Fear and Loathing After 9/11: In Dark Times, People Turn to Sports
(This story is intended to be an inspirational tale)
Has it been eight years already?
I realize that many of my articles have a tendency to be a form of gonzo history, in which I insert myself into the bigger picture of history.
That might be because my AP History teacher (as a senior in 2001) would always tell me to see, "the forest from the trees." Later that year, I could not help but notice a single dead tree within a forest along Old San Jose Road through the Santa Cruz Mountains.
I was in New York on September 1, 2001, which is when I took the included picture from the Liberty Island Ferry, a day that fundamentally shaped my outlook and actions on the future, when I was still coming of age at 18. It is also why I deferred from moving to NYC, and instead resolved to blogging.
While I have made myself a thorn in the side of some, it is only because I am an incorrigible asker of big questions, though I only do so to improve others, not denigrate. Yet, their response would be, "well, who are you to question me?" Guess what? I am an American, that's who.
(By the way, I am not trying to equate myself with Hunter S. Thompson, I merely boosted the term "Fear and Loathing," because I think it makes this article universally understandable. I prefer to focus on discovery, free thought, and free-association more than *originality* and rigid rules of form, when it comes to blogging. I write that knowing that I have become *rat-poison* to the "rats" in the corporate media).
V for Victory
The bigger picture is just the nature of blogging as media. Pros would like to assume that bloggers are nut-jobs, cranks, and trolls, when the corporate media has a share of their own with people like Jay Mariotti and Pete Prisco. I blog for the art of argument, fiction, and to see the big picture from legitimate news sources (AP, BBC, NYT, WSJ, WP, NPR, Newsweek, Time, and occasionally other sources).
I specify legitimate sources, because there are bloggers that conjure some odd things.
For instance, one blogger has surmised that there must be a conspiracy for if you divide 9/11 then the answer is the irrational number 0.81818181 (infinity). Thus, if you consider that the eighth letter of the alphabet is H and that the first letter is A, then 9/11 = hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha (infinity).
Some use blogging in order to assemble the news over the course of time, in order to show the big picture, which has a tendency to fall by the wayside in the mainstream media that must give priority to ratings and the news of the day, not how the news of the day relates to the news of yesterday.
At times, it does start to resemble the quixotic thought process of John Nash in A Beautiful Mind (2001). I realize that a statement like that would make people wonder if blogging is like playing with fire, and that it could lead a person to have imaginary friends (and enemies) and live in a make believe world (social networking?)
So in my abstract defense of a hypothetical offense, I must say that I do have a life outside of blogging. I go to clubs, I dance, and I have recently returned to school after a long battle with medical conditions.
Remember, Remember The 10th of September
People might scoff at the idea that I would have medical conditions, because I am in above-average shape. I was not always that way.
I used to be a fat schlub, nearsighted and with breathing problems and chronic infections, amongst other things. Often times, I'd wake-up gasping for air.
I say that not to complain, but to illustrate that I had plenty to legitimately complain about, and that I ultimately had to stop asking why and just try.
I figured, "Why lose weight, I'll still be nearsighted, I'll still have breathing problems?" September 11, 2001 however, motivated me to improve. Why?
I realized that I had dissipated as a teen, and that September 11 (three months after I graduated) was a wake-up call that I had taken things for granted. That, at any moment, someone could kill you or me for a reason that did not matter, because you or I would be dead regardless of the reason.
I asked: What good is liberty if you are dead, but what good is life if you have no liberty?
Thus, I started doing push-ups between video game levels, between commercials, and eventually, preferred the exercise. After a while, I developed an inner critic that went from the voice of a generic drill sergeant to Simon Cowell.
Some people wonder if the desire to lose weight is just running from your demons, rather than addressing them directly. I was just running from an inner voice that sounded like Cowell and called me a, "lousy maggot!" (I think I watched Full Metal Jacket too much...or not enough).
I guarantee though that if Simon Cowell made a motivational DVD of Cowell-isms, it would create better artists than the Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul DVD.
Ultimately, I would develop cataracts, and thanks to my insurance through The Home Depot, I was able to pay for the surgery that not only corrected the cataracts, but changed my vision so that I no longer wear glasses (except readers). The same insurance also repaired the conditions that I had developed as a teen.
(I have vented about employees of The Home Depot in previous blogs, but at the same time, if it was not for the hard-work I put in at HD stores in Watsonville and Liberty Lake, I would not have rectified those conditions. I am eternally grateful for the time I had there).
All in all, after September 11, I broke myself down and then built myself up
That is because sports are meant to inspire people to do great things, not resolve to be only a vicarious spectator.
Some people would like to believe that the only place to do great things is in sports, because that is the only place that "everyone" will care about it.
You can do great things within your communities and people will care, despite what Rudy Giuliani and Sarah "They Call Me Hockey Mom" Palin and even the Bengals fan, "Joe the Plumber," think about community organizers. (For some reason, "Joe the Plumber" has a politically quixotic sound to it, and makes me wonder if the GOP is just fighting windmills).
As Giuliani and Palin made clear at the GOP convention, community organizers are people to castigate and laugh at as worthless. In other words, Giuliani would like people to fear the events of September 11, 2001—but if you volunteer in order to inspire as a means to eviscerate fear induced by September 11, 2001, you’re a bum!
After 9/11, I was on the GOP bandwagon as Dennis Miller has been. After the 2008 election though, I saw their fork-tongued messages for what they really are.
After all, the "Thousand Points of Light" speech by former President George H.W. Bush was about community involvement, while former President Ronald Reagan would comment that the morality of the day would be the same as the morality of the future on far-away planets.
Funnily enough, the GOP’s sense of community involvement seemed to end with the year that coincides with the movie title 2001: A Space Odyssey, which is a movie that always reminds of the phrase, "Thousand points of light."
"Do You Know the Way to San Jose?"
Some people might ask, "Why waste valuable intellectual energy on a topic like sports?" My answer is simple, because the topic has no direct consequence in the real world.
If a team loses, it is not the end of the world (although, it can feel like it is).
Sports though can inculcate a reason to be motivated, which can affect the real world. Frankly, I think, "Just Win, Baby' is a far better maxim than, "Git-r-done," which has been adopted by the US Air Force.
In the year 2000 the Raiders began a three-year run for the Super Bowl. Yes, it is true, not just a spin on a Conan O'Brien joke.
In the year 1984, when the Raiders upset the Redskins to win the Super Bowl and Al Davis stated, "Just Win, Baby," I was only a baby.
I became motivated by the likes of Jon Gruden, Rich Gannon, Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, and Al Davis in the emotional aftermath of September 11.
All of whom were intense or tenacious and never gave-up even when the world thought they should. Nowadays, people generalize the accomplishments made by the aforementioned people to contend for the Super Bowl when they had been written off as over-the-hill or crazy.
Because people prefer to gravitate towards their perception of perfection and the Raiders did not represent the perception of perfection, and yet, they could defeat the teams that did represent the perception of perfection.
And after all these years, I may lean on some old familiar ways, but that tree in the Santa Cruz Mountains along Old San Jose Road is now alive and well.
Just win, baby.
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