Another Update of “MY ASPIE LIFE”: How Things Are Going

 

 

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I’ve always liked mountain scenery photos, they’ve always been relaxing to me. That’s why I posted this one…

 

I promise I’ll be brief and make this as short, sweet and honest as I can…

Things are not going as well as hoped in writing the first draft of chapter 11 of my book, “MY ASPIE LIFE: Living With Asperger’s Syndrome in the Mainstream”, the tome I have been working on describing my struggles with having high functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder outside of that community as even though I have started on the first draft, I seem to be a bit stuck as far as to what direction I want the chapter to take.

I don’t want to give any details or spoilers as to what the chapter is about, but let’s just say this:

While I don’t think it’s matter of the classic obstacle commonly known as “Writer’s Block”,  I do think that’s it’s a combination of trying to figure out what exactly the emphasis of the chapter will be and trying to fit in the time of actually writing the chapter, as I’ve been busy with various other endeavors that can be chalked up to simply “life”.

Which includes keeping this blog current as well as the other one I have, SoCal Sports Annals, a sports fan blog (the link is http://www.SoCalSportsAnnals.wordpress.com if you want to check it out) which, after writing and posting stuff for online organizations like FanSided and Bleacher Report for several years, is essentially starting my own business; my “day job” if you will.

As well as devoting a significant amount of time per week to working out  – mostly cardio with some weightlifting mixed in – to avoid the (approaching) serious health problems that I was suffering from this past fall.

That’s why in order to make time to work on “MY ASPIE LIFE” and be sure that it’s finished and published by the time I said that it would be – mid-July – I need to take some time off over the course of these next two weeks so I can really focus not only on having chapter 11 done, but to also do some rewriting of a few of the previous chapters in order to make sure “MY ASPIE LIFE” is of good quality.

If I can have the chapter done by mid-May with book ready for self-publishing in mid-June, that would be perfect.

Though I don’t like clichés, I think I can forgiven for offering up some here:

Wish me luck, and hold a good thought for me.

 

 

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The One Thing I Wish For Regarding Race and Racial Issues

 

 

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Getting right to the point, as there have been SO much stuff on this issue, what with the recent police killings of unarmed Black men in South Carolina and Ferguson, MO and that racist song sung by that fraternity at the University of Oklahoma…

I can sum up what I wish for as far as this centuries-long cancer in three words:

RAW, NAKED HONESTY

I am sick and tired of conservative whites proclaiming how they are not racist, but then spout views and opinions that show them to be otherwise.

To illustrate what I am wishing for not only whites, but for all Americans regardless of color…

Remember the movie 42, which detailed Jackie Robinson’s struggle to break the color line in Major League Baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers and starred Chadwick Bozeman as the pioneering legend and Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey, Jackie’s mentor and the one who signed him?

Remember the scene where during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia manager Ben Chapman, a native Alabaman (played by Alan Tudyk), stepped out of the dugout every time Jackie came to bat and screamed some blatantly vile, bigoted things such as (besides the n-word, which he repeatedly shouted at the top of his lungs)…

“Hey, porch monkey!”

“Tar baby’s skin gonna melt!”

“Which one of the white boys’ wives are you gonna climb on tonight?”

(When Jackie’s hat flew off) “Why don’t you leave it on the ground and do a little dance; put some money in it?”

Of course what Chapman did was absolutely despicable, and I think at least 99% of those who saw 42 would agree, no matter what race or political ideology they were.

As much of an evil person as he was, there is one thing that I will say in Chapman’s behalf:

HE WAS HONEST IN HIS VIEWS.

Which Malcolm X discussed at length in his classic autobiography when he stated this about Southern whites like Chapman:

“The white Southerner was always given his due by Mr. (Elijah) Muhammad (former leader of the Nation of Islam). The white Southerner, you can say one thing – he is honest. He bares his teeth to the black man; he tells the black man, to his face, that Southern whites will never accept phony ‘integration’. The Southern white goes further, to tell the black man that he means to fight him every inch of the way, even against the so-called ‘tokenism’. The advantage of this is the Southern black man never has been under any illusions about the opposition he is dealing with.”

I will add to what Malcolm said and state that this paragraph from his book can apply to anyone who makes known his or her true feelings on how they negatively regard races or ethnic groups that are different from his or hers, as opposed to what’s the norm today; people – predominantly conservatives and conservative politicians – who disguise their racism in the policies that they enact and support that hurt African-Americans, Latinos (re: immigration), gays, and others who are not conservative and (mostly) white.

Not to mention folks who deny jobs to people of color when they are far and away the most qualified person for that job, as what happened to me when I was passed over for a softball coaching position because someone else had “asked first” when the prospective employer took one look at me, after she was clearly impressed with my resume and what I was telling her about my experiences over the phone.

As well as those who follow blacks and Latinos around in stores because they are convinced that they might steal something.

And let’s not even talk about all the racial profiling (which I was also a victim of in the past) and “Driving While Black” incidents that continue to be quite common; I could elaborate on the recent episodes that have been all over the news lately, but that issue has been done to death in the media and will result in an entirely different article if I was to go there.

Crispin Sartwell (who happens to be white), in an opinion article he wrote a few years ago called “White America Needs Its Bigotry”, puts things in perfect perspective when he made these different points:

*  “Most white people think that racism today is limited to a few crazy extremists…We still associate racism with the Ku Klux Klan (and) bigots in the Deep South.”

*  “Average white people don’t think they are racists. Because they would never utter the “n-word” or eat in segregated restaurants or teach their children explicitly that black people are inferior, they believe they cannot be prejudiced.”

*  “There continues to be a huge disparity between the incomes and employment prospects of the races. And white Americans continue to harbor the attitudes that preserve these conditions.”

*  “With a bigot, you know where you stand. But what do you do when someone smiles in your face and doesn’t hire you? Or denies their racism, then follows you around their store because they think you are a shoplifter (or, I may add, stops you in the street because you “fit the description” of some criminal)?”

That last point is the kind of bigotry – a gentler, more subtle kind of bigotry but bigotry nonetheless – that people of color, mostly African-Americans and Latinos, deal with today.

Which personally upsets me more than if someone told me flat-out: “I don’t like n*****s”, because like that Phillies manager of so long ago, that person using the n-word would be proving that he or she is honest.

And it’s that raw, naked honesty that’s SO needed if this country is to truly deal with this issue and these cultural tensions that currently permeate – and always have permeated – this landscape.

Do I think that all whites are like this or have these views?

Of course not! And I don’t think Sartwell feels that way either.

But far too many folks feel this way.

And in my view, one is too many.

I didn’t mean to take this long on this subject, so I’ll end by saying this:

As far as I’m concerned, I honestly don’t know what else is there to say.

 

 

Perfect Sign

This sign expresses these current race issues perfectly

 

 

 

 

BASEBALL AND ME: My (nearly) Lifelong Affection For This Game and Why It Still Matters

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Dodger Stadium, a place that I have visited countless times over the years

 

IN COMMEMORATION OF THE START OF BASEBALL SEASON, HERE I AM – VOICING MY SENTIMENTS FOR WHAT (unfortunately) USED TO BE THE NUMBER ONE FOCAL POINT OF SPORTS IN AMERICAN CULTURE BUT STILL HOLDS A CERTAIN APPEAL TO PEOPLE

 

I remember clearly the time when I first got truly attached to what was – at least until football and the NFL took over in the 1980s and 90s – widely considered America’s national pastime:

It was in October, 1977.

I was a ten-year old fifth grader doing what every other fifth grader did, attending school and basically being a kid.

Now I was always exposed to baseball thanks to the my obsession with the Peanuts comic strip/cartoon, as they periodically played the game (very badly), but when the local team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, appeared in the World Series, that was it for me.

Especially when Reggie Jackson hit those three home runs in Game Six that won the title for the New York Yankees; I strongly disliked those navy blue pinstripers for quite a while afterward and remember wanting to be a major league baseball player strictly so I can get a chance to avenge those Bronx Bombers.

That love of baseball only intensified when I visited Dodger Stadium for the first time on the day I turned eleven, as I vividly remember Davey Lopes stealing four bases and Don Sutton throwing a 5-0 shutout over a team that doesn’t even exist anymore as they now play their home games in Washington, D.C., the Montreal Expos.

My playing little league was merely a formality after that, but that’s another story.

Of course like about 99.999% of others who aspire to such, becoming a big leaguer didn’t work out for me as with my lack of throwing ability at that time and pretty much throughout my formative years I had less than no chance of ever collecting a (very large) paycheck to wear a major league uniform and play in Dodger Stadium – or any other kind of stadium for that matter.

Heck, I was one of the first people cut from my high school team, and deservedly so!

But that failed to stop my affection – and what to some seemed like an obsession – of the game as I continued to play in the local Colt League – geared toward high school-aged players – for a couple of years, then set off on an approximately two decade career coaching youth baseball and softball, experiencing both good and bad times and learning a lot of lessons on how to work with people – young and otherwise – along the way.

I suppose you are wondering why I consider baseball my favorite sport to play and one of my favorite to watch (along with college football).

Being that it’s approaching four decades since that baseball bug had bitten me, and now that I am considered a middle aged-man in American society as I approach my fifties, I’ve given a lot of thought to the appeal that baseball still has over me.

Here’s what I believe it is:

I see baseball as something akin to a combination of an old childhood friend that you are still in contact with and are fond of and a large heavy quilt that you wrap yourself up with on cold days and feel quite cozy in.

In other words, I get a feeling of comfort that I don’t get when watching basketball or even football, even though one of my three favorite teams along with the Dodgers is the football squad of my college alma mater, UCLA.

This sense of comfort and familiarity was particularly realized when HBO released a three-part documentary series in the 1990s called “When It Was A Game”, which featured film of major league baseball players and games – often in rare color and sometimes never before seen – spanning the 1930s through the 1960s.

 

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Josh Gibson, legendary Negro Leagues catcher for the Homestead Grays who in my book was the best hitter who ever lived, hitting over 900 home runs during his career

 

It reminded me once and for all why I loved the game, and rebooted such love in a sense, along with Ken Burns’ “Baseball” documentary on PBS, detailing the long history of the game and how it evolved over the decades from something played in pastures to a business generating billions of dollars.

As for why I feel the game still matters:

It has a historical quality and context to it that no other sports – including football – can match in that the appreciation and love of baseball has often been passed around through generations; I recall fondly my grandfather joking about how when he pitched on his softball team, his fastball was so slow that he can throw it and be on the other end to catch it.

Historically, broadcaster Bob Costas expressed it perfectly in Ken Burns’ “Baseball” when he talked about how in football, the hardcore fan wouldn’t know what Emmitt Smith’s career yard total was or how in basketball, the avid fanatic wouldn’t know what Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s final point total was, or what Wilt Chamberlin’s was when Kareem passed it in 1985.

And to add to Costas’ point, the die-hard hockey fan wouldn’t know what Wayne Gretzky’s career goal-scoring total was, or what Gordie Howe’s was when the “Great One” passed it.

More importantly, the crazed fanatics of those other sports, the ones who go to every game and get extremely depressed over any setbacks their team suffered, wouldn’t care.

But the casual baseball fan, the one who could take the game or leave it and only follows big events like the World Series, would know very well how 1941 was the year that Joe DiMaggio hit in 56 straight games and Ted Williams hit over .400, the last man to do so, and that 1947 was the year of Jackie Robinson breaking the color line, along with Henry Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1974.

As well as Cal Ripken, Jr. breaking Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played record of 2,130 in 1995.

That, I feel, clinches the argument of why baseball still matters and why I still hold an affection for it.

As such, I plan to go to at least one Dodger game this season – the next one will be my 50th, dating back to that first game I saw in Chavez Ravine on my 11th birthday – and to check out a college game or two and maybe a high school one, since I have an old friend whose son is on a local varsity team.

I also plan to continue playing in pick-up softball games, as I have done for nearly twenty years, mostly for the exercise but to also keep the feeling of being involved with something that I have really liked, if not loved, for roughly four-fifths of my life.

I reckon there are many folks who would agree with me on all of these sentiments.

But to those who don’t, hopefully they will understand after reading this the appeal that baseball still has in America; even if it is less than what it was and even though football has taken over, baseball’s appeal to this country’s culture continues to exist.

And it won’t go away.

 

 

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Some action from the Dodgers’ recent Opening Day win over the San Diego Padres