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False Spring

Young people don’t know anything – especially that they’re young.
-Don Draper

It reached ninety-two degrees in Central Park on Wednesday afternoon, making it the hottest April 7th in recorded history. I remind myself of this two days later as I cut through Manhattan at midnight, hood pulled tight, heading for the train on a chilled, wet Friday. My car remains more or less empty for one stop, where it fills at 14th Street with a group of young gay (not in the Great Gatsby sense) dudes, occupying the seat next to me. A weathered, older Irish gentleman, looking like the type who might admonish George Bailey on ‘characters giving the place atmosphere’ sits across in apparent disapproval. Minutes later at West Fourth some urban clubbers with custom fit pants and high-end sneakers add to the mix, grabbing an overhead bar and the remaining floor space. Like the weather, the vibe shifts and the people readjust. If nothing else, New York City keeps you honest.

Pat Jordan wrote the baseball memoir A False Spring in 1975, and I read it later in college. The Kansas City Star called Jordan’s book “one of the most fabulous failure stories of our time,” and I would agree. But Jordan’s work, documenting his unsuccessful attempt at becoming a major league pitcher, is much more than this. Despite failing to reach The Show, Jordan’s ultimate success in relating his journey is apparent from the first sentence: “I see myself daily as I was then, framed in a photograph on the desk in my attic room.” The writing continues as such to its conclusion, detailing in simple, vivid prose an experience as universal as the passing of the seasons. Even Willie Mays had to learn to face the winter – and not before doing a late-fall stint as a Met.

Perspective, not unlike Dodger fans, tends to arrive late and leave early. I saw the Stones play Candlestick Park back in ’81, supporting the release of their album Tattoo You. There was a video for the single “Waiting On A Friend” – a tune that was recorded in ’72 for Goats Head Soup, but didn’t make the cut. In the video, which played constantly on the just-introduced MTV, Mick Jagger sits on a stoop at 96-98 St. Mark’s Place in Manhattan, the same location used for the cover of Led Zeppelin’s 1975 Physical Graffiti LP. He waits for an approaching Keith Richards while mouthing the words to the tune – “a smile relieves a heart that grieves / remember what I said.” The jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins provides a memorable solo and Mick Taylor’s guitar work from ’72 can be heard also. I liked the song then and like it now, and had little idea I’d be wandering those same streets near St. Mark’s Place twenty-nine years later, reflecting on how old I thought Mick Jagger was at 38, back in 1981. And I have no idea what any of it means.

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  1. Mike King wrote:

    Found this during a google search, this is great! I’ve already spent hours reading past posts. I wonder if “Bueb” showed up in an old post.
    Hope your well,

    Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 1:24 am | Permalink
  2. admin wrote:

    Yo, Mike – how are things? Great to hear from you. I’m up late on the east coast and your comment just came in ..

    You’ll be glad to hear that I’ve still got my Fender Twin in storage in San Francisco.

    We should catch up when I’m back in town..


    Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 1:44 am | Permalink

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