Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Is Athletic Success the New Black?

Fruit workers, particularly those in the various canning divisions of your major fruit conglomerates are a shifty bunch, full of testiness and simmering currents of rich, creamy, bacon-and-cherry-flavored, race-based bias and resentment. And nothing brings that bias and resentment bubbling to the surface like beisbol.

When Jackie Robinson broke the Collar Barrier in 1947, there were riots and looting throughout the fruit canning world, and the entire operation of the Dole Fruit Plant here in midtown Manhattan had to be suspended for almost thirty years before the furor could be calmed. It took a surprise appearance and impromptu concert by a dashing young black man named Kenny Loggins to get things stable.

Those were the days.

Needless to say, my friendship with Alex Rodriguez (the baseball player Alex Rodriguez, not the nuclear physicist Alex Rodriguez, that punk ass) has therefore been somewhat problematic for me at the old Fruit Plant. It's not because he's a widely despised public figure. Dole-mites love widely despised public figures as a general rule. It's because he's black.

Welcome to post-modern America, and thank you very much, Barack Obama.

There used to be a time when men were real men, women were real women, transvestites were neither real men nor real women, and Americans could comfortably use race as a reason to dislike other Americans. Remember the politics of hate and all that? I miss the 80s so much sometimes.

See, because now, it's the opposite of that. The peeple I work with don't dislike I-Can't-Believe-Clay-Aiken-is-Gay-Rod because of his race. They dislike him because of his repeated postseason failures, his admission of steroid usage, and the fact that he loves to pull down his pants and run screaming through midtown Manhattan with fermented wheels of Gouda cheese. And because they dislike him, they therefore assume he must be black. QED, quid pro quo, summa cum laude, lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, Amen.

On the handful of occasions when my pal has stopped by to visit, his reception at the hands of the various members of Canning Operations staff has run the gamut from nasty, sustained peltings with full cans of bacon-wrapped cherries to much more friendly peltings with half-eaten cans of bacon-wrapped cherries with the tops removed, because the edges of those tops could really hurt somebody. (That's how you can tell the C-Ops staff are in a forgiving mood.)

Of course, discerning cultural anthropologists, as well as anyone with a pair of eyes and a rudimentary understanding of Spanish names, would dispute the notion of Tina-Fey-Rod's blackness. Then again, he is dating Kate Hudson, goes the counter-argument. Also not helping matters: all this postseason success and glory and clutch performance, the kind of performance reminiscent of notable black men like Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan and the aforementioned Kenny Loggins, who rushed for a then-record 282 yards and 7 touchdowns in a game between Georgia and LSU in 1982.

It's getting so you can't be good at anything in this country without peeple assuming that you're black and hating you for your success, although not necessarily in that order. Thanks again, Democratic Party.

And thanks also to fine folks in the C-Ops division at Dole, who are throwing those cans of bacon-wrapped cherries at me for no readily discernible reason. They couldn't possibly think ol' Smokey Robinson here is black, could they?

I've-Been-Workin'-On-The-Railroad-All-The-Livelong-Day-Rod, take me away-Rod!

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