Thursday, September 01, 2005

Other people’s words; mostly about money

So what r u saying? it is ok to cheat if everyone else does it? Or that it is ok as long as u don't get caught? Or it is ok to cheat but when you do get caught all you have to do is come clean and then everything is OK?

Baseball (and all other sports for that matter) are not sports anymore. It is only about business and greed. U and I used to go to baseball games because the game was fun and we could, most of the time, afford to go. But this year, by the time labor days comes around I will have been to all of 3 giants games (I did not have to pay for any of the tix) and 3 A's games. 2 of them were $2 tix and the other was a freebie. And this was all I could do because I just cannot really afford to go any other way. And since the giants moved into their new park there aren’t even any more discount ticket plans like we used to have. Now, either you buy season tix or you just don't get to go. The A's have $2 Wednesdays, family plans and partial season tix so this is cool. But because the Giants will be hosting the all star game in 2007, the only way to get tix is to be a season tix holder in 2005, 06 and 07! why? Because some fucking owner thought it would be good idea to give good players lots of money. And then the average players said they wanted to get some of this ‘start’ money too and so they cheated and took drugs so that they could become a star player. And then of course the star players then cheated to become superstar players and they lie to us even under oath (see Palmero). great fucking example for our kids teaching them that it is not about whether u win or lose or even how you play the game but rather that it is all about being on sports center every night and getting the money. Obviously they don't care about the game. All they care about is looking good. It will be interesting in the next 10 yrs or so to see how many of today's ball players die either by there own hand (guilt) or because of medical problems from the 'roids. You talked about wresting and Hollywood? They are both fake but at least in Hollywood if they die on camera they usually are still alive in real life.
Those who play, pay.


That letter was my friend Bill’s response to my blog about Barry Bonds last week. I told him I would print it and he said that would be cool.

This argument has been going on between us for a while now. It started with my demanding that everything was about money these days and that I actually didn’t give a damn whether or not baseball players used performance enhancing drugs and that the reason fir their doing so was money. Now Bill did not like this argument because it went against his sensibilities as a father because he is trying to instill in his kids some sense of morality, honesty and a decent work ethic. I on the other hand am living in Belarus and all of these great ideas, though I tried to live by them myself for the whole of my adult life before Belarus, are too expensive these days for me or for anyone else who lives here apparently, hence my jaundiced attitude towards the subject.

However, I had a conversation with a fellow traveler up at the Old Town Youth hostel in Vilnius on Monday that has me rethinking my position. I forget the guy’s name but he was some sort of French guy (though he spoke English with an Australian accent and also had a Czech passport through his family) and he, like most French people seemed almost gleeful to be able to reduce the whole of everything down to francs. Or Euro’s or whatever passes for currency there these days.

Now before I start getting hate mail in French, I want to say that I am not trying to be racist or a Francophile; I have been to France, I speak some French and I like and admire French culture, philosophy and politics. I am only seconding Hemingway on this:

The waiter seemed a little offended about the flowers of the Pyrenees, so I over tipped him. This made him happy. It felt comfortable to be in a country where it was so easy o make people happy. You can never tell whether a Spanish waiter with thank you. Everything is on such a clear financial basis in France. It is the simplest country to live in. No one makes things complicated by being your friend for some obscure reason. If you want people to like you you only have to spend a little money. I spent a little money and the waiter liked me. He appreciated my valuable qualities. He would be glad to see me back. I would dine there again some time and he would be glad to see me, and would want me at this table. It would be a sincere liking because it would have a sound basis. I was back in France.

From the final chapter of Fiesta

And so even though I had been goading Bill about this very subject for weeks, when this gleefully obnoxious French guy at the hostel said it, it sounded absolutely awful to my ears. And it is awful isn’t it? Ok, so they fluids and minerals of the body can be bought and sold for about $15, is that really all we are? And even if the answer to that question is yes (discounting life insurance of course), what about the other side of the coin? It is awful to be poor, to not have enough. It is simply terrible to try and do the things you need to do to get by and simply not have enough. But on the other hand, when you are poor and don’t have enough, exactly how much of that oh-so-expensive pride and dignity does one have to swallow or sell before there simply isn’t anything left inside? Shakespeare wrote that a woman’s love was as boundless as the sea; the more that she gives, the more she has to give. But does this also apply to character and honesty? I am definitely sure that it does not. And in fact, I would think that one’s word is actually as fragile as crystal and as easily broken. Honesty should be cherished and preserved the way these sorts of delicate and valuable things are. Or then again, perhaps like fine crystal, the soul can only exist in the sorts of homes that can afford them in the first place.

But then I got a letter from another friend. He is an American and his wife is Belarusian and he wrote me that there has begun to be tension in his house lately and that he is becoming short of patience with her. I wrote him back a couple of letters from the standpoint of one who also cohabitates with a Pinchanka, preaching poise and discipline and calm- just like Lukashenka does by the way every night on TV. He liked the letter. But then I talked about what he had said with some of the folks up in the village and an amazingly super-smart and wonderful grandma summed up and solved the problem in one sentence: Is there enough money?

Well that was easy enough to fathom. Belarusians have lived through amazing times in terms of economic stability and instability. There was a time, during the year of the USSR when everyone was employed and everyone made the same money so there was not any of that “Can he take care of me” sort of rationalizing that went along with mating and courtship rituals. Generally. I mean, this is not a statement that is made from gold, but people were definitely easier on each other as far as these things went. But they have also lived through times of the post Soviet, Lukashenka world when there were no men who could cut the mustard and put bread on the table becaue there was no money n the country period. And this went on for years. Don’t you think that this sort of massive socio/economic phenomena wouldn’t have a huge effect on the psychology of the country? So yea, it was the money. This is what he wrote back to me about that:

You know, I really understand. I do like that you and I think alike, very often. The good news is that money was a small part of the problem, it only added stress. We are probably uncommonly not worried about money. Yes we do, but we realize that we've always been worse off than we are now. The thing that makes money hard to deal with for me is how much $100 can do in BY and how little it does here.
Plus, with what is happening in New Orleans and the price of gas over $3 a gallon, shit! I'm actually starting to have REAL concerns over the structure of the USA. As you know we are too spread out. Naturally my concern is that everything will change because people will not be able to afford to drive, deliver and afford what was normal. This probably won't be a huge thing, but if we had some sort of mass transit, I'd feel better.
See what I'm saying?

Yes I do.

And I worry about social structures all of the time. And about economics. In fact, I actually do not remember a day, not even one single day since this Being Had business of mine started where I haven’t been worrying to death about money.

But you know what I am really thinking about right now? I am thinking that ‘roids or not, Barry Bonds made $18,000,000 this year, not counting endorsements, not to play ball. And I am thinking that that number is probably equal to a day’s wage for the entire work force of the country I am sitting in. And I like baseball. I check out the stats on yahoo. I see that Clemens is going to win another Cy Young even with having lost six (!) 1-0 games this year. I have got a picture of Dave Kingman on my desk top. But if I have to think of how much it would cost to take Tanya and Egor and Anya to a game, and not just sitting there but enjoyng it all the way we used to in the old days with a couple of dogs (Well, veggie dogs), cokes, peanuts and beer, I am thinking it would be about a complete month's money to do it. And not just our savings for a month, but all of our money from that time. And when you start thinking of these sorts of values, it sort of changes the baseball. And for that matter, life in general. Can you see what I mean?

Anyway, I got one more letter from my friend Shmuli and I thought that I might print his letter here too if for no other reason than to point out that in fact there does seem to at least a few people out there who are… well, for lack of a better word, still trying to stay on the character, trust and honesty side of things… (And check out those stats!!)

Hi Adam,
How r u doing? from the blog it sounds like things are rough...... Anyways
yep....i did the rabbi-iing or what ever u call it.... i ran the services the torah ....conducted the prayers and gave a speech....not bad i'm back at the yeshivah-college for another year.....
Oh, and my friend who i am spending my break here in Burbank with has a blog and has photos of us.....check it out

Anyway, that's all for today. And if you will excuse me, I really have to be getting back to work.

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More soon…