Volume 3, Issue 22: Forget the Flowers

"I left you behind, I know it's been a long time. But I'm not over you."

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Here are 50 things that I miss:

  1. Walking my kids to school and into class. Eventually they’re going to be too old to want their father to be with them all the way into the building, but being able go into school, and be silly with all the kids in the hall, and gab with the teacher before the bell rings … it was the platonic ideal way to start a day.

  2. Doing a truly excellent job of dressing for them for school.

  3. Being Dashman at the annual Barrow Dash race at the school here in Athens. I think being a masked, caped character whose only motivation in life is to get little children to run faster than him is the role I was born to play.

  4. Knowing that if a baseball game is on the schedule, unless it rains, it will remain on the schedule.

  5. Drinking several beers at a sporting event with a friend and just talking for three hours about things that both do and do not matter.

  6. Watching and enjoying a sporting event without a vague sense that I might be doing something wrong.

  7. Watching and enjoying a sporting event without worrying that the sport I’m watching will be shut down any second.

  8. My children seeing other children.

  9. Baseball practice.

  10. Sushi. (There is no good sushi in Athens.)

  11. The assurance that the worst collective experience I would live through was being in New York City on September 11.

  12. The hope that the people in charge of the well-being of me and my loved ones care in the slightest that they are in charge of the well-being of me and my well-beings.

  13. My persistent, and now clearly wrong, belief that you can persuade people the right course of action using facts, logic, science and appeals to the well-being of themselves and the people they love. Or even just appeals to their love of college football.

  14. Not being afraid that someone walking toward you that you do not know might be carrying a deadly disease they could give to you that exact second.

  15. Not being scary to someone you are walking toward that you do not know who thinks you might be carrying a deadly disease they could give to you that exact second.

  16. My parents getting to travel, to see old friends, to meet new people, to enjoy the retirement they worked so hard for.

  17. Not worrying about my parents as much as I worry about my children.

  18. Not doomscrolling.

  19. Watching a movie on the big screen, in a crowded movie theater full of rapt, attentive human beings, as absorbed by a great film in the exact same way, at the exact same moment, as you are.

  20. Watching a terrible movie on the big screen, honestly.

  21. How much my kids loved riding in elevators.

  22. That uniquely 40-year-old-person sensation of enjoying a great band play a terrific show while still knowing that you have an early day tomorrow so it’s OK if this is their last encore.

  23. Not worrying whether the freaking post office is going to go away.

  24. John Prine.

  25. Adam Schlesinger.

  26. 155,000 other people who were here.

  27. The unknown number more we’ll lose for no goddamned reason at all.

  28. The front page of the paper not having terrifying headline after terrifying headline like this:

  29. That last photo in your phone from the Before Time not feeling like one of those old-timey throwback pictures you could get taken at amusements parks.

  30. Buffets. (What do you want from me, I’m Midwestern.)

  31. My friends. I love my family. But I miss my friends.

  32. Wearing nice clothes. I’ve worked out of home for 15 years and therefore have always overdressed for social occasions in the outside world. Now I’m just in running clothes all the time, a slob like everybody else.

  33. The first thought I have upon meeting a stranger not being “that dude’s not wearing a mask, what a jerk.”

  34. Being confused why someone wearing a mask over their mouth but not their nose would think they are wearing any sort of mask at all.

  35. Not feeling like I am instinctively and instantly shaming people, all the time.

  36. Not feeling like I am instinctively and instantly being shamed, all the time.

  37. Not knowing who the type of people are who would say something like , “you know, this is all going to just miraculously go away after the election” are and being forced to now have that knowledge about them the rest of my life.

  38. Coughing for a second and not worrying that I just set a timer on a bomb.

  39. Not having to care about NASCAR, honestly.

  40. Being stuck in a long conversation with someone who isn’t interesting and doesn’t much care about you either but is at least another human being who is not one of the people who live in your house.

  41. Successfully monitoring the children’s screen time.

  42. College basketball games. Though Ayo Dosunmu sure is making me dream on next year, if there is a next year.

  43. Not having to say things like “If there is a next year.”

  44. Oh, R.I.P. Lou Henson, while I’m thinking about it.

  45. Not having the legitimate panic, if this turns the wrong way in November, about what the holy hell you’re going to do.

  46. All the things you learn that you don’t like about your house when you’ve been inside it for way, way too long.

  47. The decision not to send your kid to a specific summer camp not being turning out to be a life and death one.

  48. Not having every single one of these newsletters be in some way about … [all this].

  49. The blissful ignorance of not quite realizing just how fragile everything was.

  50. Not having to fight to have hope that we can put it all back together.

I’m still fighting, though, and I hope you still are too. I miss so much from the Before Time. But I’m not giving up on goodness coming out of this … and I’m not giving up on us doing the right thing now either. They can keep my kids out of school, they can take away my baseball, they can do everything they can to tear this place apart … but I am still convinced that we will all not go down so easily. I think all we’ve missed can return. And that we will be stronger when it does.

Here is a numerical breakdown of all the things I wrote this week, in order of what I believe to be their quality.

  1. The Best Way to Experience Baseball Right Now Is Through the Radio, MLB.com. I cannot recommend the experience of sitting outside with a cold beverage and casually listening to a baseball game highly enough. It is the closest I have come to “normal” through this as anything I can find.

  2. This Is What It’s Like to Watch a Baseball Game in Person in the Middle of a Pandemic, New York. This is the experience I previewed in last week’s newsletter.

  3. The Thirty: Thirty Teams, Thirty First Impressions, MLB.com. If you’re able to mentally disconnect enough right now to talk about baseball, this was a good primer to what you missed the first weekend.

  4. This Day in Genre History: Waterworld. This movie is so weird.

  5. The Oral History of The Swan, Medium. So a few weeks ago, some guy asked me if he could pay me to write an oral history of his fantasy baseball team. I was deeply honored. I knew I’d be terrible at it, so I assigned it to my friend Joe DeLessio and wrote the foreword instead, with my payment going to charity. Joe did a terrific job. Men are weird.

  6. Silly Baseball Stats, MLB.com. Projections are fun.

PODCASTS

Grierson & Leitch, we had forgotten how great The Host is. Also, The Rental and Yes God Yes. Also: We are taking questions for a mailbag show this week. griersonleitch@gmail.com, send ‘em.

Waitin' Since Last Saturday, no show this week, taping next week.

LONG STORY YOU SHOULD READ THIS MORNING … OF THE WEEK

“When the President Shows You an Old Man Shouting ‘White Power,’” Sam Anderson, The New York Times Magazine. You should read everything Sam Anderson writes, and while you’re here, read his book, “Boom Town.”

ARBITRARY THINGS RANKED, WITHOUT COMMENT, FOR NO PARTICULAR REASON

Original, Non-Cover Studio Albums From Bob Dylan Since 1997.

1. Time Out of Mind
2. Love & Theft
3. Rough and Rowdy Ways
4. Modern Times
5. Tempest
6. Together Through Life

ONGOING LETTER-WRITING PROJECT!

The week of travel/roof falling in/end of democracy left me a bit behind this week. Back at it this week.

Will Leitch
P.O. Box 48
Athens GA 30603

CURRENTLY LISTENING TO

“You/It’s Alright,” Stu and the cast of Passing Strange. The lineup for the Toronto Film Festival came out this week, and one of the feature films is a Spike Lee adaptation of the David Byrne musical “American Utopia.” I got to see that show last year, back when there were shows, and it’s wonderful, and Spike Lee will film the shit out of that thing. And for proof, I remind you of the incredible Passing Strange, which Lee directed in 2009. It’s one of my favorite movie musicals of all time, and the above scene—about an American Black man who leaves his country and finds a home with artists and troublemakers in Amsterdam—is so moving and thrilling and truly joyous that it knocks me on the floor every time.

Stick with the clip to the end: It will brighten the rest of your day. And then watch the movie itself.

Baseball in 2020 … while we can, anyway.

Have a great weekend, all.

Best,
Will