Oct 15, 2008

On Monday night, when Eric Wright picked off Eli Manning and took off for a 94-yard touch, the width of your nose from the sideline, like he was Nik Wallenda hustling down a high wire, and then the last five yards doing the old Deon Sanders carrioca prance, with right hand up in bebop mock protest and look-at-me delight, I went right back to 1999, when Wright was on the San Francisco Seahawks, the pride of the Filmore. Coach Greg was God to those kids and they'll never have a better coach. D was split out to the right, and second Q, and you can't believe how those kids ran the table, right to the Western regional championship in Reno. They shucked the bejesus out of a team from Alaska. 42 to 7, something like that. D caught a touch and I think threw for one, to the starting Q, or maybe it was just a great pass over the middle. Memory doesn’t serve but caught and threw is the point and Eric Wright probably got the game ball. I assume he did, although they had some other great players on that team.

The night before the game, in a cheap room high up over slotland, they all had a pillow fight and on the way up 80 in the bus, D, who was one of only two caucs on the team, won the football trivia contest. One of the questions was not, ‘What was the pop song the 49ers listened to in the team bus over and over on the way to their first super bowl?’ “This is it” by Kenny Loggins is the answer. But it was like that. After all, the bus is the best and worst of playing sports. It was the best that trip.

And the end of an era. The 49ers went 3 and 12 that year. All the greats had left the year before. The old expectations were being quietly discarded. Still, the dotcom bust was out of sight. Those kids from nowhere were still going down to Mooses’ and buying $350 bottles of wine, to go with hamburgers and fries. It was all cool and selfish. Just like now. And Da Mayor was getting the Chinese girls to wash his hair and sometimes caught a blow job from an available blonde in the backseat of a limo. He was also getting City Hall guilded up to look like the seat of the empire. And even then you didn’t have know Ozymandius to know how this was gonna turn out.

Now? Sentimentality is settling in. D is experiencing his first ‘last’ and the awful realization that something you once took for granted is now gone, something you would die ten times in a row to get back is gone. Meanwhile, another bust is in the air. The city is wobbly and nervous.

If you want to see how far the place has fallen, speaking of football, look at the 49ers. The Yorks have run the franchise down a rat hole. From top to bottom it’s gone amateur. JTO’ isn’t going to bring back this franchise. He'll give you a series, maybe even a game, but that's it. No more promise than roma girls with their good fortunes on neon signs out in the avenues. The city is quieting down and you think, well maybe it’ll do it some good.' But I doubt it.

And all the while I’m remembering playing tennis with my father on Samuel Goldwyn’s tennis court, that last time, in the late afternoon, in the smog and splendor, and afterwards he ate a quart of vanilla ice cream and out on the patio, on the rear deck of the Titanic, as he would say, we drank martinis like it was going out of style.

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