Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Suze and the Duke

It is indeed a sad day in Flatbush, and in certain other parts of my receding childhood.

The Duke of Flatbush passed away at age 84. He was my favorite player as a Brooklyn Dodger fan in the 50s, and even as a Met fan in the 60's. He had a unique kind style and grace, and power and speed that he brought to his batting and fielding, and in his attitude on and off the field (at least during the late 40s, and the 50s). He had a regal air about him as he strode and patrolled the green outfield at Ebbets Field. He often was compared to Mays and Mantle in the 50's in the NYC center field sweepstakes, and tended to be the underdog in that comparison.

Unfortunately, when I met him at a baseball card show many years later in the 80's, he seemed a little too money-driven and unfortunately was on his way to tax difficulties, and some "wrong choices." But I will always have my childhood memories of this wonderful ball player.

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Suze Rotolo, will always be remembered for her romantic relationship with Bob Dylan in the 60s and her inspiration to him. But she will be best remembered, in one of the iconic images of the decades, walking arm-in-arm with the Bobster on the cover of the legendary “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.” She died recently at the young age of 67.

In the picture she seemed like the romantic muse for the ages for the creative Mr. Dylan. As Dylan wrote in “Chronicles: Volume 1, “Right from the start I couldn’t take my eyes off her.” “She was the most erotic thing I’d ever seen." "Cupid’s arrow had whistled past my ears before, but this time it hit me in the heart and the weight of it dragged me overboard.”

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of reading her book, “A Freewheelin’ Time: A Memoir of Greenwich Village in the 60s”, and I enjoyed her description of Mr. Dylan as among other things, “oddly old-time looking, charming in a scraggly way.” She also accounted for herself as more than just a walking companion.

Her views on social issues, especially her commitment to the civil rights movement seemed to have a deep and early influence on Mr. Dylan’s writing, along with her interests in theater and the visual arts, which may have opened him up beyond his world of folk music and his self-made image as the Guthrie-esque troubadour.

Her ultimate absence from Mr. Dylan's life was supposed to have inspired “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” “Boots of Spanish Leather” and “Tomorrow Is a Long Time.” She played a key role in inspiring and shaping one of the great songwriters of our time.