Monday, January 29, 2007

Go Blue: A Win-Win Situation

This really has nothing to do with publishing; it’s more of a sports post in keeping with the spirit of the Big Game coming up this next weekend. There aren’t too many times in life when you can look at events that happen around you and think that no matter what happens, you will come out of it ahead. It’s nice, then, that soon the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears will be battling it out in Miami in Super Bowl XLI. No matter who wins, everyone in the Northeast Midwest wins. Let me explain.

Before Indiana ever thought about misappropriating a professional football team—not that we are saying that is what happened, but…—many of our residents were die-hard Bears fans, and many still are. I grew up in a Bears family, and even though Grandpa would typically choose any team playing opposite the team Grandma was rooting for (which made for some interesting evenings), when the Bears played there was an understood truce in Mudville. Everyone rooted for the Bears—the “other hometown” team. Lots of people in the northern part of the state still prefer the Bears to the Colts, although secretly I bet they like them both. Who doesn’t like horses? And who doesn’t respect a big ol’ bear? I guess that’s a girly view to take, but why not? Many of the Bears fans en route to Miami will be meeting up with their friends, Colts fans, on the way down, and they will have a blast just getting away from the cold and snow and hanging out. Maybe there will be a friendly rivalry and a lot of hot air exchanged, but ultimately, who in Chicago is going to complain if the Colts win, and vice versa?

Many Hoosiers relate very closely with Chicago; many live outside of the city and commute to work every day. In fact, you can find quite a few Cubs fans here as well as Bears fans. But don’t get the wrong idea. Colts fever has been raging for days all over the state of Indiana (and there are probably a few secret Colts fans in the Windy City, too). It seems like everyone, even babies, has managed to find some kind of Colts clothing. Hats and sweatshirts (pink for the girls, if blue is not feminine enough for you), T-shirts, etc. Colts this, Colts that. It is a sea of royal blue and white. But the Bears’ colors are just a shade darker blue and the same white, with a little orange thrown in for good measure, and the Super Bowl colors are blue, white, and orange, so what does it matter? Blue wins either way. Either the new generation of Colts fans wins, or the older generation who attached its loyalty to the Bears so long ago wins. No one loses. Someone is going to come away happy with a win, and the rest of the fans are going to come away happy because their friends’ or family’s team won or just because a team in the flyover states dominated the sport. How many times in life—or in publishing—can you say that happens? Not often.

On another note, it has been good for our town to be able to experience this. It has been a difficult decade for Kokomo, as problems with local industry has caused the economy to fluctuate (to put it mildly) and the residents here have been dealing with the changes as best they can. You know how a good novel starts with conflict/change because humans have such difficulty with it that it makes for a compelling read? Well, K-town—the little New York of Publishing as we like to call it—based on that literary criterion, would be the next bestseller. A lot of change. A lot of character growth. Unpredictable events over which none of us have control. A lot of prayers and hopes and disappointments and good days and bad days. No one really knows what is going to happen next here, and so we are all waiting patiently for the final chapter to be written in a saga that started decades ago. This is one of the reasons we founded Wylie-Merrick right here in the middle of the northeastern Midwest. We could have relocated anywhere in the world, but we didn’t. My grandparents taught me that you don’t bail when things get bad. You stay put and adapt or fight. Adventure is in your own backyard, and don’t ever forget it. Why did people leave the east and come here in the first place? Maybe you should visit and find out. But wait until summer. Really.

And now the Colts made it to the Super Bowl this year, and Kokomo, as well as all of Indiana, is celebrating. We needed something to celebrate, and for that we appreciate what the Colts and the Bears have done. If the Colts hadn’t rallied in the last quarter in that last game, we still would have been able to root for our “other hometown team,” and that is important. We are still in the game, and that’s all anybody really wants to be.

So, on Sunday, February 4th, my Grandma will be watching the game on a big screen TV somewhere in Paradise, knowing that no matter who she roots for and who my grandfather roots against, there will be, at least for a few hours, peace in Mudville. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Go Team!


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

I have my Rally Cow prepared for the big game. Come Wednesday, I will direct RC due West, which is a requirement, and designate a winner. This is fail-safe.

I live in Porter County, which is Indiana, about an hour from Chicago.

I am indifferent to the outcome, but RC will make that determination.

Jay (john)

DanStrohschein said...

Sounds like Sharene is extending an invitation - everyone over to their house for the big game P A R T Y!!

Go - fight - win: It's the mantra of coaches, editors, publishers, agents, and writers alike. When times are hard, we don't give in, we go,fight,win.

Dan Strohschein

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Kokomo, I had occasion to revisit the 1961 state championship game between the KKats and Indy Manual. A couple of memories, since I remembered the game despite having TV in those days that resembling watching a movie through a shower door. Mainly I was surprised that, when I reviewed the history, how much I had remembered as accurate. Etched in my mind, this game was ... and if the truth were spewed out, far more compelling than the Milan story, though for different reasons. (Mainly, they made a movie out of Milan.)

Four guys come to mind from the 1961 game:
Van Arsdale (two counting as one)
Jim Ligon
Rich Scott
Ron Hughes

You can look it up!

Jay (John)

Anonymous said...

Fellow Hoosier here, totally supporting the Colts. I used to be a Pacers fan until the last few years when the Pacers on, and off, court behavior became so pathetic that I can't stand to watch them. So far, the Colts are representing our state well and I love that!

From one small town Hoosier to another, we still have a town square (nearly dead, though) where I worked at a five-and-dime only ten years ago. Five and dime is gone, thanks to Wal-mart, but my children and I still walk to the square every day for our vanilla fountain cokes! My great grandfather and my grandfather both had successful careers as small business owners on the square. Sadly, that era has gone, and I miss it. I would do anything to see our town square thriving like it did in it's glory days!

A Fellow Hoosier writer

Anonymous said...

Here's lost Hoosier life.
My home town.

(I wrote my novel about this.)

Jay / John

Red Pen Pal said...

Tonight we are having real Michigan weather - a snowstorm! Haven't had that all winter - snow, but no snowstorm.

I am just writing to say I felt so touched by your description of Kokomo's struggles - I went and looked at the Kokomo web site and saw "GM" and "Delphi" listed there - I'm in the Detroit area, I feel your pain! Pfizer just announced it was closing its research headquarters in Ann Arbor, so that was another blow.

As a writer, I could not imagine leaving Southeast Michigan. It's true, SE Michigan is in many ways an ugly place - concrete mile after concrete mile, outer suburbs racing at breakneck speed away from the inner city - "the heart of the matter" - as a writer, how do you address that attentuation? Oftentimes it just seems like "there's nothing there" - no texture, no history, no nothing, to write out of. Just Henry Ford and his curse on SE Michigan, i.e., his famous statment: "History is bunk." That's where I feel I live: Bunkville.

I like the idea of the Great Lakes as a "third coast," there being something called "third coast writers" - a regional identity, or at least commonality - I don't feel it though, very often. When I was 7 years old, there were the '67 riots in Detroit - in a way, as a region, we're still sort of stuck there. The '67 riots keep reappearing in my writing - an essay about Tiananmen Square - no, that's really about the '67 riots. Application to grad school in anthropology - yes, I've got to start out with the '67 riots. (And get turned down for grad school.) Novel about a magical and mysterious woman - chapter 6 - '67 riots.

I don't know if there is any specific fault line like that in Kokomo - but if GM and Delphi are in Kokomo - so is a little bit of the '67 riots, I feel. And maybe a little bit of Fairfield, Indiana is in SE Michigan, if I could just dig hard enough to find it.

Today though - all I was digging through - powdery light snow, full of nostalgia for childhood ice skating in a flooded back yard.

Red Pen Pal, er, Blue Snow Shovel