Monday, December 1, 2014

... because Raiders

Oakland Raiders
Oakland Raiders (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Because it was a long holiday weekend for the staff of TSIBIFWFfG, as Senior Intern I'm working the desk by myself today and feeling a little down "because Raiders," the meaning of which you don't have to be a geek to get.

It's useful shorthand, isn't it, this "because-noun" structure? According to some dude writing for the Atlantic, it's:

 ... one of those distinctly of-the-Internet, by-the-Internet movements of language. It conveys focus (linguist Gretchen McCulloch: "It means something like 'I'm so busy being totally absorbed by X that I don’t need to explain further, and you should know about this because it's a completely valid incredibly important thing to be doing'"). It conveys brevity (Carey: "It has a snappy, jocular feel, with a syntactic jolt that allows long explanations to be forgone")....

But it also conveys a certain universality. When I say, for example, "The talks broke down because politics," I'm not just describing a circumstance. I'm also describing a category. I'm making grand and yet ironized claims, announcing a situation and commenting on that situation at the same time. I'm offering an explanation and rolling my eyes—and I'm able to do it with one little word. Because variety. Because Internet. Because language.

Yes, that's it. It succinctly captures a community's sense of the all pervading. Though you might say it is a nuanced use of language, it works best in those unnuanced instances where the notion one is wielding is indubitable - thick, heavy and unequivocal. If I say I am sad "because A's," that invites a challenge. It needs to be unpacked. It needs qualification for, indeed: They are pretty good but not good enough. They are a disappointment but not a humiliation. Hope peeks out from under the hem of their skirts, though it is probably not hope at all but only wishful thinking.

But "because Raiders" not only says all that needs to be said but also stops the conversation. As Walter Cronkite would have said at the end of a broadcast: "Well, that's the way it is."

I'm not sure there's a baseball equivalent, not one so unremittingly despairing. You could say "because Cubs," but they have been bad so long to the point of endearing. The Raiders were a brand, excellent in the idiosyncratic transgressive image of the late Al Davis in his prime and then they were alternately marginal-minus and adequate-plus as Davis slipped into inflexible cognitive decay. And now they are terrible to the point of cultural coin.

They are a shadow on the land, an eclipse. "The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our life-time."

Because Germany.

Here in Oakland, As Bill Murphy would have put it in Groundhog Day, "I'll give you a prediction: It's gonna be cold, it's gonna be grey, and it's gonna last you for the rest of your life."

Because Raiders.

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