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April 01, 2003 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2003-04-01

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Apil1, 2003
michigandaily. com




Gambling narrative
'Poker Nation' folds

By Ricky Lax
Daily Arts Writer
Andy Bellin's straight-to-paperback
book "Poker Nation" is a how-to
guide, expose and personal profile
rolled into one - a good thing,
because none of these elements would
make for a half-decent book on their
own. "Poker Nation" is interesting and
honest, but in the end, nothing special.
Bellin narrates his personal history
of the game and, in the process, teach-
es the basics of Texas Hold'em poker
and opens the doors of New York's
illegal poker rooms. The book also
covers the basics of probability mathe-
matics, the story of Benny Binion's
creation of The World Series of Poker,
cheating with cards, gambling addic-
tion and sex.
Bellin's informal writing style is
appropriate for his topic. When you
learn about poker, you want to hear


A Wh4Stak n,
v~ nWIMO~n
the Heart


the dirt from a guy
he took you into
the back corner of
a smoky poker
room. Along this
line, Bellin's
humor isn't bril-
liant; it's believ-
able, "If he were

in the know, as if
By Andy Bellin


co.urie-o-r a Iunt


Memento's dynamic sound worth remembering

By James Pfent
Daily Arts Writer

A rock show rarely opens with an
act better than the bands that follow,
but such was the case Saturday when
groups CKY and Atreyu were out-
played by Memento, an upstart hard
rock outfit from Los Angeles. They
transcended the intimate club setting
with a tight performance full of unbri-
dled energy, chemistry and charisma.
Before the concert, Memento vocal-
ist Justin Cotta and drummer Steve
Clark talked with The Michigan Daily
about their influences, touring and
their new album, Beginnings.
The Michigan Daily: What bands
did you draw from when writing this
Justin Cotta: I wouldn't say specifi-
cally that we were drawing from any
bands at the time we were writing, but
in terms of listening to music, it's dif-
ferent for each guy. Steve will bust out
the Police and some jazz influences,
while Space, our guitarist, is heavily

into Hendrix and Nirvana. Lats (Bass)
is into Meshuggah and early Metallica.
For me it's AC/DC, early U2 and Tool.
TMD: Beginnings contains a vari-
ety of dynamics: Pianos, female
vocals, orchestral accompaniment, as
well as different guitar textures. Did
you set out initially to make such a
dynamic record?
JC: Yeah, absolutely. Even in the
demo stages, we put down parts on a
guitar or a piano that we knew would
ideally be a female vocal or a string
Steve Clark: A non-linear record
was definitely our objective. We're
fans of records that take you places. I
didn't want to hear the same tempo
and the same key, the same equation
10 or 11 times. It doesn't make for an
exciting record for us to listen to.
And if we don't like it, what's the
fucking point? You have to like what
you're doing.
TMD: Lyrically, the album is very
personal. Do you think you've gotten
that out of your system? Will you
address politics issues in the future?

limited lifespan as a band.
SC: The live show is art, its expres-
sion ... it's our life.
TMD: Where did the band name
come from?
JC: Memento, I just love that word.
We were brainstorming, and there were
300 really shitty names floating
around, and we eventually just said,
'Let's go with the name of a song
(which is now "Nothing Sacred"),
because it'll mean something emotion-
ally to the band.' I just think songs,
lyrics and albums are mementos of
certain periods of time inyour life, and
it just felt completely appropriate.

new to the game, or was perhaps suf-
fering from some emotional disorder,
his absence of card skill would be
Bellin teaches common poker collo-
quialisms, "Let's say you were dealt
QD, QH, (known as the 'Siegfried &
Roy,' for obvious reasons). You raise,
and get a few callers. The flop comes
QC, 3S, 4H. You now have three
queens (often referred to as 'six
Throughout the book, Bellin gives
his readers textbook tips for improving
their game such as, "Once you set
yourself a high standard for calling the
first bet, you have taken your first step
toward becoming a profitable player"
and "Don't watch the cards while they-
are being dealt; watch the faces of the

players watching the cards being
Given Bellin's thorough knowledge
of poker, his misunderstandings about
card counting in blackjack are impres-
sive. He wrongly claims that card
counters "have Rainman-like abilities
to memorize the position of the 416
cards in an eight-deck shoe." First,
card counters don't memorize the
position of cards. Second, not only are
"Rainman-like abilities" unnecessary,
this skill can probably be taught to any
dedicated person who has a high
school understanding of math.
If you want to know how profes-
sional poker is really played in
America, "Poker Nation" might be
for you, but if you have any interest
in poker, you've probably seen the
great Matt Damon/Edward Norton
film "Rounders," which covers more
than 90 percent of "Poker Nation's"
One could say "Poker Nation's"
story and style are shamelessly ripped-
off from the film if it weren't non-fic-
tion. Yes, Bellin's story and identity
were robbed, dramatized and projected
onto movie screens across the country
before he -could stand up and shout,
"That's-my life!"=- and for a writer,
that's too bad.

Courtesy of Columbia
Band hungry! Want meat! Errggghhh!
JC: I think the lyrics that are com-
ing out of my mind right now are
worldlier, more outside myself. I
wouldn't say they dabble in politics so
much, but they're definite4y mqa
social. I'm going to be looking out-
ward more than looking in.
TMD: How important is the live
JC: It's everything. We've been on
this bus eight weeks ... touring is hard
work, but we love every minute of
being onstage. If you can't play your
songs live or if you can't connect with
an audience then you'll have a very

SV sells out, sweats out the Blind Pig

By Joseph Utman
Daily Arts Writer
Slum Village and Athletic Mic
League put on vintage performances
Friday night, and the raw and
oppressive atmosphere of the Blind
Pig - which felt like a sauna given
its steamy and stale air - worked as
a perfect conductive medium
through which the performers and
their adoring fans could pass energy
to each other, counterintuitively
enlivening what could have easily
been an uncomfortable and deflating
Port Huron-based group the Lyri-
cists began the evening's musical pro-
ceedings with a strong though short
set. Following them, AML took the
stage and performed tracks from their
various releases, including the appro-
priately titled Sweats & Kicks. The
League opened with "The Declara-
tion," a raucous anthem that immedi-

ately incited excitement in the crowd.
That enthusiasm remained a constant
throughout AML's set, which conclud-
ed with the fan favorite "Got 'Em
"Tonight's show was beautiful. The
crowd was so energetic; there was so
much love in here. It was so hot, but
nobody left. Ann Arbor's hip-hop
scene is huge right now," said the
League's Trey Styles.
Slum Village - who were the main
attraction and did an eclectic set -
agreed with Trey.
"The fans were incredible. They
showed us so much love even though
it was hot as hell in here," said Elzhi.
T3 added, "There was a lot of love
out there and we had a ball."
Both Elzhi and T3 received so much
love because the MCs did a tremen-
dous job on stage with their live band,
one that performed instrumental ver-
sions of many favorite Slum beats like
"Raise It Up," "Get Dis Money" and

"Tainted." Prior to the show, T3 had
voiced concerns that SV had not yet
found its target audience, yet their per-
formance on Friday may have helped
change that circumstance.
SV appeared to be in a zone,
seamlessly moving from song to
song while covering for noticeably
absent members Jay Dee and Baatin,
the two other key Villagers. While
their attendance would have simply
improved what was already a fine
performance, it did raise questions
given the recently transient nature of
group membership.
Jay Dee is notorious for rarely per-
forming, however, as Elzhi explained,
"Baatin wants to do his own thing,
while representing Slum at the same
time. He's pursuing his own career,
like Jay Dee did, but you will still hear
Baatin on the new record (expected in
August), and we support that brother
every step of the way. There is nothing
but love for him, man. We're family."

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