Tuesday, February 11, 2014

He Was A 12

There was no way out.

We were trapped.

My left hand reached forward for the husband.  My right hand reached back for the teenage boy. 

My God, I thought. One wrong move and bad things could happen.

It was six thirty in the morning when he painted a bird on his face. 

He dressed carefully, layer by layer, each piece colorfully cementing his commitment to the cause.  As he walked to the train station he had to take a deep breath.  He needed some way to control the excitement bubbling in his blood.

When he arrived downtown it was a sea of blue and green as far as he could see. 

It was no surprise.
He knew they would show up.

The Seahawk 12s always showed up.  

He waited a long time for the team to come by.  But when they did he yelled as loud as he ever had.  He raised his arms and chanted with the crowd. His heart was pounding.  He thought this might be the greatest moment of his life.

He knew it was just a game.  But by God, these boys, these men, had managed to make him deliriously happy.  They had won the Superbowl.   He was sure he’d remember it forever.

He knew he was just one of thousands that day on the parade route.  He knew he was just a normal, average guy with a bird painted on his face.  But this football team? - They were inspiring. They had done something great.

The crush of people began as soon as the parade was over.  Within minutes the husband, the teenage boy and I were seized and engulfed. The pack tightened.  The choking crowd swayed as one.  The gridlocked individual was powerless as thousands of bodies pressed up hard and tight against each other.  The initially intoxicating and exhilarating experience of being a part of it all had taken a turn toward the frightening and alarming.

It was, without question, impossible to move.

I turned to find a man with a bird painted on his face bellowing over my head at the top of his lungs.  His belly pressed hard into my side, I could feel him take in another breath and bellow again, “There are little children here!  There are little children here!”

The crush of 12s turned their heads in real concern and looked toward the man with the bird painted on his face.

“Come on people! “ he firmly roared. “We are going to make some room!  We’ve got to get these little children out of here!"

Impossibly, the 12s pushed back and parted the sea of congestion.  Impossibly, a space was created. Impossibly a mother holding a baby and pushing a stroller with a toddler in it nervously made her way through the crowd.

The man with the bird painted on his face yelled again, “Good job people! Good job!   We don’t want anyone getting hurt-especially the little children.”

And with that the crowd closed in on each other.   

Again, it was impossible to move.

When the crowd finally broke free, I watched him walk away.  He thought he was just one of thousands that day on the parade route.  He thought he was just a normal, average guy with a bird painted on his face.  But this guy? - He was inspiring.  He had done something great. 

Check This Out!

Most of what I knew about Bruce Springsteen came from his Born in the USA years and the fact that my high school choir teacher was one of his biggest fans.

I have just finished the book Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin.  

A fairly honest account of Bruce's life and music, this book has caused me to become one of the Boss' obsessive superfans.  At least for now.  It's worth checking out, for sure.  It's no surprise he's still creating and touring. I recommend having some of his albums around while you are reading. Listening to the music the author is describing helped in understanding the book, and Bruce.  

I've become particularly fond of his early music, something I was fairly unfamiliar with before reading the book.  

One of my new favorites:   Prove It All Night

Friday, February 7, 2014

You Should Have Been Looking At My Boots

You saw avocados. 

You saw me pressing the avocados trying to find the perfect one.  You saw middle aged and mom jeans and the search for healthy monounsaturated fats.

 U shoulda been lookin’ at mah boots.

If you had seen my boots you would have heard the retro pounding of Judas Priest’s Rock Hard, Ride Free.  You would have felt the peculiarly brilliant words of George Saunders cut through your heart.  You would have tasted the beatnik in the Post Punk Kitchen recipe I was shopping for.  You would have seen all that and you would have wanted more.

But no.  You saw the avocados.  

You saw the brown rice and the Good Housekeeping and the fiber yogurt. You saw the coupons and the chamomile tea and the mundane.

You should have been looking at my boots.

The hipster man-boy coddled my emotions as a skilled young salesman would be expected to do with a 40-something woman who had wandered into that kind of store.   I had wanted to buy the boots since I was in 8th grade.  Budgets and rational thinking hijacked my intentions for 30 years.  But now I sat before this hipster man-boy and listened to his prophetic chattering about my dream boots.  He told me they would be too tight.  He told me they would hurt like heck.   He told me they would stretch out and then fit like a glove.

I felt like a joke when I put them on.  He assured me I didn’t look like a skinhead at all.

I was unsure and ready to walk out the door.  He was convinced and remained admirably committed to his ultimate goal.

He grabbed me with his eyes, smiled in a particularly charming way and slowly cooed,

“Trust me. 

They will be awesome.  

You will be transformed.

You. Will. Love. Them.”

The hipster was right.  The dream boots were a nightmare.  My feet were utterly overwhelmed with agony.  The Internet promised that my pedi-torture would eventually lead to a euphoric nirvana.  I didn’t know if I was strong enough to make it to that promised land.

But I did.

The agony eventually morphed into mere pain, traveled through mildly uncomfortable and landed solidly in the hipster’s predicted vision about my boots.

They were awesome.

I was transformed.

I. Did. Love. Them.

When I put on my boots that morning I became a rock star.  I became a poet.  I was a rebel.  I was a visionary.  I had secrets and darkness and a riot in my brain.  I had insight and intensity and inspiration in my blood.  My boots and I stormed into the store that day screaming at you.  We were bold and fearless and ready to conquer.

Yeah, you should have been looking at my boots. 

You would have seen all that.

But no.  You saw avocados.

Check This Out!

The New York Times believes that Tenth of December by George Saunders is the best book you will read this year.  

This collection of short stories is different.  It is provocative.   It will make you question.  It will make you think.  It will give you some serious book withdrawal when you are done.   You really should check it out.