When it’s not being rigged, or perverted by occult ritual either by the Masonic-Mafia, or the unaffiliated mafia, or the number-fiending Archons themselves, basketball in the modern age is absolutely magical, marvelous, way more exciting than in past decades. The internet and its control-freak pappy, late military/finance capitalism, have improved the game immeasurably. These days, if a top-flight athlete is not actively playing their sport in a new-paradigm of unbroken, year-long seasons of official school-play, tourneys and extra-scholastic leagues, they are either playing the highly realistic simulations of the sport as a video game, or collecting the mass plaudits, perqs and social/sexual rewards of being born into this fanatical sports culture, and a lottery prize of a physique.
There are no more Dennis Johnsons or John Bagleys at the point guard position, at a high level of competition, R.I.P. Not even their younger versions, with that level of musculature and body fat. An overweight or underfooted point guard in 2018’s NBA is as common as a man of dignity with an Instagram account. There should never be enough time or energy to allow for either in this insane, competitive, moral disaster center of a world. Show me your Instagram account and i will calmly be the judge. Artists who do not over-indulge themselves will be granted certain kinds of exception.
|"Jazz isn't dead, it just smells funny." ~~Zappa|
"Athletes are getting better all the time," people say a lot, i guess. They probably fancy this is more proof of humankind's great Darwinian arc of permanently inclining fate. It is no such starry-eyed case, i feel. Athletes get better all the time only in a half-confusingly relative sense: that is, when all they fucking do is play god-damn sports and are conditioned to think they are essential to society's smooth-running and happiness. Athletes get disproportionately better with the application of mind-fumblingly advanced technologies, also, yes. When the athletes of today are not doing the above three things, they are on Youtube studying the precise physics and subtle physical, in-game accomplishments of better athletes. This was never possible before the internet, for any athlete not in a big college or pro program. These reasons (joined with the intense work-out schedules and legal and otherwise drug regimens which are standardized parts of their involvement in organized play, now) account for the insane level of focus, shooting proficiency and sheer moxie of a player like Trae Whoever, for Oklahoma university, who as a freshman is playing pretty much like Stephen Curry already, and against much better collegiate competition than Curry ever faced. Accurate three point shooting is purely a function of obsessive levels of practice, and that's why it is the Modern Crucial Thing in (modern, technologized, obsessive capitalist) Basketball, where every banal metric, techno-advantage and dietary twist is employed in order to profit the ownership classes and their masterful social engineering schemes. Without which levels of profit and scheming, society might just implode, i do fear, almost.
All of these advantages are enjoyed by the young jazz musician of today, too. We dont have as much very good real live jazz, but we have computers and a comprehensive ability to add to our musical memories and practice-time efficiency, through this technology. Or jazz musicians do, at least.
When i see Damian Lillard i see someone who is a tremendous joy to see and watch, probably even for people who are not besotted with the pleasure and unreflective gladness of basketball and its mesmerizing, beautiful physics. He has what appears to be a complete mastery of all of his physical movements. He dribbles and places his feet and angles his body like pretty much no point guard i’ve ever seen; he is a perpetually taut spring waiting to hurt and embarrass you. He is the rare and precious phenomenon of the "athletic PG." “Dame” is a master of his own physical creation, an avatar of himself and the modern wave of the giant-killer basketball player speeding from out of the back-court, when he wants to and is not deploying cruel hesitations. It's not cliched to say that he is poetry in motion. Lillard has benefited in a drastic way from the modern mode of bread and circuses pro sports fanaticism, and all the methods and techniques which keep bringing this enterprise and crowd control measure into alignment with the gargantuan size of its political and social function. He's a man that didn't need source material or study, apart from Youtube and the basketball court. The guy is like 6'1", a known and planned-for notoriety in the flesh, and he scores 50 in three quarters against modern NBA competition, on 26 shots. If only all of our cultural heroes were such savants and so dedicated to their business or craft.
In his own way, on the mere but lovely physical plane, i'd have to compare Damian Lillard to the blazing, ultimate genius and gift from the heavenly beyond, who human beings know and revere as “Clifford Brown.” Except that only the mystical can in the end fully account for Clifford's magical brilliance and haunting perfection as both musician and trumpet virtuoso. But they're both transcendent in a way that does only come through an obsessive and in some ways selfless dedication to their art. Clifford subordinated his time and life and body and face and respiratory system to the playing of the trumpet, a beast of a bastard of an instrument that takes no prisoners, ever. For almost his entire "formative" stage in life, Lillard did nothing but perfect his body and balance and instincts, in order to play the most difficult position in all of sports, in my opinion, hands down. He went to a mid-major school and therefore in getting there had to compete against basically the entire nation of 6'0 ball-handlers who were very good at ball, which is a lot of young men, under current, weird circumstances.
Please enjoy this Clifford Brown recording which requires its wholly unique, inadequate write-up and gushing bladder of praise and fulmination, and please also enjoy Lillard's fantastic display of skill and killer instinct, and his general role as apotheosis of the qualities which make one a motherfucker and a terror on the court. It had been well over a year or more since i heard this classic recording of Brown and the Max Roach quintet, featuring yet another titan of music, Sonny Rollins. Brown’s solo, inventiveness and technical genius on this song are just past all need for and usefulness of literary expression. It will make your sad mortal heart glad indeed. Try to find the best quality recording of the tune that you can. This one sounds a bit muddy and threadbare to me. Clifford Brown’s tone, alone, is a unique form of physically uplifting beauty all to itself. Not to speak or glow of those musical ideas of his that stun and even humiliate any serious, professional musician to this day. If i had to choose---and saying so is saying a very great deal as far as this sort of thing or evaluation goes---i would be strongly tempted to say that this is the best and most brilliant Clifford Brown solo, ever. Making it perhaps the best jazz solo ever recorded.