Good News Friday: A Pakistani book store owner gives back, in death. Five women in America making wonderful gestures, large and small. And a man who opens his heart and restaurant to homeless on Thanksgiving.

Hope you all enjoyed your turkey and stuffing  and sweet potatoes and gravy and whatever else you ate yesterday; we had a feast at my mother and stepfather’s house on Long Island that I’m still full from (Thanksgiving is definitely the day the Maalox and Tums companies enjoy the most, I’m thinking).

It’s my favorite day of the year, every year, and this year was no different. I am so grateful for so many things in my life: My beautiful, smart, caring and funny wife, my incredible son, my parents, step-parents and in-laws, my wonderful friends, and of course, for my health.

Three good news items to hopefully keep you inside reading and not out on the streets or stores shopping on this insane, ludicrous day we call “Black Friday.” (Plus, I have to, as always around Thanksgiving, share a scene from one of my favorite movies of all-time, that takes place on Thanksgiving (above), “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” The slow burn on Steve Martin’s face in this scene kills me every time).

First up, it’s rare to find good news stories in the Middle East these days, but this was in the N.Y. Times this week and I thought it was great.

A bookstore owner in Pakistan named Saeed Jan Qureshi died in September; he’d built one of the largest bookstores in the world, Saeed Book Bank, in Islamabad.
When news got out of his death, five men came to the store and paid their respects to Saeed’s son, Ahmad.
But they also wanted something else: To pay for books they had stolen from the store many years earlier, when they had no money but wanted to read.

Bt Ahmad laughed, and told them his father had always regarded book theft by children as an investment in a future where people still read, and thus become his customers.

This is a really sweet profile of a beacon of knowledge and hope in Pakistan; the end of the story is perfect.

**Next up, there are happily a ton of stories of restaurants and churches opening their arms to the community on Thanksgiving, to feed the homeless and downtrodden and lonely.

So I could’ve picked out any of them to highlight today. But I chose the story of George Dimopoulos, owner of George’s Senate Coney Island in Northville, Mich., just for his simple message and gratidude.

George has been advertising for the past 10 years that he’ll feed any lonely souls on Thanksgiving, people who don’t have anywhere else to go, or couldn’t afford to travel to see family,

“I was young, didn’t have much food and someone gave it to me once and I was appreciative of it and I remember those people,” Dimopoulos tells WXYZ TV station. Offering a free meal on the holiday is his way of paying it forward.

The restaurant is open 6:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and diners can came for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Dimopoulos isn’t too concerned about losing money, and he just wants people to be happy.

“Maybe I don’t make money but I feel happy to do that. I do this every year and I will keep doing this as long as I live,” Dimopoulos says.

What a great man. I wish more restaurants would do this on days other than Thanksgiving, since there are so many hungry souls out there.


**And finally today, tales of women doing amazing things. There’s never a bad time to highlight some of these incredible efforts, like Melaney Smith of Georgia, who  launched Books for Keeps to make sure that kids have access to books at home, especially during the summer months when they’re out of school.

Her organization has been giving out around 45,000 books every year to kids in need, which means summer recess has become a lot more fun (and educational!) than it used to be for many.

Or how about Miss Schniell Leake of Maryland, who, understanding the importance of kids having confidence and feeling loved, decided to launch Extra-Ordinary Birthdays to throw individualized birthday parties for homeless kids that most likely wouldn’t get to have them otherwise. In the past two years, she’s thrown over 200 birthday parties and has partnered with six shelters in Maryland and D.C.

Read these mini-profiles from to learn about Melaney and so many others, doing wonderful things for people young and old.

Don’t ever let anyone ever tell you there are more bad people than good people out there. They’re wrong. You just have to know where to look.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt with best “Lip Sync Battle” performance ever. John Oliver shuts up the GOP about Syrian refugee lies. And Spanish-lanaguage announcers go nuts over Greg Olsen’s TD

And a Happy Turkey Day eve to all of my wonderful readers. I’ve noticed I’ve been rather wordy and “Infinite Jest”-y with my posts lately, so today we’re just going short and sweet (much like my vertically-challenged self!).

Three fantastic videos I greatly enjoyed, that I know you will too.

First, celebrities lip-syncing to famous songs has become a TV phenomenon, and Spike TV’s “Lip Sync Battle” has given us some awesome performances. But from now on, the standard has been set: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, at the top, and a long way beneath him.

Watch as the actor performs an epic, scarily-perfect re-creation of Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” video. (If I didn’t embed this properly to start right at the beginning of his song, fast forward to 2:02).

It is beyond sensational.

**Next up, I am so sick and so tired of people I know, people on Facebook, and most frighteningly, politicians on TV who are supposed to KNOW something lying and lying and lying about how “easy” it is for Syrian refugees to enter America, and how there’s no screening process, and everyone just gets right in and wanders around and are free to blow stuff up because all refugees are terrorists!

It is xenophobic, it is disgusting, but more than that, it’s 100 percent factually false.

I urge you to watch this John Oliver clip where he perfectly deconstructs this lie, shows just how arduous it is to be admitted as a refugee, and just for fun, gives us some background on FDR and his pecadillos.

Seriously, if anyone at your Thanksgiving table starts blurting out nonsense about “we gotta keep all refugees out,” please show them this. As a public service (the full clip is here, for some reason it’s not totally available on YouTube).

**Finally today, shout-out to loyal blog reader (and my first cousin) Rob for pointing this out to me Tuesday. We sometimes hear the awesomeness of soccer broadcasters in Spanish getting insanely excited for great plays, but not as much for American football.

But after hearing this call of a touchdown by Greg Olsen of the Carolina Panthers last Sunday by Jaime Moreno and Luis Moreno Jr. (maybe they’re related?), I pretty much want to hear every NFL highlight called in Spanish. (My favorite part is when they’re screaming at him to dance around the :20 mark.)

Seriously, how great are these guys? And this was just a basic TD; imagine how they’d sound on flea-flicker or a game-winning score! (Actually, we don’t have to imagine. Just found this Olsen game-winning TD on YouTube. God bless the Internet.)

Seriously wondering what it would take for Trump poll numbers to drop. The Jets are officially pathetic, while the Pack is back. And saluting Djokovic on an incredible year


I can’t even get outraged anymore at the things Donald Trump says.

I mean, what’s the point? This lunatic is so far off the reservation, I don’t think any GPS ever created could find him.

So I just laugh, and shake my head, and keep telling myself that this disgusting, racist, elitist pig of a human being will soon be off the presidential candidate radar, in a few short months; kicked to the curb by voters who will finally, inevitably, wise up.

Then I stop laughing and get scared. Because it seems every time Trump gets further and further off the ledge, and says even more offensive shit like his cracks on Friday that there should be a database of all Muslims in the U.S., and they should have to carry ID cards (hey Donald, isn’t that what they did to Jews in 1930s Germany? Just asking), his poll numbers stay strong.

Then Sunday he claimed he saw thousands of Muslims from New Jersey cheering on 9/11 as the Twin Towers fell, a statement that is 100 percent bullshit. And no one cares.

So I thought to myself Sunday night: What would it take for Trump’s numbers to actually fall? Is there anything he could say or do to lose this unfathomable popularity?

So I came up with this list of stuff that might, might make him lose voters:

  • Have a picture surface of him hugging Hillary Clinton
  • Stand up in the middle of Charlotte, N.C. and declare NASCAR is stupid and not a sport.
  • State that “The Dukes of Hazzard” is an overrated TV show and Daisy wasn’t even that pretty.
  • Admit his home state of New York is the greatest state on Earth, and the rest of you people live in “loser” states.
  • Declare a book other than The Bible as the greatest tome ever written.
  • Announce plans to nominate a Muslim as his vice-presidential pick.
  • Say that he’s in favor of gun control

OK, maybe that last one would do it. All the rest? Who knows. Truly, the man is a political miracle.


**Pathetic. Embarrassing. And, yeah, typical of the New York Jets.
Sunday continued the freefall of a once-promising season, as the awful, horrific Jets were beaten by the legendary T.J. Yates (T.J. Yates, for god’s sakes!) and the Houston Texans.
This was bad, man. The Jets were outclassed, outcoached, and even the great Darrelle Revis was torched time and time again.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two late INT’s, looks like the Jets drafted yet another second-round wide receiver bust in Devin Smith, who dropped a sure TD pass, and the running game was non-existent.
Hard to believe this team almost beat the Pats a few weeks ago. Disgraceful effort Sunday.
More quick-hit NFL thoughts…

— After three weeks of awful football, the Green Bay Packers sure looked like themselves. Beatdown of Minnesota, 30-13. The Pack is back.

— The Tampa Bay Bucs as a playoff contender? Yep. The NFL’s favorite alleged rapist, Jameis Winston, is having a hell of a rookie year, and his Bucs are 5-5 now after thrashing the Eagles. Pretty stunning. (FYI, saw a few minutes of “The Hunting Ground,” Sunday night on CNN, a powerful documentary about the Winston-FSU rape case and other sexual assaults on campus, and it looked great.)

— The Arizona Cardinals are pretty freaking good. And fun to watch. I want them in the Super Bowl.

— At some point, Greg Hardy is going to punch out the entire Cowboys coaching staff and Jerry Jones is still going to defend him, right?

**Finally today, I hardly ever write about tennis here once the U.S. Open is completed in September, because I and many other diehards usually pay little attention to October/November results, since the tournaments don’t matter as much and many top players tend to “mail it in” after a long and grueling year.

But I must take a minute today to acknowledge the incredible, historic year that Novak Djokovic completed Sunday, as he turned back Roger Federer at the prestigious season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London, 6-3, 6-4.

Djokovic won three major titles in 2015, and lost in the finals of the fourth, the French Open. With all the talk about Serena Williams’ near Grand Slam, it turns out the Serb technically got closer, as Serena lost in the U.S. Open semis.

Djokovic went 82-6 this season (82-6!), captured 11 tournament titles, and lost only three times to players other than Federer, the world No.2

Djokovic has never gotten the love and adulation of Federer or Rafa Nadal, and if he were American the U.S. media and corporate world would have made him a much bigger household name.

But what he accomplished this year is phenomenal. And historic. His 2015 was for the ages, and I can’t wait to see what he does as an encore.

I’ve said this for 10 years now, but we truly are in the Golden Age of tennis.

Good News Friday: LeBron once again does exactly right by a sick kid. “Red Oaks” is my new favorite show. And a one-armed baseball player wows all


And a Happy Friday to all of you out there; just a few more days before my favorite holiday of the year is upon us.

We start today with yet another example of LeBron James’ innate goodness as a human being. These stories pop up way too often for them to be fake displays of kindness and human emotion; LeBron is, and has always been, an athlete who gets it.

This most recent gesture comes after a beautiful column by Gregg Doyel in the Indianapolis Star. The story tells of a high school kid named Emanuel Duncan (above, left), who loves sports (basketball especially) but suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a particularly awful disease that often kills people before they reach 20 years old.

Duncan is a member of the Lawrence Central football team in Indiana, but hoops is his real passion. He’s been crossing things off his bucket list left and right, he’s got an incredibly positive attitude that rubs off on everyone he meets, and he’s been an inspiration at his school.

His No.1 dream, though? To meet LeBron. The Cavs play the Pacers in Indiana on Feb. 1, and Emanuel is hoping to meet his hero then.

“He inspires me to do everything,” Emanuel says of LeBron. “To be a good person, to put other people first, to live your life and do what makes you happy. If I meet LeBron James, that would make my day. I wouldn’t ask for anything.”

Well… LeBron James heard about Emanuel Duncan. And he wrote him a beautiful letter, and some signed jerseys and other stuff. The letter is here, and asked about it, LeBron said this:

“I’m in a position that I owe with a lot of responsibility to give back to my fans and to be able to be a role model to them. It’s something I take very, very seriously.”

Dude just gets it. He just gets it. How could you not root for him?

**Next up today, a few words about a great new TV show that the wife and I just started watching.

“Red Oaks,” streaming on, is a funny, poignant and so-accurate look at life in suburban New Jersey in 1985, starring a 19-year-old accounting major named David who gets a job as an assistant tennis pro at a fancy-schmancy country club.

There are a host of dead-on 1980s-era characters in this fictional world: the blond, bubble-headed lifeguard (Misty) who dates the town jock-idiot but is lusted after by the chubby dude who valet parks at the club (Wheeler); the obnoxious club owner (Paul Reiser is fantastic), the sleazy event photographer, and the great Richard Kind as David’s father, fresh off a heart attack and back to fighting with his kvetchy wife (Jennifer Grey). The opening seconds of that trailer (above) kill me. “A C is a Jewish F, son!”

It’s a great slice of 1980s America, but it’s also really sharply written, well-acted, and a really fast 30 minutes of TV. (Only thing that bothers me is that only Misty has a Jersey accent, and it goes in and out.) We’ve watched five of the 10 episodes so far and like it more and more each time.

Check out “Red Oaks.” It’s a really fun show. And if you’re Gen X like me, scarily accurate portrait of your childhood.

Nephtali Flores, 17, of Santa Ana, works on his swing during varsity baseball practice at Santa Ana High. He was born with one arm, his left. He says he has been playing baseball since he was 5 years old. He plays first base, outfield, pitches in relief and catcher. //ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: smith.1112 - 11/11/15 Ð ED CRISOSTOMO, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER -- Slug: smith.1112 CCI ID Code: B64809701Z.1 Assignment Summary: Nephtali Flores, 17, of Santa Ana, was born with one arm, his left. But that hasn't kept him from earning a spot on the Angels RBI baseball team or the Santa Ana High varsity squad. He plays first base, outfield, pitches in relief and even has been catcher. He swings the bat with one hand and uses his speed to get on base.

**And finally today, a great human interest story first brought to my attention by avid blog reader Sanford.

Nephtali Flores, 17, of Santa Ana, Calif., plays baseball for both the Angels RBI Senior team and the Santa Ana High Saints varsity squad. He plays first base, and he hit .346 last season.

And oh yeah, as you can see, Flores has one arm.

His amazing story is told here in the Orange County Register by Marcia C. Smith. What a terrific kid.

“Spotlight” a must-see movie, as journalists expose the church abuse scandal. John Oliver rips terrorists a new one in classic rant. And Duke-Kentucky Tuesday night was an “un-classic”


A quick plea/request before I start today: I’ve written here before about the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, the largest soup kitchen in New York City and the 2nd-busiest in America. They serve more than 1,000 meals a day, I’ve been volunteering there for a few years now, and they’re in the middle of their annual fundraiser. They get some money from grants and some food from donations, but it still costs a lot to run this place. I know I have the most compassionate and generous readers on the World Wide Web; if you would consider donating a few dollars to a great cause, I’d appreciate it. Here’s the link to our fundraising page.

Thanks. On with the show….

There are certain stories that newspapers write that don’t just affect their town, or their state, or even their country.

They affect the whole world. They change history and cause ripples that extend so far beyond what could ever have been dreamed of.

The Boston Globe’s epic investigation and series of stories on the church sex abuse scandal in 2001 and 2002 was one of those stories. Literally hundreds and hundreds of cities all over the world found out, after the Globe’s investigation, that their town, too, had priests who for decades preyed up on young boys and molested them.

The Globe’s stories were an astonishing piece of journalism, and the new movie “Spotlight” shows how it all happened. It was a fantastic film, and deserves all the kudos it’s been getting (“Spotlight” has a 98 percent “Fresh” rating on as I write this.)

First of all, as a journalist I’m generally really disappointed with how newspapers and reporters are portrayed on screen (don’t even get me started on Drew Barrymore as a copy editor in “Never Been Kissed,”), but “Spotlight” nailed all the details. They showed the painstaking pace of these investigations, and how big breaks sometimes just happen accidentally.

Second, the acting is superb. Michael Keaton is so much better here as a newspaper editor than he was in “The Paper.” Mark Ruffalo is outstanding as always. John Slattery, who will now always be Roger Sterling to me, was fabulous, as was Rachel McAdams and the rest of a fabulous cast.

And third, the script tells you everything you need to know about how dirty and depraved these priests were, but it never feels “sensationalized.” The slow unraveling of the story, with the Globe’s reporters first believing just three priests were involved, then 13, then 70, works beautifully as the audience gets shocked just as much as the characters.

“Spotlight” feels like a thriller, but never loses sight of what the reporters’ core mission is: To expose this scandal and give these victims their day to be heard.

It’s a fantastic, fantastic movie. I predict it’ll get a slew of Oscar nominations. Go see it.

**Next up, John Oliver hasn’t had a good angry rant in awhile, and sadly last week’s terrorist attack in Paris provided him with a chance for one.

This righteous and hilarious anger is a nice antidote to all the sadness. Warning: Language is definitely NSFW, so if you’re watching this on the job, use headphones.


**Finally today, college basketball season officially arrived this week, with the usually awesome Champions Classic on Tuesday night. It’s a fantastic “tip-off” event, with Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State and Kansas all playing each other every year in some combination.

Of course I has hugely psyched for Duke-Kentucky Tuesday night, because it’s Duke-Kentucky, and I hate John Calipari as much as you can hate someone who’s never actually done anything to your family, and I hate UK’s incredibly smug and obnoxious fans (yes I realize the irony of a Duke fan saying that).

But wow, that game was an “un-classic” if I ever saw one. My Blue Devils looked overmatched and lost, especially freshmen Brandon Ingram and Derryck Thornton. When Marshall Plumlee is your best offensive weapon the first 15 minutes, that’s not good (and I love MP3 and how hard he’s worked to become a decent player. But come on, he should never lead Duke in scoring at any point in a game).

Duke fans are spoiled, of course, seeing so many freshmen come in and play great right away. This year’s crop will be fine, but they looked scared and lost against a better, deeper, more experienced Wildcats team. Tyler Ulis is fantastic, this Jamal Murray kid is going to be a star, and Kentucky simply got whatever it wanted on offense. The margin could’ve been bigger but UK got sloppy and looked vulnerable at times, too.

It’s November, so I’m far from worried about Duke. K will have them ready by March. Just disappointing how sloppy the game was.

After Paris attack, fear and helplessness. A lively Democratic debate exposes Bernie, and Hillary makes a bizarre 9/11 reference. And a hilarious ticket option if you love your in-laws (or don’t).


I don’t know what to say about yet another terrorist attack on the people of a free nation, by those who want to destroy freedom and democracy.

Friday night’s devastation in Paris, killing 129 people and injuring more than 200 more, struck me with lots of feelings. Fear, that ISIS and other terrorist groups are getting stronger, not weaker, and that this “war on terror” will probably go on forever.

I felt helplessness, knowing that this is only one attack of many, that there are still millions of people around the world who hate Western democracies like the U.S. and France, and that once again, just like on 9/11, people who are evil were one step ahead, intelligence-gathering wise, than those who are trying to stop them.

I felt anger, and I felt rage, and I felt sympathy for the people in Paris who seem to be more of a target for terrorism than other places.

But what I didn’t feel is hopeless. I’m by all means an optimist always trying to believe that the good will overcome the bad. And of course I can’t tell you that there won’t be more tragedy, that there won’t be tears and bloodshed.

But I know that there is still way more good than bad in the world, and that no amount of suicide bombers or automatic weapons will change that.

I refuse to live my life in fear of terrorism, even though I live in one of the biggest target cities in the whole world.


Maybe I’m naive, maybe I’m being Pollyanna, maybe the world really will be brought to its knees by terror.
But I refuse to believe that. Look at the faces in that photo above, taken on the streets of Paris after the attack.

None of them believe it either.


**OK, time for a palate-cleanser. I’ve seen a whole lot of creative marketing ideas by college and pro teams trying to attract fans, but this one might be one of my favorites, ever. Georgetown University is offering spectators a chance to bring their in-laws to their game with Bryant on Nov. 28.

But the kicker is this: When you buy the tickets, you can choose the promo code “sit with” if you want your in-laws next to you, or “sitwout” and they’ll get seated across the arena from your own seats.

Hey, I love my in-laws dearly, but I think this could be a VERY successful promotion!

**And finally, Saturday night’s Democratic presidential debate was pretty entertaining and lively, I thought, but sadly nothing happened that will likely shake the narrative of the race: That Hillary Clinton is firmly in control, and Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley have only a slim chance of beating her.

Some thoughts from my liberal-loving brain on the 2-hour Iowa debate:

— By far the strangest and worst moment of the debate was when Clinton, finally really being pressed by Bernie about her long history of being cozy with Wall Street money, came up with the bizarre invocation of 9/11 and how close she was with New Yorkers down at the World Trade Center as a defense of her chumminess with Wall Street (the clip is above). It was a page out of Rudy Giuliani, throwing 9/11 into a conversation when it had no business being there. It was a bit offensive and made no sense.

— Bernie was strong thru much of the debate, but he didn’t fully press Hillary on her many position shifts to the left in the last several months (TPP anyone)?, and he was again weak on his previous support of gun rights. I don’t think he understands just how huge of an issue gun control is on the left; he’s gotta come up with better answers on this.

— I thought O’Malley was terrific again, especially with his “boots on the ground” comment, that a Mom in Iowa told him politicians should stop using that phrase, that her son is more than just a pair of boots. I think in most other elections, O’Malley would have a real strong shot at the nomination. This year, though, against two forces of nature like Bernie and Hillary, he’s getting demolished.

— I’m fairly certain these two people have never been in the same sentence, but Hillary has some Floyd Mayweather in her: She never gets hit head-on, always manages to dodge and weave and escape major damage. It’s really quite the remarkable talent, just as is her talent for avoiding direct questions.

— I thought John Dickerson, the moderator, did a hell of a job, trying to press the three of them on past statements and voting records, and seeing if they’d make their criticisms of each other face-to-face that they’d made elsewhere.

— Time’s running short on Bernie. He must win Iowa and New Hampshire to hae a shot at this huge upset. He needs a Hail Mary or a Clinton implosion, either of which is possible.

Good News Friday: A doctor in Nepal cures blind people with a $50 operation. A 94-year-old man plays ice hockey, really well. And the “Finding Dory” trailer looks fabulous


And a Happy Friday to you all; mine would be a lot happier if the Jets hadn’t played so godawful last night, playing like dogs for a few quarters, making a furious comeback, getting in a position to steal a win, and then blowing it with horrific play-calling straight out of the Paul Hackett era. And then having to watch a celebratory Rex bleepin’ Ryan curse up a blue streak in celebration was delightful. I hate the Jets, I really hate them.

OK, rant over. No time to feel glum; too much good stuff to share. First up, one of the reasons I love the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof so much is because he shows you how even a little bit of money, in the right place, can have a huge impact on lives.

Kristof this week brought us the story of a remarkable doctor in Nepal named Sanduk Ruit, who has, and this is not a typo, given blind people the power of sight 100,000 times.

That’s right: The man has done more than 100,000 eye surgeries on blind people. That’s believed to be the record for one single person.

In this story, Kristof goes to Nepal and watches Ruit perform cataract surgery, using a technique that is now being learned in the United States. The best part is that this surgery costs $25 per patient, and takes five minutes. Five minutes!

“If we can do it in Nepal,” Ruit said, “we can do it anywhere.”

Look at the face of that woman above, who’s just been the power sight. of sight. That is as true and pure a look of joy as you will ever see.

**Next up today, a story I couldn’t believe the first time I saw it, and still can’t. This is from a few weeks back on “CBS Sunday Morning,” and it’s a Steve Hartman special if I ever saw one.

Steve found a 94-year-old hockey player named Mark Sertich, still playing while just six years short of a century. Mark plays all the time, has the coolest handlebar mustache this side of Rollie Fingers, and sounds like a wonderful guy.

This man plays ice hockey, full pads and all, 3-4 days per week. At 94! Sertich has been playing for 85 years. You know how many slapshots, bodychecks and goalie saves he’s seen in his life? Me neither, but it’s higher than I can count.

If this man doesn’t inspire you to go run a lap or two, nothing will. What an awesome outlook on life.

**Finally today, “Finding Nemo” might be my favorite animated movie ever. “Shrek” is amazing, and so is “Up,” but “Finding Nemo” gets me in the heart every single time I’ve seen it (and I’ve seen it at least a dozen times.)

For reasons I can’t quite fathom, it’s taken Pixar more than a decade to come up with a sequel to the fabulous flick. But finally at long last, “Finding Dory” is almost here.

It’s out next summer, but the trailer was released Wednesday, and I couldn’t stop smiling while watching it.

As a bonus, here’s an Ellen DeGeneres clip (she’s the voice of Dory, remember!) from this week that definitely qualifies as Good News. Ms. Beasley, I’m coming to New Orleans to eat at that truck…

The death of a neighborhood supermarket (ours). The announcer who fell asleep on the air. And John Oliver, brilliant again on prisoner re-integration


They are the tentpoles of every neighborhood that makes it unique, that tell you exactly where you are in the world.

I don’t care what neighborhood you live in, you know what I’m talking about. The pizza place with the employees watching some European soccer game on TV while flipping your pies. The dry cleaners, with plastic bags billowing everywhere. The electronics store, with the eager young employees trying to sell you the latest gadget.

And of course, we all have a neighborhood supermarket. It’s a place we visit all the time, and we know its aisles like the back of our hand. We stroll through at least once a week, smile at the cashiers, thank the deli counter woman for giving you a free tasting slice of the new ham, and then go on our way.

The neighborhood supermarket is always there, dependable no matter what you need. It becomes part of the fabric of your life.

Until one day, you walk in and the shelves look half-empty, there’s hardly any milk or juice available, and you ask one of the regular workers whose face you see all the time what’s up.

“We’re closing,” he said. “Mid-November at the latest.”

This just happened in our neighborhood, and I can assure you my wife and I aren’t the only ones crushed.

The Food Emporium under the 59th Street bridge in New York City, hard by the corner of 1st Avenue, may not look like much to you, even though its location makes it visually stunning to glance at.
To us in the neighborhood, it was special. For one thing, it was so much bigger than most Manhattan markets (I just looked it up and it is 35,000 square feet!), with wide aisles and much bigger selection than any other market in the boro I’ve been to. (Also, the echo you hear in the store from the bridge is awesome)

For another, it’s where we knew everyone, and they knew us. My man Robert behind the hot prepared foods counter would always smile at my son in his stroller, and then toss an extra grilled chicken breast, free of charge, into my order.
There were the identical twin adult women working the register; one day they worked side by side and totally freaked my wife out. They were always smiling, always happy to answer questions.

I’ll even miss the monosyllabic guy at the sushi and fish counter, who always moved things around just a little bit so you’d be confused looking for the salmon.

These people help make up the daily bread of my life, and in a few days they’ll all be out of a job. Food Emporium’s parent, A&P, filed for bankruptcy, and is closing several of its NYC stores.

We’d heard rumors, but nothing was confirmed. Now it’s official and so sad; I walked in on Monday since everything was 50 percent off and found a practically empty place.

Robert behind the counter was gone, and the twins weren’t there, either.

The beat of the neighborhood goes on, but it’s a little sadder, emptier place now.

**Next up, I’ve written a lot about prisoner rehabilitation and re-integration issues on the blog, because it’s an issue I feel deeply about. How shabbily we treat those who come out of prison is a national disgrace, and John Oliver has been the best person on TV highlighting everything wrong with our criminal justice system.

This week he nailed it again with a great, moving story on how poorly those who are released from penitentiaries are re-integrated into society. It’s a 17-minute piece, but it’s fantastic, especially if you can hang in until the end, when we meet Bilal for a live in-studio interview. Just listen to this man, and tell me people can’t change.

Fabulous stuff.

**Finally today, we all know sports announcers have to sometimes call boring games, or call games at crazy hours of the night because the viewers back home in another time zone are watching.

So let’s just all have a chuckle and then forgive Chinese sportscaster Dong Lu, who while commentating on a Real Madrid vs. Paris Saint-Germain match last week, in the wee hours of the morning (China time), kinda sorta dozed off.

Listen for the snoring, it’s kinda hard to miss.

Poor guy. I could make A LOT of jokes here about falling asleep and the incredibly slow pace of soccer, but I won’t.

More Red Bull and coffee next time, Dong.


A fantastic piece on domestic violence and the NFL’s cowardice. The Jets and Giants both win ugly. And black athletes at Missouri make a brave stand against racial intolerance

Three stories to share with you this Monday autumn day that all, technically, involve football, but don’t go away if you hate the sport, because really, two of them have very little to do with America’s fall sports obsession.

Stick with me, you’ll see what I mean.

First up, you may be familiar with the despicable human being called Greg Hardy of the Dallas Cowboys, who despite being convicted on domestic violence charges last year, has returned from suspension, showed absolutely zero remorse toward his victim, and is being celebrated by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and many others for his skill at sacking the quarterback.

Friday the website published exclusive photos of the violence inflicted upon Hardy’s ex-girlfriend Nicole Holder (one of the pics is above), and suddenly there was outrage on the Internet. Because, you know, what, before this people had no idea what domestic violence looked like?

Anyway, blowhard Jones rejected calls from media and fans that Hardy be cut or suspended, spewing some bullshit spiel about “second chances.”

Jennifer Floyd Engel, writing for The Sporting News, wrote a column on Hardy that is the most powerful, and maybe best thing I’ve ever read about the NFL and domestic violence. Engel argues that Hardy should be forced to remain a Cowboy, and not be suspended, so everyone can see what the NFL is willing to tolerate.

An excerpt:

They signed Hardy, let him play again, giggled at the tone-deaf and sexist idiocy he delivered at his first opportunity to address the domestic violence charges he bought his way out of, defended him after he physically went after a coach, called him a real leader and talked of re-signing him.

They did this because he is a defensive beast and because they did not care and because no pictures had surfaced to give them 457 public relations reasons to pretend to care.

No, the NFL should be forced to wear Hardy like Holder did her bruises and scars.

Until they fade but the memory remains.

The whole column is outstanding, please take a few minutes and read it (the ending just hit me like a punch in the face). Chilling, dead-on accurate, and forcefully told.

The NFL ought to be embarrassed a schmuck like Hardy is celebrated and embraced. As should we be as fans of this product.


**Next up, a potentially huge development in college sports, racial tolerance on college campus, and the NCAA having to deal with a large athletic labor force unwilling to just go along and get along occurred Saturday night.

After months of racial incidents and protests that have roiled the University of Missouri campus, the football team took an extraordinary step Saturday night: The African-Americans (2/3 of the team, as usual in college football) on the squad released a statement saying they will no longer take part in any football activities until school president Tim Wolfe resigns.

No games, no practices, nothing. They did this with the full support of their coaches. If they stay firm on this, this decision by the Tigers team will cost the school millions and millions in lost revenue.

Now, there is A LOT of backstory to this at Mizzou, and if you’re interested, I recommend reading this great timeline of events from Mizzou’s school newspaper, the Maneater,  or this recap as well from the Columbia Missourian newspaper.

This goes well beyond football. At nearly every Division I school, football coaches and players have the most leverage and power. By choosing to use it this way to stand up to intolerance, the Missouri team may be setting a fantastic new precedent. This will be fascinating to watch; stay tuned.

The always-perceptive Dave Zirin has a terrific column on what this all means.

Monday afternoon UPDATE: Well, that was fast. President Tim Wolfe announced his resignation Monday morning, effective immediately. Anyone out there doubt football is king?



**And finally, to the action on the field I watched on Sunday. Ugly wins for my Jets and that “other” New York team, the Giants. My green and white men tried really hard to lose to lowly Jacksonville, but Ryan Fitzpatrick made enough plays, and the Jaguars committed enough turnovers, and somehow the Jets escaped with a win.

Next up? Old friend Rex Ryan and Buffalo come to town Thursday night, if the Jets have enough healthy bodies to play. Bears repeating, though I’ve said it before: It is beyond ridiculous that the NFL makes these players play Thursday night games, four days after playing another game. It is laughable that the NFL says it cares about player safety, yet makes these players smash into each other again 96 hours after a game, all in pursuit of more TV money.

— The hell happened to the Atlanta Falcons? Three weeks ago they were 6-0 and rolling. Now they just lost to the horrible 49ers and backup QB Blaine Gabbert.

— Watched some of that Raiders-Steelers classic Sunday; man, that was great back and forth action, like a matchup from those two teams when they were great in the ’70s.

— Finally, I threw this out on Twitter: Whatever happened to barefoot kickers? Used to be half the league had them, now I barely see any. Rich Karlis (above), I miss you so.

A new edition of “The Daddy Files,” featuring my son walking, throwing phones into hampers, and causing other delightful mayhem. And the assistant principal who boogies at morning dropoff


And a Happy Friday to everyone out there on the Interwebs. It’s been a few months since I’ve written a “Daddy Files”, and as everyone knows, babies change a whole lot in a few months.

So lots to catch up on, if you’ll indulge me…

— So his first “real” Halloween (Nate was only 6 weeks old last Oct. 31) was a bit of an “eh” holiday for him. Over the course of the past year people had given us/bought us a few different costumes, including a robot and a giraffe (above).

On the big day, we took him trick or treating in our apartment building and he wasn’t really into it. When kind people would give him candy, he’d hand it right back to them. I told them that’s normal, he’s always handing stuff to us.

As my friend Ali (mom of 2 boys) pointed out, parents really score when the kid is too young to eat the Halloween candy. My stomach can confirm this!

— So the big news since my last “Daddy Files” when he turned 1 is that he’s walking by himself now. He started a week or two after his birthday and man, people were right when they told me everything would change once he was mobile. He sneaks up on me so much faster now, he falls a lot more (mostly because he’s walking too fast and trips on a rug or something), and he’s getting a lot more exercise. We started him on a My Gym class and in addition to the stair-climbing and ball-pit fun, he’s napping a lot better on those days.

— Also, with the walking? He can reach everything. It’s not just him emptying all of his clothes out of his drawers, then having me walk in and he gets this “Daddy I have NO idea how that happened!” look on his face. Every day I have to move something else that I didn’t think he could reach.


— I swear I wish I could figure out what he’s laughing at half the time. For example: When Nate was born we were given these two stools with his name on them spelled out in small blocks, and he loves to take the blocks out and play with them. So a few weeks ago we noticed a bunch of them were missing, and we couldn’t find them anywhere.
Then while playing with the boy on a Saturday, my wife opened one of his bigger toys and found like seven of his blocks in there. He giggled uproariously, and we wondered: Is he laughing because we found his secret hiding place, or is he laughing because he had forgotten he’d put them there and was happy to have them back?

— The transitioning to solid food thing isn’t going great. He loves his purees and pouches and will happily eat bread, and cheese, and small pieces of chicken. But at 14 months he still spits out a lot of the “grown-up food” we try to give him and we can’t quite shake the purees. Ah, all in due time.

— My clothes hamper rings on a regular basis now. Because my boy likes to take one of our cordless phones and put it in there. One time I had to dig through two days’ worth of pants and shirts to answer the phone.

Maybe that’s where it does belong?

–He waves at everyone on the street. Doesn’t matter if he’s in his stroller, or walking, or anywhere. I swear it’s like he’s the mayor of our block. And he gets this confused look on his face when people don’t wave back. In his mind, what could be more important?

**Finally today, I give you Gary Logan, an assistant principal at Woodrow Elementary School in Conway, Ark. He is the most enthusiastic morning drop-off faculty member in world history. He dances or sings every morning to try to make the students happy and smile, and most of the time, he accomplishes his mission.

Just check out this dude’s moves and try not to smile. You go, Mr. Logan. Shake that moneymaker.

“I don’t do bad days,” Logan says. “Every day is a good day.”

I love people like Gary Logan, taking a mundane activity filled with frowns and making it fun.