December 3, 2012 Comments Off
It is hubris that usually does us in. That was certainly the case with Lance Armstrong, who believed he was so gifted he was invulnerable, that no one could touch him. How different things would have been for Lance if he had simply given his down-on-his-luck ex partner, Floyd Landis, a job or money when he asked for it. Landis would not have sent the email that began the process of slowly unraveling Armstrong’s empire. Naturally, no one likes to be blackmailed, but in the case of Landis, a little bit of sympathy would have gone a long way. Of course, the qualities that make us strong are the very ones that make us weak. Lance put everything together—a dominating will, a wonderfully strong and efficient body, and the intelligence to create the best doping protocol on the planet—to win seven Tour de France titles. He was amazing rider, but it was his hubris—the need to crush or discredit rivals and critics—that brought him down. It’s ironic. Those who worshiped him have now become his critics and are pretending to be outraged. Let them. Let them take his titles, too. Let them pick over his bones if they want. It will never change the fact that he was magnificent.
October 15, 2012 Comments Off
It was fun listening to Brad Friedel being interviewed after the Tottenham match this past weekend, where he displayed his usual prowess in goal. Although still very American, his accent has shifted toward British, as you might expect after playing in England so many years. I personally think he’s one of the best twenty keepers of all time, though not many would agree with me. More interesting right now is the fact that Clint Dempsey has also joined Hotspur. Dempsey, of course, will never lose his Texas accent no matter how many years he plays in England. It will be hard for him, however, to find a place in a side that does not favor his sometimes ponderous style of play. He is nothing like Aaron Lennon or Gareth Bale and has never played for anyone like AVB. He will have to displace Adebayor and Defoe or ride the bench. The thing about Clint, though, is that he always proves his detractors wrong and never fails to rise to any new challenge presented to him. He makes the first team no matter who the manager happens to be or how unrelenting the expectations. I wouldn’t bet against him, but he’ll need to score goals from the off. I hope this isn’t a step too far. Klinsmann needs Dempsey to be match fit for World Cup qualifying matches.
September 4, 2012 Comments Off
Put salt in my wounds and honey on my lips. Sugar for sugar, I’ll give you salt for salt.
There was no one quite like Leo Kottke. Nor will there ever be again. We went to see him at the Guthrie. No doubt we were high. He probably was as well. He ran his hand over his head and said that some hooligans had cut his hair and then proceeded to play the loveliest 12-string anyone could imagine.
I love this song. It’s played in my head numerous times in the decades following that concert.
August 21, 2012 Comments Off
I studied Iyengar style yoga for a summer before one of my last soccer seasons with two local teachers who have been at it for decades. At the end of a session as we were folding forward, my instructor pointedly looked at me and yelled, “Lose the gut!” Naturally, it was my last class with him.
Yesterday, some ten years later, I understood that he was right (though, of course, wrong in his method). Sometimes there are impediments to practice that must be removed before one can practice, and the teacher must help the student remove them. It is irresponsible not to. Sometimes Minnesota nice just doesn’t work.
July 26, 2012 Comments Off
Though I did not see you
Or feel your wings
I am stung
At that place
Where there is no judgment or fear
And for one brief moment
Live again in perfect peace and harmony,
But just as quickly as you came
Leaving me bereft,
Wholly undone again,
Though this time, unlike the last,
I know what you seek
And how to summon you.
July 24, 2012 Comments Off
It seems odd to attack and destroy a national hero, but, then, this is part of American culture, or any culture, when the wrong people are in charge. Naturally, I’m talking about Lance Armstrong—perhaps the greatest cyclist who ever lived—and the USADA—an agency of the U.S. government, unassociated with cycling or Olympic sports—who will almost certainly manage what a grand jury or international cycling itself could not achieve, namely, ban Lance for life and strip him of his Tour de France titles. The question, of course, is why. Why spend the time and money? The answer lies, in part, on the war on drugs and its importance in American culture and, also, I suspect, on Lance’s obdurate personality. But, when you think about it, how could he have achieved his seven Tour de France victories without being a hard man? How could he have won without using every means at his disposal? Why would anyone be naive enough to imagine otherwise?
One can only assume that when a grand jury failed to indict Armstrong, all of its evidence was turned over to the USADA. This was done in extremis. The USADA is not a legal forum, but an agency of the U.S. government whose decisions are made by a panel of experts. There is no due process, no ability to present a case or question witnesses, no legal recourse after the decision is made. Essentially, the USADA can and will do anything it pleases. Lance’s only option is to challenge the panel’s legal standing to make a judgment in this matter. Sadly, it is highly unlikely that he will succeed.
How quintessentially American this is. When we discover our superhero is flawed and human, we relish seeing him flayed, bowed, and bleeding, so we can pretend we are patricians sitting in judgment on a wounded gladiator in the Colosseum. The thing I love about Lance is that he will never give us this pleasure.
July 10, 2012 Comments Off
I sweep across the earth as a dark shadow
I remember from my dreams
The bird of pain I know so well,
While squirrels lie panting on the grass
More brown than green
And leaves, loosened by the summer sun,
Cascade in sheets of yellow,
Now driven by a burning wind
I finally understand
Because I no longer have the power to resist it.
July 8, 2012 Comments Off
Now while stars are falling like firelit dewdrops
and the ring of mist like some belted milky way
casts shadows of a mauve too purple
to lightly pass,
I forget which sun’s too animate rays
have exploded pollen’s fragrant grasp,
but I, who wear no clothes but the ones I have on,
who sing no other songs but my own,
though magic is for fainter hearts
and echoes are my recompense,
like some noisy songbird sing singly
just before the breaking wave of dawn strikes
the already bruised heel of night.
June 17, 2012 Comments Off
These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
June 3, 2012 Comments Off