"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
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Esky Daze

rocksprings

Hey Hey,

Know it’s been slower n slow around here these days—and thanks to Will for keeping a light on. That’s because I’m spending all my time curating and editing the Esquire Classic site. Oh, it’s a long story but I got job eliminated last December after 13 years at Time Inc. I arrived there in the spring of 2002 as a temp having spent my twenties working in film cutting rooms. I had a good, long run at the company—saved money, got married, saw a parent die, and created this site. I don’t think about it often but I’m as proud of this blog as I am of anything I’ve ever been involved with.

The Banter isn’t going anywhere. Even though I’m busy, and even though the posting has been nonexistent of late, I have no desire to close-up shop (The beauty part about the Banter for me is that at some point I let go of having expectations of what the site should be; I just let it flow and that helps me continue). But things are different and I’m not sure they’ll soon return to what they’ve been in the past. All I can say is that I’m happy to have you and I hope you dig whatever it is I can offer at any given time.

I plan to be around for the season but at this point you’re getting your Yankee fix elsewhere. All I can do is keep the jernt open so you old timer’s can fall through and hang out.

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In the meantime, I’ve segued nicely into this gig with Esquire. You guys are aware of the preservation work I’ve done with classic journalism and criticism. Well, Esky is an embarrassment of riches. I’ve got so much reading on my plate, I can’t keep up. It’s overwhelming and exhilarating. There are so many distinct voices: John Sack, Sally Kempton, Bill Zehme, Norman Mailer, David Foster Wallace, Tom Wolfe, Nora Ephron, Pete Dexter, Mark Jacobson, Richard Ben. It’s amazing.

There’s a bunch of pressure too and no guarantee that Esquire Classic will pan out—with or without me. You gotta pay for it—$5 a month or $40 for the year. If you’re into that sort of thing it’s worth the dough, believe me. But no pressure at all on my part—I certainly won’t be offended if you don’t subscribe.

Meantime, I’ve strapped myself in for the ride and am having a great time. Learning a ton and not taking any of it for granted. Here’s the blog.

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[Illustration by Gottfried Helnwein]

Itchers & Scratchers

In case you were wondering (and after this year’s Stupor Bowl, you probably are), pitchers and catchers will be reporting to George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla. on Thursday, Feb. 18.  Yanks have released their Spring Training schedule and have also invited 25 additional players along for the ride.  More details as they come, of course.

S’Long, Peyton

luckyluke

Peyton goes out on top. He wasn’t great—far from it—but he rides off a winner…unless, of course those pesky HGH rumors come back to haunt him. But wait—this isn’t baseball and Peyton isn’t Alex Rodriguez: he should be just fine.

Probably Of Some Note…

Greg BirdIt’s early and all, but this will probably be of some note to some of us Banterers in the coming Spring. according to tweets by both NY Post’s Joel Sherman and LoHuds’ Chad Jennings (contained in the linked article) Greg Bird will be out for the entire 2016 season, due to shoulder surgery.  Apparently the Yanks have been hip to this since last May when the injury was first incurred, but doctors said he wouldn’t require any surgery… until now, with a recent recurrence of the injury.  *Sigh*, well, at least Cashman’s been making moves all winter to shore up the depth in the minors as that seems to be about to be put to good use, but dang this sure came out of left field for the rest of us.  Not that he was slated to start in the majors; in fact all indications were that Bird was to start off 2016 in SWB until need be, but crap.  Alex better get his 1B glove on, because he might have to put in some work there soon enough.

Meanwhile, get well soon, dude; see ya next year we hope.

Fulfillingness’ First Finale

dbowie

Head on over to Rolling Stone and check out Brian Hiatt’s excellent look at Bowie’s final years. 

[Photo Via: Cos]

Gone Fishin’

Abe_Vigoda_Fish_Barney_Miller_1977The time has come to say goodbye to a New York treasure, a man who embodied the well-traveled and experienced New Yorker of old, the one who seemingly knew every nook and cranny of the city and who occupied them and touched everyone he encountered with a bit of grump, a bit of wit and a bit of sage advice to keep them moving from one corner to the next throughout the day. And Preparation H.  That’s the impression I always got when looking at his face. How it just carried a whole lot of everything behind it, processed it and gave you back a little piece of New York.

Born in Brooklyn to Jewish immigrant parents, began a long and notable acting career as a teenager, appeared on Broadway quite a few times, including in one of my personal favorite plays (Marat/Sade, which I also acted in while in college), landed the role of a lifetime in an open call in L.A., made an even bigger impression a few years later with a role he’s become synonymous with, and lived life as sort of the unofficial ambassador of Fiorello LaGuardia’s New York, by his very presence able to link that era with the Wagners and Lindseys and Beames and Koches that followed.

By the time Michael Bloomberg ascended to the throne, we looked back at all of this and remembered fondly the ugliness that New Yorkers endured to this point like a rich man who had climbed out of Hell’s Kitchen to dominate the skylines, and in the back of our minds we always wanted to know how Abe Vigoda was doing, and when you get home you’d go and look for that Timex you still have for some strange reason. Everyone was doing it.

I suppose you never know when you might need it.  Well played, Mr. Vigoda, thanks for everything.

 

Million Dollar Movie

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Check out Michael Sragow’s admiring review of Once Upon A Time In America and then dig the restored director’s cut that was released a few years back. I haven’t seen the movie since the Eighties. It’s time.

 

Beat of the Day

jeanseaberg

The Jean Genie.

[Photo Credit: Raymond Cauchetier]

Taster’s Cherce

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Flourishing Foodie gives us this lovely-looking vegetable soup with white beans and rice.

New York Minute

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Ah, Winter—yiz finally here. Kinda makes you pine for a warm summer day, nu?

Photograph by Ida Wyman via Lover of Beauty.

Morning Art

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Photo by Clara Nebeling via This Isn’t Happiness.

What’s New?

aroldis

The latest on Aroldis Chapman.

BGS: Trading Places

eddieboomerang

This past weekend over at The Stacks, I reprinted Peter Richmond’s 1992 GQ profile of Eddie:

“[My] popularity after Beverly Hills Cop—all that ‘He’s so hot’ shit—everything was going out of control. Everything came too easy … And when the laughs come too easy, you start doing things like walking through movies. You get too comfortable. You start getting out of control. You start tripping. You argue. You get the big head. You wear a leather suit and a glove with a ring on the outside.

“And I let myself get fat. There’s nothing like going into a movie theater and looking up on screen and you’re a fat guy in a bad movie.”

Here he laughs. Not the “Eh! Eh! Eh!” laugh, though—he never laughed that laugh in his customized bus.

“But I came out of that head … Now I’m as happy as I’ve ever been. I’ve got a beautiful chick, a beautiful daughter [Bria, age 3], a great record, a great movie. But it was a long time coming.”

Image via A Quiet Lion.

Are You Ready for Some Numbskulls?

bagstruck

Sorry I’ve been so quiet round these parts of late–and without even a word of explanation either. Well, excuse my poor manners. I’ve just been busy that’s all. Anyhow, lots of NFL Playoff action this weekend for those of you who dig that sort of thing. I’ll be checking in on the game I suppose–why the hell not, right?

No matter what you’re doing, hope you’re having a good one.

You know me,

AB

Funk to Funky

bowietour

David Bowie was the first singer I was ever mad for. This was during his Serious Moonlight Tour. Man, I’ll never forget my grandfather agreeing to take my younger brother and me to see Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence and then wanting to leave in the middle (we stayed).

Bowie died yesterday. A sad moment but also a wonderful one–let’s celebrate, shall we?

[Photo Credit: Denis O’Regan]

What’s the Rumpus?

barberbags

Chad Jennings pokes around and delivers a few Yankee tidbits to keep you warm.

Picture by Bags

Hall of Fame Ballot Open Thread

imageApparently the baseball world waits with bated breath as we see who gets in for the Class of 2016… as well as which idiot refused to have Ken Griffey, Jr. go in as possibly the first unanimous selection in HoF voting history.

Yet, with the new streamline process that removes legacy voters who haven’t written about or even mentioned baseball within the last ten years, there is a slightly better chance that it could happen. On top of that, there’s a better chance than that in which players like Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell; guys who have been suspected of PED usage over the years, can possibly make it in this time, as well as guys like Barry and Roger and Gary Sheffield getting much closer, if not in.

Time changes a lot of things, perhaps, but it did nothing for Pete Rose, who was denied re-entry into MLB, with the HoF following suit. One can argue that the Hall is not an MLB property and should not be beholden to the whims or decrees of the league, and you’re certainly welcome to do so here.

As far as this writer is concerned, the HoF is an incomplete record and repository of baseball lore and references and in the age of the Internet there is plenty of room for improvement, but that’s not my call and therefore not of much interest to me. It’s not about me though (words to live by if you are a voter), it’s Hall of Fame Vote Day, so let’s hop on our pins and needles and wait for the dust to settle, shall we?

(Note: perennial Banter favorite Tim Raines also stands a good chance of getting the vote this year. Will update when final vote is announced.)

New York Minute

ziz

The end of an era.

Beat of the Day

liquote

Sonny Liston dug this tunes.

Picture by Bags

Taster’s Cherce

kewpie

Homemade. 

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