Monday, August 25, 2014

“No Water, No Moon”

When the nun Chiyono studied Zen under Bukko of Engaku she was unable to attain the fruits of meditation for a long time.

At last one moonlit night she was carrying water in an old pail bound with bamboo. The bamboo broke and the bottom fell out of the pail, and at that moment Chiyono was set free!

In commemoration, she wrote a poem:

    In this way and that I tried to save the old pail
    Since the bamboo strip was weakening and about
       to break
    Until at last the bottom fell out.
    No more water in the pail!
    No more moon in the water!

*   *   *

Text is from 101 Zen Stories, a 1919 compilation of Zen compiled by Nyogen Senzaki, &  a translation of Shasekishū, written in the 13th century by Japanese Zen master Mujū (無住) (literally, "non-dweller"). The book was reprinted by Paul Reps as part of Zen Flesh, Zen Bones.  See Wikipedia page.

Image links to source on Wiki Commons
Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839–1892): “Lady Chiyo and the broken water bucket”

Friday, August 22, 2014

“My Funny Valentine” – Jazz on Nylon #3

Music for today: one of my favorite songs from the Great American Songbook, the lovely “My Funny Valentine” from Roger & Hart, as played on classical guitar by French virtuoso Roland Dyens.

Rogers & Hart composed “My Funny Valentine” for the 1937 musical, Babes in Arms, & it was sung in the original production by Mitzi Green. The song was also featured in the 1957 film adaptation of Pal Joey (it was not part of the Broadway play on which the film is based). Interestingly, the song was not included in the 1939 film version of Babes in Arms directed by Busby Berkeley & starring Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland. There have been a number of notable versions of the song by jazz greats such as Miles Davis, Anita O’Day, Bill Evans, Chet Baker, Sarah Vaughn & many more.

In addition to featuring one of Hart’s best lyrics, the song features a haunting minor key melody with an underlying harmonic structure built on a descending chromatic bass line leading from the tonic to the dominant chord. This particular chord structure comes up in any number of popular songs (just for example among very many, it’s also in the verse of “The Hotel California”!) but it works with particular effectiveness in this tune. “My Funny Valentine” was originally composed in C minor. It moves to Eb (the corresponding major key) in the bridge & also features a final resolution to Eb major in the tag, usually in some form of major 7 or 6 chord.

Roland Dyens is not only an accomplished classical guitar player; he’s also a composer of some note, as well as a skilled improviser, so it makes sense he’s able to make a jazz standard come alive on the classical guitar.

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons
The guitarist Roland Dyens in concert, Munich 8.April 2000. Image is by Wiki Commons user Hans Bernhard (Schnobby), & is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ullambana in Portland

August 2014

eastern horizon carved from rooftops,
construction sites, one towering backyard
spruce spire—sneakers dangling from a
phone line silhouetted against
dusk—full moon you turned to glimpse
looming over your shoulder—a
softball diamond’s skin infield, white
chalk lined basepaths—& of course orange
trumpet vine blossoms draped
on a slat fence back of that Chevron station—that
goes without saying—there’s no chronology:
it always seems to be last Thursday—
& why these clothes scattered a-
cross a rock garden next to the curb on Fremont?
tarnished yellow, clouded pink, checked
canvas deck shoes, each untouched for
3 days & 3 nights—death’s constant
surprise—black leaves massed on the
black plum outside the Thai restaurant—&
especially the bamboo wind chimes up the street
clacking a G note with no larynx—there’s
no direction home, in
fact no directionality, the soccer ball
bangs dissonant off the chain link playground
fence after dark even when the weeping
cherry blooms in March—the butter
yellow daylilies proliferate in this
evening’s supermarket next to
shelves of artisanal bread loaves

        & one night the rain fell:
this parking lot glimmered black
water too deep for memory out my back
window: amnesia visible—when one
image inflates to a full moon swamping
the horizon east to west, when the first
horse chestnuts drop by the park still
green—when it all transits past breath, solarized
image, resonance: I’d ask not to utter dry un-
satisfied names in pentatonic tones with-
in the bamboo’s whispers

Jack Hayes
© 2014

Ullambana: Per Wikipedia (see link), "The Ghost Festival, also known as the Hungry Ghost Festival in modern day, Zhong Yuan Jie or Yu Lan Jie (traditional Chinese: 盂蘭節) is a traditional Buddhist and Taoist festival held in Asian countries. In the Chinese calendar (a lunisolar calendar), the Ghost Festival is on the 15th night of the seventh month (14th in southern China)."

Thursday, August 14, 2014

All About Ann Blyth: A Q&A with Jacqueline T Lynch

I’m very happy to present a Q&A today with talented writer, historian & blogger Jacqueline T. Lynch. Jacqueline is the blogger behind Another Classic Movie Blog, which is staple reading for those interested in classic film, & has been for years. In addition, Jacqueline writes the fine New England Travels blog. Beyond her online presence, she also is a published author, with seven novels, three works of historical non-fiction & seven plays to her credit, as well as collections of short stories & a children’s book—an impressive résumé! 

But today’s Q&A isn’t about Jacqueline’s past achievements. It’s about her current project, a book on actress Ann Blyth. In this case, Jacqueline is using a Kickstarter campaign to fund some of the necessities for what promises to be a first-rate publication. I encourage you to support this project in any way you can. You can reach the Ann Blyth Kickstarter at this link  or from the dedicated link at the top of this blog’s right sidebar.

& now, let’s read what Jacqueline has to tell us about her project:

Okay, the $64,000 question: Why Ann Blyth?

Sometimes the subject finds you.  I had written about Mildred Pierce in a previous year, but that post focused on the cinematography of the movie and not really the performances.  I’d always meant to get back to it and cover it from the angle of the performances.  Then the summer of 2013 I wrote about I’ll Never Forget You, (a time-travel romance I recently re-visited in another post for my year-long series on Ann Blyth’s movies).  I was struck by two things:  first, how meaningful her portrayal was of this 18th century woman, how much her delicate performance enhanced the story as well as our knowledge of the time in which it was set.   Second, I was struck by how profoundly different this character was to the volatile and scheming Veda of Mildred Pierce.  

I decided it was time to write more on Ann Blyth, but was then shocked to discover I had only seen about a third of her films.   I had been watching old movies since I was old enough to toddle over to the TV and manually switch the dial and manipulate the rabbit ears by myself.  Why had I seen only 10 Ann Blyth movies in all those years?

Then I discovered that so many were hard to get, never seen, not available either on DVD or VHS.   This woman had been the flavor of the month all through the late 1940s and most of the 1950s, on enough magazine covers to choke a horse, and as famous in her day as any young star could be.   Today, she is nowhere to be seen in that kitschy souvenir shop universe where classic film fans can easily snag T-shirts and coffee cups and posters of Clark Gable and The Three Stooges, Mae West and Betty Boop, and, of course, the ever-exploitable Marilyn Monroe.   

Where was Ann Blyth?  She never retired from performing.  She had, unlike most other stars of that era, performed in all media from radio to TV to stage, and was successful in all of them.    Far, far more talented than any other 1950s glamour girl, yet she is not as well known today among younger classic film fans.  I wanted to know why.

Paradoxically, among those older fans whom I’ve heard from in the past year, Ann Blyth is remembered with deep and abiding love, with an admiration and wistful, sweet affection I have not heard expressed for other stars.  I wanted to know why.

I also wanted to know why most of her films are so hard to obtain.   Well, you tell the girl she can’t have cookies, and she immediately starts climbing up the shelf to reach the cookie jar.  It became a mission.  To my amazement and chagrin, there’s still one film, Katie Did It, that I just cannot seem to find.

How has following the career of one actress for a year on your blog changed your perception of the blog' s purpose & possibilities?

At first this just seemed to be an interesting project, a change of pace, if you will, for a blog that just started its seventh year.  I thought it might shake things up a little, if not for the reader, then for me.  

Very quickly, however, following the career of one actress changed the tone, I think, of the blog and made it more personal, as well as more about the nuts and bolts of the industry.   My approach to blogging about classic films has always been to discuss a movie in the context of the time in which it was made.  For me, the era is part and parcel to understanding a movie and enjoying it more.  I’ve mentioned often that if one has little knowledge of what the US or the world was like in 1939 or 1952, or whatever year, then there’s a whole lot about the movie that will go right over that person’s head.  That is a shame, for movies are probably one of our greatest tools to learn about history, because they are truly time capsules, valuable most especially for their unselfconscious faults and virtues.

But focusing on one person’s career altered my background comments to the film, which became more directed toward Ann Blyth’s personal experiences, what she said at the time, what others said about her, things that happened off set.   What I learned about her personal life (most of which I have not mentioned on the blog because I really do want to keep to her career) has moved me deeply.  One reader joked early on that this series would become a kind of archive for people to come to who want to know more about Ann Blyth.  I hope it will become, not an archive, but a steppingstone for people to discover more about her work. 

If someone wanted an introduction to the films of Ann Blyth, which three would you recommend & why?

That’s a tough one, because she’s like a chameleon, and the more of her films you see, the more impressive this quality of versatility becomes.

I’d have to say Mildred Pierce, because of the skillful ferocity, the maturity of her work, and because she was only 16 years old when she did it.  That alone is astounding.

Then Once More, My Darling, because it really is one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen and her work in this charming, offbeat story is splendid.  This film definitely needs to be better known.  She is a subtle, guileless, and devastatingly funny comedienne.

Then I guess Kismet, because it is a musical with a lovely score and Ann gets to display her marvelous lyric soprano.  

Just seeing these three movies, say in the course of one day, one is apt to say, “Was that really the same person?” 

What are the Kickstarter funds going to?

The funds will go to obtaining never published or rarely published photos currently in the collections of libraries, museums, and newspapers that currently hold the rights.  I will have to pay licensing fees to use them.  As funds permit, I would also obtain additional research materials, and pay for editing, proofreading, and cover art.  This will be the first book written about Ann Blyth’s career. [editorial note: emphasis by yours truly]

How has studying one actress in so much depth altered your views on classic films?

I think I am even more awed by how hard one must work to get anywhere in the business, and how much luck is involved, how much is due to the help and contribution of others, from makeup, publicity, and anyone in the production end willing to go to bat for a performer, and how much is out of one’s hands.  Ann always appreciated her contract with Universal, but the studio did not always showcase her in the best movies.  On the one hand, she enjoyed a variety of genres and experiences.  On the other hand, there was no clear and strong trajectory to her path.  She controlled as much of her course as she could with admirable prudence.  What she could not control, she handled with quiet resolution.

I am fascinated about the child of six who found work in the worst years of the Great Depression as a radio performer.  That as a 12-year old, she appeared on Broadway in one of Lillian Hellman’s most important dramas, and thereby helped support her family.   A shy, self-effacing girl, not from a show-biz family, whose single mother struggled to support her, and yet taught this young girl lessons she would need on perseverance, self-discipline, faith, kindliness, and humility that she would need to get her through tragic times and keep her steady when she finally ended up in Hollywood and in a world that ate up and spit out a lot of other sensitive people.  

It is often commented that Ann Blyth retired after her last film in 1957, The Helen Morgan Story, but she didn’t.  She acted and sang for decades afterward, not working in film because either she was not offered the roles, or the roles she was offered did not appeal to her.   Of course, she also curtailed her schedule to raise her children.  A celebrity drops off the radar if the glare of the lights and piercing eye of the camera are not always on them, and this is perhaps the greatest insight into our perception today of classic films.  To the classic film fan, Cary Grant is as big a deal as he was when he was alive, when he was a star in the 1930s. 
But Ann Blyth is alive.  She did not retire.  She’s going on a Turner Classic Movies Disney cruise in October.  I know her old fans are eagerly interested for any news on this.  What I hope, however, is that my blog will introduce her to many new fans, who will enjoy the privilege of showing their appreciation for her work while she is still with us and can know it.   Classic films are not just about the stars, or the studio system, or the moguls, or the movies.  They are also the fans of today that keep them alive.  I think coming to understand this is one of the most profound aspects on the study of classic films that I’ve learned from this series.

Thanks so much Jacqueline! Now please folks, support this important project!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"Lines Composed at Indian Shores"

Lines Composed at Indian Shores
July 2011

How briefly enlightenment
emanated from my being!
Yesterday, I mistakenly took two one-a-days.
Soon after, my pee lit up the windowless bathroom,
making a light unnecessary.
By nighttime,
darkness had set in again.


In the early morning
I slush along the beach
counting Hail Marys on my fingers
in the absence of beads,
constantly losing count
and, to be safe, giving the Lord and his mother
a few extras to think about
in these fifteen or twenty minutes of my trudge
before devoting the rest to my own musings
and to the sights and sounds of sea and birds.


When Holmes stops by to visit
he sits at the kitchen table
and we share a pot of coffee.
Then he gently places a mollusk on the table.
identifies it as a chambered nautilus,
and equates it with the soul.
After a trip to the beach
Holmes always returns a poet.
I, on the other hand, return sunburned.

Carmen Leone
© 2011

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons

This Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons image is from the user Chris 73 and is freely available at // under the creative commons cc-by-sa 3.0 license.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Roberto Clemente & the Mythographers

One of the central tenets of Robert Graves’ two-volume The Greek Myths is the idea that the myths change depending on who tells the story; the same images, in fact, can lead to vastly different narratives.  Graves called the process by which this happens iconotropy—the “turning” of images.  Thus, for instance, a representation that the patriarchal Dorians might have “read” as the Judgment of Paris would have been originally, in Graves’ reading, a representation of the Triple Goddess. Graves actually postulated these ideas first in The White Goddess, which was published in 1948, seven years prior to The Greek Myths.

Graves’ theories in their specifics are at the very least controversial; Classical scholars have found errors of attribution, as well as what seem like willful misreadings used to buttress his points; this is particularly true of The White Goddess & the interpretive sections of The Greek Myths. But I do think that the idea of iconotropy is a useful one, whether or not Graves was correct in many of his specifics; it encodes the notion that the teller recreates the mythic material in a way that corresponds to a world-view; & just as that could be the case with the same mythic material in the stories of the Dorian Greeks versus the stories of the Minoans, so it is also true in the stories of individual mythographers: the Dionysus of the Homeric Hymns is not exactly the Dionysus of Euripedes’ The Bacchae, just as Jane Harrison’s Dionysus is not the same as Robert Graves’.

& of course this all relates to baseball! 
Literary critic Leslie Fielder wrote, “we have always been, insofar as we are Americans at all, inhabitants of myth rather than history.” Within this U.S. landscape, a handful of baseball players carry cultural meaning typically reserved only for politicians & movie stars—whether or not you are a baseball fan, the names Babe Ruth, Willie Mays & Jackie Robinson are imbued with meaning for you, a meaning that springs initially from their prowess in playing the game, but which has since accrued significance beyond that. One player whose mythic status remains resilient (especially in his native Puerto Rico & Latin America overall) is the great Roberto Clemente—a player who still remains larger than life to me. 

Clemente had many achievements within the game: in brief, he finished his career with a .317 batting average & led the National League in batting four times in an 18 year career; he also accumulated 3,000 lifetime hits. In addition, he was National League MVP in 1966 & World Series MVP in 1971—a series in which he was a truly dominant player—& won 12 consecutive Gold Gloves for fielding excellence—indeed, Clemente is acknowledged to be one of the greatest fielding outfielders ever. Not only did he demonstrate great skill in tracking down balls, he also possessed an uncannily strong & accurate throwing arm. Legendary Dodgers announcer Vin Scully once said, “Clemente could field the ball in New York and throw out a guy in Pennsylvania.” Mythic indeed.

Clemente’s death in an airplane crash on New Year’s Eve 1972, while trying to bring supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua of course added to the mythos; in Latin countries he achieved a martyr’s status. Following his tragic death, the Hall of Fame waived the usual five-year waiting period, & he was inducted in 1973. In eulogizing Clemente, Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn said, "He gave the term 'complete' a new meaning. He made the word 'superstar' seem inadequate. He had about him the touch of royalty."

& I would say: more than a touch of the mythic. So I was interested to notice  that the third most popular search phrase leading to my old baseball blog, Beer League Box Score is “Why do sabermetrics devalue Roberto Clemente?” I found this fascinating, & on more than one level: first, I asked myself, is this true? Is Clemente “devalued” by sabermetric measures? 

I looked at Clemente on the list of best all-time “wins against replacement player” on Baseball Reference.  WAR is an encapsulation of performance, & considered one of the major sabermetric measures. Clemente ranks 38th on this list with a career WAR of 89.8. He ranks just above Bert Blyleven & Albert Pujols (but because Pujols is an active player, he will pass Clemente soon, as WAR is cumulative), & just behind Carl Yastrzemski & Phil Neikro. But because WAR is cumulative, Clemente would have had a higher career WAR had he played until a typical retirement age. He would have been 38 in 1973; as a point of comparison, his contemporaries Willie Mays & Hank Aaron retired at age 42, & Frank Robinson retired at 40—these men played 22, 23 & 20 seasons respectively.  Clemente’s WAR in 1972 was 4.7—still quite good. Had he averaged a 4.0 WAR for three more years, he would have retired with a WAR close to 102, which would have ranked him in the top 25 players ever. That seems fair to me.

Then I looked at his defensive wins against replacement, which is a component of overall WAR. Now defensive WAR is one of the most controversial parts of the measure, because it is truly difficult to assess a player’s defensive contributions by means of statistics. There are a number of systems for doing so, but they all have their limitations & faults, along with their strengths. Also, the farther back in time one goes, the more limited the information becomes.
Clemente’s career defensive WAR is 12.0, which ranks 154th all-time. This initially struck me as too low until I looked at the players ranked ahead of him. Defensive WAR favors the critical “up the middle” positions of catcher, shortstop & second base, & centerfield. Third base is also given quite a bit of weight. It makes sense then, that the first 153 players are overwhelmingly middle infielders, catchers, & third basemen, with a handful of centerfielders as well. The highest rated outfielder is Andruw Jones, whose defensive WAR stands at 24.1. The other outfielders who rank above Clemente (again, all of these including Jones are centerfielders) are Paul Blair (18.6); Willie Mays (18.1); Devon White (16.1), & Jimmy Piersall (15.2). Clemente ranks the highest of any corner outfielder, & that seems appropriate. It does seem that the top 150 contains a lot of 19th century & very early 20th century infielders, & it’s counter-intuitive to me that all of those players’ skills should put them in such lofty company, but I have nothing to back that up. Looking at his ranking among outfielders, I’d say Clemente’s position is fair.

Of course, WAR is far from the only sabermetric measure, but it is widely accepted in the sabermetric community as measure for getting a general sense of a player’s comparative value. & as a Roberto Clemente fan, I can’t say that WAR devalues his achievements. I also don’t say this as an apologist for either sabermetrics in general or WAR in particular (neither am I a detractor—I say the more stats the better!)

But sabermetrics also place a high value on statistics related to on-base percentage & slugging percentage. It is true that Clemente didn’t take a lot of walks, & that there was never a significant spread between his batting average & his on-base average. Of course, Clemente was able to maintain excellent on-base percentages on the strength of his hitting. Still, in comparison with other hitters who are ranked among the greatest of the great, Clemente’s OBP is low: lifetime, he posted a .359 mark, which ranks 463, tied with Rocky Colavito—a good player, but not elite. Ted Williams leads in all-time OBP with a truly majestic .481—Williams reached base an astounding 48% of the time during a 19 year career! In fact, the first 58 hitters in all-time OBP all accrued figures of .400 or higher.It’s also true that Clemente wasn’t a slugger; while he was capable of hitting for power (he did hit 29 home runs in 1966, & that was a good number during that time period), he himself said, “I am more valuable to my team hitting .330 than swinging for home runs.” But as a result his lifetime slugging percentage was only .475, which ranks 216th all-time, between Leon Durham & current Arizona outfielder Justin Upton. These figures would affect statistics like FanGraphs wOBA (weighted on-base average) & wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created +), which are considered key evaluative numbers by the sabermetric community; in fact, Clemente’s career wOBA & wRC+ are 366 & 129, which are not elite figures. Still, it should be noted that FanGraphs does award Clemente a 91.0 lifetime WAR.

Do I dispute these statistics & measures? No. They are statistics—I understand what they mean & how they’re derived. I think they complicate our picture of Clemente, & that this is not necessarily a bad thing at all. While Robert Graves may have believed the Dorian iconotropic reconfigurations of Bronze Age matriarchal myths marked a definite point in the West’s great decline into patriarchy (& I don’t argue with the view that patriarchy has a lot to answer for—practically everything!), I don’t see the “new statistics” as representing a decadent interpretation of baseball—but they are certainly a retelling of the stories.  Also, as revealing as statistics may be (& I believe sabermetric stats offer good information & an interesting perspective), I would also say that it’s impossible to completely quantify any human performance in formulas & equations.  

Finally, the question made me think about baseballs’ great myths, & how these stories are transmitted. The mythographers of my youth were sports periodicals, baseball guides & annual yearbooks. These publications dealt in traditional stats & made traditional observations about ballplayers’ character strengths & weaknesses.  This was all part of the mythos surrounding baseball through the 1960s & into the 1970s. By the 1980s, with Bill James line of publications launching their own Dorian invasion, the stories began to change. At this point, the sabermetric community, insofar as it holds sway on the internet, has seemed to gain ascendancy over the old school print community that is associated with more traditional statistics & attitudes, & that has been in the business of baseball mythmaking with beat writers & box scores since the 19th century. So the stories will change—they will change because the media is changing (& yes, I am a McLuhan fan), & they will change because we have different numbers & these numbers also change perception.

I’m not a young man, & as such, I stand vulnerable to the charge of being a curmudgeon. To me, the glory days of baseball were the 1960s through the 1970s, because those were my formative years—though I acknowledge this is entirely subjective, I also realize all the baseball myths for me are filtered through the mythography of that particular era. An older person who watched baseball in the 1940s & ‘50s would be subject to an earlier mythographic filter, & in turn a younger man or woman raised on the game more recently understands the game on a transformed mythic field.  The great players’ names remain the same—their mythic meaning shifts.

When I think of the myth of Clemente, I don’t think as much about his statistics. I think of his pride & passion, of the difficulties he faced as a black Puerto Rican in an era when baseball was still in the early phases of integration—in fact, in Clemente’s rookie year of 1955, three clubs had yet to integrate at all (the Phillies, Tigers & Red Sox); I think of how he was devalued even during his own career by baseball people & sportswriters who saw his pride as “uppitiness” & who ascribed his missing games due to injury as malingering. I think of his transcendent play in the 1971 World Series, a truly seminal event in my own history as a fan—& of his tragic death. Clemente himself said, "I want to be remembered as a ballplayer who gave all he had to give,” & I think that is his legacy indeed—except one might say “man,” not “ballplayer.”

So I encounter the Clemente I knew, because that was the Clemente I learned from the mythographers of my formative time; I knew him from reading, from baseball cards (my 1970 Clemente baseball card is one of my cherished possessions), from the World Series & playoffs & NBC Game of the Week on a black & white TV, & from memory.  I don’t begrudge a later generation their re-assessments, & in fact I enjoy the profusion of stats—& after all, how many baseball fans now really consider the greatness of Tris Speaker (to give an example—& I certainly include myself in that!)—yet in his heyday & for long afterward, he was considered one of the greatest players ever.  Myths are elastic—we can only marvel how they allow for their constant re-shaping, whether the myth is a story surrounding a Greek deity or a human ballplayer whose exploits seemed to accrue meaning pointing far past the quotidian.

Images link to their source
  1. Roberto Clemente:
  2. The judgement of Paris, side B from an Attic black-figure neck amphora (ca. 540-530 BC): Wiki Commons - photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen, who publishes it under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license.
  3. Clemente makes a catch:, tho this image is found on many online sites.
  4. Oedipus (on the right), the Sphinx (on the middle) and Hermes (on the left). Attic red-figure stamnos, ca. 440 BC. [another myth Graves claims was subject to iconotropy]: Wiki Commons - photo by Wiki User:Jastrow, who makes it available under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
  5. A sequence showing Clemente making a catch: from
  6. Clemente stands on second base after getting in 3,000th career hit, a double in his last game ever:
  7. Clemente batting: :
  8. Theseus and the Minotaur. Side A from an black-figure Attic amphora, ca. 540 BC. [another myth Graves claims was subject to iconotropy]: Wiki Commons - photo by Wiki User Jastrow, who releases it into the public domain worldwide.
  9. Yours truly with 1970 Topps Roberto Clemente baseball card! 
  10. Clemente scores a run in 1958: from   

Full disclosure: this post previously appeared on my currently dormant "Beer League Box Score" blog.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

“Eternal Child” – Jazz on Nylon #2

Beautiful music for a beautiful Thursday. Today’s selection features guitarist Samantha Wells’ version of Chick Corea’s “Eternal Child,” a composition from Chick Corea Elektric Band’s 1988 album, Eye of the Beholder.

Of course, Corea is a giant in jazz, & more specifically in the fusion genre. In a career that began in the 1960s, Corea first came to prominence as a member of the Miles Davis band, he transitioned to leader with his recording Tones for Joan's Bones in 1966. In the 1970s Corea formed the seminal fusion band, Return to Forever. The first version of the band featured Corea on piano, singer Flora Purim, her husband Airto Moreira on drums & percussion, Joe Farrell on saxophone & flute, & Stanley Clarke on bass. The band debuted with their self-titled album in 1972 & released a total of total of seven albums before disbanding in 1977. After a period of involvement in other projects, Corea put together the Elektric Band in 1986. The main line-up for this group included Frank Gambale on guitar, Dave Weckl on drums, Eric Marienthal on sax & John Patitucci on bass. Patitucci was later replaced by Victor Wooten.

Samantha Wells was born & raised in Italy, & while in school studied classical guitar with Sergio Notaro at Centro Romano della Chitarra in Rome. Wells later studied with Emanuele C.Torrente of Conservatory Cherubini & Andrés Segovia school of Florence, Italy, & Joao Luiz Lopes of Brazil Guitar Duo. She now lives in California & is an active performer. Wells is also versatile, as she seems equally at home with the Classical repertoire & with arrangements of both jazz standards & pop songs for classical guitar. For you guitar players out there, Wells offers a transcription of her arrangement of “Eternal Child” on her website for $10.00. I’d also recommend her YouTube channel. Not all of Wells’ videos are available for embedding, so pay her channel a visit to listen to her version of “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” & Pat Metheny’s “Letter from Home.”

& in the meantime, hope you enjoy this lovely rendering of Corea’s beautiful song.

Image links to its source on

Friday, August 1, 2014

zen gringo tango

nothing translates to poetry more easily than a stroll to the supermarket a July
evening to buy a pint of cardamom ice cream & the moon a waxing rind in

this sky that can’t decide to be night or dusk so the brushstrokes of clouds in
neutral colors tinged peach become an odd inverted lake painted in water-

colors by my great aunt in Massachusetts in July 1966 i.e. toward the end of a
life—this afternoon vegan sushi for breakfast at 1:00 pm in the hospital café &

sticky rice crumbles to white multiplicity when the chopsticks' pinch as if this
were all so many seeds & seeds of being in a muddle of ginger/soy/wasabi—

cumulus clouds to the east I want to say a bouquet of smoke blossoming off
Mt Hood’s dormant snowbound volcano—because needless to say you weren’t

on any of the streetcars, not the lime green & blueberry blue one headed south not
the melon orange mango red one headed west—still on 6th Avenue

in the wake of the 4 line bus a summer breeze ambles past transparent as a
zero, aroma of blush-peach rose between its milk teeth—something about strolling

with you hand in hand at the edge of a photograph in which a great blue heron’s
poised on one leg in the backwater past the railroad & sweet pea & bicyclists &

not far to the northwest the Oak Bottom ferris wheel traces the all-encompassing
arc of Being definitively for all time & space & for all time & space &

hey that’s us breezing past chapped lipstick roses on a Vancouver Ave chain
link lawn as rush hour cars shimmer south— limitless desire limitless illusion—

we aren’t there actually plucking a rose that might be inscribed on a
forearm’s topography, veins, hair (vellus & terminal) — limitless desire

limitless illusion—will the ice cream melt in the midnight blue backpack
strolling home alone as I am past an orange-lit little league baseball diamond

Jack Hayes
© 2014