In an effort is to make this site more blog-like (is that good or bad?), we are going to incorporate more stories from places that folks following this site and the Philadelphia sporting scene would otherwise miss.
Call it a public service.
So in this public service to you, the dear reader, I'll assort all the things that pass my way that is noteworthy and post it here as many mornings as I am in business. Some of it will be about baseball and the Phillies and some will come from the sports world. But most of it will be about other things. That's just the way it goes.
Plus, how much sports writing can one read, really?
Anyway, there are two magazines in which everyone should own a subscription if they want to be (relatively) switched on to the basic cultural trends.
The other magazines can just be put out in the recycling bin.
One of those magazines is Esquire, which is in its 75th year of telling grown men not to wear sports jerseys lest they want to commit a social faux pas and look like some sort of a philistine. In fact, in a recent issue of the magazine it was suggested that there was a name for grown men who wore the jersey of their favorite team while out and about in public.
They're called professional athletes.
The other magazine that people should subscribe to is The New Yorker, which is a weekly that digs deeper into stories so that the nuance has nuance. The magazine is also the home to cartoons that are not funny and original poetry and prose. Actually, The New Yorker is doing the same things now that it did decades ago. Once I heard editor David Remnick say in an interview that he didn't care about how long the stories in his magazine were as long as the writing was interesting. This struck me as an odd thing to say because shouldn't that be the case in every publication?
Obviously, it isn't the case.
Nevertheless, I remember sitting in the library at J.P. McCaskey High in Lancaster, Pa. thumbing through the latest edition of the magazine looking at the names of the writers and all of the different styles they used to tell a story. But more interesting than that was the pages of events listings that has always been a staple of The New Yorker. Right up front, before the always entertaining "Talk of the Town" column , columns and columns of agate type describing where and when all the latest bands, plays, shows and openings were going down. Sometimes I actual got dizzy thinking that out there, in one city, all this stuff was going on and quite clearly there wasn't anything happening in Lancaster.
As a result my friends and I got together on weekend evenings and spent time tripping the alarms on the houses in our neighborhood.
What, did you think there was a Jean-Luc Goddard retrospective happening downtown?
In the March 27 issue of the magazine there's a story by Eric Alterman chronicling the death of the American newspaper business. I'm one of those guys that believes advancements in technology should only makes things better - particularly when it comes to words, discourse and information. Yet for some reason the scions of the newspaper business just don't understand how to make it work, which, clearly is because of a forgetfulness of the newspapers' mission. For some reason folks believe that news, information and art is a product or a commodity like anything else.
Those are folks we like to refer as pigs.
Anyway, newspapers are dead. Stick a fork in them. If you don't believe me read Alterman's story.
Meanwhile, a guy who seems to get what the mission of the story is a fellow named Bob Lefsetz. An ex-publisher of a influential newsletter on the music business-turned web site, Lefsetz now turns out daily posts on, oddly enough, Lefsetz.com, because, "I'm just passionate about music and trying to speak the truth about it."
In a story by Josh Freedom duLac of The Washington Post, Lefsetz is described as the Jim Cramer of music writing... only without the millions from hedge funds to pay the freight. Simply, Lefsetz just wants to write about what matters to him and big-wigs in the business have taken notice.
Is that so wrong?
Speaking of wrong, I caught the 1 a.m. edition of the PBS show Frontline the other night just in time to watch the latest piece called, "Bush's War." Complete with over 400 interviews, including extended talks with the so-called "architects" of the war in Iraq and many of the generals, the Frontline episode should be viewed as the first honest retrospective of the five-year old war.
PBS shows the series regularly, but if you miss it on the tube it's available for online viewing.
Perhaps the most striking part about the first hour of "Bush's War" was how readily some of those in charge of the operation were willing to admit that the plans and the policies were and are "a fiasco."
I wish there were something I could add here.
Finally, it appears as if Barack Obama will hit Lancaster on Monday (and I thought nothing happened here) for a rally. Hillary Clinton also made the trip to Lancaster last week to film a special for MTV, hold a rally at Millersville University, and then be sucked up to by the local press. That's probably how it will go with Barry Obama, too.
Celebrities can do no wrong here in Lancaster as far as the locals go.
Unfortunately, Monday is also the opening day of the baseball season, so I'm stuck going to the ballpark...
Could that be the first time that sentence has ever been written? Sure, hang around the press box and that sentiment is right there on the surface, but as far as typed out on a keyboard and thrown out there for consumption, yes, I believe it is the first time someone has complained about having to go to a baseball game.
ClicksThe New Yorker: Out of Print - Death and Life of the American Newspaper. The Washington Post: Rage Against the Machine - Bob Lefsetz, the Music Industry's Go-To GadflyFrontline: Bush's War