Author and sports writer Mike Shalin wrote an interesting article about the New England Patriots recently. The Lewiston Sun Journal carried it in the sports section today with the screaming headline “PATS IGNORING NOISE.”
Once again, at this late date in the Patriots’ victorious season, Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft, and Tom Brady have been spirited about in some kind of controversy. It’s a gossipy tale of “he said, he said” and if I hadn’t been ignoring the noise all season myself, I might have more insight. Controversy? What controversy?
According to Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, the by-week practice fields are a peaceful playground of football intensity. Belichick oversees a manly cocoon of gridiron peregrinations, devoid of rumors regarding Brady’s wheatgrass smoothies. Gronkowski told Shalin “you just gotta ignore the noise and just focus on what we’ve been doing all year and that’s preparing hard, studying our opponent, getting ready, mentally and physically for the big game, so what’s going on on the outside, as a team, as an organization, just gotta keep grinding, keep going, keep doing our job.”
In my own life, I’ve often contemplated what it might be like to be a New England Patriot. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I have no desire to literally play football. What I mean is how does one ascend to the place where there are no distractions and no noise? How easy it would be to “do my jobs” if I could only transform myself into a Tom Brady-esque trance of focus. How many assistants would I need to do that?
The Maine State Library in Augusta has a wonderful collection of microfilm readers. On occasional Saturdays, I sneak away to the library and spend a few hours ignoring the noise of the world. I generally find myself reading Cold War-era Portland Press Heralds and Maine Sunday Telegrams. I occasionally have that moment of Belichick-induced nirvana Gronk raved about; like when I zeroed in on this quaint, December 30, 1951 picture in the Maine Sunday Telegram. The two college co-eds were right in the middle of the page, alongside Marjorie Standish’s “Cooking Down East” column.
My scan of a scan of a scan lacks in clarity, but the caption read:
“Holiday time is party time—the two just seem to belong together. We’ve passed the big event, Christmas, but the New Year promises to bring its share of pleasure too. School folks of all ages are the particularly lucky ones for they have extended time away from the books and school chores to relax and enjoy themselves.
Many of the college students find that in addition to the more formal dances and parties, a spur-of-the-moment party for neighborhood groups can be lots of fun and not too difficult in preparation.
Alicia Daniels of Tufts College, left, and Nancy Merry, of Georgian Court, Lakewood, N.J., are planning just such a get together. Luckily there is a congenial group of fellows and girls in their Sylvan Site, South Portland neighborhood all home for the holidays so a party seemed to be the order of the day. Here they are readying the traditional New Year’s eggnog for the gang who will be pressed into service a bit later for sandwich making, record selecting and other party necessities. Share the fun and the work’s the idea.
Theirs will be a happy new year for sure and we hope that all our readers will be too—and many more the same.”
We live in a strange time of isolation and fragmentation. I would bore readers with my itemized list of cultural atrocities. Egg nog? It’s probably not even politically correct to talk about, let alone make. Senator Susan Collins is probably writing up a bill right now to make it illegal for minors to whisk eggs without a permit and God forbid they do such things as make their own sandwiches.
What’s to be done amidst the cultural noise and confusion? These wars and rumors of wars? For me, I’m taking my cue from the Patriots:
Ignore the noise.