Jeff Pearlman

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I told you he was a fraud

You didn’t listen. You voted for him. You believed him.

You idiot.

Mexico isn’t paying for the wall. He doesn’t care for LGBT rights. He hasn’t stopped Tweeting. He won’t release his tax returns. He didn’t come up with a better plan than Obamacare. His Boys Scout speech was an embarrassment. He’s pistol whipping his attorney general. Loyalty means nothing to him.

You fell for it.

Sucker.

We all start somewhere. I started here.

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So it’s 1:22 in the morning, and I have a Bleacher Report story due in a couple of hours.

I’m tired and ornery and angry. I’ve been in a bad mood all day, slaving over this piece; trying to fit in quotes, adjust words, come up with meaning. It’s been more miserable than usual—and I’m now two decades into some ferocious deadline misery.

A few moments ago, in delay tactic No. 321 (this blog post is No. 323—trailing the two pieces of toast I just ate), I pulled the 1989 Wampum, Mahopac High School’s yearbook, from the shelf. It’s actually the year my brother David graduated, but he left the book at home long ago, and I took it.

I digress.

I began skimming through pages when I came to the above image. It’s the staff of the 1988-89 Chieftain, Mahopac High’s newspaper. I’m the guy with the Jewfro and striped shirt standing in the right corner, wedged between Ari Pollack and Christin Conaway. At the time I wasn’t an editor or anything; just a scrub wanna-be penning shorts on the cross country and golf teams.

But I knew—like, knew knew knew—I aspired to write.

What, exactly, did that mean? Young, virginal, never-kissed-a-girl  Jeff Pearlman surely had no concept. But a few years earlier I’d guaranteed my mother I would one day work for Sports Illustrated, and I surely saw Chieftain as the first step on that path.

Now, nearly 30 years later, how do I feel?

I still loathe deadlines.

But I’m blessed to have them.

MMA and veins

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I’ve spent the past two days in two coffee shops trying to wrap up a story that’s driving me to drink.

Two moments in time:

Yesterday …

I’m walking through a parking lot from my car to the cafe. A car pulls up. Big guy driving. Lots of tattoos. His window is rolled down and he says, “Hey, you ever hear of MMA?”

“Yes,” I reply.

“Cool,” he says. “So I’m fighting in two weeks at the convention center, and I’m trying to get some attention for the fight.” He reaches toward his seat, grabs a CD or DVD with his image on the cover and hands it to me.

“You want me to have one?” I ask.

“It’s a big fight,” he says.

“You on Twitter?” I ask.

“Nah, man,” he says. “So I’m selling these to raise money for …”

“I’m sorry,” I say. “I can’t give you money.”

I’m about to tell him I’ll Tweet out the fight info, but instead he whispers a “Fuck you” and drives off.

Today …

I’m at Panera. There’s a young woman at the register. She takes me order. Greek salad, no chicken. Her left elbow is wrapped in beige gauze. “Give blood today?” I ask.

“No,” she says.

Silence.

“It’s something else,” she says. Then, “But don’t worry. I’m not shooting heroin.”

“I really wasn’t thinking that,” I reply. Truly, I wasn’t.

She then tells me she recently got a tattoo—”A really cute one,” she insist. But it was done over a vein, and now the vein is infected, and the pain is excruciating, and she can barely move her arm.

“Wow,” I say. “Do you regret it?”

“No,” she replies. “Not really.”

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Laura Okmin

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Working as a woman in sports media is a bear, and while you no longer hear the athlete-exposing-himself-as-a-female-reporter-approaches-in-the-clubhouse stories of yesteryear, the Internet is overflowing with WHO’S THE HOTTEST CHICK IN JOURNALISM? lists and YouTube videos comparing everything from breast size to legs to lips to …

You get the idea.

To be honest, that’s one of the reasons I’ve used this space to try and support a good number of women colleagues, and it’s also why I have so much respect for today’s 319th Quaz Q&A.

Yes, Fox Sports’ Laura Okmin is one of the best (and most experienced) football sideline reporters in the business, and her two decades in sports media feature everything from Olympic Games and Super Bowls to NBA Playoffs and Atlanta Braves coverage. But what I dig most is that Okmin gives back to the industry. She is the founder and CEO of GALvanize, a business dedicated to teaching and training women who aspire to careers in media working before and behind the camera.

Today, Laura explains what it is to be a woman in sports journalism; why her mother’s cancer inspired a book; why she’d take Dolphins-Bills Week 7 over a Super Bowl; why she prefers Danny Manning to Jeff Daniels.

One can follow Laura on Twitter here, and visit the GALvanize website here.

Laura Okmin, you are the 319th Quaz …

JEFF PEARLMAN: Laura, so I just watched the HBO Real Sports segment on women in sports media, and I was mesmerized, saddened, embarrassed for the profession. And one thing that struck me was the reporter explaining how most of the women contacted for the piece refused to talk. Why do you think that is? And why did you?

LAURA OKMIN: I actually agonized over doing it for about a month. My fear—and so many other women’s—is you can either look like your ripping your boss … or other women.  I know, for me, when I’m doing interviews about this topic, there are two dialogues going on—the one you’re having out loud and the one you’re having in your head. Should I say this? Will I offend anyone? Piss off my boss? To be honest, I still haven’t watched the piece because I’m sure I’ll wince at an answer I gave, or I’ll hate how something was edited. It’s such a sensitive topic, and, as a reporter I know there’s a risk at how the piece is edited. It’s scary to go on the record with something so personal and important to you and know it’ll be cut down for time or context. I struggled with that. But at the end, it was really simple: I have a company that teaches young women how to find their voice. How can I teach them if I don’t use mine? I thought it was hypocritical if I didn’t talk.

J.P.: I’m gonna throw a blunt one at you: I was absolutely horrified when Pam Oliver was replaced by Erin Andrews. Horrified. And at the time I thought Andrews should have turned down the job in the name of decency, in the name of professionalism, in the name of taking a stand against the blatant age discrimination faced by women in sports media. Was I right or wrong?

L.O.: Sigh. I guess I’d say both. You were dead on with your reaction. I was horrified too—but Erin was also put in a horrible situation. It’s not about the women … it’s about the position they’re put in. It plays into every horrible stereotype and in cases, it creates one. Suddenly these two women are pitted against each other and that is so harmful to them and to all women. I’ve been in Pam’s shoes and it’s hard. It’s hard because you feel embarrassed, hurt and angry and I had to really challenge myself not to make it about “her versus me.” It’s not fair to compare me to a woman 15 years younger than me and it’s also not fair for her to be compared to someone who has two decades of experience on her. It’s unfair to both women. You find the value in both women. There’s room for both … and so much value in both.

J.P.: In 2003 you released a book, “Mommy Has Cancer,” in honor of your mom. I know no more than that—what inspired you to write the book? What can you tell me of your mom and her battle with the disease?

L.O.: You made my day with this question.

My mom passed away when I was in my early 20s—she was just 50—and her life and death have shaped everything about my life. During the year she was sick, I didn’t know anyone who had lost a parent and I didn’t want to talk about it with anyone because I knew how hard it was for people to listen. It made them have to think about the day they would inevitably be in my shoes. So I didn’t share what I was going through. I tried to find books to help but every book was about grieving a loss and I wanted to read about grieving while someone was still alive. There was nothing.

So I used to sit in the hospital chair next to my mom’s bed and think about how, if it’s this hard for someone at 23, what must it be like for a young child. I made a vow that eventually, when my heart would begin to heal, I would write that book. I wanted them to have something I didn’t. A voice that had been there. It took me about seven years to be able to open that wound and put pen to paper but I’m so proud of that book. I recently had a call with a sports information director at a university-about something sports related—and he ended the call by telling me his wife passed away years ago and he would read that book to his young daughter and how much she needed it. I can’t even find the words to say how much that meant to me.

J.P.: So I know you attended Kansas, know you worked for CNN, for TNT, spent time in Chicago, Montgomery, Chattanooga. But, soup to nuts, how did this happen for you? When did you know you wanted to do this? When did you realize you could succeed at it?

L.O.: I always knew I wanted to be a journalist—writing has always been my foundation and my passion. I didn’t know what that looked like until college when I fell in love with broadcasting. That was it for me. I knew I wanted to tell stories and there are no better stories to tell than sports.

I didn’t have a Plan B—even as I was consistently and continuously told how hard it would be for a woman.  And it was (and still can be), but nobody said how amazingly rewarding it would be. You know that, Jeff. I still consider it such a privilege to be trusted to tell someone’s story. It’s an enormous weight to have that power … for someone to trust you with the most personal and valuable thing they have—their story. I think that responsibility I felt, and the preparation and time I put into each story along with the gratitude you get, well, it made me feel like I was doing it right and hopefully differently.

It’s funny, because I’m asked often about aging these days and I’ll tell you that when I turned 40 … that’s when I realized I’m good at this. I stopped hearing everybody else’s voices in my head and started listening to my own and finally, it was a confident, supportive voice. And that took a while. I think 40 was when I finally allowed myself to say, “Hey, you’re good at what you do.”

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With Tony Romo

J.P.: The Real Sports segment showed you working with young women who aspire to be sports reporters. And one thing I found obvious—though it went unstated—was they were all extremely pretty. And I wonder, have unattractive women given up on doing televised sports? Do you get women who are short and overweight and maybe have a protruding cheek mole or a bad hairline? And do they have a shot in the current climate?

L.O.: I hear you, but you know what’s funny … most of those young women don’t even know they are attractive. We spend more time on confidence than anything—the on camera part is such a small part of GALvanize. You’ll be told for the rest of your career that you don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re not that hot, you’re not that good—so they have to have their voice louder than everyone else’s and  more positive than anyone else’s. I can tell you most of their voices aren’t there yet. Their voices are saying, “You’re not as pretty as her, as talented, as good” … and that’s what we work on. Empowering themselves—and each other. Because women supporting women in this business is magic.

But what bothers me more when I see certain bootcamps (not all) is a lack of diversity. We need storytellers in this industry, and they need to have backgrounds and stories as diverse as the people we cover. I want to see more women in this business—and a much more diverse group of women.

Laura (front right) alongside Tad Dickman of the Jaguars during a session with 23 Jacksonville rookies and 29 GALvanize enlistees

Laura (front right) alongside Tad Dickman of the Jaguars during a session with 23 Jags rooks & 29 GALvanize enlistees

J.P.: You’ve worked more than 10 Super Bowls. I HATE covering big events. Hate, hate, hate. The crowd, the competition, the excessive hype. Give me Brewers-Reds on a Thursday in June any time. But what about you? And how does working a Super Bowl differ from, say, Jets-Colts Week 9?

L.O.: We are kindred spirits, my friend. When you’re young, the big events are the highlights (as they should be—you work hard to be there), but the older I get, the thing I most appreciate about a Super Bowl is catching up with old friends and peers you only see once a year. I’m all about building relationships, so I’ll take a great Week 9 conversation over fighting a crowd of people any day. I really do love a regular-season matchup as much as I love covering the post season. I’m still so in awe and in love with what I do. Cheesy, sure—but true.

J.P.: So last year I was at the gym watching Fox News on an exercise machine, and I just got really pissed. It was five people on a couch—Geraldo, and four women with preposterously short skirts. So I fired off a Tweet: “Serious question: do women on Fox News get extra money for dressing as hookers? Just embarrassing.” Well, I got slaughtered. And rightly so. And I felt awful, because I was actually trying to stand up for women in media, and it came off very wrong. Then, a few months later, one of the women filed a sexual harassment suit against the network and said she was forced to dress that way. And I guess, in a long and winding way, my question is—What are we men supposed to do to stand up for women in media? What should we be doing?

L.O.: I remember seeing that Tweet—and the ensuing firestorm. I really did understand what you were saying, but I also know your voice because I’ve always read your work. Men and women … women and men … Mars … Venus … it’s always layered, right?

Speaking for this woman, not all women, we want to be respected, period. I had a great male mentor once who told me he didn’t compare me to other women broadcasters—he compared me to other broadcasters. I’m not good for a woman … I’m good. And that was a huge thing for a young woman to hear. We want to be respected for being great writers, storytellers, producers, journalists, and we want to be criticized the same way.

I had a player tell me when there’s a scrum of reporters he looks to a woman first to start the questions but if she asks a bad one he’s done with her. I asked if he’s the same with men and he said, “No, I just think that he asked a stupid question.” I tell that to my women all the time—men ask stupid questions, but we’re stupid. We need to work twice as hard and leave little room for error. Challenge expected—and accepted.

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J.P.: Greatest moment of your career? Lowest? 

L.O.: Starting a production company, securing money from a corporate sponsor, creating producing, booking and hosting a TV show for two seasons. I had to learn how to negotiate commercial spots, airtime, budgets, navigate lawyers and a partnership while hiring a team. I didn’t know I had it in me—showed me how smart I was and completely shifted the way I looked at business and myself.

Lowest Moment: My best friend for more than 20 years was Stuart Scott. He passed away on January 4, 2015 in the very early hours of the morning. I got the call that he passed and then had to work a playoff game a few hours later. The only reason I worked was because the thought of getting on a plane and traveling across country by myself sounded even worse.

I spent the pre-game crying with Chuck Pagano, a cancer survivor, as well as players and peers who knew and loved him. I don’t remember anything about the game except for the moment of silence they held before kickoff. That moment was worth being there. Stuart would’ve been so touched by that. And he would’ve told me to get my ass to the game—because man, did he love football.

J.P.: We’re the same age, and I’m starting to struggle with this getting old thing. I mean, it doesn’t seem that long ago that we were on the rise, up and comers, etc—and now, it just seems like an ugly downhill fall is awaiting. How are you dealing with aging in media? Aging in life?

L.O.: Jeff, I finally embraced it. All of it. I thought having a company where I’m surrounded by young women would’ve made me feel so bad about myself, but it’s done the opposite. I love my girls but I wouldn’t do that age again for anything. I’ve never felt more confident, smarter, sexier or wiser. I don’t care what anyone else sees. I care how I feel. Don’t get me wrong, it took work to get to this place … but I can tell you my second act is so much better than my first. So my advice is to embrace it, my friend. It’s so much better that way.

J.P.: This is probably sort of trivial in comparison to other issues, but you were working as the sideline reporter of a Vikings-Bears game when Charles Tillman pulled you out of the way of an oncoming tractor-thingie. That small gesture seemed to mean something to you. Why? And what do you recall of it?

L.O.: Small things are big things. Peanut and I talk about that moment every single time we see each other. It’s our connector.

It was pouring rain, I had a hood over my head that created blind spots on both sides and I had ear pieces in both ears with the game turned way up so I could hear the game over the rain. I was following Peanut, who was injured, and while they were moving him behind the bench I was following him and couldn’t see anything but him. When you’re working sidelines, you can be viewed as such a nuisance (saying it in a nice way) because you’re eavesdropping and staring at guys at their toughest moments.

So when Peanut jumped up and grabbed me out of harm’s way, it was really appreciated. I’m sure some guys would’ve just been focused on their injury and the game, but it was so indicative of who Peanut is to be concerned with somebody else’s welfare. We had no idea it was caught on camera—and I hated that it was—but I also love that it shows who he is.

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QUAZ EXPRESS WITH LAURA OKMIN:

• Rank in order (favorite to least): Jay Cutler, Vanilla Almond Special K, hot chocolate, Jeff Daniels, Danny Manning, Doug DeCinces, Wake Forest, Hershey Kisses, Morganna the Kissing Bandit, Air Supply, piano recitals: Danny Manning (Duh. Rock Chalk), Vanilla Almond Special K, Jeff Daniels, Morganna the Kissing Bandit (love her quote: “I’m not a sex symbol. I’m a comedienne. I make folks smile. I make them laugh—and that makes my day. What are we here for, if not that?”), hot chocolate, Wake Forest, Air Supply, piano recitals, Jay Cutler, Doug DiCinces (more about the insider trading-not baseball!)

• Five all-time greatest football players you’ve ever covered: This is tough so I narrowed it down to who they are versus what they did—and how covering them meant something to me. Yes, my Chicago roots will be coming out: 1. Walter Payton—As a Chicago girl, this was a thrill every time I interviewed him); 2. My analyst for a show I hosted was the late Doug Buffone. One of the kindest people I’ve ever worked with and, again, a Chicago girl, so working alongside an old Chicago great was a pinch-me experience; 3. Peyton Manning—I learned so much about being a pro watching him. Not just on the field, but at practice, production meetings, interviews, his professionalism after losses. I always appreciated what a pro he was. He never took a day off from that; 4. Brian Urlacher—One of my favorite people I’ve ever covered and known. One of the most unaffected stars I’ve ever known. An outstanding teammate to anyone who’s played with him, coached him or had the pleasure of covering him. 5—And Peanut Tillman. Obviously. The man saved me from physical harm!

• We give you 30 carries for the New York Jets in their season opener, what’s your statistical line?: This is awesome. I had to ask my husband what he thought. Mike thinks I’d have one carry—and probably get some yards simply due to a stunned defense. But that’s all I’d last. However… he insists it’s because of my size, not because of toughness or heart.

• Five things you never leave home without?: 1. Appreciation for where I’m at in my life right now; 2 If he’s not leaving with me—a kiss and an “I love you” from Mike; 3. A prayer that I’ll be returning; 4. My mom and I had matching rings made with our initials that we always wore. I put mine on her when we buried her and I haven’t taken hers off in the 20 plus years she’s been gone; 5. A positive attitude. Sometimes that takes work but I try to make my heart my face.

• One question you would ask Hubie Brooks were he here right now: You played on five clubs in 15 years. That’s quite a journey. What was the most valuable insight/lesson you learned with each team?

Celine Dion calls. She offers you $25 million a year to be her personal life reporter. You have to move to Las Vegas, work 360 days a year, shave off all your hair and change your middle name to RoseDawson. You in?: This is awesome. And easy. Nope. At a different time in my life…HELL YEAH!!! But right now I’m so into my own story, I wouldn’t put it on hold for anybody else’s-for any price.

• You’re gonna hate me for asking this—but what the fuck?: Buddy, you know I’m not answering this one.

• Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?: Take the job seriously, not yourself. (Harder to do than I thought).

• Ever thought you were about to die in a plane crash? If so, what do you recall?: Of all the planes I’ve been on and all the traveling I’ve done for 25 years, believe it or not, only once. I thought we were going down … and I didn’t care. It took that moment for me to realize how unhappy I was and how much I needed to change my life. We landed and my work began. It was one of the most important moments of my life. That was the genesis of my second act.

• The people at my gym never clean off the StairMaster after sweating all over it. Give me a creative idea how to get revenge: Oh my gosh—I will not help you exact revenge! I get it, it bothers me, too, and it’s totally rude, but I would tell you to remind yourself that if it’s the worst thing that happens to you that day—it’s going to be a great day. (But that being said, can you give me a creative way to tell someone to stop cracking their gum on a plane? Ugh.)

Save Joel Colindres

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This is a Facebook post from someone named Samantha Colindres. If you’re happy about this, or proud of Donald Trump’s behavior on issues like this, well … look in the mirror. Long for a long time.

Heartbreaking.

And wrong.

Disclaimer: If you are a Trump supporter or his immigration reform, please do not comment on the below with your judgmental thoughts. Until you personally have been effected by him, your opinion or support of his matter is just hurtful.

For those of you that really know me, know I do not post much of FB and when I do its the usual cute kid pic. I don’t put much out about there about myself or my family because despite my outgoing personality I am actually quite a private person. THIS ENDS TODAY.
Today, July 20th, 2017 will forever be the worst day of our lives. Today, my husband, my best friend and father to our amazing children has been issued to deport the country in 28 days….all thanks to President Trump. And for those of you who want to jump in and defend the President or these laws, think again. You don’t really know the full story or what he is really doing until you have lived it yourself. For those that may say Joel broke the rules, he should go….keep that judgmental nonsense to yourself or just go ahead and delete me all together because frankly I don’t need that kind of racist negative influence in our lives(BTW this is taking all of me to not fill this post with an abundance of curse words).
I’m sure none of you know the struggle we have been living for there past 7 years since we got married. We have tried since then to do things “the right way” and about $25,000 later, we are no better off. This immigration game is all about how much time and money you are willing to spend sometimes. Really. Thats it. Until TRUMP came about. Say what you want about Obama but during his time he created the Family Unity act in which his mission was to not separate families due to immigration policies.
After we were married we filed a I-130 which took about a year to get approved. After that we had to file other waivers,one to reopen his case in Texas and get it moved up here to CT. Once that was done we followed all the other steps to a T, each year sending in every detail of our lives to ICE and USCIS from all our birth records, medical, SSN’s, job letters, bills, taxes, basically imagine every private detail about your life you somehow have to encapsulate in documents and send away for someone else to review. All was going well, we were making moves in the process, Joel had his residency in works and work permit filed. Last year we were granted a stay which basically allows you more time to work on your case while you check in with ICE annually. These ICE check ins are normally no big deal……until 2017 came and Trump took over.
If you’ve been out of the know, Trump didn’t give orders to deport the “bad hombres.” He gave orders to “deport them all.” And i’m not exaggerating. Our lawyer has a memo that was sent to him from ICE with these exact words.
So we go to ICE for our check in on May 25th to be told they don’t have his file and come back in two weeks. Ok, don’t have his file when you made the appointment date? Or just a game you are playing because his stay (meaning they can’t touch him) expires(expired) on June 1st. So of course they want him back then so they can touch him then. I’m on to you. We went back early June to be told again no file to come back in July. All the while our lawyer is guiding us that we will be ok, Joel has too much equity in the US. So this 3rd time we went in less anxious than the past two times. We sat there for three hours till the entire room was cleared. People who came in way after us were being called first…..my gut told me then and there something was up. I knew they were waiting to the room was empty so I couldn’t cause a scene. I was right. ICE officer came out and handed us a denied letter that says it cannot be appealed and he has to leave by 8/17/17.

Cue devastation, tears, collapsing and yelling. And let me tell you these ICE officers have zero heart. They laughed at us after they escorted Joel to another department to get an ankle bracelet to wear for the next 28 days. Yeah bc he’s a big time criminal. A man that’s been living here for 13 years with the same job and partner. A man who has paid taxes all 13 years that he won’t see a cent of in SSN bc he doesn’t have one. A man that has never had so much as a parking ticket. A man thats a father of two. A man that owns his own home in CT and works 6 days a week and has NEVER taken a sick day even when a jack hammer went through his foot he was back at work on crutches the following week when he could have been sitting at home collecting worker’s comp. A man that completely changed my life for the better in every way. A man who’s faith inspires me daily.

So Trump and Trump supporters, tell me more about how Trump is helping american citizens by deporting my husband? Tell me how Trump is going to help THIS American Citizen and her two American children live when her husband is deported? Tell me how it will help the country when this family is broken up, goes broke because we have lost the second income and i’m left here to pay for our home while raising our two kids and working a full time job? Tell me you will pay my bills, my mortgage, my daycare, my car insurance? Tell me how to comfort my children at night when daddy isn’t here? Tell me what story i should tell them that doesn’t completely mess them up and their futures? Does Trump really think I’ll stay here alone and separate my family? NO. I’m not an idiot. So then tell me, how great it is to take my kids out of the US away from the only life they’ve known, friends, school, family, education and healthcare? Tell me all the handwork we have done working our asses off to buy a home in a nice town with good schools was all a waste? AND TELL ME HOW THE HELL ANYONE CAN FIGURE OUT ALL OF THIS IN 28 DAYS? Tell me YOU could get your life all flipped upside down and then fixed again in 28 days. Tell me after my husband leaves that I’ll be here alone to sell our home, pack it all up and move internationally just like that? While working full time. While being the only parent. Tell me more about how all this helps the American people?? In fact, wouldn’t it be quite the opposite…….wouldn’t this country loose out on a man that has paid his taxes? How abut once he leaves and I can’t afford this all on my own, how going on welfare and state aid will help our country? Because I’m really dying to know this thought process of such a racist, prejudicial man who operates his regimen like a madman who forgot to take his meds, really works out for the American people.
I close with this…..please don’t comment if he followed the laws none of this would have happened. You are in fact quite wrong. ICE is chaotic scene with people who literally told us “We have no say in the matter, we are just following the new administration.” If you want to see real change, please join me in this fight. We need to rally all we can against this. If you’ve followed any news stories you will see the more noise you make, the more change you can create. I have already been in contact with Senator Blumenthal, Chris Murphy and Elizabeth Etsy. Unfortuntaley they couldn’t help earlier because they said we can’t intervene until something bad happens. Well something did today. And I’ve called out to them for help as I do all of you. If you are against this injustice please support us next week at a protest at ISAP at 330 Main Street, Hartford, CT. Please join us to fight on 7/27/17 at 10am if you believe in REAL change. We have reached out to multiple media outlets and just need one to pick this up to make a splash. It worked for a man in Derby, it can work for us to. I have to believe it because I don’t believe in my government anymore, I believe in the PEOPLE of this country. Please join us and send your thoughts to Trump, call him out on Twitter, share this post to all you know and make it go viral. I’ve made it public so please share!! We have nothing to loose at this point and all to gain. We are begging you all for help to make a difference and i won’t stop fighting till my voice is heard #SaveJoelColindres

 

Jesus Lara Lopez and the power of womb placement

Jesus Lara Lopez says farewell to his son. (Cleveland Plain Dealer photo by Lisa DeJong)

Jesus Lara Lopez says farewell to his son. (Cleveland Plain Dealer photo by Lisa DeJong)

I have a (former) friend in my hometown of Mahopac, N.Y. He loves Donald Trump and believes strongly in his immigration measures.

He is a nice person with a high school education who was born on American soil. He has never served in the military or graduated from college. He was born into wealth, and his parents gave him money to start his own business. After his first effort failed, he tried again. The business has existed for five or six years, thanks in large part to the funneling of money from Mom and Dad.

His living of the American Dream is due entirely to womb placement. His mother was born here. Therefore, he’s an American.

I know tons of people like this. Tons upon tons. They wave the flag, bleed the colors, scream for the wall and mass deportations, love Trump’s fierce nationalism. Yet, like the president himself, they are success stories because sperm met egg in the United States. That’s it and that’s all. It’s their claim to our anthem and our Constitution and our patriotism. God bless America—my dad inserted his penis into my mother’s vagina here! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

I digress.

You probably missed this story, because there’s so much going on with Trump Tweeting and Trump barking and Trump drooling. But a few days ago a Cleveland man named Jesus Lara Lopez was deported to Mexico—the country he fled in 2001. Jesus worked myriad jobs. When he first arrived, he picked crops. Of late he was packing cookies and crackers for Pepperidge Farm. He had no arrest record, and is married with three children. Although during the election Trump said he would only deport (ridiculously) “bad hombres”—he was completely and totally full of shit. In this nation we now deport anyone and everyone who came illegally. That’s not what he ran on … but, hey. Such is the orange puddle.

There are people—loads of people—who surely applaud the deportation of Jesus. They see him being ripped from his wife and children and snarl. They figure, hey, he deserves it. Wait your turn. Come here legally. Do it the right way.

Well, how did I do it? How did you do it?

My parents had sex. Was that the right way?

Donald Trump’s parents handed him shitloads of money. Was that the right way?

The American Dream (or what’s left of it) doesn’t belong to the geographically lucky.

It belongs, in a just world, to Jesus.

Dear ♐Debbie ↔Trump ♐‏

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Dear :

One way or another I stumbled upon something you Tweeted out the other day. Specifically, it was this …

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I would laugh, were I not so horrified. By you. By your message. But your ignorant, hate-filled Twitter feed. Mainly, though, I am horrified by your willingness—either conscious and unconscious—to fall under the sway of a conman.

Please, stop barking. Just listen.

I understand if you dislike Hillary Clinton; if you dislike Barack Obama; if you dislike Jeb Bush and John Kasich and Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi and every elected politician. There’s a pretty widespread mistrust that has been fostered by decades of officials betraying (in one form or another) the trust of the electorate. So, yes, I get it. You’re angry and fed up.

But Donald Trump is not what you think he is. He’s not even 1/100,000,000th of what you think he is.

His track record is conning people—people like you. He smells your vulnerabilities and attacks. This is a man who started a fake “university” to bilk the hopeful of their money. This is a man who refused to pay hundreds of contractors—then sued those who challenged his authority. He doesn’t know or seek out righteousness (as an example, in the aftermath of 9.11 he donated to our city a grand total of $0.00 in moneys and 0.00 hours of time) and he possesses the curiosity of a stone.

Right now, you are a cult member, and I am the deprogrammer. And I realize I just committed a major blunder, because you want to say, “No! Liberalism is the cult! Snowflake! Snowflake!” But here’s the difference: While I’m a liberal, I’m not brainwashed enough where I would pledge my devotion and fealty to any figure. As an American, it’s actually my duty not to pledge devotion and fealty. That’s what makes our government so unique—it’s WE, the people; not HE, the grand leader.

But read what you posted again. Read it closely. “Call out the militia”? “Answer the call”? “Domestic enemies”?

Domestic enemies? Why, because we like Obamacare? Why, because we’re pro-choice? Why, because we voted for Hillary Clinton?

Domestic enemies? What the fuck are you talking about?

The man who pledge loyalty to might have colluded with Russia. Read that again: The man you pledge loyalty to might have colluded with Russia. Think about that. Stop screaming “Fake news” and Tweeting “#fakenews” and just look at the contacts, the ties. Also, the man you pledge loyalty to has overloaded his cabinet with greedy, ruinous capitalists. Hell, Google the roster. Also, the man you pledge loyalty to has never done a thing for America’s working class. N-e-v-e-r. Check out his resume. Not his words—his resume.

Read it.

Read it again.

You wanna answer the call to uphold and defend the republic? Please do.

It starts with a look in the mirror.

On John McCain and “beating” cancer

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In case you missed the horrible news, John McCain has been diagnosed with brain cancer.

The Arizona senator has had a long and distinguished career in politics, and while I’ve often disagreed with his positions, I’ve generally found him to be a man of conviction and principles. Or, put different, if you’re a close pal of Joe Biden, you must be doing something right.

Anyhow, the responses from the political world were pretty boilerplate, thought not in a bad way. Lots of love and respect and admiration. One, however, grabbed my attention …

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To be clear, this is not a political statement. I’d be making this point whether the Vice President were an arch conservative or a far-left liberal. But … man, I hate sentiments like the one written by Pence. I’m certain the words come from a kind place, but this whole personification of cancer that we do is simply maddening.

Cancer is not a person, and it’s not something to be opposed like Conor McGregor stepping into the ring with Floyd Mayweather. It doesn’t pick “the wrong guy” or “the right guy.” Fighters can overcome it, fighters can succumb to it. Non-fighters can overcome it, non-fighters can succumb to it. The Trump Administration likes to frame things as “win” and “lose,” but cancer doesn’t subscribe to such base actions. You listen to your doctors, you do what they tell you, you try and keep the faith and maintain optimism—and you hope it works for the best.

I don’t resent the Vice President praying. I don’t even resent the vice president’s Tweet.

I just think it’s a simple outlook on a far more complicated tragedy.

Russ Bengtson slings yang

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A few hours ago I posted the fifth episode of Two Writers Slinging Yang, my weekly podcast where I chat writing with another scribe.

The new episode features Russ Bengtson, my longtime pal best known from his work as Slam Magazine’s editor. Russ was a fabulous guest—lots of stories about Iverson, K.G., Tim Duncan … and even a little Shawn Bradley (who Slam repeatedly mocked).

Russ and I are contemporaries, meaning we’re A. Survivors of the business and B. Confused by the business.

Please give it a listen either on Bumpers or iTunes.

Word.

PS: In case you’re curious, the photo on the left features Peter Nesbitt, Tommy Jacobellis and Chris Supa. It’s from the 1990 Mahopac High School yearbook. I’m not entirely sure why I’m using it. But, eh, I am. Proudly.

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