Free Darko goes dark.
April 11, 2011 4:24 PM   Subscribe

Free Darko calls it quits. Contributors to the irreverent basketball writing site that Brian Philips describes as "a vintage record shop that radiation turned into a grad student" talk about what Free Darko meant to them. Also, an interview with Free Darko writer and illustrator Bethlehem Shoals and Jacob Weinstein.
posted by AceRock (19 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I didn't always agree with Bethlehem's take on things, but Free Darko taught me a great deal about basketball.
posted by drezdn at 4:27 PM on April 11, 2011

Wow I just discovered this blog. I will miss it. I kind of wanted to buy the books after seeing them in the store.
posted by Dick Laurent is Dead at 4:36 PM on April 11, 2011

Aw, bummer. It did seem like it was going that way, though. Anybody who likes them: their two published books are excellent too, the second one much more substantive than the first.
posted by penduluum at 4:54 PM on April 11, 2011

Aw, I hadn't checked it recently and I'll definitely miss it. Haven't read the 2nd book yet but probably wore a freedarko tshirt to every NBA game I've attended. I'm sure BC will go on to other greatnesses.
posted by klapaucius at 6:06 PM on April 11, 2011

Bethlehem Shoals, that is
posted by klapaucius at 6:06 PM on April 11, 2011

Free Darko was the whole reason I got back into following pro hoops. I'm really going to miss them.
posted by KingEdRa at 6:37 PM on April 11, 2011

So, what, Donnie will remain behind bars forever now?
posted by kcds at 8:00 PM on April 11, 2011

I'm definitely bummed about this - one of the few blogs that spoke of the intricacies of the game, against the grain of a cliched sportswriting industry. Sure, sometimes the writing was trite and overwrought, but FD gave fresh breath to the artistry of basketball, and helped me realize that I wasn't watching for the same reasons as everyone else.
posted by antonymous at 8:59 PM on April 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was talking about this with a friend today, and he pointed out how the anti-establishment sports blogs that I used to love are pretty much gone. FreeDarko is dead now, Fire Joe Morgan has been dead for years at this point, Deadspin has turned into something else and isn't really readable anymore, KSK is barely puttering along, and plenty of others are either explicitly or de facto defunct. Bill Simmons, I suppose, is still cranking out new material, but I never loved him like I loved FreeDarko, and he seems completely imprisoned by his schtick anymore, probably never to return to readability.

It's a little sad, and it certainly feels like the end of an era. I can still find Leitch and Shoals to read -- hell, Ken Tremendous was just on Joe Posnanski's podcast -- but that whole weird little scene has been completely absorbed by and dispersed into the larger blogs and media sites. The guys I liked back in 2006 still have interesting things to say, it's just a little harder to find them than it once was, and it feels like there's a little less of a community.

Reading back over that, I feel like one of those insufferable people who won't shut up about how the alternative music scene was ruined back in 1993, and I do want to emphasize that I honestly do think it's great that alternative sports blogging has started to hit the mainstream. There is no reason why people should have to put up with Tim McCarver and Rick Reilly on their TVs and in their newspapers, and the diaspora of young, talented people like Shoals to more mainstream outlets is a phenomenal development. I guess what I'm feeling is more like wistful nostalgia rather than sadness or outrage. Like Will Leitch said in his bit for the farewell post, "Darko's Mood Is Currently: Legend."
posted by Copronymus at 9:57 PM on April 11, 2011 [5 favorites]

posted by robcorr at 10:18 PM on April 11, 2011

Hopefully they will continue to write books because their books are utterly incredible.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:11 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

God Damn It. You've just officially ruined my day. Aside from really enjoying the blog, FD was directly responsible for getting me hooked on The Wire, and, which was made even more addictive through the Heaven and Here blog. I'll miss them, though it is good to see that Shoals has managed to springboard into more steadily paying work.

I guess I'll always have my almanac and my Stephen Jackson for Mayor (I Make Love To Pressure) t-shirt.
posted by Ghidorah at 1:26 AM on April 12, 2011

For the uninitiated, this post, discussing this commercial, and the comment section below, is one of their finer moments. It's probably also why I took so long to pony up the $5 here, but commented there regularly.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:44 AM on April 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

What about the Wizznutz? Last I checked their site was covered in cobwebs. Damn shame, they were so funny.

The Free Darko book (Macrophenomenological blah blah) is beautiful, hilarious, and worth reading even if you're not into basketball. (I'm not)
posted by jcruelty at 6:52 AM on April 12, 2011

Copronymus nailed it. I still go back and read Fire Joe Morgan. I have never admitted that to anybody; the replay value of blogs is typically not very high. But I miss it so much.

I'll miss FreeDarko like that too. The only sports blog out there that I know of that still regularly hits that place of really smart, hilarious writing and an obvious love/hate of the sport they cover is Every Day Should Be Saturday (college football). And as much as I love it there (and I'm sorry to say it, Orson), EDSBS isn't quite what it used to be, either.
posted by penduluum at 12:31 PM on April 12, 2011

I was talking about this with a friend today, and he pointed out how the anti-establishment sports blogs that I used to love are pretty much gone. ... It's a little sad, and it certainly feels like the end of an era.

IANAE, but Free Darko seemed to employ a schtick (exaggerated academic writing and humorous beanplating) that was bound not to last. I occasionaly enjoyed it, but it seemed like a one-trick pony, to some extent. Either you like the little group and in-jokes, or you didn't.

Thanks, Ghidorah. I was going to ask for some "best of" suggestions, so I could re-assess ...

... yeah, not for me. I don't like Bill Simmons either.

I'm hoping the age of "good sportswriters writing about sports" comes back. Enough human-interest stories and analysis of commercials or The O.C (or all those inside jokes). Write about the games.

I guess I like pomo-style criticism when it comes to literature and art, but not sports. (And I've always considered sports to be performance art. I'll have to think about that one ...) The sports-as-mythology concept totally rubs me the wrong way. As do the writers that take sports way too seriously (for me). A little of both here, imo.

I still go back and read Fire Joe Morgan.

I have done so too, but it seems like a different beast. Much more specific in its criticism of poor sports writing/journalism. Who doesn't like taking cracks at bad sports announcers/reporters? I dunno. I found it much funnier than Free Darko.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:06 PM on April 12, 2011

Hey, you know what just blew my fucking mind?

I didn't know that Ken Tremendous (of FJM) was Michael Schur of The Office (Mose Schrute) and Parks and Rec.

It does make sense that the guy was a pro. I guess I know what he's doing now ... ^_^
posted by mrgrimm at 3:12 PM on April 12, 2011

Hey, you know what just blew my fucking mind?

To blow your mind further: The logos after the end credits to Parks & Recreation for the production companies and whatnot include a Fremulon shoutout.
posted by Copronymus at 8:54 AM on April 13, 2011

Dr. LIC is friends with my wife on Facebook which is probably why he has no time for Free Darko. That is all.
posted by srboisvert at 9:55 AM on April 13, 2011

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