Archive: July, 2010
It's hard to believe, but in some ways Americans were even more gullible in the 1960s and 1970s than we are now. When I was a kid, there was only one fast-food restaurant in my populous New York suburb, a Kentucky Fried Chicken, which we went to occasionally (who would have guessed that I like fast food?) until suddenly we stopped. When I asked my parents why, they got all serious and told me a neighbor had told them that someone had found a rat (probably "Original Recipe" -- I don't think "Extra Crispy" yet existed) in a bucket of chicken and thus we weren't going any more. And we didn't. It wasn't until years later that I learned the same bogus rumor was spread about KFCs from coast to coast.
Flash forward to 2010, and we have a new and improved version. Any time that (insert your local sports team here) is having an unexpected slump now, it's always for the same reason: Player A is having an affair with Player B's wife! At least that's what somebody who knows somebody who works with somebody who knows somebody with access to the locker room says. (And yes, it did really happen somewhere...England.) It's no secret that the Flyers created the American template: The conventional wisdom now is that they were always a Stanley Cup Finals team that nearly missed the playoffs because either a) "The Rumor" was true or b) "The Rumor" was false but players were tired of hearing about it and suffered on the ice.
Is LeBron James going to sign with the Miami Heat to save $12 million in state income taxes?
Or might it have something to do with the chance to play with Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade?
It would have been easy for the Obama administration to look the other way on Arizona's draconian racial-profiling law. Polls have shown that Arizona's SB 1070 is very popular in some quarters, including white independents that the president needs to win back at least by 2012, if not this year's mid-terms. At the same time, in a strictly poltical sense, Obama's Justice Department probably didn't to file a lawsuit for the purpose of winning Hispanic votes, since thanks to the GOP's ineptiude the Dems may well have a solid Latino voting bloc for the next 100 years, anyway. They seem to be suing simply because it's time for the grown-ups to step in:
As the Justice Department points out in its complaint, the Arizona law will divert resources from the government’s pursuit of dangerous aliens, including terrorists, spies and violent criminals. It will harass authorized immigrants, visitors and citizens who might not be carrying their papers when stopped by the police. It will ignore the country’s cherished protections of asylum and will interfere with national foreign policy interests. (Already several Mexican governors are refusing to meet with their American counterparts in Arizona, a sign of the diplomatic disarray produced by the law.)
Like everyone else on the depleted Daily News staff, I've been busy all evening covering the tragedy of the barge colliding with the duck boat packed with tourists on the Delaware River -- two of them (youths visiting here from Hungary) are missing and may have gone down with the boat -- pray for them. This may show that it's one thing for duck boats to prowl the waters off Branson, Missouri, but another thing to share the road with industrial traffic and massive garbage barges.
Ironically, I was working on a different, long-term story for the paper earlier in the day -- as you can see it's hard to knock on doors, track down people for interviews, or write a 40-inch story on deadline...and blog! It's something we're trying to work out here in the newspaper biz -- I know our incoming CEO is really big on reporters who blog -- but frankly I wonder if we ever find an answer, unless scientists come up with a way to expand the day beyond 24 hours.
One of the oddities about ESPN, which rules the world of sports the way that Matt Drudge rules the world of news, is that it was founded in the earky 1980s with this bizarre name, the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network. After tomorrow night, they finally ackbowledge reality and change the name...to EPN. We live in a world where it's all about the entertainment, with a capital "E"and the sports is an afterthought. And now here is "King James" to deliver the final dagger.
Sometimes you don't see the tipping point until long after it arrives, but in this case I think we can all agree that July 8, 2010, will remembered at the day that we ratified two decades of American sports becoming less of a game and more of a reality show. If I were LeBron James and I had just led my team to a withering defeat at the hands of the Boston Celtics, I'd be in the gym Thursday night. Instead, he'll be in ESPN's studios for an hour to announce the King's annointment of his new team that likely won't make it to the NBA Finals either. It's the last step on an extreme makeover of LBJ that also includes a new website, a new Twitter feed, and -- just what the world needed -- a more self-centered outlook on life.
So like a lot of folks I have one of those outside thermometers in my car now -- usually it's pretty accurate compared to the temperature they're giving out over the radio. Today the heat caused it to go all haywire, spiking up to a reading of 109 degrees. That was way off -- the real temperature at the airport, according to KYW, was a rather frigid 102 instead.
Hey, it happens -- I remember several 100-degree days when I was a kid, and that was a long time ago.
In which the king of all right-wing media responds to my writings on Beck U. and appearance Friday on Countdown with Keith Olbermann: