I Don’t Care If I Never Get Back

Getting excited for my summer. Oh boy oh boy it’s only three weeks away!

I’ve been asked to do some stupid shit I don’t want to do over the summer but even so I will still have a million miles of freedom before me. FREEDOMMMM I can not wait to read this stack of books and get back into all the stuff I want to write. This book stack is epic, it now includes Veblen, Nussbaum, Harvey x2, a William Godwin anarchy reader, a book about experimental art, and some Kafka. “I’m Lovin’ It”—McDonalds

I’m excited to read this Veblen. One thing I have been surprised to learn is that Veblen was FUNNY. I never think these people are going to be funny but then they often are. When people are funny they can not suppress it fully no matter how dour their field; tis a human truth. Also I do think there is something inherent in the act of cultural criticism that brings out this kind of absurdist embrace of the madness of the world; everything starts seeming hilarious in kind of a nihilistic way, which of course you also have to fight against because nihilism can so quickly become cowardice and sloth.

People Who You Maybe Didn’t Know Were Funny:
Wagner (unintentionally)

I think when the serious Germans are funny it is funniest. Weber’s epic screed about how Ben Franklin wasn’t even a proper Puritan but just a “bland deist”! and when he says all of Franklin’s writings on common sense would have been taken as expressions of “the most filthy greed” in every past era of human history. HA HA HA. Although, I read those parts aloud to my grad students and they didn’t laugh, so maybe my idea of what counts as “funny” has become twisted by all this crazy shit I read. Lord

Anyway but also summer also does feel like a real vacation and I will never pretend otherwise, my solemn pledge to you. Summer is I think when the real gifts of living in rural New England rear their heads. Life is slow and easy. There are no lines for brunch even when you go at 11:00 on a beautiful Sunday. Similarly, if on a blazing July Saturday you think “hey, lets go to the river and take a little swim,” whereas in a river-adjacent metropolis this would be madness because (a) the river is radioactive and/or (b) at said river there will surely be 500 sunburned bros flinging footballs with one hand and eating ten hot dogs at once with the other hand while screaming “bro” at each other, here it is not a wild idea at all, in fact one simply heads over to the river and finds there either no one or like two nice ladies dipping toddlers into the cool water and chatting. One walks alone through the whispering fields of tall summer weeds and emerges on the cool banks of the river where one can paddle at one’s leisure, nary a hot dog bro in sight. No offense to hot dog bros, they’re just trying to get through this life like everybody else.

Anyway it’s nice. Everything is chill, all the little ice cream stands staffed by high schoolers open up, the farmers markets start popping off, a local farmer emails you saying she’ll sell you 40 pounds of gross tomatoes so you can can them, and even though it’s 90 degrees and so humid you can’t breathe you’re able to freaking RELAX a little bit. Make a fire and sit outside at night slappin’ mosquitos, as our forefathers did and their forefathers before them.

We are going to go to a lot of minor league baseball this summer also. We went to a game last weekend and it was really fun, probably the most consistently engaged/interested I’ve been in a sports game in my life. Gary has decided to get really into baseball all of a sudden, specifically regional AA baseball, and he ordered a $30 book of scouting reports on all the players that he reads constantly and now this subject comprises 90% of his conversational topics and I’m learning a lot but also sometimes I have to say “I can’t talk about baseball anymore,” and he is always respectful of my limits in this regard. He gets up every morning and watches game highlights; I’m in my office right now listening to the crack of the bat/roar of the crowd as he wanders around the house watching it on his phone.

One thing he does to helpfully facilitate my interest in the game is sincerely engage with all my non-game-related questions just about the culture and trivia history of baseball; he also collects fun trivia or crazy things that happen during games so he can tell me about them. I will never forget when I asked him off-handedly if a bird had ever swooped down and been hit by a baseball and he showed me the video of Randy Johnson annihilating that poor seagull. Suddenly I realized: anything is possible in baseball! Now I want to know EVERYTHING. Last night I asked if anyone had ever been killed during a major league baseball game and he googled it and we got really sad because there’s only been one, and it was in the 1920s, and he got hit in the head by a pitch and died, and because of that they changed the rules about scuffing up the ball and getting it dirty, which until then had been the norm for pitchers because it made the ball hard to see and hit. Apparently this guy just stood there while a 90 mph fastball crunched into his skull, because he couldn’t see it. So he died, and the pitcher who killed him played nine more seasons, and also was involved in a scandal wherein he was accused of throwing the World Series.

Knowing my penchant for non-game-related trivia, he tricked me the other night and I’m still mad about it. He came home all excited to tell me that a BALD EAGLE had swooped in and LANDED ON A PLAYER DURING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM. I absolutely freaked out but when he showed me the video it turned out it was a tame eagle that was there for a publicity stunt, and it just briefly got loose and hopped up onto the guy. I was and remain furious; that was NOT was I was led to believe had occurred.

Other questions I asked during the game:
– has a dog ever gotten loose and run out onto the field and then all the players are chasing the dog and the dog is loving it and running wildly and the crowd is cheering? (“I don’t know. Probably”)
– Has a player ever proposed to his girlfriend on the big screen like audience members do? (“Yes”)
– Has a player ever hit an umpire with the bat in a rage? (“Surely not. It would mean an assault charge. Plus it would be disrespectful to the bat”)
– Does the ball ever hit the catcher in the nuts? (“All the time, but they all wear cups”)
– Is catcher a really scary position? (“Oh my GOD yes”)
– When did they start putting up this huge net behind home plate (“I don’t know”); probably it had to wait until the invention of plastic (“that seems right”); same with batting helmets (“right”)
– Has someone ever accidentally let go of the bat while swinging and it flies into the crowd and hits someone? (“I’m sure”)
– Has someone ever accidentally let go of the bat while swinging and the bat flies all the way across the outfield and into the stands and it counts as a home run? (“What? No of course not”)

One thing I was asking about at the game was how is it possible for a player to steal home base? Both Gary and the stranger sitting next to us assured me that it was not only possible but fairly common. I couldn’t picture how it could be done; third base is so far from home plate, and the pitcher is standing there holding the ball looking RIGHT AT where you’d be running. So last night he put together a best-of reel of guys stealing home plate and it’s really amazing, like wizard magic. The runner comes out of NOWHERE; you just hear the crowd suddenly scream and then he’s just there, already at home plate. The pitcher literally watches it happening, throws the ball home, and somehow the guy either makes it there BEFORE THE BALL (!!!??) or because the whole “oh shit somebody’s stealing home” thing throws the pitcher/catcher off their intensely calibrated telepathic focus the ball goes wildly off somewhere and the catcher has to fumble for it and the guy slides in with a fraction of a centimeter to spare. It is truly very exciting, and the look of sorrow on the pitcher’s face is a sight to behold. Verily, for ‘twas I not looking RIGHT AT HIM as he stole home in front of my very face?! And then the runner walks off the field like “NBD” and everyone slaps him on the butt.

At the game we were sitting right behind home plate, and at one point the catcher did actually get hit in the nuts by the ball. It was extremely thrilling. The ball smacked him, the crowd went OOOH! The guy sank slowly and silently to his knees, bowed his head, and clenched his fist on his upper thigh, mastering his pain using only his mind. The crowd sighed. The umpire stood over him quietly. It was like a Renaissance painting. Then he unclenched his fist, and very slowly and precisely traced the whole palm of his hand in a big arc in the dirt, then stood up and everyone clapped. High drama! That was my favorite moment by far.

Anyway so I guess I am into baseball now

I google image searched “catcher getting hit in the nuts” and it’s a real cavalcade of misery, I recommend it. Those guys sure work hard for their money

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One Response to I Don’t Care If I Never Get Back

  1. Stephanie says:

    Hey hello, it’s Stephanie, I’m responsible for some of your ACE BOOK RECS, not just Halldor Laxness but also Canada by Richard Ford, which, may I remind you, you also loved. [looks down modestly and rubs right toe in the dust]. I’m so happy you liked them both – even though I don’t even know you, it is still just so fun to share books you love. I’m going to go off and have a think for a few more and will comment them at you….

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