Sports & Entertainment

Sports & Entertainment

NFL: Caveat venditor

In general, the media spends too much time talking about Rush Limbaugh, but the idea that Limbaugh might buy the St. Louis Rams of the NFL is too tempting to resist commenting on, but only because it combines a couple of my favorite topics: sports, economics and politics.
The essential question is whether Limbaugh’s propensity for racially and politically insensitive remarks make him unfit to be an owner of an NFL team. On one hand, you can argue that the St. Louis Rams are private property and society should not start conditioning ownership of private property on a person’s legal speech habits. Conversely, you can argue that there is a different standard between a person’s opinions expressed as a political talk radio host and the political opinions expressed as an owner of an NFL franchise. An NFL franchise might not be deserving of public money (though many do), but they often capture a community’s trust, dedication and identity. Granted, it’s not as large a standard as there is between what a talk radio host can say on air and what is permissible for an appellate justice to express in public.


Let Limbaugh buy the Rams

It’s a busy news cycle. There’s big news on healthcare, big news on Afghanistan, big news on the economy.

But let’s be honest. You walk into any restaurant or bar today and that’s not what they’re talking about. No, in the real world people are talking about the biggest issue of them all: Rush Limbaugh’s trying to buy the St. Louis Rams.


David Letterman’s ‘inner slut’

"And through all of the heartache, and the attention, and the embarrassment, I still feel like I did the right thing, and now also — because what can it hurt? — once again I'd like to apologize to the former governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin. I'm terribly, terribly sorry. So there we go," he added to cheers from the crowd.
— on CNN’s Political Ticker

But there is something missing in the center when the late-night comic, in apologizing again about the insult he hurled at Sarah Plain, uses these two phrases in the same sentence: "I still feel like I did the right thing" and "once again I’d like to apologize to the former governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin.”

Because if he still feels he did the right thing, there is no need to apologize and apologizing would be wrong. Sarah Palin wouldn’t.


'Mad Men' and the Second Age of Jimmy Carter

The definitive detail might be the scene in "Charade" where Audrey Hepburn snaps the filter off her cigarette in disgust. Only the weak or inauthentic smoked filters. That day has made a comeback with “Mad Men.” Everyone smokes, but real men smoke Luckys. Some have reported that it is the best TV show ever, at a time when TV writing — "The Sopranos," "House," "Lost" — transcends movies in skill and imagination.

I made the point in the first essay I had published, an op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer back in 1977, when the anti-smoking crusade had taken on all of the umbrage of a Gandhi hunger strike, that smoking was bad for you but quitting was worse, as it formed self-righteousness and pretension and the sense that you were doing something when you weren’t doing anything. That may be why there is such freshness to a story about the hardworking and hard-playing in the days when drinking started at 4 in the afternoon. Earlier for top executives. Soon after it passed they — Jimmy Carter — would tax the lunchtime martinis.


The Windy City

To honor the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s discovery of America, Chicago held the Columbian Exposition, better known at the World’s Fair of 1893. It was a blockbuster event, planned by the noted architects Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted. Historians widely credit the Columbian Exposition as the first symbol of American exceptionalism, a sign that America was soon to become the dominant force in the world.

Since that time, Chicago has seen its fair share of ups and downs. It is still a remarkable city, filled with great people, wonderful architecture, a beautiful lakefront, great restaurants and great opera, a thriving blues scene and rich cultural tradition that rivals any city in the world.


Patriotism dead among GOP

“USA! USA! USA!” With my family, I remember proudly cheering our American athletes at the Los Angeles Olympics.

It felt great to be an American. And it’s too bad patriotism is dead today — at least among some Republicans.

Let’s get this straight. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael “Foot-in-Mouth” Steele thinks it’s wrong of President Barack Obama to go to Copenhagen, Denmark, to try to win the 2016 Summer Games for the United States? As White House press secretary Robert Gibbs snapped, “Who’s he rooting for?” Would Steele really prefer that the Games go to Tokyo? Rio? Madrid?


Serena Williams, Jack Kramer and me

A couple of weeks ago was the week of outrageous outbursts, from an unknown South Carolina congressman’s rude interruption of the president’s speech to Congress on healthcare to tennis star Serena Williams’ crude meltdown at the U.S. Open. It also is the week when tennis star Jack Kramer died at 88. There is a connection between these seemingly disparate tennis events, and it makes an interesting story.


Woodstock and the Other Mother: A Brief History of the New Age

When the wave of Woodstock nostalgia awakens this week with the 40th anniversary of that spontaneous celebration of peace, love and dope that so deeply marked a generation and impressed the media so thoroughly that we still listen to these people, youth will want to know: Is that Granny and Grandfather dancing naked in the mud? Is that Great Auntie Eleanor firing up a jumbo? To find the answers to these questions, youth might ask: Is Great Auntie a lawyer or a journalist? Then probably yes, because virtually everyone who was at Woodstock then is either a lawyer or a journalist today.

There are several unmarked or unnoticed elements of the storied Woodstock festival. First, the music sucked. Most of the performers — Country Joe, Sha-Na-Na, Quill, Mountain — were never heard from again. But Janis was there, and so was her elegant shadow, Grace Slick with the Jefferson Airplane. Nothing free and awakening like that which they had at Haight-Ashbury in California just a year or so before, but well enough for a bunch of fledgling lawyers on acid. Woodstock would be Haight-Ashbury for lawyers.

Tom Watson

When I was growing up, Tom Watson was one of my heroes. I loved his compact swing, his calm demeanor, his regally American bearing, and his intense competitiveness. I also liked the fact that he couldn’t putt, because I can’t putt either.

To that point, I once saw the famous broadcaster Jim McKay at a Baltimore Orioles game in the early ’90s a couple weeks before the British Open and I asked him who he thought would win the tournament. He said Norman. I said, “What about my hero, Tom Watson?” He shook his head and said simply, “He can’t putt anymore.”

To the Moon and Back

By returning and rest we shall be saved ...
— The Book of Common Prayer

One giant step to the moon 40 years ago today changed things. Possibly it changed everything for all the future and for everyone. Shortly thereafter, in 1977, film critic Stanley Kauffman went to the movies and saw a film that he called an epiphany, “an event in the history of faith.” It was Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” This movie could not have been appreciated before July 20, 1969, when we landed on the moon, for prior to that we were afraid of the moon. We were afraid of space.