where the writers are
THE WRITER'S LIFE
THE WRITER

 

Copyright by Steven Travers (2005).

 

I dedicate this book to Tony Salinn, whose talent and passion for baseball writing will be remembered, and to the

Lord Jesus Christ, who saves me.

 

--Steven Travers

 

PREVIEW

 

Steven Travers is the most prolific, hard-working and versatile writer in America today. "The Writer's Life", which is a collection of his works, is one of the most instructive books ever written on what it is like to be a writer. This is not a nuts-and-bolts instruction guide. It is inspiration to get off your behind, take on what Hemingway called the White Bull, and write. If Steve can do it, so can you. Inside Steve's work is far more than the Jim Murray-inspired entertainment that infuses his sports stories. Rather, here is an up-close encounter with the process of writing in every way. The business of writing. Dealing with lying editors and incompetent little people clinging to their feifdoms. The brutality of rejection and the brilliant light of public acceptance. Most of all, Travers' story is the story of a writer who refuses to quit and comes back…time after time after time! It is the story of a man who will not let the lesser lights and Dumbellionites of the Earth bring him down. 

Travers, the author of the Best Selling "Barry Bonds: Baseball's Superman", ranges and flexes his writing muscles in as a broad a way as any living scribe. He is a sports historian and author of the popular Distant Replay series. He is a prep sports expert and an insider who has been a major columnist covering professional sports in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Steve is a California historian who has also written extensively about the military and politics. That is only the beginning. He is a novelist, a playwright, a song writer, and a busy screenwriter with 15 scripts under his belt. Travers is not your typical writer. At 6-6, 225 pounds, this ex-professional baseball player does not waste his time wearing black and sitting around cafes talking about writing. He lives the motto "writers write." He is also not the typical nihilistic brooding liberal that make up so much of modern punditry. He is a conservative who infuses his politics with hope based on a Christian worldview. That does not prevent him from being funny, profane, sexual and outrageous, though. Here is a writer who has written about porn stars, Presidents and John Wooden.

"The Writer's Life" is your opportunity to get a birds-eye view of the entertainment industry from an insider who has war stories to tell about "development hell" and the slicksters trying to take advantage of writers in Hollywood. He has gone up against the big, bad world of New York publishing and lived to tell about it. Like a previous generation of Americans, he lived in Europe, gaining a cosmopolitan perspective without losing his patriotic love for the United States. He has gained an insider's position in the high-voltage world of sports superstars like Barry Bonds; worked with celebrities such as Charlie Sheen; experienced some of the world's sexiest women and has the "kiss-and-tell" stories to prove it; and rubbed elbows with the movers and shakers of politics.  

Whether you are an aspiring writer or just enjoy great writing, this book promises to be one of the most entertaining, enlightening, and broad-reaching you will ever read. Travers' writing heroes include Ernest Hemingway, William Goldman, David Halberstam, Hunter S. Thompson, William Safire, David Mamet, and William Shakespeare. His attempts - both succeses and failures -  to stretch out and write like his heroes is part of what makes Travers' book so human and real. His story is not one of great riches and literary fame, but rather it is the struggle that is "The Writer's Life": The passion to reach out and write, every day, because that is what he has to do. Because it is in him!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

STEVEN TRAVERS is the author of the critically acclaimed Best Seller "Barry Bonds: Baseball’s Superman" (www.sportspublishingllc.com), currently in re-print and nominated for a Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of 2002. A former sports columnist for the San Francisco Examiner and StreetZebra magazine in Los Angeles, he wrote for the L.A. Times as well. Travers is also an award-winning screenwriter and author of the novel "Angry White Male". An ex-professional baseball player, Travers struck out 1989 National League Most Valuable Player Kevin Mitchell five times in one night (striking out 15 that game) while pitching in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. He was also a teammate of Jose Canseco in the Oakland Athletics organization. Pitching for the A’s vs. San Francisco in a Major League exhibition game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Travers struck out the side against the Giants en route to three scoreless innings.

Steve’s suburban California high school team won the National Championship team in his senior year. The 6-6, 225-pound Travers attended college on an athletic scholarship and he was an all-conference pitcher. Steven graduated from the University of Southern California, where he knew baseball heroes Mark McGwire and Randy Johnson. Travers studied in the USC School of Cinema-Television, as well as in the UCLA Writers’ Program.

Steven served in the United States Army during the Persian Gulf War. He coached baseball at USC, the University of California-Berkeley, and for one year in Berlin, Germany. After attending law school, he was a political consultant and a sports agent before embarking on a writing career. His screenplays include “The Lost Battalion”, “Wicked”, and “Once He Was An Angel”, the story of ex-baseball player Bo Belinsky.

Travers is a sixth-generation Californian who still resides in the Golden State. He has one daughter, Elizabeth Travers.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

CHAPTER            TITLE                                                            PAGE

 

Prologue:             A Slice of the Writer's Life                                    14

1                        Distant Replay                                                            20

2                        San Francisco Bay Area Sports                        44

3                        Prep Sports                                                             56

4                        Our National Pastime                                                89

5                        Politics and History                                                176

6                        Porn Stars                                                            221

7                        Noir                                                                        229

8                        L.A. Sports                                                            234

9                        Football                                                            243

10                        Fight On!                                                            272

11                        Barry Bonds: Baseball's Superman                        315

12                        Book and Film Reviews                                    387

13                        College Baseball                                                398

14                        It's All About Me                                                435

15                        Basketball                                                            448

16                        Ice Hockey                                                            461

17                        Tennis                                                                        463

18                        Olympics                                                            469

19                        Boxing                                                                        471

20                        Hollywood                                                            472

21                        Golf                                                                        499

22                        Track and Field                                                502

23                        Volleyball                                                            504

24                        The Screenplays of Steven Travers                        513

25                        General Sports                                                            568

26                        Novel by Steven Travers                                    575

27                        Songs of Steve Travers                                    591

28                        A Woman's Point of View                                    594

29                        All In the Family                                                599

30                        Stageplay by Steve Travers                                    602

31                        Steven Travers On Sports Columns                        619

32                        Collecting                                                            620

33                        Fitness                                                                        622           

 

            CHANGES

Change, as they say, is good. Changed seemed to be a good thing in the winter of 1957-58 for Roy Campanella, the club’s star catcher since 1949. He had to be flexible. Campy had endured the hardships of the old Negro Leagues, then faced further, more difficult challenges following in Jackie Robinson’s footsteps.

Walter O’Malley moved the Bums from a stadium where Campanella had hit 242 home runs, but now, what was this? The Dodgers would be playing in a football stadium, the Coliseum – and word was that the left field fence was little league distance.

Campanella had learned to adapt because he had to, and after winning three National League MVP awards between 1951 and 1955, he was ready for a new challenge. The new challenge was not just about the impending move to L.A. At age 37, Campanella had become a small businessman. He had bought a liquor store in subruban New York, and on an ice-cold January night in 1958, after working the night shift, Roy got in his car for th drive home. He never made it.

His car skidded off the road, ramming into a tree, and the great athlete, a man with cat-like reflexes and the most powerful throwing arm on the senior circuit, was paralyzed.

Change can be tough to swallow. Campanella went through th grueling process of rehab, but along the way discovered something special. Some time between January 1958 and May 1959, Roy Campanella went from being a suicidal paraplegic, whose wife left him because she could not handle his depressions, to learning that it’s good to be alive. In the process, his nurse fell in love with him. They call that the Florence Nightengale effect, and in Roy’s case change again was very good. They were married shortly thereafter.

Baseball is rooted in the Eastern mythology of New York City. Cooperstown is a few hours away, and in the 1950s the Yankees, Giants and Dodgers were building their own wings at the Hall of Fame, with three marquee center fielders named Willie mays, Mickey Mantle and Duke Snider. Los Angeles was, well. . . Hollywood. A nice place visit, you might even want to livethere, but not to be taken seriously, as in major League seriously.

Perhaps it was on May 7, 1959, that the world first took took Los Angeles Major League seriously. When former teammate Pee Wee Reese rolled Campy out to home plate, the lights dimmed, and 93,103 fans of the human spirit lit lighters, giving the Coliseum a Heavenly appearance, paying a very moving tribute to a man who had played his entire career 3,000 miles awat.

They adopted Roy Campanella as one of their own, and they adopted a club that had finished in seventh place in 1958. The Dodgers would go on to break the 90,000 attendance mark several times during their stay in Exposition Park – the ’59 All-Star Game, and in three games vs. the “go-go” Chisox in that year’s fall Classic. Whether the players were inspired by Campy and their adopted hometwon to win the World Championship is grist for speculation, and the stuff of legend.

Duke Snider speculated on what-might-have-been.

“If it hadn’t been for the accident,” Snider once said, “I think Roy would have played another year or two and then been the first black manager.”

Campanella’s life was much more than wins, losses and MVP awards. Another former Dodger, pitcher Joe Black, remembers Hall of Famer Campy this way: “To me, he was the ultimate role model.”

Roy’s life was memorialized first in his uplifting autobiography, It’s Good To Be Alive, and later in a television movie of the same name, starring Paul Winfield. Change also came in the form of the West Coast move, which Campy eventually made after all.

He became a fixture at Dodger Stadium, working for the club inan advisory capacity until he passed away from natural causes in 1993. STORIES, ARTICLES, ESSAYS AND OTHEER WORKS ADDED ON:

 

FROM USC TROJANS

 

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

 

MICKEY MEISTER WAS MY FRIEND

 

By STEVEN TRAVERS

 

Mickey Meister passed away this week. To those who knew what had become of him, this was news we expected since 2003. He was 44 years old. His life is a Shakespearean cautionary tale of wasted talent and excess. He was a man of extraordinary flaw, yet also one of great charisma. It is the fervent hope of this old friend of Mick’s that somehow that charisma, combined with Mick’s spiritual knowledge of death’s impending harvest - and hopeful repentance - impressed God enough to grant salvation to his soul.

            Where do I start? Well, for one, Mickey is the greatest high school baseball pitcher in the history of the Marin County Athletic League. He played during the MCAL’s “golden age” – the 1970s. Redwood High School was the best prep program in America. Great pitchers like Gene Frey, Eddie Andersen, Jeff Lucchesi, Frank Ferroni and Jimmy Jones came out of Al Endriss’ program like so much wheat gracing an Indiana cornfield. Charles Scott of Terra Linda was another superstar. But Mickey’s record was unparalleled. He deserves to be in the Marin Athletic Hall of Fame. The Marin Old-Time Athlete’s meet May 1, and I for one will lobby for Mick at that event.

            He played four years of varsity ball. His sophomore year, Mickey was my teammate, the ace of a club that not only won the NCS championship but also was voted “mythical” national champions of prep baseball by Collegiate Baseball magazine and the Easton Bat Co. You can look it up. The Tamalpais Union High School District office still displays a giant photo of that “number one team in the nation.” Mick was 11-1, first team All-MCAL. As a junior he was 14-0, a high school All-American. Redwood won the NCS title again and finished number two in the nation. As a senior, Mick again made All-American, was named by Cal-Hi Sports the state’s best baseball player, and another organization even went so far as to award him the title “National Athlete of the Year.”

            Mick turned down the Boston Red Sox to accept a full ride to play for Rod Dedeaux at USC. This is where he and I were again classmates. At USC, he was the Trojans’ ace, going 9-3 his sophomore year. He beat John Elway and Stanford at Sunken Diamond, 2-1 in a classic performance. After USC, he played in the Seattle Mariners organization.

****

It can be said that the leafy, affluent suburbs of Marin County may produce the very best and brightest of America’s high school students. In 1979, if one were to survey all of Marin to determine which of that year’s seniors was the “most likely to succeed,” the most obvious choice would have been Mickey Meister. His baseball success was only part of the story.

            Mick was 6-5, 225 pounds, and if you looked up “handsome” in Webster’s, his smiling face was to be found there. Girls craved his attention. Guys wanted to bathe in his sunshine.

            Mick was also a mathematical genius who could rival Dustin Hoffman’s Rainman when it came to adding up and computing numbers in his head. He was smart, savvy, street-smart, funny, the life of the party. Nothing got past him. He was nobody’s fool. He was a movie buff whose knowledge of Hollywood rivaled Siskel and Ebert’s. Similarly, he knew the history of rock music in like fashion. 

Mick grew up in a mansion in Ross. His parents reportedly gave him $100 a day for “expenses.”

            So, after Redwood, after USC, and after the Mariners, where did it all go wrong? I was his friend, so I wanted to know that answer. Three years ago, when Mickey became homeless in Texas, I wrote an article that ran nationally for The American Reporter, trying not just to understand his cautionary tale but maybe to help him, if I could.

            The article found its way to Texas, where residents of Earl Campbell’s old hometown of Tyler were trying to make sense of the strange, oddly entertaining drifter named Mickey. The article detailed Mick’s success, his failures and his faults. The desired effect was that he would grasp the realities of his life, causing him to right his ship; take stock in himself; stop drinking; find peace through Christ.

            I heard through friends that Mick was peeved at the article, especially since it shed light that made it harder to flimflam local Texas women. But he had a strange pride in his faults, causing him to show the article around town, cherry-picking the parts about his sports heroics and, oddly, bragging that “it’s all true.” Even the parts about his childhood affluence were used to create the image that a trust fund was waiting, that he just needed enough to get by, a loan, an investment in an Internet stock that was a sure thing until his ship came in.

            The article hit a nerve. Numerous old Redwood and USC people came across it and contacted me with “Meister stories.” Mick’s circle of friends started getting emails from Tyler, Texas. The typical query went like this: “I have a female friend who has befriended a man named Mickey Meister. She is not very attractive and quite flattered to receive male attention. Each day she meets Mickey at ‘TGIF Friday’s,’ where he spends the day drinking on my friend’s tab until she arrives after work. They drink and eat, she pays the tab, and they go. Mickey has access to her bank account, ATM and 401K. He promises he will pay her back, as he is investing in a big deal. He claims a doctorate from USC, to be a former big league All-Star, and other fantastic fables.”

            Mick’s friends, myself included, tried to warn off these “lonely hearts club women,” apparently with some success, but there was always another one. Finally, some months ago, he talked one of them into coming to California with him. She weighed close to 300 pounds and had given Mick access to her savings. Looking back, Mick was coming home to die. He knew his liver could not take the alcohol abuse he put it through. The handsome pitching ace was unrecognizable the last few years.

            But, again. . . why? As his friend, Alex Jacobs once said, “Mick’s a complex human being.” To figure out the roots of his demise, one must look to a youth in which his physical, mental and economic gifts were so great that he took them for granted. To those of us who knew him, this was plainly obvious.

            As an athlete, he showed up and dominated. Females? Same thing. Money? It seemingly grew on the trees of his Ross surroundings. Academics? His photographic memory meant he did not need to study. His parents doted on him; his friends were more like apostles. Door after door. . . welcome, Mick.

            But Mick cheated on girlfriends and stole from his male friends. One good pal had a computer heisted by Mick. He was dishonest. Employment never lasted. He took money from a Marin County bank that employed him as a teller, telling a friend who inquired how he could do such a thing, “It’s really pretty easy once you get past the morality of it.”

When caught red-handed stealing, cheating and lying, he just smiled. He was proud of his ability to get away with stuff. He loved Bill Clinton because he was a slickster who never got caught. He used his math skills to cheat at cards. 

            My personal, humble analysis is that he lacked spiritual guidance. As it says in the Gospel According to Matthew, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, only to lose his soul?” It was in this verse that I found strange hope for Mick, because in the end he lost the whole world. This was why I wrote about him in 2003, hoping he would realize this, repent and save his soul, for in God’s mystery our Earthly stumbles can be the pathway to Heaven. This remains my hope.

Mick’s friends will gather for memories of him at Marin Joe’s on April 29.

 

Steven Travers is the author of “Barry Bonds” Baseball’s Superman” and the upcoming “The USC Trojans: College Football’s All-Time Greatest Dynasty,” “September 1970: One Night, Two Teams, and the Game That Changed a Nation,” “Trojans Essential,” “A’s Essential,” and Raiders Essential.” He can be reached at USCSTEVE1@aol.com.  

               

THE HALLOWED SHRINE

Camelot in L.A.

 

Whether or not the 1978 USC-Notre Dame game was better, or more exciting, than the "1974 A.D." game can be argued. It was certainly a high for Coach Robinson, and a low for Dan Devine, who replaced Ara in 1975. The Irish may have Rudy, but the Trojans are happy to settle for Frank Jordan. Just as he had done against UCLA a year earlier, Jordan kicked a game-winner with two seconds left.

Jordan was a Catholic kid who grew up in San Francisco's Irish Sunset District. He went to Riordan High School. His younger brother, Steve, would kick field goals for Troy, as well. Jordan would eventually go to work for New York Life in San Francisco, but he fancied himself a historian. He wrote screenplays about World War I. This author once met with him in proposed collaboration of a movie script. The partnership did not blossom, but eventually, through the circuitous route known in Hollywood as "development hell," a movie about this subject - America's Argonne Offensive - was produced on A&E, starring Rick Schroder.

 If one visits the clubhouse at San Francisco's Harding Park Gold Course, they cannot miss the signed color photo of Jordan being mobbed by his teammates after the momentous win over Notre Dame.

"We came out the first part of that game and just took it to 'em," said Paul McDonald. "We had a huge lead in that game, I can't remember what the score was but Joe Montana was maybe two for 18 in the first half and couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. I was thinking, Whose this guy, he's supposed to be a good player? Comes out in the second half and throws for 300 yards, brings 'em all the way back, they go for two, they're ahead 25-24, they go for two at the end - don't get it!

"I had hurt me ankle the first series of the game. Bob Golic, their linebacker, rolled up on my ankle. They taped it up so I said, 'Put me back in, see if I can play.' The next series I threw a touchdown so I said, 'I'm fine,' but by the end of the game my ankle was killing me.

"And I got the offense together on the sidelines and I said, 'Hey guys, we're not gonna lose this game.' All we have to do is go down about 50 yards, kick the field to win the game and get out of here. We only had one timeout, so we tried to save that timeout.  I rolled into the short side of the field, and nobody was open, so I backpedaled, guy was coming right at me, so I threw it, and I threw it - I knew I had to throw it to stop the clock - and it hit one of their linemen's thigh pads, and of course they thought it was a fumble, and they were ecstatic, their bench emptied, they're jumping up and down thinking they won the game, but the official called 'incomplete pass.' Because the ball, my arm was going forward. Next pass we completed a 40-yard pass to Calvin Sweeney, next play Charles White goes off tackle for another eight, we go on the field with two seconds left and kick a field goal to win the game."

Montana's performance was bravura. He was as good in a noble defeat as any college quarterback ever has been, exceeded perhaps only by his incredible comeback effort against Houston in the Cotton Bowl a little over a month later.

"I came there in '72, and through '80, the winner of that game either won the national championship or came in second," recalled J.R., "so both teams were nationally ranked, so the winner was probably gonna win the national championship or come very close to it."

The noise of the crowd when Jordan kicked that field goal was absolutely deafening. Men and women kissed in the aisles, nearly making love to each other. Complete strangers hugged like lifelong lost pals. Fathers and sons found meaning. The emotion, all the incredible pent-up pressure of the national championship, the eternal struggle of the Notre Dame game; with everything riding on it, this was a true "winner take all" scenario.

Montana, after doggedly wearing down his adversaries all game, glumly boarded a plane back to Indiana with his beaten, dejected team. On that plane, he met a stewardess. A relationship blossomed and she became his wife, although it ended in divorce.

****

The Trojans had a "vacation game" in Hawaii. They actually trailed for a while against the Rainbows before overcoming their sunburns and hangovers in a 21-5 win.

Unlike 1974, when the Notre Dame game pre-cursored an equally dramatic Rose Bowl, this time around the game against Michigan was workmanlike. McDonald threw a touchdown pass to Hoby Brenner. With 7:29 to play in the second quarter, the Trojans had the ball on the Michigan three. Line judge Gilbert Marchman ruled that White's dive into the end zone was a touchdown.

 

It was USC's fifth straight Rose Bowl victory, 17-10. White finished with 99 yards. Wolverine quarterback Rick Leach was spectacular in the second half when the Trojans tried to go conservative, almost to their chagrin. White and Leach shared Player of the Game honors.

Very possibly, USC lost the AP version of the national championship by not putting fifth-ranked Michigan away. Alabama beat unbeaten, number one-ranked Penn State in a strong showing. Despite having beaten the Tide with an impressive win on their home field, USC had to split the title. It was a reverse of the 1966 vote, when 'Bama - unbeaten, untied and a bowl winner - had been denied the title, which went to once-tied Notre Dame via the "Catholic vote" and the "anti-segregation vote." Segregated Texas's 1969 win, with President Nixon's endorsement, takes something away from the argument that the pollsters voted entirely with social pathos in that era, however.

USC could also look to its 17-10 win over UCLA with a tinge of regret. Leading 17-0, they had barely hung on to win, 17-10. Impressive blowouts over the Bruins and Wolverines, both within their range of capability, had not happened when they went a little bit too conservative, which was one of the few complaints anybody could think to attach to Robinson's record, at least up until that point. Their second half complacency had nearly cost the Notre Dame game, as well.

With Alabama now completely integrated and rolling like a juggernaut - these were Bear's best teams - the jowly man in the hound's tooth fedora was suddenly a sentimental favorite. Alabama's share of the 1978 national championship can be attributed in very large measure to the personal charisma of Bear Bryant. In doing the right thing, whether he was late or early to the dance, Bryant had become a national figure and an adored one, at that.

Oddly, USC found itself again victims of their own good works. They had of course helped open the door to integration in 1970, only to be surprised by a 'Bama team with black players in 1971. Their role in social progress was again "rewarded" in '78 when the voters went for the man they had helped make progressive.

"That's what you get," John McKay had wryly told Craig Fertig when he had seen John Mitchell sprinting downfield on the opening kick of the 1971 SC-'Bama game in L.A.

It was the end of the regular season four-game arrangement with Alabama. Oddly, the visitors won all four games between the two storied programs in the 1970s.       

"Many people said, 'Hey, you can't make it through that kind of schedule,' " said Robinson of the 1978 season, which included wins over Alabama, UCLA, Notre Dame, and Michigan. "They said our schedule was a mankiller. Well, we had some men that it couldn't kill."

Shared national championship or not, for many 1978 represented the highest point in USC football history. The aura and mystique of Trojan football reached epic proportions. The question of who was the better traditional, historical team, USC or Notre Dame - or Alabama - was very much up in the air, with USC supporters holding plenty of ammunition in support of their argument.

"It was an amazing time, we had great assistant coaches there, we had well known people who were eager," recalled J.R. "It was like a Camelot to a lot of people."

Indeed, "Tailback U." was now "Quarterback College." McDonald was brilliant on the field as well as off. He was the latest in a string of quarterbacks, from Jimmy Jones to Pat Haden to Vince Evans and now himself, who had created a new paradigm at the position for Troy. Hackett introduced complexity to the offense that heretofore had not existed.

Hackett later became USC's head coach. He did not succeed, but he is due his share of credit. He was one of the minds who created the concept of the West Coast offense; concepts built on the coaching of Sid Gilman, Marv Levy and Paul Brown. He would go to San Francisco to help perfect it (and Joe Montana) under coach Bill Walsh in the 1980s.

"One of Paul's greatest strengths was his ability to throw to a variety of receivers, to find the open man," Hackett said of McDonald. "He never made up his mind on the man he was going to throw to until the last possible moment. He didn't get excited."

White finished the 1978 season with 1,859 yard rushing in 1978, but Oklahoma's Billy Sims captured the Heisman Trophy. White would not win "two or three Heismans," but he did have a chance to win one, plus a national championship, come within a whisker of a second, as well as three Rose Bowl victories. White made All-American in 1978.

SEPTEMER 1970

 

A treatment by

 

STEVEN TRAVERS

 

When two Southern-bred good ol’ boy coaches conspire to play an integrated football game between USC and Alabama, in front of a segregated white audience in 1970 Birmingham, the truth is revealed, followed by the changing of hearts and minds which allows Martin Luther King’s“dream” to finally be realized.

 

Mournful black Christian soul music plays as the opening credits intersperse with a montage of documentary and docu-drama black-and-white footage. A NARRATOR explains the events on the screen.

            The Civil War ends and Reconstruction is botched. Jack Johnson, a black boxer of the early 20th Century, was vilified by the white establishment because he cavorted with white women and lorded his victories over fallen white opponents.

            Jesse Owens wins Olympic Gold in front of Adolph Hitler in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Joe Louis defeats Max Schmelling in boxing action from the 1930s. Jim Brown runs rampant for the Cleveland Browns in the 1950s, and Syracuse’s Ernie Davis is the first black Heisman Trophy winner. Willie Mays and Hank Aaron are baseball superstars.

            The music takes on an upbeat “California sound” as the narrator explains that great social progress was made on the West Coast, particularly on the field of play between the University of Southern California and UCLA. Images of Jackie Robinson and Kenny Washington playing for the Bruins are followed by Robinson breaking the color line in baseball, then Rafer Johnson winning Gold at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

            “Conquest” plays as the narrator describes the social progress at USC brought about by their great black athletes. Brice Taylor was their first All-American in 1925. In 1956, C.R. Roberts ran for 251 yards in the first half of a huge victory over Texas at Austin. By the 1960s, coach John McKay had developed a dynasty using black stars Willie Brown, Mike Garrett, O.J. Simpson and Anthony Davis.

            This is followed by images of the “New Breed” of black athletes: Muhamad Ali, Bob Gibson, and Curt Flood.

“Southern Man” by Neil Young replaces the upbeat music while images of the civil rights struggle dominate the screen: blacks in the back of the bus, National Guardsmen at Little Rock; Bull Connor’s dogs and rubber truncheons suppress black protest in the streets of Birmingham. LBJ signs the Civil Rights Act. Medgar Evers is shot; Malcolm X, Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. are assassinated. Anti-war protests and images of Vietnam. The civil rights movement becomes violent, led by the Black Panthers. John Carlos and Tommy Smith give a black-gloved salute at the 1968 Olympics.

“Sweet Home Alabama” replaces “Southern Man” while the narrator describes images of Southern football: all-white players, Confederate flags, and Alabama winning national championships under legendary coach PAUL “BEAR” BRYANT.

 

FADE IN. Bryant sits in his corner office overlooking Governor George Wallace making his infamous 1963 “stand in the schoolhouse door.”

Bryant speaks to a white audience in the South, mid-1960s, vowing to maintain segregation, and stating that black students in Dixie are not academically prepared for the rigors of college at a white school.

Black-and-white turns to color. While playing golf with Bryant in California, JOHN MCKAY confronts him on his statement. Bryant tells him he has to play to his audience back there, that the pressures from Governor Wallace force him to put on a different face from the one he shows out West. McKay tells him that he, too, is from West Virginia and has sympathy for the situation his friend faces, but that he has been playing black players, has had success with them, and that his perspective has changed because of it, too.

In a Tuscaloosa neighborhood of the 1960s, a black teenager, SYLVESTER CROOM plays sandlot football with his black friends. They are not Alabama fans, choosing to emulate Grambling instead.

In a white Tuscaloosa neighborhood, a young boy, KEITH DUNNAVANT, watches his older brothers play sandlot ball. They emulate white Alabama stars like Pat Trammell, LeRoy Jordan and Joe Namath.

In a Birmingham church, a 40-year old black man, CLAUDE DAVIS, talks about how his nephew, Clarence, will be coming to town to play football for USC vs. Alabama.

In a black bar in Birmingham, black fans complain of their plight.

Bryant allows Governor Wallace to put his arm around him at a political rally.

At a Birmingham A's baseball game, Bryant and A's owner Charles O. Finley meet A's minor leaguer Reggie Jackson.

"You're just the kinda n----r we could use in our program," Bryant tells Jackson.

 

At a Northern California high school football camp, USC assistant football coach MARV GOUX barks orders to a 14-year old camper named PETE CARROLL. There are black players among the campers. The camp’s director, BOB TROPPMANN, entertains two guest coaches, Bear Bryant and John McKay.

At the camp’s banquet dinner, Bryant regales a group of California prep coaches, some of whom are black, instructing them to “send your whisky-drinkin’, skirt-chasin’ D students to ol’ Bear, and I’ll turn ‘em into football players.”

Troppmann turns to somebody and mentions Joe Namath and Ken Stabler.

After the banquet, Troppmann shares a nightcap with Bryant and McKay. The two coaches smoke cigars and drink whisky. The subject of integration comes up. McKay subtly urges Bryant to recruit black players. Bryant says he plans to, and when it happens, “we’ll play ya’all, and it’ll be like a high-speed train.”

McKay turns to Troppmann and asks his opinion on integrating the South.

“I would offer no objections,” says the high school coach sitting in on history.

 

            At a USC, a white running back, JOHN PAPADAKIS from affluent Rolling Hills Estates, loses his job to a black running back, SAM CUNNINGHAM. Instead of languishing on the bench, John moves to linebacker and earns Sam’s respect through his hard hits. A friendship forms. 

            In 1970, the NCAA announces that they are allowing for an additional 11th game to be played on the fall football schedules. Bryant gets his brain trust together. Coaches JERRY CLAIBRONE, MAL MOORE, CLEM GRYSKA and BILL RUTLEDGE are told that ‘Bama will open the season against USC at Legion Field in Birmingham. The coaches are adamant that it is a bad idea, not just because USC is integrated but because the Trojans are coming off an unbeaten season and could embarrass the Crimson Tide. Bryant insists.

“It’ll be good for Wilbur,” says Bryant.

WILBUR JACKSON, black high school senior, attends church in Ozark, Alabama. His friends and family warn him that he should not take Bryant’s scholarship offer to play football, that he will be used and abused.

“It’s in the Lord’s hands,” says Jackson.

 

At Eastern Arizona Junior College, JOHN MITCHELL, a strapping black defensive star from Tuscaloosa, Alabama tells Marv Goux that he will be coming to play for USC.

 

In a duck blind in Alabama, Bryant and McKay share from a whisky flask. Bryant tells McKay he’ll be in California for the Bob Hope Desert Classic and will see him then. They discuss a football game at Legion Field and mull over all the variables, and how such a game could end segregation. They agree to play.

 

Images of black basketball players being abused by SEC crowds.

 

At USC, black football stars CHARLES YOUNG, TODY SMITH, and CHARLIE WEAVER attend a white fraternity party. They are accompanied by MICHELE MCKAY, the coach’s white daughter. She is a “hippie chick.” Young is very cautious about the “brothers” being seen with her, since it is felt that Coach McKay does not approve of inter-racial dating.

Intersperce the frat party with a dinner party at Bryant’s condo on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Bryant’s wife, MARY HARMON, and McKay’s wife, CORKY, exchange gossip. Bryant excuses himself to go outside. An Alabama alum quietly tells McKay that Bryant has allowed the game of football to “pass him by.”

Back at the party, Tody dances wildly with a beautiful white girl, causing her boyfriend to get jealous. A wild free-for-all fight breaks out, but Young brilliantly manages to extricate his friends from the scene before more trouble occurs.

 

At USC, assistant coach CRAIG FERTIG is summoned by McKay to make a ‘mysterious” drive to Los Angeles International Airport. At the Western Airlines Horizon Room, McKay and Fertig meet Bear Bryant. Details are made to open the season at Birmingham.

 

In Alabama, quarterback SCOTT HUNTER views tape of USC, expressing great fear of their athleticism. His teammate, JOHNNY MUSSO, dismisses Hunter’s concerns.

In white churches, prayers and hymns are sung. Whites are portrayed as unsympathetic to blacks, cocky about Alabama football.

In black churches, more prayers and songs. Black fans express concern that if USC loses, it could set them back. 

At a USC banquet in Long Beach, the USC team is fully integrated, seemingly together in every way. McKay tells the audience that the upcoming game at Birmingham will pose a major challenge, but he expects his team to compete for the national championship as they always do.

Scenes of racial angst in Alabama.

Focus on Sam Cunningham, a black freshman football stud from USC.  Sam lives in the idyllic community of Santa Barbara, where everybody – white and black – seems to love him.

 

A black criminal, George Jackson, has just murdered a white judge, Harold Haley, in a California courtroom, using guns smuggled in to him by black Communist Angela Davis. The whole “black gun” mentality is particularly threatening.

A group of black USC players gathers in quarterback JIMMY JONES’ apartment: Tody Smith, Charlie Weaver, and JIMMY GUNN all tell Jones they have a bad feeling about the trip. Smith and Weaver inform Jones, the team captain, that they plan to bring guns to Alabama. Jones tells them that is a terrible idea.

 

Charles Young, a black USC tight end, and ALLAN GRAF, a white Trojan lineman, drive together to a construction site where they work summer jobs. The two seem to have little in common. When they pass an anti-war protest, they philosophize about how best to effectuate social change, and slowly the seeds of togetherness begin to form.

 

In USC’s “dungeon,” Coach Goux sends his team to Birmingham with a rousing pep talk, telling them that the “act of ‘conquest” is to go to another man’s house, rape his women and plunder his possessions.

 

Upbeat music plays over the following scenes, creating a sense of anticipation and power.

At the Birmingham airport, USC is met by the Alabama Million-Dollar band, but the drive to the hotel is desultory. They pass scenes of terrible poverty. Lineman DAVE BROWN whispers, “God help them.”

At the hotel, white fans look at USC’s blacks as if they are from outer space. In Papadakis’ room, small white children reach out to touch the black skin - for the first time – of roommate KENT CARTER. That night, the gun issue again rears its ugly head. Jones is unable to talk Tody Smith from bringing his gun, but Papadakis is able to make sense of the ussue.

The next day, Alabama arrives at Legion Field, led by Bryant. USC leaves their hotel, and at the last minute Smith leaves his gun in his room.

At Legion Field, tremendous build-up permeates the crowd and the teams. ‘Bama fans are confident of their “racial superiority.”

A black man argues with his wife and heads off to the bar. Black fans listen to the game on the radio in bars and barbeques.

Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” plays. USC is “fired up” by Goux, and when the game starts puts on an incredible display, led by Cunningham.

“He’s making me look like a genius,” says McKay.

At halftime, trailing badly, Bryant tries to talk his beaten team back into the game, but they have no chance. Their fans look truly puzzled.

In the second half, USC pours it on amid stone silence from the crowd. Only the sound of USC cheering and a small contingent of black fans rooting for the Trojans breaks the silence. As the game wears on, the eerie sound of black fans cheering for USC outside the stadium is heard.

Sylvester Croom listens to the game on the radio. He is amazed. Scrolling over the screen is the information that tells us he will star for Bryant, coach on his staff, and today is the head coach at Mississippi State (the first black coach in SEC history).

Keith Dunnavant plays in a sandlot with black kids. He emulates Ozzie Newsome.

When the game finally ends, Bryant thanks McKay for “helping our program.”

Black fans celebrate in the local bar and backyard cookouts.

In the locker room, Bryant finds Sam Cunningham. He takes him into the hallway, where in front of some players, media, alumni and administrators, says “this here’s what a football player looks like.”

Alabama assistant Jerry Claiborne says, “Cunningham’s done more for civil rights in three hours than Martin Luther King did in 20 years.”

White fans enthusiastically endorse the prospect of Bryant recruiting black players. Their change of heart is almost absurdly turned around from their previous attitudes.

A white Alabama announcer says, “Bryant’s gotta get hisself some a them Puerto Ricans.”

A black man returns home and his wife sees new self-respect in his eyes.

Outside the stadium, Uncle Claude meets Clarence. He is one of thousands of black fans holding candles and Bibles. They thank the Trojans. As the bus pulls away, the black fans part the road, and the bus descends into a Heavenly light not unlike Moses, having parted the Red Sea, leading his people to the Promised Land.

 

DENOUMENT: The narrator explains over images that Jackson suited up the.following season, was captain of the 1973 team, and later sent his daughters to Alabama. When one considers the grim treatment given SEC black basketball players just two years before with the way Jackson and other blacks were well treated, one must consider this nothing less than a miracle orchestrated by the hand of God. Images of blacks and whites in the same church, working together in offices, attending the same schools.

The South integrated. Politics completely changed. Political analysis of “red states” is given. Images of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush winning the Presidency. Pro sports, the Olympics and an economic boom allowed the South to “rise again.”

McKay boasts to Bryant that he had recruited John Mitchell, but Bryant rushes to a phone and does a “sell job.”

Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” plays while Mitchell is the first black ‘Bama player, suited up on the opening kick of Alabama’s 1971 17-10 win over USC at the Coliseum.

McKay turns to Fertig and says wryly, “Well, that’s what you get.” 

Both USC and Alabama, both fully integrated, dominated the 1970s. Dave Brown led USC in Fellowship of Christian Athletes before the 2-4 Trojans beat unbeaten Notre Dame in 1971, and the team never lost again, completing the “all-time best” 1972 national championship. Anthony Davis runs a kick back for a touchdown against Notre Dame.

Images of six USC players who became Christian ministers. Papadakis and Cunningham maintain a lifelong friendship. Croom and Mitchell insist that if Bryant was racist before 1970, his heart, like that of the South, softened. His friendship with McKay, a Southern man himself who also had a change of heart over the years, created the conditions to allow this game to be played, and therefore change the nature of society through athletics.

End credits roll over images of Martin Luther King saying, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord and the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” plays.

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

From TROJANS ESSENTIAL

 

THE DUKE

 

Before he was an acting legend, John “Duke” Wayne was a USC student named Marion Morrison. He played football for Howard Jones. Wayne's teammate at USC was Ward Bond, who would go on to a long film career.

            Morrison met famed director John Ford, who made him a prop man and liked his rugged film presence enough to cast him in 1928's Hangman's House. Ford later made a football movie about the Naval Academy, Salute, and wanted USC players for it.  Aside from Salute, extravagant Hollywood productions of the era often featured Trojan players in the roles of Roman Legionnaires, Napoleon's Grand Armee, or Biblical flocks. This was prior to the NCAA, and while there was grousing about "professionalism," there never were repercussions.

“It girl” Clara Bow invited USC football players to her parties. This was the kind of extracurricular activity that schools such as Iowa or Duke, where Jones had toiled previously, could not offer.

Duke spoke to the Trojans before the 1966 USC-Texas game,

"The kids are all assembled in the locker room at 10 in the morning, and in walks Wayne,” recalled Nick Pappas. “Damn, he was fantastic. He walks in with this white 20,000-gallon cowboy hat and black suit - he looked just beautiful.”

USC won, 10-6.

Mike Walden was the USC play-by-play announcer, and recalls that 1966 Texas game, and Wayne's unique role in the events of that weekend.

"My first game in 1966 was on the road vs. Texas," said Walden. "There'd be a press gathering in Austin, what they called 'smokers' down there, where everybody got together. Well, Wayne was down there making War Wagon in nearby Mexico, and he shows up with Bruce Cabot.

 " 'I'm gonna have some whisky,' Wayne says to the bartender, who pours it, and Wayne just looks at it, shoved it back, and said, 'I said WHISKY!'

"Texas had a quarterback they called 'Super Bill' Bradley who was supposed to be outstanding, but SC just controlled the ball and won, 10-6. Afterwards, <assistant coach Marv> Goux came in and said wasn't it great, we 'didn't get anybody 'chipped off.' Well, Wayne and Cabot were somewhere, and someone got in an argument the next morning and their make-up artist was dead of a heart attack. It was confusing, I don't know for sure what all happened. Wayne and all of 'em were out drinking all night and came in at seven in the morning, maybe it was too much for this guy, but this make-up artist died.

" 'Well,' Cabot said, 'We got somebody 'chipped off,' after Goux said 'we didn't get anybody 'chipped off.' "

Wayne was an absolute Republican and a superpatriot who made The Green Berets. Wayne's conservatism earned him plenty of critics, but even in 1969, when he won the Oscar for True Grit, Hollywood opened its hearts to him without reservation. Others found him to be a celluloid hero who had not served in wars while real war heroes like Ted Williams were thought to be "the real John Wayne."  

Jeff Prugh, the L.A. Times beat writer for USC football in the 1960s and '70s, recalls a story from that 1966 weekend in Austin.

"Well, there was this one L.A. sportswriter writer whose name shall remain anonymous," said Prugh. "Everyone is gathered at the bar, and John Wayne's holding court. This old writer is off in the corner getting drunker and drunker. He's liberal and Wayne's an outspoken conservative Republican. Finally, this old writer has had enough, and he approaches Wayne, interrupts him in mid-sentence with all Wayne's pals staring at him."

" So… …" the old drunk writer says, "they tell me, uh… … they call ya… The Duke!"

"'Yeah, what of it?" says Wayne.

"This writer just gathers himself," continued Prugh.

"Waaal…Duke… … You ain' s--t!"

"Well, it was almost a full brawl right then and there but his pals held Wayne back," said Prugh.

Craig Fertig was a star quarterback at USC and a graduate assistant in 1966.

"One time, the players wanted to go see Easy Rider," Fertig recalled, referring to a "hippie" movie of the 1960s. "Duke Wayne says, 'Don't let the kids see that crap!' So he arranged for 'em to see War Wagon instead.

"I'm low man on the totem pole in '66, so I gotta chaperone the team and do bed checks. Now McKay's hosting a party for Wayne."

(This contrasts with Nick Pappas' assertion that Wayne and McKay had not met prior to the morning of the next day's game, but considering that alcohol, old alums and memories were involved, the discrepancy is a minor one.)

"I finally put the kids to bed, so I make it up to this party, see," continued Fertig. "I see John Wayne and introduce myself to him, and he's like, 'Oh, I saw you beat Notre Dame,' and he's just like my best friend.

"Well, he has Bruce Cabot with him, and this make-up artist, too. This make-up artist's mixing drinks - vodka one time, Bourbon, scotch, right? He's gettin' hammered.

"The next day, I'm assigned to Duke Wayne, 'cause he's gonna speak to the team. Wayne's mad as hell, 'cause his make-up guys' not there.

" 'Son of a bitch's never around when you need 'im,' he says. It turns out the man's died during the night, maybe 'cause he mixed drinks and it was too much for his heart. Anyway, I gotta get Duke ready, the job this dead make-up guy usually does."

Apparently, Wayne had not yet learned of the make-up artist's demise.

" 'Whadda I wear?' asks Duke. I tell him, 'Everybody knows you as a cowboy, so dress like that.' 10-gallon hat, cowboy boots, brass belt buckle; I got him lookin' good.

"We're scared sh-----s, Texas is number one in the country. So at the stadium he fires up our team. Then he's introduced to the crowd. He comes out and he's in this cart with my dad."

Fertig's father, "Chief" Henry Fertig, was the longtime head of the Huntington Park, California police department in L.A. County, and a tremendous USC booster.

"He's being driven around the stadium in this cart, and the whole time my dad's pouring whisky into a cup and Duke's drinkin' out of it," continued Fertig. "Now, the Texas fans, they see The Duke, and he's wearin' this cowboy hat, and most of 'em don't know he's a USC football player. Duke's givin' 'em the hook 'em horns sign with his fingers, and the Longhorn fans are cheering.

" 'Duke's a Texas fan,' their sayin'.

"All the time, Duke's sayin' to my old man, 'F--k the 'horns.' "

 

THE PRICE OF RESPECT

 

October 1974: so, here are the Oakland A’s. They have won two consecutive World Series, defeating the formidable Big Red Machine and the invincible Tom Seaver. They have beaten Earl Weaver’s Orioles of Palmer, Cuellar and McNally. They have two players (Jackson and Hunter) who are very close to Hall of Fame status already, and a third (Fingers) who has all the earmarks of Cooperstown himself. It would seem that, like other great juggernauts of American sports – the recent repeat national champion football teams at USC, the old Celtics, the Yankees – this would engender for them mythical status, media mega-attention, and respect bordering on outright fear from all opponents.

            All, apparently, except the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 1972, Sparky Anderson’s Reds were amused by Oakland’s uniforms and so worn out by Pittsburgh that they took a lax attitude into the Series; but they respected Oakland. The Dodgers were one arrogant group, like they were baseball; their Taj Mahal stadium, their hallowed traditions, their adoring fans pouring in by the millions, their venerable Vin Scully like a historian describing  Caesar’s triumphs in real time.

            The Dodgers had broken Jackie Robinson into the big leagues, putting themselves squarely on the right side of history. They had been a great team, just shy of dynasty status, in the 1950s. Then they moved to L.A. Owner Walter O’Malley pulled the wool over Giants’ owner Horace Stoneham’s eyes. O’Malley got the warm lands of the SoCal, a population population with room to grow. Stoneham got the fog and bays, topping growth at the water’s edge. O’Malley played at the L.A. Coliseum, a football stadium holding 90,000 paying customers instead of the minor league version of Wrigley Field, holding 22,000. Stoneham got Seals Stadium and their 22,000 seats. Then O’Malley built baseball’s greatest gem, Dodger Stadium, on a hilltop overlooking downtown L.A. Stoneham went to Candlestick Point at 10 in the morning, proclaiming the place suitable because there was room for a parking lot. By 3 P.M. he was cocktailing while the point was under seige from a windstorm that would hem in the First Infantry Division.

            The Giants were good. The Dodgers were always better. When the Giants played bridesmaid, the Koufax-Drsysdale Dodgers were newlyweds in Hollywood, sweeping the New York Yankees, going to three World Series in four years. They were legends of the green plains of Dodger Stadium, a baseball version of Notre Dame in the West, as popular as Trojan football in L.A.

            They had a few down years, but in 1974 Los Angeles knocked the Big Red Machine out of first place in the manner of Wellington over Napoleon. With great pitching, power, speed, and attitude, Los Angeles dominated the league, playing unbeatable ball in April and May then surviving a few rough patches. When Cincinnati came to reclaim the prize they found Dodger Stadium to be their Waterloo. 102 wins. Andy Messersmith, Don Sutton and a kinesiology professor out of the bullpen, Mike Marshall. Marshall was as elitist as the British royal family, claiming to have mastered the physical art of pitching but in a way no ordinary Joe could understand.

            The Infield (the caps are there for a reason): Steve Garvey, Davey Lopes, Ron Cey, and Bill Russell. Jimmie Wynn’s last hurrah: 32 home runs and 108 RBIs in center, with Bill Buckner, a guy who could wake up at New Year’s Eve and hit a line drive (.314) in left.

Oakland? They coasted in at 90-72 in a division nobody else could win. Manager Alvin Dark’s devout Christianity was not seen as a strength with the worldly A’s, and the Hollywood Dodgers definitely were not impressed. Oakland beat Baltimore again, but it was nothing compared with the way Los Angeles schooled Pittsburgh.

The two-time repeat champs all seemingly had off years. Blue won 17 but lost 15. Holtzman was a game shy of 20 wins but only two games better than .500. Jackson started like a house afire but slumped to 29-93-.289.  Guys like Joe Rudi just did not have the swagger that impressed those Dodger boys. It was the infantry against the aviators, The Naked and the Dead vs. Top Gun.  

Lost in the shuffle was Tenace with his 26 homers, Campy at .290, North and his base stealing, the unknown Dick Green making the right sode of th infield an impenetrabl fortress. Bando was supposedly on the way down, except that when nobody was looking he drove in 100 runs, 97 of them key late-inning blows. Rollie Fingers was untouchable.

Then there was Catfish, the Cy Young winner with 25 wins and a 2.49 earned run average. The Dodgers scoffed. They had Messersmith with his high cheese and Sutton with an “Uncle Charley” that started at the mezzanines and finished in those Chavez Ravine dugout seats.

Dodger manager Walter Alston, a class act in the mold of a John Wooden, tried to keep his charges on the straight and narrow, but their soul had beenm lost to third base coach Tommy Lasorda, who managed most of them at Ogden and Spokane. Tommy was a braggart who within a minute of meeting you told you he had Frank Sinatra’s home phone number and a waiting table at some Hollywood eatery with food inedible by Original Joe’s standards. In the manner of his constant “it’s all about me” style, Tommy allowed himself to be hooked up to a microphone when the Series moved to Oakland. He babbled endlessly with third base umpire Ron Luciano, attempting to explain why the “Dodger way” and National League baseball were superior products. Meanwhile, the A’s pounded his boys into submission, therefore proving his thesis wrong just as he was making it.

After splitting two in Tinseltown, the teams came to Oakland. Hollywood’s box office superstars were put off by this location shoot, losing three straight to a superior champion for the ages. Two playes exemplified their hubris. The first was Marshall, the second Buckner.

Marshall had a doctorate from Michigan State University. He was one of those liberal professors  that conservatives always complain about. He was once robbed by some black criminals but refused to tell the police the assailants’ skin color, as if an accurate physical description was immaterial to Politically Correct police work.   He claimed that his studies of kinesiology had taught him that pitchers did not to need rest; rather, they needed to keep pitching. Whether Marshall’s theses were valid or not, baseball people have not picked up on it in the years since, but in his prime Marshall was highly effective being used in this manner. However, his career was not particularly long, perhaps taking something away from his theory.

In 1974, however, he was outstanding. Alston used him in 106 games, pitching him not just to close games, but in mop-up and middle relief, too. He was 15-12, striking out 143 in 208 innings (a number most regular starters do not achieve) with a 2.42 ERA with 21 saves, earning him the Cy Young award.

In game two, Marshall picked the A’s Herb Washington off first base, an embarrassment for Finley (who hired the non-baseball-playing-sprinter strictlyt as a pinch-runner). It saved the 3-2 victory, L.A.’s last hurrah. The Series shifted to the Bay Area. In recent years, Dodger superiority over the Giants was made painfully obvious. Perhaps this regional snobbery made the Dodgers feel they would conquer Oakland as they had their cross-bay National League rivals. Fat chance.

The A’s won games three and four. Oakland was trying to close it out in the fifth game. With the score tied, 2-2, the Oakland fans got rowdy, directing much of their enthusiasm at Dodger left fielder Bill Buckner. A time out was called to let the grounds crfew pick yp touiliet paper and other unpleasntries., The Dodgers observed this in silent contemplation of the fact their upscale fans did not engage in such tomfoolery.

Marshall was in, relieving the great Don Sutton. He stood off to the side, hands on his hips. As if to announce,  “I’m so good I don’t need a warm-up,” he eschewed any tosses, choosing to square off with the clutch Joe Rudi. Rudi obserbved Nmarshall, concludied that without any warm-ups the first pitch waws a fast ball, and guessing just right met it squarely foir a solo home run.

Tariling by a run, Buckner led off the eight with a single. Billy North oled the ball, which went under his glove. Buckner, still an athlete (not th hobble-kneed defensive liabilit of his 1986 Red Sox Series fiasco) went not jusf or second but tried to stretch it to third, breaking the ancient maxim, “Never make the first or third out at third base.” Jackson backed up North, fied ro Green, who fireed to Bando, who tagged out Buckner. It was the end for Los Angeles, and a sad footnote to Buck’s career. A Vallejo native, he retired just shy of 3,000 hits and was one of the game’s veryt best hitters, but histpry shades him in Seriues failure.

Oaklnd became the only non-Yankee team in history to win three straight World Series. 

 

 

 

 

BIN LADEN: THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING

By STEVEN TRAVERS

 

Osama bin Laden has released another tape, and it appears to me that he may not be the world's worst terrorist, but rather an actor hired by the Republican National Committee to promote George Bush's Presidency. At least it sure seems that way. This guy keeps threatening to commit acts of terror on U.S. soil. The thinking American absorbs this knowledge, makes note of the fact that he has failed to do so, then arrives at the conclusion that President Bush has successfully prevented him from so doing, all to our great protection and benefit.

 

Then he offers another truce (he first offered one to the Europeans, now to the U.S.). The thinking American absorbs this knowledge as well, then makes note of the fact that he would not offer a truce unless he was winning the War on Terror. A truce is better for bin Laden than losing the War on Terror. Bin Laden, sitting in a cave with a video camera but no phone, no computer, no command and control, is somewhere between losing the War on Terror and actually having already lost the War on Terror. He offers a truce in order to persuade those without a grasp of the truth to believe he is relevant and has not lost the War on Terror. Conclusion: President Bush has set in motion events that have already resulted in victory, and the fact that it is Total Victory will become apparent in due course.

 

Which leads to some more observations. Machiavelli theorized that people would rather be secure than free. He sold that idea to his patrons. It became an article of faith among despots and dictators, and is the driving force behind the movements that spawned Hitler, Mao, Stalin and Hussein.

 

Along came America, and the notion that security is more important than freedom was debunked, which is of course the rationale for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The U.S. mission, which was to loose the power and good works of democracy and freedom upon the Middle East, is somewhere between accomplished and close to accomplished.

 

Which leads back to bin Laden and the question, What was HE trying to accomplish? Before answering that question, consider history. For lack of a better "person," say that Satan crucified Christ so that Mankind would be his. The opposite happened. Mankind instead had its sins paid for by Christ, thus saving Mankind from Satan.

 

Fast forward to the American Confederacy. They started the Civil War to ensure the continuance of slavery and to secede from the Union. The opposite happened. Slavery ended and the South was made the Union's step-child.

 

Kaiser Wilhelm tried to consolidate Europe and create a trans-Russian Empire in conjunction with the Ottoman Middle East. The opposite happened. Germany was marginalized, Europe fragmented, Russia went Communist, the British Empire allowed to continue just when it appeared ready to dissolve, and the Ottomon Empire ended.

 

Hitler wanted to conquer the world and destroy the Jews. The opposite happened. America, instead of Germany, became the most powerful empire in the history of civilzation, and Israel, in answer to Biblical prophesy, emerged.

 

Back to bin Laden and what he tried to accomplish on 9/11: Bring America to its knees, destroy our way of life, "free" the Middle East from Western influence. Hmm, let's see. On our knees? American came together in a manner not seen since World War II.

 

Our way of life? A month after the World Trade Center attacks capacity crowds were livin' it up at a World Series in Yankee Stadium, which was in fact when the War on Terror was actually won and when bin Laden, upon hearing the news, surely realized that all he tried to do was for nothing (would have LOVED to have seen his face when he saw the images of Giuliani and Bush tossing out the first balls at the Yankee-Diamondback games of '01).

 

"Free" the Middle East from Western influence? Well, having the 101st and 82nd Airborne, the CIA, Navy SEALS, Delta, Special Ops, U.S. diplomats and Halliburton crawling from end one of Afghanistan to the other end of Iraq, with Syria, Iran and Lebanon next on the agenda, all while 70 percent of the Arab population of free will votes in elections that, for all practical purposes, tell the world that they are happy we are there, all add up to one thing:

 

The very polar opposite of every single possible thing that Osama bin Laden wanted to accomplish is what actually was accomplished. Courtesy, as Toby Keith might call it, of the Red, White and Blue.

 

Conclusion of this history lesson: There is good and there is evil. America is on the side of good, and good triumphs over evil. When George Bush exposed the fact that Iraq, Iran and North Korea were the "Axis of Evil," he spoke Truth to Power.  One is either with us or against us. To be against us is to be against the winning side of 2,000 years of history. This is, frankly, not even an argument anymore. In a free world, one can argue against this premise, which leads those with access to facts observing the promotor of that argument and making silent note of the fact that to do so is to be an idiot on the wrong side of history.

 

Res Ipsa Loquituer.

 

BILL KING HAS JUST BEEN ELECTED KING OF THE OTHERWORLDLY BROADCASTER'S WING

 

By STEVEN TRAVERS

 

Bill King is as much a part of my life as my friends and family. I grew up with him. Memories of his words describing uterrly, absolutely fantastic sporting events of the most dramatic nature imaginable are seared into my memory and will remain forever. I can recall like yesterday sitting in the garage listening to him proclaim that "George Blanda has just been elected King of the World" after his field goal to beat Cleveland in 1970.

 

New York sports fans of the 1950s think they enjoyed a "Golden Age." They are not even close to California sports fans of the 1960s to early 1980s, whether it be the Bay Area or L.A.: Raiders, A's, Warriors, Rams, Lakers, USC, UCLA, Dodgers.

 

King was SO MUCH A PART OF THAT!!! Half of Kenny Stabler's legend is because of Bill King. His accomplishments would have been diminshed had anybody else described them. Rick Barry and the Warriors? Words cannot describe the poety of King's motor words, the DETAIL of posting, switching, putting the "bigger man on him," looking for a man who he always decsribed by name. COME ONNN!!!

 

Better than Chick Hearn. Johnny Most? Forget even THINKING about that!

 

The Raiders' home games were not on TV even if sold out. King was better than TV. If they were on the tube, the sound was down and the radio on. He was the single greatest basketball and football announcer in the history of Mankind, and a baseball announcer on par with anybody. I can only think of two people in the sports media I immediately say had his talent and charisma: Vin Scully and Jim Murray.

 

I also compare Lon Simmons to him, as much because both men had class, intellect and outgoing friendship above and beyond the call of duty.

 

My brief professional baseball career was highlighted by one glorious, three-inning, scoreless appearance with the A's in a 1982 big league exhibition game against the Giants at Phoenix Muni on a Saturday. What made it so great was that I later heard from friends who heard my three innings of "glory" on both the A's and Giants broadcasts, described by KING AND SIMMONS!!!!!!

 

HOLY TOLEDO!!!!!!

 

I was a complete unknown and I seriously doubt the media people had much info on me other than my name, physical dimensions, number and position, yet somehow I'm told King was informing the audience that I had pitched at Redwood High. How did he know that?

 

When I was with the San Francisco Examiner, one of my first choices was a column about King. I sought him out at the Coliseum and he gave me time as if I was Red Smth. Total class, total help, totally beautiful human being. Absolute intellegence. What a treat to sit in the A's dugout chatting with BILL KING!!

 

I told him we were neighbors in Marin, and King was asking about me. When I told him I played at Redwood he expressed good knowledge of Redwood sports over the years (Chad Kreuter, BuddyBiancalana) and MCAL teams in general.

 

When the column was published I left a copy in the A's booth and Ken Korach was very grateful that somebody had given King his kudos, as he felt King was not getting his just due. One could see in Korach devotion, love and admiration that cannot be described. So many felt that way.

 

I was in the Bay Area media for one sporadic year. I forget names minutes later. King would recognize me by name and inquire as if my opinion meant something. Apparently it did to him. Everybody's did. Class, man. Pure, unadulterated class!!!!!!

 

In all the years the Raiders played in L.A., I lived there. What a treat to be driving the streets and highways of the Southland accompanied by the soothing, friendly voice of my childhood and adolescense. They were never on TV at home so it was King, and I knew Los Angelenos who had never, ever heard him before who fell in love with him. It was like taking somebody to a great restaurant for the first time and watching them fall in love with it as you had for years prior.

 

If for no other reason God grants Heaven to a human being who brought enormous pleasure to millions of fellow humans, and who treated people as he would have them treat him, who as best I could tell lived by the Golden Rule, well, then, God has just elected Bill King King to the Otherworldly Broadcaster's Wing of Heaven.

 

May God bless and keep Bill King.

SEPTEMBER 1970

TWO TEAMS, ONE NIGHT AND

THE GAME THAT CHANGED A NATION

By STEVEN TRAVERS

 

STEVEN TRAVERS

111 Oak Springs Dr.

San Anselmo, CA 94960-1324

(415) 456-6898

USC STEVE1@aol.com

 

AUTHOR OF "BARRY BONDS: BASEBALL'S SUPERMAN": http://www.sportspublishingllc.com/book.cfm?id=3

 

STEVEN TRAVERS' WEB PAGE:

http://hometown.aol.com/uscsteve1/myhomepage/index.html

 

STEVEN TRAVERS' GOOGLE SEARCH: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=ISO-88591&q=Steven+Travers+AND+USC+AND+Barry+Bonds%3A+Baseball%27s+Superman&btnG=Google+Search

 

AGENT: Craig Wiley/(317) 823-2834

 

ORANGE COUNTIFICATION: THE TRUE STORY OF HOW THE G.O.P. HELPED THE SOUTH RISE AGAIN

 

By STEVEN TRAVERS

 

September 12, 2005 will be the 35th anniversary of the football "game that changed a nation" played between USC and Alabama. This event did not simply integrate the South. Steven Travers, the author of a book about the event, September 1970, explains how it changed the political landscape that is now called "red states" and "blue states."

 

            It is an article of faith among the American Left that black opportunity in the South came about strictly because of their efforts, via the civil rights struggle; and that the Republican Party callously played to racist tendencies in order to take advantage of political opportunity. Even current Republican chairman Ken Mehlman recently went so far as to apologize for Richard Nixon's 1968 "Southern strategy" while speaking before a black audience.   

            In researching my latest book, September 1970, the true story of how the USC-Alabama football game played that year helped end segregation once and for all, I found something entirely different; something to thoroughly refute the liberal revisionism of our history. "McCarthyism," as another example, was based on a real threat of Communist influence, yet the punditry in this country has played it as pure conservative malevolence. The same forces have tried to paint the Right, and its greatest hero, Ronald Reagan, as being somewhere between overtly and covertly racist. This is a lie.

           

Slavery, Lincoln, Reconstruction and Jim Crow

            The United States inherited slavery from England. The sordid practice had thrived among most of civilized Europe and beyond for centuries. The Founding Fathers had a plan, which was to end the importation of slaves. The theory was that the living slaves would eventually die, and with their passing, so too would slavery. In 1808 importation of slaves did end. However, slaveowners often allowed slaves to marry and have children. Thus did succeeding generations of slaves become "Americanized" and "Christianized." Out of Puritanical Christianity in the North did the abolition movement arise, and eventually the issue drove the country into a Civil War.

            This issue also helped give birth to a new party, the Republicans, and propelled Abraham Lincoln into the White House. Lincoln led the Union to victory and declared the Emancipation Proclamation. Within four score and seven years, America, using laws written by Americans, ended a practice that even the Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle had deemed "natural." No foreign power came to our shoes, defeated us, and dictated that we end the practice. Had America not done it, slavery might have existed until the 20th Century. When we ended it, it never came back as legitimate trade between nations.

            After Lincoln's assassination, the Republicans became divided and Reconstruction failed. The Democrats, the shadow party of the Confederacy, took over in the South. A century of "righteous indignation" followed. During this time, the Ku Klux Klan rode roughshod over the black citizenry. Lynchings were common. Few blacks were allowed to vote. Arcane literacy tests and poll taxes were among the nefarious methods used during the Jim Crow era to suppress black civil liberties.

            Up until the 1930s, had Southern blacks been able to vote in demonstrable numbers, they would have voted with the "Party of Lincoln." In that decade, however, the Depression gave rise to an uneasy alliance between President Franklin Roosevelt and Louisiana "kingmakers" Huey and Earl Long. The welfare state created a dependent culture that tilted Northern blacks towards the Democrats. The populist Longs were able to garner black votes in conjunction with manipulation of congressional districts, all the while consolidating power for themselves. Throughout the 1930s, '40s, '50 and '60s, the Democrats held a stranglehold on the South. Eleanor Roosevelt may have complained about Southern prejudice, but there was little effort on the part of Northern Democrats to reform Jim Crow Democrats.

            President Dwight Eisenhower attempted to secure civil rights legislation in the late 1950s, but he was blocked by Southern Democrats, led by Bill Clinton's mentor, Arkansas Senator William Fulbright, and Al Gore's father, Tennessee Senator Albert Gore, Sr. In Alabama, moderate gubernatorial candidate George Wallace lost the 1958 election when he tried to reach out to black voters. The KKK and the official state Democrat Party backed his opponent. After Wallace lost, he vowed "never to be outn------d" again.

            In 1960, few blacks in the South could vote, but nationwide the black vote was evenly split between the G.O.P. and the Democrats. Much of the split mirrored W. E. B. DuBois' "intellectual" wing of black America vs. Booker T. Washington's "conservative" wing. That year, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested and jailed in Birmingham, Alabama. Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon and Democrat candidate John Kennedy were implored to intervene. JFK courageously did just that. Nixon, unfortunately, chose not to, fearing Southern backlash. Retired baseball hero and black icon Jackie Robinson, a friend of Nixon's and a Connecticut Republican, threw his support to Kennedy. Kennedy effectively stole the election, but Nixon's failure to come to King's aid effected not just that campaign but future campaigns. While the 1960 black vote in Texas was suppressed enough to render it impotent, it very well might have swung Nixon's way in Illinois, where the "dead man's vote" in Cook County was used to steer just enough electorals to JFK to give him the election.

            President Kennedy did little in the way of civil rights from 1961-63, engendering frustration from King and others who felt his New Frontier policies would bring more. To JFK's credit, he did stand up to Democrat Governor Ross Barnett during the James Meredith enrollment at the University of Mississippi, and he did defy Democrat Governor Wallace (who had lived up to his promise not to be "outn------d again") when black students enrolled at the University of Alabama a year later. To his further credit, Kennedy historians are confident that had he not been assassinated, he would have proceeded with civil rights legislation in his second term. Attorney General Robert Kennedy has been iconized as a hero of the civil rights movement, but under Lyndon Johnson he authorized Watergate-style buggings of Dr. King, because he had some Communists in his organization. These buggings revealed King to be a womanizer and less morally upright than his sainted image would have many believe.

            In 1964, Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater failed to back Johnson's proposed Civil Rights Act. Texas G.O.P. Senate candidate George H.W. Bush also failed to endorse the legislation in his losing campaign vs. Ralph Yarborough. However, when Johnson's monumental bills came before Congress in 1964 and '65, Southern Democrats voted against it as a bloc constituency. Republicans stepped up and gave it their majority, pushing the bills into law. Rightfully, Johnson deserves and took credit for the leadership he exhibited.

 

The "Southern Strategy"

            In 1964, Goldwater captured the Republican presidential nomination over New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller on the strength of his popularity in Orange County, California. Orange County, an L.A. suburb located just south of the city, was the home to Disneyland, great athletes, world class strands, and the beautiful "California Girls" of Beach Boys fame. It was filled with wealth and was predominantly white, but the folks were (and still are) too tanned, too good-looking, too laid-back in a surfer kind of way to give themselves to virulent racism. It was "the OC" and its surrounding environs - the L.A. suburbs, the Navy town of San Diego, and the Imperial Empire - that gave Goldwater the electoral prize of California which he needed to win. It was a paradigm shift in American politics, but few saw it at the time. By 1966, America was becoming divided by the Vietnam War. That year, two Republican political figures whose bases were strongest in Orange County emerged.

Richard Nixon, born in Yorba Linda, was now seen as less "extreme" than Goldwater but more conservative than Rockefeller. He campaigned relentlessly on behalf of G.O.P. candidates, helping the party make enormous gains in that year's midterms. This helped him capture the Republican nomination in 1968.

Ronald Reagan was a Midwesterner but he embodied the John Birch conservatism of Orange County: stridently anti-Communist, a small government advocate, but racially moderate. Reagan had made a famous speech at the 1964 convention in San Francisco that propelled him into the national consciousness. In 1966 he defeated Pat Brown for Governor of California. Reagan was a law 'n' order man who vowed to take a hard line against campus protesters at Berkeley and other California colleges, where Communist agitators were stirring opposition against the Vietnam War.

 

The Shakespearean ironies that surrounded the lives of Nixon, John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Teddy Kennedy, were never more at play than in 1968. RFK most likely would have been elected president had he not been assassinated in Los Angeles that June.

The general election pitted Nixon against Democrat Vice-President Hubert Humphrey and Wallace, who departed from the Democrats to run as an independent. It was a close election, but whether Humphrey could have defeated Nixon without Wallace in the race is debatable. What is not debatable is that Nixon made the most of the opportunity Wallace provided. The South had been almost 100 percent Democrat since the Civil War. Not even Eisenhower had won there! But conservative, anti-Communist, Christian Dixie favored victory in Vietnam without appeasement of the hippie elements on America's campuses. In this regard, the liberal Humphrey was decidedly out of favor.

Wallace drew conservative Democrats away from Humphrey, depriving the party of their traditional base. Mehlman, along with liberals over the years, advocated the idea that Nixon played to pro-segregationist tendencies. This is not entirely true. Nixon indeed did advocate "states' rights," which in Dixie was code for "segregation now, segregation forever," as Wallace had thundered on 'Bama's schoolhouse steps in 1963. But states' rights meant far more than that, and had been (and continues to be) a Republican mantra that stands for local control over issues as wide-ranging as abortion, education and taxation.

The buttoned-down Nixon had not grown up amid Orange County wealth. He had been, like many in the South, dirt poor and given to hard work. He had attended law school not at Harvard or USC, but at Duke, which had just opened for business. He was so poor he had subsisted in a janitor's shed, studying like Lincoln by candle or flashlight. In the 1930s, Nixon had engaged in long philosophical discussions with his Southern classmates over the race issue. Nixon held firm to his Quaker beliefs in man's inalienable right to be free, in body and spirit, but maintained a laywerly collegiality with his peers that kept the discussions on a gentlemen's level. There was palatability to Nixon that endeared him to his fellow law students.

The admiration they felt over his steadfast work ethic and debating skills foreshadowed the Southern sensibilities towards Nixon in 1968. Nixon held a big lead in the polls and saw Humphrey make a big run late, based on reports over possible withdrawal from Vietnam, but in the end he was California's first president.

Shortly after his election, Nixon consolidated his Southern base when he attended a Billy Graham "Crusade" at a Southern football stadium. The liberal media either ignored it or chastised him for pandering without regard for the wall between church and state. But Nixon's friendship with Graham, cemented by his Christian faith, rang true in the Bible Belt.            

 

The Turning of the Tide

            Nixon loved football. Reagan, of course, had risen to fame playing the role of a famous football player in Knute Rockne, All-American. The denizens of the American South are steadfast churchgoers who love the Lord Jesus Christ, but football is also religion in Dixieland. In the 1960s, pro sports had barely made a dent in the South, where their pride and joy were their college football teams. None was more loved than the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. By 1970, coach Paul "Bear" Bryant literally walked on water - at least according to Coca-Cola billboards on the highway outside Birmingham!

            "The South had a chip on its shoulder," explained writer Keith Dunnavant, the author of a Bryant biography. "What Bryant brought to the region was excellence. In a region in which people felt inferior, or were made to feel inferior, because of the race issue and other social factors, here was a man who was the best on a national level. You can't underestimate what he meant to people." 

            In 1970, Bryant's segregated Alabama squad hosted the integrated University of Southern California Trojans at Birmingham's Legion Field. A black running back named Sam "Bam" Cunningham earned his nickname in a huge 42-21 stomping of the Tide. That game has been mythologized into the single event in which the performance of the Trojans' great black stars cowed the white fans into forcing integration.

"Alabama welcomed back into the Union," read Jim Murray's L.A. Times column the next day. Integration did indeed follow up on the heels of this game, with the result being not just another decade of 'Bama grid dominance but the opening of social doors for blacks from Texas to Florida.

            However, the event was part of a larger political context, involving Wallace, Nixon, Reagan…and Bryant, who has been portrayed as kicking and screaming into a new world he never wanted to see happen. Nothing could be further from the truth! The truth is, Bear Bryant orchestrated the events of September 12, 1970, and everything came down according to his master plan. In analyzing this, one sees parallels with the Republican Party's successful husbanding of the South into the mainstream of American politics.   

 

Dr. King had been killed in April of 1968. Bobby Kennedy was shot in June. The civil rights movement lost its moorings, and between 1968 and 1970 had morphed into violent militancy with little resemblance to Dr. King's "dream." White Americans were afraid of it. They saw the Oakland, California-based Black Panthers, leather clad, gun-toting black youth with rebellious Afro hairstyles. They saw scary Black Muslims who had veered from Malcolm X's epiphany of brotherhood. They heard the voices of Eldredge Cleaver, Bobby Seale, Huey Newton and Stokely Carmichael advocating violence. It would spawn liberal "armies" like the Weathermen and the SLA, dedicated to "bringing it all down, man."

The "New Breed" of black society demanded "justice," and it was that way on the athletic field, too. Bob Gibson and the St. Louis Cardinals, a mixed team of talented blacks, Latinos and whites, had defeated the mostly-white, country club Yankees in the 1964 World Series, an accurate metaphor for the changing America of that year. But whites wanted incremental change, not violent overthrow. The inherent sense of justice and fair play that lies at the heart of the American ideal tolerated rights for the long-suffering black citizenry, but did not tolerate the demands of anger and militancy. It was this sense of moderation, politically embodied by Nixon and later Reagan, which appealed to the South.

It was this approach that Bryant took. No endeavor embodies fair play more than sports, an egalitarian occupation in which performance is earned and easily measured, not doled out like patronage. Sports had flowered more so in America than any other country, and it is not coincidence. Sports, as former L.A. Times sportswriter Jeff Prugh, who covered the USC-Alabama game, says "is the cement mixer of society." Indeed it had previously been the door through which Jewish and black boxers had walked through on their way to better lives. It had given blacks a chance to shine in the Olympics (Jesse Owens in 1936) and, after Jackie Robinson had broken baseball's color barrier in 1947, it had provided further professional opportunities to blacks and other minorities in the team sports. When integration finally came to the "white" colleges in the South, it changed hearts and minds.

"My brothers were not racists," says Dunnavant, "but I started school in 1971, which by that time was integrated. As a big 'Bama fan, the difference is that by then my heroes were <black stars> Ozzie Newsome and Wilbur Jackson. My brothers never had black heroes to root for. This had a profound effect on me."

 

Bear Bryant's critics maintained that he was at least a product of his racist geographic background. In truth, his poor youth had inculcated him with a sense of charity towards the less well off. He was also worldly; he befriended (and almost was thrown in jail for a petty offense with) a black friend as a youth, had played at 'Bama, managed a blues band, served in the Navy, and coached at Maryland, Kentucky and Texas A&M prior to taking the 'Bama job. He cultivated friendships with coaches and colleagues from one end of the Fruited Plain to another. Bryant traveled extensively to coaching clinics and golf tournaments in the off-seasons.

 He had taken on the segregationist establishment by accepting a 1959 Liberty Bowl invitation against an integrated Penn State team. He understood the power of George Wallace and was smart enough to know when to pick his fights; in fact, he made his fights look like opportunity to those who otherwise would resist.  By 1970, Wallace had moderated somewhat in order to broaden his national appeal, and Bryant's success had given him the imprimatur of a legend. Furthermore, in 1966 the Tide had been denied a third straight national championship when the Catholic vote went to Notre Dame, ostensibly a reaction to Alabama's all white team. After a sub-par 1969 season, Alabama fans knew that change had to occur in order to stay competitive nationally with integrated powers like Southern California, Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State.

In 1956, USC had thoroughly beaten Texas at Austin behind a black running back named C.R. Roberts, and 10 years later ex-Trojan football player John Wayne saw his integrated alma mater again beat the segregated Longhorns in their stadium. These games could have had the effect of the 1970 USC-Alabama game. They did not. It was Bryant who understood these kinds of things, and he sensed that now - finally - the time was right.

What is not known is that, while Bryant did not plan to lose to USC, he understood that he might, and had a contingency plan to turn "lemons into lemonade." He had already recruited a black star named Wilbur Jackson and "stole" another black JC product, John Mitchell, out from under USC coach John McKay. He needed to create an atmosphere that would be amenable to these black players and those who would follow.

McKay was Bryant's close friend. He was a quipster; a cigar-chomping Catholic from West Virginia who shared a love of whisky and duck hunting with Bear.

"Dad was conservative," said McKay's son, J.K., who starred at USC and played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, "but he was totally race neutral."

"USC provided more opportunities for black athletes," McKay said in one of his last interviews, in 2000 (he died in 2001), "than any other school in the 1960s, yet liberal colleges like Stanford, who were trying to tell everybody how to live, were criticizing us, sometimes with vile, foul racial epithets coming from their supposedly 'enlightened' student rooting section."

 

The truth is, Bryant was a Lincolnesque figure who fought forces both allied with him and arrayed against him to bring about social change. McKay was a football Moses of progressivism, but he (like Nixon and Reagan) was palatable to Alabamians, by virtue of his friendship with Bryant, the classy, excellent program he ran (USC had won two national titles, had two undefeated teams, won three Rose Bowls and two Heisman Trophies in the 1960s), and the conduct of his players. Cunningham in particular has been described by ex-teammates as a Christian man of uncommon maturity and leadership skills at a young age. 

It can be argued that USC, as opposed to almost any other school, was the "perfect" visiting team in this tale of near-Biblical effect. They played a big part in parting the Red Sea of segregation, which would allow this nation to be the Promised Land of not just some but all.

 

Orange Countification

            "All I can say," says Wilbur Jackson, the first recruited black football player in 'Bama history, "is that I entered school a scared freshman in 1970, not sure what would happen. I left as captain of the team. We had eight black players voting that year, so obviously I had the respect of my white teammates. If I'd had a bad experience, I would not have sent my daughter there. We recently had a re-union of the 1973 team, and it was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life."

            John Mitchell and Sylvester Croom would go on to become assistant coaches under Bryant (who hired well ahead of "schedule"), and they echo the sentiment of all the black players and coaches associated with Bear: had he been racist, over the course of many years, it would have shown up.

            "Nobody's that good an actor," said Croom, now the head coach at Mississippi State. It never did.

            The magic of America is that social change that takes decades, even centuries, in other countries, happens with Godspeed here. Thus was the transformation of the modern South. The true irony is that the liberals who had fought for civil rights through protest and marches in the 1960s, and would naturally have assumed that when the time came would have benefited from its success, did not see this. Instead, the conservatives were viewed as having husbanded the region into the mainstream, and they have reaped the electoral rewards.

            "We just handed the South to the Republicans," President Johnson told an aide after signing the 1965 Civil Rights Act. Despite Ken Mehlman's wrongful mea culpa, and liberal revisionism, the Republicans are deserving of credit, having used Lincolnian approaches, much like Bryant, to moderate the shock of racial integration. Certainly, history provides a kind assessment, in that the South rose again in college athletics, economically, saw population explosions, a dynamic business and housing environment, expansion of major sports franchises into the region, hosted Super Bowls and the Olympics; all the while seamlessly incorporating not just black opportunity, but black political leadership, especially in its cities. 

            Dr. King had chosen to inculcate the civil rights movement with Christian phraseology because he knew that the power of His religion would ultimately soften the hearts of Southern whites. It was this softening that was at the heart of Nixon's Christian partnership with Graham, and is seen today as the nexus of the "moral values" that voters said drove their choice of George W. Bush over John Kerry. It was the palatability of 1960s California conservatism moderated by Christianity that created the "Orange Countification" of the South.

            This political phenomenon had played out over a period of decades, but in analyzing the South one finds almost scientific "proof" that conservatism and Christianity are the "winning ideology" of 2,000 years of history. For years, modern amenities did not exist in much of the South. People were often backwards, uneducated; "hillbillies" of the Deliverance stereotype.

            The creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority and like works projects brought electricity and conveniences to the region. Air conditioning made it easier to do business in the summer time. Eventually, cable TV, talk radio, the Internet and the Information Superhighway created a world in which people who lived in outlying rural areas had access to knowledge.

            Despite modernity, residents continued to put their faith in a religion that had existed for 2,000 years. But the point is really quite simple. In all the years in which Southerners actually were ignorant and uneducated, they:

 

1              Were racist.

2              Voted Democrat.

 

In all the years in which Southerners gained access to knowledge and became

educated, they:

 

·      Are no longer racists.

·      Vote Republican.

 

Res ipsa loquiter, or as Jesus says in the Gospel According to John, "The Truth will set you free."

           

The South had despised liberal perfidy over Vietnam, viewing the Democrats as a party that had been hijacked by the Jane Fonda wing of the Democrat party. Ronald Reagan was popular there, and expanded the Republican base in the 1980s, not just in terms of his own campaign victories, but in the escalation of G.O.P. House and Senate representation in the region. In 2004, history did not repeat, it all but rhymed, when the Fonda role was taken over by Michael Moore. Southern response, as well as much of the rest of the nation's response, was to repulse the party that embraced Moore and take the advice of a Boston policeman directing delegates outside the Democratic National Convention: "Go forth and vote Republican."

 

Steven Travers is also the author of Barry Bonds: Baseball's Superman. He can be reached at USCSTEVE1@aol.com or at (415) 455-5971.

           

           

             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"September 1970: Two Teams, One Night and the Game That Changed A Nation" is a book that is already written. It captures all the best elements of what makes a great read - history, both as told by the actual participants who made that history, and by a historian who possesses the skills to analyze the effects of that history. Furthermore, this book fits into almost every "niche" that bookseller's will try to place it in. It will be of great interest to the national football fan bases of the University of Southern California and the University of Alabama; sports fans in the West and the South; and fans across the Fruited Plain. It is, however, much more than a sports book. It is a book about America, and how, as Abraham Lincoln called them, "the better angels of our nature" allowed a divided nation to come together 100 years after the Civil War. This is a book that is not just about football and racism. It contains all the elements of great storytelling that push great drama, written in both in the novelistic, narrative style of Tom Wolfe, but also in the first-person "Other Voices" style of the men who made it happen. It is a tale of how events surrounding a single football game crystallized the successful works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., two years after his murder. Therefore, it will be an impossible-to-putdown read for proud African-Americans seeking to find meaning in society; for white Americans interested in seeing how their country made the choice to be on the right side of history; and for international readers who wish to know the heart and soul of our great nation. 

 

 

 

CONCEPT

 

In September of 1970, a black USC sophomore running back from Santa Barbara, California named Sam "Bam" Cunningham, in the words of the late USC assistant coach Marv Goux, "did more to integrate the South in three hours than Martin Luther King did in 20 years."

The University of Southern California Trojans football team, led by legendary coach John McKay, traveled to Birmingham, Alabama to do battle with the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, led by even more-legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. The game was played at the venerable Legion Field on a sweltering hot late summer night. A capacity crowd was on hand to watch two of college football's all-time greatest football programs play each other, at a time in which the Trojans were at the height of their glory, and the Tide was ever-so-slightly on the downgrade.

Normally, this event would not have been any more significant than other major inter-sectional confrontations, such as Notre Dame tackling Michigan, UCLA sparring with Ohio State, or Oklahoma taking on Penn State. So why did Sports Illustrated rank it the sixth most important sporting event of the 20th Century? Why are College Sports Television, ESPN and Fox Sports preparing to make a documentary about it? Why do the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the L.A. Daily News and the Orange County Register still write about it to this day? Why did famed L.A. Times sports columnist Jim Murray write at the time that the event ushered the state of Alabama back "into the Union"? Why is the Hollywood Reporter coming out with articles about how this game will be depicted in a movie and that a director is already attached? Finally, why would this be a Best Selling book?

Because "September 1970" is a feel-good story about how American sports transcends societal differences, and therefore it shall reach that elusive audience of readers who want to be informed, who want to learn something they did not know, who want answers to societies' most vexing problems. Therefore, we have the potential for a book that will not just be bought in stores, but will be required reading in schools. It is a blueprint for how America can do better by combining two of the great philosophies of Western civilization, Platonic justice and Christian love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MARKETPLACE

There exists an enormous, institutional base of readers who will be attracted to "September 1970" like a moth to a flame. Let us start with the University of Southern California.

A book about USC's football history could not come at a better time. First, USC's two greatest historians, Jim Murray and Mal Florence, have passed away, leaving a void when it comes to the telling of their storied traditions. 

USC is as "golden" as any college football team has probably ever been. Head coach Pete Carroll is a hero in L.A. In 2002, he led the Trojans to an Orange Bowl victory while quarterback Carson Palmer garnered the Heisman Trophy. In 2003 he took Southern California all the way to the Promised Land, their first National Championship since 1978. His 2004 Trojans achieved a rare "re-Pete," the first back-to-back National Championship since 1995. The 2005 Trojans, ranked consensus number one in every pre-season poll, offer the potential to be the "greatest college football team of all time," and the 2006 USC Trojans will be going after Oklahoma's all-time record 47-game winning streak.

Carroll, who is quoted saying that "Steve Travers is the next great USC historian, in the tradition of Jim Murray, Mal Florence and John Hall," and is an old acquaintance who attended the same suburban California high school, has already offered the author carte blanche  access to the team, promising to hold a book signing at the USC practice field and to help promote the project in any way he can.

USC is located in the second greatest media market in the world, the center of attention and the talk of legions of loyal fans and alumni who are spread throughout not just America but the world. With no pro football in L.A., they are selling out 90,000 fans to all their games at the Coliseum and are the hottest ticket the region has ever seen. USC fans cannot get enough when it comes to their school, and 2005 is the 35-year anniversary of the game!

"September 1970" will be sold in block quantity to the SC bookstore, alumni association, fan clubs and web sites. The University has great experience marketing itself, especially in football, where they have successfully promoted six Heisman Trophy winners.

The University of Alabama, incredibly, may be more enthusiastic about their Crimson Tide than USC fans feel about their Trojans. They will buy this book because it will be a source of pride for them, describing not how they changed because of protest, political pressure and the righteous indignation of meddling Northerners, but rather because they looked to a leader, Bear Bryant, who told them what was obvious to them was true, and that this truth could only lead to a change of heart from within. Travers, after extensive research and interviews with the men who knew Bryant the best, concludes that Bryant is a Lincolnesque figure who helped usher integration into Southern sports in the best way possible. He emerges as a heroic figure of the civil rights movement, while his counterpart, USC coach John McKay, is found to be a veritable Moses of progressivism when it came to providing opportunities for black football players.

There is term that is given to a sports book that goes beyond the playing field, teaching stories about life and history, and at the same time informing people with "the rest of the story" - news they previously did not know about famous people. The term is Best Seller!

Hollywood already has come calling. Denzel Washington has expressed interest. Ron Howard and Brian Grazer (both USC graduates) of Imagine Entertainment are reading it. ABC is interested in a TV movie. Various film agents have requested copies. Hollywood is dominated by graduates of its world-famous film school (where Travers studied from 1982-83), giving a film about the school a decided edge and extra attention.

Former USC football player Allan Graf, a longtime second unit director who is considered the leading cinematographer/editor of football movies (his credits include "Any Given Sunday" and "Friday Night Lights") is currently working with Travers, and is close to making a deal with Disney.

The academic community, the historians and the curious are all potential buyers, too. It will be appealing to young and old alike with its timeless message of equality. It will bring black and white together. It contains the most appealing elements of the liberal 1960s and the conservative ethos that often put into practice what previously seemed to be Utopian ideals. The author posits in this book a theory he calls the "Orange Countification" of the South. The nexus of this theory is based on positive Southern reaction to two California Republican politicians, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Their base was most solid in the Orange County suburbs where anti-Communism was popular but racism was not. Nixon, in particular, worked a tightrope act called the "Southern strategy" to woo enough of George Wallace's voters into his corner to win the 1968 Presidential election. This book helps explain how the South could go from all-Democrat in the 1960s to all-Republican in the 2000s. 

Travers worked closely for five months with two major participants of the story, former USC linebacker John Papadakis and fullback Sam Cunningham. This book also includes first-person "Other Voices" interviews by the men who lived and observed it up close. These include upwards of 50 ex-USC and Alabama players, coaches, media members, academics and historians. Individual chapters will be devoted to Travers' telling of the tale in the "New Journalism" style of Tom Wolfe. It is a book with many historical, societal and political implications, telling the larger story of a changing America - and author Steven Travers is just the right writer to weave these implication into the book with the perfect mixture of pathos and sporting flair. He intersperces it with first person accounts of all the participants, who have already been interviewed and chronicled by the author!

Being an ex-professional athlete himself, Travers bonded with the ex-jocks he called upon, giving him the freedom to push them beyond the recounting of a simple football game. Instead, he challenged them to analyze the history they made; the political ramifications, racial and social aftermath, and the religious convictions of whites and blacks, Northern and Southern, USC and Alabama. The result is a fascinating mirror of American society, then and now. The way different kinds of people see the same thing is a telling educational experience!    

Because the author had the full cooperation of all the participants, the book will contain numerous wonderful photos that will look like nothing less than a snapshot of a unique time and place in U.S. history. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMPETITION

There has never been a book quite like "September 1970". However, this book picks up on the popularity and general theme that turned the 2000 film "Remember the Titans" into a huge hit. Obviously, there have been many books about sports, and many books about society. Few, however, have been able to make the connection between the two. One that did was David Halberstam's "October 1964", which described the two World Series teams that year as mirrors of a changing country.

The St. Louis Cardinals were a young, aggressive and diverse group of whites, blacks and Latinos. They looked like the Democrats. The New York Yankees were a veteran, mostly-white team of tradition and Wall Street polish. They were the Republicans. The Cardinals' victory foreshadowed a time of change in America, and the return of the Yankees more than a decade later mirrored the Reagan Revolution.

So, too, did the 1970 USC Trojans and the Alabama Crimson Tide reflect their environments. The Trojans were a unique combination of California Beach Boys and militant Black Panthers - glamorous, attractive and a little scary. The Tide represented the New South - respectful towards their elders' traditions, but with longer hair and youthful awareness of the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, and the world they would soon inherit.

Other books and movies that combined the themes of sports and sociology include "Friday Night Lights", "North Dallas Forty", "Ball Four" and "Semi-Tough".

 

THE BOOK

Individual chapters resonate "in the voice of" the 40 men Travers interviewed, each of whom lived the experiences of "September 1970". They have unique takes on what happened, based on their life experiences and worldview. Other chapters will record the historical analysis of Steven Travers, who has the ability to separate the emotion of the participants from the larger picture. Sam Cunningham has said that it took years before he realized that what he had done had such a huge impact on so many people.

The overall theme of the book is upbeat, drawing on the good works of Plato and Jesus, so important in shaping the American creed that Dr. King had for so long urged the country to live up to. The book does not attempt to browbeat Southerners for their long history of bigotry. An example of how this book will approach the subject might be found in the 1997 Steven Spielberg film "Amistad." That film depicted how Africans were captured and put on a Spanish slave ship en route for Cuba. The Africans broke free, killed most of the crew, and were found drifting off of American waters. They came into American custody.

They were put on trial in the U.S. for murdering the crew, but their defense was that they acted out of self-defense in an effort to achieve freedom and return to their homeland, acts that were said to be justifiable under the circumstances. The defense worked, they were declared "not guilty," and were returned to their homeland eventually.

Despite the fact that the film depicted racism, bigotry and the evils of slavery, as practiced on American soil by Americans, the story nevertheless left the thoughtful viewer with a sense of patriotism. How could this be? The answer to that question is that the story tells how in America justice was done. It was done by Americans, using laws written by Americans, and carried out by Americans. No foreign power came to America, defeated America, and forced "justice" on Americans. America is where slavery came to die! Travers, in studying history, determines that America's unique greatness lies in part in the fact that social movements that take years, decades, even centuries throughout history in other countries, occur, by conmrast, with lightning speed in America.

The same applies to the story of de-segregation in the South. Sports columnist Jim Murray put it best in the Sunday, September 13, 1970 edition of the L.A. Times, brilliantly headlined "Hatred Shut Out as Alabama Finally Joins the Union":

"OK, you can put another star in the Flag.

"…the state of Alabama joined the Union. They raitified the Constitution, signed the Bill of Rights. They have struck the Stars and Bars. They now hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal in the eyes of the creator.

"Our newest state took the field against a mixed bag of hostile black and white American citizens without police dogs, tear gas, rubber hoses or fire hoses. They struggled fairly without the aid of their formidable ally, Jim Crow.

"Bigotry wasn't suited up for a change. Prejudice got cut from the squad. Will you all please stand and welcome the sovereign state of Alabama to the United States of America? It was a long time coming, but we always knew we'd be 50 states strong some day, didn't we? Now, we can get on with it. So chew a carpet, George Wallace…Get out of our way. We're trying to build a country to form a democracy.

"The game? Shucks, it was just a game. You've seen one, you've seen 'em all…Hatred got shut out, that's the point. Ignorance got shut out, that's the point. Ignorance fumbled on the goal line. Stupidity never got to the line of scrimmage. The big lie got tackled in the end zone."

 

Murray would go on to write that the previous time he had been in Alabama, the only black man in the stadium was carrying towels, but that "a man named Martin Luther King" thought that if you paid for a seat on the bus, one ought to be able to sit in it, but that the only thing white folks in the state cared about was "beating Georgia Tech…".

Murray pointed out that the citizens of Alabama took their football so seriously that they realized that if they wanted to play in the big time, it would require integration. Otherwise, instead of invites to all the best bowl games, they would continue to be relegated to the Bluebonnet Bowl.

"And," wrote Murray, "if I know football coaches, you won't be able to tell Alabama by the color of their skin much longer. You'll need a program just like the Big 10. Grambling may be in for a helluva recruitment any year now."

He was prescient, but remarkably few others were. Murray recognized what Coach Bryant was trying to do, something even the likes of McKay, Marv Goux and the fans in the stands did not fully understand.

"I had no idea what had really happened at the time," Cunningham says.

The author has a potential cover of the book already, which is a shot of the stadium from the press box, the Crimson colors of the partisan night time crowd dotting the stands, while a silhoutted shadow of young football players, obviously the modern, "new breed" of football player, overshadows the event. Other ideas could include a montage of people and symbols: Cunningham, Bryant, the Confederate flag and the American flag.

"September 1970" has been fully and completely legally vetted and documented using the respected Chicago Manual of Style.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FRONT AND BACK DUSTOVERS

 

September 1970. In the words of legendary Los Angeles Times sports columnist Jim Murray, a group of "hostile black and white American citizens" invaded Birmingham, Alabama to do battle against an equally hostile group of white American citizens. The event could have gone either way. A riot could have ensued. Blood could have been spilled.

The battle did not take place at the Edmund Pettis Bridge. Bull Connor did not preside over the scene. George Wallace did not stand in the way. Instead of a riot, a fairly played football game took place between the University of Southern California Trojans and the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, on a sweltering hot night at the venerable Legion Field.

The Good Lord, as they say, works in mysterious ways. He picks ordinary, often flawed people, among them sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors and adulterers, to be his prophets and disciples. This book tells the story of how the Greek ideals of Platonic justice combined with Christian righteousness effectuated the only real change that ever matters, a change of heart, on an entire region - the South - allowing America to come together as only she can, more than a century after the Civil War. After years of protests, speeches and demonstrations, a tipping point was reached, spearheaded by a young football player from California named Sam "Bam" Cunningham. Cunningham on this day would be God's vessel.

This is the story of how one game finally ended segregation in the South once and for all. It is the story of how suspicious white and black USC teammates became a family of warriors, and how the team they defeated helped their fans to finally rise to the moral righteousness their Bibles had taught them since childhood. Thus, the power of Christianity was the impetus for the Deep South to pay heed to what Abraham Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature" and, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to "live up to its creed that all people are created equal." 

The 1970 season played out without great success for either team, but in the succeeding years, USC and Alabama dominated college football. The Republican party husbanded the South into the mainstream of our political system. Cunningham would become a Pro Bowler with the New England Patriots. The game was all-but forgotten, its impact understood only by those who dig deep for such nuggets of Americana. Now, the story is this book, a proposed documentary, and a film in development. The story explains more succinctly the country we live in than any other tale told by columnists or know-it-all "talking heads." This is the story of Truth and the redemptive powers of change.

This work brings you into the locker room where Coach Bryant (allegedly) declared to his beaten team that Cunningham was "what a football player looks like." It tells the story behind this mythological statement, shedding, perhaps for the first time, the truth behind what actually happened that evening. It describes the "new breed" of black athletes influenced by the militancy of the Vietnam era. The entire story - the history that preceded it, the machinations that surrounded it, and the sea change that occurred after it - are tied together through the research and writing of historian Steven Travers, himself a USC graduate whose unique love for his school's legacy shines forth in this monumental book. Travers successfully links Greek ideals and Christian love to modern America, demonstrating that desegregation was not a unique movement, but the result of centuries of philosophical evolution. This work, which combines theology and philosophy using the Socratic method of questioning, tackles the monumental task of exploring the nature of good and evil as it affects the ordinary decisions of men. Travers is also the last journalist to have interviewed deceased former USC coaches John McKay and Marv Goux before they passed away. The captured memories of these events shed great light on this story.

"September 1970", written in the tradition of David Halberstam's "October 1964", is viewed through the prism of football as a metaphor for a changing America. The game played in September of 1970 was a seminal moment in which liberalism and conservatism came together, in many ways the last time this has happened. The winner was America. Travers demonstrates in this work how the events of that month explain much of what we now know about "red staves" vs. "blue states." He also goes to great pains to give a fair, balanced journalistic account of history, giving appropriate attention to both the USC and Alabama (or Northern vs. Southern) sides of this great event, and its aftermath.

 

DYNASTY!

 

By STEVEN TRAVERS

 

            In 2000, the sports media tackled all the various "greatest of the century" stories. ESPN announced that Michael Jordan was the greatest athlete of the 20th Century. Long Beach Poly High School was named "High School of the Century." The University of Southern California earned its share of accolades, as well. They garnered "Baseball Program of the Century," and coach Rod Dedeaux was named "Baseball Coach of the Century," in polling conducted by Baseball America. The NCAA said USC was the "Athletic Department of the Century."

            However, it was still felt that the greatest historical football program of the century was still USC's biggest rival, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. In January of 2000, the Trojans were in a slump; a slump that had begun in 1983. For years they had held firmly to the number two position behind Notre Dame in a "battle of traditions" with the other great powers, the University of Alabama and Oklahoma University.

            In December of 2000, USC hired Pete Carroll, considered a cast-off of the NFL after being fired by the Jets and the Patriots. His hiring was met by little enthusiasm, and athletic director Mike Garrett's job was rumored to be in jeopardy.

            Carroll was not on USC's "short list." He was interviewed only after several "better" candidates turned down what once had been the premiere job in college football. He approached Garrett himself, eager to coach at a school in which his daughter was already on the volleyball team; his father-in-law was an alum; and he had rooted for John McKay's Trojans as a suburban California teenager.

            In 2001, Carroll's team started 2-5, including a loss at Notre Dame, but they finished the regular season on a high note, shutting out UCLA, 20-0. Carroll's 6-6 rookie season as the Trojan head man was considered a slight improvement. At least they went to a bowl game. This was indicative of how far the Trojan Empire had fallen.

            What has occurred over the next four years, however, is unprecedented. The University of Southern California has won two straight National Championships, had two quarterbacks win the Heisman Trophy, one has been selected number one in the NFL draft, they are riding a 22-game winning streak, and are 33-1 since October, 2002. They have been ranked number one for 16 weeks, going back to 2003, and enter the 2005 campaign still ranked number one, favored to win a third straight National Championship.

This year's team is considered a contender for the title "greatest college football team of all time." If they run the table, by season's end the Trojans could have a 35-game winning streak. No team in history has ever won three consecutive national titles. They are looking at their third Heisman winner (quarterback Matt Leinart or running back Reggie Bush), five Heisman finalists (Carson Palmer, Leinart and Bush twice), and two NFL number one picks (Palmer, plus Leinart or Bush), all in four years. They would enter the 2006 campaign one undefeated regular season away from Oklahoma's all-time record 47-game winning streak.

Considering that Carroll has presided over the best national recruiting class in the nation the past four years, and that both of their back-up quarterbacks (John David Booty and Mark Sanchez) were at one time considered the best high school signal-callers in the nation, the possibility exists that Coach Carroll could be winning National Championships and extending winning streaks at least until the senior year of current incoming freshman quarterback Sanchez in 2009. By the end of Sanchez's career, the Trojan decade could include seven national titles, six Heismans, five NFL number one picks, plus Outland Trophies (Jeff Byers, Jeff Schweiger) and Lombardi Trophies (Keith Rivers). Quite simply, Carroll is already in territory that few coaches have ever tread. By the time he is done, he will have eclipsed the accomplishments of Knute Rockne Frank Leahy, Paul "Bear" Bryant and John McKay.

In light of the fact that Carroll's Trojans are threatening to be the greatest dynasty in the history of college football, it is time to re-evaluate the historical record of struggling Notre Dame, and in so doing crown the title "Greatest College Football Program in History" on the deserving new champions from USC.

 

This book will take us back to the aftermath of World War I, when returning Doughboys, hardened by war and ready to live again, joined college football teams in the West, shifting the balance of power from elite powers Harvard, Yale and Army. New York Times columnist Grantland Rice observed that the new California athlete was "different, a hybrid," some kind of superman, indigenous to a land of sun and fruit trees, the off-spring of hardy settlers and handsome men and women who had been venturing to the state to pursue movie careers.

            Great powers emerged in the West: California's Wonder Teams and Pop Warner's Stanford Indians dominated, but it was a railroad handshake that had the greatest impact on college football, East and West. Notre Dame's Knute Rockne was approached by USC student manager Gwyn Wilson about a yearly home-and-home arrangement. Rockne declined, stating that the administration was on him about too much travel anyway. But in a separate conversation, Rockne's wife told Wilson's wife that she loved shopping in Beverly Hills, and that a game in warm Los Angeles on a regular basis was a grand idea. Thus was born the greatest rivalry in the game, and with it, Notre Dame elevated USC to national prominence.

            In the 1920s under Rockne, the Irish were the undisputed champions of the college game. When USC beat them in 1928 to earn their first National Championship (and the moniker "greatest team ever" up to that point), coach Howard Jones's Trojans put themselves on the map. They did more than that in the 1930s, when they were that decade's dominant program, earning national titles in 1930, 1931 and 1939.

            In the 1940s under Frank Leahy, Notre Dame regained prominence, playing a series of titanic games against Red Blaike's juggernauts from West Point. The balance of power shifted to the Midwest in the late 1940s and '50s, when the great teams were Michigan, Bud Wilkinson's Oklahoma Sooners, and Woody Hayes's Ohio State Buckeyes. But social changes played a role in the balance of power shifting back to the West in the 1960s.

            Jackie Robinson had broken the color barrier in 1947, and integration came to the South via the Brown vs. Board of Education decision in 1954. However, Southern football programs refused to integrate. USC coach John McKay took full advantage of this, providing opportunities for black players and winning two National Championships in that turbulent decade (1962, 1967). It was under McKay that the Trojans firmly re-established themselves as an elite power. Two of his black running backs, Mike Garrett (1965) and O.J. Simpson (1968) won the Heisman Trophy. But McKay's duck-hunting pal, Alabama legend Paul "Bear" Bryant, won three National Championships (1961, 1964-65) and narrowly missed the 1966 championship when the "Catholic vote" went to the Irish.

            In 1970, the two legends met in Birmingham. College football would never be the same. Bryant's Crimson Tide was still all white. McKay's Trojans shocked the packed Legion Field crowd when their integrated squad lambasted the Tide, 42-21, behind the efforts of Sam "Bam" Cunningham.

The game had such an effect on the Deep South that the door to integration, which Bryant had barely opened by recruiting Wilbur Jackson, swung wide open. The result: Alabama won two National Championships in the following decade. The only team better? USC, with three (1972, 1974, 1978). From 1962-81, USC enjoyed the greatest 20-year run of all time. Aside from their National Championships, they won four Heismans (Charlie White in 1979 and Marcus Allen in 1981 joined the elite club). The 1972 Trojans are generally regarded to be the best collegiate team of all time. The transition from McKay to John Robinson (1976-82) was seamless.

In 1964, Notre Dame revived a moribund program with the hiring of coach Ara Parseghian. The "era of Ara" (1964-74) included dashed national title hopes in a stirring come-from-behind USC win over the Irish in '64, and two other memorable games in three years (1972, '74). In '72, sophomore running back Anthony "A.D." Davis scored six touchdowns in SC's 45-23 victory, but it was the 1974 game that left fans breathless. Trailing 24-0, USC scored 55 points in the most unbelievable 17 minutes in the game's long history. Davis ran two kickoffs back for touchdowns, scoring four in all, as Troy ended Ara's National Championship plans again, 55-24. It was good enough to swing the number one vote to the Trojans, although Davis was denied a rightful Heisman because the game was played after the votes had been cast.

USC began a down period when Robinson left USC to take over the Rams after the 1982 season. Perhaps of greater loss to the team was the departure of legendary assistant coach Marv Goux, who left with Robinson. Amid NCAA penalties, the Trojans maintained a position as a college football power, but were well below their previous standard, over the next 20 years. In 1988 under coach Larry Smith, they were 10-0 going into the Notre Dame game, but lost to the Irish and to Michigan in the Rose Bowl. They recruited the best prep quarterback in the nation, Todd Marinovich, but he was a problem child. By 1991 they were losing to Memphis State.

Robinson's return in 1993 did usher in a Rose Bowl win over Northwestern in 1995, but Trojan fans had to endure winless streaks vs. Note Dame from 1983 to 1995, and vs. UCLA from 1991 to 1998.

Carroll has reversed this trend entirely. USC now is riding a six-game winning streak against UCLA and a three-game streak against Notre Dame. Notre Dame has 12 National Championship, and USC now has 11 (favored to win again this year). Notre Dame has seven Heismans, but SC with six has not one but two Heisman favorites in their backfield this year (and Bush possibly coming back in 2006).

 

"Dynasty" will tell the personal stories of Trojan legends, ranging from John "Duke" Wayne to Howard Jones; Cotton Warburton to Frank Gifford; the men who made them "Tailback U."; Mike Garrett, O.J. Simpson, Anthony Davis, Ricky Bell, Charles White, Marcus Allen, and Reggie Bush; the great quarterbacks; Pat Haden, Paul McDonald, Rodney Peete, Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart; receivers Rod Sherman, Bob Chandler, Lynn Swann, and Mike Williams; linebackers Tim Rossovich and Junior Seau; linemen Marlin McKeever and Ron Yary; coaching legends Howard Jones, Jess Hill, John McKay, John Robinson and Pete Carroll; among many others.

            Written from the unique perspective of college football historian Steven Travers, a USC graduate who worked in their sports information office and coached under Rod Dedeax, "Dynasty!" promises not just to fill its pages with anecdotal sports stories, but will analyze why the Trojans have earned the right to be called the best college football program of all time, as well as why Carroll's current team is the greatest "Dynasty!" the game has ever seen.

            Lastly, a chapter will be devoted to USC's great record in non-football sports. This includes 12 National Championships in baseball, 26 in track and field and, even though they are not known as a basketball school, three Hall of Famers (Tex Winter, Bill Sharman, Alex Hannum) who starred on the same 1946 team, when the "triangle offense" was invented.

            USC boasts more NFL first round draft picks, pro players and Hall of Famers than any school. They have more Major Leaguers than any school. If they were a country, they would have placed third in the medals count at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

            "Dynasty" will be must reading for all Trojan fans and alumni, sports media and college football buffs. It could not be coming at a more opportune time, as USC is currently the hottest name in college sports.

 

2005 USC Trojans: Greatest college football dynasty ever?

By Steven Travers

 

The 2005 college football season is right around the corner. Pete Carroll's University of Southern California Trojans completed the most perfect season in collegiate football history in 2004 and enter the new campaign bidding for three titles: (1) Greatest single-season college football team of all time; (2) Greatest college football dynasty of all time; and (3) Greatest historical college football program of all time. Lofty titles, to be sure. Controversial and worthy of argument? You bet. Justifiable hype? You got that right, too.

 

There have been many "perfect" teams; that is, teams that went undefeated and untied en route to a consensus National Championship. USC itself has enjoyed their fair share of these kinds of wire-to-wire perfect seasons. But the stars were never aligned for any team quite like the 2004 Trojans (with the exception of the 2005 Trojans). First of all, they were the sixth team to be ranked number one in the nation from the pre-season polls through the bowl games. USC is the only team to do it twice. The 1972 Trojans, considered by many to be the greatest team of all time, accomplished the feat. But SC was also ranked number one from the end of the 2003 regular season through the bowls, carried that right through 2004 without interruption, and every pre-season collegiate football publication in America has them ranked a consensus number one going into the upcoming season.

 

The 2005 Trojans boast the Heisman Trophy winner, two-time senior All-American quarterback Matt Leinart. His teammate, All-American junior running back Reggie Bush, was a New York finalist for the award. USC won a repeat National Championship, a feat rarely done. They have a nations-longest 22-game winning streak. They beat Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, a game that was previewed as the greatest game in college football history. No less an expert than Lee Corso said the Trojans' performance vs. the Sooners was the best he has ever seen. Period.

 

Possibly, Nebraska's thrashing of Florida in the National Championship game of January 1996 was as impressive. Possibly.

 

The 1944-45 Army Cadets featured a similar winning streak and two Heisman winners, Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis. There are other teams that compare, but nobody has done it quite the way Carroll's team is doing it. A few came close. The 1983 Nebraska Cornhuskers featured an undefeated regular season that included winners of the Heisman and Outland Trophies. They lost to Miami in the Orange Bowl. The 2003 Oklahoma Sooners looked to be on a similar path, but their Heisman winner, Jason White, faltered in the Big 12 championship game as well as the Orange Bowl.

 

In light of USC's recent dominance, it is worth considering their place in history. Not just the current Trojans, but USC's football program going back to the beginning of the 20th Century. It is time to take the mantel of "greatest program in the history of college football" away from the struggling Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and lay it squarely with the deserving new champions from USC. Furthermore, USC continues to lay claim to the greatest historical athletic program in college history, as well.         

 

The two-time defending National Champions are a dynasty. Leinart returns for his senior year, having turned down a for-sure number one draft selection in 2005. The team will be better than they were last season. Leinart may or may not be the Heisman favorite (as he was all of last year), but he will become a three-time All-American. He could walk away from his career with more honors than any player ever; three National Championships (?), two Heismans (?), the Johnny Unitas Award, the Walter Camp Award, the Maxwell Trophy, the Davey O'Brien Award, et al. He could be the number one pick in the NFL 2006 draft.

 

Leinart's top competition for the Heisman, the '06 number one draft pick (and team MVP) will be last year's team MVP, Bush. Leinart and Bush are the favorites (along with Oklahoma's Adrian Petersen) for the coveted Heisman come December. It could very likely be another re-match of the Trojans vs. the Sooners; Leinart and Bush vs. Petersen; on Pasadena's Rose Bowl turf come January in the BCS National Championship game. No matter how impressive Oklahoma may be in the regular season, they would enter such a matchup with heavy psychology working against them.

 

As for Bush, he will have to make similar decisions next January like the one Leinart made earlier this year. Bush may be looking at being the NFL's top pick, or close to it. He is being favorably compared to the Raiders' Hall of Fame-to-be wide receiver Tim Brown, an all-purpose superstar in the Bush mode when he starred at Notre Dame in the 1980s. Bush also may be compelled to stay in school for the same reasons Leinart did, only more so. Bush may want to be go after a fourth straight National Championship, Oklahoma's 47-game winning streak (which can be equaled in USC's last regular season game of 2006), a third straight All-American season, a second straight Heisman, and all the other bells and whistles that go with such greatness. All followed by a pro number one draft selection in 2007, which would make him USC's third number one pick in five years (Carson Palmer, 2003; Leinart, 2006; Bush, 2007). 

 

The 2003-04 Trojans are very possibly the greatest two-year dynasty ever. If they win a third title in 2005, that will be a first. They lost a couple of linebackers, but aside from Leinart and Bush, running backs LenDale White and Herschel Dennis return, the whole offensive line returns, the tight ends and receivers are back, and the defense will be, for the most part, experienced. The 2005 Trojans have the potential to be the greatest single-season team ever assembled, better even than the 1972 Trojans. Soph-to-be Jeff Byers was the nation's best lineman coming out of high school and could win the Outland Trophy before graduating. Soph-to-be linebacker Keith Rivers was the top prep at his position and may garner a Butkus trophy some day.

 

After Leinart leaves for the NFL, USC will re-tool at quarterback with one of two blue chip recruits. In 2005, John David Booty will be a red-shirt sophomore. He was the top prep quarterback in America at Louisiana's Evangel Christian High School. His competition? Mark Sanchez, the top prep quarterback in the U.S. at Mission Viejo High (the nation's number two team) in Orange County, California in 2004. USC has had the number one recruiting class in the country for four years in a row. The 2004 class was considered the greatest of all time. The 2005 class is almost as good. The pipeline is endless. In light of the fact that they enter this season ranked number one, favored to win their third National Championship in a row, they are worthy of continued hype. Consider that if Troy runs the table in '05, their winning streak will probably be 35. With either Booty or Sanchez living up to the challenge, maybe with senior running back Bush winning the Heisman and starring with a cast headlined by juniors Rivers and Byers, the 2006 Trojans could challenge Oklahoma's 47-game winning streak of the 1950s. Now we are looking at four National Championships in a row, but wait, there is more. Booty could quarterback the team in 2006 and 2007. Sanchez would be a red-shirt junior and senior in 2008-09. Considering that the last two SC quarterbacks (Carson Palmer in 2002 and Leinart in '04) won the Heisman, USC could conceivably come away with four more of the trophies before the end of this decade. The scenario could be:

 

2005: Senior quarterback Matt Leinart, USC.

2006: Senior running back Reggie Bush, USC.

2007: Senior USC quarterback John David Booty, USC (Oklahoma running back Adrian Petersen will be a pro by then).

2009: Senior quarterback Mark Sanchez, USC.

 

Number one NFL draft picks? Aside from Leinart and Bush, consider Rivers, Byers, Booty, Sanchez…these are just the obvious possibilities. Let's go back to Carson Palmer and the 2002 Trojans. Palmer won the Heisman and was the NFL's number one draft choice. He is currently starting for the Cincinnati Bengals after signing a $14 million bonus. The 2002 Trojans finished 11-2, were co-Pacific 10 champs, and won the Orange Bowl. They finished fourth in the nation, but the pundits were in agreement that by that season's end, they were the best team in the country, even though Ohio State defeated a lackluster Miami squad in the BCS title game. Had their been a play-off, SC would have won.

 

In 2003, USC won the National Championship when the AP voted them number one following a victory over Michigan in the Rose Bowl. Considering that they had a spectacular wide receiver, Mike Williams, a comparison of the 2003 and 2004 teams may very well favor the '03 squad. The '05 team, however, will be better than anybody - ever!  

 

How good is SC? Consider that the All-American Williams had his NCAA eligibility taken away prior to 2004. Had he played, he would have been in New York instead of Bush, and he may well have won the Heisman. Bush just took his place and the beat went on. Speaking of first round picks, Williams was the top selection of the Minnesota Vikings despite being out of the limelight for one year. Future drafts promise to be SC highlight films. Every year. But wait, there's still more.

 

Coach of the Year? In 2003 year it was Carroll. The only reason he does not win it every year is because they like to spread those kinds of things around. Give it to him every second year. This guy has gone through Troy's old nemeses, UCLA and Notre Dame, like Patton's Army charging through the Low Countries. In four years, he has presided over (through January 4, 2005) back-to-back National titles, two Heisman winners, one NFL number one draft pick, two Orange Bowl titles, one Rose Bowl title, four bowl appearances, three Pac 10 championships, four national-best recruiting classes, a wire-to-wire number one perfect season, a 22-game winning streak, a number one poll ranking for 15 weeks running (and still counting), three straight undefeated Novembers and (take your pick) records of 25-1 (2003-04), 36-3 (2002-04) or 33-1 (since October, 2002). Those are the facts. After that comes the speculation, the predictions, the hype. Has any coach ever done more in his first four years? Probably not.  

 

By the end of 2006, the line on Carroll could be, in six seasons, a re-Pete turned into a three-Pete turned into a fourth consecutive National Championships, four Heisman winners, three NFL number one draft choices, two Rose Bowl titles, six bowl appearances, five Pac-10 titles, six national-best recruiting classes, three wire-to-wire number one poll rankings (45 weeks and counting), five straight undefeated Novembers, and records of 51-1 (2003-06), 62-3 (2002-06), 59-1 since October of 2002, 48-0 since October 2003, and 68-9 in his career.

 

That does not even count the full promise of his last couple national-best recruiting classes reaching the fruition of their senior years, led by the likes of Booty and Sanchez adding to the list of Heismans, national titles and NFL number one picks. Nobody has ever been this good.

 

When a team is this incredible, however, watch not just for undefeated seasons and National Championships, but watch out for college kids reading their press clippings and being shot at from all sides by a nation of teams out to beat them. It happened to the aforementioned Cornhuskers and the Sooners. Carroll's team had their share of off-field problems this last winter. Offensive coordinator Norm Chow split. A few players ran into problems with grades and the law.

 

Legendary Alabama coach Paul "Bear" Bryant won three National Championships in the 1960s, including back-to-back titles from 1964-65. In 1966, Ken Stabler led the Crimson Tide to an undefeated season, but the "Catholic vote" gave the title to Notre Dame. In the next couple of seasons, amid social change in the South and throughout the nation, Bear's program faltered. What happened?

 

"We won National Championships with underdogs," recalls former Bryant assistant coach Clem Gryska. "The talent was not the best, but we played as a team. When we started winning on a national level, everybody wanted to come here; kids from Florida, California, the Midwest. They were stars but brought prima donna attitudes, and we lost because of that. We only started winning again when we went back to the basics." That meant integrating the program and winning three national titles in the 1970s.

 

In 1979, USC entered the season as the consensus number one. Experts were saying that team, like this season's, could contend for the title "greatest college football team ever." They were the defending co-National Champions and heralded that season's Heisman Trophy winner, Charles White, along with other stalwarts like Anthony Munoz. Not quite mid-way into the season, they took on Stanford at the Coliseum. At halftime the Trojans led 21-0 en route to another stomping. In the second half, freshman quarterback John Elway directed the Cardinal to three touchdowns, SC's offense stalled, and that 21-21 tie (before the advent of overtime) was just enough to deny them the national title along with the "greatest ever" label.

 

In 1980, the best prep quarterback available was Escondido, California's Sean Salisbury. SC legend Sam Cunningham told his alma mater about his brother, Randall, in Santa Barbara, and asked if he would start. He was told Randall would be offered a ride but the job was Salisbury's. Randall went to UNLV and then made millions with the NFL's Eagles. Salisbury was a bust. SC lost coach John Robinson to the Rams, went on probation, and took 20 years to recover fully.

 

Troy thought they were back when, in 1987-88 under Larry Smith, they went to back-to-back Rose Bowls, were 10-0 going into the '88 Notre Dame game, featured Junior Seau, and recruited the all-time prep passing leader, Todd Marinovich. By 1990, Marinovich was a problem child and in '91 they lost to Memphis State!

 

Notre Dame under Lou Holtz won it all in 1988, and seemed on the verge of a real dynasty. Then came Ron Paulus, who never won any of the "two or three Heismans" Beano Cook predicted of him.

 

In January, 2003, defending National Champion Miami rode a 34-game winning streak into the BCS Fiesta Bowl. Had they won, they would have achieved the rare back-to-back championship and been a team for the ages. So close, yet so far. Ohio State beat them, and in the last two seasons the Hurricanes have been human.

 

These are just two of many examples that USC should look to and consider cautionary tales. It does not take much to derail a team when they are riding in the clouds. Bad recruiting (will Booty and Sanchez be another Salisbury and Paulus?), drugs (Marinovich), coaches leaving for the NFL (Robinson did and some say Carroll considers his pro work undone), NCAA violations (their first-half '80s teams), or just a slip against great competition ('79 SC, '83 Nebraska, '02 Miami, '03-'04 Oklahoma) can be enough to derail a team and separate the great from the legendary.         

 

Unlike the NFL, a single loss (or tie) can upset the apple cart. USC is the hottest ticket in America's hottest town, the toast of Hollywood, the biggest thing in a media hothouse that does not have a pro football franchise and whose NBA team is yesterday. They set the all-time USC attendance record in 2003 and broke that in 2004. For 20-year old student-athletes, this is a major challenge, but they overcame it in 2004 and, under Carroll, appear capable of continuing their focus.

 

It is fun to talk about, and at SC, a school that went through a long (13 years or 20 years, depending on your standards) down period, it is especially fun. Their fans are about as giddy as the Republicans when Dwight Eisenhower saved that party after 20 years of the New Deal in 1952.

 

In light of USC's new status, below is the All-Time College Football Top 25 rankings, followed by the Top 25 Greatest Single-Season teams in college football history. The greatest college football teams are listed chronologically; the best team for each decade; the best single-season team each decade, followed by great programs in back-to-back, three-year, five-year, 10/15-year and 20/25-year periods; the most prominent dynasties and the coaches behind them; and for good measure the Top 25 Collegiate Athletic Programs of All-Time, the Top College Basketball Programs, and the Top 20 College Baseball Programs ever. A few prep dynasties are mentioned for good measure.

 

It is subjective and opinionated. It is meant to stir debate, controversy and argument. It is not written in stone. Extra credit goes to the more modern powers. Miami's success in the 1980s is more impressive than Cal's "Wonder Teams" after World War I. Oklahoma's current run is as almost as impressive as the one they accomplished in the 1950s. The game has changed. Competition, money, television, scholarship limits, NCAA rules, recruiting violations and parity all play a part in this evaluation. To the extent that the so-called "modern era" began, trace it to 1960, which is subjective, yes, but as good an embarkation point as any. It was in the 1960s when the players starting getting bigger, the equipment up to speed, the coaching techniques improved, and the color of the player's skin became increasingly something other than white.

 

Based upon history, one is increasingly impressed with USC. Overall, Notre Dame's ranking as the greatest college football program of all time has to take a back seat to their biggest rivals from the West Coast. The Irish still have the most National Championships (SC now has 11), the most Heisman Trophy winners (seven to SC's and Ohio State's six), holds a 42-29-5 lead over the Trojans in their inter-sectional rivalry, and trace their glory days back to when Knute Rockne invented the forward pass in time to beat favored Army in 1913. However, Notre Dame has struggled too much in the modern decades.

 

Notre Dame was the best college team under Rockne in the decade of the 1920s and under Frank Leahy in the 1940s. They had another major "era of Ara" (Parseghian) in the 1960s and '70s, and are listed among the top two-year dynasties (1946-47), 5-year dynasties (1943-47, 1973-77) and have three dynasties that are included among the 10/15-year period. Furthermore, they are Notre Dame, and all that that stands for: "Win one for the Gipper," the Catholic Church, "Touchdown Jesus," Ronald Reagan, "Rudy," "subway alumni," the Four Horsemen outlined against a blue-gray October sky, "wake up the echoes..."

Notre Dame's fans are the most intense and loyal. They are the team that played in Yankee Stadium, in Soldier Field, at the Coliseum. Many of their historic games were against SC. The tradition of these two teams are the best and the oldest.

 

For decades, the number two team was Southern California. This was not a coincidence. No rivalry in sports (or politics or war, probably) has done so much to elevate both sides as the USC-Notre Dame tradition. It put both schools on the national map. It pits, as SC assistant coach Marv Goux put it, "the best of the East vs. the best of the West." It matches the Catholic school with their Midwestern values against the flash 'n' dazzle of Hollywood, and it has never failed to live up to expectations.

 

Beginning in the 1980s, however, SC dropped while Notre Dame stayed at or near the top throughout the Lou Holtz era. Other contenders emerged. Miami and Florida State ascended to the top. Nebraska left opponents in the dust. Programs like Alabama and Oklahoma had, like SC, faltered, but regained their footing. Tennessee, Georgia, LSU and other teams, many in the South, rose in prominence. This was a direct result of integration and its impact has been very positive, but a school like Southern California could no longer lay claim to black athletes that were spurned by the SEC or the Southwestern Conference.

 

SC began to win awards and recognition for its academic excellence, and it became an article of faith that this was the trade-off; great football teams and great students are not mutually compatible. All of it was B.S. Pete Carroll proved that.

 

Five years ago, a Top 25 listing of the Greatest College Football Programs of All-Time would have shown USC to have slipped. However, in light of their National Championships and continuing favored status, Troy is now ahead of Notre Dame and in the top spot.

 

Long dynasties are hard to come by in college football, but as the following lists show, SC has a long history of doing just that. It is for this reason, combined with the glow of being Notre Dame's biggest rival, its great inter-city tradition with UCLA, and a history that goes back farther than almost any program (Michigan and Notre Dame are the only schools that go back as far and are still powers) that Southern California is not just first all-time in football but first among all athletic programs (and first by a wide margin in baseball).

 

The Greatest College Football Team in history is generally considered to be John McKay's 1972 Trojans. Just ask Keith Jackson, who ought to know. In addition, SC claims the best single-season team in the 1920s (1928), '30s (1931) and 2000s (2004). They are considered the best team of the decade of the 1930s, 1960s, 1970s, and now the 2000s.

 

Further proof of SC's ability to maintain a tradition is their consistency. The top dynasty period in history was the John McKay/John Robinson era lasting from the early 1960s until the 1980s. The Howard Jones "Thundering Herd" teams of the 1920s and '30s also ranks highly.

 

The best back-to-back teams ever? How about USC (2003-04), Oklahoma (1955-56), Nebraska (1994-95), Notre Dame (1946-47), Army (1944-45), Nebraska (1970-71) and Alabama (1978-79)?

 

Among the best three-year periods ever, none is better than SC's run from 1972-74 (how about SC from 2002-04, or after next year from 2003-05?). Oklahoma deserves mention from 1971-73, or 1973-75. Among 5/6-year periods, consider three of Troy's eras (1967-72, the best of anybody, followed by 1974-79 and 1928-32).

 

The best 10/15-year period? USC from 1967 to 1979, but that is not all. Also ranked is the period 1962-72 and 1928-39. Among great long-term dynasties (20/25 years), nobody beats Southern California from 1962-81, when they won five National Championships and four Heisman Trophies. The Trojans easily have the most professionals, the most first round draft picks, the most Hall of Famers, the most Pro Bowlers and the most All-Americans. They are, undisputedly, a football factory. The empirical evidence cannot be argued against.

 

On top of all this, USC counts the most Major League baseball players, the most baseball Hall of Famers, the most All-Stars and various dominant players. Despite not being known for basketball, a disproportionate number of Trojans from the 1940s and '50s are considered hoops pioneers. The "triangle offense" was invented at SC, and such stalwarts as Bill Sharman, Alex Hannum and Tex Winter played together before induction in Springfield. USC also boasts (along with UCLA) the most Olympians, the most Olympic champions, and if they had been a country in 1976, they would have placed third in total medals at the Montreal Games.

 

Alabama fans certainly would argue against Trojan football hegemony, and they have plenty of ammunition. They were a national power as far back as the 1930s when Don Hutson starred there. However, they slipped (as did USC during the same years) until the Bear Bryant era. Bryant's dominant period, lasting from 1961 to 1979, parallels McKay's (and Robinson's) and is as impressive as any ever. However, the Tide was all white until SC's Sam "Bam" Cunningham showed them, in Bear's own (alleged) words, "what a football player looks like" in 1970. After SC's 42-21 victory at Birmingham, L.A. Times sports columnist Jim Murray welcomed 'Bama "back into the Union."

 

The Crimson Tide experienced a down period after Bear departed, regained its place with the 1992 national title, but inexplicably fell from grace for another decade after that. Their recent embarrassment in hiring Mike Price only to fire him for cavorting with strippers is indicative of their malaise.

 

Oklahoma's teams in the 1950s dominated as thoroughly as any in history, but that is a long time ago. They were not a major power prior to that decade. The Chuck Fairbanks/Barry Switzer teams of the 1970s and '80s were as impressive as any that have ever taken the field (and pockmarked by scandal and probation), but they became downright mediocre after Brian Bozworth's departure. Bob Stoops, however, has them right back where they were before, and then some.

 

Miami is rated highly based purely on unreal dominance in the 1980s and for maintaining an 18-year run from 1983-2001 ('02) that approaches SC's 1962-81 dynasty. However, until Howard Schnellenberger (by whatever means he did it) made them a power in '83, they were a college football lightweight, plus their championship rosters too often resembled police reports.

 

Ohio State is sixth and could be higher. However, until Woody Hayes came along, Michigan, not Ohio State, was the dominant Big 10 team. Woody's long tenure is very impressive, lasting from his 1954 National Championship (split with UCLA) until Archie Griffin's second Heisman campaign (1975). The 1968 Buckeyes are one of the most storied teams in history, good enough to dominate O.J. Simpson and defending National Champion USC in the Rose Bowl. But Woody's teams always fell short after that. They would go undefeated, average 40-plus points a game, and make Sports Illustrated covers, but in Pasadena every New Year's Day, it seemed, their "three yards and a cloud of dust" offense was no match for Pat Haden, John Sciarra, or whoever SC or UCLA threw at them.

 

Penn State (7) has been a consistent national power under Joe Paterno since 1968, when they were in the middle of a 30-game winning streak. Their "weak" East Coast schedule cost them a couple of national titles, but the 1980s were Joe Pa's time. They have fallen precipitously in later years, and while they have played football in Happy Valley a long time (the Lions lost to USC, 24-3, in the first game at the modern Rose Bowl stadium in 1923), they do not have a tradition that goes back like SC or Notre Dame, either.

 

Nebraska is a relative Johnny-come-lately. Nobody knew much about the Cornhuskers until Bob Devaney's mythical 1970-71 National Championship squads (Omaha's Gale Sayers spurned the program because they "weren't that good"). The Devaney/Tom Osborne era is unbelievable, starting with a long winning streak in the early '70s, but not devoid of criticism. Osborne may be just below Jesus Christ in Nebraska today, but Big Red fans took the Lord's name in vain aplenty when he consistently lost big games in the 1970s and '80s. Still, the 1971 and '95 squads rank as two of the top three teams in history, and Cornhusker dominance from 1993-97 was extraordinary (60-3, three National Championships).

 

Michigan has a hallowed tradition. They were college football's first powerhouse, beating Stanford in the first Rose Bowl, 49-0 in 1902. When the Big 10 started playing the Pacific Coast Conference after World War II, Michigan laid waste to the "soft" West Coast teams, which included pastings of some very good Pappy Waldorf teams from Cal in the Rose Bowl games of the late '40s. However, the Wolverines lost their place to Woody until Bo Schembechler came along. The Michigan teams of the 1970s mirrored Woody's - often unbeaten with gaudy stats until a pick-your-choice Pac 8 team (Stanford, USC, Washington) would dismantle them in Pasadena. In 1997 they finally won a National Championship and are a program of the first rate, but not number one.

 

Texas is a bit of a mystery. Darrell Royal's Longhorns won two National Championships (1963 and 1969, the last all-white titlist), and had a big winning streak that ended against Notre Dame in the 1971 Cotton Bowl, but Earl Campbell's team lost to Joe Montana when the Irish "stole" the 1977 National Championship (going from fifth to first on January 2, 1978). Texas has never repeated despite occasionally being favored, but they usually are slightly disappointing.

 

Florida State was a girl's school until Burt Reynolds broke the gender barrier in 1952. Tennessee has a great tradition. The Heisman Trophy is named after their coach in the 1930s, and they won the title in 1998. LSU has two titles. Florida made a bid for supremacy under Steve Spurrier but seem to lose the big game more often than not.

 

Michigan State under Duffy Daugherty from 1965-66 broke color barriers and challenged for greatness, but Gary Beban and UCLA beat them in the 1966 Rose Bowl, and they tied Notre Dame in the 1966 "game of the century." Georgia's fans are nuts, and the team is darn good most of the time. Auburn and UCLA are two of a kind. They each have won one National Championship, and have all the advantages - weather, facilities, recruiting, talent - only to labor in the shadow of historical behemoths (USC over UCLA, Alabama over Auburn).

 

The Arkansas Razorbacks are always fun. The 1991 Washington Huskies were the 22nd best single-season team ever, the Don James era was terrific, but they usually only go so far. Cal is so yesterday. Brick Muller's memory died an ugly death when the school became the de facto staging grounds of American Communism circa 1964-70. The Pitt Panthers were great in the 1930s and in Tony Dorsett's 1976 Heisman season. Minnesota is forgotten except for a five-year stretch prior to World War II. The Army Cadets once dominated whenever there was a world war being fought (?), and Stanford has Pop Warner, Ernie Nevers, Jim Plunkett, John Elway, Bill Walsh and the "Vow Boys." BYU won the 1984 National Championship and sports a long tradition of "bombs away" quarterbacks, led by Jim McMahon and Steve Young.

    

ALL-TIME GREATEST COLLEGE FOOTBALL TEAMS

Compiled by Steven Travers

 

All-Time Top 25

3                                 Southern California Trojans

2.   Notre Dame Fighting Irish

·      Oklahoma Sooners

4.   Alabama Crimson Tide

5.   Miami Hurricanes

·      Ohio State Buckeyes

7.   Penn State Nittany Lions

8.   Nebraska Cornhuskers

9.   Michigan Wolverines

10.  Texas Longhorns

11.  Florida State Seminoles

12.  Tennessee Volunteers

13.  Auburn Tigers

14.  Louisiana State Tigers

15.  Florida Gators

16.  Michigan State Spartans

17.  Georgia Bulldogs

18.  UCLA Bruins

19.  Arkansas Razorbacks

20.  Washington Huskies

21.  California Golden Bears

22.  Pittsburgh Panthers

23.  Minnesota Golden Gophers

24.  Stanford Indians/Cardinal

25.  Brigham Young Cougars

 

Greatest single-season teams

1.  1972 Southern California Trojans

2.  1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers

3.  1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers

·      2004 Southern California Trojans

5. 1989 Miami Hurricanes

·      1999 Florida State Seminoles

7.   1988 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

8.   1979 Alabama Crimson Tide

9.   1956 Oklahoma Sooners

6       2001 Miami Hurricanes

11. 1986 Penn State Nittany Lions

12. 1968 Ohio State Buckeyes

13. 1969 Texas Longhorns

14. 1947 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

15. 1945 Army Cadets

16. 1931 Southern California Trojans

17. 1975 Oklahoma Sooners

18. 1919 California Golden Bears

19. 1973 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

20. 1948 Michigan Wolverines

21. 1928 Southern California Trojans

22. 1991 Washington Huskies

23. 1985 Oklahoma Sooners

24. 1976 Pittsburgh Panthers

25. 1962 Southern California Trojans

 

Chronological

1901 Michigan Wolverines

1919 California Golden Bears

1924 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

1928 Southern California Trojans

1931 Southern California Trojans

1945 Army Cadets

1947 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

1948 Michigan Wolverines

1956 Oklahoma Sooners

1962 Southern California Trojans

1968 Ohio State Buckeyes

1969 Texas Longhorns

1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers

1972 Southern California Trojans

1973 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

1975 Oklahoma Sooners

1976 Pittsburgh Panthers

1979 Alabama Crimson Tide

1985 Oklahoma Sooners

1986 Penn State Nittany Lions

1988 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

1989 Miami Hurricanes

1991 Washington Huskies

1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers

1999 Florida State Seminoles

2001 Miami Hurricanes

2004 Southern California Trojans

 

By Decades (single year)

1900s: 1901 Michigan Wolverines

1910s: 1919 California Golden Bears

1920s: 1928 Southern California Trojans

1930s: 1931 Southern California Trojans

1940s: 1947 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

1950s: 1956 Oklahoma Sooners

1960s: 1968 Ohio State Buckeyes

1970s: 1972 Southern California Trojans

1980s: 1989 Miami Hurricanes

1990s: 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers

2000s: 2004 Southern California Trojans

 

By Decades

1900s: Michigan Wolverines

1910s: California Golden Bears

1920s: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

1930s: Southern California Trojans

1940s: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

1950s: Oklahoma Sooners

1960s: Alabama Crimson Tide

1970s: Southern California Trojans

1980s: Miami Hurricanes

1990s: Florida State Seminoles

2000s: Southern California Trojans

 

Dynasties

1. Southern California under John McKay & John Robinson (1960s-80s)

2. Miami (1980s-2000s)

3. Alabama under Bear Bryant (1960s-80s)

4. Ohio State under Woody Hayes (1950s-70s)

5. Oklahoma under Bud Wilkinson (1950s)

6. Nebraska under Bob Devaney & Tom Osborne (1970s-'90s)

7. Penn State under Joe Paterno (1960s-90s)

8. Oklahoma under Chuck Fairbanks & Barry Switzer (1970s-'80s)

9. Notre Dame under Knute Rockne (1920s)

10.Notre Dame under Frank Leahy (1940s)

11.Southern California's "Thundering Herd" under Howard Jones (1920s-30s)

12.Notre Dame under Ara Parseghian (1960s-70s)

13.Florida State under Bobby Bowden (1990s)

14.Texas under Darrell Royal (1960s-70s)

15.Michigan under Bo Schembechler (1960s-80s)

16.California's "Wonder Teams" under Andy Smith (1918-22)

17.Army under Red Blaike (mid-1940s)

18.Minnesota under Bernie Biernbaum (1930s, early '40s)

19.Stanford under Pop Warner (1920s)

20.Michigan's "point-a-minute" teams under Fritz Carlisle (1900s)

21. Southern California under Pete Carroll (2000s)

 

Best two-year period

1. Oklahoma (1955-56)

4                                 Nebraska (1994-95)

5                                 Southern California Trojans (2003-04)

4.  Notre Dame (1946-47)

5.  Army (1944-45)

6. Alabama (1978-79)

7. Oklahoma (1974-75)

 

Best three-year periods

1. Southern California (1972-74)

2. Miami (1987-89)

3. California (1919-22)

6                                 Southern California (1930-32)

7                                 Oklahoma Sooners (1954-56)

8                                 Army (1944-46)

9                                 Alabama (1964-66)

 

Best 5/6-year periods

2003      Southern California (1967-72)

2. Miami (1987-91)

3. Notre Dame (1973-77)

4. Notre Dame (1943-47)

5. Southern California (1974-79)

6. Alabama (1961-66)

7. Penn State (1982-86)

8. Southern California (1928-32)

9. Minnesota (1936-41)

10.Oklahoma (1971-75)

1      Southern California (1962-67)

2      Nebraska (1993-97)

 

Best 10/15-year periods

1. Southern California Trojans (1967-81)

2. Miami Hurricanes (1983-91)

3. Southern California Trojans (1962-72)

4. Oklahoma Sooners (1950s)

5. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1920s)

6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1940s)

7. Florida State Seminoles (1990s)

8. Penn State Nittany Lions (1982-91)

9.Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1966-77)

10.Oklahoma Sooners (1974-85)

11.Nebraska Cornhuskers (1990s)

12.Southern California Trojans (1928-39)

13. Alabama Crimson Tide (1964-79)

 

Best 20/25-year periods

1. Southern California Trojans (1962-81)

2. Miami Hurricanes (1983-2001)

3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1964-88)

4. Alabama Crimson Tide (1961-79)

5.Ohio State Buckeyes (1954-75)

 

"Close but no cigar"(honorable mention)

1913 Army Cadets, 1938 Duke Blue Devils, 1930s Tennessee, 1947-49 California Golden Bears, 1954 UCLA Bruins, 1966 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans, 1967-69 Southern California Trojans, 1971 Oklahoma Sooners, 1969-75 Ohio State Buckeyes, 1969-78 Michigan Wolverines, 1978-79 Southern California Trojans, 1983 Nebraska Cornhuskers, 2003-04 Oklahoma Sooners, 1971-75 Oklahoma Sooners

 

All-time Greatest College Athletics Programs

1. Southern California Trojans

2. UCLA Bruins

3. Texas Longhorns

4. Miami Hurricanes

5. Michigan Wolverines

6. Alabama Crimson Tide

7. Ohio State Buckeyes

8. Florida State Seminoles

9. Stanford Indians/Cardinal

10.Oklahoma Sooners

11.Louisiana State Tigers

12.Tennessee Volunteers

13. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

14. Penn State Nittany Lions

15. Arkansas Razorbacks

16. Florida Gators

17. Indiana Hoosiers

18. Georgia Bulldogs

19. Texas A&M Aggies

20. Oklahoma State Cowboys

21. Arizona State Sun Devils

22. Auburn Tigers

23. Duke Blue Devils

24. North Carolina Tar Heels

25. Syracuse Orangemen

26. California Golden Bears

27. Brigham Young Cougars

 

All-Time College Basketball Programs

2004      UCLA Bruins

2005      Indiana Hoosiers

2006      North Carolina Tar Heels

2007      Duke Blue Devils

2008      Kentucky Wildcats

2009      Kansas Jayhawks

2010      Michigan Wolverines

2011      Ohio State Buckeyes

2012      Virginia Cavaliers

2013      Michigan State Spartans

2014      Nevada-Las Vegas Runnin' Rebels

2015      Louisville Cardinals

2016      Arizona Wildcats

2017      Stanford Cardinal

2018      West Virginia Squires

2019      San Francisco Dons

2020      Syracuse Orangemen

 

All-Time College Baseball programs

1.     Southern California Trojans

2.     Texas Longhorns

3.     Cal State Fullerton Titans

4.     Arizona State Sun Devils

5.     Miami Hurricanes

6.     Stanford Indians/Cardinal

7.     Louisiana State Tigers

8.     Florida State Seminoles

9.     Oklahoma State Cowboys

10.  Florida Gators

11.  Mississippi State Bulldogs

12.  Texas A&M Aggies

13.  Arkansas Razorbacks

14.  Arizona Wildcats

15.  Georgia Bulldogs

16.  Oklahoma Sooners

17.  California Golden Bears

18.  Fresno State Bulldogs

19.  Michigan Wolverines

20.  Clemson Tigers

 

Prep football

De La Salle H.S. (Concord, Calif.)

Mater Dei H.S. (Santa Ana, Calif.)

Poly High School (Long Beach, Calif.)

Moeller H.S. (Cincinnati, O)

 

Prep basketball

Verbum Dei H.S. (Los Angeles, Calif.)

Crenshaw H.S. (Los Angeles, Calif.)

Mater Dei H.S. (Santa Ana, Calif.)

Cardinal Gibbons H.S. (Baltimore, MD.)

De Matha H.S. (Hiattsville, MD.)

Power Memorial Academy (New York, N.Y.)

McClymonds H.S. (Oakland, Calif.)

 

Prep baseball

Lakewood H.S. (Calif.)

Redwood H.S. (Larkspur, Calif.)

Sharpstown H.S. (Houston, Tex.)

Rancho Bernardo H.S. (San Diego, Calif.)

Fremont H.S. (Los Angeles, Calif.)

Serra H.S. (San Mateo. Calif.)

 

Steven Travers is the author of "Barry Bonds: Baseball's Superman" and the upcoming "The Game That Changed A Nation", the true story of how the 1970 USC-Alabama football game helped end segregation in the American South.

 

STEVEN TRAVERS

USC STEVE1@aol.com

(415) 455-5971

 

AUTHOR OF "THE GAME THAT CHANGED A NATION": http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0849900263/ref=pd_ecc_rvi_3/002-3807275-1967226?%5Fencoding=UTF8&v=glance

 

http://www.thomasnelson.com/consumer/AuthorDetail.asp?CreatorID=2838&TopLevel_id=

 

AUTHOR OF "BARRY BONDS: BASEBALL'S SUPERMAN": http://www.sportspublishingllc.com/book.cfm?id=3

 

STEVEN TRAVERS' WEB PAGE:

http://hometown.aol.com/uscsteve1/myhomepage/index.html

 

STEVEN TRAVERS' GOOGLE SEARCH: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=ISO-8859-1&q=Steven+Travers+AND+USC+AND+Barry+Bonds%3A+Baseball%27s+Superman&btnG=Google+Search

 

AGENT: Craig Wiley/(317) 823-2834

 

 

 

 

 

September 1970. In the words of legendary Los Angeles Times sports columnist Jim Murray, a group of "hostile black and white American citizens" invaded Birmingham, Alabama to do battle against an equally hostile group of white American citizens. The event could have gone either way. A riot could have ensued. Blood could have been spilled.

The battle did not take place at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Bull Connor did not preside over the scene. George Wallace did not stand in the way. Instead of a riot, a fairly played football game took place between the University of Southern California Trojans and the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, on a sweltering hot night at the venerable Legion Field.

The Good Lord, as they say, works in mysterious ways. He picks ordinary, often flawed people, among them sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors and adulterers, to be his prophets and disciples. This book tells the story of how the Greek ideals of Platonic justice combined with Christian righteousness, free market capitalism and American Democracy, effectuated the only real change that ever matters, a change of heart, on an entire region - the South - allowing America to come together as only she can, more than a century after the Civil War. After years of protests, speeches and demonstrations, a tipping point was reached, spearheaded by a young football player from California named Sam "Bam" Cunningham, who on this day would be God's vessel.

This is the story of how one game finally ended segregation in the South once and for all. It is the story of how suspicious white and black USC teammates became a family of warriors, and how the team they defeated helped their fans to finally rise to the moral righteousness their Bibles had taught them since childhood. Thus, the power of Christianity was the impetus for the Deep South to pay heed to what Abraham Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature" and, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to "live up to its creed that all people are created equal." 

The 1970 season played out without great success for either team, but in the succeeding years, USC and Alabama dominated college football. The Republican party husbanded the South into the mainstream of our political system. Cunningham would become a Pro Bowler with the New England Patriots. The game was all-but forgotten, its impact understood only by those who dig deep for such nuggets of Americana. Now, the story is spreading like Christ's Sermon on the Mount. Today, the tale is this book, a proposed documentary, and a film in development. The story explains more succinctly the country we live in than any other tale told by columnists or know-it-all "talking heads." This is the story of Truth and the redemptive powers of change.

This work brings you into the locker room where Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant may or may not have declared to his beaten team that Cunningham was "what a football player looks like." It describes the "new breed" of black athletes influenced by the militancy of the Vietnam era. The entire story - the history that preceded it, the machinations that surrounded it, and the sea change that occurred after it - are tied together through the research, probing interviews and writing of the Evangelical Christian historian Steven Travers, himself a USC graduate whose unique love for his school's legacy shines forth in this monumental book. Travers successfully links Greek ideals and Christian love to modern America, demonstrating that desegregation was not a unique movement, but the result of centuries of philosophical evolution. This work, which combines theology and philosophy using the Socratic method of questioning, tackles the monumental task of exploring the nature of good and evil as it affects the ordinary decisions of men. Travers is also one of the last journalists to have interviewed deceased former USC coaches John McKay and Marv Goux before they passed away. The captured memories of these events shed great light on this story.

"The Turning of the Tide", written in the tradition of David Halberstam's "October 1964", is viewed through the prism of football as a metaphor for a changing America. The game played in September of 1970 was a seminal moment in which liberalism and conservatism came together, in many ways the last time this has happened. The winner was America. In this, the 35th anniversary year of that game, Travers demonstrates in this work how the events of that month explain much of what we now know about "red staves" vs. "blue states." He also goes to great pains to give a fair, balanced journalistic account of history, giving appropriate attention to both the USC and Alabama (or Northern vs. Southern) sides.

 

One reason for this was Jimmy Carter, the moderately conservative (liberal by Georgia standards) Southerner who succeeded the racist Lester Maddox as Governor on the strength of the new black votes that the 1965 legislation helped to usher in. Carter was a hybrid of time and opportunity. He filled the Democrat vacuum still left open by Teddy Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick. His squeaky-clean evangelical Christianity was palatable to the South, and seen not in religious terms but rather as a sign of honesty by the liberals and the electorate, begging for accountability after Watergate. Carter took advantage of new techniques in polling, started the trend of early campaigning in the Primaries instead of playing to the “smoke-filled rooms” of convention politics, caught the Republicans at their most vulnerable period since 1932, and won.

Carter’s ascendancy was part of a trend, embodied by numerous national essays detailing how the “New South will rise again.” Included in this development were strange tales of a “new” Ku Klux Klan, led by an educated, telegenic man named David Duke. Even racism understood the growing dynamics of public relations.

From 1964 to 1980, every election cycle saw the Republicans slowly chipping away at the Southern Democrat base. This trend took evolving forms. First, there was the “Wallace factor,” in which the influence of Alabama’s maverick Democrat Governor proved to hurt his own party and help the Republicans. This “revolt” against Democrat liberalism within the party was not limited to Wallace, and resulted in growing G.O.P. success through the 1960s and ‘70s.

Second, emerging Republican enclaves took shape in the solid South. One of them was the wealthy Houston district represented by Congressman George H.W. Bush from 1967 to 1971 (the future President lost Senate races in 1964 and 1970).

Finally, there was the unkindest cut of all, the actual switching of parties by prominent Democrats to the Republicans. Trent Lott made his switch in 1972. Senator Strom Thurmond, who had splintered the “Dixiecrats” in 1948, also switched. But conservative Democrats, the likes of which in later years included Georgia Senator Zell Miller, undercut the party’s base for years without actually leaving.

American politics in the South mirrored the 1970 USC-Alabama game. The game had accomplished a symbolic victory for African-Americans, but it was so much more than that. It had opened the door for real, actual change, and it had done it athletically the way Nixon and Reagan’s theoretical “Orange Countification” had done it in politics: Quietly.

The civil rights struggle had plodded along, loud, noisy, sometimes dangerous. King had attracted crowds, fomented protest, defied the law. Malcolm X was in the white man’s face. The Black Panthers were openly militaristic and increasingly violent. An elemental staple of politics, diplomacy and human psychology had seemingly died with Lincoln in 1865.

Lessons that would be learned and made instructive to any State Department desk chief studying China and its obsession with “saving face” or Russia’s respect for toughness, were (seemingly) not taught, learned or implemented by the well meaning civil rights crowd. It took a Southerner, Bear Bryant, who was really a sly fox, to schedule a game with his duck-hunting friend John McKay. From there it took the hand of God, guiding a naïve, beautiful young black man named Sam Cunningham to his destiny on the field of athletic strife, thus embodying the best way to effectuate change.

“The Truth,” says John Papadakis over and over again, “as witnessed in an American arena, is never misunderstood.”

Truth is what happened that day. It did not happen in a way that embarrassed Alabama, the Bear or his team. It happened on a fair field of battle, in a way that allowed the "losers" to save face and eventually come out winners. As Bryant himself told his men many times, it "doesn't matter how the game starts, but how it ends."

When King spoke, his words could be misconstrued. He had Communists in his organization or he was a degenerate womanizer. Nobody trusted the Federal government. The courts, the laws, the judges, all of them were viewed as corrupt. But Cunningham and the Trojans had done it in the purest form imaginable.

The pro athletes on the Falcons and Oilers, or Braves and Astros? They were mercenaries, subject to professional lifestyles, gambling interests, and other corruptions. Texas Western’s basketball team? That was the “black man’s” game, wasn’t it? Who cares about watching a bunch of blacks run around in their underwear? Black baseball players in the Southern minor leagues? That was the minor leagues, barnstormers, clown acts, minstrel shows.

No, this was the citadel of college football, the University of Alabama, in the very heart of Dixie. This was Bear Bryant, who according to the Coca-Cola ads actually did walk on water. These were the new aristocrats of the South, its best and brightest football talent. And, yes, this was USC, and its multi-talented, multi-faceted, integrated squad, coming in full of esprit de corps, kept together by the Socratic Greek linebacker Papadakis, led by coaches McKay and Goux who insisted they do it the right way. With class, with honor, with jubilation but not overt celebration.

A school located half an hour north of Orange County had come to Birmingham and a form of “Orange Countification” had taken place. What the Alabama football fans saw, in the esteemed McKay, the well regarded Goux, the talented Jimmy Jones, the explosive Clarence Davis, and the spectacular Sam Cunningham, was the future. A way in which it could be done, with class and dignity. It was palatable to them, just as Nixon and Reagan were palatable to them.

Thus, the merging of political and athletic theatre, explaining so much about the next 35 years of American history.

After that game, black athletes did not just desegregate Southern football rosters; they began to desegregate Southern political staffs, government office buildings, law firms, schoolhouses, grocery stores, and all other forms of society and commerce.

It did not happen because of court orders or protests. No National Guardsmen accompanied these people into this Brave New World. It happened because the Truth had been witnessed and understood.

“The Truth will set you free,” as it says in the Gospel according to John, and herein is the true answer to the civil rights question in the South. The answer is Christianity. Here was the most Christian region of this great nation, yet these same people had been inculcated by Satan’s influence. The devil had fed them defeat, war, famine, and all its stepchildren; mistrust, hatred, vengeance. But Christianity had taken hold here. In the 1920s, a major revival had spread the religion throughout the region even more. For years, preachers had scoured the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, to justify slavery and racial separation. Arcane language was cited. Even Plato’s Greece was demonstrated as “justification” for the practice, since Athens had been, like every other major population, a slave state.

But true Christians are required to look within their own beating hearts. The life of Jesus Christ was so far from an endorsement of slavery and racial hatred as to be beyond the ken. Christianity, hand in glove with a new country, blessed by God, a nation literally shining with His grace, where freedom and justice were not words but sacred Truths; no, people were not unequal. We are all God’s children, and every one of us deserves the chance to roam unfettered in God’s delightful path.

The politicians and educational administrators who made up the American South at the time of Sam Cunningham’s remarkable football performance in 1970 had all rode to their high place of public esteem at least in part because they adhered to the demand that they be churchgoing men of Jesus Christ.

“Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”

No man can truly believe those words, to instill their meaning, to truly believe in their own hearts and live life adhering to what they really mean, and then turn around and enslave his fellow man. Man sees the coming of the Lord, and he knows too that the Lord sees him, into the bottom of his heart and soul.

The lie had to die.

The work of Dr. King had been done. The work of millions of well meaning American citizens had taken place. It would not go for naught. The men and women who had traveled South during the Freedom Rides, to “teach the Southerners a lesson,” had been frustrated in their efforts, but their work, like God’s, would succeed in unforeseen, mysterious ways. Liberalism and conservatism would come together. The winner was America.

Quietly, just like Bear Bryant liked it. Like a thief in the night, as Christ told his followers, their times would come. Seemingly, a convergence took place and a new “feeling was in the air.” Many years of improvements would lie ahead. Hatred never dies, and it did not die that day at the Legion Field. But one of its allies, the “prejudiced South,” was on the way out. Cunningham and USC, with Bryant’s “help,” had put a chink in the armor.

 

In 1980, America needed a change. Jimmy Carter had been bamboozled by the Communists, allowed Islamo-Fascism to take root in Iran (with American hostages fueling the effort), and created an economic “malaise” that allowed interest rates to climb to 25 percent, making home ownership extremely difficult to attain. Out of the Republican Party emerged Reagan. His detractors saw only an aging actor. His devoted followers remembered “The Speech” he made in 1964, and the way he righted California for eight years. They recalled the way he had almost nabbed the nomination from a sitting President in 1976, and now he was “the right man in the right place at the right time” (not unlike Cunningham 10 years prior).

Reagan sent a message by starting his campaign, symbolically, in Mississippi. It was another example of the “Orange Countification” of the South. The Mississippians who supported Reagan had been supporting nearly a decade of integrated Ole Miss football. By 1980 the sight of black football players - not to mention basketball players, baseball players, cheerleaders, even fraternity brothers and professors - was, if not entirely commonplace, certainly not out of the question.

Reagan’s critics naturally tried to paint him as racist for making his announcement in Mississippi. They totally missed the point that Reagan was not racist, and he was still popular in that state.

George Wallace called civil rights leader John Lewis and asked if he could apologize for his segregationist past. He went to a black church and apologized to a roomful of African-Americans. They told him that what he had done “was forgiven, but not forgotten.”

It should never be forgotten, but the power of Christianity is the power to forgive. It is not merely a power exercised by Christ, who sheds grace on sinful wretches. It is power endowed to humans, who use this power to forge a better world. The mainstream of African-American citizenry has, over time, forgiven the South for its sins. They have not forgotten, although too many young black people do not know the stories. They do not know about the sacrifices of Jackie Robinson, or the accomplishments of Sam Cunningham.

Charles Scott, a close friend of baseball star Barry Bonds and a fellow African-American, once said that being black in America meant “hearing the stories handed down, from aunts and uncles, grandfathers.” While this is generally true, too often millionaire black superstar athletes take their success for granted. They too often fail to recognize not just that their paths were paved for them by black pioneers, but that a generous, hopeful America also gave them opportunities unavailable anywhere else in the world.

Reagan’s eight years in the White House are generally regarded by historians, who now have enough time to assess his legacy, as one of the best Presidencies in American history and, in some circles, the best of the 20th Century. Had Reagan failed, much of the conservative revolution would have faltered. The nexus between the 1970 USC-Alabama game and the husbanding of the American South into the mainstream, thus setting the stage for Republican Electoral hegemony, would not be told, at least in such startling terms, had Reagan not achieved what he did.

His Vice-President, George Herbert Walker Bush, succeeded Reagan. In theory, he was a Southerner. It was just a theory. Bush was a Northeastern Rockefeller Republican. It was true that he earned his spurs wildcatting the Texas oil patch in the 1950s, but his Yale frat image was too ingrained. He was Old Money. A blue blood.

Reagan had taken major hits from the Democrats and the media. They pounded him during the failed Robert Bork nomination to the Supreme Court and the Iran-Contra scandal. What the liberals failed to realize was that the Bork and Iran-Contra events were viewed differently by conservatives, particularly in the South. Bork had argued against the Constitutional legitimacy of Roe vs. Wade. Southerners were just itching to overturn the questionable 1973 abortion ruling.

Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North became a star defending Reagan during the Iran-Contra hearings. Southern anti-Communists were all for backing the rebels fighting an illegitimate Marxist cabal in Nicaragua.

Bush came on promising a “kinder, gentler” Presidency. Bush tried to make friends with Democrats, to cut deals with them, to reach out. These efforts left him vulnerable to the campaigns of not one but two Southerners who, while not members of the Republican Party, had some conservative credentials.

Ross Perot ran as an independent. He was a billionaire Texas business mogul who had graduated from the Naval Academy. Bill Clinton claimed to be Baptist, and in an effort to right a floundering Democrat Party, had helped found the Southern Democrat Leadership Council. These were moderately conservative Southern Democrats who recognized that the South was the key to Electoral success.

Perot took an enormous bloc of votes away from Bush. Clinton painted a moderate downturn as “the worst economy of the 20th Century” and slickly got away with it. Bush lost because he did not appeal to the blue collar, conservative and Christian elements not only in the South but also throughout Republican heartlands.

His defeat was not lost on his son, who had had an epiphany leading to sobriety, became a born again Christian, and already had made contacts with the Christian right. Young Bush was a different kind of conservative. He does not fit the mold of “Orange Countification” reflected by Nixon and Reagan, but he is certainly closer to it than his father.

Bush, despite sporting the same blueblood credentials as his father, was all Midland, Texas. He serves as a perfect example of the New South. The man does not have a racist bone in his body. Two of his top aides were African-Americans. Secretary of State Colin Powell and his successor, former NSC Advisor Condoleezza Rice, were (and in Rice’s case, still is) two of his most trusted advisors. Their jobs are the farthest possible jobs in America from “token.”

Rice is particularly symbolic in reflecting upon the 1970 USC-Alabama game. She grew up in segregated Birmingham and knew one of the little black girls killed when the KKK blew up a church there in the early 1960s.

Bush rode to success on the heels of successful Republican Congressional strategies and Clinton’s horrid personal immorality. 1994’s Contract With America was orchestrated by Georgia’s Newt Gingrich, the Speaker of the House. It was a brilliant campaign that completely devastated the Democrat Party.

Bush’s Presidency, beginning in 2001, benefited from the Republican majorities birthed by the Contract With America. After some party switching that briefly gave the Senate to the Democrats, Bush presided over historic Republican mid-term victories in 2002, and in 2004 he won re-election with the largest vote count in history, in the most high-turnout election ever. The Republicans dominate every level of U.S. politics - the House, the Senate, Governors, the courts, and state legislatures. The key was “moral values” in the heartland, and the South was solidly behind Bush and his party. No American President, with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln’s Northern backers during the Civil War, has been more popular in a region than Bush in the South.

Republican hegemony in the 21st Century South has given rise to some telling observations. After the 2004 elections, Democrats in the "blue states" complained that "banjo pickers" and "cross-breeders" had decided the White House. This unfortunate statement, made en masse by a huge portion of the Left, is not only a lie but also the height of hypocrisy. Using the legal "but-for" method of proximate causation, an examination of the facts reveals just how hypocritical.

For many decades, the South was backward. Their rural counties often lacked running water, electricity and indoor plumbing, much less cable TV or computers. For all the decades in which a large swath of the South actually was ignorant, two constants remained:

·      They were racist.

·      They were Democrats.

 

After the TVA Authority was established and Federal works projects brought modernity

 

 

 

THE TURNING OF THE TIDE

A truly American story

 

By JOHN PAPADAKIS & SAM "BAM" CUNNINGHAM

WITH STEVEN TRAVERS

 

STEVEN TRAVERS

111 Oak Springs Dr.

San Anselmo, CA 94960-1324

(415) 456-6898

USC STEVE1@aol.com

 

 

 

 

 

"The Turning of the Tide" promises to be a book that captures all the best elements of what makes a great read - history, both as told by the actual participants who made that history, and by a historian who possesses the skills to analyze the effects of that history. Furthermore, this book will fit into almost every "niche" that bookseller's will try to place it in. It will be of great interest to the national football fan bases of the University of Southern California and the University of Alabama; sports fans in the West and the South; and fans across the Fruited Plain. It is, however, much more than a sports book. It is a book about America, and how, as Abraham Lincoln called them, "the better angels of our nature" allowed a divided nation to come together 100 years after the Civil War. This is a book that is not just about football and racism. It will contain all the elements of great storytelling that push great drama, written in both in the novelistic, narrative style of Tom Wolfe, but also in the first-person "this is my story" style of the men who made it happen. It is a tale of how events surrounding a single football game crystallized the successful works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., two years after his murder. Therefore, it will be an impossible-to-putdown read for proud African-Americans seeking to find meaning in society; for white Americans interested in seeing how their country made the choice to be on the right side of history; and for international readers who wish to know the heart and soul of our great nation. 

 

CONCEPT

 

In September of 1970, a black USC sophomore running back from Santa Barbara, California named Sam "Bam" Cunningham, in the words of the late SC assistant coach Marv Goux, "did more to integrate the South in three hours than Martin Luther King did in 20 years."

The University of Southern California Trojans football team, led by legendary coach John McKay, traveled to Birmingham, Alabama to do battle with the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, led by even more-legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. The game was played at the venerable Legion Field on a sweltering hot late Summer night. A capacity crowd was on hand to watch two of college football's all-time greatest football programs play each other, at a time in which the Trojans were at the height of their glory, and the Tide was ever-so-slightly on the downgrade.

Normally, this event would not have been any more significant than other major inter-sectional confrontations, such as Notre Dame tackling Michigan, UCLA sparring with Ohio State, or Oklahoma taking on Penn State. So why did Sports Illustrated rank it the sixth most important sporting event of the 20th Century? Why are ESPN and Fox Sports preparing to make a documentary about it? Why do the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the L.A. Daily News and the Orange County Register still writing about it to this day? Why did famed L.A. Times sports columnist Jim Murray write at the time that the event ushered the state of Alabama back "into the Union"? Why is the Hollywood Reporter coming out with articles about how this game will be depicted in a movie and that a director is already attached? Finally, why would this be a Best Selling book?

Because "The Turning of the Tide" is a feel-good story about how American sports transcends societal differences, and therefore it shall reach that elusive audience of readers who want to be informed, who want to learn something they did not know, who wants answers to societies' most vexing problems. Therefore, we have the potential for a book that will not just be bought in stores, but will be required reading in schools. It is a blueprint for how America can do better by combining two of the great philosophies of Western civilization, Platonic justice and Christian love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MARKETPLACE

There exists an enormous, institutional base of readers who will be attracted to "The Turning of the Tide" like a moth to a flame. Let us start with the University of Southern California.

A book about USC's football history could not come at a better time. First, USC's two greatest historians, Jim Murray and Mal Florence, have passed away, leaving a void when it comes to the telling of their storied traditions. 

USC is as "golden" as any college football team has probably ever been. Head coach Pete Carroll is a hero in L.A. In 2002, he led the Trojans to an Orange Bowl victory while quarterback Carson Palmer garnered the Heisman Trophy. In 2003 he took Southern California all the way to the Promised Land, their first National Championship since 1978. His 2004 Trojans have been ranked number one by every publication and poll since the pre-season, and there is talk that not only will they be the first repeat National Champions since 1995, but that this young team may be the greatest ever.

Junior All-American quarterback Matt Leinart is the current favorite for the Heisman. Sophomore All-American running back Reggie "The President" Bush (a common t-shirt seen at SC games reads "BUSH/LEINART '04") will be a finalist at the New York ceremony and may be next year's favorite. The 2005 Trojans could win a third straight national title, and SC could even challenge Oklahoma's 57-game winning streak of the 1950s. This is just the beginning of the greatest dynasty since Notre Dame's Knute Rockne.

USC is located in the second greatest media market in the world, the center of attention and the talk of legions of loyal fans and alumni who are spread throughout not just America but the world. With no pro football in L.A., they are selling out 90,000 fans to all their games at the Coliseum and are the hottest ticket the region has ever seen. USC fans cannot get enough when it comes to their school.

"The Turning of the Tide" will be sold in block quantity to the SC bookstore, alumni association, fan clubs and web sites. The University has great experience marketing itself, especially in football, where they have successfully promoted six Heisman Trophy winners. They will cooperate in the marketing of this book.

The University of Alabama, incredibly, may be more enthusiastic about their Crimson Tide than USC fans feel about their Trojans. They will buy this book because it will be a source of pride for them, describing not how they changed because of protest, political pressure and the righteous indignation of meddling Northerners, but rather because they looked to a leader, Bear Bryant, who told them what was obvious to them was true, and that this truth could only lead to a change of heart from within.

There is term that is given to a sports book that goes beyond the playing field, teaching stories about life and history, and at the same time informing people with "the rest of the story" - news they previously did not know about famous people. The term is Best Seller!

Hollywood already has come calling. So, too, will the academic community, the historians and the curious. It will be appealing to young and old alike with its timeless message of equality. It will bring black and white together. It contains the most appealing elements of the liberal 1960s and the conservative ethos that often put into practice what previously seemed to be Utopian ideals.

This book will be written in the first-person by the two men who lived it, USC football players John Papadakis and Sam "Bam" Cunningham. Individual chapters will be devoted to their particular telling of the tale. But because it is a book with so many historical, societal and political implications, author Steven Travers will intersperce it with chapters that tell the larger story of a changing America - then and now.

Because the author will have the full cooperation of all the participants, plus the athletic department and football programs at USC and Alabama, and the USC sports information office, the book will contain numerous wonderful photos and documents that will look like nothing less than a snapshot of a unique time and place in U.S. history. 

 

 

 

COMPETITION

There has never been a book quite like "The Turning of the Tide". However, this book will pick up on the popularity and general theme that turned the 2000 film "Remember the Titans" into a huge hit. Obviously, there have been many books about sports, and many books about society. Few, however, have been able to make the connection between the two. One that did was David Halberstam's "October 1964", which described the two World Series teams that year as mirrors of a changing country.

The St. Louis Cardinals were a young, aggressive and diverse group of whites, blacks and Latinos. They looked like the Democrats. The New York Yankees were a veteran, mostly-white team of tradition and Wall Street polish. They were the Republicans. The Cardinals' victory foreshadowed a time of change in America, and the return of the Yankees more than a decade later mirrored the Reagan Revolution.

So, too, did the 1970 USC Trojans and the Alabama Crimson Tide reflect their environments. The Trojans were a unique combination of California Beach Boys and militant Black Panthers - glamorous, attractive and a little scary. The Tide represented the New South - respectful towards their elders' traditions, but with longer hair and youthful awareness of the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movements, and the world they would soon inherit.

Other books and movies that combined the themes of sports and sociology include "Friday Night Lights", "North Dallas Forty", "Ball Four" and "Semi-Tough".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE BOOK

Individual chapters will resonate "in the voice of" both John Papadakis and Sam Cunningham, each of whom lived the experiences of "The Turning of the Tide". They have unique takes on what happened, based on their life experiences and worldview. Other chapters will record the historical analysis of Steven Travers, who has the ability to separate the emotion of the participants from the larger picture. Cunningham has said that it took years before he realized that what he had done had such a huge impact on so many people.

The overall theme of the book will be upbeat, drawing on the good works of Plato and Jesus, so important in shaping the American creed that Dr. King had for so long urged the country to live up to. The book will not attempt to browbeat Southerners for their long history of bigotry. An example of how this book will approach the subject might be found in the 1997 Steven Spielberg film "Amistad". That film depicted how Africans were captured and put on a Spanish slave ship en route for Cuba. The Africans broke free, killed most of the crew, and were found drifting off of American waters. They came into American custody.

They were put on trial in the U.S. for murdering the crew, but their defense was that they acted out of self-defense in an effort to achieve freedom and return to their homeland, acts that were said to be justifiable under the circumstances. The defense worked, they were declared "not guilty," and were returned to their homeland eventually.

Despite the fact that the film depicted racism, bigotry and the evils of slavery, as practiced on American soil by Americans, the story nevertheless left the thoughtful viewer with a sense of patriotism. How could this be? The answer to that question is that the story tells how in America justice was done. It was done by Americans, using laws written by Americans, and carried out by Americans. No foreign power came to America, defeated America, and forced "justice" on Americans. America is where slavery came to die!

The same applies to the story of de-segregation in the South. Sports columnist Jim Murray put it best in the Sunday, September 13, 1970 edition of the L.A. Times, brilliantly headlined "Hatred Shut Out as Alabama Finally Joins the Union":

"OK, you can put another star in the Flag.

"…the state of Alabama joined the Union. They raitified the Constitution, signed the Bill of Rights. They have struck the Stars and Bars. They now hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal in the eyes of the creator.

"Our newest state took the field against a mixed bag of hostile black and white American citizens without police dogs, tear gas, rubber hoses or fire hoses. They struggled fairly without the aid of their formidable ally, Jim Crow.

"Bigotry wasn't suited up for a change. Prejudice got cut from the squad. Will you all please stand and welcome the sovereign state of Alabama to the United States of America? It was a long time coming, but we always knew we'd be 50 states strong some day, didn't we? Now, we can get on with it. So chew a carpet, George Wallace…Get out of our way. We're trying to build a country to form a democracy.

"The game? Shucks, it was just a game. You've seen one, you've seen 'em all…Hatred got shut out, that's the point. Ignorance got shut out, that's the point. Ignorance fumbled on the goal line. Stupidity never got to the line of scrimmage. The big lie got tackled in the end zone."

Murray would go on to write that the previous time he had been in Alabama, the only black man in the stadium was carrying towels, but that "a man named Martin Luther King" thought that if you paid for a seat on the bus, one ought to be able to sit in it, but that the only thing white folks in the state cared about was "beating Georgia Tech…".

Murray pointed out that the citizens of Alabama took their football so seriously that they realized that if they wanted to play in the big time, it would require integration. Otherwise, instead of invites to all the best bowl games, they would continue to be relegated to the Bluebonnet Bowl.

"And," wrote Murray, "if I know football coaches, you won't be able to tell Alabama by the color of their skin much longer. You'll need a program just like the Big 10. Grambling may be in for a helluva recruitment any year now."

He was prescient, but remarkably few others were. Murray recognized what Coach Bryant was trying to do, something even the likes of McKay, Marv Goux and the fans in the stands did not fully understand.

"I had no idea what had really happened at the time," Cunningham says.

The cover of the book should include a montage of people and symbols: Cunningham, Papadakis, Bryant, the Confederate flag and the American flag.

 

 

LEFT NEEDS TO GET THEIR STORY STRAIGHT

By STEVEN TRAVERS

 

Let me get this straight. George Bush is mired in a Vietnam-style quagmire in "his" War on Terror.

 

On the other hand, there is no War on Terror.

 

Teddy "Chappaquiddick" Kennedy says this war is "Bush's Vietnam." Such perfidy. He should examine the history books, which reveal mistakes his brother, JFK, made, and the lessons Bush has learned from this in order to avoid a repeat. JFK should have immediately recognized that the best way to win the "hearts and minds" of the Vietnamese in the early 1960s was to spread freedom the way Bush is doing now. Teddy's sainted older bro sat in the Oval Office listening to Henry Cabot Lodge give him play-by of the 1963 coup, either orchestrated by JFK's CIA or given tacit approval by him, resulting in the assassination of the South Vietnamese political leadership (read David Halberstam's "The Best and the Brightest"). Instead of this tawdry event he could have been watching the elections that he and the "moral" Robert Kennedy should have insisted on. To those who believe in such things, the Karmic significance of the Kennedy's allowing the murder of political leaders one month and five years, respectively, before their own demises cannot be dismissed.

 

Elections in South Vietnam may have created the kind of investment in freedom among the Vietnamese people that could have prevented the escalation of the war, which escalated in part because disenfranchised people supported the Viet Cong and gave sanctuary to the Communists. Compare JFK's assassination strategy to Bush's Democratic one, Teddy. You will see that Bush's strategy of spreading freedom and liberty has helped prevent the long-anticipated rise of the Arab street; Islamic fundamentalism dominating Afghan and Iraqi politics; popular support for insurgent terrorists; the rise of Islamo-Fascism on par with Soviet support of the North Vietnamese; and finally, do the math and compare 58,000-plus Americans dead in JFK's Southeast Asia, compared with Bush's1,400-minus fighting terror in Iraq.    

 

Teddy sees only quagmire, which he conveniently equates not with his brother's strategy but with that of his successors. Other unpatriotic Leftists prefer to insist that there is no War on Terror. Instead of rootin' for America, the likes of Michael Moore and Robert Scheer, who no longer have international Communism to hang their hats on, do not see the spread of Democracy. Instead they see mindless violence and an oil grab that never occurs.

 

The "there is no terror threat" argument leads the Left down a perilous road of great irony that only favors Bush. Consider the fact that terrorist acts have been orchestrated throughout the world, in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. In the 1990s, the acts began to occur on U.S. soil - the World Trade Center in 1993 - and increasingly against American targets in the Middle East. Along comes 9/11, an act that cannot be explained in the prism of Leftist "moral relativism."

 

In response to 9/11, Bush launched the War on Terror, both at home and abroad. The results so far include Democracy in Afghanistan and elections in Iraq. No further terror acts have been made against Americans. The Left now says there is no threat.

 

Based upon the "but-for" theory of legal proximate causation, if one takes the Left's argument to its logical conclusion, there were terrorists acts, followed by Bush's reaction, resulting not only in the cessation of terrorist acts but the cessation of the THREAT of terrorist acts. Therefore, the only conclusion available based on this argument is that Bush has WON the War on Terror by eliminating it from all possibility.

 

President's get re-elected on that kind of record.

 

Steven Travers is the author of "Barry Bonds: Baseball's Superman" (www.sportspublishingllc.com). He is currently working on a book, "The Turning of Tide", with former USC football stars Sam "Bam" Cunningham and John Papadakis, which details how the 1970 USC-Alabama football game helped end segregation in the American South. He can be reached at USC STEVE1@aol.com.

 

BUSH SHOULD WIN NOBEL PEACE PRIZE

By STEVEN TRAVERS

 

Afghanistan just held highly successful, peaceful elections. Democracy and freedom now have established a beachhead in the Islamic Middle East. This is a part of the world that was once controlled by the Taliban. Evil hijacked a great religion and kept Muslims in bondage. This has now been replaced by hope, courtesy of the Red, White and Blue! This is the kind of monumental victory - like winning freedom over England, ending slavery, building the Trans-Continental Railroad, making planes fly, building the Panama Canal, ending the Kaiser's attempt to Germanify Europe, ending Hitler's and Tojo's attempts to rule the world, kicking down the doors of the concentration camps, the Manhattan Project, creating Democracy in Germany and Japan, landing a man on the Moon, and sending Communism into the dustbin of history - that is only accomplished by America.

 

Some Truths remain self evident, and one of those is that if President George W. Bush were a terrorist (like Yasser Arafat) or a Democrat (like Jimmy Carter), he would win the Nobel Peace Prize for engineering this miracle. Next on the agenda is Iraq, which will be also be a success.

 

Let's see, now. Nobody in the world is more affected by the policies of George W. Bush than American military personnel. Stars & Stripes, the military newspaper, polled its soldiers, sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and airmen. The result? They favor Bush over John Kerry, 73-17.

 

The economy? Historically, U.S. economies that are doing as well as ours is right now reward incumbent Presidents with 57 percent of the vote. If Bush were a liberal, the fawning press would propel him, based on all his accomplishments, to 70 percent and 49 or 50 states.

 

Bush will win anyway, because the Truth is marching on! In his second term, he will reduce troop levels in Iraq. He will keep terrorism on the run using our superior technology, and eventually this will create lower military budgets that allow for an economic dividend. Following his conservative intincts, he will veer to the right, reducing the deficit. He will appoint judges who interpret the Constitution instead of usurping the will of millions of voters on issues like gay marriage. He will make major advancements that may just win the War on Terror before any Democrat ever ascends to the Presidency. Because of what Bush has done, Palestine will establish independence under his watch.  This will allow the U.S. to address the next great crusade, which is replacing evil in Africa with freedom from AIDS and despotism.

 

The Democrats? Their plan is to root against America. Every time a truck bomb explodes in Baghdad, they think it is a campaign commercial for their guy. Frustrated Democrats have even fired shots at or started riots in front of Bush campaign headquarters. Kerry's plan? "Rescue" by the U.N., Germany, France and Russia. These are the most corrupt political organs, maybe of all times. They were doing business with Saddam Hussein and did not want the gravy train to end. Their opposition to Bush had nothing to do with principle, and everything to do with naked self interest. These organs of world government are not a pimple on the buttocks of Halliburton, a courageous company that is the only one capable and brave enough to do the hard, necessary work of re-building Iraq. They should get more money. 

 

The irony of it all is that if Kerry did win, he would have a good Presidency, for the same reasons that Bill Clinton achieved some success. Thanks to Ross Perot and the fact the Republicans were victims of their own success (winning the Cold War under the Reagan/Bush watch), the GOP was robbed of its best issue, defense against Communism, giving Slick Willie the White House. Making full use of the post-Communist "peace dividend," with his feet held to the fire by a Republican Congeress, Clinton tilted to the right. All those smart techies, displaced by the break-up of the Military Industrial Complex, fueled the "information superhighway" of the peaceful 1990s, which gave him the great economy that he took credit for.

 

Similarly, if Kerry were to take over, he would inherit a successful, post-election Afghanistan, a post-election Iraq in which freedom is on the march because America has made it the most important prerogative of our times, and a rising economy, not the kind of dot-com bubble that created unrealistic stock markets and overnight 20-something millionaires. The American people, however, will not hand over all the emotional investment, all the hard work, and all the world-changing aspirations of a bold, optimistic President to the most liberal Massachussets Senator in America! In addition, the Republicans will increase their majorities in the Congress, the Senate, the governors and the state legislatures. Don't look now, but for the last four years there are more registered Republicans in America than Democrats.

 

A divided world? A polarized America? No. Bush's victory will send incredible messages to terrorists, Europeans and Americans. Terrorists would view Bush's defeat as a victory, the toppling of the American Presidency just as the North Vietnamese Communists viewed defeat of Lyndon Johnson in the same light. Instead, they will be forced to observe the electoral process working against them in Afghanistan, Iraq and America. They will not just fade away, but they sure as heck will have to re-think their plans.

 

Europeans will realize that they have no choice except to work with Bush, and to accept the fact that the U.S. is now the most powerful empire in the history of the world.

 

Americans, even Democrats, are sick and tired of the vitriol of this campaign season. After the Michael Moore's of the world threw everything but the kitchen sink at W, and after he wins anyway, he will rise in stature, the "man in the arena" who has survived the relative "war" of Presidential politics - twice. He will use his second term to build a legacy of Rushmore status.

 

The future will include the erection of statues honoring George W. Bush in Kabul, Baghdad - and maybe even the World Trade Center. The Democrats will take one last stab with would-be "savior" Hillary Clinton in 2008. She will be formidable, but if she loses, too, the Democrat party will split up like the old Whigs, and by 2012 they will look like something entirely different.

 

God bless America!

 

USC, NOTRE DAME DOMINATE COLLEGE FOOTBALL, SPORTS HISTORY

 

The 2004 college football season starts this month, and all indications are that Pete Carroll and his University of Southern California Trojans are poised to become the greatest collegiate team of all time.

 

The defending co-National Champions have a dynasty on their hands. They could very possibly win two or three National Championships in a row, possibly even challenge Oklahoma's 57-game winning streak of the 1950s. USC quarterback Carson Palmer won the Heisman Trophy in 2002 before becoming the NFL's number one draft choice. This season, Matt Leinart is the favorite to win the Heisman, and very likely go number one to the pros in 2005. His top competition for the Heisman and number one selection? All-American wide receiver and teammate Mike Williams, who will soon have his NCAA eligibility reinstated. This is a condition unseen since Army's "Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside" - Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis -  won back-to-back statues in 1944-45.

 

In case that is not enough, USC's Matt Grootegooed is competing for the Butkus Award, Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson are both up for the Lombardi Award, kicker Ryan Killeen is a Lou Groza Award candidate, while punter Tom Malone will be a Ray Guy finalist.

 

Coach of the Year? Last year it was Carroll, and he just may repeat the trick. The 2004 All-American teams are going to look like the Trojans' roster. Next year's draft will be an SC highlight film. But wait, there's more.

 

SC is Tailback U. again with not one but three of the best running backs in America - LenDale White, Reggie Bush and Hershel Dennis. Out of these horses will emerge All-Americans, more Heisman contenders and first round draft picks. None of them is even a senior yet. Two of them are still underclassmen.

 

Have I left out the fact that USC's last two recruiting classes were ranked number one in America, and the 2004 crop is thought to be the best in history? Not since the 1983 Nebraska Cornhuskers has a team entered the season with so many highlights. Therein lies the problem.

 

When a team is this good, watch not just for an undefeated season and a National Championship, but watch out for college kids reading their press clippings and being shot at from all sides by a nation of teams out to beat them. It happened to the Cornhuskers when their dream season was upended by Miami in the 1984 Orange Bowl. Last year, Oklahoma entered the fray with credentials almost as gaudy as this year's Trojans. They lived up to the hype, too, until the Big 12 title game and the Sugar Bowl showed them to be all-too-human.

 

Unlike the NFL, a single loss can upset the apple cart. USC is the hottest ticket in America's hottest town, the toast of Hollywood, the biggest thing in a media hothouse. For 20-year old student-athletes, this is a major challenge.

 

Nevertheless, it is fun to talk about, and at SC, a school that went through a long (13 years or 20 years, depending on your standards) down period, it is especially fun. Their fans are about as giddy as the Republicans when Dwight Eisenhower saved that party after 20 years of the New Deal in 1952.

 

Since Southern California has made such a triumphant return astride the collegiate football stage, and in light of the fact that we are still in the early stages of the 20th Century, it is worth taking another look at their historical place in the New Millennium.

 

Below is the All-Time College Football Top 25 rankings, followed by the Top 20 Greatest Single-Season teams in college football history. I listed the greatest college football teams chronologically; the best team for each decade; the best single-season team each decade, followed by great programs in back-to-back, three-year, five-year, 10/15-year and 20/25-year periods. I list the most prominent dynasties and the coaches behind them, and for good measure list the Top 25 Collegiate Athletic Programs of All-Time, the Top 11 College Basketball Programs, and the Top 20 College Baseball Programs ever.

 

It is subjective and opinionated. It is meant to stir debate, controversy and argument. It is not written in stone. However, it is not the ramblings of somebody who knows not what he talks about. I am a college sports historian and as eligible to compile these lists as anybody else.  

 

Let me say that I have given extra credit to the more modern powers. I believe that Miami's success in the 1980s is more impressive than Cal's "Wonder Teams" after World War I. Oklahoma's current run, in my personal view, is more impressive than the one they accomplished in the 1950s. The game has changed. Competition, money, television, scholarship limits, NCAA rules, recruiting violations and parity all play a part in this evaluation. To the extent that I believe the so-called "modern era" began, I trace it to 1960, which is subjective, yes, but as good an embarkation point as any. It was in the 1960s when the players starting getting bigger, the equipment up to speed, the coaching techniques improved, and the color of the player's skin became increasingly something other than white.

 

Based upon history, one is increasingly impressed with USC. Overall, Notre Dame ranks as the greatest college football program of all time. They have the most National Championships, the most Heisman Trophy winners, hold a solid 42-28-5 lead over the Trojans in their inter-sectional rivalry, and trace their glory days back to when Knute Rockne invented the forward pass in time to beat favored Army in 1913.

 

Notre Dame was the best college team under Rockne in the decade of the 1920s and under Frank Leahy in the 1940s. They had another major "era of Ara" (Parseghian) in the 1960s and '70s, and are listed among the top two-year dynasties (1946-47), 5-year dynasties (1943-47, 1973-77) and have three dynasties that are included among the 10/15-year period. Furthermore, they are Notre Dame, and all that that stands for: "Win one for the Gipper," the Catholic Church, "Touchdown Jesus," Ronald Reagan, "Rudy," "subway alumni," the Four Horsemen outlined against a blue-gray October sky, "wake up the echoes..."

 

Notre Dame's fans are the most intense and loyal. They are the team that played in Yankee Stadium, in Soldier Field, at the Coliseum against SC. Their tradition is the best and the oldest. They are number one.

 

For decades, the number two team was Southern California. This was not a coincidence. No rivalry in sports (or politics or war, probably) has done so much to elevate both sides as the USC-Notre Dame tradition. It put both schools on the national map. It pits, as SC assistant coach Marv Goux put it, "the best of the East vs. the best of the West." It matches the Catholic school with their Midwestern values against the flash 'n' dazzle of Hollywood, and it has never failed to live up to expectations.

 

Beginning in 1983, however, USC started to go on a downslide. They lost to the Irish every year from 1983-95. They started losing to cross-town rival UCLA in the 1980s and seven more times in a row from 1991-98. The Trojans' historical record began to slip. They lost their spot as the winningest bowl team to Alabama. Their all-time winning percentage slipped. Miami and Florida State ascended to the top. Nebraska left them in the dust. Notre Dame stayed at or near the top throughout the Lou Holtz era. Programs like Alabama and Oklahoma had, like SC, dropped, but regained their footing. Tennessee, Georgia, LSU and other teams, many in the South, rose in prominence. This was a direct result of integration and its impact has been very positive, but a school like Southern California could no longer lay claim to black athletes that were spurned by the SEC or the Southwestern Conference.

 

SC also lost major recruits to Pac-10 rivals like UCLA and Washington, not to mention Notre Dame and, in the 1990s, the Florida schools. Their "Tailback U." tradition was a joke, derided by enemies as "Yesterday U." Despite the fact that the greatest high school athletes in the world matriculate in massive numbers within 75 miles of the campus, they no longer had a hold on them.

 

The school began to win awards and recognition for its academic excellence, and it became an article of faith that this was the trade-off; great football teams and great students are not mutually compatible. All of it was B.S. Pete Carroll proved that.

 

Five years ago, a Top 25 listing of the Greatest College Football Programs of All-Time would have shown USC to have slipped. However, in light of their National Championship last year and favored status to repeat this year, Troy is now back to its second place status, poised to assault Notre Dame for the top spot in the next 10 to 15 years.

 

Long dynasties are hard to come by in college football, but as the following lists show, SC has a long history of doing just that. It is for this reason, combined with the glow of being Notre Dame's biggest rival, its great inter-city tradition with UCLA, and a history that goes back farther than almost any program (Michigan and Notre Dame are the only schools that go back as far and are still powers) that Southern California is not just second all-time in football but first among all athletic programs (and first by a wide margin in baseball).

 

The Greatest College Football Team in history is generally considered to be John McKay's 1972 Trojans. In addition, SC claims the best single-season team in the 1920s (1928) and '30s (1931). They are considered the best team of the decade of the 1930s, 1960s, 1970s, and now the 2000s.

 

Further proof of SC's ability to maintain a tradition is their consistency. The top dynasty period in history was the John McKay/John Robinson era lasting from the early 1960s until the 1980s. The Howard Jones "Thundering Herd" teams of the 1920s and '30s also ranks highly. Among the best three-year periods ever, none is better than SC's run from 1972-74. Among 5/6-year periods, consider three of Troy's eras (1967-72, the best of anybody, followed by 1974-79 and 1928-32).

 

The best 10/15-year period? USC from 1967 to 1979, but that is not all. Also ranked is the period 1962-72 and 1928-39. Among great long-term dynasties (20/25 years), nobody beats Southern California from 1962-81, when they won five National Championships and four Heisman Trophies. The Trojans easily have the most professionals, the most first round draft picks, the most Hall of Famers, the most Pro Bowlers and the most All-Americans. They are, undisputably, a football factory. The empirical evidence cannot be argued against.

 

Alabama fans certainly would argue that point, and they have plenty of ammunition. They were a national power as far back as the 1930s when Don Hutson starred there. However, they slipped until the Bear Bryant era. Bryant's dominant period, lasting from 1961 to 1979, parallels McKay's and is as impressive as any ever. However, the Tide was all-white until SC's Sam "Bam" Cunningham showed them, in Bear's own words, "what a football player looks like" in 1970. After SC's 42-21 victory, L.A. Times sports columnist Jim Murray welcomed 'Bama "back into the Union."

 

The Crimson Tide experienced a down period after Bear departed, regained its place with the 1992 national title, but inexplicably fell from grace for another decade after that. Their recent embarrassment in hiring Mike Price only to fire him for cavorting with strippers is indicative of their malaise.

 

Oklahoma's teams in the 1950s dominated as thoroughly as any in history, but that is a long time ago. They were not a major power prior to that decade. The Chuck Fairbanks/Barry Switzer teams of the 1970s and '80s were as impressive as any that have ever taken the field, but they became downright mediocre after Brian Bozworth's departure. Bob Stoops, however, has them right back where they were before, and then some.

 

Miami is number five based purely on unreal dominance in the 1980s and for maintaining an 18-year run from 1983-2001 that approaches SC's 1962-81 dynasty. However, until Howard Schnellenberger, by whatever means he did it, made them a power in '83, they were a college football lightweight.

 

Ohio State is sixth and could be higher. However, until Woody Hayes came along, Michigan, not Ohio State, was the dominant Big 10 team. Woody's long tenure is very impressive, lasting from his 1954 National Championship (split with UCLA) until Archie Griffin's second Heisman campaign (1975). The 1968 Buckeyes are one of the most storied teams in history, good enough to dominate O.J. Simpson and defending National Champion USC in the Rose Bowl. But Woody's teams always fell short after that. They would go undefeated, average 40-plus points a game, and make Sports Illustrated covers, but in Pasadena every New Year's Day, it seemed, their "three yards and a could of dust" offense was no match for Pat Haden, John Sciarra, or whoever SC or UCLA threw at them.

 

Penn State (7) has been a consistent national power under Joe Paterno since 1968. Their "weak" East Coast schedule cost them a couple of national titles, but the 1980s were Joe Pa's time. They have fallen precipitously in later years, and while they have played football in Happy Valley a long time (the Lions lost to USC, 24-3, in the first Rose Bowl in 1923), they do not have a tradition that goes back like SC or Notre Dame, either.

 

Nebraska is a relative Johnny-come-lately. Nobody knew much about the Cornhuskers until Bob Devaney's mythical 1971 National Championship squad. The Devaney/Tom Osborne era is unbelievable, but not devoid of criticism. Osborne may be just below Jesus Christ in Nebraska today, but Big Red fans took the Lord's name in vain aplenty when he consistently lost big games in the 1970s and '80s. Still, the 1971 and '95 squads rank as two of the top three teams in history.

 

Michigan has a hallowed tradition. They were college football's first powerhouse, beating Stanford in the first Rose Bowl, 49-0 in 1902. When the Big 10 started playing the Pacific Coast Conference after World War II, Michigan laid waste to the "soft" West Coast teams, which included pastings of some very good Pappy Waldorf teams from Cal in the Rose Bowl games of the late '40s. However, the Wolverines lost their place to Woody until Bo Schembechler came along. The Michigan teams of the 1970s mirrored Woody's - often unbeaten with gaudy stats until a pick-your-choice Pac 8 team (Stanford, USC, Washington) would dismantle them in Pasadena. In 1997 they finally won a National Championship and are a program of the first rate, but not number one.

 

Texas is a bit of a mystery. Darrell Royal's Longhorns won two National Championships (1963 and 1969, the last all-white titlist), but Earl Campbell's team lost to Joe Montana when the Irish stole the 1977 National Championship (going from fifth to first on January 1, 1978). Texas has never repeated despite occasionally being favored, but they usually are slightly disappointing.

 

Florida State was a girl's school until Burt Reynolds broke the gender barrier in 1952. Tennessee has a great tradition. The Heisman Trophy is named after their coach in the 1930s, and they won the title in 1998. LSU has two titles. Florida made a bid for supremacy under Steve Spurrier but seem to lose the big game more often than not. 

Michigan State under Duffy Daugherty from 1965-66 broke color barriers and challenged for greatness, but Gary Beban and UCLA beat them in the 1966 Rose Bowl, and they tied Notre Dame in the 1966 "game of the century." Georgia's fans are nuts, and the team is darn good most of the time. Auburn and UCA are two of a kind. They each have won one National Championship, and have all the advantages - weather, facilities, recruiting, talent - only to labor in the shadow of behomeths (USC over UCLA, Alabama over Auburn).

 

The Arkansas Razorbacks are always fun. The 1991 Washington Huskies were the 20th best single-season team ever, the Don James era was terrific, but they usually only go so far. Cal is so yesterday. The Brick Muller era died an ugly death when the school became the de facto staging grounds of American Communism circa 1964-70. The Pitt Panthers were great in the 1930s and in Tony Dorsett's 1976 Heisman season. Minnesota is forgotten except for a five-year stretch prior to World War II. The Army Cadets once dominated whenever there was a world war being fought (?), and Stanford has Pop Warner, Jim Plunkett, John Elway and Bill Walsh.

    

ALL-TIME GREATEST COLLEGE FOOTBALL TEAMS

Compiled by Steven Travers

 

All-Time Top 20

7      Notre Dame Fighting Irish

8      Southern California Trojans

9      Alabama Crimson Tide

10   Oklahoma Sooners

5.   Miami Hurricanes

·      Ohio State Buckeyes

7.   Penn State Nittany Lions

8.   Nebraska Cornhuskers

9.   Michigan Wolverines

10.  Texas Longhorns

11.  Florida State Seminoles

12.  Tennessee Volunteers

13.  Louisiana State Tigers

14.  Florida Gators

15.  Michigan State Spartans

16.  Georgia Bulldogs

17.  Auburn Tigers

18.  UCLA Bruins

19. Arkansas Razorbacks

20. Washington Huskies

21. California Golden Bears

22. Pittsburgh Panthers

23. Minnesota Golden Gophers

24. Army Cadets

25. Stanford Indians/Cardinal

 

Greatest single-season teams

1.  1972 Southern California Trojans

2.  1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers

3.  1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers

4.  1989 Miami Hurricanes

11   1999 Florida State Seminoles

6.  1988 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

7.  1979 Alabama Crimson Tide

8. 1956 Oklahoma Sooners

9. 1986 Penn State Nittany Lions

10.1968 Ohio State Buckeyes

11.1969 Texas Longhorns

12.1947 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

13.1945 Army Cadets

14.1931 Southern California Trojans

15.1975 Oklahoma Sooners

16.1919 California Golden Bears

17.1973 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

18.1948 Michigan Wolverines

19.1928 Southern California Trojans

20.1991 Washington Huskies

 

Chronological

1901 Michigan Wolverines

1919 California Golden Bears

1924 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

1928 Southern California Trojans

1931 Southern California Trojans

1945 Army Cadets

1947 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

1948 Michigan Wolverines

1956 Oklahoma Sooners

1968 Ohio State Buckeyes

1969 Texas Longhorns

1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers

1972 Southern California Trojans

1973 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

1975 Oklahoma Sooners

1979 Alabama Crimson Tide

1986 Penn State Nittany Lions

1988 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

1989 Miami Hurricanes

1991 Washington Huskies

1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers

1999 Florida State Seminoles

 

By Decades (single year)

1900s: 1901 Michigan Wolverines

1910s: 1919 California Golden Bears

1920s: 1928 Southern California Trojans

1930s: 1931 Southern California Trojans

1940s: 1947 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

1950s: 1956 Oklahoma Sooners

1960s: 1968 Ohio State Buckeyes

1970s: 1972 Southern California Trojans

1980s: 1989 Miami Hurricanes

1990s: 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers

2000s: 2000 Oklahoma Sooners

 

By Decades

1900s: Michigan Wolverines

1910s: California Golden Bears

1920s: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

1930s: Southern California Trojans

1940s: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

1950s: Oklahoma Sooners

1960s: Southern California Trojans

1970s: Southern California Trojans

1980s: Miami Hurricanes

1990s: Florida State Seminoles

2000s: Southern California Trojans

 

Dynasties

1. Southern California under John McKay & John Robinson (1960s-80s)

2. Miami (1980s-2000s)

3. Alabama under Bear Bryant (1960s-80s)

4. Ohio State under Woody Hayes (1950s-70s)

5. Oklahoma under Bud Wilkinson (1950s)

6. Nebraska under Bob Devaney & Tom Osborne (1970s-'90s)

7. Penn State under Joe Paterno (1960s-90s)

8. Oklahoma under Chuck Fairbanks & Barry Switzer (1970s-'80s)

9. Notre Dame under Knute Rockne (1920s)

10.Notre Dame under Frank Leahy (1940s)

11.Southern California's "Thundering Herd" under Howard Jones (1920s-30s)

12.Notre Dame under Ara Parseghian (1960s-70s)

13.Florida State under Bobby Bowden (1990s)

14.Texas under Darrell Royal (1960s-70s)

15.Michigan under Bo Schembechler (1960s-80s)

16.California's "Wonder Teams" under Andy Smith (1918-22)

17.Army under Red Blaike (mid-1940s)

18.Minnesota under Bernie Biernbaum (1930s, early '40s)

19.Stanford under Pop Warner (1920s)

20.Michigan's "point-a-minute" teams under Fritz Carlisle (1900s)

 

Best two-year period

1. Oklahoma (1955-56)

2. Nebraska (1994-95)

3. Notre Dame (1946-47)

4. Army (1944-45)

5. Alabama (1978-79)

 

Best three-year periods

1. Southern California (1972-74)

2. Miami (1987-89)

3. California (1918-20)

4. Southern California (1930-32)

 

Best 5/6-year periods

6      Southern California (1967-72)

2. Miami (1987-91)

3. Notre Dame (1973-77)

4. Notre Dame (1943-47)

5. Southern California (1974-78)

6. Alabama (1961-65)

7. Penn State (1982-86)

8. Southern California (1928-32)

9. Minnesota (1936-41)

 

Best 10/15-year periods

1. Southern California Trojans (1967-81)

2. Miami Hurricanes (1983-91)

3. Southern California Trojans (1962-72)

4. Oklahoma Sooners (1950s)

5. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1920s)

6. Notre Dame Irish (1940s)

7. Florida State Seminoles (1990s)

8. Oklahoma Sooners (1970s)

9. Penn State Nittany Lions (1982-91)

10.Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1966-77)

11.Oklahoma Sooners (1974-85)

12.Nebraska Cornhuskers (1990s)

13.Southern California Trojans (1928-39)

 

Best 20/25-year periods

1. Southern California Trojans (1962-81)

2. Miami Hurricanes (1983-2001)

3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1964-88)

4. Alabama Crimson Tide (1961-79)

5. Ohio State Buckeyes (1954-75)

 

"Close but no cigar"(honorable mention)

1913 Army Cadets, 1938 Duke Blue Devils, 1930s Tennessee, 1947-49 California Golden Bears, 1954 UCLA Bruins, 1966 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans, 1967-69 Southern California Trojans, 1971 Oklahoma Sooners, 1969-75 Ohio State Buckeyes, 1969-78 Michigan Wolverines, 1979 Southern California Trojans, 1983 Nebraska Cornhuskers

 

All-time Greatest College Athletics Programs

1. Southern California Trojans

2. UCLA Bruins

3. Texas Longhorns

4. Miami Hurricanes

5. Michigan Wolverines

12   Alabama Crimson Tide

7. Ohio State Buckeyes

8. Florida State Seminoles

9. Stanford Indians/Cardinal

10.Oklahoma Sooners

11.Louisiana State Tigers

12.Tennessee Volunteers

13.Penn State Nittany Lions

14.Arkansas Razorbacks

15.Florida Gators

16.Indiana Hoosiers

17.Georgia Bulldogs

18.Texas A&M Aggies

19.Oklahoma State Cowboys

20.Arizona State Sun Devils

21.Auburn Tigers

22.Duke Blue Devils

23.North Carolina Tar Heels

24.Syracuse Orangemen

25.California Golden Bears

 

All-Time College Basketball Programs

2021      UCLA Bruins

2022      Indiana Hoosiers

2023      North Carolina Tar Heels

2024      Duke Blue Devils

2025      Kentucky Wildcats

2026      Kansas Jayhawks

2027      Michigan Wolverines

2028      Ohio State Buckeyes

2029      Virginia Cavaliers

2030      Michigan State Spartans

2031      Nevada-Las Vegas Runnin' Rebels

 

All-Time College Baseball programs

21.  Southern California Trojans

22.  Texas Longhorns

23.  Cal State Fullerton Titans

24.  Miami Hurricanes

25.  Stanford Indians/Cardinal

26.  Arizona State Sun Devils

27.  Louisiana State Tigers

28.  Florida State Seminoles

29.  Oklahoma State Cowboys

30.  Florida Gators

31.  Mississippi State Bulldogs

32.  Texas A&M Aggies

33.  Arkansas Razorbacks

34.  Arizona Wildcats

35.  Georgia Bulldogs

36.  Oklahoma Sooners

37.  California Golden Bears

38.  Fresno State Bulldogs

39.  Michigan Wolverines

20.Clemson Tigers

 

USC: GREATEST FOOTBALL PROGRAM, ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT IN COLLEGE SPORTS HISTORY

 

By STEVEN TRAVERS

 

The 2004 college football season has come to an end with Pete Carroll's University of Southern California Trojans having completed the most perfect season in collegiate football history. There have been many "perfect" teams; that is, teams that went undefeated and untied en route to a consensus National Championship. USC itself has enjoyed their fair share of these kinds of wire-to-wire perfect seasons. But the stars have never been aligned for any team quite like the 2004 Trojans. First of all, they are the sixth team to be ranked number one in the nation from the pre-season polls through the bowl games. USC is the only team to do it twice. The 1972 Trojans, considered by many to be the greatest team of all time, accomplished the feat. But SC was also ranked number one from the end of the 2003 regular season through the bowls, and carried that right through 2004 without interruption.

 

The 2004 Trojans also boast the Heisman Trophy winner, two-time junior All-American quarterback Matt Leinart. His teammate, All-American sophomore running back Reggie Bush, was a New York finalist for the award. USC won a repeat National Championship, a feat rarely done. They are in the middle of a 22-game winning streak. They beat Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, a game that was previewed as the greatest game in college football history. The 1944-45 Army Cadets featured a similar winning streak and two Heisman winners, Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis. There are other teams that compare, but nobody has done it quite the way Carroll's team is doing it.

 

A few came close. The 1983 Nebraska Cornhuskers featured an undefeated regular season that included winners of the Heisman and Outland Trophies. They lost to Miami in the Orange Bowl. The 2003 Oklahoma Sooners looked to be on a similar path, but their Heisman winner, Jason White, faltered in the Big 12 championship game as well as the Orange Bowl.

 

In light of USC's recent dominance, it is worth considering their place in history. Not just the current Trojans, but USC's football program going back to the beginning of the 20th Century. It is time to take the mantel of "greatest program in the history of college football" away from the struggling Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and lay it squarely with the deserving new champions from USC. Furthermore, USC continues to lay claim to the greatest historical athletic program in college history, as well.         

 

The two-time defending National Champions are a dynasty. If Leinart returns for his senior year in 2005, they will be better than they were this season. Leinart will be a senior, the Heisman favorite (as he was all of this year), and a three-time All-American. He will walk away from his career with more honors than any player ever; three National Championships (?), two Heismans (?), the Johnny Unitas Award, the Walter Camp Award, the Maxwell Trophy, the Davey O'Brien Award, et al. He will probably be the number one pick in the NFL draft.

 

The 2003-04 Trojans are very possibly the greatest two-year dynasty ever. If they win a third title in 2005, that will be a first. They lose a couple of linebackers, but aside from Leinart, Bush will be a junior, running backs LenDale White and Herschel Dennis return, the whole offensive line returns, the tight ends and receivers are back, and the defense will be, for the most part, experienced. The 2005 Trojans have the potential to be the greatest single-season team ever assembled, better even than the 1972 Trojans. Soph-to-be Jeff Byers was the nation's best lineman coming out of high school and could win the Outland Trophy before graduating. Soph-to-be linebacker Keith Rivers was the top prep at his position and may garner a Butkus trophy some day. If Leinart leaves for the NFL, USC will re-tool at quarterback with one of two blue chip recruits.

 

In 2005, John David Booty will be a red-shirt sophomore. He was the top prep quarterback in America at Louisiana's Evangel Christian High School. His competition? Mark Sanchez, the top prep quarterback in the U.S. at Mission Viejo High (the nation's number two team) in Orange County, California in 2004. USC has had the number one recruiting class in the country for three years in a row. Last year's was considered the greatest of all time. The 2005 class, which will be finalized in February, promises to be just as good. The pipeline is endless. In light of the fact that they will enter next season ranked number one, favored to win their third National Championship in a row, they are worthy of continued hype. Consider that if Troy runs the table in '05, their winning streak will probably be 35. With either Booty or Sanchez living up to the challenge, maybe with senior running back Bush winning the Heisman and starring with a cast headlined by juniors Rivers and Byers, the 2006 Trojans could challenge Oklahoma's 57-game winning streak of the 1950s. Now we are looking at four National Championships in a row, but wait, there is more. Booty could quarterback the team in 2006 and 2007. Sanchez would be a red-shirt junior and senior in 2008-09. Considering that the last two SC quarterbacks (Carson Palmer in 2002 and Leinart in '04) won the Heisman, USC could conceivably come away with four more of the trophies before the end of this decade. The scenario could be:

 

2005: Senior quarterback Matt Leinart, USC.

2006: Senior running back Reggie Bush, USC.

2007: Senior USC quarterback John David Booty, USC (Oklahoma running back Adrian Petersen will be a pro by then).

2009: Senior quarterback Mark Sanchez, USC.

 

Number one NFL draft picks? Leinart, Bush, Rivers, Byers, Booty, Sanchez…these are just the obvious possibilities.

 

Let's go back to Carson Palmer and the 2002 Trojans. Palmer won the Heisman and was the NFL's number one draft choice. He is currently starting for the Cincinnati Bengals after signing a $14 million bonus. The 2002 Trojans finished 11-2, were co-Pacific 10 champs, and won the Orange Bowl. They finished fourth in the nation, but the pundits were in agreement that by that season's end, they were the best team in the country, even though Ohio State defeated a lacklustre Miami squad in the BCS title game. Had their been a play-off, SC would have won.

 

In 2003, USC won the National Championship when the AP voted them number one following a victory over Michigan in the Rose Bowl. Considering that they had a spectacular wide receiver, Mike Williams, a comparison of the 2003 and 2004 teams may very well favor the '03 squad. The '05 team, however, will be better than anybody - ever!  

 

How good is SC? Consider that the All-American Williams had his NCAA eligibility taken away prior to 2004. Had he played, he would have been in New York instead of Bush, and he may well have won the Heisman. Bush just took his place and the beat went on. Speaking of number one picks, if Williams shows enough at the combines, he could be the first player taken in the Spring of 2005. The draft promises to be an SC highlight film. Every year. But wait, there's still more.

 

Coach of the Year? In 2003 year it was Carroll. The only reason he does not win it every year is because they like to spread those kinds of things around. Give it to him every second year. This guy has gone through Troy's old nemeses, UCLA and Notre Dame, like Patton's Army charging through the Low Countries. In four years, he has presided over (through January 4, 2005) back-to-back National titles, two Heisman winners, one NFL number one draft pick, two Orange Bowl titles, one Rose Bowl title, four bowl appearances, three Pac 10 championships, three national-best recruiting classes, a wire-to-wire number one perfect season, a 22-game winning streak, a number one poll ranking for 15 weeks running (and still counting), three straight undefeated Novembers and (take your pick) records of 25-1 (2003-04), 36-3 (2002-04) or 33-1 (since October, 2002). Those are the facts. After that comes the speculation, the predictions, the hype. Has any coach ever done more in his first four years? Probably not.  

 

When a team is this good watch not just for undefeated seasons and National Championships, but watch out for college kids reading their press clippings and being shot at from all sides by a nation of teams out to beat them. It happened to the aforementioned Cornhuskers and the Sooners. In 1979, USC entered the season as the consensus number one. Experts were saying that team, like next season's, could contend for the title "greatest college football team ever." They were the defending co-National Champions and heralded that season's Heisman Trophy winner, Charles White, along with other stalwarts like Anthony Munoz. Not quite mid-way into the season, they took on Stanford at the Coliseum. At halftime the Trojans led 21-0 en route to another stomping. In the second half, freshman quarterback John Elway directed the Cardinal to three touchdowns, SC's offense stalled, and that 21-21 tie (before the advent of overtime) was just enough to deny them the national title along with the "greatest ever" label.

 

In 1980, the best prep quarterback available was Escondido, California's Sean Salisbury. SC legend Sam Cunningham told his alma mater about his brother, Randall, in Santa Barbara, and asked if he would start. He was told Randall would be offered a ride but the job was Salisbury's. Randall went to UNLV and then made millions with the NFL's Eagles. Salisbury was a bust. SC lost coach John Robinson to the Rams, went on probation, and took 20 years to recover fully.

 

Troy thought they were back when, in 1987-88 under Larry Smith, they went to back-to-back Rose Bowls, were 10-0 going into the '88 Notre Dame game, featured Junior Seau, and recruited the all-time prep passing leader, Todd Marinovich. By 1990, Marinovich was a problem child and in '91 they lost to Memphis State!

 

Notre Dame under Lou Holtz won it all in 1988, and seemed on the verge of a real dynasty. Then came Ron Paulus, who never won any of the "two or three Heismans" Beano Cook predicted of him.

 

In January, 2003, defending National Champion Miami rode a 34-game winning streak into the BCS Fiesta Bowl. Had they won, they would have achieved the rare back-to-back championship and been a team for the ages. So close, yet so far. Ohio State beat them, and in the last two seasons the Hurricanes have been human.

 

These are just two of many examples that USC should look to and consider cautionary tales. It does not take much to derail a team when they are riding in the clouds. Bad recruiting (will Booty and Sanchez be another Salisbury and Paulus?), drugs (Marinovich), coaches leaving for the NFL (Robinson did and some say Carroll considers his pro work undone), NCAA violations (their first-half '80s teams), or just a slip against great competition ('79 SC, '83 Nebraska, '02 Miami, '03-'04 Oklahoma) can be enough to derail a team and separate the great from the legendary.         

 

Unlike the NFL, a single loss (or tie) can upset the apple cart. USC is the hottest ticket in America's hottest town, the toast of Hollywood, the biggest thing in a media hothouse that does not have a pro football franchise and whose NBA team is yesterday. They set the all-time USC attendance record in 2003 and broke that in 2004. For 20-year old student-athletes, this is a major challenge, but they overcame it in 2004 and, under Carroll, appear capable of continuing their focus.

 

It is fun to talk about, and at SC, a school that went through a long (13 years or 20 years, depending on your standards) down period, it is especially fun. Their fans are about as giddy as the Republicans when Dwight Eisenhower saved that party after 20 years of the New Deal in 1952.

 

In light of USC's new status, below is the All-Time College Football Top 25 rankings, followed by the Top 25 Greatest Single-Season teams in college football history. The greatest college football teams are listed chronologically; the best team for each decade; the best single-season team each decade, followed by great programs in back-to-back, three-year, five-year, 10/15-year and 20/25-year periods; the most prominent dynasties and the coaches behind them; and for good measure the Top 25 Collegiate Athletic Programs of All-Time, the Top College Basketball Programs, and the Top 20 College Baseball Programs ever. A few prep dynasties are mentioned for good measure.

 

It is subjective and opinionated. It is meant to stir debate, controversy and argument. It is not written in stone. Extra credit goes to the more modern powers. Miami's success in the 1980s is more impressive than Cal's "Wonder Teams" after World War I. Oklahoma's current run is as impressive as the one they accomplished in the 1950s. The game has changed. Competition, money, television, scholarship limits, NCAA rules, recruiting violations and parity all play a part in this evaluation. To the extent that the so-called "modern era" began, trace it to 1960, which is subjective, yes, but as good an embarkation point as any. It was in the 1960s when the players starting getting bigger, the equipment up to speed, the coaching techniques improved, and the color of the player's skin became increasingly something other than white.

 

Based upon history, one is increasingly impressed with USC. Overall, Notre Dame's ranking as the greatest college football program of all time has to take a back seat to their biggest rivals from the West Coast. The Irish still have the most National Championships (SC now has 11), the most Heisman Trophy winners (seven to SC's and Ohio State's six), holds a 42-29-5 lead over the Trojans in their inter-sectional rivalry, and trace their glory days back to when Knute Rockne invented the forward pass in time to beat favored Army in 1913. However, Notre Dame has struggled too much in the modern decades.

 

Notre Dame was the best college team under Rockne in the decade of the 1920s and under Frank Leahy in the 1940s. They had another major "era of Ara" (Parseghian) in the 1960s and '70s, and are listed among the top two-year dynasties (1946-47), 5-year dynasties (1943-47, 1973-77) and have three dynasties that are included among the 10/15-year period. Furthermore, they are Notre Dame, and all that that stands for: "Win one for the Gipper," the Catholic Church, "Touchdown Jesus," Ronald Reagan, "Rudy," "subway alumni," the Four Horsemen outlined against a blue-gray October sky, "wake up the echoes..."

 

Notre Dame's fans are the most intense and loyal. They are the team that played in Yankee Stadium, in Soldier Field, at the Coliseum. Many of their historic games were against SC. The tradition of these two teams are the best and the oldest.

 

For decades, the number two team was Southern California. This was not a coincidence. No rivalry in sports (or politics or war, probably) has done so much to elevate both sides as the USC-Notre Dame tradition. It put both schools on the national map. It pits, as SC assistant coach Marv Goux put it, "the best of the East vs. the best of the West." It matches the Catholic school with their Midwestern values against the flash 'n' dazzle of Hollywood, and it has never failed to live up to expectations.

 

Beginning in the 1980s, however, SC dropped while Notre Dame stayed at or near the top throughout the Lou Holtz era. Other contenders emerged. Miami and Florida State ascended to the top. Nebraska left opponents in the dust. Programs like Alabama and Oklahoma had, like SC, faltered, but regained their footing. Tennessee, Georgia, LSU and other teams, many in the South, rose in prominence. This was a direct result of integration and its impact has been very positive, but a school like Southern California could no longer lay claim to black athletes that were spurned by the SEC or the Southwestern Conference.

 

SC began to win awards and recognition for its academic excellence, and it became an article of faith that this was the trade-off; great football teams and great students are not mutually compatible. All of it was B.S. Pete Carroll proved that.

 

Five years ago, a Top 25 listing of the Greatest College Football Programs of All-Time would have shown USC to have slipped. However, in light of their National Championships and continuing favored status, Troy is now ahead of Notre Dame and in the top spot.

 

Long dynasties are hard to come by in college football, but as the following lists show, SC has a long history of doing just that. It is for this reason, combined with the glow of being Notre Dame's biggest rival, its great inter-city tradition with UCLA, and a history that goes back farther than almost any program (Michigan and Notre Dame are the only schools that go back as far and are still powers) that Southern California is not just first all-time in football but first among all athletic programs (and first by a wide margin in baseball).

 

The Greatest College Football Team in history is generally considered to be John McKay's 1972 Trojans. Just ask Keith Jackson, who ought to know. In addition, SC claims the best single-season team in the 1920s (1928), '30s (1931) and 2000s (2004). They are considered the best team of the decade of the 1930s, 1960s, 1970s, and now the 2000s.

 

Further proof of SC's ability to maintain a tradition is their consistency. The top dynasty period in history was the John McKay/John Robinson era lasting from the early 1960s until the 1980s. The Howard Jones "Thundering Herd" teams of the 1920s and '30s also ranks highly.

 

The best back-to-back teams ever? How about USC (2003-04), Oklahoma (1955-56), Nebraska (1994-95), Notre Dame (1946-47), Army (1944-45), Nebraska (1970-71) and Alabama (1978-79)?

 

Among the best three-year periods ever, none is better than SC's run from 1972-74 (how about SC from 2002-04, or after next year from 2003-05?). Oklahoma deserves mention from 1971-73, or 1973-75. Among 5/6-year periods, consider three of Troy's eras (1967-72, the best of anybody, followed by 1974-79 and 1928-32).

 

The best 10/15-year period? USC from 1967 to 1979, but that is not all. Also ranked is the period 1962-72 and 1928-39. Among great long-term dynasties (20/25 years), nobody beats Southern California from 1962-81, when they won five National Championships and four Heisman Trophies. The Trojans easily have the most professionals, the most first round draft picks, the most Hall of Famers, the most Pro Bowlers and the most All-Americans. They are, undisputably, a football factory. The empirical evidence cannot be argued against.

 

On top of all this, USC counts the most Major League baseball players, the most baseball Hall of Famers, the most All-Stars and various dominant players. Despite not being known for basketball, a disproportianate number of Trojans from the 1940s and '50s are considered hoops pioneers. The "triangle offense" was invented at SC, and such stalwarts as Bill Sharman, Alex Hannum and Tex Winter played together before induction in Springfield. USC also boasts (along with UCLA) the most Olympians, the most Olympic champions, and if they had been a country in 1976, they would have placed third in total medals at the Montreal Games.

 

Alabama fans certainly would argue against Trojan football hegemony, and they have plenty of ammunition. They were a national power as far back as the 1930s when Don Hutson starred there. However, they slipped until the Bear Bryant era. Bryant's dominant period, lasting from 1961 to 1979, parallels McKay's (and Robinson's) and is as impressive as any ever. However, the Tide was all-white until SC's Sam "Bam" Cunningham showed them, in Bear's own words, "what a football player looks like" in 1970. After SC's 42-21 victory at Birmingham, L.A. Times sports columnist Jim Murray welcomed 'Bama "back into the Union."

 

The Crimson Tide experienced a down period after Bear departed, regained its place with the 1992 national title, but inexplicably fell from grace for another decade after that. Their recent embarrassment in hiring Mike Price only to fire him for cavorting with strippers is indicative of their malaise.

 

Oklahoma's teams in the 1950s dominated as thoroughly as any in history, but that is a long time ago. They were not a major power prior to that decade. The Chuck Fairbanks/Barry Switzer teams of the 1970s and '80s were as impressive as any that have ever taken the field (and pockmarked by scandal and probation), but they became downright mediocre after Brian Bozworth's departure. Bob Stoops, however, has them right back where they were before, and then some.

 

Miami is rated highly based purely on unreal dominance in the 1980s and for maintaining an 18-year run from 1983-2001 ('02) that approaches SC's 1962-81 dynasty. However, until Howard Schnellenberger (by whatever means he did it) made them a power in '83, they were a college football lightweight, plus their championship rosters too often resembled police reports.

 

Ohio State is sixth and could be higher. However, until Woody Hayes came along, Michigan, not Ohio State, was the dominant Big 10 team. Woody's long tenure is very impressive, lasting from his 1954 National Championship (split with UCLA) until Archie Griffin's second Heisman campaign (1975). The 1968 Buckeyes are one of the most storied teams in history, good enough to dominate O.J. Simpson and defending National Champion USC in the Rose Bowl. But Woody's teams always fell short after that. They would go undefeated, average 40-plus points a game, and make Sports Illustrated covers, but in Pasadena every New Year's Day, it seemed, their "three yards and a cloud of dust" offense was no match for Pat Haden, John Sciarra, or whoever SC or UCLA threw at them.

 

Penn State (7) has been a consistent national power under Joe Paterno since 1968, when they were in the middle of a 30-game winning streak. Their "weak" East Coast schedule cost them a couple of national titles, but the 1980s were Joe Pa's time. They have fallen precipitously in later years, and while they have played football in Happy Valley a long time (the Lions lost to USC, 24-3, in the first game at the modern Rose Bowl stadium in 1923), they do not have a tradition that goes back like SC or Notre Dame, either.

 

Nebraska is a relative Johnny-come-lately. Nobody knew much about the Cornhuskers until Bob Devaney's mythical 1970-71 National Championship squads. The Devaney/Tom Osborne era is unbelievable, starting with a long winning streak in the early '70s, but not devoid of criticism. Osborne may be just below Jesus Christ in Nebraska today, but Big Red fans took the Lord's name in vain aplenty when he consistently lost big games in the 1970s and '80s. Still, the 1971 and '95 squads rank as two of the top three teams in history, and Cornhusker dominance from 1993-97 was extraordinary (60-3, three National Championships).

 

Michigan has a hallowed tradition. They were college football's first powerhouse, beating Stanford in the first Rose Bowl, 49-0 in 1902. When the Big 10 started playing the Pacific Coast Conference after World War II, Michigan laid waste to the "soft" West Coast teams, which included pastings of some very good Pappy Waldorf teams from Cal in the Rose Bowl games of the late '40s. However, the Wolverines lost their place to Woody until Bo Schembechler came along. The Michigan teams of the 1970s mirrored Woody's - often unbeaten with gaudy stats until a pick-your-choice Pac 8 team (Stanford, USC, Washington) would dismantle them in Pasadena. In 1997 they finally won a National Championship and are a program of the first rate, but not number one.

 

Texas is a bit of a mystery. Darrell Royal's Longhorns won two National Championships (1963 and 1969, the last all-white titlist), and had a big winning streak that ended against Notre Dame in the 1971 Cotton Bowl, but Earl Campbell's team lost to Joe Montana when the Irish "stole" the 1977 National Championship (going from fifth to first on January 2, 1978). Texas has never repeated despite occasionally being favored, but they usually are slightly disappointing.

 

Florida State was a girl's school until Burt Reynolds broke the gender barrier in 1952. Tennessee has a great tradition. The Heisman Trophy is named after their coach in the 1930s, and they won the title in 1998. LSU has two titles. Florida made a bid for supremacy under Steve Spurrier but seem to lose the big game more often than not. 

Michigan State under Duffy Daugherty from 1965-66 broke color barriers and challenged for greatness, but Gary Beban and UCLA beat them in the 1966 Rose Bowl, and they tied Notre Dame in the 1966 "game of the century." Georgia's fans are nuts, and the team is darn good most of the time. Auburn and UCA are two of a kind. They each have won one National Championship, and have all the advantages - weather, facilities, recruiting, talent - only to labor in the shadow of historical behomeths (USC over UCLA, Alabama over Auburn).

 

The Arkansas Razorbacks are always fun. The 1991 Washington Huskies were the 22nd best single-season team ever, the Don James era was terrific, but they usually only go so far. Cal is so yesterday. Brick Muller's memory died an ugly death when the school became the de facto staging grounds of American Communism circa 1964-70. The Pitt Panthers were great in the 1930s and in Tony Dorsett's 1976 Heisman season. Minnesota is forgotten except for a five-year stretch prior to World War II. The Army Cadets once dominated whenever there was a world war being fought (?), and Stanford has Pop Warner, Ernie Nevers, Jim Plunkett, John Elway, Bill Walsh and the "Vow Boys." BYU won the 1984 National Championship and sports a long tradition of "bombs away" quarterbacks, led by Jim McMahon and Steve Young.

    

ALL-TIME GREATEST COLLEGE FOOTBALL TEAMS

Compiled by Steven Travers

 

All-Time Top 25

10                              Southern California Trojans

2.   Notre Dame Fighting Irish

·      Oklahoma Sooners

4.   Alabama Crimson Tide

5.   Miami Hurricanes

·      Ohio State Buckeyes

7.   Penn State Nittany Lions

8.   Nebraska Cornhuskers

9.   Michigan Wolverines

10.  Texas Longhorns

11.  Florida State Seminoles

12.  Tennessee Volunteers

13.  Auburn Tigers

14.  Louisiana State Tigers

15.  Florida Gators

16.  Michigan State Spartans

17.  Georgia Bulldogs

18.  UCLA Bruins

19.  Arkansas Razorbacks

20.  Washington Huskies

21.  California Golden Bears

22.  Pittsburgh Panthers

23.  Minnesota Golden Gophers

24.  Stanford Indians/Cardinal

25.  Brigham Young Cougars

 

Greatest single-season teams

1.  1972 Southern California Trojans

2.  1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers

3.  1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers

·      2004 Southern California Trojans

·      1989 Miami Hurricanes

·      1999 Florida State Seminoles

7.   1988 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

8.   1979 Alabama Crimson Tide

13   1956 Oklahoma Sooners

14   2001 Miami Hurricanes

11. 1986 Penn State Nittany Lions

12. 1968 Ohio State Buckeyes

13. 1969 Texas Longhorns

14. 1947 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

15. 1945 Army Cadets

16. 1931 Southern California Trojans

17. 1975 Oklahoma Sooners

18. 1919 California Golden Bears

19. 1973 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

20. 1948 Michigan Wolverines

21. 1928 Southern California Trojans

22. 1991 Washington Huskies

23. 1985 Oklahoma Sooners

24. 1976 Pittsburgh Panthers

25. 1962 Southern California Trojans

 

Chronological

1901 Michigan Wolverines

1919 California Golden Bears

1924 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

1928 Southern California Trojans

1931 Southern California Trojans

1945 Army Cadets

1947 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

1948 Michigan Wolverines

1956 Oklahoma Sooners

1962 Southern California Trojans

1968 Ohio State Buckeyes

1969 Texas Longhorns

1971 Nebraska Cornhuskers

1972 Southern California Trojans

1973 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

1975 Oklahoma Sooners

1976 Pittsburgh Panthers

1979 Alabama Crimson Tide

1985 Oklahoma Sooners

1986 Penn State Nittany Lions

1988 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

1989 Miami Hurricanes

1991 Washington Huskies

1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers

1999 Florida State Seminoles

2001 Miami Hurricanes

2004 Southern California Trojans

 

By Decades (single year)

1900s: 1901 Michigan Wolverines

1910s: 1919 California Golden Bears

1920s: 1928 Southern California Trojans

1930s: 1931 Southern California Trojans

1940s: 1947 Notre Dame Fighting Irish

1950s: 1956 Oklahoma Sooners

1960s: 1968 Ohio State Buckeyes

1970s: 1972 Southern California Trojans

1980s: 1989 Miami Hurricanes

1990s: 1995 Nebraska Cornhuskers

2000s: 2004 Southern California Trojans

 

By Decades

1900s: Michigan Wolverines

1910s: California Golden Bears

1920s: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

1930s: Southern California Trojans

1940s: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

1950s: Oklahoma Sooners

1960s: Southern California Trojans

1970s: Southern California Trojans

1980s: Miami Hurricanes

1990s: Florida State Seminoles

2000s: Southern California Trojans

 

Dynasties

1. Southern California under John McKay & John Robinson (1960s-80s)

2. Miami (1980s-2000s)

3. Alabama under Bear Bryant (1960s-80s)

4. Ohio State under Woody Hayes (1950s-70s)

5. Oklahoma under Bud Wilkinson (1950s)

6. Nebraska under Bob Devaney & Tom Osborne (1970s-'90s)

7. Penn State under Joe Paterno (1960s-90s)

8. Oklahoma under Chuck Fairbanks & Barry Switzer (1970s-'80s)

9. Notre Dame under Knute Rockne (1920s)

10.Notre Dame under Frank Leahy (1940s)

11.Southern California's "Thundering Herd" under Howard Jones (1920s-30s)

12.Notre Dame under Ara Parseghian (1960s-70s)

13.Florida State under Bobby Bowden (1990s)

14.Texas under Darrell Royal (1960s-70s)

15.Michigan under Bo Schembechler (1960s-80s)

16.California's "Wonder Teams" under Andy Smith (1918-22)

17.Army under Red Blaike (mid-1940s)

18.Minnesota under Bernie Biernbaum (1930s, early '40s)

19.Stanford under Pop Warner (1920s)

20.Michigan's "point-a-minute" teams under Fritz Carlisle (1900s)

21. Southern California under Pete Carroll (2000s)

 

Best two-year period

1. Oklahoma (1955-56)

11                              Nebraska (1994-95)

12                              Southern California Trojans (2003-04)

4.  Notre Dame (1946-47)

5.  Army (1944-45)

6. Alabama (1978-79)

7. Oklahoma (1974-75)

 

Best three-year periods

1. Southern California (1972-74)

2. Miami (1987-89)

3. California (1919-22)

4. Southern California (1930-32)

 

Best 5/6-year periods

7      Southern California (1967-72)

2. Miami (1987-91)

3. Notre Dame (1973-77)

4. Notre Dame (1943-47)

5. Southern California (1974-79)

6. Alabama (1961-65)

7. Penn State (1982-86)

8. Southern California (1928-32)

9. Minnesota (1936-41)

10.Oklahoma (1971-75)

15   Southern California (1962-67)

16   Nebraska (1993-97)

 

Best 10/15-year periods

1. Southern California Trojans (1967-81)

2. Miami Hurricanes (1983-91)

3. Southern California Trojans (1962-72)

4. Oklahoma Sooners (1950s)

5. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1920s)

6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1940s)

7. Florida State Seminoles (1990s)

8. Penn State Nittany Lions (1982-91)

9.Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1966-77)

10.Oklahoma Sooners (1974-85)

11.Nebraska Cornhuskers (1990s)

12.Southern California Trojans (1928-39)

 

Best 20/25-year periods

1. Southern California Trojans (1962-81)

2. Miami Hurricanes (1983-2001)

3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1964-88)

4. Alabama Crimson Tide (1961-79)

5.Ohio State Buckeyes (1954-75)

 

"Close but no cigar"(honorable mention)

1913 Army Cadets, 1938 Duke Blue Devils, 1930s Tennessee, 1947-49 California Golden Bears, 1954 UCLA Bruins, 1966 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans, 1967-69 Southern California Trojans, 1971 Oklahoma Sooners, 1969-75 Ohio State Buckeyes, 1969-78 Michigan Wolverines, 1978-79 Southern California Trojans, 1983 Nebraska Cornhuskers, 2003-04 Oklahoma Sooners

 

All-time Greatest College Athletics Programs

1. Southern California Trojans

2. UCLA Bruins

3. Texas Longhorns

4. Miami Hurricanes

5. Michigan Wolverines

6. Alabama Crimson Tide

7. Ohio State Buckeyes

8. Florida State Seminoles

9. Stanford Indians/Cardinal

10.Oklahoma Sooners

11.Louisiana State Tigers

12.Tennessee Volunteers

13. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

14. Penn State Nittany Lions

15. Arkansas Razorbacks

16. Florida Gators

17. Indiana Hoosiers

18. Georgia Bulldogs

19. Texas A&M Aggies

20. Oklahoma State Cowboys

21. Arizona State Sun Devils

22. Auburn Tigers

23. Duke Blue Devils

24. North Carolina Tar Heels

25. Syracuse Orangemen

26. California Golden Bears

27. Brigham Young Cougars

 

All-Time College Basketball Programs

2032      UCLA Bruins

2033      Indiana Hoosiers

2034      North Carolina Tar Heels

2035      Duke Blue Devils

2036      Kentucky Wildcats

2037      Kansas Jayhawks

2038      Michigan Wolverines

2039      Ohio State Buckeyes

2040      Virginia Cavaliers

2041      Michigan State Spartans

2042      Nevada-Las Vegas Runnin' Rebels

2043      Louisville Cardinals

2044      Arizona Wildcats

2045      Stanford Cardinal

2046      West Virginia Squires

2047      San Francisco Dons

2048      Syracuse Orangemen

 

All-Time College Baseball programs

40.  Southern California Trojans

41.  Texas Longhorns

42.  Cal State Fullerton Titans

43.  Arizona State Sun Devils

44.  Miami Hurricanes

45.  Stanford Indians/Cardinal

46.  Louisiana State Tigers

47.  Florida State Seminoles

48.  Oklahoma State Cowboys

49.  Florida Gators

50.  Mississippi State Bulldogs

51.  Texas A&M Aggies

52.  Arkansas Razorbacks

53.  Arizona Wildcats

54.  Georgia Bulldogs

55.  Oklahoma Sooners

56.  California Golden Bears

57.  Fresno State Bulldogs

58.  Michigan Wolverines

59.  Clemson Tigers

 

Prep football

De La Salle H.S. (Concord, Calif.)

Mater Dei H.S. (Santa Ana, Calif.)

Poly High School (Long Beach, Calif.)

 

Prep basketball

Verbum Dei H.S. (Los Angeles, Calif.)

Crenshaw H.S. (Los Angeles, Calif.)

Mater Dei H.S. (Santa Ana, Calif.)

Cardinal Gibbons H.S. (Baltimore, MD.)

De Matha H.S. (Hiattsville, MD.)

Power Memorial Academy (New York, N.Y.)

McClymonds H.S. (Oakland, Calif.)

 

Prep baseball

Lakewood H.S. (Calif.)

Redwood H.S. (Larkspur, Calif.)

Sharpstown H.S. (Houston, Tex.)

Rancho Bernardo H.S. (San Diego, Calif.)

Fremont H.S. (Los Angeles, Calif.)

Serra H.S. (San Mateo. Calif.)

 

Steven Travers is the author of the Best Selling "Barry Bonds: Baseball's Superman (Sportspublishingllc.com). A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is currently working on a new book, "The  Turning of the Tide", with former Trojan football stars Sam "Bam" Cunningham and John Papadakis. "The Turning of the Tide" documents how the 1970 USC-Alabama game ended segregation in the American South. In addition to the book, a film and documentary are in development. Steven can be reached at USCSTEVE1@aol.com.

 

 

COL. CHARLES T. TRAVERS: 1911-2005

 

Col. Charles T. Travers passed away of old age in November 2005. His obituary is late in coming, but better now than never. His memory is worthy of praise, for Charles was a man who did many wonderful things for many people, and whose influence far exceeds most.

 

He was born in San Francisco, and as an infant attended his first University of California football game with his parents. Charles grew up an earnest young man in the San Francisco of the “Roaring ‘20s,” but divorce and the Great Depression then created hardships for his family.

 

The Travers’s are of proud English stock, said to have come to America while it was still a series of British colonies, and according to lore fought in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Books written about the family say they settled principally in Massachussetts and New York, and founded the Travers Stakes horse race.

 

When gold was discovered in California, some membrs of the Travers family journeyed west, and while there are no reports of gold wealth, Charles’ grandfather did find work as an attorney. The family settled in the Barbary Coast boomtown of San Francisco.

 

Charles’ father, Charles Stevens Travers, was born in 1880 in San Francisco and became an accomplished journalist. He coverd the 1906 Great Earthquake for the San Francisco Call-Bulletin. In the 1920s and 1930s he lived in Los Angeles, where he started a silent film magazine much like the current Variety, called Out ‘n’ About In Hollywood. He also wrote stageplays, as his brother, Reginald, was an accomplished Shakesepearean actor. In later years, Charles S. Travers became president of the San Francisco Press Club, and editor of the Humane Society’s magazine.

 

Despite being an established California family, the Great Depression hit the Travers’s’ hard. Charles, his mother (known as Goggie), his brother Donald and sister Dorothy were destitute, but Charles determined to attend Cal after graduating from Lowell High School in The City.

 

“I had to work my way through the University of California in order to pay the $29 tuition,” he said in a 2005 interview. Charles was in attendance at the first football game ever played at Memorial Stadium. He was also there in 1926, the day famed coach Andy Smith, who helmed the fabulous “Wonder Teams” of the early ‘20s, had his ashes scattered over the stadium after succumbing to pneumonia.

 

Charles also joined the Cal-Berkeley ROTC, and was a commissioned Army officer when the United States entered World War II in 1941. He was an instructor at the Presidio of San Francisco, and stayed in the Reserves, retiring with the rank of colonel.

 

At Cal, Charles met the love of his life, Louise, who he married in 1934 and stayed married to until she passed away in 1995. After the war, Charles made his mark in business, rising to the vice-presidency of  the Utah Construction Co. in San Francisco. Among the projects he oversaw were the Bay Farms landfill and housing development in Alameda.

 

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Charles became active in Republican politics.

 

“I decided to run for state Assembly in what was known as a ‘silk stocking’ district in San Francisco,” he recalled.

 

His opponent in the GOP primary was a promising young attorney named Caspar Weinberger.

 

“Cap approached me and offered a deal,” said Charles. “Drop out of the primary to save him money for the general election, and in return become part of his ‘kitchen cabinet.’ “

 

Thus was a friendship started that lasted the rest of their lives (Weinberger passed in 2006). Weinberger won the Assembly campaign and became a rising star in California political circles. Through his association with Weinberger, Charles became an influential advisor and fundraiser. He was a close associate of U.S. Senator William Knowland, the former editor of the Oakland Tribune. He also entered the inner circles of Vice-President Richard Nixon of California, and another hot prospect of the Republican party: Ronald Reagan.

 

“I had a close affiliation with Dick Nixon,” Charles recalled in a 2004 interview. “Whenever I was in Washington during his Vice-Presidency, he would meet with me at the White House or Blair House for 45 minutes to an hour. I had a very productive relationship with him.”

 

As a fundraiser and domestic policy advisor, Charles’ influence grew, as did Weinberger’s, who was chosen as a member of Reagan’s Sacramento cabinet when Reagan was elected Governor of California (1966-74). When Reagan was elected President in 1980, Weinberger was named Secretary of Defense, a position from which he helped orchestrate victory in the Cold War over what Reagan called the “Evil Empire” of the Soviet Union. Charles maintained a close association with the Secretary of Defense.

 

Upon retirement from Utah Construction, Charles turned his attention not just to politics but to investments and his great love other than his family: Cal football. He became a  stock market expert, and in turn donated much of his accumulated wealth to his alma mater.

 

In the 1990s, much of the renovation of Cal’s athletic facilities came courtesy of Charles’ donations. To honor him, the Charles Travers Big Game Room (for post-game press conferences) and the Louise Travers Memorial Room (for the football team’s training table) were built at Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium.

 

Charles was not pleased when Cal became the de facto staging grounds of American Communism in the 1960s and ‘70s. He endeavored to put his money where his mouth was, and started the Col. Charles T. Travers School of Ethics and Policy in Government at Cal. The idea of the school, run by the political science department, was to provide a fair, balanced view of politics in an environment – the collegiate campus – increasingly leaning to the Left.

 

The school started out small but quickly became the most popular series of electives at Berkeley, spurring further growth over the years. It has also been credited with a small but rising “conservative movement” at Cal, a heretofore unthinkable occurrence. By 2004, Cal’s College Republicans were said to be the largest student organization on campus!

 

Charles was regularly interviewed every November as part of the Big Game with Stanford. He is said to have attended every Big Game,  and almost every Cal game – home and away – between the 1920s and early 2000s.

 

He missed only one Cal-Stanford game.

 

“My son, Chuck, was born that day,” he said.

 

In 2005, College Sports TV traveled to Charles’ Greenbrae, California home to interview him about his memories of the Big Game.

 

“Oh my, there’s nothing like the Big Game,” he told Meredith DePaolo of CSTV.

 

Charles indeed started a family tradition at Cal. Aside from his wife, Louise, his son, Chuck; daughter-in-law Beth; granddaughter Nancy; brother Donald; nephew Donald II; and brother-in-law Bill; all attended the University of California.

 

Charles passed peacefully in November. In December, a large memorial service was held for him at Memorial Stadium. A whose who of Cal dignitiaries from the world of sports, academia and political science paid their respects and made speeches.

 

“The first person I thought of when we were denied a 2005 Rose Bowl bid was the Colonel,” said Cal football coach Jeff Tedford.

 

“The Colonel took a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude with me at first,” said Cal’s athletic director, Sandy Barbour. “Then he found out I was the neice of Haley Barbour, former chair of the Republican National Committee and a U.S. Senator in Mississippi. Suddenly I had pedigree in his eyes.” 

 

Charles was indeed a man of fierce self-reliance, an entreprenurial spirit and can-do American attitude. This great nation was built by men like him; men who despite the hardships of Depression rose through dint of hard work, talent and dogged persistence to the highest levels of accomplishment, only to spend his later years dedicated to giving back to the communbity he loved and felt he owed so much. He was a patriot; loyal to family and friends.

 

Former Cal football coach Joe Kapp once said, “The Bear will not die.” He could have been speaking of Charles, whose physical body is no longer with us, but whose spirit will live forever, particularly at Cal.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

"IT'S A GOOD DAY TO BE A TROJAN!"

 

BY PETE CARROLL

WITH STEVEN TRAVERS

 

A BOOK PROPOSAL

 

            The hottest football coach in the United States is Pete Carroll, who in 2003 led the University of Southern California Trojans to their first National Championship in 25 years. Just a few short years ago, this was a highly unlikely scenario. Carroll had been fired after short stints as head coach of the New York Jets and New England Patriots. The hardcore East Coast media declared that he was "too soft," "too New Age," and definitely "too Californian" to succeed in the dog-eat-dog world of professional football. Carroll found himself battling for attention first in a town dominated by the New York Yankees, the greatest sports franchise of all time, and later in the "shadow of the Green Monster" - Fenway Park in Boston. Twice fired, he was out of football in 2000, wondering whether he would have a chance to be a head coach again.

            In the history of college football, two programs stand out as the greatest of pigskin traditions. One is Notre Dame, and the other is USC. These two hallowed institutions had created the best inter-sectional rivalry in America, beginning in the 1920s. They built themselves up, the rivalry developing great mutual respect for each other. Over the following decades, numerous National Championships and Heisman Trophies were won by these two schools. From 1962 to 1982, under the stewardship of legendary coaches John McKay and John Robinson, the Trojans enjoyed the most successful 20-year run ever. "Tailback U." won five National titles and four Heismans, but by 2000 USC was derided as "Yesterday U." Under Ted Tollner, Larry Smith, Robinson in his encore, and finally Paul Hackett, the Trojans had fallen on hard times. They experienced NCAA probation, drug and gambling scandals during the disastrous Todd Marinovich years, and just plain mediocrity. Their great running attack was a joke, and USC endured brutal losing streaks against Notre Dame (1983-95) and cross-town rival UCLA (1991-98).

            In December, 2000, USC was a program in flux. Athletic Director Mike Garrett, who had won the Heisman in 1965, was under fire, especially for his handling of Robinson's firing in 1997. Once considered a "football school," USC had been named College of the Year by the Princeton Review. The average freshman G.P.A. was now above 3.5; the film school was a virtual primer for Hollywood success; and the general consensus was that great academics was not compatible with national success on the gridiron.

            The school had won the National Championship in baseball in 1998, and maintained its great position in the "secondary sports." Like Stanford, it seemed that this was the best they could hope for. Football success had become the province of Nebraska, Miami and Florida State. Hackett was fired, and Garrett looked for the right candidate to replace him. Former Miami coach Dennis Erickson turned him down. So did former pro coach Mike Bellotti. The greatest college job in the country was no longer a coveted position. Coaches feared that the L.A. media and the USC alumni could not be satisfied. There was, it seemed, little upside at USC.

            Enter Pete Carroll. After three coaches told Garrett "no," Carroll contacted him on his own. His daughter was playing volleyball for the Trojans, and Carroll wanted to interview for the job. He was Garrett's fourth choice, and probably lower than that with the alumni, the sports talk pundits, and the writers. Tollner had taken Troy to the 1985 Rose Bowl before losing control. Smith had the Trojans within two games of the National Championship in 1988 before the Marinovich years, which set the program back for years. Robinson promised to return USC to prominence, but his second tenure was a disappointment. Hackett, an ex-Trojan assistant who had mentored the likes of Joe Montana in the NFL, had come in with great promise and enthusiasm, but quarterback Carson Palmer had never materialized into a star under his tutelage. How could Carroll expect to succeed where these accomplished coaches had failed?

            In 2001, Carroll did not start out like a house afire. His team was 2-5, which included another galling loss to Notre Dame. The only bright side was the comparison with McKay, who had presided over two losing years before leading USC to the 1962 National Championship. Carroll's system then began to take root. SC finished the regular season on a winning streak, won a shutout over UCLA, and made a trip to the Las Vegas Bowl. It was considered a modestly successful year by the diminished standards that SC had come to expect.

            In 2002, fifth-year senior quarterback Carson Palmer was frustrated when freshman wide receiver Mike Williams dropped pass after pass in a stalled comeback-that-fell-barely-short at Kansas State. A few weeks later, SC lost in overtime to Washington State in Pullman, and expectations were limited at best. But Carroll never lost his enthusiasm, and a trend developed. Great coaches tend to improve their teams over the course of the season. For the second straight year, Carroll did this. Williams emerged as a star, and Palmer came from near-obscurity to win the school's fifth Heisman. SC won enormous, lopsided victories over both Notre Dame and UCLA. Playing the strongest schedule in America, they won a share of the Pacific-10 Conference title, routed Iowa, 38-17 in the Orange Bowl, and finished fourth in the nation. In the off-season, Carroll achieved the best recruiting class in the country, and came into 2003 with a team promising to contend for the National Championship.

            Despite the high expectations, "experts" thought it would be a re-building year. Quarterback Matt Leinart was only a sophomore who had never thrown a pass in college, and if he failed, blue-chip recruit John David Booty would still be a mere freshman who had skipped his senior year at Louisiana's Evangel Christian High School.

            The running backs were all true freshmen and sophomores. Williams was a sophomore. They were supremely talented, but inexperienced. The team would have to rely on defense, which was a Carroll specialty. He had been the defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers in their heyday. The season opener was at Auburn. The Tigers were ranked number one by Sports Illustrated. Their touted running backs had been featured in the New York Times. USC stuffed them completely, taking the partisan, fanatical SEC crowd out of the game, and won big, 23-0. The Tigers no doubt felt the game was a great disappointment. In fact, it was one of the closest games any team would play against the Trojans in 2003.

            In October, Southern California lost in triple-overtime vs. California at Berkeley's Memorial Stadium, when their kicker missed a chip shot and a potential game-winning touchdown was lost by a goal-line fumble. The loss to the Golden Bears, who went on to defeat Virginia Tech in the Insight Bowl, was the only blip in an otherwise-perfect season. After rebounding from injuries and a brief letdown at Arizona State, USC was unstoppable. Their run against Stanford, Notre Dame, Washington State, Arizona, UCLA, Oregon State and Michigan in the Rose Bowl was one of the most impressive in college football history.

            On December 6, 2003, USC defeated Oregon State, 52-28 at the Los Angeles Coliseum, completing a regular season in which they set attendance records at their historic home stadium. That night, seemingly invincible Oklahoma was beaten by Kansas State, 35-7 in the Big 12 championship game. Both the A.P. and USA TODAY/ESPN Coaches Polls ranked Carroll's team number one, setting up a National Championship match-up with number two Louisiana State in the Sugar Bowl. However, late that Saturday night, Hawaii, who had lost to the Trojans in September, lost to top 20-ranked Boise State. Notre Dame had lost their finale earlier, and the losses reduced USC's "strength of schedule" component in the BCS computers. On Sunday afternoon, to everybody's consternation, the BCS in its "wisdom" announced that Oklahoma and LSU would play in the Sugar Bowl.

            Once the dust settled, Carroll showed great class and demonstrated that the BCS had in fact done his team a kind of favor. While they were denied the opportunity to play in the so-called "National Championship game," they were going to represent the Pac-10 in a de facto home game at Pasadena's Rose Bowl against their traditional Big 10 opponent, Michigan. They would be able to win at least a share of the National Championship, the Associated Press version, which traditionally has been considered the "official" National Champion.

            The Trojans dominated the Wolverines, 28-14 in a game that was the hottest sports ticket L.A. had seen in years. The Rose Bowl garnered enormous attention, earned the highest rating of the bowl games, and the controversy simply spotlighted Carroll and his program. They did earn the A.P. title, and even gained few votes from "rebel" coaches who voted them number one in the BCS poll. Oklahoma played poorly in the Sugar Bowl, demonstrating that they had not earned their place their. LSU won but in a highly flawed manner. USC was obviously the best team in the country, considered the "people's champion." Carroll earned National Coach of the Year honors from several organizations, and is currently presiding over a recruiting effort that experts say will yield the best crop of blue chippers in America.

            Aside from the in-coming recruits, USC returns 17 of 22 starters. Of those, most will be sophomores and juniors. Wide receiver Steve Smith will be a superstar, as will be the three running backs, LenDale White, Herschel Dennis and Reggie Bush (two sophomores and a junior). Second-year back-up quarterback John David Booty has All-American promise, but he will have to wait for junior quarterback Matt Leinart, the 2004 Heisman Trophy favorite. The second Heisman favorite will be his wide receiver, junior Mike Williams.

            USC will enter 2004 ranked number one. They have an excellent chance of winning two or three National Championships in a row, putting together a streak to rival Oklahoma's undefeated seasons in the mid-1950s. In the history of college football, there has never been a program that offers greater potential than USC under Carroll in the next four years.

 

"It's A Good Day to Be A Trojan" promises to be the football version of Michael Lewis' "Moneyball", showing how a New Age coach brought a different philosophy to the game, a philosophy for the 21st Century. Coaches will be emulating Carroll's methods for 30 years. Based on the words Carroll often utters to his team in the locker room before games, this book will be his authorized autobiography, co-written by Best Selling author Steven Travers, who captured Barry Bonds' historic 73-home run season in 2001 in "Barry Bonds: Baseball's Superman".

Pete Carroll is different. He is not "old school." He is not Darrell Royal or Bear Bryant. He is the perfect coach to deal with the modern athlete, and few have ever bridged the so-called gap between white coaches and black athletes. To understand how different Pete Carroll is, one must understand his unique upbringing. He was born in San Francisco and raised in the affluent Bay Area suburb of Marin County. Carroll attended Redwood High School along with the supercomic, Robin Williams. Janis Joplin lived a block from the school. Marin was the home of the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and bohemians living in the Sausalito houseboats, like blacklisted actor Sterling Hayden. Located across the bay from the University of California-Berkeley, it was a time and place of great social change. With the Vietnam War raging, anti-war protest, free speech, sexual revolution and irreverence towards authority dominated the atmosphere. Carroll was into sports and played them all. He starred in baseball for Al Endriss and in football for Bob Troppman, but despite his "jock" reputation, he was influenced by the times that were a-changing. A controversy ensued with the Redwood football program when players balked at cutting their hair per the rules set down by Coach Troppman, who was forced to resign over the incident.

Troppman, however, would remain one of Carroll's greatest influences. The undersized Carroll, a quarterback who had played Pop Warner football against future Hall of Famer Dan Fouts, another Marin resident, was not recruited out of Redwood. He played at the College of Marin before moving on to the University of Pacific. At UOP, he developed, earning all-conference honors at the safety position, but upon graduation Carroll was not considered a professional prospect. He went directly into coaching, first at UOP, then at a series of big-time college football schools. Eventually, Carroll moved on to the NFL, and became a defensive coordinator for different teams. Over time, Carroll developed a sterling reputation as a defensive mastermind, and by the late 1980s his name regularly came up in discussions of coaching openings in college and the NFL.

In 1994, Carroll was given his first big opportunity, with the New York Jets. The East Coast press went after him, saying he was too "enthusiastic," too much of a "New Age" California guy, and too soft with his players, who he tended to befriend instead of berate. The team was mediocre, and Carroll was fired. George Seifert hired him as defensive coordinator of the defending Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers, then was hired by the New England Patriots.

In New England, Carroll found himself vying for attention in a town dominated by the Red Sox, who played their games at the venerable Fenway Park, a stadium dominated by the "Green Monster" left field fence. After two average seasons, Carroll was fired again. When his daughter enrolled at USC to play volleyball and Hackett was fired at the end of the 2000 season, Carroll inserted himself into the coaching search.

It has been a family affair ever since. Along with his volleyball-playing daughter, Carroll's son has been on Pete's coaching staff, and his old coach, Troppman, has often been flown at Pete's expense to Los Angeles so he could be close to his protégé. Unlike many successful people, Pete has always remained close to his roots. Old friends, coaches and teammates describe cell phone calls from Pete, calling from the locker room minutes before kickoff or from a post-game celebration.

Carroll is handsome, physically fit, and charismatic in a manner that combines the wit and intelligence of John F. Kennedy with the football wisdom of Bill Walsh. His enthusiasm is utterly contagious. He wows recruits and their families, and has audiences spellbound when he speaks to groups.

At USC, when alumni long ago concluded that Rose Bowls and National Championships are their birthright, Carroll is approaching god-like status, on a par with such icons as "Gloomy Gus" Henderson, Howard "Head Man" Jones, McKay and Robinson. It cannot be emphasized too much how enormous an accomplishment, and how important it is to Trojan fans, to have the tradition of Troy restored in all its Cardinal and Gold glory.

In this book, Carroll will describe his philosophies. They are truly new, revolutionary ideals, replacing the tired nostrums of old-time grid coaches. Carroll, the Californian, a man of the Age of the Aquarius, a man who routinely uses phrases like "cool" in a free and easy manner, has found the right combination for success. "It's A Good Day To Be A Trojan" is far more than the inside story of an overachieving football coach. It is a textbook for life, as applicable to business and sales professionals as sports fans. It is a book that describes a template for success in the 21st Century and it promises to be the next Best Selling sports book on the heels of "Moneyball".   

                                         

HARLOT'S GHOST

 

A novel by Norman Mailer

Synopsis by Steven Travers

 

Screenwriter Steven Travers proposes adapting Norman Mailer's magnum opus, "Harlot's Ghost", into a blockbuster screenplay. The story revolves around Herrick "Harry" Hubbard. Harry was raised to become a crack CIA agent. His father is a career Company man, and he comes under the wing of his Godfather and mentor, Hugh Tremont Montague (bases on James Jesus Angleton). Montague, also known as Harlot, shepherds him through the Ivy League and into the cloistered, early 1950s world of the Central Intelligence Agency. A battle for Harry's "soul" occurs between his father and Harlot.

 

Harry falls in love with the beautiful and redoubtable Kitteredge, who has also come under Harlot's spell. Kitteredge becomes a CIA psycho-analyst, charged with getting to the root of male-female differences by studying the Alpha and Omega of human personality. She marries the older Harlot, and has a long affair with Harry, all of it supposedly kept "secret" from Harlot.

 

Harry matures into a top CIA operative. His station assignments take him to Latin America, where the Company orchestrates political overthrows and fights a desperate propaganda war against Communist insurgents. The CIA in the 1950s is composed of pipe-smoking, tweed-coated Ivy Leaguers obsessed with defeating atheistic Marxist-Stalinists in every corner of the globe. They go by a staunch code of Episcopalian Christianity, convinced beyond all doubt that they fight on the side of good against the worst possible evil. They are the new Church of America, where the secrets are kept.

 

Harry's assignments range from Latin America to Berlin to Washington, D.C. to the Bay of Pigs. He works closely with real-life historical figures, such as Watergate "plumber" E. Howard Hunt. He is directed to start an affair with a beautiful femme fatale based on Judith Campbell Exner, and becomes a CIA liaison/spy between the Company, John F. Kennedy and a Sam Giancana character.

 

Eventually, Kitteredge divorces Harlot and marries Harry. Harlot dies in mysterious circumstances, just as Harry is learning of a nefarious plot to assassinate President Kennedy. His failed attempts to get to the bottom of the assassination plans before they are carried out, mixed with his "taking" the young wife from his mentor, represent the loss of innocence in an end-of-Camelot scenario.   

 

 

STEVEN TRAVERS is the author of the critically acclaimed Best Seller "Barry Bonds: Baseball’s Superman" (www.sportspublishingllc.com), currently in multiple re-print , available in paperback, and nominated for a Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of 2002. A former sports columnist for the San Francisco Examiner and StreetZebra magazine in Los Angeles, he wrote for the L.A. Times as well. Travers is also an award-winning screenwriter and author of the novel "Angry White Male". An ex-professional baseball player, Travers struck out 1989 National League Most Valuable Player Kevin Mitchell five times in one night (striking out 15 that game) while pitching in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. He was also a teammate of Jose Canseco in the Oakland Athletics organization. Pitching for the A’s vs. San Francisco in a Major League exhibition game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Travers struck out the side against the Giants en route to three scoreless innings.

Steve’s suburban California high school team won the National Championship team in his senior year. The 6-6, 225-pound Travers attended college on an athletic scholarship and he was an all-conference pitcher. Steven graduated from the University of Southern California, where he knew baseball heroes Mark McGwire and Randy Johnson. Travers studied in the USC School of Cinema-Television, as well as in the UCLA Writers’ Program.

Steven served in the United States Army during the Persian Gulf War. He coached baseball at USC, the University of California-Berkeley, and for one year in Berlin, Germany. After attending law school, he was a political consultant and a sports agent before embarking on a writing career. His screenplays include “The Lost Battalion”, “Wicked”, and “Once He Was An Angel”, the story of ex-baseball player Bo Belinsky.

Travers is a sixth-generation Californian who still resides in the Golden State. He has one daughter, Elizabeth Travers.

 

NOVEL BY STEVEN TRAVERS

 

ANGRY WHITE MALE

 

"Angry White Male" follows the life of Stan Taylor, the white scion of a prominent California family, and his baseball rival since childhood, the African-American superstar Billy Boswell. This is a book that is drenched with pornographic sex, racial tensions, obsession, jealousy, and bitter business dealings rife with surprising twists of fate. Disparate elements of lust and modern worldly wants constantly interject with Stan's self-taught religious values and the need to live a life of moderation while making moral choices. In other words, all the things that makes life worth living!

 

Stan struggles to live up to the standards of success set by the Taylor's who preceded him since the Revolutionary War and the Gold Rush. In particular, he must deal with being an only child in an affluent, dysfunctional family, and growing up amongst rich white kids with questionable racial attitudes in Palos Verdes Estates. His alcoholic, attorney father, tormented by his own failure to succeed as a professional athlete or attain his ambitions in Republican politics, bitterly finds blame in all but himself: Minorities, liberals and a host of "others" who are obstacles to his vision of success. As Stan grows up and shows great promise in baseball, his father lives vicariously through his son, leaving little breathing room for Stan to be his own man. Stan's mother, dominated by her heavy-drinking husband, loses focus of her own self and becomes an unwitting accomplice over years of verbal abuse that becomes so common place that Stan's parents are unable to see their own faults.

 

Beginning in little league, Stan excels at every level of baseball, but Boswell, the son of a Major League star, frustratingly overshadows him at each turn. Boswell also has a white friend named Matt Hobli. Matt becomes his best lifelong pal; his sycophant, assistant, caddy, chauffeur, "beard" when he needs to hide women, in all ways Boswell's sidekick and shadow. Matt cannot stand Stan. Stan's father coaches his son's teams, but alienates the community with his loud, overbearing ways. The result is that Stan, naive, socially awkward, and sexually repressed anyway, becomes the object of adolescent derision that makes his youth years barely tolerable. Baseball and his own search for meaning, which results in Stan grasping for a beach head of Christianity, keeps sanity and hope alive. Not having grown up in a religious atmosphere, Stan's search for spirituality is one he takes on by himself. Stan and Boswell star for rival high schools, and for three more years when Boswell leads UCLA, while Stan pitches for USC. No matter how good Stan is, Boswell is always better, leading Stan to become obsessed with the arrogant Boswell, who seemingly glides through life, enjoying spectacular success in sports and with women.

 

During his college years, the blonde-haired, blue-eyed, handsome Stan, who has never had a girlfriend or experienced carnal knowledge, befriends wild party animals on the fringes of the early 1980s L.A. bar scene. He sows his wild oats in a series of outrageous sexual hi-jinks that takes him to the edge. He meets Rebecca, a promiscuous Linda Carter look-alike who fulfills his lustful needs. Stan sees in her a vulnerable potential that he is determined to help bring out. She mysteriously moves in and out of his life. Stan's friend Brad, returned from Europe and suddenly worldly, well-read and political, impresses Stan's father, who embarrasses Stan in front of Brad by calling his son a "stupidkid who doesn't know anything about the world." Determined to show his father, Stan embarks on a quest for knowledge, applying himself for the first time in college, and reading everything he can get his hands on - newspapers, magazines, books, classics, poetry, plays. In school, Stan meets Karen, a USC cheerleader who is practical and seemingly a good match for him. Karen becomes pregnant. Stan by this time has begun to formulate cogent conservative political and religious views. Convinced that he is mature enough to have a family, he talks Karen out of an abortion and they get married, despite her warnings that she "is a bitch whose made the lives of everybody involved with me miserable."

 

Stan, now 6-6, 235 pounds, embarks on a promising professional baseball career, but like his father before him, bad breaks beyond his control shatter his dreams of big league success. Stan's father seems to take his premature "retirement" harder than Stan does. A daughter, Kaitlyn, is born. Karen fails to take care of herself, becoming overweight, sickly and moody. Stan, who has never cared for children, and has always been selfish, changes dramatically after the birth of Kaitlyn. He becomes more aware of his Christianity, develops a social conscience, and for the first time feels pure, unconditional, over-the-top love for this beautiful child. Stan also begins to come to grips with his feelings about his parents, and no longer blames himself for the way they have acted towards him all his life. As he matures, he is able to exceed his father intellectually. This causes some frustration for his father, no longer able to dominate his son. It gives Stan some piece of mind and the ability to understand their relationship better. 

 

Stan, who has graduated from USC, enters law school as a Marine Corps officer, but his wife hates military life and leaves him. Stan gives up a promising career as a Marine JAG attorney to save the marriage, but to no avail. He drifts through coaching stints at SC and in Europe, and the inevitable divorce. He takes a job as a paralegal with his father's law firm in Los Angeles, where a politically connected attorney who has big plans for him in the Republican Party mentors him. But to the embarrassment of Stan and the lawyer, Stan discovers the lawyer's secret bi-sexuality, and the lawyer no longer mentors him.

 

Stan's soul is tortured by the fact that his beloved Kaitlyn has been "taken" from him when his ex-wife moves to another city, and he prowls lonely places of the heart, crying out to God, who he is convinced is the only one who can understand the pain he feels. He struggles with himself, his mind expanded by an unquenchable desire to read books and attain intellectual credibility, but he is unable to make good money and achieve professional success. He re-enforces his Christian faith, but finds himself constantly battling the demons of sexual desire and alcoholic consumption.

 

Stan becomes a denizen of strip clubs. Using his intelligence and a learned sense of timing, Stan observes the girls of the sex industry. He learns their tricks, their habits, and their vulnerabilities. He comes to the conclusion that the most attractive girls are the ones who can be picked up most easily, which goes against the common thinking of most men. Stan is able to tell, by observing habits, eye contact, and telltale signs, which girls are promiscuous, and which girls are in it just for money. He slyly moves from strip club to strip club, seeing which girls leave by themselves, which ones have boyfriends, and which ones swing by bars near the clubs. Slyly, he is able to talk his way into having sex with a variety of strippers and porn stars. These adventures lead him into some dangerous liaisons, which he manages to scrape out of; sometimes cleanly, sometimes with a cost. One porn star invites him to the Adult Film Convention in Las Vegas, where Stan finds himself engaged in wild swing parties with numerous beautiful women. For the young man who could not get a date in high school, he has come full circle, but Stan realizes that his view of women has been stilted. Perhaps because they seemed unattainable to him when he was younger, he has now reached out for a certain kind of fantasy girl, not a real person, but rather an object for his gratification. The conflict between good and evil rages in his mind. Stan, the thinking man, rationalizes, blames and asks questions about why he is the way he is. 

 

Rebecca re-appears, but her life has taken a downturn in a sea of drugs and promiscuity that leaves her on the fringes. Stan re-doubles his efforts to "save" her, but must question his own motives. Is he trying to help another person in a Christian manner, or is he motivated mainly by the fact that she has Vogue cover model looks and fulfills his most lustful sexual needs?

 

Things look to be on the upswing for Stan when he and a childhood friend form a company representing professional baseball players in New York. His partner steals money from the company, though, creating chaos, and there one promising client leaves. It is "Jerry Maguire" without the happy ending. However, a fringe client, an ex-baseball player who has led a colorful life, tells Stan that Hollywood wants to make a movie of his life. Stan, who studied film at USC but never pursued those dreams because baseball, marriage and practical necessities stood in the way, now writes the screenplay. It wins an award and gathers interest in Hollywood. Stan moves back to Los Angeles and writes plays and movie scripts with little success, but learns valuable lessons about the craft and business of writing. He runs into Rebecca, who has become a full-blown alcoholic and drug addict. She is dying of liver cancer. A few weeks later, he learns of her death, and he asks himself if somehow he is to blame. Could he have "saved" her?

 

Some years earlier, Stan had watched a porn movie starring a gorgeous, stacked blonde who gets gangbanged by an army of studs. Vaulted into X-rated superstardom, the girl appears as the "headline feature" at a strip club in L.A. Stan goes to see her, but she does not notice him. Stan follows her home and makes his move when she goes into a bar. He finds her to be down to Earth and easy to talk to. She talks about growing up and her great love for her father. She does not tell Stan she is a porn star, and Stan does not reveal that he knows. Many of the pre-conceptions of such a girl are dispelled, though, and Stan opens up to her about his own life, how his wife moved away with Kaitlyn, and how, while he is struggling to succeed as a writer, he has faith that his dreams will be fulfilled. A connection between the two is formed, and they fall in love.

 

Her real name is Michelle, and she lives in Hermosa Beach, California. Stan moves in with Michelle. She is smart and loving. She is crazy about animals and children. He introduces her to his daughter, and they fall for each other. Stan's parents love her. Stan meets her dad, who thinks his daughter is a swimsuit model (which she has been), and they get along famously. Michelle no longer makes gang bang porn videos, but she works for an exclusive Beverly Hills madam, who arranges for her to have sex with actors, celebrities and high-powered executives for enormous sums of money. The secret is maintained. Michelle does not tell Stan, and Stan does not tell Michelle that he knows what she does. Stan's career becomes the focal point of interest in the household, and Michelle gives him the kind of ego-gratifying support for his work that inspires Stan to strive forward. Kaitlyn moves back with them, and all seems right with the world.

 

Over all these years, Billy Boswell has become the greatest athlete on the planet. After achieving astounding success with the New York Yankees, Boswell has signed with his hometown team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and is on a pace to break the all-time career home run record. He is a millionaire many times over, and is considered the most high-profile baseball player the game has seen in years. He has also earned a reputation as a swinger with the women, a pain with the media, and a problem with his teammates. He, like Stan, has developed a taste for a certain kind of woman. Years earlier in New York, he married a porn star of his own, thinking that his greatness and celebrity would outshine the notorious occupation of the girl, but the tabloids trashed him and the marriage. Now divorced with no children, he is the most eligible bachelor in Los Angeles. Stan has tried on occasion to contact his old rival, but phone calls to his agent, the club, the team hotel, and to Boswell's parent's house, have gone unreturned. Stan has placed himself before Boswell next to the dugout at stadiums, even outside the clubhouse after games, but Boswell has never shown the slightest acknowledgement of a guy he grew up with him, and whom he battled against in baseball from the age of eight to 21. Stan has dealt with racial angst and professional jealousy of Boswell all his life, and becomes increasingly obsessed with him.

 

Stan's screenwriting career, while not a failure, is by no means wildly successful. He gets some TV work, some "script doctor" work, and has projects optioned, but he has not moved forward the way he had hoped. He and Michelle decide they want to get married. Stan begins to look for more regular employment. He covers high school football for the Los Angeles Times, and catches the eye of the editor. Stan's background as a college star and professional pitcher separates him from the average sportswriter, and Stan parlays his way into a column with the Times, which comes with some jealousy on the part of other writers who think he has not paid his dues. In particular, the Times' Dodgers' beat writer, who wanted the column Stan has, feels Stan got something he should have gotten.

 

Just when things seem to be going his way, Stan runs into trouble. Michelle has numerous friends, many of whom have worked as porn stars, escorts and strippers. Needless to say, they are beautiful. She has brought some of them to the house, and tries to engage Stan in a fantasy menage a trois. Stan turns down the offer because he wants to maintain the "secret" and the fiction that their relationship is wholesome. However, one of the girls stays at the house while Michelle has to travel. Stan has sex with her. Michelle finds out and leaves. The marriage date is canceled.

 

On top of that, Stan gets fired by the L.A. Times after the jealous beat writer sets him up. He creates a situation where it looks like Stan has falsified an expense report. The beat writer has also fooled Stan into missing a plane that he had to make in order to do a story on deadline, which he fails to do. He has changed the time on a wake-up call, causing Stan to miss another assignment.

 

Suddenly, things look bleak again for Stan. He moves back into his parent's house, and all the old feelings of resentment, the yelling, the screaming, and the blaming, play themselves out as if in some weird twi-light zone. Stan's father's attitude is still sour. He is filled with resentment of all the usual suspects. Stan is unable to comprehend why his old man is so bitter. The father has had a smooth life, with few bumps in the road. He has had a long marriage, and was able to raise his child with no interruptions, while Stan has experienced professional and personal disappointments, and faced the gut-wrenching tragedy of not being an everyday presence in Kaitlyn's life.  Somebody has tipped Stan's ex-wife what Michelle has been doing for a living, and she insists that Kaitlyn move back with her, even though Stan has broken up with Michelle. Stan has thoughts of suicide.

 

But something else is happening. Billy Boswell is going to break the career home run record this baseball season. A light goes on in Stan's head. He approaches Matt Hobli, Boswell's longtime friend who has always despised Stan since childhood. Stan tells him he wants to help Boswell write his autobiography, and that it should come with a big advance from a publisher. It will be a huge book. Boswell agrees. Weeks pass, and negotiations with publishers ensue, but the elusive contract with Boswell is not yet signed while his lawyers go over details.

 

Boswell breaks the record. Later, he holds a press conference. At the press conference, Boswell announces that he is writing his autobiography, and that his co-writer is the Dodgers' beat writer, who has stolen the project out from under Stan. In the media hullabaloo surrounding Boswell's breaking of the record and his announcement that he will be writing a "tell all" book, Boswell's ex-porn star wife is contacted, and she begins to reveal things about Boswell. Her comments are nasty and controversial, tremendous tabloid fodder. Stan contacts her about doing a "tell-all" book of her own, to get back at Billy. Then she turns up dead.

 

At first, much evidence points to Boswell as the killer in an O.J. Simpson-style murder. But as the police look further and further in Boswell's business dealings, they find that the evidence points not to Boswell, but to Stan Taylor. Taylor is arrested. The police paint a picture of an obsessed rival with a hatred of blacks, a failure in his own life who tries to ride Boswell's coat tails via a book deal. They point to articles Stan has written over the years, berating affirmative action and expressing elements of disgust at the failure of some African-Americans to rise above their circumstances and attain the American Dream. In some of these articles, Stan has demonstrated that outside of sports and entertainment, many blacks have not succeeded. The police say this indicates that he feels Boswell was not deserving of his high ranking in society because if he were not an athlete, he probably would not have been wildly successful. Stan is depicted as an ultra-conservative "Jesus freak" who killed Boswell's white ex-wife because he thought it was "unnatural" for races to mix. When the book deal fell apart, he became enraged, determined to destroy Boswell's life, they say. Rather than kill Boswell, the police say, Stan kills the woman who is trying to make Boswell's life miserable, making it look like Boswell did it to silence her. He wants Boswell to be destroyed and disgraced publicly, rather than made out to be a martyred black sports icon, but has not covered all his tracks. The evidence has come back to Stan. The police, trashing Stan beyond imagination puts out all of this.

 

Stan is sent to jail pending trial. Finally, the book reveals what the public, the police and Boswell never know. The real killer of Boswell's ex-wife is Matt Hobli. Matt is a closet homosexual who has always been in "love" with the heterosexual Billy. He has hidden his feelings for years, and watched the object of his sexual infatuation ride his way through a mountain of sexy women, driving Matt to distraction. Furthermore, Matt is not only a closet homosexual, but also a closet racist. His loyalty to Boswell has been the veneer hiding his confusing hatred of him all this time. He could not have Billy sexually. He had been no athlete while Billy was a star. He was himself obsessed with his own inadequacies while Boswell shone. He hated the fact that a black man could be catered to, seemingly given a pass through life. He has thought and planned often of killing Boswell, but never could pull it off. Matt, not Stan, is the Angry White Male! Finally, he has decided not to kill Boswell, but his ex-wife, so as to frame Boswell. Only he has not counted on Stan, who had plans of his own. After the autobiography deal fell through, Stan contact Boswell's ex-wife himself, to see if she would write a tell-all of her own to embarrass Boswell, who Stan now felt had double-crossed him (along with the beat writer). Stan, with his natural affinity for "fallen women," bonds with Boswell's ex, and they begin an affair of their own. When she turns up dead, he is the natural suspect.    

 

In jail, violent black criminals who have heard that he hated Boswell because he is black confront Stan. Stan is killed. Matt gets away with it. Boswell is able to go on with his life, making millions and being a baseball idol. His book becomes a best seller, and the beat writer makes millions. He signs a deal to write the screenplay, worth more millions.

 

At Stan's funeral, sweet Kaitlyn cries in the arms of Stan's grieving, confused mother and father.

 

"I love you, Daddy," she says to Stan's casket.

 

From Heaven, Stan says, "I love you, too, baby. I love all of you."

 

Book Review: "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand

 

A POWERFUL BOOK THAT DEFINED A POLITICAL PHILOSOPHYAND INFLUENCED INFLUENTIAL MINDS

Review by Steven Travers

(415) 456-6898

 

            Published in 1957 after years in the works, Ayn Rand's magnum opus, "Atlas Shrugged" is one of the most influential novels in history. It, and its author, have been vilified and deified. Reviewing this book is as challenging as it was reading all 1168 of its pages. "Atlas Shrugged" is truly a "piece of work." It is a triumph of philosophy, much more so than the quintessential "great American novel." The greatness of this book is in its ideas more so than its literary value. Rand is not a writer on par with Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, or Thomas Wolfe. However, she is a visionary, like her hero, Aristotle. Her fans are fans of her vision, not just her words, and she has spawned millions of them over the years.

            "Atlas Shrugged" was Ronald Reagan's favorite novel. It was the most influential book William F. Buckley, Jr. ever read. Obviously, this gives away its premise, which is conservative in nature and therefore anathema to liberals and the literary establishment they control. "Atlas Shrugged" and Rand herself were shoved into second-tier status by college professors and bookstore chains, but long before talk radio, she proved that conservatives win in the marketplace of ideas. Her works have been international best sellers for decades. Clubs, forums, seminars, web sites, and chat rooms devoted to Rand have given her legions of loyal supporters a chance to ask and get answers to the many, many questions that her novels have inspired. For years, Rand toured the country, delighting audiences who seemed to literally worship her. Following her own novel, "The Fountainhead", and influential non-fiction books "God and Man At Yale" by Buckley, and Whittaker Chambers' essential "Witness" (1952), "Atlas Shrugged" gave impetus to the conservative movement, which broke from the Rockefeller wing of the Republican party to launch Barry Goldwater's Quixote-like 1964 campaign; eventually the Reagan Revolution; and finally the sea change which promises to make the first half of the 21st Century an era of unparalleled American power.

             As a reviewer of "Atlas Shrugged", I think it is necessary to declare my political allegiance in a way that is unnecessary in dissecting Hemingway, or even the works of John Steinbeck. I came to Rand late in life. After hearing mythological stories of Rand's influence, I felt the need to know what others have come to know before me. However, I have never attended a Rand seminar, and outside of reading a few web sites, I am a relative babe in the Randian woods. I think this is to my benefit, since I do not possess the answers to the many questions "Atlas Shrugged" inspires. I shall endeavor to ask these questions in the course of this review.

            I am conservative, and therefore pre-disposed to accept Rand's philosophy. Upon learning that "Atlas" helped form the minds of Buckley and Reagan, no self-respecting member of the "vast right wing conspiracy" could resist Ayn Rand. That said, this book has many faults, and I will list them first.

            First, the characters are not the most believable. Rand has created people who make her points, through their virtues or their faults. Sometimes this leads to black-and-white characterizations, and language that nobody really speaks. Her heroic characters tend to break into speechifying, sometimes going page after page, laying lofty, perfect language on each other. It would be like expecting John Kennedy to give his "ask not what you can do for your country" speech while in casual conversation with his brother Bobby.

            The main heroes are supermen (plus one superwoman, Dagny Taggart). They are very close to perfect, if not actually perfect, which is not wholly believable. They are like the Greek gods who made up the human ideal that Aristotle, Plato and Socrates strived to attain, or describe. They are physically beautiful, inspiringly intelligent and completely impervious to human corruption (although the liberals would argue their philosophical moorings are corrupt in and of themselves).

            Their enemies possess few traits that might be considered admirable. There is a propagandistic quality to Rand's descriptions which, I hate to say this, reminds me (in a subtle manner) of the way undesirables were painted by the Nazi public relations machine. Knowing little about Rand personally, I have the freedom to conjecture about her motives based solely on my virgin reading of "Atlas Shrugged". If one is prone to finding racism behind every tree, which many are, I suppose Rand's cast of WASPISH upper crust heroes could be viewed as lacking in diversity. However, this book was written in the 1940s and '50s, so it should be judged accordingly. Few novelists of that era were creating great black or Jewish characters. Even Steinbeck's Okies were all white. Rand, being a woman, centers the book on Dagny, who I think must be the model for how Rand sees herself, so give her credit there. Furthermore, all the "bad guys" are rich (or connected) white guys, so the racism angle very possibly has no legs.

            Rand's background no doubt plays a major role in her philosophy. She was born in Russia, and achieved a literate education, with the desire of becoming a writer. Her formative years ran smack dab into the Communist revolution. Being an educated woman, Rand was given the chance to rise in the Communist hierarchy of V.I. Lenin. Whether she ever bought into Communism or not I do not know. At some point, which seems to coincide with Josef Stalin's ascension to power, Rand found herself opposing the system. She fell out of favor, and managed to escape to America, the country she identified as the ideal place for her budding philosophy, which combines entrepreneurialism, freedom, and Aristotle's realism into something she calls objectivism.

            Rand made her way to Hollywood, where her exotic European good looks and intellect made her stand out. She found work behind the scenes, and wrote screenplays. She struggled to succeed as a novelist, enduring the rejection letters of publishers. Eventually, "The Fountainhead" was published, and over time it became a huge success. She wrote the screenplay for "The Fountainhead", which starred Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal. By the time "Atlas Shrugged" was published, it was highly anticipated by her millions of devoted fans, and it did not disappoint. Rand married a man named Frank O'Connor, who is the archetype of her male characters and inspired her notions of male-female romance.

            To those of you who are new to Ayn Rand, I suggest as a primer watching "The Fountainhead" on video, available in most public libraries. After reading "Atlas", then read "Getting It Right", Buckley's novel about Rand's influence.

            Describing "Atlas Shrugged" is a challenge. There is a mystical quality to it. At times, one gets the feeling that you are reading a "Twi-Light Zone" episode. There are events that seem too convenient, coincidental or unexplained. Like Rod Serling, Rand writes scenes as much for effect as for organic reality. "Atlas" is not for everyone. Many readers could labor through this beast without a clue. Sometimes the reader feels as if he or she should be a member of Mensa in order to get what Rand is trying to convey.

            However, the story is not as fanciful as it may appear at first glance. As best I can gather, it takes place either in the 1950s, or in some future projected beyond the '50s. While it does not provide the information, it seems to describe what America and the world would have been like had World War II not interrupted the Great Depression of the 1930s. The world remained at peace, but without the U.S. ascending to power via military dominance. Socialism has become the world's political system. The U.S. valiantly fights its overwhelming tides, while many in its midst advocate socialism on American soil. Every country except the U.S. calls itself a People's State, as in the People's State of Mexico, the People's State of England, etc.

            Dagny Taggart is the heiress of a huge railroad company, Taggart Transcontinental. Dagny is totally self-sufficient and never for a second apologizes for being a woman in a man's world. She has inherited wealth, but her intelligence and work ethic is greater than any who might aspire to replace her. She is attractive but avoids the accoutrements of feminine flash. She is sexually liberated, but there are only a handful of extraordinary men who are capable of stirring her passions. She believes that she and her company are entitled to the profits earned through hard work and the creation of a better product in a competitive marketplace.

            Dagny's brother, Jim, co-runs the railroad. He may be a capitalist, but he holds lofty notions of man's duty to society. The problem with this is that his altruism is based on theory, not reality.

            Early on, a bum is heard asking the question, "Who is John Galt?" This is the repeated question that fuels the mystery of "Atlas Shrugged". This question is a catchphrase of society, echoing an increasing agitation among the masses that life is bound to result in fruitless disappointment.

            The legend revolves around the question of who and what Galt is. An urban myth has it that Galt created the "engine that runs the world," but destroyed it, then took his knowledge to some kind of modern Atlantis. Dr. Robert Stadler provides one clue. Stadler is a brilliant scientist who sold out, choosing to run a pedestrian state-run institute instead of using his great mind to create the inventions that optimize modern society. Stadler had three great students.

            One is Hank Rearden, who has developed a metal that is cheaper and easier to make than any previous metal. If his metal proves to be reliable, it will change the steel industry. Another is Francisco d'Anconia, the scion of a Latin American copper dynasty. D'Anconia is the only "non-white" among Rand's cast of major characters, but he is from old Spanish stock, so he is far from the "affirmative action" hero of the story. The third of Stadler's prodigies is Galt.

            Dagny and industrialist Ellis Wyatt take a chance on the unproven Rearden Metal, which proves to be reliable. The result is an expansion of the railroad lines into the Midwest and Rocky Mountains, and huge profits for the companies that take a chance on the Metal.

            Dagny has an affair as a young woman with Francisco, but he inexplicably cuts it off. Then he goes on a wild playboy spree, letting his copper empire suffer terrible losses. Dagny then moves on to Hank Rearden, who is married to a loveless woman in it for his riches. Rand makes no effort to apologize for this act of adultery. Dagny's intellect and respect for Rearden make up for any immorality associated with marital infidelity.

             As the world economy gets worse and worse, the government institutes a series of draconian taxes and laws designed to cut into profits, for the "good" of society. It is possible that Rand was inspired to make the steel industry the locus of her story based on President Harry Truman's handling of the steel crisis during the Korean War, although she never makes any mention of Presidents or how the formal American government works. She chooses to portray the government through a scummy cabal of bureaucrats, who are described as little more than looters. Their socialist creed is called evil, but it is in demonstrating why it is evil, more than the basics of the story itself, in which Rand achieves her triumph.

            Eventually, the interference and outright theft of profits by the government makes it extremely difficult for Dagny, Rearden and Wyatt to do business. Wyatt disappears, supposedly a suicide victim. He leaves an oil derrick burning uncontrollably. Seen from 100 miles away on the steppes of the Rocky Mountains, it is called Wyatt's Torch.

            The economic depression gets worse and worse. The government loots more and more. Most of the top minds in America mysteriously disappear - oilmen, scientists, inventors, industrialists, business geniuses. Eventually, Dagny flies her private plane into a seemingly uninhabitable gulch in the Southwest. She has "found" Galt's Gulch. The mystery is revealed: Galt, at the age of 26, had built a motor that would change the world. It would make all forms of transportation and machinery obsolete, replacing old tools with new technology that would cost less and produce more. His engine promised to have an effect on the world in the manner of Henry Ford's Model T, the radio, Edison's creation of electricity, railroads, and other huge innovations. But Galt, frustrated at the interference of government bureaucrats and attempts to cut into his projected profits, abandoned the motor and disappeared. He created a self-sustained society, hidden by some kind of ray that prevents it from being detected by the outside world. He then ventured undetected into the world, recruiting the greatest minds in America with the promise of life free of socialist intervention and plans for a future in which their minds could be free to re-build a broken world; broken by the lack of entrepreneurialism, free market capitalism and unfettered genius.

            Among Galt's recruits are Wyatt, d'Anconia, and eventually Rearden. Wyatt has not committed suicide. D'Anconia has let his company be run into the ground to deny the government from looting his profits, and his playboy spree was a façade.

            The best way to describe Galt's world in modern terms would be to imagine if Bill Gates just closed Microsoft, disappeared, and recruited all the top minds in America to simply go on strike. Their strike is simply to stop thinking and producing. This is the heart of Rand's philosophy. Without great thinkers, the world crumbles. Thus, the title, "Atlas Shrugged". Galt is the man who holds the world symbolically on his shoulders. He shrugs, and the rest of the world is unable to maintain its equilibrium.

            Rand's story is one in which greatness is rewarded by brutal taxation, and bureaucrats steal intellectual property. She defends capitalism and the profit-motive, not just for the sake of money, but as the incentive that creates the kind of production that makes the world's populace able to live in health and comfort, yet the industrialists are accused of taking advantage, of plundering, the poor and the helpless. Rand makes no bones about describing the unfairness of a world in which Third World savages hate those who, through intellectual superiority and hard work, make products and create a world that allows them to survive instead of dying of diseases that would go untreated if not for their inventions.

            Like George Orwell's "Animal Farm", Rand demonstrates through ruthless realism why Communism is evil, without ever saying a single word about Communism, or mentioning any of its dictators.

            The one question I had while reading "Atlas Shrugged" revolved around Rand's religious convictions, particularly whether she believes in Christianity. The best way of describing my feelings about her philosophy is that I agree up to about 90 percent. Rand's objectivism is based on the concept that any man is responsible only for himself. He is due the profits of his labor, and the benefit that society derives from his inventions is secondary. I have never adhered to the concept that Christianity and capitalism are opposed to each other, since capitalism is the engine that makes people strive to make for a world in which everyone can benefit. However, man does owe his fellow man. Pure selfishness is wrong.                    

            In the end, Galt is captured by the bureaucrats, who attempt to get him to lead the country, lending his talents and the team he has recruited, to re-build the economy. Galt will not give in, insisting that taxation be revoked and that the government "get the hell out of the way" so "men of the mind" will be free to do great work. Society will revive as a natural by-product of their work, even though its revival will not be the motivation of these great men. When Galt is tortured in order to force his acquiescence, his followers rescue him, and they retreat to their hideaway. The world crumbles into a terrible depression. Galt and his followers simply plan to wait it out, and when anarchy has taken over, they will return to purify society with their great works.

  CHAPTER ONE

 

A MODERN THEORY OF GOOD VS. EVIL

 

            Americans like to congratulate themselves on what a great country we are. We pat each other on the back because we got it right where others were off the mark. Our Constitution has lasted well over 200 years. We managed to effectively end the institution of slavery as a viable trade between legitimate nations. We have fought wars for the right reasons. Instead of plundering the conquered lands for booty, we re-built nations and endeared ourselves to grateful millions. We managed to create a political and economic model that defied the previous assumptions of men. Our mistakes are placed in the storefront window, not hidden from view. We study our errors and seek to correct them in a way no country has ever done.

            Consider Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of France in the beginning of the 19th Century. Bonaparte was one of the greatest military strategists of all time, but his strategies failed to take into account important aspects of campaigns. First, aggressive war makes enemies. Second, post-war occupation is a breeding ground for conspiracy.

People are remarkably pliable over time. As generations change, populations get used to their situation. But Napoleon was not much more benevolent than all previous dictatorships. The Roman Empire plundered and enslaved conquered territory, and so did Napoleon. The Romans did bring their culture to distant outposts, and some of the native populations managed to prosper under their command. But mainly populations chafed under Roman dictate. This was not the impetus of the empire’s crumbling. However, benevolent strength throughout their empire could have proven to be the necessary infrastructure of its existence.

This lesson was not learned by Napoleon. He thought he could do better. He attacked his neighbors and looted their riches. He did not institute governments or policies that improved the situations of the defeated nations and armies. Many of the dispossessed multitudes would have welcomed changes that improved their political landscapes.

The British, while the most progressive of the great pre-American empires, made the mistake of treating the populations in their colonies with contempt instead of endeavoring to create respect for law and equality. The one real exception to this was America, where the British viewed the colonists as semi-equals because they came from English stock.

What is important to understand, however, is that the United States has had the great advantage of history, timing and modern sensibilities guiding its destiny. Imagine how much recorded history had passed, like sands through the hourglass, before the U.S. came into being. England had crossed the seas, coming upon strange lands filled with mysterious, dark-skinned peoples. While the precepts of morality and goodness tell us that the English should have treated these populations with respect, it may be too much to expect the English race, faced with their own ignorance, suspicions and religious view of “pagans,” to act out in the manner God would intend. The English, imbued with a superior view of themselves, were not advanced enough to welcome non-whites as equals. Many have tried to blame Christianity for this, but one finds nothing in the Bible, or the teachings of Christ Himself, any justification for this behavior.

Holding historical people responsible for their acts, using modern knowledge, is a standard that few can live up to. There are exceptions, but they are rare. The American Ideal was born from what we knew about the British, but because we were colonists chafing under their authority, it gave us the principles that lie at the heart of our country’s foundation. Thank God for it.

This is not to discount our own dark moments. The slavery experience, and the Indian Wars, in retrospect could have been handled much differently. But slavery did not continue, and the Indian experience was not the holocaust it could have been. What other countries in the 19th Century would have handled the Indian confrontations in a manner substantially different from the U.S.? A reminder of the Spanish Inquisition offers some perspective. The American West was an unavoidable of civilizations.

Mainly, the history of America occurs side-by-side with enlightened times. The civil rights struggle, women’s suffrage, and modern religious, political, economic and psychological ideas are part of America’s growth. The question is worth asking, Has the world grown up because of America, or is America the by-product of a grown-up world? No doubt a little of both. This chapters endeavors to place credit where credit is due, by looking at historical figures whose writings and teachings influenced the formation of American political thought.

 

Dennis G. Dalton is a Ph.D. who teaches a course at Barnard College, Columbia University, called “Power Over People: Classical and Modern Political Theory.” Professor Dalton teaches in a beautiful, non-judgmental manner that seems to be devoid of the kind of political correctness and historical revisionism that colors so much scholarship today.

Professor Dalton endeavors to tell us who we are by examining the giants of political thought throughout history. He uses two major criteria: How important the questions are, and the responses to the questions.

Since America is at its core a Democracy, it seems to make sense that one begins with an examination of Democratic principles. This takes us to the cradle of Democracy, Athenian Greece. But the three great philosophers of Greece, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle (and before them, the medical ethicist Hypocrites) did not just come to their conclusions without teachers of their own. Who and what influenced them?

Western political theory generally falls into three broad areas. The first involves the characteristics of human nature and interaction within society. But what drives human nature? Are we a product of internal or external matter? Does reason or passion drive us? Let us cut to the chase. Are people sinful or good? Violent or non-violent? Understanding these questions is as fundamentally difficult today as it was in Socrates’ time. It is the essential question that drives public policy today and in our future.

The attempt here is not just to gain some understanding of these tenets of the human animal. The purpose is to apply what we have learned to a study of the unique American character. The premise of this treatise is an acknowledgement that in the United States, we have made better and more moral decisions for the public good than any previous power. Still, we have not achieved a perfectly harmonious society. The quest for harmony goes back several Millennia. In order to achieve harmony, leaders must find a balancing act between coercive acts of power and the containment of conflict, as outlined by the laws written by institutions. Professor Dalton then asks, or really repeats the question, is social unity achievable? Is it even what we are looking for? Ah, as Shakespeare once said, there’s the rub. This is the nexus of struggle.

What about human rights? The American promise is based on the principle that man has unalienable rights. Legal theory has over the years ascribed the term “natural law” to this concept. It is brought up a great deal today. Natural law was a major part of the questioning of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991. When the inevitable debate occurs over Roe vs. Wade, the abortion decision delivered in 1973, it will be the central theme of this question.

To understand the rights of man, one must address whether a Creator endows his rights. This requires that leap of faith religious people have made. But many do not take that leap. Furthermore, remember that throughout the ages, many people lived under the rule of people who thought they were gods. This premise creates further complicating dilemmas when addressing the question of equality and human rights in the context of social authority.

As somebody once said, the one constant is change. If this is so, should revolutionary thinkers be extolled for endorsing their cataclysmic ideals, or are they just historical conduits of necessity? Inevitable shifting sands of thought? To put it in plain terms, if Socrates, Plato and Aristotle do not come along, does somebody else take their place? Are we dealing with inevitability? If this is the case, one shudders to think that somebody like Adolph Hitler was inevitable.

So the question of dynamics is addressed, in the context of moral leadership and inexorable laws of history. The attempt here is to define some kind absolute truth that exists as obviously in Athenian Greece as in 21st Century Iowa. Let us call this what it is, the question of good and evil. To determine a kind universal, enduring code of ethics is to dispute a premise that makes its way around the modern landscape. This is the idea of moral relativism. Is it okay for Palestinian suicide bombers to blow up 50 Israeli men, women and children at a shopping mall, because Palestine has not achieved independence? Is it okay for the State of Texas to put another human being to death because that man killed another human being? Is it okay for a military commander to order his men to shoot into a crowd trying to break up a riot that would cause more casualties than those inflicted in order to stop it?

Are the answers to these questions founded in the realists’ grasp of hard facts, or some higher truth? This question has been framed at times as, What would Jesus do? One finds it difficult to imagine Jesus yelling, “Fire” at a column of soldiers who respond to His command by shooting at civilians, even if they are rioting civilians. If humans can operate on the premise that there is a God, and that the vagaries of life on Earth pale in comparison to an eternity in Heaven, then the quest for truth becomes operational. Perhaps we must simply acknowledge that while we have come a long way, the kind of understanding needed to avoid life’s hard facts is still far beyond our ken. What is realistic is that humans will not do the same things that Jesus did, because we are humans. Asking us to do what He did is not a viable expectation. Jesus had better information at His disposal than we do.

As we look at ourselves in the beginning of the New Millennium, it is important to address the nature of change. We live in a world of newspapers, cable televesion, satellites, the Internet, and information that is readily available to much of the world’s population. Change can occur much faster now than it did 300 years ago. Could the Communist Revolution have survived the kind of available knowledge we have today? National Socialism? Slavery? Or is technology a source of evil? This seems to be a strange question, but the Internet has turned out to be a place where child pornographers and terrorists communicate and readily find what they want. Is there some kind of universal dark message on the World Wide Web? The Web dislocates us from our communities, which have always operated as a kind of bulwark protecting us from ourselves. Believe me, I am a guy who uses the Internet every day. Maybe the Internet is just the way evil operates now. Through back channels. Via subterfuge. No more frontal assaults. I have a theory, based on my faith not only that there is a God, but that there is a devil, and that these forces of good and evil are constantly battling for the Earth. Maybe if the devil wins, that is when Armageddon occurs.

Or, maybe Armageddon has already happened, and we are just living in a post-Armageddon world. World Wars I and II could have been Armageddon. The atomic destruction in Japan could have been Armageddon. Maybe the build-up of opposing forces in the Middle East will lead to Armageddon. There actually is a place in the Holy Land called Armageddon. Maybe we averted Armageddon when we defeated the U.S.S.R. in the Cold War. Maybe the success of America thwarted the devil's Armageddon plans and he was forced into a rearguard action.

Great advances in science do not equate with morality. Look at the world we lived in 100 years ago. We made great strides during the 19th Century in art, culture and political philosophy. The work of Sigmund Freud symbolized a new Modernism, heralding a dawn of understanding among men of goodwill. The United States was an optimistic nation, led by Theodore Roosevelt, making its bid to be a world leader. We had settled the terrible slavery question on our own shores, and the feeling was that we had learned from our mistakes, our wars, and our misunderstandings. Hope sprung eternal.

But one might posit the notion that the devil had a plan. He might have seen the new technologies of the Industrial Revolution, and determined that man would just as likely put them to use for evil as for good. That is what happened during World War I. We ended that conflict and called it the "war to end all wars." We formed the League of Nations and told ourselves that civilized men and nations would keep the peace. The great expectations of the new century had simply been postponed by unfortunate old feuds between ancient European rivals.  But evil has a face. It is the face of Hitler and Stalin. It was symbolized for years by the swastika, and the hammer and sickle. In the Roaring '20s, a group of Parisian-based writers called the Lost Generation sensed that the horrors of war had unleashed darkness that was spreading, not receding. The devil discovered, to his great delight, the machine gun, chlorine and mustard gas, the railroad line; these were weapons to further his work. It was heard in the cries of Armenians who died by the hundreds of thousands at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, in a genocide that the world ignored.

How wonderful, thought the devil. How convenient. A massacre of an entire people, all done under the color of “military
necessity,” and given the imprimatur of government respectability. The devil knew then and there that the selfish people of the world, concerned only with their own petty national problems, could be duped easily. We would just stand around while his work was done. The devil set out to find the most efficient regimes to carry out his plan.

The United States? Naw, said the devil. It would be great if he could get those people to carry out his work. He had had a few successful campaigns in the New World. Slavery. The Civil War. But the U.S. was too Christian, and those Founding Fathers were independent thinkers. Trying to overcome the Constitution was too difficult a task. So the devil looked at the two huge countries hit hardest by the Great War, Germany and Russia. How perfect, he thought. He would pit them against each other, and it would not matter who won. The devil was hedging his bets for both sides.

First, and how perfect was this, the devil planted the seeds of hatred in Germany against the Chosen People of Israel. By almost the middle of the century, over 45 million people were dead. Among them were 6 million Jews, plus another 6 million who died with in the camps, and countless soldiers and civilians. Misery, disease, injuries, and displacement. The devil was on a roll, but he was facing his old nemesis, the United States. A chosen nation, given all the extra advantages that God could bestow upon it. The devil might not have expected the U.S. to come out of this latest war so well, but that is what happened.

Damn, thought the devil. Foiled again. Just when it looked like the 20th Century would be his greatest victory, America came along with its principles, its ideals of happiness and equality. The French had espoused these ideals in 1789, but the devil saw to it that greed and retribution would win the day. But these Americans kept doing the right thing.

The devil kept getting his licks in. He managed to divide this beautiful nation, just enough to keep us from achieving our goals in the rice paddies of the Southeast Asia. He smiled when Pol Pot’s minion’s killed millions in Cambodia. But when the Berlin Wall fell, the devil new the old techniques would not work any more. He needed to change the plan.

Now, the U.S. faces new challenges in a new century. Evil is a tricky thing. Like Communism, evil looks for disciples amongst the dispossessed, the losers, and the left-behind. Who better than the Arabs, who contributed little to victory over the Axis Powers, then aligned themselves with the Soviets in one of history’s poorer choices. These are the people who live in Third World squalor. They have occupied these countries for centuries, while the desperate, refugee Israelis moved into their back yard. Within a few years, they created the ultimate in your face: A thriving economic and military power.

The devil knew how to get to these Arabs. He planted seeds of hate, masked in the guise of destiny, within the little heads of Hussein, Arafat, Qhadafi, bin Laden, al-Assad. He found in these small people admiration for Hitler’s Germany. He told them that Der Fuhrer had been doing God’s work by massacring Jews, and that it was their chosen path to keep up the good work. This time, the Jews fought back, armed with better brainpower, moral authority, and partnership with the United States, who were now calling the shots instead of France and the ancient appeasers. The U.S.-Israeli alignment simply said no, and the little men were stopped.  

In this new War on Terrorism, we are more and more facing an “enemy” that we call Militant Islam. But is this the real enemy? Is the devil just using the Muslims, a convenient group as it is, to hide his real agenda? He has, it would seem, just substituted the Jewish face, or the Armenian face, with the musky, bearded face of Islam. Something different and hard to understand. The enemy? Just as the Germans learned that the Jew was not their enemy, we will learn the Muslim is not ours. The key is to do it in time, before World War III breaks out in a massive misunderstanding of chaos and anarchy that sounds like the laughter of evil.

Who will say, “Never again?” Who will do the heavy lifting necessary to advance civilization in such a way that the devil retreats and cries “uncle” for 100, 500, maybe even 1,000 years? That is a pretty good guess, pilgrim. The answer: The United States of America.  

 

GOD'S COUNTRY

 

A THREE VOLUME

 

CONSERVATIVE, CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW OF HOW

HISTORY FORMED THE UNITED STATES EMPIRE AND

AMERICA'S MANIFEST DESTINY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

 

By STEVEN TRAVERS

 

COPYRIGHT © (2004) BY

STEVEN R. TRAVERS

111 Oak Springs Dr.

San Anselmo, CA 94960-1324

(415) 456-6898

STWRITES@aol.com

 

 “I don’need ta know history I know now.”

-CHARLES BARKLEY

 

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to re-live it.”

-SANTAYANA

 

To not know about things prior to one's birth is to remain forever a child.

To conquer and achieve without contribution is to leave no dent.

 

RES IPSA LOQUITER

The things speaks for itself; i.e., the things stands on its own.

 

“Ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall make you free.”

-THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN

 

This book is dedicated to my daughter, Elizabeth Travers, because I want her to know the Truth! 

 

GOD'S COUNTRY

By Steven Travers

 

            The United States of America at the beginning of the 21st Century is the greatest, most powerful nation and empire in the history of Mankind! This fact has been reinforced by the events that followed September 11, 2001.  The U.S. has achieved effective victory in the War on Terrorism, rendering Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda relatively impotent; achieving total victory over Saddam Hussein; and laid the groundwork for American hegemony in the Middle East. Powerful U.S. Democratic, military, diplomatic, economic, and cultural influence spans every corner of the globe, in a way that no colonizing empire has ever known.

            In the second half of the 20th Century, liberals have written the majority of history. Conservatives have been spoon fed the Leftist point of view to us in schoolbooks, from college professors, books, magazines, newspapers, network journalism, and Hollywood. All along, conservatives had a sneaking suspicion that what they were being told did not add up.           

Steven Travers, America’s poet-warrior and Renaissance Man – an athlete, soldier, writer, political philosophizer, historian and patriot - has written his magnum opus. He is one of the New Conservatives who have recently decided to fight back and tell the Truth about history and America's extraordinary place in it. He says that we are embarking on the age of the New American Empire, but that it is a "new kind of empire." He writes that this conclusion is based not on vanity but on moral responsibility, and that it is ideas, not military success or occupation, that will shape the new empire of the 21st Century. Travers concludes that America is and will continue on the path of greatness because we are a nation that submits to God's will, instead of succumbing to the vainglorious paganism that has marked too many historical powers. He has taken on the task of outlining how America’s extraordinary place in the world came to be, and details the no-holds-barred, unflinching strategy for the future of America and the world. This is not your average "objective" history book. Instead, it details the facts of the past 3,000 years, interspersed with the slant of a columnist's right-leaning opinion. However, it offers the theory that the so-called "end of history" has demonstrated that the socialist-Communist theories of the Left are the demonstrable losers of history.

Travers boldly poses questions like, "Is it biased to say the New York Yankees are the greatest sports team of all time, or is that simply stating a fact?" His answer is that the statement is not opinion, but fact backed by empirical evidence. He offers that same logic to his dissection of history. America is not hated, it is respected. It is the best country on Earth, but being the best does not generate love. Time after time, conservatism, Christianity and America have triumphed, and this is not an accident or a trend. Rather, to state that this trinity represents the best hopes and aspirations of Mankind is not merely a biased opinion, but rather a simple, accurate description of events that repeat themselves time after time.

            If not for the U.S., according to the author, "the world would be one big concentration camp, with German, Soviet, Japanese and Chinese nuclear missiles crowding the skies above us." 

               “God's Country” is a comprehensive history book, covering Mankind’s triumphs and failures, including the rise of Christianity and a study of all the world’s great religions. Travers gives treatment to the most influential philosophies (giving equal weight to good and evil). Covered are the wars, politics, territorial disputes, cultural influences and dramas that shaped the world, leading to the rise and fall of great empires in Rome, China, England, and France; and the minds of those who are most responsible for great movements, ranging from Athenian Democracy, the anarchism of Rousseau, Thoreau and Emma Goldman, Marxism-Leninism, and finally the ultimate triumph of Jeffersonian Democracy.

            The second phase is the history of America, from the Revolution to Iraq. Travers, an unapologetic conservative, boldly offers that America is the greatest country ever conceived by man, and theorizes that the young nation has not achieved this by accident. First, he offers “evidence” that America, from the Founding Fathers to the present day, is a country Divinely Inspired and protected by God, a notion that no doubt drives the liberals crazy! Rather than paper over or justify America’s controversies – the U.S.-Mexico War, Manifest Destiny, slavery, Vietnam – Travers explains each of these events with unflinching honesty, rebuffing the lies of detractors without excusing the human failings that demonstrate that this great country is neither infallible, nor impervious to future threats. The author is able to show the huge advantage that the United States has. Idealistic, intelligent, Christian Europeans who were brave and moral founded the nation, thus inculcating a unique ideal. Geography and natural resources have proven to be of enormous benefit. But most important, by outlining the patterns of history, he demonstrates that the wise men who built America had centuries of lessons to learn from and avoid the many mistakes of history. That is why the Great Experiment is such a resounding success.

            Finally, Travers writes that the U.S has "saved” the world and must accept its role as the greatest superpower of all time. He details the wisest plan to make use of this status in a way that will best benefit his country and the world as we enter the new Millennium. “America’s Manifest Destiny” is written from the perspective of his Christian worldview, and an interesting back-story permeates this view. That is the concept that good and evil constantly battle each other. The author outlines his fascinating theories of how the devil has strategized and schemed to gain advantage through a never-ending series of lies, bluffs, false alliances and rear guard actions involving governments, despots, religious, political and military leaders.

            "God's Country" also posits fascinating "what if?" theories, including a dissection of John Kennedy's "stolen" Presidential victory over Richard Nixon in 1960. The author offers that had Nixon been in office, the Bay of Pigs would have ousted Fidel Castro and freed Cuba, Nikita Kruschev never would have risked the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Communism would have been halted in Vietnam before that war escalated. He also argues that Communism is worse than Nazism, and details how the Cold War "normalized" it. Travers makes the point that had World War II ended in a stalemate with Adolph Hitler, a Cold War with the German Empire would have resulted in off-shoots of international Nazism that Western appeasers would have dismissed as less threatening than in fact it would have been.

            “God's Country” is not your average "history book,” the dry ruminations of a Ph.D. thesis. "God's Country" serves as "one-stop shopping," offering 2,000 to 3,000 years of history under a single cover, while at the same time providing the information with conservative opinion. It used the gathered knowledge of centuries to demonstrate the victory of conservative thought and why America is where it has flourished. It is highly opinionated and filled with personal reflection. Travers contends that the world needs liberals, but left to their own devices with unchecked power, their criticisms of American policies would lead to ruination. The good news, Travers says, is that America is so great even the Left cannot bring it down. Their formulas are untenable in the real world. So even when they come to power, they must govern conservatively because they have viable alternatives. Liberalism has failed and those on the Left have little left except to blame America first. He informs the reader with stories, drama and modern cultural humor, providing a scathing review of unpatriotic Hollywood, the falsehoods of the Blacklist, liberals who find themselves on the wrong side of history, media bias, and how new communications are feeding a public thirsting for Truth.

            His fascinating "Reagan Theory" details how Ronald Reagan should be credited with winning the Cold War without firing a shot, and will do more to enhance his legacy than any other retrospective. In the end, Travers outlines the next century, where he sees a battle for the world's soul between liberalism and conservatism. In a chilling "cautionary tale," he details how Communism has found a substitute international ideology which stands at odds with American values. He describes how Plato's "warrior spirit" is a concept that the U.N. and Europe have abandoned for the worse. Travers warns that unless Christianity makes a comeback outside the U.S., Napoleonic mistakes of the past may repeat themselves. The Internet has the potential to disseminate evil on a massive scale.

            He is a futurist who makes a surprising observation, which is that the "defeat" of liberalism has the potential of launching destructive forces. Pointing out that Nazism and Communism strove for a "purity" of form, Travers says that the evil specter of White Supremacism and race wars may be in our future unless stopped. After 3,000 years of history, he feels the only way to prevent this catastrophe is through the messy ideals embodied by America, and that it is this great country that was empowered by a loving deity to prevent such a thing. The future of our world, therefore, depends on the success of America. 

 

Also written by Steven Travers

 

Barry Bonds: Baseball’s Superman

The first comprehensive biography of a man who may one day be regarded as the greatest baseball player of all time, Travers delves into the intensely private, proud mind and ego of the world's most celebrated athlete. This Best Selling book, currently in re-print, available in paperback and nominated for a Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of 2002, examines Bonds' childhood, his high school and college years, his entire professional career, and his relationships with his father, Bobby Bonds, and his Godfather, Willie Mays.

 

Angry White Male

A novel that combines baseball, sex, pornography, Christianity, racial tensions, and all the things that makes life worth living.  This is the story of Stan Taylor, a youthful baseball star who never attains the greatness predicted of him, while his boyhood rival, the African-American Billy Boswell, becomes the greatest player in the game. Stan, now a writer, contracts to ghostwrite Billy’s surefire Best Selling autobiography, but a black writer, jealous of Stan, first sets him up to be fired from his sports columnist’s job, then snakes the book deal away from him. When Billy’s ex-porn star wife turns up dead, it first looks like Billy did it, until the cops discover that Stan had an affair with her and planned to “get back” at Billy by co-writing a “tell all” book with her. The twists and turns have just started.

 

Writer’s Life (2004)

A complete compilation of all the articles, columns, essays, songs, poems, stage plays, teleplays, screenplays and books by America’s hardest-working and most prolific writer.

 

OTHER WORKS BY STEVEN TRAVERS

 

SCREENPLAYS

Once He Was an Angel

21

The "K" Conspiracy

 A Murderous Campaign

Rock `n’ Roll Heaven”

The Lost Battalion

Baja California

Wicked

The Hunter’s Dream

On the Edge

Summer of ‘62

Burning Snow

Blackjack

 

 TELEPLAY

 Bandit

 

STAGE PLAY

The Cool of the Evening

 

SONGS

You Asked Me to Love You

The One I Love

Puttin’ Up With Me

Never Quit

 

SHORT NON-FICTION

Broken Wings

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

STEVEN TRAVERS is the author of the critically acclaimed Best Seller "Barry Bonds: Baseball’s Superman" (www.sportspublishingllc.com), in multiple re-print, now in paperback, and nominated for a Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of 2002. Travers writes for Human Events, America's leading political magazine for the past half century. A former columnist for the San Francisco Examiner and StreetZebra magazine in Los Angeles, he wrote for the L.A. Times as well. Travers is also an award-winning screenwriter and author of the novel "Angry White Male" and “The Writer’s Life”, his complete compilation of all the articles, columns, essays, songs, poems, stage plays, teleplays, screenplays and books written by America’s hardest-working and most prolific writer.

 An ex-professional baseball player, Travers struck out 1989 National League Most Valuable Player Kevin Mitchell five times in one night (striking out 15 that game) while pitching in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. He was also a teammate of Jose Canseco in the Oakland Athletics organization. Pitching for the A’s vs. San Francisco in a Major League exhibition game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Travers struck out the side against the Giants en route to three scoreless innings.

Steve’s suburban California high school team won the National Championship team in his senior year. The 6-6, 225-pound Travers attended college on an athletic scholarship and he was an all-conference pitcher. Steven graduated from the University of Southern California, where he studied in the USC School of Cinema-Television, as well as in the UCLA Writers’ Program.

Steven served in the United States Army during the Persian Gulf War. He coached baseball at USC, the University of California-Berkeley, and for one year in Berlin, Germany. After attending law school, he was a political consultant and a sports agent before embarking on a writing career. His screenplays include “The Lost Battalion” (a true tale of patriotism, valor and Congressional Medal of Honor winners during World War I), “Wicked”, and “Once He Was An Angel”, the story of ex-baseball player Bo Belinsky.

"The defining event of my life is the fall of the Berlin Wall and America's victory in the Cold War," Travers says in explaining his outlook. "Growing up, I did not think I would ever see it fall, but I was a young man when the wall came down, and lived in Berlin for a year shortly thereafter. This experience taught me that the United States can do anything we have the will to achieve, and my studies conclude that astounding achievement is a continuing trend in America's history. This comes with the great responsibility of doing good."

Travers is a sixth-generation Californian who still resides in the Golden State. He has one daughter, Elizabeth Travers, and comes from an old political family. His uncle, Colonel Charles T. Travers, was a longtime Republican advisor to politicians ranging from U.S. Senator William Knowland, Vice-President Richard Nixon, Governor Ronald Reagan, and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. Tired of the Leftist slant of his alma mater, the University of California-Berkeley, Colonel Travers began the Travers wing of Cal’s political science department, based on the premise of providing fair, balanced study of government, policy and history. It has expanded each year, and today is the most popular source of elective classes at the university.  

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS GOD'S COUNTRY     Chapter  Title  

               ABOUT THE AUTHOR

               AUTHOR’S NOTE

               PROLOGUE

 

                BOOK ONE

                HISTORY LESSONS FOR A YOUNG AMERICA

 

3                A MODERN THEORY OF GOOD AND EVIL

4                THE FORMATION OF DEMOCRACY

The Hindu Vision of Life

Plato's "Republic" applied to modern politics

5                 MACHIAVELLI AND REALPOLITIK

6                 THE ORIGINS OF COMMUNISM

5               INFLUENTIAL CONTRARIANS

Henry David Thoreau: Anarchist?

Fyodor Dostoevsky and the Grand Inquisitor

Anarchism and liberalism

6               HITLER, GANDHI AND THE LIE OF MORAL RELATIVISM

7               CIVILIZATIONS AND CHRISTIANITY

                 The rise and fall of the Roman Empire

            Homer and the Trojan Wars

            The life of Christ

            Christianity spreads, the Church is formed, and religion takes different shapes

8               THE MIDDLE AGES

                                    The mysterious East

                                    After Rome: Is war the true nature of man?

                                    The Crusades and the political militarization of Catholicism

                                    The Hundred Years' War and Joan of Arc

9               THE RENAISSANCE

10             THE FORMATION OF WESTERN EUROPE

The transformation of Elizabethan England into a modern power

France struggles under the Catholic monarchy

            The failure of the French Revolution, the "reign of terror," and the

                         Napoleonic wars

            Dress rehearsal for Communism: 19th Century social revolutions

13                              A DIFFERENT KIND OF REVOLUTION: AMERICA FORMS "A    

                        MORE PERFECT UNION"

The ride of Paul Revere

Lafayette and the American-French alliance

No taxation without representation

The experiment

Our Founding Fathers: George Washington

Our Founding Fathers: Thomas Jefferson

Our Founding Fathers: John Adams

Our Founding Fathers: Alexander Hamilton

Our Founding Fathers: Benjamin Franklin

12             MANIFEST DESTINY

                                     Indian Wars

13             AMERICA: WHERE SLAVERY CAME TO DIE

14             THE WAR BETWEEN THE STATES

                                      Civil War time-line

                                      Battle of Gettysburg

                                      Gettysburg Address

                                      General Robert E. Lee

                                      Ulysses S. Grant

                                      President Abraham Lincoln

15             A MODERN WORLD POWER

                                         "The man in the arena"

                                        The Old West

                                        The Industrial Revolution

                                        William Jennings Bryan

                                        President Theodore Roosevelt

 

     BOOK TWO

     THE AMERICAN CENTURY: A NEW KIND OF EMPIRE

                Title  

PART ONE

               SUPERPOWER

                                                 World War I

                                         Lawrence of Arabia

                                         The fall of the Ottoman Empire: Lessons of the Middle East

                                         Armenian genocide

                                         The Russian Revolution

                                         V.I. Lenin

                                         The "lost generation"

                                         The Roaring '20s

                                         The Great Depression

PART TWO

               MAKING THE WORLD SAFE FOR CHRISTENDOM

      Did FDR allow the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor on purpose?

                                          Adolf Hitler and the rise of Nazi Germany

                                          The Zionist movement

                                          The "four freedoms"

                                          The gathering storm

                                          Blitzkrieg

                                          The Battle of Britain

                                          The Russian Front

                                          The "rape of China"

                                          Awakening the "sleeping giant"

                                          Dealing with the devil

                                          The Holocaust

                                          Holocaust time-line

                                          The eagle against the Sun

                                          History is written by the winners

                                          Japanese-American internment

                                          General George S. Patton, Jr.

                                          General Joseph "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell

                                          General Sir Bernard Law Montgomery

                                          The "desert fox"

                                          President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

                                          Winston Churchill

PART THREE

               ASIA AND THE COMMUNIST MENACE

      Berlin airlift and the Marshall Plan

      George C. Marshall

      Mao Tse-tung

      Korean War time-line

      The "forgotten war"

      Harry S. Truman

      American Caesar

      The "soldier of Democracy"

      Joseph Stalin

      Kennedy and Vietnam

      The Kennedy's: American royalty

      Lyndon Baines Johnson and Vietnam

      LBJ: The conundrum

      Vietnam and triangulated global diplomacy

                       John Lennon sang "Give peace a chance," and Southeast Asia

"imagined" Pol Pot

                 The age of Nixon

                 Henry Kissinger: "Dr. Strangelove", Republican Svengali, war criminal or diplomatic hero?

PART FOUR

     THE REAGAN THEORY

                 Time-line of the Cold War and Red Scare

                 Glossary of Cold War terminology

                 The gulags: Communism's holocaust

                 The Venona Papers

                 Eastern Europe under Stalinism

                 Democrat Communists sell out Eastern Europe

                 An interview with Alger Hiss

                 East German uprising of 1953

                 Hungarian revolt of 1956

                 Fall-out of the East German uprising in Poland and beyond

                 The "church of America": The CIA's covert action in Guatemala, 1954

                 McCarthyism

                 Voices of the Left and not-so-Left

                 Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution

                 Bay of Pigs

                 Cuban Missile Crisis

                 Che Guevara

                 Nikita Kruschev (1894-1971)

                 "The Right Stuff"

                 The nuclear "arms race"

                 The Cultural Revolution, 1966-76

                 Prague Spring: 1968

                 The after effects of Watergate: Détente; the appeasement of Jimmy Carter; the Cold War is "passe" on the Left; the Battle of the Third World; apartheid; the "eve of destruction"

                 The "church of America": Central Intelligence Agency and the Church Committee

                 Time-line of CIA covert ops, 1946-1984

                 South African Apartheid

                 Russia's "Vietnam": Afghanistan

                 Lech Walesa and Polish Solidarity

                Glasnost, perestroika and Mikhail Gorbachev

                Margaret Thatcher: Britain's "iron lady"

                Ronald "Dutch" Reagan

                Caspar W. Weinberger

                President George Herbert Walker Bush

 

BOOK THREE

AMERICAN HEGEMONY

 

Chapter   Title  

1              THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT

                                   American Gandhi: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

                      Malcolm X

                      George Wallace

                      J. Edgar Hoover

2              THE MIDDLE EAST

                 Israel

                 Time-line of major events in Israel's modern history

                 1967 Six-Day War

                 1973 Yom Kippur War

                 Menachem Begin, sixth Prime Minister of Israel

                 Golda Meir

                 Ariel Sharon

                                          Benjamin Netanyahu

                 Anwar al-Sadat

                 Black September: Yasser Arafat's murderers kill Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics

                 The Iranian hostage crisis

      1987 Palestinian Intifada and beyond

      Persian Gulf War

3                    WHY THE RIGHT GOES AFTER THE CLINTONS

     Vince Foster's murder

      The Clinton body count

      Time-line of the Clinton Presidency

                                           Clinton raises taxes; "don't ask, don't tell"; Waco, "Black Hawk 

                down"; Hillarycare

                                          War in the post-Communist breakaway Republics

                                           Rwandan genocide

                                            North Korean nuclear build-up

                                           Newt Gingrich's Contract with America and the Republican

   Revolution of 1994

                               1996 Clinton-Dole campaign

                               The Monica Lewinsky scandal

                               The Clinton legacy in the Middle East

                                            The Internet boom, Elian, Clinton's pardons and Democrat

   vandalism

                                "The bitch is back": Is Hillary Clinton worse than Bill?

4                    THE NEW WORLD ORDER

        2000 Presidential election

        9/11

        America's Mayor: Rudy Giuliani

        War on Terrorism: Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda

        War on Terrorism: The Taliban and Al Qaeda

        War on Terrorism: Afghanistan

        War on Terrorism: Iraq

        President George W. Bush

        After terrorism, the next crusade: Africa

5                    THE DOMINANT MEDIA CULTURE, AND THE EFFECT OF SPORTS ON AMERICAN SOCIETY

                                           Hollywood and the McCarthy "backlash"

                                           Talk radio

                                            "Useful idiots" and liberal media bias

                                            Are liberals less patriotic than conservatives?

                                            Our National Pastimes

6               "LET'S ROLL"

                                            Apocalypse now? Drawing U.S. into world conflagration is 

                 terrorist's goal

                                            Arabs and distortions of history

                                            Letter to George W. Bush

                                            AIDS and the devil

                                            The Kissinger doctrine: Self-interest and history are keys to 

                 Middle East diplomacy

                                            One man's take on a new kind of war

                                            The American instinct

                                            The truth about politicians

                                            California

                                            United Nations

                                            George W. Bush, the 2004 Presidential election, and G.O.P

     strategy

                                The next war

                                            G.O.P. policy: Taxes, small government, and other issues

        America's Manifest Destiny: A new kind of empire

        Christianity

 

AN "AMERICAN TRAGEDY?"

 

            Marin County, California is one of the most affluent, prosperous places in the world. Not only does it contain some of the richest zip codes and home prices, but its leafy environs symbolize Westernized Ivy League reverence for education and scholarship. Consequently, graduates of Marin's high schools regularly matriculate at the top colleges this nation has to offer, using their advantages and contacts to vault into great success in life.

            Out of all the graduating seniors who made up Marin County's Class of 1979, it can be argued that the one most likely to succeed was Mickey Meister, 18 years of age, wearing the cap 'n' gown of the counties' most prestigious school of the era, Redwood High. Among the laundry list of traits that make up "advantages" in the modern world, Mick ran the table.

            Mick stood six-feet, five inches tall and weighed 220 pounds. Look up "handsome" in the dictionary, and a picture of Mick in 1979 appears. He had a lion's mien of brown hair and a smile that lit up a room. Girls drooled over him and guys wanted to warm themselves in his sunshine. Everybody loved him. Or envied him.

            Mick either had a photographic memory or was just gifted when it came to numbers. Either way, he was a math genius who could compute figures in his mind like Dustin Hoffman in "Rainman".

            Mick was an only child. He lived in a mansion in Ross, one of the most exclusive enclaves in one of the most exclusive of locations. Everything he wanted was handed to him. His daily allowance matched the meal money provided to top professional athletes.

            Speaking of sports, Mick was named National High School Athlete of the Year in 1979. His competition included John Elway from Granada Hills and Jay Schroeder from Palisades. It was on the baseball field where I knew Mick, and where our friendship developed.

            When I got to Redwood, I began to hear stories about Meister's legend from the Central Marin Babe Ruth League and junior high hoops. He was said to be a man among boys. I spotted Mick for the first time playing tennis on the College of Marin courts. He wore a perfectly matched white outfit, had a state-of-the art racquet, and the strokes to go with it. He also could talk "trash" with the best of them.

            In those days, Redwood under taskmaster coach Al Endriss was one of the two or three top prep baseball programs in America. Endriss was nothing if not hard-nosed.

            "This isn't a Democracy," he told us. "It's a dictatorship."

            Every once in a while a skilled sophomore would make the varsity. Mick made the "big club" as a freshman. The tradition was for "rookies" to carry equipment and handle menial tasks. Mick would have none of it. He knew he was destined to be the best pitcher Redwood ever had, and demanded the number 19 jersey that was always worn by the staff ace. Meister never paid Endriss the respect he demanded through fear and intimidation. He was kicked off the team, and his teammates voted to keep him off. Endriss knew he needed him, though, and brought him back. Mick nonchalantly sauntered back, never uttering a whiff of apology or remorse. Mick went through Redwood's female population like Patton's Army in the Low Countries. He drank and did drugs. He seemed impervious to any ill effects. In 1977, despite the fact that our staff included four pitchers who would play professionally (five would earn athletic scholarships) Mick was the main man. The honor of starting the league opener was going to go either to Mick or myself. I learned that it was Mick when I walked in the library and Mick stood up and announced, loudly, that "Super sophomore Mickey Meister will be starting for the Giants today." He was 11-1, earned all-league honors, and led us not only to a 33-4 record and the North Coast Section title, but the "mythical" National Championship of high school baseball. In his junior year, Mick was 14-0, made consensus prep All-America, and Redwood again won the NCS (finishing number two in the nation). As a senior, Mick capped the greatest pitching career in Marin history with another All-American season.

            The world was at his feet. In my life I have never known a more self-confident egotist than the teenage Mick. Despite his braggadocio, Mick was impossible not to like. He had the copyright on charisma, and as Dizzy Dean once said, "If you can do it, it ain't braggin'."

            The Boston Red Sox drafted him, but Mick decided to accept a full-ride to the University of Southern California. I attended USC, too. It was there where I cemented my friendship with him. Mick's ride at this private school was worth about $70,000. It was also at this time that small fissures began to appear in Mick's life.

            His father, Jack, had been a minor league pitcher who had built his own insurance business, but he was starting to run into financial problems. His mother, June, had been an aspiring actress who claimed to have dated Marlon Brando before marrying Jack. When Mick pitched in high school, June would sit in her car with a bottle of booze. Her alcoholism was a known "secret." June was a talker. When you called Mick, you had to give yourself 15 minutes because she could talk your head off if she answered the phone. As soon as Mick graduated from Redwood, his folks broke up. June moved into a small apartment in Greenbrae, and Jack moved to Atlanta, where he married a black woman. She was not Tyra Banks. Mick's USC teammates called her "Aunt Jemima". For the first time in his heretofore charmed life, Mick had to hold his tongue.

            Still, USC was a blast. In his sophomore year, Mick led the Trojans with a 9-3 record and was incredibly popular with all the beautiful USC coeds. But he partied too hard. He rarely attended class, unless it was something like Film Appreciation and was held at night. Mick was a film buff and an authority on all things rock 'n' roll, especially Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones. Jagger was his not just his namesake but his role model, which explains much too much.

            Mick spent hours playing video games instead of studying. He would find a smart, pretty girl and cheat off of her. He drank every night. He had no work ethic, and it affected his pitching. By his senior year he was out of favor with legendary coach Rod Dedeaux. The L.A. Times, noting that four years earlier he was considered the nation's best high school recruit, called him the "enigma." Instead of putting his math skills to use as an aspiring accountant or engineer, Mick became a card shark. He outsmarted his teammates in poker games, and on trips to Vegas learned how to count cards out of a three-deck shoe. Mick had chutzpa in a big way. If he did not sleep with a girl, he claimed to sleep with them. One of his "conquests" approached Mick when he came to a campus restaurant with his teammates.

            "Hi, I'm Leslie," she said. "I thought I should introduce myself, since we've been sleeping with each other." It did not faze Mick in any way. The things that would buckle a normal guy had no affect on him. He was brazen. 

            Mick never graduated. His standing as a prospect fell precipitously, and Seattle drafted him in the low rounds. In the minor leagues, he drank heavily and took advantage of the small town groupies. After two inauspicious seasons, his once-bright baseball career was over.

            Mick ended up in the South Bay Area of Northern California, living in San Jose and eventually Fremont. He always had the touch with women. His girlfriends were always attractive. He always cheated on them. They always deserted him. He always found a replacement. Mick actually found gainful employment, counseling students at Silicon Valley College on their career prospects. It amazed me that he could hold a job like that. It seemed utterly incongruous that somebody like Mick "counseled" students. He was never in his office when you called him, bragging that he played golf and expensed everything on the company dime. He was always juggling women; the divorcee did not know about the secretary who did not know about the college chick. His friends felt sorry for the girls but kept their mouths shut, even when they would ask them, "How could he lie to me like that?"

            Eventually, things started going south in the South Bay. "Mick sightings" described a haggard guy who no longer resembled the sports stud of his youth. His mother passed away, and for all practical purposes Mick lost touch with his old man. He drank at work and was the subject of sexual harassment complaints. He was suspected of everything from absenteeism to embezzlement. Mick became addicted to gambling and owed markers to bookies all over the country. He was fired.

            Mick had friends with money. He went to all of them, but over time each of them cut him off. After being evicted, he would stay with friends, but always outstayed his welcome. A constant tobacco chewer, he would leave his dip cups around the house for the wives and kids of his friends to find, and eventually he just spat on the carpet, blaming the children. Mick's friend, Mac, was the last to help him. He tried to direct his credit card number only to motels and restaurants, but when he discovered that the money he lent Mick went to wine, not food and shelter, he had to cut him off and change his phone number.

            The last we heard of Mick, he was living in a car - or worse - in Texas. I thought about Mick on Thanksgiving. On the one hand, I know he has nobody to blame but himself, and that if I had been blessed with his gifts I would have used them to the limit. Mick never had any spiritual guidance. He laughed at the idea of religious faith, and seemed to admire people who got away with bad deeds. He loved the way O.J. Simpson had gotten away with murder, and thought Bill Clinton's ability to walk through the raindrops was a textbook for life.  On the other hand, I cannot help but feel thankful that I have what I have. My problems are minuscule compared to Mickey Meister's, and while he may not acknowledge God, I pray that he will find peace.

            The last of Mick's friends to see him report that as he was being driven to the bus station, he was still bragging about his latest sexual conquest. Then he thought about his situation, and finally it seemed to hit him. Still, the film buff in him was yearning to get out.

            "I don't know how this happened to me, but this could be a movie," he said. "What would we call it? An 'American Tragedy'?"

 

"A FEW GOOD MEN" WAS REINER/SORKIN'S SUBTLE MESSAGE OF THEIR PERFECT LIBERAL WORLD

By Steven Travers

 

Unlike other obviously partisan Hollywood films from the likes of Robert Redford and Oliver Stone, "A Few Good Men" (1992) delivered a subtler message from liberals Rob Reiner (director) and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin ("The West Wing"). It was also an example of how liberals sometimes shoot themselves in the foot in their attempts to demonstrate the goodness of their point and the faults of their political opposites.

This has happened on more than one occasion. In 1964, radical screenwriter Terry Southern ("Easy Rider") penned "Dr. Strangelove". The film attempted to make fun of bombastic military figures, lampooning Air Force General Curtis LeMay through George C. Scott's comedic General "Buck Turgidson". It succeeded as a great film, but not as a political statement. Ronald Reagan loved it.

A few years later, a '60s peacenik named Francis Ford Coppola, fresh out of UCLA Film School, wrote "Patton". He attempted to portray the World War II general as a mentally unbalanced warmonger. Scott's performance was one of the best in history. The result was the greatest, most patriotic war film ever made. Coppola (who won the Academy Award), could not have foreseen that Richard Nixon, after viewing "Patton" several times, would be emboldened to invade Cambodia, and that generations of West Point grads would consider the film a virtual primer.

Set right after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, "A Few Good Men" tries to show why officers from the "Patton school" were out-dated. The beauty of the script is in the character arc of Lieutenant Daniel Caffey (Tom Cruise). His father is the former Attorney General of the United States, and in this capacity he was a civil rights hero. Caffey never lived up to his dad's high expectations, although he graduated from Harvard Law School. He is skating by in the Navy JAG corps to satisfy family tradition. Demi Moore is a dedicated JAG lawyer who wants to do great things. Kevin Pollack (Lieutenant Sam Weinberg) is the guy who got picked on when he was a kid. The three of them get assigned to a case involving two "poster" Marines accused of murder at Guantanamo Bay. The Commander at Gitmo is Lieutenant Colonel Nathan Jessup (Jack Nicholson), in a role he did not win the Academy Award for, which is unbelievable. Jessup is about to be Assistant National Security Advisor, so he is very high up the Pentagon food chain.

Cruise is a slacker who pleads his cases, and is offered a sweetheart deal by the prosecutor, a Marine buddy played by Kevin Bacon. If the Marines plead out, the case goes away and after six months they are out of jail. The Marines are straight up and down, and say no. Demi, a so-so actress who rises to Oscar performance in a role she was born to play, takes Cruise to task. Normally a sexpot, she is not portrayed as anything but a professional officer and lawyer, and she wears it well. There is sexual tension with Cruise, but nicely underplayed. The elephant in the corner is the "code red" that everybody knows Nicholson ordered, but nobody can ask about. If he ordered the "code red," the boys are free, which leaves a slight fact discrepancy because a Marine died because of a hazing they administered. It is fair to ask why they are free if they were ordered, hung if not, since their actions are still the same.

Demi gets Cruise to stage two of his character arc by committing him to the case and to get Nicholson to admit to the "code red," which Cruise plans to do because he knows Jack does not like "hiding" from him. Pollack has been shuffling along with his "I have no responsibilities here whatsoever" act, but his role in the script is made clear. He backs up Demi's earlier faith in Cruise, and for the first time Cruise realizes he has special talent and can win. The finale is a doozie with Nicholson thundering away with a speech that Sorkin and Reiner must have really agonized over.

Nicholson represents Plato's "warrior spirit," protecting America's liberal peaceniks like…Reiner and Sorkin. He gives an incredible dissertation on what it takes to do the heavy lifting that protects our cherished freedoms. Reiner and Sorkin resisted the chance to demonize Nicholson into the tired old conservative boogieman; the racist white officer (one of the Marines is black), stupid, a war glorifier. Instead, they let Nicholson make a speech that has been memorized and made into legend by…conservatives and military officers. But Jack makes a mistake and lets Cruise lead him one step too far, admitting to the "code red" that wins the day. The twist, and the message, is in the final verdict in which the Marines are declared "not guilty" but are dishonorably discharged for "conduct unbecoming Marines." The black Marine gives the film its intended meaning by saying their conduct was unbecoming because they were not supposed to follow an illegal "code red" order (given to them by a Southern racist Christian, Kiefer Sutherland), against a weaker man, despite the consequences. Cruise tells them they do not need a patch to have honor, a line of pure gold. Pollack, who identified with the weaker man and did not like the macho Marines, melts because he sees his childhood tormentors symbolically apologize to him. Cruise has now earned his spurs and is no longer just Lionel Caffey's son.

"A Few Good Men" is a barnburner. The Sutherland role is its most heavy-handed bias. When he is told Cruise's father "made a lot of enemies in your neck of the woods" - Dixie - by letting "a little black girl" go to an all-white school, the subtle message is that he is a racist. Sutherland is further painted as a Bible thumper, the kind who have little patience for those who are not. Hollywood just brutalizes Christians. Nicholson also sneers at Pollack's screen name, Lieutenant Weinberg, a point that probably worked more against the Sorkin/Reiner message than for it. Nicholson is pointing out that Jews tend to be lawyers, while the Anglos do the fighting. The effect of the reference, however, causes people to make mental note of the fact that he is not entirely wrong. Reiner and Sorkin's "mistake" was in making Nicholson's character the real deal. In so doing, Jack thunders away with some of the best lines ever written.

"…You both rise and sleep under the very blanket of freedom that I provide, then criticize the way I provide it," he tells Cruise. "I'd just as soon you said 'thank you' and went on your way, or picked up a weapon and stood a post. Either way, I don't give damn what it is you think you're entitled to."

The producers, like Coppola before them, likely failed to recognize that by not demonizing Nicholson enough, they left the door open to a point of view that runs counter-productive to their own. Nicholson speaks about "honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something…"

Stone was horrified to discover that after excoriating "Wall Street" (1987), corporate hotshots for years thanked him for making a film that inspired their careers in high finance. Similarly, Reiner and Sorkin created a "monster" (Nicholson) who has inspired many to hear the words of Nathan Jessup and say, "Right on!"

 

"WITNESS" BY WHITTAKER CHAMBERS WAS ULTIMATE CAUTIONARY TALE, GAVE BIRTH TO MODERN CONSERVATIVISM

By STEVEN TRAVERS

 

Conservatism is the most successful political movement in history. In my upcoming book, "God's Country", I argue that it is the winning ideology of 2,000 years of history. But conservatism was stagnant during the Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman Administrations. When did the modern conservative movement start? Who propelled it?

 

Many argue the merits of William F. Buckley's "God and Man at Yale". Ronald Reagan rose to prominence in concert with Barry Goldwater's 1964 Presidential campaign. But modern conservatism began in 1938, when a Communist apparatchuk named Whittaker Chambers broke from Moscow, contacted Federal authorities, and informed them that a rising Democrat star named Alger Hiss was a Soviet spy.

 

It took a decade for Chambers' accusations to be made public. Chambers most likely would have faded into obscurity, but for a chain of events and a few patriots. FDR did not pay heed to the accusation that Communists had infiltrated his government, but Naval intelligence intercepted word that Joseph Stalin was planning a separate peace with Adolf Hitler. The Navy did not trust the Democrats. They devised the Venona project, intercepting Soviet cables, and discovered that Chambers was right about Hiss. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover refused to go public with Venona (not opened until the 1990s), because the on-going intercepts were too important to be exposed. But he told the right political people. The case went to HUAC, led by the young California Congressman, Richard Nixon. The Left excoriated Chambers. Hoover refused to shed light on Venona, letting the wheels of justice grind on their own terms. Hiss was proven right. Nixon became the first hero of conservatism. McCarthyism followed, and sides were taken.

 

The Hiss-Chambers duel changed the entire dynamic of American politics. Personal destruction and vitriol increased ever since. Liberals invested all their energies into Hiss. They found themselves between a rock and a hard place, forced to deny that Communism was as insidious as Nazism, or that it was even much of a threat. The Left despised Nixon for rising to power on the Hiss case, and marshaled all their forces to discredit the right during and after ensuing McCarthyism. The dominant media culture became their witting accomplices. When Vietnam and Watergate hit, they lost their last vestiges of balance. Enraged by the refusal of conservatism to go quietly into that good night, Democrats were increasingly frustrated at the electoral success of Republicans. To their dismay, they were forced again to back the Clintons in the same manner as they had Hiss, because they were their only links to power. When the Republicans exposed their lies, the Left's only "weapon" became the ongoing, nefarious and futile attempt to call George W. Bush and the Republicans "liars," too.

 

But it all started with Chambers. The power of Chambers' story was rooted in three things. One, he told a true story and had the evidence to prove it. Two, his Truth was rooted in Christianity. Three, he described worldwide evil, and woke America up to the fact that it was our duty to defeat this evil in order to survive.

 

In 1948 Chambers testified that Hiss was a Soviet spy, and part of an elaborate Communist ring. Eventually, Hiss was convicted. Chambers told the entire story, from start to finish in one of the best books ever written. "Witness" was a 1952 best seller, but has been forgotten with the passage of time. It is the first book any inquiring political mind should read, because it not only describes one of the most challenging confrontations in history, but also offers a cautionary tale for our current generation. "Witness" should be required reading in every public, private and religious school. It should be first on the list in every political science class.

 

Written in the darkest days of the Cold War, when Stalin still lived and the Korean War raged, Chambers expressed grave pessimism for the future of humanity. Despite his evangelical Christianity, he believed that Communists were more committed to their cause than the West. This assessment had a mixed reality, since he was "right" about the North Vietnamese, but wrong about the citizenry of Eastern Europe. But Chambers identified something that absolutely must be paid attention to by our generation. He was drawn to Communism because he identified with a Third World mindset that had no allegiance to nations and believed it offered the only answer to the tragedy of history. Eventually, news of Stalin's gulags and his own religious faith drove him from atheistic Communism.

 

Since publication of "Witness", we found that religious yearning, combined with fundamental economic failures, destroyed Communism. But the mindset that Chambers identified with, in fact never truly veered away from, is eternal. This is a strain of society that combines Machiavelli's nostrum that people choose security over freedom with Emma Goldman's anarchism. Finally, it has found a home in the misguided religiosity (which was missing in Communism) of Islam, and balls it all up under the banner of Terrorism. Post-Communist guilty liberalism provides its "useful idiots."

 

Hiss was an open Communist who edited the Daily Worker. He was then recruited into the underground espionage network operating in the New York/D.C./Baltimore corridor during the Great Depression. He met Hiss, who was never "open," choosing to operate as a spy while rising in FDR's New Deal. Hiss befriended Chambers. Chambers decided to break from the party, begging Hiss to do the same. He described in "Witness" hatred from Hiss at this suggestion that could only be called evil. Chambers went to the FBI.

            His accusations were hard to prove. People used aliases and left no paper trail. FDR gave the reports no credibility. Chambers did not know about Venona. The simple truth is that Venona's secrets were believed by the Republicans, but the Democrats chose to protect their Communists. There is no other way to describe it. Hiss became highly placed in the State Department, and we now know that his in-put at the Big Three Conference and in formulating the U.N. Charter favored the Soviet Union.

            By 1948, Stalin's Russia was an obvious enemy. Nixon was among a group of conservatives who saw that a great threat to the world existed, and it lived amongst the American people. The Hiss evidence, among other cases, was presented to him. Hearings were held, Chambers testified, and all hell broke loose. When China fell and Korea started, the issue of Communists in government became a heated one. 40 years later, Venona informed us that we might have held the line in China if Communists like Hiss had not steered policy away from Chiang-kai Shek.

            The great historical value of "Witness" is that it describes, in no uncertain terms, just how far-reaching and insidious was the threat of Communism and the pervasiveness of Moscow's espionage in our society. Chambers knew Communism from the inside. He described liberal Americans convinced that our system would fail; foreign radicals, fueled by hatred, searching for an answer to hunger and poverty; and the hardcore Soviet spies who "handled" their Western minions.

What is so instructive about Chambers' story is that he sheds light on the Communists who stuck with the program despite news of Stalin's genocide. Chambers and other 1930s ex-Communists can be "excused" for misguided humanity. Those who continued to pledge their allegiance to the most murderous ideology in history separated themselves from the pack, and in so doing can only be described as evil.

 

The Los Angeles Times

 

THE FALL OF A GREAT NEWSPAPER

The Los Angeles Times was one of the finest newspapers in the world; the voice of the New West, a land of electoral votes, emerging trends and Pacific Rim power. In the Jim Murray era, they presided over the "sports capitol of the world." During Watergate, the Times maintained balance and in-depth coverage while its Eastern counterparts became spigots of anti-Nixon vitriol. However, in stages over many years, their integrity became another casualty of liberal media bias.

 

Formerly run by the conservative Chandler family, they once reflected a conservative, Christian Southland. A look at historical Times headlines from their entertaining, self-published coffee table tome "Front Page" is revealing. The paper routinely screamed about "REDS" in their coverage of Alger Hiss's perjury case and the Korean War. During the McCarthy years, they took the position that Communism was a menace on a par with the Nazis defeated just a few years earlier. Part of the evil of Communism, the Times asserted, stemmed from its Godless atheism. The modern L.A. Times does not dare take a true stand in pointing out the failures of Islam to control terrorism within its midst.

 

In the 1950s, the Times understood that Communism was a threat not just from Moscow and Peking, but within our ranks. They were an early backer of Ronald Reagan, then the president of the Screen Actors Guild, who was weeding out Reds in Hollywood. The L.A. Times, unlike the apologist New York Times, recognized the threat and made sure their readers did, too.

 

The Times endorsed California Senator Richard Nixon's assertions, eventually bolstered by the Venona project, that Mao Tse-tung's victory was preventable. Later, the paper sided with Nixon's backing of General Douglas MacArthur in his battles with Harry Truman. 

 

In the 1960s, Otis Chandler decided to make his paper a world class outfit. Accusations of conservative bias were no longer valid, but the Times did not allow itself to become Leftist like its New York and Washington counterparts. They endorsed Nixon against John F. Kennedy in 1960, but gave fair coverage to the 1962 Nixon-Pat Brown gubernatorial campaign, pointing out correctly that Governor Brown had created the state college system, modernized highways, and built aqueducts that brought needed water to the desert-like Southland. They also veered away from the "REDS"-style headlines, choosing smaller typeface that allowed them to put more stories on its front page.

 

Chandler took a hard line on the 1965 Watts riots, which set the tone for the remainder of the decade. His paper supported the L.A.P.D. and Reagan's law 'n' order policies. They pointed out that order was restored on California's college campuses during the Vietnam War, while at schools such as Columbia and Kent State, anarchism ran wild. 

Washington bureau chief Jack Nelson, a Southerner and veteran professional journalist, was tough but fair. But Chandler ceded control over time. By Reagan's second term, longtime Times subscribers realized they were reading an increasingly liberal paper.

 

By the 1990s, Times editorials during the 1992 Bush-Clinton campaign failed to attribute the California recession to victory in the Cold War. The Republicans were victims of their own success, when much of the L.A.-based Military Industrial Complex shut down in light of reduced need to defend against the beaten Soviets. Instead of pointing out this truth, the paper went to the old Democrat playbook, portraying an imperial George H.W. Bush as "out of touch" with average citizens.

 

The Times saw merit in Hillarycare despite mounting evidence that it was disguised socialism. They did not back off, however, when Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998, providing hard-hitting coverage that shed light on the President's seedy lies. But they played a major role in upending several California Congressmen who had supported Clinton's impeachment, most notably Representative James Rogan of suburban Glendale. Thanks in part to liberal Times coverage, California was saddled with Governor Gray Davis in 1998 and 2002. The paper helped to chip away at the gains made during the 1994 Newt Gingrich-led "Republican Revolution." The result was a state eventually dominated by Democrats at the Federal and state legislative levels, leading to gerrymandered districts assuring more of the same. This scenario produced one of the great disasters in American political history, which was the genesis for the 2003 Recall.

 

The paper has certainly taken its share of principled stands. Eventually, they championed tough environmental regulations. Nobody who ever experienced L.A. smog in the 1970s could argue that it was not necessary. But on the hot button issue of illegal immigration, the paper sold out, failing to strongly endorse conservative attempts in recent years to control its porous borders. 

 

When the paper was officially bought by the (Chicago) Tribune Company at the end of the decade, its liberal slants and biases under editor John Carroll were no longer balanced against the myth of "fairness," much less its former conservative character.

 

Carroll has tried to paint a different picture. He held an editorial meeting, prominently described for public consumption, in which he exposed talking points in stories that could be perceived as slanted, urging re-writes. This is the new falsehood of metropolitan news coverage. They apply minor triage on local crime stories in order to create the impression of straight journalism, but on the big political issues they are the mouthpieces of the DNC.

 

In the final days of the California Recall, the Times published "last-minute" stories of Arnold Schwarzenegger's womanizing. The stories were a re-hash of a piece in Premiere magazine, printed years ago. Schwarzenegger's past is an open book. The stories represented less salacious details than most people imagine Arnold's rowdy life has actually been.

 

The Premiere piece indicates that while it was a legitimate "story," it was "old news." Instead, the Times became the willing partner of lame duck Governor Gray Davis, practicing the "puke politics" that have become the hallmark of desperate Democrats. In 2000, Al Gore's allies in the press held a similar story about George W. Bush's drunk driving arrest in the 1970s until they could explode a "last-second bomb."

 

Carroll's insistence that the stories and their timing were merited does not hold water in light of the Gray Davis stories they ignored. Governor Davis had for years engaged in foul-mouthed tirades, while physically abusing employees. One woman quit and needed therapy. Davis left a message on her voicemail stating, "You know how I am!" Instead of honest, balanced coverage, the Times backed Davis and the "Democrat scenarios." In so doing, they fell in line with San Francisco (who was outvoted by the rest of the state by 4-1), and out of line with the good people who make up the increasing population of the California hinterlands.  

 

As a result of their longtime liberal trend, the Times is less influential now. While L.A. proper has gone Democrat, its surrounding environs - Orange County, the Imperial Empire of Riverside and San Bernardino, Kern County, the Navy town of San Diego, and North County - are Republican, choosing to read the sensible Orange County Register or other alternatives.    

 

After Whittaker Chambers exposed the Communist Alger Hiss, an escaped dissident from Stalin's Russia explained to him that, "In America, the working class is Democrat, the middle class is Republican, and the upper class is Communist." While the New York Times chose to make themselves the party of the "upper class," the L.A. Times did not. But over time the motivations of the Left coalesced into anti-Americanism, and as they swung further from the leadership of Otis Chandler, so too did a once-great newspaper.

 

STEVEN TRAVERS - PROPOSALS

 

THE RAIDER MYSTIQUE

 

There are many great dynasties in sports. The Raiders - of Oakland and also Los Angeles - are one of them. While they may not be the greatest of all pro football dynasties, it is difficult to argue that any other franchise has ever been as exciting or as colorful.

 

What marks the Raiders, aside from their three Super Bowl championships, are an eclectic group of athletes whose dynamism on and off the field define the team's history. These disparate personalities have all had one thing in common: they played and coached for, and therefore reflected the personality of, the team's legendary owner, Al Davis.

 

Davis himself is an enigma. Growing up in Brooklyn, he never played football, but he studied it. AT VMI he was a student assistant, but fudged his resume to make it look like he was an assistant coach! This led to a low-level job on Don Clark's staff at USC. Davis parlayed three years at USC to somehow talking a group of investors into putting him in charge of the new AFL franchise in Oakland.

 

The league succeeded, in large part because of the vision of Davis and a group of maverick owners. In the same town that founded the Hell's Angels, during the time the Hell's Angels grew - the 1960s - the silver-and-black became the Hell's Angels of football.

 

They defined the new style of the pro game, marked by the "bomb," long passes eschewed by conservative coaching philosophies of past decades. Quarterback Daryl Lamonica and coach John Madden developed the Raiders into the winningest team in pro football by the early 1970s. As great as they were, the Raiders were known for two things: they lost the "big game" and were wild off the field.

 

Year after year, Oakland lost in the AFL and then the AFC championship games. Some questioned their off-field activities. During pre-season training camp in Santa Rosa, the Raiders partied wildly at the team's hotel. Women came from all points to make themselves available. Long-haired behemoths and playboys - John  Matuszak, Ken Stabler, Fred Bilitnikof, Lyle Alzado - played hard and lived hard.

 

During the season, the party was transferred to an airport hotel near the Oakland Coliseum. Davis never complained about the partying, declaring that he simply wanted them to "just win, baby."

 

Gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson arrived and wrote a telling piece about the "Hell's Angels" of football, further cementing their renegade reputation.

 

In 1976, the team finally broke through to win the Super Bowl. Over the next 10 years, the team won two more and established themselves as the best team in the game. Over time, the Raiders changed coaches and players, moderating their off-field behavior in accordance with changing times. This occurred in confluence with the strangest 12-year period in the franchises history - the L.A. years. In Los Angeles the team won their third Super Bowl, but a strange thuggishness pervaded the team through the gang affiliation of their fans at the L.A. Coliseum.

 

When the team moved back to Oakland in 1995, the Raider Nation was defined by their fans' unique behavior, embodied by their "Black Hole" behavior. The history of the team has not always been defined by champions, but it has always been defined by passions unlike any other franchise. No team has more passionate fans, more dynamic leadership, or more colorful personalities.

 

HARM TO THE GAME: BONDS OR ROSE?

 

By STEVEN TRAVERS

 

Barry Bonds cheated. Pete Rose did not cheat. However, baseball has rewarded its cheaters for a century. Spitball pitchers, sign stealers, groundskeepers slowing the basepaths (as the Giants did with Maury Wills); these things have always been winked at, considered part of the game, something to be admired in the code of baseball ethics.

 

Gambling has been the Cardinal Sin of the game since 1919. Gamblers controlled baseball before the Black Sox scandal, which brought worldwide disrepute upon baseball. Its stain was erased by Babe Ruth and Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis.

 

Every baseball clubhouse has a sign warning against gambling. There is no sign warning against steroids. Medicine may someday be able to make steroids that are undetectable and not harmful. What then? This genie may be out of the bottle. Gambling will always harm the game’s integrity. A former pro football player (who is an inveterate gambler who battled drugs himself) once told me that “half of NFL games” were affected by gambling in the 1970s. Maybe big money has changed that. I hope so.

 

When I wrote "Barry Bonds: Baseball's Superman" in 2002, I suspected Bonds did juice but had no proof. BALCO and the fallout of 2003-04 that created a whole new knowledge base about Bonds and steroids in all sports. I know Mark Fainaru-Wada. He did a great job. I should have dug deeper in 2001-02, but he was able to cover the BALCO case unfolding for the San Francisco Chronicle. I did not have the advantage of these events playing out in public when I wrote my book.

 

I posited a list of goals that if Barry could accomplish he would be considered the best player ever. He accomplished or is about to accomplish most of them, and all else being equal I would otherwise call him the best ever. However, in light of Bonds' steroid use, I must rescind my analysis.

 

Bonds, McGwire and the other “juice brothers” helped popularize the game after the 1994 strike, but in the end harmed their reputations and their records. However, this gives us new respect for Ruth, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron…even Frank Thomas. I would like to see the game return to the pitching rich days of Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson and Tom Seaver. I also admire pitchers who succeeded in the steroid era.

 

Gambling has the potential of leading to thrown games, although Rose did not do that. Big contracts should eliminate the need for players to take gambling money anyway. I would tilt the “harm” edge to Rose, but mitigate th sentence because he did not throw games. He paid his price and should go into the Hall. As for Bonds, he is getting his just desserts and should go in to the Hall, too, but not on the first ballot.  

 

 

STEVEN TRAVERS IS THE AUTHOR OF "BARRY BONDS: BASEBALL'S SUPERMAN" (SPORTS PUBLISHING) AS WELL AS THE UPCOMING “THE USC TROJANS: COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S ALL-TIME GREATEST DYNASTY” AND "SEPTEMBER 1970: ONE NIGHT, TWO TEAMS, AND THE GAME THAT CHANGED A NATION" (ROWMAN & LITTLEFIELD). HE CAN BE REACHED

USCSTEVE1@aol.com

 

 

 

 

"IT'S A GOOD DAY TO BE A TROJAN!"

 

            The hottest football coach in the United States is Pete Carroll, who in 2003-04 led the University of Southern California Trojans to two straight national championship. Just a few short years ago, this was a highly unlikely scenario. Carroll had been fired after short stints as head coach of the New York Jets and New England Patriots. The hardcore East Coast media declared that he was "too soft," "too New Age," and definitely "too Californian" to succeed in the dog-eat-dog world of professional football. Carroll found himself battling for attention first in a town dominated by the New York Yankees, the greatest sports franchise of all time, and later in the "shadow of the Green Monster" - Fenway Park in Boston. Twice fired, he was out of football in 2000, wondering whether he would have a chance to be a head coach again.

            In the history of college football, two programs stand out as the greatest of pigskin traditions. One is Notre Dame, and the other is USC. These two hallowed institutions had created the best inter-sectional rivalry in America, beginning in the 1920s. They built themselves up, the rivalry developing great mutual respect for each other. Over the following decades, numerous national championships and Heisman Trophies were won by these two schools. From 1962 to 1982, under the stewardship of legendary coaches John McKay and John Robinson, the Trojans enjoyed the most successful 20-year run ever. "Tailback U." won five National titles and four Heismans, but by 2000 USC was derided as "Yesterday U." Under Ted Tollner, Larry Smith, Robinson in his encore, and finally Paul Hackett, the Trojans had fallen on hard times. They experienced NCAA probation, drug and gambling scandals during the disastrous Todd Marinovich years, and just plain mediocrity. Their great running attack was a joke, and USC endured brutal losing streaks against Notre Dame (1983-95) and cross-town rival UCLA (1991-98).

            In December, 2000, USC was a program in flux. Athletic Director Mike Garrett, who had won the Heisman in 1965, was under fire, especially for his handling of Robinson's firing in 1997. Once considered a "football school," USC had been named College of the Year by the Princeton Review. The average freshman G.P.A. was now above 3.5; the film school was a virtual primer for Hollywood success; and the general consensus was that great academics was not compatible with national success on the gridiron.

            The school had won the national championship in baseball in 1998, and maintained its great position in the "secondary sports." Like Stanford, it seemed that this was the best they could hope for. Football success had become the province of Nebraska, Miami and Florida State. Hackett was fired, and Garrett looked for the right candidate to replace him. Former Miami coach Dennis Erickson turned him down. So did former pro coach Mike Bellotti. The greatest college job in the country was no longer a coveted position. Coaches feared that the L.A. media and the USC alumni could not be satisfied. There was, it seemed, little upside at USC.

            Enter Pete Carroll. After three coaches told Garrett "no," Carroll contacted him on his own. His daughter was playing volleyball for the Trojans, and Carroll wanted to interview for the job. He was Garrett's fourth choice, and probably lower than that with the alumni, the sports talk pundits, and the writers. Tollner had taken Troy to the 1985 Rose Bowl before losing control. Smith had the Trojans within two games of the National Championship in 1988 before the Marinovich years, which set the program back for years. Robinson promised to return USC to prominence, but his second tenure was a disappointment. Hackett, an ex-Trojan assistant who had mentored the likes of Joe Montana in the NFL, had come in with great promise and enthusiasm, but quarterback Carson Palmer had never materialized into a star under his tutelage. How could Carroll expect to succeed where these accomplished coaches had failed?

            In 2001, Carroll did not start out like a house afire. His team was 2-5, which included another galling loss to Notre Dame. The only bright side was the comparison with McKay, who had presided over two losing years before leading USC to the 1962 National Championship. Carroll's system then began to take root. SC finished the regular season on a winning streak, won a shutout over UCLA, and made a trip to the Las Vegas Bowl. It was considered a modestly successful year by the diminished standards that SC had come to expect.

            In 2002, fifth-year senior quarterback Carson Palmer was frustrated when freshman wide receiver Mike Williams dropped pass after pass in a stalled comeback-that-fell-barely-short at Kansas State. A few weeks later, SC lost in overtime to Washington State in Pullman, and expectations were limited at best. But Carroll never lost his enthusiasm, and a trend developed. Great coaches tend to improve their teams over the course of the season. For the second straight year, Carroll did this. Williams emerged as a star, and Palmer came from near-obscurity to win the school's fifth Heisman. SC won enormous, lopsided victories over both Notre Dame and UCLA. Playing the strongest schedule in America, they won a share of the Pacific-10 Conference title, routed Iowa, 38-17 in the Orange Bowl, and finished fourth in the nation. In the off-season, Carroll achieved the best recruiting class in the country, and came into 2003 with a team promising to contend for the National Championship.

            Despite the high expectations, "experts" thought it would be a re-building year. Quarterback Matt Leinart was only a sophomore who had never thrown a pass in college, and if he failed, blue-chip recruit John David Booty would still be a mere freshman who had skipped his senior year at Louisiana's Evangel Christian High School.

            The running backs were all true freshmen and sophomores. Williams was a sophomore. They were supremely talented, but inexperienced. The team would have to rely on defense, which was a Carroll specialty. He had been the defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers in their heyday. The season opener was at Auburn. The Tigers were ranked number one by Sports Illustrated. Their touted running backs had been featured in the New York Times. USC stuffed them completely, taking the partisan, fanatical SEC crowd out of the game, and won big, 23-0. The Tigers no doubt felt the game was a great disappointment. In fact, it was one of the closest games any team would play against the Trojans in 2003.

            In October, Southern California lost in triple-overtime vs. California at Berkeley's Memorial Stadium, when their kicker missed a chip shot and a potential game-winning touchdown was lost by a goal-line fumble. The loss to the Golden Bears, who went on to defeat Virginia Tech in the Insight Bowl, was the only blip in an otherwise-perfect season. After rebounding from injuries and a brief letdown at Arizona State, USC was unstoppable. Their run against Stanford, Notre Dame, Washington State, Arizona, UCLA, Oregon State and Michigan in the Rose Bowl was one of the most impressive in college football history.

            On December 6, 2003, USC defeated Oregon State, 52-28 at the Los Angeles Coliseum, completing a regular season in which they set attendance records at their historic home stadium. That night, seemingly invincible Oklahoma was beaten by Kansas State, 35-7 in the Big 12 championship game. Both the A.P. and USA TODAY/ESPN Coaches Polls ranked Carroll's team number one, setting up a National Championship match-up with number two Louisiana State in the Sugar Bowl. However, late that Saturday night, Hawaii, who had lost to the Trojans in September, lost to top 20-ranked Boise State. Notre Dame had lost their finale earlier, and the losses reduced USC's "strength of schedule" component in the BCS computers. On Sunday afternoon, to everybody's consternation, the BCS in its "wisdom" announced that Oklahoma and LSU would play in the Sugar Bowl.

            Once the dust settled, Carroll showed great class and demonstrated that the BCS had in fact done his team a kind of favor. While they were denied the opportunity to play in the so-called "National Championship game," they were going to represent the Pac-10 in a de facto home game at Pasadena's Rose Bowl against their traditional Big 10 opponent, Michigan. They would be able to win at least a share of the National Championship, the Associated Press version, which traditionally has been considered the "official" National Champion.

            The Trojans dominated the Wolverines, 28-14 in a game that was the hottest sports ticket L.A. had seen in years. The Rose Bowl garnered enormous attention, earned the highest rating of the bowl games, and the controversy simply spotlighted Carroll and his program. They did earn the A.P. title, and even gained few votes from "rebel" coaches who voted them number one in the BCS poll. Oklahoma played poorly in the Sugar Bowl, demonstrating that they had not earned their place their. LSU won but in a highly flawed manner. USC was obviously the best team in the country, considered the "people's champion." Carroll earned National Coach of the Year honors from several organizations, and is currently presiding over a recruiting effort that experts say will yield the best crop of blue chippers in America.

            Aside from the in-coming recruits, USC returned 17 of 22 starters. Of those, most will be sophomores and juniors. Wide receiver Steve Smith will be a superstar, as will be the three running backs, LenDale White, Herschel Dennis and Reggie Bush (two sophomores and a junior). Second-year back-up quarterback John David Booty has All-American promise, but he will have to wait for junior quarterback Matt Leinart, the 2004 Heisman Trophy favorite. The second Heisman favorite will be his wide receiver, junior Mike Williams.

            USC entered 2004 ranked number one. They had an excellent chance of winning two or three National Championships in a row, putting together a streak to rival Oklahoma's undefeated seasons in the mid-1950s. In the history of college football, there has never been a program that offered greater potential than USC under Carroll in the next four years.

 

"It's A Good Day to Be A Trojan" promises to be the football version of Michael Lewis' "Moneyball", showing how a New Age coach brought a different philosophy to the game, a philosophy for the 21st Century. Coaches will be emulating Carroll's methods for 30 years. Based on the words Carroll often utters to his team in the locker room before games, this book will be his authorized autobiography, co-written by Best Selling author Steven Travers, who captured Barry Bonds' historic 73-home run season in 2001 in "Barry Bonds: Baseball's Superman".

Pete Carroll is different. He is not "old school." He is not Darrell Royal or Bear Bryant. He is the perfect coach to deal with the modern athlete, and few have ever bridged the so-called gap between white coaches and black athletes. To understand how different Pete Carroll is, one must understand his unique upbringing. He was born in San Francisco and raised in the affluent Bay Area suburb of Marin County. Carroll attended Redwood High School along with the supercomic, Robin Williams. Janis Joplin lived a block from the school. Marin was the home of the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and bohemians living in the Sausalito houseboats, like blacklisted actor Sterling Hayden. Located across the bay from the University of California-Berkeley, it was a time and place of great social change. With the Vietnam War raging, anti-war protest, free speech, sexual revolution and irreverence towards authority dominated the atmosphere. Carroll was into sports and played them all. He starred in baseball for Al Endriss and in football for Bob Troppman, but despite his "jock" reputation, he was influenced by the times that were a-changing. A controversy ensued with the Redwood football program when players balked at cutting their hair per the rules set down by Coach Troppman, who was forced to resign over the incident.

Troppman, however, would remain one of Carroll's greatest influences. The undersized Carroll, a quarterback who had played Pop Warner football against future Hall of Famer Dan Fouts, another Marin resident, was not recruited out of Redwood. He played at the College of Marin before moving on to the University of Pacific. At UOP, he developed, earning all-conference honors at the safety position, but upon graduation Carroll was not considered a professional prospect. He went directly into coaching, first at UOP, then at a series of big-time college football schools. Eventually, Carroll moved on to the NFL, and became a defensive coordinator for different teams. Over time, Carroll developed a sterling reputation as a defensive mastermind, and by the late 1980s his name regularly came up in discussions of coaching openings in college and the NFL.

In 1994, Carroll was given his first big opportunity, with the New York Jets. The East Coast press went after him, saying he was too "enthusiastic," too much of a "New Age" California guy, and too soft with his players, who he tended to befriend instead of berate. The team was mediocre, and Carroll was fired. George Seifert hired him as defensive coordinator of the defending Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers, then was hired by the New England Patriots.

In New England, Carroll found himself vying for attention in a town dominated by the Red Sox, who played their games at the venerable Fenway Park, a stadium dominated by the "Green Monster" left field fence. After two average seasons, Carroll was fired again. When his daughter enrolled at USC to play volleyball and Hackett was fired at the end of the 2000 season, Carroll inserted himself into the coaching search.

It has been a family affair ever since. Along with his volleyball-playing daughter, Carroll's son has been on Pete's coaching staff, and his old coach, Troppman, has often been flown at Pete's expense to Los Angeles so he could be close to his protégé. Unlike many successful people, Pete has always remained close to his roots. Old friends, coaches and teammates describe cell phone calls from Pete, calling from the locker room minutes before kickoff or from a post-game celebration.

Carroll is handsome, physically fit, and charismatic in a manner that combines the wit and intelligence of John F. Kennedy with the football wisdom of Bill Walsh. His enthusiasm is utterly contagious. He wows recruits and their families, and has audiences spellbound when he speaks to groups.

At USC, when alumni long ago concluded that Rose Bowls and National Championships are their birthright, Carroll is approaching god-like status, on a par with such icons as "Gloomy Gus" Henderson, Howard "Head Man" Jones, McKay and Robinson. It cannot be emphasized too much how enormous an accomplishment, and how important it is to Trojan fans, to have the tradition of Troy restored in all its Cardinal and Gold glory.

In this book, Carroll will describe his philosophies. They are truly new, revolutionary ideals, replacing the tired nostrums of old-time grid coaches. Carroll, the Californian, a man of the Age of the Aquarius, a man who routinely uses phrases like "cool" in a free and easy manner, has found the right combination for success. "It's A Good Day To Be A Trojan" is far more than the inside story of an overachieving football coach. It is a textbook for life, as applicable to business and sales professionals as sports fans. It is a book that describes a template for success in the 21st Century and it promises to be the next Best Selling sports book on the heels of "Moneyball".   

 

THE NEW MEDIA

 

In January 1968, CBS' anchorman Walter Cronkite, after observing the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, told America that in his estimation, the war was unwinnable. There were few other media outlets that had the standing to dispute Cronkite's assessment. Many Americans assumed that if "the most trusted man in America" felt the country was failing, it was not to be disputed.

 

Over the next 12 years, the  "liberal media" defined America. After Watergate, the Left may well have felt justified in feeling that they had won the ultimate argument of history. When Ronald Reagan won election to the White House, it not only proved that the Left had not "won," but that conservatism had a major voice aching to be heard.

 

Over the next decade, encouraged by electoral victories, the Right felt compelled to engage in a culture war that would be defined by new forms of media and battlefronts on old forums.

 

This first took form on radio, embodied by Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh became a hero to conservatives and anathema to liberals. Up until 1993-94, Limbaugh stood almost alone, battling the Left in a "daily pursuit of the truth," as he put it.

 

While conservative talkmeisters had always had a voice - Father Coughlin the 1930s, Paul Harvey nationally and Bob Grant in New York - none had the power of Limbaugh.

 

The Left looked at Limbaugh and saw an anomaly. Their feeling was that he was a singular phenomenon, but when he faded from the scene his influence would fade, too.

 

They were wrong on two fronts. First, Limbaugh's message never grew old, but what truly changed the country was technology. While radio is an old medium, it worked in confluence with emerging new media which the conservatives put  a stranglehold on. This was cable TV, the Internet and the so-called blogosphere.

 

Today, a CBS anchorman like Cronkite might make a statement such as "the Iraq War cannot be won," and he would immediately be shouted down by talk radio, the conservative print, the Internet, cable news and the blogs.

 

An exclamation of how the conservative media and technology became the voice of the Right, of modern American Christianity, of the "flyover states" and the New South - thus making it the sounding board of electoral success - is the exclamation of how America regained its footing; how the U.S. went from stumbling and failure, to establishing itself as the greatest empire in world history.  

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

           

LIBERAL MEDIA BIAS CREATES NEW PARADIGM

 

Liberal media bias displayed  during the recall campaign coalesces some new dynamics. First, liberal bias is not a "myth" or a "lie." It is a fact. This factual knowledge lives within the province of the knowledge of millions upon millions of ordinary, patriotic American citizens. These are the people Hillary Clinton calls the "vast right wing conspiracy." This "conspiracy" consists of fed-up people who know how to fill out ballots, and are motivated to vote. That's what the meanng of is is!

 

Second, liberal bias has gone through a conversion. It was a huge backlash against McCarthyism, which reached crescendo status in Hollywood, print media, and the networks, during the Vietnam and Watergate eras. The American Left came very close to achieving "victory," but conservatism's "secret weapon," the Silent Majority, held the thin green line until Ronald Reagan and Rush Limbaugh emerged. In the 1990s, talk radio, followed by the Internet and cable news, diluted the effect of the liberal media.

 

Third, because of Bill Clinton's character, the new conservative media, and then 9/11, liberal bias was reduced between 1998 and 2003. The Left wing, sensitive to criticism and seeing smaller profits, reduced its vitriol during the 2000 campaign, benefiting George Bush. However, the same people who have fueled the liberal/anarchic wing of elite opinion, could not help but revert to true character. Two things are behind this return to form. In the 21st Century, the United States is the most powerful empire in world history. The Left despises the concept of American hegemony and success, preferring "an even playing field" of "fairness" and other utopian nostrums . Communism was defeated, but the mindset behind the Western version of it remains. This strain of society is the Emma Goldman wing of anarchism. Its modern ally is terrorism. This is an evil that takes the defeated ideologies of Communism, Fascism and racism, ball it all up, and create hatred among people who do not share in the victorious history of Democracy. Finally, simple psychology comes into play. The Democrat party is on its last legs. They were on the verge of crumbling in 1972, 1991 and 1994. They were saved by Watergate and Republican blunders. Counting on more G.O.P. mistakes in 2004 is not realistic. By 2012, the Democrats will be splintered into independent parties. They are the new Whigs. Its members, and their friends in the media, frustrated by their lack of influence, react like any animal that knows it is cornered. They visciously strike out. The media was constrained by the Iraq War, but the Leftist press and the Democrats' reaction to President Bush in its aftermath is the most hateful I have observed since the Reagan years. They are reduced to rooting for scenarios that are bad for America and the world. The Republican party has never in its history given in to such blatant politics.

 

Now, here is the "dirty little secret." As a conservative, I should probably let the Democrats keep killing themselves, but my guess is they are so filled with (self?) hate that this lesson will not sink in. The secret is that Democrats and the media, who engage in viscious quasi-unpatriotic attacks, are hurting themselves and helping the Republicans. The media labors under the myth that they still have influence and power, when in reality their words are either not believed or are unread/unheard by a citizenry who choose to find Truth in other quarters. The Left may be reaching liberals, but they are creating a smaller audience, not an expanding one. The more the Left criticizes the right, the more votes they "create" for the right. Liberals read their attack headlines and labor under the falsehood that they are changing minds, but each November they are stunned to find that Republicans make gains. As Pauline Kael said after Richard Nixon won 49 states in 1972, "I don't know how he won. I don't know anybody who voted for him." This is an inevitable reality, based on the fact that conservatism and (Judeo) Christianity are the winning ideologies of 2,000 years of history. Democrats and the liberal media, however, have little wriggle room. To continue to spew negative politics is to dismantle their apparatus further. The alternatives are not attractive to them, and include dropping out of public life or making a turn to the right.

 

The liberal media has played down a little-known reality, which is that Communism made huge in-roads in American opinion in the 1930s, '40s and '50s. When Whittaker Chambers exposed Alger Hiss, he had lunch with Henry Luce and an escaped dissident from Stalin's Russia. The Russian explained that, "In America, the working class is Democrat, the middle class is Republican, and the upper class is Communist." I offer the work of Hollywood as one piece of evidence that demonstrates that while the Communist conspiracy was foiled by the likes of Chambers, Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover, the motivations behind it coalesced into anti-Americanism, which found a home in the Democrat party and the liberal media..

 

God bless this beautiful nation.

 

I'M MAD AS HELL AND I'M NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE

 

One of the duties of consumers in the free market is to rage against the machine every so often, so here goes. I have a cell phone but I leave it in my car because it can get lost or stolen in crowded bars and restaurants. I have had the same home phone number for over 20 years. That number came with a calling card, which is the number plus a four-digit code. I have used it a million times. There was always a small surplus for the convenience. A 55-cent call from Marin to San Francisco might be 75 cents. Fair enough. Lately, I have noticed amazing charges on pay phones, and I cannot believe this is not sticking in the craws of a lot of people besides me. A one-minute call from a pay phone near Lake Tahoe to Reno, about 40 miles away, cost $24. Twenty-four DOLLARS. Recently, I had to call a cab after being separated from my car (and my cell phone). Out of change, I used a pay phone on 4th Street in San Rafael to call a cab company in San Rafael. The phone book was missing, so I had to use my calling card to call information (about a 20-second call rounded to a minute), followed by the call to the cab (another 30 seconds rounded to a minute). The call to 411 was $9.50, the call to the cab was $8.50. I had reason to use pay phones more than usual last month, and I charged seven or eight calls to the calling card. A couple of the calls were from pay phones south of 4th Street in San Rafael to numbers north of 4th Street that, honestly, I could have shouted to the location and been heard. I got answering machines, left messages, and the whole call was about 20 seconds (rounded to a minute). The cost: $8.45. As Slim Pickens once said, "What in the wide, wide world of sports is goin' on here?"

 

So I called the toll free number on the SBC bill. I found myself speaking to a person in Texas who told me she was not SUPPOSED to help me. Not that the calls were legal, she could not help me, she did not want to help me, or that she enjoyed my predicament. Rather, she was not SUPPOSED to help me. As if there was some law, some rule, a case, judicial mandate or a pronoucnement from Gawd that made it ILLEGAL for her to provide me the first iota of customer satisfaction. She told me to call my phone company. How stupid of me to think the phone number on the bill sent to me by my phone company was the phone number of my phone company. She did not know who my phone company was, where they were located or what their name was (apparently the bill coming from SBC does not mean it comes from SBC). It was my distinct impression that she was hired highly, precisely and to quintessential effect due to her ability to sound very pleased that customers were mad and that it was her duty to tell them they had zero recourse.

 

I called the Marin D.A.'s consumer protection division. They had helped me before when CompUSA tried to rip me off. The friendly man there said he was aware of the situation but had no answer other than to buy pre-paid calling cards from the grocery store, and never to use the calling card that was first issued to me by Pacific Bell in 1982. He told me that pay phones were "private property" and that they had to have a phone number on them that one could call to find out how much a call will cost ahead of time. I have to differ with his assesment slightly. Pay phones are what are known as "quasi-public property." They invite the public to use them for commercial purposes. Like, for instance, a shopping center, a "quasi-public property" is different from a personal house or a private piece of ranch land in, say, Montana. Therefore, they are subject to different laws regarding discrimination and other public issues.

 

The phone number on the pay phone does not, in my view, make it proper for these phones to gouge ususpecting customers. Courts have found, for instance, that long contracts with small print that nobody reads for daily purchases are not as enforceable as more private contracts for a one-on-one agreement like, for instance, a deal reached between Barry Bonds and the San Francisco Giants, which is gone over with a fine tooth comb by lawyers for both sides. I would argue the number on the pay phone, which could be scratched out, graffitied-over or too dark to read, falls under the "boiler-plate" language of semi-unenforceable contracts. Furthermore, it offers no choice. The phone call may be necessary, perhaps even an emergency. Even if one takes the time to call the number on the front of the pay phone to find out a one-minute call half a mile away in the same area code will cost $10, the consumer still may have no other choice. It is not like there are five pay phones lined up and the caller can sample each of them to determine the lowest cost. Free markets are fine, and pay phones provide a service that is often indispensable. There are fewer of them now due to cell phones and vandalism, but the blindside costs of getting hammered for 10 bucks seems to be something that consumer laws in this country, somewhere, somehow, are meant to prevent.

 

I am of course well aware of the "options," which are to use cell phones, pre-paid calling cards or keep change, but the simple fact is there are times when those options are either unavailable or highly inconveninent, and use of the calling card at a pay phone is the only choice. For now, think of this as a cry in the wilderness and, for what it is worth, the identification and exposition of SBC as being the company that charged these rates (although they are not the only ones). Let the call go forth to a new generation of Americans that we are not gonna take it anymore.

 

STRIKE THREE!

(Working Title)

 

An inside expose of Barry Bonds, baseball's steroid scandal, and its far-reaching effect on modern society

 

A BOOK PROPOSAL

 

By STEVEN TRAVERS

 

Excerpts from Chapter One: "Crossing the Rubicon"

 

San Francisco, California - October 5, 2001  SBC Park used to be called Pacific Bell Park. It is the jewel by the bay in San Francisco, a place that brings to mind the lyrics of Journey's classic rock anthem to their hometown, "Lights":

 

            "When the lights go down in the City…

            "And the sun shines on the bay…"

 

            It has meant a great deal to The City, a place of duality that is both arrogant and beset by an inferiority complex. Pac Bell is something that San Francisco did right, finally. It is something that San Francisco did right, of course.

            Pac Bell Park has been a source of pride in the Bay Area for five years now. In a town where many would not attend a baseball game at dilapidated Candlestick Park if they were paid to do so, Pac Bell became a Mecca of baseball and the "in" place to be. A place for cool cats and hipsters, for those who feel the need to see and be seen. The trendy restaurants and waterfront bars that surround the stadium have become hot spots in a part of town, China Basin, that was once a blue-collar wasteland.

            Pac Bell was built after decades of angst in and around a city known for its angst. Mainly, it was built to accommodate the heroics and histrionics of a single athlete named Barry Bonds.

            Friday night, October 5, 2001, was the night everything would be worth it. The politics and the money that went into building the world's best baseball stadium. The enormous contract that lured Bonds home from Pittsburgh to play for the San Francisco Giants. The locker room dissing of the media by the prima donna superstar. All of it would be overshadowed and made right by the events of this fateful night.

            It was chilly at Pac Bell on this evening, certainly not a surprise in a town where Mark Twain once said he spent the coldest Winter of his life in the Summer. The capacity crowd was appropriately wrapped and bundled. Their very appearance on this night was more significant than the usual "sports history is being made" scenario. Less than one month prior, terrorists had flown airplanes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and thanks to a handful of American heroes who said the Lord's Prayer before taking action, into a Pennsylvania field instead of the White House. In the weeks after 9/11, the American public had grieved and tried to find answers. Now, on this night a continent away, for the very first time, they were fighting terrorism in the best way they knew how. With the threat of Anthrax or bombs literally hanging over their heads, they were sending a message to Osama bin Laden. The message, which would be repeated by New Yorkers at the World Series a few weeks later, was that "we live, we love, we win." The reality of the crowded arena now held special meaning in a world in which terrorists seek to kill as many people as possible. Part of this reality was a growing sense of defiance, denying satisfaction to an enemy thirsting for evidence that they had changed a nation through fear.

            At 8:15 P.M., half a continent away, a big red-head named Mark McGwire went down on strikes, and at that moment an African-American slugger who is a walking contradiction took a mighty cut and made McGwire the former home run champion. It was Barry Bonds' 71st homer of the season, and the greatest record in all of sports had fallen. It was the result of a personal crusade of excellence by a man who had taken the art of long ball hitting to a new level. His efforts had a superhuman quality to them, as if he had the will of the gods and the lightning touch of Zeus at his disposal.

            Sports, perhaps more than any endeavor, allows people to observe on occasion man at his absolute primal best. The arena of sports is the truest, best place to display human excellence. Those who pursue these arts are, of course, flawed people like the rest of us, which only adds to the duality and mysterious conundrum that makes it so beautiful and real. When Bonds broke McGwire's record, he helped America take its first steps back towards normalcy, and at the same time erased - at least for the time being - the public's perception of him as a spoiled, arrogant superstar.

 

Burlingame, California - September, 2003  Located just a few miles south of Pac Bell Park on Highway 101 in the town of Burlingame, in a non-descript mini-mall, Federal agents were collecting evidence from a sports nutrition company called Bay Area Lab Co-Operative, BALCO for short. BALCO had been supplying some of the most elite professional athletes in the world with steroids. They were run by a man named Victor Conte. Conte's brother was Stan Conte, the respected trainer for the San Francisco Giants. Now the jig was up. A new era in steroid enforcement would soon hit the sports world like a ton of bricks. The Feds were not just going after a few athletes, mostly little known track stars. Now they were going after the biggest of the big fish, and their suppliers, too. It was the sports version of RICO, a conspiracy law that former New York prosecutor Rudy Giuliani had used to cripple the Mafia in the 1980s.

The sports world is a pay-per-view life of home runs, multi-year contracts and fan adulation. The players are made out to be modern day gods, and like Roman emperors of yesteryear, it would not be such a bad idea to place a mortal by their side, whispering in their ear the warning that, "All glory is fleeting."

Almost two years after breaking McGwire's record, Barry Bonds continued to defy that warning. He was in the process of winning his third consecutive Most Valuable Player award, giving him six in his career. No player had ever won more than three. In 2002 he had led the Giants into the World Series, where he hit four home runs in a dazzling, heroic effort against the Anaheim Angels. Now he had his team in first place, driving towards another championship, and baseball's home run records were falling faster than Eastern Europe under Stalin. Bonds had, since 2001, surpassed a collection of Hall of Famers on the all-time career list. Now only three icons were ahead of him. His Godfather, Willie Mays, warily watched his protégé approach his mark of 660, which would fall either late in 2003 or early in 2004. Next was the ghost of Babe Ruth, whose various records for homers, slugging percentage, and on-base average were being erased by Bonds, seemingly bent on purging the Bambino from the record books like some disgraced politician during the Cultural Revolution.

            Beyond Ruth lay Henry Aaron. Aaron symbolized American Struggle - the black man who overcame prejudice to break Ruth's record of 714 home runs in 1974, helping to pave the way for a new generation of millionaire African-American athletes like Bonds. Aaron had retired a couple of years later with a seemingly unbreakable 755. Aaron had been the thin kid with the quick wrists and the unorthodox, hit-off-the-back-foot batting style. He was old school all the way. After Bonds broke McGwire's record, Aaron had lent himself to a Charles Schwab commercial, "warning" Bonds in a semi-comical "Field of Dreams" voiceover to retire instead of pursue his career mark. But pursue Bonds did. Bonds had the greatest season in baseball history in 2001, and now he was passing records that were making more and more experts consider that maybe, just maybe, he would someday be accorded the title Greatest Baseball Player of All Time. 

             In continuing to achieve glory year after year, Bonds' was improving with age! Instead of limping towards his middle years with deteriorating skills, relinquishing the glory as Ruth, Mays and Aaron had before him, Bonds would not head quietly into that good night. Whereas his ability defied the logic of known batting skills, his body defied the laws of age, of gravity, of Father Time. He was baseball's version of the picture of Dorian Gray, and an amazed sports world wondered how he did it.    

In September of 2003, the heady concerns of Barry Bonds were a pennant race, Mays' mark, another MVP award, followed by The Babe and "Hammerin' Hank". Little did he know that at this very time, only a few miles away and in Washington, D.C., an investigation was underway that would rock the very foundations of his insulated, "I'm Barry Bonds and you're not!" world. Deals would be cut. Stool pigeons would sing like canaries. Everybody would save themselves.

The first target was Greg Anderson. Anderson had grown up with Bonds in San Carlos, a San Francisco suburb located next door to Burlingame. He had played little league baseball with Bonds, then parlayed his friendship into a successful career as a personal fitness trainer. Through this connection he had become associated with BALCO, which saw itself as a "one-stop shopping" center in which Bonds could train, and have his nutritional and "strength" needs taken care. In the Bay Area, a warm weather metropolitan place that is home to two Major League baseball teams, two pro football teams, an NBA franchise, two major colleges and some of the top athletes in the world, BALCO was in the right place at the right time. Or so it seemed. As they say, be careful for what you wish for!

            Federal authorities raided BALCO. They raided Anderson's condominium. They found illegal anabolic steroids. They were "caught looking," to use a baseball term. Red-handed. Flat-footed. With a "smoking gun."

While sports pages heralded the pennant race and the beginning of football season, Federal authorities were questioning Anderson and Conte. Anderson told them that he had provided steroids to a number of his clients. This included several top Major League baseball players. One of them was Barry Bonds.

            Earlier that season, Major League Baseball had tested players for steroids. Seven percent of them had come up positive. Whether Bonds had been one of them was not revealed, because the players' union had negotiated a deal in which steroid abuse would be met with little more than an anonymous slap on the wrist. But this was not the Commissioner's Office. This was the United States Justice Department, led by a no-nonsense, conservative Christian named John D. Ashcroft. Ashcroft reported to a President, George W. Bush, who just so happened to have once owned the Texas Rangers. Bush was a man who cared deeply about the state of Our National Pastime. All bets were off.

 

San Francisco, California - December, 2003  Anderson's confession and the ensuing investigation had been kept quiet while Bonds completed his MVP season. The Giants were upset by Florida in the Divisional Series. Soon after the Marlins completed their improbable run, culminating with a victory over the vaunted New York Yankees in the World Series, the Justice Department announced that Anderson and Conte had been arrested, and that BALCO was being investigated for distributing illegal steroids to elite athletes. Among them were Bonds and his best friend, Gary Sheffield. Sheffield, the newest member of the Yankees, had experienced resurgence in his career after spending an off-season at Bonds' home, training with him. Sheffield's Yankee teammate, Jason Giambi, a former member of the cross-bay Oakland A's, was also under investigation. So were a number of pro football players and track stars.

            A hearing was held at the San Francisco Federal Courthouse. Bonds appeared, smiling, dressed to the nines, and arrogant. A media circus scrutinized his every move. He denied everything.

 

Scottsdale, Arizona - February, 2004  In the months after his appearance in a Federal courtroom, Bonds had continued to deny using steroids. This was the official line of most of the accused. Bonds most likely did not know that Anderson, as far back as September, had told the Feds that he had given him steroids. They had set him up for a fall, giving him just enough rope to hang himself. When President Bush made his State of the Union speech in January, he mentioned steroids in sports. The public, like Bonds, was unaware of the fact that Attorney General Ashcroft had told him about Anderson's statement. Now, in the idyllic Spring Training atmosphere of Scottsdale, Bonds "perfect world" was further rocked by the public disclosure, by Anderson, that he was among the athletes who had received steroids. Questioned by the media, Bonds assumed the "bunker mentality" mode that he always does when mere humans question and require the truth from him. He told reporters to "get the hell out of my locker," and reverted to the trusty "race card," declaring himself the "most wanted man in America," thrusting his arm outward in a gesture reminiscent of either Tommy Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics, or Adolf Hitler at Nuremberg.

            "Black power!" was his statement to the press.

 

Ft. Lauderdale, Florida - February, 2004  Jason Giambi, the 2000 American League MVP, whose rise as a baseball star had coincided with his becoming the workout partner of Mark McGwire, reported to the New York Yankees' Spring Training facility. He had signed a multi-million dollar free agent contract with the Bronx Bombers following the 2001 season. One of the things he had brought with him to New York was his personal trainer, who had quit his job as the A's strength coach to work solely for Jason. Giambi had gotten more buffed, ripped and strong than ever before. Appearing in two-page color ads in ESPN the Magazine, Giambi appeared to look more like a bodybuilder than a baseball player. However, after the 2002 agreement between owners and players had mandated steroid testing, Giambi's appearance began to fluctuate. He was no longer allowed to bring his trainer with him into locker rooms and on the field. Now, possibly scared off by the steroid accusations swirling around the game, Giambi reported to Ft. Lauderdale, and the first reports from the media were that he looked like "a scarecrow." 

 

Washington, D.C. - March, 2004  While Bonds was living in a state call Denial, and Giambi was sweating out his association with BALCO and the fallout that this would entail, much of the focus of the scandal shifted to our nation's capital, principally two places. Segue to the Justice Department, where government lawyers and investigators were preparing for the next phase of discovery. Over on Capitol Hill, U.S. Senator John McCain (R.-Arizona) was leading the questioning of baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and union head Donald Fehr. Fehr had more to hide than a Red during the McCarthy hearings. The union he represented had been harming the game for years, and now it was apparent to Senator McCain that Fehr was not interested in the players nearly as much as he was interested in holding onto power; a power that had shifted over the previous 20 years, imperiling the balance of the game, and leaving the fans with the feeling that baseball was no longer pure.

 

§ § § § §

 

Steven Travers has freelanced for magazines, newspapers and web sites. He produced Steven Travers’ Journal on the Internet, and formed San Francisco Sports Management, Inc., where he was a sports agent before embarking on a full-time writing career in 1994.

STRIKE THREE! by Steven Travers promises to be the first, and most comprehensive book to provide an honest appraisal of steroid and performance-enhancing drug use in the sports world generally and the baseball world specifically. It will be written by an author and sportswriter of multi-varied experiences, which makes  Travers uniquely qualified to write  STRIKE THREE! For example, Travers is:

 

• the author of the controversial bestseller, BARRY BONDS: Baseball's Superman, which was nominated for a Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of 2002

• the former lead sports columnist for the San Francisco Examiner and StreetZebra; sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Daily News; a sports stringer on San Diego’s XTRA 690 AM radio station

• a former freelance sports writer for magazines, newspapers and web sites

• a former professional pitcher in minor league baseball

• a former minor league teammate of Jose Canseco — an alleged steroid user — in the Oakland A's organization

• a former classmate of Mark McGwire at the University of Southern California, where Travers was an assistant coach

• the co-founder of San Francisco Sports Management, Inc., a sports agency which represented, for a brief period, the Pittsburgh Pirate outfielder Al Martin.

• intimately aware of the workings of the Players Association, its Executive Director, Donald Fehr, and the Association’s intransigence and the arbitrary nature of its actions in the steroid controversy

• intimately knowledgeable about the role of Major League Baseball and its Commissioner, Bud Selig, in the steroid controversy.

• a former personal trainer with a first-hand knowledge of the drug-drenched fitness industry

 

STRIKE THREE! follows in the tradition of great sports exposés. In 1970, Jim Bouton, a journeyman baseball pitcher, wrote "Ball Four". Bouton's magnum opus spawned a generation of tell-all books and movies ("North Dallas Forty", "Semi-Tough", "The Bronx Zoo").

Now comes Travers with an inside book written by an insider. STRIKE THREE! promises to rock the very foundations of the “tight-lipped” baseball establishment and, to a large degree, American sports itself.    

Just as Michael Lewis' "Moneyball" educated fans on the intricacies of scouting and economics in baseball, STRIKE THREE! will educate people on what really happens behind the closed doors of locker rooms and fitness training facilities.

Travers' will employ a non-narrative, dramatic writing style influenced by such books as Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood", Hunter S. Thompson's "Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas", Tom Wolfe's "The Right Stuff", and David Halberstam's "The Best and the Brightest", all blended with his personal style, which has been described as "the new Jim Murray."

STRIKE THREE! will read like a "whodunit" — a story of betrayal and Faustian choices by a Rogues' gallery of celebrities and wannabe's, each in a quest for fame and fortune. The dramatic, fast-moving, cinematic pace of this book will take us from Major League locker rooms to shady, back-of-the-building encounters at fitness and nutrition centers, to Capitol Hill, into Federal courtrooms, and to points in between.

 

            The book will focus on the recent, on-going news reports involving BALCO (Bay Area Lab Co-Operative), a San Francisco Bay Area sports nutrition company run by Victor Conte, whose brother, Stan, is the trainer for the San Francisco Giants. BALCO's close connection to Barry Bonds is centered around Greg Anderson, who played little league baseball with Bonds in nearby San Carlos. Anderson, as Bonds' personal trainer and nutritionist, has maintained a lifelong friendship and professional relationship with Bonds.

The Federal government alleges that, in September 2003, they were told that Anderson had given steroids not only to Bonds, but to such Major League superstars as Gary Sheffield (Bonds' best friend and off-season workout partner) and New York Yankee slugger Jason Giambi. Shortly after the 2003 season ended, news of the Federal investigation hit the sports world like a tornado. In December Bonds, among elite athletes in football, track and other sports, was compelled to testify under oath. A month later,  President George W. Bush, having been apprised of the Justice Department's findings, decided to politicize the issue by speaking out against steroid abuse in his State of the Union address. Just as the Major League players reported to Spring Training in March, 2004, another bombshell struck: BALCO had given steroids to Bonds, Sheffield, Giambi, football star Bill Romanowski, and many others. The rumbles coming from San Francisco equaled any earthquake the region had previously endured.

 

            In his earlier Bonds biography, Travers promoted the slugger as the "greatest baseball player of all time," Now, in the light of Bonds’ alleged illegal use of steroids, Travers will recant  that assessment. This "new view" of Bonds will not merely affect his place in history, but will require a re-assessment of the statistics and accomplishments of "modern athletes" in all sports as compared to those untainted stars of yesteryear.

 

 

 

THE FEATURED PLAYERS

 

At the heart of this story is a thirsty desire; greed for fame and fortune and for success on the playing field, a desire to get ahead, and to rise head and shoulders above the competition - at any price! What drives this greed is the "new morality" of success in America, a "win at all costs" mindset that has inculcated our children and manifested itself in our "heroes." The old saw, "It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game," seems to have been replaced by the latest version of Leo Durocher's philosophy that "nice guys finish last," or the CIA maxim that "the end justifies the means."

           

BARRY BONDS

            It is fitting that when it is all said and done, Barry Bonds is at the heart of this controversy. Bonds is a man who has never played by the same rules as the rest of society, because he never had to. From his earliest youth, he has been special, gifted, anointed. To expect a young man with his advantages to be in any way "normal" is to expect a miracle. His decision to take steroids, if in fact the final facts prove beyond doubt that he indeed did so, falls in line with his arrogant outlook on life, encapsulated by a Sports Illustrated cover story titled, "I'm Barry Bonds and you're not!"    

 

 

 

MARK MCGWIRE

            For a few years, McGwire was one of our greatest sporting heroes. He was a larger-than-life figure; boyish and modest in an "aw shucks" kind of way, Big Mac was the anti-Bonds. When he broke into the big leagues, McGwire was friendly and accommodating. In the early 1990s, his body type changed dramatically. He began to lift weights "seriously," and many now suspect that he began to take steroids. With his body transformation came a mood transformation, as well. Close friends from his past - USC and high school - found themselves cut out of his world. Writers noticed that he was subject to moodiness, a trait associated with steroid usage. Still, McGwire's basic decency, which manifests itself in his love of kids, shined through when he broke Roger Maris' single-season home run record. A mere three years later, however, beset by strange injuries - the kind that steroid use creates over time - McGwire retired into obscurity. Why did he disappear? Could it be that he anticipated the exposure of steroid abuse in baseball and wanted to remove himself from the scene before the story broke? Now, faced with an inquiry that may drag him back in like a retired Mob boss who cannot escape "the life," McGwire may have to face up to his own responsibility in this sordid mess, not just for the sake of honesty, but to convey a message to those he truly cares about, America’s youth.

 

JOSE CANSECO

            The "clown prince of baseball" has freely admitted to steroid usage. He believes that as many as 50 percent of Major League players have ingested these substances. The conundrum of Canseco's career is that steroid use may have hurt him as much as it helped, since it created injuries that kept him off the field, while turning him into a one-dimensional player.

 

JASON GIAMBI

            Giambi is McGwire's best friend. Despite his "party like a pornstar" persona, he is at heart a decent young man, like McGwire. Giambi may well have been on steroids, and he likely weaned himself off them for three reasons: They were causing him freak injuries, he came under suspicion, and he wanted to set a good example. Still, faced with the scrutiny of the New York media, and representing the "pride of the Yankees," Giambi will be under pressure to come clean while protecting the image of his game and his team. He may turn out to be the "wild card" of the steroid scandal.

 

KEN CAMINITI

            Lost in the recent furor is the sad tale of Caminiti, a journeyman who discovered that illegal steroids turned him into a batting machine, but robbed him of his most precious gifts in the prime of his life. Steroid abuse caused him to sustain injuries and turned him into a manic-depressive. This was further exacerbated by the ills of alcohol and drug abuse. Now, he is a broken man, who is desperately seeking help, understanding and forgiveness for his sins.

 

GREG ANDERSON

            They say it is not what you know, but who you know. That may have been the key, and the key to Anderson’s success. Since he knew Barry Bonds intimately, he  became the personal trainer of star athletes, a coveted role in the competitive fitness world. Like Charlie Sheen’s Bud Fox character in "Wall Street," he found that his talent and hard work could be easily replaced. Instead of inside information, what was required of Anderson was access to steroids. His is the story of a regular guy who had to look himself in the mirror and make the choice of delivering the goods and thus "losing his soul." 

 

VICTOR CONTE

            Like Anderson, Conte used his special access to create a niche for himself. His access was through his brother, Stan, the trainer for the San Francisco Giants. His intermediary, Greg Anderson, was Barry Bonds' childhood friend. Conte’s stock-in-trade was pills and drugs that helped make the dreams of athletes come true. But at what price?

 

AND OTHERS . . .

            On the periphery of this story are a number of others. So far, Cubs' superstar SAMMY SOSA has escaped close scrutiny, but the man who hit home runs with a corked bat also became huge very quickly. His home run power has turned him into a multi-millionaire and an icon in baseball-crazy Chicago, but he is not as innocent as the original Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks.

            A controversial figure in football for years has been BILL ROMANOWSKI, who allegedly received his steroids from BALCO. Romanowski has long been a player who performs on the brink of sanity, amped by his own manic personality and a testosterone boost courtesy of steroids. He is an outrageous example of "better football through pharmaceuticals."

            Also to be heard from will be Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, who already heads a Justice Department probe of BALCO, and Senator John McCain, the man who seems bent on getting baseball to own up to its role in the scandal.

 

            STRIKE THREE! will highlight another scandalous chapter in the innocence of Our National Pastime — baseball. It will shine a light on pitchers, those worthy warriors who, armed only with their natural courage and skill, have been battling unfair odds for years. The nature of "right vs. wrong" will be played out in this book, and in the end it is hoped that the fans will renew their faith in the honesty and integrity of the game. If baseball is forced to put the symbol of a syringe next to Bonds' records, in lieu of the  asterisk that was added to Roger Maris’ home run record year, then so be it.

STRIKE THREE! is also meant to provide a wake-up call to parents, coaches and athletes at the college and high school levels that steroid usage will not be tolerated, and  those using steroids will be exposed. It will also be emphasized that although a tiny percentage of youngsters who try steroids may achieve athletic success, all users will risk sustaining long-term physical harm.

 

SPORTS AND STEROIDS; AN HISTORICAL CONTEXT

 

            Not since Canadian track star Ben Johnson was caught on the "juice" at the 1988 Seoul Olympics has steroid abuse been as prominently displayed for public consumption as it is now. The questions regarding steroid abuse, especially in baseball, go to the heart of the question of cheating and fairness. In this regard, baseball holds a special place in American society. Unlike football, track or other Olympic sports, in the public psyche, baseball is "different." It is the sport of "everyman," a game that your next door neighbor can play. While the majority of football or basketball players, require abnormal physical attributes like great height, Hercules-like strength and enormous size, baseball players of ordinary height and weight can succeed.

            Football was, for many years during and after the turn of the century, a "college game." It was not until the 1950s, when television popularized it, that professional football became a national obsession. Basketball has always been a sport that engenders great enthusiasm for the athletes who perform it at its top level, but the average citizen finds it hard to relate to its seven-footers and urban edginess. Boxing was the sport of lower classes who chose to participate in the "sweet science" to avoid dreary factory work. Unfortunately, its close association with organized crime always made it suspect.

            Baseball, on the other hand, was pure. It was, and still remains, Our National Pastime. Its enduring myths are accepted by adoring fans who prefer to believe them regardless of the "facts."

            .

            In the 1930s, scientists first started experimenting with steroid-like substances. Out of cancer research, scientific farming techniques and hormonal growth studies, the first crude steroids were created. Experiments on animals and racehorses began. Nazi scientists also began to experiment, using steroids on human subjects. In the years after World War II, Soviet scientists came to the realization that steroids could make human beings bigger, faster and stronger. In the effort to gain the upper hand over the West, in the 1960s and '70s East Bloc athletes were doped up, and suddenly Communist countries were seriously competing in the Olympics. The sight of "female" East German track athletes, weighing well over 200 pounds, possessed of incredible strength, complete with moustaches and overtly male characteristics, competing against innocent American women, quickly created a furor in the sports world.

            Now, decades later, it is time for an examination of just what happened to many from the East Bloc countries - early deaths, deformities, birth defects, cancers, and other ailments. STRIKE THREE! will look into this long-overlooked netherworld.

            Steroids and silicone became artificially implanted in human beings, and the result was a plethora of large athletes and larger-chested strippers. Agricultural crops were injected with steroids, as were farm animals. It was all hailed as a benefit to society, since foods could be kept longer for travel, making for cheaper prices and an answer to world hunger. While the use of steroids outraged American sports fans who saw them as providing unfair advantages to Communist athletes, few understood the health risks involved.

            In the 1970s and '80s, steroid use exploded in two major areas. First, bodybuilding emerged from the shadows and became a highly popular activity. Led by the uber-Austrian Arnold Schwarzenegger, bodybuilders developed "perfect" physiques through better steroid use. Women and gays were attracted to the quasi-sexual nature of the sport, and with the advent of ESPN, television made it available to everyone.

            Secondly, steroid use came to dominate professional and eventually college football. Doctors became the behind-the-scenes superstars of football, as depicted in such books and films as "North Dallas Forty", "Meat on the Hoof", "The Program" and "Any Given Sunday". Not only were they injecting players with steroids in order to effectuate their strength gains, but they were using a variety of pharmaceuticals to mask pain, provide artificial psychological stimulation, and to put the athletes in the uncomfortable position of "playing in pain" and determining the difference between "pain and injury." The high testosterone levels created by steroids also provided athletes - male and female - with the "mental edge" of fighting competitiveness. It was the answer to thousands of years of efforts on the part of military leaders to create "trained killers" for the battlefield.

            Anabolic steroid use, for the purposes of packing on muscles, became the dominant off-field activity in football. Linemen became bigger and bigger every year. Today's linemen are on average 75 pounds heavier than they were in the 1970s, even though weight training was mandatory. A recent HBO "Real Sports" documentary revealed the terrible "Catch-22" of steroid use among the biggest men in the NFL. Terrible health problems confront those who have retired after years of steroid use. Away from the cheers, the money, the glory and the women, these men struggle with liver problems, sexual dysfunction, joint inflammation, heart trouble, and a variety of ailments that range from serious to deadly. 

The competition and the money have become so intense that linemen have little choice but to use steroids in order to maintain competitive balance. If they do not, somebody else will. Their opponents are on it. They either "juice" or they do not survive the Darwinian jungle of football's interior "strength game."

            In the early 1990s, former Raiders' wildman Lyle Alzado died of brain cancer, blaming his predicament on steroid use throughout the 1970s and '80s. It did nothing to curtail the activity. Sports had become dominated by a win-at-all-costs mindset best summarized by a poll of track, swimming and other Olympic sport athletes, who freely admitted that they would ingest steroids if it "guaranteed" a Gold medal, even if it meant lopping off five to 10 years from their lives.

            Somehow, steroid use among football players, bodybuilders, Olympic hopefuls and Communist automatons did not fire up the public. This was still a relatively small group, seen as hybrids of society; exceptionally big men, narcissists, semi-human products of East German training centers. But in the 1980s, things began to change dramatically. Baseball players started taking steroids. This has been the event that is causing a sea change in public opinion regarding steroids, for two main reasons. First, baseball players are "just like us." They are not 6-7, 340-pound behemoths. If steroids work in baseball, then the impact of these drugs on the competitive balance and health of our nation will be affected in a brutally negative manner. Worse than the concept of a handful of millionaire superstars using the drugs to achieve advantage, steroids are now creeping into our high schools, colleges, the minor leagues, and everywhere else that young men play sports. This is the great cautionary tale of our times, and the reason why this issue is of such paramount importance. Every parent of any high school athlete should be scared to death!

            For years, steroid use was "okay" if the "ends justified the means." That is, a bodybuilder could accept the consequences of his actions if it meant competing for the Mr. Olympia title. A track star could talk himself into believing a Gold medal was "worth it." A football player craved glory and riches in the game he had devoted his life to. Shriveled testicles, low sex drive, loss of hair, bad hearts, brutal acne, and other side effects were the "price to pay," and besides, once retirement came, there would be time to get healthy again. It was a lie.

            But steroids in baseball? Baseball was the one sport that would not be affected by steroids, it was decided. For years, baseball coaches told their players not to lift weights because it would "tie them up" and leave them muscle bound, unable to freely swing a bat or cavort like a gazelle in the field. Could steroids make baseball players better? That is at the heart of the question which STRIKE THREE! shall address.

 

§ § § § §

 

In 2000, Barry Bonds had his best season since 1993. He slammed 49 home runs and led the Giants into the play-offs. But in 2000, he turned the game upside down. His locker at Pac Bell consisted of four separate stalls all blocked off by a huge pillar that hid him from general view. He relaxed in a Barcalounger and watched cable television on a personal screen available to nobody else on the team. He was surrounded by a nutritionist, several fitness trainers, a personal stretcher and various sycophants.

Early that season, Steven Travers, recently hired as the lead sports columnist for the San Francisco Examiner, approached Barry Bonds and established a relationship with him. When Travers arrived at Pac Bell Park, he quickly sized up the situation.

            "The Bay Area media treated Barry like the Abominable Snowman," Travers wrote. "Writers and reporters approaching his locker did so with trepidation, resembling Dorothy attempting to steal the broomstick from the Wicked Witch of the East."

            At 6-6 and 230 pounds, a former professional pitcher who had been at USC with McGwire and Randy Johnson when they were battling Bonds of Arizona State, Travers was unfazed by superstars in Hollywood or sports. He was a contemporary of Bonds who felt no intimidation about his star status or surly reputation. He approached Bonds, introduced himself, and shortly thereafter wrote a glowing column after Bonds hit his 500th career home run. In it, Travers pronounced that Bonds had broken into the pantheon of Bay Area sports greatness, like Joe Montana and Bill Walsh. He was now accepted as a Son of San Francisco by the fans, just as they had taken to Willie Mays slowly at first. Like Reggie Jackson, he was now more than just an athlete, and his new status reminded Travers of the way Boston fans had taken to Ted Williams, or New Yorkers to Mickey Mantle.

            In May of 2001, Bonds hit five home runs in a series at Atlanta. Shortly thereafter, teammate Shawon Dunston bet Barry a Mercedes that he would break McGwire's home run record. At the same time, Travers arrived at this conclusion on his own. When the club returned from the road, he approached Bonds about ghostwriting his authorized autobiography. Publicly, Bonds discounted his chances at breaking the record. Privately, he agreed with Travers that he might very well break it. Perhaps he knew just how much the steroids he may have been on by then were helping him. He had gained 30 pounds of lean muscle mass, and stripped to his shorts in the locker room, Bonds' body was a marvel. Bonds agreed to let Travers pursue the book deal, but when discussions with publishers ensued, Bonds began to ask for millions. For this reason, the authorized autobiography became a biography. "Barry Bonds: Baseball's Superman" was nominated for a Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year, made Best Seller, and went into multiple re-print, including paperback.

            During the 2001-2004 seasons, there were revelations about steroid abuse in baseball; they were directed at baseball in general, and Bonds in particular. No sooner had Bonds won his third straight National League MVP award, than a story hit that BALCO was being indicted on various Federal charges, namely surrounding the illegal distribution of steroids and other performance-enhancers to elite athletes. Along with Bonds there was Sheffield and Giambi of the Yankees, and Oakland Raider crazyman Bill Romanowski. Sheffield's name further added to the speculation, since he was Bonds' best pal and off-season workout partner. He had experienced a rebirth in his career after training with Barry in his Hillsborough home. But what tied Bonds ever more closely to the BALCO fiasco was his association with Greg Anderson, who had parlayed the association into a career as a personal trainer and BALCO steroid supplier. The incestuous Bonds-Anderson-Giants connection was deepened further by the fact that BALCO owner Victor Conte is the brother of Giants' trainer Stan Conte.

            In December, 2003, Bonds testified before a Federal grand jury, but his testimony  was not made public. What the public did learn was that in February of 2004 the Feds had known three months prior to his testimony that Anderson had supplied the players with steroids. This news rocked Bonds and baseball just as he was reporting for Spring Training in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he arrogantly sniffed at the media's attempts to hold him accountable for his actions.

            At the Houston Astros' Spring Training facility in Florida, former Giants' teammate Jeff Kent conducted an obtuse, roundabout interview in which he accused Bonds of using steroids, but added that many other players were on it, and probably had been much longer than many fans suspected. In Pittsburgh, former Pirates' teammate Andy Van Slyke, who was a member of an enormous club that might as well be called "Those of Us Who Know Barry Bonds Well and Can't Stand the Guy," told the media that Bonds was undoubtedly juiced to the max. Cousin Reggie Jackson chipped in with sour grapes commentary in which he all but accused Bonds of juicing, claiming that "nobody's better than Hank Aaron." Hank was watching Bonds' approach in the manner of French citizens waiting for the Werhmacht in early 1940. Commissioner Bud Selig issued a gag order, as if silence would dissipate the impending disaster.            

 

CAUTIONARY TALE: THE STEROID USE IN THE 21ST CENTURY

 

            Steroids have become the drug-of-choice not just among professional athletes, but throughout the amateur ranks, as well. As long ago as the 1980s, a football player at a small school, Cal State, Sacramento, told a friend of the author that "everybody on the team does 'roids except the kicker and the quarterback." If a low-level program like Sac State was infected by steroids that long ago, then the problem is obviously far more widespread than anybody truly suspects. The fact is that steroids are now in wide use everywhere - in health clubs all over the world, and most frightening, in high school sports programs. The fact that steroids are found to "help" in almost all aspects of athletic endeavor - all sports, almost any position, men's and women's sports, any age group - means that the problem is not relegated to the province of big men, gargantuans or "freaks." It is in baseball, the most pedestrian and Democratic of sports. It is in the schools. It is in the homes. Every parent, every young athlete, needs to read this book and know the stark truth about steroid abuse.

            Baseball is now an established Olympic sport. It is one of the most international of games, and its influence is therefore widespread. The game's visionaries hope to someday create global leagues that will compete in a true "World" Series. They have a vested interest in the game's marketability, popularity and integrity. Major League Baseball instructed players and coaches not to speak to the media about the Bonds, Giambi, Sheffield and BALCO investigations. This is a typical "head in the sand" approach to the issue. Baseball in particular needs to address steroid abuse, because it is more dangerous in baseball than other sports. The "average" size of baseball players means that steroids have become average, not the province of rare huge men. Not only is their a growing threat of steroid abuse in high schools, but in Latin America, where baseball offers a way out of poverty, steroids and increasingly-dangerous "steroid imitations" pose deadly health dangers.

But the baseball union is the most powerful of all sports unions. It has done more to hurt the game than any other factor, infecting Our National Pastime with poisonous strikes that seem to disrupt baseball just when it reaches maximum popularity every seven years or so. Currently, the union has the power to resist a true testing system, one with actual accountability. What is happening in baseball, as it pertains to its approach to steroids, is a lie. This lie will be exposed in STRIKE THREE! The baseball union is interested only in maintaining their own power, and in propelling the contracts and bargaining position of Major Leaguers. Retired players, the ones facing the brunt of post-career steroid injuries, are of little concern to the union.

            The first tepid tests were conducted in light of the Ken Caminiti and Jose Canseco allegations. Both players told the media that upwards of half the players in the big leagues had used steroids. After a 2002 strike was averted in favor of a new contract between players and owners, approximately seven percent of unnamed players came up positive. This seven percent promises to be a very small number. The players were well aware of the dates of upcoming tests, allowing them to cycle down in time to take the tests and avoid detection. Furthermore, sports science has reached the point where masking agents, water-based steroids and other agents are able to dilute or hide the existence of steroids. In addition, many players are able to cheat the system by switching cups or results in pre-arranged acts of obfuscation. The seven percent who had been caught were incredibly stupid and careless, perhaps even making a desperate call for help. Many, many more players no doubt were hiding their dirty little secrets in the manner of Mafia wise guys.

            The truth is that sports science is one of the most rapidly advancing areas of medicine today. With the advent of cloning and stem cell research, we are embarking on a Brave New World of sports perfection, a world of "Stepford Wives," silicone-enhanced porn fantasy girls, robotic humans capable of breaking barriers never believed possible; of eternal youth and physical artificiality worthy of a "Twi-Light Zone" episode. But this "advancement" in humanity comes with a cost, and this cost will be paid in blood by the youth of our children unless we wake up and take the boldest possible action.

 

Approach to the book

 

            Travers believes that he can research, interview and write throughout the 2004 baseball season, submitting chapters to the publisher as they are completed, with the final manuscript completed in September, 2004. The objective: to publish STRIKE THREE! at the beginning of the 2005 baseball season. And to have the uncorrected proofs of the book available by March, 2005 in order to have it included in the all-important USA TODAY Baseball Weekly review of baseball books, which is published annually at this time.

Travers has personally acquainted himself with the issues surrounding the use of steroids in sports generally and now in Major League Baseball. He has trained in gyms in which a majority of the men were on steroids for little reason other than cosmetic vanity. He knows a number of healthy young men who are now a shell of their old selves, haggard and "washed up" in their early 30s because of steroid use. 

Travers will engage in a far-reaching investigation, interviewing doctors, trainers, nutritionists, coaches, athletes, bodybuilders, and experts in the science of sports medicine. His goal is to use this research to expose every facet of steroid abuse to the harsh light of public knowledge. One of the most startling facts he plans to unveil is just how easy it is to mask steroid use. Hiding steroids occurs through two main functions.

First of all, the official governing bodies of sports have a vested interest in keeping steroid use on the down low. The NCAA, the International Olympic Committee, Major League Baseball, and other groups, realize that scandal hurts ticket sales, television contracts, and disrupts the money machine that is the mother's milk of modern sports.

The second way to mask steroid use is through a combination of cheating and masking. Players sometimes know when the tests will be ahead of time, so they cycle off of it in time. Or they mix results, sometimes with the "wink of an eye" knowledge of a trainer or official. Furthermore, many steroids, like THG (which was Anderson's specialty), are "masking agents," not detected by current testing systems. There are also water-based steroids, which are more difficult to detect. 

Steve's law background will be helpful, since the subject matter is of a sensitive, on going legal nature regarding public, and in some cases, private figures. He would like to assure the publisher that he will be highly cognizant of all potential libel, and his ability to produce chapters on an on going basis will allow for unhurried vetting. He will use all his available resources to cajole the truth out of players who in many cases are  aching to present their side of the story. All of this will be in conjunction with the continuing BALCO investigation and trial, which promises to dominate headlines for the next year.

            As a former pitcher himself, Travers will use his special connections with hurlers such as the A's Barry Zito and Tim Hudson, and superstars Greg Maddux and Curt Schilling, to get the perspective of the "last clean baseball players." Pitchers are engaged in an activity that is so delicate, so much an act of finesse, that steroids have not permeated the position, although Roger Clemens has been the subject of accusations, particularly after his testosterone-fueled bat-throwing altercation with the Mets' Mike Piazza in the World Series. Over the past seven years, pitchers are the David vs. Goliath heroes of baseball, battling everything that seems to work against them. The baseball itself has been said to be “amped” beyond its normal liveliness, and now they are facing hitters who are so strong that even when jammed and forced to pop up — sometimes with broken bats —  they are able to hit home runs over increasingly shortened outfield fences. Since pitchers are the oppressed class of baseball, they will talk to Steve Travers about steroid use. They have ulterior motive, and in Travers they will find a kindred spirit.

            Travers will also seek out and interview ex-athletes, in baseball and other sports, because this is where the true tragedy of steroids manifests itself. Former stars who cannot function sexually, stricken with bad knees, feet, shoulders, spines and bodies, no longer in the limelight, their lives and marriages in shambles. Ken Caminiti, for instance, has been described as a man barely above living on the street, despite million-dollar contracts and success at the highest level of his profession just a few short years ago.

            Travers will follow the BALCO trial very closely, and as it plays out he will draw upon the ever-growing list of witnesses and experts, personally interviewing them for the book. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were able to get to the bottom of Watergate because many of the witnesses they pursued felt the psychological need to tell the truth about something they did not wish to be associated with. Travers has the similar advantage of being on the right side of a bad issue. He believes many will speak to him openly in order to clear their own own consciences, and to warn the next generation and their parents just what is at stake: The health of our influenced kids!

Chapter Synopses

 

 

CROSSING THE RUBICON

 

Chapter one will set the tone of STRIKE THREE! in the non-narrative, dramatic style of a fast-paced novel, segueing from major public events, like Barry Bonds' breaking of Mark McGwire's home run record, to the private meetings of individuals, the personal choice to use drugs that culminated in their doing so in other locations, and in the places where the Justice Department and Senate investigations of BALCO take us. Travers will endeavor to find out personal facts about individuals, and the details that surrounded their decisions to take such dangerous steps in their lives and careers. The title of the chapter offers the theme that steroids were something contemplated and available, and when they finally accepted and ingested them, they crossed the "point of no return." Travers shall endeavor to discover the exacting details of the individuals' choices to take this step.

 It will examine the Giants' slugger and his relationship with Greg Anderson, Victor Conte, and BALCO. The role of BALCO in the building of Bonds' body, which coincided with his late-career improvements and emergence as a major home run slugger, will be very enlightening.

 

ORIGINAL SIN

(HISTORY OF STEROIDS IN SPORTS)

 

An overview of steroids throughout sports history. The innocence of sports was lost over time when steroids reared its ugly head, like Satan offering Eve an apple in the Garden of Eden. First scientists, then Soviet athletes, then others, all engaged in their own version of Original Sin by taking fateful, gradual steps that have led us down the "path of good intentions." This chapter will first look at the growth and popularity of American sports, and its effect on our culture. It will examine the importance of records and the attachments of fans and communities to players and teams, and intertwine this with the growth of steroids, first discovered in the 1930s. In the 1950s and '60s Communist athletes performed with the help of illegal drugs, followed by bodybuilding in the 1970s, and football in the 1970s, '80s and '90s. Ben Johnson brought to light the fact that steroids could improve the performance of "non-power" sports, which opened the door to steroid abuse in baseball. Once muscular players like Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa had passed Barry Bonds as marquee attractions, Bonds made his own fateful decision to keep up with them.

 

CAUGHT LOOKING

(BALCO TRIAL)

 

The on going trial involving Anderson, Conte, and the elite athletes involved, who include Bonds, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Bill Romanowski, and numerous others. These players were left flat-footed because baseball had an anonymous testing system, offering little real accountability. They were further seduced by the government's offers of limited immunity for testifying, but when it was discovered that Anderson had "ratted" them, they found themselves in a firestorm of public controversy in which perjury charges may be inevitable.

 

IF WE BUILD THEM

(THE MEDICAL COMMUNITY)

 

 Testimony from top doctors, scientists and nutritionists on the effects of steroids, and the enormous changes in what we know, continue to know and to learn about performance-enhancing drugs and how they are "hidden" or "masked." What is learned will be applied to the actions of Conte, Anderson and no doubt more names of medical, nutrition and training experts who are just waiting to get caught.

 

THE LAST PURISTS

(PITCHERS)

 

The victims of steroid abuse in baseball vent their frustrations over juiced-up sluggers, juiced-up baseballs, and shortened fences. One of the pitchers Travers plans to speak with is Curt Schilling, who is already an outspoken critic of steroids, "enhanced" sluggers, and is an advocate of tough testing. Schilling has been battling Bonds for years, and now he is in Boston, where he is surrounded by the media hailstorm that engulfs the red-hot Yankee-Red Sox rivalry. The rivalry will be heightened (if that is possible) by the existence of Giambi and the adding of the new Yankee, Sheffield, into the cauldron.

 

 

 

 

 

STEROIDS, SLUGGERS AND SALARIES

(AVERAGE PLAYERS SPEAK OUT)

 

 What about the middle infielders, or just those who play by the rules, but are paid millions less than steroid-busting sluggers? Do they have something to say? This issue is further exacerbated by the fact that Barry Bonds is very disliked, particularly by the journeyman class of baseball. Years of pent-up frustration over salaries and now the unfair use of steroids will provide fodder for controversy. 

 

CORNFED MEAT

(COLLEGE AND PRO FOOTBALL)

 

 The tragedy of competition for scholarships and professional contracts, particularly among interior linemen who often sacrifice their health for careers. The genesis of steroids at the college level may very well originate at the University of Nebraska, where in the early 1980s a legendary strength coach led the Cornhuskers, pumping his players up in a new, state-of-the-art weight room.

 

OUR CORRUPTED YOUTH

(HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALLL)

 

 The shocking truth about prep baseball is that football linemen are not the only ones taking drugs. Every parent needs to know that when young baseball players see the likes of Bonds, McGwire and Canseco rise as "steroid superstars," they arrive at the conclusion that these drugs can help them stand out. As other athletes see how steroids help baseball players, they will realize they can "help" in their sports, too.

 

THE THRILL OF VICTORY AND THE AGONY OF DEFEAT

(OLYMPIC SPORTS)

 

Ground zero in the steroid game; how drugs dominated first Soviet sport, then crept its way into international competition, and finally into all other sports. While the Olympics have seen gross abuses of steroids, their testing system may just be a template for the way other sports should approach it. Baseball became an Olympic sport in 1984, when McGwire, an All-American from the University of Southern California, led a talented U.S. squad at L.A.'s Dodger Stadium. Baseball hopes to eventually field a basketball-style Dream Team in future Olympics, but the rigorous testing system may not pass muster with the Major League Baseball Players Association.

 

GRAND ILLUSION

(BODY BUILDING AND THE WWF)

 

 With the rise of Arnold Schwarzenegger and the mainstreaming of the sport, drugs came to dominate bodybuilding and its hybrids, fitness training and the WWF. USA TODAY recently reported that a shocking 65 men who over the years participated in the popular "sport" have died prior to the age of 45!

 

CLOUD OF SUSPICION

(THE FANS)

 

How drugs affect the perspective of the fans, and the way gamblers (who make up a billion-dollar betting industry) could use information about who is juiced and who is not to "fix" games. The role of race and popularity plays a part in the perception of the public as they opine about Bonds, McGwire and other players. Fans, ultimately, fuel sports through ticket sales and merchandising, yet they are given little real respect. The relationship of fans and their sports makes up a social contract that is unraveling. This book also will give them a new perspective, which is that steroids do not affect a mere relative handful of elite athletes, but rather, once it spreads to the schools, it affects their kids, their teammates, their brothers, sisters, friends and classmates. 

 

GLORY DAYS

(OLD-TIMERS AND RETIRED PLAYERS)

 

 After the glory: Pain, debilitation, dysfunction and disillusion. Is it worth it? Then there are former superstars, like Aaron and Mays, two veterans who do not begrudge the likes of Barry Bonds breaking their records. They are happy to see a fellow African-American benefit after they blazed the trail for him, but if they are convinced Bonds, and others, are cheating, how will they truly react to their records falling artificially? What about players who never made the kind of money players make today, or used steroids only to live in pain now?

 

 

 

 

 

 

DEALING WITH THE DEVIL

(ROLE OF THE BASEBALL UNION, AGENTS, MLB AND THE GOVERNMENT)

 

Nobody has contributed to all the things that are wrong in sports more than the unions and the agents, and none are worse than in baseball. Nobody knows this better than the ex-agent, Travers. Barry Bonds is the product of this culture of sycophancy, of lackeys who cater to his every need, whose job it is to tell him how great he is, and he believes it all. It is not realistic to believe that under these circumstances such a man would not feel entitled to break the law to get ahead, just as it was unrealistic that with his gifts, advantages and upbringing he would not be arrogant. It is time to crawl so far up their butts that the truth oozes out of their nostrils.

In light of the Caminiti allegations and the 2002 agreement between players and owners, baseball began a system of testing, and also limited the access of personal trainers, nutritionists and assistants to the players on the field and in the locker rooms. U.S. Senator John McCain (R.-Ariz.) represents a state in which half of the Major League teams train. Many players, active and retired, live and train in Arizona. The state is home to several minor league teams, the big league Diamondbacks, and some of the most successful high school, junior college and college baseball programs in the nation. He has taken the lead on investigating steroid use in baseball, warning Commissioner Bud Selig and union leader Donald Fehr that if they do not clean their own house, the Federal government will do it for them.

 

FUTURE SHOCK

(AFTERMATH OF A SCANDAL)

 

The question is whether baseball will recover from this scandal in the manner of their recovery after the Black Sox disaster, or whether they will crumble in a heap of cover-ups and union greed. At the heart of this question is the single theme that will be intertwined throughout the book, and that is the evolving story of Barry Bonds and his impact on Our National Pastime. Beyond Bonds lies a Brave New World of sports science. We are glimpsing a "future is now" look at a Toffler-like world, but we ain't seen nothin' yet.  Beyond Barry Bonds and his records lies a world of stem cell research, designer children, a world of haves and have-nots in which much of the world we live in, including sports, is divided between the "naturals" and the "superiors." This nation once fought and defeated an enemy that promoted just such a Master Race, yet because we so willingly forget the past, we condemn ourselves to repeating it. Instead of a world of Josef Mengele's, we are looking at a world of bright-eyed, "well meaning" sports doctors who, for a price, will take us down a path that delivers the future George Steinbrenner's of the 21st Century "victory" - at any cost.

Does this book aim to warn the world of the dangers of such a world? You bet it does!   

 

Marketing

 

STRIKE THREE! is a book with an unlimited audience. It is not just a "fan's book," providing "inside baseball" details involving highly paid superstars. It is also a book which is concerned with the health of our nation. And, it involves every age group at every level of sports, from high school to the “majors.” Clearly, this is not a problem restricted to the United States. The issue is every bit as important internationally as it is in professional and collegiate sports in the United States..

            Steroids have already become a major subject of discussion not just in the sports media, but it is a "political football" as well. President Bush mentioned it, and it has been discussed on all the major talk shows. There is little doubt that the individual states, the Federal government, and international bodies will respond to this crisis with varied forms of legislation. It seems to be a naturally "conservative issue," since the concept of "illegal drugs" is one that Republicans have always had success politicizing. In addition to Senator McCain, one can just imagine politicians with conservative political and sports ties, like former Congressman Jack Kemp of New York and Kentucky Representative Jim Bunning, making a new round of "just say no" to steroids advertisements.

            STRIKE THREE! promises to be the biggest, hardest-hitting exposé of sports since Jim Bouton’s "Ball Four". In an age in which most people are no longer shocked at revelations at the highest levels of sports, politics and business, this book will alert the public to a danger that exists not only in the sports palaces of America, but in the gym down the street, the locker room of the local high school, and even in the bedrooms of our young children. This is the dramatic story of the end of innocence, one in which our heroes are broken down to moral, Hamlet-like choices: To use steroids or not use steroids. It is the first book to deal with the issue of steroids in our oldest, most cherished game. STRIKE THREE! could very well become mandatory reading by every coach and athletic director at every high school and college in the nation.

In the course of his research, Travers will seek out well known medical professionals, such as Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who appears regularly on CNN, and in so doing he will be creating opportunities for additional publicity that relates the subject to his book. He will be seeking knowledge from such well-respected institutions as the University of Southern California Medical School and the U.C.-San Francisco School of Medicine. Travers also has many contacts in the bodybuilding and fitness training world who will enlighten readers on this subject. The focus on the book will of course center around Bonds, the game's greatest player, and two huge New York superstars, Giambi and the recently acquired Yankee, Sheffield. The BALCO investigation promises to have long tentacles, and there is little doubt that many, many athletes, coaches and owners are nervous right now. However, the overall book will give additional attention to football, the Olympics, college sports, and perhaps most wide reaching, prep sports. The idea is to alert the public to a problem that is societies' problem, not just something to be concerned about in the sports world.

            This is a book with potential promotional tie-in possibilities, to be exploited by newspaper and magazine outlets such as the San Francisco Chronicle, the New York Post, the New York Daily News and Sports Illustrated;  television and radio outlets such as  ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports Network, CNN, HBO Sports, and WFAN Radio. For instance, in soliciting for subscriptions, S.I. could offer a promotional tie-in for STRIKE THREE! Furthermore, Travers will likely be generating publicity through interviews conducted with each of the media.

            In today's competitive book market, an author is expected to be more than mere writer, who distances himself from promoting and publicizing his book. As a result of his promotional and publicity efforts with his first book, BARRY BONDS: Barry Bonds: Baseball's Superman, Travers has become an experienced and savvy marketer. He has compiled:

 

14  A list of 8,000 email addresses, organized into groups of people who are readers of his work and media members, able to be sent to in a few clicks of a button.

15  300 fax numbers to every major newspaper and magazine in America, all in a computerized system that allows him to send all of them faxes with a few clicks of a single button.

16  1,500 postal addresses, all pre-organized on labels, which combines a personal mailing of his fans with editors and media personalities.

17  An up-to-date listing of sportswriters and book reviewers of sports books.

18  Phone numbers of every major media outlet in the country.

 

Travers maintained all the information and contacts from his successful book promotion tour in 2002. This includes the names and phone numbers of key individuals in every independent and mega-bookstore in California where he conducted book signings.

Travers is sought out frequently by the print and electronic media because of his knowledge and background in sports and his ability to communicate baseball information and concepts to fans of all ages in a “down-to-earth” manner.   He has been interviewed on numerous occasions by major newspapers, the wire services, the key news weeklies, and general periodicals. And, he has appeared extensively on television and radio. He did more than 40 radio and TV interviews, including appearances on the Jim Rome Show, CNN, ESPN, the Armed Forces Radio Network, all the major stations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, plus WFAN in New York, the nation’s premiere sports radio station. Because of his experience as a public relations professional, Travers is capable of handling many of the PR duties that will no doubt increase the marketability of STRIKE THREE!

Author

 

Steven Travers wrote the bestseller BARRY BONDS: Baseball’s Superman (Sports Publishing, LLC) It was nominated for a Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of 2002. After multiple re-prints, a paperback edition has now been published. Steve is the former lead sports columnist for the San Francisco Examiner and StreetZebra Magazine, a sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Daily News, and a sports stringer on San Diego’s XTRA 690 AM radio station.

Steve has also freelanced for magazines, newspapers and web sites. He produced Steven Travers’ Journal on the Internet, and formed San Francisco Sports Management, Inc., where he was a sports agent before embarking on a full-time writing career in 1994.

After going to college on a baseball scholarship, where he was an all-conference pitcher, the 6-6, 230-pound Travers played professionally for the St. Louis Cardinals, where he was a teammate of Danny Cox. Travers once struck out 1989 National League Most Valuable Player Kevin Mitchell five times in one game (he K’d 15 that night). With the Oakland Athletics, he played alongside Jose Canseco.

 “Punching out K-Mitchell was great,” he recalls, “but the highlight of my career may have been when I was with the A’s against the Giants in a Major League exhibition game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. I struck out the side and went nine-up, nine-down in three innings.” Steve later coached at USC, Cal-Berkeley and in Berlin, Germany. 

Travers attended the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications. At USC, he was a classmate of Mark McGwire and Randy Johnson. Travers also attended law school and studied in the Hollywood Film Institute and the UCLA Writers' Program. He served in the U.S. Army during the Persian Gulf War, and was a political consultant.

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF STEVEN TRAVERS’ CAREER

 

  • Author of bestseller BARRY BONDS: Barry Bonds: Baseball’s Superman (currently in multiple re-print, now in paperback, and nominated for a Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of 2002).
  • Sports columnist for the San Francisco Examiner.
  • Sports columnist for StreetZebra, a leading Los Angeles sports magazine.
  • Sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Daily News.
  • Sports stringer on XTRA 690 AM radio.
  • Freelance writer for magazines and web sites; produced an Internet journal.
  • Regularly interviewed on local and national media.
  • Author of 15 screenplays, teleplays and stageplays, half of which have been optioned, sold, or written for hire, and several of which have won awards; plus treatments and songs.
  • Credits include “The Lost Battalion,” “Wicked” and “Baja California”.
  • Appeared in the film "The Californians", starring Noah Wylie and Illeana Douglas.
  • Author of the novel “Angry White Male” a compilation of his work, “The Writer’s Life”, and “God's Country”, a three-volume conservative, Christian worldview of how history formed the United States Empire and America's Manifest Destiny for the 21st Century.
  • Exceptional knowledge of all facets of the entertainment industry - creative, legal and business.  Experience dealing with and interviewing celebrities in film, sports and business; reputation for discretion and maintaining “off the record” confidence of story subjects.
  • Communications degree from the University of Southern California; attended USC Film School, UCLA Writers’ Program, and graduated from the Hollywood Film Institute.
  • Entrepreneurial self-starter who created his own sports newspaper while in high school; member of National Champion high school baseball team.
  • Earned an athletic scholarship, and was all-conference pitcher in college.
  • Ex-professional baseball player for the Cardinals and A’s.
  • Learned leadership skills while serving in the United States Army during the Persian Gulf War.
  • Learned more leadership, and management skills, coaching at USC, the University of California, and managing a baseball team in Europe.
  • Traveled throughout all of the United States, Canada, and Europe.
  • Attended law school, and worked in a law firm during this time.
  • Worked as a student intern in the USC Sports Information office, and as a production assistant for ABC Sports while in college.
  • Campaign manager for a California Congressional campaign, political consultant and speechwriter; public relations and advertising experience.

 

STEVEN TRAVERS ON SPORTS COLUMNS

 

What makes a great sports column? Beyond fancy lingo and entertaining tricks there must be a good opinion, written with the voice of authority, backed by top-notch reporting.

 

I think a column is less about the “who, what, why, when and where,” and more about getting to the point quickly, moving through the narrative and bridge, and maintaining focus on a linear line of thinking that does not wander. It must be topical (what people are talking about), while maintaining an edge of analysis, practicality and, if possible, allowing for emotion – outrage or humor. Oh yes, it should not be afraid to break news.

 

A great writer is not necessarily a great columnist. Great prose in the style of Hemingway, Shakespeare or Jim Murray, to take three of my heroes, can be the focus of the reader’s attention while diverting from the purpose of a daily column, which is to inform. The first impression of Murray is that he wowed readers with his wordplay and knowledge of history, but at the heart of his work was research, research and more research.

 

Good newspaper editors recognize that fancy words cannot replace hard facts. This is the daily newspaper version of the screenwriter who tries to trick the reader into thinking the story can be carried by phraseology, not character development and plot structure.

 

Bring wit, literacy, social conscience and pathos to the work. Sports columns that are above and beyond the merely ordinary may have some combination of great love for sports, political sensibility, historical reflection, Hollywood flare, American wit, and old-fashioned humor. Incredible knowledge is not enough, like the law student with a photographic memory and fails to analyze. It is not a substitute for the hard digging for quotes, second opinions, counter-voices and fact checking that tells readers something they did not know or think about before.    

 

Style is intellect and love of language. Information implies reporting. Point of view, as opposed to opinion, means “where your head is at.” Without point of view a column is a flat, boring story disguised as a column. First person can be used, but only at the risk of being egotistical. The objective is to inform (report) and entertain on subjects that are timely, important, and talked about. The great sports columnist is the one sitting in the press box with the fresh, brilliant, insightful ideas that nobody else has.

 

Two things can cripple a column: Cliché-thinking and clichés. Example: “It’s time to fish or cut bait.” Change it to “It’s time to angle or cut the smelt.”  

 

The most important thing is to learn from every mistake, lump, and criticism.

 

STEVEN R. TRAVERS

Author of “Barry Bonds: Baseball’s Superman”

To order call toll free 1 (877) 424-BOOK

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REPRESENTED BY:

Samuel Fleishman, Literary Artists Representatives/(212) 787-3808 (books)

Lloyd Robinson, Suite A Management/(310) 278-0801 (screenplays)

         

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE (1994-2004) SPORTS COLUMNIST - San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco, Calif.

SPORTS COLUMNIST - StreetZebra Magazine, Marina Del Rey, Calif.           

SPORTSWRITER- Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News.

SPORTS STRINGER - XTRA Radio.

SCREENWRITER & FREELANCE WRITER.

 

EDUCATION:  UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, Los Angeles, Calif., Bachelor of Arts degree--Communication Arts & Sciences (attended USC School of Cinema-Television).  HOLLYWOOD FILM INSTITUTE, Los Angeles, Calif., Certificate of Completion.  UCLA WRITERS’ PROGRAM, Los Angeles, Calif.  WESTERN STATE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF LAW, Fullerton, Calif. 

BOOKS: “Barry Bonds: Baseball’s Superman” (2002, www.sportspublishingllc.com). Best seller, currently in multiple re-print, now in paperback and nominated for Casey Award for Best Baseball Book  of 2002. “Angry White Male”, “The Writers Life” and “God's Country".

 

SCREENPLAYS: “The Lost Battalion,” “Wicked,” “Baja California.” SCREENWRITING AWARDS: “Bandit”, America’s Best, Orlando, Florida. “Once He Was An Angel”, Quantum Leap, Calabasas, California.  “Rock ’n’ Roll Heaven”, Writers Network Screenplay & Fiction Competition, Beverly Hills, California. ACTING: Appeared in "The Californians", starring starring Noah Wylie and Illeana Douglas.

 

INTERNET: Steven Travers' Journal. LEGAL/SPORTS AGENT: San Francisco Sports Management, Inc.  MILITARY: United States Army Reserves. 

ATHLETICS: Professional baseball player, St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland Athletics...Coach, USC; Cal-Berkeley; Berlin, Germany. 

POLITICS: Campaign manager, California Congressional election.

 

STEVEN R. TRAVERS

Author of “Barry Bonds: Baseball’s Superman”

To order call toll free 1 (877) 424-BOOK

www.sportspublishingllc.com

 

Steven Travers has always been entrepreneurial. “I was turned down by my high school newspaper because they didn’t allow freshmen,” says the sixth-generation Californian, “so I started my own!”  After going to college on a baseball scholarship, where he was an all-conference pitcher, the 6-6, 225-pound Travers played professionally for the St. Louis Cardinals, where he was a teammate of Danny Cox. Travers once struck out 1989 National League Most Valuable Player Kevin Mitchell five times in one game (he K’d 15 that night). With the Oakland Athletics, he played alongside Jose Canseco.

 

“Punching out K-Mitchell was great,” he recalls, “but the highlight of my career may have been when I was with the A’s against the Giants in a Major League exhibition game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. I struck out the side and went nine-up, nine-down in three innings.” Steve later coached at USC, Cal-Berkeley and in Berlin, Germany. 

 

Travers attended the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications. At USC, he was a classmate of Mark McGwire and Randy Johnson. Travers also went to Western State University College of Law, the Hollywood Film Institute, and the UCLA Writers' Program. He served in the U.S. Army during the Persian Gulf War, and was a political consultant. “I’ve punched a lot of tickets,” Travers says of his background, “and I bring real-world experience to my writing.”  

 

In 2002, Travers wrote the best seller “Barry Bonds: Baseball’s Superman” (www.sportspublishingllc.com), which is in re-print, now in paperback, and was nominated for a Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the year. He also authored a novel, “Angry White Male”, a compilation of his work over the years, “The Writer’s Life”, and “God's County”, a three-volume conservative, Christian worldview of how history formed the United States Empire and America's Manifest Destiny for the 21st Century. Steve writes for Human Events, a national weekly magazine in Washington, D.C. that has been considered the leading conservative political publication in the United States for half a century. He is the former lead sports columnist for the San Francisco Examiner and StreetZebra Magazine, a sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Daily News, and a sports stringer on San Diego’s XTRA 690 AM radio station. “I have encyclopedic knowledge of history,” Steve says.  “I am truly versatile as a writer, able to use my knowledge of the past to understand the present.”  Steve has also freelanced for magazines, newspapers and web sites. He produced Steven Travers’ Journal on the Internet, and formed San Francisco Sports Management, Inc., where he was a sports agent before embarking on a full-time writing career in 1994.

 

Steve has also written 15 screenplays. His credits include “The Lost Battalion,” “Wicked” and “Baja California”. His writing awards are for “Bandit,” an America’s Best quarterfinalist; “Once He Was An Angel,” a Quantum Leap quarterfinalist; “Rock 'n' Roll Heaven” was a Writers Network Screenplay & Fiction quarterfinalist. He appeared in the film "The Californians", starring Noah Wylie and Illeana Douglas. Steve is represented by Lloyd Robinson of Suite A Management in Los Angeles.

 

Steve is the scion of a distinguished California family. His grandfather, Charles S. Travers, covered the 1906 Great Earthquake, started a silent film magazine in Hollywood, and was President of the San Francisco Press Club. His great-uncle, Reginald Travers, was a noted Shakespearean actor. His father, Donald Travers, is a retired attorney and track coach, while his mother, Inge Travers, is a renowned artist. Steve’s brother, Donald Travers II, is a former Naval officer. Daughter Elizabeth Travers is a budding vocalist. Inside Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium is the Col. Charles Travers Big Game Room (named after Steve’s uncle) to accommodate press conferences, and (named after Steve’s late aunt) is the Louise Travers Memorial Club Room. Colonel Travers also sponsors a wing of the university’s political science department, dedicated to fair and balanced analysis of public affairs.

 

SEPTEMER 1970

 

A treatment by

 

STEVEN TRAVERS

 

When two Southern-bred good ol’ boy coaches conspire to play an integrated football game between USC and Alabama, in front of a segregated white audience in 1970 Birmingham, the truth is revealed, followed by the changing of hearts and minds which allows Martin Luther King’s“dream” to finally be realized.

 

Mournful black Christian soul music plays as the opening credits intersperse with a montage of documentary and docu-drama black-and-white footage. A NARRATOR explains the events on the screen.

            The Civil War ends and Reconstruction is botched. Jack Johnson, a black boxer of the early 20th Century, was vilified by the white establishment because he cavorted with white women and lorded his victories over fallen white opponents.

            Jesse Owens wins Olympic Gold in front of Adolph Hitler in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Joe Louis defeats Max Schmelling in boxing action from the 1930s. Jim Brown runs rampant for the Cleveland Browns in the 1950s, and Syracuse’s Ernie Davis is the first black Heisman Trophy winner. Willie Mays and Hank Aaron are baseball superstars.

            The music takes on an upbeat “California sound” as the narrator explains that great social progress was made on the West Coast, particularly on the field of play between the University of Southern California and UCLA. Images of Jackie Robinson and Kenny Washington playing for the Bruins are followed by Robinson breaking the color line in baseball, then Rafer Johnson winning Gold at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

            “Conquest” plays as the narrator describes the social progress at USC brought about by their great black athletes. Brice Taylor was their first All-American in 1925. In 1956, C.R. Roberts ran for 251 yards in the first half of a huge victory over Texas at Austin. By the 1960s, coach John McKay had developed a dynasty using black stars Willie Brown, Mike Garrett and O.J. Simpson.

            This is followed by images of the “New Breed” of black athletes: Muhamad Ali, Bob Gibson, and Curt Flood.

“Southern Man” by Neil Young replaces the upbeat music while images of the civil rights struggle dominate the screen: blacks in the back of the bus, National Guardsmen at Little Rock; Bull Connor’s dogs and rubber truncheons suppress black protest in the streets of Birmingham. LBJ signs the Civil Rights Act. Medgar Evers is shot; Malcolm X, Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. are assassinated. Anti-war protests and images of Vietnam. The civil rights movement becomes violent, led by the Black Panthers. John Carlos and Tommy Smith give a black-gloved salute at the 1968 Olympics.

“Sweet Home Alabama” replaces “Southern Man” while the narrator describes images of Southern football: all-white players, Confederate flags, and Alabama winning national championships under legendary coach PAUL “BEAR” BRYANT.

 

FADE IN. Bryant sits in his corner office overlooking Governor George Wallace making his infamous 1963 “stand in the schoolhouse door.”

Bryant speaks to a white audience in the South, mid-1960s, vowing to maintain segregation, and stating that black students in Dixie are not academically prepared for the rigors of college at a white school.

Black-and-white turns to color. While playing golf with Bryant in California, JOHN MCKAY confronts him on his statement. Bryant tells him he has to play to his audience back there, that the pressures from Governor Wallace force him to put on a different face from the one he shows out West. McKay tells him that he, too, is from West Virginia and has sympathy for the situation his friend faces, but that he has been playing black players, has had success with them, and that his perspective has changed because of it, too.

In a Tuscaloosa neighborhood of the 1960s, a black teenager, SYLVESTER CROOM plays sandlot football with his black friends. They are not Alabama fans, choosing to emulate Grambling instead.

In a white Tuscaloosa neighborhood, a young boy, KEITH DUNNAVANT, watches his older brothers play sandlot ball. They emulate white Alabama stars like Pat Trammell, LeRoy Jordan and Joe Namath.

In a Birmingham church, a 40-year old black man, CLAUDE DAVIS, talks about how his nephew, Clarence, will be coming to town to play football for USC vs. Alabama.

In a black bar in Birmingham, black fans complain of their plight.

Bryant allows Governor Wallace to put his arm around him at a political rally.

 

At a Northern California high school football camp, USC assistant football coach MARV GOUX barks orders to a 14-year old camper named PETE CARROLL. There are black players among the campers. The camp’s director, BOB TROPPMANN, entertains two guest coaches, Bear Bryant and John McKay.

At the camp’s banquet dinner, Bryant regales a group of California prep coaches, some of whom are black, instructing them to “send your whisky-drinkin’, skirt-chasin’ D students to ol’ Bear, and I’ll turn ‘em into football players.”

Troppmann turns to somebody and mentions Joe Namath and Ken Stabler.

After the banquet, Troppmann shares a nightcap with Bryant and McKay. The two coaches smoke cigars and drink whisky. The subject of integration comes up. McKay subtly urges Bryant to recruit black players. Bryant says he plans to, and when it happens, “we’ll play ya’all, and it’ll be like a high-speed train.”

McKay turns to Troppmann and asks his opinion on integrating the South.

“I would offer no objections,” says the high school coach sitting in on history.

 

            In 1970, the NCAA announces that they are allowing for an additional 11th game to be played on the fall football schedules. Bryant gets his brain trust together. Coaches JERRY CLAIBRONE, MAL MOORE, CLEM GRYSKA and BILL RUTLEDGE are told that ‘Bama will open the season against USC at Legion Field in Birmingham. The coaches are adamant that it is a bad idea, not just because USC is integrated but because the Trojans are coming off an unbeaten season and could embarrass the Crimson Tide. Bryant insists.

“It’ll be good for Wilbur,” says Bryant.

WILBUR JACKSON, black high school senior, attends church in Ozark, Alabama. His friends and family warn him that he should not take Bryant’s scholarship offer to play football, that he will be used and abused.

“It’s in the Lord’s hands,” says Jackson.

 

At Eastern Arizona Junior College, JOHN MITCHELL, a strapping black defensive star from Tuscaloosa, Alabama tells Marv Goux that he will be coming to play for USC.

 

In a duck blind in Alabama, Bryant and McKay share from a whisky flask. Bryant tells McKay he’ll be in California for the Bob Hope Desert Classic and will see him then. They discuss a football game at Legion Field and mull over all the variables, and how such a game could end segregation. They agree to play.

 

Images of black basketball players being abused by SEC crowds.

 

At USC, black football stars CHARLES YOUNG, TODY SMITH, and CHARLIE WEAVER attend a white fraternity party. They are accompanied by MICHELE MCKAY, the coach’s white daughter. She is a “hippie chick.” Young is very cautious about the “brothers” being seen with her, since it is felt that Coach McKay does not approve of inter-racial dating.

Intersperce the frat party with a dinner party at Bryant’s condo on the Alabama Gulf Coast. Bryant’s wife, MARY HARMON, and McKay’s wife, CORKY, exchange gossip. Bryant excuses himself to go outside. An Alabama alum quietly tells McKay that Bryant has allowed the game of football to “pass him by.”

Back at the party, Tody dances wildly with a beautiful white girl, causing her boyfriend to get jealous. A wild free-for-all fight breaks out, but Young brilliantly manages to extricate his friends from the scene before more trouble occurs.

 

At USC, assistant coach CRAIG FERTIG is summoned by McKay to make a ‘mysterious” drive to Los Angeles International Airport. At the Western Airlines Horizon Room, McKay and Fertig meet Bear Bryant. Details are made to open the season at Birmingham.

 

In Alabama, quarterback SCOTT HUNTER views tape of USC, expressing great fear of their athleticism. His teammate, JOHNNY MUSSO, dismisses Hunter’s concerns.

In white churches, prayers and hymns are sung. Whites are portrayed as unsympathetic to blacks, cocky about Alabama football.

In black churches, more prayers and songs. Black fans express concern that if USC loses, it could set them back. 

At a USC banquet in Long Beach, the USC team is fully integrated, seemingly together in every way. McKay tells the audience that the upcoming game at Birmingham will pose a major challenge, but he expects his team to compete for the national championship as they always do.

Scenes of racial angst in Alabama.

Focus on SAM CUNNINGHAM, a black freshman football stud from USC.  Sam lives in the idyllic community of Santa Barbara, where everybody – white and black – seems to love him.

 

A black criminal, George Jackson, has just murdered a white judge, Harold Haley, in a California courtroom, using guns smuggled in to him by black Communist Angela Davis. The whole “black gun” mentality is particularly threatening.

A group of black USC players gathers in quarterback JIMMY JONES’ apartment: Tody Smith, Charlie Weaver, and JIMMY GUNN all tell Jones they have a bad feeling about the trip. Smith and Weaver inform Jones, the team captain, that they plan to bring guns to Alabama. Jones tells them that is a terrible idea.

 

Charles Young, a black USC tight end, and ALLAN GRAF, a white Trojan lineman, drive together to a construction site where they work summer jobs. The two seem to have little in common. When they pass an anti-war protest, they philosophize about how best to effectuate social change, and slowly the seeds of togetherness begin to form.

 

In USC’s “dungeon,” Coach Goux sends his team to Birmingham with a rousing pep talk, telling them that the “act of ‘conquest” is to go to another man’s house, rape his women and plunder his possessions.

 

Upbeat music plays over the following scenes, creating a sense of anticipation and power.

At the Birmingham airport, USC is met by the Alabama Million-Dollar band, but the drive to the hotel is desultory. They pass scenes of terrible poverty. Lineman DAVE BROWN whispers, “God help them.”

At the hotel, white fans look at USC’s blacks as if they are from outer space. Small white children reach out to touch black skin for the first time. That night, the gun issue again rears its ugly head. Jones is unable to talk Tody Smith from bringing his gun.

The next day, Alabama arrives at Legion Field, led by Bryant. USC leaves their hotel, and at the last minute Smith leaves his gun in his room.

At Legion Field, tremendous build-up permeates the crowd and the teams. ‘Bama fans are confident of their “racial superiority.”

A black man argues with his wife and heads off to the bar. Black fans listen to the game on the radio in bars and barbeques.

Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” plays. USC is “fired up” by Goux, and when the game starts puts on an incredible display, led by Cunningham.

“He’s making me look like a genius,” says McKay.

At halftime, trailing badly, Bryant tries to talk his beaten team back into the game, but they have no chance. Their fans look truly puzzled.

In the second half, USC pours it on amid stone silence from the crowd. Only the sound of USC cheering and a small contingent of black fans rooting for the Trojans breaks the silence. As the game wears on, the eerie sound of black fans cheering for USC outside the stadium is heard.

Sylvester Croom listens to the game on the radio. He is amazed. Scrolling over the screen is the information that tells us he will star for Bryant, coach on his staff, and today is the head coach at Mississippi State (the first black coach in SEC history).

Keith Dunnavant plays in a sandlot with black kids. He emulates Ozzie Newsome.

When the game finally ends, Bryant thanks McKay for “helping our program.”

Black fans celebrate in the local bar and backyard cookouts.

In the locker room, Bryant finds Sam Cunningham. He takes him into the hallway, where in front of some players, media, alumni and administrators, says “this here’s what a football player looks like.”

Alabama assistant Jerry Claiborne says, “Cunningham’s done more for civil rights in three hours than Martin Luther King did in 20 years.”

White fans enthusiastically endorse the prospect of Bryant recruiting black players. Their change of heart is almost absurdly turned around from their previous attitudes.

A white Alabama announcer says, “Bryant’s gotta get hisself some a them Puerto Ricans.”

A black man returns home and his wife sees new self-respect in his eyes.

Outside the stadium, Uncle Claude meets Clarence. He is one of thousands of black fans holding candles and Bibles. They thank the Trojans. As the bus pulls away, the black fans part the road, and the bus descends into a Heavenly light not unlike Moses, having parted the Red Sea, leading his people to the Promised Land.

 

DENOUMENT: The narrator explains over images that Jackson suited up the.following season, was captain of the 1973 team, and later sent his daughters to Alabama. When one considers the grim treatment given SEC black basketball players just two years before with the way Jackson and other blacks were well treated, one must consider this nothing less than a miracle orchestrated by the hand of God. Images of blacks and whites in the same church, working together in offices, attending the same schools.

The South integrated. Politics completely changed. Political analysis of “red states” is given. Images of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush winning the Presidency. Pro sports, the Olympics and an economic boom allowed the South to “rise again.”

McKay boasts to Bryant that he had recruited John Mitchell, but Bryant rushes to a phone and does a “sell job.”

Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” plays while Mitchell is the first black ‘Bama player, suited up on the opening kick of Alabama’s 1971 17-10 win over USC at the Coliseum.

McKay turns to Fertig and says wryly, “Well, that’s what you get.” 

Both USC and Alabama, both fully integrated, dominated the 1970s. Dave Brown led USC in Fellowship of Christian Athletes before the 2-4 Trojans beat unbeaten Notre Dame in 1971, and the team never lost again, completing the “all-time best” 1972 national championship.

Images of six USC players who became Christian ministers. Croom and Mitchell insist that if Bryant was racist before 1970, his heart, like that of the South, softened. His friendship with McKay, a Southern man himself who also had a change of heart over the years, created the conditions to allow this game to be played, and therefore change the nature of society through athletics.

End credits roll over images of Martin Luther King saying, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord and the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” plays.

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

AMAZON.COM REVIEWS

 

OUR CAMPUSES IN CONTEXT, June 14, 2004

Long before the battles between the Randians, Goldwaterites and Rockefeller wing of the GOP; before the Reagan Revolution and the Contract with America, even before Whittaker Chambers' "Witness", there was young Bill Buckley, Russell Kirk and a few little-known economists preaching conservatism. Lost in the McCarthy rhetoric, the underpinnings of conservatism were drowned out, but Buckley was and continues to be a voice that gives it reason.

The prescience of this book is in its dissection of liberalism on college campuses, and centers on the modernist swing away from God and towards Man. Buckley's best argument throughout the work might be called the "marketplace of ideas," which today conservatives are winning. He points out the political views of many of the families who send their kids to college, particularly Yale. Most of the parents are found to disagree with the new Leftist stridency of Yale and other colleges, but the parents have little if any choice in the matter of getting their children educated within a more balanced environment. This situation has not gotten better over the years. Reading "God and Man At Yale" teaches us that campus radicalism did not begin during the Vietnam War.

 

Getting It Right: A Novel by William F. Buckley

 

READ AS PART OF A THREE-PART PROCESS, June 14, 2004

Bill Buckley is a giant of intellect and a hero of the conservative movement. This novel details influential times in his life. It is well written and, if one is politically savvy, enjoyable, but not a masterpiece. My opinion is that this book should be viewed as part of a three-setp process, which involves Ayn Rand.

Buckley was influenced by Rand and this book details the struggle in the early 1960s between the Randian, Goldwater and Rockefeller wings of the pre-Vietnam Republican party.

My suggestion is to read this book, then watch Rand's "The Fountainhead" on video, then read Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" (all 1168 pages). Then you should get the overall context.

 

A Charge to Keep : My Journey to the White House by George W. Bush, Mickey Herskowitz

BUSH IS AN UNDERRATED TOP GUN FIGHTER JOCK, June 14, 2004

I finally read this book, and did so in light of the mounting criticism of Bush as "dumb," along with attempts to discredit his military career. My sense at this point is to look at the available empirical evidence. George W. Bush was admitted to Yale and graduated in four years. He was a legacy, so getting in was assured, but many students do not graduate in four years, as he did. This is to his credit. His grades have not been released, but most of those who were there say he was about a B- student, which is quite respectable.

Next, he entered the U.S. Air Force, their version of the Reserves, which in his case was the Texas Air Guard. Perhaps he received some favoritism over others in getting a slot, but the evidence is he did not. The fact is, he was willing to "go jets," which few were willing or qualified to try out for. Bush went through a series of rigorous tests and passed them. He entered flight school, where the "wash out" rate is about 80 percent. He passed. He entered flight test, where the wash out rate is quite high. He passed. He qualified and flew jets. Here is the thing: People make movies and write books about this experience. "The Right Stuff", "Top Gun", "An Officer and a Gentleman" are all about exceptional young men who walk this trial by fire. Bush is one of them. He is a Top Gun - no, not the actual guys who are selected for Miramar by the Navy, not a Blue Angel, not Chuck Yeager, but he is one of an elite group of awesome Americans.

When Fleet Week comes around, and I see these pilots walking around town, my first reaction is that by virtue of having those wings they are top flight individuals, outstanding people. I do not ask whether they flew in combat or missed some drills. I know if they are wearing that uniform and have those wings they are studs. Bush was one of those men.

Apparently Bush missed a few drills in 1973 after five years in the Air Force. I was in the Reserves and missed some drills. Everybody misses drill occasionally, for a million valid reasons, none of which means we were AWOL. Bush was never AWOL.

One other thing. Bush never flew in Vietnam, but I bet he is glad of this. Had he, no doubt his detractors would say he dropped napalm on villages and killed civilians.

Bush applied to the University of Texas Law School and was turned down. So much for having every door opened to him because of his "daddy," who had been a Texas Congressman and two-time Texas Senate candidate. Bush applied to the Harvard Business School. Guess the percentage of people who are not accepted. 80 percent? 90? Point made.

Bush was accepted. He was not a Harvard legacy. It would appear he got in on merit, being a Yale grad of good grades and a fighter pilot. Their conclusion: This guy has an impressive background. He studied the courses, and graduated with an MBA. How many enter the MBA program and wash out? Many do.

Accordingly to the not-Republican Atlantic Monthly, Bush has never lost a political debate. He has squared off with some tough characters, like Ann Richards and Al Gore.

Dumb? This issue has has been studied and analyzed. The conclusion? Bush is no dummy.

 

Dirty Harry DVD

 

'GOD'S LONELY MAN.", June 14, 2004

John Milius is the greatest screenwriter you never heard of, not to mention a terrific director. He describes the "Dirty Harry" Callahan character as "God's lonely man." Milius is that rarest of rarities, a Hollywood conservative. He herein wrote a film for the Republican Clint Eastwood that spoke to the hopes and fears of an America yearning for justice, law'n'order in a world dominated by overarching liberalism in the 1960s and '70s.

Picture America at that time: Vietnam, the streets and campuses exploding in riot, and a new social ethos that was willing to blame a racist white establishment for the crimes of this nation's increasing population of criminals.

In the 1960s, the Supreme Court became activist to the hilt. The most obvious of these cases was the famous Miranda ruling from Arizona, in which a criminal was allowed to go free because he had not understood his rights, not understanding the English language spoken by the arresting officer. His subsequent confessions were thrown out. The Court spoke of the "forbiddeen fruit" of evidence gathered by overzealous officers who "failed" to inform criminals that they were being searched just before they discovered their weapons, their drugs, their evidence. A police officer who found evidence of crimes was unable to make the case unless he had probable cause ahead of time to find the evidence.

In "Dirty Harry", a character (Andy Robinson) based on the never-caught Zodiak killer who terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area at that time, goes on a murder rampage. Eastwood catches him at Kezar Stadoium. A little girl is lying in a hole some place. She has a limited amount of air left. Eastwood knows the guy did it. We know it. God knows it. The scene is worth watching in light of Abu Ghraib and the concept of the "ticking time bomb" theory of interrogation that the terror era has brought upon us.

Eastwood knows that if the man is arrested and booked, he will not talk, hiding behind a lawyer, and that the girl will suffocate. He applies a little bit of torture to Robinson, the Scorpio killer. What he wants is to know where the little girl is, so she can be saved. Scorpio wines about having rights and wanting a lawyer. Eastwood extracts the information from him. The girl, however, has died before she can be found by the cops.

Eastwood is confronted by the D.A., who tells him not only that the killer had rights, but that he will walk as soon as he is healthy, and he has brought in a Berkeley professor to detail to Clint how he violated the criminal's rights and, in essence, is worse than the Scorpio killer.

The end? We've all seen it a million times on TBS's "Movies For Guys Who Like Movies." Eastwood gets his man. He receives zero gratitude from the authorities. Millions of ordinary American citizens appreciated him in theatres and TVs since then, however.

 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

BRILLIANT BUT SLIGHTLY DISTURBED, June 14, 2004

In American literature, there are two distinct "schools" that emerged from the Lost Generation of ex-patriates who lived in Paris after World War I. These are the Hemingway and Fitzgerald wings of political novelization.

Fitzgerald was a member of the East Coast elite, the Ivy Leaguers of the Hamptons known as the "idle rich." Hemingway represents a more red-blooded Midwesternism, tempered by the war and it phyical and mental horrors.

"The Great Gatsby" describes a con man from the lower classes of Middle America who remakes himself. He achieves fabulous wealth in the heady early days of the Roaring 20s, at time when the stock market was unregulated by the SEC and such things could be accomplished. In the manner of the Count of Monte Cristo, he makes a fantastic splash on High Society, a nouveau riche pretty boy, supposedly an officer in the Army during the Great War, who owns a huge Long Island mansion and holds enormous Summer parties.

The book centers on the angst of the idle rich, the love affairs of the morally ambiguous, people who must look for newer and more outrageous ways to tickle their fancies. Naturally, Gatsby's attractiveness among the gorgeous socialite women of the Hamptons stirs resentment among the old school boys, who question his validity.

Fitzgerald here describes a world from the standpoint of guilt; guilt at being rich. He paints a picture of people who have money without having earned it, who are not worthy of it in the entrepreneurial sense. This is an elite, liberal view - the opposite of the more hard-scrabble Hemingway world.

Political views aside, Fitzgerald is a fabulous writer who lends a distinct voice to the American literary scene. This is the proverbial Great American Novel.

 

The Great Escape

MAN'S TIMELESS YEARNING FOR FREEDOM, June 12, 2004

This may be the greatest tribute to man's yearning to be free ever portrayed on the cinema.

 

King Lear by R.A. Foakes

 

SHOULD BE REQUIRED READING IN WASHINGTON AND U.N., June 12, 2004

This is timeless Shakespearean drama, about a King and his three daughters, wrapped around corruption, betrayal and tragedy. It speaks to the power and pressure of leadership, and modern politicians would well to heed its valuable lessons.

 

OLD MAN AND THE SEA by Ernest Hemingway

 

THE SHARK IS A METAPHOR FOR LIFE

This is a short book Ernest Hemingway wrote late in his life, during his Cuban years. The fisherman's struggle to bring his greatest catch ever, the shark, in from the sea while it is slowly and painfully bitten and chewed up by the other fish along the way is the metaphor for life's struggles. Every unknown man, trying to achieve something in anonymopus splendor, can relate to it. It also revived Hemingway as a great writer after a few lean years.

 

Animal Farm by George Orwell

ORWELL'S PARODY OF COMMUNISM IS TREMENDOUS

George Orwell was a Socialist who came to see, in the years after Joe Stalin's crimes were known, that Communism was the new evil replacing Naziism in this world of ours. His story of animals, re-creating the Russian Revolution, sounds ridiculous until you read it. Read it! Then read it again. There are lessons in this book that are divinely inspired.

 

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

COURAGEOUS AND BEAUTIFUL

 

For a book like this to have been written when it was, about and in the place it was, by a person of that timew and place, is nothing less than courageous. Harper Lee's beautiful story of redemption, love and humanity pre-cursors the works of Martin Luther King, and can be called one of the early, great influences that inspired the long-denied civil rights of African-Americans. Fantastic. As a writer, I am in awe of this kind of work, and acknowledge that I can read it, I can admire it, but I can never duplicate it.

 

The Grapes of Wrath: John Steinbeck by John Steinbeck

THIS IS WRITING AT ITS BEST, June 12, 2004

There is no denying John Steinbeck's brilliance. I feel that his best work is "East of Eden", but "The Grapes of Wrath" is a monumental work, probably the one that captures his political sensibilities and the times he wrote about better than any. "Grapes" has character development, pathos, irony and social commentary, all biting, poignant and loving at the same time. Its political message is Socialist. The problem with this is that it offers great misery, packaged in the plight of the Joad family and Okies headed to California during the Dust Bowl '30s, but it does not offer solutions. Business owners, capitalists, policemen and authority figures are fairly evenly displayed as unfeeling, selfish, sometimes racist, and mean.

What Steinbeck chose not to do was to see the 1930s from their standpoint. The message would seem to indicate that he advocated that the government just handle all the Okies' problems, but this creates some problems. First, the FDR Administration did more in this regard than any previous government, or any since, possibly. With this in mind, then the question devolves into the conclusion that government intervention is not the answer.

The question I kept asking was, Why do roadside business owners or cops or others barely struggling during terrible times owe something to these Okies? From the Christian standpoint, they do. But the Okies had no job skills. They offered little. They were not marketable. They were willing to work, but they could not do anything other than manual labor.

It is easy to criticize them for coming to California where there were more people than jobs, but they apparently were coerced into it by misleading flyers advertising fruit waiting to be picked and jobs aplenty.

In the light of historical retrospect, the unsaid message of this book at its time was that the people described would be "saved" if they lived in Communism. Those who flirted with Communism in America in the 1930s can be excused, considering the times. But Steinbeck was an educated man, and by the time he finished this book, the basic facts about Stalin's Russia were known. Russia was in shambles, millions had already been murdered, starved and imprisoned. It was hell on Earth. Steinbeck had to know, if not every gory detail, enough to establish the fact that Communism was utterly evil.

This left him, it seems, between a rock and a hard place, which was the big problem for all the Communists and fellow travelers in the West. The Utopian ideal does not adhere to reality. In the end, "Grapes" describes misery and plays to guilt, a powerful strategy.

What history tells us is that the "answer" to the Okies' predicament, while not perfect, while not timely, was in the end the fact that they lived in America, which to paraphrase Chuirchill is "the worst country known to man with the exception of all other countries known to man."

To live in America offered more hope and more chance of success to these people than all other Earthly possibility. Steinbeck does not portray that. He does not necessarily deserve to be excoriated for it; it would require perhaps more vision than he had in light of his publication and probable editorial time constraints. However, travel the California landscape today and one will find the children and grandchildren of these Okies, and they will mainly tell you stories of struggle that ended in various forms of happiness and success for the ancestors of the Okies.

Despite any political differences, Steinbeck is a writer of such talent and inner greatness that it cannot be denied.

 

Ulysses (Vintage International) by James Joyce

TAKES MORE SMARTS THAN I HAVE, June 12, 2004

I made the decision that I was an educated person. As such, in order to be well read, there were certain books I needed to read. One of them is "Ulysses". I struggled. It was almost beyond my ken. My feeling is it can be read and understood as part of a class, in which the reader takes notes and periodically discusses it with an expert. As far as "pleasure reading," I leave it to smarter people than me.

 

At the Plate with...Sammy Sosa (Matt Christopher Sports Biographies) by Matt Christopher

This is a fun book that looks at a great superstar whose legacy will get better over time.

 

Barry Bonds: Record Breaker (Sports Achievers Biographies) by Jeff Savage

I ENJOYED THIS BOOK, June 12, 2004

I enjoyed reading this book and recommend it to others.

 

NEEDS TO BE STUDIED, NOT READ, June 12, 2004

I made the decision that I was an educated person. As such, in order to be well read, there were certain books I needed to read. One of them is "The Illiad". I tried to do it. It is a long poem about the Trojan wars. I could not do it. It was beyond my ken. My feeling is it can be read and understood as part of a class, in which the reader takes notes and periodically discusses it with an expert. As far as "pleasure reading," I leave it to smarter people than me. For me, I had to settle for the Brad Pitt version on the big screen, which I found to be a great USC recruiting film.

 

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

POLITICALLY INFLUENTIAL, June 12, 2004

Like "Atlas Shrugged" a century later, "The Brothers Karamazov" is not only a great novel that delves deep into the human psyche and the Russian soul, but it has been studied by political scholars. Dostoevsky came from an aristocratic family and served in the military, but gave up all that this promised him in the post-Napoleonic years to write full time.

The most telling section in "Brothers", in my view, is the conversation between Christ and the old priest during the Spanish Inquisition. This is very telling as it pertains to the "new" view of the Catholic church, a fallout of reformation, the Inquisition, and a re-thinking of Christianity. My feeling is that Islam would be well served and possibly saved if a modern Dostoevsky woulde emerge from its ranks.

When Christ forgives the evil old priest, a Satanic figure really, this is as true a view of real Christianity as any. The pomp and circumstance of Catholicism, the tortures and abuses, fade away in the blinding light of Christ's foregiveness and love. Bravo.

 

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

LIKE BEING IN A TIME CAPSULE, June 12, 2004

"DON QUIXOTE" HAS BEEN CALLED THE FIRST NOVEL EVER WRITTEN AND THE BEST NOVEL EVER WRITTEN. MANY OF THE LEADING LITERARY FIGURES OF THE PAST CENTURY MAKE THE POINT OF READING IT EVERY YEAR. IT IS A LONG BOOK BUT WORTH IT, A JOY EACH EVENING. IT IS NOT ALWAYS EASY READING. ANYTHING THAT OLD IS GOING TO HAVE ITS PATCHES, BUT THE STORY IS LYRICAL, SWEET, BRAVE, COURAGEOUS, IRONIC AND MANY OTHER THINGS.

READING CERVANTES IS LIKE GOING BACK IN TIME. IT IS A WINDOW INTO EUROPE AROUND 1600. CERVANTES WAS A MILITARY MAN AND FAILED WRITER UNTIL "DON QUIXOTE'S" PUBLICATION AND THE SUCCESS OF SOME OF HIS STAGEPLAYS BROUGHT HIM FAME AND FORTUNE THE LAST COUPLE YEARS OF HIS LIFE. HIS BACKGROUND AND INSIGHT REMINDS ME SOMEWHAT OF DOSTOEVSKY.

"QUIXOTE" IS FILLED WITH CHRISTIAN REFERENCE. THE CATHOLICISM OF SPAIN WAS THE OVERRIDING THEME OF THAT COUTRY AND THAT TIME. THERE ARE ALSO SEMI-RACIST REFERENCES TO ARABS AS UNCLEAN, TELLING IN LIGHT OF MOORISH INVASIONS AND OCUPATION STILL FRESH IN THE SPANISH MINDSET.

OF COURSE, THE STORY IS PROPELLED BY THE ODD PARTNERING OF QUIXOTE AND SANCHO, WHICH COULD BE THE BEGINNING OF THE MODERN "BUDDY STORY," AND OF COURSE THE ROMANTIC WANDERINGS OF QUIXOTE FOR DULCINEA. IT HAS EVEN BEEN SAID THAT "DON QUIXOTE" PLAYED A FACTOR IN GEORGE PATTON'S PLANS FOR THE INVASION OF SICILY, SINCE HE WAS CALLED A 17TH CENTURY MAN WHO LIVED HIS OWN LIFE AS A QUIXOTE-TYPE FUGURE.

 

The Wrong Stuff by Billy Lee, Dick Lally

I KNEW BILL LEE. BILL LEE IS A FRIEND OF MINE..., June 11, 2004

To any modern athlete who thinks of himself as an iconoclast, a funnyman, an intellectual, a wit - whether it be Jason Williams, Barry Zito, Michael Irvin, Charles Barkley, you name it, I say that I knew Bill Lee. I worked with Bill Lee. Bill Lee is a friend of mine, and you are no Bill Lee. This is no put down of those who are not the Spaceman. It is an ode to Lee. I love this character.

This is as funny a book as has ever been written about baseball. It is so unique, so California New Age, so filled with Boston baseball lore and Ruthian curse that reading it is just one big pleasure cruise. Lee is in the tradition of Casey Stengel and Rod Dedeaux, whose lineage he follows.

Lee's aunt was the main character described in "A League of Their Own". This is a guy surrounded by men's men growing up (his old man, his Uncle Grover), yet it is his aunt who taught him how to pitch. Amazingly, I know most of Bill's family, and they are Ed McMahon to Bill's Carson. His father was a straight arrow phone company exec. His aunt just smiles at Bill's buffoonery. She pitched a perfect game in the women's pro league on June 6, 1944 and, when asked if events of that day distracted her, she just said she had the ability to focus.

Recently Spaceman told an audience that "I don't believe in killing anybody, but the Unabomber had some good ideas." Like Hunter Thompson, here is a guy whose politics are the polar opposite of mine, yet I just dig the man.

If you grew up in the San Fernando Valley or Marin County, went to USC (particularly when Dedeaux coached there), or matriculated at Fenway Park, this book will tickle your jones for those memories. Lee is the closest guy I can think of (outside of George Patton) to making me think reincarnation is possible. I see him as a court jester of Camelot, always funny, always taking the minority view and making you shake your head - and smile.

I once had Bill as a guest at my home. At 6 A.M. I went to wake him, and he was gone. I looked out my window and Space was doing Tai-Kwan do with my 119-year old Chinese neighbor, a guy who probably was the emperor's body guard in 1880. I took Space to work. At a law office, I was in conference when the secretary came in yelling to "call 911. A guy's having a heart attack in the parking lot." I looked out the window. Space was doing his afternoon Tai-kwan do. I asked Space to meet me and my SC baseball buddies at the 501 Club in L.A. that night. The guys were all there, skeptical that Space would show. He showed and drank beer with us all night, filling us with stories. When a Doors song came on the juke Space announced, "My brother got stabbed at a Doors concert once." Survived. Space made nice-nice with an SC cutie, regaling her with stories about the 1968 College World Series vs. the Southern Illinois Salukis. Only Space could have captured some chick's attention with memories of the Southern Illinois Salukis. You had to be there.

Space spoke to the Orange County Young Republicans when he was running for President on Canada's Rhino ticket in 1988. The YRs were aghast at Space filling their precious speaker's rostrum until he took stage and had these buttoned-down types - and I do not exaggerate here - literally rolling in the aisles with laughter. Space in front of a crowd is up there with Carlin or Robin Williams.

These anecdotes are a typical example of what is in his autobiography. Not everybody can have the experience of spending time with Lee, but you all can get the next best thing, which is reading this book.

 

Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail by Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

MAYBE THE BEST POLITICAL BOOK EVER WRITTEN, June 11, 2004

Hunter Thompson would despise me. I am a conservative Reaganite. I thought Dick Nixon a brilliant President. I think the Lord Jesus Christ saves my soul. Whereas I despise Michael Moore and do not think he speaks the truth, I admire Hunter Thompson, who is probably a lot closer to Moore's politics than mine. It is not just the passage of time that heals divisions, it is more than that. If I were to analyze Hunter's political nostrums, I would probably find much that I know to be wrong, and that Hunter had enough education and knowledge available to him to know it was wrong but he wrote it anyway. Still, whatever visceral reaction I have to Moore I do not have for Hunter.

I guess humnor must be why. Hunter is absolutely inconoclastic. He is side-splitting. He never smiles, and his writing has no funniness in it. I picture him writing out of dread and hate, yet it magically transforms itself into laughs when my eyes meet his words and transfer to my brain. Forgive my bad attempt to get into his head and "explain" Hunter. It's all I can do to try.

This book is phenomenal. It contains events that are different from any descriptions ever. Others have novelized reality, but nobody splits the difference like Hunter. Hunter's supposed on-scene reportage of Edmund Muskie coming unglued in the New Hampshire snow, Frank Mankiewiczs' furious (drug induced?) ramblings, the one-on-one with Nixon himelf, leaves the reader exhausted in an effort to separate reality from fantasy. Hunter is like the great con man who uses Truth to augment his lies. This is not calling Hunter a liar, it is just an example. The fact that I don't see this as lies is telling, and separates Hunter and his times from the current political climate, in which his spawn, if you will, the likes of Moore and Al Franken, try to make Hunteresque points but leave themselves exposed as obfuscators instead. The answer is that Thompson is just so much better than almost all other writers that he cannot be duplicated or even imitated. To try is pointless. Many, inclduing myself, have tried to be the "next Jim Murray," but like Murray nobody can be Hunter, either.

 

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas : A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream by HUNTER S. THOMPSON, Ralph Steadman

OPPOSITES ATTRACT, June 11, 2004

The beauty of a free country and free artistic expression is that it allows polar opposites to find themselves. Bill "Spaceman" Lee once told a conservative political audience that "I'm so conservative I eat road kill" and "I'm so conservative I'm standing back-to-back with Chairman Mao." Funny? Doesn't seem that way, but you never heard such laughter as responded to Lee's delivery. The same goes for my love affair with the writing of Hunter S. Thompson. You could walk the fruited plain from California to the New York Island and not find somebody more different from Thompson than me. Thompson would read my opinions and pronounce that I am an "enemy of the people." If I spent a weekend at his cabin in Woody Creek, however, we'd find common ground. I'm an absolute Reagan conservative, a total Christian, a flag-waving American patriot, an admirer of the military (particularly George Patton), a devotee of law'n'order...and a giant fan of Jim Morrison and Thompson!

"Fear and Loathing" is so brilliant, so funny, so biting in its commentary, so revolutionary that I cannot do it justice herein. Thompson is just plain awesome. An insane writer, in the admirable as well as the literal sense.

How to describe this book? "The '60s meets the John Birch Society"? "The American Dream meets the American nightmare"? I don't have it in me to analyze Hunter. He's too good, too out there. Just admiration, that's all I have left for him. The only thing left is mystique, because Thompson, despite years of stories and in-depth analyses, is still very much unknown. Can he be the guy he describes and survive? The truth, or the Truth as Hunter might call it, is that he probably is putting on a little act, but it is just questionable enough to leave doubt, or Doubt!

I think Thompson is what Michael Moore wishes he was.

 

Men at Work : The Craft of Baseball by George F. Will

GEORGE HITS A HOMER, June 11, 2004

"Men At Work" is a great, great baseball book. Is it as good as "The Summer Game", "Five Seasons", "A False Spring"? Interestingly, it is and it isn't. Technically it is. It contains superb reportage and loving writing about a game George Will adores. But the there is a technology to Will's writing, a one-two-three, a but-for premise that borders on lawyering, advocacy. I love it, yes, but I have to rate this just below the pure romance of Roger Angell or the raunchy, man's-man baseball-as-life stories that infuses Pat Jordan's work. Will has written here a book that precursors "Moneyball". It describes the new age of baseball, an age of computers and preparation that replaces the Joe Schultz "Let's beat 'em, then pound some Budweiser" era described by Jim Bouton's "Ball Four".

 

Five Seasons: A Baseball Companion by Roger Angell

JUST AS GOOD AS "SUMMER GAME", BUT TIME CHANGES PERCEPTION, June 11, 2004

"Five Seasons" is just as good as "The Summer Game", but my personal perceptions, part of maturation, changed my perception of the book. Roger Angell's first work covered events before I was aware of them and then those that occurred in my most formative, fanatical, baseball-crazy years. "Five Seasons" describes years in which I was still a huge baseball fan (I always have been and always will be), but they are all events I witnesed. For this reason, and because as I grew older my interests - girls, cars, awareness, life - changed, so too does my impression of Angell's writing. Do not take this as any kind of put down. To a younger reader who did not witness the events in "Five Seasons", I assure you that Angell's writing can fill you with wonder as much as "The Summer Game" did for me. It has been said, and I agree here, that baseball is the preferred game of intellectuals, or at least educated people. Nobody embodies this reality better than Angell and his writings.

 

The Summer Game (Bison Book) by Roger Angell

YES, HE IS THE POET LAUREATE OF BASEBALL, June 11, 2004

There are some great baseball writers. Roger Kahn and Pat Jordan come to mind. Roger Angell is the very best of them all. This book is as much a part of my youth as family vacations. I have read this book numerous times, often just picking up random pages and reading for hours until sleep overtook me. There is something about New York City, the 1950s, and the Brooklyn Dodgers that contributed to the axiom that the best sportswriting is baseball writing. Angell is it, in its purest form. Jaques Barzun, a French writer, visited America around the turn of the century to discover what de Toqueville had found some 70 years earlier. Barzun concluded that, "In order to know America, you have to know baseball." To a current generation of young baseball enthusisasts who want to grasp what an older generation felt about this game, I recommend "The Summer Game" above all others. "Five Seasons" might be next, but "The Summer Game" is the best of the lot. It carries forward from Angell's 1950s experiences, and is part of his reportage for The New Yorker. Somehow he infuses the high art literacy necessary for a publication of this sort with the most lyrical, dead-on anlaysis of baseball ever. He starts with the 1962 Mets, and covers them over several Casey Stengel Polo Grounds seasons. No description ever conveys the wackiness of those lovable losers better, or the old-style devotion of New York fans of the by-gone era. This is the Brooklyn Dodger contingent transferred to Polo and Shea. Angell covers the '67 Red Sox, the '68 World Series (McClain vs Gibson overshadowed by Lolich), the Amazin' Mets, the Bay Area in their season of two division champs (1971), and other events, always including the World Series' played between '62 and '71. His writing about Dodger Stadium and Dodger fans in 1966 demonstrates the best of the "new age" Los Angeleno baseball enthusiasts, the modernists if you will. It describes vividly how an era has turned. He paints a picture of a beautiful new stadium bathed in Califrnia sunlight that is pure romanticism. To a young California reader, as I once was, it was the most perfect imagery.

 

Caesar by Colleen McCullough

HISTORY DOES NOT REPEAT, IT RHYMES, June 11, 2004

This is a novel, written in the syle of Bill Safire's "Freedom". It allows Colleen McCullough the opportunity to make history come alive. For me, the Italian and Latin names were hard to keep up with, especially since people often were referred to using their full names and titles. The use of maps of the time are fascinating. It is definitely about warfare and reminds one of the truism that "war is politics by another means." What is most effective about this book is that in reading it, I was struck by the fact that I could have been reading about the Civil War, World War I, Churchill's writings about "The Gathering Storm", or even the Middle East. The Roman Empire lasted for multiple centuries, but it took on many faces. It was not always totalitarian, dictatorial, and cruel. Caesar's time was a time of intrigue. This story describes the desperate struggle of politicians and militarists trying to find out about themselves, asking of their civilization whether they were overwhelming armies, a republic, following in the Platonic tradition, or a little bit of all the above. Outstanding.

 

The Catcher Was a Spy: The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg by N. Dawidoff

A REAL-LIFE JOHN LE CARRE CHARACTER, June 11, 2004

Moe Berg is truly one of the most interesting, and enigmatic, characters in sports history. What always fascinated me was how, after WWII and no longer in baseball, Berg never worked. He would stay at friends and relatives' homes throughout the country, reading multiple newspapers, and maintaining strict control of those papers. My guess, and this would make for an interesting investigative study, is that he stayed on the OSS/CIA payroll and was working for them, in some capacity: Dissecting the news, dealing with Communist espionage - or who knows, maybe he was working with foreign elemnets. Berg was something. He has to be considered a major hero. Surely the fact that he was an ex-ballplayer makes him stand out from the other heroes under "Wild Bill" Donovan, as does the fact that a Jew was sent to Nazi-controlled Finland to get German scientists. This is a terrific story. (...)

 

A false spring by Pat Jordan

HE PLAYED THE GAME, June 10, 2004

Those of us who are profesional sportswriters spend a lot of time in press boxes with other writers who criticize what they see on the field, but either never played the game or never played it well. "The Suitors of Spring" is brilliantly written by Pat Jordan, who did play the game. It also brings to mind some of the best sports books ever. "Ball Four's" Jim Bouton played the game. "North Dallas Forty's" Peter Gent played the game.

Having stood on the mound, facing down a hitter with the bases loaded, the crowd yelling, the opposition hurling insults, your future on the line and the hair standing up on the back of his neck, is an experience known by few. Jordan knows it.

Here he writes about pitchers, his specialty. He writes about superstars like Tom Seaver, playboys like Bo Belinsky, hardthrowing drunks like Steve Dalkowski, 6-6 lefties who never lived up their potential, like Sam McDowell, and prep phenoms from his home state of Connecticut who met the same fate as the author.

Jordan's talent is not one that can be learned in a literary class. He is of the school of hard knoocks, rough hewn, real, human. Bravo, Pat.

 

A false spring by Pat Jordan

ONE OF THE GREATEST SPORTS BOOK OF ALL TIME, June 10, 2004

"A False Spring" is so good I cannot do it justice here. It is, along with "Ball Four", "The Suitors of Spring" (also by Pat Jordan) and "Bo: Pitching and Wooing" by Maury Allen, one of the best baseball books ever written. This book describes minor league baseball, the hopes and dreams of a young athlete, youthful sex, raunchiness, crushing disappointment, and Americana. I read this book and memorized it, then went off to play minor league ball myself and totally lived all of it. My experiences in the Cardinal and A's organization did not resemble Jordan's, they rhymed. This book tells the story of thousands of young hopefuls who live amongst us, and many more of us can relate to it than can relate to the superhuman life and accomplishments of Barry Bonds.

 

IT TAKES A VILLAGE by Hillary Rodham Clinton

SOCIALISM?, June 10, 2004

The title of this book comes from an African proverb. It is based on the theory that a child is best raised by a caring community. Within its pages are many well-intentioned statements that advocate the beauty of a world in which children are provided all that they need - education, health care, love and caring. To discredit it requires generalizing, which is never a good idea (but sometimes impossible to avoid), and to "put down" the idea that providing for kids is a good thing. Of course it is a good thing.

The problem starts with Hillary Clinton, who speaks often about "the children." An overall assessment of Hillary - her background, her marriage and partnership with Bill Clinton, Hillarycare, the accusations against her and the inside stories of those who knew her best in Little Rock and D.C., are that her real desire is not to further the betterment of kids, but of her hold on power in America. She uses kids as a smokescreen in this effort. There is no arguing some of the things she advocates are good ideas, and so judging her and this book requires a Kabuki dance between truth and politics. This is what obfuscators are good at creating.

There is a conservative opposition to Hillary's book, some of whom call it "It Takes A Village Idiot", which is based on the idea that raising kids is the job of parents, not the state. This is of course correct, but again requires generalizing. To advocate it blindly discredits the role of teachers, Foster parents, neighbors and social workers. Sometimes there are no biological parents around. The health care issue is a big one, and is easy to jump on. It sounds good, of course, to say that all kids should have health care. We live in a country in which they all do not. However, the Canadian-style Hillarycare that was so roundly defeated a decade ago is not the answer. It was explored inside and out at the time and found to be totally lacking as practical application.

What we are left after Hillarycare is just Hillary. She is smart and knows how to pull our heartstrings. Watch out for her.(...)

 

Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit by Albert Gore, Al Gore

SEEMS SHAKY, June 10, 2004

As a lay person, like most, I have no real idea whether global warming is real, or at least a real threat. The problem I have is that those who say it is a real threat are not believable to me. They may be right, but I reserve all possibility that they are totally off the mark. It seems that this issue has been coopted by a certain segment of the political class, and is used not in an effort to further real science, but to further their political agenda. This is somewhat, if not totally, socialist in nature.

Al Gore spoke about global warming on the coldest day in New York City in 150 years, then endorsed "The Day After Tomorrow" as a big movie about global warming that has to be seen. It was so bad, got such terrible reviews, and was so universally panned as lies that it cannot be described herein. Gore has now taken to podiums, changing his voice to sound like Huey Long or George Wallace or some such Southern populist, rolling his r's, leavin' the "n's" off his words, and every time he makes these speeches those he opposes rise in the polls. Al said he "had" to be President, and now he just seems unable to accept his fate. Unfortunately, his association with global warming seems to discredit it. "The Day After Tomorrow" certainly did the issue no good.

There are so-called "right wing" scientists who oppose the global warming threat, calling it "junk science." They may have a political agenda. They may be wrong. Personally, I think they are less likely to be wrong than the Leftists. I could be wrong, but that is just my opinion.

The problem is that this issue has become so political that, until something really verifiable comes along, it is just a tug-of-war with no real truth attached to it.

 

Joined at the Heart : The Transformation of the American Family by Tipper Gore, Al Gore

GORE'S LEGACY, June 10, 2004

Al Gore is a good man. Al Gore is an honest man. This may have been his problem. As an honest man, he found himelf at odds with the Clintons. Try as he might, he is linked to them, and this is the nexus of his demise. Whereas Clinton enjoyed popularity without coattails, Gore lacked the popularity and the coattails. Everything the Clinton/Gore team has touched since November, 2000 has been hurt by association with them. Gore lost the election. Joe Lieberman, his V.P., found his honesty drowned out in a sea of misinformation. Hillary tried to speak to firefighters and was bood off the stage after 9/11. Gore's book did poorly. Clinton/Gore campaigned for Democrats in 2002 and they were swamped. Clinton campaigned for Gray Davis in 2003 and he was beaten back. Gore spoke about global warming on the coldest day in New York City in 150 years, then endorsed "The Day After Tomorrow" as a big movie about global warming that has to be seen. It was so bad, got such terrible reviews, and was so universally panned as lies that it cannot be described herein. Gore has now taken to podiums, changing his voice to sound like Huey Long or George Wallace or some such Southern populist, rolling his r's, leavin' the "n's" off his words, and every time he makes these speaches those he opposes rise in the polls. Al said he "had" to be President, and now he just seems unable to accept his fate.

 

IS THIS TITLE NECESSARY?, June 10, 2004

I realize Al Franken is being humorous in calling Rush Limbaugh a big fat idiot, but the tone of it is telling. I think it speaks for itself. It seems to indicate that where substance is not in his favor, he will substitute it with put-downs. It gets laughs, I guess, but does not inform.

STEVEN TRAVERS

AUTHOR OF BARRY BONDS: BASEBALL'S SU[PERMAN"

STWRITES@AOL.COM

 

Bush at War by Bob Woodward

"BUSH...GREAT PRESIDENT." - BOB WOODWARD, June 8, 2004

"In 20 years, George W. Bush may be considered one of our greatest Presidents," author Bob Woodward told a book-signing audience in Thousand Oaks, California in May of 2004. The remarks were mentioned on several national talk shows. Woodward spells out in "Bush at War" why this is his opinion. Woodward is thought of as a liberal because of his Watergate background, but in reality he is a former Naval officer and Republican. For this reason, he is considered balanced and is respected. He had great access to Bush and like the embedded reporters who saw up close what great work the military actually did, Woodward reports that Bush was on top of his game. His remarks in Thousand Oaks reflect the view of many that, like Ronald Reagan's victory over Communism which was criticized at the time, Bush will achieve his lofty goals that take time to flower.

 

Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward

"BUSH...ONE OF OUR GREATEST PRESIDENTS..." - BOB WOODWARD, June 8, 2004

"In 20 years, George W. Bush may be considered one of our greatest Presidents," author Bob Woodward told a book-signing audience in Thousand Oaks, California in May of 2004. The remarks were mentioned on several national talk shows, and are an example of how "Plan of Attack" is not the attack of Bush's Iraq war plans that many hoped it would be, but rather is complimentary of Bush and his team. Woodward is thought of as a liberal because of his Watergate background, but in reality he is a former Naval officer and Republican. For this reason, he is considered balanced and is respected. He had great access to Bush throughout his Iraq lead-up, and like the embedded reporters who saw up close what great work the military actually did, Woodward reports that Bush was on top of his game. His remarks in Thousand Oaks reflect the view of many that, like Ronald Reagan's victory over Communism which was criticized at the time, Bush will achieve his lofty goals that take time to flower.

 

Where Have All Our Yankees Gone?: Past the Pinstripes by Brian Jensen, Mrs. Mickey Mantle

YANKEES ARE METAPHOR FOR AMERICA, June 7, 2004

The Yankees are a metaphor for America. They are the best of all time. People who do not like them feel that way just because they do not want one single team (or country) to be so much better than everybody else, which does not change the fact that they are. People who grow up in New York and still hate the Yankees are like liberals in America who still hate their country.

 

Plan of Attack by Bob Woodward

THIS BOOK BACKS THE BUSH PLAN IN IRAQ, June 7, 2004

When Bob Woodward's "Plan of Attack" came out, a lot of people automatically assumed that it would attack George Bush, which is the Democrats' strategy for 2004. A funny thing happened along the way. Woodward, despite his Watergate personna, was a Naval officer and Republican before "All the President's Men", and he does not feature the big-time lies of so much of the liberal media. This is actually why he is so respected. So Woodward embedded himself with the Bush team, and like the embedded reporters with troops in Iraq, he came to see that the work Bush did was good stuff. It is spelled out in this work, in which he had great access and, based on this, describes a cogent effort to change a dangerous world for the better. In 2020, the Left will all say they were with Bush, just like now they all say they were with Reagan when in fact they were working against America in the 1980s.

 

When I Was a Kid, This Was a Free Country by G. Gordon Liddy

DRIVING THE LEFT OUT OF THEIR MINDS, June 7, 2004

G. Gordon Liddy drives the liberals as batty as Rush, because he was an official Republican "bad guy," the man behind Watergate. So what does he do? He drives a fancy sports car with the license plates, "H20GATE." Liddy, like Oliver North, makes no effort to hide behind his official actions, and was elevated to high status by the opinion of millions of American citizens that what he did was actually good. In Liddy's case, people view Watergate as something Kennedy and Johnson had done, and in light if the "civil war" atmosphere in the streets, and the desire not to let the Kennedys steal another election, the break-in was almost justified.

Liddy plays to highly macho sensibilities, is extremely sexual, loves guns, has a Pattonesque view of warfare, and takes on a conspiratorial, partisan view of the Clintons. He is nobody's fool, speaking several languages, and his education is first rate. He also has his pet peeves, such as "prison guards," who he has low regard for because they were his overseers when he served time. (...)

 

The Hanoi Hilton VHS ~ Michael Moriarty

COMMUNISM WAS EVIL, EVIL, EVIL, June 7, 2004

One lonely conservative voice has been trying to shout out from the "wilderness" for years. Lionel Chetwynd is a writer/producer who made "The Hanoi Hilton", which actually described the North Vietnamese as the evil torturers they were. The "Hilton" was the moniker given the infamous prison camp where American POW's were kept while Jane Fonda was flirting with our enemies. Liberal film reviewers criticized it. Do not believe them. It is good stuff.

 

Thirteen Days (Infinifilm Edition) DVD ~ Kevin Costner

COMPARE THE CUBAN CRISIS WITH IRAN-CONTRA, June 7, 2004

"Thirteen Days" re-created the Cuban Missile Crisis, elevating the Kennedys to virtual sainthood while painting Curt LeMay as an advocate for nuclear holocaust. It was a fantastic picture, like many of them, but in it is an interesting scene in which Kenny O'Donnell, played by Kevin Costner, tells a Navy plot to lie to LeMay about being shot at, because LeMay would supposedly have ordered a strike if he had been. The film paints this lie as the right thing to do because it advocates the Kennedy's position, which was to maintain level heads and a calm demeanor. However, in 1987 Ollie North was excoriated by the Left for lying about the funding of anti-Communist guerrillas, which was Reagan's position. Funny about that.

 

Three Kings DVD ~ George Clooney

BACK HAND SWIPE AT BUSH 41, June 7, 2004

"Three Kings" starred the ultra-liberal George Clooney in a convoluted story of U.S. soldiers trying to get rich in war torn 1991 Iraq, possibly re-creating the theme of Clint Eastwood's 1970 film "Kelly's Heroes". "Kings" is not a highly political story, but leaves little doubt that it views the first President Bush's war in Iraq, particularly the Kurdish uprising that he encouraged and did not back, as a cynical American lie.

 

Wag the Dog - New Line Platinum Series DVD ~ Dustin Hoffman

CLINTON PARODY, June 7, 2004

"Wag the Dog" was straight out of the Clinton files. The President (partially shown, but apparently not resembling Clinton physically or politically) defiles a girl scout on a White House trip and it becomes public. In real life Clinton lobbed bombs at Iraq and Bosnia to get the story off page one. In the movie a Bob Evans-type movie producer (Dustin Hoffman) is asked to create fake footage of a war with Albania, in order to get the girl scout story off page one. Think of the personal characterictics of Ron Reagn, then the personal characteristics of Bill Clinton. Nuf sed.

 

Murder at 1600 DVD ~ Wesley Snipes

BILL CLINTON'S CRIMES?, June 7, 2004

"Murder at 1600" had me thinking that somebody read my screenplay, "A Murderous Campaign", used my idea but gave me no credit. Maybe. This plays on the public perception that Bill Clinton might just be a murderer. However, the President bears no resemblance to Clinton and the film does not take a partisan tone, although Alan Alda seems to be a caricatured right wing militarist.

 

Absolute Power DVD ~ Clint Eastwood

THIS TAKES A SWIPE AT CLINTON, June 7, 2004

"Absolute Power" had me thinking that somebody read my screenplay, "A Murderous Campaign", used my idea but gave me no credit. Maybe. "Absolute" is a Clint Eastwood picture, playing on the public perception that Bill Clinton might just be a murderer. However, the President bears no resemblance to Clinton.

 

The Contender DVD ~ Gary Oldman

"CONTENDER" TRIES TO PUT DOWN CLINTON INVESTIGATION, June 7, 2004

"The Contender" was made by a former West Point guy who is a liberal, a rarity in and of itself. It does not take a highly liberal position, but it is not conservative. The film's message is that the right's overarching investigations into Clinton's sex life were intrusive, although it does not examine the fact that his lies came under legal oath.

The V.P. dies and a woman Senator is nominated to replace him. A rumor circulates that while in college she was gangbanged by a fraternity. She refuses to answer the allegations. A conservative Senator (Gary Oldham, who is actually conservative and later expressed dismay at script changes to make conservatives look worse than originally planned), opposes her because of her alleged youthful promiscuity. He is also in league with another Senator who he wants to get the nod. The President (Jeff Bridges) sticks by the nominee and after a few twists and turns she gets in. The charges are never publicly refuted, which is the film's message. She reveals privately that the gangbang story was false, and the moral is that politician's personal lives are not open season for the press. This resonates to an extent, but the timing of the film, in light of the Clinton scandals, makes it obvious that the purpose is to dissuade the public that Clinton's immorality is our business.

 

American History X DVD ~ Edward Norton

POWERFUL MESSAGE, June 7, 2004

"American History X" may not have have accomplished what it set out to accomplish. The film centers on a white supremacist in the once-pleasant, now-crime stricken Los Angeles beach enclave of Venice. Edward Norton plays the racist, but the dialogue is sharp and intelligent. While there is no question that Norton is not in the right, and that his racial hatreds have taken him down a perilous personal path, he makes certain biting commentary about race and society that are entirely true and worth agreeing with. Whether the filmmakers wanted whites (and blacks) in the audience nodding in agreement with a guy they would like to show to be a monster is not known. He is charismatic, and intelligent enough to see the light after being stigmatized in prison. With the help of a black teacher, he turns his life around, but sees the damage he has caused to those around him. Heavy-handed political bias cannot be helped. Norton's sidekick is an utterly reprehensible, stupid white racist of the worst stereotype, who blathers about those who do not agree with him as "Democrats."

 

Dead Man Walking DVD ~ Susan Sarandon

ROBBINS, SARANDON AT THEIR BEST, June 7, 2004

Tim Robbins made another "political" film." "Dead Man Walking" stayed on an even keel. Starring Sean Penn in a bravura performance as a murderer getting ready for his execution, it takes a surprisingly Catholic point of view, in which Susan Sarandon plays a nun who makes him take responsibility for his actions, ostensibly to save his soul. It could be interpreted as being against the death penalty, but this is actually a stretch. This film is a good example of how much talent Robbins has and how, when he avoids major Left wing politics, he produyces some real genius.

 

Arlington Road DVD ~ Jeff Bridges

THOSE RIGHT WING WACKOS, June 7, 2004

After Tim McVeigh blew up the Oklahoma Federal Building, the Left went berserk, although their own Ted Kazcysnski (the Unabomber) beat them back. What has emerged in the years since is that if a real bad guy looks like McVeigh, he does the "perp walk" and is displayed for the cameras. If he is black, a black Muslim, or some such thing, he gets the hidden suspect treatment. "Arlington Road" is Robbins as a right-wing wacko who plans to blow up the government. The message is that the right in this country is dominated by white racists who think nothing of killing many, because they are Fascists. It is heavy-handed and compared with Truth fails miserably.

 

Bob Roberts DVD ~ Tim Robbins

PULLEASE, June 7, 2004

"Bob Roberts" was Tim Robbins first foray into political filmmaking. He draws on his family experience as traveling folk singers and fashions a story of a conservative, religious political candidate who sings family songs on the campaign trail. The film itself is good stuff, well acted and produced, but the message is clear: White conservative Christians are just frauds and cannot be trusted. One watches it and wonders what a truthful depiction of Jesse Jackson would look like. Or an inside look at Joseph P. Kennedy pulling the strings in Jack's Congressional and Senate campaigns? Or the inside deals that kept Teddy Kennedy in office after Mary Jo Kopechne was killed? How about Al Sharpton and the Tawana Brawley incident? "Bob Roberts" is one of those movies that you just watch and shake your head.

 

Striptease DVD ~ Demi Moore

NATURALLY BAD CONGRESSMAN WAS REPUBLICAN, June 7, 2004

"Strip Tease" was typical. In it, Burt Reynolds was depicted as so many Republican politicians are depicted: Stupid, immoral, greedy, corrupt?am I leaving anything out?

 

Saving Private Ryan (D-Day 60th Anniversary Commemorative Edition) DVD ~ Tom Hanks

THANK YOU, June 7, 2004

"Saving Private Ryan" was gold, Steven Spielberg's best work ever. Anybody who walks away from this 1998 account of America saving the world on D-Day, without a glowing respect for what we sacrificed, is an idiot or a "useful idiot."

 

Yeager: An Autobiography by Chuck Yeager

THE REAL DEAL, June 7, 2004

CHUK YEAGER IS A GENUINE AMERICAN HERO. NO QUESTION.

 

The Right Stuff by TOM WOLFE

WHOSE THE BEST WRITER I EVER READ? I'M REVIEWIN' HIM, BABY, June 7, 2004

"The Right Stuff" BY Tom Wolfe's book was a wonderful American story about the Mercury space program that told the tale of U.S. pilots just brimming with gusto, bravado and...the right stuff.

 

The Right Stuff (Two-Disc Special Edition) DVD ~ Sam Shepard

FABULOUS, June 7, 2004

"The Right Stuff", based on Tom Wolfe's book and directed by Phillip Kaufman, was a wonderful American story about the Mercury space program that told the tale of U.S. pilots just brimming with gusto, bravado and...the right stuff.

 

Apollo 13 DVD ~ Tom Hanks

I'M ROOTIN' FOR AMERICA!, June 7, 2004

"Apollo 13" (1995) was Ron Howard's excellent, patriotic re-enactment of the 1970 moonshot that went awry. The Soviets offered their assistance, but NASA said they would handle their own house, and they did. It is virtually impossible to conceive that any other country on Earth could have produced astronauts and ground crew that could have gotten that ship home safely. Howard makes a film that has you waving the flag when you walk out. At least you should.

 

Geronimo - An American Legend DVD ~ Jason Patric

AS FAIR AS HOLLYWOOD GETS, June 7, 2004

A fair look at the clash of white-Indian civilization was in John Milius' excellent "Geronimo", the story of the last Apache captured and brought in, bringing to an end the Indian Wars in 1890. Gene Hackman plays the officer charged with negotiating and capturing Geronimo. It fairly shows brave Indians, a well-meaning government, circumstances that were beyond control of the ability to foresee, white settlers whose ingenuity made use of the land that was previously unheard of, and how these events brought about bad feelings in the Indian community. The film is even without demonizing either side.

 

Dances with Wolves (Special Extended Edition) DVD ~ Kevin Costner

MYTHOLOGY, June 7, 2004

Indians are a favorite pet of the liberal establishment. "Dances With Wolves" is a fine movie. Most of them are. Nobody ever said these people are not brilliant. There is no real lie in "Dances" that I can see, but it does seem stylized. The Indians are pictured as peaceful, spiritual conservers of the land. Real-life Indians had every potential of being violent savages without anybody's prompting. Just ask the Mexicans who were systematically robbed by them every harvest until American mountain men with guns were recruited to provide a little security. The soldiers are dumbellionites, as are most of the whites that Kevin Costner "escapes" from in his effort to find the real West. While Indians certainly knew how to preserve the land, an act of necessity for them, they took plenty from it without replenishment. Whites stripped and mined the land, but they also came up with ingenious technologies that re-generated the land.

 

The American President DVD ~ Michael Douglas

B.S., June 7, 2004

You can search far and wide, and you will not find Hollywood films that openly portray a Democrat as the bad guy. I wrote a screenplay a few years ago called "A Murderous Campaign". It had all the elements of a great script. A beautiful porn star has an affair with a Democrat Louisiana Senator. She overhears him plotting the assassination of a political rival, but they find out she heard the plan. They try to kill her, so she goes into hiding and hooks up with a crusty old Washington reporter who is considered kooky because he has been accusing this Democrat of these crimes for years. A retired FBI friend of the reporter helps them. The Democrat announces a Presidential bid. The porn star uses her considerable charms and discovers that the Governor of New Jersey is the assassination target at a Statue of Liberty rally. She saves the Governor, and the plot is revealed, but the Democrat candidate goes into spin control. Nobody can really prove the plan. It looks like he will win the nomination, having weathered the politics of personal destruction. Finally, the porn girl and the reporter find the old father of the Democrat's chief of staff, a former Ku Klux Klansman who wants to get what he knows off his chest before passing from this mortal coil. He tells them about the drug smuggling operation the candidate has been running in the Louisiana Bayou. The reporter's FBI pal arranges a raid. They discover all the "smoking gun" evidence of a series of political murders going back years. The girl is re-united with her family, gets out of the porn business, the reporter wins the Pulitzer, and it is jail time for the Democrat. The end.

Creative execs who loved the verbal pitch when I simply described the Democrat as a "politician," a "candidate" or the "Senator" all passed when they read the part in the script that identifies him as an actual Democrat. Pamela Anderson would be perfect as the porn chick. I could see Denzel Washington as the reporter, and Gary Busey as the Democrat Senator. I was asked if I would change him to a Republican. My answer was that I wanted to maintain the realism of the story. See ya.

 

The American President DVD ~ Michael Douglas

TOTAL B.S., June 7, 2004

You can search far and wide, and you will not find Hollywood films that openly portray a Democrat as the bad guy. I wrote a screenplay a few years ago called "A Murderous Campaign". It had all the elements of a great script. A beautiful porn star has an affair with a Democrat Louisiana Senator. She overhears him plotting the assassination of a political rival, but they find out she heard the plan. They try to kill her, so she goes into hiding and hooks up with a crusty old Washington reporter who is considered kooky because he has been accusing this Democrat of these crimes for years. A retired FBI friend of the reporter helps them. The Democrat announces a Presidential bid. The porn star uses her considerable charms and discovers that the Governor of New Jersey is the assassination target at a Statue of Liberty rally. She saves the Governor, and the plot is revealed, but the Democrat candidate goes into spin control. Nobody can really prove the plan. It looks like he will win the nomination, having weathered the politics of personal destruction. Finally, the porn girl and the reporter find the old father of the Democrat's chief of staff, a former Ku Klux Klansman who wants to get what he knows off his chest before passing from this mortal coil. He tells them about the drug smuggling operation the candidate has been running in the Louisiana Bayou. The reporter's FBI pal arranges a raid. They discover all the "smoking gun" evidence of a series of political murders going back years. The girl is re-united with her family, gets out of the porn business, the reporter wins the Pulitzer, and it is jail time for the Democrat. The end.

Creative execs who loved the verbal pitch when I simply described the Democrat as a "politician," a "candidate" or the "Senator" all passed when they read the part in the script that identifies him as an actual Democrat. Pamela Anderson would be perfect as the porn chick. I could see Denzel Washington as the reporter, and Gary Busey as the Democrat Senator. I was asked if I would change him to a Republican. My answer was that I wanted to maintain the realism of the story. See ya.

 

Dave DVD ~ Kevin Kline

GOOD DEMOCRATS, BAD REPUBLICANS, SAME OLD STORY, June 7, 2004

The film "Dave" went through a script change. The story of a Presidential look-alike (Kevin Kline) who fills in for the secretly deceased real thing, the original story featured a Republican who brought his skills as a small entrepreneur to the job. Hollywood turned him into a Democrat, but kept his G.O.P common sense, such as when he and his partner look at the Federal budget and balance it by using the methods any small businessman would use. Naturally, pet liberal projects are all interjected while "Republican priorities" are given the heave-ho. You can search far and wide, and you will not find Hollywood films that openly portray a Democrat as the bad guy. I wrote a screenplay a few years ago called "A Murderous Campaign". It had all the elements of a great script. A beautiful porn star has an affair with a Democrat Louisiana Senator. She overhears him plotting the assassination of a political rival, but they find out she heard the plan. They try to kill her, so she goes into hiding and hooks up with a crusty old Washington reporter who is considered kooky because he has been accusing this Democrat of these crimes for years. A retired FBI friend of the reporter helps them. The Democrat announces a Presidential bid. The porn star uses her considerable charms and discovers that the Governor of New Jersey is the assassination target at a Statue of Liberty rally. She saves the Governor, and the plot is revealed, but the Democrat candidate goes into spin control. Nobody can really prove the plan. It looks like he will win the nomination, having weathered the politics of personal destruction. Finally, the porn girl and the reporter find the old father of the Democrat's chief of staff, a former Ku Klux Klansman who wants to get what he knows off his chest before passing from this mortal coil. He tells them about the drug smuggling operation the candidate has been running in the Louisiana Bayou. The reporter's FBI pal arranges a raid. They discover all the "smoking gun" evidence of a series of political murders going back years. The girl is re-united with her family, gets out of the porn business, the reporter wins the Pulitzer, and it is jail time for the Democrat. The end.

Creative execs who loved the verbal pitch when I simply described the Democrat as a "politician," a "candidate" or the "Senator" all passed when they read the part in the script that identifies him as an actual Democrat. Pamela Anderson would be perfect as the porn chick. I could see Denzel Washington as the reporter, and Gary Busey as the Democrat Senator. I was asked if I would change him to a Republican. My answer was that I wanted to maintain the realism of the story. See ya.

 

Forrest Gump DVD ~ Tom Hanks

CONSERVATIVE THEME, June 7, 2004

"Forrest Gump" (1994), directed by USC alum Robert Zemeckis, was considered a fairly conservative film, featuring a breakout role by Tom Hanks.

 

The Insider DVD ~ Al Pacino

WAY OVERRATED HYPOCRISY, June 7, 2004

"Issues" liberals may be people of conscience with good intentions who give of their time, energy and money for a variety of causes to better society, usually by helping disadvantaged kids or the afflicted. Hooray for them. They cannot get too much applause for that. But they jumped on the anti-tobacco bandwagon, which is in my view real hypocrisy. First, Hollywood always displays macho men and femme fatale women smoking cigarettes and looking cool. Tobacco has been around for centuries. It is a legal product that people want. The fact that it is bad for you is simply common knowledge, yet trial lawyers, the biggest Democrat special interest group, file nefarious multi-million dollar class action lawsuits and tort claims against tobacco companies, as if some plaintiff who smoked for 50 years before getting lung cancer was forced by the company to do so.

During the Clinton years, the Democrats jumped on this issue like there was no tomorrow, actually making government ads against legal American tobacco corporations and the tobacco industry in a move that cannot be legal, civilly and maybe Constitutionally. These ads typically show a couple of (always) white tobacco execs plotting to poison kids, then laughing about it. Turn this ad around and direct it at anybody else and the hue and cry would be endless. These companies contribute enormous taxes and employ thousands. I myself was addicted to chewing tobacco (Copenhagen) for 16 years. I knew I had to quit, tried several times, but went back to it. I knew the dangers of snuff and that it was a disgusting habit. Nobody dragged my arm. I chose to do it, chose to quit, girded my will power and accomplished this task. Period. Just like George W. Bush when he quit drinking.

Speaking of alcohol, this is worse than tobacco. It causes drunk driving deaths and has to be as unhealthy as smoking cigarettes, but it is not a target. On top of that, the real kicker is that if you go to Hollywood parties, or hang out at certain industry hot spots in Studio City, Universal City, Beverly Hills, or Santa Monica, you will find movie executives puffing on huge cigars like the one Bill Clinton asked Monica to use as a phallic. Such hypocrisy.

Russell Crowe played a tobacco exec a few years ago opposite Al Pacino in "The Insider", a film that never got anywhere. The crux of the film was that Brown & Williamson, a tobacco road company with a long, venerable tradition in old Carolina, had?shock?hid the fact that cigarettes are bad for people. For decades.

Really? Bad for people?

Basically they went out and advertised their product like any other capitalist organization, in an effort to get people to buy it. People buy tobacco for the same reason I used to buy it. They know it is bad for them. They joke and call them "cancer sticks." Oh, but kids are being duped, they say. There is no group of individuals on Earth more acutely aware of the danger of smoking than kids, to my knowledge. When my daughter was six or seven she was all over this issue. These same anti-tobacco crusaders are the same ones who will argue six ways from Sunday that marijuana should be legal, too. Let them stop abortion before stopping smoking.

 

Cape Fear (10th Anniversary Edition) DVD ~ Robert De Niro

GOTTA WATCH OUT FOR ALL THOSE CHRISTIAN MURDERERS, June 7, 2004

In "Cape Fear", Marty Scorsese introduces a Fourth of July parade scene rife with sluggish Americana. The scene is slowed down, given morbid music, and depicts patriotic icons with bland expressions, going through the motions while an unenthusiastic crowd masks a black-and-white cancer. It also chooses to make Bob DeNiro a really dangerous Christian who quotes Scripture, speaks in tongues and preaches while he commits his acts of violence. Outside of one episode of "The X Files" in which a sect of Hasidic Jews included some ghost-Jew character who kills in the name of same ancient Hebrew tenet, I cannot recall seeing openly Jewish killers on screen.

 

The Last Temptation of Christ - Criterion Collection DVD ~ Willem Dafoe

STYLIZED WITH FLAWS AND A LOT OF BLASPHEMY, June 7, 2004

Martin Scorsese is no conservative and generally stays away from political, but it is worth mentioning that he is obsessed with Christianity. He is a Catholic, or a lapsed Catholic, and his New York youth apparently put the zap on his head in a big way. He went to church and believed in God, asked for his sins to be washed away in confession, but like the characters in "Mean Streets" (1973), he lived in Little Italy, where murder, extortion and immorality were a way of life.

Scorsese came up with some funky ideas, and laid it all out for the world to see in "The Last Temptation of Christ" (1988). It is actually based on a book by Nikos Kazantzakis, but like all of Scorsese's work the screen version must be attributed to him. It is hard to say what he is trying to accomplish. I call the film "Bronx Jesus" because he populates it with New York actors (Harvey Keitel as Judas, Willem Dafoe as Jesus), except for evil, which Hollywood always says has an upper crust English accent (a very telling psycho-trait regarding class envy perhaps). On the one hand, Scorsese loves his Jesus. He is obviously very personal to him. He has a vision for who Jesus was, and it is a human vision. This is the crux of the story, because if Jesus is "human," then His suffering and trials are not just for show. In order for Jesus to die for our sins, He has to feel our pain and be tempted just as any mortal would be.

The finale is confusing and I have only seen it once, so forgive me, but as best I can recall Christ accepts a "deal" from Satan. A dream sequence follows, in which Christ is apparently fooled by Satan, disguised as a little girl. Apparently, he did not die for our sins, and Scorsese's message is muddled, possibly leading us to believe that the screwed-up world we live in is because of this. The Catholics and other Christian groups were outraged. It is not quite the "risen Christ on Easter Sunday" message of hope that we have all been counting on. Personally, I do not see Scorsese as anti-Christian for making it, although I do come away from such expenditures of theology believing there are just things we will never know until we die, and we had best live good lives until then!

 

Any Given Sunday DVD ~ Oliver Stone

MOST REALISTIC SPORTS MOVIE EVER, June 7, 2004

Among Oliver Stone's work includes "Any Given Sunday" (1999), as good and realistic a sports movie as has ever been made. It features an over-the-top performance by Al Pacino as a veteran pro football coach who can still motivate his over-paid, over-sexed, over-drugged, slightly thuggish, mostly black (except for a few White Aryan Brotherhood linemen) mercenaries with a speech that sends Knute Rockne to the bench.

He reportedly is working on the story of the 1934 Republican industrialists who recruited Marine hero Smedley Butler to overthrow Franklin Roosevelt, which was the genesis of "Seven Days in May". We are still waiting for Tinsel Town to take on Kennedy stealing the 1960 election. It could be a long wait. If any producers are reading this, I am offering my services at the Writers Guild minimum.

 

Nixon - Collector's Edition DVD ~ Oliver Stone

A PLEASANT SURPRISE, June 7, 2004

He infers that the beast is embodied in the Central Intelligence Agency, which in turn controls the U.S. A sequence showing Nixon visiting CIA Director Richard Helms (Sam Waterston) was mostly cut out of the original film, but the video shows it in its entirety at the end of the movie. Helms and his agency are virtually said to be the devil. Flowers in Helms' office are shown to bloom and wilt in supernatural ways, presumably depending on Helms' evil whim. Waterston's eyes are shown to be coal black. He is Satan!

Nixon asks himself the rhetorical question, "Whose helping us?" while staring into a fireplace flame under a portrait of Kennedy. The theme is first brought forth in Nixon's college years, when his older brother dies, and apparently this frees up money through an unexplained source (an insurance policy?) that allows Nixon to go to law school. In light of two Kennedy assassinations, the answer to Nixon's question seems to be the same one that Mick Jagger gives in "Sympathy for the Devil".

"After all, it was you and me," Jagger sings, and Stone would have you believe it was the devil in silent concert with Nixon and his brand of...something. Jingoism, patriotism, xenophobia, bloodthirstiness? Nixon is seen on a couple of occasions shadowed by a devil-like winged creature (the beast), and his conversation with a female college student at the Lincoln Memorial ends with her identification of the beast as the controlling force in American politics. Presumably the girl is able to see this clearly because her heart is pure.

Stone invents secret cabals that never happened between Nixon and John Birch Texas businessmen, racist to the core, who along with a smirking Cuban are there to tell us that because Nixon was in Texas on November 22, 1963 he was somehow plotting JFK's murder.

The conspiracy link between "JFK" and "Nixon" exists in this reference, and the CIA "tracks" like the one Agent X talks about in "JFK", apparently tie Guatemala, Iran and the Bay of Pigs to subsequent events. The Bay of Pigs tie-in, led by E. Howard Hunt and his Cubans, Bernard Barker, Eugenio Martinez, et al, is real enough, but the assassination is one Stone insists is part of the same "track." Something on the list of "horribles," which Nixon discusses with H.R. Haldeman (James Woods), who then talks about "bodies," references to something I still have never figured out after watching the film 15 times. The Kennedy's bodies? Vietnam dead bodies?

Stone gives Watergate its due, but lets the actual events speak for themselves without embellishing it with more hate towards Nixon than that era produced of its own accord. He actually does a solid job of demonstrating the semi-legitimate reasons for creating the Plumbers in the first place, which was to plug leaks in light of Daniel Ellsberg's treacherous "Pentagon Papers" revelation, in concert with the bunker mentality caused by anti-war protesters threatening, in their mind at the time, a civil war like the one that forced Lincoln to declare martial law.

Stone also makes it clear that Nixon and his people were convinced that Kennedy stole the 1960 election, and he does not try to deny it (without advocating it, either). Murray Chotiner represents the realpolitik Republicans who, Stone wants us to know, pulled the same fraudulent tricks, when he says, "They stole it fair and square."

Nixon is depicted as foul-mouthed and quite the drinker. His salty language apparently was learned well into adulthood, and he did occasionally imbibe after years as a teetotaler, but his associates insist it was by no means a regular thing. Woods' Haldeman is no friend of the Hebrews, and Paul Sorvino, doing a big league Henry Kissinger, finds himself constantly at war with the inside Nixon team, put down for his Jewishness. Powers Boothe is a cold-blooded Alexander Haig, representing the reality of Watergate's final conclusion.

It never would have happened under J. Edgar Hoover, Nixon says, and Haig agrees that Hoover, who died just before Watergate, was a "realist" who would have kept it locked up. Nixon discusses suicide with Haig, who eases him out of that but never really tells him not to. When Nixon asks for any final suggestion, Haig says something the real man probably never said:

"You have the Army. Lincoln used it."

Sure.

Nixon breaks down, incredulous that for all his accomplishments, he can be brought down by such a nothing event. Stone allows Hopkins to infuse this scene with Shakespearean irony. Stone gives Nixon his due in many ways. He demonstrates that he was utterly faithful to his wife, Pat, turning down a right wing lovely served up by the Birchers, while telling the girl that he entered politics to help people. His hardscrabble youth is nicely portrayed, with Mary Steenburgen playing his long-suffering Quaker mother. Young Nixon is utterly faithful to her and the honest, religious ethic of the family. But in a later scene, Steenburgen looks questioningly at his Presidential aspirations, saying he is destined to lead, but only if God is on his side. It is a telling statement playing to his theme that dark forces are the wind at Nixon's sails. He enters politics as an idealist, and becomes something else because he discovers he has the talent for it. He is industrious, in contrast to the Kennedys, and will earn everything he has simply by out-working everybody.

An entirely loving portrait of Dick Nixon would have no credibility. Stone does a great job with the movie, which is as balanced as it could be with a side of liberal righteousness.(...)

 

JFK (Director's Cut Two-Disc Special Edition) DVD ~ Kevin Costner

A RIDDLE WRAPPED INSIDE AN ENIGMA, June 7, 2004

What really has set the Left back is not just the failure of this film medium to accomplish their goals, but also the lack of faith accorded college professors, school textbooks, and mainstream news. So who is left to tell the real story?

Weeeeeell, my friends, we are out there. We have been waiting in the wings all these years, gathering the facts in silence, not showing our hand, waiting for judgment day. The day of reckoning is upon us. Let freedom reign.

As for "JFK", it is a complicated piece of fiction that would require some real research to effectively discredit all of its lies. What it did in the theatre was have one asking, "Jeez, did that really happen?" or "My God, is this true?" or "Holy cow, I can't believe this could be." It is major sensory overload. Innocent civilians who knew things are killed. Deception and murder are used to cover up the sordid deeds. The film requires several viewings, and frankly time, probably years, to unravel it. What happens is that various reviews, reports from historical figures and historians are read and pieced together. After a while the discovery is made that a particular "witness" never existed, a certain "police officer" is a figment of Stone's imagination, smoke in the trees, conversations, special ops guys with the inside scoop (particular "Major X" played by Canadian Donald Sutherland) are invented out of whole cloth. A proposition is one thing, but "JFK" is "Alice in Wonderland", a "riddle wrapped inside an enigma, tied by a puzzle" or whatever it is Joe Pesci says. It is exhausting.

So who killed JFK? Oh, maaaaan! Stone's answer, as best I can tell, was Lyndon Johnson, in league with the joint chiefs, because Kennedy wanted out of Vietnam and they wanted in (because American industry needed the war?), working with right wing Birchers, who were part of rogue elements of the CIA (?), who were a "track," whatever that is, that could not be stopped because it was an inexorable connection starting in Guatemala ("good"), Iran ("good"), and Bay of Pigs ("not so good"), that had become dominated by Cuban exile "Republicans," working in league with the Soviets (KGB?), who recruited Lee Harvey Oswald, who learned to shoot in the Marines, who lived and married in Russia then came back, who promoted Marxism but was funded by Birchers (?), who was a patsy for the Dallas Mafia, who had Oswald-lookalikes say incriminating things, who worked with JFK, who worked with La Casa Nostra (who turned on him?), who were tied to Naval Intelligence (?), who operated out of a corner in New Orleans in which the Feds, the NIS and somebody else all had offices, who were tied to right wing homosexual businessmen, defrocked priests, gay prostitutes and guys with tempers like Ed Asner, whose activities were known by corrupt New Orleans lawyers and politicians, who were in league with the New Orleans International Trade Mart or something like that, protected by Dallas strip club owners, who hatched a plan that involved Cubans training in the Florida swamps or Latin America by gay militia commandos, who bought a bad Italian rifle with a bolt action release via mail instead of purchasing a better weapon through the black market or a store, who gave it to Oswald, who may or may not have fired at JFK but could not possibly have hit his mark from the Texas Book Depository, who with Secret Service agents working to kill the President had assassins disguised as police officers and bums in the bushes, a car wreck lot and a grassy knoll, and created a triangulated cross-fire that killed the President then got away.

Now, friends and neighbors, after all of that, at no time does Mr. Stone suggest that the assassination was the work of a fellow he later visited and said was a great man, named Fidel Castro, who is the most likely suspect.

Res ipsa loquiter.

Castro and the mob? Maybe. The confusion of Stone's plot twists is highly, precisely and to quintessential effect that with which the real killers want. Stone's film vastly hurts the attempt to learn the truth. He raises plenty of legitimate questions, mainly regarding the so-called "magic bullet," and he operates on at least one fairly solid foundation, which is that the Zapruder film seems to show more than one shooter. Saying Oswald was not a lone gunman is a premise I can give credence to, but beyond that God knows.

One thing is puzzling, and that is that in all the years since nobody has "stepped forward." Every so often somebody shows up on Larry King Live and says his father, usually a "Dallas cop," was the shooter, but these stories always have the crackpot feel to them. I want a deathbed confession from a Cuban, one of Sam Giancana's guys, something solid. When all the smoke clears, you still have a Communist sympathizer, Oswald, killing a President who just humiliated Kruschev over the Bay of Pigs, is a threat to Castro and is building up troops to fight Commies in Vietnam. It is plausible he had help and they were on the Grassy Knoll, they got away and Jack Ruby killed Oswald to shut him up. Maybe a little too convenient. The Warren Commission report came out only one year later, not enough time to sort out everything. The Church hearings were too open to get the real stuff beyond salacious sex. Secret CIA/FBI investigations might have been the only real answer, and who knows, maybe they were conducted, and maybe the gullible public cannot handle the truth. Who knows? Not Oliver Stone.

 

Born on the Fourth of July - Special Edition DVD ~ Oliver Stone

THEY ALWAYS BLAME AMERICA FIRST, June 7, 2004

In 1989 Oliver Stone came out with "Born on the Fourth of July", the true story of Ron Kovic, a gung-ho Marine who is paralyzed in combat in Vietnam. The film is realistic and compelling. Stone is a master and Tom Cruise as Kovic gives one of his best-ever performances, proving him to be a bona fide acting talent. The film depicts the heartbreaking American experience in Vietnam, and the character arc of Kovic is as complete as any ever captured. He returns home, desperate to believe that his sacrifice was in a noble cause, but this is chipped away by the well-known elements of '60s radicalism. The "generation gap" between longhaired youths and crew cut, religious parents is profound. Kovic sinks into the depravity of drugs and alcohol, but battles back to become a "hero" of the anti-war Left. He wheels into the 1972 Republican National Convention, where he tries to tell the clean-cut, well-heeled patriots that they are wrong and he is right. The idea is that they are all warmongers who have not fought, while he is a pacifist because he has. While there is truth to the premise, in choosing to tell this story, Stone establishes Hollywood as the home of solidly liberal ideas. In 1972, Nixon won 49 states over the ant-war McGovern. The idea that all those Americans, subject daily to reports from Peter Arnett and Dan Rather, the bias of Walter Cronkite, and the hate of the New York Times and the Washington Post, chose Nixon because they were bloodthirsty imperialists is just malarkey. Furthermore, Nixon had made 18-year olds eligible to vote. The concept that all of American youth protested in the streets is a myth. The anti-war movement was propped by TV that made pockets of outrage look like a widespread movement. The Silent Majority spoke out in '72. Big time.

Stone's depiction is fair in and of itself, but he takes advantage of the power of his medium in creating a mindset that such horrors as Kovic experienced are just part of the "Vietnam experience." Kovic's life mirrors soldiers going back to the Roman Legion and beyond. The Left has taken Vietnam as one of those core issues and stuck to it, just as they found themselves wedded to Alger Hiss, Bill Clinton and now the losing side of the War on Terrorism. McCarthy was going after genuine Communists, and genuine Communists were trying to enslave South Vietnam. It took some fighting to stop them. Nixon and Kissinger had the best plan available to them at the time, and the public recognized it. Watergate killed them and the Democrats used it to abandon our allies. Millions died because of them. Democrats will have you believe that we "created" the "killing fields." They have to say things like that, to cling to this nebulous theory, somehow unable to blame the rabid haters and murderers of Communist history, apparently because they are wedded to McCarthyism. Their movies are their best tool in perpetuating their lies. Not on my watch.

 

Wall Street DVD ~ Oliver Stone

STONE TRIED TO DISS CAPITALISM, GLORIFIED IT INSTEAD, June 7, 2004

In 1987 OLIVER STONE again starred Charlie Sheen, this time as Bud Fox, along with Martin Sheen and Michael Douglas, in "Wall Street". Stone, like Coppola's "Patton", tapped into a part of America he really wanted to discredit, but instead glorified. Based on the go-go stock markets of the Reagan '80s, it is loosely based on inside arbitrageurs and junk bond kings like Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken. Fox/Sheen is an idealistic, ambitious young stockbroker, his father is his conscience, and Douglas as Gordon Gekko is pure tantalizing temptation. Fox must violate SEC laws and get inside information in order to do business with the "big elephant" Gekko. Gekko's star fades when a big deal-gone-bad has personal ramifications, and Fox turns a dime on him. The film is supposed to show that America is a greedy place that "produces nothing" in a "zero sum game" in which the rich only make money on the backs of the poor. Gekko's (Stone's) statements about economics are pure, unadulterated economic lies shown to be lies simply by?observing factual things. Where Stone may have had second thoughts was the reaction the film got. As the years went by, he and others were approached countless times by Young Republicans and Wall Street execs who told him the depiction of the exciting world of finance led them into that very career, which they thanked him for! Stone had hoped to create an egalitarian class. Instead, he created a decade full of Gordon Gekkos. They in turn fueled the dot-com boom. It was not unlike the Democrats who hoped to expose Oliver North and the Republicans in the Iran-Contra "scandal," only to discover that millions thought Ollie and his White House pals were doing God's work in fighting Communism.

Res ipsa loquiter.

 

Platoon (Special Edition) DVD ~ Oliver Stone

DID JOHN KERRY CONSULT STONE ON THIS FILM?, June 7, 2004

The essential story is only true if it describes William Calley and My Lai, or what that could have been if the villagers had been saved by a Messianic Sergeant Elias (Dafoe) instead of being gunned down by a Satanic Barnes (Berenger as a Calley knock-off). If Stone had simply made it the "My Lai Massacre", it would have been historically accurate, but what he did was pernicious. He wanted to convey to millions of moviegoers that My Lai was the norm, and he cast this ordinary platoon of grunts as driven to a My Lai-type war crime by the very nature of his view of our illegitimate role in Vietnam.

Stone was in Vietnam and I was not, but the history of Vietnam is not a history of ordinary units run amok in racist killing sprees. Stone infuses the story with humanity and heroes. Sheen plays Chris, an idealist, based on Stone's vision of himself. Want a fact? Here is a fact. Oliver Stone is not in the same league with the idealized Chris character. He is not a pimple on Chris's rear end.

Chris is a hero and a survivor. Dafoe, as Elias, is a Christ-like figure who protects his "brothers" and shows no fear, even when chasing "Charlie" into that most dangerous of places, the underground tunnel system. His death, portrayed on the posters, is a wide-armed crucifix, and it is avenged by Chris, his disciple who takes to the challenge with the passion of the converted. A final battle also shows something that rarely, if ever, happened. North Vietnamese regulars overrun the Americans. In actuality, they won all the battles against the NVA. Then, the commander has to make a call and have the whole "pod," friend and foe alike, napalmed in another stretch on history.

Berenger and his "super lifer" pals are shown to be corrupt, have a taste for death, and little accountability in a situation that lets them kill "gooks" with racist impunity. This is not out of the question. Soldiers are trained killers, and combat de-humanizes them. The Audie Murphy characterizations are not true, either. But Stone has created a vision of the Vietnam experience that is not portrayed as a special circumstance, but rather the average, the every day. His political message is very clear, and it is to discredit the objectives of the war. He also discredits a lot of his buddies who fought with him. He does demonstrate the inhuman behavior of the Communists, which as a combat Marine he saw for himself, but strongly urges the viewer to buy into the sickness of America.

This film seems to parody the lies of John Kerry during the Winter Soldier investigation. Me? I'm rootin' for America.

 

Top Gun DVD ~ Tom Cruise

A NAVY RECRUITING FILM, June 7, 2004

"Top Gun", starring Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer in 1986, was a glamorous showcase film for the Navy. Actual Navy recruiters set up shop in theatre lobbies, signing up young hopefuls filled with visions of drinking beer while singing "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'", making afternoon delight with Kelly McGillis, while tear-assing through the skies like a bat out off freedom.

 

The People Vs. Larry Flynt DVD ~ Woody Harrelson

LARRY FLYNT: DEMOCRAT, June 7, 2004

When Ronald Reagan became the President, a shift to conservatism occurred in Hollywood and the media. Hustler founder Larry Flynt flirted with Christianity, but it did not take. When his editors suggested that the Reagan mood should portend more "family friendly" fare, Flynt fired that messenger and went from sick and disgusting to really hardcore porn (which is better than sick and disgusting). He aligned himself against the Republicans, who were asking 7-11s to keep their porn mags away from minors (a move since described by liberals as tantamount to Stalinist censorship). In 1998, Flynt became the mouthpiece of the Democrat party, a de facto Clinton spokesman and unofficial public relations firm for the DNC. In 2003 he decided to run for Governor of California as a Democrat. While his intentions may be to benefit the Democrats, he could not have harmed them more. Republicans need say nothing about this fact. It exists for what it is, on it face. Republicans just smile and say, "Hey, you Democrats, you can have Larry Flynt." They have him and he has them. A mariage made in...?

 

The Killing Fields DVD ~ Sam Waterston

COMMUNISM: AN IDEOLOGY OF MURDER, June 7, 2004

In 1984 Sam Waterston starred as New York Times reporter Sidney Scheinberg in "The Killing Fields". Clint Eastwood was offered the role, but turned it down. He said it was because he is a "Western WASP," not an East Coast Jew, but he probably ran from it because he is a Republican and knew that Scheinberg had been a biased Vietnam reporter and did not want to promote that. Scheinberg filed numerous reports advocating the message that the U.S. was not doing the right thing in Vietnam. The early part of the film promotes the liberal myth that it was U.S. bombs and U.S. aggression that created the situation in Cambodia. The perfidy of such a concept is mind-boggling. The U.S. did create the situation in Cambodia, because it was U.S. Democrats, led by Chappaquiddick Teddy, who de-funded the South Vietnamese until they collapsed. Then they have the bluster to tell the world, using their powerful friends in the film industry, that the Cambodian holocaust was not because they disarmed the forces of freedom, but because the Communists were incensed at American crimes, therefore justifying their rampages of mass murder against innocent civilians. Is there some alternate Universe in which this can be true. Answer: No.

However, like a fair number of films that liberals make, "The Killing Fields" ends up promoting a semi-conservative message when it gets into truthful events that cannot be portrayed any other way. Pol Pot's murder of Cambodia is undeniable. In putting it on film, it simply speaks for itself. There is little to conclude in walking out of the theatres that showed "The Killing Fields" beyond the simple conclusion that, "Communists killed millions of people," which is a fact that does not allow for much leeway. Leftists still try to find that leeway, however.

 

Coming Home DVD ~ Jane Fonda

HORSE MANURE, June 7, 2004

As if to counter-balance "The Deer Hunter", good old Jane Fonda starred in "Coming Home" (1978) with Jon Voight. Saved by the pure benevolence of American goodwill from a treason trial, she was allowed to pursue her craft (she is excellent at it). "Coming Home" seemed to be the realization of the self-fulfilling prophecy she created in 1972. It was that year that she traveled to Hanoi, the heart of America's enemy, and allowed herself to be posed on Communist tanks, wearing an army helmet. It was blatant "aid and comfort" provided to an enemy during a time of war. Jane did not stop there. Like a modern day Tokyo Rose, she got on the radio and told the troops their wives and girlfriends were having sex with hippies and protestors back home. To this day, the G.I.s have never forgiven "Hanoi Jane". She tried to apologize and say she was wrong, but her heart was never in it.

Eventually she married CNN founder Ted Turner, a man who may not be the anti-Christ (but may be), and may not have achieved his success by invoking Satan (but may have). When Turner saw CNN employees adorned in "ashes" to worship Ash Wednesday, he went ballistic about "Jesus freaks" in his employ. Such a crime! Jane, in the first move she ever did that I liked (other than wearing skintight sex clothes in her hot-selling workout vids), declared she was a "born again Christian." That was the last straw for Turner, who divorced her. There is no word on whether Christianity took in Jane's life, but I wish her well.

In "Coming Home", she portrays the very cheating wife she described to the boys in her "Hanoi Jane" days. She tries to pepper the performance with an apology to her officer husband, Bruce Dern, but it ends up being more of an explanation, which in light of what we know about Vietnam does not wash. Two thumbs down.

 

The Deer Hunter DVD ~ Robert De Niro

A CONSERVATIVE HOLLYWOOD REFLECTION, June 7, 2004

"The Deer Hunter" (1978) starred Robert DeNiro. The film breaks numerous rules in terms of length of time and attention to detail. It can truly be called art. Small town values of American patriotism, loyalty and religious faith hold a sad story of native sons ruined in the 'Nam. The Communists are shown for what they were, savage beasts with no redeeming value. The film is an enduring monument in film history and made huge coin, but its "failure" to hue to the liberal line, especially on the nasty subject of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, made enemies for its director, Michael Cimino. When Cimino made another bid for artistic greatness, falling short with "Heaven's Gate", Hollywood turned on him in a way they never would have if his failures were liberal failures. Directors like Woody Allen are allowed to make boner after boner because they all are peppered with potshots at conservatism, Republicans, McCarthy and Christianity. How charming he is.

 

Taxi Driver (Collector's Edition) DVD ~ Martin Scorsese

SCORSES'S GENIUS IS OBVIOUS, June 7, 2004

In 1976, Martin Scorsese directed "Taxi Driver", starring Robert DeNiro. Calling this a "conservative" movie is a stretch, but it is a prescient look at New York attitudes that preceded the age of Giuliani. Paul Schrader wrote it. His story is a hoot in and of itself. He and his brother were raised in a strict Calvinist Pennsylvania family, emphasizing the strictest tenets of Scripture and absolutism. The Calvinists are big on pre-ordained destiny. Released from this environment, he came to Hollywood and tried everything. Naturally, he was a mess; a drug addict, an alcoholic and a heterosexual so confused he tried homosexuality just?to try it. Given the assignment to write a screenplay, he was holed up in a downtown L.A. hotel for weeks, then months. He had little social contact except occasional taxi rides to restaurants in and around L.A.'s skid row. He began to see the world from inside the taxi, and came up with a character and a plot revolving around the concept.

DeNiro's Travis Bickle is a Vietnam Marine vet, off kilter but moral, who is sickened by the crime, drugs and immorality of 1970s New York City, seen from the taxi he drives night and day. He has an ill-fated fling with a pretty campaign worker (Cybil Shephard), goes off the deep end and portrays himself as a possible assassination threat to a Presidential candidate, although this is never fleshed out. In the end, he commits an act of vigilantism to save the life of a teenage prostitute with potential (Jodie Foster), and like in "Death Wish" (Charles Bronson), is made a hero.

The message of "Taxi Driver" is that peace comes from strength. It was a popular theme in a number of flicks. Hollywood seemed to fail to grasp some important realities about its marketplace. Time after time, movies that veered away from "touchy feely" liberalism and gave teeth to conservative characters (Eastwood's "Dirty Harry", Bronson, DeNiro, and others) made boffo box office, yet the industry has never come to grips with itself. They return time after time to premises that insult conservative audiences, and wonder why the lines get shorter.

 

The Missiles of October DVD ~ William Devane

"MISSILES" IS A BARNBURNER, June 7, 2004

"The Missiles of October" starred William DeVane as JFK and Martin Sheen as RFK. Both of these actors portrayed the Kennedys better than any actors ever have. This is a patriotic film that depicts how close we came to nuclear combat toe to toe with the Russkies, and how the Kennedys saw us through the crisis. This may have been the beginning of Martin Sheen's political awakening.

 

All the President's Men DVD ~ Dustin Hoffman

THEN REDFORD MADE THE KENNEDY-STOLE-1960-ELECTION MOVIE??, June 7, 2004

"All the President's Men", based on the book by Woodward and Bernstein, was impossible to resist for Redford. Nixon! Oh boy! Again, Hollywood passed up the Kennedy-stole-the-election story. What a shock! You have to hand it to these guys, though; they have talent. "President's" was masterful, thanks in large part to Goldman, who knew how to condense the story. Redford tried to play it close to the vest, and comes close to making it come off as straight and narrow. The actual truth portrayed betrays the lack of objectivity, however, at the Washington Post. Redford is Bob Woodward, a former Navy officer and a Republican. This is revealed to Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) who gives him a furtive look upon learning this shocking truth. Jason Robards is Ben Bradlee, the Post's editor. We all know the story: The DNC is broken into by Cubans with White House phone numbers in their address books, and in investigating the burglary Woodward and Bernstein suspect a larger plot, which they uncover through dogged journalism that cannot be denied. The two writers are shown to be complete heroes. Hal Halbrooke plays "Deep Throat", the White House insider who gives Woodward the leads he needs to keep investigating. To this day his identity is unknown, and it remains entirely plausible that he was invented out of whole cloth.

The story is the story, and there is no room for liberal bias in that. To Redford's credit, he does not demonize the Republicans or sermonize. Implicit threat against the pair are made, but not expanded into anything. G. Gordon Liddy did volunteer to "off" Jack Anderson for revealing CIA assets in the U.S.S.R., but there is no evidence that Nixon's Republicans ever thought about blowing Woodward and Bernstein away. Domestic political murders, as best as I can tell, are the province of the Democrats. Even in Oliver Stone's "JFK", it is Lyndon Johnson who supposedly was in on the plan to kill the President.

The bias in "All the President's Men" is subliminal, but leave it to yours truly to see it. First, there is the acronym CREEP, which stands for Committee to Re-elect the President. There have been numerous such committees over he years, and they always go by the acronym CRP. But Woodward and Bernstein turned it into CREEP. Gotcha. There is also a scene in which Bradlee, who in real life was a drinking buddy (and God knows what else) of Kennedy's, getting the news that the story is progressing and has real legs.

"You run that baby," he tells Woodward and Bernstein, then does little jig as he leaves the office. This is telling. Redford and director Alan Pakula allowed it, probably because it let them impart their own happiness over Nixon's downfall through the character. In another scene, Robards/Bradlee tells the reporters, "There's not much riding on this. Just the First Amendment and the Constitution of the United States."

Now just hoooold on there, Ben. Was Watergate really about the Constitution? Was that august document threatened? This begs the question, Where was Bradlee and Post publisher Katherine Graham when the Constitution really was threatened by their pal JFK, who stole the 1960 election? Where were they when their pal Bobby Kennedy was wiretapping Martin Luther King? Democrat operatives had to break into homes, hotels and offices to wiretap Dr. King just as the Plumbers had to break into Dr. Fielding's office, and Larry O'Brien's. A free press is undoubtedly the cornerstone of Democracy, but it functions best when it is not populated by over-inflated egos who think they are the soul arbiter of freedom of expression.

 

Three Days of the Condor DVD ~ Robert Redford

GREAT FILM, UNIMPRESIVE POLITICAL VIEWS, June 7, 2004

Robert Redford made a clunker called "The Way We Were" with Barbra Streisand that desperately tried to explain, apologize for, justify, glorify and approve of being an American Communist during McCarthyism, but just plain fails. He made the 1973 classic "Three Days of the Condor" (1973), with Cliff Robertson and Faye Dunnaway. He plays a CIA reader, a kind of pre-Tom Clancy research guy, a benign fellow among other benign CIA fellows, all of whom are murdered in a fuzzily explained hit by bad CIA fellows. After escaping, Redford tries to get to the bottom of it. Since he is a genius he has the intellectual tools to outwit his chasers. This is the film's highlight, revolving around the sexual tension between Redford and the redoubtable Faye, who he "kidnaps" in order to have a place to hide out, her apartment. The movie goes off the deep when the whole conspiracy turns out to be about the CIA's covert operations in the Middle East, where the U.S. apparently is planning the invasion (that never actually occurred) to take over OPEC. The message is that The Company murders innocents, the U.S. is a warmongering empire, and tool of capitalist greed. It is Redford's answer to Guatemala, Iran and Chile, where the people killed were generally Communists. Redford would rather show the CIA killing Chinese- and African-Americans and other non-threats.

 

The Candidate DVD ~ Robert Redford

EXCELLENT POLITICAL FLICK, June 7, 2004

Robert Redford was behind the entertaining political movie "The Candidate" (1972), which goes a long way towards explaining how the game works. This film is really not a liberal one, which is what makes it worthwhile even after 30 years. It is supposed to be based on Edmund "Jerry" Brown, former California Governor Pat Brown's son. Jerry Brown at the time was a youthful Secretary of State who would go one to two terms as Governor. He was a new kind of pol, attractive, a bit of swinger who dated rock star Linda Rohnstadt, and representative of the Golden State image of the 1970s. They called him "Governor Moonbeam".

Redford plays the son of the former Governor of California, played by Melvyn Douglas. The old man is old school all the way, having schmoozed his way up the slippery slope through implied corrupt deals with labor unions and other Democrat special interests. Redford is a young man who played football at Stanford and is now a social issues lawyer of the pro bono variety, helping Mexicans in Central California. Peter Boyle knew him at Stanford and is now a Democrat political consultant who recruits Redford to run for Senator against Crocker Jarman, an entrenched conservative Orange County Republican. Jarman could be Reagan, but he is as much a composite of the traditional Republican: Strong on defense, down on affirmative action and welfare, a real "up by the bootstraps" guy who emerged from the Depression and World War II to make up our "greatest generation."

The film does an about-face on perceptions that, in many cases, turn out to be true. Redford is the rich kid with connections. Jarman beat the Depression like the rest of the U.S., without a social worker.

"How did we do it?" he mocks.

Redford's film wife is played by Karen Carlson, pure eye candy (but what happened to her career I cannot say?). She has ambitions of her own, and pushes him to do it because he has the "power," an undefined sexual charisma of the JFK variety. Redford plays a caricature of himself, handsome but considered an empty suit. His deal is he can say any outrageous thing because he cannot win anyway, and in so doing shows he has the brains. When he creeps up in the polls, the idealism gives way to standard politicking, complete with deals with his old man's crooked labor buddies. He wins, demonstrating the power of looks and TV advertising. In the end he expresses that he is not prepared for the task.

 

All the President's Men DVD ~ Dustin Hoffman

KENNEDY STOLE 1960 FROM NIXON, BUT NOBODY MAKES THAT MOVIE, June 7, 2004

"All the President's Men" (1976) was Robert Redford's breakthrough from pretty boy star to filmmaker with clout. Redford, a former baseball player at L.A.'s Van Nuys High School whose classmates were Dodger Hall of Fame pitcher Don Drysdale and (...) Natalie Wood, had been typecast by his looks and blonde hair into Malibu beach boy roles early on. This offended his sensibilities as an artist. Redford is in some ways the patron saint of liberal movie stars, and his story is a common one. He is no Dumbellionite, even though he dropped out of college. Like so many, he was drawn like a bee to honey to the theatre, trekking to New York as a teenager. His liberal views apparently were formed in his youth, growing up in the Mexican section of Santa Monica and seeing racism up close (at least, that is the story he tells). His lack of formal education in no way speaks to a lack of political knowledge, but his success and looks speak to a certain amount of good luck while others his age were in Southeast Asia. This very likely created a guilt complex that Redford, a star with an ego, could not manifest upon himself, so he found a culprit in this country, which had provided him a forum to achieve so much (...)

 

The Parallax View DVD ~ Warren Beatty

NOT SURE WHAT BEATTY WAS SHOOTING FOR, June 7, 2004

"The Parallax View" was big liberal Warren Beatty's attempt to describe a conspiracy involving shadowy government agencies. It is entertaining and worth watching, but misses the mark. Beatty seems to be trying to piece together an explanation on how, or even who, killed Kennedy. "The Manchurian Candidate" may have inspired him. Beatty plays a journalist who goes undercover, allowing himself to be recruited by the Parallax Corporation, presumably a CIA front that trains assassins. His psychological profile is determined in part by watching a disturbing montage of scenes, ranging from love, sex and patriotism to war, gore and devil worship, mixed with the juxtaposition of wealth vs. need. The point seems to be that people go hungry while rich America has sex and kills people?

 

Marathon Man DVD ~ Dustin Hoffman

THEY DO NOT MAKE MOVIES THIS GOOD ANY MORE, June 7, 2004

The conspiracy movies included two fictional stories, "Marathon Man" and "The Parallax View", as well as the Watergate movie, "All the President's Men" (which Robert Redford produced after giving long consideration to a movie about how Kennedy stole the 1960 election?not!).

"Marathon Man" was directed by John Schlesinger, written by the great William Goldman (based on his novel), and produced by Bob Evans. Goldman, along with Towne, is considered one of the best screenwriters of all time. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1968) is an original screenplay that gets as much study as "Chinatown", and his book "Adventures in the Screen Trade" is a must-read for industry insiders. "Marathon Man" stars Dustin Hoffman as a Columbia doctoral student, obsessed with his thesis about his father, who committed suicide when he was "victimized" by McCarthyism. His brother is Roy Scheider, a super-secret agent for an organization that handles, apparently, what the FBI cannot and the CIA will not. His pal is William DeVane, and he is in league with the devil, a former Nazi dentist named Christian Zsell (played to perfection by Laurence Olivier), based on Joseph Mengele. Zsell is also known as the "White Angel". The plot revolves around millions of dollars worth of diamonds, smuggled to the U.S. by Zsell with DeVane's (and Sheider's) help. Hoffman accidentally gets involved and foils the plot. It is brilliant stuff in every way, shape and form, but coming on the heels of the Church hearings, the film plays on the public's belief that the CIA is corrupt, bent more on money and power than protecting the interests of freedom. The anti-hero is Hoffman. The backstory of his persecuted Jewish father strengthens the myth that fine liberals of conscience were the victims of the McCarthy witch-hunt. Like all films depicting McCarthyism, the victim is fictional and there are no scenes based on real events. This is because actual scenes of actual "victims," if they hold to the truth, will show actual Communists being caught in lies by public officials using perfectly normally and legal techniques of American justice.

 

The Wind and the Lion DVD ~ Sean Connery

FABULOUS FILM THAT STILL HOLDS UP, June 7, 2004

"The Wind and the Lion" was a beautiful John Milius film and story, with a pulse-pounding sound track. Brian Keith plays Teddy Roosevelt, who orders U.S. troops to Morocco to protect U.S. interests, as well he should have. Candice Bergen is an American socialite, kidnapped by a roguish Arab sand pirate, played by Sean Connery. The film is much more story, character rivalry and romance than history, but it does not hand us any of the usual garbage portraying the U.S. as racist exploiters. Instead, America under Roosevelt is portrayed as a modern power, unafraid to flex its muscles, but not willing to go overboard.

Milius writes and directs to this day. He has a tremendous love of history, a conservative trait. The reason for this is simple. History is the accurate description of great things done by conservatives. No wonder we love history. He is not the household name that Speilberg, Coppola or Lucas are. He says he is comfortable with the decisions he made, which were to be up-front about his politics regardless of whether it cost him. He freely admits that his conservatism indeed did prevent him from the kind of greatness that he was capable of.

 

Red Dawn DVD ~ Patrick Swayze

UNDERRATED CLASSIC, June 7, 2004

In 1984, John Milius wrote and directed "Red Dawn", starring Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen. It describes a joint Communist Cuban/Soviet invasion of the Rocky Mountains. Aside from its Cold War warning, it was an ode to the gun lobby. In an early scene, a pick-up truck has a bumper sticker reading "You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers." A Communist soldier then pries a gun from the hands of a dead Colorado resident. A group of high school football players who had been taught how to hunt, fish and live off the land by their dad, take to the mountains and form a guerilla unit, attacking the Communist occupiers in series of daring raids. In the end, the Communists are defeated and World War III is won. The high school boys are memorialized for their courage and daring in the early, dark days of the fight for freedom.

 

Chinatown DVD ~ Roman Polanski

THIS IS WHAT FILM IS SUPPOSED TO BE, June 7, 2004

The mid-1970s saw a spate of "government conspiracy" films, all with liberal themes that emanated from Watergate. None of them were about Kennedy stealing the 1960 election. Hmm.

"Chinatown" (1974) may be the best screenplay ever written. A historical look at 1930s Los Angeles, it actually condensed events from the 1900s with events that, uh, never happened but made for good drama. Written by L.A. native Robert Towne, directed by Roman Polanski, produced by Evans and starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunnaway and famed director John Huston, it told the story of how Los Angeles became a metropolis. In Towne's version, Huston "owns" the L.A. Department of Water & Power with a character based on actual L.A. City engineer William Mulholland. Mulholland had orchestrated the political deal which built the aqueduct that brought water from the Owens Valley into the L.A. Basin, allowing millions of Southern Californians to keep their lawns green to this day.

The Mulholland character is "sacrificed" at the altar of greed, embodied by Huston, who secretly buys the San Fernando Valley, knowing that once the water deal is set, it will be incorporated into the city, making him a gazillionaire. It is rather cynical, although nobody suggests the L.A. "city fathers" were boy scouts. The same old theme is that capitalism and American political power are corrupt. To make sure the audience is convinced the corruption is beyond redemption, Huston is in the end found out be an insatiable, incestual monster. He plays the role so well it brings up minds-eye imagery of his real daughter, Angelica. The film is utterly beyond any criticism, regardless of political colorization. For decades, film students and screenwriters have studied it. It spawned an artistic quest to lace the screen with symbols, metaphors, backstory, and twists.

"Chinatown" seems to be the apex of the American film period, the mid-1970s. The period from 1960 to 1979 is unparalleled, but the backstory of the people who created these classics is a telling tale of why the genre leans to the Left. In the 1960s, film schools became popular. Four schools emerged, and have held their place as the place to learn the craft. In Los Angeles there was the USC School of Cinema-Television. Their first big alumnus was "Star Wars" director George Lucas. UCLA combined their film school with their drama program, so as to bring actors, writers, directors and producers together. Coppola went to UCLA along with a future rock star named Jim Morrison, who would form The Doors with another UCLA film alumnus, keyboardist Ray Manzarek.

 

The Godfather DVD Collection DVD ~ Marlon Brando

GREATEST MOVIE EVER, June 7, 2004

"The Godfather" (1972) was a stylized masterpiece. Its auteur director, Coppola, laced it with the subtlest Leftist message that may have avoided the radar of even longtime fans who have seen the film 10 or more times. When interviewed by producer Robert Evans, Coppola said he wanted to make a movie that was a metaphor for capitalism in America. Evans told him what he could do with his metaphors, but Coppola was brilliant and an authentic Italian, a Hollywood rarity at that time. His ethnicity was considered necessary in the making of a Sicilian mob picture.

In the classic Tahoe scene of "Godfather II", Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) tells a Nevada Senator that he is just as corrupt as he is. In the first film Pacino tells Diane Keaton (Kay) that his father is no different than the President, in that they are both powerful men who have other men killed. The "family" is depicted as a corporate empire that must change with the times like a car company, only the stock in trade of the mob was the transition from prohibition booze to heroin (although Michael's goal is eventual "legitimacy"). What gives Coppola's work authentic panache, as opposed to so many heavy-handed liberal messages, is that in "The Godfather(s)", his messages have the ring of truth.

 

All in the Family - The Complete First Season DVD ~ Carroll O'Connor

GROUNDBREAKING, June 7, 2004

TV shows began to veer into social territory in the 1970s, especially "All In the Family". Carroll O'Connor played Archie Bunker, the epitome of everything liberals despise. In turning him into a cartoon character, and also because O'Connor's acting skills were extraordinary, they came close to overshooting their mark and making Bunker more popular than creator Norman Lear, a liberal's liberal, wanted him to be. Since that meant success and riches, however, Bunker was allowed to develop his own little cult of personality. Bunker liked nobody except the Republicans and Nixon. He was a New York construction hardhat, like the ones who cheered Nixon. His venom was directed at blacks, Jews, Puerto Ricans, Orientals, Europeans, Catholics, gays, Democrats, liberals, Communists, and everybody. The assumption was that he was a Protestant of English or Irish origin, but the writers wrote in his complaints for "drunken Irishmen" and "fag Englishmen." His view of God was that if you did not believe in Him you were a Communist, but beyond that little was explained. His son-in-law, Rob Reiner, ate him out of house and home, exasperating Bunker with liberal nostrums. His wife, Edith, was a dunce who did not stand up to him unless the writers decided that night's episode would feature women's rights, but the next time out she was back to her mousy self.

Bunker's "castle" was constantly invaded by a host of blacks, women, Hispanics and other minority-types from the New York "melting pot," all of them smarter than Arch and able to run rings around him intellectually. The only characters outside of Edith who stooped to his low IQ were his dumbass white bowling and lodge pals. The show worked, for one thing, because after years of racial intolerance, white America was ready to loosen up, laugh at themselves, and accept a little affirmative action comedy at their expense. It also worked because Bunker developed a cult status that Lear had not predicted. There were those who agreed with his views, and sitting at home these Joe Six-Packs spent the 1970s yelling, "You tell 'em, Arch."

 

M*A*S*H (Five Star Collection) DVD ~ Donald Sutherland

GOTTA HAND IT TO ALTMAN, GRUDGINGLY, June 7, 2004

At the same time, Robert Altman's "M*A"S*H" came out. It, too found an audience, and truth be told many who enjoyed "Patton" enjoyed "M*A*S*H". It was just plain funny, and the anti-military theme was subtle. Altman walked a brilliant tightrope between a pro-American and unpatriotic premise. There is no doubt that Altman intended it as an anti-Vietnam movie. It was written by former Communist Ring Lardner, Jr. Lardner had been Blacklisted, and this fact featured prominently in the politics of the film's aura. It was based on a sexy paperback novel about surgeons in Korea. The film was set in Korea, yet made every possible attempt to convey the image that it was actually Vietnam. Many of the movie's set pieces were deliberately Vietnamese in nature and costume, for that very purpose. To the extent that it was unpatriotic, it subtly described "regular Army" officers as unyielding, intolerant Christians, utterly blinded by stupid jingoism. The draftees, however, are funny and attractive as they drink and love their way through a bevy of good-looking nurses, all while saving lives in the style of comic Galahads. Altman showed genius as a filmmaker. The movie avoided real controversy because it was just so darn good.

"M*A*S*H" spurred a television show that ran for years. In the 1970s it played for its time and audience. Re-runs, however, strain its credibility beyond Altman's original themes. Two doctors played the "bad guy." The first was a complete buffoon. Frank Burns was prominently identified as a Republican. He is given zero good qualities. He is ugly, a bad doctor, a coward, a racist and all-around mean SOB who cheats on his wife with Major Margaret Hoolihan, who at least is given some character. She is half-Vixen, half-Fascist, naturally Republican, a patriotic American in the "worst way," who worships the idols of war. Over the years the writers gave Margaret a little development. Very little. Burns was replaced by Major Charles Emerson Winchester, a Boston Brahmin, naturally a Republican whose father "knows Truman. He doesn't like him, but he knows him." Winchester, like Hoolihan, is allowed a touch of humanity when the liberal writers felt charitable, but generally was available for all possible bashing. Two hero-doctors anchor the show by showing their intelligence, medical skills and tolerance as direct contrasts to the war effort. The CIA is lampooned, and a military effort that in reality featured MacArthur's Inchon campaign, perhaps the most brilliant invasion in history, is also played as foolish. In the end, the TV show and the film avoid being really and actually unpatriotic because they do feature an emphasis on the basic goodness of the American spirit under stress, but you will not catch me tuned in to those old re-runs(...)

 

M*A*S*H - Season Five (Collector's Edition) DVD ~ Alan Alda

OVERRATED, June 7, 2004

At the same time, Robert Altman's "M*A"S*H" came out. It, too found an audience, and truth be told many who enjoyed "Patton" enjoyed "M*A*S*H". It was just plain funny, and the anti-military theme was subtle. Altman walked a brilliant tightrope between a pro-American and unpatriotic premise. There is no doubt that Altman intended it as an anti-Vietnam movie. It was written by former Communist Ring Lardner, Jr. Lardner had been Blacklisted, and this fact featured prominently in the politics of the film's aura. It was based on a sexy paperback novel about surgeons in Korea. The film was set in Korea, yet made every possible attempt to convey the image that it was actually Vietnam. Many of the movie's set pieces were deliberately Vietnamese in nature and costume, for that very purpose. To the extent that it was unpatriotic, it subtly described "regular Army" officers as unyielding, intolerant Christians, utterly blinded by stupid jingoism. The draftees, however, are funny and attractive as they drink and love their way through a bevy of good-looking nurses, all while saving lives in the style of comic Galahads. Altman showed genius as a filmmaker. The movie avoided real controversy because it was just so darn good.

"M*A*S*H" spurred a television show that ran for years. In the 1970s it played for its time and audience. Re-runs, however, strain its credibility beyond Altman's original themes. Two doctors played the "bad guy." The first was a complete buffoon. Frank Burns was prominently identified as a Republican. He is given zero good qualities. He is ugly, a bad doctor, a coward, a racist and all-around mean SOB who cheats on his wife with Major Margaret Hoolihan, who at least is given some character. She is half-Vixen, half-Fascist, naturally Republican, a patriotic American in the "worst way," who worships the idols of war. Over the years the writers gave Margaret a little development. Very little. Burns was replaced by Major Charles Emerson Winchester, a Boston Brahmin, naturally a Republican whose father "knows Truman. He doesn't like him, but he knows him." Winchester, like Hoolihan, is allowed a touch of humanity when the liberal writers felt charitable, but generally was available for all possible bashing. Two hero-doctors anchor the show by showing their intelligence, medical skills and tolerance as direct contrasts to the war effort. The CIA is lampooned, and a military effort that in reality featured MacArthur's Inchon campaign, perhaps the most brilliant invasion in history, is also played as foolish. In the end, the TV show and the film avoid being really and actually unpatriotic because they do feature an emphasis on the basic goodness of the American spirit under stress, but you will not catch me tuned in to those old re-runs(...)

 

Patton DVD ~ George C. Scott

GREATEST WAR FILM EVER MADE, June 7, 2004

In 1970, two films juxtaposed each other. "Patton" was an unlikely winner of eight Oscars. The pacifist Scott for all practical purposes took his Buck Turgidson character and refined him into the real-life Patton. In interviews, Scott said he found his research of Patton revealed an unbalanced man, but on screen Scott nailed him as the vainglorious, brilliant, driven warmonger he was. Steiger was offered the role first but turned it down because it glorified war. Vietnam was absolutely at its apex. It was very surprising that Hollywood would make such a film at that time. But director Frankin Schaffner had served under Patton, and after making "The Planet of the Apes" had the clout to call his shots. The film did not get America behind the war, but it did cause Nixon to start bombing Cambodia because the Patton story convinced him to get tough. The screenwriter, oddly enough, was Francis Ford Coppola, who may have done himself a turn. Coppola was no war lover, and wrote "Patton" as a man obsessed with war ("God help me, I love it so"), deluded by visions of Napoleonic grandeur mixed with Episcopalian Christianity and karmic reincarnation. The intent may have been to show a psychotic military man, to de-mask his heroism, and this may have been what prompted Scott to play it. From page to screen there are virtually no changes, but if Coppola was trying to put down the military by showing Patton's human warts, the result was a brilliant work that now is one of, if not the most, conservative pictures ever made. Watching "Patton" stirs wonderful pride in two countries (Great Britain is prominent in the film) that were tough enough to stand up to the Nazis when the rest of the world cowered in victimhood. Karl Malden's Omar Bradley is Patton's perfect foil, as is the Bernard Law Montgomery character. The film saved Coppola, who was about to be fired as "The Godfather" director. When he won the Oscar for "Patton", it gave him too much clout to get the axe.

 

The Green Berets DVD ~ John Wayne

THE DUKE HAS THE LEFT TIED IN KNOTS, June 7, 2004

In 1969, John Wayne infuriated the Left with "The Green Berets", a film that made no apologies in its all-out support of America's effort in Vietnam. It was lambasted by critics, but in a very interesting sign, sold out at the box office. It plays today and while it is heavy-handed, there is little about it that rings untrue. The soldiers do not swear, complain or bastardize their uniforms like the actual guys did, but their patriotism and military professionalism was the real deal. The Communists they fight in the film are shifty little pissants. This does not deviate from the essential truth.

 

In the Heat of the Night DVD ~ Sidney Poitier

STEIGER AND POITIER AT THEIR HEIGHTS OF POWER, June 7, 2004

In 1967, Sidney Poitier again stirred the red-necks with "In the Heat of the Night", where he plays Virgil Tibbs, a competent Philadelphia cop stuck overnight in a Mississippi town. It must be 110 degrees at night. The white boys sweat like stuck pigs while Virgil is as cool as a cucumber in a Savoy Row suit. The sheriff, Rod Steiger, is discomfited by circumstances in which Tibbs is "lent" to him to solve a murder that happens to occur when he is there. In working together, layer after layer of characterization is stripped away in marvelous fashion, through the skill of director Norman Jewison (who tells everybody he is not a Jew, he is Methodist), until understanding between the two men become a metaphor for the healing of a divided America. Very good stuff.

 

To Sir, With Love DVD ~ Sidney Poitier

A BEAUTIFUL FILM, June 7, 2004

"To Sir With Love" was a beautiful story about a black teacher, Sidney Poitier, who overcomes racial barriers to teach West London toughs and toughettes the meaning of life. It was, literally, banned in Alabama, which was ruled entirely by...the Democrat party. In 1967, Poitier again stirred the red-necks with "In the Heat of the Night", where he plays Virgil Tibbs, a competent Philadelphia cop stuck overnight in a Mississippi town. It must be 110 degrees at night. The white boys sweat like stuck pigs while Virgil is as cool as a cucumber in a Savoy Row suit. The sheriff, Rod Steiger, is discomfited by circumstances in which Tibbs is "lent" to him to solve a murder that happens to occur when he is there. In working together, layer after layer of characterization is stripped away in marvelous fashion, through the skill of director Norman Jewison (who tells everybody he is not a Jew, he is Methodist), until understanding between the two men become a metaphor for the healing of a divided America. Very good stuff.

 

Fail Safe - Special Edition DVD ~ Dan O'Herlihy

LIBERALISM IN HOLLYWOOD AND A TERRIBLE ENDING, June 7, 2004

In 1965, a serious nuclear movie called "Fail Safe" was released. Henry Fonda is the President. A computer glitch launches The Bomb for the U.S.S.R. Fonda cannot recall it, and apologizes to the Soviet premier. His wife is visiting New York City, and in one of the worst political decisions in Hollywood history, Fonda tells the Soviets that in order to prove to them it was an accident, he will drop a 30-megaton nuclear bomb on the Big Apple! He carries through with his decision, despite his wife's presence there. The Soviets are portrayed as suffering their fate with dignified resolve.

 

Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Special Edition) DVD ~ Peter Sellers

CLASSIC KUBRICK, June 7, 2004

In 1964 the first of the "bomb" movies came out. Kubrick further earned his place in the pantheon of film greats with his all-time classic "black comedy," "Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Love the Bomb". Explaining how a movie that ends in the world obliterated by nuclear (actually hydrogen) holocaust is a comedy leads me to suggest watching it. Only then you will know. The iconoclastic Kubrick made an iconoclastic film starring the extraordinary Peter Sellers in three roles. He plays the President, a lily-livered liberal in the mold of Adlai Stevenson. He plays Mandrake, a British Royal Air Force officer, and he plays Dr. Strangelove, an ex-Nazi scientist based on Werner von Braun, although some of have suggested that they see in the madman Henry Kissinger. Kissinger was not well known when the script by Terry Southern (who later wrote "Easy Rider" but died destitute) was turned in.

The premise is that an Air Force General, Jack Ripper (most of the characters are given descriptive names), played by the Communist bohemian and Sausalito weed smoker Sterling Hayden, goes mad. He is convinced that because water is fluoridated the Communists have conspired to deprive red-blooded Americans of their "essence," their "vital bodily fluids"...their semen. For this obviously stupid (believed only by right wing wackos) reason, Ripper overrides Air Force protocol and orders his nuclear attack wing to bomb Russia back to the stone age. Of course this is meant to show that the military is filled with lunatic fringe elements with their hands on the button. In an interesting bit of terminology, the words Soviet Union are never uttered, only Russia, presumably to "humanize" all those agrarian reformers. Thought I hadn't caught that, huh? Anyway, real-life pacifist George C. Scott, playing General Buck Turgidson, discovers Ripper's plan. He is another Curt LeMay take-off, bombastic and filled to the brim with sexual testosterone that seemingly can only be released by his bikini-clad girl Friday, or by bombing the Russkies to smithereens.

A plan is hatched to inform the Communists how to shoot down the wing, in order to prevent nuclear holocaust. Turgidson thinks that is a terrible idea and that as long as the boys are on their way, they should drop their payload on the bastards. The Russian Ambassador, however, puts a crimp in those plans by informing the President that this would set off a Doomsday Machine, guaranteed to destroy all life on Earth. Turgidson laments the fact that there is a "gap" between the Soviet possession of such a device, which the Americans lack, no doubt due to liberal malfeasance. Forced by the Doomsday scenario to avoid holocaust, the Americans and Russians work together to shoot down all the U.S. planes, save one. Meanwhile, Ripper kills himself and his aide de camp, Mandrake/Sellers, discovers the recall code. But the last plane, piloted by good ol' boy Slim Pickens, is as Turgidson/Scott describes, wily enough to evade radar, while damage from a heat-seeking missile has rendered it unable to receive the recall. They make their run. Pickens makes his cowboy speech about going "toe to toe, nuclear combat with the Russkies" and emphasizes the crew, including a young James Earl Jones, is due commendations "regardless of race, color or creed." With Pickens personally releasing and riding his bomb into a Valhallic destiny, the deed is done, leaving the Doomsday shroud to envelop the Earth. All is not lost, however, because Dr. Strangelove/Sellers, messianically saluting the President as "mein Fuhrer," describes how mineshafts can be converted into underground government societies for the next 100 years. The boys all smile when Strangelove says that in order to further the human race through procreation, many more attractive women than men would have to be recruited to do "prodigious sexual work." Unfortunately, monogamy would have to be a thing of the past. The end.

"Dr. Strangelove" may be one of the 10 greatest movie ever made, but its comic message was clear: The military is not to be trusted, nuclear weapons serve no good purpose, and the Soviets are likely to be victims of our aggression. Like a number of movies, however, its political message is stilted. Reagan said it was his favorite(...)

 

The Ugly American DVD ~ Marlon Brando

A PRESCIENT DRAMA, June 7, 2004

Marlon Brando starred in "The Ugly American", which despite its title was not liberal, but proved to be prescient. It was loosely based on the friendship developed between an American fighter pilot, shot down and fighting with guerillas, and Ho Chi Minh, who was fighting the Japanese during World War II. Marlon, the former pilot-turned-PR-executive, is named ambassador to a small Southeast Asian nation modeled on Indochina. The reason he is appointed is because of his friendship with a populist leader there who the U.S. fears may be a Communist. Brando assures them the man is not one, but when he gets there he discovers the man is. Their friendship turns into mortal enmity, and America's largesse, goodwill and social conscience are thrown back at us by savage mobs roiled by Marxist ideology. The final scene shows a press conference detailing the crisis, with a businessman changing the channel on his TV to show American indifference to the world's crises. Considering what happened in Vietnam over the next years, it proved to be a real cautionary tale.

 

Seven Days in May DVD ~ Burt Lancaster

GREAT POLITICAL THRILLER, June 7, 2004

One year after "The Manchurian Candidate", John Frankenheimer was back at it with "Seven Days in May", screenwritten by "Twi-Light Zone" creator Rod Serling. Serling's "Zone's" were a masterpiece of semi-liberal social conscience. Frankenheimer seized on another 1950s novel based on the real events of 1934, in which Republican industrialists recruited Marine hero Smedley Butler to orchestrate a coup d'etat against FDR. The novel and Frankenheimer's film fictionalize the event. It was, again, one of the best movies ever made, but completely liberal. Frankly, I have to ask why in 1963 the decision was made to examine a political conspiracy from 1934 when the worst political crime in U.S. history, the stealing of the 1960 election by Kennedy over Nixon, had occurred just three years prior. The answer to that question, my friend, is blowin' in the wind.

After JFK's assassination, "The Manchurian Candidate" was pulled because it hit too close to home, but in June, 1968 RFK was staying at Frankenheimer's Malibu home the night of the California Primary. He was tired and wanted to stay there. The enthusiasm of his victory that night convinced him to make the long drive on a twisting, turning Pacific Coast Highway, up the Santa Monica Freeway to downtown Los Angeles, where Sirhan Sirhan was waiting for him with a gun at the Ambassador Hotel.

Kirk Douglas is the Butler character In "Seven Days In May", an upright Marine whose politics are explained early by a fellow officer who says to him, "I though you'd be an ACLU lawyer by now, protecting the great unwashed." Douglas describes this officer as the kind who would be better suited for an army that goosesteps. Good dialogue, though. Burt Lancaster is the right wing Air Force General and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He is modeled after Curtis LeMay, although the Lancaster swagger and charisma make him far more appealing. Frederick March is President Jordan Lyman, an ardent liberal who has just signed a peace treaty with the Soviets that presumably dismantles much of our nuclear arsenal. Lancaster does not trust the Soviet will honor their end of the bargain. Therefore he is convinced they will strike and America will be lost. A U.S. Senator is in on Lancaster's plot to take over the Presidency. They make him from California just to make sure he is affiliated with Dick Nixon. Nice touch. The public is solidly against the President, fueled by a right wing radio host in a prescient script device. In the end, the "protector of the great unwashed," Douglas, foils the plot and March's speech to the D.C. press corps is met by a standing ovation. Oh, those evil militarists and Republicans.

 

The Manchurian Candidate DVD ~ Frank Sinatra

ANTI-COMMUNIST OR NOT ANTI-COMMUNIST?, June 6, 2004

In 1962, John Frankenheimer made "The Manchurian Candidate", which starred and was produced by Frank Sinatra. The film has alternately been described anti-Communist by some, not so by others, including Frankenheimer, who was (ironically as I shall demonstrate) a close friend of Robert Kennedy's. RFK was his guest the last night of his life. Based on a 1950s novel, the film shows an Army unit in Korea, captured by the Communists, and made to endure "brainwashing" techniques, which they cannot remember except in their sleep. Lawrence Harvey wins a Congressional Medal of Honor for actions that in reality never happened, but were programmed into the mind of the unit. He is the son of a Hillary Clinton-type dragon lady, played to perfection by Angela Lansbury. Her husband, his stepfather, is Senator Johnny Iselin, a McCarthy figure. The political affiliation is a little fuzzy, but it can be assumed he is a Republican, although another Senator is viewed as an ACLU liberal, yet still a member of Iselin's party (?).

The Iselin (McCarthy) character is depicted as a buffoon and a drunkard with no redeeming qualities. He makes scurrilous accusations about Communists in the government with no proof, and when asked to name how many, arrives at the random number "52" because of an available bottle of Heinz 52 catsup. It is without a doubt a classic film, and to its credit the Communists are shown to be bloodthirsty animals. There is some confusion because Lansbury and her husband are right wing ideologues, except that it turns out Lansbury is a Communist spy, using the cover of the right to plan the assassination of a Presidential candidate. The idea is for Iselin (who is unaware of his wife's espionage?) to become President. Presumably somebody like McCarthy in the White House is the worst possible scenario for America, and plays into Moscow's hands. The shooting is to be carried out by her son, Harvey, but Sinatra gums up the works by figuring out how he was brainwashed, and catastrophe is averted in the end.

 

Spartacus DVD ~ Kirk Douglas

THIS FILM ENDED THE BLACKLIST, June 6, 2004

1960 was the "official" end of the Blacklist. A young director named Stanley Kubrick had made a brilliant movie about military justice, "Paths to Glory", starring Kirk Douglas in 1958. In 1960, he directed the classic, "Spartacus". "Spartacus" starred Douglas as a slave of the Roman Empire, depicting his deadly rivalry with the Roman General Crassus (played to perfection by Laurence Olivier). The film was rife with social message. The slaves who rise up against their Roman oppressors are metaphors for the working class, especially minorities, rising up against white oppression. One black slave, played by ex-football star Woody Strode, gives his life so Spartacus can live. The fact that he was black was well calculated. Dalton Trumbo, a former Communist, wrote "Spartacus". He penned it under an assumed name because he was still Blacklisted. When it came time to edit the film for release, Douglas, a huge star and its producer, made the decision to list Trumbo as the writer. His power and the film's success combined with this act ended the Blacklist. In a notorious scene that was cut from the original but has since been restored, a slave named Antoninus (Tony Curtis) bathes Crassus/Olivier. Strange wordplay about a preference between snails and oysters at first seems irrelevant until one realizes it is Trumbo's effort to introduce a homosexual theme to the story, using snails and oysters as metaphors for straight and gay love. Isn't that special?

 

Advise and Consent by Allen Drury

POLITICS AS THEATRE, June 6, 2004

Based on a great novel by Allen Drury, "Advise and Consent" was a 1950s film that holds up today as one of the best political movies ever. It revolves around the nomination of Henry Fonda to be Secretary of State. The fictional account portrays Fonda, based on Alger Hiss, and his nomination raises a huge hullabaloo. In Hollywood's perfect world, Hiss/Fonda is not convicted, and a bungling Burgess Meredith plays the Whittaker Chambers character. Instead of using his Christian resolve to uncover the Truth via his "pumpkin papers," he is discredited as a liar. It also offers an insidious plot to blackmail a bi-curious Republican Senator. It is good stuff, but definitely political revisionism.

 

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington DVD ~ Jean Arthur

THE LAST "CONSERVATIVE" MOVIE?, June 6, 2004

In 1939, Frank Capra made "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington", starring Jimmy Stewart. I have sources that tell me a film was made 10 years later that depicted the Republican as a good guy, but I could not verify it. To the best of my knowledge, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" is the last big screen film in which the Democrat was the bad guy, and even then it is only inferred. In Capra's classic, a Midwestern political machine based on the corrupt Democrat organization in Kansas City that Harry Truman rose to power in, is exposed by an idealistic young Senator (Stewart). Claude Rains plays the Truman character. He looked just like him, and in end gives a Senate floor mea culpa of his complicity with Democrat crimes, which is highly, precisely and to quintessential effect the same one "Give 'em hell Harry" should have given, but never did. All is not lost for the Democrats, however, because Stewart is still a Democrat, and the hope for the future. In reality, the Democrats just got more corrupt, and Hollywood would be their willing ally.

 

How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life by Peter Robinson

REAGAN DIDN'T JUST CHANGE LIVES, HE SAVED 'EM, June 6, 2004

THE REAGAN THEORY

Why do I think Ronald Reagan was the greatest President of the 20th Century, on par with George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt? Aside from his good character, his economic triumphs and patriotism, it comes down to a theory that I came up with after hearing Margaret Thatcher say he won the Cold War "without firing a shot." First, it entails an analysis of World War II, in which some 50 to 60 million people died, yet the world says it was worth it to defeat Hitler and Japan. This leads to my theory, which is based on the unfought World War III. Say this struggle was fought between freedom, led by the U.S., and Communism, led by the U.S.S.R., between 1983 and 1989. Say that during this period, 50 to 60 million people died, and the world was caught up in an Apocalypse just as terrible as the one fought in the 1940s. Say that, through better technology, leadership, military doctrine, and with the help of God, the U.S. wins World War III. Say further that the political fallout of the war is exactly and precisecly that with which actually happened in 1989-91. I say that had it happened this way, the world would again say it was worth it, to defeat Communism. Reagan did it without firing a shot, and this is why I love him so much. Furthermore, in an ironic twist, Bill Clinton owes much of his success to Reagan. The Republicans were victims of their own success in 1992. Having defeated Communism, the Military Industrial Complex came to a standstill, causing the brief economic downturn that cost George Bush his re-election. This in turn led to the Cold War dividend in which all those smart defense techies fueled the Internet revolution. Clinton, presiding over a world made peaceful by Reagan-Bush policies, his feet held to the fire by a Republican Congress bent on maintaining Reagan's economic principles, takes credit (and some of it rightly so) for a period of huge expansion of the economy.

 

Reagan: A Life in Letters by Kiron K. Skinner (Editor), et al

11 of 16 people found the following review helpful:

THE GREATEST PRESIDENT OF THE 20TH CENTURY, June 6, 2004

THE REAGAN THEORY

Why do I think Ronald Reagan was the greatest President of the 20th Century, on par with George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt? Aside from his good character, his economic triumphs and patriotism, it comes down to a theory that I came up with after hearing Margaret Thatcher say he won the Cold War "without firing a shot." First, it entails an analysis of World War II, in which some 50 to 60 million people died, yet the world says it was worth it to defeat Hitler and Japan. This leads to my theory, which is based on the unfought World War III. Say this struggle was fought between freedom, led by the U.S., and Communism, led by the U.S.S.R., between 1983 and 1989. Say that during this period, 50 to 60 million people died, and the world was caught up in an Apocalypse just as terrible as the one fought in the 1940s. Say that, through better technology, leadership, military doctrine, and with the help of God, the U.S. wins World War III. Say further that the political fallout of the war is exactly and precisecly that with which actually happened in 1989-91. I say that had it happened this way, the world would again say it was worth it, to defeat Communism. Reagan did it without firing a shot, and this is why I love him so much. Furthermore, in an ironic twist, Bill Clinton owes much of his success to Reagan. The Republicans were victims of their own success in 1992. Having defeated Communism, the Military Industrial Complex came to a standstill, causing the brief economic downturn that cost George Bush his re-election. This in turn led to the Cold War dividend in which all those smart defense techies fueled the Internet revolution. Clinton, presiding over a world made peaceful by Reagan-Bush policies, his feet held to the fire by a Republican Congress bent on maintaining Reagan's economic principles, takes credit (and some of it rightly so) for a period of huge expansion of the economy.

 

President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime by Lou Cannon

WHY I LOVE REAGAN, June 6, 2004

THE REAGAN THEORY

Why do I think Ronald Reagan was the greatest President of the 20th Century, on par with George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt? Aside from his good character, his economic triumphs and patriotism, it comes down to a theory that I came up with after hearing Margaret Thatcher say he won the Cold War "without firing a shot." First, it entails an analysis of World War II, in which some 50 to 60 million people died, yet the world says it was worth it to defeat Hitler and Japan. This leads to my theory, which is based on the unfought World War III. Say this struggle was fought between freedom, led by the U.S., and Communism, led by the U.S.S.R., between 1983 and 1989. Say that during this period, 50 to 60 million people died, and the world was caught up in an Apocalypse just as terrible as the one fought in the 1940s. Say that, through better technology, leadership, military doctrine, and with the help of God, the U.S. wins World War III. Say further that the political fallout of the war is exactly and precisecly that with which actually happened in 1989-91. I say that had it happened this way, the world would again say it was worth it, to defeat Communism. Reagan did it without firing a shot, and this is why I love him so much. Furthermore, in an ironic twist, Bill Clinton owes much of his success to Reagan. The Republicans were victims of their own success in 1992. Having defeated Communism, the Military Industrial Complex came to a standstill, causing the brief economic downturn that cost George Bush his re-election. This in turn led to the Cold War dividend in which all those smart defense techies fueled the Internet revolution. Clinton, presiding over a world made peaceful by Reagan-Bush policies, his feet held to the fire by a Republican Congress bent on maintaining Reagan's economic principles, takes credit (and some of it rightly so) for a period of huge expansion of the economy.

 

Ronald Reagan: An American Life by Ronald Reagan

THE REAGAN THEORY, June 6, 2004

Why do I think Ronald Reagan was the greatest President of the 20th Century, on par with George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt? Aside from his good character, his economic triumphs and patriotism, it comes down to a theory that I came up with after hearing Margaret Thatcher say he won the Cold War "without firing a shot." First, it entails an analysis of World War II, in which some 50 to 60 million people died, yet the world says it was worth it to defeat Hitler and Japan. This leads to my theory, which is based on the unfought World War III. Say this struggle was fought between freedom, led by the U.S., and Communism, led by the U.S.S.R., between 1983 and 1989. Say that during this period, 50 to 60 million people died, and the world was caught up in an Apocalypse just as terrible as the one fought in the 1940s. Say that, through better technology, leadership, military doctrine, and with the help of God, the U.S. wins World War III. Say further that the political fallout of the war is exactly and precisecly that with which actually happened in 1989-91. I say that had it happened this way, the world would again say it was worth it, to defeat Communism. Reagan did it without firing a shot, and this is why I love him so much. Furthermore, in an ironic twist, Bill Clinton owes much of his success to Reagan. The Republicans were victims of their own success in 1992. Having defeated Communism, the Military Industrial Complex came to a standstill, causing the brief economic downturn that cost George Bush his re-election. This in turn led to the Cold War dividend in which all those smart defense techies fueled the Internet revolution. Clinton, presiding over a world made peaceful by Reagan-Bush policies, his feet held to the fire by a Republican Congress bent on maintaining Reagan's economic principles, takes credit (and some of it rightly so) for a period of huge expansion of the economy.

 

Gulag : A History by ANNE APPLEBAUM

THOSE WHO DO NOT REMEMBER HISTORY ARE DOOMED TO RE-LIVE IT, June 5, 2004

When American G.I.s arrived at German concentration camps at the end of World War II, Dwight Eisenmhpower ordered camera crews to capture all of it. He said that if not, nobody would believe it, and it would not be remembered. Thus, the Holocaust is memorialized and detailed for history.

Jewish Nazi hunters echo the cry, "Never again," but alas, history does repeat itself. Some might even say it rhymes. International Communism is responsible for the murder of 100 million human beings in roughly 72 years, in the U.S.S.R., China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Cuba, East Germany and throughout the Warsaw Pact countries. 12 million died in the Holocaust, 50-60 million in WWII.

Then there are the genocides in Rwanda, Congo, by Idi Amin and other despots, and it all just keeps comin'. Absent camera crews like the ones Ike ordered turned on, it just flies right past our radar. Somehow, Communism is this dinosaur of the Cold War. To call somebody a Communist just has no real bite anymore, whereas to call somebody a Nazi is the worst insult. If we do not wake up and understand that evil exists, then we are doomed to just re-live it over and over again. Until it rhymes.

This a great book that makes the attempt to turn the light of Truth on some of the worst crimes ever committed, but I am afraid it is only read by those, like me, who already know about it. We must reach the apathetic and the young. Satan's best strategy is to foil these efforts and keep us stupid.

 

Yankees: Where Have You Gone? by Maury Allen

MAURY ALLEN IS A NATIONAL TREASURE, June 3, 2004

Now that Jim Murray and Leonard Koppett are gone, Maury Allen may be the greatest literary link to our storied sports past. The man is a treasure. He has more first-hand knowledge of great sporting events of the past 50 years than any single writer, and this latest book is just another example of a terrific scribe at work. Bravo!

 

Red Sox vs. Yankees: The Great Rivalry by Harvey Frommer, Frederic Frommer

GREAT RIVALRY IN THE STANDS, NOT ON THE FIELD, June 3, 2004

The Yankee-Red Sox rivalry is a huge big deal for fans of both teams. There may be more passion expended on these two storied franchises than any teams in sports, but there is no real rivalry on the field. To put this into political terms, the Yankees are the British and the Red Sox are the IRA. There is no real comparison. However, it's all good fun and the book is well written.

 

Stupid White Men ...and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation! by Michael Moore

IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE, June 1, 2004

The double standard of Political Correctness may have some validity insofar as it is a response to past injustices, mostly of the racial variety, but for Michael Moore to title his book "Stupid White Men" leaves him open, in my view, to as much criticism as I would rightly receive had I written a book called "Dumbellionite Negroes". The easy put-down of Moore is to say something like, "It takes one to know one," but in all fairness, Moore is not stupid. Furthermore, conservatives such as myself love to tout the "marketplace of ideas," because it is in this free discourse of Democracy where we succeed, whether it be talk radio, best selling books, Fox News, the rising tide of country music vs. Hollywood's recent failures, or the simple fact that Republicans now dominate the White House, the Congress, the Senate, governorships and state legislatures. We must begrudgingly accept the fact, however, that Moore is the exception to this rule. He succeeds. He is rich. He is popular. Therefore, to dispute him requires some intellectuial honesty.

In the bad old days, the bigots might call Moore a "traitor to his race." More appropriately, he might be considered a traitor to his class, because his arguments seem based on a refutation of the middle class system that many of us strongly believe makes America great, and we assume it is this "class" from which Moore emerges from. What we think makes America great is something Moore thinks is lousy. Does this make him anti-American and unpatriotic? Again, to say so is the easy way out.

The best way to dispute Moore is not to put him down, but to make an honest argument on behalf of America. To put things in sports terms, think of him as a guy who grows up in New York City and hates the Yankees. He has access to all the information about how the Yankees are the greatest dynasty in sports history, and is surrounded by admirers and fanatics of the team, yet he chooses to hate what represents him.

Moore emerges from what I call the "Emma Goldman school of anarchy." In the old days, guys like Moore would be dismissed as Communists and Socialists. Now that Communism has been defeated, most people do not even remember much about the ideology responsible for the murder of 100 million human beings in roughly 72 years. Calling somebody a Communist has little effect any more. So the Moore's of this world can no longer find comfort in Moscow. They no longer carry posters of Chairman Mao. What they are left with is a vague hatred for the winners, the powerful, the champions of history. In essence, the winners of history are America and Christianity. Anarchism, as espoused by Emma Goldman during World War I, is a mindset that never really goes away. In a free country it is free to be voiced, and Moore voices it.

As for America's role in the world, we have little choice but to lead. America is the most powerful empire in the history of Mankind. What some call the "shifting sands" under our power is in fact our most legitimate strength, which is Democracy. The barbs, complaints and open criticisms of America are our greatest accompolishments, the most obvious examples of how we do it better and cleaner than any previous power. Imagine, for instance, a U.N. demanding an investigation into the Roman Empire's crucifixion of the Rabbi Christ; or demands on the floor of the U.N. for Britain to leave India circa 1890.

Which brings us back to Michael Moore. Moore has access to all the information that tells anybody willing to accede to the slightest version of Truth that America is the greatest nation ever conceived by God, yet he chooses only to criticize it. In the end, his criticisms make the U.S. stronger, because the fact that he is wrong yet still free as a bird to publicly be wrong becomes known to all, thus giving America greater legitimacy through a constant "trial by fire." Still, Moore deserves some judgment. What it comes down to is that he says things that are not true, while surely he possesses enough education and access to Truth to know they are not true. There is a word for this, and the fact that this word applies to Moore is knowledge we possess.

 

The 2004 Bill James Handbook (2003 statistics) by Bill James

INSIDE BASEBALL AT ITS BEST, May 25, 2004

Bill James started out as a wacky guy who saw baseball differently from the so-called "experts." Today, those experts refer to his theories and expound beyond them. He demonstrates that it is much better to think baseball through than to chew tobacco and say things like, "Don't think, you can only hurt the ball club," which is what Rod Dedeaux used to say when I was at USC. Baseball is best approached the same way marketing, science or politics is approached - using numbers and stats, mixing experience with experiment.

 

The Official Handbook of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy by Mark W. Smith

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WHO THE VAST RIGHT WING CONSPIRACY CONSISTS OF, May 22, 2004

The vast right wing conspiracy consists of millions of patriotic American citizens who register and vote. They might also be called the Christian Coalition, the Silent Majority, or the people not invited to cocktail parties hosted by Pauline Kael.

 

Slander : Liberal Lies About the American Right by ANN COULTER

LIBERAL MEDIA BIAS IS AN ESTABLISHED FACT, May 22, 2004

The fact that the media is liberally biased against the right is simply that with which is established fact, and this fact is known by those who are honest, able to read, and have access to information. To deny it is tantamount to saying, for instance, "California is not a State in the Union," or "America did not win the Revolutionary War."

 

High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton by Ann Coulter

THERE IS MORE TO THE CLINTONS THAN BREAKING THE LAW, May 22, 2004

In light of the fact that Bill Clinton wants to be Secretary-General of a more powerful U.N. while Hillary Clinton is in an "internationalized" White House, one is struck by the uncomfortable notion that the battle of Good vs. Evil is not relegated strictly to the War on Terrorism. There may be a reason why a real Christian like George Bush is President. Are we facing a confrontation between supernatural forces, an Apocalypse? If so, are the Clintons part of it or are conservative Christians just ranting about nothing? Do we really want to set us ourselves up for the worst? America - the world - beware of the Clintons. Do not give them power.

 

The Case Against Hillary Clinton by Peggy Noonan

BILL IN THE U.N., HILLARY IN THE WHITE HOUSE, May 22, 2004

Hillary Clinton is very smart. Too smart. She makes few mistakes, and leaves little room for conservatives to pick apart her Senate voting record as liberal. The Clintons have always known how to erase their paper trail, which is why they got away with Whitewater, Mena, drug-smuggling, the killing of their rivals and witnesses, and other bad acts. Now we are faced with the prospect of their return to power, only this time their power will make the Bill Clinton Presidency look like nothing. Bill wants to be Secretary-General of a U.N. infused with greater international power in light of American unpopularity, which the Clintons are delighted about. Imagine Bill in charge of the U.N. and Hillary in the White House. This is a scenario that should make people become religious, because if it happens, God alone can help us!

 

Hillary's Scheme : Inside the Next Clinton's Ruthless Agenda to Take the White House by CARL LIMBACHER

THE BILL CLINTON PRESIDENCY WAS JUST A PRELUDE, May 22, 2004

The Bill Clinton Presidency was just a warm-up, a prelude, to a greater disaster. Imagine if you will (as Rod Serling would say in a "Twi-Light Zone" episode) a world in which the U.S. has been weakened, giving greater power to the U.N., led by a new Secretary-General named Bill Clinton, in league with President Hillary Clinton. This creates in the mind of good people some kind of evil cabal beyond mere power, bad policy or other Earthly ruminations. Now you are talking about a scenario that favors Dark Forces. This is the kind of thing the Evil One would do. The question then is whether the Clintons are part of the Evil One's plan, knowingly or unknowingly. Is this a question we really want to get the definitive answer to? America - and the world - be warned: Do not give these people the power they crave!

 

Misunderestimated: The President Battles Terrorism, John Kerry, and the Bush Haters by

BUSH IS OKAY BY ME, May 21, 2004

George W. Bush is not highly eloquent nor perfect. But he is honest, bold, backs up what he says, is not afraid to use American strength in a very real battle between good and evil, and he is Christian. That goes a long, long way by me, pardner.

STEVEN TRAVERS

 

Arrogance: Rescuing America From the Media Elite by Bernard Goldberg

EVERYBODY KNOWS THE MEDIA IS LIBERAL, May 21, 2004

The fact that the Western news media is liberal and biased in favor of Democrats is simply factual knowledge possesed by millions of Americans who can read, have access to information, and care to analyze it honestly.

What is less known is that the liberal media helps Republicans. How? Over time, so many people have developed factual knowledge of liberal bias, and see that it is a bad thing, that they favor the right. Republicans have always won the White House, and now they win the Congress, the Senate, governorships, and state legislatures. As irritating as it is to hear, Republican media strategists should just let the Left keep lying, at such time as voters make note of these lies and back the GOP as a result. The Left is so bullheaded and full of itself that they do not see this reality, and apparently will not learn any lesons from their repeated mistakes.

During the Clinton years, there was a marginal swing towards moderation, caused by a combination of conservative talk radio, Fox News, and the Clinton scandals that could not be ignored. During the 2000 election, the Leftist media actually played it fairer than usual, which helped George W. Bush. After 9/11, they swung even further towards the middle, actually rooting for America, but since the Iraq War the media has become more hateful towards the right than any time since Ronald Reagan, or perhaps Nixon.

Despite all this noise, the GOP will gain in every seat of political power in November. The Left will look at all its efforts and wonder where it all went wrong, just as the New York Times' Pauline Kael declared after Richard Nixon won 49 states and 62 percent in 1972, "How did he win? I don't anybody who voted for him."

Call conservatives what you want - the Christian Coalition, the Silent Majority, the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy - but they remain and shall continue to be millions of patriotic American citizens who register and vote, and they are not found at the same cocktail parties with Pauline Kael.

 

Rewriting History by Dick Morris

THE CLINTONS CAUSE A VISCERAL REACTION AMONG CONSERVATIVES, May 21, 2004

There are very few, if any, liberals who cause the kind of visceral dislike of them that the Clintons engender. Teddy Kennedy, for instance, is despised for his views and his unimpressive lifestyle, but the Clintons are even more despised. There is no way of proving this or making real sense of it, but one theory is that, like Kennedy's father, Joseph, the Clintons might not just be power hungry and bad for America, but actually bad in the most primal sense. It is hard to believe that the anti-Christ is an American, but when one looks hard at the faces of Bill and Hillary Clinton they see something dishonest, scheming and unrighteous that goes beyond the usual political machinations. America, watch out for these people.

 

Deliver Us from Evil : Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism by Sean Hannity

CONSERVATISM IS THE WINNING IDEOLOGY OF HISTORY, May 21, 2004

Sean Hannity is one of the leading voices of American conservatism at a time in which this ideology is at its height. Hannity represents the straightforward, mainstream conservatism of the 2000s, which is quite open, honest, engaging and accepting. Their is a sense of triumphalism or righteousnes to Hannity's message, which at its core comes from the fact that, after 2000 years of modern history, conservatism (in conjunction with Christianity) is the winning ideology of Mankind.

Even though Hannity is not from the South, he loves country music and is popular with that crowd. This is a very telling development, and speaks to the New South in a positive way. There was a time when Southerners would dismiss Hannity as a "damn Yankee," but the fact that Hannity is popular with them is a sign that, over the past 30 years, the South has probably made greater positive strides and improvements than any people or region on Earth in the past century. This I say despite arguments that Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan are now Democratic, but they "accomplished" this only after we defeated them and "forced" them to.

The South, on the other hand, voluntarily changed its ways, and it is conservative Republicanism, of the kind Hannity represents, that husbanded this monumental sea change in American poilitics.

 

Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth's Last Days (Left Behind No. 1) by Tim Lahaye, Jerry B. Jenkins

I'M NOT GONNA ARGUE AGAINST THIS BOOK!, May 21, 2004

The "Left Behind" series has not become one of the most successful best sellers in history because Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins are great writers, or even because it has a superb plot. They would probably be the first to admit that they just managed to tap into the fact that Christianity is what billions of people throughout history have thirsted for, and because those of us who believe (as I freely choose to do) that God makes all things possible. Apocalypse may happen, it may or may not happen in my lifetime. I am not going to argue against the concept. I choose to believe and to hope that my belief and my soul, despite my numerous sins, will be rewarded by Christ's salvation.

There is good and evil in this world, and they are constantly battling each other. These battles manifest themselves through wars, politics, the media, hi-jacked religions, slavery, terrorism and the very essence of Satan's method, which is to get good people to do bad things.

It is amazing to me how many people refuse to acknowledge the Truth about God, Christ, Satan and the universe, despite what is presented to us every day. The way Nicolae mesmerizes people in the book hits home, and reminds me of my theory that many successful people in Hollywood, rock music, or other endeavors of fame and fortune very possibly made deals with the devil, and their achievements are a result of their Faustian bargains.

 

Passion: Photography from the Movie the Passion of the Christ by Mel Gibson (Foreword), Ken Duncan

JESUS IS LORD, May 21, 2004

"The Passion of the Christ" affirmed for me the essential Truth of my life, which is that Jesus Christ is Lord. With free will I do make the choice and proclaim in any and all ways for all to know that I believe in Him, I reject Satan and all his works, Jesus died for my sins, and that I am a terrible sinner whose salvation can only come about through the forgiveness of Christ.

 

Peace of My Mind by Charlie Sheen

KUDOS, CHARLIE, May 21, 2004

Charlie wrote the foreword to my biography of "Barry Bonds: Baseball's Superman". I finally got around to reading "Peace of My Mind", and found it witty, irreverent and humorous. Good job and I dig your work, man.

 

Roger & Me DVD ~ Michael Moore (II)

DOES ONE PERCENT OF TRUTH MAKE SOMETHING 100 PERCENT TRUE?, May 21, 2004

Michael Moore takes some facts and makes documentaries in which some small percentage of what he says is true, and mixes that with a huge portion of lies. Does this make the sum of the whole True? Answer: No.

This is the preferred method of con artists, who desire to use truth to build their larger lies. This is the identified method of Michael Moore, and the fact that this is his method is that with which is known by me and millions of humans capable of reading and analyzing information.

 

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right by Al Franken

NO, May 21, 2004

The question is, Does Al Franken speak the Truth? Upon analysis and conclusion, the answer to this question is: No!

 

A National Party No More: The Conscience of a Conservative Democrat by Zell Miller

A PATRIOTIC DEMOCRAT IS PRETTY RARE THESE DAYS, May 12, 2004

Zell Miller is an American patriot. It is wrong to say that the Democrat party is unpatriotic, because Miller represents the best this old party has to offer. However, slowly but surely, they have been overtaken by a Leftist slant, led by Ted Kennedy, that is shameful. If I were Miller I would be disgusted, which he apparently is.

 

 

Shut Up and Sing: How Elites from Hollywood, Politics, and the UN are Subverting America by Laura Ingraham

HOLLYWOOD DOES NOT GET IT AND APPARENTLY NEVER WILL, May 12, 2004

This book gets to an important point, which is that Hollywood is totally liberal, unable to shake itself from this malaise, and loses power because their liberalism creates a loss of credibility. The Hollywood Left is part of the dominant media culture, all of which is liberal. This includes the world of cinema, television, network news, major newspapers and magazines. At one time they controlled all the media this nation heard and saw, which is why somebody like Walter Cronkite was so "trusted." There were no alternatives to Cronkite. Today the right has a niche, which includes talk radio, country music and a few newspapers and magazines. Fox News is not conservative, but because it is fair and actually roots for America, it seems conservative in comparison to its counterparts. Wherever conservative and patriotic media go head to head with the Left, conservativism and patriotism win. Hollywood loses power. Their movies have less influence, the Oscars get lousy ratings, and people mock their most outspoken anti-Americanism.

Hollywood does not learn from "The Passion of the Christ" or even "Saving Private Ryan". If they produced outright conservative films they would be enormous successes. There is a huge audience of conservatives who do not pay to see movies because they are tired of the old liberal slant. For instance, if Hollywood ever did a film that depicted, for one instance, how John Kennedy stole the 1960 election from Richard Nixon; or perhaps a story about a Democrat politicican who has rivals and witneses to his crimes murdered a la a certain Arkansas politician - conservative word of mouth would spread like wildfire.

How come we never see movies that depict the murder of 100 million human beings under Communism? We see plenty of Nazi and Holocaust movies, which is fine, but Communism was just as bad and even more deadly. Could it be because the Communists were embedded in the Democrat party until McCarthyism rooted them out? Could it be because down deep, many liberals like Communism, they just think it was a good idea gone wrong? A movie like "Schindler's List" set in the Soviet Gulags could be just as powerful. The Left cannot admit how awful Communism was because they gave aid and comfort to Communism during the Vietnam War. Now they are more liberal than ever? Why? Because Communism has been defeated and forgotten by the average citizen. Liberals no longer have to worry about being associated with it. There are, however, those of us who read and remember who know the facts about these people.

Now we are engaged in the War on Terrorism. The Left is slowly but surely gravitating to the terrorists because they no longer have Communism to admire any more. They hate American power and success, so they find themselves increasingly opposing America and admiring those who hate us.

 

Who's Looking Out for You? by BILL O'REILLY

FAIR AND BALANCED, May 12, 2004

The Left accuses Bill O'Reilly of being a conservative hack who does not tell the truth. An honest appraisal of O'Reilly reveals the amazing hypocrisy of liberals. O'Reilly is honest and fair. He is conservative, but he lets the chips fall where they may. He goes out of his way to stay even on issues. His Leftist counterparts could take lessons in accountability and credibility from O'Reilly. The fact that they continue to see him as being untruthful is, in this reviewer's personal opinion, an example of how they are so blinded by their loss of power in modern Anmerican society that they cannot deal with reality.

 

Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton by Barbara Olson

WHY THE RIGHT GOES AFTER THE CLINTONS, May 12, 2004

The right does not go after the Clintons because Bill lied about Monica Lewinsky. They go after them because they think they may have ordered the murder of Vince Foster. They go after them because kids were murdered on railroad tracks in Mena, Arkansas because they may have witnessed their drug-running operation there in the 1980s. They go after them because there is a list of between 50 and 100 people mysteriously killed, all of whom knew the Clintons and had knowledge of their activities. These people were generally young and in good health. Did they all die by accident? To quote Shakespeare, "There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than can be dreamt of in your philosophy." In other words, it is possible they all were killed by means other than the Clintons' ordering their deaths, but it is so far from possible as to be very close to being, for all practical purposes, that with which is impossible. Bodyguards, witneses, drug buddies, state troopers, kids, etc. Dead. If the Clintons are responsible for some or all of their deaths, they got away with all of it. THAT is why the right goes after the Clintons. If I go missing, look in Ft. Marcy Park.

 

The Giants and the Dodgers: Four Cities, Two Teams, One Rivalry by Andrew Goldblatt

SPORTS GREATEST RIVALRY?, May 11, 2004

This may be the greatest rivalry in sports. The Yankee-Red Sox rivalry is as one-sided as the British and the IRA. The Dodgers and Giants, however, are like the North vs. the South in the Civil War.

 

Tales from the San Francisco Giants Dugout by Nick Peters

A RICH HISTORY, May 11, 2004

The Giants have given their fans many thrills, and this book describes some of the most nostalgic of their days.

 

College Football's Great Dynasties: USC (College Football's Great Dynasties) by Jack Clary

SC IS SECOND ONLY TO NOTRE DAME, May 11, 2004

The only football program better than USC over the past 100 years is Notre Dame.

 

 

 

Ted Williams: The Biography of an American Hero by Leigh Montville (Author)

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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful:

WILLIAMS IS NOT A GOD, May 11, 2004

I always loved Ted Williams more than any other athlete. He truly was an American hero. However, some of his comments about Jesus Christ in this book are disturbing to me, and while I will always admire him, I admire him less because of what he said.

 

The Teammates by David Halberstam

HALBERSTAM IS A RENAISSANCE MAN, May 11, 2004

David Halberstam is both one of the best writers in the country and one of the best sportswriters, a rare combo. He lovingly describes the careers and retirements of Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky and Dom DiMaggio in a nostalgic manner that evokes his great love for the Boston Red Sox and the beautiful game of baseball.

 

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis

BASEBALL IN THE 21ST CENTURY, May 11, 2004

Michael Lewis is a fine writer and Billy Beane is a man of genius. This book puts the lie to Bud Selig's assertion that money alone creates competetiveness, and further describes the new realities of power offense vs. "little ball," and how a relief pitcher can be found to fill holes for one season.

 

A Tradition Restored: USC's 2003 Championship Season by Dailey News of Los Angeles, et al

IT'S A GOOD DAY TO BE A TROJAN!, May 11, 2004

This is terrific stuff. Southern California is a college with the first or second greatest college football tradition of all times, and this book describes how, after a long layoff, Pete Carroll has returned the Trojans to these previous heights.

 

Witness by Whittaker Chambers

"WITNESS" BIRTHED MODERN CONSERVATIVISM By STEVEN TRAVERS, April 15, 2004

"WITNESS" BY WHITTAKER CHAMBERS WAS ULTIMATE CAUTIONARY TALE,

GAVE BIRTH TO MODERN CONSERVATIVISM

By STEVEN TRAVERS

Modern conservatism began in 1938, when a Communist apparatchuk named Whittaker Chambers broke from Moscow, contacted Federal authorities, and informed them that a rising Democrat star named Alger Hiss was a Soviet spy.

It took a decade for Chambers' accusations to be made public. Chambers most likely would have faded into obscurity, but for a chain of events and a few patriots. FDR did not pay heed to the accusation that Communists had infiltrated his government, but Naval intelligence intercepted word that Joseph Stalin was planning a separate peace with Adolf Hitler. The Navy did not trust the Democrats. They devised the Venona project, intercepting Soviet cables, and discovered that Chambers was right about Hiss. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover refused to go public with Venona (not opened until the 1990s), because the on-going intercepts were too important to be exposed. But he told the right political people. The case went to HUAC, led by the young California Congressman, Richard Nixon. The Left excoriated Chambers. Hoover refused to shed light on Venona, letting the wheels of justice grind on their own terms. Hiss was proven right. Nixon became the first hero of conservatism. McCarthyism followed, and sides were taken.

 

Harlot's Ghost by Norman Mailer

POSSIBLE MOVIE MATERIAL, April 3, 2004

HARLOT'S GHOST

A novel by Norman Mailer

Synopsis by Steven Travers

Screenwriter Steven Travers proposes adapting Norman Mailer's magnum opus, "Harlot's Ghost", into a blockbuster screenplay. The story revolves around Herrick "Harry" Hubbard. Harry was raised to become a crack CIA agent. His father is a career Company man, and he comes under the wing of his Godfather and mentor, Hugh Tremont Montague (bases on James Jesus Angleton). Montague, also known as Harlot, shepherds him through the Ivy League and into the cloistered, early 1950s world of the Central Intelligence Agency. A battle for Harry's "soul" occurs between his father and Harlot.

Harry falls in love with the beautiful and redoubtable Kitteredge, who has also come under Harlot's spell. Kitteredge becomes a CIA psycho-analyst, charged with getting to the root of male-female differences by studying the Alpha and Omega of human personality. She marries the older Harlot, and has a long affair with Harry, all of it supposedly kept "secret" from Harlot.

Harry matures into a top CIA operative. His station assignments take him to Latin America, where the Company orchestrates political overthrows and fights a desperate propaganda war against Communist insurgents. The CIA in the 1950s is composed of pipe-smoking, tweed-coated Ivy Leaguers obsessed with defeating atheistic Marxist-Stalinists in every corner of the globe. They go by a staunch code of Episcopalian Christianity, convinced beyond all doubt that they fight on the side of good against the worst possible evil. They are the new Church of America, where the secrets are kept.

Harry's assignments range from Latin America to Berlin to Washington, D.C. to the Bay of Pigs. He works closely with real-life historical figures, such as Watergate "plumber" E. Howard Hunt. He is directed to start an affair with a beautiful femme fatale based on Judith Campbell Exner, and becomes a CIA liaison/spy between the Company, John F. Kennedy and a Sam Giancana character.

Eventually, Kitteredge divorces Harlot and marries Harry. Harlot dies in mysterious circumstances, just as Harry is learning of a nefarious plot to assassinate President Kennedy. His failed attempts to get to the bottom of the assassination plans before they are carried out, mixed with his "taking" the young wife from his mentor, represent the loss of innocence in an end-of-Camelot scenario.

 

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

POWERFUL BOOK DEFINED A POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY, April 3, 2004

Book Review: "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand

A POWERFUL BOOK THAT DEFINED A POLITICAL PHILOSOPHYAND INFLUENCED INFLUENTIAL MINDS

Review by Steven Travers

(415) 456-6898

Published in 1957 after years in the works, Ayn Rand's magnum opus, "Atlas Shrugged" is one of the most influential novels in history. It, and its author, have been vilified and deified. Reviewing this book is as challenging as it was reading all 1168 of its pages. "Atlas Shrugged" is truly a "piece of work." It is a triumph of philosophy, much more so than the quintessential "great American novel." The greatness of this book is in its ideas more so than its literary value. Rand is not a writer on par with Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, or Thomas Wolfe. However, she is a visionary, like her hero, Aristotle. Her fans are fans of her vision, not just her words, and she has spawned millions of them over the years.

"Atlas Shrugged" was Ronald Reagan's favorite novel. It was the most influential book William F. Buckley, Jr. ever read. Obviously, this gives away its premise, which is conservative in nature and therefore anathema to liberals and the literary establishment they control. "Atlas Shrugged" and Rand herself were shoved into second-tier status by college professors and bookstore chains, but long before talk radio, she proved that conservatives win in the marketplace of ideas. Her works have been international best sellers for decades. Clubs, forums, seminars, web sites, and chat rooms devoted to Rand have given her legions of loyal supporters a chance to ask and get answers to the many, many questions that her novels have inspired. For years, Rand toured the country, delighting audiences who seemed to literally worship her. Following her own novel, "The Fountainhead", and influential non-fiction books "God and Man At Yale" by Buckley, and Whittaker Chambers' essential "Witness" (1952), "Atlas Shrugged" gave impetus to the conservative movement, which broke from the Rockefeller wing of the Republican party to launch Barry Goldwater's Quixote-like 1964 campaign; eventually the Reagan Revolution; and finally the sea change which promises to make the first half of the 21st Century an era of unparalleled American power.

 

Barry Bonds: Baseball Superman by Steven Travers, Charlie Sheen

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: STEVEN TRAVERS, February 24, 2004

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

STEVEN TRAVERS has always been entrepreneurial. "I was turned down by my high school newspaper because they didn't allow freshmen," says the sixth-generation Californian, "so I started my own!" After going to college on a baseball scholarship, where he was an all-conference pitcher, the 6-6, 225-pound Travers played professionally for the St. Louis Cardinals, where he was a teammate of Danny Cox. Travers once struck out 1989 National League Most Valuable Player Kevin Mitchell five times in one game (he K'd 15 that night). With the Oakland Athletics, he played alongside Jose Canseco.

"Punching out K-Mitchell was great," he recalls, "but the highlight of my career may have been when I was with the A's against the Giants in a Major League exhibition game at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. I struck out the side and went nine-up, nine-down in three innings." Steve later coached at USC, Cal-Berkeley and in Berlin, Germany.

Travers attended the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications. At USC, he was a classmate of Mark McGwire and Randy Johnson. Travers also went to Western State University College of Law, the Hollywood Film Institute, and the UCLA Writers' Program. He served in the U.S. Army during the Persian Gulf War, and was a political consultant. "I've punched a lot of tickets," Travers says of his background, "and I bring real-world experience to my writing."

 

In 2002, Travers wrote the best seller "Barry Bonds: Baseball's Superman" (www.sportspublishingllc.com), which is in re-print, now in paperback, and was nominated for a Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the year. He also authored a novel, "Angry White Male", a compilation of his work over the years, "The Writer's Life", and "God's County", a three-volume conservative, Christian worldview of how history formed the United States Empire and America's Manifest Destiny for the 21st Century. He is the former lead sports columnist for the San Francisco Examiner and StreetZebra Magazine, a sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Daily News, and a sports stringer on San Diego's XTRA 690 AM radio station. "I have encyclopedic knowledge of history," Steve says. "I am truly versatile as a writer, able to use my knowledge of the past to understand the present." Steve has also freelanced for magazines, newspapers and web sites. He produced Steven Travers' Journal on the Internet, and formed San Francisco Sports Management, Inc., where he was a sports agent before embarking on a full-time writing career in 1994.

Steve has also written 15 screenplays. His credits include "The Lost Battalion," "Wicked" and "Baja California". His writing awards are for "Bandit," an America's Best quarterfinalist; "Once He Was An Angel," a Quantum Leap quarterfinalist; "Rock 'n' Roll Heaven" was a Writers Network Screenplay & Fiction quarterfinalist. He appeared in the film "The Californians", starring Noah Wylie and Illeana Douglas. Steve is represented by Lloyd Robinson of Suite A Management in Los Angeles (screenplays) and Samuel Fleishman of Literary Artists Representatives in New York City (books).

Steve is the scion of a distinguished California family. His grandfather, Charles S. Travers, covered the 1906 Great Earthquake, started a silent film magazine in Hollywood, and was President of the San Francisco Press Club. His great-uncle, Reginald Travers, was a noted Shakespearean actor. His father, Donald Travers, is a retired attorney and track coach, while his mother, Inge Travers, is a renowned artist. Steve's brother, Donald Travers II, is a former Naval officer. Daughter Elizabeth Travers is a budding vocalist. Inside Berkeley's Memorial Stadium is the Col. Charles Travers Big Game Room (named after Steve's uncle) to accommodate press conferences, and (named after Steve's late aunt) is the Louise Travers Memorial Club Room. Colonel Travers also sponsors a wing of the university's political science department, dedicated to fair and balanced analysis of public affairs.

 

The wizard of Westwood;: Coach John Wooden and his UCLA Bruins by Dwight Chapin

WIZARD OF WESTWOOD

"Dwight Chapin and Jeff Prugh are legends, all-time greats," says Bill Walton, managing to sound like he is endorsing a Cadillac dealership.

"He didn't talk to us for a number of years after the book came out," says Prugh.

"The book" was "The Wizard of Westwood", written by Prugh and Chapin in 1973.

 

Hall of Fame basketball legend Walton was a college student possessing massive intelligence and radical political views. He also held to the mantra of his era: "Don't trust anyone over 30."

Chapin and Prugh were over 30, albeit just barely.

As a kid growing up in Marin rooting for Cal, the A's and the Raiders, "the book" opened my eyes to the outside world. "The Wizard of Westwood" was not just a sports book, but also a book about American society during the turbulent 1960s and early 1970s. It just happened to be written through the prism of UCLA basketball.

It is ostensibly a biography of legendary UCLA coach John Wooden. It is provocative, where Wooden's autobiography, "They Call Me Coach", is vanilla. I recently had a chance to speak to Chapin and Prugh.

"I was going to write a book <I>with</I> Wooden, and he had agreed to," says Chapin. "I was sitting in his office with him and my book agent, and had actually signed the contract. When he had the pen in his hand, he stopped, and said, `No, I think I want to wait until I'm finished coaching to do this.'

"When we started digging deeper into things, we heard that John got scared of what he heard we were going to say, and decided to write his own book."

"Digging deeper" meant going into the subject of Sam Gilbert, an infamous Bruin booster who arranged abortions and payoffs for players.

Did Wooden know details about Gilbert?

As a former Los Angeles sportswriter, I dug into this subject myself. An impeccable source, very highly placed in the UCLA Athletic Department and in a position to know, told me flat out, "Wooden knew. He had to know."

* * *

"I took Bill Walton to lunch at a steakhouse on Wilshire Boulevard," recalls Chapin. "He was so self-conscious about his height then that he insisted we get a table way in back of the restaurant, where it was very dark and we wouldn't be noticed. We talked for a couple of hours, off the record. A few days later, Vic Kelley, the UCLA sports information director, told me he was not going to do any more interviews."

Obviously, somebody "got to" Walton. His natural distrust of authority did not make it hard to convince him to clam up with the press.

"I think Sam Gilbert told him not to talk to us," opined Chapin. "I never talked to him directly again at any point in his UCLA career. Later, when Walton played for Portland, I was at a UCLA-Oregon State game, when I felt a hand tap me on the shoulder. It was Walton, who said, `How are you doing, Dwight?' I said, `Fine, Bill, but I don't have time to talk to you right now.' Amazing that you can't shut the guy up now."

* * *

"UCLA was not insulated from the outside world," says Prugh. "When you stepped on campus you were exposed to all the socio-political cross-currents of that era. Wooden was a man from rural Indiana, and of an older generation, but he had a social conscience.

"Lew Alcindor <later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar> discerned that about Wooden," continues Prugh. "Lew said no white American could know what it is like to be black, but Wooden had as close an understanding of the issue as he could.

"Curtis Rowe said Wooden did not see color, just players. The players of that era were the first to express other than one-dimensional views of the world. Therefore, we no longer saw them as just stats, but as humans with frailties. TV forced newspapers to show us the `how and why.'

When Prugh walked the Berkeley campus during road trips, his short hair made him look like an FBI agent to the Cal students.

The draft was going on, but the UCLA players did not talk about it, according to Prugh, although they were "almost all opposed to the war. From 1968-73, there was mounting dissatisfaction with the way institutions were run. Woodstock was big, Nixon went to China, then Watergate happened.

The radical Walton clashed with his coach in those days. Now he is part of The Establishment and calls him "My hero John Wooden." Chapin and Prugh, meanwhile, represent fascinating windows into the most interesting and important period in American history since the Civil War.

 

Rudy (Special Edition) DVD ~ Sean Astin

'RUDY" IS IRISH SENTIMENTALITY, BUT ENTERTAINING, February 23, 2004

"Rudy" (1993) is one of those stories that could only be told about an institution like Notre Dame University. If anybody tried to make a film about a scrub trying to make the varsity at UCLA or Nebraska, they would never get it off the ground. As it is, Rudy Ruettiger had his share of troubles pitching the true tale of his appearance in Notre Dame's final 1975 game to Hollywood.

"I had an appointment with a producer," Ruettiger recalls, "but he didn't show up at the appointed time and place. I was in Santa Monica, and I knew he lived nearby, so I asked the postman if he knew this guy."

Ruettiger looks enough like the Midwestern rube he has been portrayed as than the sort of city psychopath the mailman might have suspected him to be, because he sent him right to the guy's house. The producer tried to fend Rudy off by telling him he was not a Notre Dame fan, but it ended up at Orion Pictures anyway, and was released just as the 1993 college football season was getting underway. Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz actually was threatened with N.C.A.A. penalties because he showed a bootleg copy to his players prior to the opener, trying to inspire the boys a la Knute Rockne. The infraction was providing entertainment to his team not available to the rest of the student body (somebody ought to go on a secret mission to Shawnnee Mission, Kansas and do a demolition of this near-useless organization). Anyway, it worked that day and most days in '93, as the Irish came within one loss to Boston College of the National Championship, but that is a different Irish tale. Despite a pretty good reception, the movie did not save Orion from folding up its operation about a year later.

Patty Duke's son, Sean Astin (remember him in "Like Father, Like Son" with Dudley Moore and Kirk Cameron?) stars as a blue-collar kid from a blue-collar family. He is a poor student, and a below-average high school football player despite his very best efforts. Upon graduation he goes to work in the steel mill just like everybody who ever lived in his home town, yet still clings to the fantasy of going to play ball in South Bend. Everybody scoffs at his craziness except his best buddy, who considers Rudy's goal quite within reach.

When that buddy is killed in a mill accident, Rudy realizes it is now or never. Despite being closer to graduation than freshman age, he journeys to South Bend, is met by many obstacles and a kindly priest, enrolls in a junior college and makes good enough grades to get into N.D.

Once there, he tries out for the football team, is kept around for four years as a "tackling dummy," but due to his popularity on the team and among the student body, new coach Dan Devine fulfills old coach Ara Parseghian's promise to let him play a few minutes. Rudy even makes a tackle during garbage time of a game against Michigan State.

Director David Anspaugh ("Hoosiers") focuses on the character development of Angelo Pizzo's screenplay. The story is predictable (being true it was not easy to hide), but that matters less than Astin's inspired gullibility. Charles Dutton is terrific as the stadium groundskeeper, and Ned Beatty is great as his dad.

Look, if you hate Notre Dame, this film will probably make you sick, but if you can at least tolerate the mythology for a couple hours, "Rudy" is one of the better sports movies of recent years.

 

 Jim Murray : The Last of the Best by Jim Murray

"THE LAST OF THE BEST" BY JIM MURRAY

He was not a columnist, he was a poet. He was to the written word what Stradivarius was to the violin, Patton to the tank, Aristotle to philosophy.

Jim Murray did not pen what he wrote, he conjured it up. No mere mortal could come up with the stuff he did.

He never met hyperbole he did not like.

USC, coming from behind against Notre Dame, was not just a football team. They were the Wehrmacht marching on Poland. Sherman burning Atlanta.

A big game was not just a big game, it was the Roman Legion vs. Hannibal, Grant taking Richmond.

Murray did not reserve this kind of bluster for only the mighty in the world of sport.

"Al Scates?!" he once exclaimed of UCLA's volleyball coach. "He is to volleyball what Napoleon was to artillery."

Every morning, Southern Californians woke up and were reminded of one of the very best reasons for living here. Jim Murray's column in the Los Angeles Times was that reason. Actually, Murray was syndicated, so it was not just Los Angelenos who enjoyed his work, but the fact that he belonged to us was a source of civic pride, like the Beach Boys, the film industry, or our coast line.

If you were a writer, you read him in awe, like an actor watching Olivier do Othelo, or a young pitcher checking out Randy Johnson. If you liked sports, or even if you did not, you just appreciated the guy.

When some friends of mine lived in Paris, I would send them care packages from home. Nothing was more valuable to them than Jim Murray's column.

When Jim passed away a few years ago, it was like seeing part of the Smithsonian lost to a fire. When the Times published a selection of his columns from 1990-98, it was like seeing the demolished portion of the great museum re-furbished. Or at least like a farewell exhibit.

He is gone, we will never see his likes again, but we can at least read and re-read "The Last of the Best", with a forward by Tommy Lasorda and an introduction by the Times venerable sports editor, Bill Dwyre.

Murray towers above his profession, like Grantland Rice and Red Smith, but as New York Times columnist Dave Anderson says, he is to be compared with the likes of Twain and Hemingway. A great American. His work: Literature.

Murray was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1990, and his response was "I never thought you could win a Pulitzer Prize just for quoting Tommy Lasorda correctly."

Lasorda was greatly honored that Murray thought of him during his great moment, and Tommy has it right. Like Vin Scully and very, very few others, Murray was a guy who towered above the athletes he covered. The ones with some brains and respect for history knew that. If they did not, Murray never let it bother him. Let the ignorant wallow in their stupidity!

Murray came to sportswriting after covering Hollywood. He once had a date with Marilyn Monroe, but she left him before the night was over for another guy.

Murray understood. The other guy was Joe DiMaggio.

Murray wrote with his heart. He had compassion. He also read like crazy. He was a man of great knowledge who never wrote down to his readers. Many chose to educate themselves on who some great violinist or ballet dancer was, simply because Murray would mention them in a column. He make erudition a very cool thing.

In so doing, he did for sportswriting what Clarence Darrow did for the legal profession, MacArthur for a career in the military. He made it important, something to be attained and worked for.

Sportswriters were like carnival barkers before Murray came along. Hacks who drank too much and wrote like high school dropouts, which most of them were.

Nowadays, they study guys like Murray and Jimmy Cannon at prestigious journalism schools.

Mostly, though, he entertained. He made you think, and he made you laugh. Read "The Last of the Best".

God bless Jim Murray.

 

But They Can't Beat Us: Oscar Robertson and the Crispus Attucks Tigers by Randy Roberts

"BUT THEY CAN'T BEAT US" BY RANDY ROBERTS

The 1986 film "Hoosiers", based on the true story of tiny Milan High School's 1954 state championship, told the story of legendary Indiana basketball. Certainly, the state has great tradition, going back to John Wooden and Piggy Lambert, right on up to Rick Mount, Bobby Knight and Larry Bird. Now, Purdue University history professor Randy Roberts tells a little different story about Midwestern sports. The Crispus Attacks High School basketball team from Indianapolis, a team comprised of poor, urban black kids, overcame terrific obstacles to capture for coach Ray Crowe the 1955 and 1956 state titles.

Crowe's talented squad was led by Oscar Robertson, who would go on to a hall of Fame career with the Cincinnati Royals and Milwaukee Bucks. The "Big O" would also capture a Gold Medal at the Rome Olympics'. In '55, Crispus Attucks became the first all-black school to capture a state championship. In '56, they were the first to go undefeated.

Crispus Attucks "helped define and enshrine the Hoosiers' myth by being its negation," according to Roberts. This is an inspiring story of race, joy and achievement during a critical time in this nation's history. While Crispus Attucks was winning on the hardwood, hard-fought civil rights were being won for black people in the Supreme Court (Brown vs. Board of Education). What is often forgotten is that many of the key battlegrounds of the civil rights era were not in the South, but in the North--that is, the Midwest.

Roberts' story of social upheaval, racism and the dawn of a new era in politics centers on a school that was built for blacks. Actually, Crispus Attucks was built so white students would not have to sit next to black students in the 1920s. The school first had to petition the Indiana High School Athletic Association just to compete in the state tournament.

Roberts' also tells how "The Big O" spurned Indiana U. because coach Branch McCracken was said to be a racist. Indiana native John Wooden tried to get him to U.C.L.A. (can you imagine that?), but Oscar envisioned a long bus ride (he was afraid of air planes) and chose Cincinnati instead.

Roberts has written a number of sports history books. In "But They Can't Beat Us", he tells the story of Robertson, a shy kid who shined in athletics. He tells the story of Coach Crowe, who instilled his team with pride and discipline. Through hard work and talent, the Tigers' were able to forge one of the great stories in prep sports history. For fans of high school sports, and particularly Indiana basketball, "But They Can't Beat Us" is a must read.

 

Every Pitcher Tells a Story: Letters Gathered by a Devoted Baseball Fan by Seth Swirsky

Seth Swirsky is a Beverly Hills sports memorabilia collector who has spent a lifetime writing to baseball players and keeping the many letters and notes sent to him in return. "Every Pitcher Tells A Story" (1999, Time Books) is a compilation of those letters. While many of the athletes are not pitchers, Seth has a special fondness for moundsmen.

"But the tales that pitchers tell stand out above those told by all other players," Swirsky writes. "A pitcher stands alone on the mound..." Swirsky has compiled letters by pitchers in the Hall of Fame, and by pitchers the average baseball fan never heard of. His letters go back as far as Walter Johnson, but also includes such modern non-luminaries as Turk Wendell.

Superstar Steve Carlton writes that he went silent because the press was "breaking the trust that came with their access to the players." Roger Clemens refers to himself as "ROCKET". Cy Young's almost-indiscernible handwritten letter states that baseball cannot be learned "overnight." Cy spent about 30 years in the big leagues, so he ought to know. Bill "Spaceman" Lee probably sprinkled too much marijuana on his pancakes the day he wrote his chicken-scratch letter to Swirsky. Other letters of note include one from Dick Nixon on the Vice President's stationary; a once-classified order from O.S.S. boss "Wild Bill" Donavan directing catcher-turned-spy Moe Berg to capture a Nazi rocket scientist (Berg was later confused by a movie producer with the "Three Stooges" Moe); and self-publicity from "Ball Four" pitcher/author Jim Bouton.

Perhaps the most interesting is the1923 typed correspondence on letterhead saying "BASEBALL," in which Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis crushes banned "Black Sox" star "Shoeless Joe" Jackson's desperate hope for re-instatement.

 

Ty Cobb by Charles C. Alexander

Edition: Audio Cassette

Charles C. Alexander's Ty Cobb is an illuminating review of the legendary early Twentieth Century baseball superstar. This audio book, read by Walter Zimmerman, is written more like historical biography than a baseball book

Alexander dispels many long-held Cobb myths. Cobb was mean and nasty, but not nearly the ogre of legend. In fact, Cobb was a devout Christian (Baptist), very well spoken, a man who cared about his public image, and engaged himself in many acts of on and off-field kindness. Caricatured as a savage racist by revisionist history, Cobb actually was kindly in his relations with the many black people he grew up with in Georgia, some of whom worked for his family. He had no patience for blacks he considered uppity. He was not Branch Rickey, but he was not the Grand Dragon of the K.K.K., either. Miserly? Sometimes, but without fanfare he took care of players who had hit the skids. A spikes-sharpened demon? You bet, but Ty also shook hands with his combatants after the dust settled, and performed various acts of dovish peacemaking for the benefit of hostile fans.

Alexander is not a psychiatrist, but it is obvious that the fact that Cobb's mother killed his father in what may not have been an accident, during an incident that occurred because Mr. Cobb suspected Mrs. Cobb of having an affair, shaped Ty's combative nature. What has been lost over the years is that Cobb became friendly with Babe Ruth (common legend holding that he always hated him). Cobb was a shrewd millionaire investor who never needed to work after baseball, therefore separating himself from regular contact with people while living in huge mansions that were too big for him, after his wife left. Most telling is the relationship Cobb had with his two male children. He raised them strictly, and because of baseball travel left much of the child rearing to his wife. When he retired, they were grown up and on their own, and Cobb had genuine regrets for "missing" their childhood's. He wished he had been a doctor, so he could have been home for his kids, and when one of his sons went into medicine, Cobb lamented that if he, too, were a doctor they would have something in common. With all that baggage in tow, Cobb had to endure the premature deaths of both of the boys from untimely illnesses, living the last 20-odd bitter years of his life blaming himself.

Cobb may have been hard to live with, but this book empathetically explains some of the demons that drove the man into becoming a brilliant stock manipulator, a taskmaster father, an unfeeling husband, a reviled teammate, a hated opponent, and in the opinion of those who saw him, perhaps the greatest baseball player who ever lived!

 

Semi Tough by Dan Jenkins

NORTH DALLAS 40

BY PETER GENT (1973)

FILM STARRING NICK NOLTE AND MAC DAVIS (1978)

SEMI-TOUGH

BY DAN JENKINS

FILM STARRING BURT REYNOLDS, KRIS KRISTOFERSON AND JILL CLAYBURGH (1975)

Some great sports books are terrible films, such as Dan Jenkins' riotous Semi-Tough, which was a clunker 1975 film starring Burt Reynolds, Kris Kristoferson and the abysmal Jill Clayburgh. Then there are great sports books that make pretty good films, as is the case with Peter Gent's North Dallas 40. The 1978 film, starring Nick Nolte, was about as good as sports movies got in that era. Subsequent efforts have raised the bar, but despite some hokiness, good acting and story development hold it up.

North Dallas 40 followed the same pattern as Semi-Tough, depicting in semi-fictional manner the intertwining of football, manhood and Texas. These are probably the two best football novels ever written; both are raw, funny and sexy. North Dallas 40 takes the story one step further, by introducing tragedy and pathos. Today, every Tom, Dick and Harry loves to pretend they know The Bard, and would say this book was Shakespearean. I would not go that far, but it is good! Finally, North Dallas 40 is the third of the great "tell-all" sports books of the 1970s. Before North and Semi, there was Jim Bouton's Ball Four.

North Dallas 40 unsuccessfully tries to pass off an opening disclaimer that the characters are fictional. Forget about it. Phil Elliott is Peter Gent, a Dallas Cowboy's wide receiver in the 1960s. B.A. is Tom Landy, the Cowboys legendary coach. Seth Maxwell is Don Meredith, their quarterback from 1960 to 1968 (some tried to say he was Craig Morton, but he is "Dandy Don"). Thomas Richardson is Duane Thomas, the surly black militant Dallas running back and star of the 1972 Super Bowl. Conrad Hunter is straight-arrow owner Clint Murchison, Art Hartman is Roger Staubach, and Jo Bob Williams is probably Bob Lilly.

It is a simple enough tale of a week in Elliott's life, preparing with his team for a pivotal game against Fran Tarkenton's New York Giants at Yankee Stadium (circa 1969). Elliott is a rebel, a malcontent, a non-conformist, a drug addict, an alcoholic, a bi-curious womanizer, an atheist, maybe a Communist, and a clutch wide receiver. He is appealing in that "bad boy" way that we love dark characters, like Paul Newman in "Hud". He is having an affair with the fiancée of the owner's younger brother, all the while soothing his terrible aches and bodily pains with a variety of pills, booze and pot. His pot-smoking partner is Maxwell.

B.A. is a straight-arrow Christian who cannot understand why everybody cannot be like that. He also has no personal feelings for his players, all of whom he motivates by mixing an even dose of fear, loathing, intimidation and pain. Much of Landry's "plastic computer coach" reputation stemmed from this book. Maxwell is not anybody's friend, but rather a totally self-centered genius leader on a football field. Elliott gets hooked up with the lovely Charlotte Caulder, and after the loss to the Giants, he is ex-communicated from the club for smoking pot. Maxwell's pot smoking is conveniently overlooked. Elliott's real crime is sleeping with the fiancée of Conrad's brother.

In the book, when he returns to Charlotte, he finds that she and her black lover have been killed in a grisly love triangle murder. The film, featuring the brooding Nolte at his anti-social best, and an excellent "good ol' boy" performance from Davis, steers from this hole and leaves us with the memory of Phil as victim of corporate hypocrisy.

Semi-Tough is much lighter, filled with sex, semi-macho Texas homilies, and Jenkins at his pure funniest. It is the story of three childhood friends. Billy Clyde Puckett (Reynolds) and Shake Tiller (Kristoferson) are superstar football players with the New York Giants who played together in high school in Ft. Worth, Texas, then at T.C.U.. Barbara Jane Bookman has been with them every step of the way since kindergarten. The film is destroyed by Clayburgh's portrayal. In the book, she is described as Pamela Anderson fine. In 1975 Loni Anderson might have cut the mustard. Okay, her character had depth, so they needed an actress, but Clayburgh was semi-pretty at the very best. The idea that men would fall for her in the manner required is ludicrous.

The book succeeds because it can meander in and out of Billy Clyde's fervent imagination, making full use of his storytelling skills. Billy Clyde describes writing Semi-Tough while Jenkins writes Semi-Tough, all during the week leading up to the Giants Super Bowl match-up with the Jets at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Films, which require a tight, three-act structure, fail when they meander, as this one does. All the sight gags that Jenkins has the reader rolling in the aisles over are duds on the screen. Nevertheless, three out of four ain't bad.

 

 

October 1964 by David Halberstam

Sometimes the best sports books are not really sports books, as is the case with David Halberstam's brilliant "October 1964", which tells the story of a changing America through the microcosm of two very different baseball teams.

Halberstam, one of the great living American writers, concentrates on events that occurred during tumultuous times. Halberstam examines the loser of the 1964 World Series, the New York Yankees, who represent the old America, and the winners, the St. Louis Cardinals, who represent the new.

The Yankees were the Republican Party, conservative, white, country club elite, old money, Wall Street, the status quo, featuring Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and Whitey Ford. Their style of play was to not take chances, and they only had a couple black players.

The Cardinals mirrored Berkeley rabble rousers, and they played "National League baseball"--aggressive, stealing bases, stretching singles into doubles. Bob Gibson-black, college-educated, a man's man with something to prove, was their undisputed leader. Curt Flood was another thoughtful black athlete who harbored quiet resentment over his treatment by rednecks in Southern minor league towns. Tim McCarver came from a well-to-do white family in Memphis that employed black servants, his only frame of reference, until Gibson asked to take a sip from his coke. McCarver hesitatingly handed Gibby the can, Gibby took a big old honkin' Samuel L. Jackson sip, flashed the kid a giant smile, and handed the can back. McCarver's lesson: Sharing with black's is just like sharing with whites.

Halberstam details the metaphor of these two clubs, in which the Yankees would fall from their lofty perch, only to rise once they changed their ways in accordance with the world around them, mirroring the Reagan Revolution. The Cardinals would win three pennants in the `60s, Gibson ascending to Hall of Fame status, while McCarver grew up to be the modicum of tolerance. Flood became the symbol of the union movement with a fall-on-his-sword lawsuit challenging the reserve clause, opening the door to freedom and riches for numerous players.

 

Ball Four by Jim Bouton (Editor), Leonard Shecter (Editor)

The truth about athlete as role models occurred with the bombshell publication of Jim Bouton's "Ball Four" in 1970. The result was a diary of the 1969 season, in which the former star pitcher talked about drinking, drugs, sex and RACE, all subjects the liberal "clubhouse lawyer" had an axe to grind on. "Ball Four" had more edge than a Doors concert, breaking new ground long before Watergate, the Internet and Monica Lewinsky. The old protocols had protected J.F.K.'s sex life, but Bouton, who probably idolized Daniel Ellsberg, felt the clubhouse adage "What you do here, what you say here, what you see here, let it stay here," did not apply.

Bouton pissed off Commissioner Bowie Kuhn with his expose of players' common habit of popping amphetamines. He pissed off a lot of wives by revealing a peculiar member of the female species known as "Baseball Annies," attractive young women who enjoy sleeping with ballplayers. He pissed off his old Yankee teammates by putting the myth to Mickey Mantle's legend, paying homage to The Mick's Olympian abilities, but talking about Mantle's equally prodigious drinking habit.

Bouton describes "beaver hunting," a popular player pastime in which they drilled holes in the dugout in order to look up the dresses of girls in the front row. Gives a whole new meaning to the term "box seat," doesn't it?

Bouton comes from the "white man is to blame for all the black man's problems" ideology, and he put the lie to baseball's claim of being color blind, with enlightening racial statistics that revealed that many of the game's stars were black, but few journeymen were.

Many of his conservative teammates felt he was a bit of a Communist. It has been said that Stalin would have had a job in baseball if he brought the high heat, which Bouton could do, but the Yankees dropped him like a bad habit as soon as he hurt his arm.

"Ball Four" made Bouton rich and famous, holds up well today, and is a gem of humor, irony and inside baseball.

 

A Few Good Men (Special Edition) DVD ~ Tom Cruise

"A FEW GOOD MEN" WAS REINER/SORKIN'S SUBTLE MESSAGE OF THEIR,

By Steven Travers

Unlike other obviously partisan Hollywood films from the likes of Robert Redford and Oliver Stone, "A Few Good Men" (1992) delivered a subtler message from liberals Rob Reiner (director) and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin ("The West Wing"). It was also an example of how liberals sometimes shoot themselves in the foot in their attempts to demonstrate the goodness of their point and the faults of their political opposites.

This has happened on more than one occasion. In 1964, radical screenwriter Terry Southern ("Easy Rider") penned "Dr. Strangelove". The film attempted to make fun of bombastic military figures, lampooning Air Force General Curtis LeMay through George C. Scott's comedic General "Buck Turgidson". It succeeded as a great film, but not as a political statement. Ronald Reagan loved it.

A few years later, a '60s peacenik named Francis Ford Coppola, fresh out of UCLA Film School, wrote "Patton". He attempted to portray the World War II general as a mentally unbalanced warmonger. Scott's performance was one of the best in history. The result was the greatest, most patriotic war film ever made. Coppola (who won the Academy Award), could not have foreseen that Richard Nixon, after viewing "Patton" several times, would be emboldened to invade Cambodia, and that generations of West Point grads would consider the film a virtual primer.

Set right after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, "A Few Good Men" tries to show why officers from the "Patton school" were out-dated. The beauty of the script is in the character arc of Lieutenant Daniel Caffey (Tom Cruise). His father is the former Attorney General of the United States, and in this capacity he was a civil rights hero. Caffey never lived up to his dad's high expectations, although he graduated from Harvard Law School. He is skating by in the Navy JAG corps to satisfy family tradition. Demi Moore is a dedicated JAG lawyer who wants to do great things. Kevin Pollack (Lieutenant Sam Weinberg) is the guy who got picked on when he was a kid. The three of them get assigned to a case involving two "poster" Marines accused of murder at Guantanamo Bay. The Commander at Gitmo is Lieutenant Colonel Nathan Jessup (Jack Nicholson), in a role he did not win the Academy Award for, which is unbelievable. Jessup is about to be Assistant National Security Advisor, so he is very high up the Pentagon food chain.

Cruise is a slacker who pleads his cases, and is offered a sweetheart deal by the prosecutor, a Marine buddy played by Kevin Bacon. If the Marines plead out, the case goes away and after six months they are out of jail. The Marines are straight up and down, and say no. Demi, a so-so actress who rises to Oscar performance in a role she was born to play, takes Cruise to task. Normally a sexpot, she is not portrayed as anything but a professional officer and lawyer, and she wears it well. There is sexual tension with Cruise, but nicely underplayed. The elephant in the corner is the "code red" that everybody knows Nicholson ordered, but nobody can ask about. If he ordered the "code red," the boys are free, which leaves a slight fact discrepancy because a Marine died because of a hazing they administered. It is fair to ask why they are free if they were ordered, hung if not, since their actions are still the same.

Demi gets Cruise to stage two of his character arc by committing him to the case and to get Nicholson to admit to the "code red," which Cruise plans to do because he knows Jack does not like "hiding" from him. Pollack has been shuffling along with his "I have no responsibilities here whatsoever" act, but his role in the script is made clear. He backs up Demi's earlier faith in Cruise, and for the first time Cruise realizes he has special talent and can win. The finale is a doozie with Nicholson thundering away with a speech that Sorkin and Reiner must have really agonized over.

Nicholson represents Plato's "warrior spirit," protecting America's liberal peaceniks like???Reiner and Sorkin. He gives an incredible dissertation on what it takes to do the heavy lifting that protects our cherished freedoms. Reiner and Sorkin resisted the chance to demonize Nicholson into the tired old conservative boogieman; the racist white officer (one of the Marines is black), stupid, a war glorifier. Instead, they let Nicholson make a speech that has been memorized and made into legend by???conservatives and military officers. But Jack makes a mistake and lets Cruise lead him one step too far, admitting to the "code red" that wins the day. The twist, and the message, is in the final verdict in which the Marines are declared "not guilty" but are dishonorably discharged for "conduct unbecoming Marines." The black Marine gives the film its intended meaning by saying their conduct was unbecoming because they were not supposed to follow an illegal "code red" order (given to them by a Southern racist Christian, Kiefer Sutherland), against a weaker man, despite the consequences. Cruise tells them they do not need a patch to have honor, a line of pure gold. Pollack, who identified with the weaker man and did not like the macho Marines, melts because he sees his childhood tormentors symbolically apologize to him. Cruise has now earned his spurs and is no longer just Lionel Caffey's son.

"A Few Good Men" is a barnburner. The Sutherland role is its most heavy-handed bias. When he is told Cruise's father "made a lot of enemies in your neck of the woods" - Dixie - by letting "a little black girl" go to an all-white school, the subtle message is that he is a racist. Sutherland is further painted as a Bible thumper, the kind who have little patience for those who are not. Hollywood just brutalizes Christians. Nicholson also sneers at Pollack's screen name, Lieutenant Weinberg, a point that probably worked more against the Sorkin/Reiner message than for it. Nicholson is pointing out that Jews tend to be lawyers, while the Anglos do the fighting. The effect of the reference, however, causes people to make mental note of the fact that he is not entirely wrong. Reiner and Sorkin's "mistake" was in making Nicholson's character the real deal. In so doing, Jack thunders away with some of the best lines ever written.

"???You both rise and sleep under the very blanket of freedom that I provide, then criticize the way I provide it," he tells Cruise. "I'd just as soon you said 'thank you' and went on your way, or picked up a weapon and stood a post. Either way, I don't give damn what it is you think you're entitled to."

The producers, like Coppola before them, likely failed to recognize that by not demonizing Nicholson enough, they left the door open to a point of view that runs counter-productive to their own. Nicholson speaks about "honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something???"

Stone was horrified to discover that after excoriating "Wall Street" (1987), corporate hotshots for years thanked him for making a film that inspired their careers in high finance. Similarly, Reiner and Sorkin created a "monster" (Nicholson) who has inspired many to hear the words of Nathan Jessup and say, "Right on!"

(Screenwriter Steven Travers studied in the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television. He is the author of "Barry Bonds: Baseball's Superman" and "God's Country: A conservative, Christian worldview of how history formed the United States Empire and America's Manifest Destiny for the 21st Century".)

 

Useful Idiots: How Liberals Got It Wrong in the Cold War and Still Blame America First by Mona Charen

Liberals are on the wrong side of history, July 12, 2003

The Truth, as they say, will set us free. This simple fact explains why the inexorable tide of history favors conservatism and leaves the liberals in the dust. Mona Charen's book is just straightforward facts that have been obscured by the people who had a vested interest in keeping the facts from becoming known. Winners write the history, and conservatives are the winners. The underlying question throughout Charen's book is, why do liberals harm America? It requires some psychology, applied to the issue of order and power. First, there is a strain that runs through a never-ending segment of the population that is anarchistic in nature, embodied by Russian emigre "Red Emma" Goldman. This strain believes there should be no government, just a body of "elites" who will make the right decisions that most yahoos are not smart enough to make. Combine this with their great unease with the power of America. History tells us global power is corrupting. Conservatives think God endowed America with the ability to do His good work after centuries of evil. Liberals prefer either not to believe in God, or that He places no special sanction on America. Therefore, they say America is not checked by morality, its leaders prone to the mistakes of Napoleon, the Roman Empire, the Spanish Inquisition, etc. Conservatism requires a faith in America to do the right thing, and Charen demonstrates that we have rewarded that faith from the beginning. Liberals are the ones who do not do the right thing, so they must discredit those who do in order to hide their own inadequacies.

 

Treason : Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism by ANN COULTER

The pure dispensation of Truth, July 12, 2003

Ann Coulter is the H.L. Mencken of our time. Her legal training comes in handy, because she lays out her argument in the logical, orderly manner of an attorney prosecuting a case. Ann makes use of the "but for" premise of the law, otherwise known as proximate causation. That is, she truthfully details how history plays out. Time after time, good results of history would not have occurred "but for" the bold actions of conservatives, while poor results of history would not have occurred "but for" the weak actions of liberals. She lays out straightforward facts that simply detail Truth by reading them with no need for additional commentary. There is another legal term for this: Res ipsa loquiter ("The things speaks for itself"). She does not claim that all liberals are traitors. There is a need for liberal argument in a two-party system. But she does demonstrate that when liberals have power, millions of human beings die. She chillingly describes how the 1995 Venona Project confirmed the worst suspicions of Richard Nixon and Joe McCarthy, that some 500 Communist spies worked for the State Department and the Roosevelt/Truman Administrations, at a time when the U.N. Charter was written to favor the Soviets and China was lost to Communism. Result: Mass murder above and beyond Hitler's regime. She goes on to describe weak-kneed Democrats, who allow every major war to start but never finish them, exposing Lyndon Johnson's losing strategy in Vietnam, as compared to the way Richard Nixon (who had the 1960 election stolen from him by the Kennedys) or Barry Goldwater would have brought victory to Vietnam if they had the opportunity in the beginning. She describes the disgusting manner in which the Teddy Kennedy Democrats used Watergate as pure political theatre, creating first the Church hearings that left the U.S. vulnerable, then hung the South Vietnamese out to dry. Result: North Vietnamese savagery and Pol Pot's Cambodia, where some 2 million died under Communism. Jimmy Carter's Presidency invited Communist expansion and Islamic terror, but Ronald Reagan turned it back. Ann describes Reagan winning the Cold War without firing a shot, and shows us how close we would be to losing the War on Terror if liberals were prevailing in the current climate. God bless a country - America - that produces the likes of Ann Coulter.

 

 Jerry Maguire DVD ~ Tom Cruise

"YOU ARE...WILDLY CHARISMATIC!", July 20, 2004

Jerry Maguire should have won the Best Film Academy Award for 1996. Rock?n?roller Cameron Crowe, who wrote Fast Times At Ridgemont High for Rolling Stone, infuses Maguire with some terrific musical selections, including The Who?s raucous version of "Magic Bus" from the "Live at Leeds" album. Cuba Gooding, Jr. is over-the-top, although an Oscar performance I do not believe he delivers. That being said, the film breaks some major rules of the American screenwriting paradigm.

 

First of all, Maguire's character arc is all in the beginning. Jerry (Tom Cruise, loosely playing superagent Leigh Steinberg) "grows a conscience" in the film's opening sequence, proposing that his company take on fewer clients. Most films are about the main character arriving at this kind of revelation over a two-hour period.

 

The second fault that Jerry Maguire must overcome is the goal of its main characters, which is to make money. We are asked to feel sorry for Jerry because he is fired, but here is a guy who has made a ton of dough and possesses a law degree. His only client is Arizona Cardinals "shrimp" wide receiver Rod Strickland (Gooding). The leap of faith includes the audience?s requirement of empathizing with Strickland, who is on the cusp of stardom playing in a small media market, carries a big attitude, and bitches about money from beginning to end. He is offered a four-year, $1.7 million deal by the club, and acts as if it is chicken feed. This begs the questions: How much money would he earn if he was not a pro football player, why are the Cardinals responsible for his never having to work after retirement, and couldn't you make do with 1.7 mil? When Strickland leads the Cardinals into the Play-Offs with a big catch to beat Dallas, he is rewarded with a four-year, $11.7 million deal. Conversely, in today?s financial sports climate, that is not all that much.

 

Another hurdle the film is forced to climb is the passive aspect of its star (Cruise) when the going gets tough. Strickland appears to be paralyzed after his spectacular touchdown grab, but Jerry is a helpless by-stander who can only serve platitudes in his cell phone conversation with Rod's bitchy wife, Marcy. The star is supposed to be the guy who does something to save the day.

 

The real story of Jerry Maguire is the love interest, Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellwegger) and her adorable son, Ray. She shows loyalty to Jerry, is rewarded with marriage to Tom Cruise, who finally does something when he decides, months after the ceremony, to fall in love with his wife.

 

The scene-stealer in Maguire, aside from Ray, is Jay Mohr as Bob Sugar, Jerry's smarmy agent/protege/nemesis. This was the first time I ever saw Mohr and I felt stardom was his, but it never quite came to him. He reminds me of Dennis Leary. If Jay is in it, I'll watch it, but his movies are not blockbusters and his TV shows get canceled. Mohr is a comic genius who, when he guest-hosts the Jim Rome Show, is rail-splitting funny. He did a sequence on Rome as "Slam Man" where he was talking about "if the Yankees play the Mets in the Series it's gonna be?" and he started to riff off movie lines: "Waddaya all know about death" (Berenger in "Platoon"), "going up the river in Apocalypse Now?" that was insane.

 

Maguire hit home with me particularly because I was Jerry Maguire, absent the happy ending. I was once a sports agent with one client (a Pittsburgh Pirate outfielder), who in the end lost the client (and big commissions) as a result of my business partner's obfuscations. A few years ago the player was in the news for bygamy when he put a gun in the mouth of his second "wife" and told her "I'll O.J. you." None of this surprised me. When I "handled" this character, we had to fly his women from one National League city to another under the radar of his real wife. We provided him our calling card so his calls to his women were not traced to his room or cell phones. Pirate wives were getting suspicious, calling various National League hotels to get their husband's phone records for "tax purposes." The player thought we were golden for keeping his activities underground. All in all, I am not proud of my participation in these sordid activities, but this is what agents do. Pro sports is a morally grimy business.

 

In my case, I did not get the girl or the coin, but I got the kwon. My failure as an agent led to the priceless realization that a writing career is what really makes me happy! Despite its flaws, Jerry Maguire is a highly entertaining, realistic story, and one of the top sports films ever made.

 

Swimming with Sharks DVD ~ Kevin Spacey

"YOU CAN'T SLEEP YOUR WAY TO THE TOP.", July 17, 2004

People see parallels with "The Player", which is valid, but I see "Sweet Smell of Success" in the biting dialogue and ammoral behavior.

This is a Hollywood sleeper, the inside story of a studio. It is said to be based on a big producer who is still in the biz.

Spacey just destroys Frank Whaley, turning him from a film school idealist to a killer. The best line is when Spacey informs Whaley of the facts of Hollywood life.

"You can't sleep your way to the top, like Dawn. We're guys. We gotta fight, and scratch, and claw our way up the ladder."

Don't wanna give away the ending, because like "The Player" it is genius, but it is absolutely damning. Check this out.

 

Sweet Smell of Success DVD ~ Burt Lancaster

"AN APPLE MADE OF ARSENIC.", July 17, 2004

 

 

 

One of the problems with studying in film school, being a movie buff and getting older is that at some point in ones' life a man ventures into the video store, peruses the shelves and reaches the conclusion that he has seen every movie worth seeing.

I thought I was getting there until a few years ago when I heard about and checked out "The Sweet Smell of Success". It was like that with "Chinatown", which I never saw until the 1990s and now consider one of the best films ever.

"Sweet Smell of Success" holds up totally even though it is black-white, set in 1957. Burt Lancaster is J.J., based on Walter Winchell, who was a leading accuser of Communists in the media.

Tony Curtis is a lackey publicist who lives on the whim of those who pay him to place items in various columns, which means he must grovel at the feet of clients and columnists. J.J. plays him like a fiddle. This has lines so vitriolic and perfect, Frank Manciewics in "All About Eve" is no more biting, and Bette Davis in "Eve" bites with the best of 'em.

Lancaster just fills the screen with irony and sardonic, hurtful wit. Curtis fends it off with skill, it is like a fencing match. Anybody who has any desire to study dialogue must watch and memorize this. Everything is tremendous; the acting, the directing, the score, the noir shadows of New York at night. The music is unreal, lots of horns, filling the room with its wailing sobs of a corrupt, naked city.

A love story between J.J.'s little sis and a musician (Martin Milner I think, who was in "Adam 12"), is the heart of the story. It is the one true, good thing, but J.J. is a monster. Perhaps Bob Towne had this in mind when he cast John Huston to be an incestuos father in "Chinatown". The inference, being the '50s, is much more subtle but it seems J.J. has the hots for sis and wants nobody to have her. He brands the musician a Commie, using sycophant secondary journalists to keep his own hands clean.

Any chance for this dark one to have a happy ending goes down the tubes when sis, as much to torment her bro, kills herself. Curtis is utterly ammoral. His picture appears in Webster's next to the word ammoral.

Many films have played off this theme. "Swimming With Sharks" (1996, Kevin Spacey, Frank Whaley) comes to mind. If this could be 20 stars I'd give it 20.

 

Dumbass on a Rampage by Banyard Playboys Cdcdis Rbc10

IDENTIFYING THE DUMBASS AMONGST US, July 17, 2004

 

I love this title. It is extremely appropriate to our current social situation, in which the Dumbass has crept out of the woodwork and made his presence known. His existence - who he is and the mindless, mocking, illiterate, ignoramus ways he spews forth words of stupidity - are identified, making knowledge of the fact that he is a Dumbass that with which is known by those who have access to facts. The Dumbass is able to get by in society by remaining silent, leaving question as to whether he is a Dumbass in doubt. When the Dumbass communicates with the general public, the question as to whether he truly is the Dumbass or not is no longer left to doubt. Anonymity is the best ally of the Dumbass. When the Dumbass exposes himself to the light of day, a large spotlight shines upon him. The spotlight says, "DUMBASS!" The Dumbass therefore confirms his Dumbassedness and his Dumbassedness becomes common knowledge to a wide swath of the general public, who upon hearing of the Dumbass consistently reach the general, rapid-fire conclusion, "Hey, there's a Dumbass!"

"Yeah, that's a Dumbass."

"He sure as heck is. A Dumbass"

"Who is a Dumbass?"

"Can't you tell? Check out the this Dumbass."

A few minutes to check out the Dumbass, followed by...

"Oh, how right you are. That's a Dumbass!"

The Dumbass often does not realize that he has been identified as a Dumbass, because he is a Dumbass. This is perilous for the Dumbass, because at this point, he lives like a snail on a straight razor, and his fate is not in his own hands. Those who have determined he is a Dumbass have the power to expose him as the Dumbass to a large portion of the public. The decision whether or not to expose the Dumbass is left to whoever has identified him as the Dumbass, not up to the Dumbass. He who has identified the Dumbass may expose the Dumbass at a time, place and setting of his own choosing. Whether he chooses to do this is never known by the Dumbass, who lives with threat of exposure of his Dumbassedness for time immemorial. Only the possible benevolence of the one who has identified the Dumbass can save the Dumbass from exposure.

The Dumbass often does not realize that he has been studied, as in the case of a Harvard/Yale study that took five years at a cost of $1 million. The determination of learned minds, upon analysis and incontrovertible evidentiary conclusion, is that the Dumbass is a Dumbass. Therefore, it is thus and decided: He is the Dumbass. At such point, there is nothing the Dumbass can do. He is the Dumbass and nothing he does or says can relieve him of the burden of Dumbassedness. All future attempts to speak, write, mock, belittle, make fun of, criticize, lamely try to be smart, make bad attempts at humor, copy, plagiarize and generally communicate with the world in any way simply magnifies his Dumbassedness. The Dumbass at this point has no choice whatsoever except to crawl into a hole and withdraw from all contact with the world, which is best left to those who can think, analyze and through excellence make the world at least safe for Dumbasses, who in olden times were tortured and met bad fates in non-American countries that were wickedly prejudiced against Dumbasses along with sex deviants, child molesters, and those deemed to be undesirable characters of poor morality.

Unfortunately, the fact that the Dumbass has been identified and now has knowledge that he is the Dumbass will probably not stop him from further action which identifies him as the Dumbass. This is because he is a stupid Dumbass. This makes him a sitting duck, because the facts are now known. Intelligent humans now know what to look for and how to determine who is the Dumbass. The instant he pops his head out of the shadows and makes any attempt at interaction, it is simply determined as fact that he is the Dumbass. He has been branded, and therefore it is.

The Dumbass resorts to drastic action, attempting to jealously bring down or reduce to his level those who are superior to him. Sometimes this leads the Dumbass to insanity or even suicide, but despite his human branding as Dumbass For Life, hope remains eternal even for the Dumbass, who despite everything is loved by God and forgiven by Christians even if though he has been identified as the Dumbass. The song "Amazing Grace" was about a Dumbass who, despite being wretched, was saved. The tricky part is for the Dumbass to recognize that he must ask for forgiveness, but God in his wisdom usually provides him just enough light to see Truth!

 

Give War a Chance: Eyewitness Accounts of Mankind's Struggle Against Tyranny, Injustice, and Alcohol-Free Beer by P. J. O'Rourke

LENNON SAID "GIVE PEACE A CHANCE," WE "IMAGINED" POL POT, July 15, 2004

 

Around 1970, John Lennon, who if he lived in Vietnam would have been head of the Hanoi Communist Central Committee and if he lived in Kabul would not have lived, said "Give peace a chance." After Watergate, the "loyal opposition" led by Ted Kennedy refused to fund our "former allies" in South Vietnam. After that we "imagined" the North Vietnamese invasion and Pol Pot's "killing fields" in Camboda. All told, when we followed Lennon's advice about 2 million human beings were murdered. That's Communism.

 

Weapons of Mass Distortion : The Coming Meltdown of the Liberal Media by L. BRENT BOZELL

THE TRUTH IS MARCHING ON!, July 15, 2004

 

 

 

Michael Moore said he is an independent, not a Democrat, but this was exposed as just one of his lies when it was shown that he in fact is a Democrat. In 2004, he has veered from plain ol' anti-Americanism to Kerry's best hope. He is part of the "new religion" of modern media technology and is an example that works against his theme, which is that he is a censored artists, silenced by a Big Brother of corporate Republicans.

Moore said Disney censured him by not distributing "Fahrenheit 9/11", but this is another lie. Their agreement was to help him produce it, never to distribute it. He used that line only to further the myth that he was restrained by corporate interests and found a huge distributor, Miramax. It was all part of his plan. Disney released another documentary, "The Heart and Soul of America". "Heart" made no attempt to discredit "Fahrenheit". It simply is an affirmation of true, good facts about this great nation. Moore called it the work of "right wing extremists," which is like calling reporters who wrote about the Yankees' fourth World Championship in three years in 2000 "Yankee propagandists." Speaking of things in New York, Moore expressed anger at the terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center. That makes sense, but wait. He was frustrated that they chose to kill New Yorkers, since the Democrats are strong in the Big Apple. He would have preferred Osama to have killed people in a Republican stronghold. New evidence has surfaced that anti-American Leftists plan to disrupt law enforcement during the Republican convention. The Left is not just a "useful idiot" of terror but an accomplice. Is commentary really necessary?

Moore is, in reality, an example of how, as America has become the dominant power in world history, our themes - freedom of press, of expression, of dissent - are not censured but allowed to magnify.

What the Left does not understand is that the likes of Moore do damage to the Democrats, and are of great value to the Republicans. They forget that their anti-war protests in the 1960s did not win them any elections but gave them instead Nixon and Reagan landslides. Actually, they may understand it, but they are obsessive-compulsives who cannot control their impulses.

While Moore is not part of mainstream Hollywood, he is certainly part of the dominant media culture that the film industry embodies. Moore's documentaries get bravura responses from Hollywood and Cannes.

What Hollywood just does not understand is what kind of economic windfall they would reap if they made conservative-theme films. If they depicted the bad politicians as actual Democrats, the word of mouth among conservatives would fuel boffo box office. On the few occasions when they stray to the right, as in the "Dirty Harry" franchise, they reap a whirlwind of success.

What Democrats do not grasp is that Moore is a terrible role model, and that true knowledge of who he is, combined with the fact that he is a spokesman for their party (whether he owns up to it or not) is simply a negative reflection of that party. This fact is obvious on its face and needs no commentary from the right. I will offer more anyway.

For years, Moore's work has been discredited, whether it be his documentaries or his books. Those who have seriously studied his work have consistently found him to be a liar in the main. He is a propagandist who takes 15 percent of truth, 70 percent lies and 15 percent exaggeration, and attempts to foist it off as journalism. The fact that he is a darling of the Left is as telling a true statement of their wacko views as any. Moore is the torch-carrier of Emma Goldman. He wishes he was Hunter Thompson, a gonzo journalist and a real talent, but he is a pale imitation.

To believe Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" (the title stolen without permission from Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451"), one must accept the fact that George Bush knew about 9/11 ahead of time; allowed it in cahoots with Osama bin Laden and the Saudi royal family in order to justify the long-desired American invasion of the Middle East; spirited bin Laden's legitimate family out of the country because they were part of the plot (which would be done to bring oil profits to the Bush family while satisfying their personal vengeance against Saddam for attempting to kill Bush 41). The fact that Bush 41 invaded Kuwait to oust Saddam in 1991, then left without the so-called oil grab, combined with the fact that Bush 43 is in the process of leaving Iraq without the so-called oil grab (again), are just the first two of 6,778 pieces of factual evidence that have been determined by the world to discredit Moore's work as lies.

After "Fahrenheit 9/11's" first weekend, the liberal press hit us with big headlines telling us that it "broke records" and is reaching the largest audience in history, selling out theatres and influencing the election. It may have sold out theatres, but only because it played in a limited number of art houses. The fact is, it made $21 million. "The Passion of the Christ" made $117 million in its first weekend. The truth is that "Fahrenheit" finished with the 228th best opening weekend ever, just behind "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider". They were right about one thing, though. It will influence the election. In favor of Bush.

Still, Moore is a hero of the Left. Because of all the historical reasons cited herein, because they are desperate and see their only source of joy, political power, being pulled away from them more and more each day, they are beyond the Truth. They lie, and we have little choice but to be merciful for those who lie. This charade, however, is getting tiresome.

These Truths remain self-evident. Res ipsa loquiter.

 

Peace Kills: America's Fun New Imperialism by P. J. O'Rourke

WAR, UGH. WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? LET ME COUNT THE WAYS, July 15, 2004

 

 

 

What is war good for?

Answer: It has ended colonialism in America, Europe's attempt to subjugate Islam, Islamic rule in parts of Europe, slavery in America (which was the death of slavery), the corrupt rule of Mexico's Maximillian and Santa Ana, tamed the American West, ended nationalism in Germany and Italy, Turkish empire in the Middle East, Naziism, Fascism, Communism, terrorism, Saddam Hussein, the Taliban, corrupt Spanish dictatorship in Latin America, Napoleon's attempt to rule the world, freed Eastern Europe, ended the corrupt Austro-Hungarian Empire, freed China from Japan, ended military fanaticism in Japan, is stopping Islamo-Fascism and kept Pol Pot from killing 1.5 million Cambodians until Ted Kennedy finally got his way.

 

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right by Al Franken

FORGIVE FRANKEN HIS TRESSPASSES, July 15, 2004

 

Comedian Al Franken wrote a book called "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them". It was about the Fox News Channel, which is a fair, balanced news organization that roots for America. The Left says they are conservative. They are not. They just look that way compared to the liberal CNN, CBS, and most of the other network and cable stations (except for MSNBC). Fair and truthful analysts have concluded that Fox is the most believable and trusted news organization. Fair and truthful analysts concluded that Franken's book was, like Michael Moore's books and documentaries, filled with lies and half-truths. Franken was fed information by the Democrat-leaning Kennedy School of Government, and funded by George Soros, a socialist billionaire, who started Air America. Air America failed immediately. Conservative talk radio succeeds where liberal talk radio fails because conservatives, like Christians, are starving for Truth and decency in a world of anti-Americanism, religious intolerance and negativism. Conservatives are more likely to be educated people who prefer to improve themselves by learning about the world by listening to talk radio. Liberals are more likely to be old '60s rockers who prefer to listen to Santana and The Grateful Dead on FM. Res ipsa loquiter.

Throughout the Cold War, does anybody really doubt that, all else being equal, the Communists "voted" for Democrats over Republicans? Is their any doubt that terrorists prefer Democrats to Republicans? Is commentary really necessary? Res ipsa loquiter.

Hollywood and the rock'n'roll world is solidly Democrat. This is a world of drug abuse, alcoholism, adultery, divorce, homosexuality, atheism and immorality. The country 'n' western community is overwhelmingly Republican. This is a world of religion, family values, patriotism, respect for the military and overall morality. Res ipsa loquiter.

Time has forced many historical facts to recede in our collective memory, replaced by a fuzzy kind of Leftist thinking that has even romanticized Communism among our youth, who do not always know the complete facts. How else to explain the popularity of Che Guevara t-shirts and posters? Some celebrities - Chevy Chase, Oliver Stone, Steven Spelberg, to name just a few - have gone so far as to travel to Cuba and meet with Castro, returning with glowing reports about the Cuban dictator's "charisma" or some such malarkey.

Based on the undeniable Truths of empirical evidence, one is left to determine the simple fact that those aligned with the right are more likely to be good and decent people, while people aligned with the Left less likely to be. To deny this is to be a sophist and rely on various and sundry lies, identifiable by those who can read, write, see and have access to facts. Franken is another of these leaches who eat away at traditinal goodness, using the youth's ignorance as his weapon.

Forgive me my tresspasses as I forgive them theirs.

 

The Awful Truth - The Complete DVD Set (Seasons 1 & 2) DVD ~ Michael Moore

THE TRUTH IS AN AWFUL THING TO LIE ABOUT, July 15, 2004

 

Michael Moore said he is an independent, not a Democrat, but this was exposed as just one of his lies when it was shown that he in fact is a Democrat. In 2004, he has veered from plain ol' anti-Americanism to Kerry's best hope. He is part of the "new religion" of modern media technology and is an example that works against his theme, which is that he is a censored artists, silenced by a Big Brother of corporate Republicans.

Moore said Disney censured him by not distributing "Fahrenheit 9/11", but this is another lie. Their agreement was to help him produce it, never to distribute it. He used that line only to further the myth that he was restrained by corporate interests and found a huge distributor, Miramax. It was all part of his plan. Disney released another documentary, "The Heart and Soul of America". "Heart" made no attempt to discredit "Fahrenheit". It simply is an affirmation of true, good facts about this great nation. Moore called it the work of "right wing extremists," which is like calling reporters who wrote about the Yankees' fourth World Championship in three years in 2000 "Yankee propagandists." Speaking of things in New York, Moore expressed anger at the terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center. That makes sense, but wait. He was frustrated that they chose to kill New Yorkers, since the Democrats are strong in the Big Apple. He would have preferred Osama to have killed people in a Republican stronghold. New evidence has surfaced that anti-American Leftists plan to disrupt law enforcement during the Republican convention. The Left is not just a "useful idiot" of terror but an accomplice. Is commentary really necessary?

Moore is, in reality, an example of how, as America has become the dominant power in world history, our themes - freedom of press, of expression, of dissent - are not censured but allowed to magnify.

What the Left does not understand is that the likes of Moore do damage to the Democrats, and are of great value to the Republicans. They forget that their anti-war protests in the 1960s did not win them any elections but gave them instead Nixon and Reagan landslides. Actually, they may understand it, but they are obsessive-compulsives who cannot control their impulses.

While Moore is not part of mainstream Hollywood, he is certainly part of the dominant media culture that the film industry embodies. Moore's documentaries get bravura responses from Hollywood and Cannes.

What Hollywood just does not understand is what kind of economic windfall they would reap if they made conservative-theme films. If they depicted the bad politicians as actual Democrats, the word of mouth among conservatives would fuel boffo box office. On the few occasions when they stray to the right, as in the "Dirty Harry" franchise, they reap a whirlwind of success.

What Democrats do not grasp is that Moore is a terrible role model, and that true knowledge of who he is, combined with the fact that he is a spokesman for their party (whether he owns up to it or not) is simply a negative reflection of that party. This fact is obvious on its face and needs no commentary from the right. I will offer more anyway.

For years, Moore's work has been discredited, whether it be his documentaries or his books. Those who have seriously studied his work have consistently found him to be a liar in the main. He is a propagandist who takes 15 percent of truth, 70 percent lies and 15 percent exaggeration, and attempts to foist it off as journalism. The fact that he is a darling of the Left is as telling a true statement of their wacko views as any. Moore is the torch-carrier of Emma Goldman. He wishes he was Hunter Thompson, a gonzo journalist and a real talent, but he is a pale imitation.

To believe Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" (the title stolen without permission from Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451"), one must accept the fact that George Bush knew about 9/11 ahead of time; allowed it in cahoots with Osama bin Laden and the Saudi royal family in order to justify the long-desired American invasion of the Middle East; spirited bin Laden's legitimate family out of the country because they were part of the plot (which would be done to bring oil profits to the Bush family while satisfying their personal vengeance against Saddam for attempting to kill Bush 41). The fact that Bush 41 invaded Kuwait to oust Saddam in 1991, then left without the so-called oil grab, combined with the fact that Bush 43 is in the process of leaving Iraq without the so-called oil grab (again), are just the first two of 6,778 pieces of factual evidence that have been determined by the world to discredit Moore's work as lies.

After "Fahrenheit 9/11's" first weekend, the liberal press hit us with big headlines telling us that it "broke records" and is reaching the largest audience in history, selling out theatres and influencing the election. It may have sold out theatres, but only because it played in a limited number of art houses. The fact is, it made $21 million. "The Passion of the Christ" made $117 million in its first weekend. The truth is that "Fahrenheit" finished with the 228th best opening weekend ever, just behind "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider". They were right about one thing, though. It will influence the election. In favor of Bush.

Still, Moore is a hero of the Left. Because of all the historical reasons cited herein, because they are desperate and see their only source of joy, political power, being pulled away from them more and more each day, they are beyond the Truth. They lie, and we have little choice but to be merciful for those who lie. This charade, however, is getting tiresome.

These Truths remain self-evident. Res ipsa loquiter.

 

Stupid White Men : ...And Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation! by Michael Moore

IS MICHAEL MOORE A BIG FAT STUPID LYING WHITE MALE?, July 15, 2004

 

Michael Moore said he is an independent, not a Democrat, but this was exposed as just one of his lies when it was shown that he in fact is a Democrat. In 2004, he has veered from plain ol' anti-Americanism to Kerry's best hope. He is part of the "new religion" of modern media technology and is an example that works against his theme, which is that he is a censored artists, silenced by a Big Brother of corporate Republicans.

Moore said Disney censured him by not distributing "Fahrenheit 9/11", but this is another lie. Their agreement was to help him produce it, never to distribute it. He used that line only to further the myth that he was restrained by corporate interests and found a huge distributor, Miramax. It was all part of his plan. Disney released another documentary, "The Heart and Soul of America". "Heart" made no attempt to discredit "Fahrenheit". It simply is an affirmation of true, good facts about this great nation. Moore called it the work of "right wing extremists," which is like calling reporters who wrote about the Yankees' fourth World Championship in three years in 2000 "Yankee propagandists." Speaking of things in New York, Moore expressed anger at the terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center. That makes sense, but wait. He was frustrated that they chose to kill New Yorkers, since the Democrats are strong in the Big Apple. He would have preferred Osama to have killed people in a Republican stronghold. New evidence has surfaced that anti-American Leftists plan to disrupt law enforcement during the Republican convention. The Left is not just a "useful idiot" of terror but an accomplice. Is commentary really necessary?

Moore is, in reality, an example of how, as America has become the dominant power in world history, our themes - freedom of press, of expression, of dissent - are not censured but allowed to magnify.

What the Left does not understand is that the likes of Moore do damage to the Democrats, and are of great value to the Republicans. They forget that their anti-war protests in the 1960s did not win them any elections but gave them instead Nixon and Reagan landslides. Actually, they may understand it, but they are obsessive-compulsives who cannot control their impulses.

While Moore is not part of mainstream Hollywood, he is certainly part of the dominant media culture that the film industry embodies. Moore's documentaries get bravura responses from Hollywood and Cannes.

What Hollywood just does not understand is what kind of economic windfall they would reap if they made conservative-theme films. If they depicted the bad politicians as actual Democrats, the word of mouth among conservatives would fuel boffo box office. On the few occasions when they stray to the right, as in the "Dirty Harry" franchise, they reap a whirlwind of success.

What Democrats do not grasp is that Moore is a terrible role model, and that true knowledge of who he is, combined with the fact that he is a spokesman for their party (whether he owns up to it or not) is simply a negative reflection of that party. This fact is obvious on its face and needs no commentary from the right. I will offer more anyway.

For years, Moore's work has been discredited, whether it be his documentaries or his books. Those who have seriously studied his work have consistently found him to be a liar in the main. He is a propagandist who takes 15 percent of truth, 70 percent lies and 15 percent exaggeration, and attempts to foist it off as journalism. The fact that he is a darling of the Left is as telling a true statement of their wacko views as any. Moore is the torch-carrier of Emma Goldman. He wishes he was Hunter Thompson, a gonzo journalist and a real talent, but he is a pale imitation.

To believe Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" (the title stolen without permission from Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451"), one must accept the fact that George Bush knew about 9/11 ahead of time; allowed it in cahoots with Osama bin Laden and the Saudi royal family in order to justify the long-desired American invasion of the Middle East; spirited bin Laden's legitimate family out of the country because they were part of the plot (which would be done to bring oil profits to the Bush family while satisfying their personal vengeance against Saddam for attempting to kill Bush 41). The fact that Bush 41 invaded Kuwait to oust Saddam in 1991, then left without the so-called oil grab, combined with the fact that Bush 43 is in the process of leaving Iraq without the so-called oil grab (again), are just the first two of 6,778 pieces of factual evidence that have been determined by the world to discredit Moore's work as lies.

After "Fahrenheit 9/11's" first weekend, the liberal press hit us with big headlines telling us that it "broke records" and is reaching the largest audience in history, selling out theatres and influencing the election. It may have sold out theatres, but only because it played in a limited number of art houses. The fact is, it made $21 million. "The Passion of the Christ" made $117 million in its first weekend. The truth is that "Fahrenheit" finished with the 228th best opening weekend ever, just behind "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider". They were right about one thing, though. It will influence the election. In favor of Bush.

Still, Moore is a hero of the Left. Because of all the historical reasons cited herein, because they are desperate and see their only source of joy, political power, being pulled away from them more and more each day, they are beyond the Truth. They lie, and we have little choice but to be merciful for those who lie. This charade, however, is getting tiresome.

 

No One Here Gets Out Alive by Danny Sugarman, Jerry Hopkins

"ARE YOU LOOKING FOR ME?", July 14, 200

 

I have to tell a story. I have a friend who won an Oscar for editing "Apollo 13". A few years ago, he drove his girlfriend to the bank in downtown Beverly Hills. Parking being what it is in the B.H., my man waited in the car while his girlfriend went in to do her banking. My pal, being a big-time Doors fan, popped in a tape, which played "The End", loud. It was hot and the window was down. Jim Morrison was wailing about how he "took a face from the ancient gallery and...walked on down the haaaaalll, yeah..."

Suddenly, Danny Sugarman, one-time Doors assistant, now married to Iran-Contra ingenue Fawn Hall, and the author of "No One Here Gets Out Alive", appeared at the window, surprising my friend.

"Are you looking for me?" he asked my friend.

It seems that Sugarman had an appointment in the area but could not find the address. Hearing The Doors playing loudly, he figured it was a siren song, like the wailing of the mermaids drawing Ulysses to the rocks, meant to say to him, "Hey man, I'm over here."

Somehow this is a story that resonates in the memory of Jim Morrison, who is as much legend and hype as a great rock star and poet. Morrison may have been the sharpest rock singer ever. The son of a Navy admiral who was in charge at the Gulf of Tonkin, while growing up he would invite friends into his room and close his eyes.

"Pick a book," he would tell friends, gesturing to his shelves, which were stocked with thousands of titles.

"Go to any page," he would say. "Read any line."

His friends would do that, and Jim could always tell them the name of the book and the author. That is a genius.

Sugarman's work captures the genius and charisma of Morrison. It is, along with his other book, "Wonderland Avenue", just possibly the best rock book ever.

 

Made/Swingers DVD ~ Jon Favreau

"IF I WAS GAY I COULD GET LAID ON THE SUBWAY.", July 14, 2004

 

Vince Vaughn is on a roll. I cannot think of a single bad movie he has ever made. "Made" is his very best. He is absolute genius in this spoof on gangster films, but so is everybody else. Jon Favreau plays his straight man, as usual, and is at his laconic best, but check out "Puff Daddy" Combs as some kind of gang leader in New York. Combs almost steals this show. In fact, everybody in every scene steals the show throughout - the fat black guy who is Combs' right hand man, the Scottish drug merchant (the "Red Dragon"), and how about Peter Falk as a smarmy L.A. Mob guy?

This flick has everything, including backstory and character development. Vaughn and Jon played football at Hollywood High but blew the Fairfax game because Jon got caught stealing, but Vince took the heat, so there is a reason for their loyalty to each other. Jon's girlfriend is a stripper who hooks on the side, but Jon refuses to see it. He gets a gig through stripper entrepreneur Falk - go to New York because they need some "strong arm guineas." The plane ride is insane with Vaughn screwing up and breaking every rule set before them. In the Apple he just goes off the deep end in a world of laughs, spoofs, hilarity and laconic irony. In the end, Vaughn's alcohol- and sleep-deprived paranoia saves their lives, and upon return to L.A. the girlfriend is revealed as a coke whore. Jon has a heart of gold whern he "adopts" her beautiful daughter, and Vince now seems to have grown up, just a little.

This is a cult classic. It should be up there with "Old School", "Swingers", "Animal House", "Caddyshack" - you name it.(...)

 

Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America (Yale Nota Bene) by John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr

"TO VOTE FOR BILL CLINTON.", July 14, 2004

 

In 1943, the U.S. Navy intercepted word that Josef Stalin was going to sue for a separate peace with Adolf Hitler. They also discovered that Alger Hiss, a leading New Deal Democrat and top advisor to President Roosevelt, was a Soviet spy. In addition, numerous high-level Democrats in FDR's Administration were Soviet spies and "fellow travelers." They approached FDR, whose response was "f--k off." The Navy, during this time of greatest national security threat, reached the conclusion that the Democrats could not be trusted! In response to this, they began the Venona Project, designed to read all the Soviet cable dispatches. Venona continued to confirm that the American government and society was rife with Soviet espionage from within the ranks of the anti-American Democrat Left.

When the war ended, the Republicans began to investigate these rumors. Richard Nixon asked FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to assist. Hoover told him he could not let him view Venona because it was too important to the on-going Cold War vs. Soviet Communism, but that Nixon's instincts, particularly about Hiss, were right. Hiss was convicted. Numerous Leftists were convicted or exposed, as were many in Hollywood. When McCarthy went after them, the Left attempted to discredit him. Venona would have justified him, but Hoover refused to disclose Venona's secret. McCarthy was sacrificed and allowed to twist in the end, and for decades the Left proffered the lie that there were no Communists in Hollywood, the government, the Army or in America.

After Ronald Reagan won the Cold War, Soviet archives were opened. Venona was discovered and became the Venona Papers. It verified that Hiss and all the accused and convicted Communists in Hollywood, the government, the Army and in America were in fact Soviet spies or "fellow travelers." One of those fellow travelers had escaped to Russia, but returned when the Statute of Limitations ran out. He returned to the U.S. in 1996. He was asked why.

"To vote for Bill Clinton," he replied.

Is further commentary really necessary?

 

Michael Moore Is A Big Fat Stupid White Man by David T. Hardy, Jason Clarke

THE LEFT IN THE 21ST CENTURY, July 14, 2004

Michael Moore said he is an independent, not a Democrat, but this was exposed as just one of his lies when it was shown that he in fact is a Democrat. In 2004, he has veered from plain ol' anti-Americanism to Kerry's best hope. He is part of the "new religion" of modern media technology and is an example that works against his theme, which is that he is a censored artists, silenced by a Big Brother of corporate Republicans.

Moore said Disney censured him by not distributing "Fahrenheit 9/11", but this is another lie. Their agreement was to help him produce it, never to distribute it. He used that line only to further the myth that he was restrained by corporate interests and found a huge distributor, Miramax. It was all part of his plan. Disney released another documentary, "The Heart and Soul of America". "Heart" made no attempt to discredit "Fahrenheit". It simply is an affirmation of true, good facts about this great nation. Moore called it the work of "right wing extremists," which is like calling reporters who wrote about the Yankees' fourth World Championship in three years in 2000 "Yankee propagandists." Speaking of things in New York, Moore expressed anger at the terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center. That makes sense, but wait. He was frustrated that they chose to kill New Yorkers, since the Democrats are strong in the Big Apple. He would have preferred Osama to have killed people in a Republican stronghold. New evidence has surfaced that anti-American Leftists plan to disrupt law enforcement during the Republican convention. The Left is not just a "useful idiot" of terror but an accomplice. Is commentary really necessary?

Moore is, in reality, an example of how, as America has become the dominant power in world history, our themes - freedom of press, of expression, of dissent - are not censured but allowed to magnify.

What the Left does not understand is that the likes of Moore do damage to the Democrats, and are of great value to the Republicans. They forget that their anti-war protests in the 1960s did not win them any elections but gave them instead Nixon and Reagan landslides. Actually, they may understand it, but they are obsessive-compulsives who cannot control their impulses.

While Moore is not part of mainstream Hollywood, he is certainly part of the dominant media culture that the film industry embodies. Moore's documentaries get bravura responses from Hollywood and Cannes.

What Hollywood just does not understand is what kind of economic windfall they would reap if they made conservative-theme films. If they depicted the bad politicians as actual Democrats, the word of mouth among conservatives would fuel boffo box office. On the few occasions when they stray to the right, as in the "Dirty Harry" franchise, they reap a whirlwind of success.

What Democrats do not grasp is that Moore is a terrible role model, and that true knowledge of who he is, combined with the fact that he is a spokesman for their party (whether he owns up to it or not) is simply a negative reflection of that party. This fact is obvious on its face and needs no commentary from the right. I will offer more anyway.

For years, Moore's work has been discredited, whether it be his documentaries or his books. Those who have seriously studied his work have consistently found him to be a liar in the main. He is a propagandist who takes 15 percent of truth, 70 percent lies and 15 percent exaggeration, and attempts to foist it off as journalism. The fact that he is a darling of the Left is as telling a true statement of their wacko views as any. Moore is the torch-carrier of Emma Goldman. He wishes he was Hunter Thompson, a gonzo journalist and a real talent, but he is a pale imitation.

To believe Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" (the title stolen without permission from Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451"), one must accept the fact that George Bush knew about 9/11 ahead of time; allowed it in cahoots with Osama bin Laden and the Saudi royal family in order to justify the long-desired American invasion of the Middle East; spirited bin Laden's legitimate family out of the country because they were part of the plot (which would be done to bring oil profits to the Bush family while satisfying their personal vengeance against Saddam for attempting to kill Bush 41). The fact that Bush 41 invaded Kuwait to oust Saddam in 1991, then left without the so-called oil grab, combined with the fact that Bush 43 is in the process of leaving Iraq without the so-called oil grab (again), are just the first two of 6,778 pieces of factual evidence that have been determined by the world to discredit Moore's work as lies.

After "Fahrenheit 9/11's" first weekend, the liberal press hit us with big headlines telling us that it "broke records" and is reaching the largest audience in history, selling out theatres and influencing the election. It may have sold out theatres, but only because it played in a limited number of art houses. The fact is, it made $21 million. "The Passion of the Christ" made $117 million in its first weekend. The truth is that "Fahrenheit" finished with the 228th best opening weekend ever, just behind "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider". They were right about one thing, though. It will influence the election. In favor of Bush.

Still, Moore is a hero of the Left. Because of all the historical reasons cited herein, because they are desperate and see their only source of joy, political power, being pulled away from them more and more each day, they are beyond the Truth. They lie, and we have little choice but to be merciful for those who lie. This charade, however, is getting tiresome.

These Truths remain self-evident. Res ipsa loquiter.

 

My Life by Bill Clinton

WHY THE RIGHT GOES AFTER THE CLINTONS, July 12, 2004

Bill Clinton is back. The question is whether the Monica Lewinsky scandal rose to the level of an Impeachable offense. Technically it did, but Senate Republicans said it was not serious enough to remove him from office. But the bottom line is that the American right believed that Clinton got away with many more serious crimes in Arkansas and in the White House. This included the "Clinton body count"; Mena; Whitewater; the Riady scandal; the Communist Chinese spy/fundraising scandals; drug dealers at White House parties; assaults and sex harrassment of women; character assassinations; illegal campaign contributions; affairs; Hillary's $1000 investment that in 30 days became 100 grand; and various other misdeeds. Conservatives were unable to pin any of it on the Clintons. Were they guilty of all of it? Probably not. Most of it? Maybe. It was frustration over his ability to get away with what he did get away with that pushed the conservatives into going after him on something they could nail him on.

 

Machiavelli: The Prince (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought) by Niccolo Machiavelli, et al

THIS IS A TOUGH ONE, July 10, 2004

 

 

 

Machiavellism is a name often given to politicians who have no ideals other that to get what they want, which is to achieve power. Fair enough, and I cannot argue that point. But at the same time, there are aspects of Machiavellianism, which actually is now called realpolitic more than Machiavelli, that are essential in modern politics, especially campaigning and warfare, or more appropriately, the politics of pre-war.

The crux of the author's advice to the The Prince is that it is better to be feared or respected than loved, which certainly parallels America's post-9/11 place in the world. There are times in which it is appropriate and better to be loved, but obviously this is a calculated act. It reminds me of how the Clintons did polling to determine what would be the most popular place to vacation for them with the public, or how after Moncia they "allowed" cameras to "capture" them, "cuddling" in bathing suits, or how Clinton walked into Ron Brown's funeral telling a big you-know-what-eating joke until he saw cameras, then wiped a fake tear from his eye. Pure Machiavellianism.

 

The Art of War by Sunzi, et al

GEORGE BUSH MUST HAVE READ THIS, July 9, 2004

 

"The Art of War" is a book that any Wall Street dealmaker needs to read. It also is obvious that the true lessons of this book demonstrate precisely why George Bush was as right as rain when he went into Afghanistan and Iraq. Sun Tzu writes not about popularity but strength and victory. I would much rather America be strong and in control, winning the War on Terror as we are, than a crippled giant, which is the way many countries might like us - until our crippled condition makes it harder to defend them from obliteration as we have doner many times. I'll take respect over love in when it comes to geo-politics.

 

Lawrence of Arabia DVD ~ David Lean

"THERE IS GOLD IN AQUABA.", June 27, 2004

This is David Lean's greatest film, a masterpiece of historical cinema that includes breathtaking photography and acting performances for the ages. Lean seems to have wanted to tell us, in 1962, where the world was and why it was there. This was the middle of the Cold War, Israel was beginning to become a major international issue, and oil in the Middle East was an overriding concern. Still, "Lawrence" does not make the attempt to educate through a lot of exposition, dialogue or otherwise. There is little reference to the fact that this all occurs duing World War I, or what was known at the time as The Great War.

Lean assumes the audience, then (and now) knows the history, but it is worth putting it in perspective. World War I broke out in 1914 on two fronts, with the Germans invading France through Belgium and fighting the British and French, while establishing a Russian Front against the Tsar. The Middle East is almost totally controlled by Turkey, which for centuries has dominated through its Ottoman Empire. They are a secular empire, although Islamic by far. The Ottoman has a loose affiliation with the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which controls Germanic states and the Balkans, and through natural identity is allied with Germany.

Turkey hitches its wagon to Germany and becomes the third wheel of the Central Powers. They believe Germany will win and Democracy will not. Oil is just beginning to become a huge political issue in the region as the car and the airplane are now commonplace. Turkey sees a chance to create hegemony with a Germanic Empire by consolidating power through the steppes, the backdoor from Turkey (the old Byzantine Empire) into Eastern Europe and Russia. A squeeze play, if you will. This is the third front.

Winston Churchill is in charge of the British Navy and sees the Turkish intent. He decides to counteract it early via an amphibious invasion at Gallipoli in the Dardanelles. It is a disaster of total proportion, and explains why Winston was on the outs until he was made a last ditch hope against Hitler 25 years later. Turkey expands through the Armenia and a genocide occurs of Holocaust proportions.

England establishes a military presence in the Arab lands, but their only hope is to create reargaurd action against Turkey. In this inhospitable place, in an age of poor communications, the only way to gain ground is to coalese with the local Arabs who hate the Turks.

Enter T.E. Lawrence, bastard son of an English nobleman, Oxford educated, fluent in Arabic with a natural love and affiliation with these people. He is also an engineer and knows how to blow up bridges and rairoads, the best way to disrupt the Turks.

Lawrence is sent on a wild goose chase into the desert to liaison with King Feisal in what is now Iraq. He organizes tribes into fighting units and does great damage to the Turks, forcing them to deal with this rear action. In a move that rivals MacArthur's Inchon campaign, he leads his tribal army across the Nefu Desert to the port of Aquaba, bluffing the Arabs into believing "there is gold in Aquaba." The Turks have 12-inch guns pointed at the sea, curtailing Naval hopes, and are completely surprised by an infantry attack from the forbidding desert. Aquaba is taken, which now allows the Brits to push on Jerusalemn, just down the coast.

This all has two major effects. It is the beginning of the end for Turkey as they begin to lose the war, but it also coalesces the Arabs from tribes to a single political peoples. Lawrence is a publicity-hound and given huge credit for all of it, but subsequent study shows much is P.R. Still, he has genuine love for Arabs. Stories of his derring-do are part of America's entrance into the fight.

Eventually, the war is won and now Britain controls the Middle East. They desire to hand control to the Arabs, but the Arabs simply are not organized or modern enough to handle this new world. The Brits must stay, which of course causes great local consternation. What bungles it more is the Sykes-Picot Treaty, which gives France, who did not fight in the region, much control of the region in a "victor go the spoils" move. They get Lebanon, Syria, are in Algeria, Morocco, and history tells us they screwed up the region so much that they are deserving of the lion's share of blame for what has happened there since.

England stayed for decades but eventually de-colonization before and after WWII gave countries back, often to monarchies. France with their Foreign Legion stays and creates enemies. Revolutions ocurred and the monarchies were upended in favor of despots in league with Communists, and after the Cold War they morphed into Islamic Fascism.

Lean seems to want to create the "impression" that British political decisions were not favorable to the Arabs, but he does show that the locals were not prepared to handle this responsibility. In truth, Lawrence was sent to Versailles to prepresent the Arabs and walked out in disgust. Oil and land were simply to important to leave to the tribes. The influx of Jews to Palestine in the 1920s and '30s further added to the cauldron.

This film is a very instructive historical piece. It could not be made today, as theatres would sell tickets to part one and part two separately for the four-hour extravaganza. Also, I believe I count only two women in the entire film, a couple of extras at a tribal feast. Today's film execs would scream for a love story and sex.

Peter O'Toole demonstrates a fey Lawrence, leaving the question of homosexuality. He has two fawning assistants, Arab boys who are devoted to him. Who knows? Lawrence's actual sexual identity has never been solved, but it is entirely possibly he was gay.

One thing for sure, he was brilliant and charismatic.

 

Old School (Widescreen Unrated Edition) DVD ~ Todd Phillips

"I'M HERE FOR THE GANGBANG.", June 26, 2004

This looked like the last movie I would ever get, not being particularly into farces and screwball comedy. But

if Vince Vaughn ("Swingers", "Made") is in it, then I probably will give it a look. "Old School" fulfilled Vaughn's comic promise, but it is ensemble and great.

It starts out with just the right touch when Luke Wilson returns home and finds sexy girlfriend Juliette Lewis expecting not him but her "Internet friends," who are coming over "for the gangbang." Makes you want to do a Google search for "single girls looking for group sex."

This is an up-dated "Animal House", maybe better. Luke's post-Juliette recovery includes moving into a house next to the college, and when it looks like he cannot stay due to school regulations, they form a fraternity. Luke is a lawyer and his legal skills keep them above the dean's attempts to disband them as part of a childhood revenge.

Vince gives us great lines like, "What do you think, instead of spending time with my wife I'd rather hang out with 19-year old girls?"

USC grad Will Ferrell, who once tried out for the Trojans as a punter, may carry this film through sheer craziness. There is little message, just laughs. It has some mature themes, but despite Juliette's sexual wanderings is basically tame.

In the end, Juliette is still into swinging, when she invites Will to her next sexfest.

 

The Player - New Line Platinum Series DVD ~ Tim Robbins

"IF THE PRICE IS RIGHT, GRIFF...", June 26, 2004

 

This is one of my all-time favorite films, a scathing, paced look at inside Hollywood that deciphers the netherworld of studio execs, producers, directors, actors and, most importantly, those over-abused prostitutes of the industry, screenwriters. Tim Robbins is Griffin Mill - smarmy, corporate and slick as cat manure on a vinyl floor. Robert Altman brought in an array of big names to lend this film their aura. Everybody was in it. Buck Henry pitches the best film idea that never happened, "The Post-Graduate", which is the sequel to "The Graduate".

Grif is getting poison pen mail and he explores it a little too much, leading him to an art house in Pasadena where he accidentally kills a teed-off scribe, then into the man's ice queen girlfriend. Plot twists and studio politics intersect, and Whoopi Goldberg is insane as the cop who knows Grif got away with murder, which he does.

There is no morality, just cold-hearted realpolitik. Do not miss Altman's interview at the end. Like "Sunset Boulevard", this one captivated and irritated this closed industry which still believes its press releases. Robbins is as good as it gets. This is sex and power, the ultimate aphrodisiac.

The plot twist that ends it is one of the best ever devised, with Grif and his blackmailer suddenly co-producers "if the price is right..."

As Matthew says in the Bible, "what does a man profit if he has the world but loses his soul?"

 

The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

REINFORCED MY CHRISTIAN FAITH, June 25, 2004

This is a book that reinforced my Christian faith, although Mitch Albom's approach to spirituality and Heaven is somewhat different from mine. What does ring home is his theme that man needs to make a difference in the world while we are here, and there is something beyond Earthly life to ground us in acts of goodness.

We reap what we sow. If we reach out and give, of ourselves, our possesions, our talents, then we will be rewarded in some manner, whether in life or beyond. If we are selfish and immoral, we may pay for this later. We do not always see how it works, which is part of the mystery that Mitch exemplifies in this work. Bad things happen to good peopole, and more remarkably, very good things happen to very bad people. Why? This is a spiritual question to be pondered and not answered on Earth. It will be made known to us in the after-life. Sacrifice in this life, happiness in the next, perhaps?

Anyway, Mitch is a terrific writer who has the touch for reaching out and touching people's hearts, an ability I only wish I had.

 

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and-Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood by Peter Biskind

SHOW BIZ IS NOT BUSINESS, June 25, 2004

Like Bob Evans' "The Kid Stars In the Picture", "Swimming With Sharks", and Bob Altman's "The Player", Peter Biskind's book is one of the best and most exemplary works describing this crazy "business" called Hollywood.

It is very, very engaging and informative. What the book centers on are two things, mainly, which is the growth of new talent coming out of the four big film schools of the 1960s (USC, UCLA, NYU, Columbia) and the development of the blockbuster, which eventually degraded character development as the staple of winning screen formula.

Descriptions of parties at Margo Kidder's Malibu beach pad are awesome. Here all the young Turks gathered - Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Paul Schraeder, Francis Ford Coppola, Marty Scorsese, etc. These SC, UCLA and NYU minds formulated "The Godfather", "Star Wars", "Apocalypse", "Taxi Driver", "Jaws" and so many others.

While the sex and drugs got out of hand at Margo's, John Milius would repair to the beach and fire his weapon. Considered the best and the brightest of all of them coming out of SC, Milius was the lone conservative, who tried to stay clean. He would write great movies like "Dirty Harry" and "Apocalypse", and direct "Red Dawn" and "The Wind and the Lion". His stuff is just fantastic, but he never went on to the fame of his contemporaries.

Eventually, blockbusters like "Jaws" and "Star Wars" contributed to the so-called "cartoonization" of Hollywood. The comparison of psychology, dialogue, structure and symbolism as seen in "Marathon Man" and "Chinatown" are replaced by graphics, as seen in "Star Wars", or by a giant mechanized shark.

The end of the era is the failure of "Heaven's Gate", which brings down its studio and leads eventually to the rise of independent films.

This book tells the story of the integral American art form in all its glory and ugliness.

 

The Kid Stays in the Picture by Robert Evans

"A MAN WHO THINKS HE KNOWS THE MIND OF WOMEN KNOWS NOTHING.", June 25, 2004

 

 

 

Read the book. Watch the documentary. But above all listen to the audio book on tape. Bob Evans' voice is magic. A few years ago he did ads for the NFL, talking about how "Broadway Joe" Namath popularized the league by beating Baltimore in Super Bowl III. It was one of the best commercials ever. When Evans speaks, there is a richness and storytelling quality to his voice that cannot be taught. It is a combination of God-given talent and years of stories so wild, so crazy that no matter how outrageous they are, one still feels Evans is holding back because the real truth is just beyond the pale.

Evans' life is beyond comprehension. Luck above and beyond all belief, combined with talent and drive. The son of a Jewish New York dentist, Evans was a film buff and teenage stage actor. His older bro Charles started Evans-Piccone, the lucrative clothier, and Bob hitched along for the ride, wealthy in his early 20s and acting a part of his past. He travels to L.A. on business, and a famous actress sees him and decides he is the man to play the role of her ex-husband, Irving Thalberg, in an upcomng film, which he stars in.

Back in New York, he is discovered a second time, this time by Daryl Zanuck, who sees him in a club and says he is the man to play Pedro Romero in "The Sun Also Rises". Pictures of Evans reveal that these discoveries are no accident. The dude was so handsome that words cannot do him justice. Ernie Hemingway was non-plussed by Evans, as were his famous co-stars who conspired against him to get him off the movie. Zanuck arrives, sees Evans play the bullfighter, and says "The kid stays in the picture." The story of his life.

Stardom follows? Not so fast. Old footage reveals that despite his looks his acting talent was, in Evans' words,

"half-assed." So now what? Evans decides to become a producer. He buys rights to a book to film with Frank Sinatra in the lead and a promising producing career lies ahead. In 1966-67, he is hired to take over the failing Paramount. This is portrayed as an accident, luck, a fluke, but Evans does not give himself credit. He had brains, creative genius, charisma, looks and all the tools for Hollywood success, so his ascension is less remarkable than it would seem for a guy who is only about 30.

It immediately becomes apparent, though, he was hired to fail. The suits in New York just want a young face to deflect criticism of them as they fold Paramount. But Evans wins them over with a short of the upcoming "Love Story" and "Rosemary's Baby". Reprieve. In the '60s, Evans produces gems. Add to the above "True Grit", "Odd Couple" and other classics. Money rolls in, but Evans does not get super rich and is always on the hot seat.

He marries the beautiful Ali McGraw and has the world by the tail. "The Godfather" is given to him, and he decides Sicilian mob pictures fail because they lack Italian authenticy.

"I want to smell the spaghetti," he says.

Francis Ford Coppola, is the only Italian director at the time. It is tempestuous to the extreme, and when "The Prince" wins the "Patton" screenplay Oscar he cannot be fired. Evans claims he saved the film by making it longer, Coppola scoffs at the notion to this day. Two brilliant minds. Evans leaves Ali to the charms of Steve McQueen on the set of "The Getaway", and she leaves him.

"A man who thinks he knows the mind of a woman knows nothing," Evans opines.

His pal is Henry Kissinger, who Evans talks into coming to "The Godfather" premiere in the middle of the mining of Haiphong Harbor. Evans goes on to make "Chinatown", "Marathon Man" and most of the important films of Hoillywood's greatest era, the 1970s. He squires women who are so beautiful that it makes men drool. In the documentary, a TV host asks about it, and Evans claims to live like a monk with no life, working 24/7. As he says this a montage opf models, actresses and beauties on his arm puts the lie to this story.

Evans falls into a coke habit and gets involved with shadowy people associated with the murder of a Hollywood wannabe. He loses everything, almost including his sanity and life. Near-uicide. Drug addiction. Insanity. Debt. The loss of his house. Another Hollywood casualty.

But with the help of his pal Jack Nicholson, Evans comes back, gets his house back, again makes big pictures, and stays very much in play with the ladies.

The kid stayed in the picture.

 

Wonderland Avenue: Tales of Glamour and Excess by Danny Sugerman

ROCK'S ULTIMATE CAUTIONARY TALE, June 25, 2004

Danny Sugarman was a 14-year old kid living in the L.A. suburb of Westchester, near LAX. He was troubled, and did not like his step-father. He read an ad or heard about a rock band in Hollywood that was hiring a teenager to answer mail, so he went for and got the job. The band was The Doors. Getting from Westchester to Hollywood by bus is not all that easy, but he did it just about every day. Jim Morrison befriended him and told him not to let his parents addle his brain with Ritalin, an ironic anti-drug message coming from the Lizard King.

As a teenager, Sugarman accompanied Morrison on sojourns to the Sunset Strip, where despite his minority he was admitted to the rarified air of The Doors, The Byrds, and other classic California bands. His step-father was appalled.

Remarkably, despite his lifestyle, Sugarmnan was good enough at baseball to be offered a scholarship of some kind to play at UCLA, but his commitment to the band tugged at his dedication for the game, so he never went the diamond route.

As Morrison went downhill, so too did Sugarman. Unlike the song "No One Here Gets Out Alive", Sugarman managered, barely, to escape. After Jim's death, Sugarman picked himself up and lived in a house on Wonderland Avenue. It was all set up by Ray Manzaerek, the Doors' keyboardist extraordinaire. Manzarek, the "sensible one" among The Doors, wanted to continue the band, or at least his own musical career. Sugarman was hired to be the band's manager, and it was a lucrative life for a guy still in his early 20s. He quickly found himself drawn back into the sordid life of drugs, alcohol, sexual excess, and the like. The Wonderland address did not help, it being a small enclave off of Laurel Canyon, the famed street that connects West Hollywood with the San Fernando Valley. Its narrow canyons and streets are dotted with picturesque homes that embody the California Dream, and are inhabited (especially then) by those artists whose labors have born fruit. The Sharon Tate murders occurred in the general vicinity. Wild, loud parties were so commonplace that neighbors hearing the screams of Charles Manson's victims thought it was just another bash. John Holmes would be involved in a massacre there in the '80s. Later, this would be the area where Heidi Fleiss connected porn with Hollywood money.

Sugarman, who eventually would marry Iran-Contra ingenue Fawn Hall, lived with his gorgeous girfriend and lived the life. Aside from The Doors, he also managed the unbeliavable Iggy Pop. Once at the Beverly Hills Hotel pool, Iggy was sunning himself next to "Gilligan's Island" icon Tina Louise. Iggy plopped his manhood from out of his floppy shorts, showed it to Ms. Louise, and asked sardonically if she would care for a shag of the old English sausage. Tina politely declined.

The book describes one after the other of Sugarman's friends and associates meeting the Grim Reaper, and in the end he lists pages of names - musicians, producers, groupies, enemies, friends, girfriends, agents, and others - who died of drug overdoses in the pre-AIDS, pre-Cocaine-is-addictive era.

The message of this book is that despite glamour and fun, it is essential to be grounded, and one must do whatever he or she can to find that center.

 

The Doors (Special Edition) DVD ~ Oliver Stone

"ALRIIIGGHHHTTT!!!", June 25, 2004

 

This is the best rock movie ever made. Oliver Stone is the most talented filmmaker of all time. This is a film he gets less credit for, but it was very personal to him and brilliantly done. First of all, he nails the life of Jim Morrison, the story of The Doors, and the L.A. Scene (1960s) as perfectly as it can be done. It is beyond nostalgoia, it is time travel.

As great as Stone's use of Doors songs, scenery, drug use and beautiful, heavily-decorated '60s California girls is, it is Val Kilmer who does this turn its proudest. Kilmer probably gets to the core of a real person as thoroughly and realistically as any actor who ever portrayed actual folks.

Next on the agenda, you have to love Frank Whaley as Robbie Krieger and Kyle McLaughlin as a spot on, irritating Ray Manzarek. To those of us who really studied Morrison and The Doors, everything is flawless. The film also conveys the essence of the bar scene, particularly Morrison urinating at Barney's Beanery, which used to be a real rock hangout before it turned into a cafe.

The feeling watching "The Doors" switches between a longing for the romance and excitement of the rock life these people led, and revulsion for the drugs and immorality inherent within it.

Love my girl!

 

Rolling Thunder VHS ~ William Devane

DEVANE'S SCREEN PRESENCE, June 25, 2004

 

This is a flawed but very interesting movie. What strikes me is that it starred Bill DeVane with Tommie Lee Jones in a supporting role. At the time, DeVane was headed, seemingly, for stardom. He had been brilliant as JFK in "The Missiles of October" and even better as a turncoat spy in "Marathon Man". Yet it was Jones, not DeVane, who went on to screen greatness.

DeVane is a Vietnam flyboy, shot down, captured by the Communists, held and tortured for seven years. He returns to his family, but is estranged from them. They are killed in a robbery. This is where the film veers somewhat, because it is in the realism of his character that DeVane leaves us wanting. The realism is that DeVane has learned, been programmed, to be dehumanized. It was the only way to survive his Vietnam ordeal. As he reacts to "the world," or rather does not react to it, to his family, his wife who plans to leave him, he has no emotion left. It has all been drained from him. He speaks about "when we were alive," which was the prisoner's code for before capture. He is like a zombie. It is good method acting, but the viewer thirsts for more.

The script tries to take us there by showing DeVane with a blonde "groupie" who tags along while he sojourns into Mexico and El Paso looking for his family's killers. Eventually he teams with Jones and they exact their revenge, which is as much their personal release of violent expression against their captor as it is the killing of the robbers who murdered DeVane's family.

 

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

DRESS REHEARSHAL FOR WWII, June 24, 2004

 

 

 

EXCERPTED FROM "GOD'S COUNTRY" BY STEVEN TRAVERS

"For Whom the Bell Tolls" is based upon Hemingway?s support for the anti-Communists fighting in the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s. He and many other Americans went over to fight in the war, which some say was a "dress rehearsal" for World War II. It did not materialize into the kind of idealized Spanish government that many had sacrificed for. The fascistic Francisco Franco ended up ruling an isolationist Spain until the 1970s. While the nation is now Democratic, the Franco regime was the final event that took Spain from greatness to mediocrity. Hemingway also wrote a stageplay about the Spanish Civil War called "The Fifth Column".

 

Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

THE LOST GENERATION: THERE IS THERE THERE, June 24, 2004

EXCERPTED FROM "GOD'S COUNTRY" BY STEVEN TRAVERS...

The "lost generation" was marked by the work of American writers who journeyed to France to write in the 1920s. They included Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein, who once said of Oakland, California, "There is no there there."

Hemingway was a reporter for the Kansas City Star, a man?s man of gruff, Midwestern sentiment. He came from a family of some local prominence. Perhaps because he did not face great hardships growing up, he felt the need to test himself. In this regard, Hemingway and Teddy Roosevelt have much in common. Hemingway went looking for his manhood in World War I and found it. The experience formed him. He saw action fighting alongside the Italian allies and sustained wounds. According to his own account, he had a "life-after-death" episode. While recovering, he fell in love with a pretty American nurse. When the war ended the romance did not take, in part because Hemingway had a stubborn streak of jealousy. But he used these events to launch a career of great works, writing in a tone of melancholy wistfulness, imbued with American patriotism and the manly need to face danger, romance and adventure with courage and idealism, tinged by ironic cynicism.

"A Farewell to Arms" was his semi-autobiographical account of World War I, including his lost love with the nurse. Hemingway captured the "lost generation" in "The Sun Also Rises", which detailed American ex-patriates in Europe who were mentally and physically scarred by the Great War. His main character is unable to consummate a relationship with a beautiful woman who pines for him, because he sustained injuries in the war that prevent him from sexual functioning. The woman goes on to a career of carnal conquest with a variety of men, none of whom fulfill her. Amid much drunkenness and debauchery, the book addresses anti-Semitism, a relatively new theme in the 1920s, although Hemingway is not wholly sympathetic to Jews. When the book was made into a film in the 1950s, Daryl F. Zanuck cast a handsome young Jewish man, Robert Evans, as a Spanish bullfighter. When Evans approached "Papa" Hemingway at Yankee Stadium, the old man rebuffed him. He was furious that one of his beloved characters, a Spaniard, be portrayed by an American Jew.

 

LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL by Thomas Wolfe

YOU CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN, June 24, 2004

EXCERPTED FROM "GOD'S COUNTRY" BY STEVEN TRAVERS...

A class of writers stepped up and opposed the kind of bigotry that reared its ugly head in the 1920s. Southern writers became a breed unto themselves. Erskine Caldwell described the hardscrabble life of "Tobacco Road". William Faulkner wrote about violence and sin in the Old South, although his verbiage is very difficult to follow. Thomas Wolfe infuriated Southerners with his rejection of their ways, but ultimately his work in "Look Homeward, Angel" pays ironic homage to his roots. H.L. Mencken, editor of the American Mercury, became a leading voice of crabby intellectual conservatism, ridiculing prejudice and ignorance. Robert Frost wrote poems that put readers in New England autumns.

 

Doctor Zhivago (Special Edition) VHS ~ Omar Sharif

"IT IS MORE...JUST.", June 24, 2004

World War I and the Russian Revolution are over. Dr. Zhivago (Omar Sharif) returns to Moscow, where he had a thriving medical practice, a high place in the community, and a luxury apartment. As a member of the old order, Zhivago would have been imprisoned or hung, but he has never been political and his doctor's skills are necessary. He returns to his pad, only to discover that it is teeming with proletariat peasants. The apparatchuk tells him that such a huge apartment was a waste on just one family when it can house many. Sharif looks about, adjust, and says, "It is more...just."

 

Battle of Algiers VHS ~ Brahim Haggiag

VERY POWERFUL CAUTIONARY TALE, June 24, 2004

I finally got around to seeing this 1967 film, depicting the French occupation of colonial Algiers in the 1950s, which eventually led to the independence of this Muslim nation. It is well worth watching in order to learn lessons about the Iraq aftermath, although one should not make too many connections. The biggest difference is that the French wanted to stay and maintain the country as a colony, whereas the U.S. cannot wait to get the heck out of Iraq as soon as it is semi-secure. This film is black-and-white with sub-titles. It is very revealing in its descriptions of how terrorists (or freedom fighters) fight guerrilla war, and it is the last straw (after Diem bien Phu) for French militarism. Read Camus to get a perspective on their mindset at the time. The film ends with the French having destroyed the cell responsible for a series of bombings, but in its denoument shows that a few years later an uprising occurred, out of nowhere really, that finally left the French with the conclusion that they did not have the stomach for colonialization. This story should be studied in light of French failures in Syria, Lebanon, its Foreign Legion's wars (plus Belgium's failure in the Congo), and the determination of this study is that the French have contributed mightily to destabilization of the Middle East, a little known fact in today's discourse.

 

Reds VHS ~ Warren Beatty

USEFUL IDIOTS, June 24, 2004

EXCERPTED FROM STEVEN TRAVERS' "GOD'S COUNTRY"

The 1920s were a strange time. John Reed?s "Ten Days That Shook the World" reached a large audience in the United States and internationally. Many wanted to know why an entire planet could be thrust into war. In an attempt to address that issue, some decided that nationalism, governmental agendas, realpolitik, racism, class warfare, capitalism, Democracy, and corporations in bed with politicians and militarists were to blame.

Nationalism was part of it. German unification and Balkan nationalism played a role. Governmental agendas and realpolitik always have played a role in conflict. Since Communism addressed the concept of "one world government" and a "world without borders," some concluded that Communism offered the answer to these problems.

Racism was never an original part of the war, but would emerge as an ugly by-product. The Turks unleashed an open can of worms resulting in "ethnic cleansing" and genocide pitting Christians against Muslims, Turks against Arabs, secular vs. religious. In Germany, an easy scapegoat began to emerge: The Jews. Lies began to spread that Jewish banking interests profited from the war. In the American South Jewish influence was an affront to their sensibilities. The Ku Klux Klan rose again after a period of dormancy. The KKK?s "mandate" pitted them against a "worldwide Jewish conspiracy" somehow in league with Papal domination. They said Catholics pledge allegiance not to the U.S., but to the Vatican. But few Catholics and fewer Jews lived in the South. Many blacks did. They were becoming a more prominent segment of society. Blacks were emerging as professional athletes in the Negro baseball leagues, and as musicians in the jazz world. As they asserted themselves, this infuriated the white underclass.

But the most pernicious thing that emerged out of World War I were Westerners who believed that the war had occurred because of the failure of capitalism, Democracy, and corporations who were in bed with politicians and militarists. When Reed?s book came out, a segment of society allowed themselves to believe that the new political system in Russia should be given a chance. Communism became "the answer" to society?s many problems, including racism and poverty. The failure of Communism, already evident by 1920, was not exposed to the world. Reed either chose not to write about the thousands and thousands of famine victims, the secret police, the crackdowns and forced marches, the banishments, assassinations and disappearances, or he was controlled by the hierarchy, and not allowed to see it. He probably did not want to see it. He had found his story and he was going to stick to it. The great failure of the free press, of governments and political figures, of humanists and truth-seekers, was the failure to pin Russia - Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, and the rest of them - down before they became too powerful. To expose them for what they were.

 

Ten Days That Shook the World (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics) by John Reed

REED WAS EITHER DUPED OR PLAYED ALONG, June 24, 2004

EXCERPTED FROM "GOD'S COUNTRY" BY STEVEN TRAVERS...

The 1920s were a strange time. John Reed?s "Ten Days That Shook the World" reached a large audience in the United States and internationally. Many wanted to know why an entire planet could be thrust into war. In an attempt to address that issue, some decided that nationalism, governmental agendas, realpolitik, racism, class warfare, capitalism, Democracy, and corporations in bed with politicians and militarists were to blame.

Nationalism was part of it. German unification and Balkan nationalism played a role. Governmental agendas and realpolitik always have played a role in conflict. Since Communism addressed the concept of "one world government" and a "world without borders," some concluded that Communism offered the answer to these problems.

Racism was never an original part of the war, but would emerge as an ugly by-product. The Turks unleashed an open can of worms resulting in "ethnic cleansing" and genocide pitting Christians against Muslims, Turks against Arabs, secular vs. religious. In Germany, an easy scapegoat began to emerge: The Jews. Lies began to spread that Jewish banking interests profited from the war. In the American South Jewish influence was an affront to their sensibilities. The Ku Klux Klan rose again after a period of dormancy. The KKK?s "mandate" pitted them against a "worldwide Jewish conspiracy" somehow in league with Papal domination. They said Catholics pledge allegiance not to the U.S., but to the Vatican. But few Catholics and fewer Jews lived in the South. Many blacks did. They were becoming a more prominent segment of society. Blacks were emerging as professional athletes in the Negro baseball leagues, and as musicians in the jazz world. As they asserted themselves, this infuriated the white underclass.

But the most pernicious thing that emerged out of World War I were Westerners who believed that the war had occurred because of the failure of capitalism, Democracy, and corporations who were in bed with politicians and militarists. When Reed?s book came out, a segment of society allowed themselves to believe that the new political system in Russia should be given a chance. Communism became "the answer" to society?s many problems, including racism and poverty. The failure of Communism, already evident by 1920, was not exposed to the world. Reed either chose not to write about the thousands and thousands of famine victims, the secret police, the crackdowns and forced marches, the banishments, assassinations and disappearances, or he was controlled by the hierarchy, and not allowed to see it. He probably did not want to see it. He had found his story and he was going to stick to it. The great failure of the free press, of governments and political figures, of humanists and truth-seekers, was the failure to pin Russia - Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, and the rest of them - down before they became too powerful. To expose them for what they were.

 

Elmer Gantry (Signet Classics (Paperback)) by Sinclair Lewis

PARABLE FOR CORRUPTION, June 24, 2004

...EXCERPTED FROM "GOD'S COUNTRY" BY STEVEN TRAVERS

Sinclair Lewis exposed the corruption of Christian ministers in "Elmer Gantry". This work was centered on a flawed evangelical in the Midwest who believes in God but still uses His name to better himself. It might as well be a parable for the corruption of the Vatican until the post-Reformation period, when Catholicism finally recognized its many mistakes and began to make changes.

 

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

GET THIS MAN TO A CHURCH, June 24, 2004

Henry Miller?s "Tropic of Cancer" was a biographical novel of his years as an ex-pat in Paris. It includes tremendously creative, wonderful writing, but in the light of retrospection much of it is reduced to gratuitous pornography. When it was written in the 1930s, Miller?s graphic sexual content was considered avant-garde, shocking and artistic. It was banned for this reason until 1961. This was the best thing that could have happened to Miller and the book, creating a cause celebre. But reading it in 2004, it is rather incoherent and, if it came out today, it would not hold up to scrutiny the way Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe stand the test of time. Miller's "cancer" appears to be a cancer of the soul. His descriptions of Parisian life in the 1930s - the whore houses, the scum, the thieves, liars and morally corrupt - describe an eating away of goodness, the way real cancer eats away at bone, skin and body. Reading Miller, one wants to shout, "Get this man to a church." Liberals would excoriate this sentiment as judgment, which of course has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the one thing that could have saved Miller from his moral atrophy is and always will be the Lord Jesus Christ!

 

 

Bowling for Columbine DVD ~ Michael Moore (II)

LENI RIEFENSTAHL OF THE AMERICAN LEFT, June 24, 2004

 

 

 

Michael Moore is talented, compelling and successful. He is a propagandist who takes information, mixes in about 15 percent truth with about 70 percent lies and about 15 percent exaggeration, and passes it off as journalism.

 

The West Wing - The Complete Second Season DVD ~ Martin Sheen

"THE LEFT WING", June 23, 2004

"The West Wing" (or "The Left Wing" as us conservatrives call it) is a brilliant piece of work, well written and very well acted. For political junkies, it is Manna from Heaven. Aaron Sorkin is a dedicated Democrat, as is the star's show, Martin Sheen. It is a show that attempts to make Democrats look like idealistic, well meaning, courageous, 24/7 workaholics. These people do exist, but in light of the recent death of Ronald Reagan and the new Bill Clinton book, it is instructive to recall that this show, along with "The American President", was an attempt to disuade the public from the realities of the Clinton Presidency. If the Democrats were all like the ones shown in "The West Wing", they would get 90 percent of the vote.

Th show does try to stay balanced on occasion, but a comparison between President Bartlett and his wife and Bill and Hillary Clinton provides a dose of reality that is not of help to Clinton apologists.

 

Reagan: A Life in Letters by Kiron K. Skinner (Editor), et al

UP FRONT AND UP-BEAT, June 23, 2004

What strikes me about the letters written by Ronald Reagan throughout his life is that here is a man with strong opinions, which many agreed with and many did not. But Reagan was not afraid to air his opinions, to put his name and his face on his words. The world is filled with people who skulk in the shadows, hiding behind a veil of secrecy, spewing critcisms and non-entities under the guise of anonymity or assumed aliases. Reagan dealt with these kinds of low people when he was dealing with Communists in Hollywood. He triumphed over his critics in a manner that all people of goodness, conscience and honesty can learn from. He was proud of his accomplishments, and continually strove to do the right thing despite the bickerings and mutterings of those who were not pimples on his rear end. This is a fine lesson to learn from his letters. He was himself always - upright, proud, never hiding from his purpose but always willing to take full responsibility for himself.

 

When Character Was King: A Story of Ronald Reagan by Peggy Noonan

"DON'T LET THE TURKEYS GET YOU DOWN.", June 23, 2004

 

 

 

When Ronald Reagan left office, he told George H.W. Bush, "Don't let the turkeys get you down." This is sage advice of the highest order, and applies to all people, famous or not. This is the Ronald Reagan that Peggy Noonan writes about.

Reagan was excoriated during his time, but he never became petty. The way he handled criticism is a model for the way all good people should handle criticism. The Reagan model is to stay positive and upbeat, no matter what the drumbeat of stupidity is. To follow his example is to stay above the fray, to maintain the Christian principle "forgive me my tresspasses, as I forgive those who trespass against me." The lessons that average people can learn from Reagan is that if you are a good and decent person, even if the small people, the various and sundry pizzants of the Dumbellionite Class, the ignoramuses, the people of low moral character, the dregs and the ne'r'do'wells attempt to mock you, to bring you down to their level, to react with jealousy at succeses they are unable to achieve, simply continue on a path of honesty and good works. Forgive them and let not your heart be troubled.

God bless Ronald Reagan.

 

Band of Brothers DVD

GREATEST TV SHOW OF ALL TIME, June 22, 2004

On the heels of "Saving Private Ryan", Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks co-produced this no-holds-barred HBO TV show that follows a single World War II airborne unit, Easy Company (Company E) from training to D-Day to Operation Market Garden to the Bulge to the kicking-in of the heartbreaking German concentration camps, and finally to the melancholy end of the war and, inevitably, the breaking-up of the unit as they take their first tentative steps towards becoming regular American citizens again.

The show does not hold back from showing death and destruction. Characters we are just beginning to care about suddenly die. This recreates the terrible cost of friendship among the soldiers themselves.

 

Some characters are incredibly brave. Others are cowards or incompetents. The key is to avoid cartoon depictions, and demonstrate the humanity of ordinary people placed in extraordinary circumstances. Along the way, they take to the challenges placed before them and accomplish the greatest victory in history. One is left with the inevitable truth that they have done the greatest thing in 2000 years of modern history, and a world has been saved by their deeds.

 

Training Day DVD ~ Denzel Washington

GROUNDBREAKING RACIAL BARRIERS ARE SCALED, June 22, 2004

Back in the "go go" 1980s, during the heady era of Wall Street "greed," I read an article about a black stock broker indicted by the SEC for insider trading. It struck me that, in an odd way, this was indicative of progress for African-Americans. They had to have access to the inside in order to be indicted for it. In the old days, they never would have had those doors opened in the first place.

Which brings me to "Training Day", in which Denzel Washington delivers an astonishingly good performance as a totally corrupt and evil L.A. cop. The fact that an African-American leading man is portrayed as the "bad guy" is truly groundbreaking, and just another reason to look at this film and be in awe of it. In the same strange twist as the stock broker, here we see a black cop who has all the doors of sin open to him. Like the white cops of the Jim Crow South, he takes to corruption in a way that has no skin color. It is the story of humanity, temptation and power.

Blacks on film have for a number of years now been shown either one way or the other. There is no shortage of depictions of black drug dealers, gangbangers and "homies." Hollywood then tries to make up for it by portraying blacks as doctors, lawyers, voices of conscience or reason, and the most frequent stereotype, the "tough but fair police commander."

The negative portrayals of blacks, however, were never played by big name actors. Washington himself has built a career as a guy more or less saving the world in "Crimson Tide" and "Fallen". His flaws in "Ricochet" are brought out only by a vindictive white man (John Lithgow). In "Training Day", Denzel is all on his charismatic own, a product of a world that he is convinced revolves around him. By choosing to pursue this amazing role, Denzel demonstrates the kind of courage that is rare among actors.

Think of Robert Redford, for instance. Redford never let his hair down. He played heroes and fantasy figures. Every so often, however, a superstar will break type. Paul Newman did it in "Hud". So did Robert Duvall in "The Great Santini".

What is even more astonishing in "Training Day" is not just that a black guy is the bad guy, but a white guy (Ethan Hawke) is a clearly marked, unfettered hero, placed in utter contrast and opposition to the villain. "Candy Man", a B movie franchise of the early 1990s, featured the politically explosive portrayal of a black man slicing and dicing his way through white women, but this was hardly big time fare.

"Training Day" takes all the Political Correctness of the past 20 years and explodes it. Hawke not only is innocent and good in contrast with Denzel, but he is a Lancelot-type figure who comes to the aid of a Latino-girl-in-distress, and later faces torture and terror at the hands of a group of Mexican gangbangers. The actors who portray these guys are so good, so real and so terrifying that if you met them on the streets, even knowing they were just acting, you would be a little frightened.

By no means does "Training Day" leave the viewer groping with the uncomfortable notion that "white is right." The performances are too real and too powerful. It is only in retrospect that one realizes this is truly groundbreaking stuff. Denzel Washington is extraordinary. His performance in this film is among the very best ever seen. There are not enough superlatives, not enough words, than can do justice to his edgy power.

"Training Day" leaves the thinking viewer utterly exhausted and left in some kind of daze, grateful only that they do not live in the netherworld shown herein. Look at Ethan's face when he rides the bus after escaping, through pure luck and coincidence, death at the hands of the gangbangers. He is beaten. His actions afterwards are about redemption, a decision to take his life in a new direction in which expediency and innocence are no longer options. He has been transformed into a reluctant avenging angel, forced to face evil and fear because he cannot turn back. It is the story of Original Sin. Ethan represents what the viewer does not have the gumption to be at this point. The viewer wants only to crawl in a hole and forget what (s)he has seen, but Ethan's character is about the confrontation of good vs. evil that must take place if humanity hopes to advance.

 

The suitors of spring by Pat Jordan

AS REAL AS IT GETS IN A SURREAL WORLD, June 17, 2004

Those of us who are profesional sportswriters spend a lot of time in press boxes with other writers who criticize what they see on the field, but either never played the game or never played it well. "The Suitors of Spring" is brilliantly written by Pat Jordan, who did play the game. It also brings to mind some of the best sports books ever. "Ball Four's" Jim Bouton played the game. "North Dallas Forty's" Peter Gent played the game.

Having stood on the mound, facing down a hitter with the bases loaded, the crowd yelling, the opposition hurling insults, your future on the line and the hair standing up on the back of his neck, is an experience known by few. Jordan knows it.

Here he writes about pitchers, his specialty. He writes about superstars like Tom Seaver, playboys like Bo Belinsky, hardthrowing drunks like Steve Dalkowski, 6-6 lefties who never lived up their potential, like Sam McDowell, and prep phenoms from his home state of Connecticut who met the same fate as the author.

Jordan's talent is not one that can be learned in a literary class. He is of the school of hard knoocks, rough hewn, real, human. Bravo, Pat.

 

PROLOGUE

 

 

A SLICE OF THE WRITER’S LIFE

 

Development hell in Hollywood. The giddy highs and layoff lows of a dot-bomb. The Column is giveth, The Column is taketh away. The Authorized Barry Bonds Autobiography and the big, bad world of New York publishing. For seven years, Steven Travers has experienced the up-and-down world of the Writer’s Life…and lived to tell about it.

 

The scene that tells more about the plight of the modern writer is the one from Robert Altman’s 1992 classic, “The Player”, when smarmy studio boss Griffith Mill (played by Tim  Robbins) is confronted by unknown screenwriter David Kahane, who says “Whaddaya gonna do when you can’t cut it at the studio anymore, eh Grif? Huh? Whaddaya gonna do you when you can’t do any more deals? Whaddaya gone do then, man? Me? I can write.”

 

I felt like saying those very words to Andy Solomon, who as President and CEO had transformed StreetZebra from a thriving sports magazine to a failed web site, thus effectuating my layoff from their staff.

 

As if being able to write is somehow a more beneficial skill than knowing how to raise Other People’s Money.

 

Back to “The Player”. About five seconds after getting his feelings off his chest, Kahane is killed by Mill. Mill, of course, gets away with it. Well, after being metaphorically “killed” by Solomon, I kept on writing, and kept on getting “killed.” Solomon, if my instincts are right, “got away with it,” too.

 

StreetZebra died an ugly death, the details of which are posted for all to see on www.f----dcompany.com’s web site. All those people were thrown to the tender mercies of unemployment (with the collateral human costs that go with it). I have no doubt, however, that Andy and his humanity-challenged brother/partner, Jeff, golden parachuted out of Southern California to their older bro/benefactor, a Wall Street moneychanger who no doubt rounded up some more OPM for them to play with.

 

But let’s go back to the beginning, before I was a writer. I was a Golden Boy. No slacker I, wasting my youth on a skateboard or some such nonsense. Long before my thirtieth birthday, I had the resume of a future politician, which is what many thought I was going to be. After leading my suburban California high school baseball team to the National Championship, I earned an athletic scholarship to college, where I was an all-conference pitcher. I played professionally for the Cardinals and A’s (once striking out 1989 National League MVP Kevin Mitchell five times in one game), and after graduation from the University of Southern California, did a stint in the Army, coached at USC and Cal-Berkeley, and then lived in Europe for a year, where I was paid to chase women, lift weights and manage a baseball team. I also went to law school, married my college sweetheart, became a father, bought a house, and became the protégé of the partner in the law firm I went to work for.

 

They call that the fast track.

 

The law partner was a player in Orange County Republican politics, and I found myself consulting on campaigns and directing “opposition research,” which is another way of saying I found the dirt on Democrats. I was hobnobbing with guys like Pete Wilson, Bob Dornan and John Sunnunu. Before we could divide the world between us, however, an old friend from little league talked me into going into the sports agent’s business with him.

 

We represented Al Martin, then a hot young outfielder with the Pittsburgh Pirates. We made enough commission off Al’s appearances and commercial marketing to keep us going until negotiating his multi-year contract prior to the 1995 season. On August 12, 1994, however, baseball went on strike. Martin’s marketing appearances ended, as did our income. Martin did not say, “Show me the money,” but he might as well have, because when we did not he went back to his old agent before we ever negotiated that big deal. It was “Jerry Maguire” without the happy ending.

 

Aside from Martin, we represented Bo Belinsky, a retired ballplayer who still made appearances at card shows and old-timers days. Bo had been a colorful raconteur, a confidante of Gene Autry, Walter Winchell, Frank Sinatra, J. Edgar Hoover, and Hugh Hefner whose life would make a great movie. Bo regaled us with stories of Hollywood producers who wanted to make this movie.

 

This got me to thinking. I had studied at the USC School of Cinema-Television and written speeches for politicians. I came from a journalistic family. My grandfather, Charles S. Travers, had covered the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, and then started a Variety-style Hollywood trade magazine during the silent film era. Eventually, he was elected president of the San Francisco Press Club. His brother, Reg Travers, was an acclaimed Shakespearean actor, and the press conference room at Cal’s Memorial Stadium was named after my uncle, Col. Charles T. Travers.

 

I decided to write the screenplay.

 

I got Bo’s biographer, Maury Allen, to give me the book rights, and in about a month hammered out a script and caught the writer’s bug. Big time. I discovered that nothing I had ever done – challenging Kevin Mitchell with inside heat, rubbing shoulders with pols, or trying to be Leigh Steinberg – infused me with the kind of passion that writing did.

 

In that month, time stood still. I found myself writing until two, three, four o’clock in the morning. It was pure joy, unfettered by Doubt or Fear. It was like those commercials for MasterCard: “Discovering your life’s work…priceless.” It was the closest I have ever come to attaining Zen. I knew how Phil Jackson must feel.

 

The script, “Once He Was An Angel”, was submitted to several screenplay contests and earned kudos. It found its way into the hands of an agent at CAA. Oliver Stone’s guy said, “This is something Oliver might like.” People said it had the “gritty, New York texture of `Raging Bull’,” and suggested that somebody like Bobby or Marty could do it justice.

 

I was in it up to my elbows. No more law career. No more politics. No more coddling spoiled athletes. I took classes at the Hollywood Film Institute and in the UCLA Writers’ Program. I read every book on the craft I could get my hands on. Screenwriting meant entrepreneurial and creative freedom. It meant money and fame. I pictured explaining myself to the New York literary crowd and a breathless Charlie Rose. I would not let success change me, of course. I would still love my parents and drink in the same Karaoke bar with my buddies. Divorced by this time, though, I had a duty to make myself available to as many actresses, models, Raiderettes, strippers and porn stars as possible. Because I could. Of course, I would still be a great dad, in the raffish style of Rhett Butler.

 

Dale Crase, who said he was a partner with Frank Capra, Jr. and Frank Capra III, the son and grandson of the famed director, optioned the script.

 

Then Crase asked me for money.

 

Cancel the New York trip and put Charlie Rose on hold. The same with DeNiro and Scorsese. Stone? He passed. I still loved my parents and my kid, drank in Karaoke’s with my buds, and the girls, well, they looked like porn stars if you had enough alcohol.

 

Real producers never ask writers for money. Dale Crase, obviously, was not a real producer. I kept trying to arrange a meeting with the Capras. I finally found Frank, Jr. at a premiere, and when I asked him about Crase and our project I got, “Is he still trying to do something with that?”

 

I considered it a great experience anyway. I was hooked on writing and films and still had the bloom of youth on my side. Of course I got out of business with Crase, and over the years the Belinsky project has traveled a longer road than Chairman Mao. It is now in the hands of GoodMachine, a New York company that produced “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, which is about as different a genre from “Once He Was An Angel” as is possible.

 

From 1994 to 1999, I wrote 12 screenplays, one teleplay and one stage play. I wrote songs. I wrote treatments. I wrote essays and speeches. Sitting in my little seaside house in Hermosa Beach, California I became a true freelance writer. I earned some more screenplay contest awards, had scripts optioned, wrote some for hire, and managed to stay solvent. I did not make anywhere close to the money I could have made had I stayed with the law or continued to pimp athletes, but I was confident I had made the <I>write</I> choice.

 

I also discovered “development hell.” Development hell is where scripts in “various stages of development” go, usually to die. I also discovered the vagaries of the Hollywood “packaging” system.

 

As my career grew as a scriptwriter/”doctor,” I landed an agent. Now, there are many different kinds of agents. If you land an agent who never returns your phone calls, you probably have the kind of high-powered individual who can make your career fly. If you land the kind who calls you the day he receives your query letter, you may have landed a guy who throws nice C-list parties.

 

I did have fun at some of those parties, though. C-list actresses are more fun than stars, and my script agent is a very nice guy. Running into the “packaging” system is less fun, however.

 

I discovered some historical material about three World War I Congressional Medal of Honor winners who led the overmatched “Lost Battalion” to victory over surrounding German forces during the Argonne Offensive. Being the kind of right wing super patriot that I am, and considering also that “Saving Private Ryan” was the biggest movie of that year (1998), I was compelled to write the screenplay.

 

About a year after I wrote “The Lost Battalion”, I was reading an article about actor James Woods in Parade.

 

“Woods’ next project,” it said, “is `The Lost Battalion.’ `It’s a story of valor and heroism, set in World War I,’ says Woods. `I’m working with my friend, producer Edgar Scherick.’”

 

Hmm. I called my agent and told him about this.

 

“I know Edgar,” said my agent. “Let me see if I can set up a meeting.”

 

I did not exactly hold my breath, but lo and behold, the meeting was set. It seems that Jim Carabatsos, who wrote “Hamburger Hill”, had written another version of “The Lost Battalion”. A buddy of mine with some inside pull actually got me a copy of it, which I read.

 

My version was better. Edgar thought so, too. Scherick was well into his 70s, but still a well-respected producer with a development deal at Showtime. Talking to him was a challenge, though. He’s a tough New Yorker who started ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” and loves baseball. He would pepper me with questions about why Dodger manager Davey Johnson was playing Jose Vizcaino, or whether I thought Mike Piazza was the best-hitting catcher of all time, or whether I preferred to challenge hitters with my fastball or pitch a more crafty game.

 

No sooner would I launch into one subject than he would change the conversation. He answers questions with questions, and pretends he does not hear the ones he does not wish to answer. Still, I think he was happy to meet a writer who does not fit the mold. I am 6-6, 220 pounds, and no more intimidated by a Hollywood producer than I was by Jose Canseco.

 

It was communicated to my agent that Edgar wanted me in on the project. That is when the trouble began. International Creative Management was handling “the project.”

 

ICM, a venerable talent agency located in a gleaming modern glass and steel structure on Wilshire Boulevard, in the toniest possible section of Beverly Hills, had “packaged” “The Lost Battalion”.

 

That means that they represented Woods (the star, the director and the co-producer), along with Carabatsos (the writer). Along comes Unknown Steve Travers and His C-List Agent.

 

Call it gumming up the works. Throwing a monkey wrench at things. Screwin’ the duke.

 

Anyway, the lawyers got involved. You can only imagine where it went from there.

 

Development hell.

 

Edgar ran from it faster than Ben Johnson’s 100 at the 1988 Olympics. Woods went from “a story of valor and heroism” to “Dirty Pictures”, which glorified the semi-pornographer Robert Mapplethorpe. At least you cannot say Woods lacks range. Eventually, A&E produced it, starring Rick Schroder, broadcast in December, 2001. I was completely aced out of the deal. I have the letters from lawyers to prove it.

 

Lawyers in Hollywood are a lovely group. They cannot just let you get screwed. They have to memorialize it on their stationary.

 

That experience made me decide to expand my writing horizons. Being a sports fan, I decided to become a sports columnist for the Los Angeles Times. All I had to do was convince the L.A. Times.

 

Being a columnist with the Times is one of the most coveted jobs in journalism. Sports editor Bill Dwyre informed me that “you’re a very good writer. You do excellent work, but the Times only hires columnists from within the paper, or from major metropolitan dailies.”

 

Being an obscure screenwriter did not count. Still, people do not call me Bud Fox for nothing. Remember Bud Fox, Charlie Sheen’s character in “Wall Street”?

 

“The kid,” says Gordon Gekko (played by Michael Douglas). “Calls me every day for five straight months. Your picture oughta be in the dictionary under persistence.”

 

Dwyre got similar treatment from me. He could not decide whether to hire me or a hit man to get rid of me. I had the man wavering. I did not have a big body of sports work at that time, but he had enough eye for talent to see I had it in spades, and he may have just given me my shot except that I got an offer to write for StreetZebra Magazine instead.

 

The Internet Revolution was in full swing. StreetZebra had evolved from a magazine started a few years prior by an enterprising UCLA graduate named Zach Beimes. Hawaii-native Beimes was smart and a workaholic, with a passion for sports and a knack for publishing.

 

I like to think I knocked his socks off, but in those days every warm body that could write words in the English language was being hired by dot-coms as a “content manager.”

 

Therein lies the problem. StreetZebra did not have to be a dot-com. It was a nice, big, traditional rag that looked like ESPN The Magazine, specializing in all thing sports-related in L.A. – the Dodgers, Angels, Lakers, USC, UCLA, etc. The articles had some of that Jim Rome “edge” to them, we had good photographs, and we managed to get pictures of beautiful women with large breasts liberally sprinkled throughout our pages. Our target audience was males, 16-30.  

 

So one day Zach takes a stack of his magazines across Lincoln Boulevard in Marina del Rey, where our offices were, to this web site company called www.athletedaily.com. He wanted to sell ad space to Andy Solomon, who ran www.athletedaily.com. Solomon decided instead of buying an ad, he would buy the company. Money was plentiful, courtesy of his investment banker brother at Goldman Sachs in New York.

 

The idea was to create a web site, www.streetzebra.com. The magazine was the perfect marketing tool, something to show investors that was tangible and real, a source of advertising revenue. Never mind that Solomon (or his younger bro, Jeff) knew nothing about publishing. Andy did not even know much about sports, although Jeff did possess some knowledge. They did not know anything about web sites, either, but neither did many of the twenty something sudden millionaires of this giddy period.

 

I was not about to complain. They gave me a column and made me their star writer. The money was good; I paid off my debts and was promised the editor’s job as soon as we expanded, which was going to be soon.

 

Great times.

 

We bought several companies, including the U.S. Sport & Social Clubs, a thriving venture with offices spread throughout America. Solomon flew everybody out to Phoenix for a weekend of drinking and sex. The rule at StreetZebra was that if you were a woman and wanted to work there, you had to be a “hottie.” A typical dot-com.

 

Solomon introduced all the StreetZebra employees, and when he came to me I swear I saw the man go into genuflection.

 

“Steve is great, a helluva writer,” he told several hundred people. “This man possesses encyclopedic knowledge of sports and history. He is a poet, an artist who agonizes over every word and works the longest hours in the company, maximizing every phrase until each article is his individual Masterpiece.” 

 

The beginning of the end was a few weeks after our love fest in Arizona, when it was announced that most of those Sport & Social Club employees, who all had jobs before being bought by StreetZebra, were being laid off.

 

The web producer who explained it to us sounded like Ross Perot when he inanely compared people who no longer could support their families, with looking under the hood of a used car.

 

I knew we were headed down a bad path after that, and I was right. The thing is, though, it was avoidable. It was avoidable because we had something real and actual, in the form of a great sports magazine. If we had concentrated on subscriptions and advertised what we had, we could have survived. Rather than using the web site to promote the magazine, we used the magazine to promote the web site. This is the single most glaring mistake learned during the dot-com revolution. Not only that, the site was devoted to intramural athletics, not the hard-hitting coverage of pro, college and high school sports that made the magazine popular in the first place. 

 

Solomon dumped piles of dough into hiring shads of new people to do God-only-knows-what. Every Friday afternoon somebody would haul in the beer and we would be introduced to four or five new technicians, web coordinators, and diagnostic traffic functionaries. These were people right out of school who had grown up with computers, and therefore had convinced Solomon (who had not) that they were worth another $70,000. They all formed a kind of Mad Monk Squadron under the auspices of this dude, maybe 27 years old, who kept his dog in the office, and had a habit for alcohol, drugs and sexual harassment.

 

I observed all these new people, and quickly deduced that this could be a zero sum game in which every dollar these web gurus made was money I would not make. I knew it was only a matter of time before my job was lost, along with any semblance of good journalism.

 

Of course, I was right, and naturally since I was the highest-paid writer, I was the first to be let go. Ray Charles could have seen it coming, but it was still a shock. My agent had written a letter to Solomon, saying that my review was coming up and I deserved a raise, a private office, and asking for him to honor his promise of making me the editor. The day the letter arrived, I was laid off. Andy spun my newfound unemployment, uncertainty and financial hardship as a chance to “pursue your art.” I felt like punching the SOB in the nose.

 

I got to keep my stock options, which a few months later, when the entire company crashed, were as useless as tits on a boar. The final joke was on some of our employees on a business trip to Chicago, who had to fly back to L.A. on their own dime because the company abandoned them, like CIA agents on a black ops mission gone badly.   

 

I blame Andy and Jeff, and I harbored some ill will towards them. The “human cost” included the end of my relationship with a woman I had planned to marry. I had finally found true love and wedding bells were ready to chime, until the company folded. At first we decided to postpone the nuptials, but the strain of the situation helped end it for us. As a Christian I am taught to “forgive those who trespass against” me, so I wrote Andy a letter doing just that. I forgive, but I do not forget.

 

By the time StreetZebra folded, I had accumulated enough body of work and local reputation to have something of a name for myself, which I parlayed into writing for the L.A. Times (not a column) and doing occasional sports reports for San Diego’s XTRA radio.

 

Then an opportunity arose with the San Francisco Examiner.

 

Now, Dave Burgin, the editor of the Examiner, is a throwback, an old school newspaper guy, and the chance to work with him is one any young writer should take advantage of. Now in his 60s, Burgin has suffered a stroke that requires him to take steroids, which have puffed up his appearance and left him unable to pursue his other great passion, golf.

 

A Vietnam vet, Burgin may be slow physically but not mentally. Bob Rose, who headed the San Francisco Giants’ publicity department, calls him the “Billy Martin of the newspaper business” because he comes in to papers that are struggling, in a short while turns them around, and then wears out his welcome.

 

Burgin realized that, in order to compete with the higher-circulation San Francisco Chronicle, he needed to beef up the sports section. That meant bringing in a top-flight sports columnist.

 

That would be me.      

 

“You’re our Franchise Player,” Burgin said to me. Here was a guy who was a drinking buddy of Pulitzer Prize-winner Ron Fimrite, a confidante of Hunter Thompson who was referenced in several of Thompson’s “gonzo” books; a guy who knew Ted Williams intimately…and he was telling me I was a “great writer. I picked you out. You are truly unique, an educated athlete whose personal story is interesting, who can speak the players’ language and tell their story with intellectuality. When that happens, it’s incredible. You’ll be the best columnist in the Bay Area, a superstar. ”

 

Half of me was puffed up twice my size by the flattery. The other half waited for the other shoe to drop.

 

A “column junkie,” Burgin had shaped the careers of people like syndicated New York Times’ columnist Maureen Dowd, and now he was going to do the same for me, all while I was paid a big-city columnist’s salary for the privilege.

 

So I went to work for the Ex, covering all sports in the Bay Area, which by this time has surpassed Los Angeles as a major Sports Capital. After all, L.A. no longer has a pro football team, but the Bay Area has two. Dodger Stadium is an aging beauty, but Pacific Bell Park may be the best yard in baseball. No longer do USC and UCLA run roughshod over Cal and Stanford.

 

It was one of the best jobs a sports journalist can hope to have. It was too good to be true. In May, 2001, Jim Mohr, the sports editor, informed me that because of a failure to meet budget, caused in part by a downturn in the economy, caused in part by the disaster in the dot-com industry (a major source of advertising revenue), the paper was laying off nine writers.

 

Being the highest-paid sportswriter, cutting my salary meant saving the most money, so I was one of them. As Yogi Berra said, it was “Déjà vu all over again,” in that I was losing another great job because my employer was not cutting it, and in a roundabout way I was a victim of the Internet bust a second time. I guess being their Franchise Player and The Best Columnist in the Bay Area was no more a hedge against disaster than being A Poet, An Artist Who Agonizes Over Every Word. 

 

Ya know, professionally I can say that I would have no luck if I did not have bad luck. I am not complaining. God has blessed me with a beautiful daughter, great parents, and a chance to live in a safe environment during great times. I have always been healthy and I think I have my priorities straight.

 

Still, I have asked myself whether the reason I have not achieved “my destiny,” as General George Patton once called it, was because I had drank too many Long Island Ice Teas, or lusted a little too lustily after those poor, innocent women who found their way in my star-crossed path. Call it paying for my sins. Or Bad Karma. Maybe God was saying, “Look, kid, you might have a chance at Heaven, and you get a great child and good family, but unless you clean up your act you’ll never win an Oscar, or a Pulitzer.”

 

Heck, God, I’d just take steady income. Then I think that God probably has more important things to worry about than punishing me because I feel a particular way about big-busted women in lingerie.

 

When things get tough, I think of the words of G. Gordon Liddy, who spoke at USC when I was there. Liddy described his darkest early days of prison as “the beginning of the most interesting period of my life. I still had my intelligence, my will, and my education.”

 

I, too, still had all those things. Richard Nixon (sorry about all the Republican references) once said that the world was full of intelligent failures, educated failures, and failures with great ideas. The person who doggedly pursues his goals, who never quits (“…because that’s when they win,” said Nixon) is the one who succeeds.

 

My attorney father used to tell me that “Quitters never win, and winners never quit.” He and my Mom always supported and encouraged me. I also remembered reading stories about Colonel Sanders, who never got Kentucky Fried Chicken off the ground until his 70s, and Abe Lincoln, who suffered personal and professional failures over and over again until ascending to the Shakespearean Presidency.

 

So I did what I always do when times are tough. I thought. When Bill Gates was a teenager, his mother called down to his room to tell him dinner was ready, but he did not respond. Annoyed at his silence, she finally confronted him.

 

“What are you doing?” she asked.

 

“Thinking,” said Gates, stone-faced.  

 

Thinking is a great thing, a province of Intellect. Long walks on the beach and solo road trips can be fruitful times for The Thinker. So is unemployment. There I was in my hilltop Marin County home, thinking and watching the Giants and Braves on the tube. Thinking.

 

Barry Bonds was in the middle of a May stretch in which he was hitting six or seven homers in as many games. He was tomahawking homers to left-center, inside-outing balls opposite field, launching rockets into McCovey Cove.  

 

The guy was way ahead of Mark McGwire’s pace of 70 home runs in 1998, and while it was only May, a light bulb went off in my head. The guy would be 37 in July and he was having the best season of his career in a free agent year that might see him eventually sign with the Yankees. He is the best player in baseball, the Player of the Decade in the 1990s, a guy with 500 career homers, which combined with his eventual 500 stolen bases would put him in a category twice removed from the next-best 300/300 elites. He would probably get 3,000 hits, and maybe challenge Hank Aaron’s career mark of 755 homers. His father was Giants’ star Bobby Bonds, his Godfather was Willie Mays, and his cousin was Reggie Jackson. He had grown up in San Francisco and was playing for his hometown team, in a new stadium built for him that was filled to capacity every night. His team has a chance to play in the World Series.

 

I calculated that if Bonds could win a Series, break McGwire’s and Aaron’s record, get 3,000 hits, and establish the 500/500 Club, that an argument could someday be made that he is the greatest player in baseball history. This guy should have a book written about him, or by him. Age 37, roughly three years prior to an athlete’s retirement, is the most marketable time for sports books. If he broke Big Mac’s record, that would make this an enormous book, but even if he did not he still had earned his shot. San Francisco is one of the top book markets in the country, too. 

 

I had interviewed Barry and written favorably about him, so I went to the man. Every other writer in San Francisco treats him like the Abominable Snowman, because he can be rude, is said to be a jerk, and worse. I had seen him give writers the brush-off with my own eyes, but I also thought about some other things. Yes, he had gotten bad publicity during a messy divorce in the 1990s, but nobody had ever heard about him getting a DUI, doing drugs, getting arrested, hitting anybody - man or woman – or failing to pay child support. He was a loving family man, happily re-married, a college guy. Bonds is smart, articulate, and handsome, an American kid with a story to tell.   

 

Yes, he had grown up a spoiled child. Hell’s bells, so had I.

 

“Definitely,” Barry said when asked if he wanted to write a book with me.

 

He decided to authorize me to write his book. It was June 21, 2001, the first day of summer and longest day of the year, and at 100 degrees the hottest. All I can say is that, I do not dispute other writers have had problems with the guy, and he may not be as accessible as Jason Giambi, but I always found a nice, polite, smiling person who was enjoyable to be around. No wonder he wanted to write a book. The world thought he was a jerk, and he figured the best way to prove he is not is to tell his story, unfiltered by daily media interpretation, like Ronald Reagan going over the head of Congress and straight to the public.

 

Maybe it was just me. Having come to San Francisco from L.A., I was not a longtime part of the Bay Area media, and I did not carry years of negative baggage with Bonds. Being 6-6, in great shape, and a former professional pitcher, probably helped. Players like to say to writers, “How would you know what it’s like out there? Have you ever played?” Most cannot say yes past the JVs, but I had battled a few stalwarts at the professional level. Maybe that is too complex. Maybe he just thought it was a good idea.

 

So, I secured a top literary agent, Basil Kane, and we put together a proposal. I had known Basil for six years, calling him a couple times a year with ideas for books.

 

“Nobody reads books,” is all he ever said. The man gave new meaning to Negativity and Cynicism. Until I brought up the Bonds idea, at a time when Barry was on a pace to hit about 88 homers. 

 

“You’ve got something here,” said Basil in his understated British way. “Congratulations, we should smoke a cigar in celebration. Bonds may be the biggest sports book of the year, an automatic best seller. We could command an advance upwards of half a million dollars.”

 

I looked out my window at the Marin hills, the waters of San Francisco Bay, the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and The City skyline. Remember the scene in “Jerry Maguire” where Tom Cruise secures “the great Frank Kushman” as his client going into the NFL draft? Maguire is so happy that he gets in his car and searches the radio for an appropriately glorious tune that he can sing along with, his anthem to success against long odds. That was me singing “I’m freeeee…”

 

I would split $500,000 with Barry and become his partner. I would be the envy of my associates, a best-selling author, and a wealthy, successful man pursuing his profession at the height of his career. A man in full, as Tom Wolfe might say.

 

Charlie Rose would end up breathlessly listening to me after all. Barry and I would travel the book circuit in the off-season, living it up in New York and Chicago and other media centers that would roll out the red carpet for us. Whenever ESPN or somebody did retrospectives on the career of the great Bonds, I would be sought out for interviews, like Bob Woodward when experts are needed to discuss the role of the press in politics.

 

Other celebrities would seek me out to write their stories with them. Shaq and Kobe. Condoleeza Rice, Brittney Spears, Tiger Woods. In between my best sellers I would write serious books on politics and history, and the Pulitzer would be mine.

 

My celebrity status would mean old screenplays could be dusted off and produced. Book rights and new scripts would put me in the Hollywood mainstream. I would have to write an Oscar speech. I could afford to send my daughter to USC after all.

 

I would be a multi-media star, with a syndicated column and talk show on radio, television and the web. Catherine Zeta-Jones would tire of that old guy Michael Douglas and the tabloids would show us attending premieres together.

 

Eventually, 20 years down the road, I would run for Congress or the Senate. 

 

In the immortal words of Aerosmith, “Dream on.”  

 

We went to the New York publishers. Mergers, consolidation and a world full of Dumbellionites who do not know Ernest Hemingway from “Ernest Scared Stupid” have reduced the number of important publishers to about six or seven. In the 1960s and ‘70s, before the Internet, cable, video and computer games, sports books were big. Everybody who was a name in the game wrote a book and did well by them.

 

Despite the diminished market, Basil assured me this was still The One for 2001. Oh, how wrong he was. You may have heard a loud sound. That was the collective New York publishing industry closing their doors on the Authorized Barry Bonds Book Project. I knew there would be New York bias against a San Francisco athlete, and I knew some people would say Barry was not a nice guy, he would not be cooperative, he would be this and he would be that.

 

Blah, blah, blah.

 

I still figured that the sheer greatness of his accomplishments would be worthy of a book, and besides, the chance of his breaking the record would push us over the top.

 

What we got, to quote Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in the Tahoe scene of “Godfather II”, was “Nothing.” No offers. Not even contingency offers, if he breaks the record. Not even a request to talk to Barry, to make sure he would make appearances to promote sales.

 

Of course, I felt like a certifiable a—hole when I had to go back to Barry and tell him, “Oh, by the way, regarding those half-million dollar offers I said we would be entertaining, well, forget it.”

 

Athletes are used to “their people” delivering the goods. “Show me the money!” Now it was the scene in “Maguire” where Jerry finds out Kush’s dad, Beau Bridges, has signed with Bob Sugar (Jay Mohr). Name your cliché: “Don’t count your chickens until their hatched”… “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket…” 

 

What also galled me was that, here was a guy, Bonds, who was now mature and wanted to make peace with his past, only no publishers would give him a forum to really do it.

 

On top of everything, Penthouse and Playboy Magazines wanted to pay me in the three to $4,000 range for exclusive interviews and first-person articles about, and by, Bonds. Bonds, however, was unwilling to do anything unless he had a contract with a publisher. I know that does not make sense, but this did not change the fact that I was caught between a rock and hard place, like the Japanese gal in “Madame Butterfly”.

 

Sh-t, this is frustrating. I will have to postpone my daughter’s entrance to USC, my trips to New York to meet Charlie, the awards and the film deals and the celeb status. Catherine would just have to stay with Michael.

 

2001 has turned out to be the best of times and the worst of times, my summer of (dis)content. I landed the greatest world’s greatest athlete (best of times). No publishers wanted to hear about it (worst of times). I did change agents for the better, getting Mel Berger, out of the New York office of The William Morris Agency.

 

It should be noted that many writers think they have made it, and celebrate by breaking out the champagne and making large purchases, when they secure the representation of an agent. This is a falsehood. It is essential to have a good agent, but this is only one step. A big step, but do not confuse yourself with Neil Armstrong, because Houston, you still have a problem.

 

So, I am just struggling along, trying to maintain passion for my chosen profession, and finding myself again drawing inspiration from Liddy, Nixon, Lincoln and others who refused to fold when the road had some bumps in it.

 

It is like what Kevin Spacey says to Frank Whaley in “Swimming With the Sharks”: “Guys like us, we can’t sleep our way to the top. We have to fight, and scratch, and claw our way up the ladder.” Maybe my work will sell after my death, like the artists of the Modernist period. Maybe not. 

 

Hey, if I could sleep my way to the top, I would. But I cannot, so like another historical figure, Patton, I just have to believe that “I will be allowed to fulfill my destiny. His will be done.”

 

My experiences have led to some soul-searching. I have a better work ethic, am more honest, more arduous, and give more of myself than anybody I personally know, and still all I get for my efforts are hard knocks, hits, ill fortune. Why? You know things are bad when you sympathize with the Douglas character in “Falling Down”, but instead of becoming the Angry White Male, I have to ask if there is some defect in my personality to explain it. Surely one person cannot be the recipient of so much bad luck simply by <I>chance</I>.

 

I suppose at this point my concern is not that I shan’t succeed. I have too much talent and try too hard to simply <I>indefinitely continue</I> to roll snakeyes. No, my concern is that, like a soldier who has seen too much, lost so many comrades and sustained so many injuries, I may no longer have the capacity to enjoy the fruits of victory when it occurs.

 

Regrets? I have a few. As much as I love writing, sometimes I have to ask myself if I would do it all over again. If I knew in 1994, when I started the Belinsky screenplay and decided The Writer’s Life was for me, would I have committed to this much pain, rejection, and disappointment? Would I have done it had I foreseen all the tears, waking up in the middle of the night, resigned to a sleepless vigil of self-questioning angst? The feeling of smallness in a Universe where I still do not know my place? Would I have become a writer if I knew then that the economic pressures and uncertainties of this “career” would some day be the main reason true love would elude me? Would I want a life in which I feel my selfishness and desire to pursue my art has prevented me from fully living up to my parental responsibilities?

 

Would I have charted a course that has left me full of cynicism? I look at professional athletes who talk about pressure, overcoming hardships, and achieving goals despite a “lack of respect” from experts and opponents who “never gave us a chance,” and I hate myself for the loathing I feel for these pampered multi-millionaire men-children.

 

Pressure? Try being unemployed without income when your child needs braces and will be in college soon. Try the grinding, day-by-day, stomach-churning agony of dashed dreams. Try facing family and friends when your self-esteem is low and you feel as if you are visibly cloaked in failure, a cautionary tale.  

 

The fact is, I cannot advise anybody to do as I have done. That is because others would simply not be able to handle it. Too many weak hearts would contemplate suicide. The ability to come back, to fight and struggle and refuse to quit, is my greatest asset and something that separates me in a big way from the average Joe. It is why I will succeed.

 

You see, I am an egomaniac. I believe in my own personal greatness. I have experienced success, I like it, and I want it again like a drug. I am an eternal optimistic, so full of myself that I can sustain the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, and in the long run I hold near to me the words of Nietzche, who said that which “does not kill me makes me stronger.”

 

POST-SCRIPT: This philosophy sustained me as summer turned to fall. Finally, in mid-November, I landed a publisher for my Barry Bonds’ book. “Barry Bonds: Baseball’s Superman” hit bookstores in April, 2002. It sold out its first printing in a few short months and made some Best Seller lists. Of course, I did not have smooth sailing, because the publisher held off the subsequent re-print until the damn baseball players officially did not strike. Then we went into re-print and the book was nominated for a cassey Award for Besdt Baseball Book of 2002.

 

The cream, my friends, rises to the top.

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

DISTANT REPLAY

 

            One of my favorite and most popular regular features was a column called Distant Replay, in which I recalled events in sports history.

 

 

33 STRAIGHT!

 

After years of frustration, the 1971-72 Lakers finally exorcised their demons

 

 

This latest edition of “Distant Replay” only confirms what some of my loyal readers say is a serious case of “L.A. Homeritis." I believe that until Michael Jordan’s 1996 Chicago Bulls won 72 regular season games en route to the title, coach Bill Sharman’s 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers were the elite pro basketball team of all time

The Lakers set a pro sport consecutive game winning streak of 33 games that remains totally unchallenged to this day. They were 69-13 (best in league history until the Bulls), and won their first N.B.A. championship.

The mantel “Greatest Team of All Time” is a heady moniker, and in crowning the Lakers it is only fair to mention a few other contenders. Kudos go out Alex Hannum’s 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers (68-14), the Bill Russell/John Havlicek Boston Celtics teams of the 1960s, and Pat Riley’s “Showtime” Lakers of the 1980s.

Wilt Chamberlain joined up with Jerry West and Elgin Baylor after the 1968 season, but the team’s attitude changed significantly when Sharman took over in 1971. Interestingly, in a college basketball town in which basketball is spelled U-C-L-A, Sharman was one of three legendary Trojans who made their marks as coaches: Tex Winter and Hannum were the others. Not that Sharman was any slouch as an athlete, himself. He was a good enough baseball player to be sitting on the Brooklyn Dodgers bench when Bobby Thompson hit his “shot heard ‘round the world” in 1951, and was a Hall of Famer with the Celtics.           

The Lakers’ problem had never been ability. Their problem was ability—too much of it. With ability comes ego, and LA was not a big enough town for Baylor and Chamberlain to co-exist.   

Sharman was a strict disciplinarian, and his early-morning shoot-arounds were anathema to the late-sleeping Wilt (God rest his soul). After Baylor’s injuries forced him into an abrupt retirement after a few games, and the team’s 4-0 start made The Stilt realize they had a chance to win it all, Chamberlain sacrificed his snooze time for the good of the team.

"I approached Wilt," remembers Sharman, "and he explained that he usually slept until noon, but if it would help the team he'd try it. Once we started winning, Wilt gained confidence that the shoot-arounds worked."

Baylor’s departure placed a heavy load on Jim McMillan and Happy Hairston, but they turned out to be the kind of role players Sharman cherished. Ex-Bruin Gail Goodrich hooked up in the backcourt with West, who was still at the height of his game.

Sharman and West both scoffed at the "too much talent" label some placed on the Lakers in the 1960s.  "Baylor was one of the all-time greats," Sharman said. "I would have loved to have coached him when he was younger."

West basically felt the Chamberlain-Baylor fued was a "myth" created by the press. "I don't buy that," he said. "Some styles don't mesh, but the reality is that Elgin had reached a point in his career, as we all do, where with injuries you no longer can compete."

After a brief stumble, magic started to happen at the Forum, and it wasn’t named Earvin Johnson. The ultimate luxury arena at the time, it was packed for every game. The Lakers won five straight…nine straight…15 straight… 22…27…they just would not lose. Fall passed into winter, and winter was passing into a Southern California spring when Los Angeles took their 33-game winning streak against the Milwaukee Bucks.

That was the year Lew Alcindor changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. For those who missed the announcement, early-season perusal of the box scores left fans scratching their head wondering what injuries were keeping Lew out of the line-up…but who is this Jabbar guy rackin’ up 34 with 19 ‘bounds every night?

By the time of the big showdown, Kareem’s name was not a mystery, but stopping him was. Abdul-Jabbar made Chamberlain look old and the Bucks won big. It was only a temporary setback for the Lakers, who cruised to the end, breaking the 76ers single-season win record by a game. They set a league mark for victory margin over Golden State, 162-100, and never scored under the century mark in a single contest.

Chicago fell in four straight in the first round of the Play-Offs, but then came Milwaukee again. In the series’ opener, Los Angeles collapsed, scoring only 72 points in a game that had everybody convinced that the team would fall apart just like they did at that time every year. Everybody except the players.

"It was a frustrating game," remembers West. "We tried so hard, yet it seemed we couldn't even make a lay-up.  We had such a terrific road team, though, that we had confidence we could beat the Bucks."

Sharman was a calming influence. "I just told them that they had proved themselves to be the best team in the league," he explained.  The collapse may have occurred but for McMillan, who was a scoring machine in a desperate back-and-forth death struggle ultimately won by the Lakers, 135-134, to even things at 1-1. West, Chamberlain & Co., after catching their breath, began to play the kind of basketball that had gotten them this far in the first place.  L.A.’s dominance was ultimately apparent in their 4-2 series win.

Still, Walt Frazier and the New York Knickerbockers stood between Los Angeles and their first championship. The Knicks had broken their hearts two years prior, and ran away with the series’ opener. Again, the skeptics were out in force...”the Lakers don’t have heart”…”the Lakers can’t beat an East Coast team." This time, the skeptics were wrong.  L.A. flattened New York in four straight, winning game five in a runaway before an ecstatic home crowd.

In the jubilant winning clubhouse West, the superstar denied glory so many times over the years, looked far more relieved than ultimately happy.

"That may be true," Jerry told me. "It was enormously frustrating--to the point we felt cursed after all those years. The difference with that team was not only did we feel we could win any game, but we could, to be frank, dominate anybody.

So, Jerry, were the '72 Lakers the greatest team ever assembled?

"You can't compare eras," West answered diplomatically.  Sportswriters can, and this scribe casts his vote for L.A.

 

 

A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN

 

Penny Marshall's marvelous 1991 film about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which existed in the Midwest during World War II, is based on the true story of a small, yet talented, group of women athletes. Many years have passed since then, but those years have not diminished the delightful effect one of those "girls" still has on those lucky enough to meet her.

Annabelle "Lefty" Lee came from California, pitched in the league from 1944 to 1950, and threw the only perfect game in the league's history. There is something vaguely familiar about her southpaw pitching style, and that last name, Lee, evokes memories, too. Of course! Annabelle is the aunt of Bill "Spaceman" Lee, a former All-Star twirler for the Boston Red Sox, who credits Annabelle with teaching him how to pitch, in his 1984 autobiography, "The Wrong Stuff".

"I was born near the La Brea Tar Pits and played at North Hollywood High School," says the 78-year old Annabelle. "I played for the Sunland Beauties fast-pitch softball team in 1937, and Phillip K. Wrigley had players recruited for his league.

"What a lot of people don't understand is that Penny Marshall did a wonderful job with the movie, but they tried to show in one year, 1943, what happened over several seasons. We pitched underhand at first, then went to sidearm, and eventually overhand. The distances to the bases were different, and the ball decreased in size every year. Kids ask me `who portrayed you?', and I say, `nobody, it was a composite.'"

Annabelle's father had been a semi-pro baseball player in Los Angeles, who played with Don Drysdale's father.

"Little Don would tag along to games," she recalls.

"I played for the Minneapolis Millerettes," she says. "We had to play most of one year on the road. All we had was the clothes we came with, they wouldn't let us return to get our things. In 1945 I went to play for the Ft. Wayne Daisies, and in 1946 for the Peoria Redwings. I was a pitcher/first baseman, and I threw a perfect game vs. the Kenosha Comets on June 6, 1944."

"Lefty" was asked if she recalled whether anything else significant occurred on that date.

"My mind was focused on the game," was her response.

Why would a little event like the Allied invasion of Normandy break her concentration against the Kenosha Comets?

"I was paid $85 week," she says. "I'd been working at the Bank of America for $90 a month, plus it was more fun to play ball. We'd come home from the season, wait a month, then start practicing at Brookside Park <next to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena> with Peanuts Lowry and Lou Novikoff."

Some of the film's anecdotes were made up.

"We didn't have a bus driver who kicked dirt on us," she says. "We did have a chaperone who kept us in line. We'd put Limburger cheese on the lights, dead fish in somebody's bed. One gal I played with in LA would put blackjack gum over her teeth and grimace. There were a lot of funny little things, but I took it seriously. A lot of the girls used to sneak out at night. Tom Hanks' character was based on Jimmy Foxx, but Foxx didn't drink as much as people thought he did. We did have to go to charm school in 1943 and '44, where we learned to sit correctly. It was kind of comical. We'd play the Army teams, but switch batteries to make it fairer. Women just can't compete against men.

"I went to Spring Training in Cuba in 1947, and pitched in front of both Fulgencio Bautista and Fidel Castro. In 1949, Max Carey got together the American all-star team and we barnstormed Central America--Managua, Nicaragua; Costa Rica, Panama, Aruba, Caracas, Puerto Rico and Cuba. All the places had bullrings, and the stands were made of Adobe, hollowed out where the people sat. We mostly played on soccer fields, and there was always a sign reading, `no guns, no knives.' There'd be guards, and broken glass on top of the walls to prevent people from climbing over.

"In 1950 I got hurt sliding into home. I had a pinched nerve that caused partial paralysis, so they shipped me home. I got my amateur standing back and played softball until 1957, then got married and hung up my spikes."

The league broke up in 1954. What did baseball do for Lefty?

"The Army used to bivouac on the LA River," she says, "and a lot of girls would go down there and get in trouble, they'd be getting pregnant while I was doing something healthy. When we played we had chaperones and curfew, one hour after getting dressed after the game.  I met a lot of different people from different parts of the country."

Annabelle's story reminds one of the James Earl Jones character in "Field of Dreams", who says that baseball reminds people of "all that was once good, and can be again." What a beautiful game it is!

 

 

BREAKING THE TROJANS' STRANGLEHOLD

 

In 1979, Cal State Fullerton went to Omaha and won, changing the landscape of college baseball forever.

 

In 1975, Cal State Fullerton made their first appearance at the College World Series, but after two defeats the Titans' made a quick return home. "We were out of there so fast we could breathe the fumes of the plane that flew us there," says former coach Augie Garrido.

Prior to 1979, 11-time National Champion USC dominated college baseball. Since 1966, the only schools other than Southern Cal to win at Omaha had been Arizona State (1967, 1969, 1977), Texas (1975) and Arizona (1976).

1979 was a watershed year. Two California schools, Fullerton and Pepperdine, had gained the respect of college baseball insiders, but they remained under the radar screen of the media and most fans. With their funny-looking uniforms and disco-era hair, they would make they mark at Omaha, proving that small schools not known for football could compete with the big boys. They would break the Trojans' CWS stranglehold, one year after SC had dominated a tournament that had become Rod Dedeaux's personal showcase.

The emergence of Fullerton and Pepperdine ushered in a new era of parity in which schools like Miami, Louisiana State and Wichita State would reach for the Brass Ring. This created popularity for college baseball that helped fuel the rise of ESPN. 

             The Pepperdine Waves' had outstanding pitching, led by Teddy Pallas. Shortstop Tim Gloyd and second baseman Mike Gates formed a great double-play combo, and both players were base stealing threats. Outfielder Jay Schellin and catcher Chuck Fick were top players.

"We were a bunch of cowboys," recalls pitcher Brad Cole, now a popular actor on CBS' daytime drama "A Guiding Light".

"They were crazier than a bunch of loons," was former coach Dave Gorrie's assessment.

"I think we leveled the balance of power in California college baseball," said Garrido of his Fullerton squad. "As far as our breaking their dominant rein, I guess it's like running the four-minute mile. Once it's done, others do it. "

Garrido had to adjust after Fullerton lost the opener. They had to use ace pitcher Tony Hudson to save three games. Dave Weatherman failed to survive the first inning against Pepperdine on June 8, and his arm pained him. The Titans' had plenty of power, embodied by third baseman Tim Wallach, who would go on to a fine career with the Montreal Expos. All-American Sam Favata would not be so lucky, as he would see his pro career ended by a beanball that almost cost him his life.

"People were kind of rooting for us," says Gorrie, "we were considered the underdog. Any time we played Fullerton there was always the threat of a problem, we knew they were our enemies."

Pepperdine finally was eliminated on the second-to-last day, leaving a match-up of Arkansas' junior lefty Steve Krueger (10-1) and the Titans' Weatherman (14-2).

"It was all kind of a miracle," said Garrido. "We had a young pitching staff but no closers, so we had to use Tony. Dave started the night before and threw a lot of pitches. The next day rain was predicted, so when the press asked me who would start I said, `I'm going with the Weather Man.' They took that as meaning Weatherman, which is what I did."

Weatherman remembers his assignment differently from Garrido.

"As soon as the game was over, Garrido said to me, `Get a good night's rest, you're starting tomorrow,'" says Weatherman. "I knew what I could do, I just didn't want to let down my teammates. Fear of failure was my biggest motivation."

In a classic pitcher's duel, Krueger and Weatherman both went the distance. Fullerton prevailed, 2-1 to captured the National Championship. Garrido's team finished the season 60-14, and the tournament MVP was Hudson, who had a 2.67 ERA.

"Did we have to prove ourselves?" asks Weatherman. " Sure, but internally we knew we could play with anybody. It was, without a doubt the biggest moment of my life, and I'm proud to be part of the start of a great program."

Fullerton would win again in 1984, and the '95 squad that beat USC in the CWS title game may be the best college team ever. One could argue that the Titans' have been the top program in the country over the past 21 years. Pepperdine would win in 1992 (beating Fullerton in the final). The school recently honored the '79 squad with membership in their Hall of Fame.

ESPN now broadcasts the whole show from Omaha, with the championship game on network TV. The growth of college baseball can be attributed in part to two little schools who forged a lot of respect and put themselves squarely on the map.

 

 

DISCO DEMOLITION RE-DUX

 

"The Last Days of Disco" was a boring film, except for the symbolic footage of Bill Veeck's infamous Disco Demolition.

Today, colorful-shirt-wearing, wig-adorned retro bands are getting 40- and 30-somethings to dance to the sounds of K.C. and the Sunshine Band in lava lounges across the fruited plain.

John Travolta's "Saturday Night Fever" was a by-product of a time when the post-hippie Modernists assuaged the guilt they felt about making too much dough after avoiding Vietnam, by doing toot at Studio 54.  Kids, do not let these moral relativist Clintonistas tell you their generation was any better than today's so-called "slackers."

I digress.

To those Searchers a few years removed from the rioters who made the Democrats' '68 Windy City experience so fun, it was also the age of big, outdoor rock extravaganzas. Groups like Led Zeppelin, The Who and the Stones' headlined all-day festivals, and it was these bad-hair buffoons that Veeck targeted on July 12, 1979.

Veeck was baseball's original "shock owner." He spawned the likes of Charlie Finley, who gave us hot pants-wearing ballgirls. The spirit of Veeck was in Cleveland on .10 Cent Beer Night, which spurred a riot on the shores of Lake Eerie.

A riot is what they had in Chicago on Disco Demolition night. The rioters' lacked the intensity of the Chicago Seven, and the cops' were not quite as "aggressive" in breaking things up, but it was a riot nevertheless.

The Chisox of that era were, uh…not good. Veeck dressed them like clowns in faux "old-timers" uniforms. At one point they wore shorts. People were not drawn to Comiskey Park by great baseball, and the kids who came to a double-header against Detroit were not fans of the National Pastime.

The promotion was actually devised by local disc jockey Steve Dahl. Fans were admitted for .98 cents, a figure that teamed with WLUP, a station found at 98 on the FM dial. Part of the gimmick called for each fan to bring a disco record (remember records?), thousands of which were to be burned between games.

50,000 showed up. Dahl brought a "fire goddess" named Lorelei. She was a blonde poster girl known for her obvious assets. The ritual was supposed to be held under fire department supervision in center field. After the incident with Mrs. O'Leary's cow, Chicago officials should have known that anything to do with fire ought to be avoided at all cost, but summer is Silly Season in ChiTown.

The fans could not wait. They began slinging records, Frisbee-style onto the field, causing the first game to be halted time and again. Detroit won it, 4-1.

Moments after Dahl and Lorelei exited halfway through the 30-minute period between games, the first invaders began skipping over the low box-seat railings. In a couple minutes, 5,000 to 7,0000 youths had swarmed the field, many carrying obscene banners, which had been allowed to hang from the upper deck during the first game. The smell of marijuana wafted upward.

Veeck, surrounded by security, made his way to the field in a fruitless attempt to convince the youths to vacate. Broadcaster Harry Caray took the mike, but the Pied Piper of Chicago's pleas fell on deaf ears. The mob eventually dispersed because they ran out of things to do.

Helmeted police might have thought it was just like old times, but instead of Tom Hayden stoking anti-war protesters to throw bags of feces at Chicago's finest, they had less than 1,000 to clear away. Still, it was déjà vu all over again for some, who could not resist the opportunity to swing clubs at the miscreants. A few were handcuffed, but the entire thing was symbolic of the whole sorry generation. Like their decade, Disco Demolition ended not with a bang but with a whimper.

The players, however, were afraid to go on the field, and their objections, combined with some damage done to the playing surface, influenced the umpire's decision to call off the second game.    

Veeck was like the parent who, after finding out his son totaled the family car, dismisses the damage as merely a scratch. "I am amazed, shocked, and chagrined. I think the grounds for forfeiting are specious at best. There was nobody on the field during the playing of the <first> game."

Veeck (as in Wreck) apparently thought a hard vinyl sphere traveling at breakneck speed towards a player's skull was not cause for great concern.

"It's true there was some sod missing," said the Pollyanna Man. "Otherwise nothing was wrong."

The White Sox, in memory of Veeck, plan to host a "Burn Your Old Rap CDs" promotion prior to the opener vs. Texas April 3, despite a threatened protest by The Reverend Jesse Jackson. Reverend Jackson chastised White Sox management for their "insensitive dismissal of the importance of African-American culture, by virtue of this quasi-lynch mob `event.' I am outraged!" 

April Fool's!

 

 

THE ANGELS' CURSE

 

Weirdness and disaster were in the air (and on the ground) in October, 1986.

 

The Angels and the Red Sox? Oh, man! Talk about a riddle, surrounded by a puzzle, wrapped inside an enigma…

These are the two most star-crossed teams in baseball here.  

The Curse of the Bambino began when Red Sox owner Harry Frazee traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees in order to fund a 1920 Broadway play called "No No Nanette".

The Angels' Curse started when they moved from LA to Orange County in 1966, losing their character in suburbia. Just a few of the disasters to befall the franchise include:

*Relief ace Minnie Rojas being paralyzed in a car accident in 1968.

*Chico Ruiz threatening Alex Johnson with a gun in the clubhouse in 1971.

*Mike Miley, an Angel from 1975-76, dying in a car accident.

*Lyman Bostock signing an enormous free agent contract in 1978, just before being shot dead by a jealous husband.

The team's mascot should be a black cat.

The Curse reared its ugly head in the 1990s.

 

Can you say Tony Phillips and crack motel? An overturned bus on the Jersey Turnpike?

"The war to end all wars" in 1918 is still a more recent development than any World Series victory won by Boston.

So when these guys got together in the 1986 Play-Offs, it was Bad Karma. The Witching Hour. You could just feel it, something had to go terribly wrong. Watch out for that iceberg! Is that a man with a gun in the window of the Texas Book Depository? Is the space shuttle supposed to emit that much smoke?

What did you expect out of a club managed by Gene Mauch? This guy was wrapped tighter than Chef in "Apocalypse Now". You could not pull a pin out of his butt with a tractor. They called him Little Napoleon, and like the French Emperor, he had already experienced his personal Waterloo in 1964, when he pitched Philadelphia's Jim Bunning and Chris Short back-to-back-to-back for 10 losses in a row, allowing St. Louis to win the pennant.

He had been exiled to Elba (Montreal, actually), but now the Fremont High infielder was at home, tanned and relaxed, a new man.

Yeah, like Richard Nixon.

Still, California won the West at 92-70.

Boston cruised the East, led by "Rocket Roger" Clemens, who won his first 14 decisions en route to a 24-victory season that would earn him A.L. MVP and Cy Young honors.

The team's split the first two at Fenway, and California won game three.

In game four on Saturday night, Boston manager John McNamara went to the Mauch playbook, pitching Clemens on short rest. Rocket lost it just in time, blowing a 3-0 ninth inning lead, 4-3. This was the beginning of the Clemens' Curse, which he would not end until he switched to Yankee pinstripes in 1999.

Neither team seemed even slightly willing to win on Sunday afternoon at the Big A.

Red Sox outfielder Dave Henderson looked like Charlie Chaplin in "Modern Times", stumbling and confused while an innocent popup dropped in for a double, then letting a Bobby Grich drive bounce out of his mitt and over the fence for a homer, giving California the lead.

Ahead 5-2, champagne was brought into the Angel clubhouse in the ninth.

Don Baylor's two-run homer made it 5-4.

Boston relief pitcher Joe Sambito said "wait" to the security guards who were beginning to pack the bullpen equipment.

Mike Witt got Dwight Evans for the second out. Gary Lucas came in to pitch to Rich Gedman, who asked that a center field banner--ANOTHER BOSTON CHOKE--be removed. Lucas hit Gedman.

Mauch brought the right-handed Donnie Moore in to face the right-handed Hendu.

Moore had that "dear in the headlights" look working to Henderson. He got two strikes on him, just for some drama, before sticking a "nothing" forkball in his wheelhouse. Henderson's homer made it 6-5, Boston.

Hey, forget this part? California tied it in the bottom of the ninth, b