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Worldwide hoodoo

Thursday 4/15/21

* I revised a short story from a couple years back called "Net Drive." I knew I'd have to touch up a few things, make some stuff more clear. That's done now. The entire narrative takes place within a single play in a high school hockey game. It's a story about sexual orientation, a complicated family history, the locus and mystery of identity, and the whole damn thing transpires in real-time as a high school senior receives a pass on his backhand on the left wing, with an All-State defenseman in front of him, and advances to the goal. Wholly original. Nothing like it. The ultimate sports story, and also not a sports story at all, in an equally viable way. It's a very exciting story. The story itself feels like watching sport. You'd have to know a lot about hockey, sports, and movement to write it. And more still about life and humanness.

* That's what you want to do, and it's what nobody does. What other people do is cover their area, in their limited way, such that only people who are interested already in that subject could be interested. You read a piece on Beethoven for instance--it's for Beethoven people. Someone talks about sports, and it's just for sports people. You want to write a piece on Beethoven that someone who knows nothing about Beethoven and does not care about Beethoven could love and lose themselves in. So: Beethoven and more than Beethoven. This is what I do. It's never "just" about the putative subject. I am always writing and talking about "the more." That opens up the work to everyone. Not just a group. Not someone with a going interest or concern. At the same time, if your whole life was that subject--Beethoven or the sport--then you're also giving that person things they never knew, never thought, would never know or think on their own. You're catering to everyone at maximum levels. A kind of unofficial motto of mine is no reader left behind.

* Until yesterday, I did not know who Chelsea Handler was. What an astronomically stupid person. Unfunny. Untalented. I won't say as dumb as one can be--I've learned that you don't even want to fiddle with handicapping baselines in this area--but impressive in her stupidity. So, of course, huge success. And eight million people on Twitter desirous to see what this person, who is surely as dumb as anyone they know, has to say. A danger, too, to society and other stupid people who might actually listen to her. Also, a racist. An actual racist.

* Actual racists are not often discussed. A lot of charges of racism, of course, are made. But they're not usually even about race. They're about someone else, who is unwell and unstable, whose life is empty, who harbors much self-hate and insecurity, providing themselves with a service of self-congratulations, and/or making a buck. It's the brand for a lot of people. Certainly a widespread practice in publishing. Publishing is as racist and sexist as anything in society. Entire deals, hires, awards, are made on skin color and gender and nothing else but. Regularly. You are looked at for how you look. That can be the full-stop and full-extent of the evaluation. The surface of you is looked at, and then often dismissed, because it's the wrong surface. But I saw an excellent example the other day of an actual racist. There was this woman who went on the town Facebook page for some Massachusetts suburb. She happened to be African American. She said she didn't have a lot of hiking experience, but was looking to get out more, and were there any people who also wanted to hike, and they could go together or in a group? I admire when someone wants to do or try something and doesn't fail to do so because they're too embarrassed to ask, so they just sit there missing out on something that could add value to their life. We stand on too much ceremony. We are paralyzed by this fear that we will look weak or needy. So we hide our thoughts, feelings, desires, wishes. Which is, in truth, actual weakness. Go for it. Put yourself out there. Be brave, be vulnerable, be good and fair to yourself by willing to be so. Out of nowhere swoops in this white woman--I think her name was actually Karen--who was like thirty, a teacher, a walking cliche for what is now a brand of thought, who said that she would be this other woman's "white ally," and take her into the woods. Like she was her pet. Now that is actual racism. "I'll be your white ally." Disturbing. She could never see what she is. Has all of the right signs, and memes, and doubtless a lot of BLM references in her daily rhetoric, but a full-on racist treating someone else like a simple, helpless dog in need of her white help. And the woman who just wanted to hike, said something like, "I just wanted to hike, what does race have to do with any of this?" You could tell she was shaken up, hadn't expected this response, and I don't blame her. To the surprise of no one with an iota of intelligence, Karen defended herself, saying that Black people are often uncomfortable in the woods. Ha. You massive, actual racist. I'm noticing that so many of these people, too, are teachers.

* I pitched an op-ed. It was ignored. The idea was to stop putting everyone's color in magazine and newspaper pieces. I've noticed that color is almost always mentioned now, no matter the nature of the piece. "Three Black ballplayers went on a fishing trip in the off-season." Race is shoehorned into everything. Leave it out, and just make pieces about people, don't brand them or label them by appearance, and have it just be about them, and more people will start to think of other people just as people. Of course, that's not what the media wants, because the media wants clicks, and will do anything, no matter how vulgar, base, reductive, objectifying, or anti-human, to get those clicks. They'll call this something else. Pretend to be enlightened and value-oriented, but they know, and they talk about it among themselves a completely different way behind the closed doors--I've witnessed so much of what goes on behind those doors--than they ever would to the public they're manipulating and using. There is nothing that the media would not peddle if it meant clicks. There's no moral vetting involved. That's the pose that is struck and cultivated. It's all a business model. It's not a justice model. It's not a right over wrong model. It's not a truth model. It's not a basic human decency model. That's just how it's pushed. When convenient--that is, when the right rhetoric can be used, but that rhetoric is really just a cloaking device that allows for maximum infiltration. It's like that ex you had who looked like one thing but was the opposite and they were so hard at the deception that when we learned the truth we could hardly believe it, hardly reconcile it with what we though we knew--what we presumed was reality. That person is always worse for us--because they hide what they are--than the person who just comes out and says, "Yeah, I suck, I own it, what of it?" They do more damage to us because they get into us deeper. It's entirely parasitic. It's not dissimilar to how the drug dealer thinks. There is nothing that won't be preyed upon or exploited or pushed for clicks. Right, wrong, truth, very rarely enter into it. There's no honest concern with anyone's well being, at the personal or the group levels. Nor society's well being. Nor humanity's.

* Wrote an op-ed on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I am not a fan.

* Listened to Franz Ferdinand's second album and Chuck Berry's The Great Twenty-Eight. What a titan of art Berry was. As a writer, singer, guitarist. As I mentioned on Twitter, the guitar solo on "Thirty Days" is sick. You'll hear elements of Hendrix, Townshend, Beck, and flamenco music. It's the percussive way that Berry plays the solo. Compare it with some of Townshend's acoustic passages at the start of Tommy and what Beck does on the outro of the Yardbirds' "I'm a Man." Yeats was not a better artist than Berry.

* The Frog and Toad books I sent to my little niece for her birthday have arrived and my sister will wrap them for me. I hope she likes Frog and Toad. I am glad that I can give little gifts like this that perhaps other people just wouldn't know about and that they can maybe stir something special. My niece had my sister send me a photo of some flowers she liked and I sent her back a photo of my new flowers.

* With people debating whether Julian Edelman is a Hall of Famer--he's not, and he's not close--you'd think someone would be smart enough to say something about the guy who is the Patriots' best ever receiver, who should have been in the Hall of Fame a long time ago, and is not. This would be Stanley Morgan, who had nearly double the amount of receiving TDs as Edelman, had years in which he led the league with over twenty-yards-per-reception, thrice went over 1000 yards in an era where this was difficult to do, and nearly had 1500 yards one year. And his quarterbacks kind of sucked as passers--Steve Grogan and Tony Eason. The latter threw a lot better than the former. Grogan's thing was toughness and running, but he wasn't much as a passer. Stanley Morgan was awesome. I never expect anyone to say anything intelligent. I don't have much of a dim hope most times. But it would have been nice to see an astute and relevant point.

* Edelman's best chance is the "dynasty rub off" effect. There are guys who get in because they were on a team that won at the highest level for a sustained period of time. The most egregious example of this is Kevin Lowe being in the hockey Hall of Fame. He might be the worst player in there. At his best he was slightly above average. He had nothing to do with what those Oilers teams won. They'd have won everything without him. Certainly during the Gretzky years.

* Edelman was one of the best winners. He had a lot to do with his teams winning. He was fundamental to that winning. His teams wouldn't have won what they won without him. But that's not what determines Hall of Fame inclusion. It's about your career accomplishments, and that largely comes down to the statistical case. It's not about being the most memorable, the most famous, the best winner, the best postseason performer. I think it's odd and misguided that with the baseball Hall of Fame, for instance, postseason stats mean nothing. That's crazy to me. They don't help you, they don't hurt you. I think they should have extra weight. Football takes the postseason more into consideration. The basketball Hall of Fame is weird. People don't question who is in. The choices can seem esoteric. Why is Ralph Sampson in? Why isn't Chris Webber? Biggest omissions off the top of my thoughts: Ken Boyer, Theo Fleury, Tom Barasso, Fred McGriff, Vladimir Krutov. Obviously Schilling should be in. A lot of people think Dwight Evans should be in, but I'd no sooner enshrine him than Edelman. It took him too long to start doing anything. For half of his career--the beginning, which is weighted more heavily--he was a mediocre ballplayer. No one agrees, but I think Harold Baines is absolutely a Hall of Famer. A no-doubt Hall of Famer. What are you supposed to do with him? His numbers are huge. Nearly 3000 hits and over 1600 RBI. You're free not to like it and not understand how his career added up to all of that--or not like how it did--but those are Hall of Fame numbers. Some people get in for their career numbers. Some get in for their peak. Koufax. Some get in for a combo. Pujols. Look at Robin Yount's individual seasons. Look how many are pretty middling. He has the two MVP years. But a lot of the time Yount was just okay. Was he better than Baines? Sure, I guess. But was he first ballot HOF'er vs. sketchy VC pick better? Hardly. He was a touch better. His 1982 season though was like no season Baines ever had. But he's in for the cumulative stat line. Interesting Yount fact: He won the MVP the only two seasons he finished in the top ten for MVP voting. His career OPS is only .772.

* I called Brian Epstein Brian Matthews the other day on the radio. My bad. I had been listening to Matthews interview Roger Waters in 1968 earlier in the day.

* Walked three miles.


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