The Pencil Today:


“At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet.” — Plato


Exactly 28 years ago today, my heart was broken. October 7th, 1984 was a Sunday as well, a rainy, chilly day. The events that occurred between the hours of 3 and 4 o’clock pm, Central Daylight Time, only intensified the gloom.

Look closely at the photo below. It’s grainy and blurry and clearly it’s a snapshot of the image on a TV screen. It’s the result of 1984 technology, which isn’t saying much compared to today’s.

That’s A Baseball Behind Him

The man in the shot is named Leon Durham. He was the first baseman for the Chicago Cubs. His team was playing the San Diego Padres in Jack Murphy Stadium in the National League Championship Series. The winner of that day’s game would go on to face the mighty Detroit Tigers in the World Series.

Any real Cubs fan can recognize poetry even in the most banal of circumstances. But that day it was surely poetic that the Cubs were on the verge of meeting the Tigers in the World Series because the last time Chicago’s National League ball club had been to the Series, 39 long years before, it had faced Detroit’s American League ball club.

For that matter, the Cubs shouldn’t even have been playing that Sunday. They’d left Chicago just four days earlier with a two games to nothing lead on the Padres in the best of five NLCS. All they had to do was win a single game in San Diego.

They didn’t win on Friday night. I’d carried a bottle of Champagne on the el as I headed for my brother’s apartment in Lincoln Park. We’d surely toast the happiest moment in our lives later that night. Only the Padres battered Cubs starting pitcher Dennis Eckersley.

So I did the same thing the next night — lugged my bottle of Champagne on the el to Joey’s place. But the Padres beat the Cubs in the bottom of the ninth on a dramatic home run by, ugh, Steve Garvey. I can still see him rounding first after hitting his walk-off home run, holding pumping his fist, the brute.

Garvey, Arm Still Upraised, Being Carried Off The Field

I still had that bottle of Champagne with me on the el on Sunday afternoon, the seventh. But I wasn’t headed to Joey’s place. Neither of us had come out and said it, but we didn’t want to be around each other if the Cubs couldn’t win that day.

I went to Wrigley Field where first a select few, then dozens, and finally hundreds of fans converged to celebrate a hoped-for, begged-for, prayed-for win some 1700 miles away. The Cubs had brought in their ushers to protect the ballpark. The city had sent police officers on horses to control the hopefully giddy crowd. The streets around the park were closed off.

Some of my left field bleacher pals and I were friendly with the bleacher gate ushers. That means we’d slipped them money on a regular basis to let us in when the bleachers were sold out, or had bought them lunch or beers in anticipation of some future favors.

The ushers had set up a little black and white TV in the bleachers box office and pointed it out toward the corner of Waveland and Sheffield avenues. Then they made sure that we, their pals, got front row center seats.

The Cubs led that ultimate game 3-0 as late as the bottom of the sixth. But the Padres cut into the lead that inning with two runs. Then, the seventh inning. On the seventh day. And the seventh of October. Poetry?

With a man on second, some heretofore anonymous young man who pretended to play infield competently for the Padres hit an easy ground ball right at Leon Durham.

Durham had a sure glove that year. We knew he’d gobble the roller up and easily retire the anonymous young man. But…, but…, but….

Oh, you know as well as I do that the Cubs haven’t been in the World Series for a total of 67 years now.

That Champagne? We drank it anyway. We needed some sort of medication.

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

Brought to you by The Electron Pencil: Bloomington Arts, Culture, Politics, and Hot Air. Daily.

WORKSHOP ◗ Dagom Gaden Tensung Ling MonasteryIntroductory course on Buddhism; 6th of eleven weekly session; 10-11am

STUDIO TOUR ◗ Brown County, various locationsThe Backroads of Brown County Studio Tour, free, self-guided tour of 16 local artists’ & craftspersons’ studios; 10am-5pm, through October

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts Center, Recital HallStudent Orchestral Recital: Xuan Li on piano, Caleb Winslow Young, director; 1pm

HALLOWE’EN ◗ Haunted Hayride & Stables, 8308 S. Rockport Rd.Friendly hayride, No spooks; 1-5pm

VOLUNTEER ◗ Lake Monroe, Cutright SRAAutumn Olive Take Down, help remove invasive Autumn Olive trees; 1:30-4pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer Hall Brass Choir, Edmund Cord, director; 2pm

STAGE ◗ Brown County Playhouse, NashvilleDrama, “Last Train to Nibroc”; 2pm

FESTIVAL ◗ Town of Bloomfield, downtown2012 Bloomfield Apple Festival parade; 2pm

BOOKS ◗ Monroe County Public LibraryDiscussion of “Buddha in the Attic,” by Julie Otsuka; 2pm

ART ◗ IU Art MuseumMeet the Collector: Yawan Yu, collector of Chinese minority textiles in the museum’s “Threads of Love” exhibit; 2-3pm

MUSIC ◗ St. Thomas Lutheran ChurchBloomington Bach Cantata Project, James Andrewes, director; 2:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, NashvilleBarbara McGuire; 5-7pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubTom Rosznowski; 6pm

FILM ◗ Bear’s PlaceRyder Film Series: “Stars in Shorts“; 7pm

LECTURE ◗ IU SoFA, Room 102 — “Moral Machines,” on guidelines for robotics, presented by Colin Allen, free; 7pm

MUSIC ◗ Rachael’s CafeCrosstown Collision, Stop.Drop.Rewind, The DRive-By Insults; 7:30pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts CenterConcert Orchestra, Arthur Fagen, director, performing Claude Baker & Tchaikovsky; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Auer Hall — Doctoral Recital: Yoon-Wha Roh, piano; 8pm


ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “New Acquisitions,” David Hockney; through October 21st
  • Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists; through October 14th
  • “Paragons of Filial Piety,” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi; through December 31st
  • “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers,” by Julia Margaret, Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan; through December 31st
  • French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century;” through December 31st
  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Pop-art by Joe Tilson; through December 31st
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st
  • Embracing Nature,” by Barry Gealt; through December 23rd
  • Pioneers & Exiles: German Expressionism,” through December 23rd

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • Ab-Fab — Extreme Quilting,” by Sandy Hill; October 5th through October 27th
  • Street View — Bloomington Scenes,” by Tom Rhea; October 5th through October 27th
  • From the Heartwoods,” by James Alexander Thom; October 5th through October 27th
  • The Spaces in Between,” by Ellen Starr Lyon; October 5th through October 27th

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibit:

  • “Samenwerken,” Interdisciplinary collaborative multi-media works; through October 11th

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits opening September 28th:

  • A Place Aside: Artists and Their Partners;” through December 20th
  • Gender Expressions;” through December 20th

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibit:

  • “CUBAmistad” photos

ART ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits:

  • “¡Cuba Si! Posters from the Revolution: 1960s and 1970s”
  • “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”
  • “Thoughts, Things, and Theories… What Is Culture?”
  • “Picturing Archaeology”
  • “Personal Accents: Accessories from Around the World”
  • “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”
  • “The Day in Its Color: A Hoosier Photographer’s Journey through Mid-century America”
  • “TOYing with Ideas”
  • “Living Heritage: Performing Arts of Southeast Asia”
  • “On a Wing and a Prayer”

BOOKS ◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit:

  • Outsiders and Others:Arkham House, Weird Fiction, and the Legacy of HP Lovecraft;” through November 1st
  • A World of Puzzles,” selections form the Slocum Puzzle Collection

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Soup’s OnExhibit:

  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Culture: “CUBAmistad photos; through October

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

  • Bloomington: Then and Now,” presented by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

  • “Doctors and Dentists: A Look into the Monroe County Medical professions

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One thought on “The Pencil Today:

  1. david paglis - the lake county republican says:

    mike: bruce levine, chicago sportswriter says to look to 2014 or 2015 for the cubs to contend. we’ve waited this long, surely we can wait a little longer. sorry for calling you surely.

    what can be hoped for which is not believed? st. augustine

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