“The vulgarity of too-muchness”

In Pet Peeves on May 3, 2009 at 10:49 am

Was at the ballpark on Wednesday for a Giants – Padres matinee.  What a beautiful day for a ballgame. Weather was sunny and about 70 degrees as the Giants took the field. Although I used to prefer night games, I have really come to enjoy day games now . There is a guilty pleasure one gets watching a ballgame in the sun with a cold beer ( even if it is a $9.00 beer) while others are locked ( metaphorically) in their cubicles somewhere.  And easy for me to do these days since, like millions of Americans, I was laid off a couple of months ago.

We took the BART and walked to the park from the Embarcadero station. As usual we stopped by the Bayside Deli to pick up a sandwich. Beats paying $ 10.00 for a “gourmet” hot dog inside the stadium. Those hot dogs are as grotesque as a Reubenesque woman. The last time I had one it was so soggy – because of all the junk the concessionaire loaded on it – that I had to throw it away after a bite or two ( just like that $ 10.00 down the toilet. that is a beer and $1.00 in change mind you ! )

It being Earth Day, the Giants were giving out re-usable shopping bags to the first 20,000 fans.  It seems like every time you go to the ballpark these days you get something. Among the Giants promotional events this year are:

Star Trek night (I kid you not)
Singles night
Legal Professionals night (these are bascially the only people who can still afford to go to a game )
LGBT night ( I don’t think this would go over well at Crosley Field )
Indian Heritage night
Irish Heritage night
Chinese Heritage night
Jewish Heritage night

and the list goes on and on and on.

Thinking about all this,  I am reminded of a remark the art critic Sir Kenneth Clark made about a painting by an old Dutch master Pieter de Hooch.  De Hooch’s style had changed over the years and his later paintings were much more “opulent” in their detail according to Clark who referred to this aesthetic as “the vulgarity of too muchness.” In another essay,  Clark wrote that splendour is dehumanizing, and a certain sense of limitation seems to be a condition of what we call good taste. In other words what the Giants and probably most of the other MLB teams are doing by giving away all this junk – and that is all it really is – is not in good taste.

Contrast this to the “old days” when teams had just a few promotions a year . With the Giants it was Bat Day, Ball Day, Cap Day, Helmet Day, T-Shirt Day and Fan Appreciation Day, usually the last home game of the year. Five promotional days a year and that was it. When you got your pocket schedule from the gas station at the beginning of the year , the first thing you did was to look to see when bat day was. Of course, they no longer have Bat Day. It is now “Kids Bat and Ball Set Day.”  And as you can guess from this description, you no longer get a real Hillerich and Bradsby signature model just  a cheap wiffle ball set.  

But in the meantime the cost of beer goes up. Go figure…


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