by John Walters
Tweet Me Right
*The judges will also accept “Armageddon Out Of Here”
Sobering news: If you Google “New Zealand Doomsday Bunkers,” well, you actually find plenty of stories. Now I don’t want to alarm you, but what with the globe warming up (have you seen the record temps in Europe this week and artificial intelligence wiping out many human-performed jobs in the next few decades, more than a few super-smart and super-wealthy Silicon Valley have gamed this whole civilization experiment out.
And you see, here’s the rub. All eight countries that possess nuclear weapons are located in the northern hemisphere. And so when the apocalypse hits, be it due to massive unemployment and the small “d” depression that leads to, and the collateral damage from that, or from leaders attempting to distract their citizens from such disaffection by banging the drums of war (How are those tanks looking for your Fourth of July celebration, Donny?), or from the manifold deleterious effects on the planet and crops, etc., caused by the climate change, well, those who can afford to do so are hightailing it out of here for the Utopia of Dystopia: New Zealand (they only have Peter Jackson to blame).
Read this story. I’ll see you in Christchurch (“John?” “Present.” “Good band meeting.”). Or Auckland.
Koo Koo For Coco Gauff*
*The judges wonder how many of you saw that headline coming a mile away
The tennis gods had mischief in mind when at Wimbledon the opening day featured a match pitting the oldest player in the women’s draw, Venus Williams, 39, against the youngest, Cori “Coco” Gauff, 15. That both women were African-American heightened the drama, as Williams and her younger sister, Serena, have combined for 30 Grand Slam titles. Obviously their photos adorned Gauff’s bedroom walls as she grew up in Atlanta and Florida (like the Williams sisters, she is coached by her dad, a former Georgia State football player).
Bring on the “torch passed” allusions, as Gauff took down Venus in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, on sacred tennis ground. In the first Grand Slam match of her career, Gauff defeated a five-time Wimbledon champ. At Wimbledon.
Gauff, who is home-schooled by her mother, a former Florida State track athlete, won three qualifying matches beforehand to gain entry as the youngest female qualifier for Wimbledon at the Open era. She’s going to be at this party for awhile. And you wonder if she’d ever have picked up a racket had it not been for the sisters.
There’s New Business Like Shoe Business
Non-troversial sneaker news: Klay Thompson’s sneaker company, Anta (me neither), is celebrating his new max contract with the Dubs by releasing this limited edition KT4, which is a nod to the fact that Klay relaxes before games by reading an old-timey mode of content distribution, a newspaper (ask your curmudgeonly uncle).
Meanwhile, Nike is recalling and also canceling a shoe called the Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July, which featured a replica of the Betsy Ross flag on its back. Not sure why Nike thought it needed to produce a colonial era-themed shoe or worse, why it felt compelled to cancel them (reports are that Colin Kaepernick was not pleased which, if true, WoW).
It’s hardly the worst idea to produce a shoe that might appeal to your patriotic demographic, or even your MAGA demographic. What is a terrible idea is producing it and then backing down on the effort due to one man’s finding it offensive. Bad optics for Nike, bad optics for Kaep. Freedom of speech gotta be a two-lane highway. Besides, Nike could’ve produced them, quietly not manufactured any more, and who would’ve noticed? Instead, they’ve created the worst needless Clay Travis bully pulpit moment since ESPN pulled Robert Lee from the Virginia game two years ago.
Now these shoes are collectors’ items, not to mention fodder for every Fox News blowhard for the next 24-hour cycle.
Also, can we get beyond the irony that these Air MAGAs were probably made in China or Vietnam?
Carry On Our Wayward Son
This is just the kind of story that keeps Dick Wolf awake at night wondering if he needs to reboot the Law & Order franchise: rakishly handsome former Princeton football player, now an early thirties surf bum living on a weekly allowance from his hedge-fund manager dad, threatens to kill said parent if his subsidy is discontinued. Dad decides he needs to teach son lesson about maturity and responsibility. Son responds by murdering father.
Bluff called. And re-raised.
This all happened four years ago when Thomas Gilbert, Jr., shot his father, then 70, in the head, in the family home after knocking on the front door and telling his mom he needed to speak to dad in private. But Gilbert, Jr., was only convicted yesterday and is now staring down a 25 years-to-life sentence.
And sure, the elder Gilbert could more than afford the $1,000 a week dole his son was living on as he surfed all over the world and hung out at bougie Hamptons/Montauk spots. But that’s hardly the point, now is it?
There was a time in America, arguably a better time, when this would’ve been turned into a TV movie starring Lance Kerwin. Instead we’re going to get a Netflix documentary is my guess, or a Hulu film starring an Aussie or Brit. You’ll see.
That Whole Immigrant Thing
Can we tackle the entire southern border/illegal immigration/concentration camp kerfuffle in one item? No (or as they say in Spanish, “No”), but here’s a thought or two. So on June 28 New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, reacting we’d say off Beto O’Rourke’s going directly to Spanish on Night 1 of the Dem-olition Derby, penned a column about how the Dems were intent on appealing to everyone BUT the Americans they need to be courting.
Here’s the excerpt that went viral:
They speak Spanish. We don’t. They are not U.S. citizens or legal residents. We are. They broke the rules to get into this country. We didn’t. They pay few or no taxes. We already pay most of those taxes. They willingly got themselves into debt. We’re asked to write it off. They don’t pay the premiums for private health insurance. We’re supposed to give up ours in exchange for some V.A.-type nightmare. They didn’t start enterprises that create employment and drive innovation. We’re expected to join the candidates in demonizing the job-creators, breaking up their businesses and taxing them to the hilt.
Now, not everyone in Brooklyn who owns a laptop or who has ever lived in Brooklyn and owns a laptop immediately sat down and pecked out a vitriolic essay to denounce Stephens’ piece, but many did. Drew Magary, who does a ton of stuff we like, went into flaming ranty-rant-all-the-F-bombs-I-can-fire mode at Stephens. When the actual title of your piece is “God Man, (Bleep) You Bret Stephens,” I think we can safely assume that an ad hominem attack is coming. And it was.
If you want to get past the animus that is created when children are separated from their parents and held in filthy camps, where more than 2 dozen people have died strictly from the conditions, if you want to get past the inhumanity of a government actually condoning what many of us would consider gross human-rights violations (and it’s explicitly being done as a tactic), we can. If you don’t, then don’t read on.
But here’s the thing, right or wrong. Much of what Stephens wrote is factually accurate. And as someone who works two restaurant gigs in New York City, I’m 100% certain that I’m far closer to the front lines of this issue than either Stephens or Magary ever has been or ever will be. So here’s some straight dope from a person who is not here to vilify or exonerate anyone. This is just my experience.
When I began working in the restaurant biz in NYC in 2009, Spanish was the lingua franca for back-of-the-house employees. Now it is the most common language, at least at my two restaurants, for front-of-the-house staff as well. At one restaurant I’m the only full-time, non-manager who does not speak Spanish, so that any casual conversation among co-workers is en espanol. Which isolates me, albeit unintentionally (most of the time), and to be honest, is a lonely feeling.
At the other restaurant, which has about five times as many employees, there are more full-time English speakers, but still the majority of the conversation between staffers is in Spanish. Two of our three managers speak Spanish (neither restaurant is a Mexican restaurant, by the way).
The tony Upper East Side parents will brag all summer in East Hampton about how their 3rd grader is learning Mandarin in school, but the far more pragmatic language to learn is Spanish. It is the working class language of the 21st century.
There’s a reason for this. Hispanics, in my experience, are excellent employees. Outstanding. As a man roughly my age who works at both restaurants with me and is from Mexico said to me yesterday, “I don’t complain.” It’s as simple as that. He also works at a third restaurant, by the way.
The Ainsley Earnharts of the world (the Fox & Friends anchor who fretted yesterday that too many brown-skinned arrivals could fundamentally change the composition of this country…damn right) want to fret about Mexicans and others pouring over our border, but here’s what they never want to discuss: after they arrive here, these people W-O-R-K. And one reason they work is because white people hire them. Because they show up on time, they never complain, and at least in blue-collar jobs (among immigrants and most of their first-generation progeny) they work their asses off. I’m proud, honestly, that they accept me and have befriended me in this trade.
Oh, by the way, one of our Mexican female bussers at one restaurant just left last week because she is starting in the nursing program at Bellevue Hospital.
They DO speak Spanish. And some of them are not here legally. And some of their employers pay them off the books because both sides are washing each other’s backs on that one. Bret Stephens is not wrong here. But there’s also no reason to depict them as a virus or worse. As I’ve written here before, I’ve been in neighborhoods where white people put up “Trump/Pence” or “Make America Great Again” signs on their front lawns as undocumented Mexican workers do yard work around them (As a God-fearing Christian I hate adultery, but man the sex is so good). The hypocrisy is gob-smacking.
Drew Magary can attack Bret Stephens all he wants, and the fan boys will love him for it, but Magary can’t attack the facts. Because they’re on Stephens’ side. On the other hand, there’s obviously no reason to be a racist asshole. Latin-speaking people are taking over the working-class jobs in this country because they are great workers. Much like my Italian or your Irish ancestors once did. The difference is that while they are bilingual, they’re not abandoning their Spanish-speaking ways. And if you want to exist or thrive in that world, you better adapt.
Hey, what if The Apprentice were not a TV show but rather a template for how to run the most powerful nation on Earth?
World Cup Semi: USA vs. England
3 p.m. Fox
Brexit or no?