All eyes on Washington DC this week.
I was down there January 9th for about seven hours to see the Johnnies get creamed by Georgetown. My pal Brent and his family live just a couple blocks from the Capitol. I had planned to spend two full days down there but a cold, snowy blast in NYC on the 7th wrecked almost a whole day’s worth of flights.
I ended up getting a seat to Reagan National out of Cleveland on the day of the hoops game but it cut the visit way short.
Brent’s family is fleeing town for the inauguration (and would have no matter who won). They’re making their place available to an out-of-town friend coming for the women’s march.
DC has always struck me as a larger than life place. It’s heavy to consider all that’s happened there and what’s to come. The physical reminders of national power and history are everywhere. The Washington Monument stares at you on landing at National. When I exited the Capitol South Metro station on the Hill, I thought about the state of the union – such as it is.
The Amtrak train ticket purchased way in advance got me back to NYC after the game. 49 bucks. It’s a three and a half hour ride.
-The solidly dependable clock radio positioned next to my bed for more than 40 years finally went kaput this past week. A few nights ago, I was jolted awake by a loud hum that wouldn’t go away unless I unplugged the radio. It must have blown a tube. When I shook the heavy but compact device, something inside clattered as if unattached or loose. My folks gave me the radio when I was a kid. I listened to it all the time. At bedtime, I set the timer to 59 minutes and let the voice on the airwaves put me to sleep. The same unit would wake me the next morning with a piercing, high-pitched sound you couldn’t ignore despite its familiarity. The radio followed me to college and all the stops that came after. It put me to sleep and woke me up consistently for all but the first decade of my life. It was made by General Electric. It’s finally dead. I’ve been looking for a replacement pretty obsessively since the moment I conceded the unit’s death. There’s not much out there that’s quite like it. As much as technology has advanced since the mid 1970’s, I don’t have confidence I’ll find a suitable, long-lasting replacement for this cherished bedside item.
-My tirelessly progressive and effective city councilman Danny Dromm is currently on the receiving end of a disgraceful smear campaign by the powerful union that represents correction officers in NYC. As a proud union member myself, I’m embarrassed by the conduct of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association as it attempts to unseat Dromm because he advocates the eventual and orderly shutdown of Rikers Island. While job security is a noble and common goal for organized labor, the COBA has gone way below the belt with mailers to Dromm’s constituents saying the councilman “wants to bring criminals to our neighborhood.” The ridiculous assertion is motivated purely to maintain jobs at a facility that is horribly overcrowded, outdated and inhumane. Led by the current mayor – and motivated by a stirring long-form piece of journalism from Jen Gonnerman – Dromm has joined a chorus of progressives who oppose mass incarceration of mostly poor, minority men who get caged for long periods awaiting trial for offenses that fail to meet basic thresholds of badness or felonious-type conduct. It’s a long ways off but Dromm has engaged in thoughtful reflection on how to fix the Rikers mess. The rank and file at Rikers know better than anybody that it’s a failing institution. If they’re aware their union dues are being channeled into propaganda aimed at defaming a good man, their brotherhood is more like the gangs inside Rikers than a labor organization aimed at advancing the welfare of workers.
-The violent but legal blind-side hit on Aaron Rodgers by blitzing Cowboys safety Jeff Heath with 20 seconds remaining in Sunday’s divisional playoff thriller would render most humans a heap of senseless nothing on the floor. Somehow, Rodgers sprung up and immediately called timeout. Two plays later, he threw against his body’s momentum, a 40-yard laser to Jared Cook which set up the long game-winning kick by Mason Crosby. Few quarterbacks would have held onto the football after getting sledge-hammered where spinal cord meets the brain like Rodgers did. Mike Francesa said Monday that 98 of 100 quarterbacks would have coughed it up on that play. I agree. It was an amazing display of toughness, recovery and raw talent in a huge spot. I’d also agree with Francesa that the time has come to eliminate the last-second freeze-the-kicker timeout. “It ruins the moment,” says Mike. Nobody watching on TV knew Crosby’s first of two successful attempts to end the game was a non-play until after it went through the uprights. Waiting until the last possible moment has become an off-frame move between coach and game official. Francesa proposes a rule change that would require freeze-the-kicker timeouts to be called with no less than 10 seconds to go on the play clock.