Thursday, September 13, 2012

Let it Bleed

Writing these preview pieces has become a dangerous proposition.  It’s easy to feel boxed in, to get caught up in the wave of hysteria that the fanbase perpetually rides into oblivion.  This is the danger inherent in mindmelding with the greater tribe.  But as a shaman I have a responsibility to speak to truths both small and great and sometimes this clashes with the bloodlust and righteous fury of the people.  I think you can probably see where I’m going with this.

The thing is, is that trying to be an objective Lions fan has become really, really difficult.  The biggest reason is because, as fans, we need to move forward.  I talked about this last week – for us, there is no backward.  There is no regression.  We can’t handle that.  That is one of the many aftershocks of 0-16.  That terrible Death March broke us in ways too terrible and inconceivable to truly understand.  It left us high strung, perpetually teetering on a high-wire of the soul.  One wrong step and we’re fucking finished.  We can’t afford to screw up and for god’s sake we can’t look down. 

This creates a sort of manic irrationality, not so much a belief as a fear of disbelief.  It is a frighteningly souped-up speed demon hell car barreling at a million hours an hour with no brakes, driven by a hillbilly on meth, racing away from Fear.  This is what is driving us.  It is not quiet, it is not subtle and it has no time for sober analysis or thoughtful detail.  It just wants to rev its engine and then race into the future where it will probably explode and kill everyone inside.  This is where we have been as a fanbase – or rather, this is what we have evolved into over the last couple of years.  It is a manic kind of Hope, built as much on the desire to avoid Fear as anything else, profoundly influenced by the negative as much as the positive.  It is something that is uniquely our own and no one else understands it but us.  Hell, we don’t even understand it.  I’m starting to, but trying to wrap your head around it is to invite madness and chaos.

So that is how things stood when we came into this season and that is how I feel every time I write one of these, like there is a psycho clown holding a gun to my head and laughing.  Of course, it occurs to me that I am that psycho clown and that gun is of my own making, but still, the pressure to just strut the front lines like some kind of crazed beast and preach the sanctity of blood and destruction, ignoring all other truths, is pretty damn huge.  In short, we overcompensate like freaks because of what we have had to endure for far, far too long.

That would be bad enough, except we now also have to deal with the dread specter of Disrespect.  It’s not bad enough that we put this manic, insane pressure on ourselves to Hope and Believe because the alternative is just too horrible, too painful, but now we have to deal with every asshole with a Magic Football Formula telling us that we’re going to fail, and that our dream is just a mirage and that soon we’ll wake up and find ourselves back in the Desert of the Damned, weeping like faithless men until our parched souls dry up the tears and leave us desiccated husks, lying in the sand until a foul and evil and cruel wind comes along and blows us into nothingness.

Whoa.  This got a little heavy, didn’t it?  The point I’m trying to make is that it’s hard out here for a man with open ears and eyes that see because nobody wants to hear that shit.  They either want to revel in their own misery, like pigs slopping around in their own shit or they just want to hear sonnets about our boys swooping in on fighter jets made of sex, candy and beer, and the prevailing national mood when it comes to the Lions only exacerbates that to an insane degree.  It has created a You're Either With Us Or Against Us mentality and predicting that the Lions could – gasp! – lose is considered tantamount to treason and anyone guilty will get taken out back, shot and then skullfucked by the Lord of the House of Spears.

I just think it’s time, collectively, to take a half a step back and stop acting like dumb assholes, on both sides.  We need to quit acting like a bunch of schizophrenic cokeheads.  We march down the street before games, club the disbelievers upside the head and declare that we’re headed for a thousand years of a Glorious Lions Empire and then after the games we cannibalize each other and declare that Matthew Stafford is a loser because he’s a human being and not the mythologized warrior poet of our hearts.  I’m just saying, it’s not treason to think that the Lions might lose this game.  I will be on my knees, weeping and beating my chest, trying to evoke the thunder of the gods and cursing the little men in red and gold inside my TV, and I’ll probably put a hex on Al Michaels at some point, name a squirrel “Harbaugh” and then powerbomb it against a tree, but that doesn’t change the fact that, well, I think the Lions are probably going to lose this game.

It doesn’t do any good to just pretend otherwise, to armor myself in some sort of cheap plastic optimism, an optimism that in its cravenness is actually cynical and fearful, a weird sort of worship of The Dark and The Fear in its own strange way.  We have to get to a place where we recognize and accept that the Lions can lose a game like this, and more importantly, that if they do they’ll still be okay.  It isn’t the end of the world.  It doesn’t presage some mighty fall, some terrible regression, and we won’t wake up and realize it was all just a dream while a naked Matt Millen spanks us with a spiked paddleboard made of Hate and Fear.  It is what it is and we have to learn to come to terms with that.

Of course that’s all speculative and I don’t mean to talk about it like it’s a foregone conclusion.  It isn’t.  The Lions very well could win this game.  It’s insulting to suggest otherwise.  After all, this is still a team with Matthew Stafford raining Heavenly Bombs into the hands of the angel St. Calvin, and with the two of them involved, anything can happen.  Hell, it already has.  And for as ferocious as everyone says the 49ers defense is, our defensive line is made up of savage cannibals and an immortal time traveling spirit warrior.  So if anyone tells you that the Lions can’t beat the 49ers, tell them to fuck off.

But there is a crucial difference between “can’t” and “might not”.  And we all have to do our part and learn to face the fact that, well, the Lions might not beat the 49ers on Sunday night.

I respect the 49ers.  I do.  I don’t particularly like them, but I respect them.  I know that sounds like heresy given the prevailing story line, which says I should be condemning them to hell because of handshakes or milkshakes or some kind of shakes, but all of that is just so much noise, idiot bleating traveling through the ether.  The truth is that the 49ers are a damn good football team and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that in my weaker moments I didn’t look at them and say to myself “Hey, that’s the sort of football team I want mine to look like.”

After all, the 49ers are a throwback team.  In a changed world where grace and delicate deer-like beauty are revered and given Special Protected Status by the office of Premier Goodell, the 49ers value smashing people in the heads until they fall down, their brains trickle out their earholes and the day is won in a haze of blood, sweat and spit.  Given everything I’ve written over the years it would be completely disingenuous of me to turn my back on that and say that I don’t respect it.  The 49ers play like devotees of The Spirit Warrior.  They worship the old gods and I have to respect that.  I have to.

But they are also the enemy, standing in the way of my own dreams.  I may respect those ways, but I am a devotee of one thing and one thing only in the world of professional football: the Detroit Lions.  And so fuck the San Francisco 49ers.  I hope they lose 72-0 and that Jim Harbaugh is overrun by a gang of sodomites and is forced to wear a special diaper for the rest of his life.  After all, Jim Harbaugh is a world class dick.  He is of my tribe and so it pains me to say this but it’s true.  He’s sort of like that dickhead uncle who’s successful but nobody likes him because he treats everyone else like shit and he laughs at the homeless and is always trying to put grandma in a home so he can get control of her house and sell it because he’s a greedy, selfish sociopath.  Yeah, that’s Jim Harbaugh.  He’s of my family but he’s a fucking asshole.  I can’t even imagine how awful he must be to my Spartan friends.  He must be doubly awful, like the goddamn devil or something.  I would have said “my Spartan and Buckeye friends” except there are no Buckeyes reading this.  For one thing, they would have to be literate, and second, fuck Ohio.  Anyway, fuck Jim Harbaugh.  This has nothing to do with handshakes or any of that dumb shit.  Just fuck him, okay?

That still doesn’t change the fact that he is an awesome football coach and that his team is really, really good and that they will probably win on Sunday night.

This morning I cut myself shaving.  It was a really nasty one too, the kind that didn’t just bleed a little but gushed and ran down my face.  I felt it as soon as it happened and I started bitching before the blood even showed up.  When it did, I just kept shaving, working my away around it while it ran down my face.  It was just above my upper lip and so it ran into my mouth.  It tasted like iron, insanity and truth and because I am a goddamn lunatic, I looked in the mirror and I smiled, blood in between my teeth and I felt like some sort of pagan, a primitive warrior with no regard for Fear or the Past or anything other than the primal power of the moment.  That is hilariously stupid and makes me look like a goddamn psychopath, but I’m making a point here (eventually) so just settle down.

I thought about that all day today and whenever I caught a glimpse of my reflection, I would see the scab.  Now, when something like that happens the tendency is to try to stop the bleeding – it’s natural and it’s civilized.  You get a piece of tissue paper and you press it against the wound and you hold it there until it quits bleeding.  But that is a false truth that gets no results.  The quickest way to get that damn thing to heal is actually to just let it bleed.  Let that fucker go and it will heal itself on its own quicker than if you try to control it.  It is the natural way of things.

When I returned home after a hard day herding mutant sheep in the Outer Territories and beating the shit out of shirkers and assholes who got rough with my women I returned to the scene of the crime, to the place where I bled out and smiled a bloody smile and I decided it was time for a new beginning, and so I cleansed myself of regret and bad energy by shaving my head.  And so now I have a garbage can filled with blood and a bag full of hair, which probably makes me look like some sort of serial killer but hey, fuck it, I don’t answer to the garbage man and really, he shouldn’t be rooting around in my trash anyway. 

The point is this: I’m sitting here writing this with a freshly shaved head and with an ugly scab on my face and I’m doing this because I symbolically chopped my hair off because I didn’t want to be ruled by the past and because when I cut myself I let it bleed, because I didn’t stand there with a tissue and try to control the wounds, thereby prolonging the agony.  I let it bleed because I knew that, eventually, it would heal itself.

I recognize that the last few paragraphs have made me look like a goddamn psychotic lunatic and you know what?  I’m fine with that.  Because I’m good with who I am.  That’s a lesson I think all Lions fans have to learn – be good with who we are.  We’re not the best team in the NFL but we’re damn sure capable of beating any team in the NFL.  We’re not going to win them all, but we’ll win enough of them to get back into the playoffs, where anything can happen.  We’re not the perfect team but we’re an explosive team, a wild, beautiful untamable stallion of a team and I, for one, would not trade that wild spirit for anything.  We don’t have a machine-like disciplined style, mistake free, that will monotonously pound The Truth into other team’s heads like the 49ers.  We do have a style that is capable of greatness, at any time, a style that eschews safety in favor of possibility and in that possibility is a freedom that speaks to my heart, that speaks to my soul as both a fan and as a man.  The Lions are not the 49ers.  The Lions are not anything other than themselves and what they are is good enough for me.  I can accept that and so should everyone else. 

Football is a strange game, strange and glorious and if the last few years have taught us anything it’s that anything can – and will – happen.  We’ve seen the Lions win in miraculous comebacks that have seen us collectively soar like rockstars playing thunderous music into the sun, and we’ve seen the Lions lose on absurd technicalities, had our hearts ripped out and stomped on by the words and deeds of various Pereirii.  We’ve cried and bitched and sworn at the heavens because St. Calvin was robbed of a touchdown, and most of all, we’ve stood in stunned agonized silence, watching the Packers chant “0-16!” before the final game of a terrible season, on a frozen field, while the sun went down on our hearts.  And yet, despite it all, despite the everything and the anything, we are still here and that’s because some part of us recognized, through the haze of it all, that everything would be okay, that Possibility was not something that could ever be quenched, could ever be killed, no matter how weird, wild or terrible it got.  We are still here because we let it bleed, we let it heal on its own without trying to control it.  And so if the Lions lose on Sunday night – and like I said, that’s where my head is leaning – then we’ll be okay.  We just have to remember to let it bleed.

Still, fuck the 49ers, I will see them in hell.


UpHere said...

I think you've done the brave, correct thing here. We should be happy the Niners are such perfect villains, the Kurgan to our Highlander. They are a nasty, brutal, machinelike thing, a worthy enemy. When Bowman stands in front of things, they stop and stay stopped, likely longer than the victim intended.

Their coach and RT and horrendous assholes richly deserving of the beatdown coming to them, but it won't be Sunday. We will plan and grow strong.

Neil said...

Yeah man, sometimes you just have to accept the moment for what it is and stop fighting it. This is an opportunity and if the Lions win, maaaaaan, I will freak out and party but if they lose, I will not overreact and be a despondent goof about it either. No, I won't. I won't. I won't? I won't. Well, maybe, but still, let us deal with reality instead of false candy-coated Fear-based delusions which will eventually betray us and leave us gibbering in pools of our own excrement.

Still, fuck the 49ers and go Lions.

Angus said...

Travis Bickle's first blogpost.

Anyway, I feel the Lions will probably win. Based on no expertise whatsoever, but the law of averages says it's about time for the 49ers to turn over the ball a few times.

Neil said...

I can respect that, especially since you prefaced it with "based on no expertise whatsoever" since most "experts" are assholes and idiots and I am all about respecting gut feelings since they are often messages sent from the other side. Or not. But who am I to squash a man's hope? You're a good man, Angus.

Also, yes, the Travis Bickle image flashed through my mind while I was writing this.

Raven Mack said...

The fact there will be a primetime Sunday night game featuring a pair of teams that still worship the old Gods makes me happy as fuck. We don't get games like this often. Usually it is shiny plastic crap. I wish that Madden would unretire for this game, Summeral too (is he dead?), and they'd kick Collinsuck and Al Michaels out for one week.

Anonymous said...

While I can appreciate the comments and acknowledge the possibility I think this team steps up and whips up on the niners, they are not gods just football players and on any given sunday ???? It's always too early to loose.

Raven Mack said...

Look, I love Neil like a brother, and respect you Lions fans and your struggles with all my heart and soul because it is a struggle I have known in my real life from birth. But I am going to tell you this: perhaps the frustration of Schwartz in regards to Harbaugh is because Harbaugh is the more proper leader of a team of wildlings like this Lions team. Perhaps your head coach has become your weak link, but you can't see it because of previous tenants of that position.

Marc said...

Very early in the season.

Maybe The Lions are not the best team, but neither are The 49r's.

I see alot of strengths vs. strengths in this match up. I'm expectin' a very physical game on both sides of the ball.

Lions win. If for no more than the fact they have shown the intestinal fortitude to rise to challenge. And that....says a great deal to me about how far this team has come.

We'll know this comin' Sunday.

Neil said...

Lord Anonymous,

Yeah, I can totally respect that. Like I said, the Lions can win, they might win and I will be beseeching the old gods that they do win. Will they, though? Fuck if I know. All I know is I'm excited to see it go down.

Neil said...


Man, I have considered this re: Schwartz but it is too terrible to think on and I cannot afford to do so lest I lapse into a psychotic football depression. Plus, he brought our tattered souls back from the brink and let us at least sniff at The Glory so I will continue to Believe like a good boy.

Neil said...


Yeah, again, the Lions CAN win, but the game is in San Francisco, the 49ers are riding high - and where I disagree with you is that I think they might damn well be the best team in the league - and while I think the Lions will fight like warrior poets in the end I must speak against the wishes of the congregation. Stone me if you must, but just know that I always cared for the greater good. Forgive them father for they know not . . . I've gotten a little carried away, haven't I?

Anyway, go Lions and fuck the 49ers. I'm just trying to be smart at the same time.

Raven Mack said...

Yeah that's probably best. And it could be worse. You could be saddled to the Shanahan Clan.

Marc said...

I can respect that Neil. I expect Candlestick to be a very rough go of a road game. And there has been somethin' about our young warrior with the cannon arm Stafford that has bothered me....he seems to start very slow....even shaky in more than a few games. Like he has the jitters or somethin' and needs time to settle in.

We can ill afford this against a team like the San Francisco. I'm bankin' on the Lions as a team bein' quasi focused and playin' with a huge fuckin' chip on their shoulders from last season home loss.

The 9er's are already talkin' mad shit doin' their best to take The Lions outta the game mentally....would I be cool if we simply smacked 'em in the mouth and knockin a few teeth out....? Yeah, I guess.

But leavin' with another W under our belt would be somethin' akin to nirvana.

I'm picturin' the hounds of hell *been watchin' too much Supernatural lately....* waitin' on the 49er's at the entrance to the locker rooms after the game....while Our Lions stand victorious with The Light glowin' all around them as they hold their swords to the high heavens....screamin' to the top of their lungs to the dismay of their fallen enemy....

*Ur a bad influence neil*


Neil said...

I would love - LOVE - if the Lions came out and just blitzkrieged those motherfuckers to hell. Just suffocate them and drown them in a pool of their own hubris and tears.

The closer we get to the actual game the more I want to beat those assholes. Maybe I should sacrifice a deer or something to the old gods to make this happen.

HillHeeb said...

Convinced Suh will fuck shit up. No basis for this, but I'm convinced.

Actually my basis is that he stopped Steven Jackson with one hand, imagine if he got two on Smith.

Neil said...

I love the optimism but it's a bit telling that every other post predicting glory for the Lions in this game starts with "I have no basis for this...", which, well, yeah, therein lies the problem.

Still, as a man who has spent a billion words inflaming the passions of the fanbase and inciting bloodlust and mayhem at every turn, I suppose I have no choice but to pick up a warhammer and get down with the sickness.

Bubbalouuey said...

What the hell has happened to Neil ? This is damn near sacreledge and could have got you burned at the stake. Not beat these bozo's ?? please try a different can of ether and some fresh mushrooms I'm not saying a total blow up but the niners days are numbered. Thats unless Sue is scared of having little snake on her back.

Bubbalouuey said...

My Basis for this is I'm a believer and shall stay the course

Bubbalouuey said...

I will remind you of this after the game LIONS win 31-21

Neil said...

Yes, yes, I hope you do get to throw this back in my face but if I just devolve into empty homerism I will have become a parody of myself and I will not let that happen. Well, not completely anyway.

Anonymous said...

Buckeye here. At least you got one. Great post as always.

Bubbalouuey said...

Neil a Homer ?? Never, Apostile, Priest, Witch Doctor, Sooth, Wizard, Warlock, Magican, Shaman, Our leader but not a homer.

Marc said...

Basis. Noe that I have taken the time to think on it....

San Fran is a good team. Take nothin' from 'em. But they rely just as heavily upon their pass rush as The Lions. The O line has done well keepin' Staff upright thus far....and even with an adequate runnin' game, The Lions simply have too many weapons to cover the 3 levels of the field for The 49r's to worry about.

Lions D. Another year to gel and another year within the same scheme with the same players. Now Fairly is 100%, W. Young is comin' into his own and I can't think of any team in The NFL with a deeper rotation on D Line. Our LB's may not be "stars" around the league, but they can cover screens and the intermediate routes as well as any other squad.

Our secondary doesn't seem to be the weakness every1 has worried it would be so far....

San Fran relies upon tough physical football. I have seen this team thru many games last season get down and dirty with the best of 'em....

So they added Moss. I still remember that game at Ford Field last season. Went toe to toe and it came down to the very last play with time just about gone....

All that bein' said....not that San Fran is hype....but I'm not buyin' they will beat The Lions or that they are some kinda fuckin' monumental assignment and we aren't in the same league.

Like I said earlier bro....I see more a matchup of strength vs. strength.

And somethin' tells me The Lions will be more than ready and execute on the field.