Synergies

Synergies

For some reason, the form I had to fill out at the eye doctor’s office  – where I was way overdue for my check up – asked, among other things, about “hobbies.” Maybe they needed to know if I were into coal mining, glass blowing or needlepoint. In any case, after writing ‘golf” and “reading” I hesitated and then went ahead and wrote down “gardening.” Big step. I could hear the major chord play in my head and how it probably reverberated at the same moment in my wife’s. For years my experience with gardening was defined by the hard physical work of hauling, cutting, digging, while she was the serious tender of plants, with a “Master Gardener” designation from the University of Connecticut to prove it. I liked to revert to blatant gender bifurcation when I would describe our respective roles: I destroyed things; she cultivated them With the pandemic, however, came lots of free time. And that meant more time in the yard. Having already taken down enough trees over the last 15 years to have created open space, a walking trail and yet more garden “rooms,” I was done with the heavy-handed work and now down to...Read more
Sports Dome

Sports Dome

The notion that sports should keep to its own little world and athletes should remain out of politics has never been less plausible. That’s for two reasons these days: the one having to do with the permeability of Covid-19; the other because athletes have never been more aware of their place in the public spotlight. On the first issue, consider that within its first week of returning to the national sports scene with live action, Major League Baseball had to cancel 20 percent of its slated games because of infections afflicting three teams: the Miami Marlins (with 18 players and 3 staff testing positive), the Philadelphia Phillies (2 staff) and the St. Louis Cardinals (1 player, 3 staff). When you have teams traveling with club personnel and setting up in visitor locker rooms, infections travel quickly and linger. A few isolated cases can readily become an outbreak. This is the nightmare scenario facing all team sports, both professional and amateur/collegiate. For now, three major sports are underway following very different models, though all without paid spectators. Football is standing by watching, hoping and wondering if those sports can be made to work. Professional golf, meanwhile, seems to have had the...Read more
Off Stage

Off Stage

It would be nice to hear live music again. I was reminded of this yet again the other night when my wife and I sat down in my study to “attend” a live dance concert with the Texas swing band “Asleep at the Wheel.” Ray Benson, the band’s tall, bearded greying front man, led the octet in a selection of some of its most recognizable numbers – “Route 66,” “Boogie Back to Texas” – from a ranch resort outside Austin. The show, with virtual access costing $25, was promoted as “live,” though you could feel some of the artifice of the performance. It’s hard to muster the ambiance of a dance hall when, per the rules of social distancing, you are playing only to an audience of cameras, not real people. It will have to do, for now. Which is exactly the problem with all the other efforts at reclaiming lost aspects of our lives. There’s no better symbolism of the forced nature of the simulacrum that passes for returning to a semblance of normalcy than the way Major League Baseball has revived itself this (half)season. Empty ballparks, many of them “populated” with cardboard cutout spectators in the front rows,...Read more