The David Mackenzie film opens with Chris Pine and Grant Foster showing up too early to rob their first bank in the heart of West Texas. “The only thing you two are guilty of so far is stupidity,” the teller instructs Toby and Tanner Howard, because the tardy bank manager holds the keys.
Friday, September 30, 2016
Thursday, September 29, 2016
At the Harvey School on November 16, the Golf Channel’s Jimmy Roberts sat down before an audience of about 160 to interview Mike Lupica on his life as a Sports Columnist, Novelist and ESPN radio host. The latter obviously raising Lupica’s profile in recent years, the articulation we’ve become accustomed to on the radio isn’t the one he had to go in search of to achieve true success. “The whole trick is finding your voice as a writer,” Lupica told Roberts. But shaking off those shackles, sports writers must always keep their eyes on the ball. “The next moment could change everything,” said the Daily News columnist. That lesson played out for him during the U.S. Hockey team’s magical Olympic run in 1980. Inattentively eyeing Mark Johnson skating toward the Soviet goal in the closing seconds of the first period, Lupica remembered thinking, “Where’s Markie going.” Tying the score, the goal turned the tide and the implications went far beyond the final score. For one, said Lupica, “Mike Eruzione told me that had his game winning goal gone wide, he would have been painting bridges for a living.” A story that practically wrote itself, that wasn’t the case for everyone. “This is the second worst story I’ve ever had to cover,” a Soviet colleague lamented to him. Revealing the reporter’s response to the obvious question of what was the worst, the audience roared. “World War II,” Lupica deadpanned. He also recounted memorable run-ins with pro athletes. “Daryl Strawberry threatened to stuff me in a garbage pail if I ever wrote about his personal life again,” said Lupica. Turning out that it was Dick Young who wrote the column in question, Strawberry embarrassingly changed it up. “Ok, if you ever write about my personal life, I’ll stuff you in a garbage can,” Lupica recalled joyously. On the other hand, Lupica admitted a dust up with tennis Great Chris Evert may have been deserving. Referring to the women’s field one year in the U.S. Open as the “Valley of the Dolls,” Evert couldn’t resist hitting back after a titanic struggle against Martina Navratilova. Singling him out in the press conference afterwards, Lupica couldn’t duck her jab. “Good enough for you Mike,” Lupica conveyed. But that was just a blip in his relationship with Evert. Another tennis legend sufficed as the greatest sportsperson he’s ever known. “It breaks my heart that Arthur Ashe didn’t get to see Barack Obama become president,” said Lupica. He also credits Ashe with providing an insight that gave pause to the audience. “He told me it was harder growing up black in America than it was living with AIDS,” Lupica revealed. Thus the sportswriter didn’t hold back in designating the worst. “Alex Rodriguez,” Lupica stated flatly. “I don’t like to be lied to.” A trait Rodriguez is obviously in no short supply, but Lupica sees the game changing before our eyes – and not just in the shirt sleeves of bulked up sluggers. Citing the lower scores and power numbers, seven games in Kansas City and San Francisco encapsulated the return of traditional baseball. “I loved this world series,” he exhorted. Otherwise, the NFL doesn’t have the same luxury in going throw back. “They sold violence for a long time,” he said. “But every former player lives with the fear that the day may come when all those hits to the head will come back to haunt them.” Nonetheless, delving deep is all in a day’s work for Lupica, which engendered the obvious question from a young fan in the audience. “How do you manage your time,” he asked. “Being busy doing something you love is never hard, and I hope you can find your passion like I found mine,” Lupica concluded.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
On November 29th, the Cortlandt Town Hall held the Westchester County Budget Hearings to a standing room only turnout. The largest contingent came from parents, teachers and children who have been affected by cuts to childcare subsidies over the last several years. With the recent national trend of aligning fiscal considerations to actual arithmetic, I thought I might tie some emotion to the issue to help the County Executive add the numbers.
Working part-time at Mt. Kisco Childcare certainly biases my feelings, but I didn’t need to suffer through differential equations in college to know it cost more to place parents on welfare when they must quit their jobs because childcare is being denied them.
As straightforward as it gets, how else am I to go to make a case – especially when enough of Westchester succumbs to less than logical thinking to justify their math. “The stereotypical view of the person getting subsidies is they are in rehab, getting free housing and collecting food stamps as they sit at home,” said Donna Morrison, Early Childhood Director of the Guidance Center, “but the typical parent on subsidy works full time, often goes to school and just wants a safe place to send their kids.”
Regardless, I don’t really consider the origins of anyone’s payment as I go about my day. Navigating my way around and through the whims of my crafty after schoolers is what occupies my attention.
In fact, I’m going use this platform to state that another result of the austerity is I have not had a raise in two years. As selfish as that sounds, especially in the wake of others far more in need, I must mention I do often question how I could possibly be paid for having so much fun.
I shouldn’t give the County Executive any ideas. Instead, I’ll introduce him to a five year old preschooler named Tyler. That, in part, because teachers have a tendency to gravitate towards kids who they see something of themselves in.
Like me, now and at that age, Tyler has a big bald (or actually crew cut styled) head with ears that affectionately jut out. Bound together by equally good looks, Tyler seems to be as attuned to the connection as me, and he does not contain his optimism when our paths cross between the two programs.
Pushing his hand out and up into a stationary position, he’ll get my attention with a “Hey, Hey…Hey, Hey, Hey.” Following suit, I now do the same when it’s me who trying to get a response.
But my favorite interaction happens at the end of each day. Usually engaged in our gross motor room with my kids in indoor soccer, basketball or make shift hockey, he’s just slipping into that space where kids switch from the teacher’s control to a parent’s. In that void, he takes the opportunity to rush from the classroom and inject himself in my game. “There’s my boy,” I caution the after schoolers to slow down.
Following suit, Tyler now returns a “hey my boy” to me, and again I have to remind myself that I actually get paid to do this.
Better yet, I'd like to invite the County Executive - and those who stand to benefit politically of policy that makes no fiscal sense - to come by. They might be swayed in deference to poor SAT math scores but there’s more to this the infectiousness of Tyler’s game.
For as long as I have noticed Tyler, his ride home has always been his grandfather. I’ve never asked about the specifics of his home life but you can’t help speculate.
Is his grandfather raising him alone? Is there a single mom awaiting Tyler at home? Is Dad in the picture? Are both Mom and Dad absent? And how does grandpa, who clearly isn’t confined to the lighter duties of simply being a grandfather, manage to keep up with such an energetic little guy?
On Thursday, those questions were answered. A young woman named Stephanie Houghtaling stepped to the podium and introduced herself as a single mom from my center. Having never seen her before, I was surprised that I didn’t know every parent at the daycare.
She went on to detail how MKCCC helped her get her son enrolled and navigate all the hoops that go with it. As a result and in accordance with county subsidies, she can continue to work, go to school and build a better life.
Just as importantly, not having to worry whether her child is safe and happy allows her to rise to the everyday challenges we all face. “He even asks why he can’t go to school on Saturdays,” she revealed as proof.
I would later learn from Dawn Meyerski, director of curriculum at the center, that when Tyler joined us, Mom was embroiled in a special education nightmare. “Tyler came to us having a lot to say, but nobody could understand any of it,” said Meyerski.
Having a hard time getting Speech Therapy for him, MKCCC got Tyler the right services and will not likely require any special education upon entering Kindergarten.
I wonder if the County Executive will add those savings to his calculations but somewhere in the course of Mom’s plea and my scribbling, she said, “My Dad comes to pick him up everyday and….”
Taken aback, this was obviously Tyler’s mom, and later introducing myself, I felt proud to be a part of her serenity. Nonetheless, there still may be more uncertainties ahead for her than other parents – or maybe not.
Whatever the case, Tyler is one happy little boy, but through the continued shortsightedness of the County Executive, that could change.
Mr. Astorino, you should be able to figure this out because Tyler isn’t the only one counting on you.
No one was more a hero in World War II than John Wayne. At least that’s what the aliens would think when they viewed the historical footage documented in old Hollywood reels such as the Sands Of Iwo Jima, Flying Tigers and The Longest Day. We know better. But if you’re a child of World War II, who reveled in his onscreen heroics and welled up with pride, maybe there’s still some wiggle room to take solace in. For everyone else, fire away.
John Wayne received a 3-A status for family dependence as a father of four and had just made Stagecoach as an unknown. Beginning a career of collaboration with John Ford, the iconic director had his eye on Wayne since his days as a football player at USC, and the numerous stand in and stuntman roles in scores of previous westerns. http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-stagecoach-1939
The studio adamantly opposed to Wayne, Ford’s casting obviously had prescience. For his part, Wayne wanted to do a few more movies to secure his future place in Hollywood and then signup. So his case for deferment was strictly on a temporary basis.
13 wartime movies later, and the flag of heroism he rose in the said Sands were left a waiting a less safe forward position, and John Ford was never shy to let him know it. He would frequently berate Wayne “to get into it,” and that he was growing rich as other man died. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/john-ford-and-john-wayne-pappy-and-the-duke/594/
The latter apparently providing a powerful disincentive, and a top billing of leading men doing their part, Wayne knew how valuable a commodity he was. So upping to A-movie pay were the spoils he received in their absence.
Wayne or actually Marion Morrison was also concerned that the war would age him out of high playing action roles once the fighting finally ended. Henry Fonda, on the other hand, paused his paychecks and wasn't looking for theater in the global drama that was playing out across the world. “I didn’t want to fight a fake war in a studio,” declared the well-known Hollywood Liberal, and his performance in Mr. Roberts (1955) and Midway (1976) did not suffer the three years served on the destroyer USS Satterlee where he was commissioned as a Lt. Junior Grade in Air Combat Intelligence.
Jimmy Stewart also sucked it up – even if he had to live it up first. Originally denied enlistment for being too light, he fattened up on candy, beer and bananas and was the first Hollywood star to appear in stripes. Soon flying combat missions, he eventually made Colonel and became a Brigadier General after the war in the Reserves. http://www.moviefone.com/2011/04/12/actors-who-served-in-military/
Others serving were Paul Newman, Kirk Douglass and Clarke Gable, but whatever pause the bright lights and big bucks gave, procrastination went full frontal after the Duke starred with Marlene Dietrich in Seven Sinners. Becoming entangled enough to make a complete sham of the original deferment, he boasted she was the best lay I ever had.
But this was not bravado. He fell madly in love and the possibility of losing her while away in service meant the war’s winning would have to be left to others.
In the Duke’s defense, the melodramatics of hooking up with Dietrich wasn’t nearly as fair a fight as WWII or on par with the mundane marital bliss others left behind. ‘When she came into Wayne’s life, she juicily sucked every last drop of resistance, loyalty, morality, and guilt out of him, and gave him a sexual and moral cleansing as if she were draining an infected sore’, according to Marc Eliot, in American Titan: Searching for John WayneThis is all the author needs to know and claims that he begged John Ford to find him a place among the real heroics “are a complete fabrication.” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2819281/John-Wayne-DID-dodge-draft-continue-torrid-affair-sexy-German-actress-Marlene-Dietrich-best-lay-ve-new-book-reveals.html#ixzz3z7nqQGMs
Dan Gagliasso of Breitbart disagrees and cites Ron Davis’ to make a case that John Wayne did at least make an effort to join up.
A May, 1942 letter by Wayne to Ford begins Gagliasso’s argument. “Have you any suggestions on how I should get in? Can you get me assigned to your outfit, and if you could, would you want me? How about the Marines? You have Army and Navy men under you. Have you any Marines or how about a Seabee or what would you suggest or would you? No I’m not drunk. I just hate to ask for favors, but for Christ sake what can you suggest? No kidding, coach who do I see,” said the letter found among the John Ford Papers at Indiana University.
This to Gagliasso doesn’t sound like someone shirking his duty and examines what Ford would have to gain by leaving Wayne out to dry. The Duke’s star climbing, Ford must have seen the chance to ascend with his highly bankable friend and asset. At the same time, the manipulative and sadistic side many attribute to Ford would then have something to hold over Wayne by playing the coward card at will.
Either way, no response to Wayne’s letter has been found, but official documentation of Wayne’s intent was found in 2003. The National Archives contain a letter of application from Wayne to the OSS.
Ford’s grandson provides a secondary source for the documentation. Dan Ford recalled that his grandfather told him that OSS Commander William Donovan approved his application to a forward photography unit. But the deployment never occurred because the paperwork was sent to the home of his estranged wife.
Wayne moving out after he originally filed, she certainly would have had good reason to withhold the letter. If he died in the war, she would be left to provide for their four children.
Even so, a follow up is nowhere to be found, and all the officer slots filled by 1943, joining the ranks alongside GI Joes didn’t quite provide enough impetus. “I felt it would be a waste of time to spend two years picking up cigarette butts. I thought I could do more for the war effort by staying in Hollywood,” Dan Ford recalled another conversation with Wayne. http://www.breitbart.com/big-hollywood/2010/02/28/john-wayne-world-war-ii-and-the-draft/
The movie star definitely had a point in the impact he could have in inspiring both the nation and war bond efforts. Certainly convenient, but enough to allay the personal guilt and put off the hypocrisy he had to feel playing war on the silver screen?
Here’s one possible answer. In 1948, John Wayne became president of The Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals. This Included actors Ward Bond and Adolphe Menjou, MGM’s producer James McGuiness, and director Sam Wood. Their goal was hunting down subversive elements within the American film industry. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/john-ford-and-john-wayne-pappy-and-the-duke/594/
Hating communism, Wayne found a cushy place for his overcompensation to reside. In addition, fervently backing the blacklist by the House Un-American Activities Committee let him join a fight on the front lines where the war was being waged and further satisfy his rationalizations.
In accordance, he starred in “Blood Alley” and “Big Jim McLain,” which was based on the actual case of the Hawaii 7 (suspected communists charged with advocating the overthrow of the American government). http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20070526_memorializing_the_deadly_myth_of_john_wayne
A less sympathetic depiction from the time period is there for us today in Trumbo where Wayne is portrayed as a mindless tool of right-wing columnist Hedda Hopper.
But if you really want to get deep and find some psychological projection, his disdain for Vietnam protestors and draft dodgers sounds like a cry for help. “As far as I’m concerned, it wouldn’t bother me a bit to pull the trigger on one of ‘em,” Wayne once stated.
The Green Berets – let’s not even bother, but his wife Pilar Wayne did offer some empathy. “He became a superpatriot for the rest of his life trying to atone for staying home during WWII.”
Gary Wills is not so sympathetic in his book, John Wayne’s America. “He was, in reality, a draft dodger. America’s archetypal soldier was in fact a chicken hawk. He was a cheerleader and champion of militaristic patriotism and combat he had never experienced. Wayne had “other priorities” during WWII—achieving superstardom (and saving his neck) was more important than defeating fascism. Much like Vice President Dick Cheney, who sought numerous deferments during the Vietnam War, Wayne was the quintessential war wimp, says Wills. http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20070526_memorializing_the_deadly_myth_of_john_wayne
He learned as much on USO tours in Australia and throughout the Pacific where he was greeted by boos from war hardened vets. On other hand, if the discussion is raised on social media, you will definitely find those who take comfort in the symbol he represented as they viewed from the sidelines as children and are offended by your affront.
As Ray Davies of Kinks penned in Celluloid Heroes, “I Wish My Life was a Nonstop Hollywood Movie Show,” we clearly see denial definitely beats the real thing.
Fantasy and nostalgia aside, John Wayne did write a few letters, there’s documentation to prove it and it’s plausible that his wife withheld the paperwork. But would it take a hero to show up at the OSS and get some clarity – maybe not if fear, opportunity and Marlene Dietrich are all pulling in the other direction.