18 April 2010

April, Come She Will

A.D. Freudenheim, The Editor
Miscellaneous Notes from The Month of Lions to Lambs

Woods, 0; Ali, 1

“Today’s sports stars? Maybe they have it too easy, maybe the world isn’t tough enough, and they don’t think there’s much they need to do. Tiger Woods, of famously mixed ethnic heritage, is happy to play at the Masters and ignore the protests that the private, all-male golf club should change its policies and admit women – but does not seem to have the courage to say what he presumably believes: that because the club is private it is under no legal obligation to admit women, and that is OK with him. (Nor has there been any acknowledgment on his part that these were the same arguments used to restrict access to the club by someone like him, i.e., someone who was not white.)”

The above quote is from an essay I wrote back in 2003, about the impoverished state of contemporary sports starts -- impoverished in the sense that they seem to have no broader soul, no devotion to using their fame or wealth to support the greater common good. Muhammad Ali was and is one of my greatest heroes precisely because he understood that his visibility as an athlete gave him a platform—and he felt compelled to use it, even if it meant that sometimes his comments affected his career.

Seven years later, the situation is only more depressing. Tiger Woods was back playing in the Masters again. At a club that still doesn't accept women. After himself being revealed as some kind of sex-crazed misogynist who - still! despite the scratches on his squeaky clean image! - has not shown any inclination to get involved in helping the world in any way. Instead, it's just about when he can be rehabilitated enough to have his next Nike commercial taken seriously. And thanks, Jimmy Kimmel, for driving the point home.


Does This Rule Really Hold Any More?

I was having dinner recently, at a casual place on the Upper West Side - by myself, prepping for a board meeting. Two young women, a good decade younger, sat down at the table next to me. Tightly squeezed in, and me without a conversation partner, eavesdropping was inevitable. Both are in grad school, one uptown and one downtown. Uptowner is good looking, the kind you figure is an A student, a TA, and has a steady boyfriend. Downtowner is less so, and no wonder: she says, over and over by way of explaining why she's been out of touch, “My life is so boring.”

Downtowner is doing film studies. Then she says “I'm writing a lot of movie reviews.” Uptowner smiles. “For free,” says Downtowner. “But you know, I figure if I keep doing it, I can raise my profile enough that someone will hire me eventually.”

Uptowner looks skeptical, and keeps her face focused on her plate of hummus with fava beans.


Best Part of My Week

Unless you've been living under a rock, it would be hard to miss the months worth of breaking news about the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, and the ham-handed way in which said Church has addressed the problem. (See Maureen Dowd for two good summaries.)

My friend, the writer and blogger Mary K. Valle, has also been writing about the Church and its (shall we say) challenges, and recently coined the term "Pontifigate" to describe the situation. It's a brilliant construction on three levels -- and such creativity needs to be widely shared and respected.

Who better to provide a de facto endorsement than noted Expert John Hodgman? We succeeded. Mary has a recap of the whole thing here.


Blogger Rolls Over, Plays Dead

Blogger, the Google-owned blogging interface I have been using the last few years to manage my two websites (do I have to call them blogs?), is giving up on "FTP" publishing as of May 1st. Whether you know what FTP is or not, the short version of this is that: it's a bloody pain in the ass, and would mean that continue using Blogger, I have to switch all my content to Google's servers. I like Google, generally speaking, but there are a variety of reasons why I don't want to hand over my content to their servers, not the least of which is the near-impossibility of getting an actual Googler on the phone whenever problems arise. I like my web hosting company, mia.net; I like their personal service and their attentiveness and the fact that I actually know they're real people. If Google had offered an option to pay for FTP functionality, I might have taken it. They didn't, so I can't.

All of which means: it's quite likely that my writing may slow down even further over the next few weeks, while I work with mia.net to figure out an alternative, easy-to-use blog publishing tool. Bear with me. I hope to be back to Pontifigating soonest.