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’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.
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.
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.
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)
Red Sox 4,185,683 (92%)
Yankees 6,651,882 (68%) #1 in the New York area
SF Giants 1,866,243 (43%)
Cubs 1,874,234 (39%) #1 in the Chicago area
Detroit Tigers 1,404,184 (33%)
Texas Rangers 1,648,160 (26%)
White Sox 1,117,960 (23%)
Phillies 1,368,839 (23%)
Rockies 579,638 (23%)
Diamondbacks 371,803 (9%)
Mets 711,431 (7%)
Marlins 349,337 (6%)
Nationals 270,473 (5%)
Football (ranked by percentage of population)
Patriots 4,346,695 (95%)
Cowboys 5,896,128 (92%) #1 in the Dallas area
Broncos 2,014,604 (79%) #1 in the Denver area
49ers 2,332,133 (54%) #1 in the San Francisco area
Eagles 2,277,997 (38%) #1 in the Philadelphia area
Bears 3,062,435 (32%)
Giants 2,883,522 (29%)
Dolphins 1,496,534 (27%)
Lions 1,089,921 (25%)
Redskins 1,270,765 (23%) #1 in the Washington area
Cardinals: 667,826 (16%)
Jets 1,568,587 (16%)
Basketball (ranked by percentage of population)
Heat 9,483,777 (170%) #1 n the Miami area
Celtics 7,351,417 (162%) #1 in the Boston area
Nuggets 1,252,113 (49%)
Mavericks 2,756,809 (43%)
Knicks 4,148,183 (42%)
Suns 1,061,293 (25%) #1 in the Phoenix area
Warriors 929,247 (21%)
Pistons 714,206 (17%)
Nets 1,403,669 (15%)
Sixers 539,415 (9%)
Wizards 286,115 (5%)
Red Wings 1,492,132 (34%) #1 in the Detroit area
Bruins 1,516,883 (33%)
Avalanche 460,522 (18%)
Black Hawks 1,568,115 (17%)
Flyers 914,211 (15%)
Sharks 608,476 (14%)
Rangers 1,081,743 (11%)
Capitals 536,195 (10%)
Coyotes 148,657 (4%)
Stars 216,058 (3%)
Panthers 102,193 (2%)
Islanders 142,380 (1%)
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.
The federal government agency I work for created an It Gets Better video.
Since I’ve been writing here for months about what the NFL knew about the potential for head injuries and CTE and when it knew it, I was pleased to see a review of the book, League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions, and the Battle for Truth, in today’s Washington Post. The review is by former NFL Tight end Nate Jackson, who in the first paragraph, explains to readers that he kept the last helmet that he wore in the final game of the season for every year that he played. He looked inside and saw a small, clear sticker behind and underneath the right earhole. In tiny print it reads, “Warning: No Helmet can prevent serious head or neck injuries a player might receive while participating in football….Contact in football may result in concussion-brain injury which no helmet can prevent. Thank God for lawyers trying to help companies avoid liability and law suits!\
Most intriguing is that Jackson’s review supports a good portion of what the book discusses. However, he makes a point that only a former player or a medical therapist might, that the physical pounding, CTE and disabilities that football players suffer is only one part of what a former gridiron star has to accept once his career is over. Jackson wants a significant amount of attention devoted to the loss of identity and sense of purpose that goes when a career comes to an end. He argues that suicide and depression are human problems. That the situation former players find themselves in is very human and about more than the physical effects of the brutal beatings that their bodies and minds take on the field. It’s a fascinating view and a significant argument that warrants attention. With all the money the NFL and the players make selling and playing football, some funding needs to go to education and post-football career development. Still, the reality of the problems that come from playing the game ought not to be diminished and Jackson’s review ends with a statement that encourages his brothers (former players) not to open Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru’s book.
If you grew up in the 1970s, you knew a family member or friends who loved the Cowboys, with Roger Staubach as the quarterback and Tony Dorsett as the key running back. Both were Hall-of-Famers and legends in the NFL. Before that the running back played for the University of Pittsburgh and won the Heisman Trophy in 1976.
The latest report is that Dorsett has the problem that has plagued many veteran football players and some younger football players as well: chronic encephalopathy. Dorsettt figured in among the veteran players who sued the NFL and won the court settlement without the NFL admitting any responsibility to the players for injuries. (One of the principal terms of the settlement is that the agreement “cannot be considered an admission by the NFL of liability, or an admission that plaintiffs’ injuries were caused by football.”)
As noted in a Sports Illustrated article, former NFL players union president Kevin Mawae that Thursday’s concussion litigation settlement was an even-handed resolution to the most contentious and significant issue facing the sport as the NFL’s 2013 regular season looms. Mawae, a retired 16-year NFL veteran and two-term NFLPA president, said only the ex-players in the most dire need of financial and medical assistance truly won a victory with Thursday’s announcement of a $765 million mediated settlement. “I think the league won big on this, because the players settled for a pittance,” Mawae told SI.com, on the phone from his home near Baton Rouge, La. “It’s a relative drop in the bucket. I’m not going to say the players caved, because it would do an injustice to the older men who really need the help now, but at some point in time, the collective body of players, retired and active, have got to be willing to go all the way to the wall with this issue. But the settlement is a setback for players in the long run, Mawae said, because it keeps the NFL from having to release information in court about what it knew in regards to the connection between brain injuries and football, and when it knew it. And that opportunity lost represents a discovery process that can’t have a dollar value placed upon it. “Because in the end, settling it for however much money is a whole lot better for the league than giving up everything they have as far as information and potentially harming the shield for good. There’s too much potential for information that could have done damage to the NFL, and it’s better to just pay it off with $765 million, plus court costs.”
According to the settlement, $675 million of the $765 million would be used to compensate former players and families of deceased players who have suffered cognitive injury, including the families of players who committed suicide after suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Other money will be used for baseline medical exams, the cost of which will be capped at $75 million. The NFL also will fund research and education at a cost of $10 million.
That $10 million is wisely spent. If the league can continue to spend the money for research into the issue then it can claim that the link between football and concussions has not been resolved. In order to continue this research effort, they convinced the family of star linebacker Junior Seau to send his brain for testing to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which the NFL gave $1 million to become the brain research center. But wait, wasn’t there already a research center on brain concussions that the NFL sponsored? Why didn’t they receive Seau’s brain. There was, the Boston University’s Center for the Study of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). The Center notes on its website: recent reports have been published of neuropathologically confirmed CTE in retired professional football players and other athletes who have a history of repetitive brain trauma. This trauma triggers progressive degeneration of the brain tissue, including the build-up of an abnormal protein called tau. These changes in the brain can begin months, years, or even decades after the last brain trauma or end of active athletic involvement. The brain degeneration is associated with memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia. Might be a problem for the NFL. Better stop working with that group and direct football player’s brains to another location. So what will happen to Dorsett?
I’ve been waiting to find the right moment to join in with comments about this insane story. It reflected a warped sense of what is masculinity to me. Another situation where the loud, extrovert overwhelms that introverted intelligent man. Thgen I saw Jason Whitlock’s piece and decided to reprint it here.
Martin walked into twisted world
He confronted an unrelenting, prison yard mentality in the Miami locker room
By Jason Whitlock | ESPN.com
Incognito Considered ‘Honorary Black Man’
Mass incarceration has turned segments of Black America so upside down that a tatted-up, N-word-tossing white goon is more respected and accepted than a soft-spoken, highly intelligent black Stanford graduate.
The Herd with Colin Cowherd
ESPN’s Jason Whitlock weighs in on the racial angle of the Richie Incognito situation, Jonathan Martin’s departure from the Dolphins, Martin’s non-violent approach to the conflict and more.
Welcome to Incarceration Nation, where the mindset of the Miami Dolphins‘ locker room mirrors the mentality of a maximum-security prison yard and where a wide swath of America believes the nonviolent intellectual needs to adopt the tactics of the barbarian.
I don’t blame Jonathan Martin for walking away from the Dolphins and checking himself into a hospital seeking treatment for emotional distress. The cesspool of insanity that apparently is the Miami locker room would test the mental stability of any sane man. Martin, the offspring of Harvard grads, a 24-year-old trained at some of America’s finest academic institutions, is a first-time offender callously thrown into an Attica prison cell with Incognito and Aaron Hernandez‘s BFF Mike Pouncey. Dolphins warden Jeff Ireland and deputy warden Joe Philbin put zero sophisticated thought into what they were doing when they drafted Martin in the second round in 2012.
You don’t put Jonathan Martin in a cell with Incognito and Pouncey. You draft someone else, and let another team take Martin. The Dolphins don’t have the kind of environment to support someone with Martin’s background. It takes intelligence and common sense to connect with and manage Martin. Those attributes appear to be in short supply in Miami.
“Richie is honorary,” a black former Dolphins player told Miami Herald reporter Armando Salguero. “I don’t expect you to understand because you’re not black. But being a black guy, being a brother is more than just about skin color. It’s about how you carry yourself. How you play. Where you come from. What you’ve experienced. A lot of things.”
I’m black. And I totally understand the genesis of this particular brand of stupidity and self-hatred. Mass Incarceration, its bastard child, Hurricane Illegitimacy, and their marketing firm, commercial hip-hop music, have created a culture that perpetrates the idea that authentic blackness is criminal, savage, uneducated and irresponsible. The tenets of white supremacy and bigotry have been injected into popular youth culture. The blackest things a black man can do are loudly spew the N-word publicly and react violently to the slightest sign of disrespect or disagreement.
More from ESPN.com
Is Richie Incognito the problem? Or a scapegoat? NFL Nation polled teams to find out whether players or coaches are more responsible for policing locker rooms. Story
• SportsNation: Give us your take
• First Take: Skip, Stephen A react
It’s time for Jonathan Martin to leave Miami. The Dolphins’ locker room has spoken — and it sided with Richie Incognito, writes James Walker. Story
Yeah, Richie Incognito is an honorary black. And Jonathan Martin is a sellout.
“I don’t have a problem with Richie,” Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace was quoted in Salguero’s story. “I love Richie.”
Yeah, the Dolphins are circling the wagons around Incognito. I get Ryan Tannehill‘s defense of his Pro Bowl left guard. He needs him. He doesn’t believe the Dolphins can protect him or win games without Incognito. There’s a popular belief you can’t consistently win football games without a few “thugs” like Incognito in your locker room. Makes you wonder how Stanford competes with USC, Oregon, UCLA, etc., every year. You wonder how Nebraska and Oregon survived after booting Incognito. You wonder why three NFL teams let him go. Maybe he’s not as essential as the myth-makers would have you believe.
But what makes me want to check into a mental hospital is Miami’s black players’ unconditional love of Incognito and indifference to Martin.
It points to our fundamental lack of knowledge of our own history in this country. We think the fake tough guy, the ex-con turned rhetoric spewer was more courageous than the educated pacifist who won our liberation standing in the streets, absorbing repeated ass-whippings, jail and a white assassin’s bullet. We fell for the okeydoke.
We think Malcolm X was blacker than Martin Luther King Jr.
I’m as guilty as anybody. I’ve read X’s autobiography a half-dozen times. I own Spike Lee’s movie about X and watch it a couple of times a year. I love Malcolm X. But I’m not an idiot. MLK liberated me. MLK blazed the proper path to respect, progress and achievement. Barack Obama stands on MLK’s shoulders. And so does Jonathan Martin.
Richie Incognito is an “honorary” bigot, standing on the shoulders of Gov. George Wallace. The fact that a group of young black men in the Dolphins’ locker room can’t see that speaks to the level of ignorance unleashed by Mass Incarceration, Hurricane Illegitimacy and commercial hip-hop.
Too many young people have grown up. There’s a difference between growing up and being raised. When you grow up, you’re left to figure things out on your own. That’s why we have a generation of young people who can’t recognize the self-hatred and damage of describing yourself as the N-word. They don’t know what they haven’t been taught. Video games, iPads and headphones can’t raise a child. But those technological advances can entertain and empower popular culture to corrupt.
I don’t know Jonathan Martin. He’s biracial. He was apparently smart enough to qualify for entry into Harvard. He’s huge and athletic. He strikes me as someone ripe to struggle with his identity.
The Dolphins tagged him the “Big Weirdo.” The Dolphins held up Richie Incognito as the ultimate role model for offensive linemen. Incognito was a Pro Bowler. He was a member of the six-man leadership council. It makes perfect sense for a kid like Martin to befriend Incognito and try to fit in. I’m sure they were best friends, for a time. I’m sure Incognito offered Martin physical protection on the football field. It’s standard operating procedure for a prison-yard bully to cultivate a relationship that is equal parts fear, love and disrespect. It’s how you turn a guy out and make him grab your belt loop.
Martin was confused. He probably thought the bullying and hazing would pass after his rookie season. He wanted to fit in and make it in the NFL. The paycheck is incredible. He tried to laugh off the abuse and disrespect. He participated in it. He coughed up $15,000 for a trip to Las Vegas he didn’t want to take.
Finally he snapped. He wasn’t raised to be a full-blown idiot. He was raised to think and solve problems with his mind. He was savvy enough to figure out a physical confrontation with Incognito was a no-win situation. It wouldn’t curb Incognito’s behavior or change the culture inside the Miami locker room. It would confirm it. In order to win the fight, Martin would have to physically harm Incognito. It would not be a one-punch or two-punch fight.
Martin walked. If the entry fee to being an NFL offensive lineman is adopting the mindset of Incognito and Pouncey, Martin wisely chose not to pay it. He has a developed brain and a supportive family unit. He’s not desperate. He has options. People with limited options and no family support may not understand or respect his decision. That’s on them and illustrates the vast impact of Mass Incarceration and Hurricane Illegitimacy.
It’s now time for Roger Goodell to render a verdict on wardens Ireland and Philbin and Cell Block D leader Incognito. The world is so upside down that I half expect Goodell to suspend Martin for conduct detrimental to American idiocy.
Went to the opening night of Betrayal:
Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz have caused a stampede to the box office by theatregoers keen to keen to see the husband and wife acting powerhouse in Harold Pinter’s Betrayal.
The show opened on Sunday, in front of a star-studded audience including director Steven Spielberg, musician Bruce Springsteen and US Vogue editor Anna Wintour at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre who were among the lucky ticketholders.
Others I saw included actor Ian McKellen and his husband. Playwright Tony Kushner and his husband, actress Ellen Barkin, actress Patricia Clarkson, actress Candice Bergen, newsperson Chris Matthews, and of course since Mike Nichols was the director, newsperson Diane Sawyer.
But others desperate to see the show have seen theatre lovers pay $2,500 on the black market to see the new adaptation, directed by ten-time Tony Award winner Mike Nichols.
Sadly, one of the NBA’s top scorers and a great coach, Bill Sharman, died yesterday. The shooting guard for the champion Boston Celtics during the 1950s, After leaving the Celtics, Sharman went on to coach pro basketball in the American Basketball League started by Harlem Globetrotters leader, Abe Saperstein. Sharman won a championship in that league before moving on to the ABA. Finally, he became coach of the Celtics old nemesis, the Los Angeles Lakers. The LA Lakers had never won an NBA championship until Sharman guided them to a win over the New York Knicks in 1971-72.
I discuss him in the book, The Bullets, The Wizards and Washington, DC Basketball, because he started his career playing in Washington, DC for the Washington Capitols during 1950-51. If the team had been able to draw crowds to Uline Arena, Sharman might have made his pro career here in Washington.
While the winning is a sign of a champion, the best story I’ve heard about Sharman appears in Earl Lloyd’s biography. Lloyd would be the first African-American player to play in the NBA for the Washington Capitols in 1950. Sharman befriended him and helped him during his time in Washington.