friday youtube free-for-all

Rucker Park

rucker park (Photo credit: buggolo)

every friday (or at least this friday), i plan to pick a few of my favorite youtube videos, throw them in a post, and chatter away at why i like them so much.  this will probably swing pretty wildly from rhetorical analysis to me drooling over how high blake griffin jumped.

i’m all about variety.

* * *

kevin durant at rucker park

so, i’m learning it’s difficult to write about some topics that are specific, like sports, on a blog that is very unspecific.  i don’t want readers who already grasp what i’m discussing to feel down-talked, and i don’t want readers who are new to a conversational topic to feel left behind.

it’s a game of balance, and i will most often come to rest on the side of giving too much background information than too little.

* * *

kevin durant plays for the nba’s oklahoma city thunder.  he currently leads the league in scoring, is tall, slender as hell – sinewy, if you will – and more skilled than athletic.  he’s kind of a yin/yang counter-part to lebron james (someone who’s 6’8″, 260, and dunks over everyone).

durant also helped start the trend of young/hip/athletic black kids wearing empty glasses frames, small backpacks, etc.  he certainly helped make the hipster black-athlete cool.

in this youtube video, durant plays in an entertainer’s basketball classic game at rucker park. rucker park is legendary in regards to pick-up basketball.  it’s sacred ground, a place where the greats go to play with the every-man in new york city.  some of the world’s greatest players have played there, some before they became famous, some after.

to be plain, rucker pick-up and/or league games could compete with most college or professional leagues around the world.

* * *

back to mr. durant,

he scored 66 in the game from which this clip is taken.

the video is the final 90 or so seconds of the game, and he just bombs in four 3pters from manhattan.

here’s the thing,

the best part isn’t him hitting the shots – he’s a professional athlete and known for being one of the best shooters on the planet.  he should make the shots in a game that provides a low (for his skill-set) level of competition.

the best part is the crowd.  it’s easy to pick on individuals reacting to something like this when watching a video, but i can’t do it here.  those people are there, in the moment, watching greatness happen a few feet away.

‘i told you!  i told you!’

what’s great about that is it doesn’t even matter what the guy said.  it was probably some falsely-prophetic statement like, ‘durant is gonna go off’ (not a really bold prediction, considering he’s one of the top five players alive and it’s a charity game), but it doesn’t matter, because the guy was right.

the gentleman with the whitesox cap who just grins and keeps saying ‘yessir!’ is priceless.  what else can you possibly say as this is happening?

and let’s be real here, for a minute.  in the realm of the written, i am calm and collected.  i say what i mean.  i’m usually fully dressed and not mumbling incoherently.

sports show up, and suddenly i can’t finish sentences, i shriek and point, i disrobe out of impulse,


my sweet wife and i went to see the blake griffin show when the clippers played in charlotte last season, and i was already sprinting up and down the section stairs before blake left the floor in an attempt to end western civilization (or, really, to dunk a basketball).  i anticipate the big play before or as it happens, often leaving the people behind me with a charmingly, if not emotionally sober, hindered view of the action before us.

if i’d been on the sidelines at rucker, i’d have been throwing popcorn like it was confetti, yelling something like ‘stop making me pregnant!’ and climbing the chain-link fence around the court while singing canada’s national anthem.

so . . . i can’t judge guys who can only manage to say, ‘yessir!’


my favorite individual in the crowd is gentleman with the florida state cap and white t-shirt at the 1:23 mark.

i think we can agree that there are different kinds of smiles
polite smiles that wish not to offend
kind smiles that invite
romantic smiles that suggest
sly smiles that give away the joke
but my favorite smiles
are the smiles of surprise,
smiles that show genuine, unexpected joy.

that is the smile on the face of 1:23.  a grown-ass-man standing on the sidelines at rucker park – a grin usually reserved for christmas morning or surprise marriage proposals.

oh, and the emcee is wearing a pro-wrestling style championship belt.  i have got to get me one of those (not just the belt – i want the emcee who wears it, too.  i want him describing how long it takes me to decide what tie i’m gonna wear).

anticipation builds each time durant gets the ball, rippling through the crowd, a lively brushfire waiting to erupt into a full blaze. the crescendo before the final shot is one of those perfect moments where everyone playing and watching knows how this must play out – durant must shoot the ball, and the ball must go in.

had durant passed the ball at the end of the game, even his teammates would have been upset, realizing the balance of what ‘should’ did not involve a swing-pass.

love this stuff.

i love this game.

i love it when it’s a community, like it was here.

durant hits 3’s, gets mobbed by little kids, then gets back on defense juuuuuust enough to get the ball

so he can shoot another 3.

it’s a game, first.  at rucker park, basketball is not kevin durant’s job.  it’s his game.

* * *

macklemore and ryan lewis in the greatest music video i’ve written about today

so . . . i don’t really care if i’m late to the party on this or not.  one thing i like about youtube, netflix, blogs, etc, is that it’s never too ‘late’ to catch up on a trend that i might have missed.  i don’t know when this song got big, but i do know i heard it on the radio about ten days ago, promptly freaked out at how perfect i thought it was,

found the music video on youtube,

and wept with joy because it was even more perfecter.

i love this song and video for a few reasons:

1)  i like shopping in thrift stores.  i spent a lot of time in them in high school and college.  and, one of my favorite things about thrift stores is they all smell the same.  it’s amazingthe consistency of thrift-store-smell.  american way in raleigh smells the same as a goodwill in tampa.  it’s one of the more sure things about this world, just behind the sun coming up and my post-lunch-hunger pangs around 2:30.

2)  i’m a sucker for social criticism, especially one delivered with a grin and a wink.  twain would love this song, because it goes from fun and silly to critiquing reliance upon brand names in order to find social fulfillment and the emptiness that can bring.

gatsby should have listened to this.

3)  in regards to the video,


the coat is a character unto itself in the video, especially due to the slow-motion effects.  it ripples with movement, dances, and looks perfectly ridiculous.

* * *

sometimes, the best way to make a point
or pull something off that really shouldn’t be possible
like wearing a nasty fur coat
or half the stuff i try
is to do it with a smile
while making direct eye contact
and fully acknowledging
‘i’m trying to get away with something.’

that’s the whole attitude of the song and video, and it’s manifested again in the coat.

so i love the coat.

* * *

4)  i love the woman that lip syncs one of the choruses.  again, perfectly absurd.  after having seen the video, i would consider it absurd not to have included her.

‘you had a chance to have a heavy-set woman lip sync a chorus to your video about thrift shops and you didn’t do it?’

5)  i don’t tend to embrace profanity in my music as a necessity, (my day-to-day language just spat out a mouthful of coke zero, sat upright, and looked at me like i’m a major f***ing hypocrite), but i feel the language in this song continues to match the simplicity of the song itself.

we’re in a thrift store, people.  i don’t expect a lexicon stretching from here to harvard law.

6)  batman footie pajamas.

’nuff said.

7)  i don’t know near enough about music lingo to confidently discuss the job that ryan lewis did in mixing and arranging this song, but i will say he did a damn fine job.

i always enjoy the skinny white guy having a blast in the background because he put together something that sounds this . . . good. (see: chiddy bang for another example)

* * *

i’m done now.

thanks for giving me six hours of your time to read this.

let’s see if i actually have the energy (or remember?) to do this next friday.

One thought on “friday youtube free-for-all

  1. You write about sports with perfect timing and rhythm and actually you give exactly the right amount of context. I loved learning about Rucker Park. Splicing in your own life and coming back to “the smiling man” is like the ball being traded on the court. Perfect.

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