Opinions & Observations
Single-artist exhibitions and displays can enhance your appreciation of the artist – or not. The Felix Vallotton show in London (and subsequently at the Met) was a prime example of the former: his work was unfamiliar beforehand; his style developed in interesting ways over his career; and the paintings selected were almost all top-notch and rarely repetitive. The Legion of Honor’s exhibition of James Tissot in San Francisco qualified for the latter. Tissot has long been a personal favorite of mine; I had seen a major Tissot show before (Yale 1999);
Whereas it took Beethoven four notes to write the most famous introduction in classical music – ba-ba-ba, bum – it took the Temptations only three notes to produce the sweetest, most tantalizing, most recognizable introduction in rock: ba, bum-bum. Then the song absolutely soars with a perfect opening line: “I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day. When it’s cold outside I’ve got the month of May.” How can you not be happy when you hear this song? The great Smokey Robinson wrote lyrics of unalloyed happiness: “I’ve got all the riches one man can claim.”
People frequently ask for my Oscar predictions or preferences, so I will hazard the latter. The New York Times, among others, takes the fun and guesswork out of the former by polling voters and announcing results that tend to be more accurate than they are for the political elections.
To my mind, Trial of the Chicago 7 and Nomadland were the only two films from 2021 that I could unequivocally recommend, and I would award them the major prizes. Aaron Sorkin did his usual masterful job
World Series 2020
The better team, the Dodgers, won the World Series last night, but they got more than a little help from the manager of the Tampa Bay Rays and his adherence to a pet peeve of mine, “analytics.” This is the trend that has swept the Major Leagues the last half-dozen years, although it was introduced 20 years ago by the Oakland Athletics, as glorified in Michael Lewis’s Moneyball. The old-time scout who relied on his eyes and his gut was replaced by the office nerd who crunched numbers; the skipper who had a feel for the game from decades in the trenches was replaced