Friday, July 31, 2009

No Winners

I've seen the needle and the damage done
A little part of it in everyone- Neil Young

With the revelation that Big Papi & Manny tested positive for steroids in 2003, there are officially no surprises or revelations about baseball anymore.

You can tell me that Ralph Kiner and Bob Murphy used to snort crystal meth in between innings, and I would not argue with you. That the real reason that Phil Rizzuto used to leave Yankee games early was to get to an opium den before it closed and I would not bat an eye.

I am officially jaded.

Sammy Sosa has to be the worst, though. The man got caught using steroids and corking his bat. In his case two strikes should mean you are out-for good.

There are no winners in this story. That list of 103 players hangs over the game like eternal storm clouds. Even the Bob Woodward of this story, Jose Canseco, is an unlikeable rat.

What's the solution? The union has to come to grips with the reality that the whole list is going to come out eventually; this drip by drip approach is hurting everybody. Put the whole list out and get it over with.

Oh yeah, someone has given me what they purport to be the full list and a whole lot of Red Sox are on it. (I will not publish the list until it is confirmed.)

All I'm saying is that Don Zimmer is a lucky man. Remember that brawl he started in the 2003 playoffs with the Red Sox? That team was full of steroid users. Zimmer is fortunate that the Red Sox did not exhibit roid range and stomp that old f**k into oblivion like they were Hell's Angels and Zimmer was a hippie at Altamont.

The Car Cash Presidency

(This was written when the federal government took over General Motors. It is now known as "Government Motors")

He got a sweet gift of gab,
he got a harmonious tongue
He knows every song of love
that ever has been sung
Good intentions can be evil
Both hands can be full of grease
You know that sometimes Satan comes as a man of peace
Bob Dylan

"That Congress cannot delegate legislative power to the president is a principle universally recognized as vital to the integrity and maintenance of the system of government ordained by the Constitution." The Supreme Court of the United States of America

The President of the United States just fired ..... the President of General Motors. I looked at the Constitution, and as far as I can tell, the President has the power to hire and fire Presidential motorcades, not the CEO of a major corporation. (Don't tell me that Reagan fired the air traffic controllers. They were federal government executive branch employees, and Reagan headed the executive branch.)

The President also says have no fear, if you have a warranty with GM, the federal government will honor it. Awesome. Isn't it great to know that the right to an oil change has just been added to the Bill of Rights? "Give me liberty or give me a new transmission" is the new American call for freedom. Are squeegee men considered federal government employees now?

In a power grab unprecedented in American history, in the last month,the executive branch of the federal government has taken over the banking and automotive industries. Ever watch sports on television? Just about every commercial is for banking or automobiles. The end of every commercial should have Obama saying "I'm Barack Obama, and I approve this message."

Seriously, the lines between business and government are more blurred than ever before. And the Congress? They have abdicated their constitutional authority. "Just don't do something, stand there" seems to be the Congressional response.

By giving the President a pile of money and saying, "do whatever you want with it" Congress has turned over to the President its constitutional authority to legislate. And you see what the President has done with unprecedented power- he has taken us on a Socialist path.

If 9th Street and Prospect Park West represents capitalism,and Smith & 9th represents socialism, then we are on the Smith Street bridge.

By nationalizing banks and cars, the President has naturally put the Government in the banking and car business. Do you really think government knows how to run these businesses? If the government could not make a profit in running OTB, how will it make a profit in the cut throat auto industry?

Ah, but making a profit does not seem to be the point. Its all about wealth redistribution and creating further dependency on Mama Government with Mr. Obama.

As for me, I much prefer a federal government that buys tanks rather than selling cars.

Andrew Cuomo: Elliot Spitzer Without the Hooker Problem

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo just issued a report on the billions of dollars in bonus money given out to employees at financial firms that received federal bailout money.

I know, it looks horrible. It seems that companies are taking a golden tin cup provided to them by the feds and handing it over to their already well to do employees.

But let's take a step back and see what's really going on here.

As New York Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo has the authority to investigate and prosecute violations of New York civil and criminal laws.

In this case, he is investigating firms that received federal bailout money. The State of New York did not kick in a penny towards the bailout of any of these firms.

Therefore, Andrew Cuomo has no jurisdiction over what these firms did with the bailout money. Nor does his report allege any possible violations of federal law that can be used by federal officials to investigate further.

Cuomo issuing this Wall Street bonus report is tantamount to him investigating bank robberies that took place in Missouri. Actually investigating Missouri bank robberies would be a more prudent use of the New York Attorney Generals time, because with a bank robbery at least a violation of some law occurred. With the bonus money, before his investigation began, Cuomo knew that he would find no violations because the feds did not put bonus restrictions as a requirement to receive bailout money.

So what is really going on here? Two things: One, Andrew Cuomo is a bright man. Before his investigation began, he knew he had no jurisdiction, and that he would find no violations of New York law. But he investigated anyway. Why? For purely populist reasons. Andrew wants to be seen as a man of the people. A man who looks out for the little guy. You think the common man gives a rat's ass about jurisdictional issues? Of course not. But he does care about millionaires receiving handouts.

The second thing is that Andrew thinks that all banks should pay their employees based on the bank's overall results. Banks on the other hand, want to be free to pay their people what they want, free from government intervention. This bonus report is meant to embarrass banks and to encourage lawmakers to make Wall Street like the NBA: by installing a salary cap courtesy of our modern day populist David Stern wannabe-Andrew Cuomo.

Every second that Andrew Cuomo spend on investigating Wall Street bonuses was time he should have been spending on possible violations of New York law. Moreover, as Attorney General, he should be glad about the bonuses: with a shrinking tax base, a lot of that cash ended up as NY tax revenues. Would Andrew Cuomo prefer that instead of paying bonuses, the firms put that cash into studying wind mill usage in Guam?

First Elliot Spitzer and now Andrew Cuomo. Both had geography problems. They thought the capital of the United States of America was in Albany.

Its still in Washington.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

When Silence is Shameful

"You're blowing it son"- Angelo Dundee to Ray Leonard

The trouble with our liberal friends is not that their ignorant, its just they just know so much that isn't so-
Ronald Reagan's 1964 "A Time For Choosing" Speech

Another green-eyed woman, Mahin, aged 52, staggered into an alley clutching her face and in tears. Then, against the urging of those around her, she limped back into the crowd moving west toward Freedom Square. Cries of “Death to the dictator!” and “We want liberty!” accompanied her. Roger Cohen NYT OP-ED June 20, 2009- Reporting from Iran

You would think that having been elected the first black President in American history, Barack Obama would be especially sensitive to the disadvantaged and the weak, both in America and around the globe.

Sadly that is not the case.

First, look at his Middle East tour. Or as I call it, his "moral equivalency tour". As far as basic human rights, these societies might as well be back in the stone ages. With limited exception, these theocracies do not allow the right to free speech or worship. Women are stoned in the streets, have no voting rights, and are treated as property.

But Obama is one of those moral equivalency liberals whose knee-jerk reaction when confronted by evidence of wrong doing in a foreign country is to say "America is bad too because......" yet the "because" is NEVER on the same level as the violation in the foreign country.

For example, while in the middle east, Obama payed lip service to the lack of women's rights and the right to worship. But, and this is where the moral equivalency comes in Obama equates these atrocities with the following:

"For instance, in the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That is why I am committed to working with American Muslims to ensure that they can fulfill zakat."-Obama in Cairo

First of all, the statement above is an out-right lie. We have laws that prevent anyone from donating to charities that are fronts for terrorism. These laws apply to everyone, not just Muslims. Is there something wrong with trying to stop the flow of cash from America to the Middle East which is then used to kill & maim innocent Americans?

Next, what if it were true? Let's say we denied Muslims, and singled out Muslims in America from not donating to charities of their choice. Would that be the equivalent to laws that treated women like chattel, imposed head to toe oppressive dress codes, permitted stoning, and denied women the right to even drive a car?

Don't be silly.

So he dropped the ball on his "America is bad for Muslims" tour.

Now onto Iran.

I do not know about you, but isn't it great that Muslims are standing up for their own freedom, putting themselves in harm's way for an honorable & just cause, instead of blowing themselves up and taking innocent men, women and children with them?

And where is the American President while these historic events play themselves out? He is hiding under his desk.

He doesn't want to offend the "Supreme Leader" of Iran.

Memo to Obama: You are the leader of the free world. With emphasis on free.

You do not have to send guns or butter. But you have to clearly communicate that you are on the side of these brave Iranians who seek freedom from oppressive Islamic rule.

No time for moral equivalency here Mr. President.

You have to show your inner Reagan, your inner John Paul II, and stand up for the protesters. Talk to Soviet & Polish dissidents. You will see how much inspiration that the words of Reagan & John Paul meant to them, how it helped foster solidarity, and brought more masses to the movement.

If Obama were President during the Cold War, does anyone doubt for a second that his position would be that we have to co-exist with the Soviets, that their system of government is just as valid as ours, and that "moral equivalency" would rule the day?

Mr. President, your job here to to help bring more people into the Iranian street. By doing nothing, you are doing a lot to hurt the cause of freedom. Just speak out for what is right.

Every American President of my lifetime would have loved an opportunity like this-except this one.

By the way, this particular Iranian regime should be shown no deference.

First of all the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should have faced either an American firing squad or just be completing his 30th year in a federal penitentiary.

I say that because he has been positively identified as one of the kidnappers of 52 Americans in the American embassy in Tehran in 1979.

Why is that not pointed out in every American newspaper that mentions this thug? Why does the American President not have the Attorney General personally handcuff this guy when he comes to the United Nations? And don't tell me diplomatic immunity. That doesn't apply to crimes you committed before you achieved diplomatic status.

In my view, the 1979 kidnapping of Americans by Iranians is the real ground zero. For 444 days, "Death to America!" chants and American flag burning by these animals were broadcast all over the world-while they brazenly held our people hostage.

And America did nothing.

The message that was conveyed throughout the Muslim world during the hostage crisis: America is a paper tiger, American blood is cheap, Americans won't fight for their own people.

For the last 30 years, we have paid the price for not dealing with the Iranian hostage crisis correctly. I see a straight line from the kidnapping of Americans in Iran to the planes flying into the North & South Towers.

So, to have the American President not take sides when on one side you have a man who personally kidnapped Americans, is to say the least, disheartening.

Many people believe in the saying "Power Corrupts." I do not think that is always the case. A much more accurate description, and this is Robert Caro's theory, is that "Power Reveals". When you have it, what do you do with it? Do you use it for good or ill?

So far, in this, and many other areas, Obama is like Luis Castillo against the Yankees: he has dropped the ball.

Shea Goodbye

(Written during the 2008 baseball season-the last season the Mets played at Shea Stadium.)

Now you can tear a building down
But you can't erase a memory-Vernon Reid-"Open Letter to a Landlord"

Cast my memory back there, Lord -Van Morrison

Anybody that I have become friends with during the last couple of years is always amazed by the stories I tell them about me and my friends, when we had our run at Shea Stadium.

Today, I want to talk about Shea.

Now memories are like snowflakes and fingerprints, in that they are all different. Here's mine:

Between 1979 and 1981, we did everything that could be done at Shea. Before the game, during the game and after the game. In the stands, on the field, in the press-box, in the dugout, in the clubhouse. Fu*k, we would go to Shea when the Mets had no game, just to have fun.

Before The Game

There was always a bunch of us going to Shea. We always took the train. We hardly ever paid for the train. Money was scarce. Shea was no quick train ride. We took the F to Roosevelt Ave. and switched to the 7. I remember smiling when Shea came into view on the 7 line; it was validation that it was still there, which meant we were going to have the time of our young lives.

We would always get to Shea hours before the game, as we always wanted to be at batting practice. We never bought souvenirs, for reasons you will soon see.

We always bought the cheapest seats, with no intentions of ever sitting in them.
Our immediate pre-game goal was to sneak into the Orange seats, the box seats. We always accomplished this goal. We got to the orange using two methods: (1) We would get our hands on an old box seat ticket. People would throw the tickets on the ground when they left Shea. We would pick up the old ticket off the ground and use it the next time we went to Shea. (Which was usually the next day.) Hey, one man's shit is another man's goldmine. We would present the old ticket to the security guard in charge of the box seat gate. Our fingers would strategically cover the date on the ticket.

The security guard did not notice or did not care. Presto, one of us were in! But we needed to get everybody into the orange. We did that by passing the ticket back through the gate to the next guy, or by meeting where the orange meets the lodge, and giving the old ticket to the next guy and the guy after that, until we were all in.

The second method we used was very primitive: as soon as a security guard turned his head, we would jump over the rail that connects the lodge to the orange. We would run down the aisle, making our way as close to the field as possible. Liked we belonged. Which we did.

Now that we were all in the orange, we concentrated on batting practice. During batting practice the goal was very simple. Get a baseball. Anyway, anyhow. They were everywhere.

We had a unique approach to getting a foul ball though: we employed team work. To this day, when you see a foul ball hit in the stands, its every man for himself, survival of the fittest. We did not do that. Because we went to Shea so many times, we knew there were enough opportunities to go around. If we were on the third baseline in the first row, I would hold CJ's legs as he stretched onto the field as far as possible to get a ground ball heading our way. And he would do the same for me, or BC or any of us, including some guys getting this email. I remember catching a batting practice foul fly ball hit by Jerry Martin of the Cubs in the short right field stands. BC shielded people away from me so I could get a clean shot at it. Oh yeah, we always used our hands to catch foul balls, we never brought a baseball glove to the game. Why bring a glove when there was a chance you could steal a major league glove later on?

The Game

There were two aspects to the game: (1) rooting for our beloved Mets; and (2) always trying to upgrade our seats.

The years we went to Shea there was no ESPN. There was no 24 hour sports radio. You did not have this "first or worst" culture that dominates modern day sports.

So we adored our Mets, regardless of their record. Mazilli, Steve Henderson, King Kong Kingman, who hit moon shots, our beloved Mookie, who Met fans loved from the minute he got to Shea, Pat Zachary, Doug Flynn, whose batting average was less than Karen Carpenter's weight, Claudell Washington and Ellis Valentine, who we thought would do great things, and many many others. (Even CJ, a Yankee fan did not at least openly root against the Mets.)

During the game, we were on a never ending mission to get better seats. As long as there were open orange seats somewhere in front of us, we just had to get there. And we did. We would always end up in the first couple of rows, after upgrading between innings, or during the game itself, by dashing to better seats when the guards were distracted by something exciting happening.

As for a specific game memory there was one time in 1980 when the Mets were losing to the Giants 6-0. Me and BC were there. By the 9th, the Mets cut it to 6-2. The Mets won when Steve Henderson hit a walk off 3- run homer. Shea went nuts. Couldn't have been more than 3,000 of us there at the end. It sounded like Times Square on News Years Eve. The sign guy at Shea held up "HENDU CAN DO". It was proof that the nuns were correct about the existence of God.
After The Game: The Press Box

What we did after the game is arguably what set us apart from everyone else who attend a Met game during this time period or any other time. You see, when the game ended, the real fun was just beginning.

When the game ended, our goal was to wait out all the cops and all the security guards in order to go the field. The best place to do that was in the press box. You see, if you hung out in your regular seat, invariably a security guard would come along and usher you out of Shea.

But in the Press Box we could find a place to hide, as well as being able to look out into the field to see where the security guards were stationed. Sure, there were guards up in the press box, and they would tell us to leave or escort us to an elevator. As soon as that guard left us to our own devices we would come back to a different part of the press box and hope we never ran into him again.

After the game the standard procedure was that Shea always kept one last security guard at home plate. He would survey the entire stands to see if anyone was hanging around who shouldn't be at Shea. We would be crouched down in the press box, with our eyes peering out at the security guard at home plate, waiting for him to leave.

People ask me how long we would wait for that security guard to leave The answer is I don't know. We just waited, knowing we could outlast every security guard. None of us wore a watch, and I can't remember anyone complaining that the wait was too long.

Eventually the guard would leave and we would be on our way to the field!

Going on the Field

I tell you once that last security guard left the field, its like Bob Barker was speaking to us:” Come On Down!"

We would sprint down the ramp to the orange, jump over the small rail to be where any young Brooklyn teenager wanted to be: ON THE FIELD AT SHEA!

I remember the grass. How soft and beautiful, how wonderfully kept it was compared to the grass we played on in Prospect Park .

We loved the dirt. To us, it wasn't dirt, it was something mystical. We would slide all over the infield, and wore the dirt on our clothes as badges of honor.

Basically, we would run around like lunatics, each fulfilling our major league fantasy. We would go back to the wall, and knock into it like we were Rusty in 1973. We would run the bases, go foul line to foul line in the outfield, and get on the mound, fuck around in the bullpen.

The Magic Apple? We were in it. There is a door on the side.

We Took (Almost) Everything

Once we were done with the Field (and it was thrilling every-time) we would make our way to the dugout. We learned that there was always stuff left in the dugout after the game. We took it all. Lineup cards, batting gloves, whatever we found we took. I remember there were always packets of chewing tobacco left in the dugout, we would take that! Its like anything that was connected to major league baseball or baseball players were holy relics, and we had to take them as proof of our conquests.

Beyond the dugout was the runway that led to the clubhouse, and other doors that led to other rooms in the bowels of Shea Stadium.

Here's where I need to give a shout-out to two guys: BC & CJ. In our never-ending quest to see every part of Shea (and take anything we could find) there were a lot of doors that needed to be opened and we did not know who was on the other side of those doors. Cops? Security Guards? The scumbag bat boys who were always busted our balls? We never knew for sure. But BC and CJ were always the first ones through the door. Always. They were brave kids, with balls. Me? I was never the first one through the door. If we were firemen, they would be in the high-rise fighting the fire, while I would be the guy looking for a wrench to open the fire hydrant.

Here are examples of the type of shit we found and took at Shea:

In the press box, we found the scripts that Bob Murphy & Ralph Kiner would use during the game. When Murph would say after a home run “Joel Youngblood this Bud's for you" I thought he was just a little Irish lush congratulating a player. It turns out all those announcements were scripted. At 14 who knew?

The best thing anyone ever scored out of the press box was when NBC was doing a rare "Game of the Week" at Shea. Joe Garagiola and Tony Kubeck were the announcing team. After the game, they left the press-box and we took over. CJ led the way and actually scored one of those "NBC Proud as a Peacock” microphones.

In the bowels of Shea, we found baseball bats, balls, old spikes that the players left lying around, the fan mail that they threw out, baseball socks etc. This was for the Mets and whoever were the visiting team.

I remember that CJ once scored a stunning St. Louis Cardinal helmet; it was either Ted Simmons's or Terry Kennedy's. Awesome.

BC once pulled the ultimate: He actually got into the Met clubhouse after a game, with the players still there and security everywhere and scored a Met hat! I remember the door to the clubhouse opened a crack and we saw a Met uniform hanging in a locker. To see that, it was like a Muslim seeing Allah. With the timing of a 25 year old Rickey Henderson stealing a base, BC made the quickest dash into the clubhouse anyone has ever made, and emerged a micro-second later with Frank Taveras's hat!

The most unusual things I ever scored were the video tapes the Mets always showed during rain delays: the 1969 tape and the 1973 tape. They showed that shit during every rain delay. I remember stumbling my way into a WOR TV room and found the two tapes. Remember, this was before VCR's or DVD's. I remember thinking when I took the tapes, now they will have to show us something else during rain delays! I had personally done something that would make a TV station change it's programming! I really thought that I had acquired the only copies of the tapes. The next time there was a rain delay, they showed the 1973 tape and I was crushed.


Like I said, we were in the business of taking anything we could find-with the notable exception of one thing. That thing was on the press box level. We went through door after door, not knowing where each was leading too. Then all of a sudden, we saw it, it was right there in front of us, and it took our breathe away: The 1969 World Series Trophy! Holy shit! This was the king of all baseball memorabilia, and we were face to face with it! Our first reaction was Let's take it! This was the holy grail.

Think about this: if we thought that packets of chewing tobacco were valuable enough to take, what value do you think we assigned to the 1969 Miracle Mets World Series Trophy? It was priceless. And it was ours. And we said no. I would like to think that we said no because it would be the wrong thing to do. But we really said no because we figured for something like stealing the World Series Trophy the Mets would come after us big time and we would get busted. So we let the biggest fish we would ever see off the hook.


Because of modern day stadium security in the age of terrorism, it is highly doubtful that kids nowadays would be able to do what we did. I don't think it was possible even after we did it, with the way the Keith-Straw-Carter Mets attracted fans as if they were rock stars.

But we were lucky. We got to sit in the press box in Bob Murphy's seat, and stand on the top step of the dugout like were were Gil Hodges. We stood on Tom Terrific'smound, and roamed Mookie's center field. I got to see Joe Pignatano's vegetable garden in the bullpen, and hung out in the Magic Hat when it was as new as an iPhone.

A pre-teen Big Daddy got to see a clearly drunken Ralph Kiner in the elevator, and I was able to get four foul balls in one year.

Shea was such a part of our childhood; we would go when the Mets were on the road, just to play. When Johnny R claimed he could hit a home run at Shea with a stick-ball bat and a Spalding, the only way to settle it was to look in the paper, see when the Mets were on the road, and pick a day to go to Shea to test Johnny's theory. Think that could have happened at Yankee Stadium? Or anywhere else? (By the way, Johnny not hit a homer at Shea.)

Let me make this clear, I am not saying Shea should not be torn down; clearly the time has come for a new stadium. But it should not be forgotten.

I remember George Steinbrenner saying once that he would never sell the Yankees because you do not sell the Mona Lisa. And I think he is correct. Yankee Stadium is like a Cathedral, or a work of art, you look at it, worship it and admire the monuments and plaques.

Shea, on the other hand, is a ballpark. With an emphasis on Park. And parks are meant to be played in by kids. And we did. So what can be better than that?

Slouching Towards Sweden

(This was written in October 2008, when the federal government starting bailing out and taking over private businesses.)

Every American child has the chance to grow up and be the next Bill Gates or Antonio Gates.- Junior

When you, here, everyone of you, were kids, you all admired the champion marble player, the fastest runner, the toughest boxer, the big league ball players, and the All-American football players. Americans love a winner. Americans will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise cowards. Americans play to win all of the time. -General George S. Patton speaking to the Third Army in England June 5, 1944

As I write this, the Dow is lower than a Reverend Wright sermon. GM stock closed so low, 5000 shares will buy you a spare tire.

Being employed in my industry (financial services) nowadays is like being an American Indian when Columbus arrived upon the shores. Firms are biting the dust left and right. Unicorns, or liberals with smart ideas, are more frequently sighted than an employed financial services attorney.

And to my horror, the government's solution is to subsidize every bad business decision made on Wall Street.

With each bailout, we become closer and closer to a socialist nation, and move further away from what has made us the greatest nation in world history.

You see, the economic system we have in America matches the natural condition of the human spirit.

You see human beings yearn to be free to create and achieve.

In America, economically speaking, we are free to go for the gold. The American capitalistic system rewards innovation, ingenuity and creativity with big prizes, if that is your thing.

You think its a coincidence that Franklin, Edison, Henry Ford and Bill Gates were American? Don't be silly. These men are products of a system that allowed for their talents to flourish, to the benefit of the world.

Leave those great men aside. Just look at the lives of the people on this email. Many have made their mark in sales, business, law and many other areas. You all have worked hard for what you have achieved. And why have you worked hard? Simple, you are working under the premise that the harder you work, or the more sales you get under your belt, the more money in your pocket.

But lets turn the equation around: What if you worked under a system where no matter how many sales you made, you got paid the same. Would you work hard? Why would you? Where is the incentive?

And that is where we are heading folks. With each government bailout, we are killing the American form of capitalism.

If the bailouts continue, how are we going to distinguish good business practices that should be rewarded from bad business practices that the market should (and would) naturally punish? The answer is we won't be able to distinguish.

No winners, no losers, just mama government subsidizing it all.

You know that Bob Marley lyric "When one door will close, another one will open"? In America, from Hamilton until prebailout America the motto was "When one store, will close, another one will open" but not now, as we are suddenly throwing out the economic playbook that was the envy of the world for 200 years.

If you are nervous now, how does this vision of America grab you:

Everybody makes $28,000 a year. You have 8 weeks vacation, but no money to go anywhere. The government will supply your housing. If you need a heart operation, the guy mopping the blood off of the Hospital floor will be making as much money as the surgeon operating on your heart.

You will have no incentive to get ahead, cause the fruits of your labor will go to the government.

Socialist governments kill the human spirit. It will kill us dead as well. That is why I am deeply troubled. These bailouts are a narcotic that the people can easily get hooked on.

A friend of mine described the current economic crisis in a way that I found very illuminating. He sees the American economic system as a great engine that roars across the top of the sky with the speed of light. Every once in a while, it will crash into a mountain. However, it quickly reassembles and is back to its roaring flying self.

Socialist economies, he explained crawl around in circles, or lay on their backs like turtles.

We are Americans. We fly like the Great Lindbergh. Let's not turn into a nation of upended turtles.

Say no to the bailouts.

Always Remember

Grand Army Plaza might be my favorite place in Brooklyn, which is another way of saying it might be my favorite place on earth.

First, I love the fact that it is the official gateway to my beloved Prospect Park, which is 565 acres of wonder, a gift that has never stopped giving.

Next, I love the name: Grand Army Plaza. What Grand Army is it referring too? Why just look at the inscription at the top of the monument, clearly written for all to remember: "Defenders of the Union 1861-1865" -The Union Army

I love to walk in between the arches where on side you have a sculpture of the one true indispensable American, President Lincoln, and the other side his handpicked General, Ulysses S. Grant. They are both on horseback. (I have read, but not been able to confirm that this is the only time Lincoln posed on horseback.)

I love to go between the arches and stand in awe of what these great men sacrificed and accomplished. This may sound corny to some, but when I leave the arches, I salute both President Lincoln and General Grant.

General Sherman, who served under General Grant's command, dedicated the first cornerstone for Grand Army Plaza in the late 1880's. President Cleveland presided over the unveiling in 1892.

A lot of times in America, we suffer from historical Alzheimer's. We forget our roots, our history. However, we should never ever forget the Union Army, and what it did for all of us.
So remember, the next time you are by Grand Army Plaza, try to see it for what it is: a moving tribute to great Americans who paid the ultimate price in saving the Union.

Justice Should Be Like Governor Patterson-Blind

What's going on at the Department of Justice (DOJ)?

On election day in November 2008, some members of the New Black Panthers took it upon themselves to provide "security" to a Philadelphia polling place.

The New Black Panthers took their self appointed job seriously. Way to seriously.

By eyewitness and video tape accounts, they dressed in paramilitary gear, waved nightsticks at voters and engaged in racial epithets at white voters like the following: "Cracker, you about to be ruled by a black man. "

Soon after, the DOJ brought a Civil Rights suit against the Panthers as a group and each person who engaged in voter intimidation on election day.

After the DOJ filed the suit, the New Black Panthers did not even bother to file an Answer to the Complaint.

They defaulted. The DOJ won the lawsuit.

So far so good right?


Just as the DOJ was deciding what penalties to seek against the New Black Panther Party, Obama's new appointments to the DOJ stepped in and said not only are we not going to seek sanctions against the New Black Panthers, we are dismissing the original lawsuit which we already won.

There is definite tension between the career staffers at the DOJ and the recent Obama political appointments who supervise the staff. (Today's Washington Times has a great article on this story.)

Please don't tell me voter intimidation did not take place. Lets see: in Florida in 2000, police check points a mile from a polling place was deemed by some to be voter intimidation. In Indiana merely requiring official government identification cards was alleged to be voter intimidation. So therefore, don't tell me waving a nightstick at voters like you are the head cheerleader during homecoming week is not voter intimidation.

The decision has Congressman Frank Wolf asking, "If showing a weapon, making threatening statements and wearing paramilitary uniforms in front of polling station doors does not constitute voter intimidation, at what threshold of activity would these laws be enforceable?"

Wolf isn't crying wolf.

I'm Talkin Out of School

This one I am going to need some help understanding. A lot of you are parents out there. To say your child's education is important to you is the understatement of the year.

So you do your research as a parent, and for generations you hear praise for Prep Schools like St. Ann's , Brooklyn Friends & Packer.

These are the best schools you are told. What a staff. So progressive.

But have you ever looked into the people who run these schools?

Let's start with St. Ann's. St. Ann's was founded by Stanley Boswworth, who ran the school for 40 years (until at least 2005) . Stanley was very close with students, staff and school administrators. I say that because he freely admits to having sex with all three.

This is a quote from a former St. Ann's student in a 2004 New York Magazine article on St. Anne's:

He was inappropriate with me as a student,” “He didn’t make a pass at me, but he talked about things you shouldn’t talk about. The understanding was that a number of the teachers were having sex with students—and for all I know, this was an act of the imaginations of teenagers—but Stanley was condoning it by making fun of it. He told me, ‘I don’t know why any [teacher] would want to have sex with a virgin: It’s like having a mummy!’ Stuff would come spilling out of him.

I'm sure a lot of a stuff came spilling out of "Headmaster" Bosworth.

Here is Headmaster Bosworth in the same article talking about his faculty:

“Proust says of a love affair, it is as if having heard a tune, that you knew somewhere in the middle of it that you could whistle the rest. Mind you, all he wanted was a man’s penis to suck, but I happen not to be Marcel. About a third of my staff are gay, another third are androgynous, and the third third are still trying to figure out where to put it.”

How I would love to be a fly on the wall and hear the parent-teacher conference between my pal Tom and 2/3 of the teachers at St. Ann's.

In a school where there are no grades, and older students make their own schedules "Headmaster" Bosworth seems to equate sexual expression with college preparatory high school education. Here's Bosworth answering a question on his own educational background:

“I learned French being in France and sleeping with Lucy. I learned German being in Germany and sleeping with Ana Lisa Schmidt!” Then he pauses. “Ah, how many women I have squired across the English Channel .”

Seems like Stanley was the Headmaster before he was the Headmaster.

Yes its true, these kids get into the best colleges, but do you want this guy around your kid?

After reading about the culture at St. Ann's, now I know why Obama included so much money for condoms in the stimulus bill.

Which brings us to Brooklyn Friends.

Brooklyn Friends is a Quaker School. The Quakers be live in pacifism. They are anti-war to the core. You would think that the leadership of Brooklyn Friends would at the very least adhere to the tenets of the Quaker religion.

Sadly, that is not the case. Dori Dietz Blitz is Dean of the Upper School at Brooklyn Friends. In the 1980's she applied for training in a federal government program. In order to be admitted to the program you had to answer the following question:

Do you now, or have you within the past five years, publicly advocated the violent overthrow of the federal government?”

Mrs. Blitz, at that time a member of the Communist Worker's Party, refused to answer the question. (For me, math questions were always the hardest to answer; I think I would have nailed this question.)

Think about that: the violent overthrow of the American Federal Government.

You want someone like that around your kid? Teaching your kid?

Any horse-player will tell you its better to hit a triple than an exacta, so let me tell you what I know about Packer. During the beginning of the Iraqi War, a Packer High School Sophomore told me he had a test where the question was "Why was America in Iraq?" The only acceptable answer accepted by this so -called teacher was "To steal Iraqi oil."

No critical thinking was accepted, no analysis that did not include the stealing of oil was acceptable. I'm sorry, that is not teaching; it is indoctrination. I'm sure if the kid wrote "Reagan created AIDS to exterminate black people" he would have received extra credit.

So there you have it. Sex between the faculty and students, the violent overthrow of the U.S., and anti-American rhetoric disguised as critical theory.

All for $30,000 a year.

Dissed Again

He's been retired for 16 years now. He will be 53 in December-and he looks it. He's had some serious health issues over the last two years. But in the you-tube of my mind, he is forever young. He is streaking down the left side of a basketball court, carrying the hopes and dreams of a city on his back alone. His city. Our city. He was one of us, Brooklyn's best and brightest.

At its core, basketball is a game of rhythm. The dribble, the cut to the hoop, the game within the game-there's a rhythm to it.

It's also a game of ritual. John Wooden used to start the first practice of every season by teaching his players how to put on their socks. And sneakers. Ans how to tie the sneakers. Why? Ritual.

One modern day ritual (started in 1974, I think) is that the Final Four is played on a Saturday, and the NCAA Championship is played on a Monday night.

But the day of the Championship has its own ritual. You, see that afternoon, the Basketball Hall of Fame announces its new inductees.

For eleven years now,on that day, he has been eligible to be a Hall of Famer. And for eleven years, the phone has never rang.

That's not to say that the phone has not rang-for others. You heard of a Who's Who list? This is a Who's You? List.

Last year Cathy Rush was inducted. In 2007,Van Chancellor got in, along with the unforgettable Pedro Ferrnandiz. How bout Hortencia Marcari? The immortal Dino Meneghin? Oh,I don't want to leave out Mirko Novosel.

They all have gotten the call in the last few years. But no love for Bernard King? How can this be? Don't they know? Have they forgotten?

Well, I know. And I have not forgotten. Consider this a shout-out to the King.

The Genius of Bernard

There are three things that made Bernard a wickedly great basketball player. The first one was the most important, as the other two flow from it.

No. 1: Bernard's ability to break a man down was peerless. He would show no mercy to any opponent. He always went for the jugular. Always. If that meant torching his little brother for 60 points in front of the whole nation on Christmas Day, then so be it.

Bernard would have been great at Gitmo. He would break a terrorist down without batting an eye.

He refused to speak to his opponents; he thought it would compromise his mission, which was to humiliate the man trying to defend him.

What really set Bernard apart from other sports assassins is in how he killed his quarry. You know that old adage "take what the defense gives you?" Bernard did not take what the defense gave him. He took what he wanted, which was usually the defender's soul.

If you played off him, he would not take the jumper; he would go by you, or through you. If you played up on him, he would shoot over you as if you were not there.

Another thing that separated Bernard from the mere mortals and even the all time greats is his shot release. The whole world shoots the ball when they reach the top of their jumper; Bernard released the ball on the way up. He had a quicker release than Bill Clinton signing pardons. It made his shot impossible to block; Manute Bol on stilts couldn't block or change Bernard's shot.

The last thing that set Bernard apart is so incredible, it has to be not seen to be believed. I urge you to go to you-tube and check out Bernard's numerous highlights. Watch every move, one after the other. Watch how he flies down the left side of the court on a fast break. Watch the arched back, the blank stare at all opponents, the unstoppable turn around jumper, and impossible straight on forays to the hoop. What won't you see? You won't see Bernard use any type of head fake, shot fake or ball fake to get his man off balance. The whole world plays basketball by trying to get a defender in the air, yet, Bernard could not be bothered. Its like it offended his sense of justice by trying to trick an opponent. Like tearing the wings off of a butterfly.

Think this total package did not scare and intimidate his opponents? Think again.

Here is Hall-of Famer Dominique Wilkins, talking about the only player who intimidated him:

"Bernard scared me! ‘He truly made me sorry I had to play that night! We’d set up for the opening tip and you might as well put 40 points next to his name. He was unstoppable. I’d reach out to shake his hand and he wouldn’t even look at me. He’d have that evil game face on. I’d turn my back to him and say to myself, ‘Aw, spit, I can’t believe I got to cover this guy.’"

If Bernard got in the head of an all time great like Dominique, what do you think he did to your average NBA player like Kelly Tripucka? Well, we actually know what he did to Tripucka,and we will get to it in a minute.

But first, they say that every President gets one line in history; Lincoln freed the slaves; Clinton banged the intern. So I can't waste time on Bernard's legendary high school and college careers,with numbers that dwarf even Walter Berry's; his miraculous comeback from a knee that was more torn up than the Shea infield after the last out in 1969, or the countless other accomplishments that have gone unrecognized.

Instead, I will focus on the Spring of 1984- the playoffs.

Knicks-Pistons First Round Best of Five

Newspapermen eating candyHad to be held down by big police.Someday, everything is gonna be diff'rentWhen I paint my masterpiece-Dylan

Bernard's performance against the Pistons was more devastating to Detroit than the decline of auto manufacturing. It may have even caused it. Who can forget? The first game,he went for 36-it turned out to be his lowest scoring game in the Series. This was the Isiah-Tripucka Pistons, that played uptempo. After Bernard,Chuck Daly had to scrap that plan, and went bad boy.

Bernard was at the height of his powers and talents in the Spring of 1984. He was 27, he had teammates that recognized his greatness, and a coach that knew Bernard was the Secretariat of the NBA. Which added up to bad news for Isiah, Chuck Daly, and poor Kelly Tripucka.

The Series went to the full 5 games. Bernard scored 213 points in 5 games. It comes to 42.6 per game. He hit 60% of his shots. Kill shots. Duran attacking your kidneys shots. In one quarter, it took him 5 minutes and 29 seconds to score 23 straight points. He shattered record held by Wilt. He shattered records held by Elgin. And he did it with splints on both middle fingers, as they were both dislocated!

Tripucka was never the same.The poor bastard. In game one, he sported one of those white guy Afros. By game five, he looked like he was wearing a bird's nest-like toupee. His hair was a declining graph of the Piston's chances against Bernard. Onward to Boston.

Knicks-Celtics Second Round Best of Seven

Well you heard about the Boston... The Rolling Stones

These were the Celtics you all remember. With the Hall of Fame Front Line of Bird-McHale & Parrish. DJ & Ainge. Maxwell off the bench. And these are the Knicks that you have mostly forgotten. A point guard who arguably one of the worst starting point guards in NBA history in Rory Sparrow. A way past his prime Truck Robinson. Medical Bill Cartwright. Not the most memorable bunch. But we had Bernard.

The Celtics,like the rest of the world, saw what Bernard did to Detroit, and vowed it would not happen again. "Bernard has scored his last 40 points. We've got somebody who can stop him" said ML Carr.

Cedric Maxwell boasted on the day the Series began: "He ain't getting 40 on us. We're going to stop the bitch."

"The bitch is back"- Bernard King after torching Cedric Maxwell and the rest of the Celtics for 43 points in Game 3 in Madison Square Garden.

The Series that the Knicks had no business being in went 7 games. It was an unbelievable time to be a basketball fan. The Celtics went on to win the championship,and no one gave them a tougher time than the Knicks. All because of one man. Our King.


I first became aware of Bernard when I was about 8 years old. Bernard was at Fort Hamilton High School. I had the honor of following his whole career. Did he have problems as a young man? He sure did. He was born in Brooklyn in 1956, and who do you know that was born in Brooklyn between 1956-66 that did not have some learnin to do?

But he learned. And once he did, there was no stoppin him. With Bernard, you got the total package. There was no showboating in his game. His misson was to destroy his opponent, not mock him. No Latrell-like crotch grabbin. No giving out gang hand signals. Nothing that would embarass you as a fan.

He is always in my list of top 10 athletes,and is never lower than 5. In fact, on Facebook, I even list Fast Break starring Bernard and Gabe Kaplan as one of my favorite movies.

I'm on a mission to make sure that certain people, certain events are always remembered. It could be Emanuel Celler, Rick Rescorla or Bernard King, who in the Spring of 1984 made you believe anything was possible.

F**k the Hall of Fame.

The Supreme Court: Not Always the Last Word

I love words. "They're my work, they're my play, they're my passion. Words are all we have, really."
George Carlin

This may be interesting to some, to others, sorry to bore you.

I used to be under the impression that once the Supreme Court decides a case, it was the end of the road. That was that. There was no other Court, or place to go: those 9 justices had the last word.

But it took me 75k in tuition to learn that what I thought about the Supreme Court was partially wrong.

The Supreme Court hears two types of cases: (1) constitutional law and (2) statutory interpretation.

The constitutional law cases the Supreme Court decides have to due with our constitutional rights: free speech, equal protection of law, the right against unlawful search and seizure are examples of con law cases that the Supreme Court must decide. And when it makes a decision in constitutional law cases- it does have the last word. The Congress the President, the 50 States are all bound by the decision.

But the large percentage of the Court's Docket consists of cases of statutory interpretation. And in these cases, whatever the Supreme Court decides, the President & the Congress can overrule the Supreme Court by simply passing a law.

What are cases of statutory interpretation? It's simple: they are cases that do not involve constitutional law in which the lower federal courts have come to at least two conclusions on what the words in the the actual law mean.

There is a case that the Supreme Court decided recently that was in the New York Slimes that is an excellent example of statutory interpretation.

In Flores-Figueroa v. United States the statute in question was an identity theft law. The question in the case was whether workers who use fake identification numbers to commit some other crimes must know they belong to a real person to be subject to a two-year sentence extension for “aggravated identity theft.”

It all came down to what the word "knowingly" meant in this particular law.

If you knew the Social Security number was false when you used it, was that enough for the two additional years in your jail sentence? Or did you have to know that the card belonged to someone else to get the two additional years added to your sentence?

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in this one: the defendant had to know that the card belonged to someone else in order to receive the additional two years.

Did the Supreme Court Justices have to hit the heavy law books to decide this case? Hardly.

Here is the New York Slimes quoting Justice Breyer, who wrote the Opinion:

Justice Stephen G. Breyer, in his opinion for the court, said the case should be decided by applying “ordinary English grammar” to the text of the law, which applies when an offender “knowingly transfers, possesses or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person.”

He gave examples from everyday life to support this view. “If we say that someone knowingly ate a sandwich with cheese,” Justice Breyer wrote, “we normally assume that the person knew both that he was eating a sandwich and that it contained cheese.”

Now this decision came down a month or so ago. There is nothing to stop the President & the Congress to pass a bill today that says " We amend the Identify Theft Law to clearly state that the defendant shall receive two additional years in prison just by knowing that the I.D is false,he does not need to know that it belongs to someone else.

At that point, the Supreme Court's decision today would be like Muhammad Ali- rendered mute. It would be effectively overruled by the new law.

You see, I just saved you 75k.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Oh Captain! Oh Captain! Why I am Thinking of Lincoln and You Should Too.

(I am a huge admirer of President Lincoln. This was written in January 2009.)

Whenever I hear someone defending or advocating slavery, I feel like trying it on him personally-."Abraham Lincoln

Until the philosophy
which hold one race superior
And another Inferior
Is finally And permanently
Discredited And abandoned
Everywhere is war
Me say war -Selassie/Marley

I just read that President-Elect Obama has decided to use the Bible that President Lincoln used when he is sworn in as President January 20, 2008.

I applaud this move by Obama. Part of a President's job is to lead Americans by example in connecting with and cherishing our common American heritage. Obama goes even further in honoring Lincoln since he has named his inaugural "A New Birth In Freedom", which is lifted directly from Lincoln's Gettysburg address.

By evoking Lincoln on Inauguration day, Obama is suggesting that this moment is bigger than him, and that the blood & lives of others lived & died to make it possible. Bravo to you, Mr. President-Elect.

That he picked President Lincoln is spot- on appropriate. You see, just as Lawrence Taylor is the greatest defensive football player of all time, Lincoln is BY FAR THE GREATEST PERSON THIS COUNTRY HAS EVER PRODUCED.

Lincoln is the Indispensable American. The mind recoils in horror in what might have happened if someone else was President during the Civil War. All of our lives would be different-for the worse- if Lincoln was not President.

Blacks in the South would have been sold into bondage for God knows how long, the America we now know would be more like North Korea & South Korea, ethnic wars and border wars would have been commonplace, and so much of our resources would have been used just to defend one section of this land vs. another.

The number of soldiers who died between 1861 and 1865, an estimated 620,000, is approximately equal to the total American fatalities in the Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, and the Korean War combined. The Civil Wars rate of death, its incidence in comparison with the size of the American population, was six times that of World War II. A similar rate, about 2 percent, in the United States today would mean six million fatalities.

Lincoln could have made peace with the Confederacy without one shot being fired. He could have signed a treaty with the Confederacy any time during the Civil War. He faced pressure from every group imaginable: those who wanted no war, zero tolerance abolitionists, those who thought that the loss of life did not justify the war, and draft rioters. He felt each loss of life personally, and eventually became a casualty of the war himself. ( Tragic loss was something that Lincoln lived with: his mother died when he was nine, an older brother & sister died during his childhood, and most tragically, his 11 year-old son little Willie died in the White House while Lincoln was President conducting the Civil War.)

But Lincoln held tight to the the ideas of our founding fathers, this unique experiment in self governing, was worth fighting and dying for. Remember, the American form of government was a unique world experiment, the rest of the world was full of monarchs and empires. Also, the experiment was still in its infancy, as the time period from Washington's Presidency to Lincolns' was roughly equivalent to the time from Pearl Harbor to Obama. Lincoln saw himself as a caretaker of the promises made by the founding fathers.

Why am I focusing on Lincoln? Its simple: If you look for it, you will notice that in 2009, there will be a celebration of all things Lincoln in this country. Why is that? Well, February 12, 2009 is the bicentennial of the great man's birth. Just as in 1976 we celebrated the nation's bicentennial, in 2009, we do the same for Lincoln.

Because of the extraordinary challenges he faced, the unparalleled leadership he exhibited, his unmatched ability to communicate, and his unique capacity for growth in office, Lincoln stands alone.

He is the most written about person in American history. (I went to Borders Bookstore on lower Broadway the other day, they had five shelves just on Lincoln. ) In fact in the next 18 months, at least 60 new books will be published on Lincoln, many with new historical documents, including a 1865 obituary on Lincoln written by Fredrick Douglas.

I am not the type of person who joins causes. I don't wave picket signs, and you will never find me at a street protest. Even here, during the Presidential campaign, I never asked anyone to follow my lead, I just laid out my beliefs, which you were free to accept or reject.

But I am going to ask you to do something in 2009. And that is to learn about Lincoln. Read a book, go to an exhibit or a conference. I promise you, the more you learn about the man, the more you will find that you cannot help but be moved by his life. Plus, its part of your history. Why not embrace it? Why not celebrate and honor the best of the best?

I previously wrote about Lincoln on the Emancipation Proclamation and his Order of Retaliation in which Lincoln proclaimed that he would execute one Confederate Prisoner for each Union Army Black solider executed by the South.

Here are some other Lincoln stories you may find interesting:

Lincoln's Empathy

Lincoln contracted a mild form of small pox while returning from Gettysburg. Lincoln had a black servant, William H. Johnson who died of smallpox in January 1864. Lincoln was beside himself thinking that Johnson may have contracted smallpox by being exposed to the President.

Lincoln personally interceded to get Johnson’s pay and distribute it according to his wishes. The President arranged for his funeral, helped his family, and erected a headstone after burying Johnson at Arlington. It read: “William Johnson, Citizen.”

Since one of the raging debates at the time was whether newly freed blacks would actually get not just freedom but also full rights of citizenship, Lincoln, in his behavior and his inscription, was making a quiet, affectionate, firm declaration.

The 2nd Inaugural Speech

We all pretty much know that FDR was known for communicating through radio airwaves, Reagan through television, and Obama through the Internet. Each man took the technology to a new level in communicating with the American people. But as for the written word, Lincoln blows every other President away.

Look at the paragraph below, from Lincoln's second Inaugural Address. The Great War was winding down, and Lincoln himself only had weeks to live. Notice the brevity on how he describes how the War came about:

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it-- all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war-- seeking to dissolve the Union, and divide effects, by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.

I know I might lose a few of you here, but screw it. Read Lincoln's word's below on both sides evoking God during the great War, how both prayed to the same God, how those prayers could not be answered in full, and how slavery is such an Offense that the Almighty may have ordained the WAR and its devastation as a price to pay for the removal of such an evil institution:

Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes his aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered--that of neither has been answered fully.

The Almighty has his own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through his appointed time, he now wills to remove, and that he gives to both North and South this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to him? Fondly do we hope--fervently do we pray--that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn by the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, "The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

The End of the War

Ten days before he was senselessly murdered, the war was just about over, as Richmond, the Capital of the South had fell. Lincoln wanted to go the Richmond, to walk its streets.

No one knew he was coming. He arrived quite unexpectedly by rowboat. Crowds began to assemble around him. Blacks began worshiping at his feet. "Praise God we're delivered! Praise God, bless Abraham!" Lincoln was uncomfortable with the adulation: "Don't do that. You cannot do that. Pray to your God; don't pray to me."

He strolled through the capital of the confederacy, he even got to sit at Jefferson Davis's desk. I can only imagine what Lincoln was feeling; it would be like if FDR got to sit in Hitler's bunker! This was Lincoln in rare triumph; after all the death & despair, there was some light at the end of the tunnel.

It was one of the greatest public moments of his life, and he was killed ten days later.

Gettysburg Address:

Although it is called the Gettysburg Address, I think a more instructive title would be " Why We Fight".

The carnage and loss at Gettysburg was beyond comprehension.

Lincoln's goal in giving the speech was to tell the people why we were fighting, and that the agony and loss was for a just cause. He tells the nation that the American experiment in democracy was worth fighting to preserve, that slavery must be abolished, and that we must live up to the ideals & promises of the Declaration of Independence & The Constitution. It's an incredibly hard thing to do, and Lincoln pulls it off in a mere ten sentences and 270 words.

Here is the Gettysburg Address in its entirety:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

The Death of Lincoln

Lincoln was murdered by the Tom Cruise of his day. John Wilkes Booth was a famous actor and an ardent supporter of the Confederacy. Three days before he killed Lincoln, with the War at end ,Booth heard a jubilant Lincoln give a speech from a White House window in which Lincoln publicly proclaimed the right of blacks to vote in Louisiana, and how the rest of the South would follow suit during the upcoming Reconstruction period.

It drove Booth crazy.

Booth shot Lincoln point blank in the back of the head with a 41 caliber Derringer while Lincoln was viewing a play in the Ford Theater in Washington. (Booth knew every inch of the theater, as he performed there numerous times.)

Booth then jumped onto the stage and yelled "Sic semper tyrannis" (Latin for "thus only for tyrants" which was the Virginia state motto) and literally exited stage right.

There were plenty of doctors in the theater, and they quickly diagnosed that the President, while still breathing, was mortally wounded and the only thing they could do was make him as comfortable as possible in his time of dying.

Lincoln was moved to the Petersen House across the Street from the Ford Theater.

He lingered for nine hours. He died at 7:22 AM on April 15, 1865, surrounded by family and his cabinet. Immediately upon his death, Secretary of War Edward Stanton proclaimed "Now he belongs to the ages."

There has never been a funeral like Lincoln's in America. About 25% of all Americans viewed his remains or witnessed the funeral train which stopped in 10 cities. The funeral train went from Washington up the east coast to Baltimore than Harrisburg, onward to Philly & New York City; up to Albany, Syracuse and Rochester, over to Buffalo and then Cleveland, onward to Columbus, Chicago & the final resting place, Springfield, Illinois.

Stanton was correct: Lincoln does belong to the ages. Its our duty to celebrate this man's life and to do our best to ensure that future generations of Americans never forget our greatest MAN.

Please join me in doing so.

March Sadness

(Written in March 2008 when it was apparent once again that St. John's would not be invited to the Dance.)

It's March. Football season has ended. Baseball is not here yet. My beloved Prospect Park is covered with snow. I don't go to the park much in the winter; it reminds me of a death camp; nothing is growing. (Although the way my industry is going, I'm probably going to end up as a "federal park cleaner" to help stimulate the economy.)

For a lot of sports fans, this is the worst part of the sports calendar.

But for me, it used to be the best. It meant March Madness would soon be here, and that the St. John's Redmen would be front & center the team to watch in New York.

For generations, if you were playing word association, if someone said "Detroit", you would respond "Cars". If someone said "St. John's" you would say "Basketball".

The Redmen were always very good, and occasionally great. That's a fact. It was true when your father was born, and it was true when you were born. But not when your kid was born.

And it kills me dead.

Before I get into the basketball analysis:


As a Giant fan or Met fan, I root for the team win or lose. I give the team my allegiance, and in return I ask that they play hard, and don't embarrass me in an A-Roid or St. Joseph of Torre, the Patron Saint of Rats, kind of way.

But with St. John's, it's different. It's different because St. John's University lowered a couple of life boats for me and my family and led us to dry land.

The first life boat arrived in 1981. My dad, like millions of other factory workers, lost his job of 26 years when the company left New York.

While there is never a good time to lose a job, this was particularly bad timing, as my parents had just bought a house a few months before and had two children in Catholic School. But my old man was able to get a job as a security guard at St. John's University.

Not only had St. John's given my father a job, among the job benefits was that all children of school employees that achieved admission to SJU were able to go for free.

Sounds great, right? It was a perfect fit. My old man got a job, in a couple of years I would need a college.

But I fu**ked it up. Bigtime. I just never went to class. To this day, I cannot tell you one class I took at St. John's from the fall of 1984 to the Spring of 1985. I don't remember any classmates or teachers either. If you water-boarded me, I would not be able to give you that information. Let's just say I was majoring in chemistry at the time. (Hey, St. John's has a Pharmacology school.)

So by the fall of 1986, I was an SJU dropout, with a transcript with more F's than an Andrew Dice Clay monologue.

Flip the calendar ahead 6 years. I knew I had to go back to school. And school to me meant St. John's.

Would they take me back? Could I go under my father's plan?

My father went to talk to the Dean, Dr. Brennan.

Dr. Brennan looked like a 55 year- old Wellington Mara. His face was the map of St. Patrick's Cathedral. He's the kind of guy that hasn't missed a 6:45 daily morning Mass since Abe Beame was Mayor.

"Can my son come back?" my old man asked. "Yes" said Doctor Brennan.

"Is he still eligible under my benefits"?

You know what Dr. Brennan said to that?

"We don't want your money. We want your son."

That's the kind of guy Dr. Brennan is. And that's the kind of school St. John's is.

So it's different with me and St. John's. OK?

They put bread on my table and gave me a second chance.

When We Were Kings

Basketball is a city game. And the city game was best represented for generations by the Catholic School in Queens. That was a commuter school. That had no dorms. That recruited city kids. NYC kids.

While the Redmen never won a Championship, they were in the top 20 more often than the Beatles were on the pop charts.

Every city kid who played basketball wanted to be recruited by St.John's.

And why not?

Learning basketball from Coach Looie Carnesecca was like learning guitar from Les Paul.

Looie was an unappreciated master. I say unappreciated because while he was loved by the media, it was a Yogi Berra type of love. Not "this guy is a great" coach type of love.

The genius of Looie: he recruited the city, played only 7 guys, put his players in a position to succeed, and played only man to man defense.

Sounds easy? It wasn't.

Looie always played to his players strengths. He could slow it down and take the air out of the ball with a Mike Moses or Kevin Williams, or he would run like mad with Boo Harvey & Michael Porter.

Look at the late Malik Sealy. His major strength was his baseline jump shot. Looie saw that,and designed plays that put the ball in Malik's hands on the baseline where he caught & shot his way to being our second all time leading scorer.

Plus, he was an authentic New York character. Could you see Looie interviewing at Georgia Tech? Trust me, it would never happen.

Bottom Line: Looie was great. And he made it look easy. Seventeen years after Looie retired, we now know it wasn't.

Mid 80's Madness

While St. John's maintained a level of excellence from World War II to the Gulf War, the true Golden years were the mid 1980's. Those teams, those players, & those times are en-grained in the minds of millions.

The Mullin, Berry, Wennington, Jackson,Wennington, Glass & Jones Redmen teams; how can you not love them?

Chris Mullin was one of the greatest college basketball players ever. If anyone tries to dispute that,they should be sentenced to watching the WNBA for the rest of their days. Plus, people forget that when Mullin played, there was no three-point shot in college basketball. Imagine how much that would have opened up his game? Making Chris Mullin play basketball without the 3 point shot is like major league baseball implementing a rule that says "Jose Reyes is not allowed to steal bases."

Mark Jackson ended his professional career with the third most assists in NBA history. Yet, in my view, he played his best basketball during his junior & senior seasons at St. John's. He was the consummate point guard, with laser-like peripheral vision. He could run the fast break to perfection, and always put the ball in the hands of the right guy at the right time in the half court game. By his senior year,he became the ultimate double threat; he could pass, and he was a go-to scorer.

Walter Berry

"Walter Berry and Kevin McHale had the best low post moves I have ever seen." UCONN Coach Jim Calhoun to Mike Francesa Feb 16, 2009.

When the change was made uptownAnd the big man joined the band-Bruce

You can't handle the Truth!- "A Few Good Men"

Before Walter arrived at St. John's, there were tons of stories on how great he was. He went to Ben Franklin High School, which closed down while he was going there. As a result, he did a year in Junior College at San Jacinto which is in Texas. You may remember San Jacinto by its other name:

'The St. John's University Basketball Farm Team."

Now the hype that followed Walter was enormous; even Looie got into it. I remember him saying in Sports Illustrated "I can't wait for Walter to play with Chris. I'd pay to watch them."

Everybody did pay to see St.John's in 1984-85, the year Mullin & Berry played together . It was the hottest ticket in town. We we ranked #1 or #2 virtually the whole year,taking turns with hated Georgetown.

And Walter? He turned out to be one of the most unstoppable forces in college basketball history. I remember early on, we played the David Robinson -led Navy. Walter torched him so badly,I thought Robinson was going to get court marshalled.

But Walter abused everybody; he went left more than Obama, and as that guy advised Deniro about Tommy's demise in Goodfella's "There was nothing we could do about it."

In the golden era of Big East basketball (the mid 1980's), Walter Berry could not be checked. He only played two years ; the first,we went to the Final Four,the second, he won the Wooden Award as the nation's best player.

The only person with a similar resume is the actor John Cazale (Fredo in the Godfather). Cazale appeared in only 4 or 5 movies, but each received an Oscar nomination for best picture. (That is the only think Fredo & Walter have in common.)

My favorite Walter game? That's easy. It was down in DC, in the Capital Center against Georgetown. There was this sequence where Walter blocked three shots in a row on the same Hoya possession; each block was met with a wave of euphoria. The end result: we beat Georgetown, and the commuter school in Queens was the undisputed # 1 college basketball team in the nation.

Down goes Georgetown. To a Redmen fan, those were the three sweetest words in the English language. To the victor goes the spoils, but who knew that would include a visit from the leader of the free world?

The Prez Comes to SJU

After beating Georgetown,and becoming #1, the Redmen owned the city. It was the hotest ticket in town, and this is before most of the city had cable, so you had to go to bars to watch a lot of games.

Right in the middle of our 19 game winning streak, President Reagan decided to honor the biggest Catholic University in the nation by giving a speech on Campus. Reagan's speech was a shout-out to the Redmen, and the team gave him a replica of the famous Louie sweater.

Reagan was greeted with love and enthusiasm by the students,which was not surprising. You see, at commuter schools, the students work & go to school. There's no time for flag burning, Fidel worshiping, and senseless protests. These kids were true "Reagan Democrats" and the reception they gave Reagan touched him deeply. So much so that Reagan wrote about it in his diary. Think that would have happened at Yale?

End of the Magic Ride of 84-85

You know how the season ended; we lost to Georgetown in the Final Four. Villanova went on to beat Georegtown in the Finals. Thompson put a box and 1 on Mullin,and we could never get going. Mullin scored 8 pts., it was the first time he did not reach double figures since he was in the womb.


One quibble: why would you put St. John's and Georgetown on the same side of the bracket so they would meet in the semi-finals? They were #1 and #2 all year. Its like having a boxing tournament that matched Ali-Frazier in one semi and Wepner & Quarry in the other.

Post 1985-Still Excellent

Even after 1985,we were a dominant force. In 1986,we were a number one seed,Walter was the best player in the nation, and we won the Big East Tournament. In 1987, we had the most exciting team we ever had, with Mark Jackson leading the fast break to perfection.

Up to the early 90's we still held the fort; we were ranked as high as # 5 in 1991, and lost to eventual champion Duke in the Final 8.

But then two things happened that changed St. John's basketball forever: (1) Looie retired; and (2) we lost our identity.

Bye-Bye Looie, Hello Redstorm, Goodbye To All That

Looie retired in 1992. At the time of his retirement, he was already in the Hall of Fame. He turned the reigns over to Brian Mahoney, who was Looie's top assistant for 18 years.

Like Robert Wagner and Rob Lowe, some people are destined to be # 2. Brian Mahoney is one of those guys. He was a helluva recruiter (Felipe Lopez was the most sort after player in the country), but when he finished under 500 for two of his four seasons, he was clipped.

Mahoney was replaced by Fran Fraschilla. Fraschilla could recruit (Ron-Ron Artest & Erik Barkley) and he could coach.

So what happened? He went out and interviewed for the Arizona State job, and went back to St. John's and used the interview to try to get a raise and an extension.

You know how some people can totally misread a situation? That was Fraschillla. Instead of getting a raise, it was hit the bricks time, as Father Harrington gave him a pink slip.

By the way, is "pink slip" still an acceptable term? Is it offensive to any group at all?

Cause when we talk about the demise of St. John's, I don't think it was a coincidence that we started to suck (1994) when we changed names to "Red Storm "from "Redmen".

From the 1920's to 1994,we were universally known as the Redmen. "The St. John's Redmen" Has a hell of a ring to it, no? Who knew that whole time that we were offensive to Indians? If I were an Indian, (I'm not, I'm a Native-American, more on that at some other post) I would be proud to wear a St. John's jersey.

So, after careful deliberation,which included mulling over the names "Foxwoods" & Mohegan Sun", the school settled on "Red Storm." Quick question: What the f**k is a Red Storm? No one knows. I think it was a nuclear holocaust that Reagan came to campus to protect us from.

Finally,if Redmen was offensive to Indians,how come the Syracuse Orangemen did not have to change their name because it is offensive to white people that use tanning salons?

The Devil & Mike Jarvis

After Fraschilla was axed, we hired Mike Jarvis, the coach of George Washington University. This guy Jarvis turned out to be a sleeper cell on a mission to destroy St. John's basketball. I'd sooner be a member of the Derek Jeter fan club than say something nice about Jarvis.

Jarvis achieved a rare trifecta: (1), he could not coach; (2) he could not recruit; (3) he was corrupt.

They guy had no interest in recruiting New York City kids. We should have known, when he coached in DC, all of his players came from Europe or West Africa. He had so little feel with NYC, he could not find Times Square by train.

And the accent. The guy had such a strong Boston accent, he makes Teddy Kennedy sound like he is from Queens. This clam chowder of a coach should have been the dialect coach for the movie "The Departed."

And he was corrupt,too. He paid his players,his sh**ty fu**kin players,and the NCAA sanctioned him and the school.

Below are some of the many nicknames I gave him during his "reign of error":

1) The goofy uncle from a Will Smith sitcom;

2) The red devil paint man;

3)The Providence Friar;

4) The devil in human form;

When we sh**t-canned Jarvis, I jumped for joy.

Plus We Are Jinxed

Since Looie left, not only have we sucked, we have had horrible things happen, like Malik Sealy being killed by a drunk driver, and Jayson Williams deciding to assassinate Gus the Limo Driver. (If I were Jayson's lawyer, I would have pleaded innocent. Gus was shot from 8 feet away,and everyone knows that Jayson's shooting range was only five feet.)

State of the SJU Union

Norm Roberts has been our coach for four years now. Of course,he has a losing record. Yet, when he was hired,he had the perfect pedigree; he was a city kid, and had big time recruiting experience.

But it has clearly not worked out.

When you watch his teams, its like its the first time they ever played with one another. They run around like Ritalin -taking maniacs, with no sense of purpose.


Bringing It Back

We need a coach to led us to the promised land. I have two suggestions: Bob Knight or Danny Hurley.

Knight in New York would be must see TV. He has strong ties to the program too, one of his mentors was Joe Lapchick. When Indiana won the 1979 NIT @ the Garden,he had Laphick's widow accept the trophy. Can you imagine the General at the Garden? Alas,don't hold your breath.

Danny Hurley,on the other hand,has built a national high school power in St.Benedict's in Jersey,he has the connections,and as Bob Hurley's son,he has the pedigree.

All I want is a Big East Tournament where the NYC team is the team to beat. Where the Garden roars with "WE ARE......ST. JOHN'S" just one more time.

Where the UConn jerkoff fans don't overtake the Garden.

Is that to much to ask?

2nd Annual Brooklyn Free Summer Concerts Schedule Review

Betcha by golly, wowYou're the one that I've been waiting for foreverAnd ever will my love for you keep growin' strongKeep growin' strong- The Stylistics

The Prospect Park, Wingate Park & Coney Island Free Concert Schedules are up and running. And once again the Prospect Park lineup finishes third in a 3 horse race.

First, before we get into the analysis, lets hope that all of the Prospect Park performers actually live long enough to perform. Why? Last year, three of the performers died either soon after or on the day of the performance! (Isaac Hayes died a few weeks after, the lead singer of the Dixie Hummingbirds died the day of, and some South African lady died soon after.) With that track record, I was hoping for a lot of heavy metal bands this year in the park.

But alas, once again the music in the Park has been sacrificed at the altar of diversity. As a result, there are only 3 or 4 events that I will attend.

The musical groups in the band-shell this year would make a great Jeopardy category: "Alex, I will take the least known, most obscure music for $200, please." "Answer: What is Celebrate Brooklyn 2009?"

This year I have to hand it to them. For a lot of these acts, I can't figure out what the hell is going to happen.

Example, this Saturday, here is what's on tap:

Saturday, June 20, 7:30 P.M.La Nave de los Monstruos, with live score by Ethel and Gutbucket
Co-presented with
Cinema Tropical.
La Nave de los Monstruos was originally part of the film series “El Futuro Más Acá: The Future South of the Border” curated by Itala Schmelz, Héctor Orozco and Vania Rojas.

Apparently, they are going to show this Mexican Horror Movie that was made in 1959. At certain points, they are gonna have Ethel and Gutbucket play songs, instruments, pots & pans,who knows?

Ehtel is described as the "nation's premier rock-infused, postclassical string quartet". Wow. Who knew they were # 1? I, mean, I knew they were in the top five, but # 1? Does Casey Kasem have a countdown of the nations top rock-infused, postclassical string quartets? I am all ears.

Never knew that Mexican horror movies made before Alaska was a state combined with music by rock-infused postclassical string quartets had such a big following.

Well they don't of course. It's just another example of those in charge of trying to hard to be hip, relevant & diverse.

But you know who has a large diverse following? Donna Summer does. And she is performing at Coney Island (GutBucket will not be on the bill.)

So does Hall & Oates. So does Blondie, with Pat Benatar on the same night. Gladys Knight with the O'Jays, on the same bill. Mountain & John Sebastion and more to be announced at the great venue at Coney Island.

How bout Wingate Park? You get The Stylistics, The O'Jays, Jerry Butler and Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes on the same night! More hits than Wade Boggs.

Wingate always has top caliber acts: Anita Baker, Teena Marie and the great Gospel Singer Yolanda Adams will be an Wingate this year, with more to be announced.

The lesson: Give the people what they want.

Now some of you champions of diversity may think I am close-minded because I have no intention of watching a Mexican Horror movie with music by the legendary Scum Bucket.

But while you are on your blanket sipping white wine pretending how great Scum Bucket is, especially when combined with a post-classical, pre-modern ex post facto string quartet, I will be one of the few white people in Wingate Park singing along to "Betcha By Golly Wow" by the legendary Stylistics.

So save your diversity lectures, OK?

Fat Albert Takes Aquacise Class with the Golden Girls

Out of nine lives, I spent seven
Now, how in the world do you get to Heaven?
Oh, you don't know the shape I'm in- The Band (Richard Manual lead vocal)

Over the last seven years, my weight has had more swings than an epileptic day-trader who mainlines crystal meth. Up a 100 down 80. Up 120. Etc. I am not going to bore you to tears with I lost weight doing x stories. Just some funny ante- dotes.

A week ago, a friend and I began, on the "buddy system", the "Louis Farrakhan Diet".
As you know I will not reveal our friend's name because it violates the legal code of ethics. Just know that he wishes in the future to be called "Not So Big Daddy".

Now you may be wondering; "What is the Louis Farrakhan Diet?"

Basically, you don't count calories, or anything like that. You just look at the food and say to yourself one thing: "If it's white, you know it ain't right."
So, sugar, flour, bread etc. are out.

If this works out, we plan on approaching the Minister of Hate and pitch a diet book. We would have screwy Louie Farrakhan on the cover with me and our friend, all three of us wearing Bow ties and Fez hats.

A key component of the Farrakhan plan is exercise. But I am so garbage, even basic stuff that everyone on this email can do causes my knees to swell larger than Jerry Lewis's head was a couple of years ago.

So its into a swimming pool for now. Ah, the pool, where there is no stress on the joints. If it were up to me, every street in NYC would be filled with 4 feet of water, and I would walk from Seeley Street to Washington Heights three times a week.

Since I am a long time member of the YMCA (not like I have been using the thing, I am the anti-Cal Ripken) I saw they have an aquacise class three nights a week. Perfect for a fella in my current situation.

So last night, I made my aquacise debut. I get to the pool and look in. Its filled with elderly women. By elderly, I mean each one would be able to tell me exactly where they were when the Japanese bombed Peal Harbor. They all sent a salami to their boy in the army. And the music. Helen Reddy "I Am Woman" blared from somewhere.

After confirming with the life guard that this indeed was the aquacise class (if it wasn't and I entered the pool, I may am have been violating federal hate crimes statutes) I quickly decided I was in no current position to not join in.

So I jumped in, which in and of itself caused such a Hawaii Five-O type wave, I half expected Jack Lord to show up in the pool so I would not be the only guy, or the only human being in the pool who did not vote for Mayor LaGuardia.

Although, I was the only guy, I was doing great. The female instructor was outside the pool, on the edge, barking out instructions: "turn this way! "run in place!" etc. I was gaining confidence, cause whenever I looked around, I was keeping up with this pool full of Bea Arthurs.

It was educational. It was fun. And I was doing great. Right? Wrong. All of a sudden, the instructor singles me out and yells "Don't worry sir, you will get handle on this eventually". That was the first of many digs. "Honey next time it will be easier" and the worst one: You don't have to do this one if you don't want to."

I could die. I swear I was keeping up. I felt like telling her "Martha Washington to my left here is not doing the breast stroke, she is having an actual stroke, why don't you focus on her"?

At the same time she was hurling insults at me like she was Bill Parcells and I was a kicker who just missed an extra point, the music keep blaring. Every song, I mean every song, was an anthem to women hood: I Will Survive, It's Raining Men, She's a Lady and of course, I'm Every Woman.

At that point, I had an Epiphany: This Femi-Nazi instructor wants this hour to be an all Golden Girl's Revue. Why else would she f**k with me so hard? Why was no other guy there? Why was every song an ode to/for women?

But you know what, I'm not gonna let her bully my fat ass out of the pool. I'm going to be the Rosa Parks of the Thursday Night Aquacise class.

So if want to see me suffer unspeakable abuse at the hands of a Femi-Nazi and in front of a pool -full of octogenarians , come to the YMCA pool next Thursday night. I won't be hard to spot.