Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Pat's Day + Dhani Travels + A-Rod-ics

Like a sizable number of Americans, including millions of African-Americans, including our president, and black people across the Caribbean, I have some Irish ancestry (those Keen[e] brothers who settled in Illinois back in the mid-19th century are the ones I know about, the others in the line I can't be sure), so to all, Happy St. Patrick's Day.

I won't be celebrating, though. I think the last time I was anywhere close to a St. Patrick's Day celebration was when I ran for my life from Andrew Station in South Boston as a few rowdies decided that I was to be part of their celebration. Wasn't. Going. To. Happen. The good old days. My late grandfather Cecil used to wear a bright green boutonniere on St. Patrick's Day, which, I was told all through childhood, merited stares and occasional comments, which received his consequent "And a Happy St. Patrick's Day to you too." With a twinkle and smile. And why not?

I won't be wearing any holidayish clothes today, since the only bright green articles of clothing I have these days primarily feature the colors of Brazil, which is not a country St. Patrick ever made his way to....


On a completely different note, I have had little time to watch much TV beyond the weeknightly Newshour With Jim Lehrer, this past season of Top Chef (a very disappointing outcome), and the occasional Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow shows on MSNBC. I did watch the opening rounds of the World Baseball Classic, but classes made sure that I forgot about it almost as soon as I'd started enjoying the outcomes. Almost everything I know about what's current on TV comes from things I read on the internet, usually HuffingtonPost, RawStory, the New York Times's art pages, or something along these lines. Things are a little different during periodic visits home to New Jersey, when I do catch weekend marathons of various shows.

This is fine; I'd rather watch little or no TV, unless there's something really compelling on (like catching Tomas Gutiérrez Alea's remarkable film, one of my all-time favorites, Memories of Underdevelopment, on WNYC years ago) or I want to zone out (so I sat through the entire Oscars broadcast, despite having seen almost none of the films this year), but I will be following every episode of this show: former University of Michigan star and linebacker for the Cincinnati Bengals (and formerly of the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles), Dhani Jones's new traveling sports show, Dhani Jones Tackles the Globe. In the first episode, the whipsmart and multiply talented--yes, truly; he's a poet, bowtie designer, orchestral conductor; etc.--dreamboat Jones went to Thailand and participated in a Muay Thai bout, on one week's training. He won. (His hefty opponent appeared to be on his last leg, but that's not the point.)

Dhani Jones and Trainer Pit
Picture: Thom Stukas/Travel Channel, L.L.C.

Between the actual training and fight scenes, gorgeous Jones offered a travelogue filled with charm-rich commentary and humor. Eating insects. Check. Visiting the red-light district (and showing utter terror). Check. Strolling through a sacred field and viewing important ruins and temples. Check. Playing soccer with elephants. Check. Getting his fortune told. Check. And frequently wearing tight or no clothes. Check. What's not to like? In case you are still on the fence, view the clip below, and see what you think. Until the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, starring Jill Scott, Annika Noni Rose and Idris Elba drops on HBO, it's Jones's world tour is one of the best things TV has to offer.


Lastly, and this has nothing to do with St. Patrick's Day, since he never made to the Dominican Republic (or New York, for that matter), but I must give it to the Mariah Carey of the baseball world, Alex Rodriguez. He knows how to create drama, spectacles, excitement. He seems a bit off his rocker, but in an appealing way. And he keeps people buying papers, Yankees' tickets, turning to online forums to blast his behind far out of the ballpark. Before the revelations about his steroid use it struck me that he probably would be unmasked as one of the many who juiced up to improve his already abundant gifts, but I also thought after his roller-coaster seasons, or rather post-seasons, with the Yankees, that such an unmasking would probably work to his favor, as it would bring his almost unreal talent--if not his beauty and his ego, a prisoner of his anguished sense of himself--down to earth, and it has. He is like the rest of them, the Cansecos and Caminitis and McGwires and Giambis and Clemenses, and all the other less famous roiders who couldn't break out of the bullpen of their limited talents, only prettier and more likely to send Yankees haters into rabid fits with his whines and preening. If the Steinbrenner family debated whether they ought to pay this man the loot they've been forking over, I hope they realize he's definitely worth it. Between tabloid-friendly marital dramas, starring no less than Madonna and Lenny Kravitz, and complete pre- and post-season physical and emotional breakdowns, to spreads like the one below, in Details, which I can only imagine have sent his fans and detractors spinning, he knows how to build momentum, positive or negative--Stray-Rod, A-Roid, Mr. Regular Season, etc.--until he can get onto the next new thing, which of course will center on, you guessed it, him. What will he come up with next? Some of my favorite shots (all photos by Steven Klein) from the photoset:
A-Rod in Details
A-Rod As Narcissus (or as someone put it on the Huffingtonpost, as the "Narcissexual")

A-Rod in Details
A-Rod As the Thinker (a/k/a Ms. Understood)

A-Rod in Details
A-Rod As The Music Lover (And Somebody Who Has Much More Muscular, Bowed Legs Than I'd Imagined--Damn!)

And none other than the not-very-funny but really on it here Jimmy Kimmel had to get in on the fun:
Jimmy Kimmel as A-Rod

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