IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

If this pooch hires Sarah Sanders as his press secretary…

Starting Five

Manny San Diegan

What’s Spanish for “Not worth it?” The San Diego Padres just rewarded shortstop Manny Machado with THE LARGEST FREE AGENT CONTRACT IN THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN SPORTS—for now. Ten years and $300 million, but that’s just the figure  Bryce Harper, a more attractive free agent, can lay at his prospective employers’ feet as they, too, explore free agency.


Machado, 26, hit 27 home runs with 107 RBI last season while not finishing in the top 100 in WAR ratings. Moreover, where sabermetrics don’t really venture, Machado has a sullen nature that seem not to make for a jubilant clubhouse. At best, he’s aloof. What have the Padres paid for? A slightly less affable Robinson Cano.

May we please bring these uniforms back to San Diego?

Granted, Cano was five years older when he signed with the Mariners in 2013, but in five seasons he has put together three All-Star campaigns while Seattle has appeared in zero postseason game. Granted also, the Padres have a bounty of hot young prospects. The problem is, Machado has never struck us much as a leader and that is part of what the Padres are paying him to be. A 10-year face of the friar franchise. It’s not fair to attempt to compare him with Tony Gwynn, sure, but can he at least try to be Benito Santiago?

2. He Doth Protest Too Much (> 1,100 Times)

The latest scathing report by the not-failing New York Times is the product of two years of Trumpian tactics of intimidation, pressure and humiliation on those who would dare to investigate him (i.e., do their jobs). Sounds as if somebody watched The Godfather and The Godfather II. And if you don’t think you have time or the stamina to read the entire thing, the NYT even provided a Cliff’s Notes version with four bite-size takeaways.

Flynn, Manafort, Cohen, Papadopoulos, Stone (more to come): This is the man who is actually draining the swamp

You don’t have to read the story, but click on it because the opening photo (not shown here) by Doug Mills is worthy of a Pulitzer. We did read the story, and while it’s easy to get lost in the legal and political jargon, this, like all Trumpian issues, distills down to schoolyard behavior: the class bully, under intense scrutiny by his peers, attempts to turn the tables by publicly accusing them of being the bullies. That’s all any of this is: the best defense is to go on offense.

3. In Haarms’ Way

Purdue won at Indiana’s Assembly Hall for the third time in a row, a first for the Boilermakers, thanks to a late tip-in by 7’3″ Dutch center Matt Haarms. The gang in Bloomington had been yelling “F**k Haarms” most of the second half after he was T’ed up. But he got the last laugh, reaching over a Hoosier defender for the decisive tip-in in the 48-46 win. The Boiler Up crew is now surprisingly in first place in the B1G. Matt Painter is a terrific coach.

Hoosier hotshot frosh Romeo Langford did not even attempt a shot in the second half, which will inspire thousands of “Wherefore Art Thou” tweets…

4. It’s Not That I’m Lazy, I Just Don’t Care

Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of the release of Office Space, and besides Mike Judge and his film never getting their due at the time for its greatness and prescience, he probably deserves a residual from every episode of The Office, both BBC and NBC versions, that appeared later. Damn, it feels good to be a gangster.

No one under the age of 60 has ever sat in a cubicle or worked in an office park or looked at an Excel spread sheet and not seen and/or quoted this film. And who knew Gary Cole was this funny? Here’s The Ringer with an oral history

5. Back To The Salt Mimes

Another late-to-the-game entry, but we really enjoyed this performance by comic magician Matt Edwards on Britain’s Got Talent a few years back. He reminds us a little of Smeagol (and not his alter-ego Gollum) from the Lord Of The Rings films.

You can feel the skepticism from Simon early on. The act takes awhile to build. But eventually Simon, too, is won over.

Edwards made it to the semi-finals, eventually finishing 2nd in the Public Vote.

Music 101

Loves Me Like A Rock

Despite that unfortunate ‘do, Paul Simon served up pop hits for a quarter-century and extended his career another 25 years before finally exiting late last summer (to retirement, not death). This was from an early Seventies appearance on the NYC-based Dick Cavett Show, where the Queens native was a frequent guest. Notice, it’s around 15 years before Graceland and Simon—no dummy—is already surrounding himself with African-American side musicians and backup singers.

So plentiful have the hits been for Simon that you might be surprised to learn that this 1973 tune, not one that fans immediately mention, peaked at No. 2 on the charts.

Remote Patrol

North Carolina at Duke

9 p.m. ESPN

The Heels’ Nassir Little is raw but athletic and gifted. Kind of like a sane version of Vernon Maxwell.

Scalpers are asking in the ‘hood of $2,500 a ticket for tonight’s battle at Cameron Indoor. That’s the Zion Effect, as the Tar Heels (20-5) are not quite the powerhouse that won the national championship just two seasons ago, but they’ll be up for their first of two scheduled meetings with their top-ranked Tobacco Road neighbors (22-2) . Former President Obama will be in attendance, as will good friends of ours who have front row baseline seats.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right


Ad idea: Woman reaches top of pole. Zoom in and she’s grabbing an Arby’s cheddar deluxe.

Starting Five

1. Bye, George

Our first thought upon seeing this iconic photo of George Mendonsa planting one on Greta Friedman in Times Square on V-J Day (August 14, 1945) was, Things sure were a lot less complicated before #MeToo.

Mendonsa died yesterday, two days before his 96th birthday, after falling at the assisted living facility where he lived with his wife of 70 years in Middletown, R.I. The photo of the strangers smooching, shot by Alfred Eisenstadt (four frames in 10 seconds), captures all of the euphoria of World War II ending and The Greatest Generation winning it.

One can argue that, short of writing and adopting the Constitution, helping to defeat Adolf Hitler and also Japan in World War II is the single greatest achievement, without any downside, of this nation. The photo of Mendonsa and Friedman basks in the moment and is the single greatest unstaged photo (unlike the planting of the flag at Iwo Jima) from that war.

2. Great, And Not So Great, Walls

A memory: When I was working for NBC Sports at the 2008 Olympics, and cognizant that my old colleague Grant Wahl was there for SI to cover soccer, I pitched a semi-regular segment called “The Grant Wahl of China” in which Grant would appear and talk about the soccer goings on. Grant was, understandably, all for it. The NBC brass, not so much.

Anyway, one of our takeaways from the border wall debate (and you are free to watch Stephen Miller debate Chris Wallace on Fox News, or Trevor Noah or John Oliver demolish the idea) is how President Trump and his sycophants refer to this as an “invasion.” The Chinese erected their “Great Wall” mostly during the Ming Dynasty (14th to 17th century) to keep out invaders from the East and it was greatly effective. It also helped China become the most reclusive and soul-crushing-to-its-individuals nation on earth. There are few things more hopeless than being a Chinese citizen.

(Will someone with more tech expertise than us do a mashup of this viral moment with the one where Jeb Bush despondently begs, “Please clap?”)

As for our proposed wall, it just seems different to be talking about “invaders” who, should they get through, may be working for you as a housekeeper, lawncare specialist or back-of-the-house kitchen staff off the books. It’s curious how many MAGA fans, including the MAGA master himself, employ these invaders.

3. Jules

Beck Bennett is one of the few SNL cast members of the past 25 years, if not the only one, who was actually more heralded before he joined the cast. Bennett has been, like the other males currently in the cast, a solid but unspectacular performer the past few years (Kate McKinnon is the show’s unchallenged standout). This bit, though, and this character, “Jules, Who Sees Things A Little Differently,” caught our eye. It’s a smarmy version of Stefon, perhaps, but we enjoyed it (video in the hyperlink)

4. Like A Roiling Stone

Facing trial, Roger Stone posts a photo of the judge who will hear his case on Instagram with crosshairs behind her, and then uses the word “hitman” in the first sentence. Later yesterday he formally apologized and blamed the posting on some rando who works for him (Eric? Don Jr?). But Roger understands how the internet works and the horse is out of the barn.

It’s a minor miracle that none of the major players from the media or those investigating this sham of a White House, or that none of those associated with the President Trump, have yet been assassinated. But at this point would it really surprise you? And if we sound over-dramatic, that’s only because in just the past week both Donald Trump and his A-1 patsy, Roger Stone, have not-so-subtly issued a call to arms. It won’t surprise you or me if something terrible happens. Let’s not pretend no one saw it coming or that the agents who encouraged it did not know what they were doing. This is Gotti-style intimidation.

5. Postmodern Jukebox Heroes

Call us late to the party. Guilty. Postmodern Jukebox has apparently been around since 2011 and we’d never heard of them until we were researching the tune for today’s Music 101 below (I’m now girding for an incredulous comment from Susie B.).

Founded by pianist Scott Bradlee (that’s him banging the keys in the videos) out of his Astoria, Queens, apartment, PMJ is a rotating collection of musicians who put a classic (if not classical) touch on contemporary favorites. But to say that is selling them far short. The arrangements are solid and the music videos for “Umbrella” and especially “Don’t Stop Believing” are as good as anything we’ve seen in years (the choreography for the latter is as good as anything in La La Land).

It’s fun. It’s happy. It swings, baby, it really swings! And PMJ’s arrangements of modern tunes demonstrate that a well-written song is timeless (and maybe just maybe sounds better with real instruments and no auto-tune) no matter what style you play it in. Like me, you might just begin to wonder if PMJ’s reimagining of a few of these songs are not superior to the original versions.

And you just have to feel so good for all those parents who sent their kids to Julliard or Berklee or Belmont and wondered if they’d ever do anything with all that musical schooling. Look, ma, I’m doing “Blurred Lines” as a hoe-down!

We went down a PMJ rabbit hole last night and here are our five recommended favorites, ranked, for suggested YouTube binging: 1) Don’t Stop Believin’ 2) Shake It Off 3) Umbrella   4) Blurred Lines 5) (See Below).

PMJ is currently on tour. This is what it should sound like when/if you arrive in heaven.

Music 101

It Wasn’t Me

It doesn’t matter if it’s Shaggy and RikRok or here, Postmodern Jukebox, or even if it were Shaggy and Scooby Doo (I’d listen). Lyrics may offend some, but this is a certifiably classic song. From 2001. The vocalist here is Ariana Savalas and yes, she’s Telly’s daughter. Who loves you, baby? (Stick around for the Carlton Dance).

And for those yearning for original recipe, here’s the original duo performing it in front of Michael Jackson (“You the original banger!”), Elizabeth Taylor and Macauley Culkin.

And yes, the “Shaggy Defense” is now an actual defense and it’s being trotted out daily from certain well-known precincts.

Remote Patrol

Captains Courageous

8 p.m. TCM

Our cousin is a big movie buff. In fact, few buffs are buffier than she when it comes to films. And last weekend she told me that this, Captains Courageous starring Spencer Tracy, is her VERY FAVORITE film. That’s good enough for us. From 1938. Tracy won a Best Actor Oscar for this portrayal.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five

Why Not Ben?

The Oscars are less than one week away and you may have heard that they will not have a host. Our idea: Is it not too late to get TCM host Ben Mankiewicz to host?

Why? Well, the Oscars are an annual celebration of the year’s top achievement in film-making. Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is a 24-7-365 salute to the best films ever put on screen. TCM’s library is not absolutely complete, and of course it skews golden era Hollyood, but the network, which does not air commercials, is the purest channel on TV in term of staying true to its mission (we’re looking at you Food Network, MTV and even ESPN). Mankiewicz, who took over as lead host following the death of Robert Osborne in 2017, is the face of TCM.

Herman Mankiewicz and Orson Welles

In the past year or so, Mankiewicz, 51, has grown comfortable in his role. He’s not a comic, but he has a sharp wit and and sprinkles his sense of humor sparely. A few weeks back he introduced Casablanca and said, “For those of you who are unfamiliar with the plot, a giant shark terrorizes a beach resort town off the coast of Massachusetts.”

Mankiewicz never forgets that the movie is the star, not he. And what a refreshing touch that would be on Oscar night. A host who doesn’t force the movie stars to deliver pizzas or take selfies or sit uncomfortably as they become the punch line of a joke. A host who instead moves proceedings along, is a student and acolyte of the medium (Mankiewicz’s grandfather, Herman, co-wrote Citizen Kane, for which he won an Oscar; his great uncle, Joseph, won two Oscars as a director and writer) and is not there to upstage or embarrass anyone (himself included).

Hollywood people, including movie stars, know and love TCM. My guess is they enjoy the job Mankiewicz does. He’d be a popular host with the live audience and his presence would be a reminder why we’re watching: it’s about the movies.

2. Top-Ranked Cadet

Meet Sarah Zorn. A senior at The Citadel from Burnettown, S.C., Zorn is the first regimental commander at the Charleston military academy in its 176-year history. It was only in 1995 that Shannon Faulkner became the academy’s first female cadet, but Faulkner  dropped out during her nobb year. She would later reveal that people had threatened to kill her parents.

Zorn, a black belt in three disciplines, is on an Army ROTC scholarship. As regimental commander, she is the student leader of the 2,400-student enrollment at The Citadel. The academy, which is affiliated with the Department of Defense but is not funded by the federal government , is less than 10% female.

3. You Don’t Have To Be Andrea Ocasio-Cortez To Oppose Amazon-NYC

Last week Amazon told New York City that it had failed to bend the knee enough in terms of welcoming the online-retail monolith to Queens (the tax subsidies were coming, but there were too many radical leftists making their voices of opposition heard, or so we were told, and Amazon, whose CEO had had enough bad press for one lifetime this month, decided it did not want to inhabit the borough of Archie Bunker and Frank Costanza).

Immediately after the news broke, ordinarily centrist and diplomatic talking heads on CNBC such as David Faber and Andrew Ross Sorkin blasted the deal. As did a couple of friends of mine on our group text chain. The only major voice of opposition I saw in the news was 29 year-old freshman Congresswoman Andrea Ocasio-Cortez, who, although well-meaning (I feel), may be a little fiscally naive and very, very left of the goal posts.

I’ll admit I didn’t understand the issue as well as I might have, but I did know one thing: the voices I heard decrying the move—Faber, Sorkin, the odd friend—are all extremely financially comfortable and are all pro-business at nearly all costs.

I wasn’t sure how to feel and obviously I could stand to learn more about tax revenue, corporate behavior, etc.

Then I read this Op-Ed in The New York Times (just mentioning this newspaper will automatically disqualify the arguments the writer is making, at least for some) by David Leonhart that clarified the issue for me. And reminded me that the people calling NYC stupid for standing up to Amazon have the luxury of not having to, or not caring about, make the choice between integrity and prosperity.

“Sure, Amazon was pitting cities against one another, but this is how the game is played” is just a double-breasted suit and a Tommy gun away from paying protection money so that your small business does not meet with an unfortunate accident. In this case, the New Yorkers opposing Amazon were Robert DeNiro’s bus driver in A Bronx Tale and those in favor were all who care to bathe in the splendor of Chazz Palmientiri’s munificence. He will lend you his Cadillac for a date, after all.

Short-term, New York City lost. Long term, maybe it sent a message to the other middle-class bus drivers that they don’t have to compromise. A little poorer financially, a little less poor in spirit.

4. Broken Record, Then Broken Streak


Wabash sophomore Jack Davidson made his 95th consecutive free throw on Saturday in the first half against Oberlin. That number broke the all-divisions NCAA record for consecutive free throws made. On Davidson’s next free throw attempt, he missed, so the record stands at 95.

Davidson, who scored a game-high 27 points in the 89-76 win, is now averaging 24.6 ppg for his 20-5 Little Giants. He actually missed two free throws Saturday, lowering his season FT % to .930.

By the way, this dude above? That’s Aston Francis of Division III Wheaton (Ill.). He leads all scorers across all three NCAA divisions, averaging 32.4 points per game. Francis had a 54-point effort earlier this season.

5. La Chica Es Loco*

*You may correct us on the grammar if we’re off. 

Last week the New York Post published the funniest story we’ve read this year. The author, above, is Cassie Lane, an Aussie and former WAG who, to her credit, has a taste for putting words on the page. She previously published a piece on the misery of being a WAG.

A few things we enjoy about Cassie’s NYP story: 1) the fact that it features four selfies and one other photo of the author, but no other photos. Did Phil Mushnick ever receive such vanity treatment? 2) the way it appeals to the NYP’s MAGA-centric, semi-literate audience.  The story is billed as a “living hell” but no actual misfortune ever befalls Lane and her boyfriend, and by the way, whose idea was it to take a driving trip through rural Mexico anyway? It’s the THREAT that she FEELS is what she’s writing about. 3) Finally, Cassie casually mentions that she and her beau cut in the gasolina line in front of roughly 80 cars but she explained it away by saying, and I paraphrase, that desperate times call for desperate measures. Gee, I wonder if any Mexicans trying their best to get to the United States can appreciate that feeling.

Music 101

Sugar We’re Goin’ Down

Is there a shorter all-around band than Fall Out Boy? Is anyone from the Chicago-based band tall enough to ride this ride? Although Patrick Stump (aptly named) is the band’s lead singer, bassist Pete Wentz became the band’s cover boy. Wentz attempted to commit suicide shortly before the band’s 2005 debut album was released but then that album, fueled by this critically praised single, went double platinum and FOB earned a Best New Artist Grammy. Was that more than they bargained for?

Remote Patrol

High Noon

8 p.m. TCM

In which Gary Cooper engages in a verbal shootout with Bomani Jones and Pablo Torre, guns them down in the street and departs with Grace Kelly. This plot sounds highly questionable.

The 1952 film, which won four Oscars (including Best Actor for Cooper), is often cited by Geno Auriemma as a study in character. At the time this film was made, Cooper was 50 and Kelly was 22 so she should have at least been nominated for an Oscar for so convincingly Acting Interested.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

 

Starting Five

Donald’s Trump Card

Can you imagine the look on the president’s face the first time someone told him that he had the power to declare a “National Emergency” (“a MAJOR award!”) pretty much at his whim? Since 1976, and don’t ask us why, Congress has ceded this “National Emergency”, um, trump card, to the executive branch.

And when Donald Trump found out about that, he had his unassailable weapon that can come in over the top of any Congressional voting. So, yeah, when a major hurricane ravages Puerto Rico, just declare a National Emergency, right? No, not for that? Mass shootings? Nope, just not feeling it. Climate change? Yeah, no. Someone else’s problem.

A border wall? Presto!

Since 1976 presidents have signed 59 National Emergencies. The difference with this one is that the president only did so as a Hail Mary pass after a 35-day government shutdown and after a bipartisan Congress refused to give him the funding for his wall that he wanted.

This morning in the Rose Garden the president said, “I didn’t need to do this. I just wanted to do it faster.” Doesn’t sound like much of an emergency.

2. No Life On Mars

Significant that on a week in which Chuck Yeager tweeted about how he can’t believe he has reached his 96th birthday (read the final chapter of The Right Stuff and you won’t believe it, either) that the Mars Rover, 15 years old, has been declared on Mars. Sailors fighting in the dance hall/Oh man, look at those cavemen go…


We know what you’re thinking: Does this mean that Matt Damon is dead? No way. Jason Bourne has been in much stickier situations than being stranded on an uninhabited planet.

3. Tomorrow Never Knows

This sounds like someone in the writers’ room at Saturday Night Live came up with this idea as a sketch and someone else said, “Wait. No. That’s too good. Let’s save it for a movie.”

The premise: a young, scuffling musician suffers a head injury and when he comes to he soon realizes that he lives in a world where the Beatles never existed. Yet he still remembers all their songs. Yesterday is our favorite trailer since A Star Is Born and it brims with that cheeky kind of humor you saw in Notting Hill. Kate McKinnon is in it, too. Done.

The film won’t come out until June 28. We’re a little peeved they put the trailer out this early. We’re going to go through the 14 stages of infatuation with it and by the time it’s finally released, well, we’ll probably already be over it.

4. Amagone

Yesterday, after a few New Yorkers declared that Queens already had a famous resident with a history of embarrassing text photos to a paramour-or-less (never change, Carlos Danger), Amazon reversed itself and declared that it would not build a second headquarters in the borough (who’s tracking that package).

From an infrastructure and tax revenue perspective, the politicians and advocates who pushed against Amazon’s migration to Long Island City were either blindingly ignorant or naive. On the other hand, the city’s still able to sell an apartment for $238 million, so it’s not about to go down the tubes.

As a resident of nearly three decades who finds that half the trouble (and 1/3 the cost) of traveling from New York to LA is simply getting to the airport, we never quite understood why Amazon would want to plant itself in the midst of the worst traffic snarl in America. Long Island City?!? So are you gonna take the L.I.E., Northern Boulevard or Queen Boulevard to get to Laguardia or JFK? The BQE?!? Are you kidding me! I mean, there’s an entire Seinfeld episode devoted to the fastest route to JFK.

So from that standpoint, we think Amazon saved itself and its executives a world of hurt. But railing against the company’s arrival as a New Yorker? Dumb.

5. Unicorn Poop*

*The judges never envisioned typing that headline

This ad, from 2015, reminds us partly of those arch Axe Body Spray ads and partly of The Bard character from Something Rotten. But what it really is is an advertisement for the power of advertising. The company Squatty Potty saw sales increase 600% after this ad went viral that year.

We wish this concept had been the focus of a Mad Men episode. You can totally see Ginsberg coming up with this idea, Peggy trying to get her head around it, Don shooting it down because he was really mad at someone with whom he was having an affair and projecting on to Ginsberg, then Joan saying something that made everyone realize maybe it could work, followed by Roger saying he loved the idea. Pete would be the one suffering with hemorrhoids through the episode and taking advantage of the product samples being sent over.

Music 101

Goodbye To Love

Is this really the song to be playing on a post-Valentine’s Day hangover? No one had the silky, creamy voice of Karen Carpenter and no wedding in the early Seventies was allowed to take place without at least one Carpenters song on the play list. This tune came out in the summer of ’72 and reached No. 7 on the charts. Some of the sibling duo’s crazed fans were upset by the fuzz guitar solo in the middle of the song, while critics hail, because of that solo (and the one at the end) that this is possibly the first power ballad.

Remote Patrol

Titanic

8 p.m. TCM

Life Boat

10 p.m. TCM

Abandon ship!!! James Cameron’s modern classic (1997), which won a record-tying 11 Oscars, including Best Picture, is followed by Alfred Hitchcock’s 1944 Best Picture nominee. We’re reading In The Heart Of The Sea at the moment so this lost-at-sea doubleheader couldn’t be more timely.

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five

These photos, of Abigail and of the prime suspect, were taken by Liberty German hours or even minutes before she and Abigail were murdered.

Delphi Murders, Two Years Later

Yes, today is the one-year anniversary of the horrific Parkland shooting in south Florida. But at least there the police nabbed the killer.

Today is also the second anniversary of the discovery of the bodies of two junior high-aged girls on a hiking trail in northwestern Indiana. Their killer still has yet to be apprehended.

On February 14, 2017, the bodies of Liberty German, 14, and Abigail Williams, 13, were discovered just off a hiking trail in Delphi, Indiana. The girls had gone on a hike the afternoon before, a Monday, Presidents’ Day. They were never seen alive again, although a voice can be heard on one of the girls’ cell phones ordering, “Down the hill.”

The two girls’ bodies were found beneath a decaying railroad bridge. Heres’ the Indianapolis Monthly with a powerful account of what happened, what is known, what the police have yet to share, and why two years out, no killer has yet been found.

2. Paulie Walnuts

A federal judge, Amy Berman Jackson, has found that Paul Manafort continually lied to Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel investigation after copping a plea deal. Manafort, 69, is likely going away for the rest of his life to prison. Manafort joins Michael Flynn, Michael Cohen and George Papadopoulos as former Trump aides who lied to investigators about their involvement with Russians or their intermediaries during the 2016 election.

So you have to ask yourself, Why do these men consider the truth worse than a lie, especially when they know that being caught in the lie is only going to make their jail sentence worse? The two most likely explanations: 1) they can’t possibly wrangle a pardon from President Trump if they tell the truth (perhaps because he would be removed from office) or 2) you know what happens to people who expose Vladimir Putin’s corruption?

So Paulie goes away for good, most likely. It was a nice run of scamming and wealth. He must be satisfied that he’s done as much as he can do.

3. Dirty Sanchez

A number of sources are now confirming that Michael Sanchez, the brother of Lauren Sanchez, who is the paramour-or-less in the Jeff Bezos affair, is the one who tipped off AMI and provided the text messages.

To paraphrase the Eagles, “Did he do it for love? Did he do it for money? Did he do it for spite? Did he think he had to, honey?”

Michael Sanchez is reportedly tight with Carter Page and Roger Stone. And also a supporter of Trump, who hates the Washington Post, which Bezos owns. On the other side of it, imagine you’re dating literally the wealthiest man in the world and then your brother comes along and mucks it up. Not cool, Michael. Not cool.

Then again, yeah, adultery isn’t cool either, Jeff. There are no heroes here.

4. Get Behind This

His name is Dave Assman. He lives in Melville, Saskatchewan, and wanted vanity plates for his truck. The DMV said no, that the word might be deemed offensive. He took matters into his own hands, emblazoning his surname on, what else, the vehicle’s rear.

5. Another Night at MSG, Another King *

*The judges will also accept “The Man Who Would Be Kingslayer”

On Tuesday it was a Fox Terrier named King winning the Westminster Kennel Club show.

On Wednesday it was actress Regina King watching as Sixers All-Star Joel Embiid sailed over her head as she sat courtside. And yes, the Knicks lost again.

Reserves

Happy Valentine’s to these two who just can’t take their eyes off one another…

Music 101

Cupid

Seems like an appropriate song for the day, via the legendary voice of Sam Cooke. Listen closely for the sound of an arrow being drawn back, made by a pair of backing vocalists. The song charted at No. 17 in 1961. Three years later, Cooke was dead, from a gunshot wound to the chest. At the time he was wearing only shoes and a sports jacket.

Remote Patrol

Murray State at Austin Peay

9 p.m. ESPN2

Your best chance this month to catch Murray State’s Ja Morant, the most talented college basketball player (23.9 ppg, 10.2 assists) not wearing a Duke jersey this winter.

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right


Ladies, we realize he’s irresistible, but c’mon.

Starting Five

Nuked By Duke

ESPN’s Jimmy Dykes had a good line about the Blue Devils’ sanguine attitude as far as opposing teams wearing black against them (for blackout games) in their own gyms: “It’s their funeral.”

Those words seemed ill-fitting as Louisville led Duke by 23 points after 30 minutes and Blue Devil super frosh Zion Williamson sitting with four fouls. At that point, with the Cardinals up 59-36 at the YUM Center, Dykes said, “It’s over but it’s not over.”

Zion (27 points, 12 boards) returned, the Fighting Ks harassed the ‘ville into a glut of turnovers, and Duke scored the winning free throws with 14 seconds remaining to win, 71-69. Duke outscored Louisville 35-10 over the final 9:58. All but three of Duke’s points were  scored by true freshmen.


Coach K to his squad during a timeout when they trailed big. “I don’t coach losers.” No, he does not. That was the largest comeback (23 points) of his career.

Also, on the earlier ESPN game, Kentucky lost by 2 at home to LSU on a buzzer-beater put-back that should have been disallowed due to goaltending. Dick Vitale and Karl Ravech called that game and I only mention that because V, Ravech, and Ravech’s toupee are the three longest-tenured employees at ESPN.

2. White Like Me

We love an April Fool’s Day-themed issue as much as the next reader, but couldn’t Esquire have waited until April to release it? Meet Ryan Morgan, 17, of West Bend, Wisconsin. He’s been selected because he’s just a typical teenager from a typical American county (that happened to vote 67% in favor of Trump).

If that young lady looks familiar, she went on to play Bailey Quarters on WKRP In Cincinnati

The concept is nothing new for magazines. Newsweek did a series like this back in 1966.

What made this, at least for us, worthy of derision is the tagline on the cover that begins “What It’s Like To Grow Up White…” Just what we needed as a nation. Another story detailing the plight of the great white male.

3. Three-sy Does It

Our Twitter friend and frequent tipster Gene from the Bay Area alerted us to a sweet little stat: The last three number one overall NBA draft picks have combined to make four career three-pointers. Or fewer than Steph Curry or Klay Thompson make in a game and often in a half.

Ben Simmons is 0-14 career from beyond the arc, which is just startling for a dude who plays the 2 or 3, much less a top overall pick. Markelle Fultz is 4-14, all four going in this season. DeAndre Ayton is 0-4.

Three top overall picks, 32 combined career three attempts, four made, or 12.5%.

Of course the most alarming aspect of this is simple: Hasn’t the NBA learned the value of accurate three-point shooting? Will they figure it out after the Warriors win their fourth NBA championship of the past five seasons this June? To be fair, the Houston Rockets and not the Dubs have led the NBA in threes per game in five of the past six seasons and have yet to make the NBA Finals.

Magee is going to own whatever rec league he plays in five years from now

But the Warriors are the vanguard of the prolific threes era. And, much the way ol’ ball coaches in CFB finally came around to the idea that you have to score in order to win, so too are NBA coaches beginning to realize that the game is won outside the arc. Milwaukee and Golden State are both at the top of their respective conferences and are Nos. 2 and 4, respectively, in threes made.

But a Stephen Curry or a Klay Thompson doesn’t come around every year. Or doe he? Fletcher Magee is 6’4″, plays for Wofford and for the second season in a row leads Division I in three-pointers (109). In fact, last weekend he surpassed Duke’s J.J. Redick (a teammate of Simmons and, earlier this season, Fultz) for No. 2 on the all-time list of career three-pointers made in Division I. Magee has now drained 460 career threes and has an outside chance of catching Oakland’s Travis Bader, who has the record with 504.

Will someone draft him, simply as a spot-up sniper? We’ll see. Magee does not appear on any mock drafts that we’ve seen.

4.  High Of The Tiger

In Houston, a few potheads entered an abandoned home to smoke weed. In the garage they found not a bean bag chair but a live tigerDamn, this is some good sh*t. The good news is that the tiger is okay, that the po-po didn’t go Harambe on it, and that it’s already been transferred to a humane habitat about 80 miles north. Thank God for stoners…

5. Of King & Kingpin

Fox on the run

At the 143rd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show King, a wire fox terrier, was named Best In Show.

At Federal District Court in Brooklyn El Chapo, a Mexican drug kingpin, was convicted on all 10 counts against him and now faces life imprisonment.

King was led away on a leash. El Chapo, real name Joaquin Guzman Loera, was led away in handcuffs.

Music 101

We Will Rock You

Our musical brother Randall reminded us earlier this week that there’s no good reason Queen had to make this song a dirge. And not a bad concert opener at that (we saw Queen on this tour and vaguely remember this; we remember Freddie’s leather jacket better).

Remote Patrol

Lawrence of Arabia

8 p.m. TCM

Julie Christie is that way. But stay focused, Omar. That’s your next film.

John, hasn’t this item simply become “What’s my favorite thing on TCM today?” 

It’s Lawrence of A-Freakin’-Rabia. Show a little respect.

Seven Oscar wins, including Best Picture and, for David Lean, a well-deserved Best Director. But, to answer your question, yes. Yes, it has.

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right


Trash league. Maybe this is the latest iteration of the Eurostep, as in “You’re o’stepping all over the court…”

Starting Five

Wall Nuts

Substantive discourse about border security? Nope. All Twitter, and the President, were concerned about last night is who’s crowd was bigger. Donald said he crammed 35,000 MAGA fans into a 6,500-person capacity arena. The El Paso P.D. said no, and it estimated Beto O’Rourke’s throng to be roughly 10,000 to 15,000.

Meanwhile, MAGA fans taking the word of a man who’s lived his entire adult life in a skyscraper on Fifth Avenue over that of El Paso citizens who’ve lived there through two dozen Vern Lundquist visits. I mean…the self-delusion is real.

2. Dem Dems

If you missed it, here was Saturday Night Live‘s “Them Trumps, ” a takeoff on the idea that the President was just as corrupt but this time was black, kind of like the family in Empire.

That’s not really a good segue, other than phonetically, into what this item is about: the already far-too-crowded field of Democratic presidential candidates still nearly a year out from the Iowa caucuses. Thus far: Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Julian Castro, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren and a few more who aren’t even worth noting.

Harris is smart, a former prosecutor, and is in favor of legalizing weed. Has already taken the wind out of pearl-clutchers by saying she smoked, inhaled, and enjoyed.

Exploring and likely to announce: Pete Buttigieg (mayor of South Bend, Afghan War veteran, Harvard-educated, 37 and openly gay), Kirsten Gillibrand, Joe Biden, Beto O’Rourke, Mike Bloomberg.

A top five? Harris, Biden, O’Rourke, Bloomberg (if he runs; unlikely) and our wild card is Buttigieg, mainly because we think Trump just wouldn’t know how to deal with him.

South Bend friends have extolled the virtues of Mayor Pete to us for a few years now. Here comes the national stage.

We’re reminded of those lists of kids who announce that they’re entering the NBA draft when at least 75% of them would be better served by remaining in school.

3. What’s My Scene?

For its annual Hollywood issue, Vanity Fair had a most excellent idea: to explore the 25 most influential film scenes from the past 25 years in film. They nailed most of the big ones (“I drink your milkshake” from There Will Be Blood, the storming of Omaha Beach from Saving Private Ryan, etc.) and, without saying it explicitly, make a bigger point: some scenes surpass the films in which they exist. That is, it’s the scene we remember often, not the film.

Which is fine.

What scenes are missing from the list? The opening scene from Inglourious Basterds (that film has about 3 scenes that might qualify), the “Please, Mr. President” scene from Inside Llewyn Davis, the “Tiny Dancer” scene from Almost Famous, the “Call It” scene from No Country For Old Men, the deposition scene from A Social Network.

Give us yours…

4. Zapping Zapruder

Abraham Zapruder: the man who “shot” John F. Kennedy

We watched Jackie late the other night for the first time (so good, so depressing) and a thought hit us: on that terrible day in Dallas nearly 56 years ago, there must have been a crowd of 500 to 1,000 people in Dealey Plaza (if it had been Donald Trump, he’d have sworn it was 35,000) and yet history shows that only one person, Abraham Zapruder, came away with video footage of the President Kennedy’s assassination. One. Not even any of the news networks (and yes, cable news networks did not yet exist) had it.

That was the most memorable event to take place on American soil in the 20th century, and were it not for one man’s home movie camera, there’d be no footage of it.

Think about where we are today. Almost every person in any crowd is toting a video recorder the size of a pack of cigarettes (and almost no one is toting a pack of cigarettes). What percentage of the crowd would be videotaping such a moment as it happened today? 25%? 50%?

Astounding how much the world changes in half a century. Of course, President William McKinley was fatally shot (he died eight days later of gangrene) in 1901, in Buffalo, and there’s no video footage or camera stills of that event.

5. With A Cameo From Her Husband

Of course Vogue’s “73 Questions” videos are staged to a large degree, but that doesn’t mean they’re always easy to pull off or that, after more than six dozen queries, we can’t glean a little about the true personality/character of the subject. Our favorite folks thus far have been Emma Stone, Saoirse Ronan and now, Gisele Bundchen.

The previous extent of our knowledge of the German-by-way-of-Brazilian supermodel (makes you wonder what her grandfather did, no?), in terms of audio with video, was hearing her complain that her husband’s receivers weren’t very good at catching the football after that second Super Bowl defeat to the Giants. Here, though, she is animated, warm, and refreshingly unguarded. You be the judge.

And yes, we’re wondering where they go next with this series. 73 Questions With Tom Hanks would be fun. Or Larry David (with JB Smoove). Or with the guy who actually asks the questions.

Music 101

Tonight You Belong To Me

On September 18, 1978, the four members of KISS each released a solo album on the same day. For sheer unbridled late Seventies audacity, only Dirk Diggler’s brief foray into the music business and Farrah Fawcett leaving Charlie’s Angels after Season 1 comes close (if you were not alive, Farrah was the BIGGEST THING ON THE PLANET for a brief time).

Anyway, Paul Stanley‘s is our favorite of the four albums, even if Gene’s peaked higher (22, to Paul’s 40) on the Billboard charts and Ace is the only one who had a hit single (“New York Groove” peaked at 13, although most fans don’t realize it’s a cover). Some critics think this was the moment that the band’s nosedive, relatively, began. They’re still out on tour right now. But they never regained the momentum they created from 1975-1978.

Remote Patrol

Night Train To Munich 

4 p.m. TCM

A film released in 1940 telling the story of a Czech inventor and his daughter who are kidnapped by the Gestapo once they storm into Prague. A British agent, disguised as a high-ranking German official, follows and attempts to save them by wooing the daughter. Casablanca (1942) follows directly after at 6 p.m. Remember, both films made and released at the outset of World War II, before anyone knew what the outcome would be. Something to consider as you watch. If you watch. You’re gonna watch, right?

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right


(Take him No. 1. Don’t overthink it).

Speaking of number one overall picks…

Starting Five

Kacey IS The Sunshine Band

At the Grammys, which we missed, Kacey Musgraves (whom we adored for “Follow Your Arrow” a few years back), wins Album Of The Year and Best Country Album for Golden Hour. Also, Childish Gambino wins Record of the Year and Song of the Year (and no, we still cannot tell you the distinction) for “This Is America.”

2. About Bob

More than one year past his last on-air appearance for NBC, for whom he toiled nearly 40 years, Bob Costas revealed to ESPN Outside the Lines the details regarding his exodus from the Peacock. No surprise: it was centered around the 66 year-old broadcasting legend’s willingness to take on tough issues regarding the NFL.

A few items: NBC’s Sunday Night Football, which Costas hosted, was THE No. 1 most-watched prime-time TV program in the nation. Two, Costas has earned 28 Emmys and is, at least to us, the most respected sports broadcaster in the nation. We’ve known Bob well for more than 20 years and we can tell you: for someone who has been famous and rich for nearly two-thirds of his life, he is as down-to-earth as anyone in the business we know. Bob is passionate about sports but also about ideas and pop culture and history and politics. Basically, about everything that makes you want to get up in the morning.

Also, he’d never make it on a “First Take” type program because he actually listens and is more than gracious in conceding a point.

The big point here, though, is that the NFL is a leviathan and woe unto anyone who criticizes them (remember when ESPN backed out, at the last minute, of that concussion investigation?). We’ve told this story before, but it’s a true one: In the days after ESPN signed its most recent, most lucrative TV rights contract with the NFL, then ESPN chief John Skipper reached out to Roger Goodell for an itemization of the terms of the deal, which he did not yet have. Goodell’s two-word response: “Stop whining.”

Maybe Roger was just having a laugh. But that’s the arrogance of the NFL. And every fan validates it.

3. Morons

Mother, daughter, father. Which one of these three did not have sexual relations with the film’s villain? Clue: it’s a trick question.

We watched Abducted In Plain Sight this weekend and sorry, Fyre Festival, but we’ve got a new leader in the clubhouse for most easily duped rubes in a Netflix documentary. Meet the Broberg parents, who allowed neighbor Paul Berchtold, a.k.a. “B”, to kidnap their daughter Jan not once but twice in the early to mid-1970s.

B., on the right, psychologically terrorized this family for years.

That’s really only the beginning and we don’t want to reveal any more only to say that this B fella may be the greatest manipulator of decent but simple people in the service of his own sexual gratification since, well, Joseph Smith. We’re actually questioning why the parents, Jan, and her two sisters would even sit for this documentary. I mean, sure, $$$, but was it worth it?

4. Tough Sledding*

*The judges will also accept, “The Bigger Chill”

While it is not a horror film, Arctic may give you chills (check out the trailer). Starring Mads Mikkelsen as a pilot who is stranded somewhere north of the Arctic Circle. Think Cast Away or The Martian: colder than the first if not the second film. Shot entirely on location in Iceland.

We wondered, Is it better to release such a film in the dead of winter, as they have done, or in the summer months? We think they made the right move.

5. Jack Be Accurate

Wabash sophomore Jack Davidson, a sturdy 6’1″, 170-pounder from Fishers, Ind., went 9-for-9 from the free throw line Saturday night versus Kenyon. Davidson, whose routine is two dribbles and a swish, has now converted 89 consecutive free throws dating back to December. That’s good for the Division III record and places him just five shy of tying the overall NCAA record by Paul Kluxton of Division II Northern Kentucky, set in 2001.

More than a one-trick pony, Davidson averages 25.2 ppg and is shooting .432 from beyond the arc for the Little Giants, who are 19-4.

Burns

Note: Davidson still has a ways to go to tie the overall NCAA consecutive free throws record regardless of gender. In 2017 Monica Burns of Division II Wheeling Jesuit stroked 118 in a row.

Our favorite thing about this record is that it’s really within any player’s reach. It’s all about consistency and reputation. Like a good tee shot.

Music 101 

You Wouldn’t Like Me

About a quarter century too late to appear on MTV’s “120 Minutes,” here come The Beths straight outta Brooklyn Auckland, New Zealand. Easily the greatest Kiwi band since Flight of the Conchords. The foursome, faves of Rolling Stone editors, is currently opening for Death Cab For Cutie (perfect “If You Like This Band…” complement) in Europe, but will hit the States in late March.

Remote Patrol

Dr. Zhivago

Netflix

No, no, no, not Dr. Trivago. It’s not a film about a travel website that aggregates the best deals on hotels. Who told you that? So, we’re deep into the heart of winter, so this Russian epic starring Omar Sharif and Julie Christie fits perfectly into your bleak hibernal mood. Nominated for 10 Oscars, it won five and might’ve won more had it not been up against The Sound Of Music in 1965.

Two Easter Eggs to notice for you David Lean fans (the director, who’d previously done The Bridge On The River Kwai and Lawrence Of Arabia): Sir Alec Guinness is commanding a giant structure that traverses a river and two, the scene in which Omar Sharif gallops off swiftly on horse across an endless expanse of barren terrain.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right


If there’s such a thing as a Secular Saint, then Bill Murray is that person.

Starting Five

When Pecker Picked A Pecker Pic 

The skinny: David Pecker, the head of AMI, which publishes The National Enquirer, came at Amazon founder Jeff Bezos with threats to publish his personal texts to his mistress, Lauren Sanchez, one of which included a phallic photo.


Bezos, instead of crying, “FAKE NUDES,” instead decided to expose the blackmail attempt (and he has emails to back him up).

If you were writing this as a novel, you’d give the villain a name like David Pecker, no? Although I guess one would argue that that’s also a good sobriquet for the dick pic dude.

Of course, that’s just scratching the surface. How did Pecker obtain these text messages (Bezos’ chief investigator, Gavin de Becker, is looking into whether a government agency was enjoined to assist)? Why did Pecker want Bezos’ newspaper, The Washington Post, to stop investigating the death of Jamal Khashoggi? This is like an entire season arc of Homeland or House Of Cards or maybe better yet, Veep or Silicon Valley.


It’s just getting started. Know that the president and Mr. Pecker have worked together in the past on a number of occasions.

2. “No Thank You, Mr. Pecker”

The title of Bezos’ expose was our headline above, which at first glance sounded to us like a  show-stopping number from a pornographic musical. Which got us to thinking: Has there ever been an explicitly pornographic musical (South Pacific?)? And that got us to thinking about titles for such a musical or some of its numbers. Here’s an incomplete list, with a little help from tweep @KurtRoedel:

“Dildo-Re-Mi”

“We’re In The Moneyshot”

“I’m Gonna Wash That ____ Right Outta My Hair”

“A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Scrotum”

“The Lion Schwing”

“The Book Of MoreMan”

There were more but we also know who some of our readers are (Does Seth MacFarlane ever have this problem?)

3. Rondo, Refreshing


There was a time when the Lakers at Celtics, no matter what the month, was the biggest game of the NBA season. The two met up last night in Boston and L.A. cured its No AD post-trade deadline blues in the best manner possible: former Celtic guard Rajon Rondo hit the game winner as time expired for a 129-128 Laker victory.

You may recall that LA lost by 42, the worst defeat of LeBron James’ career, at Indy two nights earlier. They trailed by as many as 18 in the second half last night.

By the way, does anyone else remember that before “Rondo” was an All-Star caliber point guard and Connect Four prodigy that it was a citrus soda?


Also by the way, Russell Westbrook, who has won two of the past three All-Star Game MVP awards, was the 16th overall player (18th, if you count the two captains) selected in last night’s All-Star Game draft. Guess some folks don’t like playing with Russ.

 

4. Are PayDay Loans The Next Subprime Mortgage Crisis?

This week the Trump administration is moving on deregulating the payday loan industray (legal loan-sharking) and you gotta wonder why. One clue: Corey Lewandowski is a paid lobbyist for said industry.

What are payday loans? They allow you to take out a loan, sometimes at an interest rate of as great as 400%, against your next paycheck. So basically if you want money fast you’re willing to pay for its immediacy by agreeing to an exorbitant premium on said loan and using your paycheck as collateral. Thus the death spiral begins, as you’re basically taxing your own paycheck.


(The MH Video Team recommends)

It’s a loser’s game, and there are a few questions: 1) Should the government be involved with protecting financially unsophisticated adults against themselves? 2) What is the state of the common wage in this country that allows more than 14,000 pay day loan centers (basically as ubiquitous as Starbucks) to operate? 3) What is the state of the middle- and lower-class consumer appetite that they cannot wisely manage their own money and instead spend themselves into chronic and inescapable debt? 4) Why would the government take the side of loan sharks over the common worker (oh, I think we know the answer to that one)?

The subprime mortgage crisis happened because the government regulatory committees didn’t do their due diligence in overseeing crap mortgage securities. The securities were crap because the mortgages were crap: people earning $40K per year were buying $500,000 home and being asked to put almost nothing down and then not needing to pay any interest for the first three years. When the mortgage finally started to kick their ass, it was assumed, they’d sell the home because homes are always an appreciable asset.

Until they weren’t. That’s called a bubble. The mortgage brokers knew they were selling customers a product they couldn’t afford but their job wasn’t to get the entire cost of the house, but only to sell the mortgage. The rest was the bank’s problem. And as long as Mortgage Lender A was going to do this dirty business, Mortgage Lender B felt obliged to remain competitive. But they all knew the house of cards was eventually going to crash. They just didn’t care; that was someone else’s mess.

If you or someone you know or love is working at a pay day loan center, you (or they) are complicit. Sorry. Much like the mortgage lender folks, you have to know that abetting the eventual bankruptcy of tens of thousands of Americans who, yes, are too stupid or too desperate to manage their money, is going to crash the system. Are you your brother’s keeper? No, you don’t have to be. But you don’t have to be the serpent in the garden, either. That’s a choice you make.

Either way, payday loans are an evil biz that exploit the working poor and desperate. But don’t worry, very poor or very rich people: when the system crashes, and it will, the financial burden will be placed on the middle class. It always is.

5. Super Bowl MVP


Let’s end the week on a note of altruism and looking out for those of us who are less fortunate. Weird: Before Sunday’s Super Bowl I actually wondered, What if the NFL were to give away like an entire section (or more) of Super Bowl tickets to the homeless, or to disadvantaged children, etc? I mean, what a tremendous look that would be for them and they certainly could afford it?

And I don’t mean nosebleed seats. I’m talking prime seats where the TV cameras could spot these fans. Why wouldn’t you want to do that? And of course the answer is that these billionaire owners didn’t become billionaires by not being greedy.

Music 101

Looking At The Sun

 

In the autumn of 1993, I covered the SEC for Sports Illustrated out of a Birmingham base. And I drove everywhere. Never flew…to Baton Rouge …Lexington …Fayetteville …Columbia…even Gainesville. That was the best way to find hidden Dixie delights, particularly backwoods eateries. Of course, such an odyssey demanded good car tunes, and the first six tracks of Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend album were constantly being played as I rolled through Meridian, Sylacauga and various Decaturs. Good times.

Remote Patrol

Abducted In Plain Sight

Netflix

Bravo, Netflix. You’ve figured out (thanks to Making A Murderer?) that America is obsessed with true crime, the creepier the better. Serial killers rock our world (Ted Bundy Tapes), as do bizarre and unsolved murders (Evil Genius) and then of course, there’s the sexual terrorization of women. That’s your trifecta.

This is the true story of Jan Broberg Felt, who while growing up in Pocatello, Idaho, was twice kidnapped as a young teen—by her neighbor. Broberg Felt has since grown up to be a working actress in Hollywood.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right


“He was ”Mason Jarred'” (dons sunglasses….”YEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!”)

Starting Five

Herring, Northam, Fairfax. All three have appeared in black face at one point.

Virginia Wahoos

What the hell, Virginia?

Your governor, Ralph Northam, apologizes for dressing up in black face as Michael Jackson (too many jokes) and winning a dance contest after he’s pretty sure that he wasn’t in blackface or a KKK hood in his medical school yearbook?

A couple days later your Lieutenant Governor, Justin Fairfax, is accused of sexual assault stemming from a 2004 incident involving a woman who is now a Stanford fellow in politics. Fairfax never donned blackface, as he was born with one.

And then your Attorney General, Mark Herring, not wanting to be left out, preemptively announces that he once donned blackface, in 1980 as an undergrad at UVA, to dress up as rapper Kurtis Blow.

Blackface. Redskins. This state has some appropriation problems (the Washington team trains in suburban Virginia).

“I feel like I’m living in an episode of a Nathaniel Hawthorne novel where people are rushing to judgment, and it feels like if I don’t proclaim judgment right away, it somehow reflects on me,” State Senator J. Chapman Petersen, a Northern Virginia Democrat, told The New York Times. “I think we need to slow down.”

Oddly, we agree with him. Pitchfork Twitter wants everyone who’s ever offended anyone to be fired. Is Pitchfork Twitter even holding down a job?

2. Balaclava Face

This should’ve come from the J. Peterman collection and been a subplot on Seinfeld. Jerry and Larry are probably kicking themselves that they never thought of it. Urban sombrero was easy, but blackface balaclava?

Luxury Italian designer Gucci were selling these for $890 but apparently too many Virginia legislators were ordering them or too many people complained, and now they’ve been taken off the market and off-line. Which means that if you did purchase one before everyone got all butt hurt about facial protection, it’s likely worth five times that on e-Bay right now.

3. B-B-B-B-B-Billionaire

But where do they play beer pong?

We’ve hesitated to enter the fray on Howard Schultz and the 70% marginal tax rate, etc., as we have friends who do exceedingly well for themselves and sometimes when we air our views it creates tension (and then they’ll no longer pay for lunch, and who wants that?).

First of all, Schultz was never going to win this election but the moment he told Andrew Ross Sorkin that he should not be called a billionaire but rather “people of means,” he completely lost me. You’re a billionaire, Howard. Own it. You own most everything else.

For a quick moment: Howard was saying this to the man who created a TV show titled Billions, but you know…


Almost all of us will never earn $10 million in one year (and devoting 90 minutes per day to a pro bono blog isn’t getting us any closer) and fewer still will ever be worth a billion dollars. For this writer, it’s not about jealousy. And it’s not even about taxing the rich excessively (not necessarily in favor of that).

So what’s it about? It’s about thinking, and it’ll always be hypothetical, that if we ever accumulated that much money we’d almost feel shameful about it. We’d want to be like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett (or Gavin Belson) and use our vast resources to help people. And many wealthy people do.

But it’s also about wondering just how much money one person should have while thousands of others go hungry or homeless. Well, they’ve earned it, some of my friends will say. And to a certain point, they have. But past a certain point laws and regulations are put in place by fellow “people of means” that skew the game in favor of the wealthy. And those people want nothing at all to do with the other 99%.

There’s a reason the Hamptons are zoned so that workers literally have to bus themelves in to do things like lawn care and pool cleaning. Or that Blade runs ads on CNBC so that hedge-funders and Wall Street types may fly directly from Manhattan to Easthampton and Bridgehampton between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Saves time, sure. But it’s also a way to never have to deal with the riffraff. They’d rather not know. And they’ve earned enough so that they don’t need to.

People like me ask, “How much is enough?” while people like them look down on us, in that patronizing Get Out “Oh, no, no, no” way because there is no such thing as enough. Enough? That’s funny to them. But you look around and you see films such as There Will Be Blood or Gary Cooper’s Bright Leaf (same idea 50 or so years earlier but with tobacco) or documentaries such as The Queen of Versailles and you realize that even with all that access, so many billionaires are just as miserable as anyone else. Jeff Bezos is getting a divorce.

Of course, most of us say, I’d like to have that money and see if I’d be miserable. The answer is that if you’re miserable at middle class you’d be miserable rich. And if you’re happy rich you’d probably be happy middle class. The things that actually make us happy are having a purpose, having people to love (and who love us), having a loyal pet, developing talents that provide self-esteem and, lastly, a private jet (!).

And at the end of the day the dispossessed, many of whom work just as long hours at less prestigious gigs, have few options outside of violence. That’s not legal, you say. Fine. But a lot of things that the wealthy get away with are only “legal” because the game is rigged in their favor. We got a chuckle the other night when President Trump promised that “America will never be socialist.”

Really? Then what was the great bailout of 2008?

4. Fake News Vs. King Of The Jews

Really needs illustrations…

So we were sitting in church last weekend and we had this crazy thought: How many Evangelicals out there lionize Donald Trump and repeat one of his favorite mantras “Fake News” in one breath and then pick up or quote from the Bible in the next? And the reason we ask that is, Don’t they realize that the Bible is JOURNALISM?

Have they ever sat and realized, ‘Wow, if someone had not written down these events on papyrus as they were occurring, we’d never know about it.’ Man, imagine that. What would these people do on Sunday mornings, and how would they be able to commit their hypocrisies without a historical record to stand behind?

We’re not going quite this far, buuuuut…

Anyway, it was just a thought. The next time an evangelical, or any Christian, hits you with “Fake News,” remind them that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were really the original journalists. And man did they have a whopper of a story to tell (they must have colluded with one another the way the “failing” New York Times and Washington Post do). And yes, we saw that the NYT blew out its revenue numbers in digital this past year.

5. The Daze of the Dolphins

All aquariums are terrible ideas—sorry—but even more so placing one in the middle of the Sonoran desert. This week a fourth dolphin died at Scottsdale’s Dolphinaris, a tourist facility that has only been open two years.

Fish gotta swim. So do certain mammals. Keeping dolphins and whale in aquariums, I don’t care how large, is like asking someone to live their lives in a walk-in closet. It’s cruel and inhumane and I’ll put their welfare over little Billy’s desire to pet one. But that’s me. I’m weird that way.

Dolphinaris is closing temporarily. It needs to close permanently.

Music 101

No More I Love You’s

Man. How many female vocalists heard Annie Lennox crush these vocals and were too despondent to even get out of bed? In the early and mid-Eighties Lennox was only known as the platinum-blonde half of Eurythmics and her vocal range isn’t something folks discussed as if she were, say, the distaff Freddie Mercury. That all changed when she seemingly underwent a metamorphosis (she’s not even blonde anymore!) and released this international hit in 1995.

The song was actually written and released nine years earlier by a British New Wave duo (sound familiar, Annie?) called The Lover Speaks but failed to crack the Top 50 in the US or UK. Lennox’s version went to No. 2 in the UK and No. 23 heere.

Remote Patrol

All About Eve

8 p.m. TCM

“Fasten your seatbelts—it’s going to be a bumpy night.” In Margo Channing, Bette Davis fashioned the most gloriously bitchy, witty and endearing diva Hollywood had yet seen. Also, keep a close eye on the ditzy blonde who shows up at the party that is the hub of the film: that’s a young and already comically gifted Marilyn Monroe (this film ranks 28th on AFI’s Top 100 list).