Man on The Spot: Giants 3, Surveillance State 2
Bruce Bochy said Joe Panic sat for nine innings and then came up and squared the ball for a run and the win Friday night against the LA Angels.
Santiago Casia did in holding them to a run and might have had the win if Pagan had been able to get the ball out of his glove the first time he tried. And what with his good arm he could have got the out Thursday night, the night we, my friend Ginny and I, had hurried down to San Francisco.
We were there to hear Robert Sheer detail the unforeseen but intimate progression of the surveillance state to the fellow travelers of liberal corporate technology companies, who are more than happy to do the dirty work of snooping for them, just as Snowden heroically revealed Sheer was speaking along with a lawyer from the electronic privacy foundation at City Lights Books poetry events space, a room still hosting the indefatigable spirit of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, one of the few base line poets still held upright in the residual energy of the ‘big bang ‘ of the “Howl” generation.
A relatively compact gaggle of possibly progressive or at the very least so called independent thinkers had crammed into the traditionally limited confines of the poetry loft as well as the stairs leading up in order to hear Scheer lament our passion-free surrender of all notion of individual privacy and introduce his new book, They Know Everything About You and subtitled How Data – Collecting Corporations and Snooping Government Agencies are Destroying Democracy. The cover illustration is a chart with the silhouette of a man with tag lines to his occupation, salary, recent phone calls with their duration and content,mortgage payment, recent purchases, blood pressure and everything else.
Silicon Valley’s seemingly progressive tech companies are in cahoots “to create a brave new world of wired tyranny” and that world already exists and to keep our ‘fix’ of acquiring ‘the right stuff’ easily we have surrendered entrance to our individual autonomous realities and most of us don’t care enough to resist or follow the example of that dwindling posse of whistleblowers being hounded bleak heartedly by the Obama administration.
Sheer told us that he enjoyed and used the current availability of information devices that made it possible to gather information without having to take the number two subway to the New York City Library. However it comes at the cost of ‘them’(they) knowing every little eccentric thing about us. And if we don’t live in a technologically advanced country then they are the drone eye in the sky checking out if they so decide our every so called ‘free ‘ movement.
“With the dominance of the internet….we have been overwhelmed with the illusion that surveillance and freedom are compatible”
“Even now in the early phase of mapping our minds––this more precise entry point into the mind of the consumer––this access to our thoughts already exceeds the powers of the most invasive Big Brother government that Orwell imagined. At the command of internet-driven signals people everywhere in the world have been willing to abandon the concerns and safeguards of privacy developed painstakingly throughout human history for the convenience of plucking that perfect item off a virtual shelf and paying for it without looking up from their “…for the convenience of finding the best local diner, we surrender the most important piece of information a secret police ever wanted to have on the population it was surveilling — one’s physical location…’can we use your location’ the device messages. Yet from the start… tracking one’s journey –– actual as well as virtual–– is routinely realized, achieving what oppressive governments had never even fantasized about attaining.”
THE BALL GAME
The Giants’ game the next night with that inter-league bogey on the radar gun but rarely in the same ball park -– the L.A.Angels–– would be for us a last minute possibility following the pilgrimage trail of Muni buses traversed by this paper’s editor and arriving on the #47 at the last stop which was a couple of blocks from AT&T Park.
My companion, Ginny, warned me not to try to go through the metal detector line run by women as they would not fall for my country bumpkin line that the work knife and multi-tool were merely part of the rural work life and shouldn’t be considered contraband and dangerous but could be safely stored downstairs somewhere till after the game. Forget about it! It’s not.
But when whining to a security guy who clearly had developed an enduring tolerance of the meatloaf behavior of people like me he directed me to across the street where there was a bar which would for a consideration sometimes put stupid stuff people brought to the game behind the bar until the people who should know better came back to claim it. And sure enough they Walking back to the stadium at the stepping -over -people- to-get to -your- seat time I steadied into a hobble -along trot remembering I have a stepdaughter who gave birth to her own daughter named Madison the day Madison Bumgarner hit his grand slam and she would never believe I’d been there without a ‘selfie.’ Instead I took a picture of my thriving seat neighbors.
Not to mention that my friend Gretchen had the previous week been featured on the league website by her nice catch of a foul ball. These thoughts reminded me this is why we hurry to the game. it always has a chance of being a participatory sport for anyone below the nose bleed.
We of course were in fact seriously in the nose bleed upper section of the stands but pretty much behind home plate and with the best view in the city of the bay on a clear and drought-riven unseasonably warm night. We also had the equivalent box seat view of balls and strikes from the giant tv screen beyond the outfield.
My seat mates just in front and just behind were young Hispanic American couples who exemplified the heritage of the current wave of great young players descendant of kids like the ones I met while filming a documentary about Sandinista Nicaragua who would do whatever it took to play catch-and throw including catching and throwing with the same hand if that was the only glove available; possibly instilling those lightening quick reflexes in the genetic code.
We were offered popcorn by the couple in front and when it got San Francisco chilly by the sixth inning and I fumbled for another dollar bill to make the exorbitant six dollar hot chocolate price (served out of a back pack container not unlike what some small time ‘growers’ in the eighties used to water their plants); one of the young women behind said “times are hard now” and offered up a dollar to the vendor-who it should be said could have humbled any of the zillion dollar a year athletes on the field with the number of times he could run up and down the stadium stairs. I thanked her but didn’t accept so in the eighth inning I had a cup of chocolate placed in my hand which as I thanked her “was the best cup hot chocolate I’d ever had!”
And it was great to stand and stamp my feet and cheer when appropriate with Giant Nation.
However after some unlikely bad ball-handling by the usually adept Brandon Crawford, shortstop, and Angel Pagan, center fielder, the score was tied in the ninth. And lest we forget, the Angel’s pitcher, C.J. Wilson, (who found L.A. where money grows on palms) had pitched for the same Texas Rangers featured in a World Series game in Arlington, noticed in this paper, when the presumably non Mendo-lib fans at Dick’s bar in Mendocino saw the camera pan around to ex-President Bush close behind home plate. That’s when the entire gaggle of patrons rose as one and the America finger accelerated explosively in the air breaking the sound barrier with a whoosh. And those same patrons provided their own caustic commentary on America.
But on Friday at the bottom of the ninth, the symbolically named Joe Panic, as Bochy said, got off the bench after nine innings and calmly drove in the winning run.
As we were being herded down the giant walkway to the exit, the escalator being so to speak, “down” a man walking beside me and with an accent I couldn’t place, gestured to this amazing crowd of all percolations and persuasions and said, “This is what American should be.”
And I felt despite what Bob Scheer says about the consuming public there is still plenty of hope in the nosebleed sections of this country and despite my awe and respect for City Lights, maybe they should have a giant flat-screen TV but only on for Giant’s games.