People walk barefoot hundreds of miles to Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain. I think that qualifies as a pilgrimage. The closest equivalent in my own life is riding a greyhound bus 36 hours to reach Haight Ashbury in San Francisco. I wanted to visit the informal grave of the hippy culture in Golden Gate Park.
I wasn’t disappointed I met a Vietnam vet at the McDonalds across the street from the park’s entrance and he took me there, showed me the spot. We hung out a long while. I listened, but never felt connected in some visceral way to the area’s history. It was the same for me at Fenway park in Boston, Wrigley Field Chicago and dozens of other places with a reputation for having “tradition.” I’m either too lost in my own thoughts or the whole notion of feeling the history of a place is just some marketing thing people say.
Chicago recently celebrated 100 years of Wrigley Field. WGN TV aired a documentary Saturday afternoon that included audio clips of players I had never heard of from before TV. One name-Paul Waner I recognized. He wasn’t even on the Cubs. He was a Pirate and I don’t remember why he was mentioned, but it doesn’t matter; only his voice does.
I recognized it immediately as sounding like Woody Guthrie’s voice. I waited till now-Tuesday night to check if Paul Waner and Woody Guthrie were born close to each other and sure enough, both were from Oklahoma.
I have two cassettes of Guthrie; yeh cassettes. One is a mix from a friend and the other a live interview with Guthrie strumming songs and telling stories. I’ve only listened to it a few dozen times and the last time was more than 5 years ago, but the sound and accent of Guthrie spinning yarns about dust bowls stays in my head. Goes something like Well, ya know a lot of them folk in that room were apocalypse people, so when that dust came a rolling in, they was certain their time had come.
I pulled out the Guthrie tape yesterday and yep, that sound and voice connected me to history. Got me dreaming up things Paul Waner mighta said. Goes something like, well, ya know,that wind whipped up something mighty and that ball I hit musta got tangled up in her.
It’s probably the colorful expressions Guthrie uses and the accent I’m not too familiar with and the way he pauses in mid sentence and then lifts his voice in some merry crescendo. The strangeness or simplicity or beauty of it all takes me back to dust bowls and living day to day, riding the rails and what not.
There was no Paul Waner or Woody Guthrie and no dust bowls in St. Louis Tuesday night; just game 2 of the Brewers Cardinals series. And there was no Braun, no Segura, no Ramiriez, and no Lucroy in the Brewer’s lineup. The season is long and injuries happen. Players need to rest. It’s a “tough road to hoe” over the 162 game grind.
I played Guthrie in the background as I watched the game. My audio talisman had a two-fold design; soothe me and symbolically connect hard traveling hobos to the banged up Brewers; with no running water producers and next to no electricity in the lineup, but carrying on just the same. No time for cute names like the “dust bowl blues.” There was a game to be played.
Kyle Lohse was facing his old battery mate Yadier Molina in the first inning when boom, Molina hit a three run home run. Cardinals lead 3-0. The Brewers tied the game in the fourth inning when Lohse drove in two runs with two strikes on him. He punched a single over the shortstops’s head and helped his own cause.
The Brewers eventually won the game 5-4 in 11 innings. For the second consecutive night, the game was decided in extra innings and for the second consecutive night, Khris Davis got the key hit. And for the second consecutive night K-Rod recorded the save. And for the second consecutive night, the Brewers beat the Cardinals. And for the second consecutive night, I go to bed after midnight.
The Brewers are 20-7 and 11-1 on the hard traveling road. And I’m not sure what day it is.