Tag Archives: Matt Taibbi

Finally, mercifully, the election is here. And Marathon Sunday in NYC once again is awesome

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National Public Radio did a regular segment on one of their shows a few years back called “This I Believe,” where ordinary Americans did a 60-second speech about what their core beliefs are. It was quick-hitting, often sad or funny but always interesting.

We’re now one day away from, no joke, the most important Presidential election of my lifetime. It is that not because of events currently going on in the world, but because of the sheer terror and horror that would be caused on a global scale should a vulgar, talking yam who’s a bigoted, narcissistic egomaniac actually win.

Twenty-four hours out from Election Day 2016, a day millions of us are thrilled is finally here, let me tell you a few things I believe about tomorrow:

— I believe, as I have for the past year, that Hillary Rodham Clinton will be elected President. It will be an historic, important day. She will clear 310 electoral votes, win the popular vote by 3-5 percent, and go on to become a good President.

— I believe the Democrats will take back the Senate, 52-48, and by golly we’ll actually get the Supreme Court back to nine members, move forward on closing Guantanamo Bay and fixing this nation’s crumbling infrastructure, and keep moving forward on so many other issues. I believe the Democrats will gain about 15 seats in the House but not gain the majority.

— I believe there will be violence on Election Day, between Trump supporters and Hillary voters, and I believe there’s a high likelihood of someone being killed at a polling station. I’m fairly certain there will be bloodshed.

— I believe we will be hearing for weeks and months about voter suppression of minorities and people of color, and these stories will disgust me completely and surprise me not a whit.

— I believe that picture (above) of Hillary and LeBron James will make me laugh for weeks.

— I believe we all need 38 seconds of an adorable-ness interlude: When the President met Kid Superman at a Halloween party last week:

— I believe on Nov. 9 Donald Trump will go back to his real estate empire and his television shows, and secretly breathe a sigh of relief he doesn’t have to be leader of the free world. And I believe he will smile for decades at the con he pulled on so many, making them think he’s one of them. I believe we will hear more and more stories about what a disgusting human being he is, and he will still continue to be a TV star and not give one fuck about what damage he’s done to America.

–Finally, I believe the damage he has done to America, “normalizing” racism, hatred and pure willful refusal to acknowledge any truth that isn’t what they agree with, will last a long time and be hard to eradicate.

I want to leave you today by first linking to this scathing, hilarious article by Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone, about being on the road at some Trump rallies in late October.
But more importantly,  I want to share  two stories that illustrate what our country could be, pending the election results.

The first story is a deeply troubling tale of young children having Trump’s message of hatred and intolerance seep into their lives, with the headline “All the black and brown people have to go.”

And then there’s this story from the Washington Post, of a 10-year-old girl seeing a new student from a foreign country who doesn’t speak English sitting alone at lunch, using Google Translate to write a note to him in Spanish, and then becoming best buds with him.

Your choice, America. What kind of country would you like to live in?

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**OK, enough depressing election talk. Sunday was one of my favorite days of the year, that I look forward to for weeks: It was New York City Marathon Sunday, which for those of us who live along the route makes it incredibly cool.

For the first time in the four years we’ve lived along 1st Avenue, the weather Sunday was just perfect. High 50s, sunshine, only a little wind. It’s hard to describe how overwhelming it is, seeing thousands and thousands of runners, many of whom have trained for this day for years, just coming down the street at you in wave after wave.
Like I do every year, I screamed hundreds of runners’ names, then relished their surprised reaction when someone knew them (Hey, you put your name on your shirt, you’re going to get your name called!). I got a great spot this year right along the railing at 62nd and 1st, and must have high-fived two dozen runners.

I saw some pretty creative signs, most done with friends and family’s names, but this one really made me laugh out loud.

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There were great costumes as always; I counted a bunch of Spidermans, Batmans, a few Elsa’s from “Frozen,” and even a dude dressed in a tank top and an American flag Speedo.

I once again marveled at the wide range of ages, ethnicities and body types. I was happy to high-five both a 71-year-old man and a teenage girl, each happily running to their own beat.

The New York City Marathon is the best. There’s such joy, agony and pure exhaustion on each runner’s face, and getting to soak it all in up close is one of the great joys of the year for me.

I still dream of one day running this race; I got up to doing a 10K a few years ago and then kinda stopped training.

If and when I do it, I hope I remember to enjoy it as much as I saw so many enjoying their once in a lifetime moment on Sunday.

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The Jets finally win, and I’m no longer a Red Zone Channel virgin. Matt Taibbi exposes more criminality at JPMorgan Chase. And a soldier learns to walk again

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My son turns two months old today, and until Sunday his lifetime had not included a New York Jets victory.

And I sure as hell didn’t see that first win since the opening week of the NFL season coming yesterday, against Ben Roethlisberger, who had thrown 12 touchdown passes over the past two weeks.
But in one more reason why  I never, ever wager money on the outcome of a football game, the Jets dominated and befuddled Pittsburgh and left the 40,000 Steelers fans who invaded MetLife Stadium quiet and sitting on their Terrible Towels most of the day.

Look, I know it’s crazy to feel happy that a 1-8 team finally won another game, and I know it changes nothing. But for the first time all season, I actually smiled and marveled at my favorite football team, while being amazed at some of the things that were happening (the Jets caused four turnovers? And converted in the red zone? And the Steelers kicker shanked a 25-yard FG? It was bizarro world out there).

Two and eight is still a disgusting record, and maybe this win cost the Jets the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft and a shot at Marcus Mariota, the stud QB from Oregon. But you know what? I didn’t care. It was just nice to enjoy one tiny slice of this pathetic Jets season.

Some other NFL thoughts a typically dramatic football Sunday…

— So I finally was able to abandon Time Warner Cable and switch to Verizon Fios cable service last week, a move I’d been begging my apartment complex to allow since the day we moved in last year (Seriously, Time Warner is the worst company in America.) And with my new cable package came the slice of crack cocaine I’d heard about for years, but had never inhaled: The NFL Red Zone Channel.
Oh yes, I could finally see what the cool kids were watching.

For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, Red Zone Channel is like viewing football on speed: On this orgy of pigskin, you the viewer get bounced around to every single game where a scoring play either might happen or is about to happen, every time a team gets inside the 20-yard-line. Sometimes tje screen is split into 3 or 4 boxes if multiple teams are about to score, and all the switching is narrated by a dude in a studio pressing buttons furiously.

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I have heard it’s more addictive than cigarettes and cocaine, but I dipped a toe in Sunday, watching some of the 4 p.m. games on Red Zone. It was dizzying and whiplash-y and sometimes they literally cut away from one game before a scoring player’s buddies had even reached the end zone to celebrate with him.

I’m a master at watching multiple games at a sports bar, but this Red Zone channel was just too herky-jerky for me. I’d be really getting into a game, and then suddenly be thrown over to another one. Red Zone Channel is perfect for our 2-second attention span world, but I didn’t like it.

I’m putting the pipe down and walking away.

-Nice effort, Bears. Always nice when you can turn off a game before the first quarter is even over.

— What the hell happened to Drew Brees? Didn’t he used to be an elite QB? He was pretty terrible, a lot of times, on Sunday.

— How much fun would a Detroit-Cleveland Super Bowl be? Talk about 2 tortured fan bases. I know it won’t happen, but both teams are in first place and man that would be fun. I have a feeling ticket prices would be through the roof because both teams’ fans would sell body parts to see their team in the Super Bowl.

— Finally, the NFL line of the day on Twitter from the hilarious @PourMeCoffee, about inept Jacksonville playing in London again: “We fought side-by-side with Britain to beat back Hitler and fascism and we send them the Jaguars twice in two years. Shame on us.”

**Next up, Matt Taibbi is back with another explosive Rolling Stone article, exposing yet more disgusting, criminal behavior from bankers and managers at JP Morgan Chase back in 2007 and 2008, behavior that helped lead to the economic meltdown in America.

A brave whistle-blower named Alayne Fleischmann bore witness to the NINE billion dollar fraud and has spoken out. The details are chilling and so brazen that it will make you angry all over again that none of the financial head honchos were ever sent to jail for what they did.
Just hideous.

**And finally, a heartwarming video from World Wrestling Entertainment, and yes I’ve never written that sentence before. A wounded soldier named Dan Rose stands and walks, in a beautiful moment that will hopefully brighten up your Monday.

Matt Taibbi’s blistering new book is fabulous. The best ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” you’re going to see. And Billy Joel serenades Christie Brinkley (again).

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**Just got home and am watching some of the disgusting and disturbing video of the Ferguson, Mo. police firing on peaceful protesters, arresting journalists (and tear-gassing them, above), and turning the town into a military state. What country are we living in, again?

Long, long ago there used to be a great newspaper tradition of the “muckraking journalist,” guys like Upton Sinclair and Mike Wallace who would expose corruption, fraud and the incredible double standards that exists in the law between rich and poor, black and white, etc.

Matt Taibbi is probably the best “muckraker” working today; he has written incredible stories for “Rolling Stone” and other publications for years, and his latest book, “The Divide,” has been on the New York Times bestseller list for months.

I finally got around to reading it this week, and it is sensational. It made me angry, sad, made me laugh and shake my fist, sometimes all in the same paragraph. This is a really, really important book.

Taibbi takes on several different topics in the book, including the appalling behavior of the police when dealing with minorities, immigration laws and discrimination, and the 2008 financial crisis that saw so many financial institutions commit crimes, yet no one went to jail.

What runs through every section is the incredible divide between the haves and have nots, that the same crime committed by a Hispanic man in Los Angeles will be punished differently than if it’s committed by a while middle-class professional in Chicago. The world poor people live in and rich people live in isn’t even in the same universe anymore, Taibbi argues.

Using personal stories that will shock you (the most shocking one comes at the end, involving a white musician and police brutality) and make you think, Taibbi’s reporting is terrific, and he breaks down complex financial crimes so that even non-money whizzes can understand them (his work on the Fairfax financial scam is the best part of the book).

It’s appalling how certain groups are treated in America. I knew it was bad, I knew as a white middle-class guy I had it pretty good. But this book showed me just how very far we have to go to achieve any sort of justice and equality for all.

You can buy “The Divide” here. Definitely recommend it.

 

**So this ALS Ice Bucket Challenge thing has gone viral super-fast; if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m guessing you haven’t been on the Internet this week, but a quick explanation: In a brilliant attempt to raise money and awareness of the awful disease (more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease), the ALS Association has gotten celebrities of all stripes to take the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” which consists of a person allowing another person to dump a Gatorade jug of ice and freezing cold water over their head.

Football players are doing it, actors are doing it, hell, some 9-year-old friend of my nephew’s at day camp did it too; the other part that keeps it going is that after you suffer the freezing cold, you challenge three other people to do it too.

This one I embedded above, though, has to be the coolest one yet; hockey player Paul Bissonnette on top of a mountain, getting glacier water poured on him, from a dude in a helicopter.  So great.

The ALS Foundation reports the challenge has raised more than $2 million already; if you would like to donate, please click here.

**Finally, it’s great to be Billy Joel sometimes. Last week the music icon was doing a concert at Madison Square Garden and spotted Christie Brinkley, his ex-wife and the woman about whom he wrote the song “Uptown Girl” back in the 1980s, sitting in the crowd.

So of course he then launched into “Uptown Girl” and had his video cameraman film her reaction (at the end you can see her). So, so cool.

And how the hell does Christie Brinkley still look so amazing at 60-plus?