Idaho and Nature

American History Museum held a screening for the DC Environmental Film Festival which is always a good place to see the latest in documentaries. I really enjoyed Phantom Wolves of Sun Valley because it gave equal attention to the complex beliefs and attitudes of all sides on the question of having wolves in the state of Idaho. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCSFwE2dkdk You watch and wish all the people could put aside their attitudes and reach a consensus. The claim of the movie is that the wolf debate is really a debate about different approaches to life by two or three different groups of people and they don’t really like or respect one another.

Death of an Owner

When I wrote my latest book, The Bullets, The Wizards and Washington, DC Basketball,  I was able to speak to one of the owners of the Baltimore Bullets. Unfortunately, another had died and I was unable to reach the third, Arnold Heft. Two days ago I read that he died.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/arnold-a-heft-owner-of-horses-nba-team-dies-at-94/2014/03/26/fc810a4a-b501-11e3-8020-b2d790b3c9e1_story.html

Wish I had spoken to him about the Washington Bullets and owning the Capital Centre.

First Openly Gay Athlete to Play Coming Soon??

The Brooklyn Nets might make history this season. They are looking for a big center for their roster and have two choices in mind.

The ESPN article below makes mention of gay history five paragraphs into the piece:

http://espn.go.com/newyork/nba/story/_/id/10505461/brooklyn-nets-await-glen-davis-decision-trying-add-jason-collins

Historic Arena Saved

The DC Preservation League celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first US concert while enjoying the years of hard work they put in to save Uline Arena and the Washington Coliseum from being torn down.

Here’s the video telling the story:

Beatles First US Concert

The DC Preservation League sponsored a celebration of the Beatles First US Concert. It happened 50 years ago at the Washington Coliseum. I have a few photos from the event.

partying in the old ticket booth at Washington Coliseum

My book, the Bullets, the Wizards and Washington, DC Basketbalfeatures all the basketball teams that played at Uline Area/Washington Coliseum. I spoke in the documentary the DCPL created to celebrate this building’s history. The model for the renovation of the building appears below.

model for new building

One last look at the old arena’s floor.

2014-02-11 19.36.07

 

What it looked like nearly 70 years ago:

Uline Arena-1941

 

Tar Sands Skating

Given the winter weather throughout the US, it should be no surprise that I went skating. Except it wasn’t outside and it wasn’t on ice. The Corcoran Gallery of Art has a show that features a skating rink inside its rotunda. It’s a synthetic black skating rink and it was fun skating around inside it.

Once you step out you look at the blades and see a gooey tar. A volunteer takes the skates from you and wipes the black gook off the blades. You look up over the rink and see these dead tree stumps and dead ravens hanging upside down.

 

Mia_Feuer_An_Unkindness_Web_Image_2

Mia Feuer’s new project is a haunting vision of nature consumed, transformed, and twisted by human need. Inspired by the artist’s experiences in the oil-producing landscapes of the Canadian tar sands, the Arctic Circle, and the Suez Canal, An Unkindness explores the relationships between human infrastructure and the natural world.

For the past several years, Feuer has traveled around the world to places where oil is extracted from the earth and created work that responds to the social and environmental effects of that process. In 2011 and 2012, she gained restricted access to an oil production plant in the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, where she observed an ecosystem reshaped—with nightmarish logic—by desolate plains, inverted trees, and imported birds of prey. Responding to this landscape, Feuer developed An Unkindness, the title of which refers to a gathering of ravens. In the exhibition, Feuer merges imagery from the oil sands with her own experiences growing up in Canada and her research into ecological systems worldwide.

TransCanada has said that without the Keystone pipeline much of the tar sands oil will not be accessible. Looking at the decimation already wrought by the digging, can we allow more digging to happen? I’d say no, especially thinking about global warming.

Sports Fans

I wrote The Bullets, The Wizards and Washington, DC Basketball partly because I was amazed at the issue of fans and their support of the DC teams over the years.

.Image

Even when the Bullets were good, the numbers of fans were not as great as you’d expect. And when the Wizards were bad, man, fans had it tough.

Image

I’m working on two papers that I’ll be giving at the Popular Culture Association in Chicago and the North American Society for Sports History in Glenwood Springs, Colorado early this year.

Crunched some figures about numbers of fans who are linked to certain sports teams on Facebook. I looked at cities in the US that have teams in the four major US professional sports (baseball, football, basketball and hockey). These cities are Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Miami, Detroit, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Phoenix and San Francisco. I divided the number of fans on Facebook into the population of the metropolitan areas from the 2010 Census to determine the percentage of the population showing fan interest for each team.

The results show that Washington has the lowest percentage of its population involved with its teams and Phoenix has the second lowest. Boston has the highest. The data appears below organized by sport.

By Sport: (ranked by percentage of population)

Baseball

Red Sox  4,185,683 (92%)
688,605

Yankees  6,651,882 (68%) #1 in the New York area
1,034,752

SF Giants  1,866,243 (43%)
544,563

Cubs 1,874,234 (39%) #1 in the Chicago area
296,564

Detroit Tigers  1,404,184  (33%)
364,344

Texas Rangers  1,648,160 (26%)
345,642

White Sox  1,117,960 (23%)
166,165

Phillies  1,368,839 (23%)
792,530

Rockies  579,638 (23%)
110,404

Diamondbacks  371,803 (9%)
109,457

Mets  711,431 (7%)
222,596

Marlins  349,337 (6%)
102,530

Nationals  270,473 (5%)
154,611

Football (ranked by percentage of population)

Patriots  4,346,695 (95%)
777,350

Cowboys   5,896,128 (92%) #1 in the Dallas area
762,964

Broncos  2,014,604 (79%) #1 in the Denver area
420,029

49ers  2,332,133 (54%) #1 in the San Francisco area
562,706

Eagles  2,277,997 (38%) #1 in the Philadelphia area
414,192

Bears  3,062,435 (32%)
414,020

Giants  2,883,522 (29%)
538,485

Dolphins  1,496,534 (27%)
282,758

Lions  1,089,921  (25%)
304,469

Redskins  1,270,765 (23%) #1 in the Washington area
271,865

Cardinals: 667,826 (16%)
81,230

Jets  1,568,587  (16%)
618,924

Basketball (ranked by percentage of population)

Heat  9,483,777 (170%) #1 n the Miami area
2,111,279

Celtics 7,351,417 (162%) #1 in the Boston area
1,333,231

Nuggets  1,252,113 (49%)
255,361

Mavericks  2,756,809 (43%)
378,697

Knicks  4,148,183 (42%)

Suns  1,061,293 (25%) #1 in the Phoenix area
237,829

Warriors  929,247 (21%)
325,560

Pistons  714,206  (17%)
223,643

Nets 1,403,669 (15%)
366,964

Sixers  539,415 (9%)
264,650

Wizards  286,115 (5%)
195,223

Hockey:

Red Wings  1,492,132 (34%) #1 in the Detroit area
374,117

Bruins   1,516,883 (33%)
482,948

Avalanche  460,522 (18%)
148,098

Black Hawks  1,568,115 (17%)
480,212

Flyers  914,211 (15%)
300,810

Sharks  608,476 (14%)
185,226

Rangers  1,081,743 (11%)
279,517

Capitals  536,195 (10%)
198,594

Coyotes  148,657 (4%)
98,771

Stars  216,058 (3%)
137,717

Panthers  102,193 (2%)
93,960

Islanders  142,380 (1%)
101,573

 

 

 

 

What’s Love Got to Do With It

Columnist Richard Cohen went to see the new movie Her and came away with a stronger impression of our cultural narcissism. Critics and sociologists and historians have talked about our cultural obsession with ourselves for 50 years. The 70s were the Me generation; great historian Christoper Lasch wrote The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations at the close of that decade.

The awareness of our navel gazing is nothing new but the movie adds a twist; our ability to use technology to serve this purpose. It seems to provide a cure: we can all have our own personal technological male 0r female to serve our desires! Cohen provides several examples that embody this self focus, including selfies, watching only a cable network that provides the information you want to hear (Fox, MSNBC). He also adds that Americans have about 70 million dogs and 74 million cats and, says “…while some of them are for helping — guard dogs, etc. — most offer the service of uncomplicated affection.”

The animal companionship item is an odd example to demonstrate narcissism.In fact, it demonstrates our need to be related to others and the joy we receive from that connection. People with animals know that you spend a fair amount of time fulfilling their basic care needs. Other time is spend playing with them and showing them affection. We have relationships with the animals. We love watching them be themselves, and get an amazing amount of joy out of the things that they do. That’s far from narcissistic and someone who has a pet for their own glorification is providing a great disservice and missing out on so much.

It Gets Better

The federal government agency I work for created an It Gets Better video.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKia_M9Nj0Y

Book Compares NFL Players to Strippers

Yesterday in the newspaper opinion section, Rick Maese, a sports writer for The Washington Post, provided an analysis of two books on experiences in the National Football League (NFL).  The two books are: “Collision Low Crossers,” Nicholas Dawidoff and former tight end Nate Jackson, who looks back on his six-year career in “Slow Getting Up.”  I’ll let you read the reviews to get the gist of his review.

Most interesting to me is that despite 500 pages, Dawidoff provides little insight into the sport’s locker room and its culture. Yet, we learn something we know already, that room is Y-chromosome world with few social boundaries, where teasing is a principle of communication. This kind of humor and teasing comes across in Jackson’s book. It’s a place where one ponders the on-demand adult movies available in hotels and daydream about Playboy models. The reviewer bemoans the lack of substantive discussion Jackson offers regarding the bullying or the use of stimulants and other illegal drugs to maintain one’s career. Maese does mention that Jackson likens being a football player to being a stripper:

“Both strippers and professional athletes live on the fringes of a society that judges them for their profession, based solely on stereotypes. These stereotypes are nearly impenetrable. Both stripper and athlete stand alone behind them, and often find solace with those who know what it’s like to be there.”

Maese found the comparison intriguing and wished the book had more of this kind of thought and insight. I agree that this is intriguing but don’t necessarily accept the comparison. First, I question whether being in a life of the NFL is on the fringes of society. Really, when most men in the game have homes with nuclear families to return to during the season and afterwards as well. Can the same be said of the majority of strippers? I used to live with two women who danced and they were always hoping to find some man who would take them away from the business. Would any NFL player feel that way?

While a stereotype might be guiding the way people view both professions, is the stereotype of the NFL player, such as the dumb jock, that much different than the stereotype of a basketball player, or  a baseball player. Isn’t there a lot of camaraderie that exists among athletes from different sports. They have their pro-am golf events among other places to play and exult with one another.  Does the stripper have a similar situation? I think she and the hes that perform, stand more alone and isolated.

I do agree that the “real person” behind the player or stripper many not be seen. I also see a comparison that Jackson does not mention, that each has a short-term career, that their careers are based upon physical fitness and performance of physical tasks that become harder as one ages. Both are pieces of meat, and are in such specialized professions that it cam be hard to adjust to a different work experience.

Indeed, as one ages, it is quite likely that the owners of the team or the clubs and bars, may find it easy to replace the player or the stripper. It’s then that I see the most potent similarity to their situations. Both will lose the bonding in their single-sex world; in the locker rooms, or back stage. They feel cast off and lose the strong sense of inclusion in a team/group and the identity that goes with their profession: football player and stripper. That loss is what Jackson identifies and observes is a powerful feeling to lose that disturbs many retired players.

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