Archive for October, 2012

The Giants win the Pennant, er, the World Series..Again. Say Hey!

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

My ignoble or certainly undistinguished naval career began in San Francisco in December of 1974 after temporary assignments to the English Department at Annapolis and for 8 weeks of ‘I can neither confirm nor deny’ weapons training in San Diego. I started-off this service on the wrong foot and, true to form, continued marching in that direction for over four more years. Even when things went right, such as meeting Angela Nardo of the USO for coordination of a ship visit over Halloween ’75 by a couple of frigates of the Royal Canadian Navy, they usually pivoted as when I transferred suddenly to Hawaii having known Angela for only a few months. In the meanwhile, my sister moved to the Bay Area from high school graduation and was left by her brother with a full two weeks of notice, but, hey, I’d just met Angela!

Despite my too brief tour, I’ve felt a kindred spirit with the City and even the East Bay (my turf was Oakland) in ways that I could never relate to the Valley of computer fame even though I’ve returned there numerous times in nearly every job that I’ve held. San Francisco became a special place the minute that I crossed the Bay Bridge upon arrival and remains so every single time that I return. It retains its aura no matter how many Google-ites drift north or how many start-ups root south of Market Street.

Halloween was not the outrageous adult night out in the 1970s that it is today. Really! Sure there were costumes and Trick or Treat parties and M-80s for blasting pumpkins (so I’ve heard) and nothing like the Mardi Gras in October we experience today. Maybe it was because of the malaise that President Carter described. However, Halloween in San Francisco has always been a sort of national holiday except that many visitors cannot distinguish who is in costume and who is not on the other days and months of the year. If I say ‘Castro’ and you know what I mean then you know what I mean. Of course, the other hills, valleys, wharfs, squares and towns of the City have their casts and characters too. If I say ‘Orient Express’ and you know what I mean… same deal.

This is not a homage to the city nor a jaunt down memory lane – well, it is in a way. I think of the Giants and how they won the pennant having been down 0-2 to Cincinnati and 1-3 to the Cardinals. They won three straight versus the Reds (best of 5) and three in a row versus St. Louis before sweeping Detroit in four. Quite the feat for a weak hitting team whose best player was suspended for drug use (steroids) and whose two better pitchers had poor seasons (Lincecum and Zito). I thought that the Joe Montana and Bill Walsh 49ers epitomized the City with their atypical and clever brand of football. Theirs was a system of interchangeable parts making the utmost of the prevailing talent. It must be the air or the water or the Anchor Steam because the Giants play the same way. The pieces fit well together even though the roster of this year’s champions is a reformation from the 2010 Championship team.. the brainy and brawny Buster Posey excepted.

In the end, pitching is what matters and the Giants have plenty to spare. Come on, Lincecum in relief of Zito! Hit that in 36 degrees in Detroit. I’m happy for them and the City and all of their fans who miss its vibe because once you’ve felt it, there is no other place like it. And no matter what your station in life, SF fans are egalitarians. Just ask my buds at the Harris Teeter vegetable section and the Kiehls’s counter at Saks; neither one minds that I’m software sort.

What does this all mean in the bigger picture of modern life? I foresee Obama winning over Detroit Mitt. Not that Chicago is the Bay Area; more that the electorate is out of the mood for smash-mouth politics and related, extravagant spending. I sense that they’d like to see the Obama team pull it together, come from behind to win the election and force the other team to play a more cooperative, more imaginative style of ball the next four seasons.

Remembering Rob Schmidt with an Afternoon of Tennis Doubles

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Beautiful Saturday afternoon on October 13. Sixty plus of all sorts, ages and backhands filled 13 courts for fun-doubles. Rob would be pleased with the large number of junior, and often better, players who participated. His friends and college teammates sent souvenirs and Smileys for prizes. This event outdrew the Club’s Doubles Championship.

Memories fade fast as life must go on. Most of us are better for having known Rob; several of us are better as a result of his passing in an honest, forbidden sort of way. That energy is neither created nor destroyed is accurate even amongst humans. My recollection will be the curiosity of how loss can establish connection. Like, right!

Birth Order + Astrological sign and Maybe This.

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Recommended to me by a fellow Cancer; actually, a female. We try too hard to be perfect. Recognizing early that we are mortal, we retreat or attack. Often, our shame has us on the lookout for exclusion; often, our wish to give others what we seek, solitude, is interpreted as rejection (one of my own particular failings).

We should be nicer to, more accepting of ourselves if only because we have less influence on our behavior and modest futures than we are lead to believe.

Saul Steinberg, Alfred E. Newman, Amelia Earhart and the Joseph Strauss

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

I just didn’t want to lose these.

Mad Magazine and Johnny Carson supplied my irreverent laughs in those late grammar school and early high school years. In the modern time of Kindles and digital newspapers, it’s a charming memory to recall riding my bicycle with Spencer Hayman to the venerable New Orleans drug store, Katz&Besthoff, on Tuesdays, to purchase, I think for 12 cents, the latest edition of Sgt. Rock and Superman comics. How we would pore over each page. Oddly, I was never attracted to the offers of drawing lessons or Charles Atlas muscle building programs in the back of each issue. It’s a pleasant and comforting trip to the past to learn that Mad retains its singular, clever point of view even when its siblings such as The Onion appear faster and more hip.

At first, I thought that my connection to Ms. Earhart was my recollection of Apple’s Think Different advertising campaign of the late 90s. Much is expected of those to whom much is given; as well, I suppose, from those who achieve much. I think that the Mapgate furor is alot about a little, yet so seldom does Apple seem to stumble, stumble it does.

Now that I think about it, I do have tangential connection to Amelia Earhart. The proud ship, Joseph Strauss, DDG-16, anchored in Saipan in 1978 with yours truly as the navigating officer. In preparing for this visit, I became acquainted with a young lieutenant who commanded our Coast Guard station on this former battlefield of an island. His hobby was searching for and often finding artifacts of World War 2 including complete underground hospitals, rusted tanks and cases of 45 caliber pistols still coated in Cosmoline, MIL-C-11796C Class 3 for those in the market. He even established a decent sized museum for these artifacts all about the Loran Station’s grounds. One evening, as I asked for details about his discoveries – “I never go into the jungle without finding something,” he said- he offered that a persistent rumor about the island is that the Japanese kept Amelia Earhart prisoner here at the local jail. Of course, You Tube substantiates this supposition.

Having seen where 25,000 Japanese civilians committed suicide rather than surrender to our Marines, I can believe nearly any story about that island at that time.