Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.

October 15, 2010 at 5:07 AM | Posted in Baseball | 3 Comments

in 1951 (the only year they all played)

A good friend of mine, Dave Ramseur, a man of some decent knowledge sports-wise, although misguidedly skewed to the Cincinnati Big Red Machine of the ’70’s,  sent  me news of yet another book about my hero Mickey Mantle. After reading a paragraph or so from the excerpt in Sports Illustrated, I stopped.

The story, once again, goes to the dark side. When it comes to my hero, I stay on the other side of the street, the sunny side. By now everybody knows that the sportswriters were in, some would say, cahoots, and I would say acting as gentleman, as regards the players and their, so-called, behavior in the days prior to baseball being considered entertainment.

I don’t have my head in the sand but I would put it there if I could go back to the days when baseball was about baseball and the players stood tall to us fans. There were “hold-outs” for more pay back then but, believe me, we would have emptied our pockets and spent the day bringing soda bottles back  to the store for nickels, if we could be assured that the Mick would not miss an inning. The idea that we would have been on “management’s” side is absurd.

It isn’t just that I am sentimental about these things, though of course I am. If I were somehow to erase Mickey from my childhood, I would be erasing by far the best part and I am not willing to do that.I was put on earth not to judge him but to worship him, which I did.

The Dame is Dead

October 14, 2010 at 8:01 AM | Posted in Music | 2 Comments
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Another famous tree has fallen in the great forest of sopranos who held sway from the ’50’s onward and to many, their like will never be seen again. Callas was the first to go at the young age of 54 in 1977. Then there was a 12 year break till 1989 when, at 83, Zinka Milanov passed.

All was quiet for many years till the heartbreaking news came, on the front page of the NY Times, that the voice of Renata Tebaldi, the one that Toscanini called ‘the voice of an angel’ was stilled. She was 82 and the year was 2004. Just one year later came the sad news that Victoria de los Angeles had died. I had seen her at Carnegie Hall — unforgettable.

Elizabeth Schwartzkopf, the controversial, beautiful and nonpareil German soprano died in 2006 at 91. Then in 2007, for the 4th year in a row, another fell, the great and elegant French Soprano, Régine Crespin.

Death took a holiday till this year when, in May, the mezzo-soprano Giulietta Simionato died a week before her 100th birthday.

Sutherland in 1975

Now this week: shocking because she seemed so strong, Dame Joan Sutherland, the Australian Coloratura soprano, “La Stupenda”, died at 83.

I was cool to her at first preferring the warmth of Tebaldi and the fire of Callas but I was unschooled and too used to sports rooting. I didn’t realize I could embrace them all and Sutherland had it all — when it came to voice. She was a big woman, formidable and that seemed in contrast to her phenomenal high notes — notes distributed with a wonderful largess and power. As I learned more about her, my appreciation grew. Pavarotti (may he rest in peace), sang with her many times and thought the world of her. By the time I saw her at the Metropolitan, I was sold.

Here she is in one of her greatest roles, in the Mad Scene from Lucia de Lammermoor.

She lives, as they all do, on records and in our memories — and that is something.

Danielle Darrieux

October 13, 2010 at 7:20 AM | Posted in Movies, Music | 4 Comments
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This album opened a great door

I came to her backwards. I was combing my Uncle Anthony’s record shelves one day and pulled out an album and asked him who was Danielle Darrieux and was the album any good?

He smiled and said that while he liked her singing he knew her best as a great French actress. I had not heard of her. He was a little surprised and I think that he over-rated my movie knowledge. To somehow get me thinking, he said that she starred in the wonderful The Earrings of Madame de. I didn’t know this film either though I do now.

Before I go any further, Darrieux still lives — she is now 93. She began her career in 1931 and made a movie last year! Before Bardot, Deneuve, Huppert, Bonnaire and the goddess Emmanuelle Beart, there was Danielle Darieux.

Oh, the album? Delightful and I now collect her.

Here she is singing Irlandaise.

Now you know her — go see Madame de!!

.74 Ounces

October 11, 2010 at 6:14 PM | Posted in Food | 2 Comments

0.74 ounces in a bagful

Once you get to know Michael Pollan it is hard to think about eating and food in the same way. In In Defense of Food and in Food Rules he straightens us out.

Now more alert, I was struck by the bag of something that the flight attendent, on a recent flight on Southwest Airlines, gave my wife. The bag was puffy and interesting and worth a look. I was first struck by how light the package was: .74 ounces — less than an ounce.

Ingredients: read and weep

Then, for laughs, I took a look at the ingredients: there were 17. Now you might think that if you were making something that was less than an ounce you could get by with, say, 15 ingredients. Perhaps Nabisco does not have enough people in their company to get the number down. Or, perhaps, they had 17 bakers working on the cracker and each had to contribute one ingredient each.

The marketing people were at work and they came up with quite a name: Honey Maid Cinnamon Roll Thin Crisps. There is more palm oil in the product than honey but the marketeers likely turned down “Palm Oil Maid” — can’t blame them.

31 letters in the name, 17 ingredients to make it, 0.74 ounces in the bag, given away “free.”

The Ocean: 3 Views

October 11, 2010 at 6:25 AM | Posted in Geography, Running | Leave a comment

Egypt Beach, from the dunes

The Atlantic Ocean is a fact. If you live anywhere near it, it goes in and out of your consciousness. But even when you or your mind is elsewhere, memories of the ocean are etched inside you.

I decided to go for a run and to touch 3 different, though close together beaches. Two of them hug the formidable Maidstone Club and have small parking lots and are for those in the know, as they are

Wiborg Beach, with dogs

discrete and don’t advertise themselves. The third, east of the other two, is the famous Main Beach and though it appears on lists of the best beaches it has no desire to sell you. It was here before you and will be here long after you are gone. It knows this.

Running in East Hampton is almost always beautiful — you really have to go out of your way to find dreck. But by running to these 3 beaches I could knit them together in my mind as I ran and it felt that way.

Main Beach, from the porch

The run took just over an hour and, as I realized, I was always running either to or away from a beach. When the run was over I went back and took the pictures that appear here. The beaches were poised to accept one more admirer.

Woody and Bob

October 8, 2010 at 7:01 AM | Posted in Movies, Music | 6 Comments
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My favorite Woody

I want to call attention to one particular similarity between Woody Allen and Bob Dylan

To some, his greatest

 that I’ve not seen commented on.

 Though I am a devotee of Allen’s movies, I’ve often wondered why some of them  weren’t better. They can appear thin. I thought that if he put more time into the writing, do one movie every two years instead of one every year we would have more Hannah and Her Sisters, Annie Hall’s, Manhattan’s and more Crime and Misdemeanors.

Then I read an interview recently where he was quite clear: he likes to make movies but is not trying to make perfect ones. He usually writes the scripts quickly, assembles a great cast and then shoots the film. Once done, instead of agonizing, he is on to the next movie.

Just in the past several months I’ve gone back to Dylan, filling in the blanks — and those blanks include some albums that don’t quite measure up to Blond on Blond or Blood on the Tracks. It turns out Dylan considers an album just an album, yet one more. He often records casually and then puts it behind him.

So, two of the great geniuses of our age, both create and move on and they now have a phenomenal body of work to show for it. I wonder if the rest of us have albums and movies of our own, our own body of work just in different forms — if we’d only think of it that way.

A romance is a record, a marriage, a job another, our sports a movie, our art, our cooking, our father record, our mother one, you name it. Perhaps we’ve done more than we think.

The Half-life of Gifts

October 7, 2010 at 7:11 AM | Posted in Relationships | Leave a comment

I hold to a theory called “The Half-Life of Gifts.” 

Godiva, as an example

When, at the beginning of a relationship, a young man gives a young lady a box of chocolates or a dozen roses, he is seen as different from other men and there is a glow, a sense of good feelings, amity, getting along, letting the little things go that can last for months. 

At the other end of the spectrum, after long years, while there is no gift that can last as long as those first flowers, a custom-built house in Malibu with a view of the ocean might afford the giver a glow for 60 days; a new car, a BMW just off the showroom floor — a month (though a short month, like February.) 

One does not need to be a Social Scientist to see why this is. For in the early days our flaws, while certainly noticed, still offer the possibility of correction. After long years they have piled up and only the most optimistic among the distaff set hold out any hope for wholesale change. Thus these piles appear as Himalayas and, blocking the sun, they make all our gifts grey with ulterior motive.

Victor Frankl on TED

October 6, 2010 at 6:13 AM | Posted in Personal Development | 2 Comments
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I keep coming back to Viktor Frankl and always wonder why I left. Through the wonderful offices of TED come this short (4:29) video from 1972 on how to view man. He took as the source of his thoughts the following from Goethe:

If we … take men only as they are, we make them worse. If we treat them as for what they should be, we bring them to where they can be brought.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe from Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre

Blake understands

October 5, 2010 at 6:48 AM | Posted in Annals of Travel | Leave a comment

A classic Bavarian restaurant for my first meal


My favorite Proverb of Hell, from the great pen of William Blake, is ‘that you never know what’s enough until you know what is more than enough.’ Blake makes no mention of the relief this brings.   

 In Germany, on business I had 12 significant restaurant meals in 7 days, all accompanied by beer or wine and sometimes both, and on 2 occasions a digestion-aiding schnapps. In two meals I skipped desert but in one meal I had two. Until just near the end, I ate bread as if it was only found in Germany and was an exotic delicacy.   

Note the hunk of fat on top of the pork


 I’m on the wagon now and so relieved. For my last meal on foreign airport soil I went to a favorite spot, The Caviar House for smoked salmon in at Heathrow. Being reformed I said no to the bread and, after just quick look at the wine list, I said no to that too.   

 More than a year ago I followed the strictures of Spent, not to lose weight but to somehow become less exhausted. The author’s prescribed diet was gluten-free and though I wasn’t trying to lose weight, it fell off me. I felt good and my clothes became wonderfully loose but pictures of me brought disquiet. I looked so thin.   

Strudel mit eis


 Except for protein smoothies, I gave up on Spent and the weight came back on as did body fat and then our vacation in Paris and Burgundy happened as did my love affair with Chablis and my dalliances with Gevrey-Chambertin. I have not been able to help myself since.   

If I could wear a certain pair of old blue sweat shorts I could, perhaps, go a few more months before beginning new regimes. But my business casual clothes are now pitiless in their haunting tightness – my stomach has fallen. Perhaps if I was a man less vanity-driven I could wear my belt under my stomach, letting it be a hanging garden, if not a wonder.   

Kirschwasser, the final touch


But I am a lucky man as I am sated, no menu interests me. The town of Chablis will have to be patient as I regain my balance. Tend your vineyards, I say to them, I shall return.

Octoberfest 2010

October 3, 2010 at 8:18 PM | Posted in Annals of Travel, Food | 1 Comment
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No entry fee!


Oktoberfest in Munich just is.    

Without probing, I heard comments from German’s that spanned from those who described it in tones invoking the Beetles at Shea Stadium, to one Northern German who said that he went once. I didn’t meet anyone who hadn’t been.    

Well, now that I have gone the minimum – once – I believe that Oktoberfest is so big that there are the many Oktoberfests and there are two. The many is easy: there are the big beer tents, the smaller weiss beer stands, the thousand rides, the roller coasters and the Devil”s Wheel, the sausage stands and the knödel (potato dumpling) huts, the ice cream and the pop corn, the old timey sledge-hammer and the toss games, and droves of people walking about, many in costume.    

even a potato dumpling stand


But as I think of my one Oktoberfest I think of everything outside the big tents as one big carnival and we’ve all seen it before, if perhaps not on this scale. If you haven’t been, you can picture it.    

Oktoberfest has lasted, with no sign of fading, for 200 years because of the giant “tents” that seem like vast halls, unreal, in which thousands sit and stomp and drink and  become, even if they are not, real Bayern – real Southern Germans for a day. These giant Valhallian halls are run by the big Munich Breweries like Hofbräu, Paulaner, Augustiner and Spaten and most tables must be secured with a down payment of 1600. Euros a year in advance. Oktoberfest is not shy.  

The beer tent


Although my colleague and host Thomas Rosenstiel was dressed in the requisite and particularly dapper lederhosen, we arrived too late (1 PM!) to secure a seat in those beerish halls. But we did do a look see and it was indeed a wonder.    

We settled down for lunch in a smaller Paulaner tent and we had half a duck each, red cabbage, knödels and litre steins of beer. This was light eating compared to others but it did us for an hour or so till we became thirsty and, not having to look far, we had another beer.       

When in Rome, one does as the Romans.

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