I am not an artist. But I play one in my mind.
You see, like many other people who love Radiohead and Michael Gondry movies, I think I’m far more artistic than I actually am. This explains why I spent so much time in jazz clubs in my high school days wondering if I should buy myself a beret. I was trying (and failing) to be artsy because I consciously wanted others to think I was. But all that produced were terrible ideas like growing mutton chops.
Which brings me to The Summer King, a new opera written by composer Daniel Sonenberg about the life and death of Josh Gibson. Yes. You read me correctly. THE Josh Gibson. The man who is regarded as the best power hitter to have never stepped foot on a Major League field (although I’m sure there are many Sadaharu Oh fans out there). Perhaps the only man who can challenge Johnny Bench’s reputation as the best catcher to have ever played the game. The man who led the Negro Leagues in homeruns in 1943 with 22, which is more than his three closest competitors in that category combined, and had a .449 batting average to boot. THAT Josh Gibson. They’ve made an opera about him. Fifty years after he died of a heart attack. They’re going to make him sing opera.
Well, actually, an actor portraying him, but that’s still pretty bad.
Now I understand that Mr. Sonenberg thinks he’s being creative by mixing baseball and opera. Just like the guy who thought that modern dance and Edward Scissorhands were a match made in heaven. But need I remind you, sir, that sports and music just do not mix? Do I need to play you the Super Bowl Shuffle? Have you heard Bronson Arroyo sing? Have you seen High School Musical (well, neither have I, but this video clip is enough)?
So in the name of all things sane, I plead with you. Do not ruin my image of Josh Gibson*.
*Which actually happens to be a man who looks eerily similar to Mykelti “Bubba Gump” Williamson.