Wednesday, December 03, 2008
We lived in Florida for three years, right in Clearwater just across the bay from Tampa. That part of Florida is a massive concrete sprawl that makes Toronto look like the middle of nowhere. Just thirty years ago it was not this way but migration from all over North America turned a stretch of small sleepy towns into a massive hive of mini malls, pawn shops, chain restaurants and trailer parks. Some wag once referred to Tampa as Oakland with beaches. I've never been to Oakland but I can't believe its worse then where we used to live.
We lived in a decent little complex in a nice little neighbourhood. One week just outside of our complex in the nice little neighbourhood some guy drove around and shot at people randomly. He killed one person and wounded another badly before he was caught.
Twice we had SWAT teams come into our nice little complex and take down neighbours of ours.
Oh, it was an interesting place for sure. One of our neighbours was a greasy long haired creep who reminded us of Kid Rock. Buddy didn't work. He hung out by the pool all day, drinking beer between drug deals. We'd see him every day as we drove in, wandering about, big brown gut hanging over his swimsuit, straggly ponytail, beady little eyes.
Just down the road was the causeway to Tampa and along the south side of the causeway was a little stretch of beach. Twenty minutes the other way was the Gulf of Mexico and a long stretch of beautiful white sand stretching from Clearwater Beach south to St. Pete's Beach. Miles and mile of lovely lovely beach. We would go there once in a while but I spent a lot more time at the causeway.
The causeway beach did not have beautiful white powdery sand. It did not have the Gulf of Mexico. There were no beautiful young women from Canada or New England or vacationing families with little kids playing in the warm water. No old men fishing from the shore. No lovers walking barefoot on a quiet stretch of sand.
The causeway beach had bikers drinking beer, trucks parked right at water's edge, blaring rap music, drunken belligerent teenagers, snarling pitbulls and shouted curses.
It also allowed dogs.
So once or twice or three times a week I'd drive the five minutes down to the causeway and park the Neon and take the big fellow out for a walk. On the western edge of the beach the water came almost up to the shore so there were no cars parked there and we could walk in the shallows for quite a while with nobody about to bother us. While I walked, usually lost in my thoughts, the dog would boot about, rousting flocks of gulls, sniffing at dead marine life, generally enjoying himself in the canine manner. And of course he would fetch whatever I threw out into the bay for him to retrieve.
When he first joined us in Florida once we had gotten settled there he was barely a year old and had ridiculous energy and exuberence. One Saturday he went into the water over and over again, probably about a half hour of it. Into the water, bounding, then swimming. Get the stick and back to me. Then out again. Thing is it was actually a little rough that day, fair sized waves crashing on the shore. When I finally realized that the end result of our game was going to be him going under, having a stroke or me going out after him I called an end to it. Your big black dog slept for the next two days straight, no word of a lie. Poor guy, almost killed by his owner's ignorance. Not the only time either.
Other then that my main memory of the causeway beach were the people. They made our friend Kid Rock look like a multilingual doctor of philosophy. We're talking scum of the earth, people. Tattooed, sneering, drunken, inbred, pork rind eating, racist, Ford driving hillbillies. My God!
I remember Jenn and I driving along the beach looking for a spot where the dog could swim when we saw a pickup truck. Rap music blared from the speakers while a teenage girl no more then sixteen, cigarette drooping from her curled lip, can of Busch in each hand, shaking her ass in her thong bikini, at least eight months pregnant, danced in the bed of the truck.
The funny thing is whenever I see a picture of Rob Schremp I think back to that causeway beach. Why? I don't know. I just can picture Sugartits sitting on the back of his pickup, drinking a beer, baking in the sun with his buds. There's just something so wonderfully trashy about the guy and since that picture of him in his Stars and Stripes Speedo I just keep thinking Kid Rock Kid Rock Kid Rock.
Having said that I was looking around LT's site today at his summer prospects' list and in the thread I commented that Schremp was going to get his shot this year as the injury callup if and when one of the kids went down. Blind squirrel, here's a nut.
Schremp has gotten a lot of love and a lot of grief over the years. He's flashy and the kids love him and there have been many who figured him for Horcoff's replacement before he had even played an NHL game. Not a great skater and a lack of compete, as they say, he was a healthy scratch in the American league a few times in his first year as a pro. He improved and said and did the right things but an injury slowed him last fall and he was passed by Nilsson and Gagner and Cogliano and Brodziak and suddenly it looked like his window had closed. With Nash and Eberle coming down the road and the acquisition of Brule it appeared that Schremp's days with the Oilers were numbered, over before they had actually begun.
To his credit Schremp has again done all they have asked of him this year. I am sure that he was told that the plan was to bring him up when a spot opened up in the top six as soon as someone went down if he kept his mouth shut and worked hard. He has and now they have.
He is the tenth Oiler draft pick to play up front this season, a nice tribute to the club's revitalized procurement department. Better still is the fact that under Tambellini they are bringing up the kid to play the role that he should play. Not an energy guy playing four minutes a game with Stortini and Reddox. Rather, it looks like some time with Gagner and Cogliano and probably on the PP.
Here's hoping he does well. It sounds like he is going to get the proper opportunity. Now its up to him, as it should be.
Posted by Black Dog at 9:30 AM