It’s been a grim few weeks. But there have been some glittering things in the dross.
First highlight was the Bob Dylan “Drawn Blank” exhibition at Halcyon Art Gallery near Green Park in London. A few years ago, Dylan was a writer and his “Chronicles” book was well-worth the investment. A few months ago, he was given a Pulitzer but I’m not exactly sure what for. This isn’t to imply he doesn’t deserve one. I’m just not sure why then. Now he’s an artist. And somehow he still manages to always be on tour and make the occasional album.
“Drawn Blank” however is a little unusual even by Dylan’s standards. First published in book form in 1994, these drawings were hardly noticed. Then his critical rating was low and nobody cared what he was drawing. Now painted, the “Drawn Blank” exhibition comes at a time when his star is in the ascendancy. Consequently, it is all over the broadsheets (The London Times, no less) and is worthy of an art gallery exhibition on the continent and two here in the London and no doubt some others I’m missing. Then, no-one cared, now the £1250 signed prints are all sold out and the first book is selling for £400 a copy. Strange. Of course, with Dylan, we’ve encountered this before. When he went electric, he was a Judas, until we decided he was a genius. His “Jesus” shows were dire for many, but are now spoken of as amazing feats where an artist like Dylan chose to perform only new songs in a show of passion, energy and commitment. Then few could see past the evangelism and booed his accompanying girl vocalists. I’m waiting for the “Empire Burlesque” reassessment.
I purchased the 1994 book of “Drawn Blank”. I purchased the 2008 book of the same drawings painted. I thought they were okay. Some good, a few very good. However, seeing them extremely well presented at the Halcyon, moved them up a notch in my estimation. Well worth seeing.
Second highlight. John Foxx’s “Tiny Colour Movies” at the Apple Store, Regent Street, London. Musical artist again but this time not paintings but films. Now I’m not much for the world of contemporary commercial films and I hate most cinemas. I do mean hate. So that I have now gone to see “Tiny Colour Movies” three or four times must mean that this set of films has something more going on than simply being the work of one of my favourite musicians and the fact that I have to keep going beacuse despite my persistent requests Mr Foxx will not put it on DVD.
Tiny Colour Movies is a collection of 14 concept pieces assembled from the home movies of a bygone generation. It is moving, thought-provoking, vivid and imaginative. It has a tremendous ambient soundtrack which the artist accompanies his films with, standing alongside, like the pianist adding sound to a silent movie. It is quite, quite wonderful and if it comes to a town near you, I might just follow it there.
Finally, on this smorgasbord of updates, a little baseball. Surprise, surprise. As the trade deadline approaches the Bronx is seeing new faces. First in was Richie Sexson. Now in 2007, Sexson, then at Seattle, hit .205 BA with 21 home runs. Fortunately, he turned this all around by storming to .218 with 11 homers by the first week of July. Not surprisingly, the Mariners released Richmond Lockwood Sexson. I’m not quite so sure why the Yankees decided to sign him later in the month. Perhaps it had something to do with that florid name. At least they didn’t invest in Bonds. I’m not holding my breath for this acquisition to be a great success. Indeed, I’m praying that by the time of my return to the Bronx in September, he will have headed toward waivers. We’ll see.
More significant (hopefully) was the trade made yesterday which has brought Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte over from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Marte, who actually spent a little while in the Yankees system a few years ago but never made it to 161 St. and River Avenue, is that crucial item a left-handed relief pitcher. Occasional promotions for Billy Traber and Kei Igawa have not added such a thing to the roster for very long. Marte with his 3.47 ERA, 4 Wins (no losses), and 5 saves seems a much better prospect.
Nady is a good addition at least because Matsui and Damon are not likely to see much time in the outfield for the remainder of the season. However, there may be more. His contract has another year beyond 2008 and he is 5 years younger than Damon. He is batting .330 with 13 home runs. There might be quite a lot in this for the Bombers.
A slight downside to this came in the final detail of the trade. The original detail suggested that the Yankees were giving up Ross Ohlendorf and three minors who were barely on my radar. Now Ohlendorf looked good earlier in the year but then his mechanics fell apart and he might not be a huge loss but I was a little more disappointed with today’s update. The news is that the Pirates final list for the trade sees Jeff Karstens heading over to Pittsburgh. Now I’m not sure quite where Karstens’ career was headed (he’s been rather injury prone) but I’ve followed his career since seeing his early appearances for the Staten Island Yankees some years ago. I’m disappointed that he will never be established in the Bronx. It was an interesting journey.
The final footnote to this was that the very disappointing LaTroy Hawkins was designated for assignment and that Kei Igawa was removed from the 40-man roster and outrighted to Scranton (AAA). The Yankees are paying him in excess of $5 million – and they finally seem to have given up on him. Now that’s an amazing story.