We Never See It Coming

Back in the last breaths of the twentieth century, America met its future self.

The idea hit me like a Ball-peen hammer in a Mary Jane roll as I watched a documentary called Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99 on Netflix recently. It’s a three-part saga/doc/horror story about the failed third installment of the Woodstock Music Festival which took place in late summer of 1999.

The monster-piece theater known as Woodstock ’99 was supposed to be the generational equivalent of its predecessor. I guess? The original had served as graduation day for baby boomers intent on leaving behind a decade of tumult with three days of peace, love and a hard pass on hygiene. For one long, glorious weekend in 1969, America’s youth were able to zeitgeist the fuck out of their generational identity, with a residual patina that only grew more iconic with each passing decade. The fraternal order of long-haired freaky people shed their fringe at that musical binge. By the ’80’s, their mainstream was showing as the counter culture that once took on the establishment, became them.

There are times when history should be accorded a fresh coat of paint, and on the face of it, a Woodstock concert to close out the millennium was inspired.  Problem was, it was toting thirty years worth of the devil’s own luck into a three day getaway in upstate New York. The other problem was that it wasn’t held inside the plush rolling hills of a small farm but on fields of concrete that belonged to a former Air Force Base, in 100 degree temps. Oh, and it featured a bottomless cup of rage music. And did I mention how only months earlier, America had entered the Columbine Era, where all life’s problems are solved with threats and violence?

It begged the question: What could go right?

Michael Lang’s attempt to make America groovy again was nothing more than a shell game, selling sunlight in the middle of summer. It was obvious the man had long since traded in his bellbottoms for the bottom line of a wholly corporate venture dressed in great music. He got lucky the first time around, when a peaceful storming of the gates forced him to turn Woodstock into a free concert on the fly. And while he got soaked in the moment, he recouped his money and then some over time as a result of the legendary festival.

By 1994, Lang was ready to cash in on the Woodstock franchise by sticking a price tag on everything. His cash grab got some play in the national newspapers but Woodstock ’94 was by most accounts, a huge success. This gave Lang and his pals all the springboard they would need for a trilogy in Rome, New York.

The attendees of Woodstock ’99, along with the generation it represented, are approaching middle age now. And from the looks of it, they’re carrying the souvenirs of Rome with them. Because there is a huge segment of their population that is every bit as pissed off and disconnected as they were almost a quarter of a century ago. And what’s worse, they’ve got friends of every age, race, color, creed and political affiliation.

They exist inside an age where debate and dialogue have been replaced with vitriolic shouting matches. Consensus has been lost to the cult of personality, where each side has been conned into believing in hashtags and celebrity politicians at the expense of unity. Rights are no longer a dynamic of commonality but rather, a con perpetrated by special interest groups and power hungry individuals. Movements have become branded efforts, devoid of soul and compassion.

We never saw it coming back when Rome was burning in that Air Force parking lot inside the last breaths of the millennium. We never imagined our allegiances could become so fractured, but that’s what happens when a nation stops taking on the challenges to its union collectively and starts taking sides instead.

Fast forward to the present, where the vacuum at the highest reaches of our political system has led to a disgraced ruler who hangs on to his power through fear while his opponents stumble in spite of the huge target he has provided them. He wins his crowd over with raging anthems while enraging his opponents into a lather until the whole damn country is one big mosh pit.

His place in the national consciousness is either portent for another implausible run or the blueprint for some future candidate who also doesn’t give a fig about democracy. Because if we keep barreling down this highway, sooner or later that seat in the high castle is going to be compromised to such a degree that all the Founding Fathers won’t be able to put it back together again.

It’s how Rome fell.

The Rundown

Three large spiral galaxies float in space, surrounded by hundreds of other, more distant galaxies.

Gooooooooooood morning America . . . are you still out there?

It’s been another week in which our sublime inner selves got reduced in saucy front page headlines bordering (okay, totally exceeding) ridiculousness. The country, and really, the whole wide world, seems one big mess of a traveling circus; the likes of which would have had P.T. Barnum hauling our asses into court for infringing on his not so intellectual property.

Good thing we have more treats from the candy bag that is NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. The above capture is from The Atlantic and it features something called the Cartwheel Galaxy. This masterpiece is a more finely complex spiral than anything Tom Brady can dream of cooking up. Alas, it lives more than 500 million light years from our front porch, which makes road tripping this magical place out of the question. But it’s okay, because it brings to mind Mark Twain’s crush on astronomy, in which he confessed he was a slave to its mysteries. He reveled in losing time to the primordial ocean above because it made him feel less confounded about the plight of humankind.

I do believe the stars speak the language of Twain. Bob Marley too.

Final shootout scene from Scarface except its Tony Montana vs 77 Seven Year Olds : r/whowouldwin

Oh God. Him again.

In a scene reminiscent of a really shitty action movie on Amazon Prime, FBI officials executed a search warrant on the Trump compound in Mar-a-Lago this week. They were after records and classified materials the former president took with him when he skipped town last January. Trump wasn’t in attendance for the ten-hour search party, so his mindless minions gathered outside as if it was ten cent wing night at Applebee’s. Because nothing says patriotism like waving flags and wearing merch that was made in China whilst defending a guy who incited a riot in our nation’s capitol . . .

Next up . . . Trump declares he’s running for president of Nicaragua!

Robert Pope: Guinness-fuelled man runs width of Ireland in a day - BBC News

Robert Pope is actually running for something that will make a positive difference. Nuts, right? Yeah, the guy decided he was going to run the width of Ireland-which is a majestically arduous 134 mile trek if you’re talking sneakers. And okay, so plenty of guys have made similar promises in pubs across the land of Joyce and Wilde and Beckett. After which they returned to their healthy pints and forgot all about it.

Not this 44 year old ultramarathoner, who made good on his promise in . . . are you sitting down? Twenty three hours; from Galway to Dublin with the goal of raising money for the World Wildlife Fund putting the wind in his sails. He drank a pint of Guinness before starting and then bent elbows with the locals for another one at the finish line.

That’s my kind of guy.

Dump the NFL Already! - Rampant Discourse

Once upon a time not so long ago, Deshaun Watson insisted he had nothing to hide and that he would never settle with the more than two dozen massage therapists who filed suit alleging he treated them like sex workers. And then he settled with most of them. After which he talked as if he was the one being victimized.

Then retired judge Sue Robinson- who had been brought in by the league to recommend his discipline- decided on a six-game suspension. Which is a slap in the wrist to Watson and a slap in the face to all the women involved in this sordid tale. But hey, she was following precedence after all. Because the NFL has a history of treating bad guys with velvet gloves. And then along came a deviant asshole quarterback and a woebegone franchise that was willing to hand him a quarter of a billion guaranteed dollars anyway . . and now Goodell and his bosses find religion. They’re vowing to make Watson sit out a year and the players are vowing to sue if they try it.

Stay tuned.

Reds vs. Cubs prediction: Odds and pick for 2022 Field of Dreams game in Iowa

The Field of Dreams game is the best idea the MLB has pitched (Pun Alert!) to the fans in a long time. Interleague play was simply an excuse for teams to jack up prices, and the universal DH hasn’t changed a thing. Iowa is different. The games feel important; the kind of important that used to breathe through transistor radios in the spring and summer before culminating in an operatic fall classic that captured the imagination of a rapt nation.

And while I’m no fan of the million and one uniforms most teams peddle on their shop sites, I have to admit I really love the vintage threads. Chicago’s baseball teams probably wouldn’t mind turning the clock back a hundred years, judging by their perfect record in Costner’s backyard. Hopefully the game is back after next year’s hiatus, because I’d love to see a wrong done right before the first pitch with an announcement that proves just how magical that cornfield in Iowa really is.

Put Shoeless Joe in the Hall of Fame

Vinyl Cool Sticker Funny Mickey Mouse Middle Finger Comics - Etsy

Disney+ has announced how it plans to celebrate now that it has surpassed rival Netflix, having clocked in with 221 million streaming customers. Mickey Mouse Inc. is going to be hiking prices come the end of the year (Just in time for Christmas!). The company cites production costs for the increase, and I believe it. But I also don’t care since I’m not a Disney fan. And I have to ask: Does this make me a communist? Or a person with common sense?

Russia bombs nuclear plant in Ukraine, sparks radiation fears - Rediff.com India News

Speaking of communists . . .

Russia is to nuclear reactors what the Kardashian girls are to love and romance. So the news that Russian forces went in hot in their takeover of a nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine should give the world pause. Putin’s idea is to bully/frighten all of his naysayers into submission with thoughts of the ultimate dirty bomb in the offing. I think we’ve given this guy too much leash for too long a period of time. But hey, dealing with bullies on the playground is much easier than dealing with bullies who have a nuclear arsenal at their disposal.

I wonder what The Expendables are up to?

And Imma tuck this week’s episode to sleep with definitive proof of life on other planets.

These other planets do not require a million lifetimes worth of navigation to reach them. They exist on every block of every street of every neighborhood of every town we call home. The stories might require some diligent research on our part, but I assure you, the wonders they provide will make you appreciate the time expended.

When Kaiden Shelton of Pearland, Texas lost control of a pitch to Isaiah Jarvis of Tulsa, Oklahoma, the crowd in Waco, Texas went silent. After Jarvis was able to not only brush it off, but continue playing, you could almost hear the collective sigh of relief that rippled through the stands. Excepting for Kaiden Shelton, who remained stuck on that runaway fastball as he struggled to regain his composure on the mound. When Jarvis became aware of this, he called timeout before walking over to his rival to offer him a hug.

And it was right then and there that another planet was discovered, right here on earth. A planet that was fat with hope and humanity and compassion; elements that are vitally important when it comes to life and living. Elements that we tend to lose sight of, even if they never stop showing up. And for the infinite shine those stars provide us?

I’d like to think we return the favor.

 

The Rundown

Stories You Should Know: Bill Russell in Game 7's - The Grueling Truth

Hard to believe we’re two thirds of the way through 2022, but hey, it means we are that much further removed from 2020. And okay, the spectacle of what 2024 might bring gets closer still. But maybe, just maybe, 2023 will be the best year ever? Please? Someone? Hear my prayer?

This week I’m talking legends.

Bill Russell didn’t have the the luxury of comparing himself to icons like Jackie Robinson. He was too busy paving roads that future generations of players would use to their great benefit. And it’s a common theme you hear from the greats who followed Russell that his example became their talisman- from Magic to Bird, Kobe to Shaq to Durant.

The greatness of the Boston Celtics was born on the day Russell came to town. He toted two collegiate rings to Beantown, after which he went 11-0 in NBA finals appearances (!). Add an Olympic gold medal to that Rushmore resume and you ain’t even scratched the surface of the life Bill Russell led.

In spite of all this, Russell was never embraced in a town that judged the color of his skin over the immense content of his character. This sad reality inspired him to remain a steadfast voice in the fight for equal rights, and he remained a civil rights advocate for more than half a century. Because he didn’t need to be the next Jackie Robinson.

He was the first Bill Russell.

French's® Debuts Limited-Edition Mustard Donuts in Celebration of National Mustard Day

I have put a lot of things in my mouth that I later regretted (I said that out loud, didn’t I?) but even I think French’s new mustard donut is a bridge too far. Hey look at that, I do have standard(s)!

Why Eric Clapton is still God | British GQ

The former President of Seinfeldania is still keeping late night talk show hosts well fed all this time later. He endorsed “Eric” in the Missouri primary race . . . and never mind that he didn’t specify exactly which Eric he was talking about. Because when did the details ever matter to this guy?

I put together a multiple choice quiz in order to find the right Eric and it is every bit as dumb as the guy who inspired it.

A) Eric Heiden- A five-time gold medal winner who became an orthopedic surgeon? He’s got my vote!
B) Erik Estrada- Come to think of it, Trump made no mention of spelling.
C) Eric Stoltz- I feel legally obligated to include him in any discussions about Erics based on the classic “Shot of Adrenaline” scene in Pulp Fiction.
D) Okay yeah, I know it’s not Clapton but I’m going with Clapton anyways.

And now for my Five Good Things . . .

Drew Bausman took his day on the job with UPS VERY seriously.

7 year old Drew Bausman’s dream of being a UPS driver was realized more than a decade ahead of schedule when some really good peeps made it happen. He was inspired by all that delivery traffic in the year of COVID, so he got his own uniform and a hot ride.

tiger | Facts, Information, Pictures, & Habitat | Britannica

The International Union for Conservation of Nature announced there are more tigers roaming in the wild than previously thought. Globally, we’re talking anywhere between 3,700 to 5,500 Bengal tigers. Which means humankind still has lots of work to do, because one look at these majestic creatures makes my whole day.

Ava Swiss is a survivor of the Oxford High School shooting that took four lives in Michigan last fall. And she’s making the most of her every day since, appearing on America’s Got Talent recently. (School Shooting Survivor Auditions For America’s Got Talent). And if this doesn’t bring a tear (or many) to your eyes, make an appointment to see an ophthalmologist, pronto.

Massiah Brown of Sacramento, California is seven going on Aquaman. When he spotted a three-year old boy sinking to the bottom of a pool, he lifted him to safety and a tragedy was averted. Superhero powers and those shades? The kid’s got style!

England vs Germany: Lionesses win first Women's EURO title in extra-time

The Lionesses Euro football tournament win is England’s first (male or female) title since 1966. The girls victory inspired something called “Football Rebooted” where cleats are donated to disadvantaged youths who dream of playing the game they love. How cool is that?

Juan Soto debuts for San Diego Padres; the Washington Nationals actually traded Soto... - Federal Baseball

I’m not talking about Deshaun Watson this week because Vin Scully’s passing and the Juan Soto signing matter more to yours truly. And hey . . . it’s my parking space.

First Soto.

The San Diego Padres became the center of the baseball universe this week when they pulled off the baseball equivalent of a lunar landing by trading for Juan Soto. The kid’s trajectory is squarely fixed on greatness and he’s only twenty-three. He makes an already formidable Padres lineup into something that steals a pitcher’s sleep. I tuned in for his first at bat in his new duds on Wednesday night and Imma be back for more. Because I love the idea of a small market team pushing all their chips to the center of the table and calling the bluff of the baseball establishment. This doesn’t make the Padres a sure thing, seeing as how super-teams have a sketchy track record. But what I do know is that a once woebegone franchise has announced its arrival at the high stakes table. In a market the Chargers left because they didn’t consider it big league enough.

I am there for that.

Vin Scully, legendary Dodgers announcer for 67 years, dies at age 94 - True Blue LA

Sixty-seven years. Vin Scully mastered his craft over that length of time as the voice of Dodgers games, providing a masterclass in how to call a baseball game. From sea to shining sea- Brooklyn USA to Los Angeles California- Scully was a fixture on summer nights, painting the scene in his uniquely classic style. Twelve presidents, four wars, a moon landing and the internet age all happened on his watch. He endured in an industry that has grown exponentially from the days of transistor radios, lapping his more educated peers by his insistence on letting the game do most of the talking. He didn’t rely on gimmicks when the game was the only thing that mattered.

From Don Larsen’s World Series perfect game in 1956 to all of Sandy Koufax’s no-hitters to Hank Aaron’s record breaking 715th home run that passed the Babe to the Mets improbable comeback in ’86 and Kirk Gibson’s one legged miracle shot two years later . . . Scully is indelibly attached.

In his final sign off back in 2016, Scully was his typically humble self as he spoke with that signature eloquence and grace we came to know and love. He confessed that he had always needed us more than we needed him.

I respectfully disagree.

 

How I Learned Church

Sunday is the golden clasp that binds together the volume of the week- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

As far as days of the week are concerned, Sunday is the difference. You can just feel a Sunday without much effort, in much the same way a singer can identify a pitch out of thin air. Whereas Michael Corleone’s first wife- the lovely Apollonia- easily confused the other six days of the week with their bunkmates, she always nailed the one day that was common language, from Sicily to Flatbush.

When I was ten years old, I was an awkward mess of buckteeth and bushy hair and the most geometrically absurd pair of glasses. I was shy, painfully so. If shyness had been a contest, my closet would’ve been full of blue ribbons. The safe haven for me came in the form of books and baseball and music. I could lock the rest of the great big world out of my room and daydream about a future time and place when I wouldn’t feel so out of place.

These love affairs in miniature gifted me liberty from my clumsy toiling through all the nascent lessons my too young self couldn’t yet grasp. My habits were the better chances, delivered from the mysterious belly of a universe whose plans for me were kept in escrow until I grew out of my sad little britches. And Sunday was when all my hopes and dreams came calling, in peaceful little drips.

I happened to be a fledgling explorer when it came to the religion of Café con leche. My method was equal parts a charming ignorance and an earnest deconstruction; I possessed a rudimentary blueprint that substituted espresso with Folgers and scalding hot milk with a cold, heavily sugared alternative. If you grow up with any kind of Latin influence, you understand your serving sizes when it comes to sugar as heaping and diabetic. It’s how I stayed honest enough to the recipe.

I’d tote the brimming mug back to my room and then get lost in the brilliant math of a morning after baseball box-score. I sipped at my Café and pored over the out of town scores before fixing on the exploits of my Yankees. Bucky, Willie and Blair more often than not took the collar and that was alright since defense was their bread and butter. Nettles and Chambliss and Rivers were always good for the rest of it. And then there was Reggie, who served as the front man for a band of talented miscreants. I imagined his murderously quick wrists turning on a hanging fastball inside his church as the congregation roared its approval.

It was during this time when I kinda felt as if Sunday had been created just so’s Lionel Richie could sing his love letter on the radio. I would listen closely to try and hear that intoxicating scratch as the stylus teased vinyl before diving in. In a world full of sophisticated complications, this was one I never got tired of knowing. My senses crushed on that sound.

They still do.

The Rundown

Runners on an indoor track maneuver around a cameraman.

We got some relief from the furnace of Dante Alighieri’s worst plot this week, with temps easing up just a tad. This allowed yours truly to return to my road work, which I had announced my retirement from a couple months back. But hey, if Tom Brady can take it back, so can I. I’ve been on a low key running regimen for several weeks. It’s Easy Peasy Calabrese as she goes, but it still counts. And if you’re coo with leaving July behind in search of cooler pastures, check out Frank’s ode to August this coming Monday. Why he hasn’t been tabbed as the next skipper for the Cincinnati Reds yet . . I haven’t a clue.

The above photograph comes courtesy of The Atlantic and it inspires more questions than President Biden’s economic plan. This all went down last week at the men’s 3,000 meter steeplechase final in Eugene, Oregon. So I have a quick multiple choice quiz as to why in the holy ghost of Bruce Jenner this dude was crashing the party. Buena suerte!

A) He promised his mom he would take part in a World Championship race one day and this was the easiest way to keep the promise.
B) The new GPS app on his phone assured him he was at Wayback Burgers!
C) He’s blind. (That’s a photography joke).
D) He was supposed to be covering a women’s event and didn’t realize the men’s final was even going on when he happened onto the track.

The correct answer is of course, D. Which means this guy wouldn’t last five minutes as a pedestrian in Miami.

Let’s get to the roster . . . .

The life and legend of America's most famous wild horse

I’m a curious chap, so I scrolled back in history to find out how good we had it at the gas pumps back in a simpler time when all we had to worry about were terrorist attacks and waging wars with everybody else. Needless to say, I didn’t get very far . . .

2012- $3.60
2002- $1.12

I couldn’t get past the fact that we were paying less for a gallon of gas than I currently pay for a cheapie pretzel at my convenience store. One dollar and twelve cents per gallon? Are you fucking kidding me? So basically, when I filled up my tank (I’m talking a Dodge Ram pickup) in 2002, I still had plenty left to get a pack of smokes and some Starbucks. Whereas in present day, I would have to notify my financial advisor before doing such a thing. On a plus note, the above capture really could be my ride if gas prices continue to crunch my cojones. Her name will be Sally. Of course.

Shop - Forward Party

I don’t wanna be a (third) party pooper but this new political startup that calls itself The Forward Party is further out of serious contention than the Boston Red Sox. And no, that wasn’t a cheap shot aimed at a much needed change to our same old political structure. That was a cheap shot at the Red Sox.

Rescuers seek to warm and dry the osprey after its ordeal.

My next selection comes courtesy of the lovely Dale, who always brings the smiles with her stories. And this one is no different.

I say it all the time. The good stuff is always happening inside the quiet, far from the madding crowd of forgettable news gone wild. And so when an osprey got caught up in an angler’s line off an island in Brisbane, Australia recently, it took a full court press of compassion to rescue him. So it was that surfers and anglers teamed up to make sure this story would have a happy ending.

It was a long and not so easy process and it resulted in some of the rescuers getting their hands and arms scratched up but good by the desperate creature. Thing is, this group wasn’t going to take tragedy for an answer. And in the end they were able to extricate the bird from the tangle and deliver it to shore.

The catch of the day: Kindness always wins.

Greenland's ice is melting faster than it has in 350 years—what it means

As with most issues that beset humankind, results usually get tucked into a right and wrong sandwich. Whether you believe that climate change will change the way the next generation lives or not, you have to admit that what’s going on in Greenland this summer bears watching.

Over three days in the middle of July, an ice melt resulted in more than 6 billion tons of water being released into the ocean. That’s enough to cover the entire state of West Virginia in a foot of water. Research scientists were walking around in t-shirts as temps reached 60 degrees and now they’re wondering if the 2019 record ice melt might soon have company.

We don’t have to worry about the island of Manhattan being submerged in water. And we don’t have to worry about how farmers are going to be affected adversely, which will in turn affect our food supply. And we don’t have to worry about more power outages and flooding and a scarcity of potable water . . .

But we should.

Since nobody won the Mega Million lottery draw this week, the new jackpot has ballooned to over $1 billion tacos. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t win since I would have blown all of it on a once in a lifetime wager: I would’ve bet everything that Trump will end up behind bars. And while common sense and a mountain of facts are on my side, I fear I might have somehow lost that bet.

Our nation’s capitol had a visitor we can all rally behind when a statue of the legendary aviator Amelia Earhart was unveiled this week. And for bonus points, Congress members didn’t have to run for cover as a result! Kansas Governor Laura Kelly was there for the event.

“Amelia was a dreamer. Her dreams went far beyond the banks of [the Missouri] river and far beyond the prescribed gender roles of her time,” Kelly said. “Let it be an inspiration for all, particularly our young girls, for generations to come. Let them stare up at this work of art and think that they, like Amelia, can dream the impossible dream.”

If we’re gonna talk patriots, I’ll take Amelia.

The Circle' Season 2 Teases Contestant Lance Bass in New Trailer

My streaming diet wasn’t quite so FUBAR this week. For every episode of Snowflake Mountain, I returned volley with a slightly smarter reply like D.B. Cooper: Where Are You? When I went with Nailed It!, I lobbed in a George Carlin doc (Thank you Resa!) And my in between was the social experiment show, The Circle, which has given me a new appreciation for social media. And with Lance Bass joining the circle (?), I’m loving season 2 even more than the first one.

It’s the little things . . .

The Sorryless Interview: Marjorie Taylor Greene

On the Campaign Trail With Marjorie Taylor Greene | Time

Marjorie Taylor Greene’s first two years as the representative out of Georgia’s 14th Congressional District have introduced a fresh new hell to American politics. Greene didn’t take long to unleash conspiracy theories that resulted in a boom for the tin foil hat industry and a crash of our collective common sense. Her political positions scored a zero on Rotten Tomatoes and yet, she is a rock star in some circles- surprisingly none of which were written by Dante Alighieri.

Before my interview with MTG, I spend forty-five minutes talking to her publicist about topics that will be off limits. I’m warned countless times not to utter a single word about masks, vaccines, her rhetoric that involved killing political opponents, the border wall, sanctuary cities, Area 51, Motel 6, Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, Ayn Rand, Hitler, the Gestapo and Gazpacho, Taco Bell, QAnon . . or anything that begins with the letter Q, gun control, Jews, the harmonica or Chef Boyardee.

Once I’ve been cleared, I agree to meet Greene outside BLT Steak- a popular D.C. eatery for what she is referring to as a ‘road trip’. I notify my next of kin in the event I go missing just as a jet black stretch Hummer pulls to the curb. The tinted window rolls down and a driver dressed in Ray Bans and a bad tan asks me for the password.

“Let’s Go Brandon?”

“Good enough, get in,”

I climb into the passenger side seat and turn to find Greene in an orange dress, sipping a “Pimped up Pineapple Passionfruit Babay!”. I pray to God she keeps her legs crossed for the entirety of the trip as the driver pulls away from the curb.

Sorryless: I would like to start by thanking you for taking time out of your busy schedule to sit with us this morning. I was told you had some important meetings you had to push back in order to accommodate us . . .

Greene: No problem at all. Let’s face it, I’m getting paid whether I’m sitting in on those meetings or not, yanno?

Sorryless: You’re a true patriot, doing the people’s work.

Greene: I’m glad you think so. And umm, what do you mean by the people’s work? What does that mean?

Sorryless: Your constituency?

Greene: Is that one of those French words? Not a fan. The only French I like are fries, kissing and toast! Heck . . . I wouldn’t even watch the show Friends because it sounded too much like French!

Greene lets loose with a cackle out of Stephen King’s worst nightmare while eyeing me suspiciously. I have to change the subject quickly or risk her ditching the interview. I’m ashamed of myself for not choosing the latter but hey . . journalism! 

Sorryless: What are your thoughts on the Titanic?

Greene: Well, I’m not saying it didn’t happen but, where’s the video footage? All those survivors and they even made a freaking movie about the boat but not a single piece of footage? Something’s not adding up.

Mission accomplished. 

Sorryless:  A lot of things ain’t adding up, Ms. Greene. But let’s assume for a moment that the hundreds of thousands of verified reports are in fact true and the ship really did sink. Do you have any theories?

Greene: Well I have to be very careful about what I say because I know my detractors on the left are gonna be like There she goes again! and then the socialist late night talk show hosts are gonna use me in a bunch of skits and make me look really stupid . . .

Sorryless: You say that like it’s a bad thing.

Greene: I’m sorry, what was your question again?

Sorryless: The Hindenburg. Who killed the Hindenburg?

Greene: The French, probably.

Sorryless: Let’s change things up. Did Donald Trump win the election?

Greene: Fucking A right he won the election!

Sorryless: According to  . . . .?

Greene: Anyone who watched the early results where he was ahead by like a bazillion points and they kept on counting even though it was over, clearly.

Sorryless: You do understand this wasn’t a boxing match, right?

Greene: I would bet taxpayer money with you right now that Donald Trump is still President.

Sorryless: So who’s to blame for the economy? And gas prices?

Greene: The president.

Sorryless: In your words, then, Donald Trump is to blame.

Greene: No of course not.

Sorryless: But you just said Trump is president, and then you said the president is to blame.

Greene: I meant neither. And both. And the first one.

Sorryless: Alright, let’s try it this way. Will Trump run in 2024?

Greene: Yes, and this time he’ll win by more than he did in 2020.

Sorryless: So he’ll regain the office that you claim he already possesses?

Greene: Correct. And absolutely not.

I want the interview to be over because I’m running out of patience. And Xanax. Both. Greene chugs the rest of her vodka marinated passionfruit drink and then retrieves a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon from a cooler. 

Sorryless: What compelled you to enter the political arena?

Greene: Jesus came to me one night and we had a long conversation about it. I was depressed because I had always wanted to be an astronaut but an astronaut’s license is really expensive so I wasn’t sure what my future had in store for me. And then Jesus decided that he wanted me to be a messenger for all of the disenfranchised people who do not have a voice and I guess you could say, I answered the call.

Sorryless: Boy, that really resonates with me because I know that as a white man living in this country, it has been one hell of a struggle!

Greene: I hear you brother.

Sorryless: Wait . . a minute. Were you trying to impersonate Mary J. Blige just now?

Greene: Who’s she?

Sorryless: Sorry, she’s the other Mary. Anyway I gotta ask. Is there a special prayer you have to say to get an audience with Jesus? Some kind of religious equivalent to a cheat code that allows you to bypass all the regrettable shit you did before that life altering moment?

Greene: Well, you don’t actually see his face when you’re talking to him.

Sorryless: Oh, like Mickey Rourke . . .

Greene: It’s more like, you feel his spirit inside you and you’re consuming him but he’s also consuming you. As time passes, you are overcome with this feeling of euphoria and then you are powerless to light and music. It goes on for hours like that.

Sorryless: You just described the time I got wasted on Jack Daniels before going to see that Pink Floyd movie . . . to a tee.

Greene: Are you with CNN?

Sorryless: If I say yes, will that end the interview?

Greene: Get out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of Kings and Queens and Kitchen Sinks

History of cats in Egypt

I like the idea of a spirit world.

Ancient Egyptians took the shit very seriously because to their way of thinking, a person’s life wasn’t finished when their expiration date came calling. They believed that the newly departed had an appointment with Osiris- the god of the deceased- and his 42 judges in a place called The Hall of Truth. If it was judged that the person on trial had lived a good life, they were permitted to enter Club Afterlife. Conversely, if the person was judged to have been a dick, they were tossed into the abyss and devoured by a monster. Not for nothing, but the Hall of Truth sounds way more fair minded than our Supreme Court. But that’s another thought for another post.

Anyways, the Egyptians believed that if you were greenlighted for the penthouse, it was all Gucci from there. Residents whose slippers were woven from clouds didn’t have to sweat any return trips to earth. They were gifted their favorite places and things for the rest of eternity without ever having to load up the car and fill the tank. There was however . . a however. Because let’s face it, there’s always a however. If an individual was called into the existential equivalent of jury duty, it meant their business on earth wasn’t quite finished or their peeps had dissed them in some way.

My daughter is convinced that we have a ghost and his name is Mr. Speaker. It makes sense, seeing as how the former furry ruler of House Lancaster loved the view from his perch and made sure that any visitors knew they had best leave their swords at the gate upon entering. It was his kingdom, they were just visiting. It would be sooooo Mr. Speaker to hold it against us for having replaced his precious crown with not one, but two members of royalty. And in the same calendar year to boot.

I elected Jack the 2nd and Wednesday the Only to the throne in the summer of 2020, whilst we were still writing songs about our dearly departed King Speaker. Truth is, I was in a very dark place after having lost Speaker months earlier and so when my sister sent me a video of a couple kittens she was fostering, I replied with “Sold!” And the rest has become a splendid history of two incredibly majestic rulers whose reign is akin to Carly Simon and James Taylor spilling musical gold onto a piece of vinyl.

Evidently, Mr. Speaker disagrees with this assessment.

“I think Speaker is inhabiting the kitchen,” My daughter informed me.

“What makes you say that?”

“You ever notice how Jack and Wednesday accompany each other into the kitchen? Or if it’s just one of them going in, they’ll usually wait for us?”

“You think Speaker’s haunting their asses?” I laughed.

“It’s something he would do,” She replied.

I conducted a thorough investigation of the area, making sure to cancel out insects, rodents and phroggers before reaching my conclusion that Mr. Speaker is in fact, haunting our kitchen.

Now here’s the thing. I could hold a séance in which I confess to the guy that he was such a hard act to follow, I had to double down! And not for nothing, but I honored his memory by naming one of them Jack (Since his full name was Mr. Jack Speaker)  He was a trusted confidante and loyal friend to my daughter. He was an expert wingman for yours truly. And as far as gangster chronicles go, the dude was legendary.

Eh . . . what’s the use? I know he would turn his nose up at such a gesture even if it happens to be completely true. He wouldn’t cease and desist even if I asked him nicely. What Mr. Speaker wants, he always gets. Even now. And it’s not as if the current regime is cutting back on food and water as a result. They’re just a tad bit more discretionary as to how they budget their time in the kitchen. And I think I need to follow their example if I’m being completely honest.

Besides . . .as far as I’m concerned, the spirit world just got a whole lot cooler.

The Rundown

Fans line a mountain road, cheering as cyclists ride past.

It’s summertime, and the living has been anything but easy. We’re getting mugged at gas pumps and grocery stores, lied to on most cable news outlets and all we have to show for it is a lousy t-shirt we scored on Amazon during their Prime Days Sale! (?). Thanks to Jeff Bezo’s General Store, I was able to procure a t-shirt which reads “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted For Lincoln!”.

The above image is from the 109th edition of the Tour De France, which I honestly thought had been canceled for good since they still insist on doping tests. These guys are schlepping 2,068 miles over 23 days and hell if I wouldn’t be doping just to get through that! I’d also be slathering myself in Preparation H. But no, I wouldn’t be hanging out with Lance Armstrong, who is a Hall of Fame cyclist but also an asshat.

Anyways, let’s get to the show . . . .

 

Frank “Beach Walks” Angle hits one out of the yard with this Steve Hartman feel good story about an extended family of a different kind.

In January of 2021, Gean LeVar of Glendale, Arizona lost her husband of fifty-eight years. As if that wasn’t bad enough, when police entered her home they found the conditions so bad, they were forced to condemn it. So in the space of twenty-four hours, Gean lost everything.

Her neighbor, Carmen Silva, made sure she got it back. Even though she barely knew LeVar, the mother of eight opened her home up to her. It didn’t matter that the family’s own living arrangements were cramped, what with eight kids and three bedrooms because as she says, “I’ve always taught my kids to take care of their elders,”.

When the non-profit group Operation Enduring Gratitude heard about LeVar’s story, they decided to renovate her old house. And so now, she has two homes where once she had none. And she plans to share it with the Silvas.

Gratitude is a currency all its own.

NFL launches 2020 season with It Takes All of Us

I want every member of the NFLPA who is defending Deshaun Watson to come forward so that we can ask them why. We have to ask them why they insist on standing behind a guy who went through scores of massage therapists. We have to ask them why they take his word over every single one of those sixty-six women (that we know of). We have to ask them why they agree to wear helmets that preach to us about righteous behavior while they are plenty fine with their members doing the opposite.

Personally, I want the league to stop pretending they give a shit about women’s rights. Because when you’re okay with giving abusers chance after chance after chance, it’s your actions that matter more than anything you say. The league and its members have to be put on notice.

If not now, when?

The lovely Dale has some goodness cooking up her fine self with this video story.

Khao Yai National Park in Thailand was the scene of a beautiful human effort that you probably didn’t see on the cable news outlets because there probably wasn’t room for it. Even though there should have been room for it, because these kinds of stories shouldn’t have to be scrolled down to or tucked into the last sixty second of a broadcast.

When a baby elephant fell into a drainage ditch, her panic stricken mother blacked out as a result. A team of veterinarians, park officials and volunteers were able to pull baby to safety and also administer CPR to mom. Both elephants were able to walk away from the ordeal thanks to a special group of people whose story is front page news.

To me.

BBC Three - Sexy Beasts

If my streaming diet was actual food? My ass would be in the hospital right about now. I’d blame my dealer- I’ll call him Phil because that’s his name- for turning me on to one mindless reality show after the other, but I didn’t have to buy his shit.

The nadir- for this week- is a Netflix show called Sexy Beasts. The premise of this dating show is to dress singles up in prosthetic masks before meeting in order to “find love purely based on personality“. Phil referred to the show as a “palette cleanser” I could use after having binge watched The Circle and Love is Blind.

Do they have support groups for this kind of habit?

1920s metal and glass Gas Price Sign with changeable prices.

A hundred years ago, you think peeps bitched and moaned about gas prices? I mean, I’m sure they did, because twenty-five cents a gallon to them, well . . . that was no joke. Still, it just feels so cute to me from our current vantage point.  And to those of you who might be wondering, my (imaginary) wild mustang is doing splendidly!

 

 

 

The Midsummer Classic Hits LA! Or, A Rob Lowe Drinking Game Is Born!

These Vintage Photos of Baseball Teams Will Make You Want to Play Ball | Reader's Digest

In honor of the MLB All-Star Game in Los Angeles, Imma hold an awards ceremony with some serious -ish. Personally, I think hosting a bunch of stars in LA is incredibly redundant, but whatevs. All that really matters is that the Rob Lowe Drinking Game is gonna be a thing. Every time FOX cameras fix themselves on his lovely mug . . . Shot! The over/under in Vegas is currently sitting at 42, so yanno, plan accordingly.

Let’s Coo Coo Ca Choo, shall we?

Shohei Ohtani Is on the 2021 TIME100 List | TIME

The player I would name my stadium after . . .

Admittedly, I’m utilizing a Ruthian interpretation in an age of sponsored sports venues, but love is love, yanno? There are so many great young players in the MLB and I could have devoted this entire post just to them. But Rob Manfred ain’t gonna pay me for it so there’s that.

So I thought about how Mike Trout is the valedictorian just about every season, with his A plus game and looks straight out of central casting. Juan Soto’s sweet swing and inimitable skill set is most likely going to fetch him half a billion dollars in some town. Fernando Tatis would be on every other electronic billboard if he played in a big market. And Aaron Judge is a larger than life presence who has delivered more objects into orbit than NASA.

All these dudes are the right answer. To someone. But the fella I’m giving the keys to the joint to is Shohei Ohtani. Because he is a double threat the likes of which a sport that is nearly one-hundred and fifty years old has never seen before. He hits homers at an MVP clip whilst shutting down the opposition with an arm that turns out more lights than a bartender. He’s not simply sharing the rarified air of a guy named Ruth, he’s . . . . baseball gods forgive me . . .  exceeding it.

The St. Louis Cardinals Unveil Fauxback Jerseys, Drop Navy Road Cap - Viva El Birdos

Every fan’s crazy for a sharp dressed team . . .

When considering which MLB team sports the coolest duds, there’s a long list to choose from. The standard bearers keep it simple and clean. Clubs like the Royals, Dodgers and Giants sport the fresh, classic look in their home jams. Teams like the  A’s and Orioles remain modern day throwbacks. And really, more than half the league keeps it cooler than cool with their (non-alternate) uniforms.

Above all others, it’s the St. Louis Cardinals home whites that do it for me. It’s joined at the hip with the town it calls home.

Wander Franco stats: 20-year-old is making history with Rays

Winners and losers come and go, but baseball names are forever . . .

The MLB has always had a funky thing going when it comes to its tenants. From Buttercup Dickerson, Phenomenal Smith and Dizzy Dean to Sugar Cain, Razor Shines and Coco Crisp. Yeah, I could do a couple of posts on baseball names and not even come close to the finish line.

Today’s MLB is no different when it comes to cool names. You got Buck Farmer and Scooter Gennett. Then there’s Mookie Betts and Jurickson Profar. And I can’t forget about Chance Sisco and Ozzie Albies. But for my money, the winning name in today’s game goes to Tampa Bay’s Wander Franco. It’s science fiction meeting Kinsella in a novella.

PNC Park Top 5 Traits - Bucs Dugout

Baseball stadiums separate the sport from all other professional leagues. And on this count at least, it’s not even close.

Unlike the other sports, baseball possesses no uniformity from one home to the next. Each team’s stadium is uniquely its own in some kind of way. From the Green Monster of Fenway to McCovey Cove in San Francisco to the fountains of Kansas City. And that’s not even to mention how cool so many of the game’s cribs truly are.

But for my money, PNC Park in Pittsburgh is the end all. Some day, the Pirates are going to field a team deserving of the stadium they play in. Hopefully that day comes before they raze the thing and replace it with a multi-use arena that houses six Starbucks stores and an IKEA. Until such time, Imma appreciate this gem on the Allegheny.

Aaron Judge ties Roger Maris' franchise record ahead of All-Star break as Yankees thump Red Sox | Fox News

Of course I couldn’t go through an entire baseball awards-ish post without mentioning the team with the best record in baseball: My beloved New York Yankees.

There is no boast to my toast. Just a hopeful nod to the fall, where the wins are much harder to come by. See, Rob Manfred and his conniving cronies can’t steal the essence of the game from those of us who are old enough to know what stirrups and pepper games are.

October plays for keeps. Maybe the Yankees finish what they started, but it’s no fate accomplished. Not with the Astros standing in the way. Or maybe it’ll be the Sawx again, or the Jays for the first time in a while. And there’s a better than even chance it could be the Mets or Dodgers, Padres or Cards. And hell if I’m not leaving out the current hottest team in baseball: The Seattle Mariners. They haven’t been to October since 2001. Back then, the Yankees played spoiler by knocking off a Seattle squad that had toted the best regular season record into that series. And maybe there’s a Mariners fan or two who remembers all that and would love nothing more than for their team to return the favor. The only sure thing is that there ain’t one.

Only Longfellow knows for certain.

The In Between

John F. Kennedy Jr.: New documentary focuses on John F. Kennedy Jr. and  Carolyn Bessette's turbulent relationship - The Economic Times

He went missing on a Friday night, and then came the waiting.

I remember the waiting because it was mind numbing. It was like knowing too much without knowing anything at all. In the morning, the glimmer of hope we all held to felt like the kind of lie you tell yourself when faced with the ugly truth. By the afternoon, there was no glimmer or lies left to hold to. All that was left was to stop pretending there was a miracle to be had.

We spent those desperate hours holding hands with the voices on the other end of the line. Because there were a lot of phone calls being made the day after. It was as if John was a part of our own families. We cursed and we drank and we cried just that very way. We wanted it back, we wanted all of it back.

Camelot was long gone by the time I was a boy, but I read and learned and knew enough about that magical idea to know the theft that had been perpetrated. Two brothers lost to assassins’ bullets, two men’s lives cut short with decades worth of legacy yet to be written. It was Shakespearean in its lonesome destiny, the idea that brilliant men could be silenced so damned easily.

The kid was going to introduce a final chapter to this hard wrought tale, and while it was no certainty he would assume the family mantel, there was always that whisper of anticipation. He was never inevitable, but neither was he blind to the responsibilities he had been born into. He wasn’t John or Bobby, and in a lot of ways, that was a very good thing. His soft spoken tone and his ability to get along with everyone seemed the kind of difference that was going to serve him well in the next chapters of his life.

And we dreamed what those next chapters would look like. Man, did we ever. We imagined a marriage of history and nostalgia because his was the family seal that came closest to American royalty. It was okay that he kept such talk at arm’s length while we embraced such a thing fully. He had time. He had all the time in the world. And dammit if I really did believe it would be different with him. All of it.

And then, just like that, it was late Saturday afternoon and all the time in the world had run out. The final act was playing out in the same way as the two which had preceded it. Only this time, it was all happening in slow motion. It was the cruelest of flourishes sent down from that cursed star that had taken a father, an uncle, and now a son.

It was the day after John went missing and the day before the news became official that I still remember most distinctly. That long Saturday, the in between, from one forever to the next. It’s where we mourned the prince of a city who had so much left to write. It’s where we said goodbye to an idea like Camelot one final time.

I’m always going to want it back.