My Personal Super Bowl Triumph

Indianapolis 29, Bears 17. Thus ends Chicago’s once-a-generation visit to the NFL championship game. The rain and Prince, as well as the final score, lent a soggy, dispirited feeling to the proceedings.

But on the plus side, I feel like I really must have grown as a human being. I watched without dismay or rancor: I let loose with one first-half “god damn it,” but after that nothing stronger than a “God bless America” escaped my lips (the presence of an impressionable and watchful seven-year-old helped check any over-the-top displays, as did the fact the Bears were outplayed for all but the first few minutes of the game. Bottom line: Stuart Smalley would have been proud of me).

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Palm, Tower, Norfolk Island Pine


Went on a long, unorganized walking tour of a small part of San Francisco on Saturday with a visiting Chicagoan. Through gentrified SoMa to the Giants’ ballpark, then up the gentrified waterfront to the gentrified Ferry Building (is there a theme here?). Then through the deserted Financial District to Kearny, up across Broadway to Telegraph Hill, to Montgomery and the Filbert Street steps (above; nearby, we spotted the wonderful Art Deco apartment building at 1360 Montgomery, below). That’s a Norfolk Island pine in the left center, I’m pretty sure; didn’t notice it when we were at the spot. We hiked up to Coit Tower, set a Saskatchewan native straight about who is depicted by the statue on the summit (Christopher Columbus; he’s on the wrong coast; on the other hand, he’s where he belongs as far as San Francisco’s Italians are concerned). Then down to North Beach, back through the Financial District, and a quick stop at the Palace Hotel (where President Warren Gemaliel Harding died in 1923). Four hours, some number of miles, countless nearly-to-the-point anecdotes.

After 30 years out here, San Francisco is still fresh to me; I never take a walk in the city without happening across a surprise.


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Pre-coffee groundhog colloquy (a play for two voices and dog):

Early riser: It’s Groundhog Day.

Later riser: Mmmph … Scout, go out and tear the ass off a groundhog. ‘How’s your shadow look now, groundhog?’

Early riser: ‘Yeah, you ass-less groundhog.’

All exeunt, chortling.


James Joyce’s birthday. He was born in 1882. In Dublin. He’s allegedly hard to read. I’ve never tried “Finnegan’s Wake” because of the difficulty others have reported. The reading equivalent of getting lost in the Amazon jungle, or perhaps climbing Everest. Those Joyce works I have dared crack have been undaunting. No: entertaining. Obligatory Joyce quote:

Lean out of the window,


I hear you singing

A pretty air.

My book is closed,

I read no more,

Watching the fire dance

On the floor.

I have left my book:

I have left my room:

For I hear you singing

Through the gloom,

Singing and singing

A merry air.

Lean out of the window,


–“Chamber Music, V” (1907)

That’s not so hard.

Words and Music


I’ve been working on pulling together the story behind the writing of “Bear Down Chicago Bears”–a mystery of perhaps less significance than, “What happened to the WMDs?” Still, you work with what you got.

Along the way, I called the song’s current publisher, Mark Spier, of Larry Spier Music, in New York City. He says he’s getting lots of requests for the sheet music. Alas, there is no currently published sheet music. So his firm has made a PDF copy of the 1941 sheet music and is selling it online. In the 10 days since the Bears beat the Saints to get into the Super Bowl, Spier has sold 200 to 300 copies (including one copy to me; Dad, it’ll be in the mail soon). The first thing I learned from the sheet music, beside the Bears’ 1941 address (37 S. Wabash), is that the song is to be played at a “bright march tempo.”

You can buy the song from Spier here (it’s three bucks; the company is selling several other Bears-related musical items, too). If you’re not satisfied with a virtual copy, I found at least one copy of the 1941 original for sale on eBay (the seller has timed it so that the auction will end near game time on Sunday.


One last thing: The graphic on the “Bear Down” cover page: It looks familiar; it’s looks similar, in some way, to Chicago Cubs scorecards, which always seemed to have an abstract quality to the cover art (that’s the 1941 scorecard here, part of a great online collection assembled by a “die-hard Cubs fan” (poor soul). I wonder if the same illustrator worked for both teams?

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