Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Skiers--Don't Hate Me

Better than Indiana, which is not saying much.

I owe the skiers of the Sierra Nevada a big apology. We decided to take the plunge this year and go in on a ski lease share of a house in Tahoe. I love to ski, Gianni loves to ski (Rick hates to ski, but that's a minor technicality), and I hate to admit it but I do miss the snowy winters out here in One Season Land, so we opted for a little more snow in our lives.

And what do we get? A very little more snow. The littlest snow possible. In fact, San Francisco, and pretty much the whole state, is experiencing its fifth driest January since 1850. I can't help but feel that it's because we spent cash money and effort on a winter ski place. If we'd stayed home, it would be snowing buckets right now. So on behalf of all of the Politos, I am sorry. My bad.

How bad is the snow? If you are from California or any state with snow-capped peaks, it's shiteous. If you're from Indiana and grew up skiing there? (That's not a typo--there actually is skiing in Indiana, at resorts with hilarious names like Paoli "Peaks".) The Sierra snow level this year is still the best skiing of your life.

The first day up this season, when the hills were literally brown with lack of snow, I heard people talk about the lousy coverage and the shitty iciness of the slopes. I had the fear.
But when I got out there, sliding on the ice and cruising over the rocks, I realized: Hey! These are truly crappy conditions! Just like home! It was like being thrown into the Briar Patch. Or something.

Anyway, snow or not, we're going up this weekend to bounce off the exposed rocks like human pinballs. Whee. If there are any spring, summer, or fall dreams you'd like me to crush with a large cash expenditure, let me know.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Fish are Anarchists, Not Food

Meet the two newest Politos, Sacco and Vanzetti!

Gianni wanted Italian names for the fishes, and we have always wanted to name a pair of something Sacco and Vanzetti. Everyone wins.

If we get a third fish, we'll have to name it J. Edgar Hoover. It'll be fat and ugly and suspicious of the other fish.

Do they make garter belts in that size?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I Am Old

Imagine him four feet tall. And missing his front teeth.

Like most of the Midwest and probably a good portion of the rest of the country, I watched the Seahawks-Bears nail-biter on Sunday afternoon. I hardly ever watch football; it's just not on my radar. But I grew up in a jock town, with rabid Bears fans for parents. And when you're in a ski lodge and there's a bar full of people who actually care who wins shouting at the TVs dotting the room, it's hard not to feel the love and get caught up in the excitement. Watching the Bears on the tube, it was almost like being home again.

Actually, it was really like being home again. Because there in technicolor, flinging the pigskin up and down the field, was Little Rex Grossman. Actually, now he's Big Rex Grossman Who Can Benchpress Ten Of Me While Eating a Large Pizza. But it wasn't always that way.

See, the Grossmans lived in the same town where I grew up. They were even our next-door neighbors for a while. I remember when Rex was a little guy, about 7 years old, running around with no front teeth and an oversized Indiana football jersey (Anthony Thompson's number, if I'm not mistaken.) I think I even babysat him once with my friend Becky. I remember the three Grossman kids being sweet, well-behaved, confident, and, even at a young age, jocks.

Rex won the state championship with my high school football team in his senior year. He bucked the family tradition of Indiana football (both his father and grandfather played at IU) and opted instead for the University of Florida. My parents got Christmas cards every year with every single Grossman, Grossman-in-law, and baby Grossman decked out head to toe in orange and blue. They were a little, um, enthusiastic. Mom and Dad went to Rex's wedding last year, which served to remind me that I am approximately 150 years old. Which would make me, watching the Bears game in Lake Tahoe, about 157. I'm counting in dog years.

And the amazing thing? It's happened before. With another Former Child. A few years ago, I was watching North Carolina run away yet again with the NCAA basketball title, and noticed that the star of the team was a kid named Sean May. Sean May, as in cute little Sean May, for whom I'm pretty sure I also babysat back when the earth cooled and dinosaurs roamed the earth. His dad is former Indiana superstar Scott May (1976 champs, undefeated! Woo!). I once spent a week in Rome with my friend for my graduation present; we stayed with Scott May, who was a close friend of her dad and Huge In Europe, playing basketball more or less tax-free and living in a phat pad paid for by Banco di Roma outside the city.

When did this HAPPEN?

Both of these brushes with athletic greatness and adventures in babysitting make me think about my own son, who is about the same age Rex Grossman was the last time I saw him. It may seem like a stunning coincidence that I know two current standout athletes from our respective childhoods, but this was Bloomington. It happened. A lot. Athletics ruled the world. Our college basketball team dominated, our high school teams played for blood, and every father wanted his son to be the next great sports hero. The quarterback. Mr. Basketball.

Danny Grossman wanted it so badly that he groomed his son from the youngest possible age for gridiron greatness, hired coaches, built training rooms in the family house. I remember thinking at one point, this kid is either going to the NFL or he's going to get picked up by the cops going 160 miles an hour in his car, doing blow on the dashboard with a tranny hooker. Luckily, he loved football and he was good at it. So that worked out.

But it all reminded me how happy I am that my kids are growing up in San Francisco. In Indiana, people look at Gianni's tall frame and they don't see "kid." They see "power forward," or "outside linebacker." And if he turns out to love art or dance or D and D or video games, or anything but an activity involving a ball, they see him differently; or worse, not at all. Gianni is free to be whatever hero or freak he wants to be, and if he ends up using his size to pummel the opposition, that's fine. But if he doesn't, that is OK too. (In SF, maybe people see him and think, "Tranny Hooker." Who knows?)

He is blessed. And I am old.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

I'm Huge in New Zealand

Nelson, New Zealand: It Doesn't Suck

Our friends Kim and Mike are visiting from New Zealand. They are in the exclusive club of people who actually read my blog, so they deserve a shout out. They have their own extremely entertaining blog, here:


Kim and Mike are not Kiwis by birth. New Zealand is their adopted home. They used to live in San Diego, where Mike taught unruly eighth-graders and Kim was a nurse and yoga teacher (not at the same time, sadly). They had a lovely house overlooking a canyon and a nice life. One day, they looked around, saw George W. Bush's idiot grin for the zillionth time, and said, Fuck this Place. This country is being run by evil morons. We don't want to live here anymore. So they sold the house and the cars and the rest of the stuff and moved. To New Zealand.

Now, they live in a pretty little house on a hilltop overlooking the town of Nelson and the Tasman Sea that cost about 1/4 of what our flat in the city costs. They live in a town of 30,000 people in a country of 4.1 million people. They have a national park practically at their doorstep. They see a lot of sheep and not that many first-run movies. And they fucking love it.

George Bush Doesn't Live Here.

Sure, it's a long-ass way from family and friends. Mike's son and daughter-in-law are having their first baby in a few weeks and they won't be here. That's hard. But life sounds pretty wonderful down there and they are putting down roots. Even though any roots they brought with them were confiscated by the agriculture cops when they came in. (Kim tells me that her Christmas decorations, which were fake with some unfortunately lifelike pinecones, were ransacked at customs. Don't fuck with New Zealand.)

Public Enemy Number One

It's official. December 2008 is Christmas in New Zealand. You heard it here first. We're hoarding frequent-flier miles and Valium starting now. Can we get the kids to watch movies for 24 hours straight? I don't know, but when I look at those gorgeous beaches, I'm willing to give it a shot.