"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Monthly Archives: December 2011

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New York Minute

Going to the movies in a snowstorm? Now, that’s a good idea. I saw “The Color of Money” during a blizzard. What movies have you seen in the theater when it was snowing outside?

[Photo Credit: Pete Turner via the incredible site, This Isn’t Happiness]

Puttin’ in Work

Here’s Scott Raab on writing:

Anyone, especially in his or her twenties, saying ‘I have no time to write’ because of a job or anything else is full of crap. Writers write. If you can’t find time to write, don’t worry about becoming a writer. You’re not a writer. You’ll never be a writer. Find something else that lights you up.

Same with reading. Anybody who has no time to read isn’t a writer. All the work necessary to learn how to write boils down to reading and writing. This is not subtle or nuanced advice, obviously. I stress it here because of how often I talk to people who seem to think there’s a shortcut. I know no shortcuts. Luck counts, yes. Connections, too. But luck and connections won’t help if you’re not a good enough writer to take advantage of them.

The other factor is endurance. Endurance is a talent. Without endurance, I don’t think other talents mean much, not in a profession as uncertain as writing. Almost without exception, the chances to earn money and recognition come slow. If they do come quick, endurance is still required to build a career. The few writers I know who found relatively early success and kept it going weren’t just good writers; they worked even harder after making their bones.

Words to live by.


What could the 2014 Yankees get for $189,000,000.00?

C: Jesus Montero, $0.5 (24)
1B: Mark Teixeira, $23.2 (34)
2B: Robinson Cano, $23 (31)
3B: Ryan Zimmerman, $23 (29)
SS: Derek Jeter $8 (40)
LF: Yoenis Cespedes $7.5 (28)
CF: Brett Gardner $9 (30)
RF: Mason Williams $0.5 (22)
DH: Alex Rodriguez $26 (38)


Free agents required: 3 – Cespedes, Cano, Zimmerman, $53.5 million

Leaps of faith required: 2 – Jesus Montero is a catcher, Mason Williams, or someone else currently in the system is a Major Leaguer

Other concerns: Derek Jeter at SS at 40, but if he chooses to play, I don’t know how that can be avoided

BUC: Austin Romine $0.5 (25)
MIF: Eduardo Nunez $2 (27)
OF: Slade Heathcott $0.5 (23)
UTIL: Corban Joseph $0.5 (25)


SP: CC Sabathia $24.3 (33)
SP: Cole Hamels $23 (30)
SP: Ivan Nova $2 (27)
SP: Manny Banuelos $0.5 (23)
SP: David Phelps $0.5 (27)


Free agents required: 1 – Cole Hamels, $23 million

Leaps of faith required: 3 – Nova is good, the Yankees currently have 2 Major League quality pitchers in their system and will identify the correct ones and will not destroy them in some weird way

CL: David Robertson $4 (29)
RP: Hector Noesi $0.5 (27)
RP: Dellin Betances $0.5 (26)
RP: Jairo Heredia $0.5 (24)
RP: Chase Whitley $0.5 (25)
RP: Jose Quintana $0.5 (25)
RP: Nik Turley $0.5 (24)


Fifteen league-minimum guys on the rest of the 40-man roster: $7.5 million.

$120.7 + $3.5 + $50.3 + $7 + $7.5 = $189

This version of the 2014 Yankees has the lineup and rotation to be strong contenders, but the weak bullpen is likely to betray them when it matters.

The overall point is that the Yankees have leeway to invest in three superstars for the 2014 roster and they absolutely should do that. I have them re-signing Cano and getting Hamels and Zimmerman but’s that’s just cherry picking the best free agents from the next few classes. To make room for those three superstars though, the 25-man roster needs to have 13 league-minimum players (two in the starting lineup, two in the starting rotation, three on the bench and six in the pen).

It’s recipe for disaster, but an entertaining one like 1987 or 2008. And the other route, eschewing the superstars in favor of a several medium-sized contracts, seems like a worse idea. The 2014 team might be better if they spread the money around (and it might not) but where will they go from there if they are constrained by a bunch of middling contracts? If this has to be the way they proceed, I say grab the stars when they appear and fill in the rest later.

So the topic to Banter, which three stars should be Yankees before 2014?

(A note on methodology. I used Cot’s as the basis for the Yankees 2014 obligations. And I used the following quote from the AP for the basis of payroll calculation in general:

Payroll figures are for 40-man rosters and include salaries and prorated shares of signing bonuses, earned incentive bonuses, non-cash compensation, buyouts of unexercised options and cash transactions, such as money included in trades. In some cases, parts of salaries that are deferred are discounted to reflect present-day values.

I realize that the salary figures might be off slightly. In fact Cot’s has the Yankees 2011 payroll as $207 million while the AP story has them at $216 million and reverse engineering their tax bill of $13.9 million gets you to $212.75 million. I think the actual numbers won’t be far enough away from Cot’s to render the above meaningless.)
(Salary Information Courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts)
(Photos via scienceblogs.com and medimanage.com)

There it is, Black and White

Check out these beautiful pictures…

by Christian Coigny

at Everyday I Show.

On the Mend

Alex Rodriguez had surgery on his right knee last month. In Germany. Mike Puma has the exclusive story in the Post.

Oh, and his shoulder too.

Taster’s Cherce

Oh, it ain’t over…

Couple of more days of drool-worthy sweetness before that New Year’s resolution diet kicks in.

[Photo Credit: A Spoon Full of Sugar]

Morning Art

“Seated Woman,” By Richard Diebenkorn (1963)

Beat of the Day

Looking through some old papers last night I was reminded that yesterday was the anniversary of the first concert I ever saw. December 27, 1983. The Kinks, at Roseland Ballroom. Cyndi Lauper, opening act.

Million Dollar Movie

The Film Forum is showing a beautiful new 35 mm print of Chaplin’s classic, “The Gold Rush” through this Thursday. If you’ve never seen it on the big screen and you have the time, step to this.

Taster’s Cherce

Yet another fine reason to sweat my mom’s home town.

From the New York Times: Brussels: The Chocolate Trail.

[Photo Credit: Birgit Whelan]

Par Avion

My Dad’s family wrote letters, lots of them. And saved them, too. My father taught my sister, brother, and me how to write letters and to value them, not just as a way of saying “thank you” for a gift but as a way of communicating. I think he preferred writing letters to talking–and he loved to talk–because in a letter he could be more exact and clear than he could in person or over the phone.  He often was so infatuated with his words that his style, the way he phrased things, became more important than what he said. And he typed his letters always.

I’ll never forget the delicate “Par Avion” envelopes that came from my mom’s family in Belgium, either. They were handwritten and in French but still, they were small treasures, slightly mysterious, always full of promise. Getting a letter made me feel special.  After all, someone had taken the time to sit down, write out their thoughts, put the paper in an envelope, place a stamp on it, then drop it in a mailbox.

I write letters occasionally now, a few people I know don’t use e-mail and that’s the best way to get them. Some e-mails I write as letters, and it’s only recently that I’ve broken the habit of starting each e-mail, “Dear so-and-so.” I was told that wasn’t appropriate for business e-mails, go figure.

I got to thinking about letters the other day after reading this Talk of the Town piece by Roger Angell in The New Yorker:

Letters aren’t exactly going away. Condolence letters can’t be sent out from our laptops, and maybe not love letters, either, because e-mail is so leaky. Secrets—an expected baby, a lowdown joke, a killer piece of gossip—require a stamp and a sealed flap, and perhaps apologies do as well (“I don’t know what came over me”). Not much else. E-mail is cheap, and the message is done and delivered almost as quickly as the thought of it. The sense that something’s been lost can produce the glimmering notion that overnight mail itself must have been a sign of thrilling modernity once. The penny post (with its stamps and its uniform rates) arrived in the United Kingdom in 1840, and in the decade that followed Anthony Trollope, a postal inspector, was travelling all over Ireland on the swift new express trains and persistent locals, to make sure that every letter, wherever bound, was actually being delivered the next day. On those same trains, he sat and wrote novels, and in the novels dukes and barristers and young M.P.s and wary heiresses and country doctors were writing letters that moved the plot along or reversed it or tilted it in some way. The restless energy of Victorian times, there and here at home, demanded fresh news and lots of it. I myself can recall the four-o’clock-in-the-afternoon arrival of the second mail of the day at our house when I was a boy, and the resultant changes of evening plans.

If we stop writing letters, who will keep our history or dare venture upon a biography? George Washington, Oscar Wilde, T. E. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, E. B. White, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Vera Nabokov, J. P. Morgan—if any of these vivid predecessors still belong to us in some fragmented private way, it’s because of their letters or diaries (which are letters to ourselves) or thanks to some strong biography built on a ledge of letters. Twenty years ago, many of us got a whole new sense of the Civil War while watching and listening to Ken Burns’s nine-part television documentary, which took its poignant tone from the recital of Union and Confederate soldiers’ letters home. G.I.s in the Second World War wrote home on fold-over V-Mail sheets. Troops in Afghanistan and, until lately, Iraq keep up by Skype and Facebook, and in some sense are not away at all.

[Photo Credits: The Terrier and Lobster]

Beat of the Day

So sweet. Introduced in the 1925 Broadway production: “No, No, Nanette.” Performed here by Nat King Cole.

[Photo Credit: Amitti Rubati]

New York Minute

Do you want to know a secret?

Here’s a good one via Kottke. Picture by Geoff Manaugh.

Morning Art


Still from the movie, Le Retour à la Raison (Return to Reason), directed by Man Ray.

Let Me Tell You How It Will Be

Over at Baseball Musings our old pal David Pinto suggests that the reason for the Yankees’ lack of spending could be because they don’t want to get hit with a major tax rate in a few years.

Come On Back Now, Y’Hear

Some lucky bastards have the whole week off. Others schlepped back to town today and will be back to work tomorrow.

We’ll be here for everyone cause that’s just how we roll.

[Photo Credit: Ermetiho]

Taster’s Cherce

My sister’s slammin’ Christmas cookies.

There she is–my twin!–to the right, pictured with the wife and the nephew.

Picks and Pans

Over at Salon.com, check out this gallery of the Muppets’ 20 greatest musical moments.


Merry Everything

Sippin’ egg nog and…

Nora’s Freezin’ on the Trolley

From the great Walt Kelly:

Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla walla, Wash., an’ Kalamazoo!
Nora’s freezin’ on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley’garoo!

Don’t we know archaic barrel,
Lullaby lilla boy, Louisville Lou?
Trolley Molly don’t love Harold,
Boola boola Pensacoola hullabaloo!

Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Polly wolly cracker n’ too-da-loo!
Donkey Bonny brays a carol,
Antelope Cantaloup, ‘lope with you!

Hunky Dory’s pop is lolly gaggin’ on the wagon,
Willy, folly go through!
Chollie’s collie barks at Barrow,
Harum scarum five alarum bung-a-loo!

Duck us all in bowls of barley,
Ninky dinky dink an’ polly voo!
Chilly Filly’s name is Chollie,
Chollie Filly’s jolly chilly view halloo!

Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Double-bubble, toyland trouble! Woof, Woof, Woof!
Tizzy seas on melon collie!
Dibble-dabble, scribble-scrabble! Goof, Goof, Goof!

And from the Library of America’s site, here’s Washington Irving’s story, “The Christmas Dinner.”

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver