Five Questions with Glen E. Friedman
Glen E. Friedman
In the third installment of our Five Questions series about Dock Ellis, Glen E. Friedman sheds some new light both on himself and Dock. Born in 1962, Glen has been called one of the most important photographers of his generation. This year, in 2012, he was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame as an icon of the sport. Glen documented the Dogtown skate scene from the inside and his images were instrumental to the 2001 documentary film Dogtown and Z-Boys, which he produced and provided creative guidance for, as he is doing with us. He is associated with musical groups from punk to hip hop, including Black Flag, Fugazi, Run-DMC, Public Enemy, the Beastie Boys and Suicidal Tendencies. How is it that a politically active, vegan artist known to shun intoxicants regards Dock Ellis as a personal hero? We'll let Glen tell you the story, but as with most things Dock, the truth is always stranger than fiction.
For all the cacophony of noise on Twitter, we first encountered Glen in the context of Dock Ellis there. Glen @glenefriedman had tweeted a directed message about Dock. Further exploration of Glen's blog at Burning Flags revealed this amazing back-story. Once you know enough about Dock, a story such as Glen's is not surprising. His story is unique and it helps illustrate the profound cultural importance that Dock Ellis had in very tangible ways, outside of baseball or drugs. Glen had so much to share that we are providing his answer to a bonus sixth question.
Do people understand how much Dock Ellis was alone on the frontier in his time?
I don't think so, at all, other than a handful of fans and dedicated historians. Culturally, he was incredibly significant, though only time would tell, and those thirsty enough for knowledge and history would ever know. That is, if it wasn't for this film, which I hope will help spread the knowledge of the truly great player and human being Dock Ellis was. He was a fucking hero to me, that's for sure.
How did you meet Dock Ellis?
I first met Dock at Shea Stadium, here in New York, when I was a kid around 11 years old. When I went to games, I was fervent about getting autographs and memorabilia and I would always get there early to watch batting practice and to try to talk to the players ... asking for autographs, loose practice balls, broken bats, whatever a player had access to.
One afternoon Dock walked over to me, probably 1973, and asked why was I yelling so much. Of course I just wanted his attention, to say hello and to get an autograph. He said relax, not to worry, after he was done practicing he'd come back over and give me an autograph. A few minutes later, he came over and asked me why I wasn't wearing an authentic Dock Ellis shirt? I happened to be wearing the nearest thing to a game jersey one could get in the early seventies - a 100% nylon Willie Stargell kid's jersey I picked up in Cooperstown, just across from the Baseball Hall of Fame. There was Dock, pulling at my most prized shirt and asking why was I wearing a fake. I was bummed he was making fun of my favorite shirt, so I asked him, "Well, where can I get one of the Dock Ellis shirts you're talking about? I've never seen one." He didn't really clue me in on that, but he signed my autograph book, for the first of many times.
Eventually in the conversation... Dock told me to meet him by the press gate later in the day, once he was sure he wouldn't be called upon to pitch (midway through the 2nd game of a double header). I went to the designated place at the designated time and there came Dock strutting out in platform shoes, double-knit black flair paints and a red fishnet t-shirt. He was behind a fenced-in area, near the press gate and player entrance. People saw him and started yelling his name, "Dock, Dock!" He walked straight towards me. He's got a brown paper bag, lunch bag sized, in his hand. He knelt down and started to talk to me, and said, "Don't open this up! Don't even peek inside this bag, until you get back to your seat, otherwise you won't get outta here alive." I said, "OK, Thanks Dock! See you around ..." thinking I'd got some super cool "Official" Dock Ellis T-Shirt.
I got back to my seat and looked inside the bag then, as discreetly as possible. I didn't really believe my eyes, so I couldn't just peek in the bag, I had to take out the contents to really see what it was, if in fact it was, yes it was his actual game jersey right off his back! I had a Number 17 Pittsburgh Pirates visiting team jersey. That was the first time I met Dock, but I saw him and hung out with him several times over the years after that.
You grew up a bi-coastal kid, in both Los Angeles and the New York metropolitan areas, how did you become a Pittsburgh Pirates fan?
I grew up a Pirates fan, because as most little kids, I just liked PIRATES -- with eye patches, bandannas, swords and severed limbs -- and I never let go. I never lived in Pittsburgh. The Pittsburgh Pirates team that I grew up with became great winners just as my baseball enthusiasm was peaking. Remember, from '70 to '75 they won four out of five National League East pennants, one NL Pennant, and the World Series in 1971. Those years had to be there strongest in the history of the franchise. With players like Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Al Oliver, Bill Mazeroski, Dock Ellis, Steve Blass, Manny Sanguillen, what's not to like?
How important are the Pittsburgh Pirates to Dock's story and how important is he to theirs?
Dock was the personification of the growth of the Pirates team through the civil rights era, as much as they were the steel town they became a melting pot of the new American society. Dock was the antithesis of Jackie Robinson, but he was the man who Jackie and so many other black major league players before him were waiting for. He was the Satchel Paige of his generation: unapologetic, friendly, spirited, confident, rebellious and wise. The pitcher as the first all black opening line-up took the field, there were few who could pull that off as Dock. Being one of the first two black pitchers, with Vida Blue, to open the All Star game. Being the first pro ballplayer ever to be talked about for wearing curlers in his hair, which unless you were black, you had no idea in the '70s what that meant culturally. Dock, perhaps more than any other player up to that time (or since), "kept it real." Who was important to whom? You figure it out.
How did Dock become an inspiration to you, leading to a dedication in the first printing of your book Fuck You Heroes?
Dock just being who he was to me, a pro ballplayer who was so friendly and mad cool, giving me not only the time of day, but the shirt off his back, literally. He took me into the clubhouse over the years, down on the field, breaking in my glove during batting practice. But most of all, what he signed in my autograph book and on a ball, after I actually knew him, stuck with me the most "Glen - Believe In Yourself. I Do. Dock"
By the late '70s and the advent of free agency, as the "Lumber Company" lost some of it's steam, not to mention my skateboarding and own growth, I moved away from being as huge a baseball fan as I was. This transition included my own failure to be a top player in the Pony leagues as I thought I was in Little League. Dock's words came at a critical point in my life and they were always to be reflected upon, for many years after he had first written them. So, indeed, I wanted to acknowledge him in my first published hardcover book.
People have referred to your photography as art meets action. Where did the art of Dock meet the action of Dock best?
Well ... that was probably the night he pitched his No-No in San Diego, no? Perhaps it's when he told his teammates he was going to hit every single Cincinnati Red as they came up to the plate, after they disrespected his team, and he proceeded to do so one-by-one until he was taken out of the game. Or, perhaps it was when he used child psychology on Sparky Anderson to become the starting pitcher of the 1971 All-Star game, with Vida Blue, the first time there were two Black starters in the "mid-summer classic" game.
pledged of $35,000 goal
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Jun 12, 2012 - Jul 17, 2012 (35 days)
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You want the world to know more about Dock Ellis and require nothing in return. Feel free to contribute $5 or more.Estimated delivery: Jul 2012
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69 backers Limited (131 of 200 left)
A "Dock Ellis Has a Posse" sticker, in black and white. An original postcard for the film. A pair of vintage 1970s Pittsburgh Pirates color stickers.Estimated delivery: Aug 2012
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98 backers Limited (2 of 100 left)
THE POSSE -- Digital download of the film, after we have digital distribution in place (2013 or later). Limited edition, silk screened June 12, 1970 - June 12, 2010 event POSTER featuring the art of Lil Tuffy and designed & hand printed by Billy Bishop. Special Name RECOGNITION on the Dockumentary webpage as a funder. "Dock Ellis Has a Posse" sticker and a postcard for the film.Estimated delivery: Aug 2012
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14 backers Limited (26 of 40 left)
POSSE PLUS -- Digital download of the film, after we have digital distribution in place (2013 or later). Limited edition, silk screened June 12, 1970 - June 12, 2010 event POSTER featuring the art of Lil Tuffy and designed & hand printed by Billy Bishop. Special Name RECOGNITION on the Dockumentary webpage as a funder. "Dock Ellis Has a Posse" sticker, pair of vintage 1970s Pittsburgh Pirates color stickers, and a postcard for the film.Estimated delivery: Sep 2012
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59 backers Limited (11 of 70 left)
ALL BENEFITS OF THE POSSE, PLUS: 1978 Dock Ellis (Rangers) Topps baseball card. Vintage 1970s Pittsburgh Pirates cloth patch. ACCESS to a private mailing list with notification of special events in Austin and around the country as the film is completed and shown.Estimated delivery: Sep 2012
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3 backers Limited (5 of 8 left)
DOCK ELLIS ZOMBIE HUNTER -- "I had to go ... We were in a jeep. We got to a certain area. I saw these people walking - four of them, ZOMBIES." (Hall, _Dock Ellis in the Country of Baseball_ p.135) One color, hand-drawn, original 4x6 sketch card signed by Kevin-John ~ from an illustrated series inspired by Dock Ellis, Manny Sanguillen, Manny Mota, Tito Fuentes and Rico Carty. ALSO includes ALL BENEFITS OF THE POSSE & private mailing list.Estimated delivery: Oct 2012
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4 backers Limited (16 of 20 left)
ALL BENEFITS OF THE POSSE, PLUS: Hand-drawn CONCEPT SKETCH by Kevin-John, celebrity sports artist and illustrator for the film. http://www.kevin-john.com. "Additional Funding By" end CREDIT (two column) in all versions of the film, theatrical and digital. 1978 Dock Ellis (Rangers) Topps baseball card. ACCESS to a private mailing list with notification of special events.Estimated delivery: Sep 2012
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6 backers Limited (4 of 10 left)
Hand-painted FINISHED SKETCH by Kevin-John, celebrity sports artist and illustrator for the film. PERSONAL invitation to EXCLUSIVE, behind the scenes events and dinners during the post-production and festival run of the film. "Additional Funding By" end CREDIT (topmost, single column) in all versions of the film, theatrical and digital. ANY or ALL perks available at lower reward levels.Estimated delivery: Sep 2012
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2 backers Limited (3 of 5 left)
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER: Optional opening credit in all versions of the film as an Associate Producer and in the film's IMDB entry. Two SEATS to any (and all) public (and private) screenings of the film, if arranged in advance (travel not included). ACCESS to the Producers and the Director, even if you ever just want to call and chat about Dock. Limited Edition, signed and numbered, framed canvas giclee featuring a full color portrait of Dock Ellis by Celebrity Sports Artist Kevin-John. One item of memorabilia SIGNED by Dock Ellis from the filmmaker's collection (choices vary based on availability). PERSONAL invitation to EXCLUSIVE, behind the scenes events and dinners during the post-production and screening run of the film. ANY or ALL perks available at lower reward levels.Estimated delivery: Sep 2012