Category Archives: Commentary

The Night The Audio System Failed At Yankee Stadium

30  Minutes Of Baseball Bliss As The Audio System At Yankee Stadium Fails – September 14, 2017

9 14 17 Yankee Stadium audio difficulties signThey say if you go to a baseball game there’s always a chance you’ll see something you’ve never seen before.

But it’s not only what I had never seen before, but what I didn’t hear. What happened Thursday, September 14, 2017 during a Yankees – Orioles game was unusual.

For the first time in my life, I attended a major league baseball game and the national anthem was not played before the start of the game. No, it wasn’t the second game of a real doubleheader (remember those?)

Not only was the national anthem not played, no sound was heard in the ballpark except the cheers of the crowd, calls of the vendors and crack of the bat. Continue reading

Gene Michael Architect Of Late 90s Yankees Dynasty Dies at 79

Gene “Stick” Michael Was More Responsible For The Yankee Championship Teams In The Late 90s Than Anyone Else

Gene Michael awaits the throw to second base as Chicago White Sox shortstop Luis Aparicio makes his slide (1970).

Former Yankees shortstop, manager and general manager Gene Michael died today September 7, 2017 at the age of 79 of a heart attack at his home in Oldsmar, FL.

Michael was a slick fielding light hitting shortstop who played on Yankees teams from 1968 – 1974, that were a shadow of the former Yankee teams.  From 1921 -1964 the Yankees had appeared in 29 World Series, winning 20 of them.

If The New York Yankees futility of the late 1960s and early 1970s was epitomized by their second baseman Horace Clarke, then Gene Michael would unfairly be attached to that failure with his double play partner.  Horace Clarke, was a career .256 hitter and average fielder who hit a total of 27 home runs with the Yankees from 1965 – 1974. Because Clarke’s career coincided with that of Michael’s the two were paired together unfairly as the face of Yankee ineptitude.

But there was never any question that Gene Michael was a decent ballplayer and a great competitor.

The “Stick,” as the six foot two skinny shortstop was nicknamed, had baseball smarts and could execute the plays a lot better than an average player. That is what kept Michael on the team. A .229 lifetime average usually won’t ensure your spot on a major league roster unless you can hit thirty or more home runs a year. Yet Michael was valued by teammates and some fans as a hard-nosed, crafty ballplayer.

One thing that Michael did that you rarely see anymore was pull the “hidden ball trick.”Michael said he would only pull it if his pitcher was in trouble.

Michael would have the ball in his glove as the pitcher would be getting ready to pitch and Michael would sneak up on an unsuspecting runner as he began to take a lead off second base and apply the tag. It’s called a bush league play today. Completely unprofessional. I disagree. It showed smarts and initiative to pull it off and I question why it is not tried more often today. I once witnessed Michael do this in person and didn’t realize what had happened.

Michael was smart in other ways. In a May 25, 1973 game against the Texas Rangers Continue reading

Showering In Front of Richard Nixon

Is There A Better Way To Start Your Day Than Standing Naked In Front of Richard Nixon?

You never know what you’ll come across at the Stormville (NY) Airport flea market. Every time I think I’ve seen everything I get a sober reminder that I haven’t.

Who knew that a company actually marketed and sold a Richard Nixon shower head?

Can you think of anything less appealing than getting up every day, stepping into the shower and stand naked in front of a likeness of Richard Nixon as he sprays water on you? Continue reading

It Can’t Happen Here. Can It?

Rainbow’s Apocalyptic Song 36 Years Later –

It’s Easy To Believe That Someone’s Gonna Light The Fuse

Hard rock band Rainbow’s lyrics, usually evoke the mystical or tongue in cheek double entendre imagery.

But one song, Can’t Happen Here from the album 1981 Difficult To Cure still resonates with issues that are as relevant today as the day the song was written in 1981.

With music by guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and lyrics by bass player Roger Glover, Can’t Happen Here asks the ultimate question: Is it possible someone will push the button and bring on Armageddon?

The lyrics:

Can’t Happen Here
(Blackmore, Glover © 1981)

Contaminated fish and micro chips
Huge supertankers on Arabian trips
Oily propaganda from the leaders’ lips
All about the future
There’s people over here people over there
Everybody’s looking for a little more air
Crossing all the borders just to take their share
Heading for the future

And we’re so abused and we’re so confused
It’s easy to believe that someone’s gonna light the fuse

Can’t happen here, can’t happen here, all that you fear they’re telling you, can’t happen here

Supersonic planes for a holiday boom
Rio de Janeiro in an afternoon
There’s people out of work but there’s people on the moon
Looking for the future
Concrete racetracks nationwide
Juggernauts are carving up the countryside
Cars by the million on a one way ride
Using up the future Continue reading

Hiroshima And The New York Times – Let’s Rewrite History Two Subversive Words At A Time

On The 72nd Anniversary Of The Dropping Of The Atomic Bomb On Hiroshima – The New York Times Tries To Innocuously Rewrite History Two Subversive Words At A Time

Maybe you didn’t notice but It seems like every day The New York Times tries to pass off several pieces of propaganda as articles. There’s always something to infuriate any free thinking person.

Enola Gay Crew who dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima Aug 6, 1945

If you read the Saturday, August 5 Op-ed pages of the New York Times you may have seen a contributed piece by Ariel Dorfman, author and emeritus professor of literature at Duke University. The op-ed was entitled The Whispering Leaves of the Hiroshima Ginkgo Trees. The inconsequential article is not what disturbed me. It was one line slipped in to make an almost subliminal  impression upon the reader. Referring to a Mr. Takahashi, a survivor of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Dorfman writes, “By then middle-aged, his body was a testament to that war crime and its aftermath.”

War crime? The dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima was a “war crime”?

In 2005 I attended an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. The exhibit was commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Enola Gay mission in World War II.  There was a video presentation about the Enola Gay’s mission which included interviews with the crew before and after the mission including  pilot Col. Paul Tibbets. To say it was a powerful exhibit would be an understatement.

For those too young to remember or do not know their history, the Enola Gay was a B-29 bomber plane that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945. Three days later another B-29, Bockscar, dropped the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki.

Before deciding to use an atomic bomb the Allies insisted that Japan unconditionally surrender, as their defeat was inevitable. Japan refused.

Over 145,000 people died in the initial blasts. Thousands of Japanese civilians died of the injuries they sustained in the years that followed.

The end result of those bombings? Japan surrendered to the Allies the following week on August 15, 1945 and World War II was over.

There was a comment book at the end of the exhibit where visitors could record their name age, address and comment on what they had seen. Walking over to that book and thumbing through it I read to my surprise quite a few people had written essentially the same thing: the United States was wrong to drop the bombs. Others went so far to say that we never should have used the weapons and fought it out until the Japanese surrendered. The people who wrote these comments were all under the age of 40.

I wrote a short comment. I’ll say it again here for the edification of Mr. Dorfman, the editorial staff of the New York Times and any history revisionists.

Killing civilians in war is a byproduct of the wickedness of war. But it was a good thing the United States used those bombs. We didn’t start this war, but we ended it.

Let me correct Mr. Dorfman (born 1942) and the seriously uninformed, mostly those who were not alive during the conflict, the use of those bombs saved hundreds of thousands of lives and was not a “war crime.”

The Japanese unprovoked, surprise attack on Pearl Harbor was a war crime. The Japanese torturing of POW’s was a war crime. The Bataan Death March was a war crime. The Japanese sinking of hospital ships was a war crime. The conscription and rape of over 200,000 civilian women for Japanese army brothels was a war crime. Continue reading

Old New York In Photos #78 – Fifth Avenue & 42nd Street 1903

Fifth Avenue & 42nd Street c. 1903 – Crowded Street On A Cold Sunny Day

This bustling scene was captured by a Detroit Publishing Company photographer around 1903. The view is from the southeast corner of 42nd Street looking north up Fifth Avenue.

It is obviously a cold and sunny day with most people wearing warm coats. Enlarging our photograph the first thing you may notice is that everyone is uniformly dressed. All the women have the same dress length, just past the ankle. Every man wears a suit or overcoat.  Take a look around. There is not a single person hatless.

Let’s zoom in on some of the details.

On the northeast corner of 42nd Street an elderly man stops to take a look at the work going on inside an open manhole.

As usual, at all very busy intersections, a policeman is on duty to help direct the flow of traffic both vehicular and pedestrian.

This gentleman on the left with the gold watch fob and chain looks to be a prosperous fellow, possibly on his way back to his office after lunch.

Of course other people look spiffy without being wealthy. This sharp looking mustachioed hansom cab driver holding a whip is dressed immaculately. Continue reading

Ten Original Handwritten Lyrics To Some Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’s Greatest Songs

Genius At Work – Handwritten Lyrics From Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Paul Simon, Rush, The Beatles and Others

Bob Dylan’s handwritten lyrics to Mr. Tambourine Man

Maybe you’ve wondered; how did some of the greatest songs in the history of rock ‘n’ roll get written? When a creative artist puts pen to paper in a moment of inspiration, what does it look like?

If you are Paul McCartney or Keith Richards, sometimes melodies and words come in a dream.

McCartney’s melody for “Yesterday” was penned right after he dreamed about it. The original words he thought of were very different from the final version. Instead of,

“Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they’re here to stay. Oh, I believe in yesterday.”

the words McCartney originally thought of were,

“Scrambled eggs. Oh, my baby, how I love your legs. Not as much as I love scrambled eggs. Oh, we should eat some scrambled eggs.”

MCartney obviously worked on those lyrics for what has become one of the all-time great Beatles songs, with John Lennon apocraphally changing the title to “Yesterday.” Unfortunately there is no trace of McCartney’s original handwritten lyrics for Yesterday.

Keith Richards said he recorded Satisfaction, the breakout song for The Rolling Stones while dreaming as well. Instead of a pen, Richards had a tape recorder by his bed in a hotel while on tour in 1965. In the morning he checked his portable recorder and was surprised it was at the end of the tape. He rewound it to the beginning and discovered he had laid down the main riff and chorus and the words “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.” He had no memory of actually recording the song, but surmises he woke up while dreaming it and proceeded to record what he had dreamed and went back to sleep! Richards presented the song to the band, and singer Mick Jagger later helped with the lyrics.

Outside of dreams, words come to musicians in a variety of ways. We will not look at the story behind the songs, but the actual drafts of the lyrics to those songs.

Searching the internet for the early drafts of songs with corrections yielded few results. But this assemblage is still interesting to look at.

Jim Morrison singer and poet of The Doors wrote the haunting Riders on the Storm, and it was placed as the last song on the final album Morrison performed on, L.A. Woman. It was also the last song to be recorded for that album.

Interestingly guitarist Robbie Krieger’s name is crossed out. Well, we know Morrison didn’t write the entire melody, but Krieger quite possibly contributed some of the words. It is the only song on the album where all four band members receive writing credit.

Next, Paul Simon of Simon and Garfunkel with The Boxer from the 1970 album Bridge Over Troubled Water. Here you can see Simon’s thought process at work with most of the words never making it into the final version.

Continue reading

Immigration Enforcement In 1921 & Immigration Battles Today

Immigrants Inspected – Keeping America “Safe” 1921

Immigrants Examined By New York City Health Officials For Typhus Symptoms

To ward off a possible spread of the dread typhus in New York, Dr. Royal S. Copeland, Health Commissioner, has assigned a squad of inspectors to examine all immigrants released from Ellis Island on their arrival in New York City. The immigrants must pass two inspections before being permitted to land. The Federal health authorities examine them at Ellis Isalnd and Dr. Copeland’s squad assisted by New York police round them up at the Battery and take them to a nearby ferry house where another examination is made. Several carriers of the typhus lice  according to reports have been discovered by the Copeland squad after the Ellis Island officials had permitted them to pass through.

The photo shows Dr. Copeland’s squad examining newly landed immigrants. photo: International News 2-14-21

Today there is much more than typhus to worry about when deciding who shall be admitted to the United States. “Extreme vetting” to thwart terrorists is one of the big debates. And of course there is that contentious issue of the estimated 11 million people that are in the United States illegally.

In all the arguments that have been brought up about amnesty for illegals, I have not seen anyone saying they are against legal immigrants and immigration. Continue reading

New York Yankees Old Timer’s Day Has Become Mediocre Ex-Yankee Day

Why The New York Yankees Old Timer’s Day Has Become A Joke

1955 Old Timer’s Day (l-r) Frank Home Run Baker, Ray Schalk, Dazzy Vance, Ted Lyons, Gabby Hartnett and Joe DiMaggio (photo: Acme)

Sunday June 25, 2017 the New York Yankees will hold their 71st Old TImer’s Day.

There was a time when baseball’s immortals and Gods showed up at Old Timer’s Day games. Take a look at this video below and you can understand my disappointment at what passes today for Yankees Old Timer’s Day. If  you have any sense of the history of baseball, this assemblage of players at Yankee Stadium taped on the field by Greg Peterson in 1982 will blow you away.

Maybe the disappointment stems from the fact that with a few exceptions there are almost no former Yankee players of the Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Lefty Gomez, Waite Hoyt; Allie Reynolds; Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra caliber still living. The pomp and ceremony of recent Yankees Old Timer’s Day is now somewhat revolting to watch.

Old-Timers Day started with a gathering unlike any other. In 1939 former Yankee teammates of Lou Gehrig gathered to honor him after he had stopped playing due to contracting the illness, (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) that would eventually take his life and now bears his name. It was at this occasion that Gehrig made his “luckiest man on the face of the earth,” speech.

Starting in the 1940s, Yankees Old Timer’s Day became an annual event where former baseball stars from other teams squared off against former Yankee greats. The players who graced the field at Yankee Stadium to play in a spirited and fun exhibition game were among the best to ever play the game. Over the years other teams held their own Old Timer’s Day. Now the Yankees are the only team in baseball that still holds an Old Timer’s Day .

At previous Old Timer’s Day fans would see opponents such as; Ty Cobb; Lefty Grove; Dizzy Dean; Al Kaline; Stan Musial; Ted Williams; Warren Spahn; Hank Greenberg; Bob Feller; Bill Terry; Pee Wee Reese; Duke Snider; Willie Mays and dozens of other “real” stars.

A collection of Hall Of Fame participants at the 1968 Old Timer’s Day at Yankee Stadium (l-r) Red Ruffing; Bill Terry; Luke Appling; Bill Dickey; Joe Medwick; Frankie Frisch; Pie Traynor; Joe DiMaggio; Bob Feller and Lefty Grove.

As the Hall-of Famer’s and greats started passing away the names showing up at Old Timer’s Day gradually became less glamorous, until they started delving into quasi-stars and then marginal players.

I am not certain when exactly it ended, but the Yankees stopped inviting players from other teams to participate in Old Timer’s Day.

Over the last 15 years, you may have noticed Old Timer’s Day has become a Yankee love-fest of a few former stars such as Paul O’Neil, Roy White, Willie Randolph, Joe Pepitone and a lot of what can best be described as one season wonders or ordinary ex-Yankee players.

There are still some great former Yankee players who show up to participate in the festivities most notably Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson, Ron Guidry, Goose Gossage and this year a rare visit by Sparky Lyle.

Many of players the Yankees invite to Old Timer’s Day are nondescript. Yankee management must feel that today’s fans prefer seeing some of these “greats” that have participated in Old Timer’s Day over the last few years:

Brian Boehringer; Scott Bradley; Homer Bush; Bubba Crosby; Chad Curtis; Brian Dorsett;  Dave Eiland; John Flaherty; Bobby Meacham; Jerry Narron; Matt Nokes; Dan Pasqua; Gil Patterson; Andy Phillips; Aaron Small; Tanyon Sturtze; Marcus Thames and others of that ilk. Continue reading

Why You Should NEVER Switch To Spectrum (Formerly Time Warner Cable)

In New York City, If You Thought Cable TV, Internet & Phone Services Were Bad, Just Wait Until You Deal With Spectrum

       

Let’s start out by saying all internet / cable TV / satellite providers are not known for their great customer service. They usually are very good at eliciting complaints.

I’ve previously been a customer of Cablevision, Verizon Fios and Time Warner Cable. No one but stockholders can possibly like these companies.

But Time Warner cable had actually improved their overall service in the last few years and their prices became somewhat reasonable thanks to the good old American free market system known as competition.

Then Charter Communications acquired Time Warner and in 2016 created a merged monster called Spectrum. This new company would be more aptly named after James Bond’s arch enemy Spectre. Continue reading