Borrowing from John Steinbeck, who borrowed it from Shakespeare, it’s been the summer of my discontent. Even the weather. Until just this week, August was more like “June Gloom.”
Politically, it’s been the summer of unruly mobs at Town Hall meetings, Teabaggers, and Birthers. Their latest theory is that Hawaii wasn’t legally a state. Can you say “cuckoo?”
Last week Republicans ripped Obama for his Martha’s Vineyard vacation, ignoring that their guy set the presidential vacation record. Like after the Aug. 6, 2001 PDB “Bin Laden Determined to Attack in U.S.” With a “what, me worry” demeanor, W. split for Crawford. Hey, there was brush to clear!
So, no health care reform, and the wars drag on at $3 billion a week ($5 trillion price tag by the time we leave, if we ever leave). October will mark eight years in Afghanistan, aka “where empires go to die.”
Alexander the Great, Genghis Kahn and the Russians all failed ignominiously in Afghanistan. George Santayana, the Harvard poet, wrote “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Yogi Berra wrote, “It feels like déjà vu all over again.”
With all this grim news, at least the Dodgers are still in first place. (How’s that for a segue?)
Last Thursday I went to the Dodgers game against the Cubs. (Russell Martin hit a grand slam homer to win it.) Unfortunately, the Dodgers have been on a downward spiral since the All-Star game and have been worse since Manny’s return. Not good.
Thankfully the boys in blue won Thursday afternoon 3-2 to take the series from the surging Rockies.
I went to the Cubs game with my neighbors Robin, Colleen, Oscar, (Colleen’s service dog) and Alan, Colleen’s friend’s 60-year-old brother who’s developmentally disabled. Like “Rain Man,” Alan has a vast amount of information but instead of Judge Wopner, it’s “The Lawrence Welk Show.” That night I learned way more than I ever wanted to know about Lawrence Welk, the polka potentate.
As we were stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic two things dawned on me. How come there’s no mass transit to Dodger Stadium? And is there anything I’m less interested in than Lawrence Welk?
The Hollywood Bowl, which seats 1/3 of Dodger Stadium, has 10 buses going from the Westside. The Dodgers said that the city used to provide two bus lines but stopped in 1992 due to budget cuts. Not very green, Mayor Villaraigosa
Meanwhile Alan wasn’t nearly through with Lawrence Welk trivia. The show apparently began in 1951 and ran until 1982. It originated from the long since demolished Aragon Ballroom in Ocean Park where they performed before crowds of 7,000.
It’s been years since I’ve been to Chavez Ravine. After the tedious one-and-a-half-hour commute, I remembered why. But, as we pulled into the parking lot, we saw the sun setting softly on the tree-lined Elysian Hills, the San Gabriel Mountains beyond and through the sky duster palm trees that surround the stadium. It brought back a flood of wonderful memories, and plenty of heartache (for older Dodgers fans, two words: Jack Clark).
Opened in 1962, Dodger Stadium is the third oldest park in major league baseball, behind Boston’s Fenway and Chicago’s Wrigley, built in 1912 and 1914 respectively. I learned this from Wikipedia. From Alan I learned about Myron Floren, Mary Lou Metzger and the Lennon sisters.
With a spectacular view of Downtown Los Angeles, Dodger Stadium is a landmark. Andy, a heart surgeon friend, and architecture buff, calls it, “A masterpiece of mid-century modernism.” Slightly more pedestrian, I love the handy cup holders on the back of the seats. Plus, there are pastrami sandwiches and matzo ball soup at Dodger Stadium now, courtesy of Canter’s Deli!
Our seats were in “Mannywood Adjacent,” across from the left field bleachers. Manny works the crowd like a Vegas lounge performer. Every warm-up between innings, he tossed the ball to the clamoring fans. Now that he’s off steroids, I worry that may be the only way Manny’s going to get a ball into the stands.
We all had a great time, especially Oscar who nearly inhaled his Dodger dog. Thrilled, Alan repeatedly reminded us that he had predicted that Martin would hit a home run. (But it beat hearing about Lawrence Welk.)
The Dodgers are in first by four games. I’d pray if I thought that would help them win the division but, as an atheist, I don’t imagine I have much pull. I’ll say this: if they don’t win at least the wild card, with apologies to Shakespeare and Steinbeck, it really will be the summer of my discontent.
Jack can be reached at Jackneworth@yahoo.com. Teddy Kennedy, R.I.P.