Sunday, July 13, 2008

Good-bye, hello, Sonics

The Northwest is and has been many things over the decades since being discovered by Lewis & Clark.

In the 1960s, it was more known for aerospace than anything else, or so we liked to project.

In 1967, our professional basketball team was named the Seattle SuperSonics. They have a number of special places in my heart. I remember sitting around with my parents and listening to Sonics games on the radio. My brother was born in April of 1979, just prior to the magic world championship playoffs.

I've largely given up on basketball. There's a quality that it more even than other sports, although all professional sports suffer increasingly from this syndrome, of being a game exclusively for mutants rather than "If you work really hard, son, you, too, could be a..." Sherman Alexie refers to it in The Penultimate Sonics Death Watch column, although to him it's part of the appeal.

That's fine. As it stood, I was never going to be a season ticket holder or whatever else it took to keep an NBA team in Seattle, but I still feel some part of my soul has been stolen and taken off to some other part of the country.

As I understand it, the name stays, so we'll be spared the indignity that New Orleans has had for the last 30 years, of having their former team's name splattered all over the sport's section with the name of the single least logical place to associate with it.

Someday, the city tells us, we may even get a new team and restore the name and legacy. We'll see.

I did want to say, however, that despite not having watched a game in quite some time, I feel more than a little wistful.

Of course, then there is The Return of The Sonics.

No, not basketball, silly!

Tacoma's own The Sonics, the single greatest Rock & Roll combo to come out of this part of the country. They've apparently been reunited a while, but this Halloween will be their first Seattle show in 35 years.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, well, first, shame on you!

But second, go pick up Here are the Sonics!!! or Boom. It doesn't matter which, because they're both awesome and should both make you want to buy the other.

Unless, of course, you suck!

They're also well represented on the first Nuggets box set, the second disk of which may be my single favorite collected group of songs on disk... which isn't me chickening you back from going for the full load... or overload of Sonic power you get from listening to the actual original albums.

They're always labelled as garage rock, which is hardly inaccurate, but says only a small amount about their crazy and brilliant raw power, blue-eyed soul, blues rock, power combo sound.

Here's a sample from one of their reunion shows. The quality of the sound and video is lousy... perhaps as it should be.


Jonathan Lapper said...

The Utah Jazz definitely take the cake for ridiculous team name (why no one thought to change it I don't know) but don't forget Minnesota, the land of a thousand lakes, which aptly named its team the Lakers and then the team moved to Los Angeles, better known as the desert, and... uh... kept the name.

Marty McKee said...

I agree--The Sonics kick ass. And, of course, "Psycho" made it into one of the great contemporary horror films: HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER.

Neil Sarver said...

Jonathan, yes, there are a bunch of silly names out there frankly, but Utah Jazz may be impossible to beat. Frankly, I think making a rule forcing a change would make sense, even if it did, in a handful of cases, make for unnecessary changes.

Marty, yes, Henry is great. Despite their relative obscurity, I'm surprised that The Sonics don't sneak into more movies. They have an evocative sound and quite a few songs with quirky lyrics that would likewise compliment things.

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