Could not be happier, man. Jon is one of the great baseball bloggers so it’s cool to see an organization like the Dodgers recognize.
Best news of the week.
“There has always been a mystery, to me, about ad-libbing, that was answered maybe 20 years ago,” he says. “Jonathan Winters is the only man that I know who would walk out and hell’s a poppin’. The only one. I think that the rest of us mortals – 12% on a fantastic night – ad lib. So everything that I do when I’m working comes from the thought of something to writing, whether I’m walking with no pencil, no paper — just walking and thinking and setting the thing in story form. That’s the way I work, in story form, so that I could have a funny idea or an idea that says, look there’s got to be something funny about all this, right?
“I’ll take you all the way back to the time I was playing Greenwich Village — and by the way I don’t care what anybody says, my place was the Gaslight, not the Bitter End. It was the Gaslight. I’m in Manhattan, I’m living there, I’ve gone from $60 a week to $125, and I’ve made my mother very unhappy because I left Temple University, I’ve made my father very unhappy because my father wanted me to play my senior year and maybe go into pro ball.
“I live over the Gaslight in the storage room, and I bathe in the bathroom. I play basketball at Waverly Place, I finish, and I come back and shower. I think, there’s got to be something funny about riding up the subway train, because when I’m riding it, things happen. I know there’s something, but I can’t in storytelling put it together. I write and I talk about what I see on the subway. It doesn’t feel funny, and so the audience also told me that. But I’m still working in a storytelling mode. The trick comes in as I’m talking to someone about New York City, Manhattan, Broadway, off-Broadway. The night clubs (with their) three-drink minimum. Manhattan is very, very expensive.
“The idea comes. I now have the setup for what I’ve been saying about people on the subway train. … This city is very, very expensive. Don’t forget, this is 1963. But New York is also very benevolent. What the city has set up, on the subway trains you pay — and I don’t remember what the price was – and you are entertained because New York City has put a nut in every car. And I would imitate the different acts.
“So that’s what it needed, was what most comedy writers called a set-up, so people would see clearly. In my writing, I will also keep my senses open. Even with what you saw, I was still thinking. I was still working. I was still searching … If I’m John Coltrane and the song is ‘Bye Bye Blackbird,’ and time, the seconds, everything is ticking, and there’s movement as I speak, it’s the beginning, middle and end — but there’s also a opening, listening to one’s self, that never gives up on a piece. You can’t tell time by what I do. When you don’t see (the flexibility) any more, that means I don’t know anything else about this piece.”
Cosby has a new special–his first in 30 years–on Comedy Central this weekend.
Over at Dodger Thoughts our old pal Jon Weisman and I talk about the two-game Yankee-Dodgers series. I leave off with telling him to kiss my ass, which is a Dodger Thoughts polite way of telling him to go fuck himself. Welcome to the Bronx.
Speaking of the Stadium, here’s a good take on the new place by Mathew O’Connor over at Lo-Hud.
Check it out:
Though studio execs had their own vision problems for the film 30 years ago, Levinson’s audition process had laid solid groundwork. Given how dependent the pic was on naturalistic chatter, he had to look not only at how the actors would play the part, but how they would play against each other.
“Ellen Barkin, oddly enough, is the only person I met for (the role of) Beth,” Levinson says. “She came in, I met her, that was it. Five or six hundred guys, one person for Beth.”
Rourke, who was coming off a memorable supporting turn in “Body Heat,” probably had the highest profile at the time, but future “Mad About You” star Reiser wound up playing a key role as well, even though his was the smallest part among the guys and his casting was fairly accidental.
Reiser came to the auditions not in hopes of a part but just to keep a friend company. Levinson says that casting director Ellen Chenowith noticed Reiser in the hallway and called him in. Arguably as much as anyone, Reiser raised everyone’s game.
“When we got to the improv-y stuff, we had a professional comic in our midst who was going to eat us alive if we didn’t stay on our toes, Stern says. “There was a line that Reiser had. Somebody said, ‘You think she’ll go down for the count?’ Reiser, out of nowhere, said, ‘No, but I heard she blew the prince.’
“We had to stop shooting that day, because we got so hysterical. Tried for half an hour, and they finally shut us down.”
I first watched “Diner” on VHS when I was in junior high. I loved it and the next day I was told my mom about it at breakfast. My step father said, “It’s just a boring movie about a bunch of jerks sitting around wasting time.” I was convinced that my step father would never understand me.
There’s a level of sincere humility to the film version of “Moneyball” that might shock those expecting to see it cloaked in arrogance.
Next to the question about whether the material in Michael Lewis’ book was viable for a movie in the first place, the most common shot I’ve seen taken at the idea of the film, which I saw a screening of Monday, is “what’s the point?” Because Billy Beane’s Oakland A’s have never reached the World Series, much less won it, why would they worthy of the big screen?
Putting aside the fact that this criteria would eliminate about a thousand works of art – “Rocky,” “The Bad News Bears,” “Major League,” the entire history of “Peanuts” – note this well: The Billy Beane of “Moneyball” would share the same question. No one is more acutely aware of the A’s shortcomings than he.
But “Moneyball” does have a story to tell, a worthwhile and engrossing one. It is not a sermon. “Moneyball” is about faith in a calculated belief, and all the torment that comes when that faith is tested, and the unexpected kind of reward you can get for taking that test, no matter how it comes out. It’s a movie about a pursuit, not a coronation. It’s anything but a coronation.
It’s my belief that, while no movie is universally beloved, this approach opens the door for “Moneyball” to be accepted and enjoyed by those who took the book as a mockery of the game they love, by those who were entertained and embrace what was articulated in Lewis’ book, and by those who have no vested interest in the debate, or even the sport. It’s such a human movie – with Brad Pitt’s Beane a nuanced, multidimensional character, one with many faces – that it’s not easily dismissed.
Hell, I just want to see it for Phillip Seymour Hoffman chewing it up as Art Howe.
I haven’t been at Dodger Stadium in the past week, and I’m also familiar with no-shows dotting Dodger Stadium in the best of times, but there have been too many reports to ignore from longtime Dodger watchers that things had really changed. I’ve been a passionate skeptic of fan boycotts, but even I have to concede that there was a statement being made here. More and more people just didn’t want any part of this.
The thing is, it hasn’t been an organized boycott, not on any widespread level. It’s been people on their own coming to the conclusion that life was too short to waste on a franchise in this condition.
This includes people like my father, who chose during the offseason not to renew my family’s season tickets for a 30th season. It also includes the people who typically would improvise their ticket purchases after the season was underway.
That’s not to say Dodger Stadium was or would be empty. Some still show up because they love the team through thick and decidedly thin. The game’s pull remains strong. I myself have been trying to figure out when to get my kids to their first game of 2011.
But things haven’t been this low at Dodger Stadium before, have they? I think back to 1992, the worst team in Los Angeles Dodger history playing against the backdrop of a city torn by riots, and there was not such bitterness over the state of ownership.
If the celebration of Fernando Valenzuela was a highpoint in the history of the Los Angeles Dodgers and baseball, an exhilarating transcendence of a minority among a majority, then the desolation of Glenn Burke was the opposite.
It’s my general opinion that, for all the problems in our society, tolerance eventually defeats intolerance. It can take a long time – decades, centuries – but if you’re on the intolerant side, the side that would deny rights and respect to those who are different, you’re on the losing team. And sometimes I’m mystified by how many people don’t see that, how many people stay with the losers, in such a bitter place.
The reason is ignorance, which fuels fear. Solve the ignorance, and you’ll go a long way toward solving intolerance.
Those might seem like platitudes, but they become starkly real in “Out. The Glenn Burke Story,” which premieres Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at San Francisco’s Castro Theater and at 8 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. (According to a spokesman for the channel, the documentary will be available in Southern California on DirecTV’s Sports Pack Channel 696 and Dish Network’s Multi-Sports Package Channel 419, but hopefully at some point it will come available to a wider audience in Los Angeles.) The program depicts nothing short of a tragedy of ignorance and intolerance surrounding a gay man, and though society has made progress since then, it reminds us that greater tolerance can’t come too quickly.
[Photo Credit: The Diamond Angle]
Jon Weisman has a good piece on Joe Torre’s future (and legacy) in Los Angeles:
Nearly three seasons into his post-Yankees tenure on the West Coast, Torre remains more a baseball manager than a Dodgers manager, more an ambassador and icon than an integral part of the City of Angels.
This is reflective of two things, neither of them particularly damning toward Torre. In certain respects, Torre has been a welcome relief in Los Angeles, steering the Dodgers to the most success since the Tommy Lasorda days, leading with a combination of class, calm and clarity not witnessed since Walter Alston. More than two decades since the team’s last World Series title, more than one decade since the organization was last thought of as noble, these are not qualities to be taken for granted.
But presuming the Dodgers don’t rally from third place in the National League West today into the World Series two months from now, the aftershocks of a Torre departure will be felt in Los Angeles far more modestly than in the baseball community at large.
Man, the Joe Torre Era in the Bronx seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it?
[Photo Credit: UK Guardian]