Archive for May 2010

Fan of Faith: Part Two

**Spoiler Alert**

After awaking this morning with a serious LOST hangover, I’ve done a lot of reflecting on last night’s finale and the entire six season journey. I’m now at peace with a story that was ultimately about individuals finding just that.

Last night, Christian Shephard explained to his son that the castaways needed each other “to remember” and to “let go.” The finale served the same purpose. It was designed to make us recall and appreciate our flawed heroes’ endeavors, while also helping us move on (to a television world without ABC’s greatest dramatic triumph).

The Benjamin Linus farewell was my favorite scene of the finale, and one of the most meaningful LOST moments we’ve ever seen. Seeing Linus understand that he was always meant to be a “Richard” (and not a “Jacob”) was a beautiful way to complete this legendary TV character’s story arch. By not joining the “Others” (this time, meaning Jack, Hurley, Sayid, Kate, etc.) inside the church, Ben reveals that he is not YET able to move past his life’s primary burden—a misguided sense of purpose. While LOST is technically complete, the story continues on, as Locke’s forgiveness and Hugo’s approval will help Ben along his new journey towards solace.

#2

I’ll never forget last night. LOST truly is (I use present tense because it will always stay with me) a once-in-a-lifetime experience that ended without compromising itself. I believe in this story more than ever before, and have “faith” that one day most fans will too. I also have faith that there will never again be a show quite like it.

Fan of Faith

(*Spoiler alert*)

My favorite story is now complete. Well, kinda.

After six groundbreaking television seasons, our generation’s Odyssey reached its emotional conclusion tonight. Staying true to its thematic and esoteric self, LOST ended exactly where it started—literally and figuratively.

No LOST finale could possibly please everyone. With all of the show’s character developments, plot complexities, time-shifting, allegorical undertones, and narrative structure changes, lead writers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse had the near impossible task of trying to satisfy their loyal (and patient) audience with both meaningful answers and an overall sense of closure.

Still, after concluding tonight’s series finale just minutes ago, it occurred to me that the latter has always been most important.

Like Dr. Jack Shephard (both on and off “The Island”), I felt an overwhelming sense of closure in the final moments of LOST. While I also shared the hero’s confusion about exactly what was unfolding, the end of TV’s greatest epic re-enforced the story’s fundamental theme—the uncertainty of life, death, and everything in between.

FOUND.

At its core, LOST is simply a tale about a man struggling to bury his father. Viewing the show through this analytical lens, Jack’s just trying to bury his past. He is not the only character to possess this goal. In fact, pretty much every hero (and villain…think “Man in Black”) on LOST had their own unique “father” to bury, but it was impossible for them to individually “let go” until they ultimately found each other.

Tonight’s closing chapter beautifully made this point. Regardless, I’m sure that many will express discontent towards the finale’s direction. Unfortunately, ambiguity often breeds resentment from the instant gratification-loving masses (think…The Sopranos), and I doubt all die-hard fans will appreciate having to interpret the show’s ending on their own (or with the help of blogger nerds like yours truly).

This is where John Locke’s “Man of Science, Man of Faith” philosophy comes into play. I’ve always believed that in addition to describing LOST characters, this perspective can be applied to fans as well. On one end of the spectrum, you can view LOST scientifically, by constantly digging for answers and logical explanations to the unknown. The opposite approach requires suspending doubt while demonstrating appreciation for a television experience greater than the sum of its parts. That’s me. A real ”Fan of Faith.”

"See you in another life, brotha"

When we look back on LOST, we’ll see that the show worked because of the way it engaged the audience. For six years, viewers were essentially stranded with the castaways on The Island, as we learned only when they did. Kate, Sawyer, Hurley, and Co. shared our same questions, making  plot revelations memorable and mutually rewarding (whether happily or tragically). It’s only fitting that the show concluded in this same spirit.

Christian Shephard telling Jack that “everyone dies sometime” will always stick with me. It displays the true genius of LOST, and how it managed to go full circle. It was Jack, after all, who famously stated the words “Live Together, Die Alone.”

Sure, there’s a lot us viewers will never uncover. And sadly, many of our beloved heroes died alone. Nevertheless, they will always Live Together in our hearts.

The Alpha Doghouse

It’s fascinating how professional sports’ two primary “alpha dogs” (Tiger Woods & Kobe Bryant) are so similar. In addition to being Nike Family siblings, both polarizing superstars share a certain personal coldness that’s only rivaled by their individual greatness.

Tiger and Kobe clearly know what it takes to win (14 PGA major wins and 4 NBA titles, respectively), and they also possess unparalleled drive to add to their distinguished resumes.

Their hunger for athletic conquest is so intense, that it often makes them seem inhuman. Watching Tiger and Kobe hunt for birdies and baskets is sometimes reminiscent of the T-1000 chasing John Connor in 1991′s Terminator 2: Judgment Day (I can’t help but think that Governator is going to one day come down from his Staples Center suite and block Kobe’s path to the lane while mounted on a Harley).

John Connor?

Despite their global fame and success, Tiger and Kobe never conveyed the authenticity or fun that their rivals and historical predecessors were able to master. While Tiger dominated Phil Mickelson for most of his career, he was never able to truly relate to his fans like the affable “Lefty” does. Similarly, Kobe lacks Lebron James’s  outgoing, larger-than-life media image, perhaps contributing to many “experts” thinking King James is the superior player (for anyone watching the 2010 Playoffs, this is clearly untrue). Regardless of  being the closest thing we’ve seen to Michael Jordan on the court, Kobe will never match #23′s level of global super-stardom (somehow I can’t see Kobe suiting up with the Tune Squad anytime soon). Still, I don’t think this bothers him much, as the only thing on Kobe’s mind right now is undoubtedly Championship Number Five.

A handful of rings after this year?

Perhaps Tiger and Kobe simply care too much about the record books to concern themselves with their public images. To a degree, they are probably right in being this way. Maybe we do place too much emphasis on our favorite athletes’ personal lives, instead of celebrating what it is that really makes them stand out. Re-examining our values and expectations may be necessary when it becomes nearly impossible to tell if we are watching  ESPN or TMZ.

While I’m enrolled in this school of thought, Tiger and Kobe must each understand that there is NO divide between their personal and professional lives. One’s athletic legacy is as directly shaped by actions off the court/course as it is by triumphs on them. If neither comprehended this reality early in their careers, both must surely get it now.

When Kobe Bryant faced sexual assault charges in 2003, he was forced to repair his image and relationships with fans, teammates, and sponsors.  Seven years later, Kobe seems to have accomplished this difficult feat.

Now, it’s Tiger who must do the same. While his “charges” are less serious (legally), surmounting his shitstorm will likely require even more commitment and focus. Without teammates to support him, Tiger must tame himself in order to restore his legacy and the prominence of his entire sport!  The NBA can survive without Kobe, but the same cannot be said about the PGA without it’s only active legend. It’s fitting that if Tiger Woods ever wants to surpass The Golden Bear’s (Jack Nicklaus) record 18 major tournament wins, he will have to essentially become a “Golden Boy” again.

Can Tiger tame himself?

Tiger and Kobe can learn a lot from one another. In fact, they may be the only individuals who can understand what makes both of them exactly who they are.

** Blogger Evan Klonsky inspired me to write this post with his most recent work, From Robert to Eldrick. Check this out for a closer look into the mind and world of Tiger Woods.**

The NBA Playoffs: Where Realizing You Haven’t Watched a Meaningful Knick Game in 10 Years HAPPENS.

The 1st of July---Lebron's "Independence Day"

Check out this New York Magazine article explaining why Lebron James should change this in 2011.

Chill, Hippies.

Hippies annoy me. I’m not talking about the politically-charged, Joe Cocker-loving, tie dye-wearing hippies of the ’60s. I’m referring to  the confused, politically-ignorant, Dave Matthews Band-idolizing, “legalizing Marijuana will save America” quoting, Birkenstock-flopping modern sort.

There was a time when hippies actually fostered positive discussion and action in our country. Nowadays, college-aged poser hippies often make America’s youth appear apathetic and misguided.

“Puffing the Magic Dragon,” wearing Che Guevara t-shirts (why?), disliking George W. Bush without legitimate reason (“he’s dumb” isn’t enough to justify your sentiment), and having a Bob Marley poster in your dorm room doesn’t qualify you as a “true” hippie. Actually, this just makes you a tool.

"Get Up, Stand Up" Now leave your dorm...

"Get Up, Stand Up" Now leave your dorm...

Today’s hippies are essentially walking contradictions of those from decades ago. Instead of taking to the streets with a united goal for change, many now stay home and bitch about problems they know, or do little about. Sadly, most of those who actually do possess knowledge fail to constructively apply it.

I believe that the single most powerful force inhibiting our nation’s political, social, and economic progress is our impracticality. It’s impractical to expect comprehensive reform overnight (with regard to any major issue, including health care, war, corporate greed, etc.). It’s even more so to anticipate action from others when you yourself are unwilling to make compromises.

Vegetarians criticizing meat-eaters for their roles in animal cruelty should instead preach support for the companies who do things more humanely. Environmentalists should put their money where their mouths are, and quit following Phish across the U.S. in their fume-emitting vans (how do all of these “hippie” folks afford tickets to all of these jam fests, anyway?).

Phishin' for Meaning?

Phishin' for Meaning?

Real hippies once knew how to blend their idealism with realism.  They stood together and illuminated a generation’s conscious restlessness through speech, song, and collectivization. To them, Dylan and Marley were ambassadors of compassion and peace, not just for the pot that they famously smoked.

College campuses were once the place for hippies to be themselves. Today, however, it seems like too many students are just the opposite.