Julia and NPR re: Women’s basketball after school’s over

This morning my wife was featured in Morning Edition, NPR’s comprehensive and wide-sweeping news show.  She was quoted twice, the second being the piece’s final words. Below is the link to the excerpt and below that her full email to NPR re: Women’s Basketball.

npr_ladybball_wide-d0c8a97ba93471097e248d73f75739674bd67441-s800-c85(click on picture)

It took 44 minutes for my dad to drive me from practice at my high school in Rowan to Huntersville Elementary for AAU basketball practice. I would fill that time reading the books and solving the math problems assigned to me for homework. Though my dad’s red jeep and his talkative nature weren’t ideal for any kind of productive studying, to me, it was worth it. I wanted everything I could get out of basketball…I wanted every moment to propel me forward in getting better.

I spent my weekends with my team, the Carolina Angels (an intimidating mascot, I know) playing up to 3 games a day. Honestly, we were just okay. We won some, loss some…probably coming out with a mostly winning record. But having the team on my shoulders, having to be the one to box out for the rebound while also getting the ball down the court forced me into improving out of desperation to win. My dad loves telling a story about spending the weekend in Asheville, NC and me being so upset about how I played I didn’t even say a word all night. He guessed a decent order for me from McDonalds and threw it in my direction, accepting my dramatic somber attitude that was probably uncalled for. What an angel, my dad. Driving me twice a week to practices, giving up his weekends to go to tournaments, dropping who knows how much on hotel rooms, and all without a complaint and filled with pride at his daughter delighting in the sport she loved.

I filled every summer with all the camps I wanted. I went to Duke so I could play on Coach K’s court, and went to High Point University as 1 of the 50 people invited and accepted to the “Focused 50” boot camp. There was not one opportunity to play hard that I neglected. Summer optional workouts? Went all out. Pick-up games in PE when really no one important was watching? “Broke the ankles” of Bradon Wherrit as a resounding “Ooohhhhh” came from watchers. Saturdays? Played pick up for HOURS at the YMCA, the only girl. Basketball was everything to me.

I made Varsity Freshman year, had to really work for playing time both mentally and physically. I had every intention on playing in college. I went to organized shoot-outs where you got a number, was thrown on a random team, and college recruiters watched for their next player. I began receiving letters and “questionnaires” for small colleges in my state who were interested in me as a player. By my junior year, I was starting. At the time, my county’s competition for girls basketball was tough. It was not only acceptable, but an honor to play…some of the most popular and desirable girls played basketball. There was even a rumor when we played our rival high school that they wanted to switch the girls and guys games as the girls game would be the climax of the evening.

Clearly, “Ball was Life.” During the first game my junior year, we played Oak Hill Academy (a nationally recognized private school who sends people to play D-1 or professionally). The first quarter I dropped 8 points, and I remember thinking FINALLY I HAVE ARRIVED. Barely a minute into the first quarter, i collide with my teammates forehead as we were both hustling for a rebound and break my nose. Needless to say, sitting out for a month following that put a damper on my season. I didn’t truly recover and hit the same stride I began my year with. By the end of the season, I started feeling like maybe playing in college wasn’t the right thing for me. I did happen to make pretty good grades and started thinking going to the best college possible was probably more important. I started tossing the letters from the small local colleges, which was hard-but felt right in my gut.

Here’s the thing- despite giving up dreams of playing in college, my love for the game never diminished. My pure enjoyment of playing didn’t waiver, and the part of me that identified myself as a basketball player did not shift whatsoever. I never let up on effort, and never let up on extracurricular playing.

I headed on to UNC-Chapel Hill to subsequently get body-slammed in academics for the first time. I missed playing. I showed up to play on the club team, but eventually decided that for the first time in my life, I should explore new things. I volunteered with a non-profit that works with high school kids…and guess where I ended up. Coaching JV basketball. While some of my old teammates were playing at smaller colleges and living out what I thought I dreamed of…I was still involved in the game- coaching and playing occasionally with the varsity team.  I also began playing pick up with some guys I became friends with every Thursday night at Woolen gym, a historic gym with about 10 courts that have pick up games almost constantly. Again, playing pick-up…I was the only girl.

And this trend has continued. I ending up working for this same non-profit full time…again, ended up coaching. This time, I was an assistant to the state champion team, and was part of the team of guys that they played against to heighten their competition. Again, the only girl. I played pick up as often as I could with friends…again, the only girl. I now play pick up with my husband and friends…again, the only girl.

There’s been ONE situation where I became aware of a legitimate women’s league. I joined a terrible team, but loved every second of getting whooped by 30 points. Joining a game of pick up doesn’t hold a candle to playing fundamentally sound, competitive, organized basketball. I think that’s why most women don’t play anymore. It’s just not the same game when we play with men who mostly are not fundamentally trained. The selfishness in a pick up game, the suppressed sexist decisions, and the sloppy fundamentals can borderline ruin it. I’m so desperate to keep basketball in my life, I’ve grown a thick skin and put up with it. But it sucks when you are constantly paired with the super-unathletic spaz who plays defense with zero body control, making you susceptible to being clothes-lined or injured. Who is the worst player on the team? Oh- you get “the girl.” As if I have nothing to contribute and as if I don’t have a name. Word to the wise, if a girl has the gall to show up and play pick up, chances are she can shoot, so DEAR LORD set her a screen!!!!

All this is to say, my two best friends who actually played college basketball NEVER play anymore. I think I am an anomaly. They enjoyed 4 more years of this beautiful, graceful game full of rhythm, smart decisions, and passion. But they never play anymore. Why? I can’t really figure out. This game captured my heart long ago…and maybe that’s why it didn’t really matter if I played college or not. I love playing. I’m willing to put up with arrogant men, playing with a ball sized for men’s hands, and being matched with hazard in order to feel  what its like to drive and connect to the basket, to feel what its like to hit a 3 in transition, and to RUN- to run without abandon, with hope and desire to be a part of the next play.

Ladies, where have you gone? There’s CERTAINLY more than just me- there HAS to be women who love the sport…who probably gave significant parts of their lives to the sport that have a desire to keep playing. Can’t we all band together and make it happen? Can’t we bring women’s basketball to a place where it’s not only the elite who continue play? Can’t we make room for us on the court, who spent hours sprinting, sliding, and lifting? Can’t we peel ourselves away from what our futures have brought us-motherhood or careers- to play the sport we once did everything in our power to play?

I hope so. Until then, I guess I’ll keep guarding the 12 year old.

Julia Hartsell Chisholm
Age 28


Image Criteria: 1. Visual Rhetoric Excellence (album cover) 2. Classical fashion/personification resonance (how close can you get to making your art resemble a coke can or a 1940s overcoat in Brooklyn) 3.  The marathon song (special points if past 9 minutes) 4. Are you young or new? (b/c for some reason the best music was more divided on these parameters). 5.  You had a Macklemore haircut (which will look stupid by May)  6.  It sounds good in Dan’s treble-fest speakers (not the Rodeo this time…that damn CRV has better speakers, but Dan turns up the treble setting to +6)  7. Auras of black and white? (I don’t know, ask Ansel Adams about it) 8.  Paste vs. Pitchfork factor (how much either overlap or omission an album had from both publications) 9. Overall, did I like it?

Top 10 Albums of the Year with visual analysis:

1. Quiet Light | Roadkill Ghost Choir Quiet Light Graphic

2. Random Access Memories | Daft PunkRandom Access Graphic 3. Days are Gone | Haim

Days are Gone 4. Modern Vampires of the City | Vampire Weekend

Modern Vampires 5. The Civil Wars | The Civil Wars Civil Wars

6. Reflektor | Arcade Fire


7. Overgrown | James Blake


8. Trouble Will Find Me | The National


9. Anxiety | Autre Ne Veut

Anxiety*all photos from @anthonysamaniego

10. The 20/20 Experience | Justin Timberlake


*Honorable Mention* Ghost on Ghost | Iron & Wine Cupid Deluxe | Blood Orange Wondrous Bughouse | Youth Lagoon Muchacho | Phosphorescent Paracosm | Washed Out


I wouldn’t necessarily call 2013 a seminal year in music history, but there was some very good art produced in spurts and bubbles.  Since I have quieter tastes (as I’ve been reminded on quite a few online music forums) I guess I’m not as qualified to comment on some of the louder genres (metal/death-metal/precious metals/hard-rock but almost metal/steel drum reggae), but the other musical spheres are mine on which to prey.  A couple of adjectives that come to mind for 2013 are “patient” and “classic.”  My number one album of the year, Quiet Light (really an EP), is a dusty, banjo-plucking, dark folk album with about as much prairie merit as the ubiquitous oil-drilling units bumping up and down along the interstate.  Like those midwestern fleas constantly at the helm of production, Roadkill Ghost Choir produces  a steady, foot-stomping opus backed by swelling horns and hazy, reverb guitar.  The product is a delay of time…a return to rural Americana (they are from rural Florida after all) where geography determined culture and time was measured from the true travel of the sun and seasons.  Other works, like the Civil Wars’ Self Titled, Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City, and The National’s Trouble Will Find Me are re-workings of great American themes: road trips, civilian strife, and depression in the modern age.  I don’t think it’s an accident that these three albums artwork is almost all greyscale sans Autre’s wooden frame (that actually has Edvard Munch’s The Scream embedded in it on earlier versions), reflecting not only the modern transition of American folk music but also the stern and segmented allocations of its arguable qualities.  These albums are equally terrifying, limited, and vague-all tangential qualities for normal American folk.  The more poppy albums of the year, JT’s 20/20 Experience, Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, and Haim’s Days are Gone are further artistic commentaries on American images or historically loaded pop generalizations.  Daft Punk uses jazz-infused, early 90s dance-club vibes loaded onto disco beats to basically create a genre that netted grandmothers to budding adolescents into a woven mesh of hip-hop, Euro-synth burlap.  Although this album isn’t necessarily an American exploration, it still uses African-American pop influences dubbed over machine-washed synth, maybe augmenting traditional hip-hop with a modern element.  JT’s 20/20 is a more austere play on the cliche of big bands of the earlier 20th century. He transforms himself into a 21st century band leader of a supporting cast aptly named the Tennessee Kids which has more than a few historically (and by extension, racially) loaded assumptions about making “swing” music for the live masses.  JT narrowly avoids making a caricature of himself by being so damn good at his job and by fulfilling the born-again image of Glenn Miller or Benny Goodman with nearly effortless zeal.  Haim’s Days are Gone is the only album that offers the feminized take on the shift of American folk/pop.  As sisters, Haim is able to create the image of the “girl next door” motif hinged to American hipsterism (perhaps the true intersection of folk and modernity in our culture) that is also more than capable of creating sweeping pop music.  Their proximity to adolescence makes their music strangely spritely but also a terrific mess, reflected by their aversion to mass media glamour via tangled hair, disdain of Lululemon casual flair, and love of team sports (see video for “Don’t Save Me”).  The implications of their image for coming-of-age American girls is only thinly veiled, however, since they offer a full rejection of traditional female roles in favor of a life that may be more blue collar, sweaty, and grounded in independence.  By extension, these qualities make Haim almost overt flag-bearers for the American “folk woman” more shaped by frontier ideology than urban opulence.  Perhaps as we enter into another decade where the term “America” gets scrutinized to death in postmodern scalping, 2013 offers a brief return to traditional American mores.  It’s no secret that traditional folk music is dead in the mass media, but small extensions, even thematic ones, can’t help reveal the fact that deep inside our own modernity are questions of background that challenge what American art is becoming.  Musically, this transition is faster than other genres but also more circular.  If the last century could be shaped by a periodic function, 2013 stands as a return to the midline…whether we are rising or falling depends on what’s next.

Into Conrad’s Heart of Darkness////Musings on character and perception


Having just finished Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness for perhaps the second time of my life (the first was in high school I believe), I am now free to find what is profound in whatever pronounces itself at the moment.  And what is profound is Kurtz, his character, his sentience of his surroundings, movements, and barbarity.  So much can be said, of course, about this novel’s “social implications”:  the overt racism, imperial arrogance, etc.  But this novel isn’t really about all of these CliffsNotes sidebar themes (high schoolers stop reading upon peril to your AP test).  This book is mainly about one man, his mystery, his profound effect, profound death, and phantom nature.  Kurtz starts as a ghost and ends as perhaps the most terrifying specter in modern literature.  As Marlow wrestles with the end product of his Congo trance, we all sit upon the deck of his ship in the Thames contemplating not the nature of the Occident to marginalize and belittle, but of how we can meet Kurtz and somehow escape intact.  And it hit me that Kurtz is perhaps some sort of mortal deity, a mixture of Jesus and the God of the Old Testament zapping whole cultures out of righteous indignation.  In this light, Kurtz’s ivory moves far beyond personal accumulation of wealth and turns into gleaming souls:  a hoarding of pain and sorrow, a reaping of lifetimes of hope in the struggling, sputtering wilderness.  And like Jesus, we are attracted to Kurtz, to the “voice,” that screams out “horror, horror,” in gasping breaths, knowing that in the terrible freeness of nature, in the limits of the social spectrum, we all know the truth of life: there is a feeble line between horror and beauty and we must internalize both to make sense of the other.

a quick tour of modern Appalachia //// Ron Rash’s Burning Bright

Ron Rash’s recent collection of short stories is really just a pathway into a regional author’s writing process.  As a precursor to this year’s almost novelette The Cove, Burning Bright serves as a the palette of color with which Rash has permeated the southern Blue Ridge.  Although Rash has never been exceptionally light-hearted, this collection seems downright soul-crushing, focusing on death and grief and loss perhaps more-so than any novel in his repertoire.  The best story in my opinion is “Into the Gorge,” where Jesse, the recessive local, returns to  his family’s old plot of land, now gobbled up into Great Smoky Mountains National Park, to dig up ginseng.  As this man both tries to pocket some extra cash and commune with his ancestor’s geography and haunting legends, he butts up against the modern world in a tragically hopeless manner.  In the end, Jesse is doomed to repeat the past of his ancestors, although the parameters of their existence are unparalleled   Other stories, such as “The Ascent” or even the prelude “Hard Times” are driven by the intersections of how youth in Appalachia navigates through poverty, drugs, and absentee parenting.  Of course it would be easy to draw these children out as allegories in and of themselves, which Rash may be doing, but the intimacy and dream-like diction of the narrative suggests that Rash may be indeed “Benjamin-buttoning” us all as he ages into new material.  Overall, this succinct and laconic collection, although disastrous and forlorn, is a brilliant set of tragedies that reflects the troubled transition of the Blue Ridge into a privately sequestered opulent playground.


Chisholm Music Awards ///// 2012

2012 //////

a movement into strong feminine shoe-gazing, post-hippie freak folk, and emotionally damaged hip-hop / Also, trending back to what is American / spit in the face of hipster cynicism / But no dominant narrative here, however, because unlike in previous years, 2012 was 12 months of genre reshuffling and overlap / still, it was all raw / Chan Marshall of Cat Power spoke of the depths of the power of home, so much a cliché in our post-post modernness / Alex Ebert of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes made us rethink the structure of folk in our American consciousness, challenging notions of prayer and solitude, all while introducing us to our “Mayla” / Kendrick Lamar and Kid Cudi granulized street life in a manner that made it tangibly familiar and emotionally parallel / there was even room for The Killers to fire up some strong 21st century rock ballads / But enough of all the categorizing and adjectives-great music still lies in the unquantifiable, and  perhaps this year it is evident that what is good is good just because it is what it is…

Criteria //////// in visual rhetoric

Chisholm Music Awards Criteria 2012

The List //////// reviews as haikus

1. Purity Ring / Shrines 9.4

earthen, salty, landscape-driven / in a sphere of magma emotion and dubstep / undulatingly honest

2. Father John Misty / Fear Fun 9.2 

strangely American / subdued distortion of modern freak folk / piously fathomed

3. Lana Del Rey / Born to Die 9.1

visually mesmerizing / piece of the American pie with a cigarette / voluptuously carnal

4. Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes / Here 8.8

campfire-silence / whirling telephone poles on a road trip / swaying, chanting-sunrise

5. WZRD / WZRD 8.8

pulsing hybrid / sweaty rounding of recovery / a man who stands

6. Cat Power / Sun 8.7

unlaced and spread out / speaking of voluminous experience at every corner / history-heavy

7. Hot Chip / In Our Heads 8.5

playfully lost / a hall of mirrors masquerade / relational boon

8. Kendrick Lamar / good kid, m.a.a.d city 8.4

Parisian arrogance / but Benedictine repentance acts as grounding / god vs.(or on) street

9. Dan Romer and Benh Zeitlin  / Beast of the South Wild Soundtrack 8.4

child’s winding toy / imagination breathed ring of fire, water, dirt / ever flicker and descending

10. Grimes / Visions 8.3

peppy and terrifying / jovial mistress of 80s synth retribution / turquoise hoodies and blood

11. The Killers / Battle Born 8.3

white stallions / lightning and Freddie Mercury’s mustache / Arizona dust and liquor

12. alt-J / An Awesome Wave 8.1 (best album artwork 2012)

triangle philosophy / indulgent in repeating patterns / algae green

13. The Avett Brothers / The Carpenter 8.1

agrarian winter stove / tweed and wool with a sharpened axe / ice melody

14. The XX / Coexist 8.0 (2012 album artwork #2)

man and woman / remonstrance between couples at morning coffee / layered, coloring book

15. Santigold / Master of my Make-Believe 8.0

mythically Amazonian / gender melding and cogently razor-sharp / elephant tusk and Porsche

16. Exitmusic / Passage 7.9

summer sparklers / a solid night with a beer and a pen/ piano rip and heart pixelation