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Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
Solo, Duo
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flw From: flw Date: February 6th, 2007 02:53 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

oooh-aaah Alpha! Beta!

What an awesome post! I agree in many particulars, but not in some generals. I mean, I think it is great that you think that way! I think about this topic all the time and it is such a weird thing to think about. First of all, greatest guitarist of all time... Prince. When I am sitting around with other guitarists and they are talking about the great guitarists, I always bring up Prince, and they are always dumb-founded. Prince... he only puts on the guitar to do solos. He puts it on, and does it, and then throws it away. It's so perfect. He just so captures perfectly what that thing is meant to do.

Now, I think this all comes down to the Alphas versus the Betas.

Now, Prince, while he, without question, is the showiest, pea-cockiest, Alpha male supreme, he is kind of an alpha-male drag queen. Because, if you put Prince in the wild, and, not that I would... but, I mean, you put me and Prince in a cage, and Prince isn't coming out. I'd just... Not that I want to think about it, but in the wild, Prince is NOT an Alpha male. He's kind of an Alpha-Male Drag Queen (King?).

And in sports, Alpha males are fine in individual oriented sports like Baseball, which is why I like Barry Bonds (also, he started out playing for Pittsburgh when I was in High School!) but not in team sports like football which is why I DESPISE Terrel Owens. But football must accomadate changes in society. And we are becoming a more individualistic society. At least when compared with say, medieval France. So, football is developing into a two-tiered sport. First there is the battle of the Beta-males in the so-called "unskilled" positions. And layered on top of it is the game of the "skilled" positions. I'd like to make a diagram...

...but, I mean, really...

One one end of the spectrum, we have the ultimate "skill" position, the Quarterback as exemplified by Kordell Stewart. And on the other end of the spectrum we have the ultimate unskilled position, Left Pulling Guard as exemplified by lots and lots of guys whose names we do not know or remember.

I think my point was that in all human endeavors, it is by cooperation between the Alphas (peacocks, wide receivers, guitarists) and the Betas (sparrows, pulling Guards, drummers). Only in simulated, narrative, compressed human endeavors like football and rock music can we afford to elevate the peacocks to such false heights. Because it's fun... for everyone! Who doesn't enjoy seeing Prince solo? Who doesn't enjoy watching Lynn Swann go up for a Bradshaw pass (couldn't deign to use T.O., even as an example)?

I think the failing of T.O. and others is not that they are Alphas in a Beta Game, but rather that they forget about the beta-game, and pretend it doesn't exist. It is insulting. They insult their fellow players. Really!

TO = Home Run Derby = Slam Dunk Contest

I left Basketball out. That game has a whole different set of pseudo-narratives...

Oh, I could yack about this all day!
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 7th, 2007 05:15 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: oooh-aaah Alpha! Beta!

I'm glad you liked my entry, but your comment is much more interesting. Seriously! I love this argument so much. You should flesh it out and repost it. I'm thinking about it over and over as I type this.
flw From: flw Date: February 7th, 2007 05:46 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: oooh-aaah Alpha! Beta!

Thank you. I like it myself because it allows me to express something vague that I had been uncomfortable expressing before in racial terms. That can be uncomfortable. Basically, the issue comes up, time and again, of why African Americans are vastly superior in certain sports. The usual racist expression is "sports that involve a ball," and I think the implication is that they are child-like, and so on. Then of course, there is the argument that derives from the notion of the mind/body split. White=mind, Black=body, hence Black people are better at physical things in the racist view of things.

I've never heard anyone make my argument which is that sports are about the most OBJECTIVE measures of human achievement going. If you can run faster, you can run faster, and NO ONE can take it away from you. Period. Since so many other human activities have subjective components, it is almost always possible to attribute success to other factors, and even other people. So, it seems entirely natural.

And the more individualistic a sport is, the more objective it is, and therefore the more African Americans will be drawn to that sport to demonstrate their will to excel. The first sports where Black People excelled were the most objective... boxing, track and field. And when blacks desegregated team sports they did so first as "skill" players. Individuals. Because to excel at a skilled position is an undeniable achievement, and it is IMPOSSIBLE to argue with the numbers. Jackie Robinson hit so and so many home runs and stole this many bases and caught this many fly balls... there's NO DENYING IT, and NO ONE else can take credit.

The same sort of argument applies to black success in music. When you close your eyes there is no denying a superior musician. It is a little more subjective, well it's a lot more subjective... but look at the types of music where black people excel. Again the emphasis is on OBJECTIVE, UNDENIABLE, and INDIVIDUAL. There aren't a lot of black violists or tympani players. But saxophone? that's a whole 'nother story.
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