Tuesday, March 11, 2008

At the Kobe Bryant Museum

In case you were too busy watching spring training to notice, today was national “blog good things about Kobe day,” initiated by Hardwood Paroxysm. This is my contribution (sincere apologies to Donald Barthelme):

We went to the Kobe Bryant Museum and wept; more than any other museum, the Kobe Bryant Museum induces weeping—the statistics proving this are kept in a little white-note book, in the breast pocket of the director’s shirt, and he takes them out, almost apologetically, so that people will feel less alone in their tears and uses them to argue for increased federal funding. The holdings of the Kobe Bryant Museum consist principally of three hundred thousand pictures of Kobe Bryant.

In the foyer of the Kobe Bryant Museum is a seventeen foot-tall picture of the Infant Bryant, having recently slain two snakes that snuck into his crib. To the Infant Bryant the snakes are merely unexpected playthings. In a caption, the snakes are identified as Mambas. The booties on the feet of the Infant Bryant are Nikes.

The Kobe Bryant museum is made from a translucent polymer that was designed specifically for the building. The polymer was dropped off by forty technicians, who came on a boat from Japan, all wearing throwback Lakers jerseys. The Museum rises from the ground at a 60 degree angle; to stand in any of the sharply angled rooms gives one a sense of standing on a precipice. The architects relate this to the majesticness of Kobe Bryant’s jump shot.

In the basement of the Kobe Bryant Museum carpenters uncrated new pictures of Kobe Bryant. The huge crates stenciled FRAGILE in red ink…

The guards at the Kobe Bryant Museum carry buckets in which there are stacks of clean white pocket handkerchiefs. Even brief exposure to one of Kobe’s game winning shots, or a passing glimpse of devastating drive to the lane, may induce weeping. In a room replaying highlights from the 2002 championship, people stand in the flickering glow of the tubelight and weep.

Those who are caught by Kobe’s eyes, in the various publicity stills, room after room, are not unaffected by the experience. It is like, people say, committing a small crime and being discovered at it by your father, who stands in four doorways, looking at you.

On a plaque: “Kobe Bryant’s wife Vanessa was the only person in the world to ever own a Lamborghini Murciélago with an automatic transmission.”

Standing in front of a podium a man with a sad, sonorous voice explains: “rotated a mere ninety degrees in either direction the number eight becomes the symbol for infinity. Set beside the number one, the singular, the individual, the phallus, the subjective- we are presented with the image of all things, encapsulated in one instant. This is a theme that will reappear throughout the work of Bryant.”

People started at tiny pictures of A-I, LeBron and Shaq. These and other small pictures hung alongside extremely large pictures of Kobe Bryant.

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