Monthly Archives: December 2008

Jason We Hardly Knew Ye

cubholtzmanKenny Holtzman

When Kenny Holtzman pitched for the Cubs, every Yid on the North Side got a bissel faklempt.

Cubs Padres Spring BaseballJason Marquis

Nobody even noticed when Jason Marquis took the mound. He more than lived up to his notices, kept his nose clean, didn’t take drugs.

Yesterday, nobody seemed to shed a tear when he was traded for a bag of balls.

I’m probably missing something, but to remember him, here’s a bit of baseball history from reader Igal Medad that’s a bit heavy on the Sandy Koufax but otherwise much better than anything doing during the 7th inning stretch at Wrigley.

Oh, are the Ross Baumgartens and Richie Scheinblums of my youth?

ryan_braun_autographRyan Braun, alias the ‘Hebrew Hammer’

(In case you’re interested, a list of Jewish ballplayers is available here).

Only 40 days to Spring Training! Happy New Year to all.



Thoughtful NYT obit of Rabbi Arnold Wolff.

Until I met Arnold, I didn’t know that ‘Reb’ and friend could be one and the same.

With his left hand he reached back to Martin Luther King and the activism of the 1960; with the right he touched Obama. In a letter to the family, Obama wrote:

My conversations with him were always lively. You knew that if he disagreed with you, he would let you know in no uncertain terms — especially if he thought you were overlooking the moral dimensions of an issue, or rationalizing your own failure to live up to the highest moral principles. But he did it with kindness, and often with a smile or a laugh to let you know that even though you were just plain wrong, and had no idea what you were talking about, he still loved you.

No shortage of anecdotes at his memorial. When a woman, who was chanting the Torah to a congregation, lost her place in the text, Arnold called out ‘Read anything, it’s all good.’

I spent a lot of time talking baseball with Arnold.

Too bad he didn’t live to see his friend, and fellow White Sox fan, in the White House.

New Year’s Eve: Just One More Gammelfleischparty

John Carroll at the SF Chronicle gets 2008 just about right.

Especially the Charlie Haden/Pat Metheney recording and the word of the year, gammelfleischparty.

Which means any gathering that includes people over age 30.

Thanks for link to Gary, SF-based brother, ever insightful, supportive, and forgiving.
Gary hisself

Only Literature is Left Unarmed


A beautiful and insightful quote from John Berger’s Here is Where We Met that deepened my appreciation for the talents of neighbor, author, and Music Hall descendant, Nicholas Delbanco.

It was in the Old Met Music hall that I first learnt how to judge claims to style, learnt the rudiments of criticism…surrounded by a noisily receptive and unforgiving public, who judged the stand-up comics, the adagio acrobats, the singers, the ventriloquists pitilessly. We saw Tessa O’Shea bring the house down, and we saw her booed off stage, her hair wet with tears.

An act had to have style. The audience had to be won over twice a night. And to do this, the non-stop sequence of gags had to lead to something more mysterious: the conspiratorial, irreverent proposition that life itself was a stand-up act!

Max Miller, ‘The Cheeky Chappie’ in a silver suit with his hyperthyroid eyes, played on the triangular stage like an irrepressible sea lion, for whom every laugh was a fish to be swallowed. Each comedian played a victim, a victim who had to win the hearts of all those who had bought tickets, and who were also victims.

Harry Champion came downstage, hands out, begging for help, on the verge of tragedy….Flanagan and Allen rushed on , as if on urgent business and late. Then they showed, at high speed, that the whole world and its urgencies was based on a profound misunderstanding.

The microphone is going to kill their art, Ken whispered to me in the gallery. I asked him what he meant. Listen to how they use their voices, he explained. They talk across the whole theatre and we’re in the middle of them. If they use a mike, this will stop and the public will no longer be in the middle. The secret of music hall artists is that they play defenceless, like we all are. A player with a mike is armed1 It’s another ball game.



Ben Stein, actor, game-show host, sex object, and Reagan administration alum, offers perspective in the Business Section of Sunday’s NYT (Ben has his own site, replete with an impressive filmography, especially for an economist.)

Words of wisdom from Ferris Bueller’s favorite teacher. In case you’ve been avoiding business news.

Bunk is on the Take

s1-wendellpierce2Wendell Pierce as William ‘Bunk’ Moreland

For fans of HBO’s The Wire:

Earlier this year, economist and author Sudhir Venkatesh wrote a series of articles (on the NYT Freakonomics Blog) that included commentary on The Wire’s 5th season from a group of New York City gang leaders.

the_wire_marloJamie Hector as Marlo Stanfield

Links to successive commentaries are below the text.

Amost as good as the bonus commentary on the CDs.

“Cheap and Ugly”

That’s the marketing approach employed (using the proper Japanese pronounciation su-BAH-roo) for ‘our Little Subaru.’ Cool car, groovy chicks, perfect period ads. Suicide doors, no clutch, and $1297 P.O.E. In 1970 no less!

Overwhelmed by nostalgia, I’m still in love with the 360.