New Brunswick New Jersey

Right Side, Strong Side

When I became a U.S. Women’s National Team fan in 2011 and more so in 2012, it was because I fell in love with the personalities of the players on the team. As you may know, they got my attention after their dramatic 2011 Women’s World Cup Semifinal win against Brazil on penalties. I watched the rest of that World Cup and realized how amazing these women were at their craft. It was a year later when I got to know them as more than just athletes though. I watched videos, read articles, books, and interviews, followed twitter accounts, and in turn learned so much about these incredible role models. They had a strong core group of players lead by Abby Wambach and Christie Rampone. They had young rising talent in Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux. They also had several players in the middle of the pack who brought special elements to the team. Some were around for years, while others made their way into the lineup over the last cycle (the 4 years between World Cups). One of those players was Heather O’Reilly, who I quickly learned was known to the Women’s Soccer world as HAO (pronounced Hey-Oh) (O’Reilly’s initials which stand for Heather Ann O’Reilly).

The New Brunswick, New Jersey native made her USWNT debut in 2002 while still in high school. She played alongside 1999 Women’s World Cup heroes Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Julie Foudy, Brandi Chastain, and Brianna Scurry. Then she began her storied college career at women’s soccer powerhouse, the University of North Carolina under legendary head coach, Anson Dorrance. At UNC, she was a part of 3 National Championship winning teams and also made the USWNT roster for the 2004 Olympic Games, where she helped the team to Olympic Gold. After college, she continued with her USWNT career and played professionally once women’s leagues were again formed in the U.S. by joining Sky Blue FC in the WPS and the Boston Breakers and FC Kansas City in the NWSL. HAO currently plays for FC Kansas City. As a member of the USWNT, O’Reilly played in 230 matches, scored 46 goals, assisted on 54 goals, won 3 Olympic Gold Medals (2004, 2008, 2012) and 1 World Cup Championship (2015), out-performed everyone on the beep test multiple times, and displayed a limitless amount of game faces. HAO has been nothing short of incredible. Tonight she will play her final game as a member of the USWNT. She isn’t retiring from the game of soccer by any means, just from international play. Nonetheless she will be missed tremendously on the world’s stage.

With the additions of many new faces to the USWNT in the past year, HAO’s playing time dwindled. I’m guessing it may have played a role in her decision. Despite that and the fact that she was named an alternate for the 2016 Olympic Games, I didn’t see this one coming. It hurts a lot more than the rest. She’s only 31, which is on the older player range, but still not as old as some. HAO was also a part of the USWNT for so long. She was a part of that core group I began following when I became a fan and part of a special duo that most fans of the team know and love.

As a midfielder, HAO played along the right side of the field. Somewhere along the way, which I believe began around the 2011 Women’s World Cup, she formed an in-game connection with right outside back Ali Krieger and the phrase “right side, strong side” began. I’m not sure who coined the phrase. It might have been an announcer, a fan, or even the pair themselves, but it became known among the USWNT community that #9 and #11 in the game equals right side, strong side. They might have coined the phrase themselves because they use it too. Hopefully HAO and Kriegs take the field tonight and play one last time dominating the right side of the pitch. Either way it will surely be an emotional night for HAO’s family, friends, teammates, coaches, and fans who watched her perform for the red, white, and blue. She’s the true definition of world class and represented U.S. Soccer in the best way possible. Thanks HAO for all you’ve done both on and off the field. Right side, strong side forever!

Streetlight Manifesto

Within the last two years since I started this blog I’ve written about many bands, specifically ones that I find appealing. If you’ve been following for a while, you know my music tastes have changed over the years and you also know the bands that brought about those changes. More often than not though, I write about bands that I currently like with a few old band interests thrown in every once in a while. However I’m surprised I’ve never once written about any ska bands (unless you count Rancid since they have a few ska songs).

Although I had heard ska songs before, I became more interested in that style of music as a junior in high school. A friend of mine made me a mix tape that included several ska songs because he loved ska music. We ended up becoming best friends throughout our senior year (even forming a band) and my love of ska music grew. One of the first ska bands I was ever interested in, dating back to that junior year mix tape, was Streetlight Manifesto.

Streetlight Manifesto out of New Brunswick, New Jersey was formed in 2002. The band came together when Tom Kalnoky of the band Catch 22 decided to recruit other members of Catch 22 and members from the band One Cool Guy to make music together. The band initially recorded an EP under the name Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution before they began releasing music as Streetlight Manifesto. Streetlight’s first album Everything Goes Numb was released on August 26, 2003. The group’s second album was a re-recorded re-release of the Catch 22 album Keasbey Nights. The new Keasbey Nights featured a few musical and lyrical changes from the Catch 22 version. It was released in 2006.

In November 2007, Streetlight Manifesto’s third album Somewhere in the Between was released. The album featured all original tracks by the band much like their first album. The band then released a collaborative project album with Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution (BOTAR had many of the same members as the original Streetlight Manifesto lineup) that included an album consisting entirely of covering songs in 2010. The project was called 99 Songs of Revolution. The band’s most recent album, The Hands That Thieve, came out in 2013. Throughout the years Streetlight Manifesto’s lineup has changed multiple times with founder Tomas Kalnoky being the only original member. Recently the band experienced legal issues with their label Victory Records after a few years of bad relations. In October 2015 it was reported that Victory Records filed a lawsuit against Kalnoky for not fulfilling their record deal of releasing four albums under the label.

Streetlight Manifesto plays a ska punk style of ska music. Ska music originated in Jamaica in the 1950’s. Reggae, which is typically associated with Jamaica, was derived from ska music. The style combines elements of Jamaican folk music, known as mento, and Afro-Caribbean calypso with American jazz and R&B. A distinguishing factor of ska is a walking bass line with accented rhythms on the upbeat. Another distinguishable trait of ska is the use of horns like trumpets, trombones, and saxophones. Streetlight’s style combines ska with fast-paced punk rock similar to the style of bands like Rancid, Goldfinger, The Suicide Machines, Less Than Jake, and Reel Big Fish.

Aside from the legal dealings, Streetlight Manifesto has been non-existent in the music scene for the past few years. They’ve also been sort of non-existent from my life for the last 5 years or so. By the end of high school and through college, I listened to Streetlight Manifesto and plenty of ska bands. Then indie music happened and my ska punk days faded away. Even though I don’t listen to Streetlight Manifesto regularly anymore, I still appreciate them and the fact that they are a part of my music history. As I wrote this post, I listened to several of my favorite old Streetlight songs. I sang along like I used to 6-9 years ago and almost had the desire to get up and skank (a style of dance used when dancing to ska music). Here’s a few of the songs I listened to and some you need to check out because Streetlight Manifesto is one of the best ska bands around:

  1. Keasbey Nights
  2. Point/Counterpoint
  3. On & On & On
  4. We Are the Few
  5. The Big Sleep
  6. The Three of Us
  7. Dear Sergio
  8. We Will Fall Together
  9. Somewhere in the Between
  10. Everything Went Numb