If living within 15 miles of George W Bush and Dick Cheney and Sam Brownback isn't disheartening enough, as if hearing more fools and thugs whine about Mike Vick than know a thing about the Jena Six, here are two stories that truly crushed my faith in America and humanity in general down to wafer-thinness.
1. OJ Book.
HarperCollins was going to have a first run of 400,000 of If I Did It. "Outrage" broke out. But did it? It was a nice ratings boost for any talking head but was the outrage that deep? Didn't matter. Like the corporate weasels warrens publishing houses have become (indeed, all of American commerce has become...but the President says let's NOT regulate private equity firms and hedge funds! Better to keep letting China and India make everything and we'll just move money around...though we do make useless vanity pharmaceuticals and overpriced uselful ones better), HarperCollins fired Judith Regan, the editor. Once a golden girl. Rightly she sued and settled with them.
Now Barnes & Noble will only offer If I Did It, reprinted by Beaufort Books, online. Borders will carry it but "not promote it." Huh? Even I got a little poster and a cut-out. The solution to bad speech is not censorship but education and more speech. Publishing houses print and chain stores sell the most scurrilious, useless, devoid of any artistic merit crap in fiction, as well as drivel in the nonfiction section, out and out lies, self-indulgent celeb treatises--and yet the Juice somehow sullies this august industry? No wonder Judith Regan got paid off handsomely once she was fired. The punchline here: A bankruptcy court awarded rights to the book to Ron Goldman's family . Suddenly, at least from the Goldmans, there's no more "outrage." Fred Goldman once called If I Did It "disgusting and despicable" once the Juice and Regan went around the first time. So what's different now? Well...that's America.
2. The Baltimore Orioles
They lose 30-3. The worst game in either league since Grover Cleveland was president. Not such a shock when you consider how much they sucked this year, and the last, and the one before that...blah blah. No one of substance wants to manage in Baltimore. No marquis players want to come to Baltimore. This was a team even the Yankees feared as recently as 1997-8. A team which grew heroes, rather than buy and sell them. And from 1966 to 1983, you needed God on your side to beat them. The only analogies I can give this are what Rome used to be in 200 AD, the Greek civilization from 400-300 BC and Islam 1000 to 1500 AD., as opposed to Italy and Greece the past 100 years to today and the Muslim world now. My apologies to Italians and Greeks, but Guido and Spiros, please--y'all suck and are a shadow of your former selves. And Omar, Jeez, even with the oil and the propensity for mass murder, you are a joke!
Perhaps it was hubris down the line. A team and city and ownership that got used to a certain system and didn't adapt or got greedy or just tired. The muddle through but still show bright spots and then start to rot. And when there's rot what (or who) comes along but opportunistic germs and viruses and they twist everything to their own advantage and make the rot the norm. Ok, allegory aside yes--Rome, Greece, Islam all had their Peter Angelos, either by trends or indeed embodied in certain leaders. Angelos, like many money people and each town has them, isn't a scumbag any more than you can get angry at a virus or germ or a leech or fungus. They do what they do. Yet like sheep we as fans keep buying tickets, keep pressuring cable stations to carry the games, still grumble in private. That's how the virus takes hold. Apathy. A feeling of powerlessness. Sure it may be too late, but there is always one way other than death to get a body, civilization, a team and a city back. Its called bravery. Bullies, viruses, extremists--they hate it. They will file lawsuits and threaten and cajole...or torture, pillage, burn, fly planes into buildings...but someone who steps up and says "enough" already has half the battle won to take back a heritage.
Cal, even if you have to borrow the money from Bill Gates, please buy the team for this virus.