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Category Archives: Robin’s Rambling Rumblings

As I have stated on this blog previously, we as a nation or a planet for that matter are diminished when we lose one of the people that are absolutely one of the best in the world at  their vocation. Sadly we are weakened today by the passing of the actor,producer,activist,philanthropist and race car driver Paul Newman at age 83. 

Paul is best known for his acting, and rightfully so, but do not underestimate his commitment to his country in many ways. Those of you under 20 think of him as the guy who sells the microwave popcorn, salsa, and other munchable foods, many of you may not know that all of the proceeds from his products were donated to charities.
He was also an activist for what we label today as liberal causes, he was a major antagonist to America’s beloved master of trickle down economics,and less distinguished former actor and former President Ronald Reagan. Based on todays economic woes it is safe to say which actor was wrong on economics and which one was not.

But I am here today to talk about my personal recommendations of his best films by picking one from each decade. These choices are mine, they are clearly subjective and I know I am leaving out people’s favorites, That is why I leave comments open, so that hopefully you can share yours.

Paul’s first role was a television show called “Tales of tomorrow” from 1952. His last appearances were as voice actor in the two “Cars” animated movies in 2006.

I now submit my choices-

1950s- Cat On A Hot Tin Roof from 1958

1960s-The Hustler from 1961

1970s-The Sting from 1973

1980s-The Verdict from 1982

1990s-The Hudsucker Proxy  from 1994

2000s-Road to Perdition from 2002

As I said above I am leaving off dozens of other excellent movies, but that  is for you to comment on.

I will end this article with a personal story of Paul Newman and my Dad. Paul lived in Westport, Connecticut for most of his life, He was a neighbor of one of my Dad’s best Friends Will Lerner, and met my Dad on a few occasions along the way. In my Dad’s later years he was a limousine driver and made a few movies as a bit actor for the great director of Silence Of The Lambs and other movies, Jonathan Demme. During one of his limo jobs a studio hired his company to drive Paul back to Westport and my Dad as the driver, needless to say they knew each other immediately and it was a pleasant experience. Many of you may know that Paul loved to race cars, well- as my Dad and Paul arrived in Connecticut, Paul asked my father to pull over on the Connecticut turnpike and then asked him to slide over because HE wanted to drive. As my Dad later told me Paul revved up the Lincoln and 100 mph was the average speed the rest of way to his Westport home.

Goodbye Paul, Rest in peace, and I wish warm prayers to Joanne Woodward and the rest of his family.

I have been a baseball fan since I was eight years old. The first game I ever saw in person was at Yankee Stadium in the summer of 1959. I saw the Yankees play a scheduled doubleheader against the Kansas City Athletics, Yes!  I said KANSAS CITY Athletics. And yes I said scheduled doubleheader, does anyone under thirty remember scheduled doubleheaders? or for that matter K.C. Athletics?  I also remember that Mickey Mantle hit a home run that day, and what I remember as well was my friend’s Dad taking us home after the first game on the 4 train back to Brooklyn, I walked in the door and my Dad said “why are you home? there is still a game going on?” I had no answer , and my Dad was pissed, rightfully so.

My first visit to Shea Stadium I simply cannot recall. I do remember  coming to Shea  on the 7 train and seeing Sandy Koufax pitch that year at Shea, and that was a thrill. The most fun I remember from  1964, when Shea  was a brand new stadium was watching the Pittsburgh Pirates with Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell and Donn Clendenon and the San Francisco Giants with Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda putting on batting practice displays that were beyond awesome. If the Mets won a game when I was there, that was a bonus not expected.

Thus began my history of time spent in both ball parks. 

I saw the Yankees beat the K.C. Royals, yes K.C. again, in the fifth game of the 1978 American League Championship Series. Being there when a pennant is won is an experience one does not forget, and a memory worth savoring. And savor it, I do.

Being  Mets fan, I have more memories visiting Shea. One of them clearly is not baseball related, I saw the Beatles in 1966 , repeat “saw” not heard.  The teenage girls were beyond insane, thus pissing off us real rock and roll fans who were waiting to hear songs from Revolver. I remember The Ronettes being there and singing Be My Baby, I actually heard the warmup bands.

I saw the Mets clinch the Eastern Division of the National League pennant in September of 1969 on a game ending double play by soon to be legendary Yankee manager Joe Torre, and knocking out Hall Of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton. The fans, all 59,000 of us it seemed, stormed the field and tore that place apart. It was an amazing experience for a Mets fan on the way to a memorable World Series triumph after finishing in ninth place the year before, pure legendary stuff. I saw Joe Namath, the greatest of all New York Jets play there many times, including his last game as a Jet, a victory over Tampa. I saw The Who at Shea, another thrill. I watched Len Dykstra hit a come from behind home run in the teams last at bat in game three of the 1986 National League Championship Series on the way to a second World Series. There are more memories, but it is now time to look forward.

As we approach the last year of these two baseball stadiums, I have some thoughts on the effect on these two baseball teams going forward in new ball parks. I may not find universal agreement on my thoughts, especially from New York Yankee fans, but here goes:

The Yankees new home will be called Yankee Stadium, it is near Yankee Stadium, a short blast by Mickey Mantle would reach the new one from the old one. BUT, it is NOT the same place. Babe did not play there, Gehrig, Dimaggio, Berra, Munson and Whitey never played there, Bobby Murcer, never played there, nor sadly got to broadcast a game there, Mel Allen and Phil Rizzuto never played or announced a game there, BUT you lucky Yankee fans will have John Sterling there, <cough>. The point, if you cannot tell is… this place will never have the same aura as the real Yankee Stadium, it will not awe or intimidate  young players, or veteran players, for that matter as the old ballpark did. This is a fact. The great edge of playing home games in the hallowed grounds of Yankee Stadium are over after this year. Gone! Kaput! Do not let the door hit you on the ass on the way out. It is sad but true. Yes! The new place will look spiffy. It will contain Yankee players like Jeter and Stray  Rod. It will have new players come along, but it will not have the same “feel” I  experienced I when I walked in all those years ago. I also believe this will somewhat diminish the legend of the Yankees as time goes on. It just will not be the same.

The Mets will also bid farewell to Shea Stadium after this year. Few will even care.I went over some of the reason Shea was memorable.. God knows Boston Red Sox fans have nightmares of this place. But true also is , Shea was a bastard step child to Yankee Stadium. There is no way to say it nicely, it was among the worst baseball stadiums I have ever visited, the only stadium, I found as charmless and lacking is U.S. Cellular Field, the current home of the Chicago White Sox , it is newer, but  crap nonetheless.

The New York Mets have a new stadium coming in 2009 called Citi Field, Yes! another corporate named sports edifice,thankfully the Yankees did not allow that too, but that is a discussion for another day. From all reports, and from my own observation this will be a beautiful baseball stadium, it will be a major upgrade over Shea in many ways, First off it is “wanted” by everyone involved, from players to the  fans. It will have young and talented players like David Wright, Jose Reyes and Mike Pelfrey all under 25 years old, with stardom on it’s way. It is an opportunity for the other baseball team in New York to cease control of the “future” of baseball in this town. Tom Seaver, the great vineyard owner, and best pitcher this town has ever had notwithstanding, this has mostly been a Yankee town.

I submit here, that with the demise of The “real” Yankee Stadium,  will be an  end for the Yankees in more ways then one.

I was going to discuss George Carlin’s passing today–I realized my words cannot possibly compare to anything this brilliant satirist has said himself. so instead of reading  what I have to say, I have included some clips of the mad genius himself

It has been said  that a society is best  judged by it’s people and  their accomplishments. If that is so, our  society has had some people to be proud of. Like all of us, no one of us is above making mistakes or showing bad judgement, strength comes from recognizing mistakes and doing what one can to correct them. I could sit here and praise Tim Russert easily and without much dispute. That is, if I were the type to just wax poetic about any subject I wish to delve into. Tim Russert was not one to wax poetic , unless he was discussing sports and the teams and players he cheered for. admittedly  I am that way about sports too. 

The sudden passing of Tim Russert has left me feeling great personal loss. and no I did not know him personally, though I am sure it would have been my priveledge . He was the one political pundit who would ask the questions that people of intellect and seeking the truth would actually want asked. And he would do so regardless of who he was interviewing. Were there times when he “drank the kool aid” being offered by the government? yes there were. He accepted the notion of Iraq having nuclear weapons of mass destruction as if it were fact. When in fact it was not so. Has he supported people that are or have said truly dispicable things? yes he did. he was essentially silent when his good friend Don Imus callously degraded  the Rutgers womens basketball team. So no he is not perfect. Where he excelled was in taking on political issues in a devils advocate way, with great research, and great preparation. It was not easy to feed Tim the Kool Aid. but as stated above, not impossible, just damned hard, and you got the impression when he was fooled or lied to he would take it personally. My anecdotal example of this was when Tim confronted Vice President and liar extrordanaire  Cheney on on 2006 episode of Meet The Press. On the other hand one of Tim’s great virtues was his loyalty to friends, despite the afforementioned Imus comments, Tim never publicly took the sleazeball to task, he surely would have had he not been a guest on Imus show a multitude of times. The point being –is having a loyal friend (from Washington of all places) that stands by you regardless of what you say a bad thing? or is loyalty unquestioned the virtue many people think is? I honestly cannot answer that one. it is too damned complicated, apparently, in the Imus case neither could Tim.

In closing, I know that here in the USA we are a poorer country today because of the loss of Tim Russert. People or a country cannot easily or possibly ever replace someone that is the very best at what they do, regardless of the vocation. Tim was the best at what he did, Like Tiger Woods is the best and Roger Federer is the best, losing the best, especially in such a sudden and  painful way hurts us all.

Rest in peace Tim. And may Your family and friends feel the love and respect that the rest of us who don’t know you, and have never met you feel.

As of a few moments ago Hillary Clinton continued to indicate, or expouse that  she would still win the Democratic Party nomination. It seemed kind of sad to see her best speech of the campaign be her last one as a nominee. She went out with dignity, class and and with many disappointed followers.

As a person that has always found politics facinating, I can never recall a primary process that I found more bread and less meat in my lifetime. Most of this blame, of course goes to how long the primary season was. Too much food can make you sick, too much politics can make you even sicker, although its much easier to avoid politics than eating thankfully.

So now I will present my perception AKA the facts as “I” see them in regard to the campaign. O where must thee begin. well… Mrs. Clinton truly had the upper hand as it began, she, along with her team of mis-advisors did herself no favors, Many of the AD attacks on her opponents were ill-advised and in many cases beneath contempt, Yes! I know politics breeds contempt, but even a person such as I have a limit. Mr, Obama’s ADs were simply a classic case of buzzworditis .The word “change” was used by him more often than the grand total of  all nurses working in pediatrics departments. The effect was hypnotic to some, subliminal to others, and proof that he had no “specific” issue to hammer home to a group of other people. It did prove effective ,and he deserves major credit for saying so little and accomplishing so very much.

It is also my belief that race and sexism played a very major role in the process. The Clinton camp, led by her husband used racism in  very tasteless ways, If I did not know better, I would have thought Karl Rove was advising him by using the old “appeal to the lowest common denominator of our people”  method and expoit away. very disappointinting. In many way Bill may have cost her the nomination, what should have been a great asset became a constant situation of her minions explaining what Bill said to alledgedly what Bill meant to say, either way it was a disaster.Again very disappointing.

The sexism charge clearly falls on the lap of political pundits on the air (Chris Mathews, David Shuster.and take your pick of Fox pundits) and in the press all around the country. It was unseemly and disgraceful.

So here we are Obama vs McCain in 2008 . My cynical nature leads me to believe the attacks on McCain will focus on his age, his support of our currently inept President, and his temper. The attacks on Obama will be more insideous and harder to actually “see”  (racism)  along with the usual “he is too inexperienced, among other attacks that the GOP Rove types will shortly manufacture,

I will close this by stating that as a person I genuinely like McCain, despite being in the same party, he has never feared attacking the inept administration for the many blunders they have blessed us with. He is however, now embracing the support from this motley crew and to me that is hypocrocy and sickening and also politics as usual. I cannot see myself supporting  him.

As for Obama, he has shown that he can handle mudslinging very well. Can he handle it from a party that has a masters degree in it will remain to be seen. My guess is yes. His biggest hurdle will be the “covert” racism that exists in this country. While most people will say all the right things about how great it is to have an African American running for the highest office in the land, it concerns me that when they get in the voting booth, the true colors (pun intended) of the voters will be tested in a way that cannot be foreseen. I STRONGLY recommend that you ignore exit polls after the voting. few voters will state that they voted for McCain for the racist reason that they did. They will say anything but.

America has a chance to prove its greatness and enlightenment in the upcoming election. Here is hoping they take that chance.