It was 20 years ago yesterday that, as New York City sweltered under hot and humid temps in the 90s, that I entrenched myself in my apartment with the air-conditioning. Turned to the Yankee game where David Cone was pitching. It was Yogi Berra Day at Yankee Stadium and so they had Don Larsen, who threw the only perfect game in World Series history, toss out the ceremonial first pitch to Yogi. I thought, That’s nice.
So here’s what commenced. Cone would throw a perfect game. Meanwhile, ABC was airing the final round of the British Open where a relatively unknown Frenchman, Jean Van de Velde, took a three-shot lead into the 72nd and final hole of the tournament at Carnoustie. A French golfer had not won a major championship since 1907.
What transpired was perfectly perfect and imperfect. On WPIX Cone was battling against the longest of odds to toss a perfecto, something that happens about once every seven years, statistically, in baseball. In Scotland Van de Velde, needing only a 6 double bogey on the final hole to win, was self-imploding. The juxtaposition of one man overcoming the odds to produce a once-in-a-lifetime performance and the other doing the exact opposite to produce the same result in an infamous fashion, was something I’ll never forget.
Moreover, that very afternoon I was also flipping to CNN for news on JFK, Jr., whose luggage was beginning to wash up on the shores of Martha’s Vineyard. A truly surreal day in front of the TV set.
On the same day in separate New York City courtrooms, Jeffrey Epstein is denied bail while El Chapo is sentenced to life in prison. Next year’s season of Lockup gonna be lit.
Feelin’ You, Aaron Boone
This is me to all the first-year servers at the Cookoutateria this summer. The Yankees swept a doubleheader from the Rays yesterday while the Mets lost in 16 in San Francisco after taking the lead in the top of the 16th. So it goes…
In Death Valley, Japanese runner Yoshihiko Ishikawa sets a course record in the notorious Badwater 135 Ultra, finishing in 21 hours and 33 minutes (the old record was 21 hours and 56 minutes). At the finish line he drops to his knees, partly from exhaustion and partly to propose to his girlfriend. She says yes.
Goodbye, Mr. Chips
10:15 p.m. TCM
Not to be confused with, Ahoy, Mr. Chips.
Robert Donat won a Best Actor Oscar in this film. Jimmy Stewart (Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, which airs at 8 p.m. tonight on TCM) deserved it. The Academy issued its first (of many) major makeup calls by giving Stewart the Best Actor statuette for The Philadelphia Story when his best friend, Henry Fonda, deserved it for The Grapes Of Wrath.
So last night we tuned in to the TCM to watch The Grapes Of Wrath, a 1940 John Ford film based on John Steinbeck’s 1939 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. It’s the story about a group of people who can no longer make a living on their land and are being forcibly evicted from it, so they migrate to a place where there is the promise of jobs only to be harassed by law enforcement officials, to be looked down upon by locals (“they live like animals”).
When it’s harvest time, these migrants are welcomed by farmers. At other times, they are literally met by roadblocks of citizens yelling at them to “go back where you came from!”
After the movie I thought I needed a little more depression than a story of The Great Depression could offer, so I tuned to the cable news where thousands of MAGA minions were reenacting the Nuremberg rallies, only in Greenville, N.C., chanting “Send Her Back!” as a smug and smirking President Trump egged them on.
Eighty years later, and nothing has changed.
Epstein-Barr Virus (Cont.)
Remember when we all used to think that the most dangerous man behind the curtain was Steve Bannon. Or Stephen Miller. Well, this morning a pair of court rulings will go a long way in determining whether that designation belongs to William Barr (I’d argue it already does).
First, in just an hour or two a judge will order documents unsealed that related to the Michael Cohen trial. It’s curious that the folks who wanted the documents to remain sealed was the prosecution, citing third-party “national” interests. The only nationally interested third party in Cohen’s lurid trial of hush money to Trump paramours is Donald Trump, so why did the prosecution suddenly get cold feet on this one? Could it be because the conviction took place BEFORE William Barr became attorney general but the ruling on whether or not these materials go public is now, five months after Barr took the gig (related: the Southern District of New York [SDNY] has failed to follow up on interview requests of Trump Organization employees for five months after first making such requests before Barr took office. Hmm).
Is there still time for the prosecution to use an 11th-hour maneuver to block the release of these materials?
Second, also this morning, a New York judge will rule as to whether Jeffrey Epstein, owner of private jets and a fake Saudi passport, keeper of diamonds in his safe (and probably a false mustache), will be granted bail. If not, Epstein will likely never see another day of freedom the rest of his life. If so, you have to wonder why anyone would ever fail to receive bail and also just who got to the judge who granted it.
McMillen And Life
Former NBA big man and United States senator congressman Tom McMillen has lived a remarkable life. At 6’11”, he’s likely the tallest person ever to be a Rhodes Scholar. Having scored 5,914 points in 11 NBA seasons, he’s the second-most prolific scorer in NBA history to have also served in Congress (answer: Bill Bradley).
McMillen checked Bill Walton in a one-point Maryland defeat to UCLA, the 76th consecutive win for the Bruins in their epic 88-game win streak. He made the cover of Sports Illustrated as a high schooler. And yet, after yesterday, he’s also going to be remembered as that tall, silver-haired man who was hanging out with Jeffrey Epstein and Donald Trump at Mar-A-Lago in 1992. You gotta wonder how many phone calls his people have fielded in the past 24 hours, or how much CBS officials have beseeched his former Maryland teammate, Len Elmore (a CBS broadcaster), to put in a good word so that they can land an exclusive.
This Land Is Oland
The tiny but incredibly green island of Oland, off the northwest coast of Germany and just south of the nation’s shared border with Denmark, boasts 16 permanent residents. Besides having too few citizens to start a regulation soccer match, Oland also boasts Germany’s shortest lighthouse and its only such edifice with a thatched roof.
Related: Whenever the overall vapidness of cnn.com’s website leaves me drenched in depression, I remember that bbc.com exists and it always has more interesting stories.
Netflix And Sell?
We dumped our shares of Netflix (NFLX) about a year ago, once rumblings of bigger-shouldered media giants such as Disney and Amazon were looking into invading the streaming space. Yesterday Netflix (NFLX) announced after-the-bell earnings and while most of the numbers were solid, the company missed on its expected international subscriptions (actual, 2.8 million) by about 40 percent (expected, 4.8 million).
In after-hours trading, NFLX shares have plunged more than Eleven %, from $362 to $322. We’ve seen Stranger Things than this happen to Reed Hastings’ company and its stock price in the past, but you have to wonder whether all of the outside competition, plus the refusal of media conglomerates to continue to lease programming rights to former shows (Friends, The Office), is a two-front war that Netflix simply can’t win.
Remember: Once upon a time there was MySpace. And then Facebook invaded their space. And then there wasn’t a MySpace worth knowing. Same goes for Blackberry. Being first is great, but staying on top is never assured.
When you host your own late-night show, you can ask the musical guest to play the song you want to hear and join them onstage (I’m looking at you, The Proclaimers). Founded by lead singer John Danielle in Claremont, Calif., in 1992, the Mountain Goats originally performed this song about a decade ago on The Colbert Report but it never made air. Last night Stephen made it up to them.
9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Golf Channel
Rory McIlroy, the greatest Irish golfer there ever has been—his four majors are the most of anyone born on the Emerald Isle—has already quadruple-bogeyed the first hole this morning at Royal Portrush. I’m thinking Roger Bennett has already equated it to Kings Landing going down in flames on an exterior set outside Belfast earlier this year.
So here’s convincing and definitive proof that the president has been guilty in the past of employing the white-man overbite…
I’m trying to imagine how many hours of footage unfortunate NBC production assistants had to wade through before finally discovering this. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives voted, in the first rebuke of a sitting president in more than a century, to condemn Trump’s words as “racist” by a vote of 240-187. Only four GOP members broke ranks.
Meanwhile, I truly hope someone at the Democratic National Committee reads this Op-Ed by Thomas Friedman in The New York Times. It’s exactly what I’ve been thinking for the past month and that is, The Dems are putting up such radical left candidates that they’re likely going to blow the 2020 election, too.
There are millions upon millions of Americans who don’t like Trump. But that doesn’t mean the only alternative you give them is someone who doesn’t believe that illegal immigration is illegal, or that no one should have to spend a dime for college (while spending $200 a year for Netflix) other than their bar tab. It’s as if taking a road trip with one other person who tells you right off they refuse to listen to hip-hop and so you say, Okay, find another radio station and they insist on playing death metal.
Find some middle ground, Dems. Damn. How difficult is it?
In the past few weeks I’ve begun to think of the 2020 race as one big Aaron Sorkin play and I’ve wondered how Sorkin would resolve it. And I truly don’t think there’s a current character on the stage, at least not for the Dems, whom Sorkin would reveal as his winner (unless he was writing a tragedy and made it Trump).
I think Sorkin would reveal a worthy nominee, perhaps someone new or perhaps someone we already know, late in the third act. And it would likely be someone who was not onstage in Florida during the June debates.
All I know is that I grew up around a world of sports, and I came to believe in that ecosystem. I believe in the idea of everyone playing by the same rules and that you should succeed based on merit. Neither party seems to want to adhere to those very simple principles, as the GOP abandons the former and the Dems do not espouse the latter.
Is is really that difficult, Dems, to find someone who is both a better candidate than Trump yet isn’t the Oprah Solution (“You get a car, and you get a car, and you get a car!“…just because you happened to be in the audience)?
Quoting Friedman here:
Dear Democrats: This is not complicated! Just nominate a decent, sane person, one committed to reunifying the country and creating more good jobs, a person who can gain the support of the independents, moderate Republicans and suburban women who abandoned Donald Trump in the midterms and thus swung the House of Representatives to the Democrats and could do the same for the presidency.And that candidate can win!
I’m beginning to think, and only because it WOULD work and he IS sane, that Tom Hanks should run for president.
Stroke Of Misfortune
At Sleepy Ridge Golf Course in Orem, Utah, a dad’s errant golf shot strikes his six year-old daughter in the base of the neck and kills her. She was seated in a golf cart on the cart path, so this was quite the errant shot. Of course this is tragic, but if you know golfers, this sounds like the set up to a million punch lines: Titleist? Maybe you should have used a different club? Did you still par the hole? Yes, but what did you shoot for the round?
K-K is Okay (at the WSOP)
We get confused, ESPN. The World Series of Poker’s Main Event used to conclude in mid-July. Then you ran nearly the entire tourney and July but saved the final table for November. Apparently now you’ve reverted to July again?
At some ungodly hour Hossain Ensan, 55, won the WSOP’s $10 million Main Event overnight with a hand that began with a pair of pocket kings. Ensan defeated Dario Sammartino in what had been their 100th hand heads-up and the 301st hand of the final table. In other words, they both wanted to get the hell out of there and go to sleep.
Ensan, who is German but was born in Iran, said as much: “I must go to sleep and wake up, and then maybe I know I have the bracelet.”
This year’s Main Event began with 8,659 players (each of whom paid a $10K buy-in), the second-largest field ever.
Rolling Stone Sells Out (Again)
It was more than a quarter-century ago that Rolling Stone gave Nirvana its first cover and the band’s lead singer, Kurt Cobain, wore a t-shirt to the shoot that read “Corporate Magazines Still Suck.” If you pick up the current issue of Rolling Stone, you’ll see that RS is not even trying to disguise that fact any more. Who got the cover, the front cover, of RS this month? A giant can of Coors Light.
In related news, my corner bodega has devoted one of its two walls to a floor-to-ceiling magazine rack for as long as I’ve lived here (which dates back to about the time that Nirvana RS came out). This week they tore down that wall to renovate the store and I feel fairly confident in saying that it’s not coming back. They may as well replace it with a case for new horseshoes or saddles.
Meanwhile, yes, Andy Staples officially left Sports Illustrated for TheAthletic this week. In the past year the mag has lost its top golf writer, Alan Shipnuck, its top horse racing (and Olympics) writer, Tim Layden, and now its college football guy.
It’s difficult to explain to anyone under, say, 35, but at the time that RS cover above came out, SI was the epicenter of prestige in sportswriting. It’s where everyone in the sportswriting business aspired to be, regardless of salary. No more.
One last item. I remember a meeting early on in my time there when, as a branding idea, someone thought that since everyone always referred to it as “SI” that that is what the cover should read. But that idea was pushed back when it was noted that that’s also Spanish for “yes” and that it might confuse readers. Ha! Seriously, that was a concern. In the current climate that move might have been hailed as both genius and all-inclusive.
Not that it would have forestalled the inevitable. Call me when SI puts a giant Bud Light bottle on the cover and I’ll be the roadside Indian, a single tear running down my cheek.
We didn’t know whether to lead this morning with the “human-sized jellyfish” or with “meth gators,” but since the former have actually been captured on film, that made our decision for us.
Is it real? You betcha.
This is a barrel jellyfish and it was spotted beneath the surface of the English Channel last Saturday. Surprisingly, barrel jellies produce only a mild sting but we’d really like to meet the person who had to find out the hard way that that was the case.
Meet Captains Marvel: freshmen Congresswomen Ayana Pressley (Mass.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), and Rashida Tlaib (Michigan). Yesterday afternoon they stood up to President Trump’s racist barrage of tweets (“Go back to the countries they came from…”) and hateful words (“If anyone is not happy here, they can leave”), and reminded anyone who would listen that this land is your land, but also that this land is my land.
The irony of Trump’s tweets on Sunday is that in suggesting these four women of color “who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world” should go back is that 75% of them were born here and are in fact already doing exactly what he recommends.
Personally, I’m glad the racism is finally out in the open (and that the GOP leadership showed its true colors by staying mum about it). Trump was asked yesterday if he regretted his Sunday tweet outburst and his reply was telling: “No, because a lot of people agree with me.”
The message there? We’re not explicitly racist; we don’t hate black or brown color. They just need to know their place. This is a white country.
Not only is that SO RACIST, but good luck standing in front of a massive wave and telling it to stop just because you don’t like how it changes your standing here. Go ask the Cherokee, Sioux and Navajo how that worked out for them.
John John Gone
It was 20 years ago that John F. Kennedy, Jr., his wife Carolyn Bessette, and her sister Lauren died in a plane crash off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. The trio were headed to a family wedding in Hyannisport in a small plane that John John was piloting. As day turned to night and the haze turned to pea soup, he lost his bearings and the plane plunged into the sea.
A tragic waste of three lives and a weekend in NYC we will never forget. John John did not have any official political standing, but it was almost as if he was NYC’s kid brother who everyone would look out. He was a regular guy who would go roller-blading in Central Park and who just happened to be the most handsome man in the city. He was…nice.
I’ve told this story before, but June 23, 1999, less than a month before his death. I’m in the hallway in the bowels of Madison Square Garden as Game 4 of the NBA Finals has just ended. We are told to stand against the wall so security can usher the VIPs past us. Three men walk past, so close that I can touch them: Woody Allen, Donald Trump and John John. The last was on crutches (he’d hurt his foot or ankle) and accidentally placed his crutch atop my foot as he limped past.
John John looked back and said, “Sorry” to me. Three weeks later, he was gone. He’d be 58 today and no doubt would have a lot to say about what was happening in his father’s old office right now, in the House where he spent the first three years of his life.
By the way, here’s how much the planet has changed in 20 years. No one learned of his death on Twitter or social media. You woke up (it was a Saturday morning when everyone found out) and if you were bored by what was on ESPN, you flipped over to CNN, where you were greeted by footage of the waters of the Long Island Sound on a sunny July day and the chyron at the bottom of the screen that read “JFK., Jr. Plane Missing.” And then you called up at least one person you knew and told them to “turn on CNN.”
That was social media just two decades ago.
Michael Kay Not Okay
Michael Kay talks for a living. Michael Kay talks… a lot. For roughly half the year Kay is the voice of the New York Yankees while also hosting a four-hour sports radio show on NYC’s local ESPN affiliate. Kay, 58, is very good at what he does but those vocal chords of his never get a rest.
Kay recently saw a specialist in Boston who advised that he have vocal cord surgery. He’ll be out about a month. It’s funny that in this season where so many Yankee All-Stars (Judge, Stanton, Severino, Gregorius, Betances, even Sanchez) have been on the IL that both of their vaunted and long-time play-by-play men, Kay and John Sterling, have also missed time.
Meanwhile, last night Rays catcher Travis D’Arnaud had one of the best nights anyone has had in the new Yankee Stadium, hitting three home runs as Tampa Bay beat the Yanks, 5-4. D’arnaud, who hit a walk-off home run against New York less than two weeks ago, hit a go-ahead three-run shot on a 3-2 count with two outs in the night against Aroldis Chapman with Tampa Bay trailing 4-2. It was the first loss the Yanks had suffered when leading after eight innings in FIFTY games this season.
Summer of 51
We’ve been meaning to discuss the Facebook-fueled movement to storm the notoriously secret Area 51 in Nevada. Ordinarily people head to Nevada in the summertime for Burning Man, but apparently that’s not enough any more.
We had the opportunity to drive through a lot of Nevada last summer and we will tell you this: outside of Las Vegas and Reno, it is vast and it is empty. Emp-tee. It’s a state that, outside of those two metropolises, probably has more whorehouses than McDonald’s. Seriously.
If you want to hide anything super-secret from the American public, the Nevada wilderness is the perfect place to do so. We came to a T intersection after driving about 50 miles on one lonesome stretch of highway and wanted to turn left until we saw a sign that warned, “Next fuel stop, 163 miles.” So that made our decision for us.
We’re all in favor of the storming, by the way. What ever could the government be keeping from us? Would it really rock humanity’s foundations that much?
Love (Can Make You Happy)
In the spring of 1969 an unknown vocal group from Florida by the name of Mercy released this tune and it shot all the way to No. 2 on the Billboard charts. All that kept it from reaching No. 1 was a little quartet from Liverpool who had a little success with a tune called “Get Back.” You listen to this song and you wonder if The Association shouldn’t sue for royalties simply because Mercy pilfered their overall vibe.
8 p.m. TCM
The year was 1950 when this sci-fi film about a mission to the moon was released. Like that could ever happen. It won an Oscar for special effects and not a few experts call this the most important sci-fi film of the decade (sorry, Ed Wood).
With a career-defining triumph at Wimbledon over Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic serves notice that when it’s all over, he very well may retire with the most Grand Slam championships. Djokovic, 32, became the first man since 1948 at Wimbledon to overcome a championship point—the greatest men’s champion of all time, thus far, Federer, had two against him—and recover to win it all at the All England.
The Serbian server wins his 16th Grand Slam in the longest Wimbledon final ever: 7-6, 1-6, 7-6, 4-6, 13-12 (7-3), a match that took 4 hours and 57 minutes. Federer, 37, has 20; Nadal, 33, has 18. All three men have at least one Grand Slam titles in all four of the Grand Slam events. This is tennis’ holy trinity.
Worth noting: Our little restaurant had an overwhelming majority of Federer fans, as we guess most did in the U.S.A. It’s not that folks don’t like Novak, but that Federer is so good and so gracious. He was humorous and respectful in defeat, and he’ll always be NUMBER ONE in the hearts of most tennis fans, both casual and intense.
Monaco Mile Miracle
It had been 23 years since someone had broken the women’s mile record so, yeah, Sifan Hassan‘s 4:12.33 in Monaco on Friday night is kind of a big deal. Hassan, of the Netherlands and coached by Alberto Salazar (uh oh!), ran a 2:08 first half, which means she did a negative split, running a 2:04 over the last two laps. More impressively, there was nobody giving her any type of challenge on the last lap. No one to push her.
Salazar has been openly accused by some big names in track (Kara Goucher, Dathan Ritzenhein) of blood doping his runners. It’s a noteworthy record; we just may never know, as with so many track feats of the past 40 years, whether or not it’s legit.
Angels In The Outfield—And Infield
Friday evening’s Mariners-Angels game, the first one in Anaheim since the death of Angel pitcher Tyler Skaggs, may compel you to rethink your religious convictions. Or lack thereof.
Yes, the Angels, each and every last one of them wearing a Skaggs 45 jersey, scored 7 runs in the first inning and 13 runs in the game. Skaggs’ birthday was July 13, or 7/13. Yes, two Angel pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter in the 13-0 win. And for us, most eerie of all, the last time a combined no-hitter had been thrown in the big leagues in the state of California was July 13, 1991: the very date Skaggs was born, in California.
And of course, what’s the name of this team? The Angels. I can see your halo (halo, halo)/I can see your halo (halo, halo)/ I can see your halo (halo, halo)/Oooh ooh ooh.
One of the hidden treasures of being a rabid Turner Classic Movies fan is being exposed to a pop culture nugget you never knew existed. On Friday night we were watching Dark Victory, from 1939, because 1) we’re not cool, 2) we’d never seen it and 3) it stars both Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart, both of whom are without argument Top 3 all-time movie stars in their respective genders (note: there’s a kiss between them late in the film that is totally awkward, though the plot kind of calls for it to be…there are few Hollywood kisses, though, that have ever had that kind of star power behind them…Gable and Leigh; Tracy and Hepburn; Grant and Kelly come to mind).
Anyway, we digress. The key turning point in the film happens when Davis, playing a young New York socialite who has had brain surgery and believes she is fully healed, discovers her medical file (she has fallen in love with her surgeon and they are planning to move to Vermont, hence his office is askew). As you’ll see from the clip above, two words are heavily emphasized in this scene: “Prognosis Negative.”
As any Seinfeld fan knows, Prognosis Negative was one of the many made-up films that the gang went to see during the course of the series (e.g. Rochelle, Rochelle; The Muted Heart; and of course, Death Blow). We have no idea if Larry David is enough of an old movies fan to have seen Dark Victory, but you have to wonder. Watching this scene from the vantage point of being a Seinfeld fanatic who only knew of the term from the sitcom, I felt almost as if I were being punked. Your thoughts?
Yes, it’s getting tiresome chronicling the president’s always boorish and often outright racist behavior. And yes, you have to wonder just how much of that tweet was motivated by a desire to get “Jeffrey Epstein” out of the top of most news scrolls. But here it was on Sunday morning:
Of course, three of the four Congresswomen to whom Trump is referring, all of whom are darker-skinned than the typical MAGA fan, were born in the United States. They are the 2019 version of “the Mexican judge.”
The irony, for us, is that Trump’s family is from Germany. There hasn’t been another country in the past 100 years that has been more “totally broken” than Germany. Why didn’t Fred Trump go back and “fix” Deutschland in the 1930s?
We will say this for President Trump, and any president in the recent past and going forward: The southern border is a no-win issue. As ugly as Trump’s tactics have been—the cages and facilities and familial separations are part of the strategy to deter border crossings—it’s just as distasteful to listen to Democrats bemoan this “constitutional crisis” and that constitutional crisis and this law and that law that the GOP no longer obeys, but when it comes to illegal immigration all of a sudden they get a virulent case of the feels.
You can have empathy and compassion for anyone wanting to come to America to have a better life. You can, at the same time, respect the laws and have even more empathy (at least I do) for those who are attempting to do so legally. And I write this as someone who every single day works with people of Latin descent who have come to this country using each of those avenues. These are my friends. I don’t blame a single one of them for doing what they have done. But I also recognize that it’s not legal and we’re supposedly a nation of laws.
So which way do you want to have it, Dems?
Last thing: What a day yesterday might have been if ICE decided to raid those businesses or those homes (many in the Hamptons, Westchester and Fairfield Counties) where illegal immigrants are paid off the books and apprehended not the migrants but their employers who are knowingly fertilizing this situation. Isn’t it always a better nab to catch the drug dealer than the casual pothead? So how come you don’t go after the people paying the undocumented workers off the books? If your aim is really to stem the tide of illegal immigration, as opposed to turning brown people into an easy mark for undereducated, lower-middle class white folk for political gain, then cut off the source of their income….by putting rich white people in jail for employing them.
Of course that’ll never happen. Because it’s not really about that. It’s about finding someone else to blame.
Eight years ago a trio of future Hall of Famers, all of them 23 years old or below, led the Oklahoma City Thunder to the NBA Finals and were poised to become my favorite team of the decade. Then success split them all up (does this make James Harden the Peter Gabriel of the band, or is he more of a Belinda Carlisle?). Now, thanks to a trade, Russell Westbrook, 30, and James Harden, 29, are Jake and Elwood Blues’ing it in Houston.
They’re on a mission from God. We have just one question: Has Kevin Durant actually signed his contract with the Brooklyn Nets already?
So what the NBA seems to have morphed into is a dual-superstar team elite class: Harden-Westbrook. Durant-Kyrie. Kawhi-George. LeBron-AD. Steph & Klay. At least seven of those 10 are already shoo-in Hall of Famers. Who’s next?
No, this really happened. Grayson Allen was ejected from an NBA Summer League following two flagrant fouls last night in the Grizzlies’ game against the Boston Celtics. Above is Allen’s second and last flagrant foul against Boston’s Grant Williams. You can take the punk out of Durham, but…
In other former Duke player news, Zion Williamson’s new city, New Orleans, may be underwater when the NBA season begins. The Mississippi River is flowing at a depth of 16 feet, twice its normal height this time of year, as N’awlins braces for Tropical Storm Barry this weekend.
Ruminations on ‘Blue’
For no particular reason, we did a word-association for the color blue as we pedaled through Central Park into work yesterday. Here’s the yield: bluetooth, Blue’s Clues, blue streak, Blue Velvet, blue jeans, Blue Oyster Cult, blue laws, Blue Chips, Blue Ivy, Blu-Ray, blue language, Blue Valentine, “Blue Danube,” The Blue Lagoon, Blue Cross (and Blue Shield), “Blue Moon,” Blue Hawaii, and Blue Man Group.
What have we missed?
UPDATE: “Blue Bayou,” “Mr. Blue Sky.”
The Next Coen Brothers Film
A routine traffic stop outside Guthrie, Oklahoma. The vehicle is stolen. The driver, Stephen Jennings, has an expired license. His female passenger, Rachel Rivera, is a convicted felon in unlawful possession of a firearm (massage your own “talk about riding shotgun’ line into the script).
It only gets better from there. The vehicle is impounded, whereupon officers discover Kentucky whiskey, a live rattlesnake, and…uranium! I like to think a pair of famed Jewish sibling filmmakers on New York’s Upper West Side read this story and thought, Here’s our next movie. How many minutes before they phoned Josh Brolin’s agent, we wonder?
Although, on second thought, that other bizarre news story of the morning, about a grass-roots movement to storm Area 51 in search of the aliens, may be an even better movie. Although Steven Spielberg kind of made this film 42 years ago, no?
E-vict E-Bikes Now
There are two types of cycles: man-powered and motorized. And when you live in a major urban area with pedestrians galore, such as New York City or Washington, D.C., or Chicago or San Francisco, you are starkly aware of the difference (and we’ll get to E-scooters later).
E-bikes, which are nothing less than electric motorcycles, have been around New York City for 5-10 years and each summer I see more of them. They started out as modes for delivery men and with the proliferation of Seamless, GrubHub, etc., and more people ordering out from restaurants, they proliferated. Then the common douchebag decided he needed one, too, or an E-scooter.
I ride my bicycle in New York City every day. Every day (weather permitting) and I’m fine with people owning E-bikes or even E-scooters, but they should be ridden where other motorized vehicles operate: in mainline traffic, not in bicycle lanes.
The difference between riding a bicycle and riding an E-bike is simply the difference, in terms of sweat equity, between humility and arrogance. When you have to pedal yourself, not only do you not go as fast but there’s also a certain level of vulnerability as well as exertion needed to get you where you’re going. When you ride an E-bike or E-scooter, you have the same mentality as someone behind the wheel of a car, which is a sort of above-it-all power trip that these a**holes better get out of your way.
There’s nothing more disconcerting when you’re riding your bike, pumping those pedals, to see an E-bike whiz past you at 30-35 m.p.h. in the bike lane. As often as not traveling in the opposite direction. There are a plethora of reasons why Bill DeBlasio would never get my vote for president (or mayor), but his failure to crack down on E-bikes is chief among them.
People are dying/will continue to die because of this. And the worst part is that people who choose cycling over cars for commuting make cities inherently more livable, not to mention less fat and out of shape. And here come E-bikes threatening the territory (Did we even talk about motorized skateboards yet?).
An E-Bike has a motor. And it looks like a cycle. It’s a…wait for it…motorcycle. And you’d look twice if a Harley Davidson was riding in the bike lane. So why not an E-bike? Just because it doesn’t make as much noise doesn’t mean it’s not every bit as dangerous.
And that’s our harrumph! for today.
We chuckled at the story of the two elderly female Burger King patrons in Florida who scolded a man to “speak your Mexican at home.” The man, who happened to be the restaurant manager, cited the First Amendment and made the point that freedom of speech extends to speaking whatever language you please, then kicked them out of the restaurant.
We tried to tell you this last week, but we’ll say it again: Spanish is the official language of restaurants in the U.S.A. now (with the possible exception of the Cracker Barrel chain). You can deplore it or not, but you’re not going to change it. If you are going to work in a restaurant, you’d better learn at least some Spanish. And if you don’t, you better realize that your co-workers may be speaking behind your back right in front of you.
Of course, they’ll still speak to you in English if you are a customer. But why, as a customer, it should bother you as to what language they use to converse with one another should be of no interest to you. Only if it interferes with their service. Which it almost never does.
Related: Last night at one of my restaurants our food runner (if you’re English is not very good, you usually work as a runner or busser to begin), informed me that “we have soap.” I looked at her quizzically for a moment or two until I realized that she was Spanglishing “soup,” which in Spanish is “sopa.” All in a day’s work.
You can get mad about this, like those two old ladies, or you can appreciate how evolution and/or change is always taking place and smile. I choose the latter.
Twist Of Fate
Olivia Newton-John. A synthesizer track. And John Travolta. That’s about as early Eighties as you get. After the MASSIVE success of Grease in the summer of ’78, someone decided it wouldn’t be the worst idea to pair these two in another film five years later titled Two Of A Kind. Not as big a hit. Although the tune climbed to No. 5 on the Billboard chart in January of 1984.
10 a.m. ESPN
We were fortunate enough to be at Wimbledon for their classic, five-set 2008 Wimbledon final—sitting in a TV studio less than 100 yards from Centre Court. Today Roger and Rafa, the two most prolific Grand Slam winners in tennis history (20 and 18, respectively), meet for the 40th time in their careers. Nadal, 33, has won 24 of their previous 39 matches against Federer, 37. This is the Ali-Frazier of our era, and it is easily the greatest rivalry in tennis history, not due to enmity but simply due to iconic greatness starting at each other across the net.
The day began in sunny New York City for the USWNT, with a ticker-tape parade, and ended in Los Angeles with the ESPYs. Alex Morgan, meet Tracy Morgan.
And where were the bomb-sniffing dogs during rehearsals when Tracy did his monologue? Whew, painful. The world’s sports luminaries traveled all the way to L.A. to listen to him talk about life in Alpine, N.J., and his vehicular accident record?
Sports Illustrated is revealing its “100 Best College Football Players” in three parts this week, with two parts (and 75 players) already named. Here’s the biggest takeaway for us thus far: through players 100-26, only plays in the state of California (Cal linebacker Evan Weaver and Stanford offensive lineman Walker Little). Vanderbilt has as many players (2) on SI’s list thus far as the Golden State, and obviously also two more than either UCLA or USC.
Also, and again the list is not complete: not one player thus far from FloridaState, which only six years ago won a natty. That’s one program that fell off a cliff, which is not easy to do since Tallahassee is a rather flat area.
Keep tabs: Notre Dame QB Ian Book did not appear in the 100-26 list. Is he going to be a snub or a Top 25 player?
This is where we are obliged to note that last year Kyler Murray did not make SI’s Top 100 list. Then he went on to win the Heisman Trophy and be drafted No. 1 overall.
“And Take Alex Acosta With You”
As a young woman came forward yesterday and told the story of how a representative of Jeffrey Epstein’s recruited her right out of high school as a 14 year-old girl and that Epstein raped her (told to NBC’s Savannah Guthrie), it became more evident that there are so many more female liars out there now that Donald Trump is president.
I’m sorry. It became more evident that Epstein is a total creep show, a fact that inspired one of our regular readers to cite a scene from True Detective that fits what Epstein should do next.
DB = Devil’s Bank
Within the industry, Deutsche Bank is referred to as “DB” but perhaps those initials stand for something else. In today’s New York Times we learn that Deutsche Bank, which has been the primary creditor to one Donald Trump for two-plus decades, has also been the Shylock for the aforementioned Jeffrey Epstein. One can take a very short bike ride between Trump’s New York City digs (56th-57th & 5th), Epstein’s (71st b/w 5th and Madison) and DB’s (Park Ave. and 52nd). The new axis of evil.
There’s a scene early in Casablanca, the third scene of the film if we’re counting correctly, in which an executive from Deutsche Bank (from Germany, where the bank is headquartered) attempts to enter the casino of Rick’s Cafe Americain. The proprietor, Rick Blaine (Bogey), refuses him entrance and tells him his money is only good at the bar. When the man protests, Rick tells him that he’s lucky his money is good at the bar (implying he should be thrown out). The blueprint was laid bare for us all back in 1942, folks.
Yet another Gary Smith Special teed up, the saga of Kendrick Norton. One week ago, on July 4th, the defensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins, just 22 years old, accidentally drove his Ford F250 pickup truck into a concrete barrier on a state road near Miami. The truck flipped multiple times and while Norton, who attended The U, survived, his left arm had to be amputated.
Imagine that. Just one year into your NFL career and it’s all over. Supposedly there was another vehicle involved and because this is south Florida it may not surprise you to learn that the other driver was behind the wheel of a Maserati. That driver walked away unharmed.
More details will come out. Norton spent most of last season, his first in the NFL, on the Carolina Panthers’ practice squad and was currently in the same position with the Dolphins. The NFL has said it will honor his insurance policy.
Into The Wild
8 p.m. TMC (not TCM!)
Was Christopher McCandless courageous or reckless, adventurous or selfish? We think all of the above, but this 2007 film has a great Eddie Vedder soundtrack and it’s an intriguing true story of a kid who graduated from Emory and decided to follow the road not taken, often taking no road at all.
For the seventh straight year, the American League wins the midsummer classic. This time the score was 4-3 as only two bombs left Cleveland’s lovely ballpark while the National League whiffed 16 times. Both the Indians’ Shane Bieber (MVP) and the Yanks’ Aroldis Chapman struck out the side.
We liked the right-arm patch each player wore that denoted the number of All-Star Games in which he has played. Also, we did not hear any chants of “Equal Pay!” break out.
As counter programming, MSNBC had an interview between Rachel Maddow and Megan Rapinoe running at the same time in which the host positively, but not literally, gushed over her guest.
The Courage Of Amelia Boone
On Monday night, via Twitter and Instagram, the world’s top female adventure racer, Amelia Boone, revealed that she has been dealing with anorexia for 20 years and is only now receiving treatment.
I’ve long been a fan of Amelia’s since I first interviewed her in 2013 and we’ve since met in person. She is a hardcore badass in terms of pushing herself to achieve goals—she is a lawyer at Apple’s world headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., and she is also one of the few females who’ve ever taken part in the insane Barkley Marathons in the Tennessee wilderness. She’s as driven as they come. I’m not sure I’ve ever met someone who’s more focused and relentless in terms of achieving goals. Read her longer story here.
I’d also like to say, as a show of solidarity, that I’ve also dealt with an eating disorder. For about two years in college, I dealt with the same things Amelia has and for, I think, similar reasons: the hardcore pursuit of goals and striving to be perfect. It began as trying to make weight to remain on lightweight crew, but between rowing, being a pre-med and working a job 20 hours a week, I became a major stressed person. I doubt any of my college friends knew; if you asked them, they’d probably say my greatest disorder was that I was “a little too gassy.”
However, once I stopped striving to be perfect (and perhaps I’ve gone a little too far in the opposite direction), the eating disorder vanished. I’ve already told Amelia this in a DM on Twitter and I share it only because I want her to know how much company she has. There are so many more like her out there. It’s self-induced anxiety and it can be beaten. So bravo to my brave friend.
Farewell to one of the great character actors of this or any generation, Rip Torn, who passed last night at the age of 88. You may not know that he was married to an Oscar winner (Geraldine Page) for more than 30 years, but you do know him as Artie from The Larry Sanders Show and Patches O’Houlihan from Dodgeball.
If you think about it, or maybe even if you don’t, now all those roles that Rip Torn was meant to play are being taken by Stephen Root. Who is also a fantastic character actor.
Over And Dunne
The MH staff missed this when it happened, but a racer perished during the annual Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado a little more than one week ago. Carlin Dunne, who was leading the motorcycle portion of the climb to the summit, which entails 12.42 miles of ascent and 156 turns and a nearly 10,000-foot gain in elevation to the top (14,110), soared over the side of the road less than a quarter-mile from the finish line.
Dunne, 37, who had won the race four times previously, died at the scene. Yesterday reporter Evan Petzold, who was covering the race, provided a detailed account of how race officials attempted to stifle any reporting once Dunne’s accident occurred.
Our daily bicycle commute between restaurant 1 and restaurant 2 takes us past the Manhattan home of Jeffrey Epstein (if we turn one block early) on East 71st, between 5th Avenue and Madison. For the uninitiated, a residence between 5th and Madison anywhere between, say, 60th and 86th Street is some PRIME living.
So we snapped a couple photos.
If you look closely on the bottom left, you can see the “JE” initials next to the door.
Looks as if the authorities let themselves in Saturday night. As we beheld this wondrous palace in the midst of the most desired area in the greatest city in the world, we thought of the utter stupidity it takes to do anything to sabotage one’s place in it, never mind the evil that allegedly took place within for years. We thought about how Epstein will likely never get this close to his home again for the rest of his life. And we thought about the nature of man, for whom way too much is never enough. And then we pedaled off to our second serving job of the day.
So Jeffrey Epstein allegedly was raping underage girls, current Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta was helping him wriggle out of his legal crises 11 years ago, and current U.S. Attorney General William Barr was a partner in the law firm that defended him? It’s almost as if there’s a network of sinister and powerful men who occupy important positions and look after one another’s misdeeds.
Though I could be wrong…
Fortunately, we still have the New York Southern District and the power of photographs. We’ll see where this leads, but my guess is that Epstein will forever wish he’d never left France (“zank heavens, for little girls…“) and that only a presidential pardon will allow him to ever spend another day as a free man. And if that happens…
From Dr. To P.R. To RIP
The saga of Dr. Frank Meza, the 70 year-old who was believed to have run a 2:53 at the Los Angeles Marathon, was later disqualified for Rosie Ruiz-ing it, and then who apparently committed suicide last week, would’ve been a Gary Smith special back in my days at SI. That story would’ve come across the wire and before day’s end Smith would be dispatched to spend the next two months piecing together a 12-page bonus about Meza’s inner demons and probably would’ve racked up $5,000 to $10,000 in expenses doing so. Oh, what a time to have been a sports journalist.
Alas, it’s 2019, so the Los Angeles Times had less than two days to put together a compelling story about what led Meza, whose body was found in the Los Angeles River last weekend, to cheat at the marathon and then to take his own life. Certainly, there will be more to come. What’s odd is that Meza was a lifelong runner, and anyone who is knows and respects the toil it takes to become accomplished. There’s no cutting corners in distance running, and Meza would know that. So why would he in a sense blaspheme the very activity that had meant so much to him? For the record, no 70 year-old has ever run a marathon as fast as Meza purported to have done back in March.
Pardon The Eruption
…but I’m Tony Kornheiser….and I’m Michael Wilbon, knuckleheads.
Yellowstone National Park’s Steamboat Geyser is the world’s tallest active geyser, with emissions of more than 300 feet into the sky. This year Steamboat is on track to erupt more times than in any other year in its recorded history.
In June Steamboat erupted seven times—it’s like the Mike Trout of geysers—which brings its total in 2019 to 25. Last year it set a record that had been held since 1964 by erupting 32 times. It’s well ahead of last year’s pace. Is the earth juiced? What type of supplements are the national park rangers feeding Steamboat? Should we move the overlook fences back? All good questions.
Coco, Oh No
It was a fabulous run, but 15 year-old Coco Gauff’s Wimbledon run ends in a straight sets defeat to Simona Halep, 6-3, 6-3. Maybe she can make it back to the States in time to be part of tomorrow’s USWNT parade in New York City.
Gaff becomes the youngest player since Jennifer Capriati in 1991 (13 years, 11 months) to advance to the Round of 16 (but not Sweet Sixteen) at a Grand Slam. By the way, if you are a casual tennis fan at best as I am, you may not know that the current world No. 1 women’s player is…. (Wanna guess?)….
…Ashleigh Barty, 23, of Australia. Barty’s only Grand Slam title happened last month at the French Open.
The Agony of Defeat (Cont.)
This is distance runner Hagos Gebhriwet of Ethiopia, who last Friday in Lausanne, Switzerland, was leading the men’s 5000 in a Diamond League meet. The 5,000 is a 12.5-lap race, and certainly Gebhriwet knows that. And even if he did not, he is supposed to know that when you are leading the race and the bell is clanging, that means there’s one more lap. Known as the bell lap.
But who knows where his mind was? He forgot. And veered off the track to celebrate. And finished in 10th place. Of course, if this were an Iowa high school state track meet, he still would have been declared the winner.
8 p.m. Fox
We’re over the All-Star Game, or became so as soon as it was mandated that at least one player from every team must make it. Pick the best 25 players, stop substituting so much, and play the very best against one another. Of course, sub pitchers. No pitcher should throw more than 2 innings (and they usually don’t). Now we’ll go back to screaming at the clouds.
Yes, they won. In what seemed to us a foregone conclusion ever since they waxed the floor with Thailand, 13-0, the USWNT won the World Cup in Lyon yesterday with a 2-0 triumph over Holland.
In total, the USWNT outscored its foes 26-3. Players such as Julie Ertz, Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan and, of course, Megan Rapinoe, have crossed the threshold into icon status (Morgan was already there) and, if nothing else (and there is something else), will own and operate successful and highly lucrative soccer camps for as long as they want.
Equal pay? From U.S. Soccer, why not? From clubs, well, that’s still a long way off. Then again, if you watched the Gold Cup last night, it’s not as far off as the prospects of us seeing the U.S. men play in a World Cup finals. Not in this lifetime.
Wendell On Epstein
While we were serving the hungry and thirsty this weekend, Wendell Barnhouse pecked out an essay on the arrest of Jeffrey Epstein and its potential for greater collateral damage. We’re more than happy to run his column and, as we have to sprint off to another shift—that Ferrari ain’t gonna buy itself–we’ll leave you with this today…
By Wendell Barnhouse
This summer of our discontent – which likely foreshadows the summer of 2020 when we’re really pissed off – received an unscheduled and unexpected jolt of hope. Can we all agree we need to keep hope alive?
Most of us had July 17 circled. That’s when Robert Mueller is scheduled for public hearings in Congress. That should rival any three-ring circus as Democrats will try to avoid sound-byte grandstanding and Republicans like Louie Gohmert and Jim Jordan will no doubt ask questions through frothing mouths.
But those who remember the “Saturday Night Massacre” in 1973 were offered another Saturday Night fever dream. As he stepped off a plane at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, billionaire Jeffrey Epstein was arrested. It was not the end to a two-week Paris trip he expected. Epstein, a registered sex offender, was charged with sex trafficking of young women and girls.
This is a familiar feeling for Epstein, a hedge fund/financial planner who also might be a money launderer for all kinds of nefarious characters. In 2007, Epstein was given a sweetheart plea deal after being charged with statutory rape of numerous underage high school students. His 13-month work-release sentence allowed him to spend half of each day at his home. And never mind sex offenders are not legally allowed for such “freedom.”
Two of Epstein’s lawyers at the time were Alan Dershowitz and Kenneth Starr, a couple of high-dollar ambulance chasers. They’ve wallowed in the glory of legal and moral slop. Dershowitz helped acquit the most famous double murderer of the 20th century. Starr, the man who helped bring impeachment charges on President Bill Clinton, went on to become president at Baylor University. During his tenure the school was involved in a sickening series of sexual assault accusations, most levied against football players.
The federal prosecutor who signed off on Epstein’s deal was Alexander Acosta. The plea bargain was illegal. It violated the Crime Victims’ Rights Act because Epstein’s victims were not informed of the deal and never had a chance to testify in court. Poof. No trial, no discovery, no evidence. Everybody but the victims live happily – and more than comfortably – ever after.
Karma, as we know, is a bitch. Karma also is undefeated. The news of Epstein’s arrest probably caused some sleepless nights for some VIPs. Doctors on speed dial likely were asked for stronger Xanax scripts.
Julie K. Brown, the lead reporter for the Miami Herald’s three-part investigative series (aptly titled “Perversion of Justice”), cracked open and exposed the illegal deal Epstein received. She said Sunday there are other shoes (names) that could drop.
“So, there are probably quite a few important people, powerful people, who are sweating it out right now,” she said. “We’ll have to wait and see whether Epstein is going to name names.”
It is worth noting is that the Epstein case is being handled by the Public Corruption Unit of the Southern District of New York. That signals that the dragnet will be cast wide. Dum, da dum dum. (Also, last week a Trump Tweet ranted about New York Attorney General Letitia James being so unfair. Think he knew what was coming? … Yeah, he knew.)
Sex trafficking and human trafficking are scourges that have been overshadowed by many other important and troubling issues. The buying and selling of young women is a multi-billion dollar enterprise that involves the rich and the powerful, money laundering and Russian oligarchs (editor’s note: and the owner of the reigning Super Bowl champions).
Epstein’s “black book” allegedly has well-known names. In a related matter, last week 2,000 pages of previously sealed testimony was ordered unsealed. In the next few weeks, that testimony could be released. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals decision references allegations of sexual abuse involving “numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well-known Prime Minister, and other world leaders.”
The previously named Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, Les Wexner (77 years old and founder of Victoria’s Secret – that is not a joke) and Dershowitz were among those who allegedly participated in what was called Epstein’s “Lolita Express.”
And, there’s (pussy grabber) President Donald Trump. Epstein’s Florida estate is just minutes from Mar-a-Lago, the “Southern White House.” Trump and Epstein have palled around for the last 30 years. “Terrific guy,” The Donald said of Epstein, in a 2002 article. “He’s a lot of fun to be with. It’s even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”
You may now pause and take a shower.
This is a 30-minute video of a woman who claims when she was 13 that Trump had three sexual encounters with her, including a rape role play. She says Trump knew that she was 13. His daughter Ivanka was also 13. The woman says that Trump asked her to wear a blonde wig and commented about how much she looked like her daughter.
You should now pause and take another shower. If you take the time to watch the video, you might need disinfectant.
Before you start Googling my name and “conspiracy theories,” perhaps it’s fair to say all this is just more thick, black smoke but no fire. However, anyone who has been following Trump News since the day he descended his gold escalator in 2015 understands that he appears to be involved in a lot of illegal shit. Other than bankruptcies, during his adult life he’s cleverly skated away, no matter how thin the ice.
Epstein is 66. After he was arrested, the FBI raided his New York City townhouse. If there’s enough evidence to convict, he could spend the rest of his life in jail. If he doesn’t get a lenient placement at a nice Gray Bar Hotel, his reputation as a pedophile will make for some interesting nights. (Trump, of course, would face no criticism for pardoning a pedophile sex trafficker.)
If found guilty and given the opportunity to reduce his sentence, would Epstein flip and give up the goods on his high-rolling, sex-crazed acquaintances? If he comes clean, how many others get dirty? The juicy possibilities are endless. Will this Epstein case provide the smoking gun? Two interesting notes to consider. And trust me, there are dozens upon dozens of similar interesting notes.
Bear Stearns employed Epstein in the 2000s. During the financial collapse of 2008, Bear Stearns went out of business. Epstein reportedly lost $57 million and allegedly provided testimony against the financial giant; that testimony might have helped him gain the sweet deal he received. Trump just happened to be a major client of Bear Stearns at a time when he was toxic to most reputable firms. Also, Epstein’s status as a “billionaire” has been questioned.
Acosta, who broke the law with his plea deal for Epstein, is the current Secretary of Labor in the Trump Administration. His appointment to that post was curious unless one believes in quid pro quo. And unless one knows that the Labor Department oversees the nation’s human trafficking laws. And unless one knows that two weeks ago the Labor Department declared a moratorium on visas for victims of human trafficking.
Watergate, as we know, went all the way to the top. We’re as beyond Watergate as Apollo 11 was beyond the Wright Brothers. There’s something about those tangled webs of deception. Once you pull on the correct thread, the untangling can begin.