Archive for August, 2011
It amuses me that the Google advert that I got over this YouTube clip of Kraftwerk playing Pocket Calculator is for “Chocolate Kit Kat.” It just seems perfect in so many ways.
On Sunday afternoon, I went for a walk around the neighbourhood. I live pretty much equidistant between two Metro stations servicing two different lines. One of them I use to getting to friends’ places and for my Spanish lessons; the other I only ever use to go to the baseball games. It’s hardly the worst thing in the world, but, you take the same line often enough, it becomes tedious. I vary it up on the walk to and from the station. I sometimes cut north on this side street, sometimes another. There are about ten such side streets I can choose from. On Sunday afternoon, when I was just ambling around, listening to music on my iPod, vaguely heading in the direction of the huge Corona brewery to the north, near which I’d seen a strange-looking building when I was bombing past it in a car on Saturday. I walked up one of the streets I used more often when I’m heading towards the subway. And it hit me. This walk to this subway station that I’ve done for around 40% of the Diablos Rojos home games this season; this walk is part of the experience. Not a major revelation, I know, but it’s still a part of the experience of being a fan. In theory, the idea of a Star Trek-type of instant transportation to and from the ballpark sounds amazing. I could leave my apartment ten minutes before the game, I could be home a minute after the game ends. That would be damn cool. But would it, really? Isn’t part of the joy of baseball (or any other sporting event) the journey there and back. Before the game, you can ponder what might be; afterwards, re-live moments in your head, or re-live moments that could’ve or should’ve been.
For a weekday game that starts at 7pm, I’d ordinarily leave the apartment at about 5.45pm. I’d load up my iPod shuffle with a couple of hours worth of podcasts, and get to the Metro station, grab a ticket out of my wallet (there’s usually a queue at the ticket booth, so I tend to buy ten of the three peso single journey tickets at one time), walk down two long flights of stairs, down some more stairs underneath the tracks, up the other side, and wait there on the platform. (Tangent: is there a specific name for the part of a subway station which contains the platform and train tracks?) It’s hot down there. And the subway cars are hot. In theory there’s air-conditioning, but it has all the strength of of a 90 year old in a coma trying to blow out birthday candles. Three stations south, then change. A change at a busy station. Loads and loads of people trying to go in different directions. It’s stressful, for a couple of minutes. Thankfully, though, the train I’m changing to begins its journey at this station, so chances are I may get a seat. I’ll sit there, listening to Americans talking about baseball, on my way to a baseball game, surrounded by people who don’t care about baseball. When I arrive at Velodromo station, I always have a look around. There’s rarely anyone in my car with a Diablos cap or jersey, and at the station, there tends to only be a handful at most.
Walking the ten minutes to the park, past a school, past the weird Bowser-like Palacio de los Deportes, along a pavement with open manholes full of trash (I once saw dead chickens in one of them), up some steps to an overpass, down the steps, and there’s Foro Sol, the ballpark. Most occasions, there’ll only be between 50 and 100 people outside the ballpark. For a regular season game, I never bought a ticket in advance, and never waited more than a couple of minutes at the ticket booth.
Foro Sol is not an attractive ballpark. If you look on Google Maps, you’ll notice it’s in the middle of a motor sports track. Until 2000, both the Diablos Rojos and Tigres played at a ballpark called Parque del Seguro Social. A lot more centrally located, it was sold, and now there’s a mall there. Of course. Foro Sol was built in 1993 for concerts. A U2 live DVD was filmed there. And it seems to me, that plonking a baseball field there was more a matter of convenience than making a place that is good for watching baseball. (Foro Sol, by the way, is named after the beer brand. Strange, then, that at baseball games, they sell Corona and Victoria; beer made by Sol’s biggest rivals. I’m guessing it’s because the team themselves are sponsored by Corona.) For reasons I’ve explained before, me and the United States are currently on hiatus. So for the last two seasons, I’ve only seen baseball here and at the SkyDome in Toronto. I’ve been to 110 baseball games since 2005. 70 of those have been at either the SkyDome or Foro Sol. 64% of the baseball games I’ve seen have been at less-than-attractive ballparks. That’s a wee bit depressing. But, y’know, beggars/choosers, and the game is still baseball.
It’s baseball with a mascot that signs autographs for people. Never really understood that. It’s baseball with cheerleaders. They’re not very good. Despite dancing to the same songs every time, they’re always slightly out of sync with each other. And there’s never a consistent amount of them. Sometimes six, sometimes seven. Occasionally five, and one time, just four. I get the feeling that they might have other dancing jobs. It’s baseball at over 12,000 ft above sea level, more than double the elevation of Coors Field. I wonder if they have a humidor here. I doubt it. The Diablos hit 192 home runs this season, 53 more than anyone else. Makes you wonder what sort of home run derby they could have here if Pujols, Bautista, A-Rod, etc. came down here.
Reading Joe Posnanski’s post about leaving Kansas City, having watched “four or five hundred” games at Kauffman Stadium made me think. Made me think of all that I have missed by the simple fact that I wasn’t born on this continent. It’s not overly dramatic to say that baseball is the best thing in my life. This is only my seventh season following the game. A point at which most of the people who are reading these words would’ve been at probably in their earliest of teenage years. For me, I grew up watching soccer. I love soccer. It was my first love, but truthfully, over the last years, I’ve come to love baseball more. Very few things in life are as beautiful as a great soccer game, but very few things consistently make me happy as any baseball game. It’s not like the States or Toronto, and, from what I imagine, other parts of Mexico (mostly in the north) where baseball is popular. Very few people in this country’s capital care about béisbol. Most of the time there are only a few thousand people in the ballpark, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve adopted a Mexican League team, my local team, the Diablos Rojos, and I love being there. I love that over the past few months I’ve got to know the names of the players, their strengths, their weaknesses. I love that there are four or five people in the stadium who recognise me. Mexican people, Diablos Rojos fans, who say hello as I walk to my seat. That is fucking awesome.
The Diablos had the best record in the league (63-40, .614), got through two rounds of the playoffs to the final before being swept by the Tigres. I’ve only been watching for one season. It would’ve kind of been wrong if they’d won it all in my first season as a fan, I suppose. I have no idea if I will still be in Mexico City when the 2012 season starts in March. Maybe. If so, though, I’ll be making that journey from Polanco subway station to Velodromo station, listening to podcasts, with a couple of hundred pesos in my pocket for a ticket and a few Coronas.
I bought a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7 QuietPoint headphones in December 2007. It was in preparation for my six months flouncing around the Americas. I anticipated a lot of time on buses and planes, a lot of time waiting, and was sick of using tiny earbuds, especially because my ears seem to find it very very easy to pick up infections. They were more expensive than I was expecting, but I managed to convince myself it was a worthwhile purchase: good headphones were necessary for my aural health and mental well-being.
And I was right, they were excellent headphones. But now they are nearing the end of their inanimate life. They have taken a lot of abuse. Where the plastic headband is joined to the cans; that bit seems to have taken the brunt of the abuse. Cracks appeared. The right headphone has been super-glued back on, the left one had been super-glued back on twice. But super-glue (actual generic name, the less-snappy “cyanoacrylate”) is a wonderful thing, and aside from the inevitabilty that they will need superguling again at some point, it’s no biggie.
For most of the life of the headphones, they have had a plaster over the little blue light that indicates that the noise cancelling is switched on. I first put it on them when I was travelling on buses in South America and, especially at night, I could see the reflection of the light in the window. And (sometimes) being a kind soul, (but more likely paranoid about not wanting to be hated by a fellow traveller) it meant that anyone else sat near me wouldn’t be annoyed by it.
The noise cancelling broke when I was in Toronto. Sat with a friend on the patio of a bar, we got chatting to a friend of his friend. Another friend of the friend came along, ended up having an argument with her friend, and she deliberately tipped a pint of beer over the table. Moody cow. My headphones got wet, and since then haven’t cancelled noise at all.
I’ve been through four cables; the jack that plugs into the iPod and gets shoved into my pocket takes a lot of battering and eventually, the wires inside give up. They came with a lovely cable. Not too long, not too short, and with a L-shaped jack that makes it comfortable in the pocket. The first one broke after about two years. I found it difficult to find the exact cable again, bought a cheaper one, and waited until the next time I was in London, where I went back to the store where I’d originally bought the headphones to pay a not-insignificant amount for the “correct” cable. That lasted until October last year, when my flat mate’s cat decided to play with it, bite into it, and render it useless. Since then, I’ve been using a farily crappy Radio Shack cable.
But now, I fear the headphones are nearly dead. The general structure is fine and aside from the totally buggered beer-soaked noise cancelling, they still sound good, but the padded part of the headphones has given up. Not the spongey bits themselves, but the black material that covers the sponge. On both headphones, it has split open. And everytime I want to use them, I have to stuff the orange sponge back in to the knackered-looking covers. And now, with no partt of those covers that is still attached, it’s becoming more and more difficult to not have tongues of foamy orange poking out when I’m using it. They’re not dead, just ready to go into a retirement home.
Considering the abuse the headphones have taken in general, it’s sad to see something so dumb bringing them down. But bring them down it has. It’s time to say goodbye to my headphones. My lovely, glorious friend for four years. Sounds idiotic, I know, but they’ve been through the adventures. Four years, three continents, eleven countries. They’ve been there for the smiles and the opposite of smiles. They’ve been with me on a beach, they’ve been with me on a glacier, they’ve been with me walking down long country lanes in Uruguay, and they’ve been with me drunkenly walking along the side of a highway in Mexico City. They’ve been with me as a single man, a married man, a separated man, and a divorced man. They may just be a pair of headphones, that look exactly the same as the previous and next pair of ATH-ANC7s out of the factory, but they were mine, and they were good around my neck.
Another post about going to baseball games. Last two games of the year for me. The Mexican League season is over. My team, Diablos Rojos lost the final series 4-0. It sucked.
I’m trying to spare any blog readers blabbing on about baseball as much as possible, but if you do like that kinda shit, I write about games that I go to on Flip Flop Fly Ball. Last night’s game was postponed due to rain, but I still wrote about it anyway, goddamn it.
Childish, I know…
Another goddamn drawing of a baseball game.
See it a wee bit bigger here.
Another boring, yawnsome, tedious drawing of a baseball game.
See it a wee bit bigger here.
Drawing of a baseball game. Yaaaaawn.
See it a wee bit bigger here.
I went to a cafe for breakfast this morning. Feeling a bit under the weather and no real food in the fridge. So, it’s 8am and like way, way, way too many cafes they have TVs blaring. It’s on a music channel. VH1, I think. This is what was on while I ate my chilaquiles and drank piss-weak coffee.
“Rollin'” by Limp Bizkit
Really? At 8am? I never liked Limp Bizkit. Mostly because I have a brain inside my skull. The interesting thing about this song, I think, is, if this is their big hit, their most commercially appealing song, how awful must the album filler tracks and b-sides be?
“Truly Madly Deeply” by Savage Garden
A song that is pretty much as insipid as it is possible to be. If music were paint, this song is the jar of water you wash watercolour brushes in.
“Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison
He’s got quite a nasal voice. I watched that Stevie Nicks clip I linked to a few weeks back quite a bit recently. And I’ve been listening to Pulp quite a bit, too. Stevie Nicks obviously has a fantastic voice. And in a different way, so does Jarvis Cocker. I can’t for the life of me, though, figure out how Mark Morrison was ever allowed near a microphone. Horrible singing voice.
“The NeverEnding Story” by Limahl
Something I never ever realised: that the title of this song – and its parent movie – features a camel case word. The origin of Limahl’s name is one of those pop facts that pretty much everyone knows, isn’t it? And it seems to me to be the sort of thing you could only really get away with in the Eighties.
“Oh Carolina” by Shaggy
I imagine that if you were a woman being hit on by Shaggy, you’d not be able to get the smell of aftershave off your clothes for ages. I also image he leaves a slimy trail like a slug.
Some song by Tuna Turner
My iPod autocorrected Tina to Tuna. Thought I’d leave it in. Not sure what the song was called, by she was dancing next a really big model of a man’s foot. Her hair took up the whole of the TV screen when there’s a close up of her face and shoulders.
“The Sweater Song” by Weezer
This TV station is nuts. All over the place. I keep on buying Weezer albums. It’s kinda dumb. First one was great, second album was even better, third album was okay, and since then there’s only really been a handful of good songs on the following five albums. Yet I still buy them, on the off chance there’s something as good as Pinkerton again.
“Romeo and Juliet” by Dire Straits
I love Dire Straits and I don’t care who knows it.
It’s a poor state of affairs that we’ve found ourselves in, where televisions are the easy, default option for “atmosphere” in most cafes and bars. Apart from when there’s a major sports event on, or maybe some massive breaking news, really, who wants a TV on in a bar or cafe? It makes no sense. We have TVs at home. We usually have access to a six pack or bottle of whiskey if we want to drink at home in front of a telly. It’s time to get rid of TVs. Until there’s something I want to watch, then I’ll bitch and moan that nowhere is showing the Liverpool game.
This afternoon I went to buy tickets for games three and four of the Serie del Rey, Mexican League Baseball’s version of the World Series. My local team, my favourite team, the Diablos Rojos del México will be playing Tigres de Quintana Roo. The Tigres play in Cancún and that is where games one and two will be played. It’s a best-of-seven series. I wanted to buy a ticket for the possible game five, too, but they weren’t selling them in case the game isn’t needed. (Although it’s pretty unlikely that one of the teams will win four straight games, it could happen, I suppose.)
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t buy any tickets in advance, but it’s the Serie del Rey against a team who until 2002 also played here in Mexico City. Then they upped sticks and pissed off to Puebla, before deciding they fancied hanging out at the seaside in 2006. Tigres fans here seem to be like a boy who’s still in love with a girl even though she’s got a new boyfriend. I’m kinda glad I did go and buy a ticket for the games on Tuesday and Wednesday: the section of the stadium where I normally sit was sold out for Tuesday’s game so I’ll have to sit in a cheaper section farther away from the action. Wednesday, though, I’ll be in my preferred section. But that’s not the reason for this so-far-quite-tedious post. No. The reason for this post is Justin Bieber.
You see, the ticket booths at the baseball stadium aren’t used when there’s not a game on. Instead, they use the ticket booths at the Palacio de los Deportes next door, where they sell tickets for all events going on at either venue. And one of those forthcoming events is a Beiber concert. There were five ticket windows open. Each one, helpfully, had the name of the specific events next to the wndow. Wrestling, this window; Beisbol, that window; Beiber, the one next to that; Pearl Jam, the one with the tumbleweed.
Oddly, though, the people in the baseball and Bieber queues seemed to have gotten mixed up. I was behind a mother and daughter. The guy behind the glass was pointing at various sections and telling them the prices. The mother was interested in the seated section farthest away from the singing boy; that is, the cheapest section. The daughter’s face melted, her eyes filled up, she pleaded with her mother for a ticket in a closer section. She kinda did that impatient rapid knee bending, bouncing up and down thing that teenagers do when they don’t get what they want. Her mum looked down at her in a way that said, “you’d better remember this,” opened her purse and gave her enough money to be closer. The daughter’s arms clamped around the mother. She bounced up and down again, and as the ticket guy pushed the ticket under the glass, she let out a little squeal and then started bawling her eyes out.
Then I bought the baseball tickets, bounced up and down, let out a little squeal and started bawling my eyes out.
One of the immediate things I noticed when I was visiting Toronto in July, was the joy of overhearing little snippets of conversation. This isn’t a new phenomenon in my life. After eight years in Germany, I noticed it every time I visited the UK. But in Toronto I kept a list of my favourite overheard snippets.
My favourite meat is lamb. And steak.
I’m not even from here.
You want it back or not?
Oh yeah, I’m getting you back for that.
It’s such a like dumbass thing.
I’m like where did you do her?
Oooohhh yeah! Crazy loud.
It got like 85 tweets and 95 Facebook likes.
It’s like large and like…. Y’know.
Hey we’ll go to the Wide Open after the game eh? Coz like sometime the Blue Jays players go there.
He eats like a bucket of KFC every day.
I’m telling you, like, no joke, it’s on.
Fuckin’ stupid blondie arsehole cunt.
I just feel like we have something so special.
I have my period so it hurts.
That’s where my brother-in-law lives. He’s getting better, but I still don’t like him.
All I wanna do is go training and drink beer.