i remember back in 2011 i was dominating my fantasy football league because of this surprise tight end on the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS was dominating the NFL. that tight end was AARON HERNANDEZ. my thought process was basically that quarterback TOM BRADY was so efficient that all of his possible receivers would have inflated stats and as it turned out i was correct. the other tight end ROB GRONKOWSKI was a high pick in every draft but HERNANDEZ was a sleeper. the next year i chose him again when oddly partway through the season he stopped because he was being investigated in a homicide. jokingly i remember complaining that of course this happens to my team, but quickly i realized that most in my position in all likelihood did not share my healthy distance from my own competitive self-interests.
i think one of the key components that make KILLER INSIDE: THE MIND OF AARON HERNANDEZ (NETFLIX, 2020) such a deeply distubing documentary is the culpability of all of us in this game that literally grinds up men and chews them out as broken shadows of their former selves. to me that was the bottom line as told through the story of a deeply troubled player with questionable morals that succeeded and was given no guardrails or boundaries due to his athletic prowess and our collective cult-like adoration to modern athletes.
this devotion is hollow in that none of us truly care about these players once they leave the field of play. think about that for a minute. we use these men.
HERNANDEZ throughout the 3-hour, 3-part documentary is shown to be a freak athlete who suffered through family chaos, repressed sexuality and a diminished control over his emotions that was almost certainly a result of CTE due to concussions going back to high school. this is not to say that the film offers him excuses for his actions, it doesnt. its conceit is that he had agency and made terrible choices based on a myriad of underlying issues that complicated his sense of identity and position in society. the murders he was accused of conducting were heinous and senseless and beyond tragic, as those he lashed out against were normal working-class people unassociated with any underworld connections.
you just get the feeling that this guy needed help at every stage in his development and all anyone saw in him was dollar signs. as consumers we are all implicated in the bloodsport that is AMERICAN football and the NCAA and the NFL are both hollow organizations that cater to this impulse for violence. at some point we have to come to terms with the sport and the wake of human wreckage it leaves behind. notwithstanding is the equally brutal, almost spartan, connotations it provides in celebrating a particular strain of toxic masculinity to the youth that isn't representative, fair or healthy.
real bravery is living your truth and taking responsibility for your actions. not violence. the NFL is a scourge on our society. they know they profit from and celebrate human carnage. can't help but muse over the spiraling lasting societal effects of a generation of athletes dealing with undiagnosable traumatic brain injuries. the effects on their wives, husbands, children, siblings, parents and loved ones.
powerful film well worth investigating. highly recommended.
with our country again on the brink of another needless war brought on by hubris and greed, i went back and rewatched ERROL MORRIS' masterful documentary THE FOG OF WAR (SONY PICTURES CLASSICS, 2003) in which he interviewed former secretary of defense (under both JFK and LBJ) and effective VIETNAM WAR architect, ROBERT S. MCNAMARA. MORRIS employs his combative style whereby he forgoes KEN BURNS-style narration and just directly confronts his subject from an off-camera vantage point. in effect he acts has surrogate of the audience, which is an engaging tactic. in this film it functions as a way of controlling the narrative and challenges the opinions of MCNAMARA, who had his own agenda.
nearing the end of his life, MCNAMARA used this interview as vehicle to both reflect on his controversial career in government and impart hard-fought wisdom on future decision-makers in WASHINGTON, specifically those tasked with matters of war and peace. so in a sense this film is heavy.
he goes about drawing out 11 LESSONS from his participation in VIETNAM. they include:
that was a lot of material to just throw out there i am aware, but what interests me now about our current situation are the first two lessons, which basically can summarized as put yourself in the shoes of your enemy and attempt to understand the forces that drive their decisions, both geopolitically and domestically. this documentary came out in the aftermath of the disastrous 2003 decision to go to war with IRAQ, which itself was made without a clear understanding (and i would characterize it more directly as "blatant disregard") of the regional, cultural and historical context of which we were attempting to effect. funny enough, the SECRETARY OF DEFENCE involved with that decision, DONLAD RUMSFELD is the subject of another MORRIS documentary entitled THE KNOWN UNKNOWN (MOXIE FILMS, 2013). unlike MCNAMARA, RUMSFELD is the living embodiment of obfuscation and weaseling from responsibility. he is a lesser man.
what scares me now is that we have descended even further down the rabbit hole from RUMSFELD, who manipulated information but valued it. today we are entering a reality where the only reality that matters is that of DONALD TRUMP and his misguided sycophants and enablers. i am scared and for good reason. MCNAMARA encourages us to see past our confirmation biases and have as wide a net of perspectives involved when considering violent action on a state level. those perspectives include that of our enemy.
at this current juncture in history, the only line that demarcates enemy from ally is who coddles the delusions of our commander in chief. shame on MIKE PENCE, MIKE POMPEO, STEPHEN MILLER, JARED KUSHNER, STEPHEN BANNON, IVANKA TRUMP, RUPERT MURDOCH, RUSH LIMBAUGH, SEAN HANNITY, LAURA INGRAHAM, MARK LEVIN, TUCKER CARLSON, MITCH MCCONNELL, KEVIN MCCARTHY and the entire REPUBLICAN contingent in both houses of CONGRESS.
may history judge you harshly for enabling this clown to run roughshod over our constitution and sully our flag in the eyes of the world. shame on you.
early 20th century french conceptual artist MARCEL DUCHAMP once stated that america's greatest work of art was its plumbing. to him the object was redefined and elevated to that of art purely by the transformational gaze of the artist.
i couldn't help but think of that idea when recently watching a documentary on the legendary BONES BRIGADE 1980s skateboard team for epoch establishing skateboard company POWELL PERALTA, which notably included STEVE CABALLERO, TONY HAWK, LANCE MOUNTAIN, RODNEY MULLEN, TOMMY GUERRERO, and MIKE MCGILL and later BUCKY LASEK, MIKE VALLELY and DANNY WAY among others. BONES BRIGADE: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY (NONFICTION UNLIMITED 2012) was directed by STACY PERALTA of POWELL PERALTA and Z-BOYS fame.
for me what made this documentary interesting is that skateboarding for this generation provided a way of reinterpreting the landscape in just as radical a manner as the ROMANTICS or TRANSCENDENTALISTS of the past. oppressive suburban monotony and urban jungles were transformed into a never ending canvass upon which to explore. as much as these athletes provided a new touchstone that shifted culture in terms of sports, fashion, music and normative definitions of masculinity, it is this freedom that they exemplified that i still find the most compelling.
for me personally i only experienced that level of transformation with my surroundings when i got a honda click scooter in MYANMAR. man i loved that bike. life over there was pretty isolating and monotonous where essentially i lived on the same compound of the school, which felt like a prison. the military government felt rather oppressive and it was a situation where you felt like you were being constantly monitored. i only lasted a year at that school and was happy to leave. but having that bike made my year. it gave me the freedom to really explore the countryside and meet locals, talk with artists and monks from other towns and villages. even now i can still smell the air of the rice fields and see water buffalo lounging in the distance.
without that bike i literally would've been stuck in that compound with a bunch of complaining ex-patriots (mostly americans) whining about some inconsequential bullshit. instead i was out taking in the food, sights and culture of the northern region surrounding MANDALAY. there is something visceral about feeling the wind in your face and being physically traveling in space, not in a traveling air-conditioned room (a la cars, trucks, etc) that makes you really take in the surrounding landscape and notice how it shifts and alters over time. maybe this has little to do with skateboarding, but i really miss that feeling. know i understand the risk/reward of motorcycles.