Tag Archives: Paul McCartney

PBS documentary on NFL concussions is frightening but great. Paul McCartney plays a high school auditorium. And a man who lives inside a cube

For at least a decade now, stories have been coming out about how the National Football League, in its desire to keep the most popular sport in America so popular, has downplayed, ignored and downright lied about how serious the concussion problem has been among its players.

Each story has chipped away at the NFL’s power only a tiny bit, as despite player after player dying early, and so many of their brains showing major damage from a lifetime of hits, the public has generally ignored the reports and continued to watch the sport.

I’m not exempt; I have read many of the stories and then continued to enjoy my autumn Sundays watching the sport I love.

But Wednesday I watched the outstanding new PBS documentary, “League of Denial,” and I don’t know if I’ll ever watch the sport the same way again.

Produced by PBS and starring two ESPN reporters who just wrote a book called “League of Denial,” the two-hour show takes us through the history of the concussion epidemic, and how callously and blithely the NFL ignored the research done on the brains of former players like Mike Webster, Ricky Watters and others.
Research that showed a devastating deterioration of the brain after millions of collisions.
Then-NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and his cronies in the 1990s and early 2000s not only ignored scientific evidence, they went out of their way to smear and attack the reputations of doctors like Bennett Omalu and Ann McKee, who God forbid dared to present actual proof that playing football could be bad for your long-term mental acuity.

The documentary is painstakingly precise and paints a portrait of a league that, for all its phony B.S., didn’t care enough about its players to even acknowledge that there was a problem.

“League of Denial” isn’t going to suddenly make NFL football less popular. But it’s an extraordinary indictment of the NFL, and I highly recommend watching it.

It’ll be on PBS a few more times this month, but here’s a link to the full show available online.

**Next up, this ad looks like it could totally be real; for the first few minutes of this I was totally believing it. It’s about a guy named “Dave” who says he lives inside a cube at Astor Place in New York City; would not surprise me in the least if it had turned out to be a real thing, not just an ad.

Still, really brilliantly done ad.


**Finally today, this was pretty awesome.

Paul McCartney played a bunch of old Beatles songs, and some of his new tunes, to a school-full of teenagers at a New York-area school Wednesday (hat tip to loyal reader Sanford for pointing me to this story). Happily, the teenagers seemed to know the old Fab Four songs, singing along and getting pretty excited for the old geezer.

There’s hope for the future yet, my fellow Americans.


Good News Friday: The “12-12-12” concert mostly rocked. A gift idea for your favorite drinker. And Andre Johnson takes kids to Toys R’ Us


Good News comes from all walks of life today, but it starts with one of the most epic concerts I’ve ever seen.

The concert for Sandy Relief, or the “12-12-12” show at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night, was fantastic, if a little over-packed with old, white dudes who kicked ass through the 70s, 80s, 90s, and the Aughts, and are still rocking in the ’10s (can we call this decade the ’10s? Good).
It went on for about 43 hours (OK, about six), and was filled with highlights and a few lowlights, and raised $30 million from ticket sales and corporate donations so far (they haven’t tallied all the Internet and phone pledges yet).

A few quick-hit thoughts after watching the show:

— Best performances were Bruce Springsteen (never lets a crowd down), Alicia Keys, the Stones, and, much to my surprise, Chris Martin of Coldplay. He did a great duet with Michael Stipe (who looked awful but sounded great), had some funny jokes, and truly seemed honored to be there.

— Worst performances? Adam Sandler blaspheming by doing a version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallejulah” was terrible. I thought the skit with Seth Meyers was awful. And, I expect to get hit by lightning after writing this, but I wasn’t thrilled by Paul McCartney’s performance. He did two “Wings” songs, for God’s sake. “Live and Let Die” was good, as was “Blackbird,” but I dunno, I just didn’t love Sir Paul on this night.

— Wow, was Roger Daltrey’s chest waxed. But he looked and sounded great. Keith Richards, well, I’ve seen corpses that looked better.

— Maybe I’m sensitive as a native New Yorker, but it pissed me off how many celebs claim to be “New Yorkers.” Chelsea Clinton (from Arkansas) and Sandler (from New Hampshire) both claimed to be natives on the show. Just wrong.

Kanye West’s leather skirt. Ummm, yeah. Great fashion choice. As someone on Twitter said, “Leave him alone. He came straight to the concert from his field hockey game.”

— Crazy that Keys was the only female on the entire show (which someone joked was “a five-hour Cialis commercial.). They couldn’t have gotten Pink, or Sheryl Crow, or Gwen Stefani?


**Next, I have the perfect gift for you if you or someone you love loves beer, and loves keeping their hands warm.

Heard about these on the radio, and then had to see them for myself: An Icelandic company makes beer mittens, so you can hold your Budweiser and keep your digits warm all at the same time.

Bloody brilliant. I don’t even drink beer and I want a pair.


**Finally, one of the good guys of the NFL is Andre Johnson, the world-class wide receiver for the Houston Texans. Every year, Johnson takes a group of at-risk Houston kids and gives them a shopping spree at Toys R’ Us. They have 80 seconds to each grab as much as they can and shove it into a shopping cart.

This year’s spree came to $19,521, which means those kids knew exactly where the big ticket items were. Bravo, Andre. (That’s him with the receipt, above)

A book I cannot praise enough. A great meal. And Kennedy Center honors a Beatle

Finished an amazing book the other night, one I thought I wrote about when it came out but alas, I had not.
I first learned about Dirk Hayhurst, a minor league baseball pitcher, a couple of years ago when someone sent me a blog post he was writing for his hometown newspaper in Canton, Ohio. It was smart, witty and remarkably level-headed. I remember sending it to a few people I know because I was so stunned that an athlete had so captured his sport, in writing.
Eventually, Hayhurst decided to keep a journal of his experiences for the 2007 season, and the result is the hilarious, poignant and can’t-put-it-down “The Bullpen Gospels.”
It’s a baseball book, but really it’s a life book. There is some incredibly juvenile stuff in here, but that’s what life on a minor league baseball team is sometimes. Some of the book is dark, as Hayhurst, definitely no-longer a big-league prospect, struggles with his failures on the field, his brother’s alcoholism and how it’s affected his family, and whether he should just quit.
The book is also riotously funny, and wise, and the last 20 pages will knock your socks off.
I highly, highly, highly recommend this book. If you want a taste of his writing, this is the blog post from a few years ago that got me so charged up about him.

**Had a truly fantastic meal Tuesday night, in celebration of my mother’s birthday (Happy birthday Mom!). We went to this great Japanese restaurant, with great appetizers, a terrific main course (I had the tilefish with teriyaki sauce and broccoli on the side, de-lish), and Baskin-Robbins birthday cake for dessert (we brought our own, thank you.)
Now, I love food. As much as I love breathing, pretty much. But this was one of those meals where as you’re walking out of the restaurant, you exhale and say to yourself, “Damn, that was a great meal!” You know those kind? I knew you did.

**So I watched a few minutes of the Kennedy Center Honors program on CBS last night. Didn’t get home in time to see the Oprah tribute, but saw the Paul McCartney stuff toward the end. As I watched Gwen Stefani and others “honor” Paul, I wondered how someone like him feels at that moment.
Like, it’s great to be honored and worshipped by millions, but watching people who weren’t even born when you recorded “Let It Be” and “Hey Jude” sing them, while you’re sitting there high atop a luxury suite? Methinks that has to be a little strange. I’m wondering if McCartney and the other brilliant musicians who’ve been honored by the Kennedy Center ever want to just run down there and yell “Hey! Enough! I get that you love me.
Now please, for God’s sakes, we don’t need a reggae version of “Born to Run!” Thank you!”