Category Archives: History

The Times They Are A Changin’…

Scenes from the March For Our Lives in Los Angeles, to the tune of Bob Dylan’s classic protest song: as relevant today as it was when it was released on January 13, 1964.

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown…IMG_6418And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone…IMG_6419
If your time to you
Is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’
Or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’.IMG_6423Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again…IMG_6425
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin…IMG_6428
And there’s no tellin’ who
That it’s namin’
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.IMG_6429Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall…IMG_6430
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
For the battle outside ragin’…IMG_6434
Will soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.IMG_6438Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand…IMG_6439
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command….

Your old road is
Rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.IMG_6443The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slowest one now
Will later be fast…IMG_6446
As the present now
Will later be past…IMG_6447
The order is
Rapidly fadin’…IMG_6451
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.IMG_6453

 

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The Donald Jumps The Shark…

As of today, March 22, 2018, Donald Trump has jumped the shark.

I know that seems impossible.

220px-Fonzie_jumps_the_sharkEver since Fonzie took to water skis and jumped over a shark on a fifth-season episode of “Happy Days” in the fall of 1977 – “jumping the shark” has come to mean that moment when an enterprise has gone beyond belief, sanity or relevancy and soared into absurdity and inconsequence.

Then again, on second thought, I only wish today’s events had rendered Trump inconsequential.

Still, I can’t escape the feeling that The Donald has – given today’s events – jumped the genus selachimorpha.

Think about what we learned today. Just today. Just on this one, singular day.

And imagine if the President involved was not named Trump. (If his name was, perhaps Obama?) And yet, even though his name is Trump — it’s still incredible. (Though, perversely, all-too-credible — given that Trump is the guy involved.)

MI-BJ392_GALLEO_G_20110502182208Today we learned that…

The President’s lead attorney, John Dowd, has quit the legal team that’s defending Trump against Special Counselor Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. It seems Dowd might have gotten upset that Trump just hired a new lawyer — a FOX News conspiracy hack named Joe Digenova. Or it could be because Trump just won’t listen to sound legal advice. Who knows? Chaos reigns.

636544528223527311-AP-GERMANY-SECURITY-CONFERENCE-97604626On this same day we learn that Trump’s National Security Advisor, General H.R. McMaster is out – and right wing, war hawk, bull-goose-loony John Bolton is taking his place.

Are you psyched for war in North Korea and Iran? Did you love the Iraq War? If so, John Bolton is your man.

481314159.jpg.0So, how does Trump – who ran on his blistering critique of the war in Iraq as a huge mistake, now embrace one of the primary advocates of that mistaken war? Who knows? Chaos reigns.

And then there’s Trump’s opening salvo in a new trade war with China. Today, The Donald announced tariffs directed at China that prompted the Dow-Jones Index to plummet 724 points.

Trump’s tariff announcement and subsequent Dow plunge would normally be the big news of the day. In fact, any of these stories would’ve been the major headline of the month in any other presidential administration.

But not in Donnie’s dystopian dynasty…

Somehow — perhaps through his mad, calculating, perverse subgenius — Trump managed to bury what would surely have been the biggest scandal of any prior Presidency.

nn_kwe_trump_stormy_daniels_180320_1920x1080.nbcnews-ux-1080-600Playboy centerfold Karen MacDougal appeared on CNN today.

She spoke to Anderson Cooper in an exclusive interview and detailed a year-long sexual affair she had with Trump in the very same year that Donnie’s wife Melania gave birth to their son – and the same year he was also carrying on with Stormy Daniels.

All this madness in just one day.

Our national head is spinning.

And it isn’t event Stormy Sunday yet.49F3553000000578-5482961-Donald_Trump_and_porn_Stormy_Daniels_aka_Stephanie_Clifford_pose-a-102_1520614068866

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A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall…

R-2057737-1261406197.jpegWe modern, sophisticated, educated folk tend to dismiss the idea of prophets: people who can see the future and comment on what’s coming.

But give a listen to this song by Bob Dylan – who was just 22-years old when “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” was released on May 27, 1963 — on the album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.

Freewheelin’? Not on this song.

Bob Dylan may well be the greatest poet writing in the English language since Shakespeare. Listen to his song – and read the lyrics. I will say no more.

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son
And where have you been, my darling young one
I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son
And what did you see, my darling young one
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder that roared out a warnin’
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’
Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what did you meet, my blue-eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded with hatred
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

And what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
And what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ‘fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
And the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

Recall these lines – and think about them. This was a young man, barely an adult in the early 1960’s, and he saw – and sang about – these images…

I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans

I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children

Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’

Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’

I met a white man who walked a black dog

I met a young woman whose body was burning

Where the people are many and their hands are all empty

Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters

Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison

Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten

Where black is the color, where none is the number

How could such a young man see the future (and his present) so clearly?

Now, tell me there’s no such thing as prophecy…

 

 

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Parkland, Revolution & Gun Control

2a-678x381Okay, so I’m confused. Let’s review…

The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads…

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”2ndAmendment

As a student of English, I appreciate the specificity of the language – and the importance of punctuation. You can’t separate a parenthetical clause from the body of a sentence and reinterpret the meaning of the sentence to suit your ideology.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

gun_lawsThe Framers — our esteemed Founding Fathers – were clearly concerned (fresh from a Revolutionary War against Britain) that we have a well-drilled local militia ready to take the field and battle against foreign aggressors. Citizen soldiers (the famous Minutemen) were therefore, armed, drilled, and prepared to face foreign armies.

But foreign invasion is simply NOT a concern today. (Unless it’s a Russian-style cyber invasion.)

banner.revSo, why do we Americans allow civilians to own military-style semi-automatic weapons? (Automatic — if you factor in bump-stocks.) Are the NRA-loving folks armed with such high-powered weapons members of a “well regulated Militia?”

I think NOT.

2nd-amendment-gun-rifle-right-to-bear-arms-pro-gun-t-shirtsSo, given that Our Founders were Englishmen (or, at least, descendants of English speakers) versed in the King’s English, they could not have envisioned the situation we confront today: untold thousands of high-powered weapons in the hands of paranoid people who aren’t members of a “well regulated Militia.”

Sorry, Wayne LaPierre, I call your bullshit. And so do the student survivors of the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Like Australia – and all the other civilized countries in the world, we cannot accept mass shootings in our schools — or Country Music concerts — or anywhere else.color-Sec-amend-NRA

It’s time for effective gun control!

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My PyeongChang Diary (Part 6)

It’s Valentine’s Day here in PyeongChang, South Korea (though not in the U.S. quite yet) – and I began the day hoping it would turn out to be a love fest for Shaun White, the greatest Olympic snowboarder who ever dropped into a 22-foot halfpipe.

I could tell right away that the tempo of movement and people and energy here at our Phoenix Snow Park venue had ticked up noticeably from previous days.2

3The view from just outside our edit bay showed that folks were starting to head toward the halfpipe to see if Shaun White could win his third gold medal in four ties. Or whether his Japanese rival, Ayumu Hirano, would carry the day.

Or who knows? Maybe some dark horse rider — perhaps one of the other three young American boarders who qualified for the finals — would surprise us all and snatch the gold medal from the favorites.

4I tramped through the snow toward the halfpipe, negotiating the crowds that had come to share in the excitement – and to be present when Winter Olympic history might be made.

It’s good to be a credentialed member of the press. You get to pass through your own entrance, and skip the lines to a degree.

But, even with credentials, there are times when you’re packed in with the fans. And that’s cool, too. You can feel the buzz.

Small wonder. People have traveled from all over the world to be a part of this day. This event. This moment.6

9I managed to skip the longest section of the line and take an express route to the pipe – passing a Korean band that must have just played to warm up the crowd. There’s always a musical performance before these events. I wished I had gotten to the venue in time to see these guys do what they do.

Arriving at the base of the halfpipe, the size of the crowd was large – and growing. This was clearly the biggest live audience I’ve yet seen at our venue. They all know that Shaun White is in the house. And something cool might be happening.1011

Here’s the halfpipe. If Shaun’s on today – he’s going to write the greatest chapter in the history of Olympic snowboarding in that pipe. Or, maybe he won’t. After all, he finished fourth at Sochi in 2014, just missing the medal podium.Flags

15

The people massing at the foot of the halfpipe are an international combination of tourists, athletes and rabid sports fans from around the globe. They come ready to cheer on their national teams — but they appreciate every Olympian’s effort. You really do feel that world peace is possible when in you’re in a group like this. Which may also be part of why these people are here.

CrewAfter the first run, I spotted my camera crew posted on an overlook above the crowd.

Taking advantage of my trusty press credentials yet again, I joined my talented cameraman, Corey, and my excellent associate producer, Agatha, on their perch to witness the final two runs of the finals.25

red gerard gold_1518317350621.png_12905470_ver1.0.jpgIn these finals, the 12 riders get 3 runs. The best score in any of those runs is the one that counts.

Shaun White threw down a great first run, which put him at the top of the leader board. Then Ayumu Hirano posted a score that knocked Shaun down to #2.

DCIM101GOPROG1302289.

Ayumu Hirano in action in his 2nd run in the PyeongChang halfpipe .

Soon after Ayumu Hirano took the lead, in Shaun’s second run, the Shaun White Coronation Express went off the rails.

27You may not have been able to see it in that video – but the sound of the crowd surely clued you in to the fact that Shaun wiped out mid-run. He would need a clean, stellar third run to best Ayumu Hirano for the gold.

Hirano fell in his third run – and was thus unable to improve upon his lead over Shaun White. To a killer competitor like Shaun, that’s putting blood in the water for a halpipe-eating shark. Here’s my view of Shaun White’s final run of the competition.

imageThat was it. Last ride of the day. Best score of the day. Step up, Mr. White, and accept your third Olympic Gold Medal.

After witnessing that legendary Olympic moment, I was peckish. Luckily, the NBC commissary is not far from the halfpipe, so within minutes I was treated to this…IMG_6209

IMG_6211A Valentine’s Day party!

It always feels like we’re on some far-flung military base and they’re trying to remind us of the comforts and traditions we enjoyed back home.

It’s nice though.

Here’s to all my darling girls: Maura, Emilia, Eva – and most especially, Victoria! I miss you all.

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My PyeongChang Diary (Part 5)

Dateline: Phoenix Park, PyeongChang, South Korea – Sunday February 11, 2018.

Today, on the Olympic Slopestyle snowboard course, two guys from Cleveland shared a moment of Olympic history. To be sure, one of us did far more than the other. But in the end, your author may have played a larger part than anyone might have imagined.

1We begin in the morning. I went through security at Phoenix Park shortly before 10:00 AM – the scheduled start of the men’s slopestyle finals.

As always, after the screening software read my credentials — and my shabby, unkempt photo and vital info flashed upon the screen — I was granted passage onto the venue.

I could tell right away that the environment at the venue was very different from the days before.

There were a LOT more people — many, many more.

An Olympic finals event was about to take place.

Medals were going to be earned.

And many people from across the world were gathering to see if their beloved athletic countrymen would lay claim to gold, silver or bronze.5
7Up until today, there were no crowds at our venue. The only people I saw were NBC employees, OBS folks (Olympic Broadcast employees) and Olympic athletes and coaches. Now, I joined masses of enthusiastic fans as we made our way up the mountain to the grandstand erected at the bottom of the slopestyle course.

As I schlepped my way uphill, I was gratified to see that the police were in force.

They walked up the hill with us and they were stationed at the base of the venue. Nobody seemed concerned for their safety. I didn’t even think about it. The world was gathering to have fun and share the joy of winter sports. And we all appreciated the vigilant security folk.9

8I also appreciated the woven burlap mats that were laid out for us as we made our way up the mountain. Back in Mammoth, California a month ago, I must admit that I did a lot of slipping and sliding on my way up to the halfpipe finals. These burlap mats made our ascent so much easier – and safer.

Up and up and up we went.

This is a mountain we’re climbing, after all.

And if our climb wasn’t as steep as it was — just how dramatic would this slopestlye finals run be?12

Every step we took promised greater drama on the course above.

10

Arriving at the base of the slopestyle run, I could see both the course above…

18

…the grandstand below.

17

And, of course, the boisterous international crowd — proudly representing their counties and getting psyched up to cheer on their nation’s athletes.

Flags

24Unlike many Winter Olympic events, it’s impossible for the live audience at the slopestyle venue to watch the athletes as they make their way through the course.

Those of us in live attendance at the event must watch on video as the athletes make their way down the course.

red gerard gold_1518317350621.png_12905470_ver1.0.jpgWe can catch fleeting glimpses of the boarders in the distance far above us – but it’s only when they launch themselves into the air on that final jump that they come fully into view, rocketing down the hill to the finish.

Sometimes they arrive at the finish upright. Often, they crash land right in front of us. It certainly makes for a dramatic finish.

27

1Of course, I was primarily interested in the prospects of the one American in the final: 17-year old Redmond “Red” Gerard.

I met him this past January in Mammoth, California.

When we interviewed Red in Mammoth, the Cleveland native (Rocky River, to be exact) told us that he wasn’t all that into the Olympics.

He was all about the X-Games and the Mountain Dew Tour.

As far as he was concerned, the Olympics were just another contest.

Red’s first two runs spoke to his blasé Olympic attitude. He wiped out both times – displaying none of the free-spirited style, talent, tricks and focus that earned him a spot on the U.S. team – and his berth in the finals. Meanwhile, over the next two rounds, the Canadians in particular were putting down runs that left Red Gerard at the very bottom of the standings going into the final round.

Then Red uncorked the magic in his final run…

gettyimages-916757406red gerard 5_1518324187546.png_12921684_ver1.0.jpg17-year old Red Gerard – too young to vote in the United States – earned our nation’s first Gold Medal in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

Sure, he put down an amazing final run.

But what part did Red’s fellow Cleveland native play in his unlikely Olympic victory?

This was the shirt that I was wearing underneath all my layers today…

Wahoo

Chief Wahoo’s days may be numbered – but he hung in there long enough to give Red Gerard the winning edge.

Go Red! Go Tribe! Go Cleveland!

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My PyeongChang Diary (Part 2)

Banner 1Banner 2

Today’s diary entry is a walking tour from my spartan room at The White Hotel to our extreme Olympic sports venue headquarters at Phoenix Park. The trip, traveling by foot, takes only 20 minutes. But the memories will last a lifetime.

Room 1

This is my room at The White Hotel. As befits the name of the hotel, it is relentlessly white. And spartan. Clean lines. 90 degree angles. The bare essentials. The rumpled condition of the bed is my fault and not to be attributed to the hotel staff. I just woke up. The staff is very tidy.

Room 6

The bathroom has positives and negatives. Again: clean lines and an almost ascetic sense of spare efficiency. The negative? You may be able to see that I have been unable to drain my sink for two days. I can’t find the control to lift the plug up. I hope the maid will fix it tomorrow. The positives? The shower head and water pressure are first rate. Thus, showering is a joy!

Room 5

You don’t often see such signs in your hotel room. Of course, I dutifully remove my shoes before entering the room. And I wouldn’t dream of using the stove. But why is there a stovetop that cannot be used? One does not ask such impertinent questions. What am I — an ugly American?

Room 4

When the prison at San Quentin was brand new, its hallways may have looked just like this. But I don’t think the view from San Quentin’s hallways was quite so lovely. (Please note: that is not a UFO hovering over the mountain in the center of this picture, though I wish it were.)

A1

The White Hotel. My home for the month of February. Our walking tour begins.

1

Walking toward Phoenix Park from The White Hotel. This is a winter sports resort, so there are many hotels in the hills surrounding the ski resort. The hillsides look very much like California. That’s why Malibu Creek State Park ably stood in for Korea on “M*A*S*H”.

2

It’s the craziest thing: all the signs in the area are in Korean. Go figure. Evidently, this hotel features a spa — but beyond that, it’s all Greek (or actually, Korean) to me.

3

At the bottom of the hill that our hotel sits on is this water park. It was no doubt built to give vacationers something to do in this area during warmer weather. However, I think the IOC is missing an opportunity to stage a whole new Winter Olympic event here. Mini luge, perhaps?

4

A fellow Olympic employee trudges toward Phoenix Park along the town’s main drag. With competition in this area still several days away, we Olympic staff are the only people on the street. In the coming days, I expect the town to get increasingly crowded and kinetic.

5

Guess who?

6

Ah! C’est un restaurant français en Corée! Ou une boulangerie au moins. Je me demande si le service Coke Diet – ou si on peut y puchase un verre de Chardonnay?

7

The Center Plaza has been a major disappointment to me. From the outside it appears as though it’s a place where one may purchase a few essentials — like Diet Coke or a decent bottle of Chardonnay. Or maybe even some Advil. But no. It houses a bowling alley, a KFC, a beer garden, a toy store, and a miserable “convenience store” that sells very little that is convenient for me.

8

Walking past the disappointing Center Plaza, our destination comes into view: the Phoenix Hotel — gateway to our Phoenix Park Olympic venue. I will soon arrive at work.

9

Shuttle buses are lined up outside of the Phoenix Hotel. These shuttles take Olympic staffers to the other far-flung sports venues in the greater PyeongChang area. Some go East toward the coast where the skating events are held, others go to the alpine sports venues and the International Broadcasting Center: the nerve center of the Olympic media operation.

12

The security checkpoint in the lobby of The Phoenix Hotel. If you like going through airport security, you’ll love going through this every day.

11

And when you go through the security gates, the sensors read your ID badge and this hideous image flashes onto a big screen. That way, everyone can see that you didn’t bother to shave or brush your hair or find a clean backdrop for your ID photo. It’s a daily punishment for sloth.

13

Having gotten through security, I enter the venue. This place is a work in progress. Big things are about to happen — but nothing is really happening yet. Preparations are underway.

14

I have no idea what goes on inside this building, though I pass it every day. All I know is that it’s big and festively decorated. Part of it is a youth hostel. Maybe young Olympic employees are housed there? Maybe this is where they are hiding all the Diet Coke and decent Chardonnay?

15

This is the 2018 Winter Olympic theme: “Passion. Connected”.

17

The mogul run. My knees ache just thinking about it.

18

Somehow, this cartoon guy works against the whole “Danger” idea.

19

Here’s our lovely NBC commissary. We watched the Super Bowl here. Not exactly fine dining.

20

This is the sign on the NBC commissary door. Is everything in Korea named “Kim”?

21

Inside the NBC commissary. It’s still early. It gets pretty crowded by lunch time. All the cool kids sit at the table near the two clocks. The jocks sit at the tables on the left. The theatre kids sit in the center — and the Dungeons & Dragons geeks sit at the table in the foreground. (Just kidding.)

22

These coolers mock me every day. They hold no Diet Coke. Sadly, I must drink water.

23

This snack table entices me every day. I must stay away. Must stay away. Must stay away…

25

Here’s the NBC venue HQ. This nice lady is helping me program my NBC cell phone. That way, NBC can notify me by text when they’re bumping me from the edit bay because something else takes precedence. Since my project is not “day and date” — we’re lower priority. Alas.

26

This is our documentary unit’s office. It’s not much, but it’s relatively warm. We haven’t engaged an interior decorator yet — so please forgive the lack of charm. It’s all about utility around here.

27

The author at his desk. The fun is just beginning.

28

Our associate producer and editor in our edit bay. — not far from the commissary. I’ll be spending lots of hours in here. Once we figure out what we’re doing, this is where the magic will happen.

29

Step outside our edit bay — and this is the view. looking East toward the slopestyle and snowboard cross runs. It’s all pretty quiet now — but in a few more days, it’ll be hopping!

So, that’s the report from outer PyeongChang today. More to come in the days ahead.

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