Father & Son Sports Talk

Back by popular demand…

Tune in Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. for another riveting episode of Father & Son Sport Talk, the wildly popular Blog Talk Radio show featuring Mark Yost and his son, George.

AngeoloYankeesHoustonToday’s special guest will be Angelo from Queens, a lifelong New Yorker, a lifelong Yankee fan, and a member of Bats Conservation International. They’ll discuss where Derek Jeter should bat in the 2014 Yankee lineup, the state of Yankee pitching, and any other breaking sports news that happens to strike their fancy.
This segment of Father & Son Sports Talk is brought to you by the Chat-a-Whyle restaurant, 28 Liberty Street in Bath, New York. Stop in and see new owners Kevin and Rene Bixby and grab a cup of coffee and one of their signature sticky buns. The Chat-a-Whyle Restaurant, so comfy you’ll think you’re in your own kitchen, in downtown Bath.

Memorable Scenes from The Cartel: Manny & Jorge

From Chapter 3:

The CartelHe also knew from surveillance photos that she always parked it in the driveway, about halfway between the curb and the front of the garage. So in the middle of the night, Manny strapped two claymores to the driver’s side frame of the luxury SUV. When the congressman’s wife came out in her slippers and robe to get the Sunday morning paper – like she did every Sunday – Jorge, who was across the street in the back seat of their rental car, shot her in the abdomen with a 9mm pistol. When the congressman heard the gunshot and then heard his wife scream, he came running out, followed by their 9-year-old daughter.

They hadn’t factored in the daughter, but without so much as flinching Manny set off the two claymores, essentially turning the congressman’s front yard into a 20-foot wide kill zone. The only way the police really knew it was the congressman and his wife were the engraved wedding rings they found in the large puddle of dark red goo that was left on the sidewalk. The police didn’t even know the daughter was a victim until one of the neighbors asked, “Where’s Michelle?”

Memorable Lines from The Cartel

From Chapter 1:

The CartelWhile the two young paramedics hooked up the heart monitor to the corpse that 15 minutes ago had been Henry Olmos, Nick turned to Marco.

“Ever remember anything like this happening here when you were a kid?”

“Never,” Marco said.
\
“Me neither.”

The Roy Green Show

Busy media day today.

PadresGeorge Yost and I will be hosting another installment of Father & Son Sports Talk today on Blog Talk Radio at Noon CDT. Among the topics will be the latest legal maneuvers in the Alex Rodriguez-steroids case, the price of going to the Super Bowl, and whether or not Kevin Bixby is getting too fat by keeping all of Rene’s Christmas cookeis within Broome County.

Then, at 4 p.m. EDT, I’ll be appearing on The Roy Green Show to discuss whether or not fighting in the NHL is still acceptable, what to make of Major League Baseball’s new ban on home-plate collisions, and whether or not David Strom is cuter as a fat man.

Roy GreenThe Roy Green Show, eminateing from north of the border, can be found on the Corus Radio Network.

Tune into both shows for a rollicking good time.

Meet the Characters of The Cartel: Jim Seymour

From Chapter 5:

Gerard had to focus on how to increase the potency of Legal Weed, which he’d already decided was going to be his defining achievement as the CEO of Costello Labs. This is where Jim Seymour came in.

The CartelJim had been the chairman of Costello Labs before Gerard took the helm. In fact, Jim Seymour had been ousted by Gerard Pearson in a bit of an underhanded coup. No one quite knew all the details, but it was widely understood that Jim Seymour had left Costello Labs with a sour taste in his mouth that was not at all alleviated by his $140 million severance package. But Jim Seymour was smart, and in many ways he was just as ambitious as Gerard. The difference was, Jim Seymour had scruples.

So while he’d been bitter about his departure, he was smart enough to keep his hand in the game. Jim’s long-term goal was to challenge Bob Dwyer for his seat in Congress. As chairman of the largest employer in Lake County, Jim Seymour had been as politically active as any Fortune 100 CEO in the Chicago suburbs. After he left Costello Labs, he remained a regular at political fundraisers and strategy retreats. He even hosted a few events of his own at the Onwentsia Club, Lake Forest’s WASPiest private golf club.

Jim Seymour also opened up his own consulting firm, mostly advising local congressmen and state representatives. But when he learned that Costello Labs had negotiated the exclusive rights to grow Legal Weed, he saw an opportunity to expand both his political consultancy and his influence. Gerard Pearson, who had twice as many enemies as he had friends, saw the affable Jim Seymour as an asset that he could use to help him solve the potency problem of Legal Weed.

Meet the Characters of The Cartel: Tony Savino

From Chapter 15:

The entourage followed Nick Mattera into Savino’s Italian Market, down the center aisle to the meat case in the back. Nick lifted the folding counter, walked behind the butcher blocks and into the back room where Tony Savino conducted most of his illegal business.

The CartelAlbert Apicella, one of Tony’s deputies, was in there, sitting across from Tony at the folding card table that had acted as Tony’s unofficial desk for more than 20 years. They each had a cup of cappuccino that Tony’s counter girl, Angela, had made for them, and a small plate of biscotti. Tony was smoking a cigar and punching figures into a $5 Texas Instruments calculator with extra-large keys. In front of him were betting slips from the gambling parlors he ran up and down the North Shore, and stacks of twenties, fifties and hundreds. Nardini guessed it was about thirty-thousand dollars. When Tony looked up to see who’d walked in, his cigar nearly fell out of his mouth.

After thinking about it for a second, he shrugged and said, “OK, Nicky, I’ll hear what your friends have to say.”

“Thanks Tony,” he said. “This is…”

“I know everybody,” Tony said as he stood up.

“Mr. Seymour, nice to see you again.”

“Again?” Nardini asked.

“Believe it or not, smart ass, Mr. Seymour and I go to some of the same fund raisers.”

“I don’t have to tell you, Mr. Seymour,” Tony said, “you’re not the first politician to come back here on business.”

“I’m sure I’m not,” Jim Seymour said.

“You, on the other hand,” he said, turning to Benny Hill, “are a first.”

“No cop’s ever been back here,” Tony said.

“No honest cop,” Benny said.

“Hey you,” Tony said. “Be nice. Didn’t your mother ever tell you don’t speak ill of the dead?”

“Benny was in the Marines with me, Tony,” Nick said. “He’s with ATF now, but has agreed that whatever we say here today will be off the record.”

“It better be,” Tony said. “Or you see that big galoot over there,” he said, pointing to Albert, who didn’t look up from counting the stacks of hundred dollar bills in front of him. “He’s gonna take one of those meat cleavers my guys are using to cut up those ribs and stick it right in the top of your head.”

“Easy, Tony,” Nick said.

“Easy nothing,” Tony said with a grin. “He knows I’m just teasing him.”

Turning to Rachel, Tony’s features softened, like every man who looks at a woman that sexy and beautiful.

“And you,” Tony said. “You’re welcome in my place any time,” he said, kissing her hand. “Why’d you let this big dummy get you involved in this shit?”

“I was kinda involved already, Tony,” she said.

“Too bad. You’re a sweet kid.”

“OK, what are we gonna talk about?” Tony said.

“Angie!!!” he yelled before anyone could answer. In two seconds, the phone on the wall rang. Tony punched Line 1, which was blinking.

“Bring a tray of cappuccinos and biscotti back for our guests.”

“Right away, Tony.”

“Throw that sissy shit away,” Tony said, looking at Nick and Nardini’s Starbucks cups. “What the fuck’s the matter with you guys. I thought I raised you better.”

“OK, now what are we gonna talk about?”

“Like I said, Tony,” Nick began. “Everything here today is off the record. But I think we all have the same problem. And if we share everything we know, I think we can come up with a solution.”

“I’m listening,” he said.

Benny Hill started to explain the connection between Costello Labs, Strain B and the Mexican cartel. About five minutes into his presentation, Angela came in with the coffee and snacks.

“That’s a good girl,” Tony said, giving her a peck on the cheek. “Thank you. Now give us some privacy.”

“Yes, Tony.”

As Benny began to explain the nexus of drugs again, Tony put his hand up and looked at Rachel.

“Do you know everything he knows?”

“I do, Tony.”

“Then you tell me. I’d rather here it from you.”

Rachel proceeded to tell Tony about their meeting at the White House. As the story unfolded, everyone seated around the table could see Tony’s anger building as his face got redder and redder. Amazingly, he never raised his voice or lost his temper. Every once in a while, he would interrupt and ask a question. Whoever could give the best answer spoke.

When everything had been explained to Tony, he just sat there for five minutes and digested it all. No one said a word.

“So let me get this straight,” he said, after a long pause. “This British scumbag they got running Costello Labs, gets the exclusive government contract to produce this Legal Weed shit, and is making billions of dollars for his company, and that’s not enough?”

“That’s right, Tony,” Jim Seymour said.

“And they call us ‘organized crime?’”

Only Tony and Albert laughed.

“So now, this limey fuck gets in bed with the cartel, and for some reason the cartel is fucking him over on this deal?”

“That’s right,” Benny said.

“Do we know why?”

“We have a theory,” Benny said. “But maybe you’d rather hear it from Rachel, since she was the one who laid it out for the president.”

“Wow!” Tony said. “I’m gonna get the same briefing as the President of the United States. What a fuckin’ country. Go ahead sweetheart, tell me.”

“We think Banuelos is double-crossing Pearson because he’s gonna take Strain B and market it worldwide all by himself.”

“Yeah, we know that,” Tony said.

“How the fuck do you know that?” Benny asked.

“I got my sources, too, dipshit,” he said.

“What sources are those?” Benny asked.

“I’ll tell you when the time is right,” Tony said. “Don’t worry. We’re gonna get these scumbags. But we’re gonna do it my way. And, believe it or not, I’m gonna need your help,” he said, looking at Benny.
“What kind of help?”

The Quattrocento in 3-D

Great piece on today’s WSJ Leisure and Arts page by contributor Karen Wilkin, looking at a new exhibit at the Louvre focusing on the art of the early Rennaissance.

Here is one of the key passages:

Say “Italian Renaissance” and we think about works whose idealized naturalism attests to a new fascination with the particulars of the real world and its inhabitants, and, at the same time, to a new appreciation of the art of antiquity. We think about the way forms are modeled with increasing conviction, beginning with Giotto in the 1300s, and about how space is rendered more and more believably, after the invention of mathematical linear perspective in the early 1400s. Together, these associations can suggest a conception of art as a two-dimensional phenomenon that aspired to evoke the appearance of the world we inhabit by fictive means—in other words, “Italian Renaissance” can seem synonymous with painting.

QuattroBlame Leonardo da Vinci for this. Though he made sculpture occasionally, the legendary polymath was convinced of the superiority of painting. “Painting requires more thought and skill and it is a more marvelous art than sculpture,” he wrote in his notebooks in the late 1400s. Why? Painting can depict the ephemeral and the transparent, where sculpture cannot. Sculptural form is physically articulated and depends upon the way light falls upon those articulations, while painting can present the effect of sculptural form, illuminated in any way the painter wishes, on a flat surface. Sculpture is literal; painting is an illusion.

Leonardo’s convictions are challenged by the provocative, informative exhibition “The Springtime of the Renaissance: Sculpture and the Arts in Florence 1400-1460,” seen first in Florence and now at the Louvre. The show concentrates on sculpture, which the curators describe as “the art that flowered first and more than any other” during the extraordinary period of exploration, invention, discovery and creativity that Giorgio Vasari baptized the “rebirth” of culture in Florence. The exhibition’s thesis is that sculpture led the way, in the first half of the quattrocento, providing a means both for assimilating the influence of classical antiquity—which was known chiefly through sculpture—and for translating that influence into a new language.

Meet the Characters of The Cartel: Jeff Ponzinetti

From Chapter 5:

What Tony Savino wouldn’t tolerate in Highwood was meth.

The CartelThe first time he got wind of someone selling “that farmer shit” as he called it, he put Marco and Jeff Ponzinetti on it. Ponzinetti was the director of Public Works in Highwood. But his real boss – everyone’s real boss in Highwood – was Tony Savino.

People who didn’t know Jeff Ponzinetti would often underestimate him. He didn’t look all that dangerous. He drove around town in a beat-up, white, extended-cab pickup truck that had more dents and scratches than the shovels and pick axes that rattled around in the bed. His jeans were always streaked with grease, dirt and who knows what else. His shirts were filthy (sometimes ripped). He wore a big half-carat diamond-stud earring in his left ear, usually had a two-day growth of stubble on his face, and wore his hair in a classic 1980s mullet that he sometimes dyed with purple and pink racing stripes. He was an odd bird, but incredibly smart and resourceful. Anyone who underestimated this tall, skinny, scruffy-looking guy was making a huge mistake. Jeff Ponzinetti may have been half the size of Marco Toscano, but he was twice as dangerous. He could take a guy down and really hurt him in a matter of seconds. And most of the time, the poor bastard would never see it coming.

About five years ago, word got back to Tony that a guy was dealing meth in Teddy O’Brien’s. He told Ponzinetti and Marco to “take care of it.” They cornered the dealer in the bar.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doin’ here?” Marco asked before ushering him out the door and into Ponzinetti’s truck. They took the dealer over to the Public Works garage on the edge of Fort Sheridan, where no one could hear him scream.

They let him live, so that he could tell other meth dealers not to step foot inside Highwood. But they had fun with Ponzinetti’s tool bench before they sent him bloodied and bruised back to wherever he came from.

“You think the quarter-inch hurt going through your hand, motherfucker,” Marco snickered as he changed drill bits. “Wait till I put this nine-sixteenths through your kneecap.”

Meet the Characters of The Cartel: Legal Weed

From Chapter 5:

As good as the program was for his company’s bottom line, Gerard Pearson quickly saw that the president’s experiment in legalized drugs had several fundamental flaws. Legal Weed captured about 45% of the drug-buying market overnight. Gerard wished that all of his new-drug launches went nearly as well. But after the initial surge, the figure didn’t move for months. Legal Weed was basically stuck at 45% of market share.

The Cartel“We’re not quite sure why the market share has stagnated, Mr. Pearson,” said Nancy Gusterine, the vice president of marketing for Legal Weed.

“I’ll tell you why,” Gerard said, slamming his palm on the top of the conference room table. “The figure hasn’t moved because 45% is all we’re gonna get. Those are the people who like legal marijuana. They like it because it’s safe, they pay the tax on it, and there’s no hassle from the coppers.”

None of this surprised Gerard. He’d seen the fundamental problem with the program from the start. It was two problems, actually. One, the marijuana that Costello Labs was growing to government specifications wasn’t nearly as potent as the pot that was being sold on the streets. Second, the cartels weren’t just going away like the president and his libertarian followers had said they would. They were fighting back.

Hard.

The cartels had lowered their street price, increased their distribution. Like any smart business owners, they weren’t going to simply give up their most-lucrative market. This was why Costello Labs had only 45% of the market and little or no hope of growing that share anytime soon. Not a good thing for a company that had to defend its EPS to shareholders and The Wall Street Journal every quarter.

Art for Sale

Excellent piece in today’s WSJ on the dilemma facing the Detroit Institure of Arts. Here are a few key graphs:

DIAThe DIA’s predicament is unprecedented. No American museum has ever been pressed to bail out its bankrupt hometown. Any sale would violate two cardinal principles of museum ethics: the doctrine that museums hold art in trust for future generations and that, therefore, artworks may be sold only to purchase more art.

Nor has any museum been at the center of the clash between competing definitions of the public good, forced to defend itself from critics who sketch the to-sell-or-not-to-sell quandary in moral terms. These people argue that art cannot be spared while retired police officers and bus drivers are forced to lose part of their pensions—even though the proceeds from art sales would be shared with lawyers, consultants and other creditors and amount to pennies per person.

Little wonder, then, that this complex situation has elicited numerous opinions that are so disconnected from reality that they amount to magical thinking.

Last month, for example, at a panel discussion in New York on the DIA’s plight hosted by the International Foundation for Art Research, Richard Feigen, a well-known New York art dealer, suggested that no one would be so unprincipled as to buy art from the museum. The audience applauded, until David Nash, another well-known New York dealer, broke the spell. Plenty of people in Russia, the Middle East and China would be interested in buying the DIA’s masterpieces, he rightly said.

At the same event, the DIA’s director, Graham W.J. Beal, said he was “optimistic” that the museum would escape unscathed, citing the 22-page opinion issued by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette in June. It declared that “no piece in the collection may be sold, conveyed or transferred to satisfy City debts or obligations” because the art is held in public trust. Yet Mr. Schuette’s opinion is far from impregnable: It may not withstand the near-certain court challenge from creditors.

For their part, Detroit’s creditors—perhaps eyeing last month’s sale of Francis Bacon’s 1969 triptych of Lucien Freud for $142.4 million—are unrealistically expecting billions of dollars from the DIA. Yet the DIA owns no contemporary artworks of similar caliber; its most important objects are Impressionist and Old Master works, such as Rembrandt’s “Visitation” (1640), markets where demand is lower, buyers fewer and prices generally not as high.