Nolan Dalla in 1985 at The Dakota, Central Park West in New York City, the spot where John Lennon had been assassinated five years prior.
Thirty-five years ago tonight, on December 8, 1980 at 10:45 pm, a deranged loner stepped onto a dimly-lit New York City side street and fired four shots point blank from a loaded Charter Arms .38-caliber revolver into an inexplicable target that made no sense whatsoever.
Most of us learned of John Lennon’s murder a short time later, not from a breaking news flash, but from the oddest of sources — the rhapsodic voice of ABC sportscaster and quintessential New York journalist Howard Cosell. A thrilling Monday Night Football game between the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins was playing down to the closing seconds of what would turnout to be a game-winning field goal attempt. As the Pats’ placekicker, a native Englishman named John Smith, was taking the field, that’s when Cosell without hesitation broke into the national telecast and stunned millions of listeners on the edge of their seats by announcing news that Lennon had been shot and was confirmed dead.
“Trumbo” reminds us that tyranny doesn’t produce any heroes or villains. There are only victims.
Nobody wins. Everybody loses.
But some victims lose far more than others, and arguably no collective group of artists suffered more hardships during the fear-ridden Red Scare of the mid-1950’s than the famed or infamous “Hollywood Ten” — the adjective depending upon one’s political leanings. Those receiving subpoenas to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities and later convicted of “Contempt of Congress” charges included successful screenwriters and film directors who were not just blacklisted, but later imprisoned in some cases. Guilty of thought crimes for once allegedly being members of Communist Party USA, or suspected sympathizers who refused to name their so-called conspirators, the Hollywood Blacklist imposed by all the major movie studios for more than a decade ruined careers, caused bankruptcies, broke up families, and even instigated suicides.
I made a friendly side wager some time ago, about where the 1963 NFL Championship Game was played.
As we sat around the bar, the rules were that none of us could access our smart phones, so it required some serious knowledge of NFL history. I recall watching some television documentary many years ago about this game that was played when I was just a year old, contemplating the mechanics of what would become teaser wheels with my baby rattle. I have no notes in front of me now, but I believe the Chicago Bears defeated the New York Giants 17-10. The game was memorable because it was the last great victory in the career of NFL patriarch George Halas, who coached the Bears since the Chicago Fire of 1878.
About 20 years ago, the Internet changed everything — including sports betting.
Many sports gamblers might not remember how awful things were before the mid-1990’s. Way back when, we had to rely on local newspapers and network pregame shows for the latest up-to-date news, which had obvious limitations and often contained bogus information.
Today, the Internet is the primary reason why games (especially pro football) are much tougher to beat now than before. Little if any geographical disparity exists between numbers anymore, and if something important develops that could impact the outcome of a game, the sports books are quick to react. Injury reports, weather, team chemistry, trends, power ratings — everything is weighed and factored into the line, including the betting market, which is the ultimate arbitrator.
Sports bettors have also become much wiser to con artists and scams. Sure, the vermin touting their picks are still around. By the plenty. Now, many touts use inflated academic records for credibility, suggesting they’re former accountants or financial analysts. But the dirty tricks that were used decades ago to fleece the most gullible sports bettors no longer work, for the most part. Over the past 35 years, I’ve fallen for some of these scams and will write about the funnier aspects of getting conned in my future writings (I can think of at least four great stories — maybe more). By the way, it’s funny to look back on them now. It wasn’t funny back then when I was getting gutted for thousands of dollars.
In the meantime, here’s an absolutely hysterical ten-minute video clip that I found recently on YouTube which typifies the sewer that once was (and to some extent — still is) the darkest depths of “sports handicapping services.” It’s hard to believe these jokers were for real with their outlandish claims of “24 winners in a row,” “92 percent winners,” and “the lock of the century.” I can’t even fathom someone calling the numbers and buying a pick from these guys.
Oh wait. Um, sometime around 1987, I actually did buy one day’s worth of picks from “The Duke.” He’s the curly-haired cretin who is shown screaming his lungs out in this video, “I love this game! I love this game! Call now!” That embarrassing story, and much more — to come.
This lost treasure was broadcast sometime around 1990. Cringe, enjoy, and laugh your ass off.
Something seemingly insignificant happened today at Starbucks Coffee, which actually ended up leaving quite an impression on me. And, I’d like to tell you about it.
At the airport in Fort Lauderdale, I waited inside the terminal and stopped to order my usual cafe latte. Most Starbucks have lines, especially in the mornings, and this was no exception.
While about a dozen or so travelers stood in line, bored and indifferent to our surroundings, we couldn’t help but hear and observe what can only be described as a spirited employee bouncing around, working joyously behind the counter. It seemed like the happiest day of his life. While two cashiers rang up the orders, the young man — whose name I soon learned was “Evans” — made the coffee drinks.
Yesterday, there was another mass shooting in America.
That was the 355th murderous tirade this year, a rate of more than one mass shooting per day. More than 600 innocents have been killed by guns, and 1,620 seriously injured. That’s in addition to the tens of thousands of gun accidents, domestic altercations, and countless other tragedies which have involved the misuse of firearms.
Continuing with the (modified) Martingale System, this week is the second leg of the betting progression.
We lost $2,400 last week (1 loss and 1 push), which requires increasing the wager to cover the losses, plus lock up a profit.
I really love my game today, so I’m going to hammer it like a nail. Wham! I feel so good about this play that I’m pretending it’s already won. The money’s already been spent, in fact. So, it damn well better win. After such a bad run of luck, the football gods owe me an apology win, and this game appears to be it.
Most mornings between 1993 and 2000, I walked uptown from the metro to my workplace on Massachusetts Avenue, along what’s fashionably referred to as “Embassy Row.”
A few blocks from DuPont Circle, a lonely-looking man used to stand outside on the sidewalk and silently protest. Rain, shine, or snow, he came every morning. He usually held a sign up, sometimes two — one in each hand. Occasionally, he handed out flyers on which something was printed and written, although few if any people on the sidewalk stopped long enough to take one. I passed him by frequently. I never took one.
If and when the chronicle of capitalism’s decline and ultimate demise gets written, the ideal starting point as to why the fall happened would be today’s grotesque gargoyle of greed — better known as “Black Friday.”
Nothing so acutely illustrates the twisted paradox of our collective values than humbly folding out hands together, bowing our heads, and giving thanks for the blessings we have on one day….and the very next morning (or increasingly, later that same night!) storming out of the house and diving hysterically, clutching credit card in hand, into the national mosh pit of bargain-hunting mass madness. The hypocrisy goes beyond epidemic.