Okay, so here’s a fun little story. When I was 12 years old, I was at my friend’s birthday party…it was one of the last ones I ever went to that was, you know, for kids. Birthday cake in the backyard, people bring presents, we play some three-on-three in the driveway.
Anyway, one kid arrives and tells us all:
“Hey did you guys hear this? Kurt Cobain is dead. He killed himself.”
Know what we did? We laughed about it and made jokes. We were a few years too young to realize what Cobain meant.
Know what happened next? One or two years later, we were all wearing Kurt Cobain memorial shirts. Myself included. Like a bunch of f*cking sheep, we all bought into the martyrdom of a depressed junkie. Our messiah was a guy who told us that life sucks, so why bother? Screw that. My parents at least got John Lennon.
Point is, I f*cking hate it when someone becomes a martyr, because it’s bull. Yeah, Cobain was talented – but if he hadn’t blown his brains out, no one would have cared about him now. He would have become an obscure, if not still somewhat successful, footnote – like Eddie Vedder.
If Jesus Christ did his thing in 2002, we’d disregard him the same way we disregard Jonestown and Waco as just some nut who thinks he’s the son of God.
I repeat: Martyrdom is manipulative, self-serving bullsh*t.
Wakefield? Yeah, he was talented. But you know what? He wasn’t nearly as good as people think he was. I’ll tell you what, though; when you take a guy who has a cult following and remove him, it just makes his legend grow and grow, especially when the disappearance is so sudden. That could have just as easily been Eric Taylor or Flores if they have quit. F*ck that; you know who should be regarded higher than Wakefield? Rob Hahn. Say what you want about his character, but he was the first real Magic strategy writer. What about Frank Kusumoto? He did more to change the face of Magic and help the community than a Wakefield or a Rizzo ever will. He put twenty hours a week into The Dojo while balancing a real job.
Too bad we couldn’t nail the Sensei up on a big wooden cross, huh?
F*ck this martyrdom sh*t. It’s pointless, and it’s not healthy for anyone. You want to increase site traffic? Sure. But don’t force feed me this bull about how we should all be more like Rizzo and feel bad for him because we did something horrible.
I can understand where you’re coming from… But to be honest, I don’t want Rizzo clones, or Wakefield clones. They are not the cornerstones, or martyrs, or saviors of this community. How much has Magic grown because of a Wakefield article? Has anyone ever bought more cards because of one of his articles? Maybe. On the other hand, how many cards has a Kai Budde or Jon Finkel sold? The allure of achieving real success helps the community. It’s simple math: they are successful, people want to follow their example, they PTQ hard and buy lots of cards, which generates revenue, which keeps Magic afloat.
Sadly, as much as the Pro Tour-hating section of the community may not agree, Finkel and Budde contribute plenty to the community, simply by winning. That is significant when you talk about”helping out.” Want to know what doesn’t really help? Stories about how you walked your f*cking dogs before the tournament and how great it is to have your parents live next door so your dad can help you chop down a tree.
You either want to be a writer or you don’t; it’s not a hard thing to figure out. All I’ve ever wanted is a job I can enjoy, because I think the ultimate tragedy of our society is that life is too short, and most of it is spent in a cubicle doing things we’d rather not be doing. For me, a job I could really enjoy was either being a guitarist in a punk rock band, being a commentator or storyline writer for a wrestling company, or writing about Magic. Luckily, I got one of them.
When I work sixteen-hour days at a Pro Tour, I’m happy the whole way though. I remember finishing up San Diego on a Sunday night, and having a flight back to New York early the next morning, so I stayed up all night big box drafting with Bleiweiss, Forsythe, Rosewater, and anyone else we could get. On the way to the taxi to go to the hotel, Alex Shvartsman and Ben were just about ready to collapse, I said,”Hey I know I worked about twelve hours today, but even though I’ve been up all night I think I could work another eight hours if I had to.”
“…shut up, Toby.”
The point is, I write about Magic because I genuinely enjoy it. If I won the lottery tomorrow, I’d still work those sixteen hour days, and I’d be happy the whole way through.
Except maybe during a David Humpherys untimed Masters match. Those are brutal.
I enjoy writing. Other people don’t. You can crucify all the bald headed 2-5 PTQ players you want, and you won’t change that.
If people want to write they will, and if they don’t want to, they’ll watch the f*cking Simpsons.