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Barry Crimmins

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The Alps of Moolah Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Alps of Moolah
I think it was either Tom Landry or George Harrison who said "sooner or later you gotta pass." And he was right.

Just this morning I drove past a convenience store that used to sell $4.23 per gallon gas. Those were the days! That was back when a cross-addicted foreign oil and domestic tobacco junkie could pay that bargain price for petrol and snag a pack of smokes for a cool $5.50 -- all at the same handy location! Yes, it wasn't so long ago that global warming, cancer, emphysema and heart disease were much more accessible to the masses.

Up the street, two closed mills mirror one another, their empty confines supplying the perfect sound chambers for echoing the times when there used to be somewhere to go and work yourself to death. Now the path to cemetery is paved with only worries. Back in the working days, if folks didn't fall ill from the toxicity of their place of toil, they got sick from over-self-medicating the agony they felt as their lives were consumed as cogs in a great machine that dangled retirement benefits and a pension at the end of an endless working life. These promises forced corporations to go to the expense of restructuring to avoid subsidization of deadbeats who never did anything with their lives but work until they were no longer valuable to an enterprise that spit them out and forgot about them as soon as they stopped sweating black ink on the bottom line.

That's just the way things are in the conscience-free market. A place that is heartless, ersatzedly efficient and shortsighted. When will fuel costs make it less feasible to outsource all manufacturing? As my friend A. Whitney Brown asks, "How long before it's not cost efficient to produce a book of matches in China for use in the USA?" Have we thrown out our workers too soon? Have we let our mills crumble before their time? The soulless and brainless market doesn't care-- it thinks with its grubby little hands, hands that grab as much as they can, for as little as possible, so as to seem obscenely profitable enough to make their business scheme tantalizing to those whose only job is to sit upon Alps of moolah stolen from the working stiffs. There are no bonds of honor when all that matters is instant profitability. If the baby can be replaced as cheaply as the bath water, both are soon circling the drain.
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Not even baseball stadiums are safe from the inexorably voracious greed machine. The venerable cathedrals where millions have worshiped, believed and found distraction and solace from shitty working lives are disappearing one by one. They are replaced by parks with more space for greedheads to confab and fewer seats for the working schlubs who made the game so enormously profitable in the first place.

The first replacement parks came before luxury boxes back in the 70's. They were awful, cookie cutter, 'all-purpose' affairs, like Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsbugh. These arenas were always round so if you looked straight ahead from about 90% the seats, you viewed anything but a baseball game. Before people began straining their necks to follow the action in these xeroxed monstrosities, chiropractors were about as common as blacksmiths. It was easy work to convince fans to dispose of these calamities, particularly since they had replaced intimate and beloved older facilities. There have been, however, some genuine throwbacks that lasted well into the recent past such as the White Sox' Comiskey Park in Chicago (replaced by US Cellular Field  where the front row of the upper deck is further from the action than the back row of the uppermost reaches of its predecessor) and Tiger Stadium in Detroit, (getting consumed by a giant wrecking machine best described as the jaws of death this very week, while the Bengals play a mile away in Comerica Park, full of luxury suites for the geniuses who brought paramilitary vehicles to the civilian market)

Along with the Cubs' Wrigley Field in Chicago, and the Red Sox' Fenway Park in Boston, these were the last of the stadiums that contained the footprints of Matthewson, Wagner, Cobb, Foxx, Greenberg, Williams, Spahn, Robinson, Mays, Banks, Aaron, Clemente and well, you get the idea.

But wait, there is a rather noticeable gap in that list. It contains no Yankees. Well you see Yankees belong in Yankee Stadium, the shiniest diamond of all. Built by Ruth, consecrated by Gehrig and brought to everlasting honor by Dickey, DiMaggio, Ford, Berra, Howard, Mantle, Maris, Munson, Mattingly, Guidry, Gossage, Jackson, Jeter, Rivera and hundreds more, Yankee Stadium is still with us for another 35 or so games before it becomes The House That Steinbrenner Knocked Down. But never fear, it will be replaced by a new Yankee Stadium with 8,000 fewer seats for suckers like me. leaving plenty of room for the Wall Street fucks who ruined this country to sit in air-conditioned splendor as they soak up status while ignoring the game.
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As I try to follow my team  this season I'm reminded again and again that Yankee Stadium is wonderfully and irreplaceably splendid. What's annoying is the very assholes who are leveling a place that I love as dearly as childhood and faith and hope and dreams-come-true, are doing the reminding. It's like a lynch-mob throwing a big banquet for itself while claiming it's a very special last meal for the condemned. Well forgive me my insolence but I'm on a hunger strike. I watch the games with the sound off so that I am only reminded of the doomed status of the incredible landmark when they swoosh a million promos about its final days across the screen. Thanks for the reminders -- they must think I'm one of those luxury box shitbags who doesn't mind being distracted from the game because I'm already busy ignoring it.
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As coincidence has it, I will be attending one last game in the Bronx next week. This is neither my idea nor wish, I'm simply accompanying someone who got tickets last winter to visit the grand park to say goodbye. I will watch the baseball and ignore the overpriced memorabilia and insulting hype. Screw coincidence,  here's some out and out synchronicity for you. Just now, the phone rang.  It was a wrong number. The caller was looking for, I swear, "Carl Jung, who has applied for a home equity loan."

 I said, "Sorry, nobody but us collectively unconscious Yankee fans here." Just then it began thundering very loudly on a sunny day, perfect for a ballgame. I will leave it at that and let the baseball gods have the final word on this issue.
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updated: 10 years ago