31 May 2005

Feliz Cumpleaños

I'd like to continue to blame jetlag for my lack of productivity, but I'm sleeping just fine. The cause is something more insidious and painful--laziness, malaise, complacency. Throw in a three-day weekend and my birthday and I'm truly hopeless.

Speaking of birthdays, I've missed all kinds of them. So forgive me if you will. Speedy, Nils, whoever else. It's not that I don't care, it's just that I'm a bad person. But you probably already know that. So let's move on.

I recommend When We Were Kings--a 1996 documentary about the Ali-Foreman fight in Zaire--to anyone who cares one bit about personality and perspective. I've heard it before, but it took this li'l film to force the point: Ali was a one-of-a-kind. He captivates and entertains and mystifies like no other athlete had or will. His fearless interviews and unruly responses were both shocking and beautiful. Ali was a poet, even in an academic sense. Language obeyed his commands and words twisted to follow his jabs. It's sad to think that Ali would be devoured alive today. We simply can't handle brilliance anymore. We're afraid of athletes who say something beyond "We just need to play harder." We're petrified when an athlete exhibits political opinions. And if he were on the scene today, we'd call for Ali's head every time he opened his mouth. We've smoothed over his rough spots and his current physical condition paints an illusion of harmlessness. If it weren't for his deteriorating motor skills, I have no doubt that Ali would be tearing us all apart today. And I'd be loving every second of it.

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