- I'm from Kingston, Ontario, site of the 1976 sailing Olympics. Those
games were mostly at the Stade Olympique in Montreal. That stadium
now houses the Montreal Expos, and it's cursed. That summer the
Democrats nominated Jimmy Carter. I saw him campaigning in New York
and liked his smile.
I could not grasp any particular sailing race, but my family and I
enjoyed the crowds and the buzz. Uncomfortably hot and humid outside
today in New York, the Olympics play soundlessly inside on NBC. Who
needs to hear TV commentary? Telemundo offers different events and,
when I need them, appropriately foreign commentators. The banners in
Athens seem to be all in English.
I love baseball on the radio. Sometimes only a baseball game can put
me to sleep. I can always see in my mind's eye a single to left. But
the last time I actually played hardball I was 12, and I would like
to observe that a baseball is hard to catch, hard to hit, and moves
with frightening speed. I have similar problems with basketball,
football and hockey.
But how often have we seen synchronized diving or beach volleyball?
Numbers seem to give sports their significance. For the record, I'm
now on page 344 of Martin Chuzzlewitt. Not long ago I read all of
Byron's Don Juan for the first time. When I finish Martin, I'd like
to read not merely particular cantos but the entire Faerie Queen.
The last book I read by a living writer was Eileen Myles' quirky
fictive autobiography Cool for You. It turns out this spring Eileen
and I both had operas produced. How do you measure their success?
The scoring of Olympic gymnastics is so complex that the judges
awarded a gold medal to the wrong man, Paul Hamm. Sport numbers are
invariably complicated. I remember being dragooned into the scorer's
chair for one of my son's basketaball games. I didn't know what I
was doing. I kept saying that it wasn't like this in hockey, and why
weren't the boys given sticks and blades so they could harm each
In the reading Olympics, the London Review of Books has a nice
survey of recent Christopher Marlowe literature. I've been using one
of the books in the review, Mark Thorton Burnett's edition of the
complete plays (Everyman). Finally I have read Edward II. "St John
the Evangelist was bedfellow to Christ and leaned always to his
bosom," said Marlowe, according to the LRB: "he used him as the
sinners of Sodoma." This Everyman Marlowe is a physically pleasant
and completely readable text.
The type's tiny in my old Oxford Standard Authors edition of the
Poems of Spenser. The Fairie Queen has ten stanzas per page. But the
larger new Penguin edition of The Faerie Queen fills me with hope,
there are only four stanzas per page. The reading Olympics ever begin
anew. Bill C., George W. and I celebrate our birthday this month.
This month we three turn 58. I hope at the Beijing Olympics in 2008
the president will be three years older than me. And in Mr Carter's