Big Sex • August 16th, 2020
BROOKLYN - Hope you like chili.
A couple months ago, during a Zoom prayer group session (pregnant with desperate discourse; among our best work) slash YFS chorus rehearsal (a little pitchy; Secret Agent sorely missed), the Shepherd reported to the cabal that he’d been reading Zevon’s biography, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon, bravely edited by Zevon’s ex-wife, Crystal Zevon. We discussed the pros and cons of heroin. How little we really knew about Zevon the man. Shep pointed out a memorable portion of the book devoted to Zevon’s “quasi-bad chile recipe”, made often and perfected for party guests, lay-abouts, acolytes, and hangers-on in the 70s. Unwilling to let anyone else talk for long, I made another show of taking my shirt off.
The next morning I left some impatient demands in the Shepherd family fax machines. I had to have it. “Pls send the *ucking recipe, Shep;” I scrawled on the last sheet, regretting that my tone couldn’t be heard aloud, but not the result — Prof. Shepherd sent it right over, and I cauldroned up a pot of Zevon’s chili that night. And hoooooooooo-WEE! Even better the next day.
Before the weekly tilt a few Sundays ago, egged on by the Mothership, I slow-brewed up another batch of the heat meat for the second time — this time really makin’ my ass smoke.
So pop some Zevon into the 8-track of that cursed god damn Volkswagen Bug, give the poor girl a jump, turn it up, and learn somethin’ — you never know you might have to cook for twenty guys some day.
Well, I woke up that Sunday morning in the hull of a Quebec City-based tugboat called the Jennifer Connelly that we’ve quarantined on since March, and I was dry as a coal fire, mad also as a coal fire. “Fuck you, Earth,” I talked, squinting at the calendar the tugboat’s boatswain etches into the Jennifer Connelly’s welded-up gunhole panels every night at midnight, remembering that I promised Soy I’d make chili this morning. I withdrew the Zevon recipe out from under my Coast Guard surplus cot and convinced the boatswain, a real card and a Zevon apologist, to dock up at Hunts Point so I could shop for ingredients.Jeysus. Warren Zevon likes it hot, as, Hades. You’ll find the recipe photographed below with my adjustments, made due to equipment size restrictions, availability of produce, and an unhinged urgency for control. e.g. Mr. Bad Example calls for twice as much meat and beans as can fit in the gimbaled maritime slow cooker I’ve been borrowing from the boatswain, so if you’ve got a bigger rig, meat it up and beans it up as Zevon directed. And as much as I like suet, you don’t want to bring that odorous shit on a tugboat, so Ms. Sexy and I have been on a suet cleanse this year. But don’t worry: the real star of Zevon’s recipe is his handwritten addition of bad chorizo — get it pre-fully-cooked, bright orange, the cheap stuff (you might elect to skim a bit of the resulting orange oil from the top about four and a half hours in; maybe save it for your fuckin’ cocktails) — and Worcestershire to the meat, with a dash of Soy Peligroso-brand soy sauce. Rather than dumping in tomato sauce and a tomato, I prefer a little tomato paste and, as in my perverted queso dip recipe, Rotel diced canned tomatoes. I don’t go in for mesa flour here, instead opting to include some bean juice from the cans as a thickening reagent, one of many hydrodynamic paradoxes provided in this article. Notwithstanding, as we’re told by an important poet,† you can never make it too wet, but it is possible to put in too much meat. Please note that me and Zevon can’t be brought to hear your opinions on cooking. More often than not I microwave hot dogs. And I urge you to acknowledge that like many endeavors worth pursuing, toxic masculinity pervades chili culture — you know what, look. Fuck us, we’re beyond saving. Believe it.
I placed the lid on the slow brewer and peered out the circular porthole window at pouring rain, the sky wrong like Golgotha. “You’re not still going, are you?” the boatswain roared with laughter. “Gonna be a witch pisser, at best,” she added, borrowing a phrase from the Diamond’s phrasebook.
You didn’t have to be a tugboat boatswain to see that. Fuckin’ Rizz and Surge. You know what, I told these fucking shirts it would be dry and 70s yesterday. Ever heard of a fucking forecast? Sardonic had been my text to Solo Shot the night before, “hoping” that “if” we did play Sunday, it’d be a repeat of the sleety, 38-degrees Fahrenheit, gloopy corn flakes of a Mayday we had on Mother’s Day 2019 — another ill-conceived, BP-oil-spill flavored afternoon; like a ten-year-old farmboy’s birthday party in the Dust Bowl, or a gutting-the-EPA themed wedding at the White House, or like, uh, like the dinner conversation a mental health professional’s family has every time a Chicago or Philly public school is rezoned into lofts or axe-throwing range breweries; like a regular night for Crystal Zevon.
The boatswain handed me two Morse readings that the Jennifer Connelly’s cockpit just received from YFS brass — game on, “rain or shine”, Solo Shot confirmed, while the Mechanic praised the “good ole fashioned pissfest” we were bound to have. When would I get back? inquired Ms. Sexy. “Oh, it shouldn’t be too long, I’m just going to go kill Rizz [...],” I said. “After that there won’t be that much for me to do there.”
Funds for the Brooklyn Mothership Bubble dried up in the planning stages — the committee’s designs to ride the year out at the Krispy Kreme-Cheesecake Factory CineBistro & Conference Center compound on Roosevelt Island’s cat burial grounds didn’t pan out. But after June, Putin cut the locks at York Field, and everybody has been decently careful out there since belated Opening Day. Foot traffic, spitting, and breathing have trended down. Could be, will be, far worse. We played quietly twice a week these past six-seven weeks, faithfully fielding a ripe eight-ten per outing. Hot Dog was here a while.
The boatswain flipped the present-tense switch and says she’ll drop me ashore, slapping fake decals over the boat’s identifying numbers. Since the Jennifer Connelly’s got a couple warrants and she ain’t exactly up to diesel emissions code (she’s hiding out in Honduras this winter -- the heat is coming for Canadian tugboats), we slip around the police kayaks so I can disembark at the Navy Yard. I slide my cell phone into a condom to keep ’er dry.
It’s been raining all god d. day already, but as I stroll into York Field, there are more players out here than we’ve had all summer.
I spot a new fellow wearing a “Tinseltown Fun Boys” hat who’s tying a tarp down with Fart Hoops, and I guess that this must be Raw Dog or one of those other Jim Morrison-loving, car insurance-having, sunglass-owning, LA parentheses that Dom the Deal and Katfish consort with out there (i.e. Climbing Gym, Urinal Puck, the Golf Channel, Edward Furlong, the Great Aunt, Garden Party, My Court Shirt, Jessica, Doggy Paddle, Privilege, the Booby Trap, AJ Soprano, Karl Feathers, Emotional Support Cog, Deadpan a.k.a. Bedpan, Poossy! I’m Home, the Pope of Silver Lake, Undercarriage, Todd, Rookie Post-Hipster, Matthew Broderick, I don’t know have you Checked my Ass?, White Guy/Bolo Tie, Redhead Potemkin, Cover Your Face Or My Wife Here Will Cut Off Your Fucking Arm Yeah Definitely Talking To You Pal, Fratty Cake, Your Mother’s Husband, Porterhouse Music, Peenis, the Garden Gnome — one of those dipshits). But nope, turns out this fellow just borrowed the hat from Fart Cop: this here is Gordon, a cousin from up the coast, and he has come to hit the ball. The Black team decides to bat the newcomer last (a mistake rectified in game 2), but Rookie Gordon is the first slugger to hit the ball hard today, achieving a low frozen rope to center: his first of many bases. And after that, fucking everybody hit, in consistent rain — better than the last few dry weeks — continuing with a couple trips high on the wall for the Reds. Can’t recall more near-miss almost-dongs denied by the Twizzler apparatus in a single day.
“What’s’a matter Sex, you don’t like the wet ones Sex?” Surge asks, watching me spin the moisture out of the balls on the mound and rotate them through my dryer pocket. “I mean, I’d prefer it if they weren’t sooooo wet,” I offer. We commence to argue the physics. He says the Mechanic’s recent high-flyin’ triple was almost on the BQE because it was heavier. I theorize that uh no, a soppin’ fuzzball is tougher to hit good although it can be more like a changeup for outfielders. How so, inquires Surge. Well it doesn’t carry, I say, it drops toward the ground earlier than the defense might expect. Surge hypothesizes that the weight of a wet ball carries it further, furthermore that it has less drag. As play continues I continue to debate alone under the wall, practicing comebacks into my mask to myself out in left center field. “It ain’t the way I thought about it!—” I blurt back to Surgeon at shortstop, unable to help sounding like Fredo, leading Sheppy and me to trade John Cazale impressions again. And we laugh and laugh.
I have since paged Sugar (D$$, until recently on loan to Rose City; not to be confused with J. Cole & the Sugardoll 5) at his New Orleans studio and asked him to weigh in on the subject:
“Yea I’ve thought about this [...],” Sugar responded, shortly before press time, “you're both right. The changeup effect for the fielders can be explained by the way momentum is a function of mass, the smiling soggy ball, being rapidly accelerated, wants to (has to?) shed its held water (think about the ball becoming a wet dog). As it does this, the mass is reduced and the effect of air resistance increases, causing a duck+ shotgun type trajectory alteration. Can be very hard to catch. This is why duck people have retrievers… The ‘it carries further’ idea is also valid. This is the thinking behind the John Candy character in Cool Runnings cheating and dishonoring himself, the sport of bobsleigh, and ending up (however conveniently for my childhood) in a snowless country like Jamaica. He put weights in his sled. This is also a momentum thing but is easier explained by the old fave F=MA, the force of heavier things will push resisting air out the way more, making it slow down more slowly and thus carry further. We could get into laminar vs. turbulent flow & how the surface of the ball interacting with the air changes things, but this isn't All Things Considered [...].”
Lot of schools of thought. “Is that one wet?” 8-Ball pressures me, making a face at the tennis ball I was about to pitch to him. “No, no,” I say, “I’m going to make it so dry for you, 8-Ball.”
So like I said, hits across the board in game 1, but nobody pieces nothing together until the 5th inning — the Red boys hit triple triple triple bomb bomb triple triple, before the Black squad even records an out. The Red boners pull ahead, 6-1.
“I always think Sascha’s up because he’s always on deck,” remarks Meat Cop, referring to the Redshirt Rookie in the winsome Rickey Henderson jersey, who is taking picturesque practice cuts ad infinitum. “Yep. ODC,” Shep pitches, suggesting a name for the On-Deck Circle king. Reached for comment days later, Drunk Tank would imply that Sascha would owe a dollar for each practice swing, 50 cents for a half swing. But, to whom? Can we gripe over the rituals of a man who rakes 42 highway missiles in this infernal god damned half season, who would get rid of six Penns in the leaking fucking rain by day’s end? Yeah, oh for sure, but even I have far more offensive idiosyncrasies. He’s the story of the year, having blasted out of IL like Evel Knievel during the offseason, healed by medicine. Not one of my 2020 thong dongs has been hit as hard as Sascha’s worst.
In the 7th, I’m considering this and my then-poor grasp of liquid and solid physical properties (Sugar’s burofax had not reached me yet) in the batter’s box when an extra big ol’ raindrop falls on my bat for luck. I lift the Sex Bat to my mask and sieve the droplet into my hidden mustache. Somebody swords on a slider and tumbles to the slick concrete — it’s J. Cole, having an otherwise splendid day at the plate. Today’s the day we work on hitting mechanics, we posit. 60%. 40%. No swinging for the fences. Surge agrees. Best try not to even take a step in there. The rain stops briefly, and lo, Fart Cop a.k.a. Dazzler lift-offs a silo-escaping home run. Surge pinches off a single. Someone drives him in. Now the Reds’ lead has been cut to one — it’s 6-5.
Sascha loses another one in the bottom of the 7th, and the Reds tack on one more chalky digit in the 8th. But down three runs, Jack jacks a solo dong to lead off the 9th inning, and the Black lineup bangs out a cute rally — 8-Ball and Fart Dolphin lasso a pair o’ triples, Surge burps on base with a bloop-de-doop. The Black Cards count up three runs, and this ballgame is tied, babe.
Drunk Tank leads off the bottom of the 9th with a thriller triple. Surgeon catches a blooper above the box, “lightfoot” Rookie Gordon (“I’ve been sittin’ on that one,” winks the Sheepherder) chases down one of those elusive Rizz a.k.a. Solo Shot right-field would-be the-hard-way triples over his head, and we get outta the inning unscathed, still tied 8-8.
In the top of the 10th, 8-Ball jeets a low-and-awayer to put a person on first. Full of hubris after delivering a hittable pitch, I look around behind the mound and pick the absolute oldest wettest ball for Nerf Cop to smash, imagining shoving that detail into the Reds’ faces after what I presumed would be a very soupy two-run homer — but it hits the very top of the wall, denied. I confess that it’s my fault. “No, I got under it,” the Fart Dazzler swears, a vain attempt to make me feel better. The Surgeon carves out a remarkably similar triple, and I ground out, but we hold ’em in the bottom of the 10th with three loud line drive grabs. The Black Cards take game 1, 11-8.
When I pitch, there’s less time to drink. Taking a minute to myself between games, I’m replacing my tallboy when a voice six feet behind me barks out: “Funny you should ask. I’m having a pickle-bacon-and-cheddar-cheese sandwich. On a muffin! Trader Joe’s...” It’s the Mechanic, proud and holding up a damp looking thing for me to examine, chewing beneath his mask. “The mayo, ah, not so much. Diet mayo, Sex.”I recall something Zevon said close to the end — he’d appeared on The Late Show in 2002, having recently been given months to live, diagnosed with “mesothelioma: the same kind of lung cancer, he dryly noted, that killed Steve McQueen [...]. Now he walked onstage as the band played ‘I'll Sleep When I'm Dead,’ a Zevon song from 1976, and bluntly described his situation. ‘I might have made a tactical error in not going to a physician for 20 years,’ he told Letterman. ‘It’s one of those phobias that didn’t pay off.’ Letterman asked Zevon if his condition had taught him anything about life and death. ‘How much you’re supposed to enjoy every sandwich,’ Zevon answered.” ‡
Hours away from Zevon’s chili, in an effort to enjoy Wrencher’s sandwich too, I laugh blankly before launching into an insufferable 15-min. story about a botched con to acquire a tuxedo for the 2022 awards season.
Somewhere in game 2, I am luxuriating in another pish (for Big Sex it is important to first dry out) when J. Cole shouts my name. I shake my bird and shove it back into my boxers with a sigh, understanding that the Sugardoll 5 must be summoning the Black squad to the lefty batter’s box for our sixth team huddle of the day — attended at greater and greater distances. In the first five iterations of this, we’d exhausted most of the “tits” options, most recently with a rallying cry of “Free tits!” to christen the successful campaign of the last game — we wouldn’t be Americans in 2020 without appropriating feminist rhetoric in a male-saturated arena, dialectically unschooled such as we are, to misquote someone who gave me a C-minus on a redundant paper in which I called Hemingway the c-word. Moving right along, I remember that earlier Surge had pitched yelling “[1, 2, 3,] Free Tibet!” so we now choose that, the crying out of which on Brooklyn soil made me finally feel like a real New Yorker despite my local birth. I deliver a tasteless joke about what happens when you cry “Free Tibet” on Staten Island and haze out the remaining majority of the day’s action. Somehow the Black Cards win game 2, let’s see **checks notes** 17-10, despite a seven-run 7th posted by the Reds.
“Nice shoes,” says Solo Shot, sensing I needed to hear it. Last month on shore leave I clumsily purchased a pair o’ indoor footy shoes I clumsily strategized would track in the rain. I’d disregarded Sugar’s counsel on a mauve pair of Lionel Messis with pronounced rubber cleats intended for artificial turf matches. Did Sugar suppose these cleat nubs were the kind of rubber that’s hard and would slide on concrete and poop dirt, or did he suppose that as I hoped they were ultra soft-compound rubber? “They’re soft,” Sugar attested. “Yea on a dusty field they might be grippier than flats [...] Dusty concrete field [...] They look cooler too [...]”. I wondered if they’d be good for racing in the rain, envisioning a day like today and slipping in the paint of the batter’s box, one of the lower footprints of the field. “The physics says they would help there [, too] [...]” Sugar was patient: “It’s about friction being a function of force, and with a smaller area touching the ground under foot, the force is increased giving more traction.” (I was sold but thereafter chickened out, listening instead to Shepherd, noted indoor fútbol shoe pundit.) “I think you could use physics to make the opposite argument also, but i will refrain..” Sugar concluded:
“PSI. ψ. Pounds per square inch BaBY!!”
Wouldn’t be an American in 2020 if I didn’t willfully ignore scientific argument — I pocketed the advice and bought flatter, less purple shoes that don’t fit.
And avoiding the sweep of the Reds, Stinkmitt walks game 3 off with a signature “Wwwwuh!!” and a glorious wave of the bat — detonating a day-ending bippity-boppity-bomb worthy of the San Diego Padres. The Red friends secure a 10-9 victory in the bottom of the 11th.
We’re out of beers or I’d have already insisted on a fourth game, a habit that has grown controversial for reasons I can’t articulate. Beerless for five minutes, I scream at them all to come get roadies down the hill, where, sucking Wild Turkey through my mask in the middle of Jay Street, I overhear the Mothership regulars nominate this pissfest as the best day in memory. As the tugboat boatswain would repeat over bean slop that night, it should have rained harder and didn’t. Nobody was badly hurt. Everybody hit the ball. Few errors. Near-perfect number of beers and balls — 8-Ball chastised me earlier for pointing out the opposite (actually, the “perfect amount” of suds is: enough to play game 4 and have one for the walk down to 68).
I smell chili.
Surgeon breaks up a sidewalk fight between one of our more zealous fans and some fuckword-saying anti-masker. I make a kissy face no one sees and follow the chili trail down to the pier. Zevon’s heat meat awaits on the Jennifer Connelly. Even better the next day.
The Black squad were: the Shepherd, 8-Ball, Fart Cop, the Surgeon, Big Sexy, J. Cole & the Sugardoll 5, and Rookie Gordon
The Red squad were: Stinkmitt, Soy Peligroso, Redshirt Rookie Sascha, Solo Shot, Drunk Tank, and the Mechanic
G1 - B’s: 10, R’s: 8
G2 - B’s: 17, R’s: 10
G3 - R’s: 10, R’s: 9
HRs: Redshirt Rookie Sascha, 6 (42); The Surgeon, 5 (50); Fart Cop, a.k.a. Dazzler, a.k.a. Meat Dolphin, a.k.a. Nerf Hoops, 3 (40); J. Cole & the Sugardoll Five, 3 (4); Rookie Gordon, 3 (3); Big Sexy, 2 (19); The Mechanic, 2 (11); Solo Shot, 2 (5); Stinkmitt, 1 (2)
--† Measured criticism on the work of another important poet and polymath (take heed: not sarcastic here) — Kristen Stewart (via Sawmill, soon to return from the woods to Brooklyn):
“Innovative writers such as Shakespeare and Stewart have recorded hundreds of neologisms and developed the language in exciting new ways.”
‡ More from that NYT Mag feature, “Warren Zevon’s Last Waltz”:
“[Zevon] had been a constant reader and moviegoer; a conversation with him is peppered with references to Heidegger, Schopenhauer, Graham Greene, Oscar Wilde, Thomas McGuane, Czeslaw Milosz, Martin Scorsese[,] and Krzysztof Kieslowski, along with musical idols from Igor Stravinsky to Paul Simon to Jimmy Webb to Ian and Sylvia.
Now his reading time is limited. He carries a small copy of Rainer Maria Rilke’s ‘Duino Elegies’ with him, because, he says, ‘Rilke seems to write about a universe where everybody’s dead except for a brief shining moment when we're not.’ [Zevon] has also been playing the DVD of [The Maltese Falcon] over and over, he says, ‘to watch Bogie smoke.’
In the back of his mind, Zevon grudgingly admits, he’s wondering about posterity. He’s hoping he’ll be remembered better, he said, than the ‘bad watercolor’ of Humphrey Bogart on the box for the [Maltese Falcon] DVD.”
Correction: Sep. 5, 2020
Mechanic’s bacon, cheddar, and pickle sandwich did not include “diet mayo” but regular mayo, only applied lightly.