By John Y. Brown III, on Wed Nov 28, 2012 at 12:00 PM ET
The name we dare not speak….because we no longer care.
A few weeks ago, I was in a conversation about who is the greatest running back in NFL history. Names like Gayle Sayers, Walter Payton, and Earl Campbell came to mind as I tried to force away the inevitable name I didn’t want to mention.
And was glad because the conversation then turned to sports heroes.
40 years ago this NFL season, on the last game of the season, a running back named OJ Simpson did the unthinkable. He rushed for over 2000 yards in one season–200 yards in the 14th and final game. I remember watching the entire game at age 9 entranced…watching football history being made. I have never considered any running back to be OJ Simpson’s equal since.
I’ll say it. OJ Simpson was my sports hero then.
He was in 1973–and perhaps still is today–the greatest ever to play the running back position.
But football is just a game. Games are important…I suppose we are all playing a game of some sort or another. Some construct of competition to make us and our world a little better…or maybe just to provide a reprieve, or form of entertainment, to others.
But in life, OJ, I believe, did something even more unthinkable. And sealed his fate and place in history. Not as one of the greatest athletes of our time but one of our most infamous criminals.
When I was 31 I watched the Bronco chase with even greater intensity than the famous 1973 Bills-Jets game. Few individuals who walk among us have risen higher or fallen farther than OJ Simpson. I don’t hate him. I don’t pity him. I don’t miss the old OJ. I’m not disappointed. I’m not even numb to Simpson and his life and legacy. I am oddly indifferent. Probably more as a defense mechanism because someone I admired so much for excellence in one area of his life disappointed so grievously in a much more important area of his life. And I’ll never be able to understand why. And now no longer even care that I won’t.
OJ has has traveled the bizarre trajectory of being the most celebrated athlete to the most hated alleged criminal to the most unspeakable public personality– to perhaps the most famous irrelevant person of our era (a poetically fitting punishment). And no one even knows how to talk about that.
And maybe there’s nothing else to say. But I thought I’d try. It’s glorious in many ways to go from mere mortal to famous society icon. OJ, for a brief time, was like a mythical god among us. It’s hard being famous, too, of course. But not as hard as going from famous icon back to mere mortal. That is a treacherous path, it seems.
Maybe the ultimate story of OJ Simpson isn’t that he failed to reach his potential greatness as an athlete. But rather that he failed so horribly at finding his way back to himself when it was his turn to leave the stage and return to being just an ordinary human being. In his case that treacherous journey appears to literally have killed a lovely young lady and destroyed her family. And figuratively killed OJ Simpson, both as an icon and human being.
As the new Steven Spielberg movie has reignited our national passion for our 16th President, The Recovering Politician today begins featuring a series of posts from one of the nation’s leading experts on the topic: Dr. Matthew Pinsker, a Lincoln scholar, Civil War historian and college professor based at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA (and of course, longtime Friend of RP). For the last five years, Pinsker has personally trained more than 2,500 K-12 educators on Civil War and American history topics, and he has also been directing the House Divided Project, a digital effort designed to help classroom teachers use the latest technologies to promote deeper study of the American Civil War during its 150th anniversary.
Here is his first column, cross-posted with Quora.com, with permission of the author:
It’s a mistake to worry about whether “Lincoln” the movie is historically accurate.
It’s historically inspired and inspiring but by definition any work of art that blends fiction (such as invented dialogue) with fact should never be considered “accurate.”
Spielberg himself acknowledges all this when he describes his movie as a “dream” and as a work of “historical fiction” (see his Dedication Day speech, November 19, 2012 at Gettysburg for a good example).
That doesn’t mean that the movie has no use in the history classroom or for the lifelong history student. “Lincoln” the movie creates an unforgettable historical mood or experience that almost no actual history of the period can match. It truly feels like “writing history with lightning” (Woodrow Wilson on another powerful movie, “Birth of a Nation”).
But accurate history sticks to the evidence and Spielberg and scriptwriter Tony Kushner don’t. When they want to convey the complicated dynamic of the Lincoln household, they take that responsibility seriously and consult several leading historical studies to create a layered account but at the end of the day they simply invent the most compelling scenes such as a bitter bedroom argument between First Husband and wife or a stunning scene where Abraham Lincoln slaps his oldest son (which, by the way, would NEVER have happened).
They also condense, conflate and simplify the politics behind the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, which is the focal point of the movie. Just compare the Spielberg/Kushner interpretation to the best academic account of the subject (“Final Freedom” (2001) by Michael Vorenberg) and you realize how many corners the movie has to cut and nuances it has to ignore.
Professor Matthew Pinsker
Watching the movie, for example, it’s easy to forget that Lincoln was pushing for approval from a lame duck Congress where his numbers were worse than they would be in the newly elected Congress.
Why would he do that?
The movie also struggles to portray the details of the lobbying effort (relying heavily on invention, imagination and more than a little corny comic relief). Yet this movie probably does better on this difficult subject than any other American film.
So, accurate? No. But excellent anyway? Absolutely. In other words, don’t go to this movie (or any historical movie) to learn the facts. Go to imagine the experience and to enjoy the illusion that a great filmmaker can create.
In 2005, after reading yet another inspiring book by Deepak Chopra, I gave myself a birthday present and attended my first Chopra Center weeklong class called, SynchroDestiny.
The title still excites me and I can tell you that it was fantastic. Dr. Deepak is a terrific presenter with a peaceful, engaging presence, and when he signed my book he was warm and present. At our farewell dinner we chatted about a mutual acquaintance and I felt, and do still, that he is swell guy and one of the most influential leaders of mind-body medicine in our modern world today.
It was at this Chopra Center class that I was introduced to meditation for the first time, and it was there that I thought meditation was baloney the first time, the second time, the third, and twice a day for the entire week.
I really did want the promised health benefits of optimum blood pressure, deeper mental and emotional stability, and a state of “restful awareness” that would ensure a stressless existence, but my struggle to sit still in silence seemed to indicate I was wasting my time. I could NOT calm my mind, I could not focus, I could not enjoy it and I certainly did not see a future in meditation for myself.
As you gain experience with meditation, you’ll begin to feel the reappearance of youthful energy and vitality that is being released from the deeper level of the nervous system. This is a very profound change and the real fountain of youth.
Perfect Health: The Complete Mind Body Guide, Deepak Chopra, M. D.
But I persevered along with the other 50 or so attendees because it was part of the deal and because I had paid for the entire Chopra Center experience with my birthday savings. And because I was loving the rest of the SynchroDestiny intensive.
So I returned home and went about life as usual and felt pretty good. For me, there’s nothing like a vacation that includes learning, great food, AND massage. And because I hate to give up before the promised results, I continued to try to meditate daily despite feeling I was getting nowhere.
And then something happened two weeks later, the day my handyman Elvis, worked in my attic.
CRAAAAAAAAASH! I looked up from my computer to see Elvis’s feet dangling through a hole in my second story hallway ceiling as huge pieces of paint and dry wall and ceiling continued to break off to expose his entire lower body.
I should add here that because we have vaulted ceilings from the living-room up, the distance to the closest floor is 40 feet.
Yes, a man was falling and holding on for his life, in my home, no joke. And he was screaming, and kicking his legs around in panic, just the way it looks in movies. The fear was palpable.
But I felt completely and genuinely calm, “Hey Elvis, don’t worry, you’ll be ok—just hoist yourself back up slowly and come on downstairs—I’ll make you some tea.”
What? Who was this strangely calm and reassuring being that had taken over my senses, my spirit, my own vocal chords?
Read the rest of… Lisa Miller: Adventures and Fun with Deepak Chopra & My Handy Man Elvis
UPPER WEST SIDE — Nancy Slotnick has been setting people up in New York City for decades.
But now the longtime Upper West Side resident is bridging the gap between online dating and traditional matchmaking with a new concierge dating service called Matchmaker Cafe.
Slotnick has spent the last year building a database of single people, now 3,000 members strong, who can browse each other’s Facebook profiles before requesting a meeting that Slotnick and her team help orchestrate.
Matchmaker Cafe fights the inertia that Slotnick said usually accompanies online dating, where two people end up talking online for a while but never meet. Her service “cuts to the quick,” she said.
“People have more of a tendency to put [a meeting] off or to stand each other up without the matchmaker,” she said.
Slotnick picks what she calls “hot spots” that lend themselves to easy transitions from coffee to drinks or to a longer meal, or to meeting other singles if the date doesn’t go well. She then meets both parties at the arranged spot and introduces them. The meeting serves to reduce the anxiety and awkwardness of a blind date, she said.
“It adds the hand-holding through the process,” she said.
Matchmaker Cafe has been in beta mode since 2011, but this month Slotnick launched the paid model, in which clients pay $39.99 a month for the ability to request meetings with other members.
Women tend to be more passive on the site, creating a membership for free and then waiting for others to ask about them, Slotnick explained. However, she said that anyone serious about finding love should devote 15 hours a week to the search, which means going out to traditional dating spots like bars, but also becoming open to interactions at places like gyms, grocery stores or even the subway.
“With careers, people don’t have qualms about strategy, but with dating it’s supposed to magically happen,” she said. “You do have to have [finding love] on your radar screen as a goal.”
Behind the scenes, Slotnick makes herself available to customers with advice about how to make it work, an added service that she said distinguishes her model from existing online dating companies.
But, “I don’t believe you can outsource [the work of creating a relationship],” she said.
Slotnick spends part of her time moving around the city scouting new locations for dates. She said she hopes to eventually create partnerships with these dating hubs.
Slotnick once owned one of these hubs herself, when she started Drip Cafe on East 83rd Street and Amsterdam Avenue in 1996 as a place devoted to helping people find relationships. In the pre-internet, pre-online dating era, cafe customers could spend time flipping through binders of hand-written dating profiles, and then Slotnick would help them schedule a date at the cafe. She said that at any one time, 20 to 25 dates were happening at Drip.
During the cafe’s eight-year run, “we made hundreds of marriages,” Slotnick said.
Drip had a liquor license and offered counter service, which Slotnick believes are essential elements for creating the kind of freedom of movement that promotes interaction among guests.
Though Slotnick believes the Upper West Side went through a period when many of the neighborhood’s residents, and Drip’s customers, settled down and started having children, there has been a resurgence of singles in the area lately, she said.
“The Upper West Side is getting single again,” she said, noting the many singles moving to the Lincoln Center area.
One of her favorite places to arrange meetings is the lobby of the Empire Hotel. She said she also sees possibilities at the new restaurant The Smith in Lincoln Square.
Mark’s brother Mike was hired as the head coach of the Arizona Wildcats for the 2004 season. Mike then hired Mark as part of his staff.
On December 11, 2009, Mark Stoops accepted the job to be defensive coordinator at The Florida State University.
The Stoops File Birthdate: July 9, 1967 Hometown:Youngstown, OH High School: Cardinal Mooney College: Iowa Family: wife, Chantel; sons, Will and Zack Coaching Background
• Mark Stoops is in his 23rd season of coaching and his third year as Florida State’s defensive coordinator and secondary coach. Hired by Jimbo Fisher in January of 2010 to replace the venerable Mickey Andrews, Stoops came to FSU from Arizona, where he spent six seasons serving the Wildcats in the same capacity under his brother head coach Mike Stoops. He is also the brother of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops.
• Stoops transformed Florida State’s defense into one of the nation’s best in 2011. FSU allowed its opponents to run for an average of just 2.35 yards per carry, which led the nation. The Seminoles ranked fourth nationally in total defense (275.0), second in rushing defense (82.69), fourth in scoring defense (15.1), eighth in tackles for loss (8.62) and tied for eighth in sacks (3.08 per game). His secondary ranked 20th in pass defense and 25th in pass efficiency defense. The Seminoles led the ACC in eight different defensive categories. Linebacker Nigel Bradham capped off his career leading the Seminoles in tackles for the third straight year – becoming the first Seminole since Marvin Jones to accomplish that feat. He ochestrated a defense that featured one of the deepest defensive line rotations highlighted by defensive ends Brandon Jenkins, Bjoern Werner and Cornellius Carradine who combined for 20.5 sacks, 31 tackles for loss, 14 quarterback hurries and nine pass breakups. The middle of the line featured stout tackles Everett Dawkins, Anthony McCloud and Freshman All-American Timmy Jernigan who combined for 14 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and a remarkable 80 tackles. With nine starters returning in 2012, the Seminole defense again figures to be among the nation’s best.
• Stoops is credited with overhauling the Seminoles’ defense in his first season as Florida State’s defensive coordinator in 2010. The `Noles yielded 19.6 points per game which was third best in the ACC and 20th in the nation. The Seminoles ranked 42nd nationally in total defense after ranking 108th in 2009 and ranked sixth in the ACC in 2010 after ranking last in the league in total defense in 2009. Florida State improved its overall defense by more than 80 total yards per game, mainly by limiting opponents to 75 less rushing yards per game. The Seminoles ranked third in the nation in quarterback sacks and 21st in tackles for loss led by second team All-American Brandon Jenkins who finished with 13.5 sacks (third-most in the ACC and sixth nationally) and 21.5 tackles for loss. FSU tied with Boise State for the national lead with 48 total sacks. In the secondary, he coached Xavier Rhodes to ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year honors and National Defensive Freshman of the Year honors.
• Stoops was instrumental in turning Arizona into one of the finest defensive units in the Pac-10 during his six-year stint. Arizona ranked 25th nationally in total defense in 2009 and was ranked among the top three in the conference in five statistical categories as the Wildcats finished with a second consecutive 8-5 season.
• Stoops built an impressive resume by developing nationally elite units, especially in the secondary. Prior to his six-year run at Arizona, he spent three seasons at the University of Miami as the secondary coach. His 2002 and 2003 units led the nation in pass defense, while the 2001 Hurricanes – which won the national championship – led the nation in pass efficiency defense, scoring defense and turnover margin.
• He spent the 2000 season as co-defensive coordinator at Houston, following a three-year run at Wyoming as the secondary coach. His first full-time college job came in 1996 when he was hired by USF to help with the start-up of the program.
• A proponent of zone schemes, Stoops’ pass defenses have been especially proficient and extraordinary at takeaways. The 2001 Miami team established a single-season school record with 27 interceptions and 45 takeaways. Miami’s 2002 secondary tied an NCAA record by allowing just 9.5 yards per completion. The 2003 Hurricanes were second in total defense and fourth in scoring defense and pass efficiency defense. The 1997 Wyoming secondary contributed significantly to its school-record 24 interceptions.
• Stoops recruited and developed some of the finest defensive backs in the nation over the past decade, many of who have gone on to enjoy outstanding NFL careers. Among the notable are Arizona’s Antoine Cason and Michael Johnson, Miami’s Philip Buchanon, Kelly Jennings, Brandon Merriweather, Ed Reed, Antrel Rolle, Mike Rumph, Sean Taylor, and Wyoming’s Brian Lee.
• Like his brothers, Stoops played collegiately in the secondary at Iowa for Hall of Fame coach Hayden Fry. Fry hired Stoops as a graduate assistant for the 1990 and 1991 seasons. The Hawkeyes won the 1990 Big Ten title and played in the Rose Bowl; duplicating feats Stoops also achieved as a player during a four-year career.
• As a player and a coach, he has taken part in 12 bowls, including his first season at Florida State and both of his final two seasons at Arizona.
• Before launching his collegiate coaching career, Stoops followed in his father’s footsteps as a high school football coach. He spent four years at Ohio’s Nordonia Hills as an assistant and the school’s athletic director.
• Raised in Youngstown, Ohio, Stoops played high school football at Cardinal Mooney.
Stoops’ Coaching Ledger
Read the rest of… Meet Mark Stoops, New University of Kentucky Football Coach
By Lauren Mayer, on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 1:30 PM ET
There will probably never be a shortage of inspiring antics in the political arena, between the fiscal cliff and assorted sex scandals. But for the next few weeks I’ll be tackling the subject of interfaith acceptance, inspired by our host’s No Labels approach to bipartisanship, and illustrating the challenges of being in a religious minority.
Even if you’re not Jewish (or a member of another religion that doesn’t celebrate Christmas), you may be a little bothered by the fact that we’re already surrounded by Christmas decorations, signs and music, plenty of it before Thanksgiving.
So try to put yourself in our shoes – and since it’s probably impossible to imagine being surrounded by tacky Chanukah decor, what about other times you might have felt like you were an isolated minority? Any liberals in red states, or conservatives in blue states, or vegetarians in a family of carnivores? I’ve had a few of those moments, like being the only girl on the math team in jr. high, or being the only actual female pianist in a gay bar (and constantly having to tell the guys that I wasn’t just in underdone drag). That sense of being different gets particularly strong during this time of year.
Please don’t get me wrong – I think Christmas is a beautiful holiday, and as an entertainer I’m extremely grateful for the extra work (as well as the infinitely superior music – I’d hate to do a gig playing 3 hours of Chanukah music!) But just try to remember that not everyone celebrates it, and even a totally secular ‘Merry Christmas’ still is etymologically derived from the religious basis of the holiday, so if you can occasionally wish your jewish friends “Happy Holidays” instead, they’ll appreciate it.
In this spirt of interfaith bipartisanship, I’ve enlisted some friends & relatives to create our own version of those ’80s ‘videos-for-a-cause’, “Don’t They Know (Not Everyone Does Christmas).”
Note: While I am unfortunately not able to use this space to plug my upcoming appearance on The Daily Show (since they haven’t invited me on yet), I can let readers know that the song is from my album, “Latkes Shmatkes – Comedy Songs for Chanukah and Beyond”, available at this link, and on iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby, and Picklehead Music, among others. It’s a great gift for any of your friends who are Jewish, or who will be flattered by receiving something that implies you think they have a good sense of humor!
By John Y. Brown III, on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 12:00 PM ET
This absurdity of holding on to petty resentments.
Last night–and I don’t remember the details—but I had a dream in which a tall gentlemen I seemed to respect but didn’t know well and who was wearing a yellow-ish jacket passed me by on the street and intentionally brushed up against me in that way that seemed to say he was upset with me or sending me a message of disrespect.
That’s all I remember from the dream. The rest of whatever happened has been forgotten–which I think was mostly pleasant.
But twice today I’ve thought about the brush off passerby.
And I’ve decided the next time I have this dream and he shows up–assuming I can remember to do it—I am going to go out of my way to walk past him and brush up lightly against him (not in an offensive way that is trying to start a fight but rather just to let him know that what happened last night in my dream gets acknowledged, was not OK with me, and send the message that I hope it doesn’t happen again.)
On the other hand, I could just forgive him or assume it was an accident. In my dream. And let it go.
I want to let it go but this slight seems different and worth holding on to a little longer. Because, you know, it’s the principle of the thing. Right?
By Zack Adams, RP Staff, on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 10:00 AM ET
Parity has been the name of the game in the 2012 Recovering Politician Bowl. Bandits are making their long-awaited push towards relevancy with 3 wins in a row. On the other hand former league powers Quaker Country and your hero, The Fighting Mongooses, are reeling from 3 losses in a row.
With one game left in the fantasy season and with the top 6 teams at the end of the regular season entering the winner’s playoff bracket it is anyone’s game. Remember that the bottom 6 teams will compete in a loser’s bracket so there will still be a consolation prize to win.
Last night, The RP took on his semi-regular gig as a national political commentator on Wall Street Journal Radio’s The Daily Wrap with Michael Castner.
The RP and Castner celebrated all of the “No Labels” talk this week: Republicans breaking the Grover Norquist “no tax” pledge, both sides talking compromise on the fiscal cliff, references to the Reagan/O’Neill iconic partnership. And they discussed how all Americans should sign on to No Labels’ efforts to continue pressure on Washington policymakers to continue the problem-solving momentum.
By Nancy Slotnick, on Tue Nov 27, 2012 at 8:30 AM ET
“You never don’t know” is what my mother-in-law says when she means “You never know.” It must be said in a Polish accent with the conviction that only a Holocaust survivor could pull off while using a double negative. So by the theory of transitivity, “You never don’t know” equals “You always know.” I’m going with that theory. You always know.
If you can tap into your instincts, and distinguish them from anxiety, you always know. “Is he the One?” You know. “Should I have that opening line?” You know. “Should I write that email to reach out?” You know, but you don’t always listen to your gut. You talk yourself out of it.
Do you expect greatness to come your way or mediocrity? Or disaster? Murphy’s Law is more about Murphy than about a law of nature. I think Murphy attracted bad luck because he’s always expecting bad luck and it feeds on itself. Of course if you want to attract good luck you have to do the work. There’s plenty of good luck out there and it will come your way sooner or later. You just have to be prepared to seize your luck.
Here’s how: Let’s say you’re on a train traveling for the holidays, like I am right now. Let’s say you’re single and you secretly wish that the man of your dreams would sit next to you. You do hold out the hope for good luck. But you also dread the fat lady who talks your ear off or the crying baby that blocks the audio of Gossip Girl Season 2. Even though you’ve already seen it. You are tempted to just put your backpack up on the seat next to you, put on your headphones and go into “Do Not Disturb” mode. If you’re lucky, then the train is not sold out and you will get two seats to yourself. But is that what you really want?
Read the rest of… Nancy Slotnick: You Never Don’t Know