Wednesday, February 10, 2010

cat on a leaky roof


Groucho, Jupiter and apples by Cezanne
make life worth living in Manhattan
for Woody Allen. I’m less fussy for I can
survive with Linda, who’s my cat on
a leaky roof with one who’s neutered,
plus Boaz, keeping us trash-free,
so long as I can Google, internet computered,
for hiddush-powered poetry.

Woody Allen also listed Willie Mays,
by there’s no sportsman with whom I’m
in love, so long as I am able to amaze
my cat on leaky roof with rhyme,
and play with feline Figaro, who is her rival,
six-toed and clumsier than her,
less vital, maybe, when it comes to my survival,
but partial to me with each purr.

Exuberance will be my immortality;
though life is often somewhat rotten,
my cat despite her leaky roof locality
assures me I won’t be forgotten.
I have a love affair with her, most dominant
of all the players whom she likes,
and since with verse and prose I seem so prominent,
she hasn’t called me yet on strikes.

Inspired by Dwight Garner’s review of “Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend,” by James S. Hirsch (“A Nice Guy in a Perfect Baseball World,” NYT, February 10, 2010):
In his 1979 movie, “Manhattan,” Woody Allen made a list of the things that make life worth living. At the top sat Groucho Marx. But just behind Groucho — and before the second movement of Mozart’s “Jupiter” Symphony, Louis Armstrong’s recording of “Potato Head Blues” and “those incredible apples and pears by Cézanne” — came Willie Mays. By 1979 Willie Mays had been retired for six years, and his best years as a player were at least a decade and a half behind him. But Mays’s infectious smile, his casually electric playmaking, his pell-mell base-running style, his rocket arm (Joe DiMaggio called it the best he ever saw) and his home runs that blasted holes in outfield fences still defined — and continue to define — what baseball, in a perfect world, should look like. Mays’s gifts were almost preternatural. “Willie must have been born under some kind of star,” said Leo Durocher, his manager in the early 1950s with the New York Giants. The journalist Murray Kempton compared the originality of Mays’s plays to Faulkner and the Delta blues. The sportswriter Roger Kahn said that “Willie’s exuberance was his immortality.”…
This book couldn’t have been an easy one to write. Mays is known for his reticence and his distrust of writers. “Willie volunteers about as much information as a brass Buddha,” one once said. Mr. Hirsch seems to have gotten more out of Mays about his two marriages (he also has one adopted son) and his private life as anyone has. Mays remains, however, tantalizingly remote. “Who is Willie Mays?” Mr. Hirsch asks, as if in mild despair. “It’s a fair question.” Mays stayed in baseball too long, not retiring until he was 42. His final seasons with the Mets were painful to watch. He seemed like a man out of time in other ways. Mr. Hirsch refers to him as “a man of deference at a time of defiance.” But this book gives us a portrait of Mays as his own kind of pioneer, on the field and off. He played the game as well and as joyfully as it could be played, and he was a role model who disarmed the bigots with his discipline and infectious charm. “Baseball and me,” Willie Mays said, “we had what you might call a love affair.”


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