Got a Chance!!
Sometimes the rain will begin. Sometimes the rain will shrink and spleen and cease. Rain talks to me. Or possibly I mean the flapping wind. The wind, something realized through its push on others…tumbling Burger King bag (thank you, BK, for making a veggie burger), leaves rustling their televisions, the dandelion seeds off on their busy assignations. And then the wonderful disc. The wind and the disc. The disc and the wind. I will feel sort of gray blar inside, sort of, I don’t know, kicky or such-and-such or my life a hazy network of lines intersecting, paralleling, crossing (that wonky sound of light sabers hitting–actually two power lines being thwacked with wood) and so I’ll drink a beer (or 3) and slide on my belly from the kitchen, along the garage (hello, shovel, do you dig me?) and into my Man Room (now oddly organized and clean) to lie on the floor two feet from the treadmill–on my back–with my hands folded under my head and, as some would put it, ponder my life. I’ll stare at the disc golf wall. What do we have here? Let’s reflect. Let’s 450SL ourselves. Let’s whoop-de-whoop my disc wall, in segments:
In this shard? Well, some significant glow. A throg, a mind-nog, a roar of memory. First, two newspaper articles about McCulloch Park, a disc golf course in Muncie, IN. I had a hand in establishing McCulloch (along with many others) so am always glowFace to see the park, the rolling fairways, the mature trees, the stumps where some city bastards cut down some of the better mature trees, and especially the disc golfers. College kids, families, older gentlemen, vagabonds and hippies and businessmen. (What line of business? Now isn’t that the question?) I remember when McCulloch was only a glorious, precarious idea, then I remember walking off the distances, visualizing; writing and editing the grant (the park was funded by a Delaware County Grant [this was before the recession]); playing the holes before actual holes existed (with a temporary basket). We had to negotiate with the concrete contractor (I wish we’d made the pads longer, but live and learn) and call the people who survey before you dig (we were about to dig about 54 holes, minimum, on 40+ acres), and on and on. But man was it worth it! The course stands up to time. It is consistently a challenging round. If you shoot under, you’ve done very well. And its secret weapon? The WIND. McCulloch is windy to very windy about 89% of the time. A headwind lifts your disc but might also stall it and turn it over; a tailwind might carry the disc further, but you will also lose lift. Wind will cause rises, revolts, falls, skips, soars, textbooks, caterwhomps, tumbles, FBI craziness. This makes for quality disc golf. Disc golf is a thinking man’s game–you are always calculating, calculating, and the wind ups all the antes. A really windy day can make your skull buzz and clank and shank, but in a good way. McCulloch stories?
1. Time we found enormous purple dildo jammed into the rafters of the shelter on hole one. It was like someone left it there for short-term storage, or like maybe we were supposed to rent the thing. Or maybe it was like the red bicycles in Madison, WI. You can take the dildo and use it, but be sure to return the device for others. You know, the golden rule, as applied to dildos. I’d like a world where dildos just appear. Hanging from trees, as thick bookmarks, maybe attached by a chain to the gas pump; I don’t know, something. Dildos!
(I think dildo is a funny word, just on its own. Like Fresca. Would the Caddyshack scene even work without the term, Fresca? It wouldn’t be as funny with Coke or Pepsi. As a writer interested in comedy, I love to stumble upon these odd terms. [Thurber was excellent at this; or even just making up his own funny term, if none existed for the situation.])
2. Many times I have seen my friends wading the creek alongside holes 3, 4, 5, 6. That creek is sort of like plutonium meets Heart of Darkness meets Walmart runoff. Not a great place to wade. I’ve been in there many times myself. It smells like a dead body. You squint, and there’s a slithering carp, a kitchen knife, several tires, a headlamp, a finger, a green condom, a beheaded Ken doll, and, hey, your disc wedged beneath the bloated carcass of a opossum. Nothing throws off a round like entering that fucking creek. You get–or do not get–your disc, then you have to put on your socks (now wet) and your toes all slimy and grainy and your friends snickering and it’s something to get over or not get over and then, well, there goes your round.
(Hi, Matt Mullins. [get his book!] Welcome to McCulloch Park. Note various debris in water. Note how bad Matt must want that disc…)
(99% of discs sink. So, you enter the water to get them, or, in deeper or nastier waters, you kiss that disc goodbye. I’ve lost [and found] many, many discs. To lose a disc really hurts. Why? Well, a disc is relatively expensive and a particular disc is a personal, nostalgic, and practical thing. It is valuable to the individual disc golfer. It might be an ace disc. It might be your favorite driver, the one you know EXACTLY how it behaves in the air. It might be new. Or very old and “beat in” so perfectly, like a finely aged wine, an instrument, an oiled baseball glove, a ‘fit’ for your game. As I told Mark once, “In disc golf, you don’t lose your ball like regular golf. You lose your CLUB.”
(Photo actually of a blar course behind a church in Marion, IN. I lost two discs in this pond, a Roc and a Valkyrie. Actually, the holes in this photo are good ones, but much of the course is open, in fields, with little challenge. The layout makes no actual sense and the baskets are basically practice baskets. But it happens. You stumble across these sort of courses. Fortunately, not that often. Most disc courses are good to very good to holy-shit-what-a-course good.)
3. Time I aced hole #10. Big, loopy wind-drenched Sidewinder. Mine was a no-witness ace, which is bittersweet. But I’m not complaining; most of my aces have been heavy on witnesses. I later lost the disc forever. Did I mention there’s a creek? Time Mark Neely (get his book!) aced hole #11. That disc hit the chains like it was magnetized.
(Here’s a photo of Mark with his ace.)
4. Time Mark and I played McCulloch in about 14 degree weather while the wind blew piles of snow at 40 MPH. We were actually laughing the entire round. Discs were flying BACKWARDS. I detest playing in the cold; my fingers turn into blue corpses and I can’t grip. One time Ander Monson (read his most excellent, ODE TO A BADASS DISC GOLF COURSE ) took me playing in Michigan and it was so cold my beer froze. I couldn’t even talk; my lips were frozen. I felt dreadful. Ander seemed impervious to the cold. He was jolly. He laughed and skipped around and told me some story once wherein people tied colorful ribbons to their discs so they could find them when they enter and disappear into large banks of snow. OK…
Did I mention the time Ander took me up a fucking mountain to play disc golf? We had to take a ski lift to the first tee! Well worth this ride. Take a closer look at the wall photo. See where it says LEMMON DROP? That’s a golf tournament we played on Mount Lemmon, in Arizona. I accidentally “kept” the course map they gave us. I think it was by accident. Look, I was at altitude and my head was fuzzy lolly.
Or the time he took me to the desert? I lost a sweet purple Valkyrie into a giant pile of cacti…Animals scurried around, the heat made me panicky. There was a lot of dust. A lot of dust.
5. Time someone I won’t name here flung his disc into a nest of birds. Explosion of birds! That’s not right, not a right thing to do, but actually I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often at McCulloch. The park features geese, squirrels, hawks, men, carp, raccoons, more geese, etc. I mean it’s statistics–plastic and animals will eventually meet.
6. Time pit bull rushed us. Time goose rushed us. Time (s) caught in thunderstorm (s). Times thought we were going to die on a disc golf course (not a bad way to go, actually).
7. One time I wore a mini-skirt to McCulloch Park. Now this is a very embarrassing and involved story, so I won’t tell it here. But it did happen. Ah, memories…
But there are other items in this wall photo.
Two ribbons. These are from the epic summer tourney of THE JAGS. WHO the fuck are The Jags? I can’t tell you that. I tell you that, buzzards circle. There is rumor of a rarely updated blog. There are whispered hunkerings about rituals, restaurants, odd diseases, high intensity lighting, Mexican food in Peru, bowling shirts, pranksters, espresso machines, movies involving J Lo, baby elephants, golden binoculars, other nonsensical things. Something.
I won one of the ribbons when I was not so good at disc golf. It was one of those “most improved” ribbons they give children and ridiculous people. I think it was 7th place or something. I took the ribbon and slinked and clinked home.
I think the second ribbon is actually for 2nd place. So I’ll take that. Like a filled glass of bourbon (wait, I don’t really drink bourbon [though I am trying]). I say bourbon because that year the “Cleveland Prize” (always awarded to 2nd place) was a bottle of Makers Mark. So, yes, I got second.
“There is no such thing as bad whiskey. Some whiskeys just happen to be better than others. But a man shouldn’t fool with booze until he’s fifty; then he’s a damn fool if he doesn’t.”
There’s a big ol’ pink disc on the wall:
Why pink? Pink is the easiest to find when it enters the stikemups and the thunk. Why this design? Why, it’s Diagram Magazine! Diagram has their own disc golf discs, didn’t you know?
I already linked the Ander Ode to Disc essay. Ander Monson introduced me to disc golf. I thank him. Back then, I would throw it in the air and it would cut so hard left to hit me in the ass backwards. What is this game? I didn’t know plastic, wind, release angle, weight, beatness, none of that beauty. Disc, disc and literature?
1. Ander with another longer essay, “The Long Crush.” This used to be online, at American Nerd. What happened to American Nerd? I do not know.
2. I embed the sport here:
My Identity Was Stolen
By a group of poets. Drugged with cinnamon, bound in silver cloth, flown low and slow in a coughing Cessna, over treetops, under radar—to Guam. With all the noise, my Identity could just detect a discussion on the smell of camels (or possibly candles); the delights of a dancing girl named Sheila; and then a fervent argument over the optimal term for treading lightly: tympanum vs. flower. The airplane corkscrewed to the earth. And the silver bag unfurled. The poets laughed; offered a strong cappuccino, the real Italian, oily and earthy, with clouds of spun sugar. The next three days a blur of disc golf. Pogo sticks. Offshore fishing. Then a guided tour of the Territory’s mentally ill, a hilly land of crumbling asylums, sitting bedside for hours with those forgotten souls who never once had an unpaid visitor. The rooms smelled of almonds and dripping rain. My Identity sat silent, listening. Felt a surge of genuine goodness, the first in a long while. Felt like it was no longer just rowing upstream in a leaking red canoe. Something fluttered by. Thunder spoke; lightning lashed out on hinges, a rainfall of rat terriers! Excitable, head-shaking, running in loopy circles of verve. My Identity leapt up, ran after, to capture what makes rat terriers hum with joy. But you can’t catch a satisfied dog. So my Identity felt regret. The itchings of self pity. So asked directions to the nearest casino. Binged on breadfruit and saltwater taffy at the buffet. Drank nine mojitos. Stumbled outside, into a flooded river, and was swept with broken sighs and brushed-aluminum trees down, downstream, out into the riptide, to drift away…to be cast ashore, to lay curl humped and bleeding, below the left rear tire of a Subaru. I walked outside to my Subaru. Bent to my knees and peered beneath. Saw who was back and said, “Damn.”
John Jodzio (here’s a sampling of his words) has a story wherein he trains a wolf (I believe he uses mustard pretzels to do the training) and other such glim and gloop, but he refers to the sport as Frisbee Golf. We don’t do that. That’s like calling running, jogging. Which is funny. Because I have a stupid-ass sign in my Man Room. It looks like this:
Overall, I find this sign banal, obvious, un-clever, and then it uses the term, FRISBEE GOLF. I mean you could probably purchase this sign at Cracker Barrel. Fucking Cracker Barrel. Fucking Cracker Barrel. Fucking Cracker Barrel. Fucking Cracker Barrel. Fucking Cracker Barrel. Fucking Cracker Barrel. Fucking Cracker Barrel. Fucking Cracker Barrel. Fucking Cracker Barrel. Fucking Cracker Barrel. Fucking Cracker Barrel. Fucking Cracker Barrel.
Speaking of, a few weeks ago I meandered off Highway 40 and went to a little cafe, a cafe that unfortunately misspells my name but fortunately serves REAL Southern food, the Loveless Cafe. I had
Fried green tomatoes that made me wanna slap _______. Taters. Maters. Peach iced tea. Flappy catfish. Hot sauce. Blackberry preserves, man, made me want to do that dance now. (I didn’t eat the gravy–I don’t eat gravy.)
Now that be Southern food. And disc golf is not Frisbee golf! (OK, OK, same dude that invented the Frisbee did invent disc golf, the baskets. Without the baskets, you have no sport. They ‘catch’ the disc, OK? But still, Frisbee golf? No, no.)
Why don’t you take the sign down, Sean?
I don’t know. Lazy?
Yes, yes, for $200 you can buy disc golf disc with the cremated ashes of Steady Ed Headrick inside the plastic. I shit you not.
These discs include ashes of the one and only “Steady” Ed Headrick. Ed was the father of Disc Golf and an innovator in disc sports. He was also the founder of the Professional Disc Golf Association, and held membership #001 (shown on these discs).
Here is a video of the entire process:
What else is on the wall? Score cards. Stickers. A beer coozie. (Do people still use the term, coozie? It sounds vaguely slang and sexual.) I have a lot of disc golf beer coozies, and I rarely use them. My beer doesn’t get warm. I drink my beer well before it gets warm. Coozie.
What else? Well, discs. I do have discs on the wall:
Some I bought during my Disc Addiction years. Ah, Ebay. Ah, even worse, the dreaded affliction: DRINKING AND EBAYING. But, oddly, those days have passed (the disc addiction, not the drinking). I finally had my fill (OK, almost…I do pick up something shiny once in a pink moon) of very expensive discs. But back then I loved the glow, the flow, the beauty, potential of a disc I didn’t yet own. Sometimes I would purchase discs just for the disc–I knew I’d never throw that disc! I still think it would be cool to have a disc in the design of a Pumpkin Seed sunfish.
(This fish caught yesterday, White River, IN. Rainbow! Rainbow! Rainbow! And we let the fish go.)
Heck, now I even SELL discs! Today I sold these two, in fact:
BTW, my toes look marvelous and good luck to the man or woman who throws a Zebra disc. I remember once I had a black disc and my friend said, “You will never find a black disc.” I lost it in two throws, beneath the leaves at JC Park, Grand Rapids, Michigan. A zebra disc!? That’s going to last one throw, maximum.
Other discs on the wall caught my eye in some way, or are retired (too beat in to ever use again), or my “snap” got too large for the design (I’d explain this but trying not to be too wonky) or the disc is a collector “beer” design or simply done, done/done/done, and nostalgic, and most excellent. Examples:
A workhorse Roc. This disc is both an ACE DISC (2006) and a SPLIT DISC, very rare combination. I’m getting weepy.
Ah, the years I played Valkyries. Another sweet ACE DISC, circa 2007, on Old Farm. Old Farm is a quirky course and rated too low here, IMO. Old Farm is a great example of not needing very much acreage for a glow course. What you need is good design.
Look, I love this disc. Why? My first TURNOVER ACE, another ACE at Honey Bear Hollow (epic course alert!). One day, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I threw this disc into a canal. I went in after the disc, slipping on a mud bank and ending up in the canal, up to my neck. I thought, Alligator, alligator…as I searched the murky bottom with my bare toes: sticky limbs, slippery mud, turtle shell..no, not a turtle shell–my disc! That day I soaked my phone (ruined), my wallet, a key chain, my jeans and shirt, but I found this disc. I have my disc. You know, priorities.
These two disc are here because Ander played a joke on me (top disc) and also Ander knows I love beer-themed discs (bottom disc). Good people, and good disc golfers give each other discs. It’s the right thing to do. A disc golfer glows to receive a disc. And to give one. It’s called heart.
Not every disc belongs on a wall. A disc golfer should have discs, you know, just around…
I once had many, many more…yes, many more. In the car, on the floor, over in the corner or whatever. Whatever. Whatever. So now you’ve seen my disc wall. It was something, I suppose. I mean I woke and felt down today (Mostly residual from a marathon I ran two days I go, I’d surmise. You feel down for a few days after marathons.). But I now feel OK, people. I’m glad I did something (wait, blogging is ‘doing something’? WTF?), and outside a plumber is banging on pipes (a copper pipe froze this winter) and I’m going to wait until he’s finished then go do something else, like work, most likely, or some type of fixing my car (have you noticed EVERYTHING FALLS APART?) then, then…then throw a disc? Well, I’d like to, I would, but my legs, my ankles and thighs, they feel like bricks on fire, and my mind–it is sore.