don’t care what the others might say


Pubs and clubs and opening hours

Was all he knew

One arm bandits and Affiliated Members

Women taboo

– “The Affiliated”, XTC (as the Dukes of Stratosphear)

I always thought XTC’s song The Affiliated perfectly captures – in a poetic, tangential sort of way – the essence of brotherhood, in all its grandeur, peculiarity, silliness and power. I’ve been a member of some pretty intense brotherhoods, most notably in college, when I delved into the “secret” brotherhood of Chi Psi, replete with handshakes, mantras and hidden rooms in an old brick mansion that you couldn’t find even if you had the blueprint.

There is meaningfulness in belonging; it’s not for everybody, but when you allow yourself to discard the usual snark and sarcasm that accompanies the “fraternity” concept and concentrate on this one band of hyper-smart geeks and boisterous intellectuals, our Lodge was not about bagging chicks and being elitist fuckwads, it was about having a band of brothers who would not abandon you.

Had his own tankard

And the evening Standard

And a trophy from darts

That he kept over the bar

He’d nothing to fear,

He had his beer

As with anything other people take seriously, it was jaw-droppingly easy to belittle. The mere act of “rush” pushes these institutions into dealbreaker territory for most sensitive folks, and I would have been fervently anti-frat had it not been for a few chance conversations with some of the most brilliant minds I’d ever met. As it was, I fully understood the act of being in a fraternity – no matter how liberal, color-blind, or gentlemanly we may have been – to be disturbingly elitist and/or twee for a lot of people.

That was fine. I fully supported their viewpoint. Likewise, if someone in the Lodge thought it was stupid, I was all for them getting the fuck out. If you’re going to be involved in something inherently tribal and slightly irrational, you had better be in for a penny and a pound, or else you’re just a pot-stirring dick.

Then came her, through the blur

Then came she, made him see

He saw the light before he’d finished his pint

She saved him from the biggest crime in life

(They hated her.)

I bring this up because I just returned from another brotherhood, the cadre of folks who follow Carolina basketball, a group that has carried a torch for an idea that began in 1910. I flew from Los Angeles to NYC this morning, as it was Lucy’s spring break and we had planned this trip months ago. Yet a brisk tailwind brought us here in less than four hours, and I was in time to see the Elite 8 tournament game in Newark.

We lost just like every other NCAA tournament game I’ve ever attended (Tessa won’t even let me go to the Final Four, after witnessing three defeats in ’98, ’00 and ’08) but I truly love this team, and why? Because they have bought into the idea of brotherhood. They understand that they are custodians of a higher concept, unlike last year, when it was all mean-spirited bullshit and “woe is me, me, me” poison.

This year, we had to jettison one more player who looked upon our merrie bande of brothers with disdain and no sense of rigor. Yes, liking a basketball team – or even believing a college sport represents something bigger than the game – is a discipline considered utterly lame by many of you, and I totally get it. But if you’re in it with us, GET IN IT WITH US, and these boys did.

So thank you to our team, our brother and sisterhood, for letting us feel a part of something again, and coming so close to the promised land after a year of dragging through scrubland desert. I thought I had lost my sense of belonging, but you brought it back as exuberantly and as insanely as ever.

They said you’ll never ever see him again

Got a mortgage ’round his neck

And eight screaming kids

But his seat’s always here

If he wants it.


0 thoughts on “don’t care what the others might say

  1. CET3

    Ian, thanks for once again putting into words what I so deeply feel but can’t express nearly as well. It was a beautiful thing to watch this team come together and play basketball the Carolina way. I just love this team. Couldn’t be more proud to have them represent our school.
    With only one scholarship player out of eligibility (Knox) we might just get the chance to see them next year too. Zeller, Henson and Barnes each have a chance to go to the NBA. I will respect whatever they decide, but it sure would be sweet to see them stay. Could be like the 2008 team coming up short in the final four, Tyler, Ty and Wayne coming back, then going out on top in 2009. A boy can dream…

  2. FreshPaul

    I still can’t get over the overwhelming notion that the frat boy is among the most objectionable band of white people that I have experienced.
    That being said, I always held the Lodge in special respect as being an exception to all of that in many positive ways; however, it was the exception that proves the rule.
    I love the heart this Heels team showed ever since the GT game; I just wish, for once in my life, that a UNC team could/would guard the infernal three point line.

  3. jersey

    I was in the building. Tough loss, though not as brutal as the Georgetown meltdown. Why does Kendall take that shot? Why?

  4. GFWD

    Kendall was driving to the hoop strong, where two of the three possible outcomes were good for us: a foul or a basket. Unfortunately, UK caused the third probability.
    I loved our band of brothers.

  5. Terri Stroud

    This may very well be my most favorite team ever …
    “For weeks, Williams had been telling them about the “swiftness and suddenness” with which a season could end. Now they were feeling it. That’s a feeling you never want but you must have. What we loved about this team was the unselfish way they played Carolina Basketball the way we most fondly remembered it. Now, they had another link to that history. James Worthy felt this way in 1981. Eric Montross in 1991. Sean May in 2004. Tyler Hansbrough in 2008. At that exact moment, it felt like it would never go away. Soon enough, it was washed away by confetti.” – Adam Lucas
    I can’t WAIT until next year …

  6. adrienneg

    As always, beautifully written, and I am a Duke fan. Y’all are going to be really tough next year if there’s an NBA lockout and no one goes. I’m kinda hoping for one, so we’ll get a chance to see Kyrie Irving in full swing for the whole season. But I would love it if Barnes, Zeller, and/or Henson are gone next year. :-) At any rate, it’ll be good to have the ACC back to normal next year. Maybe VT will finally get into the tournament.


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