By this time, it's perfect timing

You're all familiar with Kelly Dwyer. Now behold his FreeDarko Guest Post.

It’s been said that Abbie Hoffman once mentioned something about nostalgia being a “mild form of depression,” but I’m not quite sure about that. Not about the sentiment, mind you, but the quote itself: for a while when you Googled it along with Hoffman’s name, the only results that would pop up would come from old columns of mine from various websites. As usually happens, this led me into thinking that I was just the latest to be duped by a bearded old Yippie. So let’s just state that I once heard, on a bootleg, the lead singer from Steely Dan claim that Abbie Hoffman once said that nostalgia is a mild form of depression, right before the drummer counted into “Hey 19.”

This here internet has taken a glorious turn over the last few years. We’ve been able to separate the wheat (this site) from the chaff (any page that features a “current mood” designation alongside an emoticon), we can view whatever Ian Dury video we want thanks to the growth of Flash-based technology, and we can warm ourselves with the idea that that which was at one time too nutty or too contrived to be considered modern-as-tomorrow or hep will find a home, somewhere, on someone’s desktop. Forget perversions and reaching out – the best part about this New Age, to me, comes from the idea that (no matter the tickler) somewhere there is someone cobbling together a snarky thought or twelve on your particular Nazz du jour: waiting for you to click, read, rock back and back again towards the screen, topped off with a passionate, “I know, right?”

You there … with the glasses, y’know?

(It’s usually at this point that poster and guest-poster alike are asked to supply a bit of photographic evidence to sustain the points. It just about goes without saying that this post will be about as lightweight as this site gets, so I might as well ride that train toward my kind of station, and use this as an excuse to point out that I would give several months of my life just to watch Robert Goulet, dressed like a harlequin, singing -- with requisite scatting interludes, and full-on Hendricks-style vocalese -- the theme from “Three’s Company." It’s all downhill from here.)

Nobody trudges toward the computer anymore, or dreads glomming over the usual bookmarks and time-wasters. Our whole lot of loutish NBA fiends have our hands full these days, and at the risk of sounding like a break room poster: it’s a wonderful time to have a screen full of something. Site after site after podcast after illegal torrent after email after site of bandying bandying bandying shmatta shmatta shmatta – it’s enough to keep a major website’s fifth-string NBA guy strapped to the iced tea IV in order to stay up for days at a time just to throw a goofball comment towards the next blog in his queue.

It wasn’t always like this; not even close, really, but there was a time when following these things (and trying to create that sense of “this is quite important, listen/Rod Strickland has his shorts on backward” yin/yang) was a wee bit harder. Not as hard as having to aim your radio antennae or TV ears toward a tape delayed flare-fest, or dealing with the sort of silliness that pervaded the post-Magic/pre-Stromile days and nights – but for anyone who stuck with it, spin it back …

Dig James “Hollywood” Robinson (tiny, chunky, shooting), or the time Isiah Thomas signed John Long and Earl Cureton (to move Toronto’s average age above the then-league mandated 22.1), or when Dallas fielded (courted?) 27 players, then fired Jim Cleamons, which inspired a 17-year old KD to write a scathing missive about Jimmy Cleamons’ Raw Deal, his first of 22,000 internet columns that nobody read. Or Gheorghe Muresan’s comeback with New Jersey in 1999-00, one that saw him share court time with Michael Cage. Or the time Eric Williams seemed well on his way to scoring stardom before tearing up his knee, taking 15 months to return (the lockout helped), before thinking better (depending on your view) of it, and returning to his Bigsby-strong roots once the ligaments healed.

These were heady, heady times. Little seemed permanent – with everyone waiting for the next big retirement or collective bargaining makeover or Shaq and Kobe to get their shit together or (when that failed) Phil Jackson to get his shit together and head to El Lay or David Stern to cut his Hoffman-esque (the later period, natch) beard off and do something about 82-79. But it was fun, great fun, picking apart these flawed characters that were well lacking in the intrigue and charisma department (no Agent Zeros, here) and the ability to drop jaws with honest-to-goodness swag (same parenthesized thing about Gilbert Arenas, here). I mean, in all of 1997-98, there were probably nine behind-the-back passes. Brent Barry had four of them, Pig Miller managed one (Lenny Wilkins took him right out), and I forget the rest. I think I left that composition book in my locker.

That muddied stream of lateral thinking (although, we were also told, you can’t lateral a horse) reminds me of having to identify the skinny guy placed prominently among the pictures above my computer (the only unrecognizable face among Bob Cousy, Moses Malone, Scottie Pippen, and – seriously – Xavier Cugat) to a college dormmate. It was Steve Nash, who was two months removed from being traded to Dallas and about a year removed from being mentioned in serious trade discussions between Phoenix and the Vancouver Grizzlies; a deal that was supposed to send Bryant Reeves to Arizona. Why would the Grizz give up a solid 7-footer for a third-string point guard? Well, Nash is from British Columbia, and apparently that was all that mattered to some stateside scribes …

I’m not sure which side turned the deal down, but you’d like to hope it wasn’t the guy who still has a job in Toronto, and not the mug who could have had two years of Darko in Dey-twah (pronounced like Ben-oit) but preferred Otis Thorpe. There were heaps of those -- ideas that sent Vlade Divac and Ike Austin and Scottie Pippen to Phoenix to run with Jason Kidd, or Vlade to Seattle as the missing piece in Paul Westphal’s first year as head SuperSonic (anyone who slogged through that era and calls the team “the Sonics” deserves a barbell thrown at them by Vernon Maxwell), plenty of nonsense spurred on by the biggest free agent class (1998) in history matched with an insufferable labor stalemate that ended the day I trudged through a Chicago snowstorm to buy “Miles Ahead.”

The sick thing is, most would think that the lockout season would be that era’s absolute nadir, but it wasn’t even close. And it had nothing to do with lowered expectations brought on by the sight of Shawn Kemp playing in Alonzo Mourning’s charity game and a 50-game season. It was a fun mess of the blues, and we did get to see Ricky Davis and Brad Miller tear it up late for the lottery-bound Hornets, after all. 1999-00 was a fulfilling (though less boisterous, mainly because Mike Wise wasn’t making a fool of himself whilst warning of Latrell Sprewell’s evil ways in Sunday magazine inserts newly made internet-fresh) march in place, typified by that year’s Sacramento Kings squad: the guys entertained, even as Nick Anderson saw his legs betray him, but only saw their winning percentage go up percentage points.

Naw, 2000-01 was it. Ultra-slow, Mike Miller, Mark Strickland’s last gasp, Kenyon Martin breaks another leg while the Lakers can’t be bothered to listen to Phil until April. The only bit of not-there that we thought deserved reification (turned out to be a lie … a filthy lie) was that year’s Clipper team – but they couldn’t even pull off vapid the right way. The team appeared to boast a series of talents who seemed (for shame!) too damn aware of their station, aware of their talents, and aware of the fact that they drew our attention. The hottest couple at the shindig was already too stuck-up to mashed potato or pose for photos, and they’d only won 31 games.

Luckily for us, the note that began all, can also destroy. The absurdity had to worm its way toward relevance (if not acceptance … but that’s for another day). Hand-checking was outlawed (Texas nearly seceded as a result), Skeets compared Jalen Rose to a car (I’m not a driver, and I can’t remember which one), Kevin Arnovitz starts pulling brilliant shit like this, YouTube allows us to alternate between Ronnie Lane and Ronnie Harper within seconds, Free Darko makes me wish I hung around past sophomore year (I was on an accelerated program, after all), and Henry Abbott pulled it all together.

But the game … it’s pulling off yeoman’s work. It’s changed, and the web has come up around it. And that last part is co-incidental; I’m afraid, but no less wonderful. It wasn’t as if, ten years ago, were merely had men in short pants helping us through those vaunted lives of quiet desperation, but it was close. And it wasn’t bad. And, in its own inimitable and hard-to-define (if you’ve made it this far through the post, that last part you’ll definitely be able to jibe with) way, it was just as fulfilling.

A few days ago, after throwing a line or two around about the photo heard ‘round the hoops blogosphere with Shoals, I sent a quick reply about posting a photo from last week of myself from a pub, just to keep up. So, after the girlfriend uploaded the bloody thing …

… I took a good look, which is never fun, and noticed that I’m well on my way to Yippiedom. Maybe that old coot and cocaine dealer, our dearest Abbie, was onto something. Either way, I’m happy doing things my way, partying like it’s 1997, while trying to keep up with Damon Jones.

Roll over Abbie Hoffman, tell John Crotty the news.


At 1/24/2007 3:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No disrespect to A.J., but Kelly Dwyer IS THE BALLS.

At 1/24/2007 3:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it weird I can't look away from that cat??

At 1/24/2007 3:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh snap! No he didn't! No he did not!

At 1/24/2007 4:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the delineation of an era in terms of Stromile Swift. In a word, appropriate.

WV: vevhhh -- The sound coming out of Peja Stojakovic's face when he shoots.

At 1/24/2007 4:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

when did dwyer morph into deformed eliott smith?

At 1/24/2007 4:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not trying to hate -- maybe i'm just sleepy today -- but what the hell is this post actually about?

At 1/24/2007 5:04 PM, Blogger Rolf von Friedgen said...

Hrm...that 96-97 Mavs team was craptastical indeed. Talk about a boulevard of broken dreams and unrealized potential.

At 1/24/2007 6:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

did dwyer miss the fact that this site has a "current mood" designation alongside a (darko) emoticon? or is he saying that FD is both wheat and chaff?

At 1/24/2007 7:08 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

that's not an emoticon; that's a drawing.

this is an emoticon:



At 1/24/2007 9:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anybody seen the "Second Coming" Nike commerical? When I saw it, my first impulse was to scorn the ad; but now, I've accepted it.

At 1/24/2007 9:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

but what the hell is this post actually about?

That's a feature, not a bug of this here weblog.

At 1/24/2007 9:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sean--oh word. Somebody needs to walk me through that ad. Second Coming of fucking what?

At 1/24/2007 10:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I assumed it meant players who've resurrected their games or made come-backs but why is Sheed in there??

At 1/24/2007 10:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the commercial:


Looks like it's the ad campaign for the "Air Force 25". Pretty weak for W+K. You could set a bar mitzvah to a Just Blaze beat and make it seem hard in some epic fashion.

At 1/24/2007 11:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice video, but the whole Phoenix Suns team has signed with Nike?!

At 1/24/2007 11:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Talk about 1999, that remides me of the "reportage" I used to see in the Stranger in Seattle. One of the reasons I moved to Wisconsin.

At 1/25/2007 12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Brief and Inaccurate Statistical Analysis of Air Force 25 Commercial:

Kobe: 1 assist
Dwight Howard (?): 2 points
Chris Paul: 3 points, 1 assist, 1 steal
Paul Pierce: 2 points (self pass? assist)
Jermaine O'Neal: 2 points
Tony Parker: 1 assist
Shawn Marion: 2 points
Amare: 1 TO, 1 FG attempt (unknown outcome)
LBJ: 4 points, 1 assist
Sheed: 2 points
Steve Nash: 1 TO (kicking ball)

Feel free to amend.
Implications? Clearly not as far-reaching as the Marxist discussions which followed the Lebrons driveway dunk contest ad. However, one could easily venture into a discussion through this advertisement's imagery of airport hangars and a Just Blaze soundscape. Evocative of NASA, but maybe more so Top Gun volleyball. For the latter- air supremacy might be a myopic national security policy in an era of a new battlefield. The former- Apollo 25. Nike.

At 1/25/2007 12:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I forgot to give Sheed a technical foul after his reaction to the jumper.

At 1/25/2007 1:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anyone think its Nike one upping adidas "it takes 5" by saying we've got...10...and an aircraft carrier

At 1/25/2007 3:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Nike ad is indeed for the 25th birthday of the Air Force 1. They are releasing an updated model this year which looks terrible in my opinion - you just can't beat the classic.

Anyway, they had a print ad back in the day with their Nike athletes standing on an aircraft carrier or runway or something and all wearing white flightsuits, which they obviously tried to update with this spot. Among the old players were Moses Malone, Michael Cooper, Jamaal Wilkes and others that escape me right now. I found a 'making of' of the new spot that shows the old poster at the end.


Oh, and I guess Sheed is in for the obvious reason that he's the guy who's been wearing Air Force 1's throughout his career (or at least NBA career).

At 1/25/2007 10:41 AM, Blogger evan said...

I feel bad that my father feels that the 98/99 season was the best since the original Bobby Jones and Julius stopped playing.

I feel worse that his favorite team since then was the championship Pistons in 04.

It's good to see that he likes all the young guys now, though.

At 1/25/2007 12:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the best part of this post is the encouragement it gives the lazy to wach old Ian Dury videos. the Ron Harper highlight reel is also hella righteous.

At 1/25/2007 12:33 PM, Blogger T. said...

kaifa - I have a poster of all the old Nike guys on a playground - it's about 30 or 40 guys. Bobby Jones? Cedric Jones? It must be the entire roster of endorsers.

and another one of George Gervin sitting in a throne made of ice.

At 1/25/2007 1:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

T., any chance you want to improve transatlantic b-ball relations and send these to me as a sign of goodwill?

And Ron Harper - just wow.

At 1/25/2007 1:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It may in fact be a rehash of a 25 year old advertisement- I'm 21 and wouldn't know. But surely you have to acknowledge that beyond any air force-y imagery there's about a dozen men dressed in white described as the "Second Coming". Obviously one of the subtexts of the ad is positioning King James as a Christ figure among his new Apostles.

And as a Jew, I honestly don't know what to make of that. Is it harmless? Blasphemous? Funny? Absurd? Justified?

At 1/25/2007 2:10 PM, Blogger T. said...

Kaifa - I'm across the Pacific (Shanghai stand up!) but the posters are in storage in the 916 at my parents place. I kind of like them anyways.

At 1/25/2007 3:35 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

you kind of like your parents or the posters?

aren't you afraid of getting fired by adidas for having nike posters? it's a legitimate concern. you better let us hold those for you at freedarko headquarters.

At 1/25/2007 4:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

T. - I figured.

Aaron - why LeBron as a christ figure? He doesn't appear to be at the center of this ad more than the others. And if you go so far as to compare the final team picture with the last supper then Kobe would be the guy right in the middle.

It would certainly make for an interesting interpretation to view the commercial from a religious perspective, but I personally think we would be giving the agency a little too much credit here.

At 1/25/2007 5:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can he drop "the lead singer of Steely Dan" and not just say Fagen? Ridiculous. I stopped reading after that.

At 1/25/2007 5:46 PM, Blogger kellydwyer said...

Because Donald still refuses to play Dr. Wu at any of the recent casino shows; even though we know the band has rehearsed it and it should be ready to blow on.

At 1/25/2007 5:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seemed to me that LeBron got a little more face time in the commercial. I could have been wrong about that. It also seems to me that Nike's been trying to position LBJ in a similar way for a while, so if you had asked me "Which NBA player would you expect Nike to present as a Christ figure?" I would say "LeBron James, of course." So maybe I leapt to an unjust conclusion. Maybe Kobe is the Christ figure. That, I think, is even more confusing.

At 1/25/2007 7:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aaron: I don't know about Lebron specifically as the Christ figure, but I feel you. The Second Coming? Everyone dressed in white? If that's not interspersing JC and basketball in an attempt to make the endless search for better sneakers into a holy quest then I don't know what is.

Perhaps (hopefully) Nike will continue on this avenue by promoting Kobe as the John the Baptist figure, howling wildly about the coming of the great LBJ/JC. I'm not sure who Judas is in this analogy, however. Rasheed perhaps? Obviously David Stern correlates to King Herod, with Michael/Magic as Mary/Joseph (not sure which is which). I am entirely unreligious by the way.

WV: MJ for a brave new millenium, Michael and Magic

At 1/25/2007 8:21 PM, Blogger T.A.N. said...

I love the commercial. Nike, as a brand, for me, they are beyond reproach.

At 1/25/2007 8:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Because Donald still refuses to play Dr. Wu at any of the recent casino shows; even though we know the band has rehearsed it and it should be ready to blow on."

Aight. Fair enough :). I'm gonna have to check some set lists to see what they've been playing. I'm sure the players are tight as always.

At 1/25/2007 9:01 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

there's also a few cases where the lyrics overlap with the player shown.

"the future's coming/it's finally here" when amare shoots

"the truth is speaking/you'd better listen" (something like that)
when pierce dunks

any others?

At 1/25/2007 9:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I need to stop watching this, or else KD is gonna make fun of me again on TrueHoop.

"One that walks..." during a possible Steve Nash traveling violation.

"Divided we fall..." Sheed and Jermaine O'Neal

"Voltron, we take on all..." Kobe

"The birds..." Chris Paul and Paul Pierce

"... left the nest." Chris Paul steals from Amare

"I'm all grown up." Tony Parker

"Best of the best..." LBJ

"A legacy..." Sheed

No time to offer interpretations of lyrical content right now. However, I should note that Nike has the acapella and instrumental up on the main marketing site and provides you with the opportunity to remix the whole thing. David Stern meets Lawrence Lessig.

At 1/26/2007 2:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


A humble attempt at analyzing Nike's re-interpretation of the New Testament as an campaign to sell shoes.

Lebron is identified even at this early point as the "best of the best", while Sheed (with an assist from J.O., for some reason) is noted as the divider who will bring the fall. Meanwhile the apostles are busy; the first, Chris PAUL, has left the nest, presumably to preach the gospel and convert the heathens to the faith of Nike. Amare is working on his own version of the Gospel (the future's coming) and Paul Pierce is speaking Truth to power.

Tony Parker is perhaps a representation of the Messiah as Man, realizing his maturity. Steve Nash's lyric is a possible reference to walking on water, but in this new Basketball Jesus parlance it refers to walking on air, a Sneaker Miracle.

Kobe's line is the trickiest to decipher. I think it may be a backhanded reference to Narnia's Aslan (remember that Voltron was formed by combining five pure, giant robot lions), a notorious Jesus stand-in. This also potentially sets up Shaq as a Robeast (re: Centurion).

Tune in next week as LBJ debates the Pharisees (Pistons?).

At 1/26/2007 7:55 AM, Blogger adam8000plus said...

NBA Prez:

Oddly, Jason Richardson...or at least it's as presidential as he isn't.

Nu question: players that are behaviourally/psychologically presidential?

At 1/26/2007 12:42 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

jason richardson is too boring a name to be presidential. presidential names are very "america" cira 1776, i.e., they're anglo as fuck, and they combine the common with the regal.

also, having a name that sounds like an actual founding father helps, e.g. alexander johnson, richard hamilton, richard jefferson.

At 1/26/2007 12:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We've played the game of casting NBA players in the New Testament story before, ages ago. That's not what I find interesting so much as I find it interesting that Nike's buying into it, too. Even I find something resonant in the Christ story, which I will note is a different resonance than I find in the Jewish Messianic legend.

The commercial's a helluva lot less interesting if it's just about the history of Nike sneakers, no offense intended to Kaifa or our other resident sneakernerds.

At 1/26/2007 1:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No offense taken by this proud sneakernerd.

At 1/26/2007 4:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aaron: That's what I thought was so interesting as well, that Nike was so blatantly tapping into that shared cultural experience/faith and correlating popular religious beliefs with the marketing of sneakers. Obviously the specific interpretations were just a bit of satire wrapped around a few capricious Juelz Santana rhymes (over a catchy, catchy beat) but I'm not that surprised. After all, aside from being a great basketball player, Michael Jordan was perhaps the most powerful advertising icon of the 20th century. What's jarring is the sheer blatantness of it. The Second Coming? I mean really, Nike, c'mon, isn't that laying it on way, way too thick?

I must've missed the NBA/New Testament discussion because I've only been reading FD for a couple months but I'm not an astute enough fan (on the same level with most of the regulars) to really play it anyway.

At 1/27/2007 4:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Nike further grossly commercializes a grossly commercial concept - that of Jesus, Apostles, Second Coming, etc.... I'm almost surprised that at the end of one of the versions of the commercial, that all the players don't look up and see MJ floating down from the hangar roof with rays refracting off a pair of 25 year-old AF Ones.... Bernays would be proud of the convo Nike's latest has inspired here at FD.

Unfortunately, the significance of Hoffman's "nostalgia=mild form of depression" is missed (unusual? not with a collective sense of history that's 10-12 years old).

Simply put, nostalgia is a Western psy-op. Nostalgia imbues everything from Aesop's Fable to FOX News. And we ride with it and remember events not for what they were, therefore missing their true import, but for HOW we're TOLD to perceive them (without personal albeit our all-too-often myopic socio-cultural personal twist).

To stand outside and look in, while looking inside and standing out is the message of all "messiahs" and wise people - "itz' am" if you have a working understanding of ancient Maya glyphic structure. With that as a working premise for living, there is no nostalgia, only a REAL sense of past and the respect the knowledge of it brings to today.

Just remember that when you "stop to smell the roses" - the same petals that can be poison - that they're just a 13th century replacement for the lotus.

...and it's Hendrix with an "X" not a "cks," unless you meant "Eddie Kendricks" (and scat he could).

82-79? All we had to do is manufacture a hurricane to blow away Pat Riley's house and poison his protege in NYC (with a raw rose tincture?) cause the rest of the League was cool.

At 1/27/2007 7:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think he meant Jon Hendricks, who is the father of vocalese. I have a bunch of Eddie Kendricks albums and I haven't heard him come close to scatting. And scatting is not vocalese.

Do a little research next time.

At 1/27/2007 8:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anonymous - You're right, scattin' doesn't involve words. You mean like Manhattan Transfer? Or like Jimi Hendrix? Or like any blues singer? Or maybe like Jill Scott when I last saw her do "scatalese"? Is that when you scat AND sing words to a melody?

BTW artists' full range of abilities aren't known through albums. Like you wouldn't know how steeped B.B. is in jazz unless you saw him live. Just cause E.K. didn't scat on your albums doesn't mean my parents didn't come home talking about him scatting in a concert of his they saw - so chill. I never did like cherry pickers.

At 1/29/2007 1:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For some closure on this post... Nah Right points us to Just Blaze's behind the scenes making of the beat:


At 9/12/2008 3:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Nice Blog .If your time is less valuable, then it is probably less worthwhile to labor time tracker .

At 4/13/2009 5:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



At 6/14/2013 3:38 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I think that it is great that you are bringing them to write some great post. Thanks for the amazing post. I really like those guess post. Host Pay Per Head should do more of that.


Post a Comment

<< Home