Archive for August, 2008

Lean Pockets

I have had nothing but Lean Pockets and one grilled cheese in the last 3 days. What do you think of that?

I’m not saying I feel that great. I’m just saying. That’s all.

Travel is good

In the last two weeks I have:

1. Gone to Colorado Springs, where I saw my grandmother, hiked with my kids in the Garden of the Gods, ascended Pike’s Peek on a rickety train.

2. Perused a tiny bookstore in Durango, Colorado, where I found The Miracle Letters and talked to booksellers from the east coast who came to the southwest on vacation in 1993 and then bought mountain bikes, grew their hair long, and sat in meditation, and now it is 2008 and they are happy.

3. Climbed into Anasazi chapels with my kids. The chapels and their prevalence on Mesa Verdi made me think about architecture and what we value (and later I drove down the Las Vegas strip).

4. Walked the rim of the Grand Canyon, which is terrifying and awesome, even with 10,000 French tourists walking around me, wearing brightly colored bandannas.

5. Played in a pool with my kids that overlooked a Phoenix canyon. There were thunderstorms over the mountains. The sun went down.

6. After a great book event for the Henderson Writers’ Group in Las Vegas two days ago (where I met great people – Las Vegas writers and peeps from the local newspaper), last night I did a small signing at a Borders. There I met a UNLV real estate prof and city planner with whom I had all kinds of connection and a palmist who read my palm quickly and told me to let other people help me (I’m not sure how, but I’ll try) and then I drove back to the Stratosphere up the Strip where I was stuck in front of the New York New York casino, staring at a large but smaller statue of liberty, the sun fading orange over the large but smaller New York skyline, and I turned on the radio and heard myself being interviewed by the excellent Dave Berns on Nevada Public Radio. This is a good life.

The original Star Wars played on a TV during my meet and greet at Borders. It did not matter.

Morning in Las Vegas

Yesterday, I arrived in Las Vegas and immediately put on my running shoes and shorts and went to the fitness area here at the Stratosphere Hotel, Casino, Erotic Dance Performance Arena (Bitten, Vampire Erotica!), and Bar and Grill, and Buffet.  The fitness area is adjacent the swimming pool and I ran slow (on vacation I wasn’t able to hit it much) and watched an intergenerational, multi-ethnic spring break-style water and alcohol party.  “Look at me,” I thought.  “Instead of boozing and getting sunburned and smoking and falling in the pool, I’m running on a treadmill!  I am so happy!”  And then I thought about it for a moment or two and was a little bit lonely.

This morning however, after eating a delicious meal with members of the Henderson Writers Group, I am awake!  And alive!  And not illin from spring break-style water games!

I’m having a Starbucks in the Casino.

Morning in Las Vegas!

Morning in Las Vegas.  That’s the real color in here.

Meanwhile, Brett Favre ran a lap at training camp for messing up a snap.  Jets fans cheered.  Attendance at the Jets training camp is up exponentially.  I’m on Public Radio in Las Vegas tomorrow to talk about Miracle Letters, but will have a hard time not talking about Favre the whole time.

Favre again… what about transcendence?

Football is entertainment. It is not the military.

NFL management gets confused sometimes and forgets to properly balance organization and transcendence. Is football about efficiency? Yes. Some. Coaches who claim to want fun in camp tend to be out of a job the next season (see Ray Rhodes, Green Bay, “Camp FUN,” 1999). Organization, towing the line, discipline, all of that is important to football. “Doing it the right way,” we often hear.

How many Babe Ruths have there been? How many Michael Jordans? How many Dr. Js? How many players fill the stands, give whole populations entre into an organization’s culture (not just the local yocals), sell their jerseys all over the country and the world in masses? Very few. The Packers had one of THOSE guys.

Football is an entertainment business. Unless you’re a purest, you don’t want to see the BEST team, necessarily (Baltimore Ravens in 2000-2001? Come on! No way!), you want to see the most dynamic team and player. Do I want to watch Tim Duncan or Shaquille O’Neal (even an aged O’Neal)?  Do I want to watch Steve Young or Brett Favre?  Favre.  Hands down.  Transcendence moves fans, people.  It makes love.

How many transcendent players have there been in the NFC North (Central) in the last thirty years? Other than Favre, who has been around for half that time, who? Randy Moss might have been, but was too much of a jerk. Barry Sanders was incredible, but had no off-field personality to speak of. That leaves us with the Bears of the 1980s: Walter Payton, Jim McMahon, and The Fridge… all of them had something special that made people love or hate them (in Payton’s case, just love) (in the Fridge’s case, just for a year or so). Anyone else other than Favre in 30 years? Yes.  One.  Reggie White, Packer (we’ll get to that).

Have you ever seen a cheese head? Didn’t exist before Favre. The upswing in the Packers related to Favre made the cheese head.  Have you noticed players all over the NFL jumping into the stands after scoring touchdowns? The Lambeau Leap? Leroy Butler first did that for the first time back in 1993.  He did it after than transcedent Reggie White recovered a fumble and bumbled and stumbled for ten yards before heaving over to Butler who flew into the endzone and then up into the stands. Why did Reggie White come to Green Bay, a team that had been off the football map (geographically and emotionally) for decades? Transcendence knows transcendence.  Reggie wanted to play with that young Brett Favre kid, because he knew something special when he saw it. Favre is responsible for the Green Bay Packers as the nation knows them.  Favre IS the Packers.

Or, was. Yesterday, the first day they were available for order on NFL.com, the new Favre Jets jersey sold 3,200, a one day record. All summer, when Favre was “retired,” his Packer jersey was the top-seller on NFL.com (above Tom Brady and Tony Romo). Transcendence. Favre is a Jet now.

Ted Thompson? Mike McCarthy? They understand football operations. They’re good at it. But they don’t understand football. Even if Aaron Rodgers turns out to be okay (knowing his history, I believe he’ll be injured most of the year — Favre hasn’t missed a game since 1992), he will not be a Babe Ruth, a Michael Jordan, a Dr. J, or a Brett Favre.

Perhaps I will become a Cowboy now.

I’m pretty irritated!

Brett Favre and why he is instructive

In the face of all evidence to the contrary: death, sickness, injury, freezing cold, empty retirement, etc., he just keeps playing. Brett Favre is no Peyton Manning, a royal NFL legacy who piles up stats. He’s no technician like Tom Brady, a robot who piles up wins. Brett Favre transcends the Packers, the game, sport. He is John Wayne in The Searchers, compelled to move forward, bad or good, better than any other in theory, but flawed, fallible, capable of disaster as much as any kind of victory. Favre isn’t a football player. He’s a literary hero. And, as such, he seems like everyone else, you and me, instead of a public relations ironed out star. If we all fought every day as hard for what was important to us, failing half the time, but fighting on, this would be a different world.

And that’s just my first reaction to Favre going to the New York Jets.

In the meantime, check out The Miracle Letters tribute to Brett Favre.

The road

I am out there.  The kids and I were at Mesa Verde today, home of the Anasazi  Indians (and their incredibly cool, almost overwhelming, cliff dwellings — they seem faked, but I’ve been told they’re not).

We climbed a ladder into a dark, ceremonial pit, a Kiva… It made me sneeze (not out of disrespect).

At this particular dwelling, called Spruce Tree, I imagine by white people, as the Anasazi disappeared even before the white folks showed up, there were 7 Kivas, which are, apparently, ceremonial circles dug into the stone and covered up.  There must have been a Kiva for every 4 or 5 people who lived in the cliff dweller apartment building.  That’s a lot of church to go around.  That fact, so much church, made me think of Joseph Campbell and Carl Gustav Jung.  They both said something about the loss of a functioning religion in western culture and the prevalence of youth culture that follows.  Did you know that?

Jung: It happens sometimes that I must say to an older patient: “Your picture of God or your idea of immortality is atrophied, consequently your psychic metabolism is out of gear.”

Mr. Jung says that statistics show a rising level of depression as people approach forty in western countries, because we want to be young and try to be young, but, simply are not young and, without religion, we don’t know what the meaning of the rest of our lives is, so we try to be young, but it doesn’t work.

I turn 39 in October.  Happy birthday!

While there, at Mesa Verde, in the bookstore, I found a book of Hopi Indian myths and stories.  Since I was already thinking about Jung and Campbell (they both loved myth wherever and however they could find it), I bought the book.

It’s quite possible I’ll buy a turquoise ring and a Navajo saddle blanket tomorrow.  It’s hard to be at the beginning of something completely different.

That’s where I am.  And I shall act in a manner I’d have found embarrassing in the past if I want to.

Which one of these bearded fellows rides a bike?

A few months ago someone tried to steal the gas from my car.  They broke the lid on my tank, but couldn’t get in.  Last week, my neighbor Andy Sturdevant noticed his gas had been stolen in our parking lot.  Turns out, he hasn’t used his car in months, because he bikes or buses.

Look at these pinkos.

Praxis.  Putting values into action.  Andy bikes.  Yes.  Action.  Values into Action.