Thursday, July 26, 2007

Fresh air

It's hot and sunny here in Minneapolis. Combine that with the blacktop effect and smog, and we're having a week of low-quality air. Yesterday it was so bad the elderly were advised against strenuous activity.

I am not unaffected by this, as I live only a couple Pujols moonshots away from about a dozen factories and mills. When I've gone outside this week and the wind was low, I could feel how bad the air was.

So when the stuff outside your door's no good, where do you go to get fresh air?

. . .

Tim Donaghy, Michael Vick, Barry Bonds, the Tour de Frauds.

Where do I begin?

Nowhere. Today there's no beginning, just an ending.

I'm not going to sift through five dozen highlight tapes to decide whether "Points" Donaghy was on the take. I'm not checking to see if that dubious third quarter blocking call from a Memphis game in December was in fact a charge.

Though I'll follow it's arc, I'm not going to get lost in the minutiae of Vick's strife. If you want my initial thoughts, scroll down. That's all I've got.

I won't go into detail on why I think Bonds should retire with 754 home runs.

I won't try to understand why everyone in the entire French countryside, peasants included, begins their morning with a piping hot cup of human adrenaline.

I mean, my God, now they're telling me I can't trust Alberto Gonzales. Where will it end?

I've been up and running here at needle in the hay since March. Covered a variety of topics, and you can find them listed at the right. Sports, other stuff. About 60,000 words.

But all of this? This is too much. I wish I was angrier. I wish I could come out all fire and brimstone. I just can't bring myself to care enough.

Yesterday was wallpapered with scandal coverage, stories and analysis. Not long ago they had a poll question up asking whether baseball, basketball, or football was facing the worst scandal. I opted not to vote.

The real news in this world is mostly bad news. So often I turn to sports to distract myself from people's personal struggle and hardship. It's just easier for me.

And when there is scandal in sports, what then? If your distraction from the corruption of daily life is itself corrupt, where do you turn?

Where, indeed, do I find fresh air?

. . .

My girlfriend's been in South Africa a month now. I leave in a little more than a week. I'll be there three months.

I can't wait. Besides the obvious downside of that kind of distance -- miscommunication and bad connections, now only 51 cents a minute! -- it'll be nice just to have her in the room with me again. I've spent much of the last three weeks alone. I'm tired of being on the internet sports beat. I'm tired of being inside my own head. I just want to go sit somewhere with her and talk about how good the food is.

I plan to keep writing in this space, but not necessarily along the same track. I'm not sure what I'll end up writing while I'm in South Africa, though I am not without my ambitions. I do plan to immerse myself in the local soccer scene and see what comes from that.

Anyone with a good knowledge of world sports and politics would see the fallacy in looking for honesty from this game and asking for justice from this guy. But then it's a sliding scale, isn't it?

I assume that when I get back in November, two teams will be in the World Series. Steve Nash and Phoenix will be up and running. There will be half a dozen Heisman candidates, and Randy Moss will have been either great or terrible.

Sometime after I get back, it'll catch me again. I'll hear about something Gilbert Arenas said to a 76ers fan, or I'll see a college football game turn on a punt return, or Sid Crosby will grab his stick by the blade and score a slapshot with the handle just to show he can.

Until then? As the lead character said in Good Will Hunting, "I'm holding out for something better."

Right now, something better comes in a few forms for me. I'm taking a self-taught class in storytelling, I'm trying to remember genius, and I'm looking for miracles, both great and small.

I'll keep you posted.

Until then,

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