The Unbearable Banishment: The Old Ball Game

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Old Ball Game

I saw a great play last night with CB. He liked it too, which counts for plenty because his standards are a lot tougher than mine. It was a drama with lots of yucks about baseball during the steroid era called Back Back Back.

The two principal actors were stand-ins for José Canseco and Mark McGwire. CB isn’t a baseball fan and initially I was concerned that he wouldn’t find the story very compelling, but there was nothing worry about. The acting is so good that you are pulled in whether you’re a baseball fan or not. The play ends with the Canseco/McGwire doppelgängers getting ready for their Congressional hearings and you really do feel the weight of what they did to baseball and each other. You never hear the word “steroid” spoken. Great plays like this make up for dogs I occasionally sit through.

The play was presented by the Manhattan Theater Club and I’m very happy that this is such a strong show. (Although, it’s still in previews. For all I know, the critics could trash it when it opens, but I can’t imagine that happening.) They’ve opened two other plays this season that were both panned by the critics, so they need a hit. Producing plays must be nerve wracking. All those weeks (months?) of rehearsal and preparation and all it takes it a handful of bad reviews on opening night and that’s it. You’re through. Pow. Right in the kisser.

* * *

The play was in midtown and before it started I sat outside for a while across the street from Radio City Music Hall on the ledge of a fountain. It was so freakishly balmy out that I could sit comfortably without a jacket on.

I watched the tourists and traffic flow up 6th Avenue. Radio City is an art deco masterpiece and it’s already all lit up for Christmas. A crowd was pouring in for the evening performance of the annual Christmas Spectacular.

The out-of-towners were having their picture taken with Radio City as a backdrop and I obliged three different families who handed me a camera and asked me to take a photo for them. Everyone was so happy and excited to be in New York that I got all stupid and gooey inside. What a punk.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

i need to go back to NYC, gawk upward at tall buildings, stand still in the middle of the sidewalk and take photos of sleeping bums... or just go enjoy knocking around a fabulous city at christmas. you've talked me into it...

November 8, 2008 at 3:11 PM  
Blogger Tim Hall said...

It's nice to see somebody taking advantage of the city's culture. I was there for 40 years and all I ever saw was my own reflection through the bottles on the opposite wall. Do you think you'll EVER move back???

November 8, 2008 at 7:45 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

daisy: NYC will open its arms and embrace you (and occasionally pick your pocket in the process).

tim: No, I don’t think I’ll ever move back. By the time the girls leave home I’ll be pushing 65. Plus, I do pretty well for myself, but not well enough to live in NYC the way I’d want to. Remember, there is no longer a middle class there. It’s still a major part of my life, though. It’s okay.

November 8, 2008 at 9:48 PM  
Blogger Digital Fortress said...

I was just talking to my better half about your blog today about how you benefit from all the art and culture available to you in NY and what limited resources we have here in OK. It’s great that you are able to take advantage of it so often. Unlike you I never enjoyed living there, but when I left I often liked to visit for a bit. Been a long time since I have been back and your blog sure leaves me feeling nostalgic for the Big Apple.

November 9, 2008 at 1:56 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

digital: You are in the vast majority. Most people find NYC an interesting place to visit but uninhabitable over the long term. Too dirty, too noisy, too expensive, too much concrete, etc. To be convinced that this is an acceptable way to live takes a certain amount of psychological damage, which I apparently have in spades because I felt completely at ease there for almost 20 years.

Unfortunately, it’s no place to raise two little girls (unless you're wealthy) so now I hang my hat in New Jersey.

November 9, 2008 at 8:32 AM  
Blogger Tim Hall said...

Another serious consideration is the air quality. I bought three HEPA air filters right before my son was born, and within 3 months the filters were caked with more than half an inch of soot each. I couldn't imagine all that crap going into his (and our) lungs, the damage it would cause. Suburbia has its discontents (and environmental issues) but getting my kid clean air/water is pretty much Job #1 in my opinion. The media completely ignores air quality issues in NYC unless it's to demonize smokers, which is really too bad. Those hipsters in Brooklyn have no clue what poison little Brixton and Liberty are breathing in.

November 9, 2008 at 9:02 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

tim: All that is true but at the risk of sounding selfish and foolhardy, if I could have written my own script, I’d be typing this from the balcony of my duplex apartment that overlooked Central Park West while the girls put their shoes on to go out and kick leaves in Sheep Meadow.

November 9, 2008 at 10:57 AM  
Blogger Tim Hall said...

You and me both, baby, you and me both. Just trying to polish the turd of suburban living, you know how it is...

November 9, 2008 at 11:11 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

tim: Does this sound familiar?

Grim faced and forbidding
Their faces closed tight
An angular mass of New Yorkers
Pacing in rhythm
Race the oncoming night
They chase through the streets of Manhattan
Head first humanity
Pause at a light
Then flow through the streets of the city

I feel the sense of possibilities
I feel the wrench of hard realities
The focus is sharp in the city


November 9, 2008 at 11:39 AM  
Blogger Tim Hall said...

No, I'm sorry to say, but I like it. Who said it? Links??

November 9, 2008 at 11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

doing theater (said a bit tongue-in-cheek) in my hometown, i find myself hankerin' to get to some real kick-butt theater. thinking i need a trip to NYC soon... good review...

November 9, 2008 at 3:53 PM  

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