Friday, May 05, 2006

05-02-2006 -- in the aftermath of madness

Oh, yeah… sweet, joyous pain. Muscles from ankle to neck stiff and sore, balls of the feet so bruised and battered I’ll be walking like a penguin for days, lungs still reeling from unaccustomed effort, right-side road rash from an unfortunate encounter with the sin-stained sidewalks of Whyte… the streaker, I am learning, pays a steep price for his seconds of freedom.

Really, it was a sense of fair play that led me to ditch my drawers and run whooing and metal-signing down the fan-packed carnival lane. We’d had half an hour of high-fiving and hooting and honking and “OILERZ! WHOOOO! OIIIILERRRZZZ!” and I was frankly ready to see these tits I’d heard so much about. Then it struck me, how selfish – how sexist! – I was being; why should I wait on women to bear the burden of sexy celebration? What was I, as a screaming Oilers supporter, giving back to the community? It was, as the weak-ass cookie-cutter commentators say, “gut-check time.”

The streak was the ultimate – or penultimate, or pre-penultimate, or (dare we dream it?) fourth-from-last – expression of a year spent bringing my fandom up to the next level. I’d always had the basic background hockey love a life spent in Edmonton imprints on a kid – I think it has something to do with the magic hypno-powers of Rod Phillips – but this year was different. I sweated through the delicious agony of our goalie problems (and I still think Jussi could’ve done the job if he’d had some support); I gnashed my teeth through losing streaks along with the jersey crowd; I screamed “PULL THE FUCKING TRIGGER, DIPSHIT!” dozens of times. What a great year to be able to say “I’m an Oilers fan,” rather than “Yeah, [shrug]; I like the Oilers.”

There’s one force to thank for turning me (and I’m sure many others) from city-default autofan to relatively well-informed and opinionated fanatic, and it’s the same force that’s challenging and changing the way citizens everywhere deal with everything and everyone around them: blogs. Mainstream sports journalism, at least at the rank-and-file daily-desk level, is word-for-word the most agonizing shit you’d ever want to read or watch, but without the nuggets of actual information scattered among the reams of “We’ve just got to create more opportunities, score more goals” I had no real way of interfacing intelligently with the street-level barroom bullshit where real fandom takes place. But starting with Covered in Oil and from there moving out into a network of excellent fan-journalism – Lowetide, Battle of Alberta and many others, including opposition bloggers – I found myself in an atmosphere of smart, opinionated, ferocious and utterly entertaining commentary and analysis. Not only was I able to really follow and feel the team for the first time, I was able to feel fandom; lurker though I may be, these blogs (and their comment threads) have brought me closer to being part of the Oilers in a way I formerly misunderstood and, honestly, kind of laughed at.

I’m no starry-eyed Utopianist on the idea that blogging, social networking, citizen-journalism or whatever is going to remake the world into a shining land of collaboration and distributed democracy; the dark forces of command and control – and basic human indecency – have a lot of play left in their clamps. But I now have personal anecdotal proof that the community-creation power of blog networks can – at least when combined with the powers of liquor and crowd madness --turn a sports-indifferent nerd into a fan committed enough to run four blocks naked through a throng of thousands.

The only problem is, what’s next? What happens when the Oilers grind the Sharks to rubble? What happens after… after… after the thing we dare not mention happens? Since the agony I’m in convinces me that shoeless 400-metre sprints are best left to those with functioning cardiovascular systems rather than the sloshing amnion of perogy butter and cannabis resin that bathes my feeble organs, how will I top this pagan tribute to Lady Victory?

I guess all I can say is, keep watching this space, sports fans! Go, Oilers.

photo: fish


Allan said...

I dunno--you clearly still have one sock on. Does it still count as streaking if you're still wearing clothes?

But it does explain all of the shouting I heard that night....

Anonymous said...

Nice photo. I like the sharp contrast between your lilly-white nakedness against the dark street.