Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Minor League

"I'm in [for a Major League sequel]. F---, yeah. Why not? I think enough time has gone by. Let me tell you a story. We had this party at my place a few months ago to watch Major League. It was awesome. The beard was there—Brian Wilson, from the Giants. We had Eddie Murray and Kenny Lofton. And I got David Ward to introduce the film. Colin Farrell showed up. And when my big strikeout at the end comes on, the place goes nuts like we've never even seen the movie before. I'm in between my two girlfriends, and I look over and there's Colin Farrell giving me a thumbs-up. I reach behind me for a fist bump from Brian Wilson, who goes, "Winning!" I'm telling you, David Ward created a baseball classic, and baseball is all that matters in the world." -- You Can Probably Guess Which Member of the Major League Cast. #Wincing!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Department of Documentation, Pop-Up Blog/NBA Draft Edition

I'm more of a word-user than a data-understander. I don't know that Gladwell has taxonomized those particular Types of Modern Information Worker, but what I mean is that I don't totally understand how to read internet data. I know that 'uniques' are a thing you want, and I understand numbers well enough to know that a large number of page-views is more than a smaller number of same. So I'm pretty much qualified to serve as a cyber-security consultant to most members of the House of Representatives, but also essentially a ignoramus on the fine points. But I suspect, from looking at the data for this pop-up NBA Draft blog I did with a few other people, that it was kind of a success.

I don't totally know what a pop-up blog even is -- it just seems like the right term for the thing, which was a sort of spur-of-the-moment collabo between Bethlehem Shoals, Brian Phillips, Tim Marchman, Joey Straight Bangin Litman and Jason Johnson and Michael Katz, the iced-out fashionistos at Clyde Frazier Approves. (And also me) Overall, I think it worked pretty well as an exercise -- we all enjoyed ourselves and typed some things about the draft in real-ish time and stayed off the howling heath that is Twitter for awhile. As a prototype for the Future of Internets it's probably not much: there wasn't quite as much talking-to-each-other as there could have been. But much of the writing, not surprisingly -- given the people involved -- was VERY DOPE. I even wrote something that I like about Jeremy Tyler, and I barely even know anything about Jeremy Tyler. It was supernatural. Gods and monsters and Bismack Biyombo's freaky arms. The whole thing.

So I know, because I've read it over, that it was pretty good. Words, there, which helped. But I looked at the stats on the site yesterday, and was surprised/delighted/confused to see that the site got something like 5,100 pageviews over the course of its first 24 hours of existence. About a fifth of those came through Twitter, another couple hundred through a mention at Deadspin, a 150 or so through Tumblr (all Shoals, there) and the rest... are magic? I don't know, if that's in the stats, I can't make sense of it. (There have been another couple hundred since, which is weird given that nothing has gone up -- or will go up -- since I said goodnight following the selection of that Hungarian guy)

Now, 5000-plus pageviews seems like quite a lot to me, although I'm not really sure/really not the guy to ask if that's actually true in either absolute or relative terms. But, but: it was a lot of fun, and I'd do the hell out of it again, whatever those numbers mean. And, and here's the silly thing about even looking at things like blog-stats, I'd do it again just as much if half or twice as many people read it. Of all the good things to have happened in my writing life over the past year, the opportunity to not just get the time of day but to actually build with the dudes linked above (and others I respect as much) might be the coolest. I can't quantify that, either, but I know it and I'm grateful for it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Twin Illing

Oh right. Because I wasn't blogging for like three months, I kind of forgot about a GQ outtake that I wanted to get up here. Thanks to Zach Harper, then, for this tweet, which -- besides making a great and hilariously trivial and totally subjective and maybe wrong point -- reminded me that I had an unpublished thought. Just languishing there, unpublished. What is this, 2002? FUCK THAT SHIT.

So yeah, the story would be that, as part of my very enjoyable stint co-blogging with The Big Homey Bethlehem Shoals at GQ's NBA Playoffs blog, my editor let me write some goofy, glossy-mag style ledes for fake profiles of NBA benchwarmers. It's an idea near and dear to my heart, since I invariably find glossy-mag profiles hilarious and bloated and kind of stunning in their instantly-dated, strangely evergreen hoariness. I was happy with the two pieces I wrote -- and the one that the terrific Sean Conboy wrote for Brian Cardinal -- even if the one I wrote for Royal Ivey somehow resulted in everyone from Oklahoma City getting really mad at me on Twitter and (as OKC'ers will do) becoming defensive and prickly in a way that resulted in contradicto-bile of the "UR an ignorant faggot" variety. Some troll-y dude with a face like a char siu pork took my joke about OKC's restaurant scene personally -- I should mention that it was a joke again, I guess? In case anyone thought I was seriously suggesting that Golden Corral is the best restaurant in a city, anywhere? -- and it got kind of out of hand. The one I wrote for Troy Murphy, which I think is maybe funnier, got no such response, naturally, because Morris County, NJ, stand up.

Anyway, I wrote a third one of these for Jason Collins (right, above, grimacing), which never ran because there was never room for it in the flow before the Hawks were eliminated. Which means that the first two paragraphs from "A Man Called Twin" have never been seen... until now. YOU ARE LIVING IN A MIRACLE, INTERNET.

I am so sorry about these capital letters. Here it is:

From "A Man Called Twin"

There is Jason Collins, and then there is Jason Collins. This is beyond all those terrible, terrible seeing-double jokes, the ones the big man has heard since he was a big kid – jokes he has heard because Jason Collins has an identical twin brother named Jarron, and because the two of them spent a lot of time on the basketball court together, being taller and more alike-looking than anyone else out there. So there is Jason Collins, and there is his actual twin – big fella, wearing street clothes on the Los Angeles Clippers' bench, looks suspiciously like Jason – whose existence probably has something to do with why Jason's teammates call him "Twin." But while the nickname makes sense, there's more to it – and more to why it makes so much sense as a description of one of the NBA's gentlest giants – than the simple, dry and factual. Which works, because there is more than one Jason Collins.

There is the one who sets the screens, plays the defense, does those big-L big-T Little Things. Which is the Jason Collins you know about, and the one you hear about. But while those are the things that have earned Jason Collins his millions, and which pay for the acres of cashmere sweaters hanging in his walk-in closet, they are… wait, the sweaters are hanging? "I'm a neat guy, I guess," Collins says. "And if you have the right type of hanger you don't get those little bumps in the shoulder-area that you can get sometimes if you leave something on a hanger too long." And now we're getting close to the other Jason Collins: the tough guy and the one who lovingly maintains those soft, two-ply sweaters. The guy who sets the bone-rattling picks and the one who will proudly tell you that he picked out all the furniture in his Buckhead home because "home is important." Twin's twin, let's call him. The other Jason Collins.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Tonight I celebrate the one-week anniversary of my first and last Papa John's Pizza, which I dis-enjoyed in an EconoLodge in Bangor, Maine, near one of America's worst-lit airports. This week, I plan on writing something about it, either here or for The Awl. It won't just be about that. But also this pizza thing is maybe being taken a bit far and ALSO I do not take back a single thing about Papa J and his fantastical gluten-delivery discs. Because really now, this was just about exactly what I expected. Domino's without the soul. Or at least without the sauce and weird cornmeal crusties and sense that someone gave a shit. So keep your eyes peeled for that, provided I actually get around to writing it.

Here's the face it made me make. Not so much like the shrieking lipid-beasts you see high-fiving Sir Schnattz in his commercials, but then again I was in a (fucking) EconoLodge in (fucking) Bangor, and saved the receipt because I thought the experience might become tax-deductible. So different strokes for different folks. By which I mean that people who eat this pizza a lot will get strokes.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Chosen Ones And Others

Last summer, in the frantic and screechy days leading up to LeBron James's peculiar, image-shredding, goofily grandiose "Decision" broadcast, I got pretty busy. There were some (Ryan Genovese-assisted) suggestions of ways to spice up the broadcast, inspired by the ultra-perplexing Dean Martin Variety Show and a puzzling over the week's wince-y phenomenology here and at Can't Stop The Bleeding (twice, actually). When James finally signed with the Heat, it was a let-down in a bunch of different ways and at a bunch of different levels, but it was also something of a relief. Not just because I'd no longer need to wade through inherently un-verifiable pseudo-scoops as part of my Daily Fix duties, although there was certainly that. Instead, something seemed settled about LeBron, who is pretty clearly the best and among the most interesting players of his generation.

It wasn't that he was a villain, although that was the narrative that (justifiably) emerged in the wake of his decision to break up with his home state in what amounted to a televised infomercial for himself. Scooby Doo cartoons and sports columns are the only place in which people "are revealed" as villains, and anyway the hero/villain thing is never not-bullshit, at least in a sports-y context. The real revelation, not so much on the evening of The Decision but during a season marked by some petty bully-boy bullshit, some pettier mean-girl bullshit, and finally by a certain hollowness -- was that LeBron was less the fun-loving if somewhat thwarted figure that he had appeared to be during his early years in Cleveland and was instead seemingly dedicated to chasing a Jordan-inf(l)ected vision of Greatness. Not greatness qua being great, although that's obviously part of it, but greatness as in vastness -- championships and memorable photos of himself after winning championships, a brand that expands and engulfs forever and ever amen, and so on. "Global icon" was a term he used for it earlier in his career, and in all its bleak, un-human and multiple capitalistic crassnesses it was apparently what he meant. It's one thing to pull against a player whose style of basketball or on-court affect or locality of employment are unappealing to you. It's another, easier, thing to wish defeat upon a player who aspires with all his being to global brand-hood, to someday being raptured directly into the NYSE. That was the disappointment, for me, with LeBron -- that a player with so beautiful a talent (and with what seemed a healthy sense of humor) aspired to become a post-human, living/breathing/sweating/pooping corporation.

It has been an orgy of revilement for LeBron since his Heat lost to the Mavericks in the NBA Finals, and while Bethlehem Shoals and I have discussed what that match-up meant to us in our GQ chats, and while everyone in the whole fucking world has discussed What LeBron's Problem Is, I apparently still had a little bit left in me on this. So I wrote something I'm pretty happy with about LeBron and His Sad Aspirations for The Awl. In it, I compare him to a Richard Serra sculpture, which is maybe not the high point of my metaphor-making career -- I'd imagine that would involve ham and either a politician or a quarterback, somehow -- but which did provide an excuse not to run a picture of LeBron with this post. So you're welcome for that, I guess?