Doctor, I think I’ve had a breakthrough.
I’ve actually taken two summer vacations of nearly a week long.
I’ve always been busy in the summer, working overseas at major events or schlepping off to the inane din of ball parks. My wife used to say, why don’t you be smart like Dave Anderson and take a whole month off and relax? (For that matter, editors and readers always asked why I couldn’t be more like Dave Anderson.)
Anyway, I thought I’d try it.
The first vacation to Cape Cod was a little scary because I kept getting reports of marauding sharks and infectious sea lions and wandering bears and skittish foxes.
The second vacation began in western Massachusetts, where I did things like swim in a lake and watch ducks and kayakers glide past, and hang out with friends in a delightful home.
Sometimes we watched the clouds and the sky and the hills. Sometimes we talked about the Yankees or politics or thwarted hoop dreams.
Then my wife and I drove to central New York to visit my kid brother and his wife who are on the faculty at Colgate and live out in the country in an 1842 stone house. While the women went to an all-day antique fair in town, my brother and I picked vegetables in his garden and watched the farmer’s cows on the other side of the fence.
But the highlight of upstate was having time for two trips to Cooperstown, for the Glimmerglass Festival – a total revelation. I had always thought of it as an outdoor summery diversion, but in fact it is an indoor auditorium used only a few months a year with a very high level of performance and staging.
We sat in the third row for an old French opera, Armide, with a strong cast including a charming ballet corps, and on Monday we came back for Lost in the Stars, the pre-Mandela South African story of a tragedy striking black and white families.
From the third row, we were especially captivated by the bass, Eric Owens, and the tenor, Sean Panikker, two Pennsylvanians on their way up. After the performance, the principals came out in street clothes and answered questions from the audience.
Afterward, the four of us went out for home-made ice cream and zucchini bread on Route 20, and talked about making this excursion to Glimmerglass an annual event.
Then my wife and I drove back toward the city under a gathering storm, seeing more sky than we ever can around New York.
I know I am not saying anything profound here, Doctor, but I think I have proven the point that I can take a week away from cities, from work, and not go nuts.
Of course, now I am back in high gear – drawn back by the Lance Armstrong saga, getting ready for a few cameo gigs at the Open tennis in the next two weeks. Deadlines. Assignments. Anxiety. The dreaded R-word is taking its own well-deserved vacation. Still, this is progress, isn’t it, Doctor?
Welcome to World Cup 2022, the most absurd thing that the routinely absurd world of sports has ever produced.
Those extreme descriptions were what virtually the entire world, save for those who had walked off with bags of cash from Qatar, called the awarding of soccer’s greatest event to the incredibly tiny, incredibly wealthy country back in 2010.
Twelve years ago, many were convinced this event couldn’t possibly happen: staging the world’s biggest sporting event in a country the size of Connecticut, one with zero soccer culture and even less soccer infrastructure? The tournament couldn’t possibly take place in 120-degree heat, and FIFA, the governing body of soccer, most certainly wouldn’t upend football leagues around the world to change the traditional summer schedule, could it?
And, for God’s sake, what about the beer?
Those were just the logistical concerns. The moral concerns are far more distressing. FIFA, so busy paying lip service to equality, couldn’t possibly expect the world to embrace a country where you could go to prison for being gay, where women’s rights are severely curtailed and female victims of sexual assault could go to prison, charged with engaging in extramarital sex. And all those questions came before the global realization that the World Cup was being built on the backs of migrant labor: modern-day slaves held in Qatar with virtually no rights, low wages and no ability to leave. Migrants make up 90% of Qatar’s stated population of 3 million. The country’s native-born equal about 300,000, or roughly the size of Anaheim.
---Ann Killion, columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle.