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Derby, Dads, Dodgers and Demons

This post might turn out like my dinner tonight. I grilled a cheese sandwich with turkey, garden tomatoes and avocado. The sprouted bread fell apart, the crust became hard and the inside became mushy and cheesy. It tasted good, but I would not serve it to friends. While I rushed my dinner, I have spent several days trying to write this blog post.

I have yet to digest my emotions from last Saturday.

 (bryan farley)

Before I attended Saturday’s bout between the Santa Cruz Derby Girls Bombshells and the Bay Area Derby Girls Team Gold, I planned a simple post that included galleries from two previous bouts. I would discuss the community based organizations that the roller derby teams supported at recent events and I would mention how my children love attending roller derby too.

Then I met Bryan Stow.

 (bryan farley)

I am a Dodger fan. I have loved the Dodgers since I was a little kid and moved to Fresno from the San Fernando Valley. When I was a child, I would sit on the floor and listen to the radio at night. I studied baseball history. I knew what it meant to be a Dodger fan. The Dodgers were a family business built on principle. The Dodgers were Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier. We were Kofaux on Yom Kippur. We were Vin Scully AND Jaime Jarrin. We are Hall of Fame in two languages. We were not superficial. We were not silicon. Dodger fans are the original losers who played for something greater. God, community, politics, family, team….

 (bryan farley)

In 2010, when the Giants finally won a World Series in San Francisco, the Dodgers were a family business that was falling apart. It was a different family. I wonder if Giants’ fans realize that their championship was not the worst part of 2010 for many Dodger fans.

And then it got worse.

 (bryan farley)

I have talked about Bryan Stow many times since he was attacked on Opening Day 2011. I have imagined talking to him. I have probably talked out loud while alone many times hoping that I would have the chance to share my feelings with him. When I saw him, I became nervous. If I had not prepared, I do not know if I would have been able to talk to him. I did not know how to start. I waited until I told him. “I am a Dodger fan.”

 (bryan farley)

Eventually, I found my voice and I told him that I wish I had the authority to talk for all Dodger fans and apologize for what I think is “the darkest day in Dodger history.” I mean it. It still saddens me. We did not protect him. He was blamed for the attack. The franchise and fans denied responsibility. I heard all kinds of arguments. I did not hear the organization argue that we were the franchise of Robinson and Koufax. We became the organization that broke hearts and deflected responsibility.

And the Dodgers are an organization that celebrates atonement. Before I knew that Yom Kippur meant Day of Atonement, I knew what it meant to be a Dodger fan. We are not a franchise and fan base that celebrates excuses. We would rather lose than cheat. In 2011, we seemed to be losing at cheating.

 (bryan farley)

The more that I consider the events, the more that I become frustrated. Look, I only lost my baseball team. I can just pretend that the Dodgers moved to St. Louis and start watching more hockey, but I miss baseball. I may never take my kids to watch a Major League Baseball game again. It hurts. Something is unresolved… and it will always be unresolved until the Dodgers fix it.

 (bryan farley)

I take my kids to roller derby. At roller derby, my children watch strong women hit each other. After the teams compete, both sides often take a picture together. They make sure that everyone gets to their car safely. They take care of each other. On Saturday, Bryan Stow joined the two teams for the post-game photo. When will the Dodgers invite Stow to Chavez Ravine? When will he appear in the photo? When will the Giants and Dodgers create an organization that promotes fan safety? When will Major League Baseball hire Bryan Stow?

When will the Dodgers celebrate the 50th anniversary of Game 1 of the 1965 World Series?

 

See notes below next photo

 (bryan farley)

 

So, when I mentioned that I had been writing for days on this post, I meant it. I have several other versions that may appear elsewhere. Some of the photos remain so that viewers can easily access photo galleries, but otherwise I have archived my different versions. I may create another post on my other blog at www.morethankids.com. If so, I will add a note here and recirculate the link.

After the next photo, I have included some of the other relevant links.

 

 (bryan farley)

Santa Cruz Home Team Championship

 World Brain Day

BAD Bout 2 Richmond v Berkeley 

BAD Bout 2 Oakland v San Francisco

CASS of Santa Cruz County

Oakland Cat Town

SCDG Bombshells v Team Gold

Digital Nest

 (bryan farley)

bf

 

EFNC Picture Day

Last week I photographed the Epilepsy Foundation of Northern California staff. We met near the Walt Disney Family Museum in the San Francisco Presidio.

 (bryan farley)

The Presidio is a historical military fort that guarded the Golden Gate.  Although the fort did not protect us from the wind, it provided many places to shoot. I especially enjoyed shooting next to The Walt Disney Family Museum. I have mentioned a rumor about Walt Disney having epilepsy; I feel more part of the family.

 (bryan farley)

The museum started a new exhibit with Disney and the surrealist (Salvador) Dali. The exhibit, “Disney and Dali: Architects of the Imagination” discusses how the visionaries became friends. They were innovators who found new ways to tell stories. The world found new ways to see. As advocates, we have similar challenges, but not necessarily the skill of Walt Disney.

 (bryan farley)

Since I photographed the EFNC staff, Disneyland celebrated their 60th anniversary. When Walt launched Disneyland, many doubted whether it would succeed. Visionaries often encounter this problem. Even if you have created Mickey Mouse, your next idea might be doubted… even if your next idea is Disneyland and even if you are Walt Disney.

 (bryan farley)

 

The entire gallery is here.

Thank you to the staff at the Epilepsy Foundation of Northern California, where “qualified personnel” is your middle name.  I appreciate that you keep working through all the doubt and discomfort.

Paisley Epilepsy Apology

 We are here and it is now. Further than that, all human knowledge is moonshine. – H. L. Mencken

 (bryan farley)

Last Friday, Brad Paisley performed at the same Sacramento area venue where I met him in August 2014. On Saturday, he performed at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California. (Both tours support his recent Moonshine in the Trunk album.) I have photographed musicians at both places and I had hoped to see him again so that we could continue an important discussion. More accurately, I wanted another chance to share a complicated story about epilepsy, music and apologies.

 (bryan farley)

Last year, Brad Paisley invited me to his concert after I had written an open letter to him. People in the epilepsy community found some of his comments insensitive. (I have epilepsy and Brad Paisley CD’s.) I did not expect a response or an apology from Paisley, but he contacted me directly to apologize for his “poor choice of words.” When we met, he appeared genuinely sincere. I photographed part of the show and wrote about our meeting. Paisley impressed me and I wanted to share his gesture with a larger audience. I wanted the epilepsy community to feel heard. I wanted country music fans to know that their celebrities followed a code. I failed. Hopefully, I will be more successful this time.

 (bryan farley)

If this is the first time you are viewing my photos and reading my blog, you might be asking, “Who the hell does he think he is?” I often ask myself this question. Sometimes I think I am a leading epilepsy advocate; other times I wonder if I am blindly wandering into the forest. Alone.

 (bryan farley)

I mean, one day Brad Paisley contacts me while I am grocery shopping; the next day I am ignored when placing a simple headphone order. One minute people are giving me high fives; the next minute I have completely lost the ability to crush it. Who am I to think I can write and speak for millions? Who am I to write to Brad Paisley and suggest that Walt Disney had epilepsy? Why do I care if our voices are heard? Why do I care so much about music and imagery?

 (bryan farley)

I wish more people who had epilepsy understood country music. Country music shares a common language with epilepsy. (We fall; we get back up.) Country music is also multi-generational and layered so that different ages can relate to some of the content. During last year’s concert, Paisley let a small child sing. After the child sang, Paisley appeared to sing a little worse than usual so the boy would not seem off key. (Paisley began performing with talented local musicians when he was young and they let him shine.) Country music remembers its past while pushing forward. Just look at the other performers on Paisley’s tours. Listen to his lyrics. Some who don’t know country music confuse corny with backward. It’s a layer.

 (bryan farley)

This week I played Garth Brooks’ country music anthem “Friends in Low Places” for my nine year old son. “Well I guess I was wrong, I just don’t belong, but then, I’ve been there before…” I know the feeling of showing up in boots and thinking that I belong only to find out that I was wrong. When I listened to the song this week, I also realized that I know I survived each time … AND I will experience the process again. I will be wrong again, yet I will still show up and survive.

 (bryan farley)

Many people forget that we will survive being wrong. This is one reason that sincere apologies are rare. It’s not enough to “just show up.” Sometimes we must show up crazy with our hat on backward knowing that we are going to be wrong eventually. When we are wrong, we must do something about it. We must do more than act like a child who is ordered to “say you are sorry.” We can’t stop showing up. This is what I find special about Brad Paisley’s apology. It appears genuine… and if we were never taught how to apologize, we were probably not taught to accept an apology. So what do we do now?

 (bryan farley)

 

Gallery

Notes on a blog