Monday, May 10, 2010

kicking and screaming

While reading Jonathan Wilson's preemptively declared excellent 'Inverting the Pyramid,' a history of tactics in world soccer, I ran into this paragraph:

The dispute, strangely, was not over the use of the hand, but over hacking - that is, whether kicking opponents in the shins should be allowed. F.W. Campbell of Blackheath was very much in favour. 'If you do away with [hacking],' he said, 'you will do away with all the courage and pluck of the game, and I will be bound to bring over a lot of Frenchmen who would beat you with a week's practice.' Sport, he appears to have felt, was about pain, brutality and manliness; without that, if it actually came down to skill, any old foreigner might be able to win.


Some context is needed. The dispute in question was over the initial rules in the game of soccer... namely, how to use the offside rule. However, as Wilson found peculiar, the real argument ended up being whether or not kicking other players should be allowed.

This sounds silly now, especially considering this event occurred roughly in 1860 or 1870... but is it really?

Kicking seems really petulant, but in a sport where the foot is the weapon of choice, kicking would've been considered the logical method of physical play. The NFL has the tackle, as wrapping up your arms around the ball carrier is allowed... the NHL has the armless body-check... NBA has it's pick... so, soccer would've had it's kick.

What reason was there for physicality in soccer? Well, let's return to Mr. Blackheath and requote:

'you will do away with all the courage and pluck of the game, and I will be bound to bring over a lot of Frenchmen who would beat you with a week's practice.'


So the pussies can't win... and the French were the ultimate pussies in 19th century England. The more things change...

So, as the thoughts of the time put it, anyone can learn to kick a ball, but we can separate the real men (the winners) from the pussies (the losers) via physical dominance manifested in the form of kicking a dude.

Fastforward a century and a half...

We live in a sporting society and in this society various masculine traits centered around a tolerance for pain and a penchant to inflict it are often coveted above skill and and ingenuity. It's better to physically batter your opponent into submission.

Case in point, the NHL playoffs... whereas, in the regular season, a premium is placed on calling relatively minor infractions and settling games with a pseudo-skills competition, the playoffs are another beast... the physicality is ratcheted up to 11 while the penalties drop by a similar margin.

It becomes more war of attrition... gameplans revolve around physically destroying the competition and grinding out a championship. Skill is a necessity... you won't win without the skill, but you won't win without your share of physical muck and grinders.

In reality, professional team sport is a mix of a physical grind and a skills show... to assume it is one way or the other is negligent.

Soccer found it's own ways to add physicality to the game regardless of kicking. Watch how slide tackles are followed through in professional matches, where elbows go during headers and basically everything that occurs during corner kicks... which are, as in the NHL, NFL, etc., let go in honor of fairness... the fairness of allowing each team to bend the rules and hurt each other as much as possible.

All ending in a circle. People are as they were. The English placed importance on physical brutality in sport a hundred-fifty years ago... well, they still do now. Surprise, surprise.

But that, in itself is unique: when facing attempted revolution in the particular game... an attempted way of modifying the thinking approaching this game, we find ways to circle back around and make sure that even though we left point A, we can still find our way back to it shortly after.

If there's a will, there's a way.

And nothings better than seeing some pussy get what's coming to him.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

tom chrout

Tom Chrout is a good man.
Tom Chrout works a steady job with a steady income.
Tom Chrout is a good family man.
Tom Chrout loves families so much that he's on his third.
Tom Chrout cleans his plate at dinner; there are starving kids in Africa, so he shouldn't take his excess for granted.
Tom Chrout only flirts with his secretary on occasion and fucks her even less frequently.
Tom Chrout pays his bills on time because he's a good man.
Tom Chrout gives to charities that are tax deductible.
Tom Chrout goes to church on Sundays because that is what good people do; he tells all of his friends that he goes to church and believes the word of God.
Tom Chrout prays for American soldiers and cares about American lives.
"Bring our boys back home," Tom Chrout whispers quietly to God.
Tom Chrout saw that a car bombing killed an American soldier and 15 Iraqis yesterday.
Tom Chrout wept and made time to pray for that American soldier and his American family.

"God bless America," Tom Chrout says.
"God bless you, Tom Chrout" God says.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

repetition

Passion Pit has been my passion for the past week. Synth? Check. Keyboard? Check. Guitar? Check. Bass? Check. Drums? Check. Excellent? Check.

It's amazing how many times I can go through one set of 11 songs taking up just about 45 minutes... over... and over... and over. It's great music and one of the most painful moments in recent memory, if only for a brief moment, was realizing I missed seeing them live by about a day.

My room is faintly lit by a lamp, tilted slightly to the ground as I sit in my bed, typing. To my right is the bouncing silhouette of my body, earphones placed firmly on my head as the opening track "Make Light" plays in the background, Michael Angelakos' youthful falsetto wailing with the electronic symphony of beats and samples.

I made a point to check out some of Passion Pit's live performances on YouTube earlier today. Hearing "Sleepyhead" in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Chicago, the festival circuit... Angelakos' falsetto hitting moments of brilliance and bedraggled depending on the day.

Once I write this, it will be written. Occasionally read, if I'm lucky, and rarely recited. My blessing.

But as a musician, how does one cope with the repetition? Angelakos' library consists of that single full length LP of 11 tracks and an EP containing mostly cross-over tracks. Okay, so "Sleepyhead" is first on the set list on Tuesday and now, let's make it seventh on Wednesday?

Or, once you've reached that peak, does the love and adoration of a fanbase, all focused on your talent and ability, make the feeling never get old despite the fact that all you are doing with every new performance is rehashing something old. For the fan? New.

For you? Old. Practice. Practice. Practice. Play. Repeat. Practice. Practice. Practice. Play. Repeat.

Or do you keep that fresh feeling?

Waking up a block from the ocean, smelling that thick, salty breeze every day of the week... soaking up the rays, one thinks and then utters: "I am alive."

Is that the feeling?

Or maybe, as life, it's all a repetition, no matter how talented and creative we are?

Wake up. Eat. Go to work. Eat. Go Home. Eat. Sleep.

Get off the bus. Unload. Mic Check. "Sleepyhead." Encore. Reload. Get on the bus.

Conception. Get off the bus. Adolescence. Adulthood. The inevitable decline. Get on the bus.

Friday, October 9, 2009

the nature of authenticity

I became a Deftones fan in high school... I want to say around 10th or 11th grade. I really liked the single "Change (In the House of Flies)and bought the CD it was featured on, "White Pony." The CD was hit-and-miss, but I liked it overall on the strength of it's better songs.

So, I considered myself a fan based off of these songs and began my considerable Deftones knowledge-gathering expedition. Where I now rely upon Wikipedia to quickly gather information on things that interest me, at that time I simply scoured the internet for whatever "Deftones" links popped up on Yahoo!

During my travels, I landed upon the Deftones OFFICIAL message board (not to be confused with all of those inferior unofficial ones). Reading through threads, I ran into the rant of a pissed off fan who said (near exact quote but, remember, this is 10 years ago):

I can't fucking stand all of these White Pony fans now that they're big on the radio. They don't know anything about the old shit, they're all just jumping on the bandwagon.

"FUCK THAT," I thought in my mind, with the caps lock clearly on. Whenever I'm a fan of something, I'm a REAL fan. I liked the Penguins when they sucked. I hate mainstream things... I'm totally independent in my likes and dislikes.

So, to prove how I didn't need to like what other people like and scour for other people's approvals, I went to the store and bought the two previous Deftones CDs that I hadn't heard. NOW I had their entire catalog and I was a REAL fan, just like that guy was talking about on the message board.

For the approval of some guy I don't know on a message board... in some digital pissing contest where I could prove that my stream was strong enough to stay on the boat.

I never talked to him again... as a matter of fact, I never talked to him, I merely read his post... but I'm glad that I was able to prove him wrong.

Ten years later, I still remember this event. Isn't it funny how fickle and proud we all are?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

manifest destiny

If you know me, you know that I recently to San Diego... if you didn't, now you know.

Awesome, we're all up to speed.

I took a non-traditional route to reach the left coast, seeing relatives in Dallas for a couple weeks before making the final two-day drive.

The most amazing part of the trip was an exquisitely timed drive through El Paso.

I had been driving for about 9-10 hours through the incredibly barren terrain of west Texas... not as barren as New Mexico and Arizona, especially Arizona, were, but full of ghost towns, oil refineries, rocks, and dust.

It wasn't boring, it was refreshing to see... I've been used to the topography of Pennsylvania, meaning an assload of hills and dilapidated roads, so it's nice to see something new with your own eyes for the first time.

That was essentially the point of the trip and why this portion of the trip was so special.

So, I'm approaching El Paso as the the sun begins to dip... off shades of orange and purple begin to fill the sky as the whispers of faint clouds still linger a bit, kind of like when you throw a little bit of fruit flavor into an ice cream or yogurt... just kind of trailing off, getting lost in the scheme of things.

Suddenly, over the horizon, I saw El Paso... totally breathtaking. Tiny little dots of light littering the landscape made up the whole of the horizon.

Just little dots of light splashing against a vibrant sky and overtly barren landscape was an amazing sight to behold... it totally took my breath away.

I texted everyone I knew, going off about how amazing it was. Unfortunately, I was too overwhelmed by the sudden influx of traffic to really take any good pictures... but the picture is still in my mind.

Those are the best times... the moments where human creation and ingenuity intersect with nature and create something unique and vibrant.

Completely unforgettable.

Friday, June 12, 2009

what i want to do.

i want to write like the mutated bastard child of jello biafra and kurt vonnegut a week into a bender after deciding to try speed.

that's what i want to do.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

ethos

It may be beneficial for me to flesh out a basic ethos. At this point in life, I'm not sure if I avoid making a stand particular because of a lack in clarity over a situation or simply fear of commitment. But simply fleshing out what I actually hold to be true could help sort my mind.

Fundamental rights and truths:

I believe in the fundamental right of equality.
Let us pretend, for a moment, that the arguments of eugenicists hold merit. That certain races and interbreeding can lead to diluted blood that has less potential than some other mixes, or lack there-of, of some other race.

Okay. And? Is this the best way to find the greatest, most efficient and effective society? By limiting the rights and abilities of others who you have a preconceived notion of being inferior? Perhaps 99 out of 100 of the maligned caste is a waste. But that one is a beautiful thing.

So you have to give everyone every chance that they can possibly have to succeed. Those who fail, fail. Those who succeed are rewarded. This is how it should be, regardless of race, sex, or personal belief. I will fight for this until the day that I die. It will not be solved in my lifetime, it will not be solved in any lifetime. But I will fight like hell for your right to ruin your own life in whatever way you see fit, no strings attached. And, when you don't fail, we'll celebrate.

I believe in the fundamental ability of choice that was bestowed upon me at birth. All that I am and all that I do is of my own choice, my own free will. An atheist who I take great pride in calling a friend likes to say “no gods, no masters.” I am not an atheist, but I like this. In the end, I am responsible for my decisions and I hold myself accountable.

We all go through a certain amount of programming as we mature. Much of our belief and ethic structures are derived from our upbringings. That's everything from our parents, family, friends, neighbors, climate, teachers, textbooks, etc. We are creatures of our own culture.

In the end, however, the only person that I can claim responsibility over is me, myself, and I. Whatever god created us, he left it for us to dictate our own lives and to survive in our own ways. Calvinist I am not; Deist I am not; call me a realist idealist.

God may be good, god may be great, god may be dead. Who knows... what I do know is that it's up to me to do my best and do what's right on my own without relying on guidance to create a proper moral code.

The power of prayer is over the mind. It gives one incredible self-belief. If there's a god, that being gave us the ability to govern, empower, and convince our selves to do anything.

When my grandmother cooks me a delicious meal, I thank her. She thanks god, but I thank her because I know she was able to do it on her own without help from anyone else.

What if god said to hate Latinos? That they were the least of his creations and should be looked down upon and excluded from society whenever possible. Would you do it? Would that decree make bigotry just and good?

What if there was someone telling me something that god believed and that I must do this or I will burn in hell and suffer eternal damnation? Am I to believe that person? Am I to marginalize a homosexual because someone claims the Bible gives them the right to do so? At one point, the Bible was used to justify slavery. But abolitionists knew what was right and just on their own. That is our task with every free, fresh, and pure wisp of air that passes through our lungs.

I believe in fundamental right to distrust those in power and believe in the power that distrust provides the people. Your status, your suit, your possession, your dollars mean nothing to me. Am I to trust you with my life based on how well your suit fits? Trust you with my brother's life? My sister's? Not even in the face of Armageddon will I sacrifice my cynicism.

I develop trust through personal interaction and evaluation. How can I trust a member of an institution who holds a firm belief in that institution and has consistently used that institution to rape and pillage? An institution that is easily able to exclude members due to their lack of monetary means, deeply ingrained racial and sexual biases and via simple fear mongering? Certainly there are exceptions... but exceptions are never the rule.

Distrust of government is an essential right and belief. Distrusting government forces the machine to start up. It's cogs must grind. Once the banal patriotism and jingoistic assaults that it instinctively fires at my mind are casually swatted away like the intellectual insects that they are, the machine is forced to produce a useful product: an answer.

You tell me you are a good guy. I'm sorry sir, but I believe I'll need a little more than that. What do I need? Facts. Produce them.

I believe in the fundamental flaw in and of the hereditary elite. Once again, your possession means nothing to me. A man of meager means born into meager means who dies a man of meager means means more to me than a man who means to grease the gears of the machine so that it's many machinations continue to produce his power.

Property? Nothing.
Pedigree? Nothing.
Dollars? Nothing.
Cents? Nothing.
Sense? Something.

I'm going to make you prove how important you are. Dressing up nice to play CEO or politician doesn't make me respect you. What makes me respect you is your mind. The decisions that are decided within it, the actions that are acted-upon because of it, the dreams that are defiantly dreamed within it's corridors.

Decide to act upon those dreams in defiance of those who dare to piss upon you with their power. There's the elite. You're not born with it. You can't ever touch or possess it. You can't hand it to someone. But, maybe, you can become it. It's hard to realize when you have reached that pinnacle. You're not suddenly on the Fortune 500 list or invited to the little elite gatherings between those sweetheart elitists who think their money can solve the problems of the world.

They're busy being the problem. The real elite are the ones preparing a solution to their self-masturbation.

There's more to be said, more to be written. This is just a start. I pray I never finish.

Friday, June 5, 2009

take a moment to question my belief in humanity

I currently work as a canvasser. It's a temporary job that provides temporary solutions to persistent problems. I have some ethical issues with the process, but I know that, on the whole, I'm doing more good than harm.

Yesterday we finished up a short campaign working on behalf of Save The Children, a non-profit aid and relief organization for children around the world. Amazing cause and one I assumed people could easily rally around.

One assumes that until they get (real) responses like,

"Just move'em all north and that'll fix it."

"I can't take a minute for a starving child because I'm hungry for lunch."

"Sorry, I'm just here to buy myself a gift for my birthday."

"Oh no, I thought you said DOGS. I only donate to charities that support dogs, not children."

etc.

Now, I have no problem with a person not getting involved. People can get blindsided by a random person asking them to "take a minute for a starving child." I can deal with people not stopping if they're in a rush, they feel a little ambushed, or are just sincere in not being able to do it at the moment. No problem.

But, then you get some sweethearts like I got on my first day representing the cause:

"Ma'am, can you take a minute for a starving child?"

"Do you believe in abortion?"

"...what?"

"Do you believe in abortion?"

"Well, I'm here on behalf of Save the Children and our sole concern is..."

"No, not Save the Children. YOU. Do YOU believe in abortion?"

...ummm....

"I'm not sure if that's relevant, but, in a situation personally involving me I'd do my best to keep the child." (I'm pretty pro-choice. It's an honest response, but maybe it's a cop out.)

"Okay. If you had said you did, I'd have walked away. Let me see what you have."

As I'm about to start explaining everything to her, I turn my head to a a graphic sheet of paper I have in-hand and, as I turn to look back up at her after that four-five second span, she shoves .87 cents in my hand and quickly leaves.

The minimum we can accept is $5. We were looking for Child Sponsors but, in the end, whatever donations are given help.

But... we can't accept change. I would've told her this, but she was long gone before I could fully comprehend the ambush.

I told my coworker I needed to take a break because, in fact, I did. I thought about the whole thing, called my dad, sat in thought... it just irked me that the first thought out of someone's mind when someone asks to save a child is to go after abortion.

I realize the connotation of such a statement, but I can't comprehend someone's mind just leaping to the abortion argument like that.

So, I didn't know what to do... I only knew that I wanted to spite this woman. Someway, somehow, she couldn't win.

I finally decided on donating the $.87 to Planned Parenthood. I haven't gotten to it yet, but the money is sitting on my desk, waiting to be turned into a money order and provided as a symbolic donation with a letter as to why someone would give such a shoddy donation.

Spiting her with dishonesty and deception is the very least I could do.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

he's been watching you for 25 years now

Okay, so Obama's a pseudo-Socialist. But is he really?

Forgive me in advance for lack of statistical analysis or concrete opinion, this is all reflection and introspection. Self-admittedly, I am not a genius with economics... but I'm comfortable with basic principles in economic competition.

I started talking with a friend about this who is a self-identified Leninist. If you know my group of friends you obviously know who this is.

I brought up the (essentially) nationalization of General Motors and asked if she considered it a victory.

Not at all, she said. The ruling class was still in power. The workers don't own the means of production, it's still with a wealth-owned and driven government.

Point taken and a valid point at that.

Since the nationalization isn't doing anything to help the workers (in fact, it's using funds from workers to keep a failing institution afloat) it's against the basic tenets of socialism or communism.

So what is it? That's the question. With that, I'm not sure if I have the answer. Maybe I do.

Obama says that he doesn't intend to keep control for long. We shall see. One thing it does allow is the government to have more power.

America's most storied automobile manufacturer is now owned by the government while the bank and housing systems are incredibly indebted. In the process, central becomes more necessary and useful.

Are jobs being saved? No. Most of these places are still hemorrhaging and jobs are being grated away.

Employment opportunities, however, are being created by the government. There's approximately 46,000+ available at the time of this posting.

So, workers are leaving the private sector for the government. It becomes stronger, increases.

What are we looking at here? Is it really a movement towards socialism? Is everything being brought together for the benefit of the whole? Or is the biggest business in the world becoming bigger?

Is it that easy to let words like socialism be thrown about as scare words when what's actually going is potentially much more vivid and focused?

No answers here, just a meditation leaving further questions to be answered.
And nothing will change in the immediate future.
But pay attention.

Keep on thinking.

Thought keeps current events and our history in proper context.

So, the only conclusion I have is to think. When something like this happens don't react... act.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A note about experience.

Just because someone is old, doesn't mean they're right.
Just because someone is dead, doesn't mean they're right.

A lot of people got a lot of things wrong in the 18th century.
 
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