Saturday, June 14, 2003

A couple of Kansas City natives are big news in the Vanguardia today. Tom Watson, who won five British Opens, had a terrific first round at the US Open and is still one of the leaders--he won't win, of course, but it was nice to see him have such a good first round. The Vangua seems to appreciate him and gave him a nice big sports feature story and a photo.

I have actually met Tom Watson. In the summer of 1984 I worked as one of those awful people who waylay you in the mall--in this case Metcalf South in Overland Park--and ask you if you want to help with a market research survey. I was sent out to get men 25 to 49 or whatever for a soft drink taste test study, which I am positive was part of the introduction of New Coke. I saw this gentleman walking through the mall, not knowing who he was. Seemed like a nice fellow, well-dressed and all--I never stopped people who looked grumpy or in a big hurry, even though I was supposed to. I stopped him and asked him to participate and he said sure and I brought him back to the testing center, where I was immediately informed that I had somehow snagged Tom Watson, the famous golfer. Mr. Watson was very kind and shook hands all around and was surveyed, and then we turned him loose.

The thing is he didn't have to do that. He went out of his way to help out a kid making a minimum wage job--or was too nice to say "Go away and don't bother me," whatever--, and the kid didn't even know who he was. So I always root for Tom Watson.

There's also a back-page interview with Pat Metheny, who is in town. Metheny is one of those guys whose talent and creativity you have to respect, but whose music I'm not particularly interested in. I know Metheny and his brother, Mike, have done a lot for the Kansas City jazz scene, but he sure sounds like a jerk--and a schizophrenic--in this excerpt from the interview:

Q. Would you play for Bush?
A. No! No way! No.
Q. They say music soothes the savage beast.
A. Yes, but the beast has to have a certain sensitivity. And in this case, seriously, I don't think there's any sensitivity there. There is nothing that makes me think that Bush has the most remote appreciation of beauty.
Q. Is silence better?
A: I've never experienced it. We live in a world where silence does not exist. I always hear things.

I know it's "the savage breast", but the misquotation has made it over to Spanish and is now an accepted saying.

Now here's one for Andrew Sullivan's Sontag Award. It's Paul Auster, who is very popular here among our local Illustrated and Enlightened--a good rule of thumb regarding fiction is if the Barcelona critics like it, it's probably a bunch of pretentious crap. Anyway, he's in town for a month because the Catalan regional government has named his wife the Invited Author of 2003 with our tax money, and the Vangua gives him space for some cogent political analysis here.

Auster explained yesterday how the Bush Administration irritates him, just the same as the New Yorkers, "who are much more liberal than the rest of the country", t the point where some are already asking for independence. "A poetry magazine ran this headline on its last front cover: "USA OUT OF NYC". To the writer, "The Bush Administration is the extreme right, not even conservative. It's obvious what they're trying to do: destroy the (state?) governments, drive them to bankruptcy, so that they'll be unable to help anybody. Everything will be privatized except the armed forces. Bush is the devil, evil. He brings disaster. We had no right to invade Iraq. With "preventive war" we can invade any country in the world, because we're always threatened by something. Bush wasn't elected, he lost the elections and there was a legal coup d'etat."

Auster, by the way, shows his philistinism regarding Spanish culture when he states he is going to Madrid to meet Pedro Almódovar and then to Granada to see Lorca's house. Oh, jeez, has any American ever heard of any Spanish writers except García Lorca, who is massively overrated and is still known--not read by anyone but Spanish lit majors, though--today largely because of the manner of his death? Trust me, people, forget all that crap about how Lorca reaches down into the soul of Spain and puts the depth of sensitivity of the pueblo de España into words on the printed page. Spare me that "Verde que te quiero verde" stuff. And I personally wouldn't bother crossing the street to talk to Almódovar. We'd have nothing to say to one another. He would hate me and I probably wouldn't like him.

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