Tag Archives: Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma’s destruction and the cost of living where you want. A football play that lost 87 yards. And Millenials hating doorbells makes me sad

Like a lot of you I’m sure, I’ve been thinking about hurricanes for the past few weeks, first seeing the awful devastation that hit the Houston area, and then of course last weekend in the entire state of Florida. I don’t want to talk about climate change and weather patterns or any of that today; what I’ve really been pondering the last few days is why we live where we live, and how that sometimes is so important to us that nothing else matters.

Some of us live where we do because that’s where our job took us; some of us live where we do because of family reasons, or health reasons, or because one day we were just tired of moving and decided to stay here. (It’s no secret to my wife that if our family wasn’t here in New York, I’d be perfectly happy living elsewhere; moving around the country most of my adult life has shown me I can be happy in lots of different places.)

But then there are people who just grow so attached to a place, so rooted, that they can’t conceive of ever moving. I’m talking about some of the people in this devastating video (below) that the New York Times shot in the Florida Keys over the past few days. The Keys, as you’ve probably heard, was perhaps the hardest-hit by Irma of any place in Florida. Destruction everywhere, homes destroyed, property severely damaged.

Of course when you live near the water in Florida you know something like this could happen, that storms could upend your life. And yet with so many other places to go, the sense of attachment, of needing to stay in a possibly-dangerous place, is so strong.

Listen to this first man in the video, Kris Mills of Cudjoe Key, Fla. talking about all that he’s lost. After ticking off some items and starting to get emotional, he stops.

“But you know, it’s a part of living here. There’s a price to pay no matter where you live.”

That sentence stopped me cold. Is there really a price to pay no matter where you live? I’m not sure there is. Why would you be so stubborn, and so rooted, in a place where you know there is such danger? Wouldn’t you choose to live somewhere safer?

Listen to Pete Diaz of Key Largo starting at the 1:20 mark of the video. He says “I’ll never leave. Why would I leave?” At the end of the day, this will all be back. Material goods can be replaced. And you keep going.”

I don’t know, I just don’t get this mindset. Like I said, maybe it’s me. Since I started college in 1993, the longest I’d ever lived in one place was five years. Just this year, my sixth being back in New York City, has been the longest I’ve lived somewhere since college.

These people in the Keys, in other tropical places susceptible to hurricanes, love their are so much, that the threat of epic disasters don’t bother them.

It’s amazing to see.

**Next up today, it’s football season now which means there’ll be lots of crazy plays and screw-ups. But even though we’re only in mid-September, I’m going out on a limb and saying this will be the biggest negative play of the year. That’s because starting with this bad snap, the Louisiana Tech offense went backwards 87 yards here. Eighty-seven! What’s most infuriating if I’m a Mississippi St. coach is how many of my players tried to pick the ball up and failed. It’s like the first thing defensive players are told: Fall on the ball! Don’t try to pick it up, just fall on it!

**And finally, a few words about a subject you probably never think about, unless you’re an electrician or a chime salesman: doorbells. It seems that Millennials, in addition to other things they’ve changed in our society (usually for the worse), no longer have any use or need for doorbells.

Nope, they just roll up to their friends’ houses or apartment buildings, text that they’re outside and ready to go, and bam, their friend comes out.

“Doorbells are so sudden. It’s terrifying,” says Tiffany Zhong, a 20-year-old who’s apparently easily frightened.

This story about the death of the doorbell saddens me a little. Apparently people are feeling like its too much effort to ring a doorbell, or they don’t want to scare or frighten their friends by pressing a device that makes a loud sound.

Me? I love doorbells, always have. I enjoyed as a kid going to friends’ houses and hearing the different sounds. One buddy of mine had a grandfather clock-like doorbell, while another one played a lullaby. Then of course there was the ultimate “we’re bored” game, playing “ring and run,” ringing someone you don’t know’s doorbell, running and hiding as they come to the door and are confused, then laughing hysterically (we didn’t have the Internet, people, we often had to make our own fun.)

Plus as a kid,when our doorbell would ring, it was 5-10 seconds of pure excitement.

Who’s at the door? A friend asking if I want to come outside and play street hockey? The UPS guy with a package delivery? A neighbor needing to borrow something? The doorbell ringing was the sign that something was happening, maybe something great, maybe something terrible, but always something to relieve the boredom of life as a kid.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just romanticizing something. But even today I like doorbells, and I’ll be sad if you damn millennials kill them completely.

Ding dong, the witch is not yet dead.

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.