My favorite place in Joshua Tree National Park, the rocks in the shape of Billy Martin, has taken on even greater significance now that Yankee Stadium is vanishing. To mark the occasion, I decided to visit the ironic outcroppings and see if the late NY Yankee manager had a word or two about this sad summer epitaph. As per my previous treks to the shrine (see http://www.villagevoice.com/2003-04-22/news/rocks-in-the-shape-of-billy-martin/ for general directions), I placed a shot of tequila in a crevasse and uttered a secret incantation designed to call forth the managerial ghost of so many unforgettable seasons of victory and play. Soon, the booze began to disappear, and I raised my canteen in reply. "Are diamonds still forever?" I asked after awhile. No answer was forthcoming, and all I could think of was the crumbling Ozymandias of the house that Ruth built and the spirits that would be homeless once it was gone. But then a raven arrived, and soon a pair of coyotes, and I even think I heard a snake rattle (but maybe imagined it all), reminders every one of desert miracles, and the truth I had momentarily forgotten: that the ultimate sandlot - the Mojave Desert - wasn't going anywhere; in fact Billy and DiMaggio and Gehrig and Mantle would forever roam here, in the land where no one can steal your seat and home plate is wherever you stand. So farewell Yankee Stadium, where I once saw 80,000 people scream that Nixon sucked, screamed with them in fact; leaped to my feet and into the arms of a beau when Mr. October homered in another one; cried when the home team came out with black arm bands for Thurman Munson, and now utter this prayer of thanks for a thing I cannot really name.
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