Friday, April 11, 2014

Ten Points on Chief Wahoo

10) Something is different this year. Never in 38 years of Cleveland fandom have I seen so much written and said about Chief Wahoo on such a broad scale, and it hasn't subsided the way it usually does after the Indians home opener. The reason? Wait for point #2.

9) Part of the reason is that, prior to the start of the season, the Cleveland Plain Dealer came out against Wahoo. Finally. Some have called it an empty gesture. Maybe, but I'll go with 'better late than never' for Cleveland's most prominent daily paper.

8) As usual, Wahoo has his legion of ardent defenders. Right now you can find them massing at a Facebook page called Keep Chief Wahoo. Check it out, if you care to sample some of their rhetoric.

7) Speaking of rhetoric, here are some highlights that have been directed at yours truly:

Classy: I love Chief Wahoo, you effing creep. When I walk to the stadium past the protesters I finger that love right in their faces.

Patriotic: Gouge your eyes out, plug your ears, sit on your hands, and stop whining. An American soldier died so that you could have the right to your opinion. But, if something else is bothering you... don't let the door hit you in the ass, leave the country, see what happens when you bitch elsewhere

Confusing: you think Chief Wahoo is racist, but you support Gay marriages? How sick are YOU? What an a-hole!

I've also been called the 'PC Police,' 'libtard' and the 'Liberal PC Taliban.' And yet I'm probably like a lot of fans who don't like Wahoo. That is to say: I like to watch baseball and drink beer. And that probably makes me like a lot of fans who do like Wahoo. So, before dropping your next ad hominem comment, whatever position on the issue you take, consider that the person on the receiving end is probably pretty OK, and likely just wants to get down to talking about baseball.

That said, when you see that sophomoric radio loudmouths like Bob Frantz and Chuck Booms are on the opposite side of the issue, that's how you know you're on the side of Right.

6) If the team was new, Major League Baseball would never sanction the name Cleveland Indians or the Wahoo mascot, just like it would never sanction Cleveland Negroes and Chief Sambo:

Cleveland Negroes - Not OK

Cleveland Indians - Somehow OK

5) One of the most common defenses of Wahoo you hear is 'It's just a CARTOON!' Well, that cartoon is a product of the 1940s, just like this cartoon. If you don't think they come from the same tradition of dehumanization, you are fooling yourself.

4) Hall of Fame outfielder Larry Doby, the first African American player in the American League, the man whom is often cited as an example of how progressive the Indians have been in their history, once likened Chief Wahoo to 'minstrel shows.'

3) The Cleveland Indians have long maintained that the name Indians and the Wahoo mascot are meant to honor Louis Sockalexis, a member of the Penobscot Nation who played for the Cleveland Spiders from 1897-1899. Even if that story were true (it is not), the Penobscot Nation formally requested that the team stop using the Wahoo mascot in 2000. Their resolution was adopted by the Maine state legislature in 2009. The team has upheld this tradition of honor by ignoring the resolution.

2) By now you've seen this picture, taken by Cleveland Frowns on opening day, of Indians fan Pedro Rodriguez and Native American Robert Roche, who has been protesting Wahoo since the 1970s.


This photo was presaged with startling accuracy in 2002:


The Roche/Rodriguez encounter is a game changer, and has exploded the issue on a truly national level. And you have to wonder if the redfacers, in their determination to celebrate the mascot, have unwittingly hastened its demise. Because, seriously, what is the difference?:

Not OK

Somehow OK

Not OK

Somehow OK
1) This issue has become an embarrassment to the Dolan family, the team and the city. It really doesn't matter how emphatically the pro-Wahoo crowd insists that 'it's about baseball' and 'tradition,' because no amount of baseball or tradition can excuse an almost 70-year-old visual slur.

1-A) When the team re-brands, and it will, I plan to put my money where my mouth is by buying tickets and a piece of merchandise that I can be proud to let my son wear. My son, who is half Venezuelan and certainly has Native American blood in his veins.

Change the logo.

And change the name while you're at it.

Get more on Wahoo from:

Cleveland Scene

Waiting for Next Year

The New York Times

Keith Olbermann

Uni Watch

Welcome to Falling Rock National Park

Idle Musings

Special thanks to Cleveland Frowns for the use of the photo and the relentless energy devoted to this cause.

#DeChief

nwb

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I Got Them CCCC Blues

I always spend a day or two in a state of discombobulation when my sometimes-pregnant wife goes out of town. My bad, I suppose, for marrying someone so brilliant and beautiful. This time, she'll be gone for five days, thanks much to the blasted Conference on College Composition and Communications, which has the nerve to take place every goddam year.

When I need a cure for the CCCC blues, I turn to a picture, taken on her 30th birthday, which we celebrated in Bordeaux in the year of our Lord twenty and aught-seven.


Throbbing with energy, passion, scepters, orbs and frenzied horses, this is undoubtedly the best picture I've taken in my life. I cannot unlock for you the many mysteries secreted herein; just know that this shot represents the lone instance in which my sometimes-mystical wife's magical powers have been captured on film. I do not know what was communicated from wife to horse and horse to wife via rainbow connection, and anyways I doubt that my feeble, unmagical brain could ever fully understand.

All I know is that, as an artist, this was my finest hour. Is it too much to call it the greatest photograph of all time? I submit that it is not.

nwb

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

This Is the Kind of Shit That Doesn't Happen before Having Kids

A few days ago I purchased $90 worth of groceries, placed the bags and the McBonerito into the shopping cart and made for the parking lot. After securing the kid in the McBonemobile, I climbed in, fired the engine and headed home.

Not until pulling into the driveway of McBone Outpost #1353 did I realize that the groceries were not in the car, but in a cart in the middle of the Shop Rite parking lot. After cussing my way back to the store, I found the cart exactly where I had left it ten minutes earlier. There the bags were too, though a scan of the inventory revealed that they had been relieved of several items. What remained (dish detergent, steel wool, onion), would not get us through the week.

No one to blame but myself, but the level of distraction is alarming. After all, there were only two things to remember:

1) Kid

2) Groceries

But then parental fatigue is a curious narcotic. Curious, in that it comes with a stimulating component, and just when you think you can't keep up with it all, you do. You feel as though you could take a nap at any time of the day, and yet you are strangely more alert than you have ever been. You accept that it will sometimes cost you $90 in groceries, because the tradeoff is that you aren't going to forget the kid.

But I do find myself wondering what the fuck is going to happen when this guy* arrives in July:


I suppose we'll wait and see. Until then, I'll pop open a beer and toast myself on one small victory: I did not forget the kid.

As for you, thief...cheers! I hope you enjoy the 3-pound English-cut roast, bottle of Pinot Noir, six-pack of Atwater Pilsner, olive medley and assorted nuts, among other delicacies I can't remember.

nwb

*If you ever read this post, kiddo, know that, when I placed my hand on your mother's belly today, I felt you kick for the first time.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The State of Cleveland Sports, Dark Skies Edition

Let me preface this happy rainbow of a post by noting that this year marks the 50th anniversary of Cleveland's last championship.

Browns

They're about to hire someone named Pettine to be the face of the next couple of 4-12 campaigns.

Cavaliers

They have a coach who preaches defense and a point guard who tries to shoot his team to victory.

Indians

They have a racist name and a mascot to match, casting a pall upon the city and all its beloved teams.

In memoriam:

The Cleveland Browns - 1964 NFL Champions
 
nwb

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Dreading 2014

I have but one resolution for the year 2014: be a kinder, more compassionate, less judgmental person.

Except when it comes to these shitheads:


White guys with dreadlocks are the worst people in the world.  Worse than the Koch brothers.  Worse than Stalin.  George Carlin asserted that white men should never, ever sing the blues.  I get where he's coming from, though I respectfully disagree.  To my mind, a far more egregious crime is the obnoxious white guy who has the colossal gall to wear dreadlocks.  You want proof that white people are the absolute worst, that nothing is sacred, that we have to appropriate every fucking last thing, no matter how lame we make it?  Here you go:


Piss on you, white guys with dreadlocks.

Everyone else, I love you and happy 2014!

nwb

Friday, November 1, 2013

Some Holiday Cheer, Walmart Style

Today is the day that the additional SNAP allocation runs out, as that provision from the 2009 federal stimulus package expires.  That's devastating news for people struggling to feed themselves and their families.  The Greater Lansing Food Bank reports that demand has not waned through the economic recovery.

Though this cut in funding should please the people with an eagle eye for the single mother with a smartphone who is buying a carton of cigarettes, the fact is wages are low, the weather is turning, and people are facing the very real choice of paying their utilities or buying groceries.

Some would argue that a government lifeline translates into a loss of freedom and an disincentive to work hard.  Freedom is great, but practically speaking it has very little nutritional value.  Since we can't have people going hungry:

Donate to the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank here.

Donate to the Cleveland Food Bank here.

Donate to the Greater Lansing Food Bank here.

Oh, and just for fun, here's the net worth of several members of the Walton family, America's biggest latter-day plantation owners:

Christy Walton & Family - $35.4B

Jim Walton - $33.8B

Alice Walton - $33.5B

S Robson Walton - $33.3B

Four Americans from one family worth nearly $140B, and there are still more Waltons among the richest 400, according to Forbes.  I wonder how many of their employees stand to have their food assistance reduced today.

nwb

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

McBone Presents: The 2013-14 Cavaliers Season Preview

I don't have much time, so this will be brief.  Mike Brown is back as Head Coach, and he's got a lot of young, eager, unaccomplished talent to blend with a dose of some very accomplished talent.  Three years in the cellar were enough.  This basketblogger is ready for a return to the playoffs.  Collectively, the team appears to be in great shape following a rigorous offseason workout regime led by its point guard, the exception being their blob of a #1 draft pick.  How will this group fare?  Glad you asked!

Starters

Kyrie Irving - PG: Was an all-star selection last year.  Time for him to play like an all-star this year, by which I mean: guard the ball with purpose and make his teammates better.  We know he can score on anyone.  Can he win 45 games?  Can he win 50?

Dion Waiters - SG: Another canny scorer who needs to defend.  He will, or his minutes will diminish.  Underrated facilitator.  I'd want to see him average 16+ PPG, 4+ assists and get in his opposite number's shirt all game long.

Andrew Bynum - C: Top-shelf talent on both sides of the court.  It now appears he will, indeed, play.  If he stays healthy, we've got ourselves a top 3 center in the league, which alone could be good for a 15-game improvement over last year.  I would not bet my life on him playing 60+ games.

Earl Clark/Alonzo Gee - SF: These are two serviceable forwards who will hearken to Coach Brown's call to defend.  Otherwise, they are keeping the spot warm for whomever replaces them next season's starting three.

Tristan Thompson - PF: Overrated as a defender last year, underrated as a scorer.  Should make the biggest leap of any Cav in his third season.  I've never heard of anyone switching their shooting hand mid-career, but the dude is shooting better from the floor and the stripe.  Weird.

Bench

Anderson Varejao - 6th man: If he and Bynum can stay out of the Cleveland Clinic, the league will have a very hard time dealing with our tandem of centers, both of whom have NBA finals experience.  Elite rebounder.  Perfect Mike Brown big.  Needs to play <28 a="" br="" minutes="" night.="">

Jarrett Jack - G: Tremendous pickup.  Efficient guard who will excel on both ends of the floor and in the locker room.  If he's starting for any extended amount of games, however, that spells trouble.

Earl Clark/Alonzo Gee - SF: see above.

CJ Miles - G/F: Streaky shooter whose defense will improve under Coach Brown.  Strictly a role player whose volume 3s can be an asset or a impediment.

Tyler Zeller - C: Who the hell knows?  Zeller will probably be a proficient backup center, but he was overwhelmed and exhausted last year as a starter.  I'd like to see him playing 16-18 minutes a night.

Anthony Bennett - Rookie PF: A physical freak who will show flashes of the big time scorer/rebounder he will become, as he did in the preseason.  Insanely long arms.  Shoulders a mile wide.  Good instincts, especially on interior passing.  Currently fat.  Will one day justify the #1 pick.

Sergey Karasev - Rookie G: Intriguing mix of athleticism and b-ball acumen.  Not convinced he will ever be much of a defender, but he appears to have a natural shooting stroke to go with good court vision.

Carrick Felix - Rookie G: Played 5 minutes in the preseason, so your guess is as good as mine.  Solid defender, apparently.  Good attitude. 

Matthew Dellavadova - Rookie PG: Not sure what this guy brings, aside from feistiness.  I do not want to see him on the floor, unless we are up 20.

Henry Sims - C: Should be able to carve out a career as a journeyman center.  Another dude I don't want to see playing meaningful minutes.

Coach

Mike Brown: In his second tour of duty with the Cavs, Mike Brown is charged with turning the worst defensive squad in the league into one of the best.  That will be a gradual process that won't be fully realized until next season.  I really don't give a shit about offense this year, as long at we're not squandering 20 point leads and regularly surrendering 110 points.  I'm glad he's back.  Expect some 84-78 losses, and a lot more wins than last year, which leads me to the...

Prediction

This team has many key players with histories of getting injured.  The talent is there.  A relatively healthy year could produce 48 wins.  I predict a slow start, at least one catastrophic injury, a 40-42 record, a 7-8 seed for the playoffs and a hell of a series in the first round, past which they will not advance.  This year is all about next year, but it should be a fun year, nonetheless.

Go CAVS!

nwb

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Magic and Loss

In the winter of 1996, I came back from winter break to find a yellow Post It on my dormitory room door.  The note had been dashed off in the excited hand of my old concert-going comrade, our resident Musicologist.  It read: 'McGraw, do you want to see Lou Reed in concert this Wednesday?'

When you're in college and you have the choice between seeing Lou Reed in concert, which may never happen again, or attending your Survey of Western Civilization class, which will happen four days a week, every week, you very politely give class the middle finger.  On that holy January day, we made the 4.5 hour journey from Athens, OH to Cleveland's Playhouse Square.  Had it been necessary, we would have driven to Mars.

I had no idea what to expect.  Lou was legendarily unpredictable as a performer, but it soon became apparent that he had left his comatose stage days somewhere back in the 1970s.  Lou was loud, his guitar was growling and his band was tight.  He had ditched the clean-cut, short-hair-and-spectacles look of his late '80s New York period for a glorious full-blown mulleted Afro.  He was the only man alive who could have gotten away with this style in 1996.

I don't remember every last detail from the setlist, but he did several numbers from his Set the Twilight Reeling album: Hooky Wooky, New York City Man, Finish Line and the title track.  He tossed in some classics, of course: Dirty Boulevard, Satellite of Love, Sweet Jane.  When at one point he admonished the audience to 'clap in time,' I would have sworn he was glaring right at me.  Notwithstanding my affront to the proceedings, Lou seemed to be having a pretty good time.

And when, in his second encore, the low twang of the most famous bass line in history started, that's when the crowd lost its marbles.  At last the band made its exit.  The curtain fell with the hall echoing 'Louuuuu.'  Had the our rating system existed then, the show would have easily garnered 5.0 McBones.

I never did get to see Lou in concert again, one of the many reasons I count that night among the great blessings of my life.  I'll wager our Musicologist agrees.

Five lessons that Lou Reed taught me:

1) There's more to life than sports.

2) Gender is nonsense.

3) Graduating from college is fun.

4) Drag queens are superheroes.

5) New York is the greatest city in the world.

So here's my sendoff, Lou.  I'm not sure I have anything too profound to say, so I'll just say this:

Good night.

I love you.

I'll miss you.  

Most of all, thanks.  Here's hoping that clipper ship you ordered is waiting.

I wish that I was born a thousand years ago
I wish that I'd sail the darkened seas
On a great big clipper ship
Going from this land here to that
In a sailor's suit and cap
Away from the big city 

Where a man cannot be free
Of all of the evils of this town
And of himself, and those around
Oh, and I guess that I just don't know
Oh, and I guess that I just don't know 


nwb