Monday, October 11, 2010

Who's on First?

I didn't plan on passing the sign, Oakland Tribune News, the sign above a newstand,

on my way to an airport bar late on a Thursday night.  There's an important game happening across the bay in San Francisco, and here I am in a crappy bar with faux slate surrounding good bottles of tequila.

But, hell, in the final-final?  My first trip to New York will trump listening to the game.

Besides, there's a telly right there, and one of the three guys taking up space on the stools sees me standing there and in a show of good baseball/bar etiquette, he grabs his satchel off one of the stools and gestures for me to take a seat. 

They don't have a lot of great whiskey - did I mention this is a crappy bar?  Crappy in the sense that all airport bars are crappy.  Anyway.  I'm drinking Maker's, over.  A double because why not?

The guys on either side are also headed to NYC, white dude and an Asian dude.  An hispanic dude next to him.  And me, a Greek dude.  Baseball, she is nothing if not a pleasant shore, comforting for any and all huddled masses.

The game goes well.  There's a freaky little Giant on the mound for the good guys, and he's breaking strikeout records all over the place,

until he strikes out the last bad guy, and so the good guys win.

That's about the time I break out my Moleskin notebook to jot some things down, and the placeholder I find inside is a ticket from our Spring Training game this year, Giants vs. Angels.  The bad guys prevailed that time.  But that was then, this is now.

At the store this morning, I was talking about taking the red-eye tonight, and a customer said, Where are you flying?  And I said, New York.  And he said, I'll see you tonight, then, because I'm on it too.

And when I see that guy tonight, after the good guys won, I realize he's a neighbor - flying with his wife and daughter.  So we make pleasantries, and then I get to board.  I'm the first one on the plane.  Which is a first in-and-of-itself.  And if I were superstitious, I would say that bodes well for the good guys and their chances in these playoffs.  And no, I can't tell you why my boarding first should have anything to do with the good guys finishing first, it just does, ok?  

So I sit there and nod to my baseball compatriots, the guys from the bar, as they file past.  And all I remember from the flight is the nerdy little guy showing me how to buckle my seat belt, and he says, It should be low and tight under your waist - then just pull the tongue to make it tighter.  And all I can think is, Are you fucking kidding me?  I can barely make the thing connect as it is - it ain't going any tighter.

In other news, my mistake, I realize now, was waiting for the lights to go down before I turned on my reading light.  I had a fabulous copy of a not-yet-released novel, The Oracle of Stamboul, that I was looking forward to, but when I turn on my light, the guy next to me kind of winces.  That's awful bright, he said.

I should have been in full New York mode and said, Too bad.  Instead, I went all California on him and just turned the light off.

So, New York.  I know there are two things I want to do.  Ellis Island.  See where it all started for my Papou George.  And I want to visit the Dakota, where Lennon lived.  I dunno, just seems appropriate.  Since he sorta wrote the soundtrack to so many lives, mine included, I'm thinking it's important to see, is all.


  1. On the 9th, I was thinking an awful lot about the feeling I had discovering the Beatles in 1980. I felt like I finally was rooting for a winning team, after giving my heart to the Giants and 49ers. My first taste of feeling like I belonged to a community. I think we talked about this at the time. And then that night in early December, putting my copy of Rock and Roll Music Volume II (budget priced!) on the counter at the Warehouse, only to be told the unbelieveable news by the hippie clerk. Got home, and Howard Cosell confirmed it on the TV. Got to school in the morning. Remember what was spray-painted on the wall?

  2. I Read The News Today.

    Regrets, I have a few. One is not snapping a pic of that graffito that morning. I've told this story often. Cosell telling me. That clerk telling you. In my version, you were buying the Red Album. So I'm glad to know the truth.

    I think you asked me, in all seriousness, who my favorite Beatle was. Had I not answered correctly, I do believe the friendship would've been stillborn.

    I was going to tell these exact stories in a New York post, but you beat me to it!

  3. Sorry. Can other people read this?!