Back To Earth

Getting up at 7:30 in the morning to blue sky and white pistes – and having to pack your bags.

All seven of them.

Skis, snowboards and boots included

Guess who’s doing the carrying?

Embarking on twelve hours of traveling – welcome to Intracontinental travel

Catching the shuttle train from Terminal A at Atlanta (where your plane got in) to terminal D (where your ongoing ticket says you’ll be boarding from), only to find at Terminal D that your ongoing flight will actually be leaving from Termainal A – two gates over from the one at which you arrived.

Welcome to Intracontinental travel

Returning to Terminal A, bemused kid at side, walking to the far side of the Gate to recharge your laptop at a wall-side plug… and running right into your wife.

And sleeping baby.

Which is a surprise

Because though you know they’re flying back from Florida today

You’re so casual in your relationship you didn’t ask each other which flight you were on.

Though evidently it’s the same one.


Thinking your baby is happy to see you when he wakes up….

…When he’s actually just happy to see your laptop.

Which there’s now not much point charging up

As he will fight you to the death to play with it

On which subject,

It’s Good Friday and it’s Passover

Why are so many businessmen working on their laptops?

When they could be playing on them,



Finally starting one of the three novels I took on holiday with me

Saturday, by Ian McEwan

Until Noel has an explosion at 30,000 feet.

Just as we hit turbulence

Which may or may not be a coincidence

Posie says, from the middle seat, where Noel is sat on her lap

“I think it’s leaking on me.”

And grimaces

We ask the stewardess if we can be excused to the bathroom

She points to the ‘fasten seatbelt’ sign.

And on cue, the plane rocks back and forth

Shaking Noel’s poop out the diaper with it

When the stewardess sits down again, I get up, holding the baby

It’s leaking alright

Posie follows me

To the bathroom

If you can call it that

The stewardess, sitting in the kitchen, implores us to return to our seats

As the turbulence shakes poop off Noel’s inside leg

We show her the baby

She grimaces

“Just be quick,” she says, and Posie enters the airplane toilet,
diapers, wipes, and emergency bag in hand

She returns to the seat five minutes later.

“That was probably the worst poop he’s ever had,” she says, dropping his soiled pair of best trousers into a plastic bag and tying a knot in the handles.

“And the sink was blocked.”

Neither of us venture to the back of the plane before it lands in Albany

Welcome back to parenthood


Welcome Home

Driving in a convoy from Albany to Hunter, Campbell back with his mother – me back on my own

Listening to a Brian Lehrer Podcast on the Thruway

About the price of oil

And whether,

Now that it has hit $70 a barrel,

We should be subjecting oil companies to a ‘windfall tax”,

The most sanctimonious, patronizing, insulting, dishonest free-market libertarian it’s ever been my misfortune to hear justify the oil companies’ multi-billion dollar profits is polluting my iPod

I want to fast forward but I have to hear him through

Lehrer usually gives us the benefit of mildly likeable members of the political opposition

Maybe there are no likeable lobbyists for the oil industry


Sleeping in on a Saturday morning

Reading Saturday

Writing up The Joy of Snow, before the thoughts leave my mind

Having a family fry-up

Sitting out on the deck

Enjoying the rites of spring

Before packing up the car again

It’s Easter

And we’re off to the InLaws

(Isn’t this meant to be a holiday?)

Feeling euphoric en route

The contentment of going away has finally sunk in

Even though I got home last night

Now I know why people go away for two weeks

Playing James’ Millionaires on the Thruway

Everybody wants to be happy

I feel like Fred Astaire

I know what I’m here for

I hope I’m not shooting my mouth off (again)

But I still think Tim Booth is one of the greatest lyricists the world has ever known

Everybody wants the same thing

It’s a beautiful day (again)

And it’s over by the time we reach the Jersey shore

175 miles away


Welcome Home

Opening up my own wine again

Though our final bottle of Trimbach Pinot Gris seems off

And the Hosmer Pinot Noir is not as good as it tasted up in the Finger Lakes

Or rather, not as good as the Burgundies I sampled at a couple of recent industry tastings

Though the kids’ Grandma is in good health

And that is good

Reading Saturday on Saturday night in bed

Going for a run on the boardwalk Sunday morning

Man it’s hot back at sea level

I haven’t been out running for ten days

And my left leg is banged up

My legs feel stiff as tree trunks

I’m pushing the jogging stroller part of the way

Which Posie does by rote, by the way

People smile as I run against them

Maybe Noel’s smiling at them


My sister-in-law’s cooking

And inevitable bottles of Kendall Jackson Chardonnay

Fortunately, I brought a bottle of Trimbach Gewurztraminer with me

Unfortunately, it falls out the back of the car when I’m not looking

And smashes on the ground

Ever taken a $20 bill and torn it in half?

That’s what this feels like

Looks like I’m on the Kendall Jackson

Which is preferable to the McGuigan Merlot

Though not the Seven Deadly Zins

I’ve gotten good at this tasting game

You don’t need a glass

To taste

Just a mouthful


Welcome Home

Football on the telly

No, I mean football

Salt Lake vs New York

Appropriately enough

The views of the Wasatch Mountains around the ground remind me what I’ve just left behind

And how I’d just read in the SLWeekly that Salt Lake has its own soccer stadium on its way

(Along with the usual accusations of corruption and bribery)

Which is just as well

Because they’re playing this match on a football field.

No, I mean football field.

You can’t make out the goal area for the 20 yard line

Or the half way line for the 50 yard line

And how anyone knows where the touch-in takes off is beyond me

But it doesn’t really matter

Because, even twelve years after the USA hosted the World Cup

The standard of MLS is below the English Fourth Division

I mean, Division 3

League Two

Or whatever they’re calling it this year

This year, the Metro Stars

Are called the Red Bulls

No bull

I look for the sponsorship of the drink company

I can’t see it

Would you really name your team Red Bull

If you weren’t sponsored by Red Bull?


Half paying attention to the ball going off for another throw-in

Or a meaningless hoof down field

I read the Asbury Park Press

There’s a story about a local youth soccer team

And its Field Of Dreams

Which they won from the Red Bulls

This much is true:

The Red Bulls laid down sod over the Giants Stadium astroturf

And raffled it off after their first game of the season

Among a selection of youth teams

As long as each team bought fifteen seats each

The winning New Jersey teams bought sixty

I learn something from this story:

(Not only that the more raffle tickets you buy, the better your chance of winning an all-sod football field

And not only that the new New York team is still playing in New Jersey

In a stadium four times too big for its team’s boots, but that)

The Red Bulls president is Alexi Lalas

(Or was, American football teams change staff as rapidly as the English)

Yes, him of the 1994 USA World Cup team

And giant goatee

With whom I spent a most pleasant day

Twelve years ago

Two months ahead of the big tournament

Back before he knew he was on the squad

But when I had him marked as the USA’s likely media star

And sold a story on him to the TV show Passengers.

That was a great day out

Hanging with the hosts of the upcoming World Cup

Who were living in dorm rooms, and

Who couldn’t find a working TV between them

When their coach – the great Boris Milutinovic

Sent them home to watch a European Cup game

Arsenal v. Feyenoord, if I remember correctly

(Though I might not)

And though the Red Bulls are not the Metro Stars

And certainly not the Cosmos

The kids from New Jersey not only won a free football field

But they got to watch the game alongside

Franz Beckenbauer

And Pele

Whose presence at Giants Stadium all these years on suggests they may believe

They still are the Cosmos

Alexi Lalas, for President… of the New York Red Bulls, no the Los Angeles Galaxy


Fake Salt Lake vs New York Bull

Is followed by Bolton vs. Chelsea

And though I hate any English team that is not Crystal Palace

The difference in quality is more than embarrassing

It’s a distance of a cosmos

Or three

It’s the difference between park football played on American football fields

And the real thing

And though I still hate any English team that is not Palace

I learn that Campbell thinks all those Monday nights I played 5-a-side at Chelsea Piers

I was actually playing for Crystal Palace


That’s the kind of thing I dreamed of

When I was his age….

Driving up the Turnpike on a Sunday night

With all the other tens of thousands of cars

Gas at $3 a gallon

Has not stopped any of us visiting

Our mothers

For the holiday

(Nor should it)

Reading Saturday on a Sunday night in bed

The arguments about the impending Iraq invasion

All the more poignant

Three years on

Though why is it that even the best of British literary novelists

– And yes, Martin Amis, I’m looking at you too –

Can not successfully conjure up a believable working class villain

Nor a plausible rock band

When did you last hear of a blues group from the UK getting a 15-month residency in the East Village?

Or any group, for that matter?

Though clearly I’m captivated

Or I wouldn’t have finished the book

In three days straight

Welcome Home

Back to work in Phoenicia

A new copy of the local paper

Announcing cuts in the School Budget.

Posters on Main Street shop windows

Announcing Levon Helm playing a benefit for our School District’s Music Program

Bringing his band to the High School

On a Saturday night

Which is pretty cool

Though when you get to thinking about how many musicians live up here

It’s a surprise more of them don’t get involved in the local public Schools

Unless, of course, they’re not sending their kids to the local public schools

Or don’t have kids

Or just don’t care

A placard at the fire station


“In memoriam”

and the name of a departed veteran

A hand-painted sign outside a country lane


“Welcome to earth”

and the name of a new baby.

A hand-painted bed sheet hung from the Rappling Tower


“Welcome home”

and the name of a Soldier

fresh back from Iraq

Neither born nor died

Though from his young eyes

Maybe he feels he’s experienced both

A sign at the local gas station


“$3 a gallon”

We hope

This war was not about

Cheap oil

After all

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2 Comment(s)

  1. 19 April, 2006 at 5:18 pm

    The Red Bulls, or New York Red Bull as they were when it was first announced, are most definitely now the property (at least in some sense) of Red Bull the drink corporation. Sponsorship gone mad?

    And Alexi Lalas is now gone.

    I wonder if the two changes are related.

    A friend of mine who publishes a successful football ‘zine here in NYC was strangely denied a press pass this year, and he told me that Lalas was supportive but “it was a corporate thing”…

  2. 19 April, 2006 at 6:24 pm

    Somewhere between me watching the game Sunday and writing up my post on Tuesday, Lalas either left or got the boot. The man struck me as more Californian in style than east coast and hopefully he will be happy with the Galaxy

    This business about Red Bull sponsoring the New York Red Bulls is interesting because it’s actually quite hard to find the connection. Watching the ‘kickabout’ on Sunday I didn’t see any mention or image of the actual drink Red Bull, and at their web site, ditto. Is sponsorship now such that it’s merely enough to own the name of a team and we can then assume that everyone will play word association football?


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