Back in the mid-1970s, my Grandpa Nat (right) purchased the above shirt with my Grandma Mollie near their condo in Sunrise, Florida. Both passed many years ago, but I have uncovered a rare, treasured diary of that particular day of shopping.
I’ve decided it’s time to share with the world …
Nat Pearlman: It was dinner time.
Mollie Pearlman: 3:30.
Nat Pearlman: Right. So we went our favorite place, Maury’s Kosher Kingdom.
Mollie Pearlman: It was delicious. I remember what I had.
Nat Pearlman: You had the—
Mollie Pearlman: Nat, let me tell the story.
Nat Pearlman: I remember, you had …
Mollie Pearlman: Nat!
Nat Pearlman: [simmers]
Mollie Pearlman: I had a cup of tomato soup. Maybe it was vegetable. But I think it was tomato. It came with a side of bread in a basket, and butter. Then I had a salad, with those croutons and Thousand Island dressing. Then I had the prime rib. It came with either a baked potato or mashed or French fries.
Nat Pearlman: You alw—
Mollie Pearlman: I always got the baked potato.
Nat Pearlman: I had that, too. Then I paid the $5.95 and we left.
Mollie Pearlman: You needed a new shirt.
Nat Pearlman: No I didn’t.
Mollie Pearlman: Nat, you needed a new shirt.
Nat Pearlman: OK.
Mollie Pearlman: We went to the Broward Mall.
Nat Pearlman: Parking was terrible.
Mollie Pearlman: Nat, it wasn’t that bad.
Nat Pearlman: I guess not.
Mollie Pearlman: There was a Neiman Marcus in the mall. I liked that store.
Nat Pearlman: I hated that store.
Mollie Pearlman: If it were up to you, we’d never go shopping.
Nat Pearlman: That’s true.
Mollie Pearlman: We went into Neiman Marcus. But first you bought a bag of salted almonds at a kiosk.
Nat Pearlman: I like slated almonds.
Mollie Pearlman: I knew it would keep you quiet. So I let you have the almonds.
Nat Pearlman: That’s not how I re—
Mollie Pearlman: You like almonds.
Nat Pearlman: That’s true.
Mollie Pearlman: I have a real eye for shopping, and when I saw that shirt I just knew.
Nat Pearlman: It’s the ugliest fucking shirt in the history of the world.
Mollie Pearlman: Nat!
Nat Pearlman: I love it!
Mollie Pearlman: I knew you would.
Nat Pearlman: You really had impeccable taste in fashion. [whispering to someone to the side: Seriously, it’s the ugliest fucking shirt ever. I look like a giant leaf after an emu vomited it up. What the flipping fuck? Jesus Christ, why didn’t I exercise any wardrobe control? Now that I’m dead, I can see this was an enormous mistake]
Mollie Pearlman: Leaves were in at the time. So were big butterfly collars. Also, we had an event at the synagogue that night. So I wanted Nat to look handsome.
Nat Pearlman: A handsome leaf.
Mollie Pearlman: Nat!
Nat Pearlman: It was a terrific shirt.
Mollie Pearlman: I vividly recall there was no price tag on the shirt.
Nat Pearlman: I wonder why.
Mollie Pearlman: So I asked the girl who worked there. I said, “How much is this shirt?” She said, “You want that shirt?” She seemed very excited for me.
Nat Pearlman: That’s one way to read it.
Mollie Pearlman: It cost $6.99. I thought that was expensive. So I asked if they had a Triple A rate.
Nat Pearlman: Why would Neiman Marcus have a Triple A rate?
I’m sitting here with my son Emmett. He’s 11 and in sixth grade, and it’s almost his bedtime. But first, a quick Q&A …
Dad: What do you think the world should smell like?
Emmett: Oh. What should it smell like? Not something that’s too strong, like bacon or something. But … like. Something like ocean. Something not overpowering, but not nothing. Not air. Like a scented candle, like Moon Breeze.
Emmett: It’s just like, first the lyrics are so lame. There’s nothing special about them. It’s “Yeah, we’re cool. Kris Kross.” That’s lame. And they’re not very good rappers. It’s more like Kids Bop singing than it is rapping. It’s just not very good.
Dad: What’s the dumbest question an adult can ask an 11-year old?
Emmett: Dumbest question? OK, for an average 11-year old, I’ll have to say, “How are you?” Because no one is going to say, “Terrible, I failed my math test.” They’re just going to say, “Good.”
Dad: Do you have any friends who have boyfriends or girlfriends?
Emmett: I have people that aren’t necessarily my friends but who have been asked out. They’ve said no. There’s one person who said yes, but that never lasted. It was weird.
Dad: What are your plans for April Fools?
Emmett: I can’t tell you. It involves Saran Wrap, jelly beans and possibly whipped cream.
Dad: What’s the grossest thing about me?
Emmett: Grossest thing about you is when you have a scab and you’re like, “Hey, Emmett, touch the scab.” That’s gross. Today you did it with the canker sore. That’s just disgusting. I didn’t touch it, though.
Dad: What do you want?
Emmett: Um. To be happy? I guess.
Dad: Three favorite USFL teams?
Emmett: No. 1 is gonna have to be the Jacksonville Bulls. No. 2 is gonna have to be … [long pause] Blitz. It’s just kind of cool. Third is gonna have to be the Bandits, because they’re named after Bandit the dog. It’s just kind of funny.
Dad: You’ve heard a lot of curses, but you never curse. Why?
Emmett: There’s no need to. If you think about it, there’s absolutely no need to curse. You can just replace it with any other word.
Dad: You tired?
Emmett: No. I mean, like, I’m gonna go to bed soon. So a little bit. But not super death tired.
Dayna Steele is a Democrat running for a congressional seat in southeast Texas.
I need to repeat that, because it sounds sorta bonkers. So … Dayna Steele is a Democrat running for a congressional seat in southeast Texas. She’s never held a political office. She never really thought about holding a political office. But then, stuff started to change. Ted Cruz. Donald Trump. The attacks on immigrants. The attacks on LGBT rights. The anger from the right, often crossing the lines of decency, of bigotry, of hate.
And now, here we are. Best know for her longtime career as a Houston-based rock radio DJ, Steele finds herself in the heart of a heated campaign against arch-conservative (Trump worshiping) incumbent Brian Babin, who scored an A+ rating from the NRA and thinks climate change is some sort of wacky hoax. Will Steele win? It’ll be tough. Should she win? If decency and compassion matter, absolutely.
Today, Dayna talks about entering a race for the first time; about the discomfort of asking for money, the passion of the campaign trail, her love of Sammy Hagar and dislike of Rush. One can visit Dayna’s website here, and follow her on Twitter here and Instagram here.
Dayna Steele, you are the 350th Quaz …
JEFF PEARLMAN:So Dayna, you’re a Democrat. In Texas. Running for Congress. As I sit here in my Southern California home, I’m thinking, “Um … what?” Because Texas sorta feels like a lost cause to progressive thinking. Tell me why I’m wrong.
DAYNA STEELE: What you do is state your position and your solution. You find like-minded individuals and you get the word out. Texas isn’t as red and as redneck as people are led to believe. What we are is a “do not get out and vote” state. That is changing. According to a Gallup poll just last week, Texas is not longer red and is back in play for elections. This year. National news also is touting the fact that the Democratic candidate for Senator, Beto O’Rourke is kicking Ted Cruz’s behind in fundraising and grassroots.
J.P.:A couple of hours before I started typing this two were killed in a shooting at Central Michigan. Before that, of course, was Parkland. I’ve read your position on guns—“ We need a stronger background check system for all gun sales, once again allow CDC research on gun violence, ban bump stocks and more” … but I’m not seeing the majority of registered Texas voters feeling your take. The belief, fortified by years of NRA conditioning, is that once they take one gun, they’ll take another. Dayna, how do you sell reasonable gun control to those who don’t buy it?
D.S.: Less than one percent of gun owners are members of the NRA and many of those members are horrified at what the organization has become. I am a native Texan, a Democrat who has owned a gun before and also enjoys going to the shooting range with my son. I am asking for common sense while still protecting the 2nd Amendment.
J.P.:How do you explain Donald Trump’s rise? Everyone has their takes. What’s yours?
D.S.: Democrats just assumed that had that on in the bag. Or people just assumed it wasn’t worth the effort in a “red” state. And the party spends more time pointing out what is wrong than what we want to do for people. Name calling and finger pointing is just like kicking an ant bed, making the ants mad and spreading them even more. Instead I like to concentrate on what’s important in my district, what people are talking about. Democrats, Independents and Republicans. What I hear is Medicare For All, publlic fiber optic broadband Internet (HUGE areas without coverage or at least really bad service), Harvey recovery help, and better public schools.
J.P.:Your background is super funky: Rock radio personality in Houston-turned online retail entrepreneur-turned author. I wanna start with the music—how did that happen? How does one become a radio personality? What was the climb?
D.S.: On a dare in college. The guy doing the daring was talking about the new student radio station where I was a freshman, Texas A&M University. He was a deejay at the Top 40 station in town and very cute. I thought if I auditioned, he would be impressed and ask me out. He did not but once I put on those headphones, I knew I was home. I did it for the next 22 years. And he and I are still friends! Never did get that date but that’s OK, because things worked out just fine.
J.P.:You wrote a book two years ago, “Surviving Alzherimer’s,” that really was a collection of your Facebook posts as your mother faded away from the awful disease. I’m gonna throw a curveball here: My wife and I often talk about people who share all their struggles on Facebook. Sometimes it comes off as wonderful. Other times, needy. Other times, desperate. Other times, enlightening. Why did you choose Facebook posts as your outlet? And what is it to have a loved one with Alzheimer’s?
D.S.: It simply started as a way to let our friends and family all over the world know. I just couldn’t bring myself to say it over and over. I was so surprised by the hundreds of people who started reaching out with their stories. I realized they wanted to talk and I was giving them permission to talk, vent, cry, laugh, whatever helps you get through this horrible experience. It was also quite cathartic for me. I used a lot of dark humor to get through it and so many gave me permission to laugh and share.
The first half of the book features the best posts with the best comments—funny, insightful, helpful. The second half are resources I wish I had from the beginning, including a list of question you and your wife should ask each other now and keep the answers somewhere safe, written down.
J.P.:You spent a ton of your life interviewing rock stars, from Ozzy and Sammy Hagar to Bono and Keith Richards. On and on and on. And I wonder—besides mere talent, what separates the OK from the good, the good from the great? Was there a reason some singers/bands soared, while others eternally played the Stone Balloon and Milford Crab House?
D.S.: That’s the first book! “Rock To The Top: What I Learned About Success From The World’s Greatest Rock Stars” It’s work ethic, networking, appreciation and so much more. And working those ‘talents’ each and every day in everything you do. I’ve summed it up before by saying the biggest rock stars always called when they were scheduled to, or showed up. They were prepared, had something to say, were entertaining. they could sell themselves and the product but also make your show good. All success comes from helping others become successful.
J.P.:Running for office means money groveling. Tons and tons and tons of money groveling. So … how do you ask for money? And do you hate it as much as I would?
D.S.: I do hate it but it is a necessary evil. Hoping I can change that from the inside. I’ve never been able to ask for money starting with my allowance as a kid. But I’ve gotten pretty good at it for the campaign. Why? Because for 17 dead in Parkland, a $31,000 dining room table, deported DREAMers, women’s rights being attacked, racist attacks, the decimation of equal rights … I’m preaching to the choir here but you get the point. I have to ask for money, I have to drive hundreds of miles and give hundreds of speeches. I have to for all of us. And no one even ran on the ticket in 2016. Our very democracy is at risk daily.
J.P.:From afar, I just don’t get the appeal of Ted Cruz. I know you’re not a fan, but can you explain why Texans seem to like him. Like, step outside your own feelings. Clearly he’s doing something right, no?
D.S.: He panders to the religious right who finally feel like they have a champion. But I am hearing and seeing a growing distaste from moderate and even conservative Republicans who understand separation of church and state is essential for a democracy by and for the people. And again, people just got complacent and thought, “How much harm can he possibly do?”
J.P.:You have kids. I have kids. I think we’re fucked on climate change. I mean, you and I will die with the earth largely intact. And maybe our kids will. But theirs won’t. And, truth be told, I think it’s too late. The oceans will rise, the earth will get hotter and hotter. Fucked. Agree? Disagree? And what to do?
D.S.: Agree, but I refuse to give up, we can at least try to save what we can. We owe it to them. I don’t give up that easily.
J.P.:How do you approach people you know don’t—instinctively—want to vote for you? The lifelong Republican? The #maga guy? Like, do you try? Or sometimes do you just say, “No point with this one”?
D.S.: So many grew up listening to me, we just talk about radio. My hairdresser loves Trump, so we talk about our kids. I interviewed people for a living, like you said, so I just interview them and give them a chance to talk and vent. I don’t get mad, I don’t yell, I don’t name call., I listen. I won’t change many of their minds but I will change some. I am hearing more and more often these days, “I can’t vote for you because I have to vote Republican, but I’m rooting for you.” And then they hug me. That’s a start …
QUAZ EXPRESS WITH DAYNA STEELE:
• How did you meet your husband?: Blind date with an astronaut to a CSN show. He was a NASA pilot and came with some other folks. June 3, 1990. We’ve been together ever since.
• Five all-time favorite bands/singers: Sammy Hagar, Led Zeppelin, Frank Sinatra, Melissa Etheridge, CSN
• Five all-time least-favorite bands/singers: Rush (only because they were so rude to a radio promotion winner one day), anything disco. Otherwise I’d be hard pressed to say. I love all music and what it does to my brain.
• Rank in order (favorite to least): The Alan Parsons Project, Oklahoma State University, Lois Lane, Troy Aikman, Tina Turner, Ronald McNair, 12 inches of snow, finger food, Thurman Munson, Flavor Flav, ladybugs: Ronald McNair (If you are talking Challenger astronaut, he was my neighbor. His widow Cheryl is who fixed me up with the above mentioned astronaut that led me to Charlie), Tina Turner, ladybugs, finger food, Lois Lane, The Alan Parsons Project, Flavor Flav, OSU, 12 inches of snow, Troy Aikman, Thurman somebody.
• One question you would ask Candy Maldonado were he here right now: What do you think of the outrageous salaries players are getting now?
• What happens after we die?: I don’t waste time worrying about that. I’m doing the best I can here and now.
• Five reasons one should make Seabrook, Texas his/her next vacation destination: I am a helluva cook. Come to my house. There’s wine. And NASA. I’ll take you on a tour.
• I still think the Mets were better off with Danny Heep than Mike Scott. You?: Who?
• In exactly 11 words, make a case for the Whopper: Anything served through a window is probably very bad for you.
• Who is the nicest celebrity you’ve ever spoken with?: Robert Plant was very cordial when I hung up on him. The next week Mick Jagger was equally charming when I put him on hold. But I would have to say Sammy Hagar. His manager was my mentor and I spent a lot of time on the road with them. Sammy is a brilliant business guy with the biggest heart for people and causes.
So it’s a work-from-home day, which means I’m sitting at the kitchen table with our dog Norma a few feet away.
Today, Norma placed herself atop some blankets. So, being a kindly dog owner, I wrapped her up, then watched every now and then as she leaned over, happy as could be. I decided the scene was too lovely not to share, and I snapped her photo and Tweeted it out, along with the caption LAZY DAY FOR NORMA. See, like this …
Three minutes after Tweeting I began an hour-long Skype session with students from the University of Illinois. So I stepped away from social media, chatted, then returned.
To this …
Wait, what? Why the sadness? Why the condolences? Why the …
My stupid iPhone, with it’s ever-malfunctioning keypad, led me to the darkest of places.
A couple of hours ago my daughter received a text from a friend, inviting her to a church event …
Now, we’re Jewish. And the church in question is one that has made clear its intention to use its youthful members to draw (and convert) other young people. So Casey will be attending an event at this institution just after I allow her to date Logan Paul. Or pierce her eyeballs. Or pierce her eyeballs while dating Logan Paul.
Wait. Where was I?
Oh, right. As we were driving, Casey read the invitation aloud. And all sounded normal and pedestrian until the words, “hear former LA Dodger Josh Canales and other athletes!” As a longtime sports writer (and, for half a decade, Major League Baseball beat writer), I’m pretty good when it comes to knowing sports rosters. Not perfect, obviously. But strong. Yet Josh Canales, former LA Dodger, didn’t ring a bell.
David (left) celebrates Holi by having red powdered paint thrown on his face.
Those of you who read this blog with any regularity know I have an older brother.
His name is David, he turns 48 this year, he lives in Florida and works as a travel agent. We are two years apart, and while I don’t think of us as insanely tight—in a Brady Bunch sort of sense—there’s a definite bond that develops when two people share parents and childhoods and decades.
Anyhow, several years ago David decided to quit his job and backpack much of the world. That’s no exaggeration—he literally said, “Fuck this, I wanna travel.” Then traveled. The resulting blog posts were amazing, and I often felt as if I were by his side, taking in the sights and sounds. The best thing about his journeys is the 100-percent lacking of pretension or elitism. My brother eats on the cheap. My brother stays mostly in hostels. My brother doesn’t care about fancy clothes, luxury items, posh conditions. He’ll find himself in a strange city, all alone, napping on a bench, or inside a train. This sort of thing scares the living shit out of our mother—but it makes for riveting copy and inspired adventures.
As I’m sitting here at my kitchen table, aware of what tomorrow and the next day and the next day will likely involve, David is having his face painted red, is napping on buses, is visiting the world’s largest man-made island; is having a conversation with a woman who speaks no English.
Last night, while watching the Academy Awards, three words kept popping through my skull.
They were: I fucked her.
The memory dates back, oh, six or seven years. I was in Los Angeles, being wined and dined at the Soho House by a man who wanted to sign me as a client. We were talking when he pulled out his iPhone and started to show me pictures of all the women he’d been having sex with of late. Many were naked. Some were half naked. They were all photos he said he took, and now—because, why not?—he was showing them to me.
“I fucked her, man.”
“Fucked her, too.”
“Check out her.”
Needless to say, I didn’t sign with him (I also didn’t speak up enough, besides showing my disinterest. Which, in hindsight, sucks. Because silence is approval, isn’t it?). But I can say, in the years that have followed, I’ve met one disgusting Hollywood exec after another after another. They are, almost without fail, between the ages of 30 and, oh, 55. They’re all short. Most are Jewish. They all speak of women as if they were objects. And they all aspire (truly, all) to wind up with the hot 20-something off-the-bus blonde, big-breasted aspiring model. Or, put different, they all aspire to use their positions of power and authority to get laid.
Is this too harsh? No. I’ve had this conversation with others, and the typecast and stereotype holds true. And, sincerely, this is why the whole #metoo thing at last night’s Academy Awards made me shrug. Because while the women are 100-percent righteous and sincere and legit, I suspect many (if not most) of the men standing and applauding for Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino and the others could care less. To them, I believe, this is pure PR. You clap because everyone is clapping. You stand because everyone is standing. But do you actually want things to change? Do you want powerful women calling the shots?
Of course not. You want the hot 20-something off-the-bus blonde, big-breasted aspiring model.
In our household, there’s this phenomenon where bad songs become good songs, even though we know, truly, they’re bad songs.
It started, oh, seven or eight years ago, when all my kids wanted to hear was Laura Branigan’s “Gloria.” We stepped up to the next level shortly thereafter, when “Twist of Fate” by Olivia Newton-John was all the rage in Pearlman car trips.
How to explain this? Eh, I can’t. Shit just gets weird from time to time.
However, we’ve reached a new level of late.
We’ve turned to “Shandi.”
For the 999 of 1,000 of you not in the know, “Shandi” is a single off of Kiss’ truly tragic 1980 album, “Unmasked.” This was the band’s last release with Peter Criss on the drums—even though Peter Criss played nary a track on the album. On “Unmasked,” Gene and Ace showed up in studio on occasion; Paul was going through some weird romantic Jack Dawson-meets-Rose Dewitt Bukater; the band was coping with fame and excess and the heyday of cocaine.
But here’s the crazy thing. The craziest of crazy things. “Shandi” is awful, but I … can’t … stop … listening … to … it. We play it and play it and play it, and with each turn the jam seems to improve. Truly, I’ve never grasped the phenomenon of repeat exposure equaling enjoyment, but there’s a quirky truth to it all. I actually think, oddly, Paul pulls this thing off. I mean, it’s not A material. Or B material. Or C material. Factually, it features all the hallmarks of brutal music.
Some folks have noticed that I don’t really write for Bleacher Report Magazine (aka: B/R Mag) any longer.
Actually, scratch “any longer.”
I don’t really write for B/R Mag.
It’s true. I don’t. And it wasn’t particularly by choice. Whereas once I averaged, oh, six or seven long features per year for the site, I’ve now been phased out of their plans. Which, to be clear, is 100 percent fine. I truly mean that. I’m all about the books. And when I’m not all about the books, I’m also about my weekly column for The Athletic—which has been genuine joy and a creative spark plug of unparalleled experience.
But … I wanna talk about Bleacher Report. Because I think it’s important.
A bunch of years ago, I was doing some legit work for B/R Mag. My stories could be as long as 10,000 words—deep dives into Jovan Belcher, into Dylan Favre, into Willie Williams, into Taj McDavid. And, man, it was awesome. B/R Mag was establishing itself as this place for top-shelf long-form writing, and I was paid very well to spend a month (or so) per project.
Anyhow, I’m not sure what my point is—but I did (what I like to think is) some solid stuff for the site, and the site gave my myriad opportunities.
Before I continue, a quick story: Back in 1995, when I was a young shithead reporter for The Tennessean, we had an excellent University of Tennessee beat writer named Maurice Patton. Mo was great—a veteran who knew his way around a locker room; who developed trust in coaches in administrators; who understood the game far better than I did.
Anyhow, our sports editor was Neal Scarbrough. And one day Neal asked if I’d like to write a 3,000-word all-encompassing piece on Peyton Manning, at the time the Vols’ quarterback. Neal said it would involve travel to New Orleans; it would involve interviewing dozens of people; it would involve hard work and investigative chops.
In short, he asked me to write the type of piece I’d never done before.
I can’t imagine the veteran reporters (specifically, Mo) were thrilled by this. I mean, they were better than I was at the job. Better writers, better reporters, smarter, shiftier. They grasped things I didn’t. But Neal thought it important not to just have me write, but to groom and mold and educate his young staffers. So he gave me that opportunity, and it changed the course of my career in journalism.
On the one hand, it’s uncomfortable being phased out, right? I mean, when you hit 45 it doesn’t feel like 45. Shit, I feel 25. I feel like I’m writing as well as I ever have. I also think experience gives you tons of tools you lacked at, oh, 30. Confidence. Knowledge. Understanding. Stuff you don’t know you ever missed until you have it.
Ultimately, though, B/R Mag deserves tons of credit. In an age where jobs are drying up and lengths are being reduced and resources are being redirected, it’s the rare spot where young writers can actually go and show their mettle. It’s also a place where editors work with you; where they take the time to help develop voice and pitch and narrative.
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.