Tag Archives: Martin Luther King Jr.

An NFL playoff game finish like no other, as the Vikings pull off a miracle. Remembering MLK’s greatest speech on his day. And one guy in Hawaii almost ended the world Saturday

It has become sort of a tradition on Twitter, when something amazing happens in the world of bats and balls and sweaty people, for myself and others to simply Tweet, “Sports, man. Sports.”

Because sometimes there just is no explanation. No rhyme or reason, no cogent analysis of why something completely improbable happened. Just that it did, and it brought such joy and anguish, and I’m going to stop waxing poetic now and just show you this:

The New Orleans Saints led the Minnesota Vikings 24-23 with 10 seconds to go Sunday in Minnesota. The Vikings had blown a 17-point lead and were about to lose, yet again, in excruciating fashion in the playoffs. And then, with the stadium cathedral-quiet, this happened…

Or, viewed another way, from the vantage point of the field at U.S. Bank Stadium, THIS happened (Warning: the crowd noise gets insanely loud a few seconds in, so watch yourself)

The Minnesota Vikings won a remarkable, improbable football game Sunday night, thanks to some really poor defense by the Saints, and some sort of miracle magic from above (Kirby Puckett and Prince cooked up something fierce).

I was driving in the car listening on radio when it happened, both little boys sleeping in the back seat, my wonderful wife indulging me listening to a game in which she knew I cared about neither team, and when the play occurred I think I yelped four octaves above my normal range, and probably swerved into the right lane of the Long Island Expressway.

Crazy, crazy game. Now Minnesota plays Philadelphia, two pretty tortured franchises, each playing a quarterback nobody ever expected to see on the field this year, certainly not in an NFC Championship game. Should be fantastic.

Some other thoughts from a pretty freaking fabulous NFL playoff weekend:

— Jacksonville? Jacksonville! Big congrats to any team that can put up 45 points on the road when Blake Bortles is the quarterback. That was one hell of a win in Steelers-ville, 45-42. Do I give the Jaguars any chance to beat New England next week? Yeah, they have a chance. It would take a pretty major miracle, but may I remind you what happened at the end of the Vikings/Saints game?

— Not pretty, that Eagles win over Atlanta Saturday. But I know a lot of Eagles fans and they don’t care how ugly any win is, nor should they. Their star QB Carson Wentz is out, and Nick Foles played pretty damn well, and the Atlanta Falcons did what the Falcons do in most postseasons with Matt Ryan as their QB, and that’s underwhelm. Atlanta absolutely could’ve and maybe should’ve won that game, but as usual, fell a bit short.

— Hilarious to think of the four remaining starting quarterbacks in the playoffs. Hmmm, let’s see, which one of these is not like the other: Bortles. Keenum. Foles … Tom Brady.

— Every time the Steelers lose in the playoffs I see a lot of screaming from their fans about how bad a coach Mike Tomlin is. And I always say the same thing: Please, let him come coach the Jets. We’ll suffer through these 12-win seasons and constant playoff appearances. SMH.

**Next up, today  is of course Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so I hope you all take a few minutes and listen to this incredible piece of American oratory, from August 28, 1963.

Every time I listen to it, I still get a few chills. What an amazing man.

**And finally today, this ought to leave you feeling warm and fuzzy and hopeful about the future. There was a fairly serious emergency panic in Hawaii on Saturday, due to an accidental emergency missile attack alert being sent out from the state government’s alert system. From The Washington Post, here’s how it happened:

Shortly after 8 a.m. local time Saturday morning, an employee at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency settled in at the start of his shift. Among his duties that day was to initiate an internal test of the emergency missile warning system: essentially, to practice sending an emergency alert to the public without actually sending it to the public.

Around 8:05 a.m., the Hawaii emergency employee initiated the internal test, according to a timeline released by the state. From a drop-down menu on a computer program, he saw two options: “Test missile alert” and “Missile alert.” He was supposed to choose the former; as much of the world now knows, he chose the latter, an initiation of a real-life missile alert.

A drop-down menu? Seriously? Who among us, and I’m completely serious, hasn’t accidentally clicked the wrong thing on a drop down menu?

Hey here’s a tip to all governments, everywhere: Put the “test” button option and the “Missile alert” option on separate buttons. Separate screens, or hell, how about separate computers!

Hugs and kisses,

The World.

Advertisements

Good News Friday: A little girl’s awesome reaction to getting a TD ball. The Cavaliers do an awesome MLK Day tribute. And the best free-throw distraction technique ever. And a beautiful tribute to a fallen police K-9.

And a Happy Friday to you! As we await the mother of all snowstorms here in the Northeast (one of those times where I’m thrilled to live in a city where you can walk everywhere, and there’s no need to drive in this muck), I bring you three stories of joy and good cheer.

Of course, my ultimate good cheer would be seeing Brady and Belichick lose on Sunday and Ted Cruz suddenly getting deported, but hey, we can’t be greedy.

First up today, speaking of football, the above video was a small moment of joy from last week’s Panthers-Seahawks game. Carolina running back Jonathan Stewart scored a touchdown and, taking a cue from star quarterback Cam Newton, handed the ball to a young fan.

Her face is priceless; just look at the sheer joy on her face from such a small gesture and moment. She will never, ever forget that.

**Next up, the Cleveland Cavaliers did something tremendous during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day game on Monday. A few years ago, some archivists were working on a project and found audio of an MLK speech he gave to a Cleveland high school in 1967, just a year before he died.

It’s a phenomenal speech, very different from his tone at the famous “I Have a Dream” oration in 1963.

At halftime Monday, the Cavs put together a phenomenal presentation of the speech at halftime of their game vs. Golden State, interspersing the speech with photos of King on the arena floor.

A few amazing excerpts, but I highly recommend watching the whole thing:

— “Set out to do a good job and do that job so well that nobody can do it any better. “Set out to do a good job and do that job so well that nobody can do it any better. If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures. “Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. “Sweet streets like Beethoven composed music. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.’

“We must keep moving. If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl. But by all means, keep moving.”

Just a phenomenal, beautiful presentation by the Cavs. God, what an incredible speaker King was. Joe Posnanski wrote a column about the Cavs doing this here.

**Finally, this struck me as pretty hilarious. College and high school student sections have, for decades, tried a bunch of different techniques to distract free throw shooters.

This one, from Sheridan High School in Ohio, is one I’ve never seen before. The kids decided to pretend to have a live “birth” while their opponent was taking a foul shot.

Their parents must be so proud!

Good News Friday: I have so many bathroom choices in my new apartment . Rafa Nadal a class act, again. And MLK’s speech, still great 50 years on

move

So Thursday was moving day for the Lewises, and as exciting as it was to be re-locating from our tiny 1-bedroom Manhattan closet into a 2-bedroom, 2 1/2 bath (“I could choose among 3 toilets to pee in!” I exclaimed at one point, and yes I acknowledge that I’m weird), it was also pretty exhausting.

In fact, I thought of a whole bunch of things I wanted to blog about the moving experience, since all of you have gone through it to and can relate, but have forgotten most of them.
Still, a few parting shots before I head off to bed, exhausted, and feeling like I’m at a hotel since this whole place feels foreign to me:

— Moving company guys were great; very efficient, hard-working, and worked fairly quickly. But they left a bad taste in my mouth at the end when, after my wife paid them, with tip included, they guilted her into a bigger tip by, basically, asking for one. I thought it was in really poor taste.

— We moved from a Manhattan building with 450 apartments, to one with only 74. It truly feels like we went from a chain hotel to a bed and breakfast; at the new place all the doormen and staff knew we were moving in today, took the time to welcome us, and really were friendly.
— In that same vein, I learned that there are no mailboxes and mailbox keys for the residents at the new building; the front desk lobby guy sorts all the mail and then gives it to you when you come in at the end of the day.
On the one hand, it’s sweet and quaint. On the other, do I really want this dude knowing everything I get in the mail? I mean, we expect our postal guy to know about our personal business, but that’s his job. This just seems a little odd to me.

— Finally, and maybe only some of you will appreciate this fully, it’s truly outstanding to once again have a washer and dryer in my own apartment. For years I schlepped down to various laundry rooms and laundromats, and it was always a pain. To know I can now throw in a few loads and only have to go 10 feet is a beautiful thing.

— Last thing: I never want to see another box again. All around me for weeks: boxes. All around me now: Boxes. I swear if I hear Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” on the radio this week, I may snap and go all Michael Douglas “Falling Down” on the world.

nadal

**It’s not exactly a state secret to you readers that I’m an enormous fan of one Roger Federer, but like I’ve said before I never really have been able to develop a hatred for his biggest rival, Rafael Nadal, mostly because Nadal is such a good guy as well.
He still flies coach sometimes, his ego is the size of a gnat, and he truly seems to get how fortunate he is to do what he loves so well.

A few weeks ago I wrote about Federer making a sick fan’s dreams come true, and this week at the U.S. Open Rafael Nadal had a wonderful encounter with a fan who has suffered so greatly in his short life.

Read this for a reminder of why tennis is so lucky to have a guy like Nadal be a star.

Finally today, I’ve been a little distracted the past few days and haven’t seen some of the what I’m sure was terrific news coverage of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s brilliant “I Have A Dream” speech.
Recently I saw a piece on CBS News about the speech and learned that King improvised the whole “I Have a Dream” section. Amazing he could be that eloquent right on the spot.

Here’s the speech, it’s always worth watching.

In praise of a really good NYC hospital. My student asks a great MLK question. And the worst human of 2013 (man who hit baby on flight)

hospital-jpg

We had an unexpected medical scare in my family last week; my stepfather has been having some heart trouble recently, and my Mom checked him into Lenox Hill Hospital here in New York City last Monday night.

Fortunately, he seems to be OK now, but over the course of the next five days, I saw a truly great hospital up close.
There were nurses everywhere. Doctors came in and out, different specialists of all kinds (at first they didn’t know what was wrong with my stepfather, so at various times he saw a gastro guy, a neurologist, and a cardiologist.)

Sure, there were some bad points, and information didn’t always get passed to us quickly. But I think we hear horror stories about hospitals too much that we forget what small miracles they are.

You go in when you’re sick, they examine you, usually find out what’s wrong, and send you home better than when you came in (and with some great drugs!)

I’m glad my stepfather was in a good hospital, and I got to see hard-working, dedicated medical pros at work.

Never take for granted what a top team of physicians can do. I just hope we dont’ have to see them again for a long time.

martin-luther-king2

**One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about substitute teaching so far is the unexpected questions that come my way (and no, “why can’t I go to the bathroom now?” isn’t one of them).

I was in class last week helping students with an assignment where they had to analyze Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. I got to talking with one of the male students and he said, “Hey, how come there’s never been a great Hollywood movie about him?”

I thought about it for a second. We had a Malcolm X movie, a JFK movie, and movies about so many other great 1960s figures.
But we’ve never had a great MLK movie. And I have no idea why. Is it that Hollywood is too scared to take on such a controversial figure?

Just did a few minutes of Internet research and I found that two feature-length movies are in the works about MLK, and Oprah Winfrey is supposedly helping produce a 7-part mini-series about the Reverend for HBO, though I can’t find any stories talking about it since 2010.

I do hope we get a great King movie made; his legacy certainly deserves one.

Crying-Baby-001

** Finally today, I know it’s only mid-February, but I think we may have found the worst human being of 2013 already.

His name is Joe Rickey Hundley, and on Feb. 8 he was aboard a Delta Air Lines flight and seated next to a woman named Jessica Bennett, who was travelling with her 19-month-old son Jonah.

Upon the plane’s final descent, young Jonah started crying a bit, which is of course natural for babies due to the altitude change.

So instead of just ignoring the child, ole’ Joe Rickey, who was also allegedly drunk, slapped Jonah in the face and used a racial slur toward Bennett.

Hundley was arrested and charged with simple assault, but his penalty ought to be locked up in roomful of crying babies for eternity.

I mean, slapping an infant???? Throw the book at this disgrace to humanity.

The Smoking Gun story about man who hit crying baby in the face.

Irene slams N.C. and N.J., but leaves us New Yorkers pretty OK. The MLK speech turns 48. And “Curb” gives us a holy trinity of guest stars

And so Hurricane Irene has come and gone, leaving destruction in its wake from North Carolina all the way up the coast.
New Jersey is mostly flooded. Millions of people are without power in their homes.  And good luck driving in Vermont, where so much of the state is under water.
So don’t let anyone tell you this storm was overhyped. No, it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been. But it still was devastating.
Fortunately, my fellow NYC brethren and I got off reasonably OK. My neighborhood in Queens had some downed trees, and fortunately my basement apartment stayed un-flooded.
Some other scattered thoughts from my brain after 48 hours of all Irene, all the time:
— CNN showed some “geniuses” on their boats in Newport, R.I. before the storm, and one father was saying how safe it was on the boat, and that even though it was a mandatory evacuation area he was staying put. And his 11-year-old son was right there smiling and nodding, too.
That father should’ve been arrested for child abuse on the spot.
—  Can someone explain to me how Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York can still have a Boston accent after 10 years as the mayor here? He still sounds like Mikey from Worcester.
— Had never been woken up out of a deep sleep before Sunday morning. But damn at 3 a.m. it was howling outside.
— I know its easy to bash the TV networks for overhyping Irene, and sure I think its goofy that they make those reporters stand out there on the beach in 100 miles per hour wind. But honestly, no sarcasm intended, I thought TV did a really good job covering this storm.
— That’s a picture of Cape Hatteras, N.C. from Sunday. Tell those people the storm was overhyped.

**Sunday was the 48th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech, “I Have A Dream.”
One of the greatest oratories of all time. Enjoy:

**Finally, another pretty solid “Curb Your Enthusiasm” was on Sunday. Not nearly as good as some of the other ones this season (last week’s “juicing” episode was an all-time classic), but Sunday brought the most awesome guest starring trio ever.

It was: Tony Soprano’s sister (Aida Turturro),  Miles Silverberg from the late, great “Murphy Brown” (Grant Shaud), and the awesome Max Medina from “Gilmore Girls!”(Scott Cohen). For you Gilmore fans, here’s a link to the Max proposal (an awesome scene) and the Lorelai acceptance (also a great scene)
Three totally random but awesome actors in one tiny little Curb episode. Awesome. And now a classic scene I just found on Youtube featuring Aida Turturro and James Gandolfini; watch the slow burn on her face around the 2:10 mark.
God that was a great show.

The Supreme Court does the right thing by kid criminals. And grandma’s selling crack again

I haven’t agreed with a lot of what the John Roberts Supreme Court has done.

Certainly the Citizens United case a few months ago, where the Court ruled that corporations can spend as much as they want on political campaigns, was pretty disgusting.

But I must say I was very pleased that on Monday the court barred sentences of life in prison without parole for juveniles not convicted of murder.

Mistakes made when you’re 15, 16, 17 years old should not end your life, as long as you haven’t taken another life. Of course crimes like armed robbery are serious, and teenagers should absolutely pay the price for those offenses.

But now, after ruling on a Florida case before it, the Court agreed that life without parole for juveniles is excessive, and cruel and unusual.

There is hope. There is rehabilitation that can occur, when you’re that young. Now, if we could just get our government to put more money into rehabilitation and treatment, instead of just building more prisons and locking people up for decades for non-violent drug offenses, we might have a different society.

But hey, that’s probably asking too much.

***Hard to top this story for fun. If it’s been said once, it’s been said a thousand times: You can’t trust grandmas to stop selling drugs.

In Pensacola, Fla., last week  an 87-year-old woman named Ola Mae Agee was busted for selling crack cocaine to an undercover police officer. She lives on Martin Luther King Drive (what did Chris Rock always say: “Martin Luther King Jr. stood for peace and non-violence. Yet in every city in America, you don’t want to be on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Bad things happen there.”)

Grandmas selling crack. I’m wondering if hard candy tastes better when you’re high.

When reporters helped change the world

RaceBeat2

So two things combined this week to inspire me to write this post:

1. Like every other newspaper  journalist I know, I’ve been getting sick and tired of everyone telling us how irrelevant we’re becoming.

We’ve got blogs now, and Twitter, and the Internet, and who has time to wait for a newspaper anyway? goes the cry from the masses. Combine that with the hemorrhaging circulation and advertising being in the toilet, it seems everywhere you look, newspapers are gasping for their last breath.

And,

2. Today, August 28, is the 46th anniversary of the greatest speech of the 20th century, Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” oration in Washington, D.C.

So given those two things, I wanted to write about an amazing book I read last year called “The Race Beat.” It’s by two legendary journalists, Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff, and it tells the previously untold story of the courageous journalists, black and white, who helped force the civil rights movement forward into the American consciousness.

By no means does this exhaustive but entertaining book give the journalists all the credit for the movement, but it absolutely does a service to the brave reporters who were on the front lines.

Reporters who had a conscience, yes, about the unconscionable treatment of blacks in the South, but also reporters who knew a good story and knew enough to follow it all the way through.

Typical of them was John Chancellor of NBC, who, the authors write “when faced with a flying wedge of white toughs coming at him” as he talked to a black woman after the Emmett Till lynching trial, pointed his microphone out and yelled “I don’t care what you’re going to do to me, but the whole world is going to know it.”

These reporters were on the front lines right alongside men like Ralph Abernathy and John Lewis, getting their heads bashed in and hosed down with water just like the rest.

Seriously, without reporters like Claude Sitton of the New York Times (who I had never heard of before this book was published, and now I count as a journalistic hero) and Simeon Booker of Jet Magazine, so much of the awful degradation and punishment of African-Americans might’ve stayed under the radar.

And the photographers of the era were equally important; Charles Moore of Life magazine shot some of the most iconic images that were then splashed across America’s coffee tables.

But by constantly confronting the Bull Connors and George Wallaces, and holding a mirror up to their racism, the reporters in the civil rights movement did my whole profession proud.

Of course, not everyone was on board; newspapers like the Birmingham News and others were still trapped in a time warp, refusing to acknowledge the changes going on.

But a small trickle of brave editors like Harry Ashmore at the Little Rock Gazette begat brave editors, and more and more media finally began to cover the civil rights movement, so that brutal attacks on innocent protesters, like the people crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama in 1965, would be seen and shoved down the throats of Northerners, forcing them to take notice and demand action just as their Southern brothers were doing.

Truly, this book should be essential reading for journalism students, or any students of American history. If you’re a writer like me, turning its pages will once again make you feel proud to be a part of this profession.

Even if you’re not a journalist, I urge you to check out this beautifully-written tale of courageous people , black and white, who by their words and pictures helped change the world for the better.

And now, just because it can never be heard enough …