One day that bird, he spoke to me
Like Martin Luther
Come join the murder
Come fly with black
We’ll give you freedom
From the human track
Come join the murder
Soar on my wings
You’ll touch the hand of God
And He’ll make you king
And He’ll make you king
Tuesday, December 9th is a night I won’t soon forget, as it represented a confluence of seemingly disparate events had me walking an emotional high wire like a long-lost member of the Wallenda family. On one hand was a culmination of seven years of television genius. On the other, the possible lighting of the fuse of a giant powder keg that’s been building over the last three seasons. At the nexus was college basketball game.
Home-brewed beer at my side, I began the night on Twitter with a stream of sarcastic quips that were meant to alleviate some of my own anxiety about the Jon Lester decision. Even though I had been definitive in saying that he’d choose Chicago, I’m a Cubs fan. We can’t allow ourselves to be too positive about anything.
I can empathize with Lester’s plight. It was difficult for me to choose between imaginary girlfriends in HS. Decision still haunts me.
— Evan Altman (@DEvanAltman) December 10, 2014
The CIA is advising Jon Lester on his decision. — Evan Altman (@DEvanAltman) December 10, 2014
I’m just glad you can’t purée tweets and feed them to someone…in a very uncomfortable manner. Everything’s better w/ hummus though.
— Evan Altman (@DEvanAltman) December 10, 2014
Yes, Jon, yours is bigger. Now can you stop swinging it and just announce already? — Evan Altman (@DEvanAltman) December 10, 2014
I share this with you not to try to show you how funny I think I am…ah, who am I kidding, that’s exactly why I shared them. Little rant over, I retired to my recliner to take in the IU/Louisville basketball game, one that I had figured IU would lose by 20.
Like a really lazy 21st century gunslinger, I snuggled in. Remote in my right hand, beer and phone alternately occupying my left. From the opening tip of the game, my preternatural grace kicked in and I deftly fired infrared beams at the DVR while simultaneously thumbing my Twitter feed between life-giving draughts of rauchbier.
The fact that the Hoosiers were giving the Cards a good game in the first half only served to wind my internal clockspring a little tighter. And the game was only to be a prelude to the night’s main even: the series finale of Sons of Anarchy, a show that I’ve been watching from the beginning.
I had been hoping since the start of the Winter Meetings that Jon Lester would make his decision prior to the start of Tuesday evenings events, but alas, I was to be disappointed.
I’ll try not to divulge much in the way of spoilers, though if you’re a fan and haven’t watched the episode yet, I can’t guarantee I won’t slip. Viewers have know all season that this was the Final Ride, so we’ve had several weeks to speculate, commiserate, and master…our feelings in regard to this great show.
As you can probably imagine, the outlaw lifestyle is something with I have an intimate familiarity. At one point during college, I was so deep that I actually had to complete a mail-order defensive driving course after picking up two traffic tickets inside of six months. Those were some harrowing times, and I’m just glad I made it out without too many points on my license.
I was able to put those rebellious days behind me, but something deep down yearned to go back. Enter SOA, the superbly written drama from the supremely warped mind of Kurt Sutter. The characters seemed to jump off the screen and the visceral aggressiveness of the writing and the action grabbed me and pulled me in from the start.
Most of us grow up wanting to root for the good guy, the one who defeats evil and upholds truth, justice, and the American way. But here was this show with these deeply flawed character doing all manner of evil things, yet we rooted for them. They were a collection of anti-heroes, fighting against the real bad guys in a battle to maintain their little corner of the fictional town of Charming, CA.
Okay, I think we’ve gotten to know each other well enough at this point that I can confide in you. I was never really that much of a bad boy. I’m sorry for being dishonest with you earlier, it’s really just a defense mechanism. The truth is that what really baited and hooked me about the show was the Shakespearean influence.
As a bit of a literary scholar in my day, I was intrigued by this new interpretation of Hamlet, particularly one with such license in terms of time and space. And while the depth and breadth of the show necessitated a departure from the finer points of the plot, many of the central themes were clearly present throughout.
The actors seemed custom-built for their roles in this biker drama, even a pretty-boy Brit best known for roles in Undeclared and Green Street Hooligans. So amazing was Charlie Hunnam’s portrayal of Sons of Anarchy legacy Jax Teller that I didn’t even mind the occasional linguistic slip.
Over the years, we all got to know the members of the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Original (SAMCRO) and we accepted them in spite of their faults and foibles. Through the violent deaths and hairpin turns of fate, we clung to this group of bikers as though we riding with them through the trails and travails.
But beyond the show itself, something that really struck a chord with me was Kurt Sutter’s willingness to discuss his process, the way in which he crafted this twisted tale. I’ve often professed an affinity for Eminem, whose volatile and inflammatory themes often belie the genius underpinning his incredible lyricism.
So too, Sutter was able to turn death, deceit, and Mark Boone Jr into things of beauty with a stripped-down prose that was at the same time eloquent and spartan. And when he spoke about how he wrote and what the creative process meant to him, I found myself inspired.
This is just a simple Cubs blog and I am little more than a hobbyist playing at something with which I fear I’ll never feel completely comfortable. But if a young man writing what I felt were sub-par articles on Yahoo inspired me to write again out of spite, Sutter did the same out of love.
It’s no secret that my writing is a little bit out there. I don’t pretend to conform to any set of journalistic framework, nor would I want to. I’m going to break the third wall, abuse punctuation, explore tangential rabbit trails, and beat you over the head with anecdotes. Oh, I’m going to drop random pop-culture Easter eggs in there as frequently as possible too.
That infuriates some people, and I get that. But in Sons, I found that it’s okay to be different and to go against the grain of what’s considered normal or popular. It didn’t necessarily inform my style, but I think Sutter and his show helped me to accept myself just a bit more.
And so as the Final Ride approached, I felt a bit as though I was saying goodbye to a friend. That 60-90 minute period every Tuesday night was my time in a way that I don’t even think sports can be. The finale played out much as I had thought it would, though it didn’t feel anti-climactic as a result.
Rather, I felt the same sense of peace that many of Sons’ characters had in the moments prior to their demise. And in that final scene, as the song above played, Jax made sure that his family, his club, and his town were safe. Perfect ending. I hope that in some small way, my writing can serve as a sort of bastardized legacy to my favorite show.
Maybe Jon Lester’s a really big SOA fan too, because the timing of his announcement allowed me to finish the show — even with a 30 minute delay due to the IU game — and spend a little more time scouring Twitter. I would love to tell you that I stayed up until the announcement was officially made, but anxiety is tiring for me.
I was keyed up for the IU/UofL game and gained some measure of relief when the Hoosier acquitted themselves relatively well. After all, it’s not like they lost to an institute of technology, Incarnate Word, or another directional school. So too, the conclusion of Sons removed a long-borne weight from my shoulders. Then I awoke to find that I had been set free of my final yoke.
Jon Lester had chosen to sign with the Chicago Cubs. It was almost too perfect.
I had gone to bed wrapped in a chrysalis of conflicting feelings and awoke with none of that. Maybe that’s why my daughter asked who catharted when she came into my room in the morning. In all seriousness though, it felt pretty dadgum good to feel so dadgum good about the Cubs.
Am I being a little hyperbolic here though? Could be, and it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been accused of such. I’ll guarantee you that it won’t be the last either. But as Cubs fans, we’ve sort of conditioned ourselves to expect the worst despite the thin veneer of boundless optimism.
So too, I hide insecurities behind false bravado and clever twists of phrase. Oh, but some of you see right through me, don’t you. Regardless, the conspiracy of Tuesday’s various events had my inner Eeyore…what do the kids say…turnt? But Tuesday’s gone and Christoper Robin was there to pin my tail back into place and cut my whining short.
One show ended just as my all-time favorite has begun to announce a few new cast members. The 2015 Cubs are going to look a little different and the critical acclaim (along with the requisite dose of tomato-throwing, to which I’ll not subject you but will assume you can find on your own) is already starting to build.
With Lester in a leading role, I can’t wait to settle in for the premier of Jons of Anarchy.