It was nice to go to two events that were in close proximity. The first was a glass art show in Balboa Park called "Splendor in the Glass." There were a couple of musicians playing outside. They had a tip jar and I was tempted to put $5 in and say, "That's only if I don't hear 'Free Bird,'" which is a joke you hear in bars with cover bands. But, considering they're playing acoustic standards without vocals, maybe "Girl from Ipanema" would work better.
There were lots of tables set up with fruits, cheeses, wines, and desserts.
Before I scarfed down four brownies, I thought I should at least check out the art. I was impressed by an artist named Susan Hirsch, who had large contemporary pieces.
There was a guitar made of glass that I was surprised only took third place. I joked with Leslie, the artist who made it, "I'd love to see Pete Townshend get a hold of this."
She didn't agree. It took her 70 hours to make.
She made a huge puzzle that the crowd surrounded. It had perhaps the longest title in glass art history: When Mrs. Jig Saw How the Pieces of Her Life Fit Together She Felt Less Puzzled .
I overheard someone say, "Imagine if a kid was playing with this and broke it." I said, "Hey, a puzzle made of glass...probably still safer then those toxic toys from China." Leslie overheard the word "break" and said, "A chair fell on one of my pieces once. Not this year." I said, "If that ever happens, you could just make it look like an abstract piece."
I went outside to get some food and overheard a couple say, "Couldn't just anyone come up here and eat? Homeless people or tourists who aren't even here to see the glass work?"
A guy named Marv, who I'm told used to do a lot of glass work, now works on his '47 Chevy woody. I asked him about working on his woody.
"When I got it, the brakes went out; the engine overheated. I put a lot of money into it. It's worth $100,000 now."
I said, "You probably have a Club on the steering wheel."
He said, "I'm in the San Diego Woodies, which is the club I'll probably be president of next year."
I explained what I meant by "Club," and he told me car thieves don't take cars that are so easily recognizable.
He said, "We have a show in September in Encinitas with over 250 Woodies. People from all over the U.S.; 70 percent of the woodies, though, are on the West Coast."
When he talked about the ash and mahogany wood, I joked, "Do you have termites?"
Marv said woodies were the original SUVs to surfers, and when he started talking about the history of station wagons, I grabbed a brownie and headed out.
* * *
The next event was at the U.S. Grant downtown, a reception of the Sixth Annual Pro Athletes for Life dinner. This was to raise money and awareness for organ donation. I had heard actor Lou Gossett, Jr., was going to be there. He was in the most underrated boxing movie of all time, and I was thrilled about the chance to meet him.
Diane Brockington is the woman who got me into the event; she's married to former NFL star John Brockington, who had a kidney transplant. I asked how they moved out here (since he played for the Green Bay Packers), and she mentioned Willie Buchanon, who I saw walking around the event.
I saw a few famous athletes, such as Ben Davidson and his mustache.
Diane and I talked about the controversy over Mickey Mantle's liver transplant after supposedly ruining his liver from drinking, as did musician David Crosby. I asked if any religions prohibit organ donation. She said, "The ethics of transplantation are interesting and complex. One way to get to the top of the list is to be really sick. They look at who needs it most, regardless of how they got there. If prior lifestyle were a consideration, then all those folks who eat themselves into diabetes and, as you point out, drink their way into organ failure, would be excluded." She took the time to explain the procedure to me.
I watched as she looked around the room. She did a fine job of greeting everyone. She had two Charger cheerleaders cheering for everyone who came in. A gang of fake photographers snapped photos as people entered, and fake fans asked for autographs as they walked by. Most guests smiled and enjoyed it. A few seemed confused.
Diane came back and picked up her conversation where she left off. She told me all major religions support and endorse organ transplants. I'm curious, however, when she mentions that Jehovah's Witnesses "require that the organ be cleansed of blood."
We talked about what a classy guy Walter Payton was. I told her I sent him a football card as a kid and that he autographed it and sent it back. She told me that Payton raised a lot of awareness in the Illinois area.
I laughed when Diane said, "For the hardcore in love with the idea of taking their pancreas to the great beyond, I would share a couple of facts...the 97,000 wait list in America would disappear in four and a half years if we all signed up."
I told her I hadn't seen Gossett walking around and she said, "Well, he says he's sick. So he won't be here." I was bummed.
I walked around and looked at the items up for auction. I saw autographed guitars from Bon Jovi, Tim McGraw, and Faith Hill for $1500. Signed football helmets from several Chargers and Packers players. Players such as Tomlinson and Merriman are hard to read, and you wonder who would want those when you can't read it. But, Tony Hawk's autograph looks as if he printed it out.