Bryan Joiner

Why then I

Category: new york

New York and Paris

I had been planning to write about New York for this post, but it is Paris at the top of my mind, and it’s hard to access the mental space that talks about building cities and representing the on film when you see familiar ones being ripped apart before your eyes. What is sure to be lost on us is that the terrorists usually fail in the long run, provided the events are recognizable one-offs — Paris will remain Paris just as New York remained New York before it, and Paris remained Paris before that, and so on. Just as the stories of old New York so often evoke the stories of today’s New York, the stories of old Paris will continue to evoke the Paris of the present and future.

I was here to talk about New York, though, and how it is portrayed on television, mostly through three current shows that I think capture what has been called the three fundamental experiences of New York in important and distinct ways. The three experiences of New York are the ones I read on one of those ‘Poetry in Motion’ placards I saw on the subway about a decade ago, despite the fact it isn’t poetry, per se, and it’s the one by E.B. White from ‘Here is New York’ that flatters Brooklyn washashores like myself:

There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter–the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these trembling cities the greatest is the last–the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is this third city that accounts for New York’s high strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements.

I’m pretty sure that’s the second-best quote about New York of which I know. Until recently, it was the best, but the new king is fresh and mostly notable for who’s saying it and where he’s saying it, and for the fact it’s perfect. It’s Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, on the city he fought to play in:

If you’d rather skip the video, the nut is this: “New York is the greatest city on the planet, I think” he says. “But you’re not a New Yorker if you don’t wake up some days and be like ‘man, fuck this place.'”

Nothing in the world has ever been truer than that, except that people probably hate living in Paris from time to time as well, and that’s the rub: the places people bother to hate are generally the ones they love even more. If no single number instance of terror can shake the feeling, it’s because that small bit of extra love makes all the difference. You compound it over and over, and nothing can rip it apart.


Occupy Wall Street

Guy Fawkes masks for infants. You want to talk money? That’s where the money is. Spools of it. But no, down at Occupy Wall Street, the masks are only for the grownups. Discrimination! The babies have to be content with signs:

Aidan on the sleeping/protesting multitask tip

Oh yes, the blogger visited OWS this weekend. I came away impressed. First off, for a bunch of people packed into a space no larger than an indoor soccer field, they’ve had a pretty monstrous effect on the world. Second, for all the critics who have attacked their “organization” or lack thereof, they seem to be, if anything, overly organized: donate here, press requests here, drum circle over here. About that drum circle: laugh and stereotype all you want and you’re certainly within your rights. It is a freaking drum circle. But. The OWSters have been at it for six weeks now. They’re not watching TV. They’re not listening to the radio. They need something to keep them going. You have your iPod. They have drums.

The biggest surprise, to me, was how entrenched the whole thing was. People are straight-up living there, and while we’re at it, kudos to the owners of the park for not booting them, which they could do (SPORTS REFERENCE AHEAD) faster than the Patriots could give up a 40-yard touchdown. It really is a little society down there, an alternately angry and happy, but uniformly smelly, one.

Again: so what? While OWS isn’t quick to identify itself with Democrats, they’d be wise to do it. They could make the Democratic party into a one-issue party a la the GOP w/r/t taxes, or Kenan Thompson on SNL: Fix it. We don’t care how. Fix this nonsense. Here are our votes. Work to actually fix things, and the votes will keep coming.

There are, to be sure, people at OWS who feel betrayed by the Democrats and have no intention of doing this. Nor is that sentiment limited to OWS, as this Harlem church sign subtly indicates:

We have both types of speech: love and truth

That happened. And it’s happening all over the country. Obama’s taking it on the chin for something that is a lot bigger than just him. He wasn’t, the thinking goes, the one we were waiting for.

But he never was supposed to be. Maybe it was just an inspired flourish of campaign rhetoric, but “we” were the ones we were waiting for. We were supposed to be the difference. Electing Obama wasn’t the cure-all, but a first step. We spent way too much time being proud of ourselves and not enough time giving him the help that he needs. The system is screwed up, but there’s one way to change it: occupy voting booths. It’s what the GOP does best. If people can live through the winter in an outdoor park in New York City—and I fully expect them to do just that—you and I can make our way to the polls to continue to vote for change. It’s not rocket science. Let’s not make it out to be. The babies would laugh at us behind their little masks. That would be kind of creepy, actually.

Costumes and Clockwork

A broken clock is, famously, right twice per day. Similarly, if I forget that I live in NEW YORK CITY during my commute, on the weekend, even when I see people peeing in public on the regs, there will be a couple things each day that remind me of what happens when this many people are crunched into this small of a space.

Take Eddie V. Eddie V. is a sales associate at a local Halloween store, which I visited for work today. I had some questions about Halloween trends, and he was eager to answer them. His brother, after all, owned the entire company, so I came to the right person! (I was told.) I asked him how to spell his name, and he told me. At the same time, he reached for his business card. Not uncommon when people want to make sure their names are spelled correctly, and his last name is alphabet runoff. Only the business card didn’t have his last name:

I DO work in Chelsea. Everyone here has their hustle, and I begrudge no one for trying, so I just kept asking about costumes, and he kept answering. (I didn’t see the web address until after, besides.)

Anyhow, did I know that his brother was second in line at the company for CEO? I hadn’t, because I had just been told he WAS CEO, but I didn’t mention it. I just asked whether he expected the store to get busier over the next week. He said that he did, but that he wouldn’t be there tomorrow or Thursday because his father had died yesterday and him and his brother had to attend the funeral. Makeup was a really big seller too, he added.

I thanked him for his time, offered my condolences, and walked away, and he seemed upset. He really liked talking about costumes.

The Stadium

Nick Swisher comes out to bat to music by Daft Punk, which is a shockingly good choice for a baseball player. I’m tempted to like him, and I’m not alone. He’s a second-generation Major League Baseball player who’s as comfortable in the madhouse of Yankee Stadium as he is anywhere else on the planet. He might even be most comfortable here, which is why he’s decided to turn his at-bats into a mini-dance party instead of trying to burnish one’s New York credentials, as the forever insecure Alex Rodriguez does by coming out to a Jay-Z song. In the pre-game introductions, Swisher gives a shout-out to his fans in right field when he’s done declaring his name and number. He has a mohawk that’s actually kind of endearing. Yes, I’m tempted to like Nick Swisher, right up until the point that I remember I was born in Boston and am therefore not allowed to do so.

I had not been to the new Yankee Stadium before last night. Call it an overkill on the old one. In 2002, fresh to the city, I made a friend who was also a Red Sox fan, and who liked coming to the local Red Sox/Yankees games with an obsessive/compulsive twist: he liked going to all of them or none at all. For three years, we chose “all.” It wasn’t overdoing it. It was hilariously overdoing it. I insisted on wearing a Red Sox hat to every game, because what are new New York transplants if not masochists? I took abuse, but not as much as you’d think, given that we almost always sat in the bleachers. The once untouched-by-justice area of the stadium had recently become a dry section, which meant its constituency had the strange effect of getting more sober as the rest of the park got more drunk. This led to more group chants of “ASS-HOLE!” in my direction, where everyone had to only participate a little bit, and fewer one-on-one run-ins with drunk, belligerent, unstable people, which is where the real damage happens. That never came to pass, and though I generally kept to myself, I probably deserved it at least once.

The year 2005 was as good a stopping point as any; the Red Sox had finally won the World Series, and I was experiencing a long bout of unemployment. When I finally got a job, I wasn’t eager to pour what little scratch I had into the Yankees’ pockets; the moment had passed. I tried sitting the bleachers a couple times for old times’ sake, and was just miserable. I had paid many dues in my life in New York, and I no longer felt the need to prove my true grit fandom at the ballpark. I would rather spend a little bit more on a seat and get to drink a nine dollar beer from time to time. I wanted to live the good life at the stadium, and was willing to pay the price for it.

When the new Yankee Stadium was built, though, it served as a natural inflection point to think about my relationship to the team and, more specifically, my relationship to money and baseball. I decided to stay away, influenced by the fact that my friend, the same one I went to so many games with, was frog-marched out of the Stadium in 2008 for trying to pee during God Bless America and told by police to “leave this country” if he didn’t love it, an experience which landed him on all manner of local news broadcasts and even The Colbert Report after he filed suit against the team for violating his first amendment rights. (He won, and the Yankees paid his legal fees and agreed to drop any policy restricting movement during the seventh inning stretch.) Curiously, by this point his compulsion had grown to the point where he was a full-season ticket holder during the whole ordeal, and he invited me to games when he had a spare, but our ballpark relationship had run its course. The problem was that I didn’t have any ballpark relationships to anyone else that transcended Shea Stadium and the old Yankee Stadium. Most of my friends are Mets fans, and cheap. Visiting the new Stadium never came up.

Then, on Wednesday, it did. My friend Nate asked a small group if we’d like to go to yesterday’s game against the Rangers. I pulled out my trusty Chart of Excuses and Deflections, and couldn’t find anything that matched up. I was in. I was kind of excited. I would be going back to Yankee Stadium.

Here were my observations from a chilly night in the Bronx: despite knowing where the new Stadium was, I kept looking for it on the site of the old one; you can actually get a beer for $6 now, albeit one that would be called “child” size in any other context; and if you weren’t paying attention, you wouldn’t be constantly aware by watching the game that you weren’t, in fact, in the old park. We watched Yankees second-year pitcher Ivan Nova struggle for a few innings while young Rangers lefty Matt Harrison, pitching without sleeves, went eight innings and gave up one home run, aided by the most effective double-play inducing night by a left-hander in the history of baseball (well, at least since 1974, when they started tracking this stat). He got six double plays. We saw history, for now at least. That’s the beauty of baseball. You never fucking know.

Toward the end of the game, no one cared about that. The Yankees mounted a comeback effort against Rangers closer Neftali Feliz, and it brought the life out of one guy in my section, who rushed toward the lowest seats to to start a “Let’s Go Yankees!” chant, and happened to do so right next to me. Between every pitch, he’d turn to either side of the aisle and yell, “Say it LOUD! And say it PROUD!” and then the chorus kicked in. I was reminded, as I often am in this city, of Frank Lucas/Denzel Washington’s observation in American Gangster: the loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room. I said as much to my friends, within earshot of the guy, who would have heard me if not for his loud pride.

But I’m not criticizing him. Yes, Yankee Stadium is loud and overpriced and cloyingly obnoxious with its YMCA-dancing groundskeepers and patriotic bullshit. (I peed during the seventh inning stretch, per my right.) What I took for granted before is how into it everyone is, for baseball. It’s life or death every night, and everyone is rooting, loudly, for life, as if their yelling alone can and does make it happen. Despite the inevitability of death, especially in baseball, the Yankees keep winning, so the fans keep showing up and believing they make it happen. The Yankees win more and more, so they get louder and louder. When people cheat death, even through spending tons of money, we say it’s their right. We don’t say the same about the Yankees. They’ll probably get it in the end. But what if they never do? Don’t we have to learn to live with it? Isn’t that what those $6 beers are for?

What I read and wrote this summer

Not pictured: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Motherless Brooklyn

Those of you who have followed the WordPress site, and the fewer of you who have followed the Tumblr site, know that I’ve written many, many things over the past few years. The one thing I’ve been bad at is bringing them together in any sort of cohesive way, and I’m going to change that. This is a list of everything I’ve read and written this summer as defined by Memorial Day through Labor Day, because that’s how I’m defining it. I’ll start with the books I’ve read, in the order in which I finished them:

As you can see, I spent a lot of time in the classics, new and old. I picked up Kavalier & Clay because it was one of those books I hadn’t read but every friend of mine had read and liked. Oscar Wao was the same deal, and I actually put a copy of it down at the bookstore to pick up K & C, only to have a friend lend me a copy later in the summer. I had never read Moby-Dick, despite growing up on Martha’s Vineyard: mistake. Somehow I hadn’t read Of Mice and Men, either. Ben got me hooked on David Mitchell, first on his new one—the first half of which probably changed my writing style forever—and later, Cloud Atlas, which I finished yesterday to meet the unofficial deadline for writing this post.

You can probably see the progression from Moby-Dick to Heart of Darkness to Things Fall Apart, or at least the second part of it. Hitchens I picked up because I’ve seen several interviews with him since he fell ill, and realized that I’ve been delinquent. I wasn’t disappointed. Are We Winning? was a review copy based on the interview I did for Leitch’s last book, though I have yet to write any sort of review. I tore through Motherless Brooklyn in less than 24 hours on M.V., during which time I also managed to sleep for eight hours and paint two ceilings. It helps that it mostly takes place within three blocks of my Brooklyn home. Finally, I was iffy on A Visit from the Good Squad until a single paragraph mid-book ratcheted the awesome up to 11 and it didn’t stop until it was over. Highly recommended, especially if you like music.

What I’ve written

I spent the majority of the summer writing imaginary conversations, which I enjoyed immensely. I really liked fitting all the dialogue together, which I had never tried before. It was a little exhausting, though, which is why my production plummeted in August.

  • Sports
  • Baseball busts the barometer; a mistake shows how big the game has become (WordPress)
  • Dwyane Wade and LeBron James (WordPress)
  • LeBron, the Knicks, the Nets, and the red pill (WordPress)
  • If I was LeBron James (WordPress)
  • Chris Bosh, -$28 million man; David Stern, superstar (WordPress)
  • If everyone always did the safest or most popular thing, the world would be a shitty place (WordPress)
  • A few more LeBron thoughts (WordPress)
  • Oosthuizen (Tumblr)
  • “Superteams” (Tumblr)
  • A-Rod at 599 (Tumblr)
  • David Tyree and David Patten (Tumblr)
  • Pet Peeve (Tumblr)
  • Mad Men Recaps
  • Episode 1: Betty’s Alive. Yay? (Tumblr)
  • Episode 2: Enough Foreplay (Tumblr)
  • Episode 3: “You know what’s going on here? Handjobs!” (Tumblr)
  • Episode 4: I’m the asshole (Tumblr)
  • Episode 6: The cure for the common Mad Men season (Tumblr)
  • Humor
  • We’ve changed our name to SeaStreak Martha’s Vineyard (WordPress)

It is my intent to “drop,” so to speak, a post about the 2010 Patriots on Thursday morning. We’ll see how it goes.

LeBron, the Knicks, the Nets, and the Red Pill

The only thing Chris needs more than a glass of water is a working Internet connection. He doesn’t even need a minute to think this over. Say the word, chart the King’s path for New Jersey, and he’s ready to make the switch. After years of frustration in the best of times and something beyond despair in the worst of them, he’s looking at the Knicks and he feels nothing at all. The Church of Anthony Mason has been destroyed. For the first time, he sees this:

Starting tomorrow, Chris will be clicking between two websites: Twitter, which is sure to break news of LeBron James’ eventual destination faster than any other site, and the New Jersey Nets’ official website. The season tickets page, to be exact. If LeBron jumps, so will he, and that will be the end of it.

It’s hard for me to say how much Chris loved the Knicks growing up; I didn’t know him until eight years ago, when the team was already corkscrewing to the bottom of a terrible conference. The Nets were ascendant then, but that made no difference to him. The Knicks were bad, but to him and many others, still: StarksMasonEwingEwingEwing, and FUCK Charles Smith, but not as much as Michael Jordan, no player as much as Michael Jordan, not then or not ever, but Jimmy Dolan on the other hand…

He watched and waited and watched and waited, and good God, he watched. He watched the Knicks on television, compulsively. He was an addict in search of that first, glorious high, creepingly aware that it was never coming back but digging in his heels—and his butt into his couch—anyway. The definition of addiction, and the definition of insanity. Still, they were his Knicks, and nothing could change that…

Until 2004, Chris was a Yankees fan. The A-Rod trade turned him off to the team altogether, and he swiftly made the switch to the Mets. To this day, I’ve never heard any echoes of his joy at 1996 or subsequent titles. Maybe he keeps them to himself, but his love for the Yankees seems dead, a small fire snuffed out by a Category 5 hurricane.

For the Knicks, Hurricane Isiah finally started pushing people to the brink. Not Chris. He kept watching. StarksMasonEwingEwingEwing. FUCK Charles… eh, I guess he’s no Isiah. And FUCK Michael… eh, why bother? Chris didn’t let go of his grip completely, he just loosened it, but the storm kept coming.

Now the Nets are definitely coming to Brooklyn, where Chris grew up, and the Knicks, having ostensibly planned for this offseason for three years, look as clueless as they did when they started. Not only that, Chris is convinced that LeBron is signing with the Nets. He is convinced that LeBron’s mind has long been made up to come to New York, but that he, like Chris, sees a team that died 10 years ago. The fire still burned for Chris, surviving every Category 5 hurricane James Dolan threw at him, but why would it for LeBron?

There is, technically, no Category 6 hurricane. That’s what James would be. He’s already a prototype of something we haven’t seen before. Category 6. Category number 6. For Chris, he’s the hope to extinguish the smoldering wreckage of what was and will always be his favorite era in any sport, ever. Starks, the little engine that did. Mason, the man on whom he has modeled a not-insignificant part of his life (Chris’ love for Mase is pathological, admirable, scary). Ewing, the original spark of hope. Ewing, the key to it all. Ewing, the symbol of all that could have been, a monument to the past.

If the storm comes, it’ll fill thousands of glasses of water. The blue pills keep fans looking backward. The red pill pushes them forward—”the only direction”—and that’s why Chris has chosen it. But he’s no longer looking to the sky for his water to wash it down. He’s already taken it and, that’s why for the first time in a decade, he’s ready to enjoy whatever comes next.


Object in motion

In the northeast corner of the country, we have salty, wet, wooden America. The ocean. Evergreens. Boats. Lobsters for those who can afford them. The Red Sox. Islands big and small.

In the southwest corner, we have dry, air conditioned America. Cactii. Immigration laws. The Suns. Pizzeria Bianco. Those little misting devices outside of restaurants to keep you from becoming a sun-dried tomato.

In the last two weeks, I have bounced between and around these two Americas (John Edwards whut) like a pinball, but instead of leaving my normal trail of destruction, I’m actually cleaning up messes. I’ve left every place better than I’ve found it, in the maintenance I’ve done on my childhood home (Massachusetts), the paint I’ve slapped on my brother’s new home (Phoenix), or the economic stimulus I’ve provided to the U.S. economy (Las Vegas).

I returned to my apartment for more than 12 hours for the first time on Sunday night, fresh off the superlatively beautiful boat ride back from M.V. I was anxious. I had a leaky faucet, a stack of recyclables that have been long ignored, and a cluttered apartment setup. After all the arranging and rearranging I had done, did I have to live this way?

Of course I didn’t. Last night, I took upon the task of gutting my apartment. Bookshelf: gone. Books: in the closet for now. Trash: deposited. Bicycle: headed to Craigslist, or West Tisbury. Guitar I never learned to play or really cared to: eat me. Dresser: justify your existence, or go home.

This all sounds like boilerplate stuff, but there’s an underlying issue.

In performing maintenance on my childhood home, I’ve brushed up against the memories of some of its fellow former occupants. Okay, “brushed up” is the most delicate way of putting it. I have, with only a slight intention, jabbed at them completely and violently, like hundreds of razor-sharp needles. This has been difficult for some people, even if I’m striving to remind them that their memories are, if not the first thing on my mind (and they could be), darn close to it.

What it comes down to is the power of things, and how those things come to define us. Of course, it’s completely up to us how we let that happen, and there is no right or wrong way. There are differing philosophies, but other people could give a hoot about my philosophy. Their way works for them. That I initially tried to argue my way out of this shows a gap in my understanding that has been rectified, if not forgiven, by the people it bothered. I believe my grand plan for that house is 99% of what everyone else’s grand plan is, but it’s the 1% that’s important in this case.

So returning home (to New York this time), to a place that’s 100% my vision… it’s too grand an opportunity to pass it up. The thing is, I wouldn’t be able to do it had I not done it in Massachusetts or Phoenix. I learn by doing, watching, tinkering. In the end and in the future, my grand projects will be limited to what’s mine unless explicitly directed otherwise. Some people don’t even trust me anymore. That’s something I’ll have to live with. I suppose we all do.

The most beautiful sight in New York

The return ticket on the admirably named SeaStreak Martha’s Vineyard costs something on the order of $100 one-way. It’s worth it for the city approach alone. First, you’re hugging Long Island, with a house or two visible in the formless coastline on your left. Then the houses and terrain get bigger, more pronounced and then WHAP—there’s Connecticut on your right, beginning the gradual process of pinching you toward Manhattan, which is still invisible for about 20 minutes as the features on both sides of you grow and grow and grow. The sun is also setting to your right, its reflection off the water pointing back at you in white, then yellow, then gold, then orange, then blood orange and finally red before, in an instant, vanishing completely.

And then you see it.

Straight ahead of you, a small row of rectangular gray shapes on the horizon that takes up no more than one-twentieth of your visual panorama. But make no mistake: you’re headed right for it. You get closer and closer and it still doesn’t seem to grow but the houses on your left do, to the point you realize you’re looking at mansions, and look at all the sailboats in the water now here at dusk, and there’s “West Egg” and now “East Egg” and as the lights turn on in the June 20th night, you look for a green one, and you continue…

The lights are popping on in front of you now and suddenly the gray shapes are bigger, less rigidly rectangular and they are not all visible. You approach the Throgs Neck and Whitestone Bridges, sailing underneath both of them against an amazing pinkblue sky. (You text your friend below and implore him to take in the views). Immediately after the Whitestone, the boat slows down, as if slammed in the face by the idea of New York, but really just because you’re in a no wake zone from here on out. The breeze is still defined, but it’s no longer relentless. It alternates hot and cool, and you have no idea—as you pass LaGuardia Airport now, under the belly of a plane—how it happens, but it’s great. After LaGuardia, there’s Riker’s Island, and you have the only view of it you ever want.

You hang a left after Riker’s, and the city is no longer in front of you: It’s vertically materializing on your right. As you face it down just beyond Astoria, you see the railroad bridge imposed upon the Triboro imposed upon the skyline. It might be the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen. And then Astoria Park passes on your left and you’re past it, and now there’s nothing between you and Manhattan and the FDR on your right and suddenly this isn’t New York but Hong Kong: A megalopolis on the water effectively using its waterways not just for function but for wonder and awe. You watch the streets pass as the sky darkens and the lights get brighter and brighter, reds and greens and the blue of the Empire State Building, which is no longer just the building you work near. It’s the symbol of a city you are, at long last, able to see with new eyes.

As it builds to a crescendo you hear a voice behind you. “Bryan, are you getting off?” Pulled from your—my—trance, I nod and head below, ready to enter the belly of the beast.

New eyes

I wanted to write a blog post on the bus today, but I didn’t know how I was going to post it, and then I got SOCKED in the face by reality, where my $74 bus ticket (up from $66, like, yesterday) includes free wireless internet. Pith in motion! Note to U.S. Airways: get on this. Though I actually kind of liked the, you know, conversation I had in its absence yesterday.

So uh yeah. The Blind Side is on. I would watch this! But there’s no sound. And I read the book.

This was my second toe-touch in Brooklyn in the last two weeks. Twelve hours and gone. The first was MVY–>NY–>The Desert. This one is the return trip. I figured that if I didn’t get out of NY at the earliest opportunity I would be stuck here. And when I typed “JFK” into the self check-in yesterday, I felt nauseated. Having tasted Not New York, I’m eager to drink it down in copious amounts. Having seen other places with new eyes, especially Phoenix, I’m eager to do the same with New York.

But I can’t. When I came back in last night, it hurt my eyes to look. It was like being forced to watch TV when you’ve been at it for 12 hours. I needed, and need a break. I need to come back with new eyes. I need to see new and exciting things to do, or at least not grow anxious by looking at the old ones. I believe, in the parlance of our times, that I need a vacation. I need to get away.

So now I’m back on the bus, traversing the same stretch of I-95 that this guy, an O’Donnell and many a Smadbeck has owned over the last decade. I used to take pride in knowing the exits by heart. Now I take pride in only caring about my destination. I’ve been told that “place” is important to me, and I believe it. I used to the think the places along the way were the story, but they’re not. As I’ve begun renovating my childhood home, I have a much better idea of what a place means when you put your own sweat into it, and the gratification of seeing your own vision come to life. Having been away for so long, it was easy to see “home” with new eyes, and set about doing what had to be done.

My apartment in Brooklyn has been another story. I’ve tried to put it together without a real vision, and have done it piecemeal and half-assed. With new eyes, all of that might change.

Conan on TBS

In retrospect, this makes sense. Everyone assumed the FOX thing was alive because it seemed like it should be, but mainly based on some very early, pre-financial assessment anonymous quotes. The other ideas, like a show for the web or bumping the Comedy Central dudes (which was never real talk) were never really substantive, and where does that leave us? Here. TBS has been trying to push itself as funny for a long time, and now they’ve put money behind it.

I think the real reason people are surprised or upset is that this seems to be a letdown for the Conan-as-martyr crowd, who wanted him to raise keep raising hell on the back of the NBC fiasco. But at some point you need to turn the page, and he’s done that today. In fact, I would say it’s smart not to let this play out longer than necessary, before the focus gets put on why Conan was forced out in the first place, and that becomes the narrative. With the tour starting today, everything is in place for him to succeed on some level from here on out. He was never going to beat Letterman or Leno in the ratings, so it seems foolish to sit back and wait for an opportunity for that to happen.

Plus, anything that pushes George Lopez later is fine with me.

Also: We’re number four! Take that, Nate.