“This is the winter of our discontent.” John Steinbeck, 1961.
When I was a child, winter’s sucked. I remember wanting to go out in the snow and once I got out there, wanting to go back inside. I have never liked the cold. But I have always lived in the cold. In the 60′s and 70′s the Michigan Licence Plates always had “Water Winter Wonderland” on them. I always found that rather different, but then my childhood was different.
But this isn’t about that. It’s about THIS winter. A brutal, brutish, unrelenting stream of polar vortex’s and snow unlike any in my memory. The New Years’ Day Blizzard in 1966, the December blizzard in 1974, the Ice Storm in 1978, those are events that you remember, but this winter is the most singular because it has affected everything and every one of us in North America.
From the drought in California to the Great Lakes nearly frozen over for the first time in 35 years, this winter has been one for the record books. The expected high today (Wednesday, Feb. 26) is 16, tomorrow, 14. (-12 C) Tomorrow night’s low is supposed to be -8 (-22 C). The normal high this time of year is supposed to be 40 (5 C).
People can’t get rock salt. It doesn’t work in these temperatures anyhow. They have started advising people to buy kitty litter and sand. It is like “Doomsday Preppers”, except with the weather. Weird stuff. Except now, we’re all in it.
Back in December, I went to California for nearly two weeks. When I came home, it was your typical December weather. Right after Christmas it warmed up to about 50 degrees. I went out for lunch with a friend on the 28th. Little did I know it would be almost 40 days until I left the house again. The last day I was out? Feb. 8, when I went to see my Doctor. I’m supposed to go out tomorrow. We’ll see.
I went nearly half-a-month (12 days) without mail. The snow began to fall. Five inches, then 7, then 11. Snow up to my door. Wind-chill factor’s -20, 30 below zero. We are close to 79 inches of snow. The record is 93.3, set in 1880-81, the year that Benjamin Harrison was elected and sworn in as President and my great-grandmother hadn’t even been born yet.
Of course, the Right-wing nut jobs have come out in full force on this. Jobba the Rush said “There’s (chomp) no such (chomp, chomp) thing as a polar vortex.” And Al Rocker pulled out his college textbook to tell Flush to “Stuff it!!!” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5k4Xz65zjU
My brother got caught in it and he lives in Alabama. He had to go pick up his daughter (my youngest niece) from school. Because they don’t plan for these kind of storms, the state was ill-equipped to deal with the storm that blew through the Birmingham area last month. He ended up driving four-and-a-half hours with what is normally a 15-minute drive. Ended up spending the night at the school. The school didn’t let anyone out until 10 Am the next day. Even then, it was a two-and-a-half hour ride home.
Climate change is not the same as weather. Climate change affects the weather. This polar vortex will eventually recede and spring will come. When? Well, that’s the $64,000 question.
The winter has affected my mood. I have lost weight. I have slept a lot. I am tired. Not just physically tired either. Emotionally, psychology tired. I have tried to keep a sense of humor about it, but it is hard. The days all seem the same. Even the Olympics got boring after a while. I feel like a prisoner in my own home. I have a friend who says I should have stayed in California. I told him, send me $3000 and I’ll be on the next plane out.
Right now, the sun is out at 10 am. It is, according to the weather app on my phone, six degrees outside. (Wind chill -4) There was a time, not that long ago, that weather wouldn’t stop me. I had places to go, classes to attend, interviews, deadlines, dates, games to attend and cover. Not even snow could stop me.
“The Winter of Our Discontent” was Steinbeck’s last novel. It’s protagonist, Ethan, is a man obsessed with getting his good name back after his father lost the family store. He becomes borderline paranoid and seeks revenge against those whom he sees wronged his family. The bank, the community, the man who brought the store at auction from the bank at pennies on the dollar. Ethan is out looking to restore his family’s good name and his father’s honor. He suspects the store’s owner is an illegal immigrant and reports it. After reclaiming the store and acquiring land needed to build an airport through less-than-honest means, the pressure gets to be to much for him after his friend’s “accidental” death, drive him to the brink, only to be saved by his daughter.
Ethan gets saved by his daughter. His “winter” is more psychological than a real winter. This is a real winter for many of us. People have died because of this winter. Winter usually comes in like the tides. The ebb and the flow. The sustained nastiness of this winter is the wrath of Mother Nature and the first warning shot for human beings to clean up our act.
Keith Olbermann’s searing commentary on stray dogs being killed in Sochi ahead of the 2014 Games. Disgraceful. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyX3x8YZwiA
Chuck Knox’s wife. And Joe Falls.
Who and what are you talking about, Kent? You might ask.
I’m taking about Chuck Knox, the former coach of the Seahawks, Bills and Rams (when they were in Los Angeles and Anaheim). Before becoming a head coach in the National Football League, he was an assistant under Joe Schmidt with the semi-pro local football team here in Detroit who happen to sometimes resemble a professional team.
Back in both 1977 and 85, the Lions offered Chuck Knox their head coaching job. He accepted both times, but his wife nixed the deal both times because she didn’t like Detroit. (Yes, there’s that old stereotype about Detroit popping up again) Instead, the Lions ended up with Monte Clark and the woebegone, out-of-his-element, totally disinterested Darryl Rogers who once asked “What does one have to do to get fired around here?” Oh, just go 18-40 in just under three years will do the trick. My personal favorite Rogers story is one where we were outside at the Silverdome and an obviously bored and disinterested Rogers looked up at the top of the dome and asked “How many (birds) could you shoot from here?” We just stood around and laughed. He was serious. Weird guy.
Today, the Lions introduce Jim Caldwell as the franchise’s 15th head coach since Joe Schmidt quit in 1973. No coach since Schmidt has has a winning record and none, save Dick Jauron (who was the interim coach for five games following Steve Mariucci) has ever been hired by a NFL team. The hiring of Caldwell is reminiscent of those of Clark and Rogers in that they were both not who the Lions wanted. In the case of Caldwell, the Lions wanted Ken Whisenhunt, the former coach of the Arizona Cardinals and the offensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers.
Now Lions sufferers, (we’re not fans anymore, after 56 years, we’re suffering) are admittedly skeptical about this latest hire. Caldwell’s credentials are passable, as are Whisenhunt’s, but it’s a case of “if we have all this talent, where’s the elite coach that’s going to get us there?”
I’ll tell you where those elite coaches are. At Black Rock and 30 Rock and you ain’t getting Bill Cowher or Tony Dungy out of those high payin’ cushy gigs unless you’re the Cowboys or Bears or some other elite team. If Bill Belichick quit tomorrow, Dungy would be in Foxborough faster than you could say “Where do I sign?” There’s a reason why the Lions and Cardinals and Jacksonville don’t get these coaches…It’s called prestige and Detroit and Cleveland (and 25 other teams) don’t have it. The Lions even tried getting Dungy after Whisenhunt accepted the Titans job. He said thanks, but no thanks.
Caldwell is a mixed bag, as far as I’m concerned. Had Peyton Manning not missed the 2011 season, he’s probably still the Colts head coach and Manning has the Colts playing this Sunday for the AFC title instead of the Broncos. But, as we all know, the NFL stands for “Not For Long” and a 2-14 season will get you fired faster than throwing up on Dean Wormer will get you kicked out of Faber. And some have never forgiven him for throwing away (possibly) a undefeated season his first year in Indy.
Caldwell becomes the Lions’ first African-American Head Coach, nearly a decade after the NFL instituted a rule about minority coaching candidates after a previous General Manager (who’s name shall never be spoken in my presence) hired Mariucci without interviewing anyone else, including minority candidates. Hey, I’m a minority, why don’t I get an interview?
I really did think that the Lions were going to give the departed Schwartz one more year. But, by the end of the year, after losing six of their last 7, including the last three to Baltimore (on a 61-yard Field Goal no less) the going nowhere New York Football Giants and the last place Minnesota Vikings, it was a foregone conclusion he would be fired. But in the aftermath of the 15-day odyssey (“odd” being the operative word) one local columnist is saying the Lions should of kept Schwartz.
A known unknown is what I think Caldwell is at this point. Do his 24 wins in his first two seasons in Indianapolis represent his coaching ability or the fact that he had arguably one of the best quarterback’s in the league’s history throwing the ball? Or do his two wins in a season without Manning and his mediocre record at Wake Forrest foretell his real ability? All questions we will find out starting today.
The one constant in all this is the owner of the Lions. William Clay Ford, Sr. has owned this team for 50 years now. He has hired 17 coaches, all but three have been fired. In 1964, in his nascent days as sole owner, he sought out to hire a young assistant coach who would replace George Wilson, the last coach to win a NFL Championship with Detroit in 1957, a year before I was born. An offer was made, contract signed, and Ford was set to name his first head coach. Except for one thing. The Free Press’ Joe Falls got a scoop and published the story. Ford went into a rage and tore up the contract, called Falls and told him, “I’m not letting the media name my coach before me!!!!” The young assistant was crushed, but was quickly hired by the Baltimore Colts, who had just lost Weeb Eubank to the rival AFL’s New York Jets. The name of that assistant you ask?
OK, so over on Zuckerberg’s revenge toy, the rage this week has been to assign a number randomly (five and eight seem to be the prevalent requests) to reveal yourself even more than you already have on the interboobs.
Most people have put up mundane stuff, but some have been very interesting. So, last night, my friend Ken Story put up his eight things. And then he assigned me a number -12 – which seemed a bit unfair at first but the more I thought about it, it would be a challenge for me to mention 12 things about me that most people don’t know.
1. I was born at least nine weeks early. I should have died, my mother thought I was stillborn. Nah, I was just stubborn. I decided to stick around and have some fun.
2. I wore full-length leg braces that were heavier than me until I was at least 10. I remember crying when my mother would put them on me. They hurt like hell.
3. The last thing I remember doing with my parents before they got divorced was driving from Detroit to Jamestown, North Dakota to enroll me in the Crippled Children’s School. We stopped at “Paul Bunyan Land” in Brainerd, Minnesota. We entered the Park and there was this huge voice that came out of no where that said “Hello, Kent, welcome to Paul Bunyan Land.” Scared the crap out of me, but it was fun. It wasn’t Bob-Lo, but then, this is Minnesota we’re talking about.
4. I still have a great-aunt who’s alive. I think.
5. I once rolled my chair down the left turn lane on 6 Mile Road for nearly two miles getting home from school. No one stooped me, offered a ride or the Livonia police show up to assist. Life in the 1970′s.
6. I am the oldest of three. I have a younger sister and brother and we are 55, 53 and 51, yet aren’t close. I have four step-siblings that I haven’t seen in decades.
7. I made out with Mackenzie Phillips. Yes, I know, who didn’t?
8. I interviewed Dick Vitale on the day he resigned from the University of Detroit. For my high school paper. We won awards for that year.
9. I haven’t been in the hospital since I was 13.
10. After all the traveling I’ve done, the best part is waking up in your own bed.
11. I wish I could say “I love you,” to my Grandma Franks one last time. She died when I was 9.
12. I am still here.
November. The cruelest month. A reminder of how quickly things can change. The days get shorter, winds start to get stronger, things get shut down. Pools get drained and covered, patios closed, baseball is done, temperatures go up and down like a pogo stick. The warmth of the summer, gone. The color of Autumn, fallen and crumpled to the ground. Cold rain falls from the sky, chilling the bones. Snow comes. Hunters hunt for deer, with rifles. Sometimes, they hunt for more than just Bambi.
“We interrupt this program…”
I was five.
November. It is where life and legacy intersect, where families gather for Thanksgiving and feast on turkey and all the trimmings, where generations interact and feelings, jealousies and hard feelings are put aside, if just for that one day.
One day. In November.
It is the last time I saw my grandfather alive, in 2007. He was 93. He died the following April a month after turning 94.
“Shots at the President’s motorcade in downtown Dallas”
He was a young man. He never saw his children grow up, never got to grow old like his brother. His other brother ran for President and never got out of the hotel after winning the California Primary. He had, in two-and-a-half years, set this country on a course that, had he lived, would have looked a lot different than the country we live in today.
November. The cruelest month. Relationships end, lives altered. The fates intervene.
“You can’t say the people of Dallas don’t love you.”
It was the last time a President rode in a motorcade topless. No President since has ever ridden in a crowd of people without a bullet-proof car.
“The flash, apparently official. President Kennedy died at 1 pm Central Standard Time. Some 38 minutes ago.”
The cruelest month. November. Abrupt and sudden, like a cold front coming down from Canada. Or shots coming from the Texas Book Depository on Elm Street, Dallas, Texas.
“I’m just a pasty.”
Maybe, maybe not. We’ll never know. Movies, books, novels have been written. Fifty years later, no one knows the facts or the truth.
The fates intervened that day. A marriage ended. Two children lost their father. A country lost its way.
A few years ago, a friend was part of a focus group. They were each asked “What day changed America?” Almost in unison they said “September 11, 2001.” My friend said “November 22, 1963.”
He was right.
Nineteen years ago this month, Baseball stopped. For what reason is still debated to this day, but in August of 1994, the players went out on strike. I had gone to Chicago to watch a Cubs game the day before. I remember Mark Grace saying the player’s going on strike was “a matter of principal.”
Of course, it wasn’t. It was an attempt to keep the Players Union’s winning streak going. It didn’t. The public had no sympathy for players making millions playing a game. It also backfired on the owners because the strike cancelled the World Series and went into the 1995 season with “replacement” players. A federal judge put a halt to the charade, effectively ending the war between the players and owners which had been going on since the late 1960′s. The judge’s name: Sonia Sotomayor, who some 16 years later, would become the first woman of Latino heritage to sit on the Supreme Court.
What changed in the aftermath of that strike/lockout? Nearly 20 years of labor “peace” and now, a distorted view of the game, it’s players and the so-called “Lords of the Realm.” The owners, fed up with Fay Vincent actually acting like a commissioner, (how dare he?) decided to stage a coup-de-tat and replace him with one of their own. Which was against the rules, but screw the rules. The man’s name was Bud Selig.
At the time, he was the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, who had started out as the Seattle Pilots in 1969. How Bud came to own the Pilots in 1970 is still a bit murky, but by 1994, he was feeling the pinch of baseball’s out-of-whack economic system. Milwaukee had won a pennant in 1982, by ’94 baseball’s inequality was making it increasingly difficult for “small-market” owners like Bud to compete with teams like the Cubs, Braves, Yankees and Mets, each of whom had huge revenue streams through “superstations” like WGN, TBS and WPIX.
In 1994 “Used car Bud” was brought in as “acting” commissioner. As early as September of 1994, the players were ready to go back and complete the season. Bud said no. Then there was talk of a Montreal-New York World Series. Bud said no. Then, over the winter, it became apparent that the owners wanted to break the Union altogether, Bud ordered the teams to stock their teams with replacement players, the fix was in and the joke was on baseball. Sparky Anderson’s refusal to manage replacement players was the last straw for the owners, the strike then turned into a lockout and the players went to court to put an end to the nonsense.
Baseball came back, but not the fans. Attendance dropped off 40% from previous years in 1995 and the subsequent years didn’t show much improvement. Then came 1998, when Sammy Sosa, who was traded to the White Sox by a dry drunk Texas Rangers owner who later stole two elections and took us into two unnecessary wars (Gee, I wonder who Kent could be referring to?), and an already well-known slugger named Mark McGuire proceeded to bring in the asterisk era in baseball.
Sosa, who had never hit more than 40 home runs in his previous eight seasons, hit 66 in 1998, besting Roger Maris’s 61* by five home runs. It set the National League record, or would have had it not been for McGuire. McGuire was a known commodity when he was traded by Oakland to St. Louis in 1997, smashed 70. In 2001, a mere three seasons later, Barry Bonds hit 73.
In the 15 seasons since 1998, the record book has been altered to the point where in might never be able to look right again. 500 Home Runs used to mean automatic entry into Cooperstown. Not anymore. Ask Rafael Palmeiro. Break the all-time home run record? Sorry, Barry. Hit over 600 home runs, play on the most famous team in American sports? I highly doubt Alex Rodriguez will ever see the Hall, unless he buys a ticket.
And yes, the players who juiced and got caught and those who didn’t and either lied to Congress, “60 Minutes” and ESPN about it are most culpable, but the owners and the Commissioner who turned a (not so) blind eye to the fraudulent era are equally at fault, if not more so. Which brings us, in a most roundabout, zig-zag through every accusation, denial, investigation, conspiracy theories and indignation, to Monday and what baseball hopes will close the book on the ”Steroid Era.” Or at least Bud does. In truth, I doubt it.
To the other extent, this is also about the biggest jerk going. Rodriguez’s claim that he is “fighting for his life,” is an insult to all those who ARE fighting for their lives. The kid with leukemia or someone with lymphoma or about to lose their house, for example? The mind reels from his selfish, obtuse, obsessed-with-himself attitude.
This is, in truth, about an old man on the verge of retirement who wants to set things straight. The 1994 coup-de-tat and the unnecessary strike which, to this day still haunts him. Fay Vincent stood up for “the good of the game,” Bud just saw a chance to break the union. Then, in order to restore baseball’s “greatness” he allowed McGuire, Sosa and Bonds (and others) to break records which were tainted and most fans don’t accept. The discomfort shown on Selig’s face as Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s record is telling and tragic.
Rodriguez will lose his appeal. Quite possibly most of the 12 others will never play again. The game will survive. Bud will retire at the end of next season. As much as the press wants to make this about Rodriguez, Perralta and Cruz, it really is about a tainted legacy and an old man’s futile attempt to flush it down the toilet. He can’t.
Back many, many, many, many years ago, when there were two newspapers in Detroit in two separate buildings, there was a place in between there that reporters and editors would gather and drink and eat bad food. The owner was an old man named Leo and he would work the day shift. The establishment, the Anchor Bar, was the only business in an old, gutted out hotel.
But this isn’t the story of the Anchor Bar. It is what Leo always said to anyone who would listen. “Detroit will become America’s first ‘Third-world city’.
Thursday, it officially became one. Oh, it was well on it’s way when the old man predicted it, but on July 18, 2013, it became official.
Detroit is now bankrupt. The largest in the history of this country. It took 60 years, according to the Governor. I seem to think it goes back a bit further than that, but if that’s what the Nerd says, then we’ll stick with that number.
Back in 1952, Detroit was a vibrant place, the fourth largest city in America. Bigger than Los Angeles, Houston, and Dallas at the time. In the 1950 census, Detroit had 1.8 million people. Today, it has 717,000. That’s a 60% drop. It once boasted a 90% home ownership rate, today, it’s less then 20.
During World War II, it was called “The Arsenal of Democracy.” Of course, then along came Barry Gordy and “Hitsville USA” and Detroit and its’ moniker would be forever known as “Motown.” But Gordy up and left in 1972 for LA and the house on West Grand Boulevard, where Smokey, Diana, Martha and Marvin recorded and “The Sound of Young America,” became the Motown Museum.
A third world city. A city decimated by racism, corruption, crime and perception. The lower east side was once described to me as “looking like Vienna after the War.” Well, that can be applied to the whole city in 2013. Whole neighborhoods, gone. Crime always in the news. Police powerless to be effective. A third of the city is vacant. The way we are perceived hasn’t changed since the 1967 riots.
Who’s to blame? All of us. Those of us who live here. And used to live here, too. Mayors from Cavanaugh to Young to Kilpatrick. Governors from Swanson to Romney to Blanchard to Engler to Granholm to Snyder. City Council members, too many to list, who made a joke out of the system. Businesses who left, people who stayed and didn’t stand up and scream loud enough.
A sad day. Inevitable, some are saying. Unavoidable, say others. I disagree. Bankruptcy is always a “last resort,” but here, it seemed to be what Snyder and his lawn ornament Kevyn Orr, have wanted from day one. You don’t appoint a bankruptcy attorney as an Emergency Manager without the ultimate goal of declaring bankruptcy.
Which is exactly what Snyder intended all along. But a judge has stated the filing is unconstitutional under Michigan’s Constitution. Which of course, the State’s AG is fighting…http://www.freep.com/article/20130719/NEWS06/307190075/Judge-says-Detroit-bankruptcy-filing-unconstitutional-must-withdrawn.
Whether or not the filing is upheld or withdrawn is beside the point. Detroit is in need of some serious help and bankruptcy may not be the best path forward. The ferret from Kentucky, Rand Paul, has said no to any Federal bailout of Detroit – “Over my dead body.” Trust me, if it was Louisville, he’d be singing a completely different tune.
This is where, once again, race comes into play. As late as 1960, the city was 87% white. It is now 82% black. Even though the Metro area population is ranked 13th in the country, Detroit proper is 18th. Dallas and Houston and several other cities have gone past Detroit in population. Houston is now number 4, a spot Detroit held from 1940-80.
People have offered to help. $200 million to turn the city’s school district around. Rejected. Urban farming. Not so fast. Purchase Belle Isle? No way (that, i agreed with). But now, Orr is looking at selling off parts of the Detroit Institute of Arts collection and some of the Detroit Public Library’s more famous holdings. The State has said no, those things are held in a public trust, but now that the Rubicon has been crossed, anything’s possible.
Consider this, this is a city that holds the somewhat dubious distinction of bidding on the Olympics seven times and not getting them. 1944, 52, 56, 60, 64, 68 and 72. Lost to Tokyo and Mexico City by one vote. Many contend that had Detroit won the 1968 bid, the riots wouldn’t have happened. They may be right. But even then, in 1962, the IOC was a corrupt organization and Detroit’s slide had already begun.
We have been fooling ourselves all these years, thinking that a “comeback” was right around the corner. It never happened. For a million and one reasons. But mostly because of closed minds and poisoned hearts. I remember a woman telling me her daughter had got accepted at Wayne State on a full academic ride, but she wasn’t going to let her go to school there. Because she was fearful her daughter might get raped or killed. I just shook my head.
Leo died about 10 years ago. The Anchor Bar moved a block or so from where it used to be on Lafayette Avenue. The News and Free Press entered into a Joint Operating Agreement in 1989 and now share the same building. The Free Press building is now vacant. The Fort Shelby was spared the wrecking ball and is now a upscale hotel across from WDIV. Cobo Arena, where the Pistons played (and Seger rocked) back when Mayor Bing was Dave Bing, got demolished last year. Detroit has never come back because the people want to hold on to what it was and wallow in what it is.
“America’s Third-World City.”
I am not sure how to start this without it reading like I am selfish and immature. But here goes. I am not a fool and I know how I am perceived. I have been told, directly and indirectly just how people feel and view me.
And you know what? Words and actions hurt. I’m not a duck and what people say and do aren’t water.
I have tried to forget and forgive those who have said and done things to me that were nothing but hurtful. Someone said “circumstances change.” That may be true, but feelings and biases and intentions don’t.
In the past few weeks, I have been called hateful, selfish and a “legend in my own mind.” Of which, I am none. I have also been lied to and screwed over, maybe not intentionally, but hey.
What did I do to deserve this? Apparently, according to some, just continuing to draw oxygen offends them to the point where I am reviled and put down. Or, told off. Laughed at. Scoffed at. Ignored. Shunned.
What is truly shocking is that no-one is defending me. I did what I was asked to do and then when I got pissed off about the outcome, No one went and defended me about what I tried to do. Or, rather, understood my rationale for being angry.
Seven months ago, people begged me to do this. So, I did. And then, in the aftermath, I get shit on and pissed on by everyone who had no damn business telling me otherwise? How about…”We’re sorry, Kent.” That might have been the magic words, but I got none of that. Instead, I got essentially excuses and rationalizations and apologizes, and very few reasons. And lots of “cut it out,” “grow up” and “this isn’t high school anymore.”
No. It isn’t. But the behavior was very immature.
I guess the old axiom is true: “No good deed goes unpunished.”
You know, I’m almost 55. I’m tired of odious backstabbers and the well-meaning, do-nothings in my life. For those who screamed I do something and then did nothing, fine. It’s human nature to set up a fool and watch him fail. But that won’t ever happen again.
For those who did show up at my little shindig on Sunday, thank you. For the other 2570 who were invited, too bad. You missed a good time.
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
Thomas Jefferson, July 4th, 1776.
As a descendant of one involved in that document, I find these words to be a reminder of what not only this country is about, but what humanity should strive for.
“Do you govern or are you governed?” That question is as relevant today as it was 237 years ago. And whether that question is asked in these (somewhat) United States or elsewhere, it remains central to the basic tenants that we all strive for. Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
It looked like a Game 7. With 90 seconds to go, Boston was winning 2-1 and I’m sure all of New England and most of Chicago was preparing for the deciding game tomorrow night. Then, in the space of 17 seconds, the Blackhawks scored twice to steal the Cup away from Boston.
“Bucky Fucking Dent” has now been replaced by “David Fucking Bolland.”
“Miracle on Ice” Thirty-three years later.
For a season that almost never happened, the ‘Hawks sure did make it dramatic. Twenty four games to start the lockout-shortened season without a loss, two Conference playoff series that went seven games, including defeating my Red Wings after trailing 3-1, and perhaps the best, most closely contested Stanley Cup Finals in at least a generation, it seemed destined to end in a Game 7. But it didn’t. Unbelievable.
And the Bruins played as well as any team I have ever seen in recent memory. They had their own miracle in the first round when they were faced with elimination against the Make-me-Laughs, er, the Maple Leafs. (Sorry for the Bob Page moment, folks) This series was as good as any I have ever seen. Montreal-Chicago, Islanders-Oilers, Wings and Pittsburgh.
But I don’t think i’ve ever seen anything quite like this. Two goals in 17 seconds, in the last 80 seconds of a Game 7. To win the game. Mike Eurzione just got eclipsed. And Dave Bolland just landed with Bucky Dent, Harry Frazee, Aaron Boone and Bill Buckner in New England sports angst.
The immortal Jim McKay, may no-one ever forget him, once said that sports was “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” In that great opening for “Wide World of Sports”, he also called sports a “human drama of athletic competition.” He’s right, on all accounts. But it is also an exercise in a communal gathering, where people who wouldn’t even give another the time of day are drawn together to experience the human drama played out on every level of humanity.
Whether it be the World Series, World Cup, Super Bowl, the Olympics or your local high school team’s biggest game, people gather to watch and live vicariously through winning and losing (or in the case of the local semi-pro football team here in Detroit, losing, losing and more losing). It draws us together in a way that defies explanation, but hey, it is part of who we are.
One of my favorite things is when there’s a group of Aussies and they all start their “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie Oi, Oi, Oi.” cheer. It is so joyful and spontaneous. Sports is the one thing that brings together communities, cities, states and countries. It is the transcendent constant in our fractured world where thousands, sometimes millions gather to watch the human drama play out our hopes and (for the most part) the best in us.