Thursday, June 30, 2011

You're A Hooligan?!?!?!

by Dick Mac

And there it is: Dick Mac wants to be a soccer hooligan. I've tried to keep it from you all along, but the crime was caught on camera.

Here I am marching over the Passaic River from The Ironbound District in Newark to Red Bull Arena in Harrison.

I am wearing the Thierry Henry jersey and lifting my scarf to my face to block the smoke from the flares. The hundreds of others with me are also supporters of Red Bull New York. We belong to three different supporters clubs: Viking Army, Empire Supporters Club, and Garden State Supporters.

Before every home match, each of the three clubs meet at different restaurants in the Ironbound, then simultaneously converge at the intersection of Jackson Street, Raymond Boulevard, and Rodgers Boulevard.

Traffic comes to a stop, the cops try to keep some order, and the march begins. Since we are marching from one municipality over a bridge to another municipality, it seems that neither police department concerns itself too terribly much about the whole thing. Sirens blow and are ignored, authoritative voices blast from police cars and are ignored, and the supporters light flares, march and dance and sing until they reach the stadium.

It's a remarkable lead-up to a match!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Soccer Or Comedy Or Religion

by Dick Mac

One might say that Soccer is Comedy and Religion; but that is not my point!

I had a relatively entertaining media-night last night.

I had planned to see Kristeen Young at Pianos, but was unable to make it. So, I watched an online broadcast of Red Bull New York v F.C. New York, debated religion online, and the watched The Daily Show.

The religious debates were dull because there were some young leftists and single-issue homosexuals involved in the discussions. I support, almost unequivocally the issues of the young leftist and old homosexual, but I tire of people who are unable to see a bigger picture -- unable to separate publicity stunts and ineffectual global policy from actual day-to-day political reality. So, if I were to rank the three events, that debate, which could have been dynamic and exciting, was certainly the dullest of the three.

RBNY mounted a come-from-behind victory against the lower-league FCNY, sparked by John Rooney's long-distance shot that totally surprised the visiting goalkeeper. I would have liked to have attended the match, but I was going to see the show at Pianos, which I failed to see, so I never made it to Red Bull Arena.

For about 99% of the year (that is, about 360 days) I am awake at 11:00 P.M. Sadly, I more often than not find myself at 11:59 P.M. saying: "Damn, I forgot to watch The Daily Show and Colbert Report again."

Last night, I settled in on the sofa and tuned-in to Comedy Central at 11:02, missing only the opening credits and initial joke(s).

I remain permanently impressed by Jon Stewart and The Daily Show. Stewart has taken the fake news genre to a level that even the real news can't reach. It is smart, analytical, entertaining, informative, and it is all of the things Comcast, Disney, Viacom, and New Corp. have failed to do on their actual news programs and networks.

For years now, Fox News has perpetuated an on-air pissing contest with Comedy Central about who is more or less or better or worse of something or another.

This has, always will, and never ceases to amaze me.

I know that Fox News has nothing to do with news, you know Fox News has nothing to do with news, I suspect that the more intelligent of the Fox News viewers also know that Fox News has nothing to do with news. Still, News Corp. continues to market this network as a news outlet and defend it vociferously as fair and balanced.

A few years ago, Stewart appeared on a Fox News show and condemned the two hosts for destroying America. This was not comedy, he was very serious and presented his position clearly, succinctly, without drama or hysteria, and made both of the blowhard hosts rather uncomfortable. He nailed that performance. I think that was the beginning of Roger Ailes' rather unbecoming obsession with Stewart and his comedy show.

Remember, The Daily Show is a comedy show presented in a news format, it is not a news show.

Recently, every single piece of Fox News talent (and I use that word lightly) sang the same song for a news cycle: Jon Stewart must be a racist because he used a funny voice when mocking a black Republican who is running for some office or another, and which candidate is one of the funniest Americans on television - without even intending it!

One of Stewart's most effective and funniest shticks is his ability to mimic stereotypes, and he does it often. He is particularly good at The New York Jew and The New York Italian Guy, both of which he has done recently.

So, now that the grown-ups over at News Corp. have taken him to task for his comedy routine, Stewart decided to face the music. In a segment titled "John F#*cks Himself With His Mouth," the producers at The Daily Show strung together a series of clips showing Stewart's use of various funny voices to illuminate either (1) his point, or (2) the absurdity of another person's point. It's called comedy!

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Oh, for Fox Sake - Stewart Eviscerates Stewart
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

So in his self-deprecating way, Stewart again remains the funniest man on cable news. Oh wait . . . Stewart is on a comedy show.

Yep! News Corp. and Roger Ailes compare themselves to only one show: a comedy show.

Ahhh! Last night was a good night and Comedy won!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

You Never Know Who You Touch

by Dick Mac

We all impact those around us.

We touch people. The way we walk down the street, the way we hold the door and treat others in public settings. The way we drive and talk about other drivers. The way we gossip. The way we worship (or not), the way we vote (or not), the way we party (or not), all make an impression on those we encounter.

Some do it better than others.

Famous people (even famous people like Charles Barkley who pretend they have none) have a responsibility to the general public. They become role models and heroes and goats based not just on the performance of their jobs, but their general persona while handling their adoring public.

Movie stars sometimes are saddled with the persona of a character they portray, which is the unfairest of all situations. Athletes have it easier because they perform in a specific way, all the time. Pop stars have to walk a line between these other groups: they can keep their private lives as hidden as possible, or they can allow their private lives to become part of the public record. The bigger the star, the more likely the latter.

Justin Bieber had a documentary made of his short, but full life; and his adoring fans saw a side of them we generally do not see of any star.

The documentary played on my television a few weeks ago while my daughter watched it. I caught glimpses but didn't pay much attention to it. My generation had Paul McCartney, Davey Jones, Michael Jackson, Bobby Sherman, and Donny Osmond who were adored by the girls in the neighborhood; my daughter and her crowd have Justin Bieber, the lads from Big Time Rush, and I am certain there are others.

So, Bieber releases this movie. The scene I remember most clearly is him on a seat with a guitar, being lifted high above the audience, singing personally to each and ever individual girl who could see him. It was actually really good. He did an amazing job, and it was that clip that made me remember that although professional wrestling has scripted outcomes, the stuff that happens between bells includes pretty amazing physical feats. That is, Bieber may be packaged and coiffed and incessently marketed to the point of over-saturation; but he really is an entertainer, a performer, and a musician, and he's pretty damn good at it.

So . . . I have deduced that there is some part of the film that shows Bieber's personal struggle with the things a tween must face. I don't know what that is (or those are), but an article today (linked below) tells the story of a girl whose father died on 9/11. The girls wrote a ltter to President Obama, who arranged a personal meeting among the girl, her sister, a friend, and Justin Bieber:
It inspired us to believe in ourselves and share our story to encourage others.

- Payton Wall

Justin Bieber didn't know he would touch these fatherless girls in this manner, but he did touch them in a way that was important to them, and then along with the President, he made a very special day for them.

And that is the way we should all hope to touch the lives of those around us.

Justin Bieber's Pal President Obama Introduces Him To 9/11 Teens

Monday, June 27, 2011

Some people just shouldn't be allowed . . .

by Dick Mac

I have tried to like awards ceremonies.

It all seemed like such a lovely idea, until I aged and I realized it's all just so much pre-packaged pablum assembled to garner free publicity for industries that need neither free anything, nor further attention.

It used to be simple: Oscars, Grammys, Tonys, Emmys. Through the mid-1980s, I would often catch one or both of the first two, the third was rarely seen on television during my youth, and . . . well . . . celebrating the best television anything is sort of a bit embarrassing.

In the 1980s I learned about the Clios, and I find that award to be the most sincere of them all: we are promoting our industry with this event to garner free advertising, and we are rewarding advertising! It seems like the most sincere of all of them because it is intrinsically insincere!

Then the Daytime Emmys and the MTV awards and the Country Music Awards and the BET Awards. And it goes on.

I know people find the broadcasts entertaining, and if they were a half-hour long (OK, an hour long), I might actually partake; but, they just drone on and on and on with commercial interruption after commercial interruption after commercial interruption.

What I have always wanted to see is an awards show honoring the best awards show: The Award Awards, the "Wardies"!

The "Pier Paolo Pasolini Wardie for Disturbing Notions" goes to . . .

The "Richard Blackwell Wardie for Bad Attire" goes to . . .

The "Amy Heckerling Wardie For Being Clueless" goes to . . .

The "Al Green Wardie for Inappropriate Use of Religious Speech" goes to

The "Paul McCartney Wardie for Cheese" goes to . . .

The "Oprah Winfrey Wardie for Terminal Dullness" goes to . . .

The "Marcel Duchamps Wardie for You've Got To Be Kidding Me" goes to . . .

Oooo! Ohh! Oh! Marcel Duchamp! The statuette could be a replica of R. Mutt's "Fountain"!

You get the idea.

However The Wardies would play-out, I think the BET Awards would win everything this year! They never really knew who won their viewers choice video award, created a not-very-funny mix-up among a battered woman, her colleague, and her perpetrator, and Chris Brown again took to the airwaves to blame God for his . . . well . . . everything!


I guess the advertisers spent some money and some people worked for th enight, so there might be some silver-lining somewhere.

When you find it, please let me know!

Chris Brown Crowned King at BET Awards... Despite Rihanna Fake-Out

Friday, June 24, 2011

Dear Don Garber and MLS With a Copy to ESPN

by Dick Mac

Dear Mr. Garber:

I am a season ticket holder at Red Bull New York. I've been a member of MLS for about seven of the 10 years I have known of the league's existence. It is my plan to be a member until I die (or lose my job).

When I first started following the MetroStars in 2002, it was an effort. The commute from my apartment in Manhattan to Giants Stadium was easy enough, but television broadcasts of my team's away matches were inconsistent, and local media coverage was almost non-existent.

I have watched MLS grow in a similar fashion to the NHL of the 1960s and '70s. Slow, steady growth with the occasional burst and breakthrough.

I know MLS likes to think big and compare itself to (and behave like it is) Major League Baseball, but that is an in-house belief and nobody outside of 420 Fifth Avenue (MLS headquarters) believes this. We don't laugh in your face about it, but the snickering is deafening.

Still, the league's growth has been impressive. When a business venture grows and expands either organically or through acquisition, there is a certain amount soul-selling that takes place. Anyone with a grasp of the free-market understands this. You can't retain all the features of a family enterprise and become a corporate behemoth. Consumers and workers commend any effort that a company makes to retain some of the old-time feel; but, we all know it is transient. That is the price of success.

That equation cannot be controlled, however; the growth takes time and proper decisions need to be made. Bad decision-making results in a huge corporate house of cards, and good decision-making results in a blue-chip stock.

Take the NHL comparison. The NHL and the NHLPA are partners, just as the players association and any other league must work as partners. They did a great job until one day the partnership his a snag, infidelity ensued, a work stoppage was the result, and the league was shuttered. The organic growth that saw the NHL grow from regional also-rans to the international stage with a huge television contract withered faster than you could sneeze NASL.

The NHL work-stoppage lasted so long that ESPN lost interest in them. I knew they were in trouble when an ESPN executive, who was asked about the impact of the strike on ESPN scheduling said something to the effect that (and I paraphrase): "Every truck-pull, arm-wrestling competition, and poker tournament we've put in those time slots has drawn better numbers than hockey; we don't care if they ever come back."

Now that's love!

When the NHL finally resumed play, they were without a national contract, and settled on creation of the Versus network for broadcasting. It took many years, but the NHL has grown Versus into a viable sports network that is part of the Comcast family (for better or worse).

I discuss the NHL story because I think MLS should pay close attention to that league's growth, expansion, and (especially) television history.

ESPN is not a nice organization (and I do not mean to imply that MLS is nice, so forgive me if that is how this sounds), and has become so big that they call all the shots with all their contracts. Even Major League Baseball and the National Football League are unable to stand up to Mickey Mouse and his Disney family of networks. Mickey is a formidable opponent and a dangerous ally!

Soccer is an amazing sport: it is the beautiful game, and there is no wonder why billions of people follow it day-to-day while millions follow basketball, baseball, hockey, and the NFL. Soccer leagues, confederations, ruling bodies, and supporters clubs are also more sophisticated than those other sports. Although the game played on the pitch is rather simple and easy-to-understand, the social, political and corporate structures are, as you know, much more complicated than can be imagined.

It must be tough to manage a league that must also accommodate the schedules of its regional confederation along with the whims of the regional and international governing bodies. Many leagues suspend play temporarily so their players can participate in their countries' tournaments like the World Cup, Confederations Cup, Gold Cup, etc.

MLS and its executives have a unique approach to this: operate in a vacuum, pretend the confederation and international events don't exist, and march forward as a brave lone soldier in the wind against all odds.

I am not sure how that is working for MLS and its Executive Board, franchisees, and talent, but I can tell you that it is working very poorly for your consumers (that is, me).

MLS has worked carefully, diligently, and deliberately to grow the league. The restriction on international players and the existence of salary caps may appear to the unsophisticated as bad business decisions, but I see those rules and their metamorphoses as a brilliant business plan. You protected your early investors' investments, stabilized the league, grew the fan base, expanded slowly, and have reaped benefits that another league (say, the NHL) might envy.

Some things aren't working, though, and I think you need to re-group and reconsider recent events.

As a supporter and season ticket-holder of Red Bull New York, the creation of the designated player (whose salary is outside the salary cap), the increase of DPs per team, and the increase in international players has been a great thing for me.

It's easy for any supporter of any club, in any league, in any country, in any federation, to know if they have a good team: how many of your players are called-up for international duty. RBNY is an example of a good team: six (6) players were called-up.

Many people think RBNY is a foreign team because of the signings of Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez, and other foreign-born players. I will point-out that we had six players called-up to international duty in this last month's cycle of international play, and two of them are USA players and three others are from CONCACAF nations (Jamaica, Canada, and Mexico); only one player is from far away (Senegal). So, our players on international duty are pretty local internationals. We are not talking about our players rushing half-way around the planet to play for some obscure little nation that no American has heard of!

MLS is part of CONCACAF. I know you believe that CONCACAF has nothing to say about soccer in the United States and you would never even consider their planning in your business decisions, but their planning has a dramatic impact on MLS, its teams, and consumers; and your decision to act in a vacuum, without consideration of CONCACAF's planning shows a parochialism that is unbecoming an American corporation.

If the lawyers I work for (and I work for really successful, famous lawyers) were in this discussion, I know they would refer to this aspect of your business plan as "stupid."

Do you know why it is stupid? It isn't a political issue, it's a business issue! You have a force affecting your marketing, your product, its consumers, and your franchises, and you pretend you are somehow removed from it, above it, and fail to respect the impact it has on your product.

Then there is the MLS strategy for television. This is not an easy thing to plan and I am certain that it is easy to be blinded by bright shiny objects seen on the long road to complete market saturation.

I know that Mickey Mouse holds a lot of bright shiny objects in the view of producers who have a product they want to sell via television broadcast; and no matter how old we are, Mickey is a very powerful player in the lives of all Americans. In your case, Mickey owns ESPN, and you covet a spot in his bed to enjoy the orgy of cash that other leagues (except the NHL) eat up.

I understand this plan and this desire. If I owned MLS, I would want my matches on ESPN.

I don't know if you actually watch ESPN, and it doesn't matter to me really. What I do know is that ESPN, its producers, and on-air talent hold soccer in such disdain that they rarely deign to discuss it in their "news" broadcasts, and when they do, our sport is spoken of with such derision that I feel dirty and small afterwards. Perhaps you are OK with that, but I find it embarrassing.

On the other hand, ESPN worships at the altar of MLB, NBA, and NFL. Our sport is secondary to all of those other sports and if we have the nerve to appear on their schedule, they treat us as an unwanted house guest.

Last night, you sold my team's match to ESPN. Instead of broadcasting the match to which they had exclusive rights, they decided to broadcast a college baseball game instead.

So, the RBNY kick-off came and went, and I was treated to a display of young men with metal bats watching other young men throw a ball by them. This went on and on, and ESPN even treated me to some commercials they were broadcasting while my team played the sport ESPN contracted to broadcast. Then their announcers were kind enough to show some highlights of the game when it had ended and give me a recap. All this time, my team is playing a professional match that I can see nowhere else.

My season ticket doesn't get me access, the league provides no access online, but . . . wait . . . I have my MatchDay Live subscription! I can watch it online because I paid for the entire season.

MatchDay Live is another one of the services you sell me after I have purchased my season tickets, spend money getting to and from the stadium, purchase kits and souvenirs, and food and drink at the stadium.

So, while your broadcaster of choice, who hates your sport, is showing a college baseball game while my team is playing in Seattle, I rush to my computer, log-in to MatchDay Live, and find that you have blocked this match, even though I have paid for the service!

Your relationship to ESPN is beginning to look like the relationship of a battered wife to her abusive husband, and my relationship to you is beginning to look like the fallout that happens to the children when the battered wife then beats them.

My beloved team, the team I support through thick and thin, that is decimated by international call-ups you have ignored, is playing three thousand miles away and I cannot watch (even though I have paid for the television service, own season tickets, and subscribe to your online broadcast service).

This isn't working for me.

MLS really needs to get down off its high horse, examine its real spot in the marketplace, make some decisions that show it can operate as a real business with a relationship to its vendors, consumers, and governing bodies, and start treating its supporters a little better.

I will spare you discussion of the Ricardo Salazar incident and the general state of your officiating. You can read about that here, if you care to read what I said about it. That is a problem you will never address publicly, nor should you (but I hope you will address it).

MLS isn't working for me today, and I am a big supporter.

I am angry and you will be punished!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Gay 2011 - Diaz Family of The Bronx

image nicked from Dick Mac

It's hard to believe that the Stonewall Riots happened 42 years ago.

I remember sitting in the back seat of my father's car on a Sunday just before the 4th Of July. We were going to be putting the boat in the water at Old Colony Yacht Club, in Dorchester, and he was with Bob in Chester's Backyard (a barroom) purchasing (illegally) a case (or two) of Schlitz for the boat.

The radio was always tuned to one of the news stations that played marine forecasts, and for some reason I think it was WBZ 1030. While we sat there, a radio show discussed the events of the week. The big stories were the Red Sox (of course), a riot in Greenwich Village (another riot), and the funeral of Judy Garland (I didn't even know she had died).

Riots were still big news in 1969, because they were happening all across the country, generally among police and citizens demonstrating against the Vietnam war or for civil rights. The story seemed to be that a bunch of drunk patrons (probably hippies, right?) got in a fight with police and it got out of hand and continued into the next day. The word "gay" still meant "happy" and the reporter made no mention of homosexuals, or election-year harassment of minority communities.

Judy Garland was the girl from Wizard of Oz, and my mother had the box set "Judy At Carnegie Hall." Two summers prior, my mother and one of her friends went downtown to see Judy perform and coincidentally ended-up at the same cocktail lounge, Alfie's, as the singer later that night. My mother approached Judy and was saddened that the singer, whom she adored, screamed at her to be left alone. So, although "Judy At Carnegie Hall" had been played regularly on our record player, she never played it again, and I only heard it when I put it on (which was more often than I should admit). But I digress . . .

It wasn't until a few years later when I was a member of the 1976 Boston Gay Pride Planning Committee that I realized I'd heard about the Stonewall Riots and Judy's funeral at the very same moment. I always thought it was an amazing coincidence, but nobody else has ever been as impressed.

All of that said, Gay Pride Day is this weekend in New York City.

The Village Voice released their queer issue and I was fascinated by an article about the Diaz family, of The Bronx.

Ruben Diaz, Sr., is the homophobic minister/senator who works in Albany to promote the hatred and continued marginalization of homosexuals; his son, Ruben, Jr., is the hypocritical Bronx Borough President who protects the public activities of the elder Diaz; and Erica Diaz, is the lesbian niece/granddaughter of these two horrible men.

The elder Diaz's online biography at the New York Senate's website refers to him as a minister (Reverend Diaz) more times (9) than it does an elected official (Senator Diaz) (6), and one of those references to Senator Diaz refer to him as Senator Reverend Diaz.

I think it's odd that an elected official would consider their business title (reverend) to be more important than their government title (senator); and I think there should be an investigation into Diaz's use of the State Senate's website to promote his personal business.

Ruben Diaz, Jr., wants to be taken seriously as a modern American, but his refusal to protect the interests of all New Yorkers against his homophobic father shows him to be ineffectual as a leader. He is the Bronx Borough President and if you are a homosexual in The Bronx, then he is failing to protect you adequately and to advocate for your well-being. In a nutshell, he is a failure as a public servant. He cannot, of course, prevent his father from expressing his opinion, and I don't expect him to. There are approximately 140,000 homosexuals in The Bronx who need their rights protected and Diaz, Jr. has failed to speak out against those who would deny over a hundred thousand of his constituents their civil rights. If an elected official cannot speak-up to protect ALL his constituents, he is a failure.

The article was much more generous than I will ever be about the Diaz family who have created a little fiefdom in New York City politics.

The article follows, allows and forgives the parochial notion of patriarchal bonds in this Latino family. These are cultural bonds that keep sons from maturing as modern men, daughters from escaping the cycle of pre-marital teenage maternity, and homosexual children from leading a healthy, fulfilling life.

The article quaintly tells the story of Erica joining her grandfather on the podium at his anti-gay rally on the steps of the Borough Hall outside the windows of her uncle's office. Erica explains that she was present at the anti-gay rally so her grandfather knew she loves him.

What the fuck?

So, I am a lesbian and the only way my family knows I love them is that I stand at a podium while they say lesbianism is unacceptable.

Girl, if this is your idea of how the world works, you are in for a hellish life of complete and utter subjugation at the hands of anyone who wants your love. Grow a spine and either go back into the closet and side with your bigoted grandfather and spineless uncle, or speak out against them. Having it both ways is useless -- which will lead to your own misery.

Diaz, Jr. is also treated kindly in the article, perhaps because he is handsome and young and smart, and maybe the writer might have a crush on him. Perhaps we all do. He's pretty hot! But Diaz, Jr. needs to grow a set and either protect ALL his constituents against his father's moronic, unAmerican activities; or just put his tail between his legs, shut-up and fall into line behind his daddy in one of the anti-gay hate-fests daddy likes to host.

Diaz, Sr.'s most recent cause celebre was gay marriage. He worked diligently, vocally and hatefully to prevent basic civil rights from being enjoyed by all taxpayers. Like most hypocrites that drape themselves in the mantle of the Christus, he was concerned about the institution of marriage. Diaz, Sr., is such a fan of marriage and so concerned about its protection, that he has been married twice. His first wife wasn't good enough for him, so he got a new one. And he is afraid that homosexuals will destroy marriage?!?!? Looks like the Reverend is doing a good job of it all by himself.

When a family inserts itself into the public in a pursuit of power, their life decisions become part of the public record and they are held accountable. God knows we do it to the Kennedy, Palin, and Bush families, and the Diaz family should be treated no differently. If they are on your side, then give them praise, if they are your enemy, speak out against them.

Unlike the former families, the Diaz family wants it both ways: they want to hate homosexuals and work to deny them civil rights and they want to love homosexuals and support their place in American society. Well, you can't have it both ways: you are either for the continued discrimination of taxpayers based on their sexuality, or you support equal treatment under the law for all taxpayers.

Image used above is a business card design nicked from Business Cards and you can purchase them at that site.

Díaz Family Values. This excellent article was written by Steven Thrasher.

Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr., official government bio

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Discussing the Salazar Event - Bemused By An Internet Discussion

by Dick Mac

Yesterday's blog entry discussed the statement made by Red Bull New York (RBNY) about Ricardo Salazar, the referee for RBNY's Sunday night match against Portland.

Salazar made a questionable decision to eject Thierry Henry from the match after he had a less-than-friendly interaction with an opponent. Both players were pissed-off about a play, and each responded poorly to the other. However, only Henry was ejected, while his opponent was allowed to finish the match.

I insist that this official is, and always has been, an ebarrassment to all referees and sports officials in every sport; he consistently makes bad calls, favors one team over another, and allows opinion and the search for personal glory to inform his decisions.

The original article appeared at the RBNY site, and was linked to their Facebook account; so, anybody connected to the team via Facebook could comment, and the thread used all the features of a Facebook discussion.

I posted:

Wow! What an amazing statement. I have never seen a team speak-out so clearly and succinctly about officiating.

Salazar is an embarrassment, and should never work another MLS match. His officiating is consistently bad.

Hours later, another reader replied that Salazar bore no responsibility for the call:

A short exchange followed, where I insisted that Salazar was solely responsible (AR refers to Assistant Referee):

The person who was ostensibly defending Salazar then did something odd and the thread looked like this:

The other person deleted all their previous statements, then announced that the discussion was done.

I am no expert debater, and many will tell you that my emotionalism more often than not clouds my ability to effectively present my arguments; but I never just dismiss the other person with a pronouncement that the discussion is over. That is just plain rude!

I have heard of this sort of thing happening on the internet, but had never actually had it happen. Oddly, it happened twice yesterday (the other incident is too insane to merit discussion).

The internet is a debating landmine: we do not see each other and are accountable to nobody, so we can say whatever we want with impunity. I have been guitly of it, and have had to apologize (publicly and privately) on more than one occasion for statements I made on the web. This notion of removing all traces of a discussion before dismissing the other person is new to me. So, I had to share it with you!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Speaking Out

by Dick Mac

One of the rules that defines political behavior in professional sports leagues is the ban on players, management, and executives making public remarks about officiating.

A manager, head coach, or general manager who criticizes the referees, judges or umpires, is subject to fine and/or suspension. The talent (the players) are sometimes treated more harshly, but generally all are punished when they sully the reputation of the game by questioning the integrity of the arbiters.

It's not unusual for it to happen and the team to pay a fine for the indiscretion, and the wealthier the team, the more likely its management and ownership group to speak-up because the cost of the fine is so nominal.

George Steinbrenner brought it to new heights: he was a very powerful man in baseball, had very deep pockets, and was happy to pay the few grand it cost to speak his mind. In Europe, the wealthier football clubs do the same thing: the manager criticizes the officiating at will, because the few grand he will be fined is nothing compared to the overall budget of the club.

The majority of sport teams, however, do not enjoy this luxury, and it is out-of-the-ordinary to hear a team official criticize the officials.

Come now, Erik Soler, general manager of Red Bull New York, of Major League Soccer. His team (my team) played the Portland Timbers, at Portland, Sunday night in a match that was broadcast nationally.

The referee was a man named Ricardo Salazar, an official who I have always believed hated my team and generally called every match to the benefit of our opponents. I have never typed that before, because it always sounds like sour grapes to blame the officials after a loss; hut, he has consistently called many fouls against New York and fewer fouls against our opponents, home or away, when we were a less wealthy team and now that we are a financial powerhouse, when we were the MetroStars and now that we are the Red Bulls. Every time I saw him on the pitch at the beginning of a match, I knew we were going to be treated unfairly.

So, it was no surprise to me Sunday night when Salazar called every little foul against my side and almost nothing against Portland.

This time, though, it got really insane and either this Salazar guy was unable to control his hatred for my team, he was being paid-off to call the match this poorly, or he is just simply so incompetent that he is unable to call a match between any teams, at any time.

RBNY General Manager Erik Soler called a press conference yesterday, the morning after the match, to publicly discuss the mess of a match and the officiating of Salazar.

The last straw was the issuance of a red card to Thierry Henry, near the end of the match, after an incident during which Henry and an opponent exchanged words, tense words, and Henry sarcastically slapped the guy in the back of the head, making it look like a friendly pat. Henry was out-of-line, but the indiscretion does not merit immediate dismissal from the match!

I found this discussion of a red card at
A red card is the heaviest punishment the referee can give to a player. The offender must leave the field at once, and he may well be banned for at least one further match. One he is gone, he cannot be replaced by a substitute; his team must continue with one less man. In the English Premier League there is an automatic three-match ban, although players can appeal against this.

Because they are so powerful, red cards are reserved for very bad behaviour such as violence, abuse or deliberate cheating. A red card can stain an entire team’s performance in a tournament, taking their players out of crucial games and sapping the morale of the squad.

The offences that warrant a red card are defined in FIFA’s Laws of the Game

  1. Being guilty of ‘serious foul play’ (for instance, a very dangerous tackle).
  2. Violence.
  3. Spitting at an opponent or other person.
  4. Denying the other side an opportunity to score by handling the ball.
  5. Denying the other side an opportunity to score by fouling a player.
  6. Offensive or abusive language or gestures.
Players frequently criticise the referee’s decision to ‘book’ them and it is quite ordinary for a yellow card to be upgraded to a red when they argue against his decision.

The system of coloured cards was invented in 1970 by a British Referee called Ken Aston, who came up with the idea while waiting at traffic lights on Kensington High Street.

Although written in English, not American, the rule above is universal.

Like all rules of games, this rule is open to interpretation and what is considered serious by one arbiter may not be considered serious by another. Problems arise when an official holds the two teams to different standards. This is what Ricardo Salazar does whenever the Red Bulls play.

Soler's press conference was enlightening. After discussing the red card to Henry, he revealed this: " . . . there is no way that one team can draw 20 more fouls than the other team, especially in a match where one team drew just five fouls."

A team being called for 25 fouls in a match is not unusual, but when the other team is called for only five, then something is rotten in Denmark (or, Portland, in this case).

Salazar's officiating has been questionable from the first match he worked, and he has acted with impunity.

I am looking forward to the response by Don Garber, Commissioner of MLS. If he is smart (and nobody has ever accused him of that dereliction), he will say nothing; but, if he does respond, he will have to take action either against Soler and RBNY or Ricardo Salazar.

Here is the violent conduct for which Henry was ejected:

Henry abused Moffatt and treated him like a child, which is one of Henry's tactics, and Moffatt struck out, which is what he does. Either both get the same card or both get a verbal warning. Salazar's inequitable treatment is glaring, and he should be punished for it.

Read about Soler's press conference here:

Red Bulls' Erik Soler releases statement regarding New York-Portland Match

Monday, June 20, 2011

New Jersey Governor Follows The Primrose Path

image nicked from the webby Dick Mac

I heard a news story this morning about New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, making plans to privatize more schools and replace traditional schools with charter schools.

Christie is that breed of American who believes that the supply-side economic theory, including the privatization of all services, is our only hope; and has, indeed, been a huge success.

There is a 30+ year history of statistical and anecdotal evidence about the success of deregulation (as it is popularly called) and union-busting (as it is more accurately called), and none of that evidence points to this being a good idea for anyone but the very few people who will be given the taxpayers money to keep for themselves while the schools continue on their downward trajectory.

Let's take a handful of industries that have enjoyed deregulation and you tell me how this economic theory has played-out: airlines, banking, manufacturing (especially food processing), government services, drug manufacturing, insurance, home development and mortgaging. OK, we'll stop there.

Over the past thirty-plus years, have these industries become better or worse while enjoying the implementation of deregulation and union-busting?

Yet, the robber-barons and their apologists in the GOP (and the teeny-tiny tea party) sincerely believe, with all their cold, black hearts, that things are better.

In fact, they will tell you that the poor (you and me - the middle class) are destroying our government and economy. In reality, the poor (that is, the middle class) are paying higher taxes than ever before and getting less government services, and the rich are paying lower taxes than they ever have and getting more government services.

What Christie is doing in New Hersey is exactly what the GOP plans to do everywhere: raise the taxes on the workers, lower the taxes on the wealthy, eliminate governmental services for the middle-class (like education), and continue to push more money up to the wealthiest where they've promised it will trickle-down to the rest of us.

And yet, I know people who continue to vote Republican and complain that this is happening. Somehow they blame the Democrats and the working people of America while all statistical and anecdotal evidence contradicts the entire notion.

But, that conservatism for you: close your mind and your eyes and listen only to those who tell you that your fears are the correct fears, your hatred is validated, and that the middle-class is out to take advantage of you.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Dusty, Dusty, Dusty

by Dick Mac

Dusty Springfield performed a lot of duets on television. Not enough of them, of course, but there are decades worth of them.

I tried to pick just one, but had to publish a collection because I just couldn't pick one.

Dusty and the television camera had a love affair in the 1960s, and I was a beneficiary of it!

Here she sings the Nile Rodgers-penned, Diana Ross hit "Upside Down," with Tom Jones

Here she sings the Motown classic "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" with Englebert Humperdink:

Here she interviews The Beatles:

And here is a montage of duets that makes me feel like I'm on an acid trip, because it's mostly so surreal:

"A House Is Not A Home" with Burt Bacharach:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

"We Are The Champions," Queen

by Dick Mac

So, I haven't followed hockey since the mid-1970s. I had been lucky enough to come of age while the Boston Bruins of the Orr/Esposito era was winning (and winning and winning). I attended a fair number of games, followed them on WSBK-TV 38, and read about them every day in the Boston Globe.

I didn't learn about the 2010-2011 Bruins' good fortune until the Stanley Cup finals had begun. I watched the first game, then I missed Games 2 and 5; but I watched the others, including Game 6 the other night and Game 7 last night.

I had heard that the Vancouver Canucks were the superior team and were expected to win. They didn't win, and their fans trashed the city in retribution.

Bruins fans do what Boston fans do so often: they chanted about a different team and sporting event in celebration of the Bruins' victory.

It's always odd to be at a Boston Red Sox game when the fans chant "Yankees Suck!" even though the Yankees are not anywhere near Fenway Park. I am no longer a Red Sox fan (or a fan of anything related to Major League Baseball), but I am still embarrassed for Bostonians when this happens (and it happens so, so very often).

In keeping with the Bostonian penchant for not knowing what is actually going on at at a sporting event, a group of Bruins fans was recorded chanting "USA! USA! USA!" in celebration of the Boston Bruins' victory.

Lest any readers here be confused, let me assure you the the United States had nothing to do with the NHL Stanley Cup final between the Boston Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks. But, that means nothing to Boston sports fans. I am certain that at some point, later in the celebration, that same group of fans began shouting "Yankees Suck"!

Congratulations Boston Bruins!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"Little By Little," Dusty Springfield

by Dick Mac

Born Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien in 1939, Dusty Springfield took the entertainment industry by storm in the mid-1960s.

Dusty and Barbara Lewis were the two girl singers who defined pop music in my life. I don't know if she was the singer for whom the term "blue-eyed soul" was coined, but you can't find a whiter part of the gene pool singing more soulful songs.

So young and self-conscious in this television appearance in the 1960s, she lip-synchs the wonderful "Little By Little." This is my daughter's favorite Dusty song. I didn't even know this song, and I was alive and listening to Top 40 AM radio when it was released. So, I must have heard it then.

On her death bed, March 2, 1999, Dusty was presented with an OBE (as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire), which had been granted by Queen Elizabeth II.

Her LP "Dusty In Memphis" is one of the best records of all-time (IMNSHO).


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fantastic Failure - Kristeen Young

by Dick Mac

Today is the third day of my vacation (it's all I ever wanted)!

I spent Friday seeing Red Bull New York beat the New England Revolution, Saturday in Worcester, Sunday in Boston, and last night I watched Guatemala make easy work of Grenada, and then Jamaica embarrass Honduras.

Today I have even more to do, and it includes errands and meetings and the such. It's not very vacation-y.

Tonight, however, I plan to go to Pianos, in the Lower East Side to see Kristeen Young:

Monday, June 13, 2011

"Frenchette," David Johansen

by Dick Mac

And then the New York Dolls broke-up and I thought I'd kill myself, but I didn't! And when I didn't, I asked: "Is that all there is to a drag act?"

David Johansen's solo career was much more interesting to me than Johnny Thunders'. I saw them both perform after the Dolls broke-up and to the same degree that Johnny was sort of a sad sight to behold, David proved to be a true showman and put on a remarkable show. He is a minstrel, a singer, a performer. He gives to his fans, and I've enjoyed some wonderful shows.

A number of the songs that appeared on his first record were written for the never-to-exist third Dolls's record. Here's one of my favorites, "Frenchette":

Friday, June 10, 2011

"Party Lights," Claudine Clark

by Dick Mac

Not so much for the video as for the most excellent song: "Party Lights," by Claudine Clark.

This is a montage video made by a fan of the song, it is not a music video or film made by the label to promote the song. It's such a great song, however, that I've decided to share it today.

I don't remember this song being released, but I remember hearing it through the sixties at every dance party.

From Clark's modest Wikipedia page:

Claudine Clark (born April 26, 1941 in Macon, Georgia) is an American R&B musician, best known as the singer and composer of the 1962 hit "Party Lights", which reached #5 on the Billboard pop chart.

Clark grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and began recording in 1958 for the Herald record label then moved to New York. She finally had a hit with her second single for Chancellor Records, the self-penned "Party Lights," but her follow-up, "Walkin' Through a Cemetery", was a commercial failure. She continued to record and compose, including under the alias Joy Dawn for the Swan Records label.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Vacation [Live] - The Go-Go's

by Dick Mac

Today is my last work day before vacation (it's all I ever wanted)!

I stopped being a fan of the music video by the late 1980s. Every song became a little movie, generally a really bad little movie. There was the occasional brilliant music video (Madonna, Michael Jackson, David Bowie all come to mind), but they were rare.

Today the videos are better quality - there's now an entire generation who has grown-up with music videos, and the current consumers are much more demanding than my generation ever thought of being. We were happy to get a new album, never mind an actual movie that went along with it.

Like last year, I will post music videos during my vacation. Just for you.

Come back tomorrow and every weekday next week for more music.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

More Bat-Shit Activities On The Right

by Dick Mac

Instead of discussing real issues facing America, like:
  • how are we going to restore an actual tax base?

  • how are we ever going to be able to afford repairs to roads and bridges?

  • when are we going to stop propping-up puppet governments with tax dollars instead of corporate profits?

  • when are we going to stop our wars against Islam and start negotiating in good faith with the vast majority of Muslims who oppose war and killing as much as Christians do?

  • when are we going to start properly funding education?

  • when are we going to move the discussion of health care out of the arena of abortion and into the arena of health?
instead of discussing any of these issues, Republicans keep the spotlight on bestiality and stories about the correlation among a free-market economy, Biblical writings, and sexual preference.

At Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington, D.C., the usual suspects gathered to misinterpret the Bible, the Constitution, and all sense of common decency: Michele Bachmann, Haley Barbour, Mitt Romney, Tony Perkins, Paul Ryan, John Boehner, Jon Huntsman, Donald Trump, Glenn Beck, Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, and others participated in discussions that included the fantastic notion that homosexuality undermines the American economy.

The Republicans really believe this; or they are such psychopathic liars that they will say anything to get attention, votes, and money.

In this analysis, the implementation of supply-side economic policy is not responsible for our deficient economy, nor are anti-consumer finance laws, crooked mortgage lenders, Wall Street CEOs, tax evaders, or tax irresponsible cuts responsible for our dire financial standing. It's the cocksuckers, the fags, the queers and dykes.

If Barney Frank would eat pussy instead of cock, if Ellen DeGeneres would suck cock instead of pussy, then the American economy would be in a much better place. We could afford huge tax cuts for the rich AND maintain our government, we could off-shore all our jobs AND still have 1% unemployment, we could sell immoral adjustable-rate mortgages to the poor AND make home-ownership an integral part of the American Dream . . . if only the queers would stop being queers.

I know my Republican friends and family are offended when I make this statement, but here I go again: If you vote Republican, then these are your ideals - you believe that homosexuality undermines our economy. You believe that your gay brother/sister/cousin/aunt/uncle/etc. is the reason why you can't seem to get ahead of the curve.

If you vote Republican you are the problem.

Of course, you will say that this is a generalization. I would argue that it's a rather accurate generalization, like saying all the white people are Caucasian.

If you vote Republican you are the problem.

Of course you will say that the GOP has a very sane and responsible fiscal plan for America, but you would be wrong. The GOP plan has been in implementation for over 30 years and every year our economy and fiscal standing deteriorate further.

If you vote Republican you are the problem.

There's no way around it!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Beautiful Manhattan

by Dick Mac

It seems to me that more people visit Manhattan each day than live in some large cities.

That could be chauvinism, an exaggeration, wishful thinking, or accurate. I don't know.

Really, that's not even the point I intended to make. Lots of people take pictures of Manhattan, and its skyline is perhaps the most recognizable in the world.

Embedded below is an amazing time-lapse video of Manhattan, created by Mindrelic, from Rochester, NY.


Mindrelic - Manhattan in motion from Mindrelic on Vimeo.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Seeking Santorum

by Dick Mac

Rick Santorum just won't go away. He's like a Bad Penny, or a Bad Palin.

I can't imagine this guy has any chance of winning the Republican nomination to run for President; but he has all the qualities the teeny-tiny tea party require: he's against personal freedom, against taxes, against government, and lacking in common sense, humanity, and dignity.

Although he is unable to get elected in his home state of Pennsylvania, because his politics are even too full of bat-shit for the Alabamans in Pennsylvania (let's face it: a big chunk of the PA population belongs in Alabama), he is a darling of the teeny-tiny tea party and their very loud voice at New Corporation.

Santorum says that he opposes gay marriage, abortion, and scientific research, among other things. Which means, he will keep the dialog focused on everything but the actual issues facing people who live outside of the Fox News fantasy land.

I am interested to see if ANYONE in the teeny-tiny tea party endorses him. Without those ten thousand votes across the country, he doesn't stand a chance!

It's unlikely that the nation will be santorumed.

Santorum in White House race; 'In it to win it'

Rick Santorum's Google Problem

Friday, June 03, 2011

Did The Fox Headquarters Get Hacked?

by Dick Mac

A video appeared on YouTube that shows the electronic ticker message board on the News Corporation headquarters at 47th and Sixth being hacked and the message changing to an anti-corporate message that Fox would never in a million years proclaim.

Fox News insists the hack is a hoax, and some news aggregators are taking that position. Of course they would insist it was a hoax -- they can't admit they've been hacked; and there is no mileage in prosecuting such a hack because it is mostly funny, not dangerous.

Some of us want to believe it is not a hoax, so we are taking that position.

Check it out for yourself:

Gawker is spreading Fox's story that it is a hoax: Was the Ticker At Fox News HQ Hacked?

Thursday, June 02, 2011

A Failure of a War

by Dick Mac

War is a terrible thing.

I remember this poster from the 1960s that said: "War is not healthy for children and other living things." It seems so quaint now, but no less true. I also remember it being in full color, but I can't find that image anywhere.

Americans have not had a very good experience with war in my lifetime. Sure there have been some victories; but we've fought to a draw, or downright lost, a few, too.

The worst wars, those that cost the most and return the lowest level of success are the fake wars: the war on terrorism and the war on drugs come to mind.

The war on drugs has been such a failure that I am surprised more Americans have not concluded that the military must be protecting the drug trade.

The war on drugs has been as successful as our war on alcohol, in the early part of the last century. That is, it has been a complete, total, and absolute failure.

The Global Commission on Drug Policy has pronounced that the war on drugs is not working and that drug enforcement policy needs to fundamentally change. They are suggesting a policy switch that shifts the emphasis away from crime (drug use should never be a crime) to public health (untreated drug addiction costs society a fortune).

American conservatives will lose their minds over this of course, because they need to blame someone for their hatred of all things and it's easy to blame drug users and entire nations that produce drugs (but not the United States corporations that produce drugs, or right-wing radio hosts who are addicted to drugs).

By criminalizing drug use, conservatives get to sit on their high horse and pretend they are morally better than others and scare taxpayers into giving them bundles of money for their fake war against drugs.

Let's be clear about something: there is no evidence that the funds for the war on drugs were ever used to prevent the importation of drugs. Billions and billions of dollars worth of drugs flow freely into our country with only tiny amounts intercepted.

Let's compare this to the military's campaign against bananas. Yes, bananas.

In 2000, the war on bananas being fought between the European Union and the United States was finally resolved. When the EU was formed in the early 1990s, they implemented banana importation laws that favored their former colonies. This conflicted with US policy that favored the distribution of bananas from states controlled by US corporations.

If you remember, in the autumn of 2000 and early 2001, the United States Navy was able to blockade every ship carrying bananas that fell outside of the US plan. It was impressive! Not a single banana controlled by non-US interests made it through!

Oddly, though, that same military is unable to stop the flow of cocaine from the exact same region. Hmmmmmmmm . . .

Let's go back twenty years earlier than that. When Ronald Reagan became president, he promised an end to marijuana importation. The cost of reefer sky-rocketed as the Navy blockaded the Caribbean and stopped all the marijuana from getting to US ports. In the end, this was a major plus for marijuana consumers, as the domestically-grown product was far superior. Again, the Navy was able to stop everything they wanted to stop.

When the marijuana importation business was crippled, and the domestic crop had yet to be properly developed, cocaine replaced reefer as the drug of choice among white, middle-class Americans. Although the military was able to stop all the marijuana from making it to shore, and two decades later would succeed at preventing all the bananas from making it ashore, it was not able to stop the cocaine.

I have always found this rather suspicious. Call me a cynic, but it seems somewhat odd.

Well, it was Reagan's draconian marijuana policies that helped define both the war on drugs and the shift of drug use from relatively benign marijuana to incredibly dangerous cocaine.

Our War On Drugs has been an absolute failure. There is nothing the Reaganites (so-called conservatives) can point to and say: 'you see, the war on drugs was successful.' Billions and billions of dollars have been given to private security firms, military contractors and foreign governments, and no tangible result has been seen.

All this time (THIRTY YEARS), liberals have maintained that the war on drugs is a failure and money should be spent on treatment and education, not interdiction and imprisonment.

Come now, anti-American socialists like former Secretary of State George Shultz and Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, Paul Volcker, who . . oh, wait a minute . . . these guys aren't socialists at all; but they are saying America policy is wrong.

This commission is filled with our allies, client states, and the aforementioned Americans, and they have issued a report proclaiming that our drug policy is a failure.

Thank goodness!

Download their report here.

A report about the banana war.