Monday, May 24, 2004

A Coffee Hit & Miss

J. Jarmusch and T. Waits, 'laxing 'tween innings....thanks to some fine folk @ PNC Bank, it was FRONT ROW (well, actually 6th row, but that's front row enough for me) @ the (Citi)Zen this past Friday to watch the Phillies display their superior skills over the Padres. The new baseball digs are stunning, especially when compared to the cement field monstrosity of the Vet. I still can't believe there are folks out there in the Philly area moaning for the good old days of Veteran's Stadium. It was a miserable place. When you see men urinating in the handsinks becasue the urinals are backed up, you know you're not in an hospitable place. Now, you can see the Phightin' Phils play on almost real grass (it's some concoction of real grass and artificial "connective tissue") with great sight lines, an interesting outfield fence dimension, and a collection of Philadelphia related eateries sprinkled throughout the stadium.
The bullpens are behind right-center field. The Philles' pen is just slightly higher than field level. The vistor's bullpen is a good 20 ft. higher than the Phil's and moved back a good 30 ft from the fence. Only a chest high fence seperates the visiting pitching staff from the highly opinionated Philly Phans. It was fabulous to take advantage of this current arrangement as you would not think this will last long. By the 4th inning, quite a few fans were deep into their cups..and into their opionating. The eateries open a full 2 1/2 hours before game time ( 3 hours on weekends), so, along with food, the beverages are flowing. When we stopped to gander at the bullpen pitchers, it was like our visits at the Philadelphia Zoo. A large collection of people were standing by the fence, and the pitchers were holed up deep in their protective den. Just like the tigers and lions at the zoo, we smelled the denizens but saw nary a beast. The game itself was a thrill. That sweat machine, Kevin Millwood, was on the mound for the Phillies. Padres went ahead 3-0 early on. Recently called up from Triple A, Chase Utley was on a hitting tear. A solo HR, his third 4 bagger in the last 3 games, started the comeback. With 2 additional ribbies scattered through the balance of the game, including the go-ahead run in the 8th, Mr. Utley finished with a homer, single, and double. Guess he won't be travelling on Triple A buses for a while. With the Phillie's win, the light-laden Liberty Bell tolled for the fans, including da son's and Mr. Chazzy(g). No rain, light breeze, exciting game, great night to be in Philly.

Saturday, time to sip & savor "Coffee and Cigarettes. Mr. Jarmusch's latest film came out on May 14th and hit Philly the following Friday. Along with Mr. Waits, Steve Buscemi, Alfred (NOT Albert) Molina, Steve Coogan, Meg & Jack White, Iggy Pop, Bill Murray, Steven Wright, and, my favorite, Mr. Roberto Benigni and a few other folks appear in this collage of 11 shorts. All, with one exception, revolve around coffee and cigarettes. The exception substitutes tea for coffee, but includes the cigarettes (French, don't you know). Reviews were all over the place including a strong one by NYT's A.O. Scott's and a piddling one from Philadelphia News' Gary Thompson (who proves the point that the Daily News should stick to what it knows...short words and sports... and leave the thinking to other newspapers). I've yet to see a Jarmusch film that I don't like and I love most of his work, so my opining will be a tad slanted. Any filmed piece, regardless of length, with Roberto Benigni will have me eagerly pressing wads of cash to the ticket person. In Mr. Jarmusch's "Night on Earth", a film that, like "Coffee & Cigarettes" had a central theme illustrated through various short films, Mr. Benigni plays a cab driver in Rome. His bit can be re-played over and over again with no loss of laughter or awe; Mr. Jarmusch successfully captures his almost out-of-control intensity. In "Coffee & Cigarettes", the first short, "Strange to Meet You, consists of Mr. Benigni's manner, fueled with espresso rocket caffeine, countered by Steven Wright's one-foot-in-the-grave presence. What happens??? Only your dentist will know.


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