Monday, December 12, 2005


Not your normal Monday post

Normally, in this space, Our Man in LA likes to talk sports on Mondays, relating how he spent a goodly deal of the weekend - glued to the tube, watching his teams.

We're taking a break from that. Mostly because there was a lot of embarrassment this weekend.

I don't even want to talk about how the hardcourt Longhorns looked against #1 Duke. Did I say that Texas was ready to be a power in football and basketball? Yeah . . . well, shucks.

And then Reggie Bush won the Heisman, which he totally deserved. And then the Bengals struggled against their cross-state rivals, the woeful Cleveland Browns. Not much good for Our Man Wieland, now beginning an ugly new week.

On the upside, I did like the look of Cleveland's new QB Charlie Frye. And he's an Akron ZIP! A Zip, I tells you!

But given that bad sports taste in my mouth, Our Man in LA thought he'd downshift into non-sports news and notes. So here it goes.

1) As you might have garnered from other posts, I'm not much missing the midwestern winter this year. Nope. No interest in the kind of flying, blustery snow crap that I saw in the Bears-Steelers game last night. No interest in driving around a town where planes are just crashing onto residential streets. And most of all, no real interest in being colder than, say, 50 degrees. In fact, at 55 degrees, I have now found that I like to begin layering my clothing and turning on the heat in the house.

Scoff at me about this all you want. Feel free to pull that "It builds character to be in cold weather" bullcrap that I heard for about 30 years. It doesn't. There's no character. It's just bad weather. You can be loaded with all the character you want, but if you die of a heart attack while shoveling snow when you could have been eating a nice meal at a sunny beach somewhere, well, that's not such an even trade, is it?

Of course, the wife and I are headed to the cold and snow in just a couple of weeks. Boo, snow.

2) Richard Pryor died over the weekend. I loved Pryor, but like a lot of folks my age, I had to go back and discover him later on. The only movie of his that I was allowed to see in the theater was Superman III, and his albums weren't exactly regulars of the Wieland family hi-fi.

When I did discover him years later, I was blown away. His work transcended funny, it transcended incendiary, even. I remember my cousin letting me listen to cuts off his albums from the 60s and giggling at the language. But later, as an adult, staying up late to watch one of his concert films on cable, I realized that Pryor's comedy and its inherent protest represented a true art in a way that one doesn't often see in standup comedy.

In a way, it seems like we've been missing Pryor for a long while. Because of his fight with MS, he has not been at the forefront like he once was. But it was nice knowing that he was around. We'll miss him.

3) It seems interesting that Eugene McCarthy, another icon of the late 60s, died the same weekend as Pryor. Both men - though completely different - helped embody the spirit of protest in that era. The LA Times ran their obits side by side on Sunday's front page.

These things usually come in threes, so I'm cringing a little to imagine who's next.

4) Our Woman in LA has been working with a local theatre group called City of Peace - which brings a diverse group of teens from around the LA area together to create their own plays and musicals based on the experience of growing up in an urban environment. The group's programming also features a pretty strong advocacy component, where the teens work with local organizations to help teens come to grips with issues ranging from homelessness to drug and alcohol addiction to sexual identity.

Got a chance on Sunday to see some of the company in action. A group of about 20 kids gathered at the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica as part of a fund raiser with the local Barnes and Noble.

Basically, the kids were amazing. It's always eye-opening to see teens talking frankly about issues like drugs, sex, identity, pregnancy, homelessness - but especially so in the context of improv games and new scenes. Watching this, you come to realize how front of mind some of these issues are to young people today. Can't wait to see the next performance.

That's all for now. See y'all tomorrow.

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