Book Review: Faith and Fear in Flushing by Greg Prince

Author: Greg Prince
Title: Faith and Fear in Flushing
Publication Info: Skyhorse Publishing (2009)
ISBN: 1602396817


Greg Prince, one of the co-authors of the Mets blog Faith and Fear in Flushing – the most intelligent and literate Mets blog there is – writes about his 40 years as the guy everyone knows as the big Mets fan.  Part memoir, part baseball history this book explores the ups & downs of fandom in parallel with the events of his life.  If this sounds familiar it’s because it is very similar in concept and execution to Fever Pitch.  That is Fever Pitch the autobiographical book by Nick Hornby about his love for the Arsenal Football club, not the wholly fictional romantic comedy film about the Red Sox.

Prince’s ruminations on the Mets are a pleasure to read for the most part although he does have a tendency for repetition especially in the more navel-gazing portions of the book.  As a fellow Mets fan, I enjoyed reliving the Mets good years and many fallow years from the perspective of another fan.  I think this book could be enjoyable as well to someone unfamiliar with the Mets or with baseball, especially since it gives a literary perspective on the game that breaks from the mold of Yankees/Red Sox/Dodgers.

If there’s one thing I quibble with in this book is Prince’s characterization of Mets fans loving the Mets but hating the players.  While I think that negative attitude has become prominent in the past five years or so, historically that “win or your a bum” kind of thinking has been more of a Yankee fan ideology.  Mets fans used to be opposite, the cult of the underdog, a humanistic approach to accepting the players despite their flaws and celebrating their accomplishments and commiserating with their failures.  The Mets were a team the ordinary guy could identify with and thus players like Marv Throneberry, Lee Mazzili, Mookie Wilson, Butch Huskey, and Tsuyoshi Shinjo became local heroes despite never leading the league in anything.

At any rate, I find it harder to be a Mets fan these days not because of the Mets but because of the hostile and vulgar attitude of my fellow “fans.”  This book gives me hope because it shows that there are still thoughtful and literate fans among our numbers.

Favorite Passages:

Blogging revealed itself to me as Banner Day’s logical and technological successor.  Mets fans are always dying to tell you about being Mets fans.  We each fancy ourselves Mr. Met, except Mr. Met is mute and never stops smiling, whereas we never shut up and expend loads of bandwidth contemplating, complaining, and, only on infrequent occasion, complimenting.  -p. 255

I don’t love the Mets because it gives me license to behave as a “crazy fan.”  I don’t know whether it’s crazy to give one’s mental well-being over to the fickle physical fortunes of a batch of youthful millionaires.  I don’t know whether it’s crazy to risk vast quantities of disappointment in the longshot search for a modicum of solace.  I don’t know whether it’s crazy to think the angst I incur as a preoccupational hazard is, in fact, maybe its own reward.  But I’m a big fan.  I’m not a crazy fan. – p. 270.

Recommended books: Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby, Mets by the Numbers: A Complete Team History of the Amazin’ Mets by Uniform Number by Jon Springer, and Playing Hard Ball: A Kent Crickter’s Journey into Big League Baseball by Ed Smith.

Book Review: Dishwasher: One Man’s Quest To Wash Dishes in All Fifty States by Pete Jordan

I’m the official dishwasher in our household and love travel and eccentric characters so it was natural for me to want to read Dishwasher: One Man’s Quest To Wash Dishes in All Fifty States (2007) by Pete Jordan.  It is pretty much what it’s long subtitle say it is:  a ten-plus year journey around the United States washing dishes in different establishments that reads as part travelogue, part memoir, part humor, part worker’s manifesto and suspiciously at times like a big put on. The basic gist is that at a young age Pete Jordan discovers he has no customer service aptitude and no desire to hold a job with any real responsibility.  Since dishwashing is really the lowest job around because no one wants to do it, getting a job as a dishwasher is generally as simple as walking in and asking.  Leaving the job can be similarly serendipitous.  Jordan decides that he can see the country by working as a dishwasher just long enough to get the money to move on to another job and another state.  Along the way he dishes at a commercial fishery, a summer camp, a Jewish retirement home, an offshore oil rig, a dinner train and a commune as well as dozens of Mom & Pop restaurants.  He also takes a great interest in the history of dishwashing, it’s role in labor movements, and some famous plongeurs:  Malcom X, George Orwell, and Gerald Ford among them. This was a fun book.  Inspiring, humorous, and a little annoying at times (especially at the beginning when you just want to cuff him by the ear).  Read it and you may wish to travel the country looking for the handmade plaques Jordan made to mark the sites of great moments in dishwashing history.

Author Jordan, Pete.
Title Dishwasher : one man’s quest to wash dishes in all fifty states / Pete Jordan.
Publication Info. New York : Harper Perennial, c2007.
Edition 1st ed.
Description 358, 16 p. : ill. ; 21 cm.