A Toast to Teachers and QBs

Random thoughts about life in Los Angeles, the first-day-of-fall edition:

  • Best thing about Los Angeles: the people.
  • Worst thing about Los Angeles: the people.
  • All issues are education issues.
  • I’ve never seen L.A.’s hillsides this green in September.

“If his IQ slips any lower, we’ll have to water him twice a day.” (legendary columnist Molly Ivins on a Texas politician)

  • When all else fails – the climate, the political system — we still have pets.
  • My latest innovation: The Chicago-style martini.
  • I’d still hire Sean McVay over any other NFL coach.
  • September’s finest smell: sharpened pencils.
  • Wait, do students still use pencils?
  • In L.A., the mountains are our greatest architecture.
  • Apparently, they’re the only things our idiot developers can’t mow down.
  • No one changes a young life the way a good teacher can. Nobody.
  • Well, maybe a good mom or dad.
  • Or a columnist (of course).
  • The best ambient lighting? Sunshine off the water.
  • Second-best ambient lighting: A first-grader’s smile.
  • Can you believe the Pac-12 is gone?
  • What’s next? Surfing? Sunsets? The double-double at In-N-Out?
  • If colleges won’t do the right thing, who will?
  • The Big 10 swallowing up the Pac-12 reminds me of when the Chicago Trib ate the Los Angeles Times.
  • And look how well that turned out.
  • Write this down: Greed ruins everything.
  • And write this down too: In five years, USC and UCLA will regret leaving.
  • Sean McVay for president.
  • Condolences to Aaron Rodgers, the NFL’s “Cool Hand Luke.”
  • Love him or loathe him, he made the Jets interesting.
  • By the way, blame the stiff new shoe, not the turf, for his torn achilles.
  • My GOAT list: Joe Montana, Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes.
  • Don’t panic; it’s my list, not yours.
  • But Jim Morrison was the best rock ’n’ roller ever.
  • Runner-up: Jagger.
  • Second runner-up: Robert Plant.
  • My list, not yours.

“In school we are mostly told, ‘Don’t do it this way. Do it that way.’ But art is the big yes. In art, you get a chance to make something where there was nothing.” (poet Marvin Bell)

  • Takeaway: Never take advice from poets.
  • Or newspaper columnists.
  • September birthdays: Bruce Springsteen, 74; Hugh Grant, 63; Keanu Reeves, 59; Beyonce, 42; Zendaya, 27.
  • Youth is a type of beauty. So is wisdom.
  • To me, Hawkeye Pierce was the best TV character of all time.
  • Runner-up: Mary Richards.
  • Both characters represented the best of us.

“I succeeded by saying what everyone else is thinking.” (Joan Rivers)

  • The Christmas episode of “The Bear” is the finest ensemble acting I’ve ever seen.
  • But then I’ve only been watching TV for, like, 60 years.
  • My feminist Hall of Fame: Mary Shelley, Nettie Stevens, Marie Currie, Maria Mitchell, Joan Rivers.
  • Wouldn’t a young Robert Downey Jr. have been sensational as Holden Caulfield?
  • Trivia question: What year was “Catcher in the Rye” first made into a film?
  • Note how Hollywood often butchers great novels. But it also gave us “The Wizard of Oz.”
  • Trivia answer: “The Catcher in the Rye” never made the big screen; J.D. Salinger refused to sell the rights.

“We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible.” (Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.)

  • The Chicago Bears are the love of my life.
  • It’s been a tough life.
  • Wish I’d been a teacher.
  • My biggest gripe about social media: It amplifies all the whining.
  • America wasn’t built on whining.
  • Then again, don’t forget the Boston Tea Party.
  • In a perfect world, dogs could talk.
  • Trivia question II: Who invented true love?
  • If I ever move, Traverse City, Michigan, will be high on the list.
  • So will Cayucos, on California’s central coast, which has the same flinty light.
  • And Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.
  • FYI, I’m never moving. I’d miss the freeways too much. And Damon’s in Glendale.
  • Porto’s too.
  • Trivia answer II: George Halas, inventor of the forward pass.
  • Yeah, football rules my heart.

“Hold on tight, baby. The sun is coming for you.” (author Erin Van Vuren, on hanging tough in dark times)

  • Another tip: Life will always be dark, unfair, a little too hard.
  • Fight on!
  • Go Bruins!
  • Go Dodgers!
  • Go Rams!
  • Go Bears!
  • Class dismissed.

Email me at Letters@chriserskineLA.com.

Bear book signing calendar, with Steve Searles and me:

Oct. 3 Vroman’s on Colorado, 7 pm

Oct. 4 Barnes & Nobel, the Grove, 7 pm

Oct. 6 {Pages} A Bookstore, Manhattan Beach, 7 pm, a ticketed event. Click here for info. FYI, ticket includes a copy of the book.

Oct. 7 Mammoth Library, Mammoth Lakes, 2 pm.

21 thoughts on “A Toast to Teachers and QBs

  1. Love this list! And yes, I would vote for Sean. In case nobody has told you, Chris, you ARE a teacher. A great teacher makes you think. You always make me think about life in new ways.

    1. Damon’s and Porto’s yes! Teaching…not so much. While teaching is extremely important, it is not valued. In most states, teachers are paid crap wages. Increasingly, teachers are caught in a crossfire between entitled parents and a corrupt culture. The inmates are running the asylum.

  2. Okay, you had me from the start Chris, especially with “football rules my heart.” Then you ruined everything with “Go Bruins!” What?? This is Los Angeles and football in Los Angeles is and always will be USC. Please go have another gin and tonic and rethink your position for the love that is football. Yeah, I know, your list not mine. Fight On!

  3. I lived in the Bay Area 1980-1991, so got to see Joe Montana in all his greatness! You’re right Chris, he is the GOAT!

  4. I don’t know a thing about football, but I agree with you 100% about the Christmas episode of “The Bear.”

  5. So happy that Cayucos made your list! Next time you go, be sure to have clam chowder at Duckie’s, then walk out on the pier and look down to watch the wet-suited surfers waiting for the right waves. Sometimes a seal will be hanging out with the surfers. Definitely bring the dog, who is surely missing Smartacus – it’s a totally dog-friendly town. But if you don’t bring the dog, you and your Lady Love can book an upstairs room at On the Beach Bed and Breakfast, and you will be very happy indeed!

  6. Please share your Chicago martini. I live here & I don’t know about this marvelous-sounding concoction!

  7. Hmmmm. At a time near the equinox when Summer’s last fitful breaths of heat punctuate the manila-enveloping slide into autumn light across the basin from Baldy to Santa Monica ( whew!), we have these Burbank Biblicals from The Oracle Of The Ordinary. It makes you think….

    Me? I just returned from a Chi-town north shore reunion in a place where a mention of The Cubbies or The Bears elicits a long yearning sigh. There followed an excursion to F. Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin and to Milwaukee, the latter a living museum where history is not razed but polished and given a spin, and used alongside much gleaming modernity. It all somehow beautifully fits together. We walked and walked the sprawling down town wards,, trolleyed (free, modern, quick regular public transit), and interacted with the open, compulsively friendly faces ( that mid-western vibe) we met everywhere. What we did not see: street people, homeless, sidewalk housing; no derelict druggies; no panhandlers Anywhere. NOT ONE. There were flower beds embedded in downdown sidewalks. There were no piles of trash, no debris. We saw not one scrap of paper in hours and hours of walking, even on the river walk. NOT ONE. It’s a big city. Maybe it’s the climate…It makes you think.

  8. …and one thought is…

    I Awake To Life

    I awoke this morning on a lovely
    Morning in the quiet adorning
    Of the mornings to be, wide open
    The light spreading over the room—
    Tranquility promising eden;
    The rhythms the silence held in its arms
    Seemed smooth, not swift, or incantatory
    Light had yawned and spread bright wings
    And my watch—like a cat—seemed to purr
    My lover, like breath, humming with music;

    I would stop time at this sweet day
    Perfection belief, never adjourning
    The moments that seem like cinnamon
    How could the ticking clock ever presume
    To start up the now, stunned by the then?
    The air is cool, but the light warms
    Surfaces as if telling a story
    My bed a choir loft—Oh! How it sings
    All things are all in—none could demur
    Another day in the life—how terrific!

    A day like this makes you think.

  9. You would have been an outstanding teacher, and I think you would have loved the profession. But as you know, you can never trust those principals and superintendents . . . they could have really gotten on your nerves. I know some principals who would have echoed nearly every non-Chicago-themed item on your list. Maybe that would have been your path too. And on that note, if you haven’t read The Midnight Library, it’s worth adding to your list. Thanks, as always.

    1. I never handled authority very well. But I’ve known some great principals and superintendents in my time. Oh well, that ship has passed. I was lucky to be able to coach, which provided some of the same joys.

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