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Funbag

Do Any NBA Players Smoke Cigarettes?

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Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And preorder Drew’s next book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we’re talking about art guys, terrible beach food, Porky’s, and more.

Your letters:

Anthony:

Do you think there’s ANY player currently in the NBA that smokes cigarettes in the off-season? Like even if it’s just like 1-2 cigs? I wonder this quite often when watching games. I go back and forth on it. I know they are psychopaths about fitness, but also I’d imagine some party REAL hard sometimes. But also cigs seem so outdated, especially for the ultra wealthy. Like can you see Fred Van Vleet hittin’ some sticks after a few drinkies? I’m not sure!

Yeah there are athletes who still smoke. If there are still athletes who do coke and shit—and there are—there’s zero chance every last one of them would be like, “A Marlboro? Don’t you know those things’ll kill you?” I know that modern athletes have deranged fitness regimens and I know that their team’s designated Chip Kelly is waiting around every corner demanding to taste their urine for traces of rogue mineral elements.

But these are still jocks we’re talking about. They still love to fucking party, and many of them are quite stupid. Also, many NBA players come from Southern Europe, where smoking counts as food. Those dudes smoke. And you know what? They can get away with it. I was in the best shape of my life when I was 20. I also drank like a fucking fish and dabbled in the occasional “I only smoke when I’m drunk” Parliament, usually to impress girls (they didn’t care). You can pull off that kinda shit when you’re young. Or if you’re Jay Cutler! Remember that meme! Those were the days. ERMAHGERD REMEMBERING MEMES IS TEH SEXAY.

The only difference now is that players and coaches aren’t gonna smoke out in the open, Jim Leyland–style. They keep that shit in the closet. Or they do it at Paul Pierce’s house. But these are not Mormons you’re watching. They still squeeze some naughty business in. Vaping may be healthier, but that’s no fun. If you don’t think Dwayne Haskins doesn’t suck on the occasional Pall Mall, you haven’t watched Dwayne Haskins play quarterback.

Matt:

Does Mike Lindell bring MyPillows with him when he travels, or does he use hotel pillows?

Brings his own. To be a good salesman, you MUST believe in your product, and no one believes in his own product more than the fascist pillow dumbfuck.

Evin:

Do you think there’s anyone out there who’s seen every episode of The Simpsons? Not counting people whose job it is to do so (e.g. some TV critics, people who worked on the show, etc), I think you’d have a tough time finding any normal person whose seen it all. Everyone my age stopped watching after season 11 or 12, and anyone younger who’s picked it up since then is unlikely to go back and enjoy the very early seasons.

Absolutely, yes. It’s the most popular TV show that’s ever existed and it has millions upon millions of fans that span across multiple generations. I know every line from the first eight seasons of that show and I’m on the MILD end of Simpsons obsessives. I barely even qualify as one, frankly. There are completists out there. Many of them. All of them are proud. All of them have been trained to eat shit by the Fanboy Industrial Complex. And all of them have been conditioned by the modern television industry to NEED to watch every episode. I’m no different. When I start a new show now, I do so under the assumption that I’ll start with the pilot and watch every episode in order. This makes sense for something like Succession. It makes absolutely no sense for 85 percent of the shows currently on TV, The Simpsons included. But you’re ordered like a sheep to clean your plate, and so everyone does.

Our own Dan McQuade, who has by far the most intriguing TV habits on the Defector staff and who still watches The Simpsons every week, hasn’t seen every episode, but he’s seen over 500 of them by his count. He HAS seen every episode of Baywatch, though. To me that’s by far the more impressive achievement.

Chris:

With gunk inspection being a thing now, and pitchers already proving their red-assery, how long until some enterprising Sergio Romo-type decides to sell the space on the back of his underwear to some DFS site before dropping trou during a frisk?

Not long. It also won’t take long for MLB to be like, “Actually selling rights to your waistband is against league bylaws and we apologize to our fans for the offense. Also, batters will now only be allowed two strikes for the sake of broadcast expediency.”

I also don’t think it’ll take long for college athletes to utilize NIL laws on the field, either. We’re just months away from some dude in a Tuesday night MACtion game scoring a TD and lifting up his shirt to reveal a Golden Palace brand logo. That’s happening. Mitch Albom will shit tears when it goes down.

Anon:

In Murder, She Wrote episode 1.5, a producer (played by tremendous character actor John Saxon) has nefariously acquired Jessica Fletcher’s movie rights to her murder mystery bestseller called The Corpse Danced at Midnight. When Jessica confronts him, he tells her he wants to turn her book into a combination of Halloween, Porky’s, and Flashdance (this episode is from 1984). Was he murdered five minutes later? Yes. I actually think this would be the greatest film ever made. Agree or disagree?

Disagree. Did you ever SEE Porky’s? Lemme tell you what it’s like to watch Porky’s when you’re 14 and you just wanna see some boobs on TV for one of the first times in your young life. It BLOWS. I was at the perfect age to laugh at all of the jokes in Porky’s, but I don’t even remember any of them. One dude was named Meat and had a big dick. One dude was named Peewee and couldn’t get laid. Then the movie turns insanely dark when the titular Porky has his men beat the piss out of everyone. The only nudity I remember from it was a few minutes of ’80s-mandated shower peeping. Two people probably fucked in a car. I dunno. In its time Porky’s was, like American Pie, a deeply shitty ripoff of Animal House. No good can come from ripping off Porky’s. Just rip off the opening dream sequence in Porky’s Revenge instead. That’s a masterpiece of cinema.

The other two movies are good, but you don’t have to look hard for existing movies that plunge unstoppable serial killers into the hardscrabble world of erotic dancing. I do NOT give your desired film adaptation a green light.

Matt:

If you were obscenely wealthy, what is the one really stupid/frivolous purchase you’d make? For me, it would be to outfit an entire (large) room with the entire GI Joe collection. I’d have the big ass aircraft carrier in a body of water, all the airplanes hung from the ceiling, all sorts of landscapes to match the characters, etc. That’s really been a lifelong dream and if I ever get F-U money that’s how I’m spending it. 

Does art count as stupid and frivolous? Because it was just this past year when I realized that if I ever became obscenely wealthy, I would TOTALLY become an art guy. I went to a Lee Ufan exhibition in D.C. with my folks two years ago and I was like, “I would like that shit in my house.” Then I went to MoMA two months ago and saw this painting by Kazuo Shiraga (flat pictures don’t do it justice), so I went and looked at prices for Shiraga’s work on the private market. Virtually all of them cost over a million dollars. I found one in six figures and I was like, “That’s not THAT bad.” In real life, that bargain painting was roughly the size of a book cover. So I can’t buy an original Shigara. But if Defector Media becomes the multinational conglomerate we ALL know it has the potential to be, well then fuck you. All the Shigaras shall be MINE, and only my bestest friends and associates shall be allowed to view them in my parlor.

I wanna be an art guy. When I went to MoMA, it was the day after the CDC lifted its masking recs for the fully vaccinated, but the museum itself was still a relative ghost town. No one was there. There was no crowd around The Starry Night. I could have gawked at it from a foot away for an hour if I had wanted to, and the areas around lesser-known works were even more sparsely populated. It gave me an ever-so-slight idea as to what it would be like to own a priceless work of art: one so big that you have to buy an entirely new house worthy of showcasing it. And you know what? I’d buy myself an art house. It would overlook the sea, and have an atrium with 20-foot ceilings, and the centerpiece would be an Orozco mural the size of a fucking IMAX screen. And then, at night, I would fill a brandy snifter with blackberry Spindrift and just stare at my shit.

I’m not kidding. I would unironically do this. I have a Daumier print hanging in my office, but what if it was REAL? That would be the fucking tits. My wife and I have her paintings up all over our house and not only do they add the requisite touch of elegance we crave, but they’re fun to stare at. I have no obligation to a painting. I don’t have to articulate WHY I like it (especially when the painting is abstract). That would ruin the magic, actually. In turn, the painting has no obligation to me. It doesn’t even know I’m there. Everything in my Writer Brain toolkit is purposeless when it comes to paintings, and I like it that way.

And my Critic Brain turns off too, because I know so little about art, outside of the things my wife has taught me about it. I don’t suggest edits to myself while I’m looking at a masterwork. I don’t think of tweets to fire off in reaction. It’s like meditation, only I don’t fuck up every other minute as I’m trying to let go of myself. It’s very freeing. One enormous painting I saw in New York—I forget the artist—included a note on the placard that said the intention was to make it feel like encountering the painting gave you the same sensation as encountering another person. And by God it did exactly that.

I’m horny for art as I type this. I did that little MoMA jaunt as time filler on a trip to New York to do other shit. But I live in an area that has many free art museums, and I don’t take advantage of that fact nearly enough. I’m gonna start going to those museums more often. I’m gonna wear a nice suit when I do. Then I’m gonna go to Art Basel in Miami and hang out with even trashier rich folk. Then I’m gonna graduate to fine auctions, raising my paddle just as the auctioneer—his voice quivering—raises the bidding to $100 million, eliciting audible gasps from the rest of the room. I might even dabble in the stolen art market. Who bought Munch’s The Scream from a fence and had it shipped to New Zealand before word of its theft had even reached the authorities? ‘Twasn’t I!

HALFTIME!

Colin:

Last weekend, another family came to join us at the beach for the day. They left our house at the same time as us, but arrived about 15 minutes later. Brilliant on their part because they got to miss the chair/umbrella/tent/blanket setup – but apparently the delay was to stop for donuts. They waltzed in with a dozen assorted and a box of donut holes. I have never encountered donuts on the beach before. Is there a worse snack for the beach?

This is the week I learned that our own Laura Wagner enjoys snow cones with a healthy dollop of marshmallow fluff atop them, so nothing in the realm of Chaotic Beach Snacks can surprise me anymore. Anyway, I love donuts but you’re just asking for them to be ruined if you take a box of them to the beach. My hard law of beach snacks now is that every snack needs to be small and, if possible, individually wrapped. If I bring a full-size bag of chips to the beach, my kids will inadvertently fill it with sand within nine seconds. They are infectious sand agents, these kids. Only by packing a Frito-Lay variety pack can I contain their spread.

A donut is particularly bad because you only need one grain of sand to ruin it. If I get sand in a tiny bag of Fritos, it’s gonna fall to the bottom. That’s not happening to a sand-infected donut. You’re definitely biting down on that shit and ruining your afternoon. This is why, like Colin, I can’t support beach donuts. Here are some other ill-advised snacks to take with you, provided you don’t enjoy the taste of sand and you didn’t lug a banquet table to the beach with you:

  • Spaghetti
  • A single fried egg
  • A salad
  • Cupcakes
  • Raw cookie dough
  • Peking duck
  • Jar of pickles
  • Freshly buttered popcorn
  • Novelty-sized lollipop
  • Bag of deli ham
  • Spanakopita
  • Cheese fondue

Now a funnel cake on the boardwalk? That TOTALLY makes sense. I see no conflicts there.

James:

I am a father of two boys (six and three) and feeding them can be a crapshoot at best. Especially breakfast. Some days they will eat multiple bowls of their favorite cereal (currently Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Apple Jacks) other days they will have maybe two bites before stating their fullness and leaving a soggy mess for me to bus. It is a completely random event. As I sit here typing this, the big one has finished his, the toddler has barely touched his. Lunch and dinner is a similar gamble, though slightly less. When will we get to the point that I can just reliably place food in the table with confidence it will be eaten? 

If you ever get there, lemme know. Because I have NO sense at all for my children’s appetites. The 15-year-old will make a two-course lunch for herself at 4 p.m. The only time the 12-year-old reliably cleans his plate is if Chick-Fil-A is on it. And the 9-year-old is hungry all day EXCEPT when mealtime arrives. I’m absolutely fucking lost.

The good news is that all of these kids are old enough to make their own meals, which I leave them to do at breakfast and at lunch. You want either of those meals? Guess what, kiddos: YOU fucking cook it. As for dinner, my wife and I keep it as Rockwellian as we can. Everyone eats together, at the table, with the screens off. I used to get pissed when the kids wouldn’t eat, or when I’d cook them a separate meal from the main course and they wouldn’t eat THAT either. Now I’ve been in the trenches so long that I can’t bring myself to give a shit. All I care about now is MY food, which means I’ve followed the trajectory of every other dad throughout history.

Peter:

Mike Pence doesn’t certify the election results and welcomes the mob into the chambers. Walk me through this alternate reality. Does this scare enough Republicans into taking action? Would it have led to more violence? Civil War II? Would American generals have gotten involved to install Biden?

There would have been more violence and many people in Congress would have been murdered outright. All you had to do was watch the riot unfold in real time to know this, but last week’s video timeline from the New York Times made it definite. It wouldn’t have scared enough Republicans to take action because I just watched those same Republicans actively block any inquiry into the riot. It would have simply emboldened them to be even bigger Nazis than they already have proven to be.

After that, I have no fucking idea what would have happened. More police shooting innocent people, for sure. Maybe sectarian violence. Maybe random bombings. Maybe a military coup. I don’t know. All I know is that—going by the past five years—most Americans still would have found a way to shrug it all off.

Because the numbness is the point. I thought about that when the Trevor Bauer news dropped and his shitbag lawyer all but blasted “Gold Digger” from loudspeakers atop an L.A. record store. It’s the same awful people doing the same horrible shit over and over and over again until you can’t feel a goddamn thing when they offer up another helping of their evils. They don’t care how bad they look and they don’t care how loud you scream at them. They’ll just keep at it. So this was probably not the last attempted insurrection of my lifetime. Judging by the spate of horrifying voting laws that are passing across the hayseed states, another one is already being orchestrated and executed. I feel numb already typing all this, which means I’ve succumbed to the desired effect.

The good news, of course, is that Pence DID certify the election results and gifted us the familiarly dysfunctional government we all know and are currently enjoying. It’s not perfect, but you will not die in a perfected world. I can say that with absolute certainty. This is especially true now that you and I know everything bad that’s going on in the world at any given moment. Those bad things will continue because they’re impossible to stop in totality, nor will you be able to digest them all and carry on about your day. So to stave off the numbness, I choose my battles where I can (this involves a combination of voting, giving money to productive organizations like the ACLU, writing to my representatives, and yelling a lot) and then I take time out to both notice and appreciate all the GOOD shit around me: my family, my friends, a good Key lime pie, etc. That’s about the best I can do, and it’s how I’m gonna roll going forward. If it’s corny to be that way, so be it. I don’t give a shit.

Robert:

It’s well-established by now that most men over 70 are fascinated by World War II, with Ken Burns and the History Channel supplying hours and hours of content to satisfy that fascination. What collective fascination will grip Gen X and Millennial men when we’ve reached that age? The US has been at war for more than half our lives, so it ain’t that. I feel like it’s either going to be home renovation shows or retrospectives about whole decades (the 90s, the 2000s).

You’re already experiencing it in the form of Space Jam 2. That’s the new old man shit: old-ass people like me going REMEMBER THAT ONE THING WE WATCHED WHEN WE WERE KIDS? Bill Simmons just built a podcast empire around that very conceit. God forbid that you acquire newer, more sophisticated taste in pop culture as you grow older. No no, it’s still a bunch of grown-ass men demanding Hollywood give them their favorite shit from back when they were shitting their Underoos. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go fire off an angry tweet about how bands don’t rock anymore.

By the way, there’ll always be a History Channel demo of old men, regardless of generation. World War II will never not be interesting to people of my age and girth.

Brian:

There’s nothing I find more tedious and tiresome than leaving the vacation house, packing up shit, cleaning out the fridge, having that conversation about whether the ketchup is worth saving, or if we should bring home those three remaining eggs, packing something you brought from home but didn’t touch, or just tossing out something you brought from home. The question: Is there a good move here that minimizes the above situation?

Funny you asked, because I just went on vacation with my family and spent the entire first morning bitching about how much shit we were packing into the car. Once I had the suitcases and beach chairs loaded, out came the beach bags. And then the flip flop bag. And then the bag of snack sand. And then one bag of dry goods after another. And I said to my wife, “This isn’t a fucking magic van. The space inside is definitive and limited.” She fired me from packing the car, which happens every trip, and had the kids stuff it full in my stead.

The twist is that it was MY idea to bring a few dry goods with us, so that we wouldn’t have to go grocery shopping right away. In my mind, there was a perfect shopping combination where you bring a few things, buy a few more once you’re there, and then have NOTHING left in the rental kitchen once your vacation is over. Such an endgame doesn’t exist, and there’s no point in hunting around for it. The better move is either get takeout for everything, or to buy some groceries once you’re down there and accept that you’re gonna throw some of them away. I hate throwing away food more than anyone alive, but at the end of our week at the beach I poured damn near a whole quart of milk down the drain before we went home. I regret nothing. It’s a vacation. If you’re working your ass off to make it go off without ANY hitch, you’ve defeated the purpose of it.

Email of the week!

Brian:

A couple weeks ago my fiancé and I went on vacation. We stayed in a beautiful place (which, obviously, she picked out) and we had a great time (including great meals, a carriage ride, and a whole lot of being goofy tourists).

On the morning we left, I made a return trip to the car in order to cram one of our newly filled-to-capacity suitcases into the trunk. Upon opening the door, I found myself staring into the disgruntled face of a mouse who had managed to crawl inside the car somehow and nestle down into a sweatshirt I kept in there as a “just in case” item. The damndest thing is that the just sat there and stared at me, as if pissed that I was intruding upon his nap time. IT’S MY GODDAMN CAR, MOUSE! GET A JOB AND BUY YOUR OWN!

We felt lucky since we found no “evidence” of mouse habitation left behind until two hours later (of course!) when my beloved found three small brown pellets in the cup holders. Needless to say, all our souvenirs, leftover food, and permanent car fixtures (an umbrella, a tool bag, my sweatshirts) have either been trashed or Lysoled with enough spray to give each of us multiple cancers. I obviously also lit the inside of my car on fire to ward off any lingering mouse germs. I’m an animal lover, but fuck that mouse, right?

Yup. Fuck that mouse right good.