Good lord, is this weather for real? Ninety degrees on the freeway Thursday afternoon, not much cooler under the trees. Vicious wind, of course — we’re all waiting for the inevitable thunderstorms, and Friday? High of 70. For the Tigers game.
My boss Derek says, “You don’t get gentle showers anymore. Everything’s a cloudburst.” Word.
So. I’ve been more or less deprived of one of my scab-picking pleasures of late. I don’t think Mitch Albom has written more than a dozen columns since last Thanksgiving. He surfaced at one point and said something about finishing a book. He weighed in on Words With Friends and dashed off a few sports columns. But the ones I consider my joy and duty — the Sunday op-ed front-page thumbsuckers about the good ol’ days or kids these days, the ones I hate-read with such gusto — those have been scarce. Until this past Sunday, when he unearthed Ernie Harwell’s rest-deprived bones yet again, by way of announcing his play about the Tigers legend would be returning for a second summer run:
There’s a scene in the play “Ernie” in which the actor playing Ernie Harwell re-enacts the way he broadcast minor-league baseball games in the 1940s, when there was no money to send him on the road.
Blah blah blah about the ticker-tape feeding the radio play-by-play — you saw it in “Bull Durham” — and then this:
When asked what he did if the ticker-tape machine broke, Ernie replies that sometimes he’d make up a distraction, like a dog running on the field. And he’d have that dog racing back and forth, eluding escape, until the machine was fixed.
Of course, when the ballplayers came home, their wives would ask, “What happened to that poor dog?” And they’d say, “What dog?”
The audience always laughs. It is a sweet moment. A reminder of a simpler time, when broadcasting was about imagination — for both the listener and, at times, even the announcer.
“It is a sweet moment.” OK, sure. Then we get a Bob Greeney detour into the NFL Draft broadcast, of which Mitch disapproves, because it’s not sweet and narrated by an old Georgian, and finally we get to paragraph 13:
The play about Ernie, which I was honored to write at his request, reopens this week at the City Theatre in downtown Detroit, across the street from the Tigers’ ballpark.
Shucks, people. He didn’t want to write it! Ernie asked! Would you have turned him down? But really, what an amazing trick. He starts out relating a “sweet moment” in “the play ‘Ernie’” and only mentions it’s actually his own play after a couple hundred words. But he’s not done:
It is rare that a stage play runs for long in our city, rarer still that it returns for a second season. It’s extremely rare that people view it multiple times. I think the reason folks return for “Ernie” is the same reason we couldn’t wait to hear him talk about “the voice of the turtle” when he opened his broadcasts every season. It meant renewal. It meant familiarity.
Because it couldn’t possibly be you, could it, Mitch?
I hope this means the little man is back. It would be such a long summer without him.
So, a little bloggage?
In the words of young Alvy Singer, upon meeting Joey Nichols: What an asshole.
My colleague Ron had some good stuff in Bridge this week, on schools’ failure to adequately prepare students for college, although if you ask me, it ain’t the schools’ fault. (Hi, mom ‘n’ dad.) And Peter Luke had a good column about the difference between Michigan Democrats and Republicans that contains a few striking parallels between the two parties in other venues, as well.
A great read about the power of one dedicated nerd against an archivist who went very, very wrong.
And speaking of archivists, another good one.
The auction of “The Scream” makes some people want to do the same. Jerry Saltz:
With dapper white men and tall, thin white women making little finger signals while holding phones, speaking to strangers in Dubai or Russia or Beijing or Mitt Romney’s garage, the painting was sold “to an unknown telephone bidder” for $119.5 million. Thus, a great work of art that had been all but lost to us, hanging in a private Norwegian home for more than a century, made a brief public appearance and then was sold off to another private owner, probably to disappear for another 100 years. We will likely never see this work of art again in our lifetimes. The Scream is a part of art history and should hang in a public collection, probably in Norway, and not just decorate a California den or a dacha in the Ukraine, waiting to be fodder for the next auction. (Needless to say, no museum was in a position to spend that kind of money.)
Eh. I’m happy with my Coozledad original.
A great weekend, all.