Sunday, August 29, 2004



it is 10:00 on a sunday morning. i can hear my neighbor above me walking around her apartment in her bare feet. her steps are more forceful than morning's first, tentative, reluctant steps. she's been up awhile, thinking of and preparing for the day's activities.

i think that my neighbor is young and beautiful. there is one such woman in my building and i was in an elevator, diffused with her perfume, with her one time and when i got off on my floor she continued riding it up. but i am on the 4th floor of an 8-story building. i remember my high school french teacher imagining the beautiful woman behind the beautiful voice on the radio and the woman turning out to be kate smith.

so i prefer my imagination.

i imagine my neighbor still wearing her night clothes, panties and a little tee shirt. women are so wonderful. so charming, so fascinating. the most charming and fascinating of them are those that have little awareness of the effect on men of their unselfconscious actions.

were i able to observe my neighbor now, i would be aroused by the flesh and the undress but also, really, my soul would be touched and my curiosity enlivened by her grace, her lack of self-awareness, her charm--in all, by the allure and mystery of her femininity.

i hear different footfalls from my neighbor on saturday nights. her soft bare-foot step is transformed into the familiar click-clack of high heels. i hear the outer metal screen security door on her apartment shutting behind her and i hear her footfalls no more.

-benjamin harris

Monday, August 23, 2004

speaking of underdogs...

CONGRATULATIONS to erika ebbel for winning the miss massachusetts title. ms. ebbel will compete in the miss america pageant in september.

why an underdog? ms. ebbel just graduated from mit. yes, MIT, as in the massachusetts institute of technology, where you're as likely to find a miss america contestant as in the women's jail.

-benjamin harris

Wednesday, August 04, 2004



about a year ago the annoying-voiced npr sports commentator frank deford did a piece in which he professed his favoritism of "second" universities, those institutions that are forever damned to live in the shadow of their larger "university of" brethren and which are identified as second-rate in academics, sports performance and fan support by their "state" suffix. thus mississippi state to the university of mississippi, and so on.

the "state" label is not always fail-proof in identifying "second" universities, ohio state and penn state being the preeminent examples. but more often than not it is.

deford's point struck home with me, an inveterate supporter of the underdog. i am after all one who, while floundering about for a soccer team to support after my mls favorite went under, latched onto none other than manchester city, the east end rival to one of the most famous and most wealthy soccer clubs in the world, manchester united.

the psychology behind such volitional masochism i leave to another day, but widespread it undeniably is to support the underdog in competition.

and so, carrying deford's standard forward into battle, i hereby offer this list of underdogs that i, and i urge all readers of this page to, pledge undying loyalty to, especially when they play the hoi-poloi "universities of..."

in random order they are:

1. WASHINGTON STATE. the apple bowl trophy belongs in pullman.

2. OREGON STATE. their nickname is the beavers.

3. MISSISSIPPI STATE. one of my favorites. a real cow college whose fans ring real cow-bells. upon winning the egg bowl their black players should be allowed to take liberties with the southern belle cheerleaders of "ole miss."

4. IOWA STATE. i really like iowa. the hawkeyes, a long downtrodden program revived by hayden fry but the cyclones are clearly second-fiddle in the state and their uniforms are like something out of the xfl.

5. MICHIGAN STATE. nick saben left because he said he didn't want to continually beat his head against a wall recruiting against a "university of..." u.m. has the big house, a real grass field, a glorious fight song and great helmets. m.s.u's dominant color is green and their helments are adorned with a white "S."

6. UTAH STATE. hell, these guys are THIRD-class citizens in the land of 10,000 virgins behind b.y.u. and the university of. what the hell's their nickname, the utes? or is that the university of?

7. FRESNO STATE. when u.s.c. deigned to play the bulldogs in some third tier bowl a few years ago, their fans carried signs saying "my maid went to fresno state." postscript: the maids beat the trojans.

8. NEW MEXICO STATE. same thing as with utah state. are they the lobos or is that the university of? it is this kind of anonymity that makes for a true underdog.

9. IDAHO STATE. in a small state, like new mexico, utah, mississippi, or idaho, it must be particularly punishing to go to the state school.

10. KANSAS STATE. the only controversial choice on this list. bill snyder transformed this worst-program-in-the-history-of-college-tackle-football into a perrenial powerhouse topped off by last year's quinella of wins over nebraska and then, shockingly, oklahoma in the big 12, sorry big XII, championship game.

further, the university of SUCKS in tackle football. almost always has. never mind. underdogs can win sometimes and it's said that recruiting a blue-chipper to go to manhattan, kansas is as hard as it gets.

u.k. has got one of the storied basketball programs in the sport, james naismith, and they get the best and the brightest of the state. "rock-chalk jayhawk!" stick it in your ear.

11. NORTH CAROLINA STATE. this is almost the identical situation as in michigan with u.m. and m.s.u. u.n.c. has got cool powder blue unis and the greatest facilities that tobacco road's drug money can buy. n.c. state's got red helmets with and "S" on them.

12. EAST CAROLINA. like the station occupied by utah state, the pirates are third fiddle in the state, have a terrible academic reputation and hideous purple and gold uniforms. GO PIRATES!

13. UTEP. they have inherited the mantle of worst program in history since kansas state's resurrection. they are every team's choice for homecoming opponent. but, when they were texas western, they knocked off adolph rupp's kentucky wildcats to win the national championship in basketball. did it with an all black team against all white u.k.

14. OKLAHOMA STATE. the 'boys have had flirtations with greatness. thurman thomas, barry sanders. but they are continually outrecruited and blasted by their betters in norman. last year their coach said before the big game, "there's going to be a great football team and a very good football team playing on saturday and we're going to find out which is which. " o.u. won by something like 63-14

15. COLORADO STATE. sonny lubick is a fine coach and he has made this a respectable program. plus they give as good as they get in their games against the c.u. rapists.

that's all folks. let's all get on these schools websites and order their tee shirts.

-benjamin harris,
president, united underdogs of america