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The Morality of Bowling

No Agnolotti, after all. Ate pizza in Hudson. Tried to find a bowling alley with open lanes but Monday is a big league night in the Hudson Valley. No lanes open at any of the bowling alleys. I must confess: I have never bowled a three hundred game. My friend Cliff Hall, whom I've known since third grade when I beat him in the fifty yard dash and then we got into a fistfight, has a ring from a three hundred game he once bowled. He might have a few of those. I consider 160 a good, solid score. But I haven't bowled in about a decade. I'm not sure why Teresa and I decided that tonight might be a nice night to knock down some pins. Where is all of this going? To Tokyo. In kindergarten my friend Toby and I were hanging out in the parking lot of the Tachikawa Air Force Base Bowling Alley while our mothers spent the early afternoon sipping Miller and rolling gutter balls. At some point Toby decided it would be a good idea for us to go inside and for each of us to grab a ball and then roll it down the sloping parking lot. This ended up being a terrible idea, with the end result of two badly damaged bowling balls, one car with two immense dents in the passenger side door, and two 5 year-old boys in serious trouble. Moral of the story? Aren't blogs about morals? Never play with bowling balls in the parking lot.

I'm attaching a family photo from Easter of 1976. That's me in front with the bowl cut and the glasses, hands in my pockets. That sweatshirt was my favorite item of clothing for a few years. I wore it night and day. On the front appears the front view of a lion and on the back the rear view. The kid in the striped jacket is my older brother Jeff, and to my left is my older sister Tami. Behind us our mother is wearing some truly funky '70s jacket .

When I first decided to set a book in Tokyo I went through a number of family photos from the early '70s during our time stationed at Tachikawa. This is one I studied for some time. The backdrop of the suburban house that could have been anywhere in America was especially intriguing. To look at the snapshot you'd know nothing about the people and you'd have no idea that just behind the house were runways and the machinery of war. This is from where the novel Exit A took off.

On the Cries and Whispers Criterion DVD there is an interview with Bergman from 1999 done for Swedish TV4. On it he recounts his famous dustup with a prominent critic. The story goes that he punched the guy, but Bergman claims to have simply grabbed his collar, that by the time he reached the critic the man was in fear for his life and cowering in his chair. Well, it's a great story.

I read in Manhattan on Wednesday and then I'm off to San Francisco for a Thursday night reading and then on my way to Seattle and Portland. It will be good to be back in the Pacific Northwest. I will make time for old friends over some oysters at Jake's in Portland.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. Exit A: A Novel
    Used Hardcover $9.95

  2. Exit A: A Novel
    Used Hardcover $9.95

Anthony Swofford is the author of Exit A: A Novel

One Response to "The Morality of Bowling"

    mike skidmore March 15th, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    Just saw your post about growing up at tachi, we have 3 tachi groups, one is on facebook so stop by and say hi. lots of tachi kids in the group. i have thousands of tachi photos from 1945 to 1977

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