Monthly Archives: July 2015

The pizza place that gives free slices to homeless people. A high school tennis player wins a title, 11 weeks after being shot. And praise almighty, LaGuardia will be improved!

And a happy, steamy Friday to you all out there in Internet-land. Three great stories for Good News Friday this week.

First, there’s a pizzeria in Philadelphia that deserves your love, and has been getting it. Rosa’s Pizza owner Mason Wortman sees homeless people on the streets around his shop all the time, and last year he decided he wanted to do something about it.

So he put up a sign asking customers to donate $1 when they order, and to use that money to buy slices of pizza for the hungry of their city.

Mason’s idea went viral, and 800,000 people shared it on the Web.

According to this story on, as of June 2015, Rosa’s has given away more than 23,000 slices of pizza, and is providing meals free of charge to up to 100 people on any given day.
What’s more, Rosa’s is hiring more employees thanks to his booming business, and he’s been great enough to hire through agencies that connect homeless people with jobs.

What a fantastic idea. I hope more pizzerias do this, because homelessness is a problem that’s not going away anytime soon.


**Next up, one of those sports stories that seems incredible, but is true. Mason Dragos was a star tennis player at Lexington High School in Indiana this past school year, and looked to be on his way to compete for a state singles title.

On March 14, near the start of the season, Dragos and his friends went to a local pizza joint on a Saturday night. While they were eating, a handgun sitting on the counter just a few feet from them went off.

Dragos was wounded when the bullet ricocheted off the pizza shop counter and hit him in the chest.

There was blood everywhere, of course, from his hands, where the bullet had sprayed pieces of granite countertop everywhere, to his arms and legs.

At the hospital later, Dragos’ father said doctors told him the bullet that hit his son was one inch away from his heart.

Mason Dragos made an incredible recovery; 11 weeks after the bullet hit him in the chest, he won a state tennis championship.

There’s gotta be a movie in that story, am I right?


**Of all the Good News Friday stories I’ve run over the past two years since I started this weekly feature, this one might bring me the most joy to report.

My feelings of hatred and contempt for LaGuardia Airport cannot be adequately put into words. My loathing for Walmart, Time Warner Cable, McDonald’s… those I have railed about for decades, and can rattle off reasons for my rage at them.

But LaGuardia, it’s just so awful, in so many ways. Dangerous for pilots, awful and congested for passengers, horrendously spread out and impossible to drive into, plus, I’ve literally never flown into and out of that dump with an on-time departure or arrival.

So it brought me immense joy this week to read that finally, finally!, the airport is getting a makeover. Thanks in part to my main man, Vice-President Joe Biden, who last year called LGA “a third-world country” (and frankly I think he was insulting third-world countries there), LaGuardia is getting a $4 billion makeover (see above for what it’ll look like).

New terminals! New ways to get there, like subway and rail stops so we don’t have to fight the traffic! And most importantly, longer runways and taxiways, so passengers’ lives aren’t in mortal danger everytime two planes try to land at the same time.

Seriously, this is so freaking exciting for NY’ers like myself. 2021 can’t get here soon enough.

The brilliant shower curtain that kicks you out if you’re wasting water. A man shaves his beard after 14 years, and his own father doesn’t recognize him. And a little girl channels Aretha Franklin


I’m not saying this invention is the solution to all the world’s problems. But it is pretty fabulous.

Out of the world of art comes this fabulous thing I read about this week on It’s by an artist named Elisabeth Buecher and it’s called “My Shower Curtain is a Green Warrior.”

The concept is to help save water.  And here’s how it works: It’s a shower curtain that looks like a normal shower curtain at first. But then after about 10 minutes, the spikes that are designed on the curtain inflate when it’s time to get out. The artist calls it a “design for pain and for our own good.”

Another design from the line is called “Trap” and inflates around the person showering after 4 minutes, trapping them. While these are not actually for sale, it does get us thinking about water.

I think it’s a fabulous idea, and this should totally be mass manufactured and marketed. At least in California.

Imagine the excitement of a shower, when you don’t know if, at any second, spikes will come out of your curtain! You go in to get clean, and a video game breaks out!

As they said in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” I’ve got vision, and the rest of the world’s wearing bifocals.

**Next up today, never in a million years would I think a man shaving his beard and then “meeting” his family again would be such compelling video.

But watch this: An Israeli ad agency filmed Amit, an Israeli man who had been growing a beard for 14 years, finally shave it all off and then go around surprising his family.

The whole thing is great, but my favorite part is at 1:40, when Amit meets his father… who thinks he’s a stranger in his store.

And finally, to put a smile on your face on humpday Wednesday, a little girl named Johanna doing a dance routine to Aretha Franklin.

Hell, she’s channeling Aretha. This video has been seen more than 18 million times in the past month. Only 4 of those were from me… So adorable.

The magic, music and technological wonder of my first live U2 concert. And as strange a triple play as you’ll ever see


I don’t have much of a music concert bucket list.

I’ve seen a lot of my favorites over the years, and can pretty much recall in specific detail some of the greatest performances I’ve seen and smile about them still (Tom Petty at the old Spectrum in Philadelphia was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen).

But a couple of years ago I realized that there were two giant holes in my concert resume: I’d never seen Bruce. And I’d never seen U2.

Well, bucket list completed. Saw Bruce in 2012, and Thursday night, at a frenetic, pulsating Madison Square Garden, I finally got to see the band that strongly influenced my teen years.

U2 is often hailed as the greatest live band in the world, and man oh man were they ever fantastic Thursday night. Lots of times in life we hype things up in our minds so much that when we actually experience the thing, it’s a letdown.

Thursday night was most definitely not a let down. Larry Mullen Jr., Adam Clayton, The Edge and an AIDS activist/world peace attempter/lead singer of an Irish rock band named Bono kicked serious rock and roll ass for 150 minutes.

Some thoughts on the show from my rocked-out brain, where three days later I’m still humming some of the songs I heard:

— First, they sounded great. But the look of the show was incredible. I’ve seen giant stages before, seen bands get up close to their fans, seen hi-tech video boards. I’ve never seen anything like the enormous “virtual reality”-like screens at this show (above photo). When Bono sang a few songs about his childhood, he literally disappeared into the board and “walked” down Cedarwood Road, where he lived as a kid. Throughout the show there were these incredible video montages (and even calling them “montages” doesn’t do them justice, they were like mini-movies) and they were mesmerizing.

— Thanks to age and his famous bike accident, Bono doesn’t run around and go nuts like he used to do. But damn if he still doesn’t have incredible stage presence. Even when he was not singing, just talking about huge breakthroughs in AIDS treatment or about his first girlfriend, he commanded the arena like few singers I’ve ever seen.

— Funniest thing to me Thursday was how Bono always called his lead guitarist “The Edge,” when talking to him, always making sure to put the “The” in there. He would say stuff like “The Edge, what should we do next?” Cracked me up every time. Like after all these years, you can’t just call him “Edge?”

— Waited 27 years to hear my all-time favorite U2 song, “With or Without You,” live. I first heard that song in 1988 and immediately went out and bought the record (“What’s a record, Grandpa?”) and listened to it at least 15 straight times on my stereo’s record player in my bedroom. Three decades later, it still moves me.

— There are lots of feelings I’d like to experience in my life still, and I hope I’ll feel most of them. But there are two I don’t think I’ll ever get to live out, and I have long thought about and desired them, and saw Bono enjoy both on Thursday night.
First, I would kill to find out what it’s like to walk out on stage, look out on 20,000 people, and hear all of them screaming in excitement for you. Just because they love your music, know you’re about to make them happy, and are so damn excited to see you. God, that’s got to feel great.

The other feeling, related to that one, Bono got to experience during the final song of the encore. As the band started to play “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” Bono held the mic up to the MSG crowd and let us sing the first two verses of that classic. To hear 20,000 people belting out a song they know by heart, belting out your song back to you? Got to be incredible.

— A kid in the row behind us who looked to be around 8 years old was there with his obviously super-cool parents. The kid was rocking out hard to every song until about 9:45 p.m., an hour into the show, when I looked back and saw him passed out in his chair. Party hard, man, party hard.

**Finally today, two baseball things to pass on. First, Pedro Martinez, who I believe is the greatest pitcher I’ve ever seen in my lifetime (apologies to Messrs. Maddux and Clemens), gave a wonderful Hall of Fame speech in Cooperstown Sunday; check it out here. Second, check out this crazy strange play in baseball Sunday that hadn’t happened since 1955. It was a triple play turned by the Seattle Mariners against Toronto, but it was a 3-6-2 triple play. Two of the three outs were made at 3rd base, and the Mariners’ third baseman never touched teh ball.

Hard to do. Pretty horrendous base-running. I love how clueless and helpless Toronto’s third-base coach looked here; I’m pretty sure the Bad News Bears wouldn’t have looked this bad, even with Engleberg and Lupus running.

Good News Friday: Rod Stewart and James Corden give you 9 minutes of joy. A fantastic California program that helps parolees on their first day out. And John Cena makes a boy’s dreams come true

And a Happy Friday to all of my readers. Hope the weather is as gorgeous where you are as it has been in New York this week.

Three great stories/videos for you heading into another great summer weekend. First, I’ve talked before about how great James Corden has been in these “Carpool Karaoke” skits of his, where he takes a famous singer, talks to them and karaokes with them to their favorite music, while driving in L.A.

This is probably my favorite one so far, not just because I love Rod Stewart. Here, in between songs, the legendary crooner with the still-awesome hair talks about how many people you can fit into a hotel room, why his old band, Faces, used to smash up those hotel rooms, and what the secret to a happy rock and roll life is.

“A-drinkin’ and a-shaggin,” Rod says.

“A-drinkin’ and a-shaggin,” that’s what it’s all about. I’ve found my new motto. Enjoy.


**Next up, this is the best thing I’ve read in weeks, and is such a smart idea that it really ought to be implemented nationwide.

Jon Mooallem in last Sunday’s NYT Magazine tells the story of Roby and Carlos, two former prison inmates who have made it their mission to help parolees adjust to the outside world again, literally from the moment they are released.

A group at Stanford called the Three Strikes Project, which helps file petitions to help free prisoners who, once the three strikes law was overturned in 2012, contacted the Los Angeles-based Anti-Recidivism Coalition, and together they hire men like Roby and Carlos to pick up new parolees and literally lead them through the confusing new world. They take them to convenience stores, to Target to buy clothes, set them up with an apartment and give them some spending money.

This story gives us the first few hours of a man named Dale Hammock, freed after 21 years, and just how bewildering the world is to him.

So many of these men and women, locked up for so long, are almost helpless in the outside world, and yet our government does very little to re-acclimate them.
This story is truly a dizzying look at what it’s really like when you’re suddenly “free,” and there are some hilarious lines in it, like when Roby complains about traffic, he says to Dale, “You see that, I’m complaining about traffic. You know what that’s called? Free person problems.”

The whole story is great; I wish this program was expanded to every state.

** Finally today, I don’t particularly like pro wrestling anymore, and when I researched my big opus for Maxim magazine a few years back on the Chris Benoit murder/suicide, I heard quite a few things about John Cena from other wrestlers that didn’t make him sound so good.

But I have to give credit where credit is due; the WWE does a ton of wonderful work with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Cena is at the forefront of that. ESPN did a great piece this week on John Cena and a little boy named Kenneth Harmon, and if it doesn’t make you tear up just a little, well, then I’d check your pulse to make sure you’re still alive.

Great stuff…

“Masters of Sex” is back, and still great. Why parents don’t get anything done, explained in 80 seconds. And Denis Leary’s new show? Eh, not so hot.


The show I think is the second best on TV these days is back on Showtime, and two episodes in, I’m totally overwhelmed and once again hooked in deep.

“Masters of Sex” is, if you don’t know, a wonderful hour-long drama about the real-life groundbreaking sexual research partnership between Dr. Bill Masters and Virginia Johnson in the 1950s and ’60s, starring Michael Sheen and Lizzie Caplan.

The show was fantastic in season 1, dipped a little in season 2, and has been stellar so far in season 3. SPOILER ALERT, IF YOU’RE A FAN OF THE SHOW AND HAVEN’T WATCHED THE FIRST 2 EPISODES THIS YEAR, SCROLL DOWN TO THE VIDEO.

So in Season 3 we’ve skipped ahead to 1965, with Masters and Johnson finally about to publish their first book after 12 years of research together. But of course, it’s not going smoothly. Virginia’s pregnant by her louse of an ex-husband, Bill’s wife Libby is finally getting more to do and asserting herself all the while knowing Bill and Virginia are shtupping, and all the kids on the show pretty much hate their parents.

This week’s episode was particularly awesome, though totally overloaded with plot (it’s the first time I’ve seen a TV show cover an entire pregnancy in an hour). It reminded me of an old “Big Love” episode where 15 things would happen in an hour and you had no idea what was really a big deal.

Any scene with Sheen in it is pretty terrific, and when he finally showed some human emotion and feelings in the hospital room with Virginia, it was a magical moment, one of the best “Masters of Sex” has ever done.
There are so many ways the show can go from here, and they’ve been jumping ahead in time so much already that I couldn’t possibly predict what’ll happen.

Which is exactly what you want in a show. The acting is great, the writing usually sharp, and the subject material is fascinating.

So happy “Masters of Sex” is back.

**Next up today, this short video made me laugh out loud, because this is basically my life now. It’s from a group called “Story of Life,” and it’s titled “Why Moms get nothing done.”

My guy has just discovered how to open and close drawers, and yes, he now removes his clothing randomly when I’m putting other clothes away. It’s delightful.


**Finally today, I’m a pretty huge Denis Leary fan. Longtime readers may remember that I used to praise his last TV show, the transcendently great “Rescue Me” regularly in this space. I loved his stand-up comedy routines, I think he’s a terrific writer, and will watch anything he puts out.

But man, the last two TV shows he’s done have been really piss-poor. His most recent one I had high hopes for: “Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll,” Thursdays on FX, starring Leary and John Corbett as aging rock stars from the early 90’s reuniting thanks to the efforts of a hot 20-something aspiring singer who is the daughter Leary’s character Johnny never knew he had.

I’ve watched the first two episodes, and the show just stinks. The writing is lazy, Corbett, who’s almost always great (hell, his voiceover work is so good he almost makes me want to eat at Applebee’s) looks like he’s mailing it in, and the pilot episode had so much profanity in one scene even I was like “Enough already!”

It’s too bad, because the premise of the show isn’t half-bad. But I’d definitely take a pass on this one, even though you can get lost staring at Leary’s great hair here.

A weekend in Sag Harbor features stairs, relaxation and scary driving. The pro surfer who encountered a shark Sunday. And more disgusting Bill Cosby revelations, can he sink any lower?

Sag Harbor, New York.  Photograph taken July 26, 2011.

I grew up on Long Island but rarely went out to the Hamptons, which is usually the first place non-New Yorkers think about when they hear “Long Island” (well, it was “Amy Fisher” for a while, too, but thank God that faded quickly.)

It just wasn’t something my family did; none of our friends had second homes out there, and it always seemed to me to be another state, practically.

But since moving back a few years ago I’ve been out here a few times; as I type this my wife, baby son and I are in Sag Harbor for a relaxing weekend “mini-vacation.” My bride’s uncle has a house here and he was extremely generous in allowing us to use it this weekend while he was out visiting colleges with his daughter.

So as always when I go places that are “foreign” to me, I’ve been taking mental notes all weekend, so here’s my usual “emptying of my head.”

— Sag Harbor is a very cool town; if you’re not familiar with it, think of it as a lower-key, off-brand Hamptons: Fewer crowds, fewer people “there just to be seen,” and a quieter vibe. It reminds me a little of Saratoga Springs, my beloved former stomping grounds in upstate New York. Lots of cool shops, great seafood restaurants (had a fabulous piece of Swordfish Saturday night at a place called the Dockside Bar), and lots of homemade ice cream shops.

— Driving around here, though, is a sometimes-scary adventure. Maybe I’m too used to city living, but between the frequent traffic circles and the pedestrians just kind of strolling wherever they want, I swear I almost had three accidents this weekend. Then there are the isolated streets with a double solid white line, where you pull up, expecting there to be a stop sign, there isn’t, but someone’s coming at you in the other direction and you have that three seconds of “are you going to turn, or do I go, or do we just sit here staring at each other?”

— Our 10-month-old discovered his new absolute favorite thing: Stairs. Living in Manhattan he’s never had the chance to crawl/climb anything like this, so at Shelley’s uncle’s house, with 12 hardwood floor steps leading to the upstairs, he was in baby heaven. He would climb up one, stand up, then look back at us like “Look what I did!” Then he’d do that for every stair. So cool to see the look of wonder on his face, with everything.

— I always am interested in cool boat names; so many of them are named “Ms.” something or other, probably because men do the naming. I saw a great one this weekend: “College Fund.”

I’m guessing one of that guy’s children is going to community college since Dad bought a boat. Or, the dude is planning to sell his yacht to pay for college. Either way, I laughed.


** So professional surfing can be a pretty dangerous sport, but I’m not sure this is part of what you expect. At a tournament over the weekend a surfer named Mick Fanning saw this while out in the water.

Pretty damn scary, huh? I think he should totally get extra points in the tournament for coming face-to-face with a shark like that.


**Finally today, a few words about one of America’s biggest disgraces, Dr. William H. Cosby. After reading this illuminating New York Times story Sunday, which quotes in great detail from a deposition Cosby gave in a rape lawsuit 10 years ago, I was trying to think of another American figure who was held in as universal high regard as Cosby, who sunk so low so fast in the public eye.
O.J. Simpson? Not sure he was ever as beloved as Cosby. Lance Armstrong? Allegations of cheating dogged him for years before it all finally came out and was no longer deniable by him; even at the height of Lance’s popularity there were many who were suspicious.

But Bill Cosby, America’s Dad? The man who single-handedly turned NBC around, who was as beloved a product pitchman and idol to so many up-and-coming comedians? How can any of us ever watch “The Cosby Show” again? A friend of mine was last week relating a comedy bit they loved and immediately threw in the disclaimer “There was this great Bill Cosby routine, you know, back when you could laugh at his jokes.”

I encourage you to read the NYT story for a bunch of reasons, but mainly to see just how shockingly cavalier Cosby is about drugging and raping women. It’ll be a crying shame if he never does any jail time for what he did, to dozens of ladies over the years (the woman in the NYT story, Andrea Constand, was 19 years old when Cosby seduced her. Nineteen!).

What a despicable, disgraceful person. He deserves to die a slow, lonely death. And be prosecuted for fraud by all of us.


Good News Friday: “Project Fatherhood” helps L.A. gang members become better Dads. Devon Still brings down the house with a moving speech. And the sleeping bag that saves babies’ lives



And a Happy Friday to you! While I slowly try to contemplate living in a world where the best freaking show on television, FX’s “The Americans” AGAIN got snubbed by the stupid Emmy voters (though I was thrilled “Transparent” and “Kimmy Schmidt” and “Better Call Saul” got recognized), I bring you three stories of goodness and joy for Good News Friday.

The first story was one of those NPR pieces that they used to call “Driveway Moments,” the kind of gripping tale that made you stay in your home driveway for a few more minutes because, even though you were steps away from being in your house, you had to hear the end of the story.

This was a Fresh Air Terry Gross interview with a sociologist from UCLA named Jorga Leap and a former L.A. gang member named Michael Cummings were on talking about “Project Fatherhood,” a fantastic five-year-old initiative that’s turning lives around in Watts, California, one of the most dangerous and depressed areas in America.

What “Project Fatherhood” does is take inner-city Watts gang members or ex-gang members who have children and teach them, one step at a time, how to be a better parent. Many of these men had no male role models at all as kids, which is one of the reasons their lives went toward criminal behavior.

Led by Cummings, a reformed gang member who’s now a church pastor, and Dr. Leap, the group meets regularly for intense, sometimes emotional conversations about when or when it’s not appropriate to discipline their child, how to make breakthroughs in communication, and the chronic pressures of unemployment and poverty in a place where the jobless rate for men is as high as 50 percent.

There are small incentives for the men; if they go to four meetings, they get a $25 gift card to a restaurant that they have to spend on an outing with their son.

It’s a fantastic program; after hearing the interview I did some research on the group and they’re having tremendous success re-connecting fathers with their kids. Check out their website here.

**Speaking of fathers, how about Devon Still? He’s the Cincinnati Bengals football player whose little daughter Leah was dying of cancer last season, and because the Bengals showed some class, they kept Still, a marginal talent, on the roster so he could receive excellent health insurance for his child.

Leah Still is doing better now, and Devon stood up at the ESPYs Wednesday night and gave a beautiful, touching speech, thanking so many for letting him tell his story (seriously, he even thanked the media, and no one does that anymore). It’s a heartfelt speech featuring a great surprise at the end.

What a class act Devon Still is.

**Finally today, a fantastic invention is saving the lives of babies. It’s called an Embrace infant warmer, and it’s being used in developing countries to allow newborns to regulate their own body temperatures in the crucial early moments of life.

It was developed by Stanford MBA’s, and provides the same results as an incubator, but for one percent of the cost. And according to this story on, it could help more than 20 million (20 million!) premature and underweight babies each year.

Fantastic stuff.


The craziest way to avoid airline baggage fees you’ve ever heard. Baby poop faces, in glorious slow motion. And the mascot who pretended to bite a woman gets sued

We begin today with the tale of a man who really, really hates paying baggage fees while flying.

I mean, we all hate them. But I doubt many of us would go to the extremes that this boy band singer from Scotland went to the other day.

I mean, if this isn’t in the stupid Hall of Fame, it’s at least getting a nomination.
James McElvar, 19, is in the Scottish boy band Rewind. He was checking in for a flight and was told he had too many bags, and that he’d have to pay a 45 Euro fee to check one of his bags.

Adamant that he would not do this, no sir, he threw 12 layers of clothes on the counter. He then proceeded to put on six T-shirts, five sweaters, three pairs of jeans, two layers of jogging pants, two jackets and two hats, thereby emptying one bag.

He then got on the plane. And passed out.

Lucky for this moron, an off-duty paramedic dressed in a normal amount of clothing was also on the flight and treated him, and he’s apparently fine now. Seriously, I hope all the rest of the passengers on the plane mocked him mercilessly.

I bet Justin Bieber doesn’t have these problems… what an idiot.

**Next up, this was hilarious to me, and probably will be to you if you’ve ever had kids.
Pampers has decided to make a slow-motion commercial, set to the famous “Thus Spake Zarathrusta” classical music piece, of the different faces babies make during pooping.

Even accepting that everything seems cooler in slo-mo (that’s why NFL Films videos are so popular), this video is awesome.


**Finally today, I haven’t written about Adventures in Sports Mascots in a while, not because there haven’t been stories there but because dammit, I’m not looking hard enough to find them!

But I heard about this on “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me” this week and I think it’s fabulous, and utterly ridiculous. A Florida woman is suing the Miami Marlins for unspecified damages after experiencing “trauma” at a 2013 game.

Seems Bob the Shark (above), the Marlins’ mascot (why the Marlins mascot isn’t a, you know, MARLIN is unclear) was playing around with some fans when he pretended to eat the head of Beth Fedornak.

Seems funny and harmless enough, right? But poor Bob the Shark is being sued for causing head and neck injuries to the tune of $86,000 to Fedornak.

I’m not going to flat out say this is a bogus lawsuit, but come on now. A mascot pretends to “bite” off a woman’s head, and she gets head trauma? Sounds very unlikely to me. Look at Bob’s head, for goodness sakes.

Poor Bob. Maybe from now on he should stick to just eating chum. Or, you know, the Tampa Bay Rays. I hear they’re tasty.

Saluting 3 worthy Wimbledon champions: Djokovic, Serena, and Opelka. And R.I.P. Robin Colcord and Lord John Marbury


It’s the Monday after Wimbledon, which always makes me a little sad, because it means my favorite tennis tournament in the world has ended for another year.

But I’m not sad today. I’m actually thrilled, because these last two weeks have given us tennis nuts so much magnificence.  Some of it we expected, some of it we most certainly did not (I’ll get to that in a minute).

Today on the blog, a few words about three extremely worthy champions.

First, Novak Djokovic. I was, as usual, pulling with all my heart for Roger Federer to win another Grand Slam title on Sunday, and I really thought he could do it. He played one of the best matches of his life in Friday’s semifinals, and I thought if he could come close to duplicating that, he’d have a real shot at Wimbledon title No. 8.

But Novak Djokovic, who doesn’t inspire nearly the passionate fan base as Roger or Rafa Nadal, just keeps winning anyway. He’s too good, too impenetrable at the baseline, and too clutch in the key moments. He and Federer played two of the best sets of tennis you’ll see Sunday, before Djokovic raised his game to another level and won the match in four sets.

He’s a tremendous sportsman, a class act on and off the court, and still very much in his prime. He’s likely to continue leading this incredible era of men’s tennis for years to come. And the Swiss guy ain’t done yet.


**Serena Williams has never been nor will she ever be a favorite of mine; I’ve made that clear many times in this space over the years. But what she’s doing these last 12 months is beyond ridiculous, it’s just silly. Four straight major titles, including the first three this year. She wins when she’s playing poorly, she wins when she’s playing great. She’s winning some matches in a breeze, others she has to gut out by the skin of her teeth.

She is an incredible athlete, the best female athlete of her generation, and I must admit her attitude and off-court actions have improved quite a bit in recent years. She is an admirable player who has taken her sport to a new level that others cannot yet reach, and isn’t that the greatest legacy someone can leave?


**Finally, the third champion I want to write about is one I’m much more personally connected to than Novak and Serena. I’ve written about Reilly Opelka since he was 12 years old, when while working at the Daytona Beach News-Journal I went out to his house in Palm Coast, Fla. and hit with him and watched him play.

He’s grown more than a foot since then, to 6-foot-10, and gotten five years older. But he’s still the same kinda goofy kid with deep humility and respect for others, and a low-key demeanor that almost borders on catatonic sometimes.
Except now, he’s a freaking Wimbledon champion. In a week no one saw coming, least of all him, Opelka won the junior boys singles title Sunday, his first-ever Grand Slam title and becoming the first tennis major champion from his hometown.

I was along for the ride “virtually” all week, watching Opelka’s matches on the Internet, interviewing him each day for my part-time writing gig at (his town’s best news source/website), and marveling at how this kid who has gotten zero of the hype accorded other U.S. prospects showed he’s every bit the potential star they are.

One of my favorite things about being a sportswriter was watching a kid grow up and mature athletically right before your eyes; I felt more than a little pride Sunday that the little boy I first met became this enormous champion.

Djokovic. Serena. Opelka. Worthy title winners, all.

**Finally today, one of my favorite character actors from the last 30 years on TV died over the weekend. Roger Rees, who so perfectly played Kirstie Alley’s billionaire boyfriend Robin Colcord, and then showed a terrific comedy touch as Lord John Marbury on “The West Wing” died on Saturday.

He was 71 and an accomplished Broadway actor. But to me, he’ll always be Marbury, the loony but brilliant political ambassador who the Bartlet administration called on from time to time.

This is one great scene of his, but he had so many more.

Good News Friday: Finally, South Carolina brings the Confederate flag down. Awesome views of NYC from the air. And a boy dunks on a toy rim with hilarious results

It took way too much.

It took the massacre of innocent African-American adults, sitting quietly and peacefully in a church, by a racist young white man.

Decades of protest, decades of pleading, decades of appeal to reason and sensitivity didn’t bring the Confederate flag down from the Capitol dome in South Carolina.

But now, finally, that symbol of the South that is offensive to so many, is gonna fall.

And that’s why today is a good day. It’s horrible that it took something so tragic to finally remove a symbol so wrong, but at least it’s coming down.

If you haven’t seen Jenny Horne, a South Carolina state legislator, make an impassioned plea to remove the flag, I urge you to watch this: it’s three minutes of raw emotion and passion, and it’s beautiful:

Today is a good day. The flag’s coming down. Good wins over evil. One small step at a time, this country’s making progress.


**Next up, you know I love great photography, and I love New York City, so when I saw this from The Guardian newspaper on Twitter the other day, I was totally going to blog about it.

Photographer Jeffrey Milstein’s specialty is capturing cities using hi-resolution camera equipment from a helicopter’s open door.

Not exactly the safest way to make a living, I don’t think, but these pictures of New York are spectacular. The one above is Times Square, but at this link you can see the Met museum, the Statue of Liberty, and some other great NYC landmarks.

So cool.

**Finally today, a little “behind the curtain” discussion between the wife and I about this next video, and whether it’s Good News Friday worthy:

Me: Watch this for a minute, I want to put it on Good News Friday
Wife (laughing hysterically): You can’t! How is this good news?
Me: It’s funny! It’ll make people smile at the end of a long week.
Wife: You can only run it if you find out the kid was OK.
Me: (after two minutes googling “Kid dies from toy backboard injury” and finding nothing): HE WAS FINE!

Seriously, try to watch this only once. You can’t. And it’s so much better with the sound.

It’s so great. And I’m pretty sure he was fine.