Wednesday, September 08, 2010

* Lex's story of this picture

How you likin’ on me now, Torn Slatterns and Nugget Ranchers?

A fight broke out in the stands at the US Open. Well, tennis is such a genteel sport, it wasn’t really a fight, but one fellow pointedly derided another for wearing white after Labor Day.

The NFL record for most seasons played is 26 by George Blanda. Do you realize what this means? Brett Favre could retire and comeback at least seven more times.

The San Diego Padres lost ten in a row and yet they’re still in first place. No matter how much they screw up, they’re still on top, they are the Charlie Sheen of baseball.

The San Diego Padres have lost ten games in a row. An unwritten rule in baseball is players break slumps by sleeping with an unattractive woman, or slump-buster. That’s the Padres’ problem, there are no unattractive women in San Diego. They need a road trip to the New York Mets.

Pittsburgh Steeler, Ben Roethlisberger, had his suspension cut two games from six to four; this information threw off Fantasy Football leagues. In fact, Fantasy Football players haven’t been this upset since Klingon was not deemed an official language by the UN.

The San Diego Padres have lost ten games in a row. The situation is so desperate one of the Padres blamed their problem on the black Chanel purse they borrowed from their girlfriend.

Paris Hilton has been banned from the Wynn Hotels and Casinos in Las Vegas. Hookers, pimps, alcoholics, drug-dealers, bookies and degenerate gamblers are welcomed, but not Paris Hilton.

Since you asked:

*This picture of the Eagles, which appeared in "Rolling Stone" magazine circa 1974, epitomized to me the fact that my life was going to suck unless I got my sorry ass out to California.

In reading Don Felder's Eagle (standing in back, blue shirt, blonde hair and beard) biography "Heaven and Hell" thirty five years later, guess where the picture was taken? Off Lake Shore drive in Chicago.

As a kid growing up outside Chicago, I was always fascinated, as were many people, with all things California. First of all, we knew Disneyland was there, so clearly it was some magical combination of Switzerland and Hawaii. (Anaheim didn’t quite live up to that)

All cool cereal commercials on the Saturday morning cartoons were filmed in California so that meant all California kids surfed and skateboarded all day. Then I found out my favorite thing in the world, “Daniel Boone” was filmed in California.

Around this time, "Life" magazine featured a picture of a tan and beautiful couple skiing in their swimsuits in Lake Tahoe, California. This almost ripped my brain in two. That can't be possible. Skiing is done in the dead of winter under the constant threat of frostbite. Bikinis are only worn on hot July and August days. How can the two be combined? One word: Magic. Adding another word: California.

See where I'm going with this?

But the most pivotal moment was on a bleak, dark snowy New Year’s Day night, on ABC, I saw OJ Simpson prancing around Ohio State players in the 1969 Rose Bowl in warm weather with beautiful short-skirted cheerleaders fawning all over him. At the exact moment, our house was like the scary frozen house in the Ural Mountains in “Dr. Zhivago” complete with wolves howling outside in the cruel wind.

Like it was yesterday, I remember I thought:

I want to be there. Not here. There.

The real deal-sealer for me was later that spring, during a beautiful afternoon track meet again on ABC's “Wide World of Sports” at UCLA’s Drake Stadium. Olympic champs Bob Seagren won the pole vault, Lee Evans won the 400 Meters and Bob Beamon won the long jump.

One of my true loves were those rare summer evenings in the suburbs of Chicago when friends came over for a cocktail party in our backyard and, as the sun set, my dad fired up the barbeque. We would have maybe two or three of these parties a summer/year, usually Memorial day, the Fourth of July and Labor day.

Low and behold - or is below and hold? - on ABC coverage they showed there was a sunset barbeque party on the infield following the UCLA track meet. Kids frolicked in the steeple chase water pools, volley balls abounded, Weber grills smoked and steaks sizzled and tall glasses clinked. That was it, I was sold. They had track meets with summer barbeques every day in California? It was heaven and I was going to live there.

Then, a few years later, I saw an article about Sam Adams in "Track and Field News" coaching decathletes on the beach in Santa Barbara and hosting parties and barbeque's and talent shows following decathlons (Yes, barbecues are a constant theme) That settled it once and for all, now I had a specific address: I was moving to Santa Barbara.

And a few years later, this picture of the Eagles came out (maybe it was just me, but I bet there was someone grilling steaks just aft of this picture) and it just rubbed the whole California concept in down way deep. Hell, they even made wine in California.

Good thing I didn’t know that picture was taken about twenty minutes north off Belmont Harbor.

So, in summary, when I moved out to California I expected each day to be either a track meet or a beach day or to go skiing in shorts, all with beautiful women, to be followed by a barbecue party all of it filmed back to Chicago live on ABC.

Hmm, not quite, but I am not complaining.