"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Monthly Archives: May 2013

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Street Team

Our pal Diane Firstman hipped me to this post of 28 Impressive Examples of street art from around the world. From So Bad So Good.

Morning Art

Painting by Till Rabus.

Find the Gesture

Nice piece in the Times by Rachel Howard about how writing is like drawing:

Five years ago, I walked into a third-floor art studio on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, climbed atop a wooden stage covered in stained padding and dropped my ratty yellow bathrobe. A panel of strangers asked me to pose, and then to freeze. I had never modeled for artists, and had no idea how I would feel standing naked as people I had just met stared at me. The idea held some bohemian appeal, but more urgently, I needed to supplement my income as a freelance writer while I worked on a novel.

I made the cut, and became a member of the Bay Area Models Guild. I had hoped this gig might earn me grocery money. I soon grew to love the freedom and strange relinquishment of status that comes from offering your nude presence to artists. What surprised me the most, though, was how profoundly it changed my writing life.

Soon I was sent out on bookings, mostly to introductory college drawing classes. The professor’s approach was always the same. I was asked to do many sets of active one- or two-minute poses.

“Find the gesture!” the instructor would shout, as the would-be artists sketched. “What is the essence of that pose? How does that pose feel to the model? The whole pose — quick, quick! No, not the arm or the leg. The line of the energy. What is that pose about? Step back and see it — really see it — whole.” And then, my timer beeped, I moved to a new pose and the students furiously flipped to a clean page.

This “gesture” idea was fundamental. In painting classes, where I held the same pose for three hours (with frequent five-minute breaks, thank God), the paintings that looked most alive were built on top of a good gesture sketch, a first-step, quick-and-dirty drawing in which many crucial decisions about placement, perspective and emphasis were made intuitively.

In a gesture drawing, a whole arm that didn’t matter much might be just a smudgy slash, while a line that captured the twist of a spine might stand in sharp, carefully observed relief. The “gesture” was the line of organic connection within the body, the trace of kinetic cause-and-effect that made the figure a live human being rather than a corpse of stitched-together parts. If you “found the gesture,” you found life.

Taster’s Cherce

Alexandra gives us Rhubarb Buckle. Oh Hell yeah.

Beat of the Day

The Big Fella.

[Photo Via: Rubber Square]

Murphy’s Law

Are there sports fans out there that believe good things will happen to their team? Oh, I’m sure there are, and if you root for the Yankees, you’ll find a healthy group of them and why not?

Not me. I plan for the worst and am pleased when things go well. So going into this week I figured Mariano Rivera was due to blow his first save of the season against either the Mets or the Red Sox. When the Mets had Rivera throw out the first pitch to last night’s game, well, my neurotic clock was set in motion.

Really, it’s all Brett Gardner’s fault (well, technically, it’s still Alex Rodriguez’s fault but that goes without saying). On Monday, he robbed Daniel Murphy of a home run and Murphy later got the game-winning hit. Gardner robbed Murphy again last night, not of a home run but at least a double, and so when Murphy dumped a double against Rivera to lead-off the bottom of the 9th, Yankee fans knew the improbable was about to happen. At least I did. I watched the rest of the game without sound.

Two base hits later the Mets had a 2-1 win spoiling a terrific performance by Hiroki Kuroda (seven scoreless innings).

Matt Harvey was great, too, allowing one run in 8 innings.

It was a good game with a great ending for the Mets. And it was a tough night of sleep for Yankee fans, at least this one.

Sparks Flyin’

It’s raining but let’s hope they get this one in: Hiroki Kuroda vs. Matt Harvey.

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
David Adams 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Reid Brignac SS
Chris Stewart C
Hiroki Kuroda SP

Never mind the Phenom: Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Photo Credit: Simon Davidson]


Sometimes Tuesdays feel like Mondays.

Picture by Liz Devine.

New York Minute


Over at Wired, Tim De Chant has a piece on how engineers are building a new railroad under NYC.

[Photo Credit: Dean Kaufman]

Taster’s Cherce

Smitten Kitchen does pickled carrot sticks. And I says, “Sho.”


Yeah, the Spurs are pretty good, huh?

[Photo Credit: Christopher Vu]

Morning Art

Painting by Sin-Amber.

Beat of the Day

From Matt B…

[Photo Credit: Robert Van Der Hilst]

Watch the Closing Door

When Michael Kay informed us that the Yankee bullpen has been outstanding in the month of May the game was tied 1-1 in the 8th inning. Jonathan Niese and Phil Hughes both pitched well. The Yanks scored their run thanks to Lucas Duda misplaying a short fly ball by Brett Gardner into a triple (he scored on a base hit by Jayson Nix); the Mets tied it up an inning later on a long solo home run by David Wright. It could have been worse for Hughes but Gardner ended the sixth with a beautiful catch robbing Daniel Murphy of a two-run homer.

So with the reliable David Robertson in the game, bottom of the 8th, Michael Kay was just reporting the facts when he told us how well the Yankee bullpen has been. But as any self-respecting Yankee fan–already agitated at the way the game was shaping up and seeking to pin their frustration on a fatheaded announcer–well knew, that meant something had to give. Course it was Robertson. He didn’t get bombed but a one-out bloop double, a walk, and a solid single up the middle by Murphy–ah, sweet revenge–gave the Mets a humble 2-1 lead.

It was enough as Bobby Parnell set the Yanks down without incident in the 9th. And so with the imposing young Matt Harvey looming tomorrow the Mets take the first game of the Subway Serious as the Yanks slip out of first place.

[Photo Via: The Retrologist]

That Time of Year Again

Yanks-Mets this week. First two are out in Queens.

It’s Phil Hughes which spells hope for Los Mets.

Brett Gardner CF
Jayson Nix SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
David Adams 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Chris Stewart C
Phil Hughes SP

Never mind the nonsense:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

The Big Hurt

Chad Jennings has the post-game reaction to C.C. Sabathia’s latest performance:

“I’m hurting the team. I’m not helping the team out. I just need to get better. … With this crew, this team that we have, we battle to the end. We did it tonight. I just didn’t give us a chance. Just not being able to keep the game close and giving these guys a chance to feel like they can come back and win the game.”

[Photo Credit: N.Y. Daily News]


C.C. Sabathia’s next start is scheduled for Friday against the Red Sox. There will be plenty of time to consider what’s wrong with the Big Man who followed-up a pair of mediocre starts today with an ass-whuppin’ in Tampa. Gave up seven runs, his worst outing of the season, and got his tits lit proper. Gunna be a long week for C.C.

Alex Cobb was terrific and the Rays sailed to a 8-3 win, despite a mini-rally by the Yanks in the 9th.

[Photo Credit: John Ogden]

Yeah, We Want Some More

Alex Cobb pitched a great game against the Yankees last month. Today, he goes against C.C. Sabathia who has been solid but far from terrific so far in 2013.

Here’s hoping we see something stellar from C.C. this afternoon as the Yanks go for the sweep.

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Travis Hafner DH
Lyle Overbay 1B
David Adams 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Jayson Nix SS
Austin Romine C

Never mind the week ahead against the Mets and Red Sox:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Photograph by Gabi Ben Avraham]

True Grit

Guest Post

By Peter Richmond

It’s a terrifying patrol, psychologically: Single file through torrential-rain jungle, holding your M-1 dating back to the previous war because the Department of the Navy , in the marines’ first Pacific battle, had yet to provide the First Division on Guadalacanal with a modern rifle. Spiderwebs – and huge spiders — snagging your face, snakes underfoot. Now a shot rings out from above, from the impenetrable jungle cover, and the man two yards in front of you, maybe the buddy you were singing with as he played the guitar the night before back in camp, drops like a stone, dead, shot right through the heart.

The rest of the platoon shoots up at the tree cover, blindly, but no sniper plummets, because the shooter had strapped himself in up there for that very reason, knowing that the marines, even if they’ve killed him, wouldn’t know it, and would keep wasting ammunition.

The file then stops shooting, and starts moving again.

When my father landed on Guadalcanal, commander of G company, 2d battalion, 5th Regiment, First Marine Division, he had 151 men. When they left 4 months later, 60 were able to walk off under their own power.

“He prayed that he’d get it, that he’d be killed, instead of so many young beautiful young lieutenants,” my mother told me. “He said it was so horrible to call and say, `I need two more lieutenants.'”

When he got home, one of 89 men to win two Silver Stars in the entire war, and moved to Yonkers, then Bronxville, from where he’d commute to Long Island City to run the family’s struggling paper-bag manufacturing company out of one floor of an old factory just off the 7 train, he never spoke to his kids of his war.

But his men did, fifty years later, at a convention in Vegas. “You’re Tom Richmond’s son? Get a drink, and sit down,” said the men of G-2-5 who’d lived, usually at about 10 in the morning, when the bar opened. They’d sit there most of the day, not saying a whole lot, never getting drunk, trying to convince themselves that their guilt at having lived, half a century later, was okay, when their friends of half a century ago never made it off an island no one had ever heard of.

“Your father had a horseshoe up his ass,” one said to me. “He was the luckiest sonofobitch. He’d start walking toward the fire, and look back, and say, `Come on,’ and we’d say, `What the hell are you doing, captain?’ Other officers didn’t go out there first. He always did. Never took a bullet, did he?”

No, I said, he never did.

“There was a banquet at the Waldorf once,” another told me. “They had him seated up at one of the front tables. The rest of us were in some other room. He said he wouldn’t sit up front unless we could sit with him. The next thing you know, we’re all up at one of the front tables.”

“Your father never got any of the credit he deserved because he was so quiet,” a third told me. “That always burned my butt. He was never truly recognized for his accomplishments. I’ve told anyone who listened about them, too. Ever since.”

In one of his letters home, my father, who graduated from Dartmouth with a D average, which made med school unlikely, makes a reference to how Guadalcanal’s streams reminded him of Kipling’s “Great, grey-green, greasy Limpopo Rover.” When I went over there, the Matanikau was brown where it ran into the sea. For two days in late 1942 it was red. There was a sandspit at the mouth. According to one of the guys in Vegas, my father was pinned out on a sandbar, protected by the sand, as he tried to cross. He made it back. A few made it across, to never be seen again.

“You couldn’t have gotten a thousand men across that river,” the man told me. “But your father’s company held that spit.” Another man, whose mouth was slightly askew, told me that he himself had made it to the opposite bank (“the river was alive with fire”) only to get shot in the jaw, and shoulder. Other marines waded across and pulled him back.
Near the end of the war, now a major – the youngest major in the First Marine Division (10,000 men), my father returned to try and find their bodies, but didn’t. This could not have surprised him; within days of arriving on the island, the marines would find their missing comrades roped to trees, dead, pieces of skin flayed and stuffed into their mouths. Subsequent marine retaliations have not received a great deal of notice through the years. Why go there?

But the diary of my father’s best friend, Harry Connor, has a passage that reads, after a long battle in which several marines companies killed 239 Japanese, “Ended up in close range grenade and pistol battle. No prisoners.”

Sometimes, after the company was back in camp, he would he then go back out, on his own, this Dartmouth guy, and lie in wait in the dark for a Japanese soldier to assassinate with his bayonet. The man he told that story to had asked him in a bar in Melbourne,” Where would you go on those night?” My father, well into a few beers, explained, and then said,

“You will never tell that story to anyone.” He didn’t, until he told it to me. This explained the Japanese flag covered in blood, and Japanese characters that identified the man and his family, that I found in a trunk some years later after he died.

He liked beer. He once told a comrade, “When this war is over, I’m coming back with a jeep and a barrel of beer and I’m gonna piss it all over this island.”

In another letter, he writes, “We have a little jungle music every once in a while. One of my men picked up a guitar from a Navy plane which went a-reef over in Tulagi. When we go out on a mission we leave the guitar with company property in the rear echelon. Then we settle down in a new line position or bivouac area, out comes the guitar and a songfest gets under way. The man who plays it is really talented. Good for the morale.”

You know those signs you see in people’s windows that say, “Support Our Troops?” What kind of question is that? Who in hell wouldn’t? Question the men who put them there, but the troops?

So this Memorial Day weekend I am thinking of, and thanking, those two lieutenants he had to replace, and the two after that, and the two after that, and then the next two — all through the years. And hope that tomorrow, there won’t be two more.

[Photo Credit: Jacquelyn Martin / The Associated Press]

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