loose balls-jayson williams with steve friedman (part too)

“While we all sprinted and sweated, Charlie would be sitting on his stationary bike-always the same one-pedaling at about one mile an hour, watching us and eating. Eating! And always the same thing. Every morning on the way to practice Charlie would stop at McDonald’s and buy two big orders of pancakes and two big orders of sausage. After a while, he had the Sixers build a special tray on his favorite stationary bike to hold his pancakes and sausages, which he ate while he watched the rest of the team practice.” (15)

“Dogs hate cats. Gorillas hate tigers. I guess some parakeets even want to kick some canaries’ asses. You know how it is. Well, Charles Barkley had it out for Armen Gilliam.” (14)

i can’t front. every time i see charles barkley on tv or hear him on the radio (ok, that one time i heard him on the hangtime podcast), all i can see is this stunning visual of him on an exercise bike spitting pancakes at doods. let’s just read that back again for a minute (i’ll wait).

“Only one lawyer could have settled the NBA lockout in one day. You know who would do that? Matlock. He was the only one who would have taken this case and done it right. The only one.” (99)

i vaguely remember this-it was during my dark age…but i read more about it in that ‘nother, other book about the bballs (forthcoming).

“That’s Madison Square Garden, where the fans love you one minute, hate you the next. A peacock one day, a feather duster the next. That’s how New Yorkers are.” (143)

i’ll keep my ears open during the liberty game that we’re slated to go to this summer, and i was only there for the all-star celeb game, but judging from the crowd that came thru to the barclay’s center, i was afraid for the nets the way that people were so schizophrenically heckling them.

“Why do you have to pray in front of everybody? Why don’t you do it in your locker room? Why pray in the most famous arena in the world, Madison Square Garden? What is that all about? I think it would be more real if you did it in private, for yourself.” (35-6)

and that’s for sure. i’ve been wondering this for a minute, so i’m glad that this was put in print over a decade ago. i recommend this one to anyone looking for some bball nostalgia.

loose balls-jayson williams with steve friedman (part won)

Easy Money, Hard Fouls, Cheap Laughs, & True Love in the the NBA

“That’s what the problem is. This is my solution: All you have to do is before some guy comes in to play in the NBA, he has to work one summer in construction or one summer somewhere where he has to wake up early five days a week, work from nine to five every day, has to buy his groceries, and man he will appreciate the NBA, and the NBA will be a better place.” (89)

“Quit the bull, you know. Tell the truth. The truth is a lot of them just can’t handle the schoolwork and they want a Mercedes. It doesn’t have anything to do with anyone’s mother.” (90)

“There is no tomorrow in the play-offs. That’s the theme of everything on a good postseason team. You know when you die? You die in the summer.” (135)

“I’ve never seen a team win a title because they have a stacked coaching staff. They win because the team is stacked.” (187)

“People don’t want to admit it, but most of the rivalries in this league are between the coaches instead of they players. Because each one of them thinks he invented the game.” (189)

“There were some great athletes on that team, but they were great athletes with issues. I think some of the players on that team, as great as they were, preferred losing to winning. And I think there are more than a few players in the NBA like that. They’re players with really flashy stats, who have never been on a winner. Why players like that prefer losing to winning is, if you win, everybody’s going to be watching you, and then you’re going to have to get better. As long as you lose and get your stats, you get your paycheck and there’s no pressure. If you play well every day and you help your team play well, people are going to pay attention. And then you’ve got pressure and some players just can’t stand that. That’s why you’ve got great players on some bad teams, and when you move them to a good team, they’re failures.” (244)

during this nail-biter of an off-season, i am putting it out there (again) that i think that lamarcus aldridge would be a good look for our team. i’m excited about these draft picks, wondering about the d-league team, and am paying attention once again now that boss man dealt grevis right outta hear post pan-am games. ice cold, but lou is worth it, and that full court shimmy before the game was done-take that shit to jkidd, papa. maybe y’all can spill some sodas together. just don’t get caught on tinder on game day again, tho-that was embarrassing.

del was laughing at me for reading this at the first new q taping, but it was a hilarious and enlightening read-obviously written during a happier time before a limo driver was shot, and possibly before oprah expressed her mutual crush on dood, and i guess before black rob said it in an interview.

among the insights that i appreciated were:

-mean mean michael jordan admitting to him that he would’ve killed the guy who killed his dad because j had the chance to kill the guy who killed his sisters
-he ended up adopting his sisters’ children, they both died of AIDS, and he was a grandfather at 27
-the bottom guys on a team are probably looking forward to vacation
-he fought with his then teammate manute bol during a game
armen gilliam was his neighbour and running an extension cord from his house to steal his electricity while chilling his giant vats of cranberry juice outside in the snow
-he was one of the rookies who “refused to play” for a team (phoenix)
-there were so many charles barkley anecdotes that i am dedicating another blog to them

slumberland-paul beatty

“i’ve lost a lot of sleep to dreams…”

“Not much of a musician, he plays with a shameless naivete reminiscent of Halle Berry trying to act. Just as the starlet’s insufferable overacting is about to drive you insane, she flashes a perfectly parabolic expanse of flesh and all is forgiven; and when you listen to Yong Sook play he’ll miss ten thousand notes, but the one he hits is crazy beautiful.” (197)

“The existentialists say the flap of a butterfly’s wings in the jungles of Mauritania can cause a hurricane in the plains of Kansas, but a high C from Wynton Marsalis’s trumpet doesn’t even change your mood, much less your mind. And I don’t know whether or not Marsalis’s music is an allegory for race, American democracy, or black fascism, but I do know the Schwa’s music is anarchy. It’s Somalia. It’s the Department of Motor Vehicles. It’s Albert Einstein’s hair.” (97)

“I’ve never seen the Mona Lisa, and from what I hear it’s overrated. But what isn’t? Da Vinci got lucky. Every genius does, especially the prolific ones. I feel the same way about Leonardo as I do about Tupac and Edgar Allan Poe. Two composers whose baggy-eyed, drug-induced prolificacy, in much the same way the millionth monkey on the millionth typewriter types Shakespeare, resulted in a few random pieces of brilliance among reams of rhyming, repetitious, woe-is-me claptrap.” (24)

“Whenever I hear about a method of time travel that involves wormholes, flux capacitors, or cosmic strings and no music I’m not impressed. If there is such a thing as a vehicle for time travel it’s music: Ask any brokenhearted Luther Vandross fan.” (224)

and, shots fired. i remember the first time i laid eyes on the white boy shuffle on tali‘s bookshelf. although it’s been a minute, i’m glad to see that mister is still writing, and i read a couple all at once, and he’s every bit as amazing as the first time. i feel like he’s the kind of guy that would fit right in at our chicken and donut eating, rachel dolezal roasting bbq. because we are all going to hell, but it’s going to be a pool party with cops circling to sit on our necks. but at least my occasional alopecia won’t be a problem because it will be a pool party in hell.

on germany:

“‘I consider myself to be a political-linguistic refugee, come to Germany seeking asylum…Listening to America these days is like listening to the fallen King Lear using his royal gibberish to turn field mice and shadows into real enemies. America is always composing empty phrases like ‘keeping it real’, ‘intelligent design’, ‘hip-hop generation’ and ‘first responders’ as a way to disguise the emptiness and the mundanity.” (13)

“I suppose being East German was a lot like being black-the constant sloganeering, the protest songs, no electricity or long-distance telephone service-so I gave the East German Negro a hearty soul shake and a black power salute and wished him luck with the minimum-security emancipation he’d no doubt serve in the new German republic.” (118)

“One day I’m going to call those folks at the Berlitz School of Language, tell them I want money back, that there is no such thing as conversational German, only argumentative German.” (126)

maybe that’s why i’ve let it slip to the wayside on duolingo….

“‘Ikea’s instructions for furniture assembly are the closest thing we earthlings have developed that approaches a universal language….” (194)

sorry, esperanto.

“Strangely, the whole affair reminded me of being on a porn set, and I couldn’t shake the idea that porn stars and black Germans are a lot alike. Two neglected and attention-starved communities of people who, despite their public nakedness, remain ‘invisible’ to a society that pretends not to see them.” (179)

“None of the Germanic tribes had a sun god. Pagan as philosophy professors, the Visigoths, the Franks, and theVandals knew better than to believe in something they couldn’t see.” (9)

and, just wow:

“Heroes. Idols. They’re never who you think they are. Shorter. Nastier. Smellier. And when you finally meet them, there’s something that makes you want to choke the shit out of them.” (151)

“Like Miles Davis in concert, for the most part the penguins stood stock-still, their backs to the audience.” (56)

i’ll never forget mos def’s 92nd street y talk where he discusses the politics of performing on cue-how people always come up to him and say, “rap, you good!” and i was reminded of this wackness at the first new q taping where the same thing basically happened to shad-dear people-please stop this.

“Now I know why Harriet Tubman faked those blackout epileptic seizures: It was the only way she could get those damn abolitionists to stop patronizing her.” (52)

“Fatima didn’t have hobbies or interests. All she had were pronounced bouts of depression and her sister’s broad shoulders to lean on.” (142)

“I’ve tried consuming alchohol through the rectum. It’s the insomniac’s equivalent of a hype’s mainlining junk. The porousness of the rectal walls and their proximity to the digestive system make the onset of insobriety instantaneous and deeply spiritual. The flash flood of drunkenness must be what it’s like to be born with fetal alcohol syndrome.” (210)

“I have a tendancy to remember the names but forget the faces, and I wished that I’d been born with a photographic memory and not a phonographic one.” (150)

“It’s the touch of sound. Sound is touch and nothing touches you like good, really good, music. It’s like being masturbated by the hand of God.” (230)

blue jasmine-dir. woody allen

“i really thought he wasn’t interested..”

cate blanchett said this about woody allen in the dvd extra interview (hey, library). i mean, i guess it’s only a matter of time, considering the ensemble casts that this man drums up every year. at this point, i will watch any of them, but this one i actually liked a lot.

forgiveness-mark sakamoto

“it might not be such a bad idea…”

“You seldom know exactly what someone is thinking, but when sharing food, you know just what the person is experiencing. They ate in silence.” (136)

“Four broken hearts were trying their best.” (209)

happy canaduh day, i’m in america. i chose this one because it’s another alternative world war II story that’s been chosen by the ontario librarian’s association. this time, a mixed-race man pieces together the stories of his grandparents, and it’s kind of the reverse of david suzuki‘s latest book to his grandchildren. i like that he brought to light the similarities of the misery of war, to show that strange human propensity to go to great lengths to be at war, when it’s so much easier not to be.

“It mattered little that Canada’s national security-army, navy, and RCMP-were all on record stating there was no security issue. Vitriol of that degree gets attention. It whips up, it grows, and it often wins.” (90)

“The huts were built of wood and had a dirt floor. They had been hastily set up. The Japanese had not anticipated capturing prisoners, let alone bringing them to Japan.” (130)

“Ralph would think later that it was ironic. Of all the things that had taken him to the edge-bullets, mortars, bayonets, diphtheria, the hellship journey-of all these things, it was snow that had come closest to sending this Canadian boy to his grave.” (131)

“Scarcity leads to tough decisions. Should they take family albums or extra rice? Letters from family in Japan or an extra blanket? They were in survival mode and didn’t have the luxury of being sentimental. You couldn’t eat pictures, and letters wouldn’t keep you warm on a cold winter night unless you burned them.” (99)

“You can do a lot of things when dignity is set aside. You wrap your dignity up and gently place it in the back of your mind, like a cherished heirloom. It may not see the light of day for months, but the knowledge that it is there is the most important thing you have.” (120)

on this birthday of our nation, i think it’s important to note this part of our history, but also the huge capacity to move beyond it. i remember my grade ten math teacher, mister murao, who told us that he didn’t know that he grew up on a beet farm because everyone he knew and loved was there, and later when he got a settlement from the government, he bought a van. shouts to him, and his family that must’ve been on some life is beautiful shit.

“At five, he’d been beaten enough to understand that the strong can force themselves on the weak. He had never been the strong. He liked turning the tables.” (25)

“He told his mother he was fine, but his handwriting gave him away.” (121)

“Like the decision to send Ralph Augustus McLean to war.
Like the decision to intern Mitsue and Hideo Sakamoto.
The decisions made within this room had sealed my grandparents’ fate. They had been condemned there, apprehended there, abandoned there. They had been left for dead there.” (232)

“My grandparents bore witness to the worst in humanity. Yet they also managed to illuminate the finest in humanity. Their hearts were my home. I saw none of the ugliness they had. I felt none of the bitterness.
How on earth did they manage that?
Forgiveness is moving on. It is a daily act that looks forward. Forgiveness smiles.” (237)

“Ralph broke down sometimes. All the men who had been in the war had.” (172)
“Mitsue and Ralph became instant friends. There was an unspoken understanding between them. They were both far too polite to state it, to address it. But they felt they knew each other. Deep down, they knew each other. They had both discarded the past, keeping only what they needed, leaving the rest behind. They did not compare hardships or measure injustices. They knew there was no merit to that…..Breaking down is the easy part. Anyone, at any time, can break down. The act of coming together again is what makes a hero. Moving on, with an open heart, seems, at times, impossible. But it’s not.” (182)

“But I realized now that forgiveness is not a a transaction. It is not an exchange. Forgiveness has nothing to do with the past.” (237)

i guess that old adage is true-smile and the world smiles with you. frown, and you’re a miserable lonely cunt.

from the memoirs of a non-enemy combatant-alex gilvarry

“And so I spent the rest of my first day getting lost, making transfers, missing connections, falling in love. New York’s subway system is a rubber band of sexual tension, stretched and twined around the boroughs, ready to snap.” (13)

“One needed friends much more than lovers and enemies. This city was cutthroat.” (16)

“The last I will say on the matter is that when one does fall in love, there is always a dose of resentment that comes along with it. They go hand in hand. Things get on hold when two people fall for each other.” (108)

ain’t that the truth. i don’t know how it is for other people, but i have a hard time balancing my needs with those of someone i’m in a relationship with. how do you keep it together? by keeping it apart? that’s how i’ve been doing it, but i’m not sure it’s the most sustainable way.

i love the creativity employed to tell this tale. perhaps it was fitting that i was reading it just as omar khadr was being released. the setting of nyc is genius, as it’s one hostile environment that sets the scene for the next one-gitmo. and telling it under the guise of a fluffy story-fashion week rags to riches is a crafty move, because it brings into light the fact that this is a story that gets less attention than fashion week without making it so obvious that it corners people into having to bite and kick their way out of shame and denial.

“Isn’t that the hardest obstacle we artists have to cope with? Admitting to ourselves when something isn’t any good.” (140)

“And you won’t hear any of us called prisoners either. That’s forbidden too. We are detainees. It is all very clever on their part. Because we are not called prisoners, they don’t have to charge us with a crime.” (206)

“I’ve thought a lot about what my special agent said to me regarding each prisoner, how each of us has a valid reason to be here, though some of us don’t deserve to know why.” (230)

“Transport is your first introduction to solitary confinement, and so you retreat into your mind and try to endure the pain of your senses being suffocated.” (264)

“Because everything I write is in the past, I don’t see myself as living anymore. This is what happens to you when you are arrested. The present is shifted instantly into the past, and what had once seemed unfathomable-torment, misery, profound suffering-is now actual.” (267)

“What is it that they say? Home is where you hang yourself.” (5)

and, amen.