I Know That Guy

Since the pandemic began, we’ve watched nearly the entire internet. Youtube, Prime, Netflix, and every streaming service. We’ve subscribed, sucked them clean to the bone, and then cancelled many of them. Hollywood is locked down, too. There just isn’t enough content out there. This is why moving to a farm is going to be a godsend. Days without screens.

But up to now, we’ve become like crack addicts. If something new pops up, we watch it. Almost without reading the content summary. And Jeff has even deigned to watch foreign films that are undubbed. ‘OK. I’ll read a movie tonight.’ We’re just that starved.

This past week, a documentary titled Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art popped up as a recommendation on Netflix. It’s about an art gallery in NYC called Knoedlers on the upper east side of Manhattan – purveyors of fine art to the good and the great from all over the world. I like stories about fine art and there are interesting ones since the Nazis looted so many collections during WWII.

But this story was different. It involved a Spanish art swindler, his girlfriend, and a Chinese art forger/math teacher from Long Island. Bet just reading this description peaked your interest. I know, right? So we watched the entire thing. The great house Knoedlers is brought low in the story. The girlfriend takes the fall for her swindler boyfriend. And then, right at the end, we learn about the US government who is trying to extradite the Lugo-based Spanish art swindler from Spain to the US. And who is his lawyer? My lawyer.

Yes, that law firm that I hired in Lugo back in November to handle the purchase of a house in Galicia. And, it seems, our lawyer is representing the swindler. I laughed when I saw him on the screen. ‘If you want to know what our lawyer looks like, that’s him.’ I told Jeff, pointing at the tv.

Jeff was taken aback. ‘No way.’

But it was him. And he’s very good at his job. He’s on top of EVERYTHING. He manages me, which I love. We’ve Zoomed a ton over the paperwork – I’ll go into how he helped us a bit more in a different post. And I’d recommend him for any real estate purchase in Spain. It seems now, I can even recommend him if you are in danger of getting extradited for art swindling to the US. So I’ve got that in my back pocket.

Then today, before Jeff logged into work, we put on Netflix and there was a recommended documentary of something significant from my childhood. A critical period of time that would probably shape much of who I became. The Battered Bastards of Baseball is on Netflix. It’s the story of the Portland Mavericks independent baseball team owned by actor Bing Russell and his son, actor, Kurt Russell.

As a kid, we had season tickets to The Portland Mavericks. My brother, Todd, was their batboy, and my sister dated Rob Nelson, who was a relief pitcher. From April to September during elementary school we lived at Civic Stadium. My brother had to be at the field early so we went and sat in the stands when they were empty during batting practice. We knew all those guys.

The documentary is about how Bing and the team came to be. I get to make an appearance in the documentary in a still shot with my best friend, Karen Taylor, Todd and Rob for an advertisement for the baseball school the Mavericks were affiliated with at the time. Lil’ Mavs baseball school. It’s a photo that I saw in Forbes magazine for the anniversary of the invention of Big League chew a couple of years ago – that all happened during the Maverick years. I was shocked to come across a photo of me as an 11 year old in Forbes magazine. But there is was, again today, watching this documentary.

I know the story, so I didn’t watch it for that. I watched it to see my brother, Todd. I haven’t seen him in 18 months – or any of my family in person – so it was nice to hear his voice on the preview that Netflix does before you click on it, and to see his face. He features pretty large in the reminiscences of the players during that time. I’m not sure if any of us understood the truly unique experience all those years ago. It was just what was going on when I was 7-11 years old.

Looking back at that time from the perspective of a child, it was magical. Such a wonderful example that it’s never too late to make a dream come true. That doing what everyone else is doing isn’t the key to success. It’s doing the unexpected. Bucking the trend. Embracing your own unique madness. And finding what makes you truly happy, even if it’s just for a moment. All that, and that sometimes it’s not about being the best, it’s about being the hardest worker and wanting it more than the next guy. It would be the beginning of my love affair with misfits and their power to do extraordinary things. Because I was one, myself. And that the best thing you can be in life is to be wildly underestimated.

Then it was over. When the Mavericks were no more, we mourned it in our house. Sure, Rob was still around. He was madly in love with my sister, Peggy. But the pixie dust of the Maverick miracle that had wafted and flitted around us was gone. I remember when baseball season came around the next year, we didn’t bother with the new triple A team, The Portland Beavers. We knew they couldn’t hold a candle to what had come before.

Todd says something at the end of the documentary that hit me, and I don’t recall him describing it this way before. Something along the lines of seeing all these grown men loving what they were doing. He had never encountered that before. Work, in our house, was supposed to be something you endured. And he remembered thinking that he hoped he would grow up someday and find that kind of joy in doing what he loved. The Mavericks showed him that was possible. And I think he’s done that. Not only in his film work, but in the life he’s built with his wife and their 4 kids – and now three grand children.

My brother and I have an interesting relationship. We will still wrestle each other when we get together. Even in our 50’s. Jeff thinks he’s hilarious. Me? Perhaps his incessant teasing of me, and detailed recall of my chubby teenage years wears a tad thin after a few hours. But I only have to call him ‘grandpa’ to get under his skin. Especially, since I’m not a grandmother, yet myself.

After watching everything we could possibly watch on TV, it’s kind of fun to see people we know. In a time when there is so much distance between us all in the world. A moment to touch home, however tenuous, is a welcome distraction.

4 thoughts on “I Know That Guy

    • I was a huge baseball fan. In the 70’s we had season tickets to the Orioles games, both kids played little league, my daughter being the first girl in the club. I love baseball stories. This documentary is very interesting. I am learning so many things. I was interrupted so didn’t finish watching, but am looking forward to the rest of the story. ⚾️

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