May 11, 2009


If we have to give up water-boarding our enemies I have a terrific suggestion for a replacement torture: off-season in the Hamptons.

Bored out of my mind with the windswept eerie nothingness of Sag Harbor village, I tromp around clawing vainly at the shroud of life, looking for fun pursuits.

I overheard (all right, I was actively eaves-dropping) a couple of sots chatting about Tom Clavin, and something about him having recently turned in a manuscript.

I thought, ?OMG, I know that name? who is he? Obviously a writer?. I love writers.?

I accosted the louche loudmouths and begged for an introduction.

The booze brothers easily upped the necessary information and I was off, sprinting home to send an email request to Clavin and beg for time to interview him.

Clavin sounded eager. Too eager, I thought. Something is off. A quick research on the search engines revealed nothing. Stupid search engines, I thought?

So as to best prepare for the encounter I had to ask him what might his book be about?  ?It?s a biography of Roger Maris.?

Who the friggin heck is Roger Maris?

On this topic the search engines spat rapid fire bulk information. A baseball star from the 50s. Further, Maris is of Croatian descent. I am half Serbian and in the spirit of my feuding ancestors I was already abrim with loathing. It is my ancestral duty to hate the sum-byotch.

I care nothing for baseball, or Croats, but I was convinced I?d heard of Thomas J. Clavin so I ignored the fact that Google apparently hadn?t and I pushed on with my play-date.

I arrived at the appointed place at the appointed time. Typical loserville Sag Harbor, I was the only customer in the restaurant. I set up my spiral notebook and a couple of pens to affect the look of the seasoned reporter.

Clavin sauntered in and, after a howdy-doody with the bartender, who he seemed quite familiar with, and the support of a glass of Chardonnay, and a spare glass filled with ice cubes (which he gradually slipped into the wine before taking sips), I began the quiz. ?Why Maris??

??I chose to write about Roger Maris because he was one of our finest athletes, maybe the best, and yet proportionally overlooked. All the better known players were loved for their antics yet here was a man who had a superb record on the field yet was the least lauded off it.  He was a bit of a square?.?

Feigning fascination in Clavin?s every word, I scribbled notes as he spoke, but my tiny mind had wandered off.

??Maris grew up in Minnesota and North Dakota, and he spent his life at odds with his Croatian heritage versus his American citizenship??

My tummy murmured faintly and I began to daydream of the braised short ribs and mashed potatoes this restaurant is famed for. But I?m a professional and I revealed nothing of my cravings, instead cleverly muttering ?ah has? at just the right lulls in Clavin?s delivery.

And on he went.

??Maris was the first person to get chewed up by the press on account of his personal life, rather than his playing abilities. The press hated him and went after him. I think it had something to do with his having no charm??

Then I remembered the superb tiramisu I?d once enjoyed for dinner here. No, no, no, I thought, stay away from fattening food. To clear my head I asked, ?are you against players using steroids??

??Mickey Mantle never took steroids and he was the best player ever.?

?Yeah well, Mantle is dead.? I said, shooting my whole wad of sports trivia knowledge in one blast.

Clavin and the bartender got into a jovial debate on the merits of the signed baseball and the various values of signatures. And just as I debated ordering up a full three course meal, Clavin said he needed to rush home to his manuscript and the revisions his editors had asked for. Tom?s book will be published by Simon & Schuster in the fall.

Later that same evening, back in my rented home, I noticed a business card. I?d seen this card before and paid it little heed. It belonged to the true owner of my temporary domicile. And there it was, in bold it read: Thomas J Clavin, ?writer?. Finally I realized that?s why I recognized Clavin?s name; he?s a friend of my landlady.

Oh well. It was still way better than an evening alone.

Subscribe to Taki’s Magazine for an ad-free experience and help us stand against political correctness.


Sign Up to Receive Our Latest Updates!


Daily updates with TM’s latest