View From the Head of the Charles

Unfortunately, I have not been posting with the frequency I would like lately. I have been working on a new layout for the site so that has been the thing primarily impacting the installments. This was brought to my attention by the proxy of a Tennessee resident (you know who you are). So, I am dedicating this weeks posts, all three, in honor of her. Thanks for the feedback though. I hope you enjoy.

Photo: Head of the Charles

This past weekend Cambridge/Boston held the annual Head of the Charles. Not being a native I was keenly interested in the spectacle of this rowing regatta. Around here and in the world of crew, this is a big deal. For the uninitiated, Head of the Charles is the world’s largest regatta. It is indeed a world class affair with over 7000 participants from around the globe, competing in 24 different race categories. This year was the 40 anniversary.

Photo: Eight Woman Crew Competing in the Head of the Charles

I have to admit I knew nothing about the event prior, although I have always been mildly interested in the sport. It definitely has a quality jargon. Head races are races against the clock, so there are few duels on the water. The boats are released at intervals. However, there can be some passing. This is particularly exciting in the team events with the competing coxswains barking at their respective crews to pull faster. Although with the river bends and arch bridges you don’t see a whole lot of this on the Charles.

Photo: Eight Man Crew competing in the Head of the Charles

Most fascinating is the turnout. Something in the neighborhood of 300,000 people will walk along the banks of the Charles River to have a peek at the scullers driving their vessels with a clockwork cadence. It is a serious two-day festival with food and activities aplenty all along the riverbank. I could never have imagined so many people would attend a rowing race. As fascinated as I might be by the whole thing, it was surprising to see the size of the crowds. I have a suspicion that most of them are involved in the sport in some capacity. With all the club and university crew jackets on display it was hard to no think that this is the pinnacle crew-cult event, outside of the Olympics. Plus, race down three miles of river is not the most conducive aspect to being a spectator sport.

Photo: Single Rower Competing in the Head of the Charles

Anyway, the event was intriguing. I have always been kind of fascinated by a sport that finds a small group of dedicated individuals awake at the crack of dawn careening down steaming bodies of water. There is something exquisitely graceful about the smooth metronomic motion of the shell surging forward with one or more rowers sliding and swinging the blades beneath the water’s surface. From a slight distance, with the proper backdrop, it can be absolutely picturesque and mesmerizing.

New Jersey Fall

Photo: High Point Monumnent, NJ

Recently, Ali and I headed down to New Jersey to spend one last weekend at her family cabin. It was a cool, wet weekend, but the sun broke out here and there on Saturday and we were able to get some quality pictures of High Point Monument. Despite being south of the peak leaf color changes, I thought these images of a rural New Jersey Fall were really rather beautiful. Hopefully, I will get some autumnal imagery from New England, considering its tall reputation. Regardless, all props to Ali since she is the one who took the photos.

Photo: High Point Monumnent, NJ

While there, we did get to visit with Ali’s Uncle Johnny and Sue. It is always fun to see the owners of the Flying Pig Gallery of Sussex, NJ. I encourage everyone to have a look at their offerings. In fact, I highly encourage people to buy something from the gallery, provided you have the means and inclination. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the camera to procure incriminating photos of our dinner together, but check the gallery site and the sister company Flying Pig Virtual Construction to identify the usual suspects.

Photo: High Point Monumnent, NJ

To our good fortune we go to take in a little theatre while there. Thanks to the well-connected Uncle Johnny, we got to see the Passion of Dracula. The show was the brainchild of writer and director Bob Hall. Even more interesting is the fact that Hall has two lives, maybe more. In addition to working for some time as a theatre artist, he was an accomplished comic book artist and writer. He worked for both Marvel and DC on a host of major titles. In fact, I haven’t checked but I might even have a book or two with his name on the inside. The show itself had just opened and the production was still finding its legs. Nevertheless, it was really great to see some live theatre. Definite thanks to Johnny for the idea and the complimentary evening.

Red Sox Nation Rejoices – Yankees Still Suck

Well the Red Sox did it. What a difference a week makes. Last week, the question was whether the Fenway side would complete the historic defeat of their hated rivals from the Bronx. No team had ever come back from a 3-0 deficit. Yet, Boston completed the most unlikely of victories. Three Mariano Rivera outs from elimination and the boys from Yawkey Way began a surge that would not stop until they crushed the Cardinals in four straight.

Beating the Bombers was so monumental that winning the World Series was almost an afterthought, if you can believe that. So hated are the Yankees here, that ending an 86 year drought from the baseball’s ultimate crown was not celebrated with near as much vigor as winning the ALCS. Things got so out of hand last week that a young woman was accidentally killed by the police trying to control things. Last night the crowds were swarming but things just didn’t have the same release of tension. Both celebrations marked triumphs away from the home park, but that didn’t stop the hoards from gathering at the shrine. The last series was sweet deliverance, while this series seemed more like sweet relief. Finally, the ghosts were sent packing and all the players past were given a glimpse of the greatness that always resided just out of their reach.

The Red Sox won the World Series and a nation celebrated last night, but all the rejoicing this lacked the drama. Outside of game one the Cardinals never even threatened. For all the runs that the Redbirds tallied, the middle of their line-up went missing, for the most part. Sure Pujols hit, there was just no one on base. Who could believe that Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen would go a combined 1-28. The only time it was close was when the Red Sox weren’t ripping of runs. If it weren’t for all the superstitions of sports fans, New Englanders should have realized that it was over when the series headed for St. Louis. I actually thought that the Sox had so much momentum that they’d cinch it in five. That proved to be a bit generous.

Perhaps the almost anti-climactic result can be attributed to shock and disbelief. It is almost as if no one quite believes it, yet. Although, I did hear a lot of comments like, “I am just happy we beat the Yankees,” and “Nothing is better than beating the Yankees.” To which my response was generally, “I’m from Chicago, I’ll take winning the Series.”

However, all the large contingent Yankee Haters in Red Sox Nation can rest assured that when the their beloved team hoists the championship flag and receive their rings next year the team on the other side of the chalk will be none other than the Yankees themselves. I think it is at that moment when the sweetness of the victory will finally be felt.

Now the two teams with the longest streak of stymied Series wins both reside in the Second City.