Skip to content

Shit Happens

I have something in common with Brett Pill, the San Francisco Giant who recently put a mild spark into what has been an otherwise difficult season for the team by hitting a home run in his first major league at bat. I, too, homered in my first at bat while playing Wii Baseball with my nephew Peyton the other week. All similarities to Pill, who also went deep in his second big league game, ended there. Apparently Wii, like Major League pitching, catches up quickly. I spent the bulk of my subsequent plate appearances swinging and whiffing with a small plastic device in hand. Peyton was kind enough to follow up with an email detailing my pitch by pitch statistics. As a kid it seems you can’t look much stupider than when fanning air on a Little League field with a 31 ounce aluminum bat. This realization holds firm until middle age when you find yourself doing the same with a 90 gram Wii remote in hand in your brother’s living room.

I saw both California hills and Wii third strikes on my most recent trip out west. I’d paid little attention to the song Here In California until hearing Dave Alvin cover it a few years back. My long-time friend Anne O’Toole used to speak of it in connection to her move from Boston to San Francisco. It was written by Kate Wolf, and back then I likened any female singer warranting Anne’s approval to Joni Mitchell, figuring they’d only serve to increase my already burgeoning sense of self-loathing as a young male. The song, of course, has nothing to do with any of this, and instead references the mounting burden of perspective that comes with age. Here in California, the fruit hangs heavy on the vine / There’s no gold; I thought I’d warn ya, and the hills turn brown in the summertime. Anne, to her credit, saw beyond the brown to deepening gold and amber, and likened this adjustment to an increasing appreciation for her new home. That home, like Wolf’s, would shift once again north of San Francisco to Sonoma County – the place to go if you want to understand those hills and the synchronous contradictions of beauty and death. They’ve also got some decent bed and breakfast joints. I’ve mentioned all of this before, of course. Life, I’ve decided this week, isn’t about coming up with new stuff, but rather better ways of putting old stuff and then using it to transition. Sports writers write about the same old game, novelists deconstruct familiar arcs, and girls text used messages about new boyfriends. Nothing much changes except polar ice caps, hairlines and perspective.

Never Forget. Some genius re-coined this phrase roughly ten years ago yesterday as essential mantra in the wake of September 11, 2001. Not that I could do better. Nobody’s lining up for my beautifully contradicting bullshit either. As any dude will tell you, never underestimate the potency of the brevity thing. His stuck and mine didn’t, end of story. But I’m still not ready to award the sublimity trophy to a two word suggestion urging mindful recollection in the wake of colossal tragedy. I know where I was that day and what I was doing. I sincerely believe that the scope and sequence of events led to changing the view outside my window from Sutro Tower in San Francisco to lower Manhattan and the spot where two other towers once stood. But my own few-word reminders are more selectively relevant and applicable to a personally privileged position. Lighten Up. Let It Go. And while I can’t claim personal ties to those who fell that day, I know I make unconscious, thoughtful connection frequently, particularly while standing on my roof. What all of it means – how they ended up there, me here, or anybody anywhere – is one of those questions best left alone. I’m still working on how to hit a Wii curve ball.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *