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Heroes Of The Week!

The Olympics, Jesse Owens, The Munich Massacre, & Hitler

With the Olympic games officially in the rearview, it’s back to the regular grind of good meeting better for this Friday the 13th episode. And as per usual, there is plenty of both to fill us up for our ride into the weekend. This week’s roster was a convergence of sadness and hope, heaven and . . . Kevin Costner? . . well, sort of.

The image above commemorates the 85th anniversary of Jesse Owens winning four gold medals in the 1936 Olympic games in Nazi Germany. With Adolf Hitler looking on, the track and field legend stood tall in the face of evil. Many credit Owens with delivering a blow to the myth of Aryan supremacy. Michael Wilbon opined that the further away from this defining moment we get, the fewer people remember how very important it was. We can’t accept such a fate as that, we just can’t.

Let’s get to Friday . . .

Modern Family' star Julie Bowen helps save NJ woman on hike

Many of you (yours truly) may know Julie Bowen as the hot mama from the long running show Modern Family. Welp, she made news recently after coming to the aid of a hiker along Utah’s Arches National Park trail. The hiker, Minnie John, had started feeling dizzy as she set off with her husband and son, so she told them to carry on without her. As bad luck would have it, she lost consciousness once they were out of sight, falling to the ground and bashing her nose.

As very good luck would have it, that’s when Bowen and her sister Annie- a doctor- happened along.

“All I remember is sitting there with my head in my hands secure on the rock. Next thing I hear someone with a familiar voice kept asking me questions. I wondered if I might be watching TV,” she wrote. “My eyes were closed and they said I will be fine and they were cleaning my face and bandaging me up. I heard that familiar voice saying I am going to be okay, a doctor is cleaning me up.”

Score another one for mom.

What Yankees thought about 'Field of Dreams' atmosphere

Thank you to the MLB for having a clue about something. The sport that has effectively been stripping its unique patina from the former national pastime in favor of progress (translation: greed) went back to class last night. Across nine innings, the sport returned to its golden age as the Yankees and White Sox played a game in the cornfields of Iowa. The “Field Of Dreams” game in Dyersville, Iowa- near the site of the iconic motion picture of the same name- became the first MLB game ever played in the state.

It began with Kevin Costner walking out of the cornfields to get the festivities started and it ended with Tim Anderson of the White Sox smashing a two-run homer off Zack Britton to win it 8-7. In between, it was an old fashioned slugfest with a hand operated scoreboard and throwback uniforms and an idea whose time has finally come. After seeing the enthusiastic reception, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the game will return to the site. So basically, they built it . . and they will come back.

I’m not sure if it was heaven, but I’m thinking W.P. Kinsella was keeping score from above.

To paraphrase the great William Butler Yeats . . there are no strangers here, only a group of individuals who haven’t saved your life just yet. Which is what happened when a woman’s car plunged off the Eau Gallie causeway and into the Indian River in Melbourne, Florida in the early morning hours of July 21st.

Upon witnessing the car lose control, flipping upside down into the water, a couple pulled to the side and gave chase on foot. While the woman called police, the man jumped in the water and kept the driver’s head above water best he could until officer Peter Dolci arrived. After extricating her from the vehicle, the couple, along with officers Dolci and Luke Drummer administered CPR. Check out the police bodycam footage above, because it speaks to how precious every human life truly is; and how hard people, even complete strangers, will fight to keep that light from being extinguished.

Waitress in Tears After Receiving Thank You Note From Widow Eating Alone

Kindnesses are like wildflowers. They color our world while reminding us that beauty is everywhere if we just stop to take a breath and drink it in. Such was the case for Megan King- a waitress at Perkins- who took a few minutes out of her busy day to talk with an elderly woman who was dining alone.

“She [the customer who left the note] came in about halfway through my 17-hour shift, and it was on Sunday, which is always pretty busy,” said King. “About halfway through her meal, it started to slow down so we chatted for a few minutes. Small talk, nothing too deep. She told me she was almost 70 and has been slowing down a bit,”

Once the woman had left, King retrieved the check and her tip, beside which was a handwritten note which read as follows . . .

Thank you very much for your kind service. This was the first time eating out alone since my husband passed. I was hoping I could get through it.

Needless to say, Megan needed a minute. She excused herself from the floor and she did what any of us would have done in the same situation. She cried, hard. And after taking a few deep breaths, the great big world outside was feeling more like a hug than a hot mess. Because the greatest thing about being kind?

You get it back.

Martha Tucker, 94, trying on a wedding dress for the first time.

Martha Tucker was twenty four years old when she met a man who made her feel as if she was dancing on the moon. To be young and in love would seem to be a gift sent from the stars above, excepting for the fact she was a black woman living in the deep south at the time.

In 1952 America, like most black people, Martha found herself on the outside looking in. She married Lehman Tucker in Birmingham Alabama, without ever stepping foot into a bridal shop as a result of segregation laws.

Martha and Lehman Tucker after they were married.

“During that time, we couldn’t just walk in those stores,” She says. “I tried not to think about buying a wedding dress because I knew I wouldn’t even be allowed inside. I was very upset about it, but it’s not like there was anything I could do.”

A dream denied, but never forgotten. It was that dream that came back to life recently as Martha was watching the wedding scene from the 1988 movie Coming to America with her granddaughter Angela Strozier. She confided that it had always been her dream, to be able to try on a wedding dress.

“I never thought of my grandma’s dream of wearing a wedding dress because I didn’t even know it was a dream they were denied,” Angela said. “Women like my grandmother sacrificed so much for us to have the liberties we have now. For someone to be denied the simple opportunity of purchasing a dress of her choice really shone a light on the reality of our history,”

Martha Tucker being fitted into her gown, veil and garter belt.

On July 3rd, the ladies went to brunch before heading over to David’s Bridal in Hoover, Alabama. That’s where Martha Tucker turned back time, sixty-nine years worth of time, when she donned a V-neck gown with embroidered sheer sleeves and sequins throughout. And then she walked down the hallway, imagining Lehman by her side even though she lost him to a heart attack in 1975.

For a moment in time, this moment, she was that twenty-four year old girl holding forever in her arms. “I wish he was here to see me in the dress. When I got married, I promised myself I would wear a wedding dress one day, and at least I finally did.”

Love always wins.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZRn4auk4PQ

Clowns To The Left Of Us, Danger To The Right

Is it possible to have too much information at your fingertips?

The question came to me as I was watching two sports analysts go at it on a debate show recently. The topic of conversation had to do with the best NBA player of all time. This isn’t something the vast majority of the population gives a flying Wallenda about, to be honest. But these guys deliberated until they had created a dually believable narrative, whittling it into a potent mash. Of course, well enough wasn’t left alone for very long, and as often happens inside this time of nonsense and instability, the shit went south. Further south than a Lynyrd Skynyrd Key West tour.

The succinct nature of their respective points soon gave way to a volatility whose pitch was a bitch, on wheels. And so the evaporative nature of modern discourse held sway until I stopped trying to figure out whose opinion was most valid and started wondering who was going to break out a “Yo mama!” first.

Of course, I recognize that information doesn’t fool people . . people fool people. But armed with enough information, anyone with half a brain can paint their argument into Van Gogh. And half the room will toast the bold and dramatic brushstrokes while the other half of the room reaches for a carving knife with which to cut off their ears.

The touchstone, regrettably, has been bastardized. As if Rob Zombie got hold of the Constitution and turned our fundamental principles into a kill count. Educated opinions have given way to a zealotry that seeks to deify even the most corrupt of men. Meaningful dialogue has been relegated to the ash heap thanks to dissociative politics that attempts to guilt us into confessing to crimes we didn’t commit.

What good is having all this information at our fingertips if we’re going to dis- it and mis- it into an interpretation?

During this sports debate, as the decibel levels increased, so to, did the tells; those easy to miss points of entry that had been glossed over initially were now much easier to hear. Both sides, using their information not as a map, but as a boxing glove with which to punch out their opponent. Much the same way a peaceful transfer of power might stage a coup, or a state might flout the concerns of a pandemic, or a city council might consider me the enemy because I’m an aging white dude.

I don’t know how we can possibly achieve a middle ground, because to quote Buffalo Springfield, nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong. And I have not a blessed answer residing under my cap, except for one.

Michael Jordan . . . duh.

 

 

 

Olympic Heroes Of The Week!

Simone Biles wins bronze medal on balance beam at the Olympics

Of course the lovely Simone Biles is gonna score my billboard capture in this week’s special Olympic edition. Because she just won the best damn bronze medal in the history of ever. After removing herself from the final three events in the women’s all-around last week, her team held on for a silver medal while this young lady held onto her mental well being. It was a win merging with an even bigger win. And it was made all the more beautiful when Simone was the first American to congratulate Russian gymnast Angelina Melnikova after her team won the gold.

And then this week happened and Simone came back. She competed in the balance beam and while she wasn’t quite her championship self, she was plenty good enough to gain the podium yet again. And I have to think this bronze medal is going to mean every bit as much as all the other medals she has earned in her career. Because this one is representative of her every day struggle, where winning and losing take a backseat to peace of mind.

“I was just happy to be able to perform regardless of the outcome,” Biles said. “I did it for me and I was proud of myself for being able to compete one more time.”

The result was worth its weight in gold.

It is the true spirit' - Olympics athletics gold shared for the first time in 113 years

What’s the only thing better than a gold medal at the Olympics? How about two gold medals? That is how it went down when Mutaz Essa Barshim of Quatar and Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy ended up tied in the men’s high jump finals after four jumps each. An Olympic official informed them they had two choices: They could take part in a jump-off, or they could share the gold. Moments later, Tamberi was jumping into the arms of his friend and rival when Barshim decided on the latter.

Barshim explained it this way. “He is one of my best friends, not only on the track, but outside the track. We work together. This is a dream come true. It is the true spirit, the sportsman spirit, and we are here delivering this message,”

A cynic might scoff at the idea that the medal wasn’t settled on the field, but I really can’t blame the guys for choosing to share gold after watching the sheer joy on their faces. Let’s face it, they did something most athletes can only dream about.

They won a tie.

Belarus' Krystsina Tsimanouskaya 'won't return' home after Olympics

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya of Belarus has a story that puts everything in perspective. In her homeland, opposition leaders disappear and dissidents are threatened with assassination. Freedom of speech doesn’t stand a chance in a country that will silence anyone who speaks out about the government’s business in general, or president Alexander Lukashenko in particular. And it is in this vein that Tsimanouskaya found herself in the crosshairs of a “higher up”. And while I’m not saying this individual was the guy currently serving a sixth-term as President, I ain’t saying it isn’t.

The trouble began after the sprinter complained on Instagram that she had been forced to run the 4×400 relay by team officials, even though she had never competed in it before. She was subsequently banned by the team from participating in the 200 meters; a decision she tried to fight legally, but lost.

Tsimanouskaya was then told she needed to take the next flight home, where she would face “punishment” for her outspoken behavior. Thankfully she was intercepted and taken to the Polish embassy in Japan, after which she was flown to Vienna. Upon hearing the news, her husband travelled to Ukraine and hopes to be reunited with her soon. This ordeal has changed Krystsina’s definition of ‘home’.

Now, it’s wherever she can be reacquainted with her family.

Heading into Tokyo, American Lily King was the prohibitive favorite to defend her title as queen of the breaststroke; the defending Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion hadn’t lost the event since 2015.

But that’s why they play the games. Because South African swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker had something else in mind. And if breaking the world record (held by King) wasn’t an expectation, guess what? It happened. As a result, Schoenmaker is bringing home South Africa’s first gold medal in a quarter century.

But the reason this story makes it to Friday is because of what happened next. If you want the cheat code on this video, fast-forward to 2:42 when she touches the wall, followed by King. And then a group hug that reminds us why we watch the games, and why we love them so.

Tokyo Olympics: U.S. Runner Helps Competitor to Finish Line After Fall | PEOPLE.com

Imagine being thisclose to realizing a life long dream, and then in the next moment, it’s gone just like that.

Isaiah Jewett doesn’t have to imagine this scenario, seeing as how he experienced it in the men’s 800 meters. As the runners were kicking up their heels for one final push around the curb, Jewett could feel it. He had a top two run within his reach, which was going to put him in the finals. And then Botswana’s Nijel Amos clipped him from behind and the two men were collapsing to the ground, taking that Olympic dream with them.

“I just felt like when I was starting to lift, somebody hit the back of my heel and that caused me to fall,” Jewett said. “It was devastating. I’m not going to lie.”

Out of this stunning loss came something you can’t practice. When Jewett got to his feet, he helped his opponent up and then the two men embraced as Amos offered his apologies before they set off once again, buoyed by a spirit that defines what these games truly mean. Because while winning and losing belong to the headlines temporarily, sportsmanship has keep. When they arrived at the finish line, Amos yielded so that Jewett could finish ahead of him.

It was the kind of moment not even a podium could top.

 

Heroes Of The Week!

Imma start the weekend off with the story of a realtor named Linda Brown from Springfield, Missouri whose hobby is making a positive difference in the lives of others. Years back, Linda and her husband organized a nightly drop-in shelter for the city’s homeless; it was a place where they could eat, shower and do laundry, among other things. Of course, peeps like Linda always want more . . to do more . . for others.

That need turned into Eden Village, a village of tiny homes that provide permanent housing to the chronically disabled homeless. After raising almost $5 million in 2018, the Browns built this wonderful place on the grounds of an abandoned mobile home property.

Jonathan Fisher is one of the tenants at Eden Village. He battled substance abuse and lived on the streets for two years before meeting Linda Brown and her husband. He looks back on it as the day that changed his life. He’s clean and sober now, and he’s working full-time doing construction and maintenance on the thirty-one homes in the village.

“In the worst moments of my life, Linda gave me guidance, care and made me feel like I was still worth something.” Fisher says. “She helped me to build a better life . . . even when I was struggling with homelessness and sobriety, she showed me I was valuable and that my potential shouldn’t be wasted. She made me feel like I belonged somewhere,”

As far as hobbies go, Linda Brown is killing it.

Fleury staying with Golden Knights after Lehner signs five-year contract

The Vegas Golden Knights played the role of bush league bozos this week after they traded Marc Andre Fleury to the Chicago Blackhawks. They’re not getting a failing grade for trading their netminder, but for how it went down. The goalie who led them to the Stanley Cup finals a couple years ago found out about the trade on Twitter. Lame, Vegas . . . very lame. Of course, since my Chicago Blackhawks are the lucky recipients of a Stanley Cup caliber goalie as a result, I’m grateful that what plays in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas.

Russia shocks U.S. for gymnastics gold after Simone Biles withdraws - The San Diego Union-Tribune

Dear Simone,

You did the right thing, even if there are some who would have us believe you let your team down when you withdrew from the finals. Telling the truth is never defeat, and you proved as much this week. For those who believe differently, I’d like to ask them if they would forego pain medication if they popped their kneecap or pulled a hamstring. Because it’s painfully obvious they don’t believe the brain needs the very same attention as other parts of our body.

All I know is, you’re a champion in every conceivable definition of the word. But as far as I’m concerned, the conversation about Simone Biles begins with all those medals you’ve earned in your young life, but it doesn’t end there. Not even close. Because you are so much more than an Olympic gold medal winner and a World Champion. You are so much more. And you just proved it.

We love you

Truffles the kitty.

When Danielle Crull found a stray kitten meandering through the woods almost four years ago, she had no idea the impact this little lady would have. All this time later, the optician and owner of A Child’s Eyes in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania is well aware of the gift she received in that forest. Because Truffles has become so much more than a favorite child to Danielle; she has also become a valued partner.

Truffles comes to work with her cat mama every day, complete with a loving personality and a cool pair of specs. She has more than twenty pairs, but if you asked her to decide, she’d go with the green ones (pictured above).

“She is literally magical with little kids,” Crull says. “It takes me at least half an hour to try and get to know them so they realize I’m not something to be afraid of, and Truffles will come strutting out from the back as if she knows exactly when I need her help.”

These two are purrfect for each other.

Airport pianist Tonee Valentine gets $60,000 in tips after Instagram influencer Carlos Whittaker records him playing - The Washington Post

There’s a theme we’ve been surfing on at Heroes for the past several weeks. It involves chance meetings, and the contagious spirit borne inside these simple twists of fate. In a world where most of the news deals in strikeouts, it’s nice to read about life serving up a home run ball.

Tonee “Valentine” Carter is a pianist whose fingertips will take you on a ride the likes of which Jeff Bezos can only dream about. He does his thing in Concourse A of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, performing for an international audience for tip money.

A professional musician, Carter knew what his life was going to look like when he was all of six-years old and his father brought him to see the great Ray Charles. He has played in bands and worked on cruise ships, traveling the world and sharing his gift with every corner of it. In 2008, he was diagnosed with severe kidney disease and had to put his traveling shoes on the shelf. Since then he’s been playing the lights out in A-Town, with a tip jar riding his piano for passersby who dig on the vibe he supplies.

Carlos Whittaker says he likes to use his social media following to help other people.

Carlos Whitaker is a motivational speaker who was having the kind of moment that tests his expertise. His speaking engagement had been canceled and he was waiting on his flight back home when Tonee Carter’s music changed the day he was walking through. When Whitaker noticed there was no money in the tip jar, an idea came to him.

He took to Instagram with a couple of videos of Carter doing his thing and then he asked his “Instafamilia” to help give the pianist the biggest tip he’d ever gotten. Within thirty-minutes, $10,000 had been raised and before all was said and done, that biggest tip ever had grown to $61,000.

The good will shown to him left Carter humbled and in tears. After which he said the first thing he was going to do was get an oil change, because . . priorities. And after that? Well, since he claims the money is “not mine”, he’s going to spread the love by paying it forward. By giving, as good as he got.

Atlanta airport pianist earns $83,000 in tips after video shared to Instagram

I have to believe this story is further evidence that humankind’s demise has been greatly exaggerated. It is a sweet counter to all the news that’s print in fits, a chance meeting that lets us know we don’t have to let the purveyors of a skull and cross bones mythology write our epitaph.

Because in between all this living and breathing, we also love and laugh and celebrate and inspire . . . and give. Ours is a currency that will never go out of circulation, ours is a mindset that will never prove obsolete, ours is a spirit that will come for the music.

It will stay for the song.

Heroes Of The Week!

Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr. opened dugout to protect fans | Yardbarker

In this week’s “Four Letter Beasts and Where to Find Them”, I mentioned the heroic exploits of the San Diego Padres. And here’s why. Because when all manner of really bad shit was going down outside Nationals Park in Washington D.C., which resulted in three people being shot, the visiting team was making certain that every fan inside the stadium would make it home.

One minute, the details of a baseball game were all that mattered and the next, people were running for their lives. So Padres stars Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis led them into the visitors dugout, where they would find shelter from an attack.

“The situation changed immediately,” Tatis told reporters. “There’s no longer players, fans. Everybody’s just people, just human beings out there.”

Padres manager Jayce Tingler says he couldn’t be any more proud of his guys, and with good reason. Because while it’s really easy to whittle these athletes down until they achieve the dimension of a baseball card, humanity still counts most of all. And in the darkest of moments, they weren’t playing a baseball game thousands of miles from home.

They were home.

As with many great ideas, when Finnish and Norwegian artists Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth collaborated on a conceptual photography project, they had no blessed clue as to the path it would lead them on. Titled “Eyes as Big as Plates”, it was to be an intepretation of traditional Nordic folklore.

What had begun as a way of fleshing out regional mythology soon turned into something much bolder and far reaching than that. To quote the American philosopher Yogi Berra, when they hit the fork in the road, they took it.

The project is going on ten years now, and it has taken the artists from the United States to Japan, and all points in between. They work with seniors- farmers, artists, plumbers, academics, opera singers, housewives and zoologists-, “dressing” them as sculptural elements of nature. They work with the elderly in order to show us how our cultures have pushed them aside, to our detriment.

It is an immersive exploration that merges fantasy with reality, creating magical translations in the landscapes. The intent is to highlight how vital our living histories are to future generations, and that we shouldn’t dismiss the lessons we can learn. And the fact that they transform the earth into a rendering whose celebration is knee-high to a grasshopper’s moon walk? That’s just bonus round.

Giannis Antetokounmpo wins NBA Finals MVP, dubbed 'new king of the NBA' | Fox News

All this talk about heart and home ain’t gonna be complete until I give a shout out to the Milwaukee Bucks and the other worldly Giannis Antetokounmpo. Their Game 6 win on Tuesday night over the Phoenix Suns clinched the city’s first NBA title in fifty years. It also vindicated a decision Giannis made last year when he re-signed with the team that drafted him. In an age where superstars go ring chasing from one zip code to the next, Giannis declared his loyalty to the team that believed in him from the get, and it paid off in the dream scenario. And so while this Miami Heat fan will always wonder what the big guy would’ve looked like on South Beach, I gotta admit, this story is better. Good for him.

Cyclist donates kidney to complete stranger

Have you heard the one about two guys walking into a bar? Complete strangers, these two, the one guy confides that he’s on dialysis ten hours a night after he went into kidney failure. And get this, the guy he confides in? Offers him a kidney.

Thing is, this isn’t a joke . . it actually happened when Mark Scotch, 64, paid a visit to Natchitoches, Louisiana. That’s where he crossed paths with Hugh Smith, 56, and learned of Smith’s plight. And yes, Scotch let this total stranger know he was all in. But that wasn’t that because after the two men were tested, it turned out they were only a thirty percent match.

Tell you what, happy endings ain’t easy. But as these two would prove, they’re worth chasing, and so the question became, how did Scotch plan on seeing this good deed through? Well, by paying it forward, of course. And so he decided he would donate his kidney to a stranger . . another stranger. Through something called the “Voucher Donor” program, this moved Hugh to the top of the transplant waiting list. And this past February, he got his new kidney. To celebrate, Mark just completed a 1,500 mile bike ride from his home in Madison, Wisconsin to Louisiana in what he dubbed “The Organ Trail”. And at the end of that ride, those same two guys met up in that same bar.

And get this, they’re the best of friends now.

WATCH NOW: Getting brighter - Blood drive held in honor of Columbus girl  battling leukemia | Local | columbustelegram.com

I struggled with this last story, mightily. Because it’s incredibly heart wrenching to read about a six-year old girl who is in the fight of her life, and then you find yourself scrolling through images and you’re crying without even knowing it. But of course you are, because it doesn’t make a damn bit of sense. And so you keep reading, because you have to connect with those smiles . . you have to understand the hope they carry with them, and why.

Violet Jackson is six-years old and she has the kind of smile that could talk the sun into working overtime. Just last month she was diagnosed with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She has been undergoing treatments at Omaha’s Children’s Hospital, where she receives blood and platelets to feed her body since the chemotherapy stunts her blood cell production.

Her sister needed blood and platelet donations to survive. It inspired this  teen to launch a blood drive - CBS News

“I was thankful the blood was available for Violet when she needed it,” said Violet’s mother, Wendy. “And I wanted to pay that gift forward, so I scheduled my blood donation.”

This inspired Violet’s sister Eden to organize a blood drive, and the timing couldn’t have been more vital, seeing as how blood banks across the country have been running on empty since the pandemic. It wasn’t long before big sister had reached goal .  and then kept right on going.

WATCH NOW: Getting brighter - Blood drive held in honor of Columbus girl  battling leukemia | Local | columbustelegram.com

When you come to the end of the story, you pray there is a new beginning and that all those smiles will have been prelude to a dinner table in the distant future; all those same faces, having written chapters of a book that just keeps getting better with time. Their smiles the only evidence of the fight they once shared. Their lives a passage from the long ago pen of Dylan Thomas, come to life once more.

They caught and sang the sun in flight. 

Heroes Of The Week!

Non-Muslims Love Burkinis, But Why? | The Muslim Skeptic

It’s almost the weekend, and with temps soaring across the country, we’re going to take it nice and easy this week. I was going to title this episode as the “Big Chill Edition” but I was afraid it would be mistaken for an ’80’s Movie Trivia post. Which, believe it or not, is not my wheelhouse. Nice and easy? Is.

Let’s get to our lineup . . . .

We storm out of the gates this Friday morning with a story dialed up by the lovely Dale. It’s about a Buddhist daughter and the mother who taught her the most important lesson of all; the one that teaches us how the act of giving replenishes the soul.

It happened when these two decided to sell Joanna Lavelle’s mobility scooter since the ninety-year old mom is homebound these days. And so it was that she got into a conversation with an elderly gentleman who just so happened to be in the market for, you guessed it . . a mobility scooter.

Lavelle just so happens to be a lousy saleswoman, because when she had a chance to close the deal, she let him off the hook . . by giving it to him. Free of charge. Because sometimes the oldest lessons really are the best ones. And this was one . . with everything.

MLB All-Star Game Uniforms Not Drawing All-Star Reviews – NBC Chicago

In honor of the 91st MLB All-Star Game, Imma dish up a traditional double-header of a Yea and a Not So Much. I’ll begin with the latter, which came in the form of those putrid All-Star uniforms that resembled something out of a beer league softball game. Players and fans were in agreement that the uniforms were a bad idea. The sport’s mid-summer classic has long been revered for allowing its players to wear their own uniforms, which creates a beautiful mosaic of unique threads. So of course the MLB, once again, had to play like the other leagues rather than embrace what makes it different from all the rest. How lame.

Live coverage of Shohei Ohtani at the MLB all-star game - Los Angeles Times

Thank the baseball Gods for Shohei Ohtani, who made history by becoming the first All-Star to be tabbed as both a starting pitcher and a position player in the same game. While he went hitless as the American League’s leadoff hitter, he did get the win by tossing a perfect first inning. And big props to AL skipper Kevin Cash (I can’t believe I’m giving props to the Rays here) for understanding the moment and giving Shohei the starting nod.

Amy Polly, Gloria Settelmayer and Amanda Greenberg grew up in the same small town of Goshen Township, Ohio. As the years went by, their relationship grew. In 2017, Polly volunteered to be a surrogate for Settelmayer after Settelmayer had trouble carrying a viable pregnancy. Recently, Greenberg volunteered to do just the same.

Cincy “Beach Walks” Angle makes it back to Friday with a story about family and friends, and how Gloria Settelmayer of Goshen Township, Ohio has merged the two in a very special way. Four years ago, her sister-in-law Peggy made the decision to be her surrogate when it had become painfully clear that Gloria would not be able to have another child. It was a selfless act that is being repeated, this time with her friend Amanda Greenberg. While Gloria and her husband were discussing what to do with their frozen embryos, Amanda made the decision easy.

“You know I’ll carry a baby for you, right?” Greenberg said.

Just like that. Because when people think beyond the constraints of their own little universe, whole new worlds are born. Just ask Gloria Settelmayer. She knows.

We put a bow on this puppy with a love story about a man and his dog. (With yet another HT to Dale for the get).

Brayden Morton from British, Columbia would do anything for his Shar-Pei named Darla, and he proved it recently when she was taken from their home. The frantic dog papa was on social media within minutes, sharing the details of this dognapping, which was shared more than 30,000 times. He also posted a $5,000 reward.

And then he received a call that changed everything. The woman was crying and panicked and it didn’t take long for Brayden to realize she had taken Darla. He reassured her that all he wanted was the safe return of his dog, and so they met up in a parking lot where Brayden was re-united with Darla. She confessed that she had stolen her with a friend in order to collect the reward money to buy drugs.

Morton is a recovering addict who has been clean and sober since May of 2015, so rather than anger, he brought understanding. He offered to pay for her rehab treatment. And while that outcome is still being worked out, there’s even more to this story.

When he met with a tipster who had given him information on another suspect, he learned that the man was homeless. So Brayden paid for a week’s stay at a hotel and when he posted about it on social media, the homeless man was gifted another week’s stay at that hotel, and a job to boot.

You wouldn’t blame Morton for being bitter, but it doesn’t matter because he’s not. He chose hugs over hate, and in a world where it seems as if we have an overabundance of the latter, how can you not love that?

“I would say honestly, more than anything… it was exactly what I needed in my life at that point in time. Those people helped me immensely. [They] really warmed my heart and humbled me,” Morton said. “I’m just as grateful for those two relationships that I made in this whole ordeal and I’m happy that I was able to meet [them].”

When you slow the world down, the lessons are everywhere.

We Have Met The Enemy, And Guess What? . . .

USA Basketball

Time was, it wasn’t so easy to find a professional athlete in the Olympics if you resided on this side of the continent. And call me naïve but I happen to think it was a kitschy involvement worthy of a look.

This was before the cache of commercialism made everybody famous, well ahead of their respective medal quests. Amateurism hadn’t become the longest four letter word in the dictionary just yet. I know, it’s hard to imagine an America where humility and patience were woven into our stuck up blue jeans, but trust me . . there was a time when this country actually had some charm to it.

And then the International Federation opened the floodgates in 1986 when they announced that professional athletes would be permitted in Olympic competition. Of course, the logistical hurdles meant that many countries- including us- were slow to the get. Until our national pride took a hit on the hardwood in the ’88 Summer Games when the Soviets delivered a big fat nyet to our college kids, forcing USA Basketball to (gasp!) settle for bronze.

This turn of events led to the brand serpent known as the “Dream Team”, which featured the greatest collection of basketball talent in the history of ever. It was a roster that began with Magic, Bird and Jordan and just kept on going from there. So basically, the ’92 Summer Olympics in Madrid wasn’t a matter of if USA Basketball was going to take back the gold, but by how many points.

And you can call me un-American if you like, but it was joyless.

Listen, I get why it all went down that way. Teams like the Soviets had been using the professional by proxy method forever, so it was only a matter of time before everybody else got to it. But still, there was something magical about our kids going up against the giants of the sport.

It’s why the classic Al Michaels call at the end of USA 4- USSR 3 is etched into the memory of anyone who watched that hockey game in Lake Placid. Because the impossible actually happened when a bunch of college players took down the greatest (professional) team in the world. Replace those kids with NHL players? Herb Brooks ain’t our Olympic Santa Claus . . Kurt Russell ain’t playing him in a movie and that Al Michaels call never happens.

So here we are, all this time later, playing the role of the Soviets. On hardwood. Because that’s what it feels like after our basketball Goliaths got beat not once . . but twice inside a single calendar week after having lost only two other times in Olympic competition since forever ago.

Nigeria 90- USA 87

Australia 91- USA 83

Two straight losses for the first time ever. And yes, okay . . it’s exhibition games we’re talking in the leadup to the real spaghetti dinner. Still, our collective shrug was their champagne toast at last call. They are naming boulevards and first born’s after the players on those teams as we speak. And good for them, seriously.

Because while I love me some Association, I also feel like we should have let sleeping dogs lie after ’92. I said it then and I’ll say it now. We should have gone back to kids for the summer games after that. I realize this means leaving money on the table, which ain’t something a professional sports league is going to do. But in retrospect, maybe it was short sighted to believe we HAD to keep rolling out a known brand.

I mean, think about it. Those college kids whose skills proved worthy of an Olympic nod would’ve been cashing their NBA checks soon enough. They were the future brand. We could’ve given them the keys to the car after Madrid and not missed a beat. If we lost . . hey, college kids. When we won, hey, college kids!

But nope, we had to bully that pulpit into submission.

Welp, as ancient Rome would tell you . . mighty? is flighty. And just like those Soviet hockey players from back in the day, our NBA guys have become the victims of their own greatness. Winning gold is the expectation, anything less is bupkis cake. And I didn’t even mention the fact that globalization of the NBA allows for the league’s best to play for their home countries, further destabilizing our slam dunk march to the bacon cheeseburger spot on the podium. Which means that even after beating Argentina, whose star player I think is my age, the Americans hold on the gold is still less certain than a Kardashian love thing.

Am I a socialist for loving that?

 

 

Heroes Of The Week!

(The above capture is Harry Kane and his England mates celebrating their 2-1 win in extra time against Denmark. With the victory, England reaches its first major final since 1966. It will face Italy on Sunday in Euro 2020 at Wembley Stadium.)

I figured since I’ve been on summer hiatus, I’d summon up a special sum-sum for this mid-summer morning’s thrill ride through Hero-Land USA upon my return. No zeros . . which means I can’t talk about that dope whose sign wrecked all those cyclists at the Tour De France or those warring ESPN’ers or Trump’s latest lawsuit. And yet somehow . . I’ll think we’ll survive.

Welp, let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming . . . .

Canadiens lose Stanley Cup Final, playing from behind among reasons

We begin with a hat tip to a classic lover letter that played out on ice this summer in Ville-Marie, more commonly known as Montreal. The Habs awakened the echoes of Richard and Beliveau, LaFleur, Plante and Dryden by making it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals. In a season where they were supposed to be happy just to be there, the Canadiens of Price, Caufield and Suzuki did much better than that. And while they fell short of the dream scenario, they reminded us as to why we root so passionately. Because it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you love the game.

Anonymous kindness: Customer leaves $16,000 tip for restaurant employees :: WRAL.com

If ever there was a year that made us eager to turn the page, it was 2020. It was the year that kept on taking, stealing our lives, our occupations . . stealing our everyday. Bars and restaurants across the country can attest to this fact all too well. More than 100,000 of these establishments were forced to close as a result of the pandemic while others are barely holding on. Now multiply that with all the workers whose lives have been turned upside down and you’ll see why this feel good moment made my roster.

It happened at the Stumble Inn in Londonderry, New Hampshire when an anonymous customer left a generous tip on his $38 bill. How generous you ask? Try $16,000 worth of the stuff. Which is going to be split between eight servers now, allowing for bills to be paid and summer vacations to be had.

That’s how you turn the page.

One of the (few) things I learned in my short time as a Boy Scout, was that textbook knowledge doesn’t prepare you for real world scenarios. Acing a test is all well and good, but it’s a controlled environment that presents little challenge to your true mettle. So it is that 15-year-old Dominic Viet and 16-year-old Joseph Diener of Columbia, Missouri can honestly say they’ve passed not only the written test, but the driving test too. Or in this case, the swimming test.

They were passing by a basketball court that had basically been transformed into a water polo swimming pool when they heard the screams of a young woman who was drowning in the flood waters. So, they jumped in. Never mind all the wrong answers that flood waters provide- such as the threat of sunken power lines, sewage runoff and the sheer force of mother nature wreaking havoc. In spite of all that, they were able to pull the woman to solid ground. After which Dom sent a text to his mother that read “Coming home soon, just saved a woman’s life,”.

I think that’s called extra credit.

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter: Love story of the longest married presidential couple

Politics and love don’t usually end up in a story together. Unless you’re Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, who just celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary. The pair have known each other since they were old enough to walk and talk. And they fell in love inside the last days of WW2, when he was 20 and she was 17. Jimmy was home from the Naval Academy and Rosalynn had just completed her first year of college. And while the former President cannot remember the movie they saw, he remembers the only thing that the truly mattered was the girl sitting next to him. In his 1995 memoir, he wrote this.

“I’d pay to sit behind her, blind to

what was on the screen, and watch the image flicker

upon her hair.”

What more can I add? Other than Happy Anniversary, you crazy kids.

Shohei Ohtani pitching and hitting plans for 2021

Okay, how do you know when a player just might be working his way into the pantheon of the all-time greats? Well, when you can say something like “Not even Babe Ruth did that . . “. It’s where the California Angels Mr. Everything, Shohei Ohtani, finds himself these days after being named to the All-Star Game, as a pitcher and a hitter. On the mound, he’s 4-1 with a 3.49 ERA while also hitting .279 with . . are you ready? 32 home runs. He’s staring 10 plus wins and 50 long balls right in the kisser.

Hey Babe, there’s a new Sultan in town and he works on the left coast.

Crews work in the rubble Champlain Towers South condo, Tuesday, June 29, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. Many people were still unaccounted for after Thursday's fatal collapse. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

By now you’ve all seen the sobering images of that collapsed condominium tower in Surfside, Florida. The heart wrenching stories that have followed in the two weeks since this tragic event offer a haunting reminder of just how fragile this thing called life really is.

It is damn near impossible to believe in a higher power at a time like this. And then you start reading about how a community of first responders and volunteers are finding those places in the heart where forever spreads its lonesome wings. These are people who come from every walk of life: From first responders who have shown up at the site every day to volunteers who have taken to renting food trucks to feed them, to sports teams doing whatever it takes to make a difference, to neighbors who have opened their doors to those in need.

Robert Martinez talks with a law enforcement officer after handing him a hot meal from his food truck in Surfside, Fla., Tuesday, June 29, 2021. A small army of volunteers mobilized to deliver bottled water and energy drinks, chicken tenders and pizzas to law enforcement and emergency crews working long shifts after the deadly collapse of a condominium tower in the city, near Miami. (AP Photo/Russ Bynum)

The end result of all this time and energy might seem a hopeless cause, excepting to those people who find themselves there day after day. They remain fixed in the spot where nothing good will come in the way of news, because that is no longer the point of this expedition. Now, they seek something much more significant than any idea they ever might have mustered before the end came in the middle of the night, taking countless souls with it.

Death toll in Surfside building collapse rises to 64 after searc - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

This place they keep to, it’s sacred ground now. The labor is of love and its advent is a dedicated will, consumed with breathing life into that which possesses none at all. They forge ahead with rolled up sleeves and a belief that life is not defined by the beginning or the end, but by the middle we pen into being.

Their efforts are testimony to a religion that is not contained inside a leather bound book or houses with steeples or solemn hymns. Their actions are living proof that deities exist in the real time of every single day. And they spell the love and the purpose we devote to the most important things.

The Surfside community gathers for a memorial as search efforts turn from rescue to recovery

Where so much has been lost, these people provide what they have so that families can have closure. Their work is the indefatigable light of the human soul that refuses to go gently into that dark night. And when it looks as if God just isn’t going to show up, they provide us with the truest of necessary truths.

He’s already there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heroes Of The Week!

Performer Debbie Harry holds a microphone onstage.

That is the lovely as ever Debbie Harry performing at the Tribeca Film Festival in Battery Park last week. She was there to celebrate the premiere of her new doc, Blondie: Vivir En La Habana. The short film documents the band’s trip to Cuba in 2019, and I am all in baby! Not to go to Cuba, heck no. But to check out this work. And oh by the way, ain’t it nice to see musicians doing their thing outside again?

Let’s get to Friday . . .

Victoria's Secret rebrand: Priyanka Chopra, Megan Rapinoe and Valentina Sampaio join as new ambassadors | Ents & Arts News | Sky News

Goooooooooaaaaallllllll . . . Alright, is it okay if I admit that I had no idea Megan Rapinoe has become a brand ambassador for Victoria’s Secret? Thanks to the lovely Dale, I’m in the know. And so when I got to . . ahem, researching the topic, I learned something. Men are pigs.

Okay, I’m not talking about all men. Just the ones who pitched a fit over the new course the struggling retailer is taking. Out with the angels and in with peeps like Rapinoe, actor Priyanka Chopra and transgender model Valentina Sampaio. See, the company is listening to the consumers of its product and not simply the dudes who watch the Victoria’s Secret angels videos. And I really don’t know why anyone would have a problem with more and different kinds of sexy.

It’s a new world fellas. Embrace it.

Carl Nassib is first active NFL player to come out as gay - OPBNice play, Carl . . . Carl Nassib is a defensive lineman for the Las Vegas Raiders and this past Monday he became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. In his Instagram video, Carl talked about a day when such announcements will not be necessary. But for the here and now, it still is. Necessary. And so this young man decided he would be the one to stand up and tell the world his story. His announcement was brief and the young man was calm and soft spoken, and courageous as all get out. All that, and he pledged $100,000 to the Trevor Project, which offers suicide prevention for L.G.B.T.Q youth. Here’s to people living their lives in the light of day, and to people like Carl Nassib who are making it happen.

a woman standing in front of a body of water: Maya Nepos made good use of her unused meal plan money.

When giving a little means everything . . . Maya Nepos was a couple days shy of graduating from Washington University in St. Louis Missouri when she learned that she had $600 worth of unused meal plan money left on her credit. That’s what happens when you don’t have in-person classes during a pandemic.

She had two days to spend that money, and so she decided to make it a challenge she could post to her Tik-Tok page, where she has- get this- 330,000 followers. Maya has made quite a name for herself in the realm of social justice and political advocacy, but spending all that money on food she couldn’t possibly eat by herself? Wasn’t happening. So she started giving it away. Before long she was making care packages for the city’s homeless. In two days time, she handed out forty of them. Videos of this new challenge went viral and the donations started pouring in and so Maya kept going and a week later had donated close to a hundred care packages. It brings to mind the words of another fairly prominent Maya who once wrote that when you get something, you should give something back.

And in the grace of giving, we all rise.

There ain’t no good guy, there ain’t no bad guy, there’s only you and me and we just disagree . . . It was a ‘sticky’ situation on Wednesday night in the City of Not So Brotherly Love, and I was loving every minute of this video. Since the MLB has decided to come down hard on pitchers who use Spider Tack and other substances in order to gain an edge, things have gotten . . well, lively. It reached Defcon1 when Phillies manager decided to enlist some gamesmanship to rescue his squad from the dominant clutches of Nationals hurler Max Scherzer, who was mowing down the Philadelphia Nine. Now . . I love Joe and I love Max . . but what I really loved was how it all went down. For maximum comedic overdrive, watch the above video whilst listening to the theme song from Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Chances Are . . . is how Imma wrap up this Friday episode . .

Sometimes it’s best not to question the fates, and there are two families in Atlanta, Georgia who can testify to this. Susan Ellis and Tia Wimbush work at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and so it was that the two friends were playing catchup last fall. They hadn’t seen each other since COVID turned the world upside down, so Susan hadn’t a clue that Tia’s husband Rodney was in need of a kidney. Same goes for Tia, who had no idea that Susan’s husband Lance . . was also in need of a kidney.

The two ladies were all too familiar with the daunting prospects of transplant lists when the conversation moved in a direction neither of them could’ve imagined. And the next thing you know, they were being tested to see if it was possible they could be kidney donors for each other’s husbands. When it came back a match on both counts, it was as if the collective breaths of two families could be heard from one end of the state of Georgia to the other. And in March of this year, the transplant surgeries were carried out successfully and friends became something more, so much more. They became family.

“Our story is a story of kindness. It ended up in a kidney exchange, that was the result of it, but it started with human beings just human beings and checking on each other,” Susan said. “We’re so busy with social media and texting and thinking, that’s not my business that we can self-isolate and we don’t check in on our neighbors.”

Here’s to the crazy chances.

 

Heroes Of The Week! (500th Post Edition)

U.S. navy pilot who saw 'something weird' in the sky welcomes U.S. report on UFOs | CBC RadioOkay, can you tell I’m super excited about the upcoming Congressional UFO report that’s going to prove Mulder was onto something? The above capture, like the current news cycle, isn’t genuine . . but it’s all Obama’s fault for admitting this UFO business really is a thing! And so I have a deal for any aliens who might be reading this Friday edition. Leave us be and we’ll give you Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Cleveland Cavaliers and anything Jim Belushi ever starred in. And to balance the books, Imma throw in Nancy Pelosi, the Detroit Tigers and the original script from Cop Rock.

Let’s get to Friday . . .

White House Butler William "Buddy" Carter Retires After 47 Years

We’re kicking things off with a Cincinnati Special, delivered by our favorite Beach Boy, Frank, who does his thing over at Beach Walk Reflections.

An American Story: When it comes to having his finger on the pulse of a nation, Buddy Carter has achieved a  doctorate level knowledge over the past half century. As a butler on staff at the White House executive residence since the Reagan administration, he has seen it all. I mean that literally. He has suffered Reagan’s corny jokes, he’s served coffee to the Clintons, kept a close eye on W’s pretzel habit and most likely was the treated to Obama’s pipes whenever 44 laid down some Al Green in the hallways.

He was the man with a plan when it came to state dinners, or when a foreign dignitary came calling, or whenever the leader of the free world just needed a moment to vent. He attended the weddings of Chelsea Clinton and Jenna Bush, among many others. He accompanied First Lady Melania Trump to the funeral of former First Lady Barbara Bush in 2018. Such was the bond Buddy fostered with everyone he crossed paths with.

“For 47 years, across 10 administrations, Buddy Carter has been an integral part of the lives of US Presidents, their families and their home, the White House,” said Michael LaRosa, press secretary to First Lady Jill Biden .

Thank you Mr. Carter, from all of us.

QAnon Convention: Michael Flynn Backtracks, Denies Suggesting US CoupCoup Coup For Cocoa Puffs!: What if I told you a former National Security Advisor of the United States advocated a military coup? Well, if he was a democrat, Mitch McConnell and the Gang That Can’t Shoot Straight would demand he be locked up . . immejiately. But seeing as how Michael Flynn is Trump’s errand boy, they’ll probably run him for President in 2024 . . .

Lost Footage from “The Revenant”: Hailey Morinico’s “To Do List” for the Memorial Day weekend . . .

  • Grocery shop
  • Fire up the grill
  • Fend off an Apex predator

About that last item on the checklist . . the 17 year old from Bradbury, California nailed it. More specifically, she nailed a big ass brown bear . . get this . . who was toting her cubs. Which goes against every rule Ranger Smith laid out in his diminutive tome, “Don’t Fuck With Bears”.

However, this particular brown bear mama was going up against a fairly tenacious dog mama, so there was that. And the video serves as the tail of the tape in this knockout upset of the week, as Morinico came to the rescue of her fur children by doing what Leonardo DiCaprio? Couldn’t.

Jim Kelly, Class of 2002 | Pro Football Hall of Fame Official Site

I’m only excited because this shit happened in the eighties: After thirty-five seasons on the shelf, the USFL will make its return next spring. The original version was fairly successful as a spring football league, until they attempted to move to the fall . . which is owned by another well known pigskin property. The USFL will compete with the XFL for viewers, but if the former is half as much fun as it was in its three seasons of play, I’m betting on vintage for the win. Which means they’ll last a season to the XFL’s three weeks . . .

I wasn’t going to include this next story because the look of dejection on this homeless woman’s face in the above video was too sad for words. But you know what? If my Fridays are about mining the gamut, then it really is about the every single thing of a world that makes us rejoice one day, while bringing us to our knees the next.

And what’s more, it’s how I’m signing off on this episode . . .

Officer Conner Hjellming of the La Crosse Police Department was responding to a police call regarding a shoplifting incident at a Walgreen’s store back in December when compassion took the wheel. What he found was a young woman at the breaking point. She wasn’t stealing candy bars or cosmetics, she was stealing a pair of gloves and a hat to keep warm in the sub-freezing temps. So Conner let her have it. The gloves and hat, I mean. While warning her to steer clear of the store from now on, he paid for them. And so Connor’s job description, in which he promises “To Serve and Protect”, well . . mission accomplished.

And if you’re an alien reading this Friday episode, Imma give it to you straight. Don’t let the fact that we’re treating this beautiful place like a cosmic ping pong table fool you. Because inside this seemingly hopeless cause, this lost paradise of dreamers and this playground of schemers and this chain of fools, there is love. There is so much of the stuff that it could fill the oceans and the lakes, and the rivers and the streams and the kitchen sinks of every living soul. That’s 326 million trillion gallons of the stuff, for your information.

And maybe that’s what you’re here for. Maybe you figure we’ve screwed up our chance, so why not take our dibs. I’d like to think you’re so far advanced that conquest doesn’t rate, but who am I to know for certain? And it doesn’t matter anyways, because I’ll take the look on that young woman’s face when she realized that there was someone out there who actually cared enough to make the day she was walking through just a little better. And just so you know?

We have more where that came from.

 

 

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