Every year in college I would boycott Bill Simmons for about three months. Just couldn’t read him. Why? Pure unadulterated jealousy. Plain and simple.
He simply wouldn’t die. I don’t mean that in literal terms – more of a comedic sense. I was waiting for Bill to blow the punchline. Stumble. Miss a beat. Come back down to earth. Something. Never happened. His readership climbed. His books were bestsellers. He was killing.
The comedian Jim Norton on the radio show Opie and Anthony said, “comedians hate seeing other comedians do well.” Same can be said for writers. When one of my friends gets published I get legitimately mad at them. Not to their face, but certainly to the side of their face.
I wanted to see him suffer a little. I hated how I was an English major toiling through Shakespeare and Irish Lit classes at Saint Joseph’s University in West Philly while he sat on his ass and wrote 5,000 words on an NBA Finals preview using Anchorman quotes in LA. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one.
Detractors routinely come out of the wordwork to bash Simmons for his clinging to the “everyman fan” persona as he sits courtside at Lakers games, behind home plate at Chavez Ravine or hangs out with his celebrity friends. Oh and the pop culture references. A lot of people aren’t fans of the constant Karate Kid and Teen Wolf shoutouts in his columns or his sudden fascination with The Wire or international soccer.
|Stop doing well!|
Are they wrong? Not really. Simmons has his faults. He’s no Halberstam or Hunter S. Thompson, and I don’t appreciate his use of footnotes a la David Foster Wallace, but to his credit he pretty much ditched the “I’m just a regular guy” gimmick in his columns. He had to. I don’t know many people with 1.4 million Twitter followers or a podcast that gets downloaded nearly 700,000 times a pop. The truth is, he doesn’t even write that much anymore, sticking to the popular podcast. He’s pretentious, rarely admits when he’s wrong and is quick to point out when he’s right.
But why would I beat up a guy who A) wouldn’t read what I’m writing anyway or B) care? I let the jealousy fade.
Until I clicked on NYTimes.com and found myself glancing at their Sunday Magazine and seeing a magazine preview featuring the one and only Sports Guy.
Initial reaction: You gotta be fucking kidding me? A thumbnail photo of Simmons in a tie getting showered in Gatorade accompanies the article. I loathe it.
I fire up my blog and unload. I pepper the post with words like “sellout,” “hack,” and “David Foster Wallace ripoff.” My diatribe continues for more than 1,500 words but pales in comparison to Charles S. Peirce’s review of Simmons’ The Book of Basketball.
But what purpose am I serving? Why am I so angry about a guy I regularly read actually succeeding? There are approximately eight writers in the world who make a decent living at this thing and seven of them write about vampires and/or wizards. When did I become so cynical, crossing my fingers that the people I read on a daily basis fail? Pretty soon I’ll be the guy on Twitter who thinks he’s making witty comments when all he has shown is his prowess at being a complete douche.
I deleted the post. I should be glad that the guy who made me think I can get into this game is doing well and breaking out into new endeavours. But I think it’s time for another three month sabbatical. I deleted the post. Basically, I wrote what amounts to an angry letter during a hissy fit. Who’s the hack now?