Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Clothes Make the Man Money

For sheer grossness, weather has little to equal a real hot, humid day in midtown Manhattan. It was over 90 with air composed of equal parts moisture, hydrocarbons and dirt particles last Friday, so the swarms of tourists were dressed for comfort and decidedly not style.

I was therefore not taken aback when a spied an early teenage boy sporting an NBA replica jersey at the Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection. Van Gogh, Matisse and Jasper Johns had nothing against staying cool or trying to look cool, after all.

Nor was I too surprised that the kid sported a Warriors jersey. He might've been from the Bay Area. He might have been from the Upper East Side. It's a frontrunner's universe, baby.

But I was not prepared for what I saw as I got a little closer to the kid. He wore jersey number 35, and the name atop the number was, of course, Durant.

Kevin Durant himself hasn't put on the real thing yet, and won't for another couple of months. Yet I'd guess the busy beavers at the NBA merchandise department have had those things on sale since about six seconds after Durant announced he was joining Golden State in early July. I can't say how well they're selling, but I know they've put points on the board.

That kid, avidly taking in great works of Western civilization, stood at the epicenter of SportsWorld 2016. He was engaging in ADVANCE frontrunning, the anticipation of rooting for an invincible juggernaut (if he was just a fan of Durant the player, he could've bought a replica Team USA jersey during the Olympics). And he was also proof positive that sports themselves now exist as a wholly owned subsidiary of a particularly weird branch of the men's clothing industry. It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you move the merch.

It was crowded at the MOMA, it always is, so I soon lost sight of the boy and his jersey. I stopped thinking about him altogether. But about an hour later, walking down Sixth Avenue back to my hotel, I was struck by another, more horrible thought.

Which village in El Salvador, Senegal or Somalia has all its male children now wearing replica Kevin Durant Celtics jerseys?


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