When the Sunday Boston Gob turned to local literati to ask their reflections on the Red Sox winning the World Series, it was spoiled for choice: Dennis Lehane, Stephen King, Ken Burns, Bill Littlefield, Samantha Power(?) … Gish Jen.
What, pray tell, is a Gish Jen?
It was like something out of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Some Puck went stealing among the Sox as they slept, and lo! They woke up greatly changed. Those who had been smooth of cheek now were strangely bearded. And a team that had hissed like vipers, now cooed like doves — in a pit still, not a nest, of course, but never mind. For now, forsooth, they who had been hopelessness itself, started to hit and hit and hit.
“Lo”? “Forsooth”? And who’s Puck—unless she means Orioles Manager, Buck Showalter, or Sox nemesis, Bucky [bleeping] Dent?
What is the point of this steaming heap of bovine manure?
Underneath it all, though, the biggest resurrection was perhaps of Boston itself. The Marathon bombing was a blunt trauma, sure, for which even the fact of crowds gathering without incident was a much-needed salve. But it was a trauma, too, that had renewed a special doubt. For Boston has, after all, always been as a city upon a hill, except. Except that the Sox were the last baseball team in the league to integrate. Except that Celtics legend Bill Russell had his house broken into and his bed defecated on. Except that we had all that trouble around busing. And what about our redlining of Jews? It’s hard not to recall these things and wonder: Did we fail the Tsarnaevs somehow? It’s not clear that we did. And yet for people who knew Dzhokhar especially, who had seen him at school, who had studied and partied and played sports with him, the lurking fear has been that we failed to truly open our hearts, that we accepted him, but only up to a point.
Red lining the Jews? I thought that red line on the ground was the Freedom Trail. And the Red Line underground was the… Underground. I don’t want to sound defensive, but just in defense of honesty: the Red Sox were indeed the last team to integrate, but that’s because their owner, Tom Yawkey, was a racist born in Michigan and who left his fortune to a bird sanctuary in South Carolina. He no more represented New England than did Carmen Miranda. And just as the Red Sox were the last MLB team to integrate, the Celtics—Bill Russell’s Celtics—were the first: the first NBA team to start five black players; the first NBA team to hire a black coach. Named Bill Russell.
Who just had a statue of himself dedicated in City Hall Plaza.
But enough refutation. The opposite of ignorance is not enlightenment but ignoring. Jen is the worst kind of dope: a self-important one. She deserves none of our time.
Except for this:
Did we fail the Tsarnaevs somehow? It’s not clear that we did. And yet for people who knew Dzhokhar especially, who had seen him at school, who had studied and partied and played sports with him, the lurking fear has been that we failed to truly open our hearts, that we accepted him, but only up to a point.
Did we fail the Tsarnaevs? By putting them on welfare? By their free education? By marrying off one of our own to Speed Bump to bear his evil spawn? By not arresting them for murdering three Jewish men on 9/11/11?
Boston lost many, many more people on 9/11/01 than it did on 4/15/13—approximately 150 passengers, many from New England, on the two flights that took off from Logan, compared to four at the hands of the Tsarnaevs—yet the latter date overwhelms our memories. That terrorist atrocity was never far from the minds of Red Sox Nation, as we watched their improbable journey past a .500 record, division clinch, best record in baseball, ALDS winner, ALCS winner, World Series winner. As I wrote the other day, Shane Victorino’s personal theme, Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”, became the anthem for the whole team, for the whole season, for the whole region.
Flush that “Dirty Water” away. “Sweet Caroline” can go [bleep] herself.
So can Gish Jen.