Is Stephen Malkmus FreeDarko?

[picture courtesy kevincrumbs]

I haven't done the knowledge, but I'm guessing that the FreeDarko Inner Circle is roughly split into two camps on Pavement's musical output, and I'm not even going to attempt to determine the percentages for his solo and Jicks output. I can only speak for myself, and I'm definitely a fan, and if given a few beers, will expound upon his underappreciated guitar-playing and wordsmithing. And, after reading this incredible interview, you cannot deny that the man knows his hoops and has what is arguably a FreeDarkoist take on the League. I present for your consideration the following excerpts, and you may begin the debate in the comments:

"Fact is there are mostly cool dudes in the NBA. Off the top of my head I'd skip Melo, Baron, Garnett, Artest, Yao, Kobe, Pau, Boozer, Vince Carter, Marion, Brad Miller, Zach Randolph and Jason Kidd if at all possible. Those cats are not my bag."

"I'm pulling for Tyrus though - I really want him to make it. "

"I didn't see it [Tyson Chandler's assault on Pryzbilla], but I'm pretty sure Matt Barnes is also capable of such actions. Or he just blows kisses at the Blazer bench. Barnes is the epitome of punk in today's NBA. No more Laimbeers."

"Gotta put bread on the table, within reason. It's like owning Kobe. Sometimes you gotta do it."

Also, if anyone can find a clip of Malkmus's interview on 120 Minutes from the summer of 1994, I will send you a free t-shirt. That is one of my favorite TV moments of all time. The way he said Lewis Largent's name with such contempt........oh man.

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At 1/15/2009 7:06 PM, Blogger Brendan K said...

In the "Slow Century" DVD it is remarked that Bob and Malkmus bonded over being the rare intersection of college radio nerds and fanatical sports fans.

"Crooked Rain" era Nastanovich sort of feels like the indie rock analog to 2009 Delonte West. Now he owns racehorses in Louisville. I'm not sure any band made me like them with their posthumous middle aged lives more than Pavement.

At 1/15/2009 7:39 PM, Blogger themarkpike said...

At a show in DC, Malkmus referred to a song as "The Caron Butler Blues".

For more of Malkmus' sports-related psyche, check out this link on 17 dots.

Count me in the Malkmus is FreeDarkoist camp.

"A voice coach taught me to sing / He couldn't teach me to love. All of the above."

At 1/15/2009 8:11 PM, Blogger Crabbie said...

As someone who pretty much loathes indie-rock, rock in general, really - I was always able to enjoy Pavement. And a lot of that was because Malkmus seemed to have so many MC traits, especially clever word play and a willingness to dis whoever the fuck he felt like needed calling out. It was always kind of my guilty secret, the Pavement CDs buried behind all the experimental, jazz, and hip-hop stuff.

But yeah, I think he's acceptably FD, for whatever that's ever meant. Not just in his appreciation of the game, but in his musical output (though I haven't heard anything since Pavement broke up). He's also a pretty nice and normal guy from my brief experience and from what I've heard from people who run into him around town.

But I've pretty much given up on Tyrus Thomas at this point. Never say never, but my feeling is that he'll never recover from the Skiles/Del Negro double whammy.

Del Negro's actually kind of fascinating to me, in a car crash kind of way. Has their been a worse coach in the NBA in recent times? Even guys like Lon Kruger, Mike Montgomery, Kevin O'Neill, that guy who tried to make Kidd run the triangle - they all at least seemed like they had an idea of how to run a basketball team. Wrong ideas, but at least ideas.

I'm sure that the Hawks must've had someone as bad or worse at some point in time, or maybe the Bucks.

At 1/15/2009 8:27 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

With the obvious exception of Derrick Rose, every single thing about the Bulls franchise should be burnt to the ground.

Malkmus used to put up these elliptic "Top Ten" lists of NBA players on his site. I never understood what the criteria were, but found them kind of awesome. And in their insistence on individual taste as a governing principle of fandom, I'd say they were pretty FD.

Also, I have a concussion, so fuck everyone who pissed me off in that list post's comments section.

At 1/15/2009 8:28 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Last post's, sorry. I'm too lazy to delete and repost a fixed version of that comment.

At 1/15/2009 8:34 PM, Blogger R. Lobstah said...


Can we add PJ Carlisimo into that list of yours? He deserved what Spree did to him for what he would do to the Super/Thunders. I never saw a player with more ideas of what can be done with the ball have all instinct taken out of what to do with himself as I did watching Durant while coached by PJ.

At 1/15/2009 8:38 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

That picture is of Malkmus shooting a three-pointer, btw. Taken from some guy's Flickr account.

Delonte West is bleeding.

At 1/15/2009 8:42 PM, Blogger Crabbie said...

I think PJ definitely belongs on the horrible coaches list with Kruger et al. But again, he was a guy who seemed like he at least had some ideas about basketball, and organizing a team to play it. Again, these were wrong ideas, but he was at least trying to do something there.

But Del Negro? I mean damn. I'm not a Bulls fan at all and have seen them play maybe three or four games this year, but just from that (and reading stuff on the internet) the guy seems like he just really has no idea what's going on, or what he's doing, or what he could do to an implement a plan on the off-chance he ever got one. Watching those games was just mystifying to me.

PJ was not a good head coach, but at least you were aware that there was a coach, you know?

At 1/15/2009 8:43 PM, Blogger Not So Lonely Planet said...

Apparently he was a hot-shot tennis player when he was a youth.

At 1/15/2009 9:03 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

You're thinking of David Foster Wallace.

At 1/15/2009 10:28 PM, Blogger Gabriel said...

Hmm, kind of funny he hates on Kobe so much, when I view Pavement as essentially the Kobe of their generation - huge beyond reason, cresting on a wave(Shaq/lofi) that they did not start, and doing their best work early and then coasting from there on out.

Archers of Loaf to me is the more interesting 90's caustic indie rock guitar band...maybe they were the Tracy McGrady, stuck in relative obscurity and performing brilliantly but ultimately just fading

At 1/15/2009 11:45 PM, Blogger D Keane said...

malkmus:nba::berman (david not steve):nfl

both pavement and (the still playing) silver jews are two "indie" bands that age like fine wine by me.

heading out in -10 weather, I had to listen to "summer babe" as a defense mechanism today, so this timing is awesome and thanks for posting the link.

also apologies if this has ever been mentioned here before but perhaps some folks might be interested in a site called METAL JEW with diagrams like this:


apologies for moving from indie rock to metal. awesome that this is a hoops blog on which that move goes far afield. anyway.

At 1/16/2009 9:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is why I visit this site on the regular. While some people were questioning why the obvious discussion about Kobe LeBron, yall come back with a Pavement-Hoops post.

While Freedarko makes me happy, Delonte West makes me happier. Heart on the shirt sleeve. Shawn Marion take note.

At 1/16/2009 12:08 PM, Blogger antonymous said...

Stretching a little bit, I'd call KG the Lifter Puller of the NBA. Firmly lodged and immensely popular within the bubble known as Minnesota, but unable to achieve commercial success until a transformation into what's now known as the Hold Steady.

T-Mac is more of a Ben Folds Five type - gained a foothold through the strength of a few wonderful singles. Tried being pure alpha dog (solo career), and everyone is hoping he can come back and remind us why we loved him so much a few years ago.

I've got more, but I'm running late, rats!

At 1/16/2009 12:58 PM, Blogger MC Welk said...

Malkmus' parents often go to his gigs, which is pretty FD.

At 1/16/2009 3:42 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

@antonymous: Although they're strongly associated with the Midwest, there is something vaguely Beantown about The Hold Steady, which is probably why I don't like them.

At 1/16/2009 3:47 PM, Blogger kevincrumbs said...

I know it's not the greatest picture in the world but could you at least link to the picture before you use it on your post?



At 1/16/2009 7:27 PM, Blogger Not So Lonely Planet said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 1/16/2009 7:28 PM, Blogger Not So Lonely Planet said...

There can be more than one hot-shot youth tennis player.


At 1/16/2009 8:20 PM, Blogger brian said...

i was at a jicks show after their first record came out and half way through the set, sm stops to point out his dad in the crowd.

At 1/17/2009 2:05 AM, Blogger dennisedwardlu said...

The David Foster Wallace mention just made me want to non-sequitur to the fact that I think I'm going to finish Infinite Jest tonight (after roughly six month, the last two months of which I haven't been doing much of anything else besides tracking fantasy basketball, while reading IJ), and I don't look forward to the morning. I wish the spine of the book held so many more pages that the book blooms into a infinite circular circumference and never has to fucking end. GD U, DFW.

At 1/17/2009 11:14 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

@NSLP: I wasn't really suggesting that you were mistaken or that there could only be one hot-shot youth tennis player who went on to fame in another field. It was an (apparently misguided) attempt at drawing a connection between two of the more talented 90s postmodernist hipsters. And, hey, look, SM likes DFW! But, at least one writer thinks DFW wouldn't like Pavement.

At 1/19/2009 5:44 PM, Blogger Abe said...

I think Malkmus the person yes as FD-y, but his music nope.

I fell out of like with his music a long time ago for probably the same reason I dropped Infinite Jest about halfway through. I can certainly appreciate the talent, just don't feel that there was enough real soul there amongst the oodles of smirky privileged inside jokes/footnotes. Could just be laziness on my part. I do like other DFW stuff.

Probably why I don't dig on Yo La Tengo or Sonic Youth either, I know they're good, I just tend to wander off.

Artists whose output (and live performances) I personally feel hit the FD ethos would be ones who are more naturally interesting and seem like they are doing exactly what they were born to do, not "look at how complicated I am": Mike Watt, Angus from Liars (maybe), Arrington from Old Time Relijun, James Brown, Monotonix.

Summer Babe and Silent Kid are great songs though.

At 1/20/2009 6:36 AM, Blogger Alexander J said...

"You know you gotta pay your dues, before you pay the rent."-Range Life

To me, this quip is rather antithetical to the FD ethos that seems to be preached in the book and reinforced with every new post.

Does Malkmus go gaga for Anthony Randolph? Anthony Tolliver, maybe, better yet Vonteego Cummings, but I think there is something so middling about the pavement back catalog that it's hard to embrace them as some sort of analogue to an nba star. I would say, if anything, they had a lot of Terrell Brandon in them; brief, passing moments of ethereal joy.

word verification: misms-The probability of sending a text at the inauguration today; mission impossible.

I don't know how DFW got tied in to this mess, but it's far too abstract for me to rationalize on any level.

At 1/20/2009 9:48 AM, Blogger Sean said...

At a Toronto show Malkmus dedicated a song to Jose Calderon and said he was concerned about the O'neal trade (it was before the season started).


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