On a first-day pass, I attended part of the annual summer Objectivist Conference in Orange County, California’s Newport Beach.
Marriott Newport Beach
The town and venue are familiar. I’ve previously stayed at the Marriott Newport Beach for other Ayn Rand Institute-sponsored events. It’s a fine hotel across from Fashion Island with an attentive staff. A Starbucks affiliate capably serves coffee, food and drinks. I was writing on deadline during my visit, so I did not attend the ARI’s full OCON, which unfortunately does not offer a per-talk option. Most of the program was light, however, and did not entice me. Instead, I attended one day’s events and a few OCON affairs. The hotel’s restaurant and bar, where I visited with friends, clients and other intellectuals, were good for meetings.
This year’s conference, sponsored by Midwest manufacturer Relco, celebrates the 75th anniversary of Ayn Rand’s bestselling novel The Fountainhead and “how its themes of independence and integrity continue to resonate with readers of all ages.” Accordingly, English literature professor Shoshana Milgram, Ph.D., whom I interviewed for my exclusive report on Ayn Rand in Chicago, delivered a dynamic lecture (“Frank Lloyd Wright and The Fountainhead: The Full Story”) about the man who designed Fallingwater and the woman who created Roark and Galt and visited Wright at Taliesin.
The OCON lectures are shorter than they were in the past, which is unfortunate. So, Dr. Milgram delivered what can best be described as a dazzling account which breaks new ground in understanding The Fountainhead, Wright and Rand, whom my friend Dr. Milgram has profiled for a forthcoming biography. Hers is the primary impetus for my OCON attendance this year, though I also wanted to hear Aristotle scholar Robert Mayhew, whom I interviewed for his thoughts on Rand’s first novel, We the Living, lecture on humor in The Fountainhead. I had seen both Drs. Mayhew and Milgram present at OCON in Chicago several years ago and I consider them both top, leading new Objectivist intellectuals. Dr. Milgram’s talk at this year’s OCON was excellent, detailing newly disclosed research from Northwestern University archives, Wright’s introduction to Rand by Ely Jacques Kahn at New York City’s Commodore Hotel in 1938 and a fuller account of their exchanges over The Fountainhead.
The talk, which references Ayn Rand’s remarks on a never-reprinted Wright article and secret negotiations regarding the prospect of Wright’s working on the 1949 movie version for Warner Bros., explains why Ayn Rand was emphatic that Howard Roark is not based on Frank Lloyd Wright.
Dr. Milgram provides the literary perspective of Ayn Rand with impeccable skill. In my experience, ever since first attending the Virginia Tech associate professor’s talks in Southern California, she always does. She hunts for facts, goes by reason and, above all, she thinks for herself. Listening to her lecture on the relationship between Frank Lloyd Wright and Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead was fascinating, filling in gaps in my knowledge and helping me understand why it always seemed (and is often depicted as) one-sided, which Dr. Milgram breaks down and explains. I hope this talk, which is another reason ARI should consider offering single event OCON pricing, becomes available to the general public. The best compliment I can give OCON this year, and I am not saying this because Shoshana Milgram is a friend with whom I’ve worked, is that her presentation for the first time in my life makes me want to read an Ayn Rand biography.
A talk which did not tie into The Fountainhead, “Being a Rational Optimist” by ARI Chairman Yaron Brook, disappointed me. Since ARI founder Leonard Peikoff, who put in an appearance at OCON via video, ended his podcast, I do not listen to podcasts, so I don’t know whether Dr. Brook later expanded on his commentary. But it fell short of making a persuasive case for rational optimism. I attended with the expectation that he would probably convince me and affirm my pre-existing optimism in the future, which is qualified but real. Dr. Brook’s reasons include technology and life expectancy. He cited the fact that math and science are more widely studied. He went into some detail. But he failed to account for the discrepancy with his previous assertions in which he forecast doom or catastrophe within a 20-year time frame. Similarly, he did not mention, let alone address, alarming forecasts in Dr. Peikoff’s 1982 The Ominous Parallels or recent The DIM Hypothesis, originally presented as a series of OCON lectures.
Dr. Brook backed up his points by citing the late Steve Jobs and aviation entrepreneur Blake Scholl, a friend who addressed last year’s OCON in Pittsburgh. In reference to the standard of living, he cited the cost of an iPhone, which he said more than once costs “nothing” (which, especially if you calculate the cost of storage, apps, accessories and services, is not the case). Also, he praised Disney’s Pixar as making some of what he called “the best movies of the last 30 years”, a debatable assertion at best and I say this as someone who agrees with his remarks on Amistad and Argo. I agree with Dr. Brook that Americans generally tend to underestimate the role of the Enlightenment. But Yaron Brook’s argument that there is cause for optimism, which I’m inclined to agree with (and I have my own reasons to be optimistic), was unconvincing.
A better talk was “The Influence of Ayn Rand on My Life and Business Career” by Saxo Bank co-founder Lars Seier Christensen who, after 20 years as CEO, started his own private equity firm, Seier Capital. He made concise, convincing points about his business experience, which he delivered with humor. Christensen explained that there has to be a sense of purpose, or, as he put it, “some intention”, in making a dollar. In other words, he argued, one must choose to think about making money in some narrowly defined sense. He urged OCON’s audience, which ARI estimated at over 600 guests, to remember that there are no guarantees in life, that in business it is best to “fix conflicts on the spot” and he told us not to criticize for the sake of criticism. This is good advice backed up by his wealth of knowledge, experience and success.
Harry Binswanger gave a course on logic based on his book How We Know. The Objectivist Academic Center (OAC), which I attended from 2008 to 2012 when it was a four-year program, held a mixer for alumni, where I was able to talk with OCON speakers Ben Bayer, Robert Mayhew and Aaron Smith. I told Dr. Smith, who earned his Ph.D. in philosophy, that I appreciate his session on idealism in OCON’s “Discussing Objectivism” series. Dr. Smith explored the nature and roots of Ayn Rand’s idealism, fully tethered to characters and themes in The Fountainhead, addressing questions such as: What does it mean to be an idealist? Why does Rand think that ideals are so important to have and to fight for? What is the connection between having ideals and having a self?
I’ve seen Dr. Smith speak on other occasions, such as when former CEO Jim Brown introduced him at an event in Orange County last year, and part of what I value is his ability to express himself as a searching philosophical detective and thinker. In contemplating idealism, for instance, he asked and answered each of those questions, emphasizing Objectivist virtues dramatized in The Fountainhead such as rationality, independence and self-esteem, which he stressed is impossible to exaggerate in terms of its importance. The material, pace and clarity in his presentations is very good. Dr. Smith communicates as if he seeks to be understood by a wide audience, a quality which is rare among today’s intellectuals, especially among Objectivists, whose best arguments can be lost on a general audience because they may come off as smug, defensive and dismissive. Reminding me of what Dr. Peikoff once wrote about addressing only those academics who act like human beings, or something to this effect, Dr. Smith gave an example from when he worked as a gymnastics instructor. He said he told his students not to “inflate your currency”. Aaron Smith argued for delivering true instruction when discussing Objectivism. Speaking about The Fountainhead character Peter Keating, he was not satisfied to merely identify and underscore Keating’s selflessness. He pointed out that Peter Keating failed to scrutinize his own actions and contrast his life with his friend Howard Roark’s.
In keeping with the theme of this year’s OCON — bearing in mind that the ARI and OCON ought also to be scrutinized — this is something every individual should strive to do.
This hotel is nestled into lush, green hills in Pittsburgh’s Green Tree neighborhood with perfect location, accommodations and property assets and amenities. Needing to be near this location for a recent trip, I booked here as against downtown Pittsburgh, where I recently stayed at the Fairmont, primarily because Pittsburgh’s newest Hilton hotel has an airport shuttle, which I needed to use.
DoubleTree by Hilton Pittsburgh | Green Tree
The courtesy shuttle turned out to be a hassle. I phoned when my flight landed as instructed, spoke to someone who spoke with broken English who told me that a shuttle was waiting for me or would be dispatched. Neither was the case. I went to the designated spot, waited for a while and called again. I was told that a driver had been dispatched. No shuttle arrived. I made two more calls while waiting for over an hour — each time, I was informed that the driver was nearby and on the way — and, after being told that the shuttle had to wait for a flight crew which was causing the delay, I finally pieced together that the driver wanted to wait to pick up a flight crew that had been booked at the hotel. I would’ve taken and paid for my own ride but the front desk clerk kept telling me that a shuttle was coming soon. I saw seven Parking Spot shuttles come and go during the hour plus-wait. When driver Norman finally showed up over an hour after the initial call, one other passenger — the airline flight crew he’d been waiting for — boarded. The other passenger proceeded to play hip hop on his device without headphones. Norman said nothing during the entire drive. So, expect confusion and a long wait for the hotel shuttle. This was not the best door to door service.
DoubleTree by Hilton Pittsburgh | Green Tree
The hotel was apologetic, however. So, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that this was the shuttle service having a bad day. The front desk clerk gave me a generous voucher (and, upon checkout, the clerk added extra Hilton Honors loyalty rewards points). It’s a convenient location and I’d stay at this hotel again. I won’t be taking the shuttle if I can avoid it. But the room, with a comfortable bed and desk, chair and closet with safe, iron and ironing board, is neatly appointed. There’s also an in-room coffeemaker with Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf coffee and tea. The bathroom had what I need, though its door closed too close to the toilet, and the warm cookie upon check-in and bottled water in the room were nice and convenient.
Front desk staff, with the exception of that first night before checking in, were friendly, attentive and helpful.
DoubleTree by Hilton Pittsburgh | Green Tree
A bistro marketplace sells Starbucks coffee and various types of food including pizza. The bistro also stocks small grocery, souvenir and toiletry items. An adjacent gathering area with tables and chairs near two large screen TVs tuned to cable sports and news makes it easy to have a snack and catch up on headlines and games. Unfortunately, bistro hours vary, so it was closed one morning when I wanted to buy something.
The restaurant, which offers buffet service, is very good. Service is attentive and food is fresh and delicious. The spacious bar also features big screen high-definition TVs and serves happy hour specials. DoubleTree by Hilton Pittsburgh at Green Tree also features a shared workspace with printers, computers and supplies and a fitness room off the lobby and a swimming pool with separate hot tub.
A short weekend stay at the Parc 55 San Francisco, a Hilton hotel, was pleasant. Located near Union Square, the high-rise hotel afforded a terrific view (pictured here) of the skyline, convenience to public transportation, landmarks and conference venues, such as Moscone Center, and overall access to the city by the bay.
Check-in and checkout were a breeze. The room is nicely appointed, with Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf coffee brews and tea and a two-cup machine, comfortable bed and decent bathroom, outlets and seating. It’s not the fanciest and the desk space is tight once the ice bucket and coffee trays are factored, though these can always be moved to make room for serious workspace. A mini-refigerator was a welcome addition but may not be available in every room. I was upgraded upon check-in when reserved room specifications weren’t available. The usual amenities were on hand.
The downside to almost any San Francisco hotel stay including Parc 55 San Franciscois the parking, which is valet parking for $76 per night (no self-parking available). This price is high, though standard for Hilton’s and other downtown or adjacent hotels, and the city’s 14 percent tax is part of the cause. Some area hotels offer self-parking — the Grand Hyatt at Union Square, a fine hotel where I’ve also stayed, offers “assisted” self-parking for $39 per night — and many do not, and the Westin St. Francis estimates that downtown’s average overnight Union Square garage self-parking fee is $32.
The lobby-level restaurant offers handy self-serve, buffet or service options for breakfast and a view of the surrounding bustle on the streets. Of course, what’s convenient for guests also makes the location prone to the city’s notoriously aggressive homeless population, so it’s a good idea to hold kids and valuables close and stay alert. San Francisco Police were heavily on patrol during my visit.
San Francisco is a great walking city, Union Square is delightful and I’ve always enjoyed my visits. The Parc 55 San Francisco makes working, networking and dining with friends, colleagues and locals easy and convenient. I did want to see the statue at the public park in Union Square, which was closed to the public to accommodate broadcast coverage of a Chinese New Year parade, and there’s construction in and around the Union Square/financial district area. I didn’t have spare time to explore, but there were some interesting city history-themed exterior reliefs by the valet parking (I’ll try to post pictures on social media) and, oddly, an Alcatraz-themed exhibit making the rounds dominates the lobby, complete with a jail cell, gigantic photos of prisoners and a gun on display. Like the Fairmont Pittsburgh, which I recently reviewed, the hotel’s atmosphere and staff demeanor is relaxed, professional and businesslike. Despite downsides, it’s still a lovely little city on the bay. Staying at Parc 55 San Francisco worked out fine.
For superior hospitality in downtown Pittsburgh, I recommend the Fairmont Pittsburgh. Having stayed at other area hotels over time during various visits, including one last summer for OCON Pittsburgh, when I stayed at the Hyatt Regency Pittsburgh Airport, which was great, and the Sheraton at Station Square, which was not, I listened this time to friends and family who suggested visiting the Fairmont hotel. Accommodations were exemplary for my needs and tastes. Expectations were rarely exceeded and mostly met. I took advantage of the downtown location, a block from Market Square, near Point State Park and close to everything in Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle, walking to cafes, museums and skyscrapers, all while taking in the city’s architecture, bridges and industry.
Speaking of the Fairmont Pittsburgh‘s location, I could’ve taken the T (rail transit) to meet a friend for breakfast at the Dor-Stop Restaurant in Dormont, though since it was cold, I summoned an Uber car instead, which was fine (and I found that Uber is easier than Lyft, at least in this city). I arrived a bit early.
Returning later to a perfectly appointed room overlooking PNC Park where the Pirates play baseball, called a parkview room here, I was very pleased with the 15th floor room. Robes, slippers, old-fashioned alarm clock, coffee, tea, cordless phones, ink and paper — the clean, quiet, spacious room had everything I needed and the best part was the silence. Overlooking city streets, the Allegheny River, skyscrapers — with a view of the Gulf Oil Building tucked between glass towers — during a winter storm was a wonderful sight. The room is functional, with a generously sized desk, plenty of smartly placed outlets for my gear, a swiveling flat screen television and safe, ironing board and deadbolt on the door. I use a Verismo machine for coffee at home, so the Keurig coffee machine was new to me. Though I figured it out, the Keurig’s instructional drawings left out a step, which is why I prefer written, as against pictorial, directions. I was surprised to find that the room lacks a general hotel guide, though this may have been an oversight. A daily newspaper is available in the lobby but it’s a New York paper, not the local Post-Gazette.
The bathroom is also spacious and generously appointed, though someone forgot to include shampoo and conditioner, which were promptly sent upon request. I did notice and report what I suspect is a design flaw in the glass shower door, which persistenly left a puddle when I exited the tiled shower. With a ledge, corner caddy for soap and rain-style shower, plus a bath and separate toilet area, accessories and quality towels, I was satisfied.
Fairmont Pittsburgh advertises itself as a luxury hotel and I found that it’s worth what I paid (county taxes are highest among the multiple taxes) for its location, quality and relaxed, businesslike atmosphere. In fact, it’s connected to business offices, so the relatively small hotel staff is happily welcoming and not overzealous. That said, a couple of front desk clerks weren’t the most attentive, failing to make eye contact, but generally staff were friendly and responsive. Check in and check out were both swift and professional. I really like that staff mostly left me alone to do business and come and go while nodding in recognition or extending a short greeting. They usually knew the answers to my questions, i.e., about the area, facilities, etc., when asked. Doorman Ron offered a tip that I walk to Heinz History Center, which I did in spite of the cold, rainy weather. I needed the exercise, though the fitness center’s very functional, too, so I’m glad I did.
I ate at the main restaurant twice. I first went for a solo breakfast, which was served exactly and promptly as I ordered (crisp, not limp or overcooked, bacon, eggs scrambled easy and fresh tomatoes) which was delicious, and again when I met someone for lunch. I ordered the salad and a pot of tea and both were fine. The restaurant, which my luncheon guest, who’s a longtime Pittsburgher, knew by its former name Habitat, is unfortunately called fl.2 (that’s the name). There’s a bar there, too, with a happy hour, which I would’ve enjoyed trying out if I’d had the time. The restaurant wallpaper shows wear and tear; again, not the best for what ought to be a four or five-star hotel. But fl.2 and its excellent staff really is a top property asset. The second floor place is perfect for conversation, conferences and catching up. I think this is because it’s removed from the main hotel traffic and action and, while there’s a partial view overlooking the Fairmont Pittsburgh‘s unique location near where major avenues converge at an angle toward Point State Park and where the Monongahela River and Allegheny River merge into the Ohio River, the view does not dominate the experience.
In summary, I think the secret of the Fairmont Pittsburgh success is its understated air, which emanates from a downtown business approach matched by its removal from potentially hectic surroundings due to its island-like setback and trim, elegant design. This is not a showcase hotel, so its guests and staff are probably disinclined to strut and show off. Andy’s, a casual bar off the lobby which is probably named for Pittsburgh artist Andy Warhol though I’d like to think is named for Pittsburgh capitalists Andrew Mellon and Andrew Carnegie, offers a DJ and live jazz band on certain nights. Both sounded terrific as I walked by, giving Andy’s and the Fairmont an inviting and not too solicitous sense that guests can relax, mingle and achieve solitude.
Blake Scholl addresses Objectivists in Pittsburgh. (Photo by Scott Holleran)
Watching Boom Supersonic founder and CEO Blake Scholl address this summer’s Objectivist Conference in Pittsburgh, I was struck by the newness, youth and growth of the movement to advance Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism. Blake is a friend whom I’ve known since he was a student at Pittsburgh’s distinguished university named for two great American capitalists — Andrew Mellon and Andrew Carnegie — at the end of the 20th century. Today, Blake’s a leading new voice for capitalism, seeking to reclaim and restore supersonic air travel.
As the only philosophy to advocate capitalism on the ethics of egoism, which Ayn Rand (1905-1982) reduced to what she boldly and, I think, rightly called the virtue of selfishness, Objectivism is perfect for attracting, inspiring and guiding productive achievers such as Blake Scholl, who departed after his talk in Pittsburgh to Paris, where he tripled orders for Boom Supersonic’s new jet (its XB-1 Supersonic Demonstrator is scheduled to fly at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California in 2019). The system of ideas created by the author of Atlas Shrugged is bound to foster businessmen such as Blake Scholl, who presented his vision for aviation based on speed, convenience and quality before what the Ayn Rand Institute claims is its largest annual Objectivist Conference.
The city of steel, bridges and exemplary education, Pittsburgh, too, is the perfect place to exhibit an enticing preview of the manmade. Pittsburgh was at the crux of creating the world’s single, greatest period of productive achievement, the Industrial Revolution. This magnificent city, where pioneering soldiers, frontiersmen, industrialists, doctors and artists protected and forged the nation’s most enduring new enterprises — in medicine, engineering, energy, movies, television and the arts — continues to be underestimated. Just like America, Ayn Rand and the best minds.
Certainly, Boom’s Blake Scholl is not infallible; he may make mistakes in executing his vision. However, with Blake’s presentation, the Objectivist movement reaches a higher point — fittingly, in a tower located next to railroad tracks at the south bank of the Monongahela River in a proudly industrialized metropolis which climaxes at a golden triangle pointing West, stretching into lush, green hills. This year’s OCON included lectures on intellectual property, stoicism and the gold standard. Ayn Rand biographer Shoshana Milgram delivered insightful talks on Rand’s interviews with industrialists and an examination of Rand’s favorite novel, which is about building a grain elevator. There was a screening and discussion of the Oscar-nominated documentary Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life, trivia and talent events and a panel discussion on free speech with Flemming Rose, a journalist who once published a Mohammed cartoon and still needs police protection. Pittsburgh doctor Amesh Adalja spoke on the history of infectious disease in the city where his heroes, Drs. Thomas Starzl and Jonas Salk, made medical history. OCON Pittsburgh — during which the Pittsburgh Penguins won hockey’s Stanley Cup and I visited family and friends and saw the Pittsburgh Pirates defeat the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park — included tours of the Homestead blast furnace once owned by Andrew Carnegie‘s U.S. Steel, Henry Clay Frick’s (1849-1919) home and owned works of art and Fallingwater, the home Frank Lloyd Wright designed for Pittsburgh department store owner Edgar Kaufmann in 1936. I was writing TV scripts on deadline during the conference and missed some talks, events and mixers. And, while certain conference services, staff and events failed, fell flat or need improvement, others were good, new or interesting.
Blake Scholl’s talk stands out as an Objectivist hallmark. That this Carnegie Mellon University graduate stood as a businessman against the cynicism and anti-intellectualism of our times to demonstrate that the good is possible and that air transportation can and ought to be grand, fast and glorious realizes Ayn Rand’s depiction of man as a heroic being. That he did it in Pittsburgh is perfectly rational. So, here comes evidence that the potential for the gleaming, industrialized future Ayn Rand’s idealistic novels envision, promise and dramatize can be made real. Whatever happens on the day after tomorrow, to paraphrase a condensed description of Atlas Shrugged — a novel, it must be recognized, which also depicts a dramatic episode of aviation adventure — this is true, which is cause for all thinkers to want more of what Objectivism explains and offers for living here on earth.
I hadn’t been to Dodger Stadium for years when I decided to watch a baseball game during daytime like I did when I was a kid.
Having childhood memories of watching men play ball from the bleachers at Wrigley Field and with my best friend at Comiskey Park in Chicago, I first came to the home of the legendary Los Angeles Dodgers with high expectations long ago with my friend Randy, who now runs a baseball academy.
I was not disappointed. The place, which opened for business on April 10, 1962, had become less than ideal, however, under previous ownership. Though I live and work close to Dodger Stadium (and I’ve covered sports, including baseball, for newspapers), I hadn’t attended a Dodger game since before I created this blog.
Seeing this summer’s games at Dodger Stadium brings back the joy of attending a baseball game. Los Angeles is the second largest city in America and LA’s Southern California ethos is distinctly American. But the challenge of modern living here is the same as anywhere in the deteriorating United States. Anything run by the government—hospitals, schools, roads—is a bureaucratic mess. This fact only makes a day at Dodger Stadium more of a marvel.
While I’m sorry to say that the ballpark was built after LA’s government demanded that Brooklyn Dodgers’ owner Walter O’Malley grant the deed to LA’s Wrigley Field in order to move the team to Los Angeles—and Los Angeles violated property rights, invoking eminent domain, to build it—Dodger Stadium remains an outstanding achievement.
Designed, engineered and constructed with tiered levels and entrances and convenient parking for each area, it’s easily accessible, so I choose to drive, park and walk. It is better to arrive early for a chance to explore the clubs, bars, grills, shops, playgrounds and picture spots. Nestled in the hills of northeast LA, Dodger Stadium affords sweeping views. A seat in the upper reserve section puts the Hollywood sign in plain view. Sights of LA’s skyline, hillsides, suburbs, palm trees and surrounding mountain ranges are all included in the price of admission and the sight lines of the playing field are fine. There really isn’t a bad view of the field, though the creep of sponsor signage is obstructive, especially in right field.
Buying tickets online is relatively painless and the admission process is simple. After a security check, show your smart phone ticket and parking pass or print them and follow the signs to your seat. After a safety announcement, ceremonial balls, pitches and the national anthem, and broadcaster Vin Scully’s context-setting pre-game clip, the Dodgers and opponents take the field. Before the game’s over, whenever that happens, visitors are treated to songs (Rodgers’ & Hammerstein’s “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” from Oklahoma!, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”), short promotions, occasional gifts and gambling, cheers, replays on ballpark monitors everywhere and the seventh inning stretch. Alcohol is served for a limited time during the game. Concession prices are inflated, of course, though guests can bring regular sized bottled water, snacks and backpacks. Making a video of the game violates team rules and fans can visit Dodgers.com for details and information on tours, etc. If you don’t want to eat Dodger Dogs ($6), healthy food pretty much means eating a salad (they’re good).
The Los Angeles Dodgers are rightly focused on athletic improvement (and taking care of Corey Seaver after he was beaned in the right wrist during yesterday’s game against the Phillies) but, judging by my recent game attendance, the stadium meets the ownership’s goal of restoring a safe, family-friendly spectator sports experience. From upper decks to club, premium and box seating, Dodger Stadium offers a terrific game day of baseball. With driving and exclusive Uber deal options, as well as shuttle bus and bicycling accommodations, transportation is relatively accessible. Seats are comfortable, restrooms are spotless, ushers are helpful and everyone is excited to be there.
The reason: to cheer for men of ability to play this wonderful sport with its sense of being suspended in time—and to watch LA’s Major League baseball team play to win. This season, the Dodgers have been in and out of first place and, from group gatherings of co-workers and families to school field trip students, celebrity guests and honored war veterans, the range of spectators primarily come for the grace, thrill and playfulness of the game.
Big screens show player statistics, trivia games, kiss and tot camera shots, welcome historical clips of Dodgers’ numbers 55 (Orel Hershiser), 42 (Jackie Robinson) and six (Steve Garvey) and, of course, those sharp, pre-game roundups courtesy of reporter Vin Scully in his final broadcasting season. Dodgers’ pride shows, from attentive custodians and parking attendants to vendors, cashiers and on-site Los Angeles Policemen. They make the 56,000-seat Dodger Stadium, the nation’s first privately financed ballpark since Yankee Stadium in 1923, a relaxed, friendly and rational refuge from modern madness.
As with any great American city’s baseball team, Dodger fans make attending baseball at the stadium a unique experience. My favorite part of seeing the Dodgers compete at Dodger Stadium, besides getting seriously if temporarily away from the egalitarian rot wasting the world, is being among decent, hardworking and happy Southern Californians who cheer for the Dodgers to win. Baseball is still the great American sport. LA’s renewed Dodger Stadium is once again one of the best places to watch men play ball.