Happy Thursday, chillest of days, to all the readers out there. It’s the first day of October, and this slow jam goes out to you lovely people from Cleveland to Casablanca, the fellas and honeys working hard and making this world worth living in.
On Wednesday Will talked about how excited he was for the Cleveland Cavaliers season to start, and I want to echo those sentiments. The Cleveland Indians have been simultaneously disappointing and surprisingly fun (now with bat flips!) — thanks for the latter primarily due to Francisco Lindor. But the whole Indians season has been rife with anxiety that the final bell could toll at any moment and that the Indians’ continually depressed (in more ways than one) attendance is something that needs to be explained or for which someone or something should be blamed.1 The Browns are fun in a nontraditional sense, challenging me in philosophical ways never contemplated by other fan bases — forcing to me to ask whether a taco is a sandwich and how it relates to my own existence, the meaning of life, and the definition of a quarterback. But the high stakes existential exercises I face every Sunday with the Browns are emotionally taxing.
What I’m getting at is that both the Indians and Browns seasons have been like … really heavy. In an emotional sense that is. The Marty McFly sense. Not the literal, force-of-the-pull-of-gravity sense. The high notes have been drowned out by low frequency yawns like that of a great whale announcing that it was coming to swallow us whole — forever reminding us of the impending doom. It’s been exhausting.
In fact, most of the Cavs’ previous season was exhausting too. The team had all the expectations of the universe on its back as the media vigilantly took every minor infraction as a sign of impending collapse, discord, and betrayal. As such, the team didn’t gel until mid-January.
This season, the Cavs are the first Cleveland team with a low-stakes regular season since the 2008 Cavs. The 2009 Cavs had all the pre-Decision whispers that turned out to be louder than we then anticipated. But we know fo’ real this time how good the team can and will be absent an alien abduction. We already saw it in the playoffs last season. Growing pains over.
This could mean that the Cavs will spend the regular season goofing around and slacking off and mucking it up and chilling in modes and coasting until the postseason with a mediocre record. But I think we’ll see the opposite. I think the relaxed but focused vibe Scott discussed on Monday will lead to a loose and liberating atmosphere that will allow the Cavs to reach their potential.
Instead of the tense atmosphere reminiscent of so many Cleveland teams of years past, it will be a relief to watch the Cavs a few days a week and take joy in their casual excellence. Finally! a little levity in one of my teams.2 Because let’s face it, the pressure on marginal teams can be suffocating. I expect the atmosphere around the Cavs to be invigorating in an incredibly refreshing way — something we haven’t seen for quite some time.
Keith Richards is an effing rock star. Because I grew up decades after the height of their fame, I’ve taken for granted that the Rolling Stones are probably the greatest “rock and roll” band ever — you don’t need me to tell you that. But in the past week I’ve been inundated with Keith Richards, who’s been promoting his new album Crosseyed Heart.
First, I heard Richards on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast. It was typical Maron, somehow his disarming charm and self-deprecating humor caused his subject to bear his soul in unusual ways. Then I heard Richards doing spots on SiriusXM’s Classic Vinyl. Finally, I watched the Netflix documentary Under the Influence, not because I wanted to fill every waking moment of my life with Keith Richards, but because it was conveniently in front of my mouse cursor and I like to fall asleep to documentaries.
I don’t have much to say except that Keith Richards is a rock star in every sense. The Rolling Stones toured this year! Keith is 71 rock star years old, which is basically 240 normal earth human years given the amount of self-inflicted damage he’s caused his own body. He still smokes Marlboro reds! Maybe he can’t rock like he did in 1970 when Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! was released, but he’s still smoking and drinking and playing rock concerts for 100,000 people when I’m phlegmatic for two weeks if I touch a Marlboro red. How is Keith Richards still alive? The man is immortal.
I was also struck by how consciously he’s constructed his and the Stones’ sound. It’s easy to mistake him for an old drug-addled mumbling fool, but Richards is a musical anthropologist who deliberately appropriated the sounds of American blues and country music to transform “rock and roll.” The Maron interview is a gem, as is the part of Under the Influence when Richards and Buddy Guy talk about the blues over some white lightning and a game of a pool. Now go listen to “Street Fighting Man” like it’s the first time and pretend that isn’t some righteous stuff from an all-time badass.
Your random Calvin and Hobbes strip of the day. Boy, if there’s any truth to misery making you a more resilient person, then being a Cleveland fan must have given me more character than the entire cast of Boogie Nights.
And now for the random 90s song of the day. The opening monologue “Time to Relax” on The Offspring album Smash tells listeners, “Go on and indulge yourself, kick off your shoes, put your feet up, lean back and just enjoy the melodies. After all, music soothes even the savage beast.”
Unlike a lot of 90s music, Smash holds up as a surprisingly listenable straightforward rock album even though we’d ridicule it as unimaginative and juvenile today. “Self Esteem,” one of the best tracks from the 1994 release, contains an easily discernible message for the self-loathing sports fan. Oh, and the music video is self-serious radioactive hot garbage featuring a white guy with braids and a serious possibility of setting off an epileptic seizure. The mid-90s must have been a great time to be the guy running the smoke machine for music videos.
Now I know I’m being used
That’s okay, man, ’cause I like the abuse
I know [my team]’s playing with me
That’s okay ’cause I’ve got no self-esteem
Oh yeah yeah yeah
Oh yeah yeah