The Eternal Verities

Its summer, and watching the Angels will cost you $118

"Summer Means Fun," sang the surf-vocal duo Bruce and Terry back when summer was nothing but pure, unadulterated summer. But the somewhat savvier surf-vocal duo Jan and Dean was singing, "When summer comes, gonna hustle you."

Summer does mean fun; ask any mosquito or 8-year-old. And summer also means fun hustling you; ask any business primed for your leisure dollar. You gonna pay, Jack. I can say this with the soiled surety of someone who just spent $8.50 to see Battlefield Earth (aptly described by a friend of a friend as the Worst Movie in the Entire History of People Even Having Eyes and Choosing to Focus Them on Anything).

"Ha, ha," you laugh. "I'll just go to the beach," where you'll only have to pay the extortionate parking fees imposed since the Reagan-era ploy of charging the public for access to public lands, unless you're logging, strip-mining or grazing cattle. Maybe you've found a way around being charged, like taking cattle to the beach or parking at Hoag Hospital and biking on down. (If you feel guilty, visit a sick stranger for a few minutes.)1

But maybe you won't be going to the beach. Consider this transcribed excerpt from a recent ultrasecret meeting of entertainment moguls:

Billy Ray Mogul: Gentlemen, our figures show attendance sagging at all our entertainment complexes. Michael Eisner: Okay, release the bacteria!

Cut to stark newspaper headlines: "Beaches Closed From Dana Point to Huntington"; "Marine Life Dwindles 90 Percent in Local Tide Pools, Species Disappear": "Toxic Pesticide Use up 51 Percent in Orange County"; "Global Warming Real"; "90210 Says Farewell."

Would that Eisner were to blame, or a simple pipeline rupture. How about instead maybe it's us all breeding to extinction (I prefer breeding to exhaustion, personally) and allowing endless development without regard for the fact that we can only dump so much waste for so long in the ocean before we're all swimming in a huge unflushed toilet. Hey, did you read about the European findings that prescription drugs, particularly antidepressants, present in our excreta may be killing off marine life? Christ, you'd think mollusks would appreciate some antidepressants, what with all those weird stringy things growing on some of them. But no, we're killing them and everything else in the pursuit of the good life. Just the other day I was reading that . . .

Oh, screw it; let's go to a baseball game.

I have to admit: even the prospect of a baseball game depresses me, but at least I get paid to be depressed.

I went to a game last year in Seattle, and it depressed the bejesus out of me.2 I used to enjoy occasionally whiling away an atmospheric evening with the Angels. You could buy an upper-tier seat for a few bucks, get a mild buzz on, kick back and watch the pop flies get bigger and bigger in your field of vision, and then smaller and smaller. Very nice, very Newtonian.

But it had been years since I'd seen a game when I attended the one in Seattle's expensive new (YOUR CORPORATE NAME HERE) stadium last fall. Spiffy architecture, lovely afternoon, but you'd think frigging Mussolini had invented the game there was such a nonstop manipulative assault of blaring music, flashing Megatron screens and commercials. I just wanted a pleasant afternoon of sunshine and baseball, and I left feeling like I'd been whacked with a meat tenderizer for three hours.

I expected even worse from our Disnified home team when I went to watch them last week. Maybe I was already past the culture shock from my Seattle experience, but the assault didn't seem half so bad at Edison Field. (My front lawn doesn't have a corporate partner yet, if anyone's interested.) I don't recall geysers and rock formations previously being an integral part of baseball, but back when I was following the game, they hadn't even passed the Infield Itchy Butt rule yet.

I paid $7 to park, $14 a pop for a pair of tickets in the "Lower View MVP" section, which in the quaint early days of the game I believe was called the "colored" section. It wasn't a bad vantage, roughly equidistant to home plate and the Mir Space Station, but both the row spacing and seats were claustrophobically cramped. I only have a 30-inch waist (and I dress to the right, Angel fans), and I felt squeezed. Girthier persons must have felt like they were sitting in a pair of vise grips.

As each Angel was announced and ran onto the field, flares were sent skyward from Geyserville. It would be a generous count, though, to say that more than one person in 100 bothered applauding. Considering that maybe one in three seats was filled, that came pretty near to the sound of silence.

No matter. That's what the PA system is for. Unlike the Seattle game, which had an almost incessant musical intrusion, the canned noise built slowly at Edison Field. The first couple of innings were nearly accompaniment-free, but then the DJ started laying it on, so that by the ninth inning, you could slaughter a goat and not be overheard.

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