(Does my attempt at tying this post together by using two Patti Smith albums as the title work?)
Spent a cold day at Aqueduct yesterday for the Wood Memorial, running into my Forest Hills-raised friend Denis, who is a theology teacher at St John's and also often a solo track-goer. While we sat right at the finish line in racing queen Marylou Whitney's box -- great seats we could thieve only because Mrs. Whitney probably hasn't been to Aqueduct in a really long time -- we discussed all matters of racing and religion.
Growing up as a Catholic, Easter was a big deal holiday when I was a child. We always went to my grandparents' house in Louisville, when the flowers, dogwood and redbud trees were starting to bloom, had an Easter basket hunt and a big ol' ham for dinner. To this day, I don't think there is any place more beautiful than Kentucky in the spring. Nowadays, I barely know when Easter is, often becoming aware only because of street cleaning regulations and the closure of most everything in Catholic Greenpoint. I went to Easter mass a couple years back up at St. Anthony-St. Alphonsus up on Manhattan Ave., mainly because one of my brothers + his family was in town. I still enjoy the spectacle of a Catholic holiday with all the singing and joyous celebration, much better than the more regular guilt-inducing homilies from priests. My other brother is in town and staying with me tonight, so my family does still (randomly) see my heathen ass on Easter.
I can't get into all my problems with the church, although I realized on Friday as I explained what Easter is to a Jewish co-worker that my 11-yrs of Catholic school is completely ingrained in me. I don't mind having this knowledge. It helps me understand a lot of what goes on in the world today, how far reaching the influence of the church is, makes me appreciate a lot of Italy, as well as giving me a huge frame of literary reference. Alas, my bi-yearly forays back to mass only drive me further away from the flock, much to the dismay of my mom who continually has a card next to her bed entitled "A Prayer for Lapsed Catholics."
Denis is a practicing Catholic, so it was interesting to talk to him about the Pope, Rome, and all matters of the Church while we lost on the Wood. We both put the majority of our cash on Any Given Saturday, who ended up a weak third, while much-hyped Nobiz Like Shobiz looked every bit the horse he is claimed to be. He's gotta be one of the faves in 4 weeks for the Derby. I hate when I get emotionally attached to horses based on something stupid like "he looked at me in the paddock" or a "feeling" instead of placing the smart bet, but no matter. I hit a $105 tri on one race which paid for the day, and Denis walked away claiming mass today was going to absolve him of all the gambling he did on Holy Saturday.