Apr 14, 2007


We go to Turlock, which is below Modesto, above Fresno, underneath light rain, east of nothing, west of the Sierra, I'm sitting in a Travel Lodge lounge, is that the right word, with a silent TV and a Patel behind the desk. Dash's team won their game this morning. That puts them in the final four tomorrow, out of 73 teams for the state cup. It's an interesting accomplishment for a little white kid on an all Latino team, like his brother on an all black team. They've been lucky that way.

Meanwhile, the Indian woman behind the desk is swamped by soccer parents. And now everything is going wrong. In one room, a door lock won't open; in another, no towels; in another, the movie won't play... The Panther parents don't come to games. They can't afford it, they have no transportation, they have to take an odd job whenever they can, even today. But here these parents battering the poor woman behind the desk are wealthy. This is their job, going to the games, getting their kids hyped, trained. As if all their money will make the kids more talented. They come from Santa Clara and Santa Cruz, from cities with the names of a culture that's now behind the teams beating them one after another. The white kids that pump and strump are no match for the Mexican American kids, who play with pessemism, without much hope, but relentlessly, as though this is all they'll ever have. And of course that's true to some degree.

It's all the caucasian kids may have as well but they don't know that yet, they can't imagine.

Perhaps the Indian understands these subplots. I believe she does. She speaks the language well, she's endlessly tolerant. She watches closely. She has layers of interaction. Not like her husband. He has a short temper and after a couple of days I realize his ill temper is semi permanent. He's particularly tempermental when people ask for an internet rate, which he tries to explain was a mistake. So there is a long negotiation with each family. He's running on a tight margin. He has to fight for every penny, to pay all the maids, to wash all the towels. He doesn't have the time or money to fix the tear in the chain link fence behind the buildings and put back the thick wooden slab to keep out the mice and rats. And now is an important moment: When the state cup is over there'll be a long stretch of unused rooms. The clientel will go back to meth brained tanker truckers with their Latin dollies, four hours for $100. Or traveling salesmen come to Turlock to feast on the new businesses springing up. It's a long way from the Grapes of Wrath...

I go downtown for dinner. The only clear radio is "positice and encouraging KLOVE", Christian music rock, Love songs to the Healer, Loving you, my maker, save me from evil love and downward living.


The desire to love little dead men on little dead sticks had to change. Folks need something more hopeful, and more tactile. You don't want to fall in love with a corpse on a stick, even if it's Him. These days you want romantic love, spiritual love, endorphin love all wrapped up in one. A spritzer of sacred and profane, where you can hear the backbeat of sexual healing. Because after all, not if I'm Rosario riding meth-brained truckers to their little deaths or cleaning up the endless mess of anonymous families, if I'm her the analogy is enough, the representation is sufficient, but if I'm tattooed Andrea out at Kragen working 9 to 9 and my only fun on the job is creating the Mystery Oil display, and my old boyfriend went off to Iraq or El Lay, then I need some now-now in my life. I need Jesus to come in and do me, but the way He would, so it would be nice and gentle and he wouldn't leave right afterwards or tell me to go out and buy another pack of cigarettes and by the way bring back an Ultimate Cheeseburger, He would hold me and I'd feel so reassured and so young again. Because out here it's just tiring and you age fast and hard.


Dash goes off with his team to see 300, to get pumped, to believe... I'm stray deeper into Turlock, way of down East Main, and find Wellington Station. It's after 9 and about the last place you can find eats, even on a Saturday night. But this is no imitation English pub, this is real English food, the shephard's pie, the al dente vegetables and masked potatoes, without a hint of taste. Electronic dart board over on one wall, glasses hanging upside down above the bar, high boy little round tables, a few people at the bar, there's a Cal State a quarter mile on. On TV, it's extreme fighting from Manchester, EFFA sanctified, whatever you want, in your dreams mind rage and here's two Americans going at it, they're like in a cage, one's on top of the other, and you think it looks more like they're fucking then fighting because the one has his legs completely open and the other lies in between and they're head to head, you wonder what they're saying to each other, and by the way this is not like TV wrestling, this is for real, this is pain on parade. Finally, the ref gets them out of a corner, not because they're off the mat but because no action I suppose, 3 minutes no punch; break it up. So they do and then with time running out, the guy who's behind, judging by the reaction at the bar, kicks his opponent in the head with his foot, it's eessentially his heel bone on the temple. Well you could see the lights go right out like there was a power outage in Vegas, face goes dark, body goes down and you can see this, he's clunked, but that's no reason to stop and the hitter jumps on the body of the outted man and begins hitting him, they wear these little bikkini gloves, hitting him until the ref comes over and gets the put bull off and he raises both arms and comes to the camera to show his own bloddy mouth. One for the Pulver Team. This is a team sport. The Pulver team won with their last match. Oh my God, the girl at the bar who's been watching this goes, this has made her night, she was betting on Pulver and they won, and she said it first, they won, she knew they would, they had to and this last fighter pulled through, he was the underdog but he did and she knew he would, and now everything's okay for the entire evening for all of Saturday night, until tomorrow, when Church won't be a thought in her head, but her boy friend will give her a wakeup run and then he'll have to get right up and fix his hemi and get down to Fesno to get a rare part.

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