Friday, June 29, 2012

Mac Jolly B. 2001-6/27/2012

Did you know that my dog had a middle name? He did: "Jolly." He got his middle name from a friend of mine, JulieAnn, who never even met my dog. When I first adopted Mac, I fell in love with him so hard that I adopted him even though I was leaving the country for over 6 weeks. I found a way to board him with someone who helped out a local pit bull rescue and gave me a discounted rate, and broken hearted, though I had never spent a night with him, flew off to Mexico, about 10 pictures of him in tow. I told all of my new friends about him, including JulieAnn, whose nickname was Jolly. I promised to give Mac her name, as she was my partner in crime while I was there. That was in June, 2001, and Mac never stopped making friends, though he did stop making middle names. You can only have so many names. (His first name comes from macadamia nut- his head is big like a nut and brain is small like one.) It turned out that Jolly was a perfect middle name for him.

When I came back from Mexico, I drove across the country with Mac and a very good friend, and Mac and I spent our first 9 months together at college in Connecticut. Mac set a pattern there: he was determined to teach me a *lot* about dogs and being a good dog owner, make me laugh, and make me bang my head against a wall. I had already volunteered at an urban animal shelter for over two years, so I wasn't totally out of my league, but little did I know that I had adopted a dog who couldn't be touched without peeing out of a combination of submission and excitement, and who had an excessive aversion to crates. So here I was, sharing a house with 4 other college seniors, and had a young dog who couldn't stay in a crate and ran from person to person pissing all over the place. I liked to keep him tethered to me so he could learn not to do naughty things, but he liked to chew his leash, so I got a metal leash. My roommates were totally not thrilled with the noise of the metal leash plus the pee being spread all over the house- I can't really imagine why not.  And though the shelter and I had aged Mac as a year old, based on his teeth, he kept growing and growing. He loved to use our furniture as an obstacle course- and soon he was close to 60 pounds. My friends knew he was a nice dog, but he was also a young pit bull whose owner was really just figuring it out. Ask my mom about the time I was in the hospital and she got to share the bed with him. The bed was a double bed, but she'll tell you it was a cot, as she ended up on the floor. Mac always had an outsize personality, and strong legs.

When I graduated from college, Mac made sure that I found a job, even though I had a bachelor's degree in fairly useless subjects. He continued to have an immense aversion to his crate, so I had to negotiate with him about staying home alone. (Note for animal people: I am very sensitive to the (ab)use of the term "separation anxiety"- I've probably met less than 5 dogs with real "separation anxiety." If you've heard the stories with Mac and the crate, and met Mac, you'll know the dog did not have separation anxiety. He did, however, hate crates almost as much as he hated cats.) The negotiation at first involved a lot of car-time- Mac always loved the car. Then it involved a dog-friendly workplace. In 2003, there weren't a lot of those, and my only skill was a useless piece of college-issued-paper, so I ended up in retail- a ridiculously upscale dog boutique. I learned a lot there, and Mac continued to provide new and entertaining challenges, and I went to group classes and private (and expensive) training. I met people at a local pit bull rescue and at the first animal shelter that I ended up working for because of Mac and soon switched from retail to animal welfare, where I stayed until last year. I loved my career and was passionate about it. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd end up scooping shit or euthanizing animals, or doing any of the beautiful things that I did- facilitating thousands of adoptions, saving animals from shitty situations, humane education, breed advocacy- and really, it all came from Mac.

Mac had a fan club from beginning to end. When I first came back to California with Mac, I fell into a "secret" Craigslist forum. I don't even know if they have Craiglist forums now in the post-FB world, but we had one that was initially based on sharing pet stories, but developed into a close community. Sharing pictures was a must. Mac, if I must say so myself, was very photogenic, and I decided to take up photography again. This was really the very beginning of digital photography- remember trying to take pictures of pets when the shutters took 3 seconds to click? I started taking pictures of Mac. The poor guy was an excellent sport, at least for the first 5 or 6 years of this, and the Craigslist forum was an excellent audience for Mac's antics and my snapshots. Many of us actually met each other, and through Mac I made friends- many of whom are still friends today. In the same way, I made friends through a pit bull rescue, some that I still count among my closest friends, and even through a pit bull forum, and later, through flickr.  These people are in my life because of Mac, and I got back into photography for the same reason. I remember the first time I knew there was something magnetic about him: we were driving across the country the first time and had stopped to pee (probably me- he could hold it forever) at some national park or other, and a dude came up to me and said "nice dog" in a dude kind of way. He wanted to talk to me, but not because of me. He wanted to have a serious conversation about Mac, who at that point was very much not a "cool" pit bull, but a hilarious looking pit bull/beagle mix. Years later, I was walking Mac with a friend, and someone slowed down and yelled "Mac" out of the window. I had never met this woman, but we had known each other online for years, and she recognized my dog. At the camera store, one of Mac's favorite spots, everyone called out "Mac!" when we walked in, but had to ask my name when we dropped off film. I was always tempted to just tell them to put it in his name. Last year, we did the "52 Weeks of Dog" project, and Mac spread the sofafree word to the dog world. I would joke that Mac had more friends than me, but it's not really a joke. No one recognizes me on the street (thankfully), and if they do, they don't want to stop and chat or pet my head or take my picture.

I liked to bring Mac everywhere that I could. He was a pit bull for peace way back in college when these endless wars were starting- I think it was bombing Iraq, but maybe it was Afghanistan. We stood on street corners against Prop 8. He loved bookstores. He would come to meetups with me to take the pressure off of me in social circumstances- Mac knew how to work a crowd, and I don't. If there's one that that I can talk about, though, it's dogs. Photowalks, protests- whatever- Mac was a frequent flier, and so his fanclub grew. Lots of people knew him, or know me as the girl with Mac. "Oh, you're Mac's owner!" Yes. That was him, and me, and us.

Mac, though never really good with dogs, and often very bad with dogs, had this one thing about him- he liked to walk with dogs. And he was really quite good at it. So Mac had lots of dog friends, if dog friends are dogs you can walk next to, not touch, and never ever look at. It was amazing- I used Mac with lots of my friends- he was totally nonreactive even when their dogs would turn into screaming banshees, as long as I stayed cool and they stayed cool and no one tried to play with him. I think Mac probably helped dozens of young adults like me help manage their ridiculously rude dogs learn how to behave on a leash. This is noteworthy, because Mac was actually quite dog aggressive. He loved dog training class, and I tried to take one every year, even if it was just a beginner class. Surrounded by wild, hyper dogs, he would excel- as long as they didn't touch him. He marched in the pride parade with a contingent of dogs in close quarters twice, and thought there were hundreds of thousands of people there for him- he was so happy. He could ride in the same car with dogs he knew, or dogs he didn't know, if they were crated. But he really would have preffered to be The Only Dog Ever.

And that leads me to cats.  When I first got to college with Mac, and he still looked like a hound, he still acted like a hound, too. A squirrel would run into a tree, and mac would run to the tree and silently point at it. In my naive days, I thought, oh! pointing! Hound!, as though only hounds point. Then Mac discovered pigeons and forgot all about squirrels. He was much more rude and embarrassing when it came to the birds.  He would lunge at them, still silently, and really, there was nothing really houndy about this behavior at all. Then, finally, he discovered the enemy. Birds were nothing compared to cats in the Prey Hierarchy of Mac. The site of a cat would cause Mac to Hulk Out. I always said this, but until I saw that superhero movie last month, I never knew how true it was. Mac turned from a sweet, confrontation-avoiding dog who didn't evne care if you walked on his head (true story) and never barked to a dog who would bust a windshield to get to a cat (also true story), while making incredibly loud and disturbing noises. Mac was a terror when it came to cats. He never got one, and I'm pretty sure he never could get to one: it's not exactly effective hunting behavior to go running and screaming at something you're trying to catch. The closest he came was cat poop. He was a very effective cat shit killer.

Basically, Mac loved people, and he knew how to please them, and win them over, and make them laugh. His favorite thing was to sit on feet, but if he couldn't access your feet- if they were dangling, say- he would aim for your feet and fall over. He spent a lot of time with his belly in the air waiting to be petted, and if you moved your hand, he would look up his head in mock-surprise, which almost always worked to get the petting started again. If it didn't, he would swat you, hard. I kind of let him get away with that. When he did his tricks, he did them with gusto- people would crack up when I would show him his shake- "show it to me"- or his "dead"- the roll over that we never finished learning so basically looked like Mac going from lying on his side to quickly lying somewhere between his side and straight on his back and then bouncing back up. Sometimes I would demonstrate what free-shaping would look like- Mac went crazy anytime the clicker came out, and would just throw trick after trick at me. You could not watch Mac trying to get trained without laughing. We took both nose-work and freestyle dancing, and in each class, Mac kept stealing attention- he'd prance around and look up at me and wink. He knew people were watching and laughing. He never did catch on that I didn't really like being laughed at, but I did feel so proud of my boy.

He loved clothes- he had tons of outfits and costumes, and even though everyone claimed I abused him, I swear that I would never have put him in them if he didn't always come over to me when I pulled them out. He would lift up his foot willingly when I needed to put him in the sleeves. He hated being cold or wet- trust me, the clothes were better. Eventually, Mac realized that the bed was better under the covers. Unfortunately, Mac never figured out how to get under the covers. For those of you who have never had a dog, or never had a dog who is allowed in the bed, this is a skill that most dogs eventually gain. Mac would spend ten minutes mushing his pillow around and his nose would be mostly under the pillow: That's as far as he could get. So I'd get settled in for the night, and lift up the cover for him and he'd slide in. If I forgot, or he woke up outside of the covers, he'd claw my arm, hard, until I lifted up the covers. So hard that one day I went to work with bruises on my arm that looked like a human had grabbed me. No, Mac just wanted his creature comforts.

Mac really wans't much of an athlete- he always liked to do outside things, but never needed to do them, which is pretty much just my speed. When I first got him, I tried to teach him to swim. I threw him in a pond and he panicked. I threw his toy in the pond and he ran to the edge and panicked. I went into the pond and he panicked. No dice. But one day, with another dog, he learned to chase his toy into the water, and that was it. He loved it. Then there was the seal incident, and that was that. He liked to walk, he loved to shred, and when we found secret places, he loved to chase his monkey around. He loved urban exploring, and was fearless about climbing up and down and all around. I used him as cover more than once- "no, sir, I was just walking my dog, I have absolutely positively no idea how we ended up behind this barbed wire that clearly states 'no trespassing' all over it!"

But Mac hated just *being outside until a few months ago. I would try to hang out outside with him- I'd put his long line on when I was doing yard work, and he'd huddle against the door trying to get in. At my parent's house with a secure fence, I'd leave the front door open- he'd run out to pee and bound back in like a juicy steak was waiting for him. Then we moved here, and he learned the art of sunbathing. Maybe he knew already that something was growing in his head, or maybe the sun felt good. I never let him loose in my yard, because I'm a mean terrible person, or really because I didn't want him to ruin the beautiful garden with his pee and shred routine, so we built a "doggy jail," and the rest of the time I spent outside he'd be tethered to various posts near my gardening or porch swing.  That dog loved it. He'd move to the sun or move back onto his bed in the shade. He grew liver spots. He got dirty for the first time in his life. He went out with my roommate for her morning coffee. He took naps with me on the swing. He turned into an outside dog. Okay, that's going to far- he turned into a normal dog who liked to lay out.

And then he got sick. Mac had a trigeminal nerve sheath tumor, or at least probably he did- I never did an MRI. He developed unilateral atrophy on one side of his head- the muscles all caved in on his left side. It just didn't look right, and I took him to the vet, who couldn't meet my eye. After about 2 weeks, we ruled everything else out, and I was almost relieved- no more not knowing. I was going to have at least a few months, maybe his normal lifespan, or till my house fell down. I promised him and myself that I wouldn't do anythign that would just prolong his life, with the possibility of keeping his quality of life up. I would put him down while he still felt good, while he was still Mac. And then, almost within the week, he became painful. I had seen him in pain before, when his back went out. But this time, I knew what he was suffering from was also the thing that was going to be the house that fell on him, and on me. He was tired all the time, and now he was painful. It was awful.

The week leading up to his death was spent on the couch- a spot I spent 10 years keeping as people space- Mac is big and strong, remember? I wanted people to be able to sit on the couch without my dog sitting on them. He got pain meds practically every other hour that day. He saw about 6 aunties and 2 uncles in two days- I told you, Mac has a fan club- and they all left crying. We gave Mac a party and taught him how to be a bad dog. He ate chips right out of T's mouth, and caught them out of C's hand. Within a minute he learned that people food was Mac food- something I had spent 10 years making sure he didn't know.

I had Mac for exactly 10 years- June 2002 to June 2012. This is the entirety of my adult life. Today is the first day that I have spent in my own home without my dog. It is surreal. In those ten years, I've probably spent 40 total nights away from him. If we're going to be a little more crass, he's cost me more money than anything else I've ever owned, including my car. He's outlasted many boyfriends- I've called him my "old man" since way before he was old. I have been identified, defined and self-defined by this dog. I have loved him probably like I haven't loved anyone else. He has broken my heart a jillion times and been an immense challenge, but gave me so so much. Everyone keeps telling me what a perfect dog he was. I know what they mean, but I can't help arguing with them. T, who of everyone, probably knows him best since she lived with him for about 5 years, said it best: "He was a good dog, but he was a great friend."

Mac, you were my main man. I am who I am because of you. You were my home, my bighead in the storm. You were one lucky ass bulldog to come live with me- I gave you my best, and I'm pretty sure most people would have given up on you after the 8000th thing you peed on that first year, not to mention the other things that came later. But really, I am one lucky ass girl to get you. We were great team.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ed Vulliamy: Amexica

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I don't know how Ed Vulliamy has done it, but he has done it: written the book on what is really going on on the border; what life is really like under the reign of the narco-cartels, and how it got that way. The question here is purely logistical: Vulliamy writes with "unimpeachable" (one of his words) authority about a subject where to know too much is to end up dead. He acknowledges that he is helped along immensely by his non-American status: being European gives him an extra few minutes of grace period in tricky situations, but the question remains how he as put together such a detailed and nuanced picture that combines historical and current looks at the drug and gun smuggling business. It's clear that he has built relationships over time with community members who become willing to trust him, and he also uses his journalist creds to talk to authorities like mayors, and ATF agents. He also tells some stories that I've heard before- because I read *all of these books- like the story of the pastor with the "recovery center" for the mentally ill and the former sanctuary activists who now help migrants who would otherwise die crossing the border.

But really, this is the only question I have about "Amexica," and it's a question, not a beef. Vulliamy has written a masterpiece, if you are interested in the border or the humans involved with the ridiculous war on drugs.  Without really making policy stances on either, Vulliamy lets the reader know that what is going on isn't working. His argument is that narco violence is a direct result of the much vaunted "opening of Mexico": the transition to free trade and two-party democracy.
The violence occurs not despite but, in large part, because of these changes; it is at best an inevitable side effect of "opening Mexico," and at worst integral to it. La plaza is a marketplace like any other, and narco cartels are not criminal pastiches of contemporary, multinational "late" capitalism-they are part of it and operate according to its values- or rather lack of values- and logic.
The warfare that results- between cartels, between the Mexican army and the cartels, between the civilization and cartels, between the US and the cartels, etc- is thus a new kind of war, that no one has yet wrapped their mind around. The war is, Vulliamy writes, "about nothing." It is "postpolitical," and takes place "in an age of belligerent hypermaterialism as an ideology in itself," which can be seen all over our society.
Mexicans are mutilating, decapitating, torturing, and killing each other ostensibly over money and the drug-smuggling routes that provide it. Some argue that all wars are fought indirectly over money and resources- whether wars of empire fought from the nineteenth century until 1918, or of ideology or religion in the twentieth century. But most of the savage violence in Mexico is for the smaller profits of the domestic market and local street corner, meted out for its own sake... Mexico's war has no ideological pretensions or street dressing... The narco war is fought for the accoutrements- brands, accessories, applications, and other possessions- of postmodern social kudos, social performance, the ability to show off the right labels, brands... For these definitions of status, thousands die... Murders mutilations, and executions are exhibited on the Internet, themselves a blend of cyber-sado-pornography. Unlike the cyberstrutting of Al Qaeda, from whom it is sometimes argued they got the idea, the narcos use digital communication not as a weapon of insane holy war but with something approaching a sense of humor with which to goad and boast across cyberspace- gift-wrapping their real-life bloodlust in the electronic ether of titillation and nonmeaning.
So there you have it: Vuillamy has laid out a cogent and rather new argument, without preaching about how much the US and Mexico have fucked this up, and then backs it up in a new way: starting with the West Coast, Vuillamy follows the border across the country, detailing the issues as he goes. Readers learn how ordinary folks have experienced the last ten years of the narco take over, and how officials have dealt (or not dealt) with them. The writing is not lyrical like a Charles Bowden book or academic like the text above, but more journalistic, or like a New Yorker article that actually works as a full-length book. He visits big cities like Tijuana and Juarez, and smaller, no-name towns, weaving opinions on how and why this happened. The story is depressing, but also fascinating, and hard to look away, like any true crime story that happens also to be a travelogue. Students of the border must read this. Students of the drug war must read this. Students of gun issues must read this.  Everyone else might wonder why, but should probably read it as well. Thank you, Ed Vulliamy.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Gustavo Arellano: Taco USA

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I was going to put "Taco USA" down: Gustavo Arellano is a syndicated columnist with a column called "Ask a Mexican," something I didn't know when I picked the book up at the library, but something that made perfect sense about 3 pages into the book. The writing style is chatty and sort of silly, and not my style. But I stuck with the book, because the subject- Mexican food- is near to my heart, and because I actually learned some stuff. For example, did you know that canned tortillas existed? (Gross.) And Arellano's discussion of "authentic" Mexican food is quite fascinating, if underdeveloped. If you're interested in tacos, and if you live in the Bay Area, you probably are, looking for a fast read, AND don't mind being hungry for 300 straight pages, you might like this book. However, vegetarians beware: there is a *lot* of meat in this book, and it's really REALLY tempting.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Kristian Williams: Our Enemies in Blue

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The second edition, the one I read, of "Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America" was published in 2007. Excluding the omission of Occupy the book could have been published this week. To me, this shows the accuracy and timeliness of the theories Kristian Williams advances: he has written a book about how policing got to the state it's in, what that state is, and how it manifests itself that could as well describe the events of the early and mid- 2000s that are included in the book as it could describe the policing tactics surrounding Occupy or even Oakland Mayor Quan's "100 blocks plan." This is a book that anyone affected by law enforcement should read, and really, that's everyone: Protesters, people in "urban" neighborhoods, proponents of "community policing," officers themselves, and just "normal" people. The thing is, few of these people will read it: it's too academic for most people, Occupiers don't seem to care about history (in my experience) and are falling into the exact traps that you would expect them to based on "Our Enemies in Blue," cops are part of the "why let logic get in the way of tradition" school and/or change-adverse, politicians think that "community policing" is the answer, etc etc.  This book is full of big ideas that are too big to swallow, for most people. So I can' only spread the word and maybe a few key ideas.

There is a traditional history of The Police, which, while not super familiar to me, revolves heavily on the bobbie, or English policeman. American police, the myth goes, are direct descendants of London's Metropolitan Police, or "Bobbies," created in the 1820s. Williams complicates this picture by first introducing characteristics of modern policing, which the Bobbies didn't meet until after some of their own institutions. For Williams, modern policing meets the following criteria (good to keep these in mind):

1. The department operates under a single organization.
2. The department has centralized control and citywide jurisdiction (ie: not a neighborhood).
3. Procedures and offices are uniform/continuous.
4. The police have a specialized function (ie: not parking enforcement, just policing).
5. The department operates 24/7 (ie: not night watchmen).
6. Personnel are paid, not volunteers.
7. The department focuses on preventing crime.

Thus, Williams can easily show that American policing met many of these standards well before the Bobbies, and as direct descendants of their very own (ugly) traditions: slave patrols, city guards, and day and night watchmen. The very things that we worry about now with policing: racism, police brutality, discriminatory laws, targeting of specific neighborhoods, etc, are built into the very foundation of policing; they *are the reason for policing. Slave patrols were mandated to bring black slaves back to their white masters, the police in Boston were tasked with dispersing what we would now call loiterers.  Williams describes slave patrols as one "straightforward route to modernization, because rather than serving primarily as officers to the crown or the court, the slave patrols existed solely as a means of preserving the status quo through the enforcement of the slave codes."

In time, (as Williams detailed), both urban and rural forces evolved hand in hand with increased industrialization and urbanization, and this in turn required the increasing bureaucratization of the city: "policing is thus tied to a more general trend in government administration, the rise of bureaucracies..." This allowed (and allows) local government to use the police "to enforce its will, regulate the behavior of the citizens and generally keep an eye on things with unprecedented efficiency and regularity." Local governments and police departments continued to get more professional, more bureaucratic, and more centralized, (Williams has a fascinating section on the ways machine politics and the police worked together), and as they did, they became harder to separate. Police bureaucracy, however, is inherently flawed: cops on the street have an enormous amount of autonomy and discretion, and the military structure does not actually mimic the discipline and order of the military. Williams breaks it down: "This allowed corruption, prejudice, favoritism, and political influences some amount of latitude on the street- where the police did their work- while limiting these factors in the offices of management, where policy was set." Meanwhile, post-machine politics, local governments were now in a great position: they could depend on the police to enforce their will and status quo, while blaming excesses in the process squarely on the head of the chief. If this sounds too good to be true, remember the events of November, 2011, when OPD raided Occupy Oakland, which ended in a disaster. Mayor Quan denied knowledge of the affair, though clearly having authorized the removal of the encampment. The police did their jobs, enforced the status quo, brutally, at the behest of local government, who threw them under the bus.

Here's another trick about the policed society: modern police have been shaped and "softened" by things like the Kerner Commissions after the excesses of police reaction to the civil disobedience of the late 1960s. Williams describes it as "schizophrenic": the new models try to prevent disturbances created by protests, through "non-aggressive" demeanor and cooperation of organizers:
they [the Commissions] decry social injustice with criticisms of racial discrimination, prison conditions and the plight of the urban poor. They push for greater inclusivity at all levels of society. But they also denounce the activities by which attention was successfully brought to these problems, and change effective. The Eisenhower report explicitly denounces civil disobedience; and the Scranton report insists that those responsible for campus unrest be disciplined. These reports push for rigorous adherence to Constitutional guarantees of free speech and the like, while at the same time offering precise instruction on the means of limiting, containing, and controlling protests.
This is not, Williams says, the Commissions trying to walk a fine line between defending protester's rights and keeping the peace. It's instructions for "controlling dissent" in a new, sophisticated way. It's a big question: Americans use protest and dissent to change things, and in theory, the US and democratic governments support citizens in striving for improved equality. However, protest, free speech, and actions which will enable this change may take the form of actions that threaten powerful stakeholders, causing localities to rely on policing. Only the police are vested with the authority to use violence and/or brutality, and only they and the government can define violence and/or brutality or illegal behavior, and they can define it broadly: . This is a lot of power, and when they get to use this power to deny others to voice objections to the power, problems arise. Williams has written the book on how to evaluate where we are, how we got here, and more: where we go from here. Life without police sounds fantastical, but when we understand what's really at stake, worth the discussion.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Baseball is Life- A Trip in Photos

I went on a trip. Some people go on vacation, but I went on a trip with a purpose: baseball. If you want to know what I did, you should read Travels of THB starting with Day 0. You will note many similarities to this blog in these posts, complete with book reviews and sofafree. Bonus points if you guess the relationship between themacinator and THB. No bonus points if you know us. 

So I'll skip the description- THB is very good at this, and will include details that I couldn't/wouldn't dream of (such as the elliptical machines- I wouldn't know where to begin on this!). What I can include is pictures, which, of course are worth 1000000s of words.

First we went to Philadelphia. THB has a major item on his bucket list- perhaps the only item that I know of- to visit all Major League ballparks. (I lied- second on his bucket list is to collect a tee-shirt from each ballpark featuring the ballpark.) This is, of course, an ever shifting goal, as ballparks continue to be erected and torn down. Anyway, THB had already been to Citizen's Bank Park, so it was very generous of him to go there again. It was awesome.

first view of phils

This was my first view from right behind where we sat, when we got there over an hour and a half early. There is a sit-down cafe type spot right behind the vantage point, and people were waiting in line to eat there.

It rained the entire time we were in Philadelphia. I'm lying- it stopped for the national anthem, but you can see the clouds were coming.

1st phils game, national anthem

Although the crowd eventually filled in, they also eventually headed for the hills (or at least under the overhang, which luckily, we were under): here is mid-rain delay.

phils rain delay

Again, THB has many more details about this rain delay- wanna see what it looks like when a tarp goes on the field? Or off the field? He's your guy. I only have this scenic shot for you. It was really wet.


By the way, these seats were really good, even though you might be under the mistaken belief from these pictures that they were way out in left field. They were way out in left field, but Citizen's Bank Park is really good. They felt very close, we could see everything, and the guy in the row in front of us caught a home run hit by Hunter Pence.

The next day it didn't rain. Well, it rained, but not during the game. I've fact-checked against THB's blog, which makes no mention of rain, but I am absolutely sure that it rained every single day that we were on the East Coast with the exception of the day we left, at which point it only rained when the plane was taking off. We had amazing seats that day, almost exactly in the spot where we now sit at the A's games- slightly to the third base side of home, right where the net starts to trail off (foul ball territory). We sat next to a father/daughter pair (BIG HINT!)- the girl was eight, and the dad was super sweet. It was very memory-enhancing.

2nd phils game, national anthem

Note: the stands look empty in this picture, but it's an optical illusion. Phil's fans pay approximately 3x as much per ticket as A's fans, but arrive approximately 3x later than A's fans, to see much better baseball. There are also approximately 3x as many people at each game. Near the end of the game, THB moved down one row, and the fan two seats away from him caught a foul ball. This was not the highlight of the trip, but it sure was exciting!  First Phil's game: win. Second game: loss.

2nd phils game after everyone got there

Final note about Philly: nowhere in the entire stadium do they sell a Joe Blanton object. This was the lowlight. The highlight? Not seeing Joe's terrible outing the day after we left.

Image created with Snapseed

Then we went to New York to work on the bucketlist. I could go on and on about Citi Field, but it was terrible. THB describes it a little, but in a nutshell, it was huge, hugely overpriced, and full of huge blind spots. I won't blame the rain (both days) on the park, but that wasn't so good, but the fact that we sat in identical seats the first day as we had at the first Phils game and yet could not see center or left fields at all, and though it wasn't raining for the majority of the game, felt like we were in a wind tunnel was not so good. Also, you're not mistaken if you think we were far away. We were far away, even though in theory we were exactly in the same place as we were at the Phillies game. Maybe, we thought, the obstructed views were because they brought the fences in this year. No, we learned, the fences obstructed the view for all the people in the lower deck in right field. Major dud.

mets night game

The next day was a day game, and we had much better seats, mainly because we were out of the wind tunnel. We thought we had would be able to see the whole field, too, as you get what you pay for, right, (Well, all the seats were expensive), and we were in fancy seats on the first base line. Wrong! A ball was hit to right field and GONE was the ball! Not to the stands, but out of our view. And though you see empty stands here, they didn't fill in like they did at the Phils game. We figured maybe 20,000- maybe a few more, since that's a full A's game, but it was hard to tell. Citi Field is mammoth, and the fans were scattered all over that thing. Once again, I won't blame the Field for the rain, especially since it mostly held off during the game. First game win, second game loss.

mets daygame

The last day we went to Yankees Stadium which I hear is exactly like old Yankees Stadium. I can't go into it, or I'll wretch. The stadium was fine, but the Yankees, not so fine. Mediocre park, expensive, and not full.

yankees (YUCK)

THB went to the A's dame the day after we got home. He's a gamer.