Monday, November 20, 2006

Yesterday And Today

The pitcher's mound is lower than I remember, but the rest of that field looks as it did in 1972. The houses, same colors, just behind the outfield fence; the street along the first base line; the concession stand, now shuttered for the winter, in back of left field -- it all remains, at least for the moments I spent lingering there on Saturday morning. Standing at short, my main position back then, I let the whole scene swarm over me, and for a brief instant I felt the unsullied excitement of playing ball at St. Albans, the crack of wooden, not aluminum, bats coming from the other two diamonds, parents yelling encouragement and critiques, balls slapping leather, kids chanting "Hey batter batter . . . swing!" Then I snap back to the present, a graying man alone on the field of his youth, kicking up dirt for old time's sake.

Not all of my weekend visit to Indy was this nostalgic, but a lot of it was, unavoidable whenever I go back there now. Perhaps it's a middle age thing, for I was never that interested in the old sites when I came home from New York or LA. These days, however, a memory's mere scent starts the time machine in my head, and there I am, occupying a boy's body, using his eyes and nerve endings to relive a moment long dead, in an effort to better understand my present self. It's a narcissistic but necessary practice, especially with a son encountering some of the same obstacles I did at his age (and older). It's as if I'm trying to link my son to that boy and show him that he's not alone, that he's connected to this timeline which can be and has been altered to better negotiate those obstacles he currently faces. My son's big advantage is that he, for all of his anxiety about performing well in school and at home, is much more secure in his skin than I was in mine. On that front, the present tutors the past.

As for present day Indianapolis, it seems less hawkish than the last time I was there. What residents personally feel is another matter, but there aren't as many outward prowar signs and expressions --- plenty of Support The Troops stickers, but today, that could be construed as antiwar as well. Not surprising, really. At this point, only blood-maddened sadists and disconnected ideologues rant favorably about the Iraqi slaughterhouse. There's not much more to discuss, save ending the US presence, which isn't going to happen anytime soon, if ever, especially with Dems in the saddle. The mules want a more "realistic" approach to attacking and helping rip apart other countries. They want to be considered "credible." This is not the language of an opposition party seeking justice and political rollback. It is the rhetoric of the corporate state's other wing, hungry for power and influence after years of muttering in the shadows. Right now, they're stretching their arms and cracking their necks, preparing for the real deal in January. Think things have changed? Just wait.

I suppose the measure of how muted prowar arguments have become can be seen in my aunt and uncle, with who I spent time Friday night. When last I saw them, there was a heated political exchange between my aunt and I as she tried to persuade me that Bush's invasion was all about democracy, freedom, soda pop, hot dogs and balloons. There was none of that Friday. Not a word about Iraq from either of them. What could they say? As much as I desired to, I didn't broach the topic, which would've been a nasty gesture on my part, given that their rationales are currently on the ropes. Instead, they went on and on about O.J. Simpson's "If I Did It" grab for money and attention, knowing that no one at that table would have Juice's back. Then the Emilio Estevez film "Bobby" came up, and their eyes brightened a bit at the memory and possibility of RFK's 1968 presidential run, stopped by Sirhan Sirhan in a California kitchen. That was their generation, and it clearly still resonates with them. When I said that the Vietnam war was a criminal enterprise and that they were right to oppose it, they fell silent and stared off. I didn't intend for my statement to be a veiled criticism of their pro-Iraq war stance, but that's how it appeared to be taken. When you mention one imperial war, the others aren't far from view. And seeing how the dismemberment of Iraq (which as a country has pretty much ceased to exist) is in many ways worse than what happened in Southeast Asia, at least in geopolitical terms, reminding those who favored this war just how wrong they were is not the nicest way to connect. Appropriate, necessary, yes. But not polite conversation.

Still, they helped to set the current mood. Having it thrown violently back in their faces is to be expected.

WATCH: Patrick Cockburn report on just how really fucking beyond belief awful Iraq presently is. I can see why bashing O.J. is preferable to defending that insanity.