Nicholas Dawidoff writes for the New Yorker and the New York Times Magazine. His books include The Catcher was a Spy, about a 30s-era Yankees catcher (who mostly rode the bench) who was a spy for the OSS. A multi linguist, about whom a Yankee manager said, “He can speak seven languages but can’t hit in any of them.” Later books by Dawidoff include a look at country music, In the Country of Country, and a biography of his grandfather, Alexander Gerschenckron. New Yorker readers may remember his piece about his father and mental illness.
He is a very fine writer, of the quality that makes me willing to follow him into pretty much any subject.
His latest is Collision Lw Crossers: A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football. He was able to become “embedded” with the 2011 New York Jets, assigned an office, on the sidelines or up with the coaches at every game for the entire year. I was not sure whether I was up for this one until I read an excerpt at Men’s Journal and then, sitting in Square Books, a chunk of the prologue to the book. I’m about 60 pages in, and, so far, really recommend it.
Friday night, Dawidoff will be at Square Books, where he will do a talk about the book with ESPN writer Wright Thompson (who has had an essay in Best Sports Writing for the last seven years running now, and eight of the last nine years). It should be a good event, and I’ll be there.
For extra (and for Anderson), here’s Dawidoff’s thoughts about the Dolphins / Incognito flap, from the New Yorker blog.
Some Bessie Smith, in response to Anderson’s comment. But it is always a good moment to listen to Bessie Smith.
While on music topics, my iPhone’s random play did something truly strange today. First, it played the live version of Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm” from the documentary No Direction Home. Then it played the song from Anthology of American Folk Music that clearly was the template for the Dylan, “Down on Penny’s Farm.” 7000 or so songs, and it plucks out two direct, immediate descendants in a row.
I couldn’t find a good live “Maggie’s Farm” so you’ll have to settle for this TV video of a 22 year old singing another song.
Here’s some things that came out of my back yard this evening. First, some herbs: parsley and oregano for chimichurri sauce. A lot of my herb garden keeps going except in the absolute dead of winter (a month or so in late January/February)– rosemary, always, thyme and lemon thyme, pretty much always, oregano and parsley, all but a brief time in the dead of winter.
Chimichurri sauce is a South American sauce for roasted meats, particularly beef. I use it on flank or hanger steak, and it’s wonderful. It’s pretty simple if you have the ingredients and the time; I’ve adapted mine from Kevin Gillespie’s book Fire in My Belly, using roasted hatch chillies instead of bell peppers, homemade hot sauce instead of pepper flakes, and the white parts of scallions instead of red onion.
Here’s the recipe: Roast a hatch chilli (or a poblano if you can’t get that) on the burner of your stove or in the oven until charred. Cool a moment, then put in a bag and steam a bit. Rinse to remove charred peel, then seed and finely chop. Reserve 1 tbs; reserve the rest for something else. Mix 1 tsp. salt, 1 tbs dried oregano, 1/4 tsp espellete pepper (or, if unavailable, the best paprika you can get), and 2 tbs red wine vinegar until the salt dissolves. Add 1/4 tbs chopped flat leaf parsley, 2 tbs chopped fresh oregano, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tbs chopped white-parts of scallions, the reserved chili pepper, 2 tsp minced garlic, 1/2 tsp hot sauce. Mix thoroughly.
Spoon this on roasted meat, or serve on the table as a condiment. Local ingredients were the hot sauce, garlic, scallions, parsley, and oregano.
Lately, I’ve had a project of trying to harvest persimmons off of two really tall trees at the back of my property. They are obviously part of a very old fence line, and I set up nets a few weeks ago to catch fruit off the trees. My hope is to have persimmon pulp for a persimmon pudding for Thanksgiving (persimmon pudding is a holiday cake from Appalachia, an obvious descendent from plum pudding, although plum pudding has no plums, while this certainly has persimmons). Today, a decent amount had accumulated since this morning.
The pulp from these things (which is really hard to extract), has an amazing flavor– pudding, spice, etc. I fed some to my daughter (who somehow missed out on wild persimmons as a child!) and she wanted to know what I’d added– spices? liquor? Nope, it was just persimmons, without seeds. I handed her some of the fruit and she was amazed. She’ll probably raid my non-pulped supply while she’s in town.
Another quiet week at the Mississippi Supreme Court.
Remember the discussion a while back about the demise of the presumption that a child born during a marriage was the child of the husband? Today, the Supreme Court, following statute, held that a “father” who signed a birth certificate and an order adjudicating child support was barred from contesting paternity (albeit 10 years later) when a DNA test showed he wasn’t the father.
Waiting 10 years to raise it after hearing that he might not have been was certainly a part of why he lost, in addition to the pretty clear statutory language.
There’s a Miranda-waiver case holding that Miranda warnings need not inform the suspect that he has a right to stop the interrogation at any time. Concurring, Kitchens, along with Dickinson and King, argues that such a statement should be made. That case gave me a bit of a feeling of deja vu.
This week’s installment of why-was-this-not-sent-to-the-Court-of-Appeals goes to a case where the lawyer for appellant in a criminal case filed a brief stating she had reviewed the record and there were no issues for appeal. The Supreme Court, also seeing none, affirmed.
Robert Gordon’s fascinating Stax book is going to be featured on Thacker Mountain Radio tomorrow, with some YalaSoulwackers Stax music to go with it. I’m going to be there.
The quote is from Isaac Hayes’s high school friend / trumpet player’s description of the impact of his hitting, bigtime, with Hot Buttered Soul (containing hits such as “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and “Walk on By”). The full quote:
The album went buck fucking wild– first time a black artist sold a million dollars’ worth of albums– and after that it was on like a pot of neckbones.
Oh, and “on like a pot of neckbones” is apparently a thing. Sez the Urban Dictionary:
when something starts to or begins to happen. When neck bones of chicken are prepared to eat, they are boiled. When they are boiling , they are “on”.
Two folks disagree on something and start to argue or fight, then “It’s on like pot of neck bones”
A person or group decides to do something, and the act of actually doing it is “It’s on like a pot of neck bones”.
This is the best food-based colloquialism I’ve heard in a while.
Before it was Veterans Day, today would have been Armistice Day, because WWI ended on November 11th.
The WWI vet I knew best was Taylor McElroy, who was a Justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court in the 1960s, and before that a Circuit Judge in the 3rd Circuit Court District (Lafayette, Marshall, Tippah, Calhoun, and Union Counties) and before that, the mayor of Oxford who first paved city streets in this town. I have in my office his desk chair and his student copy of Blackstone’s Commentaries, which he told me when I was in college that I really must read before law school (and I did read it). He was of counsel in my father’s law firm in the seventies and thereafter.
Before that, though, Judge McElroy was the Chief Master Srgt. in General Pershing’s headquarters in France. When my daughter (now in her 30s) was a small child, I took her to Judge McElroy’s home. She danced around the floor, but I wanted her to be able to say that she, as a child, had met a WWI veteran, which is almost exactly equivalent to my father, in the 1930s, meeting a veteran of the Civil War.
Judge McElroy was a font of great political stories, the most remarkable being having been at a conference of circuit judges, and, in the boarding house room, when Circuit Judge J.P. Coleman convinced fellow Circuit Judge John Stennis he should run for the Senate seat just opened by the death of Theo Bilbo.
Justice Armis Hawkins has a direct connection to World War I, although not as a veteran: He was born the day after the Armistice was signed, and named Armis Hawkins in honor of that auspicious date.
I have read it twice, and read both opinions in dissent. The majority opinion of this case seems to be holding that, because the defendant had the burden of proof on a defense, the trial court erred in granting a defense directed verdict even though the only evidence supported the defense. The majority opinion seems to talk all around that (although quoting the trial court more than once saying that the sole evidence was that in support of the defense), but the dissents from Dickinson and Coleman just spell it out.
I’ll ask it another way: What, exactly, as a holding, does that part of the majority stand for, other than possibly that hard cases make bad law?
In Justice Pierce’s opinion reversing a criminal case (and reversing the Court of Appeals), there’s a really nice refresher-course/analysis of how a trial court should handle a violation of the rule of sequestration. Criminal defense lawyers will particularly want to attend to the way the court expects trial courts to respect a defendant’s constitutional right to present witnesses.
The only other opinion is one of those cases where I puzzle why it wasn’t in the Court of Appeals.
In other business, they granted cert on a workers comp case.
I cut the rest of my basil tonight for the last pesto of the season. My usual practice is to use the basil for pesto with dry purchased spaghetti– in the summer, pesto is one of my favorite go-to quick week-night dinners. But for a couple of years, after seeing a really great video (which I cannot find online now) about a restaurant in San Francisco that serves pasta on house-made pasta cut in 3-4 inch squares (called fazzoletti, meaning handkerchiefs), pesto with home-made pasta has been on my list, and I decided to do it tonight.
The pasta was a cup and a half of flour, two eggs, and a bit of oil. I made pesto from a three tablespoons of pine nuts (also the last of those), some garlic cloves, sea salt, pepper, a couple of cups of basil leaves, and a half cup of olive oil. Those get thoroughly food processed and then I added a half cup of parmesan. A dollop of the pasta cooking water melts the cheese, then it’s tossed with the (very briefly) cooked pasta, and topped with more cheese and some tomatoes, also from season’s end. And another thing that’s running low: my local garlic saved from early Summer.
From American Pastimes.
A task force of three was made up swiftly. It included a young man of twelve, going on thirteen, who had never before attempted to mislead a trout with a tuft of feather or a barb of steel. He had, however, shown an encouraging spirit several summers earlier when he was eight or nine and used to accompany his parent on forays against the smallmouth bass of Wisconsin. The pair would angle lazily through the mornings from a rowboat until the noonday sun drove them ashore. Then they’d seek out the nearest crossroads tavern, where each would satisfy his appetite according to his needs.
On one such day the young man stuffed his face with a ham sandwich, slaked down the mess with a Coke, and observed, “Gee, Dad, this is the life, isn’t it? Fishing and eating in saloons.”
From Red Smith, writing in 1934:
Shadows were stretching across the field when Cincinnati came to bat in the ninth inning. The National league season was within minutes of its end. The scoreboard long since had registered the final tallies for all the other games. Only the tied battle in New York and the contest on this field remained unfinished.
Dean lounged to the pitching mound. The man was completing his third game in six days. He was within three putouts of his second shutout in those six days. He didn’t seem tired. He hardly seemed interested. He was magnificently in his element, completely at ease in the knowledge that every eye was on him.
The first two Cincinnati batters made hits. Dizzy was pitching to Adam Comorosky when a wild yell from the stands caused him to glance at the scoreboard. The Dodgers had scored three runs in the tenth. New York’s score for the inning had not been posted.
Seen through field glasses, Dean’s face was expressionless. He walked Comorosky. The basis were filled with no one out. Was Dizzy tiring, or was he deliberately setting the stage for the perfect melodramatic finish.
The scoreboard boy hung up a zero for the Giants. The pennant belonged to the Cardinals. Most pitchers would have said, “the hell with it,” and taken the course of least resistance, leaving it to the fielders to make the putouts.
But this was Dean’s ballgame. Seen through a haze of fluttering paper, cushions, and torn scorecards, he seemed to grow taller. He fanned Clyde Manion. Dizzy was going to handle the last three batters himself.
Methodically, unhurriedly, he rifled three blinding strikes past pinch hitter Petoskey. Was that a faint grin on Dizzy’s face. The roar from the stands had become rolling thunder. The outfielders foresaw what was coming. They started in from their positions as Dizzy began pitching to Sparky Adams.
They were almost on the field when Adams, in hopeless desperation, swung at a pitch too fast for him to judge. His bat just tipped the ball, sending it straight upward in a wobbly, puny foul to DeLancey.
Dean didn’t laugh. He didn’t shout or caper. The man who has been at times a gross clown was in this greatest moment a figure of quiet dignity. Surrounded by his players, he walked slowly to the dugout, a mad, exultant thunder drumming in his ears.
From American Pastimes: The Very Best of Red Smith, a new one from Library of America.