Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Where is America?

As a foreign-raised American I am constantly perplexed by the different images of "What is America" that people propose and use as premises for heated debate. For instance, Rural America is that ideal where an overalled straw chewing farmer is sitting atop a John Deere tractor; Melting Pot America whose characteristic image is a black and white photo of a little Polish woman at Ellis Island; Hollywood America where good guys always win with glitz, glamour, and a good line (even if the 'good guys' are increasingly adulterous toadies); America the Brand Name where we are Starbucks and McDonalds; America the Fanatical where we are a crazed Red Sox/Raider/Lakers Nation; America the Chosen Land where a democratic republic and/or protestant Christianity and/or the Right to Self Determination are God's gift to the earth; and on and on. Which are we?

It is interesting to see the relationship between an American's core conception and how it informs political (as well as economic, religious, social, etc.) views: I live around a lot of Melting Pot Americans who believe America is about doing Yoga, lunch at PF Chang's, dancing at local Pow-Wow, sipping an afternoon cappuccino, attending public lecture on Post-Colonial Post-Structural interpretations of Melkite chronicles in Syriac and then heading to a local Taqueria with live Mariachi. These tend to unilaterally oppose the Rural-Americites on principle (I cannot count the number of times I have overheard comments dripping with hate about "Bush Country"). If you think "America" is really about being a multicultural melting pot of hip-ness, an area of racial hegemony (which of course means white folk) is simply not really American.

So, I was intrigued by an article in this week's Economist about Cerritos, CA (Los Angeles County):

... Such single mindedness [referencing a 96% approval of the state of City-run public services] is particularly striking given the city's diversity. In 1980 whites comprised more than half of the population. These days Asians do (and a very diverse lot they are, too -- see chart below). ... Yet the newcomers have not formed ghettos. The last census showed that whites and Asians were more intermixed in Cerritos than in all but 16 other American cities. Whites were even more mized up with blacks and Hispanics.

So, granted this is not by any means a perfect cross section of American races -- but overall (factoring issues other than race) its a pretty good representation of Suburban America; which is a lot of America. Does Suburbia have a popular culture image? If anything it is either malls and parking lots or inexplicable Columbine-violence and Rage-Against-the Machine disconnectedness. Peaceful, truly international, racial integration in a middle class suburban city; but it runs car dealerships and voted for George W. Bush; but it roots for the Dodgers.

Perhaps the fact that there is no easy stereotype for these, the-most-of-us, no easy free-throw to buy political capital, no defining image that captures the media life of this demographic, is proof of the fact that this is where the most of America is living, apparently unconcerned with its lack of profile, and probably laughing along with the Economist's ironic summation: "bland, car-oriented and suburban". America, know thyself.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Another Jones Relief [sic] Appearance

I haven't live-blogged Jones (!) in a while, but tonight against the Indians the perfect situation for a classic Jones is in place. The Tigers are tied for first with Cleveland; the game is in Cleveland. After scoring four runs in the top of the tenth inning, Jones comes on with a four-run lead. The score is 6-2. (Having a lead of more than one run is crucial for ensuring the possibility of classic Jones.)

Jason Michaels:

Michaels goes to second on a wild pitch.

Casey Blake:

NB: Runners on first and second, no outs. Looking good for a classic Jones.

Grady Sizemore:
Grounds out to first.

NB: Runners advance to second and third, one out.

Victor Martinez (clean-up hitter):

Travis Hafner:
Grounds out to short.

Game over. Tigers win and are now in first place by one game.

Let's recap the necessary and sufficient conditions for a classic Jones.

1. Jones must come on with more than a one-run lead so that he can give up at least one run.
2. Jones must get runners on the bases early from a fluke hit or error.
3. Jones must face one of the other team's top hitters.
4. Jones must benefit from a solid defensive play.
5. Jones must give up a run (often in exchange for an out or two).
6. Jones must let the other team hit into the final out; the motive here seems to be to avoid striking anyone out.

This game meets half of the first condition. Jones comes on with more than a one-run lead, but doesn't give up any runs.
The second condition is met, I think, by the wild pitch. Though Michaels didn't reach base on this error, he did get into scoring position because of it.
The third condition is obviously met since Jones faced the first five batters in the lineup.
The fourth condition was met by the solid infield play.
The fifth condition was not met.
The sixth condition was.

All in all, this almost warrants the label "classic Jones," but not quite.

I close this with a proclamation from MKR Mouse on Jones; let's call it Ave Jonesum: "Hail Todd Jones. May your skills in a brilliant career of comedy never diminish, and may you never come to my team. Amen."

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Next Two Weeks Are Make-Or-Break for Tigers

In the next two weeks, the Tigers play five games (three at home) against second-place Cleveland and eight (!) (four at home) games against the Yankees. What a tough spell. Here's hoping the Tigers can put the hurt on the Yanks and give cheer to worried Sox fans everywhere.

Zumaya and Miller might return to the pitching staff as early as next Tuesday. The Gambler should return shortly, too. All good news.

Also, I hear things about this game called "professional football" (not sure if I'm spelling that right) starting up again soon. I'm sure we could do without that.

And now, we return to our regularly scheduled reading of Boring Articles on Aristotle . . . .

Sunday, August 05, 2007

"We'd Like to Thank the Minnesota Twins . . ."

That's how the Tigers should begin their celebration when they win the AL Central. When you lose nine of your last ten games, you should be more than a half game back of the division leaders. But the Twins have been keeping the Indians in check by winning a number of one-run games.

Here's hoping the Leyland magic will kick in soon, or it could be the Twins at the end of the year saying, "We'd like to thank the Tigers for tanking royally in the second half of the season."

Friday, August 03, 2007

What Color Goes Best with "Overpaid"?

Detroit Tiger Neifi "Paintjob" Perez has tested positive for an illegal stimulant for a third time this season. Perez's stats for the season: .172 batting average, one homerun, 64 RBIs. Not sure what could stimulate that kind of performance.

Perez earned the nickname "Paintjob" from some fans because the Tigers could have used the money they spent on his contract ($2.5 million) to repaint Comerica Park. Since Perez has now forfeited almost half of his salary, maybe we could get that paintjob after all.