Bowling for Bowling

August 29th, 2015

~ Life is made up of the school of hard knocks.

August 29, 2015 ∩ 18:30 UTC

In the beginning there was bowling, the knocking down of objects, later of pins.  Bowling is a lot like billiards, like ‘pocket’ billiards (pool), where one uses a ball to put other balls in motion.  In bowling, it is a larger ball that puts pins in motion, large pins, not the really small pins made mostly of metal.


In American bowling the ball is very large too.  One gets more ‘bang for the buck’ with the large ball, than with the small ball of ‘duck pin’; small ball, smaller pins.


So, it is clear why, in time, televised ‘Championship Bowling’ became a nationally televised game show – Bowling for Dollars.  The exact date, even the exact year, of the first broadcast of Bowling for Dollars has been lost to history, at least lost on Google, and on the web.  I remember seeing it by about 1965.  I was a bowler back then, and a bowler before (then).


KTVU was a popular TV station serving Oakland, reaching Stockton and San Jose (all in California).  They carried a program, Dialing for Dollars.  It was probably the program that inspired the Bowling for Dollars gig.  Although I would have said (wrongly) that it was the other way around.

Fifties television was like that; always promoting the idea of money coming out of thin air.  There was the Millionaire program, about how a worthy person gets a knock on the door and a check for one million smack-a-roo’s for nothing more than a smile and a handshake.

Queen for a Day was my grandmother’s favorite.  It featured very sad and even seemingly very pathetic everyday housewives that were lifted momentarily out of their daily drudgery with small gifts, a cape, and a crown.  Real royals they were not.

The (very rigged) $64,000 (USD) Question was based on the premise that being smart and educated would bring one fortune and fame.  It did more for putting people in college than a thousand ‘GI Bills’ that promoted ‘higher’ education.  But even the GI Bill was all about free money.

It’s clear that the real American Dream, and much of American exceptionalism is less about the rewards of hard work and more about free money, E-Z money, EZ big money, and just ‘money, money, money‘ as Hollywood would say; as those in Hollywood always say.

It was an oft repeated Old Testament idea that “God favored his favorites by bestowing them with money.”  It is this notion on which the religion of money is founded.  The Catholic Church promotes the idea, most of the Jewish culture and religion, almost all of the Protestant ‘fundies’.  The idea represents the transportation of American wealth and power across politics, religion, cultural divides, and the right and the left.

Janis Joplin knew this.  She felt this reality to the core of her soul.  This was the last song she recorded, just before the time of her death (10-4 on 10/4/1970):  

Oh lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz.
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends.
So oh lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz

Oh lord won’t you buy me a color TV.
Dialing for dollars is trying to find me.
I wait for delivery each day until 3.
So oh lord won’t you buy me a color TV.

Oh lord won’t you buy me a night on the town.
I’m counting on you lord, please don’t let me down.
Prove that you love me and buy the next round.
Oh lord won’t you buy me a night on the town.
Oh lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz
My friends all drive porsches, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends.
So oh lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz.

There is another side of life.  There is ‘bowling for bowling, not bowling for dollars’.  There may not be dial telephones anymore, but there are keypads for reaching in and reaching out and not just keypadding for dollars.  There are ‘business calls’, sure.  But, the real business about many or most calls involve getting the low down on how low the money crafters and the power mongers go, or have gone.

It’s the last chance day at the last chance saloon or the last day cafe.  To coin a metaphor – if you’re lookin’ for planes to know the fate of the towers you haven’t studied the basement too much lately.  Ground zero started at ground zero; it should be obvious by now.  One event is earth shaking, the other is just an air blast.  Smoke and mirrors; one makes you look up when you really should look down.  There’s always a reflection from the still and deep waters.

Fourteen years ago, just before, or about on this day, I wrote a word document on Works on my new Sony Visio desktop computer.  I still have the computer and I still have the file.  The title of the post (but it was never put up, or put out there) was Beware the East Gate.  I thought it was about genealogy at the time, about my grandmother and her parents maybe.  It wasn’t.  Or it was and it wasn’t; it’s complicated, or it is very simple.

I wrote of the visage of a man with a long beard, mid-eastern.  Behind him were diamonds.  The East Gate, of course was New York; that (to me) was clear at the time.  Much of the rest of the writing was a mystery.  I had written the words, but the words, while very compelling, seemed to have so little understandable meaning (at the time).  That all changed in little more than 11 days.

Castle Garden is just 2,700 feet (less than ½ mile) away from the Twin Trade Towers site.  Castle Garden in Battery Park, is now Castle Clinton.  It was the first entry point, “gate”, for immigrants entering America and New York.  It was where my Swedish great-grandparents came in, landed, came ashore, registered to make it all legal.  Ellis Island is there too, close by but not near by, both in space and in time.  It is more than twice as far away (physically) as Castle Garden.  And Ellis is another island, not on Manhattan Island, which is a big island – more like the mainland.

My great-grandparents did not come to America looking for money.  They came over to look for land, the good land, good black backland like the fertile black forest land like that that the fortunate few enjoyed back in Sweden.

It’s been feeling a lot lately like that late August day just fourteen years away.  The closer to September it gets, the stronger the feeling.  So much of life seems so cyclical, the “cyseans” I guess; the movement from late summer to fall.  It’s the divergence between the ‘school’ summer, the ‘summer work’ summer and the ‘axis tilt’ summer that changes on the equinox sometime in September (September 23, 2015 @ 04:21 a.m. EST this year).

Monday September 7, 2015 is Labor Day in the United States of America this year.  It’s a holiday of course, the last day of summer; very near when most young people in American begin to go back to school.  School calendars vary of course, but Tuesday, September 8th, is often certainly a date to notice, or to take notice of.  Three days later is 9/11.  Two weeks later is September 22nd, easy to remember because of the 22 stars on the seal of Homeland Security (DHS).  So those are the 15 days between 9/7 and 9/23 in the year 2015.  They are the last days of summer, or the first days of fall, depending upon your perspective or persuasion.


Anyway, the odds are that this September will be like any other September, for whatever that means.  The difference this year is that, because of the web, one can project the dates onto a map (timeline) of the future.  One month from now we’ll all know what happened.  Would knowing early really make any difference at all?  Ten pins.  How many up or down determines the game.

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