Bumped. "FYI" -- this is an epic post. BN Eds.
One of the many joys of BruinsNation is the deft use of language by its members. Over and above the thoughtful and passionate posts concerning serious issues that surround UCLA, BNers frequently use this site to write posts for the simple, pure fun of it. Ucla7477 teaches us how to translate troganese into English. KSBruin gives us a BN Lexicon that stands apart from ordinary dictionaries, serving as both reference and absorbing story on its own. Many revised song lyrics in these pages have been sources of inspiration and laughter. BN members have entertained us with Haiku verses aimed at deserving targets. JoeBruin15 rewrites TV commercials for our amusement. The many varied uses of language makes this a very fun place to hang out.
With all that said, I think it's high time that we give overdue props to none other than Dan Guerrero. Yes, you read me right. Dan Guerrero. About one year ago, our AD said something that puts the rest of us wordsmiths to shame. He uttered a sentence, a single, pregnant sentence, that bursts with multifaceted meaning. If the purpose of poets, mathematicians, and writers is to say what they have to say as powerfully and as simply as they can, then Dan has set the bar to a probably unreachable height.
I'll get to the context in a minute, but here is Dan's sentence:
"FYI, are we responding to these?"
Frankly, I am in awe. With eight measly words, counting the abbreviation "FYI" as individual words, Dan has accomplished a task that reasonable people would consider impossible to do in a single, small sentence. In essence, Dan has written a nearly complete autobiography. Who else has done this in fewer than ten thousand words, let alone fewer than ten?
The context surrounding Dan's statement/question concerned Adidas' latest attempt to toss aside tradition and integrity in favor of splash and flash. Like surgeons, Nestor and Deadspin exposed the "UCLA/Adidas Clown Show" for what it was. Class of 66 shook his head in wonderment at Dan's adroit deflection of responsibility in the matter.
Just as with Adidas' tradition-trashing modifications to UCLA's iconic football jerseys, there were numerous protests of outrage over Adidas' screw-you changes to UCLA's classic basketball uniforms. The two incidents also had something else in common: the Morgan Center's tone-deaf dismissal of the protests.
Like hearing a Yogi Berra quote, you stop in your tracks when you read, "FYI, are we responding to these?" You say to yourself, "Wait... What?" It is an oxymoronic contradiction that slips up on you. Unlike Yogi's quotes, however, rather than being laden with delightful misdirection and off-handed profundity, Dan's statement is rife with naked, priggish contempt for his detractors.
The statement begins with a falsely declarative opening, and then concludes with a query. It is a question, disguised as an answer. As Class of 66 said at the time:
"'FYI' usually means 'For Your Information' and is usually followed by a factual statement, not an inquiry; of course, in your case it could mean 'From Your Idiot', which in context makes sense."
I propose that we call Dan's new literary form "the FYI Query," or "FYIQ," pronounced Fick You. A FYIQ combines a declaration that information is to follow, followed by a query as to what that information might be.
The suggested profanity of the verb-object construction of the pronunciation is appropriate, I think. The sentence is an insult to whomever it is said. "All right, listen up. Here comes some information. Are you ready? OK, here it comes: What is the information?" In other words, Fick You.
A FYIQ is a way of thinking, known only to hard-core bureaucrats. It is feigned authority, combined with oblivious know-nothingness and refused responsibility. As Tydides said, regarding a recent discussion and dissection of Dan's epic and inaugural FYIQ, "I hope this was an intentional Celebrity Jeopardy insert. 'Well you’re sitting on a gold mine Trebek'."
Indeed, the utterance uncovers a gold mine of meaning about Dan, himself. Let's start mining.
Obliviousness. The statement reveals obliviousness or lack of concern, or both, as to tradition. Let Adidas have their way. Our deal with them is set. Don't ask me to do any "director" stuff, such as insisting that traditional looks be respected and retained. Let the fashion people keep on thinking that "new" necessarily means abandoning classic.
Pretentiousness. Like a clumsy interloper, Dan starts out with an attempt to sound hip, and hilariously, blows it completely. He employs a currently popular idiom, "FYI," as an introduction, but then shows himself to be a tool of the ignorant by failing to grasp its underlying meaning.
This phony claim to cool reminds me of an incident that I honestly can't remember if I saw first-hand, heard about from someone else, or is just urban legend. Whether the event actually occurred doesn't really matter, though, as it illustrates a similar blown attempt at hipness.
In the 1970s, Hugh Hefner had a TV show, Playboy After Dark. The show consisted of beautiful people, indulging in such activities as lounging around a pool beside a waterfall, sipping brandy, and dropping the names of jazz musicians, philosophers and Greek thinkers. Such was a typical day in the life of really cool people. Hugh, in a smoking jacket, would move among cavorting, barely dressed bunnies, from pool to library to volleyball court to manly, walnut-paneled den, puffing his pipe while a bimbo du jour hung on his arm in rapt appreciation of his magnificence.
In one show, Hugh was sitting on a piano bench and conversing with a female singer and piano player. It might have been Roberta Flack, but I don't recall. By entering her domain, the piano bench, and speaking about music, Hugh was showing that, not only did he have his own jet and was incredibly rich and cool, he also "got" music. He could speak their language.
Like Dan, though, Hugh was stretching his credibility with adopted lingo. In prompting her to play and sing her next song, he attempted to say something in musician-speak: "Why don't you tickle the ivories now?" Only, it came out: "Why don't you tinkle on the keys now?"
Let's face it, blown attempts at pretentious cool are invariably hilarious. There is poetic justice when they backfire and, instead of making their pretender look hip, make him look foolish. Dan's blown attempt was epic. He should win a Foolitzer Prize.
Laziness. Dan could not be troubled to get out in front of the issue of the day. He seemed surprised by the protests and completely unable to deal with the issue. This level of lazy responsibility-ducking is mind-boggling. I don't know how the job descriptions at the Morgan Center are written, but I would think that dealing with and responding to issues would fall under the purview of the Director.
But, Dan would have no part of such bother. Let me, the General, ask the troops what we're doing about this. Pass the doughnuts.
Bureaucrat. Note a word in Dan's FYIQ: "these." Keep in mind that many prominent and articulate alumni had taken the time to educate Dan as to the harm that was being done to the UCLA brand in abandoning traditional looks. Even Coach Mora spoke out on the issue of truncated UCLA stripes.
While the protests were passionate, they were not hysterical. They merely spoke to what was obvious. Adidas and the MC were screwing with something cherished. And the outspoken did not like it.
But, dealing with the issue at hand was too complex and too bothersome a task for Dan to handle. Note also the verb in Dan's FYIQ: "responding." Not "What are we doing about?" Not "How should we handle?" Not anything respectful of the protestors or of the issue. "Are we responding?" He would not deal with the specific issues and objections being raised by the protestors. And, he certainly was not going to do anything about them. He was concerned only with whether the MC should bother answering the protests with some sort of bureaucratic, form-letter dismissal, or whether they should simply ignore them altogether.
Then, he lumps all of the objections into one bucket, "these." It's much simpler that way. Never mind who is saying what, what their standing is, or what their credentials are. Never mind the volume of protests or the legitimacy of their complaints. Treat them all as one voice, "these."
It's a classic, bureaucratic means of dealing with unrest. Consolidate and shelve dissent. Don't let your critics influence your actions. Treat all protests as one complaint. They will be much easier to ignore, that way.
Summary. In short, all of the above reflect a mindlessness and a carelessness that take your breath away. Dan's words revealed himself to be a self-contradictory, oxymoronic, oblivious, unconcerned, pretentious, lazy, responsibility-ducking, ignorant, out-of-touch, bureaucratic non-leader. That pretty much sums it up, I think. Quintessential Dan. That's an amazingly accurate and damn-fine autobiography. And, all in only eight words. Wow.
In closing, I couldn't help but wonder how the world would be different today, had other prominent figures exhibited Dan's gift for bureaucratic do-nothingness, if they had displayed his same FYIQ swordsmanship. For example:
"FYI, are the British coming?"
- Chianti Revere, c. 1775
"FYI, if I think, am I am?"
- Chianti Descartes, c. 1637
"FYI, does it go so?"
- Chianti Vonnegut, c. 1969