Monthly Archives: November 2018

Good News Friday: One town in Ohio sees a big drop in opioid overdose deaths. The little girl who just wanted to hug strangers. And a husband’s beautiful story on living, and caring for a sick spouse

Hey all, always like to provide updates that drastically change how I feel about something I wrote here. So you may remember I wrote recently about this burger place in Portland that a critic named the “best burger in America”, only to see the restaurant have to close down less than a year later.

Well, it turns out there’s more to the story, and Oregon-based Willamette Week has the greater context for why Stanich’s restaurant closed. Check it out.

Happy Friday, y’all! As I contemplate how it could be only Nov. 29 and I’m already sick of Christmas music in stores, I bring you stories of good cheer without any Santas or elves yet.

First up today, what I think is a hugely important development in the destruction of America’s cities thanks to the opioid crisis. There has been so little good news about it over the past decade that when there actually IS some positivity in this fight, it seems important to highlight it.

So I read with interest last week this New York Times story on Dayton, Ohio and how it has seen a significant reduction in overdose deaths from opioids.

As Abby Goodnough reports, there are a lot of causes for the reduction, including expanded Medicaid coverage in the state which means more $$$ for treatment; the fact that Narcan and Naloxone, drugs that help stop deaths after overdoses, are more available, and maybe the most important factor, there’s more help, again thanks to more money, for addicts after treatment has ended.

Now of course there’s more to do, and drug addiction in Ohio hasn’t disappeared. But finally, a combination of factors seems to have started to turn the tide.

Really excellent story here.

 

**Next up today, just a small slice of pure child joy, from an unnamed kid who went viral this week thanks to this Tweet. The little toddler just wanted to be friendly to everyone in her neighborhood supermarket, so she went around waving and hugging (Update: Turns out the kid’s name is Joelle Hicks, she was filmed by her Mom, Caitlin, and it was shot in 2016. But hey, it’s new to me.)

Just look at the pure delight on the face of the last woman the little girl hugs. Sometimes, a hug really is exactly what someone needs.

**Finally today, there are certain stories I come across that I expect to be great, either because of the publication they’re in, or because I’m familiar with the writer and I know he or she writes sensational stories.

But every once in a while a story totally exceeds my expectations, and that’s the happiest I get as a reader. Buried at the bottom of Jon Wertheim’s recent weekly SI.com tennis mailbag (yes I’m a tennis nerd but you knew that already) was a recommendation for this piece, by a writer named Alex Belth, from Men’s Health magazine.

In it, Belth writes movingly and intelligently about his life with Emily, who has severe Crohn’s Disease and has had multiple surgeries to make her symptoms lesson, with little success.

There’s nothing flashy or hugely dramatic in the story, it’s just a real-life slice of life caring for someone who can seem totally healthy one minute, but barely able to get out of bed the next. Here’s a little piece of the story:

Em can’t have children. She’s unable to conceive, and beyond that, doesn’t have the stamina to be a parent—which rules out adoption. It was a potential deal-breaker, and we dated five years before we got married, schlepping to couples therapy looking for answers. In time, she’ll feel better and change her mind, I thought, when actually it was me who had to accept that kids were not in our future.

You wish for love, but when it arrives, you never know how it will look. Kids or not, I love Em because I can be myself with her. She’s devoted, unwavering in her affection, forever cheerleading. I find her Post-its throughout the apartment—in the fridge or the medicine cabinet: “Morning handsome! I love my life with you!” We look at each other with curiosity and amusement because we have such different interests—she’s into neuroscience, sharks’ teeth, and photosynthesis; I’m into cooking, Buster Keaton, and the Yankees. (I used to think that kind of stuff—having the same taste—mattered. It doesn’t.) 
Above all, I was attracted to her fighting spirit. There is something reassuring about being with someone who is not going to freak out in a crisis, and Em is unafraid when things get tough, which they always do. She doesn’t like being sick, of course, but understands the nature of living with sickness. Like fame or good looks, you’d best not make too much of these things. You learn how to deal.

Really beautiful stuff; I highly, highly recommend reading the whole thing. The most powerful thing in the world? The love between two people.

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Two stories of America, 2018: Seventh-graders turned away from White House class trip because they weren’t born here. A powerful “60 Minutes” piece on what’s happening at the border. And Colbert hilariously teaches a millennial what a pay phone is

Every once in a while, I find it helpful, although occasionally disturbing, to take a step back from the all the madness of the Donald Trump White House and look at stories individually. Stories that remind us how completely out of whack things are in 2018, and how frightening and disturbing things have become.

So here are two stories that really hit me hard this week, and they’re both kinda, sorta related.

First, “60 Minutes” did a story looking at the disastrous child separation policy the Trump administration tried several months ago at the border, and its effect on a few families.

No matter what else happens in his Presidency, remember the look on the little boy, Immers’ face, and his mother’s face, toward the end of this Scott Pelley piece (at the 7:22 mark). These families, seeking asylum from their countries, saw children ripped from mothers and fathers, with no indication if, or when, they’d ever see them again.

So many infuriating things about this story, from the government saying “tell the ACLU to find” the separated parents, to the completely unpreparedness of the White House to implementing their policy. And the lies, the lies about the numbers of children involved…

Just horrendous.

**The other story that got me all riled up is on a smaller scale, but still infuriating. A 7th-grade class from Henry Hudson Regional School in Highlands, New Jersey, took a trip to Washington, D.C. with the hopes of participating in a guided tour of the White House. However, not all of the students were able to be a part of the tour.

According to a report from the New York Post, three students were barred from the tour and forced to wait outside while the rest of the class went ahead. The three students who were all from foreign countries, two hailing from Sweden and one from Colombia, did not have their passports or any other valid form of identification on their person during the visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

The report said that the school prepared the White House for the upcoming visit by sending in a list with the names of all the students and adults expected to take the tour, months in advance. But it seems one tiny detail was overlooked during this process.

Now… OK. The school should’ve made sure each child had the proper ID, no doubt.

But COME ON! These are 7th-grade kids, on a trip to the White House, and you’re going to make them stand outside just because they didn’t have their ID? Are you really worried about what two 12-year-olds from Sweden (hey Donald, they’re from a white country, you LOVE white countries!) and a 12-year-old from Colombia are going to do to the drapes and paintings inside?

Just ridiculous.

https://www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/trump-family-separation-policy-mexican-border-60-minutes-investigation-greater-in-number-than-trump-administration-admits/

**And finally today, a little bit of a palatte-cleanser. I am a Generation X’er who always enjoys segments like this. Stephen Colbert decided to take a millennial out on the street and explain pay phones to them, then asks her to use one.

The results are, of course, hilarious. (My favorite part is how fast the NYC pizza place can make that many pizzas!)

A television post: “This Is Us” is having its best season ever, with Vietnam as a backdrop. “Homecoming” is dark, mysterious and great. And Dylan joins Jimmy Fallon at the circus

Haven’t done a TV post in a while, but wanted to weigh in on two outstanding shows we’re currently watching.

First, when I heard that “This Is Us” was going to be doing a Vietnam storyline this season, with the dual pegs of us learning exactly what happened to Jack Pearson and his deceased brother in the war, and seeing son Kevin Pearson go over to Southeast Asia in the present to find out exactly what his father had been hiding all these years, I was dubious.

I mostly love the show, for it’s sharp writing and acting, but the Kevin character has always struck me as obnoxious, and Kate’s storylines tend to be so self-involved and one-note (her weight problem).

But then I read that Tim O’Brien was brought on as a writer for the Vietnam stuff, and I immediately got excited. For those who don’t know, O’Brien wrote maybe the best book ever about the Vietnam War, “The Things They Carried,” about his experiences as a soldier there. And I know if O’Brien was involved, they’d get the details and tone right.

And they absolutely, totally have. This has been the best season so far of “This Is Us,” and not just because the plot of Jack in the war in real-time has been so fantastic. We see Jack trying valiantly to keep his brother Nicky out of Vietnam in the first place, once his lottery number is drawn, and we get great backstory of how Jack always protected Nicky when they were kids.

But Nicky, on the way to draft-dodging his way to Canada, decides to go to Southeast Asia and of course things don’t go well. The acting and writing in these scenes have been fantastic.

The rest of the show has been very solid too; I’m enjoying seeing Beth struggle for the first time, and the Randall-running-for-Councilman storyline, while giving me some flashback nightmares to “Parenthood” Monica Braverman running for Berkeley mayor ridiculousness, has been interesting on the strength of the awesome actor Sterling Brown.

Even last week’s Thanksgiving episode, which was all over the place in storyline, was touching and emotional giving us glimpses of Miguel’s family and backstory.

“This Is Us” still has some problems, but it’s been incredibly strong this year.

**Next up, Jimmy Fallon does a fantastic Bob Dylan impersonation, but having the real guy on your show is always better. In this sweet, short skit, Dylan joins Fallon at a private performance of the the Big Apple Circus.

Odd but memorable, just like Mr. Dylan himself.

**Finally today, the other show we’re totally digging lately has been hyped by TV critics and friends of ours alike, the new Julia Roberts show on Amazon Prime, “Homecoming.”

It’s basically two different shows, kind of: In the “main” show, we see Roberts as a counselor/therapist in a Dept. of Defense program called Homecoming, which helps soldiers returning from war zones re-adjust and process everything they’ve been through, in a sterile, college dorm-like setting.

In the other show, we see Roberts four years later, as a waitress in her hometown struggling to remember or explain what she did while part of the program.

It’s not an easy show to watch, but it’s damn compelling (we’re about halfway through the 10-episode season) and I’m very curious to see where it goes. Stephan James is fascinating as Heidi Bergman’s (Roberts) patient Walter Cruz, and while he hasn’t gotten to say much, Shea Whigham’s investigator Tom has been very good, too.

Really well-shot, interesting show on Amazon. Very different role for Julia Roberts but she’s fantastic in it.

Good News Friday: My first-ever hosting of Thanksgiving was a success! The best hockey player in the world does something awesome for charity. And a Vietnamese chef in California’s heartwarming story of parental devotion

And a Happy Friday to you out there, sleeping off the L-tryptophan and wondering why you had that third piece of pecan pie (it was worth it). Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, didn’t argue politics at the table, and left the night happy and healthy. (That photo above is a giant balloon of Chase from “Paw Patrol” on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade broadcast, and if you don’t think that was BY FAR the favorite thing my 4-year-old saw Thursday, you don’t have a toddler. Man was he excited!)

Every Thanksgiving is special to me, because it’s my favorite holiday of the year. But this year was a little extra-special, because as I mentioned the other day, it was the first-time in my four-decades plus of life that I hosted a Thanksgiving dinner.

My amazing wife and I had 15 relatives over on Thursday, everybody made a dish, we got the turkey from Whole Foods (look, we could’ve tried to make the bird ourselves but for our first-ever hosting gig, we didn’t want to screw it up and send our loved ones home sick), and it was fabulous.

It has always seemed like such a grown-up thing to do, hosting Thanksgiving, and something I’ve always, always wanted to do. But growing up we always went to my aunt’s house, and over the years as an adult I’ve always found myself there, or at another relative, or at my mom and stepdad’s.

But this year, after we bought a house, I was determined to host. There’s something so warm about having people come to where you live and enjoy the holiday (plus for the first time I didn’t have to drive anywhere, which in NYC on Thanksgiving is a nightmare).

It was really a fabulous day, and for me, a dream realized.

**Next up, Connor McDavid is the greatest hockey player in the world, and more people would know who he is if he didn’t play all the way up in Edmonton, if his team was any good, and if hockey wasn’t the niche sport it is here in America.

But McDavid is a really amazing talent, and a great guy as well. Check out this story about him from a recent Edmonton Oilers’ charity night event, as recounted by ex-NHL’er and broadcaster Cam Connor.

At the Edmonton Oilers Gala last week, there was a fishing trip up for auction (in support of the Down Syndrome Society). Connor McDavid immediately bid $50,000 for the trip.

Connor’s bid obviously was the highest. He paid the $50,000 for the bid and promptly gave the trip back to the charity so someone else could bid and enjoy the trip, and the charity could make even more money.”

Very, very cool gesture. And as Cam concluded, “Hockey’s future is in great hands with stars like this.”

**Finally today, my friend Catherine Pearlman has written a tremendously beautiful story for the Today show website on a man she’s gotten to know named Dee Nguyen, a Vietnamese-American chef in California who had his life turned upside down when his son, Berlin, suffered a devastating accident during a surgery when he was only a year old. Berlin suffered a severe brain injury that rendered him quadriplegic with significant cognitive impairment.

Since then, Dee and his wife, Linh have had their whole lives turned upside down caring for Berlin, and this beautifully-told story shows just how far they’ve gone, and how much they have to do, to keep their son alive and healthy.

Catherine clearly spent hours with the family and adores them as much as you will after reading this story. Really inspirational stuff.

Happy Thanksgiving! My annual tribute to the holiday, starring “Cheers” and “The West Wing.” Another horrifying Trump story from the N.Y. Times on his abuse of power. And a soccer ref forgets the coin for the coin toss and improvises hilariously.

It’s Thanksgiving Eve, the night before my favorite holiday of the year, made extra-special in 2018 because for the first time ever we’re hosting the holiday in my home (don’t worry, I’m not cooking the turkey. Good chance our guests will live).

A couple of things I always like to highlight during Thanksgiving week, most especially my favorite TV Thanksgiving episode ever, the iconic “Cheers’ episode which leads to the foodfight at Carla’s house.

This never, ever fails to get me to crack up, and every time I watch it something else triggers me. Tonight it was at 2:23, Frasier’s face when the yams hit him. Just the shock and then indignation.

So, so good.

And then of course, maybe the funniest scene in “The West Wing” history, when President Bartlet calls the Butterball hotline for advice on cooking a turkey. “I think you made the second bacteria up” cracks me up every time.

**Next up today, another in a long, long line of frightening stories coming out about our current President. I don’t know why this one struck me as so, so bad, maybe because I read it a few hours after President Moron tied himself into knots trying to defend Saudi Arabia’s brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi, and Trump’s buddy the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Horrifying, lying and completely without disregard for the life of a journalist.

But not to be outdone by Trump’s disgraceful defense of this murder, comes this New York Times story saying that Trump wanted to order the Justice Department (sorry, “His” Justice Dept.) to investigate James Comey and Hillary Clinton, and was only stopped by White House Counsel Don McGahn, who told him if he did it he could be impeached.

So Trump didn’t order the investigation. But he wanted to. McGahn, oh by the way, no longer works at the White House.

I’m grateful that, like that anonymous op-ed writer said months ago (and hey, how did no one ever figure out who it was?) there are at least a few grownups in the White House to tell this lunatic “no.”

But I fear there are fewer and fewer of them, and after the midterm humiliation, Trump will get more and more vengeful and paranoid and evil. Pray for us all.

**And finally today, I’ve been meaning to write about this story for a week and have kept forgetting, so today I’m finally putting it out there because I think it’s fabulous.

So a soccer referee in England named David McNamara went out to officiate the coin toss before a Women’s Super League match a few weeks ago. Except when he got to midfield, he realized he’d forgotten to bring the coin from the locker room.

So he improvised: He told the two captains to play rock, paper, scissors to determine who got the ball first. They were stunned but of course followed orders, and it should have just been a funny little thing that a referee did, a bit of clever humor.

But no, it’s England and they take their football SO seriously there, so a torrent of criticism of McNamara from BBC Sport ensued, leading to McNamara being suspended for three weeks by the Football Association.

Absolutely ridiculous, considering everyone loves rock, paper, scissors, and the guy was just trying to get the game going.

Happily, hundreds of refs across the world have backed McNamara, and in informal grassroots games have used rock, paper, scissors to start games lately.

The suspension is asinine. Good for other refs calling the FA out on it. And besides, everyone knows you throw rock when you get the chance, your opponent will never throw paper.

 

The heartbreaking story of a local burger joint that got famous, then had to close. Remembering the late William Goldman, an amazing writer. And the N.Y. Tims with a fantastic video showing how Khashoggi’s murder was planned out

Admit it: There are times in your life when you’ve eaten at a restaurant because you were told, or heard on the radio, or read somewhere, that it had the “best” something in the state. Or America. Or the world.

You’ve done it, I’ve done it, everyone has. Quite a few times in my life, in fact, as I’ve lived around the country as a journalist, I’ve eaten “the best pizza in Florida” or “the best barbecue in North Carolina” and sometimes, yes, it’s been great, and other times, I was like “Meh. What’s all the fuss about.”

But what I never ever considered was what effect a restaurant being named the “best of” something had on it, financially and emotionally.

The best writing makes you think of things in a way you never had before, and I must tip my hat to e-migo and friend of the blog Luke for pointing me to this devastatingly awesome story by Kevin Alexander, who a year ago in an article for Thrillist.com anointed a small Portland hamburger restaurant named Stanich’s as having the best hamburger in America.

You would think that would be a hugely exciting development for Stanich’s, a locally famous, family-owned joint outside of town. But this one small article and honor ended up destroying the restaurant, and the man who runs it now, Steve Stanich.

Really in-depth story by Alexander here, talking to critics who must weigh the desire to highlight terrific food to others, and the fear that the publicity may be ruinous.

Read this story, it’s really gripping. And then go eat somewhere great no one’s heard of, and keep it that way.

**Next up today, it’s now become very clear that the man behind the killing of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi was the Crown Prince himself, Mohammad bin Salman. The New York Times has done a pretty fantastic video presentation here showing exactly how the murder was planned, carried out, and who is to blame.

This is really, really great stuff.

**And finally today, a few words about William Goldman, whose death we learned about on Friday. A fantastic author, Goldman wrote the screenplays for some of the greatest movies of all time, including “All the President’s Men,” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”

Oh, and a little book called “The Princess Bride,” which was turned into one of the greatest, funniest and warmest movies ever.

Goldman was a storyteller, and could tug at heartstrings like few others. And if you don’t think after hearing he died that I went down a YouTube rabbit hole watching “The Princess Bride” clips, well then you don’t know me too well.

Here’s a great tribute to Goldman by his friend Mike Lupica, and of course, above, one of many, many incredible scenes from “The Princess Bride.”

Good News Friday: An amazing new Elton John commercial shows the power of a gift. A 5-year-old autistic girl meets a real-life Cinderella. And recovering addicts run the NYC Marathon

Yesterday was November 15 and I made a lovely discovery here in suburbia:

I don’t own a snow shovel. This normally isn’t a problem on Nov. 15, but as it snowed a few inches yesterday here on the East Coast, and since buying a house I suddenly have to, you know, shovel a driveway when it snows, it’s suddenly a problem. (Add that to one of the many joys of being a homeowner)

But hey, I won’t let having to shovel-shop this morning ruin my mood! It’s Good News Friday, after all, and I’ve got lots of good stuff to share.

First off, this new advertisement from John Lewis Partners, a British company famous for their holiday ads, blew me away. It’s an incredible journey, starring Elton John, his piano, and the power of gift-giving. Truly one of the most amazing commercials I’ve ever watched. Enjoy.

**Next up today, what could be more heartwarming than a little girl meeting Cinderella, in real life? A 5-year-old autistic girl in upstate New York named Layla Lester loves princesses, as so many girls her age do. She loves Cinderella the most, and one recent weekend at a park near her house, she saw what she thought was a real-life Cinderella.

In reality of course, it was a local bride named Olivia Spark, in a wedding dress taking photos. But Olivia played along, and what started as “mistaken identity” has become a wonderful friendship.

Good on you, Olivia. What a sweet lady she is.

**And finally today, meet 81-year-old Louis Mapp, of Mobile, Ala. He’s a grandfather of eight and great-grandfather of two, but his main “job” for the past two years is to rock, feed and burp babies at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at USA Children’s and Women’s Hospital in Mobile. Every Tuesday, he drives 45 minutes to the hospital to help sick infants whose families aren’t able to be there 24/7. 

And oh yeah, Louis is quite wealthy, and recently donated $1 million to the hospital ward he’s come to know and love.

“After being there and seeing what a special place it is, and what an impact they have on people’s lives, my wife and I decided we wanted to do something for them,” Mapp told PEOPLE. “We have been blessed, and we said, ‘What a good place, to share some of those blessings, with the NICU.’”

“These babies are so precious,” Mapp told the University of Southern Alabama, “It’s just hard to put it in words.”

What a terrific man. Something so intimate and kind as helping rock and burp babies, from a stranger who just wants to help; those little ones don’t yet realize how lucky they are to have him in their lives.

 

There’s going to be a “Breaking Bad” movie, and I’m cautiously optimistic. The winner of the Grand Prix of Magic kind of blew my mind. And businesses are starting to hire “seat fillers” like at the Oscars, a truly idiotic idea

Lost to me in all the political news last week was a pretty huge development concerning one of my two favorite television shows of all time.

After years of denials and saying he wasn’t interested, the creator of “Breaking Bad”, Vince Gilligan, is reportedly making a movie based on the amazing television show.

Tentatively called “Greenbrier,” it’s set to star Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, one of the two major leads on “BB”,  picking up after the final episode when he (SPOILER ALERT) escapes and starts his new life.

I have mixed feelings on this, as I’m sure many “BB” fans are. First of all, as I wrote about when I watched it a few years ago, “Breaking Bad” is one of the greatest pieces of pop culture I’ve ever consumed. Incredibly well-acted by Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Giancarlo Esposito, and every other actor in it, it was also an absolutely gorgeous show to look at, filmed beautifully and plotted just perfectly.

It was as close to perfection, I think, as a TV show could ever get, and I was devastated when we came to the final episode and realized there’d be no more.

So on the one hand, just like my other all-time favorite show “The Wire,” I see no reason to do anything else here with “Breaking Bad.” It was perfect, the ending was perfect, and part of me is afraid picking up Jesse’s story after it ended, instead of leaving his future to our imagination, can only lead to disappointment. Why mess with a great thing?

But the bigger part of me is excited for “Greenbrier” and here’s why: Vince Gilligan has gone back to the “BB” well once before, and it’s been fantastic. I was highly dubious when they started “Better Call Saul” with Bob Odenkirk in a prequel reprising his fantastic Saul Goodman character.

But damn was I wrong. “Better Call Saul” is fantastic; really a worthy addition to the “Breaking Bad” universe, with the typical Vince Gilligan great acting, directing and plot.

So given that he’s involved, and Aaron Paul is involved, maybe “Greenbrier” will be fantastic. Maybe we’ll get to see the lives of some of the other characters we left off when the show ended, like Skyler and Marie and Jesse’s old pals Badger and Skinny Pete (who totally should’ve gotten a spinoff of their own; I’d pay good money to hear their stoner conversations each week) and maybe even some more of Tuco’s relatives are still around somewhere in Mexico.

No idea when “Greenbrier” will be out. But I am certain I’ll be seeing it. Vince Gilligan has earned my eternal loyalty for making something as epic as “Breaking Bad.” I’m sure he’ll do a great job, (in Jesse Pinkman voice) bitch!

**Next up, once in a while I stumble across a magic trick video and get blown away, and that’s what happened with this clip of Eric Chien, who won the recent Grand Prix of Magic with this routine.

Just… wow.

**Finally today, I always love it when a really stupid idea gets a “trend story” written about it, and before I go on let me assure you this not a story from The Onion, this is real.

So apparently some companies have noticed a problem: When they bring investors or other potential high-level employees to their offices for a look around, there are sometimes a lot of empty desks and cubicles. This is because either lots of people are working from home, are at lunch or in meetings, or more likely, the company is struggling and just don’t have many employees left.

So what to do, to make your office look like a busy hub with workers busily making deals and generating profit? Pretend to have lots of employees. By hiring seat-fillers. Like they do at awards shows.

Seriously. Companies have been hiring freelance “workers” to sit at desks and cubicles and fake like they’re doing work when they know outsiders are coming in to take a look around.

This is ALL kinds of ridiculous. First of all, what if one of your guests happens to strike up a conversation about the business with an imposter, then what? Also, and I can’t emphasize this enough, if you have too much office space and no employees to fill it, maybe you should MOVE TO A SMALLER OFFICE!

Seat-fillers in business. If only Kramer was still around to do what he did on that great “Seinfeld” episode where he “won” a Tony Award.

What a ridiculous idea.

 

The Jets hit rock bottom, and no that’s not the first time I’ve ever said that. A tribute to Veterans on Veteran’s Day. And my friend Jeff helps bring down a repugnant California congressman, proving one person can make a difference

As a Jets fan, you get used to misery.
It comes with the territory, like watching other teams celebrate, always having January weekends free from stress, and the sinking feeling that no matter what happens in the world, the Jets will always break your heart.

So it takes a lot, I mean A LOT, for Jets fans to truly feel like rock bottom has been hit. It’s been hit a bunch of times in my 37 years of fandom, with maybe the lowest of the lowest being the Rich Kotite era, that glorious stretch of the 1995-96 when the team won four games and lost, I believe, 324.

Anyway, back to the present. Look, we Jets fans knew this year was going to be a struggle, breaking in a rookie QB, with lots of young players on defense, not a lot of offensive playmakers (OK, zero offensive playmakers). But it’s been even worse than we could’ve thought, all leading to Sunday’s pathetic, miserable, disgusting, execrable 41-10 loss to the previously-hapless Buffalo Bills.

The Buffalo Bills! A team starting a quarterback, Matt Barkley, who hadn’t played in a game in almost two years!

The Bills destroyed the Jets every which way you can, and I’m thrilled that I didn’t watch any of it.

But one thing is certainly clear: The Jets need to fire head coach Todd Bowles. And soon. Like, today. The team is going backwards, he’s shown no ability whatsoever when it comes to game management, timeouts, when to be daring and when not to, and he seems to inspire zero effort or hustle among his team.

He’s had four years, and the team is awful. Fire the man and put us all out of our misery. So maybe soon we can inch our way up from rock bottom.

Sigh. Not easy being a Jets fan.

Some more quick-hit NFL thoughts from Sunday…

— Well, I think it’s fair to say there might now be three teams who are head and shoulders above the rest of the league. All year it has seemed like the Chiefs and Rams were playing on a different plane, but the Saints sure seem like they belong up there now. They destroyed a good Bengals team on the road, 51-14, and man is Drew Brees playing amazing. New Orleans is 8-1 and looking unstoppable.

— Remember a few months ago when everyone thought the Jaguars were good? They stink. Lost their fifth straight, now are 3-6, and look to be going back to the basement where they were for most of the past decade.

–Ladies and gentlemen, the Cleveland Browns! They’ve now won THREE games this year! Baker Mayfield and Co. beat up Atlanta, 28-16, and well, I just can’t believe the Browns have won three whole games. In the same season.

— Finally, the Patriots got their asses kicked Sunday in Tennessee and since you don’t get to say that that often, I just thought I’d point that out. It made me happy.

**Next up today, it is of course Veteran’s Day, a time to honor all of our amazing, heroic servicemen and women who have helped keep our country safe. Gotta say, I thought this response from “SNL” and Pete Davidson after his tasteless, awful joke about Congressman-elect Dan Crenshaw, a war veteran, last week was handled perfectly this week, with an apology and a hilarious appearance by Crenshaw himself. Check it out here.

But of course the real heroes of Veteran’s Day deserve to be saluted; I ran the video above a few years ago in this space and it seemed like a good time to run it again, to thank those who served and sacrificed so much.

**Finally today, a few words about a pretty stunning election result in Southern California, and my good friend’s small part in it. A couple of years ago, in the wake of Trump’s election, my man Jeff Pearlman, as good a friend as I’ll ever have, decided he wanted to get involved, somehow, someway, to help affect American politics.

So as all politics is local, he looked at his Congressman in his Southern California district, the 48th, and saw Dana Rohrabacher. A 15-term incumbent, Rohrabacher was an entranched California GOP politician who didn’t pass much legislation, seemed to spend more time on TV than anywhere else, and had lots of ties to Donald Trump and Russia.

So Jeff decided he would help defeat Rohrabacher. He started a website, crazydana.com, which quickly grabbed attention from the media, and he put in the hard work, getting to know the candidates running to get the Democratic nomination, spreading awareness of all of Rohrabacher’s conflicts of interest and bizarre lack of interest in the job. He went to the conventions, put in the hours, and what do ya know, last Tuesday Rohrabacher’s 30-year Congressional career ended in defeat, to Harley Rouda.

It was beautiful to see. Jeff wrote a really smart blog post about the whole experience, definitely one I recommend checking out.

One person can make a huge difference; don’t ever let anyone tell you differently. Don’t just sit and complain about our government; do something about it.

Good News Friday: A kindergarten class sings “Happy Birthday” in sign language to a deaf janitor. Barbra, oh Barbra, does “Carpool Karaoke” beautifully. And customers at a donut shop do something beautiful for an owner and his wife

And a Happy happy Friday to all of you kick-ass readers out there. As we recover/rejoice/get depressed over this insane week of politics, with the Dems gaining a majority in the House (and still likely to get bigger, as more and more races get called), our President having a batshit insane press conference which led to his Press Secretary using doctored video to try to make a reporter look bad, and the world (God help us) looking at TWO recounts in Florida elections, let’s all take a breather and get happy.

(And by the way, don’t think it’s not killing me that I haven’t had the chance or the time to opine in this space about the Duke basketball team’s 34-point obliteration of Kentucky Tuesday night. Man oh man, if it hadn’t been an election night I might have subjected you all to a 1,000-word treatise on how freaking amazing this Blue Devil team might be. But, you know, I’ll save that for January or something)

OK, you ready for some Good News Friday? (Read that in a sports coach’s voice for the full effect). Of course you are ready for some Good News Friday, dadgummit!

OK I’ll calm down now. Let’s start tugging at the heartstrings with some amazing schoolkids. At Hickerson Elementary School in Coffee County, Tenn., there’s a beloved hearing-impaired janitor named Anthony James. He’s been there for 15 years, is described as “sweet” and “selfless” by the staff, and of course is beloved by the kids.

So for James’ birthday recently, the Hickerson kindergarten classes taught by Mrs. Allyssa Hartsfield and Mrs. Amy Hershman learned how to sign the words to the Happy Birthday song to surprise him. And surprise him they did.

Watch the fantastic video above, and realize just how easy it is to make someone’s day. Just pure joy on James’ face.

**Next up today, I am legally required as a Jewish person from New York to love and worship Barbra Streisand, but even if I wasn’t legally required to do so, I would. Barbra as a person is, well, complicated.

My two favorite quotes about Streisand from people I know have always been my father telling me, as a little boy, to listen to her sing “because it’s like a symphony, all in one person’s voice,” and a friend of my ex-wife’s once watching Barbra do a TV interview and then saying to me, “There’s no one in the whole world who loves themselves as much as Barbra does.” (She was right, of course, but the guy currently sitting in the Oval Office may have surpassed her by now).

Anyway, Barbra still has an amazing voice, and she went on James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke” last week and was, predictably, awesome.

A nice Jewish girl from Brooklyn is still doing pretty good for herself, and that makes me smile.

**And finally today, another example of a small family of customers appreciating the small store they frequent, and stepping up to do something amazing.

For nearly 30 years, Cambodian refugees John Chhan and his wife, Stella, have been serving customers fresh donuts at their store, Donut City, in Seal Beach, California, near Los Angeles.

But a month ago Stella suffered a devastating brain aneurysm, and has been absent from the store.

Loyal customers originally wanted to set up a fundraiser for John to help with medical expenses, but John said no, he just wanted to spend as much time as possible with Stella.
And so to give John his wish, loyal customers have been showing up every day at 4:30 a.m. when Donut City opens, buying a dozen donuts at a time, hoping to sell out all of the store’s merchandise within a few hours, so John can go be with Stella in the hospital.

Stella is doing better, John says, recovering slowly but surely.

People helping people. If I lived anywhere near the shop, I’d buy a few crullers every morning.