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The Pipp List

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Wally Pipp was a slugger for the Bronx Bombers inside an era when home runs were hard to come by. The first baseman was part of a formidable lineup that included Bob Meusel, Joe Dugan, Waite Hoyt and Babe Ruth; a club that would win three consecutive AL pennants as well as the 1923 World Series.

It was the kind of resume that was sure to land Pipp on the list of Yankees all-timers, considering the team was set up for more title runs over the next half dozen years. And then Pipp was benched for a diesel engine named Lou Gehrig and the rest, as they say, would become history.

Lou Gehrig would set the record for consecutive games played with 2,130. Gary Cooper even played the “Iron Horse” in the movie Pride of the Yankees. By the time Gehrig’s streak came to an end, Pipp had become a cautionary tale: Don’t call in sick or you might not have a job when you get back.

Gehrig has proven to be a tough act to follow, so it got me thinking. And when me thinks, it usually ends up in a list. Here then, my short list of some of the toughest acts to follow. And no, the former occupant of the White House who is currently auditioning for the show My 600-lb Life ain’t on it . . .

A Brief History of Air Jordan's - KLEKT Blog

Michael Jordan- Twenty three years after Jordan and the Chicago Bulls won their sixth and final title in a dynastic run that may never be duplicated again, the Bulls are simply meh. Not a single trip to the NBA finals since Number 23 left town. The closest a player has come to even getting into the conversation as the heir to MJ’s throne was Derrick Rose. Injuries short-circuited his career as a Bull, and his second and third acts have happened in other NBA cities.

As for the rest of the league, apologies to Kobe and Lebron, but that debate is about second place. MJ went 6-0 in the finals, whilst collecting six Finals MVP’s for good measure.

Billy Crystal- The host of hosts for any award show, in my opinion. As Oscar host, Crystal’s brilliance was always taken for granted. Only after he left did we realize how tough this gig really is, because no one has come close to filling his dancing shoes.

Bear Bryant- Nick Saban is the anomaly in that he might well have surpassed Bryant. But it took eight coaches to get to Saban, with Gene Stallings having been the only one to win a title in that time as Alabama boss. I’d take Saban only because I’ve seen him long enough to know he’s the best of this era.

Mario Puzo at 100: The Godfather author never met a real gangster, but his mafia melodrama remains timeless | The Independent

Marlon Brando as Movie Mob Boss- What Brando did with the role of Vito Corleone changed the game. Possessing an unsaintly cool with nary a wasted movement, Brando created a prototype Hollywood crime boss . . . that Al Pacino would match as his son Michael. Since then, you’ve had a handful of great performances but I’m sticking with the Corleones as the standard.

Joe Torre- He was called “Joe Bozo” in an infamous New York Daily News headline that ‘welcomed’ him to town in ’96. And then he led the Yankees to a title in his first season, and then won it three more times in the next four years. It has been fourteen years since he left, and the Yankees have one title to show for it.

Sean Connery as James Bond- I never paid much attention to the 007 franchise until Daniel Craig made the scene. I admit it, I’ve got little patience for nuance. While Craig is my choice, I’m guessing I’d get outvoted on this one.

Mickey Mantle- The Yankees have yet to replace Number 7 in center field and the chances are slim that they ever will.

Alex Trebek- The list of candidates to replace Trebek as host of Jeopardy is a who’s who list of celebrities with several names who I think would nail the gig. But to my way of thinking, that is testament to the man who captained the ship for thirty-seven years.

David Lee Roth, Van Halen - New York, 1979 | Charlyn Zlotnik

David Lee Roth- Roth was a bourbon milkshake and everything that came after his exit from Van Halen? Diet Coke.

Muhammad Ali- Larry Holmes was a worthy heavyweight champion who never deserved the criticism he received for not being Ali. No fighter in the heavyweight division was, is or probably ever will be Ali.

Welp, that’ll do it until the next list. And I send you off into this Tuesday with a classic tune from a gal who will turn 75 next week. She’s had quite the love life, and I bet you all the luminaries whom she’s crossed paths with have her on their short list. Yeah Warren . . I’m talking to you!

 

 

 

 

Dear Aliens . . .

I know what you’re probably thinking right about now. Life on earth looks like a peach tree pie with fresh whipped cream on top. I mean, we’re one big swimming pool with myriad endeavors to turf your toes on. If you dig endorphin chow, you can eat well. If you just dig real chow, you can eat even better. All that and Vera Farmiga lives here!

But there’s a flip side your realtor ain’t so eager to fess on. We are a genuinely crazy ass lot, and scrums just so happen to be our wheelhouse. The bigger the scrum, the more ferocious we become.

What? You need a few examples? Ooookay . . .

We go to war so that we can create future trade partners . . . There are tons of casualties, and they will be memorialized in big budget motion pictures and federally funded memorials. Their sacrifice will be remembered but the lesson will be lost as soon as the next conflict arises.

About those trade partners . . . The leaders of industry and government are the protected class when it comes to these wars. Their offspring are also protected so that they can broker future business deals with the vanquished enemy. Its a bloody racket, and I mean that quite literally.

When something wicked this way comes . . there’s sports! . . . No matter how untethered we become as a society, we can turn to sports as an avoidance mechanism a way to bring people together. Much like the corrupt senators of ancient Rome, today’s power brokers feast on the indifference of a population that really doesn’t care to know just how fucked we really are. LeBron James is our modern day Spartacus, with the only difference being, everything.

And if you’re wondering where ancient Rome is located, well . . that’s the point.

We love our reality television . . . Even if there isn’t a lick of reality to it. We consume it in vast quantities and then we cull a diabolical poetry from the ashes. The particulates fuel much of the population, providing them with a manifest-ish destiny. Imagine going to war against an endless procession of armies who fear public speaking more than death. Good. Luck. With. That.

Brands, algorithms and metrics have replaced the human soul . . . See, we can be every bit as bloodless and uncaring as you! No offense.

Okay, I’m being totally presumptious on that last count. But I can’t help it, seeing as how the more advanced a species becomes, the less time they spend focusing on their warts. And really, who am I to say? Maybe you guys have actually learned from the mistakes of your ancestors. Hell, maybe we’re you’re ancestors . . in which case, this is awkward. For you. But going to war with relatives, distant or otherwise . . that’s freshly baked into our DNA.

Yeah sorry but, the chances are good you’re like any other life form that drives and votes and screws. You only think you’re the next step in the evolutionary cycle. But as our American philosopher Mike Tyson once said, everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the face. And we have one helluva right hook. And we’re ignorant. And with every day that goes by, we get closer to that dead end town called Nothing To Lose-Ville. So if you’re here to throw down with us, I would suggest you get to stepping.

Seriously, time is of the essence here. Wolf Blitzer ain’t getting any younger, Chuck Norris is jonesing for one more epic bar fight, and I’ve heard Will Smith owns the F/A 18 Hornet he ‘flew’ in the movie Independence Day and he really wants to try it on for size. I suggest you watch the movie before you make any rash decisions. And should you decide to come in peace instead, super cool decision. Starbucks is going to name a series of drinks after you, Netflix is going to hand you a blank check and you’ll score a summit meeting with our leader.

Her name is Oprah, and she has a book club. You’re gonna love her.

There Is No F In Accountability

When I was an old man, I thought I was a kid.

That’s how ass backwards the world feels to me sometimes. Because whenever I opine on how things used to be, it makes me feel as if I Benjamin Buttoned myself into the here and now. Where once I was lost to the thankless mysteries of the world, now I’m finding myself in this vapid little pill that keeps its insanity on retainer.

As with most things that fruit my loop, these changes whittled themselves into a monolithic curiosity with the wicked patience of a well done knuckleball. In the process, they turned yesterday into a bell jar full of pennies, which is about as yesterday as you’re gonna get.

This particular assessment came about as I was telling my daughter what school used to look like. Yanno . . back in the day. She’s a teacher, and as such, she’s taken to wearing steel toe boots whenever she has occasion to conference with those hard pipe hitting advocates known as parents. Because we’re living in an age where an unhealthy percentage of the parent population has gone and shoved accountability out of a speeding car. Why pass the buck when you can burn the fucker to a crisp?

I could never be a teacher, because for one thing . . I don’t like kids. And for another, I don’t like parents. My days would be spent drinking heavily and chasing it with painkillers and anti-depressants. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

“Most parents get that their kid can do better and that it’s a shared responsibility. But every once in a while you get a parent who isn’t having it . . ” My daughter said. Calmly, I might add. Which is why she’s going to be a great teacher, because that kind of thing doesn’t piss her off.

As for yours truly? Hell, nawh.

“When I got a bad grade on a report card, or I failed a test . . I caught hell for it. In waves. First it was my teacher giving me shit and then I got home and I had to hear it from my mother. And if the offense was serious enough, it went into the evening when the old man got home. I earned that shit and I remembered that shit. Because it was incredibly unpleasant shit,” I ranted, rather un-sweetly.

“Yeah . . it’s different now,” She laughed.

No shit.

I tell you what, even in a deliciously vegetative state of insobriety, I wouldn’t be able to stem my Cobra Kai when a parent gave their kid the look-away pass and followed that up by delivering a few misplaced adjectives in my direction. Nope. I would be teaching a very different kind of lesson at that point.

The kind I learned, a long time ago.

 

When Faith Makes The Scene

My relationship with God has always been awkward, because I was never really certain as to what I was supposed to be looking for. It’s a signature of the human condition that compels us to define relationships, even those that can prove least definable. And as humans, we want something out of the deal.

When I was young and impressionable, I was seeking answers to the biggest questions the same way most young people of my generation did: By watching movies and listening to music. I had it figured that George Burns was God, John Denver was an Apostle and Ozzy Osbourne was the Antichrist. Looking back now I wish I’d been right. Shit, a God who smoked cigars and had a great sense of humor, an Apostle who sang folk songs and a devil who penned Ironman, one of the greatest rock songs ever? Sold!

When I was a teenager, I negotiated all manner of adversity by by dialing up the high and mighty hotline. It was more about kitsch than catechism. Mix too many adult beverages . . . put in a call. Bend a rule . . or maybe even a law . . put in a call. Get myself in a bind with a girlfriend’s girlfriend . . put in a call. Find out girlfriend or girlfriend’s girlfriend was late . . . put in a series of calls.

Adulthood is where I stopped calling on God because I didn’t feel like dealing with a busy signal. This is how adults survive. When we ain’t listened to in a way we deem appropriate, we look elsewhere: Financial advisors, general practitioners, insurance agents, mechanics, bookies, bartenders and therapists. Mediation comes at a price that we’re more than willing to pay because we’re assured that someone is listening.

Getting married meant churching, for a while, but the arrangement was never a fit for me because I was never much for country clubs. And that’s what church felt like, with all the networking and gossip mongering. I knew I could get more religion out of a bottle of wine or a baseball diamond than a Sunday morning in church.

Of course, it all comes down to faith. And faith is one of those things that isn’t found in a book or a house or a hymn. No doubt, these things can serve to inspire you, but they’ll never make you believe. No, that kind of thing usually makes the scene when we least expect it.

It’s been twenty years since I woke up in a hospital bed after having undergone a thyroidectomy to remove two separate cancerous growths. I remember feeling super groovy, as if Jimi Hendrix had just supplied me with some magical feel goods and chased it with a song. Needless to say, I didn’t give a flip about the tubes that were sticking out of me or the fact that I was sharing a room with a guy who was hacking up a lung. Before I could start doing the math on what came next, I passed out again.

Waking up at night in a hospital room is some truly creepy shit. For most people. But I guess I always had a morbid streak and a genuine curiosity for that kind of thing because I felt nothing but peace. And yes, the primo stock that was running through my veins helped. But it was more than that, because now my brain was working plenty well enough to remember back to that morning. The pastor at the church I’d stop attending had come by before my surgery to talk with me. He was a good man and I was genuine in my warm greeting. We talked for a while, about baseball and kids and steak houses. But I remember one simple exchange.

“Are you scared?”

“No, I’m not. Everything’s cool, it’s really cool,”

“Good, that’s good,” He examined my face as if searching for the lie, and not finding it.

It was as if I had waited all my life to feel the kind of peace I did on that morning. Uncertain as to what came next, and remarkably okay with that. I chatted with the nurses as they rolled me through the corridors until we arrived at a frosty operating room and I was introduced to all the players. And then they were serving me up a tonic to help me sleep and then I cracked a few jokes just to let them know it was paying off handsomely.

Something mystical was riding shotgun with me as I began to tiptoe through the tulips, because that’s when David Gilmour and Roger Waters started doing their thing. As my eyes grew heavy, I could feel the dumbest smile taking hold of my face as I muttered sleepily “Great fucking song . . .”

If there’s more to faith than that? I don’t need it.

 

 

 

Heroes Of The Week!

An artist stands in front of a large mural of the face of a young person wearing a mask.

Brazilian graffiti artist Eduardo Kobra completing his mural Coexistence-Memorial of Faith for All Victims of COVID-19

As for the week that was? It was partly spring-like with a predictable amount of nonsense thrown in for good measure. Aaron Rodgers’s future might be in Jeopardy, Florida signed into law new voting restrictions, with Texas close behind, and McDonalds still won’t honor my request to bring back the Patty Melt.

So, it’s a good time to get started on the weekend by launching into another episode, and . . . here . . . we . . . go! . . .

Dropping the mic with class: I am no longer in the same space as Liz Cheney, politically speaking, but her impassioned speech the other night before Congress deserves a special mention today. Because it speaks to how we are supposed to behave in a democracy. Our union is tenuous because consensus has given way to contention, dialogue has given way to vitriolic disagreement. Her ouster proves that her party is intent on drawing a line in quicksand.

What Is Happening to the Republicans? | The New Yorker

Like a termite that’s choking on the splinters: The Republican party hitched their star to Trump in 2016 because they had become the political equivalent of Seinfeld; they had become a party about nothing. In the five years since then, they’ve done little to change this fact. And now they have a vengeful former President intent on delivering death blows to those GOP members he believes did him dirty. The loudest voices are the ones driving this party bus right over the cliff, and they’re turning the GOP into a self-destructive prophecy.

Two-way star Shohei Ohtani pitches gem, plays outfield, makes history in Angels' loss to Astros - CBSSports.com

The Shohei Kid Strikes Again: The California Angels have themselves a bona-fide rock star sidekick to go alongside baseball’s best player, Mike Trout. Shohei Ohtani’s magic was on full display the other night against the Houston Astros. He pitched seven innings, allowing one run on four hits while striking out ten. He also singled once in four plate appearances while remaining tied for the league lead in HR’s with 10. The last time the majors saw this kind of two-way excellence? Woodrow Wilson was President, and a fellow named Babe Ruth was doing it . . for the Boston Red Sox.

18-year-old Joshua Nelson standing with Katie Krodinger and Lenell Hahn, shows off the scholarship given to him by Southeast Missouri State University.

Too Cool for School: Joshua Nelson’s dream of going to college was busy figuring itself out a long time ago. The senior at St. Charles West High School is a member of the National Honor Society, the National Society of Black Engineers and the Black Student Union. Outside of the classroom, he’s also the President of the school’s Multicultural Achievement Council (MAC). It’s a program that helps underrepresented kids get ready for college and a career. Nelson also plays on the varsity basketball team and is a tutor for kids at the Boys and Girls Club.

So with the future squarely in his sights, he had taken to saving up some money for the next chapter of his life. And then he got the call. He had scored a full ride to Southeast Missouri State University. He was one of only five applications to received the President’s Scholarship.

And so with the $1,000 he’d been saving up for college . . of course he decided to pay it forward. And he’s hoping that others will help match his starting donation so that more students can be provided with assistance in achieving their dreams. Because while some people believe that creating wealth is an individual pursuit, Joshua Nelson sees it differently.

Dreams should be shared.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.
-Nelson Mandela 

When you look at the above image, you cannot help but think that tragedy ruled the day. And if not for Jonathan Bauer, you would have been right.

A five-car pileup on the Route 90 bridge over Maryland’s Assawoman Bay sent eight people to the hospital, and yeah . . that truck. Dangling precipitously over the edge, the collision ejected a toddler into the bay waters. Jonathan and his teenage daughter Ava came upon the pileup and that’s when dad went superhero. After making sure his daughter was good, he moved to the guardrail and found the toddler floating on her back. When the waves turned her over, Jonathan jumped into action. Literally.

The man with a fear of heights took the forty foot plunge into the water and held to the toddler while patting her back until he had opened her airway. A couple of nearby boaters then got them to shore, after which the twenty-three month old was airlifted to Johns Hopkins where she was evaluated and later released. She’s expected to make a full recovery.

Like any superhero worth their cape, Bauer didn’t stick around for the photo-op. He was plenty fine with knowing he had done his part to avert certain tragedy. His neighbors and friends? They had something else in mind, and so Bauer and his daughter Ava were re-united with the boaters who had joined in the rescue, as well as the first responders who arrived soon after. The Mayor saved the morning for him and Bauer even got a plaque. But the best reward of all?

A little girl turns two later this month.

 

Winning By Pinocchio’s Nose

Medina Spirit | 2022 Kentucky Derby & Oaks | May 6 and May 7, 2022

With Medina Spirit’s Kentucky Derby win now being called into question after traces of the steroid betamethasone were found in his system, it’s clear the sporting world will stop at nothing in pursuit of glory. Trainer Bob Baffert claimed the horse has never been treated with the stuff because most sports figures are just frustrated politicians.

Pete Rose has been telling and re-telling a thirty year lie that changes with each new book deal. Dopers everywhere- from the four major sports to the Olympics- always play it like that guy in the show Cops who insists the drugs aren’t his. College recruiting reads like an episode of Law and Order. Little leaguers pretend to be smaller while college players pretend to be bigger and the Patriots . . . well, yanno.

Back inside the brutally simple time known as the ’70’s, NASCAR driver Richard Petty issued a sporting proclamation that has proven to have more lasting power than his hat . . or his legendary career for that matter.

“If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying,”

Without a twenty-four hour social media dragnet to collect every last dangling participle of an athlete’s most innocuously lonesome thoughts, the checkmate of a raging morning after headline was still a twinkle in every sports voyeur’s eye. Petty’s southern drawl was saved the slings and arrows of our current day claw machine which would have issued the “Breaking News” headline at three in the morning. After which Twitter would’ve split in two like the Titanic, sports debate shows would’ve argued over whether Petty should be suspended and Petty would’ve read a PR crafted apology that was about as heartfelt as a zombie flick.

The thing is, his simple syrup was a sporting truth long before he let it pass go. Need some proof? Okay why not . . .

Fred Lorz's lift and the rat-poison runner – Tale Runners

Fred Lorz lapped the field at the 1904 Olympic marathon in St. Louis by completing the race in three hours and thirteen minutes. Only problem was, he hitched a ride with a passing car for 11 miles of the race. When reading about Lorz, my question was, “There were passing cars in 1904?”

ECC | [New York Giants baseball player John J. McGraw, walking on

Before San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds’ noggin grew to twice the legal limit in the name of bad science, there was John McGraw. The New York Giants third-baseman played the hot corner like a gangster. A middling player who would later make his Hall of Fame bones as a skipper, McGraw was notorious for slowing opposing runners down by whatever means possible; from tripping them to latching on to their belt loops. How much fun would instant replay be with this guy around?

Michael Beschloss on Twitter: "Black Sox Scandal emerged from 1919 World Series, which ended 95 years ago today: http://t.co/BrVVhglnZF"

 

Several key players on the 1919 Chicago White Sox canoodled with New York mobster Arnold Rothstein, after which they threw the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. The worst part of it is, the infamous Black Sox scandal kept one of the all-time greats- Shoeless Joe Jackson- from reaching the Hall of Fame after his ban. The second worst part of it is they made a movie about it in 1988 called Eight Men Out in which John Cusack proved he is not nearly as good at throwing a baseball as he is at holding up a boombox.

Dora Ratjen - Wikidata

Dora “The Explorer” Ratjen finished fourth in the women’s high jump at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Turned out, Dora’s real name was Hermann. Those fun loving kids known as the Hitler Youth talked Hermann into hiding his balls in order to compete as a woman. I’m thinking their game plan didn’t include a fourth place finish . . .

From Heroes To Villains': CCNY Basketball's Dramatic Fall From Glory | Only A Game

The 1951 CCNY point-shaving scandal involved seven college basketball teams, with the Beavers squad leading the way. The players involved prevented their clubs from covering the spread until one player refused to play along, after which the jig was up. To think, today’s college coaches- whose cheat sheets are part of the recruiting process- would shrug at this quaint little racket.

The East German women’s swimming team dominated the sport from the late ’60’s through the early ’80’s. Which . . I mean . . it took the IOC that long to figure out these gals were loading up on their carbs by filing them with steroids? Of course it did, because they were even dirtier than the culprits!

Like it or loathe it, as long as there are sports to be played, cheating is going to be a part of the equation. Because the risks are always going to be outweighed by the rewards for a whole lot of athletes who don’t care how they become somebody, just so long as they do. And I don’t much give a shit if they choose notoriety over nobility.

Just leave the horses out of it.

 

Heroes Of The Week! (Oscar Do-Over Edition!)

Chadwick Boseman: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom trailer shows final film made before star's death | Ents & Arts News | Sky News

I’ve been perusing my earliest Heroes ventures, which read more like gentle nudges of penmanship wrapped in sardonic wit. They were pithy little beasts whose fantastic was still in transit. These episodes didn’t go optimum until y’all fed the comment pool with ever more interesting ideas, anecdotes and thoughts. So thank you for helping Fridays grow, and the end song? It’s what I think of you.

Alright, this week is Oscar themed, seeing as how the annual gold gitting gala was an entirely forgettable calamity of errors and omissions. To borrow me some Bono, we’re stealing it back this week.

Let’s get to the awards . . .

angry little Matt Gaetz statue image 0

The award for Lolita goes to . . . 

Matt Gaetz (Marco, Producer) Whose indecent proposals would be the lead story, every morning, on Fox and Friends if he was a democrat. This bobblehead is the poster boy for the “Do as I say” hypocrites who get all holier than thou six days a week and then show up to church on Sunday to network more of their dirty laundry. He preached the need for “decorum” in ostracizing Nancy Pelosi’s stunt at the 2020 State of the Union but was plenty fine inviting a Holocaust denier to the event a couple years prior. He defended Kyle Rittenhouse after the 17 year old shot and killed two people and injured another during a protest of the Jacob Blake shooting in Wisconsin. He voted no to a human trafficking bill because well . . he would’ve been implicated! The charges against this asshole were so radioactive, even Trump could not defend him. If that doesn’t rate as a Holy Shit!, I don’t know what does.

The award for Toy Story goes to . . .

A group of Arizona cops, the Tempe Officers Association and Walmart (Dale @ A Dalectable Life, Producer) When thieves stole four-year-old Gerald Philbrook’s favorite tractor (I mean . . seriously!), it was the men and women in blue who stepped up and made things right. After reading Peter Philbrook’s account of the theft of his son’s ride on his Facebook page, officers carried out a search which proved fruitless. So they coordinated with the good folks at the local Walmart and purchased a replica John Deere tractor for little Gerald, complete with a personalized license plate. Here’s to the good guys. All of them.A rare cancer forced him to give up baseball. He returned for a final game to pitch a no-hitter. | WNCT

The award for The Natural goes to . . . 

Eighteen-year-old Walker Smallwood of Dixie Heights High School (A Frank Angle, Producer) At fifteen, Walker was diagnosed with bone cancer. So he hung up his cleats and fought, hard. Three long years filled with surgeries, chemo cycles and treatments until the day arrived when he got the news that his cancer was in remission. To celebrate, Walker wanted one more chance on the mound, for old time’s sake. He figured on getting out there for an inning, and so he did just that. But wait, there’s more. Or should I say, less.

Both.

Walker pitched a hitless first inning . . and a hitless second inning . . . and yeah, a hitless third, and fourth and before he knew it, he’d gone the distance, striking out nineteen and pitching a no-hitter.

“I definitely appreciate everything more and now I just get to look back and be thankful.” Said Walker. ” I mean, every time I wake up, I’m happy. I know that tomorrow it can all be over, but you’ve just got to enjoy whatever you have that day.”

Ray Kinsella couldn’t have written a better ending.

The award for Funny Girl goes to . . .

Aparna Nancherla (Marco, Producer) She talks about anxiety and depression the way it needs to be talked about. With comedy. Because we consider it to be our best medicine.

Climate Activist Cleaned Up Litter at a Canyon for 589 Days Straight | PEOPLE.com

The award for Into The Wild goes to . . . 

Edgar McGregor (A Frank Angle, Producer) When Edgar made up his mind to clean up one of his favorite hiking trails, he figured it was probably going to take a weekend. His innocent climb began as he took his first steps through Eaton Canyon in Southern California with the sun as his partner and a dream in his back pocket. And then it hit him that maybe this dream of his was going to take a little longer than he’d bargained for.

His labor of love was an equally distributed enterprise that bled through one calendar year and then a lot more than that. And when he finally settled up with Mother Nature, he’d gone 589 consecutive days; picking up trash in every kind of weather until he’d collected something in the neighborhood of . . . get this, 15,000 pounds. 

This humble journey took on a life of its own, inspiring people around the globe to clean up their favorite hiking trails and parks as well. It was as if the man took that dream out of his back pocket and paid it forward to the whole wide world.

Now that’s a stimulus check.

She's Starting College at Age 12, With Plans to Be a NASA Engineer

And for our last presentation of the evening, the award for A Star Is Born goes to . . .

Alena Analeigh (Dale @ A Dalectable Life, Producer) There are four billions stars in our galaxy alone, and twelve-year-old Alena is busy writing her name into that deep blue silk with dreams that promise to lasso the moon. Her vision of the world has always been that it’s a nice place to visit, but she’ll never want to live here. Since she was knee high to a Rover, she’s dreamt of learning more about all the places she could not touch; which is something you’ll find in the DNA of every great explorer.

Already a high school graduate, next month she’ll be attending Arizona State University via remote learning. She’ll be pulling a double major in astronomical/planetary science and chemistry with the goal of becoming a NASA engineer by the time she’s 16. Which isn’t your typical teenage game plan, but yanno . . she’s not going to be typical. At anything.

“I’ll be driving one of those future space mobiles by the time I graduate college,” she says. And she’ll carry forever in her hands, where it will be nestled safely to a boundless passion and a brilliant mind.

It is in the smallness of humankind that we find our nobility. To crease the mysteries and loose impossible answers out of the mighty darkness is where fears get settled and history gets made. And to this end, the fiery spirit of a young girl’s dreams to visit the unfound places and to write them into being provides all of us with a sense of wonder. But more than that, it fills us with a precious faith.

For our world, and all the worlds to come.

Mortal Coils, A Cuppa Kafka And Bengal Tiger Express Lanes

Life ain’t simple.

I’m not talking about how absurdly inconvenient mortality tends to be. What was it that Kafka wrote? The meaning of life is that it stops. So there’s no use ranting about the inevitable, even if I resent the fact that Ryan Seacrest and Kelly Ripa are going to live forever.

Nah, this ain’t big picture stuff I’m talking about. This is B-movie soapbox . . it’s direct to Prime Video. Because I’m talking about the little impediments that get painted across your Zen windshield on the regular. Things like a bill you weren’t expecting . . pain in the ass neighbors (I know, that’s redundant), traffic, and long lines at the grocery store.

The bills represent death to me. Every time I get a bill, it’s as if the grim reaper dropped in and is like Sup? Because there’s not a thing you can do about it, you have to eat it. You could run away to the Keys, but what good would that serve since you’d only come home to even more bills?

To think that we meet our neighbors when we get to heaven? Is a hellish proposition.

To say traffic blows is to win the Oscar for Big Fucking Understatement. I once dated a girl who confessed that she “loved traffic” because it helped center her. Come to think of it, her confession came on our last date. Because I can’t be with someone who spins positive shit out of traffic. I will get with a serial killer before I’ll do that. And the serial killer is going to be way more interesting.

Long Lines In a Grocery Store . . The Musical!

It’s not even the line that pisses me off. I can wait . . I’m not on any Most Wanted posters, that I know of. I’m not ecstatic about having to wait in line to pay a bill, and it sure as hell doesn’t ‘center’ me since I’m not a psycho. But standing in line at a grocery store separates us from the Bengal tiger, and I dig that. It reminds me that we’re not the top of the food chain, because if that Bengal tiger was shopping, the line would be much shorter.

So it was on Saturday afternoon that I prayed for that Bengal tiger to make the scene and maul the fuck-head in front of me (Editor’s Note: I use a hyphen to elucidate just how much of an asshole this guy truly was). Was it fair to judge this individual based on such a small sample size? No fucking doubt about it.

A few examples of his fuck-headedness? Sure, why not . . .  (Editor’s Note: My spellcheck didn’t correct me on that word because it’s in complete agreement with me).

  • Keeping his phone on speaker, thus allowing his conversational skills to dumb down the world around him.
  • Wearing a “No Fear” t-shirt. And here I thought the United Nations had banned them.
  • Skinny jeans. Sorry, maybe this makes me an old guy but . . no. Dudes? Just. No.
  • Every other word is “like”. As if Merriam Webster ain’t dead enough.
  • P.F. Changs . . . Healthy Choice Power Bowls . . Chia Seeds . . Almond Milk . . Chocolate Lucky Charms .  . and okay, one or two of these in your cart is not a crime. All of these in your cart? And then add in all of the above? Guilty.

So it was quick thinking on my part to turn the ordeal into a musical . . in my head . . of course.

Opening Scene: The antagonist is mauled by a Bengal Tiger. 

The End

The musical part of this equation was taking place inside my head. Uncentered and unsettled but very much in time with the bluesy palette of Bobby Caldwell. It was a modest accord to which I was willing to oblige since committing murder is the ultimate bill. So I imagined myself firing up a turntable and letting its silky logic set the ground rules.

The bonus came with not making the Most Wanted List, which is . . like, pretty good too.

 

 

Heroes Of The Week!

Cancer Survivor, 8, Breaks Girl Scout Cookie Record | PEOPLE.com

Move over Wonder Woman, you got company.

Eight year old Lily Bumpus of San Bernardino, California is a cancer survivor . . and if you’re having a meh day, just take that in for a moment. Eight years old and a cancer survivor. That there is perspective on the meh-est of days, don’t you think?

Lily was born with Ewing sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. She began receiving adult treatments for the disease at the age of three months old and has been cancer-free for the past seven years,. She’s been a warrior for those who fight this horrible thing ever since her feet started moving forward.

As a Girl Scout, she made it her goal to sell 5,000 boxes of cookies, with a portion of the proceeds going to her fellow warriors. And then things started rolling, and she upped that estimate to 20,000 boxes as a result, which she also scaled with ease. Her final tally? 32,484 boxes of girl scout cookies.

I’m thinking the Justice League best make room for another warrior princess.

Suspected mafia fugitive arrested after police saw his YouTube cooking videos - CNN

Marc Feren Claude Biart is carrying around a severely overcomplicated name, but that’s not why he made my zero list this week. Biart is a good fella . . as in, he’s a goodfella. As in, he takes some nostra with his cosa . . but that’s not why he made my zero list either. Hey, I have a soft spot in my heart for wise guys. No, he’s here on account of having blown his cover whilst on the lam. Boss Biart was hiding out in the Dominican Republic, sipping on gin and juice and living an otherwise clusterfuck-free life . . but that wasn’t enough for the guy. Nope. His love of Italian cuisine inspired him to start his own YouTube cooking channel . . and while he was careful to hide his notorious drug smuggling mug, he wasn’t so careful about his distinctive body art . . and that’s what got him nabbed.

John Gotti called . . he wants his mafia back.

I feel like I’m forgetting someone. Like . . some asshole I was supposed to rail on this week. First name Matt, last name . . whatever derogatory term you feel like using. But I can’t quite place him . . just yet.

Marjy Stagmeier knew she wanted to be a landlord when she was all of eleven years old. The inspiration came to her after being crowned Monopoly champion of her sixth grade class. But really, it’s the game of life where she has done her finest work in the years since.

After graduating from college, the Georgia native began investing in affordable rental communities. She recognized that many of her tenants were in need of social services, so she founded a non-profit that provided on-site services to those families. Her goal was to make sure her tenants could not only afford their monthly rents, but that they would be able to save up enough for the next step: Home ownership.

Even at below market rates, some tenants were struggling to make ends meet. So it was a stroke of good fortune that she crossed paths with Bill and Melinda Gates and Matthew Desmond, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Evicted. The thing about good luck? You gotta be working your way in its direction in order to cross its path. The meeting was a revelation, inspiring her to build a resource network for these families.

When COVID-19 made matters worse, Stagmeier’s non-profit- Star C- launched a GoFundMe campaign to the tune of $50,000. And got it. Oh . wait . .  there’s more. Cobb County got wind of her efforts and donated $1.5 million of their federal stimulus funding. Other municipalities followed suit and as a result, more than $9 million dollars has been raised. The monies will help more than 3,000 families avoid eviction.

And here we are, with yet another story about how a complicated patchwork of business and government was somehow able to come together and get something done. Something really, really worth getting done. Just like that.

This is what winning looks like.

Remembering Jackie | Baseball Hall of Fame

I am wrapping up this week’s episode with a love letter to a great American hero. A man whose value was felt far beyond the fields of play, and whose courage helped push the civil rights movement to the forefront in this country. Decades before the moon landing, Jackie Roosevelt Robinson took his one giant leap for mankind.

Yesterday marked the seventy-fourth anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier of Major League Baseball. On April 15th, 1947, he stepped onto the hard green grass of Ebbets Field against the Boston Braves. Only 26,623 fans showed up to witness history, but I’m willing to bet millions more would claim to have been there as time went on. Such was the impact Jackie possessed by taking up the challenge handed him by Brooklyn Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey.

Born to a family of sharecroppers, his parents gave him a middle name that paid homage to former President Theodore Roosevelt. And it was as if that simple gesture forged a mystical alignment whose spirit prevailed on our better angels. They raised a son who would take on the centuries old establishment of racial division. Because Jackie Robinson’s boundless courage didn’t simply open up baseball to men of color, it provided a wake up call to the country.

Almost three-quarters of a century removed from that day, it feels as if we have lost our way and in so doing that we’ve done a disservice to the memory of this great man. We have become a tale of two countries, rife with margins whose roots do not give a whit about fairness and equality.

It’s fair to doubt the road ahead, but it would be a mistake to stop walking it. Because adversity doesn’t lessen the impact of our steps, it only serves to strengthen them. Jackie taught us that. He didn’t quit when teams padlocked their gates when his minor league club- the Montreal Royals- came to town. He didn’t give up when his own teammates refused to play with him, or when his own fans screamed hateful epitaphs at him. And when writers referred to this man who served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army as the enemy, he didn’t stop jogging out to second base.

He will always be our true north.

 

 

Stay Simple . . Ponyboy

When it comes to comment threads, I don’t partake. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been a joiner . . outside of of that one summer in high school when I went with my girlfriend to a nude beach and almost went blind. Worst ten minutes of my life. Or maybe it’s the expectation that bloggers need to immerse themselves in the thread if they’re true bloggers. Like, who in the blessed hell comes up with rules like that? And are they the same peeps who decided it was okay to allow anyone onto a nude beach?

To paraphrase the late, great Vito Corleone, it makes no difference to me what other bloggers do. If they write a post with the express written intent to grow a thread, that’s their business. But for me? I like to keep things simpler than Simon on a budget.

So it went against my norm when I began reading comments on YouTube recently. You see, reading comments on this platinum patch of piddle earth is seriously redundant shit. As it is, you age five times faster as soon as you log onto the site thanks to all the time you’re usually wasting. And while this may not be scientifically proven (yet), Imma go with it.

It gets worse. I even began commenting to certain comments, which repulses me more than I can tell you as I read this sentence back to myself. I’ve kept my thread count to a minimum on the platform, since I’m usually logged on to find somethings (Yes, plural. I’m a professional). But as with any site worth its ad revenue, you’re gonna stumble across more rabbit holes than a Warner Brothers cartoon. And I have.

And then this happened . . .

On April 9th, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh died at the age of 99. On the same day, superstar rapper BMX died at the age of a lot younger than that. In life, you would be hard pressed to find two more disparate individuals. In death, it was the same. Because whereas Philip died of 99, BMX died of a drug overdose.

And then I clicked on a tribute video to Prince Philip and while you may be thinking that makes me uncool . . more to the truth it’s because I’m uncultured. I knew way more about BMX than I did about a man who lived a history book. After the video had concluded, I scrolled down. One comment after another paid tribute, not to Prince Philip but to BMX. And many didn’t leave it at that, nope. They disparaged Philip while mourning a rapper gone too soon. As if the Duke of Edinburgh was responsible for the demons of a man he never even met.

I was perilously close to throwing down on these cretins before I realized it was my fault for having visited the comment thread in the first place. It was as if the Universe had tapped me on the shoulder, imploring me to Stay in your lane, schmuck! For one thing, I was honored that the Universe had taken time out of it’s uber-busy day to personally reprimand me. And for another, the Universe was absolutely right.

And for one last thing . . the Universe sounds a hell of a lot like Mel Brooks.

 

 

 

 

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