McClellan: When the news overwhelms, nature, music and baseball can help us cope | Bill McClellan

When the world is just too much, go for a walk. Preferably in a park. Watch out for the birds. listen to them

Be prepared to greet other hikers cheerfully, but don’t try to initiate conversations. Make an exception for dog walkers. Always say, “That’s a nice looking dog.”

Hardly anyone. One day I was walking in the Kennedy Forest section of Forest Park and a woman and her dog came up to me and I said, “That’s a nice looking dog.” Actually, he looked like the Baskerville dog. As soon as I said he looked good, he jumped at me. I stumbled backwards, startled, and his jump just missed. He tore my coat but missed my throat. The woman said, “He’s very protective.” Or maybe he despised insincerity.

But he was the exception. Most dogs don’t even realize you’re making fun of them, and their humans are content.

As pleasant as a walk in the park is, it is essentially selfish. You help yourself. When the news is so bad that you want to make the world a better place, listen to live music. By supporting your local music events, you’re helping save the city. Live music is part of our culture. Don’t let Netflix and the fear of crime wipe out this culture.

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Last week I was at the Blue Strawberry Showroom and Lounge on Boyle Avenue to listen to Bob Case celebrate Bob Dylan’s 81st birthday. It was a tribute to Dylan and Case that the lounge was packed on a weekday night. I don’t want to go against newspaper policy and review the show, but it was excellent. Besides, it was my audience. We were ready to drive down Highway 61, but we wanted to be home in bed by 10.

Case is best known for blues and Mardi Gras, but here’s something to consider — he once hitchhiked to California. Looking around the audience, I realized that most of the crowd had probably been hitchhiking or hitchhiking. I have done both myself. what were we thinking

Don’t go there. The question is whether it used to be better or did we just not realize how bad it was. I’m afraid everything was better before. Not perfect, but better.

When I was a kid in Chicago, a fire at Our Lady of Angels Elementary School killed 92 children and three nuns. This school was on the west side of town and I lived on the south side, so I didn’t know anyone from the school, but it was still disturbing. In addition to the fatalities, dozens of children were injured. Some jumped out of second-story windows, their hair on fire.

But my elementary school was made of brick. I wasn’t worried too much.

Also, when the adults talked about it, the men seemed to agree that city fire inspectors were probably ignoring problems because the church had connections. Everything was explainable back then. … Where was I? Oh yes, go and listen to live music. Or have dinner at an independent restaurant. Or see a play. save the city Save the culture.

Returning to the more selfish side, check out children’s sports. It would be great fun to watch a sandlot game unobtrusively. (Adult spectators are not appropriate for sandlot play.) There likely won’t be enough kids for full teams, so anything to the right of second base is out. Without a first baseman, pitcher’s hand is out. Without referees, tight games are determined by consensus. The teams are selected by the two captains, who are the recognized top two players.

But wait. You probably won’t find a game like this. Even on the mound, baseball diamonds are rarely used.

So stroll to the Affton Athletic Association fields just off Gravois Road. There will be a wide range of games, and the concessions are not expensive.

I’ve taken to following a first year team called recruits. They look a lot like the Holy Redeemer soccer team I followed last fall. The recruits are damn good. The other night, an opposing player hit a groundball at the shortstop who picked it up and threw it to first base without being asked, where the first baseman caught it while he was on base.

I know some of the players by name. There’s Brock and Kian and Luke and Lucas and William and Will and Apollo.

The player I tend to watch is Tino. He’s usually in the outfield. One day an opposing player will hit him with a fly ball and he will catch it. It’s only a matter of time.

He’s a very good racquet. He’s also ready to slide in no time. He’s a good player to focus on.

When he started first grade last fall, his mother visited his classroom and was a bit surprised. She thought, “This is probably the first room an intruder would enter.”

I never thought about it with my kids and I’m pretty sure my parents never thought about it, but life is very different these days.

How different? When I was in high school, many schools had rifle teams. My vague recollection is that the comrades on the rifle team were generally nerdy guys. It was a fringe sport. Like bowling. My best friend was on the bowling team. He had trouble getting a date. I also. I was on the swim team, but I wasn’t very good. Football, basketball, and baseball drew most of the audience.

I was on the swim team for four years and my parents never came to a reunion. Nobody’s parents came. In fact, hardly anyone came. I was grateful for that. Because I wasn’t a fast swimmer – endurance was my game – I was a distance swimmer. The longest distance was 400 yards, so that was me. Sixteen laps in the pool. I was often lapped. I have no explanation as to why I continued the humiliation for four years. I think sometimes it scared me.

None of my friends were on the rifle team. I’m not sure where the guns were kept. Maybe in the boys’ lockers. The point is, we didn’t think about it.

There is too much to think about today. I lived the news for many years. It was my livelihood. But there are times – and they seem to be increasing – when the news is just too much. Urban violence, mass shootings, riots, a divided house that’s obviously falling apart.

To go for a walk. Listen to live music. Cheer on Tino. These things work for me. And of course cheering on the generation behind me that is grappling with a world where a mother realizes where her son’s classroom is and a young man can’t ride his thumb to California.

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