And then there’s this…

Rudy Giuliani says that when he was mayor, he gauged the New York City budget by Wall Street bonuses.

Of all the dumb ass things to think or say for that matter, it seems that Rudy Guiliani thinks that fat cat bonuses for Wall Street executives is a good thing that keeps jobs for New Yorkers? 

WHAT THE FUCK????!!!!!!!

Yep that’s what he said.  His argument is that with the bonuses will lead to more spending in restaurants and department stores.  So in other words if Mortimer is not spending his multi-million dollar bonus at the Waldorf Astoria and Barney’s… those companies will be forced to lay off employees!

You know – I just wonder how stupid folk have to be to let certain things come out of their mouths.  And to think this dude ran for president.

Super Sunday in Tampa

Two weeks is definitely enough time to wait around for the Super Bowl.  For the teams, they get a chance to enjoy the moment and perhaps heal or recover a bit from a season full of hits.  But for the media, they tend to run out of things to say and it get’s pretty redundant.

“Hey, did you know that Kurt Warner used to bag groceries?” 

“Did you know Cardinals coach Ken Whiesenhunt used to coach the Steelers and wanted the job after Cowher retired?”

“Jerome Bettis is from Detroit,”  and “Tyler Hansborough plays hard,” is tired of hearing it.  But it is what it is.  Such are the story lines that we have to listen to over and over again leading up to the big game.  Normally I just stay away from it so I won’t get a case of Super Bowl Media Coverage Overkill.

I will readily admit that I am a die hard Steelers fan.  I grew up adoring the black and gold as much as I did the purple and gold of the Lakers.  I had the priviledge of meeting Bradshaw, Swan, Stallworth, Franco, Blier, Greene, Lambert, Blount, etc. as a kid on a hot training camp day in Latrobe, PA.   I am in no way less impressed with this crew of Big Ben, Hines, Palo, and Farrior.  I would love to see US get another ring for the other hand.

        

Still, I can’t hate on my man Larry Fitzgerald.  He has mad game and went to the University of Pittsburgh.  I am glad I already invested in his authentic #11 jersey a couple years ago.  I’m sure I’ll rock it sometime this week as a show of respect that I have for him and the way he plays the game.

Generally, people in St. Louis still have plenty of affection for Warner.  He brought us a Super Bowl victory and if it were not for Mike Martz outsmarting himself and freezing Marshall Faulk out of the next Super Bowl they played in we would have had another one.  Kurt is definitely hot and feeling it right now and I don’t take that from him.  Still I think he left St. Louis like a sucka.  They were losing game after game, he threw pick after pick, and he led the league in fumbles ala Tony Banks.  Yet instead of taking some responsbility for his bad play, he never did.  Instead he whined about how the team seemed to not want him to read his bible at practice. 

I was like, “Hell when you’re winning read all the scriptures you want.  But if not, try the play book when your at Rams Park for practice.” 

Same thing when he went to the Giants.  He played like crap and never owned it.  But when he’s winning, it’s Jesus this and Jesus that.  Never Jesus when they lost, just excuses.

That’s my rant.  Still you wouldn’t find many people that don’t think Kurt is a good guy.  I am sure he is.  And I am genuinly happy for him getting another crack at it.

Much love to my friends Vonda and her husband Sponce.  I grew up with Vonda and we were together on that training camp trip as kids.  Her and hubby own 4 Steeler season tickets at  Heinz Field and they will be at the game on Sunday.  (Hey V, I’m looking for my gear in the mail…. what’s up? ) 

Anyway, hardly no one I hear gives the Cardinals a chance.  Most of the pundits are predicting a blowout.  I can’t figure that one out.  This may be the Cardinals first look at a title.  And the Steelers have a great defense and 20 something guys from the last Super Bowl winning team on this one.  Still the Birds are hot.  Fitzgerald is playing out of his mind, and if Bolden is not fussing with his O cordinator on the sidelines, he can be a game breaker himself.  I hope the Steelers aren’t believing the hype and expect to be in for a battle.

And so it is.  My dad was a Big Red fan when the football team was here in St. Louis.  He loved Terry Metcalf, Roy Green, Jim Hart, Dan Dierdorf, and Ottis Anderson.  For years and years Bill Bidwill didn’t seem to care whether the team won or lost – only if they made money – much to the dismay of many loyal fans.  I think a lot of them will root for the Cardinals on Sunday – Especially with that Warner connection.   As I said, I am happy for them – but don’t get it twisted.  I will have my terrible towel with me waving it in front of some TV set.  My loyalties are with Mike Tomlin and the Steel City! 

Even the president is with me on this one… I’m just sayin!

Enjoy the game everyone~

Go Steelers!    

 

Sports Stories of the Ridiculous, Sad, and Wierd

Hoops

By now many have heard of the girls basketball team in Texas who outscored a lesser opponent 100-0.  The Covenant School, a private Christian school beat Dallas Academy like they were the, dare I say…. the  Philistines.   Later after refusing to offer an apology, the coach was fired.  I happen to think it’s a good fire considering the circumstances.

As a sportsman, I appreciate competitiveness and playing hard.  This isn’t the first time I have seen such a lop sided score.  I remember when my high school girls team beat another local team 105-10.  I don’t think you should tell kids to let up and not do their best either.  However, what is equally important is the way in which one competes. 

As a basketball official, I see a lot of blowouts.  Sometimes one team is just more advanced than another.  Some teams are more talented than others.  It takes about two minutes or less to figure out whats going to happen.  Pretty soon, the lead is so big that we won’t stop the clock on the whistles.  With that said, a smart coach who gets it will not allow the best players to continue to dominate and humiliate the other team by putting on a full court defensive press or continuing to shoot three pointers.   Sure he will let the stars start the game.  Perhaps by the time they break a sweat they lead by 25.  But then coach will take them out, put in the reserves and run a more conservative offense without a press.  In some tournaments there are no pressing rules after a team leads by a certain amount.  This is not necessarily the case in official high school play.  But this is where intelligence should have taken over. 

Instead of backing off, this jerk continues to have his team press and run fast breaks complete with three pointers.  I wonder once it got to be 76-0, did he think the other team had a chance to come back? 

When players are pros and getting a paycheck I got no problems with putting up big numbers.  It’s bad karma in my opinion to throw Hail Mary’s in the fourth quarter of a football game if your up by 35.  And MLB teams normally don’t steal bases past the 7th inning with a 5 plus run lead.  If they do rest assured somebody is going to get a 100mph fast ball in the ass at some point.  The players will police themselves.  But when its amateur, the coaches need to show respect by restraint.  He should have put his reserves in and if they still scored the same 100 by running a standard offense that did not call for three’s being hoisted like fireworks on the 4th of July, and they at least picked up the defense in the front court, then so be it.  I wouldn’t advocate telling his players not to score.  But there is a way to do everything.  And putting it to some kids who haven’t won a game in 4 years who also happen to have learning disabilities is not making his team better. 

I can tell you now that as an official, I would have stopped the game if the coach didn’t back the heck up.  And if I were the other coach?  Let’s just say I would have had a little something-something for him before that game was over. 

Football

Meanwhile, in Kentucky a high school football coach has been charged with reckless homicide in the heat stroke death of one of his players.   Initially I’m not too sure how I come out on this.  The widow of former NFL player Korey Stringer just settled with the league after he died of the same thing a few years ago.  Heat stroke is no joke, and training football players is unlike any training in sport.  Traditionally, its not unusual at all for players to sweat and be worked into exhaustion during training camp situations.  It’s summertime and temperatures are generally at their highest levels.  Certainly guys like Lombardi, Bear Bryant, Bo Schembechler and the likes rode their players into oblivion they are revered for making tough men.  I am sure it’s challenging for a coach to know when he is pushing a player too hard or how to recognize when a kid, especially a young kid really needs a break or is not giving his best. 

Still I got to say that if it’s true that the player was not allowed to receive water on a hot and humid Kentucky day, that is a judgement that may cost the coach his freedom.  I will be keeping an eye on the case as I don’t want to assume much of anything before the facts come out.  Still, it’s pretty sad. 

Torre

I am biased when it comes to Joe Torre and I though he was a smooth operator when he led the Yankees to several World Series titles,  kept his cool within the media hot-bed capital of the world, while putting up with an owner who didn’t know when to shut up.  I though he was shafted by the Yankees having to leave for the Dodgers especially when he was not mentioned at all during the ceremonies on the last day at the old Yankee Stadium.  But this book deal where he supposedly talks about Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod) being called A-Fraud by teammates, saying he was obsessed with Derek Jeter and that GM Brian Cashman was silent when he got run from NY is something I can’t wrap my brain around.  Torre was legendary for being professional and keeping team business in the clubhouse even in the midst of turmoil.  Just because he went to Los Angeles to manage, still he was the last guy I thought would go Hollywood and do a Phil Jackson tell all book.  I mean, where does that get him?  What does he get out of it?  I am sure he was disappointed with A-Rod’s performance or lack thereof especially in the playoffs.  Maybe he thought it cost him his job.  But damn, don’t hate too much.  Torre himself, be it successful with the Yankees, was horrible as manager of the Cardinals.  And he didn’t do great with the Mets and Braves either. 

Truth be told the Yankees took a chance on him in 96 and it worked out well for both parties.  They went to the playoffs each year, and won four World Series titles.  Torre got the benefit of managing several hall of fame players and he did a great job.  But he also got a lot of credit and a lot of money from The Boss. 

His Dodger team was just OK until Manny Ramirez made his way out west and put the entire city on his back.  My thing is this.. if you’re going to do that book, do it when you’re still with the Yankees not after you leave.  Now you just look like a bitter old man.  I guess vanity gets to the best of us.  I just thought Torre was above it.

Blago on Blow? I think so!

Gov. Rod Blagojevich says he considered selecting Oprah Winfrey to fill Barack Obama's former Senate seat.

What in the H – E – double hockey sticks is up with this cat?  Has he flown over the cuckoo’s nest or what? 

The Illinois governor has an impeachment trial going on.  And since he thinks it’s unfair he decided to leave the state for a host of interviews.  So far he’s laying out such gems such as he considered Oprah Winfrey for the senate seat he allegedly tried to sell.  I mean in one sense that makes sense considering she makes enough money to meet any price he may have asked – but SERIOUSLY!    Oprah? 

Not to be outdone by himself, he also compared himself to Mandela, MLK, and Gandhi.  WTF? 

Man I think this dude is doing Shrooms, LSD or something! 

He obviously does not live on this planet.  He lives in planet Blago.  A world only he understands.

I’m not sure what is more stupid – his words or the fact that some book publisher is considering whether to give Sara Palin an $11 million advance for a boring ass book about her life that she will in no way tell the truth about anyway.

Guitar Hero, or Something Like It.

guitar

My son Lil-C has taken up the guitar.  I love it when he is excited about some new project and I applaud his efforts as he tries out the different arts.  Whenever he gets into something I try to encourage him to learn the history of his craft.  For instance when he started acting in school I showed him Denzel in Malcolm X.  I told him to pay close attention to Malcom’s transformation from street hustler, to broken prisonor, to willing disciple of Islam, to the confident leader of The Nation.  In an amazing performance each of these characters were totally believable.  I also got him hip to Sidney Portier, and we would talk about other actors and their techniques, the research that goes into creating a character etc.  The point was and is always to be the best.  I never wanted him to think he could just show up and pull off something great cause it doesn’t happen like that.  It takes years of dedication and commitment to maximize a skill. 

Now he’s into the music thing and since he chose the guitar, of course we had to talk about the great guitarist.  Of course the usual suspects come to mind.  Jimi Hendrix, was the first name he spit out.  I was like, “Yea man that’s cool.  Did you know Jimi started out playing with The Isley Brothers way back in the day?  Which means you have to talk about Ernie Isley.  In my eyes this guy is legendary and I have listened to his complicated licks all of my life.  Ernie often sounds like two guys are playing.  And he makes it look easy.  I’ve seen him once and since he lives in St. Louis it’s not unusual to see him sit in on someone’s jam session.  

 Also one of my favorites, Neal Schon from Journey.  In rock and roll, the names that people spit are generally cats like Slash or Eddie Van Halen back in my day.  These dudes were dope no doubt.  But what I like about Neal is his ability to make melody with the instrument as if it were speaking it’s own language.  If you listen to most Journey songs, he is always featured in a small or large solo one way or another.  And his style in my opinion was a perfect compliment to Steve Perry’s Sam Cook like falsetto.  No way Journey would be the successful band they were without Neal.  No way!   

Can’t talk about guitars without mentioning Carlos Santana.  I mean you don’t even have to say his first name… just Santana says it all.  Santana is not just a name, but a brand.  And when he plays something you know it’s his without having to ask.  What I appreciate about him most, like Isley is that when you see him play, you can tell that he just loves it.  

There are many jazz guitarist I enjoy too.  The first one I ever got hip to was Earl Klugh.  “Heart String” was the first jazz album I purchased and is still a timeless classic.  My 14 year old son Alex begged me for a copy of “Life Stories” when he heard me playing it last summer.  There was a time when I just bought Klugh’s stuff when it was released.  I enjoyed the fact the he would have a funky album, then do a mellow one, then do a classical one.  He was never afraid to do something different and explore a variety of genres.  I can’t figure the brother out now though.  I haven’t liked any of his newer stuff in years. 

 

But my favorite – top guitarist of all time…. none other than the Purple One – PRINCE!   

That’s right I said it!  Bring them all on past and present.  And none of them can make that thang sing like he can.  This self taught phenom made me LOVE the guitar.  The first time he blew me away was when he played, “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad.”  This was back in 1979!  Again, Prince tells stories with the guitar and it has its own language.  Hearing him play I can hear his passion, his joy, his pain, his excitement.  I never saw anyone who loves to play and perform more than Prince.  He came to St. Louis one Tuesday and gave us a “B” concert… it wasn’t even his best effort and I could tell from other performances – but it was still damn good.   So good that I wasn’t even mad.   Anytime he wants to show up – I’m down for the cause.

 Prince playing guitar  (© AP Images)

So again my message to my son – is play on playa!  Love the instrument, learn the instrument, respect the instrument, work on your craft and most of all enjoy the gift of music and the creativity that comes from your soul.  I’ll be sending you some of my favorite guitar performances… so look for that in the mail soon.

The Evolution of Me and Francis Scott Key

 

It’s never been a mystery to me that we live in two different Americas.  One for black people and the other for white.  That didn’t stop with the passage of the civil rights bill of 1964.  Whether it’s the criminal justice system, the rate of poverty, educational inequities, political conflicts, etc., we still have not been a nation united across the board.   

Starting in the late 80’s I made a decision that I would do something to show my displeasure.  In a subtle but defiant act, I decided that I would no longer stand for the Star Spangled Banner (aka The National Anthem) when it’s played publicly.  My thinking was that as long as my people are oppressed in this country, I would not stand along side, hand over heart giving reverence to their theme song.  If a game were on TV, I would turn the channel during the playing of the anthem.  Sometimes I would be at a sporting event, and if it was for instance a basketball tournament on Martin Luther King Day, they would play The Banner and James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the so called Negro National Anthem.  (And a most beautiful and majestic song may I add.)  In that case I would stand for only the latter, and sit immediately afterwards.  It never bothered me in the least nor made me uncomfortable when I would get stares or dismissive mugs from others.  I figured what the heck.   I wasn’t disrespecting anyone else nor making any noise.  I simply sat silently and waited for it to pass.  This was my personal protest.  This was my Tommie Smith gesture and I offered it unapologetically.

I talked about how the election of Barack Obama to the presidency has inspired me to do more to contribute to my country.  A close friend and I had a conversation yesterday where we talked about how inspired we were to improve ourselves and our surroundings.  He said, “Every American, black, white, brown, whatever has a responsibility to better themselves and their community.   I don’t care if you take a class, get a GED or whatever.  You need to do something to step your game up!”  I totally agreed and told him of how I was inspired to blog about that very subject for a week.  I have always done things to better my world.  But I felt isolated still.  I felt my influence would only go so far as the world at large with it’s political machine both locally and nationally was against most of what I stood for.  My loyalty only extended so far to the country as a whole.  Because I saw how arrogant we were and how horribly we treat the poor, the sick, children, the elderly, and more recently the victims of Hurricane Katrina.  I always noticed the hypocrisy in which we talked one thing to other nations about democracy and yet stole elections right here at home.  So though I always acknowledged that America was a nation with great benefits, a nation where a lot is possible and in some cases more so than other parts of the planet, still I could not give her the free pass that many often do.  In other words, I always knew I was a patriot, but never a nationalist. 

With the presidency of Barack Obama, I sense an elevation in my patriotism.  There is a difference in what I see in terms of possibilities.  The difference is now that I feel as if someone is actually on my team.   I don’t mean the team of the black man.  I mean the team of justice and righteousness.  The team of telling the truth and doing what one says.  I sense that my president is actually on the side of what is right and that I am included in the America that he envisions.  I feel as if my children’s futures are included as well. 

In President Obama I see a man.  A family man who loves his wife and daughters whom I know he would protect to the death.  I see an admiration and respect in the eyes of his wife.  I see a man who sees the office of the presidency as a mission to help make things right and follow through on what he campaigned.  On the first day in office he freezes the salaries of his top aides who make over $100,000, saying that Americans are tightening their belts and so should Washington.  He puts limitations on their dealings with lobbyist.  He pens documents to close Gitmo within a year pending finding a place for some disgruntled so called enemy combatants.  I mean this cat is SERIOUS and I can feel the sense of urgency to not only set policy but to set the example.  I see a man of style and grace, of strength from within not flaunting it like a sword but indeed at least offering a hand first.  I see President Obama as not only being the President of the United States, but being MY president too.  And since he is my president, I am going to let him do his job, as I look to do mine.  I don’t expect him to change my life, only enhance my opportunities.  Changing my life is up to me.  To help change my community is up to me.

So in addition to all the things I have decided to do to help make my country better – I have included in that the symbolic gesture of once again standing for the Star Spangled Banner. 

This is my investment of hope into mainstream America with its vanities and prejudices.  Don’t get me wrong.  I still know full and well that there are many haters out there for the cause of what is right.  There are still injustices happening everyday.  There is still a ton of work to do on the national and local levels of government and society and I will continue to fight vigorously against tyranny.  (I honestly think it’s silly to play the thing before every sporting event anyway.)  This is a tradition that was started in WWII.  Still I feel a sense of renewal and inclusion and as I embrace my president, I embrace the America that he is attempting to erect as again the greatest nation for possibilities in the world – more righteous than ever before.   Oh believe me, this symbolic gesture is a huge emotional investment for me just as it has been for the last 20 years on the opposite end. 

“Or the land of the free? ”  Oh yea, I’m seeing that for me.   

Lift Every Voice and Sing – indeed.

Things I Will Remember Regarding the Inauguration

President Barack Obama told a crowd at the National Mall that America's challenges are real.

* Michelle Obama was CLEAN!  She will definitely be a who’s who of setting a precedence for fashion at an affordable rate.  Her J-Crew outfit she wore the other evening on Letterman for instance says a lot about how a woman can look her finest without spending huge amounts of money.  (Are you paying attention Sarah Palin?)

* Both Rick Warren’s and Joseph Lowery’s prayers were special and timely for different reasons.  They were also heartfelt and sincere.

* Those armored protected Caddy’s were hot!  I would love to ride in one of those!

* The crowd!  OHHHHHH the crowd!  The American people were IN THE HOUSE!  Watching it on TV I could still feel the energy.  It was the most spectacular thing I have ever seen. 

* President Obama’s speech was awesome and truly inspiring.  He optimizes for me having the presence of walk softly while carrying a big stick.  Make no mistake about it he IS the president.  And he made it clear that there is a new direction.  But he did it in a way that embraces our friends, opens the door for new friends, while letting enemies know not to sleep on the United States.  In other words, to quote an old African proverb… “Don’t let the smooth taste fool ya.”

* The Obama girls are beautiful and it will be a pleasure to see them grow up. 

* It is no coincidence that President Obama was the first president to take office the day after Martin Luther King Day. 

* They got to be lying when they said that Dick Cheney hurt his back carrying boxes.  What the heck?  Dick Cheney moves his own boxes?  I just can’t wrap my brain around that.   

* “Air And Simple Gifts” is an awesomely beautiful piece.  And if they managed to actually play it in those temperatures with cold wooden instruments, that’s even more amazing.   Regardless I need a copy of that!

* The whole process of transferring power from one administration to the other is a most majestic thing.  Former President Bush was also a gracious host – it was a first class event and something I will never forget.