Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Once A Jock Always A Jock? A New Found Love for Ball Sports

This week the regular season starts for the San Francisco Giants!

What are the chances that we would get to do this yet again in October 2015?


Why have I gone back to my childhood fascination with ball sports? 

The answers are simple, but deserving of some explanation. 

Kids

That should say pretty much all of it.

The New Digital Reality Juxtaposed With The Healthy Essence Of Play And Kicking And Throwing A Ball Around


There is little question that the push and drive for young people to plug in to screen time and to lose hours of their lives to electronic devices is a major factor in my new found love as a parent for ball sports and simple play. What could be more natural and physical than kicking, throwing, catching, and batting a ball, in all their spherical shapes and sizes and different games? Ball play is a full on living experiment in pure perfect physics, and it is with out question a healthy escape from the digital madness that is making robots out of entire generations.

Stupid Sportball - Outrageous Salaries and Violent Videogames and Movie Commercials During Broadcasts 

There are things about sports that I still find aberrant, such as the fact that most owners of professional franchises are rich, white, and pricks. Or the crazy salaries. Or the militarization of society, the violent videogame and movie commercials that bombard the family during a sports broadcast, is there no understanding of the violation of family friendly culture such violence represents? How the commercials penetrate and negatively impact the healthy aspects of sports? Or how pathetic it is that during the playoffs they make everyone sing "God Bless America" during the 7th Inning Stretch instead of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame?"

Still, with all of this in mind I have been living a major resurgence in the last 5 years of the passion I had through much of my youth for sports.

As well, it makes it exciting to appreciate sports as a fan in Nor Cal because of the success of teams like the San Francisco Giants and the Golden State Warriors. I can't claim to be a long time fan of the Warriors but I have been watching them closely this year and they are good!


How it is that a kid who grew up a Dodgers fanatic in the 1970's would turn into an old man fan of the Giants is connected to my original authentic admiration of Willie Mays and Willie McCovey, and of my favorite outfielder when I was a kid, Dusty Baker. When Dusty Baker became a Giants manager it was possible for me to pay attention to Giants success, and root for the Giants.

Admittedly, I was on the fringes for the 2010 World Series, though I knew what it meant to have Edgar Rentaría drive the Giants through to the championship. It was having friends actually witness the Matt Cain perfect game in 2012 and tell me all about it after wards that made me focus on the Giants in a way that I had not been doing. I had been interested in their progress but I was working way too hard slaving away for no real reason to watch the games at that point. Being a fan of sports helped me reclaim time for my own life again. In 2013 I simply began to make time to be a Giants fan, watching games and reading about the team, even though their performance was not so good that year. Basically, my love for baseball began to explode as I began to play ball sports and get outside more and more with my daughter Kiara as she got big enough to play. So 2013 was a bit of a slow Giants year, but that did nothing to keep me from falling in love with the game again.

Then being a Giants fan in 2014 in a real day to day pitch by pitch manner was about as much fun with sports as I have ever had in my life.
 

I will never again work a job from which I cannot take a break in the summer to check out day games, at least once in a while. That will be one of my permanent measures of whether I am being abused in any employment that I might have in the future.

Taking in and learning of baseball in the Liga Mexicana del Pacífico took it even further. That baseball could be a public space that was family safe in the midst of all the convulsion in México took my love for the sport to a very serious place. It is a fun game, and even more so when it is played as a statement of regular people claiming their right to live regular lives. People in the USA know so little about México, and the brilliance of the Liga Mexicana del Pacífico is a prime example, so good, so fun, such an opportunity to understand how much we all have in common, and still totally unknown to most people in the USA. We went to games in Sinaloa and it was a blast.

Baseball and basketball are not the only sports I am having fun with. We did by the way have a great time with the World Cup again in 2014! What a gorgeous and strategic sport is futból!

So sports. Take it all with a great deal of skepticism, but love the play and the level of passion a young person can bring to their sport. Whether it be a ball and a field, roping up for a climb, mounting a bike for a ride, or putting on shoes to dance, it is all the most healthy place for any of us, and especially our children, to be putting time and energy.

Go Giants! Go Warriors!


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Las Montañas Sí Tienen Memoria

The mountains remember us, they are attentive to our thoughts and moods as we pass near and within their domains. Some of my best trips to the mountains never had any possibility of actually getting up high, much less attaining any technical summits. I have felt fortunate to climb mountains, and I have felt fortunate to see them in the distance. Such was my trip to Torres del Paine, Región de Magallanes, Chile, South America. Me acuerdo mucho de mi experiencia con el macizo de Paine. I remember the mountains for what they remind me of as much as for what I touched and felt when I was there. I hiked the W, as it seemed fitting at the time, and I did amazing day hikes into the glacial carved valleys, solo trekking with always interesting company if needed to be found in other campers and trekkers. Torres del Paine in March and April 2003, can you imagine, an austral fall paradise, a dream trip, surreal and hard rock, with the USA invasion of Iraq as the backdrop. I had been working in the field in the Aysén Region of Chile before trekking south through Argentina and into Magallanes upon finishing my contracts, finally seeing Fitzroy and Torres on my own time, free to take advantage of the gorgeous austral autumn, colder weather, shorter days, but less wind, and incredible colors. It was a culmination of many months of planning and work, and an extra bonus after having finished my masters work at the University of Montana. There are times that I just feel fortunate to cast my gaze on world class mountainscapes, and this was definitely one of those times.

I was escaping, as we always do to some degree when we go to the backcountry, but I was still tuned in, literally and figuratively. In the fall of 2002 I had repeatedly made my opposition to the possibilities of a USA war in Iraq very public and clear. I still stand by my position with greater conviction everyday. Though there would be little I could do to halt such ill conceived madness, in early 2003 from Southern South America I was going to track this historically tragic moment closely. For my travel south that year to work in Central Chile and Patagonia I kept a small, energy efficient, and effective shortwave radio in my pack at all times. I could follow the travesty of the invasion, listening from my tent to BBC and Chilean and Argentine news sources, and still confer with the mountains watching our petty human conflicts erupt with their global ramifications. The mountains remember, las Torres del Paine se acuerdan de nosotros, y valoran nuestra pasión para un mundo silvestre que conoce una paz verdadera.
Valle Francés

Valle del Silencio

 Torres del Paine
A note on the photos -- this series of images are digitized but it is from a time before I had a digital camera, I think I had one roll left of the bag of good slide film that I had brought all the way from Montana with me, and maybe a roll or two of cheap print film that I had picked up in Puerto Natales. I must have all of the originals stashed in a box in the attic, but these are the digitized ones that I could find on my current drive. Only a few of these are really quality images. But they are worth a great deal to me, they remind me of all that I had thought and felt during that time, my love for the mountain, and my angst regarding the premonition that the invasion of Iraq was not just violent, that it would have unforeseen repercussions that our communities would be reeling from for decades. The mountains help us see the truth, and they see our true selves. Las montañas sí tienen memoria.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Messengers Have Been Telling Us Something -- But Are We Listening?

There is little doubt in my observations of art and culture that cinema is one of the most powerful mediums for capturing the events of our existence and packaging them in stories that resonate and clarify the reality in which we reside. There is a movie coming out in a few weeks, on October 10, 2014 (the same night that Calle 13 will be at the Warfield in San Francisco!) that will be a powerful example of how film can illuminate and convey stories that are important for understanding our past, our present, and the possibilities in our future. This movie is called Kill The Messenger, and it is about the experience of California based journalist Gary Webb as he broke his Dark Alliance series in 1996 regarding the Nicaraguan Contras, the CIA, and cocaine and crack dealing in California.



This is history that I have been observing in real time since the 1980's when my efforts in Central America solidarity activism taught me in very real terms the sordid reality of US intervention in Central America and other locales around the world.

There are a number of great articles that explore the history and experience of Gary Webb that deserve reading both for the information and as background on the Kill the Messenger film:

The Pariah -- the 1998 story by the incredible writer Charles Bowden.

Hollywood's Gary Webb Movie and the Message that Big Media Couldn't Kill -- a recent story by Narco News founder Al Giordano on his blog The Field about how the story of Gary Webb arrived to the big screen.

Gary Webb: Vindicated -- a recent Narco News story about the perspective of Webb's family on his experience and the soon to be released film.

Managing A Nightmare: How the CIA Watched Over the Destruction of Gary Webb -- a recent article on the amazing new national security state newsite The Intercept regarding the recently released documentation that describes how the CIA handled the PR issues around the Dark Alliance story.

The release and distribution of this film will be important -- one hopes that we can hear the messenger!

Speaking of Messengers...another film that is awaiting release and distribution is the new film Aluna.

This is the film that is the follow up to the amazing BBC documentary about the Kogi people of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in Colombia (see embed below) entitled Heart of the World: The Elder Brothers Warning.

The message was clear decades ago when the Kogi first endeavored to try to communicate to us little brothers about what we are doing to the lifesystems of our planet.

When will we listen? Aluna the Movie looks to be a really good opportunity once again for film to help wake up the mass of people in human society that simply seem to not only have no compass, they really seem to be resistant to hearing the words of the messengers. I think these films will help.

You can see the trailer to Aluna on Vimeo.

Watch the original of Heart of the World: The Elder Brothers Warning.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Precita Eyes - Snapshots in The Mission District

Summer vacation 2014 will be long remembered as an active and adventurous family focused season. One graphic theme has been the murals spicing up the streets of The Mission District in San Francisco, which happens to be one of our natural habitats. There is a very cool gallery and muralist support and advocacy organization in The Mission known as Precita Eyes, which also does walking tours of the murals. They can certainly tell you more about the murals then I can -- I just wanted to post these snapshots here because the colors of the images look good on the blog page, and because we really love the mural art in The Mission.

"Murals are the people's art, because you don't need to have money to appreciate them, just walk down the street and take a look, learn, share and understand the story, the message."

Viva!























Saturday, July 26, 2014

California Summer 2014 #digitaldetox

The alienation of the high tech life is rarely quite so apparent as it is once one can get the devices and screens out of ones face. The depraved depths of the tech addiction is easier to perceive once you get off the junk. This summer I am by no means fully disconnected, but I know better than ever that the accelerated tech world provides a false sense of involvement and productivity, when much of all the social media and internet activity we are so busy with all the time is just so many bits of irrelevant and useless data dust blowing in the wind. I mean, I would like to think that my posting on Facebook about some messed up situation in the world and how something must be done about it is of any use for keeping humanity from plunging off the cliff like the lemmings we are, cynically I know now how superficial such activism has proven to be in this high tech age. I am by no means the first to dig into the concept, but I am fully working these days with the ideas and concepts captured under the umbrella of the #digitaldetox. The Millenium Curse affects not only the under 35 crowd (more on that later!), "internet-centrism" is also ailing all sorts of people in the crusty generation. Whatever, I am not anti-tech, I am just highly sensitive to the ineffective reality in which everyone is connected but no one is united. We need to be organic in the building of our networks and community, and then the tech tools are an extension of that real grounded foundation, not the other way around. So here is a digital contribution of images from my hand held device, edited down and organized on my laptop, for what it is worth, a new vozsilvestre blog post with a sample of summer 2014 photos. In my circles this summer we are trying to be active like we were when I was a kid and these crazy phone and internet tools were just Star Trek imaginings of what might be available in the distant future while we went out and fished and rooted around in the woods and played with balls and did real three dimensional things as the animal kids that we were. Feel the earthly presence. Please, be a role model for the young people you love. Enjoy these images ~ then turn off your device, and get outside. It is summertime, let's enjoy!



Keith Haring Cousins




Mission Girls





Dolores Park Best Slide In The City





Redwoods and Novelties




 
Alcatraz Adventure







Summertime Snapshots