Category Archives: Uncategorized

Fourteen years ago, the world changed. Ellen DeGeneres helps out an awesome educator. And Roger Federer saves an autograph-seeking boy from being crushed

It is Friday, which usually means only good news stories on this site. But it is, of course, also 9/11 today, and I would be pretty heartless to ignore that fact.

It’s been fourteen years since the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked by planes, a fact that doesn’t get any less surreal or scary by the passage of time.

As always, I watched the above video last night to remember and think about 9/11; I couldn’t find the original version, by Jason Powers, to embed, but this one is pretty good as well.

Please take a few minutes today to listen to the roll call of names being read in New York, or think about someone who died that day (like Tyler Ugolyn), or think about a visit to the 9/11 Memorial site the next time you’re here in N.Y.

Fourteen years. Never forget.

**Moving on, two videos that I hope will make you as happy as they made me. Ellen DeGeneres’ show came back on the air for a new season this week, and I very much enjoyed Pink’s performance and interview on Thursday (Pink totally rules, and I will not accept any other opinion.)

Ellen always makes people feel good, and for some reason I must’ve missed this awesome clip from last spring. Sonya Romero, an incredibly dedicated teacher in New Mexico, was on Ellen’s show explaining how much she does for her students, and Ellen and Co. decided to give something back.

This is beautiful, even Ellen cries…

**And finally, I’ll be at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center today, getting a thrill of a lifetime watching the men’s semifinals at the U.S. Open at Arthur Ashe Stadium (a fantastic birthday present from my wife).

Happily, Roger Federer, maybe my all-time favorite athlete, will be playing. I love Federer for so many reasons, but certainly for stuff like this.

After his match the other night there was a crush of people trying to get his autograph, and a little boy was getting smushed.

So Fed did this…

Go Fed. Two more wins and Slam No. 18 awaits…

The tennis-playing sisters from Compton give us more thrills. A Barenaked Ladies cover that’s awesome. And a really bad idea at the Auschwitz camp


The story has been told so often, and yet, I feel like it can’t be told enough.

Two young African-American girls, growing up on the dangerous streets of Compton, Calif., rise up to become extraordinary tennis champions, and role models to millions.

They win Grand Slam championships. They play each other for some of them, always feeling awkward and uncomfortable celebrating a victory while the sibling suffers.

And after nearly two decades in the spotlight, Venus and Serena Williams are still here, playing on the world’s biggest stages, still at or near the peak of their sport.

The two put on a fabulous show Tuesday night at the U.S. Open, putting on one of their better matches against each other. Venus raised her game significantly to match Serena’s, and going into the third set, I stared at my TV and honestly thought Venus might, might have a shot to win.

But then much as Roger Federer seems to do, Serena went to 11. She raised her game, showed what an incredible competitor she is, and hung on for the win.

Before we get back to focusing on Serena’s quest for the calendar-year Grand Slam, let’s not lose sight of the amazing career Venus and Serena have both had; Sibling rivalry? They never showed any sense at all of any jealousy (well, that’s not true, Venus did look a little mad when Serena was the first to win a major).

They have been best friends and confidants, and have at times taken turns ruling the sport.

Two little girls, growing up in Compton, Calif., turning out like this.

If it’s not the most improbable sports story of all time, well, it’s in the Top 5.

**Next up today, this is one of those random covers of a classic song that’s probably been out there for a while, but I’d never heard it until recently and I think it’s fabulous.

It’s Barenaked Ladies, a terrific band that’s not as famous as they should be, performing the Phil Collins song “In the Air Tonight” at a small show this past summer.

Just beautiful stuff, a different twist on a great tune.


**And finally, an idea so awful you just have to laugh out loud. At the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp, administrators there wanted to do something to help visitors/tourists cope with the oppressive summer heat in Poland.

So they installed “misters” to spray mist on the visitors. Mist, which is basically water, which of course reminds people of the showers that millions were forced into during the Holocaust before they headed to the gas chamber.

Oy. Pretty bad optics on that one, Auschwitz.

A point in their defense, though, which was raised by a panelist on ‘Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me,” where I first heard about this: You’re on a tour of Auschwitz. Aren’t you supposed to be thinking about the Holocaust at this point?

Just saying.

Some thoughts on a fabulous first week at the U.S. Open. And a football team plays with 10 men to honor a fallen teammate, and scores a TD


I have been extraordinarily blessed this year in many ways, with the latest wonderful gift my having acquired a full press credential to the 2015 U.S. Open, thanks to the rising fortunes of my American junior star Reilly Opelka, who I’ve been covering for a long time.

As such, I have been here at Flushing Meadows almost non-stop since Tuesday morning, and am enjoying every damn second of it. I’ve been doing some freelancing for new places (hello, Buffalo News and Wilmington News-Journal readers!), hob-nobbing with some of my tennis writing/broadcasting heroes (spent five minutes with the amazing Mary Carillo Sunday; she’s fantastic) and seeing some fabulous tennis.

I’ll try to keep this relatively coherent but my brain’s been overloaded with lots of great stuff and I’ve been in the sun a lot this week.

Herewith, some thoughts from a fantastic opening seven days of the U.S. Open…

— Best thing I’ve seen, Part 1: Donald Young, a former phenom who was once hyped as the future of American tennis, but then never quite lived up to it. I saw him on Court 17 Tuesday come back from two sets down to beat the No. 11 seed, Gilles Simon.
Then, improbably, he fell behind two sets again on Friday, to Viktor Troicki on the Grandstand court, the best place to watch a match here. With the crowd going nuts on every point, Young fought back to win the final three sets, punctuating the win on match point here.

I was at the top of the stands for the final set, and it was an insane atmosphere; crowd was screaming on every point, and even the yahoos chanting “U-S-A!” U-S-A-!” didn’t bother me that much. (OK I lied, it did bother me. Does every international sporting event have to turn into a xenophobic “we’re No. 1” contest?)

Nothing better than the Grandstand court during a great match.

— Best thing I saw, Part II: The last U.S. Open match of Lleyton Hewitt was also fabulous on Thursday; he played fellow Aussie Bernard Tomic, and believe me when I tell you a stadium full of Australian fans cheering and chanting is about as much fun as it gets. Hewitt got down two sets, won the next two, went up 5-3 in the fifth, and then somehow lost the last four games. Again, the crowd made it special.

— You really don’t appreciate how hard, and how accurate, pro tennis players hit the ball until you sit down close. Madison Keys on Friday night hit the cleanest, most powerful shots I saw all week. She obliterated her opponent, and I thought for sure she had a good chance to beat Serena Williams yesterday.

And she didn’t come close. That’s how good Serena Williams is.

— Two Serena thoughts: 1, She first won the Open in 1999, and now she’s going to win it in 2015. Sixteen years apart, that’s never been done before. 2, she plays Venus on Tuesday night, and how dramatic and incredible would be if her big sister stopped her Grand Slam?

— Did a mid-tournament podcast with my Twitter e-migos Jonathan and James over at The Body Serve; give it a listen here if you want to hear three tennis nuts have a good time.

— So here’s something I wished I’d seen: A flying drone crashed in Louis Armstrong Stadium Thursday. During a match. Didn’t hurt anybody, thankfully. But that had to have been weird to see.


— They honored the legendary tennis writer/broadcaster Bud Collins Sunday morning in a dedication ceremony, officially naming the media center after him. It was a sweet, beautiful tribute, with Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova and other luminaries there. Two great pieces on Bud that I read Sunday: this one by Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated, and Mike Lupica, Bud’s best friend in the media, penned an ode to Bud as well.

— Nothing like seeing the “professionalism” of European media members openly cheering loudly at matches for their countrymen. That would be, um, frowned upon here in the U.S.

— Finally, this bothered me to no end: I saw a bunch of people throughout the week dragging strollers with babies in them around the grounds. Really? This seemed like a good idea, bringing your baby or toddler to the Open for 7-8 hours in 90-degree heat, schlepping them up and down stadium stairs? Sometimes I just don’t get people.

**Finally today, Arkansas Tech is a Division II college football team, and earlier this year a teammate, Zemaric Holt, unexpectedly died at age 21.

He was a defensive player, so to honor him, Arkansas Tech decided to start the first game of the season, on the first play, with only 10 men on defense.

And then this happened…

Very cool…

An open letter to my son, on the eve of his first birthday


Dear Nate,

Hi! It’s Daddy. You know, the guy who wipes your tushy and feeds you and reads to you and plays games with you and stuff.

I know you can’t read yet, but I wanted to write you a letter since it’s a very special time in your life, and I want to record my thoughts while they’re fresh.

Next Thursday you turn 1. Which is utterly impossible, since it seems like just two weeks ago you were born. But it was actually at 11:46 p.m., on September 10, while I breathed a huge sigh of relief that you weren’t born on 9/11.

Mommy and I looked at you, we cried, we hugged, and we knew we were going to love you more than anything we’d ever loved, even each other.

And 12 months later, I think we have. Do you know how much you are loved? You really ought to because you get told it like 400 times a day, from Mommy and I, and from your six grandparents, who think you’re the greatest thing ever even when all you did was look back at them and drool.

I so wish you could remember all that’s gone on this year; the nighttime baths we gave you in your little tub, as Mommy and I sang “Rubber Duckie” from “Sesame Street” and “Closer to Fine” by the Indigo Girls (hey, it was one of the few songs we both knew all the words to!) every night.

How your favorite activities for the past few months have been rolling around gloriously on Mommy and Daddy’s bed; opening and closing any and every door in the apartment, and playing peek-a-boo.

I’ll never forget the moment you figured out how to play your favorite game by yourself; you took your hands and covered your eyes, then moved them after a minute and looked at us and laughed oh so devilishly.

I can’t believe how different you are every day; one day you couldn’t sit up straight by yourself, the next you could. One day you could barely stand, now you’re just about walking on your own. One day your diapers didn’t smell so bad, then the next I wanted to put on a HAZMAT suit to change you. It is truly the most incredible thing, seeing you become so much less like a baby and more like a boy, every day.

We’re planning a party for you next Saturday. Mommy asked if we should have entertainment there, like a magician. I told her that wasn’t necessary; to you right now, magic is when you’re playing with a cell phone, and we take it away from you and put it in our pocket, then five minutes later take it back out.

This BLOWS your mind. It’s all the magic you need at the moment.

I’ll tell you a secret: I watch you sleep sometimes, because it’s the most peaceful and beautiful thing I can do. Sometimes when Mommy and I are lying in bed we hear you scream out for a few seconds, then go back to sleep.

Mommy thinks you’re having nightmares. We wonder what they could be about: Boobs that won’t give milk? Drawers and doors that won’t open no matter how much you pull them? A world without remote controls and cell phones to play with?

We don’t ever want you to have nightmares. There’ll be plenty of time for you to discover the scary things in life; right now we want your existence to be happy and fear-free as possible.

I could go on and on and on, like I do when I talk to you about tennis and Duke basketball and the New York Rangers, but I’ll try to wrap up soon.

Nate, you are by far the best thing I’ve ever done, and I am so grateful for your laughs, your smiles, and your remarkably sunny personality. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve you, but I’m so glad you’re ours.

Happy birthday, son. I love you.

P.S. One last thing: Do you think maybe you could try not to throw your sippy cup around the dining room so much? After the 47th time of picking it up, it loses its joy. Thanks.



Could you be a U.S. Open line judge? Here’s a good test. The NFL is really going to hate this new “Concussion” movie. And a woman brings her husband back to life with found home movies.


So I spent all day Tuesday at the U.S. Open, which was of course awesome; I saw parts of 17 matches, because at the U.S. Open I have ADD, can’t sit still for more than 10-15 minutes, because there’s so much great tennis going on I want to catch as much of it as possible.

One of the many, many thoughts I had while watching was how incredibly accurate the line judges in pro tennis are. They’re seeing 130 miles per hour serves, blistering groundstrokes down the line, and have to make instant judgements on if the ball is in or out, sometimes by mere inches.

As much as we all think we could do better, it’s rare to get a real test. Which is why I loved this interactive Wall Street Journal test that ran on their website the other day.

It’s a four-part exam that asks you, in five shots each, to judge whether the ball is in or out, from various parts of the court. The ball comes at you, simulated at 100 miles per hour.

I did really well, getting 16 out of 20 right, but man some of them are really close.

Stuff like this really makes you appreciate how good line judges are. I once did a story interviewing a bunch of them, and asked them how they felt about instant replay coming into tennis a few  years ago.

They told me they loved it, because it showed how often they were right.

**Next up today, one more thing for the National Football League to be worried about: Will Smith is starring in a new movie, out this December, called “Concussion,” and it’s about the pioneering work of Dr. Bennett Omalu, who was the first to link chronic head injuries to significant brain damage, and CTE.

Basically, everything the NFL tried to deny and cover up for years, is going to be up there on film for all to see.

The movie looks great; can’t wait to watch Roger Goodell and Co. squirm.

**Finally today, this is from a few weeks ago on “CBS Sunday Morning” but I just got around to watching it recently. And it made me smile. A historian in Fairport, N.Y. loves connecting people with their past, and recently he got ahold of 16 millimeter home movies from at least 70 years ago, shot by a man named Bob Kramer and his wife, Leona.

As it turns out, there’s an incredible story behind those movies, helping an old woman “see” her lost love for the first time in a long time.

This is so sweet.

We’re making progress in so many areas in the U.S., but going backwards on guns. My cousin outsources his fantasy football trash talk, hilariously. And a fantastic story on the man who cradled RFK while he died


So I’m watching the most recent episode of my favorite current TV show, “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” a few days ago with my wife, and we were viewing the segment Oliver did on how, even though it seems we’ve come so far on gay rights in America, there are still areas of blatant discrimination, and we shouldn’t forget that.

And I got to thinking about progress. Progress is sometimes easy to spot on social issues; we no longer have “white-only” bathrooms in public places, and there are ramps for handicapped people in millions of public buildings.

We’re making progress on so many significant issues in the U.S.: Awareness of global warming, the environment, race relations, scientific breakthroughs about disease, and too many other areas to mention.

But as once again was made painfully clear last week, we are making zero progress on the issue of gun violence. Like, literally, NONE.

Two young journalists were murdered, on live television, by a disturbed man who had absolutely no problem getting a gun. And the usual cycle of these things began to repeat itself: Outrage over the act, followed by powerful pieces in the media, like this one by Nicholas Kristof, illustrating just how deadly gun violence is in America (this stat blew me away: More Americans have died from guns in the United States since 1968 than on battlefields of all the wars in American history.)

We heard from Alison Parker’s father, who wants to be the “John Walsh” of gun control, referring to the “America’s Most Wanted” host who, after his son was murdered, became a tireless advocate for changing laws.

We will hear hand-wringing from politicians, and hear political strategist flap their lips (one GOP operative said on “Meet the Press” Sunday that for anything to change in our gun control laws, it’ll have to be Republican legislators who move the needle, since Democrats have fought all they can and gotten nothing done. Sadly, he’s probably right.), and then … pffft. Nothing will happen.

Progress is disgustingly unattainable in this area, and I’m damn tired of it. I’m going to stop asking what it will take, or how many more have to die, because after a while you just get tired of spitting in the wind.

Progress seems so promising in so many areas. But here? We couldn’t find progress with a damn GPS.

**Next up today, I honestly don’t know if you will find this next thing funny, or offensive and slightly racist. I found it really funny.

My cousin Rob and I have both, independently, recently discovered the awesomeness of a website called, where basically people offer their services and expertise for five bucks. Somebody offers to make you a ringtone of anything, or will update your resume for you, or any one of a thousand tasks.

One guy advertised on there that he’s an English teacher in India, and for $5 he will teach his Indian students to say in English whatever you want them to say.

So Rob, being a creative soul, decided to use $5 to have a bunch of little kids trash-talk the other members of his fantasy football league.

I mean, the kids are learning English from this, right?


**Finally today, this fantastic story by Steve Lopez of the Los Angeles Times was really moving. It’s about a California man named Juan Romero, who was a 17-year-old busboy working at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968, the night Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan.

In this famous photograph, it’s Romero who is cradling Kennedy’s head for a few moments. Minutes earlier Romero had shaken Kennedy’s hand, and now he watched the presidential candidate die.

The events of that day, understandably, haunted Romero for decades, and despite what anyone said or did, he felt incredible guilt and remorse about what happened.

Until finally, a complete stranger from Germany named Claudia Zwiener heard about Romero and reached out to help.

This is really a tremendous story by Lopez, whose work I try to highlight here as often as I remember to. It sometimes takes decades for wounds to heal, and for a person troubled by one moment of their past to let go.

Really moving stuff here.

Good News Friday: An incredible, free “Teacher Store” is a great idea. Teachers break out into song to welcome kids back. And the Buffalo Bills co-owner triumphs after adversity.


And a Happy Friday to you all! The summer’s winding down, the U.S. Open is about to heat up (at least for me it is), and that means it’s (sadly) back to school time for kids across America. (I know it’s Good News Friday, but I have to pause for a moment to acknowledge the deaths of Alison Parker and Adam Ward, two journalists killed for absolutely no good reason on Wednesday. Please keep their families in your thoughts and prayers. And I wonder for the 4,323rd time, when any politician will have the cojones to take on the gun lobby.)

Two teacher-related Good News Friday stories for you this week. The first is a fairly remarkable idea called the Teacher Project. As you may or may not know, teachers spend hundreds of dollars of their own money each year buying supplies for their class, money that comes out of their own pocket, a pocket that’s lined with usually puny salaries from their job.

But an organization called Project Teacher does something fabulous: It has created a store in the Wichita, Kan. area where teachers can come in, choose what they need for their classroom, and leave without paying a nickel.

The program, created by Terry Johnson, whose wife is a teacher, relies on corporate donations, hand-me-downs, and local fundraisers

Teachers in the Wichita area can make an appointment to come in and get exactly what they need for their classrooms – no guesswork or one-size-fits-all donation lists – all courtesy of corporate donations, hand me downs, and local fundraisers.

School supplies, Terry says, are so individually tailored by school, grade, and teacher, that it makes the most sense to put resources directly in the hands of educators.

“Every little bit helps, but the teachers know exactly what the classroom needs,” he said.

This is a fabulous idea, one that many teachers I know would love to come to their town. Read more about the Project Teacher here.

**Next up, this was pretty entertaining. A West Des Moines school district employee meeting was “interrupted” by singing teachers the other day, performing a song called “One Day More” from Les Miz.

Really funny. But don’t quit your day jobs, OK?


**Finally today, I’ve had the Pegula family of Buffalo on my mind all week, for two reasons: One, I’ve watched promising American women’s tennis player Jessica Pegula win a couple of matches at the U.S. Open qualifying tournament (she plays today for a chance to reach next week’s main draw).

And a few days earlier I read this story about Jessica’s Mom, Kim Pegula, who happens to own the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres with her husband, Terry.

Kim Pegula’s story is inspiring; she was literally left on a street corner by her birth parents in South Korea as a toddler, then adopted by a New York family. How she has overcame that terrible beginning to make herself into a major force in rejuvenating Buffalo is in this great story by Sal Maiorana of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle newspaper.

Terrific feature on a smart woman. I’d love to root for her, but she owns the Bills, a rival of my Jets (also, I can’t wait till she gets as frustrated at Rex Ryan’s inept coaching as we did for five years.)

A 16-year-old and a 44-year-old played tennis against each other at the Open Tuesday, and I got to watch. Daniel LaRusso the true villain of “The Karate Kid?” And a reporter accidentally makes a 4-year-old cry


It’s that most wonderful time of year for me, late August, which means the U.S. Open is here, and the next three weeks will be nothing but bliss (Yeah there will be more tennis than usual in this space the next few weeks.)

I’m going as a fan and as a journalist this week to the qualifying tournament, the best bargain in sports (free). My guy Reilly Opelka, the 6-foot-10, 17-year-old phenom I’ve written about here before, is trying to qualify for the men’s draw, and in two weeks will be a favorite to win the boys junior event as well.

I cannot express in words how much I love the Open, for reasons just like this one: Tuesday I saw a 16-year-old play 2.5 hours of scintillating tennis against a 44-year-old.

Seriously. Cici Bellis (above) just turned 16, and Kimiko Date-Krumm is about to be 45. There are TWENTY-EIGHT years between them (or as a wag on Twitter pointed out, a whole Maria Sharapova between them).

I had fun thinking of the huge generational gap between them during the match: Date-Krumm was three years into her first career retirement when Bellis was born. Nixon was President when Date-Krumm was born; Bill Clinton when Cici hatched.

And on and on (Believe me, I bored the people sitting next to me with more trivia, you’re the lucky ones.) Anyway, it was the kind of match you only see in tennis, with an age gap like that (and I’m certain that’s a record for biggest gap between opponents).

Date-Krumm started out fast, winning the first set before, oh, 200 fans. Bellis, who made a big splash by winning a round at last year’s Open, dominated the second set. The third set was tight, there was a truly horrible call by the chair umpire at a crucial point at 4-all, and Bellis won.

It was great. And wonderful to see a player at the start of her career face a player at the end, and for a couple of hours, they were pretty much equal.

God I love tennis. God I love the U.S. Open.

**Next up today, this is bloody brillant and hilarious. A man named J. Matthew Turner has given us a fantastic “alternate reality” version of “The Karate Kid,” arguing in a compelling (and superbly funny) way that Johnny and the Cobra Kai aren’t the real villains of the movie, that it’s actually punk, sociopath Daniel who deserves our boos.

If you love this movie as much as I do, you’ll be side-splittingly laughing at least 3-4 times (especially the Halloween party scene analysis).

**Finally today, you know I love reporters, so I feel badly when they accidentally screw up. Then I laugh about it like everyone else.

This poor woman from KTLA in Los Angeles was interviewing Andrew, a 4-year-old, on his first day of pre-K classes. Andrew was doing great until the reporter, Courtney Friel, asked about missing his mom.

And then, the waterworks started.

Nice job, lady. Why don’t you tell Andrew the truth about Santa and the Easter Bunny while you’re at it.

No worries, Andrew’s Mom, a real hero, gave him a hug off-camera a few seconds later.

My first weekend at the Jersey Shore: Sun, fun and no Snooki to be found anywhere. And Usain Bolt, still the fastest, most amazing man


Greetings from the land of “The Situation,” where we most certainly did not have a situation this weekend.

Yours truly is wrapping up a wonderful weekend getaway with the family to the Jersey Shore, a place I’ve never truly spent time as an adult (I’ve been to nearby Atlantic City plenty, but those were just for gambling and hotel stays.)

We’re heading back to the city Monday morning after a great family reunion; a patriarch on my wife’s side of the family had a 95th birthday celebration on Saturday, so dozens of cousins and friends gathered to salute him (Ninety-five is amazing to me. Do you realize Warren G. Harding was President when this man was born? I can’t fathom that.) My son got to meet a whole bunch of family members he’s never met, so that was a big thrill.

We had a great time in Chris Christie-ville, and am a little sad to leave. Some thoughts/ruminations from my brain on a weekend in Joisey…

— We spent a lot of time on the beach, of course, and our relative’s house was pretty close to an entrance onto a small strip of sand where we sunbathed Saturday and Sunday.
And one thing I learned is universal: I don’t care how rich or poor you are, what race or creed you are, whether you’re old or young, big or small: Everyone has to endure the 50-100 yards of schlepping beach stuff from the pavement to their favorite spot on the sand.
The look on the faces of all who did it was the same: “Why am I lugging all this crap to the beach? Do I really need all this crap? And are we almost there?

It was reassuring to see that some things in America are still equal for everyone.

— Atlantic City ain’t what it used to be. Or maybe I’m just too old to see its appeal. Probably both. When I was a kid, Atlantic City was an incredibly exciting idea: Driving a few hours meant you were glamorous, dazzlingly bright neighborhood filled with fancy casinos, sparkly showgirls and a boardwalk that teemed with taffy and all kinds of fun.

Now, thanks to so many other states legalizing gambling, and the economy tanking, there are only a handful of casinos left in Atlantic City, and the whole place just felt, when we went to play blackjack Sunday night, like a party everyone had left, only some people didn’t know the party was over yet.

— Did you know you can still smoke in all Atlantic City casinos? Seriously. In 2015. In a completely indoor venue with little air circulation.

We were in one Sunday night and it was like being transported back in time 30 years. Ridiculous.

— Final gambling note: When you push on 20 in blackjack, it really feels like a loss, doesn’t it?

— My kid loves the ocean. Who knew? We took the 11-month-old down to the water for his first-ever experience, expecting that the freezing cold H20 on his toes would make him miserable. Only, he squealed and squealed with delight for 10 good minutes, smiling and giggling as the tiny waves crashed into his little legs.

It’s amazing how you never know how he’ll react to something new. I smell a future surfer in the family.

— Hotel breakfasts have gotten so much better since I was a kid. We had a couple this weekend that were so beyond restaurant quality it was stunning. I remember as a little boy getting stuck with, like, stale English muffins and maybe a crummy croissant.

— Finally, this made me sad. The hotel we’re staying in had a sign at the front desk advertising free access to local newspaper’s websites when you check in. Instead of, you know, actual newspapers in the lobby.

Ah, print papers, oh how I’ll miss you when you’re gone.

**Finally today, just in case you’d forgotten how incredible Usain Bolt is, he was kind enough to show the world again on Sunday at the World Championships.

It’s exceedingly rare for a sprinter to last as long as Bolt has, and stay on top; he first won a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Games; here we are seven years later, and he’s still the fastest man alive.

This is a hell of a race from American Justin Gatlin, but he fell one-hundredth of a second short; in 9.79 Bolt held onto his crown.

Sensational stuff. So help us all if he’s ever found to have been doping all these years.

Good News Friday: LeBron makes an awesome promise to kids: free college. A beautiful story about a man released from prison, giving thanks. And one town’s novel approach to drug addicts is working


And a Happy Friday to you all; I’m headed down to the Jersey Shore for only, like, the second time in my life this weekend. If I run into any of those morons like “The Situation” or Snooki, you’ll hear about it in Monday’s blog post…

We start today with a LeBron James story, who once again has proved that he’s genuinely concerned about kids, and is genuinely a good dude.

LeBron announced this week that he will fully sponsor more than 1,000 scholarships for kids currently in his “I Promise” program, based in Akron.

He and the University of Akron are offering the chance of a college education to kids in the LeBron James Family Foundation, which helps kids from the 3rd to the 7th grade. He said if the students meet academic requirements, tuition is on him.

“As a kid growing up in the inner city and as an African American kid, you don’t really think past high school because it’s not possible or your family can’t support you,” LeBron said. “For us to be able to do something like this … it means so much.”

This is exactly what it means to give back. He’s basically giving away the equivalent of $40 million worth of tuition.

Bravo, LeBron. He truly “gets it.”

 **Next up, I love this program and think it’s a great model for America. In Gloucester, Mass., the police dept. tried a different approach to drug users. They decided two months ago to stop arresting drug users who approached officers seeking help.

Instead, the town announced it would refer the addicts to treatment, and the city would front the costs.

According to this article on, the police chief,  Leonard Campanello, faced strong resistance.

“I had a lot of skepticism,” Chief Campanello said. “I didn’t know if we were going to get one person or a thousand people.

“But we had to try something different.”

After two months, the program has placed 116 people placed in treatment, with no arresets.

“We’ve had 116 people placed in treatment,” Campanello explained. “No criminal charges. All placed on the same day.”

The city bargained the cost of life-saving detox drugs from local pharmacies, and so far Campanello estimates the program has cost less than $5,000 so far.

“We’ve built partnerships with treatment centers, health plans, health providers, other law enforcement, and certain the public, which has overwhelmingly supported this approach,” he told Upworthy.

Brilliant. Imagine: Getting drug offenders treatment, and allowing them to be a part of society again once they get better, instead of just throwing them in jail.

There’s absolutely no reason this can’t work elsewhere; good on Gloucester for finally looking for altnerative solutions to the moronic War on Drugs so many are still fighting.


**Finally today, a beautiful story from Alan Schwarz in last Saturday’s New York Times really moved me. It’s about a man named Rudolph Norris, who after 22 years in prison on a drug offense, was granted clemency by President Obama in the spring.

Released in late July, the story talks about Norris’ transformation in prison, his incredible gratitude at being released, and most importantly, his overwhelming desire to give back to his community that he damaged with his drug dealing many decades ago.

I love this quote: “I’m trying to get gainfully employed in a hurry, so I can be able to provide and get my own place. I have the freedom to do what I want to do as long as I do it right.”

And this one: “I’ll take the lowest honest job out there — I just want to get started. “Society doesn’t owe me anything. I owe society for dealing drugs.”

There are SO many Rudolph Norris’ out there, wasting away in prison thanks to idiotic sentencing laws. I hope Obama uses his last 18 months in office to issue clemenc to thousands more. It would be about the best parting gift he could leave the country.