"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
The First Night of Summer was celebrated with standing-room tickets at Fenway and a reunion of old newspaper friends. The Sox walloped the Nats, with Big Papi hitting a grand slam and rookie pitcher Jon Lester throwing 10 strikeouts. They now sell Guinness at the park, and the rendition of "St. James Infirmary" by the Dixieland band on carnival-like Lansdowne Street was a foresighted tune, considering my state on rising for work this morning. Nuf ced.
Apropos of the fox-hunting-and-London-bus-and-bearskin regulators, here is Lord Cochrane on lawyers, from Sharpe's Devil, by Bernard Cornwell:
"You can't have freedom and lawyers, Sharpe, and I've discovered that lawyers are as ubiquitous to human society as rats are to a ship." Cochrane paused as the frigate thumped her bluff bows into a wave trough. ... "That's why I came out here. I dreamed it would be possible to make a new country that was truly free, a country without lawyers, and look what happened! We captured the capital, we drove the Spaniards to Valdivia, and is Santiago filled with happy people celebrating their liberty? No. It's filled with Goddamned lawyers making new laws." ... "What the hell do they care? It doesn't worry a rat if a law is good or bad. All they care is that they can make money enforcing it. That's what lawyers do. They make laws that no one wants, then make money disagreeing with each other over what the damned law means, and the more they disagree, the more money they make, but still they go on making laws, and make them ever more complicated so that they can get paid for arguing even more intricately with one another! I grant you they're clever buggers, but God, how I hate lawyers."
("Allait-il comment Dublin? Le puits car je disais la maman ici, choses est assez mauvais là à l'heure actuelle mais là semble un certain espoir d'un règlement constitutionnel.")
Monday, June 19, 2006
Busbies in the ring
Young Winston Churchill, pictured above as a subaltern with the 4th Hussars, made it his goal to win a seat in Parliament by the age of 25, and he went on to great things. By this model, Andrew KB Cusack, MA (Hons), youngest member of the Westchester County Committee of the Conservative Party of New York State, has perhaps two or three years to get himself elected. Mr. Cusack is, I believe, from Bronxville, and it says here that district's liberal state assemblywoman, Amy Paulin, D-Scarsdale, is ripe for a challenge from an enterprising young candidate on the Conservative Party line. What say you, Steve M, Basil Seal and Mr & Mrs P? Can we get a Cusack boomlet started?
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Having just finished listening to Sharpe's Waterloo, I particularly appreciated Andrew's ode to the Scots Greys.
The anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo this past weekend was suitably noted by Conservative History Journal, an interesting-looking blog that has recent entries on Dorothy Sayers and Churchill and Wellington and Burke and will be added to the bookmarks forthwith.
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Also recently finished and recommended: Black Ajax, George MacDonald Fraser's novel about 19th-century American boxer Tom Molineaux that captures the bare-knuckled and bloody world of the milling coves, or prizefighters, of Regency England. (A tip of the stovepipe to Basil Seal for putting me on to Fraser via the Flashman series: Flashy's father, Mad Buck, figures in the boxing novel.)
The newly named Poet Laureate of the United States, New Hampshire poet Donald Hall, is noted for his appreciation of the national game. "Baseball," he told Ken Burns, "because of its continuity over the space of America and the time of America, is a place where memory gathers." At NPR you can hear Hall interviewed the day after the Red Sox won the World Series, and reading from his poem "The Twelfth Inning":
In September the Red Sox lose games in the ninth. The season ends. Even if you win the Series, the season ends, O, and games dwindle to Florida’s Instructional League where outfielders without wheels learn to be catchers. From Florida north will truck oranges that Jennifer squeezes in the cold light of a low sun. I wear my yellow sweater; we eat scrambled eggs from blue and white dishes, her hair’s kerchief is yellow. We gather yellow days inning by inning with care to appear careless, thinking again how Carlton Fisk ended Game Six in the twelfth inning with a poke over the wall.
Reviewed alongside Hall at the Society for American Baseball Research is another book of baseball poetry, O Holy Cow! The Selected Verse of Phil Rizzuto, in which editors Tom Peyer & Hart Seely have set the Scooter's play-by-play to verse.
For Steve M's appreciation, here is a selection from the collection:
Fly ball right field It's gonna drop in. No it's not gonna drop in, Happy 46th wedding anniversary Thomas and Mary Anne Clearwater. That's it. The last three, six, nine, twelve Yankees Went down in order. So that's it. The game is over. #
The US Marines lost 1,800 men while building their name for steadfast bravery at the pivotal Battle of Belleau Wood 88 years ago this month.
Artillery blasts in the thick woods shredded the trees until they were bare. Machine-gun fire mowed down the wheat fields and left them smoldering. Dead and wounded bodies lay on the ground…
Belleau Wood, where the trees are now lush and the wheat is tall, is where the Marines turned back the advancing Germans when the French couldn’t, dying by the hundreds, but possibly saving nearby Paris and, ultimately, winning World War I.
Many of us take for granted the astounding courage and self-sacrifice exerted on our behalf on battlefields we read about history books.
Yet today our servicemen's achievements – in many cases, truly noble, performed under dangerous, dirty, and truly unenviable conditions – are time and again willfully disregarded by those who would slander the military to undercut the cause for which it fights.
The bravery, heroism and good works of our soldiers are awe inspiring. Each and every day in Iraq and Afghanistan they risk their lives so that strangers can enjoy a better life. Yes, in every war there are horrors, and this war has been no exception. But Americans are not fighting to gain territory or colonize others. Our troops are at war so that America can be more secure and so that democracy can rise in a part of the world that has only known tyranny…
We should never forget the extraordinary sacrifices of our Marines and soldiers who we send into harms way so that we can sleep peacefully at night. We are a nation deeply in their debt.
And this, from Ben Stein, reflecting on a Memorial Day meeting with widows and families of servicemen lost in the current war:
Why do we -- Jews and Gentiles here in America -- get to do what we do instead of being killed by the Nazis or the Islamic terrorists?
Because of Bonnie Carroll's husband and Bonnie Carroll. Because of Joanne Wrobleski and her hero husband. Because of all of the men and women at Arlington National Cemetery and on ocean floors and blown to bits in forests and muddy trenches. Because God made Eichmann, but he also made Bradley Beard and Dale Denman, Jr.
More are dying as we speak every day in Iraq and Afghanistan.
How do we ever make it up to them? How can we ever pay them back? Above all, by taking the loved ones they left behind into our arms, into our hearts, and loving them forever. And by making sure that when they die, their deaths are known to have meaning.
The Harvard Museum of Natural History (aka the Agassiz Museum) has been one of my favorite places since I was a kid, and aliciaseesmice at Flickr has posted as striking a photo gallery as I have seen of the fine old place with its aye-ayes and passenger pigeons.
At Amherst College, the Pratt Museum of Natural History has the world's largest collection of dinosaur footprints. The college magazine recently ran a photo feature on some of the Pratt Museum's other remarkable holdings, including the illustrious Irish Elk. The museum is opening a new building and photos have been posted of moving day for their mastodon.
The prayer card sent out by an evangelical Republican candidate for state senate in Oklahoma is causing eye rolls at the New Republic blog and other secular-mindedprecincts that see this character as a prime specimen of flyover country's theocratic GOP booboisie.
But that's just the Republican candidate. How about the Democrats in the race for the 46th Senate district seat from Oklahoma City?
There's the Air America-Daily Kos-Michael Moore progressive candidate who lost a brother at the World Trade Center on 9/11, and as a leader of the antiwar group Sept. 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows is in a forgiving mood toward Zacharias Moussaoui. "One day I’d like to meet Zacharias Moussaoui," says Andrew Rice. "I’d like to say to him, ‘you can hate me and my brother as much as you like, but I want you to know that I loved your mother and I comforted her when she was crying’."
Happy 6.6.06! We celebrate with a toast to that most convivial Beast (whose number was 3), Jimmie Foxx.
"He had muscles in his hair," Yankees pitcher Lefty Gomez said of Foxx, whose slugging prowess landed him in 1929 on the cover of Time Magazine.
In 1932, Foxx hit 58 home runs, two shy of Babe Ruth's record, and if it weren't for screens that had been erected in the ballparks in Cleveland, Detroit and St. Louis after the Bambino's record-setting year, might have had as many as a dozen more.
Five times he hit the right field screen in St. Louis; the screen was not there when Ruth hit 60 HR in 1927. Also in 1932, a screen that Ruth hadn't had to contend with was erected in left field in Cleveland. Reportedly, Foxx hit that at least three times.
The press took a liking to Foxx, dubbing him with various nicknames- "Double X," "The Maryland Strong Boy" or simply "The Beast." He was often depicted as a simple country boy, unaffected by the bright lights of the big city. Nonetheless, he did develop some expensive big city habits. Foxx spent large sums on the best clothes money could buy, a tendency shared by wife Helen. He also had a fondness for personal grooming, frequently visiting his manicurist during the season. As his salary grew, so too did his generosity and profligate spending. The star slugger gave handsome tips to everyone from the bellhop to the batboy, and he insisted on picking up the entire tab at every dinner and outing. He was known to literally give the shirt off his back if someone asked him for it. To this day, Foxx's former teammates and opponents speak with reverence of his personal kindness and good will.
He also came to be known for liking the bottle. It is perhaps appropriate that a replica of his Hall of Fame plaque hangs above the House Dark spigots at Jake Wirth's in Boston's Theater District. At the Dugout, the subterranean Comm. Ave. bar that was equidistant between Fenway and Braves Field, tavern legend holds he was a regular.
His SABR biographer observes:
Although known to imbibe occasionally, he was never reported to be a heavy drinker during the early years of his career. After his beaning, his sinus problems brought him acute pain- a pain that subsided with alcohol. Roommate Elden Auker recalled several nights where Foxx would be plagued by severe nosebleeds. His ample free time in Boston led to increased after-hour's activities, and he bragged to Ted Williams about the amount of scotch whiskey he could consume without being affected. A teammate with the Chicago Cubs remembered that a walk back from the ballpark to the team hotel with Foxx was fraught with dangerous opportunities, as the veteran enjoyed visiting each and every one of his favorite taverns along the way.
Although his drinking problem is a matter of record, it is important to point out that Foxx was never noted for violent or aggressive behavior. To the contrary, he was known as a gentle peacemaker, often mediating disputes in card games and making sure rookie roommate Dom DiMaggio got to bed on time.
He drank too much in his later years; after his baseball career ended, his health and finances deteriorated, and he drifted from job to job before he died at 59, choking to death on a piece of meat during dinner.
Jimmie Foxx is not remembered as widely as he perhaps ought to be today, though Tom Hanks' Jimmy Dugan character in A League of Our Own is said to have been loosely based on him.
But those who knew him recall his gentle spirit. Former Red Sox pitcher Bill Monbouquette, a Medford, Mass., native who played for Foxx in Minneapolis in 1958 when the old ballplayer, down on his luck, had a brief stint as a minor-league coach, recalled him as "one of the nicest people I ever met."
During the season, Foxx surprised Monbouquette's parents with a visit to their home in Massachusetts while on the way to a Fenway old-timers game. "I just wanted to let them know you were doing okay," commented Foxx to the young pitcher on his return. #
Friday, June 02, 2006
Grover Cleveland anniversary bouquet
To mark the famously non-consecutive president's White House nuptials on this day in 1886, a decade before his political career was ended by the wild-eyed element of his party, we hearken to a theme he would have found congenial: the restoration of sanity to the Democrats.
An excerpt from Beinart describes the reception Hubert Humphrey, then the young mayor of Minneapolis, got at a 1946 Democratic-Farmer-Labor convention packed by the Henry Wallace progressives, i.e., Reds:
In June, Communists and their allies had packed the state DFL convention in Saint Paul, choosing their own slate to run the party, and passing resolutions excoriating Truman's new hard line toward Moscow. When Humphrey rose to speak, the crowd greeted him with cries of "fascist" and "warmonger." He persevered, until a security guard growled, "Sit down, you son of a bitch, or I'll knock you down." And so, without finishing his remarks, Humphrey did.
Sounds a lot like the YearlyKos Convention. Today's "McGovernites with modems," as the Bull Moose calls them, are heirs to the fellow travelers of the Old (and New) Left, not to Harry Truman.
"I want to challenge their notion of what liberalism is," Beinart says. "I want MoveOn to embrace antitotalitarianism. I want MoveOn to say they were wrong to oppose the Afghan war, to state that liberalism is not an ideology only defined in opposition to the right. You cannot simply say the best way for us to fight jihadism is to oppose George W. Bush. Defeating totalitarianism by spreading democracy and economic opportunity is liberalism's destiny based on its history. Give up that idea, and you're ideologically cut off from your own best traditions."
The Llamas note today's anniversary of the epic frigate duel between the Shannon and the Chesapeake that took place off Boston during the War of 1812 and figures prominently in Patrick O'Brian's novel The Fortune of War.
"The calm deliberation with which the American and English commanders went out to seek each other's life and the earnestness with which they urged their officers and men to steep their hands in the blood of their fellow beings form one of the sombre pictures of naval history. Lawrence was the youngest son of John Lawrence, Esquire, counselor-at-law at Burlington, N.J., and was the second in command at the celebrated capture of the Philadelphia in the harbor of Tripoli. Broke was the descendant of an ancient family which had lived in Broke Hall, England, over three hundred and fifty years and for four hundred years at Leighton. Both were men in the prime of manhood, Lawrence in his thirty-second year and Broke in his thirty-seventh. Both were models of chivalry and manly grace; both were held in the highest estimation in their profession. Lawrence had just taken an affectionate farewell of his two sons and an hour later was urging his men to "Peacock them! Peacock them!" Broke a short time before had committed his wife to God's mercy and soon afterward was urging his crew to 'Kill the men! kill the men!' Both were men of the kindliest feelings and most tender affections; both acknowledged the justice of the cause for which the Americans were contending, yet with steady determination they went out at the head of their ships' companies to take each other's life. A few hours afterward, when Captain Broke fell on the Chesapeake's decks fainting and covered with his own blood, his lieutenants, on loosening his clothes, found a small blue silk case suspended around his neck. It contained a lock of his wife's hair." #
Peter said there were three kinds of men–you could say men then, meaning people. The Overadjusted, the Maladjusted, and the Unadjusted. Overadjusted are Babbitts, in the worst sense of the word–the way it is understood by people who’ve never read Sinclair Lewis. These are the unquestioning conformists. Among Republicans, I suppose they’d all be Bush “conservatives.” The Maladjusted Man is simply that self-regarding twit that defines himself by his superiority to the Overadjusted. He’s the guy with all the leftwing bumperstickers on his beat-up car. This is the chronic bohemian, etc., for which Viereck also had no patience. What Viereck celebrates as the Unadjusted Man was the one who conforms to the permanent things, the transcendent values that can make him somewhat out of step with his times, but not neurotically so.