Phil Dellio's Homepage
215 George St., Box 3330 St. Marys, Ont. N4X 0A6
In the middle of all these dramas on social media (cf. previous two posts), I spent the last 15 months working on a book about Don McLean’s “American Pie.” Finally finished and got it uploaded a couple of weeks ago: Happy for a While: "American Pie," 1972, and the Awkward, Confusing Now That will take you to the Kindle version; there’s a button you can click on that page for a paperback. I did a Zoom call the other night with Scott Woods and Chuck Eddy (who wrote the foreword), mostly about the book but touching on various other things, too: “American Pie” and 1972 (zoomcast) Steve Pick, who’s part of the Christgau-inspired Expert Witness group on Facebook, wrote a really nice (and wholly unexpected) review of Happy for a While on his Substack blog: Steve Pick's Writing Place A review from Jeff Pike, who's always been really supportive of whatever I'm up to: Jeff Pike's "Can't Explain" blog And an interview with Richard Crouse, ditto: The Richard Crouse Show There will also be, if things fall into place, a couple of events in St. Marys; I’ll add any links as they happen. Promoting a self-published book continues to be an ordeal; promoting one post- pandemic and after having moved from Toronto to a small town of 6,000 people, even more so. I’m looking forward to what Scott comes up with from our Zoom call, but I wanted to preemptively address something we spent some time on that has been gnawing at me a bit: the age-old issue of subjectivity vs. objectivity. I’ve written about this often, especially when posting movie and music lists here and there. The point I’ve always tried to make: it’s almost always a meaningless distinc- tion. If I say that such-and-a-such is one of my 25 favourite films ever, then the implication is also that I think it’s one of the 25 best; the fact that I like it better than all the other films that aren’t on my list also implies I think it’s a better film--how could it not? Similarly, the idea of listing a film because I think it’s historically important or technically audacious or whatever-- but also knowing it’s not a film I personally love--that has never made sense to me. Basically, fa- vourite = best = favourite. I may have backed myself into a corner (as I reconstruct everything in my mind) during the Zoom call at one point, seemingly supporting the view that subjective and objective are two wholly different things, so let me clarify. I have, especially the last decade or so--maybe beginning with a collabo- rative Facebook countdown of my favourite movies I did with Steven Rubio and Jeff Pike in 2010--begun to acknowledge instances where strong undercurrents of nostalgia mess with that equation. There were a few films I included in my list of 50 favourites on that countdown--To Sir with Love and The Paper Chase, The Heartbreak Kid and North Dallas Forty--that in no way would I ever try to make a case that “this is one of the 50 greatest films ever made.” I’m very aware that I saw each of those films at a very impressionable time in my life, that they connected powerfully to whatever I was feeling at the time, and that those connections have stayed strong over the years. I still get far more wrapped up in them emotionally than, I don’t know, 2001: A Space Odyssey, or La Règle du jeu, or Vertigo, or hun- dreds and hundreds of other films I know are widely viewed as the very peak of cinematic artistic achievement. North Dallas Forty, my regard for which is inextricably linked to Ball Four and my high school basketball coach, is not that. And I believe that’s worth acknowledging. (In the Zoom call, I think it might have been mention of the Addrisi Brothers’ “We’ve Got to Get It On Again” that trig- gered this detour. Not the most applicable example for me--definitely underneath that umbrella of nostalgia, but a song I merely like, rather than love--which would be more along the lines of “A Horse with No Name,” maybe, or one of Chicago’s early hits.) Moving onto a matter completely unrelated, I caught a panel on CBC radio yesterday discussing the new Martha Stewart Sports Illustrated cover. Historically the domain of 20-something supermodels and ex- ceptionally photogenic female athletes (Serena Williams, Anna Kournikova), the 81-year-old Stewart is by far their oldest cover model yet. I tuned in midway, but the basic thrust seemed to be “Nice gesture, thanks for trying, but who cares?” Venerable old print media such as Sports Illustrated is so far below the radar these days, this amounts to little more than a tree-falling-in-the-forest situation. My first reaction was “Well, I know about the Martha Stewart cover, and I’m not exactly plugged into the Twitter/TMZ universe (if those references are out of date, that merely underscores my point), so it must be getting some attention,” but as I thought about how little I keep up with Sports Illustrated these days, it’s hard to argue. I was a faithful subscriber through the second half of the ‘70s, and I continued, through the ‘80s and ‘90s, to collect whatever baseball covers I could at library and yard sales. (I have almost every baseball cover for a period spanning four decades.) There was a time when SI wasn’t just a great sports magazine, it was a bellwether for the culture at large. I still remember their Joe Gilliam cover from 1974: “Pittsburgh’s Black Quarterback” it provocatively declared, immedi- ately making you confront the insanity of that even being something to call attention to. I bet they lost a few hundred subscribers with that issue. I still kept up a little with the online edition as recently as ten years ago--can’t remember his name, but there was a guy who did monthly MVP and Cy Young rundowns I liked to read--but I don’t even do that anymore. It’s not as dead as Spin or George or Collier’s, but its centrality to the sports world would seem to reside in the distant past. Having relegated Sports Illustrated to the dustbin of history--with a certain amount of detectable pleasure, I might add--you know what was next on the agenda? A 10- or 15-minute segment on the new Fast & Furious movie, where the three hosts enthusiastically assured listeners that the series sur- vives for a reason, even invoking the term “folkloric” at one point (while simultaneously acknowledg- ing that, like previous installments, it mostly consists of explosions and crashes). I suddenly wanted to search out the latest issue of Sports Illustrated. Because whatever they’re doing these days, I’m quite sure it’s of more value than the new Fast & Furious film.