why not both?

03/31/15 10:37

Yesterday on NPR Tom Ashbrook, host of On Point, announced that he would be talking to Fareed Zakaria, who would be defending the importance of a liberal arts education. "Is he right," Ashbrook asked, "or is he old-fashioned?"

A liberal arts graduate with a love of tradition, I thought to myself: Perhaps he's both.

By Thomas Swick • Category: Uncategorized

a day at the open

03/30/15 10:50

It had been a few years since I'd attended the Miami Open as a paying spectator and not a member of the media, so I was surprised when the man at the ticket counter told me a simple grounds pass would cost me $81. The last time I stood at that counter I resisted when I was told I had to buy a stadium ticket - "All I want is a grounds pass," I argued - for $45.

I was also surprised by the long lines, before 11 am on a Saturday, waiting to gain entrance. (Though they helped explain the exorbitant tickets: higher prices equal bigger crowds.) With parking at $15, I had already spent nearly $100.

I watched Daria Gavrilova, the young Russian who beat Sharapova, hitting on a practice court, and then in the Grandstand saw Andrea Petkovic roll to victory over Kristina Mladenovic. After the match, the brainy Serbian-German happily signed autographs and posed for selfies.

The next full match I watched was Jerzy Janowicz vs. Roberto Bautista Agut. It was the first time I had seen the tall, eccentric Pole in person. He won the first set and then went away, as he tends to do, after being broken in the second. After losing one service game he walked to the net and asked a ball boy for the balls; he received three and proceeded to slam each one out of the court and over the nearby trees. Though I liked how he halted his serve at one point in honor of a passing V of low-flying pelicans. He took a medical timeout in the third set, apparently because of a foot problem; I stood up from my top row seat and, turning around, watched the women's doubles match on the adjacent court. At $81, I felt entitled to two matches at the same time.

By Thomas Swick • Category: Uncategorized

passage to india

03/27/15 08:34

In the same issue of The Spectator, Jeffrey Archer wrote a Diary from India, where he met with a former movie executive who told him that Hollywood villains are rarely Chinese or Russian anymore, because both countries are important importers of American movies. The new villain du jour is North Korean.

Arriving in Mumbai, Archer described an experience I remember: Sitting at a stoplight and seeing a small child approach with a stack of English paperbacks for sale. Archer rolled his window down and the little salesman asked him: "Would you like the latest Jeffrey Archer?" To which Archer replied: "I am the latest Jeffrey Archer."

By Thomas Swick • Category: Uncategorized

I love a magazine that can make me see things differently - or at least from a new perspective. Like many people, I was outraged when I saw videos of Isis members smashing statues in the Mosul museum. They seemed, somehow, not quite human. Yet in the March 14th Spectator, Simon Jenkins remembers the Allied bombing of Dresden and notes: "We saw eliminating an enemy's heritage and culture as justifiable revenge..."

By Thomas Swick • Category: Uncategorized

Usually I listen to the radio (WLRN) while eating my lunch but yesterday I turned on the TV and found Charlie Rose interviewing Leon Wieseltier about his departure from The New Republic after 33 years and the pernicious effect on society of a media in constant pursuit of more views. He was followed by Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, who talked about the film he made with Wim Wenders about his father, the great Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado.

By Thomas Swick • Category: media

John Isner towered over the crowd, made up of many high-heeled young women, in the Lacoste store at The Webster on Collins Avenue last night. He wore a white Lacoste tennis shirt, just as he does on the court, but below it were jeans instead of shorts. He looked more handsome than he does on TV, though that was partly because one's so used to seeing him struggling through yet another interminable tiebreaker.

"Is this the worst part of the tournament for you?" I asked him.

"No, the worst part is playing in the heat," he said. He spoke of the last tournament, at Indian Wells, where the heat was so dry you hardly sweated.

I asked if he'd watched the Federer-Djokovic final, and expressed my view that Federer tired in the third set. He said he hadn't seen it, and that Djokovic had beaten him. "He's good," he said with amusing understatement.

I wished him good luck in Miami (at the tournament) and then shook his hand, which was like a hard, muscular mitt.

I hopped in the car and drove over to the New World Center for the Wallcast of a documentary on Miami Beach on the occasion of the city's 100th birthday.

"It's been cancelled," a man told me as I crossed the lawn in front of the center. "They only had 100 years to get it ready," his friend said. They told me I could go to the free concert that was taking place inside.

It was my first time inside the New World Center, which was like a Marlins Park for music - modern, small-scale, intimate. A clarinetist, a pianist and a cellist (who was described in the program as a "first year cello fellow") played Brahms Trio in A minor for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Op. 114.

Leaving the hall I chatted with an old newspaper colleague and then, in the lobby, I ran into the pianist. I told her how much I'd enjoyed the concert and asked her where she was from. "Marietta, Georgia," she said. I told her I had just met a tennis player from Georgia. She had never heard of Isner, which was fitting, as he probably never heard of Aya Yamamoto. She asked me my name and offered her hand. It was a lot more delicate than Isner's.

By Thomas Swick • Category: sports