When too much is too much

I know, I know, it’s beyond the realm of comprehension that major strirrings involving FD idols could go down and we’d have nothing for you. I’m speaking, of course, of Killa’s bid for KONY and Ron Ron taking his “misunderstood and difficult” rating well past T.O. levels. In a brighter age, this blog might have been awash with tales of purple-plated cities and a QB headcase who had the league by the throat. But today catches me feeling something like

So stop reading right here if you’re expecting me to stick with the FreeDarko party line I have in the past so craftily hewn.

First with the trivial. I was up in the air when I first heard "You Got It," not in the least because I’ve never really cared that much about Jay-Z. To hopelessly overstate someting Ian pointed out, over the last twenty-four months, the blog gang has transformed Cam into nothing less than the rightful heir to Starks Enterprises, with the added plus of meaningful cred. Quoth my brother: “Jay may be the most popular rapper from New York, but Cam’s the most popular in New York.” This was a career-defining move by the artist who all those enamored of style—whether they be urban or suburban, real or virtual, white or black, paper or plastic—had to get behind. I went to sleep that night convinced that this was a banner moment for the FreeDarko cause, and that, What the Game's Been Missing or no What the Game’s Been Missing, our options were fine, inscrutable, and absolutely essential.

When I went to the grocery store the next morning, I felt something draining in my ear. I tried in vain to rally my internal security forces, but it was gone. Cam was going to war, but not for me. Then I read the afore-linked Sexy Results! post, which made word that which I had merely intuited: this was a lame-ass stunt that had nothing to do with “the Movement” and everything to do with standard-issue rap posturing. Instead of insisting that madness could reign supreme, Killa was abandoning the very expectations that kept him on our pedestal. He could’ve proved us right once and for all (in making him the figure we did), but round one of fifteen took all that subcultural capital and turned it into so much elegant cannon fodder. I listened to Purple Haze in the car yesterday, and already it seemed less a self-contained art object and more a joint effort, a simpler time when thousands joined hands to imagine the Dips into righteousness.

I generally hide the fact that I was once a practicing music writer; what happened above was to stave off the pain of inevitably addressing Artest for a few minutes longer. A minute or so into this season, I dropped this gem of a post that, once and for all, spelled out the magnitude of the Association’s least quantifiable public figure. Not only was Artest bent up in the headpiece, he was the ultimate fuck you back at the hoops purists who, like people in Kansas, constantly remind me just how far to the left I am in the grand scheme (of politics and/or NBA criticism). No personality and barely a brain, but Ron Ron utterly defied everything we thought we knew about today's organized basketball. How could I ever have anticipated that my “Artest for MVP” cries would end up impossibly dead-on; while sidelined, Artest has kept the entire league in a holding pattern, with all transactions and most second-half strategies dependant on where he ends up and when.

When it happened the first time, the Kings trade was nothing to me. I’ll say it again: there’s not enough going on there for even Artest to build and destroy. Solid team, a smidgeon of attitude and image, marginal playoff chances. . . at least Ron Ron to the Spurs would have torn the world in two. Sactown would be the worst kind of exile for this man, whose work consists in equal parts of calamity and devotion. The Kings, my friend, neither accept nor reject the both of them.

Bring it back. The trade gets nixed, Artest and agent throw out all sorts of equivocating yang about their strong preferences that would in no way affect TW’s ability to wax professional anywhere in the league, Hunter gets involved, and before you know it, Artest has the one thing that’s kept him from coming off as a dick: power. Up until that very moment, dude was like the weather was to the modern American farmer; feared and respected, but never granted intentionality. Artest couldn’t help himself, and the rest of God’s green basketball force had to take proper precautions, stand back, and hope for a lush rainy season instead of rock-filled mudslide. As a rule, trade demands stink of selfishness and the weak, but in Artest's case, it had initially been a fairly sensible part of recovery, Good Ron's attempt to distance himself from—and get all preventive on—the ghost of his inner Brawl. Now, though, Artest was getting picky about redemption and showing himself in full, scheming control of his troublemaking. For the first time, it was impossible to not think of him as a manipulator, a spoiled, unsympathetic lout rather than the warped basketball genius we’d always imagined him to be. That the deal eventually went through hardly undid the damage; having reared the scabrous, disingenuous head we'd always thought he lacked, Artest was now just another disgruntled market force.

You could say that this was Artest’s folly truly overtaking the league, to the point of actively brokering deals where before it had merely factored into them with great force and permanence. That, though, misses what was so crucial before: Artest stood apart from himself along with us, watching the tide go by and asking sane questions. Those days are long gone, and with it, that sense of belonging. Not of Artest to us; like with Cam, we can always look back at what we said and how well we said it. But us belonging to Artest, really being a part of his world as he shared in our wonderment—that’s as dead and gone as Cam riding into battle on a horse named Style.

In case this post has broken your wings and made you long for when FreeDarko thanked its gods with help and random noise, Thurl wanted to pass along this one-time FD favorite that we first blessed you with so far back in last February that Thurl was yet unknown to us (though DLIC was aboard). Listen, love, appeal, and then join us again in this solemn, solemn hour.


At 1/25/2006 7:45 PM, Blogger Ian said...

Round of applause. Fantastic tie-in of Cam and Ron-Ron. Fuck a Klosterman.

At 1/25/2006 8:19 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

ian, fantastic tie-in of "fuck a klosterman."

At 1/25/2006 10:36 PM, Blogger Ian said...

"I get Ron Artest!" Damn...you should've posted that track every week.

At 1/26/2006 10:42 AM, Anonymous T. said...

I realize that it's part of the FreeDarkoness to not really be timely with NBA news - since it's more of a meta-NBA cultural commentary blog, rather than a "hey this just happened in the NBA, here's our witty take on it" blog, however, can it really go 4 days without comment about Isiah Thomas groping a woman and referencing "Love and Basketball?"

Seriously? Omar Epps?

By the way, Cam'Ron has nothing on KRS-One. The Bridge is Over.

(Shoals - I'm crafting an email to you now - I was busy celebrating our 14th win of the year).

At 1/26/2006 12:01 PM, Anonymous T. said...

By the way, Ron Artest has inspired my dad to buy tickets to the Kings for once in his life, instead of relying on my freebies.

At 1/26/2006 12:48 PM, Anonymous eights of piff said...

mr. giles a la chuck b. himself would be the first tell you he ain't no role model (and he ain't no rapper either). the touchstone for cam's universal appeal is his olympian hauightiness towards those not wit the dips, thus his influence does not diminish as his the quality of his artistic output decreases. and T while i effs with BDP and the blastmaster... he is in truth even cockier than Cam (if that's possible) as every interview/show i've seen with him, he vastly overestimates his own contribution to hip-hop...if I hear that "come to the south bronx to see the birthplace issht" ima puke

At 1/26/2006 12:58 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i just want isiah to disappear. he's wrecked the knicks, and his recklessness has destabilized gm'ing leaguewide. he's far too dire a fact for me to laugh at at this point, even to keep from crying. . . once he's deposed, i can get on with appreciating how funny his reign was, and hopefully, a wealth of details of his opposite-sex-directed goofery. because if a man believes that "love and basketball" is the way to a woman's heart, god only knows what else he's capable of.

At 1/26/2006 2:30 PM, Blogger SilverBird5000 said...

great post.
so, if Artest is Kinski, who's Bruno S.? is it Darko? or is that too obvious.

At 1/26/2006 9:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Get Buckets Brigade is moving to Minnesota!

At 1/27/2006 12:18 AM, Blogger elandfried said...

OK, now I'm starting to wonder about Danny Ainge...Wally and Olowokandi? That's better than Ricky Davis and Blount? Does Ainge just think that white players will be inherently successful in Boston? Not to mention the fact that Delonte West looks like a leprechaun. Yuck.

At 1/27/2006 9:58 AM, Blogger Ian said...

$2 million to bail out Isiah Rider? Where's Zeke when you need him?

At 1/29/2006 10:39 PM, Blogger billikenbluff said...

I saw Ron Artest's father at a Knicks Pacers game at the Garden. He was dressed in a St. Johns warm up suit and had a jaw that seemed to be cut out of granite. He looked like a bad bad man.


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