Passages with which I particularly agree are in red. Enjoy.
Our Way: Root and HootBy DAVID BROOKS
Published: October 14, 2003
Last week I visited Tucson, and then flew back to attend a Yankees-Red Sox playoff game. It occurs to me that some of my friends in the Southwest may be watching the series on TV, and may be alarmed by some of the behavior they are seeing on the field and elsewhere. They may think it impolite to grab a 72-year-old man by the head and toss him to the ground, or throw hard objects at people's faces, or hold dueling press conferences calling each other names.
My friends should remember that the Yankees-Red Sox series is a contest between two Northeastern teams, and while the Northeast is no longer a particularly important region of the country — we haven't sent a person to the White House in 43 years — we do have a distinct way of doing things, which we cherish.
For example, while most people in the Southwest seek pleasure and avoid stress, we in the Northeast do not have that orientation. The place in their culture that is occupied by the concept "happiness" is occupied in our culture by the concept "cursing at each other."
So when you go to a game at Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park you will see lawyers, waiters and skinheads sending off enough testosterone vapors to menace the ozone layer. If a Martian came down and landed in the stands of a Yankees-Red Sox game, he would get the impression that human beings are 90 percent men and 10 percent women in tight T-shirts, and that we reproduce by loathing in groups.
It's interesting, for example, to turn and watch Yankee and Red Sox fans as they watch a game. As the game goes on, they almost never display pleasure, contentment or joy. Instead, during the game they experience long periods of contempt interrupted by short bursts of vindication.
If one of their players has just grounded out, they regard him with a gaze that suggests he has just betrayed his country. If he has hit a home run, they treat it as evidence that the pathetic bum on the field has finally lived up to the standard set by their superlative fandom. Then comes the taunting.
Some people claim that American men have trouble expressing their emotions. Not at Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park. Toward the end of the game I attended in the Bronx, when it was clear the Yankees were going to win, the Yankee partisans turned to their brethren from the Bay State to let them know which part of the anatomy they resemble.
They started chanting a two-syllable word to summarize this conclusion. First they chanted it in reference to the Red Sox fans. Then they chanted it in reference to the Red Sox players. Then they chanted it in reference to nothing, just for the aesthetic satisfaction of it. Art for art's sake.
And the really nice thing is that our players, who hail from across the world and rarely from the Northeast itself, often embrace our culture. The Red Sox pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim was recently booed by his own fans during player introductions at Fenway Park. In what can only be described as a sign of deep respect for local mores, he raised Boston's favorite finger.
Similarly, if you look at the Boston Red Sox batting helmets, you will see that they look like spittoons turned inside out. This is in homage to the Northeastern talent for scuzziness.
A few years ago some singers from the Pacific Northwest tried to pioneer something called grunge rock. But watching people from Washington State trying to appear grungy is like watching Norwegian kids try to rap. The effort is there, but the essence is missing.
We know that our region is not the future. Every year, people move out of the Northeast to Scottsdale and other places where it is considered fashionable to coordinate your toenail polish with the color scheme of your Lexus.
Those of us who are left here know we will never be happy. If God had meant for us to be happy, he would have had us born in Aspen. We know that every year the political center of gravity in this country moves farther south and west, because most voters do not appreciate the importance of sarcasm when selecting their leaders.
But at least in the era of our decline we have our internal feuds to sustain us. You may deprive us of our greatness, our honor, our very lives, but you will never take away our rage.
Originally published here.