I was at the doctor’s office this week to get some minor stitches in my arm.  As he approached with his hypodermic, the doctor and I got to talking.  He mentioned how surprised he was that young people who came into the office with tattoos or piercings all over their bodies were frightened at having to get a shot of local anesthetic.

     “They’ve had needles stuck into them for, at times, hours at the tattoo parlor,” he said in befuddlement.  “Why would they be afraid of my single needle?”

     “Because,” I countered, “when they go to the tattoo parlor, they are going by choice, maybe even under the influence of alcohol or drugs, to have a procedure done by someone they see as an artist, who is dressed much like they are.  Sure, there is pain, but it is braved in service of a ritualized enhancement. It’s simple cost-benefit analysis. The transitory pain leads to a worthwhile end. And they know that going in.

     “On the other hand, when they come to the doctor’s office, they see an authority figure clad in a white smock, speaking in a strange tongue, medicalese – who else would call a bruise an ecchymosis? – and the pain is associated with an injury or disease, the end of which is, to them, generally uncertain.  

     “So the fear stems from the vast difference in the psychological terrain between the edgy certainty of the tattoo parlor, and the sterile uncertainty of the doctor’s office.  Hey, they should’ve taught you such things in medical school besides that condescension they always stress in third year.”

     I winced as he stabbed me with assurance.



     The 1300-person crowd rose along the front stretch as hip 5, Jordan McNamara of the Oregon Track Club, made his move.  The St.Louis Track Club Men’s Mile was the final race of last night’s Big River Festival of Miles, and in the final 100 meters it had boiled down to a three man fight.  On the inside ran John Jefferson from Team Indiana Elite, a 3:57 man who had charged to the lead at the bell with 400 to go.  In his slipstream the hometown favorite, Stephen Pifer of the Oregon TC, a native of Edwardsville, Illinois from just across the Big Muddy from St. Louis, a 3:56 man with scores of fans urging him on.  And waiting, waiting, waiting was McNamara, who had a PR coming in of 3:59, but had won the “B” heat of the Oxy High Performance Meet in L.A.on May 21st in 3:42. So he was in form, and rarin’ to go.

    I was on the P.A.  It had been a great night of racing, beginning with the Go St. Louis! Healthy Kids mile won by Nick Thatcher in 5:29.  The fourth annual series of races served as a fund-raiser to benefit 2008 St. Louis U. High All-State high jumper Mike Rathmann, who was paralyzed just a few weeks after graduation in a vacation accident.  His mom, Toots, was on hand, as well, celebrating her birthday.  Good night all around for the Rathmann bunch. Continue reading


     St. Louis, Mo.- I’m back in my old hometown to serve as guest announcer for tonight’s fourth annual Big River Festival of Miles presented by Under Armour.  Taking place at my high school alma mater, St. Louis University High School, the FOM is a series of races from an open mile for boys and girls from first to eighth grade, to invitational boys and girls high school miles, to an elite/pro women’s 800 and men’s mile to close the program.

     The Big River Festival of Miles was conceived in 2008 by fellow SLUH alum Ben Rosario, co-owner of the Big River Running Company, and a former Hanson’s Distance Project runner.  The first FOM was staged to benefit the family of Brigette Schutzman, a standout cross country and track runner for Saint Louis University who had been badly injured in a car accident on New Year’s Eve 2007.   The meet raised $8,000 for the Schutzman family. Continue reading