An Open Letter To NBC

Dear NBC,

At this very moment, I am sitting here watching your coverage of men’s diving.  As a homosexual, I love men’s diving because (1) it features beautiful men in very revealing outfits; and (2) one of those beautiful men is Australia’s Matthew Mitcham.

As you are well aware, Matthew is an icon and a hero among gay men because he is an openly gay athlete, and as an openly gay athlete he won a gold medal four years ago in Beijing.  Four years ago, you refused to acknowledge that Matthew was gay and bent over backwards to avoid mentioning anyone in his personal life beyond his (lovely, adorable, wonderful) mother.  Primarily, the person you ignored was Matthew’s partner Lachland Fletcher.  Mentioning Lachland was important, not just because he was Matthew’s partner, but because Matthew could not afford to bring Lachland to Beijing.  Lachland was only able to attend because Matthew got a grant from Johnson & Johnson’s Athlete Family Support Program.  (Given your propensity for triumph-over-struggle features about athletes, one would think this story would have been perfect for you.)

This enraged the LGBT community, and you could not understand why.  This is why: Lachland is Matthew’s family.  Therefore, when you deliberately ignored Matthew’s partner–something you would celebrate for any heterosexual athlete–because you didn’t want to interfere with Matthew privacy (yeah, right), you slapped every gay and lesbian person in the face.  We exist, and we have families.  Our spouses may be the same gender, but we are just as proud of them as our straight peers.  Maybe your viewers in Branson, Missouri or wherever get squeamish about the same genitals thing, but that’s just tough for them.  Welcome to the 21st century.

Therefore, I was very happy tonight to see one of your soft focus, sappy features on Matthew which explored in great detail his homosexuality, how he came to grips with it, and how the gay community has embraced him as a hero.  And because you even showed Matthew embracing Lachland after he won the gold, so I was willing to let bygones be bygones.  But then back in London, when showing Matthew’s next dive, your commentator mentioned Matthew’s embrace with “his friend.”

Friend?  Are we back in the coded closet days of the 1950’s or the early days of AIDS in the 1980’s.  Lachland is not Matthew’s friend.  They are boyfriends, or partners, or whatever they call their relationship (Australia does not yet have marriage equality), but they are far more than friends.

I don’t believe that you or your commentators are homophobic, but the squeamishness about Matthew’s homosexuality and his boyfriend (of years) has to go.   This is not just about Matthew and Lachland.  It is about recognizing and affirming the LGBT population and our families and relationships.  We matter.  Our relationships matter.  If you are going to pimp “The New Normal,” a show that has a gay relationship at the center, then please do us the decency to recognize us as equals.

I expect this to be fixed by Rio 2016.

Solitary Muser

Please Don’t Go, Pep!

Now that André Villas-Boas has been sacked, Chelsea is looking for a new manager.  Again.

I never quite understood why Villas-Boas went to Chelsea to begin with.  Well, obviously I do understand; money talks.  But at the time he signed I felt like Villas-Boas was shooting himself in the foot.  Had he stayed at Porto, he would have gotten some Champions League experience, and probably another league title.  Chelsea paid better and was higher-profile, but there were far too many pitfalls.  If the England manager is a poison chalice, than how much worse is Chelsea manager?  Not only do you have to deal with the press and the inflated expectations to win everything, you also have no time to settle in before someone is calling for your head–even when you are winning.  On top of that the players control the locker room, and really who wants to be subservient to a loathsome human being like John Terry?  Then there is the shadow figure of Roman Abramovich who expects nothing less than total domination in England–a feat that may be more and more unlikely as Manchester City can now match him dollar for dollar–and the Champions League.  Above all there is the memory of José Mourinho.  It’s unfair of course, Mourinho never won the Champions League at Chelsea either (and lest we forget, Mourinho was also sacked), but Mourinho brought Chelsea to heights it had never before scaled and has yet to attain again–even if Chelsea actually did won the League/Cup double under Carlo Ancelotti.

Villas-Boas definitely did himself no favors, and as the pressure ratcheted up on all sides, he cracked.  A deity in Porto and a laughingstock in London.  It’s almost Shakespearean in tragic scope.

So now Abramovich is looked for a new manager and his eye is firmly fixed on Spain, at least if we are to believe the British press.  Mourinho’s name is being thrown around, which is not a surprise given his (inevitable) unhappiness in Madrid and the fact that his name is always thrown around whenever Chelsea need a new manager.  Rafa Benitez has also been mentioned, which boggles the mind given (1) how long ago his success was, and (2) he much of a buffoonish figure he has become.

But for me, the most alarming name mentioned is Pep Guardiola who has (again) been hedging about signing a new contract for Barcelona.  Guardiola is the best manager Barcelona ever had.  In not fully four seasons he won 13 of a possible 16 titles, and possibly could have won more if not for an unpronounceable volcano in Iceland.  He is the epitome of the Barcelona system; he grew up in the academy, played for the first team, captained the team, managed Barcelona B, managed Barcelona proper, and is now the city’s most favored son.  Pep Guardiola is Barcelona.

Managing Barcelona is not easy.  It has aged Guardiola very rapidly.  No doubt Guardiola is also a man aware of history.  While I wouldn’t agree, there are so many pundits who believe that if Guardiola wants to be considered one of the greatest coaches of all time, he has to go and coach and win at another club, and in another league.  Additionally, the Alex Ferguson type manager, the man who spends decades at one club as an absolute authority, is not really a viable model anymore.  If Guardiola wants to go, I wish him the best. And thus my open letter to Pep Guardiola.

Dear Pep,

If you choose to leave Barcelona, may the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back.  May sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall soft upon your fields, and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.  You’ve given so much, Pep.  You’ve turned this Barcelona team into possibly history’s greatest side.  I want you to stay, but if you feel like you’ve given all you could, then no one can ask for more than that.

But don’t go to Chelsea.  I’m thinking about you, Pep.  The Barcelona backroom may be bad, but how much worse is Chelsea where you have no allies, only the whims of Roman Abramovich?  At Barcelona the players are devoted to you, and those who are not are traded.  At Chelsea, a few over-the-hill players rule the roost.  Terry, Lampard, Drogba, they run Chelsea, not the manager.  And they won’t let you do anything to jeopardize them.  You saw Raul at Madrid and you know about Totti at Roma.  Imagine three of them instead of one.  The team needs an overhaul, and there is no La Masia production line to provide replacements.  You only have the transfer market, and no recent additions will replace the unholy trinity in the fans’ eyes.

Barcelona has aged you, but Chelsea will kill you.  Please don’t go, Pep!  Please stay, but if you can’t stay, go somewhere else where you will be the boss.  You are not some title collector like Mourinho; you are an architect and a builder.  You create, you mold, you shape, and football is all the better for it.

Pep, whatever you choose to do is fine by me.  But for your sake, please don’t be tempted by Abramovich’s money.  Look at Villas-Boas; he was on the verge of greatness, and now his career is in tatters.  I’m thinking only of you, Pep.


Solitary Muser

More On Steve Kornacki

Yesterday I wrote a post about Salon news editor Steve Kornacki’s essay in which he described living his life in the closet and publicly came out.  My boyfriend read it a couple of hours ago.  Jokingly I said, “I wasn’t too mean, was I?”  My boyfriend responded, “Maybe a little.”  I was horrified.

So let me say apologize up front.  Steve, if you are reading this, I deeply and truly apologize for being mean.  It was not my intention.  I am a big fan of your writing, and I wish you the best.  I think that it was brave of you to so publicly reflect on, evaluate, and expose your inner life the way you did.  I do not want to you to think that I am belittle your internal struggles.  Coming out is hard, no matter who, where, or when you are.  Although I have seen many positive comments toward you, I have also seen some really nasty ones from within the LGBT community, and I don’t want you to think that I think that way.

Having said that, I take back the ambivalence I expressed on reading your essay.  It was heartfelt and it was beautifully sad.  It was also very difficult to read because it was filled with internalized homophobia and self-loathing.  The Internet commentators who made me cringe, that’s what they were reacting to.  Internet posting boards are not known for nuance, and the activist element of the LGBT community tends to think in extremes.  Hence the rage and anger (and also the outright, uncritical adulation.)

I really hope that you are able to find the happiness that your fear robbed you of for so many years.  I look forward to a follow-up in a few years time where you actually get to reflect on yourself as an openly gay man and what your path has been since you came out.  After you finally moved beyond the bad feelings.  You’re a terrific writer and thinker; I can’t wait to read it.

Some Questions for Libertarians

I have a couple of questions for any Libertarian readers of mine out there (and I mean real Libertarians, not the Ron Paul/Rand Paul social conservative types who claim they are Libertarians because they hate taxes and the Federal Reserve.)  Who do you vote for in an election?  The American is such that there are only two choices, and neither of them really lines up with your core beliefs.

If I were to briefly define a Libertarian, if would be a person who loves his money and doesn’t want to be told what to do.

The truth is though that neither party suits that philosophy.  Republicans talk about cutting spending, but all that “saved” money will just to the Pentagon and the military industrial complex.  Worse, Republicans are very involved in your personal life, which I gather (although not from the media) is as big a deal to Libertarians as the money stuff.  They want to tell you what you can smoke and who you can marry.  Democrats, on the other hand, believe in spending your money and spending it on social welfare programs.  The laws they enact are a form of social control (some may call that governing, but I gather that Libertarians don’t really care too much for that either.) So who would you vote for and why?

Do you hate that the only major media portrayals of your belief are Ron and Rand Paul, who really make a mockery of them?

Are you planning on using Social Security and Medicare when you get old (or if you already are of age.)  If so, how do you do that in good conscience?

An Open Letter to Neymar

Dear Neymar,

Congratulations on winning the Copa Libertadores.  You are on your way to Superstardom, although you didn’t need to win the Libertadores for that.  Congratulations to you for helping bring Santos its greatest prize in nearly 50 years.  Santos is one of the truly legendary clubs in South American (and world football in general), and they have been away from the top for too long.  And congratulations for making the Club World Cup in December, where no doubt you will take on Barcelona.

You clearly have great potential, because already the great ones are talking about you.  Maradona is insulting you (or maybe he’s not.)  But what really concerns me is that Pele is giving you advice.  Run. Run the opposite way.  Run far and run fast.  Pele has no interest in helping you.  In fact, he is probably secretly devastated that Santos won the Copa Libertadores.  Pele will not accept anyone impinging on his legacy, especially a Brazilian, and even more so a Santos player.  He may smile and talk sweetly, but all the while he will try to stab you in the back.

I admit that I am a Barcelona fan, but that is not why I am advising against moving to Madrid.  In the whole of Brazil you are now the biggest fish.  At Madrid you may not even get off the bench.  You want to be known as the best. Better than Messi?  You have the Club World Cup and the Copa America to prove it.  Madrid was a disaster for your idol Robinho.  Now it is Cristiano Ronaldo’s club, and he will not allow interlopers, especially ones who think they are better than he is.  He will make sure that you never outshines him.  Stay in Brazil, at least until January 2012.  Then if you want to go to Madrid, all power to you.  But beware of Pele’s advice.  He is always wrong, and there is a reason for that.

Solitary Muser

An Open Letter To Diego Maradona

Dear Diego,
Look, you need to face facts.  You were a terrible coach for Argentina.  Despite the love that the media developed for your sideline antics, everyone and their grandmothers knew that eventually Argentina would go down in flames.  You had a weak group and got lucky.

Remember that you walked away from the job.  Sure you were pushed by Grondona, but you set yourself up for that.  You played a deadly game of chicken and you lost.

Now however, you are not content to merely self-immolate.  In your quest to punish Grondona, you are now trashing all the teammates who idolized you and loved.  First your constant attacks on Batista, and now on your 1994 Argentina teammates.  Please stop it.  Maybe Grondona is the ultimate evil in Argentinian football (which he probably is), but leave your teammates alone and continue your path of self-destruction on your own.


Solitary Muser

P.S.  Pele and Di Stefano were far better players than you.

Random Thoughts

My dear, dear readers.  Thank you for following me thus far.  Starting tomorrow there is going to be a change in my life, and for the next few months I probably will not have time to blog as much as I have had.  Please bear with me as I get my bearings.

It is probably for the best that I have to take a break.  The Cricket World Cup is starting soon, and I would probably try to follow it (either that or write about the African Championship of Nations, which I keep forgetting is going on right now.)  But I would also have to learn about cricket.  Since I will not have time, I can go do things that are more productive.

Barcelona drew with Gijon yesterday.  It’s amazing how depressing a draw can be.  Gijon played their anti-futbol, and that is something Barcelona will have to learn to deal with.  Certainly in the Champions League that will be something other teams will try.  I cannot imagine the pressure that the Blaugrana are under to be perfect when perfection is not something that is even possible in football.  Everyone has their bad matches.  Hopefully they can pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start winning again.