Archive for July, 2011

Baseball and Jazz

bulls rain delay

Snapshot I took during Durham Bulls game rain delay, end of July 2011.

Ken Burns aside, there are a lot of overlaps between the two great American inventions.  During JLP oral history interviews, the topic of baseball often came up.  According to Carole Thomas, Gene Smith put a red filter on his TV screen so he could watch baseball in his darkroom.  Some musicians were once outstanding prospects (Lou Donaldson, played 3rd base in a Negro semi-pro league as a teenager) and others were passionate fans (Dave Frishberg comes to mind – check out his great Van Lingle Mungo).  In the JLP book I included a transcript of the broadcast of the 1960 World Series (Pirates over Yankees) found on Smith’s tapes.

A few baseball recommendations:

Bullpen Gospels, by Dirk Hayhurst. A behind the scenes look at minor league baseball written by a current (injured) player for the AAA Durham Bulls.

Sixty Feet Six Inches, by Bob Gibson and Reggie Jackson.  The two immortal ballplayers engage in a book length conversation about the art and science and culture of the game.  The marketing for the book doesn’t reveal this very clearly, but there is a lot of important insight into racial complexities these men experienced in baseball.  In that way it reminds me a little bit of drummer Art Taylor’s invaluable book of interviews with fellow musicians, Notes and Tones.

Durham Bulls game coverage for The Independent, by Adam Sobsey.  Sobsey covers the AAA Bulls in a manner that I find unique in baseball game coverage on any level.  A few nights ago he wrote what must be 5000 words on a single game.  Before the internet, there wasn’t an outlet for Sobsey’s kind of serial work.  This morning a literary friend read a few of Sobsey’s pieces and observed, “He’s an existential sportswriter.”  That’s a pretty good observation that may reflect Sobsey’s background in theater production and playwriting.  You don’t have to be a fan of the Bulls or their parent club, the Tampa Bay Rays, to enjoy his work.

-Sam Stephenson

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Nasher Numbers for JLP


Over the weekend an envelope from Nasher Museum of Art director Kim Rorschach was delivered in our roadside mailbox in quasi-rural Chatham County.  Her kind note mentioned that 37,000 people had attended the JLP show during the recently-closed run at her museum.  I’m not experienced with local museum traffic but that number struck me as enormous.  I was born in Chapel Hill and have lived within three hours of here since then (more or less).  It wasn’t all that long ago when Duke’s former art museum was housed in essentially a dormitory building and Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill were connected by unlit, two-lane country roads.

Okay, that’s a bit melodramatic.  But, in the early days of JLP (back before cell phones, seriously), when my work trips to NYC counted in single digits (of 137), this may not have seemed like the right home for a project like this.  A few grant proposals may have failed because of it.  It was an accident of history that JLP was a New York project with materials in Arizona and a home base in North Carolina.  But as I mentioned in last week’s Independent piece, the Center for Documentary Studies was the uncanny, perfect place for JLP.  As the project grew, the Nasher was conceived, designed by Rafael Vinoly, ground-broken, and built a half mile down the street from CDS, and 37,000 people showed up for the JLP exhibition.  (Kim’s note was handwritten so I confirmed the number with her by email this morning, to be sure I was reading her hand accurately).

What an asset to this area the Nasher has become in a short time.  Many kudos and much gratitude are due Kim and her staff.

-Sam Stephenson

p.s. (The ridiculous heat and, moreover, drought have me in a wistful mood perhaps).

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Late Night Sports Radio #2: Voices in the Country


Here’s my second micro-feature on late night sports radio out of NYC for The Morning News.  In case you missed the first and want to see it, it’s HERE.


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New Yorker: Sonny Clark at Eighty

The New Yorker’s Richard Brody chimes in with an excellent post.  Also, earlier today Brody posted “More Art” evoking Hemingway and Melville and a lot more.  It’s fascinating and among other things he mentions that today is Hemingway’s birthday, too.


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2011 Independent Weekly Arts Awards Announced Today

I was honored today by the alt-weekly of the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C. “Triangle” region.  I wish longtime and integral JLP staffers Dan Partridge and Lauren Hart had been mentioned, and CDS exhibitions director Courtney Reid-Eaton who is central to the ongoing traveling operation.  But otherwise I’m flattered.  I’m grateful for Aaron Greenwald’s quote:  Dos Passos’ work was an influence on the varied narrative structure of the JLP book. – S.S.


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Chaos Manor at Invisible Dog


The Invisible Dog Art Center has put up some information about Chaos Manor.  From that link scroll down for three entries.

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More Scenes from Brooklyn

Kate Joyce sends along a few more photographs from the Chaos Manor workshop in Brooklyn three weeks ago.  I remain pleasantly dumfounded that we had the green 1962 Ford truck as a backdrop all week.  What are the odds of that?  I also like that in this first picture you can see Fred Kaplan’s book, 1959, which Frank Kimbrough brought with him.  Fred’s been kind to us over the years. I dig Hank’s Mastodon t-shirt, too.  Lots of forces were converging at the table. – S.S.

Musician Frank Kimbrough and photographer Jason Goodman

Musician Frank Kimbrough and photographer Jason Goodman

Writer Hank Stephenson, theater director Conrad Kluck, me

Writer Hank Stephenson, theater director Conrad Kluck, me

Brigid Hughes, founder and editor of A Public Space

Brigid Hughes, founder and editor of A Public Space

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From Frank Amoss

Drummer and former 821 Sixth Avenue resident, Frank Amoss, checks in with the following note:

Jack Reidling, one of the world’s finest pianists, passed away on June 23.  His memorial service was well attended by musicians and admirers from all over Southern California as well as from his home town of Fremont, Ohio.  The following quote was printed out and distributed.  I think it aptly applies to survivors and devotees of Chaos Manor.

” Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaim….WOW! What a ride.”

By Hunter S. Thompson

-Frank Amoss

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Friday Jazz Mix

A close friend is in the hospital recovering from a stroke and he flattered me by asking for a “harmonious” jazz mix to aid his recovery.  Here’s what I came up with:

1) Branford Marsalis Quartet.  “The Ruby and the Pearl.”  From the album Eternal.

2) Grant Green.  “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”  From Grant Green: The Complete Quartets with Sonny Clark.

3) Brad Mehldau.  “Exit Music (for a Film).”  From The Art of the Trio, Volume 3: Songs.

4) Billie Holiday.  “The Man I Love.”  From The Quintessential Billie Holiday, Volume 8: 1939-40.

5) Miles Davis.  “The Man I Love.”  From Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants (which should be distinguished from Miles Davis and the Jazz Giants; the one to get is the one with Thelonious Monk on piano)

6) Duke Ellington.  “Blood Count.”  From And His Mother Called Him Bill.

7) Sonny Clark.  “Cool Struttin’.”  From Cool Struttin’.

8) Duke Ellington.  “Day Dream.”  From And His Mother Called Him Bill.

9) Bill Evans Trio.  “Waltz for Debby,” Take 2. From The Complete Live at the Village Vanguard 1961 (Disc 3).

10) Art Farmer.  “Out of the Past.”  From Out of the Past.

11) Clifford Brown and Max Roach.  “What is this Thing Called Love.” From At Basin Street.


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More Twombly

another opoooenr

My old friend and fellow Coastal Plains, N.C. native Sam King (Kinston) sent me a link to this piece on Twombly by Amanda McCleod that I’m pretty sure is my favorite piece on him since his passing.  The only thing I’d add (and McCleod writes many things in her piece that I couldn’t have written) is that he didn’t move to Rome permanently; he increasingly split his time in Lexington, Virginia and in recent years it was more than half the time.  But that only reinforces one of her interesting points:  When abstract art was peaking in NYC, Twombly cruised town.  I also like how McCleod uses the term “grant money,” which is a lot closer to saying “cash money” than saying “grant” or “grant funding,” bureaucratic terms.

-Sam Stephenson

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