Tale of Cranes, Wolf-Dogs and the Rescue Community

The new documentary The Wound and The Gift is an  excellent depiction of the relationship between man and animals. Using an old Japanese folk story as a framing device, the movie reveals how some people have made attempts to treat members of the animal kingdom with the respect that they deserve.

The movie focuses specifically on what it sees as the major transformation in our relationship with animals through the growing “Rescue” movement. All over the world, people are saving the lives of animals that were bred for profit, abused, or sold on the black market.

By showing people who care for a wide variety of animals, from wolf-dogs to thoroughbred horses, to a Colorado sanctuary for everything from lions to bears, the movie raises questions about how humans live in the world without being preachy or didactic.

Homes for Cats

I attended the Washington Humane Society event Architects for Animals last night at the American Institute of Architecture on New York Avenue in DC last night and had a great time. All the food was tasty and vegetarian!

Architects volunteered their time and effort to design homes for feral cat communities that exist throughout the city. The designs were really all great. Very inventive and lots of fun. Two evoked Mondrian themes, one looked like a grass or cat nip plant, others provided soft cushions for the cats to lay on.

The top three designs were voted on by all the attendees. I’ll list the firm and put a photo of the design next to them: top design went to PGN Architects, PLLCwinning_design

 

 

first runner up is Martinez+Johnson Architecture PC,

first_runnerup

 

second runner up is Suzane Reatig Architecture

second_runnerup

Washington Theater Year: 2014

The top critic for the Washington Post compiled a list of the top plays and musicals of the 2014 year in the city. Happy to say that I saw half of the shows and one more when it appeared on Broadway. I agree with most of the choices, although I thought choice seven was a good character study that didn’t really get me thinking or generate any emotional response. The top choice wen to Broadway and didn’t draw enough audiences to keep running. Tribes was an incredible show that offered much, as did Bad Jews.

 

1. “Side Show,” Kennedy Center. Forever ahead of its time, this heartbreaking musical about conjoined twins turned vaudeville stars, nurtured in a splendid revival by director Bill Condon, was a succes d’estime, but both in D.C. and on Broadway after that, a disappointing box-office performer.

2. “Tribes,” Studio Theatre. Nina Raine’s play detailing the mixed and missed signals in an intellectual London family brilliantly intermingled the perspectives of deaf and hearing characters.

3. “Sunday in the Park with George,” Signature Theatre. The Pulitzer-winning musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine remains a profound statement about the art of making art, as director Matthew Gardiner’s smashing revival demonstrated.

4. “Bad Jews,” Studio Theatre. The funniest play of the year, set on a night of operatically pitched family battles, courtesy of a playwright, Joshua Harmon, we’re bound to hear more from.

5. “The Admission,” Theater J. A searing drama by Israeli playwright Motti Lerner that inflamed passions about the Middle East and, in the resulting political firestorm, likely contributed to the firing by the DC Jewish Community Center of the company’s artistic director, Ari Roth. (Honorable mention: the inspired Tovah Feldshuh in Theater J’s companion one-woman show, “Golda’s Balcony.”)

6. “Sleeping Beauty: A Puppet Ballet,” Pointless Theatre. This small-budget and enjoyably big hearted staging of the Tchaikovsky ballet with both puppets and actors established this resourceful troupe as Washington’s most promising young company.

7. “The Wolfe Twins,” Studio. Artistic director David Muse commissioned of Rachel Bonds this surprising and sharply drawn study of an American brother and sister (the wonderful Tom Story and Birgit Huppuch) having a devastating falling-out in Rome.

8. “Colossal,” Olney Theatre Center. Playwright Andrew Hinderaker and director Will Davis found parallels in the physicality of football and ballet, creating in the process an exhilarating dance-drama about a player dealing with a catastrophic sports injury.

9. “Sex with Strangers,” Signature. Laura Eason’s entertaining tale of boy writer-meets-girl-writer felt like a camera-ready romantic comedy, with expert help from director Aaron Posner and actors Holly Twyford and Luigi Sottile.

10. “The Two Gentlemen of Verona,” Folger Theater. The clever folks from visiting Fiasco Theater showed how excitingly newly minted Shakespeare can feel, when presented on a refreshingly intimate scale, with close and revealing attention to text.

Documentary on Knicks of the 1970s

After reading the Sports Documentary/Sports History issue of the Journal of Sports History (Summer 2014)  I watched Michael Rapaport’s contribution to ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, “When the Garden Was Eden.” The documentary intended to show how important the New York Knicks teams of the early 1970s were to the NBA and that they represented an oasis in the tumultuous era, where people from different backgrounds came together and played as a team. As a professional basketball historian and fan I wondered about accuracy of its main argument but also how it fit with the sports documentary analysis I’d read.

As part of ESPN’s series, this documentary fits into the company’s model that Travis Vogan describes (“Institutionalizing and Industrializing Sport History,” 197). While the actor does not provide the cache that some of the earlier film makers in the series did, he brought the enthusiasm of a Knicks fan to his project and the style of the series provides the makers with cinematic signifiers that Joshua Malitsky discussed in his article, (“Knowing Sports,”  206).

The documentary proved to have a few minor inconsistencies and errors.  “Garden was Eden” began by presenting the National Basketball Association as second to college basketball in New York City and as a “minor” professional sports league compared to professional baseball and football through the 1960s. One example mentioned is that the players received such small salaries to its players that they had to take jobs during the off-season  (When the Garden Was Eden, 5-6 minute mark). Interestingly, while the comparison is made among the sports league, there is no investigation of how much players earned in baseball and football. In both of these sports, as well as hockey, players found themselves in the same position of having to work second jobs. Basketball had two centers that earned significant salaries, Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain, each earned around $100,000 annually. Walt Bellamy, the Baltimore Bullets’ center, earned $30,000 before becoming unhappy with contract negotiations with the team. Baltimore traded Bellamy to the Knicks, and his salary with them undercuts Reed’s comment here that none of his Knicks teammates earned more than $22,000. (The Bullets, The Wizards and Washington, DC, 78)

As part of the discussion about the insignificance of the NBA prior to the emergence of these Knicks, the film mentions that the league sometimes had its playoff finals shown on tape delay (When the Garden Was Eden, 6-7 minute mark). As Mario R Sarmento showed in his work, “The NBA on Network Television: A Historical Analysis,” the league had gained ground on television during the 1960s through the skillful directing of Roone Arledge. Ratings crept up and the NBA received increased revenue for its product. The tape delayed finals were not resolved by the development of a championship team in New York, as the film leads us to believe. The tape delay showing of the NBA Finals occurred during the late 1970s, when the broadcasts of all NBA games suffered severe ratings declines (Sarmento, 48-50).

More than the aforementioned inaccuracies, an omission proved a very important to making the point about the uniqueness of the Knicks. While painting the Knicks as a multi-racial team with a variety of individual personalities, the documentary failed to discuss the composition of any of other NBA teams. Wouldn’t Boston’s Celtics, Los Angeles’ Lakers, or Washington’s Bullets, also provide this same cohesion of different individuals into a winning team? I would argue that each team met this standard as well.

The style of its presentation aided immensely in making “Garden was Eden,” appear persuasive. The documentary adopted most of the claims that Malitsky described as assertions that contemporary documentaries make about sport. Rapaport’s film certainly used sports as visually spectacular, as individual expression and as already narrativized.  However, it interplayed these three in an ingenious way that enabled them to reinforce one another and give more power to the argument the documentary advanced.  During a twelve-minute stretch, the director took people from a black-and-white image of a down New York City, through colorful individualized introductions to each of the new Knick players, as they joined the team. This individual introduction of the biographies and special talents of these players included visually spectacular footage that depicted these youthful players as heroes were typically presented in many a Hollywood narrative movie.  After more context about the disruption era with Civil Rights and Vietnam War protests, the montage ended with a photograph of all the players on the team seated in rows, presenting the  documentary’s argument that these people of diverse backgrounds came together as a team. “Garden was Eden” also touched on sport’s connection with Capital but was neither critical or accepting sport as a business like any other. The movie celebrated the Knicks as significant to lifting up the fortunes of a struggling league, drawing celebrities (31 minute mark) giving it cache in the advertizing world and in magazines and books (52-55 minute mark). Interestingly, the documentary missed one opportunity to further this point when it presented the trade of Earl Monroe to New York. “The Pearl” wanted to leave Baltimore for a few reasons, a major one being a lack of advertising and business opportunities that could be had if he played with the Knicks.(59-62 minute mark, The Bullets, chapter 6).

popular-teams-harris-poll-and-the-big-4-sports

I recently completed my first article on the blog of Sports in American History, a group blog with other academics who are interested in Sports History. I’m researching right now on fans in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Detroit and Chicago. This article comes out of a discussion with the people who conduct the Harris Poll.

 

http://ussporthistory.wordpress.com/2014/10/16/popular-teams-harris-poll-and-the-big-4-sports/

Literary Festival

Washington, DC is having another festival bringing area writers together with their audiences. I’m one of the non-fiction crew and there are some well known fiction authors in the group including George Pelecanos. I’ve been to the Capitol Hill Literary Festival inside the Eastern Market shopping area and had a wonderful time. It’s fun to meet with other authors and talk with people who have interests in all kinds of topics and books.

I’m talking about what history can show us about the modern city we live in.DC Author Festival Day of Show Schedule

The DC Author Festival is an all day celebration of the thriving literary community of the District.  Enjoy readings, writing workshops, and local author and publisher vendor booths.

Featuring

A conversation between author George Pelecanos and journalist Neely Tucker

ASL Author Talk with Gina Oliva and Linda Lytle authors of Turning the Tide.

With special readings by

Warren Brown
CakeLove owner, former Food Network’s Sugar Rush host and author of four cookbooks

Kelly Rand
Former Arts Editor for DCist, crafter and author of Handmade to Sell

Carolivia Herron
Author of the award-winning Nappy Hair and Always an Olivia

Tom Doyle
Fantasy and Science Fiction writer and author of American Craftsmen

With Additional Readings From

Brett L. Abrams * Jonetta Rose Barras * Dorothy Bendel * Jeffrey Blount * Simeon & Carol Booker * Mike Canning * Christopher Datta * Courtney Davis * Dorris Dutch * Beverly East * Christopher Edelson * Craig Gidney * Beverly and Anthony John Green * Cheryl Head * Norwood Holland * Aiyaz Husain * Ida E. Jones * Carolyn Morrow-Long * P.S. Perkins * Elisavietta Richie * Canden Schwantes * Janet Sims-Woods *  Karin Tanabe * Reach Inc. Teen Authors * Linda Chrichlow White * Liliane Willens * and more!

DC Author Festival Day of Show Schedule

Rare World Series Footage

The Library of Congress found a reel of rare newsreels and they turned out to be in great condition. I work as an electronic records archivist for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA for short). We find computer tapes of old reels a lot of times but since they are usually numbers and text that  have meaning only when you know what the column that the number appears in means, it is simply a series of numbers. The values without any explanation they are virtually worthless. It’s just strings of numbers like this:

 

112891238347341204365423056345623456034

4237189465906234902562346254905063490

9721374123489561403265345234065342475-31

415430652346651406504569236504165690463

 

But old movies that’s a different story:

Here’s a film of the 1924 World Series between the Washington Senators and the New York Giants, the forerunners to the current San Francisco Giants. It’s game 7 at Griffith Stadium on 7th St and Florida Avenue, NW in the US Capital! This is the only time a Washington team won the World Series.

The silent film uses subtitles to explain what the image will then show.

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dc-sports-bog/wp/2014/10/02/watch-rare-footage-of-the-senators-beating-the-giants-in-the-1924-world-series/

Faith in Politics

No this is not a post on the role of religion in US politics. My faith has diminished over the years as candidates who represent a liberal consensus dominate the Democrats and the Republicans are beyond the pale when it comes to paying a fair percentage of ones incomes to help the greater society. They watch as roads buckle, bridges crumble and seem to rejoice over money exploding in bombs all around the world.

The Democrats consensus centers on accepting globalization’s cost in terms of jobs, wages and people’s psyches. They are linked to the financial interests and seem to believe that that industry should be a big driver of the economy. They use the term middle class and help the poor, but seem incapable of effectively articulating the many significant reasons why these groups of people need a fair income, let alone devise a strong program that would help accomplish the goal of putting more money in these peoples’ pockets.

Much to my surprise yesterday, the Washington Post ran an article on a possible campaign by former Senator Jim Webb. When I read this paragraph in a recent speech that he gave, I felt a glimmer of real hope.

“It’s rare when the economy crashes at the same time we are at war,” he said. “The centrifugal forces of social cohesion are spinning so out of control that the people at the very top exist in a distant outer orbit, completely separated in their homes, schools and associations from those of us who are even in the middle.”

What I’d ask of Webb is to lay out the consequences of having a situation that he describes where the wealthy are in another orbit. I’d argue among the results are domination of the political players which has led to a stagnant political environment, ability to frame arguments such as corporations should exist to benefit their share holders, which translates to the wealthy few accumulate great gains while monies that used to be allocated to research and development, the creation of new products and jobs goes by the wayside. All that made worse by trade policies that benefit the wealthy and the corporations and hurt the workers as they cut jobs and wages.

Another article makes some of the realities of the economic recovery clear:

Part of this mystery isn’t one at all: the economy simply isn’t as healthy as the headline numbers suggest. Unemployment has fallen, in part, because so many people have given up looking for work rather than finding it, and there are still millions of part-timers who want full-time jobs.

But then there are deeper factors at work. The economy has gotten bigger, but much of that growth hasn’t reached the middle class. Indeed, the top 1 percent grabbed 95 percent of all the gains during the recovery’s first three years. And that’s not even the most depressing part. Even adjusted for household size, real median incomes haven’t increased at all since 1999. That’s right: the middle class hasn’t gotten a raise in 15 years.

But one of the biggest, and least appreciated reasons Democrats might be struggling, is that the middle class is poorer, too. Median net worth is actually lower, adjusted for inflation, than it was in 1989. Even worse, it’s kept falling during the recovery.

Yes, even after the economy started to grow again, and the stock market started to boom, and housing prices began to bounce back, the median net worth of the average American household continued to decline.

I’m interested in seeing what is to come.

Tough Being A Fan

Although athletes have to play the sport, putting their physical and mental prowess on the line, fans have it tougher. All I fan can do is watch, helplessly. It can be grinding on a person and fandom has been known to set some people off to do stupid, sometimes criminal, things.

At the US Open, I felt that agony. Am a big fan of Novak Djokovic, and from what I see, I believe that I like him as a person as much as an athlete. But today’s loss disrupted my support. If the sport were boxing, my first question would be who bet on his opponent. The play stunk and the commentators on television provided little insight. They praised Kei Nishikori, and that was appropriate some of the time, but often Novak hit shots that Kei could make into winners.

iI don’t want the commentators to drag a player through the mud but they could have stated the honest truth, Djokovic played inconsistently. My main question would be, how could Djokovic dominate a set like he did in the second set, then not exploit that in the next set?

Yes, Djokovic said, “He was not himself today,” and that happens sometimes. I still wonder where his fight was, particularly after watching Roger Federer come back from two sets down to win two night ago. I also can understand when someone says that the sport will not be their main focus in life. That is a nice position to be in, as most people don’t care for their work and only work so that they can afford to live. Yet when it comes to winning one of the top tournaments in your sport, a fan expects the player to leave it all out on the court/field, and if a fan questions that, that disrupts the feeling of fan support.

Water Draws A Crowd

Some people know how tho throw an event and draw a crowd. The Potomac Yards folks did that yesterday. Splash Yards, with a water slide, inflatable balls to roll inside and a surf board to ride the wave, drew hundreds into a parking lot. With drinks and tubs for soaking or getting water to toss on people, the event was a great success.

This was a great way to bring men and women in their 20s and 3os into the neighborhood to see the environment and maybe become interested in renting or buying a condo or apartment.

The event started at 2 and the line was around the block. Fortunately, if you didn’t want to drink, you could walk right in and not wait long in the line. Like an amusement park, there were lines to get on any of the rides. Still, we rode the plastic slide several times and the quick steep drop made it a blast.

big_double_water_slide

 

The surf board proved a bit of a challenge but was good fun.

surf

The organizers were less successful with the inflatable balls; or what someone on line called, hamster balls. The line hardly moved and after 45 minutes of waiting we gave up on it. This was a big disappointment!

hamster_balls

 

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