Sunday, August 9, 2009

Remember 2 Remember

Technology brings everything to our fingertips, which is great. The problem is that our brains can only retain so much information. As a result a lot of important people and events are forgotten, lost, underrated or misunderstood. Here are some that have slipped through the cracks that I think are worth mentioning. I include some links if you want to copy & paste.

Moses Malone

Whenever the greatest centers are discussed, his name is never mentioned. That's a big mistake. In his prime, he is in the top 5-7 centers who ever lived. Relentless rebounder, great feet, and was the missing piece for what was in my view the greatest one year team ever: the '83 Sixers. Oh, he was the best offensive rebounder EVER.

Charles Lindbergh

One of the most amazing lives in the history of the world, and no one mentions him any more.

He was at one time the most popular person in the world.

Later on, he was the most hated person in America.

In between, he was involved in the trial of the Century.

Consider the following: when he became the first person to fly across the Atlantic, because of recent developments in telecommunications, he became the first person in the world to achieve the type of fame that we see nowadays. Parades were held for him all over the world. In NYC, his parade was probably the biggest in City history. Even in Brooklyn, a quarter of a million people turned out to greet the returning hero in the Parade Grounds- still the biggest crowd ever @ the Parade Grounds.

His every move was tracked, his very name (Lindy) was one of the most popular names given to babies in 1927-28, and he was all of 25 years old.

He had no privacy, and found solace in flying.

If his story ended there, it would still be amazing.

But there were still momentous twists and turns to come.

He moves to Jersey, where his infant son is tragically kidnapped and murdered. The resulting trial was called the first "Trial of the Century" and resulted in the controversial execution of Bruno Hauptman.

Lindbergh convinced that his son's death was a by product of his outrageous fame, retreated into isolation and was not heard from publicly for years.

But on the eve of WWII, the Golden Eagle broke his silence as a spokesman for the "America First" Committee. This group wanted America to stay out of the war, and it had as its members young men in their 20's and 30's who would later be President of the United States (Gerald Ford) and a Supreme Court Justice (Potter Steward). Lindbergh resigned his commission as a Colonel in the U.S. Army Air Corp. and gave speeches as a private citizen urging America to not get involved in the conflict. His speeches were heard by millions.

FDR as he was preparing the nation for war, saw Lindbergh as a tremendous threat.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Lindbergh overnight became the most hated man in America. He was judged as a Nazi sympathizer-anti Semitic.

He wanted to rejoin the Army Air Corp, and serve, but FDR refused.

He eventually found a way to serve by conducting highly dangerous aeronautical experiments for aviation companies.

After the war, he was a pioneer in the environmental movement. He died in Hawaii in 1974.

An amazing American life.

Emanuel Celler

He was a Congressman in Park Slope for half a century- (1924-1974). He was indispensable in passing LBJ's Civil Rights Bills. If you go to youtube, you can find LBJ signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964. You will see Johnson using a lot of different pens to sign the historic legislation. After LBJ signed the bill with his first pen he turns his head over his left shoulder and yells "Manny!" and gives the first pen to Cellar. Wonder where that pen is now?

Roy from Benny's

Roy is unforgettable. A bunch of us were sitting on a stoop last Saturday and we were swapping Roy stories. What laughs we had. Roy was a man untouched by modern-America's malady known as political correctness. He addressed kids in the neighborhood not by their name, but by a name that would be putting down their ethnic group. But no one complained. We never even thought about it. It was a different time. Plus, the guy had a heart of gold. (One story that was told involved cops looking for a couple of local kids, and Roy hid them out in Benny's bathroom.) He was gone way too soon, and with Roy behind the grill, each meal you ordered came with a free side of cigar ashes.

Dick Young

The greatest sports columnist of my youth. Wrote for the Daily News for 30ish years ans then jumped ship to the Post. His "Young Ideas" column was the first thing I would read every morning. He singlehandedly led the movement that made Tom Seaver request a trade, hated radio and TV reporters so much that he would curse into their microphones to make their tape unusable, and had someone who reads this ejected from a box seat (but not the stadium) at Shea.

Mavis Staples

I love female r&b singers from the 60's and 70's. Saw her at a free concert in Battery Park two summers ago. Her voice is still amazing. Did you know that "The Weight" by the Band and "Slippery People" by the Talking Heads were both written and performed with the Staple Singers approach to vocals in mind?

Minnie Riperton

What happened to Minnie Riperton should not happen to anyone. Whether with the hippie group Rotary Connection, or her own records, she had the voice of an Angel. I am especially partial to her music because I have a difficult time getting sleep so I throw on the Bose Headphones with her music @ night and its dream -like quality tricks me into believing I am sleeping. Life is not fair: she died 30 years ago from breast Cancer at age 31.

Walter Berry

I don't care that the NBA did not work out for him, he is still one of the greatest college basketball players I have ever seen. If you can show me a college basketball player with better low post moves than Walter I would be surprised. Very surprised. I also like that three years ago at the Garden we had a St. John's homecoming weekend, I was there with about 5,000 others, and Walter kissed every nun in the Garden.

Joe Morris

The '86 Giants were filled with such such strong memorable personalities, it seems like "Little Joe" falls through the cracks. He may have been only 5'7, but he ran like a wrecking ball. His 1,500 rushing yards were indispensable to the happiest championship of my lifetime- the '86 Giants. The Giants ran this play to the left that year, it was a sweep or a toss and had so many moving parts to it, that Bill Parcells said last year that in modern football you cannot run that play because it takes to long to teach. As for Joe, nowadays he works each Giant home game as the "uniform police" for the NFL, making sure that players have jersey's tucked in etc. A lot of modern players make fun of Joe in his current job, ignorant of the fact that he accomplished more in his career than 95% of them will achieve in the same chosen profession.

Carl Banks

If the mid 80's Giants linebackers were The Beatles of linebackers, than Carl Banks was the George Harrison to Carson & Taylor's Lennon &McCartney.
Did all the dirty work, covering tight ends while hardly rushing the passer. I have heard that he practiced as hard as he played and his battles in practice with Mark Bavaro were epic battles being two fierce competitors.

Art Rust Jr.

Before Mike and the Mad Frog, 24 hr sports radio, and ESPN, there was Art Rust Jr. He hosted a Sports talk show on WMCA & WABC. It was new, unique and dignified compared to now. The phrase "first time long time" was never heard and I used to enjoy listening and calling the show. I believe Arthur George Rust Jr. is still alive, and lives in Manhattan.

I have no Art Rust clip, but see if you can count how many times Mike Francesa tells us he loves Brandon Inge.

Rick James

Most people see him as a punchline from a Dave Chapelle skit. In reality, he was a super-talented musician and songwriter. Did you know he was in the same rock group as Neil Young? (The Mynah Byrds). Forget the hits you all know. Listen to his album "Street Songs". His unique use of horns, his love song to marijuana, ("MaryJane") his duets with Teena Marie, his fusion of what he called "funk & roll" make him much more than a punchline. Plus the song he wrote for and sang on for the Temptations "Standing At The Top" was a cautionary tale of the rise & fall of soul singers like David Ruffin and even James himself.

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