Tuesday, August 17, 2010

'To hit the ball and touch 'em all, a moment in the sun..'

Sorry to hear today of the death of Bobby Thomson, the Scot who hit what might be the most famous - or at least the most romanticized - home run in baseball history.

I've been a baseball fan since I first came to the US in 1982 and I love the game's history; the sense that every season and every player is connected to those who went before, and that history is especially rich here in New York.

The fact that Thomson and Ralph Branca subsequently made a career of telling their respective stories - together - on the after-dinner circuit shows the power of that moment, and its place in the collective national psyche, as something much bigger, even, than them as individuals.

(I also have a ball autographed by former Dodger and Cub Andy Pafko, over whose head Thomson's drive soared that day before leaving the field; as well as an autographed photo of the player waiting on deck to bat behind Thomson, a young man by the name of Willie Mays)

The event was so dramatic and resonant and so perfectly of its time - after all it is the call on radio, not TV, that is remembered - as to define these two mens' lives for the rest of their days. It was clearly the stuff of epic tales, and it deserved a master storyteller to truly bring a version of it to life for those of us who obviously weren't there.

Nearly a half-century later, Don DeLillo's expansive and brilliant "Underworld" perfectly captured a fictional, but very real, drama of that day in its jaw-dropping introduction.

It might be as close to the "great American novel" as it's possible to get, and it's still, by some measure, the best book I've ever read.


And talking of slowing things down, here's a very cool way to make Justin Bieber just a little more palatable...

When I first listened to this, I have to admit I was completely spellbound. It reminded me immediately of Sigur Ros, or Terry Riley, or Hans Zimmer's remarkable score for 'Inception' or of something Rhys Chatham might do. But, whale sounds or not, I couldn't turn it off.

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