Rafael Nadal Makes History, Roger Federer Makes $neakers

This past weekend Rafael Nadal led Spain to its sixth Davis Cup championship, winning all eight of his matches (five singles, three doubles) without dropping a set.

Nadal’s 6-3, 7-6(7) victory over Canada’s Denis Shapovalov that clinched the title on Sunday was, Kevin Mitchell wrote in The Guardian, “another clutch performance to end an astonishing week from the best player in the world.”

Via Tennis Warden:


And how, you might ask, did Roger Federer do at this year’s Davis Cup?

He didn’t – because he skipped it for the fifth straight year (as did fellow Swiss player Stan Wawrinka). In fact, Switzerland couldn’t even get past the qualifying round this year, losing 3-1 to Russia in February. (Beyond that, the Federer-less Swiss team also lost 3-1 to Slovakia in September, thereby failing to qualify for the 2020 Davis Cup.)

Instead, Federer was on a megabucks exhibition tour of Latin America that netted him about $10 million. (There’s also Federer’s vanity tournament, the Laver Cup, established to compete with the Davis Cup.)

Roger Dodger did, however, garner some attention on the last day of Davis Cup play.

From Elizabeth Paton’s Page One piece in the New York Times Sunday Styles section, headlined Roger Federer, Sneakerhead?

Pundits have been predicting Mr. Federer’s retirement for almost a decade. For nearly as long, he has defied their expectations. Lately, however, despite stressing that he is far from finished playing, Mr. Federer has started to talk more openly about what comes next.

That’s where a company called On comes in . . .

Mr. Federer has become an investor in, as well as a contributing product designer and representative for, the [Swiss running shoe] brand, which was started in 2010 in Zurich.

(To be sure graf goes here)

To be sure, every athlete looks to maximize his or her financial return from what is an inevitably time-sensitive career.

But to some athletes, competing for their country is a greater prize than prize money.

Another reason Rafael Nadal is No. 1 in much more than just the ATP rankings.

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Springfield Museum Ghosts Contributors of Works to Exhibits

Well the Missus and I trundled west the other day to check out the – five, count ’em five – Springfield Museums and say, the exhibits were swell.

But their attribution? Not so much.

First we went to The Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, whose first floor features BAUHAUS: 100 Years Later (through February 16). Of all the 100th anniversary Bauhaus exhibits we’ve seen this year, this just might be our favorite.

No art school had a more influential or lasting impact on 20th century art and design than the Bauhaus. Founded in 1919 by the German architect Walter Gropius (1883-1969), the Bauhaus’ curriculum aimed to unite fine art, architecture, design and craft with the goal of creating functional art that could be incorporated into to daily life. Today, the streamlined designs and forward-looking aesthetic of the Bauhaus continues to inspire creative minds. This exhibition showcases work by major figures such as Josef Albers (1888-1976), Johannes Itten (1888–1967), Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), Oskar Schlemmer (1888-1943), and others who were involved with the school between 1919 and 1933.

The only acknowledgement by the museum of the exhibit’s source seems to be this single sentence in a press release: “Many of the pieces that will be displayed were donated by Springfield attorney and art collector Abraham Kamberg.”

By “many” the museum means “all but two” as far as we could tell. But there’s no mention of Kamberg in the wall text, just “Gift of Alma and Abraham Kamberg” at the bottom of the labels alongside each work.

Short shrift, wouldn’t you say?

The second floor houses The Art of Observation: The Best of Photographer Elliott Erwitt (through January 12), a eye-popping collection of the fabled streetscape shutterbug’s snapshots.

With a storied career spanning over six decades, photographer Elliott Erwitt (born 1928) is responsible for some of the most iconic images of the 20th century. Born in Paris, France, Erwitt immigrated to the United States at a young age. In his twenties, Erwitt became acquainted with Edward Steichen (1879-1973) and his work was featured in the seminal Museum of Modern Art exhibition titled Family of Man . . .  Although Elliott Erwitt famously captured major public figures like Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy, and more recently Barack and Michelle Obama, he is also known for his ability to reveal the extraordinary in the everyday. Clever framing, insightful visual parallels, and the ability to capture pivotal moments characterize what Erwitt called the “art of observation.”

Representative samples:




(A great story goes with that last photo: Erwitt shot it while traveling in Provence with legendary adman Bill Bernbach. The man on the bike was their driver. I forget where the kid came from. They rode down the road dozens of times until Erwitt got the shot he wanted. The rock you see alongside the bike signaled to the kid when to look back at the camera.)

The museum website also notes, “This exhibition, featuring over 90 gelatin silver prints, provides an overview of Elliott Erwitt’s spectacular career, which paralleled important photographic innovations and historical moments of the last century.”

What it fails to note is that all 90 (as far as I could tell) come from the collection of Richard Coplan, who receives no mention in the wall text or the museum’s press release, only the last line of the photographs’ labels.

That’s exceedingly odd.

(To be sure graf goes here)

To be sure, I don’t know the details behind the exhibits or their presentation. But I’ll send this post to the Springfield Museums press relations folks to see if they can enlighten me.

P.S. The Missus and I also dropped by the Wood Museum of Springfield History to catch Sweet: A Tasty Journey (Subhead: Unwrap the origins of our candy cravings!) and yes, it is 1) very tasty and 2) there through April 26.

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Dead Blogging ‘Hans Hofmann’ at Peabody Essex Museum

Well the Missus and I trundled up to Salem this past weekend to take in Hans Hofmann: The Nature of Abstraction (through January 5) at the expanded Peabody Essex Museum and say, the exhibit was swell although the #newPEM part was a bit confusing.

Start with the Hans Hofmann exhibit, which was curated by Lydia Gordon, Associate Curator of Exhibitions and Research at PEM.

Discover a fresh perspective on the artist and teacher widely considered a profound influence on American modern art. Organized by UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA), the exhibition presents the most comprehensive examination of Hans Hofmann’s innovative and prolific artistic career. Through paintings and works on paper from 1930 through the end of Hofmann’s life in 1966, explore the artist’s journey into abstraction, and his deep contribution to the artistic landscape of New England.

It’s a nicely staged, truly immersive showing of Hofmann’s synthesis of color, shape, and light. As Hofmann, a born teacher, told his students, “In nature, light creates the color. In the picture, color creates the light.” And PEM has created something enlightening.

(You don’t have to take our word for it, though – the Wall Street Journal’s Lance Esplund gave it a rave review in Tuesday’s edition.)

From there we revisited Order of Imagination: The Photographs of Olivia Parker, a fabulous exhibit of Parker’s work that vividly illuminated her scaling, setting, and lighting of objects large and small, common and exotic.

Representative samples:


From Mark Feeney’s Boston Globe review:

At their frequent best, these images are marvelousness made visible. Marvelousness is to be expected when, as here, invention and slyness and seemingly boundless curiosity come together.

Unfortunately, the exhibit closed this past Monday, but a visit to the web page is a fine consolation prize.

From there we wandered over to the museum’s new $125 million wing – accent on wandered. (Note to PEMniks: Signage, people.)

Eventually we stumbled upon PEM’s new exhibit Fashion and Design Can . . . (through January 1, 2022).

Whether designing for self-adornment or for use, this installation unifies two traditionally disparate collecting fields to better understand what underlies our motivations and capacity for designing ourselves and the world around us. Ensembles from the Iris Apfel Rare Bird of Fashion collection celebrate the exuberant remixing and inventive styling of one of the world’s most prominent fashion icons, while constellations of unique and culturally significant works of design, fashion, and textiles explore distinctive and resourceful forms of creative expression.

The exhibit declares that fashion and design can . . . Be Imaginative . . . Intimidate or Empower . . . Define or Confine . . . and etc.

It can also . . .  Be a Bit of a Mishmash.

Representative samples:



(To be fair graf goes here)

To be fair, this is how Curator of Fashion and Textiles Nancy Putnam sees the exhibit.



Either way, well worth a trundle.

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Zippy the Pinhead Misses the Boat on Boston’s Lobster Mickey

The hardworking staff yields to no man in our respect and admiration for Bill Griffith’s Zippy the Pinhead comic strip.

But today’s strip in the Boston Globe is, well, kind of chuckleheaded.

Notice the caption lower right: “Real Statue in Boston, MA.”

Except it’s not anymore, at least according to this piece in Atlas Obscura.

For Mickey Mouse’s 75th birthday, Disney commissioned artists across the country to decorate 700 pound mickey statues for their local region.

The Boston area really took that “local” part seriously.

Artist Breanna Rowlette created “Lobsta’ Mickey,” a tribute to Boston’s close ties to seafood and linquistic accent. The six foot tall mouse is charming and strange at the same time… there’s something about a rodent with giant claws that can’t help but be a tad unsettling. He can be found at Faneuil Hall marketplace.

Update 2015: Sadly Lobster Mickey is no longer present. He got auctioned off in 2005 for 9000$ to an unknown bidder.

Sadly indeed.

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GateHouse Media’s Free-Rent Sweepstakes a Gate-and-Switch

Imagine the hardworking staff’s delight when we received an email from GateHouse Media with the subject line Win a Mortgage-Free or Rent-Free Year!





(We’ll pass over in silence the inconvenient fact that up to $15,000 would be more like an entire three months of mortgage or rent payments in much of Massachusetts.)

Even so, the hardclicking staff went right to Enter Now!, which took us to a page at the (Peoria) Journal Star featuring this message.



Seriously? To enter the sweepstakes we need to set our alarm for 1 AM on November 13?That feels more like a bleepstakes. The folks at Gannett better hope the GateHouse gang is less weaselly when they close their merger deal – if they ever get there.

The New York Post has reported that there might be a hitch in the proceedings that involves the private equity firm Apollo Global Management.

The FCC is concerned that the $1.8 billion loan Apollo is providing to finance the merger could violate its duopoly laws, sources said.

That’s because Apollo also has a deal planned to buy 13 television stations owned by broadcast company Cox Enterprises for $3 billion. And while Gatehouse and Gannett are newspaper publishers and Apollo is buying TV stations from Cox, the FCC has rules that stop common ownership of a daily print newspaper and a TV station in the same market.

GateHouse executives just might want to set their own alarms for 1 AM on November 12.

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Made Yankee Fan in Boston: In Houston They Had a Problem

Game 6 of the 2019 American League Championship Series was a case study in Just What You Expected.

Let’s start from the beginning: In the bottom of the 1st, Chad (The Arsonist) Green gave up a three-run homer to Yuri Guriel, whose ALCS batting average at the time was .050, which is only slightly better than my batting average in the big leagues.

(Insert here multiple Yankee undisciplined plate appearances over the next few innings in which they turned a lot of balls into swinging strikes.)

By the middle of the 5th it was 3-2 Houston, but the lead somehow felt bigger.

(See: Josh Reddick’s diving catch in the 6th followed by DJ LeMahieu’s first-pitch groundout to end the inning, and Michael Brantley’s diving catch in the 7th after which he doubled Aaron Judge off first.)

Still . . . it seemed only right that in the top of the 9th the Yankees would bring either LeMahieu or Judge to the plate with the tying run on first.

And LeMahieu delivered.



So – perfect – bring on super Yankees closer Aroldis (Lights Out) Chapman and what did he do?

He let José Altuve turn the lights out.



Bottom line: The Astros were four wins better than the Yankees during the regular season (107 to 103), and they were four wins better in the ALCS.

Wait til next year, yeah?

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Made Yankee Fan in Boston: Goin’ Back to Houston, Houst . . .

Yesterday, in our dour assessment of the New York Yankees’ performance in the 2019 ALCS, we said oy.

Today we turn to this old Jewish proverb: One chops wood, the other says Hey!

That’s our cue:


The Yankees staved off elimination by mugging Justin Verlander for four runs in the first inning – welcome back Aaron Hicks – and hanging on for the next eight.



James (The Gopher) Paxton traded his standard first-inning homers for a run-scoring wild pitch, but then settled down to throw six stalwart innings. The bullpen went lights out and the Yanks packed up for two – maybe! – in Houston.

See you there.

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So Far the Yankees Have Folded Like Origami in the ALCS

As a Made Yankee Fan in Boston for the past 45 years, it pains me to say that the 2019 New York Yankees – easily the most likable squad in recent memory – have been their worst selves in this increasingly sad American League Championship Series.

Innumerable runners stranded. Inexplicable pitching decisions. Incessant flailing at the plate. Insufficient grit.

Exhibit umpteen, with high/lowlights.



Given my status as Patient Zero from Yankees Gone Chernobyl in 2004, I’ll never say never.

But . . .

Justin Verlander vs. James (The Gopher) Paxton tonight?


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Newly Renovated MoMA Is Museum of Modern Arguing

From our Beaten to Death with Croutons desk

Here’s what everyone can agree on: New York’s Museum of Modern Art will unveil its four-month, $450 million, 47,000-square-foot expansion on October 21st.

Beyond that, it’s strictly an art critic slapfight.

Let’s take just one example: This pairing of Pablo Picasso’s 1907 iconic “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” with Faith Ringgold’s 1967 painting “American People Series #20: Die.”



Here’s Wall Street Journal Arts in Review editor Eric Gibson in a piece headlined “Bigger, Yet Somehow Smaller.”

Most significantly, MoMA has abandoned the longstanding chronological, movement-by-movement display that made it to modern art what Florence’s Uffizi Gallery is to Renaissance painting: the indispensable textbook . . .

[T]hat overall concept is marred by instances of special pleading and political tub-thumping, the latter nowhere more egregious than in the gallery containing Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” (1907). This is the painting that launched the Cubist revolution, seedground for many of 20th-century art’s subsequent innovations. As you would expect, it keeps company with later Cubist works by Picasso and his comrade Georges Braque. But hanging with it is Faith Ringgold’s “American People Series #20: Die” (1967)—a painting of a race riot.

You don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Let’s be honest: The two are oil and water, despite a wall text arguing otherwise.

It’s not just the wall text arguing otherwise – it’s also New York Times art critic Holland Carter in this piece.

The gallery itself is a virtual Picasso shrine, with his 1907 “Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon” at the center, and related pictures ranged around it. But there’s a major out-of-time entry here too: a 1967 painting, acquired in 2016, by the African-American artist Faith Ringgold depicting an explosive interracial shootout. Titled “American People Series #20: Die,” it speaks to “Demoiselles” both in physical size and in visual violence. And just by being there it points up the problematic politics of a work like Picasso’s — with its fractured female bodies and colonialist appropriations — that is at the core of the collection. MoMA traditionalists will call the pairing sacrilegious; I call it a stroke of curatorial genius.

Let’s be honest: Those two readings are oil and water. Stir vigorously, eh?

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Trump Is a Chump™ (WSJ Trump Hotels Advertising Edition)

First, let’s stipulate that Donald Trump is the least self-aware U.S. president since post-stroke Woodrow Wilson.

Let’s also stipulate that the Cheeto-in-Chief is more transactional than your neighborhood ATM. As one observer noted, Trump has no standards and no principles – just context.

Even so, this small-space (one-ninth of a page) Trump Hotels ad in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal is about as tin-eared as you can get.



Always keep the big picture in mind?

That, by definition, requires a mind.

Which, given the evidence, Donald Trump is decidedly out of.

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