Jeff Pearlman

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Author Archives: Jeff Pearlman

Sweden

Baseball: World Series: New York Yankees Thurman Munson (15) in action vs Los Angeles Dodgers Davey Lopes (15). Game 5. Bronx, NY 10/15/1978 CREDIT: Manny Millan (Photo by Manny Millan /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) (Set Number: X22789 TK5 )

Yesterday, during his inexplicably unnecessary and expensive ego-fest in Florida, Donald Trump alluded to the terrorism that took place in Sweden.

Only, eh, it’s not real.

There was no terrorist attack in Sweden.

There is no terrorist attack in Sweden.

It was a total, complete fabrication. As was the terrorist attack in Bowling Green. As was the record electoral college victory. As was the inauguration turnout.

All fake.

And maybe, just maybe, this wouldn’t be quite so offensive, were Trump not regularly accusing the media of being this collective entity of liars and deceit throwers. It reminds me of a moment in the campaign, when Hillary Clinton accused Trump of bigotry—and he replied, “She’s the bigot!” Even though, of all the bad things one could accuse Clinton of, bigotry didn’t seem to be one of them.

It’s the way this fraud works. He invents, makes up—then accuses others of his crime.

PS: Russia.

Death of The Animal

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In case you missed the news, George “The Animal” Steele died yesterday.

In case you missed the news because you don’t know who George “The Animal” Steele was—he was a wrestler.

But that’s far too simple.

Steele (real name: Jim Myers) was a masterful performer; perhaps the best the ol’ WWF once had. In the ring, he was this grunting, mumbling buffoon. Hairy, scary, a bit deranged. Athletically limited, but a dazzling character. Outside the ring, he worked as a teacher and coach at Madison High School in Madison, Wisconsin. He actually earned a master’s degree from Central Michigan University, and was inducted into the Michigan Coaches Hall of Fame.

Steele was hairy, and bald, and big. Really big. You saw him and shuddered.

He was also gentle, and kind, and warmhearted. You saw him and smiled.

I’ve met a fair number of wrestlers who wrestled, did drugs, ate a lot, chased women—then died. That wasn’t Steele. He played the Swedish wrestler “Tor Johnson” in “Ed Wood.” He was, pre-injury, a lineman at Michigan State. He battled dyslexia and, later, Crohn’s Disease. He was a devout Christian who attended church weekly. He was a father of three. The punk bank Half Japanese wrote a song about him.

He was 79 at his passing.

RIP.

It’s time to stop listening

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It’s time to stop listening to Donald Trump.

This isn’t the same as not paying attention. We need to pay attention to Donald Trump; to watch every move; to keep him in check.

But the words that emerge from his mouth? Useless.

In case you haven’t noticed, Donald Trump does several things quite often:

• A. He lies.

• B. He cites statistics that have been verified by no one.

• C. He uses phrases like “everyone knows” and “those people.”

• D. He thrashes the media, whether the media is 100-percent correct or not

• E. He only surrounds himself with people who kiss his ass.

So, truly, why are we listening? That press conference, for example—told us everything and nothing. Everything, in that his unhinged craziness showed us a president who should not be president. Nothing, in that he lied repeatedly.

Watch him.

Assess him.

Analyze him.

But don’t listen. It’s a waste of time.

Karma at the urinal

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My parents visited from Florida a few days ago. They’re wonderful people. Like, the best.

Mom also happens to be fantastic with a needle and thread, and I’m not. So I asked if she’d mind sewing a button onto my favorite shorts. She agreed. The wife overhead, and was moderately horrified. “You asked your mom to sew your shorts?” she said.

“Um, yes.”

“You should be able to do that for yourself,” she said.

And, indeed, she’s right. But Mom was here and she’s my mother and she’s loving and … did I mention how skillful she is with a needle and thread?

Anyhow, two minutes ago, here at Nature’s Brew cafe, I was taking a piss and the button dislodged from my shorts, bounced off the rim of the urinal and fell in. My No. 1 guiding life principle is to never make another person’s existence more difficult based upon your misdeeds. So, with great hesitation, I wrapped my hand in paper, grabbed the button and threw it out.

Karma.

Dear GOP

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Dear GOP:

It’s me—Jeff Pearlman. Hello.

So I’m not really one of your people, but I’m writing with a favor: Please end this.

By this, I mean the presidency of Donald Trump. Please. Pretty please. Did you watch the press conference earlier today? Seriously, did you experience that diarrhea show of an exercise? Is it still not clear to you the president of the United States — and I’m not being overly dramatic — is b-a-t-s-h-i-t l-o-c-o? Do you really not see this? Smell this? Hear this? Because it’s beyond obvious, and it’s beyond painful.

But this isn’t about pain — it’s about safety. Our safety. The United States is an increasingly vulnerable nation trying to keep its head above water during a tumultuous time in world history. I know you’re aware of this. ISIS looms. Al Qaeda looms. Russia looms (really, it looms). North Korea is launching shit. Israel sees America as its new enabler to do whatever the hell it wants. On and on. And you, Party of Lincoln and Reagan, have brought us this ogre. Again, I know you see what I see. I know it. Trump’s bluster is dangerous, as is his lack of interest in details, in nuance. He brought us Steve Bannon—freak show. He brought us Steven Miller—even bigger freak show. He lies and lies and lies and lies and lies and insults and insults and insults and Tweets and Tweets and Tweets.

And yet … you guys do nothing. You sit there, cowering in the corner, desperate to close your eyes and hope this thing somehow works itself out. He gave you the Supreme Court justice you wanted, as well as the Muslim, eh, seven-nation ban you wanted. So you were placated. But you were placated by the wrong man. This “president” is not a Republican. Really, he’s not even an American, in the “I live and die for this country” sense of the word. No, he’s a greedy, narcissistic, incurious, self-absorbed crazy person; a street-corner huckster who was presented the White House. There is nothing—absolutely nothing—in his history that suggests empathy, understanding, a concern for the working man and woman. His past, truly, is prologue. What he is doing now is what he did to the USFL, to Atlantic City, to Scotland, to Trump University students, to blacks who wanted to live in his Queens apartments. He promises big things, he guarantees big things, he rips those who see through the fake words, he accomplishes his goals—and then everything falls to shit.

Look, I know you don’t want to impeach. But, please, impeach. Mike Pence shares your ideals and your beliefs. He’ll fight to overturn Roe v. Wade, fight to overturn environmental protections. He believes Jesus is king and Planned Parenthood is Satan.

He is not a man I want as president.

But I will take him, with an enormous smile, over the sinister dishrag America finds itself holding.

GOP, stop the madness. Because, if you don’t, you’re going down with the ship.

And it will be ugly.

Jeff

#fakenews

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Over the past year or so, Donald Trump has taken to bashing “fake news.” This is funny for about 150 reasons, beginning with:

A. He spent five years “proving” Barack Obama was a Kenyan-born Muslim.

B. His top adviser is Steve Bannon of Breitbart.

C. He lies more than any human I’ve ever seen.

But, truly, I digress. Thanks to Trump, I’ve reached a new level of political junkie-ness. I’m addicted to the news; to reporting; to research. And, despite Trump’s whines and despite the shrunken budgets and ad revenues of news outlets, some of the work has been beyond stupendous. So here’s my unsolicited ranking of the top places to go to snag your political fix:

• 1. The Washington Post: I paid $99 for a digital subscription, and it’s the gift that’s bought itself. The Post is almost always first with inside detail, with behind-the-scenes nooks. I used to always hit the New York Times without a pause. But the Post is now my lead stop.

• 2. The New York Times: The more Trump mocks it as “failing,” the more attention he brings to its outstanding coverage. In particular, the Times offers two of America’s best political columnists—Charles Blow and Gail Collins.

• 3. Morning Joe: The MSNBC program is just … I mean, it’s the best thing on TV right now. Joe Scarborough is a former Republican congressman who is unwilling to let his former colleagues get away with nonsense. Right or left. The show posts its latest videos on YouTube. I check them out as soon as my kids dash off to school.

• 4. Politico: Was never a reader of the site—now can’t stop. The analysis is on point, the reporting fierce yet reasoned.

• 5. New York Magazine: Nobody weaves together a piece like Frank Rich.

• 6. CNN: I’ve never been a big fan, and they too often lean on easy click nonsense. But Trump’s repeated slamming of the network’s coverage is pure bullshit. He doesn’t like being exposed. And CNN exposes.

• 7. Sean Hannity: My dad, Stan Pearlman, gets a nod here. If you wanna know what it is to be an unabashed, unwavering Trump worshiper, this is your window. A dumb, involved man hosts this train wreck. But it’s worth occasional glimpses.

• 8. The Closer with Keith Olbermann: Keith is an odd bird. Gets somewhere, tears it up, inevitably either quits or is shown the door. But he’s brilliant and almost always sharp. Like Rich, he weaves narratives beautifully. These videos are gems.

• 9. Charles Pierce at Esquire: Maybe the best writer to walk the earth. Trust me.

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Jen Glantz

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A bunch of months ago I served as a groomsman in my sister-in-law’s wedding.

It was good stuff—lovely people, family, excellent food, killer band—and I walked away feeling … well … hmmm. How did I feel? Happy, certainly. Stuffed? Without a doubt. Hung over? A tad. But mainly exhausted. The whole thing was tiring, and that night I collapsed into bed and didn’t wake for another 12 hours.

The point: While weddings are terrific, they can also beat the crap out of a person.

Enter: Jen Glantz.

Today’s 296th Quaz Q&A is the world’s best (and first) professional bridesmaid, which means she specializes in making a woman’s wedding go as smoothly as possible. If you’re thinking, “Um, what the hell qualifies one to become a professional bridesmaid,” the answer is, among other things, compassion, devotion, empathy … and the experience of appearing in a shitload of wedding parties. That’s Jen’s calling card, and along with reading about her adventures in the Quaz, and on her website, you can purchase her debut book, Always a Bridesmaid (For Hire). (PS: Because it’s Valentine’s Day, check out her excellent blogpost on surviving the day).

Today, Jen breaks down wedding highs and lows, the best songs to play at an event and how she’s been able to cope with the breakup of Jordan Sparks and Jason Derulo.

One can follow Jen on Twitter here and Instagram here.

Jen Glantz, I’m proposing … that you’re No. 296.

JEFF PEARLMAN: OK, Jen, I’m gonna start with a question sorta unrelated to anything. I just watched a very touching video of you seeing your book for the first time. You take the viewer through the experience—envelope on your lap, ripping it open, etc. Euphoria, giddiness, etc. But I wonder—and this isn’t a criticism, but a serious question—why would you share such a personal, individual moment? It just seems like nowadays we feel compelled to share everything with everyone—and I’m probably as guilty as the next guy. Why do you think that is? Is it ego? Is it PR? Is it a mental adjustment to social media? Simply a need to connect?

JEN GLANTZ: I’m glad you asked. I have been waiting for the moment when I’d be able to hold a book with my name on it since I was probably 6. I was obsessed with going to the library, reading books, and writing my own mini-stories in the margins. At a very early age, I knew I wanted to be a writer. It was the only thing I got excited about doing. When I was forced to play organized sports, like softball and basketball, the coaches would have to rip a book out of my hand and pep-talk me onto the field or the court. I share a lot on the internet, mostly funny stories and my most embarrassing mistakes, but this was the first time I shared such raw emotions, in a video, for complete strangers to watch. I did it as a way of explaining my story, my struggles, in hopes of inspiring others to never give up, even when it seems easier to just do that.

J.P.: You have a business, Bridesmaid for Hire, that seems really funky, really cool—and a little perplexing. So, as you write, “weddings can be stressful and sometimes it takes an outside perspective to provide decisiveness, problem solving and support in chaotic situations. I’m not here to replace your BFF’s, I’m here to make your wedding adventure stress free.” Jen, isn’t that what the bridesmaids are actually for? Isn’t that what they do?

J.G.: If you’re lucky—yes. But not everyone has friends who they can rely on or even friends who know what to do for you on your wedding day. Relationships are complicated and here you are, about to get married, asking your closest friends to stand by your side, spend a lot of money, and do a lot of tasks they may not have time or energy to do, and expecting it to go flawlessly. That’s mistake number one.

J.P.: Along those lines, can you explain—in as much detail as possible—why so many brides get so nutjob insane when it comes to the wedding? My wife was terrific—chill, calm, relaxed. So when I see women freaking out, yelling, snapping … I’m a bit perplexed. I mean, it’s just an event, no? And, along those lines, do you think people tend to build weddings up too much?

J.G.: Weddings have gotten out of control. A lot of that has to do with people trying to maintain traditions from years ago that have no meaning anymore and are heavy on their wallets. You don’t have to wear a white dress, walk down an aisle, even toss a bouquet. You do that because that’s what everyone else has done before you. I also blame this on social media. We see what everyone in the world is doing for their wedding and we want bigger, better, more like-worthy on Instagram. Because of that, people go bonkers when planning their wedding. They are throwing themselves the most expensive party of their lifetime. That’s a headache Advil can’t cure and your BFF’s don’t want to hear about on repeat.

J.P.: Serious question—do most people want to be in weddings? Because, if I’m being honest, I cringe when asked. It means time, it means money, it means events I don’t really want to attend. I know I sound like the world’s biggest dick … but does that make me unique? 

J.G.: I think they do, the first time. But after the second, third, fifteenth time, I think most people would prefer to be a guest. Being a part of the wedding party is expensive, takes a ton of time, and can be a very stressful process. Being a wedding guest, can still be expensive, but at least nobody will bother you when you spend 95% of the wedding at the open bar.

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J.P.: Gimme the craziest story from your career.

J.G.: Five minutes before the wedding is supposed to begin, the bride pulls me into an empty room, locks the door, and says: I hate the groom. I don’t want to get married. Meanwhile, she had 150 guests sitting in chairs waiting for her to take her first steps down the aisle.

J.P.: In December you wrote a great blog post on wedding toasts—and what to do and not to do. What’s the absolute, 100-percent awful disaster thing one can do while giving a toast? Like, if you were saying to someone, “Here’s exactly what your speech should not do …” what would you include?

J.G.: Use inside jokes. Remember, you are reading the speech in front of a group of people, not just one on one with the bride. If even 1/3 of your speech are memories and laugh out loud moments that will only have you and the bride laughing – you need to reconsider what you’re saying to include the whole audience.

J.P.: How should one handle the overly intrusive parent when it comes to the wedding? You know who I mean—1,000 opinions a second, wants it her way (and she’s paying), etc …

J.G.: You can fight the “It’s my wedding and I’ll do what I want” fight – but then the funds for the wedding should come from your pockets – and your fiance’s too. If you’re letting a parent pay for the wedding, they’ll feel like they can jump on the decision making bandwagon and then the headaches will occur.

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J.P.: Someone hires you. You know—100% know—this person should not be getting married. The guy is an abusive dick. Or she’s clearly immature. Or … whatever. How do you handle it? Would you ever say anything? Have you ever said anything?

J.G.: It’s not my place to question the love between two people – unless i’m asked. In that case, yes I will be honest. I’m no good at keeping my mouth shut.

J.P.: How did this happen for you? What I mean is, what’s your path—birth to now, as far as this career and this movement? Did you have a lightbulb moment?

J.G.: I always wanted to be a writer. I majored in English. Worked for a sorority as a consultant my first year out of college (plot twist #1), then I worked for a magazine as an assistant, followed by a job in PR, and then a job as a tech start-up copywriter. During this time, all of my friends got engaged. Not exaggerating. All of them. I was a bridesmaid more than half a dozen times when one night in particular, two of my “distant” friends asked me to be a bridesmaid. I went home and told my roommate and she said to me, “You’ve become a professional bridesmaid.” That’s when It hit me – maybe I could do this for complete strangers. Maybe I could be a bridesmaid for hire.

J.P.: You specialize in helping people chill. I’m asking this seriously—right now many of us are losing our shit over Donald Trump and all the stuff he’s about to fuck up. How should we chill? Should we?

J.G.: We have to stop taking every single thing so seriously. Really, we’re upping our blood pressure far too much. Don’t believe everything you read. Don’t spend every single second of the day reading your Facebook newsfeed either. Live your life because every second you’re not and you’re losing your cool, you’re wasting your own precious time.

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QUAZ EXPRESS WITH JEN GLANTZ:

Rank in order (favorite to least): potato sack races, Koy Detmer, Miami Dolphin helmets, Sussudio, Old Navy, Queen Elizabeth, Tosca, Tony Parker, South Dakota, Scott Baio, Crested Butte Music Festival: Old Navy, potato sack racesQueen Elizabeth, Miami Dolphin helmets, Crested Butte Music FestivalSussudio, South Dakota, ToscaKoy DetmerScott Baio

• Five all-time favorite wedding songs: Electric SlideShout!New York, New YorkCha Cha Slide (I love songs with pre-determined dances), The Wobble (Doing it as I type this)

• Awkward, but will you marry me?: Role reversal! Will you marry me?

• One question you would ask Will Smith were he here right now?: Do you believe in aliens?

• Tell me about the coolest wedding you’ve ever attended: They had a french fry bar—which may seem underwhelming, but what else would you want to eat at 11:30pm, after a couple of drinks, and too much dancing, than unlimited french fries? I guess pizza would have been a great option, too.

• Celine Dion calls. She wants to cast you in her new made-for-TV film: Celine Dion and the Dragon of Fire. You’ll be paid $5 million to play the dragon, but you have to live in Celine’s guest bedroom, wake every morning at 4 to bake her dog cookies and you have to wear the same T-shirt for the entire six months of shooting, one that reads, WESLEY WALKER IS MY SAVIOR. You in?: I’ve always wanted to play the dragon, so yes, of course I am in!

• Three memories from your first date: 1. We were supposed to meet at the movie theatre to see the movie “50 First Dates”; 2. We both got the location wrong and ended up at different movie theaters; 3. We called the whole date off.

• Describe your emotions when Jordin Sparks broke up with Jason DeruloPhew. 

• Are you comfortable with death as an ending? Why or why not?: We can hardly choose how or when our story ends. We can just write our living hearts out during the beginning and the middle—which is to say live like a freaking superhero and try to have little regrets.

• Five greatest wedding-related movies?: 1. My Best Friend’s Wedding; 2. Bridesmaids; 3. 27 Dresses; 4. Wedding Crashers; 5. The Wedding Singer.

Flat tire machismo

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Earlier today, while driving home from lunch with my kids, I smelled burning rubber. Then I saw little black rubber chunks flying through the air. Then our car, a Toyota Prius, started bouncing up and down.

I pulled to the side, and was hit with the above image.

Shit.

Back when I was growing up on the mean streets of Mahopac, N.Y., my dad never gave me a birds and the bees chat. My dad never taught me to throw a tight spiral. My dad didn’t tutor me in Spanish. What he did show me (among 1,000 other valuable things) was the proper way to change a flat tire, soup to nuts.

Now, I’m sure—at the time—it didn’t seem like such a vital thing to know. Yet in the ensuing 30 or so years, I’ve had to replace a tire, oh, six or seven times. And while it’s useful in the not-needing-to-call-AAA sorta way, what it really does is score a guy major, major man points. For example, years ago I was standing on line in a middle-of-nowhere Georgia gas station when a young woman entered and asked the attendant if he knew were a person could get help with a flat. I said, “You just need it removed and the spare put on?”

“Yes,” she replied.

“I’ll do that for you, no problem.”

I followed her to the vehicle, broke out the jack, replaced the tire—and never, ever, ever, ever, felt cooler.

There were no single hotties this afternoon, but as we reached the side of the road I said to my son and daughter, “Let’s change this thing together, OK?” They were both immediately interested, and I let them loosen the lug nuts, help raise the car, dislodge the wheel and replace it with the spare. It was greasy and dirty work, and Emmett and Casey truly enjoyed it. They also seemed to look upon me with genuine respect, the way I looked at my dad ion similar circumstances  back in the day.

When all was fixed, he returned to the road as if nothing had happened.

I was euphoric.

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Showtime Book
Love Me, Hate Me Barry Bonds Book
Sweetness Walter Peyton Book
The Bad Guys Won Book
The Rocket that Fell to Earth Book
Boys Will Be Boys Book

Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life