Lookin’ swole, Star-Lord.
One time I asked one of my FULL COMMUNIST friends how the Marvel Cinematic Universe would exist in a FULL COMMUNIST society. He popped me across the mouth, hard, and said, “How dare you,” then he called me a garbage babyman and blasted the Soviet National Anthem on his cracked, three-generation-old iPhone as he walked away. Almost 67% of that story actually occurred, but you catch my drift.
I should have asked him how Marx would have viewed American Football, or how it would have sprung forth from the wheat fields of Eastern Europe, but that’s just a “fuck you” in the form of a fallacious question. Stalinism has nothing to do with Fully Automated Luxury Pansexual Polyamorous Space Communism, and the answer is we’d appropriate all the good things Capitalism has borne and leave the Wolf of Wall Street bullshit behind. There’s room for every interest on the holodecks of the USS Indefatigable-B.
Needless to say, I was thrilled to see the new Guardians of the Galaxy trailer. Baby Groot sure is cute, and it looks like Karen Gillan’s Nebula may be getting a slightly larger role. Way to go, Karen. Gina and I were forcefully shoved out of a photo area by Karen once. Imagine a slightly perturbed Scottish woman in place of Santa Claus in the scene from A Christmas Story where he face-boots Ralphie down the slide. At least I’m pretty sure it was Karen. I have a running theory that she has a stunt double stand in for her photo ops since she hates conventions so much.
The Stranger Things season two trailer elicited shrieks of joy, especially at the Ghostbuster costumes. I really hope they don’t screw this up, but I am probably most nostalgic about the 1983-1984 period of American pop culture history, so this is going to be my jam either way. I’ll get a chance to meet those kids in Texas at the end of March, and I plan on asking them if they’ve seen E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. I’m aware that, as kids, they have little to nothing to do with the direction of the show, but I want them to know how it makes me feel. Even though I was smaller than Gertie during the period they depict, I remember it clearly, and the atmosphere is correct. Thanks, guys. Sincerely.
Then, the blowout game from which the Patriots could never possibly recover paused for halftime, and the Queen flew down from the heavens. I am referring, of course, to Lady Gaga, whose talent rises above the obvious trappings of Capitalism. She’s at her best when she’s herself, sitting at a piano or pretending to half-play a guitar. When she sang the Sound of Music at the 87th Academy Awards, I sprang to my feet and wept like I’d seen the face of God. I may have been mildly intoxicated, but I refuse to believe it was anything other than divine.
I’m glad they didn’t have Tony Bennett chained to her ankle. I can’t stand the weird New Yawker she transforms into when she’s with him, because it isn’t her. She was free to do her thing last night, which was a less-weird medley of her hits since the beginning of her career. It was sanitized for general American consumption, with no edgy religious imagery or gross food and art supply related wardrobes. Still, her talent shone through, and praise be to Gaga they didn’t shoot Beyoncé’s double-pregnant-ass out of a trap door in the middle of “Telephone.”
I was half-hoping for some shitty provocative political message, but “Born This Way” was a subtle enough stand-in. Nah, she played it straight (no pun intended) and entertained, which is kinda her job, and scripted or not, I could sense some wonder on her part when she quickly paused to say hi to her mom and dad. I felt it too, as if I were witnessing something historic.
That is, until all the manbros on my Facebook feed started taking dumps all over her performance.
“ET” could probably be interpreted as a rage-misspelling of “it,” but I literally meant E.T., as in the Extra-Terrestrial. Do you see how this is becoming a perfect storm of emotion? Why do we have to do this thing every year where people like football then other people don’t like football, then they argue over talking about football and make triple reverse meta ironic posts about football and I’m still fucking talking about football when all I want to do is watch Lady Gaga without some pisswasser-swilling cretin insulting HER MAJESTY.
Guys, I wasn’t cool in high school. I had long hair, which Coach Principal (an all-too-common occurrence in Arkansas schools) loved to take into his fist and pull while he yelled, “SHAVE AND A HAIRCUT, TALBOT!” into my face. Fuck you, Coach. I was in the goddamned marching band and while I had a couple of jock pals who acknowledged the skill required in such endeavors, most of them spent time throwing chewed gum into my hair and calling me a fag. Football wasn’t my bag, baby.
I had a brief fling with football again when I entered college, but my fraternity days ended prematurely, thank Gaga, because I never stopped being ostracized for asking questions about being forced to hold another guy’s balls or being forced to lie under a pile of twenty people while being beaten with pieces of wood. I never understood why “brothers” would do that to each other, so I left, and the fucking football kinda fell by the wayside.
I picked it up again when I started hanging out with Dad on the reg back in 2008. Today a photo of him I’d posted six years ago popped up in my Facebook feed. I’m pretty sure it’s the last photo of him I ever took.
We watched his last Super Bowl together. He slept through most of it. It was one of the things I cried over after he died. I also cried because I couldn’t remember who an old watch had belonged to. He’d told me, but I didn’t pay attention. I cried over the business things I knew he’d explained but I’d let it go in one ear and out the other. Silly things, really, but sometimes you need an excuse when “I’m just grieving” isn’t enough.
As far as football is concerned, third time’s a charm, three strikes and you’re out, and it got buried with him. I’m not saying I can’t watch it. I’m not fucking triggered by it. That part of my life, like the professional wrestling shows I so adored when I was an adolescent, is over. It didn’t come with me. Rebellion stuck along for the ride. Star Trek is still bopping along in this old head of mine. Football? It’s in a dusty box in the garage.
Pop music, though, that’s still a thing. We all loved Michael in the 1980s. You pretty much had to. Music, in general, has always been a part of my life, and whether I’m listening to movie scores by John Williams while I swordfight with the girls, or getting verklempt watching Gaga sing showtunes, it almost never fails to move me. I don’t know if football has ever done it for me, other than something like Rudy, and once again I attribute the frisson to Jerry Goldsmith’s stirring composition, not the sport depicted.
I’m not angry, guys, I’m sad. I’m sad that I have small children at the end of the world. I’m also a glass-half-empty kind of guy, thanks to the dysthymia, and while I hate plastering myself with labels, it’s a good enough word for everything-usually-tastes-like-dirt. You want to know what doesn’t taste like dirt? Music. Movies. Love. I’m glad football tastes like something to you, and I hope it’s better than Bud Ice.
Then again, it’s always the end of the world for someone. It always has been, and until the last human chokes out their last breath, it always will be. If I’m pissing all over Twitter in all caps, it’s because I love something, or I loved something, and that seems pretty precious these days.
When I am 57, Willie will be 18. Will he love football? I don’t know. If we all make it that far, I’m sure I’ll have exposed him to all manner of nerdcruft, but there’s no telling what influence his peers will hold. Maybe I’ll be dragging my old ass up to the stadium every Friday to watch him play at the Betsy DeVos Christian Academy, if I’m not in the GULAG. Old Dad, around all those thirtysomethings in the stands. “Is your grandkid out there?” they might ask. “No, just Old Dad here to see his son play.”
Proud Dad. That’ll be okay. That’ll be just swell. If football is all I end up enduring, well, that’ll be fine by me.