Divertissements for performing bears
The title of this post is the song title of another provocatively-titled entity (or problematically-titled entity, depending on whom you ask), 3 Leg Torso, a band I saw perform tonight. I've never been good at describing genres, but I'll call it a mashup of Klezmer/Chamber/Gypsy/Circus/Carnival/(see, this is why I don't write music reviews). The point is, it was one of the best shows I've seen in years. My mouth hurt afterwards because I had a perpetual smile through almost the whole show. Equally impressive was the opener, Fish Tank Ensemble. Please check them both out.
Earlier in the day, I let my friend Ben convince me to accompany him to a professional basketball game between the Portland Trailblazers and the San Antonio Spurs.
Allow me to set the stage (even though really, you had to be there to understand)...
Beer slingers selling Budweisers for $8 a bottle. Canons pelting crappy Hanes t-shirts into the crowd of screaming and eager fans! People jumping up and down in genuine excitement because they'd just won a burger from Burger King! A jumbotron (I think that's what those ginormous TVs are called?) with endlessly flashing graphics and a digital neon ring that encircled the stadium simultaneously displaying moving, rotating ads. Women with tiny bodies in tiny outfits passing out inflatable plastic "thunder sticks" to everyone in the crowd, so that San Antonio Spurs players shooting free throws might be distracted by the sight of hundreds of people banging them together.
I'm sorry, what?
I was willing to consider that my dorky Minnesota Nice ways were getting in the way of things, but no, I'm sorry, my conclusion remains that the thunder stick distraction thing is mean-spirited, whether it works or not. I'm still a little hung up on it. My own thunder sticks are sitting on my chair at home (yes, I admit I took them home with me; somehow I thought I'd find a subversive use for them; still thinking...), and my cat walks around them suspiciously.
Anyway. My personal two favorite moments of horror:
The hundreds of people who whipped out their Wells Fargo bank cards when the Wells Fargo corporate sponsorship logo flashed across the Jumbotron so that they could be captured on camera with their bank cards.
And the little kid who nearly knocked us over on his beeline to the man with a giant video camera, clearly so excited at the possibility of being on TV—as Ben put it, "somewhere, anywhere"—that the rest of the world clearly disappeared from his consciousness.
Anyway, were it not for the brilliance and incisiveness of political/sports writer Dave Zirin, I wouldn't be able to stomach things like this. If you'e not familiar with Dave Zirin, please please please read his books—What's My Name Fool: Sports and resistance in the US, and Welcome to the Terrordome: The pain, promise, and politics of sports.
Regardless of your interest (or lack thereof) in sports, he gives hope to the idea of meaningful social change through an analysis of the politics of sports. Brilliant.
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