Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Moral Integrity of the Boo

So I wanna talk about this video that's been making the rounds today. I could describe it, but hows about you just go ahead and watch it:

Now there have been many conclusions drawn from and conversations had about this video. Some people have talked about how this is just a real life example of the dangers of depersonalizing a human being because it leads you to treat them like garbage. People have drawn comparisons between this and what happens on internet message boards and comment sections and so on. I've seen people saying that Yankees fans are scum because they did this. I've seen sports fans in general vilified because of the mob mentality that seems to overcome sports fans, leading them to do despicable things like booing athletes they formerly hero-worshipped. I can see arguments for all these conclusions, though I may not necessarily agree with them. These conclusions are all interesting in their own right, but they ignore a much deeper problem.

From this video one might get the impression that there is something inherently reprehensible about the boo. It seems to be making the claim that to boo an athlete or team or what have you is the equivalent of discounting the humanity of that athlete or team or what have you. The video takes the fact that in every case the fans immediately recanted their boos and even welcomed ol' Robbie Cano back to New York and uses it as evidence that to boo demonstrates a depraved morality. For me, however, the problem isn't that these individuals booed, but rather that they went on to take back their boo. To be ashamed of it. To even apologize for it. This is the moment where I see a lack of moral fiber. Each and every one of them lacked the moral integrity to stand up for their boo.

See, the boo was and is and will be warranted. Robinson Cano abandoned the Yankees. He abandoned the team. He abandoned the organization. And most importantly, he abandoned us, the fans. (It's most important because that's the group I identify with, so naturally it's most important.) Now I'm obviously not Robinson Cano, so I don't know what all actually played into his making the decision to go play in Seattle. Maybe he wanted to live in a place where he could go lick the Space Needle any time he wanted. Maybe he wanted to be closer to Canada. Maybe he secretly wishes he were a Goonie. Maybe he hates sunshine. Who really knows? The narrative that we've been fed by the media tells us that he left because, as Brian Johnson and the Young brothers would have us know, Moneytalks. But in all reality, it doesn't matter what his motivation was, because ultimately, he abandoned us.

Now before you get all upset at me for making the Yankees out to be the victims (the Yankees-as-villains opinion is much more acceptable currently), let me say that Yankees fans, and I count myself among that number, have feelings too. Robinson Cano was primed to be the face of the organization going forward. With Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera all having retired in the last couple years, and with Derek Jeter set to retire at the end of this season, the old guard is all but gone away. It's time to give the reins to the next in line. Robbie was going to be that guy. We all knew it. He was the next Jeter. In a time when the Yankees have made some widely despised moves to buy away star players from other teams, a tendency that I've always had mixed feelings about, Cano was the exception to all that. He was guy that made his way up through the ranks. He started his career with the Yankees, and he was going to follow in Jeter's footsteps to eventually die in pinstripes. But then he left. He just left. It was almost like if John Stockton in his prime had decided that he could do better than the Jazz, and left. Okay, that's not a fair comparison. Mostly because there does not exist a fair comparison to John Stockton. Not now, not ever. At least not in this little boy's heart.

But anyway, back to Robinson Cano. So you can see that from the perspective of a true Yankee fan, a boo is warranted. Now let me qualify that boo. I will always be a fan of Robinson Cano. He seems like a good dude. He represented the pinstripes as well as any, and I hope he finds success. (It's easy to have this perspective because he's playing in Seattle. If he were playing in Atlanta or Boston or St. Louis it might be different. But he's not, so I don't have to worry about it.) That said, I want a way to express my displeasure at his departure. I want an avenue to let him know that I'm disappointed that he abandoned what was to be his and our future. But he abandoned that future, and he sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. And I want to let him know that that is how I perceive the situation. These feelings are perfectly rational, and the boo is the widely accepted means of expressing them. In this instance it's not intended to demean or dehumanize, but rather to communicate displeasure. Now, I'll readily admit the fact that some fans do get too carried away with their boos, and it can become a very ugly gesture, but it isn't intrinsically so.

But given the chance to actually let Robinson know how we feel at his abandonment, not one of those fans stood up for himself. Not one had the guts to stare into the bright lights of Cano's celebrity and hold true to his conviction that what Cano did was wrong. I wish that just one of these fans would have had the backbone and moral integrity to look directly into Robinson Cano's eyes and said, "Look, I love you man, but I don't apologize for my boo. When you left the Bronx I was upset. And I want you to know that I was upset. You cut me deep, Robbie. You cut me real deep."

Maybe some day, he'll see the error of his ways and come back to the fold. Because let's face it, he'll never look so good as he does right here:

But until he does, the boos will be warranted. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

What About Love? (as in, I'm referencing the Heart song, not flinging an existential question out to the universe)

I've been listening to 80s lady rock all morning as I'm TCB. And by TCB, I of course mean this:

Anyway, I've come to the decision that I think I was an 80s lady rocker in another life. Except I don't actually believe in "other lives" and all that jazz, but if I believed in that kind of thing, and if my life didn't intersect with pretty much all 80s lady rockers, (making it pretty much impossible for me to have lived my 80s lady rocker life and still get done in time for me to start my current one), then I would think that. That's the only reasonable explanation. Because, well here, listen to these first, then we can talk:

What About Love? - Heart

Pat Benatar - Hit Me with Your Best Shot

Goodbye To You - Patty Smyth

Edge of Seventeen - Stevie Nicks

EG Daily - Better Off Dead (I went with the scene from the movie on this one. If that bugs you, sorry.)

Holding Out for a Hero - Bonnie Tyler 

Ok sorry, that was the wrong video. But it's from a fantastic movie that you should see if you haven't. But here it is for real:

I say it's the only reasonable explanation because there's something about these songs (and many others like them) that just resonates within me. But see, it just doesn't make sense with my current life. They're all singing about love lost and/or forsaken and/or longed for, and I don't really identify with that message. So the only reasonable explanation is that this was me in another life


At least I didn't think I identified with these songs.


As I'm writing this I'm forced to wonder if maybe I do identify with that message of longing for love. Maybe my music taste is trying to tell me something about my subconscious Petrarch-esque desires for love. 

Then again, this song has been stuck in my head off an on for the past several weeks and I have no idea what it's even about:

I know, it's not lady rock, but it's awesome. I don't understand it at all, but it's awesome. And nothing like the lady rock discussed earlier. All I really need to know is that at around the 3 minute mark when they hit the key change, drop everything but the drums, and start clapping something inside of me leaps for joy. Like, the pure joy of Rocky jumping around in the ocean to celebrate beating Apollo Creed in a race kind of leaps. 

So maybe the real moral of the story here is just that 80s music is the best and we can leave it at that. It's the music of my soul. Okay, I think I say that kind of thing a lot. So instead let me say that, at very least, it's the music of of my Monday morning, rainy spring day soul.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

On Significance (but I talk about a bunch of other things before I really get there)

What with it being national poetry month and all I've recently been reading poetry more than I usually do. I guess, now that I think about it, any poetry reading I do is more than I usually do, because I usually don't do any. I mean, I guess I read the odd poem every now and again, and I do keep a book of John Donne's poems on the table by my bedside, because a couple of months ago I was reading them before I went to sleep, and since then I never put the book back on the bookshelf, so it has just been sitting there on the table by my bed, which I guess if someone were to see that there's a book of poetry by my bedside they'd think that I was some kind of classy dude that reads so much poetry that he even reads poetry in bed, but I'm not that classy dude because I don't really read poetry all that often and not in bed either, except for that one time a couple months ago which led to the book being there in the first place, but like I said that one time is not the usual, not by a long shot. But now I've gotten off track of what I was starting off saying, which was this: I've been reading a fair bit of poetry the past couple of days.

Now I've never been any great shakes at writing poetry. I've tried my hand at it a time or two, but I inevitably come away thoroughly dissatisfied with my inability to really string the right words together. I think because I've never been able to write the poetry I wish I could write, I appreciate all the more when people can do it. Which leads me to this morning.

This morning I read a poem by W.H. Auden entitled "Musée des Beaux Arts" which describes Pieter Breughel the Elder's painting "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus":

Now if you don't go read the poem that I linked above, the rest of what I'm writing isn't going to make much sense, so go read it. I mean, it might not make much sense even if you do read it, but really you should go read it. I mean, it's only like 20 lines long; it's not going to take much of your time. Plus it is national poetry month, after all.

While in the past I'd read William Carlos Williams' take on this painting, I hadn't ever read Auden's. I'm glad I did, because I feel like Auden portrayed really well the idea that the significant things of life are, in fact, thoroughly insignificant to pretty much everyone else. I mean, look at the birth of Christ. Millions of people celebrate it every year, but pretty much everyone else around at the time didn't even know it was happening. Consider average Joe Bethlehem-ite. He probably got out of Bethlehem just as fast as he could after he graduated. He wanted to shake the dust of this crummy old town off his feet and he was gonna see the world. And in his adventures he met a nice girl and they were married. And now he and his wife and their two kids have settled down in the suburbs of Jerusalem and he's running a thriving sandal shop and they recently bought a second camel and life is just grand. And then out of the blue there's this decree from Caesar that he has truck his whole family back to Bethlehem where there aren't even any nice places to stay, and they definitely aren't going to stay with his parents (they never approved of his wife). And all for some lousy census. And so they travel all the way to Bethlehem and he's all chapped because, I mean, couldn't he have just sent a letter to the local government official in charge of Bethlehem and said, "Hey there. I'm married now, and I have 2 kids. Thanks for counting us." But no, instead he had to close his shop and take a few days off of work and travel all this way with his family in tow, and he definitely wouldn't be getting any work done because of the ruckus his kids are making. And after all this, what happens? Some old Roman government dude says, "Alright, I see you're married and you have 2 kids. Very well, you may go now." The government just worked so much better back when Reaganus Caesar was in charge. The economy was better, and the government was smaller and not as intrusive. And while our friend here is all hot and bothered about the government and this lousy census, Jesus Christ, Savior of all mankind is born in the trough the camels are eating out of. Talk about the seeming insignificance of significant events.

Clearly there are exceptions to this. The one I kept coming back to this morning was the time there was that royal wedding that the whole world seemed to tune in for. (Yeah, that sentence ended with two prepositions. Eat it pedants.) But for every royal wedding there are numerous significant events that happen all around us every day that are utterly life-changing to the people experiencing them, and we just go on living our lives completely unaware. Obviously the birth of the Son of God or a flight through and subsequent fall from the sky on melted wings are extreme on the spectrum of significance, but there are things that we all experience that, while not quite as significant as those, have real significance on who we are and how we see and experience the world. And through most of these things, the world takes little note. It's kind of a sad thought. 

I kept thinking about this as I got ready this morning, and it was still in the back of my mind as I was walking to school humming/singing "King of Pain" to myself. (I hummed the bits I didn't know the words to.) As I was about to cross the bridge over the Wabash River, which was particularly swollen after the torrential rain we had all night and this morning, I noticed a mourning dove sitting on a branch some 15-20 feet from where I was standing. I paused for a minute and stood there just kind of staring at it. As I did, it began to make that distinctive noise that mourning doves make. It's the noise that, as a little kid, I thought came from a rare diurnal owl that lived in the Jones' Chinese elm trees next door. So whenever I heard it I'd run over to the fence separating our field from their property and stare intently into their trees hoping to catch a glimpse. But I never did see it. Because it wasn't an owl making the noise. It was a mourning dove. Though I never did see a mourning dove either. Maybe I didn't see the mourning dove because I was too busy looking for an owl. But that's another issue altogether.

Anyway, I stood on the bridge this morning watching and listening as that drab little bird cooed to its heart's content, and as I did I looked out over the river through the tree branches laden with little red buds, some of which are starting to pop open with vaguely pink blossoms, and it really hit me that spring is upon us. The world isn't all that green yet, and it did snow last week, but all the same, looking out over that little portion of the natural world filled me with that hope and joy that is rare to the advent of spring. I considered taking a picture to capture the moment, but I decided that it would only detract from the serene beauty of it all. So I didn't.

That joy and hope felt significant to me, yet I was the only one experiencing its significance. Eventually I had to break the reverie and continue the walk to campus, but since then I've decided that maybe it isn't always good for there to be a huge crowd witnessing the significant moments. Maybe sometimes it's that very solitude that breeds significance. I don't know if I can make any vast generalization about anything here, but at the very least I have decided that poetry + Jesus + British royalty + The Police + rain + mourning doves + spring = the kind of significance best enjoyed solo.