Truly, madly, unironically

May 15th, 2011 § 3 comments § permalink

Yes, I too “truly dig this”—without irony; without reservation—just as I truly dig the original version of “Africa” by Toto. Why? Because the absurdity of a 27 year-old enjoying a 30 year-old arena rock ballad is just too damned funny to keep to myself? Of course not! No one likes anything for that reason. I like the song “Africa” because its sounds are pleasing to my ears and associated brain receptors. That is how music is enjoyed. To like ironically is impossible. So why the qualifiers?

I will let the much wiser Brian Eno explain:

“In the 70s, no one would admit that they liked Abba. Now it’s fine. It’s so kitsch. Kitsch is an excuse to defend the fact that they feel a common emotion. If it is kitsch. you put a sort of frame around something – to suggest you are being ironic. Actually, you aren’t. You are really enjoying it. I like Abba. I did then and I didn’t admit it. The snobbery of the time wouldn’t allow it.

I think there’s also another element. By the time we reach adulthood, our preferences have mostly crystalized. On top of that, we’re so wearied from resolving conflicts that we fear drawing attention to interpersonal differences in preference for worry that it will lead to another exhausting disagreement. Earnestness is an invitation to argument, and argument gets us nowhere. So let’s just say I may or may not like this, but if I do like it, I don’t like it in any serious way that could oppose your dislike of it. Now let’s talk about something we know we both enjoy, or better yet, hate!

Perhaps it’s just a function of my age, but it seems that the capacity for simple enjoyment is under constant assault. It’s unacceptable to like something without apologizing, rationalizing, equivocating, stipulating, or—to the other extreme—fetishizing the fun right out of the very thing we enjoy. In this respect, we deserve our own misery. So please—just enjoy stuff, okay? You don’t have to tuck it under your shirt, and you don’t need to paint your chest with it either. It’s there; it’s a part of you, not all of you; you’re fine; I won’t judge you. Promise.

al Coda

May 6th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

[One more post, and then I will shut up. Promise.]

If I didn’t already suspect it, Sunday night convinced me that much (not all—please note this subtle distinction) of the nonviolent and anti-war sentiment expressed by the left over the last ten years was team spirit—proof of membership more than principle, preening more than pacifism. Underneath the talk, they, like their flag-waving adversaries, always yearned for that feeling of victory—not just to be a victor but a righteous victor—and bin Laden’s murder was the first militaristic act in ages to clear the bar. The tolerance for destruction was always there, only with a stricter standard for what is righteous.

That isn’t to say I advocate extreme pacifism—I like to believe I do, but I don’t think it would hold up to an onslaught of counterexamples and hypotheticals—nor am I against preening. After all, it’s a principal reason why we express beliefs in the first place (consider this post a case in point), and rallies are great places to meet chicks. I would just like to hear more lefties admit that because pacifism doesn’t seem like the kind of thing to fake. Green living makes pretty plumage, but war is serious shit.

If you’re curious how I can admonish the celebration in one breath and defend Rashard Mendenhall’s 9/11 conspiracy talk in the next without being a hypocrite, I can’t, and I don’t. That’s the consequence of writing from a voice, as opposed to my voice. As I mentioned in a previous comment, Median Disposition Vinnie is a bore—always equivocating, never taking a stand. Instead (how to say this without sounding crazy…) I mine the voices in my head (…probably not that, but I’ll go with it) for the one that’s feeling ignored and let him speak. Monday’s cap was a victim’s lover, a pacifist, furious and stupefied that a violent act inseparable from the one that took my friend’s life could send the masses into full pep-rally without pause for how that might tear me apart. No, I am not this person; I don’t know this person; but I am fairly certain this person exists. If I had more restraint and humility, I would know their voice gets heard without my intervention, but I don’t. It’s misleading, patronizing, probably useless, but it’s what I do.

Maybe Rashard Mendenhall was a fool for saying some of the things he did.  I don’t believe that, but I can understand why people would, especially those reacting to the conspiracy theories. Still, what I don’t understand, what I can’t seem to get over, even four days later is this: A destructive act, one in a long series, committed as retribution for even more destructive acts was cause for celebration, and only those who questioned the celebration were expected to defend their reactions. Even Median Disposition Vinnie can tell you that’s fucked up.

“Most players aren’t experienced enough to handle the dangers of Twitter.”

May 4th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

Even back at my old, [more] amateurish stomping grounds, mocking Skip Bayless was an effort beneath my pay-rate, and in the years since, I’ve silently vowed that my Deadspinning days were behind me forever. But what the heck—it’s a new decade, and I need a break.

Apparently, Skip Bayless thinks… You know what, just watch the video:

He “deeply believe[s] in freedom of speech, ahhhhbviously,” but freedom has it’s limits—the sullied mystique (sovereignty?) of Steeler Nation being one.

The official bird of Steeler Nation

So yeah, banning Twitter. I’d thoroughly enjoy watching that game of whack-a-mole should some megalomanic owner ever take the Skip Bayless Social Media Challenge.

In bounds

May 3rd, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

Athletes are paid exist to run fast and avoid getting injured. Rashard Mendenhall was wrong to advocate nonviolence say something unpopular. Rashard Mendenhall should apologize for yesterday’s tweets having opinions. Rashard Mendenhall should be denied access to a keyboard his own thoughts.

Fortunately the PR chaperons stepped up to shield the boy, for he has no agency of his own.

Blow out the candles and pray

May 2nd, 2011 § 12 comments § permalink

I expected my muted, somewhat sheepish reaction last night to be a place-holder for a nasty, anti-jingoistic rant, but now that the steam has cooled, that rant no longer seems necessary, appropriate, or heartfelt.

I would, though, like to clarify that I meant no disrespect by my un-celebratory mood; I genuinely don’t understand the cause for celebration. I would attribute this partly to an anti-celebratory bias; saying that I don’t like to celebrate my birthday wasn’t just meant to be cute. In my mind, all celebration is tempered by duty and doubt and tinged with pessimism—after all, the next inflection point is invariably a trough—and at that point, there’s not much room left for catharsis.

To celebrate “righting” a tremendous amount of destruction without any hope of undoing a single iota of that destruction is—in my book—no celebration at all. The act of retaliation was itself another act of destruction—small, perhaps, by comparison to the act being retaliated and arguably instrumental toward prevention of further destruction (not my point to debate)—but it was nonetheless destructive. Because the initial act of destruction is not only part cause but the effective reason for the smaller destructive act, I consider the two inseparable; celebrating the latter necessarily celebrates the former to some degree, or outright ignores it.

You may disagree with that logic, and I suppose you could argue the same if, say, tomorrow we found a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. And while I don’t deny that this would be fantastic news, I’m not sure how heartily I could celebrate that either. The undoable destruction would leave me at least a little pensive, if overwhelmingly hopeful.

What happened last night, though, was an appalling end to an appalling series of events instigated and escalated by appallingly destructive human choices. To celebrate it like the birth of a first child is not just reckless but, I think, perverse. I apologize if this sounds like obnoxious finger-wagging, but honestly, that’s what it’s meant to be.

It’s quite possible—some would say likely—that civilized human society and the very continuation of our species is more imperiled than most of us come close to acknowledging. I hope it wouldn’t take our collective demise to regret past celebrations of human destruction, but if seeing three countries in less than two years nearly obliterated by natural disaster hasn’t reformed us, I don’t see many other possibilities.

(For further thoughts by better writers, I recommend Will Wilkinson and Dennis Perrin.)

I don’t get it

May 2nd, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Then again, I don’t like celebrating my birthday either. I guess it’s possible we’ll get the day off work from now on, so there’s that. I don’t have much else. Seems like I picked the right night to turn in at 9:30.