The World According to Keitho

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Archive for October, 2010

God bless take me out to the ballgame

Posted by keithosaunders on October 30, 2010

Thanks to the events of September 11th, 2001 we have to remove our shoes and belts, and allow our genitalia to be viewed by airport security.  I would gladly walk through the metal detector naked and submit to a full cavity search if it meant the end of the playing of God Bless America during the 7th inning stretch at baseball games.

One of the great things about attending a ball game is the visceral experience it provides of being transported to ones youth.  You never forget what it felt like to be a little kid with your Dad at a ballgame.  The organ music between innings, the hotdogs, and the look and sound of batting practice are engrained in my senses.  

One of my few acts of enthusiastic crowd participation is to sing along with the crowd during the 7th inning stretch.  It’s one of those times where I don’t mind being a little bit frivolous.  Somewhere along the way, however, and I blame the Yankees for this, it became de rigueur to play God Bless America in the middle of the 7th inning, either before, or instead of Take Me Out to the Ballgame.  At first it was only Yankee Stadium that foisted this dark reminder upon the fans, but lately more and more stadiums have taken up this practice.    

Whose idea was it to remind us of the worst day in New York City’s history during the middle of a damn ballgame?  We attend a game to escape the pressures and tension of real life, not to be whipped into a jingoistic state.  There is no greater buzz-kill than this morbid trip down memory lane. 

What’s worse is that Major League Baseball and the FOX network have codified this nouveau tradition on their telecasts by not breaking away during the playing of GBA during the 7th inning stretch.  Are they out of their minds?  How does this enhance our viewing pleasure?  I’d rather watch Cialis commercials than endure this contrived minute of patriotism. 

I have nothing against the song.  It’s not a bad little melody, actually — I like it more than the Star Spangled Banner — and I would have no problem putting it at the beginning of the game.  Here’s a thought:  Why not play God Bless America instead of the National Anthem?  It wouldn’t have to be every day.  How about Sundays, since God is so prominently featured in the title and lyric.  It’s just a game —  why not let it breathe?

Harry Caray

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The song remained the same

Posted by keithosaunders on October 29, 2010

Last night I took the family for a Thursday night dinner at a local Nepali restaurant.  It was a cute neighborhood restaurant with a friendly waitress and good, simple food.  

There was a song playing in the background that I took to be Nepali folk music and it had a catchy little refrain.  About ten minutes into our meal I began to notice that the refrain of the song had come back around.  It was then that it began to dawn on me that the song had never ended.  Of course once you notice something like this you can’t ignore it, and for me  it became the focal point of the evening.  Either this song was on some kind of loop, or it was one of the longest songs ever written —  it lasted for the duration of our stay at the restaurant. 

The song had lyrics, but since they were in Nepali I couldn’t tell whether they were repeating or if the composer’s attitude was, “Fuck it, I’ve got a lot to say, I’m writing more verses.”  I’m betting that the composer was paid by the note and is known as the Charles Dickens of song.  I used to think that Bob Dylan’s music was wordy until last night.  Now, as far as I’m concerned, he’s the king of brevity.  John Coltrane himself never took a solo this long.   

The question I have is why would you do this to your customers?  Even if you go on the assumption that most people are not as attuned to a restaurant’s background music as a musician, it still makes no sense.  After a while — and I was there for the better part of an hour — even the most tone-deaf among us are going to begin to notice that something is askew.  It was like a chinese water torture of music.  If I had to hear that song for another minute I’m sure I would have confessed to the murder of JFK.   

That melody is burned into my soul and if I live to be 105 I will never forget it.  But wouldn’t you know it, as we were leaving the restaurant the song ended and a new one began.  Needless to say I didn’t stay to hear how that one turned out.

Posted in music | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Texas and San Francisco: An unlikely, yet delightful matchup

Posted by keithosaunders on October 27, 2010

I love these Series in which I have no rooting interest.  As a Mets fan you would think I would grow tired of this situation, but as documented earlier, my pathological Yankee  hatred prevents me from fully enjoying any Series that they are a part of.  

Some of my favorite non-rooting interest Series have been Pittsburgh v Baltimore, a 7 game thriller featuring my favorite, Willie Stargell, and the we-are-family Pirates.  Then there was the Phillies first Series victory the next year — a 6 game affair against the Kansas City Royals.  I also liked the 1982 Keith Hernandez, Willie McGee Cardinals, who beat the Brewers in 7 games.

OK, I now realize there are too many non-rooting interest Series to list, but you get the idea.  When your team is not involved it allows you to focus on the pure joy and beauty of baseball without the ulcer-inducing tension inherent in rooting for your team. 

Who am I rooting for this year?  I honestly don’t know.  I grew up in Los Angeles hating the Giants because we were supposed to hate the Giants.  Truthfully, however, I did not experience the real inter-city rivalry that my father did growing up in Brooklyn in the 30s and 40s.  The Giants were rarely good in the 70s and early 80s and so were not entirely on my radar. 

I love the way this Texas team plays ball but can I root for a team that was once owned by George Bush?  Not to mention the fact that I am currently living in San Fran, for crying out loud. 

So what I’m really rooting for is a 7 game Series.  If it goes 6 or 7 games I’m sure I’ll have been swayed one way or another.  We haven’t had a 7 game Series since 2002, which was the last time the Giants were involved.  They played the Angels and ended up losing in heart-breaking fashion.  They were ahead 3-2 in games going back to Anaheim, and blew a 5-0 7th inning lead in game 6 before losing the final game 4-1. 

Before I sign off for the day I would like to note that my moving to New York City in 1984 coincided with the emergence of the Mets as a force after a decade of horrible baseball.  Now I show up in the Bay Area and all of a sudden the Giants come from out of nowhere to appear in the fall classic.  Don’t you think that Seattle or Washington should want me to move to their cities?  I am considering all offers.  A nice penthouse apartment on K street, and Nationals season tickets would suit me fine.

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Drivers vs pedestrians: Either way I lose.

Posted by keithosaunders on October 26, 2010

Those of you following my escapades in my new west coast locale  know that I have a somewhat complicated relationship with the Bay Area drivers.  To put it bluntly, I hate them.  But here’s something different:  I also hate the pedestrians.  

In New York City, which I have come to realize is one of the great driving towns, the pedestrians and the drivers have a pact.  In fact, we have two pacts —  that’s how hip we are.  First, the peddie-pact:  My ability to cross the street is directly proportional to the distance of your approaching vehicle from my body.  It’s really quite simple.  The farther away you are from the car, the better the chance of a successful crossing.   

Now let’s hear from the driver:  My inclination to stop ends with your indecision.  In other words, if you cross the street we will stop, but we’ll be damned if we’re going to waste time waiting for you to make up your mind.  Just do it!

Here on the left coast  the pedestrians clearly have the upper hand and they are not shy about letting you know it.  They boldly step into the street without so much as establishing eye contact with the driver.  They don’t even look at you, which annoys me to no end.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but on the one hand you have a two ton vehicle, and on the other hand you have yourself.  Even allowing for the fact that you are an American I would guess that the weight advantage goes to the driver.  AT LEAST LOOK AT ME! 

 On top of that, if you dare to say anything to a pedestrian he/she will become tetchy and defensive.  A few weeks ago I was stopped at a red light about to turn right.  (Yeah, right on red.  Suck on that, New York!)  Just as I was inching up to turn two guys stepped into the cross walk.  One of them glared at me and shouted, “Hey!”  So I put my hands up in the universal sign of ‘what’s the matter?’  He shouted back, “Don’t give me any attitude!  Don’t start with me…” 

What the fuck?!   I didn’t say anything!  In New York they would have just walked around me, or I would have made my turn to get out of their way —  no muss, no fuss.  Here it’s a federal case if you don’t drive like a 75-year-old Iowan paster.  (I don’t want to hear about it from the Iowans….I’M IN NO MOOD)

Now let’s examine my down-the-street neighbor, who darted in front of my car just to tell me I was driving too fast.  (I wasn’t)  He proceeded to lecture me on the dangers of speeding on a local street.  ‘I get it, oh righteous, smug one.  Can I leave now, or do you want to go over weights and measures too?’  I think he was hoping that I would have run him over so as to prove his point.  And I thought folks were supposed to be laid back here.

While I’m on a roll [even though this has nothing to do with driving or walking]  let’s give a shout-out to our next door neighbor who called the cops on my 16-year-old son for playing his electric guitar too loud.  At 3PM!  The cops were actually apologetic about having to ask him to lower the volume.  The guy could have come over and talked to us, but instead chose the Bay Area method.

Like I’ve said before, I’ve only been here a brief time so I’m giving the cool people a chance to make themselves known to me.  So far the locals have made an unfortunate first impression, but I’ll give them this:  They’re not the ones that are going to have to modify their behaviour.  Besides, you all can see it coming — it’s only a matter of time before I get my first moving violation.

The ball is in my court.  I’ve got to relax, take a deep breath, put some Michael McDonald on the car-stereo, and drive like an Iowan.

Posted in San Francisco | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Texas vs San Francisco

Posted by keithosaunders on October 24, 2010

Everyone once in a while the good guys win and you remember why you like to watch sports.  There can’t be a more compelling matchup then these two talented and extremely likeable teams.  Sure, Yankees vs Giants would have been classic, and hopefully FOX would have seen it in their hearts to air some old footage, but the Yankees pitching this year was a cut below.  Perhaps they really are aging, but I’m sure they’ll retool and be back for next season.

The Phillies fans are miserable and do not deserve a winning team.  Pat Burrell was being interviewed and all of a sudden an audible boo could be heard from the remaining Phillies fans — they were booing the Giants who were exiting the field to celebrate in the clubhouse.  Burrell was aactually taken aback and said “I don’t know what they’re reacting to…”  As much as I hate the Yankees, their fans would never have done something so bush league after a defeat.

How can you not like these teams?  Texas is young, aggressive and plays with fire.  They take the extra base, pitch their asses off, and have plenty of pop between Hamilton, Cruz, and Vlady.  The Giants are more offensively challenged, but every game a different player seems to deliver the clutch hit.  Whether it’s Cody Ross, Juan Uribe, Burrell, or somebody else, there’s always somebody who steps up.  You can’t help but feel happy for Aubrey Huff, who seems like  a great guy, and will be going to his first Series.  With Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum dueling in game 1 we have an incredible matchup to look forward to.  

Texas has never won a Worlds Series in their 39 year history; 49 if you include their stint as the Washington Senators.  The Giants have won five Series, all in New York, the most recent being in 1954.  One way or another this year’s winner will hail from a city that has never had a championship.  As of now the Mariners, Nationals, Astros, Padres, Brewers, Rockies, Rays, and Rangers have never a title.  The Mariners and the Nationals are the only two teams never to have competed in a World Series.

For me, the good news is that both of the teams I rooted for made the Series.  The bad news is that I can no longer complain about small market teams not being able to make the Series.  Well…I’m sure I can find a way, but now is not the time.  Let’s have a beer.

Posted in baseball | Tagged: , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

The pinnacle — a gig at Shea Stadium!

Posted by keithosaunders on October 22, 2010

Here is it, folks, a scene from one of my greatest gigs:  A party that took place at Shea Stadium back in 2005.  It was a corporate event held in the diamond club, which was on the skinny level between the loge and reserved sections.  The club had windows which overlooked the stadium.  The party took place in February and there was actually snow on the field, but it did not photograph well since the stadium lights were off.  

Here, for your perusal and envy, I present a photo of the 1986 World Series trophy.  Note the look of pure adulation on my face and the austere pride and respect that drummer Taro Okamoto exhibits toward this hallowed artifact.  

Who knows when the next trophy will be displayed?  If Taro and I are lucky enough to live so long, and to play another such gig, the chances of us being ambulatory are slim at best.  At the very least we will be gray and venerated with the passage of time.  So let’s go Mets…we’re not getting any younger!

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One day in Yankee Stadium 50 years ago.

Posted by keithosaunders on October 21, 2010

Today’s post is brought to you by WOK’s special guest blogger, George Chimes


Fifty years ago I went to my first World Series game. Thought I share this great experience & reflect how our National Pastime has changed…

The day before the 3rd game of the ’60 World Series between the Yankees & Pirates my buddy Tony Anastasi and I decided to go.  We left our homes in Brooklyn at 6AM for a 90-minute ride on the D train to The Bronx.  The fare was 15 cents round trip if you took the paper transfer leaving the D station and used it after the game to board the elevated 4 line.


At the Stadium we got on a long line but had no trouble buying bleacher seats at 10AM for the 2PM game.  I believe the tickets were $2.50.  Prior to the game we feasted on the hero sandwiches Tony’s mom gave us.
The crowd was almost all rabid Yankees fans from the boros of NYC.  I recall some intense discussions on Yankee manager Casey Stengel’s decision to wait until the 3rd game to start future hall of famer Whitey Ford.  Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru threw out the first ball.  He and his entourage left after the second inning on this crisp, sunny fall day.  As dedicated Yankee fans Tony and I loved every minute of this lopsided game.  The final score Yankees 10 – Pirates 0.


Here we were, two kids with almost nothing in our pockets, able to walk in and see what at that time was undisputedly America’s most prestigious sporting event for half the price of what it costs to buy a soda at Yankee Stadium today.
I’m usually dismissive of fogies who go on about the good old days, but I can’t imagine anyone in 21st century America enjoying this kind of encounter with America’s pastime. 

Posted in baseball | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Chutzpah’s finest hour

Posted by keithosaunders on October 20, 2010

Some things you just can’t make up.  Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, left a voice mail on Anita Hill’s answering machine asking her to apologize for making allegations of sexual misconduct against her husband in 1991.  At that time Hill was an attorney who worked for Thomas, who was at the Department of Education.  She testified at Thomas’s confirmation hearings that he had subjected her to comments of a sexual nature, which whether they were  illegal or not, were (in her view) inappropriate. 

The temerity of Ginni Thomas is astounding, to say the least, but what do you suppose possessed her to leave a voice mail?  She must have realized that it would be recorded and scrutinized.  What kind of bubble does she live in?  

Here is the transcript:

“Good morning Anita Hill, it’s Ginni Thomas.  I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband.  So give it some thought.  And certainly pray about this and hope that one day you will help us understand why you did what you did. O.K., have a good day.”

First of all, is there one wealthy, religious Republican who can speak in complete sentences?  This reads like a bad Sarah Palin impression.  I’m wondering if the Baricuda herself might not have impersonated Ginni just for shits and giggles.  I love the way Ginni used prayer as an olive branch in which to temper the anger Hill might be feeling at the unmitigated gall.

It makes no sense.  Can you imagine Mrs Clemens asking Mike Piazza to apologize to Roidger for the dirty look he gave him after bat-throwing incident?  “Just go ahead and pray on it and I’m sure you’ll sympathize with the undo stress you caused my hubby.”  

It must be great to be wealthy, religious, and Republican.  You can literally get away with saying anything as long as you couch it in the lord.  Sprinkle in a few “I’ll pray for yous,” and “God bless yous,” and you have carte blanche to ask for undeserved apologies in childish syntax.  This strata of people feels that the world owes them something and is not shy about asking for it. 

Ginni, this is Keitho talking to you.  You’ve had a great life.  You’re wealthy beyond your wildest dreams, and your husband, though he does not deserve it, is one of the most influential men in America.  Why don’t you relax, take a nice vacation to Hawaii, and enjoy life.  If you’re really feeling bad about what happened 20 years ago (even though it did work out quite nicely in the end) why not go to Church and do some praying of your own.  But whatever you do, just shut up.  SHUT UP!    

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Tommy Hunter, this is your hour!

Posted by keithosaunders on October 19, 2010

I actually still think the Yankees are going to win this thing, but I’d admit to feeling a little cocky if the Rangers can somehow win tonight. The Yankees have their worst pitcher going — AJ Burnett — even though last year he somehow pitched a great World Series game in a similar situation. You never know what you’re going to get with A.J.

Why aren’t the Yankees starting C.C. Sabathia tonight? I seem to remember him going on short rest during last year’s playoffs and Series. Would they use him in game 5 and 7? (or would that be 2 days rest?)

Of course none of the Yankee fans have heard of Tommy Hunter, but he had a pretty good season going 13-4 with a 3.73 era. If it wasn’t for the 8th inning of game 1 the Yankees would be all but dead.

Unfortunately this means they are due to wake up. How long can you hold Texeira and Arod down?

So come on Rangers, remember the alamo, or whatever is it that psyches you up!

Cliff Lee riding herd.

Posted in baseball | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Why did they remake the Music Man?

Posted by keithosaunders on October 17, 2010

It’s a quiet Saturday night in the Bay Area.  The Giants won their playoff game earlier this evening == a tense non-pitching duel between Tim Lincecum and Roy Halliday, and now there’s nothing to do but scan around for some decent TV, an oxymoron if there ever was one.  I was flipping through the channels marvelling at how many Pac 10 football games there were when I stumbled upon The Music Man.

After watching for five minutes it became clear that this wasn’t my father’s Music Man  —   the one with Robert Preston and Shirley Jones.  This was a remake with, of all people, Mathew Broderick in the Henry Hill role.  I realize that Broderick was good on stage in The Producers, but he really doesn’t have the voice, or the dancing skills to carry an entire musical.  Kristin Chenoweth had the Marian the librarian role and she fared much better.  Have you ever noticed something about Chenowith….she is the smallest person with the biggest voice. — you wonder where it emerges from.

Do you remember Jim Nabors, the actor who played Gomer Pyle in the 1960s television show?  He had this high-pitched southern drawl, kind of sing-songy, and a little whiney. Every once in a while he would guest on the Carson show, or sing the national anthem at a ball game.  You’d be steeling yourself for Gomer’s twang when out would come this booming baritone.  Remarkable.

Hollywood should leave these old musicals alone — we’re too cynical for them now.  Too much CGI has dulled our senses.  The theatre is a different story, though.  I saw South Pacific at Lincoln Center two years ago and loved it.  What a privilege to get to hear those Richard Rogers melodies sung with full orchestra and a beautiful production.  Carousel, which I saw 14 years ago, was one of my great theatre experiences.

I’ll leave you with two more from my daughter, now that she’s sitting next to me watching Hannah Montana.  Miley Cyrus has a much lower speaking voice than her singing voice.  She’s the anti-Nabors!  I am also informed that Justin Bieber has a high speaking voice and a high singing voice.  We’ll put him in the Michael Jackson category.



Posted in music | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »