Friday, October 05, 2007

Lorna Jackson interviewed in the TYEE

Another article/interview in BC's TYEE came out this morn. Haven't seen it yet, but from what I hear we made the cover of this one. And if this interview doesn't sell you on Cold-cocked, then nothing will.

What I need desperately is to get Lorna on Hockey Night in Canada, maybe an After 40 Minutes segment. Face to Face with Don Cherry, watch him change more colours than one of his godawful ties. Or suits. More than anyone else, that man needs a day with Russell Smith, esq., someone who will finally, finally teach him how to dress. At 500.00/day, perhaps it might be worth all of us Thirsty readers chipping in a few bucks to purchase the man some fashion sense. Though it would do nothing, alas, for crap that comes out of his mouth.

'Cold-Cocked': The Hit of Hockey

Lorna Jackson on why we really watch the puck drop.

View full article and comments here

By Geoff D'Auria

Published: October 5, 2007

According to Lorna Jackson in her new book Cold-Cocked: On Hockey, we must read hockey like a good short story. We have to see the games as scenes, and the players as characters, actions as words -- a booming slapshot, an impossible deke, a body sacrificed against a blocked shot, a meaty fist upside an unsuspecting head.

And we have to put them all together and build our own meaning and come up with our own reasons about why this story is important (or not). This is our communal story, so we have to resist the version of the story imposed by a frenzied media or a corporatized NHL.

"Players don't make meaning," Jackson explains, "spectators do."

And this book is about that: about how to read the game and reclaim it from those who narrowly interpret it as a man's game, as a game of "warriors," as a single-minded quest for Lord Stanley's Cup (said with the tremulous, disembodied voice of Hockey Night in Canada).

"The NHL machine ignores people like me," Jackson writes, "women who abhor the easy cliché, the hypermasculine rhetoric. Okay, they build arenas that resemble shopping malls for us. Oh, and kudos, boys, for the ridiculous girlie replica jerseys with the figure-flattering cut and raglan sleeves so we can pretend to have boobs like Shania Twain. I don't want to be Markus Naslund and I don't want to shop."

Clearly, this is no textbook read on the sociology of sports and gender (although Jackson admits that exploring how women experience the game differently was a starting point).

It's as much about her relationship with her daughter (a huge Ed Jovanovski fan) and her father (Béliveau) and her husband (tellingly, no preference reported), as it is about the game. And this is the point. It's a meditation on how Jackson finds her own meaning in the game, giving us all permission to do the same.

The Tyee spoke with Jackson recently to explore these ideas (and her mysterious relationship with Markus Naslund). We offer you this as your pre-game warm up for the first game of the season, tonight. Watch your groins.

On the allure of Olympic gold medal kisses and the 'new NHL man'

"What drew me in was watching those guys on the ice with their kids and kissing their wives and hugging their mothers, and just seeing them as a different sort of character than they had been in the '70s when I was [first] watching -- I mean, there were characters like Derek Sanderson that appealed to me as a teenager -- but I think I wanted a more complex character if I was going to watch that story and be involved in it now. And I got them."

On Italian bastard meets Nordic god

"I think they've got the right idea [in promoting this new NHL man]. I was drawn back in and I am more compelled by the characters, but then if they're going to keep me, they better pay up and give me a bit more [in terms of stories and complex characters].

"But also, it's so easy in Vancouver -- the narrative kind of took off on its own. Naslund and Bertuzzi, as characters, are interesting guys and with a really neat friendship -- the surly Italian bastard and the golden-haired Nordic god. So, it is really easy to be compelled."

On Bertuzzi and Naslund as Lenny and George from 'Of Mice and Men'

"I was reading Of Mice and Men again because I love the book, and the moment where Lenny squishes the mouse -- like, he's got this mouse in his hand and it's a caring, gentle moment and then... [deadpan voice] it's dead [chuckles]. And he doesn't get it; he doesn't know his own strength, and yet, George looks after him. It's a caretaking relationship. And it's also just a beautiful relationship between men based on aggression and loyalty and love. And one where ultimately a really hard decision has to be made about that relationship."

On Bertuzzi blame

"We're all changed by having to face what we got out of that situation, what we called for in that situation. Media, fans, all of us who've watched it on the screen a million times and got some sort of thrill out of it -- we were complicit. And if we looked at that and thought of it, you'd come back to the game a little bit differently. Not necessarily negatively, either.

"I didn't come back to the game horrified by outrageous violence. But I am less willing to accept a high hit to the head; I cannot stand to see that anymore. And I do distinguish between violence in hockey or fighting in hockey and what Bertuzzi did."

On how men think like women

"It's risky generalizing about anything, sports included, and especially men and women in sports. And I think when I started writing the book I thought that there was going to be a really clean division between [the supposedly male obsession with statistics and winning and "player as warrior" myth] and how women read the game. And then I did a fair bit of research reading around on fan response to sports in general, you know, lots of sociology of sport literature and stuff.

"Most of that indicated men don't really see sports as an obsession with statistics, and so on. They actually see it with imagination, as well. And they see it aesthetically, using phrases like 'pretty play' and 'beautiful goal.'

"But I still believe that the dominant sport journalism, broadcast or print journalism is obsessed with stats. And I think men are more likely, maybe, to be satisfied with that. And I don't think it's as interesting for women but I also don't think for a lot of men it's that interesting, either.

"I think women are looking for other things: they're looking identification with players, they want to have a Trevor Linden lead the team because they want to be like Trevor Linden and they want to marry Trevor Linden, you know? And maybe men are doing that [identifying with players] too, but they're less aware of it.

"I think you choose a player to emulate or one that is going to represent you because they represent some aspect of your values, or you want to get a hit off of their values.

On firing the Don Cherry narrator

"There's something in the gaps in a good short story. There's mystery. There's magic. You can [put it together for yourself]. And you'd better. You don't check your brain when you go through the turnstile. And you don't let Don Cherry do your thinking for you. There's no reason to."

On the athlete as warrior

"You can't get away from it in all sports, and hockey in particular. [Puts on hushed and earnest voice] 'Yea, that is right. Players are just like warriors. Whoa. Am I ever excited about this. And, oh, there's Don Cherry with his dead soldiers in Afghanistan on Coaches Corner. Yea, there is a connection! And I am being patriotic!'

"Well, I think it's a dangerous thing, a dangerous narrative to accept, especially on a Saturday night watching entertainment with our kids. And I don't think it's accurate. And it's a cliché. And all clichés and narratives need a good shake and I think that one does, as well.

"So part of me is offended by that 'warrior as hockey player' and vice-versa. And in part, that's [what let me] go back into looking [in her book] at my Dad and thinking about him 'cause he was a nice guy, you know? A nice, gentle man who was actually a soldier and a warrior and he was never the same afterward [World War II].

"I don't like hockey players to be idealized and I don't like warriors or war to be idealized. And when you put those two together, I think it's a thin reading of the game and of the players."

On whether she's in a hockey pool this year


On whether she recommends picking Naslund


On whether her answer to that was based on her telepathic and imaginary relationship to Naslund (as described in 'Cold-Cocked')

"[Laughs] I'll just check in with him.

"No, it's based on watching him skate a little bit in camp, and I watched last year very carefully and I have concerns about his body. I love him. I love his play. I think he's fabulous but I haven't chosen Naslund in my pool, [adds quickly] but I'm willing to trade for him if things improve.

On what story the Canucks are telling this year

"I don't think they've gotten started yet on that story. I mean, the story right now is 'How are we going to be more fit so that our groins don't hurt.' [Laughs] I read that they're starting to do yoga, which is probably a good step in that direction. What a hoot! Can you imagine Phil Esposito in Lululemon pants doing yoga? Or Derek Sanderson? I mean, good lord. But, I mean, they better figure it out, with all these groin injuries. [More laughter].

"They're so young. There's a rebuilding going on and there's a different identity being formed. So, I don't know if the story is started yet. I don't feel part of a story, let's put it that way. I mean, it's too easy to think that Bobby Lou [Roberto Luongo] is the main character here. I don't want him to be, for some reason. I don't want the goalie to be the main character who is the hero and the saviour because that's not an interesting story. If it's as simple as, 'if he stops it, we win,' it's not a [complex enough] story."

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