It's amazing what you learn about your own country when you travel abroad or, as I've said before, read foreign publications. The September 12th edition of the London Spectator features a review of Rob Chapman's Psychedelia and Other Colours which reveals that the Doors took their name from Aldous Huxley's book about his drug experimentation, The Doors of Perception. In an amusing aside the reviewer, Ian Thompson, uses an adjective to describe the band that I'd never heard applied to it before: "humourless."
The new Miami Herald is, naturally, a reduced Miami Herald, with the Local section now folded into the main section. Readers are understandably upset, in large part, I think, because - like all changes - this one was presented as something fresh and sensible. If newspapers were upfront with their readers, and told them the truth - Look, we're losing readers and with them, advertising, so we have to cut staff and sections - I think subscribers would be more tolerant of the changes. Everybody knows newspapers are hemorrhaging, but they win no sympathy by passing it off as tantalizing innovation.
Yesterday I received a couple emails from Anita Ruthling Klaussen, the wife of Bud Collins, containing pictures and columns from the dedication of the Bud Collins Media Center at the U.S. Open.
Harvey Araton in the New York Times noted that, over his long career, Bud covered sports other than tennis, and even wrote about politics. No mention was made of his travel writing, which is how I got to know him. On their trips back from the Australian Open, and their spring drives from the Italian Open to the French Open, Bud and Anita would make stops and Bud would write stories, which he started sending to me at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. It was an honor, in the hometown of Chris Evert, to publish the man who had helped to popularize tennis in the United States. I still see the beautiful photo that Anita took from their hotel in the Italian Alps as vividly as I remember Bud's riveting account of her hiking through several feet of snow.
I finally got to meet them one March when Bud got me a day's press pass for what was then called the Sony Ericsson Open on Key Biscayne. They sat at their computer terminals in the first row of the press room, Bud checking scores and Anita culling through photographs of their latest trip. Reporters and staff constantly dropped by to say hello. For all the extravagance of his clothing, Bud came across as a gentle, unassuming man, someone whose fame had made absolutely no dent in his fundamental goodness. He paid the same attention and respect to the kitchen workers that he did to the players.
The day press pass became an annual thing, and one of the highlights of my year. I was walking with Bud down a hallway when we passed Francesca Schiavone, less than a year after she had won the French Open, and she greeted him with an exuberant hug. Another year, sitting with Bud in the press box, I listened to him talk about his days coaching tennis at Brandeis University, where one of his players had been Abbie Hoffman.
In 2011 I got press credentials to cover the U.S. Open, pulling a Collins reverse, a travel writer who was now writing about tennis. It was the year that Bud fell and sustained an injury that forced him to leave the tournament early. As thrilled as I was to be at a Grand Slam, the press room wasn't the same without Bud and Anita.
In his column, Araton wrote that whenever someone came up to Bud in the press room to ask him a question - as they did all the time to the man who wrote the Tennis Encyclopedia - his stock response was, "Ask two."
The Ernie Banks of sportswriters.