Skip to contents
Funbag

The American Flag Isn’t Just For Aggro Fuckheads

during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 7, 2018 in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we’re talking about ESPN, applying for a job, soup and sandwich lunch combos, and more.

Folks, it’s Election Day, so [Donald Trump voice] I want you to get out there, and vote, but vote only the one time—or maybe they’ll let you vote a few times, who knows?—but we’re gonna have some of the BEST people there at the polls, good people, believe me, you don’t want a piece of them, because some of these people are really big—but they’re gonna be there, maybe drinking coffee, maybe not … and they’re gonna be watching everything that goes on with the ropes and the pulleys … you used to be able to vote by flipping over a playing card; why don’t we do that anymore?

Your letters:

Conflicted:

I’m excited to see the USMNT play in the World Cup this month and was looking to purchase some red, white and blue swag to wear while watching. Then I remembered that the American flag has been co-opted by a large segment of the population. If I were to wear anything ‘Murica-looking in public, I’d likely be confused for a MAGA person. Is there a creative alternative to donning flag paraphernalia (like a Statue of Liberty green crown) these days, or do I just wear a red tee/navy hat combo and call it a day?

Reclaim the red, white, and blue for yourself. I know that wingnuts have imbued the flag with all of their hateful juju, and have essentially ruined it for the rest of us by imbuing it with all of their hateful juju. They couldn’t kick all the people they don’t want out of the country—although tonight will mark yet another chance for them to facilitate that effort—so they just made the flag, and the word America itself, into their own personal brand so that no one else could have it. You see the flag on the back of a pickup, you know that guy is a SUPER DUTY bag of shit. You see it in a Twitter handle, you know that the person behind it snitch tags Donald Trump Jr. every 10 minutes. You see it flying outside a random house in the sticks and you know that a TRUMP ’24 sign will be parked a few feet away from it.

But the flag doesn’t belong to just those people. It belongs to you and me too, and it only does Billyjoejimbob a favor when you disown the flag, the colors, and even this entire country—annoying a country as it might be—entirely. He wants you to be disillusioned. He wants you to be the insufferable online liberal who’s like, “Actually the flag is ugly???” All of that serves his purpose of sorting out the real Americans from the fake ones.

So fuck Billyjoejimbob and fuck his kind. Fuck them all in the goat ass. You’re as real of an American as any of them are, if not more so. You’re the good of America, and you always have been. So buy yourself some garish stars-and-stripes merch for the World Cup and rock it with pride. It’s still a fantastic color scheme, and I’m still fond of this country no matter what happens tonight and beyond. If some pickup truck with an AR-15 sees you walking down the street decked out in flag swag and thinks you’re one of them, tell them to fuck off and die. They’ll be paralyzed by your reply, and then they’ll veer directly into stupid, loud anger. Keep on walking. Let them be stupid, let them be loud, and let them be angry. Let them know that their anger merits them no extra attention. Let them know that you live here too and that if they don’t like it … well now, there’s the airport. Go back to Saxony, you star-spangled cock.

Matt:

I recently realized that my consumption of anything on ESPN except live sports (MNF, NBA playoffs, etc.) has dropped to basically none. I used to wind down pretty frequently watching SportsCenter. I’ll still occasionally tune in to Around the Horn because I like some of the panelists. But even with major sports in season right now, I can’t be bothered to flip to SportsCenter. Am I just becoming a crotchety “back in my day” sports fan, did ESPN really go down the drain to remove almost everyone likeable from their ranks, or is it something else keeping me from going back?

There’s something else, and it’s called the internet. The only time I watch SportsCenter anymore is if I’m traveling for business and need company in my hotel room in the morning, but even then I never actually WATCH SportsCenter. I have it on for atmosphere while I get dressed and make some coffee and set up my laptop, etc. I haven’t intently watched an episode of SportsCenter in, like, 20 years. Why would I? I can watch highlights DURING games by just scrolling down Twitter, plus networks provide endless scores and stats all through any every game anyway. Back in 1993, I had to watch SportsCenter because it was the only way I could find out what the fuck happened. There was actual suspense watching it; I wouldn’t know who won until the highlight was over. Now I know that the Raiders blew a 17-point lead before they’ve even finished blowing it.

So for informational purposes, SportsCenter serves no purpose anymore, but a lot of people still watch it anyway. But, like me, they don’t watch it intently. Here’s something that retired SportsCenter anchor and original ESPN cornerstone Bob Ley told me about SportsCenter’s viewership in the past 10 years. This quote was on the record, but I never ended up using it:

“We define a heavy SportsCenter viewer as someone who watches SportsCenter three times a day for 17 minutes a day. If that’s a heavy viewer, what’s a medium viewer? People aren’t sitting there, day after day, and watching in linear fashion. Our audience has lives.”

In other words, SportsCenter isn’t produced to hold your attention span. That’s why some highlights get repeated in single episodes, etc. You can go ahead and expand that to the rest of ESPN’s studio slate. I could be an old fart and be like ESPN JUMPED THE SHARK WITH ALL THAT DAMN SCREAMIN’ A!, but A) I’ve been making that complaint since before many current SportsCenter viewers were literally born, and B) ESPN is not broadcasting to the same audience, the same world, as it was back then. People still watch the fuck out of ESPN, but they graze. They watch that one cool touchdown catch again, or they glance at Aaron Rodgers being sad in the postgame presser, or they take a nibble of Stephen A. going off on something.

That’s just how people consume ALL media now. It’s how I do it. I watch games, listen to Spotify, and stare at my phone simultaneously, and I’m a novice compared to other people out there. I’m not mad that society has evolved in this fashion. I’m done being the cranky fuckhead who wants time to stop in place. That’s William F. Buckley shit. Shit changes and so do I. Same goes for the rest of you.

Joe:

When sending in resumes, is there a bias regarding if it’s submitted as a pdf or a word document?

There is no more roundabout way to Google something than by emailing me about it, but I’m not gonna tell any of Joe’s prospective future employers that he required my assistance in the task. According to this website, which I have never heard of and which could very well be a spam site, employers prefer Word docs over PDFs. But I see no reason why you can’t send both file types and then note it in your cover email (“I’ve enclosed my resume in both Word and as a pdf, for whichever file type is easiest for you”). If you ALSO send it as a jpeg, that’d be overkill. They’ll print that email out just to light it on fire. But two attachments are manageable to anyone who has a working frontal cortex.

Matt:

Do you really need to include a cover letter when submitting a resume? What makes for a good cover letter?

Why are you people asking me for resume advice? I haven’t updated my resume in 15 years, man. I can’t even fucking find it on my hard drive right now. And the last time I wrote a cover letter was 1998. I’m not telling you this to brag, but to convey my profound uselessness as a resource here.

BUT … I’ve passed through the threshold where I’m the guy reading the cover letters and resumes now instead of submitting them. I was part of the team here at Defector that had to review some of the job applications for here a year ago, so I can tell you what I looked for in reviewing all of those materials. Please note that I was a ruthless bastard while doing so.

Any cover letter needed to be short and had to sound like an actual, interesting person had written it. For resumes, I didn’t care about file type. I just scanned them for any experience that might catch my eye, and not necessarily obvious shit like “I worked for Time Magazine!” One applicant had an extensive nonprofit background, and THAT I found fascinating. I put that person through to the next round.

I didn’t like resumes or cover letters that were larded with fat; all of that was useless and burdensome to me. Also, you had to turn in writing samples along with your resume/cover letter, and I liked it when all three of those documents complemented each other. If your writing sample was as good as your cover letter, or your cover letter sounded like the byproduct of someone with your resume, then I was interested. Everything has to work together. Everything has to be a package because YOU, the applicant, are a package. Ah, but are you the TOTAL package? Or did the shampoo bottle leak out the box while in transit? Those are the question you have to ask yourself. Fuck me, I sound like a LinkedIn person. UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN! Let’s get to the next question.

Henry:

In a recent Funbag, you mentioned hating people who listen to something in public without headphones. Is there an exception for baseball or other sports? Last week I went for a long walk with my baby in the stroller specifically so that I could listen to the Phillies-Braves game (since audio-only is the perfect medium for baseball), but forgot my headphones and ended up playing the game through my phone speakers for the whole world to hear. 

Are a bunch of other people around, or do they only walk by you periodically? I don’t have a problem with you blasting your shit if the latter is the case. On the bike paths, I sometimes pass by other cyclists who are blasting music as they ride, but they come and go so fast that I have no time to be agitated. I even tried playing music myself while biking once, only to realize I didn’t like it. But if you’re walking/biking along an often silent pathway, I don’t have a problem with you ditching the headphones. It’s only when you’re at a store, or in a restaurant, or some other enclosed space with a lot of other people. That’s when I can’t escape whatever it is that you’re listening to. That’s when I’m a hostage to your music/baseball game/shitty Youtube video/FaceTime call, and that’s when you deserve to be stabbed in the face.

And don’t get at me with, “Just put on some headphones of your own to drown it out!” No. Fuck you. I shouldn’t have to resort to that in a public space if I don’t want to. The onus isn’t on me to keep that space free of podcast ambushes. It’s [NFL voice] on all of us. I should be able to enjoy wherever I am without your bullshit attacking my frail ears and everyone else’s. I’ve accepted a lot of shifts in modern etiquette over the years—phones at concerts, etc—but this is one issue I’m not backing down on. I’ll stay an old fart about this without any regret. Being a considerate person is a timeless pursuit.

But sure, if you’re the proverbial tree that falls in the forest, listen to all the baseball games you want.

HALFTIME!

Noah:

What’s your position on half-sandwich, half-salad options at a restaurant? I’m not historically into it (and forget about half-sandwich, half-soup), but I’m staring down the back half of a Reuben right now and the whole thing came with a simple little side salad and I’m saying to myself, “I really only wanted what I’ve eaten.” Note: This is not about the health benefits of less meat and more greens or anything like that. Just about being full and not, like, stuffed.

I’ve never ordered the soup/sandwich at any restaurant and never will. I’m not quite the pig I used to be. I count calories now (it’s been a smashing success; I’m not going back) and have been domesticated into not just accepting the idea of shared entrees, but I enjoying it. I like reaching the ideal satiety threshold and then going no further. It fits into my active, bike guy lifestyle.

But when I want a sandwich, I want a fucking sandwich. I don’t want half of one. I don’t want a small. And I don’t want a salad tagging along when that sandwich arrives. If I only have so many calories to eat in any given day, I want the BEST calories. I want a pastrami sandwich parked in front of me, ready to do its dirty sinful business to my body. A salad is superfluous to me for this exercise. A waste of time. If I ever order a salad out, I’m ordering just the salad, and it better kick FULL ASS. Like the calamari salad from China Grill in New York (RIP), or any peanut noodle salad that has 560,000 g of sodium, or anything with burrata in it. Or I wanna swig a bottle of Ken’s Lite Caesar dressing without bothering with the whole lettuce part. I’m not Ted Nugent when it comes to salads, but I need them to matter.

I also object, in principle, to half of anything. Gimme it all or fuck off.

Evan:

When can we start roasting the MNF graphics like we do Marvel’s? 

Yeah but it’s not just MNF anymore. Every primetime game now includes a stat animation package that lasts a minute too long and looks like it was made on a candy-colored iMac from 1999. It’s a network’s way of letting you know this is a Special Game, even when that game is Broncos vs. Raiders. Here is where my old crank genes kick in again. I just want my meat and potatoes: the score box, the stats, and the lineups. I don’t need all of this other shit. The other week, I had to listen to an animated John Krasinski tell me about the fucking Patriots. I will murder John Krasinski with his own prop rifle. WHY ARE ALL THE FAMOUS PEOPLE SOMEHOW FROM BOSTON WHAT KIND OF HORSESHIT IS THIS?

Anyway yeah these graphics are dogshit.

Dan:

I know you wrote in 2020 about quitting drinking, and a few months later in a mailbag. You were pretty happy about it, and hopefully still are. Just wanted to ask how it’s going now that it has been a couple years. Still at zero? Still don’t miss it? I’m early 40’s with similar drinking habits to what you described: three to five drinks in the evening, most days if not every day. Functional alcoholic, but increasingly less functional with age and getting tired of feeling and working like shit every day. I’m trying to decide if I can/should cut down to just Saturdays or just social settings, or if my habit is such that I can’t play with fire and need to just quit fucking around and cut it out entirely. Thanks. 

My rule of thumb is that if you think you should probably quit, then you should quit. It’s not easy TO quit; sometimes you need a precipitating event, or outside help, or you just need enough time feeling like shit to finally put your foot down one day. But if you, Dan, know that the booze is taking its toll on you, you’ve already answered your own question. Don’t wait for your brain to explode like I did. That wasn’t fun.

I still haven’t had a drink since my accident and have no inclination to. That’ll make me four years sober next month, although I don’t commemorate the occasion because it’s the same day as the day I nearly died, and because I’m green and sober, which means that AA—which I have no problem with—likely doesn’t consider me sober at all. No chip for me. A pity.

That aside, I feel fucking GREAT. Every day. I never go to bed feeling miserable or wake up feeling likewise. I’m down in weight. I’ve saved god knows how much money. The only drawback I’ve experienced since quitting is missing the TASTE of alcohol, and not its effect. But I killed that problem off by getting into near beer, much of which tastes like my past enough to keep me happy. I don’t miss real alcohol, I swear. I have an innate knowledge of how both my body and mind have improved without it, and I’m not keen to let any of that improvement go.

So if you’re thinking about quitting, just try it. I mean that earnestly: set an amount of time to go without (40 days etc.), see if you can make it through the early stages of withdrawal (I was in a hospital for that stage, so I’m an outlier there), and then see if you feel like you’re in a better place once you’ve reached the end of that trial run. Worst thing that happens is you fail, which has its own value. No one who’s gotten sober has ever done so without failing.

Also, again: weed exists and is about to be legal everywhere. The green and sober lifestyle is not only doable, but optimal.

Peter:

Is Bryan Adams’ “All for Love,” with Sting and Rod Stewart the corniest song ever? The best part was that it was for the Three Musketeers movie; they’d be the lamest three musketeers ever.

I loved that song when I was a teenager. It was one of my secret pleasures. I sang it in the car when I was alone. Like when Sting screamed out the ALL!!!!! at the start of the chorus? That’s when I really took it to the limit. Again, I told no one this. I listened to the song again just now, for the first time in years, and I’ve aged better than it has. By a surprisingly considerable margin.

The backstory to that song, which you will have zero interest in, is that it was a knockoff theme song for a knockoff movie. Bryan Adams recorded “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” for Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and it was an even bigger smash hit than the movie was. “Everything I Do” remains one of the best-selling singles of all time worldwide and, to this day, has spent longer at the top of the UK chart than any other song in history. Longer than any Rick Astley song, even.

So once that song took over the charts, people in Hollywood were like, “Well shit, let’s make another medieval adventure movie and get Bryan Adams to do another power ballad for it. But let’s make it THREE Bryan Adamses!” And then, hey presto! Here’s a shitty Three Musketeers movie with Kiefer Sutherland, Charlie Sheen, and Oliver Platt as the title characters, and Chris O’Donnell as D’Artagnan. Toss in Adams/Sting/Rod and you won’t find a more 90s project. Everyone fucking hated it.

Mark:

Why don’t you ever remember some coaches? I remember Dick Jauron.

Oh fuck yeah I’ll remember some coaches. Let’s do it.

Bobby Ross
Bill Fitch
Bobby Cremins
Al Groh
Cam Cameron
John Robinson
Gary Barnett
Dennis Erickson
Dave Campo
Eddie Fogler
Ray Rhodes
Doug Collins
Butch Davis
Bruce Coslet
Ray Handley
Dick MacPherson
Ron Zook

That felt great.

Mike:

My uncle is a road biking enthusiast who also loves giving away his bikes so he can build and customize a new one for himself. I’m the most recent beneficiary of one: a truly excellent road bike. Drew, I know nothing. This is your chance to mansplain everything I need to know about becoming a bike guy.

I’m still a neophyte as bike guys go, so your best bet is to find a good local bike shop and talk to the people there. Also, Tim Marchman told me to read this book, which I did not do but would almost certainly benefit from doing. But I have learned a few extra things from my past four months in the saddle, and here they are…

-Get ready to take the new bike to the shop (or your uncle) a couple of times at the outset. strictly for fine tuning. In my case, the shifting cables were too tight, which caused the bike to downshift when I hadn’t done anything. This is not a fun thing to have happen when you’re laboring up a hill.

• Bike shorts are good, even the ones that come with a cushioned diaper sewn into the butt. It’s not fun to bike 10 miles with my aging, drooping scrotum in constant danger of getting tangled in the chain. Gotta wear the shorts or else my balls will break contain.

• I bought this gel seat cover because Wirecutter recommended it. It’s flawless. I also bought a patching kit and a little saddlebag to keep it in, but I, uh, haven’t actually unboxed any of it. I should probably do that. Buy a light, too. And a bell.

• Buy a pump that measures the psi and then check the tire pressure once a week, because the tires lose air even if they don’t feel like they have. I learned this the hard way after I blew a tire and had to take it into the shop. Now I keep my tires full and fresh, and I can innately detect when they’re slightly low because every bump is more pronounced and because the back of the bike feels less stable to my vigilant buttcheeks. Ride enough and you and the bike become of one mind. It’s cool.

• Know your hand signals and use them. I hung a U-ey on a wide road and some fuckface screaming in from behind gave me a curt “You should signal” as he passed by. Fuck that guy with a kickstand, but also he was right. If I ever see him again, I put a crowbar in his spokes. I’ll use my hand signals from now on, but not for that guy.

• For people in front of you that are in way, ring the bell once you’re within hearing distance but not when you’re already a foot behind them. For people walking toward you who don’t notice that you’re coming because they’re staring at their phones, give a friendly, “Heads up!” Then they move aside and you feel immense power.

That’s all I got for now. Bike guys in the comments will almost certainly offer you more advice, along with a few loving corrections to some of the shit I said up above. Happy riding, kiddo.

Email of the week!

Jared:

When I was in my late 20’s, I applied to graduate school and was able to land an interview at a nearby university. I had only been on campus once, so about halfway through my walk to the interview, I stopped to look up directions on my phone. After confirming, I put my phone away and took a step forward on the sidewalk… directly into wet cement. There was no sign, no cone, nothing! My loafers and suit pants were now covered in wet cement. I ran back to my car in horror and did my best to wipe off the cement with a blanket. While doing this, I placed my folder of resumes on top of my car. I think you already know where this is going. A gust of wind swept through, taking my resumes with it.

Believe it or not, this story has a happy ending – I was accepted. Better story of perseverance, me or Saquon?

You. Lord knows I’d never survive that kind of Elmer Fudd shit.