by John Walters
Bears Gone Wild!
At Yosemite National Park in central California, the humans have departed. And now, six weeks or so later, the bears and coyotes and deer have reclaimed the park.
We love it.
No diesel fumes in the air. No noise pollution from thousands of daily tourists. Nature has regained her hold. Like it or not, the planet is a much better place without us. As far as all the other species are concerned, Man is the virus.
Covers Week Continues
If there are three things we love—there are actually more— it’s face-melting covers, all-girl bands, and the unapologetically audacious mid-Seventies rockers Sweet. So while no one will ever top this 1975 performance on Top of the Pops, the Regrettes do their damnedest right here. I wonder if this band has a groupie, for no other reason than that he can begin conversations with, “Regrettes, I’ve had a few…”
You think you have a good handle on America’ most notorious (known) serial killers. Your friend Maureen, an otherwise pleasant and stable wife and mother of four, constantly suggests true-crime books for you to read. And then without warning you happen upon a trailer for a film that was released in 2002 about a real-life mass murderer named William Bonin.
In 1979 and 1980 Bonin, a Vietnam veteran in his early 30s with a van and a creepy mustache (why anyone was ever dumb enough to take him up on an offer for a ride with those markings is beyond me), murdered and often raped and tortured at least 21 young men in southern California. The number may very well be double that.
Bonin, who recruited at least two friends to join him as accomplices, earned the pseudonym “The Freeway Killer” for where he dumped the bodies. He was captured in the summer of 1980 and executed in 1996. I’d never heard of him before Sunday.
Dining Room Curtain Call
On the Upper West Side, just a few blocks north of MH world headquarters, Broadway star Brian Stokes Mitchell serenades pedestrians… on Broadway. From his apartment window. Mitchell, who was diagnosed with Covid-19 but has since recovered, sings “The Impossible Dream” a cappella every night. I don’t think he does a Wednesday matinee, though.
This is why we will always love New York.
Sports Year 1882
At a rules meeting, Walter Camp proposes that a team must advance the ball five yards within a span of three downs. Football begins to draw a distinct margin of difference from rugby.
On March 6 in Sheffield, England, George Littlewood shatters the 6-day walking record, covering 531 miles on a track that measures 13 laps to a mile. The record still stands today.
The American Association, an alternative professional baseball league that places franchises in the “southerly cities” of Baltimore, Cincinnati, Louisville, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and St. Louis, makes its debut. These are all, with one exception, “river cities,” and the implication is looser morals, more blue-collar fans. As such ticket prices are lower, games are played on Sundays and—fan yourself with a pocket square—alcoholic beverages are sold on site.
In Mississippi City, which is an actual place, John L. Sullivan defeats Paddy Ryan in a 9-round bout to become Heavyweight Champion of America. It is the last major bare-knuckled fight.
In the Wimbledon singles final, William Renshaw disposes of a challenger he knows quite well in five sets: his twin brother Ernest Renshaw.
Great Scot! Bob Ferguson wins his third consecutive British Open championship. Only four men have done so through 2019, though Ferguson was the third to accomplish the feat.
On September 6, the first 100-mile bicycle race in the United States takes place. Seven men ride from Worcester, Mass., to Boston, and it takes the winner nearly 12 hours to finish.