IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

One of many “mobile morgues” in New York City

Quality of Life Vs Inequality of Life*

*The judges will not accept “The Morgue The Merrier”

We give thumbs ups to yesterday’s New York Times columns by David Brooks and Paul Krugman. Let’s begin with the latter, whose column “On The Economics of Not Dying” asks, “What good is increasing the GDP if it kills you?”

Valid query, and one we’ve asked here. Here’s where Krugman’s column really gets to the heart of it:

What, after all, is the economy’s purpose? If your answer is something like, “To generate incomes that let people buy things,” you’re getting it wrong — money isn’t the ultimate goal; it’s just a means to an end, namely, improving the quality of life.

Now, money matters: There is a clear relationship between income and life satisfaction. But it’s not the only thing that matters. In particular, you know what also makes a major contribution to the quality of life? Not dying.

And when we take the value of not dying into account, the rush to reopen looks like a really bad idea, even in terms of economics properly understood.

As for Brooks, his “If We Had A Real Leader” paints the sharp contrast to how Lincoln and other leaders (RFK, Bush 43, Obama, Reagan, Churchill) handled major crises or tragedies and how our president right now is handling this one. Tangentially, Brooks mentioned the value of a solid education. I enjoyed this line:

“… it was the job of a school, as one headmaster put it, to produce young people who would be “acceptable at a dance, invaluable in a shipwreck.”

I think we know that Trump would grope an unwilling female in the cloak room at a dance and he’d row off with all the provisions in case of a shipwreck.

Mine Kampf

Every day we research our sports year item and we like to begin by researching the year itself in general. And every day we’ve noticed something crazy: a hell of a lot of Americans died in mine disasters in the latter half of the 19th century.

And it doesn’t get any better in the 20th century.

Between 1839 and today there have been, by my one-time count, 72 mine disasters that claimed AT LEAST 49 lives. At least. The worst was Monongah, W. Va., in 1907, that killed 362 people. And that’s not counting all the many, many, many more mine disasters/accidents that killed fewer than 49 people.

But here’s something worth remembering. Between 1839 and now there have probably been fewer mining deaths in the USA, or about the same total, as there have been coronavirus deaths in this country since late February.

In fact, 1,223 more Americans died yesterday from Covid-19. It’s incredible how cavalier everyone has gotten about it.

$274,000 —- A Month!

But let’s return to the previous headline, which I did not address head-on: “Quality of Life vs. Inequality of Life.”

A couple weeks ago AT&T chairman Randall Stephenson, 59, announced that he was retiring. He’s walking away with $64 MILLION in pension on top of what he’s already earned, which averages out the past three years to $30 million per. And none of the above includes his $20 million in stock and options from AT&T.

It probably will not surprise you to learn that earlier this spring Stephenson’s, whose AT&T owns CNN and WarnerMedia, announced earlier this spring that the company will likely be cutting plenty of jobs. But, you know, no one’s taking his golden goose.

When I see the people in Minneapolis rioting and lighting fires, justifiably as an outpouring of complete outrage at the injustice of the system, I wonder why the rest of us aren’t joining them.

Why we’re not marching to Stephenson’s estate, swimming across the moat and storming the property like Lee Marvin & Co. in The Dirty Dozen, and locking him and his family in a cellar and just tossing grenades down the air vents.

Frankly, I’d be fine with that. $274,000 a month. Five families could live off that per year. And he doesn’t even need it. Every year his pension could take care of 60 families. That’s a subdivision.

There’s that scene from Key Largo where Humphrey Bogart reminds Edward G. Robinson’s gangster that he had plenty enough to live off for multiple lifetimes, so why is he getting back in the game and courting danger? And the G. man replies, “I want more.”

And that is the disease of America.

Black To The Future

A blacks-only pro football league would incite Cam-demonium in corporate board rooms

So we were reading about the tragic death of Greg Floyd (I mean, yeah, “forgery in progress” is dire but really…) in Minneapolis and about the Central Park Birder and oh yeah, let’s not forget Ahmaud Arbery, and it got us to thinking: What if black athletes started their own league (I can already hear Mike saying, “They did; it’s called the NBA.”)

But honestly, what would happen if black athletes banded together and formed blacks-only basketball and football leagues? And if they all agreed to not play in the NBA and NFL? Can you imagine how that would upend the power structure in America, particularly as regards the latter league?

Minneapolis: that rare case of Trumpers wearing masks

Admittedly, I can’t see NBA players, who have an enlightened commissioner and a pretty good thing going, doing this. But what about the NFL? Imagine players instituting a blacks-only league and most importantly, OWNING IT THEMSELVES. And imagine none of them playing in the NFL. The most important thing here would be exclusive black ownership and then exclusively black players.

The NFL is currently the biggest TV show in prime-time. It’s also overwhelmingly black. Want to improve the way your people are treated by police and others? Take this gargantuan first step. It would be incredibly bold and dangerous, and an entire generation of current stars would need to put their careers on the line (which is why it most likely won’t happen). But imagine if they did. Imagine if you could expunge old white racist, massage-seeking billionaires from professional football.

That would be a day of amazing grace.

And by the way, as Don Lemon pointed out last night on CNN, maybe THIS is why Colin Kaepernick, who would be welcome in said league, was taking a knee.

Sports Year 1900

On January 19 the American League is founded in Philadelphia with eight franchises (here in the order in which they’d finish): the Chicago White Stockings, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Indianapolis Hoosiers, the Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Blues, Cleveland Lake Shores, Buffalo Bisons, Minneapolis Millers.

The National League, meanwhile, contracts from 12 to eight teams, eliminating franchises in Baltimore, Cleveland, Washington and Louisville. The last city will never return to the Major Leagues. At least not yet.

***

On February 27, F.C. Bayern is founded in Munich. It will go on to become one of the premier clubs in all of Europe, i.e. on the planet. Not three weeks letter F.C. Ajax, which will become the greatest Dutch club of all, is founded in Amsterdam.

***

The 1900 Olympics are staged in Paris, beginning on May 14 and running until October 28th. This as part of the World’s Fair. Nineteen events are held, including automobile and motorcycle racing, ballooning, a swimming obstacle race and underwater swimming. In shooting events, live pigeons were used.

While the French won the most overall medals, American Alvin Kraenzlein was the standout star, taking first place in the 60-meter dash, the 110-meter hurdles, the 200-m hurdles and the long jump. After winning the final even, Kraenzlein was punched in the face by his rival and fellow American, Myer Prinstein. See, there was a Sunday final and preliminaries before. Prinstein, a Jew who attended Syracuse, was forbidden by school officials to compete on Sunday, when the final was held. Kraenzlein was Catholic and attended the University of Wisconsin.

Apparently, both men had agreed in a fit of sportsmanship beforehand not to compete on Sunday and let the results stand as they were. Each had held the world record within the past two years. On Sunday Kraenzlein decided to compete and Prinstein, who settled for silver, smashed him in the face.

The following day Prinstein took gold in the triple jump. He would win gold in both events in 1904.

***

In the Olympic marathon, three American runner protest the French runners finishing one-two, claiming they took a short cut. The French harriers were the only ones with no mud on their clothing. Fast and exceptionally clean.

In the Boston Marathon, Canadian Jack Caffery wins the first of his consecutive Bostons with a time of 2:39 (25-mile course, reminder). He will die in 1919 at age 39 from the Spanish flu.

***

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Squawk On The Wild Side

Despite their make-nice this morning, there’s no hiding yesterday’s contretemps on CNBC’s “Squawk On The Street.” Joe Kernen “questioned the questions” that Andrew Ross Sorkin called him on it. And then he took him to task for “panicking” about everything. That’s when Sorkin had enough.

“JOSEPH! JOSEPH! YOU DIDN’T PANIC ABOUT ANYTHING!” Sorkin said, . “JOSEPH, 100,000 PEOPLE DIED! 100,000 PEOPLE DIED, JOE! AND ALL YOU DID WAS TRY TO DO WAS HELP YOUR FRIEND THE PRESIDENT!

“That’s what you did! Every single morning on this show! Every single morning on this show! You used and abused your position, Joe!”

Well, Joe’s friend the president certainly knows a little about using and abusing your position. But that’s what Sorkin got wrong. Joe is not the president’s friend; he’s his sycophant. And as soon as Kernen says anything contrary to the president’s desires (which may be never), they’re not friends anymore.

So Who’s Right?

Kernen argues, correctly, that if no one had done anything with their stock portfolio in early March they’d pretty much be back where they started. Correct. But using that logic, why does anyone tune in to CNBC in the first place? If you didn’t touch your stock portfolio in October of 2008, most of your companies would eventually have gotten back to where they were within five years.

So, yeah, don’ panic but how much time are you willing to sit on that very, very hot seat as you see your personal worth plunge thousands, tens of thousands, maybe more?

Meanwhile, Sorkin’s questions break down this way: If the barometric pressure is this, and the relative humidity is that, and the very, very dark storm clouds are directly overhead and the temperature suddenly drops, then why isn’t it raining?

And the answer, we believe, is that the stock market does not take the pulse of the economy, it takes the pulse of the wealthy. And for whatever reasons the truly wealthy in this country, the hedge-funders and the billionaires and the CEOs, want Trump to succeed. So they’re priming the market to bolster the Dow.

But it’s more than that. The 100,000 deaths of mostly non-work force people are not a detriment, but a benefit. Meanwhile, the pandemic is a built-in excuse to trim the workforce. Finally, when the going gets tough, the government floats them “pay me back when you feel like it” loans of OUR tax dollars. But as for those of us who paid those taxes, sorry, we don’t believe in handouts.

Insidious, eh?

We still believe in reality. Unemployment in double-digits, 100,000 dead and no reason to think we won’t reach 200,000 before Christmas, unrest with China, a suffering middle-class. Eventually the system becomes overwhelmed, no? To capitulate now, from the mega-wealthy, would be to abandon Trump. They’ve got an interesting decision to make in the next few months.

Meanwhile, the Dow is up 1,000 points in the past week.

Killer On The Loose

Meanwhile, we were grimly amused by CNN’s (and others’) coverage of the manhunt surrounding a U Conn student who murdered two people over the Memorial Day weekend. He was eventually apprehended without incident yesterday in Maryland.

But come on, now. Two people! Two!

Donald Trump has killed tens of thousands of people in the past three months. He’s right up there with the Viet Cong, who in all fairness were never this efficient.

A Columbia University study released last week found that had the US started social distancing a week earlier, it could have prevented the loss of at least 36,000 lives. That’s just so far. And that’s just if we’d begun earlier in March, not even in February or even January, back when Trump said, “We have it totally under control.” I think he told his friend Joe Kernen that.

Had the U.S. followed the lead of, ironically, China back in early February, the number of U.S. deaths would’ve been more than halved. But that’s back when this all was a “Democratic hoax,” remember? At least 36,000 fewer dead Americans if Trump had just behaved with the common sense of your local grocery store clerk. And CNN’s wasting my time with a college kid who bumped off two people.

Do the news, Joe. I’m begging you, do the news.

Wendell Wrote A Book!

A memoir, really. MH pal and contributor Wendell Barnhouse has penned a book about his 40 years in sports journalism. It has a felicitous title: “Bylines, Datelines and Deadlines: A Memoir of a Sportswriter’s Life” and is available FOR FREE right here. So please, if you have the time, give it a read and maybe even send our friend some words of insight on what he’s written.

Sports Year 1899

Sewanee: The University of the South, becomes the first southern gridiron power (“S-E-W!”), finishing 12-0. The small Tennessee Episcopal liberal arts school’s undefeated season is more impressive when you learn that the Tigers undertook a road trip in which they shut out five opponents in six days. The names of those foes: Texas, Texas A&M, Tulane, LSU, Mississippi.

Even after this feat—remember, not just wins but shutouts, all on the road, all in one week, by a combined score of 91-0— Kirk Herbstreit went on GameDay and said that he still doubted Sewanee could beat Ohio State, which is why he had the Buckeyes ranked higher in his poll.

****

Lawrence Brignolia, a 6th-grade dropout, becomes the heaviest (161 pounds) champion in the history of (to this day, I mean) the Boston Marathon. Brignolia had run the first two Bostons, finishing in 4:05 (following a hearty breakfast) in the inaugural 1897 event and then 2:55 the following year. This year’s heavy gale-like headwinds suited Brignolia’s stocky frame and he finished in 2:54, despited turning his ankle on a loose stone just a mile from the finish line and having to walk-jog afterward.

***

In the Midwest, the University of Kansas plays its first basketball game, coached by one James Naismith. They lose 16-5 to the Kansas City YMCA.

***

The Cleveland Spiders set a record for Major League incompetence (and perhaps incontinence, but who knows?) by losing 134 of their 154 games. Cleveland’s 20-134 record remains the sub-standard for futility for all Major League baseball teams and the Spiders are dropped from the National League in the offseason when it contracts from 12 to 8 teams. Bring on the Browns!

***

Harry Vardon wins his third of a record six British Open championships. His last will come in 1914. The son of a French mom and a Brit dad, Vardon was born on the isle of Jersey betwixt the two nations. We like to think that his mom was a French maid and that pops had one of those randy curlicue mustaches that always seemed to get men into trouble back then, but we’re only supposing. We don’t know.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Black Birder, White Lies*

*The judges will also accept “Unleashed Fury”, “Bye Bye Black Birding” and “Stupor Fly,” but not “Pigeon Woo” or “Dog Day Afternoon”

As frequent (but not frequent enough) MH collaborator Katie M. put it last night, “Central Park dog lady really blew that ‘meet cute’.” Katie’s husband, Mike M., and I just wondered when Eric Dickerson changed his name and became a birder. She got what she deserved and he’ll either get a nature show on NatGeo (“Cooper’s Coop”) or a reality dating show (“Christian Cooper’s Love Nest”) out of it.

Mask-erade

Must we really weigh in on this? We’re so tired of Trump. Can we stop calling him an idiot and a fool and a racist and just agree that he’s fat and that he’s mastered the art of manipulating Dumb America? Really, what’s left to say?

SportsWorld

This day in February 1964 when Cassius Clay met the Beatles also happens to be the day Robert Lipsyte met Cassius Clay

The abeyance of live sporting events plus our needing to prepare for a class we’re teaching has led to an uptick in sports books being consumed. We just finished SportsWorld by Robert Lipsyte, published in 1976. Lipsyte was the New York Times’ wonder boy writer and then columnist in the 1960s and by the time he hung it up (at least as a full-time employee of the NYT) in the early ’70s, he was still shy of his 40th birthday.

Yes to this! Ask Ross Greenberg (former HBO Sports chief) who invented the “30 for 30”

Having read Lipsyte’s book, an examination of American society and its relationship through the prism of various teams (the Mets!) or revolutionary athletes (Muhammad Ali), with whom Lipsyte had a close and long relationship, I’m somewhat embarrassed. In the way a military recruit is given a haircut and a box of condoms upon reporting to boot camp, I feel that every young (and naive) sportswriter/broadcaster should be handed a copy of this book. And you may not agree with everything Lipsyte puts down here, but it should make you think.

Dirty Boulevard

Okay, not every street in Manhattan looked like this in the 1970s, but enough did. And we remember. When our dad took us to a Knicks game, parking at the Port Authority, we’d clutch his hand tightly as we navigated those nine block from the PA to MSG. It’s a concrete jungle out there.

Recent reports tell of a mass exodus from NYC as high-six and seven-figure earners migrate, mostly northeast to Fairfield County, Conn. (and some even to Devil’s Gulch, AZ, if you count the two numbers to the right of the decimal point). That will bring rents down and in a way return NYC to Lou Reed’s “Dirty Boulevard,” which was written in 1989 but better portrays the NYC of the Taxi Driver and Mean Streets ’70s. Some old-timers are actually looking forward to flushing the city of all that d-bag hedge fund money. Remember, the Law of Unintended Consequences is always here to add irony and surprise to any event.

Sports Year 1898

On New Year’s Day New York City annexes land from surrounding counties and splits itself into five boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island (the last annexation will prove totally unnecessary and it should have been yielded to Jersey). We don’t yet know what this has to do with sports, but it seems kind of a big deal.

On the last day of this year, Joseph Vacher, “the French Ripper,” is executed. Vacher was a French serial killer who murdered between a dozen and two dozen people, mostly isolated shepherds tending their flocks. Previously Vacher had twice attempted to kill himself, unsuccessfully. Try, try again! Not “try again.”

***

In Chicago, the Morgan Athletic Club is founded. You know it now as the Arizona Cardinals. This is pro football’s oldest extant team and, with no disrespect meant to the Detroit Lions, its most enduringly mediocre.

***

The second running of the Boston Marathon is won by, and we’re not making this up, Ronald MacDonald. You imagine Mayor McCheese putting the medal around his neck. A Canadian who had relocated to Boston and attended Boston College, MacDonald cut 13 minutes off the previous year’s time, finishing in 2:42.

****

In his first Major League at-bat, Bill Dugglesby, a pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, hits a grand slam. The feat will not be repeated until 2005.

***

In Reading, Pa., Lizzie Arlington plays one inning to become the first female to play in a professional organized baseball game (for the Reading Coal Heavers of the Atlantic League). Arlington heaved not coal but pitches, giving up two hits and a walk but no runs in relief.

***

The U.S. Amateur Athletic Union organizes the first national basketball championship (we wonder if any teams west of Chicago or south of Baltimore participated) and it is won by the 23rd Street YMCA from Manhattan.

***

By riding Sly Fox to victory in the Preakness, Willie Simms, a black jockey, becomes the first of his ilk to ride horses to victory in all three Triple Crown races. The “event” was not yet known as the Triple Crown and Simms did not accomplish this feat (this hoof?) all in the same year, though he did ride the winners of both the Kentucky Derby (Plaudit) and the Preakness (Sly Fox… so it was also a quick Sly Fox) in this year.

***

In motor racing, the Paris-Amsterdam-Paris Trail is run over the course of one week in July and covers roughly 900 miles. In this same year, and not in this race, the first automobile fatality occurs in England when a motorist loses control of his vehicle on a downhill and it slams into a tree. Days later, Geico, Progressive, Liberty, All-State and State Farm all release their first commercials.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Sick’s Figures*

*The judges will also accept “The We’s Dumb of Crowds”

In the past two days U.S. coronavirus deaths have slowed (hmm), failing to top 1,000 each day. And so as I type this we’re still not at 100,000, not officially, but we will be by day’s end. And the Trump White House gets to disconnect their handling of the pandemic from Memorial Day, at least officially.

Going forward, it’s going to be difficult to trust the numbers. As this Op-Ed, written by a New York physician who recently lost her mother shows, the president will do anything in his power to stymie the death toll. And we’ve all learned what that means. Here’s another example.

Area Man Who Wrote ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ Has One

Suffered a cardiac event, but did not have blood on his face, was not a big disgrace

Queen guitarist Brian May, who penned the song that would also be the title track of the band’s 1974 album, had a decent sense of humor about it all after a full recovery that included the installation of three stents. “Hmm,” May wrote on the ‘gram, “‘Sheer heart attack, eh? I think I always worried a little bit about that album title.”

Ironically, much of that album was written by May in a hospital, as he’d been struck down with an illness in the midst of a tour opening in Europe for Mott The Hoople. Apparently, all the young dudes could not carry the news.

Oddly, that song was written for MTH by… David Bowie (totally sounds like him, no?). Which gets us back to May and his pulse feeling under pressure.

When To Reopen The Golden Dome

Fr. John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, wrote a coronavirus-related Op-Ed in this morning’s New York Times that is (surprise!) far more insightful and intelligent than anything that has spewed from the president’s mouth (related to this disease or, well, ever). You should read it.

One thing with which I strongly agree with the good reverend: Online classes are fine and all, but the experience of being on campus, of interacting with fellow students in class and more importantly, in the dorms, is invaluable. This past weekend six of us college buddies were texting back and forth and I was laughing out loud at the messages. Thirty years later, our sophomoric senses of humor still titillates me.

Also, burying the lede somewhat, Notre Dame is going to have students return two weeks earlier in August and send them home at Thanksgiving through the Christmas break. I could potentially see this becoming a thing even after the pandemic. We shall see.

As for the football team, Jenkins sounds rarin’ to go. Not to have anywhere near a full stadium, but rarin’ to play a schedule. Remember, Clemson is slated to visit the first week of November.

Murder In Broad Daylight

The black man below, who continually told the white police officer above, “I can’t breathe,” died minutes after this video was shot. Apparently of asphyxiation. The police officer ignored bystanders requests to get off the man’s neck.

It should be noted that the police officers were responding to a call of “a forgery in progress.” The man did resist arrest, but if I were a black man I probably would, too. Look at what happens once they get the cuffs on you.

Just insane. This is what they teach at the academy?

Sports Year 1897

On April 19, the first Boston Marathon is staged. The event is the brainchild of John Graham, who had been the Olympic team manager in Athens the year before and been inspired by the marathon staged there (from Marathon to Athens). Graham is a member of the Boston Athletic Association.

The distance is 24 1/2 miles and of the 15 entrants, only 10 will finish. The winner, John McDermott, crosses the finish line in 2:55:10. He walked much of the final 5 miles but still was the only man to break 3 hours. McDermott had won the only previous marathon run on U.S. soil, the year before (from Stamford, Conn., to the Bronx, New York), which we didn’t know about or we would have noted yesterday. You can read about it here.

***

On St. Patrick’s Day, Bob Fitzsimmons scores a 14th-round knockout of James Corbett in the first heavyweight title bout captured on film.

***

The first French Open women’s singles event takes place and is won by Francoise Masson.

***

Not a sports moment, but in West Virginia the case of a man charged with the murder of his wife results in his conviction with the help of “spectral evidence.”

Also this year: the electron is discovered, aspirin is first synthesized and Bram Stoker’s book about a weird count from Transylvania is released.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

We Salute You

Before ‘Murica became your favorite football team, hundreds of thousands of men and women (mostly young… and mostly men) gave their lives fighting for this country. The service, as the mission, was humble.

We watched parts of the Memorial Day concert from the nation’s capital on Sunday evening and we really liked the message from Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Whoever wrote it deserves a promotion.

Memorial Day 100K

Ordinarily, some of the nation’s more renowned 10-K runs take place on Memorial Day weekend (we think of the Bolder Boulder in Colorado, which we’d like to do some day). This year Memorial Day will live in infamy as the U.S.A. turns over the death odometer: there’s a very excellent chance that the 100,000th official death from Covid-19 will be recorded today (likely that number was passed awhile ago but when you have a president who, you know, doesn’t like to test, it’s hard to know what the actual figure is).

Never fear: today President Trump will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Cougher.

As an aside, New York state has nearly 24,000 deaths from Covid-19 since early March, more than twice as many as any other state. You know where Donald Trump has not been this spring? New York. Not at all. He’s visited Arizona and Michigan. But New York? Navaho. Must be cuz he has no history there.

Downsizing America

So there was the front page of the Sunday New York Times staring at you, with the names of 1,000 U.S. coronavirus casualties (if you looked closely, there was a dude (or lady marmalade) from New Orleans, aged 44, named “Black N Mild.” We loved that. Can you imagine one of the editors asking, “Can we sub in someone else here? Nope? I mean, there’s only like 99,000 more candidates but you wanna stick with ‘Black N Mild’? Okay.“)

So we counted down the first 100 names on the list from the hyperlink above and here’s was what we found: 66 of those names were of people who were 66 or older, or above retirement age. I don’t know how representative those 100 are of the 1,000 and how representative the 1,000 are of all the victims, but let’s assume they are an accurate representation.

You’ve got two-thirds of the Covid-19 victims being Americans of retirement age which, don’t tell grandma, means that they are citizens who are more or less a drain on the federal budget. Sure, they’ve worked all of their lives and paid taxes, but now they’re collecting Social Security and using Medicare. Which may explain the two reasons why the White House doesn’t worry too much about the virus: 1) If you just let businesses reopen, it’s actually an economic windfall (“Soylent Green is people!”) to be rid of all these old pensioners and 2) most everyone of working age, even if they do contract it, will not die. Unofficially, in our count of 100 dead, we doubt we saw more than five victims who were under the age of 40.

The White House we have is backed by very wealthy CEOs and Wall Streeters who think nothing of downsizing their workforce in order to become more profitable. And our administration fully supports them. So why would anyone be surprised that this White House is fully in favor of downsizing America, of getting rid of those who don’t produce, of culling the herd? What they’re not actually (at least not often) saying out loud but are thinking is, This coronavirus is a godsend! Pandemic? No, panacea.

TCM Today

You’ve got a full day of greatness today. We’ll begin with the best, at 8 p.m., The Best Years Of Our Lives. We now count this among our all-time top five. A sublimely rendered film on a topic that could’ve been maudlin or saccharine but never is. Theresa Wright sparkles and Dana Andrews deserved an Oscar.

Next best, at 11:15 a.m., The Great Escape. Richard Attenborough, Steve McQueen, James Garner, Charles Bronson, etc.

Better than you might think: Where Eagles Dare, from 1968, starring Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton.

And not as great as it might’ve been, The Dirty Dozen, which is sort of a WW2 take, in a way, on The Magnificent Seven. Except that our ruffian protagonists are playing offense, not defense.

Don’t miss The Best Years Of Our Lives if you’ve not yet seen it. And you’ll love The Great Escape if you like guy flicks.

Sports Year 1896

The Crash At Crush

This really happened, and even though it is not strictly a sports event, we’re including it. In the latter half of the 19th century, no accident was as potentially horrific to the average person as a train wreck (maybe a coal-mining disaster, but that only befell coal miners). In fact, in July of this year 50 people died when two trains collided just west of Atlantic City.

So William Crush, a railroad general passenger agent, hit upon the idea to have two trains collide for fun. Just to see what it was like. Who wouldn’t want to see that? Turns out, 40,000 people turned out in a designated spot about 14 miles north of Waco, Texas, on September 15 to watch. This made the spot, designated for the day as “Crush” after our boy William, the second-most populated town in Texas that day. It also illustrated the dire need for Major League Baseball to expand beyond St. Louis.

Anyway, the two empty trains (save for the conductors) raced toward one another. Then the conductors leaped out, with each train going roughly 45 m.p.h. which, if we remember out Doppler Effect correctly, means that they hit at a combined speed of 90 m.p.h.

The boilers on both trains blew up. Like a bomb. Crush hadn’t planned on that. Who knew?!? Three people died from the flying train shrapnel. But the crowd soon got over it and took their places posing for photographs on the demolished trains. That would’ve been all over the ‘gram and Twitter today.

***

In the spring the first modern Olympic Games are staged in Athens, Greece. 13 nations are represented. The first gold medal, in the triple jump (known as the “hop skip, jump”), is won on April 16 by American James Connolly, thus making him the first Olympic gold medalist in more than 1,500 years.

Connolly, 27, had dropped out of Harvard to take part in the Olympics. He had requested a leave of absence but the school denied it. Fifty-two years later Harvard offered Connolly an honorary doctorate, but he turned it down. Still chapped.

***

Harry Vardon wins the first of his six British Opens.

***

The first World Figure Skating Championship, men only, is held in St. Petersburg. Gilbert Fuchs of Germany wins.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

“It’s People! Soylent Green Is People!”

The 1973 flick Soylent Green was on the TCM this morning (as part of Edward G. Robinson month, although considering the month it is, why isn’t it Virginia Mayo month???). So you probably know that it’s about a not-too-distant-future America (from 1973’s vantage point) with a preponderance of elderly, massive economic inflation, and a food shortage.

So the government clandestinely solves the problem by ridding itself of the elderly and processing them into food. It’s 2020 and we’ve taken every step but the final one. But you know, maybe coming soon to a Smithfield’s near you… Grandma!

Quite A Gui!

He’s 11 years old, and he just landed the first 1080 (three complete revolutions) on a vert ramp in the history of skateboarding. That’s Gui Khury of Brazil doing it.

Tony Hawk never did that; Hawk accomplished a 900 in 1999.

Eight years ago, 12 year-old Tom Schaar did turn a 1080, but he did so on a megaramp, which allowed him to build up more speed.

Here’s the thing about skateboarding, as opposed to its companion activity surfing: no one ever gets bitten by a shark skateboarding.

“Thousands Of Americans Must Die For The Dow”

In today’s excellent New York Times opinion column, “Dying For The Dow,” Paul Krugman argues that the Trump White House has abandoned any pretense of managing the pandemic here in the Lower 48. It’s all about the pulse of the stock market, not of the 1,000-plus Americans who are perishing daily.

Someone at the White House did the calculus. Even if we lose 3.5 million Americans, a number that seems both huge and obscene, that’s only 1% of the population. To them that’s a very fair tax to pay in order to keep their resorts open and Net Jets flying. As Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick infamously said last month, “There are more important things than life.”

By the way, we’ll hit 100,000 domestic coronavirus deaths, at least officially, some time during Memorial Day weekend. My guess is Sunday. Fitting, no?

Why Is 13 Unlucky?

A younger colleague (as most are now) asked me this yesterday and I had no reply. So I looked it up for all you triskaidekaphobians out there. According to Wikipedia, three possible historical explanations:

— The Last Supper had 13 people at the table (notice I didn’t write “men” because I read The DaVinci Code, too). Think of Judas as the 13th Man, which is almost but not entirely unlike Texas A&M’s 12th Man.

–On October 13, 1307, King Phillip IV of France ordered the arrest of most of the Knights Templar, most of whom were killed (again, The DaVinci Code, which must have explained all this 13 stuff, but I forgot). The KT were a Catholic military order which, yes, sounds a little off-message.

–Years with 13 full moons were very hard on calendar-making monks.

Anyway, two things about 13 worth noting, numerically: 1) It is the first emirp (that’s an actual word that is sorta self-explanatory), that is the first prime number of two different digits that, when read backwards, is also a prime number (otherwise “11” would be) and 2) Though a prime number, it is a sum of two squared numbers (2 and 3; as is “5”, by the way, the first such).

Remote Patrol

Mad Monster Party

8 p.m. TCM

Remember—how long ago was it, yesterday?—when I wrote that you would be better served if I wrote about stuff that was going to be on TCM before it aired? Well, here you go. A puppet-animation classic from 1967 that’s part camp, part horror, part love story, part comedy. I happened upon this a long, long time ago as a boy and have loved it ever since. If you’ve seen, you do, too.

I’ve got to work so will miss most of it. Lucky you.

Sports Year 1895

On February 9 in Holyoke, Mass., William G. Morgan creates the sport of volleyball (then known as “mintonette”). Maybe if he’d just called it volleyball he’d be as widely known as James Naismith. Same state, four years apart, by the way.

If you’re wondering, yes, Morgan knew Naismith. He met him in 1892 while studying for a P.E. career at the very Springfield YMCA where hoops was born.

***

On September 3 in Latrobe, Pa., the first professional football game is played. Latrobe YMCA defeats the Jeannette Athletic Club, 12-0, after which Stephen A. Smith declares them “The GOAT!”

***

Automobile races are beginning to rival, and replace, six-day races in popularity. Italy holds its first, while France holds one that takes place in 11 stages: the first rally. The Paris-to-Bordeaux race is the first in which all competitors start at the same time and the winner, Paul Kochlin, completes the course in 48 hours.

The Chicago Times-Herald sponsors an automobile race, featuring six vehicles, from Chicago to Evanston and back, 54 miles. What’s really going on here? The fledgling industry is attempting to drum up public sentiment for the horseless carriage.

In this same year, by the way, Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius publishes a paper titled, “”On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air Upon The Temperature of the Ground.” That is, the first paper on the “Greenhouse Effect.”

****

Meanwhile in human-powered transport, women’s six-day racing becomes all the rage. Tillie Anderson, cycling in and around Chicago, breaks the century record, pedaling 100 miles in six hours, 52 minutes and 15 seconds.

****

Penn becomes the fourth different Ivy League institution, by our count, to be named the college football champions (after Yale, Princeton and Harvard…we’re not holding out much hope for you, Brown).

***

The first U.S. Open, in golf, is held in Newport, R.I. Horace Rawlins wins.

***

Thank you, Jacob.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

Bye, George

The world’s second-loveliest Phyllis has passed away. Phyllis George, the progenitor of all that was to follow of women in sports broadcasting, passed away at the age of 70.

George, who began as a co-host on CBS’ NFL Today a few years after winning Miss America, was the first and remains the most charismatic of women in sports broadcasting. It was the mid-1970s. The networks ruled television and CBS ruled the networks: All In The Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Carol Burnett Show, M*A*S*H, 60 Minutes and The Waltons. A murderer’s row (Dallas would come couple years later).

Then on Sunday, at 12:30 p.m., Brent Musburger and Irv Cross were joined by George, who was not only stunningly beautiful (“George-ous”) but charming and savvy. A true Texan gal. She was the first, and she’s still the best.

It’s Not Nice To Fool (With) Mother Nature

Yesterday, in The New York Times, Thomas Friedman said everything I wanted to say (and plenty that I already have, I believe).

Hold The Mayo!

Mayo, Reagan, Nelson

We caught the 1952 film She’s Working Her Way Through College on the TCM the other night, which was utterly charming and cornball. But, and we know it would be better to tell you about movies before we’d watched them so that you could see them, too, think of this as a reminder to watch it the next time it comes around. Items:

–The title is a misnomer. The “She” in the title, Angela Gardner, played by Virginia Mayo, has already worked and earned enough money, on her own, to attend college. Now she’s simply attending college.

–Mayo was 31 when this film was released. Known better as the selfish wife in The Best Years Of Our Lives (1946), Mayo is dazzling here as a dancer (it’s a musical) while playing a smart, independent woman. She reminds us of someone we know and she’s terrific.

–Near the end of the film, Ronald Reagan, as the professor who is defending Mayo’s honor, delivers a speech that helps you to understand why he would later be such a natural in the White House. It’s also a cleverly disguised speech against McCarthyism.

–The school is named Midwestern State, the football uniforms are blue and gold, and there’s a sign held aloft at a football rally that reads, “Beat Michigan.” No wonder I loved this film.

–A word here for Mayo’s co-star, Gene Nelson. Man, this dude was talented. He’s an incredible dancer but there’s also a scene that allows him to show off in a 50’s style gymnasium (and I don’t think they used a double) where he proves himself to be a top-flight gymnast, boxer and even basketball player—all while singing. I know they dubbed Mayo’s voice, but I’m not sure if they dubbed his. Either way, I don’t know why he wasn’t a more major star.

–Mayo’s nemesis, Ivy, is played by Patrice Waymore. In real life Waymore was married to Errol Flynn at the time, which was its own special brand of connubial hell. The two were wed from 1950 until Flynn’s death in 1959. At the time Flynn died, of a sudden illness while flying to Canada, he was traveling with a 17 year-old girl as his companion.

–If, like us, you grew up watching Happy Days but had not lived through the Fifties, you’ll see where Garry Marshall “borrowed” an Easter Egg or two from this film. For instance, the place where young couples go to “neck” is named Inspiration Point.

So, yeah, we liked this film plenty. And Ronald Reagan does a wonderful job. Put him in a film on a college campus and he always delivered.

Olive and Mabel

“913 squirrels chased, none caught…” That’s Scottish sports broadcaster Andrew Cotter, who has touched a nerve (or a funny bone) with these videos starring his two pooches, one who is a “very good dog” and the other who displays a “lack of focus.”

Animals are the best. We’re lucky we have them to save us from one another.

Sports Year 1894

On July 22nd the world’s first competitive motor race is staged in France, from Paris to Rouen. The winner of the 78-mile race, driving a Peugeot, is Albert LeMaitre.

***

Injuries, due mainly to the flying wedge formation, lead to four players being crippled during the annual Harvard-Yale game (now known as the Hampden Park Blood Bath). The Big game will be suspended until 1897 and the Army-Navy game will be suspended until 1898 for similar reasons.

****

The Baltimore Orioles win the first of three National League championships. A postseason championship series, the Temple Cup, is introduced, pitting the N.L.’s top two clubs against one another. Seems fine, right?

No. After four years and with the regular season runner-up winning three times, it is disbanded. Fans think of it as unfair that the regular season champ is not rewarded appropriately. What a novel concept.

***

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

We’ll be taking a few days off next week. Not going on vacation. Not sick. Just that we’ve got a big project due and we’ll be putting aside all scribbling projects except for that until it’s completed. Adjust your schedule accordingly.

Starting Five

How To Overcome A Financial Crisis In One Bold Stroke

Anyone notice whom the president appears to be directing most of his hostility towards this week, besides female correspondents? That’s right, it’s GYNA!

“Why don’t you ask GYNA?” to a reporter on Monday and then more tweets later in the week. Yesterday on Fox Business News he told his old gal pal in the media Maria Bartiromo, after blaming the entire crisis on China, “There are many things we could do…we could cut off the whole relationship [with China]. Now if you did, what would happen? You’d save $500 billion.”

Not exactly sure on Trump’s math, but that’s not really the point. He needs to serve up red meat to his base (and they may not be seeing red meat in the coming days) and so why not pick on China? Certainly, the Chinese are clandestine, not rules-abiding and duplicitous (all the traits Trump usually admires in a person or institution), but not when he’s on the other end of their game.

Yesterday I was texting back and forth with some (smarter) friends. One who has made GONZO amounts of money in the stock market. I asked him how all of these bad financial numbers stop. And he wrote, “World War II rescued us from the Great Depression… just sayin’.”

Will We Meat Again?

This campaign may not have worked, but our bovine buddies are about to be in the clear, at least for the time being, thanks to Covid-19. Hear me now and listen to me later: there’s about to be a massive shortage in beef and pork. Massive.

If you like red meat, suggest you buy some today at your local market. Or go on to kansascitysteaks.com. I’d be more concerned about ginning up a run on beef if this site had more readers. But since it does not, I don’t think this warning, here, will incite mass hysteria. But I’m telling you, trust me on this one, beef and pork is about to become scarce as meat processing plants close down. For the time being, at least, chicken will remain plentiful.

It may finally be time for crickets to become the meat of choice, no?

Last night, and this is independent of MH’s info, Gov. Andrew Cuomo appeared on Rachel Maddow and tackled this because New York state has a meat processing plant or two that’s experiencing mass infections. Cuomo said, and I’m paraphrasing, “It’s not a meat issue. It has nothing to do with the meat itself. It’s a density issue. It’s how closely people are working together. One person infected in one of those plants becomes a ‘super spreader,‘ which is another term I never knew and that I wish I didn’t know.”

Here’s another reason we love Cuomo: Maddow asked him if and when there’s a second wave of the virus, if he thinks the federal government will respond differently. Cuomo flatly said No. “They’ve established their gameplan,” he said (again, paraphrasing).

Cuomo didn’t offer false hope, at least in terms of a federal response. Remember in the early days of this (back when I was on Twitter) when you’d be chided for not being hopeful, for not being optimistic, as if that would have any effect on the virus? What dopes. All any elected official owes any of us now (or any time) is the truth. What’s so difficult about that?

On this same show, by the way, Maddow showed charts that demonstrated that New York’s curve has a serious downslope (that’s good) the past two weeks and that today New York is opening up ONLY if certain distinct regions have met each of seven conditions that are all fact- or data-based. And New York is not opening up as a whole but each of 10 distinct regions must meet EACH of those criteria.

Meanwhile, Maddow also showed how other states, Trump states, are simply opening up as if it’s Black Friday but how each of their coronavirus curves (e.g. Texas and Mississippi and South Dakota and Arizona) are in the midst of a massive climb.

Keep praying to your devout Christian God while actually worshipping the Almighty Dollar and Donald Trump, folks. It’s only the lives of your fellow citizens that you’re squandering. How many deaths in your state is it going to take, I wonder?

Covid M*A*S*H-up

You may have already seen this, but the producers of M*A*S*H had this entire coronavirus deal explained nearly 50 years ago.

Mexicoronavirus

We check worldometers.info daily and find it to be the easiest source for checking up on basic coronavirus statistics (cases, deaths, and both by country). And what we’ve noticed in the past week is that one country whose numbers are really jumping is Mexico (Brazil, too, by the way).

Mexico reported 257 dead yesterday—the most of any nation by a factor of nearly two.

Miercoles: 294 deaths.

Martes: 108 deaths.

Lunes: 112 deaths

Dia de la Madre: 193 deaths.

There are some other Iberian-influenced nations in the New World dealing with similar spikes. On Mother’s Day, Brazil reported 467 deaths and Eduador reported 422 deaths. Not sure if that was a bookkeeping issue catching up with past cases being re-categorized.

San Marino: Not self-isolated enough

Another stat to note is that this truly is a pandemic. Madagascar, an island off the east coast of Africa, has cases and deaths. Andorra, the tiniest little country located in the Pyrenees pinched between Spain and France, has cases. Montenegro has cases. Nepal. San Marino, which is not a gated community in Orange County but rather a minuscule and mountainous principality within Italy, San Marino has cases.

It’s everywhere. And no one has more cases than the good ol’ USA. No one else comes close.

Sports Year 1893

On April 8, the first college basketball game is played in Beaver Falls, Pa., between Geneva College and New Brighton YMCA. Seven minutes in Dickie V. yells, “Better get a T.O., baby!” Geneva wins.

***

Alabama and Auburn, on February 22, play football for the first time. They meet at Lakeview Baseball Park in Birmingham. The Tide lose 40-16, thus finishing their second season with an 0-4 record. Soon after the Alabama athletic department puts out a press release declaring the school national champions.

***

In baseball, the distance from pitcher’s mound to home plate increases from 55 feet to 60 feet, 6 inches. The rubber is also implanted. With only one league now, the National League, the annual champion is simply the team with the best record at season’s end. The Boston Beaneaters are champs. I’m not sure why Susie B. thinks “Beaneaters” is any better a name than “Infants,” but we may never find out since she never reads this far down.

***

Jack McAuliffe, who fought out of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, retires as Lightweight champion of the world undefeated. The “Napoleon of the Ring” was born in Cork, Ireland and stood 5’6″. He exited the ring 29-0-10 and married two stage actresses, setting a trend in boxing that has never ended. The pug and the dame.

****

Lottie Dod wins her fourth and final Wimbledon singles championship. She is 21.

***

The Preakness, which was held in the Bronx in 1890, is not run for the third consecutive year, making it quite impossible to win the Triple Crown (which no one has yet done). It will be staged in New York, in Coney Island, between 1894-1908 before returning to Pimlico.

***

Also in baseball, Piggy Ward of the Baltimore Orioles reaches base safely 17 consecutive times, a mark that will stand until Earl Averill of the Angels ties it in 1962.. Bill Hawke, also of the Orioles, pitches the first no-hitter from the modern mound distance.

***


Using the revolutionary “safety bicycle” (both wheels the same size), Albert Schock rides 1,600 miles in one week and blows the doors off all entrants in a six-day race. The modern bicycle is finally here.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Groundhog Day

Yesterday I phoned an old friend, a mom who has four school-aged children. It was school hours, so I asked, “What class are you teaching right now?”

“P.E.,” she said.

Lovely. If you are a parent, particularly with multiple youngsters, you have our empathy (but no, we’re not interested in being your relief pitcher… this is the price you pay for not wanting to die alone when you’re old). But if you are single, and not dying, we want once again to implore you: TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS OPPORTUNITY.

The classic 1993 film Groundhog Day is a philosophical existential exercise cleverly disguised as a comedy. The question it asks: “How would you live your life if you had to repeat the exact same day over and over and over again?”

The correct answer is not, “Watching Netflix.”

Carpe diem. Because it’s all the same diem right now. And even in the future when it won’t be, it still is. That’s the lesson.

Dying To Be Free

In Wisconsin, the conservative state Supreme Court overruled the Democratic governor’s “Stay-at-home” order. Shocker!

In Texas, an armed man with “We The People” tattooed on his forearm plans to exercise his 2nd Amendment rights to protect businesses that defy stay-at-home orders and open. Because his bullets will say what the law is, sumbitch.

Meanwhile, there’s no vaccine in sight. Not in 2020. And in the last two days coronavirus-related deaths have ramped up above 1,500 each day in the U.S.A. We’re at 85,000-plus officially (probably closer to 90 to 100,000) and it’s somewhat funny, at least to us, that they’re predicting 147,000 deaths by August.

That’s only August. It’s going to come back with a vengeance in autumn (unless it “magically disappears’ as our mental giant commander-in-chief believes) and if we reopen now, without a vaccine, let’s just go to 500,000 domestic deaths between now and next May 14.

Still not enough deaths to dissuade the GOP and Wall Street.

You can empathize with the financial suffering. You can also understand that sometimes the short-term pain is worth the long-term gain. Even one million dead is less than one-third of 1% of the population. And you may be of the mind that that’s not a large enough percentage to close down the country economically. And I’m not here to tell you that you’re right or wrong. Only to remind you that arguing to reopen the nation now is likely to translate to half a million or maybe even a million deaths.

Not a very large dent in the overall population. But totally unnecessary except that it will result in more fiscal distress, particularly to the rich and powerful.

You want the country to reopen? Fine. Just don’t attempt to dismiss the scientific experts’ speculations as to the death toll. I know you’re a Republican, but you don’t get to have both your way and the truth, too. Choose one or the other.

Exclamation Point Break*

*The judges will also accept “Friend Or Foam”

Difficult week for surfers. In northern California a 26 year-old died over the weekend due to a shark attack (or perhaps it was a Wicked Tuna?). Then on Monday night, in the Netherlands, five surfers died in a bizarre situation that involved a wall of sea foam and rescuers unable to reach them.

What exactly happened?

The group of surfers, all experienced, some lifeguards and/or surf instructors, went out to take advantage of waves created by heavy storms. Again, this is the North Sea, off The Hague. Not Hawaii or southern California. Wetsuits, obviously.

The storms created sea foam, the surfers got into trouble, and the first-responders were unable to reach them. Five of the six surfers, aged 22 to 38, perished.

Piano Manifest

Why did the retired London piano tuner deliver a product to a remote Himalayan region situated nearly 15,000 feet above sea level? Because it was there. The independent film Piano To Zanskar pretty much sums up the odyssey in its title. A 65 year-old Londoner, Desmond O’Keeffe, hears that a school in a distant and rugged place on the planet desires a piano and so he decides to deliver the goods. On such quixotic quests are unforgettable documentaries made.

We have not seen the 2018 film, which won the grand prize at the 2019 Banff Mountain Film Festival (and that must count for something, no?), but we’re hoping to. And soon. Maybe it’s on Netflix? Wait, what were we saying earlier?

Sports Year 1892

Yale’s Pudge Heffelfinger is paid $500 by the Allegheny Athletic Association to play in a game. Not only is he considered the first professional football player, but he is immediately declared ineligible for the Belk Bowl.

***

James Corbett defeats John L. Sullivan in 21 rounds to win the heavyweight championship of the world. He will hold the title for five years.

***

Two months after James Naismith publishes the rules of basketball, the first public game takes place between the students and faculty of the Springfield YMCA. The kids win 5-1, with the lone faculty goal being scored by one Amos Alonzo Stagg.

****

The National League absorbs four teams from the American Association and buys out the remaining four. For one year and one year only it plays a split schedule, with first- and second-half winners meeting in a championship series. The Boston Beaneaters defeat the Cleveland Spiders, winning five games of five. Another game ends in 0-0 tie after 11 innings.

***

In Canada, Lord Stanley announces his new trophy to be given to the winner of the ice hockey championship in Canada. The Tampa Bay Lightning announce they’ll win it someday.

***

Oliver Campbell, just 21, wins his third consecutive U.S. Open.

***

Jockey Alonzo “Lonnie” Clayton, who is African-American and only 15, wins the Kentucky Derby aboard Azra. He remains the youngest jockey to win the Run for the Roses.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

A Response To Susie B.

Wanted to begin today’s sermon by responding to Susie B.’s questions in the comments yesterday. Please turn your hymnals to yesterday’s edition, then scroll down through the dozens of comments until you reach Susie B’s. This should not take too long. ‘

But, for those of you who simply do not have the time…

  1. Why should retired folks that are receiving Social Security checks get the “Stimulus payment”? 

My housemate actually resembles this remark, Susie B. She received her check yesterday. Enjoying the rent-free and lasagna-rich lifestyle I currently do, I believe it prudent to not forward this question on to her.

2. What do you think about the attempted bill in Congress that will EXCUSE, not just delay but completely wipe out, one’s Rent or Mortgage payments while COVID rages on? AND the landlords/mortgage holders are not left holding the bag, [because] apparently the “govt” (i.e. TAXPAYERS) will reimburse them?

I think the Republicans do not have a monopoly on dumb ideas. I agree with Vic from New Jersey, whose rant we featured on this site a few weeks back. His fundamental idea is that if you have a rent or mortgage, you just push it back three months and then continue paying again after that. And as for the three months in arrears, you pay that back at the end of your mortgage or when your lease is up (or sooner, if you like). So yeah, that puts the hurt on landlords in the short term. Guess what? Landlords can afford it because the biggest bill most landlords have is… their own mortgage payment. But the average landlord has far more liquidity than his/her tenants.

3. If the federal govt really wants to help, monthly stimulus checks to all LIVING & not yet retired & getting Social Security makes more sense to me. AND the eligibility cut-off should be those who made less than $140k… What’s your opinion on this type of “stimulus”?

$140 K, eh, Susie B.? Nice neighborhood, that. So, basically, the Bottom 91%.

Anyway, I agree with the spirit of your idea and I’m about to go off on a jag…

See, when the pandemic’s economic effects first became clear in mid-March, the federal government had a very important choice to make: Would they rather save Americans or would they rather save American businesses? They chose the latter. To them, and to many analysts and guests on CNBC, this isn’t even a choice. It’s like choosing between sulfur and oxygen.

But it IS a choice only the GOP and CNBC suits don’t see it as one because their lives and or welfare is not at stake. By funneling money to big business and banks, the government voted to keep the heart of Wall Street beating…while countless Americans will (again) suffer, and many die needlessly, for the second time in the past dozen years.

It’s so ingrained in them that we are not a democracy but rather a plutocracy that it didn’t even seem obscene to them, which it is, that it’s more important to save American Airlines than it is to save Americans. But that’s honestly how they feel.

Let’s try to imagine their mindset: Well, if we just dole out the money to Americans, what will they do with it? Spend it?!? Um, yeah. And guess what happens when Americans spend money? The economy is pollenated, nourished, fertilized, what have you. It’s actually economically astute to give Americans who desperately need money money. Because they’ll spend it, and that will grease all the gears.

But see, Americans, 320 million though we may be, are a much smaller lobbying group than the cruise industry or the commercial airline industry. So pols give them money in return for political favors and “trust” them to pay their employees, although they’re free to lay off and/or furlough whomever they please.

Do we give the money to banks and business or to Butch and Betty? Child, please.

Of course, the funniest and most ludicrous part about all of this is that Republicans proudly wear all these Darwinist ideals on their epaulets, and capitalism is nothing more than economic Darwinism. But when it’s big business that natural selection is leaving behind in the jungle undergrowth, the government always steps in with socialist measures to save them. Funny, that.

Apparently, the government does not think we can do without a failing airline (we can, and we always have; ask Pan Am and TWA, etc.) But it does think we can do without half of America being able to afford the next two months of their lives.

Steve Mnuchin, Larry Kudlow, Trump and the rest had a choice: save big business or protect you and I. They made their choice. The fallacy is that Americans cannot do without major corporations. False. Where there’s a supply void, a smart capitalist will always step in to fill it. The companies that got saving were the companies that needed being saved. It’s funny how Republican pols have no problem discussing “culling the herd” when it comes to actual people but do have one when it comes to companies. Why is that?

McNeil Gets McReal

Watch all of this interview between New York Times science editor Don McNeil and Christiane Amanpour. Watch how intelligent and informed he is, how confident (“You can say ‘rush'”), how defiant (he notes that in the same way the CDC had a difficult time getting Trump to take them seriously, that he had a similarly difficult time getting his editors at the NYT to take him seriously about the virus), how candid (“I think [CDC director] Redfield should resign.”).

We fell hard for McNeil when we first heard him speak with Rachel Maddow on the last Friday night in February and we’ve only grown fonder of him since. We put him right up there with Dr. Anthony Fauci and Gov. Andrew Cuomo as one of the true American heroes of his disastrophe. And that all three have lived substantial portions of their lives in New York City only makes us prouder.

Later in the day the NYT released a statement saying that McNeil went “too far” in this interview in expressing his personal views. No, he went too far in being honest. People express their personal views in TV interviews every day. Most of them stay between the guardrails. Even more don’t know what they’re talking about.

McNeil is an expert on this subject. I appreciate his honesty here. We all should.

Sports Year 1891

On October 19, the first “Go As You Please” bicycle race is staged in Madison Square Garden. It’s a six-day race, and while that was nothing new, this was the first race that did not put a set limit on how many hours in a particular day the cyclists were allowed to race. It was all up to the cyclists how much or little sleep they decided to get.

At midnight Monday morning 14 riders from the U.S.A., England, Ireland, Scotland and Germany took off around the 1/10th mile track for what would be a race of 142 hours of duration (ending at 10 p.m. the following Saturday night).

“Plugger” Bill Martin, an Irish American, would win the race, pedaling a world-record (for that time span) 1,466 miles. The near equivalent of pedaling from Boston to Miami. He would take home $2,500 for the victory.

More importantly, the event kick-started the bicycle craze in the USA. Within a decade there would be about 300 bicycle manufacturers stateside. If we, as a civilization, had only stopped there, what a better world this would be.

***

James Naismith invents the game of basketball for his YMCA class in Springfield, Mass. He is Canadian (I am obliged to write that).

****

The National League-champion Boston Beaneaters decline to play the American Association champion Boston Reds in the World Series, citing travel costs. The American Association will fold after this season. Power move, Beaneaters. But it worked.

Worth noting that on the final day of the American Association season and thus, its history, rookie pitcher Ted Breitenstein of the St. Louis Browns makes his first Major League start (he had pitched in relief previously) and throws a no-hiiter. Breitenstein was one base on balls away from hurling a perfect game, but still faced the minimum 27 batters.

Breitenstein would be known, along with catcher Heinie Peitz, as the “Pretzel Battery” since both men were of German descent. I miss the days of this not being culturally insensitive but also just of people being named Heinie Peitz.

***

The inaugural French Open is held. A Brit wins. Sacre bleu!

****

First, Heinie Peitz and now Pudge Heffelfinger? !891, what a time to be alive!

Led by gargantuan guard Pudge Heffelfinger (6’4″, 178), Yale goes 7-0 and outscores its opponents 488-0. The Yalies are in the midst of a 37-game win streak under coach Walter Camp. Heffelfinger’s legacy will be as that of the first professional football player, the first known player to take money for playing (in games outside of Yale’s).

***

Kansas and Missouri play for the first time, initiating the oldest rivalry in college football that most of us don’t care about, The Border War.