Sunday, April 15, 2012

Hiking That Big Mountain

Dear Dirk,

I’m writing in response to your two recent Twitter messages that said the following: “My top 5 stones songs: sympathy for the devil, under my thumb, gimme shelter, beast of burden (mick singing), you cant always get what u want…What r yours?” Well, where to begin? First of all, let me just say this: some cities have all the luck. I’m not sure Dallas deserves you, Dirk. The best Euro player of all time and a Stones fan? Damn. And the crazy thing is, that’s not even your best music-related Twitter moment. Here's one of my two favorites: “On way to arena. Big game in okc. On another note. Radiohead in big D today. Who is going? Go mav.” I like that for multiple reasons. And here's the other: “One of the best concerts I have ever seen. Jay z and kanye. They killed it. Was kanyezee wearin a leather skirt?” Wow. I already loved your game, of course, and your dour German shooting coach and your acoustic guitar playing and your backpacking through Europe and your friendship with Nash, but after reading these messages, I love you even more.

My brother was the one who alerted me to the Stones reference and he also brought up a very interesting point. He noticed that the song titles you listed could be read as a subtle comment on the recent Lamar Odom situation. Now I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing here, Dirk, but I’m not saying you’re not doing that either. This interpretation makes a lot of sense for every single one of those songs, when you start thinking about it. But so would a lot of other Stones songs that you didn’t mention (“No Expectations,” “Prodigal Son,” “Jigsaw Puzzle,” “Street Fighting Man,” “Stray Cat Blues,” just from Beggar’s Banquet alone), so I’m not going to indulge myself with this line of thinking any further, out of respect for you and for Odom, whose situation none of us can fully comprehend, not being him. Instead, I'll just quote Metta World Peace on the subject of what Lamar Odom should do with his time now that he’s done for the season. The other day, after suggesting that Odom should be a ball boy (“the first ball boy in the NBA that can play”) or that he should “just be a Boy Scout and wear the outfit,” World Peace said this: “What's the biggest mountain in the world?...He should go hike it. Do something that's never been done.” When one of the reporters mentioned that you, Dirk, hiked the Bavarian Alps in 2007, World Peace replied, “He hiked a big mountain?…I'm talking about the big one. Dirk, he ain't hiking that big mountain. He ain't going on the big one. I'm going on the big one.” Now I don’t know when World Peace changed his mind and decided that he, not Lamar Odom, should climb a mountain, but I do know this, Dirk: A lot of people think you aren’t going to climb the big mountain again this year, metaphorically-speaking. They’ve counted the Mavs out for another big playoff run. As of today, there's not even a clear-cut favorite, but you guys still aren’t in the championship conversation. And to paraphrase Royal Tenenbaum, that’s not right, dammit. You’re the defending champs. Until someone officially knocks the champs off the mountain, there’s always a chance they’ll climb it again. Being a Rockets fan, I know what I’m talking about here. They won their second consecutive championship as a sixth seed. Remember that, Dirk.

On another note. Have you read Stanley Booth’s The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones? You should definitely read it on your next road trip. Best rock 'n' roll book of all time, in my opinion. (Stanley Booth is just a great writer in general.) I bought Keith’s Life a few months ago, but I haven’t read it yet, except for the part I read in Target while my wife was shopping, about how they would stay up all night partying and recording Exile on Main Street in their French Riviera chateau and then at dawn they’d take a little speedboat to Monaco for breakfast, Keith at the wheel. Reading that in a Target was a somewhat dispiriting experience. Now let me ask you something: why’d you feel the need to note that you liked the version of “Beast of Burden” with Mick singing? What other version is there? Keith doesn’t ever sing that song. Mick sings all the songs you mentioned, so I don’t get it. My iTunes research shows that there’s a Bette Midler version, which I just listened to. Surely you weren’t worried that people would think that this Bette Midler rendition was the one you meant for your list of top five Stones songs? I will say this, though: your choice of songs was great. I can’t argue with those, but the Stones have so many good songs that I couldn’t make a list of five myself. (I certainly wouldn’t take any of your songs off my list, but even if we only stick to the hits, what about “Jumping Jack Flash,” Dirk? What about “Honky Tonk Women”? What about “Satisfaction,” the biggest hit of them all, which still sounds pretty dang fantastic if you hear it on the radio and haven’t heard it in a while?) I can name my top five five albums: Beggar’s Banquet, Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Exile, and Some Girls. But even then, I'm missing some of their all-time best songs. You gotta love those guys.

Even more than the stuff about the taking the speedboat to Monaco, I've remembered this one particular line from Keith's book ever since I read it in that Target. It's about friendship. I looked it up just now to get the full version. Here it is: “Most guys I know are assholes, I have some great asshole friends, but that’s not the point. Friendship has got nothing to do with that. It’s can you hang, can you talk about this without any feeling of distance between you? Friendship is a diminishing of distance between people. That’s what friendship is, and to me it’s one of the most important things in the world.” Man, that's great. A diminishing of distance between people. I can’t think of a truer definition of friendship than that, Dirk. And I don't know about you, but for me, a lot of the times when I've felt that diminishing of distance, music was involved. Sometimes even the Stones in particular. And even though I canceled my Twitter account and won’t be opening a new one any time soon, I gotta admit that Twitter can be a diminishing of distance between people, too. At least it has been with you and I this week. To conclude, here's one last Keith quote for good measure, about songwriting: “Great songs write themselves. You’re just being led by the nose, or the ears. The skill is not to interfere with it too much. Ignore intelligence, ignore everything; just follow it where it takes you.” I love those last lines, and they’d probably serve as pretty good advice for you guys, too, once the playoffs start. Ignore intelligence, ignore everything. Just follow it where it takes you.



P.S. Speaking of rock 'n' roll, have you heard of this band the Alabama Shakes? Wow. How have I not heard about these guys (and gal) until this week? Saw a clip of their performance on Letterman the other day and they were incredible. Might be up your alley, Dirk. I bought their album this morning and I’ve already listened to it about five times today. You never know how this stuff is going to hold up for you over time--that's the amazing thing about the Stones; their best music still sounds just as cool to me as when I first heard it, if not cooler--but man, this album sounds pretty damn great right now.