12.11.2008

Blanketstein



Off the road, finally. Still not home yet, but I got to sit down this morning and think no Macrophenomenal thoughts. By the way, for all of you lamenting my long absence: You could try checking out the Sporting Blog. Not quite the same absurdist overtones, but I get my licks in, and I have been constantly churning out material there throughout this long, fun ordeal. Like today, you can find my reaction to that joint-popping Suns/Cats trade.

So many memories, so many faces, so many photos and media that we may or may not post up here in the future. Yes, KGB Radio night, I'm talking primarily about you. I've also watched hardly a game these last few weeks, so bear with me as I try and muster up a post to prove that yes, I still belong to you, you belong to me, and in heaven no one will tear us apart.

Of all the conversations I had multiple times on the road, none was more poignant, or tricky for me, than the Jordan Farmar one. Apparently, a lot of loyal FD readers, and semi-interested Jews, didn't realize Farmar was of the faith, or the people, or whatever the least PC nomenclature imaginable is these days. Now mark my words, I know the way things work, and have no interest in denying Farmar his full spectrum of cultural heritage. But—and this is more about our society than my own feelings—I don't think Farmar reads as Jewish, on at least two levels. For one, there's the Obama principle. Our real life FBP also happens to be half Heartland, and yet that other half is what defines him. Perhaps because of the context, Farmar is more likely to be recognized as "mixed" (which, of course, still ends up being primarily about black blood), but his Judaism is a technicality, or at least not readily apparent, even if he claims it quite regularly.



And that brings me to the second, really tacky, element of this analysis: Race and style. Once upon a time, the likes of Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax has to prove that Jews could outman (quite literally) their gentile brethren. Around the same time, in New York a generation of Chosen Kids were defining basketball as a sneaky, shifty urban game that played into all sorts of stereotypes. Sound familar? Farmar's game is squarely in that first category. He has ups, maneuvers with ease, and conveys a certain sense of equilibrium. Personally, I no longer feel the need to prove that Jews can be mighty and proficient in traditional ways. Perhaps it's the ghost of cultural stuidies, or the influence of Woody Allen on the paths of comets, but—and in some ways, this relates to what Kevin Pelton told me about the WNBA—I would want to see a player who played, well, Jew-y. In the same way that certain players are perceived as having a "blacker" style than others.

What would that game be? I'm not quite sure. I could trot out some stereotypes, but that wouldn't actually get to the heart of what I think is a very real discussion to be had. I've long been obsessed with other countries producing new strains of style; Spaniards like Rudy Fernandez, and established guys like Barbosa and Manu, are the proof of this. Has our own country become more fractured by identity politics than it has united by mass consumer culture?



This is where I would insert the video of the time several early FD operatives played a full-court game against a van full of Hasids in Maine. They thought I was a showboat, which apparently there's a word for in Yiddish. It's been lost forever, though, so instead I will open the floor, and ask if anyone knows whether Doug Moe is Jewish.

BONUS: Gordon Gartrelle with a close reading of the Vince/Obama tee.

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18 Comments:

At 12/11/2008 12:57 PM, Blogger jawaan oldham said...

I was always under the impression that Doug Moe was a goy, and I think the reason I'm under that impression was that it was a surprise when I heard that.

 
At 12/11/2008 2:14 PM, Blogger Aaron said...

I wanted to bring up your comments on the Suns trade. J-Rich will more than fill Bell's 3-point shooting shoes and he can't be much worse defensively. Bell has really lost a step with his perimeter D and his shot was very inconsistent. While I'm not saying J-Rich is an amazing defender, he will be solid as a weak-side defender. Also, don't underestimate having a dirt worker in Dudley that will bring it every night unlike Boris.

 
At 12/11/2008 2:44 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

had

 
At 12/11/2008 2:49 PM, Blogger Hoon said...

i'd guess that our mass consumer culture has been fractured by identity politics, thus affecting our national cultural identity to reflect said fracturing. what did pelton say about the wnba? that we want to see women who play womanly? does that desire only apply to the women watching?

 
At 12/11/2008 4:31 PM, Blogger enoogs said...

Shoals - I think I might've been wrong about the Moe-man. After all, he's not listed on here: http://www.jewishhoopstars.com/directory.html

I just assumed MOT-ness after my old man's anecdote about playing HORSE with him in the Catskills. Live and learn. Sorry I missed you in Red Hook the other night, impromptu company holiday party - mandatory attendance. Nice to meet you at the Varsity Letters event.

Does Larry Brown meet the stereotype for jews of his generation? Began an idealistic, yet studied, rabble-rouser. Has turned into a conservative (zionist) whose zeal for Tradition™ (the right way) upends his own apple cart.

 
At 12/11/2008 4:54 PM, Blogger Jeremy said...

http://www.myjewishlearning.com/blog/general/jordan-farmar-and-the-jews/

 
At 12/11/2008 7:29 PM, Blogger El Presidente said...

Nothing to say of Melo's 33 in the 3rd? Think about it for a second. 12 minutes, 33 points (with only 45 for the game).

wv: unesin - How the Suns used to play.

 
At 12/11/2008 7:34 PM, Blogger T. said...

@ Jeremy - Hating on Farmer? I think Shoals is talking a lot more about the perception of Farmer as a Jew - which has a lot less to do with Farmer and a lot more about the general populace.

You're going to have to explain how that's "hating on"

 
At 12/11/2008 7:46 PM, Blogger tray said...

As is the case with a lot of vague, allusive cultural commentary I see around nowadays, I have absolutely no clue where you're going with this. Granted, Farmar doesn't read as ethnically Jewish; as a guy whose last name is Steinberg, I don't identify with him anymore than I do with Kobe. (Actually, there's something Jewish about Kobe.) The fact that he goes to synagogue is cool and all, but it doesn't make me feel any pride in the athletic achievements of Jews, because yeah, the guy's half-black, and when people say Jews can't play basketball, they're not talking about those lost tribe dudes in Nigeria. So fair enough. But to say you want to see the success of someone who "played, well, Jew-y" - what the hell does that even mean, and why would you want to see it? I mean, Jon Scheyer has a very stereotypical Jewish gymrat style to his game. (Of course, so does Chris Quinn, which is to say, there's nothing specifically Jewish about the 'Jew-y' game.) But why exactly you'd want to see a Scheyer-type in the league, I don't know. What would be so great about a Jewish kid coming into the league and confirming the stereotype of Jewish players as unathletic guys who make up for their lack of athleticism with their big Jewish brains, 'craftiness,' basketball-camp-honed shooting ability, and even, perhaps, a Jewish lawyer-like approach to working the refs? Maybe he could even shoot a set shot and wear Chucks. Maybe even rep the Jewish style to the fullest and sport huge sideburns. I think if anything this would be an unfortunate development. Just as some of those "players [who] are perceived as having a "blacker" style than others" negatively color whites' perceptions of blacks, it wouldn't do Jews a favor to have a stereotypically "Jew-y" player being the face of Jewishness in the NBA.

 
At 12/11/2008 10:05 PM, OpenID dantecubit said...

If you haven't seen it, it's Darkotime. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SguBaDSLFd0

 
At 12/11/2008 10:13 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Where did the "gym rat" part come from?

And obviously I'm imagining a player who wouldn't bore the fuck out of me.

 
At 12/11/2008 10:19 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

By the way, way to not correct, or criticize, me for accidentally saying that Koufax was a contemporary of Greenberg and Jewish city ball.

 
At 12/11/2008 10:21 PM, Blogger Aaron said...

First of all, I want it clear that I'm not the same Aaron who posted earlier on this thread.

I still wonder if I wasn't wrong about Farmar's tattoos being the problem, the overt adoption of an un-Jewish marker. I honestly can't imagine it being a serious issue for the culturally Jewish ball fans I know, but maybe I'm wrong.

The number one Jewish athlete these days, I think, is Shawn Green. Not in terms of ability, but in terms of visibility.

Look at Green. Assimilated Jew, no visible Jewish look. His 'game' isn't Jewish in any way. He's been totally adopted into the mainstream.

He carries a Jewish name, skips the game on World Series, does everything Hank Greenberg told us a Jew has to do. Whenever he's had control of his playing destiny, he's gravitated to an area where Jews gathered (I recall him citing LA's Jewish community as part of his reason for signing there). It's about Jewish identity without Jewish identifiability.

I don't know where I'm going with this at all. Maybe the conclusion is that Farmar's problem is the opposite of what we've imagined. Maybe his Israeliness is threatening to American Jews who aren't comfortable with the way Jewishness is integrated into Israeli Jewish identity as a fundamental component.

 
At 12/11/2008 10:56 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

I would just like to add how ironic it is that today, when Jews can afford to not make assimilation a priority, it's possible in the context of basketball to see blackness as hegemonic.

Now, back to the last hour of "Hannibal," a great American work.

 
At 12/12/2008 2:32 PM, Blogger DP@WFNY said...

I have nothing deep to add, other than I really like the screen cap of the "Jack Frost" movie. Not the one with Michael Keaton, mind you, but you went the extra mile and got the one from the movie about the serial killer snowman. Kudos.

 
At 12/12/2008 8:55 PM, OpenID tredecimal said...

forgive me for the randomness, but i know of nowhere else to ask...has anyone else tried on the Air Flight Lite reisshes and found them not lacking, but actually a little too LITERALLY..fat? Granted, it's been almost 15 years since I suited up in them, but I remember those things as being preternaturally light and those things in the mall were not...

wv: xyhess- crossover questioned, health services

 
At 12/13/2008 10:54 AM, Blogger W2 said...

Farmar is one of those guys who I sort of hate (as a Celtics fan must) but secretly wish played for us.

Kind of like Jorge Posada.

I am uncertain that my interest in him stems from any "jew-ness" in his game....I can't imagine what that would be either. But I enjoy the post and the question all the more for it.

 
At 12/13/2008 11:08 AM, Blogger W2 said...

PS Shoals,

How does your jew neww come out into your posts or your style or swag or general approach to reality.

If you can't drop the stereotypes on Farmar perhaps you can drop them onto yourself.

A former sociology instructor told me that it was fundamentally wrong to judge or make fun of anyone from a group that you do not belong to. Fucking self-righteous-know-it-all WASP.

 

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