Postmodern Collage Poetry

A blog about writing collage poetry, post modern poetry, multi lingual poetry

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Poetics Baseball and the Pennant

Been spending allot of time watching baseball of late and that is because the White Sox are American League Champions.

Poetry and Baseball have always been intertwined in the US ever since Walt Whitman at least 150 years ago. But it has been the positive poetry that has colored baseball not the negative. There are so many odes and songs about good things and about all that good about America and baseball and so little about what is true.

In Field of Dreams/Shoeless Joe the JD Salinger/Terrance Mann character gives a great speech about baseball's timelessness... what I want to talk about is baseball as a mirror of what is real and existant and how that relates to my team the Chicago White Sox.

Chicago is a 19th century city even today. People think in ways that are unthinkable in Dallas or Los Angeles. People are still in labor unions in Chicago and people still ask where are you from and mean your people- not what subdivision. Chicago is also home to two teams whose personalities have remained the same for over 100 years. The White Sox were one image of Chicago and the Cubs another.

Most Chicago people do not want to face the realities of our town; the racial and ethnic bigotry, the rawness of its economics and the fact that allot of people have been and are being ground up in a machine of poverty and violence. In sunbelt cities this is covered over with freeways and stripmalls... at least until a hurricane hits... but in Chicago it is there for you to see full bore and open like sore.

But I dont want to dwell on the negative. I want to dwell on what is real. America has become an anticeptic place. People no longer go to church in a parish in a neighborhood, no they go to a mega church that looks like a shopping mall, people no longer go to the union hall they go to the strip mall and the realities of this new world is an America that is less rich and less alive than the one that gave birth to my favorite team... the White Sox.

I lived for a long time in Dallas, Texas (At least 3 years felt like a long time) and I was constantly out of sorts. The reality is that the Sunbelt, the place where our "president" feels most at home is a vapid place. Sure it is new and clean and 'nice' but it is not real and it feels artificial which is the goal I think- to make life as unreal as possible. All one has to do is look at people like Karen Hughes or Harriet Miers to realize what kind of people are created by this kind of place. The forced niceness the cleanliness the lack of a real place.

Chicago and other cities like it create different people. Can you imagine a Harvey Pekar (Cleveland's own) or Nelson Algren or Louis Farrakhan being formed in Dallas or Atlanta? Of course not because those places do not allow for difference, being a little off center is a problem in those places. Chicago and cities like it also creat anomolies that are boiled away in America of the banal.

There is the rub in our new America. The unique, the genuine the vulgar (In the latin sense of VULGARE common) is not what is prized and we continue to build our society around a world of Ikea and Costco and banality. I look at America and I ask where is the outrage and where is the uniqueness and I continue to wonder and ask why are we denuding ourselves of all that makes us unique?

Because uniqueness is not profitable.

So now back to the White Sox.

Chicago is a place where uniqueness and vulgarity are central to who we are as people. Chicago is a place where the University of Chicago and Leon's Barbeque exist-together in the same essence and Chicago is a place that acts as a window onto an America as it was- the America of unique neighborhoods and unique people struggling to survive but alive. Not the drugged banal manila America we now live in where TV preachers tell us what to think and the America where
everyone dreams of being Bill Gates but we are in reality all characters on the Jerry Springer Show.

The White Sox and their fans are not like other teams or groups of people. We are people who understand that there is more to life than malls and the vanilla scented life that our current country so prizes. As we move forward to the World Series the banal media like ESPN (Imagine Huge Fullerton or Ring Lardner on Baseball Tonight?!) looks for angles to cover and finds sharp edges that cannot be dulled.

In the end the America of my White Sox is long comotose drowned in a world of suburban sprawl and faux marble and corporate jobs where everyone is a number but poetically the White Sox ask questions of America- and as we move into a new century we ask is America better today than it was in 1905; banal, boring and numb?

I glory in the fact that America on Saturday will watch a team from the South Side of Chicago taking the field, a team filled with names that no one can pronounce, and that that team represents Chicago and an America that so many wish to forget.