Fashion (Turn to the Left!)

December 7, 2007

As a fan of four-year lettermen from solid midwestern universities where continental philosophy is surely not on the syllabi, I’ve always supported that symbolic exemplar of alliteration, the Machiavelli of marksman, Kyle Korver. Based on “values” alone, he probably would have been lbj.jpgmy first choice in the 2003 draft (yet another reason why neither Deconstruction nor post-Colonialism have any place in NBA front offices). But even I can admit that LeBron James should have gone first in the 2003 fashion festivities. From draft night on, when LeBron wore all white whilst everyone else went conservative, LeBron James has led the pack of NBA dressers.

But not everyone is in agreement on the matter of Mr. James’ fashion sense. His decision to wear a Yankees cap to game one of the New York-Cleveland ALDS caused quite the uproar around the blogosphere, even reaching the hallowed pages rss of Esquire (though the author took the “betrayed fan” angle, and did not provide style commentary). But the most egregious of all this sartorial player hating is this claim that LeBron James is a poor dresser. As our fellow wordpress blogger put it, “Heal fast, Lebron. If you had to dig in your closet for that velour mess after only 2 games, I’d hate to see what you show up in next.” [see the photo at right.]

I actually attended the game in question, and, courtesy of devoted reader Jennifer (she thought she was taking ibiteyoureyes), I had seats right by the Cleveland bench, perfect for viewing the injured Mr. James hobble past. In person, LeBron’s jacket was spellbinding, the gold buttons radiant. ( It also appeared to be more suede than velour as cited in the report. ) I wasn’t the only one transfixed by James’ attire; several fans shouted out non-ironic words of encouragement, and the ever stylish Jennifer also loved the jacket. Of course, I’m hardly the first to notice the difference between first-hand experiences and photographic representations. Indeed, the world would probably be a better place if fashion bloggers everywhere read Benjamin’s “Little History of Photography” and “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (full text!) before jumping to ever snarkier conclusions.

And for those who like their sports commentary with even more literary analyses than Free Darko provides, consider In Praise of Athletic Beauty by Hans Ulrech Gumbrecht. This quote sums up his central argument quite nicely:

His central thesis, to round it out a little crudely, is that we watch sports not out of identification with the players but out of a kind of happy absorption in someone else’s ability…In other words, when we watch Joe Namath or Chad Pennington or even Eli complete a pass what we feel isn’t pathetic and vicarious but generous and authentic: we give up a bit of ourselves in order to admire another. [source]

The real fun isn’t to be found in Gumbrecht’s argument, but his excellent readings of sports and literature and his bizarre epigram thanking the Stanford Cardinal Football team, 197?-2048. Prophecies of the end abound!

I felt the need to elevate this comment on Haverstam’s most recent dispatch to a post — as I have yet to write anything dealing with such pertinent matters as “Heroes Season Three,” I’ll make due with a posting that is tangentially about the sublime “30 Rock.”

The sketch is pretty funny, along the lines of the other fake commercials that the show has featured in the last 10+ years (e.g. Three-legged Jeans, Gatorade Cookie-Dough Sport, KCF coleslaw shredder, and of course, Schmitt’s Gay). What’s notable is that these bits have often been much funnier than the “live” material on the show… while similar ‘commercials’ in the 70s (Super Bass-O-Matic, Creely’s Soup, Adopt John Belushi for Christmas) weren’t pre-recorded.

So too, there’s been a fair gnashing of teeth about how few of the modern SNL repertory players have gone on to have careers after leaving the show (case in point, Jimmy Fallon). However, the success of Will Ferrell in branching out beyond his SNL persona (occasionally), and Tina Fey’s ascendancy as the doyenne of comedy serve to bolster Haverstam’s point, I believe.

Taco Town, City on the Hill

December 7, 2007

Students of the history of religion in America are taught to be wary of the so-called “declension narrative”. When Perry Miller first initiated the study of the Puritans he reproduced that same group’s major myth. The founding generation, in the eyes of their descendants and their own were the New Israelites, exiled from their homeland in order to establish a city on the hill, a shining example for the misguided across the ocean. Having shown evidence of their election, the generations that followed often failed to give testimony to having been saved because of their inability to convince themselves and this great generation that they were worthy of God’s grace.

Many religious and political traditions have comparable narratives. In Judaism, every generation since the one privy to the Sinaitic revelation is said to be somehow lesser than the one previous (yeridat ha’dorot). Founding fathers always overshadow their progeny.

Nowhere is this the case more than with Saturday Night Live. The casts of the first few seasons are the stuff of legends. These casts of characters boasted such comedic talent all in one place and despite the occasional reprieve it’s been downhill ever since. Or so the story goes. But an honest assessment will show this to be poppycock. This is all by way of sharing this link which I just think is funny. Enjoy.