Chester Bennington

I dreamt about the Beatles last night. I woke up with Rocky Raccoon playing in my head and a concerned look my wife’s face. She told me my friend had just passed away. Thoughts of you flooded my mind and I wept. I’m still weeping, with sadness, as well as gratitude for having shared some very special moments with you and your beautiful family. You have inspired me in many ways you could never have known. Your talent was pure and unrivalled. your voice was joy and pain, anger and forgiveness, love and heartache all wrapped up into one. I suppose that’s what we all are. You helped me understand that. I just watched a video oof you singing “A Day In The Life” by the Beatles and thought of my dream. I’d like to think you were saying goodbye in your own way. I can’t imagine a world without you in it. I pray you find peace in the next life. I send my love to your wife and children, friends and family.

–Chester Bennington’s note after Chris Cornell’s death

The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about the people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window, i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.

-Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace

RIP Chester Bennington, on what would have been Chris Cornell’s 53 birthday.

Slices of Life – Sparky Anderson

The thing about Sparky Anderson is that he was so deliberately low key that it’s difficult today to grasp his true legacy.

And that is extremely unfair because he deserves so much better…

But here’s the thing.

When Sparky Anderson came in back in 1979, I was 13. And a sports fanatic.

And not just the Tigers, but every Detroit Pro franchise, lost.

Every year.

If the Lions reached .500 that was about as much as you could hope for as a Detroit fan.

In any sport.

The Wolverines won, everyone else lost.

That was reality for a decade, or in other words my sports life till that time.

Then Sparky showed up.

It honestly seemed futile when he was hired, not because there wasn’t any talent, but the Tigers just didn’t win. Nor did any other Detroit sports team.

But then suddenly they started to.

You tend to point back to the players; but the reality is the Tigers had plenty of good players throughout the 70’s, but that didn’t mean wins.

Without checking, and having forcibly removed sports from my brain for the past decade; Mark Fidrych went 19-9 on a 71-91 team in 1976. (I’ll check myself on that after I post this).

But low and behold, Sparky Anderson did turn the Tigers around.

He launched a rebirth of professional sports in Detroit; and did so with absolute class and grace. To have Ernie Harwell as an announcer and Sparky Anderson as a coach was almost a gift from God to the city of Detroit and State of Michigan; it didn’t really help Detroit much but I sure stayed tuned in much longer in life than my otherwise waning interest in Baseball would have warranted because of the product they put in front of all of us every day.

Remember Anderson telling Kirk Gibson, “he doesn’t want to pitch to you”; and then Gibson showing just how smart Sparky was by ending the series with his right field blast?

Sparky won when he was capable of getting the win. When he didn’t have talent, he was just an ambassador to the game in defeat.

Detroit had a legendary coach once. His name was Sparky Anderson.

Rest in Peace.

Slices of Life – Ernie Harwell

I suppose I could have looked for one of the memorable Tiger moments to commemorate the passing of Ernie Harwell tonight; but growing up as a Tigers fan in the 70’s it wasn’t so much about having awe-inspiring, wonderful moments that Ernie Harwell narrated.

Ernie Harwell was a part of my life, for 6 months out of the year, every single night. We don’t remember our childhood friends so much for the momentous occasions, sometimes it’s just the little things that stand out.

For me, Ernie Harwell was like a friend, someone who helped the world go ’round every day for a young kid who loved Baseball, each season was a story told in small doses every night, and it was Ernie Harwell that told the story.

It was a different time; you didn’t have new people show up in the booth every couple of years, and Ernie Harwell was the Tigers announcer for my entire childhood. Baseball was a part of childhood whether the Tigers were good or awful and listening to it on the radio was how it was done.  There wasn’t portable media, there weren’t portable games or TV or movies or internet; there was only portable radio.

Baseball was spring, when Ernie Harwell made his appearance in my life each year it was time to go outside again; to enjoy the adventures of youth at whatever friend’s house playing baseball, or riding a bike in the woods; or going to Little League practice. Every night, Ernie Harwell was there too. He went wherever I did.

It’s one of those hidden, magical parts of life that you can never quite put a finger on; the way maybe that Walter Cronkite was just there in the 60’s to do the news; Baseball was a world, it was part of what made life good for a kid, and Ernie Harwell was the voice that created that world, every night.

There may have been more exciting announcers, being fortunate enough to grow up in Michigan I was also privileged enough to listen to Bob Ufer do University of Michigan broadcasts in the fall; but there is no one on earth I would have picked to listen to every single night growing up, before Ernie Harwell.

He was a blessing in a young life, and I’m sure many others know exactly how I feel tonight. There was a time when your Baseball announcer was always part of your life in a very meaningful way; Ernie Harwell was my Baseball announcer.

Rest in Peace