Tuesday, April 05, 2005

A Few Things

First off, as a premise for the rest of the time I post things on this blog, we will assume that all sportswriters are idiots. This does not include David Halberstam, because he is a historian. It does include anyone you might find on ESPN.com, CNN.com (I could give a shit about the lattes Peter King's been ordering) (and I might add, Dr. Z does not count either, as he is one of few sportswriters with common sense and a sense of humor as to the folly of taking sports seriously). I write this because I get more and more annoyed with Bill Simmons every time I see a post from him. I used to love everything he wrote, until I started looking at all things I read with a critical eye. I talked to my brother the other day, and we agree that he's awful when he gets away from talking about the NBA because you know what? No one likes a town that complains about it's sports heartbreak when it's had some of the finest basketball and hockey dynasties in sports. I might also add that many of these people define their geography with sports. Sports. Yes. "I come from Yankee country." No, you don't asshole, you come from northern Massachussetts. You come from indian country, if anything. What gets me so annoyed is a) the omniscient voice sports writers tend to speak with. This omniscient voice may be true with anyone voicing an opinion and especially on the cable outlet stations, but aside from political discourse, nowhere is the omniscient voice more abused than the sports world. It's most despicably used on ESPN, where they commonly have a segment called Fact and Fiction, and it is harmless, to be sure, except for when the dorky guy calls the former quarterback a dumb jock and the former quarterback calls the dorky guy a poindexter. Mature. But the very notion "fact and fiction" is what has come to dominate the discourse in (innocuously) sports talk and (maliciously) political talk. The idea that something must be indisputably true or otherwise a bald-faced lie is a disservice to anyone, especially when those arbitrating are as manipulative as your Bill O'Reilly or dumb as your Sean Hannity. It may serve me here to widen the scope, because this is the media today, not just sports and politics (though those two do, of course, dominate the medium), but I won't because I'm boring myself.

Onwards, the small things that annoy me about Simmons add up after a while. He once wrote a column asking whose a better actor, Pacino or De Niro. You cannot qualify such questions as you might with sports, and even then, it's dicey. Who's better Tom Brady or Kurt Warner? How about Warner before the flameout, when he had one of the greatest seasons of all time? So then how about Pacino before the mid-90s (and we can ignore the awful Scarface remake) when emoting to Pacino did not mean widening his eyes and saying "Asshole" with three syllables? To Simmons, it all came down to the scene in the coffee shop, where he claimed Pacino broke character by smiling at the very end. That was the tale of the tape to him. Directors, especially those of Michael Mann's caliber, would not leave such an obvious goof in such an important scene. There's a slight, almost imperceptible look on Deniro's face after they say it may not come down to killing each other in the end. Then Pacino smiles. It's the obvious pipe dream that it won't come down to such an end for two driven characters. It's small things like these that annoy me about Simmons, and they build up.

Next: social protocol. I've gotten a rap for being misanthropic at times, and at times I've earned it. I can't stand bullshit social protocols, saying hi to people I'd rather not. I've also, in rare occassions, confronted people I find distasteful. Here's the way the social protocol will work with your richer Marquette kids: say I disapprove of someone because he treats women with disdain and descriptive vulgarities; say he also happens to pretend to take a moral stance on most issues. So basically, say he's a total bastard. But also an acquaintance, who I have had friendly conversation with before. Because I haven't made a note of telling him how abhorrent he is, I am his friend. So, should he mistreat someone and act like the lout that he is, and suppose I confronted him about it. I would be the one labelled an asshole, because confrontation on such dicey issues is just something you don't do. Talking to people you can't stomach is preferred. Fuck that. I found most people I ran into this past weekend to be grotesque. Frankly, I have neither the willingness or the intellectual dishonesty to pretend to like them, because to me, acting in the way I've described is dishonest. I'm sure as I have more perspective on this later on, I'll mellow my stance. As things stand now, however, I'd rather antagonize people I don't like by not talking to them than become friends with people I can't stomach because I do talk to them. Amen.


Blogger T Po said...

your seinfeldian approach to social life would only work if you had his fictional balls--you know Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld only got the breaks they did because they participated in the bullshit you hope to avoid--good luck in hollywood--even Lewis Black kisses somebody's ass

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