Thursday, October 20, 2011

What I Have In Common With 6'7" New York Knicks Forward, Landry Fields

I’m sorry, New York, but I’m really sick of watching baseball this year. I’m done. Tapped. If it were up to me, I’d just concede the Yankees the World Series title (even though, with Bartolo Colon pushing upwards of 548 pounds this year, I’ll hold out a glimmer that it will all come crashing down for the Yankees at some point … I do like to hold out that glimmer … always) just so I don’t have to watch any more baseball. Part of this is that my Cleveland Indians took a lot out of me this season, their strong start making me care when I still thought I had a couple more baseball seasons before I had to start paying close attention again. I’d banked on those couple more baseball seasons to get an awful lot of things done. Now those seasons are gone and I’ll never get them back.

But it’s more than that. Seeing baseball going into its post-season reminds me what would normally be absorbing all of my attention this time of year: basketball. Basketball, basketball, basketball. And as you may or may not know (or, quite possibly, may not care, as you’ve come here to read thoughts on theater and writing and … I’ll get to all of that … well, some of that … I promise I will say a good sentence or two on that matter) the National Basketball Association – or, more accurately, the owners of the teams that make up the National Basketball Association – have locked out their players until a new labor agreement between the owners and the players’ union is reached – and the prognosis is not good.

And who cares? Well, not as many people as care about baseball and that’s why I’m over baseball for the foreseeable future (which is to say: until I’m not).

We learned from the writer’s strike of 2007-08, that writers – and artists in general – have a spotty history thinking of ourselves as labor and that’s done little to collectively raise the general perception of what we do. The result for the writers in ’08 was them taking a deal that many consider worse for them than the one that was in place before the strike (the perception that the writers were easily replaceable parts in a machine was disproven, in as much as the parts already in the machine proved overly eager to ensure that there was not the opportunity for them to be replaced … lest it prove easily done). The results for the rest of us plays out more in terms of the arts general failure to quantify their value to, if not our immediate communities, then certainly our state and national one(s).

Professional basketball players are going to be fine (even if, as the owners hope, they will start to feel the financial pressures once games begin to get canceled and then take the money that’s there over the no money that isn’t) … well, most of them will be anyway. But there’s just something about the labor dispute of a sports league that does not have the cumulative public will that, say, professional football does, that makes me think a little more about what many of us working artists are up against when we actually think of ourselves as working … as labor. Cue the Woody Guthrie…

- Robert Attenweiler

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