Archive for August, 2007|Monthly archive page

The healing power of football

In Sports on August 31, 2007 at 6:48 pm

Since when did football become a balm for damaged communities? First, we had the hand-wringing over when it would be OK to resume football after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Then Katrina ruined thousands of lives, and the Saints returning to New Orleans a year later was puffed up into a healing ceremony by the TV sports druids. (New Orleans is still a festering, necrotic ulcer — football don’t rebuild no houses. Neither do the guv’mint or the insurance companies, evidently.)

Now it’s Virginia Tech’s turn.

After the tragic shooting on campus April 16 that left 33 people dead, many students and members of the Blacksburg community looked toward the Hokies’ first game as another milestone in helping the school return to a sense of normalcy.

“I do believe that this school will come back tighter, stronger, more together, more caring, more respectful of each other than ever before,” Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. “And there’s probably not a greater place to show it than in a stadium where, if you’re there – the alumni, the students, the fans, whatever – you’re all going in the same direction.

“People just want something to rally around.”

Don’t get me wrong. I have great sympathy for the grieving people of the Gulf Coast and Blacksburg, Va. And I love me some football. (I’ve had NFL preseason games on in the background quite a bit and am stoked that college ball’s started.) But football is entertainment. It doesn’t solve our problems. It doesn’t pay our bills. It doesn’t mend a broken heart.

Sports are a welcome diversion and, sure, there’s an emotional component and a sense of community among fans of a particular team. And that’s plenty. Why make them out to have more power than they do?

Fear and loathing on the campaign trail, 2007

In Politics, Unfettered stupidity on August 31, 2007 at 2:12 am

Meanwhile, here’s a story you may have missed. It reads like a straight-laced, AP version of a chapter of one of Hunter S. Thompson’s books. One can imagine how he’d write it up:

Associated Press

BOSTON — Former Sen. Max Cleland has suspended his chief of staff after the man allegedly crashed a fundraiser on Martha’s Vineyard for presidential candidate John Edwards, then broke into a nearby Coast Guard station.

Michael Duga Jr., 31, of Coral Springs, Fla., was released on $2,500 bail after pleading not guilty Monday in Edgartown District Court to charges including marijuana possession and breaking into the Menemsha Coast Guard Station.

Background check?

Duga has an “extensive criminal history” in Florida, including carjacking and drug possession and dealing, according to a police report from the Chilmark police department on Martha’s Vineyard. Cleland, a Democrat from Georgia, said Wednesday that he put Duga on unpaid leave the day before and wasn’t
aware of Duga’s criminal record.

“I trusted him and he had a clean record, as far as I knew,” Cleland said. “But now some things are coming out.”

Reached Wednesday, Duga said, “I have the utmost respect for Senator Cleland and will continue to do so throughout his life.”

What the hell was he up to?

According to the police report, Duga was dropped off Friday at a fundraiser for
Edwards — a former U.S. senator from North Carolina — at the Chilmark home of Alex MacDonald. Duga told Chilmark police officer Blaze Montelo, who was working a traffic detail, that he was working with Edwards’ campaign committee. He showed a photo and card indicating he was Cleland’s chief
of staff. Duga worked a front table where people bought tickets for the fundraiser.

On Saturday morning, police were dispatched to the Menemsha Coast Guard Station, where they found Duga, whom the Coast Guard said entered the building without permission. Police said they later found marijuana in the
SUV Duga was using.

Embarrassment of riches

In Politics, Unfettered stupidity on August 31, 2007 at 2:09 am

Here lately, I’ve had more juicy gobbets than I can shake a stick at come across the wires. Hell, I couldn’t even get around to The Nuge losing what’s left of his right wing marbles. Blame it on Sen. Larry Craig, Owen Wilson and Miss Teen South Carolina.