by John Walters

Apologies for not posting earlier. After the exoduses (exodi?) of Don and Dave (we are in Year 1 A.D., “After Dave”), I required a day of mourning. Or at least a morning of mourning, since I was in a daze all morning. And when did Steve Rushin hijack the blog? Anyway, I’m back, a little bit sadder and a little bit older…but aren’t we all?

Starting Five

Show 6,028

1. A Long Dave’s Journey Into Night

Dave bids us “thank you, and good night” and with that, after 33 years of never intruding upon our time before 11:30 p.m., he is gone. Here’s my write-up on the finale and here’s an outstanding and information-packed piece by former Late Night/Late Show staffer Daniel Kellison (“Ringo doesn’t count”) for Grantland.

If you missed the final Top 10 list, here it is. Jim Carrey and Julia Louis-Dreyfus got the best lines.

And this is why I love Jim Carrey….

By the way, Dave’s retirement was the ONE thing that inspired Bill Simmons to break his social media silence, as he posted a “Thank You” photo of Dave and Paul on Instagram yesterday.

2. When You Say Bud

Bud’s actually more comfortable fishing and hunting than he is talking football….

Spent last Saturday at the Bloomington, Minn., home of Bud Grant, a day I will never forget. What a legend. Bud’s 88 and still eagle-eye sharp and lucid and I bet he could still take the Vikings to the playoffs this season if he accepted the gig tomorrow. As you may or may not know, he’s also the only man ever to play in both the NBA and the NFL.

3. James Addiction

Steph Curry, 33 points. James Harden, 38 points. The Warriors win by one when Houston fails to get off a shot on its final possession. Maybe it’s just me, but it felt like the first time all quarter (the only quarter I watched was the fourth) when Harden didn’t drive to the hoop.

He pulled up at the arc, got double-teamed by the Freres du Splash, dished to an open Dwight Howard, only he was himself above the arc (“like a fish needs a bicycle…”), passed back to Harden, who was then guarded by the Smother Brothers. No shot.

Golden State up, 2-0. But Houston can hang with ‘em. Hoping this goes 7.

4. Portraits by Katie

So, I was able to invade the home of spend some time with Mike and Katie McCollow last weekend in Minneapolis. If they gave out Kennedy Center honors for personality, those two would be honorees. Anyway, Katie is the epitome of the idiom (“epidiome?”) “more talent in her one little finger…”

This is a portrait she did of her youngest child, Molly. She does them for anyone (for a price, of course). Visit to learn more. And if you tell Katie that you learned about her site by reading this blog, she’ll knock a dollar off the price (won’t you, Katie?)

5. Will These Ruins Soon Be In Ruins?

Apparently, ISIS has taken control of the Syrian city of Palmyra, and while you probably were not headed to Syria on holiday this year (good thinking, you), it is possible that these dudes who put the “-hate” in caliphate could destroy the ancient ruins. It feels as if ISIS will not be satisfied until the entire planet looks like a vacant lot in Odessa, Texas, which, if you’ve been there, you know what I’m talking about….

Music 101

Hate To Say I Told You

Do you remember the turn of the century? Garage rock made a brief and stunning comeback thanks to White Stripes, The Vines, The Strokes and this band from Sweden, The Hives. The lead singer was “Howlin'” Pelle Almvqvist and the album was titled Veni, Vidi, Vicious. Yes, they were Julius Caesar’s favorite band. Too bad we never heard from them again on this side of the North Sea….


Remote Patrol

(We’re just going to leave this space empty for a few days)


by John Walters

Starting Five

The suspects are from five different gangs, but now they all wear the same colors…

 1. Sons of Sons of Anarchy

Nine dead and 192 arrested after five biker gangs basically reenact the network affiliate melee from Anchorman at a Twin Peaks breastaurant in Waco, Texas. Don’t fear, David Koresh: your record still stands.

Some women who look like this will soon be unemployed….

Word is, the entire fracas started over a parking spot in the mens’ room (the parking spot wasn’t in the men’s room, silly) and much of the fighting took place inside,

2. @POTUS Arrives

So, apparently, the president of the United States got his own Twitter account on Monday and began tweeting. This is a real thing. “Hello, Twitter, it’s Barack. Six years in and they’re finally giving me my own account.” 

Granted, it’s not, “Watson, come here” but it is a landmark moment in politics and communication. I’m assuming that @realDonaldTrump has already blocked him.

Cue Sean Hannity wondering why the Commander in Chief is wasting his time on social media instead of defeating ISIS.

 3. What’s Next? “Norman D Invasion” for Oklahoma Football?

Behold , today’s Daily Harrumph. While I completely understand the furor (wanted to be sure I spelled that word correctly) over the production and sale of this T-shirt by Under Armour — a company whose very name commodifies sports as combat — why is this any worse than a college team donning “Pro Combat” gear before a game? Or camouflage unis?

Doesn’t all of it have the same effect: trivializing war?

4. Sylvan Sunday Splendor

Spent part of Sunday afternoon tramping around the 1,137-acre Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, which is probably a lot like what heaven looks like, if there is one. Thought for the day: Go outside and play. Feel cold. Feel hot. Feel exhausted. Feel a little bit scared. Feel lost. Just…feel.

We live in an age where people think that easier and more comfortable is better. Occasionally, yes. But as a highest goal in all things, it’s a terrible life strategy.

5. 12 Angry Men, One Funny Schumer

If you missed this, Amy Schumer rounded up a sausage-fest of talent to shoot a 12 Angry Men parody in black-and-white. The accused? Schumer. The case? Whether or not Schumer is hot enough to be on basic cable TV. The episode-long bit featured Dennis Quaid, Jeff Goldblum, Paul Giammatti (excellent as usual, doing his Pig Vomit mien) John Hawkes, Vincent Kartheiser (Pete Campbell) and Nick DePaolo, the last one truly playing it straight and dramatic (and furious). If nothing else, the bit introduced the term “reasonable chub” into the lexicon.

Warning: NSFP.

Music 101

Get Together

You hold the key to love and fear/All in your trembling hand/Just one key unlocks them both/It’s there at your command

Before they were a pair of starters on some terrific Los Angeles Ram defenses* of the early 1970s, The Youngbloods reached No. 5 on the Billboard charts in 1969 with this tune. They’d originally released it two years earlier and it never climbed higher than 62. Who can figure taste? This remains one of the signature songs of the Sixties.

Talking Jack and Jim Youngblood, of course. Not really musicians. Nor relatives. The former was a seven-time All-Pro, though, and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The latter was pretty damn good himself.

Remote Patrol

Late Show

CBS 11:35 p.m.

Surprise. What did you expect? The show’s finale is tomorrow night — Helen Slater takes Dave to an encounter group — but tonight is the final show with a guest and of course it’s the same man who was there with Dave from the very beginning: Bill Murray. One of the many things I love about Dave is that he appreciates Murray as much as he does, and obviously the feeling is mutual.

And if you missed Norm Macdonald’s send-off to Dave on Friday night, here it is.


by John Walters

Starting Five

1. Ommmm, I God

Quick thoughts on the Mad Men finale….

— Six phone calls, two of them person-to-person. I counted Don-Sally, Don-Betty, Peggy-Joan, Joan-client, Don-Peggy, Peggy-Stan. I understand that sometimes this can’t be avoided within the plot, but a surfeit of calls made me want to hang up on the finale. When you’ve got actors as talented as Jon Hamm and Elisabeth Moss, you put ‘em in a room together and watch them make sparks.

— Brief Mad Men series finale review: “Joan snorts coke, Don saves Coke.”

The dude on the left was actually once married to Elisabeth Moss (Peggy)

— When Stephanie greets Don in California, she says, “What are you doing here?” Was this another episode of SNL’s “The Californians?”

I sure hope Don breaks the land-speed record inside the Colosseum….

— The hunky red-headed dude who wanted to chase the land-speed record? That’s Spencer Treat Clark, whom you may remember as Lucius from The Gladiator (was also the boy who got kidnapped in Mystic River).

–I loved Meredith’s final scene: “I translated your speech into pig Latin.” Roger: “That was a joke.” I think this will be the beginning of Alan Sepinwall’s review…(Update: Yup, it was).

–Yes, that was Helen Slater, a.k.a. Supergirl, to those of us over 40. Still hot. Don, stay at the ashram and try out a few yoga poses with Helen. May I suggest, “Downward Don?” That’s your best gambit.

–Speaking of that retreat center, am I the only one whose mind immediately went to Paul Rudd and Steve Carell dancing to Age of Aquarius?

— Roger and Marie Calvert are perfect for one another. I just wanted him to pull out an Addams Family reference and say, “Morticia, you spoke French.” Gomez Addams was a thing at the time.

— The total unknown who was given that monologue in the series’ final five minutes? Well, he was intentionally forgettable. And yet, that monologue was as moving as any pitch Don Draper ever gave to a prospective client. The difference was that, as Don had always said, the key to advertising is “happiness” whereas this pitch was emptiness. And that the man described himself as an item on a shelf in a refrigerator… he was simply an unwanted consumer item.

Also, I love how Matthew Weiner wrote in the first guy to speak and then gave us the pause. We all expected Don to get up and confess next — so did Supergirl — but then Weiner threw us that curve.

Betty: Forever smoking, hot.

— That final scene with Sally and Betty in the kitchen is haunting, especially to anyone who has ever lost a parent.

— The Don-Peggy phone call. My favorite moment. It reminded me of the time when Radar O’Reilly gave Hawkeye the what-for. Favorite moment-within-the-moment? When Peggy lowers her voice and says, “Don. Listen to me. What did you ever do that was so bad?”

— The “When Stan Met Peggy” phone call. Who let Nora Ephron into the writers’ room?

— The final scene. First, genius to end with a close-up of Don’s face. It was always THAT FACE that made life both so easy and difficult for Don. That face closed more sales, both in the boardroom and the bedroom, than Don’s words ever did. An iconic final moment.

Second, I guess there’s no ambiguity to it, is there? Don’s catharsis at the seminar leads to an inner harmony, which leads to the epiphany on the cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, which leads to him dreaming up the campaign for Coca-Cola, one of the greatest ad campaigns of all time. There were moments of foreshadowing earlier in the episode — Joan snorting coke and Peggy asking, “Don’t you want to work on Coke?” — as well as all season long.

Aw, sugar sugar….

The final irony? Mad Men began with Don saving his firm by saving the Lucky Strike account, by advertising for cigarettes. But, 55 years later, we know that while BIG SODA is not AS bad as BIG TOBACCO, it’s almost as bad. Soda is the cigarettes of our generation. Some day your kids will tell their friends, “Yeah, my dad (or mom) drank pop” with the same pitying look we display when we tell our friends that our parents smoked.

As for the song choice, well, we kind of nailed it….

 2. Confetti-cini Alfredo

This was the scene after the Houston Rockets won Game 7 of the NBA Finals Western Conerence finals a second round playoff series at the Toyota Center. Go nuts, kids.

Our republic is doomed.

3. Day of Yore

On this date 69 years ago Reggie Jackson was born, 45 years ago Tina Fey was born, and 35 years ago Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis hanged himself. Also on this date, 50 years ago, the fathomably talented Bill Hubbell, MH’s DoY scribe, was born. Happy birthday, Bill.

4. Rule No. 1

Potter: Until he died, he really lived….

What’s Rule No. 1, kids? That’s right “Gravity always wins.”

Legendary climber and BASE jumper Dean Potter, 43, died while attempting an aerial descent from Taft Point in Yosemite National Park… which prohibits such acts of derring do. Also dead, 29 year-old Graham Hunt.

5. Louie, Louie

Comedian Louis C.K. hosted the season finale for the 40th season of Saturday Night Live. For his opening monologue C.K. did a set that touched upon “mild racism,” the Israel-Palestine conflict, and child molestation. It’s hilarious to watch and listen to how he loses the audience on the third topic. I kinda feel that it was almost done on a dare, like that time on Seinfeld when Jerry had to open for Kenny Bania and just decided to bomb as badly as possible.


by John Walters

Yesterday was 5, 15, 15, a perfectly palindromic day. Sorry I missed you. But, you know, the Cavs had played one night before and life’s more fun when I am frustrating Susie B. Please enjoy this edition of Medium Tardy.

Starting Five

Don, looking Draper-y

1. The Last Don

“Everything was good. Now everything was bad. I knew I’d pay for this.”

That’s Peggy Olson, who hooks up with Abe for the first time only to come into work the following Monday to learn that Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce has lost the Lucky Strike account. But that’s life (that’s what people say).

Having spent more than half my career based out of the same Time-Life Building as SCDP,  I have found myself catching parts of the Mad Men marathon (AMC) and thinking of this essential truth: Life is a constant battle of ups and downs, personally and professionally. Sometimes you are your best — and/or only advocate — and sometimes you are your own worst enemy (Please tell me why my car is in the front yard…). Sometimes others are your greatest ally (Peggy) or your worst nemesis (usually, Pete).

The biggest difference is there’s a lot less Scotch in my (and, I assume, your) life.

2. “Take One Last Look”

As the final scene of Mad Men would have fittingly been Don at that bus stop outside Alva, Oklahoma, last Sunday night (finally at peace, waiting to board a bus to his next chapter), this brand new Tom Waits tune from Thursday night could have worked as the final moment from Letterman. Earlier in the show, Waits sat on the couch and was quite funny, talking about people in Manhattan who wait in long lines for lunch salads (“I felt embarrassed for them, to be honest”) and about wanting to attend a rally to “free the Glutens.”

Dave, taking the James Corden route

That interview was enhanced by the fact that George Clooney was handcuffed to Letterman and listening in, but Clooney was only seen in profile.

3. One Seeds Hold

DeMarre Carroll scored 25 points in the Hawks’ closeout win and will likely draw LeBron James in the EC Finals.

Both Atlanta and Golden State found themselves trailing in their respective series, to Washington and Memphis, two games to one, a week ago. Both then finished off their opponents with three straight victories. It was a lot hairier for the Hawks, who needed seven games in the opening round to slip past the Brooklyn Nyets. Atlanta won the final three games versus the Wizards by a total of nine points.

So it’s 1 versus 2 (Cleveland) in the East and it could be 1 vs. 2 (Houston, who hosts the Clips in Game 7) out West, but I see the Clippers advancing in Houston in a rare Game 7 matinee.

4. Mad Men? No, Mad Max

And he doesn’t have “accident forgiveness.”* *the judges will also accept, “Halt and catch fire.”

Two years ago Tom Hardy starred in a film titled Locke, whose plot revolved around him driving non-stop from Birmingham to London (it would have made an even better film if that Birmingham were the Alabama one, not the English one). Now he’s back in another starring vehicle in a quasi-reprise of the original 1979 Mad Max film.

Charlize (right). There really are not enough shower facilities at Coachella

I haven’t yet seen Mad Max: Fury Road, but the critics are agog. Seriously: agog. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 98%. Meanwhile, there are reports that the film is being boycotted by “men’s rights activists.” There are men’s rights activists? Man-child, please.

5. Soooeeey, Sandi!

It has been awhile since the inter webs went full-on bonkers about a female collegiate (or prep) pole vaulter (Jason, you are losing your touch). This is Sandi Morris of Arkansas, the reigning NCAA Indoor Champ who just emerged as the SEC champion in that event yesterday. On to the NCAA Outdoors in Eugene (no better place to stage ‘em, every year) from June 10-13. By then I do believe her inter webs fame will be fully BLOWED UP (a little credit to the kid, here, please) and she’ll be an ESPN or FOX sideline reporter by 2018.

Music 101

We’ve Only Just Begun

So many roads to choose/We’ll start out walkin’ and learn to run

I was searching for songs from 1971 that could work as the curtain-closing tune for Mad Men tomorrow night. So many good songs. American Pie, arguably THE signature tune of American pop, is an obvious choice. There are other classics such as Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, John Lennon’s Imagine (I mean, what a year), Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord and Carole King’s It’s Too Late. But I’m going to guess Matt Weiner, if he even stays in 1971, strays a little from the obvious. And so I’m going to go with this tune from The Carpenters, We’ve Only Just Begun (even if it was actually released in August of 1970). It hit No. 2 on the Billboard charts

p.s. Okay, I think Weiner will go with American Pie. Those rights won’t be cheap.

Remote Patrol

Mad Men Marathon & Finale

AMC Now ’til 10 p.m., Sunday

Good morning, yesterday/You wake up/And time has slipped away… AMC is slaying me with that promo using the Paul Anka song from my youth. I’ve wanted to go out and purchase a Kodak camera at least half a dozen times in the past few days. This is our final partners meeting with Don, Roger, Pete, Joan (and Peggy). I have absolutely no clue as to what will happen in the final, other than Matt Weiner left the door open for a jump forward into the future or to focus on just one character. As much as I’ll miss them, we really have no pressing reason to see Roger, Peggy, Joan, Pete or Betty again. Oh, and in a list of the top 50 Mad Men characters from last week, Rolling Stone put Pete at 14th –he’s no lower than 5th, at the very least — and didn’t even include Bob Benson. What do I think of that list? “Not great, Bob.”


by John Walters

No, it’s not true that I deliberately refrained from posting on Wednesday just to spite Susie B.’s ardor for LeBrontosaurus. Then again, if we were searching for motive… In truth, I was traveling — and not to the one state I have yet to visit (Alaska).

Starting Five

1. Buffon!

A young Peter Gabriel? A slightly melancholy version of Top Gun’s  Pete Mitchell after winning a game of beach volleyball? No, that’s Juventus goalkeeper and captain Gianluigi Buffon celebrating after his side held Real Madrid to a draw yesterday in Madrid in the Champions League semis, which means the Serie A club will advance to the final in Berlin.

Most of us (myself included) were thinking we’d be seeing El Clasico (i.e., Spanish sides Barcelona versus Real Madrid) being played out in the Champions League final for the first time…and that would’ve been cool because the two greatest goal scorers in the tournament’s history, Lionel Messi (Barca) and Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid), are tied at 77 goals apiece. Alas…

p.s. Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale is tracing out a very Alex Rodriguez-like story arc to his career, and that’s not a compliment.

2. Washington Weak in Review

This photo is actually from Friday night’s overtime win, but, you know, same difference…

Alex Ovechkin guaranteed a Game 7 win after the Capitals blew a 3-1 series lead. But the New Yorkers won in overtime. It was their second overtime win on the brink of elimination in the series and their 14th consecutive playoff game that was decided by one goal. As they say in hockey, “On to Tampa…”

Meanwhile, the Wizards lost Game 5 in Atlanta, 82-81, on a buzzer-beater by Tito Al Horford.

3. The Blindsided

This is where a photo of John Skipper would go if he were below 50 or George Clooney….

Give ESPN skipper John Skipper this much credit: At ESPN’s upfronts he was upfront about the fact that he never contacted Bill Simmons before allowing word to get out that The Sports Guy would not be retained.

And then Skipper went all Corleone by saying, “It was business.” It may have been business, but Skipper made it quite personal by telling Richard Sandomir of The New York Times the news before Simmons ever found out –it was 7:21 a.m. on the West Coast. He is the Skipper, but Simmons is no longer his Li’l Buddy….

To quote a Bostonian whom Simmons has long revered ( <–!), Will Hunting, “How do you like them apples?”

4. Does “Letterman” Rhyme With Hannukkah?

For his final appearance on Late Show, Adam Sandler resurrected that sweet, sincere, witty part of himself that disappeared in the late Nineties, and penned a fine tribute to the host (“and nobody makes my mother wetter than…”). Well done.

5. Head Over Helio

Castroneves walked away from this accident, while at least three soccer players had to be carried off the pitch today for being pinched

Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner, and one-time Dancing With The Stars champion Helio Castroneves nearly made The Brickyard a graveyard on Wednesday afternoon. Helio was traveling 219 m.p.h. when his car hit the wall, hydroplaned and went airborne like a massive paper airplane. Watch the video and remember that he walked away from this.

Music 101 

Sex Machine, etc.

Last night on Letterman, Dave brought his sidekick of 33 years, Paul Shafer, over to talk tunes. When asked to give his greatest musician whom he had ever worked with, Shaffer mentioned the Godfather of Soul and this appearance from the show’s first year. And what ever became of Carmine Polazzo?

Remote Patrol

Late Show

CBS 11:35 p.m.

I wouldn’t be shocked if Matt Damon or Brad Pitt do a walk-on during Clooney’s appearance

Only one more week of this, so thank you for indulging me (not that you have a choice). Your guests are George Clooney and Tom Waits “for no one”.

Last night on the program, Julia Roberts put it succinctly and accurately: “I love you, and I thank you for all the joy and the laughs and the intelligence you have brought us for 33 years.”



by John Walters

Starting Five

You can spend those five weeks off looking at that fourth Super Bowl ring, Tom.

1. TOM: Time Off Man*

The penalty: a four-game suspension for Tom Brady, a $1 million fine for the Patriots (courtesy of Dr. Evil), and a first-round draft pick lost next season. Also, the team and all of its fans must look up the word “recalcitrant” in the dictionary.

Brady will return on October 18, when the New England Patriots visit…the Indianapolis Colts! Isn’t life grand?

*The judges will also accept “P.S.I. Love You”

2. Mike & Molly Meets Mike & Mike to Form Mike & Mike & Molly


Here’s salt in your wounds, Bill Simmons. ESPN, in promoting its bland, is moving Mike & Mike to Times Square and attaching a third host, Molly Qerim of the NFL Network. Asking a hot 20-something 30 year-old gal from Los Angeles to move to Manhattan and hang out with a couple of middle-aged guys sounds like a sitcom, I just can’t remember which.

Tons of laughs! Wait, I don’t get it….

Ah, but here’s the rub. Quorum grew up in New Haven, Conn., and graduated from Quinnipiac, which is right in Bristol’s back yard. She’s coming home.

Letterman departs, these two enter. This Week’s Sign that the Apocalypse….

Mike & Mike & Molly, or 3M, will begin airing form NYC on February 8. Unless a massive tsunami strikes Manhattan first.

3. 30 for Thirtysomething

Will ESPN — or perhaps Grantland? — ever make a short film about the seminal dramedy? One can…Hope.

I like ESPN, really. Some of my favorite people I deal with in the media, such as Josh “Demented and Sad, But Social” Krulewitz, Mac Nwulu, Mike Huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuumes, Dave Nagle, Chris LaPlaca, Mike Soltys, Kerri Potts, yada yada yada….work there.

BUT… I’m always on the lookout for when ESPN is being insidious. When they are less than forthcoming. For example, if you are going to call yourselves the WWL and then create a documentary series, 30 for 30, about the greatest stories in sports –and, granted, it’s usually outstanding — maybe it’s time to recognize that sports preexisted the advent of ESPN in 1979.

ESPN just announced its newest 30 for 30 projects, and once again all the topics — Tyson vs. Holyfield, the Buffalo Bills, Pete Carroll — post-date the formation of ESPN. Granted, there have been a couple of pre-1979 topics, but the figure is disproportionately low. (by the way, “The U” came in at No. 25 on this list; who was doing the ranking, the editors of Rolling Stone?)

There are some absolutely fascinating stories that pre-exist the disco era. Here’s hoping ESPN delves further into them.

4. Dave, Don and Howard

Be gentle with the Gentile. Don Rickles and Howard Stern took turns ripping Letterman and the state of Montana last night. It was the sincerest tribute they could pay him.

5. “Obama, Dakota. Dakota, Obama.”

POTUS completes the list, visiting South Dakota, the one state that he had not sojourned to during his presidency (I’ve got 49 down, but am hoping to make it to 50 before turning 50). Obama becomes the fourth president to visit all 50 states, and the first one to do so who was not born in any of them.

Music 101

Wild Horses

Faith has been broken/Tears must be cried/Let’s do some living/After we die

Denoting a best Rolling Stones song is as specious an idea as claiming that there is a world’s most beautiful woman. Rather, just revel in all the greatness. This western-tinged ballad is one of my all-time favorites, off the 1971 album Sticky Fingers, and yet another tune that is at least tangentially about Marianne Faithfull.

Remote Patrol

Barca at Bayern 

FOX Sports 1 2:45 p.m.

Neymar. The Boy from Brazil invades Munich.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, NBA playoffs. Bayern needs to outscore Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar and the gang by at least 4 goals today in Munich if it hopes to advance to the Champions League final on June 6 in the Motherland. Good luck. Barcelona has outscored its last seven opponents, Bayern included, by a 25-0 score.


by John Walters

Starting Five

The Bill who hasn’t had a chance to speak in like, 10 minutes….

1. The B.S. (Coroner’s) Report

Cause of Death: Excessive hubris.

The reason that John Skipper, Bristol’s CEN (Chief Executive Norby), chose not only to not renew Bill Simmons’ contract but also to preemptively announce it four months early and during the NBA playoffs, is simple: The Sports Guy went Rondo on ESPN. He demonstrated — repeatedly — that he is not a team player.

If you read this transcript from last September’s B.S. Report podcast and think that ESPN suspended Simmons for three weeks because he called NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a “liar” (or used the term “bleeping bullbleep” twice), well, that’s the minor part of  his transgression. The major part of Simmons’ transgression is to challenge his employer to censure him.

Challenge accepted.

So then, last Thursday, Simmons appears on the nationally syndicated (and cable-televised) radio show of a high-profile ex-ESPN’er and goes off the reservation again. That told the skippper, Skipper, that Simmons had learned nothing. And that he had zero interest in playing nice (also, I’d love to know if any shows at ESPN attempted to have Simmons on as a guest last Thursday; I wondered this on Thursday morning. It was an obvious call to me).

The mirthful and mischievous Bill that we miss…

The irony here is that in that Dan Patrick interview, Simmons chided Goodell for having the information for four months (not true; do you think that 243-page report was written in one day, Bill? There’s only one person I know who writes that prolifically, and he just got released by ESPN)  and taking no action. And yet that interview gave Skipper all the info he needed to make his decision and he proved not so diffident. He basically terminated Simmons the next morning, 7 a.m. local time, with a call not to Simmons but to his agent.

How’s that for “testicular fortitude?”

The truthers will try to claim that Goodell pulled the strings on this. I disagree. John Skipper runs a huge company with many arms and levers. Yes, part of that operation is a contract with the NFL that is in the billions and keeps hundreds, if not thousands, of Bristolites, employed. If Bill Simmons wants to launch a character attack against the figurehead of the NFL, go ahead — but he better be able to back it up with evidence. Common sense is not evidence.

The other irony here is, as often happens, Simmons’ greatest strengths were also his most obvious flaws. He has strong opinions and a trenchant voice. Also, he’s an unabashed homer for Boston teams. So last Thursday Simmons put on his Patriots homer hat and defended his team while bashing his least favorite person in sports — and again, he had zero evidence and relied instead on his own instincts as to how people behave.

You’re welcome to feel that way. But to express it as the highest-paid talent at a company that reveres itself as the “Worldwide Leader in Sports?” You need more than that weak sauce.

Simmons might not have been re-signed anyway. But that moment sealed it.

2. Betty Is Deady (or soon will be)

Betty Francis: Prognosis Negative

Oops! Spoiler alert.

Another classic episode of Mad Men, this being the penultimate one. As my friend and television enabler, Chris Corbellini, noted last night, “Don had to travel to middle America to find himself after all that time in New York City and L.A. He had to go to the farthest point from those two places.”

Correct. Only three characters followed in last night’s episode: Betty, Don and Pete. Betty gets a death sentence (lung cancer), Don undergoes the sacrament of penance, and Pete gets a resurrection.

It’s the small touches that have always made me fall in love over and over again with Matt Weiner’s show. Such as, “The boys who brought you in called you ‘Mrs. Robinson.'” “I think that was a joke.” Or, “Well, you are ‘The quick brown fox.'”

So much to love here: Betty obsessing about how she’ll look in the casket before she even informs her children that she is dying; Don eyeing the beauty in the lounge chair just as her kids and husband walk up, realizing those days are over; Don being asked to fix the Coke machine after being asked to fix the Coke account; Pete telling his brother, “It feels good and then it doesn’t.” Don, for the second full season in a row, coming clean about his past to a table-full of male peers who will later punish him.

The closing song, an elegy of hope, by the immortal Buddy Holly.

This was just high art, particularly Don’s story arc. Jon Hamm is such an outstanding actor, a fact that gets lost as you gaze into those dreamy eyes. But that final scene — “Don’t waste this” — as he hands the younger version of himself the keys to the Cadillac and then sits at the bus stop is pure art. Don is alone, as he has been shot numerous times in this series, but for the first time he is not lonely.

And don’t you love that Don is finally at peace with himself and with life, but that we know something that Don doesn’t know and that he can’t in this pre-cell phone age: that his ex-wife and the mother of his children is terminally ill (Happy Mother’s Day from all the Weiners!).

The A.V. Club recap. Alan Sepinwall sure picked an inopportune time to go on vacation.

3. LeBrontosaurus Rex*

It only took 26 years, but the Cavs at long last give the Bulls a taste of their own medicine (Ehlo)

With :01 remaining in Game 4 of Cavs-Bulls, LeBron James went Jimmy Chitwood on Dave Blatt’s Norman Dale idea and said, “I’m NOT inbounding the ball. Throw it in to me and let me win the game.” And that’s what happened.

We’re not in Maccabi Tel Aviv any more, Dave.

LeBron now has as many postseason buzzer-beaters (3) as Michael Jordan, although if he had four then Ray Allen wouldn’t be quite as much of a hero in Miami. Gee, that was an awfully Skip Bayless thing of me to write.

I’d type more, but I’m sure Susie B. will cover it in the Comments.

* Okay, it’s Tyrannosaurus Rex or Brontosaurus. So you are correct in saying, “JDubs, you don’t know Jurassic from a hole in the ground.”

4. Walk on the Wild Side

Don’t look down…

The next time you’re in Spain, in the southern Andalusian region near Malaga, why not defy death and hike the El Caminito Del ReyWatch this video and then make that explosion sign with your two hands near your ears.

By the way, there’s a scarier hike in China. We’ll get to that later…

5. Auntie Em! Auntie Em!

Photo by Thomas Zimmerman, taken on Saturday night in western Kansas. Absolutely surreal. Have you ever been to western Kansas? I have. It’s the loneliest place in America. Thanks to @oconnorkyle for the heads up.

Music 101


The sailors say, “Brandy, you’re a fine girl/What a good wife you would be/But my life, my love and my lady, is the sea”

Once upon a time musicians played their own instruments and did not always write navel-gazing songs centering on their riches and their bitches. And their lead singers looked like Paul Stanley without make-up. This is Looking Glass, from New Brunswick, N.J. (not far from this scribe’s ancestral homeland), and the song hit No. 1 in 1972 and made it onto the K-Tel album I once owned. Worth noting: Barry Manilow’s “Mandy” was supposed to be titled “Brandy” but he changed its title following the success of this tune. Songs like this are why I miss (and cherish) the Seventies.

Remote Patrol

Late Show with David Letterman

CBS 11:35 p.m.

I know, I know, but tonight’s guests are Howard Stern and Don Rickles. That’s a lot of abuse.



by John Walters


After being figuratively burned at the stake by we media types yesterday, Brady whirlybirded into Salem

1. Salem Statement

If you had Tom Brady, Salem State and Jim Gray on your list of Moments of the Week back on Monday, please give us a call. The Patriot QB helicoptered into the Mass. campus for a pre-arranged appearance (props to Tom for not canceling) and then fielded questions from Gray, who just refuses to go away.

Meanwhile, The Onion has launched a Patriots-related investigation of their own….

New Jersey governor Chris Christie thinks it’s all overblown ( <—Irony Alert), but New Jersey native Jon Stewart is not so forgiving.

2. Letterman List

Dave really did enjoy that Future Islands performance last year

So the Rolling Stone put out a list of  “David Letterman’s Top 10 Musical Moments ” but, as with so many RS lists of late, it is sorely lacking (Jann….baby….I’m available as a consultant…call me). It’s a decent list (love the Oasis inclusion), but I’m adding a Nigel Tufnel-like 10 more here (ranked in order, beginning with the best):

The Heavy “How Do You Like Me Now?”

“Do it again! Do it again! Do it again!”

James Brown “Get On Up” & More 

The King of Soul, from the inaugural year. Watch when he jumps onto the piano, as Paul looks on.

Beyonce “Halo”

This is Beyonce in her prime, at her very best. She doesn’t need to be bootylicious to demonstrate how talented she is.

“Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Hipster nirvana

U2 “Magnificent”

“A shot of energy right to the spine.” This one is also solid.

The La’s “There She Goes”

Lou Reed & The Blind Boys of Alabama, “Jesus”

Lou Reed is so good in all of his Letterman appearances. Here’s another great one.

Eddie Vedder “Black”

Bonus points for the surprise appearance

Warren Zevon “Lawyers, Guns & Money”

Annie Lennox “No More I Love You’s”

Van Morrison “Whenever God Shines His Light”

From 1989, Van the Man’s first television appearance in 12 years.


3. Gone Golson

Where will Golson land? (hey, that’s restaurant-quality caption writing right there!)

The star-crossed career of Everett Golson at Notre Dame comes to an end, albeit with a degree. The gifted dual-threat QB from South Carolina took the Fighting Irish to the national championship game as a redshirt frosh (Tommy Rees provided an assist). He spent his redshirt sophomore year dodging George Whitfield’s brooms in southern California.

Then, last season, EG was on top of the world and a legitimate Heisman candidate after a 38-0 (or 31-0, whatevs) defeat of Michigan and a 4th-and-18 game-winning TD pass in the rain versus Stanford (nice catch, Ben Koyack). The wheels fell off last November, though, as he looked listless in losses at Arizona State and USC and tossed seven interceptions in four losses that month.

Oh, it was ugly.

Malik Congo takes over in South Bend. The only question is where Golson (and his starting center, Matt Hegarty, a fellow fifth-year who is also departing) is headed.

My friend Brian Hamilton thinks it was a mutually beneficial move. He’s probably right, although I wonder if they just needed couples counseling.

4. 661*

He even took a curtain call afterward (but probably did not field a congratulatory call after the game from Derek Jeter)


Alex Rodriguez belts his 661st career home run, moving past Willie Mays (one day after the Say Hey kid turned 84) and into 4th place on the career list. A-Rod has kept his head down and said all the right things in this, his first month back from a year’s suspension.

The Yankees haven’t feted him, Joe Girardi barely tolerates him (and plays him at DH), but the 39 year-old has kept his head down, done his job and has seven home runs and 18 RBI in the season’s first five weeks. Oh, and the surprising Yankees are in first place (18-11). Now that all the farewell tours and encomia have stopped, they’re just playing baseball. It’s refreshing. It’s just strange that A-Rod (and Mark Teixeira, who has 10 home runs already) are leading the charge. It’s almost as if these Yankees, to crib a line from Sinatra, are Rangers in the Night.

5. Well, He Did Pilot the Ship in Prometheus

Actor Idris Elba petitions for a role in Fast and Furious 8 by breaking a land speed record in a Bentley on a beach in Wales (which is different than beached whales). Elba averaged 180.4 miles per hour doing a “flying mile” and hit a top speed of 186.4 miles. Elba was uninjured but his agent suffered a heart attack (I presume).


Oh Yeah

If the question is, Who was Spandau Ballet before Spandau Ballet, the answer is Roxy Music. Okay, that’s not fair. Bryan Ferry and the gang were far superior, even if they never received their due in their primes. This song was released in 1980 at the advent of the New Wave era.



Game 3: Rockets at Clippers

ESPN 10:30 p.m.

Through nine postseason games, Blake Griffin is posting 25 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists. He can’t believe it, either.

The Clippers will be casting a Paul over James Harden’s hopes to return to the NBA Finals. Get it? Yes, I’m sorry….


by John Walters

Starting Five

1. The Brady Bunch: Tom, John and Jim

Here’s the story

Of a man named Brady

Who was “generally aware” that two Patriots flunkies,

One of whom referred to himself as “the deflator” in a text message last May,

Were deflating footballs on his behalf…

If you read the Wells Report, which is actually quite captivating, it’s difficult to come away with any thoughts other than that these three had a classic criminal relationship: Brady was the buffer, John Jastremski was the go-between, and Jim McNally was the dirty work guy.

Will this “stain” Brady’s legacy? Well, it just shows that he’s a liar. Given the press conference he was made to undergo back in January, he had little choice. If he cops to it then, what does Roger Goodell do 9 or 10 days prior to the Super Bowl? Is it possible that Goodell suspends him for XLIX? If so, if the possibility even exists, then if you’re Brady you lie and you let due process give you time to win a Super Bowl and then you’ll pay the piper later. Which is what he did and is what he will be doing.

Ethical? No. Shrewd? Yes. Move over, Whitey Bulger, there’s a new boss in town.

One interesting aside: If you read the report, it sounds as if Brady lied to Belichick to his face. In retrospect, he probably did BB a favor: this way BB did not need to lie for him publicly. Still, I wonder how BB takes that.

A second interesting aside: There’s an entire section in the Wells Report under the headline, “Vigorous Rubbing.” So read at your own risk…

A third interesting aside: A 30-minute presser four days after the AFC Championship Game. You have to wait until the 6-minute mark until a female reporter asks the Columbo question.

2. Tornighto

I don’t believe this if from yesterday, but tornados at night aren’t very visually compelling

A tornado touches down in Oklahoma after sundown, and in a fitting promo for the new Jurassic Park film, hits a tiger sanctuary. The wondrous beasts are then released into the night. Alas, all were captured without any bizarre “humans being devoured by rogue big cats in the Dust Bowl” stories. Listen, people in Oklahoma are going to die of oxycontin and meth overdoses, not to mention due to severe weather, anyway. Why not change it up a little?

3. Five Amigos

The Top Five Letterman guests, ranked:

1. Bill Murray

2. Tom Hanks

3. Martin Short

4. Jim Carrey

5. Steve Martin*

Last night Martin Short bid his final adieu, as we are now exactly one fortnight away from Dave’s retirement (writing this through tears). Of course, a song was involved.

*Billy Crystal just missed the top five.

4. Joc Of One Trade

His name is Joc Pederson, he’s a rookie centerfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and his last seven hits have all left the ballpark. Peterson, whose dad Stu Pederson played for the Dodgers in 1985, grew up in Palo Alto. He’s about as California as it gets, and he may become the most popular Jewish Dodger –are Dodger Dogs kosher? — since Sandy Koufax.

Pederson, 23, is hitting in the leadoff but already has 9 home runs.

5. Messi, Messier, Messiest

Just call him The Greatest

Barcelona defeats Bayern 3-0 as Lionel Messi scores two goals, one of them a filthy break-your-ankles move on Jerome Boateng. Barca wins first leg of Champions League semifinal. If Bayern wants to play in the final, which will be played in Berlin, they’ll have to win by at least three goals next week and hold Barca to zero, or win by more than 3 goals no matter what Barca scores.

Tall order, considering Barca has outscored last six opponents 23-0.

Music 101

Turn! Turn! Turn!

And a time/For every purpose/Under Heaven

The quintessential Sixties song, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve posted The Seekers’ version, but as you know this song is from (but not for) The Byrds. The song was actually written by Pete Seeger in the late 1950s, although he basically plagiarized the Book of Ecclesiastes. I keep waiting for God to take Seeger to court.

p.s. The Seekers were the first Australian pop act to hit big on our shores. They’re from Melbourne.


Remote Patrol

NHL Sweeps Week

NBC Sports  7 p.m.

The Lightning, who host the Canadiens, are up 3-0. The Black Hawks, who are also up 3-0, visit Minnesota. One Original Six member down, one Original Six member up.