, successfully selling the fruits of their artistic labor.

I don’t envy them.

… I believe that if we are going to write about life and death, we should not do it from the cheap seats.

—Rick Bragg, in the introduction of All Over But The Shoutin

New York Magazine’s package about Vice President Joe Biden a couple weeks ago was very well put together.
The photos were all filtered/edit in a gauzy manner that at first seemed to place Biden on a pedestal. After reading the article, though, they also made the insistence from insiders that the VP is seriously considering a presidential run in 2016 seem like it could very possibly be the stuff of overactive imaginations.
In addition to providing a long look at why Biden is so gaffe-prone — it turns out he likes the image of himself as a straight-shooting orator even more than some hardline Democrats do — it also shows how the relationship between the vice president and Obama has thawed during the last four years, showing how the president has handled his administration.
If the article had a thesis statement (I know that’s an odd thought, but this really jumps out at the reader as a strong summary of Biden. It almost seems like Heilemann wrote the second section of this article first, using it to organize his thoughts about Biden and then as a leaping off point for the rest.), it would be this paragraph:

But the truth about Biden is, in fact, more subtle and complex: that his greatest asset, what Obama strategist David Axelrod calls his “bluntness and ebullience,” is equally his gravest liability; that his old-school m.o. makes him almost uniquely unsuited to this postmodern political-media moment; that in a culture that pines ardently for authenticity and then punishes it cruelly, his utter incapacity for phoniness (and, yes, his grievous inability to control his yap) endows him with enormous charm and guile—and also renders him a human IED.

The main takeaway from the article, though, is this: Joe Biden is having way, way too much fun to retire just yet, and even he doesn’t know if that’s going to change in four years.

New York Magazine’s package about Vice President Joe Biden a couple weeks ago was very well put together.

The photos were all filtered/edit in a gauzy manner that at first seemed to place Biden on a pedestal. After reading the article, though, they also made the insistence from insiders that the VP is seriously considering a presidential run in 2016 seem like it could very possibly be the stuff of overactive imaginations.

In addition to providing a long look at why Biden is so gaffe-prone — it turns out he likes the image of himself as a straight-shooting orator even more than some hardline Democrats do — it also shows how the relationship between the vice president and Obama has thawed during the last four years, showing how the president has handled his administration.

If the article had a thesis statement (I know that’s an odd thought, but this really jumps out at the reader as a strong summary of Biden. It almost seems like Heilemann wrote the second section of this article first, using it to organize his thoughts about Biden and then as a leaping off point for the rest.), it would be this paragraph:

But the truth about Biden is, in fact, more subtle and complex: that his greatest asset, what Obama strategist David Axelrod calls his “bluntness and ebullience,” is equally his gravest liability; that his old-school m.o. makes him almost uniquely unsuited to this postmodern political-media moment; that in a culture that pines ardently for authenticity and then punishes it cruelly, his utter incapacity for phoniness (and, yes, his grievous inability to control his yap) endows him with enormous charm and guile—and also renders him a human IED.

The main takeaway from the article, though, is this: Joe Biden is having way, way too much fun to retire just yet, and even he doesn’t know if that’s going to change in four years.