If anybody else had introduced me to short wave and to code, CW, I’d have said, “Aw, come on. What’re you talking about?” But because this guy played basketball (In Indiana, incidentally, basketball not only is a major religion, it is the major religion. All others sort of fade off down into the distance—Baptist, Catholic, and of that religion I can only say that there are people who are major priests of that religion). A recognized center is like a bishop—he’s near the Pope. The next ones are forwards. Forwards have a certain romantic quality about them. Then there is the guard, who, to me, is the most romantic of basketball players. He generally brings it up from the back court and sets the play. So here was Laurence, a recognized comer, man. He was a top freshman forward and was going to be in varsity next year. He was already approaching the god-status as a freshman.
The fact that he sat there and he talked on the radio—with code—knocked me out of the box. So I began to get into this thing. And it began to obsess me. I must say I understand religious fanatics. Once you’ve been a fanatic, you can understand a fanatic. You can’t talk a fanatic out of being a fanatic. There’s no conceivable way. It envelops you.
MUCH MORE HAM TO BE SERVED!
Sculpted Landscapes—Golf Links
An unexpected pleasure for me, is my recent discovery of a special kind of golf course called “links.” Most courses seemed designed by bulldozing most of the landscape and smoothing it out for well-mowed grass of “fairway” and “green,” the natural “roughs” only allowed to survive along the edges, where golfers fear to go.
(Nature ground down and
mowed into a green-striped cloth-imitation.)
But a special kind of course, based in Scotland, the land that created golf, is situated between arable land and sea—the link between them where (because of the sandy nature of the earth there, I believe) crops won’t easily grow.
Thus, the design accommodates itself into these primitive-appearing landscapes where groomed grass becomes an integrated part of the rough and nearly untouched primeval growth. There is an accommodation, a fusion between Mother Nature and Man’s Hand. The land, even the grass-covered part, is irregular, crude nature not altogether subdued. The wind is strong, the carved out sand traps reinforced like ancient fortifications to prevent them from sifting away into themselves.
Golfers of all skill-levels, from beginners to top professionals, tend to find these playing fields recalcitrant because of their unexpected, inhospitably dystopian incivility. On the rare occasions when I watch on television, it’s not to see the play, it’s to admire the designer elegantly working with–and not against–nature. The British Open is played on links. It’s a joint activity played in a creation where expert humans interact with a stylized, slightly rough-hewn, and robustly alive nature.
(I’ve never in my life played golf.)