Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ends and Odds

This is me eating a rather enormous donut from this donut shop here in Tucson. It was quite good. I ate the entire thing. I was a little depressed afterward. Those of you who are hip to the Twitter might recognize this as my new Twitter photo. I post it here for my extensive readership that is not hip to the Twitter and really are only hip to nursing homes, Snuggies, and, ironically, replacement hips.

It has been raining a lot lately, so there is plenty of snow on the mountains. Here are a couple shots off the back patio.

This is a video taken quite early in the morning on January 13, 2010. I think it can actually double as a short film. The pathos is off the charts. I'm thinking of entering it in some festivals, so tell me what you think. (The file was too big so I had to convert it. My converter was a free trial version, hence the words. However, I think they simply add to the overall aesthetic. If my hip readers care to help with converting this file, they should contact me.)

Be good.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

"He's Like a Kid Out There!"

I don't know that it is transformative or important or anything other than interesting that I was present for the last game of the Agent Zero Era. Keith, Shaleah and I watched a less-than-enthused Wizards team mail in a game against the Suns, mere hours before the plane flight card game that would lead to real guns in the locker room, finger guns in the pregame huddle and the likely end of Gilbertology. I have the magnets to prove who Gilbert was, but I doubt I'll have the opportunity to watch him play much again.

While most athletes receive second, third, and often seventh chances, the fact that Gilbert clearly is not half as good as he was prior to the knee injuries mixed with his "quirkiness" is likely going to keep him from ever getting another contract, whether he gets paid from his current one or not. Obviously, I could not have foreseen the events that would unfold when I was watching the Suns disassemble a terrible Wizards roster, but as the game went on, it was clear to me that the sideshow of Gilbert had clearly superseded the play of Gilbert. He defended no one, he shot an eight-footer that hit the side of the backboard and he did nothing to ever help any teammate succeed offensively. The quirkiness is far less endearing without good basketball accompanying it.

But the point I want to make is not that Gilbert isn't Gilbert anymore; it is that somehow it is wrong for Gilbert to be Gilbert when we want every other athlete to be themselves. I am not condoning committing felonies, but I am condoning taking joy in a game that is meant to be joyful. Today I read columnists who revise history to say that things Gilbert did int the past prove that he is imbalanced or disturbed. They write that any NBA player who would run and dunk off of a trampoline during a timeout obviously is not "fit" to take the court in the NBA. But if Brett Favre grabbed a T-shirt cannon or wanted to take part in the Dr. Pepper football-tossing challenge, the media would race to tout how he was the "gunslinger" or "just like a kid out there." (I have a recurring nightmare wherein Mike Patrick is on loop saying "And you don't think he's having fun out there??!!!" The me who exists within this dream is clad in a straitjacket and simply drones "No, Mike, I never said I didn't think that he was not having fun out there. You intimated that I thought he wasn't having fun out there when at no point I thought any such thing." I have pretty terrible grammar in my dreams, apparently).

When it comes to Gilbert, I loved that he dunked off the trampoline because he did exactly what every one of us would have done if we were lucky enough to be him. It was Gilbert himself who said: "So if that's crazy or quirky, just give me season tickets to any arena and let me sit there with 20,000 other crazy or quirky people." We wanted to jump off the trampoline, but Gilbert did it for us. He joined us as crazy or quirky people. He made the NBA more accessible by being someone who seemed normal. In fact, during that Wiz-Suns game, when the Gorilla came out to dunk off a trampoline, I was totally uninterested in the aerobatics. Instead, I told Shaleah about the time that Gilbert dunked off the trampoline, even though he was coming back from a knee injury and had a $111 million contract. I appreciated the joy he took in it, even while it might have seemed stupid.

And now that Gilbert has done something that was, rather than just seemed, stupid, it might be over for him. He won't be able to make multiple comebacks interspersed with brush clearing in Mississippi. I'm not accusing Brett Favre of breaking any laws. His worst crime has been to be annoying and manipulate the sports media. If that were a crime, there would be no professional athletes walking free. However, I just see an incongruity in celebrating Favre's version of "realness," which apparently is Wrangler jeans and mud football, and denigrating as careless Gilbert's version of "realness," which apparently is that the only currency is joking merriment.

However, for Gilbert, we will see whether the currency of fun is as useful when he doesn't have any real currency. Some fans will be pleased about his exile and the possibility of him losing that contract. But even though he allegedly has done what he allegedly has done, I cannot be pleased about his exile. I enjoyed him too much to move on that quickly.

Kobe Bryant is so good at basketball as to be an automaton. His artistry can be appreciated, but it is impossible to identify with. (Sentence-ending preposition the result of writing this during a dream!). Gilbert was more earthbound. He was clearly gifted but also understandable. For people like me, he WAS the people's champion, even if he was never a champion of anything. And while the NFL continues to placate its people's champion; the NBA's has been sent away - tossed off the entertaining edifice that he had himself built. I cannot blame others for Gilbert's failings, but I can celebrate his greater moments, that edifice that he built, that joy he brought. Those things, I can celebrate.