Quotable Quotes

“I’m a legend in this sport. If you don’t believe me, ask me.”

Raymond Louis “Bobby The Brain” Heenan, professional wrestler and manager, 1944-2017


Flashback: “Intermezzo” by Pietro Mascagni

Without looking, I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve had a piece of classical music on the Flashback series.

It was announced Wednesday that Jake LaMotta, the former middleweight boxing champ, had passed away at the age of 95. His life was turned into one of the best sports movies all time for my money, Raging Bull, which premiered in 1980. It brilliantly portrayed the good and bad about prizefighting and LaMotta at the time, and how the Mafia had an influence on the fight game on the East Coast, even telling fighters to stage outcomes of their battles and take dives. No issue was taboo, and the movie didn’t pull any punches about LaMotta’s phobias and paranoia.

Rest in peace, champ. Here’s hoping you don’t go down for anyone in the hereafter as was the case in real life.

Aircheck: Goodfellas, 1990

With the passing of Frank Vincent on Thursday, I thought I’d do something just a bit different on this week’s Aircheck and show you one of the best scenes I think I’ve ever seen in the movies.

In the scene from Goodfellas, Vincent plays Billy Batts, a mobster from the Gambino crime family who’s returned to society from prison. Batts keeps needling Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci’s character) about how he shined shoes as a kid, much to Tommy’s embarrassment. Well, you’ll see how the scene plays out. Personally, I can’t think of a worse fate than getting beaten to death. (Or so we think. Batts was actually beaten into unconsciousness. When Batts regains consciousness and starts beating against the trunk of the car, then DeVito and his buddies kill him.)

DeVito is of course whacked himself later in the movie, because he violates a clear cut mob rule: a made man killing other made men isn’t usually permitted without the sanction of a capo or someone higher up in the chain of command. Violating that rule put the perpetrator at risk for his own death, which was exactly what wound up happening.

RIP, Frank. His book is on my Amazon Wish List, so I’ll have to get around to that in his honor.

August 30, 1997

The people in my life, past and present, keep telling me I have a good memory. I guess that it’s true, but that can be a curse sometimes. One such of a day was twenty years ago this day, August 30, 1997.

I was watching college football games, as it was the first day of the season that would stretch into the first days of 1998, with a senior from Tennessee named Peyton Manning being the talk of the collegiate pigskin world. I had gotten what they call these days a desktop computer the Christmas before, and spent evenings reading online watching the various ball games, occasionally sipping on some beer as the nights wore on that year.

Before 10pm that evening, I had seen a piece of breaking news on America Online, and immediately went searching for my remote to change the channel. (I’m not sure it was the first piece of breaking news I’d ever seen on the computer and not TV, but it was one of the first.) Princess Diana had been seriously injured in automobile accident in Paris. Our cable system had the relatively new MSNBC and the more established CNN on it, but not Fox News as of yet, as it was less than a year old at that point in time.

The news outlets were saying her condition was serious, but not critical. I had remembered that when the prime minister of Israel (Yitzhak Rabin) had been assassinated a couple of years prior, that they used the term serious as they use critical here, so I knew to stay tuned and not dismiss the lack of alarm the news stations were giving off. Just after 11:30 our time that Saturday night, the tragic news came. Princess Diana had been killed.

The rest of the week was a blur, the first week of the NFL season and the Labor Day weekend – I couldn’t tell you who the Bucs played to start their season and whether or not they won without looking it up. (For the record, the Bucs beat the 49ers 13-6 in a game that would signal a turn-around in the franchise that culminated in a Super Bowl win in early 2003.)

Diana was eulogized and buried September 6th, which was my 26th birthday, definitely the most somber such day in my life. Though I hate watching funerals, I got up early and watched Diana’s farewell that morning, which was all over network TV despite the earliness of the hour.

I’ve never been a big opera buff, but when Lynne Dawson let loose with that “Verdi Requiem” midway through the service, holy mackerel, it was the perfect piece of music to express the grief of the world at that moment. I have to admit my eyes got a bit moist, which I guess is the whole point of funerals. Elton John reworked “Candle In The Wind” into a song that perfectly eulogized the Princess, which got my water works going again.

I’m Irish-American. My mother often tells me about my grandfather being arrested as a boy in the early 20th century waving the Irish flag in Ireland by the British who occupied the country at the time. It’s not like I hate everything that’s British, though the Royal Family comes off a bit stuffy and cold to me at times. That being said, it was hard not to see that a nation was in shock, mourning, and looking for answers.

Diana gave off the impression that she was the “cool kid” in that family, a breath of fresh air in a very stale group of people in an outdated monarchy. The public will always wonder if Diana’s death in Paris was the accident the press said it was, caused by the paparazzi, or if something far more sinister was at work.

All in all, a sad time for the world. Princes Harry and William lost their mother way too soon, and their mother would be very pleased in the men they’ve become.

Aircheck: “Speaking Of Everything”, 3/13/1988

I’d really be remiss if I didn’t mention the passing of comedian Jerry Lewis last week at the age of 91. You see, I was born in Largo, Florida on the morning of September 6, 1971, which that year Labor Day. On TV that morning on one of the Tampa Bay area stations was the 1971 Labor Day telethon out of New York. Yes, I looked it up the local TV listings in the St. Pete Times archives one day. Hey, the Google can be a wonderful thing more often than not.

The telethon was its own brand of Jerry’s schmaltz on display for most of the 21 1/2 hours or so they’d occupy on Labor Day, beginning with the previous night. It did bring an iconic moment in 1976 when Lewis had a surprise guest in his former comedic partner of a generation past, Dean Martin. But most years, the telethon consisted of the story line of a chase: for MDA to raise a buck more than they did the year before. Unlike Captain Ahab in Moby Dick, Jerry was often successful, barring a bad economy, or a hurricane hitting or threatening a major area in the United States.

Thirty nine years later, it was another day where September 6th was a Labor Day Monday. I just had a feeling about seeing Jerry on TV the night before when the telethon started that this particular showing in 2010 was going to be his last one, and I made a donation. Not a big one, but what can I say? I had to respect someone who did good work as I came into the world. My hunch turned out to be a premonition, as he was replaced before the next Labor Day came around. The Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon went on a few more years, but without Lewis there it just wasn’t and couldn’t be the same.

This video is from Howard Cosell’s short lived syndicated talk program, Speaking of Everything, which was also the name of Howard’s weekend radio show of days gone by where he spoke of things beyond the sports world. If you’ve ever wondered if Howard and Jerry talked to each other, here’s some documentation of that.

Have a good weekend, everybody.


Charlottesville’s Web

Saturday afternoon, I turned the TV on, and I thought I had been transported to 1968 with what I was seeing. Protesters were clashing with each other in a near riot, if not one. A little later, one of the "Antifa" protesters was run over and killed by a rival who drove his car into a crowd.

I certainly don't think all of this is funny. Kind of pathetic all the way around if you ask me. The white nationalists crowd seemed to forget the Civil War ended over a century and a half ago, and I will never be a supporter of anything promoting so-called "white power" or anything pro-Nazi.

It's a lot easier just letting people live and let live.

That being said, I think the social justice warriors could be a bit smarter picking their fights. Why acknowledge the presence of that scum when you SJW's could have ignored it and rised above it? Plus, the media hyped things out of proportion, making such incidents an inevitable moment once it all began two days ago.

Hopefully, we've seen the last of these types of clashes. This one was rather disgraceful, and a reminder that there's a lot of hate out there to go around, even in 2017. I hope this isn't the start of something, I truly do.