Monday, September 21, 2009

An Alternate Manifesto

I'm not trying to pick a fight. I'm really not. In fact, I'm rarely trying to pick a fight. Honestly. I know none of you believe me.

Either way, I have something to say about being a fan.

I am a fan. Almost to the point of stupidity. See, I went to Notre Dame, where I learned what it meant to love football. In fact, of all the things at Notre Dame that I learned (that wasn't Art History related) loving football was the one thing that is going to stick with me forever. Anyone who ever went knows what I'm talking about. Michigan people know what I'm talking about, but they're infuriating. Like Ohio State and USC people. In fact, I flat out hate any team that Notre Dame is playing.

Anyway, back to my point. I recently read an article in the NYTimes. Well, online. Print newspaper is on the way out. Which is a tragedy because reading a real newspaper is one of the great pleasures of the modern world.

This article I read was about a guy named Michael Tunison, who wrote a book called The Football Fan's Manifesto. I haven't read it. But, like a good academic, I get the jist of it, so I'm going to make an argument about it. Not really, I'm just going to tell you what I think. Like a good academic. I hope I didn't just blow anybody's cover.

Kids, that's called sarcasm. I'm kidding. No I'm not. And, now we're in an Eddie Izzard routine.

Anyway, Tunison makes an argument in this article that I'd like to publicly disagree with, as a fan of football.

First of all, Mr. Tunison claims that the cutoff point for selecting a team is age 8. Actually, he says that in the book. The interviewer refers to it. Got to get the citations right.

See, now, this is ok for me, because, following that rule I get the Steelers, who are certainly fashionable now, because they're the reigning champs. But, then, before I was 8, they were the greatest team ever. This was the tail end of the Bradshaw, Harris, Stallworth, Swann, Steel Curtain Steelers. The greatest team ever. The quintessential dynasty. Hapsburgian. So I'm set.

But I'm disputing the rule.

I think fandom is aggregate. It builds up like sediment over the course of a lifetime. Sometimes this is for a single team, like I am for the Irish. But, I also think that one may accumulate a multitude of teams of which one is a fan.

An example. Myself. I've always watched the NFL. I'm pretty certain it was my Dad's doing, but my Mother will watch the bejesus out of a football game, too, so it was probably a team effort.

I am an Eagles fan. And a Titans fan. That's where I'm at right now.

But, I think that fandom is about self-determination. Like the floating can. It's a screen onto which we project our identities and it is a source from which we draw identity. It's dual and multi- if not polydirectional.

Now, I need to not put words into Tunison's mouth. Here's the quote, from the NYTimes:

For a diehard fan, however, there’s so much of their personal identity wrapped up in which team they root for that turning their back on that team amounts to something of a personal betrayal.

I fully agree with the notion of fandom and identity, but this issue of personal betrayal doesn't make sense to me. Because I think that identity is, like fandom, an aggregate. It builds up like sediment.

Point of order. I've just made a circular argument. I'm aware of this. I don't care because, to an extent, all arguments are circular. That's so contradictory arguments roll right off.

Anyway, I am an Eagles fan and a Titans fan.

And a Steelers fan, because I was when I was a kid.

And a Broncos fan, because I have family in Colorado, and because I love John Elway. And the Three Amigos.

And a Cardinals fan, because I have family in St. Louis. I'm talking Neil Lomax. The Arizona Cardinals and the St. Louis Rams are both dead to me.

And a Ravens fan, because I used to live in Maryland, with a dude from Baltimore, to boot. And Joe Flacco went to Delaware. I did too, but before he was there. But how often does a Blue Hen become an amazing pro QB right down the street like that?

And an Eagles fan, because somewhere along the line, when I was a kid, I had an Eagles helmet, which may have been both a sign and source of allegiance. And because I lived in Philly.

And a Titans fan, because I live in Tennessee. Which is why I'm a Grizzlies fan, but that's a different sport. Same argument, different sport.

See, that's my departure from Tunison. I don't understand why one cannot accumulate a multiplicity of fanhoods for a number of teams with which one's life has brought one into contact. It seems natural to me, like having a favorite pizza joint in every city you've lived in.

I'm sure this will infuriate a number of people. Hopefully it won't get me thrown out of my Fantasy league, but Fantasy people probably already know what I'm talking about. I was just yelling because Ronnie Brown just scored a touchdown. And I don't give a damn about the Dolphins.

And I really hope that the good people of Philadelphia, Art first among them, will forgive me. But do know that I am with you above all others.

You may have noticed that I am both an Eagles and a Titans fan. How, you will want to know, would I deal with the blessed day on which the Eagles and Titans meet in the Super Bowl? This is utterly possible. Probably not this year, but it is. And some of you will think this is a contradiction, that I can be a fan of both simultaneously. An impossibility. And some of you will notice that this is a win-win, a rather convenient situation for me. This is true.

Now, a practical dilemma. What of those days when the Eagles play the Cardinals, or the Titans play the Broncos, or the Steelers or the Ravens, for that matter? Well, then I'm with the Eagles, or the Titans, because, as I've already said, the Arizona Cardinals are dead to me, and John Elway retired, and this isn't the Steel Curtain. What about the Ravens, who are still in Maryland and still have Joe Flacco? I'm with the Titans because, like so many things in life, you've got to pick your battles.

What of that blessed day? Super Bowl Infinity, Eagles vs. Titans?

I will be happy. And I will be sad. Because that's what being a fan is about. Being happy when things go well and sad when they do not. Just like when I get to eat pizza at my favorite pizza place but know I won't be back for a while.

Happy when things go well and sad when they do not. Like so many things in life.

See, football does explain everything.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I Hereby Declare the Recession Over

See now, don't you all feel better? It's official. It's over. Following the propaganda that I've been fed by the liberal media (Hey Bill O, Hey Rup), I think it is about time to call this and go home. So, if Bernake and Obama are going to wait and wuss out with their predictions that the economy is only improving, and not yet back to full bore Rosie the Riveter strength, I'll do it for them.

The recession is over.

I have proof.

I, like many other Americans, have a portion of my life in hock to these legalized usurers we call the credit company. Now I'm not going to act like I didn't bring this upon myself. Everyone who ever signed up for one of those little plastic cards o' doom is complicit. But don't you dare think that I don't think that they're not usurers. And don't think that I don't know that the Bible prohibits usury. (Leviticus 25:37) Why is it, by the way, that Leviticus seems to be the only Book of the Bible that anybody actually reads or talks about? Always with the laws and what God forbids. What about the Jesus parts, where we learn to be nice? Or the Apocalypse, which is so useful for the imagination?

But I digress.

So, I called Chase this week. Chase, the Bank. Not Utley. Called the bank and told them that I had been offered a better deal by CITI. Oddly enough, that incessant avalanche of credit card company mail actually did something for me once.

Anyway, I told them I had a better deal and that I was going to leave them and go to CITI if they didn't have any deals. Credit, when it isn't like slavery, is like free agency. You got to take the offer that's best for you.

So I said to the woman on the other end of the phone "Do you have any offers to make me that would give me reason to remain your customer?"

She said "No."

I couldn't freaking believe it. In a country where I receive at least two credit card solicitations every day, the company that already has me has no interest in keeping me.

So, if my math is correct, they don't need me.

Which means that they must be doing ok, if they can afford to lose customers.

So, if my math is correct, big business in America seems to be doing ok.

Now, you and I both know that it's you and I that the recession actually screws over, but the companies all think it's about them, so we'll roll with that, if only for the sake of argument.

So, if big business is doing ok, and this recession all started when big businesses began to fall apart--Enron, Freddie Mac or whatever it's called, AIG, hell even NASCAR got worried for a minute--then this recession must be over.

So, there it is, recession over. Back to all that prosper.

I'm going to watch the Notre Dame game. I encourage you all to do the same.

It's Rosh Hashanah, after all. And this is the day of rest. (Leviticus 23:24)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Yelling at the President

OK. This is idiotic. Liberal people, blogosphere, 24-hour news cycle, people I know, whoever.

Can I try to make a point?

You all know about this guy, Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC). He's the one who yelled out at Obama recently. Called him a liar to his face. In Congress. All over the interwebs.

I think we've got this all wrong.

Joe Wilson needs to be commended, not vilified.

Hear me out.

I agree with all of you that it wasn't the most respectful thing to do. After all, Obama is the President and, even if you don't want to respect the man, you do have to respect the Office.

And I agree with all of you that think Wilson made a jackass of himself in public. And, even greater a sin, the fact that he didn't have his facts straight. If you're going to call someone a liar to their face in public, make sure you know what you're talking about. Now you look like twice a jackass.

But here's my problem. Why are we all making such a big deal out of this utterly miniscule breach of decorum?

First of all, this is a democracy where we are all ensured the Freedom of Speech and the Freedom to Demonstrate. It's right there, number one.

Moreover, we are all entitled to bear our own political (to say nothing of religious) ideologies. Notwithstanding previous national shame invited at Salem and under McCarthy, amongst others, every one of us is allowed to object to the political beliefs of another. Our right to do so is protected in our foundational documents.

One of the countries we, as a nation, took many of our political ideals is England. Even though we threw them out, we learned more than a few things from them. Thank you also to the French, who taught us more. In England, every year the Monarch enters into the Houses of Parliament. In this circumstance, the Monarch is a guest of the Houses and must thus bear them a certain deference. Like when you go to someone's house for dinner. You follow their rules. It's an act of courtesy, amongst other social civilities.

I don't see why we're all making such a big deal about Joe Wilson, a member of Congress, vocalizing his objections. Our Congress, which has proven itself to be woefully unable to move beyond partisan sandbox contests and nearly backward momentum, needs a little more fire in the belly. A little more piss and vinegar, if you will. They're not doing anything already. Except getting in the way and making things far more complicated. You can agree with me on that whether or not you're a Democrat or a Republican or a whatever.

Obama ought to have yelled back. He's not being assertive enough anyway.

All I'm trying to say is that the issue of a Congressman yelling at the President, who is a guest in another's chambers, and needs to get a little less mellow to begin with, might not be such a big deal.

Because there are way more important things to get all undone about.

We've got people being shot at and dying because they can't get help.

The streets where I live are so destroyed in parts they've actually got topography.

The National Parks are being left to the wayside because we're spending the money on bombs.

Everybody I know is trying as hard as possible, but the kids still need to be better educated.

This isn't some partisan back and forth arguing manners race gender marriage guns bailout mortgage pissing contest kind of thing.

We're gonna wreck this contry and the whole planet with it if we can't get our shit together and quit fighting with each other over minutia. We need to fix this jackassed country because we're all better than this. You know it and I know it.

But I still think we should stop yelling. And start having normal civilized conversations.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Why I Love Living in America

This is from Gail Collins in The New York Times. 4 September 2009.

Remember, kids, footnotes are the difference between research and theivery.

As the summer of ’09 slinks off into the sunset, let’s take a minute to reminisce. Who would have thought, when it began, that we’d spend two whole months burying Michael Jackson? Or arguing about whether or not Barack Obama wanted to pull the plug on grandma?

I think we have a theme, people. “Ghoulish” is not a word you normally attach to “vacation season” except in certain teen-slasher movies. Yet here we are.

Passions about health care ran so high! Just this week, we heard about a clash of demonstrators and counter-demonstrators in which one man got a piece of his finger chomped off. Without taking sides on who started the fight, I am going to come right out and say that this is a bad plan. You cannot achieve universal health coverage by biting off somebody’s pinkie.

Anyway, let’s see how much attention you’ve been paying:

I. Match the locale and the protester:
A) Man with loaded handgun strapped to his thigh shows up for an Obama town hall meeting.
B) Man carrying assault rifle shows up at Obama speech to veterans.
C) Congressman holding town hall meeting is greeted by a raucous crowd including at least one participant packing heat.
D) Congresswoman holding a “Congress on Your Corner” event at a local supermarket is greeted by demonstrators, one of whom has a pistol holstered under his armpit which falls and bounces to the floor.

1) Phoenix
2) Douglas, Ariz.
3) Memphis
4) Portsmouth, N.H.


II. How my state spent the summer:
A) The governor is being sued by a cocktail waitress, who claims he assaulted her outside a nightclub; the lieutenant governor is facing felony charges for misusing state funds; the junior U.S. senator admits he had an affair with his campaign bookkeeper.
B) After the governor was impeached for trying to sell a Senate seat, his wife tried to help support the family by competing on a TV reality show, where she ate a tarantula. When last seen, her husband seemed to have embarked on a new career as a professional Elvis impersonator.
C) A hot race for governor was interrupted when prosecutors indicted three mayors, two state assemblymen, five rabbis and a guy who was allegedly running an organ-trafficking business.
D) Two Democratic state senators switched parties, throwing control to the Republicans, then switched back again. One of them is under indictment for attacking his girlfriend with a broken glass. The other one was named majority leader and promptly tried to give his son a $120,000 Senate job.

1) New Jersey
2) Nevada
3) Illinois
4) New York


III. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota or Sarah Palin?
A) “Right now we are looking at reaching down the throat and ripping the guts out of freedom in this country.”
B) “The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’. ...”
C) Refuses to fill out her census form.
D) Urged people to be “armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax.”
E) Going to China to address an investors forum sponsored by a Hong Kong brokerage firm.
F) “Only dead fish go with the flow.”


IV. Affairs to remember (Match the admitted adulterers and their quotes)
A) “I made a very difficult decision to tell the truth. ...”
B) “Let’s not make decisions based on hyperbole.”
C) “I haven’t done anything legally wrong.”
D) “There was a gentle shyness ... that I found endearing.”

1) Senator John Ensign
2) Basketball coach Rick Pitino
3) Sheryl Weinstein, mistress of Bernie Madoff
4) Gov. Mark Sanford


V. Match the reality TV stars:
A) “I had no idea how fuzzy it was ... and how all-encompassing that richness of flavor was going to be.”
B) “She’ll call me like, almost like a lame fish.”
C) “The photo shoot was so much fun. It was like going to Disneyland.”
D) “I was jumping up and down going, ‘Thank You, Lord.’ ”

1) Jon Gosselin, of “Jon & Kate Plus 8”
2) Michelle Duggar, mother in “18 and Counting,” who is expecting her 19th child.
3) Tom DeLay, after his invitation to compete on “Dancing With the Stars.”
4) Actor Lou Diamond Phillips after beating the ex-governor’s wife in tarantula eating.


ANSWERS: I. A-4, B-1, C-3, D-2; II. A-2, B-3, C-1, D-4; III. Bachmann: A, C, D, and Palin: B, E, F; IV. A-2, B-4, C-1, D-3; V. A-4, B-1, C-3, D-2

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Raising a Teenager

In case you need a little help. For parents and children to read together.

I really don't try to be hateful, but sometimes I'm forced into it. That 3 Doors Down song that they play during the Geico commercials is one of the largest and most foul, steaming road apples I have heard in recent memory.

Is this what we are giving to our children? I mean, seriously, is this the soundtrack of teenage angst these days?

OK, kids, gather round. Adrian's going to tell you a little story.

When you become a teenager--when you turn 13--you are given a slightly small window (16 should be a goal, 17 a breaking point, 18 the absolute last tolerable moment) within which you are going to be able to act like a lunatic. For whatever reason you select. It's sort of a social pact that we have with ourselves. A quick burst of the nutty, and then you go on and start to act like a normal human being again.

When you get there, this teenage period, part of this won't be your fault, which is why the rest of us will only resent you, not hate you outright. It'll be the raging hormones, which will require music.

Music that you will need to somehow reassure you that you're the only one who gets what it's like to be you. You know what? You are. The rest of us aren't you, so you're going to have to keep that in mind if you want to make any of this work.

3 Doors Down, and their stupid Let Me Be Myself song, are not going to help. Even if you think it will. It's too melodramatic, and what you don't want is melodrama, because nobody will take you seriously if you're being melodramatic. And, to boot, the lyrics are total crap. "If you don't mind"? Who are these people kidding?

As I've learned by watching my show, Weeds, thug means not having to say you're sorry.

So listen to something with a little quality. The first three Metallica albums are good. Someone who I hold in high esteem when it comes to metal argues for the fourth, but I'm not going to tell you to go four deep just yet. Pantera's first two--Cowboys from Hell and Vulgar Display of Power--are sublime. Must haves. I am quite fond of Sepultura's Arise and Death's Individual Thought Patterns, though I caught onto them late in the game. I am not well enough versed to recommend individual albums, but Anthrax and Slayer are required. And, to add, because you don't want to limit yourself or become an apolitical moron, listen to the first Rage Against the Machine album. And spend some time looking at the cover and thinking about it.

Parents, if you should become alarmed by the sounds coming from your child's music delivery device, let me offer this advice. Listen to it yourself. It'll help you deal with the child, who will be acting like a lunatic. And you'll have something to listen to together later.

Time to Pray

Dear Jesus,

Please don't let the Irish be terrible this year. Not terrible like when I was there. The years of which we do not speak. Let them be respectable. And, if you can, competitive. For a good, credible bowl game. Thanks.


Interruption of Thought

I had a Ben Street moment today. I was in the car and 94.1 in Memphis was playing Simon and Garfunkel, which is nice because I got sick of them a while ago and it's nice to remember that they're worth listening to. But they followed that with Huey Lewis and the News. Which was amazing. So I rushed into the house and bought me a Huey Lewis and the News album on the iTunes. I feel pretty good about this.