after artest-the nba and the assault on blackness-david j.leonard

“A few years with Mike Kryzwezski, Bob Knight, or any number of white NCAA coaches was seen as the answer to the influx of the hip-hop generation player. ‘The coach is similar to the White male father figure, whereas Black male athletes are like children, under the father’s control and subject to his rule,’ writes Abby Ferber. ‘It is only when they accept and lay this role that they are fully embraced and accepted as seen as non-threatening. Their bodies can be admired as long as they are perceived as controlled by White males. These athletes are then defined as the ‘good blacks’ (2007, p.20).” (92)

“The effort to exclude under-20 ballers from the NBA, while also motivated by owners not wanting to pay first-round dollars to players who might take years to develop and college programs wanting to profit from the unpaid labor of America’s top ballers, reflects a desire to push America’s best players into attending college so they can join the league having been already ‘seasoned’ and ‘domesticated’.” (102)

“According to Ian O’Connor, David Stern ‘wanted an age requirement to turn back the high school tide, and yet he found himself marketing high school players to his paying public. LeBron. T-Mac. Kobe. KG. In one breath, Stern celebrated their contributions to his game. In the next, he pledged his allegiance to the cause of stopping future LeBrons, T-Macs, Kobes and KGs from showing up in his league before age 20” (O’Connor 2005a, p.110).” (62)

i can’t lie. i had to go back into the archives and post this one before i blogged the phil jackson book about the “kobe how my ass taste” lakers-coincidentally the topic of this week’s edition of the nba hangtime podcast. i also must admit that this one coloured my reading of that one, and phil came through and in his own words confirmed his feelings about his role as coach, and the condescending attitude he has towards his players.

this period of basketball time is my “lost years”, when i was off in montrill living life and running after musicians and thangs, but i am interested in everything that happened-from the brawl to the dress code to the criminalization of the players-the author’s musing is true-in no other sport does fighting qualify you as a criminal-in real life. think of all the violence and concussions in hockey and football-but players get absolved off the ice/field-even the ones that are actually murderers. but these doods who barely know how to fight (remember when van gundy won that fight?) get brushed off as a bunch of thugs and spoiled brats? come on-like any other sports player doesn’t make millions of dollars? imagine if ball players were like the cast of friends-demanding to be paid per episode? now imagine if teachers were. the inequality of wealth is a problem, but let’s not blow it out of proportion, or focus too narrowly.

“According to the media discourse, while a problem in itself, the Palace Brawl also signified a larger issue: the growing power and influence of the hip-hop generation as represented by a group of millionaire, ghetto-raised, gangsta ballers, who not only brought the crossover, trash-talking and high-flying dunks into the league, but also ego, excess and violence. They threatened the financial viability of the league, along with the connections between fan and player. It demonstrated that hip-hop as cultural style, as swagger, as signifier of coolness, wasn’t compatible with all NBA fans. The elusive goal of racial transcendence would be impossible should the relationship with hip-hop continue because of the imagined links between hip-hop and blackness. Blackness was always just beneath the surface, a powder-keg waiting to explode the NBA’s bubble of racial neutrality. With the Palace Brawl, Artest popped the bubble; with his body lying on the scorer’s table or his (and others) fighting in the stands, blackness was in full view, requiring efforts to control and manage their racialized bodies.” (26)

“In response to falling ratings, dissipating corporate support, a deluge of publication relation’s nightmares, and unrelenting criticism from much of the media, the NBA hired Matthew Dowd, a Texas strategist who had previously worked with George W. Bush on his reelection campaign. Having successfully helped Bush find immense support within Middle America, Dowd was brought in ‘to help’ Stern ‘figure out how to bring the good ‘ol white folks back to the stands’ (Abramson 2005).” (129)

“What is striking about the discourse surrounding the player responses, beyond the erasure of their heterogeneity, is the way in which the media used players’ references to race and racism as justification for a dress code.” (133)

“Throughout the media discourse, commentators minimized, dismissed and ridiculed critics (particularly players) for inserting race where it did not belong. In citing African American support for the dress code, the universal nature of the dress code, and the fact that the code was designed to ‘help’ black players, the discourse invoked dominant rhetorical devices to deny the significance of race.” (136)

“The demonization of Allen Iverson, Stephen Jackson, and Marcus Camby as ungrateful, out-of-control hip-hop ballers (as angry and black and therefore unable to function as the desired racially transcendent players)-and the construction of David Stern as their benevolent white father working tirelessly to protect their interests demonstrate the dialectics between the dress code and race.” (140)

i mean-did more people watch carmelo’s “stop snitching” video than the one his wife posted to show that she wasn’t cheating with maino? i don’t think so. were more people focused on the cornrows and baggy jeans of yore than his ridiculous green puss-in-boots hat on all-star weekend? is david stern to blame for andrew wiggins being drafted in his granny’s suit? or joakim noah‘s ridiculous seersucker sideshow bob getup?



journal throwback #1

from a list compiled on november 21, 2007, “100 things that make me special and unique”:

#4 i read poles

#26 i am surrounded by hot women so i must be doing something right

#34 that no small pleasure is overlooked in my eyes

#35 that musicians personally invite me to their shows

#41 i am a timeline of my geography

#58 i am privy

#59 i am well-read

#68 i concoct stunning testimonials

#88 i write really good lists

#94 old people fucking love me

so, just under eight years later, most of this is still true, some of it puzzles me (i am a timeline of my geography? i guess i kind of get that…) and i’m glad that i could pull ten percent of the list, as a lot of is is reaching and kind of embarrassing (lest i was under any impression of my maturity, “#15 my booty”). it is a humbling exercise to go through one’s previous writings, and i shudder at what’s left from my early years-abandoned in garages and gone forever when my parents’ house sold last year. i found a box of these books during one of my recent inventories (yes, lindsay-it is on my list of things that i love to do) and i’ve just come up with a new sunday activity now that i don’t have any more poems to mash up. i also started writing my washroom stickers, so woot! to finishing projects. postage stamp pins, i’m coming for you next!

survivor’s remorse-season one

“you’re a real byron allen”

this one came out a search for “the complete first season” at the toronto public library. i enjoyed it a lot-not just for mike epps, but for all the great writing, character development, and nice camera angles. i gotta bigup starz once again-and lebron james for playing a behind the scenes role on this one-did anyone every follow up on that whole sending a million children to college thing? i’m sure he had a lot of his own personal experience that applied here-both in lived experience and perhaps what he would’ve wanted.

after our rollicking second annual outing to the ex, it was nice to come home to chill and finish this one with the cat. i guffawed many a time aloud here, and can’t wait to see season two (again). dang, starz-way to be.

service ontario-on a tuesday

me: “is it glamourous?”

her: (deadpan). “yes”.

me: “and if i get the card in 4-6 weeks and it’s not?”

her: “then you’ll live with it for the next five years”.

i love it-i’ve decided that the teeny service ontario office on college street will be my favourite one-it seems like you’re waiting a long time because the lineup wraps out of the building, but it’s just one line-i’m pretty sure that moves faster than the whole foods model of flashing lights and lining up and scattering and checking for random numbers for the entire afternoon. folks were friendly and help-full, and i got it done in about 1/2 an hour, and had enough time to have a conversation with my latest contact at MLSE.

i am also now an organ donor-and made the ticket agent guffaw when i confirmed that my organs would only be harvested after i died. there are a lot of licence places from everywhere plastered on the wall and i didn’t get the story of them, but that’s further motivation for a story next time.

i got my laundry done before i went out to meet an old friend for the lovely prix fixe at libretto, and he gave me a ride to the office, and i finished season two of the newsroom and took a nap with the cat, so all in all, it was a great day off. it’s about to get mad again for the next couple of months, but i’m excited for it all.

big love to kathryn kiutenbrauer for her nomination for the toronto book award-i called that months ago, and am looking forward to sitting down with an interview with her before she blows all the way up.

back to the ex tomorrow!!!!

between gods-alison pick

“One person’s certainty makes room for another’s reluctance. This is true of dynamics within a relationship, and true of the existence of the relationship itself.” (99)

“It’s hard to tell whether I feel disappointment tinged with relief, or the opposite.” (215)

“At a time of spiritual crisis, it is best to do nothing. To float, and collapse into bed, I find myself unable to pray. I am between Gods, as others are between relationships or careers.” (92)

“I’m looking in the wrong place. I’m looking outside, when I know full well the answers I need are inside me. It’s just so much harder to find them there.” (119)

i believe this is still my pick so far for the OLA evergreen summer reading list. perhaps it’s the order in which i read them in, but there was more in this that i could relate to- not directly, but not indirectly either. i asked a friend for his opinion as he has a very strong one on all things jew-and he didn’t know her name, but when i showed him a picture, he laughed because apparently ok cupid had made them as a match for the past two years. judging from the rockiness of her marriage as described in the book, i suppose i’m not surprised that she’d be online dating. unsolicitedly, our produce manager was like, “i know her! i haven’t read any of her books though”.

“As a writer, I believe in the power of words, but there are things words cannot speak to, worlds that language cannot name.” (362)

“I’m silent. I know he’s lashing out because I’m here.” (323)

“We talk for a while about the legacy of denial, about how the grief I am feeling isn’t just my own but my father’s and grandparents’ as well. About how a secret, passed down the generations, grows until it’s impossible to hold. About the sudden desire I have to fix the past, to undo the wrong that’s been done.” (53)

“So by the time depression came for me in my early twenties, I already had two decades of unexpressed grief accumulated inside me, the grief of small pains and sleights. Yes, in the big picture I was a content child with a very happy childhood. None of the classic traumas had ever darkened my door. But it turns out Granny was right. Life is inherently painful. And several generations of unshed tears eventually become a flood.” (32)

i get this push to right all the past wrongs in this life. i also get that going back is a way to understand the present and enact preventative measures for future hurt, whether or not we get to see them into fruition or not. i also know what it is to hit a brick wall when it comes to trying to get people to help you do this, whether people are just avoiding their own hurt or they’re occupying this paradoxical religious place that starts to look a lot like exclusion-it’s like living in quebec-people want to preserve their culture and fight for inclusion, by exclusion. tell me how that works-humans, why come we’re so wrong?

“The implication is that this was a loss, like losing your virginity to an asshole.” (228)

“This whole process is news to me. I have always assumed that I could reclaim my father’s Judaism when I wanted, like a lost suitcase at an airport security desk.” (28)

“Do people really change? Is it possible to start life anew?” (302)

both times she’s pregnant, she complains about what she cannot eat. i get that-there’s a selective little alien growing inside you and it’s restricting you from certain foods? it was an interesting parallel story of control of one’s body and actions when trying to pursue a very specific life program. i can also see how all these things happening at once would wreak havoc on one’s whole everything, so big ups for making it through, at least in the book.

power-the first season

i don’t think i’ve ever missed a show. not in the way that i miss a book after i can’t read it fast enough (little bee-i see you). but i guess there’s a first time for everything.

i started watching this just before my last breakup, but decided to pick it up again after hearing the naturi naughton episode of the combat jack show. never being one to support curtis jackson‘s work, i have to give it to him for hitting it out of the park this time. from the theme song and opening sequence, to the fact that the show is shot everywhere in new york, i love this show and am so very great-full to the library for having it.

the show is perfectly cast, and not just because most of them are stunning to look at. that of course does help, though the subject matter hits a little too close when omari is shot from certain angles. the actress who plays angie looks like the hottest jlo-the ’96 jlo, when she was still jennifer lopez-out of sight jennifer lopez, with longer hair.

the jury’s out on whether or not i will find a way to watch season two via the internets, or if i will wait for it to come out on dvd. which marshmallow am i going to pick? now or later?!

this is the end

woman who taps my shoulder: “have you been to a taping for this show before?”

me: “no, you?”

her: “yea, this is my second time. the last time we were here until midnight”.

me: “WHAT?!”

her: “well, they taped the first season. and i broke up with my boyfriend”.

me: “huh, it must’ve been good if you came back after all that”.

her: “well, i broke up with him again”.

me: “so, if you don’t break up with him again, you’ll never attend another tv taping?”

her: “probably not”.

that was about my third sign that this was probably not what i signed up for. when we got out of the elevator, the “craft services” with tzatiki sandwiches and fruit rollups were the worst sign, because if they’re feeding people before they go in, it’s gonna be a long one.

i did the whole two minute rule (if things don’t change in two minutes, bounce) and made the executive decision that after giving an hour of my precious day off (with 8 episodes of power burning a hole in my apartment) i was done, so i just took the elevator back down and walked out the door onto front street.

just like when they almost broke my jaw and i knew that i was done doing experiments, this is the end of my career as being an audience member-until jimmy fallon, of course. i don’t know-maybe i’m just spoiled from years of being in the strombo audience, but these two-bit zee-list shows that i’m being invited to wait hours for to tape are just not cutting it.

so, that’s it. back to the tv on dvd-by the way, power is fire. i even like the theme song, i’m glad that bankrupt 50 has been seeing the same speech therapist as charles barkley. enunciation for days.