metrotextual-may 2015

i feel like there’s a point in all of my attempted records where things get a bit murky, and i have hit that point here. my may 2015 file is full of books dated with different months, so i think this means that i didn’t record the exact date that i read them, but i recorded the dates that i blogged them, when i was still doing that. my apologies to kathryn kiutenbrouwer for the interview i never wrote up from our talk about all of the broken things, i don’t think i was actually ready to confront my feelings about talking to you about the book you wrote about vietnamese-canadian identity.

the books:

1) All of the Broken Things-Kathryn Kiutenbrouwer
2) Exposing Myself-Geraldo Rivera
3) From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant-Alex Gilvarry
4) Blackballed: The Black Vote and US Democracy-Darryl Pinckney
5) After Artest-The NBA and the Assault on Blackness-David J. Leonard

these were all very big books, literally and literally. one of them prompted me to contact a former canadian talk show host to ask if he’s ever interviewed geraldo (he had not). one of these i got from the philly free library podcast, my longtime fave.

here are some quotes:

“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)

“Barbara used to tell me that people like us would always carry the double-edged sword of celebrity: greater access to sources, but resentment from rivals and colleagues. Don’t let it affect your work, she counselled. On some stories, especially in remote places, we will often cause a bigger fuss than the story itself. Don’t worry about it. Just concentrate on doing better than anyone else.” (307)

“There were more rats running around the emergency room than hospital staff. The place would have been a scandal in Addis Ababa, or Bombay, but it was quietly tolerated in the urban wasteland of the South Bronx.” (72)

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

“Obama’s reelection stimulated concern in some quarters about the price black Americans were paying for a black president.” (39)

“We rented a boat, and I rowed us to a remote corner of the reservoir. The sun baked down hot. I took off my shirt, and we embraced. Right there, the estranged first lady of Canada leant new meaning to the term head of state.” (333)

“It was the shame Teacher conveyed, by trying to fix things. He wanted to shout that these things were just broken. He wanted her to understand about the pride of broken things.” (161)

“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)

five words: politricks, notoriety, truth, advice, reality

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metrotextual-may 2016

the books:

1) The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears-Dinaw Mengetsu-may 6
2) The Punch-John Feinstein-may 11
3) One Last Thing Before I Go-Jonathan Tropper-may 13
4) Eleven Rings-Phil Jackson with Hugh Delehanty -may 17th
5) Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Ex*-Heather Belle, Michelle Fiordaliso-may 19
6) Super Sad True Love Story-Gary Shteyngart-may 30

huh. deep in the playoffs for the first time, it doesn’t surprise me that it was mostly fiction and basketball, with a touch of trust issues.

the quotes:

“It wasn’t a kiss so much as it was a gentle press, or an extended graze of lips, full of a sudden, almost crushing tenderness.” (59)

“Players and coaches were far more accessible to the media. To begin with, there were far fewer media outlets. ESPN was still two years from its launch, and USA Today was six years away from publishing for the first time. None of the twenty-four-hour news services that now glut the airwaves existed. Writers often traveled on the same flights as the players. Their lifestyles weren’t all that different. The difference in salaries between most players and most writers wasn’t that great. Often they ate and drank together.” (36)

“He loves her as much as any man can love a woman he’s never spoken to, which is significantly more than you’d think.” (12)

“One thing I’ve learned as a coach is that you can’t force your will on people. If you want them to act differently, you need to inspire them to change themselves.” (13)

“And beneath the chaos of the moment, Denise becomes aware of a painful truth about herself: she is never as deeply in love with a man as she is in the moment he leaves her.” (211)

“To earn that kind of trust and affection from a child is to find out that you may have just been a better person than you believed all along.” (108)

“What impressed me most about Scottie, however, was his development over time as a leader-not by mimicking Michael but by teaching his teammates how to play within the system and always offering a compassionate ear when they ran into trouble. This was critical because Michael wasn’t very accessible and many of the players were intimidated by his presence. Scottie was someone they could talk to, someone who would keep an eye out for them on court. As Steve Kerr says, ‘Scottie was the nurturer, Michael was the enforcer.’” (74)

“While the desire to please caregivers is natural, it can become confusing if too much was expected from you as a child…..If responsibilities were foisted upon you too early, you may have come to believe that your greatest worth comes from denying yourself and offering up acts of service instead.” (102)

“I was only sixteen at the time. I didn’t believe in consequences yet.” (126)

“I felt both jealous of their youth and scared for their future. In short, I felt paternal and aroused, which is not a good combination.” (206)

in five words: experience, relationships, revelations, imaginary, intimidation.

metrotextual-may 2017

here are the books i read this month a year ago:

1) milk and honey-rupi kaur-may 3
2) I Have the Right to Destroy Myself-Young-Ha Kim-may 5
3) Listening to Grasshoppers-Arundhati Roy-may 10
4) Things that Can and Cannot Be Said-Arundhati Roy and John Cusack-may 11
5) Long Shot-Craig Hodges with Rory Fanning-may 14th
6) The Art of a Beautiful Game-Chris Ballard-may 16
7) Hungry Heart-Jennifer Weiner-may 22
8) Do I Have to Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?-Jordan and Margaret Paul, Ph.D.-may 25
9) The Name Therapist-Duana Taha-may 27

some pull quotes:

“We all want freedom and we all want intimacy-at the same time.” (19)

“Failure to understand a player’s psyche is a flaw Ravin sees in the disciplinarian style of some coaches. Rather than empowering a player, they strip him of his authority.” (158)

“…being a good writer and a good reporter are far from the same thing. A writer can be invisible, but a reporter has to be both present and persistent, showing up with a notebook or asking questions over the phone.” (130)

“In a lot of ways, I relied on my education to maintain my edge with Jordan. I knew he didn’t know shit about Black history. No matter how much people praised Jordan, no matter how many awards he won, no matter how much money he had, he didn’t have the thing I held most dear: an education in the struggle of our people. This gave me confidence on the court and in the locker room with him.” (99)

“The trend of skipping grades stopped once educators realized that they were creating a generation of social cripples.” (25)

“R.Kelly went on to do great and horrible things. Carlita and I were both proud to say we played a part in his musical success. The fact that he cheated with my wife , in my house, after all I did for him, still haunts me from time to time.” (83-4)

“Can you really bomb feminism into a country?” (22)

“Most people take their first date to a movie, but not me; I take my first dates to hear the minister Louis Farrakhan speak.” (63)

“History is really a study of the future, not the past.” (23)

“It’s easy to have sex when you can’t really communicate.” (66)

“People who don’t know how to summarize have no dignity.” (6)

wow. so i guess we don’t really ever change who we are. (as we shouldn’t). thanks to these writers/ballers for their work.

coach wooden and me-kareem abdul-jabbar

“you like brazilian music?”

ok so, was this commonly known? i’ve read a concentration of kareem abdul-jabbar‘s books lately, and this is the first one of the bunch that he hasn’t written with a cowriter. i suppose that makes sense, as it is the most personal. the inside jackets are proof of how prolific he’s been (lately, and ever), i feel like this one must have been released within months of writings on the wall. i learn something every time that i read one of his books, and this time, the most surprising thing was when he just tries to casually drop the detail “i had just started training with bruce lee“. the most basic google search yielded this fascinating (and at times homoerotic) clip with a curious soundtrack that i won’t ever be able to unsee.

long relationships always make me cry because they are proof that people can and do choose to stick around and work things out. intentional ones infinitely more so for the work and hurt (and triumph) of these reasons.

***i am feeling the urge to interject my continued feeling that vince carter should retire here because the jersey pictures have already surfaced, and i don’t remember which basketball book it was that i learned that the first step to trading a player is to leak it in the press and see how people receive it, but i did read that, and the response has been great. i’m sad that it didn’t happen by the deadline, i mean, bruno for vc should’ve been a good trade? but they (cleveland and the nba) must have known that veteran leadership and all of they symbolism would’ve pushed this current team towards at least the nba finals…so….***

i am interested in coach books because i am inspired by people who do right because it’s the right thing to do (and sports in general because it is a secular form of witness/worship). respecting, influencing and teaching people is thankless work that may never pay big dividends because it requires those people to also do the work. it may come years later, and in strange ways, as kareem accounts many times in this book (and his others).

here are the highlights as i have pulled them:

“Being good is the payoff, athletically and spiritually. That’s why he didn’t care for sports movies in which the underdog team or player learns the hard way that winning isn’t everything, but then they go on to win at the end.” (8)

bad news bears. it’s also the reason that i dislike the fact that awards for individual merit often outshine team play (i will never get over russell westbrook‘s kick in the face of an MVP award).

“His players would graduate with grades that would give them career opportunities beyond sports. He was worried about our long-term happiness, not our win-loss record.” (23)

no kidding.

“Both of us spoke fluent basketball, a language free of emotion. He loved that shot and saw in it possibilities I hadn’t imagined.” (106)

(sky hook).

“There’s very little creativity in racism.” (133)

still.

“I tried to make the point that true patriotism is about acknowledging problems and, rather than running away from them, joining together to fix them.” (142)

amen.

“It was jazz as religion: everyone playing the same song, but adapting, improvising, harmonizing until we produced beautiful music together.” (217)

this was a really interesting point-no set plays, just lots of practice. i basically told some teenagers the same thing when i was working at the music school, “don’t be scurred, just be pre-purred”. i am almost certain that this is at least part of what’s been happening in san antonio all this time.

the other night, at the rather lacklustre celtics game, we honoured bill russell for black history month as he should be honoured and one of the images on the big screen was obama awarding him with the same award that he awarded kareem with to start this book, the same one that bush (jr) awarded to coach wooden and i got to thinking about whom, if anyone, this sitting guy will honour, since he doesn’t seem to have much regard for or interest in history or the future, and my i am truly sad that he doesn’t know the power of reading.

the ways of white folks-langston hughes

i read this because it was recommended to horace grant by phil jackson.

sooooo.

here are my questions:

1) did phil jackson read this?
2) when did phil jackson read this?
3) what the hell prompted him to recommend this to horace grant (in the same year that he recommended a beevis and butthead title to stacey augmon)?
4) did horace grant read this?
5) did these players have questions on the correlations between them and their books?
6) were the reading assignments handed out at the beginning or the end of the season?
7) again-what the natural hell?!

and of course, the most affecting story, father and son, is the last chapter.

dang.

sacred hoops-phil jackson

this was my holiday book, my homecoming book, probably partially what led to my dad asking me about “my favourite team, the chicago bulls” and having my grade 10 picture up because he doesn’t like my bangs in my grad picture. in a lot of ways, i did feel like i was back in the tenth grade, rooting for the bulls.

i rang in the new year, in a tall chair eating a delicious meal reading this, calmly waiting to come home. i don’t know how zen phil jackson is these days, running the new york knicks organization into the ground, but to be fair-he inherited a helluva job.

(and doing oakley like that?! come on, man-if he wasn’t traded for cartwright, you would’ve coached him instead of coaching against him all those years)

“Basketball happens at such a fast pace that your mind has a tendency to race at the same speed as your pounding heart. As the pressure builds, it’s easy to start thinking too much. But if you’re always trying to figure the game out, you won’t be able to respond creatively to what’s going on.” (50)

tell me about it. this playoffs is making me feel things that i never thought i would-like teams that i never cared about-i gotta hand it to the celtics, they looked really good against the bulls last night, though the t-shirt jerseys (and rondo’s blush on blush suit) maybe had something to do with it….and the rockets? i started out just rooting against westbrook-because can you really be mvp if your team is knocked out in the first round (again?) and the utah jazz? i didn’t know a single player, but hey-they’re looking pretty solid. i never thought i would be saying that in my lifetime. but i can’t figure basketball out, i can just love it.

“Our own life is the instrument with which we experiment with the truth.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

and love it i do. like this wonder-full vacation here in the trill. although i’m mostly hiding out, guarding the hearth and taking care of the babies, i’ve found myself smiling over the simple things-like earlier on a terrace with an iced coffee writing letters and before that, air drying on the couch with the rottweiler and bojack horseman.

we never really change who we are, and here’s another example of phil’s long-standing feelings on young talented ballers:

“Everywhere he went, he was surrounded by a squadron of bodyguards and ‘a personal entourage,’ who formed a cocoon around him that was difficult to penetrate.” (19)

hmm. sounds like a posse to me.

game on, players.

the whore of akron-scott raab

“When I see footage of LeBron with the little boys and girls, I am both sickened and enraged. Idi Amin: I’m watching LeBron James, the last king of Cleveland, using children as props, as ornaments, as moral deodorant.
You want to stay, whore, stay. You want to go, whore, go. But spare us an hour of ESPN eunuchs lapping your scrotum while you void your bowels and bladder on the only fans who’ll ever love you like a member of the tribe.” (116)

and i thought i disliked lebron. shit. i almost felt bad for him after this irresistible vitriol packaged in black and shiny gold with its blasphemously sexy title from the shelf of my home home branch (parkdale). but not quite.

just like i felt bad for him in game 2 of the finals when they were whooped by golden state. but not quite, as i remembered how there wasn’t a single foul called on them in game five of our series.

if anything, i was embarrassed by the privilege of the author, and slightly hope-full that i could also write a bitter crazy book about basketball, but since i’m not an overweight wealthy dood, i may not have the same access. a woman can dream. but a woman will probably be heavily edited and put into a respectable pantsuit. (sigh).

“There were neither boundaries nor consequences, perfect training for a writer.” (14)

i mean, i was kind of the opposite-writing my way out of an environment (and city) of control and confinement. reading was my escape and empowerment, the most fruit-full coping mechanism…

regardless, i read this at the spa outside montreal on my bday weekend with my girls, so it was the perfect companion to naps in hammocks and saunas and steamrooms and waterfalls and the fire pit. it was definitely better to be high for it. shoutout to pax.

it feels like a good time to bring it back, because i keep trying to like lebron-but i’m so conflicted. for example-he did the right thing to complicate the “locker room talk” comment by asserting that there are men who do not talk about assaulting women, even though he had to qualify it by relating to his mother in law, daughter and wife (no mention of his moms, but maybe because she’s always allegedly trying to sleep with his teammates? at least that’s what the book says). but at least he said something. and i know he does a lot of good work, but just hearing him mic’d during games, or seeing him lounging around eating popcorn tonight, or in post-game interviews quoting jay-z lyrics, or crying about being kicked in the balls when he knew that that was his own fault…it’s just so difficult.

and not everyone can say it as razor sharply as this ideal man:

(swoon). impulse buying a second headliner ticket to see him was one of the best decisions i’ve made all year. i may need to start staying up late.

in conclusion:

“Hating is a full time job.” (189)

but so is loving y’all, so is loving.