Trifler No. 15 [On Retrospect]

 “A man that is young in years may be old in hours.” –Sir Francis Bacon

We dotted a tiered building. Some had climbed suspension cables and concrete to the top; others stood on individual blocks between top and middle. We—four friends, my wife, and I—planted ourselves on the large terrace halfway up. Everyone watched the night sky. Last light this time of year is near 22:30, and it was now fifteen minutes beyond that. Then we heard a dull thud and saw a dim trail of light to the West followed by a burst of blue. And then another, this time green. “See if you can guess the next colour,” said someone next to me. “Purple,” I said, thinking of my alma mater. It was green again. Three boomers—the variety you can feel in your chest—rocketed up and exploded. The show began to escalate, and we stood there, mesmerised and silent.

The building on which we stood is perhaps one of the ugliest in Cambridge. Students and Fellows of Christ College lovingly refer to it as ‘the typewriter building’, but even that noble name cannot redeem it. It is, during the day, a blight on the landscape and a sad testament to the pretensions of an age that tossed out architectural continuity and beauty for the sake of surprise, utility, and a particular theory of art as statement. It falls into that most terrible of art-categories, the conversation piece. But this night the typewriter building, peppered with stationary, up-gazing students standing on various key levels, lit only by the filtered blue glow of city lights and the flashes of distant fireworks was as beautiful as I had ever seen it—perhaps as beautiful as it will ever be, for it held divine image bearers, who, though dizzied and confused by imported, digital pleasures minute by minute, will still stop to look—if not at the stars—at man’s fire in the night sky. 

This was not our first fireworks show in Cambridge. We watched them shoot from the river on the fifth of November, standing on Midsummer Common. That time, a child sat on my shoulders, eating a brownie, chattering, and strewing crumbs in my hair and another child stood next to me, holding my hand. That was a glorious night, but we still felt like strangers and aliens observing another man’s ceremony and another man’s festival. This time was different. It seemed, somehow, more comfortable, like it was as much for us as for those standing with us. What is more, it felt like an end—like a rounding off of sorts. Easter Term was complete, and with the fireworks went the Cambridge year. The city was nearing the conclusion of its yearly cycle—students flooding out, tourists flooding in, punting solicitors prowling ever farther in search of prey, sporadic showers brewed in the fens interrupting humid afternoons, green upon green upon green in the parks and hedges and lanes, paths foot-flattened; sluggish brown water, stirred and muddied by steady run-off and boating; scaffolding around gothic towers and neoclassical pillars, and BBC One blaring out over worksites. I felt old in hours and new in minutes. I knew in that moment I was a newcomer to this city and only beginning to work into its routines and attitudes and moods. I knew that the first year had been largely guesswork—a gauging of the atmosphere from fragments of conversation and snatched weather reports, an extrapolation from particular to local, a series of social triangulations and prevarications, a long succession of bike rides and internal mappings, a march of ancient and new routine, of prayers, of sleeps, of study, of walks, of meals.

The display lasted only fifteen minutes and left us in a half-dark. The night was humid, and the smoke of the show began to float East across the city towards us and settle like a fog. We said goodbyes, found our bikes, opened the gate, and trundled down King’s street toward Jesus Green. The streets were emptied of people, and street lights glowed beyond their shells. I began to smell the sharp, almost spiced odour of firework smoke. We turned off of Jesus Lane, passed the ADC, the Maypole, and Park Street Primary, and were in the open of Jesus Green. By now it looked like a fog had slithered up from the river and mingled with the smoke. It wreathed the lamp posts and haloed their lamps. Our bikes creaked slightly on the uneven ground, and I called out to my wife, “A Sherlock night, huh?” She must have nodded, for I heard no response. I saw us then, as one might see us from the river—two black shadows cutting through the ground-clinging fog at an even pace, her back straight, mine bent to the handlebars, legs moving in even pumps.

I thought then how this place has made me a kind of connoisseur of bicycle form: the elegant, the lumbering, the sleek, the symmetric, the safety-conscious (always the least elegant and most uncomfortable), the cautious, the foolhardy. I know them at a glance. I know too the look of large men consuming small bikes, and large bikes consuming small men. A bike may extend a woman’s beauty in striking ways or minimise it. The bike can make the athletic man look coltish and the willowy man strong. Some days I believe I can tell a man’s politics by the way he bikes—the more safety gear, the farther he is to the left. But delusions abound in the translation of forms, and I hold these views lightly. Still, I have found that the great difference between the graceful and the jolting cyclist is in how he deals with natural road bumps. The safety-conscious man and the cautious man stiffen and lock and shake and jar and judder and pull their brakes and frown. The graceful man and the confident man absorb shocks with knees and shoulders and neck, stand on pedals, maintain speed. Their movements are even and slow, like eagles wheeling in an updraft. The cautious lurch and twitch like dying insects. I fancied that night that we were among the graceful.

The fog and smoke lessened as we climbed Carlyle Road, dismounted, and locked up our bikes. Muffled music floated from the Trinity May Ball downtown and beacon lights moved across the sky. Alexandra Gardens sat dark, and our apartment waited. After stopping just a moment to listen, we stepped across the street and inside, the fireworks still ringing in our ears.

The next night, I sat in a crowd atop Castle Hill. A light rain fell. We shared olives and prosecco and watched the southern sky over St. John’s. The rain stopped. We heard a thud. The sky lit up red. The crowd ahhhed approval. I thought again, as I gazed down on the ancient city, that, if last night had been the end of the year, this was its beginning. I felt a sense of completion and of commencement—of having become a resident of a place. I know its grocery stores. I have heard its celebration and its lament. I have lain on its greens and boated its river. I have a barber. Though Kansas will always be my native land, I have lived in Cambridge long enough to miss it when I leave, for I have heard the steady march of localism.  

R. Eric Tippin
Written with great delay and much consternation
Corner House, Cambridge
June 19-28, 2016

Image:
"Nocturne: Blue and Gold"
Oil on Canvas - c. 1872-1875
James McNeill Whistler

Gambler, No. 22 [The Zoo]

“Modesty is too fierce and elemental a thing for the modern pedants to understand; I had almost said too savage a thing. It has in it the joy of escape and the ancient shyness of freedom.” – G.K. Chesterton

I

I thought the song fitting, as I grimaced and groaned, lifting the weight over my head to isolate my triceps. The UNLV recreational center will, once or twice a month, play Weezer’s “Island in the Sun,” and as I lifted my old bones groaned and my grimace turned to smirk. My afternoon bike ride to the gym flashed before my brain, my mile ride in the one-hundred and fourteen degree heat, the breeze offering only insult to injury. As if when a man opens an oven and feels the rush of heat, so felt the breeze that afternoon while I rode with head down, wishing it would all just end. I had just begun lifting when Weezer’s song came on, so I was still affected by my ride in. I completed the rep, caught a glimpse of my swoll triceps in the mirror, and after a quick rep of shoulder-lifts, heaving a mighty stone from waist to neck, I took a break and listened to Cuomo’s familiar vocals.

“On an island in the sun,
We’ll be playing and having fun,
And it makes me feel so fine
I can’t control my brain.”*

I live in the island in the sun, I thought. But an actual island in the sun is more like heavy metal. Even the bike rides are torture, and a man feels light-headed and queasy after a few revolutions. I smiled, though, at their choice of music on such a day and looked around for a friendly eye to catch, another human who heard the same joke. As with many experiences of this nature, I was disappointed. For as I looked for a friendly face, I only then remembered the sad truth that every modern man is an island. For each human lifted and listened in his own little world, ears perpetually attached to headphones. So I smiled all the more. I had the gym all to myself.

Despite generally being tuned out, the inhabitants of Vegas are, I think, aware that they exist in the Inferno. I, for one, am beginning to see myself as a pilgrim of sorts – a mixture between Odysseus and Dante, a man longing to get back home, a man longing to reach purgatory, at least. But, I do hope that final layer is a lake of ice. In any case, as I wheel myself in circles around this town and the flames of judgment rise, I can only think that those flames of purgatory look awful cool. But recently I realized, once again, that I’m living in the layer of hypocrites.

II

“I’m feeling like some White Castle,” he said, finishing his beer, a blonde-hued Hefeweizen.

“White Castle, eh? I’ve never been. We don’t have one in K.C.” I said this and thought only of my wallet, and then he spoke. He may as well have punched me in the gut. The only White Castle in Vegas is on the Strip. My stomach churned. I felt like vomiting. Horrid flashes of Decadence in her naked shame flashed before me. But I am trying to be a better neighbor; I am trying to be a better friend; I am trying, in short, to be a better human. And if that means doing things I loathe, such as entering the belly of the beast, well, “I suppose…” I assented. I finished my Belgian-Wit, and we left the Gordon-Biersch brew-pub, jumped in the Toyota, flew past the most gaudy and ridiculous Ferris Wheel this side the Inferno, rolled into the Harrah’s parking garage, climbed to the very top, and spinning in circles, descended back to the bottom, for there was no room at this inn.

We had better luck at Planet Hollywood. Had I known this was the casino we were parking at, I may have put my foot down – first on the break, then switching back and forth with the gas, put it down firmly again on the gas and parked at a casino that didn’t shout nonsense quite so loudly. We headed to the elevators and observed a poster of Jennifer Lopez. “What is she forty-five?” I said more as a statement, judgmentally, disgusted. We were impatient and took the escalators. Winding down in circles once again, we plummeted to the depths of the Strip. Finally, we entered the Planet Hollywood shopping mall. Since there is absolutely nothing interesting or unique about a shopping mall – as dull and diverse as parking garages, I will not disdain to describe the place. But, if you keep the Inferno in mind…

III

In our crumbling American society there exists a group of humans who can only be labeled as hypocrites. They make Pecksniff and Uriah Heep look charming. These hypocrites, attempting to elect their Chief this November, are, if I may be so blunt, a living, breathing, all-too-healthy plague upon society. That is, their moral mindset, founded on hypocrisy, is a plague; the humans carrying this plague are often innocent victims. Innocent, because they blindly follow the blind and don’t know exactly why they think what they do. This race of creatures among us is, indeed, the feminist. That creature who preaches killing off the race in the name of Choice. That creature who walks the streets with a club, just looking for an opportunity to wail on any man who objectifies a woman. Such a man needs a good clubbing, no doubt. But such a man shouldn’t then go clubbing, lest he wants to see hundreds of hypocritical feminists asking him to objectify them only to be then clubbed to death. Any man with any sort of Christian morals should beware that the Strip is, in many ways, the great contradiction that is feminism. Here you have droves of young women, droves of young, wide-eyed, angry, pestering, nagging, bragging, strutting, self-righteous, pharisaical, fuming, and fiery feminists. Here you have the future of femininity “freely” expressing itself, living its independence. These independent women, these independent females, these independent feminists walk and gawk and talk as if nothing in life could be better than walking the Strip half-naked and half-witted.

As we made our way to the White Castle, I said to my comrade,

“You know, a Gentlemen’s Club is really just a zoo.”

He didn’t seem so sure what to say, and I explained the metaphor. But I may as well have said that the Strip is really just a zoo. Trucks drive by with independent feminists plastered on the side, asking you to simply look; more independent feminists dance in cages near card tables, asking you to simply look; other independent feminists call themselves show-girls and flap their feathers like brainless birds, asking you to simply look; other independent feminists are card-sized, with numbers, handed to you and scattered all over the sidewalks, asking for you to simply look. And all of this goes on while more independent feminists walk around and mimic the showgirls, displaying their hypocrisy for all to see, begging everyone to simply look.

We finally arrived at White Castle. I hadn’t much of an appetite, and we sat at the end of a long table. Eventually, a family sat next to us, a dad across the way with his young daughter, seven or eight years old. We talked about something as my comrade ate, but I could only think of that young girl and what she was witnessing. Here she was, just out of her innocence, thankfully not yet in her independence, strolling down the only Vegas zoo – the zoo that captures unsuspecting – yet independent – feminists, deceiving them into their captivity. This zoo that strips them of their soul, down to nothing but flesh; this zoo in which evolution works backwards; this zoo in which the people act like animals; this zoo in which not one feminist is seen preaching on a street corner, denouncing the madness, asking for the animals to be released back into the wild of a cultured and moral society. For a true feminist would. A true feminist would not put up with it. A true feminist would be enraged at the caging of her fellow female. And as I thought about this, it only made me sick to my stomach. I was, I guess, not alone in my thoughts. At least one other person that evening thought as I did, and she too was sick to her stomach. For as I looked back over at the little girl, she was not dancing. No. She was vomiting all over the table.

Broom Snow
The Jolly Mariner – Rochelle Avenue
Las Vegas, Nevada
June 21, 2016

Painting: "Where's My Good Little Girl?"
by Thomas Faed,
Oil on canvas, 1882

__________________________

*I’ve a good notion what this song is about and am more than aware it is not islands in the sun.

Gambler, No. 21 [The Sun]

Dr. Johnson recommended to me, as he had often done, to drink water only: “For (said he,) you are then sure not to get drunk; whereas if you drink wine you are never sure.” I said drinking wine was a pleasure which I was unwilling to give up. “Why, Sir, (said he,) there is no doubt that not to drink wine is a great deduction from life; but it may be necessary.” – Boswell

Malleyn, Gerrit, 1753-1816; A Hawking Party

I

We’ve been warned. For eight straight months, we have been warned. Like some one-eyed prophet streaking across the sky, our coming destruction has been proclaimed. “I am still here,” it has said, even when the cool wind tears through town and the men look down. “I am still here,” it repeats when winter clouds cloud our judgment, and forty-degrees feels cold. “I am still here,” it shouts through showers of rain, when men, such foolish men, sneer and snicker at its absence. It is like a jilted lover, seeking its revenge on men who exalt in their escape. There is nothing worse than a lover like Cleopatra; there is nothing worse than a town full of Antony’s. No matter how hard they try to leave, they return. But there exists in Vegas a race of men who race from their god. Indeed, the pagans called it a god, and a jealous god it is. A tyrannical god, even. For this god forces, coerces, strangles the love out of its subjects. Though the men curse it, they recognize their need for it. This god I speak of is the sun.

In April we experienced the first rains since December. We probably had about ten days of some type of rainfall. The valley was perfect. Flowers bloomed, blossomed. Nights out on the Plank of the Jolly Mariner were pleasant; a sweatshirt was at times needed in the early morning hours. May was warmer, but anything but hot. The flowers blossomed still. The birds sang. The foolish men still shook their fists in derision of the sun. Then, it finally happened. As if someone flipped a switch, June welcomed us with triple-digit weather. The sun bore down upon us. It left its throne in the heavens to be near us; it began its yearly incarnation. That is, its reverse incarnation. If successful, it will not become a son but propagate more suns, as men melt into gassy blobs.

II

The Blue Ox is a fine establishment near the airport that I recommend to any visitor to Las Vegas with a few disclaimers. While for some reason there is no beer menu there is good beer (order the "Downtown Brown"), and while they do not allow pipe-smoking, they still have gender-segregated bathrooms. Aptly named, it is Minnesota-themed. Pictures of geese on a lake line the walls, or men ice-fishing. Unfortunately, there are televisions and music, but there are no crowds. This past Saturday I sat in a booth with a colleague, enjoying a brown ale with few others present. We discussed politics, religion, and English studies, and while we agree less about the God of the Jews than fine brews, we at least agree upon something. We are both, moreover, experiencing the desert heat for the first time. As we walked outside into the ninety-degree night, the air felt cool and pleasant. My colleague then turned to me and said something along the lines of

“Yeah, so I left my house late this morning and the mid-ninety degree weather actually felt cool.”

I concurred with this assessment of the day’s weather and left for my car.

Just last week I ran into this same colleague on my bike. We chatted by a palm tree near the UNLV Student Union and about halfway into the conversation, we observed the necessity to avoid the sun. He stood sheltered in the skinny strip of shade, as I was baking in the rays. As we observed this, I subconsciously nudged my bike into the safe-zone, pushing him closer to the tree but not into the dead-zone. Immediately, my body thanked my good sense. Shade is important in any climate. I remember seeking shade beneath the Cyprus trees of City Park in Manhattan last summer, as I cut the grass. But in Kansas, heat is democratic. It shoots from the sun but the air soaks it up and spreads it around. Kansas heat stifles, suppresses, strangles, suffocates its subjects because it operates more like an airy and soppy spirit hovering about. A man may swim to work on two feet in Kansas and feel all the hotter for doing so. He cannot escape the heat because it surrounds him.

III

The typical response I receive from people outside of Vegas when I tell them of its heat goes something like this:

“Ah, yes,” they say with a look of grave confidence, “but it is a dry heat, no doubt.”

No doubt any man walking a mile in the desert, chanting to himself “ah, yes, but it is a dry heat, no doubt,” will soon learn to unlearn this folly. Of course, anyone who has swam through a Kansas summer begs for a dray towel. But the desert dryness works as both a blessing and a curse. It is, as it were, friend and foe. Ninety-five degrees in Vegas does feel cooler. But a man thinking he can simply walk the Vegas streets in July without a five-gallon jug of water strapped to his back deceives himself. Or, he is a local. Somehow the locals bike, and run, and walk, and smoke without any water. I can’t hardly make it a block without seeing many mirages of wells. A man moving to Vegas from the Midwest must be judicious. He must stock up on lip-balm and apply it hourly. He must realize that his morning cup of Joe ought to be pre-gamed with a glass of water and followed with a taller. If he has any notion of drinking a beer that evening, he must drink nothing but water throughout the day and drink it continuously until the moment of imbibing his beer. This must also be followed by three or four glasses of water. And if this poor soul has the noble and natural notion to smoke a pipe, he must either wash down each puff with a hearty gallon, or concede to have cottonmouth for three days. He must be a brave man to have a pipe and a pint.

By modern American standards, the tap water is pretty bad in Vegas. To help with this trial, I recently bought two five-gallon jugs which I fill with clean water from one a many fill-up stations around town. If there was some way to siphon the water into my body, that would be ideal. Anyhow, this is only the most obvious effect of dry heat. You cannot walk in it unless you’re a camel. But I’ve lately hypothesized a theory regarding the sun. For the Vegas sun is very intimate with its sons. It feels as if it’s on your shoulder at times. I’ve wondered at this because I’ve never been tempted to hate the sun before, no matter how hot. It’s always been my favorite star. But it’s not just me. June witnessed its own bloom. Umbrellas of all sorts blossomed this month, as men sought to avoid the sun; I purchased a straw, cream-colored fedora which has bloomed atop the stem of my body, a sort of defiant gesture both to my hatless generation and the sun. Indeed, my theory of the Vegas sun, lacking all science, is that the thin air offers even less resistance to the tyranny of its rays. The dry air that causes less humidity removes the one barrier we have from Apollo, and men, soon to burst like small supernova’s, walk like living shades, crawling from sliver of shade to sliver of shade. But as this gloomy Gambler is written during the brief relief of a ninety-degree cold-front, I can reflect on last week's heat and look forward to next week's, and indeed to the next three months of unrelenting, dry Vegas heat. I can only hope that in the coming months my life does not reflect the sun but rather the Son.

Broom Snow
The Jolly Mariner – Rochelle Avenue
Las Vegas, Nevada
June 12–16, 2016

Painting: "A Hawking Party"
By Gerrit Malleyn,
Oil on canvas, c. 1779

Trifler No. 14 [On Entering a Gym and a Game of Ball or Two True Myths]

“If America’s pastime could continue / past time, after the reign of noise and the city, / when most have retreated / to the hidden places of the world, tucked back / into the thicket of themselves. This game / would be a mirror to that future—the crack / of ash against ball, the smack of fist and leather / ghosting through a phantom crowd, / no collective stretch of arms to soften a home / run’s flight, no thousand cheers or shouts / like the quickening rush of water.”  -- Bryn Homuth

I struck the board and cried, "No more! I will join a proper gym." I had spent the last eight months working out in the Christ’s College gym, which requires one to descend two flights of stairs—the first into a white-tiled, water-fountained, utilitarian basement reminiscent of Got Milk posters, the second into a narrow-halled windowless dungeon with two doors, one leading into a squash court, the other into a low-ceilinged, carpeted gym. Inside this gym one finds a few cardio machines, a few weight machines, a pull-up bar too near the ceiling for a full pull-up, and one or two silent, cramped exercisers fighting not only gravity but the desire to rush from this pale-lit, hopeless place. You will find no free weights. You will find no escape from another man’s humidity. You will find no joy.

Just off of Parker’s piece sits a palatial, YMCA-esque building with tall windows, a pool, and happy people going in and out. As I cycled by this building on Mill Road one day, I noticed a billboard-sized poster that read, “Students, get fit and don’t break the bank” or some such slogan. The light at Mill Road and East Road turned. I stopped, looked back at the poster, and considered. I had gained much from my move to Cambridge—Gothic spires, neo-classical pillars, a college chapel (complete with prayer book services), Jesus Green, The Cam, Alexandra Gardens, sartorial ritual, among other things. But I had lost my gym, my airy, window-walled, free-weighted, Gym filled with all the mythical gym characters: Chicken Legs, Shoulders, Sweat-Pants, Triceps, Tattoo, Checklist, Lady Mary, Grunt, Hair-Gel, Big Headphones, Flirter, Knee-Brace, Station-Stealer, Super-Mom, Cell Phone, The Friend, Starer, ‘Spot me, Bro?’, Spindle-Arms, Man in the Mirror, New Year’s Resolution, Injury, "Just here to talk," No-Neck, Leg-Day, Hawaiian Cut-off, Atlas, Sweat-Suit, Man-Lady, Ladies-Man, Old Yeller. The place was a kind of Olympian pantheon of undying gods and goddesses moving in higher time, separate from their everyday selves. If one doubts whether legends come true, one need only travel the western world and step into large gyms. All doubt will flee. My move to Cambridge removed me from this world to which I had grown accustomed and in which, I suppose, I had my own role.

So, a week later, I stepped through the large sliding-glass door of the Parkside Pools and Gym, determined to re-enter that mythical world. After the necessary preliminaries, I took the stairs to the weight room. I pushed through the door and there before me stood Old Yeller, his face twisted in pain, making a noise like someone had stabbed him in the foot. Across the room, Cell Phone sat on some machine bench taking a selfie. And there was Hair Gel by the dumbbells—and Chicken Legs, as far away from the squat racks as he could get. Checklist scratched a number on her notepad by the suspension station. And Atlas, their chief, moved among them all spurring them on just by his presence. I breathed a deep breath and re-joined their company.

I left the place a little unsteadily. Free-weights are to machine-weights what drip coffee is to instant decaf, and after a time of abstinence, they leave one a bit shaky. I eased onto my bike with no little trouble, crossed East Road and began the pedal across Parker’s Piece. Just then I heard a metallic ting impossible to mistake coming from my left. I looked over, and there, on the lawn, was a group of people playing baseball. It is difficult to describe my thoughts at that moment. Having just stepped into a kind of fairyland of mythical gym types, here I was watching baseball, the American pastime, in its primal form, exiled here; and its primal form is perhaps its most beautiful form. The batters swung wildly, watching everything but the ball. The pitcher threaded the needle perhaps once every five tosses. Outfielders missed every fly ball popped to them. School bags served as bases. The diamond was askew. And yet, it was a lovely sight. It was a sight, almost, to bring one to tears. In a way, I was watching the game as it was played in Brooklyn parks by boys and off-duty dock hands, making rules as situations required. I was watching it sans technique, sans uniform, sans stadium, sans ump and in the grandest of baseball parks—a city park.

I pulled my brakes, stepped gingerly off my bike and watched. PE softball was the nearest I ever came to competitive baseball—first baseman with a pitcher’s glove and a pair of running shoes for cleats. Still, we gathered around the TV when the Red Sox ‘broke the curse’ in 2004 and set up the wiffle ball diamond when my mother’s side came around. Baseball was in the background—a slow sport I only understood in mellow moods. But as I stood there, my bike forgotten, and my eyes fixed on the spectacle before me, I understood the sport far better than I ever had. It is a game of order, a game of tools-at-hand; a game of open space; a game for the common man; a game of community; a game of watching; a game of waiting; a game of sudden action; a game of rest.

It is a game of primal motion too. I recall when friends and I used to stride across the prairies of Kansas surrounding Manhattan; as we walked, we found it natural and satisfying to throw rocks into rivers, at trees, down hills, over precipices, into open space. About the only things at which we did not throw rocks were each other, though that is another ancient institution. Baseball offers a round rock with grip that will sail as far or as fast as you can heave it. It offers you a club to swing at a rock (the only thing as satisfying as throwing one). It offers you limitations, which, in turn, offer you freedom to play and, if you make solid contact, break out of them.

The moment was not a revolution in my stance towards baseball, but it was a rethinking—a refamiliarization with the game and a re-appreciation. It made the game new by showing me it was old—old as the human desire to pitch and catch and run and slide. And, somehow, Cambridge seemed like the appropriate place for a renewal of the game. I was conscious then and later as I considered it that European Football, as we know it today, was devised and played first on Parker’s Piece. And this painfully amateur game of baseball was a kind of return to the early, heady days of sport by uprooted Americans in a cradle of world sport. It was a picture of baseball as it had been and as it will be if some disaster befalls the west. It will return to yards and parks and streets and sand lots. It will become again what it began as—a diamond in the rough.

R. Eric Tippin
Corner House, Cambridge
12 June 2016

Image:
"Americans in Hyde Park"
Oil on Canvas - 

 

A Word from the Trifler

 

In Trifler No. 7, if you recall, I wrote these words: "If you happen to be walking along Carlyle Rd. and step into Alexandra Gardens, you may just find, tucked away in some appropriate corner, this essay."

This is just to say that yesterday I made good on my promise. Trifler No. 7 is in a nondescript wooden box secreted somewhere in the gardens.

R. Eric Tippin
Corner House, Cambridge
June 10, 2016