Friday, September 28, 2007

Weekend Events, Suggested by David Foster Wallace

Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2007 at 11:29 AM


The weekend’s loud and sponsorially christened Nextel Cup Kansas 4001 comes thundering into the Kansas Speedway (400 Speedway Boulevard) preinstalled with unexpected narrative twists of a type that in decades past would have induced, inter alia, fedora-wearing sportswriters to dive toward phone booths, the stopping of presses, and preadolescent cries of “EXTRY! EXTRY!”

Rousch-Fenway racer Carl Edwards – he of the acrobatic post-victory backflip celebrations2 and the pole winner of the 2007 Nextel Open – was, after winning Sunday’s race at the Dover International Speedway, subsequently penalized 25 points by NASCAR when his car was found to be suspended too low in the right rear quadrant, a major structural infraction, the penalties for which are draconian.


Edwards’ crew chief was fined $25,000, a real downer-type coda to the combination of adrenaline and applied engineering that constitutes a major corporate-sponsored auto race these days. The whole upshot here is that the team now enters the weekend’s race in sixth, not third, place; a blow, one would imagine, for Columbia native Edwards as he returns to what is, for all intents and purposes, his home court. The grandstand gates open at 8 a.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.


Saturday morning’s garage sale at the Lesbian and Gay Community Center of Kansas City is, culturally speaking, so antipodal to the weekendlong NASCAR events with their ostensibly heterosexual conservative fanbase and general vibe of flag-waving, down-home country music Republicanism3 that one might well expect the water there at the Community Center to swirl down the toilet in a countervailing direction. Please note: The event itself will be at 1000 West 39th Street. Billed as a fundraising effort and family-fun-type happening, it's a way for organizers and shoppers to engage in the buying and selling of mostly donated items; the proceeds derived will benefit the continued good works and community outreach of the LGCC-KC, obvs.4

In the continued spirit of selflessness and other-directedness and altruism, see also Sunday’s Bike For the Brain (B4B) event, presuming your interest in both bicycling and mental-illness-awareness issues and also presuming your possession of a bicycle, which would seem to be a prerequisite5. Several overlapping loops make up 10-, 25-, 50- and 62.5-mile courses, according to the physical wherewithal of participants. It is unclear as of this writing how a 62.5-mile cycling course can raise awareness of mental-health issues, cycling being a narrowly focused occupation not lending itself toward – for instance – PowerPoint presentations or pamphlets. The event suggests a mental-health professional pacing the cyclists while shouting into a megaphone about schizophrenia. All courses begin at the Johnson County Mental Health Center at 6000 Lamar in Mission at 8 a.m., and registration costs $20 per rider. For more details, call 913-323-6529 6.


1. NASCAR fans as a demographic are well-known by marketing analysts and ad buyers as cumulative possessors of the strongest brand loyalty across the entire spectrum of sports viewership; hence the visual overload of logos and corporate cup sponsorship and the lucrative endorsement contracts distributed among the sport’s top competitors, viz: Jeff Gordon for Chevy; Michael Waltrip for Napa Auto Parts; Jeff Gordon for Pepsi; Dale Earnhardt Jr. for Anheuser-Busch; and Jeff Gordon for, yes, Nextel.

2. As seen in recent Ford commercials framed as ersatz PSA spots for a fictive medical pathology called “Overactive Adrenaline Disorder,” in which a supposed young Carl Edwards flips from the end of his crib. Your guess is as good as mine.

3. And here, please note the author’s distinction between Hannity-type televisual conservative orthodoxy, with its associated doctrine of executive infallibility, and the sincerely held convictions of mid-American Republicanism, rooted in Federalism and hard work and a biblically based set of principles generally expressed under the rubric of “family values,” which are about as far from the true worldview of Fox News as Noam Chomsky, it goes without saying.

4. A digressive anecdotal-type reminiscence: The author’s parents organized annually a family garage sale wherein toys deemed underutilized over the course of the preceding year were offered for sale across the length of an 8-foot Hon brand folding table under the hot early summer Urbana-Champaign sun, the author’s father sweating immoderately, armpit stains becoming over the course of the afternoon circles of ever-expanding circumference until they intersected between his shoulder blades as a wet, vaguely disgusting and perspiratory Venn diagram. Hence the author’s own genetic predisposition toward Nixon-grade summertime flop-sweats, about which you probably didn’t want to know.

5. But which is not, as it turns out, the event’s planners having foreseen the interest of persons without bicycles or the physical capacity to ride 50 miles. They have mapped out a 1-mile walking course, so anyone interested in any form of nonmotorized ambulation is welcome.

6. The author’s proclivity toward tobacco consumption posing a seeming obstacle to participation here, but let it be known that switching three days in advance from cigarettes to chewing tobacco can vastly increase lung capacity, like a wrestler eschewing carbohydrates days before the weigh-in.

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