Sunday, August 30, 2009

Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris: The Ballad of Abu Ghraib

As far as I can tell, Errol Morris made a movie about Abu Ghraib called "Standard Operating Procedure". He did the research and interviews, studied photos and documents, and then talked with author Philip Gourevitch, who wrote the book, "The Ballad of Abu Ghraib." However it worked out, this book is amazing. It's familiar in places, I'm pretty sure I've read chunks of it in the New Yorker, and even though the pictures described in the book aren't published, I've seen them so many times that I can view them like a slideshow in my head. But the book is new, and worth reading.

The story of Abu Ghraib is complicated, Gourevitch writes, and the book shouldn't be read if you're looking for an answer, or someone to blame, or even for closure, because there isn't any. The story of torture is messy, and the way that Americans allowed and sanctioned the torture is a messy story; the Americans who actually tortured Iraqis are individuals, with individual stories, and there has yet to be resolution. Any resolution will be complicated and inadequate.

The stain is ours, because whatever else the Iraq war was about, it was always, above all, about America-about the projection of America's force and America's image into the world. Iraq was the stage, and Iraqis would suffer for that, enduring some fifty deaths for every American life lost: in this, and by every other measure of devastation, it was very much their war... It was an American war because America's elected officials decided to wage it of their own initiative... What was at stake, for the war's advocates, skeptics, and opponents alike, was an American story-the story of America as a champion of law and liberty at home and abroad, a tough but righteous arbiter of the destiny of nations, intolerant only of intolerance...

Gourevitch traces the history of America's military success from the time of Washington: part of America's very foundation was their treatment of prisoners. They were unwilling to torture or even mistreat prisoners of war, which won them allies. The Third Geneva Convention, which was signed in 1949 at the end of the Second World War, attempted to codify this tradition of humane prisoner treatment. At the outset of Bush's war on Afghanistan a Bush etc, basically decided that Third Geneva Convention did not apply. Secretary of Sate at the time Alberto Gonzales, weighing the pros and cons of this, although allowing it was risky for captured US soldiers, decided that "adherence to the Geneva Conventions was no longer the law but a choice of the commander in chief." Instead of labeling captives "prisoners of war," they were deemed "security detainees" or "unlawful combatants," which meant that they were stripped of their Geneva Convention rights, undoing America's history of humane treatment of foreign national prisoners, even at times of war.

Fast forward to Iraq, and similar linguistic trickery was used to make Iraqi "detainees" into nonentities when it came to human rights. A team of prison specialists had been given one month to build a prison from scratch, and without knowing what they were doing, they chose the only place where anything like a prison was standing at all: Abu Ghraib. They didn't realize they were using one of the most political sites in the country- Saddam's own torture site- so they built away. The spot was also sort of in the middle of nowhere, aka a strategical nightmare, so the politically charged prison in its politically charged location was also a perfect target. Add to it the "security detainees" who were now allowed to be held without charges, indefinitely, with authorized torture, and pretty much, you had a recipe for disaster. It got even worse when you added the Military Police (MPs) who were assigned to guard it, and a faulty chain of command.

The MPs were young soldiers, for the most part- reservists whose mission "was law and order, to provide combat support for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force... and to train local policemen for duty under a new national government." Like all Americans, they were led to believe their operation was to be short and temporary before they handed over Iraq to a new, democratically elected government. (Right.) So when they were transferred to guard Abu Ghraib, they were woefully underprepared and understaffed. They had low morale- what were they doing living in prison cells and guarding dangerous prisoners in the middle of a warzone?- and their station was a mess. They lived in a prison off of MREs, they were shelled every night, and shot at. There were 7 of them staffing tiers of hundreds of prisoners. And they had no Standard Operating Procedures. They were given no instructions except to listen to the orders of the MI's- the interrogators who were questioning the prisoners. When the MI's told them to "break" someone, they did. Things that the MPs started out thinking were wrong, awful, adn weird, became common place.

And then there were the cameras. Each MP had a different reason for taking pictures. Some documented everything, even before the torture started. Some said they were covering their asses. Some were obviously show offs. One MP had served before, and the military doctors had not believed he had PTSD- he wanted proof this stuff really happened. Morris and Gourevitch do an amazing job discussing the photographs, the photographers, and the photography itself. The American public was exposed to Abu Ghraib through the images, but we only saw the images, and thought we knew everything that was going on. But Abu Ghraib was messy- Gourevitch and Morris tell us the story, and let the MPs tell us their stories about why they were taking these pictures. Why they had the cameras in the first place, and what happened in the minutes up to the pictures and afterwards. No one tries to make excuses, and the book doesn't try to absolve anyone or resolve anything. It's messy. And the blame, just as we know, only falls on the lowest level of the chain of command. There was no SOP, and no one ever takes the fall from that. As far as I know, there are still thousands of illegally detained prisoners at Abu Ghraib, and no one has taken any responsibity, except for the handful of men and women with cameras.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Nigel Nicolson: Portrait of a Marriage

I have no idea how this book ended up on my shelves. I'm sure Dad gave it to me, but I have no idea how it ended up on his shelves. I'm guessing the connection to current fame is Virginia Woolf, but this book isn't about Virginia Woolf at all. It's relevant right now, in an amazing, wonderful, almost must-read way, but not because of Virginia Woolf. Nigel Woolf is the son of two extraordinary English authors: V. Sacvkille-West and Harold Nicolson. Probably, you've never heard of them, like me, although they seem to have been extremely prolific. Sacvkille-West published at least 15 books, and at one point Nigel mentions Harold having written 40! But what is extraordinary about them is, not to be trite, their marriage.

The book is laid out by Nigel introducing his mother's found autobiography after her death, then a section of it, then his pieced together chronology with a more external look at what Sackville-West has just told the reader, then the second half of her autobiography, then another chronology, then a discussion of marriage. Sackville-West and Nicolson (Harold) married young, after Sackville-West's first romance with a woman. After their first blissful (by all accounts) 5 years and 2 children, Sackville-West began her long second relationship with a woman, which Harold knew about and seemed only to mind when it hurt Sackville-West or took her away from him for too long physically or geographically. He was concerned about the hearts of people his wife might break. He was not jealous physically or mentally.

The couple developed an understanding of marriage (in the 1920s and 1930s!) that they were even willing to share on BBC, based on trust:

The formula ran something like this: What mattered most was that each should trust each other absolutely. 'Trust,' in most marriages, means fidelity.. In theirs it meant that they would always tell each other of their infidelities, give worning of appropaching emotional crises, and, whatever happened, return to their common centre in the end.

Marriage was "unnatural," only for people of "strong charracter," and really, a relationship of friends that should last as long as mutually acceptable. "The husband must develop the feminine side of his nature, the wife her masculine side." Both parties had relationships with other people during their lifelong marriage, and both had relationships with same-sex partners. Sackville-West crossdressed and stated at times she wished she had been born as a man.

I don't really know anything about the UK's stance on gay marriage, or on open marriage, or even if they're particularly more advanced than the US about "deviance," but Nigel Nicolson's treatment of his parents, their lives, and their writings, paints a lovely, sensitive picture of people ahead of their time- asking for respectful treatment, regardless of the physical body parts of the objects of their love. Doing an internet search on this book, I have a feeling that it's known mostly because of the Sackville-West connection to Virginia Woolf- the two women enjoyed a mostly platonic friendship in middle age- but really, the marriage is the rightful heart of this book, and the book deserves its own look. Gay marriage, open marriage, unnamed sexuality: the downright decency of Vita and Harold and the love that their son shows them are the central themes, and this book has the power to convert. Read it, pass it on.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Masochism, Feminism and Eyebrows

I had my eyebrows "done" today, for the first time ever. I've been under some pressure to do this for quite awhile (approximately a decade), and a friend of mine finally convinced me to do it. She found a place that does it with threads or something and today just called me up and took me over, which meant I didn't have long enough to come up with an excuse. I had a minor panic attack about an hour before, but Running With Dogs talked me down. It was fine- the pain wasn't so bad, it was over quickly, and it wasn't that expensive. In fact, you can hardly even tell it happened. Which is good, maybe I'll forget.

On the other hand, I was sitting there, in the mall, one of my least favorite places, thinking what the hell am I doing here? Why am I doing this? This hurts, why do I- why do we- do this? I paid the nice lady for pulling the hair out of my head and then walked off. She said I'd need to redo it in 2 or 3 weeks. So I figure in 2 or 3 weeks I'll either come to my senses or I'll be back at the mall, paying the nice lady again to have hair pulled out of my head in a painful way. What?

I grew up struggling to "wear" my feminism on my body. My mom was a feminist, my schooling was progressive, and I was an avid reader heavily influenced by books like "The Beauty Myth," "Backlash," and "The Feminine Mystique." I didn't burn any bras, but I decided I didn't need to be "girly" to be me. I didn't shave, I wasn't into fashion, and everyone who knows me knows that I don't "do" hair. This was all a conscious, political decision in my early and mid-teens, ala "the personal is political." Now it's just a habit. I'm busy, I have an emotionally taxing job, and it's a force of habit not to do anything with my hair, my appearance, my clothes or anything else. I still believe all those things that made me not buy makeup or buy into the myths, but I don't feel the passionate need to express my beliefs on my sleeve (literally) any more. The drive of youth has passed.

Most of the time, I don't care that I don't buy-in- my life is more simple than that of most women, and even that of my low-key friends. I waste no time with hair driers or hair products. I don't have a makeup routine in the morning or in the evening (I hear that stuff has to come off at night, too.) My clothes all look the same, so they all match- I don't have to pick outfits. I don't look in the mirror, so I don't stress about how I look. But today, I bought in. And I found myself remembering where it all began- that passion the first time I read "The Beauty Myth," the stridency of not shaving for a reason other than sloth, the time when I didn't hide my feminism (now there's a sorry statement.) I found this Germaine Greer quote that says it beautifully:
What is pathological behaviour in a man is required of a woman. A bald man who wears a wig is a ridiculous figure; a bald woman who refuses to wear a wig is being stroppy and confrontational. Women with ‘too much’ (i.e. any) body hair are expected to struggle daily with depilatories of all kinds in order to appear hairless. Bleaching moustaches, waxing legs and plucking eyebrows absorb hundreds of womanhours. A woman who disported herself in a bikini out of which a bush of pubic hair sprouted would be regarded as a walking obscenity.

And sitting in that chair, paying a lady a pittance to "clean up" my body, felt wrong. I felt like I was using her to change me into someone else, someone more serviceable. I didn't feel comfortable with this relationship: here I was, in the most consumer-oriented place around, a fake, new mall built in the last 5 years out of nothing, paying a heavily accented brown lady to pull hair out of my white face. For what? To make me more "attractive" to who? I won't fall under the pressure to do this again.

Dan Baum: Nine Lives

This is the best book I've read in a long time. And not just because the books I've read lately have been pretty mediocre. Dan Baum's "Nine Lives" is a great book. Hurricane Katrina haunts me- I didn't visit New Orleans till December of last year, but the devestation from Katrina is still in a word, devestating. Saint Bernard Parish and the 9th Ward are still hollowed out with acres of open space where there used to be tightly packed housing. It would be a perfect place for urban exploring. Only, it's not. It's a perfect place for rebuilding and bringing people home. It's a perfect place to see government miscarried, and racial injustice at it's finest.

I watched Spike Lee's When The Levees Broke about two months ago, and I highly recommend watching that before reading this book. It's a more factual look at the events before and surrounding Katrina, including a discussion of the politicians involved, and Hurricane Betsy- Katrina's Grandma, if you will. Say what you will about Spike Lee, but he has a lot of the players in this documentary, and he lays it out pretty clearly. Hurricane Katrina was a failure of so many systems. It was a failure of foresight: Hurricane Betsy happened in 1965, and broke some of the same levees on Lake Pontchartrain. Both Lee and Baum quote people in the know who said "we knew we had to fix those levees" and "we knew this would happen again." What's that cliche about history- forget it and you're bound to live it again? Katrina was a failure of local and national government in the short run- how on earth did they leave people stranded in a city with no food, no water, no services, no hospitals for 10 days? And it was a failure of government in the long run- how on earth did they have a city that had no foresight- no PLAN for when the levees broke- and there were people so poor, and so unwilling to leave (can you blame them?) that there was no emergency plan? Shove them in a sporting facility? With no food, no water, no bathrooms, no security? No medical care? And then blame the victims? Right, they didn't get out. Oh, wait, they COULDN'T get out because they didn't have functioning vehicles, or better, anywhere to GO! And then, the failure of afterthought- oh, these refugees in their own country- scattered around the country away from the city that is more than a city but a network of families- oops, forgot about them, and their suffering. Epic fail.

So Spike Lee, and probably all the other articles that you've read and seen on TV, sets the stage for Baum's book. Dan Baum was a New Yorker writer who covered Katrina for the magazine and selected nine people for his book. He follows their stories, starting with Grandma Betsy, through Katrina and a little past (we're not much past- it's just coming up on the 5 year anniversary, and I'll tell you, based on my experience and the lives in the book, I'm not sure how much has changed). Baum has picked a wonderful "cast" and tells their lives in an extremely readable fashion. He has a cop, a rich white civic leader, a parish coroner, the wife of one of the Lower 9th Ward heroes of the Mardi Gras celebrations, a teacher of band (critical to New Orleans culture), a woman who grows up in the 9th Ward, a drifter who moves from LA to New Orleans, a trandsgendered person, and a black union leader. Some meet, some never know of the existance of the others. But they represent parts of New Orleans, and without being overtly political or laying out "this is Katrina", they tell the story. Half of the book is pre-Katrina, and I had to put it down as the section with Katrina happened. I liked the characters too much to deal with the next part. I was too humbled by their lives, and the United States' failure.

Read this book. Don't forget history. It repeats.

hbw- things fall down

Friday, August 14, 2009

Nicholas Dawidoff: The Crowd Sounds Happy

As a memoir, Nicholas Dawidoff's "The Crowd Sounds Happy" didn't work for me. Memoirs, I realized, are almost fiction. They work (or don't work) because the author strings his life together along as one long story. He tells the story as if he were a character in a book- as if his memory really works that way, as if there weren't giant gaps, as if he doesn't just remember snapshots in time, connected by a few hints as-told-by relatives and friends who were also there. Other memoirs work because they don't claim to tell whole long chunks of life- they're just vignettes from life: "When I was 14, a momentous occasion occurred" (in more poetic language) and then some segue happens and some other poetic event happens. Or the mini-moments are organized by theme, or something, so it just flows without having to feel like fiction. Dawidoff attempts to do both- he tells his life story in mini vignettes. Only, he doesn't remember it very clearly, and he forgot to add segues. So it jumps around from vague memory to vague memory in sequential order, but leaving the reader with only a vague picture of a boy with an interesting life in terms of subject matter, but not a particularly interesting read.

On the other hand, Dawidoff is very interesting on some subjects that are near and dear to my heart, and he's an eloquent storyteller about how these things affected his young life. Young Nicky found solace in baseball, and not just in baseball, but in a frustrating Red Sox team. A pre-end-to-the-curse-of-the-Bambino team. Poor Nicky sits by the radio, in fact, choses radio over TV broadcasts of baseball for many of the same reasons I do, and goes through all sorts of superstitious rituals during games. He dreams about the Red Sox, tells himself stories about the players, and picks favorites that aren't necessarily the stars. (Joe Blanton, anyone?) As a child, he reads every old book on baseball he can- he's a reader, too- and as I read along, I tried to remember all the baseball books that I read that were dusty and crusty and not particularly good, but filled my imagination. Most of them were ghostwritten memoirs by baseball stars- another form of memoir, I guess.

Dawidoff lives in New Haven, a city I spent lots of time in during college, and he discusses class issues that the city as a whole faces and that he and his family face. His single mother is a teacher, and Nicky doesn't realize till later, when he is Nicholas, just how much his desires to be more like his upperclass peers are, to have more stuff, etc, sting his mother who works her ass off to provide for her 2 kids. He feels something is amiss, but doesn't have the skills to check it out. What kid does? He suffers all of the way he feels he doesn't fit in in silence, thinking he is the only one. There are lots of other ways this book hit home for me- the voracious reading, feeling like a giant dork, etc. I think I would have liked this as a giant New Yorker article, as it started out. I didn't put it down, because I loved the baseball feel, but I wish I had.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

We're Still at War

I listen to a lot of A's games. They all have the same 8 or 9 commercials that rotate through, starting with the pregame show. I figure this is because the A's are a small market town and there aren't that many companies that want to sponsor them, and the radio station that broadcasts the A's is a very small market station. I can recite many of the commercials word for word. One of the beer commercials is so catchy that I sometimes find myself singing it. It's pathetic. There is one commercial that's actually for the morning show on KTRB, the A's station, that really gets me. The spot talks about how the sports broadcasters go to Iraq to have young (male) soldiers cohost shows where they (I guess long-distance) interview sports stars. The announcer says he's been out to the war about 15+ times, and it's so great because the soldiers really dig it and it's really fun and moving and "the only bad thing is that it's 135 degrees and there are bullets being fired."

Well, yeah.

As Mother Jones Magazine reminds me every day on twitter, We're Still at War. Every day they post pictures from war-related activities- Iraq, Afghanistan, soldiers returning home, etc. It's sobering and sad, and it disgusts me that sports broadcasters are making light of the fact that US troops are still engaged in killing people abroad. In neocolonialism abroad. In "nation building" in the name of fighting terrorism almost 8 full years after September 11th (only 1 month from 8 years away). What are we doing? How can we justify these soldiers' lives? Not just their potential deaths and injuries at war, but the lives of their families while they're gone. Their futures when they get back? (Also from Mother Jones) Their high rate of suicide. Alternet published an article about the justice system screwing vets and though I've heard it before, it bears rereading and repeating. And of course it's not just the soldiers. Without sounding like a folk singer, how many innocent people have to die? How many people have to die- fuck innocence? How many overhanded, outdated, illegal, and downright irrational programs of George W. are we going to continue, and why?

And how many people at home, worrying about the economy, worrying about health care, worrying about their pit bulls (guilty!) have forgotten? If you're on twitter, sign up for Mother Jones' feed. Look at that picture every day. I'm trying to do it. To remember what's going on. To force myself to take action: 8 years is too many. About 8 too many. But let's stop now.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Blue Collar

or, Coming To Terms With My SocioEconomic Status.

Race/Gender/Class. Over and over I have analyzed and deconstructed the intersections of these categories. I've discussed and read and banged my head against them. I've thrown in sexuality and religion and banged them around some more. I even decided against going to graduate school because I was sick of talking about race/gender/class and decided I wanted to DO something with my knowledge/experience/thoughts about race/gender/class. Here are my recent thoughts on race/gender/class and my job in Oakland.

I am a privileged white woman. I was raised in a solidly upper-middle class family by "white collar" parents. Both of my parents worked out of the home in business professions- in fact, they worked in professions that I'm still not quite sure I understand- "management" and "consulting" are words that are in my vocabulary but aren't really in my comprehension. One of those words you read all the time or say all the time but are just pronouncing accurately, not really grasping. "Blue collar" was one of those phrases, too. As a child, I knew people who worked jobs that weren't quite like my parents', and I understood that they made substantially less money than my parents. They were teachers, or waitresses, or other kinds of things that were more like "service industry" jobs. As a teenager I knew someone who's dad was a "chicken sexer" at a factory farm. Part of this is due to living in the city- there are public works jobs and construction jobs here, but no farm related jobs, and not a whole lot of factory jobs. But I didn't know any children of police officers or mail carriers, or really any city workers. Some definitions of blue collar workers discuss the regional nature of the work: there really aren't many mines in Oakland, or lots of car factories like in Detroit.

As I grew up, I had all the luxuries that my status as a white, upper-middle class person afforded me, and I carry those privleges with me today. I had a superior education and can speak two languages fluently (or none at all, depending on the day). I have a drivers' license, I have traveled to multiple places in and outside of the United States, and I have connections in various professional fields and I am able to support myself and my dog in the manner and city that I chose. And I have chosen a "blue collar" profession, in animal-related law enforcement. I literally wear a blue collar every day. (City law enforcement in California usually wears blue and county usually wears green/beige combos.) I perform labor that is often physical, and I am paid hourly. My job does not require a college degree (my sister likes to tease me about my useless degree- I don't blame her!), and I make a solidly middle-class income.

The privileged upbringing of mine carries with it some snobbery, of course. I think this snobbery falls mostly in the educational area- I'm pretty hard pressed to be gender-biased and although my peer group growing up was pretty economically uniform, I'm not blind to systemic failure that leads to poverty among my present-day peers. And although I truly believe there is no such thing as a complete lack of racism, I'm pretty honest with myself about working on anti-racist practice in my life. What is difficult for me is generally feeling "over-educated." Please don't lambast me here- I'm being honest about my experiences with race/gender/class and my current outfit (yuk yuk). I deal with people all day every day from all walks of life. I rarely find myself thinking "*insert racist/sexist/classist stereotype here* person is really a jerkwad," even in the tiniest part of my head. I do find myself thinking, and fighting myself for thinking it, I wish this person was a little more educated on x, y, z. This x, y, or z is often something like "how to get information." Intellectually I know the systemic problems that lead to poor/inadequate education (especially in Oakland), but on a gut level, in a blue collar setting, this is the place where I feel the rub of my new socioeconomic status the most. I learned how to learn, I learned how to find and access information, and I have the privilege of being able to use that knowledge. So many people that I deal with daily do not have this privilege.

It's my experience that city jobs are often a career path, or a step up for many people. They *are* relatively well paying (compare to service industry jobs, for example) and have good benefits. My job is a rewarding job, though hard. In an expensive area, these are good and difficult jobs to come by. Most people I went to college with either chose to 1) make the Big Bucks at private companies, or 2) went for advanced degrees and then went to private companies or academia or the professions, or 3) decided to Damn The Man and work at nonprofits for a pittance. This was often facilitated by some degree on dependence from their upper-middle class families, something I'm unwilling to do. So my initial peer group has chosen to stay on an "upwardly mobile" economic path, and my current peer group is on their own "upwardly mobile" economic path. I sometimes I feel like I have chosen the opposite of the "American Dream": I have chosen happiness over money. I have the best education money can buy, and instead of working to raise money to buy something else, I'm living to work. I'm working in a job that makes me happy and supports my life. I'm not upwardly mobile. I'm not going downhill anywhere, but I'm not going to own a big fancy house with 2 SUVs in the driveway. On the otherhand, I don't see foreclosure in my future, either.

It's an interesting space to be. I work with immigrants, first generation US citizens, mixed race people, transgendered people, people who's sexuality I will never know, parents, renters, home owners, etc. We are all (or almost all) members of a union, and we all wear a uniform (with a literal blue collar) that brings out strong emotions in people who encounter us. I am lucky to have the choice to be there. I could chose to go back to school. I could chose to work at a nonprofit for 1/2 of what I make now- I have done this before- assuming the job market has those jobs available right now. I could retire. Ok, I can't really retire.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Baseball: Not for Dogs (or Cats)

When something is interesting but not appropriate for Mac, I tell him "not for dogs." He doesn't speak English (I often tease myself by telling him "speak English" when I speak to him in complete sentences) but he does understand this phrase- it's our version of "leave it." I read this article this morning about "dog days" events at the ballpark- they hold one every year at the Coliseum and Lisa Spector, the author, attended one at AT&T Park. Basically, Spector explains that the ballpark is total sensory-overload for dogs, especially in terms of sound. It's loud, people scream and cheer, there's a lot of smells and sounds and lights and crowds. It's what makes the ballpark fun for us, and really stressful for dogs.

In a bizarre coincidence, the Royals game was interrupted today by a cat on the field. Check out how stressed this cat looks- his eyes are blown and he's panting he's so stressed. (Cats don't normally pant, for you felinophobes. Pain and stress are two causes.) thinks this dog is "frolicking." I think he's panicking.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Chloe Aridjis: Book of Clouds

After the fiasco with Bearing the Body, dad promised me that this book would be better. I think he read it because of his recent trip to Germany, or maybe it was just one of those semi-esoteric books he reads. "Book of Clouds" (side note- what's with all these books with "cloud" in the title?) is a quick read, with an almost magical note. Ex-pat loner from Mexico lives in Germany after visiting when the wall was still up. Works for a historian who deals with East/West Germany issues and has some run-ins with some fantastical issues. Aridjis leaves the reader wondering what's real and what isn't- not quite my style, but an interesting and quick read. Almost romantic, in a not-cheesy way. Also, sort of depressing, in a not cry-yourself-to-sleep way. I'm sure this is a good book for a certain reader- if I think of who you are, this book is yours!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Rickey Henderson Day

or, themacinator gets sappy.

I almost cried. It is Rickey Henderson Day- the A's are retiring his number- and I was driving home from work and Marty Lurie was doing "Memories of the Game" and all the stories of Rickey are just so great. Rickey is so great. Rickey doing Rickey is so great. Jimmy Rollins talking about how Rickey isn't just a baseball player- he didn't just run out to left, trot to the dugout, walk to the plate, take his AB. He made the game interesting, he cared about the game, he played his part.

Apparently Rickey is Jimmy Rollins' hero. Check these videos. First is hilarious, second is touching.

Rickey holds a lot of awesome records:

1,406 Career Stolen Bases
2,295 Career Runs
2,129 Career Walks
130 Single Season Stolen Bases
He won the AL MVP in 1990, was an All-Star 10 times, had over 3,000 hits and almost 300 home runs. In 25 years, his career OBS was .820. Seriously.

And Rickey is from Oakland. Maybe a statue is in order. I have some serious hometown pride. My eyes are welling over again. I would go to the game, but I drove by at 1 o'clock and people were already showing up. When I passed the Coliseum again at 3pm, the parking lot was 1/2 full! I was at the game last night, and the 12k announced attendance was exaggerated by 3k. I don't think I'd get in if I left now at 5:18 pm. But I'm listening, and tipping my blogger-hat to Rickey. Best thing about Oakland in the '80s=Rickey. Maybe best thing about Oakland ever=Rickey.

#24 retired. Rickey lives forever.