Norman Mailer and the sorority girl

November 10, 2007

Norman Mailer has died at age 84.  He came to the University of Tennessee in 1973 to give a lecture, which turned out to be a reading from his book about Marilyn Monroe. That’s it–he just got up and read from his book. Hundreds of people had turned out, and much was the disappointment. He had been paid $10,000 or $15,000 or what seemed like a tremendous amount of money for that time, and all he did was read and answer a few questions.

There were high hopes for a better showing at the party afterwards. I was an undergraduate and a member of the committee that chose the lecturers. One of the perks of being on that committee was getting to hang around the man or woman of the hour, often at a dinner before the lecture or a party afterwards.

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Tennessean Todd Helton Triumphant

October 16, 2007

Growing up in East Tennessee in the 1950s and ’60s, I never felt much of a lure from professional baseball. The Braves weren’t in Atlanta yet, and Cincinnati seemed like a long way off. My friends pulled for the New York Yankees, so I did, too, but with no real enthusiasm. When I moved to the Boston area, I gave my heart to the Red Sox, whose Fenway Park seemed to exemplify real baseball, not these pleasure palace ballparks with all the box seats.

We moved to Boulder, Colorado in 1992, and the very next spring entered a lottery and won tickets the the very first Colorado Rockies home game. It was held in Mile High Stadium, home of the Denver Broncos, and 80,000 people were on hand–a record setting number of people to see a major league game. The very first Rockies batter to bat at home hit a home run. It was a wonderful day.

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Country Ham Pizza

July 21, 2007

I just had some reheated pizza for lunch. It was “Quattro Formaggio with Prosciutto,” or, as I would have called it many moons ago,”four cheeses with country ham.” I grew up eating country ham. My grandfather would kill hogs in late fall, rub the hams with a sugar and salt mixture, and hang them up to cure in the family smokehouse. Even though it was called a smokehouse, he never smoked meat, nor did most East Tennessee families.

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