Book Report: Summer of ’68 – Peacemaking Tigers & The Knitter Who Tackled RFK’s Killer

summer of 1968 005

Just finished reading “Summer of ’68,” Tim Wendel’s retelling of the 1968 baseball season intertwined with the horrific series of events that happened while I was learning how to crawl: Assassinations of MLK & RFK, Vietnam War, racial riots in American cities, riots at the Democratic Convention, pretty much riots everywhere.

I much prefer nonfiction over fiction when I get a chance to read anything longer than the back of a cereal box. Here are some fascinating snippets I learned in the book:

1. The 1968 World Champion Detroit Tigers were credited with preventing their city from burning down that year.

Willie Horton 2

Slugger Willie Horton, not to be confused with the furloughed convict who brought down the Michael Dukakis presidential campaign, put his life on the line to keep peace in the streets. After a July 1967 night game at Tiger Stadium against the Yankees, Horton climbed up on the roof of his car (still in his baseball uniform) and pleaded with a crowd of rioters in his childhood neighborhood to go home and chill out. The rioters recognized Horton — and presumably respected him because he was not hurt — but they were not in the mood to listen to speeches. Continue reading

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May The Creative Force Be With You

Darren-Garnick-Elementary School-Drawing-r2d2

“Artoo-Detoo” – Mixed Media: Ink and Crayon (1977)

I don’t have a countdown clock for Star Wars VII and I’ve never cared whether Han Solo or Greedo Shot First, but it’s fair to say that my elementary school years were dominated by George Lucas.

Recently unearthing this early R2-D2 drawing from my archives reminded me of my all-time favorite activity: Standing up Star Wars figures (friend and foe) on a stone wall and pegging them down with a tennis ball. A variation of this theme was tying Star Wars figures to my skateboard (yes, I really used one) and sliding them down the big hill on my street. My goal was to see how well they survived the crash at the end, although miraculously my skateboard never collided with a Cadillac (thank God).

I also had an addiction to Topps Star Wars cards that rivaled my baseball card obsession.

Star Wars trash compactor card

Princess Leia Captured

The difference between baseball cards and Star Wars cards is that baseball cards never used exclamation points!

Looking over this memorabilia recharges my militant stance that this movie is still the first Star Wars and that it is not “Episode 4.”

Anyone who disagrees risks being tied to a skateboard.

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Dear Waze: Please don’t show me movie trailers while I am driving

waze

Dear Waze:

Driving in Boston is pretty stressful when you don’t know where you are going.

And so just telling us where to go instead of showing pop-up promo ads for sitcoms will reduce our odds of getting into an accident.

I fully realize you need to monetize your GPS app, but there’s gotta be a safer way.

Love,

Darren

XOXOXOXOXO

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Robin is Retiring… But the Garnick Justice League is Stronger Than Ever

The Boy Wonder Bids Farewell

The Boy Wonder Bids Farewell

No matter how worthy the cause, my rule is that you can only (aggressively) bang on the same friends’ doors for donations once a year. Go beyond that and they won’t be thinking of you as altruistic. They’ll stop taking your phone calls.

For the past four years, I’ve run in the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth (CHaD) HERO race with my kids in superhero costumes. No parent ever wants to get to know the inside of a children’s hospital, and unfortunately, I’ve spent way too much time there.

Having a strong personal connection to a charity — and sharing it — is probably the most effective fundraising approach possible. People that I’ve chosen to share my story with have been exceptionally generous. However, a few months ago, I also tapped deep into my network to support One Run For Boston, a fundraising race to help victims of the Boston Marathon terror attacks.

This is an issue that’s surfaced with the soaring popularity of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. How can you pit one charity up against another? People only have so much to donate. How do you weigh the merits of helping a bombing victim with a prosthetic limb vs. a baby who needs to eat with a feeding tube?

Again, you can’t ask everyone you know to support everything you care about or every charity event you participate in. Most of the time I resolve this by making a modest donation (whatever I can afford) to charity events I’m part of — or figure out how to contribute in volunteer hours — and don’t “bother” others.

I’m making an exception this time.

The superhero race is my way of expressing gratitude that I have to spend far less time in children’s hospitals these days. My family does not even use CHaD at all currently, but I want to support other parents who unexpectedly feel like they were smacked in the face with a brick.

On a lighthearted note, one of my family’s most important decisions will be which heroes to be this year. Last year, my son was Wolverine, my daughter was Robin the Girl Wonder, and I was Robin the Boy Wonder for the second time in a row. It’s time to retire the mask, but the Garnick Justice League will be coming back stronger than ever this year!

Those of you who know my story can support us in the October 26th CHaD race at my team page.

Those of you unfamiliar with CHaD or who are stumbling on my blog for the first time can still help an amazing cause.

As for our new alter-egos… stay tuned!

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Am I the slowest runner EVER?

Slowest run ever? These stats speak for themselves.

Slowest run ever? These stats speak for themselves.

According to my RunKeeper app, I just ran 1.1 miles in 36 hours and 7 minutes. That translates to a 32 hour, 56 minute mile.

The sports world was amazed when Roger Bannister first ran a 4-minute mile in 1954.

Moroccan Olympic gold medalist Hicham El Guerrouj now owns the world record for the mile at 3 minutes 43 seconds (watch him do it).

So how did I wind up taking 527 times as long as Mr. El Guerrouj to strut a mere four laps around my local high school track?

Forgetting to shut off the RunKeeper app will do that to you.

P.S. The world record for the Beer Mile — an insane competition requiring runners to chug a can of beer every quarter mile — is 4 minutes 57 seconds.

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I was poet Emily Dickinson in a past life

emily dickinson past life

I took Brainfall.com’s personality/reincarnation quiz and their proprietary past-life algorithm matched me up with Emily Dickinson. Perhaps it has something to do with the formative years I spent in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Brainfall’s assessment:

“Ahh, you have the heart of a true poet. Deeply introspective and keenly sensitive even to the most subtle of life’s nuances, you may one day produce a work of staggering artistic genius at some point – You’re gonna get right on that, right?”

I really don’t see the parallels since Dickinson never wrote one word about baseball or “Welcome Back Kotter,” but more importantly, ever notice that no one was ever the guy shoveling horse manure in a past life?

An open question to the reincarnation experts out there: How is it possible that all of us were famous in years past, but we got stuck with our boring underachiever selves in this century?

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Dear John Henry: Last Place Teams Should Have First Place Service

Sox tickets jon lester 2014

Dear John Henry:

This is my souvenir ticket stub from Tuesday night, Jon Lester’s second-to-last game in a Red Sox uniform.

I went to Fenway Park expecting no issues getting a seat to watch a last place team. I was so wrong. Unlike other evenings when I’ve purchased Standing Room tix, this game really was sold out. Wall to wall people — a wonderful sign of a faithful fan base.

The line at the Game Day ticket office on Lansdowne Street extended the full length of the Green Monster, meaning that I was guaranteed to miss an inning or two. I didn’t care. I was meeting a childhood friend who I don’t see often and the ballpark is my favorite place to hangout.

But Fenway’s charming atmosphere shattered the moment I handed over my credit card. After I signed the receipt and put the pen down, I heard the ticket agent behind the bulletproof banker’s window mumble something I couldn’t understand. I smiled at him, said “thank you” and started to walk away.

“I SAID, PUT THE PEN BACK UNDERNEATH THE WINDOW!!!” he yelled through the glass.

His angry facial expression and tone would be appropriate if I had been trying to steal something from the Red Sox gift shop. I told him to chill out and walked away, trying my best to forget this unfortunate “Welcome to Fenway.”

Oh, I still had a good time and have a thick skin, but even if I had tried to steal your employee’s 10-cent pen, do you think this is the first impression Red Sox fans should get when they go through the turnstile? Continue reading

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