Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Garden of Earthly Delights

Heironymous Bosch could not have imagined a hell more torturous than Yancey’s Saloon last night. A room packed wall-to-wall with enough people to give the Fire Marshall a heart attack, oxygen low and hot enough to hold a Bikhram yoga class, with 16 screens cranked at full volume assaultng you with flickering images of men running back and forth with a ball interupted by scenes of explosions, gunfire and fast cars. Sensory overload times ten thousand and worthy of hell’s fiery images of eternal torture and damnation.

I loved it.

It was the Warrior’s 7th basketball game of the semi-finals and not only couldn’t I get it on our antiquated non-cable TV, but I choose to be in the midst of the maddening crowd to get the full effect of the spectacle of modern sport. Thanks to the miracle of the human imagination, all of us vicariously were playing that game and whether or not we wore the number 30 Steph Curry jersey, we were on that court and identifying with each swish of the net, pained faces when it came from Westbrook or Durant, jubilation when it came from Thompson or Curry. Music and basketball share with sex the build-up and release and each basket a collective orgasm. The three-point variety and the two and the one. But unlike making love, the opponent’s pleasure was not a cause for celebration. By New Age standards, this is the downfall of sports, but if there is to be some ancient survival hardwiring that requires winners and losers, better basketball than war or report cards.

At halftime, I needed to escape the din and went outside to get some fresh air with the smokers. Then decided to stroll down to the local bookstore and stood in the aisle reading poetry. From the heat of the battle to quiet poems about the songs of sparrows. Quite a contrast and much needed. But then back into the fray and what was truly a magnificent game, filled with the tension of the Warriors coming from behind, widening the gap to 11 points ahead and then watching it narrowed again to 4 in the last two minutes. Three foul shots by Steph had the place on its feet and his 3-pointer in the last 30 seconds released such a roar that my ears are still ringing.

Had Bosch walked into the scene, I’m sure he would have revised his painting of Hell, but for me and some 300 others, it was a modern-day Garden of Earthly Delights (Bosch’s title for his painting of Heaven), it was the way we lose our self into the roar and feel lifted up off of this earth, a collective sexual release at its finest, the nerves and muscles tingling with electric ecstasy and the aftermath of the cigarette in bed knowing it was good for us all. Well, not exactly all. Not the Oklahoma Thunder team and their fans.

But a good time to re-invoke the etymology of competition. Com= with, petition= a prayer to a particular god. The two teams are playing against each other to bring out together their prayer to the same god, the one of the body’s intelligence in a particular set of skills trained to the highest degree. Both teams played magnificently and at the end, amidst the jubilation and disappointment, you could feel Curry and Durant hug each other with great love and respect. That’s the game at it’s finest.

On to the finals!

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