America’s Pastime

Page 1 of “America’s Pastime” from the 9-11: Volume 2 collection.

We open on a bar on the night of October 27, 2001.  A Red Sox bar, specifically, based on the Boston pennant on the wall above what I believe is a framed Pedro Martinez jersey (although the jersey is #47 and Martinez wore #45, but anyway …), and the big guy in a Red Sox jacket nursing a beer and watching Game 1 of the World Series.  A moment later, his friend walks in and the big guy, Tommy, notices that his friend, Jimmy, is wearing a Yankees hat (more specifically, he asks, “Who crapped on yer head?”).  Jimmy explains that after all New York has been through, it seemed that rooting for the Yankees was the right thing to do, for both New York and for America.  Tommy reminds him that they’re from Boston and that despite what happened, they do not, under any circumstances, root for the Yankees.  He runs down the list of what their team from Boston–“The Birthplace of America” as he calls it–have been through: Buckner, Mo Vaughn leaving, Clemens pitching for New York, Yankees’ fans cockiness, Derek Jeter, and tells Jimmy, “What happened on 9/11–you can’t let if affect you that way, Jimmy, ’cause that’s what they want.  I’m tellin’ you–if you root for the #@$!! Yankees … the terrorists win.”

Jimmy thinks for a moment, puts his hat down on the bar and says “Go D-Backs.”

That’s the gist of a two-page story entitled “America’s Pastime” written by Brian Azarello and drawn by Eduardo Risso that was published in 9-11 Volume 2, a DC Comics-released collection of short pieces that were done as a reflection on the events of September 11, 2001.  Along with the first volume, which was produced and published by several “indie” comics companies, the profits of the sales of this book went to the 9/11 victims funds, and featured many pieces that were done by both minor and major comics creators and for the most part used ordinary heroes in their stories (although there were a few super-hero-related stories in the DC one).

I briefly mentioned this particular piece last year when I wrote about “This Too Shall Pass,” the Marv Wolfman-penned story that starred Raven of the New Titans, and did say that it is one of my favorite pieces in the book because Azzarello’s script gives us a little bit of levity in a volume that can often get heavy-handed.  But looking at it a little more closely this year as I reread this and other pieces, I wanted to write about it because it made me think of one of the very first posts on my very first blog (which was called “Inane Crap”).  Dated October 24, 2001, it was called “I Guess I Hate New York” and is more or less a rant that is similar to the one in Azzarello and Risso’s story, as I expressed my frustration with the idea that suddenly the Yankees were America’s team and that rooting for them to win the World Series was somehow the “right” thing to do: (more…)

This Too, Shall Pass (My Life as a Teen Titan, Part Seventeen)

The cover to “9-11 Volume 2” as published by DC Comics

I am not one for commemorative merchandise when it comes to national tragedies.  I mean, when there has been a cause to celebrate, I’ve thought it was cool to own something and at one point I did own a Liberty Coin and have my fair share of World Series and Stanley Cup merchandise from 1986 and 1994.  But the thought of buying a coin made from “real World Trade Center silver” or a coffee table book about the Twin Towers always made me uneasy.  It not only seems a little underhanded to create and sell such products, but it makes me wonder if it cheapens the memories I have of that Tuesday from a decade ago.

Shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001, artists and writers throughout the comics industry began creating and what came out of that effort were a few publications that were printed mostly to help the September 11 relief fund.  Marvel’s most notable effort was The Amazing Spider-Man (vol. 2) #36, which was literally an interruption of the current storyline for an issue where Spidey and the heroes of the Marvel Universe react to the destruction in New York.  This issue is reprinted in the “Revelations” trade, which is the second volume of J. Michael Straczynski’s run on the character and for what it’s worth is a solid story that doesn’t denigrate those who actually did sacrifice themselves that day. (more…)

The tale of a continuing voyage on the sea of no cares

Love stories are hard to tell.

Oh sure, I can point to an endless number of works of literature, film, and song that suggest otherwise, but for the most part they’re either complete garbage or don’t tell the whole story.  Or perhaps they attempt to tell the whole story but they’re just way too broad, so they skip over a lot of the details.

Then again, isn’t pre-packaged love with a nice soundtrack what we have all been conditioned to look for, anyway?  It’s certainly less complicated than being in a relationship or being married, and our modern world certainly allows ourselves to encapsulate first glance to last kiss in a narrative.  I certainly am guilty of polluting my girlfriends’ lives with mix tapes that were sometimes so awful that I am shocked that I wasn’t broken up with after the first listen.  But for as much as my musical taste has been questionable throughout my life, I know that at least a few time I found a gem among what Sir Paul once called “silly love songs.”  In fact, it’s happened several times, including when I first heard Great Big Sea perform “Sea of No Cares.”

Great Big Sea is a band I stumbled upon in the summer of 1999 when Amanda and I were house-sitting for a friend.   While we spent a good amount of time exploring the greater Arlington/Alexandria area and seeing every movie that was in theaters at the time, I spent much of my days hanging out while she went to the internship she’d started after graduation.  Most of that time, I was working on a novel and the various 1980s mixes in my car were wearing thin, so I went diving into her friend’s CD collection and found Rant and Roar.  I’d heard of the band because I’d seen a video or two on MuchMusic, but wasn’t that familiar with them.

They didn’t need to do much to make me a fan, to be honest.  The band was from Newfoundland, which is where my grandmother hailed from, and they had a boisterous sound that was what I was looking for after spending most of the last four years trapped in my roommates’ Grateful Dead/Phish/Jimmy Buffett death spiral.  A year or so later, they played the Birchmere is Alexandria to support Turn.  It was a great gig and I knew I wanted to see them again, so when my sister heard that they were playing the Maritime Festival in West Sayville on July 13, 2001, I was on the phone the minute tickets went on sale.  I mean, when you come from a town that’s as obscure as mine, you definitely jump at the chance to see one of your favorite bands play there.

So we went, and in the hot July afternoon right next to the Great South Bay, the band started with “Donkey Riding,” which had become somewhat of a staple as far as opening numbers were concerned.  The next couple of songs were from a few albums back and then, the band decided to play “Sea of No Cares,” which was going to be the title track to the new album.  Amanda was standing next to me and humored me by letting me hold her even though by that point we were both sweaty and gross, and Alan Doyle began: “When you’re in love, there’s no time and no space/There’s a permanent smile on your face/Your friends all complain that you’re goin’ insane/But the truth is they’re just afraid/Hey, hey, hey somewhere/You threw your fear in the sea of no cares …”

Almost immediately, I found myself struck by the lyrics, as if they were some sort of revelation.  Or, at least, I flashed back to an earlier point in our relationship where those first few lyrics rang true.