Of all the baseball stadiums built in the 2nd half of the last century, Dodger Stadium probably inspires the fondest memories. Unless of course, your house was knocked down to make way. Or, you’re not into baseball. The New Yorker’s Nick Paumgarten spoke to Ry Cooder (above) in last week’s issue about the latter’s new song-cycle album ‘Chavez Ravine’.
The levelling of ChÃ¡vez Ravine was, in the beginning, well-intentioned, if misguided. It was supposed to clear the way for housing projects, but the city basically gave the land to Walter O™Malley instead, and soon the Ravine™s former residents were referring to the locations of their old homes according to the geography of the ballpark: right field, third base, bullpen.
œSomebody™s taken something from you, they give you something back, Cooder said. One of the things that get taken, he added, is œthe music that comes from this way of life”pachuco swing, and rhythm and blues, and jazz”and the things people do because they have a taste and a talent for it. There is no talent involved in buying big cheeseburgers and big Cokes, going to the mall.
œWhat do you need another mall for? he went on. œIn L.A., that™s all they ever have built. They cut up the Brown Derby. They cut up all those restaurants that looked like funny things, like pigs or hot dogs. They tear down every coffee shop they can find. You talk about heritage, man, it was there. They find a bowling alley, chop it down. Interesting old apartment house, chop it down. Then they give back stuff with zero content, buildings with no past, a useless present, and no future at all. Where nobody is going to get together, where no memories will be created or associations made, or good times. They will simply be directing you into the act of taking your credit card out of your wallet, with that glazed look on your face. So, you see, I™m not a fan of that. You can put the stadium into that category. Some may argue and say no, the stadium™s for fun and it™s a social place and you get together and eat hot dogs”I don™t know what you do in a stadium, because I never go, see.
He wasn™t sure whether this critique would travel. œNew York is a whole different environment, he said. œAnd I™m not a sports fan, you know. I don™t even like crowds. They make me nervous. I like quiet.