April 16, 2011

my art was a knife

John Gutmann, The Artist Lives Dangerously, 1938

* A nice piece on Roger Angell. excerpt:

Roger Angell's memories of Babe Ruth at Yankee Stadium are moving pictures in his head, deposited there when he was a boy absorbed by the pastime and the world around him. The Babe's big bat, his heavy flannel uniform, the men in fedoras watching him: You and I, way late to the party, have been fed these black-and-white snaps by PBS specials and Hall of Fame exhibits, but that's not the case for Angell. For him, they're in color. Angell is the grand master of the first-hand observation, which is why his baseball writing in The New Yorker is so original and lively and has been for 50 years.
"The nature of memory has changed," he said the other day, with the new season a calendar flip away. Old Yankee Stadium was shiny and new when he started watching games there in 1930 at age nine. Spring training was just catching on. "In those days, there was no television and there weren't many photos in the paper. You saw the ballplayers at the ballpark." They weren't larger than life. (Well, Ruth was.) They looked, Angell says, "like your older brother." Now the players look like giants. Angell's fine with it. They're better athletes, he says.
In 1976, on a manual typewriter, Angell wrote about the joy of holding a baseball, "a perfect object for a man's hand." In his office the other day, Roger held a game ball from last season for a minute or two. Age has curved his fingers. Retired catchers have the same fingers, battered by foul tips and long swings. He gripped the ball's red laces and said, "Now I can throw the knuckler." His bent digits, or the many seasons they represent, have only helped his keyboard strikes.

* Stolen Pills, by Spiral Stairs, from his excellent 2009 album, The Real Feel.

* Alice Denham, the only Playboy centerfold who authored a short story in the same issue (July 1956).

* "Painting is not done to decorate apartments." -- Picasso


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