A most glorious Thursday to all in The Land, both literally and figuratively. The Indians are nearing the end of their brief midseason hiatus after a predictably bland weekend against those damned Yankees, the Browns are undefeated since "hiring" Coacho Cinco, and the Cavaliers are still champions for the next eleven months, notwithstanding how many former MVPs Joe Lacob lures to fulfill his futuristic strategy of hiring the best basketball players. I’ve done my fair share of ESPN-bashing over the years, so I ought to give credit to the Empire for a well-executed ESPYS broadcast; which I say not only because the Cavaliers nearly swept all the major awards. LeBron James's call to action in the opening part of the broadcast was a powerful moment, as he continues to be a model ambassador for Northeast Ohio to the rest of the world. But while we’re waiting ...
Tim Duncan retired this week in the same selfish fashion we’ve come to expect from Duncan: a virtually anonymous press release and no fanfare. It was a huge story because Duncan was the last player from the Jordan Era to be playing at a high level, a bridge that connected Jordan’s generation to the current generation, and spanned a few others. He’s also one of the best all-around basketball players of all time. My favorite Duncan anecdotes from the week were Duncan correcting opposing center Etan Thomas' moves mid-game, then giving him props when he used Duncan's suggested tactic against him; Lee Jenkins' witnessing Duncan help Wake students with their chemistry homework; Duncan discussing replacement water filter cartridges at CostCo with some Reddit user's dad; and Duncan co-authoring a psychology book chapter titled, "Blowhards, Snobs, and Narcissists — Interpersonal Reactions to Excessive Egotism."
Duncan demonstrated that an athlete can be dominant while also embodying humility, intellect, collegiality, and good-natured humor. In a lot of ways, Duncan was like the Jon Stewart of basketball: reliable, self-deprecating, down-to-earth, approachable, (by all accounts) infinitely kind. Both were trustworthy, steadfast voices of authority. Once Kevin Garnett (officially) retires, the last vestige from the Kobe-Duncan-Garnett NBA will be gone, meaning LeBron James will officially be old (in NBA terms).
A big “screw you” to everyone playing Pokémon Go. Not because I want to mock people for playing, or dislike people for taking joy in a game ostensibly made for children 20 years ago. I desperately want to play Pokémon Go. But I have a crummy data plan, and chasing Pidgeys around my apartment or Sparrows at Starbucks sounded … dissatisfying. So, I’m just not going to play; which, as someone who spent countless hours zapping Zubats in elementary school, is very disappointing.
However, I want to observe that I think we’ve reached a watershed moment in mobile device distraction. We’ve all noticed that cell phone usage makes people … inattentive. But while talking on the phone while walking or texting while driving were just cellular versions of universal distractions similar to talking to a friend while walking or eating a cheeseburger in the car, Pokémon Go is the first "fad app" that will be viewed as personally responsible for people paying no effing attention to their surroundings. And, frankly, it’s a little overdue. In two weeks, people hurting themselves and others while playing Pokémon Go will be a national news story frightening parents and the elderly nationwide. Whether it’s called “virtual reality” or “augmented reality” or "super reality" Pokémon Go may be our first “un-reality” moment, where we start to question how much we ought to be monkeying around with reality-altering apps and awareness-obliterating devices in public, or in the company of friends. Anyway, safe catching, Pokéhunters. Just not at The Holocaust Museum, though. Not cool, dudes.
Your daily Calvin and Hobbes strip. This strip seems appropriate in light of recent events and LeBron James’ call to action to improve our communities and to repudiate violence.
Now for the random 90s song of the day. "Nightswimming" is one of my favorite R.E.M. songs, and reeks of sentimentality for late summer nights. It’s the perfect tune for the reflective insomniac in July and August. It stands in contrast to the tenor of the most celebrated music of the 90s; it’s disillusioned, but responds with a ballad yearning for youth instead of an aggressively adolescent tantrum. It has some personal nostalgic value as well, as it somehow ended up on my clip-on iPod shuffle I wore while driving around an ice truck during a college summer. Also, Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones composed the strings.
Nightswimming, remembering that night
September's coming soon
I'm pining for the moon
And what if there were two
Side by side in orbit
Around the fairest sun?