Dig Deep, Rear Back, and Let it Go, I Guess

Stealing Away into the afternoon coastal haze and thinking about whatever's next (blah blah blah)

On weekday afternoons, I have the luxury of taking the dog (Bernie the wonder kelpie who predictably was rescued mid-pandemic from the local shelter) for his midday cordial about a half-mile from our home.

(BTW, he wanted me to let you know that every morning when I write this, he’s also right next to me no matter what the hour. Most of the time, he’s curled up behind me and sleeping as I lean forward to make room for him. Any permanent damage he’s doing to my back is temporarily offset by him acting as a sort of defacto heating pad at the same time.)

The place is some open space behind the last possible development in my little unincorporated area. There’s a sandy trail that leads to a field of coastal chaparral, where the birders on any given day can spy turkey vultures, California quail, five kinds of hawk, and a host of more seaworthy avian creatures: snowy plovers, brown pelicans, Sternidae, and Western grebe.

The wide trail gives way to a single track which eventually ends up coming to a halt at the marshy end of an inlet from the bay.

Dead ahead are three-story-high dunes where sometimes the bored youths schlep their boogie boards out and slide on down, unsupervised for the afternoon. Over the dunes is the Pacific, whose somnolent roar acts as white noise running constant over the whole scene.

There are a few regular other dog walkers out there, but we’re spread out enough that we’re mostly a half a mile apart, disparate dots on the horizon.

In the winter months (January through March), there’s usually a handful of new Toyota pick-ups and SUVs with big racks on top for surfboards and Serious Surfer-type accouterment. The mile-and-a-half walk out with all their support crew, and gear is well worth the wave (though I’m sworn to secrecy about the exact location, town rules.)

The only other person I see on the regular is the cashier at one of the local gas station, coming in from wherever he shelters. He passes me and gives me a wave as he heads to work.

I get to think about it all while watching Bernie cause havoc with the birds or ground squirrels or whoever he can find to engage with him for a few moments before they skitter away or scare him.

For an hour a day, I’m lucky enough to be able to move my body and walk out to a place that only I know about. I get to look at things and imagine what it was like, only a century ago, to be here stripped of whatever defines my day while humming bars from “Steal Away.”

No houses, no cars, no leaf blower noise—not a single luxury. No internet, no phone. No water issues, no soon-to-be-decommissioned nuclear power plant around the bend.

Boy, what damage we’ve done in such a short time.

It’s in these moments I think about the work I do, the book I just finished, all the mistakes I made that led me there, and the future ones I’m sure to make to either keep me here or cast me off once more. Will I ever fully enjoy it? Probably not. Am I doing the right thing? Am I using all I have to help where (and who) I can?

Definitely not.

Yesterday on the walk I kept thinking about Reece Witherspoon selling her media company “Hello Sunshine” to private equity giant Blackstone Group Inc. for $900 million.

Her venture is notable for producing prestige TV and movies that are easy to look at your phone to like “Big Little Lies,” “Little Fires Everywhere,” and “The Morning Show,” along with real eye-roller side ventures like Reese’s Book Club.

And I don’t know why I’m obsessed (because it’s not like I have NOTHING ELSE GOING ON besides a multi-multi-millionaires’ transactions that I don’t know anything about and has ZERO BEARING ON MY LIFE!!!), but it just ...bugs the shit out of me.

And, along with the lottery payout, Reece’ll get to pick up $250k in perpetuity each time she does a 45 min. corporate speaker gig for culturally appropriative #girlboss types on how being That Bitch enabled her to crack the bro code and launch her into the divorced-guy-in-space stratosphere.

Maybe it's just Blackstone itself. They've got their fingers in many pies all hellbent on bringing about the end of society—fast. 

Whether it’s buying billions of dollars worth of low- and moderate-income housing so they can evict, charge more, and keep people permanently renting and or displaced/impoverished, or being picketed at their Manhattan offices by coal miners from Alabama who are about to lose their benefits, healthcare, and likely jobs after the firm bought their parent company out of bankruptcy earlier this year—their mission is to do their worst, always and in every way. They’ll not only destroy everything in their wake but dismantle the boat as they're doing it. 

…It’s them turning out the last century of ingenuity and productivity and individual labor and selling it for scrap, whenever, wherever, however they can.

And they’ll do the same to Reece’s company, and she’ll gladly promote it with her signature smile and southern belle twang. Because while late capitalism doesn’t create, it does enrich the few on such a large scale, nobody can fathom it. Beneficiaries like Reece, her husband, and their investors, “glow up” so mightily that they find a little bit of safe ground not only for them but the five generations behind them—and that’s it. Worth it!

It’s …beyond disturbing to know that even the already wealthiest and most-revered among us are so treacherously thirsty, and scrambling so hard. What is it that they know that the rest of us don’t? Whatever it is, it’s about a finite amount of time and resources. Get yours!

But then, back here on actual Earth, it hits me that I’m outdoors, walking. And none of these plants or animals care. If anything, they want me gone. I look at my dog leaping in and out of the brush, the afternoon coastal winds picking up and exfoliating my skin with a thousand particles of sand, and I think, well, this is certainly one place to be for it all to end.

And suddenly I’m filled with gratitude.

Giants vs. Diamondbacks

I managed to catch a few innings of the Giants vs. the Diamondbacks Tuesday night in Arizona.

At first, I gave Diamondbacks’ fans a little too much credit for spacing themselves out WAAAAAAY more than six feet apart thinking they were somehow the best fans/org in baseball doing the thing now that Delta Plus will kill you, fast ...but no, it’s only your run-of-the-mill last place team failing to get anyone to cram into a giant air-conditioned monolith regardless of whether there’s an empty pool in the outfield.

Giants legend Madison Bumgarner, the same man who took the team to three World Series victories and managed to hit 19 home runs for them in 12 seasons, was simply dominant in a strange powder blue-accented Diamondbacks uniform.

His loping stride and his albatross reach baffled most of the Giants’ B-squad. Front-line starters Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford were out of the lineup along with several others about to come off the injured list getting one more day of rest. The Saturday matinee cast was more an early-week patchwork of baseball’s current best team.

But it was worth watching to hear the away team’s play-callers rhapsodize about a 19-year-old Bumgarner who three lifetimes ago as a 19-year-old rookie from BFE North Carolina refused manager Bruce Bochy’s request for him to shut down his season going into the 2010 playoffs to the extent that he warmed up for a game he was scratched from till Bochy relented and “let the kid pitch.”

It took years and, more importantly to Bumgarner, that one big nine-figure contract away.

...But to the big lefty, it seems to be worth it.

Some things are more important than money; legacy, perhaps, being one of them.

He gassed that golden arm, and his hand will forever be weighted with three rings to go along with the unexceptional back end of a star-streaking-across-the-sky career. If he’s ever to make it into Cooperstown (who cares!), he’ll be there because he was simply the most dominant postseason pitcher of all time, not because he got do drop $200m in the Caymans.

…So maybe therein lies the answer. Be like Madison. Live for today. Throw as hard as you can, as much as you can, while you still can. Know that tomorrow, or what you think tomorrow should be, is never a guarantee.

Rear back and let it rip—it’ll be over soon enough anyway.

Take the Giants (67-39) -179 vs. Arizona (33-74) +162 6:40 p.m. PST Wednesday at Chase Field in Arizona