A Sure Sign of Spring?
Who cannot thrill to the smell
of freshly mowed grass?
Or the sound of the crack of the bat when
white ash wood connects with that tightly spun sphere of cowhide—
brilliant white with its firecracker red stitching?
Or how about the umpire’s primeval
roar of “Play ball”?
Or… the meekly murmured response by
Mark McGwire to an unequivocal question— asked at Congressional
hearing late last month— as to whether he ever took
steroids? To wit:
“I am not here to talk about
Ah yes, Baseball is back!
This time however, with the STEROIDS MONKEY
on its back.
We now know in our hearts (the deepest place
you can know something), that all the great baseball achievements
of the last decade— the shattering of home run records;
the Ruthian clouts by suddenly gargantuan men— were
accomplished with the aid of an artificial means, that have
been banned in every other major sport. We’ll leave
it at that.
We suppose each individual will have to make
their own judgments, assessments, reflections etc on this
state of affairs and where it might fit in the bigger context
of our society.
But being poets, we began to fantasize about
the possible impact of steroids on our own craft. We envisioned
ourselves with the muscle to produce Mammoth Metaphors, Robust
Rhymes, Invincible Iambic Pentameters, “A-lectrifying”
Alliteration, the generation of a Perpetual Poetic License,
and forever, Titanic Truths, endlessly sprouting from steel
We went on to see ourselves breaking all
the “records” of Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson
and Walt Whitman; smashing the sonnets of Shakespeare; “out-homering”
the great epics of Homer himself (speaking of baseball). Then
we woke up. And we wrote this down.
Alone and without the enhancement of steroids
or even so much as an aspirin, all too aware of our metaphorical
hemorrhoids, as we shifted uneasily in our chair.
The Shroud of
Turin: It Boggles The Greatest Of Minds
Think of some of the more “popular” unsolved mysteries
of the last century of which we have come to know or heard
tell: UFO’s, the Rosewell Incident,
Loch Ness Monster, the disappearance of Amelia
Earhardt, the Bermuda Triangle. And then of
course, the endless speculations by Conspiracy Theorists
regarding the assassination of JFK. Well these are like “Goldilocks
and the Three Bears”, compared to the Shroud of
We recently attended a presentation on the
shroud by a former NASA employee, Jack Sacca— he the
personification of a rocket scientist if ever there was one.
It was nothing short of astounding. Or at least certainly
to those of us, who had no more than a passing awareness of
this phenomena, despite a lifelong association with Catholicism.
It’s just something upon which we have never focused.
But since this presentation, “the shroud” has
gotten our undivided attention. For a number of reasons.
Regardless of one’s religious persuasion,
we’re talking about a potential EXHIBIT A in a 2000
year-old case concerning the crucifixion of one of the world’s
best known victims: a Jewish male (Sephardic); long hair;
about 5’ 10”; 175 pounds; approximate age: 33
years; who went by the name of Jesus.
It is a story replete with plunders and fires
(one such suspicious one as late as 1997) centering around
the coveting, retaining and protecting of this historic “relic/exhibit”,
that could be the missing link between the mystery of a known
death and alleged resurrection.
It is a story long since subjected to all
the speculations that the best of modern medicine and forensics,
science and chemistry, technology and art, have had to offer.
And yet, results remain at the very least…highly intriguing.
The shroud is arguably one of the most intensely
studied artifacts in the history of mankind. And therefore,
not surprisingly, it is also one of the most controversial,
debated and baffling discoveries of all time. Even some atheists
have thrown up their hands for want of a satisfying explanation.
First, the briefest rundown of key points
in time regarding the shroud:
• It made its first recorded
appearance in 14th century France.
• It was first photographed in
• It was highly studied in 1978…
with inconclusive though gripping results suggesting its
• In 1988, it was thought to have
been proved a fraud through carbon-14 dating.
• That allegation of fraud has
since been systematically challenged by other scientists
claiming a series of faulty methodologies in that carbon-14
• It is now in the possession of
Pope John Paul II and last on put on public display in
2000 at Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist
• One of the most recent positions
in the scientific community, might best be summed up as
“The Shroud of Turin
images may not the direct result of a miracle, at least
not in a traditional sense of the word. But they are not
manmade either. These seem to be the contradictory conclusions
from an article in the completely secular, peer-reviewed,
scientific Journal of Optics (April 14, 2004) of the Institute
of Physics in London.”
And now, to give us a sense of what we’re talking about,
here is the face of the man on the shroud (taken from a full
body imprint…”front and back”) as it actually
appears to the naked eye at a distance of six feet or more:
Here is how it appears as a photographic negative.
“Real”? Or a forgery? (And done
in the 15th century as has been alleged by some?).
If real— and believed to be so by many
men of great scientific minds for reasons too detailed and
far-reaching to incorporate into this type of correspondence—
the implications are “unreal”, so to
But what so fascinates about this story,
is that either way, real or fake, it is STILL
incredible. Of how many unsolved mysteries, of how
many stories, of how many “phenomena”, could this
For example, if proven that the Rosewell
Incident never happened…no little gray men? End of story!
Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone? End of story!
But consider this: even if the shroud was
done by a 15th century forger, to quote one compelling
summary we ran across on the implications of this achievement:
This forger was such an expert
in 20th century biochemistry, medicine, forensic pathology
and anatomy, botany, photography and 3-D computer analysis
that he has foiled all the efforts of modern science.
His unknown and historically
unduplicated artistic technique surpasses all great historical
artists, making the pale efforts of DaVinci, Michaelangelo,
Raphael and Botticelli appear as infantile scribblings.
Or to put it in another perspective, let’s
say we have decided to create a forgery of some kind here
in April of 2005. How about… “We have found
the bones of Amelia Earhardt! News at 11.”
Not only would we have to fool the current
experts with all their 21st century technology and data into
believing that these are indeed her remains, but we would
also have to invent some techniques and processes to use in
our hoax, that will be able to withstand the scrutiny of technologies,
that will not have been developed until 2505!
Wish us luck. We’ll drop you a line and let you know
how it’s going.
Bobby Short and The Plaza:
The Passing of a Certain Style
On March 21, 2005, that bon vivant and impeccably
tailored Bobby Short, the quintessential
cabaret singer-pianist who presided at the Café Carlyle
these last 37 years, passed away at age 80.
On April 30, 2005, The Plaza
Hotel, a landmark Beux-Arts building, that has
stood at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Central Park South
since 1900, will cease to exist in its current form. It will
be transformed into a combination hotel, deluxe apartment
building and shopping center.
We could not help but note a connectedness
in these two news items, that goes beyond their chronological
proximity— that is to say, “the passing of a certain
For example, rarely do people go to venues
where the entertainment consists merely of “man with
piano”… and a repertoire of Cole Porter tunes.
Nor do they “dress up” much any more either (especially
men, with the long ago passing of formal hats and now ties).
Also, rarely does the prospect of a snifter
of brandy, or “High Tea” at places such as the
Oakwood Bar or Palm Court at The Plaza, do much for
a “24/7” mentality; a people too much on the go,
to stop and take the time such subtle pleasures take. “Old
World” elegance and sophistication often seem affected
and anachronistic, in a culture becoming decidedly more and
more “low brow”— and proud of it!
But, this is not about nostalgia; it’s
about anthropology. It’s about the inevitable evolution
of tastes and styles in music, costume and romance.
It’s also about small regrets for not
having experienced in “real time”, for better
or worse, pieces of an age in which one has lived.
We never got to see Bobby Short, though we
made many promises to ourselves to do so one day. And now
We also had never gotten around to staying
at The Plaza. That is until now; less than a month before
it too will have been gone. We are glad to have done so. Life
is “short”. No pun intended.
April: National Poetry Month
A half dozen or so years ago, April was so
designated as you see above. Which is ironic given the line
from T.S. Eliot’s classic poem The
“April is the cruelest
T.S. aside and in celebration of poetry which
this month honors, we offer a small poem we wrote many years
ago which was published in a lit mag, whose name we can’t
Nor any courses like a Page
Of prancing Poetry—