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MMM crier

Monday 11/9/20

Walked eleven miles again this morning and ran the BC stairs ten more times. What that means is that in the last four days, I've walked forty-four miles and ran 10,800 stairs. Worked on an op-ed for Thanksgiving in my head, and a short story, "Little Gloves."

I need to try and do something on Meathead's behalf. Wickett is going to help me. Must start moving on that. For whatever it is worth, which won't be much. One of these days I need to be wrong about that. It simply will have to finally happen. Wickett is an honestly, stirringly good person. He's the kind of person my father would have thought was a good person.

There is a transient man in the Common on early weekday mornings who serves as Boston's town crier. This is even what he calls himself. He's been the town crier since 1980. Because I am often walking early, I see him. He tells you the weather, and how the local teams fared the night before. He also wishes you a good day, tailoring that to whatever day of the week it is. So this instance I got a "Have a good Boston Strong Monday!" Because of my Bruins beanie--which is my official workout beanie, and thus different from my Vaccines one--he engages with me about the Bruins. Even now. On Friday he exclaimed "Go Bergeron!" and then opined why the Bruins failed to win it all this year (they were tired). Today was the first day though I've ever heard him plug several YouTube videos in which he features, and a documentary. Think about that--1980. Yaz still had four more seasons to play. The Islanders were winning their first Cup. Wayne Gretzky was in his first NHL season. London Calling had just come out. Ian Curtis was alive. Orson Welles had five more years to live. Larry Bird was in his rookie year. The Empire Strikes Back came out. Carlton Fisk was still on the Red Sox. Reggie Jackson was a Yankee. Jimmy Carter was the president. Team USA won the gold medal in hockey. And this dude was the town crier. I'm out there so early, that it's usually just the two of us.

What a drubbing Brady took last night. I only saw the first half. I have seen him play worse. He was awful, though. That Tampa team looks like they don't have a clue sometimes. Or, that they don't have a clue, and it's fine on occasion, and blows up on different occasions. Depending upon outside variables. I was starting to think that they maybe had something there, but I can't see that now. The program, as such, looks pretty off. What faint hope the Patriots had of making the playoffs essentially came to grief with their loss in Buffalo last week, and Buffalo knocking off Seattle, something of a surprise. You could jigger with the schedule to make a stretch for the Patriots getting to 9-7--highly unlikely though that was--and Buffalo coming back enough. People are not accustomed to this--it's not yet halfway through the season, and the Patriots would perhaps have to win out to make the postseason. When could you last say that? In 2001, they were 5-5, and, of course, did not lose again, but even if this squad gets to 5-5, there's no comparison. Such a thin roster. They may be able to duct tape it together somehow, but best case scenario you're talking a patch-job team that Belichick guiles into a few wins. I think you'll see 6-10 when it's all over.

And though I doubt it mattered when you're shellacked like that, but Brady's obsession with Antonio Brown is counterproductive to everything he wants to achieve. You were bopping along--don't bring that guy in. You had plenty of weaponry. What I did see last night was a great deal of pressure on Brady, a lot of it coming from up the middle--he hates that. Has always been the best way to take down his game. There looks to me to be something internally off with the Bucs. I would wager it's a power struggle. Brady isn't going to respect this coach. Arians has been around forever--he coached under Bear Bryant (himself born in 1913)--but Brady is a full-fledged diva now. That status dates back to the 2017 season. I think he became so big for his britches--as they used to say--that there was only one coach who could reign in Brady, and that relationship was on its last legs in 2018 when the Patriots somehow managed to win a Super Bowl. But like I said, I only saw most of the first half. Then I put on Quiet, Please and went to bed.

Felger tries so hard to be contrarian. If the Patriots are clearly great, he says they suck, and when they actually suck, he's like, "they'll go 7-2 and make the playoffs." He obviously believes nothing that he says. The thing about just about every radio program--and every Twitter profile with a high volume of followers--is that if you pay any attention for like a week, you know the entire drill. Once and forevermore. You know the one-note routine. The complete lack of nuance. The simplicity. That's not the right word--the cudgeling stupidity. You know everything about the business model. Roxane Gay. And it is so simple that you should be insulted by it. It's like voluntarily watching the same shitty episode of a shitty sitcom 300 times in a row. You are bludgeoned with the same thing, day in, day out, day in, day out. (To use a bit of Joy Division.) Matt Walsh on Twitter. Same thing every time. Same phraseology. Same points. Same rhetoric. Same facile metaphors. Same glibness. The shtick takes the exact same form sans the mildest variation. Why do people like this? You can be very stupid and still identify exactly what is going on just by looking in over a few days, scanning the latest serving of poorly wrought, insincere, covetous, baiting, deceitful, hyperbolic, grifting words, or tuning in a handful of times.

Why not have someone brilliant who always has new things to say in new ways? Maybe we should try that? Maybe we should follow that guy.

Alex Trebek died. He seemed like a nice man. You don't know until you know someone, and often then, you don't know. But he struck me as brave with how he handled his diagnosis, and how he continued to live as he wished to live. I am not a Jeopardy fan. In fact, I have never had much in the way of regard or respect for the show. I'll even say it's deleterious, because it causes people to conflate trivia--which is meaningless--with knowledge. It makes a verity of the superficial. The surface. And not just the surface--but the smallest portion of a surface. I think Jeopardy is anti-knowledge, and it actually encourages people to learn and know less, because it hands out plaudits in connection with the barest minimums of knowledge. You can succeed on Jeopardy--and feel like you are, too, as you watch--if you can answer, "This Concord-based Transcendentalist took to a cabin in the woods where he wrote the classic Walden," with "Who is Henry David Thoreau," and you need not know a single thing about him, what he did, what he wrote, and that book. And I do not believe anyone has ever watched Jeopardy and been prompted to go out and learn anything based on its trivia--the answer is the ends that justifies the Jeopardy means. It's not the beginning--it's the end. Not the opening of a search, but a concluding commendation.

When I was a kid, my mom would have it on, and I wouldn't watch it with her. I said, nope, I'm off to read some Dickens, I'm off to watch a film about Ben Franklin, I'm off to study my field guide to birds, I'm off to listen to Mozart. Jeopardy doesn't teach, it doesn't encourage you to learn--it rewards you if you know one single thing--the most basic thing--about a given subject. There are so many people who think this is knowledge and education and learning because they know some trivia. And if you actually know things, you know that trivia is as far as you can get in some ways from knowledge. As for Trebek, it always seemed strange to me that he devoted his working life to this peddling of trivia. I thought he would have wished to do more. It seems like he could have. I know you're supposed to say, oh, Jeopardy, it's the best ever, and all of that, but I see folly, I see something more harmful than beneficial. Go out and learn something. Learn it with depth. Trivia is meaningless. Jeopardy hooked people on trivia, and it blurred the line of perception between the trivial and the important, so far as learning went. I don't think that's remotely a good thing. What Jeopardy also did was encourage people to know one thing about one thing when it was something they hadn't heard of before (if their memory even allowed them to do this). To not even having a talking point--just that one bit of trivia. This becomes a way of being, mentally. And I think it's a terribly limited way to be. If one sees the program for what it is, and enjoys it, obviously that's fine, that's great. But I think a lot of people do not. Especially when it's discussed as this teaching tool, when that's not at all what it is.

Learn from the top to the bottom. Don't just stay on the top, on a patch of ground the size of a square on a checkerboard.

In the same regard, I've never played Scrabble, and I never will. Words are precious tools, pieces of humanity, forms of music, building materials of shared experience, flakes and flecks of the soul, that facilitate connection. They are not, for me, for parlor games. The idea of fashioning the longest word one can think of simply because longer is better is anathema to me. The words one uses must always be dictated by context if one uses words with peak efficacy. Sometimes that's the "normal" word, sometimes that's the seven syllable word. The people involved play a role in determining those words, the mood, the subject, the progression of sounds, of meaning, the relationship the words have to each other, the timbre, the intent, the linguistic architecture, directional flow. I get that this isn't how it is for other people, and that's fine. We are different. But that's how words are for me, and why I have never accepted an invite to be somebody's Scrabble "ringer" in the past. This isn't something I've ever told anyone. But it's certainly how it is for me. On the whole, it wouldn't be worth it for me to give this explanation with just about anyone I've known. I'd like to think at some point I'll know someone who is close to me who I will say this to or who will have read it here, and they'll think, "Yes, that makes perfect sense with him, I don't see how it could be otherwise." But the people I have known, when this comes up, and they're all "You'd be amazing at Scrabble, blah blah blah," I just do a "ha ha ha ha tee hee hee," and accede to their gist.

My football thoughts here re: Brown and Brady led me to pitch a short story idea to Esquire tonight. I think I really have something there. You put what is an opportunity on the table for someone. An opportunity to do something special and big. You hope they take it--by which I mean, you hope they let you do your thing and you can both reap.

Read some of James Agee's film writings at Starbucks tonight. His essay on D.W. Griffith--and I'm so tired of The Birth of a Nation nonsense from people who have never seen the film and just want to race-bait--is essential reading. Whether you care about cinema or not.

I've noticed on my early morning walks to BC that it is colder when I get to Brookline. This is the first Christmas tree of the season that I have spotted, in Kenmore Square. Billie Holiday performed at the building in the background.


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