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Hey Babe!
The Zeitgeist Gallery gets Ruth-less
BY MIKE MILIARD

"I don’t believe in damn curses," Pedro Martinez famously declared. "Wake up the damn Bambino and have me face him. Maybe I’ll drill him in the ass." On Monday, October 13, the Zeitgeist Gallery’s David Grant, Alan Nidel, and Bob Smith will preside over a somewhat less vindictive attempt at exorcising the Sultan’s scourge with "Bring the Bambino Back to Boston," an exultant ritual of hoodoo-expelling juju, a febrile orgy of chanting and tchotchkes, bad beer and Fenway Franks that will — fingers crossed — rid Red Sox Nation of the Babe’s baleful bane once and for all.

The Zeitgeist too seeks to "wake up" George Herman — or rather summon his spirit — to inhabit an enormous Babe-shaped totem that will be adorned with bric-a-brac and arty gewgaws supplied by all. "We’re hoping to get baseball-related art on the walls, and that people will come by and bring objects or memorabilia that can be used to decorate the totem," says Grant. "People are more than welcome to bring stuff. Any talisman or memoir."

Upon the idol’s completion, according to Zeitgeist owner Nidel’s Barnum-bombastic press release, "We will imbibe beer and hot dogs and form a drum circle, while young freshly painted virgins, smoking cigars, dance to the pulsating beat in an ever-intensifying storm of FRENZY AND ECSTASY!"

"We were thinking of ways to entice the spirit of Babe Ruth to inhabit [the totem]," Grant explains. "And we know, generally, that ghosts might be attracted to the things that they found most pleasure in while they were living on the this planet. Babe was known for his merriment."

"We’re gonna be real nice to the Babe. We’re gonna make sure he has beer and cigars and women," adds Nidel, who’s been driven to distraction by Fenway frustrations since his first memories of the ’67 fall classic. As a 14-year-old, he was drinking a glass of milk while watching Game Seven of the star-crossed ’75 series; upon seeing Tony Perez pulverize Bill Lee’s disastrous "blooper" pitch for a two-run homer, "I threw the glass at the TV set, and it blew up."

"We’re artists and sports fans," says Grant. And while he acknowledges that "there’s not too many of us," he also thinks baseball — unlike, say, football — lays a good claim to being the most "arty" of sports, a verdant, balletic moving picture that can stir the soul sublimely. "It has sort of a beauty and a symmetry to it. Just the shape of the diamond and the sophistication of the rules. It strikes me as being a finer game."

Moreover, Grant says the arts community has a special responsibility toward redressing the curse, considering the apocryphal story that Sox owner Harry Frazee sold the Babe to the hated Yanks for the cash needed to fund the musical No No Nanette. "The perception is that Babe Ruth was sold to the New York Yankees by Frazee so that he could fund Broadway musicals. Alan kind of ran with that idea, saying, y’know, if Babe Ruth was sold for the arts, it’s up to the arts to do something to break the curse."

Despite a heart-poundingly potent Red Sox line-up who (as of this writing) are still in the playoffs, the curse, of course, is not yet reversed. And it ain’t for lack of trying. From Fenway séances replete with incense and burning effigies, to State Rep Angelo Scaccia’s 2001 resolution honoring the maligned Mr. Ruth, to the heroic attempts of Paul Giorgio — who, on the advice of a Tibetan holy man, scaled Mount Everest, ritually burned a Yankees cap, and left a Red Sox cap on the summit — fans have long been trying in vain to make things right. Nidel is confident that artists will succeed where others have failed. "We’re the only folks who can actually stop the curse. People in the arts have to step up to the plate."

"Bring the Bambino Back to Boston" happens Monday, October 13, from 5 p.m. to 9 at the Zeitgeist Gallery, 1353 Cambridge Street, in Inman Square, Cambridge. It’s free; call 617-876-6060.

 


Issue Date: October 3 - 9, 2003
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