Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Laurel Street Fair and the Sad Lack of Baseball Brawls

Michael L.

pinella munson
Yankee left-fielder, Lou Pienella,
and catcher, Thurmon Munson in 1976.
Anyone who follows my writings knows that I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In fact, I lived in a variety of apartments in San Francisco with Laurie throughout the late 1990s and 00s before we purchased a home in the Laurel District of Oakland.  I have lived in North Beach, two separate residences in the Richmond District, and the Excelsior in SF.  Now we own a place in the Oakland foothills and I love our neighborhood, in part because I love good food.

I am actually kind-of a skinny guy.  I do not really eat that much, but I used to cook for a living and know a thing or two about deliciousness.  The worst food on the planet comes from people with money and the best food comes from the poor.  Anthony Bourdain would definitely agree. Nobody on this planet eats worse than the ignorant rich.

They obviously eat more, but they definitely do not eat more deliciously.

They like to think that they do because they can afford expensive restaurants, but on a day-to-day matter they do not.

There is something pathetic about rich people spending considerable money in cities throughout the United States and Europe for inferior food.  What I would recommend to anyone who wants to eat deliciously is to go into your local poor neighborhoods.

I live on the cusp of rich people and poor people.  If I look east, toward the Oakland hills, I see the homes of the wealthy.  If I look west, toward downtown, I see ghetto between here and there.

Downtown, itself, is actually doing pretty well and Oakland, in general, while always struggling, is seeing some very interesting development in various spots around the city and Laurie and I are even considering buying into Oakland's waterfront area just opposite the cute island town of Alameda, which, itself, is just east across the Bay from San Francisco.

I am not jumping into anything, but we shall see.  One thing is certain, more and more white, middle-class, upward-mobile yupsters are buying housing in the East Bay because San Francisco is just too damn expensive.  The median home price there is now upwards of one million dollars and it is turning San Francisco into a ginger-bread town.  I love the place but, year upon year, it is becoming more a tourist destination than a place for people to live... but this has been going on for a long time.

In any case, come next month we are having the Laurel Street Fair, which actually takes place on MacArthur Boulevard, but who is counting?

This is a little video concerning the upcoming event that one of my neighbors put together and it says a lot about the best of human diversity.

People from a huge variety of backgrounds can, in fact, live in harmony.  We have not seen a whole lot of JayinPhiladelphia recently, but I know for certain that he would agree with that sentiment.

This is diversity in its positive aspect.

Not only do I get to see these beautiful women dance, but I am within a stone's throw of great Chinese food, great Soul food, great Indian food, great Japanese food, great Pakistani food, and a new joint that just opened up down the road called Sequoia that is bringing the regular American diner to the next level.

This, obviously, is not my usual kind of post.  I am not bitching about the heinous Obama administration and its loathsome foreign policy in the Middle East and I am not fretting over what I have to say that might be more acceptable to university professors or the editors of news.

But sometimes it is nice to look out your window and know where you are.

{This piece is for Jay.}

Go Giants!

Go A's!

We live where we are and, I have to tell you, I am exceedingly happy to live where I do.

The Giants play in AT&T Park while the A's play in the Oakland Coliseum, otherwise known as "the bunker."

The park is beautiful.  The bunker is not.

I've actually learned to appreciate the bunker.  I cannot get sushi - not that I would ever want to eat sushi there - but the fans are one hell of a lot more fun.  These are not polite upscale yuppies, but rowdy working-class people who scream their bleeding heads off.

In fact, I am becoming more and more convinced that there is a direct and mathematical correspondence to the downfall of the United States and the lack of baseball brawls in recent decades.


Well, alright, perhaps not mathematical.

But what does it say about the character of the United States if we no longer have baseball brawls?

Anyone who knows anything about American baseball knows about the ugly rivalry between the noble New York Yankees and the insidious Boston Red Sox.

In 1973 the Yanks slugged it out with the Sox and Red Sox pitcher, Bill Lee - who I actually have considerable fondness for - claimed that seeing the Yankees fight was like watching a bunch of women sling around their purses.  I am paraphrasing, but this is essentially what he told the Boston sports press at the time.

Three years later, in Yankee Stadium, Yankee third-basemen, Graig Nettles (a palooka, for sure) absolutely kicked Bill Lee's ass.

He was later quoted as saying something like, "I just did not want Bill to think that he was being hit by a purse."

I am pretty sure that the announcer was Phil Rizzuto, otherwise known as the Scooter.

{Holy Cow!}

Bill Lee never quite recovered from Graig Nettles beating.

Lee later claimed that he suspected Yankees manager, Billy Martin, of encouraging his players to hit him in the head.  He referred to "Yankee Brownshirts" or "Martin's Brownshirts."

Well, Billy Martin was a tough guy, but a small fellah.  As a second basemen in the glory days of the Yanks in the 1950s he never hit many home runs, but he certainly hit enough guys in bars.

He said that it was not the size of the dog in the fight that matters, but the size of the fight in the dog.

Laurie and I are going to watch the insidious Cleveland Indians get their tushkies beaten by the Oakland Athletics in the bunker on this coming Saturday afternoon.

I intend to eat a few dogs and maybe drink a few beers.

I doubt that I will get into a fight, unless my brother Steven shows up... and, in that case, I would love to get into a fight.  There are sometimes people who deserve a good slug in the mouth, after all.

{Am I wrong?}


  1. Love it! Except all that yankees pablum. Boo! BOO!

    Makes me want to sit in the stands with Ed Rendell and throw snowballs at dallas cowboys. ;)

    I love Oakland. I hope I can get back there one day. American cities certainly have our problems, but for all of them, we at least live well and beautifully together. And yeah, our food diversity! I'm pretty sure there's nothing you can't find in Philly anymore, but the best of it is definitely the authentic ethnic cuisines in our poorer neighborhoods. Mostly Dominican and Puerto Rican around my way, but hop the El or a bus a few minutes in any direction, and you'll find the rest.

    I can guarantee you the Palestinian family at Liberty Choice under the Berks El and I won't see eye to eye on many things politically, but it's the food that counts during our encounters at the, umm... counter!

  2. btw, I am mistaken.

    The announcer in this broadcast is not Phil Rizzuto.

    I wish it was.

    I always loved the Scooter.

    WPIX, Chanel 11, NY, when I was a kid.

    1. I have been to many of the places you mentioned, and I must agree about the food part, especially in the Bay Area, yum. I used to play gigs at was once Jack London Village. You could see Alameda right across from there. Also used to go about 20 to 30 A's games every season. The Coliseum was the nicer ball park in those days, before the renovations and when the Giants still played at the Candlestick refrigerator and wind tunnel.

      (Jay, don't read this part.)
      Absolutely loved that video! (I think that might have been the Red Sox feed.) Nettles loved to mix it up both physically and verbally. Remember the "from Cy Young to Syanara" line about Sparky Lyle? He was a practical joker too.
      Once, Ron Guidry (?) loaded the bases and Nettles came in from third to give him a "pep talk." What did he say? Something like "I don't know how you're gonna get out of this one."
      Back in those days the Yankees and Red Sox players absolutely hated each other. You can't have fights like that anymore because the players are worth too much money. The rich get the best seats but don't get stuff like that anymore. Kind of like your comments on food.

      Thanks, Mike, that was a nice break from the usual, and a really fun read!

  3. What kind of a world is it wherein people are raising American kids without baseball brawls??

    What is going on here??

    Maybe high school baseball coaches aren't doing their jobs right. I may have to talk to Warren about this. Warren is Danika's husband, a high school football coach in Maryland, and Danika is Laurie's twin sister.

    Look, when I was a kid Americans had baseball brawls. No one ever really got hurt accept for Bill Lee... but Bill Lee is kind of a pussie.



    Maybe this is why Americans and Australians get along so well!

    What do you say, Geoffff?

  4. We traded Cole Hamels three years too late, but at least we got a much better haul for him than I would have expected. I just want to be able to watch a Phillies game and not be in pain sometime again before the end of my life. ;)

    Rebuild, rebuild, rebuild!