Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Spaceman, the Surrealist and me

I'm just back from Tampa - actually. St Petersburg - where I saw the Red Sox lose two games to the Rays. [More on that later]. Before the game Tuesday night, Bill Lee put in an appearance at the Ted Williams Museum at the Trop, helping raise funds for the Museum.

I always loved the Spaceman. He was the original crazy - we always seem to have one on our team - and he was never boring. Since he retired, he's been living up in Vermont, and is still playing in some kind of Senior professional league.

So, I made my way down to the Museum as soon as the Trop opened, and was one of the first in line. Those ahead of me were fawning over him, of course, and I really wanted to say something more meaningful than, you were one of my girlhood idols. So as I approached I noticed he was wearing a sticker on his collar that showed he had visited the Salvador Dali Museum. I went Monday, and was bowled over. No matter what you think of him personally, Dali produced some provocative and challenging works of surreal art. So I said to Bill, "Isn't the Dali Museum wonderful?" He looked up from signing my picture, somewhat startled. He agreed, and went on to tell me that he owned seven of Dali's paintings. He said he hung out with Dali from 1970 to 1978, but stopped when Dali "got really weird." (You'd have to be really screwy for Lee to think you're messed up!) Then he started asking me about some of the specific paintings they have - he mentioned that he loved one called "A Portrait of my Dead Brother," painted in 1963 as a way of exorcising his brother from his mind:

This image doesn't do justice to the biggest element: each one of the dots is a cherry, with black for his brother and red for himself. It seems his brother died before Salvador was born - and had also been named Salvador. From Wikipedia:
When he was five, Dalí was taken to his brother's grave and told by his parents that he was his brother's reincarnation, which he came to believe. Of his brother, Dalí said: "… [we] resembled each other like two drops of water, but we had different reflections." He "was probably a first version of myself but conceived too much in the absolute.
I agreed that the painting was interesting, but told him my favorite was "The Hallucinogenic Toreador":
which is far too complex to get into here. I think he was kind of surprised I could reel off another painting!

At this point, the handlers were kind of poking Lee, urging him to wrap it up and sign some more. So I thanked him, and got someone to snap the above photo.

So, most come away from a signing with an autograph and some pithy words. I discussed Surrealism with the Spaceman! Who would have ever guessed that he would like Surrealism? :)

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Blogger Ted D said...

Beth, that is fantastic you met The Spaceman! I loved the documentary NESN showed on him a while back about playing baseball in Cuba.

7:38 PM  

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