October 12, 2006

Because Mets fans don't know the meaning of the words "too soon"

Since my friend Todd Seavey doesn't have a blog (or at least not the right kind of blog), I'm taking the liberty of posting here an e-mail he sent around yesterday:

As some of you know, I live on York Ave. in Manhattan just six blocks north of the spot where Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle's plane crashed, so I feel I ought to say something to make sense of it all: Remember, tragic though this evening's events were, if we let them distract us from the normal business of America -- working, playing, worrying about terrorism, loving, learning -- then the Yankees will have won.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


The Deadspin and Gawker comments sections are full of such jokes. I contributed my own here.

Only a stupid insensitive asshole would make light of this terrible accident.

I too am a diehard Mets fans (So much so that I remember Cory's major league debut with the Mets in '97). My heart sank when I heard about this tragedy and I prayed for his family. We live in a cynical age where it seems everything is fair gain for humor--but that does not mean we all have to particiapte.

Met fan or not, the person who wrote that email is a major league asshole. It is that simple.

Interesting. My take is that only a sanctimonious prick would pretend that death is so sacrosanct that it can't be sullied by gallows humor.

See, I think Todd's comments are funny, Charles's are inappropriate (and I know and like both these fine gentlemen). So, I guess some humor is ok, other humor (like joking about how it should've been Arod) not so much.

Without an economy of affect we would be sad subjects indeed. While "economy" in this sense usually means "controlled scarcity" I think it could be helpful to consider its transactive component as well. We know that for many transactions valuation is time-dependent, stocks and dairy products for instance. It would seem so for some in humor as well. Yet since the increasing rapidity of communications engendered by the technical revolution of recent decades has spawned a frenzied dash for temporal primacy in the world of jokes (Frist!) it is more and more likely that certain market segments will be prematurely exposed to humorous content that, with the passage of more time, they would otherwise laugh at. The ensuing discursive rupture, the sudden sense of being violently thrust into the mode "behind the times," when one is still trying to grasp those very moments (now seen only dorsally), can cause a panic response of indignation which seeks to justify itself, a parcel of symptoms that could be categorized as "Affectual Incontinence." This can result in a situation so out of joint that someone overheard last week guffawing heartily at a Thurmon Munson joke at the Taco Bananas on Sepulveda will today be reduced to the level of a Yale graduate by the offending material.

Or as we say in English: Come on!

I heard the first JFK Jr. joke withing an hour of his death (I was actually watching the clock, given my friends, and it was the first celebutragedy of the net era as I knew it) -- "Did you hear? When the plane hit, his head snapped back and to the left." -- so it's not like we are so innocent.

But if you are going to do gallows humor right, you sometimes need a leavening from external sources. For my money, the best was the Deadspin commenter:

"Too bad A-Rod wasn't flying the plane; he wouldn't have hit anything".

I think when things are funny they are easily forgiven. I like the Janks and hate airplane crashes but I love Todd's joke. The less funny stuff seems in bad taste. Perhaps everything in nature favors the beautiful.

As long as we're all thumbsucking here, I'd add that Todd's joke doesn't offend (most people) because it's not really about the crash or Lidle at all.

This is not funny. If we don't go about our lives the Yankees lose? C'mon. A couple of men are dead in a plane crash and you make some glib Yankee crack? Not trying to be a stick-in-the-mud but that seems in poor taste.

Well, no, it's not funny if you say "then the Yankees lose." Like most jokes, the key to the humor is getting the punchline right. And fewer than 10 deaths.

i heard Lidle got traded to the Angels yesterday.

I think the joke is brilliant. Also (re al in la's commment), the phrase is "fair game", not "fair gain".

Look, I can understand this whole thing producing strong feelings in the town that suffered most during 9/11, especially since we didn't immediately know whether this week's crash was terror-related. As _Reason_ magazine publisher Mike Alissi has said, when he first heard about this week's plane crash, he feared a second strike, until he found out it was a Yankee's pitcher.

Now THAT'S funny.

Looked like it was high and inside.

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