IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

The Big Game will take a one-year hiatus

Ivy’ll Be Seeing You

The first shoe just dropped for the 2020 college football season. The Ivy League, the octet of academic excellence (Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton and Yale) just announced all sports will be canceled until at least the beginning of 2021.

We said it back on March 12 or so, we’ve been saying it ever since, and we’ll say it again now: it is beyond stupid for sports to start up again until a vaccine or herd immunity comes. It is not only stupid from a public health perspective; it’s stupid from a sports public relations perspective.

Earlier this week Nick Cordero died. Cordero was not a pro athlete, but he was a 41 year-old former Tony Award nominated dancer. To look at Cordero was to see an extremely fit and athletic man. Only six years ago, when he was in his mid-thirties, Cordero was dancing 7 to 8 times a week on the Broadway stage in Bullets Over Broadway.

Then Cordero was infected with the coronavirus. First he had a leg amputated and then he spent the final 90 days of his life in ICU before dying.

Nick Cordero may as well have been an athlete. To think that one or more famous professional or college athletes could die from this virus in the next year simply because their league forged ahead, knowing that there is no cure for the virus, well, that’s just Trump-level dumb.

There. Is. No. Cure.

An athlete probably won’t get as seriously ill as Cordero did. But then again, he might. And there’d be nothing doctors could do to save him. It’s a crap shoot.

The smart move is to wait. It always has been. It will remain so. Right now MLB and the NFL and the NBA and even college football are playing a game of chicken with reality. And what’s steering them toward the head-on collision is TV money. It’s beyond stupid.

At least the Ivies, who are not beholden to television money, have some sense.

School’s Out For Summer/School’s Out Forever!

Students will return to classrooms some day—but not as soon as Don “I’ll Huff and I’ll Puff and I’ll Have Someone Take The SAT For Me” Trump wants them to. Yesterday Trump threatened to pull funding from public schools (he cannot actually do that) if they did not reopen on time later this summer.

Never mind that he said this on the same day that the U.S. set a new record for coronavirus positive tests (more than 60,000), or that the Tulsa area set a new record with more than 266… might have a little something to do with a certain public event held inside the BOK Center a couple Saturdays ago.

Also yesterday Mike Pence stood at a podium and tried to pretend that there is encouraging news with “flattening the curve.” This is like someone saying they can see positive signs with the Knicks. Pence has been practicing his George W. Bush “I’m concerned” drawl overtime of late. He really has the Bush impersonation down. And that’s too bad… because while Bush was often clueless and in way over his head, I truly believe he is a decent man. Mike Pence is not.

Anyway, if you send your kid back to school next month this supposedly “flattened curve” (it isn’t) is going to go full Matterhorn on us. And maybe your 3rd-grader won’t die. But maybe her grandma will because of it.

Once again, less than stupid. It’s sinister.

Don’t be surprised— I won’t be—if teachers simply refuse to show up to school. What’s Trump going to do: fire all of them? Teachers are already overworked and underpaid. Now you’re going to put their health and lives at risk. What are you gonna do, Donald, place an armed off-duty cop at every school to ward off the virus?

Jost Do It

Colin Jost, the Staten Island parents’ wet dream antithesis to the worst nightmare that is Pete Davidson, is out with a memoir titled A Very Punchable Face. You’re thinking what I’m thinking: I like Jost, he’s funny, but where’s the down-and-out in Bushwick portion of this book?

Jost grew up in a stable, upper middle-class family, attended Regis High on the Upper East Side (where all students are on full scholarship), then Harvard, then he was at SNL by age 23 as a writer. He and Michael Che have carved out their own special spot in “Weekend Update” lore as well. And he’s about to marry ScarJo?

Is there a meth habit we don’t know about it? A bad hair day? What? You can read more about it here.

Blow By Blow

We should expand our horizons beyond just The New York Times Op-Ed page, but when someone pens an essay as direct and truthful as Charles Blow’s “Call A Thing A Thing,” well, why go anywhere else? Blow’s premise? There are plenty of euphemisms for what’s going on (“racial tensions,” “racial divide,” “race relationship”) but what it all boils down to is this: You’re either for White Supremacy or you are not (put us in the “are not” camp).

Blow: “Satisfaction with race relations is somewhat correlated with the silence of the oppressed. When they stop being silent, it affects the outcome.”

and

“…whenever people object to their oppression, it is framed as problematic to peaceful coexistence. Furthermore, this tension between the oppressed and the oppressors has always existed and always will.” 

I’m forever amused (disturbed) how white Americans are so easily able to celebrate the Fourth of July and then the next minute turn around and scold anyone who follows the Founders’ lead of fomenting rebellion for the oppressed.

–Sen. Kelly Loeffler (those three words alone are a joke), a co-owner of the WNBA franchise, objected to the league placing a “Black Lives Matter” logo on its courts this season (if there’s a season). Loeffler used the “we need less politics in sports” argument and then suggested the WNBA put American flags on all jerseys. Loafer doesn’t get it: if she wants less politics in sports then no flag, either. Because, like it or not, the American flag now means the status quo. And there’s a whole helluva lotta people not happy with the status quo. It’s a White Supremacy issue disguised as a patriotism issue.

–Tucker Carlson, who never served in the military, had the audacity to criticize a U.S. senator who lost both her legs in the Iraq War. He called her a “moron” and “un-American” because in an interview that aired Sunday night Duckworth (who is a person of color but not African-American) told CNN that it was worth discussing taking down monuments of George Washington, our slave-owning first president.

I don’t happen to agree with Duckworth, but I’d never be the ass Carlson always has been and continues to be this week. Patriotism, to people like Loeffler and Carlson means loving this country on the basis of it remaining a two-tiered system: white people of means and everyone else.

Blow’s essay hit the nail on the head.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Suddenly Absent Trump (S.A.T.)

The headline grabber from the leaked copies of Mary Trump’s memoir is that her uncle paid someone to take his SAT test in his stead. Is every news outlet searching for this phantom test-taker now?

The first rule of Trump is, If he’s speaking, he’s lying.

The second rule of Trump is, If he’s accusing someone of something, he likely already did it himself. Hence, while he spent four years as a private citizen accusing President Obama of not having been born in the United States (in short: that he was a fraud), it was of course Trump who was the fraud as an Ivy League student the entire time.

Is anyone the least bit surprised? Of course not.

Catch A Wave!

There’s only one wave everyone’s riding this summer and here it is above…

Ouchy, Fauci.

Maybe it’s time people begin listening to the scientists? Remember the ones who were saying, when the country was still only double digits in deaths, that we might have as many as 100,000 deaths without social distancing or closing down or wearing masks? Now those same dudes are saying we’ll get to 200,000 deaths by November if we reopen schools and don’t wear masks, etc.

For now, Donald and Mike and the Florida guv don’t seem to care. They still see the virus as a Democrat tool of insurgence. It’s just a virus. Or, as Donald famously said, “Some call it a virus, which it is. Others call it the flu.”

This is the leader of the most powerful country on Earth. Not the smartest country, mind you. Not by a long shot.

Eyes On The Road*

*The judges will also accept “Remains To Be Seen”

In St. Petersburg, Florida, someone out for a run discovered a decomposing human head on the side of the road. Where’s the rest of him/her?

Not much else to say about this except, yeah, Florida.

Bob Costas, Once Again Making Sense

I really miss having Bob Costas share his wisdom on air more frequently (this may be why I occasionally pepper him with emails). Listen to him talking to CNN’s Michael Smerconish about the expectations people have about sports “returning to normal.”

Here’s a gem from Costas near the end of the interview about the extremist views regarding kneeling during the anthem: “At the extremes I don’t think that agreement or support is enough for some people. You can be indicted for insufficient affirmation in this atmosphere.”

A gem.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Propel Culture

Last night I was watching The Defiant Ones, a 1958 film starring Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier in which they portray a pair of escaped convicts chained together at the wrists. This was racy stuff in the late Fifties.

I’m just glad the Cancel Culture Warriors are still too busy working up a lather about Gone With The Wind to have noticed this film. In the very first line, Curtis uses the “N-word” to address Poitier’s character. And not for the last time.

The script is incredible and the more I watch Poitier—this is the third 1950s film of his I’ve seen in the past six weeks—the more I’m wowed. To have such presence and confidence as a black man in the movies in that age, well, he was a generation or two ahead of his time. Most people know him for Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner or In The Heat of The Night, both from 1967. But watch this or No Way Out (where he’s also called the N-word), from 1950, to see how just how much of a rising star it was easy to see he was.

Anyway, no one should ever touch a slide of these films (or Gone With The Wind). Because these films depict how Americans felt about race in general at the time they were made, even if Gone With The Wind is a 1939 depiction of a time nearly 80 years earlier. As such, each of these films are historical documents. We can learn from them. Only true ignorance hopes to conceal something that is the truth. And the truth here is that in 1958 The Defiant Ones accurately portrayed the racial divide, otherwise it would never have resonated with so many.

(Poitier is still alive, 93 years old)

Also: The final scene of this film is pretty much perfect, no?

Musk-Have Apparel

You have to love this. Elon Musk, trolling the haters, is now selling short shorts on the Tesla website. The appearance of the shorts yesterday caused the Tesla site to crash (and, we assume, burst into flames).

Run like the wind or entertain like Liberace with our red satin and gold trim design. Relax poolside or lounge indoors year-round with our limited-edition Tesla Short Shorts, featuring our signature Tesla logo in front with “S3XY” across the back. Enjoy exceptional comfort from the closing bell.

The price: $69.420, which is pretty much a triple-entendre. Genius.

The next step, we assume, will be a Tesla robe for consumers to “cover their shorts.”

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Slippery Slopers

I’m curious. I woke up this morning to woke calls for the removal of the Jefferson Memorial in a NYT op-ed, the reasoning being that “the man who wrote ‘All men are created equal’ certainly did not practice that ideal in regards to slavery.”

I’m a little curious here. What if some future generation hive minds it that those who killed unborn fetuses truly did no respect human life? Or that those who ate steak and pork and chicken participated in the mass slaughter and forced slavery of entire species of sentient beings? Am I EQUATING cows to black men and women? No. I’m comparing the offenses by those in power against those without.

Now, before you come at me with at “STEAK AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” campaign, I’ll say this, as a self-described (but maybe not self-aware?) moderate: I understand the desire to remove monuments or flags that literally promote slavery or the bondage of black people or the people who fought to do so or to continue that ethos through dog-whistling out loud (i.e., the Confederate flag). I stop when you condemn every person of that age whose sin was not putting a stop to slavery.

Some day they may say the same about those who did not put a stop to abortions. Or to slaughterhouses. Or to driving carbon-emissions vehicles.

If you want to erase Thomas Jefferson’s legacy, then throw out the Constitution, too. Throw out American independence. Let’s go back to being the vassals of the British empire. It’s not an a la carte menu, folks.

Up, Up And Away

Inconceivable! (You keep using that word. It does not mean what you think it means)

Alright, then, how about Incredible? Or Astonishing? The U.S. possibly set a record for most dead Americans in a three-month span April to June (I don’t know this for a fact but how could it be wrong, as the population has never been this great; maybe during the Civil War?) and yet the stock market had its best quarter in three decades… after, granted, a precipitous decline in March.

But here we are in July, with new coronavirus cases daily setting records and yet the market continues to defy gravity. In just the past month…

Tesla (TSLA): From $940 to $1,328 (up $119 this morning)

Amazon (AMZN): From $2,529 to $3,025.

Zoom (ZM): From $209 to $266

Plug Power (PLUG): From $5.10 to $10.23, more than 100%

Is crazy, no?

What goes up must come down is our first Rule of MH and also a tried rule of investing. Right now, though, the market is snorting cocaine like Johnny Depp early in the second hour of Blow. Craziness.

Calcio Craziness

We finally, after years of different folks recommending it to us, got around to reading The Miracle of Castel di Sangro by Joe McGinnis (who passed in 2014). You should read it before we discuss but my initial thoughts, now that I’m finished, is, “The balls on that guy.” (However you say this in Italian).

And I don’t mean that as a compliment.

McGinnis, who was already a well-established (read: well-off) writer by the time he traveled to the tiny Italian mountain village in 1996 at the age of 53, comes off as the quintessential Ugly American. He’s a recently converted soccer zealot, having only discovered the game three or four years earlier, but he acts as if he knows as much as anyone in Italy about calcio (what it’s called there). McGinnis literally approaches the head coach, with whom he claims to have a good relationship, on game days making his own suggestions for who should start and what the formation should be.

I spent a year around Geno Auriemma and a Connecticut Huskies roster that would ultimately have FIVE first-team All-Americans on its roster. Five. And here’s what I knew, even 20 years younger than McGinnis: Observe and keep your trap shut. You’re a guest.

McGinniss’ audacity makes for some entertaining moments, particularly when dealing with the club’s owner, the local godfather of some notoriety. But through the course of the book he comes off as the typical Irish-Amercan Boston area know-it-all scribe, a little too loud and obnoxious (if only such a writer had emerged during the internet era in sports) for his own good.

The players, to a man, were incredibly gracious and welcoming to him. The entire town was, in fact. Then he burned every bridge he had built (you’ll have to read). As the team’s wisest player, and the one who stuck with him to the end, advised him, “There is a time for the soft voice. There is a time for no voice at all.”

Words of advice I’m sure all of us wish we had heeded in the past.

The book is considered a minor sports classic. And I can understand. But, reading between the lines throughout, I got the feeling that McGinniss attached an outsized importance to himself throughout his stay in the Abruzzo. Locals noticed. When a president not entirely unlike him was elected 20 years later, they must have nodded their heads.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Humble Pie On The 4th Of July

In today’s New York Times, David Brooks with an essay on how 2020 and the pandemic has served up a long overdue double helping of humble pie to an America that is loud, arrogant and obnoxious. And he offers up a few insights:

It amounts to a refusal on the part of lots of Americans to think in terms of the social whole — of what’s best for the community, of the common or public good. Each of us thinks we know what’s best for ourselves.”

He adds:

 “In the same way as men cannot for long tolerate a sense of spiritual meaninglessness in their individual lives, so they cannot for long accept a society in which power, privilege, and property are not distributed according to some morally meaningful criteria.”

A lot of people look around at the conditions of this country — how Black Americans are treated, how communities are collapsing, how Washington doesn’t work — and none of it makes sense. None of it inspires faith, confidence. In none of it do they feel a part.

In America we make bold proclamations of our patriotism (Let’s display a flag that covers every inch of the football field!) and then go about stiffing the government by collecting unemployment checks when we already have jobs or stiffing our fellow citizens by not wearing masks in public. You visit other countries and they lack oversized flags but they do display a sense of sublimating their egos for the common good. Not here.

Happy Birthday, America.

A Burning Bush In Arizona

Let’s take a moment to (socially) distance ourselves from the idiots and morally repugnant political leaders in Arizona (below):

and find wonder in the natural beauty that the state provides (as a state, Arizona is a beauty pageant finalist: You’re gorgeous, babe, but just don’t open your mouth.)

That tree exists somewhere in northern Arizona and the photo was taken by Peter Pallagi, who discovered the tree on one of his perambulations. I’m almost fearful of posting these because then the Instagram crowd wants to track it down and pose in front of it. But fortunately I don’t have a viral following so I think it’s safe.

Screamin’ A Goes Off On ‘The Bubble’

I don’t know, how long have we been saying this? Three weeks, a month? The idea that NBA players would live in a quarantine situation for two months with only their wives or with only their top-rated girlfriend always sounded comical to us. Adam Silver really needs to watch an episode or two of ‘Ballers, ya know.

(You have to love how the female commentator—Is that Molly Qerim?— protests, “Stephen A., they’re going to have ping-pong tournaments.” The comeback SAS should’ve had to that shoulda been, “It’ll be the first ping-oping tournament to use blue balls.”)

Here’s the other thing that we’ve been thinking about recently: When/if (we still don’t see it) the NBA starts up in Orlando, the headline each morning won’t be who won which game or who scored the most points; the headline will be who tested positive (and players will test positive). And the follow-up story will be how the NBA and/or team plans to deal with that. And whether other players will want to face that player if he remains. And if he doesn’t remain, how it adversely affects his team/the postseason.

This will be the news cycle, day after day after day: how the NBA entered the Indy 500 with two flat tires and a half tank of gas and is shocked—shocked—to have conked out on Lap 38.

Mr. Silver, please. I know those TV contracts are gi-huge, but you’re uncharacteristically missing the forest for the trees here. Someone with decent PR knowledge should be telling you what a disaster this will be. And when it all crumbles you can’t just say, “We went in with the best of intentions.” Not good enough. Nope. You’re not allowed to be this obtuse.

UPDATE: Silver said as recently as two days ago that a large uptick in cases in Florida could delay the NBA’s restart in Orlando. Ya think? Well, the U.S. and Florida each set new coronavirus case records yesterday, Commissioner. So how big do you need to see?

Fall On Me

Here’s “Classic Rock Kid” covering our favorite REM tune and doing a fine job. He particularly nails the Mike Mills backup role, and not only because he’s wearing the specs.

I was a young reporter at SI and late on a Sunday evening, when most of us reporters had to work past midnight, sometimes as late as 3 a.m. or 4 a.m., MTV was airing the now-classic REM Unplugged episode. Maybe for the first time. A few of us were sitting on the couch and chairs in Bambi Wulf’s corner office (she has passed; yesterday was her birthday. Pour one out for Bambi, one of the legends of SI) and I was still, rightly, regarded as something of a poser and dilettante in this journalistic endeavor.

The staff’s ranking REM expert (and there were a few), Tim Crothers, tested me by asking what my favorite song from the band was. I think he expected me to say, “The One I Love” or worse, “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” or, even worse and potentially self-terminating, “Love Shack.”

But I replied, truthfully, “Fall On Me.” And I was permitted to remain among the bullpen cognoscenti for another week.

A Giant Fracking Mess

We made a lot of money off Chesapeake Energy (CHK) the past five years—and we lost some, too. This week CHK finally filed for bankruptcy and now the stories can begin to roll out.

Background: You may recall that the company’s bombastic and charismatic founder, Aubrey McClendon, ended his own life by driving into the side of a railroad overpass a few years ago. No skid marks on the road. Yeah, sure it was an accident.

This week comes word that the company had its own wine cave on-site, located behind a broom closet. Also on-site “a lavish campus that was modeled after Duke University, complete with bee keepers, botox treatments and chaplains for employees.” CHK also spent more on NBA season tickets (with the Thunder) than any single company anywhere in the NBA. Also, it had the largest tab of any single client with one of those private jet companies (Wheels Up! or Net Jets or Blade, I forget).

And yet, for all that, you could have bought shares of CHK on June 3 for $14 and by June 8 those shares were worth $70. You’ve just quintupled your stake in five days. That’s a Pump and Dump HoF moment, especially since the shares are now worth less than $5. If only we had a competent and legitimate federal government, someone from the SEC or Dept. of Justice might be looking into that curious uptick.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Without A Plan(demic)

Congratulations, America! On Wednesday we set a record for the most new cases in one day with more than 49,000. Arizona and California each achieved record highs. It was the fifth time in the past eight days America has set a new record-high and Dr. Fauci assures us we can get to 100K.

Here’s the thing: Americans by and large aren’t truly afraid of the coronavirus. They see the gigantic disconnect between cases and deaths and, unlike AIDS, they don’t believe that contracting it is a death sentence. Because, well, it isn’t. Right now in the U.S. you have less than a 5% chance of dying if you contract Covid-19.

But, of course, the more people who do contract it, the greater the number of people that will die (America, with 4% of the world’s population, has 25% of its cases). It’s just that too many Americans don’t care to read the fine print on the Social Contract. It only applies to what’s convenient for them.

AZ vs NZ

Oak Creek Canyon, outside sublime Sedona

Meanwhile, let’s compare two nations. Or one state and one nation.

Arizona is a state that has 113,998 square miles and 7.2 million people.

That equates to 63 people per square mile.

New Zealand: Not Awful

New Zealand is a nation of 103,489 square miles and 4.89 million people.

That equates to roughly 47 people per square mile.

To complete the ratio, for every four New Zealanders in an enclosed area, you’re talking about 5 1/4 Arizonans in that same space. A little more crowded, but not quite 30% more.

Arizona, which is not as isolated as New Zealand (almost no place is) but is still relatively unto itself, has had 1,740 coronavirus deaths. New Zealand has had 22 coronavirus deaths.

In short: Arizona has had nearly 80 times as many coronavirus fatalities as New Zealand despite having a population density only 1.3 times greater. With a comparative population and land mass.

It gets worse: Let’s do Japan versus Arizona. Japan has nearly 18 times the population Arizona does in an area that is not even 1 1/2 times as large. Again, Arizona: 1,740 coronavirus deaths. Japan? 94.

We are failing spectacularly. As a country. And here, as a state. Cuz Americans and Arizonans are proudly defiant… even if it kills them.

And Yet, A Quarter Like No Other

This item actually has nothing to do with George Washington or tearing down monuments or banning quarters

As of April 1 there were officially 3,170 coronavirus deaths in the U.S. That means that in the second quarter of the year (April-May-June) there were at least 127,000 official coronavirus deaths in the country. To our knowledge nothing outside of cancer or heart disease has ever killed that many Americans in one year (much less three months) since at least the Spanish flu of 1918-1920.

Also, a just-released Yale study speculates (based on the average number of deaths in that three-month span year after year) that at least 25,000 more Americans may have died from the coronavirus than is presently thought. Any way you slice it, an unprecedented (in the past century) circus of death in the U.S. the past three months.

And yet (or “And thus?”) the stock market just had its most bullish quarter in 32 years. The Dow was up 17.8%, its best quarter since 1987. But the Dow wasn’t even as bullish as the S & P 500 (up 20%) or the NASDAQ (up 30.6%).

Go figure.

28 Pages

Twenty-eight pages. Wow. 28. Twenty + Eight. 28 pages. Really. 4 x 7 pages. Fuh real.

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary*

  • The judges will also accept “Mary, Mary, Why You Buggin'” cuz they love the hip hop (hurray, oh, ay, oh, ay, oh)

For us, the book is not even out yet, and the most shocking revelation to come from the hubbub about the book by Mary L. Trump, the president’s niece, is that Donald Trump has a younger brother. And he’s alive.

Did you know this? I did not know this. How has this guy managed to stay out of the news the past five years? His name is Robert Trump and Mary, who has written a “tell-all” book about her wealthy uncle titled Too Much And Never Enough: How My Family Created The World’s Most Dangerous Man, is actually not his daughter.

Mary is the daughter of Fred Trump, the oldest of the five Trump tykes and the one who was an alcoholic and died of a heart attack at age 42. But there is a Robert Trump, who is also Mary’s uncle. Never knew that.

Bro’ back mountain

Robert, 72, is the one technically suing Mary about the release of the book (due out July 28) because she signed an NDA in 2001. A lower court blocked publication of the book but yesterday an appellate court said that the book may proceed on schedule (hence Team Trump will go from attempting to block the book to defaming it as “Fake News,” but will not file a libel suit because it isn’t Fake News, after all, and they’d be afraid of what would come out in discovery, but you won’t hear any of this on Fox News).

Mary Trump has a PhD in psychology, a Masters in literature from Columbia, and a lifetime in the Trump family. Who better to write this book?

LIVING ON TESLA TIME (if only we had)

About six months ago—you can search for it in a post from mid-January if you’re interested—we predicted that anyone holding on to Tesla shares for the next six months would be very happy that they did.

How’d that work out?

On January 3rd, the first day of trading in 2020, Tesla opened at $440 per share as analysts warned that Tesla shares were getting a little too far over their skis.

Today? July 1st? Six months later. Tesla currently trading at $1,123, a better than 180% jump. I’m going to be ill.

MEDIUM HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN

by John Walters

We awoke on Monday morning and revved up the computer machine and saw the same thing you saw: there was no MH server (as a sometime server, I was nonplussed… minused, even). Oue first thought was, Guess we’ve finally pushed Susie B. too far. But as it turns out we’d simply forgotten to pay the electric bill. We scampered over to our “In Case Of Emergency, Break Glass” friend, Tim “Oak” O’Connor. He understands how computer machines work. And fixed the problem. I owe him $20. That’s right, Susie B.: you get to read this for free, but I have to pay to write it. ‘Merica!

But no Jacob, this was not a Cancel Culture moment. Nor was this a response to Gov. Ducey’s latest shutdown about-face (about-facemask).

On with the show…

Cam, Patriots: Compatriots

The New England Patriots have signed free agent quarterback Cam Newton and why not? He’s still one of the most physically gifted human beings to ever play the position. Now Bill Belichick needs to go “two solariums!” and sign Colin Kaepernick as his backup. Two guys who’ve led their teams to the Super Bowl in the past ten years: How many other dudes can you say that about who don’t already have a starting spot or are named Manning?

Answer: Zero (Nick Foles and Joe Flacco are likely to start for the Bears and Jets, respectively, whose fans are immune to torture by this point).

Newton is also a former NFL MVP (and Heisman winner). Not a lot of those around on the junk heap.

A Meme Is Worth A Thousand Lives

Thanks to our friend in Park City, the great and Powerful Oz, who sent this along yesterday. A few of us were texting and one friend was unhappy because he thought other friend(s) had blocked him on our text chain. And so, being the insensitive puke that I am, I texted back, “Blocked Lives Matter.” And then Oz sent this.

****

We interrupt today’s blog to note that our Arizona State online course, “Sports and Media” (MCO 465 in your scorecards) goes live today. We have no idea (yet) how you can take this course as a non-degree seeking student, but you still can for the next 24 hours. We’ll look into it or you can if you are sufficiently motivated. Sorry, Susie B., you’ll have to pay for this.

******

To Russia With Love

Vlad is the Tywin Lannister of reality

So over the weekend The New York Times releases a report that says U.S. intelligence believes the Russians were issuing bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and were paying off the Taliban for scores (Sean Payton was exonerated early in the process). And, AND THIS IS THE BIG DEAL, President Trump was notified of this. Back in February.

Pret-tee, pret-tee big. Particularly because at least one incident in which three Marines were killed in a roadside blast is directly linked to this.

Next year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom winners

So what does the President do? He retweets a video of some old white folks in The Villages, Fla., having their own private golf-cart assisted race war (with a “White Power!” chant). And then two days later he retweets the godawful, overweight St. Louis couple who stepped out of their mansion to go Rambo on protesters who’d committed the sin of walking down a “private street.” (The dude was a total cliche: about 30 pounds overweight and trying to fit into khakis he purchased 25 pounds ago).

Anyway, we’ve just wasted a paragraph on the President’s latest dog whistles (air horns) to his racist base and lost track of the actual issue: Donald Trump is Russia’s bitch.

I personally think it’s this simple: When Trump was bankrupt the Russians “lent” him a ton of money in the form of overpaying for Trump properties. He also got their money in the door at Deutsche bank as a means of lending it to him through supposedly above-board means. Why Deutsche would do business with a three-time bankruptcy loser like Trump in the early ’90s is beyond anyone’s ken other than to note that the Russians were really bankrolling him behind the scenes.

Trump will never take on Putin. Never. And so he’s either got to be shown to be incompetent for not paying attention to the intel or callous for not caring about American soldiers’ lives. What he does instead is get people talking about how he supports racism while implausibly denying even that.

Fossils & Foxes

You don’t even need a locator to realize within five seconds that this band is from the South. Or that at least one of the young ladies is the daughter of the guitar player fronting the band. This video is 10 years old now, but the aptly named band still plays gigs and if you go down a YouTube rabbit hole you can see them covering “Our Lips Are Sealed” (!), “Rolling In The Deep”, “I Can’t Let Go” (an all-timer favorite tune of MH), “Doctor My Eyes,” “Seven Bridges Road” and a few too many Todd Rundgren covers for our liking.

But this tune, this cover of “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” by Crosby, Stills & Nash, is mesmerizing. That’s a really, really difficult song and they simply nailed it. Not bad for a dad-bod band.

They’re from the Atlanta area, by the way.

Talk About Cross-Promotion

Three days ago the HBO true-crime series “I’ll Be Gone In The Dark” premiered. Two days ago the serial killer-and-rapist who is the impetus behind the series, and the object of amateur sleuth Michelle McNamara’s obsession for the last 10 or so years of her life, confessed to all the crimes.

We won’t write his name here, but his first rape occurred on June 18, 1976. And he was free and unknown up until just two or so years ago, when DNA evidence linked him to the crime (a family member had gone on a genealogy site and that’s how they got a DNA match to the killer). Still, nearly 45 years of not being apprehended and then he comes to trial just one day after the premiere of the HBO series.

McNamara, a Notre Dame alum who was married to comedian Patton Oswalt, died of natural causes in 2016 at the age of 45. Her book on her obsessive quest to find the killer, I’ll Be Gone In The Dark (released posthumously with the help of two writers and Oswalt), is excellent if you’re looking for a good read.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Where Donald Trump never visits

Jejune June

As we head into the final weekend of June, I don’t think it’s too soon to believe that this month will be remembered as “naive, simplistic and superficial.” The Dow and the NASDAQ soared without any fundamental reasons to do so; many states “reopened for business” while here we are on June 26 with yesterday being a RECORD day for new coronavirus cases ( > 40,000).

Oh, and the chief of… wait, let me see with whom this dude is affiliated again…checking… oh, yes, the CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL says that actual positive Covid-19 cases are likely TEN TIMES the number that have been diagnosed. Or more than 20 million.

All that plus sports commissioners blustering with confidence that their sports will be reopening soon (“full speed into that iceberg, lads!”).

It’s been quite the jejune June.

Kung Flu Pander

A spot-on editorial by Paul Krugman highlighting how America overall is not to blame for the coronavirus, but rather gung-ho blinders-on Republicans who just looked at the coronavirus as if it were Al Qaeda or climate change and thought that a red baseball cap would be enough to overcome it.

Krugman’s most blistering sentence(s):

It’s not that the right is averse to fearmongering. But it doesn’t want you to fear impersonal threats that require an effective policy response, not to mention inconveniences like wearing face masks; it wants you to be afraid of people you can hate — people of a different race or supercilious liberals.

Eggs-Actly.

And now, in the face of overwhelming evidence, the right and Fox News is still clinging to its stupidity. It’s a lesson for all: they will NEVER yield in their stubborn refusal to acknowledge the world has changed. Ever. Even to the death.

Will The Sh*t Ever Hit The Fan?

In brief, Yes.

Airlines and banks and travel industry and the hospitality industry and the food service industry and Wall Street analysts and ESPECIALLY CNBC are blithely going about their business telling us how good of a sun tan we’re able to get now that the ozone layer has been destroyed. Or encouraging us to hunt for sea shells now that the tide just went out 500 feet. There’s a reason the tide is out 500 feet, however.

A tsunami is coming.

Right this minute, if I had the means and the smarts and was someone like Michael Lewis, I’d be doing the deepest of dives into the artificial propping up of the stock market. I guess even I could use stock phrases such as “cheap money” and “the Fed” and “stimulus packages,” but I’m not sophisticated enough to know how they all work.

What I do know, from watching enough Kurt Russell Disney films as a lad, is that The Computer is Wearing Tennis Shoes. In short, something unnatural is taking place to prop up the stock market. Something probably unethical and perhaps even illegal. And we’ve seen enough to know that in the end the market will come crashing down, the rich folks who engineered it will say that nobody was able to foresee it, Lewis will have his bestseller and eventually an Oscar-nominated picture, and the little guy will end up footing the bill.

We’ve seen this movie.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Statue Of Limitations

Well, okay, now that you mention it…

I’ve lived a few blocks from this statue for decades and I probably never even gave it a second thought. So is that on me? I’ve never bothered much to explore the inspiration behind it (and I could probably stand to read a biography of Theodore Roosevelt, come to think of it).

Here’s what I’m waiting for, though. What happens when enough people become upset about George Washington having owned dozens of slaves (whom I believe, he set free upon his death)? I mean, when that statue gets toppled, it’s going to create a clamor.

And if this is on your front lawn, you may see some up-close toppling soon.

Charles Blow Asks…

… “Can We Call Trump A Killer?”

We have been doing that here, Chuck, for a couple months now. I’ll go further: He’s America’s all-time most prolific mass (not mask) murderer.

Here’s the piece of information inside that blew (Blow, blew) me away:

During the height of the crisis, some states experienced a shortage of ventilators to treat gravely ill patients. Trump claimed that the Obama administration had left no ventilators in the national stockpile, that there were “empty cupboards.” In truth, his own administration confirmed a few days ago that 16,660 ventilators were available for use when Trump took office and in March, and outrageously the Trump administration had distributed only 10,760 of them as of Tuesday. 

Manhattan Transfer Of Droplets

The New York City Marathon? Canceled.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame game, the traditional kickoff to the NFL’s (exhibition) season? Canceled.

Major League Baseball’s 60-game season? Not canceled. Yet. But for just how far will Rob Manfred drive Susan’s parents to the Hamptons before stopping the car?

On Saturday, Kansas State, in what will be a harbinger for the 2020 college football season, shut down its program for the time being. The Wildcats had no coronavirus cases when it welcomed players back to campus in the beginning of June, but by last week it had 14. And so they closed shop in Manhattan.

Is any other sports team or league so arrogant are willfully ignorant about what is happening around us (37,000 NEW cases nationwide yesterday) to think that it won’t also happen to them?

Again, we’re not claiming COVID-19 is a killer among top-tier athletes. Almost certainly not. But is that even the point? And if the virus can infiltrate a relatively remote place like Manhattan, Kans., that quickly, how do you think it’s going to do in Orlando or in MLB cities? C’mon, man.

Check Your Privilege, ESPN

So you go to ESPN’s homepage and you see the headline for a video that shows the face of Chris Fowler. The headline reads, “Fowler: We Need To Be A Part Of The Movement And Not Get Caught In The Moment.”

Click on the video. You’ll find that in a video that is 2:58 in duration, Fowler does not speak until the 2:29 mark. Everyone who talks before him (Maria Taylor, Clinton Yates, Louis Roddick) is African-American. But ESPN.com teases its readers by touting what Fowler said.

Now that’s funny.

By the way, we totally agree with what Fowler says (and with Yates and Riddick, too), but we’ll take it a step further. And I doubt anyone at ESPN would ever say this: Sure, the murder of George Floyd was the spark. But what’s helped sustain this prolonged period of protest and racial activism are two other factors:

  1. The utter absence of sports on the landscape (one of the many things I’m thankful about in terms of no sports) and
  2. A horrendous president, and those who support him, who are so nakedly proud of their ignorance and cruelty that it forces you to sit up and take notice.

If we had a moderate president, or even a progressive one, people might not be out in the streets effecting change. You can actually thank the wickedness of Donald Trump (pepper-spraying and rubber-billeting peaceful protesters in Lafayette Park, for example) for helping to accelerate this movement.

One last word on the video. Maria Taylor cited an MLK, Jr. , quote from 1963 about “white moderates” being the impediment to social change (um, nope; moderates are not worse than the Klan; we get your point, but it’s a lazy straw man) and then segues immediately into introducing Fowler. Which is an implication that he’s the problem. She tried to walk it back but the damage was done. And of course Fowler is going to be gracious in this moment but he’s a very smart dude and one who does not take slights well (who does?). Don’t think he didn’t notice that.

Churchill Downer

You’d expect a sports event held in Mitch McConnell’s state to be expert at gas lighting the public. Taking a page directly from Donald Trump’s coronavirus playbook, the president of Churchill Downs, Kevin Flanery, said, “We will take all necessary steps to protect the health and safety of all who attend and participate in the Derby,” which will be held on September 5.

Flanery “will take all necessary steps to protect the health and safety of all who attend” except mandate that attendees wear masks. That’s like a student declaring that he will do everything possible to get an “A” in the class except study.

It’s truly incredible how stupid MAGA leaders think we all are. But they do know how stupid their lemmings are. And these quotes are for them. Oh, well. Can’t wait for this statement or event to be abridged.