Monday, April 12, 2010

Facebook of the Dead

I have dead people on my Facebook. It just sort of happened in the way things like this always happen, I suppose. People I know died. First one, then another...the slow parade of the lost. It's a strange feeling, looking at a page for someone who has shuffled off this mortal coil. There they are, smiling at the camera, alive and kicking, part of the ether, part of the web wide population, but at the same time gone past forever.

Sometimes, on the space where it suggests getting in contact with people I haven't talked to in awhile, Facebook tells me I should contact one of the dead- but there are no instructions on how to do that. Face the clouds and pray? Should I write of their wall? Maybe send an instant message saying " OMG, how r u & what's it like up there?" Is there a way to twitter a ghost?

Usually, when the "get in touch with them" directive pops up on my Facebook page, I chuckle, then grow sad. Because I would like to get in touch with them, tell them good bye, wish them well, thank them for being in my life. Like pretty much everyone I know, I want to speak with the dead. I want a ouija board that works. I want to hold a seance and really hear my fathers's voice. There is something about the impossibility of death, about the finality of it all, that I do not understand. How could something that existed ever not exist anymore? Isn't that against the law of physics?

I also have contact numbers in my cell phone that belong to the dead. I know I should delete them- but that feels like it would be a betrayal somehow. Like I would be saying "yes, that's alright, they're dead"- and I am not really a fan of death, and I do not approve of gently going into that night or whatever it was Dylan Thomas said. So, I have phone numbers and email addresses and Facebook pages for people who aren't around anymore.

Of course, some will take this new dilemma- that Facebook has pages of those that have passed- as a sign of how alienated we are in modern society, how out of touch technology has made us...but I don't really think we were all that in touch a hundred years ago or a thousand, for that matter. No doubt in ancient Egypt someone was walking around saying "we spend so much time absorbed in our papyrus scrolls that we've forgotten to look at each other! Oh, for the simpler times of yesteryear, when a Pyramid stood for something real!" It seems to me that things left by the dead, reminding us they're gone, have always been around, and always will be, and the sting of remembering that you can't call your mom ever again, or that your old pal Adam will never recite the opening lines of the Godfather to you again, is a sting that will seem new and horrible forever. That's part of the deal, I think, of life. We love and laugh, and miss our friends and family when they go away.

Or, as Carlos, the Toad of Infinite Waters says, "Forever and Never and Life and Death are just illusions we make up to help us understand things. We all fade into the ocean of the Universe, and we all remain true to our immortal essence."

Monday, April 5, 2010

Peanuts and Crackerjacks

Baseball season has begun, and all is well in the land. I love baseball. I love everything about it. I love baseball movies, baseball jerseys, baseballs hats. I even play the soundtrack to The Natural when I do the dishes after dinner. It's magic. Don't ask me why, because I don't really know, but there is something about the game that is different- at least for me- than all the other sports we like to watch, play, and pay a small amount of people incredible amounts of money to play on the professional level.

I'm a Yankee fan, and a Giants fan. The Giants were my father's team, and his father's team. To the day he died, he could name the line up for the Giants for year I was born, the year my brother was born, and the year my sister was born. I wish he could have seen them win the World Series once before he died, but it was not in the cards. The Giants are a team of hope- of dreams not yet realized, and perhaps that's where their magic lies. I mean, look at the Red Sox. Something weird happened to them after they broke the curse of the Bambino. Some magic got stolen.
The Yankees were my mom's team. She loved them. One of my favorite baseball memories is calling my mom from Yankee Stadium, and just when she answered, Soriano hit a home run. Maybe it's magic thinking to believe that the Baseball Gods meant for me to call her just at that moment, so that for a brief second we could share the great excitement of thousands of people cheering one of their heros- but so what? I believe in magic and the Baseball Gods. It's like Zorba said, a man needs a little madness in his life.

Being a Yankee fan, I get a lot of ribbing from people who are not Yankee fans. Some of it is good natured fun, but some of it is kind of disturbing. Some people hate the Yankees in a way that just seems unhealthy for the soul. I mean like how the Tea party folks hate Obama. I mean, I hate the Dodgers because I'm a Giants fan- but that doesn't mean I curse them or wish them ill- I just want them to lose each and every game they have against the Black and Orange in the most humiliating fashion possible.
Maybe James Earl Jones character in Field of Dreams had it right when he said:

Ray, people will come, Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway, not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. "Of course, we won't mind if you have a look around," you'll say. "It's only twenty dollars per person." They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it; for it is money they have and peace they lack.

And they'll walk out to the bleachers, and sit in shirt-sleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game, and it'll be as if they'd dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick, they'll have to brush them away from their faces.

People will come, Ray.

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.


Long ago and far away in a kingdom by the sea, I was a pirate in the service of Captain James Hook. It was glorious. I had many tattoos, a h...