The past two weeks have been a miserable slog for those of us who value sports, music and literature.
If you don't partake in any of those mind-and-soul-nourishing activities, then you should probably stop reading this and move to Walmartville, N.C. Them folk'll be happy to have you.
The abundant sunshine accompanying this early spring has been tainted by a pile of ruined knees, lost seasons and dead geniuses.
To make sense of the madness, I've created a rough timeline documenting the trauma of these past two weeks.
It's not pretty, but suffering rarely is.
Saturday, April 28, 1:38 p.m.
My friend had just arrived in town, and we were spending the afternoon at Fichtner-Mainwaring Park. There was ample sun and a warm breeze. Summer was in the air.
Meanwhile, 1,800 miles to the east, the Chicago Bulls were up big in their first-round playoff game against a gimpy Philly 76ers team.
I decided to skip the game in order to visit with my friend. The NBA playoffs are a month-long campaign, and I felt sure my team would make a long run, as our superstar point guard Derrick Rose was looking tip-top after an injury-plagued season.
And then a text came.
It was from my friend Joseph, a fellow Bulls diehard from Illinois. It read, simply, awfully: "Rose hurt."
Torn ACL. Playoffs done. Season over.
That night I went for a walk and came back wearing my moody pants. As I walked through my door, my friend asked why I looked so down.
"Rose's injury is bothering me," I said.
"Oh, what else is wrong?" she asked, surely thinking that something in addition to a ruined season and crippled millionaire athlete had ushered in my depression.
"Rose is hurt. What else is there?" I blurted.
Friday, May 4, 9:42 a.m.
It felt good to sleep in. The morning sun beamed through the windows, promising another warm, summer-like day.
And then, the text came. Actually, three texts, back-to-back-to-back.
The first was from my friend George in Ashland.
"M.C.A. rip. Damn. Fight for your right to party."
The second was from my friend John back home.
The third was a tweet from Questlove of The Roots.
"Yauch dead. (Expletive)."
Suddenly, the sun no longer mattered.
Like most males in their late-early 30s, I owned the Beastie Boys' "License to Ill" on cassette. I played it mercilessly. It was the one tape I owned that my father seriously considered smashing with a hammer in front of my face and handing the pieces back to me.
("What is this sh—?," he'd say as he walked by my room on his way to the crapper, "Paul Revere" blasting from the 5-inch speakers of my Emerson mini-stereo.)
Adam Yauch, aka MCA, a founding member and arguably the intellectual and spiritual foundation of the Beasties, succumbed to cancer at age 47. This scares the hell out of me. If it can get Yauch that young, it can certainly get me.
I spent the next few nights listening to "Paul's Boutique," the Beasties brilliant follow-up to "Ill," and "In Sounds From Way Out," their below-the-radar funk instrumental epic.
In fact, I'm listening to "In Sounds" as I type this.
Tuesday, May 8, 4:13 p.m.
It was my Monday, which means catch-up day at work. I hadn't had time to catch up on any news happening anywhere outside Southern Oregon.
And then ... well, you guessed it.
"Maurice Sendak dead," it read.
The one thing I enjoy about writing this column is that I receive notes, letters and email from a wide spectrum of Southern Oregonians. Many of them begin their messages with something along the lines of, "I'm a geezer in my 60s but I read your column ..."
I dig that. Maybe you haven't heard the Beastie Boys, but you make the effort to read the thing anyway. I like connecting with people this way. I don't give a flip about age. Just read my stuff and have an opinion.
We might not share the Beastie Boys, but I damn well bet that "Where the Wild Things Are" has occupied an important space in my life as it has yours, my dear readers in your 40s, 50s, 60s and, maybe, 70s.
And now Sendak is dead. And the people of Walmartville still are probably trying to ban his books because, as far as I can tell, they present childhood in a complex, bizarre and scary manner.
Walmartville residents seem to have forgotten that childhood is: A. Complex, B. Bizarre and C. Scary.
Good night, Mr. Sendak. Your wild rumpus was legendary.