"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Monthly Archives: March 2017

J.B. Number One


When I heard that Jimmy Breslin passed away, Todd Drew was the first person I thought of. Man, Todd loved Breslin.

Over at The Stacks, I’ve got a swell Breslin profile—by Ambrose Clancy—for you as well as a fine appreciation by our man Schulian.

Lighten Up, Francis

magic hour bags

WBC, spring training…Yo, is it Opening Day yet?

Oh, and there’s also March Madness which brings us to Will Blythe’s 2010 Esquire piece on Coach K:

Hatred makes scholars of its practitioners, which is to say, all of us. We study the objects of our disdain like old dons in the British Library poring over ancient manuscripts. No less than lovers, good haters notice everything about their enemies. Every tendency, every inconsistency, every speck of newness. Hatred focuses the attention.

As a North Carolinian raised and educated in Chapel Hill, with a robust distaste for the privileges of class, I have hated Duke University basketball and all for which it stands for as long as I can remember. And my attention has been focused.

As a Yankee fan I have no idea what Will is talking about.

Picture by Bags


Reflection Bags

I like that Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez are dating because, well, of course they are dating. The only question is for how long.

If you’ve come here for the latest on the Yanks I can only point you to places like River Ave Blues where they actually know what’s going on.

Meanwhile, so off the topic, but I did a cool interview with the journalist Chip Brown this week over at Esquire Classic:

EC: You said David Maraniss was your first editor. What was it like working for him?

CB: I learned an awful lot from David. I can still hear him say something that, again, seems absurdly basic now but at the time was a revelation: Every paragraph must advance the story. Among many fine editors I’ve had, I rank him as one of the best. Another would be Will Blythe, who was the literary editor of Esquire when I was working for the magazine and encouraged me not to be afraid to throw in an occasional quote from E.M. Cioran, the great Romanian philosopher, whose wonderful screwball provocations include lines like “One always perishes by the self one assumes: to bear a name is to claim an exact mode of collapse.” And there is also Julie Grau who now has her own book imprint Spiegel & Grau. I remember Maraniss once said even if you are writing about someone who is corrupt, rotten to the core, you can’t take away their humanity. You have to kind of cradle them when you write about them. It doesn’t mean you pull a punch, but you can’t be self-righteous or snide or judgmental. That just makes you look worse.

EC: You want to let them hang themselves.

CB: If it’s a capital offense, maybe that’s right. But in a way there’s editorializing in that too — in letting the reader make the righteous judgment — only it doesn’t seem as objectionable. And it’s truer to life, not to say more decent, to make room in what you write for the frailties of your own character, or to allude to the degree that all of us are imperfect.

EC: Did Maraniss encourage you to work on having a strong point of view or moral position?

CB: Not in the sense of consciously taking up issues with a moral agenda, but yes, in the sense of having a moral sensibility. He told me to work on my coldness. He would say, “Don’t be uncharitable.” Actually that might have been advice for managing a bollixed love life, not journalism. But it carried over.

Picture by Bags

From the Outside Looking In

blue sky bags

What I know from these Yankees is less than somewhat. I did catch a few pitches of a spring training game the other day and saw Greg Bird hit a long home run. Now there is a guy I am eager to watch this season. He was so appealing in 2015, young, sure, and poised. I really liked his quiet confidence.

Who are you looking forward to watching this year?

Picture by Bags

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