I Hate the Unplugged Version of ‘Layla’
So right now I’m listening to “The Cream of Clapton,” as I try to figure out what to do with my night; the choice in which matter will no doubt be going out to Denny’s to do a few logic puzzles, smoke a few cigarettes, drink some coffee and get absolutely no writing done. The place is simply not conducive to writing anymore. Thankfully, for the purposes of this website, I’ve got a couple of things socked away that I simply didn’t get around to posting as promptly as I would’ve hoped.
May 12, or maybe 13, or 11, somewhere around there, 2004
There’s a great story in today’s Sun-Times, totaling the twenty most painful memories of Chicago sports, in no particular order, from the Bartman Incident of Game 6 of last year’s NLCS to the 1919 Black Sox scandal. Some of these events I remember, such as seeing a handmade sign hanging off of a building near the Chicago Theatre in 1992 that said, “Mike McCaskey has no Ditka!” and then there were some that I’d never heard of, like the apparently infamous Steve Dahl Disco Explosion of 1979, whose ensuing riot caused the White Sox to forfeit the second game of a double-header.
And, while reading all of this, I found myself wondering just how much of this can be or has been elevated to that mythic level of status required for attaining massive pop-culture appeal. It’s highly unlikely that the Bartman Incident will ever make its way far outside of the borders of Cubdom, but sports events and personalities have certainly left indelible marks on American pop-culture, whether intentional or not. Mike Ditka was the basis for Saturday Night Live’s “Superfans” sketches, and the retelling of Carlton Fisk’s home run in Good Will Hunting, and the fact that Robin Williams’ character wasn’t at the game to see it, remains for me the high-point of the film. The Chicago Black Sox were the baseball players in Field of Dreams, and let’s not forget the movie Brian’s Song (only the James Caan and Billie Dee Williams version, the TV-movie blew ass). And, of course, all things Michael Jordan.
No doubt there’s a movie in the works that parodies that either parallels or parodies the Bartman Incident, and who knows when the Simpsons’ baseball team will come to Comiskey Park to have their first-base coach mauled by a drunken lunatic, as is becoming an annual event for the Kansas City Royals.
I don’t really see a problem with sports crossing into the realm of pop-culture. That’s just something that inevitably happens when something either horrifically bad or miraculously good occurs. It becomes a story that’s told from father to son, or maybe father to daughter, although probably not mother to son, because my mother never told me any sports stories except for the “whoosh” of the turbine-driven cars at Indy over forty years ago. But pop-culture isn’t supposed to cross over into sports (fuck the Mighty Ducks), which is why I’m glad that the Spider-Man 2 “let’s put Spidey on the bases!” ad-campaign crashed and burned after baseball fans rebelled. Major League Baseball claimed that they were going with the deal as a way of attracting kids to baseball. Let me tell you something: Kids don’t go to the ballpark to see Spider-Man. If they do, there’s something truly and seriously fucking wrong with your sport.
I mean, Spider-Man on the bases! What the fuck were they thinking? Of course, I haven’t been to a baseball game in over ten years, but that doesn’t make me any less of a purist. I’m disgusted by the digital superimposition of ads over the brick wall behind home-plate at Wrigley. More than that is my contempt for steroids in baseball, and even greater loathing for the Players’ Union for ignoring the issue. I’m telling you, things are going to change when I have my way and Bob Costas –the smartest man in sports- is named Commissioner of Major League Baseball.
*next time, Xenosaga and videogames that qualify as art*