The Easter Parade

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If there were an NCAA style tournament for the title of “Most Depressing Author”, my money would be on Richard Yates. You’d probably get great odds considering how under appreciated he is. To his credit he’s not writing about world hunger, two teens with rare life ending diseases, or the death of a pet. His novels tend to deal with what most people would consider their aspirations. Getting married and having a family. Owning a house in the perfect neighborhood. Making good money at a job you spent a good portion of your life going to school for. These are goals for most people. Yates takes those goals and molds them into the bleakest periods of his characters life. His books are not for the happy go lucky. But god dammit is it good writing.

Sarah and Emily are sisters from a splintered family. Their parents divorced  while they were in grade school. From the start you know it’s going to have lasting effects into their adulthood. Sarah would grow up marrying the first person she has sex with. while Emily goes through men like I went through tissues in high school (disgusting, I know).

The story is told through Emily’s point of view, with periodic updates into the lives of her mother (named “Pookie”) and sister. Pookie is never the same after her divorce. Over the course of the book she goes from depressed single mom to delirious grandmother. Sarah seemingly has the perfect life. A successful husband. Three healthy boys. A house with the white picket fence that every girl yearns for. But it’s not long before those proud talking points at parties wear off. Her husband beats her throughout their thirty year marriage, two of her sons show her no respect at all, and she doesn’t ever leave that “perfect” house of hers. It’s more of a prison when you think about it. Not to mention her failed writing career and the slow depreciation of her body.

Emily, in my opinion, had the right idea all along. She went to university for four years, sleeping around as she pleases. While her sister resides in the suburbs, Emily has the pleasure of living in the greatest city in the world. She’s looked upon favorably by her superiors at her job, in the world of advertising no less. Neither of the sisters were destined for a fulfilling life, though. As the years go by so do the men in Emily’s life. Each one predictably leaves her, whether after a year, or ten. And as much as she wants to be a strong, independent woman, the thought of being alone terrifies her. That sweet apartment in the city eventually becomes a home for her sorrows and the older she gets the more expendable she becomes in the workplace.

Yates seems to have a simple message. Alone or together, life is one depressing marathon. The pursuit of happiness is a worthless endeavor. I can’t imagine any optimist ever enjoying this novel, or any of Yates work for that matter. Whether you’re a cynic or a believer there’s no denying the man has talent. Call me pessimistic, but I don’t think we’ll ever have another author like Richard Yates.

 

Michael Jordan is the Michael Jordan of Michael Jordaning

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How often have you heard someone use the phrase, ” So and so is the Michael Jordan of so and so’s profession”. You know, Beethoven is the Michael Jordan of classical music. Stephen King is the Michael Jordan of horror novels. They even use it with other sports. Wayne Gretzky is the Michael Jordan of hockey! Hey, I get it. I agree with you guys. It’s overused and a bit tacky. Having said that….I’m super curious as to what would be considered the Michael Jordan of television dramas.

The thought crept up on me after viewing the True Detective finale. Those eight episodes are as good as any one season of television. Still, I couldn’t claim it to be the “Michael Jordan” of dramatic television. What I’ve decided to do is rank the best twelve players in NBA history. As well as pair them with the twelve most influential television dramas of our generation. How did I so choose the TV shows you ask? It was quite simple actually. I stole them from this. Bear in mind that this idea may or may not have come about under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Lets get to it.

12. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar / Oz

Oh boy. I just realized I’m saying Kareem is the 12th best player ever and Oz the 12th best TV show ever. Oh man. Might not have thought this through. There is one strong similarity these two have in common. You could put them in any environment and they would thrive. If Kareem (in his prime) plays for the Lakers this year, he’s the best center in the NBA. Even on that putrid squad. Sure he might get banged on defensively but he would equally be unguardable. Even in the late 90s into the early 00s I think he would be an all star caliber player. You put Wilt or Russell into this generation they become a role player. No ifs, ands, or buts. Same with Oz. That show is holding up with Game of Thrones, True Blood, Breaking Bad, and all the rest. Hell, Game of Thrones practically stole a page right from Oz’s playbook in Season 1. That show invented shocking deaths.

11. Jerry West / The Shield

Both show and player had a hell of a run. Jerry only ended up winning one title and The Shield only claimed one major award (Chiklis for Best Actor at the Emmys). To be honest, I had to put Jerry West on here. He’s the logo. I usually don’t like putting players from the older generation on here. Their stats usually don’t compare (looking at you Oscar and your garbage triple double record). I think the main link this show/player have is the high note they both left on. Jerry West ended his basketball career by being perhaps the best NBA General Manager in history. While The Shield has arguably the best finale of all time. As many of the shows on here can attest, it’s not easy to do a finale.

10. Wilt Chamberlain / LOST

One word connects both of them. Over hyped. I could of sworn that was one word. Fair enough. Two words connect these two. If you put Shaq on any team from 1950-1965 he would put up the same numbers as Wilt. Or Georgetown Ewing. Or David Robinson. They would all put up monster numbers against undersized white guys. I’m ashamed I even put him on this list. Not the first time I’ve been ashamed of myself, but still. The same goes for LOST. Yes I know the following it had (or has) and the viewership numbers it produced. But there was nothing else on network television! It had like two competitors. And one of them was House. LOST was dunking on the likes of Dr. Vegas , The Mountain , and LAX . It seemed like they both listened to their fans too much at one point. Oh you want more smoke monster answers? BOOM. Terrible episode with a cop out of an answer that never had the chance of appeasing fans. Oh you don’t think I can lead the league in not fouling out? Goes ahead and tries his best not to foul out every game to the detriment of his team. Talking about these two makes me nauseous.

9. Allen Iverson / Deadwood

This one really hurts. Deadwood should be much higher. Sadly I lumped it together with AI. My main line of thinking was this. Allen Iverson put his 76er team on his back year after year leading them to the cusp of greatness. Al Swearengen did the same for Deadwood. The town and the TV show. David Milch’s writing is some of the best I’ve seen on screen and I’m sure that’s where most of the praise for Deadwood should go. But Ian McShane put Al on the Anti Hero Mount Rushmore. It’s Walter White, Tony Soprano, Don Draper, and Al Swearengen. It’s just a shame there was so little of it to appreciate. And when you think of it, the same goes for Iverson. He had a respectable fifteen year playing career. But those three years or four years from 2000-2004 were where the magic happened. The MVP year. The practice rant. The Lue Step. Even more to his credit, he has a whole city ready to die for him. That’s how strong the love for him is in Philadelphia. On paper, Donovan McNabb should be widely as appreciated. Obviously that’s not the case. I feel the same way, as do many, about Al Swearenger. Deadwood isn’t close to being my favorite show of all time, but I can honestly say he his my favorite lead of any show. And I’d do anything to see him on the screen again.

8. Shaq Daddy / 24

Shaq was the most dominating force the league has ever seen. 24 is the most intense show that’s ever been on television (the Breaking Bad fan in me just punched me in the nuts). There’s something about Jack having to save the world in 24 hours that just keeps you on the edge of your seat. Shaq and 24 both came at the right time. 24 right around our 9/11 fear of terrorists and bombings and middle eastern looking people really took hold. And it hugely benefited from it. It took it and ran. The Diesel came right when the 90s were being born. And EVERYONE was better for it. It’s no coincidence he came into the league during the best decade ever. Unfortunately they both have been largely forgotten. People only remember Cavalier Daddy. Or the Daddy who screwed up EJ, Kenny, and Charles mojo. Same goes for Jack Bauer. People got sick of the same old after a while. Doesn’t it seem like people consider 24 a fad we all went through when Bush was president. Kind of like they never admitted to liking it. Exactly how nobody admits to liking Creed when they were all over VH1. We all did!

7. LeBron James / Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I had to put LeBron here. And I guess Buffy deserves to be here. The fact that Buffy succeeded on the WB is a feat in itself. What I should be (and will be) comparing, is LeBron and Whedon. After all is said and done they might be the top two that have ever done it. There really doesn’t seem like a brave soul that will step in and stop LBJ’s dominance. Myself? I’m hoping Silver rigs this coming draft so the Lakers get Jabari, sign Durant and Kevin Love in the next few years, Kobe forces Jabari to be sixth man and they win a ton of rings. Will it happen? Probably only the part where Kobe forces Jabari Parker to be his Manu Ginobli. As for Whedon, he will continue to successfully make Avenger movies and have fans suck all over his cock. I think he still has one great TV show left in him. Maybe two. Probably two.

6.  Kobe Bryant / Friday Night Lights

Man…have these two had their ups and downs or what? Kobe’s rape allegation. Tyra almost getting raped leading to Landry killing some dude. Kobe almost getting traded in his prime. Tyra almost getting raped leading to Landry killing some dude. Kobe having to tell Shaq how his ass taste. Tyra almost getting raped leading to Landry killing some dude. But there’s no denying the high points. Kobe’s first three peat. One of the best first seasons in TV history. Kobe’s 81 point massacre of the Raptors. Kyle Chandler winning Best Actor over Jon Hamm. Kobe wins two chips with a new cast of characters. FNL having two incredible seasons with the ghetto Panthers. Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Black Mamba.

5. Tim Duncan / Battlestar Galactica

Tim Duncan and BSG are so disrespected Rodney Dangerfield bows before them. If TD beats the Heat last summer, he goes number 2. He plays in a small market so he clearly never gets the attention he deserves. He’s not flashy. Sticks to the basics. But he wins. Battlestar is kind of the same. It’s in a genre that doesn’t get much view time. When you want drama, Sci-Fi isn’t the first place you look (and who can blame you. Star Trek is fine but it’s not top shelf stuff). It’s a remake of a laughable 70s television show. Yet it turned itself into the most thought provoking series to air. Also influenced by 9/11, it had characters make some of the most brutal calls I’ve seen. TD and BSG get talked about far less than they should. If you put Tim in New York or you change the shows name to Stark Trek : Battlestar, then they might have gotten the recognition they deserved. Alas.

3.& 4. Magic and Bird / The Sopranos and The Wire

“The Sopranos is the best TV show in history. I mean Tony Soprano! Amiright?”.

“Dude watch The Wire. So many twists and turns. It’s a masterpiece”.

When arguing who is better between Magic and Larry it really comes down to preference. Or hometown affiliation. It’s like arguing about vanilla and chocolate ice cream. One isn’t better than the other. We just have different tastes. I would argue that goes for the top two HBO shows of all time as well. I would concede The Sopranos probably has a bigger following (like Magic) and ran for longer (just like Magics career was longer. Though it turned ugly at the end). But the faithful who claim The Wire to be the best ever will fight their point to the death. That’s how much they love their show. They’re like a cult (whereas a future show to be named is so big it’s more like a religion). I don’t know which is better and frankly I don’t care. I just know you need to watch both before you die. And like Bird and Magic, they will always be grouped together.

2. Bill Russell / Mad Men

Bill Russell is not the second most talented basketball player ever. What he is, is the way basketball should be played in the form of a man. He was never bigger than the team. True, Russell was the center piece, but he did everything in his power to make sure the people around him would succeed. He is all a basketball player should be. Mad Men is what every television show should aspire to. I don’t just mean by subject matter, but how every scene means something. There is no filler. Every actor feeds off each other while Jon Hamm leads the show. Hamm never won an Emmy (as of yet) and Russell never led the league in scoring. All he wanted to do was win, and I don’t know if Hamm felt the same way, but as a show, Mad Men dominates come award time. Guess what? It dominated during the golden age of television and AGAINST THE MICHAEL JORDAN OF TELEVISION DRAMAS.

1. Michael Jordan / Breaking Bad

I’ll let this make my point for me

I’d make an Honorable Mention list but I think this was enough of a disaster. All I wanted to say was Breaking Bad is the Michael Jordan of TV shows.