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Bruins broadcaster Jack Edwards

Saturday 4/1/23

I have come to the point where I can't take Bruins play-by-play guy Jack Edwards much longer. He's never been good at his job, and what he offered in the past--insofar as he offered anything--was that you laughed at him. You didn't take him seriously, he'd say something wacky, then maybe you'd do a "Do you believe that Jack Edwards?" sort of thing with someone else by quoting one of his over-the-top bits. He wasn't skilled in his job. He was hammy, but harmless so long as you were experiencing him in what felt like a low dose.

I am always working. By always, I mean always. Every second. I am never just sitting there and watching a game. In the case of Edwards, I think that has in essence provided me with a buffer to his act over the years, but the buffer has at last been worn through.

I understand how Jack Edwards thinks and what he thinks of himself. This year, he has had obvious trouble with his speech. Everyone notices. Any time there's a Bruins game, if you go on Twitter--not advisable--you'll likely see that Edwards is trending and people are asking if he's inebriated, if he had a stroke, if he has Parkinson's, etc.

I am cleaning up what they say, because I am not a sick ghoul, but one gets the idea. Edwards speaks in odd cadences, then too fast, then too slowly; he butchers and slurs words, and he's very in-your-face. He's a cartoon character who saps your energy. He doesn't set up anything in your mind's eye in terms of a fuller picture of what one is actually watching, and he doesn't have insight into the game. Not that that's his job, but you don't feel like you're in the secure hands of a man who knows the game, thinks through the game.

If a play-by-play guy is great at what they do, you feel like they have a deep understanding of the game at hand and its nuances, the history of that sport, and what is happening in that very moment in that one game (in its place within the great tapestry of all of the games), which matters, even if it doesn't matter in the standings and it's two last place teams on the final game of the season before packing it away until next year. Fred Cusick would be a good example of this.

Edwards' knowledge, as such, is ancillary. That is, it doesn't have to do with hockey--it's what he would consider cross-cultural. He's not some "mere" sportscaster; he's a brilliant, multi-faceted critical thinker possessed of much worldly, historical, and artistic knowledge who happens to call hockey games. He thinks he's noble.

I'm sure he's not bothered by what people say, because he looks at those people as members of the rabble. The idiotic, unwashed masses. And they're not keeping him from making a handsome living. Were they doing that, I'm sure he would care. (Plus, it's his act. It's all he has, though what he'd tell you is it's who he really is, and make it some thing about freedom and heroic individualism.)

He'd have a point there. That's what they are, mostly. But he lacks awareness for what he really is.

Edwards isn't bothered by the complaints against him because he fancies himself this intellectual on account that he owns a copy of Waltz for Debby and has a subscription to the Criterion Channel and different kinds of robes/dressing gowns/smoking jackets for different kinds of things (reading, grinding expensive coffee beans, opening a limited edition bottle of Islay whisky, pruning his Ficus) and reads a history book by a faux-historian like David McCullough--the kind of history book purchased at the airport bookstore by people who also believe (without inspecting the belief) that Malcolm Gladwell is a creative, cutting-edge thinker and not what's really a pseudo-intellectual version of a rent boy for David Remnick who is sufficiently stupid not to threaten via comparison the delicate ego of the likes of a Remnick who is stupid himself and who fools the patron-type members of the patronizing upper class who don't even really care anyway so long as it looks like the right kinds of lips are on the right kinds of asses. In their world, that means all is right with the world. Nothing matters to them but them and that.

Edwards' "knowledge," in his mind, is in how he cross-references. He ties some line about the Tea Party and old Boston harbor ("...a bunch of rowdy radicals charged out of some Boston bars, went down to the dock, and dumped the King's tea into the salty sea...") into a Bruins-Canadiens game (likely thanks to a McCullough book).

That's what makes Jack Edwards think, "Damn, I am special." It's what puts him deeper in love with his own voice. If Jack Edwards' voice offered to jerk him off, Edwards would be out of one of those dressing gowns of his in the time it takes David Pastrnak to get off a one-timer. (You like that?)

He thinks of everyone else as cretins. Which they are. But he's also a fool who's bad at his job.

The other day Edwards just started saying the word "parallax" over and over again. His partner, Andy Brickley, had no clue what he was talking about. Brickley typically does not.

I find it awkward and alienating that Brickley just pretends he understands Edwards, which makes it like Brickley is lying to the viewership multiple times throughout each game (as a result, Brickley's fake laugh/attempted snicker gives off creepy uncle vibes). No one knows what Edwards means, often. I mean, I do, but if I'm the only one catching your references and who knows what you're talking about, that's not going to work.

The Parallax View (not a good movie, but a pseudo-intellectual's idea of a good movie; kind of like Blow Out; there were a bunch of films of that nature in the 1970s) was recently available on Criterion. I bet you anything that's where Edwards got it from. He doesn't even bother to be clear, explain. It's like he assumes you think whatever he thinks (or that the demo he's really addressing are those whose members are on his rarified plane, as if those people--the ones who really count--are out there getting what he does and knowing how great he is) and once he knows something that he discovered in what he thinks of as his intellectual travels as the last of a kind of deep thinker and aesthete, all he has to do is use that term and the right people will be awed. It's a new part of the act, but he thinks of it as just another verbal offshoot of what a Renaissance man he is.

Simply, Edwards thinks he's a thinker. A very cultured man. People mocking him only reinforces this in his mind. He says the same awkward phrases ("tumbling muffin," "takes the serpentine route"), and he uses each of them a set number of times every game. Not some games. Every game.

He's so in your face from the drop of the puck it's like you can smell his breath. I want to say, "Back off, guy."

As for the slurring and word-mangling: There is clearly something going on. I don't want to speculate. But NESN should be making sure his health is okay or that he's not coming to work unfit to work.

The other night, after the Bruins beat the Carolina Hurricanes, who were dressed in old Hartford Whalers uniforms--because the team played in Hartford twenty-five years ago--Edwards had his canned line ready to go, which consisted of, "Strip the blubber from the whale and burn it!"

A smart person understands how stupid people now are in our society. I don't mean that they recognize that they are dumb. I mean that they understand how they're dumb. What that really entails and how far it goes.

There is maybe one out of 100 people who have any idea that whales were once harvested from the sea, and used for all kinds of products, and that their blubber was burned.

When I'm running stairs at Government Center, if I simultaneously conducted a poll of everyone passing by in the so-called "smartest" city in America, and asked them if they knew what this line meant, I would expect that not a single person would have a clue, unless they were over fifty, and probably over sixty.

I deal with this all the time. If you write, "The color of the orange is orange," many people are not going to understand what the color of the orange was or what an orange is. History? There is no way.

You can reference whatever you want to reference. I do it. But it has to work in context. What I mean by that is, if people don't know the reference on its own, the surrounding framework of your language, your presentation, your tone, your story--all of the above--makes it so that they get it. It's the same with a word that's rarely used. And that is increasingly more words than ever, since we now speak in the same dozen words.

We are so bad at speaking that we can't make a single point we want to make anymore, which is why we say "literally" instead.

"Literally" is a stand-in for actual words of substance and clarity and point-making. It's a desperate cry for help, a kind of linguistic scream that translates to, "I can't even speak anymore, but please know what I want you to believe I'm right about. Please. Help me."

The world feels cold to these people because they are incapable of communicating and connecting with anyone in it; to do the latter, you need to be able to do the former. They can't. They are alone, scared, broken, depressed, angry, paranoid, prone to lashing out so as to attack before being attacked themselves. That's how they think. That's how most people now think. And it's who they are. What they've devolved into being. Society, as a result, sinks lower and lower and lower.

These are things you need to have in place to be a good writer. And also a good broadcaster. Or to be any good on the radio or a podcast. Or just at talking.

But now everyone sucks at all of these things. I did look at Twitter after Edwards made this capping remark, and of course no one understood the whaling reference. People were actually asking why anyone would strip blubber from a whale. They don't know that whaling was ever a thing. If you started describing it, they'd think you were making it up.

Thursday night Edwards tried to make a Van Gogh reference, which he got all wrong. His remark was that Van Gogh lost an entire ear (this was in relation to Edwards being upset that a five-minute major wasn't assessed after a crosscheck caused Patrice Bergeron's ear to bleed). He did not. Again, it's that kind of half-assed, pretend intellectualism. Van Gogh cut off a piece of his lobe. That fleshy part at the bottom. He didn't take a razor and shear his whole ear off from his head.

But you have to actually know things to know that. Jack Edwards doesn't know anything, then he's just up in your face panting all over you and getting his nasty spittle in your eyes and mouth, which is what a Jack Edwards broadcast feels like.

This is Fred Cusick, by the way, doing a game between the Bruins and the Blackhawks back in 1974. Skill, class, energy, quality.


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