The Corner


Trash Talk, Better Talk

Arnold Palmer (left) and Lee Trevino in Houston, Texas, in 2006, when Palmer announced his retirement from competitive golf (Tim Johnson / Reuters)

Those two guys up there? Palmer and Trevino? I’ll get to them in a minute. I have an Impromptus column today, and it begins with Cuba. On his morning show earlier this week, Joe Scarborough asked me a good question: If the current pressure of the U.S. government on the Cuban dictatorship doesn’t work, what do we do then? I gave a decent answer, I think. (Mainly: Make Cuba an issue, a moral cause.) But the truth is, many of us have overestimated the ability of the United States to affect the situation in Cuba. This is a hard pill to swallow. Americans have been swallowing it since Eisenhower.

Anyway, I touch on this and other Cuba matters today. I also take up China, Russia, Afghanistan, the Republican Party, Edwin Edwards, etc. I end with a note on a D-Day vet who passed away about two weeks ago. Henry Parham died at 99, on the Fourth of July.

Furthermore, I have a Q&A podcast with the incomparable Kevin D. Williamson. We have a leisurely conversation, but with some stringency in it, too. Among our subjects: crime, inflation, populism, Reaganism, abortion, the National Security Agency, Richard Branson, and Bach.

Speaking of Bach: My latest music podcast — Music for a While — is headed “Bach and Bach-ish.” Some enjoyable stuff, especially if you’re seeking a break away from politics, or whatever else weighs down.

A little mail? Let’s do the subjects of golf and music (not together but separately). In an Impromptus last week, I noted that “trash talk” had come to golf. “Oh, joy,” I said, sarcastically. “In America, the trend is ever downward, it seems — in all spheres.”

A reader writes,

Years ago, there was a skins game with Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player. It was fun to watch. There was no trash talk. I think one of the best lines came from Lee Trevino. Arnie had a beautiful drive and Lee said, “Who do you think you are, Arnold Palmer?”

I occasionally borrow a line from Chi Chi Rodriguez. After Palmer really nailed one, Chi Chi said, “Arnold, I don’t know how the ball can take it.”

Okay, there was some confusion on readers’ part — and listeners’ part — about classical music. Or Classical music. That “c,” big or little, makes a big difference. What is “classical music”? It is all the music — art music, you might say, or non–pop music — written from, oh, the days of Gregorian chant through yesterday. Vivaldi is classical music. Chopin is classical music. John Cage is classical music. All the music in the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern periods is classical music.

But “Classical music”? Ah, that’s the period: Haydn, Mozart, (earlyish) Beethoven, and them boys.

Does that help at all?

My Q&A podcast begins and ends with music from the last movement of the Symphony No. 5 in B flat, Op. 55, by Alexander Glazunov. That symphony is nicknamed the “Heroic.” A reader writes,

I just heard this symphony online, Jay. The performance, especially the last movement, was flaccid, compared with what I’m used to hearing on Q&A. My thought: If you can, mention the performers so listeners have a chance of hearing their rousing performance.

Yes, indeed. There’s just one performance of the Glazunov Fifth, as far as I’m concerned. No other is like it. I’m talking about José Serebrier, the estimable Uruguayan, conducting the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Go here.

Hardly anything more stirring.

Thanks to all correspondents, and all readers and listeners. Again, for today’s Impromptus, go here.


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