You might have noticed that I wrote a basketball-related post last week, but I'm actually trying to separate my obsessing about sports from … well, real stuff. So I posted this year's bracket at Turrible, which is intended to be my online man cave. Of sorts. Anyway, don't assume that I posted it elsewhere because, like, I'm ashamed of how bad it is. My terrible predictions had nothing to do with my decision to post it on a blog that no one reads. Nothing. Zero. Am I angry that I'm in last place in my bracket pool? Maybe a little. But my only regret is that my picks were not more bold. Except, if they had been more bold, I wouldn't be in last place. I mean, how could I have missed St. Mary's over Villanova? You'll notice in my bracket notes that I even talk about how bad Villanova is playing; the words "Bad moon rising" were cut off in the scanning process under Villanova's first round game. And yet I had them advancing into the Sweet Sixteen. I will ask the now-annual, post-second-round question: What was I thinking?
John Perry Barlow, discussing the Grateful Dead's methods of engaging its audience:
What people today are beginning to realize is what became obvious to us back then — the important correlation is the one between familiarity and value, not scarcity and value. Adam Smith taught that the scarcer you make something, the more valuable it becomes. In the physical world, that works beautifully. But we couldn't regulate [taping at Grateful Dead] shows, and you can't online. The Internet doesn't behave that way.
From Management Secrets of the Grateful Dead, in the current Atlantic.
Journalist Mikal Gilmore discusses the research of his Rolling Stone cover article, "Why the Beatles Broke Up."
What I found most troubling, most tragic, in all of this was two things: Both Lennon and Harrison (Lennon, clearly, in particular) did their best to sabotage the Beatles from mid-1968 onward, and when it all came irrevocably apart, I believe that both men regretted what they had wrought. I don't think that John Lennon and George Harrison (but Lennon, again, in particular) truly meant the Beatles to end, even though they might not have known it in the moment. I think they meant to shift the balance of power, I think they meant for the Beatles to become, in a sense, a more casual form of collaboration, and I think they clearly intended to rein in Paul McCartney. But they overplayed their hand and — there's no way around it — they treated McCartney shamefully during 1969, and unforgivably in the early months of 1970.
Excellent Deadspin post about the undisciplined and occasionally crooked world of NBA scorekeeping. It's based on the story of a guy named Alex who once kept score for the Grizzlies, and it includes this gem about how Nick Van Exel (who wasn't known for his passing, let's say) racked up 23 assists one night:
A little more than a year later, with Nick Van Exel and the Lakers in town, Alex decided to act out. "I was sort of disgruntled," he says. "I loved the game. I don't want the numbers to be meaningless, and I felt they were becoming meaningless because of how stats were kept. So I decided, I'm gonna do this totally immature thing and see what happens. It was childish. The Lakers are in town. We're gonna lose. Fuck it. He's getting a shitload of assists." If you were to watch the game today, you'd see some "comically bad assists." Alex's fingerprints are all over the box score. He gave Van Exel everything. "Van Exel would pass from the top of the three-point line to someone on the wing who'd hold the ball for five seconds, dribble, then make a move to the basket. Assist, Van Exel."
Before he created Saturday Night Live, Lorne Michaels used to send jokes to Woody Allen … A sample: He was obsessed with the notion that, somewhere in the world, there is a person having exactly the same thought he was at exactly the same moment. He decided to call that person, but the line was busy. Just the right amount of existential angst for Allen, right? Allen told Michaels that this joke was "brilliant," and according to Michaels, the compliment "kept him going for the next several years." Excellent anecdotes in Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live.
Dateline: A Mexican discotheque in the early 1970s. "Rickey [Henderson] had a pair of heels on that were about four inches high. Everything was fine until these people came in yelling that they had guns. Then they started shooting" … Henderson ducked under a table as gunfire strafed the room. When the shooting ended, Henderson looked down and saw a bullet hole had gone all the way through the heel of his shoe. "If tall heels hadn't been popular, Rickey Henderson might have had his career ruined." The narrator was former Japanese baseball legend, Randy Bass (aka Ba-su), from a 1987 SI profile: The Hottest American Import in Japan.
"The name just popped into my head one day … I just don't feel like I had a past, and I couldn't relate to anything other than what I was doing at the present time. And, it didn't really matter to me what I said. Still doesn't, really."
Continuing the discussion of interesting and inspirational grant-writing examples, here's a piece from photographer Garry Winogrand's Guggenheim fellowship application, 1963:
I look at the pictures I have done up to now, and they make me feel that who we are and how we feel and what is to become of us just doesn't matter. Our aspirations and successes have been cheap and petty. I read the newspapers, the columnists, some books, I look at some magazines (our press). They all deal in illusions and fantasies. I can only conclude that we have lost ourselves, and that the bomb may finish the job permanently, and it just doesn't matter, we have not loved life … I cannot accept my conclusions, and so I must continue this photographic investigation further and deeper. This is my project.
Found and forwarded by Leslie.
Remember when Robert Johnson met the devil at the crossroads and returned with a whole new kind of blues? Last night, we watched "Notorious," the Biggie Smalls biopic, and there's a similar moment. The movie sort of glosses over where Biggie's style came from, implying that it began on the street, but that Biggie really enhanced it during nine months in a North Carolina prison. It reminded me of Martin Scorsese's Bob Dylan documentary, No Direction Home. Where did the Dylan sound come from? Scorsese diligently goes through all of the members of the 60's Village scene, but then there's a gap in which Dylan leaves the scene for a few months and then re-emerges with the style we all know. What is it about creating a new style that it has to happen in secret? "Notorious" is terrible, by the way. I wouldn't have thought it possible to make a wooden, utterly uninteresting movie about Biggie, Brooklyn, the early 90's, and East Coast v West Coast, but they found a way to do it.