No dopey lawyers about to get stiffed by their seditious client.
No Covid talk.
Four visuals over the electronic transom.
A good day.
With Melbourne in the news, the great tennis photographer Art Seitz downloaded some classics from his vast portfolio. This one touched me -- Harry Hopman, the champion Australian tennis coach and his American wife Lucy. Art had no way of knowing this, but the Hopmans were neighbors back in the 1970s, when he was coaching at the Port Washington Tennis Academy, after his long Davis Cup glory. I was doing a story on him and he suggested a restaurant in town called The Bunkers Inn. My wife and I drove up and down Shore Rd. trying to find it, but then she said: "There it is. La Bonne Cuisine." I quickly learned to hear Australian and we loved his stories about Rocket and Muscles and Emmo and all the lads. He was working with Hy Zausner, the proprietor of the academy, where children took lessons and sometimes you played on the next court to famous players. He was enjoying Long Island, he told us: Why, he had recently attended his first Bar Mitzvah.
After Harry passed in 1985 I used to see Mrs. Hopman at the US Open -- great smile, good memories of their Port Washington days. She passed in 2018, age the age of 98.
Art Seitz: thanks for the memories. man.
* * *
From my friend Ed-the-Soccer-Player came this clip about the Thomas Wolfe Memorial in Asheville, N.C. I am sure Ed noticed in my thoroughly enjoyable time on the NYT Readalong last Sunday, when somebody asked about the de rigueur bookshelves behind me. I gave a quickie tour, including a number of vintage books by the favorite author of my (extended) adolescence, Thomas Wolfe. I have issues with some of his dated portrayals of Blacks....but I owe Wolfe for making me read, and care about the mountain town of Asheville, N.C. (I recently discovered the overlooked segment about his father, as a boy in Pennsylvania, sassing Rebel troops heading south, toward Gettysburg-- a masterpiece, originally excised by Wolfe's editor.)
My man Ed asked if I had ever seen the boarding house Wolfe's mother ran in Asheville -- the emotional heart of "Look Homeward, Angel" -- and now an attraction for Wolfe buffs. The answer is, yes -- not during my Appalachia rambles but on a drive northward toward Louisville for the Derby. I found a motel across the street from the Wolfe home and requested a room overlooking the home -- and that rainy evening I stared down at the home, thinking of all the emotional moments Wolfe described. The next day I took my tour of the home -- and also visited Wolfe's grave nearby. (He died on Sept. 15, 1938 --18 days short of reaching 38, of tuberculosis he most likely caught in the mountain boarding house of his mother. I am well aware that I was born nine-plus months later.) So, Ed, yes, I've been to the Wolfe home.
* * *
In my e-mail, the always-welcome dispatch by Letty Cottin Pogrebin, my classmate at Jamaica High.
Feel free to make your own interpretation. .
"Among the things that have long fascinated people about Jesus and explain his enduring appeal is his method of dialogue and teaching. "He asked a lot of questions and told a lot of stories in the form of parables. In fact, parables form about a third of Jesus’ recorded teachings. The Gospels were written decades after he died, so his questions and parables clearly left a deep impression on those who bore testimony to him....
"Some of Jesus’ questions were rhetorical; others were meant to challenge or even provoke. In some cases, Jesus used questions to parry attacks by religious authorities who set traps for him. In others, he used questions to enter more fully into the lives of others and to help people look at the state of their hearts. He asked people about their fears and their faith. Jesus used questions to free a woman caught in adultery from condemnation and to inquire whether people considered him to be the Messiah. He probed deeply into questions not many had asked before him, like “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”
---(Peter Wehner, long-time White House consultant and writer, in the NYT last week about Jesus Christ’s method of teaching by asking questions.)
"Would that I could mention all the illuminating details in this biography, for example, why Wells praised Black Americans so highly, saying, 'I took a mighty liking to these gentle, human, dark-skinned people,' and 'Whatever America has to show in heroic living today, I doubt if she can show anything finer than the quality of the resolve, the steadfast efforts hundreds of black and colored men are making today to live blamelessly, honorably and patiently, getting by themselves what scraps of refinement, beauty and learning they may, keeping their hold on a civilization they are grudged and denied.''
-- "How H.G. Wells Predicted the 20th Century," Charles Johnson, NYT Book Review, Nov. 19, 2021. ***".
...the monsters arrive."
"They come in a deafening, surging swarm, blasting from lawn to lawn and filling the air with the stench of gasoline and death. I would call them mechanical locusts, descending upon every patch of gold in the neighborhood the way the grasshoppers of old would arrive, in numbers so great they darkened the sky, to lay bare a cornfield in minutes. But that comparison is unfair to locusts.
"Grasshoppers belong here. Gasoline-powered leaf blowers are invaders, the most maddening of all the maddening, environment-destroying tools of the American lawn-care industry."
---The great Margaret Renkl, from Nashville, one of my favorite NYT bylines, Oct. 26, 2021.
(She describes our Long Island enclave to every decibel, every stink.)