GC periodically sends these emails around to the CSTB contributors — ‘going to be doing important music business stuff all day and all night, please chip in if you wish’ — and I have done nothing to chip in. I have read some really great stories for my increasingly time-consuming other sportswriting gig that I meant to link to, just really quickly so you all could read them, and I haven’t done that, either. Looking back, I guess I was waiting. I was waiting for the right moment. I was waiting, apparently, for a dime-a-dozen, tossed-off, it’s-tough-being-white whiner from Phil Mushnick concerning a long-forgotten sports-handicapping bigot and a familiar bete noire rapper, it turns out.
Yes, Philly Mush is comparing this handsome fellow to Styles P of the Lox… again. Wait, no he’s not. P-Mush is, instead, making a comparison between Jimmy the Greek (above) — the subject of Tuesday’s (unseen by me) ESPN 30-for-30 documentary — and Jay-Z. Even Phil doesn’t really seem that into it, which I think is the reason why the column resonated with me. Mushnick knew J “the G” S (of fucking course) and is even more favorably inclined towards the ghastly Goodfellas-extra-looking Snyder than you might expect.
There is the matter of Jimmy the Greek torpedoing his (now hard-to-comprehend) career with some drunken racialist ignorance, of course, but there’s an easy workaround there. Here’s Mushnick talking about Jimmy the Greek’s career-ender of an interview — “If they take over coaching like everyone wants them to,” J the G said, “there won’t be anything left for the white people;” after the ellipses, he’s (um) putting things in perspective:
It all came out the same: Ugly. [Snyder] sounded like a racist.
But what could anyone expect? For crying out loud, he was from river-town Steubenville, Ohio; he was a kid when his uncle shot and killed his immigrant mother. Who did CBS think was in its employ, Adlai Stevenson? His 12 years as a kibitzer/tout on CBS’s NFL pregame show were based on being a street guy with a big mouth and lots of opinions. And so CBS fired him because he was a street guy with a big mouth and lots of opinions.
Abandoned as a pariah, The Greek’s career — TV, movies, commercial gigs — was over. He’d gone bust before, lots of times, but he wasn’t going to rally from a racist rap…
Back to colliding circumstances. For the last few weeks we’ve been told that Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind,” has become the Yankees’ anthem. Invited by MLB to perform a sanitized version in Yankee Stadium and on Fox before the World Series, Jay-Z has been embraced by the NBA (he’s a part-owner of the Nets), Mayor Bloomberg, Al Sharpton, the pandering media and millions of mostly young Americans.
Yet, his stock in trade is the promotion of every run-backwards, self-enslaving stereotype of blacks, from violent crime to the degradation of women, from drugs, call-out trash-talk and endless boasting, to a fixation on wild spending on cars and jewelry.
So, okay: it’s no surprise that Mushnick is more eager to cut a break to the playing-down-to-expectations fatuous (ethnic white) mouth born in a river town than the (now equally fatuous, albeit in a different way) urban black mouth from the Marcy Projects who is playing down to his own set of expectations. Not shocking, given Mushnick’s
long-running crusade against the existence of the Pacific Time Zone bold, racialized criticism of hard-to-defend black media figures brave stance against the national epidemic of white people not being able to just do whatever like in the old days before the PC gestapo. It’s just another underwrought, race-baiting column from a clownish, curmudgeonly relic — swap Jimmy the Greek out for basically anything and leave Jay-Z where he is and you’ve got the framework for maybe three columns for every ten Mushnick writes.
But it’s more meaningful, maybe, in that these are tough times at Mushnick’s employer, the New York Post. Long a lawless, chuckling bastion of proud ignorance, vituperative score-settling and dim white rage, the Post has seen its circulation crater at a rate that surpasses even the national average, and has just seen much of the masthead been named in a race- and sex-discrimination suit by a former employee that gets a meticulous going over from John Cook at Gawker. Spoiler alert: apparently EIC Col Allan is into showing iPhone photos of weens to female employees, which is presumably soothing/amusing to a certain type of dude. Clearly things have been better at New York’s reigning populo-conservative frat house.
Which is a bummer for them, I guess. But there’s something especially end-stage to me about Mushnick’s phoned-in, passionless ignorance in that Jimmy the Greek column. The column is not notably less dumb or offensive for that, nor is Mush’s familiar woe-is-us-for-reverse-racism tack any less risible. But it’s of a piece with the rhetorical trend at the Post-y center-fringe of the political discourse at the moment — take the “Alleged White Bigot X is not as bad as Jay-Z” tack, which I saw repeated dully, duly in several newspapers’ online comment sections while doing my Daily Fix-related homework on Rush Limbaugh’s ill-fated attempt to buy the Rams. This is dumb stuff, naturally, but, more to the point, it’s lazy. The world is changing (not just because there’s a minority guy in the White House but also for that reason) and no one quite knows where it’s going. Maybe it’s that I just spent a friend’s wedding weekend in a Virginia town that felt like it could’ve been in Moldova, cigarette-choked and hopeless as it was, but things, broadly, don’t necessarily seem to me to be heading someplace good at present.
The options we have, then, are to engage that world on its own frightening terms — to deal with the replacement of rusted old Jimmy the Greeks with something more contemporary, if you want, but more broadly to deal with harder things and harder-to-understand things to come — or to just not engage the world as it is, and choose instead to slip into soothing, self-victimizing solipsism. Mushnick was doing this long before Obama’s America became some nightmare dystopian code-word, of course. But the Post‘s time is passing even faster than other newspapers’, and it looks like they — Mushnick and the cock-intensive editorial board and the rest — will take whatever’s coming with the same bilious, self-pitying un-grace with which they usually take everything. Or refuse to take it, I guess.