IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters 

Tweet du Jour


Hyper Lynx (p.s. Nature is AMAZING)

Starting Five

The Great Banks Robbery

Maybe it happened so long ago that you do not recall: 10 years ago this September began a massive Wall Street downward spiral that was precipitated by the naked greed of mortgage  companies and BIG BANKS with the complicit acquiescence of federal regulators. It was the worst financial event since the Great Depression and it caused a few of us to become adept at asking “May I take your order?” while the very men who lit the fire took a $20 billion helping hand from Uncle Sam.

Oh, the bankers were very contrite but no one lost their home in Amagansett or Bridgehampton. Heavens, no. In the wake of this awful event Congress passed Dodd Frank, a measure aimed at protecting investment banks from their avarice, Andrew Ross Sorkin wrote Too Big To Fail, and American filmgoers got one fantastic, shoulda-won-Best-Picture film, The Big Short (based on the book by Michael Lewis).

And then a funny thing happened. The economy took off, the Dow Jones nearly QUADRUPLED in value (read that again), Sorkin created a popular Showtime series called Billions that basks in the glow of the post-subprime trough of wealth and only yesterday stories came out showing that U.S. banks had recorded record quarterly profits for the first quarter of 2018.

But also yesterday: news that Congress will soon pass the repeal of most of Dodd-Frank and that President MAGA will sign it. With Wall Street, too much is never enough. The Big Short II should be a good movie, though.

2. This Isn’t Basketball

No one is better at exploiting refs than James Harden, who for some reason here is hooking Stephen Curry as he drives past him

While much of Twitter was agog over Draymond Green being rejected on a dunk by the rim or by the fact that Kevin Durant passed up a final shot and the chance to be the hero, this scribe once more found himself turning away from Rockets-Dubs after every few plays because once again the quality of play just sucked.

The players don’t suck; they’re phenomenally gifted. The NBA has never seen more talented shooters or more sublime physical specimens than it now has. But they travel on nearly every play. They hold each other (off-ball defending) on nearly every play. Screeners behave like offensive tackles, moving defenders out of the way (I noticed screeners holding their forearms up at throat level last night). Dribblers palm the ball on nearly every play.

Resonant

Props to The Big Lead’s Bobby Burack for calling out the fact that the NBA has become a cult of personality and that the emperor is actually wearing no jersey right now, but it’s about more than the blowout scores in these playoffs or the incessantly childish MJ vs. LeBron debates. It’s about the fact that what we’re seeing out there right now only bares a passing resemblance to basketball.

Back in the Seventies, when we were growing up and before political correctness was discovered, we LOVED basketball. We’d play every single afternoon and if there was no one to play with, we’d play an entire full court game ourselves at a local church, pretending to be all 10 of the NBA stars on the court (and we knew all of them). We could go from mimicking Jamal Wilkes bizarre jumper to doing Kareem’s sky hook.


During that same time, when we saw people playing basketball in the manner you’re watching right now, holding on defense or taking extra steps, we called it “Jungle Ball.” Go ahead and tsk tsk us, but it was the Seventies. Still, that was the term and it was meant in a derogatory fashion as if to say, “If you cannot play the game the right way…” (and sure, you may interpret that as, “If you cannot play the game the white way…”, but nowhere does it say that just because you can dunk means you can also defend your opponent as if you’re a linebacker).

Anyway, last October we had the chance to interview the NBA’s new (2nd year) President of League Operations, Bryon Spruell (a fellow Domer and a former Notre Dame team captain in football) for a profile on his life. At the end of the interview we asked him point blank, “Will you PLEASE do something about calling traveling?” He smiled and said they were working on it.

They’re not working hard enough on it. And yes, the NBA is very popular with the male 18-34 demo, and maybe they don’t care that they’re losing people like me. But they are.

One last note: A few seasons ago the Warriors ushered in the most beautiful style of offensive hoops we’d ever seen. The best since Magic started passing the ball around like a wizard in the early Eighties. And our theory is that gradually the NBA figured out that the only way to slow the Warriors down was to hold them as they made their cuts or slid off screens. This grab-ass defense is the league’s response to Golden State’s unstoppable offense. And the refs are just too unwilling to whistle a foul on every play.

3. False Flag Operation

The NFL is actually mulling a rule change that would make it a 15-yard penalty, to be imposed on the kickoff, for a team whose members kneel during the national anthem. We assume Roger Goodell and his Wealthy Old White Zombies Association (WOWZA) believe this would be an offensive penalty.

In related news, Johnny Manziel signed a free agent contract with a CFL team while Colin Kaepernick is probably still working out at Chelsea Piers.

Okay, we’ve already editorialized way too much this morning, but here’s the thing about old, rich billionaires: it’s not enough to get their way, they have to thumb everyone who dares oppose them into submission (hello, Iraq War), even when that face-down-position-knee-to-the-neck hold they put on you works to their own detriment. If they had just let this go the “movement” would have quickly subsided.


But, by drawing this line in the sand, by telling players that we will not only control what you do, but how you behave in our luxurious stadiums (paid for by taxpayer money), they’ve simply given the fire more oxygen. They’re almost daring the players to revolt against them in order to show them who’s boss. Have they seen the Planet of the Apes films? Don’t they know how this ends?

Here’s hoping players from both teams take a knee, and that a prominent quarterback or two, even a coach, joins them. Taking a knee, in this environment, is the best way to say that you love this country, because it is an homage to the very civil disobedience against unscrupulous authoritarian rule on which this very country was founded.

White people have such a short memory. Sad!

4. When Metaphors Show Up On Your Lawn

Outside the White House, a sink hole.

5. When Shera Met Donald

The problem with President Trump is that, among other things, he keeps cutting himself with Occam’s Razor. Which of these two scenarios is more probable/plausible:

A) California billionaire Elliott Broidy impregnates a former Playboy playmate, Shera Bechard, and pays her off to keep silent and to get an abortion, but instead of simply doing that, he has the money wired to her through a New York-based fixer of zero repute and pays her $1.6 million in eight $200,000 installments because no one knows who she is and no one knows who he is, and no one cares, so he’d want to keep this quiet, or….

B) California billionaire Elliott Broidy has a deal contingent with a pair of Middle East countries that could net him more than $600 million if he can demonstrate to them that he has Donald Trump’s ear. And just one day before he meets with Donald Trump (December 2, 2017) to close that deal, the president’s fixer offers him a tit-for-tat (“Sure, we’ll work with you, but you gotta take the fall if news of this payout to Shera Bechard ever goes public”).

Considering Trump’s well-known penchant for adultery and porn stars or Playmates, we’re going to go with Option B. As laid out here.

Music 101 

Landslide

Released in 1975, this song was written by Stevie Nicks in a living room in Aspen, Colorado, as she looked out at the Rocky Mountains (Is that why it sounds so much like a John Denver tune?) and contemplated whether she should return to school or keep scuffing at this musical partnership she had formed with guitarist Lindsey Buckingham. The duo soon after joined Fleetwood Mac, put this song on their first album together (Fleetwood Mac) and after nine albums that did little, that album produced three Top 20 singles—none of which were this song.

Remote Patrol

The Thin Man

8 p.m. TCM

Every TV or film whodunnit comedy featuring a his-and-her sleuthing team—Moonlighting, Hart To Hart, Castle, etc.—they all took their cue from this fantastic 1934 film starring William Powell and Myrna Loy. You’ll see a lot of Roger Sterling (to be clear, John Slattery borrowed from Powell) in Powell’s portrayal of Nick Charles (this is a man who in real life was married to Carole Lombard and later engaged to Jean Harlow, two of the three or four most beautiful actresses of the ’30s [we did not forget you, Marlene Dietrich]). This film is effortlessly witty and fun, plus a decent mystery, and if you look closely, you’ll see the tall, dashing actor who would later play The Joker on the Sixties Batman TV series.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet du Jour


The life of a college football coach. Former head coach at the University of Montana, now an offensive analyst at Oklahoma State.

Starting Five

Spring Awakening

Say what you will about LeBron James (and one of our readers will surely say plenty), but at age 33 he is arguably having the best postseason of his career and now has the Cavs in a best-of-3 versus the Celtics to advance to the NBA Finals. Last night he put up 44 in a Game 4 win.

Check the numbers.

LeBron, 2018: 33.7 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 9.0 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.1 blocks.

LeBron, 2009: 35.3 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 7.2 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.9 blocks.

He does have nearly twice as many turnovers per game this postseason, but he has been tremendous.


Meanwhile, how great is that?

2. Burning Through His Savings

The Eagle Creek fire

A judge in Oregon has ordered the 15 year-old minor who started last year’s Eagle Creek fire, which burned 48,000 acres of land in the Pacific Northwest, to pay a fine of $36,000,000. No joke.

The teen inadvertently started the blaze when he threw a firecracker in the woods, which is all kinds of stupid. But maybe they should have imposed a lighter fine, like cutting off the arm with which he tossed the incendiary stick. Either way, he’s willing to pick up any extra shifts at Panera all summer.

MH staffers checked the archives for the harshest punishment a teen has ever endured and the best we could come up with is when Richie Cunningham was “grounded for life” by Mr. C for taking dad’s car.

3. Deaths In America, 2018

We just thought we’d update you on dangers, real and imagined. All of these fatality statistics are for the current year, as up to date as we can make them:

By SHARK: ……………………………………………….0

By GRIZZLY BEAR…………………………………….0

By RATTLESNAKE…………………………………….1

By GUNS……………………………………………………5,531

By OPIOIDs………………………………………………. > 16,000

Of course we would not be responsible journalists if we failed to disclose the details of that rattlesnake fatality that occurred on Sunday, April 29. Barry Lester and his wife were driving some Oklahoma back roads to on their way to Keystone Lake to celebrate his 57th birthday. Lester spotted a timber rattler in the road and stopped to remove it.

Bad idea. When he picked up the snake, it bit him on his left hand. Then Lester moved the snake to his other hand, and it bit him on his right hand. He died on the way to the hospital.

And so, with one fatal rattlesnake bite every four months in the U.S.A., it’s easy to understand why states such as Texas and Oklahoma are well-known for their rattlesnake roundups. But with 5,500 gun fatalities in the same amount of time, GET YOUR FILTHY HANDS OFF MY GUN YOU ELITIST SNOWFLAKE!

4. Brandi, Show Us Your Bust

No, not that bust. The one they molded of you for your induction into the Bay Area Sports Hall Of Fame (BASHOF). Wow.

 

5. Don’t Ask, Don’t 

They won’t allow gays in the military but they will allow this every spring. Yesterday at the Naval Academy they conducted the Herndon Climb, the scaling of a 21-foot obelisk on post that officially signals the end of plebe year, as they have every year since 1959. Plebe Shawn Chapman got to be man on tap and it only took 2 hours and 9 minutes an 23 seconds to do so.

Mike Pence recommends conversion therapy.

(Related: Does the Naval Academy need a few more African-American plebes? We bet they could cut this record in half.)

Reserves

CHK, Mate

Our semi-frequent update on how Chesapeake Energy (CHK) is the most worthwhile yo-yo stock worth tracking (worth fracking?).

Price of CHK on May 3: $2.87

Price of CHK this morning: $4.75

That’s a 66% jump in less than three weeks. We regret to say we only took small advantage of this precipitous climb. But there will be a next time. There always is with CHK.

Music 101

Walking With A Ghost

Calgary-born twins Tegan and Sara Quin are better known simply as Tegan and Sara. This 2004 album was later covered by White Stripes.

Remote Patrol

Rockets at Warriors, Game 4

9 p.m. TNT

Steph returned to form with a 35-point Game 3

13. 22. 41. It’s like watching one tennis match take place on two different courts. Or a horse race between two races on concentric tracks. The gaps in the final scores keep widening like a Kilauea fissure.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

1. Art, Teacher

Houston police chief Art Acevado had some blunt words about “thoughts and prayer” in the wake of the murders of 10 people in an art class at Santa Fe (Texas) High School on Friday.

“I know some have strong feelings about gun rights but I want you to know I’ve hit rock bottom and I am not interested in your views as it pertains to this issue,” Acevedo wrote in a Facebook post. “Please do not post anything about guns aren’t the problem and there’s little we can do.”

Acevado singled out “the elected officials that ran to the cameras today, acted in a solemn manner, called for prayers, and will once again do absolutely nothing.”

I will continue to speak up and will stand up for what my heart and my God commands me to do, and I assure you he hasn’t instructed me to believe that gun rights are bestowed by him.”

By the way, has anyone noticed that when a white male teen massacres his classmates, he is “mentally ill” but that when a Muslim man kills a white man, he is “an evil doer.” I guess white kids cannot be evil? Is that it?

2. Bravery

  This is Italian actress Asia Argento and this could not have been easy to do.

3. My Kinda Lava

In Hawaii, on the Big Island, another fissure opens and sends plumes of lava skyward and then into the Pacific Ocean. Nature continues to amaze. Of course your news networks still cover this solely as a “danger to humans” story, as if, Boy, wouldn’t it be great if volcanoes did no erupt? as opposed to basking in the wonder of it all, or bothering to explain why volcanoes erupt (Because God wants them to, of course, or To punish evil-doers).

And so we return to the hubris of man based on some stories repeated around campfires a few millennia back that took on the power of dogma and have forever doomed man to thinking that, even if the earth does revolve around the sun (an admission man only came around to making a few hundred years ago), everything else still revolves around man.

It doesn’t. Get over yourselves.

4. Finally, Some Good Animal News

In Chad’s Zakouma National Park, the elephant population is making a comeback. The population had been reduced from 4,000 elephants more than a decade ago to some 400 as poachers massacred elephants for ivory and even killed seven rangers who were there to protect the magnificent beasts. Now Chad’s president, Idriss Deby, has rededicated efforts to protect them and the population is back up over 1,000.

Also, the black rhino, which had been rendered extinct in Chad, has been reintroduced there. These are where Nobel Peace Prizes should be awarded, not to tiny-fingered, orange-faced tyrants.

By the way, you may find this extremely difficult to believe, but do you want to know what the major threat to the continued existence of these incredible creatures is, besides man himself? If you answered GUNS, you are correct.

5. Viva Las Vegas

The Golden Knights of Las Vegas, who did not exist one year ago, have advanced to the Stanley Cup finals where they just might meet the Tampa Bay Lightning. Las Vegas is a city where you are far more likely to spot ICE than ice, but this is where we are at.

If you’re scoring at home, the Toronto Maple Leafs last advanced to the Stanley Cup finals in 1967.

Reserves

And Not

Not that you care, but we are watching the entire series of The West Wing for the first time (we’d seen scrambled episodes here and there before). This scene that we watched over the weekend is just loaded with outstanding writing and while Richard Schiff’s Toby is written as your least favorite character among the main ones (at least he’s mine), there’s no mistaking what a true pro he is.

After this moment, and I cannot find it on YouTube, Martin Sheen’s Jed Bartlet goes off on how important it is that they stress education, that being an “elite” does not make you a feckless wank but how education is the door through which all the disenfranchised and poor must walk in order to get ahead, or get their family ahead. I believe some members of the GOP heard this rant and immediately designed a defense plan against such a happening, and here we have Orange Alert as our president.

Music 101

When Will I Be Loved

The year 1960 had a number of hits whose titles you may know better as a release from another artist (for instance, did you know that in that year Neil Sedaka had a big hit with a song titled “Stairway To Heaven”?). The Everly Brothers had a No. 8 hit with this tune in 1960 but 15 years later Linda Ronstadt rocked it a little harder and took it to No. 2 (she also had a hit a few years later with a cover of The Hollies “Can’t Let Go” ). What a powerful voice she had, no?

Remote Patrol

Casablanca 

10:15 p.m. TCM

Cav-ablanca

8:30 p.m. ESPN

If you’re, say, under the age of 40 (or under the age of dead) and you still have never seen Casablanca, do yourself (and the rest of us) a favor. Next thing you know, you may just realize that the world did not begin in 1980. Who knows? You may start running “Greatest 2-Sport Athlete” lists on your blog without putting in an “-after 1960” qualifier because, you know, having to go back and look stuff up is hard.

Hepburn, left; Babe looking on, right

By the way, there was film on TCM Saturday night called Pat and Mike that starred Kathryn Hepburn as a woman’s golfer (she did her own stunts; Kate was a magnificent athlete, too) and there’s an entire 10 minutes devoted to a match play championship between her character and the real-life, playing herself, Babe Zaharias.

Weird-Ass Reasons For Why School Shootings Have Become Epidemic

by John Walters

Things I decided to say here so as not to subject it to Twitter followers. I’m just firing off these ideas in any old random way, as if my brain has a bump stock. Comment as you will.

The first and MOST IMPORTANT thing to remember in all of this: guns are the instrument, they are not the causation. I’m all for making guns far more difficult to obtain for persons under age 25 (and completely off-limits to anyone under 21), but guns are not the cause of the epidemic. They simply facilitate it.

Second: I’m 51. A younger person reading this may roll his or her eyes and shoot a GOML, but I’m willing to listen to them if they’re willing to listen to me. Being older doesn’t necessarily make you dumber. In some bizarre and remote cultures, older people are actually considered wise. So, to commence:

1. The Death of Community: In schools, in neighborhoods, everywhere. When  a sense of community dies, individuals get left behind. First, they get lonely. Some get angry. And many no longer feel accountable to anyone else because they really don’t believe that anyone cares about them. Which leads to how community dies…

2. Let’s Begin With Your Smartphone and Your Earbuds: How many young people do you encounter who are just completely disengaged from the actual world in which they are taking part? I’m not blaming them; this is the technological world into which they were raised (in my era, our parents yelled at us for watching too much television).

Still, wearing ear buds more often than not or checking your smart phone when dining out with your family, as just one example, is yet another opportunity to build community that is lost. And finding “community” on line is no substitute for real community.

3. The Internet Has Made America One Big High School: Thirty years ago you cared about maybe being popular inside your high school. Now you post selfies of yourself on Instagram and crave a greater level of fame. It’s almost as if fame, or infamy, is the only satisfaction that will do.

4. The Internet Has Made Us All Narcissists: We’re far more interested in being praised or at least respected on line than we are by our physical neighbors. Again, a disconnect between humanity/reality and what we experience online.

5. The Amazon-ing of Things: You don’t have to go anywhere to get what you want, and you don’t have to have anything except exactly what you already know that you like. Americans, more than any other culture, live a Burger King (“Have it your way”) life style. That’s capitalism doing its job, but the residual effects are a more isolated, more insulated, more spoiled and far more arrogant culture.

We don’t share. We don’t play well with others. We quit if things don’t go our way right away. We care less about doing what’s right than about doing what we want. We’re frankly more selfish and far less compassionate. Again, the destruction of any sense of community.

6. Music: Oh, man, I really do feel old even suggesting this and I’m not even taking aim at rap and hip-hop. What I am suggesting is that music SUCKS now. I mean, the 10th-worst band of my childhood would be headlining any summer festival these days. Jack White (whom I love) is gonna clean up this summer but I guarantee-damn-tee you he doesn’t have one song off his new album that anyone will be humming to themselves a year from now.

Whatever happened to melodies? Whatever happened to music that wasn’t so self-absorbed?

So, yes, this post may put me into the Troglodyte Hall of Fame. But in my heart I feel that all of the above is true. And if you don’t know me and someone referred you to this post, please understand that I am as opposed to Fox News and all it stands for as anyone. And I’m happy to hear from you about this.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

 

Starting Five

Just The Tip of the Schlossberg

Two days ago Manhattan attorney Aaron Schlossberg went to a nearby eatery to pick up lunch and the next thing everyone knew he became an episode of Black Mirror.

Schlossberg went viral for a plethora of reasons, one of which is that he embodies white male privilege (no one posts videos of black men in Manhattan barking racist or sexist diatribes, but if you live here…). The other is that, as the YouTube search bears out, he has quite the history of hostile encounters with fellow New Yorkers. He’s as much a rageaholic as he is a racist.

And yet yesterday we found ourselves defending him on Twitter. Not what he had to say, but his right to say it. In New York a Dominican-born State Democrat, Adriano Espaillat, filed a grievance (presumably in English) against Schlossberg with the court system. He was joined by the Bronx borough president, a fellow Democrat named Ruben Diaz, Jr.

“We are sending this grievance to say that you cannot engage in xenophobia, bigotry, hate and get away with it,” said Espaillat. “Such behavior should never be tolerated.”

I’m sorry. You can get away with it and you should. Mr. Schlossberg was not speaking in an official capacity. I mean, imagine if he were the president and in an official meeting referred to those two Mexican employees as “animals.” Anyway, dislike what he said if you like, but defend his right to say it.

(We’ve lived in NYC nearly 30 years. Of course Schlossberg overreacts and is a complete jerk here. But as to the central point, he’s correct: you walk on busy NYC sidewalks the same way you drive, which is to say you stay to the right. Doesn’t mean he was justified in behaving like a jerk, but the man posting this video was not observing proper NYC sidewalk etiquette.)

Why? Because the First Amendment is not here to protect you for those times when you utter compliments (“Nice shirt, have you lost weight?”). It’s for when you say things that people, sometimes a majority of people, vehemently disagree with. And if you libel or slander a particular person, the law provides for pay back.

But when you say something that the majority of people within a certain vicinity strongly oppose (Mr. Schlossberg is probably already being asked to be a guest speaker at Liberty University) and based solely on the grounds that they don’t like it, they want to censor you? F___ that.

We understand the immigration (we’re sorry, ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION issue) issue is a third-rail topic. Truth gets lost in all the emotion. As a New Yorker who works daily with Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, I’m proud to work alongside them and more than a little aware of what great co-workers and people almost all of them are. They’re the engine behind any successful restaurant. But I’ll also defend Mr. Schlossberg’s right to be an arrogant and MAGA-esque jerk.

This is America.

2. Mike Trout Is Baseball’s Yanni/Laurel

Yesterday afternoon we were scrolling through ESPN mobile on our phone to see what time the Yankees would play (they didn’t??? That’s 4 straight nights without a final score?) when we came upon this headline that incited an involuntary shudder: “Mike Trout Is On Pace For the Greatest Season In MLB History.”

But then we read that Trout went 0-4 last night and is mired in an 0-fer-19 slump, the longest hitless streak in his career.

So which is it: Yanni? Or Laurel?

FWIW: Trout is batting .290 and is not in the A.L. top five in home runs, RBI or batting average. He is not having the greatest season in Angel history, much less MLB, and you may argue that teammate Shohei Ohtani is having a better season. So what does this say about the WAR stat?

3. “$885?? (Low Whistle)”

The French recently passed a law in which people may now be fined as much as $885 for wolf-whistling at or cat-calling members of either sex on the street. So be careful how you hail that taxi on the Champs Elysees, mon ami.

Meanwhile, they’re still burning rape victims in India. So, you know…

4. Let’s Go Extinct!

Oh, but that wedding night….

In the United States, fertility rates fell to a record low for a second straight year (alas, not on the UWS, where double-wide strollers are still a scourge). Meanwhile in Italy, an attractive young woman has married herself    

(The “til death do us part” part will be easy, but the fidelity part may be a challenge). It was a good run (and also a horrific one what with the genocide and the impaling and the slavery and the forced circumcisions, etc.), humanity, but I’m all for going extinct and ceding the planet to the wild creatures. A least they’ll take care of it better than we have.

5. Mind The Gap*

*The judges will also accept “Selfie-Assisted Suicide”

In western Australia, a 20 year-old Australian man died when he attempted to take a selfie atop this popular tourist stop, known as The Gap. He slipped and fell 40 meters and was washed out to sea. As you can see below, there is a man-made bridge that juts out from the plateau so that tourists may take wonderful photos, but this young man made the fatal mistake of wanting to make it a little more risky.

Reserves

Okay, I probably shouldn’t go here, but I saw a tweet or two this morning on the Schlossberg Affair and without naming names or providing tweets, I wanted to address it. 

To begin, I think I’m pretty well established here as someone who for nine summers has worked alongside Mexicans and Mexican-Americans (some documented, some not) and that I hold them in the highest regard as co-workers and friends. And here is the reason I say that: because while there are many racists who are doing the “I’m going to call ICE on you!” rant, and while Schlossberg may well likely be one of these people, the illegal immigration issue is not simply one of Racists vs. Non-Racists.

It isn’t. 

The same people who consume a non-stop diet of Chris Hayes/Rachel Maddow/Lawrence O’Donnell (and why didn’t he like Jed Bartlet, his own son, anyway? I love Jed Bartlet, but that may be because we attended the same university) and basically bow their heads whenever the term “Constitution” or “rule of law” is uttered are more than happy to look the other way whenever it is pointed out that people are entering the U.S.A. illegally.

Can you have compassion for them? Of course. Might the laws be relaxed? Certainly. Do Mexican and other Latino migrant workers make this economy go? From everything I’ve read, yes. Is cracking down on illegal immigration just a wet kiss to Dumb White America so that they won’t blame Wealthy White America for eliminating their jobs? Probably.

But with all that said, illegal immigration is still exactly that. As soon as this subject comes up, fierce Constitutionalists and “Rule of Law” types get all weepy and emotional and “They’re separating children from their families!” and if you dare ask why people should be allowed to enter this country illegally, you’re called a “Racist.” 

That’s what the women in this tweet did this morning. And I know for a fact that she lives in one of the wealthiest communities in the U.S.A., one in which I’m certain the population is either White or NBA star/retiree or Movie Mogul. And so I wonder how this issue ever personally affects her. 

It’s totally cool to believe that the immigration laws should be changed. It’s even true that many people believe the racist garbage that Trump spews and support him because of it. But it is possible to want to wade into the illegal immigration issue without being a racist. And the moment people like her decide that you can’t be inquisitive about it without being a racist, all you’re doing is ignoring the issue in favor of an ad homimen attack.

What I’d really love to do is camp out on her front yard until she calls the cops to have me removed, at which point I’ll call her a racist.

Music 101

Popcorn

Gershon Kingsley originally recorded the version you hear above in 1969 on a Moog synthesizer (later popularized by the Moody Blues and Emerson, Lake and Palmer) but three years later a band named Hot Butter came along and turned this into an international hit. No one knows who was in the band Hot Butter, which is probably for the best for everyone involved.

Remote Patrol

The Wolf of Wall Street

7 p.m. FX

We’ll admit, we’ve never seen this, and we’re not especially dying to, and at 4 hours here there’s probably a commercial immediately after every sexist joke, but we thought we’d at least alert you to it.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet du Jour

Starting Five

Eric Gordon poured in 27 points off the bench

The James Gang

James Harden shot just 20% from beyond the arc (3-15) but Stephen Curry was worse, shooting 12.5% from three-point land (1-8) as the Rockets knotted the series with a 127-105 win. Kevin Durant poured in 38.

Curry is now 2-13 from outside the arc in this series. Expect this to be a story line in the long fallow period before Sunday’s Game 3.

2. Wild Kingdom

An animal endemic to Mexico

“You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are,” Donald Trump said during a roundtable discussion with California leaders on sanctuary cities. “These aren’t people, these are animals.”

To be fair to Trump, he was most likely referring to MS-13 members. To be fair to animals, even predators have far more dignity and respect for life than gang bangers.

3. Weary Traveler

With a surname such as Cahill (K-Hill), you should be a dominant pitcher. And at moments in his 10-year big-league career Trevor Cahill has been just that. In 2010 he was an All-Star, had a sub-3.00 ERA, and went 18-8.

Last night we were briefly watching the first inning of the A’s-Red Sox game from the sidewalk outside of Blondie’s (a bar from which we are banned…seriously) when ESPN flashed a quick note about how many consecutive road starts Cahill has lost. We have been unable to verify the number on the WWW, but we think it’s in the thirties.

Anyway, Cahill gave up 3 first-inning runs and was facing Chris Sale and even though he pitched five scoreless after that, Sale doesn’t need that much run support to beat you. The streak continues.

4. Jumpin’ Jack Flash

We loved learning yesterday that the codename given to the mission that would become the inception of the Trump-Russia-Election Meddling (notice we did not write “collusion”) investigation was Crossfire Hurricane.

No lie, we were ruminating on this only last week, as we scoured tunes for “Music 101”, that this is one of the all-time great metaphorical terms in rock ‘n roll history. Totally original. Totally vivid. Just a wonderful job by Mick and Keef.

Tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime is on his side/Yes it is

It’s funny, and maybe it’s just us, but the older we get the more we appreciate the truly original lyrics and metaphors/allusions in rock and pop music: “Crossfire Hurricane.” “Tequila Sunrise.” “Suffragette City.” “Little Red Corvette.”

Anyway, read up here on what Crossfire Hurricane is all about. And here’s hoping the totality of this investigation is code named “When The Whip Comes Down.”

5. Rant

We see this as a musical, the 180-degree rebuttal to Rent. In our version, a middle-aged white attorney fights the noble battle of ridding America’s most diverse city of all languages except, of course, American. Which is totally a language.

Personally, I don’t care what language service employees speak to one another. All I’d ask is that they make eye contact with me and at least pretend to not be annoyed by having to take part in this business transaction as we partake in it (and I’m not just talking about the hookers…for once).

Music 101

Big Bang Baby

In the early to mid- Nineties, when nearly every American band of note was shopping at REI or thrift shops, Stone Temple Pilots turned it up and went glam. God bless ’em. This tune came out in 1996. RIP to Scott Weiland, the greatest rocker/Notre Dame football fan of ’em all (unlike Bon Jovi, he’d stay for the entire game).

Remote Patrol

Evil Genius

Netflix

We finally had the opportunity to dive into this four-part series last night and while it’s not quite Making A Murderer, it’s damn compelling. Basically, it’s an elegy to White Trash America and man is it depressing. And if the words “Pizza Bomber” ever sprang forth from your lips, then you need to watch this. Note well: American criminals are lazy (note how close to the actual home of one of the perpetrators the original crime took place).

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet du Jour


followed by…

Starting Five

1. Stormy (Not Daniels)

At 3 p.m. yesterday the skies overhead in New York City were cerulean blue, the air was warm, and it finally felt like summer. Two hours later, the sky was deep purple and the above was happening. If it does not kill you, nature is totally cool.

Train stoppages turned Grand Central Station into its signature metaphor bnmkl’g bn

2. A Man In Full

Iconic author Tom Wolfe passed away Sunday in New York City at the ripe age of 88. A journalist by trade but a writer deep in  his bones, Wolfe meticulously reported on happenings and/or trends and then spewed forth classics such as The Right Stuff (the nascent U.S. space program), The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (Ken Kesey and the birth of the counter-culture movement) and The Bonfire of the Vanities (Wall Street in the sybaritic Eighties).

If you read nothing else of Wolfe’s, read the closing chapter of The Right Stuff as he describes the crash test pilot Chuck Yeager endures and how he walks away from it as if it were a 20 m.p.h. fender bender.

Here’s Michael Lewis, the natural successor to Wolfe, profiling him three years ago in Vanity Fair.

Note: We were standing on the corner of 57th and Madison, well, it must have been at least two decades ago, when we spotted Wolfe in his vanilla suit standing almost right next to us, also waiting for the light to change. When it did, we walked next to him and said something like, “Mr. Wolfe, I’m only going to bug you until we get to the other side of the street, but I just had to thank you for The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. And The Right Stuff blah blah blah….”

Tom Wolfe could not have been kinder. He turned to me, he shook my hand, and with a smile on his face, he said, “Thank you.”

What we learned last night: Wolfe was actually a talented pitcher who earned a three-day tryout with the New York Giants in the early Fifties.

3. NoKo No Go?

How do you say, “We can’t stand Trump, either” in Korean?

Kim Jong-Un plays his “Two can play at the impetuous, unpredictable tyrant” card last night as North Korea says that if the United States insists on complete unilateral denuclearization as a starting point, that it will not even bother attending their summit in June. Your move, Mad Tweeter!

From The New York Times: “North Korea said Mr. Kim’s government would not give up its nuclear weapons unless Washington removed military threats against his isolated country. Without such assurances, it said Mr. Kim could withdraw from a planned June 12 summit meeting with President Trump in Singapore.

As someone said or wrote earlier this week, “North Korea without nukes is like Saudi Arabia without oil.” We don’t expect Kim (or as Mike Pompeo calls him, “Chairman Un”) to surrender his nukes voluntarily. Or involuntarily. But he will have fun yanking Donald Trump’s chain for awhile.

Hold off on engraving that Nobel peace prize.

4. Bummer Of 42

LeBron James scored 42 points last night—21 in the first quarter—but the We-don’t-like-one-another Cavs fell by 13 points in Game 2 in Boston. The Celtics outscored the Cadaverliers by 14 points in the 3rd quarter to reverse a seven-point halftime deficit.

Jeff Van Gundy on ESPN had a memorable night with a trio of great lines late in the game. First, on a ball boy who is a full-grown man: “We’ve got a guy who’s balding out there sweeping the floor.”

Smith’s push

After the refs wussed out on calling an obvious Flagrant 2 (automatic ejection) on J.R. Smith and instead called a Flagrant 1: “I can’t disagree more with that call.”

On the Cavs folding like a cheap suit late in the game: “The Cavs eyeroll each other more than a couple in a bad marriage.”

5. Tarp On!

As it began raining heavily during the sixth inning of the Yankees-Nationals contest last night, the above tarp was rolled out. Genius! How have we gone all these years without branding on tarps? Turns out the Nats are not the only ones who are making it rain when it rains…

…The Chicago Cubs have figured it out as well. This will be standard in all ball parks except perhaps Tropicana Field within a year.

Reserves

Suns at Number One

Will Talking Stick Arena soon be Marvin’s Room?

The Phoenix Suns, who infamously lost a coin flip in the 1968 NBA Draft to the Milwaukee Bucks—the Suns picked second and landed Neal Walk while the Bucks took a dude named Lew Alcindor—finally won the number one overall pick last night.

Do they take University of Arizona center DeAndre Ayton (owner Robert Sarver is a Tucson guy), Duke power forward/Swiss Army Knife Marvin Bagley III, who grew up in Arizona and led Corona del Sol (Tempe) to a state championship as a freshman in 2015, or 6’8″ White Euro Magic Johnson dude Luka Doncic, who has been coached abroad by new Suns coach Igor Kokoskov?

We honestly have no clue whom the Suns will pick or should pick. We do know that a lot of old ‘ballers prefer Bagley.

Ash Wed Every Day


To paraphrase Friend of the Blog Matt Zemek, there’s no better metaphor for America in 2018.

CHK Update

One of our pet stocks is Chesapeake Energy, an Oklahoma-based natural gas (read: Fracking!) (because the Chesapeake Bay is so close to the Dust Bowl) company we don’t necessarily believe in, but its stock we do believe in. For three years we’ve followed its yo-yo trajectory of up 10%, down 10% with somewhat relative certainty.

In recent months we’ve gotten in whenever it went below $2.85 per share and out after it hit $3.15 per share. Call it what you will, it has worked.

Last week CHK dipped to $2.92, which was still too high for us to jump back in. Then Prez Trump called off the Iran nuke deal, gas prices soared and well, just a week later CHK is trading as we type this at $3.74 per share. That’s a 28% jump in one week. Again, we DID NOT get in. But it woulda been nice. Stay tuned.

Music 101

Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)

A few of George Harrison‘s most popular post-Beatles hits were nothing less than prayers. This 1973 song and “My Sweet Lord” both fit that bill and both were also No. 1 hits. When this tune hit No. 1 in June of 1973 it knocked “My Love” from the top perch, which was rather significant because the artist behind that song was…Paul McCartney.

Remote Patrol

Yankees at Nationals

7 p.m. ESPN

Max is one of two hurlers (the other is Kershaw) who has won three Cy Youngs this century

You can tune in to Dubs-Rockets Game 2 later (9 p.m., TNT), but here’s an interleague contest with a ton of star power: Starters C.C. Sabbath versus Max Scherzer (four Cy Young awards between them), former Rookies of the Year Aaron Judge and Bryce Harper, and perhaps future Rookie of the Year Gleyber Torres.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

We imagine if that were our office we’d have a rather healthy view of ourselves, too. That and the lifetime appointment helps.

You Bettor, You Bettor, You Bet

By a 6-3 margin (the spread was 2 1/2) SCOTUS strikes down the federal ban on gambling, leaving it to states to decide whether or not to legalize it. One more reason to NEVER leave your couch!

2. Golden Statement

This is actually illegal in 14 states

Game 1 between the Warriors and Rockets was only 67 seconds old and already James Harden had forearm shivered Kevin Durant on a drive to the hoop (no whistle, of course). Afterward, Draymond Green was having none of it. As he retrieved the ball to inbound, Harden remained in his way, baiting him, so Green forearmed him to the neck/jaw.

Technical foul.

So what? The Dubs, after a shaky first quarter, tied it before halftime and led by approximately 10 most of the second half in securing a 119-106 victory. Harden got his—41 points—but the Dubs were too deep and too accurate. Durant scored 37 and Klay Thompson 28. Stephen Curry poured in a relatively quiet 18.

Game 2 tomorrow.

3. Follow The Money 

Ivanka at the wailing wall….

–60 dead Palestinians (zero dead Israelis) in clashes at the West Bank as the U.S. moves its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It’s worth noting that the single largest individual contributor to the Republican party is an American Jew named Sheldon Adelson.

…as 40 miles away, dozens of protesters are slaughtered. What in God’s name (literally)?

–Meanwhile in Asia, one day after Donal Trump tweeted about giving a break to China telecom giant ZTE, which had been a target of his tariffs attack, the Chinese government issued a $500 million loan to the Trump organization so that it can build a resort/casino/hotel in Indonesia. You cannot violate the Emoluments Clause any more explicitly than that, but the best a White House spokesperson could do was say, “I’ll have to refer you to the Trump organization.”

It’s not the same degree of depravity (fiscal corruption and treason as compared to genocide), but we’re kind of at the point in the Trump administration that would be like a human rights worker asking about that one rape and murder in Dachau while 4,000 other camp detainees were gassed to death that week.

4. This Is____Carly Jepsen

We saw this mashup for the first time Saturday night and giggled. FWIW, the “This Is America” video has already garnered 118 million views on YouTube. This parody has had 3 million.

5. Penn State Nixes Outing Club (Keeps Football)

It’s not a bad album cover for your debut

On April 2nd Penn State, citing “activities that exceed the University’s acceptable risk level,” sent a letter to its 98 year-old Outing Club (basically, they go on wilderness excursions) that it was being dissolved. The school also dissolved its Grotto Caving Club and Scuba Club.

Seriously.

The “Go Take A Shower With Jerry Sandusky” Club retains the university’s whole-hearted support, of course.

Music 101

Vindicated

They put out quite a lot of terrific, radio-friendly rock in the summer of ’04: “Take Me Out” by Franz Ferdinand, “Float On” by Modest Mouse, “Maps” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and this tune by Dashboard Confessional. Lead singer Chris Carrabba saw a screening of Spiderman 2 and penned this song in 10 minutes, gave it to the producers (“gave” is used liberally here) and they used it for the closing credits. It’s a winner.

Remote Patrol

Cavs at Celtics, Game 2
8:30 p.m. ESPN

And we still can’t believe Philly preferred Fultz to Tatum in the draft

The Green C’s led by as much as 26 in Game 1 and coasted home most of the final three quarters. I’m going to go ahead and say they won this series when Cleveland was unable to put LeBron and Kyrie alone in a room together and persuade them to settle whatever issues they had. And I know Kyrie’s not playing in this series, but then either is Isaiah Thomas.

Also, at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN comes the NBA Draft Lottery, which is only slightly more rigged than the Golden Globes. Watch as Adam Silver punishes the Phoenix Suns for tanking the final three months of the season (we say 4th pick at best for Phoenix).

 

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Tweet du Jour


 

Starting Five

Green Day

In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, Cleveland took a 7-4 lead and then Boston went Kilauea volcano on their hides, going on a 17-0 run and leading by 18 after one quarter. The Celtcs led by 26, 61-35, at the half and Brad Stevens and the team minus its top two players would hold LeBron to 15 points on the afternoon.

For Game 1, lose the final two words on that shirt

“I have zero level of concern,” saith LeBron: “I didn’t go to college, so it’s not March Madness.”

Was that just a straight-up syllogism or a knock on Boston’s Final Four Fantastic coach?

2. The .700 Club

After an Anemic April, Stanton has been having a Marvelous May

The Yankees, at .500 (9-9) after 18 games, are now at .700 (28-12) after forty. Two weird figures: 1) With Giancarlo Stanton‘s home run in yesterday’s 6-2 victory, New York now has four players with 10 home runs after 40 games: Stanton, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius. No Yankee team has ever done that and no one in baseball has since the ’03 Texas Rangers,

2) Remember our Gregorius chants of last month when he was leading all three Triple Crown categories? The Yankee shortstop has since plummeted and is currently in a 1-34 slump. For as well as he started and as poorly as Stanton did, Didi is now batting .260 an Stanton .252.

3. Hamburger In A Pickle

How did fans of Hamburger SV, a soccer club that has been part of the Bundesliga, Germany’s top professional league, handle the team’s relegation, which became official on Saturday on the season’s final weekend? You’re looking at it.

Hamburger, based in Hamburg, had been the only club since the formation of the Bundesliga in 1963 that had never suffered relegation (demotion to the second division by finishing so low in top division). In fact, their stadium has a running clock that tells the number of years, days, hours, minutes and seconds that they’ve been in the premier league in Germany. Or had. Now they must play a home-and-home against Holstein Keil of the second division. If they do not win that, they’re headed down.

4. Holy City Embassy

You may want to rethink that trip to Jerusalem: at least for awhile. Today was moving day for the U.S. Embassy in Israel, as Donald Trump keeps yet another foreign policy campaign promise (you have to give him that) by relocating the embassy from Tel Aviv to the Holy City. More than 1,000 Palestinans protested at the border fence in Gaza, which separates the two tiny countries, and Israeli soldiers killed 37 of them.

Jerusalem, under the U.N. charter that recognized Israel as an independent state in 1948, is an international city in that it is not strictly under Israeli control. Both Israelis and Palestinians consider Jerusalem their capital as there are sacred shrines to both religions located therein.

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the creation of the independent stat of Israel, so this is not just a coincidence. Ramadan begins later this week. It’s going to be Kilauea over here, too, and our moving the Embassy to Jerusalem, right or wrong, will be seen as a tremendous snub by Muslims, not that Donald was doing much in the way of being amenable to their concerns before this. Stay tuned for suicide bombings.

5. James Madison High School Graduation

This was our favorite sketch from SNL the past weekend. We especially liked the way they promoted it as if you were headed to a monster truck rally or WWE event.

 

Music 101

Falls Apart

Why didn’t Sugar Ray last? They actually had a number of terrific songs blending different styles (ah, maybe that’s why) from Sublime-style surf punk (“Fly”) to Jack Johnson-y beach mellow (“Someday”) and a lead singer who looked as if he could and would steal your girlfriend during the guitar solo (I’m not the first to suggest Mark McGrath is just a better-looking version of Ethan Hawk) and he could sing. I’m sure there are reasons this late ’90’s SoCal band dissolved and far too soon, but they did release some memorable tunes. This is our favorite.

Remote Patrol

NBA (Western Conference) Finals

Rockets at Dubs

9 p.m. TNT

Game 1 in Oakland: The Beardman of Alcatraz

If not the two best teams in the NBA (they are), the Rockets and Warriors are by far the two most entertaining (and this is Reason No. 348 why a 30-for-30 on the 2009-11 OKC Thunder needs to be made, as two players from that team are two of the three best players in this game). Also we love that Mike D’Antoni is maybe, finally, at last getting the credit for creating the atmosphere in which this type of offense is flourishing.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

WIN-nipeg!

J-E-T-S, Jets! Jets! JETS!

The Winnipeg Jets took down the Nashville Predators 5-1 in Game 7 of the Western Conference semis last night and move on to face the Vegas Golden Knights. The last time a Canadian club advanced to the Stanley Cup finals was 2011 (Vancouver).

2. Sad and Sadler


Wherever you stand politically, you have to respect John McCain’s service to the United States, from his 13 years in the U.S. Navy (five years in a North Vietnamese POW camp when he could’ve walked out any day he wanted to) to his 35 years in Congress.

So here we are, as Senator McCain is in the fading twilight, and fellow Republicans are taking the cue from their Supreme Leader (who openly mocked him in July of 2015) and dancing on his grave before the death certificate is signed.

Sadler

Yesterday White House staffer Kelly Sadler mocked McCain’s opposition to Gina Haspel as CIA director by saying, “He’s dying anyway” (she had no idea it would get out) while on Fox Business News an old white man argued that torture works, it worked against McCain, and “that’s why they call him ‘Songbird John.'”

It’s a measure of the people who are cracking wise, not of McCain, these snarky comments.  All we know is the type of people who say such things have never dared risk anything of value, including their lives or values. They’re sheep.

3. Not Fair

Meet Kiyaunta Goodwin. He’s 6’7″, 370 pounds and he’s just finishing eighth grade in Louisville. His feet are size 18. He already has a verbal offer from Georgia. Stay tuned…

4. Combine Nation

Greak Freak II?

So yesterday I opined that there should be an NBA Combine and very soon after I was told,  “There already is.” Oh, well, never mind. Anyway, here are some of the intriguing names who will show up in Chicago May 16-20:

Grayson Allen, Marvin Bagley III, Mo Bamba, Kostas Antetokounmpo (Giannis’ bro, 6’10”), Jalen Brunson, Michael Porter, Jr., Trae Young.

And here’s some of the intriguing names who will not be there:

DeAndre Ayton (declined), Luka Doncic (still playing, Real Madrid), Bonzie Colson (recovering from foot surgery).

I think everyone who attends should be required to play the World’s Longest Game of Horse. Who wouldn’t dig that? Also, a 4-on-4 full court league should spring up, single-elimination style.

5. Don’t Overlook The Overlook

New York City is a hyper-bustling metropolis that can drive anyone insane, but it is also an island of infinite hidden wonders. Case in point, The Overlook, a sports bar on East 44th that we’d never visited. Didn’t know about the front-to-back wall mural of famous cartoon characters who were sketched by the original artists (e.g. Bil Keane, Al Jaffee, Mort Walker, Dik Browne, etc.) Learn more about it here.

Reserves

Brooklyn 9-9 was canceled yesterday after five seasons, and though we never watched it, people say it was funny. This moment alone makes it all worthwhile…

Music 101

Under African Skies

In 1987 New Wave was waning, hair metal was waxing, and Madonna and Michael still ruled the world. Then all of a sudden an old standby, Paul Simon, a legend from two decades earlier, released an album called Graceland that was unlike anything anyone could remember hearing on the radio. Defining the music was silly; it was just just harmonies and rhythms stitched so deep into our cores that it defied categorical rules. That’s Miriam Makeba on vocals and this concert took place in Zimbabwe.

Remote Patrol

Evil Genius 

Netflix

In 2003 outside Pittsburgh a man walked into a bank with a bomb strapped around his neck and demanded cash. He was given some but didn’t get very far. When the police stopped him, he told them that he was a pizza delivery man and that someone had strapped this to his neck, that it was a bomb and it was going to go off. Soon after he told them, it did. What happened and why? We many finally know.