Monday, September 04, 2006

Reporting from St. Louis

Have you ever wondered how in the world there is enough food for all the people in the world to eat? Over the weekend I rode the Metrolink train from the Illinois outskirts into St. Louis. The Metrolink is disarmingly simple for a major city mass transit system. Instead of the typical spaghetti map composed of the primary colors assembled into an incomprehensible barrier to understanding, the metrolink map is one line with stations arranged along its path. Yes, that’s right. One graphic line. Perhaps it is a concession to the quality of the education in the St. Louis schools, but I think instead it is a good and simple way to layout a mass transit system.

Now back to the food question. Riding from my daughter’s house to the city, a distance of maybe twenty miles, we passed acres and acres of rolling corn and bean fields. Many more acres I’m confident than the acreage occupied by the city of St Louis. My daughter tells me this is the tip of the iceberg of farming in the region. I will wonder where all the food comes from never again; at least the corn and beans. I couldn’t help wondering about the lives lived on these farms. They are the quintessential photograph of American rural life; the white farm house with red barn and tall silo stationed in the geographic center of rolling green farmland. How would it be to call a farm like this your home?

I took the Metrolink to the airport yesterday. All the way from the farmlands, thru the length of the city, and arrived so late (because of a Cardinals game) I had to sprint through the airport like O.J. Simpson of long ago. Making matters worse, the TSA official wanted to hand check my carry-on bag. I guess because of my shaved head I looked the type to carry out a ruthless terrorist attack over the St. Louis arch. He was a young, muscular athletic appearing man. He found inside my carry on a couple of texts for training young sprinters in track and field. His face lit up like a kid at Christmas. Unfortunately this discovery turned into a track sprinter question and answer session, while I danced around and glanced at my watch nervously. Finally he bid me a good day; at least he did so to my rapidly disappearing butt that took off like the starters pistol had fired. I arrived at the gate in full sprint just as the boarding agent was giving me the ‘not on your life’ look. I sweet talked her. And as fate would have things, after I am the last person seated, (yes I know we all hate that guy) we then sat on the runway for 30 minutes waiting our turn to take-off.

I am a lifelong baseball fan. I am stuck with the Texas Rangers unfortunately. I lovingly refer to them as the Texas 500’s since they are paralyzed in a successive streak of .500 seasons. Give them credit for consistency anyway. If we lose today we are guaranteed a win tomorrow and a loss the next day, and so it goes.

They are more fortunate in St. Louis. It is a city with a treasure of baseball history and a love affair with the beloved Cardinals. Too much love in my opinion. We toured their new stadium on Saturday. People were lined up for entrance several hours before the game. Kids in Cardinal jerseys played baseball on the adjacent streets waiting for the gates to open. And then the pinnacle of Cardinal mania; the father, mother and three kid family all dressed in Cardinal jerseys and caps. Yes, these are grown men and women wearing “Pujols” and “Rolen” jerseys, the little tribe of red bejeweled baby cardinals following close behind, three small red caps following the two big red caps, like ducks along the banks of a lake, except in this case along the banks of Busch Stadium. I am a big baseball fan, but I mean COME ON! GET A LIFE, please.

I would like to nominate St. Louis for the easiest and best mass transit system I have seen. All of you in Philadelphia, New York and Chicago know what I am talking about! I don’t think anyone can really read the subway and bus maps in those cities. I doubt they are even correct. They don’t have to be; no one understands them anyway. I doubt also if they are ever updated. There is no point. Regulars know what to do by experience. Visitors ask questions of rude citizens and drivers. And guys like me end up at the Mets stadium by mistake instead of Yankee Stadium. At least there aren’t tribes of families dressed in Mets uniforms!


Blogger Jenn said...

We have a lot of corn and soy bean fields here in MN. Sad year...I was driving on the highway and passed a cornfield...looked pretty bad. All spindly and yellow. Made me sad for the farmers.

Oh...I had my own race through the airport last week. Except I was wearing flip-flops and a less than effective bra. Oh well. Still got some of the sprint left...I made it in time.

September 4, 2006 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger Enemy of the Republic said...

Go Chicago White Sox, do or die! Okay, the Cards are okay. My sympathies with you about the Rangers. Any love for the Astros? Not a bad team. In Chicago, we also have the Cubs, so I understand your pain. But long live the White Sox--Red Sox too. Just no New York Yankees, Mets okay. Pardon my poor grammer, but I love baseball too.

September 4, 2006 at 11:51 AM  
Anonymous lynilu said...

The only transit system I've ridden (since KC prefers to stay in the dark ages of mass transit systems) in the MARTA in Atlanta. I liked it, but I only rode one leg from my daughter's house downtown and back. I liked it, but looking at the full map, I'm glad I didn't want to another destination! Yes, St. Louis' system makes sense and when added to at a later date, it will hopefully grow as logically as it was born.

Welcome back!

Thanks to beta blogger (damn, why did I do that??) I can't comment as a blogger, but you know who I am.

September 4, 2006 at 11:55 AM  
Blogger Ilias- said...

Ever been to Wrigley Field? A lovely place to be where the Flubs, I mean Cubs, play. :^)

September 4, 2006 at 1:31 PM  
Blogger Seven said...

Consider sprinting in an airport in flip flops and flimsy bra to be good training for later. Imagine a jog bra and sprint spikes. You will feel so much faster! It was probably an attention getter too! I actually had a young girl yell out that stupid phrase "Run Forest Run" If I had not been late I would've stopped and decked her...well maybe not, but at least a mean look from a strong bald headed man might have shook her up....I guess I was in no mood for merry makers...

Mrs. Enemy,
I love Ozzie Guillen. He will pitch a guy 9 innings and ignore the big deal closer. He will hit batters in retaliation and then say "yep, we hit him cuz they hit our guy". He can talk so fast I can't understand him and somehow it seems OK. I love the 'NO PC' from me 'cuz it's just bullshit' attitude and I wish him the best. Go Sox. Kick butt Ozzie.
So far as the Astros, I've never liked them much and I don't like the new stadium one bit. However they used a first round draft selection on one of my long time players/students two years ago and he is well on his way to playing some day for the Astros. I better start liking them cuz I know he expects me to be there. (Hunter Pence, playing at AA for the Corpus Christi Hooks) and the best part; he's a great kid!

I heard some other bloggers talking about Atlanta's MARTA recently, but I haven't experienced that system. I did really like the St. Louis system!

I ran by it once on a jog thru Chicago during a business trip, but it was the off season. Someday though, someday. If they wait on me! I did see some great photos of Harry Caray at Busch Stadium (pre Cubs when he announced for the Cards)

September 4, 2006 at 4:04 PM  
Anonymous Rob said...

7, ah baseball, one of my favorite B's. You already know two of the others.
Having grown up in New England and listened to Ted Williams last home run in his last home game (wow), you surmise that I am a Red Sox fan. Indeed, I have my Veritek t-shirt and subscription to MLB audio on my laptop. His injury/ absence is THE reason why the Red Sox are in a tailspin, not that crow which waddled tauntingly between first and second base some weeks back. More later on my first Fenway Park memory thanks to my Dad.

September 4, 2006 at 6:32 PM  
Blogger Grant said...

Our Atlanta rail system is similarly simple - one E-W line, one N-S line that splits at the ends for a little extra coverage. It all makes me glad I have my own car.

September 4, 2006 at 6:36 PM  
Blogger Seven said...

I think the Red Sox are a necessity to keep the obnoxious Yankee fans in check, but I gotta tell you that when the Red Sox come to Arlington to play the 500's their fans are the WORST!! Sometimes it seems like their are as many as the Rangers have at a Rangers HOME GAME. And they are loud and obnoxious...oh well, at least the Sox are loved.....

September 4, 2006 at 6:38 PM  
Blogger Seven said...

Yep everyone in DFW drives a car....sometimes a bad thing...well, often a bad thing....well, OK always a bad thing...

September 4, 2006 at 6:39 PM  
Blogger patti_cake said...

Boston's T is no picnic to navigate either. I think it was designed by a blind man with no legs. Glad you made your plane safely (and how COULD she resist a sweet-talkin' Seven?)

September 5, 2006 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

You only saw a tiny fraction of the corn and soybeans grown in this country. It goes on for hundreds of miles! And the lifestyle is, in a word, simple. Reap what you sow, pray for rain and not too much of it.

September 6, 2006 at 10:16 AM  

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