Speaking of sending up David Brooks, consider which is the more trenchant social commentary - his, So when you go to a game at Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park you will see lawyers, waiters and skinheads sending off enough testosterone vapors to menace the ozone layer. If a Martian came down and landed in the stands of a Yankees-Red Sox game, he would get the impression that human beings are 90 percent men and 10 percent women in tight T-shirts, and that we reproduce by loathing in groups. It's interesting, for example, to turn and watch Yankee and Red Sox fans as they watch a game. As the game goes on, they almost never display pleasure, contentment or joy. Instead, during the game they experience long periods of contempt interrupted by short bursts of vindication. ...We know that our region is not the future. Every year, people move out of the Northeast to Scottsdale and other places where it is considered fashionable to coordinate your toenail polish with the color scheme of your Lexus. Those of us who are left here know we will never be happy. If God had meant for us to be happy, he would have had us born in Aspen. We know that every year the political center of gravity in this country moves farther south and west, because most voters do not appreciate the importance of sarcasm when selecting their leaders... or hers? On the other hand, if our Martian visitor were to venture outside the stadium, he might quickly deduce that your average Manhattan waiter is far more likely to be an extra in "Hairspray" than a Yankees fan or Red Sox hater. He might also, with the barest minimum of effort, learn that "skinhead"--far from being a lead occupational category in the Statistical Abstract's Northeast regional profile--is an ideal-type whose flesh-and-blood incarnations are far more common in Brooks's cherished West and Southwest. Our extraterrestrial buddy might even intuit that neither waiters nor skinheads typically have enough disposal cash at hand to score postseason Yankee tickets, and might well marvel at the fathomless condescension of someone who flies across the country to attend such a function only to ascribe the worst prole reflexes to the assembled fans in whose company he is so befuddled to be. The space traveler would be further confused to find that in a key incident --one that our social thinker fails entirely to mention -- a part-time groundskeeper (and junior high special needs teacher) voicing objectionable fan sentiments was evidently whaled upon, cleats and all, by a pair of allegedly professional relief pitchers. ...he'd stumble across the curious tidbit that Red Sox pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim, whom Brooks singles out for special scorn because he apparently took his civility cues from the Fenway rabble and recently flipped the bird to booing fans, was until this season in the employ of the Arizona Diamondbacks, in that faraway land of stress-free pleasure. His curiosity roused, our enterprising Martian might further learn that those selfsame Diamondbacks were forced to release a pitching prospect this year when the young man drew a gun on his wife and attempted to strangle her when she was found too slow in responding to his urgent request for more beer. Say what you will, a promptly delivered brewski is a surefire stress-reliever! ...Never mind, I guess, that Brooks has managed simultaneously to cast the Red State masses in the role of slavish high-end consumer droids and impressionable, endlessly manipulable rubes. We know when we're supposed to act hurt, so we'll retire to our snide, malevolent, resentful corner of the deindustrializing Northeast. Why detain the great pulse-taker as he descries, in a baseball contest, the very stuff of our identity and national destiny? Odds are, after all, that he has a plane to catch.


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