Wednesday, December 26, 2007
One-on-One With Obama
Posted: Monday December 24, 2007 10:12AM; Updated: Monday December 24, 2007 10:12AM
By S.L. Price
Here's the beauty of pickup basketball: You may be a U.S. senator, a living symbol of racial healing and perhaps even the next President of the United States, but if you're gliding in for an easy layup and each point is precious, I've got no choice then, do I? You're getting hacked. So, yes, I'm hammering that arm and crashing headlong into your whippet-thin frame; and, yes, it's a foul so flagrant, so absurdly desperate, that all you can do, body buckling, is laugh. Hey, it's pickup. Everyone, even you, uses whatever he's got to win.
"Believe me," Barack Obama says, walking to the top of the key, "you can get shot for doing that."
He's not serious. I think. But he wants me off his back, and invoking jumpy Secret Service men is a wise ploy. With the race for the Democratic presidential nomination whisker-close, Obama can't afford to show up for some Dubuque meet-and-greet with a mysterious fat lip. His wife, Michelle, warned me, "Don't break his nose, give him a black eye or knock his teeth out. Or I'll have to come find you."
Actually, Michelle understands. She hails from a Chicago family that believes the game -- when you pass, when you call fouls, how you check the ball -- reveals character. Once her romance with Barack got serious, she pressed her brother, Craig Robinson, to conduct the acid test: Go play. Robinson tried to duck it; he had starred at Princeton, and Barack had been a benchwarmer for his Hawaiian high school team. "All I could think was, This guy's going to be terrible, and I have to report that back," says Robinson, who's now the coach at Brown. "And you can't fudge it, because if he turns out to be a jerk and you knew but didn't say it, you're in trouble."
He liked what he saw. Obama was confident but not cocky, unselfish but unafraid to shoot. On court he showed the same balance that has fueled his political rise; he could talk trash without seeming mean, compete feverishly without seeming angry. Yet few knew how central the sport -- "my first love," he calls it -- was to his self-image as a mixed-race child: How the greatest gift from his absent dad was a basketball, how playing gave him his closest white friends and a place where black skin wasn't a disadvantage. When a coach, a close friend, casually threw out the word n-----, Obama says, "It reminded me that race is complicated, that people are complicated, that you could have ugly strains even among people who were otherwise decent.... It does not necessarily mean they're bad people."
So it's no surprise that Obama bit at the chance to play one-on-one. We met at the YMCA in Spencer, Iowa, in a gym with signs scolding, do not dunk balls or hang on rim! No problem. We both graduated high school in 1979, and the days when a soda bottle could roll beneath our jumping feet have long passed. At 6' 1 1/2", Obama is all lefty, quick with long arms. Before we start, he grabs some opposition research from my son, who readily says I'm "not in basketball shape" and will thus spend his teenage years peering through the barred windows of our basement.
"All right," Obama announces. "I've got your game cased out."
"It's all over?" I ask.
"It's all over."
Obama exudes none of that anxious Washington ambition; he's not weighing words. He's here to play.
The first game flies by in a blur of missed (mine) and made (his) jumpers: I lose 11-5. Obama throws out a cheap "Wooooo!" whenever I shoot but never resorts to ticky-tack calls; before the second game he notes our 15-pound weight difference. "If you wanted to bang inside a bit," he says, "you could."
I'm no fool. I start banging. After I commit that criminal foul under the basket, he lofts an air ball and I pull ahead 2-1. But we're both gasping, and proceed to play the ugliest, slowest game in history. A handler steps in, says his man must leave, so we decide to play to seven.
Obama hits two jumpers to go up 3-2, and I remember what Michelle told me: "He's very good at the last minute."
"All right," I say coyly, flipping him the ball. "This is for the presidency...."
He drills a 19-footer, heels barely leaving the ground. "Did you hear me?" I say.
"Why do you think I hit it?" he says.
I back him down twice to tie 4-4. He drains two more, but I swish one to cut it to 6-5. Now Obama closes in, blocks my last shot, grabs the ball. He shuffles out wide, turns and sets, face blank. I thunder toward him, arm outstretched, feeling suddenly like Hillary and Edwards and anyone else in Iowa trying desperately to stop Obama's rise.
The ball drops through the net like a stone.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
I am a fan of Big Love
I am a bigger fan of Lawrence O'Donnell
I don't think Eleanor Clift should be allowed to use the word "dis".
A side discussion about the absence of Eleanor Clifts defense of Odonnell.
In a tone that seemingly justified Mitt Romney’s devout Belief in the “religion of his forefathers”, the Mormon religion, Clift makes the point that she thinks all religions have crazy ideas. This apparently means that this is not a fight she thinks she can win and I guess its a fight not worth fighting.
Religions are crazy, and that matters when people believe that America should be run as a religious country, rather than a moral country. When this happens, a failure to hold people accountable for their wacky beliefs is not insignificant.
Let me put this another way…
Preparing for the marathon I knew I had a hurt knee. During the months that led up to the race I couldn’t run more than 7 miles without feeling some pain during a run. If I ran more than 12 miles I would feel knee pain for the next day. On race day at the half-way point (13 miles) I knew it was to be going to be a struggle because I not only felt the predictable knee pain but also some blister formation and chafing. The next 6 miles was a physical transition from a running a marathon to wandering the streets of the bronx.
The constant cheering of the crowds motivated me to keep going both physically and mentally. With 7 miles (140 blocks) ahead I futilely tried to not think about anything but the end. Our return to Manhattan was a relief but the crowds were much lighter than earlier in the race. This leg of the race feels different than the rest. Above 110th street, Fifth Avenue is lined mostly one deep with sparsely cheering locals who probably live within a 2 blocks.
As runners streamed passed me, and as I limped through the streets of harlem, I noticed this old man with a bible sitting in a lawn chair. Up to that point I had been hearing comments like “You look great”, “ Go You”, “You are a superstar.” All these were nice thoughts by people but completely untrue. I then looked at the man in the chair and this is what he said --- “I didn’t come all the way out here just to watch you walk”…
He was right. That is what I have to say to democrats leaders, the liberal pundits, and the rest of the people in Washington who are supposed to be representing me. I don’t care what you think you have done to deserve your spot as my voice, If you aren’t constantly fighting for ideals and creating results for the better it is time for you to step aside.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
The above video about the blogger nerds got cross-posted at dailykos today, where i view daily but never write. It got some great feedback from the rest of the kossaks. Some of the comments were interesting.
Negin Farsad was on CBC last week (0/0)
being interviewed by Q's Jian Ghomeshi about her new documentary. She was quite engaging. I found her hilarious when she, unintentionally I think, kept saying things like "speaking American" instead of speaking English. Then she'd remember she was speaking to a Canadian audience and apologize, which always endears an American to a Canadian audience.
by paul2port on Wed Dec 05, 2007 at 06:59:38 AM PST
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Negin, If you needs some ESL Lessons I would be glad to offer my wonderful amazing language expertise. I also have a red-headed friend who is a writer and teaches english to highschool students who might be able to help..
Anyway, I responded to paul2port with my first response ever.
Negin (0 / 0)
I know from first hand experience with her that she would probably stab herself in the eye with an icepick if she ever used the term "speaking American" in an non-ironic context. If she used it multiple times in the same interview she would probably stab herself in the other eye with one of those WMD's she has been storing in her tiny manhattan apartment.
by East Village Blue on Wed Dec 05, 2007 at 07:22:05 AM PST
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