Daily Archives: August 14, 2014

Matt Taibbi’s blistering new book is fabulous. The best ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” you’re going to see. And Billy Joel serenades Christie Brinkley (again).

Ferguson

**Just got home and am watching some of the disgusting and disturbing video of the Ferguson, Mo. police firing on peaceful protesters, arresting journalists (and tear-gassing them, above), and turning the town into a military state. What country are we living in, again?

Long, long ago there used to be a great newspaper tradition of the “muckraking journalist,” guys like Upton Sinclair and Mike Wallace who would expose corruption, fraud and the incredible double standards that exists in the law between rich and poor, black and white, etc.

Matt Taibbi is probably the best “muckraker” working today; he has written incredible stories for “Rolling Stone” and other publications for years, and his latest book, “The Divide,” has been on the New York Times bestseller list for months.

I finally got around to reading it this week, and it is sensational. It made me angry, sad, made me laugh and shake my fist, sometimes all in the same paragraph. This is a really, really important book.

Taibbi takes on several different topics in the book, including the appalling behavior of the police when dealing with minorities, immigration laws and discrimination, and the 2008 financial crisis that saw so many financial institutions commit crimes, yet no one went to jail.

What runs through every section is the incredible divide between the haves and have nots, that the same crime committed by a Hispanic man in Los Angeles will be punished differently than if it’s committed by a while middle-class professional in Chicago. The world poor people live in and rich people live in isn’t even in the same universe anymore, Taibbi argues.

Using personal stories that will shock you (the most shocking one comes at the end, involving a white musician and police brutality) and make you think, Taibbi’s reporting is terrific, and he breaks down complex financial crimes so that even non-money whizzes can understand them (his work on the Fairfax financial scam is the best part of the book).

It’s appalling how certain groups are treated in America. I knew it was bad, I knew as a white middle-class guy I had it pretty good. But this book showed me just how very far we have to go to achieve any sort of justice and equality for all.

You can buy “The Divide” here. Definitely recommend it.

 

**So this ALS Ice Bucket Challenge thing has gone viral super-fast; if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m guessing you haven’t been on the Internet this week, but a quick explanation: In a brilliant attempt to raise money and awareness of the awful disease (more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease), the ALS Association has gotten celebrities of all stripes to take the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” which consists of a person allowing another person to dump a Gatorade jug of ice and freezing cold water over their head.

Football players are doing it, actors are doing it, hell, some 9-year-old friend of my nephew’s at day camp did it too; the other part that keeps it going is that after you suffer the freezing cold, you challenge three other people to do it too.

This one I embedded above, though, has to be the coolest one yet; hockey player Paul Bissonnette on top of a mountain, getting glacier water poured on him, from a dude in a helicopter.  So great.

The ALS Foundation reports the challenge has raised more than $2 million already; if you would like to donate, please click here.

**Finally, it’s great to be Billy Joel sometimes. Last week the music icon was doing a concert at Madison Square Garden and spotted Christie Brinkley, his ex-wife and the woman about whom he wrote the song “Uptown Girl” back in the 1980s, sitting in the crowd.

So of course he then launched into “Uptown Girl” and had his video cameraman film her reaction (at the end you can see her). So, so cool.

And how the hell does Christie Brinkley still look so amazing at 60-plus?