Posts Tagged ‘NFL’

Snoop Dogg, Ghee and Me!

Friday, January 5th, 2024

By Bob Gaydos

Ghee.

Ghee.

  Stick with me here. I’m not sure where I’m going, but I hope it’ll be worth the trip when we get there.

    I typically start my day (assuming the stars are aligned and the usual very considerate dog-feeder has fed the dogs) by tackling a New York Times word game called Spelling Bee. You get points based on how many words you can make from seven letters. It’s one of several word games I play each day so that, among other things, I can continue to write columns that I hope readers find (a) informative, (b) provocative, (c ) entertaining or (d) all of the above. The people who know about keeping brains vital recommend such games. And I enjoy them.

   So, this particular morning I advance to the point in the game where I am “amazing,” but one point short of “Genius.” I hate when that happens because it means all the obvious and most of the non-obvious words have been found, leaving words no one ever heard of and the odds of picking up a single point is slim.

    Finally, after going away and coming back several times, I see it. The word that will give me one point: Ghee.

   Yes! Genius once again and, gee, isn’t it interesting that I got there on a word I didn’t even know a few years ago. 

   For those who aren’t familiar with the word, ghee is a form of highly-clarified butter that is traditionally used in Indian cooking. Like butter, ghee is typically made from cow’s milk. It is made by melting regular butter, which separates into liquid fats and milk solids. The solids are removed, leaving a liquid with less lactose. Ghee is thus considered to be vegetarian because there is no animal product in it, but not vegan, because it is derived from animal product. (See, we’re already learning something.)

   Since I am neither vegan nor vegetarian, the technicalities don’t bother me. I became acquainted with ghee several years ago by adopting a diet with less meat and more plants. A quick scan of the internet on its health benefits or risks quickly pointed out the problem of our unfettered information glut, with ghee being declared either good or bad for weight loss, digestion, cholesterol or the heart. There was even a report the FDA had banned it, which should be a surprise to the thousands of Indian restaurants in this country, as well as the USDA, which regulates ghee and other products derived from cows. Consult your doctor on this, please.

     For me, ghee has been no issue and we only have it when we treat ourselves to a meal at a wonderful nearby vegetarian restaurant, The Red Dot, in Wurtsboro, N.Y, which is the entrance to the Catskills region if you’re planning a trip.

   If instead you’re planning a trip to Paris this year, be aware that the Summer Olympics will be in town and by “in town” the Parisians mean it literally, with urban games at Le Place de la Concorde, beach volleyball at the Eiffel Tower and Equestrians at the Palace of Versailles.

   I know all this only because when I got my genius score on Queen Bee, I put up water for tea, doled out a truckload of vitamins and then checked my Facebook feed, which promptly informed me that Snoop Dogg was going to be a special commentator for NBC on this year‘s Olympics in Paris.

    Oh. I thought. Why? I further thought.

     It seems Mr. Dogg, or Snoop to his friends, was such a hit four years ago with his colorful, occasionally profane, comments on the dressage competition at the Tokyo Olympics, NBC figured the rapper/business mogul would be a good bet to raise ratings for this year’s event.  

Snoop Dogg

Snoop Dogg

   For the record, the 2020 Olympics recorded the lowest average primetime viewership for the network since it began presenting the Olympics in 1988. In fact, viewership fell by 42 percent from the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

   But we’re now in the world of streaming and watching anything, anywhere, anytime. If he was so popular on NBC’s streaming coverage on Peacock in 2020, NBC figured, why not bring on the Dogg and his irreverence, if not expertise, to the whole network? It’s entertainment, isn’t it?

    Yes, and the size and, now, diversity of the audience also sets the price of the advertising, doesn’t it? 

    Snoop will apparently be free to roam around Paris and all the Olympic venues and “add his unique perspective to our re-imagined Olympic primetime show,” according to Molly Solomon, executive producer and president of NBC Olympics Production.

    Gee.

    Before I turned to tea and breakfast on this particular morning, one last look at Facebook informed me that the National Football League had fined Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper $300,000 for throwing a drink toward Jacksonville Jaguars fans from his luxury box. Classy.

 The Panthers were in the midst of losing to the hometown Jaguars, 26-0, leaving Tepper’s team with the worst record in the NFL. In fact, the team hasn’t had a winning record since Tepper bought it five years ago after a sex scandal under the previous owner.

   Tepper accepted the fine and expressed “regret” for the incident, but didn’t apologize. Apparently, he’s still feeling a bit agitated. Panthers fans can identify.

    Well, thanks to Queen Bee, the Internet and Red Dot, I have a suggestion for Mr. Tepper: Clarified butter. Ghee. More of it.

    Ghee is a staple of Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional medicine of India, which is rooted in Hinduism. The philosophy of Ayurvedic medicine contends that the body, mind and soul are connected to the outer world and when the relationship among these elements is out of balance, health problems arise. 

    Ghee is often suggested to improve gut health and they say a healthy gut is a healthy body. It helps in cleansing the body of harmful stuff. In fact, it is regarded by some as one of the most sattvic foods. In Hinduism, sattva (a Sanskrit word) is having a serene, harmonious state of mind.  

    Some believers say that regular consumption of ghee leads to a reduction in stress and anxiety levels.

    It can’t play quarterback, Mr. Tepper, but ghee whiz, at least it’s more sattvic than listening to Snoop Dogg commenting on Olympic equestrian events in Paris.

       I told you we’d get there.

(PS: I have attained Queen Bee status just one time in more than a year of playing the game.)

rjgaydos@gmail.com



     




DeVito, Giuliani and Good Timing

Thursday, December 21st, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

Tommy DeVito in action.

Tommy DeVito in action.

  Timing, they say, is everything. Whoever “they” are, I tend to agree with them. And I’m also the first to admit that my timing on this column is terrible, from a journalistic viewpoint.

   But I don’t write to a deadline anymore and, well, a story is still a story, especially in these days of no more local newspapers.

    So, two stories that got my attention a while back involved a couple of guys who you could say are living, breathing examples of a certain type often referred to as stereotypical inhabitants of the North Jersey/New York City axis: Tommy DeVito and Rudy Giuliani.

     DeVito, for those who don’t follow sports, is a quarterback in the National Football League. That statement alone is testament to the fact that, when it comes to timing, DeVito’s has turned out to be almost mystical.

        DeVito is the starting quarterback for the New York Giants because the quarterback who started the season as number one suffered a serious injury and was replaced by the backup quarterback, who also was seriously injured. The team was also not playing well.

          Some might say right place, right time and, yes, that’s true, but DeVito, a 23-year-old graduate of  North Jersey’s famed Don Bosco High, had to put himself in that position.

           His football career at Syracuse and Illinois was unremarkable and he was not drafted as a quarterback by any NFL team. Time to look for a career that doesn’t require good downfield vision and a willingness to be slammed to the ground by 260-pound linemen?

          No, DeVito asked the Giants for a tryout and someone liked what he saw and DeVito got a walk-on spot as the team’s third (only in emergencies!) quarterback.

           Badaboom, badabing, and there’s the North Jersey kid who still lives with his parents playing quarterback as the moribund Giants suddenly win three straight games and lift all of North Jersey and much of New York City out of the football doldrums.

         Turns out the kid’s got guts, can take lots of hits and can throw the ball. And he’s got a confident attitude as demonstrated by an Italian hand gesture he made famous after his first three wins. Kind of an in-your-face don’t mess with us message folks from the area would recognize and the rest of the U.S. was introduced to via TV. 

  I mentioned first three wins because, as you may know, the honeymoon ended last weekend at the hands of the Saints, who tossed Devito’s hand gesture back at him.

     No bigee. He’s still the Giants starting quarterback, his teammates support him, he has an agent out of central casting for “Goodfellas,” a cousin named Danny DeVito (not that one) who throws a mean tailgate party and, yes, good timing.

    A story broke recently that his agent raised DeVito’s appearance fee to $20,000 from $10,000, because of his client’s sudden celebrity, and a pizza restaurant canceled the gig, saying they couldn’t afford it. DeVito didn’t miss a beat. He showed up free of charge, probably ordered a chicken parm and undoubtedly said the Giants will take care of the Eagles in their next game. The coach says he’s still the starting quarterback, for now.

     And Rudy? Last I heard, a jury in Atlanta had ordered him to pay two poll workers $148 million for defaming them as part of the Trump team’s efforts to steal the  2020 election.

       Giuliani also, of course, is charged with Trump and others of various crimes in trying to change the election results in Georgia. In fact, he is guilty of lying about the election across the country as Trump’s mouthpiece.

       I wondered if he had the money to pay the two poll workers, but then it turns out he filed for bankruptcy right after the verdict. Maybe he had the presence of mind to recognize that “billionaire” Trump wouldn’t care a whit about Giuliani’s problems when the ex-president has got more than enough of his own.

        How did “America’s Mayor” get here? Bad timing. After 9/11, when he was the dominant political figure in the country, a mayor leading a bloodied and angry New York City out of the rubble of the terrorist attack with courage and pride, he could have run for president and won.

   He did run, in 2008, but not with any sense of purpose and urgency or platform. He skipped the traditional GOP Iowa and New Hampshire primaries and got buried in Florida. Bad timing. He dropped out. He never acted like it was his place and time, which it might well have been. Then he disappeared until he went to work as Trump’s mouthpiece because, well, the allure of power was always there.

    Time, a fondness for power, many bad decisions and, reportedly, a problem with alcohol and Giuliani’s now, at 79, facing bankruptcy and prison. His time has run out.

     Meanwhile, Tommy DeVito hired a new agent to handle his public appearances. Good timing.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

My Dinner with Donald, part two

Saturday, June 3rd, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

Dinner with Trump? No words.

Dinner with Trump? No words.

   It was a good question. An excellent question, actually: “What would you say to him if you did have dinner with him?”

     The “him” in this case would be Donald Trump. The notion of having dinner with him was the subject of a recent column I wrote regarding an email (actually several) from Trump inviting me to enter a lottery for a chance to have dinner with him. One lucky person will win! Just donate!

     Ultimately, I didn’t donate and then killed all the emails and wrote a column about what a unique experience it would be to have dinner with a former president, especially this recently indicted and convicted and still under investigation former president. But then, what would I, a mere retired journalist, possibly say to Trump, I asked jokingly, “Pass the ketchup?”

      The moderator of a Facebook site to which I belong and where I had posted the column (The Thom Hartmann Bloggers Group) approved the post and then called me on it in the comments section. “What would you say?”

       I hate when they do that. Make you get all serious about stuff. But, I thought, it’s a legit question. So I’ve given it some thought.

        Knowing what a narcissist Trump is, there’s always the basic question to ask a prominent person: Who was the biggest influence on your life?

        But I probably wouldn’t want to hear about his racist, slumlord father or his old friend and thug-of-a-lawyer Roy Cohn. Not dinner talk.

        Family? “How’s Baron? When’s the last time you saw him? Does he play any sports? How do you feel about Ivanka losing interest in politics? Wasn’t that something how the woman in the changing room at Bergdorf Goodman looked so much like your second wife, Marla, in that photograph?”

       Scratch family.

       Sports? “How come that hotshot football player, Herschel Walker, whom you signed to play for the New Jersey Generals in the doomed-to-fail USFL when they wouldn’t let you have a team in the NFL, lost, despite your support, when he ran for the Senate in Georgia?”

    No.

    I finally decided the only question I really wanted to ask Trump was, “What did Putin say when it was just the two of you in that room together with no one taking notes and you came out looking like someone who had just been blackmailed over incriminating photos and he was smiling like he had just swallowed the canary?”

     I also figured he’d never answer.

     Umm, “How do you live with yourself?”

     He wouldn’t understand.

     Ultimately, I decided there could be no dinner talk with Donald Trump because from what I’ve seen, he doesn’t have conversations. He talks at you. He makes pronouncements. He tosses out gratuitous insults. He comments on how much he knows about so many things. He makes stuff up. He doesn’t understand a lot of stuff. He has no sense of humor. For some reason, he likes to show off old maps he found lying around the White House. If you’re an attractive, young female, he’ll put his hand on your thigh and slide it as far as possible because he can because, as he’s said, he’s a celebrity.

     And then there’s this: He has, by extension, called me, an ink-stained wretch of a newspaperman, “the enemy of the people.”

      “Pass the ketchup,” it is.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

This Document has been Declassified

Wednesday, February 1st, 2023

By Bob Gaydos

With a tip of the hat to the late, great Jimmy Cannon. …

B8513118-4DD5-44E3-9793-0722263CD894— Maybe it’s just me, but: I’m happy to report that, after an exhaustive search of my file cabinets, mini-safe, closets, boxes that never got unpacked from the last move, junk drawer and basement, I have no classified government documents in my possession. I think.

I’d say I was 100% certain, but recent news stories suggest that such documents are turning up where people least expected them to be. Like in the homes and offices of former vice presidents, including one who is now president. I did my own search after the National Archives asked all living former presidents except Jimmy Carter to check their home files. Even though I never worked for the federal government, I just wanted to be sure because, you know, I’m a patriot. Plus I wanted to make sure no one planted any of those sneaky little documents only because I used to work for newspapers. Can’t be too safe these days.

Having said all that, I’m willing to chalk up the recent discovery of a few classified documents in the home offices of Joe Biden and Mike Pence to sloppy packing up by staff when both men left office. Nothing nefarious going on, especially since lawyers for both men apparently reported the presence of the documents as soon as they were found. No one even knew they were missing.

That’s completely different from the Trump document story. Not only did he deny having any documents at his Mar-a-Lago golf course/home, he ignored requests from the National Archives to return them, ignored a subpoena, accused the FBI of planting classified documents, had his lawyers sign papers saying there weren’t any more documents left on the premises after the FBI raid (there were), and even asked to have them returned. He also claimed to have “declassified” them. Plus, he had boxes upon boxes full of hundreds of sensitive documents at a golf resort frequented by foreign nationals, not a quiet, private office.

So, no, cry and try as Republicans might to make the Trump document story equivalent to Biden’s, it won’t fly.

Obviously, the National Archives, which must be at least slightly embarrassed by all these reappearing “missing documents” they didn’t know about, needs to review its record-keeping practices, and the whole matter of what gets “classified” should also be reviewed. By the way, Carter got a pass because the law about not taking these documents home took effect after he left office. But I’m guessing he probably had a couple gathering dust in Plains, Ga., too.

— Maybe it’s just me, but: Despite all the jokes being made, I find the George Santos story sad on several levels. Sad that an individual (Santos) could be so mentally and emotionally messed up that lying is as natural to him as breathing. Sad that the state of politics in America today is such that someone like Santos could be elected to Congress. Sad that House Speaker Keven McCarthy is so devoid of moral principles and courage that he won’t demand that Santos resign. On the other hand, I am encouraged that Republicans in Nassau County on Long Island, where Santos was elected, are angry and embarrassed and are not only urging him to resign, but actually investigating some of his lies. A glimmer of hope for a party mired in cynicism.

— Maybe it’s just me, but: Philadelphia versus Kansas City is a legitimate championship game for the National Football League, even though KC got a break on that last call on the push out of bounds and Philly got a big break when the Forty-Niners lost their starting quarterback right at the start. Two legit survivors for the crown.

Maybe it’s just me, but: When a six-year-old brings a gun to school and shoots a teacher, it’s not only school staff that has some explaining to do on how it happened, but really, where were the parents in all this? A six-year-old, apparently an angry one, goes off to school with a handgun in addition to his homework? Some serious explaining and accountability is due.

—  Maybe it’s just me, but: Ran across this brief item wandering through YouTube: “Cardi B says, ‘Don’t do butt shots.’” Umm, I’m a child of the ‘50s. Do I really need to know who Cardi B is? And what in the TikTok world is a “butt shot”?

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

By Whatever Name, It’s Still Racism

Sunday, February 13th, 2022
Light And Word Of Racism For Background Stock Photo, Picture And ...

By Bob Gaydos

   Every once in a while that perpetual motion machine I call my mind comes to a screeching halt with what I like to think of as a moment of clarity.  Like when I realized that every political story in the United States for the past six-plus years has been some version of the Republican Party capitulating to Donald Trump’s platform of lies and manipulation to secure power. Different details, same story.

     Recently, I looked at a list of potential topics for columns and had one of those moments. Here’s the list as it appeared on my phone: “NFL, Joe Rogan, supreme court, gerrymandering, Teaching history, the police.”

     “It’s all racism,” I said to myself. “We’re still arguing about its presence when our lives are full of it.”

     I will leave it to others to go into detail on each of these stories because they all deserve it and it will happen anyway. But my point here is that racism is everywhere in America, to the point that even commenting negatively on its presence almost makes it seem acceptable because it seems to be inevitable. That’s troubling, yet I persist.

      Touching briefly on that list:

  • The NFL, its players overwhelmingly black, is being sued because team owners have a pathetic record in hiring black head coaches. And that’s with a league rule that requires diversity in interviewing for coaching positions. And then there’s still Colin Kaepernick, the black quarterback who was blackballed by the league because he took a knee during the National Anthem.
  • President Biden was criticized by Republicans for saying that he would nominate a black woman to fill a coming Supreme Court vacancy. Outrageous! to make color a part of the process, they screamed. Sure, let’s just forget nearly 200 years of only white male justices on the court. Let’s forget it was even longer before a woman justice was approved. Who needs a court that represents all Americans?
  • Efforts are being made in Florida, Texas and other states to prevent teachers from, well, teaching history. That’s because some people don’t like their children hearing uncomfortable facts about America’s history of slavery and racial discrimination.
  • Republican efforts to redraw election districts to make it difficult for people of color (who tend to favor Democrats) to vote continue nationwide and, despite all the publicity, black lives still don’t seem to matter as much as others to some police.
  • But Joe Rogan is the one that really gets me. The comedian/podcaster has been the center of controversy recently regarding the spreading of misinformation on Covid 19 via his podcast on Spotify. Controversy, of course, is pure gold for Rogan. Singer Neil Young pulled all his songs from Spotify because of Rogan’s spreading Covid misinformation and other artists followed suit. Spotify eventually agreed to put a disclaimer on Rogan’s broadcasts on Covid. But the attention on his podcast uncovered an old video which compiled his use of the “N” word in numerous segments over the years. That struck me as odd, being that Rogan is a white comedian and, in my experience, even the most down-to-earth, open-to-all-ideas, average white guy who is not Richard Pryor doesn’t get to do that. There is only one message there and it is racist. Rogan subsequently asked Spotify to remove 70 — that’s 70! — episodes in which he used the word. Sounds almost routine. He subsequently apologized, saying “it is the most regretful and shameful thing I’ve ever had to talk about publicly.” He said he had not used the N-word in years and hoped it would be a “teaching moment.“ Well that’s nice. Me, too. But, as he said, the video compiling the “shameful“ episodes has been out there for years. He could’ve been teaching his fans how wrong it was all this time instead of hoping it would just stay forgotten. Rogan also called release of the video and other criticisms of him “a political hit job.“ That kind of sounds like many of his shows from what I hear. Personally, I can’t recall any conversation in which I used the “N” word, even just to say I shouldn’t use it. I somehow learned early on that it was offensive for any white person to use the word. Using it in any context just gives it more credence. But that’s just me. 
  • One more thing, Rogan, who reportedly has 11 million listeners, was also criticized for mocking on his show the way Asians speak English. He defended it by saying, “But that’s the way they talk.”

      Like I said, it’s all racism.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

Coin Flips, No-Meat Burgers, Big Bang

Tuesday, January 25th, 2022
Buffalo quarterback, Josh Allen, never got a shot in OT.

Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen, never got a shot in OT.


By Bob Gaydos

      I don’t care about the polls. I think Joe Biden is a decent man doing a better than decent job having inherited a decidedly indecent situation. Joe Manchin is another story. Meanwhile, the world turns …

  • Maybe it’s just me, but: I agree with every football fan in America that the NFL overtime rules have to be changed. The fact that the Buffalo Bills lost their divisional playoff game to the Kansas City Chiefs because their quarterback, Josh Allen, said “Tails” instead of “Heads,” is beyond unfair. It is ridiculous. At a minimum, each team should get a chance with the ball in overtime. After the incredibly exciting finish to the game, with each team scoring at will in the final minutes, the final result was a letdown. The quarterbacks, Allen and Patrick Mahomes, were great, the defensive backs exhausted, but if Allen had said “Heads,” I’m certain Buffalo would have won. Forget sudden death, play a full overtime period.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but: McDonald’s messed up big time in naming its new, still-on-trial plant-based burger. The fast-food company has been slow to adapt to the plant-based food movement, which is not surprising given its failure to properly prepare and promote other more healthful choices in the past, including salads and yogurt. The new burger, made with patties from Beyond Meat, will be tried out in 600 McDonald’s locations. It’s called, ta-da, the McPlant. Can you say, “McNo?” Burger King got it right with its plant-based burger launched a couple of years ago. It named the Impossible Brand patty the Impossible Whopper.  Now that’s a name to reckon with. Good burger, too. It’s now introducing Impossible Nuggets. So, while there’s still time, McDonald’s, man up. Let’s see the Beyond Big Mac! Forget the ego, You might sell some burgers.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but: Is anyone surprised that Sarah Palin’s court date with the New York Times had to be postponed because she tested positive for COVID? You wait years to accuse them of libel face-to-face in court, then you can’t be prepared on the day because, well, who needs masks, vaccines, etc.? She was a governor and ran for vice president, remember? Oh right, she’s a Republican.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but: I still can’t get over the mission of the James Webb Space Telescope, never mind the fact that, after 30 days of travel, it’s now ready to deliver on it. The most powerful telescope ever built, the Webb is now parked a million miles away from Earth, but more than that, a million miles and untold years in the past. The giant telescope is programmed to explore the past, to record the beginning of our universe, exploring whatever planets, etc. it finds in the next 20 years or so and report back to NASA. No wisecracks here. Just good luck, James Webb, and say hello to Mr. Musk.

 

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Gruden and Shatner Meet Technology

Thursday, October 28th, 2021

By Bob Gaydos

Jon Gruden

William Shatner

86F645D4-D5AF-482A-BBAA-88C01E6F444C

Jon Gruden

couple of        interesting stories flashed by a couple of weeks ago and quickly faded from most news reports. That’s

common in today’s highly charged political atmosphere. “Other“ news has a tough time getting noticed.

     The stories involved former pro football coach/sports commentator Jon Gruden and former actor William Shatner. At first glance, they may seem worlds apart, but I see a connection. Two, in fact.

      Technology and priorities. Technology sacked Gruden and lifted Shatner, Captain Kirk of Star Trek fame, to another dimension. In the process, misplaced priorities of others came into focus.

       Gruden was forced to resign his position as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders in the NFL after The New York Times reported that emails Gruden had sent several years ago to the owner of the Washington Football Team (that’s its official name) were full of racist, homophobic and misogynistic remarks. Gruden was a football TV analyst at the time.

    His contract with the Raiders was for 10 years and $100 million. There were six years and $40 million left on the contract. He recently reached a settlement with the Raiders on the remaining dollars. Being a pro football coach pays well, but only if you hide your bigotry well.

         In the years before email, Gruden would probably have survived just as many coaches have survived, by hiding their prejudices in public. But this is a new century and the kind of things that were OK between the guys in private are no longer acceptable when they become public.

      Indeed, Gruden‘s emails came to light as part of an NFL investigation into charges of sexual harassment filed against the team by their cheerleaders, all female.  Gruden made his remarks in messages sent to the owner of the team,  a team, by the way, which still has not figured out a new nickname to replace “Redskins.“ It was finally forced to give up the name because, well, it’s a new century.

       Gruden released a statement, saying: “I have resigned as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt  anyone.”

       Well, yeah, that’s why you say nasty things about people behind their backs instead of to their faces. But when you are in a position of power, how do those opinions play out in your day-to-day dealings with those people? And when you say insulting things about people who might have some power over you, say the commissioner of the NFL, as Gruden apparently did, well that might have an impact on how that person deals with you and your team.

         Gruden is reportedly depressed about what has happened. But maybe he shouldn’t have sent those emails. And perhaps the NFL, before it gets too self-righteous, should apologize to Colin Kaepernick, the black quarterback who was blackballed for economic reasons by the league for taking a knee during the National Anthem to protest racism in America. That would include the NFL, even though the majority of its players are black. The misogyny and homophobia in the NFL are a given. 

        Kaepernick, and other players who joined him, publicly protested treatment of blacks that Gruden, and for sure, others affiliated with the NFL, supported in private through their attitudes and comments.

   Nothing changes if nothing changes. It’s a new century, gentlemen. New Technology tells you if someone really scored a touchdown. It can also tell you if that smiling face on the coach is the mask of a bigot.

     Shatner is a different story. In the first place, he’s a “former“ actor, because he’s 90 years old and retired. He wasn’t forced to resign.

      In an inspired theatrical gesture, he was invited to be a passenger on the New Shepard space vessel launched into sub-orbital space by Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin company. Shatner set a record, going where no man or woman that age had ever gone before.

      He returned from his brief trip to space awestruck and emotional.. 

      “Looking into blackness,” he said, you “look down and there’s the blue down there and the black up there … there is mother Earth and comfort and there … is there death? This is life and that’s death.”

    While saying, “everyone needs to do this” when he returned to Earth, Shatner also had a message about the planet itself.

     Commenting on how thin the atmosphere appeared to him as he traveled upward he noted the “fragility” of the Earth. “We need to take care of the planet, but it’s so fragile,” he said. “There’s this little tiny blue skin that is 50 miles wide, and we pollute it, and it’s our means of living.”

    Indeed. Well put, captain. The question is whether his host, Bezos, heard the two-part message: As humans seek to further explore space, we must do more to protect the health of the place we call home. Bezos, the worlds wealthiest human, certainly is in a position to do plenty to protect the environment of the planet that provides him with those riches.

     Space travel began in the 20th century and there’s apparently no way of stopping wealthy entrepreneurs from trying to capitalize on it. There were other passengers on Shatner‘s trip, a couple of whom may have paid half a million dollars apiece for the privilege. Perhaps some of that money could be invested in saving the Amazon forest or trying to reduce the pollution from all those Amazon delivery vehicles providing next-day service right here on Earth.  

      That way, we can all live long and prosper.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

Generosity and a Turbulent Awakening

Tuesday, June 16th, 2020

BOB GAYDOS

The Report … the red shoes, racism and Kool-Aid

If they fit ...

If they fit … 

   They were sitting on top of a trash can outside the entrance to a supermarket we frequent. A pair of red shoes. Women’s slip-on loafers, worn but still wearable. Take us if you need us.

      You couldn’t miss seeing them as you entered the store. They were obviously not trash because they could have just been tossed into the bin on which they were resting. No, they were … a gift. If they had a card attached it might have said: “Times are tough. I don’t need these any more. Save your money for food. And water, if they have any inside.”

     But there was no card. Just the shoes, speaking silently. If the shoes fit, please take them. Do not be too proud. They have served me well. Wear them in good health.

    There’s a lot of pain and anger in the world right now. Also, fear, frustration, impatience, confusion and resentment, compounded by an appalling lack of responsible leadership by many of those elected to provide it. So we are left to our own devices. Generosity. Sharing. Compassion. Small gestures. All we need do is notice.

          — By the way … A few weeks back, I wrote about some “famous” people whose paths had crossed with mine and invited readers to share similar experiences. Here are a couple of my favorites:

— “I suspect this will be rejected as ”no words were exchanged,” but my run-in with Robin Williams was all in “mime.” Thus, words could not be spoken. In a world of exemptions I now claim this as mine. … In the early ‘80’s, while being part of an “art glass ” company, I was coming out of a meeting with architects somewhere in Manhattan. As I bounded the steps to the sidewalk I literally (and I mean literally) ran into Robin and two women. We reared up inches from each other’s noses, made faces, feigned shock and dismay, rotated around each other like an old cartoon and slowly backed away from each other fending each other off with glares and shock. No big deal, but fun to recall and relate.”

Ernie Miller

 — “Ok, here goes …. Trumpeters extraordinaire Raphael Mendez, Harry James, Dizzy Gillespie, Doc Severinsen, and Al Hirt.  (Yes, I used to play trumpet and heard each of them perform in concert.)  Pete Seeger, Allen Ginsburg, Jane Fonda, poet Robert Lowell, Jules Feiffer, Rev. William Sloane Coffin Jr., Dr. Benjamen Spock, actors Judith Malina and Julian Beck of the Living Theater, photographer Karl Bissenger, Grace Paley, Tom Hayden, Dave Dellinger, Dorothy Day, Phil and Daniel Berrigan, Tuli Kupferberg of the Fugs, Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. Al Lowry, and Jesse Jackson.”

Jim Bridges

(Jim noted that many of his meetings were the result of his active participation in the civil rights movement.)

      Unfortunately, the internet has misfiled or erased details on Sean Kober’s dinner with Floyd Patterson, Moe Mitterling’s interview with Roy Campanella, Debra Scacciaferro’s meetings with famous authors and someone (!) shaking hands with Princess Di. Apologies and thanks.

       — By the way … All it took was a worldwide explosion of demonstrations condemning police violence against blacks for the NFL to recognize that Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the National Anthem was a remarkably restrained and dignified way of expressing his outrage. Now, some team needs to give him a job as a quarterback.

        — By the way … While we’re at it, how about NASCAR finally acknowledging that all those Confederate flags at their races were not a symbol of a proud moment in our nation’s history? It’s as if millions of Americans — white Americans — suddenly realized what the Civil War was all about. And who lost.

      — By the way … It takes an extraordinary amount of chutzpah to go around calling COVID-19 a hoax, not wearing a mask, and encouraging everyone to go about business as usual and to then host a large political rally in a state where cases of the virus are spiking and at which attendees will be required to sign a waiver of responsibility for the host if the attendees happen to, you know, get COVID-19. What it takes to sign that waiver is an extraordinary amount of Kool-Aid.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

Bob Gaydos is writer-in-residence at zestoforange.com.

Positive Vibes for Negative Times

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

By Bob Gaydos

good news jpgTrump to Puerto Rico: Drop Dead!

Trump to Americans struggling to afford health insurance: Drop dead!

Trump to North Korea: Drop dead!

Trump to the free press: Drop dead!

Trump to the LGBT community: Drop dead:

Trump to immigrants: Drop dead!

Trump to NFL players: Drop dead!

Trump to Iran: Drop dead!

Trump to pregnant war widow: He knew what he signed up for.

Trump to anyone who will listen: I am not a moron!

                                                         ***

In reply to my recent column on the Nibiru planet hoax and efforts to contact intelligent life elsewhere in the universe — maybe even set up a colony on Mars — my friend Ernie Miller commented: “It is nice you can maintain a positive outlook amidst the carnage and cacophony that is daily life.”

“Ernie,” I replied,“it ain’t easy.”

In truth, it has never been harder in the half century I have been writing about “daily life,” as it were.

As it is, today it is sometimes unbelievably depressing and infuriating to reflect upon the “carnage and cacophony” in which we are seemingly enmeshed. And writing about it? Everyone is writing about it. Social media is awash in it. Yes, actual factual information is vital, but that steady drumbeat of ignorance and arrogance at the center of most news stories today only seems to add to the great wall of negative energy engulfing our universal consciousness, making us act, if you will, as if we were all collectively unconscious.

Thank you, Carl Jung, for allowing me to misappropriate and mangle your theory for my own personal benefit. In my defense, my hope is that whatever bits of positive energy I can contribute to the greater consciousness can only be for the good of the collective universe.

So, here goes:

  • I’m getting a 2 percent raise in my Social Security check next year. That’s good news not only for me, but for millions of others who receive monthly checks (thank you, FDR) and who have not had a raise since 2012 because the government figured inflation wasn’t bad enough and the cost of living wasn’t going up so’s you’d notice. Some of us noticed. I could feel the vibe of 66 million recipients ripple across America when I read the story. It’s the first substantial raise in years. Most recipients are seniors over age 65, but some payments also go to the severely disabled and orphans. The average check is currently $1,377 a month, meaning next year’s increase will raise the typical payment by $27 a month. Listen, it’s a start.
  • We also learned that, despite the devastation Hurricane Maria visited on Puerto Rico, the Arecibo Observatory, made famous in the films “Contact” (Jodie Foster) and “GoldenEye” (Sean Connery), survived with what was called “fixable” damage and no casualties. This is positive news because Arecibo is a star in the search-for-life-in-the-universe universe. The radio telescope,  built in 1963, was the first to find planets around other stars, the first to provide an image of an asteroid and — back to Carl Sagan’s “Contact” — sent the famous Arecibo Message to M13, a cluster of bodies 25,000 light years away. The message informs any sentient beings who receive it who we are and where we live. Send us a text message. Of course, it’ll be at least 50,000 years before we get an answer, but it’s the sending that contributes hope to the universal consciousness. Arecibo’s radar has been called “by far the most sensitive planetary radar in the world” and the folks who fund it — the National Science Foundation — say it does “excellent science.” Alas, in this era of anti-science, an official at NSF says, what with the damage Arecibo did incur, “If you look at the overall sweep of things that we’re funding, we do have to make choices and we can’t keep funding everything that’s excellent.” Perish the thought. So, here’s looking at you, Arecibo, and here’s sending some positive vibes about you into the nearby universe.
  • Staying in Puerto Rico and the notion of doing what you can for the collective good, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, an alternative energy company, made the initial installment of his promise to restore the island’s power grid with solar energy. San Juan’s Hospital del Niño – a children’s hospital with 3,000 patients — has power again, supplied by a collection of Tesla solar panels in the parking lot. The Tesla Twitter account posted: “Hospital del Niño is first of many solar-storage projects going live. Grateful to support the recovery of Puerto Rico with (Gov.) Ricardo Rossello.” All kinds of positive energy here. Musk, of course, is also the one talking about establishing a colony on Mars and who’s willing to bet against him?
  • In an extraordinary example of quantum positive energy, a  hand-written note by Albert Einstein sold at auction in Jerusalem for $1.56 million. The note was written in November 1922, when Einstein, then 43, was in Japan for a lecture series. While in Tokyo, he learned he’d been awarded the Nobel Prize in physics. When a courier came to his hotel room to make a delivery, Einstein did not have any money to tip him, so he handed the messenger a signed note, written in German: “A calm and humble life will bring more happiness than the pursuit of success and the constant restlessness that comes with it.” A kind of e=mc2 for a peaceful universe. The message was obviously paid forward several times before someone realized what Einstein clearly knew at the time — a bird in the hand (a signed note from a Nobel laureate, say) is worth two (or even more) in the bush.
  • Chris Long, who plays defensive end for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, is donating his entire year’s salary to improve educational opportunities in the United States. Long used his first six game checks to provide two scholarships for students in Charlottesville, Va., his hometown. He’s dedicating the remaining 10 to launch the “Pledge 10 for Tomorrow” campaign. “I believe that education is the best gateway to a better tomorrow for EVERYONE in America,” he wrote on Pledge It.  “I’m encouraging fans, businesses and every person with a desire to join in my pursuit of equal education opportunities for all students to make their own pledge.’ He hopes to double his pledge with this collective effort.
  • In a somewhat desperate effort to find some positive news, I typed “good news” in the Google search bar. Voila! The web is awash in other folks looking to add positive energy to the collective consciousness. Duh. Some of the above came from that search. It’s good to remember: We are not alone, even in the private universe of our anxious minds.
  • Speaking of synchronicity, hurry it up, Mueller.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

And So it Went: A Sports Fan Desperately in Need of a Back Page

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

By Bob Gaydos

Usain Bolt, enjoying himself

Usain Bolt … enjoying himself

I started reading newspapers from back to front pretty much when I started reading newspapers regularly. Eleven. Twelve. Little League age. I should back up a bit here and explain that in our house having a half dozen or so daily papers stacked on a chair at the end of the kitchen table was routine. My mother was an avid reader of newspapers, a fact which baffles me to this day because she virtually never discussed current events. She had to be the best-informed, least-opinionated person I’ve ever known. Kind of the opposite of what we have today.

At any rate, among those daily papers were two New York City tabloids, The New York Daily News and The New York Daily Mirror. For a boy whose life revolved around sports, they were required reading and sports, of course, was the back of the paper, starting with the back page. The papers had great reporters, columnists, photos, everything necessary to keep a blossoming Yankee fan from noticing that other Yankees — American GIs — were fighting in a war in Korea. An uncle among them.

As I grew older, my interests broadened, as did my appreciation of good writing. The pile of papers at the end of the table grew taller proportionally. What once consisted of The Bayonne Times, The Jersey Journal, The Newark Star-Ledger, The News and The MIrror, gradually expanded to at varying times include The Herald Tribune (my favorite), the Journal-American, The New York Post and occasionally even the World Telegram & Sun. If there was a sports section, I found it. If it wasn’t the back page, it was still the back of the paper. Fun and games. Batting averages and touchdown passes.

No war. No politics. No crime. No scandal. Plenty of time to read about that other stuff later in the day. It helped me ease into my day even as I began to realize there were other supposedly more important topics to read about. Sports was always an escape valve from the petty annoyances and major disappointments of the rest of life.

Maybe that’s why sports reporters always seemed to be so content, regardless of what was happening in the world. They got to go to a sporting event free, write a story about and do it over again the next day. And get paid for it. Sweet. I had a brief taste of this in my journalism career as a sports editor in upstate New York for a year or so. The heaviest weight the world put on my shoulders was how to play Mark Spitz’s record haul of seven gold medals at the 1972 Olympics. As fate would have it, I worked for a tabloid, so I splashed a big picture of Spitz, his medals and the headline, “The Magnificent Seven.” I thought it was as good as any of the New York City tabs could do.

Later, as editorial page editor at a different upstate paper for 23 years, I wound up writing about all the other stuff. Stuff I still write about today when I feel the inspiration, which of late has been difficult to come by. All of which is a long way of saying that, while I still turn to the sports page to start my day today, it’s not nearly the same. First of all, on the Internet there is no back page. More to the point, the sports pages are no longer a sanctuary from the social problems of the day.

One of the biggest sports stories recently was the “retirement” of Alex Rodriguez from the New York Yankees. A-Rod got $27 million to go away. You don’t have to honor your contract for next year, Alex; take the money with our blessings. Rodriguez, of course, was a central figure in baseball’s steroids scandal. He was suspended for a year for cheating. Why he felt the need to cheat is beyond me since he was regarded as one of the best players in baseball without enhancing his performance with drugs. Instead of marveling at his skills, which is, after all, what sports is all about, fans are left to wonder how much his statistics were inflated by steroids.

I watched a movie recently, “The Program,” which details the lengths to which Lance Armstrong (If ever there was a name for a sports hero, that was it) went to win the Tour de France — seven times. Armstrong, who survived testicular cancer, apparently knew he was good, but not good enough, to win the legendary cycling race, so he signed on for a regimented doping program from the outset, recruiting teammates for the lying and cheating that brought him fame and fortune and ultimate disgrace. He made the front page.

It’s not just drugs. Last week, a kicker for the New York Giants was suspended for one game because of an old domestic violence complaint by his ex-wife. One game. The National Football League has been plagued with domestic violence complaints for several years and has yet to figure out a consistent policy on dealing with them. Then again, the NFL also had trouble figuring out how to penalize teams that deflate the footballs.

Of course, the biggest sporting event of the year has been the Olympics in beautiful Brazil, with its polluted waters, corrupt government, and economic problems. The event began with the Russian track team being banned because of a government-sponsored doping program. It featured a medal-winning American swimmer, Ryan Lochte, claiming he and some teammates were robbed at gunpoint in Rio, when they actually had gotten drunk and trashed a service station bathroom.

This was all back page stuff, but hardly a diversion from the travails of the day. Hardly uplifting of the human spirit, as the Olympics likes to present itself.

But then … there was also Michael Phelps, still swimming despite two DUI arrests, and his record haul of medals. Also: the other USA swimmers, male and female; the women gymnasts; the basketball team; Yusra Mardini, the Syrian refugee who swam as part of an Olympic Refugee team; the female runners who collided, fell down, helped each other up and finished the race. Literally uplifting.

Finally, there is the face of this Olympics, at least for me: Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt blurring to victory for the third time in the 100-meter dash, permanently retiring the title of “Fastest Human Alive.” Bolt actually took the time in a qualifying race for the 100-meters to glance back to see if anyone was gaining on him. No one was. He smiled. Wow! Now that’s a back page.

Bolt won three golds. Of course, the Twitterverse could not avoid the question of the day: What drugs do you think he’s on?

And so it went.

Dedicated to: Jimmy Breslin, Jimmy Cannon and Jim Murray.

rjgaydos@gmail.com