Vin Scully… As American sports broadcasters go, we’ve had many fantastic ones, but no one has been as near-perfect as Mr. Vin Scully. His play-by-play, his knowledge, and his story-telling are wonders to behold.
Through his love of baseball, his communities, and life itself, Vin Scully has proven for 67 years that no matter what our differences are, we can absolutely come together when we want to for something that connects us emotionally.
Whether you love baseball or not almost doesn’t matter. Here is a man who has spent decades doing exactly what he loves and doing it as well as anyone ever has. Scully is, literally, The Best. The Dodgers organization would not be half of what it is without him.
And our nation and the sport of baseball has been all the better for the years he gave us…
Nine Innings from Ground Zero
(A documentary film)
One of the best aspects of documentaries – be they short films or feature length – is their ability to both entertain and teach. At just a little longer than an hour, one of my all-time favorite documentaries clocks in somewhere in between. The film is called Nine Innings from Ground Zero and it is absolutely amazing!
Nine Innings from Ground Zero is – as you have likely guessed by now – about both the great horrors and heartbreaking tragedy of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as well as about the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees World Series that was played a little more than one month after that fateful day in September, 2001. And while you might think sports are incredibly trivial when placed beside such a cruel, difficult reality as the 9/11 attacks, this documentary will show you why that assumption is so incredibly wrong. In truth, a series of seven baseball games has never meant more to the American spirit, both individually and as a collective nation.
Nine Innings from Ground Zero will make you cry, smile, clench your hands into tight fists, cry a little more, and by the end of its airing, it will remind you of all that is right with our country. I’m reluctant to write too much here, hoping that you will instead take the well-invested hour or so to enjoy this emotional story filled with catharsis, empathy, grief, and resilience. Ultimately, as the closing credits roll and you reach for a drink and a Kleenex, you’ll realize that while the ballgame’s result isn’t what matters, everything else in life – from community, courage, and family, to compassion, friendship, and respect – does so very much.
Take the time this weekend, or later this week, to watch this fascinating documentary. It will stay with you for a very long time, and for all the best reasons.
[You can search for Nine Innings from Ground Zero on HBO, Amazon, or Netflix. I’m not sure it’s available on all three providers, but one those is sure to carry it]
The Value in Still Going to the Movies
No matter when you find yourself reading this – be it today or years from now – it remains a moral imperative that you (yes, YOU) continue to get up, get out and GO TO THE MOVIES. Sure, there now exist home-entertainment systems that are beyond fantastic and televisions the size of billboards in Times Square, but what those may provide within the confines of your own little domicile, they still cannot offer what movie theatres have for more than a century: a communal experience with friends and strangers alike.
Similar to concerts, live theatre, and sporting events, going to the movies is still an important part of what makes us a semi-functional society. Do not let the occasional, disrespectful goofball with the cell phone, or the ill-mannered yammering dolt keep you away from the movie house – that’s why God created ushers and tasers! If we give up our 6th Amendment* right to enjoy films publicly, then truly the “Courtesy-Terrorists” have won, and then I think everyone can agree, we all lose. Especially the children.
Even as I get older, going to the movies and sitting next to folks I don’t know can still be a fantastic experience. Soaking up and partaking in the audience’s reaction to a scary moment is priceless; it lets you know that we share similar emotions and feelings about the character in jeopardy. Hearing the sniffles and muddled sobs of fellow movie lovers when a scene is sad or devastating allows you to become even less guarded while sitting in this public venue. And to cheer along with those around you when a nasty villain finally gets his or her comeuppance will surely put a smile on your face. Unless you’re dead inside. Or a Michael Bay fan.
A movie theatre remains one of the few places within society where you can share all types of emotions and experiences without being too self-conscious. The theatre is dark and the sound is just loud enough so that your reaction – though audible – doesn’t place a figurative spotlight on you. Much like the womb, a movie theatre is The Place for comfort, food, and safety (though, unlike the womb, it is large enough for hundreds of people and comes with cup holders). The theatre allows you to forget your own personal dilemmas or issues for a couple of hours. And if the movie you just saw was terrible, chances are you can happily commiserate with those around you as you all exit the theatre; yet another way for strangers to find similar ground in an otherwise often-too-divided world.
I’m not suggesting that everything is always perfect when you head out and go to the movies, but when you do, you’re still making a conscious, well-meaning choice to be a part of something. You’re telling yourselves, the people who run the movie theatre, and those who made the film, that you think it’s worth it to give this particular experience a chance. You’re not allowing traffic, high prices, or the occasional rude dude to beat you down or keep you from that wonderful, unique experience of sitting in the dark and watching a hopefully well-told story unfold before you.
Our movie theatres are meant to be sacred cathedrals for both the big-budget movie and the smaller, more intimate film. It lies with us to keep these theatres open for us to gather and experience these cinematic journeys. People have been participating in movie-watching together since the late Nineteenth century and, with our effort, they will continue to do so far into the future.
*Author’s Note: While the 6th Amendment does not actually cover our right to enjoy a movie-viewing publicly, it does guarantee that within all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed. And popcorn. Lots of buttered popcorn.
Dear Justin Bieber,
We just recently learned that you were offered a “very large, very generous” sum of 5 million dollars to perform for Donald Trump supporters at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
We also recently learned that you respectfully declined.
You’re learning, kid.
Unpaid and pissed,
New York Floral Shop Owners, Philadelphia-based Cabinetry Company, Atlantic City Contractors, New York City Contractors, South Florida Painters, A.K.A., a Whole-lotta Hard-Working Americans…
Dear Debbie Wasserman Schultz,
As you rapidly approach the title of Ex-Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, let me just give you a few words of advice for what’s left of your political future – the best, greatest advice you’ll ever get on such matters.
When the politician you’re helping to get elected has a serious problem with appearing trustworthy – regardless of the label being justified or not justified – it’s always best to avoid manipulating the election – and then getting caught – so your candidate’s apparent lack of trustworthiness grows even greater.
I guess what I’m trying to say to you, Crooked Debbie, is this…
Thank you. Thank you. A billion times, thank you.
Donald J. Trump
Dear Fox “News” Co-Creator / Nixon-Advisor Roger Ailes,
Wow – talk about the end of an error, right, Roger? From getting Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon elected in 1968 to co-creating the juggernaut that has become Fox *News over the past 20 years, you have truly been an incredible success at what you do.
Of course, your greed-based success has been to the great (and by “great” we mean horrific) detriment of the entire U.S. of A. You and your partner-in-slime Rupert Murdoch have done more to divide this country over the past fifty years than any racial / economical / or war-inspired tension could have ever done. You’ve literally lied through your teeth more times than any math genius (you know, those intellectual snob-types you profess to loathe) could count.
Let’s look at a few of the “Fair-and-Balanced” Personalities you helped make into Fuck-Ethical-Journalism-If-We-Tell-A-Lie-Big-Enough-And-Keep-Repeating-It-People-Will-Eventually-Come-To-Believe-It TV Stars. (Click on their links for added fun)
Bill O’Reilly – that bastion of barely-contained and usually piss-drunk rage.
Ann Coulter – a false-patriot who’d be the first to happily speak Mandarin if we were invaded by China tomorrow.
Sean Hannity – a fraudulent human being in every way conceivable.
Honestly, Roger, your time in the Television-as-Political-Theatre Pantheon has helped elect Giant Fails like Richard Nixon and George W. Bush and helped make the case for the Iraq war, which has since taken the lives of more than 4,500 Americans and which has cost the U.S. far more than 1.7 trillion (that’s trillion with a big-fucking T) dollars!
You even made the word Benghazi something 66% of male Fox viewers admit they get aroused by when Megyn Kelly or Charles Krauthammer say it on TV (proven science*).
And despite all the damage you’ve done to this nation, and despite all the lives you’ve harmed, what is it that has brought you down from your elitist kingdom on the Fox-financed mountain?
Your uncontrollable need to sexually harass women. Yep, even as your Mouthpiece Minions yammered on and on about “conservative family values” you were behaving like a Bloated Version of John C. Holmes – if John C. Holmes had a much, much smaller penis…
So thanks for everything, Roger. You’ve truly stooped to conquer. We owe you so much. Someday, hopefully, you’ll get paid back in full (and then some).
With the deepest sincerity,
Actual Truth, Real Justice, and the [non-skewered for ignorant Whites Only] American Way
Dear Pop Princess Meghan Trainor,
Just read your interview in Billboard – very enlightening. Saw that you have never voted and, quote, “I don’t have any desire to.”
Sure, for you it’s all about that bass, but don’t you think at this point – as an adult American woman – that it should be all about that vote?
A hundred years ago women around this nation were spat-upon, heckled, and belittled for wanting the basic right to vote. They were also beaten, raped, and murdered, so You could freely and safely exercise that sacred right.
It was an integral part of our country’s history known as The Suffragette Movement. Maybe pen a few less crappy songs and spend a few more minutes on Wikipedia.
Or at the very least listen to Bowie’s Suffragette City.
Dear Draft Dodger Donald Trump,
I wanted to write to you from my death chamber – while waiting for yet-another young human heart – and offer you strong praise for your rise in the Presidential polls and your catching up to Hillary Clinton.
I know how tricky it can be to talk about having a strong military mind, particularly when you yourself had multiple draft deferments to avoid serving in Vietnam. I, myself also dodged that bullet – so to speak – several times. But as long as you sound tough and determined in your public speeches, and as long as you have absolutely zero qualms about sending other American kids into war, then you’ll be fine (and look good doing it, too).
I know you also spent time at a military academy, Donald, which is almost like being in the Marine Corps. Just keep banging that drum loudly. Our citizens will eventually see that as close enough to serving in combat.
Now go beat Hillary, my friend. Your fellow “dogs of war” are [safely] right behind you.
Dick Cheney War Hawk / Draft Dodger
Dear Flawed Americans (All 319 Million of US),
An extremely important reminder to ALL AMERICANS…
If All Lives truly Matter in this nation, then We as a nation must work everyday to unite.
We have to see what is truth. And the TRUTH is that we’re all flawed, scared, strong, loving, hopeful, desperate, flaky, reliable, angry, kind, greedy, and generous.
Black, White, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, etc. Cop, Vet, Teacher, Coach, Doctor, etc.
The only thing Human Beings are truly consistent at is Being Human (warts and all).
Most Police Officers want to do Good. Most are not abusive, corrupt, murderous. But both types do exist.
Most African-American People want to live well and be a constructive part of society. Most are not bad people. But both types do exist – as with Asian, Hispanic, Whites, etc…
Most Immigrants come to the U.S. and do right by their new country, their new home. Most do not sneak in and manipulate things only for themselves. But sure, both types do live here.
The “bad guys” in our country are the political leaders who won’t work together, who only seek to remain in power, rather than using their elected position to help all types of people.
The “bad guys” in our country are those who profit off dead Americans, or Americans in crisis, be they NRA/GOA leadership or corporate heads who put their bottom-line and shareholders ahead of individual lives.
The “bad guys” in our country are those who use a gun or bomb instead of their ability to learn, love, and work even harder for positive change.
The “bad guys” come though social media and televisions and push lies, propaganda, not caring how it may affect those who take it as gospel.
The “bad guys” in our society cannot win because they are outnumbered and they are ultimately weak.
And the “bad guys” look like all of us. They are straight, gay, white, black, brown, young, old, wealthy, middle-class, poor, religious, atheists, athletic, well-educated, lazy, small-minded, living in cities, living in rural towns.
“The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for…” Ernest Hemingway
Whatever frightens you, seek to better understand it. Whatever angers you, work to let go of it. Whatever makes you feel helpless, take action to relieve its grip.
We’re All Capable of Doing Good. It simply requires strength. You’ve got plenty of it in You.
Your fellow deeply-flawed American,
I am an American white guy who believes in our 2nd Amendment and is a current member of the National Rifle Association. When I go to the NRA website I read all kinds of purposeful, serious words. Meaningful words like:
Freedom Protection Rights Safety Draconian Enemies Terror
There are also intense phrases and warnings on the NRA site (and in the near-daily emails I receive) that make me feel what I maturely describe as “the mixed feels.” Substantial phrases and dire warnings such as:
“Our rights are under attack like never before.” / “Dedicated to securing the future of freedom.”
Even my NRA membership card has the powerful words, “STAND and FIGHT” in bold, I-ain’t-messing-around-sized print. Seriously, it’s impressive the way that call of resistance is placed directly above my own name and just to the left of an image of a powerful Bald Eagle’s feather-covered butt.
As you likely already know, THE major point, purpose and obsession of much of our NRA’s leadership is…well, actually, it’s money. And power…it’s also power. But aside from those two things, NRA heads like Wayne LaPierre, the human-hamster hybrid who’s our CEO and Executive Vice President, want Americans to remain free and able to protect themselves from criminals, terrorists and that all-time scary fave: The Big. Bad. Tyrannical. Government.
So why not better embrace communities of color? Why does the NRA community – well into the 21st Century – still resemble an Oregon Militia or a Woody Allen Movie? Really, it’s kind of pitiful. I’ve seen fewer white people at a Stanley Cup Final than at an NRA membership meeting. Sure, there is a scant increase in African-Americans, Asians and Hispanics joining in the past decade, but it’s still a comparatively tiny amount. The face of the NRA remains over 30, doughy, and…well…me. The face of the NRA looks a lot like my once-angular and very pallid mug.
Again, the NRA and its leadership are constantly reminding you – the everyday NRA member – that your 2nd Amendment rights are in peril, at risk, and being threatened. If it isn’t Hillary Clinton, President Obama or Michael Bloomberg, then it’s some other anti-American leftist-loon who apparently possesses the ability to steadily dispose of the approximately 300 million firearms within our United States’ borders. We cannot find 10 million illegal immigrants within our borders, how in the sam-hell could we ever possibly locate three times that number in something that is far easier to hide? That’s a rhetorical question, for those of you starting to wander mentally.
So, given the fact that Americans – both NRA members and non-members – are always hearing about gun rights vanishing due to “The Tyrannical Guvment,” why on God’s green earth isn’t NRA leadership doing every-frickin’-thing they can to attract, entice and lure African-Americans into joining? In the past several decades, there’s no group of Americans who have been greater victims of governmental and law-enforcement double-standards and hypocrisy than African-Americans! Seriously, a pale weasel like Dylan Roof can ambush and execute nine churchgoers and he’s arrested peacefully and treated to some fast-food by his arresters before going into processing. But Eric Garner, an African-American, who was selling tax-free cigarettes ended up being choked to death by an NYPD officer when he failed to comply with the policeman’s requests. An armed Oregon militia took over federal wildlife refuge and promised bloodshed if their demands weren’t met. Of the 27 extremists involved, only one was killed, and that was only after he attempted to shoot a federal agent. But Minnesota resident and African-American, Philando Castile, was shot dead when he declared to a police officer (who’d pulled him over concerning a busted taillight) that he had a licensed weapon in the car that he was legally allowed to have. Castile literally died for complying, but the NRA heads were slow and timid to react.
According to the NAACP, African-Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites. Together, African-Americans and Hispanics comprised 58% of all U.S. prisoners in 2008, even though those two groups only make up one-fourth of our nation’s population. Hell, there are African-American men languishing in prison for years over possession for marijuana, even as more and more states are declaring it legal.
Color me reactionary, but that seems like some real-life government-induced tyranny. Why on earth wouldn’t the NRA leadership want to welcome millions of African-Americans into the fold, since they’re the ones who personally understand government oppression better than anyone else? Again, this question is rhetorical.
We know why the NRA leadership isn’t that interested in the rainbow coalition. It is because if you’re a member long enough, you have a vote. And with that vote comes the possibility of change. NRA heads like millionaire NRA and CEO Wayne LaPierre don’t want change, after all, he’s making a killing from all of the killings.
So as a proud and defiant member of the NRA and, even better, the good-ole USA, I am asking my fellow Americans of color to join me at the next NRA meeting. Membership isn’t expensive and you get some nifty goodies when you join. And the best goody you’ll get several years down the road? A possibility for real change and your own greater sense of “the good feels”. Most importantly, you’ll no longer feel as helpless against the tyranny of lethal double-standards and hypocrisy.