god bless america for what

Oh lord, is this the land of the free? 
And can someone please explain this word called equality? 
’Tis the time for everyone to come to this country’s aid
And help repair the mess of this land that we’ve all made
You see kids are tired of growing up just to fight another war and singing God bless America
Unless they know, they know what for


throwback to the well a third time

I've told this story at least twice before, each time on June 6, which is the date when this singular event occurred. The first post came on June 6, 2004 ... it marked the 20th anniversary. I'll cut-and-paste with minor edits.

There were better years to be a Giants fan than 1984. Among the "stars" of that 1984 squad were the combo of Al Oliver and Scot Thompson at first base (Oliver, a newly-acquired, decent if overrated player, was 37 years old, and he hit an empty .298 with no walks and literally no homers before being traded away in August; Thompson was a career bench-warmer who was OK for the Giants in '84). There was a three-headed, hitless Hydra at second consisting of Manny Trillo, Brad Wellman and Duane Kuiper (two were past their prime, one never had a prime); outfielder Joel Youngblood at thirdbase (he made 36 errors in 117 games); and the immortal Johnnie LeMaster hitting .217 at shortstop. Jack "The Ripper" Clark got off to a terrific start at the plate, and he was in his prime, but then he got injured, only played in 57 games, and was traded before the next season began. The winningest pitcher on the team was Mike Krukow, who won 11 while losing 12 with an ERA a full run higher than the league average ... it was his worst season.

At the beginning of play on June 6, the Giants were buried in last place, with the worst record in baseball, having lost 2/3 of their games thus far. They had finished off May by losing the last four games of a road trip. Returning to Candlestick Park, they won once, then lost another five in a row, leading up to the events of June 6th. It was grey and drizzly that afternoon, and only 7635 fans showed up, one of whom was me, playing a little mini-hooky from work (I was working swing shift and would be showing up late that day). The Giants leadoff hitter was Johnnie LeMaster, for those who think Neifi Perez is the worst leadoff hitter in Giants history. The visiting Atlanta Braves, led by Dale Murphy, picked up a couple of early runs off of Giants starter Jeff Robinson, but then, miracle of miracles, the Giants loaded the bases with two singles and a walk, at which point, Bob Brenly hit a grand-slam homer to put the locals up, 4-2. (As punishment, the next time he batted, Brenly was hit by a pitch.)

This was as good as it got for Giants fans in those days. You wouldn't have had any problem figuring out that we were disgruntled, since some fans had taken to showing up to games wearing paper bags over their heads, as if to say they were too ashamed of rooting for the Giants to show their heads. And, sadly, it was as good as it got for the Giants that day, as well. As the water drizzled over our bodies (it never actually rained, so they never quit playing, but it was never anything less than wet), the Giants farted away the rest of the game. In the top of the ninth inning, Bob Watson doubled home Rafael Ramirez to tie the game, 4-4. And so the game went on and on and on ... 3 1/2 hours worth by the time it was all done, which was a lot in those days.

In the top of the 11th inning, with two outs, the Braves got a runner on via a Giants error, bringing up pitcher Steve Bedrosian, who in his entire career hit .098 (15 singles and 3 walks in 14 years constituting his entire offensive output, while he struck out 58 times in 153 at-bats). Bedrosian singled to put runners on 1st and 2nd. In a move that will sound familiar to current Giants fans, the Giants then intentionally walked Dale Murphy, far and away the Braves' best hitter, moving everyone up a base to load 'em up, bringing up lefty Chris Chambliss (the Giants pitcher by this point being another lefty, Gary Lavelle). Lavelle proceeded to walk Chambliss as well, giving the Braves the lead ... the Giants couldn't score in the bottom of the 11th, ending the game with strikeouts by Johnnie LeMaster and Chili Davis, and just like that, the Giants had their sixth consecutive loss.

Which was too much to bear for a fan in the upper deck. I used to know his name, but I've forgotten it over the years. He was mad ... well, we were all mad, except for those of us who were just beaten down by the awfulness of everything ... a team that had never won the World Series, in the midst of their worst season ever, losing game after game in ugly fashion ... all 7000 of us who had been sitting in the drizzle all afternoon long with nothing to show for it except wet clothing, and there was this guy in the upper deck, and he'd had enough. As the Giants dragged ass back to their clubhouse, this fan, who had placed himself in the upper deck just above where the Giants's dugout was located, started yelling at the players. And he was loud, he was pissed, and he knew a lot of cuss words. There weren't very many of us left at the game, so it wasn't hard to hear this guy as he lambasted the players for their pathetic performance, spicing his commentary with f-this and f-that. He apparently felt the need to get closer to the players, so he climbed onto the railing so he could lean over better ... and by that point, I was out of the park, hoping to get on the road so I could get to work without missing too much time. For that reason, I only know what happened next from news reports.

The fan leaned over the railing ... like everything else in the park by that point, the railing was wet ... he leaned over, he slipped, he fell to the bottom deck and died from the impact, which was so hard he splintered a chair, a piece of which flew in the air and knocked an old-timer unconscious.

I've always thought the fan's last words were probably "YOU SUCK!" And while no one should die like that, and I mean no disrespect to the man or his family, nonetheless a part of me thinks that's how all SF Giants fans would like to go: at the ballpark, bitching about yet another loss. Seems appropriate, somehow.

Might as well finish with the greatest game of Bob Brenly's career:


1984 addendum

Should have thought to include this in the TT post:

1984

The captions are a little blurry, so:

  • Upper left, "The withered old prole tells her story."
  • Upper right, "Julia flirts while Winston reads."
  • Middle left, "Winston and Julia are caught together."
  • Middle right, "Big Brother's 'Exiles'."

And in the group photo at the bottom, which is of the acting group from my senior year, you can see a few friends of the blog. That's Robin Smith in the front, second from right. In the back row, sitting next to each other (#5-6 from the left) are the future Dub Debrie, and Tina Sellars who was then Gooch. On Tina's left is Lynette Shaw, later a pioneer in legalizing marijuana and once the Libertarian candidate for Lt. Governor of California. I feel like this is not the full picture ... for one thing, I'm not in it.

Also, here's a picture of me getting made up for my role in 1984:

Steven in makeup 1984

A few other mementos I can get to easily ... all from high school, there are no pictures as far as I know of me in junior-high plays. From Inherit the Wind ... that's me as the William Jennings Bryan character.

Inherit the wind

This is from My Three Angels, which was made into the movie We're No Angels on two occasions, 1955 when Aldo Ray played my character, and 1989, which I haven't seen but I think maybe Sean Penn played my part. In the picture, that's me in the middle.

Mythreeangels

[Edited to add this photo from Arsenic and Old Lace ... I played the Boris Karloff character, and am in the back, behind the guy who is in ropes.]

Arsenic and old lace


throwback thursday to 1970

Once again, a cut-and-paste from an old post (comment, actually) where I described my final stage performance as an actor. I took drama from 7th through 12th grade. My first play was The Wizard of Oz ... I was 11 years old, and played The Scarecrow. Don't remember much about it, but I think I was already establishing myself as the guy who knew not only my own lines, but everyone else's. And in 7th grade, knowing your lines is all that can be asked of you. My last play was 1984, where I played the "hero", Winston Smith. It ran for three nights, the last of which was 49 years ago today, February 14, 1970. Here is what I wrote back in 2007:

The last play I was in was 1984, where I played Winston Smith. It was done in the round, so there were no blind spots where we could trick the audience, plus they were very close to us. Near the end, as I'm being tortured/reprogrammed, I say the wrong thing and I get smacked in the head for my mistake. During rehearsal, the guy would be standing in front of me, I'd see the fist coming, and I could time my flinch. I guess I was flinching too soon or something, because the director decided to have the guy be standing behind me when he smacked me, so the audience would think I didn't see it coming. We had some cue to let me know when it was coming, but it didn't matter ... my flinches were even more poorly timed because I was scared. So finally I told the guy I was willing to take one for the team ... and for the actual performances, he'd walk behind me, I'd say the wrong thing, he's smack me one ... and I wouldn't move an inch, because I preferred getting clubbed than flinching like a wussy in front of an audience.

Thankfully, we only did three performances.

Not sure what video I can use to liven things up for this post. How about this one?


40 years ago today: the clash play their first u.s. concert

In the spirit of Throwback Thursday, I recall an event from 40 years ago that I have written about on this blog at least twice. Why write something new on Throwback Thursday? So here is a little cut-and-paste.

From November 29, 2007, "The Clash and Bo Diddley":

We actually saw the first show The Clash ever played in the USA, it was in Berkeley, not their first North America show, I think they played Vancouver first. Anyway, the band was asked who they wanted to have as an opening act, and they said they'd love to play with Bo Diddley. And they were told hey, that might not work, can't you come up with an up-and-coming punk band? But no, they wanted Bo Diddley, he was one of their idols and they wanted him to play. And they got their way, which is why, on February 7, 1979, I saw Bo Diddley play for the first and only time. He was great, of course.

Time sure does fly. I remember that part of Bo's act that night was to make fun of his age ... he'd bend down and as he did so, he'd have his guitar making creaky noises like his bones were too old to take the stress. Well, I just looked Bo Diddley up on Wikipedia, and damn, he sure was old back in 1979 ... 50! Yep ... Bo Diddley was younger the time I saw the old geezer than I am now. Geesh.

And from five years ago, "Music Friday: 35 Years Ago Today":

Next up was the legendary Bo Diddley. As I have mentioned before, as part of his act, Bo played up how old he was compared to all the young punks. He’d bend down, and his guitar would make screaky noises as if his bones were too old. This story seems less funny to me with each passing year, since Bo was only 50 at the time. Here, he talks about what it was like opening for The Clash:

Here's something that wasn't in those older posts: The Clash from later in 1979, playing "I Fought the Law":

 


throwback thursday: the 1993 royal rumble

The 1993 Royal Rumble took place 26 years ago today in Sacramento, and we were there. Fans of that era of rassling will feel a bit of nostalgia when I listed some of the performers in the matches before the Rumble: Doink the Clown, the Steiners, Shawn Michaels, Marty Jannetty, Bam Bam Bigelow, Big Boss Man, Bret Hart, Razor Ramon. (Three of those grapplers have since passed away ... rassling is a cruel sport.)

The Rumble that year wasn't particularly good, especially compared to the year before, when the legendary Ric Flair won after lasting more than an hour in the ring. Flair returned in '93, and he was the first contestant in the Rumble (he lasted less than 20 minutes). Again, some names from the Rumble, for nostalgia fans: Bob Backlund, Papa Shango, Mr. Perfect, Koko B. Ware, Irwin R. Schyster, Typhoon, Earthquake, Tito Santana, Owen Hart, and Randy Savage. The winner was Yokozuna. Five of those have also died, including Yokozuna. This was also the WWF debut of Giant Gonzalez (aka El Gigante), billed at 8 feet tall. He's dead now, too.

Here are highlight from the finish, with Yokozuna and Macho Man Randy Savage going at it while Yokozuna's manager Mr. Fuji encouraged his man. Yokozuna was billed as Japanese but was actually Samoan-American. Mr. Fuji (waving a Japanese flag during the match) was billed as Japanese, but was a Japanese-American from Hawaii. Fuji is dead now, too. The announcers are Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, also both dead now, although Heenan did live to be 72.

Finally, here is something I've only recently discovered, people who use the WWE video game to recreate matches:


throwback thursday: thank you, bruce and ann

Five years ago today, I posted about an interview Ann Powers did with Bruce Springsteen about his then-new album, High Hopes.

I mentioned on Twitter that I had a favorite part of the interview, but that I wasn’t sure why. It comes when Bruce is describing what it was like making records when he was in his 20s: “It was terrible, you know. In truth, it was awful, an awful way to make records but it was the only way we knew how. Everybody simply suffered through it and the endless, endless, endless hours I can't begin to explain.”

Ann’s response was the part I loved most: “We thank you for those hours.”

I’ve had a couple of days to think about it, and I think I know now why this resonated so deeply with me. When I first heard she was going to interview Bruce, I thought she was a perfect choice, that people like myself would be well-represented. That one sentence is what I meant, when she stepped back momentarily from her professional role and briefly spoke as a fan. I am not the only Bruce fan to spend too much time wondering what I would say if I met him. Part of me thinks I’d just ask him to play “Back in Your Arms” the next time he comes to the Bay Area. That’s part of why people bring signs requesting this or that favorite song … it’s a way to talk to the man on the stage.

But the truth is (and from talking to friends over the years, I know I’m not alone in this), if I had a chance to meet Bruce Springsteen, the one and only thing I’d want to say is, “Thank you”.

So consider this blog post my way of thanking Ann for thanking Bruce on our behalf.

I included a video that is one of my favorites. Here it is again. As always, I tell people, look at the faces ... if you've never been to a Bruce concert and want to know what it's like, look at those faces. As wonderful as Springsteen on Broadway is, it is missing one thing: those faces.

 


throwback to bruce springsteen

For some reason, we've seen Bruce Springsteen a lot of times in October. I've seen him 36 times, which by the averages means we should have seen him 3 times in October. But the first two times we saw him were in October, and there was the road trip in October of 1980 where we saw him five times in a week. In total, we have seen him 16 times in October.

Since it's October 25, I'll play the Throwback Thursday game and look at the three times we saw him on October 25.

First was 1980 in Portland, the first day of our 1980 Road Trip. It was our 6th Bruce concert, and the only time we've seen him outside of California. That was the year Mount St. Helens erupted, and while the most damage was done in May, in mid-October there were more eruptions. In honor of this event, Bruce played "On Top of Old Smokey" for the first and only time in his career. Here is the audio from the entire show ... "On Top of Old Smokey" comes at 1:28:35:

Our second Bruce/October 25 show came 19 years later, in 1999. This was the Reunion Tour ... we saw three shows in Oakland, the first of which came on the 25th. Not much is easily found from that show, so here is "Light of Day" from the second night, including a touch of Moby Grape's "Omaha":

Our third, and thus far last, Bruce on October 25 show came in 2007.10-25-07. I saw "Our", but in fact, Robin didn't go to this one, the first time I was there without her ... she went with me the next night. One advantage was that I was in the pit for the show on the 25th ... Robin doesn't do pit. Here is a photo of me and my friend Tom at that show:

Oakland pit 7 edit steven tom

This was the only one of these three shows that came after I started this blog, so:

"Night One"