IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

“Don’t Ask me. Ask Jyna!”

As President Trump was LIP’ing (Lying In Public) once again yesterday, claiming that the U.S. “leads the world in testing” (blatantly false), CBS’ White Houe correspondent Weijia Jiang asked a blindingly straightforward question: “Why does that matter? Why is this a global competition to you if every day Americans are still losing their lives and we are still seeing more cases every day?”

How wonderfully sweet and innocent that someone does not see the entire human condition in terms of sports metaphors.

Anyway, Trump was clearly taken aback by the simplicity of Jiang’s question. ““Well, they are losing their lives everywhere in the world. Maybe that is a question you should ask China. Don’t ask me. Ask China that question. When you ask China that question you may get a very unusual answer.”

Which, painful as this is to every day, when you think about Trump’s retort, it makes no sense, other than to pass the buck. And Jiang, who is Chinese-American, couldn’t help but notice that the President perhaps saw her face and then directed the attack on the Chinese. ““Sir, why are you saying that to me, specifically?”

And within a minute Trump had stalked off the stage, President Poopie Diaper once again melting down after a female asks him a “nasty” question.

Let’s review the ground rules once more, shall we?

  1. For Trump, everything in the world that happens is seen in terms of how it affects him.
  2. For the Republicans, the only principle, the only virtue, is winning. By any means necessary. Power is all.
  3. Trump subscribes to the First Rule of George Costanza: “It’s not a lie if you believe it, Jerry.”

Gump-tion

CBS, God love them, has decided to make “Sunday Night At The Movies” a thing again, and this past Sunday they aired Forrest Gump. Now if they’ll just take my advice and air the original All In The Family, and have Rob Reiner introduce and discuss each episode a la Ben Mankiewicz on TCM.

Anyway, so we’re watching the final scene (man, how great was Tom Hanks in this film, by the way?), and there’s young Forrest Gump, living in Greenbow, Alabama, and look what he’s wearing: a red baseball cap. And at first you see it from behind and before he turns to his father to tell him he loves him, it was my greatest hope that when he did turn the front of that ap would have the words “Make America Great Again.” That not only would have appealed to CBS’ demo but it would’ve been the funniest stunt of the year.

Alas, no.

Why are we showing an aerial photo of Notre Dame Stadium? A) Because it’s the greatest place on Earth and B) because when full, like below, it seats a little more than 80,000 people, so this gives you a visual of the number of American lives that have been lost to coronavirus in the past 10 weeks. Of course, there are those who’d at least think, but not say out loud, that if all the casualties had been Notre Dame fans it wouldn’t have been such a tragic loss. Some people would think that. Not us. But some people.

“Fauci To Warn Of ‘Needles, Suffering and Death'”

Actually, JDub, it says “Needless Suffering and Death,” although, both, we suppose, are correct.

Dr. Fauci will testify before a Senate panel this morning that easing quarantine and social distancing prematurely is a bad idea. Which is kind of exactly the opposite of what President Trump is saying. But what does Fauci know? He’s only the nation’s most respected infectious disease expert who also has a medical degree. Did he ever make a tie, a steak, a luxury apartment building or a casino and put his name on it? No, he didn’t. So who you going to listen to?

The Way Outs

The year is 1965, Beatlemania is sweeping the land, and The Flintstones is a prime-time network cartoon whose conceit is “The Honeymooners in prehistoric times.” Someone comes up with the idea for a band, called The Way Outs, who are actually aliens from another planet, to visit Bedrock. But they’re friendly and they have good harmony.

For trivia’s sake, and this will never come in handy, the “band” consisted of three voices (even though there are four characters): Allan Melvin, Don Messick and John Stephenson.

Sure, we conjure the Beatles, but it was The Monkees, who one year later, would pilfer the idea of being a band with a theme song whose title is also the band’s name.

The Flintstones ran from 1960-1966 and was by far the most successful animated sitcom in TV history until Homer, Marge and the kids came along.

Sports Year 1890

The Rose Parade, known at the time as the Tournament of Roses, is held in Pasadena. The first Rose Bowl is still 14 years away.

***

Nellie Bly, a pioneering female journalist, circumnavigates the globe in 72 days, beating the fictitious record of one Phileas J. Fogg from Around The World In 80 Days.

***

In May, THE Ohio State University plays its first football game, beating Ohio Wesleyan 20-14. The team will play and lose three autumn games versus in-state competition, losing 64-0 to Wooster, 14-0 at Denison, and 18-10 to Kenyon.

***

After two years of labor tumult, some of the top talent in the National League form their own league, The Players League. The eight-team league, which features a franchise called the Cleveland Infants, will only last one year and the Boston Reds (yes, not a typo) win the championship.

New York, New York

On May 12 the New York Giants of the National League and the New York Giants of the Players League are each playing simultaneously in upper Manhattan, in fields that are both named the Polo Grounds that back up to one another. Mike Tiernan of the NL Giants hits a home run off future Hall of Famer Kid Nichols that travels so far that it lands in the outfield of the adjacent game. Fans from both games cheer as Tiernan rounds the bases.

***
In San Francisco, welterweights Danny Needham and Patsy Kerrigan fight for 100 rounds (6 hours, 39 minutes) and the bout is declared a draw. Both men survive, but barely.

***

George Dixon, a bantam weight fighter, becomes the first black boxing champ.

***

The Irish, for the only time, sweep Wimbledon, as Willoughby Hamilton and Lena Rice win the men’s and women’s singles, respectively.

***

Take me out to the Ball game

John Ball (great name) becomes the first Englishman and first amateur to win the British Open.

***

In Washington D.C., John Owen becomes the first human to run the 100-yard dash in under 10 seconds. At least the first one timed. I’m sure there’s a guy in Africa who was trying to outrun a lion who did it first.

***

The Brooklyn Bridegrooms and Pittsburgh Alleghenys work overtime—on Labor Day. The first-place Bridegrooms sweep a triple-header from cellar-dweller Pittsburgh (remember, this is before lights and thus, night games).

At West Point, Navy and Army meet in football for the first time. The Middies win, 24-0.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Before, or instead of, reading today’s post, we encourage you to read the column filed here yesterday by Wendell Barnhouse (“Remember The A La Mode”). You can find it by clicking on it just to your right.

Zoom-bie Apocalypse

Before March of 2020, had you ever taken part in a Zoom meeting (no)? In the past two and a half months, have you (yes)? Which is not to say that this is the first we’ve heard of Zoom. If you are of a certain age (middle), you may recall Zoom as a kids’ show that aired on PBS in the Seventies.

Trying to catch hold of the magic that other PBS shows such as Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street had managed to make, Boston’s PBS affiliate put together the most Woke cast you can imagine but it never quite took hold. Perhaps the best that might be said about it is that we still remember the theme song nearly 50 years later and that it was like a poor man’s Electric Company. It felt like a show conceived and entirely written by over-earnest Cancel Culture libs without sense of humor. As opposed to Sesame Street, which had a sense of humor…to wit:

Anyone caught watching Zoom in my New Jersey neighborhood at the time would be given at least three purple nurples and one wedgie the next time he dared step out his front door.

Vampire Diaries

The New York TimesMaureen Dowd drew a pretty neat metaphor between vampires, Covid-19 and the current administration in a weekend column, using the fact that a bat likely started the coronavirus as her jumping-off point. V is for more than just Victory and Virus.

Good news. On Sunday, for the first time since March, the U.S. recorded fewer than 1,000 coronavirus deaths. So instead of each day being like seven to 10 commercial airline disasters, in terms of fatalities, there were only about the equivalent of three to four (750 deaths).

Let’s look at the rest of the past week in the USA, in terms of coronavirus fatalities:

May 9: 1,422 deaths

May 8: 1,687 deaths

May 7: 2,129 deaths

May 6: 2,528 deaths

May 5: 2,350 deaths

Have we hit the peak of the curve? And if so, what will reopening the country do to alter whatever downward trajectory the parabola was on? Should be interesting.

This weekend in our store a customer asked me if any of our employees had tested positive. Not that I know of, I replied, not thinking to add, “I doubt any of us have been tested.”

He then went on a jag about how he visits other big stores in the Valley of the Sun and hasn’t heard anyone else coming down with it. Uh-oh, I think I know where this is going. Makes me wonder if the whole thing isn’t a hoax.

I asked him how that explains the 80,000 dead in the USA and the 160,000 more dead all over the planet. “It’s just a matter of where you get your facts,” he said.

And then I just turned and walked away. While I missed the chance to ask why the president is being tested every day for a hoax illness while most of us can’t get tested if we wanted to be.

Man Who Sings ’40’ (and ‘One’) Turns 60

U2 lead singer Bono turned 60 years old this weekend. To celebrate, he’s doing something very much in character: releasing a play list of 60 songs “that saved my life” and writing a thank-you note to each artist (or offspring of artist if they have passed) and posting them at U2.com. I wonder if he was inspired by Jimmy Fallon’s “Thank You” bit?

Anyway, the first six thank you notes have been posted, for songs such as “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk and “Life on Mars?” by David Bowie.

Wiig-ing Out

SNL‘s season finale aired Saturday, with alumna Kristen Wiig as host. Here’s her opening monologue. Stay until the end.

Sports Year 1889

The inaugural Football League (presently Premier League season) ends with an unbeaten squad, Preston North End. A mere 115 years will pass before the feat is duplicated, by Arsenal, in 2004.

***

In the last, and we do mean LAST, major bareknuckle boxing match, John L. Sullivan defeats Jake Kilrain in 75 rounds in “the vanished hamlet of Richburg, Mississippi.” The bout took place on July 8th, which if you’ve ever been in Mississippi in July (we have), well, never mind the opposing fighter, you’ve already got problems. Here’s a tremendous account from Paul Beston, titled “Boxing’s Longest Day.”

****

William Renshaw wins the last of his seven Wimbledon’s men’s singles titles (only Roger Federer has won more), defeating twin brother and defending champion Ernest. It was Ernest’s third defeat in the final against his womb-mate, with no victories against him.

***

In the first all-New York World Series, the Giants defeat the Brooklyn Bridegrooms 6 games to 4 in a best-of-11 series. The Giants had played the first half of their home schedule at a cricket grounds on Staten Island until the Polo Grounds opened on July 8th (same day as the above fight). That same season the Bridegrooms set a Major League attendance record with 350,000 fans even though most of the seating at their home venue, Washington Park (on the corner of 3rd Street and 4th Ave) is destroyed by fire and it takes a month to rebuild it.

Remember The A La Mode!

by Wendell Barnhouse

RICHARDSON, Texas – One of this week’s distractions from the death count came in Texas, where there’s no state tax, limited regulation of businesses and an apparent disregard for the law. So, ya know, on brand.

Shelley Luther owns Salon a la Mode, which is a hair salon and not an ice cream parlor. She decided to defy the orders of Dallas County judge Clay Jenkins and Gov. Greg Abbott and reopened for business two weeks ago.

As her business continued to operate, Luther ignored a city citation, a cease-and-desist order (which she tore up on camera at a local protest) and a temporary restraining order. This week, she appeared in court. A state district judge asked her to apologize for three acts of law breaking and pledge to follow the law (like most of her competitors). She refused. The judge cited Luther for contempt and sentenced her to seven days in jail.

Well, that’s not how we restart the country’s financial engines in the wake of a pandemic that’s cost over 78,000 lives. Hair needs to trim, styled and dyed; nails must be clipped, buffed and painted. By God, this is Murica.

First, Texas attorney general Ken Paxton (who was indicted for three felonies in 2015 but has been slow-playing the process) said the judge was wrong with his ruling. Then Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who wants everyone over 70 to just go ahead and die, said he would pay Luther’s fine. Then Governor Greg Abott (who on tape said it was a fact that reopening businesses too soon would increase COVID-19 infections and deaths) back-dated his original order regarding closings. Then the Texas Supreme Court overturned Luther’s conviction and she walked out of jail Thursday after serving two days. Friday, Ted Cruz needed a haircut, so he flew in from Houston to get a trim at Luther’s shop.

I’m this many years old when I remembered the GOP standing for the rule of law. Those four men and the Texas Supreme Court judges are proving to be the hackiest of partisan hacks.

Marquette Wolf is president of the Dallas chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates and he wrote about the ruling in the Dallas Morning News.

“As for the ruling, Judge Eric Moye rightly ensured that the rule of law prevailed even under the emergency circumstances and enormous challenges of the pandemic. The orders issued by Judge Jenkins and Gov. Abbott have caused pain to everyone. But those orders are and remain the law. As Judge Moye rightly noted, if any citizen or business could violate those orders, or for that matter, any law as they saw fit, then no rule of law would exist, and anarchy would prevail.”

Your Humble Correspondent has been stewing about this all week. Luther is exhibiting the white privilege by ignoring the rule of law, going unpunished and then gaining her 15 minutes of fame. A GoFundMe account has raised $500,000. Damn, I need legal advice. I need a way to break the law, skate prosecution and profit. (And, hell no, I’m not going to work for Trump.)

Thursday afternoon I made a sign. On one side – Boycott – Criminal Owner and on the other side White Privilege Shelley. Friday I picketed at Salon a la Mode but unfortunately I showed up after Cruz staged his dog and pony show.

I’ve spent years taking potshots on Twitter at all the MAGA mouth breathers. This was an opportunity to spend a couple of hours in the belly of the beast.

The salon occupies a corner of a courtyard in a strip shopping mall. It didn’t take long before I met up with a Trump trooper. A man, probably my age, was in a wheeled walker with a seat. He was wearing a MAGA hat. I don’t mean to judge (yes, I do) but his clothes were filthy, and he had smudges of dirt on both arms.

“You’re the devil. Shame on you.”

He then rolled up the salon door. One of the women opened the door and she started to talk with the man, making eye contact with me.

“He doesn’t have anything better to do while the rest of us work. I bet he never even served his country.”

Well, yes, but … WTF?

They then prayed together for my lost soul. The man then said, “the blood of Jesus was spilled for you and may the angels descend and strike you dead.”

Mixed messaging, but whatever.

On one side of the salon, the workers lowered the shades so they couldn’t see me. 

One male customer walked up. “Fucking asshole.” Another male customer. “Fucking idiot.” A woman left wearing an “I (Heart) Trump” shirt. 

A man showed up and told the greeter he wanted to give Shelley a donation. He had to wait until she showed up. When Luther arrived, he went inside and I stood outside the doorway to make sure she could see my sign.

After about five minutes, Luther came out. 

“You can’t block the doorway.” 

“I’m not, I’m at least 10 feet from the door, social distancing.” 

“I’ll call the police.”

Allow me to pause here and point out that a business owner who defied three different legal documents and was charged with contempt of court wanted the law on her side.

Allow me to pause again and virtually slap myself for not thinking of point that out at the time.

On one of the windows was several sheets of paper where people had written messages of encouragement. One of the signs read, “Shelley Luther, American hero.”

I picked up a Magic Marker and crossed out “hero” and was writing “criminal” when Luther came charging out. “That’s private property.”

“It’s also free speech. Everyone else expressed an opinion; I’m expressing mine.”

I moved to put the marker back on the windowsill and she blocked me. 

“I’m just putting it back where it was.”

“Drop it.”

She kept walking toward me and I kept backing away.

Her husband came out. 

“Don’t touch my wife.” (It was apparent that they were seeking a physical confrontation; I’m a talker, not a fighter.)

She told him to go back inside and he did.

“You think I’m a horrible person?” she asked.

“Yes, you broke the law that everyone else was abiding. You should still be in jail. But I notice that this is making you a bunch of money.”

“I donated $18,000 to a black barbershop not far from here.”

“Well, that’s great. Good for you. You’ve still got almost half a million.”

“The cops are on their way.”

“OK, whatever, I’m leaving but I’ll be back.”

“I can’t wait.”

I walked back to my car and decided to wait for the Richardson police to show. They never did; I suppose she could have canceled the call or that she was bluffing.

I decided to walk back to the courtyard with my sign. An elderly man approached me. 

“I don’t mind you walking around here but you can’t with that sign.”

“Uh, really? I’m expressing my First Amendment rights.”

“I own this property. You can walk around and spend money, but you can’t carry that sign.”

“Well, I’m not a lawyer or anything but I’m pretty sure you’re wrong.”

He got in his car and left. I continued picketing.

A woman came out of the salon.

“You should be ashamed. You don’t know anything about the Constitution.”

“I believe freedom of speech is the First Amendment.”

“Shelley and her employees are exercising their right to assemble, that’s in the First Amendment.”

“Uh, I think it’s ‘lawful’ assembly … and working isn’t considered assembly, especially if it violates legal orders.”

She walked away, probably to consult her pocket edition of the Constitution.

Another man walked up with the “fucking idiot” salutation.

“What’s the deal with the white privilege shit,” he asked. “Are you a racist?”

He then went on a rant about that included “slavery” and “against the law” and “Democrats were slave owners” before going into the salon. He soon returned. “Hey, I’ll pay for your haircut and tip all the workers.”

“I don’t need a haircut. Just give ‘em your money.”

About that time, a cameraman had showed up and started to set up his equipment. We exchanged hellos.

“Look, I’m outta here. I have no desire to be on TV. I know I’d make a good visual but, sorry. Good luck with the interview.”

On the way home I stopped at a print shop to get a professional version of my hand-printed sign. In a week, Shelley Luther and Salon a la Mode will likely to have faded to the background as other bright, shiny objects gain the attention of the media kittens. 

My one-man stand did nothing but stir up some adrenaline and satisfy my curiosity about the COVIDidiots I encountered. I can’t fathom a President* that accepts over 1,000 deaths a day and rejects expert advice. His supporters have blind faith. My fervent hope and belief is that there are more of us than them.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

Let It Bleed

–The latest job report (today’s) shows that 20.5 million jobs were lost in April (worst month ever).

–The unemployment rate is at 14.7%, the highest since The Great Depression.

–Since early April, at least 1,000 Americans have died from Covid-19 every day and on at least 14 days, more than 2,000 died.

–The stock market is up big, again, today, for the fourth consecutive day.

What’s going on?

The President and his cronies, many of whom appear on CNBC in the mornings as “guests,” have decided to “move on” from the pandemic and “focus on the economy.” Hmm. America is going back to work and they’re all betting, and assuring Americans, that the worst is behind us.

Not so fast, my fiend.

What’s Really Going On

The President and Vice-President are being tested daily (just yesterday Trump flashed his most recent display of shocking ignorance by calling testing an “imperfect art” because you can test negative one day and positive the next) so they’re not worried. We imagine Steve Mnuchin and those types also have access to tests.

Meanwhile, at the current rates of mortality in the U.S., you have about a 1 in 215,000 chance daily of dying from the coronavirus. Of course, if you are elderly and/or in a nursing home, or live in New York City, or are black, the odds for your survival are much worse. If you’re not any of those things, the odds for your survival are much better. Is this beginning to become clearer as to why MAGA is not all that concerned about the virus? (in fact, many actually welcome it ‘cuz it’s “culling the herd“).

What Will Happen

As the country “reopens” without any vaccine in sight, people will continue to die at a rate of at least 1,500 per day. But don’t worry, nobody that you know. That number will probably escalate, though, and it should increase among those who aren’t careful about masks and social distancing, which is to say Trump-ers, which will somewhat level the playing field.

Meanwhile, doctors and nurses and physician’s assistants and lab technicians and the like—Remember them? The people for whom you bang pots and pans every night at 7 p.m. in large metro areas?—will continue to be overworked and exhausted and far more susceptible to the disease than anyone else in their age and income demographic. And maybe they’ll begin to wonder as to why they’re not being supported by their government, are in fact being thrown to the wolves.

Is it worth dying for, many (more) will begin to ask themselves?

The pandemic isn’t serious to millionaires and billionaires of the Trump Elite because it isn’t affecting them. Like this writer, they are safely ensconced in some nice location and Zoom’ing those who need to be Zoom’ed and still able to follow the markets on CNBC or play golf. It’s an inconvenience, at worst.

Kinda like how health care and education is terrible for the majority of the nation, but not for them, so what’s the problem? That’s how they feel about the pandemic.

But of course, their behavior here will only exacerbate the situation. Meaning way more deaths than there might have been and eventually the peeps who work in meat-processing plants or hospitals or other types of vulnerable spots will go all Dee Snyder on the White House and cry, “We’re not gonna take it! No, we’re not gonna take it! We’re not gonna take it… any MORRRRRE!”

And that will be that.

The markets are up? The markets will crash again.

Elon Musk said Tesla stock is overvalued and yet it’s risen 7% since he said that? I’d listen to Elon Musk, myself.

We’re going to have 100,000 dead Americans by the end of May, basically a three-month span. It could wind up being half a million between March 1, 2020 and March 1, 2021, which would put it right behind heart disease (650,00 per annum) and cancer (600,000), which each are at least three times as deadly as the next major cause of death in the U.S. Who knows, Covid-19 could top both of those. It will definitely be in their class.

And yet the stock market continues to soar. You have to, in a perverse way, admire the utter callousness of the big Wall Street investors. Not even massive death totals will sway their lust for green.

The bills will come due. Here’s hoping we’re all alive to see it.

This is the part of The Big Short where the two d-bag asshole mortgage lender bros are telling an incredulous Steve Carell and his colleagues (“They’re not confessing; they’re bragging“) that they keep on making bad-faith loans with no consequences because the housing market always goes up.

And there’s little ol’ Michael Burry in his office continuing to short the housing market as his investors demand their money back and he just ignores them because Burry understands nature (and economic realities) and understands that just because the plane is nosediving you can’t keep telling the passengers that the good news is “that we’ll be arriving early.” Eventually the plane actually crashes and someone notices that while, yes, you made good time, the plane didn’t actually arrive at the airport and everyone aboard is dead. Soooooo…..

Umm, What The F***

The Justice Dept. headed by William Barr has decided to not pursue any legal action against former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who only pleaded guilty—twice.

America is broken. The rules are being broken right in front of us now. They don’t care.

Sports Year 1888

Realizing that friendly fixtures do not draw crowds, especially those held at neutral sites, which means that it is more difficult to pay pros, a dozen teams agree to play home and away matches and form an English Football League. The 12 teams: Accrington F.C., Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Burnley, Derby County, Everton, Notts County, Preston North End, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers (teams in bold are currently in the Premier League).

***

In football, tackling below the waist is legalized. In baseball, it is established that four balls will be a walk and three strikes a strikeout.

***

The Welterweight division (140-147 lbs) is established and the first world champ is yet another mick, Paddy Duffy (not to be confused with Paddy Ryan).

****

In Deadwood, Dakota Territory, on July 4th, the Great Hub-and-Hub Race is staged between two Chinese Hose Teams. Don’t ask. Oh, but you wanna know? Something about pulling fire carriages through the streets.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

Down With PPE

Let’s take a journey through the president’s thoughts as this nurse from Louisiana, during a National Nurses’ Day ceremony inside the Oval Office, responds to a reporter’s question about the availability of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) in a way that he found unsatisfactory.

Wait, a woman is speaking? A woman I don’t find attractive is speaking? A woman I didn’t directly address is speaking…in my presence? A woman is contradicting me? If I were Vlad, I wouldn’t have to put up with this.

Truth Serum

Nuuk What I Found

So we finally finished reading Underworld, Don DeLillo’s 827-page novel that sprawls across five decades (not in any chronological order) and is exactly the type of fiction that critics will praise not so much because they enjoyed it but because there is undeniable genius at work and they know they’ll never be able to write a novel that is so, well, novelly.

(And now we know why our talented writer friend Alexander Nazaryan hated The Goldfinch so much: because he thinks Underworld is the greatest American novel of the past 50 years and because The Goldfinch rips off many of its conceits, including childhood in NYC, parent lost way too early, relocation to an up-and-coming but soulless American southwest metropolis, a little delinquency, etc.). We also hated The Goldfinch, though we weren’t that much more crazy about Underworld.

What does any of this have to do with Nuuk, Greenland? Of the too-numerous-to-attempt-to-recount subplots and characters and ruminations that take place, one character wonders aloud about Greenland and asks how come no one knows anyone who’s been there (unless military) and that you never see flights to Nuuk, etc? His wife offers that it is the world’s biggest island, which it is only as a technicality because Australia is bigger but it’s so big they consider it a continent. Anyway…

One more step spells serious trouble

…while Nuuk is very far north, it’s actually located at the same latitude (4/100s of a degree north of) as Reykjavik, Iceland. It also has about 1/7th the population of Iceland. Other stuff to know: Greenland is a territory under the domain of Denmark (though Trump wants to buy it from them) and 3/4 of it is covered by a permanent ice sheet (for now), the only such one outside Antarctica. Most of the population is Inuit, if you are into it.

So that’s your cousin Jeffrey.

Why I Really Left Twitter

More than six weeks after suspending my account, I have a little better perspective about why I left Twitter. At the time I wrote a long-ish blog item about it, but here it is in five words: To protect myself from myself.

So, yeah, I’m going to the meetings. Got a sponsor. I do miss Cecil Hurt, but not much else. I want to thank the colleagues who reached out and asked if I’m okay, the one or two who actually congratulated me. I appreciate it (and not in a false Curb way of using “appreciate” to fake sincerity).

Don’t know if I’ll ever be back. Maybe if there’s a Bubble Screen. But even then, I’ll mostly sit on the sidelines and observe. The truth? I miss it less than I expected I would.

Sports Year 1887

This needs to be a Shamrock Series look

The University of Michigan football team, which was formed eight years earlier, makes a stop on its way to a Thanksgiving Day contest in Chicago the day before in South Bend. There, at the invitation of the newly formed Notre Dame football club, they become the small Catholic school’s first opponent.

The two sides actually play a mixed scrimmage first so that the Michigan team can teach their hosts the game. Then, on a field in poor condition due to melting snow and mud, and before 400 or so souls, Michigan and Notre Dame play a game lasting no more than half an hour. The visitors win 8-0 and then both sides retreat for lunch at the dining hall. Michigan’s team is promised it will always receive a warm welcome at Notre Dame. Ehhhhhhhhh.

***

Who was Michigan scheduled to play the following day in Chicago? Northwestern, but the game “could not be arranged” (NU wussed out, or so we’re going to choose to believe). So UM played the Chicago Harvard School and won 26-0.

More importantly, on that day in that city, George Hancock invented the game of softball. Yes, he did. A reporter for the Chicago Board of Trade, Hancock had just watched a Yale alum toss a boxing glove at a Harvard alum, who swung at the glove with a bat (it had just been announced that the Elis had won The Big Game where they all were, at the Farragut Boat Club). Hancock yelled, “Let’s play ball!” and suddenly he’d created a milder version of baseball designed to be played indoors.

The city of Chicago then erected a 100-story tall building in his honor, on Michigan Ave., to commemorate the feat.

****

Richard Sears wins his 7th consecutive U.S. Open and then announces he’s retiring.

***

At Wimbledon, 15 year-old Lottie Dod, the daughter of a wealthy cotton trader who will never have to work a day in her life, wins the Ladies’ Singles title. She remains the youngest Ladies Singles champion at Wimbledon, though to be fair she only had to play two matches. In later years she’d be known as Annie Hall‘s favorite player, as fans of the eponymous film will note that right after Annie’s doubles match, she is heard to utter, “Lottie Dod, Lottie Dod, La La.”

Dod will win four more Wimbledon titles in the next six years and live to the ripe old age of 88.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

Live And Let Die

As President Trump (sans mask) toured a mask factory in Arizona yesterday, no one thought to turn down the rock music the employees play to make the time pass better. And so it was that his chat with one worker was mostly drowned out by the vocals of Paul McCartney on Wings’ classic “Live And Let Die.”

You can’t make this stuff up.

As The New York Times reports that black people as an ethnic group are far more susceptible to Covid-19 than any other American ethnic group, and as Prez Trump himself notes that people over age 60 with underlying medical conditions are more at risk, you don’t have to wonder much as to why the GOP is so eager to get the country up and running again. The coronavirus isn’t a danger; it’s a godsend.

Live and let die.

Old folks with health problems are just a drag on the system. And black folk? Well, except for Tiger and Kanye…

Live and let die.

Mask Transit

For the first time since it began operating in 1915, the New York City subway system had an overnight planned stoppage of service last night. No trains ran at all between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., which is peak time for anyone whose lives are really not going in the right direction (particularly on a Tuesday night).

The MTA closed the subway so that it could massively disinfect all trains. It’s also a good way to persuade potential straphangers that the trains are safe: ridership is down 90% since the virus struck and at least 109 subway workers have died due to the virus.

I don’t know how they were able to get some of the people who ride the train during those hours out of the cars last nigh (a lot of jostling, a lot of “Wake up!” and maybe even a hose or two), but they did. This is something that will continue for the foreseeable future and really not the worst idea to keep doing.

Live And Let Diet

British superstar siren Adele posted a recent pic of herself on Instagram and we instantly thought of a sale: 30% off. In music this is known as “the Belinda Carlisle makeover” and it may be only a matter of time before she weds a Republican congressman and changes her hair color.

Sit and Listen (Sit and Listen)

Here’s Curt Smith of Tears For Fears and his daughter Diva covering the band’s breakout 1983 hit, “Mad World.” Father and daughter just released this a month ago.

Sports Year 1886

George (with stache)

Yale wins the national championship again, Richard Sears wins the U.S. Open again, William Renshaw wins Wimbledon again, and John L. Sullivan knocks out another mick to retain the World Heavyweight Championship. Are dynasties ruining sports???

***

At Lillie Bridge, a cinder bicycle track in London, Walter George and William Cummings meet on August 31st in a Challenge Mile race (the two had first squared off a year earlier with George winning in 4:23, despite walking part of the last lap). Despite Cummings taking an eight-yard lead early in the fourth and final lap, George surges ahead and breaks the tape in a world-record 4:12. No one will run a faster mile officially until 1926.

MH’s crack research staff will continue to investigate if this was the inspiration for the phrase, “By George, I think he’s got it.”

***

In St. Louis, The Sporting News is established by Alfred Spink, a director with the St. Louis Browns. It is a national periodical focusing on sports and soon becomes renowned as “The Bible of Baseball.” The Browns defeat the White Stockings to win the World Series.

Guy Hecker of the Louisville Colonels wins 26 games pitching and also the batting title with a .341 average. He remains the only pitcher to ever win a batting title.

***

Arsenal F.C. is formed by a union of munitions workers in London.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

This photo should be brought up on obscenity charges

Lies and Lives

Once upon a time there was a TV show on NBC, a reality show. And it wasn’t a bad show before all of the contestants were celebrities. One of the hallmarks of the show each week is that contestants would make, if not promises, then at least projections of what their team would be able to accomplish versus the other team. And you know what happened every week? The leader of the team who failed to meet projections, almost always, was called into the board room where the man above to the left would announce, “YOU’RE FIRED.”

February 26: ““You have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.”

YOU’RE FIRED.

April: Trump predicts the death toll could reach 60,000 Americans. Then, this past Saturday night he adjusts his number to Fox News’ Brett Bair that it could eclipse 100,000 Americans (which means gird yourselves for at least 150,000… at least).

YOU’RE FIRED.

We didn’t realize it until CNN’s Don Lemon reminded us, but the U.S. Senate formally acquitted President Trump on February 5th. The next day the first recorded U.S. coronavirus death occurred.* If there is a God, he has a sense of vengeance.

*We think many Americans were dying of it at least two months earlier and we’d honestly be curious if this isn’t what was behind the curiously quick demise of ESPN reporter Ed Aschoff, who was only 34 when he passed in late December.

That’s a world chart but remember, the U.S. has more deaths than the top two other nations combined. I don’t think this is what they mean when they say, “flattening the curve.”

Finally, something very Trumpian to keep in mind. In the past two months Trump has publicly laid claim to “zero accountability” and “total authority.” Nothing better defines his perverted sense of values.

When The Levee Breaks

In Austin, a park ranger was politely and affably reminding park goers to remain a respectful distance from one another (i.e., doing his job) and a d-bag pushed him in the water. In Flint, a security guard turned away a woman from a Dollar Store for not wearing his mask (working security at a Dollar Store is in the “You-couldn’t-pay-me-enough” Hall of Fame of undesirable jobs) and her husband returned 20 minutes later, said something about “disrespecting my wife” and fatally shot the guard.

In Florida and Washington, D.C., they’re hailing the “reopening” of America and looking the other way at data that this will mean the loss of tens of thousands more lives. Who cares, the stock market’s up 400 points for a second day in a row!

If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break
If it keeps on rainin’, levee’s goin’ to break

At what point do the doctors and nurses and park rangers and security guards say, “F*** it” and walk off the job? And who could blame them? We’re risking our lives out here for you and you don’t even have our backs? In fact, you’re exacerbating the situation (and then someone explains to Donald Trump that the word does not mean self-pleasuring)?!?

All bills eventually come due (unless you can get yourself elected president). And while this bill may not personally affect Trump, the death toll’s about to rise precipitously and doctors, nurses and others, already overworked literally to the point of death for some, may begin to wonder why they’re being put in the front of the firing line day after day after day. Oh, and the Treasury Dept. plans to borrow a record $3 trillion in the second quarter for coronavirus relief. From whom, you may rightly ask?

Cryin’ won’t help you prayin’ won’t do you no good
Now cryin’ won’t help you prayin’ won’t do you no good

From a market perspective, and you should have learned by now not to heed our advice, we see this irrational (and somewhat vulgar, considering how many more people are needlessly about to die) exuberance extending for awhile as businesses reopen and Americans, being Americans, recklessly and rapaciously storm back into malls, restaurants and bars.

And then the bodies will pile up. And someone will go, “Oh yeah, maybe we jumped the gun a little bit” (but only after one of their own family members die). And then there’ll be a massive reckoning and the market will once again go off a cliff. Be ready for that day. Have a lot of your funds in $$$. It’s not coming immediately. But it’s coming.

Trump and Mnuchin, staring at a Dow index that dips back under 20,000

We were trying to think of a movie scene this reminded us of. Not sure if this is the best metaphor, but it reminds us of The Perfect Storm. Here’s the Andrea Gail with a hull full of fish and two choices: head farther out into the Atlantic and squander the catch but save the crew or sail into the hurricane with a chance to save the prize haul while putting every crewman’s life in mortal danger. And you know how that turned out.

Hot Dame, Judi!

I

If Dame Judi Dench can earn acclaim as an octogenarian cover model for British Vogue, then we’ve got to step up our efforts to promote Phyllis. We’re thinking an Arizona Highways cover could be in the offing.

Speaking of New York beauties of Italian descent born before Pearl Harbor was attacked, this is Carmen Del’Orefice, 88, who is arguably the world’s most successful model-T (!). She’s been runway’ing it and cat walking it and photo shooting it since age 15. A highly successful career despite a problematic surname. Carmen’s daily motto is “Enjoy oneself, at no one else’s expense.” We can get behind that.

The Last Don

Shula and Zonk. The immortals of our childhood.

Legendary coach Don Shula, still the only NFL coach to lead a team (Miami Dolphins) to an undefeated Super Bowl championship season, in 1972, passes away at the age of 90. Shula coached the Baltimore Colts in the Sixties and the Dolphins in the Seventies, Eighties and up through 1995. In 33 years of coaching, Shula had two losing seasons. Two.

Shula retired with 328 victories (regular season), which is the standard. George Halas had 318. Bill Belichick has 273 and is currently three years older than Shula was when he retired.

Shula, who grew up outside of Cleveland, played at John Carroll and then for an outstanding Cleveland Browns (don’t laugh) team in 1951 that finished 11-1 and lost the championship game. Shula then played a few more seasons with the Baltimore Colts as a defensive back. There may be a lost photo somewhere of Shula defending wide receiver Bud Grant, who is still alive an whose Vikings tangled with Shula’s Dolphins in Super Bowl VIII.

Sports Year 1885

Richard Sears wins his fifth consecutive U.S. National (precursor to the U.S. Open) Singles Championship in Newport, R.I. The event is in its fifth year. William Renshaw wins his fifth consecutive Wimbledon singles title. Why do these two keep ducking one another?

***

Princeton, which had defeated its first seven opponents by a cumulative score of 457-10, trails Yale 5-0 late on November 21st in New Haven. Then Henry “Tillie” Lamar fields a punt on his own 10-yard line and races 90 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Old Nassau wins 6-5, its first defeat of rival Yale since 1878. Princeton beats Penn 76-10 five days later (their third defeat of the Quakers of the season) to finish 9-0 and win the national championship.

***

Using Queensbury Rules (i.e., gloves), John L. Sullivan defeats Dominick McCaffrey in six rounds in Cincinnati to win the World Heavyweight boxing championship.’

****

Two extraordinary association football scores on Sept. 12: In the top division, Dundee Harp defeat Aberdeen Rovers 35-0. In a lower division match, Arbroath FC defeat Bon Accord FC 36-0. The two outcomes remain the most lopsided final scores at the top level and at any level of English pro soccer, respectively.

***

John “Phenomenal” Smith loses his first start as a Brooklyn Gray by a score of 18–5 after his teammates commit 14 errors behind him, seven alone by shortstop Germany Smith. “Phenomenal”‘s boast of being so good that he could win by himself doesn’t sit well with the other Brooklyn players, who are fined $500 for their intentional poor play. In the interests of team chemistry, Smith is immediately released. #IABD

The World Series between the Chicago White Stockings ends in a deadlock, 3-3-1, after the first game was called due to darkness and the next six were evenly split. It apparently occurs to no one to finish Game 1. At least the Rays and Phillies figured this out in 2008.

On October 17 owners agree to set players’ salaries between $1,000 and $2,000. Five days later a small coterie of players clandestinely form the Brotherhood of Professional Baseball Players, the first players’ union. #IABD

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

“We’re Finally On Our Own”

The Kent State massacre. Fifty years ago today. If you were a college student in 1970 you had already, just since puberty, experienced the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert F. Kennedy and Malcolm X. Then again, if you are a college student in 2020 you’ve probably already lived through 9/11, the Iraq War, the financial collapse of 2008 and now the coronavirus pandemic. Tragedy, to-mah-to.

It says something about the way news was dispensed 50 years ago that Neil Young (a Canadian living in Los Angeles at the time) was more struck by the photos that he saw in Life magazine than by what he saw on television. That moved him to write “Ohio,” which Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young recorded just 17 days later and released in June.

Nick went to the dining hall and avoided potential tragedy

One undergraduate who was spared that day in Ohio? A Kent State football player named Nick Saban, who had decided along with a teammate to eat lunch first before attending the war protest.

The student photographer who took the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo, John Filo, went on to work at both Sports Illustrated and Newsweek and now works at CBS. That woman wailing in the photo is a 14 year-old runaway, Mary Ann Vecchio. Fill recounting the experience:

The bullets were supposed to be blanks. When I put the camera back to my eye, I noticed a particular guardsman pointing at me. I said, “I’ll get a picture of this,” and his rifle went off. And almost simultaneously, as his rifle went off, a halo of dust came off a sculpture next to me, and the bullet lodged in a tree.

I dropped my camera in the realization that it was live ammunition. I don’t know what gave me the combination of innocence and stupidity … I started to flee–run down the hill and stopped myself. “Where are you going?” I said to myself, “This is why you are here!”

Here’s a good read on Kent State and its ramifications…

A World Of Waste And Wonder

Let it not be said that the 2020 pandemic did not inspire great art and thoughts. Above, Tom Foolery with a Seussian poem on what the pandemic (hopefully) taught humanity, and here, David Eggers on “Flattening The Truth.” Stay with it, the bottom half is better than the top.

Justin Time

Imagine, a democratically elected leader of a country in North America who actually has the best interests of the majority of citizens in mind. Astounding, right? Meet Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada.

On Friday, less than two weeks after a gunman killed 22 people in Nova Scotia, making it the largest mass murder in Canada’s history, Trudeau announced the immediate ban of 1,500 types (!) of assault weapons. “

“These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only — only to kill the largest amount of people in the shortest amount of time,” he said in a press conference. “You don’t need an AR-15 to bring down a deer” (besides, they’re so much more difficult to clean and dress with 37 slugs in them).

What an explosion of, I dunno, common sense? I mean, banning assault rifles won’t eliminate murder any more than speed limits eliminated speeding, and yet no one seems to have a problem with driving at least near the speed limit.

Murder Hornet

If 2020 were a film, the tagline below the title would be, “It came from Asia.” First it was Parasite invading the Oscars. Then Covid-19. Now it’s the giant hornet, also a creature that mysteriously found its way across the Pacific and which also first appeared in the state of Washington.

Hmm. Maybe those Chinese really are up to something clandestine and sinister. Will the murder hornet go the way of the snakehead fish (whatever happened to that species?) or are we in for yet another tsunami of terror and death? The worst part about the murder hornet, besides its nom de guerre, is that it decimates bee populations, something Americans were already doing a pretty good job of ourselves. We need bees. In school you need A’s, but in gardens and nature in general you need bees. Come to think of it, you need seas, too.

Sports Year 1884

Jackie who? Moses Fleetwood Walker becomes the first black major league ballplayer when he makes his debut for the Toledo Blue Stockings of the American Association. Adding legitimacy to this claim, the American Association champion, the New York Metropolitans, meet the National League champ, the Providence Grays, in an event called “the Original World Series” in October.

A screenwriter couldn’t conjure a better name than Moses Fleetwood Walker, now could she? Walker would only play one season, but he would go on to earn four patents for inventions, kill a white man in self defense (an all-white jury acquitted him), go to jail for a year for postal robbery (he was also a mailman) and own a theater.

Ned Williamson becomes the Babe Ruth of the 19th century, shattering the existing single-season home run record of 14 with his 27 dingers. Williamson’s record will last for 35 years before you-know-who breaks it (with 29).

***

A divinity student enrolls at Yale to play for coach Walter Camp. His name? Amos Alonzo Stagg. Not coincidentally, Yale defeats Dartmouth 113-0. One week later Princeton defeats Lafayette 140-0. People were intent on impressing the Committee even then.

****

Everton F.C. moves into Anfield, a new enclosed stadium. They’ll remain for seven seasons and then Liverpool F.C. will become the tenant, where they remain today. Up the Reds!

***

In a sign of more literate times, a boxer named John Kelly earns the nickname Nonpareil Dempsey and becomes the world’s first middleweight champion. Burying the lede, boxing establishes weight classes.

***

For the first time, Wimbledon stages a Ladies Singles championship. Maud Watson, 19, the daughter of a local vicar, wins in three sets. She plays in a corset and petticoats.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Starting Five

The Cruelest Month

April ends. If you visit cnbc.com, you’d know that it was Wall Street’s best month in more than 30 years. The S&P was up nearly 13% and the Dow was up more than 11%.

Of course, if you read anything else, you might also know that it was likely the deadliest month in the United States in your lifetime. At least 60,000 Americans—the attendance at a packed Notre Dame Stadium pre-1990s—died due to the coronavirus. When April began, only about 3,000 Americans had died due to the virus. A plethora of duplicitous Trump pressers and one Jared Kushner victory lap later, more than 63,000 have perished.

We imagine an extraordinary event hasn’t claimed that many American lives in one month since the Spanish Flu or, before that, the Civil War.

Swelter In Place

As the mercury hits the triple digits here in Devil’s Gulch and the rest of the country begins to get enthused about not thinking in terms of layers, a team of top epidemiologists (some of whom have even made multiple covers of Epidemiology Illustrated) released a report saying that we’ll be dealing with this pandemic at least until 2022.

“The length of the pandemic will likely be 18 to 24 months, as herd immunity gradually develops in the human population,” they wrote, adding, “The idea that this is going to be done soon defies microbiology.”

Soooooo, it may be time to get even more creative with your crock pot. And because your local Republican governor is about to begin easing restrictions on what can or cannot be open (and we can appreciate both sides of this argument), we’re going to rescind our prediction of fewer than 100,000 domestic deaths due to Covid-19 (it could top that number by Memorial Day, after all).

If the pandemic lasts as long as these germ studs say it may, needing to infect at least 60% of the population before it subsides, you could be looking at half a million deaths. If you were worried about your preferred Senior Living community having no vacancies, that likely won’t be a problem.

Amazon’s Wild Day

We imagine Susie B. having a Shirley Temple-level meltdown at the Amazon seesaw of the past 24 hours. First, yesterday, shares of the monolithic middleman delivery service hit an all-time high of $2,475 as it leaps more than $100 in one day before an after-hours earnings report.

Then comes the report, where Amazon (predictably) crushes it. Then, founder and CEO Jeff Bezos releases a statement in which he announces that Amazon will reinvest ALL of its Q1 profits into fighting the coronavirus. “Providing for customers and protecting employees as this crisis continues for more months is going to take skill, humility, invention, and money,” Bezos wrote. “If you’re a shareowner in Amazon, you may want to take a seat, because we’re not thinking small.”

And with that shares of the stock plummeted more than $175. Stay strong, Susie B.

Covers Week Concludes

The Japanese female trio Shonen Knife with their original and guitar-blazing cover of The Carpenters’ “Top Of The World,” which they put down for a 1993 tribute album by various artists called If I Were A Carpenter (clever).

Sports Year 1883

Reilly, left, stood 6’3″

A year of firsts: the first luge competition is staged in Davos, Switzerland; the first professional side, Blackburn Olympic, wins the FA Cup; the first championship ice hockey tournament is held (McGill University of Montreal wins it); and the inaugural Home Nations rugby championship is staged and won by England.

***

In the National League, the Chicago White Stockings score 18 runs versus the Detroit Wolverines in one inning on September 6. That record still stands today.

Also in September, Long John Reilly of the Cincinnati Red Stockings has quite a week, twice hitting for the cycle and in a third game hitting two inside-the-park home runs.

President Ulysses S. Grant is one of 15,000 fans in attendance for the inaugural National League game of the New York Gothams. MH is not sure if this is the first time a president attends a Major League Baseball game but it may be.

****

William Renshaw against defeats twin brother Ernest in the Wimbledon singles final, and again in five sets. Excruciating.