Manila Vanilla

What it's like to be a U.S. Fulbright scholar, basketball player, journalist, and the whitest man in Metro Manila.

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Location: Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines

New Yorker by birth, shipped across the globe to the world of malls, shanty-towns, patronage, corruption, basketball and a curious burnt-toast smell that wafts around at dusk

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Some links

It's pretty rare that I do the links thing, but since I'm trying to update more frequently, it may become a habit. Unfortunately, I've botched one essential part of the posting links formula -- my stories are all pretty old. I found them on Friday and sat on them all weekend. However, lets hope that they can spur some thoughts and discussions of a more timeless nature.

  • Geoff Calkins, a sports columnist in Memphis, tries to talk himself into believing in the Grizzlies, who turned in a couple of surprising wins recently over the Mavericks and the Cavaliers. I dig it; Memphis has some appealing young players. I've been a Rudy Gay fan for a few years now, and Calkins's effort hits a lot of the standard sports columnist notes, until he goes off on this rhetorical splurge: "[Fans have] also started to notice that -- hey, what do you know? -- some of the players on the current roster are easy to like. What's not to like about Marc Gasol, for instance? What's not to like about Zach Randolph or Rudy Gay?"

    Huh? Did he really just ask, without any trace of sarcasm, what's not to like about Zach Randolph? The guy might be the most maligned big man of his generation. Ask Ruben Patterson, whose eye socket Randolph broke back in the Jail Blazers heyday. Actually, I like Zach Randolph, but not in the honest-to-goodness fan's sense Calkins seems to be advocating, but because I like talented misfit players. Knicks games since they traded Randolph haven't been as much fun without Zach's couldn't-care-less three-point attempts.
  • A sad and slightly shocking story about James Lang, the 26-year-old D-League center who suffered a stroke the day after Thanksgiving. In college, I used to scour This was before Jonathan Givony had turned DraftExpress into a sterling, professional-style operation that routinely out-reported ESPN, when draft websites were a mess of garbled sentence fragments describing high school, European and African players I'd never heard of or seen before. The impressionistic sketches of these players' abilities and their tiny thumbnail headshots made the old draft sites about imagining a player's skill set more than absorbing an accurate scouting report. Surely, DraftExpress is an improvement, but I had more fun in the old days.
    Anyway, I remember James Lang from those days, when he was just another thumbnail (I seem to recall a pointy, Boondocks-style blown-out afro in his headshot), and I was upset to learn about his health. It was hard to maintain an appropriately somber mood, however, because the Washington Times coverage of his story was so ridiculous. It includes quotes describing him as a "gentle giant" and a "special person" -- does this paper have editors? Where were they, and how did they allow these euphemisms for developmentally disabled people into the story? Beyond that, there are details about Lang hiding candy bars in his shoes and using an over-the-counter colon cleanser to shed pounds.

  • Then there's this, the New York Times' in-depth attempt at explaining the Maguindanao/Ampatuan massacres for American readers. I was impressed. It's something I would recommend to someone who knew little about the Philippines, the Muslim separatist movement in the South, the proliferation of warlords and private armies or the recurring trend of election-related violence. It's also heartening to see the Times giving Carlos Conde, their Filipino stringer, some room to flesh this out, even if I didn't see the story in my print edition of the paper. In the past, Conde has been stuck writing 300- to 400-word accounts of major events like typhoons, coup attempts and clashes between the AFP and rebel forces in Mindanao, while Southeast Asian correspondent Seth Mydans would be flown in to write the bigger, more meaningful pieces. That strategy didn't seem to cut it, since Mydans was spread too thin over several countries. Even before the Ampatuan massacre and subsequent declaration of martial law thrust the Philippines back into the international news spotlight, Conde penned worthy primers on the challenges of passing reproductive health legislation and Erap's presidential aspirations. I hope the paper, and Conde, keep up the good work.


Anonymous jaemark said...

of course, zach was also involved in the WORST POSSESSION EVER.

8:36 PM  

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