Clay pots. Seed pods. Teflon-coated cooking skillets. These are some of the oddments musician Steve Roach employs to create a swirling, unsettling sound known as techno-tribal. On his recent CD, Artifacts, Roach combines ocarinas, Australian didgeridoos and floating synthesizer chords with the latest instrument in his percussive arsenal: the wheel of a Cannondale Super V mountain bike. By plucking the spinning spokes with his fingernails, Roach produces a resonating groan that he likens to "dozens of metal rods falling down and splaying out on a cement floor."
The 40-year-old Roach, who finished fifth in the veteran men's class of this year's eight-race Arizona Cannondale Cup series, was fixing a flat in the Sonora Desert when he got the idea to mike his bike. He says that on future recordings he may fill up the bike's hollow frame with sand and popcorn kernels and rattle it like a South American rain stick. "I'm not eager to dismantle a $3,000 bike," the gregarious gear-head says, "though on certain days I feel as if I should be playing it instead of riding it."
A Bawk by Any Name...
...is still a bawk. That's what Rick Zolzer, public-address announcer for the Class A Hudson Valley Renegades, learned on Aug. 1 when he was ejected from a game against the Batavia Clippers. In the eighth inning, after home plate umpire Matt Schaefer had made his sixth balk call of the game, Zolzer squawked, "Bawk," and the 4,320 spectators showered the ump with chickenlike cackles. Schaefer bolted for a dugout phone and called Zolzer to complain. "O.K.," the announcer replied, "no more bawks from me."
An inning later the Renegades had two runners on base when Zolzer played a recorded rally cheer: "Yeeee-hawww!" Schaefer phoned again, this time banishing Zolzer from the booth. "I asked him why I got ejected for yee-haw" a bemused Zolzer says. "He said it sounded like bawk to him."
The Cincinnati Enquirer recently polled readers to name a proposed new stadium for the Bengals, one of the NFL's sorriest franchises. Our favorite response: The Opossum Den. The team plays dead at home, the entrant reasoned, and gets killed on the road.
No More Nomo?
Hideo Nomo has been called everything from the Shogun Shotgun to the Kamikaze Kid. For the Los Angeles Dodgers, the rookie phenom has been Money in the Bank. During his first eight home starts, Nomo attracted 328,372 fans to Dodger Stadium. The average attendance of 41,047 for each appearance exceeded the team's season average by nearly 4,000. When revenue for tickets, parking and concessions is tallied up, the former Japanese All-Star generated at least an extra $70,000 each time he took the mound.
That figure grew even more as L.A. got swept up in Nomomania. As of Sunday, attendance for each of Nomo's last five home starts hovered around 50,000, netting the Dodgers a cool extra million. And that's not counting the cottage industry of Nomobilia. The stadium gift shop brims with Nomo caps, T-shirts, jerseys, pins, pennants and foam-rubber K's. Demand for them is so great that for the first time, the shop has expanded its hours during home games. And the sudden influx of Asian fans has prompted the team to set up a visitors' information booth manned by Japanese-speaking guides.
Yet Dodger marketing-executive Barry Stockhamer claims Nomo's impact "is not as big as people think." Perhaps Stockhamer wouldn't be so dismissive if the 9-3 pitcher were under long-term contract and not preparing to turn his marketability against the team when he seeks a new deal this winter.