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From one glove man to another

Monday 4/25/22

I wrote a story last night called "Bitches," which is entirely about guys calling each other bitches. It's actually quite good. Why do I qualify with the "actually"? It's not for me. I make no allowances or apologies for a masterful work of art. It's for someone else--it's a rhetorical qualification, to make a more important point. Someone else might want to think that such a work, with that title, described thusly, couldn't be anything, or it must be misogynistic, and isn't this the guy who just finished a book made up completely of female narrators and protagonists? Can he be trusted to do that in good faith, let alone to achieve remarkable results with it?


Regarding the latter: the excerpts are in these pages. They prove what that book is. Secondly, I explode form, convention, expectation, the notions of possibility as people have come to think they know them, every single damn time. And that's what I did here, with "Bitches." It's as wise as art can be. Which is to say, as wise as anything can be.


So there were three stories from the weekend. The second one, which was from yesterday morning, and which I'll work on again soon, is called "Ashes, Ashes." It's about a man who turns up at the house where he used to live--the "used to" being not that long ago. The story begins in the middle of a conversation, the door, between the man and his wife. She's still his wife, though that's about to end. He's come to the house with the signed divorced papers, to drop them off. It turns out they're in this pocket he didn't even know he had. It's a story about the various forms of pockets. These transport devices, and these stewards, custodians, of so much that is so important to us. And yet pockets ask for so little, do they not? To be patched occasionally, if that. They call no attention to themselves, but they are a vital part of the human enterprise. We learn a lot about these people in this exchange. In the present--which is not what it seems--and in the past, definitely, and the future, somewhat. It's clear from the story itself--various phrases, suggestive clusters of words, and rhythms in the language--that there's a play on the song, "Ring-a-round the rosie/A pocket full of posies/Ashes! Ashes!/We all fall down."


I watched some of the Bruins-Canadiens game last night, which was led off by a lengthy tribute to Guy Lafleur. I knew Jack Edwards was going to make a 1970 too-many-man-on-the-ice joke, that he had one pre-written, and he did. He is an awkward man. His broadcasts are wearing me down this year. He's just not funny, he forces things, and then Brickley has to do this fake laugh and I hate the inevitability of all of it. Sometimes I'm embarrassed for Edwards.


Brad Marchand has had a down season. I don't think you'll ever see him be the same player that he was again, save in flashes. His head has gotten the better of him, taken him off his game, taken his focus, and he's getting older. Also, re: Patrice Bergeron: good player. Not much more. Has never been much more. Never great. I like him. But he's the most overrated Boston athlete in my lifetime. He's just not given you enough offensively over his career. That's what a forward has to do the most--that has to be their main thing. Defense is nice for a forward, but that can't be your main thing if you're to be great. It's an accessory to greatness. An add-on.


The idea of having "fan hate" for a player on a rival is completely lost on me. Guys are just guys playing their sport. Most of them do it the best they can for the team they happen to play for. It's not personal, and they're not doing anything to you. They're doing the exact same thing the guys on the team you root for are doing, and would do if they were on that other team. I encounter all of these qualifiers like, "I hated the Canadiens, but it was hard to hate Guy Lafleur."


Interesting facts: Mike Bossy was never awarded a penalty shot in his entire NHL career. Lafleur was awarded one, but it wasn't until after he came back from his retirement with the Rangers in 1988. So all of those years when he was blazing up the ice, he never got tripped up on a breakaway, or enough so that a ref ruled that a penalty shot was in order.


Lafleur had six great seasons. His legacy is founded on six seasons. They happened in succession. He might have had one or two more, but he got hurt. For me, six seasons doesn't put you in the top twenty hockey players of all-time, which is where I often see Lafleur. That is no knock on him.


I was thinking about the roll call of the Canadiens' pantheon, and how it would go. I'd say 1. Maurice Richard 2. Jean Beliveau 3. Doug Harvey 4. Guy Lafleur. I'm not sure who goes next. Dryden and Roy don't feel the same to me, so far as Montreal fans go. It could be Cournoyer. I don't mean the list as a ranking of the best players. I'm talking about the guys who represent what a Montreal fan thinks of as a proper Canadien. Richard is overrated, but he epitomizes the spirit of that franchise. Harvey was better than Beliveau, who is also overrated. Why he shows up regularly in top ten lists of the best all-time players mystifies me. Cournoyer was fast, has the French name, and the cool nickname ("the Roadrunner"). There's a provincialism to being a Montreal fan, and also to how the team is run. It's hurt them going back to the 1980s. Doug Harvey is not overrated. I think he's the best player that franchise has ever had.


I will say something honest. Not that this is an exception or what isn't consistently--exclusively--happening. I have never seen any intelligent post on Twitter. Not once. In years of looking at it. I've never seen a thoughtful post. A well-written post. A funny post. An original post. I've played along--though not often--and hit the like button, but I've never seen a single thing written by someone else that could add anything, however small, to a life. I've never seen an interesting perspective. Nothing has ever made me laugh or smile. I've never thought, "I need to see more from that person!"


Today I saw that Steve Martin was trending. You know how Twitter bills it--because Twitter lies to you--and it says something like, "People discuss Steve Martin's comedic performance on SNL of King Tut."


People don't discuss anything on Twitter. The term "discuss" implies reason and balance. Modulated voices operating in a symbiosis, if not necessarily agreement. People on Twitter harangue. They all but rape grammar. They whore for attention. They steal other things that other people post, which were also stolen. What's the thinking there? You take someone else's words--which themselves were imbecilic--and you're such an empty, sad, pathetic person, that you'll pass them off as your own, in hopes of what? People hitting the like button?


But this is what makes the current version of the world go 'round, and success is predicated upon principles--anti-principles, in essence--like this. You want to succeed, be a moron. Be utterly forgettable and of no consequence whatsoever. Possess no ethics, integrity, character. Never have insight, never convey truth--by which I mean unfettered, pure truth--and provide comfort to other people with your complete lack of intelligence, humor, ability, which is tantamount to shouting, "Hey! I'm in your boat!" Better to come from money, better to check off certain skin color and gender boxes, better to be all into cronyism and nepotism. Best to be insincere--always. Be the human version of a Facebook filter, a Gif, a meme. In other words, you better not be a human, as what is best meant by being human.


I'm an inveterate reader. I like words that turn over, and it's hard for me not to read new words. I also like short forms, because in a way I get more words that way, and I don't have to invest time and energy in stupidity. There are more words that follow, if the words I've seen are garbage words. Problem is, those words are as stupid and meaningless as the words before them, but the concept and the ease with which one sees new words pulls me in, which is something I should limit, because it does me no good.


The first tweet I encountered on this subject read: "Steve Martin is trending. We can all agree that he is a genius, yes?"


This is a rare variety of a tweet--the likes of which you won't see save but maybe once a month, because it uses a comma properly. That ", yes?" construction" is a fancier way of speaking than ever happens on Twitter. More learned, I mean. You wouldn't express yourself that way if you hadn't read some. It's a moronic statement, of course. A bald, boring, nothing of a statement. Steve Martin is a genius? Really? That's what you think a genius is? So, like, in The Three Amigos, we had no less than three geniuses working together, because I've seen the exact same thing about Martin Short and Chevy Chase. This is what you think genius is? Is anyone dumb enough to think that? To honestly believe that? What's your definition, then? So pretty much everyone is a genius? But this is the point. It's a stupid remark, made by a stupid person, who kind of appears smarter, but not in a real way--so there's no threat there--because of that comma at the end. Then, everyone else gets to say their stupid things. It's an invite to the stupid people to say whatever the fuck they please, like they're not stupid. See how that's democratic? People like that. Stupid people like that. They don't actually like it. They don't enjoy what they read. It's completely inconsequential to them, save that it has passed the talking stick--you know how that goes, in tribal custom and at interventions--to them and now it's go-time for that idiot. My turn to talk! Equal footing! And yes, as always, parallelism. So, your success, your following, is based on providing this service of idiocy for idiots. It's not based on being smart, funny, talented. In truth, those things are anathema to success now. 400 likes for that. See how it works?


Here's the real question: Is it possible for an intelligent, talented, funny person to be successful in our world? Here's another question: Is it possible for the most intelligent, talented, funniest person ever to be successful in our world? What does that mean if the answer is no?


This is Nellie Fox hawking a glove in an ad from 1960. A glove has fingers; a mitt does not. First baseman and catcher's mitt. For instance. "From one glove man to another" sounds faintly dirty. "Light weight" should be one word. Note Fox's ubiquitous chaw, which he couldn't even dispense with for this photo. I'll be your glove man, by the way. In the larger scheme of things.