MAUREEN AND MARINE

Items we forgot: Maureen Dowd‘s essay, “America’s Parasite,” in Sunday’s New York Times had a lede that must be preserved in amber:

” It’s funny that Donald Trump doesn’t like a movie about con artists who invade an elegant house and wreak chaos.

Barely related except as a homonym, what do you prefer as a headline: “Marine Biology?”, “Plank-Based Meat?” or “Edgar Allen Pose?”

That’s George Hood, 62, former Marine and DEA agent, reclaiming his Guinness World Record for planking with a time of 8 hours and 15 minutes.


NOT FEELING THE BERN

This thought occurred to me last night: Democratic presidential frontrunner Bernie Sanders is someone who asks all the right questions but provides all the wrong answers. Let me preempt the following screed by saying the following: No matter who the Democratic candidate is in November, this independent voter will vote for him (or hopefully, her) and not for the Republican incumbent. And I certainly will not Not Vote in protest. We should all vote, no?

But as for Bernie, it feels as if he’s appealing to the Get Off My Lawn! millennial crowd. See, what we older types find unappealing about millennials is that they seem immune to counsel; they’ve not experienced anything but they know it all. Whereas I imagine what they loathe about people like me is that we are completely useless around smartphones and iPads. that we’ll never acknowledge that LeBron is better than Jordan (he isn’t, but he’s very close), and that we’re stubborn and set in our ways.

Having gotten that out of the way, yes, it’s not fair that health care and college education have become prohibitively expensive. But just because your parents and/or grandparents enjoyed one standard of living does not mean that you deserve it, also. One thing you learn over the age of 35: “deserve” is a word for children, or adults who are emotionally children. You don’t deserve anything. And life’s not fair. Wear a helmet, as they say.

Here’s Bernie in an interview with Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes the other night. This wasn’t some gotcha interview that Bernie didn’t see coming. He knew he was going to sit down with the most intrepid and well-prepared journalist this side of Ronan Farrow. Watch:

Again, Bernie brings up excellent points about social injustice. He just doesn’t have a realistic solution. In fact, even he doesn’t know how much his solution will cost.

One example of my being verklempt: Can we all agree that college education is too expensive and yet also agree that that does not mean it should be free? Like, I don’t not order the lobster because it’s too expensive and then demand instead to pay nothing for it. Whatever you’re paying for your smart phone usage per month, that’s a good start to what your college tuition should be on a monthly basis. At least.

The Bernie Bros attitude doesn’t surprise me because I’ve been on Twitter for awhile. There’s no one so intolerant as a millennial who demands tolerance. And these folks are hyper-attuned not to listening, but to striking back. So I ask, Who’s going to pay for all this? The wealthy? Good luck with that.

America can be a much fairer place than it is today. No doubt. But to insist that everyone is going to get everything they want on the backs of those who are dead set against that happening? The only revolution that’ll make that happen is a violent one. And even if Bernie’s elected, those proposals are never getting through Congress.

I like Bernie. I do. And I wouldn’t mind seeing Larry David portray him on SNL for four years. I just wonder how many people supporting him are doing so because they love the “Free Shit!” mantra and are living in their parents’ houses rent-free while doing so.*

*I’ve lived in my parents’ house rent-free for brief spells as an adult. It’s awesome. But I’m not proud of it.

Should health care and college be more affordable? Definitely. Is the concentration of wealth in the top 1% only becoming more concentrated and does that have long-term ill effects on the country? Of course. Is the man in the Oval Office, as Bernie said the other night, “a pathological liar?” People are saying.

But there’s a better way to solve this than going to the extreme opposite ends. Save the hard lefts for Daytona and Indy. America would be better served by someone less radical.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING

by John Walters

Tweet Me Right

Starting Five

  1. Trump, Taj Mahal: Possible thought bubbles: A) “They have one, too?” B) “How much does this cost? I could buy it and run it into bankruptcy in less than two years.” The Taj Mahal is a shrine a grief-stricken man built to honor his late wife. I’d like to have seen Trump’s face when they told him that.

2. 2-24-20

Someone was thinking when they chose to hold Kobe Bryant’s public memorial on this date, honoring his and his late daughter, Gianna’s, numbers. Also fittingly, last night Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu, who was close with Kobe and spoke at the memorial, later nabbed 12 rebounds in a defeat of Stanford to become the first player in NCAA history to notch 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists in his or her career. Ionescu finished with a triple double on the evening: 21 points, 12 boards and 12 assists.

3. M.J.’S Latest GOAT Moment

The Staples Center opened after Michael Jordan retired, so he never had the chance to put his imprimatur on it as a player. No matter. Yesterday Jordan, not renowned as a public speaker, stood up and eulogized Kobe and took our breath away with honesty, sincerity (“A part of me died when Kobe died”) and humor (“I’m going to have to look at another crying meme for the next…”).

By the way, we know the All-Star Game was eight days earlier, but has there ever been more hoops talent assembled under one roof? Just a partial list of who was there: Kareem, Russell, MJ, Magic, Phil, Steph, AD, the other Russell, Worthy, Nash…. (You can go on and on if you like….)

4. Try The Beal!

Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal found a creative way to honor Kobe on 2-24-20: he became the first player since Bryant to put up 50 or more points in consecutive games. Beal, who was not chosen for the All-Star Game earlier this month (in the East, for chrissakes), scored 55 in a 137-134 overtime loss to Milwaukee. One night earlier in Chicago Beal scored 53 in a loss to the Bulls. That’s 108 points in about 30 hours in two cities.

Beal, who scored 44 points in consecutive games back in November, is now second in the NBA in scoring at 30.1 points per game. And again, Beal was not on either All-Star roster eight days earlier. Nutty.

5. Dow Drops Hard

Always enjoy the photo gallery of distressed brokers on days when the stock market tanks

The Dow Jones index finished down by 1,031 points yesterday, the stock market index’s worst single day in two years (fortunately, Susie B., I sold all of my Tesla and Bitcoin on Friday; really). Coronavirus fears stoked the sell-off and honestly, does anybody have confidence that this administration will deal effectively with the epidemic should it find greater purchase on our shores.

Meanwhile, it’s only February and Time magazine has named the coronavirus its Pathogen of the Year. Well done!

Anyway, if you’re looking for a safe harbor, check out Regeneron or Gilead (GILD), which are companies whose drugs have seemingly had the most effect on the virus. And, from a health standpoint, probably best to wear gloves on the plane and not touch your face. And don’t take health care advice from Rush Limbaugh.

Reserves

Harvey’s Going To Jail

Erstwhile Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein was convicted on two of five counts, including 3rd-degree rape, in a Manhattan court. He still faces charges in Los Angeles. Barring a Trump pardon, Weinstein will be going away for a few years… unless he has dirt on the Republican party, in which case he’ll “hang himself” in his jail cell.

*****

This site will always be free but we’ve decided to try a new wrinkle: more frequent posts, no daily Starting Five, and we’ll add a PayPal address for any and all who’d like to donate.

PayPal: trumansparks88@gmail.com

FIVE FILMS: 1935

Have Seen:

  1. The Bride Of Frankenstein: An elegy to arranged marriages.
  2. A Night At The Opera: Includes the classic stateroom scene and the opening scene in which Groucho grouchos it up: “Nine dollars and forty cents?!? This is an outrage (hands bill to female dining companion). If I were you, I wouldn’t pay it.”
  3. Mutiny On The Bounty: Best Picture winner starring Clark Gable in the Fletcher Christian role.

Haven’t But Should:

4. The Informer: John Ford won a Best Director Oscar for this film about an IRA member who informs on his boss to the Black and Tans.

5. Captain Blood: Errol Flynn’s first starring role as a buckler of swash, and the first of what would be eight films he did with Olivia de Havilland.

THE BEST BASKETBALL COACH YOU DON’T KNOW (BUT HE’S NOT A NOBODY CUZ I WOULDN’T WANT TO PISS OFF ANYONE AT D3HOOPS.COM)*

Meet Landry Kosmalski. He’s not a character from Twelve Angry Men. He’s the head hoops coach at Swarthmore College outside of Philadelphia. Kosmalski, who doesn’t even have his own Wikipedia page, coaches the only undefeated men’s team in any Division in the NCAA. The Garnet are 25-0 this season.

Two incredible things to know about Kosmalski and Swarthmore: first, this is his eighth season as head coach and the Garnet have improved every single season he’s been at the helm: 7-18, 8-17, 11-14, 22-8, 23-6, 25-6, 29-4 and now 25-0. That’s pretty hard to do. Second, all five Swarthmore starters average in double figures but no one averages more than 12.1 points per game. Again, difficult to do.

If the name sounds familiar, or vaguely familiar, Landry’s dad Len was a 7-footer who started three seasons for the Tennessee Vols in the early 1970s and played parts of two seasons for the Kansas City Kings. My guess is that Landry, who played at Davidson and then professionally overseas, is in his early to mid-forties. Swarthmore advanced to the Division III championship game last season but lost.

*but they probably haven’t profiled him, either

A VERY UPPER WEST SIDE CONVERSATION

I’m on the crosstown bus the other day. The M79. Vampire Weekend wrote an entire song about it.

So I’m seated near the front of this double-long bus and the only two people remaining on board, besides myself and the driver, are two elderly ladies. I’d place them in their seventies. They’re seated in front of me. Closer to the driver.

First lady: “Let me ask you a question. How much do they tax you when you sell your stock.”

Second lady: “You mean like capital gains.”

First lady: “Like capital gains.”

Second lady: “I’m not sure but I think it’s more if you sell it quickly. Like in a year.”

First lady: “Because I have some Apple stock. And I don’t know if I want to sell it. I bought it at $100, then it went to $700, then it split by seven, now it’s $300. I don’t know what to do.”

At this point my nostrils flared. This lady bought Apple at least 10 years ago. It’s gone up 22 times since she bought it. If she’s not rich, she’s at least way better off than she was. And yet she sounds so, well, agonized. Like she’s trying to figure out a way to reap the profits of her stock without having to pay any taxes on it.

Of course she’s held it long enough that she won’t pay the 37% rate you pay when you unload a stock in less than a year. But, I mean, she’s held it more than a decade. She’s going to pay the least amount of taxes possible. I said nothing.

First lady: “I think I’ll just hold on to it.”

She’d rather hold the stock and reap no financial reward than have to share any of it with Uncle Sam. At least her grandkids will be happy.

ROMAN POLANSKI AND MAGA

Polanski, with John Huston

Was reading The Big Goodbye, all about the making of Chinatown and the four men behind it (writer Robert Towne, producer Robert Evans, director Roman Polanski and star Jack Nicholson) last night. By Sam Wasson. Terrific read.

Anyway, got to this passage that gave me chills. What you should know going in is that Polanski grew up in Poland during World War II, in Warsaw. Both his mother and father were taken away by the Nazis. Separately. Polanski, on his parents’ instruction, had run away as the Nazis encroached and hid at the home of a friendly family. Which may have saved his life.

His father, Wanda, survived the camps. His mother, who was pregnant at the time she was abducted, died at Auschwitz.

So if you’re keeping score, Polanski’s father’s pregnant wife (and his mom) was murdered in the 1940s and then Polanski’s pregnant wife (actress Sharon Tate) was murdered some 25-plus years later. Nazis. The Manson family. Potato, potahto.

Anyway, this passage takes place after Tate’s murder but before Towne has completed his Chinatown script. Probably around 1969 or 1970 (that’s important, keep it in the back of your mind). Polanski has gone off to ski in Switzerland for a few months and his father has come to join him. What follows is from the book, verbatim:

When Polanski arrived in his father’s hotel room in Gstaad, Wanda was playing solitaire. Under a soft light, his father was sitting on the edge of the bed, his eyes on the floor. He was crying.

“Why are you crying?”

“No, no,” his father insisted. “It’s just the music.” Beside his bed, a radio. A German song. “O Mein Papa.”

Oh, my Papa, to me he was so wonderful,

Oh, my Papa, to me he was so good.

Polanski sat beside him.

No one could be so gentle and so lovable

Oh, my Papa, he always understood.

“After you ran from the ghetto,” his father began, “and just before the final liquidation of the ghetto, they took all the people.”

Oh, my Papa, so funny, so adorable

Always the clown so funny in his way.

“They called all Jews… we were standing there… suddenly trucks arrived and they started loading children on those trucks. As this was happening, most were parents of those children, they started swaying and moaning and screaming and crying and falling on the ground and tearing the mud from the ground… and the Germans were playing this song.”

Oh, my Papa, to me he was so wonderful,

Deep in my heart I miss him so today,

Gone are the days when he would take me on his knee,

And with a smile he’d change my tears to laughter.

Polanski would try to console him. “This can never happen again.”

“Wait fifty years. You’ll see.”

Reserves

Items we didn’t even get to…

6. Fury > Wilder: In what was purportedly the biggest boxing match in years, Tyson Fury knocks down reigning heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder twice before Wilder’s corner tossed in the towel in the 7th round. Fury is 6’9″ and shares a name with the greatest heavyweight of the past 40 years. He’s also white but I didn’t hear many GWH references.

7. Another Miracle, 40 Years Later: A 42 year-old Zamboni driver named Dave Ayres stepped into the net for the Carolina Hurricanes in a pinch on Saturday night and won. Ayres was seated at the ScotiaBank Arena in Toronto when Carolina’s goaltender went down with an injury in warm-ups. Then their backup net minder was hurt during the second period. Ayres came out of the stands and allowed goals on the first two shots he faced, then stopped the next eight. Carolina defeated the Maple Leafs, 6-3, and Ayres became the oldest goalie in NHL history to win his career debut. Here comes a Disney film.

8. Killer Chairlift: Been meaning to investigate this all week. How does a skier suffocate to death on a chairlift? This happened in Vail. The decedent was Jason Varnish, 46, of New Jersey. According to the Vail coroner Kara Bettis: “According to our initial investigation, the deceased slipped through the seat of the chair lift and his ski coat got caught up in the chair. The chairlift’s folding seat was left in the upright position which created a gap when Varnish went to sit down and his coat got caught around his head and neck area, cutting off his airway.

Tweets Me Right

A few tweets from the weekend that are worth posting before it all gets lost:

Bron’s chortle at the end of this is the ideal kicker:

Russell Westbrooking, talkin’ trash and then soarin’ to splash. NBA superstars, they’re just not like you and I:

Self-explanatory

Two tweets from Nevada this weekend. One of these men is the president. The other is presidential:

The Astros can’t get out of their own way…

VIRUS GONE VIRAL

Coronavirus updates:

—Death took eclipses 2,600 with no signs of slowing.

–Virus has now spread to Europe and the Middle East (and the United States, though that’s being downplayed). Countries that have reported coronavirus deaths: China, South Korea, Iran and Italy.

–Additional countries that have reported at least one case of a coronavirus infection: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and the United States.

–World wide cases reported: More than 79,000.

No idea where this parade ends.