Monday, July 1, 2013

Book Review: "Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities" by Chris Kluwe

Although I'm a big fan of pop culture and sports, I don't tend to revere celebrities. While there are certainly people whose work or abilities I enjoy or appreciate more than others, the people I admire most or even view as personal heroes are often those making a difference in our world or impacting people's lives.

Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe (now an Oakland Raider) is one of those people. While as a football fan I knew of Kluwe's prowess on the field, I didn't become aware of his activism off the field until the middle of last year, when he wrote a public letter to a Maryland state delegate who had called on the Baltimore Ravens to curb the public pro-marriage equality stance of (now former) linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo. (I wrote about this last fall.) From that point on Kluwe became a vocal opponent of those who sought to ban marriage equality, in Minnesota and elsewhere, and he even filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in the marriage equality cases argued before the Supreme Court earlier this year. And he did all of this not because he is gay, not because he has gay family members, or because he's getting paid. He did (and does) this because he believes all people should be treated equally.

Beyond his support for marriage equality, Kluwe is a tremendously intelligent, well-read, and articulate person on a variety of subjects. He's a big fan of colorful—even obscene—language (not that there's anything wrong with that), and even if you don't necessarily agree with his arguments, most rational people would have to admire his passion and his ability to communicate his points of view. All of these are on fine display in the entertaining, well-written, and passionate (although slightly schizophrenic) collection of essays, letters, stories, and recollections, Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities.

While many of the (often somewhat brief) chapters in this book focus on marriage equality, gun control, and other issues on which Kluwe is unabashedly liberal (again, not that there's anything wrong with that), still others are riffs on football, Atlas Shrugged, religion (including the Pope's taking to social media), the future, video games, injuries, his ego, and his lifelong love of reading. Some are more emotional, as Kluwe gives advice to his children about the future, and talks about the importance of treating each others the way you want to be treated. And still others border on the phantasmagorical, trippy rants directly from Kluwe's wild mind.

I really enjoyed this book because Kluwe was authentic, unswerving, and passionate. While I found some chapters resonated more with me than others, there's no denying his writing ability, his amazing and creative mind, and his strong beliefs in doing what is write, while making people laugh in the progress. The book is a bit disjointed in that the chapters come, much like football hits, one after the other, on one topic and then a totally different one. Is it a literary master work? No. But I admire not only what Kluwe had to say, but how he said it.

"The truth will help you win only if people are willing to educate themselves as to why truth is important, and, make no mistake, truth is very important." Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities is a great reflection on the truth and the world according to Chris Kluwe, and in my mind, we need more people like him to tell the truth and share their passion.

1 comment:

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