First published in the July 14 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
I’m often wrong, almost comically so, yet I fear we face a sci-fi future, of Marvel movies and electronica music made for STEM grads who don’t know Lead Belly from Longfellow, whose hearts are caked in an oily digital sludge, not “the murmurs of pleasures and pains and wrongs.”
That’s Longfellow, by the way. But you knew that.
Look, far be it for me to set the future course of America’s youth. I can’t even find my bottle opener. I struggle with many of the same issues you do. I can never spot the egg in egg rolls. Like many men of a certain age, I still have complicated, unresolved feelings for Carly Simon and Lola Falana. I can’t get my printer to print.
I’m convinced sports is going to hell in a handmaid’s basket. Sure, fans have been saying that for decades; this time it’s actually true.
I don’t like these hasty Pac-12 exits, not at all, or shifting alliances of any kind — that’s how world wars begin.
And I don’t like when players jump ship. Curt Flood is considered a hero for his pioneering work on free agency. Minority position: Free agency is a disaster.
Since free agency, all teams are temporary. Even high school and college players are now jumping ship, betraying allegiances, letting down their teammates and fans with their own selfish agendas. From 5th grade up, every player is looking for a better coach, an NIL (name, image, likeness) deal, TV exposure, someplace where they are really appreciated. A place that, in most cases, doesn’t actually exist.
That’s the world we live in. And now all these horrible Marvel movies, this tinny EDM made by machinists. …
I saw that Natalie Portman is in the latest Marvel sequel, “Thor,” and I thought how excruciating that must’ve been for her, every moment, every line, for this talented and accomplished young actress. I wonder: “Did she turn to tequila to get through it? Did she consult a priest?”
Did Portman have her agent on speed dial, and every afternoon, ring him up and scream till she passed out? Did she cry to her mama — “Mama, I’m soooooo soooooo sorry! You raised me better!”
Yes, I suppose all of those.
We live in a world where money means everything, and promises are made to be broken, and movie stars are shameless sellouts, and shortstops betray their teams and fans over a contract year here, a million bucks there. Can you really blame them?
Loyalty is so overrated. Teammates are temps. Integrity is such a joke — I never cared for it much myself.
In that vein, I tried to trade my son, Smartacus, the other day. I hated to do it. He’s been a good son, a great son, really, as devoted and cheerful as any parent could ever hope. I love him so much. The other day, he even rinsed his dish.
Yet, you can’t rest on past accomplishments. As a father, I cannot just wait around on the chance Smartacus might one day make his own bed. You have to move forward, for the sake of the family and the cul-de-sac.
If you’re interested in signing my son, here’s his profile: A dreamer and a doer (Sagittarius). Bats right, throws right. Sneaks occasional beers from the fridge on weekends when he thinks I don’t notice. Once put gas in the car. Capable of washing his own clothes but usually doesn’t. Remembers people’s names at parties, tells a decent joke. Likes breakfast burritos and long walks on the beach.
Anyone? Going once, going twice. …
We hope to place him with a good family. The important thing is that he gets a fresh start.
Smartacus is looking for a better dad, an NIL deal, TV exposure, someplace where he is really appreciated. A place that might not actually exist.
He comes with a thousand Dodger T-shirts and a dog that might be a wolf. This wolf/dog is not much of a pet, to be honest. But White Fang waits up for Smartacus to come home at night, right by the front door, a hopeless romantic, a character out of Cervantes.
When White Fang hears his car, her whole body starts to quiver, tail to tongue.
That’s loyalty you can’t buy, the kind we don’t see much of anymore, a Technicolor joy.
Get it while you can.
Erskine was a columnist for the Los Angeles Times for 25 years. His work now appears here weekly. For books, hikes, gin tips and past columns, please go to ChrisErskineLA.com.