by John Walters
We Salute You
Before ‘Murica became your favorite football team, hundreds of thousands of men and women (mostly young… and mostly men) gave their lives fighting for this country. The service, as the mission, was humble.
We watched parts of the Memorial Day concert from the nation’s capital on Sunday evening and we really liked the message from Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Whoever wrote it deserves a promotion.
Memorial Day 100K
Ordinarily, some of the nation’s more renowned 10-K runs take place on Memorial Day weekend (we think of the Bolder Boulder in Colorado, which we’d like to do some day). This year Memorial Day will live in infamy as the U.S.A. turns over the death odometer: there’s a very excellent chance that the 100,000th official death from Covid-19 will be recorded today (likely that number was passed awhile ago but when you have a president who, you know, doesn’t like to test, it’s hard to know what the actual figure is).
Never fear: today President Trump will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Cougher.
As an aside, New York state has nearly 24,000 deaths from Covid-19 since early March, more than twice as many as any other state. You know where Donald Trump has not been this spring? New York. Not at all. He’s visited Arizona and Michigan. But New York? Navaho. Must be cuz he has no history there.
So there was the front page of the Sunday New York Times staring at you, with the names of 1,000 U.S. coronavirus casualties (if you looked closely, there was a dude (or lady marmalade) from New Orleans, aged 44, named “Black N Mild.” We loved that. Can you imagine one of the editors asking, “Can we sub in someone else here? Nope? I mean, there’s only like 99,000 more candidates but you wanna stick with ‘Black N Mild’? Okay.“)
So we counted down the first 100 names on the list from the hyperlink above and here’s was what we found: 66 of those names were of people who were 66 or older, or above retirement age. I don’t know how representative those 100 are of the 1,000 and how representative the 1,000 are of all the victims, but let’s assume they are an accurate representation.
You’ve got two-thirds of the Covid-19 victims being Americans of retirement age which, don’t tell grandma, means that they are citizens who are more or less a drain on the federal budget. Sure, they’ve worked all of their lives and paid taxes, but now they’re collecting Social Security and using Medicare. Which may explain the two reasons why the White House doesn’t worry too much about the virus: 1) If you just let businesses reopen, it’s actually an economic windfall (“Soylent Green is people!”) to be rid of all these old pensioners and 2) most everyone of working age, even if they do contract it, will not die. Unofficially, in our count of 100 dead, we doubt we saw more than five victims who were under the age of 40.
The White House we have is backed by very wealthy CEOs and Wall Streeters who think nothing of downsizing their workforce in order to become more profitable. And our administration fully supports them. So why would anyone be surprised that this White House is fully in favor of downsizing America, of getting rid of those who don’t produce, of culling the herd? What they’re not actually (at least not often) saying out loud but are thinking is, This coronavirus is a godsend! Pandemic? No, panacea.
You’ve got a full day of greatness today. We’ll begin with the best, at 8 p.m., The Best Years Of Our Lives. We now count this among our all-time top five. A sublimely rendered film on a topic that could’ve been maudlin or saccharine but never is. Theresa Wright sparkles and Dana Andrews deserved an Oscar.
Next best, at 11:15 a.m., The Great Escape. Richard Attenborough, Steve McQueen, James Garner, Charles Bronson, etc.
Better than you might think: Where Eagles Dare, from 1968, starring Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton.
And not as great as it might’ve been, The Dirty Dozen, which is sort of a WW2 take, in a way, on The Magnificent Seven. Except that our ruffian protagonists are playing offense, not defense.
Don’t miss The Best Years Of Our Lives if you’ve not yet seen it. And you’ll love The Great Escape if you like guy flicks.
Sports Year 1896
The Crash At Crush
This really happened, and even though it is not strictly a sports event, we’re including it. In the latter half of the 19th century, no accident was as potentially horrific to the average person as a train wreck (maybe a coal-mining disaster, but that only befell coal miners). In fact, in July of this year 50 people died when two trains collided just west of Atlantic City.
So William Crush, a railroad general passenger agent, hit upon the idea to have two trains collide for fun. Just to see what it was like. Who wouldn’t want to see that? Turns out, 40,000 people turned out in a designated spot about 14 miles north of Waco, Texas, on September 15 to watch. This made the spot, designated for the day as “Crush” after our boy William, the second-most populated town in Texas that day. It also illustrated the dire need for Major League Baseball to expand beyond St. Louis.
Anyway, the two empty trains (save for the conductors) raced toward one another. Then the conductors leaped out, with each train going roughly 45 m.p.h. which, if we remember out Doppler Effect correctly, means that they hit at a combined speed of 90 m.p.h.
The boilers on both trains blew up. Like a bomb. Crush hadn’t planned on that. Who knew?!? Three people died from the flying train shrapnel. But the crowd soon got over it and took their places posing for photographs on the demolished trains. That would’ve been all over the ‘gram and Twitter today.
In the spring the first modern Olympic Games are staged in Athens, Greece. 13 nations are represented. The first gold medal, in the triple jump (known as the “hop skip, jump”), is won on April 16 by American James Connolly, thus making him the first Olympic gold medalist in more than 1,500 years.
Connolly, 27, had dropped out of Harvard to take part in the Olympics. He had requested a leave of absence but the school denied it. Fifty-two years later Harvard offered Connolly an honorary doctorate, but he turned it down. Still chapped.
Harry Vardon wins the first of his six British Opens.
The first World Figure Skating Championship, men only, is held in St. Petersburg. Gilbert Fuchs of Germany wins.