Friday, March 30, 2012

Is It "YS, A" or "YSA"?

by Dick Mac

In an article at Yahoo! Sports today, Zac Wassink discusses Major League Soccer's (MLS) new directive to curb the use of profanity in chants during the match. See, RBNY Fan: NY Red Bulls Fans Taking Steps . . .

In particular, the league has told teams to get their supporters groups in line and stop shouting "You Suck Asshole" or "You Suck, Asshole" (YSA) when the opposing goalkeeper takes a goal kick to send the ball soaring back into play.

Soccer teams have supporters clubs that are independent, non-profit organizations formed and managed by by the best and the brightest fans. They organize social activities, parties, and fundraising events outside of the stadium, they organize a march to the stadium on game day, and the provide ninety minutes of constant vocal support for the team. They never sit down and they never stop chanting or singing.

I am a season ticket holder for Red Bull New York (RBNY). I have been for a number of seasons now. Originally, when the team was at Giants Stadium, there was one primary supporters club: Empire Supporters Club. They sat in Section 101. There were a couple of other, smaller groups in other sections of the stadium, but ESC was the primary group.

When the team moved to Red Bull Arena, the three sections behind the south goal were designated specifically for supporters groups. Section 132 is Garden State Supporters, Section 101 is Empire Supporters Club (right behind the goal), and Section 102 is Viking Army, the newest of the supporters groups.

My daughter and I became members of the Viking Army. We are Vikings. I joined Viking Army because it was formed by the brightest, smartest, funniest, friendliest members of the supporters club community. Viking Army feels open and inclusive, not quite as exclusive as the others.

We do not sit in Section 102 with the rest of the Army, because my daughter is still rather small and is intimidated by the constant motion behind the goal. I share her concern that it might not be safe for her, so we sit in a nearby section wearing our viking helmets and chanting/singing along with the other soldiers.

I do not know which supporters club in which city coined the YSA chant, but more than one person has said that it originated at Giants Stadium with ESC. I have no idea so that seems as plausible as any other "historical fact." The chant has spread through MLS. Some teams and cities have embraced the chant, some front offices have banned the chant, and most of us just ignore it. It's just there at the soccer match, sort of like bad hot dogs, watery beer, and pretty girls.

MLS has signed a contract with NBC that will have an increased number of soccer matches televised nationwide. This is a major breakthrough for the league.

With this increase in exposure comes scrutiny. Not scrutiny through malice, just more people paying attention. For supporters clubs this can be a double-edged sword. Of course we want our sport to be taken seriously, and we want other people to experience the joy and passion of soccer, and we want more tickets to be sold, and we want the players to earn more money. We want all of those things. With those things comes more eyes and ears paying attention.

NBC is not happy about their field microphones capturing three thousand voices shouting YSA into millions of American homes. Field mics are an integral part of the American television experience. The constant buzz of the crowd behind the action is ambiance that all television viewers take for granted. When it's not there, we notice it. So, NBC is not going to get rid of their field mics. Nobody is used to hearing the word "asshole" clearly and distinctly a part of that background noise.

When the opposing goalkeeper takes his goal kick, the YSA chant is heard clearly and distinctly on every television. NBC and their sponsor do not want this. They will not tolerate it, and if MLS is going to continue to grow and be taken seriously by adults with money, then the word "asshole" is going to cease being part of the broadcast.

If it does not cease, the big money will go away, and MLS will be relegated to the second-class citizenry it has always enjoyed.

MLS has sent a directive to each team and each team has sent that directive to the supporters clubs.

In the Viking Army, many are OK with letting-go of YSA. The comment from this camp is that the chant is old, past its expiration date, and we can do better. Another camp in the Army is of the "it's might right" group who assert that their free speech cannot be altered by an authority figure. They claim that YSA and the passion it represents are an integral part of the soccer experience.

Both positions are completely true, accurate, valid analyses of the situation. Neither side is right and neither side is wrong.

Yes, I think the MLS decision to "ban" YSA is totally lame and unnecessary. Some of the opposing arguments are even lamer. I think highly of supporters clubs, especially Viking Army. Although I do not agree with the ban, the MLS reason for banning it is dramatically more convincing than supporter arguments for keeping it. I am in the camp of: "We can do better."

The quality of the supporters' chants at RBNY matches is high. At one match, a Red Bull player lost one of his shoes in the box and scored a goal without it. The folks in Section 101 spontaneously removed one shoe, waved it in the air and chanted: "One shoe. He only needs one shoe . . ."!

This was one of the funniest incidents I have ever experienced in public. It was brilliant, and I think is a perfect reflection of the intellect, wit, and passion of RBNY supporters groups.

Still there are many who cling to the less impressive YSA chant and are offended at the notion that we will relent and dump YSA under pressure from the team and the league.

This situation is not new, it's been discussed for years. To those who think no chant should be banned, no expression stifled, I once asked a question on a message board, and I've never gotten an answer. So I pose it again.

To help me accurately explain this chant to my eight-year-old daughter when she asks what YSA means, I want to know if it is (1) "You suck, asshole." Meaning you perform fellatio and you are the opening at the end of a rectum; or (2) "You suck asshole." Meaning you place your mouth on the anus of another person and make slurping noises.

If there is a third possible definition of the phrase, I would appreciate knowing it.

I know to many this sounds ridiculous, but I think it is as valid a discussion as anything else put forward about YSA.

What are we yelling?

Where is the punctuation?

The YSA chant was funny at one time, and it really is far beneath such a quality group of supporters. I've never really pursued the issue, but now that it is a discussion in the public forum, I want a pro-YSA supporter to answer the question. Perhaps I am missing something and can be swayed to the other side with an explanation.

Row, Vikings, row! Forza Red Bull!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Encyclopaedia Britannica's Pages Go The Way Of All Flesh

by Dick Mac

I love reference material.

As a boy, I loved going to the library and reading the encyclopedia and ancient newspapers on microfiche.

In my twenties, I managed to get a job and an income, and I purchased the black leather-bound edition of the 1990 Encyclopaedia Britannica. I loved owning those books. They felt so important, so vital, so alive.

I loved opening the Propaedia, finding a topic, and reading through the volumes for every article related to that topic.

My journey to Britannica was not a straight line from thought to purchase. I knew there were multiple publishers releasing encyclopedia, but I knew nothing about what made them different from each other.

I initially sought out the Americana. I knew Britannica was one of, if not the best, and I had made the assumption that the Americana was the United States, or new world, version of that famous and prestigious publication.

It wasn't easy to get information about Americana. What information I did obtain was scant and sort of used-car-salesman-like. I was not impressed. I did learn that it was not affiliated with Britannica, which surprised me.

I knew about World Book, and learned (correctly or incorrectly) that it was the best-selling English-language encyclopedia. It did not promote itself as being comprehensive, and I was of the opinion that it was for school children.

I found an advertisement in The New Yorker, or The Nation, or one of the publications I read regularly, for Encyclopaedia Britannica. I was sooooo irritated by the spelling, but I did not let that get in the way of my research. I called the number, and was shocked to find out that a salesman could come to my home, show me the volumes, and show me why their product was the best.

The salesman came to my home with multiple salesman suitcases, sat in my living room and started his demonstration. It really felt like a television show where the housewife opens the front door, the salesman tosses a handful of dirt onto her carpet, and explains that his vacuum cleaner can get that dirt up better than any other vacuum cleaner available. He gets to do his demonstration and another happy housewife is the proud new owner of a super-duper-lightweight-state-of-the-art vacuum cleaner.

Well, OK, the Britannica salesman wasn't that aggressive, nor was he that tacky.

One part of demonstration I did not expect was a discussion of the books' physical attributes. He explained binding and stitching and had me feel the leather, opened a volume to the middle, discussed the paper used, the printing method used, held up a single page of the book and then removed his other hand. The book dropped from his hand and was suspended from that single page, in tact. He then shook the book back and forth, up and down and explained that Britannica pages do not rip easily, nor accidentally. That was the only salesman-like part of his pitch.

Most of the time was spent discussing and examining the intellectual property: the articles. He explained that Britannica hired the the top expert in each field to compose the article on that subject. Einstein wrote the article on relativity, Freud wrote the article on psychotherapy, and so on. I don't actually remember if those two experts composed those two articles, but that was the general idea. He also explained that other encyclopedia hired writers and editors to sit there and compose articles - not the experts.

He explained the Propaedia, which flabbergasted me. I had never heard of such a thing and was blown-away that it even existed.

I purchased Britannica that day. It was the black-leather bound edition. It was dedicated to Queen Elizabeth II and George H.W. Bush. It was beautiful and perfect in every way.

Less than ten years later, changes in living arrangements made it clear I could not lug this set of books around with me, and they went to my brother's house for his four daughters. I missed it, but was very happy it would be put to use.

My daughter is now eight years old. Before she was born I decided I would buy a new set of Britannica when she entered fourth grade. That will be the 2013-14 school year.

I thought about where we would store them and how I would teach her about them, and show her how to find anything she wanted to know about. It's a pretty exciting plan. I suspect I am just as excited about having Britannica for myself as I am about getting it for her.

Imagine my dread and dismay when I saw this article online: Digital Kills Printed Encyclopaedia Britannica After 244 Years.

In 2013 there will not be a current edition of Britannica for me to purchase for my daughter's use and to display in my home. Those beautiful leather-bound volumes will not be at my fingertips. I won't be able to touch them. It makes me sad.

My daughter is part of a generation that is completely wired via the web. She was four years old the first time she said: "Just go to Google and find it." I don't think she has the same tactile relationship to information that I have. I learn best from a physical page. I like the feel and smell of pages in books. I know I am being parochial, but it's not because I object to electronic media, it's just that I am not used to it.

So, in a couple of years I will subscribe to Britannica online. I'm certain my daughter will benefit greatly from it.

Still, I will miss those books.

Encyclopaedia Britannica Kills its Print Edition


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Blogger Michelle Malkin

by Dick Mac

Michelle Malkin is a blogger.

Michelle is a woman's name.


Many names seem to be used by both sexes.

I know that Michel Foucault was a man and George Eliot was a woman.

Perhaps Michelle Malkin is a man.

Malkin has taken a position on the Trayvon Martin atrocity. That position is that "activists" in the "lib media" (which doesn't exist) have exaggerated the situation and are victimizing the shooter.

Malkin published a picture of Trayvoon Martin in saggy trousers and flipping the bird as proof that he was a thug and, presumably, deserved to die. Using Michelle's logic, the "fucking coon" that was killed deserved to be killed because he dressed like a "thug."

Which, I guess, means that Justin Bieber and Eminem should be killed for glorification of that culture, those clothes and the profiteering related to it.

As far as I know, she has not yet stated emphatically that those two men deserve to be shot. I cannot say with confidence that she does not believe that Justin Bieber should not be shot. Well, I guess we can conclude that Michelle Malkin wants to see Justin Bieber shot. Dead. Because, well, you know . . . he glorifies hip-hop ("thug") culture.

Eventually, Malkin quietly noted later that the picture she posted wasn't really a picture of Trayvon Martin. It was just a picture used to smear the dead boy's reputation.

I was shocked to realize I didn't know Michelle Malkin, or what sex it might be. (I actually have never heard of Michelle Malkin until this week).

So I had to seek out a picture.

It seems Malkin is a woman. She is of Asian descent.

This picture shows a Happy Michelle Maklin right after she has smeared the reputation of a dead child.

That's not really Michelle Malkin. It is an American flag.

But, people who visited my blog earlier saw a picture of Malkin as a nude pre-operative transgender person.

If you saw the earlier picture, you think she looks like that.

She doesn't.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Let The Smear Begin

by Dick Mac

Yellow journalism is a phrase my mother used to describe the Boston Record American newspaper. It was a Hearst daily that I sold along with the Boston Globe and the Herald-Traveller as a paper boy. It was sensationalist and divisive. It fabricated stories at the request of law enforcement, and when it didn't actually fabricate stories, it would handle existing stories in a manner most advantageous to the elected officials beholden to them.

When Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation replaced the Hearst dynasty, Hearst newspapers faded into the background.

News Corp. is much more efficient at running smear campaigns and spreading propaganda.

Whenever there is an incident the right-wing doesn't like, News Corp. is ready to roll into action.

Racism is a particularly irritating topic for the right-wing; and playing into the general population's racism makes for an easy outcome.

When Trayvon Martin was shot to death, in cold blood, facts about the shooter emerged. He's a wacko who likes to play cop and bully people. He has made hundreds of calls to 911 to report imaginary danger. He also hates "fucking coons." I am certain that in his mind, Trayvon Martin was a "fucking coon." In fact, I know he thought Trayvon Martin was a "fucking coon" because he was recorded saying it.

The right-wing media, those organizations that think it is perfectly A-OK to kill "fucking coons" has begun its smear campaign against the victim. They plan to make the shooter a hero, and Trayvon Martin just another dead "fucking coon."

The following is lifted directly from an article at Think Progress:
1. Prominent conservative websites published fake photos of Martin. Twitchy, a new website run by prominent conservative blogger Michelle Malkin, promoted a photo — purportedly from Martin’s Facebook page — that shows Martin in saggy pants and flipping the bird. The photo, which spread quickly on conservative websites and Twitter, is intended to paint Martin as a thug. As Twitchy later acknowledged, it is not a photo of Trayvon Martin. [Examiner]

2. The Sanford Police selectively leaked irrelevant, negative information about Martin. The authorities told the Orlando Sentinel this morning that Trayvon was suspended from school for ten days “after being found with an empty marijuana baggie.” There is no evidence that Martin was under the influence of drugs at the time of his death, nor would prior possession of marijuana be a reason for killing him. It’s unclear what the relevance of the leak was, other than to smear Martin. [Orlando Sentinel]

3. On Fox News, Geraldo said that Martin was dressed “like a wannabe gangster.” Bill O’Reilly agreed with him. The sole evidence is that Martin was wearing a hoodie. Geraldo added that “everyone that ever stuck up a convenience store” was wearing a hoodie. [ThinkProgress; The Blaze]

4. Without any evidence, prominent right-wing bloggers suggested that Martin was a drug dealer. Right-wing blogger Dan Riehl advances the theory, also advanced in a widely linked peice on a site called Wagist. There does not appear to be any evidence to support this claim whatsoever. [Riehl World View]

5. Without any evidence, a right-wing columnist alleged that Martin assaulted a bus driver. Unlike Zimmerman, Trayvon has no documented history of violence. This allegation continues to be advanced by a blogger on the Examiner even after the real reason was leaked to the police and confirmed by the family. [Miami Herald; Examiner]

6. Zimmerman’s friend says Martin was to blame because he was disrespectful to Zimmerman. Zimmerman’s friend Joe Oliver said that Martin would not have been shot to death if Trayvon had just said “I’m staying with my parents.” Of course, Zimmerman was not a police officer, and Trayvon had no duty to tell him who he was or where he was going. [NBC News]

See, Think Progress

The most popular spin has been the ludicrous remark by Geraldo Rivera that Martin wearing a hoodie played as much a role in his death as the shooter.

Really: now wearing a hoodie is representative of someone who should be shot dead?

No matter what the right-wing media has to say: whether it's a blogger or NBC News, there is one known fact. The shooter chased Trayvon Martin and shot him. This is not self-defense and this crime is not protected by the laws that allow citizens to shoot each other when endangered.

This is murder.

If my hoodie was white and my skin was brown, would I deserve to die?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Crime & Punishment

by Dick Mac

Two criminals were confronted after committing their crimes. Both were questioned by police and were deemed to be innocent of any crime.

Nominal investigative work was done on each case; and the perpetrator was deemed to be no more dangerous than any other citizen.

One criminal threw a bag of flour on Kim Kardashian.

I usually like people who are famous just for being famous. It's a phenomena that has always intrigued me. Kim Kardashian slipped under my radar for a long time because I don't watch reality television, and I guess she is the star of a reality television show.

I have since learned that her step-father is Bruce Jenner. That has nothing to do with anything, I suppose; but I found it interesting.

Well, as a reality television star, Kardashian is in great demand around the world. She is (allegedly) amazingly popular and people can't get enough of her. To this end, Kardashian decided to grace us with a new perfume (does it actually smell like her?).

As you do when releasing a new product, Kardashian held a very fancy press conference to announce and present her perfume to the world.

During the ceremony, a woman approached Kardashain from behind and dumped a bag of flour on her. Flour. White flour that you bake with. I assume this was all-purpose flour because it can be used in so many different ways.

Kardashian took the high road, laughed it off, even made a joke about it.

The reason for the attack is not clear to me. Some originally thought it was carried-out by, or on the behalf of, PETA. That animal protection charity has been hounding Kardashian to stop wearing fur. She seems to be pretty tacky, and only tacky people wear fur anymore. They claim they were not part of the attack. They probably wish they had been because it was a huge success.

Sadly, after sleeping (and presumably eating) on it, Kardashian has decided to press criminal charges against her attacker.

Probably a bad move. Her original response was rather sophisticated, and showed a real marketing sense. Now she just appears to be all belligerent and silly, and her awfulness just oozes through the story.

The woman will be prosecuted.

Trayvon Martin was a black criminal stalking a gated-community in Florida with a weapon. When he was confronted and told to stop, he ran. He was shot dead. According to the shooter, Martin was a "fucking coon."

The shooter called 911 before pursuing the criminal. He caught him, confronted him and shot him dead.

That's the story the shooter wants us to believe. That's the story the sheriff's department and all the cops want you to believe.

The real story is that Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old black kid who had never been in trouble with the law. He was walking home from the store carrying a bag of Skittles and an iced tea. Some big goon started yelling at him, and being a black man in the South he knew to get the hell out of there as quickly as he could.

The police arrived to find the boy dead, and the shooter awaiting accolades for his successful pursuit of a criminal and his efforts to keep his community safe from more 'fucking coons.'

The story began to unfold over the past month, and it seems that none of the shooter's tale is true. Except that he shot Martin dead.

It has cone to light that while on the phone with 911, he was told that the police did not need him to pursue his target. He interpreted that as an order to chase-down the kid and shoot him in cold blood. The cops who arrived at the scene apparently agreed with the shooter, because they allowed him to leave with his gun, the most important piece of physical evidence, besides the dead body. The police barely questioned him and have still done nothing. This case has not been pursued as a crime.

When a cop shoots somebody - rightly or wrongly - his weapon is taken from him, he is generally put on leave, and the investigation is thorough.

This guy shoots an unarmed 17-year-old high school student and just walks away.

There is something totally fucked up about this.

Yesterday I saw this tweet by the actor Will Smith: "WE live in America where a girl that threw flour on Kim Kardashian was arrested on site. But the man who KILLED Trayvon Martin is still free."

It's hard to make it any clearer than that.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Not Fade Away - Music Videos

by Dick Mac

Buddy Holly, The Rolling Stones, Simon & Garfunkel, The Byrds, Jack White, Rush, Stevie Nicks, The Grateful Dead . . . the list goes on.

Buddy Holly's 1957 B-Side has become a rock 'n roll staple.

I can't hear it enough.

I love every version.

Well, I've never actually listened to the Grateful Dead version and do not include it here. Sorry, there's only so far down the food chain I can go before my allergies kick-in.

Not Fade Away (song), at

Tons of Pictures at the Mirror site: Not Fade Away: 50 years of the Rolling Stones in 50 fascinating photographs

Not Fade Away: 50 years of the Rolling Stones in 50 fascinating photographs

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How About A Zygote Tax?

by Dick Mac

Colorado House Bill HB12-1130 changes that state's criminal code.

Colorado does not publish their laws online for the citizenry to examine, an interested party must pay Lexis/Nexis a fee for access, or send a written request to the Colorado government and pay them a fee. So, I do not have access to C.R.S., §18-1.2, the statute that is changed by this bill.

They do publish bills in the current session and HB12-1130 is one of them.

HB-12-1130 is the "First Degree Homicide Of The Unborn Child Bill" which mandates arrest and prosecution for terminating a pregnancy (a woman) or assisting a woman terminating a pregnancy (a doctor).

HB12-1130 changes section 18-1 by adding this 18-1-506:


The bill explains the law:
The bill creates a new article for offenses against pregnant women and their unborn children. The new offenses are unlawful termination of a pregnancy in the first degree, unlawful termination of a pregnancy in the second degree, unlawful termination of a pregnancy in the third degree, unlawful termination of a pregnancy in the fourth degree, vehicular unlawful termination of a pregnancy, and aggravated vehicular unlawful termination of a pregnancy. The bill excludes from prosecution medical care for which the mother provided consent.

The penalty for criminal abortion in which the woman does not die is increased from a class 4 felony to a class 3 felony.

The bill makes conforming amendments.

This means that if a woman has an abortion, she and her attending physician are guilty of 3rd Degree Homicide.

Holy crap!

This bill passed the Colorado House!

Holy crap!

Colorado State Representative Daniel Kagan (D) issued a statement hat says, in part:
...we were unable to prevent the Republican majority in the House from passing on second reading the First Degree Homicide of the Unborn Child bill. Under some circumstances, it makes both termination of pregnancy and the use of the morning after pill a homicide. It also confers personhood on a newly fertilized egg.
See, Breaking: "First Degree Homicide Of The Unborn Child Bill" Passes CO House On Second Reading

What defines personhood in America? If you an adult your legal personhood is proven by a social security number. If you do not have a social security number, then you need to have a green card. If you have neither, then you are not a legal person in the United States.

Does this Colorado law now mean that a fetus, or a zygote, will be issued a social security number? If it doesn't have a social security number, then it is not a person in the eyes of the government, so how can a zygote be protected by the laws of the government?

Or is it really that for "conservatives" those personhood requirements are only used against brown-skinned people from other countries. Zygotes are OK. Especially white zygotes.

What will the tax rate be on a zygote? I say 18% is fair. So, let's say that a living child uses one-third of its parents income. We now divide the family gross income by 3 and tax that amount at 18% and the zygote has personhood. The family will still have to pay their taxes on their entire income, including that one-third. Unless their really rich, then they don't have to pay any taxes. A family earning $50,000 will pay nine hundred dollars for their zygote, whether it lives or dies. And if it dies, you better hire a lawyer because you can be indicted for killing a person.

I know there are apologists for "conservatives" and "conservatives" themselves who will say that this is not part of a Republican War On Women, that Democrats are just as responsible for laws like this.

That is simply not true.

This IS a war against women, a war against all the progress women have made the past one hundred years. This war is not a war by the Democrats, in any way, shape or form.

This so-called "conservatism" preached by Republicans is NOT conservatism. Today's Republicans are completely opposed to personal freedom. They want to dictate the sex of your partner, the legal treatment you receive because of the color of your skin, they want to mandate how, when, why and where a woman will or can make a decision about her reproductive health.

Everyone who votes Republican supports this War on Women. If you do not support this War On Women, then you must vote against the Republicans.

You can't say: I voted Republican and I support the rights of women, because Republicans do not believe in the personal freedom of women.

Also, if you've voted Republican in the last thirty years, you are culpable and responsible for the financial, political, cultural, and medical mess our country is in today. Sure, go ahead and try to point out how this is the fault of the Democrats. Your arguments will be all lies and untruths.

Any Republican who does not stand-up and be heard speaking-out against this bill in Colorado, and the War On Women, in general, is complicit and responsible for laws like this being enacted.

Show your stuff Republicans: Do you believe in personal freedom? Do you believe a doctor and woman should be incarcerated for an abortion? Speak up. Tell the world you oppose this bill and the War On Women. Or, have the courage of your convictions and admit you support laws like this.

If you fail to do so, you are part of the problem.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I Know You Are But What Am I

by Dick Mac

I think the joke was funny, and it was racial in substance, but I don't think it was racist because it wasn't told by a racist.

The difference between DeNiro making a black joke and New Gingrich, Rick Santorum, or one of their supporters making a black joke is that "conservatives" by and large - and VERY by and VERY large - are racists. They are homophobes. They are misogynists.

When "conservatives" tell a joke it is intended to inflict harm upon and deride the object of the joke. Progressives say funny things about race, sex, and sexuality, that are sincerely funny, and are not even remotely divisive or insulting (except to those who want to capitalize on the fears of stupid white people: "conservatives").

It's really not rocket science. In some circles "conservatives" promote and brag about their racism, in others they deflect criticism by saying that Democrats are racist.

It's the same old "conservative" strategy that works well with stupid, naive, fearful white people. They use the I know you are but what am I argument. Like bullies in the school yard, there isn't a single "conservative" politician capable of developing a position on race and class that isn't totally offensive to anyone who embraces the notion of progress and freedom. They are like children trying to have a conversation with grown-ups about intimacy.

"Conservatives" want to repeal the Civil Rights Act, they want to eliminate all programs for the needy, they want to cut the taxes of the most privileged while raising the taxes of the working poor, they want to eliminate all funding for women's reproductive health care services, and they want to ban gay marriage. Yet, they've convinced stupid people that they are not racist, misogynist or homophobic.

This is their plan, and they are completely up-front about it.

Racists will vote Republican because they are afraid of blacks and the "conservatives" campaigns on their fear of black people, homophobes who will vote for them because they cannot handle their own innately fluid sexuality, and people in debt to their eyeballs will vote for them because conservatives have convinced them that the bad economy is the fault of the poor. (How the poor control the economy is beyond me).

But back to DeNiro. You see, his racial joke is funny because he isn't a racist and he doesn't hide behind the mantle of political correctness. It's hilarious to say that America isn't ready for a white first lady. It's absurd and wonderful.

People who are real racists ("conservatives") have jumped on this remark to deflect attention away from their own racism. It's the same old bully tactic: "I know you are but what am I."

Sadly, it works with most stupid white people (that is "conservatives").

Blame the poor for the economy they don't control.

Blame the progressives for the racism you promote.

Blame taxing the rich for the deficit you pretend to oppose.

And yes, almost every "conservative" I know is a racist who will insist they are not a racist.

I think it's hilarious to say that America isn't ready for a white first lady, and I think the racists in America have seized the remark to camouflage their own racism.

Awww . . . Newt Gingrich was offended? Puh-lease!

Photographs used without permission.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Does This Tutu Make My Ass Look Fat?

by Dick Mac

Before he moved to New York City, photographer Bob Carey donated one of his pictures to a fund raiser to support the battle against breast cancer. The photograph was very funny: it was a self-portrait of him dressed in a pink tutu; and the Tutu Project was born.

Six months after his arrival on the East Coast, his wife, Linda, was herself diagnosed with breast cancer. Along the road of their life with cancer, the Tutu Project has brought them laughter, a medicine I hear is very helpful for cancer patients and survivors.

The tutu project became such an integral part of Carey's career that a book is being published this Autumn, with all the proceeds going to and the wonderful Beth Israel Department of Integrative Medicine.

In conjunction with publication of the book, ten prints each of 24 different photographs are being sold. Purchase of one print also gets you a copy of the book.

Today, the picture I've used in this article is my favorite.

You can see all 24 images, and participate in the fund raiser by buying a print, a t-shirt, or a copy of the book, by visiting The Tutu Project.

Monday, March 19, 2012

No Maggots In This Apple

by Dick Mac

Apple's chiefs, Tim Cook and Peter Oppenheimer, have called a meeting for 9:00 A.M. today to discuss plans for their hundred-billion dollar cash reserves.

Apple does not pay its shareholders a dividend, so it does not distribute its earnings to its owners.

It is common for a company to retain and reinvest its income at the beginning of its life, and as we all learned in the 1990s, not very many technology companies will be profitable in the long-term.

Apple was founded in 1976 - it is almost exactly 36 years old. It has issued stock at different times in those thirty-six years. The last dividend it paid was one-and-a-half cents ($.015) per share in 1995. So, if you had a thousand shares you got fifteen dollars, and the company has issued a 2:1 split twice since then (so if you owned a hundred shares you now had 200 shares after the first split and four hundred shares after the second. Apple stock closed Friday at $585.57. In the last year has been as low as $310.50, and as high as $600.01. It has risen about 20% in the past month! These are amazing numbers.

Today, on a per share basis, Apple is holding reserves equal to approximately $104 per share, an absolutely remarkable amount of money. It is about ninety-eight billion dollars. Extra. In the bank. Like when you open your bank statement and see the Ending Balance. $98,000,000,000.

I have never known why Apple fails to pay its shareholders a dividend, but neither have I researched it.

I have always criticized Apple's failure to pay its shareholders a dividend, especially over the past few years when their reserves expanded so much.

At today's conference, Cook and Oppenheimer may very well announce establishment of a regular dividend. One analyst estimates that the company could easily pay out $14 per share annually. That is a pretty penny, as my mother used to say. In my experience, a company that pays two dollars per share annually is a good holding. Others may disagree, and I am in no way, shape or form an expert in the stock market, nor am I qualified to give advise about trading. I just know what I've seen and what I've researched and what I have traded myself.

Even if you have no stake in the stock market, even if you have no understanding of the stock market, anybody who follows Apple's trading price today is likely to see a remarkable amount of activity, numbers that reflect billions (possibly more than a hundred billion) of dollars.

Most of the common news sites and media sites have a Finance section with live updates of market prices and activity. Check in every now and then today and see what happens.

The stock traded at 585.57 Friday. How high will it get today, and how long will it retain that value, and how will this announcement affect the market as a whole? It is already trading at $604 in pre-market activity.

I have no idea what will happen, of course; but, I suspect it is going to be a very good day for the market.

See AAPL at Google, Yahoo, or Wall Street Journal.

Apple to decide on its $98 billion cash pile

Apple to announce decision on use of cash reserves

I do not own Apple stock.

I leave you with this musical interlude:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Things We Say To A Child

by Dick Mac

I bring to my child-rearing skills all the love and fear and mania and phobia and talent and success that I have accumulated over the years and that I received during my child-rearing.

I have always been insecure about my child-rearing skills. I've only had one child, and I started late in life. In some ways I think it was wise (even if I didn't know it) to become a parent in my forties, because . . . well. . . if you knew me in my 20s and 30s, you'd understand.

Being insecure about parenting has made me learn to slow down when speaking and reacting to situations. It's easy to frighten a child, even when unintended.

Some of my child-rearing skills come from my own childhood, the skills I learned from my parents. Like all parents, they were successful in some areas and less successful in other areas. After all, since I've lived deep into my adult years, it is hard to say they failed!

Parenting is different now. It's rare to see a parent strike a child, There has been a decrease in the use of corporal punishment by most American parents. In the 1960s, it was commonplace to see a child disciplined with violence. I have mixed feelings about it all. I do not hit my child; but, I know people who do. And when I say "I know people who hit their child" I am referring to a slap or a spanking, not battering. As far as I know, none of the children in my social circle are battered children.

Choosing a non-violent approach to child-rearing does not mean that a child does not live in fear. The words and tone of voice I use have upset my child in the past as much as (more than?) a slap might have. Language is powerful.

Saying "I love you," to a person is a powerful statement and the person notices it. Children learn what that means. Saying "I hate you," is also a powerful statement, and children know what that means, too.

Of course it is more complicated than that. I can behave in a hateful manner when I am angry or disappointed, and the way I handle that anger or disappointment is a part of my child-rearing. When my child sees and hears me scream at a bad driver, I am teaching her a lesson about handling frustration and anger. Sadly, the lesson I am teaching her is that it is OK to lash-out in anger at strangers.

This is not a good lesson, and not a lesson I intend.

I have a potty-mouth behind the wheel of a car. My parents did, too.

I eventually learned a less negative way of venting about bad drivers. It's especially useful when the bad driver is navigating an expensive car. I say, in an almost cheerful voice: "High-performance car Low-performance driver."

After a few dozen times of saying this, my daughter asked me to explain a high-performance car. I remember that that I did a good job with it. I don't recall what I said, but I'm sure my tone became officious and deliberate and I carefully chose words that a 4-year-old would understand. She got it and we moved on to a new conversation.

The next time we were in traffic and I said "High-performance car . . . " she piped-up and said, in that adorable little-girl voice: "Low-performance driver."

I could have peed myself right then and there. We had a good laugh about it, and it is now part of our repertoire or repartee.

I thought about this stuff yesterday when I saw an article about the hashtag #ToMyUnbornChild. On March 12, 2012, the topic trended very high on Twitter as people made short statements about the things we would tell our unborn child, if we could.

The Tweets have included the exciting and naive things we might think and/or say as expectant parents:

You'll have everything I didn't, that's a guarantee.

you will grow up with two amazing dads, and will be instilled to love everybody, and to respect the rights of all.

ima always listen to you and understand your point of view before I judge and give my opinion.

no matter what gender you are, your going to be a soccer player.

I will never abandon you.

But, those are not the quotes this article discusses.

The person or group who comprise the account @Homophobes on Twitter are committed to exposing homophobia. Their article was about dreadfully homophobic remarks some people made with the hashtag #ToMyUnbornChild.

"100 Real Tweets from Homophobes Who Would Murder Their Gay Child" includes quotes that made my skin crawl and my stomach turn. I became so anxious while reading the list of tweets that I could not finish the article.

It bothers me that there is such hatred and fear in the world that someone would actually plan to kill their own child. I just can't imagine a life without unquestionable love for my child, and certainly cannot fathom the notion that someone would actually plan, to decide ahead of time, to kill their own child.

See, 100 Real Tweets from Homophobes Who Would Murder Their Gay Child

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New York City Songs

by Dick Mac

At my old website I had lists of favorite songs and albums. One list was my top ten favorite songs about New York City. I don't remember the order, but the standard fare was listed: "Shattered" and "Boy From New York City" and "Slow Boat To New York" and "Manhattan"; all the songs that we know about New York City.

Currently, my favorite song about New York City is "Empire State of Mind, Pt. II: Broken Down," by Alicia Keys. Since Liza Minelli's very famous "New York, New York," there has been no other song that captures the soul and sensibility of Manhattan.

The older song was written by John Kander and Fred Ebb for the movie of the same name. It was also recorded by Frank Sinatra and that version is played at the end of sporting events in New York City.

The lyric "If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere. It's up to you, New York, New York" is now quintessentially New York. It seemed that no song would ever capture the sentiment and sensibility of New York City the way the Minelli/Sinatra song has.

Today's New York City is a different New York City than that of the 1930s or the 1980s; and scores (hundreds?) of songs have been written about it since.

At the end of Red Bull New York matches, the Alicia Keys song is played.

In it she uses the same line as an homage, not a rip-off: "They say if I can make it here I can make it anywhere." Then she offers lyrics that capture the sense and sensibility of today's Manhattan:

"Sirens all around and the streets are mean."

"I've got a pocketful of dreams, baby, I'm from New York."

"These streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire you."

I know the version of "Empire State of Mind" that is most popular is the mash-up with Jay-Z; but, it fails to impress me as much as the Keys version alone. I like Jay-Z and think he deserves the success he enjoys. He became the keeper of the gate for urban music, for rap music, and I expected him to take it to new places. He hasn't. His work is brilliant and inspiring, and I will always buy his records; but, he has not taken the genre to new heights, he has conquered it and sits atop it on a hard-earned throne.

His version includes some perfect New York lines, too. Notably: "Shit, I made the Yankee cap more famous than a Yankee can." His version also pays homage to other New York City boroughs and many of its other stars, including (impressively) Afrika Bambaataa.

Together Keys and Jay-Z have redefined New York in song. If you don't have them, I recommend both Keys' "Elements of Freedom" and Jay-z's "The Blueprint 3."

Here is the original "New York, New York" from the movie:

TimeOut magazine recently released their Top 100 songs about New York City. Is your favorite listed?

100 best NYC songs

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bad Behavior Is Sometimes Punished

by Dick Mac

Rev. Marcel Guarnizo, the Gaithersburg, Maryland, Catholic priest who denied Communion to a lesbian woman at her mother's funeral, has been "barred from ministry."

In a letter dated March 9, 2012, Bishop Barry Knestout, an Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., which the Maryland suburbs, concluded that Guarnizo engaged in "intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others that is incompatible with proper priestly ministry."

It is news to me that "intimidation" is improper in the Catholic hierarchy. I thought there were two thousand years of the Church using intimidation to run their business. I guess times have changed.

That aside, it is impressive that the Catholic hierarchy would respond so publicly to political pressure in the media.

The Diocese was quick to equivocate, of course, and published an op-ed in the Washington Post that actually supports the notion that it is OK for a priest to deny Communion to a homosexual.

In their insulting equivocation, the diocese expects us to accept:
a person should be in the state of grace, which means that they are not conscious of having committed a sin serious enough that it ruptures their relationship with God.

See, Barbara Johnson and the importance of Communion: A statement from the Washington Archdiocese
This is ludicrous!

When I watch hundreds of Catholics from my diocese in Brooklyn line-up for Communion, I know that the state of grace in which they live varies dramatically from person to person. I also know that the majority of them have no idea what it means to be in a state of grace; and that perhaps even more of them are completely "conscious of having committed a sin serious enough that it ruptures their relationship with God." They may have confessed that sin and received absolution, but one only need visit a Catholic church on Saturday afternoon, when confessions are being heard, to know that a very tiny percentage of the people in line for Communion have seen the inside of a confessional recently.

No, the Diocese of Washington does not want to deny Communion to heterosexuals who are not in a state of grace, and would never dare to presume that one is a sinner. No, the Diocese of Washington is making it clear that they can deny Communion to homosexuals, as long as they don't behave in an "intimidating" manner.

I applaud the Church for suspending Guarnizo, but I believe they have done themselves, and all Catholics, a disservice by trying to frame the incident in the context of all homosexuals being sinners.

And the concluding statement: "The Second Vatican Council proclaimed that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. As such it is a sign of unity, but it must be a unity that is based on authentic Church teaching and mutual respect in charity."

The use of the word "unity" seems to mean the exact opposite in this article. The Church's inability to see past their own homophobia is embarrassing. Even when the Church wants to make an inclusive statement about the rights of all Catholics, they can't get past their fear of sex and homosexuals.

This is a sad state of affairs.

Again, I applaud the Diocese for removing the offending priest from public ministry; but I am disheartened (again) by the Church's equivocation in the matter of homosexuality.

Bad Behavior At A Catholic Funeral

Gay Catholic Leaders Applaud Priest's Removal from Ministry, Repeat Calls for Dialogue with Church Leaders

Gaithersburg Catholic priest placed on leave for 'intimidating behavior'

Priest Who Denied Lesbian Communion Suspended

Monday, March 12, 2012

Reproductive Fights

by Dick Mac

Sen. Nina Turner, of Ohio, wants to regulate access to reproductive health care.

We've been seeing a lot of this lately: laws that require the emotional torture of a woman who needs to terminate a pregnancy, a drug-addict radio personality proclaiming that a woman who wants reproductive medicine covered by her insurance is a slut, inane drivel about the sanctity of life, and so forth.

Limiting access to reproductive health care is just the next in a long line of insane ideas the Republican party wants to foist upon us.

It's not bad enough that they want to tell homosexual men how to live their lives and pursue happiness, now they want to control how their daughters and sisters live.

On March 8, 2011, I posted a message on Facebook suggesting " . . . we should pass a law that requires Republican men to have a rectal exam, an ultrasound of his urethra, and a blood gas test, in order to receive a prescription for Viagra. That's sensible, right? It certainly resembles the absurd hoops Republicans want women to jump though for their reproductive treatments."

I was pleasantly surprised on March 10, when it was reported that Senator Turner had introduced legislation in Ohio that suggested a similar plan! See, Bill introduced to regulate men's reproductive health

Senate Bill 307 would require a man seeking access to drugs for erectile-dysfunction to see a sex therapist, have a cardiac stress test, and provide a notarized affidavit signed by a sex partner affirming impotency. Then, in order to continue receiving the prescription, he would have to be tested regularly for heart problems, accept regular counseling about the side effects of the drugs, and learn about about choosing celibacy to avoid the need for expensive medications.

In researching the Ohio bill, I learned it is similar to bills introduced by Democrats in Virginia, Georgia, and Missouri.

In Missouri, a vasectomy would only be allowed to protect a man from serious injury or death; and in Georgia, a similar vasectomy regulation has been introduced.

A Virginia lawmaker put forward an amendment to that state's "abortion ultrasound" bill requiring doctors to perform a rectal exam and stress test before prescribing erectile-dysfunction drugs.

Every Democrat in every state should be spending hours and days, and making more effort to put forth bills and amendments like these.

Since Republicans have declared war on the rights of women, it is the job of Democrats to come to their aid.

See, also:

Viagra Pills Would Need Sex Therapist's Approval in Ohio Bill

Female Lawmakers Introducing Bills Against Vasectomies, Viagra

Friday, March 09, 2012

New York Dolls on Rock Concert - Video

by Dick Mac

In 1972, Don Kirshner's Rock Concert began airing on ABC-TV. It was on late every Friday night, and since this was the era of my introduction to recreational drug use, I was often looking for something to do late at night if I was in the house.

Rock Concert was a godsend! Each week the lineup included yet another remarkable choice of performers. And it wasn't like Hullabaloo or Action or American Bandstand. Rock Concert aired actual live performances by the world's most-popular artists.

A few years later I stopped watching television, but Don Kirshner decided to continue airing the series until 1981. Without me.

I remember watching this New York Dolls concert, but I thought they had performed "Great Big Kiss," the Shangri-Las song that was so often on their set list. Assuming (and I do) that this is the entire set, then they did not perform "Great Big Kiss" on this show. There are three covers in the show: "Stranded In The Jungle" (originally released by The Jayhawks in 1955, and also covered by the cadets in 1956), "Showdown" (originally by Archie Bell & The Drells in 1969), and Sonny Boy Williamson's "Don't You Start Me Talking" (also from 1955).

The other three songs were Dolls' originals: "Chatterbox" from their newly released "In Too Much Too Soon" album, and "Trash," along with the only song of theirs to ever resemble a hit: "Personality Crisis" from their self-titled debut album.

Their entire set is now on the web, for your viewing enjoyment; and there is going to be a box set of the television series.

I found this alphabetical list of performers who appeared on the show at the Don Kirshner site:

Adam & The Ants
Peter Allen
Allman Brothers Band
Mark Almond
Amazing Rhythm Aces
Angel City
Adam Ant
Joan Armatrading
Ashford & Simpson
Atlanta Rhythm Section
Average White Band (w/ Ben E. King)
Hoyt Axton
The Babys (w/ John Waite)
Bad Company
The Bar Kays
The Bay City Rollers
Be-Bop Deluxe
Pat Benatar
George Benson
Chuck Berry (w/ Dau Ingrid)
Frankie Beverly & Maze
Elvin Bishop Group
Stephen Bishop
Black Oak Arkansas
Black Sabbath
Blue Oyster Cult
Blue Suede
Debbie Boone
David Bowie
Boyce and Hart
Brass Construction
Alicia Bridges
Brooklyn Dreams
The Brothers Johnson
Jackson Browne
Brownsville Station
BT Express
Roy Buchanan
Lindsey Buckingham
Cindy Bullens
Eric Burdon
Billy Burnette
Rocky Burnette
Kate Bush
Glen Campbell
Captain & The Tennille
Irene Cara
Kim Carnes
The Cars
Shaun Cassidy
Felix Cavaliere
The Chambers Brothers
Harry, Steve, & Tom Chapin
The Charlie Daniels Band
Cheap Trick
City Boy
Jimmy Cliff
Linda Clifford
Climax Blues Band
Coke & Vida
Natalie Cole
Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen
The Commodores
Con Funk Shun
Alice Cooper
Chick Corea & Return To Forever
Elvis Costello
Randy Crawford
Jim Croce
Dash Crofts
Cross Country Band
Crown Heights Affair
Pablo Cruise
The Crusaders (w/ Randy Crawford/ Robert Guillaume)
Burton Cummings
Roger Daltrey
Sarah Dash
David & Allen Frizzell
David Frizzell & Shelly West
Rick Derringer
Desmond Child and Rouge
Dirt Band (aka Nitty Gritty Dirt Band)
Dixie Dregs
Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart
The Doobie Brothers
The Doors
Carol Douglas
Dr. Hook
Dr. John
The Dudek-Finnigan-Krueger Band
The Eagles (w/ Jackson Brown & Linda Ronstadt)
Earth, Wind and Fire
Electric Flag
Electric Light Orchestra
Yvonne Elliman
England Dan & John Ford Coley
David Essex
Fania All Stars
Bryan Ferry
Fleetwood Mac
The Floaters
The Flying Burrito Brothers
Foghat (w/ Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter, Eddie Kirkland, John Lee Hooker)
Steve Forbert
Frankie Valli
Fresh Flavor with Richie Havens
Rory Gallagher
Gloria Gaynor Revue (Big Al)
Gentle Giant
Andy Gibb
Nick Gilder
Roger Glover
Andrew Gold
Golden Earring
Dale Gonyea
Robert Gordon (w/ Link Wray)
Graham Central Station
Larry Graham
The Grateful Dead
Dobie Gray
Rob Grill
The Group With No Name
Jay Gruska
The Guess Who
Jo Jo Gunne
Hall & Oates
Herbie Hancock
EmmyLou Harris w/ Rodney Crowell & James Burton
John Hartford
Dan & Lisa Hartman
Dan Hill
Hot Tuna
Steve Howe (from Yes)
The Hudson Brothers
The Hues Corporation
Ian Hunter
Janis Ian
The Impressions
The Isley Brothers
Michael Jackson
Millie Jackson
The Jacksons
The James Gang
Rick James & The Stone City Band
Jan & Dean
Waylon Jennings
Jethro Tull
The Jimmy Castor Bunch
Joe Walsh, Don Felder, Glen Frey, Don Henley
Billy Joel
David Johansen
Elton John (w/ KiKi Dee)
Davy Jones
Judas Priest
KC & The Sunshine Band
Eddie Kendricks
Doug Kershaw & Slidin’ Jake
Greg Kihn
Evelyn “Champagne” King
Robert Klein
John Klemmer
Gladys Knight & The Pips
Kool & The Gang (w/ J.T.Taylor)
Leo Kottke
LA Jets
Patti LaBelle
Cheryl Ladd
Nicolette Larson
Le Roux
Led Zeppelin
Ramsey Lewis
Huey Lewis & The News
Little River Band
Loggins and Messina
Lovich, Lene
Bryon MacGregor
Mahavishnu Orchestra
Melissa Manchester
Chuck Mangione Quartet & (w/ His Big Band)
The Manhattans
Barry Manilow
Barry Mann
Herbie Mann
Manfred Mann
Bob Marley & The Wailers
Marshall Tucker Band
Ricci Martin
Dave Mason
Curtis Mayfield
C W McCall
Paul McCartney & Wings
Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr
John McEuen (w/ Al Garth)
Maureen McGovern
Roger McGuinn
Meat Loaf
John (Cougar) Mellencamp
Sergio Mendes & The New Brazil 77
Michael Stanley’s Super Session
Buddy Miles & The Earth Rockers
Steve Miller Band
Stephanie Mills
Molly Hatchet
Moody Blues
Dorothy Moore
Van Morrison
Mother’s Finest
Mott The Hoople
Maria Muldaur
Michael Martin Murphey
Walter Murphy
Johnny Nash
Natural Four
Natural Gas
Rick Nelson
New Birth
New England
New Riders Of The Purple Sage
Randy Newman
Olivia Newton-John & John Travolta
Maxine Nightingale
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band & Vassar Clements
Gary Numan
The O’Jays
Oak Ridge Boys
The Ohio Players
Mike Oldfield
Tony Orlando
The Outlaws
Ozark Mountain Daredevils
Robert Palmer
Graham Parker
The Alan Parsons Project
Peaches & Herb
Al Alan Peterson
Tom Petty & Heartbreakers
Pink Floyd
Bonnie Pointer
The Police
Jean-Luc Ponty
Billy Preston (w/ Syreeta Preston)
The Pretenders
Alan Price
Pure Prairie League (w/ Vince Gill)
Ram Jam
The Ramones
Rare Earth
The Raspberries
Larry Raspberry
Lou Rawls
Chris Rea
Lou Reed
Martha Reeves
REO Speedwagon
Johnny Rivers
Smokey Robinson
Vicki Sue Robinson
Johnny Rodriguez
D.J. Rogers
The Rolling Stones
Linda Ronstadt (w/ The Nitty Gritty Dirt)
Rose Royce
Roxy Music
Rufus with Chaka Khan
Todd Rundgren
Carol Bayer Sager
Esther Satterfield & Chuck Mangione
Leo Sayer
Jim Seals (w/ brothers Eddie, England Dan)
Jim Seals&Crofts, Glen Campbell, Doug Kershaw
John Sebastian
The Sex Pistols
Sha Na Na
Silver Convention
Carly Simon
Sly & The Family Stone
Phoebe Snow
Tom Snow
Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes
Spanky and Our Gang
The Specials
Jimmie Spheeris
The Spinners
Split Enz
Bruce Springsteen
Chris Squire (from Yes)
Jim Stafford
The Staple Singers
Ruby Starr & Grey Ghost
Candi Staton
Span Steeleye
Rod Stewart
Stormin’ Norman And Suzy
The Stylistics
Donna Summer
The Sylvers
T. Rex
A Taste Of Honey
Livingston Taylor
Bram Tchaikovsky
Ted Nugent
The Temptations
Thin Lizzy
Third World
Three Untouchables
Tower Of Power
Pete Townsend
The Trammps
John Travolta
The Tremblers (w/Peter Noone)
Tanya Tucker
Ike Turner & Tina Revue
Dwight Twilley
The Undisputed Truth
Uriah Heep
Frankie Valli
Van Halen
Van McCoy
Gino Vanelli
Village Idiots (Sketch Comedy Troupe)
The Village People
Joe Walsh
Grover Washington Jr.
Weather Report
Tim Weisberg
Bob Welch
Leslie West
Tommy West and Terry Cashman
Wet Willie Band
Wild Cherry
Lenny Williams
Al Wilson
Joey Wilson
Edgar Winter
Johnny Winter
Wishbone Ash
Roy Wood & Wizzard
Link Wray
Betty Wright
Gary Wright
Bill Wyman
Atley Yeager
Jesse Colin Young

Thursday, March 08, 2012

5-0, 7-1, 10-2

by Dick Mac

As most soccer (football) detractors will tell you, soccer is boring because so few goals are scored. It is hard to argue that point. If my interest is in seeing points scored, then soccer is not the sport for me. I could follow a much more engaging sport, where the criminals . . . er, I mean the players, score lots of points and cheat and act like bigger asses than all soccer players combined: I could watch the NBA.

I was a detractor because I had never been to a top-flight soccer match. I had seen the Boston Beacons play in the late 1960s, and I had attempted to watch matches on television; and it just wasn't engaging for me. I hated soccer and loved the Boston Celtics. I used to say: "Soccer is so boring that you have to stab your neighbor for excitement." Hearty American guffaws all around, because we all know that soccer fans are hooligans, and may actually be worse criminals than NBA players (although that is unlikely).

It was in the Autumn of 2000, when we were living in London, that my wife's colleague insisted I attend a soccer match at Highbury, in North London. I clicked my tongue and sighed: "Soccer?!?!?!?"

He insisted that we attend, he had tickets for four of us, and he promised that I would have a good time.

I was a stranger in a strange land, with a group of friends that could be counted on one hand, and one of them was offering to spend a couple hundred quid on tickets to entertain me. So, I went.

Our seats were very good, and I settled in to the old stadium to watch Arsenal host Manchester City. The stadium was old, it was small and cramped like Fenway Park, in Boston (where I had watched the Boston Beacons).

The first thing I noticed was a very tall black man in the middle of the field who reminded me of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, not because of his looks, but because he wasn't running up and down the field with his teammates. He seemed to always be lagging behind, only becoming engaged when it was opportune for him. He was proving the point that soccer was boring, that nothing happens.

A goal was scored, but I didn't really see it because I was not really paying close attention. I was fixated on this guy wearing #4, who my program explained was midfielder Patrick Viera, a Frechnman born in Senegal. I began to notice that every time he touched the ball (with his feet, of course) he passed it directly on to the foot of a teammate who was 3 feet or 30 feet away. I noticed that when he got the ball, no opponent could get it from him, that he deftly dribbled the ball in the midfield. No, he did not run up and down the field, out-pacing opponents and rushing toward the goal. He was a general, overlooking the battle, moving the action in his team's favor.

Unfortunately, there was no scoring.

The most interesting thing that caught my attention was a section of fans dressed in light blue shirts, the visiting fans, singing Blue Moon. Thousands of voices, singing Blue Moon. I had no idea what that was all about, but it was friggin' impressive.

It was almost half-time before defender Ashley Cole put a ball in the net to great cheers, and the teams wnet into the break with Arsenal leading 1-0.

Except for Patrick Viera's talent and the visiting fans singing Blue Moon, I was afraid that soccer was living-up to its reputation in my mind as a low-scoring, boring sport.

During half-time, we made our way down to the concession stands. I had coffee and some kind of pie, the others had beer and something to eat. Our host was very excited by the match and asked how I was liking it. Not wanting to be as big a bore as I can be, I said it was great, that the atmosphere was amazing.

"What do you think of Ohnree?" He asked.

"Who is that?"

"He's the striker for Arsenal wearing number fourteen. You should really watch him, he's amazing."

"I've been watching number four."

"Ahh, Patrick Viera! He might be the best midfielder in English soccer right now."

Whatever that meant! Whooppee! You're the best at being boring, I thought.

We went back to our seats for the second half and the match was a little more engaging. I looked for Ohnree. Oddly, #14 was a guy named Henry. He was French (another Frenchman), and it was pronounced with a "french" accent: nasal passages closed and the "on" coming from the back of the throat.

I watched him, but my attention continued to go to Viera. He was now an amazing athlete in my eyes. He was remarkably agile, fast, and accurate. His opponents were seemingly baffled by his every move.

The Denis Bergkamp, A Dutchman, scored pretty early in the second half. 2-0 Arsenal. The score was already double what I expected.

My attention went between Viera and Henry. I began to notice that there were always two defenders on Henry, and he more often than not got away from them with the ball seemingly attache4d to his foot, or collecting an amazingly accurate pass from Viera.

I hardly noticed the passage of time when Sylvan Wiltord (yet another Frenchman) scored to make it 3-0. I then looked to see if the first goal-scorer, Ashley Cole, was also French, but he is English.

The game seemed to get faster as time went on. I had expected the pace to slow as the match moved into its final fifteen minutes, but that was hardly the case.

Henry seemed to be running faster, busting through more defenders than before, collecting even more accurate passes from Viera. I was starting to like this Henry guy. Then he scored. The place erupted. Erupted with cheers. It was as if 30-odd thousand spectators had been waiting for Thierry Henry to score a goal. When he delivered the set shot from outside the box, it flew right past the goalkeeper into the net. The shot was a thing of beauty. I had never seen anyone kick a ball like that, making it curve and twist and bend as it raced through the air. It appeared that the Manchester City goalkeeper had never seen it either.

What seemed like moments later, Henry scored again! The score was now 5-0! The crowd was raucous, and I was sold.

I left Highbury filled with a new-found respect for soccer. I bought an Arsenal pin from a street vendor, and began following the team in the papers and on the Internet. I now had a favorite athlete: Thierry Henry.

A team scoring five goals in one match was not my idea of a soccer match, and come to find out, it is out-of-the-ordinary. My wife and I joke that she almost always guess the final score of a match, because it is usually 2-1.

When we moved back to New York, I learned that there was a professional soccer league here in America: Major League Soccer. I had no idea. My local team, the MetroStars, played at Giants Stadium. I bought season tickets and began establishing my access to English soccer with pay-per-view and internet subscriptions.

I started following the Italian Serie A and the Spanish La Liga. I fell in love with Internazionale, in Milan, and Barcelona.

Eventually, Thierry Henry left Arsenal and joined Barcelona, where he played with Lionel Messi (today, perhaps, the best player in the world). Barcelona, like Arsenal, is one of the biggest clubs in the world. Like the other top clubs, the squad is usually so packed with stars, that bench players would be starters for any other team. I was lucky enough to have Barca come to New York and play an exhibition against my tea, and I got to see Henry and Messi play together. No amount of money is too much for that show!

I learned about the Champions League, where the top clubs (Champions and some runners-up) from all the Eurpoean leagues participate in a tournament to decide the champion of Europe. Arsneal, Barcelona and Inter are almost always represented.

Last night, Barcelona played the second leg of a home-and-away quarter final match against German side Bayern Leverkuesen. The first match had been at Bayern and Barcelona won 3-0. In order for Bayern to make it through to the next round, they were going to have to beat Barca by 3 goals. The winner is determined by aggregate goals scored. Beating Barca at home by 3 goals or more is a tall order for the best clubs in the world. Bayern was going to have to play well beyond their talents to pull this off.

They did not.

Not only did Bayern not win by three goals, Barca score 7 (yes, SEVEN) goals to win by an aggregate of 10-2.

Lionel Messi scored 5 goals. An amazing feat against a champions league team.

The final was 7-1, but the match wasn't anywhere near as close as the score makes it sound.

Yes, the average soccer match ends 2-1; but that doesn't mean that some games are not higher-scoring.

I am lucky to have found top-flight soccer, I am lucky to hold season tickets for my team, I am lucky to afford premium television channels that show international matches, and I am lucky to love players like Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi.

Oh, and the stroke of luck with which I will close: two years ago, Thierry Henry joined my New York team, and I get to see him play every home match.

It is like being in heaven.

I was fortunate enough to meet Henry after a match one night.

I was like a little boy. I was flabbergasted and couldn't think of a thing to say. I even forgot to have him sign my jersey. I forgot to tell him he was the reason I watch soccer, and that he changed my life that October day in 2000.