Mike Franz was already a man when most of us on the Brown Men’s Ultimate Frisbee team still clung stubbornly to boyhood.
2011 was another great NFL season, though I did find it a bit harder to be creative/funny with the write-ups this year. I blame that on my decision to ditch DirecTV. DirecTV, as soon as you let me pay for only the NFL Network, ESPN, Comedy Central, Lifetime, and Bravo (don’t wanna miss Season 3 of “Tabatha’s Salon Takeover,” after all), I’ll be back. Ohhhhhh, I’ll be back.
My grandfather Louis Alexander had two nicknames in his lifetime – one for the first half of his life and another for the second.
As a young man he was “Tiger.” He may well have coined this one on his own - hard to say. He’d carved that one into the bathroom stall door at Mo’s and Jo’s saloon in Atlanta, a little while after coming back from the War – Tiger, 1947. Fifty-four years later, home from college during winter break, I went and saw it. Still there, still clear as day. Next time I saw him I asked him why there, and he said “Anyone havin’ a sit in that john deserves a little light reading.”
If you’re the kind of person who enjoys professional football and catty writing about it from someone who has literally never strapped on the pads, read after the jump my compiled weekly columns and musings from the 2010 NFL season…
Warning: what lies ahead is long, less than informed, and entirely too pleased with itself.
Nowhere’s not crowded in Tokyo.
In the spring there, all the junior high school students and high school students are on their school trips and throng the streets and subway cars and giggle over coffees and hang their bags just so in the crook of their elbows or off their shoulders. Everyone takes photgraphs and you all coo, sigh, shriek, and shock at the same things.
The drums awoke Shibata, though he had been sleeping thinly anyway. They sounded far off, as though whoever was playing them was a couple of blocks away, walking down a street that touched a street that touched the street where he lived. The sound seemed to come from around two corners like that, a sound one could either walk toward and find or await and eventually meet. Shibata was not the type to walk toward anything, so the drums came to him, muffled though they were, into his bedroom to pull him into the day. They were festival drums, a group practicing for later that evening.
Two months after I graduated from college I went to Japan to work for a year teaching English in Muroran, a medium-sized city on Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s four main islands. Mine was a rapidly-dying steel and shipping city of about 100,000 people on the southern coast of the island. It was situated at the very point of a triangular peninsula that jutted south out into the Pacific Ocean. The main Hokkaido airport is near the center of the island, and when I was picked up there by my boss on my first day and driven to my new home I had the distinct feeling of being taken to the end not just of this particular land but of all land, to the literal edge of the world. Two ranges of old-looking mountains ran down both coasts of the triangular peninsula and close to them, meeting to form a craggy “V” that seemed to be nudging the city I lived in toward the sea.
A young man, about 25 years old, is sitting at a bar in a medium-sized city in Japan. So is an older man, about 40. Both are new in town and both know no one. It is a Friday night. This bar is not a trendy place or a place young people go. It is not a place to dance. It is not a place for fancy drinks. Boys do not bring girls here on dates, unless they are long since finished trying to impress them. It is not a place where you can stay until 3 A.M. if you feel like it. It closes around midnight or earlier, whenever the owner says it closes. The owner is an old woman who serves beer and simple foods – pork and chicken grilled on skewers over hot coals, salted, with sharp homemade mustard to dip them in. That and some of the stouter vegetables – radishes and mushrooms, mostly – pickled in brine.
By 1947, my grandfather had returned from World War II and married a French girl he had met while going to college at Emory University in Atlanta. This was my grandmother. He looks at her sometimes in their kitchen when we are down to visit and loudly claims to have known from the moment he saw her that she would be the woman he’d marry. My grandmother Geva, short for the lovely Genevieve, smiles and shakes her head and takes a coconut cake into the other room while she remembers the hot day in Georgia when she lost her French name - Bertat.
I love writing letters, and I love receiving mail. I am not talking about email. I am talking about real handwritten letters – written out in the slanting script that unlined paper encourages, creased in three places or four, often with something small like an Italian coin or a bead or a pine needle cradled inside the folds. Writing a letter is a chance to speak uninterrupted, to explore a topic or a feeling fully. Placing one word after another is the exploration.
The Texas A&M Bonfire, which traditionally burns every year on Thanksgiving night in preparation for the annual football game with the University of Texas the next day, collapsed November 19th, one year ago, crushing twelve students to death and injuring twenty-seven others. The pictures in the New York Times the next day were haunting; they seemed distorted and impossible – crews of men dwarfed by the long arms of the cranes hired to pluck the giant logs off the folded stack. One firefighter described it as “a game of pickup sticks,” with each of the sticks the size of a telephone pole.