More stories—all the ones that don’t have anything to do with high school or my hometown. (Not true. You’ll find both of them in here, too.) These ones concern friends, co-workers, libraries, baseball, donut stores, giggling fits, teaching, and various other matters. Sometimes they’re tangents spinning off from a piece of music or a film, sometimes not. I’m glad I had, when they were written, the option of pursuing those tangents whenever I felt like it—not just in the fanzines I wrote for, where such freedom was a given (freedom’s just another word for writing-for-free, as the song lyric goes), but in other venues too, like Nerve and Graffiti and even the Voice, both paid and unpaid. I tend to teach the same way, too. Lots of tangents and stories, with a little bit of bluffing here and there.
[from the chapter introduction]
The accompanying look at the Texas Rangers is the story I was seeking, but for me a much larger one unfolded: what it’s like to interview major league ballplayers for the first time. It wasn’t easy; it wasn’t particularly enjoyable.
There were two primary problems: there was me, and there were the players. First off, cliché though it may be, I was in total awe of everything. The day began around 11:30 a.m., with Avrum (our photographer) and me killing some time around the cage while the Jays took BP. An omen of things to come—I was fully aware that I was walking on turf for the first time, how odd it felt. From there on in, I would constantly be distracted from what I was supposed to be doing by the consciousness of me doing it. Camus goes to the ballpark, so to speak.
[from “Clubhouse Blues,” Innings, 1986]
With which character on The Simpsons do you indentify most closely? Why?
I think I have a little of six or seven characters in me. There’s some Milhouse left over from grade-school—loyal friend, awed by the fact that Bart’s standing over there “doin’ stuff”—some Martin Prince, too. Whenever I hear that some local publication I despise has folded, I always let out a very satisfied Nelson-style raspberry. I share Apu’s sentimentality and Homer’s nostalgia, and I can also be as calculating as Mr. Burns. I don’t see much of myself in Bart, though someone who knows me might disagree (in high school, yes). Most of all I hope I’m Lisa; everyone should aspire to be Lisa.