Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Biggest Man in Pro Sports Today…

k-bigpicWhat a great day for professional sports.

DownloadedFileThe film “42” is in theatres, celebrating the transformational story of how Jackie Robinson broke the color line in Major League Baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

Today, 66 years later, professional basketball player Jason Collins overcame another taboo in pro sports by announcing to the world that he is a gay man – becoming the first openly gay man active in a major American professional sport.

xxx-stanford---usc-3_4_r536_c534A first round pick in the 2001 NBA draft, Jason Collins is a 12-year NBA veteran. An All-American center at Stanford, Jason and his twin brother Jarron both enjoyed decade-long careers in the National Basketball Association. Jason’s dozen years in the NBA are further proof – as if needed – that it’s not if there are gay men in pro sports – but how many pro athletes are gay? And why should we even care?

COLLINS THOMAS WEATHERSPOON HARRINGTONThe New Jersey fans that cheered for Jason Collins during seven seasons with the Nets – and the ticket buyers who rooted for him in his NBA stops since leaving New Jersey – weren’t cheering for a heterosexual man or gay man. They were cheering for a talented and durable big man who fought for rebounds and scored consistently in the paint. Team player Jason has also always been considered a good guy in the locker room.

975820-jason-collinsTrivia note: The Dodgers played in Brooklyn NY when Jackie Robinson made history in 1947. The Nets, the NBA team that drafted Jason Collins in 2001, is now playing its first season in Brooklyn. (Significant? Probably not. But us sports fans love us some trivia.)

la-me-ln-jason-collins-aunt-20130429Jason’s revelation regarding his sexuality reminds me of the silly debate over gays in the military. There have always been gay men in the military – and there have always been gay men in sports. From the first moment men clashed in battle – whether in war or on the playing field – a percentage of those men have been gay. That’s only natural. Completely natural.

jason-collins-siSo, congratulations, Jason Collins!

I’m honored that Jason attended the same San Fernando Valley grade school that my daughters attended. Sierra Canyon School should be prouder than ever of Jason.

His college and NBA basketball achievements have been laudable.

His honesty and courage today make him an American hero for the ages.

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“You’re in Rio—why are you sleeping?” Part (4/5): When in Rio, do as the Brazilians do

Here’s the latest installment of my daughter Emilia’s account of her Brazilian adventure…

Getting Free

Once again, if you take anything with you from this blog, it should be this: When traveling in a place you’ve never been before, ALWAYS. HANG. WITH. LOCALS. Seeing a city with alongside a person who understands it and has lived in it opens the city for you in a way it never would if you’d stayed behind the plexiglass barrier that is being only a tourist. Because we made a point to run with as many Brazilians as possible, Roshan and I understood more truly than ever, what a Brazilian life means.

As it turns out, what does it mean to be a Brazilian?: To enjoy yourself.

Rio de Janeiro is a throbbing city—and when I say throbbing, I mean it in all the senses of the word. Rio is like a throbbing, open wound, a throbbing heart, a throbbing headache, a throbbing longing, a throbbing reverberation of music…

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“You’re in Rio—why are you sleeping?” Part (3/5): Being Tourists

Here’s another chapter in my daughter Emilia’s ongoing account of her journalistic adventures in Brazil.

Getting Free

Even though Roshan and I went to Brazil first and foremost as journalists, we made sure to be tourists on our off days.

The most incredible thing about Brazil and Rio de Janeiro—especially with the experience we had there being journalists and tourists—is the massive range of emotions that consumed us depending on which mode we were in. As journalists, it was high stress, high emotions, high functioning trying to process the misery and the majesty we were seeing.

But as tourists, when your express purpose is to enjoy your surroundings and not necessarily to make moral sense of it all—Brazil can be one of the most calming, cathartic places you could possibly go.

You’ll see when I go through the main tourist destinations we hit.

Sugarloaf Mountain

On our first day of tourism, Roshan and I wanted to go to Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer. We wanted to…

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“You’re in Rio—why are you sleeping?” Part (2/5): Reporting

My daughter Emilia will graduate from Northwestern University”s Medill School of Journalism this June. She spent her spring break in Rio, getting the story on how the government is clearing slums in advance of the Olympic Games.

Getting Free

Because we were in Brazil for the express purpose of reporting, that is what we did. Without giving ourselves more than a moment to adjust, we grabbed our cameras and tripod and met up with our translator, Thiago.

Thiago is awesome. It is because of him Roshan and my trip was one of the best weeks of our lives. It is because of him I now understand more than ever that being in a new place with a local is a must. I will detail the adventures we had more thoroughly in a different post, but if I have one word of advice for the hopeful traveler, it is this: spend as much time with locals as possible. They open the city for you like it’s an oyster, revealing a pearl you’d never have been able to find on your own.

One of the funny things about Thiago is…

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Heaven Next Door: Malibu Creek State Park

IMG_1061Malibubanner1One of the glories of life in Southern California is the ability to quickly escape to the wilderness – whether it’s the ocean, the desert, or the mountains.

IMG_1056From our home at the southwestern end of the San Fernando Valley, we can reach the beach in less than a half hour, the high desert in a little more than that. And in about fifteen minutes, my family and I can be exploring the Santa Monica Mountains at Malibu Creek State Park.

photoWe’ve been coming to Malibu Creek since we moved to Woodland Hills twenty years ago. We go several times a year, and we’ve enjoyed it in all seasons. Each season has its own beauty — but of all the seasons, Malibu Creek shows itself best in the spring.

Located just south of the junction of Las Virgenes Road and Mulholland Highway, the place is a nearby paradise. After you paid the $12 vehicle fee and parked the car — within minutes you can hike to vistas where it’s impossible to tell whether you’re anywhere near civilization. You can almost imagine what the Chumash saw when they settled among these live oaks and sycamores 5,000 to 10,000 years ago.IMG_1062

IMG_1069When we first brought our daughters to Malibu Creek State Park, the length of our family hikes were largely determined by our little girls’ enthusiasm for the expedition. We had to carry them along the trail sometimes, but eventually they became just as excited as their parents about spending some quality time at Malibu Creek.

The chaparral-covered mountains that dominate the park are green in the spring and golden by fall – and have been coveted by Hollywood for decades: 4,000 acres of beautiful scenery within an hour of downtown Los Angeles.

They’ve been shooting movies at Malibu Creek since the silent film era — and in 1946, 20th Century Fox bought 2,000 acres of what’s now the park to shoot movies like How Green Was My Valley, Love Me Tender, Viva Zapata, and Planet of the Apes.

IMG_1070But the production for which the park is most famous was shot for the small screen. And that is why, the Barrosse family sets off along the trail to the M*A*S*H site: where from 1972 to 1983, the Santa Monica Mountains stood in for Korea on the classic sitcom, starring Alan Alda. When the girls were young, a couple of rusting Army vehicles were all that indicated you’d reached your destination.

Father Mulcahy at the reunion.

Father Mulcahy at the reunion.

But once you arrived at the M*A*S*H site, if of a certain age, you could easily recognize the jagged hills through which the helicopters passed and the plateau where they landed. You could even see the path that Captain Hawkeye Pierce climbed to meet the incoming wounded.

Since former cast and crew celebrated the 25th anniversary of the series’ last episode in 2008, the M*A*S*H site has gotten a facelift.

There are now signs that explain various features of the site, markers that lay out where the tents and buildings stood – and a freshly painted vintage ambulance offered up to the ravages of nature.IMG_1071

IMG_1060Along the trail to and from the M*A*S*H site, my wife Victoria, daughter Eva and I were delighted to see the wildflowers starting to bloom. And we kept our eyes and ears alert for wildlife.

These geese weren’t that hard to track down. In fact, they just swam right up to Eva as though they were expecting her.IMG_1065

Can you see the well-camouflaged critter in the photo below?IMG_1072

And do you know what this nasty-looking insect is?photo[2]

It’s a Jerusalem cricket. They’re not really crickets, and they’re not from the Holy Land, but you might find one at Malibu Creek State Park.

Yuck.

Quick. Let’s have another pretty picture.photo[1]

And another.  Love those wildflowers. (That reminds me: I’ve got make sure to get out to Lancaster to see the poppies this spring.)photo[8]

Malibu Creek State Park is a large slice of heaven waiting just next door. I’m already looking forward to my next visit.IMG_1068

All photos by Eva and Victoria.

All photos by Eva and Victoria.IMG_1059

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