Saturday, May 31, 2008

Image of the Day 5/31/2008



Copyright 2008 Matt James

Image pf the Day 5/30/2008



Copyright 2008 Matt James

*making up for more lost time

Image of the Day 5/29/2008



Copyright 2008 Matt James

*making up for lost time

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Monday, May 26, 2008

Image of the Day 5/26/1008



Copyright 2008 Matt James

(Image of the day's two day hiatus was related to annual Memorial Day camping.)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Image of the Day 5/20/2008



Copyright 20078 Matt James

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Friday, May 16, 2008

Radiohead


Throughout my adult life, few bands have punctuated key moments as markedly as Radiohead. Whether it was moving out of my parent's house to an "OK Computer" saturated summer or turning twenty one to "Kid A" or watching the leaves turn in Maine to "Hail to the Theif", Radiohead's progression has coincided with my own. In recent years, their impact on my musical landscape has lessened somewhat, but they have continued to remain one of my most valued bands. I was fortunate enough to have attended their show on Wednesday, this time with far better seats than I had four years ago. At that time, Mars was making its most visible appearance in the night sky and its presence above stage right added muvh needed aesthetic value for those of us on the lawn. This year, however, I had reserved seats which put me in the middle of the visual firestorm Radiohead had concocted. Throughout the two and a half hour performance, I thought of what this band has meant to me through the years and their remarkable ability to continue to innovate, be it musically or with industry shaking business practices. Indeed, their songs from "Ok Computer", now more than ten years old, still sound as cutting edge and groundbreaking as when I first heard them crackling out of my friend's broken cassette player. I thought about Dave, on the drive from North Carolina, asking me if they could really pull it off live. I thought about that question as they closed the evening with an unbelievably epic and atmospheric "Paranoid Android", Thom Yorke's ethereal voice slicing through the night air, and realized that not only can they pull off almost anything they want, but that they have the potential to continue to reshape music for as long as they care to grace our ears with their unique brand of songwriting. They are one of the only truly original artists these days and I feel lucky to have been able to experience their work for the last twelve years, both intimately and up close. I only hope they continue forward for years to come...

Image of the Day 5/16/2008



Copyright 2008 Matt James

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Giro D'Italia- The Astana Invitation

The first of the year's grand tours begins this weekend and the organizers have seen fit to invite the top ranked stage racing team, Astana, in an eleventh hour reprive of the snubbing they received in February. At the time, the organizers claimed that Astana would not race the race to win, but rather as preparation for the Tour. It was a curious argument, and one that had yet been used against any team in the history of the race. In reality, the Giro organizers likely took this position to further their cozy relationship with the ASO. Ironically, it was the much maligned ProTour that raised the caliber of racing at the Giro in recent years, bringing it to another level of competition. Nonetheless, RCS saw fit to align themselves with the ASO in their spat with the UCI and have removed themselves from the season long competition. It is with this in mind that the Astana snub seemed much more about politics than about sporting concerns. It seems that after an early season of stage race domination, RCS have recanted their non-invite and have welcomed Astana with open arms a full seven days before the start this weekend, contingent on the participation of the team's trio of stars, Contador, Leipheimer and Kloeden. An invitation made sense all along, but it would seem that if sporting concerns were the reasoning behind the initial snub, a team should be given more than seven days to prepare for a three week race. A grand tour takes months to prepare for properly and if the RCS truly wants the highest level of competition from Astana, a little more advance notice would have been in order. It will be interesting to see how Contador, who has been on vacation, and Leipheimer, who was in down period of his year, will react to three intense weeks of racing. Only Kloeden, having just won the Tour of Romandie, looks to have the form to be competitive and he very well may have left a little too much on the roads of Switzerland, thinking he wouldn't be racing in Italia. Of course, none of the members of Astana can do anything other than express gratitude, lest they continue to be shunned by race organizers, but they have to see how ridiculous it is that they are expected to be competitive on such short notice. While they have every right to be there, it is yet another episode in the Year of the Farce, a year that has seen surprise tests for fathers planning their infant's funeral, a star sprinter being banned for overuse of his inhaler, and now the top stage racing team in the world being given less than a week to prepare for a a three week tour. Luckily, the racing itself has been top shelf, but the powers that be need to get the political nonsense in order if the sport is to come out of its tailspin and come back into the limelight....

Image of the Day 5/8/2008



Copyright Matt James 2008

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Image of the Day 5/7/2008



Copyright 2008 Matt James

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Image of the Day 5/6/08



Copyright 2008 Matt James

Monday, May 5, 2008

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Friday, May 2, 2008

Photo of the Day 5/2/2008



A brief explanation: In the interest of rejuvenating my photographic career, I have resolved to shoot and publish one photograph for each day in May. This is today's entry.

Photograph copyright 2008 Matt James

Ardennes Recap- The Protagonists

Alejandro Valverde- Valverde answered his critics through the Ardennes week with a strong showing across the board. Coming third in Amstel Gold despite a self admission of a lack of focus on the classics, Valverde showed that he is right on schedule with his preparation. After coming home about thirty seconds down in Fleche Wallone, it would have been easy to view the result in Amstel as an unexpected surprise for Valverde. He qucikly put that idea to rest at Liege Bastogne Liege with a powerful victory. By matching the typically superior climbing of the Schleck brothers in the decisive moments of the race and resisting their chain gang of attacks, Valverde made the sprint a formality, showing he is right on track for July and sending a huge warning to his rivals.


Damiano Cunego- Cunego is a major mystery in the world of professional cycling. His ride at the 2004 Giro was one of the most spectacular grand tour wins of this decade and his ascendancy to the top of the sport was all but assured. Team politics had him working for Gilberto Simoni on the year of his title defense and an ill timed bout with mono had many questioning whether or not that win was a fluke. Subsequent years had him placing fourth and fifth at the Giro and taking the best young rider's jersey at the Tour. These results don't happen by accident. Following his brilliant win in this year's Amstel followed by a third at Fleche, many believe he should focus his energies on one day races. There is validity to this line of thinking, but he continually posts highly respectable results in stage races and grand tours. If he were to rediscover his aggressive riding of '04 and forgo the conservative racing style he has employed at grand tours in recent years, he will be a force in July, especially with the attack friendly course.



Frank Schleck- Frank Schleck rode well, but not spectacularly throughout the week. Being at the sharp end of the action in these three races is no easy task and Schleck is to be admired for his resilience. However, it did seem as if there was a little something lacking from his typically decisive attacks. Failing to drop Cunego at Amstel put him in the runner up slot and despite the advantage of a strong teammate in Liege, Schleck was unable to follow through with the win. It was surprising that he didn't counter harder when his brother was caught on the St. Nicholas and the fact that he had to be ordered to attack on the Cauberg in Amstel by his director is curious. Despite all this, Schleck is clearly a strong and aggressive rider and there is little doubt he will one day win Liege, but he seemed to be missing that little extra something needed to win in 2008.



Andy Schleck- Andy Schleck is the future of cycling. Period. He rode brilliantly in Liege, trying to set up his brother. It will be a sight to see him try his hand at the Tour this year.



Davide Rebellin- Rebellin is phenomenally resilient and his continued ability to excel in the Ardennes classics despite his advancing age displays his true strength. Each and every year, he is a factor in these races and 2008 was no exception, with his worst finish being sixth at Fleche. There is something about him that doesn't exactly inspire passion or excitement, but he continually posts strong results in his major appointments and the ability to do so year in and year out is highly commendable.



Cadel Evans- Cadel Evans is currently enjoying the early season form of his life and, more importantly, he is attacking. It is refreshing to see Evans attempting to make the race and achieving victories through aggression rather than staying power. Despite the fact that he claims everything is for the Tour this year, Evans has spent the early part of the year solidifying his role as leader and showing that he can actually attack when needed. Hopefully, his build up to the Tour will continue its upward momentum and he will continue to use his newfound aggression to make for some exciting racing. If Evans, Valverde and Cunego all race aggressively come July, the world of cycling might see its most exciting Tour for some time.


All images copyright 2008 Graham Watson