Wednesday, July 30, 2008

link of the day.

Pablo Defendini writes a blog called The New Sleekness. One of the things that The New Sleekness talks about a lot is a site called Tor.com that bills itself as a science fiction/fantasy site. Of course, being the forward thinkers they are, they sometimes post blogs such as this one advocating freely admitting to their own piracy which some people have problems with. It's a good read, brings up a lot of good points and might teach you something. Check it out.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

on the amazing adventures of kavalier and clay.

Pulitzer Prizes are kind of my new obsession. And while winning the Pulitzer is far from the best thing about The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, it is most assuredly justified praise.

The basic plot concerns two young cousins in New York City in the pre-World War II era. Josef Kavalier comes over from Prague, escaping the Nazi fate that awaits not only his family, not only his country, but most of Europe. It's a common enough story in literature, but Chabon does an impressive job of letting us feel young Kavalier's isolation, hope, regret, loathing, and hope once again, that he'll be able to get the rest of his family over to the USA. Sam Klayman is his cousin, living in NYC, who displays all the traits that we've come to expect from a plucky young man in this era, but who somehow never comes off as staid or generic. It's a testament to Chabon's writing that his characters can feel familiar and fresh at the same time; we've seen this story, at least at its most basic level, many times. However, there are things that set the story apart: Chabon's voice, the authenticity of emotion we feel emanating from the characters, the original plot that gets us to the main point - the boys create a comic book. More than that, they create a rich, original, wonderful world that's inhabited by the characters that express their deepest desires in ways they'll never be able to. Even after being called out on it (one of their friends tells Sammy, "Of course you made the Escapist big and strong. You've got bad legs, your superhero has to be able to dance perfectly.") the characters still don't seem too aware of the sheer levels of their projection. We as readers can see it (how bad do I want to see this cover that Joe Kavalier drew for the first issue, knocking Hitler out?) but the characters are average - they continue about their lives without the kind of self-aware meta-analysis that is common in most fictional narrators trains of thought today.

The comic book character, of course, is a success, but, as was standard at this time (and perhaps still now?), the boys are only the workhorses; the editors and the publishing house get rich, the boys get a pittance. The Escapist represents a lot of different things, obviously including Joe's escape from Prague, but I won't go into as many details as some of the other reviews that I've read (since finishing the book - I'm really glad I didn't read them before; it would have ruined one of the more genuine shocks I got from the turning plot!) except to say that it's certainly a theme. But, to his credit, Chabon never beats you over the head with the theme...he simply lays it out and allows you to observe.

Of course, the plot centers around World War II in a most logical way. Taking into consideration the fact that our two central characters are Jews and that one of them literally pours all of his being into saving his family from the inevitability of Hitler's domination, we have to get to it. The amount of time covered in the novel is deceiving - anytime I thought a lot of time had to have passed, it turned out to only be a small amount. This is not a complaint - it's amazing to see what Chabon is capable of doing while maintaining a tight timeframe. Too many authors space things out liberally while playing ambiguously with the passing of time, trying to surround their narratives with this universal sense of 'now.' But it's not always now, and this book and its plot are firmly centered around some very important dates.

Finally, the highest praise that I can offer this book (and I hope it comes off as truly sincere praise, not a cop out, since I really am a fan of the comic book genre) is that as I was reading the end of the novel, all I could think was, "Man, I wish these comics were real so that I could go out and read them next!" And yes, I know that recently, they've made some Escapist comics, that I'll now be picking up but, of course, I'm talking specifically about the Golem work and the various Luna Moth artistry that's so highly-hyped in the middle pages of the novel. The novel made me wish that it was a true story; how much higher praise can there really be?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

on partie traumatic.

Best album of the year? Not so quick!

The Black Kids dropped their new album last week (in a controversy-filled week, it got side-stepped amongst the Untitled bomb - which we'll take up sometime later this week) and it's a monster. This is both good news and bad news. The EP upon which it's based has been one of my favorite albums for a long while, pretty much ever since I first heard it. With 7 of the 10 tracks on Partie Traumatic being new versions of those songs off The Wizard of Ahhhs, you'd think I'd be in good shape to have my favorite record of the year, right? Well, you'd be right, in a sense. This is the early favorite.

However, these re-done tracks just don't live up the raw, un-mastered tracks that came to us on the first EP. The Wizard of Ahhhs was raw and you could hear the the kids in the band (and I do mean 'kids') were just having a blast making the record. The sounds were rough around the edges, but it works for this pseudo-dance-punk album. The re-worked version of "Hurricane Jane" (which I'm understanding is going to be the first 'real' single from this album, since "I'm Not Going To Teach Your Boyfriend to Dance With You" was technically off the last one?) in particular is doing good things. The track order is all right, but the most important thing was keeping the first track the same - 'Hit the Heartbreaks' (spelled differently on the different albums?) is an amazing opening track. It kicks things off on the right foot, with the first sounds you hear being raw and the first lyrics containing a knock knock joke. Yeah, seriously. It's amazing.

That being said, there can be no getting around the fact that the album is a step backward from the EP. There are great things to it, and it'll be on many "Top of 2008" lists (but apparently not Pitchfork's - that's OK, though...they haven't been near the top of their game for a long, long time) for good, justified reasons. Better still is the fact that it'll draw attention back to the good musicians making noise State-side. All the positives, however, can't outweigh the bad: the record is just not as good as the EP that came before it. Hopefully, the Black Kids will realize this, take a step back, and return soon without the over-the-top production that halts this record from being an instant classic.

Hit the Heartbrakes - Partie Traumatic Version
Hit the Heartbreaks - Wizard of Ahhhs Version

Thursday, July 24, 2008

link of the day.

We've all known that Ben Stein's gone off the deep end for a while now but it wasn't quite clear just how far he'd gone until yesterday, while on the Glenn Beck show (Fox News, of course), Stein implicitly compared Obama to Adolf Hitler. How you ask? By looking at Obama's daring plan to give a speech in an outdoor field. Yup, just screams Nazi, don't you think? As always, Media Matters has got the video and a little piece up in order to do the best job of protecting your democracy by not just letting crazy people say crazy things.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

on josh childress.

As always, when I have something busket-related to talk about Free Darko has done it before me and better. So if that's all you're interested in, go read their piece. However, I think there are more things worth mentioning than they get in to. One of my best friends from GU texted me today to talk about this news with this as the entirety of the text: "Josh Childress is a badazzzz!" (Yes, he has problems with the English language. That's beside the point.) As opposed to this True Hoop piece, I don't think that anyone who really cares about the Association will think of this as bad news.

First of all, competition is good. (And, to be fair, that's mentioned in Henry's post.) Getting someone who's along these lines to stand up and show people that, hey, maybe the NBA isn't the best place to pursue their dreams, is an important development in the League. It's important that the millions of Americans who see this as the top level realize that it might not be, for various reasons, not least of which might be money. However, even beyond that, it's important because this will expand the world-view of people who had previously dismissed the rest of the world and their basketball skills. (How these people could continue to do so after the last couple years in the Olympics and World Championships failure I'm not sure. But these people definitely do exist.)

Josh Childress is a great basketball player. He was an important part of the Hawks that were set to take up the new 'most FD team' mantle. The Hawks won't be the same without him. But, in order to make an omelette, you've got to break some eggs. People often lose sight of the fact that this is not a short-term move. This is not a short-term game. This is not a short-term life. It's not a sprint; it's a marathon.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

on the assassination of jesse james by the coward robert ford.

Got a chance to absorb this movie the other night and the word that kept bouncing around my head while watching it and since then was atmospheric. The movie was filled with a great soundtrack and an interesting cut-structure, wherein I think portions of the novel upon which it was based were interspersed with the narrative of the movie. The movie was jerky, bouncing back and forth between scenes with all the grace of a small child suffering a seizure. I don't mean that in a disrespectful or humorous way, but I will say that it was jarring to say the least, in the beginning. As the film progressed, however, it was abundantly clear that this was supposed to be the case.

Jesse James was portrayed in a pretty great light at the start. However, as the film moved forward in a jumbled manner, he got progressively more and more disjointed himself. He was suffering from delusions and depression and his compatriots could see as much, even as clearly as he was blind to it. The jerking nature of the film only served to reinforce that this was a man who had previously held a world view that was becoming increasingly frayed as not only time passed him by, but all his one-time friends vanished slowly but surely.

Even more interesting than James, though, was the portrayal of the coward, Robert Ford. I thought it was especially interesting to me personally, since I've been pondering some of these issues myself lately, to see that one of the central tenets that was always considered in respect to his character was how young he was. All of the time, everyone asked him, "How old are you boy?" Just like I take small pleasures in the things like taking out my own trash and vacuuming my floors, things that I couldn't have even conceived of ten years ago, much less conceived of enjoying, Robert Ford seemed to mature, albeit at the tail end of the film. One of the lines that stood out to me: "I was only a boy back then." The character himself explicitly acknowledges that it's one of the lessons that we're supposed to draw from the film: age brings experience, and these things matter. It was odd to see this transition get such short shrift in the movie, until one remembers the title and its focus. We are here to observe Jesse James. Any secondary observations are that only; secondary. So while I'm proud of myself and my growth over the last few years, the film doesn't give us time to reflect on, nor appreciate, Robert Ford's growth towards the end of his life. Certainly not a complain (as I said above, I recognize who the main character of this movie is) but perhaps something to think about...

Overall, atmospheric as it was (and believe me, that IS a compliment), I'm not sure that I'd recommend the movie to people unless they were prepared for the full scope of ambiguity that comes with watching a movie where the main character is neither a good guy nor a bad one. It's hard for us as Americans to see this kind of waffling. If you're into that...check it out. You'll love it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

on the dark knight.

By this point, I think pretty much everyone in the world has expressed an opinion about The Dark Knight. And, surprisingly, not all of them were as overwhelmingly positive as I was fearing. That's right, I said fearing.

The Dark Knight was great. There's no doubt about that. But I heard people before the movie talking about how it wasn't just the best superhero movie of all time, but one of the best movies (overall) of all time. That's just ridiculous. People who say things like that make me really doubt whether we watched the same movie, or if they've every heard of hyperbole. The Dark Knight compares to The Godfather? The Godfather II? Citizen Kane? Casablanca? These movies are classics. Even if we want to get into nouveau-classic status, we're still talking about Apocalypse Now, Taxi Driver...hell, even Braveheart. These movies are on another level. The Dark Knight is great for what it is: a fun, summer-time, popcorn-filled, superhero movie.

Are there things that elevate it? Hell yes. I won't sleep on the performance that Heath Ledger delivered: if he doesn't get an Oscar nod, that'll be a shame. (But he will. Because the Academy loves dead people. I don't want to come off as callous, but it's true.) Aaron Eckhart's not getting half the press, but he does almost as great of a job as Harvey Dent; the movie's entire plot essentially revolves around him, and he's the spiritual center of the Batman vs. the Joker dialogue that runs the philosophical side of things.

All of the casting, in fact, was spot-on. Bale's Batman has cemented his place as the best Batman ever, Gordon's being played on a level that we haven't even experience in the films yet, and both Fox and Alfred are lucky to have that high caliber of actors grace the screen.

The Dark Knight instantly vaults up to the top five of any self-respecting geeks Superhero Movie List as well it should. I just don't think that it gets all the way to the number one spot. You can see my reply at the above-linked post: I still think Spider-Man 2 and X-Men 2 were superior. Iron Man's probably up there, too. It was pretty flawless. Could we sit here and dispute their positions all day? Yes. That's what comic book fans do. But more than that, I think it's important that we just get out there and support the movie even more. We finally have something that lots of people are recognizing as a great work. Let's support it.

However, the best news to come out of The Dark Knight was this: the promise of even more amazing things to come - Watchmen! Just like Watchmen did for comic books themselves, it seems like we might be starting to get to a point where these types of movies can flirt with (and hopefully, someday, soon, fully embrace!) a kind of seriousness that people who dismiss comic books outright seem to have always missed.

Friday, July 18, 2008

on running.

I have a complicated relationship with running. (And by the way, I thought of this before New Balance did...but I won't hate because those commercials are great.) My father, whom y'all should know by now, I have my own separate complicated relationship with, was a big runner. He used to do marathons and some of the biggest memories I have as a kid are of my mom getting us three boys up on some random Sunday morning to watch him come in at the finish line of various races around the city. I ran track and field in high school, although one of my favorite stories to tell (and, bonus, it's a true one!) is that I really only went out for the first day as a freshman because a girl that I liked told me that it would increase our chances of getting together. (Well, her friend told me.) And it did. Sweet. But I found out once I was out there that I was reasonably fast. I was on all the important relay teams as a freshman, and I have lots of great memories of track, especially as the memories of soccer from around that time were dimming. So it took place at a really good time in my life, and I loved it.

But I didn't really love it. I loved the socializing, the atmosphere, the girls, etc. (That's actually a lot like my views on high school in general.) I liked it because I was good enough at it to do well, but I didn't particularly like running. And that's because I wasn't really great at it. I was fast as a freshman, showed some promise, but was left in the dust by those whose bodies continued to mature, and who were willing to put in the work that I, quite honestly, just wasn't willing to. And I don't have any bad memories or associations tied to any of that, that's just telling it like it is.

But I always wanted to be a better runner than I was. So during my senior year of high school, I joined cross country in the fall instead of finishing with soccer, and I really enjoyed it. It was the first time that I loved running, and it was surprising, because I wasn't any better at running long distances than I had been at sprinting (in fact, I was much worse!) but the company (again) made it. The guys that I met through cross country were some of the best friends that I made in high school and they totally improved my experience thereof. And it made me feel good to be running that far, like I was kind of, intangibly proving something to my dad.

When I went to college, I tried to stay with the running pattern, but it really didn't happen a lot. Then, a couple years ago, I asked for (from my dad) and got a pair of Nike Plus running shoes. It was something that Brandon and I had been talking about a lot since they'd come out and we'd decided that it was the perfect thing to get us motivated to get into shape again. We were pretty much big computer dorks, so if we could track this kind of stuff, we figured, it would give us a lot of motivation.

Well...it didn't work. The shoes arrived at just the wrong time in my life, as I was going through a pretty traumatic transition, and they sat unused for a long while. When I finally got around to it, I wasn't much in running shape. (I have this long, deep-seated fear of being/getting fat, even though after I broke my jaw, I was pretty much content with being fat, just out of joy of getting to eat again.) I gave a good effort, but really didn't get in to it.

That's changed this year. I've been running a lot more, and since the summer hit, it's really reached a new point. I want this not to be an apex, though, I just want it to be the beginning of a good pattern. That's why it's so important to me that I maintain this schedule no matter what, going so far as running after drinking at happy hour, or going out in the rain after Johnny fed me garden burgers and booze.

It's all about the schedule.

EDIT: This is also the place where I wanted to mention how pissed I am that the widget that I use for a lot of my motivation isn't working. You can see it a little bit up and to the right? Yeah, that thing that looks like it isn't working? It isn't working. Nike tells me it's a known issue and they're working on it, but, come on... This is a multi-billion dollar company and this kind of thing has gone on for this long? All right, sorry, just had to complain a little bit.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

on more celebrity look-alikes.

Continuing my questioning from a while ago, I just stumbled across this video from Boom Dizzle and Emmanuelle Chriqui that was so hilariously bad that it almost got back to good. It's amazing, seriously, go watch it. I have no idea how I missed this when it came out.

But that video got me thinking... Damn, doesn't Baron look a LOT like Kanye? Especially in this crazy new video that somehow is promoting Absolut Vodka? I mean, for real, they look a lot alike. And I'm just now noticing this? Something must be wrong with me.

But it's worth it to delay it to this point if that means that I get to put up ridiculous videos like these. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

on upcoming events.

Where You Should Be On Friday Night:

28/30 - The Solo Work of Derick Montez.

At this point, I pretty much figure that everyone who reads this blog knows that Derick is my roommate first and an amazing artist second. (OK, that might be backwards.) But seriously, everyone who (I know) reads this already knows that the Roc is, as I've repeatedly told him, one of the sickest we know. He's fresh, his artwork is off the chain, and he's a homeboy. What else would you be doing, other than supporting him? Don't clown.

Join us in celebrating Derick's artwork, and his emergent force as one of Burque's finest, before he leaves us for the Bay City and becomes too famous to hang out. (Well, with y'all. I'll have mad tattoos from him already and be repping his company before it even officially exists!)

Friday from 5 to 9 at the DCAC (Downtown Contemporary Art Center) right next to Ace Barber Shop. Be there or be square and expect to see at least ten people you know, even if you've never met any of us. We'll be friends by the end of the night.

Monday, July 14, 2008

on the house of cards video.

By now it's not new news to talk about the amazing new video for Radiohead's "House of Cards"... However, it is worth mentioning in another forum, if only out of the hopes that more people will watch it and realize how important it is that there's a band like Radiohead out there. Just like I've been telling people lately when they ask why I'm unhappy with my iPhone: it's not that it's bad. In fact, it's good. But it's way more important that it exists (period) as opposed to my being happy with it, in and of itself. It's important that it's out there, inspiring others to do more with their mobile companies, etc. And in the same way, even if you're not particularly into what Radiohead is doing (or, to be honest, if you're like me, and don't honestly understand the new video; how they did what they did...), it's really important that someone is out there, pushing the boundaries and inspiring others to continue to do so. In Rainbows was an extremely cool album, but it was way more important to to the music scene how it was released. We've already seen immediate ramifications.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

on the social climber's guide to high school.

As I've already said, I started my new book yesterday and I've already blazed through the whole thing. This is, contrary to what you might think, not a good thing. The book is terrible. In and of itself, it's not atrocious, but I was expecting a novel. It's not a novel.

Good things about it? Well, some of my girls next year might find the advice useful...but I pretty much hope not. It's a lot like The Hipster Handbook without any of the self-aware irony. Stay away.

Friday, July 11, 2008

on looking for alaska.

Wow. This book was recommended to me by a friend who reads the blog and, to put it mildly, it did not disappoint. The book could easily be described as a coming-of-age tale, but that would be quite the disservice to the book and its author. The book takes on an old concept and updates it (note the careful temporal placements via PlayStation 2 references, etc.) with success that I haven't seen in a long time, if ever. When people talk about classics, there's a reason they talk about books that have long since been written. If people were a little less uptight, this book might have a chance to get to that place. However... People are not less uptight and (I'm not giving away anything vital to the plot, trust me) there are scenes in this book of a blow job (it's actually some of the funniest writing that I've ever read, to be honest), the kids are quite mouthy in the way the kids nowadays are but that older people have no trouble (and nor should they) saying they just really don't care for, and there's tons of anarchistic-type of behavior not only recorded but encouraged. The girl, Alaska, likes to get her drink on almost as much as she proclaims to like sex, and the boys are down to drink as well. More than that (and I guess this reveals a lot more about me than the book itself, that this bothered me), there's a lot of smoking (tobacco, not pot) that goes on in the book. It bothered me, yes, but I'm also perfectly willing to admit that it happens. All the time. And that's fine. It's real. It's representative.

The main character, Miles Halter is a smart kid who likes last words. I know, odd character trait, right? But it was just the right detail to be like, "Oh yeah, I know people who are weird with the things they know, just like that!" He gets tired of being a smart kid that no one really likes or gets, and so he sets his sights on boarding school at Culver Creek, just like his dad did, in search of some last words that he's focusing on: "The Great Perhaps."

While there, he meets interesting, fully-fleshed out characters, believably smart and damaged at the same time, and actually learns. He learns in school and he learns in his social settings. Reading this book right now was not the best thing in the world for me (again), as it really did make me think, "Ah, yes...this is what a true education is supposed to look like." Even the semi-bad-guy (he's not, really, not at all) role that's filled by the dean of the school, whom they call the Eagle, is interestingly developed and he's fleshed out by the way the children talk about him, even though we rarely (never?) have direct access to him. It's the sign of a good author when we're able to feel like a third-tier character has been successfully integrated into the plot, without missing a beat.

The book is divided into two sections: Before and After. Before reading, I looked it up on Amazon.com and read the summary and all I can say about that is - I must have missed some things. I was taken aback by the plot, the developments surprised me in all the best ways, and the latter half of the book was intensely emotional.

Overall, a whole-hearted recommendation for Looking for Alaska by John Green.

EDIT: I'm starting my new book today (it's by this woman Robyn Schneider, who so far seems kind of...uh...crazy) and her website pointed me toward her YouTube account, where she had a video up, responding to something called "I Am Not A Pornographer". So, it was interesting to watch that, but then even more so to see the original video from John Green himself. The video brings up a lot of great points, and made me curious as to what happened with this case. John's blog indicates that all's well that ends well.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

on "alcohol."

There's a restaurant that opened up a while ago, while the city of ABQ was in the first stages of the EDO-revitalization, called The Standard Diner. It's a great place. They used to serve cucumbers in the water. (Hell, they still might, just the last time I was there, they didn't.) Brandon and I used to go there a lot together. It's a good, classy joint. Which makes me all the more frustrated when I see that they have "beer & wine" on the menu. It goes beyond just that, too. It's like, what is this about? Did they get the italics confused with quotation marks? Are they trying to be clever in that hipster way, over-using quotation marks? Observe the menu below.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

on stealing music.

A (semi-) new study in the UK has revealed the extents to which teenagers share their mp3's and it is astounding, but not all that shocking - or at least it shouldn't be, to anyone under the age of 30. "On average every iPod or digital music player contained 842 illegally copied songs." The important thing when considering averages is that there are a LOT of people out there with WAAAAAY more than this number on their iPods. There are just as many with less. But when we're talking about averages, people oftentimes forget the fact that this is a middling number that we're taking into consideration. I bought a TON of CD's in my youth, but that was mainly due to an absentee-father who didn't care at all how I spent his money. Even given all the CD's that I had, (I traded in approximately 500+ when I sent them to Feed Your Player for some iPods when I finally decided it was ridiculous to hold on to them) I still know and acknowledge that a large percentage of my music collection is illegally obtained. A lot of this has to do with going away to college; when I went to Gonzaga, they networked all of the computers in a dorm, and everyone shared all of their music. It was a free-for-all. And this was also in the heyday of Napster, before its current version, when people were getting any song they wanted but didn't have at literally any time.

The most important consideration, here, however, lies toward the end of the article. The study finds that most of these British teenagers would, in fact, be willing to pay for their music, if only there was some service that presented a fair alternative to do so. That means that we'd pay a flat fee: x amount per month, for unlimited songs. Why would anyone pay any other model when there's clearly a free alternative out there? Additionally, however, there cannot be any of these DRM restrictions that we're currently seeing! It's ridiculous to think of this in the double-standard way that the record companies apparently are: it's property, so you can't steal it! Oh wait, it's NOT property, so we're gonna take it back from you as soon as you stop paying us. That's a nonsensical model.

All of this, of course, is building towards a re-definition of what exactly it means to be a pirate. Is this the worst thing for our country? People like myself say no. People who think that they can "own" intellectual property say yes. Ultimately it's a decision that you have to make for yourself, because, honestly, the odds of any government agency, or even the RIAA themselves catching you for breaking the law, are pretty slim. And that's coming from someone who's been caught! Color me unconcerned.

(Hat Tip to Prefix, BTW.)

Monday, July 7, 2008

link of the day.

Took some time off for various reasons over the Independence Day holiday weekend and will be back tomorrow with more regular posting, but for today, enjoy, via the BFF (and via Neatorama for him) The Nietzsche Family Circus: an exercise in the absurd.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

on freedarko.

FreeDarko has been, for most of the time that I've been reading about basketball on the Internet, one of the smartest sites that I've come across. It's always got something for me to think about. It's quintessentially philosophical, which makes me feel like I'd be friends with the guys who run it if I knew them in real life. (Side note: I was disappointed meeting some people the other day just because they'd been talked up so much to me, so I was expecting them to be super-smart. Is this going to be a problem for me?) There are things there that I'll never understand. There are plenty of things that I'll never agree with. But those are, like all other aspects of life, undeniable in just about everything. We don't get to choose who we fall in love with, and we don't get to cherry pick the qualities we like on people/things that we're interested in.

Just a little while ago, the NBA Finals happened. While the NBA Finals were occurring, Free Darko was in the middle of what I termed in the comments section at that time to be an implosion. Bethlehem Shoals, whom I consider to be the main author of the site, elaborates in the comments and said that a lot of that implosion was, in fact, planned and not authentic. While we could sit here for ages and debate whether or not that's the truth, I think there's something to be said for the comments section of the site in general and particularly during this time. To make a long story short, I think he was being honest...half-heartedly. It's always good to remember that a lot of truth is said in jest, and while he may think that there was nothing really going on there, and that all of the drama was manufactured, I don't believe that completely. I think there are complex feelings on the site, especially when it comes to the subject of Kevin Garnett abandoning his old persona (if you don't believe that happened that's a whole other conversation) to become a role-player in Boston. (And yeah, I know and agree that he was more than a quote-unquote role player. But he wasn't the same guy in Boston as he was in Minnesota. And that worked out for him. So goody for him.) I also think there's a lot going on with Free Darko's relationship with the Lakers, mainly because of Lamar Odom and Kobe Bryant, but they claim it has to do with Pau Gasol as well. (I definitely don't believe that part. Pau has never seemed a particularly FD player to me.)

So while this implosion was going on, I was watching with all the earnestness of passing a train wreck: it was something beautiful and horrifying at the same time that I couldn't take my eyes off of. The guys at Free Darko have always been super-careful to never back themselves into a corner, only releasing a one-time list of the players they considered (at that time) to be "FD" and they never qualified it or expanded upon that. (Speaking of, I'd love a new list from them, but I'm so afraid that I'd disagree with sooo many people on there and their placement that half of me thinks I'd rather just live in ignorant bliss.) I think a lot of this has to do with how comfortable you feel with post-modernity: if you think things can only have one answer, you're obviously going to feel uncomfortable with a "liberated fandom" (their term) that constantly changes bases, that shifts based on winning (which I interpret via FD to be semi-bad) and struggling (interpreted the same way to be totally great). If you're okay with things having more than one answer, you probably won't have an issue with taking multiple stances on an issue, sometimes shifting as radically as 180 degrees within a single night.

Complex things deserve complex thought. I've always thought of myself as a fan of basketball, the NBA and the Lakers, in that order. I think basketball and the NBA in particular deserves a little more love in the pop culture sphere of influence, beyond just talking about how the players are thugs or they fight, etc. (I've discussed this before and might include a link here to a previous entry if I can find it.) Basketball, to me, is worth thinking about seriously, and I've always been happy that Free Darko is out there to do so. However, I won't deny that I think the site has been preparing for a serious zeitgeist-y shift for a long while now. It seems like it might be tied to the book they're releasing (cop it now for a lower price!) but it might have been brewing for a longer time than that. There's something inherently wrong with coming to my blog and telling me, "You can't say that Pau Gasol's soft! You love the Lakers!" The opinions are mine and they're constantly changing; that's what good opinions do! True thoughts mean that sometimes things will change and I think that's what's happening over there. I have a lot of faith in the smart people that run the system over there to think that the changes will not destroy the system. But just in case it does...

Here's a link to my favorite piece on Free Darko ever. It's complicated, takes into account race, racism, the city of Chicago, the recent NBA Finals, the role of basketball in pop culture and some anti-hipster goodness that y'all know that I'd love. It was written during the Finals, but posted either just after they ended or near the tail-end. This, to me, is representative of what Free Darko is, in its essence, at its best. This is what I hope for: coming out of the car crash a bit stronger.