Saturday, June 14, 2003

The Colts

So, Mr. Irsay wants the City of Indianapolis to shell out some money to improve the RCA Dome, so that he makes more money. Either that, or the Indianapolis Colts will take a drive down the interstate, just as the Baltimore Colts did back in the early 80s.

I can't say I blame him for asking. So many cities give the moon. City officials always cite jobs, but are also always certain to insist that the prestige of the city would dive if a major sports team left.

I'm a big sports fan, but I'm also a big fan of classic and exotic automobiles. I drive a 1997 Saturn, which is neither of these things, but it sure gets me from-A-to-B. It's a reliable car, and gets very good fuel economy.

Just the same, I'm thinking that I'd like to have a Rolls-Royce... and a Ferrari... and a Maserati. These would look really good in my driveway, and I would look and feel good driving them.

I'm thinking that I'd like everyone on my block to pay for these luxury automobiles. Heck- it will improve the prestige of my neighborhood if out-of-towners were to drive down my street and see the Rolls. My neighbors will enjoy the benefit of this enhanced pretige, and it will only cost them each a little bit. They'll hardly notice how much it is.

I'm even thinking that about 10 to 12 times a year, I will allow my neighbors to take a spin with me in the Rolls or the Maserati. They can pay me admission to ride in my car, getting the direct benefit of having purchased the cars for me. Sometimes they can even ride shotgun. Of course, you don't always get to sit on the 50-yard line, so sometimes, my neighbors will have to ride in the trunk. Heck, though- the ticket are almost half as expensive!

Maybe they can't afford the price of tickets for the whole family to ride. Well, they can stand on the sidewalk and watch as I drive by with those who can afford the price of admission. Still- they're getting the enormous benefit of having created a sense of civic pride and pretige for our neighborhood, thanks to my cars. Of course, I'll only let them stand on the sidewalk if I've sold out the admissions to all of the seats, including the trunk. I'm not kind of idiot who is going to let people watch for free from the sidewalk when I have empty seats.

Man, that Irsay guy is a genius! After all, you won't be subsidizing my desire to have exotic cars. But you will seriously consider subsidizing the Colts. Is it for the enormous benefits you will derive?

As for the prestige- does anyone think badly of Los Angeles because the Rams left? Does anybody look down their nose at Houston because the Oilers left? Cleveland and the Browns? No. People have plenty of other good reason for looking down on these cities, the departure of an NFL franchise is the least of the reasons.

I look down my nose on cities that have socialized football. There is no prestige or honor in creating as vapid an elite as that.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003


Ame's grandfather, Sven Langmack, passed away last Wednesday, after a battle with cancer. We were in Cleveland as her extended family mourned his passing and celebrated his life. Ame held him as the dearest, sweetest man, and although I did not know him long, I came to share the sentiment.

I only knew him as 'Grandpa', the guy Ame loved to cuddle up to during our frequent visits. I had a vague idea that he was a fairly involved and successful businessman. I had the realization just a few days before he died that he is the only man I've ever known whom I'd never heard a negative word about. I had no idea the scope of his impact.

My favorite anecdote: Sven was in D.C. participating in a conference on world trade. During a break, he went to the men's room, and found himself next to Henry Kissinger at a urinal. He glanced over at Kissinger and said, 'You know, I think that at the moment, we're the only ones who know what we're doing'. Kissinger glanced over and said, 'You know, Sven, I tink you are correct'.

I was struck by the burial at Lakeview Cemetary. I know- it isn't immediately the most uplifting imagery, but you had to be there and to know where I sitting to fully appreciate it.

As I sat, I looked past the casket and the minister and saw an obelisk rising through the trees and towering above. I used to sit at the foot of the obelisk on occasional lunch breaks, when I happened to be in the neighborhood. I would eat my sandwich and daydream of a Cleveland of yore, when smokestacks and trains dominated the landscape. When I rose to leave my lunchbreak, I would place a dime on the stone marking the grave of John D. Rockefeller.

Right of the towering monument watching over the great industrialist's family is a stone building. Sometimes after lunch, I would enter the building and hike the narrow, winding stairs to get to the balcony, which offers one of the finest views of the city. In the lower floor, visitors pay tribute to slain President James A. Garfield, whose body rests under an American flag.

To look about the area of Sven's grave was to realize that he had been placed among the greats. Other family names are familiar to you for the products you still use. Glidden (paint) and Otis (elevators), for instance, were right behind me.

The thing I liked most about Sven was that he was still terribly in love with Ame's grandmother, Virgie. After 62 years, and at his age, he still had a twinkle in his eye for his girl. When I stood in their living room this past Christmas to announce that I had proposed to Ame, and that she had accepted, Sven followed with an announcement of his own. With some difficulty, he rose and announced that 61 years before, he had done just I had done, proposing marriage right around Christmas. Given the chance, he'd do it again. We moved the date up, hoping Grandpa would make it to our wedding. Although he missed by just over two weeks, there will be a continuity. Ame and I want to have the kind of love that Sven and Virgie had, ever romantic, even if the aid of a walker is necessary. We're going for at least 70 years together. I figure that medical science being continuously improving, I should make it to 105 easily enough.

As for the other stuff... I figure it will be sufficient tribute if I have a girl cuddling up to me on the couch, calling me Grandpa.