Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Sometimes you kick, sometimes you get kicked

Got a couple of nice shoutouts lately on Other People’s Blogs. Lemming was most grateful for a little library assistance I provided her. (One of the great things about being a librarian, boys and girls, is that it’s practically carte blanche to treat any trivia question as “professional development.” And when it’s a serious academic question for a friend who happens to have attended the school you now work for, it’s also “alumni relations.”) Ben thanked me for driving a little traffic his way. (And if you haven’t checked out Zeroth Order Approximation, you should. Because with topics like what it will take to destroy the earth on a nearly atomic level, you don’t want to let this guy get too far out of your sights.) Matt was even kind enough to ask me to weigh in on the status of our local water system. (Long story short, don’t hire a colander vendor as a municipal plumber.)

Then I got a response about the lyrics meme too. "3.5 points?!?! Fuck you and your lyrics game." We don’t have to say who said that, but he looks almost exactly like me except blond and 3 years younger.

I’m way up on the iTunes/Pepsi promo – 8 free songs so far, which is about 50%.

Except that the penny finally dropped that I’m paying $1.30 a Pepsi, and getting a 99 cent song in return, when I win. Math is hard. Also, you can only use them on singles, not whole albums.

Which is a pisser, because I just found out about Jamie Cullum thanks to Austin City Limits, and I really desperately needed his album. (So I bought it anyway.) Very reminiscent of Harry Connick, but not so New Orleans. Twentysomething and All at Sea are good, and I like his funky interpretation of I Could Have Danced All Night, but it was his small combo cover of The Wind Cries Mary which sold me the album; it’s brilliant. (I remember hearing someone saying that rock would sound a lot more like jazz if Jimi had lived; idle speculation, I suppose, but this song might make you a believer.)

I may have to start watching Austin City Limits more regularly; it won’t fill the hole in my heart left by Sessions at West 54th, but it might restore a little cred to my musical taste.

And somebody near here got a question in to Strong Bad.

But I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me.

But it might be when I tell this story next time.

And I thought this might have been the whole post, very Blog People of me, until I saw a recent headline in the Washington Post about Dexter Manley.

Dexter was an explosive Lawrence Taylor-style linebacker on the Washington Redskins of my youth. He is probably the single biggest human being I’ve ever personally met. (I shook his hand once, when I was maybe 12, at my dad’s Knights of Columbus council’s Sports Night. Or, you know, I offered my hand in his direction and he gently wrapped it up in his huge mitt.) There’s some of that childlike hero worship in me every time I hear his name. I still think of him as that gentle, genuine giant. (Who did, admittedly, smash opposing quarterbacks into the turf for a living… which was loads of fun to watch.)

Unfortunately, Dexter is also a tragic example of the complete failure of the sports-academic business complex. He graduated from a Division 1 school functionally illiterate. When his football career ended, he was completely unprepared to do anything else. Falling in to drugs and the drug trade seems almost inevitable. He’s been in and out of prison and is millions of dollars in debt. I hope his high school and college teachers and coaches stay up nights wrestling with their failures. I hope it drives them to watch out for the next kid they’re supposed to be watching out for.

This is not to minimize Dexter’s own responsibility for his choices. People failed him and used him, but he decided that it was acceptable, and he participated in it. Now, it seems that he’s realized that what he has is his story, and what he can do is try to use it to reach other people. He works for Second Genesis, a drug rehabilitation program in DC, raising money in a town that still tends to remember his good side. He’s speaking, trying to explain that change and rehab are possible, but more importantly, that it’s possible to stay out of these problems in the first place.

Seems a little peevish to complain about my 99 cents on iTunes by comparison.

Dexter Manley, if you’re out there, I still believe in you. I hope you’re turning it around, and I'm happy to see you’re convincing other people to turn themselves around too.


Blogger TeacherRefPoet said...

Dexter's is such a sad story...he was used at every turn until he was used up (and washed up). He's a reason I think college sports are so out of whack. I'd like to see workable minor league systems in the NFL and the NBA so that only those athletes who wanted to go to college would be there.

8:44 PM, March 02, 2005  
Anonymous tommyspoon said...

I still believe in Dexter. My Mom was a huge fan of his, and when I read that article I thought of her for the first time in a while. I still miss her. But I think she'd be happy to know that Dexter is trying hard to turn it around.

6:40 AM, March 03, 2005  
Blogger Reggiemonster said...

Hmmm - place the blame for my lousy song-game score on the guy who developed the contest. I never considered that. I just assumed it was me and my lack of song savy. I might have to try that...

9:57 PM, March 05, 2005  

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