Sunday, April 12, 2009
Back in 1978, Woody Hayes, Ohio State's legendary football coach, had his career come to a very sad end when he hit a player on the opposing team. Just a few weeks later, Arizona State's football coach, Frank Kush, got fired after it came out that he'd hit one of his own players. While I do not defend their actions (both men quite correctly got sacked) to hear *some* commentators tell it, this was a sure sign that the Apocolypse was upon us.
In the midst of the hulabalo one American football coach decided that he needed to take a nice, restful vacation, and he decided that he wanted to go someplace where nobody knew or cared about American college football, so he got on a flight to London, England. When he got to his hotel, he was positively *aghast* when he saw a huge sign that read "NO FOOTBALL COACHES ALLOWED!
(In the UK, buses are sometimes of refered to as 'coaches', and busloads of English football have a reputation for being quite unruly)
But the irony doesn't stop there. It turns out bit movie parks wasn't Eppolito's only extracurricular activity. A couple of years back, Eppolito and his partner were indicted on charges of carrying kidnappings and contract 'hits' for the New York mob. (I must say, that *really* shocked me- I saw 'Serpico' decades ago; I was well aware that some cops take bribes, but being contract hitmen???) Both men were convicted on multiple counts two years ago and sentenced to life in prison with *no* possibility of parole.
I wonder if they'll get to watch 'Goodfellas' where they're serving time. It certainly makes the mob life look glamorous.
Anybody interested how things turned out for the real life characters in "Goodfellas": Paul Vario (Paul Sorvino's character) died in prison; Jimmy Burke (Robert DeNiro's character) died in prison, and Henry Hill is still alive, 29 years after turning state's evidence - and he's living in Malibu.
Sunday, April 5, 2009
Several years ago, I watched the film "The Battle of Algiers", about the Algerian War of Independence 1954-1962. It depicted the rise of the Algerian National Liberation Front. The first step of any insurrection is to establish your own government infrastructure, and destroy the other guy's infrastructure. In the case of the FLN, this entailed bushwhacking uniformed French police officers in the Casbah. Very soon,things got entirely too dangerous for the police- so the French government sent in the paratroopers- and things got *really* unpleasant in the Casbah.
Down Mexico way, the violence in border cities (especially Ciudad Juarez) has gotten so bad that the local police simply can't deal with it- they are either out-gunned, corrupt, or both. So the Mexican Government has now sent in the Mexican Army. What happens if *they* can't handle the situation- and as long as American demand for illegal drugs stays strong (it will) what happens?
Pat Buchanan recently predicted that in 5 years, we won't have 50,000 troops in Iraq- we'll be MUCH too busy on the Mexican border. I'm afraid he's right.
So I took off my watch and stepped through. BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
So I took off my *shoes* and stepped through BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
So I took off my *belt* and stepped through...
*Finally*, no BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
When I was finished re-dressing myself, I said to the female State Highway Patrolman behind the counter, "I do all that and you're not going to even slip *one* dollar bill into my waistband?" That gal had *no* sense of humor- she didn't even crack a smile.
Check it out.
At noon eastern time March 4, 1933, Franklin Roosevelt took the oath of office to serve as President of the United States. Just five days before, in Berlin, the burning of the German Reichstag gave Adolf Hitler the pretext he wanted to ask for dictatorial powers- and the rest is a very terrible chapter in history. Just after Roosevelt took office, the humorist Will Rodgers commented, "'bout now, if Roosevelt burned down the Capitol building, a lot of people would say, 'well,...he got a fire started, didn't he?'"
Whatever FDR's failings, he looks like an angel compared to some of his contemporaries.
I once spoke to an elderly gentleman who had attended Ohio State before World War II. He informed me that way back then, freshman guys were supposed to were "beanies" and were not supposed to cross the "Main Walk"- the sidewalk that stretches across the Oval from the entrance of the Main Library to the entrance of the campus- unless they wanted to risk getting dunked in Mirror Lake by upperclassmen.
This custom came to an *abrupt* end when World War II veterans started attending college on the GI Bill. Veterans, some of whom were married and in their mid-twenties, just weren't interested in that kind of fun and games.
I once shared that story with an active-duty Marine Sergeant who was going to take some college classes. *Rarely* have I managed to crack someone up that completely.
At this point, the interviewer broke in to inform the audience that during the war there was a German aircraft called the Fokker, that's F-o-k-k-e-r."
A real German Fokker
As a history buff, it boggles my mind to think how much the world changed the space of her lifetime: when she was born, the American flag had only 44 stars, Grover Cleveland was President, Queen Victoria's reign had six years left, Czar Nicholas, Emporer Franz Joseph, and Kaiser Wilhelm was on the thrones of Russia, Austro-Hungary, and Imperial Germany. Albert Einstein hadn't started his clerk job yet (where he came up with his theory of relativity), the Wright brothers were designing bicycles in Dayton, Ohio, and the HMS Dreadnought hadn't even been designed yet. Mao Tse-tung, Emporer Hirohito, and Britain's Queen Mother hadn't yet arrived. (She was there to see them in, and was around to see them out.) Gavrilol Princep was just a few months older than she as. (Jack Dempsey and Babe Ruth were born the next year). The fictional Rose of "Titanic" was the same age as Aunt Hazel- she was 17 when that ship sank.
I've never visited my great-aunt's grave- but I think it would've been great if she'd ordered a headstone that read:
Hazel Blecha November 30, 1894 - October 27, 2006. and underneath: "I *TOLD* you I was sick!"
The USS Detroit.