Sunday, July 27, 2008

Solving this "branding" problem

A view from near the top of the Stockton Arena. (Lifted with permission from a friend's myspace)

When I was dropping my brother off after the fights last night, we got back just in time to watch the Diaz/Denny fight on the CBS broadcast. First, I've changed my mind on the "209" chants. They actually came across pretty cool on TV. Double J's horrific attempts at pumping up the crowd just made me jaded. (And I wasn't the only one who thought he was horrific. Nick Diaz himself referred to him as "the obnoxious guy" in the Record's article about his fight.) The second, and most important thing is something my dad said "Wow, this is kind of a big deal isn't it?"

I should probably point out that my dad's not exactly a big MMA guy. He later asked me if this MMA thing was pretty new and was surprised to hear that MMA wasn't the company we were watching, but the name of the sport in general. He's about as outside an observer as can be, and even he knew it was a big deal. Stockton on national TV in primetime. This was a chance for us to show the entire nation that we weren't just some place where people can't afford their mortgages. If there was ever a time to push the Stockton "brand" this was it. Of course we couldn't count on Stockton, the paper, or even the embarrassment that was Double J to do it for us. Instead, Nick Diaz did it for us by proclaiming during his post fight interview "Real fighters are from Stockton," which caused the crowd to erupt.

how you brand a city. Not with bullshit banners. Not by building more fountains. Not by taking down fences. No bullshit Powerpoint presentations. You go on national TV and say that we're tough motherfuckers who never say die. And if there was anybody who could say it, it's Nick Diaz.

There's a reason I chose the handle "Slick Diaz", it's because Nick represents this city. He's had his fair share of adversity from dropping out of high school as a sophomore to having his biggest win stripped from him due to failing a drug test for pot. He's one of the more controversial figures in MMA and every time he fights he has to deal with the same bullshit with people questioning his character, yet he fights through it.

We as a city need to fight the notion that we're a poor, increasingly violent city by showing that we're fighters too. You don't win fights by saying the problem doesn't exist. You attack the problem head on. Instead of building hotels that we don't need or paying some jackass to give us a list of ridiculous ideas we need to concentrate on the real problem, namely our violent crime rate.

If the city really wants to brand the city for tourism reasons, "Celebrate Stockton!" isn't the way to go. We have nothing to celebrate. Last night at the Stockton Arena we were given a reason to celebrate. Stockton's a town for fighting, and as Record Editor Mike Klocke kind of put it (although didn't do a very good job), we've always been a fight town.

While this site's highlighted a lot of the negative in Stockton, that's not saying there's no hope. We're in a fight. Whether it be with the perception of outsiders, the perception of our city leaders, or the perception that the Record is a decent newspaper, we're fighting. Why? Because real fighters are from Stockton.

No comments: