the mike brown of post-1991 is a big topic. vast, undecipherable, rarely accessible to the media.
so where to start? his waistline? his shoe size? the signature fedora?
well, let me outline for you what drew me to the “mike brown, downtown” project originally:
as some of us are aware, the bengals have a reputation. various bengals players have been arrested, most virulently among them chris henry, for a variety of reasons and a variety of charges. this is well-known, and it’s kind of the new look, 21st century bungles. the tranformer epic of the bengals is interesting. for a quick contrast example, let me cite some jokes from the 1991-2004 “bungles” and from the post 2007 “bungles”. ok here goes:
the “cheese-poof bungles”
-Q. What do the Cincinnati Bengals & Billy Graham have in common?
-A. They both can make 60,000 people stand up & yell “Jesus Christ” !
-Q. Where do you go in case of a tornado?
-A. The Paul Brown Stadium – they never get a touchdown there!
-Q. What do the Cincinnati Bengals and possums have in common?
-A. Both play dead at home and get killed on the road
the “utz sour cream and onion bengals”
-Q. Four Cincinnati Bengals in a car, who’s driving?
-A. The police.
-Q. Why can’t Chris Henry get into a huddle on the field anymore?
-A. It is a parole violation for him to associate with known felons.
-The Bengals knew they had to do something for their defense, but they couldn’t get the defensive coordinator they really wanted: Johnny Cochran
ok, so from the above, the bengals narrative from 1991-present is: something about bumbling, but still kind of loveable bungles up until 2004 –> then marvin lewis finally turns the ship in 2005. resurgent and athletic and young, crafty offense, ball-hawking defense –> players start getting arrested, become blacker, criminalized, marvin lewis/mike brown become men “selling the soul of the organization” for hyper-talented but psychotic ball players, convinced wrongly of their own ability to get the best out of these young men. bungles take over the mantle of thug team from the portland jail blazers —> presently, we’re in a potentially transitional phase. i watched the draft coverage for 5 mins when they talked about bengals [i swear only for 5 mins, and even then on accident, i’m not a super-sports jock nerd please believe me, i’m local-sports-get-a-hat-tip-nothing-more regular creative class-type blogger! i sew and drink tea!], and chris berman says “BENGALS, GOOD DRAFT, BUT ARE THEY TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF LIKE THEY SAID THEY WOULD? DRAFTED SOME QUESTIONABLE CHARACTER GUYS, PLUS SIGNED TANK JOHNSON…” something like that, all caps. the moral, if the bengals get good and keep outta trouble, they can probably polish their (and the city’s) reputation a little bit (phew). the leaf is mid-turn over
which leads me into myself. i find this stuff interesting because of the representational politics that go into it; or rather, where (bold and italicized) the representational politics crop up. AGREE WITH ME THAT: YES, the “utz sour cream and onion bungles” are purported to disgrace our city in way that the “cheese-poof bungles” never did, or did much differently.
then, basically, i got to thinking. AIN’T MIKE BROWN A CRIMINAL? AIN’T HE?!??!! AND AIN’T SOJOURNER TRUTH A WOMAN?!?! well look, mike brown is a vast man, like i said above. all kinds of kookie things fit inside him, some of which we’ll get to. buuuuuuuuuut, for a man caught up in legal battles from most of the past decade, with his name smeared in the [business section or local news section of the] papers [that’s important, where you’re smeared or revealed or castigated is just as important as how], you never hear mike brown being included among the “utz sour cream and onion bungles”. fucking hell, mike brown was the first one, for the constant lawsuits over the stadium. his trials are for ripping off the county on the order of hundreds of millions of dollars by making “affirmatively fraudulent or misleading statements regarding the Bengals’ financial position” and using the nfl’s monopoly power to restrain competitive pricing. in this particular case, the charges were dismissed because of statute of limitations, which is to say, not because brown was innocent.
i’ll revisit the particulars, but at the root, i got interested because mike brown, someone brought to trial nearly as much as chris henry (i’m guessing, i’ll tally the numbers later), does not bring the same kind of shame or scandal on our city that chris henry and the other “utz sour cream and onion bengals” do. occasionally, you’ll see people say something along the lines of “mike brown makes us look cheap” or silly, or stupid. but he doesn’t degrade us. he doesn’t make us black (cochran) or criminalized (police, felons). here is a representative mike brown joke:
A Bengals fan tries to get in the stadium with a very young puppy. Security says, “That’s a real nice puppy you got there, but it’s not allowed in the stadium.” The fan pleads, “But please, sir, I got him for Mike Brown!” Security replies, “That’s a real nice trade, but you still can’t bring him in!”
mike brown makes us a puppy. or he makes us look old-fashioned/out-dated. THIS IS IN SPITE OF THE FACT that brown is the one who much more regularly leverages “cincinnati-ness”. chris henry (i’m treating henry talismanically here because he gets the lightning rod treatment) never has claimed to represent what cincinnati stands for. mike brown writes editorials in the newspaper where he flings around what cincinnati stands for and will become. this is a completely different treatment of a figure who is a cincinnati bengal much more than any other single person. and insofar as cincinnati bengals are a grounds for creating “cincinnati-ness”, then examing why mike brown isn’t a criminal is worth thinking about to me. OOOOOOOOOOOOK.
more to say: fan groups, litigation