Paul Williams, Still Alive

WilliamsCaught the 2011 documentary, “Paul Williams, Still Alive” on Showtime the other night.

Having grown up in the 1970s and seen Paul Williams in his full glory, I expected to tune in and mostly laugh. But I found it surprisingly good. Many poignant moments and well worth watching.

Most surprising were his accolades. I knew that he was one of the most prolifice songwriters of the 1960s and ’70s, but when you see his list of hits, it’s really amazing.

Again, the doc is highly recommended.

Dodgers TV and MLB Revenue Sharing

Los_Angeles_DodgersInteresting piece on the L.A. Times Dodgers blog about the team’s new TV deal and how it plays into MLB’s revenue-sharing scheme.

Basically, it puts the Dodgers in the same league as the Yankees in terms of both payroll and media rights.

The major difference is that for $300 million in L.A., you get Vin Scully. A bargain, IMHO.

The Economics of the Super Bowl

Roy GreenI’ll be on The Roy Green Show today, talking about the misleading economics of the Super Bowl.

In short, the NFL says the economic impact of hosting a Super Bowl is about $300 million. Serious sports economists say it’s closer to $30 million, for a whole host of reasons.

Tune in to find out why, on the Corus Radio Network in Canada at 3:30 p.m. EDT.

Sports Heroes?

LewisGreat piece in today’s New York Post, reminding readers about exactly what happened in the Ray Lewis murder trial. The story is important for two reasons:

1. In the next week, we will be barraged with news stories about how much Ray Lewis is an icon of the game. Indeed, as the Post story points out, “Lewis will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in five years and is considered a lock. It’s widely rumored that ESPN wants to hire him as a color commentator, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said he wants to hire Lewis as a special adviser, citing him as a “tremendous voice of reason.”

And all these years later, Ray Lewis holds no regrets about what happened that night in Atlanta. “If I had to go through all of that over again . . . I wouldn’t change a thing,” he said recently. “Couldn’t. The end result is who I am now.”

2. Ray Lewis is not alone. There are all sorts of athletes who sacrafice everything — academics, their families — to reach the pinnacle of their sport, often in dishonest ways. Do people in other walks of life do this? Certainly. But they’re not held up as role models by a sports media culture that often overlooks their worst personal traits to write 1,200 words about their jump shot.

I was ravaged last year when I wrote a piece for the Chicago Tribune, “Derrick Rose Is No Role Model.” I simply pointed out that inner-city kids should not be looking up to Rose as some sort of hometown hero. He cheated on his ACT exams to get into Memphis, the entire season he was there was vacated, yet he went on to sign a $100 million contract with the Chicago Bulls.

Anyway, read the Ray Lewis piece and remember all these facts when the sports media is telling you what a great guy he is.

Hooked on Classic Fishing Lures

HaskellHere is my latest in the WSJ Weekend section.

Ernest Hemingwayand Zane Grey are two of the more well-known names in big-game fishing. But serious collectors at the Florida International Tackle Show in Daytona Beach in early March are likely to be more interested in the names Billinghurst and Kovalovsky.

Arthur Kovalovsky was a Hollywood auto mechanic who died in 1958 and whose custom-made fishing reels are highly sought after. In 2007, Lang’s Auction of Waterville, N.Y., sold an 1859 side-mount fly reel made by gun maker William Billinghurst for $40,000, believed to be the highest price ever for a fishing reel at auction.
Lang’s, about 100 miles west of Albany, is a leader in the tackle field. In 2003, it sold an 1859 copper Giant Haskell Minnow lure with a revolving tail for $101,200. “It’s the only lure of that size and style known to exist,” said Jim Schottenham of Lang’s, which holds two big tackle sales a year and has a database of more than 30,000 customers in 44 countries. “It’s the Holy Grail of fishing lures.”

Tackle collectors tend to gravitate toward a particular era or artist. For instance, fly rods made by Lyle Dickerson have skyrocketed recently, with originals going for upward of $10,000. A reel made by the vom Hofes, German immigrants who set up shop in New York in the 1850s, can bring $25,000 or more.

The International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST), which bills itself as the largest tackle show, runs in July in Orlando, Fla. The Daytona Beach show will include more than 300 tables of antique lures, reels, rods, creels and fish decoys.

As with other collectibles, celebrity links sell. Adventure novelist Grey (“Riders of the Purple Sage”) was a pioneer of the sport, working with Kovalovsky and others to develop better gear. Collector Ed Pritchard owns three Grey reels. Lang’s sold a flag from his boat for more than $24,000.

Hemingway was an eccentric sportsman: He often used a Thompson machine gun to shoot sharks that were feeding on his catch. Tackle that once belonged to him is very rare, because most of his personal items were stolen from a trunk Hemingway shipped from Havana, Cuba, to his home in Idaho shortly before he killed himself in 1961. But interest in his sports gear is high, given that one of the author’s leather game bags inscribed “From Ernest and Mary Hemingway, Bag of Tricks, Best Always, Papa”—sold last fall at a Bonhams auction for $12,500.

3,000 Years of Beautiful Tradition from Moses to Sandy Koufax

KoufaxInteresting piece in the L.A. Times Dodger blog about Sandy Koufax rejoining the team as a special adviser.

It not only adds to the Dodgers’ already-busy offseason, but I think adds even more pressure for them to do phenominally well this season. As some pundits have said, anything less than a 90-win season will be considered a failure.

Here are a few of impressive Hall of Fame stats put up by the graduate of Lafayette High School in Brooklyn:

He retired at the peak of his career, and in 1972 became the youngest player ever elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, aged 36 years and 20 days.[1]

Koufax’s career peaked with a run of six outstanding seasons from 1961 to 1966, before arthritis in his left elbow ended his career prematurely at age 30. He was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1963. He also won the 1963, 1965, and 1966 Cy Young Awards by unanimous votes, making him the first 3-time Cy Young winner in baseball history and the only one to win 3 times when the award was for all of baseball, not just one league. In each of his Cy Young seasons, Koufax won the pitcher’s triple crown by leading the NL in wins, strikeouts, and earned run average. Koufax’s totals would also have led the American League in those seasons.[2][3][4][5]

Koufax was the first major leaguer to pitch four no-hitters (including the eighth perfect game in baseball history). Despite his comparatively short career, Koufax’s 2,396 career strikeouts ranked 7th in history as of his retirement, trailing only Warren Spahn (2,583) among left-handers. Koufax and Nolan Ryan are the only two pitchers inducted into the Hall of Fame who had more strikeouts than innings pitched.

Also, here is Vin Scully’s call of Koufax’s 1965 perfect game.

Islamic Art at the Louvre

LouvreExcellent piece on today’s Wall Street Journal Leisure and Arts page (where else?) on the new Islamic wing at the Louvre.
Dragged George to the new Islamic wing at the Met last year. Sounds like I’ll have to drag him here, too.
Here is an excerpt from the Journal piece:

In contrast to the spectacular architecture by Mario Bellini and Rudy Ricciotti, the installation is understated, an elegant version of open-storage: objects grouped in long glass cases; larger pieces—carved steles, inlaid doors, stone latticed windows—clustered on low pedestals; and architectural fragments affixed to partitions. The flooring is dark, the passageways plain and the lighting democratic, giving shards of earthenware as much attention as finely woven rugs from Iran, a jewel-encrusted dagger from Mughal India or 14th-century enameled blown-glass lamps from Egypt and Syria that are about as close to numinous as objects can get.

The only special treatment afforded masterpieces are smaller, more private cases. In one, a cylindrical ivory box barely 6 inches tall teems with intricate carvings. Made in 968 for the youngest son of the Caliph of Cordoba, it features men variously listening to music, plucking dates or nabbing eggs from a falcon’s nest. Elsewhere, a lion attacks a bull, goats butt heads, men wrestle and no fewer than 17 falcons populate trees.

Drinking With Men

DrinkingReviewed an outstanding new book, “Drinking With Men,” By Rosie Schaap.

It’s a great read. I highly recommend it.

Here’s an excerpt from my review that ran in the WSJ on Saturday.

“More than anywhere else,” she writes, “bars are where I’ve figured out how to relate to others and how to be myself. They’ve not only shaped my identity, they’ve shaped my point of view—one that is profoundly optimistic about human kindness despite a healthy dose of skepticism. And I challenge anyone who becomes a regular at their neighborhood bar not to feel the same way.”

It’s also clear that such late-night self-discovery has come at a price for Ms. Schaap, the daughter of famed sportswriter and broadcaster Dick Schaap and the “Drink” columnist for the New York Times Magazine. She is clearly addicted—not to the booze but to the bons viveurs and oddball characters of New York bar life. Bars seem to be almost as much an emotional crutch for her as the next drink is for a sot. By her own admission, she has become so dependent on having a place at whatever bar she currently calls home that her life at the bar is, essentially, her life. Ms. Schaap knows this and is, as they say, OK with it.

Talking Super Bowl on The Roy Green Show

Roy GreenI’ll be on The Roy Green Show this Sunday at 3:30 p.m. EDT, talking about the business and economics of the Super Bowl.
Tune in on the Corus Radio Network.

Amazingly, People Are Still Buying ‘Soft Target’

Came across a recent review on Amazon of my debut novel, “Soft Target,” on Amazon.

Apparently, people are still buying it — and liking it.

Look for the sequel, “The Cartel,” in a few weeks. UT3PWdRLpAm5htK


Reviewed by Kristie I. for Readers Favorite

“Soft Target: A Nick Mattera
Novel,” written by Mark Yost, is a breath-taking, high-energy novel that will
leave readers wanting more! Nick is back home from being overseas with the
Marine Corps, but he is still serving his neighborhood and country as a
firefighter. Nick finds himself dealing with issues of all kinds as two
terrorists have also traveled to the United States and to Chicago where they are
plotting more acts on Americans. In addition, the firehouse where Nick works is
in danger of being closed and Nick’s relationship with Rachel adds various
twists as well.

Yost pulls in so much into this story including romance,
relationship issues, politics, and terrorism; issues that are all prevalent in
today’s society. They have made the characters so real and the story really
suspenseful. Nick is a well-developed character and a hero who will hopefully
star in many more books! Although there are many different things going on at
once throughout this novel, it is very easy to follow. Having the date and time
with each section helps to keep track of the events and the timing of the story.
This book really opened my eyes to the life of a firefighter and the climate of
firehouses as well as the general life in Chicago. The fear and tension of
possible terrorist acts along with political tension at the city level adds
together resulting in heightened emotions throughout the novel. This is a
well-written novel and I eagerly await the additions to this series!