Monthly Archives: June 2016

Getting a Handle on the Agony of Defeat



Between Donald Trump and Orlando and Brexit, the world appears on the verge of hating itself to death.

But you gotta admit; it’s been a helluva year for sports.


  1. Peyton Manning retires after winning Super Bowl 50, and gives one of the all-time great farewell speeches. Made Ronald Reagan’s ‘The Gipper” speech look like as ass-slap. peyton
  2. Liecester, a British town of 300,000, beats 5,000-to-1 odds to win the British Premiere League in soccer. To put that in perspective, the William Hill booking agency lost $3 million on Liecester, having put greater odds on finding Elvis Presley (2,000-to-1) or the Loch Ness Monster (500-to-1) alive. The bookie vows to never take bets with greater than 1,000-to-1 odds.BC Rangers vs Singapore Cricket Club during day two of the HKFC Citibank Soccer Sevens 2015 on May 30, 2015 at the Hong Kong Football Club in Hong Kong, China. Photo by Xaume Olleros / Power Sport Images
  3. LeBron James leads his Cleveland Cavaliers on an historic comeback from 3-1 down to win the NBA championship. The trophy marks Cleveland’s first sports championship in half a century. And the city needed it. I’ve been there; Cleveland is like Detroit without the glitter. lebron
  4. Iceland defeats the U.K. in the European Soccer Championships, akin to the U.S. beating Russia in hockey during the 1980 Olympics. In shame, the coach of the British squad quits the same day. Suck it, xenophobes. iceland

And now comes Marcus Willis, a 25-year-old tennis hack out of England. I say hack because, well, that’s what he’d say.

Before this year’s Wimbledon tournament, which began Monday, Willis was the 772nd-ranked tennis player in the world. He worked as the local pro at the Warwick Boat Club in England. He let his gut go a little. In 2015, he cleared $350 in earnings. For the entire year.


In fact, he was supposed to return to teach kids, aged 5-10, Monday afternoon at the boat club.

Instead, urged by his girlfriend to give Wimbledon one more go before hanging up the racket, he beat the 54th-ranked player in the world, Ricardo Berankis of Lithuania. He became the lowest-ranked player in more than 28 years to reach the second-round of a Grand Slam tournament. He’s guaranteed a paycheck of at least $50,000.

And on Wednesday, he’ll play his hero, Roger Federer, who has won seven Wimbledon championships.

When asked how he’ll fare against Federer, Willis dead-panned: “I’m not sure he can play on grass.” Then he continued: “I get to play on a stadium court. This is what I dreamed of when I was younger. I’m going to go out there and try to win the tennis match. I probably won’t. I might not.”

You never know. The chase of late has gone to the forceful and the fearful — except in the only place those should exist, a stadium. And how rich would it be to see blowhards have to back their words with a modicum of skill?

If only Trump’s hands could grip adult sporting goods.



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Emperor or Servant?


What do the neighbors think?

I wonder this almost every day, at the same hour of night, 10 pm. That’s when  I’m most likely to blast my song of the day. Or repeatedly analyze banal scenes of some filmed silliness. Or dance. Practice card tricks. My geek flag flies at full staff most 10 pm.s.

I could never figure out why. Even the worst days, both by emotional and physical measure, tend to pick up around 10 p.m. My nausea eases. My energy surges.

I’ve sought a professional’s medical opinion on this; she was as flummoxed as I,  though she did point out: “You do like to have your dogs as dance partners.”

That square dance and euphoria  still exist (especially to my new song, below), though I think I have an idea why. (Thanks for nothing, Dr. Quackenbush.)

It’s at that moment I’m most living like an Emperor in my world, not a Peasant.

How often do we confuse the two? Granted amazing dominion over our world (particularly if you are an adult American), only to choose a life of servitude? A job title that has become a definition? A bank balance that has galvanized into a vault of fears? A pleasure spiked to pain? A nurturer who has morphed to siphon, and hence Master?

What fuckery, this? Is it our primal need to serve? Religious history suggests every civilization creates a daddy issue. Or perhaps it’s our nature, to covet, to measure life by what we want, not have. And we have learned to want so much.

But consider the counter-argument for a moment: all that you do survey. How much is in your power. How much of your world that does bend to your will.

It doesn’t matter, the size kingdom. Whether you rent a 250-square foot efficiency in Tarzana or own a compound on Laurel Canyon, consider your empire. And the the living, loving subjects under your rule, from houseplant to house cat. Or the select list of people allowed access to your personal fortress. Or the rules of conduct and behavior within those walls. All ruled by you.

That reign could never be gauged in Facebook likes or reTweets. Yet they become measures up to which we must live. Even vote.


To some degree, we must be Servants. To our children. Our bodies. Our sanity. The cost of a pulse is to be indentured to that heartbeat. There’s nothing wrong with serving.

But aren’t We the true Masters to be served? As a newspaperman, I’ve covered beats from Detroit police to Hollywood film, and so a dizzying spectrum of kingdoms and rulers. To the last, they lived as Emperors in their worlds, not Servants.

And don’t we wish all could ascend their thrones? The abused to retaliate against abuser? The unhappy to insist on something else? The muted to turn chorus?

Well, 10 p.m. nears. Teddy and Esme are beat, having wilted in the 104 temperatures. But, as inhabitants of the Fortress of Scottitude, they know they must rise in a few hours for the nightly reverie. There will be music, dancing, intoxicants.

If the neighbors come by at the right hour, they may even see the dogs knighted.



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And the Rockets Red Glare


Another Sunday Mass.

This time, a gay Florida nightclub, where 50 people were shot to death and another 50 wounded (by conservative estimate) today.

There’s no reason to expect this shooting to unfold any differently than, say, the Sunday Mass in Charleston.

The sane will say this needs to stop. The confederacy of dunces shall take up arms. And it will dissipate into name-calling in the Twitterverse like so many roman candles on a July 4 eve.

But one day, shootings like this will ricochet back into the TNT bin. It has to, simply by the law of averages.

Because, unlike a Baptist church or elementary school, the Florida shooting puts the right to bear arms in the crosshairs of the right to build walls.

After all, deporting American Muslims is suddenly a presidential issue, yes Mr. Trump? I’m assuming deportations must be preceded by the disarming of Americans, as the Second Amendment makes no mention of race.

Those fears are about to share a dance card.

In the meantime, where’s the Bernie Sanders-like enthusiasm for liberal intervention? Not even a unified call to get a national learner’s permit, like a car? Maybe that doesn’t reach the right demographic.

But one day, shootings like this will. Two centuries of U.S. democracy suggest that. From women’s rights to civil rights to the gay rights literally under fire about 2 a.m. today, the branches of justice eventually, inexorably, lean left.

It’s simply a matter of time before they provide ample cover.







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