brewers baseball and things

green thumbs and the neurotic samurai


The pamphlet for summer camps always arrived around Halloween. Time to prepare and save money and what not. Mom didn’t believe in such a list. She sent us to the Maple School Day camp. It was within walking distance to our house, public, and good enough.

The camp had everything we needed; kickball, nok hockey, peanut butter sandwiches, arts and crafts. I loved that nok hockey, but we made tie die shirts and that was ok too. There were a  few new friends. We walked home at 4 in the afternoon, ate dinner and fell asleep maybe around 9; totally exhausted. That made Mom satisfied.

There were also dictator and culture fashion camps; private  and way up north near Eagle River, Wisconsin.. We saw the brochures and heard the stories from kids who were forced to attend. Ambition was the culprit I guess. The kids hated it and wanted nothing more than to be with us, sitting around-nok hockey style, but no such luck. They were destined to discover the world of elitism and manipulation.

There were emotionally disturbed children; abandoned children and run of the mill rich kids at those camps. And some went on to become executives of big companies; others entry-level professionals. There were poets and plumbers, disc jockeys, husbands and wives, vagabonds. And all of em felt elite and exercised manipulation to get what they wanted.

On this day another relic probably crumbles in a far away land and that’s ok because, another statue and idol is raised up somewhere in the Portugese section of Montreal; maybe under a gazebo beside a street named Durocher.

Someone writes a song about that street and integrates the muslim conquest of Spain as a metaphor somewhere in the song, but come sunset, all the day’s sand grains are gone and still….there is no chorus so that becomes the chorus. In a slow tree waving motion with imaginary arms over imaginary shoulders we all sing because we can….

“come sunset, all the day’s sand grains are gone and still….there is no chorus.” And right about then, someone named Frank pulls a kazoo from his invisible holster and slips into a solo. The sound is a drunk flag and it takes the sun down. Night comes on like a blanket.

The Brewers won 1-0 Saturday. The Brewers lost 0-1 Sunday. Night and day. Day and night. According to magazines at the local Little Burgundy library, milkweed and potato bean run wild in urban areas and the two plants could feed the world.

I climbed a tree instead and removed dead branches. I was doing my neighbor a favor, but as it turned out, the favor was for me. It was yesterday. I spent 2 hours breaking the larger branches into smaller kindling and forgot about the whole damn world. When I finally came up for air and felt the suffocation again, all I wanted to do was make a fire with all that kindling.

But we can’t build a tiny hooverville fire in the backyard of a low rent apartment complex because of tree huggers whining about oil spills and automobile exhaust, plastic exhaust emissions.

Or maybe it’s Hydro Quebec and their monopoly on our energy supply. They don’t want us to heat our shelters with firewood foraged from local forests; the backyards of Mr. Jean Coutu. Or maybe the tree huggers and Hydro Quebec and oil companies and utility companies and politicians are all in cahoots; a doctor and pharmacists racket. We make the disease because we sell the cure. Self reliance is tabooooo.

I manipulated those branches a little harder..into twigs and placed em in a brown paper bag. Amazing how much can fit. I went inside; nursed my scraped forearms back into ready position, watched Ghost Dog the movie for the 12th time and dreamed of reaching neurotic samurai-hood…meditating on death while building a bon fire; Hagakure at my side.

The Brewers are 80-76.


Author: Steve Myers

I grew up in Milwaukee and have been a Milwaukee Brewers baseball fan for as long as I can remember.

11 thoughts on “green thumbs and the neurotic samurai

  1. Steve, I used to love Knock Hockey. (Nok hockey? Is that how it’s actually spelled?)

    One thing that we never, ever did was use the sticks that were provided. We used our thumbs, always. I wonder if kids still play knock hockey. Maybe I’ll get a knock hockey board for my nephew for his 10th birthday. But he’s SO into basketball. Thank God he never got into video games. I hate that crap.

    I guess he’d play nok hockey (or knock hockey) during the harsh and always snowy Binghamton, N.Y. winters, when he can’t play basketball outside. Actually, he loves basketball so much, he probably WOULD play it in the deep snow!

    We played it at day camp, too. Here’s a picture of our group or whatever they called it at Camp Baumann. It was 1969. We loved to play knock hockey, softball, flip baseball cards, arts and crafts (I seem to recall I made a little miniature boat made of popsicle sticks), and peak into the holes in the metal walls of the girls swimming dressing room. Every day, at lunch, we had Sunny Dew orange drink from wax cartons with our hamburgers while fighting off the ever-present Yellow Jacks and keeping them from stinging us. That was a happy summer for me!

    Can you guess, based on the picture of me taken nine years later in the “In Your Face Basketball Book”, which one is me? Look at that picture again, taken when I was almost 17, and try to picture a kid eight years younger, at age eight. Try to take a guess, Steve. I’ll bet it won’t be too hard, because I didn’t look that different from how I looked in that picture of me dribbling the basketball at age 17, really, except, of course, it was long before I hit puberty.


    • I’m not too good with mug shots or family photo find waldo or in this case match Glen at 9 with Glen at 17, but if I had to guess… maybe the kid in the first row with the white socks? I don’t know. Maybe someone else else knows. Any Private eye dicks in the house?

  2. I read a little too quickly and first thought you were cutting down branches in Mr. Jean Cocteau’s backyard, which would make you le enfant terrible indeed.

  3. A Jew with blond hair? I don’t think so, Steve! Although I do VAGUELY remember that kid.

    Actually, that’s a stereotype. I’ve known Jews with blond hair, particularly those who came from around Holland.

    However, my family didn’t come from Holland. One side of my family escaped from Poland, and the other side escaped from Lithuania.

    I have, and always did have, dark hair. Although now with the grey coming in, it’s getting lighter!

    You wanna make one more guess? Hint— I was a short kid. I still am short. I always WILL be short. And I’m very fair-skinned. In the photo, I’m fair-skinned, too. Come on, you can figure this out! Look at the top row! It’s easy!


    • Why do they call it grey hair? It looks more silver too me…a dull silver, but not grey, but anyways, I don’t care too much about colors except when it comes to food. I like different colors in my food, but then again a plain burger is great.

  4. I wonder if we were in the middle of saying “CHEESE!” at the moment that the photo was taken. Or maybe we were saying “CHEESEBURGER”, like on the McDonald’s commercials that were on TV around that time.

    Here’s another clue. I’m the best-looking guy in the top row. Just like I was such a good-looking stud in your basketball book. And I was very, very happy (which was something that I seldom was in my neighborhood at home, or in the fourth grade, which was what I was going into when the summer was over. But i loved camp, so I was very, very happy!

    Okay, I’ll tell ya! From left to right in the top row: Tim (the counselor of our group), three guys whose names I don’t remember, then Steve Sparacio, then Glen Russell Slater, then some other guy whose name I don’t remember, then some guy who’s last name was Zimmerman who was really lousy at sports and we used to get on him about that! (Kids are cruel). I think his name was Eric Zimmerman. I remember for sure his last name was Zimmerman. It’s funny, but he looks Spanish, and Zimmerman isn’t a Spanish name.

    But, yeah, I’m the 6th person from the left, the shortest guy. Look at those skinny legs and the black Keds sneakers! Or, if you want to go from right to left, I’m the third kid from the left, the one with the biggest lips. (Too bad I didn’t grow up to be Mick Jagger.)

    The only other kid besides Steve and Zimmerman whose name I remember is the guy who’s in the middle in the front row. His name was Roy Vingan. I swear to God that I’m not telling you no jive when I tell you that today he’s a well-respected brain surgeon in New Jersey! I sure hope he washes his hands before operating on people’s brains if he still persists on keeping his hands on his crotch, like it appears in this picture!

    I love old pictures from when I was a kid! Life was so much simpler and happier back then.


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