Heroes Of The Week!

Harley Quinn

This week’s Heroes episode will be a prime cut, in accordance with the USDA, the FCC and any other acronym that keeps tabs on taste and flavor. We would like to thank Bob Woodward for his peerless stewardship in the making of this post. We can’t- since he didn’t help- but we would like to.

Go Longhorn! . . . Texas head basketball coach Shaka Smart announced that shooting guard Andrew Jones was raring to go after missing most of the last two seasons due to cancer treatments. Jones was the leading scorer for his team before being diagnosed with leukemia in January of 2018. But even in his wildest dreams, Smart couldn’t have expected what the kid was able to pull off in his return to action on Tuesday night in a win against Northern Colorado.  Jones went for twenty points in only twenty nine minutes in his first game back. It’s only November, but this win goes far beyond the box score or the standings. Because it had absolutely nothing to do with the final score.

Screw Jim Boeheim . . . Was that a little strong? Yeah, but I don’t care. Because Boeheim is one of the reasons I’ve tuned out college basketball. After Syracuse’s putrid performance on Wednesday night- a 48-34 loss to national champion Virginia- Boeheim whined that having to play a conference opponent this early in the season was nothing more than a “money grab” for the NCAA. He conveniently left out the part about how his school has made a habit of scheduling cupcakes early in the season so they can fatten up their record. And ironically enough, he didn’t have a problem with his season opening win last year over Eastern Washington when his Orangemen only gave up, yep . . 34 points. Stories like Andrew Jones get trampled underneath the self indulgent excesses of used car salesmen like Boeheim, who can navigate most any scandal as long as he wins. Explain to me the difference between guys like Boeheim and a crime boss. I’ll wait.

Jesus Chicken Needs A Calendar . . . Any opportunity to mess with Chick-fil-A? I am there. So when the company sent its loyal customers an email celebrating National Sandwich Day and inviting them to come in for the celebration, they forgot the small detail of it falling on a Sunday. The chicken chain is closed on Sundays. I’m just wondering if they’ll keep observing the Lord’s day in the event Popeye’s starts kicking their ass.

Bonus News Item! . . . What’s with all these artificial holidays? Because if there’s one thing this country’s waistline doesn’t need, it’s a day dedicated to sandwiches.

You know how I throw in a WTF story every now and then? Welp, this is every now and then . . . A principal and teacher at Creekside Elementary School in Kaysville, Utah have been suspended after a student marched in the annual Halloween parade . . as Adolf Hitler. But that’s not all! They let the kid march in the parade. But that’s not all! The kid was hailing Hitler as he marched along. But that’s not all! The school insists they thought the kid was dressed as Charlie Chaplin. And okay . . that’s all.

And just to show you that we don’t hold grudges here at Sorryless . . . LeBron James missed the cut last week, but his good deed is better served up late than never. When LBJ was forced to evacuate his home last week during the LA wildfires, he made certain to thank the first responders who were fighting them by sending a taco truck to their base camp.

“It’s an amazing job what they do and their commitment with what’s going on right now,” James said. I was damning him last month, but I’m glad him and his peeps are safe and that he’s on my plus side this week.

And finally, we wrap things up with a Waffle House story that doesn’t involve armed robbery. It’s a story that involves doing the right thing, and a social media storm that actually worked out to everybody’s benefit. Imagine that!

Evoni Williams

Evoni Williams has this dream of going to college. She’s eighteen years old and a waitress at Waffle House, so you know she’s serious about it since the hours are unkind and the work exhausting. Dreams are circuitous in nature, and hers requires an apron and a fifth gear, to which she abides.

So when an elderly gentleman came in and asked for assistance cutting his food because his hands weren’t functioning so well, Williams was on it.

And so was Laura Wolf, who snapped a pic of the moment and posted it to Facebook. Because not every snapshot that goes viral is a gotcha moment. Sometimes a person just gets all wrapped up in the human effort and has to share it with the world.

“It was so busy in here, and she actually took the time to stop and hear what he had to say instead of walking past him. That just meant something to me,” Wolf told KHOU-TV.

The world noticed.

The City of La Marque, Texas awarded Williams with her own day . . .

Bonus News Item! . . . Now that is a holiday worth celebrating.

Williams was then rewarded with a $16,000 scholarship donated by Texas Southern University. And this dream of hers was coming into focus because of a human moment and a snapshot and a collective embrace that refuted the notion that nothing worthwhile ever happens inside the quiet moments.

This special gal happens to be of the opinion that she did nothing special and she said so herself. “It’s something I would do any other day,” Williams said.

Told ya.

And while I have no doubt that it’s something she would do on any other day, I’m really glad she did it on this particular day. When a bystander decided to break into the regularly scheduled life Williams was busy living, and let the world decide as to just how special a thing this was. And when the vote was in, the results were unanimous.

We won.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heroes Of The Week! (World Series Edition)

Roberto Clemente

Montreal has its long deserved World Series title . . . And okay, so this isn’t what happened on Wednesday night. It was the Washington Nationals who actually won the World Series, but Imma stick with celebrating it under the Expos banner. Because this is the 25th anniversary of the baseball strike of ’94, which led to the cancellation of the World Series. It also canceled out a Montreal Expos team that possessed the best record in the game (74-40) when the lights went dark.

The Nationals season could be titled “The Comeback”. They dug themselves out of a 19-31 start to make it to October. After which they came from behind in the eighth inning of their winner take all playoff game against the Brewers to advance. They weren’t supposed to beat the heavily favored Dodgers in the NLDS, until they came from behind and did just that. And then lost three straight games in Washington after taking the first two in Houston to start the World Series, and so everybody figured this was the end of the Nationals magical ride. Because no team had ever won four road games in a postseason series. In any sport. 

When the Astros went up 2-0 in the 7th inning on Wednesday night, it started to feel as if all the crazy chances the Nats had rode in on were about to turn into pumpkins. And then Anthony Rendon turned on a Zack Greinke sinker that didn’t sink, and then the Nationals were coming back again. All the way back. Again. Twenty five years worth of comeback, painted in red, white and sacre bleu.

On the flip side of all that nostalgic feel good, there’s the MLB. Coming off an historic World Series in which the visiting team won every game, you’d think the league would be riding a wave. But you’d be thinking wrong, on account of the fact that most peeps who might have watched, didn’t, since every game lasted longer than a Ted Cruz filibuster. I mean, how in blessed hell do they expect to grow the game when future fans are fast asleep before the final outs are recorded?

Would it kill Rob Manfred to start World Series games at 7 pm on the East Coast, thereby giving kids a chance to stay up and watch? And would it be such a bad thing if they streamlined the bucco pitching change process instead of making each one a five minute commercial break? And how’s about getting rid of instant replay, which is anything but instant and kills the flow of a game? And don’t even get me started on the juiced balls the league went to during the regular season in an inane attempt to make each game read like an NFL score. The bosses seem intent on ruining the qualities that make it unique from any other game. Why?

The Houston Astros have done just about everything right over the last five seasons, following a painful rebuild in the first half of the decade that saw them lose over a hundred games three years in a row. From the ashes of that rebuild came what looked to be baseball’s next dynasty. And it got cooking in 2017 when the Astros won 101 regular season games and then beat three of the best teams in baseball in the postseason (Boston, New York, Los Angeles) to capture their first World Series title. Over the last two seasons, Houston has arguably had the best team in baseball- best lineup, best rotation, best manager- and they just won 107 regular season games to make it three seasons in a row in which they’ve topped the century mark. And yet, that dynasty hasn’t quite happened the way most of us figured it would. Maybe it still happens, as the Astros are early Vegas favorites to win it all next season. But it just goes to show how hard it is to win, in any sport. And maybe Houston never gets its dynasty, but I wanted to take a moment to recognize the damn good baseball they’ve given the sport.

Once upon a time Josh Hamilton was a feel good story. A blue chip prospect, he was selected first overall by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 1999 MLB draft. His life was full of brilliant possibilities when a car accident in 2001 changed everything. It led to Hamilton’s addiction to drugs and alcohol and a spiraling journey that saw three teams cut bait with him before his recovery. In 2008, he landed with the Texas Rangers and it seemed as if all those brilliant possibilities had finally shown up. Hamilton made five straight All Star games, won a HR Derby and an American League MVP. He scored a $125 million contract with the Angels in 2012. But things never reached that zenith again as Hamilton battled injuries and then a relapse. For all intents and purposes, his baseball career came to an end in 2017.

Hamilton was arrested Wednesday on charges of injury to a child- a third degree felony-  after being accused of physically assaulting his 14 year old daughter. And now all those brilliant possibilities he once carried with him feel like they happened a million years ago. And how tenuous a thing it is, to have it all.

And finally, Imma take the way back machine to get to my hero of this particular edition. Way back to 1972 and a baseball player named Roberto Clemente. Born in Carolina, Puerto Rico, he received plenty of push back in his climb to the major leagues on account of the fact he was a black man from Latin America who did not speak English. This was a triple edged sword that he overcame by sticking to the lessons of his upbringing.

It served him well, to the tune of a Hall of Fame career in which he was both a National League MVP and World Series MVP. He amassed 3,000 hits, was a four time N.L. batting leader, a twelve time Gold Glover and a fifteen time All Star. But it was his influence off the field that has resonated.

Clemente became the Latino equivalent of Jackie Robinson, as he was one of the first Puerto Rican born players to reach the majors in 1955. Today, almost thirty percent of the league is comprised of Latin born players.

His work off the field is what lands him in this spot, however. Because Roberto Clemente never forgot where he came from, and he understood his responsibility to those in need. His legendary efforts on the field exist on equal footing with his immense contributions off of it. He spent his off seasons doing charity work, bringing aid and hope to those in need. As a result of his example, the Commissioner’s Award- given to the player who ” . . best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team . .” was renamed after Clemente in 1973.

It was a posthumous undertaking, as Clemente was taken from the world he had given so much to on New Year’s Eve of 1972. He was accompanying a relief mission on a plane he had chartered to Managua, Nicaragua after the capital city had suffered a devastating earthquake the week before. It crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Isla Verde, Puerto Rico immediately after takeoff. So distraught was his best friend and teammate Manny Sanguillen, that he decided not to attend the memorial service. He dove into the waters where Clemente’s plane had been lost instead. His thoughts inside those desperate moments is every bit as relevant almost fifty years later.

We didn’t get nearly enough of him.

 

 

Heroes Of The Week!

Dead Pool

This week’s episode is gonna be short and sweet, seeing as how I’ve been preoccupied with not paying any attention whatsoever to the news cycle. Blissful? Meet ignorance.

And now what I got of the news . . .

The Houston Astros were losers on and especially off the field this week in the aftermath of their now former assistant GM’s bully tactics towards some female reporters. After dispatching the Yankees in the ALCS, Brandon Taubman yelled “Thank God we got Osuna! I’m so fucking glad we got Osuna!”during the postgame celebration. Taubman’s reference was to Astros closer Roberto Osuna, whom the team acquired last season after he had been suspended for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy.

Kudos to Astros manager A.J. Hinch for being the voice of reason and class in the organization. While his organization originally refuted the female reporters’ story, Hinch knew better and said so.

And speaking of lone stars, Harrison Barnes of the Sacramento Kings showed his shine recently when he helped to cover some of the funeral expenses for Atatiana Jefferson. The twenty eight year old Dallas woman was shot and killed by Fort Worth police officer Aaron Dean while she was watching her young nephew. Barnes is tight with his North Texas people, having handed out dozens of Thanksgiving meals last year. He also sponsored a couple of basketball courts at the Mesquite Boys and Girls Club, where he has hosted youth basketball camps. The dude is a slam dunk of righteousness.

In yet another disturbing incident of fan entitlement last week in the Bronx, some Yankees fans went lower than an entrenched incumbent in an election year. First they hurled bottles and souvenir baseballs onto the field after a replay review didn’t go their way. But it didn’t stop there. Some fans decided to hurl insults at Astros starter Zack Greinke as he warmed up in the bullpen. They referenced his mother as well as his battles with social anxiety and depression. What a sad and disgusting spectacle.

Milwaukee police officer Kevin Zimmerman brings more than a badge and his service issued particulars to the job every day. He also happens to bring a heart and soul whose perspective gleans best case scenarios from trying situations. As he did during a traffic stop recently when he came through for a young mother and her three children. Zimmerman had pulled over Andrella Jackson for driving with an improper registration, after which he saw that her young children were not in car seats. Jackson explained that she’d just bought the car at auction, but could not afford car seats for the kids. Zimmerman decided not to issue her a citation . . and then he bought the kids some car seats. That’s called a good day’s work, and then some.

One minute Marlon Anderson was just doing his job as a security guard at Madison West High School in Wisconsin and the next, he was given a pink slip. The reason? Marlon Anderson uttered the N word at a student he was escorting off the school grounds. This unruly student had been calling Anderson every variation of the N word, as well as the slur itself. The security guard, who’s worked for the school for eleven years finally had the shit of this punk’s fit and told him to quit calling him that word. So the school board made sure to punish Anderson since they have a zero tolerance policy, which is just another way of saying they had their heads up their asses and were not bothering with context in the least.

And finally, U.S. astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir made history last Friday when they stepped foot outside the International Space Station, becoming the first women to go on a spacewalk together. 

The dynamic duo spent more than five hours in space; repairing a failed power controller and then working on some ‘get ahead tasks’ for the space station. There was no sign of Sandra Bullock or George Clooney, and there was no need to go looking for ’em. These superwomen achieved a literal top billing, giving wings to some little girl in her backyard with dreams of touching the stars one day.

So accomplished and yet so very humble, they made sure to give thanks to those who came before them.

” . . . we recognize that it is a historic achievement and we do of course want to give credit for all those who came before us,” Meir said. “There has been a long line of female scientists, explorers, engineers and astronauts and we have followed in their footsteps to get us where we are today.”

Now that is what I call girl power.

 

 

 

Heroes Of The Week!

Bat Peeps

These Heroes episodes never fail to prosper four corners worth of kickback on the daily, from bloggers, adult beverage pals and even the unlikeliest of readers. My life is an ensemble of interesting peeps delivering up interesting comments- be they a sugary yea, a disgruntled nay or a curious hey. And as I’ve said before, ‘y’all  make the Heroes posts worth it. Alls I do is serve ’em up, and I am plenty fine with that. Just as I am plenty fine with the decision not to mention Trump in my Friday round table anymore. Because it’s too easy, and I’m easy enough as it is.

And now, let’s get to some of the peeps with keeps . . .

All the Washington Nationals had to do was say goodbye to Bryce Harper in order to get to the World Series? It’s been eighty six years since a baseball team from Washington made it to the Fall Classic. The last time it happened, the Washington Senators lost to the New York Giants in five games. FDR was President, gas was eighteen cents a gallon and Nosferatu, I mean . .Wolf Blitzer had just celebrated his 100th birthday.

As for the team the Nationals will play next week? Welp, my Yankees might have fucked up their chance by not throwing down the dagger in Game 2 of the ALCS. Which allowed Carlos Correa to make my Heroes list two weeks running after delivering on a home run promise to 16 year old Jalen Garcia, who is battling osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. I find the Astros to be highly fucking annoying, seeing as how they seem to have the Yankees number in October. But I simply cannot hold anything against Carlos, you understand.

As for as those fellas in the Association are concerned, I’m not feeling quite so buttercup about my privy. LeBron James became the first NBA player to speak about the Daryl Morey tweet heard ’round the world by saying the Houston Rockets GM was diving in the deep end on matters outside his pay grade. Which sounds disturbingly similar to what Laura Ingraham once said about LeBron in her infamous “shut up and dribble” rant. I wish LBJ would’ve just said something like Hey peeps, I ain’t down with losing the ten percent China is bounce passing our way. At least admit it’s about the money.

The Cherry Hill School District has its mind on the money and its money on their minds. Because they decided to punish kids with lunch debt by excluding them from certain after school activities and class trips. These kids also would face restrictions as to what they could order up at lunch time. And for the high school seniors, well . . don’t bother with your prom plans if your lunch debt has you $75 in the hole, because you might not be allowed to attend anyways. Go Team Spirit!

Big props to the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Department for coming to the rescue of a 3 year old mastiff named Floyd. The boy was out on a hike with his owner when he became fatigued and couldn’t walk any further. So a search and rescue team went and got him, scaling the two mile climb Floyd and his owner had made and bringing him down in a four hour rescue operation. Floyd is doing just fine now, and hopefully his owner is switching to Verizon. (Editor’s Note: Verizon ain’t my carrier).

College football is a religion in the South, but one Alabama student took his psalm reading a little too seriously last weekend. Connor Bruce Croll called in a threat to LSU’s Tiger Stadium during a game between the LSU Tigers and Florida Gators. We’re still not sure as to the specifics of the threat or Croll’s endgame, but it’s obvious he ain’t aware of the legal ramifications that arise when you don’t separate your church business and the state’s business. Which means he probably made his fraternity.

The kids in Wilmette, Illinois, appreciate Alec Childress.

Alec Childress is the great grandson of a slave. When he was fourteen years old, his father left their Mississippi cotton farm to look for work up North, leaving his son in charge. Later on, when his family joined his father, Alec had to go to work as a dishwasher in order to pay for his schooling.

Alec learned the value of hard work and a positive attitude from an early age; a mindset that served him well in his thirty six years of working construction. And just twenty eight days into his retirement, Alec decided he didn’t feel like sitting around at home so he took a job as a crossing guard in Wilmette, Illinois

For the last fourteen years, Childress has been dealing up stories and smiles to go along with his trademark “Peace, I gotcha!”. He has come to own the corner of 9th Street and Lake Avenue, turning an intersection into the heart and soul of a neighborhood.

And so for his eightieth birthday, the neighborhood said thank you by throwing him a surprise party. Yard signs greeted him with “Peace, we gotcha!” and students who had moved on to middle school and high school returned to take part in the festivities. One girl who was off to London for college made it a point to stop by to wish her favorite crossing guard a happy birthday as well. In all, more than a hundred people showed up with cookies and gifts, and plenty of hugs.

“For me to be able to experience that kind of love tells me we have more good in the world than the bad,” Childress said. “It reaffirms my knowledge and belief in people.”

Well, he started it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heroes Of The Week! (Yin/Yang Edition)

 

Constantine

It’s been a meh week for the boss here at Sorryless, what with the requisite aches and pains associated with another birthday kicking my ass. I was able to get back yesterday with my first run of the week, but alas . . the news kept coming and I had bupkis pie. So this week will be somewhat abbreviated as a result.

Imma go with a Cool vs Uncool theme this week and I’m even breaking out my red and blue highlighter for the proceedings. Star Wars Rules: Blue is bueno and red is not so bueno.

The Cleveland Browns went Hollywood with big names and bigger attitudes. They anointed themselves championship contenders before winning a damned thing, and so it ain’t shocking that peeps are drawing a bulls-eye on them now. And if they don’t watch it, they’ll become just the latest team to talk a better game than they ever played. 

The Washington *Montreal Expos* Nationals were 19-31 on May 23rd and the Beltway was calling for the head of manager Davy Martinez. But these dead men walking turned it around and made October, and then they beat Milwaukee in a winner take all wild card game for the honor of being summarily dismissed by the mighty Los Angeles Dodgers. And then Wednesday night happened, with the Nationals spitting in the face of all their past playoff failures. And it’s why more books are written about baseball than any other sport. 

Bedfellows Of Interest- You’re more likely to build consensus among first graders at a pizza party than to get our elected representatives to come together on basically anything. So it was interesting to see this polarity find equanimity (say that one time fast) on the NBA vs China imbroglio. Ted Cruz and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez co-signed a letter to the league, urging them to cease operations in China until the country ends its boycott against the NBA and the Houston Rockets over a pro-Hong Kong tweet by Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey. Eight lawmakers signed off on a letter expressing concern that the NBA’s decision to self censor itself sets a dubious precedent. For a moment anyways, that kids table in Washington was busy making sense. 

Say Anything . . Please?- The NBA and its players are a league that has prided itself in taking on social issues, which makes their radio silence dismaying. Of course, it’s not so simple to cut off ten percent of your revenue (which is what China means to the league’s bottom line). But hey, if they are about being woke . . they wouldn’t exactly go broke by speaking up  in this instance. They didn’t have to defend Morey’s support of Hong Kong protesters, but they could have taken a stand for free speech and canceled their scheduled game between the Lakers and Nets. But they played their game in Shanghai . . . quietly, and now I really don’t care what LeBron and Kyrie and the rest of those guys say about free speech once they return to the states . . because it’s kind of too late. 

Sick Puppy- Twenty two year old Brandon Fleury used thirteen different Instagram accounts to stalk the family members of the Parkland shootings. Using aliases such as Nikolas Cruz and serial killer Ted Bundy, Fleury harassed and threatened these people while also posting messages such as this one. 

“With the power of my AR-15, I take your loved ones away from you PERMANENTLY.”

This creepy little asshole was convicted of interstate cyber-stalking and interstate transmission of a threat to kidnap.He faces a maximum of twenty years in prison, which doesn’t seem long enough. 

Thank goodness we still find peeps like Carlos Correa, who manage to fight the madness of gun violence with soulful deeds. The Houston Astros shortstop recently donated $10,000 to the family of a Texas Sheriff’s Deputy who was shot and killed during a traffic stop last month.

Sandeep Dhaliwal was a ten year veteran of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, and its first Sikh deputy. Dhaliwal was walking back to his vehicle to run a background check on the occupants of a vehicle he had stopped when Robert Solis, 47, removed himself and approached the deputy from behind, shooting him in the head. Solis had been wanted on a parole violation and now faces capital murder charges.

Dhaliwal left behind three children and a wife, not to mention a community that was devastated by his loss. Here was a guy who was the embodiment of an American dream, having become the first sworn officer in Harris County to wear a turban. He was taken down in yet the latest horrible example of what America has become.

So Carlos Correa decided that he could write some small and positive meaning into how this latest tragedy will be remembered. And it wasn’t just money that he gave to this young family. It was the smiles he elicited when he met with them. It was the hugs he received when he talked about feeling a kinship with Dhaliwal after he learned that the deputy had gone to Puerto Rico- Correa’s birthplace- in 2017 to help in the recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria.

The author James Baldwin believed that we can change our prevailing reality in millimeters. His idea was that if we might attain the hardest earned goodness in miniature, it still counts for everything. It’s in the smallest things, the quietest moments that you change the day someone walks through, the thoughts someone possesses.

That’s how you change the world

 

 

Heroes Of The Week! (800lb Gorilla Edition)

Buffy

This week’s heroes is going in a slightly different direction. Don’t blame me, it was corporate’s idea. They’re pushing for expanded lines in lieu of a compromised inventory of worthwhile news. And I can’t says I blame their shell game, seeing as how Congress has been using the model to great success forever.

So this week, without the empirical . . Imma go satirical. But only with the zeros, since the heroes in my list are too good to mess with. And no . .  Trump ain’t invited, because as we are all aware, when you add satire to the satirical, you get insanity. And the world ain’t need more crazy.

And now the news . . .

Nathaniel Collier is honing his skills as a future politician by selling beer for seventy times the ticket price. The bogus beer man charged two fans $724 dollars for a couple pints at Hard Rock Stadium last Sunday during the Dolphins scheduled loss against the Chargers. Collier was arrested on charges of grand theft, using a skimming device and attending a Dolphins game. The fan took the incident in stride, “It was still a bargain compared to what I paid for the tickets,”.

When I write these posts up, I’m always on the lookout for something I’ve never felt before. And Chloe Dorsey paid me in full with her superwoman exploits at a state park. The Georgia woman was out for a run when she spotted a deer that was stuck in a metal fence. So she bent the bars to release it . . because of course she can! After running a few hundred feet, the deer got stuck in another fence. And Imma include the video, because it speaks to the fight we need to keep on pushing and the love that fuels the try.

Last Saturday, an unidentified woman climbed over a safety barrier at the African lion exhibit inside the Bronx Zoo and began taunting one of the lions. In the video, the unidentified woman appears totally ignorant as to the job description of the king of the jungle. “I love Lion King as much as the next guy, but people have to realize it’s not real life, for fuck sake!” Said the perplexed lion. “I’ve seen a lot of crazy shit since I moved to New York, but that takes the cake,”

The St. Louis Blues sure know how to close. First they delivered up the franchise’s first Stanley Cup last June, and this past Monday they moved the ice onto Laila Anderson’s ring finger. The club made their super-fan a special part of their title run last spring as she battled HLH, a rare auto-immune disease. And so the victors spoiled their special lady with a 10.6 carat championship ring as a way of saying thanks. This Laila really brought the guys to their knees.

Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam Jr. has resigned after pleading guilty to stealing more than $87,000 from a youth basketball program he co-opted . . co-founded. U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito says Gilliam used donations made to AC Starz to fund a lavish lifestyle that included, “designer clothing, expensive trips and vacations,”. Gilliam’s lawyer insisted that his client never attended an NBA game with the funds, saying “he felt that would be ironically reprehensible,”. New Jersey governor Phil Murphy was said to be ‘shocked’ by the story, as it appears he was unaware Atlantic City had a mayor.

In September 2018, Amber Guyger shot Botham Jean dead when she mistook him for an intruder. Guyger had entered the wrong apartment, after which the Dallas police officer used deadly force on the twenty six year old accountant who was born in St Lucia and worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers.

On Wednesday, Guyger was sentenced to ten years in prison for Jean’s murder; a sentence the victim’s mother found difficult to accept, saying that her son’s life “was worth more than ten years,” The sentiments were completely understandable, coming from a mother who had lost her pride and joy in such a senseless way.

Eighteen year old Brandt Jean’s response was extraordinarily different, and it provided both a poignant final chapter to a tragic story as well as questions as to how much time Guyger might serve in prison.

When delivering his impact statement to the court on Wednesday, the brother of Botham Jean chose forgiveness.

“I wasn’t going to ever say this in front of my family or anyone, but I don’t even want you to go to jail,’’ said Brandt Jean, who, at 18, is 10 years younger than Botham would have been now. “I want the best for you.’’

He then asked the judge for permission to approach Guyger, after which the two engaged in a prolonged embrace. The gesture brought sobs from those in attendance and provided the kind of lesson you just don’t see much of in this world. Here was an eighteen year old kid who didn’t lash out in anger, who didn’t embark on a vitriolic rant directed at the individual who murdered his older brother. Instead he chose what has become the path of most resistance in these modern times: Compassion. And if it can happen inside this most extraordinarily tragic circumstance, it makes you wonder.

What’s the world’s excuse for not trying?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heroes Of An Echo’s Strength

 

Pat Tillman

 

And I have nothing to give . . .except this gesture, this thread thrown between your humanity and mine: I want to hold you in my arms and as your soul got shot of its box of flesh to understand, as you have done, the wit of eternity: its gift of unhinged release tearing through the darkness of its knell.

The Dead of September 11th (Toni Morrison)

History books provide lessons, sans the muddy footprints. They present a narrative on the destructive nature of hatred, but only those who live through that history can truly speak to its ghastly dimensions. Eighteen years have removed us from that clear blue sky morning when American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center and changed everything. 

We are eighteen years removed from United Airlines Flight 175 banking hard and ramming into the South Tower and providing us with the horrible answer to all our many questions. Eighteen years removed from American Airlines Flight 77 breaching the west wall of the Pentagon. Eighteen years removed from Flight 93 plowing into a field in Pennsylvania as fighter jets raced to intercept its final destination.

The following are but a few of the mighty answers to the evil that men do. I chose stories that I’ve written on and read about, stories that moved me to tears and stories that left me knee deep in thoughts about forever. Stories whose afterglow provides me an eternal warmth.

Betty Ong and Madeline Amy Sweeney were the flight attendants on Flight 11 that morning. In the face of unimaginable horror, these two women managed to contact the airlines and thus provide authorities with crucial information on their attackers. And they stayed on the call from around the time their plane was hijacked until it lost signal moments before the attacks began.

Wherever the city needed him, that’s where you could find Father Mychal Judge. And that Tuesday morning was no different, as he arrived at the Trade Center shortly after the first plane hit. The NYFD Chaplain entered the North Tower with firefighters and rescue personnel, intent on climbing those stairs right along with them. He was killed by an avalanche of debris when the second plane hit.

Welles Crowther was an equities trader who was working on the 104th floor of the South Tower that morning. He called his mother after Flight 175 struck the South Tower to let her know he was okay. A volunteer firefighter, he had designs on joining the FDNY one day. September 11th became that day, as Crowther descended twenty six stories to the sky lobby, where he directed people to the one working staircase and then delivered them to firefighters before heading back up to save more. “The Man in the Red Bandana” is believed to have saved as many as eighteen people. Inside his final moments, he realized his dream so that others might live.

As head of corporate security for Morgan Stanley, Rick Rescorla had warned his company about the security weaknesses at the Trade Center. So when he was told by the Port Authority to keep all employees at their desks, he told them in no uncertain terms to “piss off”. After which he went about saving more than 2,700 people. He made it all the way down to the tenth floor of the South Tower with survivors, before turning around and heading back up for more. His body was never found.

At the Pentagon, Army Spc. Beau Doboszenski was working as a tour guide on the opposite side of the Pentagon when the building was hit. The massive structure is a city unto itself, so Doboszenski didn’t even realize there had been an attack initially. But the former volunteer firefighter and trained EMT sprang to action when a Navy captain asked for anyone with medical training. He ran around the building but was prevented from entering by police, so he gave first aid at a medical triage station. Later, he was part of a six man team that went back in to look for survivors, with the building still in flames.

It was due to the efforts of survivors and first responders that so many of the injured were able to make it outside of the Pentagon. That’s where Lieutenant Colonel Patricia Horoho went to work. Armed with nothing more than a first aid kit initially, Horoho tapped into her experience in burn care and trauma management. She cared for seventy five people that day.

The passengers and crew of Flight 93 knew full well they were not making it to Wednesday. They’d learned of the plot through friends and loved ones, which is when they decided to take matters into their own hands before the hijackers could deliver another wicked payload into another national landmark. And their actions speak not to some politicized t-shirt slogan, but to the better angels in us all.

The better angels are what Luis Alvarez believed in, because to believe otherwise would have been to leave his fallen brothers behind. And it was the fight in him that prevailed over that hopeless pit at Ground Zero for months on end after the attack; a painstaking search for any simple thread of humanity inside that hell on earth. And he would keep on fighting, into the final days of his life, along with Jon Stewart, to invoke that humanity on all the simple minds who prefer to forget.

Pat Tillman refused to forget. The California kid who busted it to get the last remaining football scholarship at Arizona State in 1994, was full of plans that were bigger than his 5’11” frame. And it was destined, really, that he would excel at college ball and get a shot at the NFL. He was picked by the Arizona Cardinals with the 226th pick in the 1998 NFL draft, and he was so thankful for the opportunity they had given him that years later, he turned down a big contract offer from the St. Louis Rams. Out of loyalty. Who does that?

Pat Tillman, that’s who. Because the kid never met a promise he wouldn’t keep, or a cause he wouldn’t stand behind. A gritty, hard nosed linebacker, Tillman was making an NFL life for himself when September 11th happened. And never mind that he was thousands of miles removed and times zones away . . because to Pat, Manhattan and Virginia and Pennsylvania were every bit as much his home as the place he laid his head. And all those people lost, his neighbors.

So the kid from central casting who was busy making bank playing the game he loved, decided to enlist in the Army. And dammit if he missed the fucking memo about athletes being self absorbed jerks. And dammit if the world is not the most unfair thing, because the kid from central casting didn’t make it home. And dammit but those numbers lie, because the casualties did not end at 2,977 on Tuesday, September 11th. Those numbers keep crawling upwards, like a furious rage of ivy into a sleepless sky.

Maybe there is no rectitude to the catechisms. Maybe faith is found inside the footprints of those who prosper the darkness so that we may gain the light.