14Sep

Ray Rice and the Mud and the Blood of Football

One in every 4 women in the United States has been severely or physically assaulted by an intimate partner. It’s appalling. 

I know abuse. I was an abused husband. My first wife was not cruel, she was sick. We were married some 46 years ago, and she was 15 years older than me. I carry the scars, both emotionally and physically.  Some people need help, so why stomp them when they’re down? Domestic violence is in the news, as it should be. In no way do I condone the actions of Ray Rice, but he does need anger management and counseling, and his wife, Janay, probably needs counseling too. It’s not uncommon for a domestic abuse victim to defend the abuser, and she wrote, “I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I'm mourning the death of my closest friend. To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass off for all his life just to gain ratings is horrific.” Maybe we need to help Ray Rice and his wife, and not make him a scapegoat for all the abusers and other offenders in the NFL.

It’s fall, a time of spectacular color in our land. There are fairs, pumpkins, and colors of blue and yellow and red, as in blue and yellow bruises and red blood. It’s fall, it’s football season.  Imagine what a 6’1”man of solid muscle, weighing 198 pounds, who can run forty yards in under 5 seconds—under 5 seconds!—could do.

Deion Sanders ran a 4.27-second 40-yard dash in 1989. Now here comes Deion at that speed colliding with another man who is just as fast and as big, and each one, as my coach use to say, is going in hell bent for leather, and smacko! Is this normal behavior? Or does it take a certain mentality to even think of doing this?

I loved playing football. If I could have, I would have gone pro. We all have a current of violence running through us. It’s human.  A lot of opposing players took a good beating instead of my math teacher. I saw this gladiator charging at me, I could see his face, his eyes, and suddenly this Irish preppy football player turned into my Professor Isosceles Triangle, and whack! he would go,  whack! I would go, arms and legs, contorting through the air. Oh, what sweet relief! But I left it on the field (no, not my brain but the mindset).

Michael Vick could kill dogs and still play, and Dante Stallworth, convicted of manslaughter and DUI, served only 30 days. Ray Lewis, at a Super Bowl party, got into an altercation with two men who were later stabbed to death. Lewis became a prime suspect after blood was found on his suit as well as in his limo. He went to trial and had all counts dropped, and the murder remains unsolved.  Don’t make Ray Rice pay the price when others have gotten away with a slap on the wrist. The NFL should treat players equally, and then, when appropriate, offer help.

There are more thoughts on the mud and the blood of football, and who knows what else, on the shores of Rambling Harbor. Come on over and give a listen.

 

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7Sep

I’ll Be Watching You, Paparazzi

 

Just when I thought the great Justin “Dweeber” may have grown up, he proved me wrong when his ATV collided with a mini-van in Canada on August 29 and he was arrested on assault and dangerous driving charges stemming from an alleged fight after the crash.  Justin Bieber's lawyer said the singer was being chased by people with cameras when the incident happened.

You may have thought I would never say anything in defense of a rich kid who thinks he can get away with anything, but if the statements by Bieber’s lawyer are true and he was being chased by paparazzi (and even if they’re not true in this case), there really needs to be some type of protection from the privacy-grabbing, picture-taking creeps we know as paparazzi.  

The word paparazzi originated in the 1960 film La Dolce Vita, directed by Federico Fellini. One of the characters is a news photographer named Paparazzo. Robert Hendrickson, in his book Word and Phrase, said that Fellini took the name from an Italian dialect word describing a particularly annoying noise, that of a buzzing mosquito. As Fellini said in his interview with Time magazine, "Paparazzo ... suggests to me a buzzing insect, hovering, darting, and stinging.”

There have been many incidents where paparazzi may have caused an accident. We all remember the death of Princess Diana and all the theories that have whirled around that for years. An inquest that began in London in 2004 and continued in 2007–2008 attributed the accident to grossly negligent driving by Henri Paul and the pursuing paparazzi.

No degree or license is required to work as a paparazzi photographer, but the job requires that you consistently capture professional-quality photos of celebrities in a variety of situations. Often the subject you attempt to photograph is uncooperative or even hostile to your efforts. If you have a camera, a good camera, you could go out stalking some celebrity and call yourself paparazzi. What you would really be, though, is a loose nut with a camera who wants to make a buck with little regard for your safety or anyone else’s.

I still think “the Bieb” has a lot of growing up to do, and I think old friend Kanye West had his brain screwed in backwards when he said the way he is treated by the paparazzi is like being raped. But I also believe a jerk with a camera and a desire to make money at all costs should be legally restricted from blatant buzzing and stinging and possibly causing the death of an intended subject. A certain amount of lost freedom and privacy comes with billion-dollar paychecks or fame or both, but even the super-famous are human beings.

There’s more on this and other things on the shores of Rambling Harbor.  Join me there and give a listen.

 

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31Aug

Spinning Boobs for Dollars

We’ve watched and left behind the MTV Boobs, I mean Video Music Awards, which some of the females almost got dressed for. Don’t get me wrong. It worked for me, and I’m sure it gave many males across the country a reason to watch yet another awards show for zillion-“dolly”-ers.  Though I admit I gave up on the boob tube broadcast early on, I did see Justin Timberlake, who thankfully was clothed, win Music Video of the Year for “Mirrors,” a case where a really good video saved a mediocre song. (Traveling in time, the first winner of that award was The Cars in 1984 for “You Might Think.")  Oh, and let us not forget Miley Cyrus, who presented a new twist on jail bait.  She chose Jesse Helt, a homeless Salem, Oregon, native to accept her award to draw attention to the homeless youth problem in this country.  Almost instantly, it was discovered he was being sought for violation of probation, stemming from previous charges including criminal trespassing and criminal mischief, and he turned himself in to police the next day.  Good idea, Miley, but next time, get ‘em after they’ve been in jail.

The 66th Annual Emmy Awards, with Seth Meyers as host, was way more worthwhile in at least some respects. Sofia Vergara, spinning around like desserts on a Lazy Susan (take your pick from the goodies), no doubt kept many male viewers watching, but most noteworthy was the film The Normal Heart,  originally a Tony Award­-winning play written by gay activist Larry Kramer, which deals with the rise of the HIV/AIDS crisis in 1981 New York City. The film received 16 nominations (almost every actor was nominated), and it won two Emmys, the top honor for Best TV Movie and a Creative Arts Emmy for Outstanding Makeup (Non-Prosthetic)in a Miniseries or Movie. 

A sad note in the world of entertainment was the passing of Lord Richard Attenborough, President of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, on August 24.  With such great film credits as Miracle on 34th Street, The Flight of the Phoenix, Gandhi, and Chaplin  as  Actor, Director, Producer, and Father, it bothers me that he might be most remembered for Jurassic Park. 

In other news, Allstate Corp. has confirmed my belief that Boston has the worst drivers in the country. According to Allstate’s recent survey, a Boston driver will get into an accident every 4.4 years. The full report included 200 cities, and Boston ranked 199, ahead of only Worcester, Massachusetts, an industrial city of 181,000 people 40 miles west of Boston. The large U.S. city that boasts the best drivers is Phoenix, where a driver, on average, will get into a collision every 9.5 years. Could it be that all the retirees there don’t drive fast enough to hit each other, or are they just better drivers?

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, an event that seems ridiculous on the surface, at least to me, has raised $88 million, which proves that stupid behavior can pay off if the reasons are good enough.

There’s more on boobs, drivers, spinners, and actors, as well as whatevers, on the shores of Rambling Harbor. I hope you’ll grab your favorite driftwood seat and give a listen.  

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24Aug

Emotional Break Time

The last couple of weeks have been heartbreak city for many of us with the loss of Robin Williams, Lauren Bacall, and just last week the great voice of Don Pardo. My emotions, as yours probably are, are on sadness overload. So this week I have decided to drift into make-believe and fantasy. I leave the question open, though, is it really just a dream?

One summer in the 1700’s, a boy walked up his favorite hillside, the dark blue sky and white clouds drifting above the water, and looked at the harbor below, seeing the sky reflected in the blue waters, made more beautiful by the white sails of the tall ships and the white clouds right next to them. It was as if the sky was the sea and the sea was the sky. It seemed to him that the world could be turned in either direction and still keep a steady keel.

He continued his hillside walk to the highest point, looking down on the harbor he loved, down on the schooners and whalers, the frigates and war ships. It was the ships that carried goods from faraway exotic places that thrilled him the most. He dreamed of the day he too would sail outside the harbor to those places of mystery and magic. The sea called to him like a mistress waiting in the dark, barely hidden behind a dream, calling to him to learn from the trade winds of life that would forever blow.

On this day as he looked at his town, he wondered what changes time would bring, how hundreds of years would change what he saw, the new and incredible things that would change his town that he would never see. Oh, how he longed to be a part of this place forever.

Hundreds of years later, I wake from this same dream, the dream I have had repeatedly since childhood, the dream of a boy and the great sailing ships, the harbor, and the view from the top of his hill.

That same morning, I walked to the top of the hill and looked down. I knew this place had spoken to me, had called to me through the ages. Even though the skyline had changed, the sky had not, and though the ships had engines instead of sails, my harbor remained. As I stood on my hill, I could not help but wonder, which was the dream?

It was once again as if one was either, and both existed one inside the other, and this place had always been and always would be my place in time and space. There was more to know, and I knew that the dream would continue and the question would remain. Which was the dream, the boy or the man? Could you turn one, one way and one the other way and still have an even keel? Is the dream a memory? Is the spirit of the boy still walking those hills today as the man? And what role is time playing?

Not sure what flights of my imagination wait on the shores of Rambling Harbor, but join me there and give a listen.

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17Aug

Whistling

By the time you read this, we will have been a week deep into a very dark place, a place void of laughter, quick-thinking, brilliant-funny, and sometimes heart-breaking emotions, with the loss of Robin Williams and his cast of characters, including Mork from Ork, sitting on his head in a chair, and John Keating, a professor taking a stodgy, aristocratic school of boys and helping them see the world differently by standing on his desk whistling the “1812 Overture” in Dead Poets Society.

Sometime around 1978, I was living on Beacon Hill in the fine aristocratic city of Boston. I have never been one to engage in an outpouring of vocal belly-busting laughter, but on one particular day (and for decades to come) Robin Williams was able to invoke that behavior in me.  Then in 1989, he brought me to tears in the Dead Poets Society as a professor bringing humanity and real learning to a brain-numbing line-stepping school. I know how that can be, having spent two years in such a place until I convinced my father I would get thrown out if he didn’t take me out. Good old dad decided I would indeed disgrace myself in private, so he figured it was better I do it in public, and I was released from those gates, and off to public school I went. Fifty years later I am still marching my own line-step and to my own beat. John Keating was that type of true Teacher.  Mork from Ork, John Keating, and other memorable characters have left us, but fortunately for us all the memories remain. 

People ask why such gifted people end their own lives--by drugs and alcohol in a slow death or more quickly.  Personally, I think the powers-that-be do not always give great gifts and an unconquerable soul. The mind and heart are often veiled behind the gifts they give us. Emotionally, I am standing on my desk, whistling the “1812 Overture.”

Speaking of whistling, we also lost Lauren Bacall to a massive stroke this week at age 89. Lauren Bacall had the level of sophistication and sensuality I look for in every woman I have ever known.  Just check out the film To Have and Have Not and the “whistling” exchange between the characters played by Bogart and Bacall. From the voice to face no one will take her place.

 There is so much spinning around in my head right now, and this blog has only touched the surface. Our learning to lock-step in blind obedience starts in the first year of school. Somewhere, I hope there are a lot of students who, if not now, will someday stand on their desks on their own two feet. I'm going out now to do what I have been doing all my life: whistle into the wind and hope someone catches the tune.

I have no idea what we may find on the shores of Rambling Harbor this week, but join me there and give a listen.

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