Thursday, February 9, 2012

making friends

today's post inspired by lagwagon.

when i started blogging about the jazz roughly 14 months ago, i wasn't exactly sure what my angle was going to be.  i had tried out for one of the jazzbot positions and made it through the preliminary round of submissions.  when i was interviewed on the phone in the second round, derrick asked me a question:  "what will set you apart from the other jazzbot writers?"  even though it was a pretty simple question (and one that i should have anticipated), i didn't have are ready answer.  i vaguely remember sputtering out something about having a fan perspective from another large-market team's home base and being a second-time-around jazz fan.  i solidly remember not being offered the jazzbot position, and it didn't take me long to figure out why.

this blog has been, for the most part, pretty scattered in its focus.  it's more of a diary of my experiences and unfiltered thoughts on the jazz than any of the publishable-quality posts you see at the premier jazz blogs (namely SLC dunk and salt city hoops, along with the jazzbots and jazznots at utahjazz360).  i don't have much of an end game in mind, and while i've dabbled in some stat work, i'm coming to terms with the facts that (1) i'm not great with math or excel, and (2) my understanding of the game of basketball itself is, shall we say, less than perfect.

fortunately, the experience hasn't been a wash.  somewhere along the lines i figured i could fuse my experiences as an aspiring punk rock musician with my passion for LHM-related basketball, and it's clicked for me today why that parallel seemed so obvious and easy.  while i've been trying to make this blog something people will be willing to read without smashing their monitor in disgust, i've also had the pleasure of being welcomed into the jazz fan community with open arms via twitter.  for those of you who are/were a part of a serious underground/counter-culture movement or scene, you know how rare it is to find community in something that seems, facially, universally accessible and bereft of deeper meaning.  i had that kind of connection through music in high school and college; i'm finding it again through the utah jazz.

it's eerie how similar the larger families of punk rock and jazz basketball are.  effectively, once you know a few of the buzzwords and how to swing the lingo around, you're in.  with punk rock, it was appreciation for bad religion and the descendents that got me past "poser" status when meeting other band kids, even though we were all photocopying green day and nofx song structures.  as i grew older and started meeting people with more sophisticated tastes, referencing the fugazi catalog and understanding the relationships between fat wreck chords artists more or less guaranteed you an inner-circle spot among active SLC punk rock musicians, even if i was more into social distortion-inspired pompadours than circle jerk bondage pants.  ultimately, opening for guttermouth (or whatever other 40-somethings pass through the shittiest dive in salt lake) seals you as a member of the fraternity of serious punk rock fans, and you get that badge forever, even if you take your gauges out, get married, and move to new jersey for law school.

i'm seeing the same pattern happen to me within the jazz fan community; going from a guy who watched deron's first few seasons with something between hope and disinterest, and having that blossom into having things like an autographed millsap jersey on my wall, and actually making new friends.  i've been fortunate enough reconnect with a cousin i hadn't seen in well over a decade, score amazing tickets to some of the year's best (so far) home games, and feel like i'm a part of something that shouldn't matter because it's "just a business."  but that's the fun thing about this jazz team and supporting it--it's not just a business.  it's a team that, despite its early stumbles, is showing willingness to back each other universally and fight hard when it has to.  that kind of camaraderie is something i've missed since leaving my last band almost four years ago.

maybe this jazz team doesn't make the playoffs this year, and maybe they don't win another game on the road for a month.  maybe millsap and CJ, the two longest-tenured jazzmen on the roster, get traded for an old man from boston with an outside shot.  i don't know how things are going to play out.  but, i do have to say, just being a part of it, with a bunch of other people who also simply love being a part of it, has been pretty amazing so far.

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