My recurring dream strikes again!

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So there I was outside Oracle Arena. . .

 

I had my recurring dream again last night where I’m trying to get somewhere but keep getting pushed farther and farther off course.

In the dream I had tickets for a Golden State Warriors basketball game so I’m waiting on line outside the Oracle Arena. When I get inside the building one of the ushers says to me “Excuse me sir would you step over here and lie down on this table.”

I laid down on the table and this guy strapped this thing on my arm that doctors use to check your blood pressure and they start pumping away. They really strap me onto the table so I can’t get up. This guy standing over, who I assume is a security guard, is running all these medical tests on me. After awhile I start to get suspicious.

“Do you do this to all the customers?” I said.

“No just you,” he said.

“Well why am I being singled out?”

“Well for godssake man take a good look at yourself. Take a look at your appearance!”

I realized my jacket is covered with dirt and leaves, my hair is wildly strewn, and my flie is open. In fact I look exactly like a crazy, disheveled, and potentially-dangerous homeless street person. “I was sleeping in the bushes before I came here,” I explained.

After awhile the security guard decided I was OK and unstrapped me from the table. But by that time I had gotten comfortable lying there on the table so I decided to roll over on my side and take a nap. Until one of the ushers woke me up and said “You better not sleep there or they’ll REALLY think you’re weird.”

Next I had to deal with all my stuff. I had inexplicably brought all my homeless camping gear with me (including a tent) and I had to pack into onto this little cart as compactly as I could, including the three jackets I was wearing.

Then I walked into the main arena. I was surprised to find out I had great tickets practically right at courtside. The seating area wasn’t set up like the typical sports arena. It was more like a fancy bar with people lounging around drinking at little round tables. My ticket number was A-1 (naturally). And they had a map showing the seating arrangements. But I still couldn’t find my seat. I kept pacing back and forth in the aisles getting more and more frustrated.

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The final scene of the dream

Then I’m running up this country road going up a hill in the middle of this forest. There are beautiful green tree vistas everywhere I look. Now I’m completely confused. “How did I get up here?” I thought. “One minute I was in the Oracle Arena and now I’m way out in the country somewhere. This doesn’t make any sense.”

I stood there on the road trying to figure out how I was going to get back to the game in time when I suddenly realized “This is all just a dream!”

That instantly explained everything and I finally relaxed and stopped worrying about solving my problems because this was all nothing but a dream and would soon disappear. But I was also amazed as I gazed out at the dreamscape because it was all just as vivid and realistic as real life.

And then I woke up.

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An interaction with a fellow sports fan at the urinals in the local sports bar

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The most memorable moment of the Warriors – Cavs game?

End of the 3rd quarter I go into the restroom of the sports bar to urinate. As I’m urinating this guy sidles up to the urinal next to me.

“HOW YOU DOIN’ MY MAN??” he shouts.

“Fine,” I says. “How are you doing?”

“OK!!” he shouts. “I HAVENT SEEN YOU AROUND IN AWHILE!!”

“I’ve been around,” I says.

Evidently he knows me. I have no idea who he is. This happens to me often these days. Where some guy I don’t know, knows me. And I always wonder: Do they REALLY know who I am? Or are they just saying that for some reason??

“HOW DO YOU LIKE THE GAME SO FAR??” he shouts.

“Warriors looking good,” I says.

So now I’m making smalltalk with some stranger standing right next to me while I’m drunk and trying to urinate. One of my least favorite things to do. But what can I do? I’m trapped. I can’t stop urinating in mid-stream. So I’m stuck there.

“I HATE THE WARRIORS!!” he shouts, with a hard edge of anger in his voice.

“Oh really?” I says.

So now my attempt at dull banal “sports small-talk” has an added complication. He obviously has some kind of axe to grind. So now I have to think about what he’s saying. And I hate having to think when I’m drunk.

“ALL THESE PEOPLE OUT THERE WEARING THEIR WARRIORS JERSEYS!! WHERE WERE THEY WHEN THE WARRIORS WERE LOSING!!”

“I guess they’re just fair-weather fans,” I says.

“EXACTLY!!!” he shouts.

So I’ve at least managed to say something that would placate him. And we ended our urination on a pleasant note.

I zipped up my pants and went back out to my table and my pitcher of beer and watched the fourth quarter. The End.

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Real life athletes

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With the clock ticking down, she made a split-second decision, pivoted to her left, and dashed down the street, and made the game-winning play!!

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Pappy’s was packed like sardines for game 7, Golden State Warriors vs Houston Rockets.

The highlight, the best play  of the game, for me?

The young black couple that were sitting right in front of me decided to leave at halftime. This Asian woman who jumped in there to get their vacated seats noticed that they had left their wallet on the floor. She grabbed the wallet. Looked around. “They went that’away,” I said, pointing down the street. She ran outside and chased after them.

When she came back I said “Did you get em?”

“Yes,” she said.

“Sweet!” I said.

We high-fived

GO WARRIORS!!

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Hoop dreams

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The other night while I was watching the Warriors game at this sports bar, this guy sidled over to my table.

“We should get back out there on the court, bro,” he said with a smile. It was Kenyati, a guy I used to hoop with at Ohlone Park back in the day.

“I’m a little too old for that now,” I said.

“How old were you when you stopped hooping?” said Kenyati.

“Man, I musta’ been around 35, 36,” I said.

“I remember the last time you were out there,” he said. “I was there that day.”

“And you were a teenager back then,” I said.

“Yeah,” he said. Kenyati was in his 40s now.

“It goes by so fast,” I said.

“Yeah,” he said.

We gave each other wistful looks. And then went back to watching the Warriors game.

Those days running full court with the brothers were some of the best days of my life. And probably Kenyati’s, too.

 

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Welcome to Oakland

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Spent the month of April living in a little hotel room by Lake Merritt in Oakland.  It was interesting because it’s been two decades since I spent any real time in downtown Oakland

It’s hard to get a feel for what Oakland is.  The city is kind of nebulous.  Like that famous quote about Oakland:  “There’s no there there.”  Oakland kind of gets over-shadowed by the more flamboyant San Francisco and Berkeley.  Berkeley is famous for it’s radical/leftist political activism.  And San Francisco has dozens of famous icons and famous neighborhoods — the Haight-Ashbury, Carol Doda on Broadway, the gay mecca, the cable cars, etc.  Whereas Oakland just seems like a bunch of random people thrown together for no particular purpose.

In the ’60s and the ’70s Oakland sort of had a reputation as a “blue-color town.”  Full of two-fisted average Joes working with their meaty hands.  A no-nonsense town.   As opposed to the effete culture snobs in San Francisco.  The Hell’s Angels, the Black Panthers and the Oakland Raiders were kind of the icons of Oakland back then.  And there are countless stories of Oakland Raiders players celebrating their latest victory at neighborhood bars right along-side their fans.

But nowadays, there are very few Oakland Raiders in sight in Oakland.  Or Hell’s Angels or Black Panthers, either, for that matter.  And if the city is still a “blue collar” town you wouldn’t know it from all the people milling around downtown.  Most of whom look like they work in offices, or as store clerks.

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The view from my hotel room. There’s a there somewhere.
Anyways, if there’s one thing that Oakland is still damn proud of these days, it’s the Golden State Warriors basketball team.  But even there, Oakland gets slightly slighted in that they’re never referred to as the “Oakland Warriors.”  As if Oakland lacked the proper status befitting a professional sports team.  At any rate, I was desperate to watch the third game of the playoffs, round one, Golden State versus the New Orleans Pelicans.  Unfortunately, every sports bar in town was jammed to the rafters with people.  I’m talking SARDINES.  I mean, you had to fight your way through the masses just to worm your way up to the bar.
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So instead I watched the game at this artsy little nightclub/bar, the Golden Bull.  They usually featured modern, alt. rock-type bands, leaning towards the local metal crowd.  In other words, lots of tattoos.  But equal parts music critic-type art nerds to go along with the usual headbangers.  Fortunately, they had a little television set on the wall, almost as an after-thought, that was tuned to the Warriors game.  So I bought a pint and settled in.

A power trio was setting up their equipment on the little stage at the back of the club.  A chick on vocals and bass, another chick on drums, and a guy with horn-rimmed glasses on guitar.  And like I said, lots of tattoos.

The Warriors were getting blown out for most of the game.  So aside from me, there wasn’t much interest in the game.  They were down by 17 points with 6 minutes to go.  So all seemed lost.  But then they staged one of the most unbelievable comebacks I have ever seen.
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It was like God was on their side.  And every single play went in their favor for the rest of the game.  And they needed every single one of those plays.  For most of the game I was the only one watching it.  But as the Warriors fired into gear, one-by-one all the rock’n’roll hipsters drifted away from the stage and in front of the little television set.  The cheers started building with every play.  Happy, over-joyed cheers of stunned disbelief.  “I CAN’T BELIEVE WHAT I’M SEEING!!!”  Screaming louder with every Warriors bucket.

The rock band wisely postponed starting their set until the Warriors game was over.  Stephen Curry (of course) hit an unbelievable 3 pointer in the corner to tie the game, just as time ran out, even as he got blasted in the process, knocked to the ground by a Pelican defender.  Just an unbelievable shot.  And the Warriors went on to win in overtime. Just pure magic.  It was an Oakland moment if ever there was one.

And then the band turned out to be pretty cool, too.  Sort of dark metal, but with some melody, too.  Lots of shouted/chanted anthem-like vocals from the ladies.  If they lightened up a bit they’d almost be the B-52s.  I think it’s been 20 years since I’ve been in a little club watching live music.  So it was a great night for me, too.

I had a happy, contented buzz going as I left the club and hit the sidewalk.  On the curb right outside the club, there was a big pile of flowers.  It was a memorial to this bass player who had recently been shot and killed outside the club while he was loading his gear.  A stray bullet. He just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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I didn’t know the guy.  But he was good friends with a friend of mine.  So it sort of hit close to home.  It sort of left me with this eerie, unsettled feeling as I walked back to my little hotel room.  Everything might seem cool and happy and peaceful on the surface right now.  But it gave you this feeling that, at any moment, something like that might happen on the streets of Oakland.  Oakland is, and always has been, a tough, tough town.  That’s for sure.  Some things never change.

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