Archive for April, 2014

Sterling’s True Character

April 29, 2014

From all accounts, Donald T. Sterling is a vile man.  He is a man of avarice and greed, of prejudice and rigging the system in his favor.  He has prevented blacks, the elderly, disabled, Mexicans and others from moving into his vast holdings of apartments in Southern California.  He also owns a basketball team, famous for its ineptitude and penny-pinching ways, even though Sterling is a billionaire several times over.

This isn’t about Sterling or the reaction of what he said or didn’t say to his ex-“girlfriend.”  It is still more about where we are as a society and if we are ever to move past racism. It is the Original Sin of America, a boil that has never been lanced, a wound never allowed to heal.

I could give a shit less about Sterling or his views.  Or whether Magic Johnson is HIV-positive.  Or the NBA for that matter.  This isn’t about them and the majority of players who are African-American who play in the “Association.” It is about race.  Sterling brought the Clippers in 1983 and moved them to Los Angeles in 1984 without permission using the Al Davis excuse.   Which goes something along the lines of “It’s my team and I’ll move them anywhere I want.”

See this is the lesson that we never learn. Rich and powerful people think the rules of society don’t apply to them.  That they, because of their status or pocketbook, can say and do whatever they want and get away with it because “hey, I’m Chevy Chase. And you’re not.”

Now, 40 years ago, that was a funny line.  Today, it applies to anyone who is “famous” or a “celebrity.” People who are on TV or in a movie or own a sports team get treated like they come out of the book of Jewish Fairy Tales, well, because they have the looks or the wealth to do things that others, if they tried it, would fail and miserably in the attempt.

Sterling is just the latest in a long line of owners who were racist. Walter O. Briggs once said “No (black) player will ever play for the Detroit Tigers as long as I’m owner.” In the 1950’s. It wasn’t until after Briggs died the Tigers brought in their first black player, the second-to-last team to do so.  Charles Broffman was once asked why he brought the Montreal Expos. His response, “I was tired of being an anonymous millionaire.”

It doesn’t matter anymore that this tape of Sterling making the remarks he did was obtained by Harvey Levin, the liberal’s answer to Bernie Goldberg.  Or that our national blowhard Rush, has weighed in.  Or Roger Murdoch, who’s a pilot. Or that Sterling once employed him under an assumed name of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Actually Kareem made some good points in his article for Time magazine (http://time.com/79590/donald-sterling-kareem-abdul-jabbar-racism/) and on Rachel Maddow’s program last night.  Ex Clippers GM Elgin Baylor has had a lawsuit going against this man for five years and through wranglings and delays, somehow the message that this guy isn’t a very nice man who treats his employees fairly got lost because well, his team, until recently, has stunk.

But just to prove the old adage that even a blind squirrel finds a nut from time to time, the Clippers are actually good. Better than their more famous counterparts in the City of Angels, the Lakers (who somehow managed a worse record than the woebegone Pistons this season) and are currently playing the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs.  Now, winning and advancing seems rather unimportant  in lieu of recent events.  In reality, Sterling never cared about winning or having an environment conducive to winning.

If this had been said a few years ago, when the team was a perpetual lottery pick, then it might have gone unnoticed.  But in this age where everyone is a “journalist,” with a smartphone and nothing is private anymore, anything and everything will be used against you in the court of public opinion.  But if you dig a bit deeper, you find that this man has always been this way, a member of the “Big Club,” as Carlin once said, “and you and I ain’t in it.”

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Like Fishing in a Dry Lake

April 19, 2014

In my four years on this blog (partially inspired by a then-unemployed friend doing the same at 3 AM), I have written about things that I have experienced, my political views, a few sports related posts, my family and what is like to be a middle-aged man facing the future, changes, and the undiscovered country. I have even picked up a few fans along the way and drawn inspiration from other bloggers, like the rude pundit, drift glass, Charles Pierce, Daily Kos, Rachel Colyer and the wonderfully funny, sometimes annoying (especially with his Friday Lists’ on Facebook), but always enlightening Friedman of the Plains, Barry Friedman.

In my 35 plus years of writing, sometimes even for money, I have seen our country go from being the best educated to behind countries that didn’t exist when I graduated high school.  I have seen people come and go – in and out of my life – and loved a lot of them.  I have been accepted, rejected, mocked, threatened, accused, duped, dumped, blackballed, evicted, homeless, hurt, traveled the world, been lied to, about and betrayed.

And you know what I’ve finally figured out?  That life, for me, is like fishing in a dry lake.  I could have fought it, but with age, I have learned to accept that there are things I can change and things I can’t. Some people call it serenity.  Well, I’m not serene, that’s for sure.  I am still fighting, still struggling to figure out my place in this world and why I am still here while other, more deserving people aren’t.

Fishing in a dry lake.  Sounds like a lyric from “Honky Cat”, by Elton John.  “Like trying to find gold in a silver mine/like trying to drink whiskey from a bottle of wine.” Or maybe the lost first line from “Maragritaville”. “Fishing in a dry lake/watching the sun bake.” Either way it works.  But what does it mean to me?

A lot of things.

It means we are headed towards a barren future if we don’t put aside our differences and work together.  It means that  we are heading the same direction as the former Yugoslavia.  Torn apart not from the outside, but from within.  It means that I have as much a chance of growing old gracefully as does most of my generation.

My adult life, I have never “earned” more than $12,000.  I once worked three jobs and got paid for just two of them.  I worked at a high-end restaurant that was owned by a friend and he “shafted” me, too.  I have gone through so many state programs and the only “job” I got out of that was a “store greeter” position and once the manager got transferred, I was suddenly “not on the schedule” and supposedly was to transfer to another store, closer to where I was living at the time.  Three months later, I finally found out I was fired, only after calling the corporate office.  I once worked at a movie theater and a substitute teacher.

I gave up a long time ago on the “American Dream”.  Or any kind of dream for that matter.  I hold no illusions or delusions anymore.  No one, except those who’ve known me a long time, have any idea what my life is like.  Heck, I just got “threatened” the other day – a joke really, which is why I won’t repeat it, but to think I wasted 12 years of my life on this person, well, another case of fishing in a dry lake.  I somehow survived the worst winter in my life and I’m still here.

Years ago, someone gave me a piece of paper. It was called “My autobiography in five short chapters.” The first three dealing with falling in holes.  Well, I’ve fallen in those holes and survived.  The fourth hole deals with walking around it and the 5th simply states “Chapter 5. I walk down a different street.” I think we all reach that point in our lives. Here’s the complete version:  http://www.dwlz.com/Motivation/tips26.html

In the past six months,  I’ve lost two friends near and dear to me and I just found out another one died today.  There comes a point in one’s life when you realize that all you have is your wits and will.  I still have my wits, but my will comes and goes.  Some days are better than others. Making changes in middle life isn’t easy, but sometimes, they have to be made.  I think it’s time to try a different lake.