WAZ Awards 2021: Winner #1: Colin ‘The Swooshstika’ Kaepernick Gene
(April Fools take the bait)
On his way to pour another dram of single malt, Gene-Gene the Word Machine whispered into Al’s ear. They both looked sideways at Tim, who was looking the other way. Al spoke to Ira who laughed and said, “It’s audience participation time! We’ve got a dedication to a man made rich by slavery and who couldn’t honor that? To Colin Kaepernick, counting his money wherever he is.”
Al and Ira began to tap their feet and bounce their chins in time. They began to play.
‘da— da— pada da da da da’
Sure all of us in the shop know that song from those first chords like we know our nursery rhymes. Half of us had been in the coffee house when Buddy Tabor, the late, great Juneau singer-songwriter, played it in public for the very first time. We’d all been there that night in the Folk Festival, with hundreds of other people packed in like sardines, when he’d started his set with it. On the fifth chord the house went dark with no warning. All those people, all that dark, and Buddy never stopped playing. The crowd roared when the stage crew figured out how to get the lights back up, and Buddy said,
“Would I sound bitter if I said they’d burn in Hell? Don’t buy Nike.”
“Now Mr. Basketball Shoes owns a factory, in China and Vietnam,
where a 12-year-old girl works for nuthin’, he don’t give a damn.
Sixteen hours a day, seven days a week,
and when they break her malnourished body,
they just throw her out in the street.”
Uncle Tim raised his hand. “Ah, guys.”
They stopped playing. “Yes, Tim?”
“Not to put too fine a point on it, but that song’s about Nike. Nike you two; and who founded Nike, and ran it, and made $43.5 billion off it? Phil Knight—a white, honky. One of his slaves in Indonesia making $1.25 a day would have to work every day for 95 million years, and save every penny, to be as rich as him. So, if you’re dribbling bullshit about black racism…”
“A question, is it? It’s a fine question. An astute and reasonable query. Gentlemen, I propose a toast to a man who asks hard questions with easy answers. To our man Tim!”
“To Tim!” we shouted. And drained our glasses. Al and Ira began to play.
“And if the workers try to unionize and tell ‘em they protest,
Basketball Shoes calls the military, and they come out and make arrests.
Take the workers to the prisons, and there they’re left to rot,
bad food and dirty water, behind prison bars and locks.”
They stopped, Ira said, “Slaves, Tim. That’s the operative word. Twenty years ago, YOU dragged us all to see that Tibetan Lama who came to town. That ancient old man the Chinese kept chained to a sewing machine for 30 years, sewing shoes or whatever they told him to for Westerners, what was his name again?”
“Palden Gyatso.” Tim said.
Cosmo rubbed the stubble on his chin, “Yeah, man. Cultural annihilation, beatings, killings, sticking cattle prods in women. Bad times in the Land of the Snow Lion. Bad Karma for the Han Chinese…”
Gene nodded. “The Han occupy Tibet to this day. But it’s worse now. And it’s not just Tibet. They got more than a million Uyghur Muslims locked behind razor wire walls. Slaves forced to make over-priced clothes for the West. Over-priced basketball shoes the workers could never afford. What happens to their kids? Brain washing in Chinese orphanages. Learning to love Big Brother while the Chinese do DNA testing on prisoners. Ever hear of organ harvesting? Ever wonder why so many Westerners are going to China for organ transplants? Or how someone gets a donor next week in China when it takes months or years to find one in the US?”
They continued. We all sang along, even Tim couldn’t help tapping his foot.
“From the carpet mills in Pakistan,
to the sweat shops in Mexico!
‘This is the age of lawlessness,’
declares a CEO.”
Roy, who’d sworn up and down he was done with the WAZ awards after 2020. was getting sucked into this in spite of himself, he said, “After the Lama was done talking that college kid asked what we in the West could do to put a stop to it. And the interpreter put the question to him, and the old man, he didn’t say ‘Boycott’ or anything like that. He said…you remember?”
“I do.” Ira said. “He said, “I believe those clothes are made of sin.”
“That’s a fact.” Sonny said. “Made of sin. Ah went home and threw out every damn thing in my closet that was made in China. Never bought a damn thing from the sons of bitches ever since. Better anyway to buy American, or at least Canadian, even with that Socialist Troo-deau.”
“Good point.” Al affirmed. “To answer your question, Tim. White Phil Knight is 84-years-old. His race is run and when he dies the planet’s loss is Hell’s gain. But his slave empire will outlive him, exploiting millions of Asians [and Africans] until they die young, and semi-black Kapernik will be the lipstick on the pig, until they replace him with the next race hustler.”
“Yeah, he’s half white and he was adopted and raised by white parents.”
Sven Johansson raised his hand. “He got that half-white privilege then. Last year that rich black professor, Ibram what’s his name.”
“Kendi.” Gene said.
“Yah, him. Saying white couples adopt black kids as props. Seems like this guy Copernicus owes Kendi a punch in the nose.”
“You got that right.” Sonny nodded. “Somebody said that about my Momma and Daddy I’d hit ‘em so hard his clothes’d be out of style by the time he woke up.”
Sven had another question. “This guy Copernicus, how much money’s he got?”
“About $20 million.” Gene said. “Give or take.”
“It’s Kaepernick, Sven.” Tim said. “And $20 million, Gene? What are you talking about? How? He was banned from the NFL for taking a knee during the National Anthem for God’s sake.”
“How? From Nike, and other such like…Nike sold out a special edition of Kapernick jerseys online, for $150 a pop, in less than a minute. Tell me, what do you see when Kapernick takes a knee?”
Tim didn’t hesitate, “A BLACK man taking a stand against injustice!”
“Or taking a knee, as it were.” Gene said drily, “Myself, I see the most successful marketing campaign in history.”
“What’s on the front of his sock when every sports photographer in the stadium takes a picture of him on his knee? A Nike swoosh! Do you think kneeling-man sewed that sock himself? I don’t. Every squish-bag liberal thinks he sees a black man but subliminally what everyone sees—and it’s not by chance—is a Nike swoosh.
“Americans got a short memory.” Tony said. “I remember from decades ago Americans found out about all those Asian slaves living in squalor, huge rats and roaches, open sewers, toxic waste and smoke from the factories, going hungry even with mandatory overtime: making Nike’s. In this country, Americans still believe in human dignity, most of them. So there was a problem that could affect the bottom line. What was Mr. Basketball Shoes to do? Well, my friend, this was why God invented public relations companies.”
“And the public relations companies,” Gene affirmed. “solved their image problem with BLACK PEOPLE! Black influencers, especially black athletes, to sell shoes made by slaves. It’s brilliant! Black people used to be slaves in this country. Who’s going to call them out as cheerleaders for slavery? But there they are. Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, LeBron James, Serena Williams, Tiger Woods… Jesus! Tiger Woods with that Nike brand, and that’s what it is, a brand, a slave brand. Burned into your soul. hhhhssssst! Like it was burned onto his backside with a branding iron…him, James, the rest, those guys—millionaires, billionaires now, some of ‘em. Not just from Nike, either. And all they have to do is keep selling over priced clothes made by Asian slave kids in slums, to American ghetto kids.”
Tim pointed out that a lot of athletes donate to charity.
“Tell it to Uyghurs, or some kid with rickets in Indonesia. Anyhow, it’s not just players: NBA, NFL, Major League Baseball, College Teams, even high school teams, “Not to mention black singers, producers, actors…and yes, including the white guys, Tim, Yes I know, it’s even got into hockey for Christ’s sake where the only black thing on the rink is the puck. ” Gene said.
“Down south you hear about black kids killing each other for those sneakers.” Tony put in.
Cosmo shook his head, “Unlacing sneakers on a boy leaving his body for the Bardos. Still twitching. Still hearing.”
“Some reporter told Michael Jordan that was going on over thirty years ago. Said the big guy almost cried.”
“Cried all the way to the bank.” Tony said. “Marketing doesn’t get better than that, capiche? It’s like when people trample each other at Wal-Mart on Black Friday. ‘Look suckers, Wal-Mart’s got stuff so great people think it’s worth dying for, or killing for. Jordan’s worth $1.6 billion today.”
“’’Course the killing part is part of that whole ‘gangsta’ marketing. It’s all commodified.”
“That’s a no-shitter.” Sonny said. “Read somewhere’s about black teenagers writing out what sportswear they want to wear in their coffin if they get shot.”
“For me,” Jake said. “Nike’s why I don’t watch professional sports anymore. Sports isn’t like the old days when you had a beer with your buddies and watched Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers. Football was all about the game back then. Now the game’s an advertisement for the swoosh. Gives me the creeps. I look at it like some Jewish guys look at a Nazi swastika.”
Roy banged the work bench with a carpenter’s mallet. Everyone jumped. Then things went quiet. Into the quiet Roy set one of those unsurpassable that you can’t unhear,
“What Jake means,” Roy said, “is ‘The Swooshstika’.”
Al and Ira played on,
“Justice is a wheel, turns slow but it grinds fine,
my Momma said that wheel turns full circle in due time.”
Why pick on Colin Kaepernick?
At this point Tim asked the obvious question. “If Colin Kaepernick’s got twenty million, and I’m not convinced he does, but at the same time you’re telling me a lot of the others have hundreds of millions more than him, why are we talking about him?”
“Why?” Gene said. “Let me say it again. This isn’t a social justice campaign, it’s a marketing campaign. Kaepernick isn’t just getting rich off slavery and oppression for millions of the world’s poorest. He sells slavery and oppression. This guy is so out-there full of himself that just last year he made a special that compared NFL football hiring to a slave auction. Had bunch of black actors in chains with a white man selling them.”
“I didn’t know the whole NFL was black.” Sven said. “How much them guys make playing football?”
“Median is $860,000, Sven.”
“Uff da! Pretty good for slaves. More’n I made my first ten years fishing, plus I had to pay crew, keep the boat up, buy fuel and bait, ice and gear…”
“Colin says ‘What they don’t want you to understand is what’s being established is a power dynamic’ on the players, Sven.” Tim said.
Sonny almost spit out his drink. “Old Colin ain’t never been to boot camp, I guess. Them sons a bitches do want you to understand they got the power and they own your ass. You cain’t quit and you go down on one knee you’ll stay down there scrubbing the squad bay with your tooth brush and doing push-ups ‘till the gunny gits tarred. They don’t pay no $860,000 a year, neither.”
“And so,” Gene looked around mildy, “Given that getting rich off slavery of different ethnicities is considered racist in decent societies like ours, I say we revive the Woodshed Autonomous Zone Black Racist Hall of Fame for 2021! Let’s do ten more. Same rules: they have to be part of the power structure, have be rich, say a million dollars or more, and…they have to be racist. For racist number one I nominate Nike’s own Colin Kaepernick!”
“Is that Nike’s own, or Nike’s owned?” Sonny asked.
“Jesus H. Christ on wheels, Gene.” Roy groaned, “We put The WAZ Awards away three months ago on solstice. Why? Because we can spit into the wind about it forever, as a lot of people do in this country, and never get anywhere.” He raised his glass to the room. “Can I get an Amen?”
“Amen!” we shouted. “Hear, hear!” “Forget the WAZ!” “Let it go!”
Which should have been the end of it except Tim threw a turd in the punch bowl with, “Might as well, you guys have shot your wads. You couldn’t come up with ten more black racists. Even with Kaepernick as number one.”
Roy ratcheted his bushy beard back and forth, “Oh, No, Tim…Tell me you didn’t just say that.”
But it was too late.
Gene said, “We all heard it, Roy. Look, it’s April. We’ve got a couple weeks of easy living until it warms up to where we can plant and paint, get those greenhouses up and whatnot. What’ve we got to do? We all have enough firewood for the next three years at least. Hunting’s over. Fishing hasn’t started. I’ll do ‘Paul Revere’s Ride’ on the 18th but that’s about it. Gentlemen, if you can think of a multimillionaire; part of the power structure; black racist; who made a spectacle of him or her self in 2021, raise your hand.”
Everyone, except Tim (and including Roy to his obvious exasperation) raised his hand.
“A few weeks my foot.” Roy said.” “Ten weeks from now it’ll be middle of June if we do one a week. I guess I could go along if you promise promise, promise, promise, we’ll be done by summer solstice. And how about this?” Roy pointed at Al and Ira. “Since the minstrel boys are gung-ho, how about anyone with a candidate in mind tells these two who it is and we play charades with musical cues and guess who it is?”
That seemed good to us, as most things would have by that point. The night was long, the single malt short. It was time for to fish or cut bait as we say. Roy put forth the vote.
They asked me to write it all up again. What the hey. They pointed out I didn’t have to come up with a presentation and the speaker, by tradition, brought the food and drink so, ten good meals. I was in.
All that settled, Roy announced winner number one.
“Colin Kaepernick having been nominated this day…”
“it’s night.” Sonny said.
“…this night by us at Woodshed Nation, we being duly sworn and obliged by the ancient and honorable rites of wood working and small batch distilleries…”
“I wasn’t finished.” Roy said.
“Well hurry up, then.”
“Okay let’s vote. WAZ 2021 is a go. Colin Kapernick is nominated. All in favor say, ‘Aye.”
“Nay.” That was from Tim, but he wasn’t a very enthusiastic ‘Nay’ from where I sat.
They Aye’s have it.” Roy said. “With one against.” He raised his glass.
“On behalf of every Nike slave in the slums of Tangerang who can’t afford decent food, medicine, or education for their kids, for every Uyghur family torn apart in the dark, dystopian nightmare of Communist Xinjiang, for every black kid in America who has been or will be murdered for Nike sportswear bearing Colin Kaepernick-or other black athlete’s names, and promoted by same, we at this far flung, forgotten, and inconsequential corner of our great nation, give you—Colin Kaepernick— the WAZ you so richly deserve. Cash your checks on your way to Hell and give our regards to Phil Knight when you get there.”