Whatever happened to all the heroes?
I had a minor epiphany that probably means very little, but I realized that between Palin and her bloodlines and True Blood and vampires, I have been exploring the nature of blood and it’s power without really setting out to. There must be something in here, but for now, I want to jump back into The Melting Economy, from a slightly different angle.
I am a true-blooded (there we go again), American sports fan–have been all of my life. I’ll skip the details of my devotion, but sports has become both an incredible metaphor and distraction for our times.
When Pluto was in Sag throughout The Nineties, the popularity of sports, along with the players musculature swelled to inhuman proportions. Contracts and biceps were bursting at the seems and created a disproportionate economic and biologic imbalance. The titanic rise in sports, was mostly fueled by anabolic steroids, especially in baseball and football. It’s no coincidence that on the heels of the baseball strike in 1998, early in Pluto’s stay in Sag, that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa staged a freak show display in hitting homes runs, both smashed the existing record for hitting home runs in one season, previously held by Roger Maris. Fans were turning away from the game as baseball had turned away from them the season before, canceling the entire season due to the owners lockout of the players. Feeling betrayed, attendance was down and then something incredible happened–Mark and Sammy began hitting homers at a staggering rate. It was nearly impossible to not get swept up in the euphoric crush of balls flying out of stadiums all across America, not too mention the man-love that Mark and Sammy openly displayed with one another.
Mark McGwire was Paul Bunyan and Babe Ruth, a modern myth rolled out right before our eyes, while Sammy was the lovable sidekick, Sancho Panza, the affable and grinning ethnic minority, safe in his countenance and slap-happy display. But the truth of the matter was that Bud Selig was allowing these juiced up jocks to pump his sport back up and put dollars in the wallets of the owners. This was baseball’s dirty little secret, which would rear it’s pimpled head in just a few short years.
America’s obsession with sports can be seen it’s own chart with Sagittarius on the ascendant. Sag rules sport and it’s prominence is woven deeply into the fabric of the country, from Jim Thorpe, to Babe Ruth, to Jim Brown, to Wilt The Stilt, to Ali, to Richard Petty, to Joe Montana, to Tiger, America’s story is their story and ours in some ways. When Pluto transited the the US first house, sport rose to gargantuan heights, the power it wielded, especially economically was unmatched, but the dark side would also be revealed.
All it took was one disgruntled ex-husband to blow the whistle and the whole house of cards was about to collapse.
The run up to the Sydney Olympics featured the husband and wife team of CJ Hunter and Marion Jacobs, who were all over the media. They were the personification of strength and grace. They had cute TV ads that featured them employing superhuman-like traits while shopping, but there was only one problem, ok, here goes the blood thing again, they were loaded with all kinds of drugs that ended with “lone” or “zine” at the end of their names. Once The Feds had Hunter, a light was about to shine on the dark side of Pluto in Sag. Jones left Hunter, who had become radioactive. Part disgruntled ex, part stoolie trying to save whatever was left for his name and life, he spilled the beans. The next to fall was hurdler, Regina Jacobs, then track coach, Trevor Graham, then The Feds started to hone in on their dealer, Victor Conte.
Conte was a bass player for Tower of Power at one time, but he stumbled onto a more lucrative profession in supplying performance enhancing drugs for the likes of Hunter and Jones. Another name turned up on Conte’s client list: “Greg Anderson” longtime friend and trainer of one Barry Bonds, whose head had swelled to cro-magnon proportions while he was on the way to shattering McGwire’s brief record. The Anderson connection finally prompted baseball to to launch it’s own tepid investigation along with The Feds and as a result, we had McGwire and Sosa together again, this time in front of a grand jury, shamefully evading their use of steroids. Watching their fall was as sad as it was joyous when they were jacking bombs out of the park. Then there was Jose Canseco’s book, which named more names. Once The Feds got their teeth into a Mets batboy and Roger Clemens’ trainer, the list of players using roids was staggering. The monster was out of the box and more players were being named everyday–baseball’s day of reckoning had come. Pluto in Sag had come home to roost, exposing the truth behind the facade. But baseball wasn’t alone in having it’s dirty laundry aired.
In football Michael Vick was arrested for running a dog fighting ring and the grimy sub-culture of pitting dog against dog to the death for cash was exposed.
Dead dealers don’t lie
Football was about to also face the music on the roids front as well when David Jacobs, a known supplier to The Cowboys and other players was about to testify to The Feds when he “conveniently” killed his girl friend and then himself on June, 6, just days after Pluto turned retrograde in Capricorn, and just days before it was to move into Sag. Had Jacobs gone public with his client list, which I am sure was extensive, the holy ground upon which The NFL treads would have been sodden with a scandal so deep and wide, that it would have made baseball’s little problem seem like an afternoon detention. In addition to Jacobs’ death, The Patriots were caught cheating, which caused quite a flap around the league, and then led Patriots coach, Bill Belechik to take his grudge out against other teams, running up the score as much as possible, not just winning but exerting as much pain and humiliation upon his opponents that he himself was feeling for being caught.
In pro basketball, referee Tim Donaghy was arrested when his bookie buddies were busted, thus outing the NBA ref and his game fixing side gig. For years, fans have detested NBA officiating, claiming it was rigged by commisioner, David Stern, a charge that Donaghy alluded to after his arrest. Of all of the commissioners, Stern is by far the most Machiavellian, using a combination of behind-the-scenes-influence, with his background as a lawyer when it comes to dealing with answering charges, framing the debate in his favor and using every ounce of marketing muscle with the networks and websites like ESPN to diffuse and drop story lines altogether. Most recently, another NBA ref, whose phone number showed up consistently on Donaghy’s phone records after games was under suspicion as well. Like many of Stern’s problems with the league, it quietly went away–just like Kobe Bryant, his star players rape case.
Lance Armstrong was always under suspicion for doping during the Tour-de-France (along with everyone else who rode) and even tennis, of all sports had it’s own match fixing scandal. Pluto in Sag elevated some of the greatest figures in sport during it’s reign, but it also showed us the ugly, seamy, nasty and even deadly underbelly of our national pastimes.
As Pluto enters Capricorn and the economy continues to melt beneath our very feet, it will have an impact on sport like no other time in it’s history. While the nineties saw titanic expansion and gargantuan profits, the coming years will see less and less money going towards this major distraction in our lives. People wont be able to afford it, from both a monetary and emotional perspective. There are rumors that the Carolina franchise of The NHL is about to go bankrupt, which means that the team will either have to be bought by the league, or disband. This will be a major trend moving forward and contraction is no doubt headed to all of the major sports, with less cities having teams, there will be less marketing doallrs and the luster of the spectacle of sport will diminish.
Similar to it’s portrayal in the movie, “Rollerball” teams will eventually be the face of corporations and cities will be the secondary entity associated with them. We’ll be witnessing The GE Yankees square of against The Microsoft Mariners in the not-too-distant-future.
The era of heroes is drawing to a close, and with it our societal projections. The love of modern myth will be sustained by the heroic acts of each and every man, woman and child as they summon the courage to embrace their authenticity and stand for values that reflect spiritual freedom, unconditional love and faith in the magical fabric of creation itself. That alone during the backdrop of the days ahead will be heroic enough.