O Captain, My Captain



That’s the word I’ve heard most often in description of Derek Jeter’s heroic game-winning hit in last night’s contest, the Captain’s final game in pinstripes after a 20-year career.


You obviously haven’t been paying attention at all the past two decades. This was exactly how it was supposed to happen, right to the final details. The script has been in the works since about 2002. (Thanks, by the way, David Robertson, for taking the whole get-rocked-in-the-ninth-inning thing so well.)

For 20 years I’ve enjoyed watching Derek Jeter play baseball. You might say we grew up together. But whereas Derek now leaves the game I have the benefit of still watching, still remembering, and one day sharing those memories with my son…

who’s wearing a Derek Jeter jersey.

Still fab at fifty

After years of seeing clips and snips and still frames, I finally got around to seeing the famous 1964 “T.A.M.I. Show” in its entirety. Filmed in October 1964, the concert come video features nearly every major pop/rock act of the day, from Chuck Berry to The Rolling Stones. (Interesting that while black and white performers appeared on the same bill, they never really play together, but that’s beside the point.)

Do yourself a favor and watch the show some time, if for no other reason than to hear some great music done slightly differently than the thousand times you’ve heard the studio recordings. It really goes to show the musicianship in live performances of the day that doesn’t comes across necessarily on A.M. radio in 2014. And while you could probably get a better picture just filming with your phone these days, the quality for 1964 is surprisingly high res.

So with all the junk passing for pop music these days, do I wish it were still 1964? Yeah, probably.

But I really like my cellphone.

Close but not quite

Dear New York Yankees,

You understand, of course, that along with playing amazing games on Sunday nights there is a certain expectation that you win.

I had a feeling as last night’s game progressed that Yanks-O’s was the new Yanks-Sox.

And we were the Red Sox!

Netflix does it again

You’ve got to hand it to Netflix. The company that already produced the genius idea to mail you your DVDs, then stream then instantly, has struck again with its original programming. As if House of Cards and Orange is the New Black weren’t enough, Netflix now brings you the delightfully ridiculous BoJack Horseman. It’s kind of Netflix’s foray into Adult Swim, and I’m a fan. Good work, Netflix. Keep ’em comin’.

Another one of those days

I spend most of my life listening to talk radio. I go back and forth between sports and politics. Today’s going to be one of those days I listen to the same story on both stations.

What intrigues me most about the Ray Rice saga is the great number of people with their heads in the sand about so many things. One, that no one could have imagined Part One of the security video before we all saw it Monday. Two, that no one from the NFL had. Please. Three, assuming someone from the NFL front office had seen the video, that it could somehow be kept under wraps.

The most honest testimony I’ve heard in the past 48 hours has been that of Mrs. Rice. More than anyone, I’m sure, she’d prefer the whole thing would just go away. Remember, she married the guy after the incident, apparently without incident. To those with their heads in the sand: wives of NFL stars are prone to give their husbands leeway in such matters. Honestly, this kind of thing probably happens every weekend. Sorry to blow the lid off that one for you.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some talk radio to listen to.

FrackNation is worth your time

This weekend I finally got around to watching FrackNation, Irish filmmaker Phelim McAleer’s 2013 documentary about hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and its enemies the world over.

Going in I knew the film to be on “my side”: that is, pro-fracking and pro-free enterprise. The film itself is more than anything an indictment of 2010’s award-winning GasLand, the documentary that caused mass hysteria over fracking in the first place. Well, if not mass hysteria then hysteria among enough of the right people to encourage moratoriums on fracking in many parts of the U.S. FrackNation argues that such bans are unnecessary, and, like so much public policy, harmful to those it intends to protect.

Featured prominently in the film are parts of Northeast Pennsylvania, quite close to my old stomping grounds of upstate New York. If any area of the country needs some new development it’s there, and while some areas have benefited from fracking thus far, it has hardly been universal, mostly due to the meddling of politicians and so-called activists of the GasLand variety. My hometown of Binghamton, New York, is one of those places where the GasLand folks have triumphed, and its status as burned-out industrial wasteland has remained intact. Our politicians, like most politicians, love to “stand up” to “big oil,” even when the oil in this case is natural gas. And never mind any potential economic benefits, the political benefits are too great.

Politics aside, I think the most interesting aspect of the film is the way it was funded. It really was a “grassroots” (to use an overused phrase) effort. More than 3,000 “executive producers” are listed at the film’s end, all of whom pledged money through a Kickstarter campaign McAleery and his associates began in 2012.

FrackNation is worth your time. The actual run time of the film is just over an hour: my kind of documentary. It’s entertaining and informative, and thought provoking if not thought changing. Or one can hope.

McDonnell found guilty

Talk about the commonwealth last night and today has concerned the fate of former governor Bob McDonnell. That is, Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, as the media are fond of noting.

I’ve never met a politician who didn’t engage in some type of influence peddling. That’s what politicians do. It’s the equivalent of charging a musician with playing music, or a businessman of conducting business. The business of politics is trading favors for money or other favors. I don’t think Bob McDonnell should go without penalty for that reason, but seriously, of all the people to make an example of…

The tension between McDonnell and Mrs. McDonnell is what made this case. We love a good soap opera. That and name-brand clothing and accessories. But Jeebus, if every politician who accepted gifts in exchange for political considerations we’d be all out… wait a minute, this could work.

The problem is not the selling or trading of favors. It’s the value of goods available to today’s politician. When Thomas Jefferson was governor of Virginia he wasn’t taking Rolex watches. What was he going to give in exchange? A cow? Today’s politicians control literally trillions of dollars in assets. This is not rocket science. It’s political science. Decrease the rewards available and the incentive to skirt the rules drops in kind.

My verdict in this case? Let McDonnell go to prison. And let’s start a nice long line behind him.