by John Walters
June Swoon (Dating Back To New Year’s)
It’s July 1st. Thus endest the worst month the stock market has experienced since 1970. That’s 52 years. And the past six months have been horrible. It’s funny (and scary) how the market seemed to peak right at New Year’s before beginning its inexorable decline. But things still seemed sane until late March. Oh, a dip here and there, but nothing too crazy. Then April happened. And May. And, finally, with a shudder, June. A look at a few major companies’ declines over the year’s first half:
Company January 1st June 1st July 1st
AAPL $183 $151 $136
TSLA $1,118 $775 $673
DIS $158 $110 $95
And on and on and on. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. China’s shutdown. Inflation (or, if you’re cool, “stagflation”), primarily due to the invasion of Ukraine. Folks, it cannot get much worse. If you were caught blindsided, well, my condolences. No advice here, other than to say the good news is that there are plenty of jobs available. Almost any place I visit lately I hear that they are “under-staffed” and just last night a 22-year employee of Basha’s told me “nobody wants to work any more.” That’s only half-right. The correct statement is “Nobody wants to work at that salary.” Oh, an undocumented/illegal immigrant might, but that’s about it.
What goes up must come down. And, almost always (thanks, Lehman Brothers), what comes down and eventually goes back up. Stay the course. Courage. Or, as William Wallace once exhorted his men, “Hoooooold!”
Effective in 2024, UCLA and USC will be leaving the Pac-12, America’s glamour conference, for the Big Ten. Why? Because FOOTBALL IS KING and the schools’ leadership did not want to be left behind by what they see transpiring with the SEC and Big Ten TV contracts. So now you’ll see UCLA’s baseball and swim teams venturing to Madison or College Park for games/meets simply to sate KING FOOTBALL? I guess so.
It’s sad and wrong and what’s no better is the muted response from national college football media. Hey, will this affect my boondoggle trip to Scottsdale in May for Pac-12 meetings? No? Okay. From the little I’ve seen written thus far, the overall reaction is a sanguine tone. Oh, this is happening, it’s inevitable, just role with it. Thanks, Maggie Haberman.
But we digress. College football is healthiest as a regional and parochial sport. That’s part of its fabric, its culture, its identity. But the suits at ESPN and Fox simply do not care. They believe that they can make any alteration they please and the FOOTBALL IS KING is so robust that it can survive it. It reminds me of when U2 released Pop and Bono and the gang had a rude awakening. So shattered were they by the reaction that they came out the next time with arguably their best album, All That You Can’t Leave Behind. The boys from Dublin got back, got back, got back to where they once belonged. College football will experience that day of reckoning soon. Even if national college football writers are, to this moment, slow to decry the apostasy of the game’s guardians.
Maybe when they stage the UCLA-USC game at Met-Life Stadium in 2026 people will finally realize…
It’s The Hard That Makes It Great
Happy 30th birthday to A League Of Their Own, which was released on July 1st, 1992. At the time Madonna was arguably the world’s biggest pop phenomenon (when MTV and such titles still mattered) and this film was seen as another effort (see: Dick Tracy) to turn her into a bonafide movie star. Instead, it proved that A) Madonna would not be but that B) Tom Hanks would be. You’ve got to remember, in 1992, Tom Hanks was not yet Tom Hanks. Sure, he’d had major hits such as Splash and Big, but he was also two years removed from A Bonfire of the Vanities (a career-killer of a film for almost everyone involved) and had yet to bounce back. His future was still unwritten.
The film was promoted as a Madonna vehicle, or as Madonna-and-Rosie O’Donnell are the new Crosby and Hope, Martin and Lewis. Fortunately, director Penny Marshall understood that she had a dynamite script and a couple of true pros in Hanks and Geena Davis. All credit to Lowell Ganz, whose screenplay crackles. From the lines you remember—”There’s no crying in baseball” and “It’s the hard that makes it great”— to the ones you maybe forgot (“Ever been married?” “Twice.” “Any children?” “One of them was.”).
Even better, the film eschews the Hollywood ending. I didn’t enter the theater that day expecting to like this film. Instead, I loved it. And came away with a whole new appreciation for Hanks, who—watch it again— performs as if his entire future depends on it. Which it does. He really is Jimmy Dugan, which is perhaps why he embraced the character so fully. Up next? In quick succession, Forrest Gump, Philadelphia (vomit, but okay), and Saving Private Ryan. I don’t know if all of those triumphs happen without this movie… the one he truly deserved a Best Actor for.
postscript: We’re going on a little trip, and will be radio silent for at least a week. It’s really not the best time for us to be traveling, with no job and a massive gut punch to the savings, but as Professor Keating once advised his students, Gather ye rosebuds while ye may. And so it’s rosebud-gathering season. We’ll be back. We think. Happy 4th. And before we go, please carry this wisdom from George Carlin with you….
The S&P is up 20% from where it was two years ago, 56% from five years ago. There are many things to worry about right now, but the stock market is low on the list. Hang in there.