Appropriation & #justgettinstarted

merlin_136679517_61e0bfa1-b072-4f31-afd7-27a6e245f8e5-master768.jpg

Appropriation is cool, isn’t it?

I found this picture online last night and thought it would be fun to talk about. First off, this thing has compelling composition: our friends Amed Rosario and Juan Lagares draw the eye up while at the same time our friend Michael Conforto draws our eye away – towards the left of the frame – as he walks away from the jumping dudes, creating a nice contrast to the whole thing. Second, our friends Mr. Rosario and Mr. Lagares are overlapping with the Marlins inane #justgettinstarted, which is actually based on a song by someone named Poo Bear (?) with a feature by DJ Khaled, Nicky Jam, and Kent Jones, meant to drum up some excitement for a rebuilding Marlins team. Whatever. Font is cool though. This overlapping juxtaposition between the Mets’ success and the #justgettinstarted logo is what I want to talk about.

Artists like Rauschenberg and Warhol appropriated all the time, taking objects thought up by other people, twisting them slightly to make them their own. To me, this is when art became officially Modern, capital M. An art history major would probably disagree with me, but when Duchamp walked into the Society of Independent Artists salon in 1917 and kluncked this thing down on the table…..

Duchamp_Fountaine.jpg

…you can’t deny that we had just been dragged screaming and leg-kicking into the 20th century.

Now, this “Jumping Dudes” photo isn’t appropriation exactly, because the Mets have not taken the #justgettinstarted and called it their own. We as fans haven’t done this either. But this photo is an art-piece because it has taken two images and juxtaposed them to create new meaning. Much like the Endy Chavez “the strength to be there” catch from 2006, this photo has come to mean something else. The Metsies are 9-1, winning like every day. They have the confidence and poise that comes along with winning. Things are going pretty well, and it feels like it can’t get any better than this, right? Ah, but according to this image, they’re #justgettinstarted. Keep watching, baby. There’s more to come, it says.

 

***

 

This is like a flat, emotionless, dream-state of a season so far. Maybe because I spent the first week in Italy? I don’t feel anything like I suppose I should for a team that is 9-1. Perhaps it’s “other-shoe-to-drop-itis”, preventing me from feeling full-on euphoria. It’s also only April 11th. 9-1 is super, but 1st place in June with a 6 game lead would be better. Flatliners need to wake me up here before I end up realizing I never appreciated this wealth and good fortune. Why can’t I appreciate this? I told myself after 2015 and then after the struggles of 2016 and 17 that winning is a state you visit, not live in. And try to enjoy your trip while you’re there. What kind of fan truly appreciates their team’s success in the moment? None here, I dare say. 

There’s all different kinds of Mets fans, just like there’s all different kinds of people. But I would guess a lot of them have seen too much heartbreak to truly feel secure with 9-1. First place in June with a 6 game lead? We’ll revisit.

The Roadways of Italia & The Conforto Sixth Sense

The roadways spiral out here in Italia, through majestic and lumpy (is that even a thing?) hills that could be described as rolling, but these hills don’t seem to follow a pattern that one associates with rhythmic rolling at all. They seem to run their own wayward course, jutting up in different shades of amber, stretching out the horizon line left and right, up and down, creating a kind of patchworked, overlapping y, x and z-axis all at the same time.

Every now and then one will catch sight of a villa or a cottage tucked inside one of these hills, like a tiny bug you notice on the wallpaper. But looking closer, these structures hold beauty in them as well. Glimpses of terracotta orange and brown if you squint quickly before it gets too far away. Lines of cypress trees guarding the exterior, long driveways and metal gates with tiny postes and oh well it’s too far away now…

These roadways have been here longer than any in the world. The Autostrada was first conceived and built by a dude named Piero Puricelli in the ’20s. It’s first iteration spanned from Milan to Varese, and he cut the inaugural tape while sitting in an 8-cylinder Lancia Trikappa with a poet (?!) named Gabriele D’Annunzio.

Several thoughts here. First one: Lancia Trikappa’s were really freaking cool, but how can you sell a car with the name Lancia Trikappa?

Second thought: This was the start of the entire highway system as we know it. This road would multiply into more roads – the Firenze-Mare Roadway, the Birgamo-Milan Roadway, the Pompeii Roadway, and by the 70s Italia’s map was spider-veined with freeways. The rest of the world had caught up by then, but who cares? Autostrada is where it’s at baby.

Let me know what you think next time you’re zipping past those amber patches and jutted-out mounds, when you’re snaking through an almost too-low tunnel and your vision pinholes for a few seconds, even maybe a minute, and the blackness takes over. Then you turn a darkened corner and suddenly the blackness evaporates, and there you are again in the unreal sunshine, spiraling through those hills both majestic and lumpy.

***

When Michael Conforto swings the bat now I hold my breath, because of reasons too depressing to type so I’ll just link it. Even over here in Italia, while I’m exploring sun-soaked spots like this one….

IMG_20180406_145550

…there is a sixth sense in me somewhere that cringes out of reflex, wincing with an unholy kind of dread. Chris MacNeil in the attic trying to find where that weird sound is coming from kind of dread. For every time Conforto unlocks the bat and creates force into the air I worry about his danged shoulder.

It’s only been one game – and what a game it was – but as Mets fans go I am hesitant to stare at Mr. Conforto from now until eternity (or at least until something worse happens to someone else) without waiting for the other shoe to drop. That bizarre silence after he fell to the ground in a heap. I don’t wanna hear that kind of silence again.

Allora! Things come, things go! Mets are 5-1, best start since 2006. Good things happened that year, no?

 

An Ode to the MLB Condensed Games

Just a word or two on the Condensed Games that Major League Baseball uploads to Youtube every day. Turns out they’ve been around since 2011 or so, but I’ve only known about them since 2015. Anyway, they have become one of my favorite time fillers – for reasons I shall now explain:

  • They only show the pitches that result in a play in the field or an out in an inning. So thusly they move fast. And something is always happening. (Then again I’m a believer in the idea that something is always happening in a regular full-coverage 3 or 4 hour game also. Whatevs)
  • They use the sounds of the game: crowd noise, balls smacking against bats, gloves smacking closed, cleats crunching the dirt, and inaudible yurps from players and umpires and coaches. But they do not use the play-by-play, obviously, because it would sound very weird and annoying to hear half-snippets of a Gary Cohen narration (as lovely as it is) being chopped up every 2 and half seconds. I assume they use the audio track from the field, and simply mute the announcing track…but how does the crowd noise always stay consistent? They are cutting to the next play every 2 seconds, which means they have eliminated minutes of time, yet the crowd doesn’t skip a beat. Maybe someone is literally sitting there putting an audio fade from one cut to the next as they edit together the thing in an MLB broom closet somewhere. Come to think of it that doesn’t sound like too terrible a job.
  • It is very democratic. Because they use only the sounds from the field, there are no loud or special calls for homeruns or big strikeouts. The routine fly ball is given the same respect as the three-run homer. The only difference is the crowd noise, which increases when something big happens. It creates an odd serenity to the experience, akin to being at the game itself. This is, I think, what I like about it the most.

***

Mets just took two games from the Phillies, and both seemed like they were played in a strangely dark and empty wind tunnel. Watching the Facebook feed on Wednesday night I could see light faintly reflected off the sides of this metaphoric wind tunnel, every now and then illuminating the players with a yellowish glow. April baseball in the Northeast is fun.

J-heron-imus Bosch

 

IMG_20180331_141656

Just got back from visiting the Gallerie dell’Academia and this killer Bosch painting is stuck in my mind – I wanna run off and look up Heavy Metal magazine covers now.

Ok I did it…not as inspiring as I thought. Moebius is the man though.

They showed the backs of some Bosch paintings and I was mesmerized by their abstraction-ism (not a word). Check it:

IMG_20180331_141816

Bosch was seriously Pollock-ing (also not a word) out on these babies. Proto-Abstract Expressionism! Isn’t art fun?

The Mets are off playing in another reality right now – a reality only available through the portals of screens – so  I wanted to kick this blog (I hate that word) off with some sort of travel log in which I effortlessly blend Mets stuff with travel stuff but I don’t think that’s gonna happen now oh man someone is singing outside my hotel window I’m gonna check it out. See you in a week!

 

Campus

How am I supposed to pretend… I never want to see you again….

Random lyric for Opening Day 2018, but it is not relevant in this case because I don’t need to pretend that I hate baseball. Searching for an “it’s back, baby” gif and I see Fat Bastard “I want my babyback ribs” and a bunch of “i’m back baby” gifs which also aren’t relevant! Whatevs.

Mets won! I followed the game through a series of drip-drip water torture tweets while lounging on my Venice hotel bed, although in this case (and any case when the team is winning a game) I’ll open my mouth under that drip-drip water torture and wait all day. Syndergaard struck out 10 Cards. I didn’t see him with my eyes but that seems good, no?

This opening day was like a throwback, against the St. Louis Cardinals, like a 1985 Opening Day kind of throwback. That game was on YouTube for awhile in 2015 and I used to watch snippets of it while waking up in the morning. There’s something about the bright blue of the Mets unis on a cold early April (or this case late March) day that feels singular – and when you see their breath? Even better!

Anyways, Mickey Callaway seemed to have a successful first game, and he’s getting a lot of good press about batting the pitcher 8th, which is weird because Terry used to do that all the time but now Mickey does it and he’s a genius?  But why complain, cause they won!

 

Sortie Exit

The airplane feels like a collective breath being held. With ears always muffled and feet nowhere to go. Sortie and exit next to each other on the sign, so I assume they both mean the same thing.

IMG_20180328_230734.jpg

I wonder how athletes deal with plane rides so much. I am drained and achey. I guess it becomes a part of their routine. It’s the wonder of the human body I think, it can do anything if it’s in a routine. I’m just imagining Noah Syndergaard, even in first class, with his legs needing to stretch and his back a little stiff.

They probably get to walk around a lot more on their flights. This is purely me speculating this but I feel like they literally have a whole plane to themselves right? And there are only 25 players on a roster so does that mean there a lot of empty seats on the plane? I mean there’s the coaching staff and the training staff but that’s what, like another 8 guys? There’s probably a lot of empty seats. I would imagine that to be a little eerie. Weird vibe to feel right before playing a baseball game.

There is something about the process of traveling, with it’s repetition of tasks, that every travel experience seems to blend into a large blurry mush after one has finished travelling. We have just sprawled out in our Venice hotel room after an ungodly 14 hours (yes, typing that out makes me pause) of travel. Two planes, a boat, some speed-walking through a beautifully-lit Charles De Gaulle Airport at 7 in the morning (more on this later), more speed-walking through a Venice airport and finally some just plain standing around while our room was being finished, we have begun our honeymoon.

There is a rush of metal and plastic and advertisement posters that lay out one after another, and signs with letters and numbers in seemingly random colors, and handrails and charging stations, and clunking noises made by  suitcase wheels, and clear glass walls and clear glass elevators, and silver metallic bathrooms that have just been sprayed with bleach. This is the rush of things moving by you when you are traveling, the blurry mush.

I said I’d talk about the light in the Charles De Gaulle airport, and this is what I mean:

IMG_20180329_084134.jpg

That’s a poor example but you can see what I’m getting at, maybe? The whole thing is glass and spirals out in all directions, up and down and side to side. And there aren’t any buildings around the airport, obstructing light. So the 7am cloudless sunlight poured into this place, coming through the glass and getting more intense even, reflecting off walls, casting long intensely black shadows and creating an incredible atmosphere that I will forever remember as the “Charles De Gaulle Airport Light”. We ran through the place for our connecting flight so it wasn’t fully appreciated. Although I just wrote this about it so I guess it got it’s due.

Opening day is tomorrow.* Yay!

 

*Written March 28th

3/27/18

**note: this was originally written March 27, hence the title. 

Hello. This has been brewing only for a day, so bear with me. I wanna write a journal or something, something that feels tossed off and like I didn’t try that hard writing it. But also has a lot of information and facts about random stuff that I like, but it all kind of comes together. And I want it to be about the Mets. So every post is essentially a “recap” of the previous night’s game, and there’s a theme or something that I’ve worked through beforehand, so it all gels together as a kind of personal journal/sports piece. Make sense?

This all sounds very 2006 or something and now I’m having second thoughts.

I have a real problem when I write sometimes in that I tend to write in someone else’s voice. Like I just watched the first episode of that Garry Shandling documentary and now I’m writing this and forcing Garry’s voice away from these words, and it’s pretty fucking difficult.

I am compelled to pepper the attitude of this passage with the kind of self-deprecation and self-awareness that Shandling was known for. It would probably make this more interesting to read, but ultimately would do me as a writer no favors, stunting my growth.

I need to try and alter my voice when I write, but still make it me. I go back and read the stuff I write and it seems so heavy handed. How do I keep it light?

Ok so I have a theory about the heavy-handed-ness in my writing, and I think it’s this: I think it has something to do with my tendency to see the world in very black-and-white terms, like it’s either one thing or it’s another thing. It’s something that I’ve been aware of for at least five years, probably more. I don’t really know how to alter my perception of the world other than just to be aware of it, which I guess is half the battle right? I’m aware of it, and maybe that will change it? Maybe it will improve my writing?

Opening day is two days away.