Thursday, April 23, 2009
Still having entirely too much free time on my hands I decided to start attending intellectual panels, book readings and any other form of entertainment that is free and makes me feel like I am learning something.
I started yesterday evening at "The Athlete and the Media: Can they get along?" an NYU event featuring a bunch of established New York sports journalists and former Knickerbocker John Starks.
After a late start, the moderator began the event with a drawn-out introduction of each guest speaker. It was obvious they were seasoned journalists who have spent decades writing about and aggrandizing athletes who don't give a fuck about them because they quickly recognized they were talking to the only people on earth who still look up to them. They proceeded to kill the next 15 minutes talking about their personal accolades as the room full of young, aspiring sports journalists looked on. I'm still really not sure why I was there, I guess to see John Starks or because I really do have entirely too much free time on my hands. Then again maybe I'm just a hater who has read "God Save the Fan" too many times and thinks Will Leitch is cooler than he really is.
I do not know how they got John Starks to represent "The Athlete," I would have expected some 12th man from the Knicks' D-League affiliate, but apparently NYU has some pull and they got Starks. He subtly made it clear that he was "The Athlete," as he was the only one in a full suit and he even drank a different bottled water than the lesser "Media" representatives.
Finally the moderator began the discussion with a silly hypothetical situation that tested the media and athlete's ethics. The scenario involved Starks hypothetically hurting his leg at a bar and it subsequently affecting his play. And this is why I never want to be a sports journalist because the thought of revolving your career and having to care that much about another man's injured leg is just absurd to me. Which is why I quickly stopped caring about the panel's discussion. And also because I am a hater who has read "God Save the Fan" too many times.
So I decided to duck out of the panel and head to SoHo to watch a book reading I had heard about on NPR. Somehow a homeless man reading his recently published book seemed much more interesting than watching four old-school journalists and John Starks discuss how they would theoretically cover a twisted knee.
I headed to the Housing Works Bookstore, which raises money to help homeless people who have AIDS and HIV. When I walked in there was a knock-off Kal Penn in the middle of his reading, which involved him talking about being born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. Since I came to listen to Cadillac Man and not Fake-Kumar talk about his own birth, I left for a minute to kill time and check out some swank shop across the street.
When I returned from my time-killing excursion in a world of gaudy fashion and Japanese techno music, Cadillac Man was already at the podium wearing a pair of thick-framed glasses, a dirty, generic USA hat, a grimy green sweatshirt and some well-worn black jeans.
In case you are curious, he got his name after he was hit by six Cadillacs in six weeks while living on the streets.
There were about 40 people gathered in the tight room listening closely to Cadillac Man as he read his narratives. He read a couple chapters about his time living as a "street person," which were light-hearted enough to make the depressing stories palpable. Then after the show many people came up to ask for autographs, shake his hand and thank him.
I just sat back and listened to his post-reading discussions with his new fans. I was then confident that if I were to give up on everything and become a "street person," I would at least have something better to write about than John Starks' injured knee.
I have almost got all the subways in Manhattan down, but recently my mind was busy and I missed my stop twice.
The first time I was listening to Rick Ross' "Rich off cocaine" off his new album "Deeper than Rap." I sat there listening to a song with a hook that directly states what every other Rick Ross song dances around for 3 minutes. Then my mind began to wonder and I pondered that death might just be a dream, but actually the dream of someone else, and I would be confined to playing a background character in other people's dreams for eternity. Then I started to look around and wonder if everyone around me was just a dead person acting a certain pre-determined role in my life. Then I wondered if Rick Ross was a real person or just an actor meant to amuse me and distract from looking too closely at life. Then I realized my 77th Street stop had passed. Then I turned the Rick Ross up, got off at the next stop and zoned back out.
The second time I missed my stop I was reading "Sum: 40 Tales from the Afterlives" by David Eagleman. The book is composed of 40 very brief, but very heavy concepts for the afterlife. One of the alternatives describes the dead dream scenario I poorly summarized above. I wondered if perhaps in the afterlife I will be afforded the chance to live in a city in Florida where hoes will fuck you for your paintjob, turn an eightball into a kilo, then ship 20 Ki's up to Tennessee and eventually have a condo right on Venice Beach where I can watch my girl snort a pile while I sip tea. Because I think a Rick Ross afterlife would be a great way to spend the rest of eternity. After I awoke from my cocaine-rap, post-mortem daydream, I realized I missed my stop and was frustrated until I realized it gave me more time to listen to "Deeper than Rap."
Prophetic Facebook status of the week: Former UO Duck Bryce Taylor, whose broke from his normal updates on whichever streetwear/Clipse album is out, to write: "my nig AB and the Houston Rockets about to give the Blazers the bizness."
Reason why we do actually need sports journalists in the world: For life or death articles like this. Which evoke Manu to write Facebook statuses like this: "My apologies to Major Griffeth. Of course I had no clue what was going on. Just went to buy a laptop and they told me they had one in that one store, went there, picked it up and that was it. I'm very happy to hear that the problem was solved."
Other Manu news: I'm probably the only one who cares, but Manu put up a photo album that is just three out-of-focus pictures of a snake in his backyard.
If you are that bored: You should probably check out this guy's blog. I met him in San Martin de los Andes, Argentina. He was kinda insane. He advised me that I could save money, easily bike to this mountain in Pucon, Chile, hike it and bike back in a couple hours like he had done. When I actually got to Pucon, I learned the mountain was a good 25 km away on an uphill unpaved road and the mountain was a full-day hike for advanced climbers. After I practiced on a 40km local route in which I nearly died, I decided against trying to bike to the mountain. Needless to say, the guy is a lot harder than me and his blog has some cool pics and good stories if you can tolerate 600-word paragraphs.
Speaking of mountain climbing: Lupe Fiasco and Justin Timberlake will try Kilimanjaro. Also note there will be no more LupEND.
My favorite playoff quotes:
"We knew we were going to be a playoff team."
--Devin Harris, New Jersey Nets, Dec. 9 2008
"Lakers. (Host: That easy, again?) It’s no knock on Cleveland, I think Cleveland’s gonna get there… Cleveland to me is really not that good. If you take what the Celtics did last year…You knew, they were either gonna get to the finals, or they were gonna win it. You can’t really say the same thing about the Cavaliers. Although, they had the best record in the league this year, a lot of people like, ‘Okay, they havin’ a great year, but we don’t know if they can win the championship.’"
-- Tracy McGrady on who will win the championship this season. (If the god forbid the Blaze lose the series the Lakers would play the Rockets)