i am from the heartland of the united states of america
i live in paris but also i go other places, too

i write about all those things when i can and then when i remember i put it on this website so other people can read about it if they want to

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

thoughts on home and 'home' and lebron

yo team

légionnaires with axes
lebron came back to cleveland last week.

i'd love to say that i know exactly how to approach lebron's return, and that my facebook and sports and winter break and suburban upbringing affinity to cleveland has endowed me with an indelible sense of place in which i not only have a finger on the pulse of the city, but am the pulse itself.  i want to hop onto the narrative of current vogue in the national media and say things like cleveland is the next williamsburg and claim this narrative as true.

but i'd be lying to myself and to everyone if i did, because the truth is claiming a city's rebirth by pointing to tremont or ohio city mirrors the san-franciscan-esque blindness to poverty laying just around the corner from the bourgeoisie brewpubs i frequent that i had refuted in respect and solidarity with the texture of my hometown.  this is not to mention that i've spent only about two out of the past thirty six months in cleveland and will be claiming 'turn around, turn around' from another continent, without being eyewitness or contributor to the progress that this city has the potential to accomplish in the coming years.

fuck, man.

that's a horribly guilt-inducing admission.

to begin to tie this into bron's return, a few moments in his essay (which chuck klosterman, normally an idol of mine, actually hated) particularly struck chords with me along similar lines.  when he spoke about forgiving people for burning his jersey, he said this:

"But then you think about the other side. What if I were a kid who looked up to an athlete, and that athlete made me want to do better in my own life, and then he left? How would I react?"

i had crazy pride for lebron when he played in cleveland.  i could point to someone who was one of the best at what he did, and say -- that dude chose to stay in cleveland.  he was born here, and this is where he wants to stay.  then when he left, with apparently no qualms or regrets, to a town that is the complete opposite of everything cleveland, i felt as though the things i'd invested in, the environment in which i'd succeeded and in which i chose to place value -- those were suddenly bankrupt of worth, like i'd been duped into believing in something that wasn't really worth it, and was actually the shitty city that everyone was so quick to remind me it was.

i mean, i left.  i didn't go to ohio state, or even oberlin.  i went out to california, to the allure of a brand name and opportunity.  i don't regret it, and i found it especially parallel to my own experience that bron referenced his time in miami 'like college [was] for other kids.'  but i find myself squeezed and prodded by the challenge-via-theoretical that bron posed in the essay:  "I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get."  i mean, that's speaking to me, yo.  i'm the kid who needs to come to that realization and belief, not just with lip service and sports allegiance but action.  i'm the one that needs to return after college and put in work.

i don't know.  i'm just spit balling.  i guess i mean to say that there's a cool upward trajectory in the city happening, but it's not going to be solved just by sports figures and distanced wayward sons and daughters of the once and to-be prosperous, or by start-ups.  i'll figure it out once i move back there.

confession:  i stopped being actively vitriolic towards lebron after this interview with rachel nichols that was released during the lock out two and half years ago.  i distinctly remember going up to a friend shortly thereafter and saying that lebron was going to have a terrifyingly good year, and there was nothing anybody would be able to do about it.

on a more concrete level, i'm so stoked that the cavs are going to be good this year.  a few notes:
  • as a loyal fan and ticket buyer over the last four years (because ticket prices were through the roof until the '10-'11 season), i feel as though i should be tossed a plane ticket and seats to go to a game.  it sucks to not be in town this year.
  • i'd trade wiggins for love right now.  this puts an nba championship within our reach right away, and puts us in the best position for championships over the next five years.  give me the chance, to perhaps parallel the storming love for wiggins debate happening right now -- even knowing kyrie's potential and to-date achievements, rewind me three years (this is talking strictly basketball, not my augmented emotional attachment to kyrie that makes this difficult to even write) and i'd trade a budding and promising kyrie irving for an in-his-prime rajon rondo IF he were being paired with the best player in the league in his prime.  just as skilled at his position, just as flawed, and just as injury prone.. i'd still do it.  call me crazy.  (editor update september 8 2015 -- past lawrence wtf r u thinking u r crazy) best player in league + top four in his position right now trumps best player + yet unfulfilled promise.  not to say i'm not enamored with andrew wiggins.  dude is outta control. 
  • i love basketball i love sports

so conclusions: 1) i wish i felt more connected with my city and walked the CLE walk as much as i talk its talk.  2) i still identify with the feelings of deep betrayal that came from The Decision.  3) bron coming back places a mandate on talented young people to not leave the city.  4) cavs are going be very good.

here is an excellent article by john hyduk on bron's return and what it means and what it doesn't mean.  here's another short essay by john hyduk that is not sports related but one of my favorite short bits of cleveland writing.

okay, moving on, for now.

kenny, dhruv and i went to toulouse for bastille day, which was very patriotic and fun.  toulouse is a great city.  it's super young and seems to be very happening.  obviously it was a big night to be out and about, but really cool to have a solid bar scene combined with a huge student population.  it's tough to find an american city comparison, just because the architectural differences give the city such a distinctly european vibe.  maybe think boston mixed with berlin with narrower streets and shorter, pinker buildings, if that helps you place it at all.

it's difficult for two americans who speak no french to communicate with a partially deaf frenchman who speaks no english.  that's just going to be a tough situation.  lots of thumbs up's, 'very good's, 'tray beeyen's..  oui?  yes?  no?  parfay.

i finished work at the campsite yesterday.  it went.  i am mad appreciative of having work and being paid, and also thankful that i have the luxury of pursuing work that is more challenging and energizing.  everytime i wanted to complain about that job, i remembered that i had a job... that'll do it, yo.

when the two girls i work with left soon after i started my shift, we made plans to grab a drink.  'worst case,' one said, 'if everything's closed, we'll just go to mcdonald's and get an ice cream or something.'  i laughed.

fast forward to ten pm that night -- we're at mcdonald's and it's packed!  packed, yo.  i got upset when rose and crown started clearing tables while i was still sitting around 1, and all the bars in castelnaudary close at like 9:30 on off nights... NINE THIRTY.

luckily, mcdonald's in france serves beer.  they serve beer, but not chocolate milkshakes.  something is off, here, but, like, not completely off.  maybe something is on.

also, point is, i've managed to make at least a few friends. and significantly fewer folks told me that i had an accent and asked me where i was from at work, which is a cool feeling.  but i still have an accent.  it's fading, slowly but surely.  gotta get the french rhythm into my jaw bone.  it's coming.  but i'm starting to be able to pass more and more as french.  i give myself away when i don't know slight turns of phrases but hop into them too quickly -- saying something like 'trying to get the office into the twenty...one century' without realizing that i don't know how to say twenty first.

my sister left back for the states yesterday.  she's going into high school in a month.  she'll be good.

here are a few things i've been reading lately:

benjamin hoff, 'the tao of pooh', except in french.  pretty dope read.  basic tao principles told through winnie the pooh allegories and interactions.
paris review, fall '13 -- especially jenny orfill's fantastic, fantastic 'magic and dread'.  super dry.  self deprecating in the way only one can deprecate oneself.  hilarious.
collected shorts of faulkner -- especially 'rose for emily,' 'red leaves,' so far.. dude can flat out write.
lorrie moore, 'referential' -- should've read it when it was assigned to me junior year spring. sorry sarah..
roddy doyle, 'box sets' -- a second doyle piece was tossed my way by a good friend.  dug this one.  love doyle's authorial awareness of his protagonist's lack of self-awareness, and the lack of punctuation around dialogue.

that's it for now.  more to come, very soon.

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