Spring has sprung and a few photographer friends and I are wondering if anyone here in Slogland has a favorite demolition derby in the mighty Northwest? Suggestions for Washington, Oregon, Montana, and/or Vancouver B.C.?
The Slamfest Demo Derby, produced by Evergreen Speedway/High Road Promotions this past weekend, at the Washington State Spring Fair was pretty spectacular (and please enjoy these photos by Jake Clifford because someone else [starring me!] was so excited to go to Puyallup that she forgot the battery for her camera.) Also don't forget to check out the Washington State Fair's website for all sorts of smaller events before the big 2014 Washington State Fair in September. More photos of Slamfest after the jump!
The Mariners are leading the league! This very moment—right here, right now—may end up being the highlight of the season for this young team, but cautious optimism says maaaaybe not... Don't stop believing! Go, go, expensive Robinson Cano! If we beat the Angels tonight at Safeco Field, that's how a great start to a season continues to be great. It's a beautiful day for baseball (that is, it might not rain the whole game). You can't hit the ball if you don't swing the bat. Etc.!
My friend Ben has gone to the M's home opener every year for the past 14 years. He says:
Today is a special day in any Seattle sports fan's life. Opening day. The first home game. A day of hope and possibilities. A day to drink deeply of life and of beer. A day to see the new Mariners—a Dominican man making 240 million dollars and a rookie making only $600,000. A new manager and new versions of ballpark food [like wings made with Ballard's excellent Bonache hot sauce! Georgetown Brewing Company cask-conditioned beer! Taylor Farms shellfish! Hot Cakes desserts!—B.J.C.]. Today is 14 years in a row of opening days with my friend Devon, a streak I hope to continue until we're dead. Friends and family all converge on Safeco Field to watch, kind of, baseball. We aren't in last place yet, there are no major injuries—there is hope. I am excited to smell the garlic fries, see old friends, and groan when the crowd cheers for the hat-trick game on the jumbo tron. Go M's! Happy opening day!
Chris Hansen, the billionaire investor whose attempt to bring the Sacremento Kings to Seattle was rejected last year by the NBA, tells the Seattle Times:
““Does anybody really think that Seattle is not going to have an NBA team at some point in the future?” Hansen said. “I think everybody can get really impatient when things don’t happen on their own agenda.
"It’s inevitable Seattle will have a basketball team. It’s just a question of when. Our job is to get the arena through the EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) process and done and evaluate opportunities as they come up. The next time an opportunity comes our way, we’re going to be in a lot better position.”
Hansen expects the EIS, which is considered the last major hurdle for the $490 million proposed arena, will be completed this summer.
And! In other Seattle sportsball news, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is still calling out bullshit wherever he sees it like a badass, questioning in Sports Illustrated why a black player who grew up in the same area of Los Angeles that he did was
expelled released from his contract with an NFL team for alleged gang ties—while a white player caught on video making explicit racist threats wasn't even suspended:
I look at those words—gang ties—and I think about all the players I’ve met in the NFL and all of us who come from inner-city neighborhoods like mine in Los Angeles, and I wonder how many of us could honestly say we’re not friends with guys doing the wrong things.
Sherman is a huge credit to the Seahawks, the NFL, and human beings.
It's supposed to be balmy and sorta-kinda sunny in Seattle this weekend (spring!)—a perfect time to dust off your badminton rackets, buy a bottle of dry rose, and hit the park.
Here, for your weekend inspiration, is a video of Korean player Lee Yong-dae smashing a shuttlecock so hard that it flies through the air and cracks open a watermelon on the other side of the court.
Shuttlecocks weigh approximately five grams—about as much as a teaspoon of baking powder.
The origins of shuttlecock games, as regular readers of The Stranger already know, are a little mysterious:
Historians and archeologists have found evidence of them—pieces of cork, wood, or corn husks with feathers sticking out from behind—all over the world. According to Chinese historians, the ancient game of jianzi—a cross between badminton and hacky sack, where players hit the shuttlecock with their feet—came from an old military training exercise. During the Han Dynasty, jianzi spread to Taiwan, Korea, and Vietnam. In 1508, Vietnamese poet Nguyen Gian Thanh described a lively street scene in Hanoi where "young men tuck up their tunics and play shirtless shuttlecock." Badminton historian Jean-Yves Guillain describes coming across a similar game in Malaysia called chap-teh that used hibiscus flowers instead of feathers.
People were playing shuttlecock games in North America, too—in 1903, anthropologist Matilda Coxe Stevenson described a Zuni game in New Mexico called po'kinanane, "so named," she wrote, "because the sound produced by the shuttlecock coming in contact with the palm of the hand is similar to the noise of the tread of a jack rabbit upon frozen snow.
But the name "badminton" comes from an English estate where the Dukes of Beaufort have been leisure-crazy for centuries. An account from the 1600s describes their "pompous stables" and diversions after breakfast ("perhaps a deer was to be killed"), and the Beauforts' fondness for "battledore and shuttlecock" was legendary. In 1830, they supposedly broke a record with 2,117 hits in a single rally.
Ok I know none of you care about sports, but I do and this breaks my heart.
Wow I'm officially a Detroit #Lion. Extremely excited about the opportunity to grow with this organization.
— Golden Tate (@ShowtimeTate) March 12, 2014
I will miss his face (he was arguably the third most handsome Seahawk) and his amazing skills and also his very .gif-able dance moves.
And it wasn't at an HRC dinner. It was at a home game for the Nets:
This is a big fucking deal. (Via JoeMyGod.)
Not that Seattle needs another reason to love Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, but now I'm ready to bake him a football-shaped cake or something:
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson on Tuesday praised Missouri defensive end Michael Sam for his courage to come out as gay before the NFL draft, saying Seattle would welcome him to the locker room.
“He’s very courageous to come out and talk about it. You have a lot of respect for somebody that can do that,” Wilson said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” TV show, adding, “If he’s on our team, I know that we’ll treat him with utmost respect just like everybody else.”
“To be honest with you, when I step into the huddle for the Seattle Seahawks, my focus is on winning football games,” Wilson told “Fox and Friends.” “And our goal is one goal, and that’s to win the Super Bowl. And every time we step out onto the field, that’s our mindset. So when I step into the huddle, I don’t care if my offensive lineman is white, black, if my receiver is Jewish or Christian — that has no effect on me.”
The 12th man is already loud—they would goddamn explode if the first gay player in NFL history walked onto Century Link field this year in a Seahwawks jersey.
Folks with memories and hearts may also notice that Wilson is taking the opposite tack of bigoted piece of shit Chris Clemons, the Seahawks defensive end who said last year that an NFL gay player coming out would be a "selfish act" that will "divide the team."
But because there is justice in the world, the news breaks today that Clemons may be pushed off the team while Wilson is recognized as categorically awesome.
Joseph Swide has written a story for the Classical about Rainier Beach's propensity for producing professional basketball players:
Locally, [Rainier Beach is] known as the best place to get Vietnamese food. It is perhaps less well known as an astonishingly fertile cradle of basketball talent, although it's that, too. This is a place that has produced more current NBA players than just about any other place on Earth—as many as Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx combined. That's where we're going.
I had no idea. Did you? If this is news to you, you really should go read Swide's whole story.
What the headline says. Fuck.
I was reminded what a child of the Cold War I am by the twinge of glee I felt this morning on the news that Russia's mens ice hockey team was eliminated from the Olympics on a 3-1 quarterfinal lose to Finland. No, it's not as big a deal as it would've been in the Miracle on Ice era, when the Soviet Union's top professional hockey players faced off against college students and other amateurs from around the world, but I just can't help myself from enjoying a little patriotic schadenfreude.
I can only imagine how disappointing it must be for both the players and their fans to fail to even medal on their home ice in the featured event of the Sochi Olympics. Then again, in this post-Cold War era, the Russian players all make a kajillion dollars playing in the NHL, so they'll get over it.
Figure skating is not ice dancing. Ice dancing is not figure skating. Figure skating is an incredibly difficult, athletic sport; ice dancing is indeed a tawdry whore. Your link is to an article about ice dancing, not figure skating. Ice dancing should be taken out of the Olympics; it's corrupt and stupid.
Posted by Fnarf on February 17, 2014 at 1:30 PM
Ice dancing: never forget.
...he goes on Ellen and says more things that make me want to carry him through the streets on my shoulders.
For those needing a refresher: Dale Hansen is the Dallas sportscaster whose eloquent address regarding the coming out of American football player Michael Sam went viral earlier this week. (Not only did he concisely blast NFL hypocrisy, he quoted Audre Lorde.)
Which brings us to today, when Dale Hansen and his wife appeared on Ellen, and were awesome. Enjoy.
So this video lit the internet on fire yesterday afternoon/last night. (At least by my clock.) The monologue comes from Dale Hansen of ABC's Dallas affiliate WFAA. It's perhaps surprising that one of the most salient pieces of commentary on Sam and the NFL comes from the heart of Texas, but that just makes it all the more excellent.
Via Jezebel, a video that is making Stranger headquarters melt into a pile of awed laughter: Russian figure-skating darling Evgeni Plushenko in a routine that, apparently, will not be performed at the Olympics because for some stupid reason they don't allow you to strip down to gold underpants and/or kiss the judges. (Whyyyy??!!) Oh, yeah, and also, someone switched out his original soundtrack—Tom Jones's "Sex Bomb"—for '90s slow jam "Pony," by Ginuwine.*
I CANNOT GET OVER IT. Someone tell me if at 2:15 he loses his penis? What is that move? Apparently this man will be skating onto your televisions—and into your hearts!—later in the week.
*The Jezebel post astutely notes that "ironically enough, the only thing made worse by the addition of a 'Pony' soundtrack is actual sex." Real talk.
Sports Illustrated quoted an unnamed assistant coach who also brought up the fabled sanctum of Tinactin and testosterone. “There’s nothing more sensitive than the heartbeat of the locker room,” he said. “If you knowingly bring someone in there with that sexual orientation, how are the other guys going to deal with it?”
To his question, a few of my own: When did the locker room become such a delicate ecosystem? Is it inhabited by athletes or orchids? And how is it that gladiators who don’t flinch when a 300-pound mountain of flesh in shoulder pads comes roaring toward them start to quiver at the thought of a homosexual under a nearby nozzle? They may be physical giants, but at least a few of them are psychological pipsqueaks.
And they’re surprisingly blunt and Paleolithic. When NFL Network’s Andrea Kremer recently brought up the possibility of an openly gay player with Jonathan Vilma, a New Orleans Saints linebacker, he said: “Imagine if he’s the guy next to me and, you know, I get dressed, naked, taking a shower, the whole nine, and it just so happens he looks at me.”
“How am I supposed to respond?” Vilma added.
Well, a squeal would be unmanly, Mace might not be enough and N.F.L. players tend to use their firearms away from the stadium, so I’d advise him to do what countless females of our species have done with leering males through history. Step away. Move on. Dare I say woman up?
Last night I watched The Avengers and came away with a simple love for the comical, no-nonsense Hulk, who just wants to smash. It's worth noting that the movie doesn't account in any way for the fact that during the first half of the film, Hulk tries to kill everybody in his way, whereas later he will only kill the evil creatures and then he goes all huggy and becomes cute-dinosaury in the end, but whatever. The fact is that, even though I did wake up this weekend from a terrible, it-came-out-of-nowhere-except-the-everyday-experience-of-being-female rape nightmare, I personally can afford a simple love for the Hulk because I don't have real-life Hulks in my life.
But then I started thinking about Michael Sam and the NFL, and Jason Collins falling in the NBA ranks as punishment for coming out, and I realize that I'm still surrounded by macho men who have the power to destroy people's lives.
Folks talking about whether the NFL is "ready" for Michael Sam miss the fact that the NFL is a horror-show mainstream macho power structure—despite how you feel about the game of football itself—and all horror-show mainstream power structures, like, say, the enslavement of certain people and the decision to keep others from gaining the vote, do not get ready for a damn thing.
Michael Sam's assertion in itself is a blow. A gay man simply asserting his existence is an act of strength that threatens the weak strength of the NFL (what's that saying about how macho men have the weakest kind of strength?).
Because the NFL is driven by dudes who fear, more than anything, feeling the way women feel, as Coates explains:
When black soldiers joined the Union Army they were not merely confronting prejudice—they were pushing the boundaries of manhood. And when the Night Witches flew over German lines, they were confronting something more—the boundaries of humanity itself. Groups define themselves by what they are and what they are not: Niggers are never men, ladies are never soldiers, and faggots don't play football. When Michael Sam steps on a football field, he likely will not merely be playing for his career but, in some sense, for his people.
In that sense he will be challenging a deep and discrepant mythology of who is capable of inflicting violence and who isn't.
Another player (I'm sure he's very important in the NFL but I don't care enough even to write his name here) recently trotted out that old fear of taking a shower with a gay man, Coates writes:
What undergirds this logic is a fear of being made into a woman, which is to say a fear of being regarded sexually by someone who is as strong as, or stronger than, you. Implicit to the fear is the gay player's ability to do violence. It exists right alongside a belief that the gay player is a "sissy." ("Grown men should not have female tendencies. Period," Vilma once tweeted.) The logic is kin to the old Confederate belief that Southern slaves were so loyal and cowardly yet they must never be given guns.
Let's be clear: Gay men are not sexual violators. But that brainless stereotype might actually have a benefit (as long as it doesn't mean gay athletes in locker rooms and on fields are bullied and beaten by a fearful mob majority). If physically powerful pro-athlete gay men standing up for themselves forces macho straight guys into empathy, then that stereotype will have helped to dismantle a whole world of men who have never felt—and in their ignorance, are both terrified and terrifying—the firsthand, implicit threat of sexual violation, the way most women have at some point in their lives. I can't even imagine how different that world would be.
Furthermore, and maybe this sounds too radical, but the day is coming when anybody who watches the NFL and NBA and NHL and hates homophobia is going to have to start demanding that players like Collins and Sam aren't discriminated against athletically for who they are. I'm angry in advance of the draft. I want to smash the NFL.
Oh you silly Californa-Portlandians!
Michael Sam is a first-team all-American and the Associated Press named him the defense player of the year in the Southeastern Conference and his teammates at the University of Missouri—who knew he was gay—voted him the team's most valuable player. NYT:
Now Mr. Sam enters an uncharted area of the sports landscape. He is making his public declaration before he is drafted, to the potential detriment to his professional career. And he is doing so as he prepares to enter a league with an overtly macho culture, where controversies over homophobia have attracted recent attention.... Mr. Sam, 24, is projected to be chosen in the early rounds of the N.F.L. draft in May, ordinarily a path to a prosperous pro career. He said he decided to come out publicly now because he sensed that rumors were circulating. “I just want to make sure I could tell my story the way I want to tell it,” said Mr. Sam, who also spoke with ESPN on Sunday. “I just want to own my truth.”
NFL execs—who would only comment if they could stay closeted—are saying that the NFL isn't ready for an openly gay player:
But while initial reaction from players has been almost universally welcoming, the executives who will actually make decisions on drafting Sam have been disappointingly retrograde. Sports Illustrated has two separate articles speaking with 12 different NFL GMs, coaches, and scouts, and to a man, they say that being gay will either hurt Sam's draft stock, or cause him to not be drafted at all. Also to a man, they refuse to put their names behind their comments. [The comments from NFL execs amount to] concern trolling. I wouldn't have a problem with it, but his fellow players would. Some took it even more meta, saying it wouldn't be Sam's sexuality that's a distraction, but the media attention surrounding him. Does that fly in a league where players are regularly arrested, get ensnared in off-the-field controversy, and are generally the inhabitants of a media fishbowl to begin with? Locker rooms have survived truly divisive figures before. (And, it goes without saying, multiple players are and have been out to their teammates without any distractions boiling over into public.) None of those other external factors have ever mattered more than how well the player can play.
And Michael Sam can play:
Rightwing dopes—of course—are demanding to know why Sam had to come out at all: "Sam, who cares about your sexual preference?", asks a conservative blogger. We actually do care about the sexual preferences of pro-athletes (or about-to-go-pro athletes)—their orientations, their escapades, their taste in Kardashians—but since everyone is presumed to be straight until they say otherwise (a not unreasonable assumption, as most people are straight), only gay or bi athletes are in the position of having to announce their sexual orientations. No one objects when the straight-by-default assumption essentially (and loudly and accurately) announces a heterosexual athlete's sexual orientation—but let a gay person announce his sexual orientation and watch the rightwingers have aneurysms.
And, finally, William Saleton makes a great point over at Slate: Michael Sam's personal history should pound the last nail in the coffin of the ridiculous "being gay is a choice" argument.
When will the Winter Olympics in medieval Russia end?
Former Russian figure skater and member of Russian parliament Irina Rodnina lit the Olympic flame in Sochi on Friday, which brought back scrutiny from the time last fall she tweeted a doctored, racist photo of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama
The person who just lit the Olympic flame tweeted this racist photo of the Obamas last year http://t.co/JA2tQi2L9f— Business Insider (@businessinsider) February 7, 2014
Here it is...
My only thing is the tune in the video does not go all the way. The best that The Human League can do is suggest a direction, when clearly what the promoters of Canadian diversity wanted, considering the content of their video, is a tune that could arrive at a very specific destination—the wonderfully gay core of the 80s. For that purpose (arrival), for that journey to be completed (rather than merely suggested), this is the tune they should have turned to...
First of all, Slog tipper Beth says we've neglected to post this "outstanding-wonderful-so-cute ad from the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion." So, here it is!
Second, I am loving this theme on #SochiProblems:
Hotels are bad and food is terrible. That's what happens when you piss off the gays. #Sochi2014 #SochiProblems
— Jeremy Lyons (@ly0ns) February 7, 2014
It's too bad Putin hates homosexuals sounds like he could really use the guy second from the left #SochiProblems pic.twitter.com/nQMzEgnQXw
— Raider Jesse (@EdmontonRaider) February 5, 2014
You know who would've thrown a good Olympics? The gays. #SochiProblems
— Sweet Jen (@jenhatesfun) February 7, 2014
And so on. Meanwhile: The Russian government says it knows everything's just fine, because it has cameras watching Sochi's working showers.
Take a look at how Google's homepage is dressed right now for the Olympics:
"The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play." –Olympic Charter
In the same vein, check out how the UK's Channel 4 changed up their logo in honor of the Sochi Olympics—and whoa, the video they released about it—over at Joe My God. Good job, world! Keep it up!
There are many passages in this New York Times piece about yesterday's big Seahawks victory parade that will make your soul crinkle like tinfoil. Is this really how New Yorkers see and code Seattle? Or was the author, Kirk Johnson, inspired by the sheer electrical energy and events in his very active but disconnected brain?
Let us begin with the beginning...
Drivers here often smile and wave at one another for no obvious reason. A study last year found that Washington residents were less likely than people elsewhere to swear at strangers. For many, “Seattle chill” sums up the conflicted local soul: polite but cool.
And then this:
[Seattle] has also been saddled with sports teams that mostly stank. The SuperSonics of the N.B.A. last won a national championship when Jimmy Carter was in the White House, in 1979, while the Seattle Storm of the W.N.B.A. won championships in 2004 and 2010.What? This guy has clearly never heard of Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton. Nor does he know that even Ice Cube counted a Lakers victory over the SuperSonics as a good in his LA hood. The SuperSonics, who are sadly no longer with us, were an elite team in the 1990s.
That a city priding itself on a nerdy-but-nice blend of socially liberal consciousness — Oakland of the north, some have called it — would have an N.F.L. team noted for its hyperaggressive tactics on the field, as measured by assessed or sometimes overlooked penalties, does make some Seattleites scratch their heads.Oakland of the north? I have never heard Seattle described in that way in the 23 years I have lived here. And what happened when I googled this oddity? I found only two references to it: One, of course, is in the NYT piece, and the other is found in a Washington CEO article about "Bremerton rising" (the PDF). The exact sentence: "[Bremerton] is the Oakland of the Northwest, The Harlem to Belltown's SoHo, a Compton with rain." I can forgive Washington CEO magazine for this cheap kind of suburban boosterism (it pays the bills), but not the most important newspaper in the land. Lawd, today.
People who aren't into sports might find the massive crowds at today's Seahawks Super Bowl victory parade to be kinda silly. I mean, it's just a game for chrisakes. A bunch of millionaires working for billionaires, tossing a ball around and knocking each other down. Objectively, all this civic pride would appear to be misplaced, especially considering that this 12th Man thing is mostly bullshit—few if any of the fans flooding Seattle's streets today had anything to do with the Seahawks' victory.
But that's an awfully cynical view of professional sports that ignores our basic tribal instincts, and as such underestimates the beneficial and indeed, civilizing impact of sports fandom. Professional football and other sports don't just serve as a metaphor for war, they serve as a bloodless proxy. Through the Seahawks and the Broncos their respective fans get to manifest all of the inflamed passions of the Hutus and the Tutsis, but without the genocide. Where city-states once settled their disputes on the field of combat, they now compete on the field of play. It is a harmless appeal to our basest instincts that brings our city together against the other, without massacring the other in the process.
In Sunday's Super Bowl, Seattle utterly destroyed Denver, and yet the city of Denver remains unscathed. Seven hundred thousand Seahawk fans amassed in downtown Seattle today—about the size of the Allied forces at the Battle of the Bulge—but not a single casualty was inflicted on either side. Indeed, as physically brutal as the sport of football is, even among the players in Sunday's game, not a single fatality was suffered (unless you count the inevitable deaths from chronic traumatic encephalopathy some decades hence).
So yeah. It's silly. But embrace it. Because it's a helluva lot better than actual war.
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