Sunday, February 28, 2021

Four Things I've Missed

Late last year I gave a talk to some colleagues about a number of topics. One of the topics that I addressed was things that I missed—things that I was not able to pursue or participate in given the stay-at-home orders, working from home, and the pandemic. So as I think about goals and dreams for 2021, a large part of my thinking is based on wanting to return to these things by the end of the year.

There are four things that I miss terribly but I hope to be able to return to and participate in again at some point in 2021. 

The first thing is live music. I've waxed and waned on this over the years, but I generally enjoy going to see bands and musicians perform. Whether I've lived in Chicago, Boston, New York City, or Los Angeles, I've always made it a practice to go see live music performances. In fact, one of my earliest pandemic memories was seeing an early streaming concert March 17, 2020, with the Dropkick Murphys—who had plans to have their annual St. Patrick's Day concert in Boston and were unable to do so. So they had a pop-up concert from an undisclosed location. (They're doing so again this year, too! I'll see you there.)

There a couple of shows that I've missed in the recent past that are regrets. This also helps inform my interest in returning to going to see live music. Not too long after we moved to Los Angeles, Caitlin and I had an opportunity to see Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros play in downtown Los Angeles. When the night arrived, we had forgotten we had tickets, we were tired after a long work day, and we didn't want to drive and park downtown, so we did not go. To this day, having lived here now more than a decade, I've yet to see Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. 

More recently, we had tickets to see The The, Matt Johnson's band, and his return to the stage as The The for the first time in years and years. Again, a very similar story: forgot we had tickets, long hard day at work, tired at the end of that day, didn't want to drive and park wherever we were going—and so we did not make it to the show. I regret that. So once we’re out of the pandemic, I’m going to see bands play at the drop of a hat. I'm torn, though, because I don't know how comfortable or confident I will be in a densely packed, warm club or bar with people drinking to see that music—but I do miss seeing live music.

Another concert we actually missed because of the pandemic was John K. Samson. We've already seen him and the Weakerthans several times. So that's Thing One that I miss—that I'd like to return to in 2021: live music. A jazz band, performance artist, slam poetry—any kind of live performance along those lines.

The second thing that I miss, that I hope to be able to return to and recover in the next year is going to see movies in movie theaters. I watch a lot of movies, whether streaming, on DVD, or on video tape, but there's something about watching a movie in a movie theater that is unlike watching it by yourself at home. So I plan to more actively support movie theaters once we're out of the pandemic and the need to stay at home as much as we do.

I miss midnight screenings at the Nuart. I miss going to the Old Town Music Hall to watch silents accompanied by the pipe organ there. I miss renting DVDs from Cinefile Video. And I miss just going to see whatever is showing on a given weekend. I also miss seasonal events like the Aero’s Horrorthon and the All-Night Horror Show at the New Beverly.

It's funny, though, because as I've aged, I like to go to movie theaters less unless I'm able to pick my seat and have a ticketed seat in advance. That's a weird thing to think about and get used to, because crowded theaters, if you're unable to sit with the people that you go with, are not as much fun. But nowadays, you can reserve a seat at almost any movie theater or at least many. 

So once we're out of the pandemic, I hope to resume going to movies in the movie theater. I don't know if it'll be once a week, but it'll certainly be more often than I did leading up to the pandemic. I realized I miss it so much.

The third thing that I miss is baseball. I don't even really like baseball as much as I like the idea of baseball. It's not even that I miss being able to go to games, but I miss there being games, and I miss being able to listen to games on the radio or online over the MLB app. So I miss baseball. I know that there are games. I know you can hear them now. But the fact that people aren't there makes a difference.

It's been interesting to see how baseball and major league sports have responded to this with paper cut-outs and fake fans in the stands, and airing broadcasts of games with crowd sounds piped in. It has been interesting to see how they tried to replace the people that are missing. So I miss baseball. Even though I might not actively or aggressively go to games, I will certainly be happy that there are games again with people attending, actual crowd noise, and what seems to be a more real or legitimate season for the sport side.

One side note: Every year I try to be a better baseball fan. What I experience is that I anticipate baseball, I'm excited once the season starts, and then I quickly lose interest and experience my general ongoing inability to follow a team, players, stats, or scores. I tune out and then I'll tune in multiple times over the season and have a rush of being aware of what's going on. But I don't really have a head for tracking a team and its performance over the course of the season. As much as I like the idea of baseball and as much as I like baseball itself, I don't really have the head for stats, scores, schedules, records, standings, and all of that. 

Every year in my efforts to be a better baseball fan, I pick a team that I resolve to follow. That's been a challenge since moving to Los Angeles because I had this ingrained bias against the Dodgers, having lived in Brooklyn for only five years. Part of that is a big team aversion. They're big enough. They've got enough fans. They don't need my support or help. They’re also big money, so they’ve bought good players. It'll most likely be a winning season or record year-over-year. Since moving here, the Dodgers don't really need my fandom, but I haven't really found a local team otherwise.

In recent years, I have followed the Cubs. I have followed the Red Sox. I’m more of an underdog follower. I’ve followed the Mets. I followed the Pirates last year. So this year, even though I was originally going to follow the Cardinals, I ended up deciding to wear my Dodgers cap. It's been hanging on a hook by the door for a couple of years now, and I haven't worn it yet. So I'm following the Dodgers. We’ll see what happens as the start of baseball nears. The general reporting date was Feb. 17, and the mandatory reporting date was Feb. 26. The baseball magazines should be out soon if they’re not already.

The last thing, the fourth and final thing that I hope to return to this year in 2021 is Scouting. We've continued Scouting during the pandemic from home and meeting with the unit and district via Zoom, Bluejeans, and Hangouts online, but I really miss the outdoor activities that Scouting brings to my life. I know that I can go hiking, backpacking, and camping by myself, with my family, with friends, but Scouting got me out into the field frequently, early and often. I miss that. There's something about being out of doors with a group, with a group of youth, that's magical. So I look forward to being able to resume Scouting more properly once this pandemic is over, as well.

Those are four high-level dreams and goals for 2021. I'd also like to talk a little bit about some other personal and professional goals that I have for the year—but that might warrant a separate post.

What do you miss? What do you hope to return to or do more of in 2021?

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