John Kerry Comeback

Aquarian Weekly 1/28/04 REALITY CHECK

DOGFIGHT REVISITED Surprises and Disguises Tumble into New Hampshire PART II

The only one that can’t win the dog race is the pace rabbit.” – Chris Matthews

Since my last discussion with our Democratic insider, Dibbs, things have gone awry. The heavy but invisible Howard Dean support wilted in Iowa, pulling in a meager 18%, which would have been gangbusters six months ago, but with Golden Boy running free the past three months, checks in at an unmitigated disaster. Meanwhile, the comebacks of John Kerry – expected six months ago – and John Edwards – a late comer to the ball – and the demise of perennial retread, Dick Gephardt has leveled the playing field and put a new perspective on the upcoming New Hampshire primary.

In addition to the resurrection of a surging Kerry and the coming out party of a second place showing by Edwards, Iowa did dramatically reframe the campaign rhetoric. Although three out of four voters chose their candidates based on an anti-war platform, more than half the votes went to the two men who supported the war.

“I think overall Dean lost his message after Hussein was captured. Yet, the polls indicated he had not. This is what added to the caucus’ drama. In the end, Internet buzz and the youth factor did not translate into votes for Dean.

The second most interesting noise out of the caucuses was the zeal with which the electorate abandoned personal ideology and went hard for candidates who would be “electable” in a national race come fall, leaving Dean, long considered a potential wild card sacrificial lamb out and the more conventional polticos in the driver’s seat. Judging from the woeful prognostication performance of Dibbs eight days ago, we began our 1/22 discussion with a vicious berating and continued merrily from there.

jc: Man, did you guys get that whole thing wrong in Iowa. The union boys fucked Gephardt and the kids screwed Dean.

DB: I told you the voters would decide. You’re the one who had Dean battling Clark for New Hampshire.

jc: That still may be, because as of this morning Kerry has leapfrogged Clark and Dean and now leads with a ballpark 5% to 10% cushion. But this could ironically save Dean in the long run. Now he doesn’t have to fend off Clark, the more dangerous southern democrat, and deal with his New England brother until Super Tuesday. But I stand by my column from over a month ago: Dean cannot beat Bush, so what would be the point?

DB: And I stand by last week’s data that suggests strongly that any Democratic candidate would stand in the base forty-percentile range and benefit from key Independent votes left in the Ralph Nader vacuum.

jc: I didn’t believe for one minute Kerry was as dead as the press had it. The man was the choice for four months and then Dean becomes this year’s John McCain. He galvanized the other candidates, was fun press for a while, but in the end the Democrat power base has to push the more electable candidate. That’s what happened in Iowa. Admit it.

DB: It was most interesting how many votes Edwards and Kerry picked up from the Gephardt troop. That was years of Gephardt’s guts floating out there Monday night (1/19). But I think overall Dean lost his message after Hussein was captured. Yet, the polls indicated he had not. This is what added to the caucus’ drama. In the end, Internet buzz and the youth factor did not translate into votes for Dean.

jc: Or money, which Dean still has plenty of, and judging from his apoplectic fit speech Monday night, he plans on spending it all the way to the bunker.

DB: Today’s Zogby polls have what amounts to a dead heat between Kerry and Dean with a hefty 15% undecided. With that many undecided, 5% or 10% either way matters little. It didn’t matter in Iowa, so Dean isn’t going anywhere, nor should he.

jc: Conventional wisdom, which by the way also got it’s ass kicked in Iowa, says that Clark takes a hit here, because he was ramping up to be the southern Democrat, War-Hero Anti-Dean, and now has to deal with North Carolina’s Edwards and the Viet Nam Vet Hero and new Anti-Dean, John Kerry.

DB: Perception is everything coming out of Iowa. Kerry is obviously the man of the minute. But if he fails to win NH with this kind of momentum, he’ll have some answering to do. Dean has 72 hours to resuscitate. But he certainly has the organization and money to do it.

jc: He had it in Iowa and got smoked. You have to come clean on what went down in Iowa, really. I maintain Kerry got down and dirty with party biggies and painted the same picture everyone refuses to publicly admit: Dean will implode on the national stump. Because it makes no sense that 75% of the electorate in Iowa is anti-war and then choose Kerry and Edwards; unless it came down to Dean not being a viable national candidate. Kerry and Edwards have always been the safe choices. Christ, Bush people were talking about Edwards Tuesday morning like the second coming of a Kennedy.

DB: We’ll find out about the Edwards push in South Carolina. Kerry or Dean has to win NH, or come in first and/or second, and Edwards cannot lose SC.

jc: And Clark?

DB: The debates will decide if Clark is a player. NH debates are notorious either as coming out parties or the exposing of lightweights. Clark must distinguish himself tonight (1/22) or he may sink behind Edwards. jc: The Boston Globe has Clark in third at 16% and Edwards hot on his ass at 11%.

DB: As I say, I believe this debate is a seminal moment for the general.

jc: Face it, you guys cannot win the White House without a southern Democrat. Clark and Edwards have bristled at taking the VP job, even in closed quarters. Kerry or Dean will definitely not survive without one of them or someone like Bob Graham as a running mate in the national election.

DB: Graham is an interesting choice. jc: Any idea who Lieberman will endorse with his 7% after he is pummeled in NH?

DB: Not Dean. My guess would be Kerry.

jc: You have any comment on Dean’s concession speech? The crazed banshee deluxe version, of course.

DB: No.

jc: Is it Gary Hart on the yacht or merely a Gennifer Flowers bump in the road?

DB: I think I answered no for a comment.

NEXT WEEK: NEW HAMPSHIRE FALLOUT

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Iowa Caucuses 2004 Part I

Aquarian Weekly 1/21/04 REALITY CHECK

PRIMARY PALAESTRADemocratic Insider Weighs In On The Fight to Battle George Bush Part I

Time is running out on separating the wheat from the chaff in the Democratic run for a presidential nomination. By the time these words hit the streets, there will have been a victor in the achingly hollow Iowa caucuses and less than a week until the all-important New Hampshire Primary, which will likely jettison pretenders like John Kerry, John Edwards, Joseph Lieberman, and the ancillary voices of the past six months of jumbled screamfests masked as debates.

What is slowly shaping up to be a two-man race between General Wesley Clark and frontrunner, Howard Dean (with a weak nod for Dick Gephardt to stay afloat if he challenges in Iowa) could solidify in the next two weeks. But historically these things have a way of settling themselves outside the voter realm; ie – party backbiting, financial favors, power jostling and painfully delivered public retractions. The following is the first of a two-part discussion held over two phone conversations on the evenings of 1/13 and 1/14 with our well-ensconced Dem snitch, affectionately known in this space for the past seven years as Dibbs.

No one I work with has any problem if Dean is the nominee, and there is no tertiary plans to back any particular candidate at this time. It is the people’s choice.

The aim is to get a read on how these political variables, often left for revisionists to decipher, could affect the outcome of these primaries.

jc: Let’s begin on the general assumption that Dean will win a close draw in Iowa and bury the bottom feeders in NH.

Dibbs: Iowa will go to Dean in a close race with Gephardt, but it will be a squeaker. But if Clark beats Kerry out for second in NH, and Kerry is running third in every poll right now, his money sources will run for cover. This is why he spent 40 minutes on Meet The Press Sunday (1/11) referring to everyone in the race except for Clark. He has chosen to ostensibly ignore him.

jc: And why I’m sure Dean has gone the other way on Clark these past few days, calling him a closet Republican. Dean needs to knock Clark down a peg. He would rather beat a fellow New Englander than have a wild card pull in a surprising second. To me, this legitimizes Clark’s recent surge in the polls.

DB: This is expected. The Clark people have studied what Eisenhower went through when he announced as a Republican in ’52. There are still doubts to what Clark is going present in way of opposition in a general election campaign, but there is a great deal of fringe party support for Clark.

jc: I wanted to start with Dean, but since we’re on Clark, is he the party’s only hope to derail what I heard you guys are calling The Dean Debacle?

DB: Nonsense. No one I work with has any problem if Dean is the nominee, and there is no tertiary plans to back any particular candidate at this time. It is the people’s choice.

jc: Yes, and the first pig flight out of Reagan National is at dawn.

DB: Why do you bother to ask?

jc: Where does Clark need to be in NH if he wants to compete on Super Tuesday?

DB: Right where he is. Taking NH has hurt trailers in the past. I think it’s better for him to ease into this thing. Three weeks ago he was third at 10% there, now he’s in second at 20% with a bullet. And, by the way, the most important number is what Kerry comes in at.

jc: I have a Boston Herald poll open online right now, and Kerry is a dismal 15% for Christ’s sake. It was ridiculous he was trailing Dean on Christmas Day, now he’s behind Clark and off the radar. What the hell happened there?

DB: I think Iraq killed a lot of these guys. They supported some part of military action when it was hip, and then when things got hairy, Kerry, Lieberman and Gephart vacillated. Then when Hussein was captured you heard another spin. Dean hasn’t been popular with his pompous anti-war rhetoric, but he has been fairly consistent. And that is the base of this party right now.

jc: Anti-war?

 

DB: More than anything else.

jc: Other than his clever use of Internet shut-ins and galvanizing the fickle youth vote, what is the Dean appeal right now?

DB: Mostly Dean is comfortable in the role of ultimate opponent. We believe, and I can’t speak for all the big party people, but most of the skinny coming out of the Terry McAuliffe staff is that 47% of people who voted for Gore outright, without any state breakdown, is an automatic Democratic vote. And the independents Gore lost, along with what Nader robbed could make any of our candidates formidable for Bush. This nonsense about Dean being McGovern just doesn’t hold water anymore.

jc: Unless Iraq implodes in the next six months, I don’t see anyway these Midwestern lower middleclass voters are going to run out to vote for a staunch anti-war liberal candidate with their kids still in harms way. Again, that all depends on where Iraq goes by August. It is looking more and more like the economy will no longer be an issue by April, but no one expects Iraq to cool by election day. These deadlines for massive withdrawal are fiction.

DB: All indications are there will be no discovery of weapons of mass destruction and soldiers will continue to die steadily. And I guess it doesn’t bother the nation their president unabashedly lied to them about Iraq?

jc: You mean like FDR, Truman and LBJ?

DB: Have you heard this latest bullshit about how there have been less attacks on American troops since the Saddam capture? Right. Now they only hit helicopters and kill nine and ten at a time, instead of a measly one or two. Five less attacks, same number of dead. Sounds to me like Viet Nam, but we’re not supposed to get into those comparisons.

jc: Viet Nam? We’ve been there ten minutes. Viet Nam is still going on. Anyway, I can’t give Bush any more credit than I gave Reagan with Iran/Contra. Bush is a dupe. The pentagon has to lie. It justifies its existence.

DB: Mark this down, the war will decide Bush’s fate. We are betting on that.

jc: Never mind the general election. Back to Clark. Is there or is there not a divide between Clark/Clinton Dems and the rest of the party with Dean?

DB: There is, but not to the extent that is being speculated. There were the same chasms in ’92 with Reagan Republicans and the Bush sr. people. Conservative killed Bush in ’92 by voting for Perot. I think Dean takes care of the liberal vote, even though; ironically the man has a conservative fiscal record in Vermont.

jc: Where is the liberal vote if Clark is the nominee?

DB: Again, our best research indicates, firmly, that the national vote is as split as it was in 2000. You want to go over those numbers again? If a few dumb ass districts in Florida could vote without a color chart you’re talking to your buddy, Georgetown about the Republican primary right now. Things have not changed, unless you consider this piss-poor economy with record unemployment, a massive deficit, and a war on two fronts. The Democratic vote is out there. The question is will they be motivated enough to cast it.

NEXT WEEK – PART II

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Pete Rose Damaged

Aquarian Weekly 1/14/04 REALITY CHECK

BY ANY OTHER NAME Pete Rose 14 Years Too Late

Pete RoseA brand new year rings in a spanking new Non-Story Story: Pete Rose publicly admits to something his signature admitted to 14 years ago; he placed bets on Major League Baseball games, many of which he managed. Regardless of his vehement denials since, it was that very same signature which effectively ended his association with the only profession he’d known. A more incriminating piece of evidence for his crime is hard to fathom.

But we needed to hear it from him, didn’t we. All the while it was “as long as Rose admits to it, he will be forgiven, allowed back into the game and eligible for the long-awaited trip to baseball’s Hall of Fame.”

Inexplicably we were supposed to believe that it was Rose’s obstinate claims of “innocent victim” that made him the game’s villain, not compromising the integrity of his sport by blatantly ignoring Rule 21 in the first place. Prominently displayed in both English and Spanish on every Major League Baseball clubhouse door, it states: “Any player, umpire or club or league official or employee who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball games in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.”

And so now 14 years later The Non-Story Story finally ends The Pete Rose Betting On Baseball Controversy, which was only a controversy for Rose, those on his payroll, the sycophantic nerds who chant “Charlie Hustle!” over reams of incriminating evidence, and hordes of sports media drones who despise baseball’s all-time hit king regardless.

Oh, and by the way, this latest Non-Revelation Revelation is presented in Rose’s new autobiography, “My Prison Without Bars”, (his third such attempt) excerpts of which now appears everywhere.

Only Pete Rose, the most pathetically unabashed self-promoting memorabilia monger alive would finally admit to something any clear-thinking human has known for nearly 15 years in a format you have to purchase.

To wit:

“Yes, sir, I did bet on baseball,” Rose told commissioner Bud Selig during a meeting in November 2002 about Rose’s lifetime ban.

“How often?” Selig asked.

“Four or five times a week,” Rose replied.

“But I never bet against my own team, and I never made any bets from the clubhouse.”

“Why?” Selig asked.

“I didn’t think I’d get caught.”

Only Pete Rose, the most pathetically unabashed self-promoting memorabilia monger alive would finally admit to something any clear-thinking human has known for nearly 15 years in a format you have to purchase.

Pete Rose bet on baseball.

Everyone knows this. Jesus, my mother knows this and when not completely ignoring it as a rule, considers baseball the pastime of slobbering Jackanapes.

Sports Illustrated, which plasters this Non-Story Story all over its cover this week printed betting slips next to dozens of witness testimonies in its 8/31/89 issue. I know this because I kept that issue anxiously waiting the inevitable day when this strutting ass would level his Clintonian mia culpa for profit and a smooth entry into baseball’s Hall of Fame.

And with two years left in his eligibility and a lucrative book deal to hawk, Rose now blurts out what everyone already knew. The white elephant lives!

At this point you would not be wrong to ask: “If this is such a Non-Story Story, why the hell are you writing about it?”

To which I might answer: “I assure you, the irony is not lost on me.”

First of all, the truth is I have always hated Pete Rose. From Ray Fosse to Buddy Harrelson to all that fabricated All-American go-getter tripe, the way he abused one of the finest writers of my generation, Roger Kahn in his last autobiographical swindle, “Pete Rose – My Story” and the way his recalcitrant front man Gary Spicer ducked me in an interview request with a series of parameters and time constraints that eventually cost me money and pissed me off to no end.

Also, this particular Non-Story Story has been a favorite of mine since embarking on my professional foray into sports reporting during the 1989 baseball season, during which I inadvertently uncovered that an alarming number of people corroborated Rose’s frenzied gambling and was more than eager to chat about it. It turns out, despite his recent literary conciliation, Rose indeed used the clubhouse phone to make bets on games in which he managed. And to a man (and woman) not one of these people could believe for half a second that his managing of those games was not affected by his having action on it, whether or not it was on his own team or not. The way he set up his pitching for the week, how he used his bullpen on “bet nights” and everything in between.

And this skewed idea that Rose floats in the book that “baseball had no fancy rehab for gamblers like they do for drug addicts” is specious simply because while drug abuse compromises an individual’s ability to play the game, gambling on a contest you have stake in and control over compromises the integrity of the game and cannot be ignored.

Gambling nearly destroyed professional baseball in 1919 and its no-toleration policy is not only non-debatable, but also paramount for the business’ survival. As my baseball guru Pedro B. recently reminded me, you can get away with just about anything in baseball, drug abuse, wife beating, overt racism, public drunkenness, pitching perfect games on acid, illegal campaign contributions and mob pay-offs, jacking yourself up on so much steroids as to reconstruct the statistical bell curve, but YOU CANNOT GAMBLE ON THE GAME.

But hey, I know the real story is that Rose is finally uttering the words he swore he would never utter, and made a boisterous point everywhere he could against uttering, trashing credible people like former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent and his investigator John Down along the merry way. And I know as well as anyone that smug liars sublimating their considerable egos in front of talk-show hosts is the American orgasm. We can’t get enough of this shit.

So now commissioner, Bud Selig must decide if one of the all-time greats of the game gets a pass after pissing on its most sacred rule and then lying to anyone within earshot about it, because as pithy baseball columnist Bill Madden recently put it; “if this were some .220-hitting utility infielder who bet on baseball we wouldn’t be having this debate.”

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Saddam Capture Dissected

Aquarian Weekly 12/24/03 REALITY CHECK

THE CHUNK OF PUKE PRINCIPLE

Saddam Hussein is finally done.

It’s official. I saw moving pictures of a gentleman in latex gloves yanking lice from his scalp. He looked duped by his ethics. Done. A man once again, not a god. Not something calamitous, but silly and sad.

It is always good to parade pathetic pictures of cruel dictators to the world. The bully gets a piece of it now. How does he like the taste? Yeah. Everyone loves that.

The body can handle many toxins, viruses, etc. Some it cannot. It must reject them. The most violent way for the body to reject toxins is through regurgitating them. The world had to burp up Hussein. One way or the other. He had to go. Bad for the body.

We never got the chance with Hitler or Stalin. The Italians did a number on Mussolini, a public disemboweling worthy of their Roman genes. The French sent Napoleon to an island. He was lucky. In the Middle East there are no islands. People end up in rat holes in the desert or go missing like bin Laden. Missing or dead. Most likely dead, because there is no way the Al-Qaeda big boys are allowing any silly/sad moving pictures of the grand poobah of manic itinerancy to be paraded for the devil westerners.

It took a whole lot of time, money, lives and gnashing of teeth to enact the age-old rule of human endeavor applied to people like Hussein or any of those other types mentioned above. It’s called The Chunk of Puke Principle.

Hussein is the chunk of puke.

The world is the body rejecting it.

The body can handle many toxins, viruses, etc. Some it cannot. It must reject them. The most violent way for the body to reject toxins is through regurgitating them. The world had to burp up Hussein. One way or the other. He had to go. Bad for the body.

Chunk of Puke Principle in motion.

Of course there are other toxins, not the least of which is North Korean loon, Kim Jong-Il, who now possess fifty times the nuclear capacity that Hussein was alleged to have had in his possession. And rather than denying it and thumbing his nose at the west, Jong-Il sits upon his tonnage with a defiant pride best known to those mentioned above.

However, there is a caveat to The Principle, and that is how bile attacks the nausea closest to vital organs.

More times than not, over the past half century, the USA is the bile. We attack and regurgitate problems that might affect our vital organs directly. In the case of Hussein, he was an Arab. Arabs are not popular right now. Arabs rammed planes into American property. Took American lives. Arabs threaten American oil concerns. Let’s call oil concerns and terrorist threat vital organs.

Therefore, regurgitation of said virus occurred.

The Chinese make a mockery of human civil rights. Yet, there will be no regurgitation there, or in Korean, close to China. And, by the way, there is no oil in Korea that we know of. There are other places where it would be good to see pathetic depictions of savage brutes given a dental examine, but that will not happen any time soon.

Another part of The Principle that cannot be ignored is that there are some toxins the body creates on its own; not unlike evil regimes like Hussein’s that was bankrolled not only by America’s insane use of crude oil, but its government’s obsession with its neighbors, like, say Iran.

That doesn’t mean Hussein didn’t need to go. He did. It might have been okay for him to be there with any chance ­ no matter how fleeting ­ any chance his regime might pay back those enormous debts that the Germans, Russians and French will now eat. When adding up the billions going down the drain, there can be no wonder by anyone why these governments wanted no part of The Principle to succeed. And believe this humble author, if we could still have the Shah of Iran around, no matter how many lives he might cost, it would not have warranted all-out war.

But that is for another day.

For now, Saddam Hussein is done. And this makes the Bush Dynasty happy. Got daddy’s tormentor.

But at what cost? Politically. Globally. Morally.

Not a worry. This is the war on terror. This is about righteous indignation and a pass to wreak havoc. This is what rich nations and their governments do, and have done for centuries. Can’t help it. Just is.

But it does not make it any less sweeter to see strutting asses taken down. Bullies getting bullied. Kind of like what parts of the world might have felt like on 9/11.

The Chunk of Puke Principle applies to everyone, regardless of perspective.

It is as cruel as its bile.

Think about it.

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Ani DiFranco at Beacon Theater 11/22/03

 

Aquarian Weekly 12/10/03

CHANGLING IN REPOSE
Ani DiFranco / Beacon Theater 11/22/03

New York, New York

Ani in ReposeInconspicuously decked out in soothing earth tones, sans overt stage make-up or multi-colored locks, and eschewing her trademark platform shoes for modest flats, the 33-year-old, Ani Difranco cut a mature and mellowed figure as she deftly patrolled the vast stage of the Beacon Theater in a stirring solo performance. But that kind of labeling is too obvious, and wholly capricious in the wake of DiFranco’s ever-present apoplectic gyrations and inspired vocal dynamics that have made her one of modern folk music’s most passionate creatures for over a decade.

However, there was definitely something different on this night. Missing were the chuckling anecdotes from the road or the obligatory brash political statements that have peppered her most memorable performances these past years. In its stead was a performer of impeccable, almost arresting control, polished and musically demure, reflecting the path of her recent musical forays into jazz voicing and extended poetic musings.

Included was a new poem DiFranco pulled from her pants pocket and read with a humble throat-clearing smirk. Each ensuing line revealed a tortured, haunting manifestation of a woman coming to age in a furious world of rampant hypocrisy.

DiFranco’s voice, a symphony of range and emotion, was as finely tuned as I have ever heard it (over a dozen performances with and without a band) including the historic Carnegie Hall solo shows of 2001 and 2002. This led to mesmerizing versions of her most compelling songs, “Swan Dive”, “Your Next Bold Move”, “Reckoning”, “Little Plastic Castles”, the infectious, “Evolve”, and the probingly reflective, “Serpentine”. All were unfurled before the wildly receptive audience as a confession, a revelation or sorts; serious, humorous, dangerous and silly, and not one with a shred of fanfare.

The more recent numbers were interspersed with the occasional fan-favorite like the rhythmically playful, “Shameless”, which came with a humble preamble from DiFranco, as if apologizing for it having been written by an echo of the woman presently dipping into her grab bag of memories. But the evening’s treat was the premier of newer material that better observed the finer points of the artist’s demeanor; introspective and plaintive, yet unerringly defiant.

Receiving an advanced copy of Educated Guess, DiFranco’s latest completely solo effort, (due out this January) brought into focus the show’s more darkened portals. Fueled by siren odes such as “Origami” and “Bubble” packed with gripping melancholia like “I know men are delicate origami creatures, who need women to unfold them when they cry / But I’m tired of being your savior, and I’m tired of telling you why” and “I hated to pop the bubble of me and you / But it only held enough oxygen for a trip or two” further illustrates DiFranco’s in-your-face ethos.

Juxtaposed with the opening line from the wincing, “Rain Check”, “As dolls go I am broken” or a stanza from the charmingly dissonant, “Swim”, “I let you surround me, I let you drown me out with your din /And then I learned how to swim” is the fiery hope of DiFranco’s most personally and politically challenging poems, “The True Story of What Was” and “Grand Canyon”. In the former she whispers, “Oh to dream just for a moment of the picture outside the frame” and in the latter she swells, “I love my country, by which I mean I am indebted joyfully to all the people throughout its history who have fought the government to make right.”

The meditative evening concluded with the rarity of hearing the mature folk gal’s distinctive rendition of “Both Hands”, ironically the first song on her first record. Pulled out for the final encore, it served as the perfect epilogue to an enviable baring of her most delicate intimacies.

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Doomed by Hippy Medicare

Aquarian Weekly 12/3/03 REALITY CHECK

HARBINGER OF THE FLOWER PEOPLE

It’s official; the Boomers will doom us all.

The Medicare Bill has sealed the deal.

This latest atrocity funneled by your congress and peddled by this pitifully mediocre president has handed the blank check to the majority of Americans careening towards retirement, and by the time these haughty fuckers are done with Social Security and Medicare and every other ounce of bureaucratic fat, we’ll be left scraping sticky change from the curb.

It’s over.

There have always been fears and debates about the terrible bushwhack the hippies will eventually wreak on the fumes of The New Deal. It has now become a sickening reality.

There have always been fears and debates about the terrible bushwhack the hippies will eventually wreak on the fumes of The New Deal. It has now become a sickening reality.

Benefits for everyone! Yay! Let’s coddle the Flower People until they suck us completely dry and we’re scrambling for provisions alongside Mad Max in the desert. I thought these people wanted to live in communes and fiddle with anarchy and drop homemade chemicals until the Grateful Dead sounded good. Are we to perpetually hold their hands until we end up in the shitter?

The federal budget deficit is at a whopping $374 billion and counting. We’re basically a nation at war teetering on recession with a bevy of tax cuts kicking in. And now we learn that over the foreseeable future we will fund every penny of these fantastic new benefits from our coffers?

It’s important to note that wanting everything, but paying for none of it, has put California on the brink of economic collapse and prompted the ushering in of a barely articulate pop icon into governance.

Look, I’m not going after the 40 million elderly and disabled who use Medicare currently. These people actually vote. Politicians are only interested in appeasing voters, and a preponderance of youth in this country could not give half a fart about voting, so they lose out.

But what of the rest of us who are staring down two decades of a financially bruised federal government that has been fueled on these benefits for three-quarters of a century and will have its hand out when its our turn.

Just the thought of it makes me want to exhume Timothy Leary right now and kick him in the balls on principle.

The Bush people needed a victory somewhere, somehow. This is it. Give the store to the elderly, call it a win and forget the Iraqi mess. And, best of all, it doesn’t matter until 2006, and by then it’s already second term, baby!

Meanwhile it’s party time over at the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical companies and the insurance companies and the plethora of doctors who frequent the same money pile, sipping Champaign Coolies on the back nine and making secret deals on what drugs to peddle to a nation hopped up on so much legal narcotics we’re ready to salute anything.

This isn’t about helping the elderly or making good on campaign promises. This is about feeding the machine. Those elderly who care have been getting breaks with Canadian prescription drugs for years. The power of pharmaceuticals rivals tobacco, oil and beer right now. What they say goes. And they can’t have cheap drugs being purchased on the Internet when there are locals to be prized.

This bill has effectively taken the onus on ceilings for prescription drug prices out of the hands of the government. This is good. But now private insurance companies and drug middlemen, known as Pharmacy Benefit Management Companies, will merrily continue to hike the world’s highest drug prices into spheres best understood by honest South American drug runners, who have to actually work for a living.

This is not good.

Did anyone notice the spike in pharmaceutical stock prices on 11/24?

I don’t have the space to get into the imminent dangers of this bill to existing HMO’s or how the AARP lobbies have manipulated benefit packages for years or what this could mean politically to Bush or any other useless pustule running around the capital. Read the Wall Street Journal for that noise. But make no mistake, this is about who is eventually going to pay for these bones being tossed to the elderly in exchange for votes.

Let that read you and your children.

And what are we paying for?

Someone else’s overpriced medicine.

Hope there’s some left for the rest of us.

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JFK Assassination 40 Years Hence

Aquarian Weekly 11/26/03 REALITY CHECK

BIRTH OF THE CYNICAL AGE
Perspectives on the JFK Assassination 40 Years Later

John F. Kennedy“We stand at the edge of a New Frontier – the frontier of unfulfilled hopes and dreams. It will deal with unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered pockets of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus.”
– John F. Kennedy

suddenly in sunlight he will bow and the whole garden will bow
– ee cummings

Forty years ago this week the 35th president of the United States was brutally murdered in broad daylight. There were hundreds of eyewitnesses lined along the execution route. It was the first openly documented incident of the television age. Yet after volumes written, debates raged, and the endless dissection of that day’s events; the countless hours of legal wrangling and propaganda, documentaries and tributes, cries of conspiracy and calls for clearer heads to prevail, we are no closer to one accepted truth on the identity of the assassin.

However, this humble missive will abstain from piling on to my mother’s brilliantly snide, “Who Didn’t Kill JFK?” mantra. Instead, its aim will be to put into perspective what this seminal moment in American history has done to the landscape of my generation, and all others hence.

I was 14 months old when John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated. I recall growing up in the Bronx with its effect still palpable years later, especially on its anniversary, when cars would drive all day with their headlights on, flags were flown at half mast, and school teachers regaled us on where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news.

Almost immediately, apart from its war-torn history, no human drama had better crystallized America – its psyche, its message and medium, its resolve and destiny quite so completely and violently as what transpired that overcast autumn afternoon in Dallas, Texas.

On the level of raw emotion, there is something everlasting about a person of such limitless potential, power and celebrity cut down in his prime, forever frozen in indestructible youth, like James Dean or Marilyn Monroe, or if Elvis Presley or Mickey Mantle had not gotten old and fat and drunk. It is a glowing tribute to dying young, before your time, unfinished business; no closure, no definable answers.

On broader levels, the severing of a head of state from its body politic is a trauma akin to the disorientation experienced by a living organism thrown from its normal environment into one of total confusion. This is especially stunning when a leader so distinctly engrained in the id of a free society leaping into an age of mind-bending change is slaughtered like a farm animal. As a result, what had been previously confined to certain pockets of metropolitan bohemia and smoky cafes or college campus conclaves; bitter dissent, counter-culture rage, a desire for eradicating atavistic symbols of tradition exploded into the mainstream throughout the ensuing decade of enormous unrest and social revolution.

People hate their deities to turn out mortal.

Like no one before or since, the image of Jack Kennedy was the epitome of 20th century iconoclasm. He represented the visionary generation, bloated with dreamers; always saying what needed to be said at the right time with the right cadence. A mutation borne of Nietzsche’s Ubermensch, perfectly molded for his times and fully capable of rising above the petty tragedies of mortality to manifest infinitely.

Kennedy was the first American president born in the American century, a hero in its greatest of wars, rising from the dark annals of its recent past. He had come from mysterious money like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Gatsby; a raucous American invention of questionable origin feeding off the decadent opulence of rabid capitalism. The second son of an ignominious father with his bootlegging millions and international intrigue, mob connections and dirty-scoundrel 19th century fortunes, JFK wore the mantle of promise like a mighty amour.

The gargantuan political Kennedy machine devoured miles, blazing trails beyond the stuffy, buttoned-down plastic, two-dimensional Eisenhower cocoon. From the moment of his emergence into the public eye, JFK was sold as brilliant living color. In the campaign for president, this fit perfectly against the grain of Richard Nixon’s stony black and white.

The two entered the senate in the early 1950s’, one from the dirt and grit of Californian poverty, the other from a New England golden chariot. Nixon stood for the pillars of America’s past; God and country, mom and apple pie, a Quaker in his lily white victorious post-war splendor. Kennedy represented uncharted territory, a young, bold Irish Catholic, a playboy, tan and brave, how all of America liked to think of its new decade. He was poised to strike forth from Hollywood illusions, fearless in the face of fast-changing times and the Red Scare. Contrarily, Nixon was the angry pit bull of the Eisenhower administration, reeking of passé dread.

The legacy of 11/22/63 is that America was never innocent, only blind, deaf and dumb to realities best kept hidden by more soothing fables of princes living happily ever after on streets of gold.

But despite all the revisionist history about Camelot and “a land of hope and dreams”, Richard Nixon, and not Jack Kennedy, won the 1960 presidential election. But Daddy Kennedy stole it outright. Everyone knew it, but did not care. It had always been the American dream to bury the past, look to the moon, beyond the endless horizon. Every revolution has its causalities. Dick Nixon may have been Camelot’s first, but not the last.

Jack eventually paid for the sins of his father, the notorious Joseph P. Kennedy, with his life. He entered politics for the old man, won the Pulitzer with his connections and influence, became a senator from Massachusetts against all odds, and muscled into the role of youngest elected presidential at the age of 43.

There are always debts to pay for any man of power in a democracy fraught with dangerous ambiguities, but as president, Kennedy added to them by taking on the mechanism of government, the silent assassins in the CIA, the swollen power of the FBI, the imminent threat of the Soviet Union, and the fumes of Harry Truman’s Cold War.

Bullied by Nikita Khrushchev and haunted by Fidel Castro, Kennedy signed away an empty check for Viet Nam to solidify South East Asia for generations, and set the course for his successor, Lyndon Johnson to build into a decade of war. Ironically, Kennedy’s victim, Dick Nixon, became its benefactor and finished the decade of the 1960s’ by plunging the nation into a cloud of paranoid madness.

Mostly, the truncated Kennedy administration – a mere 1,037days in length -uncovered the demons of our government; the stranglehold of the Pentagon, the sinister nature of spying and assassinations, and the rabid abuse of the Bill of Rights by J. Edgar Hoover and his ilk. It also set the course to shine light on the Civil Rights movement, pushing the kind of sweeping legislation not seen in this republic since the Reconstruction a century before.

Mere days after November 22, 1963, the United States government may have appeared to roll along relatively unaffected, but the nation dimmed considerably. Whipping up the laughable fictions of the Warren Commission, escalating the fighting abroad and insulating the powers that be could not erase the sudden realization that the endless skyway of the New Frontier did, in fact, have tolls, and they were steep. The fabricated marketing of idealism and the voracious appetite of post war America dove into a quagmire of brutal truths about the vicious nature of politics. No one seemed to know anymore who or what was running things. One thing became evident; JFK had been just another piece of a bloodless machine eradicated like a spare part.

Doubts about the conduct and make-up of America’s best and brightest would fester throughout subsequent years of presidential screw-ups including Viet Nam, Watergate, Iran Hostage Crisis, Iran/Contra, Monika Lewinski, and now the furor over Weapons of Mass Destruction.

It has been chic to blather on and on about America losing its innocence in that most violent moment forty years ago, a rebirthing of cynicism and a wariness about the definition of justice, and the gnawing questions about who holds the reigns of the richest and most powerful nation on earth. But the legacy of 11/22/63 is that America was never innocent, only blind, deaf and dumb to realities best kept hidden by more soothing fables of princes living happily ever after on streets of gold.

Eight presidents later the reverberation of 11/22/63 continues to quake the nature of news, politics, fear and vision. The New Frontier came apart like a house of cards and no Age of Aquarius could make it right. And all the Baby Boomer rhetoric about privilege and promise plays out quite nicely in the horrid memory of invincibility being shattered by bullets on a gray noon.

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The Sky Is Falling, By The Way

Aquarian Weekly 11/5/03 REALITY CHECK

THE SKY IS FALLING, BY THE WAY

I don’t know if anyone’s noticed, but the sun is falling apart.

I figure it’s a subject worthy of my attention for this week’s blather, but I’m only getting dribs and drabs from scientists, and they don’t speak much. This is unheard of in journalistic circles, wherein a meteorologist will explode into orgasmic apoplectic fits over a snowstorm.

But despite the alarming lack of hyperbole from the science community, chunks of the sun are dropping to earth.

I see this as big news.

Yet the other night I viewed something on the local NBC feed about a hippo eating a birthday cake or another riveting note concerning Jennifer Aniston calling George Bush a “dumb ass” on CNN.

To use layman’s terms, that is some serious shit.

I’m thinking we could have bumped those juicy morsels for a few seconds on the possible end of planet earth as we know it.

For pretty much a week large pieces of our main source for life on this planet have become unhinged. What I believe the geeks call Solar Flares, or CMEs (Coronal Mass Ejections) have been plummeting toward earth daily. And these CMEs are apparently in a hurry. Scientists who will go on record say these things normally make the 93 million mile trek in a few days, but these latest chunks of burning gases arrived in our magnetic field in a record 19 hours.

To use layman’s terms, that is some serious shit.

However, these professionals begin to lose me with their gibberish about magnetospheres generating geomagnetic storms which boost the northern and southern lights and make pretty pictures and colors in the sky and…

Jesus Christ, there are pieces of the sun dropping off and diving into the planet’s atmosphere!

This doesn’t alarm anyone?

Oh, I see, when the millennium ends people run to Mecca and Jerusalem to prepare for the apocalypse, but when the sun starts to malfunction, its business as usual.

Well, not exactly business as usual. We’re also told our cell phones and tracking systems might burp, power grids are undulating, and it will be harder to land planes in a magnetic field being pummeled with supercharged flaming clouds of concentrated energy.

Where is that Verizon asshole these days?

“Can you hear me now?”

“Sorry, dipshit, I’m being incinerated.”

Someone asked me the other day if I was bummed that the Yankees lost the World Series.

“Yes, it was a disappointing end to a fine season and HUGE PIECES OF THE FUCKING SUN ARE FALLING TOWARD THE EARTH!”

It’s always tough to give meaningful sports commentary when faced with the cruelty of nature and the implosion of your solar system.

This has been a tough tenure for George Bush, what with the mainland being attacked and waging fourteen wars and Allen Greenspan having been holed up in a Georgetown bar tanked to the tits on pure absinthe and jabbering loudly about betting the national deficit on a three-team teaser, but what kind of press conference do you hold when the sun starts shedding?

“We’ve got the best people working on this.”

You think Dick Gephardt could blame a faulty orb of gas on Captain Shoe-In?

“The sun was fine when Bill Clinton was president.”

Sure, these astrological mishaps happen all the time, but I think it deserves at least a 60 Minutes piece or an hourly update on the FOX News channel over, let’s see, the Kobe Bryant case!

Well, I’ve done my part. I have nothing left to impart. What else needs to be broached? I’m no scientist or doomsayer, per se, but I know potential trouble or a scintillating news story when I see it.

The sky is falling.

For my money, that is the headline of all headlines.

I should retire this meaningless existence now and go out with a bang, but I am nothing if not a trooper and I shall go down with the proverbial ship. We will trudge on and write about the final days with grit and aplomb.

Or not.

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50 Greatest Sports Moments of All Time

 

Genesis Magazine 10/31/03

50 GREATEST SPORTS MOMENTS OF ALL TIME

This list is comprised of moments, not necessarily moments in the field of play or during the competitive nature of sports, or particularly grand moments; but moments, either good or ill, where the times, the competition, the era changed in the face of the forever-changing world of sport. Absent due to obvious reasons, the significant, but otherwise boring moments when games and sports were invented or promoted for the first time. We begin in detail with the Top 10.

1980 USA Hockey Team1. 1980 USA Hockey Team Defeats Soviet Juggernaut 4-3 – 2/22/80

Rag tag assembly of mostly teenaged amateurs, barely together a few months and playing a sport invented and perfected elsewhere, take on the most polished, professional and seemingly unbeatable team in the history of international hockey and win; producing the greatest upset in the pantheon of sport in a time of international political tension smack dab in the middle of a Cold War that defined the parameters of the century. What makes the ultimate upset even more unbelievable is the fact that the same two teams played only a week earlier in an exhibition match and the Soviet Union cruised to a 10-3 victory, setting the stage for the expected American embarrassment that never came. Oh, yeah, and the U.S. went on to defeat Finland for the gold in one of the most anticlimactic championship rounds in Olympic history.

Muhammad Ali2. Cassius Clay Defeats Sonny Liston for Heavyweight Championship – 2/25/64

In one of the most amazing upsets in the annals of sport, the brash young, 22-year old Olympic champion speed-talker stood firm against the brooding and seemingly indestructible heavyweight champ, Sonny Liston. The event was more than a mere world championship bout due to Clay’s infectious taunting and media manipulation. It turned into white American conservative boxing circles against the proud, black athlete of his generation, Christianity against Islam, and in its wake the future of the modern celebrity athlete was born. In one night in Miami Florida, the Louisville Lip, Cassius Clay told the world he was the greatest, won in six rounds, despite the alleged cheating of Liston (the champ’s corner was said to have put a foreign substance on his gloves, effectively blinding Clay for the entire fifth round) and became Muhammad Ali, The Greatest, and invented the American icon of latter 20th century sport.

Jackie Robinson3. Jackie Robinson Signs a Major League Contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers – 10/30/45

Breaking the color barrier and paving the way for modern American sport, Jackie Roosevelt Robinson becomes the first African American to garner a Major League Baseball paycheck. Thanks to the efforts of Brooklyn president Branch Rickey, and the indomitable spirit of Robinson, in less than two years the newest Dodger, after enduring trials and tribulations beyond comprehension, failed player boycotts and insidious fan outrage to become Rookie of the Year, while leading his team to the World Series and his race and countrymen into the next stratosphere of social emancipation.

Babe Ruth4. Babe Ruth is Sold from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees – 1/3/20

The greatest player in the history of the game is sold from the powerful Boston Red Sox to the burgeoning New York Yankees for $100,000 to finance a Broadway play produced by Boston owner Harry Frazee. At the time of the deal, the Red Sox had won five world championships and was the toast of American League baseball. The Yankees had only been around for 17 uneventful years and didn’t even have a ballpark to call their own. At the time of the trade, baseball was an inside game of bunts and steals and under media scrutiny and government investigation for gambling infractions when the 1919 White Sox were rightly accused of throwing the World Series. Since, the Red Sox have not won a title. The Yankees built a ballpark in Babe’s honor and on his financial back and have won 26 titles. Baseball became a home run barrage, and Babe its sultan, and was saved from extinction.

Jessie Owens5. Jesse Owens Debunks Aryan Myth – 8/9/36

Son of a sharecropper from Oakville Alabama, world class, black American athlete, Jesse Owens marched into Adolph Hitler’s great Berlin arena and spit in the face of the Third Reich’s claims of Aryan superiority by setting three world records and one Olympic record, earning four track and field gold medals in the same Summer Olympiad, a performance that would remain unmatched for 48 years. In front of the visibly infuriated German dictator and a stunned international audience, Owens won the 100 meters in an Olympic-record 10.3 seconds, the long jump, setting an Olympic record of 26-53/8 and the 200 meters in an Olympic-record 20.7 seconds. Owens won his fourth gold medal, leading off the 4×100-meter relay that would set a world record at 39.8 seconds.

Bob Beamon6. Bob Beamon Shatters Long Jump World Record – 10/18/68

In what is widely considered the greatest individual physical feat in human competition, 24 year-old, New Yorker Bob Beamon obliterated an Olympic/World Record in the long jump by a mind-bending two feet. Fellow American, Ralph Boston established the record years before at 27 feet, 43/4 inches, and it was Boston who coached Beamon through his record leap after he had failed to even qualify for a gold metal in two previous jumps. As the Mexico City crowd watched in stunned awe, Beamon tossed his 6-foot-3, 160-pound 8.90 meters — 29 feet, 21/2 inches for the most lopsided destruction of a world record ever; a record that stood until Mike Powell bested it by two inches at the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo. Two inches, not two feet!

Roger Bannister7. Roger Bannister Breaks Four Minute Mile – 5/6/54

A 25-year-old British medical student becomes the first man to achieve the heretofore unthinkable; run a mile in less than four minutes. On a breezy afternoon on the Iffley Road track in Oxford, England, his miraculously close time of three minutes and 59.4 seconds was achieved during a 15mph crosswind with gusts of up to 25mph. Ironically, this nearly caused Bannister to call off the triumphant event witnessed by about 3,000 spectators and two hearty pacemakers by the names Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway, both of whom heralded Bannister’s record sprint as a final 200-yard push for the finish line toward immortality.

Joe Namath8. Joe Namath Guarantees Victory as an 18-Point Underdog in Super Bowl and Wins – 1/12/69

In what is now considered the watershed moment for the pro football in the annals of pop culture and lore, brash and bold Broadway Joe Namath, the richest athlete at the time, uttered the unthinkable and broke the code of centuries of competition; he guaranteed victory. Standing at a podium in downtown Miami, Florida, where he was to be given the upstart pro league, AFL Most Valuable Player, Namath vehemently predicted his team’s easy victory in a game two previous representative from his league had been embarrassed in and whose own team was an unprecedented 18-plus point dog in a championship contest. The New York Jets and Namath convincingly defeated the 13-1 Baltimore Colts and the NFL’s best defense, 16-7 and helped merge both leagues into what is now the premiere professional sports conglomerate in America.

9. Tiger Woods Becomes Youngest Masters Champ in Record and Barrier Breaking Fashion – 4/13/97

Tiger WoodsIn what amounted to a sociological phenomenon as much as a sports event, the 21st century pop culture, social and international celebrity of Tiger Woods was both launched and cemented during a record 18-under Masters victory by 12 strokes over an awed field. At the tender age of 21, and only his fifteenth appearance as a pro, with the eyes of the world watching his every move, the highly touted Woods became the youngest player to win the Masters in the 61-year history of the tournament, winning an event that didn’t even invite a black player until the year he was born at a club that didn’t invite a black member to join until 1990. Woods finished at 270, slicing one stroke off the record Jack Nicklaus set in 1965 and Raymond Floyd matched in 1976. His cultural status as a young Asian/African American catapulted Woods career into media-frenzy mania and helped launch a new, sexy and provocative era in a sport once thought too high brow for most sports aficionados.

Lou Gehrig10. Lou Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man” Farewell Speech – 7/4/39

In a moment forever held in time for every figure in sports history to heed, a dying man stood before over 60,000 people and the world to impart the genuine feeling that he was “the luckiest man in the world” for having the opportunity to endeavor through the love of his craft. Lou Gehrig, the Iron Horse, who had not missed a game his entire 13-plus year career (spanning a mind-bending 2,130 consecutive games) lowered his head and became the symbol of what sports, and maybe all of life is about; accepting your destiny, giving it your all, and enjoying every moment, good or ill.

11. Michael Jordan is Drafted by the Chicago Bulls – 6/19/84
The most famous sports figure of his time, and the best player in the history of his sport, becomes a professional as the third overall pick in the 1983 NBA draft.

12. Nadia Comaneci Becomes First Gymnast to Achieve Perfect 10 – 7/13/76
And the 14-year-old Romanian achieves this an unfathomable seven times.

13. The Greatest Game Ever Played – 12/28/58
Baltimore Colts 23 best NY Giants 17 in an overtime thriller that birthed a television sport.

14. Reserve Clause Crumbles – Dec. 23, 1975
Free Agency in baseball and professional sports is born.

15. Bobby Thomson Hits Shot Heard ‘Round The World – 10/3/51
“The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!”

16. Ali vs. Frazier I – 3/8/71
Arguably the most anticipated and watched spots event ever goes to Frazier, but Ali got him twice in remarkable rematches.

17. Wayne Gretzky Becomes NHL’s All-Time Leading Scorer – 10/15/89
The greatest team-sport superstar surpasses Gordie Howe’s total of 1,850 points in an unfathomable third of the time played.

18. Notre Dame Rallies to Beat Favored Army 12-6 After Knute Rockne’s Famous Halftime Speech – 11/10/28
“Win won for the Gipper” becomes the anthem of motivational speakers.

19. Terrorists Murder Eleven Israeli Athletes at Munich Olympics – 9/5/72
Worst nightmares realized.

20. Joe Louis Annihilates Max Schmeling in 124 Seconds – 6/22/38
More bad news for Hitler and the Arian Race.

21. Henry Aaron Supplants Ruth as Home Run King with 715 – 4/8/74
And no supplements or drugs, imagine that.

22. Secretariat Wins Triple Crown and Becomes King of Horses – 6/10/73
One for the ages.

23. Eight Chicago White Sox Agree to Throw 1919 World Series – 9/18/19
Black Sox are born and baseball almost died.

24. Gertrude Ederle Becomes First Woman to Swim English Channel – 8/6/26
A record that would become the women’s standard for 35 years.

25. Wilt Chamberlain Scores 100 Points in a Single Game – 3/2/62
Who was playing defense for the Knicks that night?

26. Cleveland’s Ken Kelter Stops Joe DiMaggio’s Hit Streak at 56 – 7/17/41
Joltin’ Joe goes on to hit in 17 more. What if?

27. Mary Lou Retton is Perfect Under Extreme Pressure – 8/3/84
Needing a perfect 10 to win the gold in the floor exercise, the American gymnast nails it.

28. Jimmy V and NC State Stun Heavily Favored Houston for NCAA Title – 4/4/83
In one of the greatest upsets in college sports history, this buzzer beating 54-52 thriller invents March Madness.

29. Jack Nicklaus Wins Masters at Age 46 – 4/13/86
The greatest cements legend in his record sixth and final Masters title.

30. Mark McGwire is First Man to 70 Homers in One Season- 9/27/98
Freak show baseball on parade.

31. Billie Jean King Defeats Bobby Riggs in Astrodome – 9/20/73
Hyped Battle of the Sexes ends in a dud in front of record television audience.

32. Sports Most Prolific Coach Wins Tenth Consecutive NCAA Title – 3/29/75
John Wooden caps incredible .813 career winning percentage at the top of his game.

33. Jim Thorpe Becomes World’s Greatest Athlete – 7/15/12
Native American wins eight gold medals including the demanding Pentathlon and Decathlon.

34. Johnny Vander Meer Pitches 18 Innings with No Hits – 6/15/38
Cincy 22 year-old southpaw completes feat never duplicated.

35. Willis Reed Limps Onto Court And Into Legend – 5/8/70
Knicks with NBA Title after captain’s heroic entrance.

36. Monday Night Football is Born – 9/21/70
American phenomenon begins with Howard Cosell’s nasal intro.

37. Don Larson Pitches Perfect Game in World Series – 10/8/56
Perfection on the grandest stage against the best.

38. Magic Meet Larry – 3/26/79
Johnson and Bird begin basketball’s greatest and most lucrative rivalry in NCAA finals.

39. O.J. Simpson Breaks 2,000 Yard Single Season Mark – 12/16/73
The impossible NFL goal goes down at snowy Shea Stadium on final day of the season.

40. Nolan Ryan Pitches Seventh No-Hitter at Age 44 – 5/1/91
Tall Texan rides high for the last time.

41. Mike Tyson Takes A Bite of Evander Holyfield’s Ear – 6/28/97
Do we need to explain?

42. Soviets Beat USA in Basketball on Controversial Third Try – 9/10/72
Cheating or destiny?

43. Miami Dolphins Complete NFL’s Only Undefeated Season – 1/14/73
Beat Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII 14-7 to achieve perfection.

44. Bud Selig and Baseball Owners Close Shop and Cancel World Series – 9/14/94
Lockout effectively achieves what two world wars, an earthquake, and the 1919 Chicago White Sox could not do.

45. Vince Lombardi Named Green Bay Packers Head Coach – 2/4/59
Six NFL titles and heaps of lore later, he is the quintessential sports leader.

46. Tennis’ Top Two Slug Out Marathon Final – 7/5/80
Number One ranked Bjorn Borg bests number two John McEnroe at Wimbledon’s center court after a gruelingly historic 3 hour and 53 minutes match for the ages.

47. Pete Rose is Banned From Baseball After Gambling Allegations – 8/23/89
The all-time hits leader is disgraced, and the feud continues to this day.

48. Rocky Marciano Retires As Heavyweight Champ Undefeated at 49-0 – 4/27/56
At the ripe old age of 31, The Rock leaves unblemished, never to return.

49. Doug Flutie and Boston College Defeat Miami on Last Desperate Play – 11/22/84
Down by four with 48 seconds left, the 5’9” quarterback heaves to glory. Cue the band.

50. Bucky (bleppin’) Dent Breaks Beantown Hearts Again – 10/2/78
Hey, it’s the greatest sporting event I ever saw, give me a break.

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Dan Bern at Bottom Line

 

East Coast Rocker 10/29/03

AN EVENING WITH DAN BERN THE BOTTOM LINE 10/18/03

New York City

Dan BernIn the late night hours on an empty stage on the campus of William Paterson College where he had just finished a haphazardly grueling but unerringly honest performance, Dan Bern described his current one month, twenty-two city solo tour in baseball terms. The admitted frenzied fan of the game likened the uneven gig to that of a pitcher with a formidable arsenal of pitches, but no real consistent snap on the curve or zip on the fastball. “There were nights when I used to feel like Sandy Koufax,” Bern said, slumped on his amp about to load out and head for NYC with the waning confidence of a man at the crossroads of a burgeoning career. “And some nights I feel like Pedro just trying to get out of the 8th.”

After his searing, balls-to-the-wall performance on the legendary stage at the Bottom Line on West 4th street the following night, his odd journey from the embattled Red Sox hurler to the best lefty the game has ever seen had come full circle.

Bern serenaded and spat, chugged and crooned, sliced and diced his way through a nearly two hour set of his best material, charming and probing, questioning and joking with the sold out crowd like a man on the hill with a nasty slider and a wicked splitter.

“On a solo tour there is nothing to lean on, no band to meld into when things are not going your way,” Bern noted, describing his constant fight to “stay in the song” as the key to the honesty of any worthwhile performance.

Dressed in baggy shorts and a ragged sweat shirt, hair cropped close to his scalp, Bern buried himself deep inside such sterling numbers as the haunting, “I Need You” and the rousing, “Alaska Highway”, seducing the crowd with his fan-favorite “Estelle” and culling huge laughs with his ode to paradoxical romance, “Johnny Cash and Anais Nin”.

But the highlights of the evening came when the prolific song-smith unveiled two new satirical numbers, “The President’s Song”, a winding lyrical masterpiece worthy of H.L Mencken on blotter acid and the infectious, “Bush Must Be Defeated”, both of which were blatant jabs at the current administration with political solutions both varied and bizarre, if not wildly entertaining.

Standing in the naked spotlight with guitar slung over his shoulder in defiance of age or apathy or even bad pitches is where Dan Bern was meant to roam. His songs, like his performances, and his late night rants about songs and performances are what make music and art worth fighting for in the first place.

And for a couple of hours in the most famous theater for rock music in Greenwich Village, Dan Bern pitched himself a perfect game.

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