1. Shaq: It is his world; we just reside in the shadow of his nonsensical lyrics and serve to disseminate his latest batch of truly tasteless jokes. In the past week, the Man of Multitudinous Nicknames has aroused curiosity for A.) Inveigling a fortuitous trade to Cleveland,* B.) Selling his house at a loss, C.) Soliciting "Yo Mama" jokes on Twitter, and D.) Challenging a bank teller to a game of H-O-R-S-E. He is the human embodiment of the Internet, a trash-talking new-age invention who provides amusement and demands constant attention and can induce seizures upon overexposure.
This past weekend, in an attempt to separate myself from his suffocating presence and avoid getting sucked into yet another replay of the long-form version of the "Thriller" video,**my girlfriend and I walked to a new park on the west side of Manhattan called the High Line, which is essentially an extremely narrow mile-long strand of elevated railroad track that has been converted into a park at the behest of Steve Buscemi. It was O.K., except:
--There was a line. For a park. Proving further that New Yorkers are prepared to line up for anything. Also, there were hand stamps, which meant by the time we arrived at the top of the stairs, I expected Pearl Jam would be into their second set.
--There were no live tigers mixed in among the vegetation.*** This would certainly have kept those bands of tourists moving along the path.
Anyway, while ambling along, I passed a billboard advertisement for the Boys and Girls Club. On it, in all its life-sized glory, was a photo of Shaq at age 9, no doubt revving up a "Yo Mama" joke for the photographer.
2. Brandon Jennings: I don't really know much of anything about this dude, except he managed to thumb his nose at the NCAA cabal that somehow believes sending a kid to school for a single semester during his freshman year will improve both his life and our appreciation for the college game. Anyway used to be, in the olden days of "books" and machines with "metal switches," an athlete would refute the claims in his own autobiography. At least then, he could blame the co-author. But after this YouTube exchange with a rapper named Buddens, I have a feeling Brandon Jennings might not just declaim this video--he could soon wind up becoming the first NBA player to issue a statement refuting his own Twitter feed.
3. Leave Me Alone. If this video doesn't sum up the dichotomous black hole of tabloid weirdness that Michael Jackson (and our entire culture) was on the verge of descending into, circa 1987, I don't know what else I can give you, except perhaps a copy of Kazaam on VHS. And in case you're not satiated, courtesy of GQ's Alex Pappademas, here are 23 other evocative and non-obvious MJ YouTube clips, replete with excellent commentary like this: "... it comes across, eerily, like Michael as Bubble Boy, desperate for human contact."
*Perhaps the first and only time those words have been uttered in public.
**Is it possible to trace the last time before Thursday afternoon that MTV (and I mean the mothership, not the seventeen spin-offs, not MTV Guatemala or MTV Acid Jazz) played the long-form version of "Thriller"? My guess is 1993, but I could be persuaded to take the under.
Also, before we move on to the Nancy Grace phase of this story, here is the best instantly percolated Michael Jackson eulogy I've read.
***Also, at one point along the High Line there is an elevated theatre-like structure, similar to what you'd see at, say, a contemporary art museum, which pointed at a series of plexiglass windows overlooking 10th Avenue. So there were groups of parched European tourists resting on benches, drinking four-dollar iced coffees and staring at a street, as if awaiting the appearance of a man eating a mushroom. To liven up the proceedings, I suggest an occasional flash mob. Or this dude.