October 2009 Archives
Because they’ve given him the voice of a lightly buzzed yuppie having a heart-to-heart with his “bro” shortly before leaving the bar and committing vehicular manslaughter.
Having attended more Yankee games this season than in any year past, I’ve become fascinated by the now de rigeur “entrance music” that each batter chooses to be played as he steps up to the plate. Mark Teixeira uses “I Wanna Rock” by Twisted Sister; Derek Jeter uses 50 Cent’s “Get Up”; Nick Swisher uses “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy” by the hat act Big & Rich. Fun stuff, and telling in its way, but pretty much what you’d expect from a bunch of jocks.
But late in the regular season, after the Yankees had clinched the division, I attended a game where they were starting a bunch of backups (who still demolished the hapless Kansas City Royals), among them the 30-year-old Shelley Duncan, whose impressive slugging in Triple A never quite seems to translate to the big leagues. But what an entrance-music choice! He strode to the plate to the White Stripes’s “Icky Thump.” Heavens, could there be a bona fide Rock Snob in the Yankees organization?
This naturally got me thinking what song I would choose if I were a Yankee position player. My first impulse was to make a joke of it and choose the gayest, most antithetical-to-jockdom song I could think of, something like Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out” or Bronski Beat’s “Smalltown Boy.” (I am, after all, from a small town.) But I soon realized that nothing could top the cognitive dissonance of the Yankee Stadium grounds crew’s ritual fifth-inning pantomiming of “YMCA,” a song conceived by Village People svengali Jacques Morali as an homage to cruising.
I then thought that something vaguely alt-rocky and Shelley Duncan-ish would be good, but what? Elvis Costello’s “Pump It Up” is one of the best pop singles ever recorded, and it has the right energy for a stadium, but the title phrase has become too cliché, not to mention redolent of steroid abuse. Big Audio Dynamite’s “C’mon Every Beatbox” is inspiring and dynamic but too English for the Bronx. The Beastie Boys’ “Sure Shot” has sports-appropriate lyrics and the right geographical pedigree, but it could almost qualify as jock rock.
So for the moment I’ve settled upon Lou Reed’s “Vicious,” because A) Reed is so New York; B) it’s a good, rollicking song to step up to the plate to; and C) there’s something subversive and enigmatic, especially in a baseball stadium, about the lyric “I hit you with a flower.”
About a year ago I was a part of a group of authors that participated in a charity fundraiser in Sacramento, California. The star attraction was John Grogan, the guy who wrote Marley & Me. Grogan turned out to be a personable, unpretentious man, easy to talk to, and I ruefully confessed to him that, while I have a dog, I hadn’t worked out an angle for lucratively exploiting my dog’s inherently endearing dogginess.
But now, the drumbeat begins. My dog, a shiba inu named Trixie, has made two recent appearances in “the media”: first, as part of my photo portfolio in Time Out New York...
...and now, as the faithful companion animal and seeming collaborator in Ross MacDonald’s new contributor’s illustration of me in Vanity Fair:
The occasion for this new round of Trix-sploitation is my article about Norman Rockwell in the November issue of Vanity Fair. Rockwell was keen on including dogs in his portraits of work and family life, so having Trixie pose with me seemed apposite. (Though it borders on heresy to have a purebred in the picture; Rockwell’s dogs were invariably mutts.)
If you’re looking for a more immediate experience than my longish article on Rockwell, Ross and I did a slide show with audio voice-over for Vanity Fair’s Web site.
My dog, incidentally, is repped by Suzanne Gluck and Jennifer Walsh at William Morris Endeavor Entertainment.
No sooner had I finished Nick Hornby’s highly entertaining new novel, Juliet, Naked, did I learn that its narrative was inspired, believe it or not, by my 2007 Vanity Fair piece on Sly Stone. Hornby says so in an interview with National Public Radio’s Terry Gross that you can read excerpts of and/or listen to here.
Let the record show that Hornby’s protagonist is a loser male Rock Snob obsessed with a reclusive musician named Tucker Crowe. But the person who actually gets to meet Crowe in Juliet, Naked—the way I actually got to meet Sly Stone—is the male loser’s pretty and more sensible girlfriend. Can we say that I fall somewhere in between the two characters?
Like a lot of people, I was whomped by this year’s succession of big-name summertime deaths: Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Walter Cronkite, John Hughes, Ellie Greenwich, Teddy Kennedy, etc.
So I set out to explain—first to myself and then to Vanity Fair readers—why this particular round of deaths seemed to hit us with more force than others have. The result is an essay you can read on V.F.’s Web site called “Twentieth-Century Nostalgia, or the ‘Summer of Death’ Explained.”
My post on the unsung but appealingly named NFL defensive tackle Leger Douzable prompted an e-mail from, of all people, Douzable’s mother, Felichia Henry of Tampa, Florida. Ms. Henry writes, “Thought you’d want to know that he was activated today to the Rams roster. Hopefully he has found a home for a very long time.”
Though Leger is no longer a Giant, I wish him well with the Rams, and we in the Leger Douzable Fan Club share his mom’s hope that he indeed enjoys longevity and prosperity in the NFL.
Now I have to get serious about those fan-club t-shirts...