Sunday, May 28, 2006

Why I Stay at the SF

My wife is out of town this weekend, and yesterday my diet consisted of corn dogs, chocolate chip cookies and Jack Daniels whiskey, a combination that is more or less the nutritional equivalent of a drive-by shooting.

I miss my wife. Symbiosis has become fusion. You've heard about how a body may miss an amputated limb, painfully aware of its absence.

Imagine how the limb feels.

Still, I was able to keep busy. Spent the early afternoon at the USF-Pepperdine baseball game, which would have propelled my beautiful Dons into the NCAA post-season had the Dons won. We were trounced 11-0, but it is a three-game set, and since mbD had won the first game, if we win today on on on we go, one step closer to Omaha and the College World Series.

Making the NCAAs would be a cross-promotional platform for the university, so I am all for it. Athletics are not the tail wagging the dog at USF -- not yet and not even close to it. We can live with a little athletic success. (If you remember the 19th Century cult of muscular Christianity, raise your hand.)

The university has a pretty little ballfield on the east edge of campus. Left field backs up to Golden Gate avenue, and during the third inning a fire department hook and ladder pulled up. The firemen climbed up on the truck and watched the game for a while. Also, we have some kind of small-needle evergreens in foul territory, pretty big guys going a hundred feet, and occasionally a foul ball would go splashing through the branches.

College baseball uses aluminum bats, of course. They produce a hateful sound, a kind of clink that sounds like empty bottles jostling together. I haven't watched enough college ball to develop an ear for the sound bat makes on ball as the preamble to a long home run. Maybe that would build a more positive association.

I wanted to taunt Pepperdine for its association with Ken Starr, who tormented Bill Clinton to so little purpose, and is now dean down there at Pepperdine's law school to the mutual disgrace of all parties involved. But there was no bad sportsmanship -- no gibes, quips or taunts. Indeed, the cheering was rather bloodless, some of the crowd cheering numbers -- "Go get 'em 44" -- rather than names, as if the fans lacked confidence in their powers of pronunciation.

But I'm glad I didn't get personal. After the game, I wandered back of home plate at the same time the Pepperdine team came off the field after the Pepperdine coach had gathered them around out on the edge of the outfield grass either to praise, advise or give them each a dinner coupon for Jack in the Box.

The Pepperdine starting pitcher came through the gate and immediately gave a woman who looked like his mom a big hug, and then an older man, a real working-class looking guy with some shine on his hair and a little bit of a stomach, came over.

I had been told earlier this guy was the pitcher's dad.

The pitcher didn't hug him. He just cocked his head to the side and said not very loud, "How are you feeling?"

And the older guy said not very loud, "That was the best medicine."

So either there's a story there or it isn't. I take that back. There is always a story, young people.

Then my friend who was doing the game on Fox Sports TV came down from the press box, and we went for a few drinks at Liverpool Lil's next to the Presidio, the old army base that looks more like a gated community, where George Lucas has created a "campus" I believe the developers call it.

We talked about his being a sports broadcaster. (He also teaches in our MA program in Sports Management. Damn, we are a wise educational investment.)

The part about his job that always interests me -- because between conversations I forget it -- is that his producer in the truck is always whispering in his ear, like a conscience or a friendly ghost. I don't know why no one has marketed that idea as a personal service. Just mike people up so people who are good at such things as winning arguments or asking for raises can listen in from the van parked in the alley when you are talking with the dean or arguing curriculum in department meetings. Me, I am always alternating between silence and intemperance in situations like that. I could use a murmur in my ear tweaking my judgment.

And after those lovely drinks -- carefully spaced for maximum sobriety -- home for more corn dogs and cookies and then back to the city to listen to Charlie Haden and Quartet West as part of the San Francisco Film Noir Festival, jazz being the hydraulic fluid of film noir.

Magnificent set. Like Sam Spade said, "This is the stuff dreams are made of."

In this case, sweet dreams. It was one of those nights that cause you to flatter yourself for living here. Moving north on Van Ness avenue, you had the symphony playing at symphony hall, across the street a hundred feet away the opera performing at the opera and another couple hundred feet along you had Herbst Theater inside one of the War Memorial Buildings where Charlie Haden and his aging jazzmen were playing. A block away in front of City Hall the opera was being televised on a big screen, and an audience of a thousand or so sat on the grass and watched and listened for free.

As I walked back to BART -- "the subway" for those of you playing at home -- with the opera echoing off the buildings around City Hall's plaza, a bum stumbled past muttering something, though whether he was cursing or reprising an aria I could not say.

Monday addendum: The Dons lost yesterday but are going to the NCAAs anyway. The team will play Miami in the Urban Climate Bowl. What you will have weather-wise is a big-city team from a steamy tropical paradise against a big-city team from a foggy Mediterrean paradise. The game will be in Lincoln, Nebraska. It will be tough. Miami will have the plus on dealing with heat and humidity. When it comes to culture shock, it's a push.

1 comment:

david silver said...

indeed, there is always a story.

taken together - except for, perhaps, the two rounds of corndogs - sounds like a great day.