What with Social Media and everything, I’m making an effort to engage with our readership beyond just drinking with ski patrollers. Hence Feeder Readback, where readers give me feedback and I ignore it and talk about Marsupial Fruit Bats(1), Red Bull’s secret space shuttle(2), massage parlors(3), and scotch(4).
If you have comments or questions for the Jaded Local, local snowpack observations or helpful pointers, please contact POWDER Magazine using e-mail or whatever.
This edition of Jaded Feeder Readback concerns a recent Internet comment from “Petra” on the first installment of my women’s World Cup wrap-up series, Tight Haunches and Burly Launches, which was focused on the accomplishments of 2013 overall winner Tina Maze. Petra was peeved because I got the name of the President of Slovenia wrong and failed to pay keen enough tribute to Maze. She felt that I portrayed the Slovenian sensation as a superficial authoritarian (which is considerably more sophisticated than my thesis, which was that Maze is an independent badass with an endearing eccentric streak). Petra’s feedback and my point by point responses are below:
“And what’s your point? This must be the worst article ever about skiing. Tina actually recorded a video spot before last year’s ski season, not to celebrate it. With her amazing season, the point record makes her the best racer in history not just since Hermann Maier. Since you are portraying her as a superficial authoritarian, have you actually read her blog and thought about how thought-provoking and insightful her writings are (unlike this piece of S*#@), about sport, training and life? And since you probably can’t find Slovenia on the map, I would not expect you to know the name of the president. Maybe you should take this one down before another Slovenian finds it, and go write for Men’s Journal, with your bad writing style and bad humor. It’s embarrassing to POWDER.”
‘And what’s your point?’
Like all my work, that piece follows a post-modern strategy of generating meaning through meaninglessness, averting the signifier/signified relationship (and, one hopes, disrupting hierarchical paradigmatic modes of “knowing”) via discursive and deliberate deconstruction of narrative and form.
‘Tina actually recorded a video spot before last year’s ski season, not to celebrate it.’
I guess I was trying to suggest that she was celebrating the independence, empowerment, and self-actualization that would lead to her demolishing the World Cup, but your objection seems like a bit of a quibble here, Petra.
‘This must be the worst article ever about skiing.’
If you really want to punish my incompetence, please blow up your Facebook and Twitter and Instagram with a scathing critique and the link to the article, and make sure that everyone clicks on it and shares it with everyone they know. That’ll show me.
Anyway, this is far from the worst article ever about skiing. The worst article ever about skiing was written by John Fry of Ski Magazine, and it was about building his eco dream house in New Hampshire or something. The story was so self-indulgent and kooked-out that it actually destabilized the entire ski industry and may have lead to to the ’90s boom in snowboarding. Fry, not coincidentally, also invented NASTAR.
That said, did you happen to read Tight Haunches And Burly Launches II: The Wrath of Vonn. If not, read it and then hit me back…again, before you make up your mind.
With her amazing season, the point record makes her the best racer in history not just since Hermann Maier.
Sure, why not?(5) But really, a 2,000-word piece on the woman’s greatness and that’s not enough for you? Trust me, if I was in charge of POWDER, the cover of every issue would be Tina Maze shinning an old fashioned bamboo gate into smithereens in the golden morning sunshine while wearing nothing but a bandana and some tan lines. And even I think you might be getting a little obsessive about her.
‘Since you are portraying her as a superficial authoritarian, have you actually read her blog and thought about how thought provoking and insightful her writings are (unlike this piece of S*#@), about sport, training and life?’
Yes I have, but no matter how insightful, the personal musings of a Slovenian ski racer millionaire supermodel pop star are about as relevant to my life as those of a marsupial fruit bat(6).
That said, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Prince is on Twitter now. Which is also like a marsupial fruit bat, but a marsupial fruit bat on acid. His new backup band are women who look like Viking yoga midwives from The Road Warrior. That’s how Prince works. You’re thinking about making a sandwich, and he’s visualizing hipster valkyries downward-dogging in the flaming sands of a post-civilization dystopia as a go-to theme for his Portugal show.
However, if I was looking to become a Slovenian ski racer millionaire supermodel pop star (and I have to admit the thought may have crossed my mind… But, no, I can’t forsake my true calling to be a middle-aged ski bum who lives next to a trailer park and enjoys scotch), I would indeed drink deeply from the wisdom of Tina Maze’s blog, and also her Instagram, which I think tends to be a little more informal.
Although it’s all pretty much about doing squats or winning ski races and then doing photo shoots for chocolate advertisements while dressed like a magical alpine princess, or going to Secret Slovenian National Training Laboratories to spin on a stationary bicycle while hooked up to electrodes as Slovenian Sports Scientists take detailed notes followed by receiving an award from the President and then finishing the night singing onstage while inexplicably clad in leiderhosen before a pre-dawn Gulfstream flight to the Seychelles to swim with dolphins.
Which is cool, but it’s pretty standard stuff in women’s ski racing these days.
I mean, Lindsey Vonn is probably orbiting on a secret Red Bull space shuttle doing zero-G training and having pulsating green alien DNA implanted in her knee(7), and Swiss racer Lara Gut is rumored to have spent her off-season in Antarctica exploring underwater ice caverns, searching for a solution to global warming with a friendly leopard seal. Julia Mancuso practices orthodontics on children in war-torn Afghanistan, and I have heard from reliable sources that she has vast powers of telekinesis, which, if she does not maintain absolute and ever-vigilant self-control, could tear apart the very fabric of space and time itself.
So in between all that, Prince’s Twitter and marsupial fruit bats, I just don’t have enough time for all the amazingness that Tina Maze does, let alone her thought-provoking insights. Ski Journalism: There’s never enough hours in the day.
‘And since you probably can’t find Slovenia on the map, I would not expect you to know the name of the president.’
I’ve got Google Maps on my iPhone, Petra. For $70 a month, AT&T can goddamn well find Slovenia for me. And unless the President of Slovenia sleeps with Tina Maze or a marsupial fruit bat, his identity just isn’t very important to anyone who isn’t Slovenian, even somewhere as crucial as an American powder skiing magazine’s website. We’ve got more important stuff to think about, like boobs, and getting new tires for the pickup truck.
Sorry, I was just kidding around. Everybody in America knows that Slovenia borders Finland and Tajikistan and is the world’s leading producer of industrial lint and refined sulfur. And who could forget the winner of the Peloponnesian War?
That said, Petra (and also Puhar and Heuhi), you’re right. The President of Slovenia is indeed Borut Pahor. I’m not sure how I turned that into Orhan Borut, but I was drunk at that point and the only reason I had that part about him awarding Maze the Golden Order of Service in there at all was to make an awful joke about the time when I ordered the “golden service” at a massage parlor, which the editor mercifully cut. So, Slovenia: I’m sorry. You kind of took one for the team there. In the real world it’s a whole different story, but jokes about massage parlors rarely have a happy ending.
‘Maybe you should take this one down before another Slovenian finds it and go write for Men’s Journal, with your bad writing style and bad humor.’
I would write for them in a second. Are you kidding? Like how to get awesome abs and charticles about expensive watches? That would be so sweet. Until someone posts a snotty comment about how I don’t even know who the President of Slovenia is and my editor fires me for not staying abreast of Current Affairs. Then I’ll be reduced to freelancing fluff pieces for Marsupial Fruit Bat Quarterly (“Leathery wings caress the night air…”).
This is the United States of America, Petra. We are Proud To Be Stupid. It says so on the dollar bill. And no matter how many militant Slovenian patriots and ski racing fans criticize me on the Internet, I will exercise my sacred right, nay—duty—to be ignorant of everything that’s not on SportsCenter.
‘It’s embarrassing to POWDER.’
The one thing that I never worry about is embarrassing POWDER. Meet the founders of our proud publication, Dave and Jake Moe:
Long ago, Dave and Jake advanced beyond simplistic fun-limiting notions such as “shame” or “dignity”; for them, situations which you might find embarrassing or shameful constitute existential excellence. Which is why I’m taking that as a compliment.
Thank you for your feedback, Petra! Send us your address and we’ll send you cool stuff with POWDER logos on it or maybe a pair of goggles that are just lying around the office and are perfectly good, but kind of dorky somehow, which is why none of the editors are wearing them.
1. After writing this piece, I learned that there is no such thing and that while there are fruit bats, they are non-supial or whatever (“regular-ass”). On reflection, I think this makes the idea of a marsupial fruit bat more poignant as a metaphor for the unattainable.
2. Also does not exist, as far as we know. But would you even be surprised if they did have one?
3. And 4. Together they’re almost like the opposite of Red Bull: instead of getting amped up and laying it all on the line to do the ultimate cool shit, you’re just going to call it a day, drink old man liquor, and get a $35 shoulder rub/handjob.
5. Ingemar Stenmark? Does someone really have to be the greatest ever? God I hate sports stats. I’m just in it for the freak show. Who cares about the winner—I want to know who’s the weirdest.
6. See #1, above.
7. You know she would if she could. Lindsey Vonn would sell her eternal soul for two good knees and an injury-free race season, and she would ski with the feral madness of a hyena crazed by the stench of fresh blood. She would race every race and demand more. She would poach the Hahnekamm on race day with a fake beard and then roam the streets of Kitzbuhel at night, snarling and loping on all fours.