Friday, October 12, 2007

Hockey is Not War....

..and that's where the problem lies.

"Let’s pretend we’re somewhere else.

Let’s pretend its 3:17 AM on a Tuesday, and we’re sitting in a bar. Not a club or anything fancy, just a very ordinary neighborhood tavern type thing (if your neighborhood bar isn’t open at 3:17 AM on Tuesdays, you live in the wrong neighborhood). Let’s pretend we’ve been drinking quite a bit for quite a while and chatting drunken-style about all sorts of things. Maybe I serenaded you with my very moving version of Rex’s Blues, and you were (being drunk) appropriately appreciative. Now it’s very late and things are getting pretty quiet and we’re not in Montreal because I’m smoking and staring at the smoke in that vaguely perplexed way that drunk people tend to stare at cigarette smoke. And after a longish silence, in which you were beginning to think about heading home, I say the following:


[Pause. Deep breath.]

Sometimes I think that watching hockey makes me a bad person.

So, Ms. E over at A Theory of Ice begins her entry, On Watching. I've effused about her site quite a few times. This last entry seems to be something she's been working her way through for a while. Over 5,500 words, just short of 11 single-spaced pages. It's about hockey like Catch-22 is about planes. Print it out, mark it up, read it through multiple times.

Another bite:
"But all watching is a sort of vampirism. It’s all about appropriating the qualities of the game for ourselves. For some people it’s vicarious macho, for others it’s vicarious speed, vicarious anger, vicarious triumph, vicarious courage, vicarious endurance. In some sense being a hockey fan is similar to any other form of the symbolic consumption which is so characteristic of contemporary capitalist society- those qualities which we feel lacking in ourselves we seek in something external. Buying a sexy sportscar to feel young, or a hybrid to feel socially responsible. Getting a tattoo to feel cool. We are all very conscious of what our tastes and our choices say about us, we define other people often by what they like to watch, and define ourselves similarly."

and, finally:
"If hockey were war, it would in fact, be war, and if that’s what you really want, you know, we already have that and I’m very sure that a good many governments would be just thrilled if you wanted to go take a closer look. The whole reason that hockey is hockey is that it is not war, neither is it gladiatorial combat, or murder, or Fight Club. It’s not ultimate fighting, boxing, or (American) football. For that matter, it’s not basketball, baseball, figure skating, or dwarf bowling. It’s hockey, and it is different from all those things. So don’t tell me that hockey is violent because it’s battle. It’s not. Battle is battle and hockey is hockey, and metaphor is an art that points obliquely at truth but is not truth itself."

She makes me nervous and itchy with how well she writes about hockey. Seriously, has anyone out there come across someone else who comes even close? And it's not just this linked piece; it's all of her stuff. She is the Roger Angell of hockey.

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Man, Mordecai Richler would've loved this woman.
Have you ever read Selena Roberts' stuff in the NYT?
If so, then you'll understand that I mean the following in the best way.
I believe Ms. E is the love-child of Selena Roberts and your Mordecai Richler. That could be the only possible explanation for:
1) Her passion for the Canadiens.
2) Her great writing skills/style.
3) Her late-night pub-prowling prowess.

If you have a better idea of her lineage, I'd like to hear it.
No, that sounds about right. Just make sure you get the mustard from her when you visit Schwartz's at 3:00 a.m. for your post-Habs hangover interception.
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