Monday, July 27, 2015
Sunday, July 26, 2015
Maybin landed on a couple other NFL rosters over the next few years, and he had what looked like a decent season for the Jets, although a case can be made that his good sack numbers that year reflect the quality of the Jets' defensive backfield that year (which was awesome). But Maybin still never caught on anywhere as a productive regular player, let alone a star, and he's been OOF -- Out Of Football -- for a few years now, mostly forgotten except by masochistic Bills fans who like to bring up the name, every once in a while, of one the biggest draft busts in franchise history.
In today's Buffalo News, however, writer Tim Graham has a remarkable story on Maybin's life since football and the factors that shaped his experience within the game. It's a pretty amazing piece, and I highly recommend reading it.
The Bills drafted Maybin 11th overall in 2009. Two years, one vainglorious rap song, several flamboyant hairstyles and zero sacks later, the Bills cut him. He was out of the NFL after four seasons.
Maybin isn’t solely to blame. Rare are the instances when an athlete’s inability to meet grand expectations is his fault alone.
Maybin, after all, led the 2011 New York Jets in sacks and tied for fifth among all NFL players in forced fumbles. He retired with an offer from the Indianapolis Colts on the table.
But with the Bills, he was miscast, mismanaged and misunderstood. He was unfinished when he arrived, and still unfinished when the Bills discarded him.
I've seen my feelings on football shift significantly over the last five years or so. I admit that it's easy to take a second look at one's fandom when the favorite team is constantly bad; maybe if the Bills had been a regular playoff team or even a Super Bowl contender, I'd be a lot more of a fan right now. But maybe not. It seems to me that football's ugly side has really come out in recent years, from the constant fleecing of taxpayers for the building of stadiums* to the way the game tends to leave its former players with lasting brain damage. I find myself more and more sympathetic to the increasing numbers of players who have walked away from football, while seemingly in their prime and with millions of dollars potentially left to earn.
The fact is, we tend to view our teams as singular entities with interchangeable parts called "players". Graham's article on Maybin serves as a valuable reminder that the "parts" are, in fact, human beings, and as such, they bring all their various challenges and difficulties and quirks along with them. In Maybin's case, it's a good dose of poor decision-making, coupled with some hard-ball contract negotiating by the team, coupled with life experiences that add to the difficulties. Maybin also had great physical difficulty simply gaining weight to be the proper size for an NFL player, and he happened to be struggling with all of this at a time when the franchise was experiencing massive turnover in the front office and in the coaching staff. All that can wreak havoc with a young player who is still trying to grow and learn the game, and to me, it's no surprise at all that Maybin eventually decided that he just wasn't all that emotionally invested in football at all.
What is Maybin doing now? He's a painter.
Maybin’s garage is full of finished canvases, leaning on each other in rows.
There are portraits of Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali, Joe Paterno and Tupac Shakur, unhinged erotica, challenging images of gladiatorial sport and slavery, inner-city reflections on death, oppression and strife.
“All my painting I do from the soul, and very rarely does somebody understand it,” Maybin said. “But everything you see me create came from me.
“The beauty in art is that it has so many interpretations. I just want you to feel something to the point of starting a conversation.”
I'm not equipped to say whether he's a good one or not, but I do like what I've seen of his art. We often hear that there is life after football, but it seems to me that sports fans don't always like to admit that there is life instead of football, too. In fact, there are times when I think that fans should not only realize that there is life instead of football for the players, but there is life instead of football for the fans. Yes, I hated Aaron Maybin as a player.
And then I realized what a colossally stupid reason that is to hate someone.
* Want to know how insane the stadium thing is? Take the case of Atlanta, where the football Falcons will begin play in a new stadium in 2017, replacing their existing stadium which opened in 1992. That's twenty-five years. And the baseball Braves? They're moving that same year to their new ballpark, replacing a stadium that opened in 1997. They didn't even get a combined FIFTY YEARS out of their existing facilities. That is batshit crazy.
Friday, July 24, 2015
Joke the First: Why does a milking stool only have three legs?
Because the cow has the udder!
(hat tip to Roger, who e-mailed me that one)
Joke the second: Two antennas met on a roof, fell in love, and got married. The ceremony was just OK, but the reception was awesome!
Thursday, July 23, 2015
Anyway, here's something interesting. It should embed as a playlist, if I did it right. It's Bikel singing Yiddish folk and theater songs. This is music I know very little about.
I salute your long and energetic life, Mr. Bikel!
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
People never had trouble finding our house.
"It's the one with the giant maple in front," I'd say, "the one with the tire swing."
That was enough. They'd see the tree, massive, 60 feet tall and almost as wide, then behind is, hiding, our 1905 farmhouse.
The tree was one of the oldest in Northbrook: easily 125 years old, and was perhaps the best feature about our place. A living link to the 19th century.
"I bought the tree," I'd tell visitors, "and the house came with it."
Read the whole thing. It's a lovely piece of writing; elegiac and affirming at the same time.
An early episode of South Park established that if Cartman hears the tiniest snippet of "Come Sail Away" by Styx, he has to sing the entire song. I suspect we all have a song that we just have to finish if we hear its beginning, no matter where we are...call it a "Stay In The Car" song. What's yours?
Monday, July 20, 2015
There's a children's book I read not long after we moved to Allegany, NY, in 1981. I don't recall exactly when I read it, or the circumstances under which a copy found its way into my hands; I don't recall if I owned it or if it was a library book. The book's title is Paddle To The Sea, by Holling Clancy Holling. If I owned this book, it vanished from my personal library years ago. However, I found myself remembering it recently, so I availed myself of the Erie County Public Library and checked it out.
The book came out in 1941, and it tells a simple story: a young boy living in Canada carves a wooden Indian in a canoe, names him "Paddle To The Sea", and sets him afloat on a river that empties into the northern reaches of Lake Superior.
From there, Paddle follows the long and improbable journey through every one of the Great Lakes, until he finally reaches the St. Lawrence River and the Atlantic Ocean. Paddle's journey is mainly a narrative frame, though, which supports Holling's real goal: exploring the nature of these five enormous lakes.
Along the way Paddle encounters various obstacles and dangers, such as the huge cargo ships on Lake Superior, the enormous waterfalls at Niagara, and a sawmill, whose operation Holling depicts:
I also love the fanciful ways Holling interprets the shapes of the lakes themselves. Lake Superior as a wolf's head is pretty obvious, I suppose, but the others are impressively creative, and I have thought of all the Great Lakes as these shapes ever since I read the book when I was ten or eleven. I remember a conversation with some college mates, trying to explain to them this particular interpretation of the shape of Lake Huron, and I remember wishing I had a copy of the book then to show them.
Holling's prose is somewhat dated at this point, but that's to be expected, and I wonder how Holling would depict the Great Lakes now, since the region endured a period of extended decline that began not terribly long after this book came out and which some might still think is going on. But it's still a region of nature and industry often side-by-side, all of it dominated by these enormous bodies of water.
Paddle To The Sea is a wonderful piece of Great Lakes lore, and I'm glad I took the time to revisit it.
Sunday, July 19, 2015
:: One night, while we were sitting around at home reading stuff, The Wife came across this, and mentioned it to me. I said, "That can't be right," but lo and behold, apparently it was. The thing? Well, you know those incubator things they put premature babies into, so as to keep them nicely warm while they develop after their births? Apparently the guy who invented those had no luck convincing the scientific community of their validity, so he did the next best thing: he set up a sideshow at New York's Coney Island to display them to the public. Babies and all.
Sometimes human progress happens so strangely.
:: Want to get some kind of notion of the scales of the distances in space? Say, the scales the NASA people were working with in flying New Horizons to Pluto? Check out If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel. Space is big, yo.
:: For the record: the perpetrator of this prank was not me.
That is all.
Friday, July 17, 2015
There are a lot of other videos from this same interview on YouTube; I plan to watch a bunch of 'em this weekend. Hat-tips to Mark Evanier, where I first saw the video, and Roger, who notified me of its existence via electronic pony express thing.
(Oh, and the bit of advice in question from Mr. Simon? I'm not sure if I follow that or not, to be honest. I tend to write until I'm tired and don't want to write anymore. On reflection I think I very well might follow this advice, but I've never really thought about it. I'll pay more attention next time I'm working on something new.)