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To their own devices: Pablo Larrain's 'The Club'

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Maryland Basketball: Starting Fires

March 4, 2010

"Minh walked under a gray sky, sorrow biting at his throat.  He stepped into a banana grove and tore off three of the fruits and ate, tossing the peels in the water as he and Thu had done in a better world.




He imagined his brother burning--he often did-- Thu's body in the flame, dreadful pain outside, going up his nostrils and in.  And then as a monkey holds two branches for an instant, lets go of the first and clings to the new one, he was no longer the body, but the fire."
     Denis Johnson, Tree of Smoke


The ACC is on fire my friends, and I don't say this just because I'm a Carolina fan and the Heels are having a tough go of it.  Okay, maybe that has something to do with it, but that does not change the fact that this mighty basketball conference is now nothing but flames performing alchemy on human flesh.

Think about it.  Only two ACC teams have winning records against the top 25, and lowly Virginia started the season 3-0, gave Wahoos flashbacks of Junior Burrough, and had the whole conference remembering the days when the league was nine levels of Hell and not just one pile of shit.  One pile.  Twelve flies.  Nothing distinguishable.  Waiting to be burned.  Perhaps already feeling the heat.

And guess who has the match. . . .

I'm a UNC fan.  I view Duke and Carolina as a royal joust.  Yes, one looks to knock his opponent off his horse, but one does have to look his foil in the eye and salute before charging.  There are rules.  Rewards.  And consequences.

Maryland is into some cloak and dagger shit.

They hide in bushes and wear the shadows like a Green Beret.

Bay of Pigs.

You never see their faces.  You only find ransom notes waiting in your children's beds: "I curse your Mother's womb for having bred you, so I'm preventing you from doing the same.  F#$% Jon Scheyer!"

They thrive on scorched earth campaigns and throw bottles at human skulls like planes into buildings.

They're ninjas, not samurai.  Desperate.  Dangerous.  And useful at times when morality disappears, hiding in their turtle shells as if they were the Ho Chi Minh Trail, as if their darkness offered truth.

And, God, damn them for being the only ones with the testicular fortitude not to wilt in front of the Devil, as blue as he is, himself.  They drive a hard bargain.  They're terrible to root for, like losing one's soul to the tide: grain by grain, and they probably enjoy the fact that I compared them to everything from terrorists to Communists to assassins to the CIA's biggest screw-ups.  In fact, they're probably flipping cars over right now in celebration.

Does anyone understand what it means to be from Maryland?  Or is that why we fear the turtle--its haunting, enigmatic grin that only comes out of its shell when the whole world is upside down, and the fact that all of us share a lust for the sound of crashing glass and wailing sirens, a fascination that comes not from sympathy but some place stranger and, perhaps, more revealing.  At some point, don't we all give into extremes?

18 comments:

Iceman, AD said...

Thanks Teach, this made me feel better....and then, almost worse.

March 4, 2010 at 7:11 PM
Teach said...

Yeah, I think I just blogged my way out of ever taking public office with that one. We're all thinking it though. There's just something dark and sinister about Maryland bball fans, and they embrace it.

March 4, 2010 at 7:13 PM
Langston said...

The ACC is better when both Duke and UNC are playing King of the Mountain, but the ACC is a whole lot more fun when those two are joined by the Terps at the top of the hill.

March 4, 2010 at 7:39 PM
Langston said...

But that's just my opinion as a former Carolina camper and fan of those who like to build things just to watch them burn.

March 4, 2010 at 7:40 PM
Teach said...

I just don't get the rioting thing after a regular season game that put a team into a TIE for 1st. I mean, Maryland's been to Final Fours and National Titles. Why is this such a big deal?

March 4, 2010 at 10:28 PM
Anonymous said...

I think what people are forgetting is that these are college students. This isn't the NBA, neither the players nor the students were around for the Final Fours and Championship. These are 18-22 year old's who are doing what college students do. All they were looking to do is have a good time. If you don't have fun storming the court then don't do it. The players wanted it, the fans wanted to do it, so why are people who weren't there and were watching from their living room have a problem with it? If it made for bad television then don't watch it. Nobody is asking for others to judge the actions of college students. There are so many other positive story lines to write about. The game lived up to the hype in every way imaginable. Storming the court had more to do with celebrating the accomplishments of the seniors on the team as it was for the individual game. Beating Duke on senior night to move into a tie for first in the ACC just topped it off. Focus on the actual game and not judging the actions of teenagers. I recommend reading Michael Wilbon's article in the Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/04/AR2010030400027.html

March 4, 2010 at 11:10 PM
Iceman, AD said...

Fair enough Anon. But at the same time, I find it kind of odd that nearly 98% of all other schools and their 18-23 year old students avoid chanting "fuck _____" for the majority of their games while also resisting the urge to launch a riot and get arrested after a regular season game.

There is just something special about Maryland. Must be the crabs.

March 4, 2010 at 11:49 PM
Anonymous said...

It seems that North Carolina fans are jealous of the attention that Maryland is receiving. Whenever Carolina is down Maryland always steps in and steals the spotlight. Carolina fans crave the attention and always have to remind themselves that they are still relevant. There's no denying that the Duke-Carolina rivalry is bigger than Maryland-Duke. However, Carolina fans seem to care a lot more about what happens between Maryland-Duke than do Maryland fans about Duke-Carolina. North Carolina is irrelevant to Maryland, other than an easy win having gone 4-1 against them over the past 4 years. But North Carolina fans wouldn't love anything more than for the Maryland-Duke rivalry to just disappear, especially after a game like last night.

Great article by Michael Wilbon by the way. He was at the game.

March 5, 2010 at 12:38 AM
Langston said...

In 2004, when Daniel Lincoln kicked a game winning field goal for UT over top-ranked Florida, the campus got weird. People were burning couches, computer screens were thrown off of roofs, and mayhem was generally everywhere. As I sat with my roommate on our stoop, watching the scene surround us, I asked him "What are these people going to think when they wake up in the morning to find all of their shit burned and smashed in the street?"

But that's the thing about revelers (or rioters or whatever you want to call them), they don't think. They're too engulfed in the moment to realize what a stupid decision they are making, like throwing their monitor (that they would presumably need for class) onto the street just for the sake of enjoying the big game.

I also wanted to note that Maryland is the same school that rioted when they lost in the Final Four and when they won the Championship. Seriously Terps, pick a side. You can't riot just for the sake of rioting. Otherwise, people will know you didn't really care to begin with.

March 5, 2010 at 12:44 AM
Teach said...

Great comment by Langston. I'm going to ignore Billy's comment because it's just stupid, seeing as I know he watches every Duke-Carolina game and often loses interest in Maryland when they have a typical Maryland season of underachieving or being inconsistent.

I didn't write this article about rushing the court. I think rushing the court is over done, but I've done it. I rushed the field when JMU won the national championship, and I brought grass from the field home with me and kept it in a zip loc bag for a year. I can see why Maryland rushed the court the other night; they just tied Duke for first in the ACC, which is a big deal. My issues with Maryland are the consistent viciousness, violence, and overall lack of respect they show for their opponents and their opponents' families. They've done everything from flipping cars over to throwing bottles at the members of Duke families. They don't just root for their team; they terrorize other people. Their "F#ck Duke" shirts even show that their intentions are different than just winning. The psyche of Maryland is different than any other ACC team.

One can trace it to Gary Williams' bitterness about the Tourney always being in Greensboro etc. His bitterness seeped into the Maryland fanbase like napalm, and now win or lose (as Langston pointed out) the Maryland postgame response is insane and nonsensical; and it doesn't matter that Carolina's down this year. It's strange that the Maryland response to a regular season basketball game is similar to how they would respond to MLK getting shot or Rodney King being beaten by police. That's what I want explained because they do this on a consistent basis.

The ACC needs all three of these teams to be good at the same time, which hasn't happened since the '90s; and it's hurt the ACC this decade.

March 6, 2010 at 8:33 AM
Teach said...

Despite the conference winning 4 national titles...they've been top heavy

March 6, 2010 at 8:35 AM
Teach said...

and for the record, i wanted maryland to win

March 6, 2010 at 8:36 AM
Teach said...

Also, I wouldn't compare my article to Wilbon's. The purpose of each article is different. He's explaining why Marlyand-Duke is a great basketball rivalry, which it is. It's must watch for any bball fan. I was simply asking the question as to why Maryland fans behave the way they do because they behave this way now because I think it's ingrained in the Terp culture. To excuse as just the actions of teenagers is not telling the true story, not all teenagers do this. If the Terps were just behaving like teenagers, they'd be sneaking beers into their parents' basements, participating in sexual escapades, and putting the photos of such escapades up on Facebook.

March 6, 2010 at 8:46 AM
Iceman, AD said...

Teach: This last comment must be in reference to what you and I did on Friday nights in college. Also, I agree completely. Except for wanting Maryland to win.

March 6, 2010 at 10:32 AM
Anonymous said...

My comments were made more in reference to this: "I just don't get the rioting thing after a regular season game that put a team into a TIE for 1st. I mean, Maryland's been to Final Fours and National Titles. Why is this such a big deal?" When I read it I interpreted the rioting to mean the storming of the court, not the actual rioting that occurred after the game. There's no excuse for what happened outside of the arena. And it's sad that it has to be associated with the game.

As for the cursing and the violence, I'm not going to defend that. Especially when it's targeted at an individual player (as it was towards Jon Scheyer). The next day I was saying how now I know why more games in College Park aren't nationally televised. If it weren't the late game they might have had to censor the entire thing (maybe that's why it was at 9pm).

Teach: I agree with what you're saying about the ACC. All three teams need to be good at the same time. The last time I can remember Maryland - North Carolina playing a big game was during the days of Smith, Stackhouse, and Wallace.

But don't think that Duke fans can't stoop just as low. I was exchanging texts with Iceman before the game. I kept it clean, wishing his team luck and hoping for a good game. Out of nowhere he decides to bring up Clemson. I know it was 5 years ago, but it still hurts. That was dirty, Ice. Completely uncalled for. The only thing that could cheer me up was Johnny Rockets. That truly is the happiest place on earth.

March 6, 2010 at 11:25 AM
Teach said...

Okay, I didn't know that Ice brought up the Clemson game in the ACC Tourney a few years back...that is uncalled for...and he should be reprimanded

March 6, 2010 at 11:28 AM
Teach said...

it'd be pretty funny if they had to give a parental advisory warning before games in College PArk

March 6, 2010 at 11:28 AM
Iceman, AD said...

I love ya billy. I'd like to count Duke's loss in College Park as the consequences of my actions.

March 6, 2010 at 4:47 PM

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