“Brooklyn Dodgers” - I Am The Avalanche
Hey Dad! Dad! Duck the Fodgers!”
My Dad and I were at my first Giants vs Dodgers game and it was awesome. I loved going to games with my Dad, partially for the ice creams with the wooden spoons, but mostly because I’d get to hang out with my Dad. I especially loved it, however, when it the Giants were playing the Dodgers because the Giants fans lost their minds and screamed threats at the Dodgers and threw beers at the field. I saw a “Duck the Fodgers” shirt for the first time when I was like 8, and I almost fell out of my chair I was laughing so hard.
“Hey...that’s funny but maybe don’t say that around Mom when you get home” So, of course, the minute I got home it was the first thing I did.
Going to those games is something that’s always stuck with me, I love the SF Giants, and honestly, I don’t even really watch baseball anymore, but that orange and black hat makes me nostalgic every time I see it. I spent most my life in the East Bay, and I live near Seattle now, but I was born and lived in San Mateo until I was 9, and my Dad and I would attend a lot of games at Candlestick Park.
All that preface helps lead us into the fact that I honestly had a hard time liking this song simply because it was called, “Brooklyn Dodgers”. I know, it’s silly to react just because it mentions the Dodgers, and especially since it’s about growing up in Brooklyn, and especially since it’s not the dreaded LA Dodgers, but still, Duck the Fodgers, right?! That’s what I learned from going to games with my Dad.
And that’s the point!
This whole song is about what you pick up from your Dad. This may seem like a strange song to start this series with; I Am The Avalanche are a large band for their genre, but they're not particularly well known otherwise. And, this being a blog for a community based in the San Francisco East Bay it seems odd to prominently feature a band that’s proudly from New York...
What I think makes this a perfect first song for this series is how this song is about the singers Dad without explicitly being about his Dad. I didn’t want to start with something that was too obvious. This song is great because it’s all about how his Dad influenced him without resorting to super clunky lyrics like, “I love my Dad and he’s an important figure in my liiiiiiffffeeeeee!!!!!”
“Whatever happened to the Brooklyn Dodgers?/Whatever happened to me?”
The chorus here says it all. The singer, Vinnie Caruana, sees himself as intrinsically linked to the past through the lens of his Dads stories. His family history informs and becomes his history. He sees himself as a part of what’s happened to his family, and, ultimately, New York. He loves the Brooklyn Dodgers because that’s the team his family loved, even though they don’t even exist anymore.
“Then there’s my Dad/he jokes about the times/that he had back when he was a hippie”
Ever been around a campfire with your family telling stories? Or a dinner table? What stories stuck with you? What stories did you find yourself trying to decipher in your brain waaaay too young to fully understand later? (“But what does it mean to Duck the Fodgers anyway...”) What stories did you hear and go, “yeah...I’m going to be like that when I’m big!”
Whenever the grown-ups got to talking, I’d always try to hang out around my Dad and his friends or family soaking their stories in. I loved it when they’d forget I was there and talked openly and shared stories that were totally inappropriate for me to hear. I’d do my best to try not to say anything so I wouldn’t get noticed and could keep listening, but eventually I’d decide it was safe and I’d throw my opinion in on something WAY over my head (“Hey, maybe you should stop talking so much and listen to your wife more, Uncle Larry!”) and then, of course, they’d realize I was in the room and my cover was blown and it was back to the kids table for me.
There were also the stories my brothers and I would beg my Dad to tell us, and we were delighted when we could get him to share stories of the times he got in trouble. My kids are the same, I don’t know what wisdom was gleaned from it, but I spent an hour last night telling my kids all about how our pet cat growing up would attack anyone who came near it.
I can think of a lot of stories my Dad shared with me, and even the ones that were not deep but just fun directly affected me. Like Vinnie and his Dad, a lot of the stories from our Dads past help define our futures, because their stories, worldviews, and examples help shape how we see our lives. It’s like, we’re trying to figure this world out, and for better or worse, the examples set and paths charted by our Dads often lead us. We’re all hoping someone knows the way and we’re looking to our Dads to guide us.
Later in the song, when Vinnie asks, “Whatever happened to the New York gentlemen?”
And his Dads perfect answer is, “Son, you’re looking at one”. Later in the song, Vinnie sings it of himself,“Whatever happened to the New York gentlemen?/You’re looking at one”.
Be it encouraging or scary to you, in a lot of ways, your kids follow your path. Last night I looked up at my son as he was decimating a bag of Cheetos, and thought about how my Dad and brothers and I left no Dorito safe from being devoured, and all I could think was, “Yea...that’s my kid”.
But that’s a little thing, right? That’s just the genetics. What about the big stuff?
Because if you’re any kind of involved Dad at all it makes you wonder...what am I teaching my kids? What are they going to remember? What stories are they hearing? What am I passing down that's going to shape their worldview?
A lot of it is just stuff they’re going to pick up being around each other. But a lot of it is stuff that you can control, and that we can be careful to ensure they remember. We can be really involved and help leave lasting impressions and memories that are good and impactful.
This last weekend my Daughter told my wife she’d hoped she’d have time to bake with me and teach me some more dance moves she learned at her dance class, so, of course, I made sure we did it. Also, this weekend my son and I got to watch a doubleheader of Guardians of the Galaxy 1 and 2 for his first time, so I hope I’m doing something right there. I hope they remember times like that we’ve had together.
But, of course, you can’t control everything they remember.
Recently, they were bickering and it was getting on my nerves so, like a typical Dad I yelled out, “Hey! Do you know what I hate?”
“Technology!” Answered my son.
“Self-checkout lines!” Answered my daughter.
“Uhm...yes...well, no. I wanted you to say, ‘fighting with each other”
So...kids remember what they remember. I’d really be bummed if at my funeral they’ll say, “And here lies my Dad, who did a lot of stuff but mostly he is remembered for his intense hatred of technology and his eternal loathing of self-checkout lines”.
But that’s what this blog is going to be all about. It’s a fun blog to write, and hopefully to read, and I’m hoping we can all really learn and grow from this. I, for one, am genuinely thinking through what I’m passing down to my kids.
And I really, really hope I won’t only be remembered for how much I don’t like self-checkout lines.
-Photo courtesy Museum of City of New York