Steve Bannon Arrested

Besides Bannon, the other three men arrested were the founder of “We Build The Wall,” Brian Kolfage, 38, a triple amputee U.S. Air Force veteran who is a graduate of the University of Arizona; Andrew Badolato, 56, a financier from Florida; and Timothy Shea, 49, from Castle Rock, Colo.

Like you, my faith in America has been shaken this morning. If you can’t trust Steve Bannon….

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

(We all knew this detente would be short-lived)

Obama and Trumpism

We’ve held fast to our pledge not to watch any moment of either convention, and not because they’re without all of those lovely people who ordinarily crowd the arenas. We did, however, read parts of 44th president Barack Obama’s speech on Tuesday night and these words resonated:

This administration has shown it will tear our democracy down if that’s what it takes to win.

We already know that Donald Trump has a “heads you lose, tails I win” rationale to the upcoming election. If he gets more votes (in the Electoral College), he gets four more years. If he gets fewer votes, the election was rigged.

We already know that the cult of those who follow him has no problem with this. Go ahead. Go ask a Trump supporter you know. Ask them if they agree with the president that if Joe Biden wins the election that it was rigged. Ask them if they believe the election can be fair (Do you think they’d feel that way if it was Biden trailing by 10 points in the polls?).

The people I know who want Trump to remain in power put democracy and the Constitution a distant second (or not at all) to the Republican party remaining in power. Even if they don’t come out and say it, they mean it. They were all for democracy until there was a chance (thanks, Obama) that it meant the white way of life would no longer be the prevailing order. Then they had second thoughts about democracy.

Maybe Joe Biden will win. And maybe the transition from 45 to 46 will be relatively smooth (I doubt it). But Trumpism isn’t going away. Those white folks who resent their America being taken from them will do everything, including defacing every American ideal, to remain in power.

Trump may go. Trumpism, alas, isn’t going anywhere.

Last week I spoke to an old friend who lives in California but was born in Canada. She told me that if Trump wins, she’s moving back to Calgary. Not even the least bit ambivalent about that. Then she said something that stuck with me. “Who would vote for someone who gets compared to Hitler as often as Trump does?” she asked. “Their response is always, ‘He’s nowhere near as bad as Hitler.’ It’s not, ‘He’s nothing like Hitler.'”

She’s right.

Put Him In The Most Aptly Named Club

This story on George Best by Pablo Maurer in The Athletic is a treat (click on the link if for no other reason than to watch Best’s unbelievable goal). The late ’70s and early ’80s North American Soccer League probably merits its own book (if someone hasn’t already written one). The world’s greatest washed-up soccer legends—Pele, Best, Giorgio Chinaglia, Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff—all made the pilgrimage to the States for big bucks, sexy models and probably plenty of coke and more. What a time to have been alive…and kicking!

Flag Capitals? Fog Capitals?

Poor, dumb Reds announcer Thom Brennaman. What was he thinking here? Of course POTUS would just claim either A) this is locker room talk or B) he said “flag” and you just didn’t hear it correctly. Either way, here we are as a country: a man who is an announcer for a baseball team that hasn’t mattered in nearly 30 years is going to lose his job over saying the word “fag” but the guy who’s president said “grab them by the pussy” (in a similar circumstance) and keeps on going.

Mosquito Coast

It sounds like something so dumb that only Florida could think of it, but it’s actually not as dumb as it sounds (we hope): In the next two years scientists will release 750 million mosquitoes in the Florida Keys.

But they’re not regular mosquitoes. They’re quite literally mutants (scientists have given them the cuddly name of OX5034, which also happens to be the shipping number for my next Amazon delivery), and when they breed with regular bite-my-ankles-you-bastards mosquitoes, they’re designed such that female offspring will die. Now if only scientists could genetically produce a similar species of OX5034 Trumps.

Chris, Rock

As you know, we’ve become huge fans of Chris Fowler‘s Instagram page the past couple years (brains, wealth, a love of the outdoors, a passion for college football and rugged good looks… it’s hard to believe there’s two of us). Here he is having just summited one of the 14,000-foot peaks in his adopted home state (from his tween years) of Colorado.

Chris turns 58 on Sunday. Do you know what Verne Lundquist looked like when he was 58? I mean…

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

The Hunched Shoulders Of Notre Dame

A sharp spike in positive coronavirus tests, incited by an off-campus party, has led Notre Dame to suspend in-person classes for at least two weeks. The Irish brought students back on August 3rd (borrowing from Creighton’s playbook) so that they’d be able to send everyone home by Thanksgiving and call it a semester. That plan’s still a go, but being confined to dorm rooms for two weeks in South Bend in August? No bueno.

As one of my old Dillon friends proffered, “Would not want to be in quarantine with ______ during ‘The Night of the Gas’ whether or not I had mask, hazmat suit, etc. Cabbage-stuffed chimichanga in South Dining Hall is a key contributor.”

So two weeks of taking classes in your dorm room or running around the lakes to keep from going insane. And is there even gonna be football?

You may recall that Fr. John Jenkins was resolute back in the spring that Nore Dame would be able to safely reconvene students on campus and hold in-person classes this semester.

To be fair, Jenkins said that “we think we can achieve it” and even prefaced that with “If there’s a dramatic outbreak of the corona again, then we’ll have to adapt and change.” Which is what the school is doing.

Blame Jenkins if you like for, like so many, having the audacity to think that human will is enough to simply overcome the virus. Credit him for, unlike others, having the wisdom to adopt to real consequences. But don’t forget: Notre Dame and other schools already have the tuition (and room and board) checks. Is that a cynical view? Maybe, but it’s also a fact.

CFL Ya Later

“The preferred franchise of electrical engineering majors”

Maybe it hasn’t made much news south of the border, but the Canadian Football League canceled its 2020 season on Monday. One reason the CFL, which has nine teams, cited for not playing this fall is that it can’t be assured of receiving government assistance (we thought everyone in Canada received government assistance).

So there’s yet another boot to drop in Football v. Pandemic.

Also, it didn’t get much attention here, but did you know that the Edmonton Eskimos are now the Edmonton Football Team? We didn’t know that, either.

Til 2021, Grey Cup.

Isn’t The Answer Obvious?

CNN’s website made a big deal of promoting this contretemps between Anderson Cooper and Michael Lindell, the creator of MyPillow. At issue was Lindell promoting a supplement that he claims is effective in fighting Covid-19 while not being upfront about the fact that he’s on the company’s board of directors (which got the company into the room with POTUS because Lindell is a big contributor).

But we had to laugh when Cooper asked, “How do you sleep at night?”

The dude created MyPillow. It’s kind of obvious how he sleeps, no?

Food Stamps Vs. Farm Subsidies

So I was having an argument with a friend the other day and I decided to do the research myself. To me, both of these programs are signs of an unhealthy economy.

  1. In 2019, the federal government spent $22 billion on farm subsidies. That is, your tax dollars were given to farmers (also known as massive land owners) in exchange that they not farm. It’s good non-work if you can get. it.
  2. Meanwhile, that same year, a whopping $60 billion was spent on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (aw, SNAP!), also known as food stamps. Approximately 38 million Americans, or more than one in 10, use food stamps.

So what’s the broader lesson here? I’m not sure other than to say that both programs are welfare. If you’re against the latter (or former), you should be against the former (or latter). Or maybe you just think it is (or isn’t) the government’s job to be a charity organization? Or to put guardrails on capitalism.*

*It’s funny how often capitalism has to be put back on track by artificial means, like when your AFX car runs out of its slot and flies into the wall.

This from an article in The Kansas City Star, which I imagine would be a farmer-friendly publication:

Overall spending on food stamps is much higher than farm subsidies. But on a per-person basis, farmers come out ahead.

Now maybe I have the math on this wrong, but if you did not pay the farmers to not farm, then the price of their goods would be lower, so that it would not cost as much for food, so that your food stamps would go further. So, from a taxpayer vantage point, they’re not paying the farmers and they could spend less on the welfare queens people who use food stamps.

Ah, but you know the one group that no one ever lobbies for in Washington? Taxpayers.

Roe V. Wade

It was the bottom of the 9th inning at Yankee Stadium last night as the Bombers were about to lose their first home game of the season after 10 straight wins (you can’t play Boston every night). The Rays, leading 6-3, had reliever Chaz Roe on the mound when ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian noticed that if one Yankee got on base, then Tyler Wade would be coming to bat. “If the Yankees can get a runner on base,” said Kurkjian, who probably hadn’t thought his next words through very thoroughly, “we’ll get Roe versus Wade.”

You could hear Jimmy Pitaro screaming from here. Whoever ESPN’s play-by-play man was (Jon Sciambi), he wisely kept silent. After Miguel Andujar did get on base, bringing Wade up to bat, third man in the booth Eduardo Perez noted, “There’s your Roe versus Wade matchup.” Kurkjian did not acknowledge it. By then a producer had probably asked him, “And what’s your next statement going to be? Are you going to note that we’re late-term in this game?”

If Your Election Lasts More Than Four Hours…

The 2020 presidential election is still 80 days away but the president is already claiming that his opponent got an unfair head start, or that he didn’t hear “Ready, Set, Go” or whatever dipsh*t kids on the playground do when they know they’re about to lose a race.

Speaking to cult members in Oshkosh, Wis., on Monday, President Trump said, “The only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.” Those are the kind of statements that bring a $50,000 fine to a coach in the NBA or NFL. But when you’re Orange-ina, it’s okay.

Here’s a Trump tweet: “Must know Election results on the night of the Election, not days, months, or even years later!” Unless, of course, those results show that Joe Biden is ahead, in which case we revert to the previous paragraph’s dictum.

Because of the coronavirus, the source of which Trump is not responsible for but the insane levels of calamity (1,358 dead here just yesterday; good job, good effort, Donald) he is totally responsible for, more Americans than ever will likely be voting by mail this fall. And that means it will be very irresponsible for any media (networks, newspapers) to declare a winner on the night of November 3rd. It’ll just be too early.

And that doesn’t mean we’re looking at a hanging chad scenario. It just means you’ve got to give the election officials time to count the ballots. Have you ever tried opening 10 million envelopes in one night?

But what did the president have to say about that in May? “There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mailboxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed….

Of course, the president himself is not voting in person. But he refers to that as “absentee balloting,” as opposed to mail-in voting. Quick translation: If you vote for Trump, that’s an absentee ballot; if you vote Biden, that’s a mail-in ballot.”

(Thank you, David Cross, for saying it for us)

This piece in this morning’s New York Times reports that President Trump has already publicly questioned the integrity of our voting process 91 times this year (or 91 more instances of something other than hospital visits to sick Covid patients who are not his brother). If only he had a job where he were in a position to do something about that. Oh, well. How many times would Barack Obama have had to have done that back in 2012 for Bill O’Reilly to have stopped sexually harassing co-workers long enough to go batshit crazy on-air that the President of the United States had impugned the integrity of our electoral process? I’m placing the over/under at “1.”

Perhaps his most outright transparent statement in all of this came earlier this week with Fox Business drone Maria Bartiromo, when he told her why he was against further funding the U.S. Post Office: “Now they need that money in order to have the post office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots …. But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped to have it.”

Just win, baby. That’s how Trump who, like Al Davis, is a reptile born and raised in the boroughs of New York City, thinks.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

Yeah, we’re gonna try to go convention-free the next two weeks. All the battle lines have been drawn and no one’s about to change anyone’s mind. Unless the St. Louis couple comes out on stage brandishing their firearms at the RNC (and who are we to wager against that?) next week, we’re going to try and block out the noise.

by John Walters

Fernando!

It was 39 years ago that a 20 year-old rookie in southern California took baseball’s breath away. Now, in the summer of 2020, a little down the coast from Los Angeles, a 21 year-old 2nd-year player is doing the same.

Dodger pitcher Fernando Valenzuela, meet Padres slugger Fernando Tatis, Jr. The 6’3″ shortstop from the D.R. banged out a 3-run homer and his first career grand slam (on a 3-0 count with the Friars up 10-3 in the 8th) in successive innings last night. His 11 home runs lead all of baseball.

USPS BS*

*The judges will also accept “From Claven To Craven”

Not everyone who works at the post office is Newman. Or Cliff Claven.

Neither rain, nor snow nor the Trump dynasty will impede the U.S. Postal Service from doing its job. A job whose very existence was put into place in the U.S. Constitution (ah, that old and musty document that we all once adhered to as opposed to just worshipping the 2nd Amendment).

It’s called “flooding the zone” and it’s what Trump does best. Throw so much misinformation and lies out there that it becomes too exhausting to sift through what’s true-or-false and so your average “I Love The Poorly Educated” American sates him- or herself with a catchphrase: e.g., “Lock Her Up.” (never mind that the man who coined it belongs in prison, but whatevs).

(The most egregious example of mail fraud we’ve seen)

So now the president is flooding the zone against the postal service. You know what is not a sign of a healthy democracy? When the people in charge would rather not have people vote.

Arash Resigns

Our friend Arash Markazi resigned from the Los Angeles Times over the weekend, which is the least disruptive outcome to this somewhat sordid affair. Ben Koo has an insightful analysis on all of it in Awful Announcing.

We spoke to Arash a week ago and will be there to support him wherever he lands next. He’s a righteous dude and that job was never the right fit for him, anyway. One thing we did tell him is how proud of him we are regarding his weight loss. That’s not easy to do at all.

Most of us get knocked down in life, whether it is of our own devices or not (often a combo of both). The trick is in always getting back up, no?

From Russia With Puppy Love

Scientists in Siberia have unearthed a 14,000-year old puppy, found almost perfectly preserved in Russia (above, NOT the puppy). And what they’ve learned is that inside the puppy’s stomach is a not fully digested piece of wooly rhino (above), which went extinct about 14,000 years ago. So, not only are dogs being blamed for eating our homework, but also for causing entire species to go extinct.

The puppy, scientists believe, must have died shortly thereafter. It was probably rhino-intolerant (and here I said I wasn’t going to mention the Democratic National Convention; shame on me).

He’s Not Here*

*The judges will tell you this is one of our more inspired headlines, but you have to be familiar with UNC-Chapel Hill to get it.

The first chink in the armor Football F*ck Your Feelings (i.e., the ACC, Big 12 and SEC) just happened in Chapel Hill. The University of North Carolina, a member of the ACC, just announced that it is abandoning in-person instruction for undergrads this semester after at least 177 students tested positive for the coronavirus.

Related: the Norwegian band A-Ha once wrote that “It’s no better to be safe than sorry” but they were talking about romance, not pandemics.

Anyway, stay tuned to see how UNC justifies having a football program this autumn when it just said that it ain’t safe for undergrads to congregate in class rooms (How many times have we heard that the football field is a classroom of sorts?). And once UNC falls, who’s next? We may just have an autumn of Clemson and Alabama playing one another 12 times, and let’s face it, there are worse things.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

It’s Medium Happy’s eighth birthday today (and to celebrate, we will not be raising your annual subscription rate). We won’t have time tomorrow morning to lay down a track, so this is your serving for Sunday-Monday.

Herd Apathy

According to Media Happy’s indefatigable research crew, there have been five aviation disasters on the planet since 9/11 that have claimed at least 225 lives. They are:

–American Airlines Flight 587, which crashed shortly after takeoff from JFK in November of 2001 (just two months past 9/11).

Deaths: 265

–Iran Ilyushin II-76, an Iranian flight that was either brought down by pilot error or terrorism (a number of Iranian Guard members were passengers) in February, 2003.

Deaths: 275

–Air France 447, which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris in June of 2009.

–Deaths: 228

–Malaysian Air 270, which disappeared over the Indian Ocean in 2014 and has never been found (Lost is real?).

–Deaths: 239

Why do we mention these four aviation disasters? Because if you add the number of deaths from the four worst aviation disasters of the past 19 years (at least three of which had nothing to do with human malevolence), the total number of deaths is 1,007.

Meanwhile, the U.S.A. has been averaging more coronavirus deaths per day pretty much since the start of the outbreak. That many deaths every day. You take the four deadliest air crashes of the 21st century, place them all on the same day (you think that might arouse cable news producers), and then you do the same thing the next day. And the next. And the next.

For more than five months now. I think at a certain point Americans would stop boarding planes. So how come there are still Americans who refuse to wear masks? Or are still so cavalier (“It is what it is“) about the virus?

Put This On A T-Shirt

In an Op-Ed column for The New York Times where some dopey editor spelled it “Kamelot” as opposed to “Kamalot” (Micah, take note, autocorrect tried to “fix” this three times…I blame half my typos on autocorrect), Maureen Dowd wrote a perfect paragraph. We’d wear this on the front of a T-shirt:

President Trump represents the last primal shriek of retrograde white men afraid to lose their power. He’s a dinosaur who evokes a world of beauty pageants, “suburban housewives,’’ molestation, cheating on your wife when she’s pregnant, paying off porn stars, preferring women to be seen and not heard, dismissing women who challenge you as nasty, angry and crazy.

We can maybe shorten it up so as to just print the first sentence. That’s pretty much enough. If you print it, we’ll wear it. In a borderline red state. I’m not too worried because the Deplorables will be too busy trying to figure out what “retrograde” means to fight me.

The Bubble Suns

The 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings.

The 1972 Miami Dolphins.

The Summer of 2020 Bubble Suns.

Three professional teams that compiled a perfect record. The Phoenix Suns have still not won an NBA championship in more than 50 seasons, but what they just accomplished in two-plus weeks in Orlando may merit a 30-for-30 episode.

Despite being without arguably their second-best player (Kelly Oubre… at worst, their third-best), the Suns ran through Orlando with an 8-0 record.

Behind Devin Booker’s signature 35-point outings, the Suns were the only team to run through the Bubble season without a defeat. And yet, they missed out on the play-in game via a tiebreaker with Memphis. Which almost makes it all the more beautiful.

(Just replace “Phoenix” with “Bubble”)

Another t-shirt I’d wear: 2020 Bubble Suns, with that vintage square Suns logo from the 1970s.

Robert Trump

We’re no longer on Twitter, but we hear that not even 12 hours since the death of Robert Trump, the president’s younger brother, #WrongTrumpDied is trending. And the libtards are being called out for their insensitivity.

So which is it: Are libtards snowflakes cuz they can’t take a little teasing or are they “nasty” because they’re not sensitive enough? Hmm.

(This is not Robert Trump, but Bob Trumpy, a former Cincinnati Bengal tight end who is still going at 75. We’d love to know where this one-time NFL “stadium” was located. Denver? Cincy?)

The president called his younger brother “my best friend.” This has to be crushing to Rudy.

Officials have not determined a cause of death other than to say that Robert did not hang himself in his jail cell.

Best Best Man

More than 18 million people have viewed this Best Man speech, so you may have already seen it. It really is as good as advertised. This guy’s a natural and what makes him so good are two things: 1) his sense of timing and 2) that he doesn’t laugh at his own humor (almost never). Also, I guess we should add: he writes great material.

He sounds Canadian. Not surprised.

AN AAPL A DAY?

by JW (when we do an additional post on the same day, we’ll give it the informal JW)

I remember it well.

It was the summer of 2013, August I believe, when billionaire Carl Icahn came out in defense of Apple stock. Shares of Apple (AAPL) had dipped to below $400 a share that summer after flirting with the $700 ceiling the year before. Steve Jobs had only been dead less than two years, the iPad was, if not a flop, turning out not to be the game-changer the iPod or iPhone had been.

People wondered, and not for the first time, if the Apple empire was beginning to crumble.

And then Icahn (whose own surname sounds as if it could be an Apple product) appeared on CNBC and bullishly defended Apple’s stock. He said he’d be buying up loads of it.

Well, seven summer later Apple’s stock price is hovering at about $450 per share but—hold your water, Susie B., I’m coming to it—that is after the 7-for-1 stock split. In other words, in the past seven years the value of Apple stock has increased seven-fold.

So here we are on August 14th, 2020. Shares of Apple will split 4-for-1 at the end of the month. I guess you may want to ask yourself, Is my portfolio up seven-fold since August of 2013? If it is, good for you. And while I’m not advocating any specific play in the market, it’s just something upon which to ruminate. Where will Apple stock be seven years from now? Where will we be? Will Medium Happy finally achieve a consistent fourth commenter, or is that simply too much to hope for?

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

Great Dame

The undisputed team of the NBA’s Bubble Season has been the Phoenix Suns (8-0) but the MVP has been Portland’s Damian Lillard (he made that shot above, by the way). Lillard put up 42 in the Trail Blazers’ win yesterday, which is only his fourth-best scoring effort in the past eight days.

The Weber State product has had games of 45, 51 and 61 just since August 6th. Portland has advanced to the Western Conference’s play-in game, where they’ll meet the Memphis Grizzlies.

Mail Harried Pass

The Democrats in Congress have proposed a $3.6 million expenditure for mail-in voting for the November election and $25 billion in general for the United States Postal Service as part of the new pandemic relief bill.

You’ll never guess who is opposed to that. President Trump, who sees an efficient mail-in voting process to be the instrument of his ruin. It’s like the defending champion of the Daytona 500 being against the use of gasoline in this year’s race.

Why can’t we all just vote on Facebook? Put Biden on one page and Trump on the other and with your “Like” of either candidate you put your Social Security Number. None of us have enough money any more to worry about someone stealing our identities and robbing us blind so who even cares?

Lasting Middle East Peace? Not Again!

Apparently, there’s peace in the Middle East again. Stop us if you’ve (“Let my people go!”) hear that one before. With the help of the White House (yes, give him a “W” on this one), the United Arab Emirates has agreed to “normalization of diplomatic relations” with Israel and in return, Israel will stop attempting to annex the West Bank. Also, Israel will not have to sit in the middle seat on any Emirates flight of more than four hours in duration… and let’s face it, that was the kicker.

Now if we could only achieve peace in the Midwest.

Fall On Me

There will be no fall sports NCAA championships this year (with the possible exception of FBS football), which was sort of a foregone conclusion. “We cannot, at this point, have fall championships,” said NCAA president Mark Emmert, noting that even if the redneck conferences choose to go ahead and MAGA their way through the pandemic, that it would constitute less than half the schools eligible to participate.

The NCAA controls ALL fall sports championships with one major exception: the most lucrative of them all, the College Football Playoff. I wonder who will be the first Selection Committee member to break ranks and announce that it is irresponsible to hold a playoff and thus he or she will not participate on the committee this year. Hmm. Should we hold our breaths?

Oceans

I’m a sucker for a lead singer with a pocket square. That’s Nate Ruess of The Format, the band he fronted before hitting it big with Fun. The Format had a cult following in Phoenix, where they were from, and in general and this tune, from the album Dog Problems, has always been our favorite. Ruess’ vocal talents and stage presence are irrefutable.

We’re happy for him that he hit it big-time with Fun., but this is our preferred version of Ruess. Not sure how old this performance is, but it’s only been out on YouTube within the last year.

IT’S ALL HAPPENING!

by John Walters

KAMA KAMA KAMA KAMA KAMA CHAMELEON

Is America ready for an unmarried female vice president who’s kinda sexy but not outright Sarah Palin MILF material? I dunno, ask Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

If she ever becomes president, will this period of American history be known as Kamalat?

Splitsville

Last week Apple (AAPL) announced a 4-for-1 stock split. On Tuesday Tesla announced a 5-for-1 stock split. Both divisions will take place at the end of this month. While stock splits should not technically change a company’s value, the lure of a cheaper stock price for a valued company has long woo’ed home-gamers.

What’s funny is that major brokerages are now allowing you to own a piece of a share of an expensive premium stock, such as Amazon ( > $3,000) or Tesla (> $1,500). Now when the Tesla stock splits, it’ll basically be the same thing.

For what it’s worth, Tesla is up 500% in the past year and Apple is up 125%. We imagine both will be up at least 100% in the next year. So why are you dabbling in other stocks, Susie B.?

The Worst Wing*

*The judges will also accept “Setting The Barr Low”

The New York Times (whose stock is up 400% since Trump took office; thanks, Donald) held a reader contest to vote for the worst member of President Trump’s contest. For the second year in a row, the winner was William Barr.

Here’s our ranking of the Top 5 (official and unofficial cabinet members):

  1. William Barr, 2. Mike Pompeo 3. Stephen Miller 4. Peter Navarro 5. Jared

REQUIEM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT

by Bill Hubbell

(Editor’s Note: John G. Hubbell spent 93-plus years on this planet, more than two-thirds of them married to the same lady. We wrote a short tribute to him last week but now that the family’s most prolific writer among the progeny has weighed in [this originally appeared on Facebook], we asked the scribe if we could feature it here. In that verbose way that he has, Bill said, “Sure.”)

Bouncer on duty at the Pearly Gates (he’s one of God’s angels, but, like all bouncers, a little on the haughty side): “Welcome… I’ll remind you of the book of Matthew, chapter 19, verse 24, ‘it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’” (Stands back, ever impressed with his haughtiness.)

John G: “First of all, that’s a completely ridiculous metaphor, one would think Matthew wrote for ‘Newsweek,’ and second of all, I raised nine kids while working from home.”

Choir of Angels: “WELCOME TO THE GOLD CLUB”

Okay, here I go with another FB post about somebody special dying. I almost wrote “sad FB post,” but I caught myself. This one isn’t sad. My sister-in-law dying in July at just 47 years old is gut-wrenchingly sad. Dying at 93 years old with every conceivable box checked? Of course we’re all sad he’s gone, but here’s to all of us getting 93 incredible years. 

My dad passed away last Wednesday night, literally as we were wrapping up a video tribute to the lovely Royana, who’d died unexpectedly on my dad’s birthday three weeks ago. A writer’s embellishment to the very end. 

The man lived a helluva life.

Born in the Bronx, he grew up in Teaneck NJ, Atlanta GA, Teaneck again, and then moved to Minneapolis in 7th grade and never left. After two years at Christ the King grade school, he went to St. Thomas Academy and starred in both football and basketball, helping the Cadets win a state football championship in 1944. He then went to the University of Minnesota and majored in Journalism with a minor in History. While he was at the U, he wrote an article on how golfers should treat their caddies and a magazine called Golfdom loved it and sent him a check for $30. He was hooked.

Dad was a Roving Editor for Reader’s Digest magazine from 1952 until he retired in 1993. It was a title that I never saw at any other publication, but what I think it meant was, ‘get out there and travel to every corner of the globe and find the best stories, money and expense are never an issue, but keep in mind that we’re read by 31 million people around the world each month and just might be the most influential print communications organ ever devised, so if you need to go to Timbuktu for a paragraph, go, but whatever you send us better be good.’

My dad took full advantage.

He traveled the world and found the best stories. He spent a month in Spain to uncover the story of a missing hydrogen bomb. He spent a few weeks in Hawaii with Admiral McCain. He spent months in Thailand researching a book. He interviewed Richard Nixon in the Oval Office. It was a regular occasion to see him on Sunday morning talk shows in New York and Washington. Algeria? Check. The Sahara? Check. Siciily, Naples, Athens, Cannes, Nice, Monaco, Paris etc., etc. Check. Check. Check…. You get the point. He went nearly everywhere.

One place he never got to was the Soviet Union. He was supposed to in 1969, about halfway through the Cold War. The night before John G. was to depart for Russia, he was in DC at a Georgetown bar, having dinner and cocktails with his bosses and some high-ranking politicos. John G was seated next to a retired businessman who introduced himself as Jim Angleton. 

Angleton said to my dad, “I understand you’re heading over to the Soviet Union tomorrow, I’m very jealous. I’d love to meet up with you when you get back and hear all about it.” John G thought it was a little curious, but thought saying ‘no’ would be rude. He woke up the next day to find out that the USSR had pulled his visa and were not going to allow him or the four Americans he was to be with into their country. My dad was a great reporter and quickly found out that Angleton was in fact, the Chief of Counterintelligence for the CIA. 

John G chuckled at the memory and was bummed out he didn’t get to go, but said, “There were eyes and ears everywhere in that restaurant, on both sides. The Kremlin already didn’t like the Digest, and someone in the KGB seeing me chatting with a top CIA official was the end of that trip.” 

Everyone in my family has always read a lot; that probably comes with the territory when your dad is a writer. In the late 70’s my mom, brothers and sisters and I were on a Louis L’Amour kick. He wrote fantastic cowboy stories about the old West. John G. avoided them until one day he grabbed one to read on an airplane to New York. He loved it. A month later Louis L’Amour walked in the front door of our house to have dinner with us. The Reader’s Digest was a big deal back then, and my dad wanted to do a story on him.

Like I said, a helluva life.

My dad loved golf and was a member of the Minneapolis Golf Club for over 60 years. He has a couple of golf stories.
In 1955, he had dinner in the Augusta National clubhouse with Bobby Jones and Gene Sarazen, and the next day he rode the grounds on a cart with Jones and couldn’t help smiling as they pulled up to a lone figure hitting balls from the 13th fairway and the man who invented The Masters introduced himself to a giddy, 25-year-old named Arnold Palmer.

Years later, my dad spent time at both Augusta National and down in Florida with Jack Nicklaus, doing a Digest cover story on Jack the year after he won The Masters as a 46-year-old and it’s only his third best golf story! (For the record he played Augusta 8 times and broke 80 every time.) At that same 1955 Masters, he spent Tuesday night drinking beers in the clubhouse with Cary Middlecoff, who went on to win the tournament. 

On the 14th tee on Sunday, Middlecoff saw my dad in the gallery and yelled his name and John G walked to the box and Middlecoff shook his hand and whispered, “Would you mind grabbing me a coke?” The 1959 PGA Championship was held at MGC and my parents were a “host” family. The player they drove to the course each day was Bob Rosberg and he ended up winning the tournament.

So wait, what’s his best golf story?

That was closer to home, up at Madden’s Resort. Most of my dad’s best friends were hard-core golfers and they used to travel up there each year for the Pine-to-Palm match play tournament. He lost early in the week one year, no big deal, we can stay up later and have a few more drinks and hit the dance floor. A 21-year-old looker named Punkin Hartigan caught his eye the first night and they danced. She was there as the “date” of a different golfer, who made it to the championship and was heading to bed early each night. Night two my infatuated Dad told Punkin he was going to marry her. She laughed and said, “I’m going to have 12 kids, still want to marry me?” 

He did.

They were married for 64 years, had nine kids, 28 grandkids, 6 great grandkids, and never spent a day not loving each other.
During the last few weeks of my dad’s life he spent a lot of time sleeping and when he’d wake up he’d be a little disoriented, but every time he woke his eyes would search the room for my mom, and when they found her, a smile would spread wide across his face. She’d walk over to his bed and take his hand in hers and say, “I’m here Johnny,” and he’d close his eyes again with the smile and 100% contentment across his face.

The jacket of my dad’s second book, ‘P.O.W.’ described him as, “one of the nation’s most respected writers in the field of military affairs.” I’ve read that jacket probably 1,000 times in my life and it gives me goose bumps every time. And it wasn’t just because I knew I could get it in front of my 5th, 6th, and 7th grade teachers in the days just before parent/teacher conferences with the unspoken subtext being, “hey teach, maybe for both our sakes, go ahead and leave out the part about my ‘unruly recess behavior,’ trust me, it won’t go well for either one of us.” It just didn’t seem like a good idea to get in trouble with a man who’d just written a 600-page book that detailed the extreme torture of prisoners of war.

My dad worked his ass off as a writer because he loved it, and because at the end of the day what he wanted more than anything was to sit around a giant kitchen table and listen to his wife and nine children laugh like drunken sailors. We got to do that because John G. was at the wheel.

He loved being a sports fan, but he never took it too seriously.
He loved being a Catholic, but his favorite masses were at a small church he found in St. Louis Park where at the 7 am Sunday mass, everyone in attendance, including the priest, was wearing golf spikes.

He was the smartest, most well read person I’ve ever known. When Trivial Pursuit came out in 1981, he was impossible to play with because he knew the answer to every single question on every single card.

There were very few places on the globe he didn’t get to, and Lake Harriet was his favorite spot on the planet.

His idols were his two older brothers. He married the love of his life and they never, ever took each other for granted. 

Rest easy Dad, and thanks for showing us how.

INDEPENDENTS’ DAY

by John Walters

Those of you who frequent this site, er, frequently, know how I feel about Sports In The Time of Covid-19: don’t play. But Scott Frost’s declaration of independence yesterday got me to thinking.

See, Frost, who bolted from Stanford after his freshman season for a better situation (back in his home state of Nebraska), and then bolted from Central Florida after a few season as coach for a better situation (back in his home state of Nebraska), has demonstrated via his actions: either he really, really loves Nebraska or he really, really loves Scott Frost.

I’d wager it’s both.

The upshot of this is that Frost has said Nebraska is willing to go outside of the Big Ten to play football games this fall, even though the Big Ten just canceled its autumn season. In other words, we’re members of the Big Ten (when it suits us) but sometimes we’re not (when it doesn’t).

Welcome to Notre Dame football, Scott.

And so here’s the part where I get to my proposal: Notre Dame, alone among the major football powers, is not answerable to a conference commissioner (even though it got further into bed with the ACC a week or so earlier). What if Notre Dame offered to host Nebraska this season? And what if a few other renegade schools choose to Husker Du the same as Frost’s Follies?

Let’s play this out: Every major conference (except probably the SEC because if there’s one thing southerners know how to do, it’s to keep fighting a war long after it’s been lost) cancels fall football. But within each conference a renegade program or two goes full-tilt Nebraska. And so these schools, along with Notre Dame, play a round-robin schedule. We may all even discover that we like this way, way better than seeing the same schools play one another in the same region year after year after year.

Wow. Thank you, Covid-19. We may finally get a national football schedule like some of us have been craving forever.