Not many books make me laugh out loud and also cry. This one did, and I was on the subway, so it was embarassing:
Lost on Treasure Island: A Memoir of Longing, Love, and Lousy Choices in New York City is filled with salacious stories about dating (for a while, Steve Friedman wrote the "Single Guy" column in GQ and had access to an endless stream of well-groomed and willing material) but it wasn't the love plot that held me. The heart of the book is its portrait of a working NYC writer: the daily battle to produce and sell work, the power struggles with editors, the fight against despair and decadence. Midway through, there's a story about profiling John Tesh that is worth the cover price alone. This book is delicious and life-affirming. I'm lucky to know Steve and to have studied writing with him.
Nat King Cole sings this standard on the album Lush Life with the Pete Rugolo Orchestra. The song's okay, but I love the lyrics so much that I transcribed them when I couldn't find them online. Turns out this is the only extant recording of the song! According to the liner notes, its author is unknown.
You Can't Make Me Love You
You can't fry an egg in a snowstorm, You can't get your mail at the zoo, You can't make a fish take a shower, And you can't make me love you.
You can't peel a grape underwater, You can't drive a car to Peru, You can't make a whale kick the bucket, And you can't make me love you.
You can fly a kite, Start a fight, Sleep at night. You can count to ten, But, baby, here we go again...
You can't keep the rain from the rhubarb, You can't find a flea in a flue, You can't hit the moon with a beanbag, And you can't make me love you Cause I already do.
You can fix a flat, Swing a bat, Wear a hat. You can stay up late, But, baby, I reiterate...
You can't bake a bean in a barrel, You can't tell the sun what to do. You can't harldy fall up a stairway, And you can't make me love you Cause I already do.
I was very sad to hear of the passing this Thursday of Ron Springs, former Dallas Cowboy running back. My prayers go out to his family and friends and especially to Everson Walls.
Talent runs in the family: Ron Springs (L) and his son (R). Photo from BostonHerald.com
About five years ago, Springs received the gift of a kidney from Mr. Walls, who had been his teammate on the Dallas Cowboys. The two men were close, but their wives were best friends. The kidney transplant was successful; Walls recalls waking up groggy after the surgery and hearing Ron down the hall, laughing and gossiping and eating a big salmon dinner. Sadly, Springs only had eight months to enjoy this new freedom and vitality. During what was supposed to have been routine surgery to remove a cyst from his elbow, he slipped into a coma from which he would never awake. The family are suing the anesthesiologist, and I hope they win.
I was lucky enough to meet Everson Walls a few months ago, when I was preparing to give away my kidney. He is a great athlete and human being who has always found the light in the middle of darkness. I am sure he will find a way to do so now.
Everson Walls (L) and Ron Springs after their transplant. (Tony Gutierrez / AP)
In his NFL career, Ron Springs ran for 2,519 yards, had 2,259 yards receiving and scored 10 touchdowns. Here is a scene from happier days, from Everson Walls's wonderful memoir A Gift for Ron. Walls and his buddies are rookies and are unsure if they will make the starting lineup:
One day, this burly veteran appeared at our open door, blocking out the light coming down the hallway. He walked right in and just started talking.
He asked us where we were from. When he found out I was from Grambling and Angelo was from South Carolina State, he immediately began referring to us as Negro League players, like the old black baseball guys. All of us just started laughing - him, too. I don't remember the guy saying, "I'm Ron Springs." He didn't have to. He knew we knew who he was.
Ron was the Other Veteran. He was different He reminded me of how the seniors at Grambling treated the freshman players. We made fun of the freshmen, too. But we didn't dismiss them, and Ron didn't dismiss us.
Ron invited us on his evening excursions to Thousand Oaks' restaurants and Watering holes, and we were only too happy to tag along with a veteran. It wasn't a purely altruistic gesture on his part. What he really wanted was someone to drive him to and fro so he could concentrate more on the crabs he liked to eat and the beer he liked to drink. But as that first training camp ground on, we realized that Ron was also lending us a helping hand. He'd let us know what the coaches were saying about us. He'd tell us what we were doing wrong and what we needed to do more of. He gave us insight into what it would take to make the team, which was a remarkable thing, really. It didn't dawn on me at the time, but what Ron did was sacrificial.
After all, you have to be selfish to make a team. There are only so many spots on the roster. The last thing you want to do is give someone competing for one of those spots, especially yours, information that could subject you to a visit from the Turk [the players' nickname for the guy who dispensed pink slips]. But Ron did just that even though he could be cut just as easily as a Rookie because NFL contracts weren't guaranteed. He did it for me. He did it for Worley Taylor, who was trying to be a fullback just like Ron.
Ron never showed any worry about that. He was confident in his own abilities after all the success he'd had before making it as a pro, and he always reminded us of it. He was always talking about how he did it at Ohio State. That wasn't any Negro League school, he'd say. Ron was about to earn the starting fullback job during that training camp, too. We were just trying to seize any job on the team.
I was confident, cocky some said, about my abilities, too. I thought I would join Ron on the final roster from the first rookie scrimmage at Thousand Oaks. I picked out a rookie receiver named Doug Donley to go against because the Cowboys drafted him in the second round from Ron's school, Ohio State, and they really liked him. I knew that the coaches couldn't ignore me if I was playing against the guy they thought so highly of.
Doug and I went at it day after day, and I was getting the better of him. He was just six feet. I was six-two. I was learning the playbook and schemes just as fast as he was, and my position coach, Gene Stallings, started shoving me up the depth chart...The Turk kept knocking on everybody's door but ours.
The morning of the last day of training camp the team was summoned to a meeting. Michael Downs and I went downstairs, took our seats, and started looking around the room and counting heads. There was one too many defensive backs, we thought. Michael was already in the starting lineup. I wasn't.
Coach Landry came in the room and as coolly, or coldly, as he was known for being, he said simply, "OK, this is what we're going with." Michael and I looked around and realized Aaron Mitchell, the veteran corner, was gone.
"He's on the Whisper Jet," Ron told us afterward.
There was a passenger plane at the time called the Whisper Jet, because it was supposed to be so quiet, and Ron said that was what happened to Aaron. They put him on it, and no one knew. Aaron was en route, we found out later, to Tampa. The Cowboys had traded him for a Tampa Bay draft pick.
Ron didn't say any more to me and Michael and the other rookies who ended up making that team. He didn't have to. The look on his face spoke volumes. It said welcome to the big time.
The Mark Morris Dancers perform L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderatothis weekend in Los Angeles. It will be the last time Julie Worden dances with them. Every time I saw my beautiful friend dance, I learned something about being an artist. She's moving on to other magnificent endeavors, but I still feel sad...
photo by Cristina Guadalupe
SONG FOR JULIE
Green bird, blown by the hurricanes To our windowed world, You leave green feathers everywhere And key lime pie and blue eyes.
Green bird, blown by the hurricanes To our windowed world, You leave fair weather everywhere And photographs of blue skies.
Perhaps Florida, where mandrakes light the lake, Sugarcane cigars and high noon. Perhaps Florida Made you so fine.
Green bird, it is confusing. So much beauty and so much truth! Which is which? Where do the legs end?
Where does the mind end, Which fathoms oceans, arias and architecture? Are you strange beneath the opera lights, Or are you still our friend?
Green bird, only for you, All windows open, all poets write: There is none like thee among the dancers, None with swift feet.