SONIC REDUCER Drifting into a coma at last week's lethargic Oakland A's<\d>Los Angeles Angels game, I suddenly woke with a snort, dropped my bag of peanuts, and realized what was missing. No, not some bargain-price rookie flamethrower, though that wouldn't hurt. It was too quiet. I needed some screeching Queen songs to drown out the deranged A's fans screaming behind me.
But it wasn't just me the A's and their fans were suffering from a dearth of head-bobbing, fist-punching at-bat music, in addition to a real game. One lousy Nirvana snippet does not inspire high confidence or achievement, making it hard for the team to compete with the sleek multimedia machine of, say, the Giants, the Seattle Mariners, or heck, any other ball team out there blasting tunes at top volume to work up the crowd into a bubbling froth whenever a hometown hitter saunters to the plate or whenever the action lags. Of course, the selections have fallen into predictable patterns: Barry Bonds has tended to favor Dr. Dre minimalist power hooks to usher in his home-run hits. There are the inevitable Linkin Park, Metallica, and T.I. tunes as well as "Crazy Train," "Yeah!" and, naturally, DJ Unk's "Walk It Out," beloved of so many athletes and audio staffers although sometimes musicians have their say, as when Twisted Sister asked John Rocker and the Atlanta Braves to stop playing "I Wanna Rock" after the player's racist, homophobic, and sexist mouth-offs back in 2000.
Maybe we're just damaged, in need of a perpetual soundtrack to go with our every activity and our shrinking attention spans though some might argue that baseball, like so many sports, needs an infusion of new but not necessarily performance-enhanced energy. We can all use some style to go with our substance, which might explain why presidential candidate John Edwards was said to be pressing flesh at the still-unfolding, long-awaited Temple Nightclub in SoMa last week. And why it wasn't too surprising to get an invite on a bisected bowling pin to Strike Cupertino, a new bowling alley<\d>cum<\d>nightclub down south in Cupertino Square, a withering mall off 280 where the venue has planted itself on the basement level. Its neighbors: a JC Penney, a Macy's, a Frederick's of Hollywood, an ice-skating rink, an AMC 16-plex, and lots of darkened store spaces. I stopped to admire the wizard-embellished pewter goblets and marked-down Kill Bill Elle Driver action figures at the sword-, knife-, and gun-filled Armour Geddon still open for all your raging goth armament needs.
Strike, however, was raging all on its own, without the skull-handled dagger it never knew it needed. In a wink toward the Silicon Valley work-hard-play-hard crowd Strike's owners hope to attract, Angela Kinsey from The Office threw out the first ball in the black-lit, modish alley. A luxe bar dreamed up by Chris Smith, one of the team that designed Nobu, was swarming with guests clamoring for free Striketinis.
Apparently Strike Cupertino isn't original: the first one sprung, after a full makeover, from Bowlmor Lanes in Greenwich Village, New York City, in 1997, and went on, according to the press literature, to become the highest-grossing bowling alley in the world. Others are located in Bethesda, Md., Long Island, and Miami. But what, no Vegas? Strike seems perfectly suited for Sin City, with its bright, flash, well-upholstered decor equal parts retro '50s and '60s, both American Graffiti and Goldfinger and multiple massive plasma screens distractingly flickering the Giants game, ESPN, any game, above the lanes, the lounge, and every surface.