Harvey Pekar, author of the comic book series American Splendor, died Monday at the age of 70. He had been battling cancer and severe depression for many years. His stories, many of which were illustrated by R. Crumb, detailed the grim, day-to-day lives of ordinary working people. The way he wrote about the mundane drew comparisons to such literary giants as Anton Chekov. R. Crumb said this about Mr. Pekar in 1994: “He’s the soul of Cleveland. He’s passionate and articulate. He’s grim. He’s Jewish. I appreciate the way he embraces all that darkness.”
Despite swearing up and down that I would not tune in for ESPN’s one-hour “Decision” special, Thursday night I still somehow found myself huddled around the television awaiting what I felt was the obvious resolution of what had been one of the most over-hyped and narcissistic off-court spectacles in the history of sports: Lebron was staying with the Cavs. I figured that most of the show would be filled in with footage of James visiting his high school gym, one of the nine or ten hovels he lived in growing up in Akron, the locker room at Quicken Loans arena, etc. It’d be sentimental and trite, but it’d be a furthering of his image of the homegrown savior that he and his handlers have so skillfully crafted over the last seven years. However it played out, I was convinced that he was staying Cleveland. Because the idea that Lebron James and his coterie of hangers-on could possibly, in good conscience and with sound business sense, orchestrate an elaborate and painfully awkward nationally televised one-hour special only to announce that he would be leaving Cleveland was, I thought, unthinkable. It just seemed too cruel, too oblivious–not to mention, just too damn stupid. I realize that athletes and other celebrities are often deluded and self-absorbed, but this—teasing along your hometown fans for weeks and weeks, having them hang on every rumor, to then turn around broadcast the betrayal—just didn’t seem at all possible. So, I watched, though uncomfortably, confident that I already knew what would happen.
But then, after what seemed like an eternity of inane softball questions from whatever is left of Jim Gray’s credibility came the words: “I’m taking my talents to South Beach.” Stunned.
[guest blog by M. Scott]
“I spoil a lot of people with my play. When you have a bad game here or there, you’ve had three bad games in a seven-year career, then it’s easy to point that out.”
I’m not a Cavs fans and I don’t like LeBron. And I certainly didn’t like his comments after the Celtics embarrassed him and his team on their home court Tuesday night. It really just adds to my distaste for all things Cleveland. So you’d think I’d be enjoying this. Unfortunately, I’m not.
The only thing more infuriating than Mike Brown’s illogical and seemingly random substitution decisions is reading articles and blog posts criticizing LeBron’s “commitment” or his “passion for the game” by people who just a week prior were lining up to shine his, uh, shoes. These writers and bloggers and fans have spent the past few years lauding the man, extolling the many virtues of his game, calling him the “King,” and now, when the chips are down, want to turn on him, do an about-face, and question his desire to win, his ability to come through in the clutch? As far as the sportswriters are concerned, it’s just hack journalism–just trying to stir up controversy. For the fans, though, well, that’s classic Cleveland for you: short-sighted and without class. FIY: Not a good idea to boo the man that’s made your city relevant again a few weeks before his impending free-agency. With fans like that, why would he ever want to leave for New York?
“The wolf is made the way the world is made. You cannot touch the world. You cannot hold it in your hand for it is made of breath only.”