Last night I somehow found myself working the door at the Red Hook Crit afterparty, where a couple hundred fixed-gear bike enthusiasts had shown up post-race to drink alcoholic beverages and kick off the steam of the competition. My wife and I had been recruited to run the door. It basically involved telling a bunch of people who claimed to know the main promoter that they could not, in fact, get in for free if their name wasn't on the list.
We got home at 3am.
And so this morning—drinking my coffee, watching the slow morning sunlight drift in through an opened window, thinking about the Warriors and about basketball and about light—I was surprised to receive a phone call from a producer friend who owns a studio in the neighborhood.
"Hey!" he said, a little out of breath.
"What's up man? Happy Sunday."
"Ah, right. Hey, listen, what are you doing right now?"
"At this exact moment?"
"Um, just getting up. Drinking some coffee."
"Good! You're free? Right now?"
"Yeah, I guess so, why?"
"Can you do a church gig?"
"Yeah, you know. A gospel thing. It's nearby. I got a buddy whose drummer didn't show."
"Well, yeah, I suppose so. When do they want me there?"
"Hold on, I'll get the guy on the phone."
He clicked off for a few seconds, and then was back.
"You still there?"
"Okay. Bram meet Chris. Chris, Bram."
"So," said Chris, "you good on church stuff? Gospel music?"
"Yeah, I mean, I'll just follow you."
"Okay. Great. You're on."
"When do you want me there?"
"Yo, for real, ASAP. We start in like fifteen."
Shook my head and laughed. "Alright. I'm on my way."
I ran some water through my hair and put on some nice pants and a black shirt. My wife ran after me picking cat hair off of the clothes. "It'll be alright," I said. "I'll be behind the drums." I ran out the door with my sticks and cymbals, got in the car, and then drove through Bushwick into Bed-Stuy. Found a parking space right in front of the church. As I walked in, they were just starting. I sidled up to the drums, shook the other musicians' hands, and then proceeded to just follow along for an hour and a half. Chris, a beautiful organist, would direct me with little nods, or he would raise his hand, or tell me to go to a back beat. Or hit a cymbal crash.
Halfway through the service, a young man came to the front and fervently directed his prayer skyward. Apparently, another young man, a member of the church, had been killed earlier that morning in a car accident. He'd been driving delivery. Someone ran a light, flipping his truck.
His friend knelt before the pulpit, head bowed, and delivered his prayer. For his friend. For all the little moments when we get distracted. The moments when we are vengeful and over-righteous. Every sentence was punctuated both at the beginning and the end with, "Oh God." Oh God please forgive us these thoughts Oh God and let us serve you in the best way you see fit Oh God. A lilting incantation.
I am not necessarily a religious man. But sitting there—behind the drums, in an African Methodist Episcopal church, playing gospel music and trying my best not to mess up their service—I found myself thinking about the parallels we must draw between all moments of our lives.
That search for a higher power. Or searching out the small glimpses of FREEDOM. Freedom of movement, freedom of speech. I found myself thinking of a single play from last night, as Stephen Curry glided around the floor right before the end of the first half of Game 4, which the Warriors eventually won to sweep the Pelicans. I found myself listening to this young man, kneeling in Bed-Stuy, yearning for freedom from the day-to-day missteps, and I realized that's why we love basketball. Or art, or music. Or anything.
We want someone to show us something we previously thought impossible. We want someone to come and make the mundane miraculous.
Net couldn't have moved less on that last Curry bomb. Just looked like a light passed through it— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) April 26, 2015
Because in a single crashing moment it could all be gone.
Prayers to that young man and his family. I hope they find something to give them hope and renew their faith in the miraculous of the day-to-day.
For me, sometimes, it is as simple as watching basketball. For others, maybe not.
--- = ---
The Warriors move on after sweeping the Pelicans. Anthony Davis, who shone brighter than we all thought possible, will not dominate quite yet.
The Trail Blazers face a suddenly impermanent future, with multiple reports surfacing that LaMarcus Aldridge might bolt after the season. He reportedly flew back to Portland after their game two loss while the entirety of the rest of team stayed in Memphis. Also, seems that the San Antonio Spurs will make a run at him after offering Kawhi Leonard the max. Add to this the lingering uncertainty concerning (soon to be free agent) Wesley Matthews' season ending injury and the Blazers seem destined for not only an almost certain first round exit, but an off season filled with unpleasant truths.
That leaves Marc Gasol and the Grizzlies, who have been playing out of their mind. The potentially series ending game four is tomorrow night at 7:30 PDT.
--- = ---
The Clippers and the Spurs resume their bloodsport. Game four has JUST tipped.
Life keeps moving, and the playoffs march ever onward.
Happy Sunday y'all!