A Note on SBLIII

Showing solidarity with the thugs who jumped Jussie Smollett.

Of all the entitled billionaire owners in the NFL, you’d be hard pressed to find one more stupid and undeserving than San Francisco’s Jed York. He got where he is today just by plopping out of the right vagina onto this planet. When asked what his toughest decision in life has been he replied, “whether to go to grad school or assume the Presidency of the 49ers.” The Niners have been league doormats ever since.

That is with the exception of the Harbaugh years, 2011-2014. During that era they staged a miraculous turn-around going to three consecutive NFL title games and one Super Bowl. In 2014 Little Jed incongruously started dismantling the winning program, fired Harbaugh, reduced payroll expenses significantly and once again wore the mud from the league’s cleats.

What happened?

In June 2010, after decades of futility trying to build a new San Francisco stadium, Santa Clara voted to authorize use of their land to construct one. The quest to pull together private construction money wasn’t easy because it was right after the Bush Crash of aught eight.  Finally, coinciding with the groundswell of enthusiasm for Harbaugh’s successful first year, funds were secured in December 2011.

There was still wide-scale fan resentment for moving the team 50 miles away. But the euphoria of title games and a Super Bowl helped gloss over the transition. When Levi Stadium opened in 2014, the 49ers went 8-8 and began the rapid decline back to Little Jed’s natural habitat, loserville.

The relationship between Commissioner Goodell and Pat’s Owner Kraft requires a closer examination.

Would the NFL really go to that much trouble to fix things just to build a stadium and maintain a fan base? They would if it’s one of the nation’s most affluent regions and the 6th largest TV market in the country (back then, it’s now 8th).

Which brings us to the second largest TV market, Los Angeles. After two decades with no team but plenty of Southern California apathy, the Rams returned for the 2016 season. The fans’ response was lukewarm. Concerns rose when there was a precipitous decline in attendance in 2017. Then a sudden, unexplained upswing in regular season fortunes, a blown last minute call that gets them into the Super Bowl, and it’s now hoped Ram Fever will once again sweep the Southland.

This view is usually dismissed as that of a paranoid conspiracy nut. One who probably also believes the mega-bucks owners at the behest of a wealth-preservationist President would collude to keep a star quarterback out of work. Just because he won’t tow the MAGA line.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for MAGA. As long as it means Make the AFC Great Again so we can go back to two competitive conferences.

Of the top 17 media markets in the country, the AFC has numbers 7, 10, 16, and 17. All the rest are NFC. (They share number 1, New York). It explains why the National Conference sends a variety of teams to the Super Bowl each year and the American Conference seems to be stuck on the number 10 market, Boston. (Throw in the “New England” moniker and you get the 37 (CT) and 52 (RI) markets as well.)

With ratings the name of the game, we’ll probably never see the dream matchup of New Orleans (51) versus Buffalo (53) in a Roman Numeral showdown.

Multi-billion dollar businesses rarely just leave things to chance.

Let’s bring sexy back. The NFL’s true MVP.

 

 

That Girl Belongs to Yesterday

And today.

I woke up this morning to find my laptop playing Youtube roulette. Based upon cookies (probably my deliciously moist ginger snaps) it decided I should watch a Mick Jagger bio.

In a documentary of oft-repeated clichés there was the one of Mick and Keith locked in the kitchen in 1962 by their manager. They were told they wouldn’t be freed until they learned how to write a hit song. They came up with That Girl Belongs to Yesterday and gave it to Gene Pitney to record.

I, of course, knew that. But I also realized I’d never heard it. So I dug it up on Youtube and listened. Pitney’s tortuous vocal searches for drama while the bridge and chorus are pretty weak. Every line of verse, however, is answered with this quirky “dee dee dee-dee, da-da-dunh” riff that lingers. Shapes of things to come.

I moved on to scan the day’s headlines while waiting for my private secretary to arrive. I noticed Megan Mullally had hosted the SAG Awards the night before. I don’t have a TV so I didn’t watch. I was curious though because I loved her on Will and Grace 20 years ago.

Her character Karen was never without a cocktail. When she had trouble copping a buzz she’d supplement her drinking with opiates and barbiturates. Miraculously, she never appeared to get drunk. It’s one of the best fantasies Hollywood ever created.

But good character acting doesn’t always translate into good hostessing. I watched the replay of her monologue with some trepidation. I love her Karen so much I feel protective and don’t want her to fail in other roles.

I needn’t have worried. The moment she walked on stage she honored the history of film by doing a snippet of Elizabeth Taylor’s Bust Projection Dance from Virginia Woolf. She then launched a brief series of pointed jokes that were spot on in addressing the inequality mess. She was the perfect hostess.

It was in stark contrast to the Academy’s quixotic search for a host this year that got nowhere. Their obvious solution would be to hire Ms. Mullally which will never happen. The Board of Governors issued an edict recently that if you are featured in any of the other awards shows you will not be allowed to appear on their broadcast. Why be reasonable when you can be vindictive? It’s what makes American alpha-male enterprises so great.

The current state of the Oscars finds them doing catch up for 90 years of neglect. They are bending over backwards to pad the stats for posterity. Which is not to detract from the excellent contribution minorities make today. It’s just they were also making them 50 years ago too.

One prejudice has merely been substituted for another because it’s good for business. Their Excellencies, the distinguished board of the august Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, are handing out statues that are about as meaningful as the UAE Gender Equality honors.

In 1972 when I was grouping the Stones with Lamumba and Cynthia Plastercaster in Chicago, there were a handful of brief encounters. One was at 4 in the morning on our way home from the bar. We noticed the french doors on the second floor of the Playboy Mansion were open so we joined a few others on the sidewalk and waited to see what would happen.

It was only a few minutes before a very drunk Mick appeared supported by eight Playboy bunnies. They were like a bunch of giggling schoolgirls guiding him on to the balcony, nothing like the hardened hussies they portrayed in their spreads. He could barely stand up.

Unsure of what to say, I took off my denim jacket to show him the appliqued sequined tongue and offered it to him.

In his drunken haze he remained articulate. He thanked me, then said “but you should keep it and wear it. You’re much more beautiful than me.”

Jim Jordan’s analysis of that incident was I hadn’t been so much flattered by Mick’s compliment as I had been impressed by his graciousness while shit faced. Jim said it was one of the values I held highest.

With that in mind, everyone should raise their glass and toast Megan Mullally for a job well done. As I’ve been doing since about 6:00 this morning.

 

Pear Picking in the USA

In my cousin Carol Ann’s backyard.

Last fall I took a no expenses paid trip to the mid-west. The region was in crisis. The local Fort Wayne Steak and Shake could not maintain regular business hours.

This franchise had experienced numerous unscheduled closures. Either they didn’t have enough staff to open or no-shows at shift changes forced shutting down in the middle of the day. Hiring was at a standstill, the usual suspects had no interest. High school kids couldn’t stomach the idea of working fast food. Immigrants preferred the underground economy to rampant xenophobia.

If capitalism is dependent on cheap labor, this trend could spell trouble. Ray Kroc might have to rise from the dead to demand: “Mr. Trump, tear… down….. this…. wall!”

 

Studying growth patterns to formulate picking schemata.

In retrospect the skyrocketing prices of Imodium should have been a tip-off. Of the many acronyms I’ve been diagnosed with, I’ve had some success controlling IBS with a gentle dose of loperamide. I know something about this shit. Two years ago 100 tabs cost $11 on Amazon. Today my local Walgreens sells 12 for $7.

It’s part of the FDA’s feebly belated attempt to control opiates. Apparently each tab contains a small trace of narcotic. Taken in huge quantities they get you off. If pain meds can’t be refilled or your dealer is out of China White, crush up a hundred little blue blockers instead. It must be a hell of a high if the trade-off is eight months without a bowel movement.

OxyContin seems to be the root of this generation’s problems. These Oxyennials have overindulged in the deadly cocktail of opiates and video games. The result is a bunch of apathetic lemmings primed to be led over the cliff by the next great dictator.

Going that extra mile to pull in a bumper crop.

I ran these ideas past Billy when I was home but he wasn’t buying them. He’s the oldest openly gay man on the planet and a major reason I go back to Indiana. He will be 87 on St. Patrick’s Day and has one of the most wicked senses of humor of anyone I know.

When he opened Fort Wayne’s preeminent beauty salon in 1959 he made no apologies for being gay. He was having too much fun to feel any shame. He owned his business so he didn’t worry about being fired and he was so charming all of the society women befriended him. I’ve always admired him for what he did because not many did at the time. It would be another 15 years, for example, before Harvey Milk deigned it safe to come out.

Because people accepted him didn’t mean they wanted to understand him or lose their prejudices. They just didn’t talk about it. Fort Wayne has always been very conservative and remains so today. The surprising thing is Billy has been a life-long Republican too.

When I had the condo in Fort Wayne, people visited from around the country. Billy always enjoyed these occasions because he shared many of their interests and no longer had a local outlet for them. He, in return, was a hit with my friends because he was unlike anyone they expected to meet in Indiana.

One evening my Kentucky Derby hosts, Jan and Mar, stopped on their way back to New Albany. Billy joined us at dinner for a rollicking good time. He still talks about how open and accepting they were compared to heterosexuals he knows. When I point out the link between their political thinking and social justice he will have none of it. To him they are simply good people.

This red state/blue state thing may just be a lot of blind allegiance. Like picking a sports team, my Dad was a Bear’s fan so I’m one too. Billy is bored by politics and puts little energy into it. It’s such a minute component of his personality, I can live with that.

I may have lost the battle but overall I think I won the war. Billy has been a friend to my Mother and me since I was a teenager.

Billy leading the Peru High School Band down Main Street in 1948. There’s a discernible hitch in that get-a-long that fortold greater things.

Madonna with Blue Balls

There’s sadness hanging over the holidays this year due to the recent death of my friend Charley. His portraits were featured on this blog Christmas Day, 2014. Of his many wonderful qualities, one I will treasure is he never sued me for using his work without permission.

As evidenced in Charley’s paintings, vibrant color provides an undeniable sense of life and joy. Taking time off from a youtube marathon of old Debbie Reynolds interviews, this Christmas I embellished a magenta Madonna found laying around the apartment. The holy virgin is now displayed in the hallway transom flanked by vintage Radko presidential ornaments. By conspicuously coupling the holidays I can keep the installation up until mid-February. If not longer.

Happy Christmas.

Self-Serving Baloney

Deliberately overlooking Stormy for a puff piece on themselves, Time comes up with a silly pick this year. Freedom of the press is no doubt important but freedom from the corporate owned press has not existed since the dangling chad landslide. Or possibly Dewey Beats Truman.

The trailer for Vice points out how badly (or intentionally) the whole story of the W administration was missed by our valiant journalist warriors. To paraphrase the Last Poets and their politically incorrect masterpiece, wake up journalists or we’re all through.

Ghosts of Christmas Cards Past

Starting with the Choo Choo in 1955 when I had just two brothers, Mother put a lot of effort into selecting the family Christmas card. She was not about to let the world forget that in the span of eight years her tiny five foot, 100 pound frame churned out four boys.

I was never big on sending cards but made an effort in the eighties and nineties. They were usually of a “San Francisco Liberal,” or “Gay” theme. Oh hell, what I was trying to say was Christmas is for queers too.

Much to the chagrin of some who married into the family, there was no religion in Mother’s celebration of the holiday. It was a time to get the family together and have fun.

When the internecine politics of divorce and new spouses complicated the formula, there was so much rivalry for the Christmas Eve, Christmas Morning and Christmas Dinner prime-time slots. Mother did the non-obvious thing and laid claim to Supper on Christmas Day. A couple of years ago my nephew said that Mother and I did the best Christmases. When I asked him why he said, “because you gave the best gifts.”

Those in search of the meaning of the day need look no further.

In 1996 when Mother was undergoing chemo we tried to make her feel a little less conspicuous by doing what comes naturally: making fools of ourselves. It was a life-long dream of hers that we have our vision tested. That we would all select the same pair of designer frames was truly an astonishing coincidence.