April 21, 2012

Baseball Wins

This is the video they play at Sox park before every home game. It doesn't really pick up until almost 2 minutes in, but if you're a Sox fan every second counts for something, especially all the years of being #2 in the heart of the city because most Chicagoans seem to like the idea of losing and back the Cubs. But I've talked about that before & it isn't my point. God bless the Cubs and their fans. They've been making the Sox look good for a century.

But what's happened to me, and not just because it's baseball season, is that baseball has won the game. Football, which used to be my sport (and I still will never abandon the Bears), has lost me. The obligatory celebrations after a touchdown, sack, tackle, run, step, good posture or successful snot blowing; the overdone hype where the pregame show is as long as the game; and the fact that most of the time you're not really watching anything more than advertisements and meetings punctuated by ten seconds of extreme violence. Then we go back in the huddle and have another meeting.

You have to be tall to play basketball, big fast and mean to play football, and old to play golf. But any body type can play baseball. Plus you know the rules. If you were born in America, whether you are a man or a woman, you know how to play it. Because it's our game. It's in the genes.

I appreciate the fact that you can lounge at the ballpark. You can have conversations. You can lunch and not have to scarf. And yet, like last Thursday, your team can be behind in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded and you'll still get that sports fix thrill while your guys try and tie up the game. And in baseball, nobody steps away from the other players and does a dance when they field a routine grounder. If you put football's celebrations onto a baseball diamond you'd see just exactly how stupid it is for someone to wildly celebrate a routine move. I watch the modern football player celebrate making a routine tackle and I think to myself "there is a young man who, as a child, was told again and again by his doting parent(s) that he never does anything but shine." Lookit me, even if we're down 30-3. I just did my job.

There is a history for baseball going back into the 19th century. And the accomplishments of players today are measured against the accomplishments of players who were already dead 100 years when the current crop was born. And yet, outside of a handful of rules that alter the details but not the essence, it is essentially the same game as it always was. If you take a fan from the era of Ty Cobb say, in the early 1900's, and magically plunk him down in a modern game today, he will know exactly what is going on. Because the game's truths are immutable. Man on first = hit behind the runner. The eternal verity.

If you call yourself a patriotic American, then you have to understand that baseball was with us every step of the way. Kids were playing a form of it in the early 1800's, so it is recorded. If you are a rebel then baseball is yours because football is the domain of the brute thug class of our fellow countrymen; dumb, thick and conservative. I love George Carlin's take on the difference. One game is pastoral, the other is a technological state of war.

I love it that people from Britain hate it. As if baseball gives a shit.

Other stuff that's cool about baseball?
1. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the late 40's after a century of the "gentleman's agreement" banning black players. He's a hero to the wider black community in this country... and backed Republicans as a voter because, he felt, the real idea is self-sufficiency.
2. We could find a softball and a bat and go play seven innings right now. Throw a football around and we're all finished after a couple plays.
3. The deadball era...


4. You can always come back to the game. It remembers you. You won't know what I'm talking about until you go to a game again. I'll still enjoy football. I'll love it even if the Bears do well. But baseball wins. That's just all there is to it.
Don't forget this little gem... (hit the PLAY NOW link to avoid the stupid commercial). better study up on baseball.

April 13, 2012


I have 44 submissions sitting there unread in my Thrice box for issue 5. I'm thinking of just having pictures in the next issue. Maybe we'll make a comic book. We have great art in our magazine but I haven't heard one word spoken about the writing. Nothing. Oh well, in law silence gives consent.

NewPages and Review Review have notified me that they have the advance copies and there will be published reviews... some time.

I'm on vacation for the next eleven days. I have a list of things I want to accomplish around the house. The evenings will be spent going through these submissions and trying to do something of my own once in a while.

I really love baseball. You can sit there and watch the old 19th-century game and not have to bother with anybody.

Easter was okay. I spent most of the day avoiding the three drunks in the garage. We celebrate the Jesus dude rising from the dead with shots and beers and race jokes and humor at the expense of missing relatives who are in trouble. Doesn't pay to be a no-show at our parties. I spent most of my time watching the last round of the Masters, and I can't STAND golf. So that should tell you right there how that day went.

I've written myself a strict schedule for my vacation week. Did I mention I have a lot of work to do around the house? Painting, straightening, cutting, digging, fixing. I should have been a monk. An aesthete. A hermit. I like having a strict schedule so I can keep from falling apart.

That's all I got.

April 03, 2012

Splain These Lyrics Willya?

I've written before about what Motown meant to me in high school. Saved my life, at one critical point really. And helped get me get my act back together after a rough patch. And I love it still. But that doesn't stop the occasional enigmas. Like for example on a couple tunes it's like I'm hearing the lyrics for the first time. And it's the same with this group, the Stylistics. It's a catchy hook and kind of urban so if you just go with it it has a definite groove going on.

But the other day I downloaded it to my iPod and listened... I mean really listened to it. And, like a couple others I'm hearing for the "first time," I'm not getting it at all.

It starts out with this safe kind of Bert Bacharat (or however you spell him) / Dionne Warwick vibe. Sort of people in their older twenties, 1960-ish, sophisticated whatever the hell. It like steals a whole riff from one or the other of their songs. Then the words get... odd.

Here's what I mean, plus my notes...

Trashmen didn't get my trash today
Oh, why? Because they want more pay
<---ok not so bad, urban stuff
Buses on strike want a raise in fare
So they can help pollute the air
<---um, mass transit reduces smog

But that's what makes the world go 'round <--- Just the bad stuff?
The up and down's a carousel
Changing people's heads around
Go underground, young man
<--- wait... WHAT??
People make the world go 'round <--- is that good or bad??

Wall Street losin' dough on ev'ry share
They're blaming it on longer hair
<--- it's true. you had to be there
Big men smokin' in their easy chairs
On a fat cigar without a care
<--- not if shares are going down. Um...

But that's what makes the world go 'round
The up and down's a carousel
<-- but where's the UP?
Changing people's heads around
Go underground, young man
<--- Yeah but... wtf??
People make the world go 'round

See what I mean. Something isn't jiving. You have this cool, pleasant, slick thing going on but the words are basically, you know, "go underground and fight the powers that be because, you know, the people that make the world go 'round are bad and smoke cigars. Or something."

I'm lost. I mean I like this a lot (and Spike Lee used it beautifully as the opening for the movie "Crooklyn" too!), but I'm scratching my head.

Listen for yourself...

April 01, 2012

Pack Rat

I don't know how it is I end up being such a pack-rat, aka slob. Just spent the better part of the evening straightening up my office and carted a full regular-sized garbage bag downstairs for the Monday trash.

  • Catalogs for stamp auctions I participated in and are OVER (again, I'll brook no ridicule that I collect stamps. I can live off them for a while if worse ever comes to worse. So wimp this, sucker).
  • Bits and sheets and napkins and notebook rip-outs I've used to write things on for stuff I am currently or want to eventually write. Worse because they've already long ago been put into the work and I don't need them any more.
  • More bits and sheets and napkins and notebook tear-outs I've used to give numerical values to baseball players for fantasy leagues, horse racing figures and notes I'll use for going to the OTB. Worse because I've used all the info already (and am ahead for the year, horse racing-wise).
  • Notes I've written to myself LAST YEAR about music I want to add to my holy iPod.
  • Recipes I've already transferred to my recipe book a long time ago, for Chrise sakes.
  • Unattended sheets from the tear-off daily calendar on my desk. Dude, seriously?
  • Plus all the usual whatnot.

    Then there's the stuff I keep for whatever reason and just needed to organize.

  • My collection of anarchist publications and brochures which were all over the place. Including my correspondence with Fred Woodworth.
  • A list of places I'd rather be living in than the USA. I put this is my journal. Yes I keep a journal and, no, none of that ever sees the light of day here. Then I threw it away because I already know where I'd go if I ever could, because I love America but can't stand Americans. So never mind.
  • Movie and TV show CD cases that have been separated from their disks, plus the disks that wind up here and there. It's a pet peeve of mine - CDs not returned to their cases. And I - as it turns out - am the biggest criminal in that regard.
  • Mail that should have been mailed last week.
  • The cards from the 1911 baseball season purchased from Strat-O a couple years ago which, in the wee hours of some mornings as I live this insane schedule, sometimes gets its schedule played and games recorded, solitaire, and ends up here and there. Ty Cobb's Tigers on top of a history of the Negro Leagues. Oh the irony!
  • My 3rd grade reading book that I found on Ebay and won. I have no idea why it is under the stack of New Yorkers I subscribe to. Nor do I understand how my model train parts catalog ended up under all the Thrice copies. Sheesh.
  • Not to mention the Minutes from Western Yearly Meeting I've been bringing home and never reading.
  • More whatnot, of the keeping variety.

    I look at this stuff and I wonder just who the hell I am sometimes. There's so much contradictory stuff.

    Not only that, but I still think Spike Lee's Malcolm X is one of the best American movies ever made. Here's a scene near the end just before the Nation of Islam guns him down...