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Beyond Good and Evil

fredfl

C.C. goes. Yanks try to win the series.

Never mind the stickiness:

Let’s Go Yank-ees.

[Picture Via Retrogasm]

Border Wars

NYYBOS
Growing up in Southern California, I was always struck by how few Angel fans I came across. A big part of this, of course, was the winning tradition the Dodgers had established, appearing in the World Series in 1974, ’77, and ’78 before winning it in 1981. In recent years the Angels have made inroads with increased on-field success, an ambitious marketing campaign, and a handful of flashy (if misguided) free agent signings. It also doesn’t hurt that the future of their franchise (Mike Trout) is everyone’s Golden Child, while the Dodgers’ phenom (Yasiel Puig) is more of a Problem Child.

Even so, this has always felt like Dodger Territory, and now the New York Times confirms that with the coolest interactive map you’ll ever see. Gleaning info from Facebook, researchers examined baseball team preferences in every zip code in the nation, and the result is fascinating. Two things jump out: one, the famous Munson-Nixon line separating Yankee Universe and Red Sox Nation is a bit farther east into Connecticut than previously thought; and two, there are Yankee and Red Sox fans EVERYWHERE.

Million Dollar Movie

vivmaier

Nice piece on the Vivian Maier documentary by Malcolm Jones over at the Daily Beast:

To be sure, Maier was eccentric: a friendless, secretive spinster who spent her life caring for other people’s children. She was a hoarder and a person of uncertain origin: was she French or merely someone pretending to be French? On a tape found in one of those storage lockers, she can be heard supervising a game among her young charges where identities are being assigned. When one of the children asks who Maier will be, she responds, “I am the mystery woman.”

The real mystery, however, is what made that woman take those pictures, and on this subject the film is not much help, although no one seems too disturbed by that. Since it appeared in theaters this month, the documentary has received rave reviews, and understandably: Finding Vivian Maier tells a strange and intriguing story, and filmmakers John Maloof and Charlie Siskel deserve the praise they’ve received.

But as I watched the film, small alarms kept going off in my head, because questions are raised—or at least implied—but never satisfactorily answered.

Why does Maloof present himself as the sole discoverer of Maier’s work? If you read the stories that appeared several years ago when the pictures first surfaced, you know that at least three people, including Maloof, found the photos when the contents of Maier’s Chicago storage lockers were auctioned off. This is a major part of the story because it revolves around who owns what, who decides which of Maier’s images the public will see and in what form, who stands to profit, and ultimately who gets to tell and define her story.

Why does Finding Vivian Maier spend so much time interviewing the people, now grown, that she once tended as a nanny? Almost none of these people have much illuminating to say about her, other than that she was weird, secretive, and not always very nice. Moreover, most of the witnesses knew her not in her prime, but when she was older.

The 70% Solution

plow There is a lot of good stuff to be found in Andrew Corsello’s GQ profile of Louis C.K. (never mind the “genius” part if you can). I especially like this:

“All of that”—the death of the New York club scene in the early ’90s, the Pootie Tang debacle—”has helped me form what I call my 70 Percent Rule for decision-making.” C.K. then describes a practical application of a worldview laced into many of his best routines—that “everything is amazing and nobody is happy.” If we just wrest our eyes, literally and figuratively, from our digital gizmos and the shitty, spoiling impatience they instill, we’ll see that this life, this planet, is amazing. That it is something just to be in the world, seeing and hearing and smelling. That for trillions of miles in every direction from earth, life really is blood-boilingly, eye-explodingly horrific.

“These situations where I can’t make a choice because I’m too busy trying to envision the perfect one—that false perfectionism traps you in this painful ambivalence: If I do this, then that other thing I could have done becomes attractive. But if I go and choose the other one, the same thing happens again. It’s part of our consumer culture. People do this trying to get a DVD player or a service provider, but it also bleeds into big decisions. So my rule is that if you have someone or something that gets 70 percent approval, you just do it. ‘Cause here’s what happens. The fact that other options go away immediately brings your choice to 80. Because the pain of deciding is over.

“And,” he continues, “when you get to 80 percent, you work. You apply your knowledge, and that gets you to 85 percent! And the thing itself, especially if it’s a human being, will always reveal itself—100 percent of the time!—to be more than you thought. And that will get you to 90 percent. After that, you’re stuck at 90, but who the fuck do you think you are, a god? You got to 90 percent? It’s incredible!”

[Picture by Randel Plowman via Just Another Masterpiece]

Morning Art

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Photograph by Thomas Prior (via MPD).

WWGD?

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The second pine tar incident involving Michael Pineda makes me think what a relief it is that the Boss isn’t running the team anymore. The current ownership is so much more measured, at least publicly. If George was around, he’d have ripped Pineda, ripped Giardi, fired Cashman, blasted John Farrell, sued the Red Sox. You remember the routine. Sometimes, I think back on George’s antics with fondness. Most of the time, I don’t.

[Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images]

Caught, Red-Necked

 

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If you look quickly at the above picture of Michael Pineda from tonight’s game, you probably won’t see any evidence of a foreign substance in play. But look again. Be sure to focus on the lips and the surrounding area. Then carefully inspect the cheek and the chin. But don’t stop there. The most damning evidence is in the most damning place. All over the right hand.

When a Major League pitcher goes to such great lengths to conceal his wrongdoing, David Cone thinks the other manager might look the other way. Relying on his experience in the big leagues, Cone noted that if a pitcher shoved his cheating in the face of the opposition, then and only then would the umpire be called in to inspect.

How then are we to react to cases such as tonight? Where the infraction was expertly crafted and deployed with such care that Sherlock Holmes himself would be unable to penetrate the subterfuge?

Tip your cap. That’s what Holmes would do. And that what the Yankees did, to their credit. So impressed with the Red Sox superior character and sportsmanship, the Yankees gave up their remaining at bats for strike outs in deference. Only the incompetence of John Lackey checked the total at 14.

The box score says the final was 5-1 to the Red Sox, but who can really measure the difference between angels and demons?

Brrrrr Stick ‘Um

h3-spanish-stickyfingers

Sorry for the technical difficulties today, guys. I had a feeling that Michael Pineda would get his ass beat around Fenway tonight but I didn’t think the guy would get tossed for an illegal substance–on his neck.

Bright boy.

Yanks down 4-0 in the 4th.

Carry On.

Beat of the Day

nice

Let’s Get Lost.

[Photograph by Nicole Franzen]

Write On

updkike

Adam Begley’s new biography, Updike, reviewed by Orhan Pamuk in the Sunday Book Review:

Aside from his enormous talents and Protestant work ethic, Updike’s defining characteristic is his signature style, which he owes to his desire to be a graphic artist, and to his stunningly visual memory. Like Proust, like Nabokov and like Henry Green, all of whom influenced him, Updike wrote sentences that work through the precise meeting of visual detail and verbal accuracy. Updike was fully aware that this precision required a wide verbal range and ingenuity; indeed, when he criticized Tom Wolfe’s failure to be “exquisite,” Updike’s point of comparison was his own style.

And here is Louis Menand’s Updike appreciation for the New Yorker:

Updike wanted to do with the world of mid-century middle-class American Wasps what Proust had done with Belle Époque Paris and Joyce had done with a single day in 1904 Dublin—and, for that matter, Jane Austen had done with the landed gentry in the Home Counties at the time of the Napoleonic Wars and James had done with idle Americans living abroad at the turn of the nineteenth century. He wanted to biopsy a minute sample of the social tissue and reproduce the results in the form of a permanent verbal artifact.

Updike believed that people in that world sought happiness, and that, contrary to the representations of novelists like Cheever and Kerouac, they often found it. But he thought that the happiness was always edged with dread, because acquiring it often meant ignoring, hurting, and damaging other people. In a lot of Updike’s fiction, those other people are children. Adultery was for him the perfect example of the moral condition of the suburban middle class: the source of a wickedly exciting kind of pleasure and a terrible kind of guilt.

It’s easy to understand why people identify Stephen Dedalus with Joyce, and why they identify the narrator of “In Search of Lost Time” with Proust. But it’s strange that people persist in identifying the protagonists of the Olinger stories and the Maples stories and the Rabbit books with Updike. Those characters are Updikean in certain limited ways—unusually sensitive, unusually death-haunted, unusually horny. But they are not unusually smart or unusually gifted. They could never have created John Updike. And only Updike could have created them.

[Photo Via: The. Buried. Talent.]

New York Minute

new york minute

I saw these two dudes on the train last night on my way home from work. They’re juniors in high school and were returning from a game–which their team won. Good kids, smart kids, very sharp about baseball. They let me take their picture.

It reminded me of when I played ball in high school, coming home after a game, my uniform muddy, the sweat dried to my body, my head still caught up in the plays of the game, maybe a ball I’d hit well, of course preoccupied with things I hadn’t done well, a ball I booted in the field, a fat pitch I swung through.

The buds are on the trees now in New York. That, and the dirt on these kids’ uniforms, is a reminder that winter is over.

Tanaka Time

Masa

It started early on Tuesday night as the Yankees found themselves in Fenway Park for the first time this young season. After being greeted with more boos than cheers, Jacoby Ellsbury reintroduced himself to his old fans by lashing John Lester’s third pitch of the game high off the wall in center field. A fan in the front row was so intent on making the play that he reached three feet below the top of the Green Monster, nearly tumbling over in the process, and deflected the ball back towards left field. Ellsbury raced all the way around the bases for what might’ve been an inside-the-park homer, but the umpires rightly sent him back to third, ruling that the Sox wouldn’t have been able to hold him to a double had the fan not interfered.

Manager John Farrell argued the point, but Derek Jeter rendered that point moot, lacing a line drive into center field and scoring Ellsbury before Farrell could even sit back down. After moving to second on a wild pitch, Jeter then scored the game’s second run on a sharp single from Carlos Beltrán.

Lester wriggled off the hook without further damage and escaped a bases loaded, one out jam in the second with a double play, but he found himself in trouble again in the third. Alfonso Soriano pounded a ball of the wall in center and Cadillacked a triple into a double, Mark Teixeira floated a soft double halfway down the rightfield line, and Brian McCann shot yet another double into the left centerfield gap. Lester hadn’t yet retired a batter in the third inning, and already he was down 4-0. The Yanks seemed poised to deliver the knockout blow when they again loaded the bases with one out and Ellsbury headed to the plate, but for the second consecutive inning Lester was able to induce a ground ball double play.

Meanwhile, Masahiro Tanaka was toying with the Boston batters. He gave up a double to Dusty Pedroia in the first and a single in the third, but there was never a hint of trouble. In the bottom of the fourth, however, Tanaka appeared to pitch to the situation as he stared in at David Ortíz with one out and a four-run lead. With Ortíz sitting in a hitter’s count at 3-1, Tanaka chose to challenge him instead of risking the walk, and he threw Papi a fastball that did nothing at all. We know what Ortíz does with pitches like that; this one ended up in Williamsburg, 482 feet away. Three pitches later, Mike Napoli laced a ball that might have been hit even harder but on a lower trajectory. This one barely cleared the wall in left, and suddenly the Yankee lead was cut in half. Two batters later A.J. Pierzynski doubled for the third extra base hit of the inning, but Tanaka struck out Xander Bogaerts to end the frame. He’d have little trouble with the Sox the rest of the night.

By all rights Lester should’ve been knocked from the game much earlier, but he trudged out to the mound to start the fifth with new hope. Hadn’t he kept his team in the ball game? Wasn’t there a chance they could get another two or three runs off Tanaka? Teixeira and McCann reached with a walk and a single, immediately putting Lester’s feet to the coals once again, but once again it looked as if the Yankees would miss their opportunity when Yangervis Solarte and Ichiro both struck out. (And by the way, if you’re wondering who’s to blame for Solarte’s slide, look no further than your author; I inserted him into my fantasy lineup this week. The results have been predictable.)

The game turned on Brian Roberts’s at bat. If you look at the Yankee lineup most nights, the batting averages are impressive with almost every player close to or above .300 — every player except for Roberts, whose average hasn’t been north of .200 since the first week of the season. But Roberts came through. Sort of. He roped a line drive that was a bit to the left of Napoli at first base, but Napoli wasn’t able to make the play. The ball glanced off his glove for an error, dropping Roberts’s batting average lower still, but allowing Teixeira to score an important run. Ellsbury followed that with an another ball off the monster, this one a double to score McCann and Roberts, and Jeter drove in Ellsbury with another single up the middle, this one hit #3333. The Yankees led 8-2, and the game was essentially over.

Beltrán crushed a homer to right in the eighth, and the Red Sox slapped together a rally for a run against reliever Dellin Betances in the ninth, but all that did was give us our final score, Yankees 9, Red Sox 2. The real story of the game was Masahiro Tanaka. After faltering in that fourth inning, Tanaka shifted into another gear. With a fastball that touched 95 a few times and once 96, a biting curve that floated in the low- to mid-80s, and that devastating power splitter, Tanaka looked absolutely nothing like a #3 starter. He coasted through the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings, then came back to start the eighth even though he had a seven-run lead and had already thrown 98 pitches. (Again, this is something aces do, not number three starters.)

He ended his night with a strikeout of Grady Sizemore and walked to the dugout after cruising through 7.1 innings, allowing two runs and seven hits, striking out seven, and not walking a batter. In four starts, his numbers look like this: 29.1 IP/22 H/8 R/35 K/2 BB/0.82 WHIP/2.15 ERA. It will be interesting to see what happens once the league gets a second look at him, but right now things are looking pretty good. This might be a fun summer.

[Photo Credit: Elise Amendola/AP Photo]

Them Again

franzkline

So soon?

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran DH
Alfonso Soriano LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Yangervis Solarte 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Brian Roberts 2B

Masahiro Tanaka gets the start; Ellsbury returns to Fenway.

Never mind that nasty starting pitcher for Boston:

Let’s Go Yank-ees!

[Painting by Franz Kline]

It Ain’t Hard to Tell

Naslargepro

Lots of deserved attention being paid to Nas’ debut record Illmatic which turns 20 this year. A documentary, mix tape tributes, you name it.

Here’s one of my favorites so far–an in-depth interview with Large Professor:

DX: Yeah, Nas always said Illmatic was like his application to the Rap gods membership club. Sort of like a “Hear me out..this is what I’m doing…I belong here,” thing.

Large Professor: Definitely, definitely. Yeah, that was it, and with that album, I always say that was a more lyrical-driven album, if anything. Like, the beats were cool. They were good backdrops, but just the lyrics and the experience that he was putting down over those beats just it is why that album is heralded the way it is today.

DX: You’re being really modest, man. Those beats were not just okay.

Large Professor: Nah, I mean, they were bangin’. “One Love,” you know what I mean? “The World Is Yours,” and everything… But you could have had some clown get those beats and put some bullshit down, and them shits, it wouldn’t have been nothing. Nas put something down that was like, “Yo, this is… It’s not the icing on the cake. This is part of the cake.” It was like, “This ain’t the icing on the cake; this is the cake almost,” and the beat was almost like the icing. Nas’s rhymes were like the cake because, you could have gotten any old body to rhyme on them beats, and you would have been like, “That’s cool.” But [with] the stuff like “The World Is Yours,” he was tapping into the spirit of the beats and everything. It was like, “Yo, what is this? This is like world is yours type shit, man,” and that’s serious business.

DX: Absolutely. He’s said in interviews that he begged you to executive produce the album, but you were like, “No. It’s your vision.”

Large Professor: Yeah, nah, like I was on some… We were cool. We would be in the crib, and we’d be recording, and then we’d take a break, sit out on the terrace and just chill. We would be talking about the world like, “Yo, if this planet…” We would just be wandering in thought and just all kind of stuff like that. So, to have that kind of relationship, and then just one day come and say, “Just sign this contract.” Nah, I couldn’t. That’s not who I am. I’m not a sign this contract kind of guy.

[Image via: Complex]

Taster’s Cherce

leomoncheesecake

Alexandra makes a Lemon-Ricotta Cheesecake (dig what she uses for the crust).

Yes, please.

Beat of the Day

colorado

Oh, Brother.

[Photo Via: What's Left]

Morning Art

boxingss

Beautiful photograph by Paul Meleschnig via MPD.

Million Dollar Movie

stagecoach

Allen Barra on the Duke. 

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