Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Imagine my Claude Rains Voice...

[Oops - meant to put this at my place - I'll leave it here, no harm done...]

Mark McGwire admits to using steroids. This is shocking news, huh? I have never been a Mark McGwire fan - nothing to do with steroids, really, it's just that - without steroids, he would have been a one dimensional slugger, a new Dave Kingman - with them, he set records and was mistaken for one of the all time greats. A problem in part because it overshadowed people who probably were among the all time greats - and I remain fairly convinced, drove those players to the same expedients that made McGwire seem like more than he really was. And so people act as though Clemens and Bonds, to name names, were just chemical byproducts, instead of two of the best who ever played. And McGwire's part in this goes deep - we shouldn't forget that he and Canseco (and probably a few others, but mostly the bash brothers) were instrumental in moving steroids from a dirty little secret of the game to front and center, the engine of the game in the late 90s and early 00s. I didn't like that style - I like pitching and defense and line drives and walks - I may only be able to play slow pitch softball, but I don't want to watch it.... But that is how the game was built, and it was very popular, and restored the game to new heights after the labor problems that almost ruined it.

But all that aside - this confession would be enough to get me to vote for McGwire to the hall of fame. I don't care if it's cynical and fake-sentimental and years too late for something - the fact is, he's the first major star of the era to state the obvious without being forced to. (Unless you count Canseco, though his was even more cynical and self-serving; and a bit pathetic.) McGwire is catching hell for it - sanctimonious shits like Brian Williams pontificate away, mewling about the "magical stuff" of the summer of 1998 (not magic - science!) - ugh.... Look - it was possible to look at Bonds, know what kind of player he had been all his career, and sort of imagine that maybe, if he gave up trying to run and just bulked up, he could hit those home runs - wishful thinking maybe, but still... But not McGwire, and not Sosa - they were steroids players, playing a steroids game - with the tacit (at least) approval (even encouragement) of the owners and league officials - not to mention the people who played the business up on TV. The only other explanation for all those homers that ever had any validity was that the sport was juicing the balls - it was the baseballs or the players or both, but something was getting juiced...

And people enjoyed it. Why not? they enjoyed it then, and are enjoying it now, cause they get to play the victim - oh, we were fooled! - and huff and puff and bask in their own righteousness and the convenient amnesia about what kind of dope the old timers were using. And McGwire - going first - will get the worst of it. Just like A Rod got it worse than Manny and Manny got it worse than David Ortiz last summer.... every player who admits this will get just a little less crap about it, and by the time Bonds or Clemens gets around to it, they'll be able to brag about it. And - I'd wager - by summer, McGwire will be getting more cheers than boos - and maybe - who knows, in time this will look like what it is - a misguided era in baseball history, creating some odd offensive stats that require some on the fly translation to understand (at least until everyone 'fesses up and the statisticians can start trying to parse out what, exactly, steroids changed) - it will be something like the dead ball era that you just have to count around. No one will ever win 42 games again; probably no one will hit 73 home runs; both are products of how the game was played at the time....

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Star Sightings

I was off of school for a couple of weeks and needed to get out of the city. I drove up to Bolinas, a northern California town that is difficult to get to, all windey roads on cliffs overlooking the Pacific. Gorgeous, but stomachache producing. And that's the only way to get there.

The beauty of the town and beach is matched by the pride of the people who live there and have prevented it from becoming a tourist attraction. The downtown has about 6 buildings: restaurant, bar, grocery, surf shop, gift shop, art gallery. When signs are put up on the highway indicating where the city is, residents take it down, so the state has stopped putting them up.

Oona and I were there on a glorious afternoon. It's a large, long beach, and there were about 15 people on it. It was sunny and somewhat warm, but the wind was whipping off the ocean. Oona and I were throwing rocks into the water and listening to the resonance of their kerplunks. As I was standing behind her, watching her throw, I glanced to my right and saw Francis McDormand and John Turturro walking toward me, looking very relaxed and simply chatting. Francis looked at me, gave me a very warm smile, and said, "hi." John did not look. I like Francis, but I really love John's acting. Behind them were Joel Coen and a very pretty woman who I now know is Turturro's wife. Their children were tagging along behind. As an aside, I looked on IMDB and Francis has nothing listed in production. She did two things in 2008 and that is it. Now, how much of a shame is that?

It is the perfect place for people like them. People barely noticed them, I saw no one stop them. They were allowed to be people walking on the beach. I was happy for them.

Here's the beach:

Grey Gardens

Rented the film first and then watched the documentary.

Wow. Fascinating on so many levels.

First, the documentary. The real women are, of course, more engrossing. I could not take my eyes off of Little Edie. There is no question that the woman possessed charisma in spades, even without hair and with haphazard clothing. There is a genuine sweetness to her that makes you adore her. All of the unfair things that happened to her in her life, and she has very little bitterness and only shows anger (appropriate anger, by the way) once in the film. Her clothing, though odd, shows great creativity and has a certain panache to it. Her speaking style is mesmerizing with a slow cadence, a wonderfully creative vocabulary, and an unusual accent. It is my belief that she cannot fully distinguish between the past and the present, maybe because the present is so awful, she can only live as things were the same. At one point in the film, she talks about how the washing bins used to be in the servants quarters, then repeats, "The washing bins are in the servants quarters." She pauses and then says, "It's very difficult to keep the line between the past and the present. You know what I mean? It's awfully difficult."

The elder Edie had no charm for me. She came off as dangerously selfish and self-absorbed, and her disgustingly dirty bed almost made me wretch.

Second, the film. What performances by Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange. Truly amazing. I mean, it is a lot easier when you have so much footage to copy, but still, they were amazing. I wish there were more roles for Jessica Lange, she always was one of my favorites.

Ted Kennedy

We put to rest one of the most important politicians of our generation. He never served as president, but afterall, a president only serves 4 years, and Ted served 47--he got way more done as a senator than I think he ever would have as president.

A flawed human being for sure, and MaryJo Kopeckne will never be forgotten. I do think that he was drunk that night, and that informed his decision making. Is that an excuse? No. But, I do think it allows us to see him in another way besides a monster who simply let her die. How many of us have been drunk like that and not really in control of ourselves?

But as a senator, I think we will never see the likes of him again. He was from a generation that is now gone. A generation where if you were given riches, you had a duty to help others. People simply don't think that way today. If you are rich, you flaunt it and there is never enough. They simply want to amass more. Ted Kennedy wealth was one of the reasons he could be trusted as a senator. He couldn't be bought by a lobbyist--he had enough of his own.

In looking at photos from the funeral, I was struck the the photograph below. A man, sitting alone and obviously early out of respect and reverence--waiting.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bea Arthur

I know we've got some fans hanging around - a sad day - Bea Arthur has died. One of the coolest figures to ever grace a TV set, let's not kid ourselves...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Dresses at the Oscars

Hi Guys: I hope you're all doing well. I'm so busy with school and Oona that I don't get here much, but when I do, you guys have always posted quality things that I enjoy reading. You guys really ARE the best discussion buddies. So insightful. . . .

Anyway, you wanted my take on the Oscar dresses, right? You knew I'd come through.

First of all, wasn't the show GOOD?? I loved Hugh Jackman (is there anything that man can't do? Talk about a triple threat.), and I also really loved the way they gave out the lead and supporting roles, with an actor for each nominee talking about them. What I really wonder though, is if it was their own words. Most were so heartfelt. One that was really wooden and empty was Halle Berry--does she feel for others? I thought it was an excellent show, and I really enjoyed it. Loved the musical numbers, except Beyonce. She's not that talented, and she's freekin' everywhere. Can't someone else sing?

So, about the dresses. My pick? Peneolope Cruz, no one even close. She looked like a dream come true in vintage Balmain. A Spanish queen. She was simply lovely, lovely. So elegant. I have always found her to be stunningly beautiful and vastly talented. I am very happy for her win. Second place was Marisa Tomei in her origami Versace. That is a work of art walking, and she wore it well. Honestly, everyone else paled in comparision to these two. The few awful ones were Beyonce (she has to stop wearing her mother's clothes, even if this wasn't one of her mother's clothes) and Sophia Loren. Sophia Loren just made you cringe, it was so sad to see her looking so bad. Her stylist should be fired immediately. Everything was wrong. Everything.

For the men, honestly, I feel sorry for them having to wear the same damned thing like a bunch of penguins. I wish they'd get a little risky and put a little color or something into their tuxes. Oh, well.

This show was so good, I can't wait for next year.