|The least-known city park in Morris: Thedin Park, west Morris (B.W. photo)|
Baseball fans can already, in March, see those pre-season games on TV and wonder what it's like living in those sun-drenched places in the South.
I was a typical fanatical Twins fan in my childhood. The interest held over into adulthood to a degree. It waned back around 1980 when the Twins ceased to create a lot of special excitement. It waned for my whole generation, then it stabilized and began picking up steam again with the Metrodome, the grand novelty with playing baseball indoors.
Those sports executives know what they're doing: People really do get tired of a sports venue and begin expecting a new one. It has to happen about every 30 years. We have now what appears to be an absolutely state of the art ballpark in Target Field. It's hard to imagine the day coming when our team owner pleads about having to replace it.
The Vikings stadium would appear to be the epitome also. It makes we wonder if the team's ownership is whistling past the graveyard: We have this huge and opulent new football stadium in a time where there is the very real possibility that the public will begin turning en masse against football. The health issues of football are making all of us take a long, serious look.
Your typical catcher in major league baseball is susceptible to a concussion every time he takes a foul tip to the mask. Doesn't Joe Mauer seem permanently impaired because of this? No one gave a thought to any of this when I was a kid.
Every spring, it seems, I make a resolution to try to pay a little more attention to the Twins. I try to follow the schedule and tune in a little more often. I reason that it can't be any worse than all the alternatives on cable TV. Right now the cable news channels are way too devoted to covering the presidential campaigns. Problem is, it all has a reality TV look about it. In other words it's all about conflict rather than a healthy clash of ideas (with a tone of civility). Ted Cruz doesn't "disagree" with people, he demonizes them.
Cable TV rewards the most extreme candidates, the candidates with the most provocative rhetoric. Is this less healthy than in an earlier time? It's hard saying yes to that, since when I was a kid, the political climate was such that the U.S. committed itself militarily to Viet Nam, and then escalated that conflict. Maybe the media environment of today would have prevented such a direction.
Donald Trump is described as dangerous, but the financial markets have not been affected. Three mornings out of every four when I awake, I expect to see the S&P Futures pointing up. I have begun to wonder if it's a function of the TV set. One after another these stock market analysts, people like Carl Icahn, say a substantial downward movement is coming for stocks, and it never happens. The downturns are brief, then those "red arrows" pop up again. I have found this to be uncanny.
Right now there is a meme that everyone hates Wall Street or is suspicious of Wall Street. Why? We have had a seven-year bull market. What do you want?
The stock market was stagnant in my youth. It seemed a foreboding place, a place populated by those distant, upper-crust rich guys. I never dreamt that the stock market would be a place for everyone as with 401Ks. Aren't you all a little worried about what might happen? Carl Icahn is no dummy. I also never dreamt in earlier years that banks would be paying almost no interest on savings. What hath God wrought?
Who needs the "farm section?"
Spring is the time when we in Stevens County see, if we're interested, the annual "farm section" that comes with the Morris newspaper. Many people have complimentary copies of the Morris Sun Tribune mailed to them.
The paper trumpets this section by proclaiming on its front page that the issue is "free." I had to laugh because the paper is not literally free at all - I'm sure you'd have to pay for a copy at Willie's Super Valu. But if you did grab a copy and walked out without paying, you'd have such an easy defense: "Hey, there's a headline on the front saying the paper is free!"
There is one word to describe the Morris newspaper's farm section: "anachronism." Why does the paper throw this extra pulp at us? It's tradition, knaves. Here's the idea: If you are in agri-business and are looking for info on any aspect of your business, you can go to this thing called "Google," 24/7, 365 days a year, and find anything you need. You don't need to wait for some stupid, once-a-year "special section" to the Morris Sun Tribune.
So, why do businesses keep advertising? You fools, you know how the ad salesperson begins his/her pitch. "This is what you bought last year." The onus is thus on you to buy a similar ad this year. You do this in brain-dead fashion. Knock it off. Just say "don't call us, we'll call you" to that infernal Morris newspaper, which charges people even for obits.
It reminds me of an old manager of the main street restaurant from the Floyd days: "How do you expect us to make any money?" She'd say that if you complained about he small size of the pancakes. "How do you expect us to make any money?" Floyd's tenure was interesting in that the restaurant was open all night. A lot of college students filtered in, and there was some hand-wringing, naturally, about them not spending enough money. I rather enjoyed being around those kids. Those were also the days of the "bar rush" on Friday and Saturday nights. It was a shameful part of our past.
Today if that restaurant (now called DeToy's) has any sort of reputation, it's of attracting a nearly all-male clientele in the early-morning, guys (good old boys?) who pull in in their 4-wheel drive pickups, many of them intending to play cards, and they overwhelmingly favor Donald Trump for president. I was teasing a waitress about that recently.
Tinted windows: unfair advantage
I have recently seen a couple of vehicles in Morris with tinted windshields. I know there's a point at which you're in violation of the law with this. I'm guessing you wouldn't survive long in this town driving around with illegally tinted windshields - the cops would get you - so I'm assuming the vehicles I saw were legal.
Here's my reaction: It is unfair, since these motorists with the tint have zero chance of ever being spotted for not wearing seat belts. It is an unreasonable advantage they have.
Cemetery: I'm still waiting for clarification
Since it's spring we might think of going out to the cemetery. I still don't know what the policy is for parking out there. I emailed Bob Stevenson several months ago and got no answer from him. I don't know what that means. I haven't tried to take my mother out to her husband's grave since last July 4. Until I get an answer, I'm not going out there.
It looks like cemeteries are headed toward being obsolete. The percentage of people preferring cremation is steadily shooting up. If we had no cemetery in Morris, maybe UMM could have expanded to the west. Maybe the soccer fields could have been established on the old school property.
Fan mail from some flounder, again?
Monday was one of those days when I got re-connected with an old college friend thanks to the Internet. An email came out of the blue at me. My old sidekick and I will communicate from time to time. We were friends during the Jimmy Carter years of the 1970s. Disco lives!
Both of us could have spent our time better than being in college. If you attended a state college in the early and mid-'70s, you certainly know there were many students there who, shall we say, did not have their priorities focused in the best way. It's water under the bridge now, or under the overpass or over the underpass. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die, n'est-ce pas?
I remember an editorial cartoon that had Ken Starr, harasser of Bill Clinton, listening through a door as Clinton spoke affectionately in a way that made Starr think another tryst was happening. "Bunny!" Clinton intoned. But this was no young friend, rather it was Bill's chocolate bunny for Easter! Willie's Super Valu has a good supply of chocolate bunnies available, I'm sure.
Of course, when we go to church leading up to Easter, the tone is not so innocent and fun. We hear the awful details of how Christ was treated leading up to the (alleged) crucifixion. How do we know this wasn't some tall tale built up through the years, maybe fashioned to promote some political ends? What? Politics as a basis for embellishment or fabrication? I'm astounded (not really).
The sheer misery and gruesome details begin chafing on me. Does it matter that Christ was tortured first? Why the emphasis on this in Lent services? Even if it happened, why the emphasis? Why not just dwell on the final (alleged) act: the murder of God's (alleged) son. Did you know that the story of the virgin birth came about because of a bad translation?
I know I'm sounding like an atheist and maybe that's because I am. I sure wouldn't mind a chocolate bunny or two, though.
I am puzzled why the Lutherans of this community are expected to go to the Catholic church for the Good Friday service. This is a church that has a policy of not offering communion to non-Catholics at funerals. At least this was their policy in the past. There was a controversy at the time of the funeral for Rit Eul: someone was turned away for communion. There were letters to the editor in the paper. I'm sure Rit would never have wanted any unpleasantness in connection with his funeral.
And now, the Catholics want us all to come over? I think it's strange.
The Catholics can have their own services, since they promote such exclusivity. I have no objection to Catholic bingo. We had a priest here not that long ago who was into child porn. The Catholics have also given us that "baby" tombstone at the cemetery - not the sort of thing Lutherans would agree to.
Again, let's all just enjoy our chocolate bunnies!
Mark Torgerson got the appointment at a time when our community was embroiled in politics. A sociologist should have come here, camped out and written a book. I could try to write one myself. But as they say, it's all just water under the bridge. Or, is it "under the overpass," or "over the underpass," as Del Sarlette and yours truly used to joke.
The school district was the vortex for a lot of unpleasant stuff in the late 1980s. We had a new superintendent who wanted to appoint Chris Baxter as our BBB coach. I could see the wisdom behind the super's thinking: I think he saw it as healthy for an outsider with his own clear philosophy to come and and take over a program - a person with more of an AAU type of philosophy than what we had.
Our school district was being hurt in the eyes of the wider area, by having extracurricular programs not tailored in the properly ambitious way. To quote one friend of mine, we had programs that were little different from phy. ed class. Which is maybe wholesome enough, but we had to respect the kind of sports model that predominated, one which, like it or not, puts a premium on wins. Sports would be like a model for life in that regard.
A formal protest against the status quo grew in Morris. When our boys basketball coach departed, there was a vacuum that could be filled in either of two ways: the entrenched good old boys getting their way, or a fresh new outsider with a philosophy more in line with the prevailing standards.
Our new superintendent, presented to the public in a ballyhooed way, was forced into being a toady, in some respects, and our coach of today got the job, many, many years ago.
The old issues don't seem relevant now. In my opinion there were years when we could have done better, including this past season, or should I say post-season. Our BBB team can never be counted on to deliver pleasant surprises in the post-season, and I think that's sad. The situation is about the same for our girls program. The programs are treading water.
I know, not everyone can win. But it should be your goal to win and to be a special program like New London-Spicer.
I don't know if we already have a good candidate in the system to replace our boys coach if he should resign. I'm just getting old and tired.
I suffered miserably because of my known opinion of supporting Baxter. I was made into an absolute pariah in some quarters. It affected my ability to be a positive journalistic contributor for this community. I would argue it even forced the newspaper to hire a new editor, a very heavy-smoking person who spewed tremendous amounts of secondhand smoke into the air at the Sun Tribune shop.
I spent years as a pariah and I want to implore you all that I really am a good person. Maybe only God and I know that.