Wednesday, March 23, 2011

the worst

it's only fitting to start posting entries titled after singles from lagwagon's "resolve," an album dedicated to the memory of derrick plourde. plourde had been a fixture of the southern california punk revival scene beginning with his involvement with lagwagon in 1991 and lasting through stints with the ataris, RKL, and significant contributions to lagwagon lead singer joey cape's side project bad astronaut.

in 2005, plourde shot himself in the chest.

the entirety of "resolve" is dedicated to the memory of the deceased drummer; how much he impacted the lives of those around him and those who simply heard his machine gun-fast, robot-accurate drumming. while plourde, or any of his bands (excluding perhaps the atari's flash-in-the-pan hit, covering a terrible don henley song), never really made it to the big time, much of the drum work he did on various records is seared into the identity of a generation of counter-culture youth from america's suburbs.

i should note that i'm not trying to make light of a guy who committed suicide here, but making an analogy of plourde to this season's jazz isn't terribly difficult.

the utah jazz came late to the NBA game, moving from new orleans to a state "where music is illegal" around the same time the larry bird entered the league. the franchise made a handful of brilliant moves in the 1980's, culminating a decade later with a pair of runs at a world championship. 13 seasons after utah's last shot at a title, the wheels fell off the car when sloan resigned and the front office traded an all-star point guard midseason. according to david locke (and reality), even before the moves, the team had been showing multiple signs of an major problems back in december. trading deron williams, then, wasn't really the initial death knell for the jazz season. it was more of the coup de grĂ¢ce.

for jazz fans, other than what seemed like a mild hiccup between the stockton/malone era and the deron williams years, there has always been light at the end of the tunnel; even with a mediocre season, the playoffs have been a virtual certainty for the salt lake city franchise. but now the all-too-real potential of having a regular season only team is starting to weigh heavily on many jazz fans, including yours truly.

when plourde left lagwagon, the band was able to move forward without missing much of a beat; the group's best-selling album (1999's "let's talk about feelings") was recorded with a new man behind the drum kit. arguably the best effort from the band after their 2000 hiatus was, in fact, the album dedicated to their fallen colleague.

while most jazz fans have stayed relatively upbeat about the future prospects of the team, i think it's fair to say that all of us have indulged in a bit of pitying ourselves and the organization. if the best thing we have to look forward to is reflecting on the glory years of a squad that never won a title, it's going to be a long and thankless road.

i think karl malone's attitude, that the team needs to look back at what worked on a fundamental level (grit and execution), is likely to be the saving grace next season, despite whatever moves are made by the front office personnel. sometimes, a now-irrelevant band channels an intensity of emotion lost after a career of never quite making it to the big time in order to cap its catalog with a masterpiece. but it wasn't solely the emotion that made resolve such an amazing record. it was a band that had honed its craft to perfection. it took reflection. it took work.

it's an old cliche that you never know what the future may bring. but occasionally, when fortune brings disaster, something amazing results. maybe the death of 25 years of reliably great jazz basketball will mark the birth of the next 25. but it's not going to come without some pain.

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