Monday, February 25, 2019

YES, I AM STILL HERE

While I am  reasonably sure no one noticed, I have been away from  this Blog since 2017. The subject then was whether the Dodgers, on such a lofty perch three months prior could manage to blow the chance to got to the payoffs. 
They didn't. I'm sorry they didn't but then it worse than last year.

Such history is prologue . I am back after a series of maladies that a shall not bore you with but suffice to say I missed a number of holiday dinners and other festive events.

Readers with long memories will remember my travelogues with my beloved La Coachacita which is now rusting in an uncomfortable and sudden retirement somewhere in the state of North Dakota. I miss her, but the time to travel was done. I suppose a man who drove the equivalent of 25 circumnavigations of the earth at the equator can say that with some surety. (that's 250,000 miles+ for those who may be tempted to Google it).

It is fair to say that keeping up a Blog that no longer had any travel news for those who followed it led me to other endeavors. I have written two more books since then, the next will be my last. I have grown tired of that as well, well, perhaps it is fairer to say disinterested, or even that having emptied my head of four non-fiction books on the last 5 years is enough and the are fewer ideas rattling around in the dustbin of my brain that I feel compelled to put between covers or share via electronic books.

So then, it is far to ask, what is Reamus doing with his time? It is a fair question and one that I do not have to answer. Yet on these pages in future, I will try. The thoughts about these interests may be of no particular value to others but there is still much for me to wonder about and occasionally share with others. Then there is always the next book I can complain about.

As a famous man once said: "Just happy to be here."




Tuesday, September 12, 2017

CAN ANYONE HERE PLAY THIS GAME?





CAN ANY ONE HERE PLAY THIS GAME?
----Casey Stengel, while managing the Mets


My suspicion is that most of the country---along with a vast number of Los Angeles Dodger fans—are by now either perplexed or outraged or overjoyed by the play of what Sports Illustrated only months ago featured on its cover as “The Best Team Ever.”

Illustrious of their sudden slide into mediocrity from the 20-game lead they held in the National League West was the final humiliation of losing a rain delayed messy affair in San Francisco last night to a team that is 30 games out of first place. The Giants are bad. They are very bad. Despite having much of the talent that carried them into the playoffs last year there is something seriously wrong with them. No one seems to be able to say what it is, but no Giant team has ever been 30 games out in September or for that matter any other time during the season. Their manager, Bruce Bochy, a man for whom I have great respect, stands mute in the dugout staring onto the field as his team goes about its busy schedule of throwing to the wrong base, striking out, leaving runners on base, and generally playing as if they were the Lansing Lugnuts.

But I digress.

The mighty Los Angeles Dodgers came into the season as the favorites to win the division. They held a 20 game lead through August when they were playing apparently so far over their head they did not touch the ground. Every pitch which now looks like an aspirin tablet, looked like a grapefruit, ripe to be hit to any field and over fences with great regularity. Every pitcher that “took to the hill” as they say, spun pitch after pitch that was unhittable by the mere mortals that tried. Clayton Kershaw, arguably the best pitcher in baseball was magnificent but paled in comparison to a fellow named Hill who became the first Dodger rookie since Clem Labine of the days in Brooklyn to win 11 games without a loss. These were heady days. The stands were full of rabid and—in my humble opinion---annoying fans, who discussed such arcane subjects as what size and shape of the World Series Rings should be. They were winning, winning big and the city was a happy as Dave Roberts the manager who controlled all this talent.

Then it all—as the saying goes—went south. On a crisp day on August 28th the Dodgers were shutout by the Milwaukee Brewers. The manager said: “There will be days like this,” with a smile. All managers say that when they lose a game. At that point they had won 91 games, why should he think differently? Yeah, baseball is a funny game, you have those sorts of games now and then. Yet at that moment one of the worst stretches in franchise history began, and no one has found a way to stop it. They bought a pitcher, they bought an outfielder. You never know, it might be the answer and surely, they needed another pitcher to be certain they had the rotation right for the playoffs. His name is Yu Darvish. He is the youngest player in history to reach 1,000 strike outs. Yet the last time I saw him he was ducking into the dugout after being yanked in the third inning, having given up 3 runs on 14 pitches (not an especially distinguished feat) to the San Diego Padres.  The Dodgers went to Arizona to play a very good team that has lurked in second or third place for the entire year. Yes, they were 20 games back but after all, the Dodgers were the best team ever, weren’t they?
The collapse was in full swing. Four games played, Four Games lost. It happens, even to the best. They moved on to San Diego, long the dustbin of the division and lost three more, winning 1-0 because Kershaw pitched superbly and a young man named Oscar Lunet made one bad pitch to the large, hirsute third baseman Justin Turner that left the ballpark.
It was time to go home and face the Colorado Rockies who, like Arizona, had been in and out of second place most of the year. Three games later, the Dodgers had now lost 10 in a row and 15 of 16 and packed for San Francisco where they promptly made it 16 of 17.
Everyone in the city, in baseball, even in my house has a theory why this is happening. My own is that they are not the greatest team in baseball, they are good, but shaken in their confidence. Yogi Berra’s quote that the game is 50% physical and 90% mental seems apt. It has gotten in their heads. Who knows if the can exorcise those demons before the end of the season. For the fans now it is nearly a death watch as the long reluctant march to the end of the 162 game season and into the playoffs. Arms hurt, players are tired, it’s a cruel game and a long year.

Maybe tonight…. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014






PATTERSON “PAT” GRISSOM
(February 27, 1925 – September 3, 2014)


The Good Do Not Always Die Young

 An extraordinary man has left us. Perhaps he was more extraordinary to me than to others. He was my friend and more importantly my mentor. He was the man who taught me with great humor how to enjoy a Cuban cigar a very dry Martini, bridge, the theater and most importantly, good food in good restaurants how to embrace life to its fullest.
“Pat” Grissom was wounded in World War Two by a German bullet on March 26, 1945 in the village of Lamperthiem. He remained in a wheelchair thereafter. If that were all there were to say about him, it would be enough. Yet for the then twenty year old farmer from Syracuse Kansas there was so much more.
I met Pat in 1967. For reasons known only to him he decide I was one worth saving and we became great friends and over the next fifteen years I was regaled by his wonderful stories always told with the loudest voice in the room and the best sense of humor as well. I’m not sure I ever saw Pat mad. I’m not at all sure he knew how to be. He could find humor in the most awful situations.

One of the stories he loved to tell was about being in the field hospital after he was shot. Pat was stricken by the anxiety of how he was going to tell his family that the bullet severed his spine since he could not at that point imagine how he could have a wound in his back unless he was running away from the gunfire. Finally, he screwed up the courage to ask the doctor why the hole was there. “Oh,” He said, “That’s the exit wound, you were only shot once,” pointing to the wound in his side, “that’s where it entered. The other will heal in a few days.” At this point in the story, Pat would throw back his head and with a great laugh of self-deprecation, exclaim his relief that he needn't explain it at all.
For a time Pat was the third National President of a nascent group of veterans with spinal cord injuries. He was one of the few I knew who lived until last Wednesday that could claim he picketed the Truman White House for better benefits for returning war veterans. While he was president of The Paralyzed Veterans of America, he helped get Congress to pass the first accessible housing grant legislation. It gave all veterans who used wheelchairs a $10,000 grant to build the ramps and modify existing homes or build new ones without obstacles. He built his own on Sunburst Street in the San Fernando Valley soon thereafter. He lived there the rest of his life until he became a long term care patient at the Long Beach Veterans Medical Center.
While he was busy with his trips to the Hollywood Bowl, The Amundsen Theater, and visiting friends in Malibu, and understanding life and its possibilities far better than most of us, he managed to survive two major earthquakes. The first destroyed the old San Fernando VA hospital where he got his post hospital care and the second the Northridge quake, destroyed his house while he was sleeping in it. When the noise stopped he said, and the dust settled, he realized that the wall to his room was gone, the fireplace lay in the yard nearly intact, and he was gazing out on the street in the dark of the early morning. His garage and his house guest survived so they drove his van to a friend’s house just a few miles away which had hardly any damage where, by his description, he remained a “homeless veteran” for the next year while he rebuilt. By then I was living elsewhere and called a few days after the event. His message machine was miraculously intact and I assumed my friend was well and safe. He wasn’t obviously, and without any thought that anyone might have been worried about him, he threw the machine away without ever retrieving the full message tape.

There is neither space nor time to tell all the Grissom stories. He lived too long for that. He was a legend. He was a technical advisor and crowd member along with 45 other veterans in a 1950 Stanley Cramer movie which starred Jack Webb and Marlon Brando. The Men proved to be important at the time, much as “The Best Years of Their Lives” was since it raised the public’s awareness to the problems faced in re-entering society by seriously wounded veterans.
In those early years in the Birmingham VA hospital before all the spinal cord patients were moved to Long Beach, Pat and the rest were visited by more movie stars than family. Seeing Robert Mitchum walk down the hall was not a particularly big deal on a Saturday afternoon. He and the others who experienced it would tell those of us he always called  “the young pups” about these and so many things there is as I said, neither time or space to relate them all.
Suffice to say that men like Patterson Grissom do come this way often. They are special people, made more so by their ability to adapt to the new life they found when they came home.

I once suggested that he was the most “rehabilitated” man I ever met during a discussion about how to define that term. I still believe he was despite the fact that he worked only two months after the war in a lawn mower shop, but could recite Supreme Court citations and the latest Johnny Carson joke with equal alacrity. He was an educated man because he made himself one and yet he rode the train every summer back to the farm in Syracuse Kansas to visit his parents for many years after he was injured.
He was a man of remarkable talent and fortitude who I am sure was smiling before he went to sleep for the last time Wednesday night at the age of 89.

I will miss him even though we haven’t seen each other in a long time. I was one of many he helped see life as a better place. I thank him for that as do so many others he helped in his quiet and gentle way. May he rest peacefully now, perhaps with a good Havana and a very dry Martini nearby.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

REMEMBER....



                                       ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY


Any one that has attended one knows there is a certain aura about a military funeral that is different than all others.



No funeral is a good one, but the formality and tradition of one in the many quiet places across the country is inspirational as well.


                                                  ECHO TAPS


I have been to a few. They are never fun, but I always come away feeling the strength of those that are buried there that died as an intended or unintended consequence of those who sent them.





Take a minute to thank whatever god you have that they did what they were ordered to do so well. Memorial Day is a day about those who died as a result of their war. They are the ones we honor this weekend.


Remember them.

There is a day in November for the rest. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

BAD NEWS FOR THE BEARS

It was an event not specifically important in the lives of anyone perhaps except Doug Spiel and Danielle Dronet and the few employees that still work in the stadium in Newark New Jersey built in the infectious belief of a former N.Y. Yankee star that baseball could flourish there again. They were certainly not happy to see the stickers that adorned the equipment late last month as a place where history was made yet not well rewarded or remembered by the game of Professional Baseball came to an end once more.

The Newark Bears held a liquidation sale and the stadium that Rick Cerone, a very good former Yankee catcher had convinced Essex County New Jersey to finance so that the glory days of a once storied franchise could be restored. It will now host high school, college and perhaps, in a final indignity, move the bases and mound in for Little League games.

Baseball went missing from Newark for nearly half a century when the Bears were born again. It was once a remarkable place where soon to be top prospects and eventual Hall of Fame Players played. It was owned and operated in the Negro Leagues by the only woman baseball executive now in the Hall of Fame. A player by the name of Moe Berg, later a spy in World War II once played there as a New York Yankee hopeful. Don Newcomb, Roy Campanella, Monte Irvin and others passed through there on the way from the 1946 Negro League Champions to the white Major Leagues. They enjoyed it there, played well, and marked time as they peered across the river to New York and waited for Jackie Robinson to succeed so that they could follow. It was a place to dream and to hope for the AAA minor leaguers of the New York Yankees for many years after that and then sadly, without a Major league affiliate to bolster the budget in recent years only a place for fading “used to be” stars that refused to accept that it was over such as Ricky Henderson and Jose Canseco to play and try once more to make it back to “The Show.”

The last owners, the affianced Doug Spiel M.D. who, appropriately it would seem specializes in pain management, and Ms. Danielle Dronet, a marketing specialist bought the franchise a few years ago. Yet not even their unbounded enthusiasm, long days and nights of work, and a lot of their own money could turn it around. They thought they could. They were mistaken. Now, the batting cage (Lot Number 166) languishing behind the fence and the table the auctioneer will use (Lot Number 42) and even the team bus was for sale. As the soon to be jobless equipment manager said, “pretty much anything that isn't actually part of the stadium” was to be sold.

Spiel and Dronet never lacked for enthusiasm in their quest to make a go of it. Spiel spent a million dollars of his own money to pay vendors and they did everything they could think of to attract sponsors and of course sell the 6,200 tickets to every home game, even hiring a group of dancing girls known as the Honey Bears.
Dronet says that the bureaucracy of Essex County, in that way New Jersey is said to have of crushing the good with the bad, did everything they could to see to that they failed and lacked interest in the team’s survival despite the fact that the county will have bond debt obligations for stadium construction until 2029.

But in the end, it was the tickets. The “fannies in the seats” that didn't happen. It was also a storm called Hurricane Sandy that arrived without paying her way in and had her way with the stadium. It was a failed attempt to turn the couple’s stadium into a reality show, a scamming promoter who announced Justin Bieber would be performing for a charity (much to Bieber’s surprise), and finally, a burglary that cost the team most of its electronic equipment that brought them to the brink and the Fat Lady tuned her vocal cords in the wings all winter in 2012.

Last season the Bears were last in the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball with a record of 37-63. It claimed a generous estimate of 500 average attendance when 2,000 at least were needed to maintain the owners’ sanity. In November, The Can-Am League dropped Newark and the Fat Lady sang in earnest.

That in the end is what led to the super pretzel warmer becoming lot 83; assorted napkin holders, lot 122, and a framed picture of Monte Irvin, the first black New York Giant stealing home yet another.
After a half century absence of baseball, in 1999 at an expense of $34 million to the citizens of Essex County and the high hopes of Rick Cerone and several baseball visionaries after him never saw the development promised by the county around the stadium. In the ethereal glow of light from the city, the stadium stood alone to be seen by so many New Jersey commuters out the train windows without a notion that coming there to see a ballgame with the family might be a fine idea. Why not the Mets, the Yankees, or even the Jackals in Little Falls? Why come into this city?

As Doug Spiel said, “What if you gave away 3,000 tickets and nobody came? What does that tell you? What if the City and County Officials had free box seats and came maybe twice a year, what does that tell you?”

What if no major league team would affiliate with you because you were in Newark, yet the Mets would start a new franchise in Brooklyn, the Yankees were as far away as Trenton, NJ. What does it tell you about a sport always starving for new talent with an alleged solemn commitment to inner city baseball programs?

This was the franchise of the storied Newark Eagles, the best in the Negro leagues in 1946. This is where Roberto Clemente and so many of the eventual stars of the Yankees, Dodgers and Giants played and was owned by Effa (Effie) Manely, the most famous woman in baseball history and the only one in the Hall of Fame who along with her husband Abe operated the Eagles from 1935 until 1946 and then did so on her own until 1948 after his death. This interracial woman, trained as a hat maker kept the books, made the travel arrangements and altered the face of the Negro leagues, demanding and getting better accommodations and food for her players, and who made even the team bus, the luxurious Flexible Clipper a symbol of the team’s success.

Yet baseball apparently has no time for that now or memory of it. There is no time or appetite for its own history beyond Jackie Robinson Day held in the spring every year when all players, mangers and coaches in both leagues wear his number 42 in his memory. For a multibillion dollar industry which pays a feckless Commissioner 20 million dollars a year to oversee the chaos of instant replay and the vicissitudes of egomaniacal owners, it is apparently too much to ask to find a way to help a franchise exist, perhaps even flourish in Essex County in a stadium bought a paid for by the citizens of New Jersey. The former affiliate of The New York Yankees for so many years, perhaps ten miles as the crow flies from the new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx apparently isn't as “special” as Trenton, a hundred miles further on.

Perhaps in another 50 years someone with the zeal and the willingness to work as hard as Spiel and Dronet did will come along and try again to remember, to make it right, to give baseball and its history back to this city that gave it so much and perhaps they will succeed and perhaps not. Whatever happens, do not count on Major League Baseball to have a memory longer than the last World Series, or the will and the money to help.

On a Saturday in late April at 10 AM, the auction was held. The weather was fair and in the 50’s. All who made successful bids had their faces shown on the “Jumbotron” (lot 187) in center field, and the Newark Bears Professional Baseball Team is gone and that seems very sad and wrong.