Tuesday, June 30, 2009

point of contention

Turner Field, Atlanta, GA, home of the "Braves."

No offense to the citizens of Atlanta and the greater state of Georgia, but I cannot abide your baseball fans.

First of all, the naming of sports franchises according to Native American themes has always irked me—particularly when accompanied by a red-faced cartoon Indian. So immediately I object to the name, the logo and, above all, the Tomahawk Chop.

Not only is it beyond annoying, it's patently offensive. At worst it bespeaks a blanket parody of a vast and varied culture. At best it exemplifies a half-assed attempt at cultural appropriation, a desire to rally with the "noble savages" of yore in order to feel something resembling cultural relevancy. For a further (and more erudite) elucidation of this concept, see Philip Deloria's brilliant Playing Indian. He details how, once we ran the original inhabitants of this land mass we call America onto arid and uninhabitable reservations, we then proceeded to nibble away at their customs, building this concept of the "authentic" into our own national self-image as if to assuage our guilt for having laid waste to an entire way of life.

Also, any team that can't muster up enough fans to fill a stadium, let alone outnumber the opposing team's traveling fan base, ought to rethink their marketing strategy. Sure, there were plenty of boos whenever the rousing choruses of "Let's go, Red Sox" piped up, but they were not nearly loud enough to drown us out.

That said, spending time with my Dad in a new ballpark and watching the Sox (win or lose) is no small thing. So the day itself survived the rampant douchebaggery and will always be catalogued as a happy one.

I'm just saying.

Monday, June 22, 2009

take my weight off the ground

Remember when you were a kid and you wanted something? I mean really wanted something, with every fiber of your being and every conviction that it was the absolute missing link to your continued success as a living organism? Yeah. Growing up means no longer trusting that instinct.

Growing up means having to wonder whether what you want is what's best for you.

At what age must we override our instincts? We start small. We suppose we don't really want to be a fireman when we grow up. We stop reaching for the fruit-roll ups just because they're there. Pretty soon, the teddy bear goes into the closet. The thumb comes out of the mouth. The blankie stays folded at the bottom of the bed. But then, fifteen, twenty years later, we find ourselves suddenly sublimating the (often oppressive) urge to consume the entire basket of focaccia bread at the restaurant. We work off our sins and our sexual tension in the gym. And we wonder what we will do with our lives when plan A inevitably fails.

The question is: Where is the balance between living in the moment and practicing prudence? When did our desires run aground of our well-being? I find myself torn. Between. What I want versus what I thought I always wanted versus what I may or may not need.

The result is indecision. As if it were a disease. I don't even know where I belong anymore. One minute I'm ready to heave myself from the moving vehicle that is New York, next I'm lying on a wooden park bench in a West Village church garden, reading Anna Karenina and loving it here. Or drinking Wild Turkey from a brown bag on the pier, watching New Jersey twinkle across the Hudson, getting my butt wet on the grass. I want so much to be young and stupid, but I also want rocking chairs and living rooms and trees. Trouble is, I don't trust my capacity to commit to either.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

quelle surprise

So I took a day off to recuperate from a particularly stressful few weeks at work. I spent that day walking the streets of the city with an old friend. It was one of those epic New York days that start at the General Sherman statue, span entire boroughs, obscure quests, omelets, costume emporiums, Psychic Jessica and—inevitably—stretch into the evening hours and the dramatic consumption of beer. We logged almost nine miles on foot and knit together a conversation that stretched from Thomas Paine and armchair Catholicism to Roman vacation planning. I had six pints of Guinness for dinner.

We ran into the flaming automobile on our way up Park, right in the middle of Union Square. I mean, really. How many times do you get to witness the spontaneous combustion of the family car?

We ended the evening having stumbled upon the outdoor screening of The Sting in Bryant Park, watching for a little while in the drizzle before calling it in—a whopping eleven hours later.

It was one of those days that reaffirm your personal cosmology, but make you rethink most of your life choices to date. Limitless and perfect and hard to forget. There wasn't even a game on.

Now I ask: If a minivan can just go up in flames in front of Babies R Us on a rainy Monday night in New York City, what right have we to expect rhyme or reason from the universe?