Friday, July 22, 2011


It's been rather weedy and waveless in these parts lately, but Mr. Betty and I took a surf-related scoot (on Mr. B's scooter) way out Bellevue to Rough Point last evening. The road is always longer than I remember it — two or three miles? Which makes sense, I guess, when one considers the length of the Cliff Walk running parallel, on the back side, through the back yards (if you can call them that) of all those cottages ...

Anyway, we pulled into Rough Point (last cottage on the left), stopped to pay a $5 fee to the gatekeeper, and I said to Mr. Betty, "Whoa! This place is hopping!"

There were cars, trucks & scooters everywhere. A few had surfboards on top. It struck me as funny somehow, seeing a fins-up vehicle at the front door of Rough Point, even though I know, by way of the current exhibit, that heiress/philanthropist Doris Duke was a surfer ...

We didn't see any people, though — nary a soul — 'til we'd gone through the door and proceeded toward the patio. Again, WHOA. It's like the whole world was there: all ages & sizes, all manner of dress. Granted it was so foggy that the water (that view!) was invisible, as if it didn't even exist (you know that effect?), which in a funny way made the colorful scene even more colorful. One had no choice but to keep eyes to the ground, where hundreds of surfboards — again, all ages & sizes — comprising "Doris Duke's Surf Fest" outlined the contoured gardens and contoured lawn, rocky and rolling toward the hard-to-see sea ...

In that big back yard, we saw LOTS of people (700+ I heard later): some we knew, more we didn't, a few we wished we knew ... like Sid Abruzzi of Water Brothers fame who'd worked hand-in-hand with Rough Point to draw the collection of surfboards and adoring crowd. Sid's the whole package — surfs, skates, plays rock n' roll. Is that why he's called "The Package"?? I've always wondered about that but never focused on it or much else long & hard enough to find an answer, and this foggy occasion (replete with plenty of Newport Storm) was no exception ...

But my image/impression of the whole scene? The one-ness of past & present, history & novelty, young & old (or just older), surfers & surfboards and the whole wide world of wave worship in general?

Let's just say I may take up surfing ...

Sunday, July 10, 2011


What to say other than it was a weekend of tennis ... and concerts and parties and sailing and bike riding and beaching and kite flying and glorious weather and totally non-stop fun.

I found time for only about half those activities, of course, but town was hopping with folks engaged in more stuff than I could keep track of (or keep up with). Blink and you'll miss something. Everything. That's how it feels in Newport about now, in the whirlwind of July.

The big name in town was Andre Agassi; he became a Hall of Famer. But the other players — vying for the Van Alen Cup in the only professional tournament on grass in the U.S. at the International Tennis Hall of Fame — were noteworthy, too. I happened to see Yani beat Kudla Friday afternoon. I also happened to see Isner, standing tall (at 6'9") and the ultimate winner, walking with racquet-laden backpack down that shady stretch of Memorial Boulevard toward the finals Sunday morning.

Saturday's induction ceremony was a parade of speakers and colorful dignitaries. At the last minute, Mr. Betty & I were handed a couple of tickets for a couple of hot (hot!) seats in the South Stands where we watched Steffi Graf & the kids in turn watching Daddy receive his honor and give a sweet speech.

"Thank you, tennis, for my life; thank you, tennis, for my wife" has a nifty ring to it (don't you think?).

And the bit about "the language of tennis is the language of life" really got me: "service, advantage, break, fault, love."

It was sweet, too, that Agassi shared the spotlight with a couple of kids from Agassi Prep, the charter school he founded in Las Vegas. One gave the intro; another sang the national anthem. Fans in all manner of hats could be seen crying, clapping, flapping — like I said, it was hot. Agassi couldn't get out of his formal attire fast enough. No sooner was it over than he was in a t-shirt walking away with that familiar Agassi gait over grass courts that have been stood/trod/played upon by so many tennis greats over the years.

Oh, and the presentation by women's great Peachy Kellmeyer, 2011's other new Hall of Famer, was sweet (peachy?), too.

My favorite moment of the whole weekend was an unexpected one, though — isn't that always the way? It was Friday afternoon, and I was headed home from the grocery store. I had a full-to-the-point-of-overstuffed bag in one hand and a gallon of OJ in the other and had stopped to chat for a sec with a friend and her daughter and the owner of The Linen Shop just outside the Casino entrance on Bellevue. Suddenly the crowd started buzzing and pointing and digging out cameras and jockeying for position and there was Agassi, working his way toward a waiting SUV. Poor guy could hardly get there with everyone trying to talk to him, get close to him, grab a photo, maybe even an autograph ... including The Linen Shop owner, who ran inside to get a pillow (a pillow!) for Andre to sign.

It's now in her display window for all to see, enjoy, remember ...

In order of appearance: unidentified onlooker in Hall of Fame hat; first-time semi-finalist Yani; just-missed semi-finalist Kudla; finalist Rochas with interviewer; 2011 Van Alen Cup winner Isner (the tall one); Mr. Betty; Steffi Graf & the fam; Andre with Bud Collins (orange pants and red shoes), Pam Shriver, Rosie Casals and others looking on; Agassi Prep student/speaker Simone Ruffin; Steffi again; Bud Collins again; Peachy Kellmeyer; signature hat; Andre fan (fanning); Andre's fist pump; Andre's gait; historic lights & hovering helicopter; signature pillow; official ATP balls on grass; another unidentified onlooker; Agassi Prep student/anthemist A.J. Greene.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

red, white & blue

At some point over the weekend — perhaps yesterday when I headed down to Washington Square to partake of assorted patriotic festivities — I found myself thinking about red, white & blue. Not what it stands for so much, but that it's everywhere. Together and separately. The colors, plain & simple. Along with plenty of other colors, of course.

And that made me think about a couple of colorful exchanges I'd overheard the day before ...

Super Son was home from the Big City (named for a red fruit) with Super Girlfriend and Super Roommate in tow; other familiar faces from high school & college kept showing up as the long, wonderful, largely-blue-sky weekend wore on. At one point, the whole gang was standing around outside gearing up for their next activity — a bike ride to Second Beach — which required a certain amount of effort, as the collection of spare bicycles in the basement were suffering from varying degrees of soft, squishy & downright flat tires.

Remember when stepping on the backs of someone's sneakers in grade school resulted in a "flat tire"?

Anyway, there was Super Roommate (in green flip-flops) getting ribbed by one of Super Son's high school friends (in red, white & blue Nikes). The latter said, "I'm going to have to wear sunglasses to hang out with you."

I.e., Super Roommate wasn't sporting much of a tan.
His response was quick, however: "Zip it, Red Beard."

Meanwhile, Super Son was getting a workout pumping up tires while Super Girlfriend looked on. Both were in Rainbows — sweet!

And then later, as diverse members of the pink (by virtue of sunburn) crowd gathered in the kitchen, Super Girlfriend and Super Roommate were eating goldfish in creative fashion and comparing notes on how it's done.

"This is how you catch a goldfish," said Super Girlfriend to Super Roommate, as little orange crackers flew back & forth across the room.

No idea what I'm driving at: just that "red, white & blue" as well as "red," "white" and "blue" carry with them lots of baggage. Red hair is actually orange (isn't it?). Goldfish are orange, too. And none of it matters, really. Except, in fact, it does ...

Just for the record: the smiling goldfish really was sitting there on the rocky shore. No posing involved. Seriously.