"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
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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

onceupon

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.

 

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.)

Million Dollar Movie

orsonchimes

Here’s my pal Malcolm Jones on Orson Welles’s forgotten masterpiece. 

Where There is Smoke…

rainwoman

What to make of the Yankees’ trade for Aroldis Chapman? The guy is clearly a stud on the mound but also possibly a huge asshole. And I don’t mean your run-of-the-mill Dave Kingman jagoff but a woman-beating creep. Kind of takes the fun out of imagining him in pinstripes, doesn’t it?

Okay, maybe he’s not a jerk, maybe he’s innocent of the charges against him–I’m sure it’s complicated. I know I’m presuming his guilt and that’s hardly fair. Regardless, this is a departure from how the Yanks have conduced business in recent years. They’re back to chasing talent with questionable character–let’s see if it blows up in their face or is a success.

I know Miller’s vulnerable to being traded and my hunch is that he will be moved. Still, Chapman, Betances and Miller at the end of games–that’s a formidable trio.

Picture by Bags

‘Tis the Season

nycstreet

All’s quiet in Yankee land. Sure do hope you guys are enjoying your holidays. Meanwhile, there’s always this.

Update: Wait–I guess I spoke to soon. Between Castro and Chapman, the Yanks are going for talent-first, character-second players. Interesting…

Picture by Bags

Carve the Turkey, Turn the Ballgame On

lights

This has become one of my favorite Christmas songs. I love the specificity of the lyrics as well as the arrangement. Just love this sucker.

Thanks to my pal John Schulian for putting me on to this cut.

Merry Christmas Everyone.

Picture by Agata Korlak III

Where & When: Special Request (Night Shift)

Some more free time means fulfilling another request (sort of); this one for our fellows way out East and for the insomniacs and late comers in our group, here ya go:

Where & When Request 4 2015Continuing with our theme of no extra clues/plenty of trivia, let us try to find out Where this is and When it was built, and for a bonus, why. I’m about to have dinner myself, so you guys can keep the stakes for yourselves.  Have fun!

Photo Credit: The Brownstoner

Where & When: Special Request 3

What, another one? Hmmm…

Where & When Request 3 2015This was obviously somewhere in the middle of some big-picture thinking, but this humble view belies a rich chapter in the city’s history.  No extra clues necessary for this one, either, but there will be a certain amount of guessing here; guess right or closest and you’ll win today’s prize of a big mug of cold root beer (because the weather is wonky this Christmas season) and perhaps a small pizza roll as a bonus for each bit of trivia you bring to the conversation.  So, the idea is Where this picture was taken (approximately) and When (approximately).  I won’t say too much to spoil the fun, but I hope you’ll keep the conversation going with the trivia.  Have fun, folks!

Photo Credit: Andy Blair

Where & When: Special Request 2

I have a little time on my hands, so you know what that means: HOT CHOCOLATE WITH WHIPPED CREAM!!!

Oh, and this:

Where & When Request 2 2015This one fits my stringent criteria of being interesting and providing enough clues for you to determine Where & When it is; it also helps that it comes with some interesting history or trivia attached to it.  It should take too long to figure this one out, so I’m not offering clues, but I will encourage you to also post some bonus trivia attached to this picture based on what you find during your search.  As implied above, the winner will earn a hot mug of cocoa with whipped cream; the winner being the first person to answer both questions of Where this picture was taken (full name and address) and When (year and more if you are clever), and the bonus will earn you a big, warm brownie.  All the rest of us players will settle for a half pint of chocolate milk and half a brownie if the bonus comes to fruition.

As always, play fair, don’t peek at the credits and if you come across any interesting sites or photos, send me a message and I’ll see if we can showcase it in the next game.  Have fun everyone!

Photo Credit: Shorpy

Million Dollar Movie

revenge_4sheet3

I was six years old when Star Wars came out. My father took my brother and me to see it. A few years later, my parents split up before The Empire Strikes Back was released. It was the first time I went to see a movie more than once; by the end of the summer, I’d seen it seven times. I don’t remember how many times I saw Return of the Jedi–what I remember more vividly was a friend of mine who had a promotional poster for Revenge of the Jedi. And oh, how I coveted that–a rarity.

Later, I saw the next three Star Wars movies and I don’t remember anything about them. This routine from Patton Oswalt sums it up.

Now, we’ve got a new Star Wars movie and I bet it’s pretty good. But I just don’t have a strong urge to see it. No offense to anyone who is jazzed about it, of course. Good for them. I just don’t really get the fascination anymore.

If any of you have seen it let us know how it is. Meanwhile, check out this good profile of George Lucas. 

How High the Moon

birddrj

Over at Esquire Classic I curate a series of profiles written about some of the NBA’s finest in the twilight of their career: Dr. J, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal. With a little Kobe and LeBron in the mix, too.

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