I have watched tennis matches over the years though tennis is not one of my favorite sports, not by a longshot. When I was coming up in this world, tennis was considered a country club sport, kind of like golf, except if you come from Texas, golf is an accepted sports alternative because of the public links all over Texas, "munis" they were called, municipal golf courses. Yes, there were tennis courts in my hometown, but only the swellest of girls played it; Althea Gibson was from my part of the world; we also had a brother and sister who went on to play championship tennis--a little fame for a little while. But golfers. We had all kinds of pro golfers living around us--the Maxwell Brothers, Billy and Bobby, were from my hometown. Besides I had an older cousin who was the Texas Publinks champion one year; and a guy I worked with was the city golf champion for several years in a row--but he was rich as hell--but then out in the West Texas town of where I'm from a lot of your friends could be millionaires's kids--thanks to oil, the nouveau riche were thick as hops out there; the richest of them had tennis courts in their yards. The rich kids, yes, all played at the country club while the poor kids worked their asses off learning golf on the muni course.
I don't usually watch tennis, but tonight the US Open women's final was played in prime time and though I cared nothing at all about this match, I got to watching this Sharapova woman--and she is cleaning the clock of this Justine Henin-Hardine, the really hot top tennis player going these days--who's only 5' 6"--a petite Belgian. Whereas this Sharapova babe...holy smoke, she's 6' 3"--can you imagine?--a giant of a woman. She looks as though she'd be clumsy as hell at that height, but, shit, she's, like I said, cleaning Henin-Hardine's clock right now with just pure tall-woman power. Surely they need to extend the court boundaries these babes are hitting the ball so hard so high and so swiftly ducking down to just touch a chalk line, except now they use electronic fault lines, don't they?
I caught myself so fascinated by this tall Siberian woman, actually she's lived in Bradenton, Florida, since she was 9--in fact, all the Russkie tennis babes come here to the US of A to learn their tennis down in Bradenton, which is just down the road from Sarasota where the circus used to winter. Are circuses a thing of the past now? I haven't been to a circus since a girlfriend of mine had a 4-year-old kid and I took him to a cornball jerky circus up near Woodstock, New York. It was a pretty piss-poor excuse for a circus though the kid seemed to get really itchy and jumpy during the little-big moments of its pathetic effort. I have never been to a big circus shebang, like the Ringling Bros., Barnum & Baily outfit, though a friend of mine with a daughter used to have to go every year and I remember how he used to joke about how horrible it was and how expensive and rip-off everything was. It's held in Madison Square Garden up here in NYC every year. The only cool thing to me about the circus up here is that they march the circus animals into Manhattan from a Queens railyard every year early in the morning--elephants and other animals clopping and thundering, snorting and evacuating through the early morning streets of old Gotham. That's kind of nicely old-fashioned to me; the way Barnum would have loved it.
Everything's a circus these days one can assume.
Tennis is an individualist game. Golf, too. I feel like being an individualist is really the only way to make it in the many divisions of the game of life. I want my individualism; I treasure it; it's me, the real me. As a team player, I'm no good; I'm too selfish; I'm too self-centered; I'm too set in my individual ways.
And individualism has such a bad name, too. I was reading that conservative theocrats consider individualism to be a narrow and negative philosophy "glorifying self-interest and the individual's conscience and rights; liberalism in politics; anarchy and exploitation in the economic sphere; and unbounded egoism everywhere." Sounds good to me. Glorifying self-interest. I don't believe in a conscience--a solar plexus, yes; a solar plexus of my very own, with rights dammit. Yes, I'm liberal in politics, liberal in my own individualistic way. Anarchy? Pure anarchy is being able to exist totally on your own. Exploitation in the economic sphere? Isn't that the game in that sphere. And egoism. My God, movie and rock stars have the biggest egos ever and they are so well-known individually. So the richer you get, the more individualism you promote. Look at Donald Trump, trumping up his own trumped up trumpeting, blowing his own riffs to the tunes of his own dreams.
In Germany, it became Individualitat, a romantic individuality. Georg Simmel, a Jewish lad who after his parents died while he was a child was adopted by a wealthy friend of his family who raised Georg as a Catholic. Simmel went on to found the German Society for Sociology. Yep, he was a sociologist and he and Ferdinand Tonnies and Max Weber put Germany on the map as a center of innovative sociological thinking. Remember, Germany was a Socialist country in those post-WWI days, very progressive in the arts, theater, and in the humanities--very nice and free, especially in Berlin then, until darling little Hitler came along with his own Socialist ideas.
I studied sociology in college; I wrote my Master's thesis on Georg Simmel and his individualism ideas. Simmel believed working life was negative to workers's trying to function as workers. He saw the 19th century as the century of worker specialization--"individualist" workers. Specialization makes 1 worker incomparable to another. Simmel felt individualism in the workplace was indespensible to the "highest possible extent." Specialization, Simmel said, led to a new metropolitan type individual" who undermines "community culture."
It is Saturday night. I'm tired as a Georgia mule after a full day of ploughing. Today I worked on a new interest, collecting sheet music of American composers, which started with my recent immersing myself studiously in the life of Charles Ives, who I've determined is America's greatest music composer, unique in world music history, an individualist in his own world of his own music--selfish, yes; self-centered, oh hell yeah; exploitation of an economic sphere, yep, Ives was a big shot in the insurance industry. I'm also writing a book on a people of Central Asia who nobody but numismatists know anything about, the people of Chach, silver miners and silvermakers. They were so individualistic, they were the only tribe in this area to fight off the invading Islamic hordes successfully, for a while at least, though these hordes later recharged those folk and sent them packing and then decimated their existence from the face of the earth--except for their coins. Chach was near present-day Uzbekistan city of Tashkent--Chach was just northeast of the ancient metropolis of Samarkand. Samarkand, to me, is one of the most interesting and unusual cities in the world--it's intriguingly beautiful, too, I'm told.
I have collected Cachean coins for years and have a pretty nice collection. There is really no history of these people except in their coins, of which there are several varieties commemorating several kings. Most of these coins were unearthed and authenticated by Soviet numismatists, especially a man named E. Rtveladze, whose book The Ancient Coins of Central Asia is the handbook for us Chach collectors. Collecting Chach coins is an individual passion of mine.
Individual passions are what keep me going; my individual passions are my vitamins.
for The Daily Growler