To: Bill Simmons
Subject: RE: Face Off
Time: 3:15 p.m. ET
Your reference to Kelly Taylor's abduction by Prof. Finley's cult is sublime. If Kelly Taylor were a real person, I would love to write her biography: This is a woman who joined a cult, got amnesia, was almost burned alive (and then almost became a lesbian), dated a heroin addict, dated a gambling addict, became addicted to cocaine, and (I think) was trapped at the bottom of a Midland, Texas, well for 58 hours in 1987. I cannot fathom a more compelling life.
Carl Lewis is a strange dude. He's one of those guys who desperately wants to be seen as a tragic figure. At the end of his "Beyond the Glory" episode, Carl insists he gets more accolades from doing community theater than he ever received in his career as a track athlete. I am skeptical of this. As for Barry Bonds, I don't know. I guess I like him. He seems honest. I mean, how can you expect someone whose father played Major League Baseball to be impressed by the premise of becoming a professional athlete? If I had pursued agriculture, I highly doubt I would walk around being all humble and grateful about my ability to cultivate soybeans. I'll completely take Barry's misanthropy over Sammy Sosa's false earnestness.
Here is the single coolest thing about ESPN Classic, NBA-TV, and everything else that repackages things I loved when I was 10: It's the tangential information. Every time the Doug Flutie vs. Miami football game is replayed, I watch it. And my favorite part is not "The Pass" -- my favorite part is right before "The Pass," when Brent Musburger mentions what was going to happen on "Falcon Crest" that night, because that game happened to be played on a Friday afternoon. These are the things that make life worth living.
As for your queries:
1. If Billy Corgan died in '94 instead of Kurt Cobain, would MTV have been running "The Smashing Pumpkins, 10 Years Later" retrospectives this summer?
A: No, his retrospective would only run on MTV2. Had Corgan died, it would have been a bigger deal than Shannon Hoon, but still way smaller than Cobain. Plus, in the spring of '94, the Pumpkins had only released "Gish" and "Siamese Dream," and these were not iconic records. "Siamese Dream" is very good, and the songs were absolutely everywhere, but it did not become a definitive sonic backdrop for the national aesthetic. When people hear the first nine seconds of "Smells Like Teen Spirit," they immediately associate those chords with that specific cultural era; when people hear the first nine seconds of "Today," they often think to themselves, "Is this 'Cherub Rock'?"
2. Poker: simple fad or something with legs?
A: This "poker thing" caught me completely by surprise. I think it probably has some staying power, because the kind of people who like watching poker on TV are inevitably going to try to play the game themselves, and gambling is addictive, and addictive things never lose popularity. It would be kind of like if ESPN started broadcasting competitive angel dust smoking.
3. Where do you stand on Red Sox fans? Do you care?
A: Pedro Martinez is my favorite player in MLB, so I suppose I am a Red Sox fan; I just don't have that much invested in the franchise, and I hate Ben Affleck. When the BoSox got beat by the Yankees last fall, my friend Michael lost his mind and wandered the streets of Manhattan for several hours. When he finally returned from his exodus, he very casually said, "I'm fine. It's OK. I just understand things now. This is just proof than there is no higher power, and that goodness will never overcome evil, and that there is no valid reason to believe in anything, because the universe craves darkness and despises light. So, I'm totally OK." I found this sentiment somewhat troubling. What I love about Red Sox fans is their sense of doomed destiny; they almost want to lose, because that failure is romantic. This is far different from, say, Minnesota Vikings fans, as they always believe -- and I mean always -- that this is the year. And it never is, and it never will be.
4. What's your favorite sports movie of all-time?
A: Crazy you should ask this: This afternoon on ESPN Classic, they just showed "Rocky III." Now, this is not my favorite sports movie of all-time, but it prompts an important question: If Rocky Balboa had been a real person, which bout would boxing historians consider his finest hour? I assume it would be Balboa-Creed II, because the fight against the Russian would always be shrouded in controversy. It definitely would not be his fight against Mr. T, since I suspect Clubber Lang would be remembered as an angrier version of Buster Douglas.
I am 99.9 percent certain we have the same favorite sports movie. There really only seems to be one valid answer to that question.
|You think you've had a hard life? It's nothing compared to Kelly Taylor's.|