The Rundown

An orchestra gathers in a town square to perform in a protest.

The Lviv Symphony Orchestra and Mikola Lisenko Music Academy have been holding open air concerts in the center of Lviv to protest the Russian attacks. Kahlil Gibran wrote that music is the language of the spirit, and as the people of Ukraine are proving every day, their spirit is strong. (Photo courtesy of The Atlantic). 

This is not the time to brand Vladimir Putin an 'evil madman' | Russia-Ukraine war | Al Jazeera

The theater of war was drowned out by Vladimir Putin and his old Soviet cronies, who amped up the rhetoric this week. As if death and destruction were not enough, why not double down with the kind of provocative talk that will take things from worse to catastrophic?

Putin feels as if he was screwed over by a regime in Ukraine that didn’t just want the keys to its own car, it wanted to drive it too. For all his tough talk, Vlad’s war isn’t exactly going according to plan thus far because wars never go according to plan. So why not harp on his old nemesis to the west . . . Us. Because when a bully isn’t getting his way, create a diversion by bemoaning the failures of his predecessors. And push the nuclear chatter to the center of the table in a gambit that nobody wants to be all in on.

I’m beyond sick and tired of this asshole.

New Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson will get away with this

The odyssey that is former Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson’s football life let him off the hook this week when the Cleveland Browns made him the highest paid quarterback in the game. Watson had spurned the Browns in trade talks only days earlier and it seemed nothing was going to change his mind. Until $230 million fully guaranteed somethings did.

Watson was benched for the entirety of the 2021 season after twenty-two women filed civil suits accusing him of lewd and coercive sexual behavior. And none of that mattered once a Texas grand jury decided that no criminal charges would be brought against him, because that’s when the feeding frenzy for his services really got going. No less than six teams were in the race, never minding this sordid mess because big league sports always has room at the table for another bad act, so long as he can still produce at a high level.

Not to be outdone, the Miami Dolphins made Tyreek Hill the highest paid wide receiver in the game on Wednesday after acquiring him in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs. So now my club has a high profile bad guy with a record of domestic abuse, but so what? We’re contenders!

The powers that be at the league office know we ain’t buying their tired old company line about how the league is one big, happy family and about how much they value women. But it doesn’t matter, because they have pockets that are deeper than the Mariana Trench and a legal team large enough to have its own zip code.

As a sports fan these days, you best wear shades.

'Halloween Kills' review: old school slasher sequel makes a bloody mess

I used to believe Godfather 3 was the most egregious shit ever taken on a movie franchise, and then they issued the Coda and I made peace with it, for the most part. And while I ain’t ever gonna compare Michael Corleone with Michael Myers, the latter has had an impressive run in his own right. Which is why the people responsible for Halloween Kills now own the award for most objectionably egregious sequel in the history of ever. The film is an abject disaster, and if you didn’t know any better, you’d swear the writers had intended for this to be a spoof of the original. Embarrassing.

Madeleine Albright, first female US secretary of state, dies - CNNPolitics

Madeleine Albright, who became the first female secretary of state under President Bill Clinton, lost her battle with cancer on Wednesday.

Ms. Albright was the daughter of Czech refugees who were forced into exile after the Nazi occupation of her country in 1938. They fled to Britain a year later, having no idea of the horrors to come. They survived the German Blitz before moving to the outskirts of London until the end of the war. Madeleine was schooled in Switzerland for a brief period where she learned to speak French, but her family’s return to their home was short lived when the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia took control in 1948. As a press attaché who opposed communism, her father sent them to America.

From a young age, Albright was a lesson in what Ellis Island means: She believed in the principles of democracy while never taking for granted the freedoms it offers. She was witness to how despots rise to power with manipulative language whose power lies in the fear they can spread.

Madeleine Albright was 84.

First Look: D Light Café & Bakery Opens In Adams Morgan | DCist

There are so many stories of people from around the world contributing to the people of Ukraine: from grass roots fundraisers to booking rooms with no intention of filling them. And here’s one more, because when I get tired of the way the world so oftentimes works against itself, these stories bring me back to a better place.

Anastasiia and Vira Derun moved to this country from Ukraine with the same dreams as so many who have come before them. To make their own special footprint in a country of immigrants. In October of last year they realized their dream with the opening of D Light Café just outside the nation’s capitol. And less than two months later it was up in smoke, literally, when a fire shut its doors. But thanks to a GoFundMe campaign the sisters were able to re-open last month. Right before the Russian invasion changed everything, yet again.

They have spent many a sleepless night since the war began, staying in touch with their family back home as best they can. “We don’t have the power to help them. We cannot visit. They cannot come here. I’m literally watching the news every five minutes just to keep myself updated. What’s going on? Where’s the army moved to? It’s this situation where we look at unknown things and we just pray. That’s the only thing we can do right now.” Anastasiia says.

They started taking donations and well, it’s proven to be their sunshine in the middle of this raging storm. To date they’ve raised more than $7,000. Every morning you can find people lining up outside the small bakery in Adams Morgan to buy pastries and to make donations and in many instances, both.

“We have a lot of Russian people coming in and supporting us, which is so wonderful because we understand that this is not between people—it’s between political individuals” she says. “I want everyone to understand that Ukraine is a country. It’s not part of Russia or part of Europe. We are a nation who has our own culture, our own values.”

I gotta tell you, when I went digging for a feel good story this week I had no doubt I would find plenty of them. Because I always do, because they are always there. This week it was people singing songs in the square and booking vacations they will never take and sending letters and money and clothes across the oceans to complete strangers. Because in the middle of the worst of times, love always finds its way. And so when I learned about these two sisters, I knew I had my story.

It was a piece of cake.




62 thoughts on “The Rundown

  1. Reading about the Lviv Symphony Orchestra and Mikola Lisenko Music Academy brought to mind the Ukrainian cellist who played a somber tune amid the rubble of Kharkiv. Just seeing and hearing him play amid the destruction just got to me. Another solid rundown, Marco!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another beautiful post, Pilgrim. The NFL seems to believe that if you can rough up women, you will make a better player. Boycott, I say. Speaking of boycott, I wish we had punched Putin in the nose when he started building up his troops on the border. A couple of sanctions might have stopped this bloodshed. Sad the world has to sit and shudder when Putin talks nukes and poison gas. Let’s start a go fund me account for the purpose of slipping a Mickey Finn into his Moskow Mule. All the great stories of folks helping folks are amazing. Be it music, Air B&B reservations, or pastries, people do care. I wish we would send the tanks and planes being requested. Oh, but wait (Shiver, shiver), there’s that bully threat again. Great Post, Marc

    Liked by 1 person

    • The problem with boycotting is that a whole lot of people would have nothing to do if not for football. Hell, if you told me I could never watch another game, okay. But it doesn’t work that way with the overwhelming majority as we know. But you’re right. Something drastic needs to be done or this shit will go on and on and on.

      As for Putin, seriously, fuck this guy already. All this puffy chested machismo bullshit and his whining about how we killed the Soviet Union. Shit, I’m done with it. Not to mention he’s a murderous sonofabitch.

      People do good every day. There are so many stories out there that prove it.

      Gracias Boss

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Isn’t it ironic the league favors Deshawn over Colin? And quite shameful. Still don’t get that one.

    BTW, ‘Madam Secretary’ had a strong connection to Denver and spent her teen years in the Mile High City (her dad was a professor at the University of Denver and the building housing the International Studies program bears her father’s name-Josef Korbel (btw, I can’t help but toot my Colorado horn for a connection with another Secretary of State, Condi Rice who attended and received her PhD at the University of Denver’s school of International Studies). Some friends and I ran into her one summer day enjoying more than a few margaritas and dinner with a granddaughter who she often visited in town. She had a larger than life presence despite only being 4’10.” She will be missed not only by her family who loved their adopted home in Colorado but by the world that benefitted from her outstanding leadership. Think what you will about Bubba-he made the right decision appointing Madeleine K. Albright as the first female secretary of state.

    Bless sisters Anastasiia and Vira Derun for doing their part. Well done, ladies!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, no kidding! The moral of the story here is, don’t have morals!

      I was a Bubba fan back in the day. Scourge of my Republican pals, since I was one at the time. But I thought he was effective and you’re right, he nailed this appointment. And dang! I did not mention that even though I read it when I was reading of her passing. I dropped the ball on that one, but thank you for picking it up for me.

      Immigrants. It’s who we are. Too many people forget.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Its interesting, I just checked and Madeline Allbright had a Moon Pluto conjunction which speaks of the devastation her family came out of.and may speak of a susceptibility to cancer. .. so interested to learn more about her as I am not very educated at all on American politics.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ms. Albright was prescient as far as Putin is concerned. She knew his manipulations had designs in them, and that eventually he would have to be dealt with on the world stage.

      Of course, unlike most of our politicians, she didn’t utilize rhetoric to say what she thought so few paid attention. Sad isn’t it?


  5. When an important light is dimmed we are all diminished by it. But when we look up we see the good people who are trying to help, trying to make a brighter day in a world gone mad. That is what gives me hope.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am right there with you, Pam. Those lights dim in this life but their permanence is evidenced by the stars in the sky. Inspiring us to think better and to do better and to want better.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. B,

    Forgive my tardiness 😉
    Music is the language of love, spirit and strength, I believe. Ukraine is not even close to playing the victim here.

    While I am sick of tired of the asshole that it Putin, I really would like to see an end to his raison d’être. Karma and all that refrains me from wishing him dead officially but I am sure that HIS karma shall be taking care of him. Sooner than later.

    Well, now that Watson has come out and publicly declared himself innocent, all is right. Right? I’m so sure Hill will do the same, of course. After all, winning is what it’s about. The important thing is how they play the game coz nothing else matters. Fuck. What a generation the NFL and any other sports league that condones, nay rewards these thugs is creating. What next?

    The least they could do is stop their bullshit lying and rubbing it in the faces of the victims how worthless their lives are.

    I can assume that that there will be no coercing, I mean, suggesting, this be a future movie night pic 😉

    In reading various comments about Ms Albright, I am wont to read up on her and rid myself of my ignorance, I knew her name, of course, and her title but I never really read up about her politics. I think it might make for interesting reading – and there will no doubt be more writings about her to come.

    When I hear of stories like the sisters Derun, I feel so much hope. To have your dream burn down two months after obtaining it? And still to do what needs to be done to move forward is inspiration and I think a testament of what the Ukrainian spirit is all about. Of course, they would do what they could for their homeland! And I love their attitude. It’s not about the Russians. It’s about their lead politico.

    You chose very well for a feel-good story. As per, ya done good! More than good!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Q

      No apologies necessary bebe.

      And no, Ukraine ain’t laying down for nobody, especially not a bully like Putin. They will continue the fight.

      Putin has been on a collision course with this scenario since he rose to prominence decades ago. And all the things he’s done since, horrible things, they were ignored. That’s how history repeats itself.

      Winning sure. Getting paid definitely. Being rewarded for bad behavior is the way big league sports works. If you can produce at the highest level, you’ll get your chance(s) like a second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth . . . .

      It was horrible.

      Albright spoke on Putin the way a lot of people- including Trump- could learn from. She most certainly didn’t fawn over him the way some such as Trump have. She knew him for the threat he would become.

      The sisters bring it all into perspective. Immigrants, like the rest of us. Whereas so many of those who believe they OWN this place, the sisters understand that we only own our destiny. The land is for everyone, everyone with a dream and work boots.

      Like I said, piece of cake 😉


      Liked by 1 person

  7. I struggle with the Watson thing. With 22 women coming forward, there is some serious smoke there, but two separate grand juries have no decided not to indict him. That has to mean something. What is amazing is that this guy got the most guaranteed money any NFL player has ever received after coming out of this. I’ve got to think people in the NFL offices are cursing the Browns these days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The problem of course, as you well know, is that the burden of proof being so much higher in a criminal case. Something happened, and it happened at least a couple dozen times, because remember, there were a lot of women who didn’t want to be a part any part of a lawsuit because it requires turning your world upside down, the whole process.

      Hill is a bad guy and this we know the specifics of. It’s one of those things to which we must somehow detach from the whole if we want to root on our teams.

      Liked by 1 person

      • If this makes any sense at all … to me, the sheer number of women involved in the Watson thing makes it both more likely and less likely that something actually happened. I mean … he can’t be that stupid, can he? Well, maybe so, given that he has lived the life of a star who can do no wrong for years and years. He probably thought he was bulletproof.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. So much here, as usual. Putin…what can I say…yes…death and destruction just isn’t enough, and those noble musicians remind me of those aboard the Titanic that played until the waves washed them away.

    The news just chills me to the bone.

    As for Ms Albright making history as the first woman Secretary of State, 63 men before her. You say…84 isn’t too bad a run before exiting into the ether, but then think we could use her now, a calm, intelligent voice to be heard over the cacoPHONY of the creeps in the Senate, tossing Liz Chaney a hand. I never thought I’d be a Liz fan, but I am, since she stands up as an American as opposed to a Republican hypocrite to whack off her peers. OOPS…DID I SAY THAT?

    Oh don’t get me started. Madelaine I’m sure is doing well wherever she is. A hunch. RIP.

    Liked by 2 people

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