Okay, you worked a Saturday night, now get up and moving, make your tea, think your thoughts before you go to work again, do the dishes, put things away.
I turn on the TV to the NBC sports station carrying the Tour de France, heading into Nimes today as I sip yesterday's green tea cold. A commercial is on. And then, back to the Tour, no, it's an announcer back at the main shop with screens behind him, a Sports Update. Golf. Then baseball scores, with highlight coverage: hits, line drives, throwing errors, home runs, a pop fly that drops in, for five different ball games. And in the brief few minutes during which I wait patiently for a glimpse of the French countryside, look what the American baseball stadium has become--advertising, everywhere. Look even at what the Green Monster has become--a placard for Foxwood Casinos.
A Tour viewer is no one to talk. The whole race was invented to sell newspapers. But semi-radical that I am, given the age I live in, post mortgage scandal, post derivative greed disaster, I catch a whiff of the hypnosis the games have become, all taking down our natural guard and told, 'it's all okay.' Corporate America, doing just fine taking care of its citizens. You too must belong.
My thought, perhaps, is similar to how the writer of The Sopranos wryly put it as the show neared the final episode. The message, the higher point of it all, just as it was all along. "It's still okay to go out and buy stuff."
Well, you'd be a perfect asshole to nearly everyone if you might think differently.
Back in the old days, one likes to think, the games stood in balance. They stood on their own. They might advertise themselves, the experience of going to the ballpark, paying for your ticket, watching the home team. There was the Citgo sign, and the Jimmy Fund. Lou Gehrig was played by Lou Gehrig, and in the movie about him, the next best thing, Gary Cooper (and yes, the mighty hitter, the Iron Horse, with the beautiful back, broad shoulders, hair and smile, who would himself return to dugouts and start crying, benched himself after contracting something very strange and horrible, and actually did die from it, way before his time.) There was not the pollution of the field. Storied men played the game, Leo the Lip, Musial, Yogi Berra, or were involved intimately in it, Branch Rickey... Baseball could be, on its own, a solid endeavor, something creative, athletic, healthy, celebratory of the innate talents of the human being, with sharp eyesight, reflexes, the bat of Ted Williams. Kind of like when you played it in high school gym class out there on the field with Coach, discovering, errantly, your skills, when you had to.
I am radicalized by my line of work. A restaurant provides good eat and drink, decent service, people come. But I live in suspended animation, the idyll of a game, in need of buying into it all if it's even not too late.
The Tour comes back on. A bunch sprint. I hang in there, treated with a few scenes from the road out there, sun here, pouring rain there, vineyards.
The endurance sport, of stocking up, putting everything into place, writing down the specials, then the trickle, then the rush, then the last few people who really, out of mercy, should just leave you be after six hours, and all the while being able to make conversation, putting people at ease, smiling, joking where possible, participating in a discussion about interesting things, overriding the arguable sense that one is a loser, with little social life of one's own beyond other restaurant people... All the while too, people in some limbo between dealing with their issues and not dealing with their issues, falling on the sides. Who wouldn't want to come watch! Listen to the story of the two artsy guys who went to the theater and saw Carrie and needed a drink, of Muscadet, afterward.
In the defense of the sport, though, one must acknowledge the fact that such a gathering is indeed stimulating. It gets you out of your own head. It gets the creative wheels spinning. Through sublimation, the inner mind works.
What advertisements should go in a barroom or restaurant, beyond all the trinket signs of Dubo Dubo Dubonet, the red rubber bar matt that sayeth Campari, the black ones with Remy Martin on them, the champagne poster with the beautiful lean woman from the Roaring Twenties on it.
Support the arts; read the poor guy's book, not for any reason, but because, it's there, satisfying or dissatisfying as it may be. Which most of you, kindly, already have, to the extent such suffering is possible, thank you very much.
Or better yet, advertise what you've learned on the long hard road, through all the things we've learned more or less the hard way, through the people who've passed on, through the people we miss, through the parent who died, lessons that stare us in the face every day, as they should: that people are sacred, treasures; that we can look upon the consciousness of each as coming from a consciousness before, that there are reasons, no coincidence, while we are all here. And thus the Buddha, thus meditation, that we don't get our mind's eye obscured by the things of less importance that would provoke us to do harm in our sleepwalking unawareness. What is important? Do well by another being.
Rise above the costly logic, of slavery, of eye for an eye...