Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Postcards from the Other Side

I get comments. Quite an impressive number of them for a blog that no one really reads. I get encouraging thoughts and observations. Slimbo helps out a lot, and I love his art work, his observations about his life and obsessions. But other people, people whom I don't know, will check in and tell me they like what I do. That's great. Even my Mom comments in an encouraging fashion from time to time, posing as Anonymous, but I can recognize her voice through the vast series of tubes comprising the Internet. I can't tell you how often I feel like chucking this in, and someone out there will say something interesting or, even better, offer a correction concerning a Jets player about whom I've written.

I get other kinds of commenting - spam, of course. Great stuff, really. Sometimes it's in Chinese, Russian or German. Not long after I wrote about Rex Ryan's love for his lovely wife's feet, I received a comment that began with the following:

"Willkommen im Sex-Community...."

I am absolutely certain that a foreign language porn film from the 70's that, as a teenager, I managed to see through the static of primitive parental controls on our cable box, began with that very line. Welcome to the Sex Community. Germany's such a sexy culture. Kind of.

Or how about this one that starts with:

I sit in the car for about 30minutes when I see my wife and her girlfriend come out...

Stop right there. It's a revenge tragedy. It's an episode of "Red Shoes Diary." It's an old college friend's drunken fantasy designed to enliven his marriage. It's a case of mistaken identity. I love it. I see it going directly to DVD.

I know it's spam when it starts with this:

I love edlsjets.blogspot.com! Here I always find a lot of helpful information for myself.

Ah! Caught you! No you don't. I know you don't. I am absolutely certain that nothing that I offer here is even remotely helpful to you. That is not the point of this blog. Other blogs offer constructive, guiding, redeeming advice and discourse on a number of relevant topics. Again, that is not the purpose of what we do here.

I hit the mother lode of spam back in 2008 when we did the piece on the Booth Lusteg Winners for Funniest-Sounding names. It might be because I cut and pasted the word "hayseed" from dictionary.com, or maybe my lucky number just came up, but I received 37 comments (one or two is more the norm, and one of them is usually me replying) - all spam - offering everything under the sun. Someday, after global warming has its way with us, after the Big Melt, they'll wonder what preoccupied Western culture in its last days. This list of comments gives us some insight: references to free online movies, mail order drugs, Christian lesbian pen pals, something from Vooptomesog, hot Rolex watches, "britney spears butt flash at starbucks," blood for cash, cash for female breast hormones, how to eat selfish (sic) without fear of allergies, penis enlargement (of course), and an enticement for soliciting a New York City escort: "Coming out of the worldly tensions and monotony is just possible with the gracious presence of the New York escort services girls." It's just possible.

There was plenty more, though. Something from a guy named "Marshall," who just thought he'd give a reach-out. There were plenty of offers for online gambling. There was interesting minutiae related to the Man United kit through the years that somehow made its way to this blog, like an errant piece of information heard through shortwave radio. Lots of reminders to play online bingo. And though a guy named "Roland" wasn't sure whether or not the mystery product he believes in is available outside Australia, he just can't get the sound out of his head, and apparently he made out "like a bandit." Would that we all could.


It's not often, but every once in a while, we'll get mail in the Infinite Jets bag that comes from the other side of the playing fields of my memory - mail from real people and not just figments of my imagination. Often these are written on behalf of someone I've discussed in the Numbers and Names, the New York Jets By the Numbers, or whatever I'm calling it these days.

Of course, of course, of course I realize that each and every human being who wore a Jets uniform had a life after they left the Jets, and sometimes, if I can get information on such things, I'll include it. After all, these men are human beings, and if there is one thing I have tried to communicate on this blog it's just how brief their careers in football are, if not with the Jets. But I only know about as much as my limited attention span and my day job can afford me, and often that's simply not enough. When people write in with additional information, it's fantastic.

For example, when I wrote about Jim Richards #26 in the nearly endless list of 26's, I got a helpful comment alerting me to his service in the army and his eventual success as an engineer. Whether it was written by Richards himself or a friend or family member, I don't know. We sometimes picture these players in some kind of purgatorial place where young men are always players and somehow their dreams were lost to the winds of Fate. But it's not true. That's nonsense, and I know it. I appreciate it when people fill in the gaps. After all, the web's information is long-lasting. Although no one reads my cave scrawlings, they will nevertheless survive through a great deal of time, perhaps even past the Big Melt, provided that a post-apocalyptic Earth has at least dial-up somewhere.

Or there was the time that, in response to my query to the universe about Dainard Paulson #40, I received the comment that he was living in Seattle and that the commenter had been a happy guest in his home "several years ago." And I found that comforting. It was a simple, clear statement without much color, but it gives you the sense of someone real and decent.

And then the other day, a commenter, saying that he was Michael Marvaso, son of #47 Tommy Marvaso, wrote quite declaratively, that I was a "joke." I had, again, with the limited means with which I work alone in my cave, written only about Marvaso's exploits with the Jets in terms of a single play I was able to find online - a YouTube clip of him getting beat for a pass against the Redksins in 1976. Marvaso the Younger wrote:

"You scour the internet to find one pass of him getting beat and decide to put your two cents in on his entire career? Go look harder and you will find his tackling Walter Peyton, OJ Simpson, making John Riggins fumble. Let me tell you something about why Tommy Marvaso was only in the league for 2 years, Chief. He knew that he was not going to live the rest of his live on the money they were making back then. So he went back to school got like 5 degrees and became an executive at Bell Atlantic then continuing to Work for the second largest engineering company in the world . Now he lives the life you dream about and non of it came from football."

I want to make something abundantly clear; although I did not mean to write critically about Mr. Marvaso's father, he certainly construed it that way, and I understand why he's angry. Let me tell you something. If some punk kid wrote online about my father's career in terms of one decision he made, one gaffe, one wrong turn, I would probably be pissed, too. I happen to believe my father is one of the best people alive, so I too would reply to someone who even appeared to suggest otherwise. I might not necessarily make reference to other things that Michael Marvaso makes reference to (yeesh), but I would want to set the record straight. So, I appreciate it, Michael. Thank you.

One thing he took particular exception to was my saying "Gone for good, Tommy." Again, I get why he's mad, but I really didn't mean to suggest something disrespectful to his dad. I was suggesting that gone for good is a feeling, a notion of what it means to be a Jets fan. That didn't get through. Much of this is often an exercise in writing, in thinking aloud, but I realize Tommy Marvaso had a life after football, and now I know it was obviously a successful one. Jesus, I would hope so. But that sense of something being gone for good is what being a Jets fan is, and it appeared a good phrase to use. I'm sorry that it didn't seem that way.

And history is not fair. As he points out, we don't get to see his dad play as well as he really did; I only found a fragment of something online that came in passing. That's not fair at all.

But to reply to the comment in full - no, I never really wanted to be a jock growing up. I never was. I never fit in with athletes but never felt like a loser because of it. I write here about the names and numbers as only as they exist to me in my memory, like the Tramalfadorians in Billy Pilgrim's head. They are the way I gauge the passage of time, the past, the present. But yes, fortunately, I do have a life. I am not a legend that I know of, but if I were, I would think I would probably be one to someone other than my own mother (a very loving mother, nonetheless). And I have a rather happy life, actually. This list of Jets goes on, with or without knowing what happened when the names eventually got separated from the numbers. But that's because as a fan, most players have only the value of what they offered in their uniform. However, I do know these names represent people who are worth far more to their friends and family, and I always appreciate it when someone reminds me of that.


Slimbo said...

Dearest one, I am writing to you as you wrote a post on my father N'Khali Hamal, who wore #22 for the Jets of New York and was subsequently Head of Treasury for the government of Nigeria. Dearest one, my father has passed away and there are millions of dollars in government bank accounts I cannot gain entry to. If you would kindly provide me your banking info....

Martin Roche said...

Anything for a former Jet. I will send you my bank account # and also several credit card #'s to keep you afloat in the meantime. I am grateful that you have found me. May God bless and keep you.