Sleep deprivation. Diaper duty. Sleep deprivation. Diaper duty. Sleep deprivation. This formula should be covered under the Geneva Convention as a form of torture. Yikes.... where was I? Geneva Convention... Baby D. evidently doesn't give a damn about the Geneva Convention. And where in the hell did he get these lungs? (Tee hee) Poseidon have mercy! We've got a little Pavarroti on our hands. Can't wait to start him on tuba lessons. Although he seems to be a sort of 11 pound, 24 inch tuba all on his own... if you get my drift.
Anyhoo. I was staring up at the quarter moon the other day trying to remember those former times when I chased sparkling fishes on the windswept shores of the Pacific Ocean (did I dream this former life?) And suddenly, at the fishwife's suggestion, found myself heading seaward with A-frames, buckets and net bags in tow.
Though I must say there was an intervening 15 minute period in which my smelt gear fetishism locked me in a state of crisis. Given this one opportunity to jump smelt, (and Poseidon only knows when the next will come) which of my hand made A-frames should I use? The svelt, aerodynamically pleasing "Surf Stryker," (known to trolls and orcs as Flame of the West) with it's hardwood dowell (birch i think) and its distinctive pictograms? (See Nico Von Sharkenheimer's elucidating comments below). The beastly "Mjolnir," (Smelt Hammer) with it's Phillipine mahagonny uprights, it's maple dowel, and it's distinctively patched red netting. Or the newest of the lot, "Caspian," with it's tern-like economy of line and it's elegan white netting?
In the end, "Smelt hammer" got the call. For some reason smelt hammer always gets the call. Here's the happy result:
In fact. This is shaping up to be the best night fish season in a years! And it's nice to find them so conveniently close to home. I realize of course everybody loves to fry and eat night fish whole, but if you take an extra half hour to head and gut them, you can do Camilladilla's parmesan/breadcrumb broilers... mmmm. As radical as it may sound, I prefer not to fry my fish. I guess I'm like Old Mr. Flood, in the Joseph Mitchell book, who viewed fried fish as a sort of culinary atrocity. And frankly, as I forge ahead towards my fifth decade, the old Satchel Paige aphorism rings with increasing relevance: "Avoid fried meats which angry up the blood." I mean, half the deal with eating small fish is the health benefit, right? Well that kind of goes out the window when you start frying them.
Anyhoo, I may or may not post a video on the first night smelt expedition of 2013. Not too keen on giving away my spot, and there are guys out there who can tell where you are by the way the friggin wind is blowing! Please read Sharky's comments below (in the comment section) so that you know how I treat my night smelt partners. Seriously, my bad. I had no idea there was a gull-durned hole in the net bag. I swear.
The legendary Satchel Paige, ca: 1937, in his Ciudad Trujillo uniform. After surviving his Dominican ordeal (pitching in front of a firing squad) Paige returned to the US to find himself barred from the Negro Leagues for jumping ship in mid season. So what was an enterprising ballplayer to do? Together with his team mates Josh Gibson and Cool Papa Bell, he formed "Trujillo's Allstars," a barnstorming team that toured the states, taking on all challengers and spreading the story of his great triumph in the Dominican Republic.
Satchel Paige has been on my mind a lot lately. It's true, sleep deprivation allows for some pretty awesome free association... but watching the World Baseball Classic, and seeing the Dominicans take their rightful place at the top of the heap, I remembered the story of Satchel Paige and his abduction from Pittsburgh in 1937.
Unreal there hasn't been a Hollywood screenplay written about this. During the summer of 1937 supreme dictator Raphael Trujillo, who unquestionably makes the short list of the 20th century's worst people (Don't believe me? Read this: The Parsley Massacre) decided to field his own baseball team to help his presidential campaign--and his ever tenuous public image. It's tough on a homicidal megalomaniac. The Domincan Republic was so beisbol crazy at that time, a politician evidently couldn't get very far without a team--a good team at that. So Trujillo sent agents to the States to round up the best available players, in an attempt to outmatch the rival teams. Well as it turns out, you could find quite a few decent ball players, ready to jump their contracts in the "Negro Leagues" of 1937. As the story goes, Trujillo's men offered Satch 30,000 large to round up some players and fly to Santo Domingo, which "el jefe" had renamed, you guessed it, Ciudad Trujillo. Satch was, according to his own account, not too keen on leaving his team in mid season, but Trujillo's boys made him an offer he couldn't refuse--supposedly at gun point.
Perhaps the greatest single tragedy in the history of American Sports. The great Josh Gibson was never allowed to play in the Major Leagues... and yet the legend grows. Show me a single baseball fan on the planet that has never heard of the only man to hit a fair ball clear out of Yankee Stadium.
In the end Satchel Paige, Cool Papa Bell, Josh Gibson, Sam Bankhead, Leroy Matlock, Harry Williams and Herman Andrews (all but Gibson of the Pittsburgh Crawfords) flew to the D.R. and played in the Dominican World Series. The level of play in that series was as high (if not higher) than any baseball ever played, anywhere on this planet. Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig bedamned! The rival teams sported names like Cocaina Garcia, Chet Brewer, Martin Dihigo (who was Martin Dihigo? Think: Joe Dimaggio and Walter Johnson combined) and Luis Tiant Sr. There are varying accounts of what happened next, but according to Satchel, Trujillo had them all locked up in jail before the big game to ensure they didn't go out drinking. (Not the biggest surprise to anyone familiar with the story of Rube Waddell). Then, after Satch pitched a few off innings and fell behind, Trujillo ordered armed soldiers to line up in foul territory facing the players. Satchel claimed: "They began to look like a firing squad."
Think about this next time someone tells you modern athletes are under a lot of pressure.
Anyway, they won. I don't know about anyone else out there but a 1937 showdown between Martin Dihigo and Satchel Paige is something I woulda liked to have seen....
After rallying to win the series Satch and co. high tailed it out of the Dominican and as the saying goes, didn't look back.
Reading Junot Diaz's Pulitzer-winning book (The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao). Lots of stuff about Trujillo. Ugh. What a wretched human being. Also finding that lil' baby Django is rather fond of Meringue, though he seems to prefer the Haitian style (sorry to my three Dominican fans). To anyone interested, here is a seriously beautiful compilation of Haitian meringues: "Haiti Cherie"
Wow what a difference a pacifier makes! Can't believe the little guy gave me 3 hours to do this post. Ok. There was a diaper change in there, but still. Pretty good.
Uh oh... somebody needs attention. Surf smelt and stripers any day now! Gotta scram...