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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Don Malcolm: LAST PLAY AT SHEA

Billy Joel? Elton John? Paul McCartney? Screw the wrecking ball…bring in the mofo Wrecking Crew to tear these MOR (Middle Of the yellow brick Road) ####-tinklers down!

Combining the life stories of Billy Joel and Shea Stadium with a minor-key glimpse at the relentless, Robert Moses-driven suburbanization of Long Island, Last Play at Shea captures a moment of bittersweet transition that valiantly attempts to valorize a world that is falling apart. (In the case of Shea Stadium, of course, this is literally true: within six months of Joel’s two concerts there in July 2008, the facility would be demolished.)

Though we were steadfastly resistant to Joel’s music during its heyday, the passage of time has softened the edges of his work: like Elton John (with whom he began touring after giving up songwriting in the 90s), his gift for melody ultimately forgives many sins. If one had to knock down Shea Stadium, Billy was indisputably the man to give it its sendoff.

The filmmakers knew they were creating too many narratives for their film to escape a feeling of it being neither fish nor fowl, so they found a fourth strand that gives it a semblance of narrative drive—they relate Shea Stadium’s history to the iconic event of its youth, the 1965 Beatles concert.

This fourth layer provides a musical link between Joel and the Moptops, and injects suspense into the unfolding story: will Paul McCartney find a way to appear at Joel’s farewell to Shea? Will things come full circle before the wrecking ball?

Repoz Posted: November 13, 2011 at 01:41 PM | 2 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, mets, music

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   1. RMc's Unenviable Situation Posted: November 13, 2011 at 10:02 PM (#3992630)
What was the first play at Shea? Was there an event held there (concert, amateur game, etc.) before the Mets '64 home opener?
   2. bobm Posted: November 13, 2011 at 10:16 PM (#3992634)
[1] Probably no event prior to the opener

From http://newyork.mets.mlb.com/nym/ballpark/history.jsp:

On April 16, 1964, the day before Shea Stadium officially opened, Bill Shea christened the Mets' new home with two symbolic bottles of water: one from the Gowanus Canal, near Ebbets Field, the former home of the Brooklyn Dodgers and one from the Harlem River, near the Polo Grounds, where the New York Giants had played and later the Mets during their first two years. The next morning, April 17th, construction workers were painting outfield signs and fresh sod was being laid in the outfield as the teams took batting practice. The Mets lost, 4-3, to Pittsburgh that afternoon. The New York Times trumpeted the new stadium with the headline "50,312 attend opener at Shea Stadium; Lack of parking causes backups.".

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