Of all of the things that are considered art no one would include NASCAR into that sacred pantheon of aesthetic pursuit. I certainly never have. But maybe everyone is wrong.
I don't know, maybe I've just gone bug-eyed nuts, but I'm not sure I see the difference between watching a battalion of race cars roar across the starting line, watching Tom Keller cook, sitting at the opera or watching, as I have, Mikhail Baryshnikov scampering around on a scaffold in the role of Gregor Samsa in Kafka's The Metamorphosis.
As I mentioned in my last post I went to the Pocono 500 this weekend. It was the first "stock car" race I'd been to since the late 1960's and damn, was it ever amazing. When it was happening I thought that maybe I was getting so worked up from all the noise and all the display of raw power. More than once while I was sitting there I thought that what I was going through was like what happened to me when I saw The Who perform at The Fillmore East when I was 13. During that performance I was flipping out because I felt like I was being slapped in the head by the loud sound and the spectacle of watching Keith Moon splintering his drumsticks and Pete Townsend whirling his picking arm around like a propeller. (You know the drill). It was only much later that I realized that something about what they were saying and the way they were saying it was uhm... more than the sum of the motions and words they performed.
So maybe that race I saw is going to mean something other than what I felt when it was going on. And hell, if Sun Tzu can see the art in war, why can't we see it in a well run race -or a tightly executed meal for that matter?
Speaking of meals; don't go to a NASCAR race expecting to eat anything other than what SYSCO wants you to eat. I certainly wasn't and I was not disappointed. And whoeee, are you going to pay for it. A bottle of water costs 3.50; french fries 4 bucks. Beer was 6 dollars, but based on my observation of how many people were drinking it I'd have thought that they were giving it away if i didn't know any better. The only upside to the food scene there is that the track allows you to bring in your own stuff -beer too. I don't know why they do this given the security concerns. Maybe they figure that no terrorist is going to be dumb enough to try to screw with a crowd of 150, 000 people -about half of whom are drunk, weigh over 250 lbs and look like they have teeth that can bend a Snap-On torque wrench.
God-damn this is a great country.