Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Worlds Colliding: The Gheorghe Summit

My grandfather had a long and storied -- if not terribly lucrative -- career in education, television, and educational television. He's the one I've incorporated into a great number of posts over at Misery Loves Company, in mostly silly connotations. That was how I knew him, the jovial jester of the family, the head of all things baseball, music, and high revelry. (In many a way, MLC is a fitting tribute to the guy.)

Anyway, there is a life's worth of achievement that gets lost in my interpretation of the man; the stories he'd unfurl at a moment's notice and the photos that adorned his "Vanity Wall" (moniker coined by his loving family) served as evidence of just that. This snapshot of him with Eleanor Roosevelt and JFK now graces my own, otherwise pale imitation of the wall. His obit in The New York Times exactly two years ago today does him more career justice than I ever could; it also stands as a painful personal parallel to the sentiments Rob outlines in his post below.

One of the positions Grampa Jack held that the Times didn't include was president of Pittsburgh public TV station WQED from 1955-1959. During that time, he/they recruited Robert Frost to tape 10 or 15 editions of an award-winning show called Heritage. While doing so, the esteemed poet was staying with some friends of my grandparents; while he was there, those friends invited said grandparents over for dinner with Mr. Frost...but asked a favor.

At that time, my Uncle Mike was attending the Falk School, a grade school affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh; one of his classmates was the son of Jonas Salk. Dr. Salk had been working at Pitt for nearly a decade, had gotten to know my grandparents, and, oh yeah, had developed the cure for polio. Robert Frost had asked that the Whites bring him along so he might meet the suddenly famous scientist.

And this became the story my grandmother cherishes most of all -- amid an abundance of anecdotes that has decorated her many years.

She'll launch into it with the slightest provocation:
"Whitney, I tell you, it was like watching royalty meet. Your grandfather and I felt like wallflowers, sitting back and watching two forms of greatness interact. We just sat there and listened. Jonas had been struggling to cope with his newfound fame, unsure how to balance quiet humility with the heaps of accolades coming his way. With great reverence for the old poet, he leaned in and asked him: 'Tell me, how do you handle all of the praise? How do you reconcile the acclaim? How do you take it?'

Robert Frost smiled, but looked intently at him and replied [with a thought neither of my grandparents ever forgot]: 'Take it. You must take it. In this life there are those who do and those who appreciate. You do, so allow others to appreciate.' "
And if all my grandfather had ever done in his life was to put Jonas Salk in the same living room as Robert Frost, I'd still appreciate him for the story.

* * * * *
Fast-forward 50 years to the Nation's Capital. Three weeks ago, somewhere in that sea of political giants, mental midgets, military leaders, G:TB readers, Southeast thugs, Councilmen on drugs, unauthorized bugs, White House shrugs, sages with mugs, HOV slugs (a phenomenon that baffles me to this day), and a slew of woefully, pitifully underachieving sports teams, there was a union of two local heroes with global reaches. It was a meeting later described as possessing "a kind of palpable magnificence to the moment usually reserved for international summits and such."

That's right. TeeJay met Gheorghe.

And here's where I'll let Teej himself take the writing utensil...
~~~~~
[Grabbing crayon with fist]
Years ago, on a dark, foggy night in Little Italy, this simple man bumped into the man, myth and legend who graces the marquee of this here blog. It was a rushed encounter, but historic nonetheless, if only for me blurting out what I consider a classic line in celebrity encounters: "Hey Gheorghe, you, Little Italy? Ironic, huh?" Sure, Big Gheorghe and his interpreter were both confused and frightened by this, but it's still a major highlight in this dope's brief time on the planet. For years, I hoped Gheorghe and I might meet again, especially given the expansion of this little corner of the blogosphere, but I figured it would never happen...

Fast-forward to three weeks ago, and my place of employment finally came up huge... Gheorghe was slated to be the featured guest at one of our conferences, and I was determined to buck the trend and make the sequel better than the original. I was more excited than Ralphie with his Red Ryder BB Gun -- I was going to chat with Gheorghe Dumitru Mure┼čan. Skirting all true work responsibilities, I sauntered up to the big guy, muttered something about his awesomeness, and shook his hand. Shaking his hand is akin to one of us grabbing a marble -- just an absolutely massive individual. Hell, take a look below: the guy's as big as me SITTING DOWN. (And in case you can't tell, I'm a 6'2", 230 lb. load...Whit, you couldn't have airbrushed out the double-chin?)

This time, I was determined to make the most of my brush with ghreatness. After a bit of small talk, and surrounded by work folks who probably expected me to do work all day, I simply said to our hero, mentor, and namesake, "Google yourself sometime, Gheorghe -- you'll be pleasantly surprised."

Ghita, on the off-chance you ever take my words to heart, this post is for you...
~~~~~
And there you have it. Let the wild debates ensue about which was a more monumental meeting, but I'm calling it a wash. Say what you will about Frost-Salk, but when rabid blogger and unknowing, 7'7" bloggee convene in the same nine-square-foot Convention Center removable floor paneling, it's gotta be something special. In fact, if we really, truly are "dedicated to the premise that life would be better if we all took ourselves a little less seriously," this latter encounter pretty much supersedes every interaction we at G:TB have ever had.

70 comments:

TeJota said...

Robert Frost, Jonas Salk and Gheorghe Muresan.

Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen?

Greg said...

I enjoy my internet with a side of pretension.

Mark said...

That pic seems likley to blow somebody's cover...

TJ said...

That guy looks much better hungover in a Hawaiian shirt.

rob said...

teej is beloved down at fremulon incorporated - just ask him

TJ said...

Kramerica is hiring...Greg, Whit, you interested?

mike_sisler said...

Only TJ can make an Eastern European man look tan.

Mark said...

How about you get me a job that allows me to stay in Florida?

TJ said...

Not if you plan to take that job and then decide two days later you want to return to Florida.

Mark said...

But I already said that I want stay in Florida. I'm confused.

TJ said...

So am I...bartender, beer...better make it three.

Any guesses on how many "fans" will be with me at Nats/Pirates game tonight?

Eric said...

If I lived in Florida I would also be nicely tanned. But I don't think anyone would be impressed, since I would also be sweating 24/7.

Greg said...

Two worlds collide, rival skin tones.

TJ said...

OK, that one got me...

kungpao said...

I once shook hands with Orioles Pitcher Ben McDonald. You don't see me naming my blog "Big Ben: The Blog" do you?

Is there a "Bol: The Blog" by the way?

rob said...

kungpao - for your edification:

http://gheorghe77.blogspot.com/2003/11/mission-statement-or-whats-gheorghe.html

gheorghe is a way of living, not just a guy.

manute: the blog has a nice ring to it, though.

TJ said...

Get on it Kungpao...

TJ said...

I wonder if Busted Tees wants to make "Gheorghe is a way of Life" t-shirts.

Whitney said...

Funny -- Kissing Suzy Kolber had a post yesterday about Suzy acknowledging their blog. A perfectly timed pair of posts.

Now, all we need is for Fire Joe Morgan to get a cease & desist letter from Joe (not because what they say is statistically wrong, but because he played the game and just has a feel for them being wrong), A Price Above Bip Roberts to get a call from the Bipster, and Just Call Me Juice to have a glove-'em-and-cleave-'em type run-in with OJ, and we'll have a blogging coup d'etat.

kungpao said...

I'm tempted to start a whole array of Bullet-themed competing lifestyles:

Chapman: The Blog
"I was into crystal meth before crystal meth was cool"

Mugsy: The Blog
"Freakishly overachieving since 1985"

Manute: The Blog
"Dinka Badonkadonk"

And, coming soon:

Pecherov: The Blog
"Big Borscht Buys a Porsche"

Mark said...

The whole name of Just Call Me Juice comes from the writers encounter with OJ many years back, no?

TJ said...

Yes, yes it does Mark. And where is the Peter John Ramos blog in that list?

rob said...

McIlvane: The Blog
"Take the Money and Run. Slowly."

The Price Brothers Blog
"Alt-Christian Rock Lyrics"

Mark said...

Personally, I like:

Koncak: The Blog

Whitney said...

You can read Koncak: The Blog for a mere $75 a post.

Whitney said...

Just came across

Calbert: The Blog
"Even David Copperfield couldn't utterly disappear on a 94' x 50' hardwood surface like this!"

TJ said...

Rod: The Blog
"Guaranteed to make you puke as much as our namesake at halftimes"

TJ said...

Some get Rob Iracane over here, because it looks to me like we're building a comedy pyramid...

rob said...

webber: the blog
"dedicated to the premise that this weed belongs to someone else"

kungpao said...

We used to have the old arcade "NBA Jams" game at college, and I got my name on the records list playing with Gugliotta and Cheney. You haven't lived until you've heard Marv Albert screaming "Gugliotta! HE'S ON FIRE"

nickbphat said...

I have been blessed and have met Gheorghe twice. The second time, he was signing autographs at the ESPN Zone, and I asked him to sign a basketball for my brother Joe (a huge fan), and his response was, "How do you spell 'Joe'?" He also made a joke the first time (oddly at a UMD vs. Davidson NIT game), but I couldn't really understand him.

kungpao said...

My mistake, it was googs and Harvey Grant. Unbelievably, there's an entire Wikipedia article dedicated to it. I always played Googs, though.

TJ said...

Towards the end of my senior year of high school, I often skipped out of school to play NBA Jam at the Latham Circle Mall arcade. Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mouring were unstoppable. Yep, I am that cool.

rob said...

i skipped high school to play pong. on a transistor radio.

TJ said...

And you rode a horse and buggy home.

kungpao said...

The Miami Heat had Rony Seikaly and Harold Miner.

kungpao said...

"Hornacek! HE'S ON FIRE!"

Mark said...

Undoubtedly one of the greatest arcade games of all time.

And to give a reference as to how bad the Mavs were at this time, the featured players were Derek Harper and (wait for it) Mike Iuzzolino. Yep.

rob said...

no, i hate horses.

best video game athlete ever?

tom chambers

Whitney said...

Was that the game where Tom Chambers could dunk from the 3-point line? I always wondered if he'd greased the programmers' palms a little.

Whitney said...

Wow, we spent too many years hanging out, Rob.

TJ said...

It was based on truth...

rob said...

that's a little bit spooky

chambers has some competition from tecmo bo jackson and lawrence taylor

Mark said...

I never get tired of seeing that dunk. Jackson sure ended up in a lot of guys' highlight reels for being such a good player. Anyone remember that alley oop that Jordan caught on him in the Garden early in their careers? That was impressive.

kungpao said...

Wow. Iuzzolino. I haven't heard that name in a long time. If I remember correctly, you had to play Dallas first in NBA Jam, and that's probably the most play Iuzzolino ever got in his career.

According to Wikipedia he's coaching the women's team at Duquesne.

rob said...

so this is odd.

the google feed has a post from october 2004 about carmelo anthony being busted for pot as the top gheorghe story of the day.

stupid googles.

TJ said...

That's because I was in there yesterday "erasing" certain items that might get me fired. You know, like my full name.

rob said...

yes, t. coraghessen boyle is an uncommon moniker. i can see why you're concerned.

rob said...

according to ballhype, g:tb is the 144th ranked sports blog in terms of hype. that's disappointing. we're so top 122.

fwiw, mlc is #161 among mlb blogs, which is just depressing.

TJ said...

Ned Flander's Leftorium gets more traffic than you guys.

rob said...

people just don't want quality discourse.

Greg said...

You also better erase any references to Gregoire P. Hillasand whilst you're at it. From now on, I'm Gene Balboa.

Whitney said...

Gene, are you still hanging onto Koko's lucky harpoon?

TJ said...

Link of the Day, courtesy of James F. in NYC

TJ said...

NEW YORK (AP) - A man has sued the maker of the health drink Boost Plus, claiming the vitamin-enriched beverage gave him an erection that would not subside and caused him to be hospitalized.

"Oh, uh, it's the pleats..."

rob said...

hey teej, how did will leitch get into our email?

http://deadspin.com/sports/you-know%2C-willem-dafoe-really-does-look-like-the-patriot/weve-always-thought-we-kind-of-look-like-youppi-266320.php

TJ said...

That is too much Youppi for one week.

TJ said...

I attended the Nats/Pirates game last night, and I found this attendance figure quite comical:

Attendance: 19,169 (42.6% full)

There were 9,000 people there, max. Oh yeah, here's a fun game - match the Nat to his at-bat intro song:
A. Felipe Lopez
B. Ryan Langerhans
C. Mike Bacsik
D. Ryan Church

1. "Walking in Memphis"
2. That Big Pun "Crush A Lot" song
3. Ozzy's "Crazy Train"
4. Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name Of"

rob said...

felipe's gotta be the big pun, right?

rob said...

probably paid attendance, right? whole mess of corporate and season tickets went unused.

TJ said...

Correct, Felipe = Big Pun.

Whitney said...

There's no way a pitcher would have "Walking in Memphis," so I'm ruling out Bacsik.

Mark said...

I think I remember Church using Rage in Spring Training one year.

Also, I finally got off my ass and wrote something over at Drunk & Stupid.

Greg said...

Does that mean you want us to read it? Maybe I will and maybe I won't.

TJ said...

Church is actually the Ozzy song, Langerhans (who honestly might be the worst hitter in all of baseball) is the Rage...and Bacsik, the dumpy pitcher, is Walking in Memphis.

Mark said...

I just figured I'd let you jerks know since you and TeeJay have given me shit for being lazy.

I don't care if you read it though Greg. I just want you to love me.

kungpao said...

After the way he pitched last night, Bacsik's song should have been "I'm a Bitch" by Alannis Morrisette.

kungpao said...

wtf I am such an asshole.

I'd like to retract that last post, please. This is not Philly, and Mike Bacsik has done nothing but give his all since he's been up here. I think he's great, and I'll take a team full of Bacsiks any day.

Give me a bus full of Bacsiks, and I'll give you a World Series ring. Give me an army full of Bacsiks and I'll bring Democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Whitney said...

1. Alanis Morissette, at this writing, has not recorded "I'm a Bitch." That was Meredith Brooks. (The singer.)

2. I have had a few things to say about Mike Bacsik in the past at Misery Loves Company, none of them too positive, to include "Mike 'Make Explosion Noises Here' Bacsik" and this true statement:

"New York, however, has skipped over Mike Bacsik in favor of tonight's regularly scheduled pitcher, Steve Trachsel. Based on pretty much any analysis, this is a pitching upgrade reminiscent of going from Rudy Stein to Amanda Whurlitzer for the '76 Bears."

Carolyn said...

Grandpa Jack. How incredibly understated. Thank you for this story.