Friday, August 14, 2009

Keeping Up With ... Bones

We're about four months away from the heart of "Holiday Card" season. It's an especially important time for your average parent, who tries to find the perfect picture of the kids to put with the perfect little holiday quip to send out to 50 or 100 friends and relatives.

As August rolls along, there is already a pretty good one of TigerBlog Jr. and Little Miss TigerBlog on the beach in the queue, though memories of last year's fall shot of the two of them on the "Magic 8" statue outside of Nassau Hall still leaves room for a late entry this time around.

About 75% of the cards that TigerBlog receives are of vacation shots or somewhat informal posed shots through the year. The rest are a little more obviously posed, but they aren't exactly over the top or anything.

Then there's the card that men's track and field coach Fred Samara brought in last winter to share. It was sent by his old Olympic decathlon teammate Bruce Jenner, and it showed Jenner and his family, which, as pretty much anyone with a TV or a computer knows, includes the Kardashians.

TigerBlog couldn't help but laugh at the card and the sheer amount of time and money that went into producing it. The family was dressed formally, and TB could just imagine the agony and fighting that must have gone on leading up to this shot. This wasn't quite the Barone family holiday card, which made for one of the funnier episodes of "Everybody Loves Raymond."

If there is any one name that is synonymous with where American culture is these days, it's "Kardashian." The name first became famous when the father was part of O.J. Simpson's team of lawyers during his murder trial, and now not a day passes without some member of the family on TV or in a magazine or on the Web, embracing fame and celebrity with no actual discernible talent to go along with it.

TB stumbled on the reality show "Keeping Up With the Kardashians" once and couldn't stay more than a minute or two. The concept of a show like that (and the "Jon and Kate" fiasco and all the rest of them) speaks to all kinds of issues. First, we live in a country now where celebrity, any kind of celebrity, is embraced. It doesn't matter what you have to do to achieve it; as long as you have it, all is well. Second, who in the world would want to be the subject of a reality show and have cameras trail their every move? Eventually, you have to become unable to have any kind of informality to your world, as everything you say is being recorded. Lastly, if you do have a camera on you at all times, how can you not help but think: "wow, I must be fascinating, or else why would all these people be watching this?" It makes issues of out-of-control ego and narcissism seem somewhat understandable.

So there was one of the Kardashian women (Kourtney) on the Today Show yesterday, ostensibly to promote her own spin-off reality show and to let slip the news that she and her on-again-off-again boyfriend were going to be parents. Imagine the ratings for that show?

Of course, some moments can't be predetermined and scripted, and so there was the great contrast in another guest from yesterday, Time Magazine's Sean Gregory, talking about an article he'd written about haggling in retail stores during a down economy. For those Princeton basketball fans who know him better, he was a member of the Class of 1998, a lefthanded shooter off the bench for a class that won the Ivy title each of its last three years, including the famous 27-2 season of 1997-98.

He was known as "Bones" back then, the nickname hung on him by former coach Pete Carril as an abbreviation for "Skin and Bones," which is what he was back then. TigerBlog remembers well when Jason Osier left the men's basketball team during the 1995-96 season (something Osier later acknowledged he regretted) to focus on lacrosse (Osier did return the following year to playing both and actually played a lacrosse game and a basketball game on the same day his senior year).

Carril was asked by Trenton Times reporter Mark Eckel to comment on it, and Carril said; "We may split his minutes up among some guys, or we may just use Bones." Eckel followed this by asking "What's Bones?"

This Bones would write a huge piece for the Princeton media guide (if there'd been blogs in 1997, it would have been a blog) about the basketball team's trip to Spain from the summer before. It was well-written and funny, a highly professional piece that was a precursor to his current career.

Bones has gone on to write about all kinds of very, very, very high-profile athletes for Time, and he's done great video pieces online with people like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Oscar De La Hoya and others.

During it all, he's remained the same quiet, level-headed, warm person he's been since TigerBlog first met him. He will always be one of TB's all-time favorite Princeton athletes.

And there he was yesterday, sharing the stage with Kourtney Kardashian. At the end, Al Roker jokingly asked Bones how much he wanted for the sport jacket he was wearing.

"This one?" Bones laughed. "It's not worth much."

Kourtney's hair cut probably cost more than Bones' whole wardrobe, but that's okay. TigerBlog's hope is that somewhere amidst the entire obsession with celebrity, there's at least a little room for some appreciation of substance.

No comments: