Tag Archives: 9/11

Remembering 9/11: Somehow it’s been 18 years since it happened. The Democratic Prez candidates make a great ad about gun violenec in schools. And a beautiful gesture from the newspaper in Pittsburgh.

Eighteen. It’s a number that has a huge relevance in life for many peoples, including those of my tribe, in Judaism. Turning 18 signifies so much in our cultural life in America: The ability to vote, the ability do many things as an adult for the first time (play the Lottery was always a big one for me), and most people really feel like a grown-up at 18.

The number 18 has been in my mind this week because today is September 11, of course, and it’s now been, unfathomably, 18 years since two airplanes struck the World Trade Center on a beautiful Tuesday morning in New York City.

Which means that a child born on 9/11/01 is starting college this year, having lived their entire life in a post-9/11 world.

Mind-boggling to me. Because when I close my eyes I can still see all the images from that day, the confusion, the panic, the sheer “what the $*#*@*$ is going on?” on the faces of all my fellow New Yorkers.

Never in a million years would I have thought, 18 years later, we’d still be fighting in Afghanistan, still have American soldiers dying in a war that started nearly two decades ago.

All we can do is not let the passage of time dim our memories of the heroes, and tragic figures, of that day.

And today, take a few minutes to think about the sacrifice so many have made, trying to protect our freedoms since that horrible day.

**Next up today, it’s been rare to see the Democratic Presidential candidates all appear in the same ad, and with the next Presidential debate Thursday night (one I’m eagerly anticipating, and hoping for great performances from Kamala Harris and Cory Booker), I thought it was very timely that this ad was released this week.

Featuring most of the top contenders, and dealing with the very real but ignored by our Congress issue of gun violence, it’s powerful, and it’s fantastic.

**Finally today, I would normally save this for Good News Friday, but since this week is a different, special GNF I do every year at this time, I wanted to make sure I ran this now.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize in April for its outstanding coverage of the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre in 2018. With the prize comes an award of $15,000, and at first the journalists at the paper weren’t sure what to do with it, or how to divide it up.

So they came up with a fantastic, heartwarming solution: They donated it to the synagogue that had suffered so much, to help rebuild it.

The newspaper’s executive editor, Keith Burris, in presenting the  check to the temple, said these words at the ceremony on Aug. 29:

“Rabbi Myers, when the unthinkable happened at Tree of Life, it was our job to tell the story.

And to tell the backstory.

We did our duty.

It was our honor to do it.

Nothing about doing our duty makes us noble or exceptional.

But the DUTY ITSELF was and is noble.

Now we share with you another duty: TO REMEMBER.

And to assure that Pittsburgh, the United States, and all the world, REMEMBERS.

We feel bound to you and your congregations – by memory and duty.

And we offer you, in humility, our service – as scribes and witnesses.

We wish Tree of Life to have this gift – the newspaper’s cash award for the Pulitzer Prize for spot news – as a sign of this bond and this service. We give it as a modest contribution toward the repair and rebuilding of the congregation’s physical plant.

Really wonderful gesture that I’m certain will be remembered long after the people who won the Pulitzer are gone.

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Jeff Pearlman’s new book on the USFL is wildly entertaining and great. A marching band member with the best air drums ever. And 17 years later, remembering 9/11

OK, in case it hasn’t been clear before when I talk about his books, let me state straight out that I cannot possibly be unbiased when I talk about my man Jeff Pearlman’s books, which I’m about to do.

For one, he’s one of my closest friends in the world, and one of the finest human beings I know. He and his amazing and talented wife Catherine have an incredible marriage, two great kids, and I love them all to death.

Two, as with Jeff’s other books I’ve had the privilege of helping shape it in its early incarnations, editing/proofing/suggesting what parts are good, what could be better, and what a “normal reader” might have questions about and need clarification on. He’s amazingly dedicated and has been so good to me as a friend and colleague. (hell, he dedicated his last book to me.)

And three, I know how incredibly hard he works on his books, and this one, especially. Why did the world need a book about a long-gone pro football league that existed for three years in the 1980s, then faded away?

Because there were a million great characters in that league, including an owner named Donald Trump who almost-singlehandedly ruined the league.

There were future stars in the USFL like Reggie White, Jim Kelly, Steve Young, Herschel Walker … and there were also a bunch of also-rans like Greg Fields, aka “Big Paper,” who tried to kill his coach and that’s only like the fourth-craziest thing you learn about Greg Fields in this book.

The idea for a spring football league was a terrific one, and the USFL was, by 1984, slowly developing a fan base and an identity: The “fun” league, with two-point conversions and crazy offenses and playing in cities like Memphis that the NFL never would come near.

But then a certain cocky New York City real estate developer bought the New Jersey Generals, and decided he’d convince all the rest of the USFL owners to move their season to the fall, and take the NFL head-on. This was an awful idea for many reasons, namely, who’s going to go to a Philadelphia Stars game when the Eagles are playing the next day?

But Trump, as Jeff explains in the book, was able to convince his brethren to take the NFL on, then sue them for antitrust violations. The USFL won the lawsuit, but gained only $1 in damages (hence the book’s title).

I don’t want you to think this book is about Trump, although there are so, so many precursors to his behavior as a politician that were evident back then (read this John Bassett letter for a good idea).

“Football for a Buck” has the most entertaining, impossible to believe stories you’ll ever read. Like the player who slammed his penis in an equipment truck and missed a few games (Ouch). Or like the genius schemes of Jim Bob Morris of the San Antonio Gunslingers, who loved his out-of-town girlfriend but loved local women just as much.

So to have his cake and eat it too, Morris had a second phone line put into his apartment, had a maintenance man drill a hole in the wall and embed an answering machine within the wall.

“So I had a regular phone line and I had a phone line for my bitches,” he said. “We’d be laying in bed, me and my girl, and you could hear the answering machine in the wall, beeping. I’d pile clothes against the wall so she couldn’t hear.”

The man was a regular Hugh Hefner!

But seriously, “Football for a Buck” is a fabulous read. It’s got egos and greed and men playing the sport they love and putting up with awful conditions to do it.  It’s Jeff’s most hilarious book yet, and if you know any football fans, I guarantee they’ll enjoy it. The book is getting fabulous reviews but it’s a really hard thing, selling a book, so if you buy it for someone you like, you’d be doing something very worthwhile.

Football for a Buck,” the USFL book the world needed.

Now, if we can just get ONE Donald Trump tweet about it, it’ll go straight to the top of the bestsellers list.

**Next up today, a small video that gave me a smile: A man in the Baltimore Ravens Marching Band is clearly a fan of 70s rockers Rush, and their fantastic song “Tom Sawyer.”

Watch as he perfectly nails the drums in this part of the song during Sunday’s Ravens beatdown of the Bills, in the rain.

You go, air drum hero!

**Finally today, yesterday was of course 9/11, the 17th anniversary of the worst day of so many of our lives. We watched the names of those lost being read out loud from Ground Zero on TV, and I took a few minutes to look at the most powerful thing I ever saw about the tragedy, this wonderful video montage put together by a man named Jason Powers.

Seventeen years seems unfathomable. To think a child born that year is preparing to graduate high school now… seems impossible. All we can do is not let the passage of time dim our memories of the heroes, and tragic figures, of that day.

And take a few minutes to think about the sacrifice so many have made, trying to protect our freedoms since that horrible day.

Seventeen years. Hard to believe.

Wrapping up a fabulous and weird U.S. Open, where Stephens and Rafa shone and I peed next to a Hall of Famer. Remembering 9/11 on this day, always. And Week 1 in the NFL, when both NY teams stunk

So much to get to you today, I hope this blog doesn’t go 2,000 words or something. Of course I, like most of you, have loved ones living in Florida in the path of this hellacious Hurricane Irma, and I’ve been worried about them most of the weekend. Thank God so far my friends in Tampa, Miami and Orlando seem to be doing OK. But the videos and photos from the weekend were just awful. The ocean receding in Tampa? Roofs being blown off in Miami? Godspeed to all down there.

Want to write more today about the terror of hurricanes, and about my son’s 3-year-old birthday party Saturday and why it eerily felt like my wedding.

But I’ll get to that Wednesday. Today, I want to start with the U.S. Open, which was wacky, wild and wonderful. So many top players were missing this year (Serena, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka) that you knew some different names would show up in the late rounds. But Sloane Stephens? Kevin Anderson? If you had both of them playing after Labor Day, you were in the distinct minority.

Stephens was once a rising phenom in the tennis world, beating Serena at the Aussie Open three years ago and seemingly destined for the Top 5. And then… not so much. Her dedication to tennis was questioned. Stories about how she just wanted to be famous, and her attitude, were abundant. Then her results suffered, she was injured and didn’t play for nearly a year, from summer 2016 to this summer, and her ranking fell to 957.

And today she is the U.S. Open women’s champion. She was flawless on Saturday in the women’s final, pummeling Madison Keys all over the court, smiling and consoling and acting stunned at the amount of the winner’s check she earned (hey, $3.7 million IS a lot of money.)

I have no idea if this will propel Stephens into being a consistent force at Slams, or if Keys will learn from this experience of being overwhelmed on the big stage after playing so brilliantly in the semis. But I do know that both Stephens and Keys are worthy of praise and admiration today.

— I’ve seen a lot of beautiful displays of sportsmanship after a match is over, because tennis players almost always comport themselves as sportsmen (or women.) But this one, this one I’ll never forget, and will pretty hard to top. Sloane Stephens, the champion, moments after winning a Grand Slam, stands at the net consoling her sobbing good friend, Madison Keys, on the loss. Really sweet moment.

— And on the men’s side, to quote my friend Jon Wertheim, how about on Jan. 1, 2017 I told you Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal would combine to win all four Slams this year? You’d have laughed so hard and then recommended a good psychiatrist.
But it happened. Sunday Nadal put on a clinic in the final against Anderson, a 31-year-old South African who’d never gotten this far. As disappointed as I was that Federer and Nadal didn’t finally play in New York this year, in the semis, the Federer fan in me is glad they didn’t. Because Roger was shaky the whole tournament before losing, and Nadal was playing extraordinarily well, I think Rafa would’ve beaten Fed easily.

As it was, Nadal had the easiest road to a Slam, maybe ever, not having to beat even one Top 25 player. But that doesn’t matter; he was on his game and is such a worthy champ.

— So as I’ve mentioned a few times in the past few weeks I was once again fortunate enough to be credentialed as a reporter during the U.S. Open, and it was once again the best gig ever. I wrote 14 stories, for seven different newspapers, covering men’s, women’s and juniors players.
The USTA and tournament organizers make it ridiculously easy for us journalists, giving everything we could want, and you will never ever hear me complain about getting into the U.S. Open for free, receiving a meal per diem that actually goes pretty far, and getting sweet seats on every court (for a few non-marquee matches on Ashe Stadium I actually was sitting ninth row, baseline, where all the fancy people usually sit.

A couple of behind-the-scenes memories from my third straight year covering the Open:

— I peed next to NBA legend David Robinson. Not something that happens every day. I wandered into the closest bathroom near the afore-mentioned sweet Ashe Stadium seats last Tuesday, and a second after I approached the urinal I heard large footsteps, and a very large African-American male peeing to my left. He finished before me (hey, he was a Navy officer, I’m guessing he does everything fast) and as he turned away from the urinal I caught a glimpse of his face. Me and David Robinson, emptying our bladders together. Good times. (No I didn’t ask to shake his hand).

— Definite journalistic highlight was getting to ask Roger Federer a question in his pre-U.S. Open press conference. I really, really don’t get excited about talking to athletes anymore, I’m way too jaded/experienced for that. But this was Roger freaking Federer, maybe my favorite athlete of all time. So it was pretty cool.

— Got to see wheelchair tennis up close for the first time. Truly extraordinary watching what these athletes can do. Except for being allowed two bounces to return the ball, the rules are almost all the same. Watching these players spin and push themselves all around the court was inspiring.

— Finally, when I was 9 years old I watched Boris Becker win Wimbledon at 17 and I went outside my house right after the match and started hitting tennis balls against a brick wall on the side of our house. To say Becker inspired my love of this sport is an understatement.

I saw him several times walking around the Open this year, and spoke to him for 20 seconds about a match we were both watching on a TV monitor. The little kid in me was very excited about that.

**Next up, today is of course September 11, which means we should all stop and take a few minutes to think about the events of that horrible day in 2001. It’s been 16 years now, and it doesn’t seem any more real.

I watch this video (above) and a few others like it every year, and as I type this thousands and thousands of motorcycles are roaring into Manhattan as they do every year for the 9/11 ceremony, and this anniversary will never, ever be forgotten.

Sixteen years. Wow.

**Finally today, because I’ve rambled long enough in this space, I’m going to cover Week 1 of the NFL very very quickly, and briefly. Here goes:

— The Jets stink, as we expected. Fifteen more losses to go, and we get the No. 1 pick in the draft!
— The Giants might stink, which is unexpected.
— The Houston Texans hosting a home game two weeks after the worst storm in the history of the city seems crazy to me. Although this story makes me think maybe it was a necessary distraction for the city.
— Tom Brady lost at home. Always noteworthy and always puts a smile on my face.
— I can’t remember an NFL season where I was less excited for opening day. Lot of possible reasons why, but I was really just not into it.
— There are a lot of shitty, shitty quarterbacks in the NFL. Methinks Colin Kaepernick won’t be unemployed all season.

After last week’s debacle, Hillary and Kaine get their shot. The Rio Olympics are already a disaster. And remembering the biggest moment of Hall of Famer Mike Piazza’s career

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There’s always something to be said for going last in a two-person competition. You get to leave the final impression, you can see what the other person did and NOT do that, and maybe most importantly with this week’s Democratic National Convention, the bar for “being better than your opponent” has never been lower.

I mean, is it possible for Hillary Clinton and Co. to make a worse impression, to come off more disorganized, racist, plagiarizing and lying through their teeth than the GOP? I honestly don’t think it’s possible.

Lots of things I’ll be watching for in the next days, some quick-hit thoughts on what should be a pretty good show in Philadelphia:

— Tim Kaine in his national spotlight audition. I didn’t love Hillary’s choice of the Va. Senator as veep; he’s a bland, moderate white guy, when so many more appealing choices were available (Julian Castro, Elizabeth Warren, hell even Tom Perez would’ve gotten people more excited). But after a few days of reading up on Kaine’s background (dude’s never lost an election, that has to be encouraging), voting record, etc., I think he’s probably a decent choice. I don’t love that he loves Wall Street and banking deregulation so much, but otherwise he checks most liberal boxes. And he’ll help in Virginia. I’m anxious to see what kind of performer he is under the huge spotlight this week.

— Bernie Sanders speaks Monday night, and boy will he have a lot to say. The DNC email leaks scandal is one thing, and happily, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the maestro of the incredibly tilted Democratic primary this year, has resigned. But I really want to hear how Bernie speaks about his core issues, since he did so much better than anyone thought he would, and what he says about Hillary, after months and months of attacking her.

— Michelle Obama speaks tonight, too; will she make me and millions of others happy by starting with “When I was a young girl growing up in Slovenia…”? That would be so awesome.

— The Big Dog, Bill Clinton, talks Wednesday: Will he talk about Hillary as her husband, or as a future President, and how many great one-liners about Trump will he get off?

— Barack Obama’s speech on Wednesday; he and Hillary have some history together as rivals and then partners, and he, too, is in supreme position to push back on all the lies Trump told last week. I hope he calls out every one of them.

Should be a fascinating four nights.

View of an athlete's room at the Olympic and Paralympic Village for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 23, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / YASUYOSHI CHIBAYASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images ORIG FILE ID: AFP_DI6ZI

**Next up today, rarely has an Olympics looked more like a shitshow than these Rio Games appear to be. So many problems in Brazil right now, from the economy, to the uncertain political leadership, and the nation looks completely unprepared to host an Olympics, who oh by the way, start in 10 days.

I don’t know, you think THIS is a bad sign? Sunday the Australian delegation announced that upon arrival at the Olympic Village, where thousands of athletes will be staying, the place was “uninhabitable.”

The toilets wouldn’t work, there was a rank smell, and all sorts of exposed wiring. Again, this is TEN DAYS before the Olympics.

Man oh man, I know lots of Olympics have looked like they’d be disasters before they started, and everything then ran smooth, but I don’t see how that happens here.

**Finally today, one of the few baseball things I pay attention to each year happened Sunday, the annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

I was incredibly fortunate, when I worked in upstate New York for the Glens Falls Post-Star, to get to cover two HOF inductions, and they were awesome, some of the best things I’ve ever covered. Cooperstown is such a special place, the people are incredibly friendly, and Otsego Lake is spectacular.

Anyway, Sunday was this year’s ceremony, with Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey Jr. being enshrined. Griffey Jr., was a no-doubt pick, and it’s still incredible to me that he didn’t get 100 percent of the vote (No one ever has.)

Piazza’s a more iffy case, because rumors of steroids (very, very strong rumors) have dogged him for a long time. But as a New Yorker, what I’ll always remember Piazza for, beyond the whole “Roger Clemens throwing the bat at him in the World Series thing, is that he gave me one of the most indelible sports memories I’ll ever have.

On Sept. 21, 2001, the Mets and Atlanta Braves played the first professional sporting event in New York City since 9/11. The whole city had been feeling so awful for 10 days, and sports seemed even less important than usual. Nobody was smiling, for any reason.

In the bottom of the eighth, with the Mets down a run, Piazza pummeled a pitch over the center field wall for a go-ahead home run. Shea Stadium went nuts. I remember going nuts, too, and I’m a Yankees fan. As Piazza rounded the bases, the sound from the crowd just kept growing and growing, and the TV cameras flashed to a bunch of FDNY firefighters in the crowd, and I get goosebumps right now just watching the above video.

An incredible night I’ll never forget. After so much horror, for two minutes, millions of New Yorkers got to feel just a little bit of joy.

So I’ll always be grateful to Mike Piazza for that.

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…

A visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum is a powerful experience. John Oliver hilariously starts own church. And my annual tribute to the late great Jim Murray

911Museum.Faces

In New York City, the reminders of 9/11 are never too far from your mind. The new Freedom Tower is hard to miss, and going into Lower Manhattan for any reason always makes me think of what happened there now almost 14 years ago.

Sunday, with my best friend in town from Georgia, we decided to visit the brand-new 9/11 Memorial Museum. I knew it would be painful, but I also knew it was another necessary step to remember that day.

The place is, in a word, powerful. And dazzling. And beautifully specific. And emotional (OK, it took me more than one word to describe it.) We spent about four hours there and saw almost everything, but easily could’ve spent more time.
There are artifacts of that awful day, of course; a piece of the wall of one of the towers that fell; a fire truck that was used by one of the ladder companies racing to rescue the thousands trapped inside the World Trade Center.

There was also an enormous room called a “historical exhibition” of 9/11/01, that takes you through the leadup/history of 9/11, a minute by minute account with witness audio and video, including some chilling voicemail recordings left by those who didn’t survive, and a thorough examination of the aftermath and the War on Terror that George W. Bush led us into.

What struck me the most, though, was the room full of faces. Nearly 3,000 people died that day, and the Museum was able to find pictures of just about all of them. You walk through the room and see the photos piled high, one on top of each other, and it just takes your breath away.

I could say lots more about the museum, about why it took so long to open, and about how all the memories of that day came flooding back just a few minutes into our visit.

But I’ll just say this: If you’re in New York, it’s an amazing place to see. And as an American, I think it’s a very, very important one.

**Next up, I haven’t blogged about John Oliver in a while, but his show continues to be the best thing on TV this summer. This clip, from Sunday’s show, is about the continued skullduggery of TV preachers, and how they basically steal money from people.

Watch Oliver’s “investigation” and marvel at how easy it is to set up your own church. The clip is long but hilarious all the way through (And just for fun, call the number at the end, we did and it was great.)

JimMurraytribute

**Finally today, I’m a few days late with this but I still feel it’s important. Every year on or about August 16, the anniversary of his death, I salute in this space the work of the legendary Jim Murray, the greatest sportswriter who ever lived. I still read his old columns sometime, for inspiration, or for a laugh, and the all-time best email I got as a result of writing Wide World of Stuff was from his widow thanking me for remembering him.

And so once again, on the 17th anniversary of his passing (is it possible it’s been that long?), a little bit of Murray greatness.

Here are my two favorite columns of his: First, a touching tribute to his first wife Gerry who had just died. Here’s an excerpt:

She never grew old and now, she never will. She wouldn’t have anyway. She had four children, this rogue husband, a loving family and this great wisdom and great heart, but I always saw her as this little girl running across a field with a swimming suit on her arm, on a summer day on the way to the gravel pit for an afternoon of swimming and laughing. Life just bubbled out of Gerry. We cry for ourselves. Wherever she is today, they can’t believe their good luck.

And second, Murray’s elegy for his left eye, which finally gave out on him in 1979, rendering him mostly blind. The last four paragraphs are just perfect, but here’s another excerpt:

I lost an old friend the other day. He was blue-eyed, impish, he cried a lot with me, saw a great many things with me. I don’t know why he left me. Boredom, perhaps.

We read a lot of books together, we did a lot of crossword puzzles together, we saw films together. He had a pretty exciting life. He saw Babe Ruth hit a home run when we were both 12 years old. He saw Willie Mays steal second base, he saw Maury Wills steal his 104th base. He saw Rocky Marciano get up. I thought he led a pretty good life.

 One night a long time ago he saw this pretty girl who laughed a lot, played the piano and he couldn’t look away from her. Later he looked on as I married this pretty lady.

He saw her through 34 years. He loved to see her laugh, he loved to see her happy …  He recorded the happy moments, the miracle of children, the beauty of a Pacific sunset, snowcapped mountains, faces on Christmas morning. He allowed me to hit fly balls to young sons in uniforms two sizes too large, to see a pretty daughter march in halftime parades. He allowed me to see most of the major sports events of our time. I suppose I should be grateful that he didn’t drift away when I was 12 or 15 or 29 but stuck around over 50 years until we had a vault of memories. 

God, I miss that guy.

12 years after 9/11, and where did the time go? Spitzer and Weiner go down in NYC, and a twist in the mayor’s race. And Arsenio’s back!

911image

Time is a funny thing; it never stops, just keeps marching on, but somehow its passing can still sneak up on you.

I have to be honest: I didn’t realize 9/11 was coming this year. Usually, I start to think about it on Sept. 4, or 5th, as it gets closer and closer and I realize that yet another anniversary of the most awful day of our lives is coming closer.
But this year, it kinda snuck up on me. I didn’t realize this was 9/11 week until Sunday.

And I feel guilty about that. The date deserves and demands to be paid attention to, to be commemorated, and to never, ever be forgotten.

I can’t believe it’s been 12 years. At once it seems like so long ago, and just yesterday, that I was riding a Long Island Rail Road train into NYC that morning, on my way to work, when I heard on my Walkman radio (seriously, I still had a Walkman then) that a second plane had crashed into the Twin Towers.

The memories are awful. But I’m glad they’re still there. I hope they always will be.

My usual 9/11 recommendation: Check out this incredible 9/11 memorial slide show and song by Jason Powers.

Twelve years. Never, ever forget.

banner-america-deblasio-0910
**Tuesday was a big day in New York City politics. First of all, looks like we’ve finally gotten rid of the stench of Anthony Weiner, who finished with a miserable 5 percent of the vote in the mayoral election. (Somewhat surprisingly, Eliot Spitzer, Weiner’s partner in sleaze, also got beat in his race for city comptroller. Not sure Spitzer is dead politically yet, though.)
Second, I actually voted for the winning candidate in the Democratic primary, which rarely happens. Bill de Blasio won, with it appears to be 40 percent of the vote, which means he won’t have to compete in a run-off.
I like De Blasio the more I see and hear of him; he’s a true progressive who will, I hope, end some of the racial profiling practices of the NYPD, and try to rein in the income inequality which is rampant in my city.

It was a good day in NYC politics; a couple of bums were shown the door, and a new, progressive voice should be on his way to City Hall.

arseniohall

**Finally today, this may not mean much to most of you, but Arsenio Hall is back on late-night TV, and I am very excited.
Arsenio was a big part of my childhood; I loved that finally there was a young, hip, funny guy on TV instead of old and stodgy Johnny Carson. Arsenio was a breath of fresh air, he was hilarious, he had different guests (way cooler musical acts than Leno or Letterman did), and he could also do serious, groundbreaking television, like he did when Magic Johnson appeared after telling the world he was retiring because of the HIV virus. (It was truly an extraordinary TV moment; if you don’t remember it, click here for their emotional interview.)

Arsenio dressed different, and acted different, from anyone else on TV back then, and this suburban white kid from Long Island dug him, always trying to stay up a little later to see who was on.

Anyway, Arsenio went away for a while after his show got cancelled in 1994, did some reality TV lately, and now is back with a new late-night show.

I caught the premiere on Monday, and yeah, it was a little cheesy, and yeah, it looked like the exact same kind of show he did in 1994, but you know what? I still dug it. And I’ll still watch occasionally.

He was a happy memory from my childhood, and I’m glad to have him back. Now let’s get busy.

“Parenthood” is back, yay!”. Two 9/11 stories worth your time. And the Chicago teacher’s strike

It’s officially fall TV season, although the show I’m most eagerly anticipating, “Homeland” on Showtime, doesn’t start for another three weeks (Sept. 30, you can’t get here fast enough! Once again, this show is incredible for those of you who haven’t seen it).

Still, I was excited Tuesday night that “Parenthood” is back. I have sort of a love-hate relationship with “Parenthood,” if you’ve been reading my blog awhile. Sometimes it’s fantastic, moving and well-acted and funny and all that’s good about television.

Other times, it’s so ridiculous and far-fetched with its plotlines and how its characters behave, that I get mad at it and throw pillows at the TV (not really, but my fiance has restrained me a few times so I almost did).

But the good parts outweigh the bad, so I came back to the show eagerly Tuesday night (SPOILER ALERT. IF YOU HAVEN’T YET SEEN IT, SKIP DOWN TO THE PHOTO OF THE PICKETING TEACHERS).

I thought it was a pretty good episode. I’m not sure how Ray Romano is going to fit in; this show has enough trouble finding screen time for its huge cast, so one more person (actually two, if we count Joel and Julia’s newly adopted son Victor) just makes it more complicated. But I liked he and Lauren Graham together; they seemed to have good chemistry. Poor Mr. Cyr; you just know things won’t go smooth for this engagement.

I thought Haddie’s departure was sweet; I bet she’ll be back home from Cornell and going to Berkeley by Christmas (and wasn’t it weird that neither parent flew with her to drop her off at college? Seems like a big deal). And I loved Max putting olives on his fingers at family portrait time; such a Max thing to do.

Happy to have “Parenthood” back.

**As someone about to officially enter the teaching profession (I wasn’t able to land a full-time classroom position in NYC this fall, but am hoping to start substitute teaching in a few weeks), I have to weigh in on the continuing saga that is the Chicago teachers strike.

Here’s a terrific little summary of the issues involved, from the Dylan Matthews of the Washington Post.

I have to say that of course I side with the teachers here, but this strike isn’t as cut and dried as “politicians bad, teachers good.” Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his team seem to be willing to at least work with the unions a little here, and clearly Chicago teachers have dug in their heels. (I actually agree with the city that laid-off teachers shouldn’t be “automatically recalled” when jobs open back up.)

I also think it’ll be fascinating to see Barack Obama tap-dance around this one, being that Emanuel was one of his top aides and Obama himself is a big fan of the kind of education reform Emanuel is pushing.

Will be very interesting to see, if this goes on for a while, if it hurts Obama in the campaign.

**And finally, I hope everyone got through 9/11 and the memories of 11 years ago OK. Here are two stories I saw Tuesday that are worth a read. First, a story of an incredible 9/11 artifiact: a note from one of the victims of the World Trade Center attack was found, and 10 years later returned to the man’s wife.

And the second story knocked my socks off; it’s a letter written by Frank Culbertson, an astronaut who was aboard the International Space Station on 9/11. He talks about what he saw, and felt, being so far away and yet being so attached as an American. Truly a perspective you’ve never seen before.

Remembering 9/11, always. Andy Murray wins a pulsating U.S. Open. And the keg that looks like R2D2

Today is September 11, the 11th anniversary of the most horrific attack ever on American soil. There has been much less hoopla about it this year than last, though it strangely comforted me hearing thousands of motorcycles roaring through the streets of Manhattan Monday night, all on their way to a memorial this morning.

I know each person commemorates this awful day in their own way; some people don’t even like to think about the tragedy, while others (like me) want to be reminded of it.
I always try to watch a brilliant HBO documentary called “Telling Nicholas” on this day every year, and I also always point you to this amazing slide show created a week after the towers fell by a man named Jason Powers, called “Can’t Cry Hard Enough.”

Good luck getting through this day however you can.

**Man, professional men’s tennis is an embarrassment of riches these days. We keep getting these scintillating Grand Slam finals, one after another, with the plotlines changing faster than in a John Grisham novel, and the story keeps getting better and better.
Monday evening, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic battled hellacious wind, and each other, for nearly five hours and five sets. It was thrilling, heart-pounding stuff, as each man pounded the ball and fought the stiff breeze, trying to make the other submit.
In the end, history was made, and I think people in the UK will never forget where they were when it happened. Murray became the first British man (well, OK, he’s Scottish) since 1936 to win a Slam title, winning 6-2 in the fifth set.
It was sensational and entertaining tennis; Djokovic played such terrific defense to get in the match, and it surely looked like Murray would wilt after blowing a two sets to love lead.

After the 4th set I tweeted, only half-jokingly, that if Murray loses this after being so close he should never pick up a racket again. But I can’t imagine how crushing it would’ve been if he had lost.

But finally, the UK has a tennis champion again. Murray absolutely deserves it; he’s a worthy champ no doubt.

Man, what an incredible year in men’s tennis; four Slams, four different winners, one each for the “Big 4” in the game.

We tennis fans are so lucky to be living in this golden age.


**Finally, this needs no introduction but it’s something you should see. At LSU, they have a keg that looks like R2D2.

Yep, God bless America.

A few 9/11 pieces worth your time. Federer loses another classic. And football football football! is back

I won’t hit you with a lot of words about 9/11 today. If you’re like me, you’ve seen and read plenty about the 10th anniversary in the last few days.
Instead, I want to point you toward some of the great stuff I’ve come across. If you don’t want to see any of it, I understand. But some of this is truly extraordinary.
— I’ve written about this before; it’s a slideshow video put together a few weeks after 9/11 by a graphic artist named Jason Powers. It’s beautiful.

— An extremely moving piece in the New York Times “Reckoning” series, this one about the artifacts people saved from 9/11, and how much they mean.
— And finally, a photo collage of iconic images from that day 10 years ago when our world changed forever.

**These crushing losses by my man-crush Roger Federer are getting old.
The greatest tennis player of all-time doesn’t just lose matches anymore; he loses epic, Greek tragedy-type matches. For the second year in a row, Fed lost to Novak Djokovic in a scintillating five-set U.S. Open semifinal.
It was almost an exact replica of last year, with Djokovic rallying, Federer having two match points and blowing them, and then Djokovic winning 7-5 in the fifth.
It was splendid, remarkable stuff, everything that could make a person love tennis even more.
But this is now three horrendous five-set losses for Fed in the last year. His year will be Grand Slam-less for the first time since 2002 (which is freaking amazing).
The decline has been slow for Federer, but clearly it’s happening. Two years ago he’d never fail to close. Now, he just can’t seem to finish.
All props, too, to Djokovic, who continues to grow up so much this year. What a fantastic player he is, and his match with Rafael Nadal Monday will be all kinds of fascinating. Can Djokovic beat Rafa for the sixth time this year? Can Nadal strike back?
Also, one more reason why I love Rafael Nadal: The kid oozes class. Skip to 1:20 of this video and watch him, unprompted, pay tribute to 9/11 just a few moments after finishing his match.


**Football’s back! My absolute favorite way to spend a Sunday in the fall is at a sports bar watching six of seven NFL games at once. I eat fried food that’s bad for me, I nurse one drink (bars don’t love me, but hey, I’m not a drinker), and I revel in the joy (and agony, if I’m watching the Jets) of NFL football.
This year is weird for me because I won’t be going to my favorite bar in Daytona Beach where I used to live, Houligans. I’m quite certain at some point Sunday afternoon at Houligan’s Sean the firefighter will turn to Bennett the construction worker (in five years I never learned their last names; they’re not necessary at bars) and say “Hey, where the hell is Mike the crazy Jets fan?”

We were a small but devoted band of fans who saw each other for a few hours every Sunday, and then went our separate ways. But I loved those guys because they were always there and they shared my passion.
Anyway, after intensive Internet research I found a new sports bar near my new home in Queens. It looked OK when I scouted it out last week, but until you’re actually there for games, you never know.
Good news is, my Jets don’t play until 8:20. So my day won’t be ruined until at least, oh, 8:45.
Happy first Sunday of the NFL, everyone.