When the New York Times Book Review interviews authors, it sometimes asks them what book they would like to read that hasn’t been written. For me, it would be a book on the history of magazine advertising. I would like to know when it was that an advertiser first made an editorial demand and, of course, the name of that advertiser. So I could boycott them.
Yesterday evening I opened the front door and found a padded envelope from my publisher. After tearing it open, I pulled out a hardcover copy of The Joys of Travel, along with a touching letter from my editor.
Holding your new book in your hands is one of the greatest moments in a writer's life. It makes all the work worthwhile and all the rejection insignificant. It never grows old (at least not when you publish a book every 12 years). May this one find many readers.
Friday evening Hania and I drove down to the University of Miami to hear the Frost Symphony Orchestra play a program of Bartok, Glazunov, Barber, and Brahms. (I had sat next to one of the violinists, a first-year master's student, on a plane back from Philadelphia last summer.) Then yesterday I returned to Miami to hear the Miami Bach Society's presentation, in partnership with the University of Miami Collegium Musicum and the Anglican Chorale, of Johann Sebastian Bach's St. John Passion.
A cellphone rang while Dr. Donald Oglesby, the director, was introducing the work. He took the phone and put it to his ear. "Johann? Hello. We're just about to perform your Passion. Yes, we're passionate about it. What? OK." Then, handing the phone back to the man who had given it to him, he said: "Johann would like you all to turn off your cellphones."
There followed two and a half hours of glorious music and exalted singing.
At the conclusion, Dr. Oglesby was given a present by one of the singers, a man who spoke of his 39 years of service to the University of Miami with such emotion that he almost didn't make it to the end. Dr. Oglesby wiped away a tear himself. Then he took the wrapping paper off the present to reveal a box. He opened the box and found another box. Laughter spread through the church. "Well," said one of the violinists, "we are the Box Society." (A brilliant pun that worked better in spoken than written form.)
Yesterday, after an interview in Aventura, I continued on to Miami. The Marlins were playing an afternoon game and I told myself: If the roof is open, I’ll cheer them on. It was a warm but not hot day with low humidity and only the slightest chance of rain.
From the SW 7th Street exit ramp I could already see that the roof was closed. I continued on and stopped for lunch at Viva Mexico on SW 12th Avenue. My tacos were considerably cheaper than they would have been at the game, and I got to eat them outside.
When Marlins Park was being built in Little Havana, I had great hopes. I liked that it was going up in the city, even though it would mean a longer drive from my home in Fort Lauderdale. The first game I attended, making my way through the homey streets, I was reminded of going as a child to Connie Mack Stadium in North Philadelphia. I didn’t realize then that this new stadium would mean the end of outdoor baseball (at the professional level) in Miami.
The last few years, I knew to go to games early in the season if I wanted to sit outside. (The quick switch to air-conditioning, I heard, was at the behest of the players – those floundering millionaires – not the fans.) So far this year, the roof has been open for one game only. You could perhaps understand the strict shut-in policy if the team were winning in their climate-controlled confines, but they are – after yesterday’s victory – an abysmal 2-7 at home. (Maybe some fresh air would do them good.) You wonder why Loria spent the money to construct a retractable roof when he could have simply built a domed stadium.
Then you remember that it wasn’t his money that he spent.