Saturday, January 22, 2011

I'm Back!

   Well, it’s been over a year, I know. But sloth, family obligations, work, etc. – in other words, all the usual excuses have made it so. I would say thank you for your patience, but that would assume you were paying attention.
   I have renamed the blog A Citizen Paying Attention, which was my original idea for a title, until I decided it sounded pompous. I’ve changed my mind about that, but still hope to post monthly, in the spirit of the blog’s original title, Every Full Moon. You will notice actual advertising to the side of my beautiful prose. I must say that my host, Google, makes setting up advertising extremely difficult, even allowing for what a techno-rube I am. There is also a link to certain blogs and websites (again, all it says is blogs, more misleading information from Big G) at which I like to gander. You might, too, and I’m sure there will be future additions and subtractions. Soon, I will try to set up the mysterious RSS feed so that (if I understand this correctly) you can subscribe to my humble blog and induce others down the same garden path.
   Last year, I had hoped to review John Lukacs’ Last Rites and Leslie Mitchell’s biography of Maurice Bowra. Briefly, let recommend both books. Last Rites is, among other things, a fine summing up of that great historian’s historical philosophy. It is not, despite the title, his last (or latest) book. Mitchell’s life of Bowra, despite some weaknesses in interpretation (alas, my missing in-depth review!), captures nicely a great 20th century Oxford don, a flaming creature of a personality, and his many strengths and weaknesses. But that was then. Posted next month will be my review of Steven V. Riley’s Capitalism, Democracy, & Emerging Christianity.  The month after that will be my review of Daniel Patrick Moynihan: A Portrait in Letters of an American Visionary.     This is not a book review blog totally. Soon, I hope to have a long commentary on the legacy of Bush the Younger (not a review of his book) – which has to take in more context than just his presidency, including how and why it is that we seem to be just sitting here numb in the ruins. There will be other commentaries on other issues, in time, as well; still, there are the books and two coming out soon which, since I want to read them, I also wish to review them. Amanda Foreman’s A World on Fire, about British volunteers, and British involvement in every other sense of the word, on both sides of our War of the Rebellion (oh, excuse me, our Civil War), is her first book in a dozen years. Before that (I think this will be the sequence), the great J.G.A. Pocock, eighty-six (86) years old, will have published the fifth volume of his great series, Barbarism and Religion, on Edward Gibbon, the making of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and the world of Early Modernity that formed them. Of course, as regard this epic series, I have to declare in the spirit of Wayne and Garth, “I’m not worth!!!” and may content myself with linking to the appreciations of others.
   Finally, those you with a tenacious memory will recall my declaration of love for Beefeater Gin and the San Francisco Giants at the end of my original blog post last year. Well, on that second subject…I never thought I would live to see the day. The only touch of Hegelianism in my constitution was the expectation that if the Giants ever did win the World Series the immanent fulfillment of History would have been reached, and the world would end. Hasn’t happened yet, but we do have the rest of the Hot Stove League. In the meantime, repeat after me:

                               The San Francisco Giants are the Champions of the WORLD

   To repeat myself, I never thought I would live to see the day. Naturally, a lot was made of how Bay Area fans have lived and suffered all these decades. Let me add another dimension to that: the Pacific Northwest, where I grew up. When Major League baseball came to the West Coast there was a more obvious attraction in the Northwest to the Bay Area (and northern California generally) than to southern California, and over time this made for a solid part of Giants Nation being in those two states – which also explains why there never was any great development of “regional loyalty” later to the Seattle Mariners. To someone like myself, with family ties to San Francisco – my parents and my siblings born there, relatives on both sides all over the Bay Area – this only reinforced matters. I have the dimmest of memories (showing my age here) of begin taken to old Seals Stadium by my Uncle Earl in what must have been the Giants second season in San Francisco, and of course there are a lot of Candlestick Park memories, not only of so many great Giants but opposing players like Stan Musial in his final season, Henry Aaron hitting a home run, and Frank Robinson (about whom more later). Finishing up college in Eugene, Oregon and living on there for a number of years after before moving to Portland, I must have watched hundreds of games from KTVU.
   Any Giants fan, then, must have the kind of memories I have. 1978: when the Giants led most of the season. 1982: with skipper Frank Robinson, when the Giants roared back winning almost two-thirds of their games in the second half of the season, finishing just a game behind the hated Dogs of L.A. 1986: the first full year of the Roger Craig-Al Lopez era, a repeat of 1978. 1987: an epic playoff series with the Cardinals. 1989: the earthquake and (unfortunately, but deservedly) being swept by the A’s. 2002: I remember Game 6, we are up 5-0 in the seventh inning, and on the verge of taking it all. Being a Giants fan, and therefore a pessimist, I am not, in the ordinary sense of the word, confident of victory. But, sitting up near midnight in Greenbelt, Maryland, watching this Pacific Time Zone Game, I allowed myself to think in the conditional mode (“What would it be like?” “How would it feel?”), with my mouth dry, my palms sweating, before the bottom fell out…..
   Giants’ fans carried all this with them this year, whatever the elements were that made for the extra confidence factor this time around. (The most touching moment for me after we won was when Joe Buck started running off the names of the San Francisco players who had never got to live what our guys did that night.) I had not thought, of course, to get anything to drink to celebrate that evening. So I headed to the store for, appropriately, a big Anchor Steam. In the car, on the CD I had left in to play, I listened to Sinatra singing “At Long Last Love.”

                              Is it an earthquake or simply a shock?
                              Is it the good turtle soup or merely the mock?
                              Is it a cocktail, this feeling of joy?
                              Or is what I feel the real McCoy?

                              Is it for all time or simply a lark?
                              Is it Granada I see or only Asbury Park?
                              Is it a fancy not worth thinking of?
                              Or is it at long last love?

   Well, you think that didn’t sum up all those years and all those players and all those memories? Now, for me, that song will always be about this World Series, and relate to the Giants as much as “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and “Don’t Stop Believin.’”)
   As future Cooperstown resident Buster Posey said, our task is to do it again next year.
   This will be the sweetest Hot Stove League ever.

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